The rising EDM duo's hard work has earned them collaborations with supreme acts. Watch the latest here.
The Los Angeles-based duo Lost Kings teamed up with musical.ly/YouTube sensation Loren Gray to record the pop track "Anti-Everything."
The song and its accompanying music video are playful rejections of societal expectations and banal trends, as the video features Gray's deadpan delivery of the opening lines: "I hate drinking coffee in the morning / I hate that place everybody goes / If it's fun I'll probably think it's boring / Just like that song everybody knows." Each verse adds to the litany of Gray's dislikes, but just when her soft voice begins to sound droning, the chorus shifts the song to its main point: "I'm anti-everything, but I love you / I'm fucking miserable 'til you walk into the room." It's a hate song mixed with a love ballad that's driven by Gray's breathy vocals.
"Anti-Everything" is the second track on the Lost Kings' EP Paper Crowns. The creative minds comprising Lost Kings, Rob Abisi and Nick Shanholtz, have released other tracks from the EP including "When We Were Young" feat. Norma Jean Martine, "Stuck" feat. Tone Styrke, and "Drunk As Hell" feat. Jesper Jenset. In total, the unreleased EP's already accrued more than 70 million streams worldwide.
Rob and Nick first met when they were both struggling to find motivation for their individual music projects in L.A. They told Popdust that when mutual friends introduced them at Rob's 25th birthday party, something "clicked." After meeting in Nick's apartment to mix music together, they realized, "We should do this together."
When settling on their name, "Lost Kings" best captured their story. As Rob recounts, "When you first come to L.A., it's easy to lose yourself." They both hail from the East Coast (Rob is from Boston and Nick's from Baltimore) and moved to the West Coast to pursue lifelong dreams of music careers. However, the party culture of Los Angeles challenged their ability to stay focused on their goals. "That's the 'Lost' part," Rob says. But they were able to re-focus by collaborating in Nick's apartment, even after working long days at their full-time jobs.
Part of the duo's success is from how in tune their music videos are with their sound. When asked to describe the creative process behind their videos, Nick describes, "We're very involved in every facet of the creative process. Our videographer actually travels with us, and we'll have creative meetings. When people hear our music, we want them to have a visual experience and be able to picture it. When they see the video, we want them to think, 'That's exactly what I pictured.'" For instance, while touring in Croatia and Ibiza, the pair had an "insane experience" where "the views had the perfect summertime vibe for 'Stuck.'" Traveling with their videographer allowed them to capture the scenery for the music video on the spot.
When Nick and Rob wrote "Anti-Everything," the music video for which has been released exclusively to Popdust, Gray was already on their radar. The song was written one day in Nick's apartment when they were "in an anti-everything mood." Once finished, they immediately thought of Gray. "Everything lined up," Nick says. "She heard it, liked it, her schedule was free. She killed it." Rob adds, "She recorded a great version of it. We were in LA to shoot the video...It was great working with her. I can't say enough good things about Loren." On working with the guys, Gray has similar praise: "Making this video with the Lost Kings was just an all around fun experience. It was a two day shoot, and we shot at an amazing house with incredible views of the city. The guys and their team are great. The video really captures the vibe of the song, and I'm so happy everyone finally gets to hear it and see it!"
When asked what advice the pair would give their younger selves about collaborating with other artists, Rob says, "Be patient. It's a long process, and it's easy to get frustrated. From writing and mixing to waiting to see if schedules line up and recording, just be patient." They say that's advice they're still trying to heed, but it's paid off for them so far. Wiz Khalifa featured on their track, "Don't Kill My High," a "dream" for the duo, as Nick speaks highly of Wiz as someone they've "looked up to and listened to for so long." Currently, at the top of their list of acts they'd love to collaborate with is The 1975. They're both fans and say, "The 1975 would be a dream."
Popdust asked the guys, "As a rising EDM act, are there songs on your playlists that might surprise people? Some country? Some Ariana Grande?" They gladly shared, "Love Ariana. She's everywhere, you can't escape her!" Rob's also had Mumford & Sons' latest album, Delta, on repeat.
Lastly, when Nick and Rob were asked to describe each other in three words, they both gave earnest responses (which was an appreciated sentimental moment–but we also had a laugh over a response they once gave to EDM.com: "big dick energy"). Rob said, "Passionate, hard-working, inspired." Nick said, "Calm, cool, collected."
Lost Kings will begin headlining The So What Tour on January 17. Watch the exclusive debut of the music video for "Anti-Everything" feat. Loren Gray above.
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Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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