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Ro Ransom: An Interview

For some musicians’ music is in their blood. That’s the case for Ro Ransom, the first of many artists to be picked for Sony Music and SamePlate Records’ collaboration. “I didn’t really have a choice. My parents both made music and they just brought me around it so early and I fell in love with it,” he shared during our interview.

The Mystery Boy hails from Harlem, New York, and is set to drop an upcoming EP titled Possessed. When asked what we can expect from this project he replied with, “You can look forward to a lot. The story you see is the different stages of a breakup. The different emotions you go through, the denial, the guilt, that point of moving on.”

These themes are evident in his latest release, “Wraith”, a track discussing carrying pain. While it’s written so that anyone can relate to the lyrics, Ro Ransom wrote the song on his prior experiences, “It was like you know me carrying a bunch of pain for a month and being drunk and high off everything for a month. That feeling of having to dig deep and find the ambition to you know fuck that chapter and move on.”

His sound mixes the modern with 90s/early 2000s hip-hop/R&B. It’s a fascinating pairing fresh hits with a throwback vibe, perfect for any party playlist. This all makes sense when taking into account that one of Ro’s biggest musical inspirations is Justin Timberlake himself.

From his current success, it’s clear music listeners around the world already love him. He’s been named one of Soundcloud’s Artists to Watch in 2018 and his single Prettiest was included in Time Magazine’s 5 Songs You Need To Listen To. Feats like these don’t come to just anyone and these achievements are exactly why Ro was deemed to be the perfect artist to start Sony Music and SamePlate Record’s partnership. “It feels amazing. I’m just grateful and flattered my name even came up in the conversation,” he mentioned when asked about the joint venture.

As far as his personality is concerned it’s clear from our conversation he’s got to be pretty fun to hang around. One of our favorite questions to ask during an interview is “If you were to describe yourself as a mixed drink what would it be?” Oftentimes, it takes several seconds to a minute for artists to pick their poison. Ro wasted no time exclaiming, “definitely a margarita. One thousand per cent. I’ve never had a question I knew the answer to immediately. I’m sweet, light and tasty, but I can still get you fucked up.”

He’s also got a pretty amazing hidden talent. Ro’s a great writer. “That’s just a piece of me that never gets exposed because it’s not really part of my job, but I definitely have super interesting takes on music, culture and art. Maybe one day I’ll write a book,” he shared during our phone call.

At the end of the day, Ro Ransom is an intelligent, hilarious, and multitalented artist ready to take the world by storm with his music. With so many trends from the past coming back into style, his old school sound and new school lyrics might just be what everyone’s been waiting for.

Industry Updates: Sony’s Making Money Moves

Ultra Records Expands:

Ultra Records, one of the top EDM labels in the business, has just expanded its operations throughout Scandinavia by hiring Michel Petré as the Managing Director for the region. Petré will be joining the label, which was recently acquired by Sony Music to fortify artist signings and to find new talent throughout the Nordic region.

Petré has 44 years of experience in the industry. He started out in Stockholm’s first import record stores and has held positions at Edel Music and Ministry of Sound. As for other accomplishments, Petré, Martina and Daniel Ledinsky cofounded Family Tree Music in 2004, which has grown into one of the leading independent companies in the Nordic Region.

This new talent acquisition to the Sony team demonstrates US companies’ growing interest in talent throughout the Scandinavian population, also highlighted by Sony/ATV ‘s launch of Stellar Songs Scandinavia last week.

Activism and Artists:

Many artists use their platform in order to speak out issues they view to be unjust. This week Selena Gomez used her power as an influencer to speak out against children being separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. She discussed this controversial issue at the premiere of Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation in LA stating, “It’s extremely disheartening. There’s a lot of confusion and anger.”

In other news Panic! At the Disco’s frontman Brendon Urie pledged $1 million dollars towards setting up Gender and Sexuality and Gay-Straight Alliance clubs at schools throughout the United States. He’s partnered with GLSEN in order to make this possible. This partnership follows his creation of the Higher Hopes Foundation, which aims to support human rights advocacy in marginalized communities.

Minor Court Victory for Kesha:

A judge in New York has demanded that Sony Music must disclose the identities of the individuals they interviewed during the internal investigation into Lukas Gottwald also known as Dr. Luke. Gottwald is currently pursuing defamation claims against Kesha and is continuing to argue against the rape allegations she claims he perpetrated.

In a decision made on July 2nd, a New York Supreme Court Justice stated that Sony’s argument that releasing the names of those interviewed violates attorney-client privilege was invalid as the release of such names would not disclose the team’s legal strategy.

Cardi B Breaks More Ground:

Cardi B has become the first female rapper with two Hot 100 Number One Hits. With the success of “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It” it seems that Cardi has cemented herself and an unstoppable female force in the music industry. This record was previously held by Lauryn Hill with “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Iggy Azalea with “Fancy”.

Ground was further broken as Invasion of Privacy also became the first album to hold two Hot 100 Number one hits since Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ record, The Heist. Cardi’s album debuted at number one in April, making Cardi B the fifth female rapper with a chart-topping LP.

Giiants: An Interview

“Mysterious” might be the best word to describe Giiants. The band, made up of Adam Bailey, Andrea Rullo, and Cameron Maxwell, is set to make it big. Their first single, “Small Talk,” has already blown up, with 1.5 million YouTube plays and 450,000 streams on Spotify. Their new song, “American Summer”, was released just in time for the 4th of July on June 29th. It’s upbeat, it’s got a catchy refrain, and it’s sure to end up on your summer playlist. Did I mention they’ve been picked up by Ultra, one of the top electronic music labels? Be on the lookout; Giiants is set to take the world by storm.

Typing the group’s name into a Google search won’t provide much information. In fact, the only result to be found pertaining to the band itself links directly to their Facebook page. When pressed for personal details about Giiants, Cameron responded with, “There’s not much out there, and it’s kind of on purpose.” If anything, this just adds to their mystique and makes the listening experience that much better, as the music remains the focus.

As enigmatic as they were during our interview, I was able to discern how passionate each member is about their craft. When asked, “What would you be doing if you couldn’t make music?” they responded simply, “We’d still be making it in secret.” I’ve asked this question countless times to artists across every genre. Giiants is the first group to firmly assert that music is all they could envision themselves doing.

Furthermore, the band is perhaps one of the most dedicated groups on the scene right now. They noted, “We spend quite a while in the studio. Collectively, we’re writing and producing every single day.” Each member has previous experience in the industry, be it through writing for other artists or working on other projects. This balance of passion, commitment, and experience makes Giiants a force to be reckoned with. Clearly, the music industry agrees, as the band explained:

It started with an email. We finished the song and our manager loved it, so we said ‘Okay let’s send it to our top pick labels’. We wanted to shoot really high and aim for our dream labels to start. We sent it to Patrick Moxey, the head of Ultra and Sony worldwide for EDM, and David Waxman. They got back to us quickly and were in.

This desire to make it big is partially what inspired the name Giiants in the first place, according to the band. “That’s kind of where the Giiants name came in,” they noted. “We just wanted to be huge. And we wanted something that didn’t really have any backstory. We wanted to build from the ground up.” The trio believes that their “I’ve made it moment” will be the first time they see just Giiants as the artist name when one of their songs plays on the radio and not just as the last name in a set of remixes. With their current sound, influenced by the likes of Avicii and Empire of the Sun, it’s only a matter of time until this is a reality.

Adam, Andrea, and Cameron have combined forces to become a powerhouse trio set to take over the world, or at least your summer, with their latest hit, “American Summer.” With music festivals and concerts on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how the passion and dedication they feel for their craft will translate onstage. EchoMe is excited to follow all they accomplish as they release more music and their sound develops.

Kate Nash Teaches Us That Yesterday Was Forever

“And in case you have any rage inside because I do, let’s face it head-on. It’ll be like group therapy!” belted Kate Nash during her show last night at the Royale in Boston. Nash is currently on her North American, Yesterday Was Forever tour. The album that the tour is named after was released on March 30th and if you have yet to listen to it, you’re missing out.

Walking into the venue, it was clear fans were ready for Nash. As I was prepping my equipment I heard one young concert-goer share, “This is the best day of my life. I can’t believe I’m here, I can’t believe she’s going on soon, I can’t believe this entire night is happening!”

It’s no surprise her music has had such an impact on so many lives. She’s got songs discussing mental health, songs talking about feminism, and songs about being yourself. Whether you’re old and grey or young and naïve, one of her songs will have a message you can personally relate to. Don’t believe me? The audience distribution last night was filled with people of all ages. I watched a married couple dance together in the back and some twenty-something girls belt the lyrics to “Merry Happy”. Regardless of the large spread in ages, everyone was having a wild time.

The opener, Miya Folick, started things off with a bang. Her vocals were a nice mix of smooth/jazzy and gritty hard rock. She commanded with some killer moves and guitar playing. Her band was equally amped up and left the audience buzzing after their set. As I sat talking with one girl after the set she mentioned, “Miya totally gave me that vibe of the character Julia Stiles plays in 10 Things I Hate About You. You know? With the whole feminist rocker vibe.”

Her song “Dead Body” discusses someone’s refusal to be silent after experiencing sexual assault. It’s a song with a powerful message and skillfully crafted lyrics like, “It’s my sunny disposition that you liked / You poured me coke and vodka / Drink it baby, be nice / And you knew you would get away / So you didn’t try to hide.” Although a dark song, Miya deserves massive applause for using her platform to discuss issues that plague many people.

After leaving the stage it was Nash’s turn to engage the audience. She bounced on full of energy in sparkly fishnet stockings and an oversized green Bruins jersey. Nash spent the entire concert jumping from each side of the stage, making sure to interact with everyone. Her band was vibing, there were smiles all around. Much like Miya, Nash also uses her platform to discuss important issues. Before her performance of Musical Theatre, a song about mental health, she took the time to share “there’s no shame when you put a sling on a broken arm, so why is there shame when there’s a broken mind?” It provided deep insight into society’s mental health misconceptions and left the audience cheering.

As far as repertoire goes, Nash made sure to include classics like “Agenda” but also put emphasis on her newer content. Her energy persisted throughout the entire show and I left amped up with less of a voice than I had at the beginning of the night. All in all, it was a fantastic show and I would highly suggest purchasing tickets if given the chance.

 

For the entire photo gallery click here

Lovelusting over Nate Chung Project

Nate Chung might be one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. An acquaintance from work, I knew about his passion for music and that he’s the frontman of his band, Nate Chung Project, but I was completely unaware of how talented he and the rest of the group truly are.

A college band from Holy Cross, Nate Chung Project is made up of Nate Chung (vocals/guitar), Casey Dawson (guitar/vocals), Sean Horan (bass), Zach Sowerby (banjo), and Frank Dwyer (drummer). Sure, their covers are great, but it’s their original music you’ll want to take the time to listen to. Their repertoire is extensive. Although a young group still in school, they’ve already got an album and EP under their belt. The EP was just released today, February 23rd.

Talking to Nate, it’s clear this group is approaching the music industry from a different angle. “We know that our acoustic pop/rock music isn’t necessarily for everyone, but if we can find the people that appreciate it or connect with it in some way we absolutely want to. We don’t need to be famous to realize our vision for this project. Organically finding our audience and growing together is our focus now,” he shares. This is what makes them so special. Many artists get wrapped up in what feels like a race for fame because with fame comes money and money is what pays the bills. But Nate Chung Project seems completely comfortable staying true to their current vision and sound. “If in time I can build a career around my music and working with EchoMe that would be amazing. But for now, I’m pumped that my job with PwC just got moved from New York to Boston, where both EchoMe and my band are based.” 

The band is dedicated to making music: “As soon as Casey returned from being abroad in Sri Lanka I knew we should begin recording music together. I approached him after Chinese class one day suggesting that we should meet up in the studio to work through some originals. We began recording that week.” Recording originals within the first couple days of playing together? I think anyone can agree that’s impressive.

Their startup story is equally interesting as they’re supported by Holy Cross, a college in Worcester, Massachusetts.When Nate wasn’t able to enroll in a class he planned to, he began looking around and found something under the Interdisciplinary Department. “I came across this offering CISS496 Special Project and I just clicked on it and the description was exactly what I wanted it to be. It read, ‘For third and fourth-year students that have a passion or project outside of their regular academic curriculum,” he explains. In addition, Holy Cross supports them with the Ignite Fund, an endowment at the school dedicated to supporting student projects.

At the end of the day, Nate Chung Project in an incredible music group well worth checking out. Nothing they perform is subpar. Their original content is made up of well-crafted lyrics and their unique sound makes listening to them engaging, while their covers are incredibly well done as they change it up just enough to make it their own while keeping the integrity of the original songs.

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ULTRA South Africa: The Up And Coming Festival You’ll Want To Visit Next Year

ULTRA South Africa celebrated its fifth anniversary in style this past weekend, with electrifying shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg. As the first event of the 2018 Ultra calendar, and with a line-up that appealed to a wide range of electronic music fans, the event proved a remarkable success.

On Friday, February 9, the Cape Town Stadium saw 15,000 fans stream through the gates to enjoy the sounds of Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Carnage, Hardwell and Malaa. Black Coffee, Dubfire and Eats Everything commandeered the RESISTANCE stage in the stadium basement, which was heaving with house and techno fans throughout.

The atmosphere at the show was exhilarating, with fans further rejoicing when the drought-stricken Mother City was gifted rainfall during Armin van Buuren’s set, which also featured a surprise appearance by Mr Probz who delivered two breath-taking live vocal performances of the global smash hit ‘Waves’ and his collaboration with Armin, ‘Another You’.

The Johannesburg show at the Expo Centre at Nasrec welcomed a record-breaking 32,000 Ultranauts through the gates on Saturday, February 10, for what was the biggest and most successful ULTRA South Africa in Joburg to date.

The RESISTANCE dance floor was moved into a new warehouse space at Nasrec, which catered specifically to the house and techno community. Local RESISTANCE artists including Da Capo, DogStarr, Ryan Murgatroyd, TranceMicSoul, and many more got the dance floor heated up before Black Coffee, Dubfire and Eats Everything blew fans away with their hypnotic performances.

The Until Until Stage with MTV hosted the best of the local hip-hop talent, and was bursting with flavour and soul at every moment. The Samsung Galaxy Experience Stage was packed from start to finish, topping off the host of successful brand activations over the weekend.

The Main Stage production and performances stunned crowds at the Nasrec, with a display that was a fitting end to a phenomenal 48 hours of ULTRA South Africa.

“ULTRA SA brings new surprises each year and this year was no exception.  It also brings new magic each time we produce the show, and 2018 was the most magical yet,” says Shaun Duvet, partner in ULTRA South Africa. “Speaking on behalf of the full ULTRA SA team and sponsors, we are blown away by the support of the fans and industry and cannot wait to see what 2019 brings.”

Follow ULTRA SA on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates on forthcoming events.

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(Article and Photography Courtesy of Get In PR)

Cheat Codes: Rave or Concert?

“If you like to have sex make some noise!”, screamed Trevor Dahl of Cheat Codes during their Saturday night concert at Boston College. While technically advertised as a concert by the Campus Activities Board, Cheat Codes’ performance would be more accurately labelled as a rave. With spazing strobes, bass drops, and dollar bills regularly shooting into the crowd, it’s no wonder the crowd became incredibly rowdy.

The trio that makes up Cheat Codes (Trevor Dahl, Matthew Russell, and KEVI) is currently on a world tour, but it played without any of its collaborating acts through the course of the night. As a result, the DJs

had to rely on remixes, hard bass drops, and most surprisingly, a lot of crowd interaction to make up for the lack of artists such as Demi Lovato and Fetty Wap. Over the course of the night, one of the three members, Dahl, stepped out from behind the podium to pump-up the crowd. The other two DJs also exited the podium on occasion, but Dahl went above and beyond by crowd-surfing, holding students’ hands, and tossing dollar bills into the audience. Whenever Dahl’s presence was impending, the audience reacted by swamping into the area. There was no escape.

The live performance varied greatly from their studio recordings. Cheat Codes’ recorded music is known for its distinguishing clean sound, upbeat vibe, and mild drops. It an easy listen for those that like electronic music and the DJ style. This weekend, they intensified their stage presence by relying on much harsher drops and remixes of popular songs. They played remixes of songs such as “Mask Off” by Future and “Peanut Butter Jelly” by Galantis intermixed with their own content. These remixes managed to hype up the audience more than their personal material.

The members of Cheat Codes were there to facilitate fun, energize the crowd, and leave audience members exhausted after a night of jumping around. As a whole, they were successful, though it’s unfortunate their remixes of popular songs seemed to do the job better than their own material.

 

Streaming Stats:

Instagram followers when published: 222k

SoundCloud followers when published: 49.6k

Spotify Monthly Listeners when published: 18,449,779

 

Matthew Griswold: An Interview

A hero- that might be the best way to describe Matthew Griswold. “I fought in the battle of Ramadi, which was the most violent campaign of the whole Iraq War, so it certainly paid a toll on me. But one of the things I was very fortunate to have was music.” After leaving the U.S. Army in January 2009, Griswold turned to music and initially became a voice for the troops during a period of time when veteran suicide rates were at a record high. He now dedicates time each month to speaking to veterans at the Minneapolis VA about his experiences with music and music therapy along with other therapy methods and support tools available to them.

 

Griswold is a native Minnesotan who specializes in alternative folk music and is largely influenced by Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen’s acoustic material. “I don’t necessarily try to write to preserve folk music like other people do,” he shares. Instead, he claims to use it as a resource to engage listeners by utilizing some of its unusual song characteristics. He’s is an independent artist with a publishing deal through Universal Music Publishing and claims, “right now I am one of the independent artists that believes the new wave of the industry is designed for more independent artists, so I try not to focus my career on the tactics that a major label artist would use.” These tactics are designed to appeal to the masses, which Griswold feels results in music that is often impersonal and results in a less personal relationship between the audience and the artist and their music.

 

When asked what he considers to be his greatest musical accomplishment he expresses that it would have to be having his song “She Is The Rose” featured in the season 2 trailer of BBC’s show Copper, “When they made the trailer, they made it custom made to the lyrics. The only audio in it was my song and all the scenes were being acted out to my lyrics”. This is a feat many artists could only dream of accomplishing. Sure, to have a song featured in a trailer is already a major feat, but to have a trailer designed around your lyrics takes this accomplishment to a whole new level. It provided Griswold with the affirmation that the importance he placed on lyrical composition was well worth the time and helped his song chart. “She Is The Rose” ended up gaining notoriety in 13 different countries.

 

Surprisingly, this is not one of the reasons that “She Is The Rose” has become one of Griswold’s favorites. He claims it holds a special place in his heart because it was the song that got him his publishing deal, and was also his first set of lyrics where he walked away feeling as though he was a songwriter. “I’d written hundreds of songs before that, but there’s just something that happens when something really clicks and you know you wrote something special”, he shares.

 

The importance he places on his lyrics can also be credited with the reason he has no set date for new releases. As an independent artist, he’s never bogged down by deadlines and doesn’t have to deal with industry professionals constantly breathing down his neck. This allows him to create meaningful songs on his own time, while his publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing provides him with a steady stream of income to make up for these uncertain release dates. It seems to be a winning strategy as Griswold gets to stay completely true to himself, while still managing to create a living in an industry often seen as cutthroat.

 

As for getting started in the industry, Griswold credits the terrible economy the U.S. was experiencing as he exited the Army with helping him find his career path, “I wasn’t thinking to myself, ‘Wow I’m going to go find a job now.’ That wasn’t a possibility. My dad had been laid off. Everybody I knew who got out of college couldn’t find a job for the life of them, so in my mind, that wasn’t even an option. I had to figure out a way to make some money as I developed my songwriting capabilities, so I started gigging as much as I could because it was something I did a bit of when I was stationed in Europe.”

 

While Griswold does tour for the most part around the Midwest, he has plans to perform in New York City in March for any east coast fans looking to see him live!

Link to the Artist’s Website: http://www.matthewgriswoldmusic.net/