Ones To Watch: Up-and-Coming Talent on Our Radar

Art work by Michelle Cheung for Novella Magazine

As our readers well know, Novella is that friend who keeps giving you suggestions on what to do, wear, read, watch, etc., perhaps at a rate father than you can keep up with. It’s the inner grandma who’s paranoid that you don’t have enough to eat that compels us so. In other words, it’s with love and affection and a kind of cultural anxiety and an insatiable need to dictate. But mostly with love. Without further ado, let our contributors come at you with their choices of up and coming individuals of talent you should take second and third servings of.

Drew Brown, Editor-in Chief 

Kelela Album Art – Take Me Apart

Singer and Songwriter Kelela has consistently been making good music since her 2013 debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me. We last heard from the songstress back in 2015 with the release of her EP ‘Hallucinogen’, which garnered good reviews, and yet she is still not a household name. In October, Kelela will release her debut studio album Take me Apart, and if her current single LMK is any indication of what we can expect from the second generation Ethiopian-American singer, I have no doubt that we will be hearing her name a lot more.

Hoon, Managing Editor

Relief of Julian the Hospitaller from Chris Knapp’s ‘States of Emergency’ published in the Paris Review this summer

Chris Knapp’s essays and fiction have been published in the pages of the Paris Review and the Los Angeles Review of Books, which for many — perhaps too many — writers today, is considered a sign of ‘having made it’. The blurb on Knapp on the Paris Review Daily says that he ‘lives in Paris, and also sometimes Brooklyn, with his wife. He’s recently completed a novel.‘ He’s achieved residence and certain placeness (the latter may be my fantasy) on both sides of the Atlantic, a functioning relationship, and finished a novel. Despite all these good signs, things many – perhaps too many — writers would kill for, I think Knapp is still up and coming. Judging from his short story, ‘State of Emergency,’ he has a lot to say. Knapp weaves the personal with the political, the immediate with the faraway past and future in his essays and stories — the stuff of good writing. If his circumstances have changed since the the Paris Review wrote his short bio, and if his website, which you can visit here, is telling the truth, he also has strong ties to Charlottesville, Virginia; I’m eager to hear what he has to say.

Adina Heisler, Contributor

While Phoebe Robinson has been an active writer, actress, and standup comedian for several years now, it’s only recently that she’s been getting the attention she deserves. Her podcast with Jessica Williams2 Dope Queens, just wrapped up its third season, and her solo podcast, Sooo Many White Guys, recently finished its second season. She also released a book last October called You Can’t Touch My Hair (And Other Things I Still Have to Explain). This is all on top of being a writer for Portlandia and appearing in the show I Love Dick. Robinson is an utterly delightful comedian, and brutally honest about all topics, from race relations in the U.S. to her love of dad-bods.

Meg Summers, Contributor

One of my not-so-guilty pleasures is following every member of the Toronto-based band, The Beaches, and admiring their musical talents, individual styles, and overall “cool girl” vibes. This band seems to always be busy touring both Canada and the U.S., recording and creating fabulous music videos. In fact, their latest, Money, shows off the band’s creative edge and incredible musical abilities to create catchy and aesthetically great pieces. Look out for more from The Beaches as they are sure to continue growing a buzz around Toronto and far beyond. Follow them on Instagram here.

Kimberley Drapack, Contributor 

Morgan Parker — photo by Kwesi Abbensetts

Morgan Parker’s ‘There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé‘ is a standout success. Parker successfully intertwines pop-cultural and political titles to her poems that explore the complexities of what it means to be a black woman, isolation, femininity, and so forth in the context of the 21st century. She also folds in personal references, Marvin Gaye lyrics, and Hip Hop. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Chris Zaghi, Fashion Editor

Photo: Giphy

That Poppy may have been making videos on youtube for quite a while now with the help of her director Titanic St. Clair, but 2017 seems to be Poppy’s big break. Not only did her Instagram explode over night, her music career has finally caught the eye of Island Records, which have sent her on a North American tour that’s sold out in a few cities already. But Instagram fame and tours aren’t what makes her so interesting. It’s her entire persona that makes her so different from any of the pop acts parading around the music scene this year. Labeled or suspected to be everything from a satanist, Illuminati puppet, robot, and even a matrix like computerized entity, Poppy has created a satirical musical persona that pokes fun and exaggerates the all too common assumption that most pop stars sold their souls for fame. Like her persona aims to be, Poppy is a delightful mix of sugary sweet pastel princess with a mysterious, almost sinister, inner turmoil that often bubbles to the surface in her videos, leaving viewers dying to know if she really does live inside a computer or if she’s been brainwashed by a big record company and completely changed from her former self. It is a fresh take on the idea of what a performer and their performance can be.

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Best Albums of 2017… so far

Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief 

After releasing two mixtapes, one EP, and teaming up with Rihanna on Anti, Recording artist SZA has finally released her debut studio album Ctrl back in June which features guest appearances by Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott. Labeled as a R&B album, SZA delivers fourteen songs that are both raw and insightful, and should not be put in box. Exploring themes of love, heartbreak, and self-esteem, SZA has away of writing songs that are honest and relatable and comes close to filling the my personal music void since the passing of Amy Winehouse by craftily mixing genres, and letting the listener into her world while finding the balance of being vulnerable and bold.

Hoon, Managing Editor 

A part of me wants to take to these pages to shout out to a relatively lesser known artist of amazing talents who deserve more attention and love. I’m thinking of Your Old Droog and his second studio album, Packs, of which especially the third track, Bangladesh, should be more than enough to win over any doubters. Another part wants to pay respect to Prodigy, who passed away way too soon but not before dropping a 14-track banger of an album, Hegelian Dialectic (The Book of Revelation). But that’s just sentiments talking. In truth, the absolute best album of the year has to go to an already legend and still expanding Kendrick Lamar and his fourth studio album, DAMNAnd I don’t see whatever’s left of the year bringing in an album more worthy.

Adina Heisler, Contributer

Four years after the release of her first album, Pure HeroineLorde has returned with the concept album Melodrama. With this album, it’s clear that Lorde has matured both emotionally and musically and has branched out, bringing together multiple musical styles all within the loose themes of emotions, the highs and lows, of a night out on the town. While Lorde’s time gap between albums was for unknown reasons, we all know about the long-drawn legal battle between Kesha and “alleged” abuser Dr. Luke, which has kept her from releasing any new music for years. However, Kesha has finally been able to return with her upcoming album Rainbow. The album is a sharp turn away from her previous music, which featured autotune heavy singles about partying and drinking. Kesha is finally able to use her actual voice, which is on full display in the three singles that have been released thus far. With country inspired bangers like “Woman” and  breathtaking vocals survivor-empowerment themes on “Praying“, Rainbow is a welcome return for the singer-songwriter.

Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

Upon the release of Gorillaz’s newest album, Humanz, I felt not only a dead fanbase rise from the grave, but a feeling inside myself I hadn’t had since early high school, the last time I head new music from them. Now, the British duo of musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett are back. Albarn mixes the tracks, Hewlett pens the famous four animated band members: 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Russel Hobbs, and Noodles. Like their past albums, Gorillaz worked together with a number of collaborators, but this album has some particularly notable names: from newcomers Popcaan and artist Vince Staples to legends Grace Jones, and Carly Simon. Some of the best tracks to check out are “Saturnz Barz,” “Ascension,” “Let Me Out,” and “Andromeda.” Word is that Albarn and Hewlett asked contributing artists to imagine what the end of the world would be like and put that into the songs. Seems dramatically appropriate.

Kimberley Drapack, Contributor

Tyler, The Creator has come a long way. Back with the visuals of pastel hues and flowery fields we’ve grown to love comes his fourth studio album, Flower Boy. Upon its release, I was immediately grabbed his his single, Who Dat Boy, with A$AP Rocky, and his second release of, 911/Mr. Lonely with Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy. This without a doubt is Tyler’s best album to date. Although we are not quite finished with the year, don’t let Flower Boy slip through your fingers and remember to grant praise where praise is due.

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Music Review: Ceramic TL – Sign of the Cross Every Mile to the Border


(Written by Daniel Lagana)

David Psutka is a Toronto-based experimental electronic musician. He’s best known for his projects Egyptrixx and Hiawatha as well as his recent collaboration with singer Anna Mayberry in ANAMAI. David will be releasing a new album under the name Ceramic TL. It’s entitled Sign of the Cross Every Mile to the Border and it explores the theme of ecological destruction.

With expansive tracks and unconventional sound exploration, the album may come across as challenging for some listeners. The soundscapes are noisy, harsh and unsettling; namely on the self-titled track “Sign of the Cross Every Mile to the Border or Life On Earth”. You can visualize heavy machinery clanging away, drilling and unearthing the soil under a dark and hazy sky. Mechanical drones wash over atmospheric scenery.

However, not all of the album is melancholic. A lot of the tracks are beautiful and serene, if not a bit jarring at times. Much like the track “This Looks Just Like It, the Answer to My Prayers – I Thought My Life Was Over Until Two Years Later I Arrived” with it’s chiming neon effects and glitchy overtones. As well as “Clearing” with it’s twinkling synth cords and warm textures, you almost feel transported away from the chaos. It puts your mind at peace.

This album is definitely a must hear. It’s an exciting conceptual adventure that gives insight into the subject matter it beholds. Sign of the Cross Every Mile to the Border was released on cassette earlier this month via Psutka’s label, Halocline Trance. Listen below.

We’ve Got Confidence In P’ARIS


P’ARIS favors anonymity: as much as I tried to research them for this article, the results yield little about this new and exciting chillwave/house music troupe. The newest single, Confidence, premiered on Soundcloud on August 18th, and has reached 50,000 plays as of yesterday. With the promise of a music video for Confidence, we eagerly wait to see and hear more of what P’ARIS  has to offer.

Now before you pass on P’ARIS, we understand: it’s easy to dismiss most new house music efforts as lacklustre, too experimental, and overly-indulgent. The fact that house music is so DIY – anyone with even the most generic computer system can produce a beat, if the zillions of remixes on Soundcloud are anything to show for it – means that there’s a lot of sifting to do before one discovers true audio gold. I think P’ARIS is on to something fresh and exciting here, in a way that may very well reinvent a tired, beaten up genre. Confidence is a track that starts off with an immediacy to it; there are lush electronic loops and reverb-y synths that are beautifully blurred with the lead singer’s breathy, child-like vocals. Instead of the rehashing the near decade-old formula used by veterans of the chill milieu, P’ARIS take a no-holds-barred approach to house music. They have done away with melancholy instruments and a brooding 2 minutes of build, jumping right into the heart of the track in a way that is so lighthearted and fun, you might initially mistake it for a pop song. The rattling cacophony of the autotune, mixed with the experimental vocals is then anchored by a rich bass-y chorus that create a dreamlike sonic experience.

Whoever you are, P’ARIS, we’re listening, we’re dancing, and we want to hear more.