Areli Castro, better known as KiNG MALA, released her debut EP GEMiNi this month. After several singles were put out in the last two years, we finally have a collection from the alternative soul artist!
“I realized that as different as each song is, the whole EP is just 2 sides of the same coin playing out over and over again, 2 versions of the same character. So that is the reason I chose the name gemini, to represent the balance and chaos between two halves of the same thing,” says KiNG MALA. With that as an introduction to the EP, I was more than ready to dive in.
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be “If I Try to Find You,” which was released as a single earlier this year. The song weaves us through mellow verses with a simple beat but overlaid with haunting background vocals, and then erupts into a passion-filled chorus.
We get three songs on the EP that we haven’t heard before: “B4U,” “Give Me,” and “Funeral.” In all of the songs KiNG MALA shows us her badass, confident side, but then flips and shows us someone who wants to stay home or escape the life she’s living. And while both of those sides seem so different, she shows us that in life and in music, they are in balance.
Comprised of Cincinnati, Ohio natives John Vaugh, Ben Lapps, and Matthew Carter Alvarado, PUBLIC began their musical careers in 2012 with their first EP Red. They’ve played for major festivals such as Forecastle, CMJ, and SXSW and are recognized for their TikTok famous song “Make You Mine”.
PUBLIC’s newest single “Splash” features a funky bassline and a strong catchy pre-chorus that according to some listeners can sound like “drown your best friend and eat your parents” but still catchy all the same.
Though the actual lyrics “charm your best friend and meet your parents” are not nearly as morbid, according to PUBLIC themselves, this upbeat and lively tune came about during a tough time in their lives.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CROWDSURFER: What was your inspiration for “Splash”?
Matthew Carter Alvarado, Bass, Synth, and Vocal: The initial idea for “Splash” came about in January 2018. The band had been going through a rough patch – we were wearing ourselves thin grinding on tour, didn’t have a team other than our parents and each other, and we weren’t quite sure how much longer we could maintain our career for.
On the way to the recording studio, I recorded an unintelligible voice memo of what would become the chorus melodies for the song, the only coherent words being “Splash of Sun”.
Fast forward to 2020 and that same idea still seemed both relevant and relatable. Instead of dwelling on the inability to grasp what the future held, we wanted to twist that dark idea into something vibrant and joyful, finding energy and hope in the prospect of someone or something bringing a light to our lives.
CS: What was the process like making this single? Was it one that seemed to write itself or did it seem to take more thought?
Matthew Carter Alvarado: Compared to co-writes we had done in the same room as other songwriters and producers, we had definitely felt some difficulty finding our groove when trying to coordinate across our computer screens. However, when it came time to write with producer and now close friend, Lindgren, we immediately felt like we were on the same page.
As the band boys went about diving into the vocal melodies and themes, Lindgren was on the other end composing the instrumental demo of the track. I think it was the first time we had felt both relieved and excited to have so much chemistry across a platform like Zoom that had once seemed so flat and lifeless.
It was a giant breath of fresh air having a product come together so quickly and effortlessly and gave us a good kick in the right direction, both mentally and emotionally, for future co-writing opportunities.
CS: How has quarantine been treating you? How has creating music changed during a global pandemic?
Ben Lapps, Percussion: It feels very strange to be at home for such a long period of time!
We have practically lived on the road for years, so we’ve definitely had to adjust during the quarantine. Personally, it has been very good to be home spending quality time with my wife, Phoebe. In that way, it feels like a special time. But at the same time, we absolutely miss being able to play live shows and see our fans.
Creating music has been a very different experience. We are basically writing everything over Zoom. Our newest single, Splash, is actually a song that we wrote over Zoom. It has actually given us more opportunities to work with people all over the world. Never would have guessed that we would be doing so much writing this way, but after a few sessions, I feel like we really started to understand how to make it work.
CS: What is a message you would like to give your fans?
John Vaughn, Guitar and Lead Vocal: First, I want to thank them for being supportive. Pretty typical, I know, but as an artist, it really does mean the world. It’s not something I think you can understand if you haven’t gone through the grind. But our fans really mean the world. We love them and we want to keep giving music that makes them smile.
With that note, be sure to watch PUBLIC’s music video for “Splash”!
And a big thank you to PUBLIC for taking the time out of their day to answer our interview questions!
I’m a few days late to this review, but Miley Cyrus’s new album requires some time to sit with to take in the full effect. Plastic Hearts is one surprise after another: with a ballad taking the #3 slot, absolute icons joining for features, live covers, and a whopping 15 tracks. Buckle up, let’s go!
The first song, “WTF Do I Know,” kicks off the album with an anthemic start. Only a few seconds in I was begging that the rest of the album be exactly the same. Miley has already proven she can remake herself and jump between genres time and time again, but I was hoping one day she would bring more rock influence into her music. And she delivered.
Timeless is a word that comes to mind when listening to this LP, and I can surely see us jamming to some of these tracks for years to come. It’s a rare day when I suggest songs for my dad to listen to, but I know we will both be playing the air drums in the car to “Night Crawling” featuring Billy Idol.
The latter half of the album really slows down though, and that was initially a little disappointing to me. I still like the songs, but I wanted more rock ’n roll, more angst, more songs that feature Miley’s incredible vocals that you can hear in her live cover of The Cranberries’s “Zombie.” Am I the only one who was expecting something a little more exciting out of “Prisoner,” her song with Dua Lipa?
But guess what? Miley does what she wants, and her music is primarily for her. And I applaud that. And I will scream from the mountaintops in support of topics she covers: about sexist double standards, about how being LGBTQ+ is normal, and about being unapologetically herself and loving it.
You’ll find me later learning to play “High” on the guitar and being thankful that Miley was able to salvage the music that was lost in the fire that burned down her home in LA.
Dallas-based musician Barret Turner has been writing music for many years but has only recently begun releasing the tracks. We’re excited to introduce you to his songs! Read on to learn about Barret’s latest single “Always You” and everything he has planned next.
CROWDSURFER MAG: Your latest single “Always You” came out last month. What does this song mean to you?
BARRET TURNER: I made it a long time ago, and it was about my friend’s mom battling cancer. I brought I back with the newer stuff I make, and now I feel like it represents his journey after his mom passed away. I feel like he kind of lost himself and now he’s getting back to who he was.
CSM: We’re fans of Will Jay, so we were excited to see him featured on this song. How did bringing him onto the project happen?
BT: I sent him an email! I sent him six songs, and he said he wanted to work on “Always You.” He was super easy to work with, we’d send each other lyrics and melody ideas back and forth, and that’s how the song came about. Quarantine hit so we had to do everything over email.
CSM:It’s so wild that this all had to go down over email!
BT: Yeah, and I wish it wasn’t like that, but I was like, man I’d love to work with Will Jay, he’s so good. So I feel very lucky that he accepted the offer.
CSM:“Always You” follows up “On Purpose” which came out one month earlier. Can we expect another song this month?
BT: I’m putting a song out every month! October 30th is the next one called “Never Stood.” It’s different than the other ones, it’s more vibey, chill-in-your-car-at-night kind of song.
CSM:“Always You” and “On Purpose” are both very emotional. What’s your writing process like when turning these personal stories into music?
BT: I like to write at night, and I’ll get an idea in my head and start dabbling with that. I normally start with the piano chords, and I’ll start building off of that. I like that epic, kind of sad build up towards the end that’s inspirational.
CSM:We all like sad songs! Who are your biggest inspirations in music?
BT: I always liked Martin Garrix and how his songs are kind of chill but at the end your brain is just mash because you’re so involved with the song. I also really like Hootie and the Blowfish. It’s a totally different type of music but it’s very emotional and real.
CSM:So you’ve got more singles to release, and do you have anything else in store for us?
BT: Yeah when I put this next song out I’ll have the lyric video and another music video for that. And then, next month, same thing. I’d like to play show but obviously that’s not happening right now!
CSM:Whoa, that’s a ton. How are you managing to get all of that out every month?
BT: I usually have someone do the lyric video, but I’ve been making the music videos myself, and It’s hard. It’s a learning curve, and it’s a lot. But it’s kind of fun, too, because it’s rewarding when it’s done!
CSM:What’s one of your goals for 2021?
BT: I’ve been trying to get all of my songs finished and getting them out is really the only goal right now. Just trying to keep going up! There’s no plan B right now, it’s just this, and I’m excited about it. I just don’t want to one day be old and say “damn, I never even tried.”
CSM:Last question, even though holidays are weird this year, do you have any plans for Halloween?
BT: No, I’m sure I’ll do something though! This weekend I’m going to the Chiefs game.
CSM:Wait, you’re in Dallas but going to the Chiefs game?
BT: Oh yeah, my grandpa played for them so it’s a family thing.
BT: Yeah, he played in the first Superbowl. And a lot of the songs I made . . . I lived with my Grandma for a year and a half, and I was making these songs and she would listen. And then she passed away, and the Chiefs went to the Superbowl the next week and won it. We went to the game and it was the best thing I’ve ever been to. It felt like she was there, you know?
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!
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!
It’s actually only 11pm from where I’m sitting now, eagerly waiting with thousands of others to watch the music video premiere of Miley Cyrus’s new single “Midnight Sky.” Regardless, we’re saying it’s midnight, and 12am is the perfect setting to listen to this song.
I was hoping that this single would be in the same vein as Cyrus’s last EP “SHE IS COMING,” but I’d put it more similar to “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart.” Which, honestly, I’m more than okay with! So let’s get into it.
The groovy video starts off with a proclamation that it was directed by Miley herself, and she had announced that ahead of time, too. I was expecting the same sort of boring, low-quality music videos we’ve been seeing put out by artists during the pandemic (and I can’t blame them,) but “Midnight Sky” is full of fun scenes, eye-catching props, and Miley’s bright red lipstick, so it fully kept my attention.
And the song itself? You’ll be at least mentally screaming “I don’t need to be loved by you” along with MC by the end! The lyrics are reminiscent of “Can’t Be Tamed” with lines like “I was born to run / I don’t belong to anyone,” as Miley sings to us about getting out of a relationship of many years. Fortunately, she reminds us that she’s good on her own.
Carly Shea is definitely an artist to watch. Though only in the beginnings of her career, she’s certainly not inexperienced. We had the opportunity to have a video call with Carly and talk about her latest single, the music video, and her plans for more music this year. Read on!
CROWDSURFER MAG: You just released “Waste My Time!” It’s your third single of this year, how does it feel to be putting out all the music?
CARLY SHEA: The first singles I released was more the excitement of releasing, but now I’m just like, I need to do this for myself to have something positive. But it’s been good! I want to do a release every month if I can.
CSM: Where did the inspiration for “Waste My Time” come from?
CARLY: The song itself is the first thing I made in New York City. I just wanted to make this fun, upbeat, vapid pop song. It started out with a melody idea, and I really wanted the producer to take this scale of British schoolchildren singing and manipulate it. It turned into this fun, quirky, dance-pop track.
CSM: I really enjoyed watching the music video as well. Of course, I’m partial to anything set in NYC. What was it like shooting the video?
CARLY: It was one of the most hectic and fun experiences ever. The guy running a pinball arcade yelled at me, we got rained on… It was wild!
CSM: What can you tell us about your previous singles?
CARLY: “Lemonade” is a track that I think is closer to what I’m going to be releasing in the future in terms of the sound. I have two different types of tracks I’m going to be releasing moving forward that are pretty different from “Waste My Time,” “Forever,” and even my next single “Feel.” One is more dark pop and the other is pretty soulful but weird. Hopefully it works!
CSM: Tell us about “Feel!”
CARLY: It’s also an older track, and it’s a track I wasn’t even sure I wanted to release originally. But I relistened to “Feel,” and even though it’s an extremely old song, the meaning to me reminded me of everything that I’ve been going through and that I’m sure that everyone has been going to in quarantine.
CSM: When does “Feel” come out?
CARLY: July 30th!
CSM: Other than releasing music every month, do you have more plans for this year?
CARLY: I’m going to challenge myself to improve. I have a hard time writing stuff that always makes sense, so I want to work on my songwriting and making it more cohesive. I want to keep pushing my stuff, continuing with voice lessons, and I want to just get better!
CSM: So, you’ve only recently began your career as an artist. What do you want people to know about you?
CARLY: I think that I would like people to know that I hope that however they connect with the music is my goal. It’s important to me that you can take something away from it. And that I want to create music and art that is true to myself. Sometimes it will be super fun, upbeat nights out, and sometimes it will be about traumatic experiences. I want people to know I don’t want to shy away from what makes life life.
CSM: Last question: If you could tour with anyone, who would they be?
CARLY: That’s a really good question! Part of me says it should be relevant genre-wise, so I’d say it’d be really cool to tour with Dorian Electra or someone like that. But deep down if I could tour with anyone it would be Hall & Oats or Steely Dan… that would be the dream!
“Waste My Time” is out now and you can watch the music video here!
You probably know The Unlikely Candidates from their hit song “Novocaine,” which just topped Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart in March. We got to talk with lead vocalist Kyle Morris about their latest single “High Low” as well as making music and staying creative during this pandemic.
CROWDSURFER: It’s been about a month since “High Low” came out, and I wanted to say I absolutely can connect with it. Where did the inspiration for this song come from?
KYLE MORRIS: The song is about growing up, really. I think the older you get, the more people kind of spread out and do their own thing. I wrote this about coming home from tour and realizing that this has kind of happened even more. But I wrote it a week before quarantine happened, and then I rewrote it during quarantine. It took on a new life because the whole thing takes place in a guy’s apartment where he has nothing to do but think about his friends.
CS: You were in tour when things shut down, right?
KM: Yeah, it really sucked. As we were touring, we would hear that the last venue we were at was closing. We were like, this is catching up really fast. Then we played in the middle of nowhere Wyoming and there was a blizzard. So we stayed there in a cabin, completely snowed in, and we had to make the decision to leave tour. It kind of felt like the end of the world.
CS: Was the process of making this song different because of restrictions of the pandemic?
KM: Usually I’ll go and track the vocals at my producer’s studio, but we couldn’t do that. So, I basically had my producer on Facetime and he would help me, but I was just in my closet at home. So that song was recorded in my closet! Like the old days.
CS: We’re all working from home, even in the music industry! Speaking of, what has it been like for you during this odd and difficult time for the industry?
KM: It’s been rough because we had a #1 single, and this was the year that we were supposed to harvest the fruits of our labor. And we didn’t really get to do that. So we started Flatten the Hump Day, our weekly stream, to give people something to do. We’re coming up on our 16th week of doing it which is absolutely insane.
CS: I’m so impressed by that!
KM: Yeah, I think we’re doing it to stay sane at this point! We’re running out of ideas though. We only have so many songs, but we’ve been trying to mix it up. One week we did emo week and covered our favorite emo songs. We all dressed up with black wigs and fingerless gloves, it was pretty ridiculous.
CS: Well, I definitely want to watch the emo week one.
KM: The emo week one was pretty good. Not gonna lie, it was a little rough to sing. Those voices are pretty high!
CS: I realize it might be hard to answer this question, but what’s next for The Unlikely Candidates?
KM: Just trying to write as many cool songs as possible. Last year I didn’t get to write that much because we spent a lot of time promoting “Novocaine.”
CS: Do you think you’ll be able to get out to LA for recording or will there be more closet songs?
KM: It’s basically all closet stuff. But it’s pretty dope! I’ve had people ask me if I’m going to keep doing this afterwards, and I’m like yeah. I think that this works just as well.
CS: Anything else you want us to know?
KM: We have a video coming up for “High Low.” And stay tuned for Hump Days 19-55! Maybe a drive-in theater, too. I’ve been trying to set one of those up.
CS: We’re fans of drive-in concerts, so I hope you get to play one! Thanks for taking time to talk today!
KM: Thank you! Keep watching Flatten the Hump Day at 3PM central!
“High Low” is out now, and you can listen to it here.
You might know electronic duo NOTD from their songs “I Wanna Know” featuring Beat Miller or “So Close” featuring Georgia Ku, which came out in 2018. NOTD continues to prove that they can create hit after hit with their latest single called “I Don’t Know Why.”
The song, released today, features Astrid S. Her ethereal vocals complement the upbeat track, resulting in a mix that will make you want to dance and sing along with her. We dare you to try to not break out any dance moves during the chorus! Catchy from beginning to end, you’ll find this song stuck in your head. Even if you don’t know any other words than “I don’t know why / oh, I don’t know why,” we bet you’ll be humming the tune throughout the day.
Take a listen here, watch the official video here, and be sure to keep your eyes and ears on NOTD! We sure will be!