The rapper's magnum opus turned 10 years old over the weekend.
It's almost eerie how accurately Kanye West predicted his own fate when he uttered the words "I miss the old Kanye" on 2016's The Life of Pablo.
In my head, and likely in the memories of many others, there are two Kanyes: a then and a now. Both are cocky, self-important, certifiable jerks, but then, he at least still felt a marginal need to continue proving himself.
Now, he's so immeasurably detached from reality that it's a little hard to take anything he does or creates seriously—at this point, I find it difficult to even care. I don't want to explicitly cite a certain presidential election and its aftermath as the dividing line between the Kanye of then and now in my conscience, but...yeah, Kanye rubbing elbows with Trump was pretty much the last straw for me.
The duo sat down with Popdust before the show to talk about their inspirations and life since "Body."
When Popdust last caught up with Los Angeles based duo Loud Luxury, they had just landed in New York to celebrate their breakout single "Body," garnering a gold certification.
Loud Luxury feat. brando - Body (Official Lyric Video) www.youtube.com
Coming up on a year since the single's release, Loud Luxury has evolved into a household name in the EDM pop landscape. But when asked to elaborate on the quick trajectory of their fame, the duo themselves couldn't believe it. "'Body' was never meant to be a hit song," said Andrew Fedyk. "It took so long for us to find our sound," added Joe Depace. "And that's what we're gonna keep doing. That sound is what took us 3 years in Los Angeles eating dirt to discover."
While their upward trajectory hasn't ceased since the single's release, they owe the fame to those who believed in them. "Tiesto has been a massive mentor to us," said Depace. "He brought us up basically." Fedyk added that they "wouldn't be where [they] are without their relationships and mentorships." Popdust spoke with the duo about their new single, "I'm Not Alright" featuring Bryce Vine, before their knockout performance in Brooklyn. The guys also discussed their first show, their inspirations, and where they plan to go from here.
When we caught up with Heldens and Tiesto at Electric Zoo they were absolutely raving about you.
A: "We love them, they gave us our first real start at this."
J: "Heldens supported one of our first tracks, and Tiesto has been a massive mentor to us. He brought us up, basically."
A: "Heldens is the first person we ever did dates with in the U.S. We were set to come over once from Canada and -"
J: "It was the most stressful show of my life."
Why is that?
A: "He didn't know if he was gonna get into the United States."
J: "We were about to make it legitimate. Pack our bags and move to America, and [Andrew] got his Visa way before I did. I was in my living room with my bags packed the night before a show, waiting on a phone call to see if I'd get [let into the country]."
Wow. Did you make it?
J: "At 9pm I got the call that I got my visa, went to Toronto as fast as I could with all of my studio equipment. Flew to LA, and played our first show."
Loud Luxury and Bryce Vine - I'm Not Alright [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com
Where would you say you draw your inspiration from?
J: "I started learning how to produce because I always wanted to recreate Avicii tracks. I thought, how the hell does this guy do it? So I would just try to make every thing he did."
A: "Avicii and Calvin [Harris] were really special because they were the first artists to make dance music super accessible. I just always loved the idea of being able to make a song that your friends know and can party to, but that your family can also know [and appreciate]."
It's that melodic sound that you guys are also incredible at.
A: "That's what we're chasing."
What track have you grown to be most proud of?
A: "Body is awesome because it changed things, but "I'm Not Alright" was special. We took a risk there, and knew that some people might not like this because of how different it is from what we've done before. But the reception has been amazing so far, and it's helped remind us that you have no reason to not take risks in what you're doing. What's the worst that can happen?
So then where do you see dance music going, and what risks are you going to take next?
J: "I hope there's more collaboration. That's why Andrew and I started working together cause we love collaborating with each other, and that's what we [like to do] with other people. I love how you can take a genre and mix it and craft something completely new."
A: "You can't have a brand and no music. The brand is the 'why.' Why should you listen to this song? But putting the two together is what makes sense [for us.]"
J: "At the end of the day what we're doing is [pushing] our sound. It took a long time to find it, and as long as it is something that's Loud Luxury. That's major. That's what took us 3 years to figure out."
Can't get enough K-Pop? Check out these shows.
Most K-Pop stars have carefully curated social media to give fans glimpses into their personal lives, but for some fans those little glimpses will never be enough.
Luckily, you don't need to resort to desperate measures to feel a little closer to your favorite idols. Korean entertainment is a world of endless crossovers, so you can get your fix of idol goodness in a few different ways.
As anyone who's seen Jack Black's appearance on Infinite Challenge can tell you, Korean variety shows are crazy. We don't really have an equivalent in the U.S., but if you imagine a group of celebrities spending a whole day doing wacky Ellen/Jimmy Fallon games, you should get the idea. While Infinite Challenge is no longer running, it aired from 2005-2018 and regularly featured K-pop idols, along with actors, comedians, and athletes. With that many seasons, they've had a huge number of K-pop guests participating in the craziness, like T.O.P from Big Bang doing a ridiculous dance battle.
A similar show that's still airing is called Running Man, where you get to see members of BTS getting piggyback rides. The show also regularly features members of Bigbang, Blackpink, 2PM, CNBlue, and Miss A. With all the crazy antics that go on in these shows, you get to see more of the silly side of your favorite idols. Another variety show, Village Survival The Eight, has featured Jennie from Blackpink working with other celebrities to solve a fictional mystery. Along with the clips on YouTube, full episodes of these shows can be viewed for free on Rakuten Viki.
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Battle cries of a big hearted lover-of-all-life.
Los Angeles songwriter, producer, and activist ANIIML, aka Lila Rose, unveils her third album, entitled OH AWE, on Popdust.
Inspired by a great personal loss, ANIIML explains the feelings contained within the album, "When I lost one of the closest people to me, the grief made it absolutely impossible to sit in my sh*t. It shook me free into a new level of joy, bliss, and essentially, a level of awakening."
Comprising 10-tracks of "witch-pop" with R&B flavors and layers of rumbling drums, entry points into OH AWE include "It's Over," featuring ANIIML's distinctly edgy voice.
Bluesy and powerful,"Ouch" reveals ANIIML's ability to sonically experiment. "Stronger Now" features some of the best, most heartfelt lyrics on the album.
Summarily, OH AWE is beautifully emotionally charged, at times fragile, but always fierce and haunting.
Who's to blame for this disparity?
This may sound like stereotyping, but most of my male friends, the straight ones at least, don't listen—and won't listen—to female artists.
Part of me always knew this, but a recent trip with a bunch of dudes ignited a lightbulb in my brain that (spoiler alert!) we're mostly boring and predictable with our tastes in music, pop culture, and otherwise. After being tortured incessantly by hours of Bro Rock and Breaking Benjamin, it hit me: Not a single song played over the course of the entire weekend was sung by a female artist.
Why is that?
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The Norwegian pop singer's rise in the business began with a successful turn on her country's version of American Idol in 2013.
The young songstress, born and raised in the center of Norway, has been playing music since she was five.
Following her TV appearance on Norway's version of American Idol six years ago, she's toured with Zara Larsson, received over 1 billion global artist streams, and was named one of Vevo's 2019 artists to watch.
This interview found her on the tour grind, supporting, among other things, her new single, "The First One."
The First One
What are you doing in town?
I'm on a tour with Zara Larsson. We played a show yesterday at Irving Plaza!
How did it go?
Really good! I was a little bit nervous because New York crowds can be very "cool."
Yes! I was a bit scared, but they were really into it.
Tell me a little bit about your journey from non-musician to musician, and from Norway to the rest of the world.
It started with me being on this Norwegian TV show when I was 16. Before that I hadn't done much music. It was more of a hobby. After that show, I decide this is what I'd like to do. So I quit high school and moved to Oslo, got management, a label deal…
What was that TV show?
It was the Norwegian version of American idol.
So you just put your name in one day, like, "What the hell, why not?"
Well, I remember the first season of that show back when I was only six. I had told my mom how I really wanted to be on the show, but she told me I couldn't do it until I was 16 years old, in ten years. And exactly ten years later, it made a comeback! So It was fate.
So you got an agent, and then what happened?
Before that show I didn't write music, but afterwards I started getting into songwriting, and finding producers. I spent a year doing that, and then my first single, "2 a..m.," came out. And after that everything just started to kick off.
How do you normally write? With a piano?
Yeah, I started playing piano at the age of five. And when I was 14 I started listening to John Mayer, so I got a guitar. But writing with a piano or a guitar is something I used to do a lot of at the beginning, but now I'm more inspired by a cool beat, or a track, or a cool synth sound.
Did you find, growing up in Norway, that artists and the arts are respected there?
Sorry, what do you mean?
Well, in the U.S. there isn't a whole lot of state funding or kinds of support for the arts. So is Norway a nurturing environment for an artist?
That's a hard question to answer, because I was so young. In general, I'm a naive and happy person. I was floating in this happy wave of having figured out my life at such an early age. My view on it is, yes, it's very nurturing in Norway. Again, though, I was so young…I had great people that I worked with me and who trusted and respected me as a musician, and always felt like my voice was heard and I was in control of my own music.
Speaking of your own music, do you work with a regular crew of musicians and/or producers, or do you change it up frequently?
Most of my songs are different producers and different songwriters. I'm still trying to find that one person who I feel like I was born to collaborate with. It's kind of like speed dating. [laughs]
Who would your dream producer be?
That's a good question. I've worked with so many great ones so far…I have no idea. [laughs]
How about somebody out of left field, someone who would take your music in a different direction. Like, I don't know, a Mark Ronson.
God, I would love to work with him! A producer that isn't just "pop," necessarily.
I was listening to and watching the video for "Emotion" and there's a depth and emotive quality to it, to the video especially - and the production is quite something. Who was involved in that?
It's been a while, but let me think. I was into a lot of 80s music while writing that, and listening to Elton John and Queen and Toto. A lot of songs from the 80s, you put them on and right away you know what it is.
The hook is right there at the beginning.
Fast forward to "The First One." What was the approach there and how did it differ from "Emotion"?
Lyrically, it stands out from the rest, it's more intimate. I got to work with Jason Gill, who I had worked with several times without releasing anything, and finally we did something that was released.
The single is dropping May 24, correct?
And then you're touring in support of that. Are you supporting any other music?
Well, I'm also touring just to generally play my music live, be in the States, network, meet fans, etc.
Where is the tour taking you?
So far, I've been in L.A., Boston, New York, we're going to D.C. tonight, then Philly.
Are you getting to any smaller cities?
Not on this tour. It's just two and a half weeks.
I see you were on a Fendi campaign: did you get a bunch of swag?
[laughs] They gave me nothing, actually. All my friends think they I got so many clothes.
Are you a designer clothing wearer, or a thrift shop diver like me?
I'm more the former.
What was that experience like? Had you done any other high profile commercial work?
No! It was very outside my comfort zone, those kind of photo shoots.
Was it a stereotypical fashion shoot you see in movies, where the photographer is yelling at the models and gesticulating?
Yeah, I got yelled at all day. [laughs] No, but it is like you see it in the movies, with a big crew who speak kind of Italian/English..it's an experience.
One last question: If you weren't a musician, what would you be doing instead?
I would probably study…I don't how you say it in English. It's a very specific thing, studying different species in the water. [laughs] I sound so stupid!
Matt Fink lives and works in Brooklyn. Go to organgrind.com for more of his work.