Perfecting that blend of dream pop with innocence and melancholy, Isaac Dunbar has certainly made a name for himself in a relatively short space of time. With the release of new single ‘Cologne’, we sent over some quickfire’s to know more about this new internet buzz kid.
Tell us a little more about yourself…
I am 16 and I’m from Cape Cod, MA.
How would you describe your sound?
Sonically, I would describe my sound as Alternative Pop. But to go more in depth, I would describe my sound as very honest. I always but my feet in the shoes of people when writing music, so it ends up being very honest.
Who would your dream duet be with?
My dream duet at the moment would be with Conan Gray! He’s so cool and we have similar voices.
What’s your new single about?
I would describe my new single as an “anti-love letter”. It’s about liking someone who likes someone else, and that other person is only acting like the perfect image of what your crush likes in a person. The song is me asking my crush all these questions, somewhat of an interrogation.
Who are you currently obsessed with musically?
Currently, I’ve been obsessed with this artist Tamino. Listen to him. He is literally – I don’t even have words.
What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
I’m releasing an EP and doing some shows and releasing more music afterwards! Stay tuned for everything, I’m so excited for what’s in store.
One of Norway’s most hyped RnB talents from the last twelve months, Lil Halima has already received a huge response globally as well as coverage from tastemaker heavyweights like The Line Of Best Fit, Spindle Mag, and Wonderland. With a new EP released today, I had the opportunity to ask this exciting talent a few quickfire questions…
Before we begin, tell us a little more about you.
Haha! What do you want to know? I’m Lil Halima, an artist from northern Norway. I love to create music, sing, produce, play instruments. Also painting, drawing and I want to learn so much more when it comes to forms of expressing yourself through art because it truly brings me peace.
What’s the RnB scene in Norway like?
It’s not very big, i know some people who do Norwegian RnB and a bunch of people I wish did RnB instead of pop, hehe. but thats just my taste, I appreciate people doing what they want to.
Where do you draw your inspirations from?
Everywhere! Just now, I realised (or I’ve always known just never really labeled it) that I have synesthesia, and I’m starting to be more accepting for the colours and the odd way of mixing my senses. It has always been like this, so that some sounds have very visual colours, numbers with personalities and making music being very much so like painting a moving image of patterns, textures and colours. So I feel like this has been the reason I could sit and make music for hours every day, since as long as I can remember. It’s very entertaining. and inspiring. Also people in general, the earth and the questions I have surrounding everything inspires me.
Tell us more about the tracks on your EP.
My EP is called ‘For The Dark Days’. It is created for the dark days that we have in Northern-Norway. I also have one coming out that will be for the bright days. In Northern-Norway we have months of complete darkness because of the placement of the location on earth, and during summer the sun won’t go down (it’s literally switching on the horizon). The music I listen to, the clothes I wear, how I feel, what I think about and how I spend my time is extremely different, depending on the season. Therefore I wanted to make to EPs to illustrate this, and try to capture it. On this EP, the songs will be for the dark days, but not in the sense of darkness meaning sadness. One song is for example about dreaming about being abducted by an alien, hehe.
Who would your dream collaboration be with?
Always been, always will be James Blake. And monte booker, his music with the sounds he choses, has so much colours and patterns and shapes that I’m always just trying to process and take it all in, in a good way.
I always ask this with Scandinavian artists, but the answers are always interesting… Why do you think so much good music comes from the region?
Hmm. Maybe because we all have such a great opportunity to make music. We are so blessed when it comes to going for the things you love, because we mostly have a system to fall back on if we fail without it very obvious (yes Im talking about you the States) giving us a hard time. Thats probably one of 13569 factors, but the only thing on top of my head.
What do you have planned for 2019?
My plan is to live my best life. Plain, simple, still really hard. Learn and evolve, make music and listen to music, play shows and go to shows, make visual art and see visual art, sing and dance, create, create, create, create.
I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people around the world when I say that this year was messy. I don’t know about you, but for me, nothing seemed to be straightforward over the last twelve months. So this year’s Random List should be interesting…
Astrid S – Emotion. I have surprised with myself on this one. Since it’s release a couple of months ago it’s had 110 plays. I like the idea that the song balances between a retro and kitsch vibe and spins it into a more current twist with a soulful edge. Then there was the (bonkers) performance of the song on Norway’s equivalent of the Brits which gave it another fresh take…
This has been the year for Troye Sivan. We started 2018 with this understated pop banger and the hits came through over the next twelve months. Managing to balance commercial pop with the slickest delivery, I really can’t wait to see what’s next for this kid.
I haven’t had the time to go out as much in 2018 but if there’s one gig that’s stuck with me then it has to be Daniel Adams-Ray (also known as ‘Human’ and one half of ‘Snook’) earlier this month. He’s unheard of outside of Scandinavia since most of his hits are in Swedish, but he is one of the reasons why I fell in love with Scandi music as a kid. In a venue almost entirely full of Swedish millennials in east London, his setlist spanned his entire career and more than anything made me realise that: A – I am weird, and B – that Swedes still push pop’s boundaries pretty hard.
MOST UNDERRATED K-POP BANGER
(G)I-DLE – HANN. In what’s been K-Pop’s breakthrough year, this one song didn’t get as much love as I think it should have. I know it’s been viewed 38-million times on YouTube, but that’s barely anything for the genre these days. Anyway – it’s a strong pop track with a strong essence of melancholy that you wouldn’t expect from K-Pop.
BIGGEST SUCCESS STORY
TEN Music Group. For those of you who aren’t too familiar with Swedish pop, TEN is the powerhouse behind Zara Larsson (and damn, what a huge year she’s had). Take a look at their other roster of artists because I genuinely believe they are the new wave of Scandinavian talent… Keep an eye on Felix Sandman‘s unique vibe in particular…
Jeremy Zucker.While still relatively unknown, I have nothing but total love for this talent. Give the track above a spin, it’s really quite special.
Female Soloists! This was the year we saw talents like Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande, Zara Larsson, Rosalia, Robyn make a huge impact. Not only through the release of consistent hits, but also through reminding us that we can all be strong even through turbulent times that make us vulnerable.
MOST DESERVING OF A BIG BREAK
Grace Carter. While Grace has been put on the longlist for BBC’s Sound of 2019, I’m not sure how likely she is to win it in January 2019. I, however, would love to see her become a huge success over the next twelve months.
And that, friends, is the Random List for the year. I can’t wait to keep sharing new music with you, and as always, thank you for following the site!
For previous editions of The Random List, head here.
The reason the photo above sucks is because watching Swedish pop institution Daniel Adams-Ray perform alongside his new outfit HUMAN in London last night got energetic and bonkers so fast that the whole set barely stayed still the whole evening.
Blending a mix of well-known hits alongside some new material from the latest record ‘IRL’ to a sold-out crowd, this was one of the best acts to watch live from Sweden this year.
I haven’t been to watch newcomers at Gold Dust for quite some time but it was great to finally go back to see that this showcase evening still has some of the most promising talent out there. I caught a stripped-back set from Denmark’s Ea Kaya, which was delivered beautifully. Other acts included the (amazing) ASHS, Curtis Walsh and Average Joe.
Norwegian super-duo Lemaitre hosted an intimate Q&A and short set this evening inside London’s YouTube Space, ahead of their gig with Dagny tomorrow at Heaven. If you’re in London and haven’t got a ticket yet – get one!
LINES manage to bring out all that is best in Scandi pop right now. A bold beat, excellent electro and melodies that won’t leave your head for a while. Here’s a bit more about the Swedish outfit.
Tell us how you formed, and a little more about your sound…
The short story is that we didn’t form at all, that we don’t exist. But the legend is we evolved out of nowhere like the big bang. Small energetic explosions of light that expanded through time and space. At first we couldn’t make any sense of it, later on we understood it was all part of a grand idea, the blueprints of a masterplan. When everything comes around we’re pretty small, aren’t we.
Our sound is solid.
What artists are you listening to now that you are loving?
Yaeji, almost exclusively actually. She’s been on repeat in our headphones for the last months.
Where has been the best place to play live so far?
Our own release party at a sauna club here in Stockholm. Top notch party.
Who would your dream collaboration be with, and why?
The CIA, our marketing campaigns would really benefit from their surveillance and we would also treat all the information more responsible than they would.
Why do you think Scandinavia has such a unique place in pop music?
Left wing politics and the belief that culture is one of the basic needs for the survival of our spices. Although that might change in the future unfortunately.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
More music coming! We release a single with Dolores Haze pretty soon and we have an EP in the making that will release this summer. That and playing live!
London producer Fabich has shown an infectious blend of smooth disco and feel-good vibes that’s been hard to ignore for me. With an upcoming EP, here’s some quickfire questions to get you acquainted with this exciting new talent.
Tell me more about yourself?
Hi my name is Fabich, I’m a record producer and DJ and my music is a mix of House and Soul/Funk/RnB. I’ve released on labels like Majestic Casual, The Magician’s POTION and Island Records.
What’s the new EP about?
The EP’s name is “a friends story” and it’s about the people I’ve met since arriving in my new hometown London. Ever since moving here from Germany I’ve met a lot of fun and talented people from all over the world and I wanted to tell their story in this collaborative project!
Have you got a favourite track on the record?
All of the records on the EP are my favourite tracks out of the ones that I’ve produced during the last couple of months so a lot of work and love went into each one of them and I like all of them equally… :)
What are you currently loving listening to?
I currently listen to a lot of Disco and also urban stuff. Artists that get me excited at the moment are Anderson.Paak, Goldlink, Kaytranada, James Vickery, Jafunk, Mokoa, Young Franco…
I do a monthly podcast series on Soundcloud called 12 Tracks Tape where I include my current favourites and also ask another artist to do the same, check it out.
Who would your dream collaboration be with?
I’d love to get in the studio with Pharrell one day. He’s been one of my favourite record producers since his work in the early 2000’s as part of the neptunes. I worked with one of his new artists last month so that was an exciting experience for me! I hope to show you the song we did soon.
What’s the rest of the year got in store for you?
Releasing this EP has been so much fun and I want to keep on putting music out every couple of weeks this year. I’m in the studio almost every day so it’s cool to see if people enjoy the music I’m making and also to play it Live!
Now in it’s sixth edition (yep… I’ve been around that long), my Random List seems to be the most visited post on this blog every ear.
Due to life being hectic I haven’t had much time to reflect on the last twelve months much, but I feel that while people are claiming new music is losing it’s direction – well, it’s good to shake things up every so often.
I’ve found myself mostly being drawn to pop in 2017, although there was a lack of those ‘massive’ hit singles that we usually see in previous years. Nonetheless, credit given where it’s deserved…
Banger Of The Year
The older I get, the more I start to dig Justin Bieber. I don’t know why. It is what it is. I think this is one of the best radio hits of the year.
Norway (they managed this accolade back in 2015 as well). I mean it couldn’t be anywhere else this year. In the last year we’ve seen some excellent music from Astrid S, Sigrid, Dagny, dePresno, Smerz… The country even has it’s own museum dedicated to pop (it’s the cool building you see up there). That’s saying something. Check out my full list of Norwegian talent here.
ALMA! Finnish talent has never been so exciting! The hair’s even got it’s own (amazing) song.
Most Tear-Jerking Music Moment
Portugal’s Salvador Sobral winning Eurovision this year. Whatever you think of this TV show, the kid (who was struggling with heart problems) single handedly commanded a huge arena and a whole world to listen to this blissful and simple melody.
Best Track Not Sung In English
Cezinando’s ‘Håper du har plass’ is undoubtedly my most loved song of the year. Entirely in Norwegian (see, Norway getting another mention on the same List), this mellow hip hop sound mixed with some strings had me emotional all the way through. I still feel warm when I listen to it now. And it took his home country by storm too. Just look at the love from the crowd on this…
Jessie Reyez put on a very short set at London’s tiny Miranda venue back in May this year, and the buzz in the room was inspiring. Powerful vocals, intensely sharp lyrics and beautiful melodies.
Most Played On My iTunes
Yep – Swedish music had to make an entry on this list somewhere. I honestly don’t know what the deal is with We The Kids aside from the fast that they released this great piece of Scandi pop earlier in the year, and that they came from the Tenacity label which is run by mega-important Swedish production company Ten. Believe it or not, this clocked up 170 plays on my iTunes since July so I really hope more comes in 2018!
Likely To Be Huge In 2018
This is a tricky one because there’s a few on my radar. I think a safe bet will be the UK’s Tom Walker. I’ve seen him live a few times this year and I honestly think he has great mainstream appeal.
But I also want to mention a Danish talent called Maximillian, who’s been on my radar for some time and I can’t fault any of his releases to date…
And there we have it! I hope you’re all as excited as I am about the next twelve months, and thank you for logging on and enjoying the music that I post – it gives me so much life!
For previous editions of The Random List, head here.
After catching Ady Suleiman this evening at London’s Jazz Cafe, all I can say is it seems this kid has managed to garner a cult-like following of happy fans right now… One of the best shows of the year!