New Releases

Lady Gaga Enlists BLACKPINK for New Song "Sour Candy"

The K-pop group appears on the track from Chromatica.

This Friday, Lady Gaga's new album Chromatica is coming to save us from the dreariness of isolation.

Lady Gaga, BLACKPINK - Sour Candy (Audio) www.youtube.com

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New Releases

Half Waif's "In August" Is an Ode to Friendship Breakups

The new single from Nandi Rose deals with guilt from an ending friendship.

Tonje Thilesen

It's been argued time and time again that friendship breakups can sting worse than romantic ones.

Even if neither party is to blame, a fizzled companionship can lend itself to mournful guilt. It's these feelings of remorse that drive "In August," the latest single from Half Waif's Nandi Rose. According to the singer/songwriter, the pensive song "tracks the dissolution of a friendship over the course of a year, throughout every season." As she explains in a statement, "There's a particular kind of sadness to a friendship ending when there's no one to blame, just as there's something mournful about the inevitable change of weather. Sometimes it's not a big fight but a gradual growing apart that marks the end—how do we make sense of our role in that? This song is an attempt to recognize and accept mutual culpability in an effort to move on."

"In August" begins with a funereal piano introduction that soon gives way to Half Waif's unique brand of layered, shadowy synth-pop. Looming and somber, the track finds Rose contemplative on both sides of the friendship's end. "I wonder how you've been / Oh, I have lost your friendship / What does that say about me?" she sings. Later: "You've broken your promise / What does that say about you?"

"In August" is neither self-destructive or accusatory, instead weighing the mutual faults between herself and her subject. "If I can own / Up to what I've done / Then I'll get it together / Will you follow?" go the song's final lines, as the instrumentals fade out as seamlessly as a missed connection.

Listen below.

Half Waif - "In August" (Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

Atlantic Records

Ava Max, the powerhouse behind "Sweet but Psycho," is continuing her reign as "PRINCESS OF POP."

In 2018, that debut single took the world by storm, topping the charts in 26 different countries and breaking through the Billboard top 10. Her latest empowering anthem, "Kings & Queens" aims to do the same and serves as a promising teaser from her highly anticipated debut album, expected to drop later this year. “I wanted the fans to listen to the album and really get to know me because it's my debut album," Max told Popdust. “And I also wanted to connect with them on that level."

Download or stream "Kings & Queens" HERE:

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POPDUST: Super excited to talk to you today! I consider myself a big fan and was ecstatic when we were contacted about the new song!

AVA: Oh my God, thank you. I'm just so excited for all the music coming out and for having "Kings & Queens" come out. It feels like a dream. Finally, it's coming out.

Tell us a bit about how "Kings & Queens" came to be.

Every song that I've put out, they all have very different vibes. The version you're hearing of the song is after like 10 different versions that we tried–different melodies and production. This one felt very empowering and strong with the lyrics. It's really about not caring and doing you. It's actually a similar message to "So Am I," but it's more just about queens and that we should rule because, in fact, the world would be better if queens ruled it.

I'm totally in love with the guitar solo and the choice to include it. Though I'm biased because I'm a guitarist.

Oh, nice! You should come play on the tour [laughs].

Um...Yeah!

I really wanted some real elements. I released a lot of pop electronic music, and I feel like I wanted some real guitar elements in there. It's funny, I don't play guitar, but after hearing the song and having it for 6 months, I was like, "You know what? I'mma learn electric guitar."

That would be sick if you pulled that out on stage.

I'm not even kidding you. I am about to take lessons because...how can I not learn electric guitar?

I was going to say, I'm totally available for lessons if you want…

Or, I can just bring you on tour!

Absolutely! That would be a dream [pretends not to be a fanboy]...Changing topics, do you have music video plans for this song?

I actually do...You know, I can't say much about it. All I can say is that…it's going to have a lot of dancing in it.

Speaking of things that you probably can't talk too much about, this song is going to be on your debut album. What can you tell us about that? Is there a title yet?

There is, and I've had this title for a year now, and I definitely can't tell you what it is. But I can tell you that if you look at my hair, you can kind of understand what the album is going to be. It's a little bit of this and that. The whole album is kind of based on, like, "I can have my cake and eat it, too." Where there's lightness and light, there's also darkness.

"Kings & Queens" is another collaboration with the producer Cirkut, who is credited on many of your songs. Can we expect more collaboration with him on your album?

Oh, yeah. I mean he produced the entire album. He is executive producer of the whole thing.

Can we expect any exciting features on the album?

There actually are no features. And the reason why I did that is because I do features all year round, and I love features. I think for me, personally, I wanted the fans to listen to the album and really get to know me because it's my debut album. And I also wanted to connect with them on that level.

Speaking of connecting with fans, what is the best or most shocking thing you've ever received from a fan?

Oh, this is a tough. I got a lot over the past year. The most shocking thing… you know what? A fan, it felt like we were so connected. This was actually when I was in Singapore. This guy gave me a shirt that was cut in half, and–I'm not even kidding you–for my merch that was exactly what I wanted to do. I was like, "I think you read my mind." We were so connected in that moment, and it felt crazy. I just thought that was really cool, to connect with a fan and that he made his merch that I had thought about, too.

Awesome! I asked people on Instagram to send me questions they would like to ask you. If it's cool with you, I'd love to run through some of those.

Absolutely, let's do it!

Great, so this one comes from @sophie_pia_, who asks, "Would you rather be able to fly or breathe underwater?"

Oh my God. That's a tough one. I'd say fly.

I'm with you on that one. @loveavamax, one of the fan accounts, asks, "Have you ever sung at a major sporting event?"

Um, yeah, actually I have. Tennis.

Fair enough. @Avamaxbr says, "If you could describe your debut album in one word, what would it be?"

Oh man, one word? Can I do one sentence? Best of both worlds.

Is that the title? You're not allowed to tell me, right?

[Laughs] No, it's not. It's not the title!

So @Avamaxbr wrote in again and asked, "Any plans to come to Brazil?"

It is on my to do list. I really want to go. It's one of the places I dream of going. So, yeah.

Okay, @iamcoyoteeyes wrote in - she's actually a fellow singer/songwriter - and she asked about your vocal technique.

I run almost every day, even if it's like five minutes. I run just to get my blood flowing. And I stretch my mouth and my neck. It really helps actually, stretching your mouth and your neck, as goofy as that sounds.

I'm with it. @Aliceellagram - another fellow singer/songwriter - asks, "How to feel inspired on the bad days?"

Oh my gosh, we got bad days. Um, I think about my family and how much I love them and how I want to just retire every one of them. And, yeah, I keep going.

So, a lot of people just sent the "fire emoji" as their question.

Oh, fire back to those people!

Will do. A couple of my friends in LA just DMed me with some questions. Are you in LA right now?

I am!

Okay, so Grace sent: "Ask her why it's taking me over 90 minutes to drive from Echo Park to Santa Monica. Isn't everyone supposed to be working from home?" Can you comment on that?

Oh my gosh, I know, I agree with her.

Rory sent in: "Ask her about where she gets the ideas for her makeup. She does interesting stuff with her eyeshadow."

So, I like to do things I've never seen before. I kind of really push myself to think about something I've never seen before...even if it's just a line on my cheek. It's funny, my makeup artist will be like, "What are you doing? Like, this doesn't look okay." And I'm just like, "I like it, let's start a new trend." So I'm always up for starting new trends.

Very Bowie-esque. That reminds me! Who are some of your biggest influences, both for yourself as an artist and particularly for this album?

I grew up listening to Mariah Carey and a lot of pop divas like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears and Beyoncé. So you know, I feel like I got a little bit of each of them into my music and my voice, even. 'Cause I sang so much Mariah Carey in my basement when I was younger that I feel like sometimes when I sing, "Alright, snap out of it. You are not Mariah Carey." Even in my pop music you can kind of hear the soul, because I sang her a lot. And a lot of Whitney, a lot of Christina. I love to growl. So yeah, the pop divas, for sure.

Awesome. Finally, do you have tour plans set up? I mean, I need to know because I guess I'm going on it, so…

Okay, well I'll just tell you soon. In a few months, definitely.

Cool, just DM me the details or whatever. Anyway, thank you so much for your time today. Congrats on "Kings & Queens" and we can't wait for the album!

Thank you so much!

CONNECT WITH AVA MAX: OFFICIAL I INSTAGRAM I TWITTER I FACEBOOK

Music Features

Exclusive Interview: Poppy Is in Creative Control on ​​"I Disagree​​"

The enigmatic singer spoke to Popdust about the creative process behind the "post-genre" sound of her latest record, I Disagree.

"I'm Poppy."

Despite introducing herself countless times in one of her first viral videos, the Internet spent 5 years trying to figure out who Poppy really was. The enigmatic singer, performance artist, graphic novelist, and church leader (born Moriah Pereira) has wielded ambiguity in savvy and eerie ways throughout her artistic career, creating a pastel-hued cult of mystery surrounding her multimedia Poppy project since 2015. Returning with a new "post-genre" sound that melds together shades of industrial rock, nu-metal, and ethereal hyper-pop, Poppy put out her third studio album, I Disagree, back in January. She's never been beholden to a singular sound or character, and her latest project showcases this ability to evolve as she expands her Poppy-verse to new dimensions in one of her most emboldened metamorphoses yet.

Take the music video for the album's title track, "I Disagree," which stars Poppy wreaking havoc at a roundtable of record label execs as she sings about apocalyptic ends and new beginnings. "We'll be safe and sound / when it all burns down," she chimes in a crystalline chorus amid a swarm of doomy guitar riffs before the shot closes on her overlooking a mass of flaming bodies. Despite the seemingly macabre visuals, this song—like many of the others on the album—is as much about asserting oneself against oppressive forces as it is about regrowth in the face of chaos. Out of the ashes is born a new version of Poppy, adding another layer to her evolving mythology.

On I Disagree, Poppy navigates between ethereal vocal passages before launching into thunderous, nu-metal breakdowns. This jolt in momentum can be dizzying at times but on the whole a lot of fun to listen to and definitely a refreshing break from the poptimism direction many singers are heading towards. Her alt and nu-metal influences are detectable enough: Rammstein, Marilyn Manson, and Nine Inch Nails, and even metalcore bands like Norma Jean come to mind. Poppy has been vocal about these influences in interviews, but she also prefers to refer to her latest record as "post-genre" rather than boxing it in as a "metal record." Her ability to navigate between different sounds and styles is an impressive showcase of range, which shouldn't be surprising coming from an artist who has in the past explored everything from synth-pop (on 2017's Poppy.Computer) to heady dark-pop on 2018's followup, Am I A Girl?

But one of the most compelling aspects of Poppy's career is that she'll never lift the veil too high. In an age when almost no personal detail of a celebrity is withheld from audiences, it can be refreshing to see a star who embraces these elements of spectacle, persona, and mystique. Like Marilyn Manson and David Bowie, Poppy is a master of world-building and theatrics. Though Poppy was once notorious for staying in character during interviews, she's since opened up to show her most human side yet.

Enter Poppy's uncanny valley corner of Youtube. Poppy's videos quickly made her an Internet sensation, garnering millions of views on videos like the "I'm Poppy" clip (which now has over 23 million views). She would go on to steadily release a slew of mesmerizing, often A.I.-esque videos that left people equal parts intrigued and freaked out. Is she a computer? A cult leader? The Warhol of Youtube? A surrealist performance artist pulling off an elaborate stunt to critique the pop machine? Well, as she already told us: She's Poppy.

Poppy began to shed her robo-humanoidism aesthetic on "X", the closer to her 2018 album, Am I A Girl? (the sonic embodiment of her former sugary-pop sound meeting a nu-metal sensibility). She also fleshed out these darker, moodier tendencies of Nine Inch Nails-esque rock on her 2019 EP, Choke, which was released on Diplo's Mad Decent label.

The Poppy mythology grew more entangled when she made a public statement parting ways with former collaborator Titanic Sinclair (real name: Corey Mixter), whom she was involved with in the Mars Argo lawsuit. The lawsuit is perhaps alluded to on the track "Anything Like Me," where Poppy sings fairly straight-forward lyrics such as, "I'm everything she never was / Now everyone's out for my blood" etcetera. Although Sinclair did contribute to the album and is credited on a few songs, Poppy's decision to sever ties reflects a new chapter in her artistic career, as she invariably moves towards more autonomy and control over her own sound and direction. She's also no longer working with some of the major labels that she's worked with in the past. Instead she put out I Disagree through the metal label Sumerian Records and is set to tour in support of Deftones in the summer of 2020.

I spoke to Poppy in February over the phone before she headed to perform her Boston show on the I Disagree tour. Read our conversation below.

POPDUST: So I know you're on tour right now. How has it been playing the new songs from I Disagree live?

POPPY: Great! I'm having a lot of fun, and I've been waiting to be able to do this because I have had a lot of the songs for a while, so it's great to finally be able to play it.

I saw that you've been playing a cover of the T.A.T.U song "All The Things She Said," which is incredible. What drew you to that song?

Thank you. That song has been a favorite of mine and I feel like it fit amongst the other songs very well.

In your own words, how would you describe the new sound on the album?

Well, I just call it post-genre, that's what I've been using. It's not any specific genre, as you can tell from the record, so I'd say that's the best descriptor.

When you started out creating I Disagree, did your vision for the album retain its shape throughout the process or did it go through a few different evolutions as you went along?

I just went into the process with an open mind, and I wanted to make an album with no rules, and I think we did that, and that's I Disagree. No rules.

In interviews you've mentioned that this album has a lot of different sonic influences, from Marilyn Manson to Trent Reznor to Madonna. What kinds of bands did you like to listen to growing up?

Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, No Doubt, Blondie: I was very drawn to all of them.

I wanted to ask you about the song "BLOODMONEY" and the themes you explore on that surrounding religion. Throughout your career as Poppy, I've noticed that, while your sound grows with each album, these themes surrounding religion and/or devotion continue to crop up. Are you attracted to the aesthetic or visual elements surrounding religion?

I think some religion is fascinating, but [I] also think that people can follow blindly without asking questions. I think any religion needs to be questioned at times, and I think it's fascinating to analyze, but I don't subscribe to any one in particular.

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Can you expand on what you were hoping to explore on "Bloodmoney"?

It's about hypocritical people that are a different way behind the curtain [and] which things are a lot darker behind the scenes and behind the curtain, so that's what I'm expressing.

Speaking of addressing people, the video for "I Disagree" seems to have a pretty clear message towards the established music industry. What kinds of changes would you like to see within the music industry?

That's definitely a complex question, but I don't think there's a ton that can be done in the immediate future because certain people are in positions of power that won't let ideas come through. But I think whenever you mix art and business, there's going to be compromise, and I just feel fortunate that I'm in this position where I don't need to compromise.

While making I Disagree, did you feel like you were in a position where you had more control over what you were creating?

Yeah, absolutely. It was shown to industry people after it was completed, so at that point I didn't take into account anyone's opinion because it was already done. So I did have complete control over it.

"Nothing I Need" appears to preach a kind of minimalism within a pretty sonically maximalist album. Is that something you intended?

It serves more as an interlude on the album. I wouldn't say it was intentional that it was minimal, but it allows the listener a second to breathe, because it is a lot of information as an album as a whole. The message is just being okay with being okay, and it doesn't mean settling by any means; it just means you're accepting things for what they are and things that end...you're okay with it. You're okay with starting over, and maybe things you thought you always wanted are actually things you don't need.

With this new chapter, do you ever feel like you are leaving behind your previous Poppy persona or perhaps evolving into a completely different person?

Evolution. I wouldn't say I'm leaving anything behind, because I think if I was to stay consistently the same it would be really boring, and I get bored really easily.

In terms of what's next on the horizon, I saw that you have another graphic novel coming out. Can you tell me a bit about that and how you got into that medium?

Yeah, I have been always drawn to it, and it just felt like the right time when we launched Genesis I, my graphic novel that came out before my first release. And yeah, I'm really excited for Poppy's Inferno because it comes out in July, and it'll have an album that you can play along while you read it.

Atlantic Records

MILCK launched her music career as an activist, singing for justice and for unheard voices.

After her song "I Can't Keep Quiet" went viral at the 2016 women's march, she became an unofficial voice of the Trump "Resistance" movement. She connected deeply with many fans by being open about her history with eating disorders, mental illness, and sexual assault, and her music emanates the same kind of honesty, vulnerability, and love that informed her online confessions.

Now, the artist behind the magic—Connie Lim—is turning her attention inward, an act that she believes is "essential to create the outer peace we long to see in our modern world."

Her new album, Into Gold, is a raw, moving, wide-eyed tribute to change in all its forms. "I've realized in my journey that the only way to bring change into this world is by first healing and respecting myself," she said. "And I hope my music is the soundtrack to each gentle rebel's journey towards becoming the change he/she/they wants to see in the world."

Each song on the EP is accompanied by a video. All together, the project follows Lim as she journeys past heartbreak, deep into her own pain, and finally into the light of possibility and hope.

These are delicate, optimistic songs and videos, carefully crafted and made with love. Together, they tell a story, beginning with the end of a relationship and following the protagonist as she looks inward, begins to heal, broadcasts her story on television, discovers a group of women who carry her weight alongside her, and ultimately takes her throne and presents her vision of a better world.

The videos are refreshingly minimalist and always hopeful, avoiding colorful maximalism and the negativity and desperation that defines a great deal of today's pop music, exchanging weight and dissonance for soft lighting, clean tableaus, flawless production, and simple arrangements.

The art of Kitsungi is a method of fixing broken pottery by filling its cracks up with gold. With Into Gold, MILCK performs a kind of Kitsungi on her own wounds, spinning them into jet fuel for her own healing journey, painting over her scars with gold leaf. "It took me years to turn these tears from water into gold," she sings on "Gold." "Yeah, I worked for it. I'm proud of it."

As Leonard Cohen said, "There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in." MILCK's work is an exercise in mining those cracks and in willfully opting to let the light in.

The videos and songs of Into Gold are earnest and idealistic, but MILCK has clearly worked for her right to hope "If I am to rule, then may I submit to love," reads the pull quote at the beginning of the final song, "If I Ruled the World," which features lyrics about faster WiFi, naptime at work, and universal healthcare. Now there's a movement to get behind.

Watch the videos here:

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New Releases

Pom Pom Squad Celebrate Love's Gut Punches on "Red With Love"

The Brooklyn rockers seem poised to blow up in the indie world.

Pom Pom Squad has everything you could want from a Brooklyn-based indie-punk outlet—wailing guitars, searingly confessional yet simultaneously original lyrics, and music videos loaded with glitter and neon lights.

Their latest offering, "Red With Love," is a wide-eyed celebration of love, in all its overwhelming bittersweetness. The video plays with classic symbols of femininity—cheerleaders, prom queen crowns, wedding dresses—refracting them through glitchy filters and smashing them against streamer-covered diner counters. It perfectly encapsulates the sugary head-rush of desperation and glee that defines the sweet chaos of romance.

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The band might be most comfortable writing about the sharpest, bloodiest edges of romantic and emotional angst, but "Red With Love" is a marked change from that niche. It's an exploration of what it might mean to accept love for yourself and someone else. The product is tender and fierce and also extremely danceable.

"'Red' is my first proper love song and a pretty unguarded look into my heart, my relationship anxiety, and my acceptance of my own queerness," lead singer Mia Berrin told Paste.

"Red With Love" comes on the heels of the band's slow-burning cover of FKA twigs' "Cellophane," which offers a different kind of ecstasy. On that track, Berrin's voice breaks over fiery guitar and whirring synths, which sound like they're on the edge of shattering–until they do, collapsing into the song's aching final chorus.

The best indie rock bands have something far more than just catchy songs and emotional messages. Maybe it's a sense of forward motion combined with a deep internal ache, or a synergy that just clicks. Pom Pom Squad has whatever that magical X factor is, and it's no wonder that they've experienced so much success in the Brooklyn scene. Both "Red With Love" and "Cellophane" are examples of indie rock at its most golden, raw, and blindingly alive. It's likely that Pom Pom Squad won't stay a local gem for long.