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Welcome to IM’s Roundup for April 2020. This month, we’re doing things a little differently as we have included some projects that may be a little different from the usual. With a flood of music on streaming platforms – we’d just like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for your support and to every artist who has sent us submissions – we appreciate you. Okay, let’s get into it.   

Aya Bleu – On Reflection

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Looking like a PLT campaign 🤪

A post shared by Aya Bleu 💙 (@ayableu_) on Mar 20, 2020 at 2:20pm PDT

Manchester based singer songwriter Aya Bleu is killing it. If you’re dealing or have dealt with a situation that is low-vibrational and people who are only attracted to your light, ‘On Reflection’ is for you. Produced by 2WIN AGE, the powerful message in the lyrics (co-written by Misha B) is accompanied by nu-classic RnB rhythms.

Aya has years of performing arts experience under her belt and has decided to set her own stage this year. On reflection, she said “sometimes we find ourselves in relationships that we know we shouldn’t really be in, and we stay and accept the things we know are not right. In my case, I did not want to leave this person and I would never question anything he did even though my gut told me otherwise and was proven right.” Ignoring your instincts will cost you in the long run, babes. Reflect often.

Full Crate – Getaway ft. Latany Alberto & Umeer

Dutch-Armenian musician Full Crate came together with soul songstress Latany Alberto & wordsmith Uhmeer on a jam called Getaway filmed in an upscale recording studio. If, you’ve not yet had the opportunity to hang out with some creatives-at-work, this music video is pretty much what it looks like on the good days. When Uhmeer says “Arch is the artist of my intelligence” – THAT PART, fam.

See, the thing about this music thing, yeah, is that excellent collaborations are unmissable. This upbeat tune is guaranteed to start and end any and all days on a good note! Speaking on the desire for a getaway, I’m sure we can relate to this little number right now.

Lauren Norstrom – Send Me Your Kisses  

23-year-old Lauren Norstrom is a Capetonian Brit who lived in Dubai for most of her childhood. With a background in musical theatre, her passion for performance is evident in her latest single ‘Send Me Your Kisses’. Miss Norstrom’s perfectionist approach towards music lead to her breakout single ‘Love vs. Lust’ which she released at 22 after spending 7 years trying to perfect her craft – however, when the quarantine struck, she broke out her guitar and ‘Send Me Your Kisses’ was born, a little while after she received amazing feedback on her acoustic version of Love vs. Lust posted in her IG stories.

Filmed from the comfort of her candlelit home, Lauren taps into a different kind of lonesomeness – the combination of boredom, talent, feeling a loss of direction and being single. She’s a believer in combining visuals and performances that leave room for interpretation and has gone on to say “It’s super interesting to see how everyone responded to Send Me Your Kisses. Obviously I understand because I pre-empted the perception with the visuals I paired with the song but, I think if one were to read the lyrics by themselves without having seen my video, I think they would take on a whole different reading of the song. I think that that reading would be closer to the original intended meaning. I’m not complaining though! I love that people resonated with it in their own individual way. That’s what music is all about.” I read the lyrics, bruv and I strongly suggest you do the same.

Honorable Mention: ‘Was It Fair’ was the first video I came across of hers and I’m just gonna say this, neh – nobody is ready for what Lauren Norstrom brings to the table. And you can @ me on that one.

Kelli-Leigh – Just For One day

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South-Londoner Kelli-Leigh released the music video for ‘Just for One Day’, and it’s gorgeous. She announced on Instagram that ‘Just for One Day’ was “shot by my sister Sarah-Louise and edited by me, this is my first fully independent visual production. Filmed in South London, the area which I grew up in and my now home, this video is personal to me to match a song I wrote about sometimes needing to take time out for self-love & isolation’.

Perfect for the life and times, ‘Just for One Day’s power vocals are expressive. Giving me some Leona Lewis-esque vibes, Kelli-Leigh, the Grammy nominee and label owner, is sure to make more waves in the music industry.  

San Rao X Mass Idea – For You

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UK-based duo San Rao and Mass Idea met after responding to an ad online about starting a music collective (which came to fruition and is now called Ova C) and became good friends beyond the art of making honest music, which is something that they truly believe in.

Having taken roughly a month to make, ‘For You’ explores the loss of self-worth when your source of inspiration is a person you’ve chosen to worship. Whilst in the musical doodling phase of the creative process at San’s house, they found a melody and set the tone for the track via the use retrospective piano, percussion, bass and harmonies. This arrangement is godly, and, in accordance with their description, an immersive experience.   

Kyle Chowels – Killer

Kyle Chowles is a South African born creator, student and business owner. He began fictional writing and poetry at the age of 13 before his transition into song-writing, which at the age of 17, was paired up with self-taught guitar skills. His music, having developed over the last 10 years, portrays a reflection of his reality in which his well thought out lyrics intertwine beautifully with his melodic tunes – and Killer is one of them.

This here is a sweet gem. The reggae bounce and raw vocals tell a story of love-turned-murder-by-heartbreak. Kyle’s music is truly reminiscent of a long drive down the beach, thoughts of contemplation in tow. His journey has been one worth noting, making him one to watch as the year progresses.

Tallia Storm – One of a Kind

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21-year-old powerhouse, Tallia Storm has released an RnB-rooted single ‘One of A Kind’. After her discovery by Elton John and stellar performances on X-Factor, she’s grown into a glowing goddess in her own rite, and we’re super proud of her.

Taking us back into the future, One of a Kind reminds me of that seductive era of RnB in the late 90’s to the early 2000’s. Tallia’s single would not have been out of place on a playlist shared by Tamia, Brandy, JoJo, Monica and Chrisette Michelle. Having listened to some of her older music, she has been experimental and dabbled in various sub-genres within the pop/soul atmosphere – however, it seems she has found her sound.

Pluko & Cassette Tapes – Used To

No matter how much or how little you like it, indie-pop music will always find its way into your life and for good reason. This month, pluko & Cassette Tapes’ infectious collab has snuck into our playlist with ‘used to’. With two years of experience under his belt, Holidaysburg’s very own, pluko, has graced main stages, racked up over 50 million plays across streaming platforms and established his very own creative collective called the Splendid Society.

Bass-loaded and almost jovial, ‘used to’ is a follow-up from ‘blessings’ and is a colourful depiction of his musical journey. On the topic of this upbeat & refreshing tune, pluko has said “I still find myself listening to it for fun when I need a mood booster” and we do too.

Fonzie – Champagne Skies

IM favourite Fonzie released Champagne Skies early in the month. Seeming a little bit like an interlude between ‘Happy Belated’ and his new single (we’re going to talk a little about that soon so stay tuned), Champagne Skies came in time to prepare us for the new wave of music we’re going to receive from this rapper.

Produced by Roche, Champagne Skies’ smooth flows and epic transition are a whole mood! From the 3AM thoughts in his lyrics to ice-cold bars, this tune is perfect for those late-night drives under the stars, re-establishing and restructuring goals.   

Jonny Craig – On God

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Jonny Craig is a Canadian-American genre-fluid artist who’s been sampled by legends such as The Game and Bizzy Bone. Making it known that he does indeed have a place in pop, hip-hop and RnB, Jonny released an EP titled “Find Your Home”, featuring hit singles such as ‘Turning The Page’ and ‘DREAM’, which is an audio-visual representation of a transformative period in his life – thus ‘On God’.

Everybody loves a good story about the phoenix rising, and On God is just that. Jonny’s signature rasp and simplistic music video paint a picture of acceptance of his newly re-established place in life. On the topic of newness, Jonny Craig is said to be a dad soon and we wish him well on his new journey! We’re very much excited to follow his journey to the center of it all! Congrats, Jonny! May the music, like your little bundle, keep growing into something great.

Spaces – Rest

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I slept on Spaces in March so I had to tell you about them in April. “Why, Nay?”, you ask. “Why now?” Because you deserve to know the truth! That truth is – “alternative” is the new normal and I’m obsessed! Taken from Spaces’ EP called “Saudade” and premiered on April 16th, ‘Rest’ is a beautiful mesh of downtempo, lo-fi and experimental dream-pop.

Directed, produced, shot, edited and graded by Luke Ross, this milky smooth and stylistically visualised song is one of those that closes the gap between mainstream and underground. Spaces is a genius duo that stays true to their sound, blending the depth in song writing with wispy melodies and stellar visuals.

Projects Worthy of Praise:

Treasure – Suffocation & Air

I was tasked to pick a favourite song from this project… and I couldn’t because this EP is damn good. So here we are. Featured on Earmilk, Live Nation, COLORS, Apple Music, Starbucks and Spotify official playlists, Treasure has garnered praise and support for his 80’s style hypnagogic pop melodies, drenched in funky synthscapes and futuristic vibes – similarly to artists like Jungle.  

Suffocation & Air is a project that focuses mainly on self-acceptance and all forms of love. Some favourites have come from this 9-track collection, however, because of its cohesion and evolving story, this immersive EP is, in entirety, quite an experience. Learning to love thyself, separate from worldly things, especially during a time where you don’t have a choice but to do so, is challenging but necessary. Treasure has had his fair share of struggle over the years and has said “I’ve always struggled to fit in and can’t find my place in this industry or world even, but I’m okay with that. Music is my way of protesting my unapologetic individuality.”

These dark, moody, jazzy tunes and the husk that is Treasure’s voice take ethereal music to another level via the expression of vulnerability. Projects that can be played back-to-back like Suffocation & Air are rare.  

Vôx Vé Dream Theory 1

Swiss native & New-York resident Vôx Vé didn’t come to play. She has one of the most uniquely familiar voices I’ve heard and a story that balances courage and fear. This EP has been the highlight of my year, and as far as I’m concerned, the year has only just begun (like we didn’t blink and miss the first four months lol).

Before we get into her Theory, we need to have a chat about ‘Saint Claude’. Both the video and audio production on this song are exceptionally composed and nothing short of flawless. If you haven’t yet heard the Christine and The Queens version, here it is.

Now, Vôx has a theory – and that theory summarised is that the romanticism of struggle and sufferance, in order to achieve proverbial “dreams” is destructive. Shaken in her sleep on her own, she explores the esoterics of the definition of success and why the journey has caused a world of pain for the millennial generation. Titled “Dream Theory 1”, she has said that this is the first installment documenting the journey towards the center of self and what she has to offer. Based on the beauty and anguish of art and life, this EP should be on repeat.   

We are entering a great phase for music and a place of honesty when it comes to content creation. Isolation brings out our true colours creatively, much as it may be difficult to be productive during this time. Let us know how you’re doing on Instagram or in the comments below. Stay safe and healthy.

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