Trying to find up-and-coming artists can be time consuming, unless you are like me with not much of a life and all the time in the world to keep an eye out for new talent. With an abundance of music coming out each month, we can sometimes get lost in the mix. Who can blame you? With websites constantly posting, articles like “Top 10 Artists You Need To Keep an Eye On” almost every other week, it can be a lot. And who’s to say that their choices are worthy?
While I may seem contradictory, I have carefully selected a list of 6 artists who you will want to add to your Spotify playlist to impress your cool friend Devon at the next kickback. Or they are a great bunch of artists to listen to on your 30+ minute commute to work on the TTC. So pick up your phone or your laptop, click away, and come along for the ride.
This self-proclaimed All-American Boyband managed to pull out one of the summer’s best albums in under a month. This group is made up of Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, JOBA, Ameer Vann and Rodney Tenor and moved to LA just one year ago. On June 6th, the group dropped their second mixtape, Saturation, and set a whole new standard for a quick turnaround in lyric writing and music production.
Toronto-born artist Jessie Reyez has the ultimate response to a cheating ex: write a song about him. Debuting in August of 2016, the song, Figures, has over 5,676,499 views, and is still climbing. Jessie is thankful for Toronto’s eclectic music scene, for allowing her to create the music we are so grateful that she is sharing. Jessie released her debut EP, Kiddo, this past April.
Deem Spencer is a 21-year-old artist hailing from Queens. Mixing influences of pop, R&B, and soul, he creates a fusion of sounds that make up a flawless soundscape. In October 2016, he released his EP, sunflower, that weaves together emotional lyrics with a hopeful optimism. We see great things up-and-coming for this youngster, and we urge you to keep an eye out.
This rising R&B singer is a Miami native who now calls L.A. home. In March 2017, she released her EP, Confidently Lost, written exclusively by herself, that discusses heartbreaks and revivals that any young adult can relate to. Along with the story told through her lyrics, Sabrina works hard to express a story through her expressive videos, revealing complementary aesthetics that blend in with her melodic voice.
Jelani Aryeh is a 17-year old from a small town in San Diego who is inspired by the likes of Brockhampton and Frank Ocean. Released about a month ago, his debut EP, Suburban Destinesia, is inspired by his suburban upbringing and the banalities it may hold. Destinesia is described as the following sensation: “when you get to where you were intending to go, you forget why you were going there in the first place.”
Dua Lipa has gained exposure across the globe with her her self-titled debut album released earlier this year. This UK native has climbed her way up the charts producing bangers after bangers. She is the perfect addition to any summer playlist. Not only are we at Novella giving her the stamp of approval, but big artists like Lorde have tweeted out words of praise for her video, New Rules.
If you are not yet familiar with Busty and the Bass, you are sadly missing out. Soon to be a household name, this nine person collective will have you pulling out dance moves you didn’t know you had. The Montréal-based bandis selling out shows across the country by providing a quality to their live performances that cannot be matched.
We sat down with trumpet players, Mike McCann and Scott Bevins, before their performance at the Horseshoe Tavern to discuss their beginning and what is next to come.
Kimberley: You met as students at McGill University. Can you tell me a little bit about the early years of the band?
Mike: Yeah, wow. At this point that was like 5 or 6 years ago. We were all in the same program at McGill. The first week of school, the guitar player, Louie, has us over for a party. He was like “bring your horns, bring your instruments, we’re gonna have a jam there.” We set up and played until three in the morning. That was like the core of the band right there. After that, we just kept doing things like that — very impromptu parties and informal settings, just for students. So, that’s sort of how we got together.
K: How would you describe your sound?
Scott: You could say it’s good vibes, party music. . .before you get into genre terms. Once you do, it’s a lot of different stuff. There’s funk and soul, hip hop, and jazz all rolled together.
M: I think what makes it so difficult sometimes is that we don’t ever sit down and try to hone in on one genre. It tends to be everyone bringing their ideas. We have a lot of overlap as well. It ends up being this combination of things sometimes. So, because of that, we’ve always had a difficult time of really putting a label on it.
K: You have a lot of amazing original songs but you also cover songs so masterfully by making them your own. What is this process like?
S: It’s always an ongoing conversation in the band of like, “oh this is a really cool song, it would be great if we did this.” There’s a running list of 5 or 10 songs that we are always thinking of. Once we decide that for the next show we’re going to learn a new cover song, we get together and strip the song down to its bare bones: the melody, the chords, and the lyrics, and sort of take it from the ground up and try to relearn it our own way.
M: When we’re learning a cover, we first learn it in parts from the original arrangement. It’s usually obvious from the beginning of whether or not we can see it to the end. Even in learning our last cover, we played a couple of other songs, and they were really great songs, but we got to one that really did work. Within the first twenty minutes or half hour, we were like, “yeah, that’s going to work, we can see this out.”
K: What is it about your live shows that is so different from other artists? There is something about your sound that is mesmerizing.
S: It’s one of those things that’s hard to put words on. We’ve noticed at our best shows, there’s always just a vibe in the room, a positive energy. There’s something about musicians creating music in real time for the people there and the people reacting and feeding off that energy. We really feel it more than we know how to describe it.
K: What is your favourite part about performing live?
M: The crowd and playing for people. We play this music all the time together — when we’re rehearsing and working out the kinks and getting everything just right. Playing it for people and having them react to us is great. It’s a big party.
K: What is your process in writing music?
M: It’s a huge spectrum. It runs everywhere from one person bringing an idea that is 95% fleshed out, to someone bringing in a hook. A small idea that we then grow as a group.
S: It’s different for every song. We tend to get together in groups of 3 or 4 in the early stages and just sort of explore different ideas of where the song could go. We discover what the songs essence is and kind of take it from there.
K: What is the difference in arranging an original song versus a cover?
M: I think the biggest thing is the line in the process where the song is now written. We then move to arrangement and that can sometimes be a method. Whereas with a cover, someone else wrote the song, and now we’re just adapting it. Sometimes, if we try to bring in an idea too early, we might need to go back to a 3 to 4 person group and arrange it.
K: In October 2014, you won the “Rock Your Campus” competition sponsored by CBC Music and TD Bank. What was that experience like? Was this your “big break?”
M: We have a lot of thoughts about this. It’s always tempting to take an event like that and say, “this was the moment.” The fact is that our band is this living, breathing organism, and that was just a blip in its history. It’s easy to go back and say that this was a big thing at the time, but there were a lot of factors at play. We’re super grateful that we had that opportunity. People came out and supported us, and it helped to win that money. At the time that was a huge help for us, but the momentum is a bigger thing.
K: Though this was a big mark for you, you have also performed at some impressive festivals like the Montréal Jazz Festival and Osheaga. What was that like? How does a performance at a festival differ from a smaller venue?
S: It has different performance challenges. When you are playing in a room, like Horseshoe for example, it’s great and there’s something having everybody crammed together. It contains all the energy that we’re really used to, because we’ve played so many smaller rooms. When we went out on stage for the Montreal Jazz Festival, my reaction was, “holy shit, that’s a lot of people.” Trying to connect and play with the people was a totally different experience.
K: Was it a lot of stage fright, or did it feel natural?
M: It was a weird feeling for sure. I had never seen that many people before. I guess the only thing you tell yourself is: put on the show and don’t worry about it too much. We definitely don’t connect at the level that we do with some of our more intimate shows. The year, before the Montreal Jazz Festival, we played three midnight-to-3 AM shows and people were there for the full three hours. It was hot and sweaty, with people dancing their asses off. It’s the total opposite end of the spectrum where you feel like you know the person in the front row better by the end of the night because they’re just there, through all of it.
S: Osheaga was a really cool experience for me because I’d never been to a giant festival before. It was cool to go and experience the bands, the culture, and then go on stage and be a part of it.
K: Do you prefer performing at music festivals or in regular venues?
M: There’s a certain amount of thrill to both of them. I don’t think we’re ever going to stop playing the few hundred person room, but we’re definitely not going to say no because the crowd is too big. We’re exploring both sides.
K: Though you have toured all across Canada, the US, Europe, and the UK, you often include a homecoming show in your tour. What is this experience compared to other shows on your tour?
M: They know a lot of the lyrics. They’re very dedicated fans. They’re awesome.
K: What’s it like having Montreal as your base?
S: It’s great. I love Montreal. It’s got a really vibrant cultural scene, a lot of great music is going on and a lot of great art in general. Every time we go back to Montreal after touring we feel very energized by it all. That’s when we go into the studio and we all write and jam together.
K: In 2015, you released your first album, GLAM, with Indica Records. What was that process like in comparison to writing and releasing your EPS: Lift (2016) and Bustified?
M: Bustified, we did totally on our own. GLAM we did on our own, and the label picked it up afterwards. As far as the differences between GLAM and whatever we decide to name the album that’s about to come out, and Lift. . .well a full-length takes way longer and everything takes longer. It’s a lot.
K: You recently released your first single of 2017, titled Up Top. It went to the number 4 spot in the Viral 50 category in Canada on Spotify. How did you celebrate the news?
S: Yeah, we’re still celebrating right now.
M: The celebration never ends.
K: What’s next for Busty?
S: Right now we’re in the process of finishing the mixing of our next album. It’s kind of in its’ final stages. We are hoping to release it sometime this year. It’s hard to tell because it depends on a lot of people who aren’t us to put it out.
K: Do you have any funny tour stories?
M (to Scott): You’ve got a funny one. You had a really angry English guy.
S: Oh, right! On our first full tour of the UK we were travelling on this DIY kind of trip. We were finding our Airbnb in this tiny country town called Compton, England. We were already toasted from a whole day of sound checking, playing a show, and then driving for 2 hours to find our Airbnb, and then we got super lost in this backwoods town. There’s no proper road signs, there’s no way of finding it — Google maps has no idea. So, we were kind of poking around people’s back yards being like, “is this the Airbnb? We’re looking for a key.” Long story short, we were angrily threatened by some locals who shook sticks at us and were like, “we have photos, of you, get off of our property.” Eventually we found it, and it turns out that we angered another English country person for blocking in his car. He was banging down the door with a broomstick.
Check out Up Top, on Spotify and Apple music and don’t forget to keep an eye for their upcoming album releasing this year.
Give me a decent venue, a cheap beer and a captivating band, and I’m in for the night. Add some killer fashion styles to the act and I am in for LIFE. It is so common nowadays to find a band that doesn’t care about their style — plaid shirts, Vans and beards can only go so far! Here are some new bands that get it. They have an established sound and look. The combination is a recipe for not only success but a distinguished memorability that proceeds off the stage and works its’ way into our personal playlists and wardrobes.
A seriously fun band to look out for, the next time you’re wanting to go out and tear up the dance floor. Yes, I realize that there typically is not a dance floor at live shows, but with the art-rock band Weaves, there is! If we’re talking about style here, then I think it’s time to disclose that I have just added a terry cloth robe to my shopping cart, in hopes to look half as good as singer, Jasmyn Burke. The men in the ensemble also have great patterned button-ups and layering skills. A MUST listen.
Contrary to popular belief, punk is NOT dead (sorry, Crass) and it is actually living and flourishing within the New York band, The Coathangers. These women are tearing up the punk community with their catchy sounds. Also, their vintage style mixed with modern elements (just look at that jacket) create a very unique and personal style.
Toronto band, Rynheart is everything you have been missing in rock! Insanely good instrumental work and old school-rock vibes with a modern flare. There is something for everyone to enjoy when it comes to this band. If we’re talking about style, Rynheart is no stranger to this word. Blazers, sick layering, long hair and FUR — does not get better.
This video just came out a week ago and I am obsessed. Rykka’s vocals have been haunting my week in the best way: they are THAT amazing. What is also amazing is her style. Check out that fur bustier, check out that cardigan — that I will definitely be stealing from my grandma’s closet to recreate this — that perfect winged liner, that hair! Rykka is the perfect example of the importance of a great sound and unique style. Take notes!
Good music can make gray slush, such as the road situation today, seem okay. Even sort of nice in a picturesque way. At least while the song lasts, which is to say, we need a lot of music. So when we wanted new music and have already exhausted — or have become exhausted with — Spotify’s clingy know-it-all algorithm, we turned to our contributor Tatyana to hold us down like a good old mixtape used to. Lo and behold, with mathematic precision unbeknownst to apps, she gave us music we didn’t know we needed.
Rising songstress, Ace Tee’s, new video for her track, Bist Du Down? is giving people a serious case of nostalgia. Hailing from Hamburg, Germany, the singer looks and sounds like she walked right off of a R&B video from the 90’s. Bist Du Down? translates to ‘are you down?’ Yes. Yes, we are.
Marie Davidson’s live performances are really something special. With tables full of machines, spoken poetry in English and French, and expressive features, she has no problem captivating an entire room. As one half of the Montreal’s Essaie Pas, Davidson’s heavy synths and drum beats make for some very moody dance music. Her latest solo effort, Adieux Au Dancefloor (Farewell to the Dance floor), is a testament to her morbid fascination with club culture.
Quebecois trio, Le Couleur, recently released their album, P.O.P. Band members, Laurence Giroux-Do, Patrick Gosselin, and Steeven Chouinard, make 80’s informed disco for you to get down to and their single off the album, L’Amour le Jour, is no exception. French lyrics have a way of making songs a million times better than their English counterparts.
Saint-Laurent made Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s “This is What You Came For” listenable. This ‘80s power ballad is amazing.
We’ve put together a list of notable artists for you to tune into in light of September. It’s a brand new season, so refresh your playlist with these soulful sounds. From breezy guitar harmonies to epic instrumentation, these five artists and bands have been making a mark in Toronto’s music scene, and we’re excited to share them with you.
SUNSHINE & THE BLUE MOON
Sunshine & the Blue Moon choose to experiment with moods, expanding their aural landscape beyond common signifiers. Blending influences and ideas from across genres and eras spanning from early blues, folk and country, to 60’s rock and soul, and eclectic 90’s grooves, one can experience a sweet feeling of summer breeze. Another may feel nothing more than to escape the hot city streets, to shake and dance throughout the night. Their debut album comes out on September 16th via The Hand, ”Welcome To The Future”.
Darling Cora (Darlene Cuevas) is a Toronto-based singer-songwriter whose music blends genres to create evocative, well-crafted songs that touch both head and heart. Gifted with a beautiful and soulful elastic voice, she balances her intricate vocal lines and unusual guitar harmonies to create music that is charmingly complex and accessible at the same time. Cora’s debut LP “Heart Strung Out” is out now!
Aleem is a singer / songwriter whose soulful music feature memorable hooks, sparkling harmonies and inventive rhythms. His expressive voice and guitar playing combine to tell stories about love, heartbreak, joy, loneliness and self-discovery. Aleem shows musical influence from a wide range of artists, including John Mayer, The Script and Bruno Mars. He began his professional music career when he contacted Grammy Award-winning producer Craig Bauer in hopes of a potential collaboration. Impressed by Aleem’s home-recorded tracks, Bauer invited him to his studio to co-write Aleem’s debut LP, “Open Letters”.
Check out Aleem’s YouTube channel HERE
Twist was first conceived in late 2013 as a collaborative project between Hermiston and Brian Borcherdt of Holy Fuck. The pair met as Hermiston’s earlier band was dissolving and Borcherdt was in a gap between releases with his other projects, and began with Borcherdt working as a producer on a handful of Hermiston’s songs. Working primarily out of Borcherdt’s apartment, the pair recorded and released a series of singles in late 2014 that garnered praise from VICE, Spin, Nylon, and Brooklyn Vegan. In early 2016, Twist announced their signing to Toronto’s Buzz Records, whose debut full-length released on August 26th. Check it out!
Inviting myth, metaphor, and a world of sound in as influence, Ptarmigan sculpts sonic landscapes of soaring proportions. Coupling epic instrumentation with ethereal harmonies, compositions stretch wide in shape and form, questing for untouched terrain. Through the lens of the band’s creative center, Peter McMurtry, Ptarmigan weaves song and story, crafting poetic kingdoms for the ear. With a sound that reaches the potent realms between genre, the band reveals new and familiar worlds, giving voice to the everyday made fantastical.