Interview and Photos by Jordan Edwards

London-based artist girli recently escaped the gloomy English winter for a trip to LA. In addition to enjoying the sunshine, she got to work in the studio. The singer-songwriter recorded her new single "Crush Me Up," a sun-drenched summer pop song that recalls peak Katy Perry. It dropped last week, along with a visualizer (watch below).

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5 Famous Musicians Americans Have Probably Never Heard Of

If Lana del Rey and Ellie Goulding had a haunted baby, it wouldn't sound as ethereal as Québécoise singer-songwriter Beatrice Martin.

Everyone believes they have good taste in music, and everybody's wrong—particularly Americans.

Yes, the American pop music machine has dominated international radio waves, thanks to the thriving capitalism of the Big Three record labels and Ariana Grande's superhuman ponytail; but data from streaming giants like YouTube and Spotify show that some of the world's most popular musicians are virtual unknowns in the States. Considering the facts that English-speaking artists only claimed two of the top 10 spots for most streamed songs in 2018 and certain international hits certified sextuple platinum didn't even break into the top 10 in the U.S., Spotify is not your friend when it comes to discovering new artists outside your music bubble. These are just 5 of the best musicians you've probably never heard of if you're an American.

Lewis Capaldi (Scotland)

With a dry wit and hilariously self-aware satirical videos on social media, Capaldi says, "I don't think I'm a pop star." But the 22-year-old Glasgow native found mainstream success in the UK with his gruff ballad "Someone You Loved." The track spent seven weeks as the number one song on the UK Singles Chart. Similarly, his 2019 debut album, Divinely Inspired to Hellish Extent, was number one in the UK but only 49 in the U.S. His long list of accolades span from winning MTV's Brand New Award for 2019 to being called "the male Adele."

In short, he's like a Scottish Seth Rogan who occasionally speaks in poetry about being lovelorn and soulfully infatuated while wearing tracksuits around his mom's house (where he still lives).

Someone You Loved

"I'm a god amongst men": Becoming Lewis

BabyMetal (Japan)


This Japanese kawaii metal band is at the center of its own Internet sub-culture. The founding members formed the perfect asynchronous gimmick: heavy metal meets Japanese anime school girls. Capitalizing on the appeal of kawaii style (marked by childlike "cuteness"), three teenage girls—Moa Kikuchi, 16, Yui Mizuno, 16, and Suzuka Nakamoto, 18–developed adorable death metal stage personas as Moametal, Yuimetal, and Sumental. They're precious, adorable, are backed with some of the most outstanding metal guitar solos available for streaming, and they sing about how much they love chocolate. They're such a bizarre phenomenon, they've earned their own Funko Pops.

BABYMETAL - ギミチョコ!!- Gimme chocolate!! (OFFICIAL)

Coeur de Pirate (Quebec)

If Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding had a haunted baby, it wouldn't sound as ethereal as Québécoise singer-songwriter Beatrice Martin. Performing under the name Coeur de Pirate ("pirate heart"), her airy pop is predominantly in French, but her barely-there accent works melodically in her English songs. That includes her soulful piano cover of The Weeknd's "Wicked Game."

Crier tout bas

Coeur de Pirate - Wicked

Dean Lewis (Australia)

Sydney-born Dean Lewis is a breakout artist who stokes feelings of warm nostalgia, particularly in those who swooned for James Blunt's melodic voice and Jason Mraz's quirky rhythm changes: Lewis's style is a wholesome mix of both. His single "Be Alright" recently hit one billion streams after reaching number one on the Australian charts and being certified sextuple platinum. His 2019 debut album, A Place We Knew, only peaked at 31 on the U.S. charts, but it debuted in Australia as number one, knocking Ariana Grande's "thank u, next" down to number 2. Internationally, the album earned top 10 spots in Belgium, Sweden, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, and Denmark, earning Lewis the Australian music award for Breakthrough Songwriter of the year and Outstanding International Achievement Award.

Dean Lewis - Be Alright (Official Video)

Tasha Reid/Yoon Mi Rae (South Korea)

Korean music is capable of producing better acts than formulaic, soulless pop and armies of Twitter trolls pretending to personally know Jungkook. Before BTS, Blankpink, or even Psy, Korea had a "Queen of Soul." Born in Texas to a black father and a Korean mother, Natasha Shanta Reid became a leading female in Korean hip-hop after she debuted in Korea at 16. At her peak in 2008, she dominated the Korea Music Awards, winning for both the Best R&B/Soul album and Best R&B/Soul song. Performing under her Korean name, Yoon Mi Rae, she was among the first to give a rare voice to biracial identity in otherwise homogenous Korean pop culture. (Even in 2019, Korean celebrities of mixed heritage are rare, while the insular society stills battles racial discrimination.) It has to be noted that Tasha Reid is preceded by the legendary Korean R&B singer Insooni, also half African-American and half-Korean and born in the 50s; but today, Reid has founded her own music label and continues to work with her husband in one of Korea's most popular hip-hop groups, MFBTY.

[MV] Yoonmirae(윤미래) _ Black Happiness(검은 행복)


MUSIC MONDAY | What music is BANFI listening to now?

Aaron & Joe of BANFI takeover #MUSICMONDAY and share their favorite songs.

Banfi - Caroline

Hey Popdust readers -- meet Banfi, you'll want to know them.

This three piece indie rock band has recently taken the UK by storm. They've released single after single stunning the UK scene with each one. Known for their "unshakeable hooks" and imaginative lyrics, you'll see why when you listen to their newest tracks "Caroline" and "June" below.

Recently, they have been main support for Bear's Den's tour and have also made appearances at several festivals including: Citadel, Boardmasters, and Dot to Dot. Based in London, Banfi is getting ready to embark on their next tour. They will headline across the UK and Europe starting in March, a highlight of their tour being their headline show at London's Oslo on March 22nd. Check out their latest singles...

Listen to "Caroline"

Their newest song "Caroline" is the perfect rock ballad. The song reads more like an apology letter and is a commentary on how sometimes the perfect person comes into your life at the wrong time. The song itself almost feels cinematic especially the introspective introduction and verses.

Listen to "June"

"June" is a lot more optimistic sounding than "Caroline" though it's still a cautionary tale. Both songs are a testament to what good songwriters Banfi are. The lyrics are hard hitting and impactful. The song soars with the electrifying hook that explodes perfectly from a growing pre-hook.

In addition to music makers, Banfi are also music lovers. They've been kind enough to share with our readers what they're listening to now. Aaron, the drummer of the band, has shared with us his favorite songs of 2017 and it's quite the mix. Most of these songs, like Banfi's music wash over you. I'd recommend connecting to the nearest Bluetooth speaker and blasting these gorgeous tunes.

Four Tet | "LA Trance"

This new record in my opinion marked a return to his older sound but with some of the new and beyond chucked in. Brilliant.

Instead of sticking to 2017, Joe of Banfi shares what he's been listening to lately across the board. He says, "I've been listening to the artists on Dirty Hit a lot over Christmas - obviously The 1975, but also The Japanese House and Pale Waves. It feels like what they're doing is will be historically important for guitar pop. So my five tracks are from that movement:"

Keep up with Banfi on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.

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PREMIERE | FAKY releases "Someday We'll Know"

The J-Pop band is taking The UK by storm.

FAKY is making history.

The Tokyo based girl group FAKY (pronounced Fei-ki) is making history one day at a time. The quartet is the first Asian act to be signed by a British record label and the first Asian act to record their songs all in English. In fact, FAKY has recorded with some impressive producers such as DJ Fresh and Commands who works with Charli XCX. One step at a time, FAKY is deconstructing the Harajuku stereotype and breaking the mold by being uniquely themselves.

As Americans, we're not a tune to the major culture differences in Asia. J-Pop rose in popularity over the last twenty years, but the whole sound and look of it still feel foreign to Western ears. The message of the music is universal though and that just goes to show with FAKY breaking the glass ceiling. We have a long way to go in the Western world in terms of embracing diversity, but FAKY's rise in popularity is proof that we are ready for it.

All four of the women behind FAKY are not only incredible vocalists but incredible performers. Their style of performance reminds me of the height of girl groups in the late nineties, early 2000s but updated. It's like if you take the Pussycat dolls and combine them with Ariana Grande. FAKY is equal parts sexy, strong, expressive, and fun. Their songs, especially one of my favorites "Suga Sweet" are indulgent and cathartic. One of my favorite performances of theirs is their music video for "Candy."

Watch "Candy" here.

Not only is their collective performance super solid, it's really fun to see each of the girls style shine through their performance. I feel that in ten years, we might be saying, "Oh, I'm an Anna and you're a Lil' Fang," much like we profile ourselves according to what Spice Girl we are. According to Tokyo Girl's update, Anna is the leader of the group. Lil' Fang, is known for her strong, dynamic performances first making her mark in Tokyo night clubs. Akina is a Cali native of Japanese and American background and is the newest member of FAKY. The final member, Mikako is described as "typically cute Japanese girl who is an atypically powerful performer," according to Tokyo Girls Update.

Listen to "Someday We'll Know" here.

Their newest track "Someday We'll Know" is an energetic power ballad. Bilingual, the track features verses in Japanese and some of the hook in English. The feeling behind the track is universal. This is a pump up jam if I've ever heard one, the hook professing, "Stay wild, stay free, someday we'll know." The girls' performance in the music video is both reflective and freeing. The song is definitely a step in the direction of maturity for the group. My favorite part of the track is the bridge that really showcases the groups power vocals. The visual matches the song perfectly with the girls dancing on a gorgeous rooftop. I'm not sure what's more uplifting than that.

Having swept Japan as a nation wide phenomenon, FAKY has just started their journey in the UK and is bound to do the same thing. Their music makes you want to get up and dance and every member has that undeniable "it factor."

To see what's next for FAKY follow them on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.

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