Interview with Elesa Marmo

Firstly, could you tell us which music artists influenced your sound, for any readers who may be new to your music?
We listened to a lot of Carly Rae Jepsen while recording and me and my producer Greg love her a lot. Lorde was also an influence since I’m such a huge fan of hers as well.

Your first solo EP was released on Friday the 26th, can you tell us what to expect from your tunes?
A lot of honesty, some fun dance songs and some emotional acoustic songs, so it kind of just splits down the middle. You get two sides of me.

Do you have a favourite song on your EP? Or maybe a track that we should definitely check out first?
If you like more upbeat songs, Bottled is the first on the EP and that’s a fun song, but if you like slower more vulnerable then I’d say Swimming Pools is the one. It’s hard to pick from them though because they all have such different meanings to me and I get attached to them.

I noticed on your twitter that you are a firm believer in gender equality, how important do you think it is for female artists to inspire their fans to fight hardships through their music?
Extremely important. These young girls look up to these female artists and I think it’s always important to stick up for what you believe in and hopefully inspire these girls and teach them about female empowerment and that they’re important and worthy.

Lastly, do you have any plans to tour with the EP? Or any upcoming performances?
As of right now I’m still figuring out production details so I don’t have specific dates planned, but definitely shows will be happening soon.

You can find out more information about Elesa and her music on her Twitter and Instagram

Further Away by Melanie Crew: EP Review

Further Away is Melanie Crew’s second EP of soft acoustic music. Released on the third of October, the EP includes some tender tracks like Ghost as well as upbeat tunes like A Hundred Words. The London-based musician has previously had her songs played on local radio stations BBC 6 and BBC Kent, and if her music keeps progressing as it is I’m sure they’ll be played all over the western world.

The first track, Bring You Back, features Melanie’s inccocent vocal tone, with a beautiful airiness in her upper register. I quite enjoyed the vocal harmony line but believe that the piece would have been better suited as a short introductory piece, perhaps taking one verse and chorus out to set up the sonic atmosphere of the EP a little more effectively. Parade is where I heard the potential of her voice to be used as a storytelling vehicle and with the right lyrics behind her, she has the potential to connect with her audience on a deeper level. I think for the chorus of this song in particular it would have been nice to hear either an extra musical layer, or a louder drum beat in the second chorus.

The interesting chordal choices in Ghost made me wonder what a singer such as Melanie could do if she played around modes (like Mixolydian or Dorian for those musicians out there wondering which I had in mind). I think if this song was put into a mode like that the low key jazz I heard in the song could be transformed into something much more eclectic and groovy. A Hundred Words was probably my favourite track on the EP. It was more upbeat than the rest, and I enjoyed the contrast between phrases with one travelling downwards in pitch then the other travelling upwards.

All That I Want was another track that had the potential to be an interlude to bring a bit of rest and set up the next part of the EP. Can’t Find A Way, the last track on the EP, called me to attention because of the excellent use of dominant function chords (it’s what I live for in pop songs). I think this particular song could have done without the vocal harmony line; it didn’t really add any interest or groove to the piece.

All up, I think there is definitely potential in Melanie’s song-writing style. Her vocals were pretty flawless and for that I give her props. I give it 6.5/10.

Interview with Ksenia Valenti

Russian born pop artist Ksenia released her latest single from her upcoming album, an electrifying dance track named Locked in the Dream. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her sound and her music.

1. For the benefit of my readers who may not know much about you, can you tell us about your sound and something about yourself?
I am Ksenia Valenti! The fake Italian. Singer, actor, comedian. Yes I know it’s too much to pursue, but my main focus has always been music. I love pop music and I love mainstream music that’s on the radio, music that everyone knows, music that makes you want to jump up and dance. My sound is very much influenced by American pop music, but I remain unique to my own pop sound with a little Russian flavour.

2. Has music always been something you’ve wanted to do?
From an early age I was around music, my mom was a music teacher, my dad sang and played guitar. My parents enrolled me in music school without asking me if this was something I wanted to do. I would sing all the time and anytime I had the chance to perform. I would! Music was always something I wanted to do. I have been singing all of my life and now I am in Los Angeles releasing an album soon. I was just thinking the other day, how surreal it is for me, coming from a small town in Russia. 6 years ago I could only dream about living in Los Angeles. I randomly met my producer on a street and ended up working with him creating my favourite kind of music. I feel the universe responds to your wishes, if you put it out there and always dream big!

3. Tell me about your new single ‘Locked in the Dream’. What was your aim for the track?
I love this song! I was going to through a terrible break up and needed to get some stuff out. Everyone though a ballad would best capture my emotions, but to me Locked in the Dream has lots of emotion, especially on these trance breaks. I also believe this song is extremely danceable.

4. I’ve noticed you do covers of popular songs, how do you approach a track to make it your own?
My approach is simple, if it’s a fast song I’ll slow it down, if it’s a slow song I’ll speed it up. I like to change up the melody and lyrics up a little bit. I also like singing songs by male vocalists.

5. Lastly, do you have any projects you’re working on? Is there an album in the works?
Yes, I released three singles this year. Planning on releasing the whole album at the beginning of 2017! The new songs I am working on at the moment will be much different from this upcoming album. That’s all I will say! I also just shot some music videos for the songs Locked in the Dream and Powerless I am excited to be releasing them too!

Check out her Facebook and Soundcloud

Also if you’d like to know more about her latest single, read my review

Locked in the Dream by Ksenia Valenti Review

Released in early March, Locked in the Dream is the third single from Ksenia Valenti’s upcoming album. The singer herself is a very talented vocalist, songwriter, actor and comedian who competed in the Russian reality show Sing If You Can. Citing one of her earliest musical memories as hearing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s fair to say I had high hopes for the song and her vocals.

On my first listening, the musical aspect that stuck out to me was the electronic melodious part just after the chorus. It sounded slightly creepy but fit in with the subject of dreams that’s explored in the lyrics. I liked how it followed the familiar formula of a dance track, with the first half of the chorus using less layers than the latter half as well as a build up to a climax in the third verse. Although, I did expect a bigger climax which would have made the track more pleasing. I also think the song could have ended straight after Ksenia stopped singing. It would have made more of an impact, which in a primarily dance track is ideal.

When it came to Ksenia’s vocals I found that her voice has an absolutely classic pop sound. It was clear that she had very good vocal training; her tone was well supported and I didn’t hear one pitchy note. In fact, on the word ‘can’t’ in the lyrics ‘I keep you locked in a dream because you and I just can’t move in’ she changed into her higher register smoothly and seemingly without effort. My only issue with the vocal delivery was in the third verse on the repetition of ‘waking up in the night because I hear the music’. The first time Ksenia sings the lyric it’s fairly low, so I think the repetition could have been an octave higher. This would have contributed to the build up and climax that I discussed previously.

Overall, I think this track is catchy and worthy of a ranking on the dance charts. There were a few little things that could have improved the song, but it was well written, sung and produced. I give it 9/10.

Check out her SoundcloudFacebook Page and her Website

Find out more about Ksenia in my interview with her

Feather by BREATHE: Album Review

British artist BREATHE releases his new album soon and gave me the opportunity to have a listen and share my thoughts on it. With particular interests in metal and progressive music, it’s clear that his eclectic style has yet to transform into a particular sound. However, this latest album certainly brings together many elements that the Seed EP did not, and is a step in the right direction to finding his niche.

The album begins with the familiar prelude of Seed vol 1, with its low, sultry piano chords and excellently timed beat. Lift, with vocals by Helen Victory, was an amazing match. The vocal prowess of Victory lends itself to the crescendo of the music, especially when she transitions into her falsetto. I would have liked to hear the drums come crashing in straight after the vocals; I found myself waiting for the beat to come in for too long.

Back Again had seemless transitions between sections, with the vocals sung in a different accent than the usual American (a nice change). I think Matthew James (the vocalist) needs to work on supporting his voice through his diaphragm so his pitch is more steady, but definitely has potential as a singer. The Clay interlude reminded me of a ticking clock, with the subtle build up of layers and brief break in the middle creating an interesting sonic picture reminiscent of typical movie scenes where a character travels to a new and exciting place.

BREATHE


With vocals by Jake Brown and Zahid Qureshi, the title track Feather poses an interesting contrast. The lyrics are quite heavy, and the lightness of the piano brings out the emotional significance of the vocal line. It also contrasts with the effect put on the melody, creating what sounds like a physical distance when the whole song is quite personal. Probably the best part of the song was when the electric guitar cane in. Definitely a good choice to bring the message home.

The last two tracks, Nerves and Seed vol 2 were probably my personal favourites. The former had an interesting solo guitar bit intermingled with arpeggios on the piano, and although together they sounded confusing, both parts separately were catchy. Will Heggadon’s falsetto was amazing, transitioning between his vocal ranges was also expertly executed. Seed vol 2 was based loosely on a pentatonic scale, differing enough from the other tracks to make it interesting but not enough to seem out of place.

All in all, this is a solid debut album. I think there could have been some improvements, mostly minor. Definitely a step in the right direction for finding the perfect sound. I give it 8/10.