Feels like a dream tonight

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Can we revisit some indie dream-pop today?

Feels like a dream tonight / a little break in time – Young Galaxy, “New Summer”

We’re too lost in the rush of things.  We’re prescribed to a privileged, structured life: go to school, get a job, find a partner, start a family – and we’re always looking for what’s next.  

But then, we occasionally stop.  We all find one of those days at least once in our lives – one of those amazing days where we let go of everything that’s been on our minds and we become lost in the moment for the entire day and we feel like we have nothing to lose…

I’m always waiting for that feeling to fade, for me to look back on that day in my life and laugh it off, to carry on and get back into the swing of things — but it hasn’t, and I haven’t.  I keep getting drawn back to the emotional high of being fully present; I miss it.

Somehow this song reminds me of that day, one day of carefree ecstasy.  

This is sit-in-the-grass, stare-at-the-sky music.  It’s sentimental but grounding.  Bask in warmth of the people floating by you.  Make another day like that happen.  We are all in this together.

When the clouds roll in

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Let’s get right to the music today, and keep this short and sweet, because – well – it’s Kygo, and when it comes to Kygo, we always recommend diving in headfirst.

Kygo is known for tropical house style productions, but lately he’s in a heavier mood — and there’s no way we can complain.

This first track still has the tropical edge injected in it, but it’s finger-snappingly paced, and the mood is low.  Will Heard’s melodic voice shakes you.  Let the song’s soul reverberate through you.

Aptly named, this second song is just Kygo jammin’ on the piano and a few light beats and strings.  It’s beautifully moving and wondrously heartwrenching.

It ebbs and flows.  Roll with the waves.

Dark vibes, dance vibes (free downloads)

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Oftentimes, mashups take two or more songs and integrate both vocals and instrumentals.  In White Panda’s most recent releases, these two friends set vocals from one song to the background instrumentals of another — and it works so well.  It’s obviously key to pick two complementary songs and somehow sync them together to create the right pace, emphases, and vibes.  Sound simple?  It’s not.  But White Panda does it seamlessly.

Check these two out.  The first, Try Madness, is a mashup of Muse’s Madness and Dej Loaf’s Try Me.  The second, Reflection Stone, is of Kygo’s Firestone and Misterwives’ Reflections.  In both, the former play the instrumentals; the latter, the vocals.

Try isolating the two from each other.  It’s unbelievable how effortlessly White Panda seems to make these combos work together.

Try Madness is darker, with Muse’s heavy bass vibrating in the background, but Dej Loaf adds a push and pull with her voice.  She hooks you and reels you in, almost teasingly.  It’s masterful; the mystery is real..

Reflection Stone is all tropical house and just makes you want to get up and move – and that’s not just because of Kygo.  Misterwives’ sings you into dancing.

Do you see how perfectly Try Me is integrated into Madness’s vibe?  Or how White Panda pulled out exactly the right sections of instrumentals from Firestone to serve as Reflections‘ foundation?

Man, I can’t get over this.  The talent emanates.

Keep lookin’ up

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What are you looking for today?  How about a cool video of GIBBZ, mixing up Love Again live from his home studio.  It comes with a sprinkling of sentiment too.  And maybe a little dash of hope?  Just for good measure.

A fair warning: GIBBZ might inspire you to build a mixing studio at home.  He also might make you want to fall in love.

The song perfected its layers: grab your headphones, watch him add each one, one at a time, and be ready for some mellow indie-electronica:

GIBBZ has got it down: the pace, the tune, the words.  The keyboard.  The electric guitar.  The looping.  His falsetto.

These lyrics: “Well I look in your eyes.  They tell me I can love again — and I believe them.”

Every once in a while we need a little reminder to keep lookin’ up.  Here’s to the people in our lives who make us feel alright again – you’re our superhero capes, our blankets, our steaming cups of tea.

And here’s to GIBBZ, for reminding us that – somewhere out there – these people are there for us, ready to light our fires again.

Painting pictures

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We’ve shared this before, but I was just thinking about how I call it the sunset song, and why, and I thought I’d share again. I’m not going to describe the song, because we’ve done that already previously in a post about Robotaki, so instead I’m just going to imagine, because this is how it’s making me feel as I listen to it once again, and again, and again.

This song is best listened to watching a sunset, in the summer, in San Francisco, when the temperature is still warm and the breeze is cool; the kind of day where stepping in the shade yields chilly results, but it’s okay, because you’re on the roof of the building, and the only shade there is, is yours, fading slowly into the dimming light; and as the skies blush red and gold and the streaks of clouds flush with color, you stand at the edge of the roof, watching; watching the shadows grow long across the city, the buildings darken each other, people pull on their jackets; and in the distance, the dark blue ocean shimmers; and the sun is still glowing and you just watch it burn as it descends and you catch your breath staring.

This song is best listened to without someone there, but wishing; wishing for someone to be as caught in the radiance of the sunset as you are while the colors trickle across the sky, and as they do the two of you would intertwine your hands and hold your breaths; how nice it would be for someone to be standing there, by your side, sharing the wonder with you — but you are alone.

That’s key – the flicker of loneliness, the yearning, under the beautiful sky, as the air turns crisp and the fresh smell of night fills you up.  And as the darkness overtakes you, you wistfully turn away from the skies to retreat into the warmth and coziness of home.

Your turn – turn up your volume, sink into this song, and imagine.

A worthwhile dreamstate

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Happy Friday everyone! Here’s a little change of pace to help you float through your weekend.

This is Yumi Zouma’s Song for Zoe & Gwen.

Yumi Zouma consists of three friends from New Zealand who now live across the world from each other: Charlie, Josh, and Kim. They’re now in New York, Paris, and Christchurch.  Not sure how they make their music, but I think making music is a wonderful excuse for a reunion (or reunions are wonderful excuses to make music).  Either way, they need to keep it up.

Their songs have a light and soft quality, a little bit of post-synthpop and a little bit of indescribable Yumi Zouma. It sounds sweet, magical. Someone else described it as organic. I’m not sure what that means when describing music, but it somehow feels right.

Song for Zoe & Gwen is a song that’s a little floaty and a little dreamy. I’m assuming Kim is the vocalist here, and she sounds like she’s singing in an almost-mystical world, where I imagine she’s gliding through a meadow and you see her as the fog parts, and she’s glowing and a little angelic.

Okay, so my imagination goes a little overboard sometimes, but trust me, it does have that magical quality.

The lyrics are a little blurred by the way Yumi Zouma produced the song, with Kim’s voice layered between the synthesizer and drums (adds to the magic a bit), but I can catch part of the chorus, which makes me fall for the song even more. She says, “Even if your dream is failing / feeling like you’ll never sleep again / there’s nothing else more worthwhile chasing / …” We all need to take this message to heart.
How many times do you see an opportunity to jump, but instead opt to take the safe route? Our generation is chasing dreams like no other, but there are times when uncertainty deters us, and it can be scary as hell.

Yumi Zouma reminds us to close our eyes and take the leap.

Vibe & style | mellow your mind

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filous, your music blows me away.  It’s incredible.

filous, thanks for creating and sharing this music, these mellow songs, this set that pulls out of our heads.

I don’t know if you intended to make your music ambient and chill, but either way it is beautiful.

Gosh, the more I listen to it, the more blown away I become.  I just want to sink into it.

Anyway, I was thinking about what makes me love a remix.  I think the producer primarily needs to:

  • inject or amplify the vibe
  • blend in his signature style

filous did both on point.

Here’s why.  Let me preface this with – great music isn’t formulaic.  I don’t love these songs because they got each of these components down.  I love these songs because – quite simply – they appeal to me.  So take this all with a grain of salt.

The vibe

Let’s take filous’ remix of Jose Gonzalez’s Heartbeats [1].  This is a song that already conveys so much emotion and somehow so much tranquility.  filous sets the mood in the intro even before Heartbeats’ original intro blends in – before we even realize it’s Heartbeats at all.  Then he builds into Heartbeats and showcases pure wonder.  This is Heartbeats taken one step further; it has more character than ever, and feels more magical than ever.

My favorite part of filous’ remix is the syncopation during the “chorus,” when Gonzalez sings, “One night to be confused, one night to speed up truth.”  The beat between words catches you.  You don’t hear that very often.

On the opposite spectrum, you’ve got RAC’s Tear You Down [2], a bouncy, almost 80s-esque indie song.  It’s a fun song.  filous gives it a different mood, making it a little more mellow and borderline yearning, with the tenuto notes in the background echoing until they fade away.  Compare and contrast – you’ll see the difference within the first couple of seconds.

There’s also a beat in between beats in this song.  Look for it!

The style

When you hear a song, you can usually identify the artist by the voice of the singer or the style of the song.  Something is always recognizable[3].  When a producer remixes a song, they brand themselves, because every musical taste is slightly different.  They have some differentiating factor, and intentional or not, it’s there.  It’s an art.

filous has that something special.  It’s kind of a peaceful quality, like what you would imagine when someone sighs, a mellow, relaxing, wonderful feeling.  It reminds me of Robert Miles’ Children (you’ll find the vibe is relatively similar).  Listen to all of the above songs.  You’ll hear it, this style I’m trying and failing to describe.  Above all, though, it may even be best exemplified in their remix of The Glitch Mob’s Our Demons (which also is an insanely beautiful example of filous turning the original vibe 180 degrees).

Our Demons [4] is a fast-paced original with a rush of activity – it almost seems panicked, desperate, and a little furious.  Filous makes it into ambiant music you’d want to listen to on a gloomy grey day, or while you work, or all the time.  I have no words here.  Just listen.

***

[0] filous is 17 years old.  Let that also blow your mind.

[1] Jose Gonzalez’s original Heartbeats

[2] RAC’s original Tear You Down

[3] For example, when I first heard We Are Young and Carry On by Fun., I thought to myself how the singer sounds so incredibly similar to the singer in The Format.  Ever hear the Format?  They weren’t super popular back then, but they had some great songs (Check The First Single / You Know Me or Snails or Tune Out).  I was pretty addicted to them back in the early 2000s.  Anyway, when Fun. came out with their huge hits, I was confused — then enlightened: turns out the lead singer is the same guy.

[4] Glitch Mob’s original Our Demons

Mixing it up (free download)

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Covers mashing up two hot songs are all the rage these days.

We’ve seen:

  • Louisa Wendorff & Devin Dawson’s mashup of Taylor Swift’s Style and Blank Space
  • Sam Tsui & Casey Breves’s mashup of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and Sam Smith’s I’m Not The Only One

…and dozens others. This is another great one: Phoebe Ryan mashing up R. Kelly and Miguel.

Tropical house is all the rage too. So Win and Woo went in, slowed down the vocals a bit, and added in some beats and some “Under the Sea” sounding steel drums.

It starts with a short low key guitar intro and Ryan singing Ignition. Tune is the same, pace is slowed, her voice is mellow, and there’s the sweet bongo-like percussion in the background (listen for it – it’s not obvious). Then she transitions smoothly into the chorus, with lyrics from Do You and instrumentals straight out of The Little Mermaid.

You’ll notice that the original for Miguel’s Do You has a completely different tone and sound. The mashup has a new beat and melody that is just so catchy; I love what Win and Woo did with it.

For this chorus, Win and Woo created a tropical melody composed of upbeat steel drums, a tune that is unbelievably catchy and certainly pulls the mashup together even more – and Ryan’s version was already seamlessly done.

One of my favorite parts of the song is at 2:40, when Ryan switches up the song melody and takes it up a pitch before returning to the chorus. This part is a great and unexpected change of pace that just works.

Oh, who am I kidding? The whole song works. Check it out.

Some random things / observations:

  • you’ve got Phoebe Ryan’s incredibly sweet voice, and she’s asking if you like drugs and love. This amused me.  And then she exhales, “Me too, me too.” And all I want now is to be her friend… I want to love drugs and love too
  • characteristic of tropical house remixes: maybe some ocean and definitely some birds tweeting. I used to think it was just Thomas Jack’s signature, but maybe not! In this case, it’s at the beginning. It’s a nice precursor to the rest of the sunshine coming up.

Here are the mashups by Louisa Wendorff & Devin Dawson and Sam Tsui & Casey Breves. These are also fantastic.

Don’t stop believin’

avatars-000108327384-gj23cw-t500x500Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ always reminds me of college. If you went to a party, it was 100% guaranteed that it would be played, sang along with, and danced to, with as much flourish and gusto as possible. No, I wasn’t born in the ’80s; college was only a couple of years ago. But this song? It lives through the ages. It’s classic.

So you’d think it can’t get any better.

And then MYNGA proves you wrong! MYNGA, consisting of two young, metro-looking German producers and DJs, takes Don’t Stop Believin’ and puts a spin on it, adding some new dance-y beats, switching up the original guitar with piano, and throwing in some excellent electric guitar solos.

Sure, it starts off like the beginning of the song was cut off, but you quickly forget about it as it launches you into the song. It doesn’t sound very different from the original, aside from the different types of instruments, until Steve Perry of Journey sings, “It goes on and on and on and on….” and then MYNGA kicks in. I don’t know how else to describe that transition besides… if this were EDM, that moment is when the beat drops.  It’s the anticipation leading up to it, the pause, and then the spring into action.

And throughout the song, the electric guitar is just — wow! It’s careful, subtle, mellow. With all the different types of tones and sounds an electric guitar can produce, MYNGA incorporated the perfect one: one that isn’t overpowering, and one that draws you in with clean execution and clear notes.

What I love most about this version is that while giving the song a more modern feel, MYNGA preserves the timelessness of the original song with the classical instruments and without trying to use too much electronic manipulation. Don’t get me wrong, I love that tropical feel or the house beats a lot of artists are remixing into their music these days, but in this case, we don’t need either of those. I mean, it’s Journey!

And MYNGA balances old and new perfectly. It’s not a new song; it’s a fantastic remake of an old one – and you’re guaranteed to love it. Check it out.

Escape everything

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In the world we live in today, we’re surrounded by people and activity – interruption after interruption after interruption…

Sometimes people just need to kick back and relax, to be alone with their thoughts or simply sit and let their minds go.

Nick Leng and Carmody created together “Inside Your Mind,” the perfect song for you to do any or all of the above. This is ambiance music for your mind.

Ever go to the beach when skies are greyer and the shores are emptier? All you hear is the ebb and flow of the waves before they crash down at your feet and wash the sand away from around your feet, and then they rinse and repeat as you look beyond the waves at the vastness of the sea, the immensity of the skies, infinity.

That’s Carmody. Her voice ebbs and fades — then echoes. It’s beautiful and you are left with just yourself, standing there, filled with wonder.

We are always looking for our personal oasis, for bliss. Find it here.