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Photos and Interview by Jordan Edwards

Over the past few years, Sorana has built an impressive songwriting career, with credits including The Chainsmokers, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX. Now she's focusing on her own music. Her debut single (and David Guetta collab) redruM, landed in January. Now we get her first solo single, "Karoake." An epic heartbreaker ready for arenas, the track explores the idea of singing karaoke to get over a breakup.

We talked to Sorana about the song and its stunning video, and what it's been like to start her solo career.

“Karaoke” is sad but empowering. I can imagine the crowd singing it back to you. How did you find the right sound and vibe for this track?
The story of "Karaoke" is very personal to me. I used to go to an old wooden Karaoke bar every night and sing with my friends. I sang for my heartbreak, which I find very powerful and vulnerable at the same time. I sang to get over my shyness too. When producing the track, I wanted it to be as stripped as possible so the song could shine as someone shines when they open up and sing about their emotions. I wanted it to feel old school and have raw instruments. A lot of producers tried until Ali Payami captured the vibe I was looking for.

What was it like working with Ali Payami?
It’s always amazing to work with talented people that share your vision. When I heard his first demo, I thought, "Yes, finally someone understands what I’m trying to say."

The music video features multiple versions of yourself. What was behind that concept and what was it like to film?
The video shows a different layer of the story than the lyrics. Growing up, I used to be really shy, and I would cry if somebody walked in my room while I was singing. Later, I started going to karaoke not to have fun with my friends, but to force myself to get over my shyness. Each character in the video represents a different emotion I was going through while being on that karaoke stage. I felt everything from shy and crying because I didn’t think I was good enough, and getting tipsy just built my courage up to absolute confidence and excitement. NGM creative made filming this video an amazing experience and brought my vision to life. We rehearsed every movement and emotion of each character for weeks. We filmed using this cool robot called Bolt that allowed us to put each version of myself in the same frame. It was hard and rewarding.

What songs did you like to sing, and do you still find time for karaoke?
I loved to sing "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles, "Stepping Stone" and "Warwick Avenue" by Duffy, "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O’Connor, and many more sad songs. I always feel bittersweet when it comes to karaoke, as it reminds me of my first heartbreak.

When your songwriting career was taking off, did you ever feel like your solo music was being neglected?
I never felt like my solo career was neglected because I never neglected it. Being a singer was always my main motivation for writing songs, but I feel proud to have written songs for amazing artists like The Chainsmokers, Charli XCX, David Guetta, and more.

At what point did you realize that music could be your career?
I never had to realize. I always knew. I have a very powerful intuition, and I knew I was going to be a singer ever since I became aware of my existence. Growing up, my friends and even my family would tell me that it’s just a dream, especially because no one really escapes Romania to make pop music in the UK and USA, but I always knew my dream would come true.

You have such a unique aesthetic. Who do you look up to in terms of style?
My inspiration for my look was always Sailor Moon. That’s where I got the idea for the super long pigtails. I don’t only love the cartoon for the aesthetic, but also because it’s all about girl energy and girls with superpowers sticking together. I kind of manifested that in my high school girl group. Me and my six best friends were always together, up to no good, and always on an adventure. I’ve always loved to live in my fantasies.

You’re mostly known as a pop singer-songwriter. Are there other genres you’d like to explore?
I don’t think of songs in genres. I love great songs with big choruses whether vocal or instrumental, hooks and memorable lyrics. But those could be wrapped in any type of instrumental. If it’s good, it’s good. Right now, I’m loving guitars and raw instrumentals with old school sounds.

What have you been listening to lately?
Lately I’ve been listening to Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, old rock songs like "Nothing Compares 2 U," "Zombie" by the Cranberries, the Pixies.

Sorana - Karaoke (Official Video) www.youtube.com

For more from Sorana, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

CULTURE

Harry Styles’s New Song, The Vibe Shift, and How to Be a Person Again

“As It Was” is a sad-disco dance track that encapsulates this moment of manic nostalgia and hyper-longing

Harry's Home Album Cover, Out May 20

I’m trying to be a person again.

I don’t know exactly what that means, however. There’s no roadmap for the latest new normal. The old normal — now obsolete, apparently — was pre-pandemic life, which we’ll never return to. As offices open back up and many places discard mandates and restrictions, people are still getting Covid. And many of the lifestyle adjustments we made during the pandemic are permanently ingrained — permanently altering our relationships to work, ourselves, and others.

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Trending

Christian Lalama Grows Up

The new single "Nobody Ain't You" is out now

Interview by Jordan Edwards

In 2015, Christian Lalama started a YouTube channel. He covered "Piano Man" (complete with harmonica solo), and wowed his elementary school with a version of Elton John's "Your Song." Momentum grew, and by 2018, the young Canadian singer caught the attention of record labels. He signed with Atlantic and broke through with the 2020 viral single "Miss Me."

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Trending

Miette Hope Embraces Fragility

The new single "Fragments" is out now

Photos and Interview by Meghan Marshall

On her new single "Fragments," Miette Hope continues her warm blend of acoustic and electronic elements (think Joni Mitchell channeling Radiohead). This time, though, she produced the song herself. The track is part of an upcoming EP tentatively set for a fall release.

We talked to the New York singer-songwriter about how the song came together and how she channels past trauma to create her signature sound.

The production on your songs is electronic, vivacious, energetic, and theatrical. This presents a juxtaposition to your introspective, melancholy lyrics. Tell us about the relationship between your production and lyric writing, and how you approach them when working on a song.
To me, a great song should be able to stand on its own. Once you know you have that, there are so many directions you can take the production from there. Production can elevate a song or it can compromise it, so I think it plays a super important role in how the lyrics and melody are perceived. My lyrics are much like a poetic diary, sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings and turning them into something consumable. The feelings expressed on paper represent something raw and complex that deserve a sonic experience deeper than words can convey. My main collaborator Ariza, who produced my 2019 EP Pendulum, and is the second half to my side project, The Natural Synthetic, is a musical soulmate and has an incredibly intuitive way of sonically expressing the concepts behind our work together. I learned much of what I know about music production from his influence and have since embarked on a music production journey of my own, co-producing our recent releases together as well as creating my own fully self-produced project and producing for other artists.

Your writing explores pain and grief. You can see this in your self-produced multimedia project Pendulum, in which you explore the pain of losing your father. How did creative expression aid you in healing?
Pendulum was a huge emotional undertaking for me, but in a way that really aided my healing experience. Thinking and talking about my loss often felt uncomfortable, but writing about it gave me an opportunity to see it in a new light. What I came to understand about these old feelings stored away is that there were many people in the world who had experienced grief, addiction, mental illness, and had no outlet to express or process through these feelings. My ability to transform an emotional experience into something tangible and even beautiful has always been extremely healing for me. I started to realize that it could be healing for others as well. I knew that it was important for me to share this story with the world. The songs were written over the course of three days with Ariza and the videos were shot over the course of three days with help from friends in film. I wrote the screenplay and co-directed it with my talented friend Andrew Garcia who's known for making pieces that are very emotionally moving. The music videos are meant to take place as a 3 part short film following the character through internal isolation, external searching and overindulgence, and finally a balance of the internal and external, acceptance and a sense of wholeness.

You are proudly bisexual. How has your queerness played a role in your music? Do you have any queer musicians you look up to?
As a queer artist, I think representation is extremely important. When I was growing up, there weren’t many artists I could look up to, so it's important for me to be my most authentic and proud self to show anyone looking up to me that it's okay to be who you are. I wouldn't say many of my songs are specifically about being queer, but I write about my experiences as a queer person and am open about my sexuality with my fans. I feel really lucky to now be living in a time when there are so many incredible LGBTQIA+ artists gaining success and recognition. There is still so much work to be done, but I'm proud of how far we've come.

We worked together on the imagery for your single "Fragments." There is an allusion in the song and the imagery to Humpty Dumpty, as an icon of fragility. In what ways do you feel connected to this character?
Icon of fragility, I like that. To me, Humpty Dumpty is one of those rare characters that there seems to be no resolve for. Humpty sits, falls, breaks and can't be put back together. That sounds dark I know, but I think I relate to the story because in my journey through healing trauma and getting older, I've come to the realization that the things I've been through will always be with me. The pain of loss isn't something that ever really goes away, so rather than trying to fix what's broken, I've found more peace in accepting these parts of me that are tattered and torn. Framing these complex emotions through the lens of a nursery rhyme is my way of comforting my inner child and shifting the perspective on the way I view myself.


In what ways did writing "Fragments" help you understand yourself if any?
"Fragments" was one of those songs that flowed out of me. It almost feels as though it wrote itself. Having gone through losing a parent at a young age, I think I've always kind of identified with the idea of being "broken." But over time, I've found a beauty in that rawness. For a long time, I felt like I needed to be strong, but after spending so much quiet time reflecting for most of 2020, I reconnected with a fragility I had neglected growing up. Though the sentiment of the song is melancholy, I found the writing process for this song to be particularly healing, and the production ended up sounding uplifting and hopeful in a way.

I know this EP is self produced, and was described by you as “the most me.” In what ways does this EP feel authentically you?
Having the ability to translate exactly what's in my head into the DAW is one the most freeing and exciting experiences I've had in my career so far. I have always wanted to be a producer and have had wonderful experiences sharing ideas with other producers and collaborating. But for a long time, I guess I didn't trust myself to commit to doing it myself. There is definitely an initial learning curve to learning how to use production software and I felt intimidated by that for way longer than I should have. But when the world shut down, I had time to myself to really sit down and learn. This EP sounds exactly how I want it to sound, because I was able to have full control over every sound, chord, and melody.


This EP is very personal and raw. What was the process of making it? Where do you draw inspiration from when starting a project?
The concept behind a lot of the songs, to be broad, is the human condition. I think it’s very reflective specifically on my journey learning lessons in love and life. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and have had to unlearn behaviors that I adapted based on my trauma. The lyrics in these songs talk a lot about the trials and tribulations of growing into young adulthood. Without being self-deprecating, I find it to be very transparent about my shortcomings and an honest expression of how I am learning to be a better person through the mistakes I’ve made. I took inspiration from a few different producers and artists that inspire me like James Blake, Jim-E Stack, Radiohead, Arlo Parks, Elliott Smith and Portishead.

For more from Miette Hope, follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

Singer-songwriter Gareth Dunlop has the released the music video for the new single "Animal."

Directed by Jamie Neish, the clip features Dunlop wandering through a dense forest past musical instruments and furniture. It crescendos with him destroying a living room bathed in eerie red light.

"Jamie had the idea of blending two worlds together," Dunlop recalls. "For the verses to develop in the natural forest surroundings and feel quite stark and intense. When the chorus hits the whole aesthetic changes to unnatural light, a room inside the forest and somewhere for the chorus lyric to live."

"Animal" is the title track from Dunlop's latest album, set for release April 22. It's a stirring ballad with spare synth pop production that builds into a lush final refrain. Fans of Future Islands, Roxy Music, and Peter Gabriel will appreciate Dunlop's raw, emotional vocals.

"It’s an internal, rambling monologue about my own hangups and oddities," he says of the track. "If I thought about it too much, I wouldn’t let anyone hear this song.”

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Dunlop now resides in Nashville. His songs have appeared on several TV shows including This Is Us, Bones, Nashville, and Suits.

Gareth Dunlop - Animal [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

Watch the music video for "Animal" above and catch Dunlop on tour with Foy Vance in May. You can also follow him on Instagram.

MUSIC

Rozzi releases new single ahead of EP release

The musician will also headline International Women's Day show in New York

Rozzi released the single “fflow" yesterday. The track is part of the singer’s Berry EP, out April 22 on BMG. Actor Alex Wolff, Rozzi’s partner, stars in the music video. The pair perform intimate choreography set to the song’s building acoustic soul vibes.

Berry also includes the song “Best Friend Song,” which Rozzi performed live on the Hulu original series Dollface, as well as a contribution from legendary funk guitarist Nile Rodgers.

In addition to new music, Rozzi is headlining an International Women’s Day show at The Knitting Factory in New York this Wednesday, March 9. The bill includes our own Demi Ramos, Stalking Gia, Cloe Wilder, and Ok Cowgirl. Rozzi will also play a show March 7 at School Night at Bardot in Los Angeles.

For more about Rozzi and her music, listen to our podcast interview from last year.

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