Lift Up Through the Fog

TUSKS image

We took a break for a while as electronic music has been trending towards bass/techno/trance. Each of these genres has its unique characteristics, taking you on different kinds of journeys. We’ve seen music ranging from soft and minimal to hard and heavy in each category; they can all in their own ways be emotional, groovy, dance-y, universal, addictive — and take you away.

Things have been weighing on me lately, and running alongside the electronic music scene has allowed me to dance away from my thoughts. But these days I’ve been trying to turn towards it instead. Sometimes, when your energy is like fog settling between hills, and it blankets you with a heaviness that you can’t quite escape, you just have to flow with it until the sun comes out again and clears the sky. The wonders of music is that it’s always there for you, whatever you’re feeling. It’s there for you until the clouds lift again.

So I’m here for a breath of air between beats.

We got lost today in Tusk’s Dissolve. It’s a beautiful song, with Emily Underhill’s voice crooning melancholy, melded with Explosions in the Sky-like instrumentals.

She’s tired, resigned to her emotions, and you can feel her singing to try to lift herself up and transcend that fog. Dissolve fills you up to wash away that sinking feeling, and it feels good to sit there with her while the guitar rings out an atmospheric anthem. It helps you feel like you aren’t alone.

So listen and relisten and let Tusks take you away.

It’s Been A While

Let’s make up for this hiatus.

Jerry Folk (aka Gerard Folkestad Taylor) – an incredibly versatile producer – has been churning out new songs in the past few months.

He’s always been on our radars, primarily with fantastic remixes, in particular his Oh Wonder “Lose It” remix (which, at the time of this post, has 21 million listens on Soundcloud… that’s insane!).

But he has eased – no, leapt – into producing original music, and every single track is unique.  He has an underlying style utilizing eclectic electronic sounds that  distinguishes him instantly from other electronic music producers.  Take “Been A While” – starts with some pretty keys, layers in a beat, a percussive water droplet sound, and then that synth at 1:12 – a simple, gorgeous melody that just makes you stop what you’re doing and absorb it in.

I can’t say “Been A While” is representative of Jerry Folk’s work, because it isn’t.  It perhaps showcases 10% of his talent.  So here’s another 10% – with an intense blend of many elements that were somehow skillfully pieced together into a vibing track.

Little did we know, Jerry Folk has another name – folkestadd – under which he has been producing remixes and original productions with distinctly different styles – some house remixes of hip hop, some nu disco, and some of his current styled sounds.  I can only guess that this is where he started (and what a start!) and he rebranded as he launched into the spotlight.  The folkestadd Soundcloud page – and in particular the “susanity ep” and the “cyber music” playlists – is really great to just let play when you’re relaxing on a lazy Sunday or sipping coffee at the local café or cruising down the coast with the windows down on a blue-sky day.  It’s a mix of ambient and groovy, where you’ll want to sink into a pillow and get up and dance – all at once.

Here’s a little taste of it – you might just melt.  Wait a bit until you recognize it, and you’ll realize how brilliantly he interpreted this song.

Check out Jerry Folk’s other tracks!  It’s safe to say we’ll all be looking forward to what he thinks up over the next years.

P.S. The Oh Wonder “Lose It” remix

P.P.S. Jerry Folk live is quite a dance party. (Though, note, this pic below is not my image.)


Stay and sway


Let’s keep going.

This next one starts off with hints of ODESZA, then shifts into dream pop, a cross of Day Wave and Sjowgren with weightier percussion and a steadier pace. Mating Ritual is Ryan Lawhon’s* solo project, and Cold features Lizzy Land, who sings in harmony with Lawhon. Together, they echo, and you can feel the weight of the yearning in their voices and lyrics. It’s brooding, but melodic enough to pull you along and keep you from sinking. Don’t worry, if you need something to lift you back up, check the footnote.

Can you imagine this live?  So mellow.

* Ryan Lawhon is one of the brothers from Pacific Air, previously known as KO KO, which produced Float, which – true to its name – is an upbeat float-in-the-clouds kind of song. Check that out here too.

Winding down (free download)


Not from CRSSD, but the setup was similarly symmetrical, i.e. perfect.

I just came back from CRSSD Fest in San Diego, CA!  It’s a fairly new festival – only about a year old – and the venue is shockingly intimate for such huge artists – (in no particular order) from the DirtyBird family, Jeremy Olander, Eric Prydz (as Cirez D) to Gryffin, ODESZA, Tycho, Poolside, Chet Faker, etc. And music festivals are a great way to discover other amazing artists that may have slipped past us – Jon Hopkins, Ben UFO, Adriatique. Such a wonderful experience. Now, it’s time to wind it down a bit.  Let’s take it slowly though – ease into it. We’ll make it good.

ODESZA was, as expected, incredible, with a gorgeously mesmerizing set. So let’s start here, with one of their lesser known songs (and by “lesser known” I mean it *only* got 368,000 plays on SoundCloud), a mellow song you can close your eyes and zone out to: Today. Wait for the addition of a slow chord strum, the vocals, the light percussion, a floaty synth-like tune in the background, the pause – and then they all start together again. It’s a lying-on-a-hill under blue skies in a park kind of a song, and it gets you buzzing.

Stay tuned for more chill later this week!

Steady yourself (playlist)

You know that feeling you get inside when someone you care about gives you a long hug on a chilly day?  The kind that’s warm and comfortable, that you don’t want to end, and it feels like time is slowing down, just for you?  Well, turns out taking a long hot bath at the end of a long day is that feeling x10.  Maybe that someone you care about made it for you at the end of that long day.  But you know what’s even better?  All of that plus the perfect playlist – steamy and soulful all at once, perfect for you to melt in the water, relax into the rest of your evening.

I read this article that talked about how sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself (if you can) is take a sick day when you’re only mildly sick, when all you want to do is curl in bed but you’re not too incapacitated that you’re miserable, and when you huddle under that comforter you can reflect on your life.  Some of the best reflections come out of times when you’re just sitting around or walking around with no goal in mind or destination in place.

Okay, but you can do that while soaking in an endless bear hug of warmth – best.

So here’s the setting.  Hope you get that chance to float away.

Happy Valentine’s Day.



I have no words.  I can’t describe it – the emotion, the intensity, the pull.  It’s an addiction and it’s about addiction.  Gryffin keeps you hanging onto BØRNS sultry voice and it’s just raw desire – electricity.

Light the fire, go

Electric love.  Feeling high.

P.S. Gryffin is pure magic.  I’m saving a post dedicated to his work and will likely just overwhelm you with all his sets and songs – but please do yourself a favor and jump the gun by checking his music out now.

Fresh and refreshing


I put on Sun Rai’s Rose! recently during a long drive and my friend laughed, “I feel like I’m in the 70s!”

My friend wasn’t born in the 70s, which brings up an interesting point: what does it mean when a song reminds you of the 70s, a decade which I’m guessing our readership has not experienced firsthand (except maybe… hi mom)? We all have our impressions of music from “before our time” – does that mean those impressions are what we think of as classics?

When we think about oldies and classics, we (my generation) think 80s, 70s, 60s. 90s music is still 90s music. Early 2000s music is affectionately dubbed “music from middle school” or talked about as “back when I was an angsty teenager” or whatever else (am I dating myself here?).

So when my friend’s mind goes to the 70s when he hears this song, maybe that just means this song has that classic vibe to it — and it does.

It’s got a soft rock touch to it that we’ve been missing these days. Some classic piano, some simple bass guitar, some light percussion – and a fantastic melody.

It’s fresh and refreshing: perfect for driving with the top down, wind sweeping through your hair, on a cool and sunny San Francisco day.

Electric feels


I’ve been thinking a little bit about loss these days – about losing things and the people who are important to you.

When is it good to take a loss?  Maybe when it prevents others from getting hurt, when it benefits them in some way.  I know some people would say, well, why would you do that?  We’ve got one life to live and we should make sure to take care and look out for ourselves.  Sure, but looking out for others, caring about others, making that choice to help them – that’s what makes us human.  That’s what gives us soul.  That’s what makes humanity.

Some would say that selflessness may not exist, because “feeling good” about helping someone defeats the idea that the act is selfless.  But selflessness is on a spectrum, and you can be relatively selfless – you can feel good about it but look, you helped someone out, and that means something.  So when is selflessness pure?  For one, at least, it’s most obvious when you hurt yourself on someone else’s behalf.  It feels terrible, but it’s sometimes necessary. We all question some of our actions – good and bad – and perhaps being selfless helps us define ourselves and who we want to be.

Okay.  I’ll admit, maybe I’m just trying to look at the bright side here, trying to build some strength to justify certain aspects of our lives. This is the right thing to do, I’m doing a good thing, etc.

But you know what?  Maybe instead of thinking about this, I’ll just soak in some Illenium and forget about everything.  Escapism at its best.

Illenium released Afterlife, featuring Echos, and it’s all at once symphonic, melodic, and mesmerizing.

It starts melancholic, with Echos’ vocals reminiscent of Evanescence, and combined with the keyboard and strings, feels ethereal.

She repeats, “In the afterlife, tell me we’ll be fine.”  It’s yearning, hopeful, desperate.

And then there’s a pause, a shift, and the electronic kicks in, a pulsing in the background, and the contrast is incredible.  Electric.  And though at first it feels unexpected, it’s just what you need.

It makes you feel sad, but alive.


P.S. Echos’ voice just fills you up.  Check out this cover of All I Want.

Hit reset


Let’s start the new year warm and fresh.

A little reflection,

A little nostalgia.

We’ve got William French today for some ambiance.

The way I think about it:

You’re standing out on the deck of a cabin.

It snowed last week, and the shores of the lake are blanketed in white.  Tonight the skies are clear, though, and there are stars.

There’s a silence that thickens the air, the kind in which your voice stops in front of you.  Heavy.

But the stars are still there.

And it’s like time has stopped.


It’s like time has stopped, but life hasn’t –

And that’s where this song begins.

It’s a heart beating, speeding, skipping.

It’s the waves lapping.

It’s the fresh air—

A cool breeze.

It’s gazing up and out, taking a deep breath, and—


There’s a light in the distance.

The lake shimmers silver.

And in the quiet, a warm hand.


Then the sun rises.

Pink inks across the pale blue sky.  The sun bursts.

Hit reset—

It’s a new day

And we’ve got William French’s kalimba keeping it bright and beautiful.

Take it in – it’s going to be a whirlwind.

Pace yourself


Let me wax philosophical today.

In life we’re always trying to balance rationality and irrationality, logic and emotion, our head and our heart.  There’s that constant struggle, fighting ourselves to do what we know is right, against the pull of our feelings, knowing that sometimes we’re seeking instant gratification and still hoping for long term happiness.

It’s like you can pick either having a 1% chance of happiness in the short term but 99% chance of happiness in the long term or a 50% chance of happiness in the short term but 1% chance of happiness in the long term.  The numbers don’t add up, but impulsivity – that beast – still often pushes us towards the latter.

Over time, though, we lose the idealism from our youth, the romantic glow of the world and life and the fateful encounters that determine who surrounds us.  We look more towards the future.  We’re smarter, more careful.  Why settle now for a volatile short-term and an inevitable unhappiness in the long-term?

But maybe this is all self-conceited.  Maybe we are all overconfident, thinking we can get more, do better, etc. down the line. How far should we throw practicality into this?  How much should we give up?

Still, there’s so much courage in picking the rational route, the “right” choice, the one where you sacrifice a wishy-washy short term for the long term.  It’s character building, I guess.

But then apply it to other situations, risky ones, where the long term consequences could outweigh the short term ones, but we choose them anyway.  Skydiving, for example.  You could potentially die.  But what’s the point in worrying about the future so much when you can experience six seconds of life?  It’s not like there’s a point in anyone, any creature, anything’s existence in this universe.  But that’s just an existential crisis, for another time.

Anyway, we’ve all been in the situation where we do what we know is right, even if it brings us immediate grief.  And that brings me to the following set, which is filled with emotional devastation, a pull against the tide, and a yearning.  It’s the walking away and looking back, one last time; it’s the struggle out of the riptide; it’s a reluctance and a want to hope, against all odds.  OKAY-KAYA, Emma Louise, and the Japanese House.

The pace is slow here, but that’s welcome and trending, especially with Adele’s latest hello to the world.  So here you go:

  • OKAY-KAYA’s I’m Stupid (But I Love You)
  • Emma Louise’s Underflow
  • The Japanese House’s Sugar Pill

Look for OKAY-KAYA’s escalation of layers with the keyboard and guitar in the simple accompanying chord progressions.  Look for the dreamy echo that rings through as she sings.

Look for the evocative melodic humming behind Emma Louise’s vocals, the gradual build-ups into the chorus, the silence after.

Look for The Japanese House’s instrumentals set between an incredible vocoder effect reminiscent of Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek.

Let these songs wash over you and pull you through those difficult moments.  Sink into it and breathe it in.