Brazilian guitarist, singer, and songwriter Leonardo Varella has a new single out, and it’s going to make you feel good. “Pocket Full of Change” has a retro vibe that makes you wish you were on a beach, grooving to the music. The chorus is easy to learn, and the verses tell you to stop stressing, and don’t worry about all the bad things that happened to you today. And of course, that nearly 30 second guitar solo is something you didn’t realize you wanted, but you’re going to listen to it again!.
Along with “Pocket Full of Change,” Leo Varella has two other singles out for you to take a listen to, and collaborations across the globe. Each of his songs show his influences of jazz, hip hop, rock, and Brazilian music. We’ll be sticking around to hear his guitar-playing!
Today, alternative pop artist Nathan Zarowny released his second single of the year titled “You Don’t Play Fair.” Following up “Why,” he continues to give us haunting music with emotional lyrics.
“You Don’t Play Fair” is about being somebody’s second choice but not settling for that. The piece opens with harmonic humming, which is one of my favorite aspects of the song. Those hums reappear throughout and become their own instrument. The quiet verses build to the nearly chaotic chorus, leaving you emotionally grasping at something to hold on to. “Now you want me because I don’t want you,” Zarowny sings, with only a piano to accompany him in the bridge, pulling at all of the heartstrings before leading us to the end of the song.
Sound like something you want to listen to? Click here to stream “You Don’t Play Fair.”
Operation Triage’s first annual Freedom Jam happened on August 29th in St. Louis and we got to be there. The day was stacked with musicians who came from near and far to be there, and all proceeds went to benefit veterans. Walker County closed out the show, and they’re stage presence was undeniable! The sold-out event was packed, so we dipped in and out to safely take a few pictures of the bands and artists. Check out the photos from the night below, and know that Freedom Jam 2021 has already been announced!
Eves Karydas is a singer-songwriter who took Australia by storm when her debut album summerskin came out in 2018. Now she’s back, having released her latest single “Complicated” earlier this year. We got to have a long-distance video call with Eves to talk about “Complicated” and what more she has prepared for us!
CROWDSURFER MAG: Your single “Complicated” came out this summer, or well . . . winter for you. Tell me about the inspiration for the song.
EVES KARYDAS: It was written after a series of weird, unfortunate events. I was in Stockholm at the time, and I was overseas for the most of last year. I got to the end of the trip and hadn’t really written anything good in a long time. I was feeling a lot of pressure, feeling homesick, and starting to doubt myself. Then my grandfather passed away, and that hit me harder than I thought. And it all started to manifest in these weird dreams, and I just got to this point where I was like, I have to do something about this. So I took it to the studio and was like, guys, I want to laugh at myself today, I don’t wanna be serious, I just want to confront all of this stuff going on in my mind. So that was how “Complicated” was written.
CSM: Let’s talk about the music video! What’s the concept behind all of the people frozen in the moment?
EK: For me, I really wanted the music video to portray a sense of being stuck in a place where you can’t move forwards. I like how the surreal element of the people in the house being frozen kind of puts you on edge.
CSM:There are a lot of surreal elements in the video, like I love the tub filled with fluff instead of water.
EK: I’ve always had a thing for when film and TV goes down a surreal road. David Lynch is one of my favorite directors so that’s always been an inspiration for me. I just felt like having these people doing mundane scenarios also represents how it can be the simplest things holding you back as well.
CSM:“Complicated” is the first song you’ve released since your previous album summerskin. How has your sound changed? How have you changed?
EK: I’ve changed in that I’ve become a lot more direct. I think the biggest change is that I’ve started confronting my mental health and stopped sort of hiding away parts of myself that made me uncomfortable. And it started to reflect in the music. I wanted my lyrics to be really upfront but with its own version of poetic-ness. And that was reflected in the production style for me. I started writing these lyrics and was like, I don’t want anything crowding them. The storytelling and the vocals, you can’t escape them.
CSM:Will “Complicated” be on a new album?
EK: Yeah! I can feel it in me that I’ve hit that new phase where I’m like, I can write an album now. In the last few months I overcame some serious writer’s block, and I’m really getting back into the swing of things. I’ve got a whole bunch of singles up my sleeve though.
CSM:Speaking of singles, what else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
EK: I just finished up my next single, and we’re planning on putting that out before the end of the year. I’m actually trying to figure out the music video now and wanting to make something that puts you on edge but doesn’t make you feel bad. I think at the moment the world doesn’t need things that make you feel bad.
CSM:You mentioned some writer’s block, what have you been doing to help yourself stay focused on your music during this pandemic?
EK: I moved, actually! I moved down the coast and am living by myself for the first time, and I think that’s maybe helped with the writer’s block because it’s my space. But it’s been really inspiring being somewhere I can just enjoy nature. Living in the city was…I felt so boxed in, especially while everyone was in isolation. I think it’s nice being able to reconnect with myself.
CSM:Since we’re all dreaming of being on tour right now . . . who would you most love to go on tour with?
EK: I would love to tour with…let me think for a second! I mean Harry Styles is one of my absolute favorites and that would be so wild. I reckon it would be pretty cool to tour with someone who is in pop but a little bit of a different flavor like Lewis Capaldi, or like imagine touring with The 1975 that would be pretty epic as well.
CSM:Those all sound awesome, and I will be in the audience if that happens! Thanks for talking with us today!
Skyler Cocco is much more than an indie pop artist. With too many hyphens to put in her title, she does it all. Producing, writing, mixing, and performing, there’s no end to her talents. Today she released another single, one of many this year, called “The Drive.”
Skyler Cocco’s breathy vocals, turning staccato at times, mixed with the dreamy synths paints a picture of the open road ahead and wide sky above. “I thought about it on the drive” is a line we can all relate to, as getting in a car provides little distraction and all the time to think and to overthink. She sings of a mistake made by herself and the hopes to start anew, and while the words should be painful, the music is hopeful and fun.
Go take a listen to “The Drive” and stay tuned for more singles from Skyler Cocco, which we most certainly can expect!
Middle Part is an artist bringing us synth-laden indie pop music that speaks to the soul. Unafraid to use music as therapy, Middle Part writes deeply personal stories in his songs. “& Cry” doesn’t stray from that, and gives us permission to shed tears when things are overwhelming.
“& Cry” is an incredibly moving and cinematic piece. The chorus is simple in lyrics – “Go ahead & cry” – but the emotional impact is heavy. “I really wanna hold you / I’m just not all there,” Middle Part softly sings, speaking volumes in those few words about not being mentally able to take on the things that you want. Preceding those lines is “I hate when I’m like this,” and when you hear it you might start crying yourself into a cathartic release. Falling just under three minutes in length, I suggest keeping the song on repeat as one listen isn’t enough.
Middle Part will be releasing an EP in the near future called I Wish I Was Alive, so keep your eyes out for that and stream “& Cry” in the meantime! We certainly are ready to dive headfirst into his intense music and hope you are, too.
Singer-songwriter Gillian Hedi is one to keep your eye on as she continues to put out R&B-infused pop music that’s so poetic, you wouldn’t believe she’s only sixteen. “What It Felt Like,” the single off of her first EP Unbridled, has over 250 thousand streams on Spotify, and her music only keeps getting better.
Her latest single “fray” comes out today, and we got to talk with her about her previous single “desperate” and her upcoming album!
CROWDSURFER: Your single “desperate” recently came out! Tell us a little about the inspiration and story of this song.
GILLIAN HEIDI: “desperate” is definitely one of the more fictional songs I’ve written. One of the biggest parts of the writing process was developing the characters who exist in the song. Though the emotions I expressed in the song are authentic to my life, the story is fictionalized in some aspects. “desperate” portrays both the guilt and thrill that comes when you have feelings for someone else while in a relationship.
CS: Do you have a favorite lyric?
GH: My favorite lyric is definitely “but there’s something about your danger that makes me fall for your taboo.”
CS:I hear that “desperate” sets the tone for your upcoming album 3AM. Walk us through how your sound and you yourself have changed since your debut EP Unfiltered.
GH: I think that Unfiltered was an undeveloped version of my current sound. 3AM is definitely darker and more mature than anything on Unfiltered. I think that this development really just came from growing up and changing as a person.
CS:When does 3AM come out?
GH:3AM should hopefully come out early next year! Until then, I’ll be releasing a bunch of singles from it.
CS:You’re sixteen! And yet your music feels so mature. Where does your inspiration for this sound and these lyrics come from?
GH: I think that my inspiration comes from all of the music I’ve listened to as I’ve grown up. Some of my biggest inspirations are Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse, and Ella Mai. I think that listening to other artists can really help spark ideas and inspiration in my own work.
CS:What’s your songwriting process like?
GH: I usually start a song with one line or a few lines that I really like, and build around that. I try to stay inspired by doing writing exercises each day, which has really helped improve my process.
CS:What made you decide to pursue music?
GH: I can remember the first time I heard “Love Story” by Taylor Swift on the radio. I was 6-years-old and at that moment I knew that I wanted to write songs. Cheesy, but true.
CS:If you’re still in school, how are you balancing everything?
GH: I am still in school! I take academics very seriously and it has definitely always been a priority for me. Sometimes it can be difficult to balance everything, but I try to make time for the things I love, like creating music.
CS:What else do you have in store for us before your album drops?
GH: I’m dropping a new music video very soon and I’ve also got a bunch of new singles lined up. I can’t wait!
CS:Do you have any goals for this year that you’re super excited about? Whether music-related or not?
GH: This year I want to start recording some of my new music. Since recording 3AM, I’ve definitely further developed my style, and I can’t wait to work on my next project.
You can take a listen to “desperate” here, and stay tuned for more from Gillian Heidi!
German metalcore band Eskimo Callboy is back with a whole lotta new! New EP, new singer, new chapter. And even a new tour next year. They’re latest single “Hypa Hypa” is their second most-streamed song of all time on Spotify, so you know “MMXX” is going to be a fan favorite. And for those unfamiliar with Roman numerals, MMXX means 2020. We’ll take this EP as a positive piece of this insane year!
“MMXX” leads off with “Hypa Hypa,” which is an incredible mix of EDM and metal. If you haven’t seen the music video, watching it is a must. The video and song are so much fun, you’ll be headbanging to it regardless if metal is your kind of music or not!
“Hate/Love” is a personal favorite off of the EP. It keeps up the dance vibes that “Hypa Hypa” lead off with, with just enough screaming. And as we move through the rest of the EP – “MC Thunder II,” “Monsieur Moustache,” and “Dramaqueen,” – the music gets more aggressive. It’s a well-done blend of going from lighter to heavier, somehow balancing these vastly different genres of electronic and metalcore.
The EP wraps up with “Prism,” which is a surprisingly pretty song. It’s not at all how I expected “MMXX” to end, but I do hope that the year of 2020 goes similarly: soft and sweet. Was that Eskimo Callboy’s intent with this EP, to reflect the moods of this year? Whether it was or not, you’re in for a ride when you take a listen to “MMXX!”
Progressive rock band Census presented us with their second single of the year just a few weeks ago. We got to discuss “Sunbeam,” the music video, and the song’s important story.
CSM: Your new single “Sunbeam” comes out today! How does it feel to follow up “Hydrangea” with this song?
CENSUS: We are more excited about this release than any we’ve done before. “Hydrangea” was a huge milestone for us as a band. In a way, it set the tone for both the sound and video quality fans can expect to see from a Census release. We think “Sunbeam” not only fulfills those expectations, but far exceeds them.
CSM: Both the song and music video are pretty emotionally intense. Only as much as you’d like to, what can you tell us about the inspiration and story of “Sunbeam?
CENSUS: “Sunbeam” is about a girl who deals with sexual abuse and battles depression and mental manipulation from her current partner. Ben wrote this song after having a late-night conversation with a friend who was going through some of the same things. He said it broke his heart, pissed him off, and he had to write about it.
CSM: What does the voiceover in the music video mean to you?
CENSUS: The voiceover sections were the brilliant mind of our videographer Joe Lane of Anointed Media. When we came to him with this song and message, we knew it had to be handled delicately. We wanted the biggest takeaway to be how common sexual assault actually is. In the beginning of the video, you hear a girl explaining to her therapist that not even her own parents were supportive of her sharing her sexual assault story. Many people are completely unaware of how common sexual assault is worldwide because victims are afraid to tell their stories. The video ends with the same girl explaining that she has chosen to overcome her trauma in order to give hope to others who are going through the same thing. We want victims to hear those words, understand that they’re not alone, and hopefully feel inspired to persevere.
CSM: I wanted to say thank you for including a resource for help at the end of the video. Do you wish that was a choice more artists made?
CENSUS: Music made for a good cause is still music made for a good cause. We think the video did a good job portraying how common and cyclical abuse truly is, but we also wanted to go ahead and include some resources that can help victims. It’s good for victims to understand that they’re not alone, but they’re more likely to seek help if they know it’s readily available.
CSM: Was the video for “Sunbeam” shot during the pandemic? If so, was it a challenge for you to decide how you were going to create this video?
CENSUS: It was shot during the pandemic! The biggest problem was just waiting for the right opportunity to come along for Joe to come shoot the video. Joe lives in Texas where COVID cases were particularly high, and the rest of us are in Arkansas. All the actors in the video are close friends and family to us, so once Joe was clear to come shoot, we knew the rest of us were safe as well.
CSM: What have you been doing to keep positivity and creativity flowing during this tough time for the music industry?
CENSUS: We’re just writing as much as we can. We had to cancel all of our tour dates just like every other band, but that’s just the way things have to be for now. We still talk with each other every day and get together as often as possible. We figure rather than moping around and waiting for shows to come back, if we just write as much new music as possible while we have the chance, it can’t be too big of a loss.
CSM: I’m truly, truly loving your music! Do you have anything more in store for us this year?
CENSUS: Thank you so much! We can say with full certainty that there are more new music and videos still to come in 2020.
CSM: Is there anything else you want us to know?
CENSUS: Our new song and video “Sunbeam” is available now on all streaming platforms! We love you guys and hope you are all staying safe out there.
When I learned Mokita was releasing a new single, I thought I was going to be in for another dance party. Instead, “Down” is a ballad. But don’t let that turn you away! “Down” is a much-needed hug, especially in this time where our physical, mental, and emotional health are likely to be struggling.
“You’re gonna make it out / you’re gonna fly / you’re gonna find a way just give it time,” Mokita quietly sings in the chorus. Sometimes we need a pump-up song, sometimes we need a loud and strong anthem, but here Mokita reminds us that sometimes we need a soft reminder of our strength. He finishes the chorus with “I won’t let you down,” letting us know that there is someone to support us through our trying times.
“Down” is a sad song with a comforting message. It brings a nice change to the landscape of music that’s recently become full of happy songs with sad lyrics. Both are great, but maybe you’re like me and need a song like “Down” to soothe your heart in this moment. Go take a listen here.