Following the release of his latest single “Rise Like The Sun” along with its proper EP, Dar.Ra also plans to drop a new album in 2021. ‘Ballads For The Down-Trodden’ has been confirmed to be out by the end of January. In this exclusive interview, the British artist talks about the recent single, the most important details on the upcoming album, but also his various side projects, which include his own radio show.
1 – Can you reveal to us the name of your upcoming album?
I have two new projects out, a single called “Rise Like The Sun” with 6 killer remixes. One from Columbia and one from Sri Lanka from a killer Producer called Vidula who did the “Lights” remix from the new kinda normal album.
I did the other mixes which have a tribal House feel and an Ambient 6 am Chill Out mix. All mixes have a Sunshine title, from UK Sunshine mix, Indian Sun mix to Australian, Indonesian, USA, and Columbian mix. It’s all about not being dictated too in your time here and “Rising Like The Sun” every day of your life.
The other project is more of an alias back vibe and is a compilation of slower more Ballad type songs that I have had released over the years. I am doing a radio show called The Kusha Deep Radio show which is going out around the world through various Radio outlets and I did this show which featured some of the laid-back tracks I’ve done and I thought it would make a great album of torchlight songs. The album is 12 tracks long and is titled ‘Ballads For The Down-Trodden’ and is out later this month.
I am also working on a new album of songs for the spring with a new single planned for the first quarter of the year release.
2 – Were there specific things that helped you get creative?
I’m always inspired by life, it’s hard not to be unless you shut off from what’s going on around you. Even in the middle of a global pandemic, I had two singles out “Stand Up For The Heroes”, “Rise Like The Sun” and the ‘Whisky n Honey’ EP plus two remixes out. I also started doing a new project which is now syndicated around the world called The Kusha Deep Radio Show, which started off playing tracks that I had out over the past 25 years.
I also started doing a TV show with a Washington DC-based journalist MJ Godfrey which is a cultural review show looking at things happening in the UK and the USA. I’ve also written the next album to follow up on 2019’s ‘New Kinda Normal’. If you stay open to ideas and let them flow it’s a natural vibe for staying creative.
3 – Are you discovering new sounds on this new record?
I explore different sounds all the time, I’m getting known for merging styles and creating new hybrids like Rock Step a vibe that featured on the ‘New Kinda Normal’ album which mixed the elements of Rock and EDM together which you can feel on tracks like “Nightstepper,” “The Beat” and “Heart Shape Pill.” There’s also a genre called Gothic Soul which you can hear on tracks like “The Lights” and “Whisky n Honey.” I was feeling the Latin vibe on “Rise Like The Sun.”
I wanted something uplifting that holds no allegiance to what’s happening in the charts but has a classic Santana vibe mixed with that Gothic style vocal.
The actual record itself is truly global, the mixes and mastering were done all over the world, the drums recorded in Italy, the Horns in Portugal, the rest in the UK. I love that about the technology vibe that you can work with people everywhere now.
4 – How many tracks will there be on the album?
The album ‘Ballads For The Down-Trodden’ has 12 tracks and “Rise Like The Sun” single has 6 mixes on it. The new album will have around 12 tracks on it as well, value for money I say!
5 – What themes will the new album explore?
The new album has some wide themes such as loyalty on a track called “No Time For Tears” which has a cool Rock vibe about it. There’s a track about power struggles with relationships on “Don’t Make Me Beg.” There’s a track about migrants looking for a safe place to call home on “Renegade Serenade.” At the moment, it’s looking very love-oriented in one way or another.
6 – Did you collaborate with other artists?
I do work with other artists when the vibe is right. I’m doing a track with a producer called KDX in the UK, a Deep House kinda groove.
7 – What makes your latest single “Rise Like The Sun” special to listeners?
It’s honest, it’s real and it’s played with passion.
8 – What exciting projects can we expect from your label Kusha Deep Records?
All the above and more.
9 – Can you tell us more about your 2021 tour?
We were supposed to be doing a US tour last year, not sure how things will pan out this year but would be good to get out on the road again for a bit.
10 – The global pandemic forced the music industry to try innovative things. What do you think about private live zoom concerts?
I played Rock the Lockdown back in May and we had a few thousand people all rocking out to the set. I also did a US online tour in the summer which broadcast shows into the venues from my studio. I’ve been doing lots of interviews from Brazil to America, Australia, and the UK online which is ace as you don’t have to drive anywhere. Less hit on the climate and you can hit so many more people with a live stream if it’s set up properly.
Nothing will take the place of a jam in front of people, but I think the live stream is here to say alongside the live gig. I love technology though so it’s all good in my book. Be safe out there and looking forward to partying with you all soon!
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Exclusive Interview: catinca Opens Up On ‘Planet Maniac’ Album
catinca is an electronic musician and producer whose uniqueness makes her songs extra special. After experimenting with Electro-Pop/Darkwave sounds, her debut album ‘Planet Maniac’ came to light. For more information, please read this exclusive interview.
1 — What’s the main theme of your new album ‘Planet Maniac’?
To find a way to live on this maniac planet and to seek the truth in yourself and in everything.
2 — Why did you decide to call this album ‘Planet Maniac’? Were there other ideas?
For a long time it had another name, which I’m gonna use now for the second album. As the debut single is called “Maniac,” it just came naturally.
3 — Did you spend a lot of time writing all these songs? Tell us more about the creative process.
It’s totally different from song to song. Sometimes I just have a slight idea… write a few lines and then it lies there for a long time until it gets attention again. Most of the time the lyrics just flow out at once. That can happen in 10 minutes or several hours.
4 — What drum machines and synths were used on this project?
For the entire album, I just used software synths (Analog lab 4, Analog lab V and Surge) with the Arturia Keylab 61. I’m not nerdy enough, to spend a lot of money on analog synths. I also used the Ableton Push for the drums.
5 — Which of these new songs has the best lyrics? Why?
This is of course a matter of taste and maybe also a fact of what you are going through right now and what resonates the most. But the lyrics of “Stay” are going very deep for me and “Black Angel” because that is what happened to me the last 2 years.
6 — If you were able to change something in this material, would you do it?
The truth is… I’m never 100% happy but if you keep and keep changing stuff… in the end, it’s not better.
Can you ever be satisfied? Even when you have millions of streams or whatever you come to the point where you’re not satisfied. I do it in the first place for myself. Secondly, I like the thought to left something creative on this planet when I leave, and third, I’m happy when there are a handful of people I can touch with my music.
8 — Is it important to you to be musically diverse? How would you describe your style?
Absolutely! I don’t want to be put in a certain genre. I don’t even wanna know what my style is because I wanna be as free as possible. Maybe there will be some kind of a red line through my work but be prepared that every album will be totally different.
That I did this freakin’ album all by myself! But I have to give a shoutout to the collaboration I did with Yellow Majesty from Sweden on the song “Forever.” He is just a crazy good musician and did a fabulous job!
And also a big shoutout to Tino Tranquilo who did a super freakin’ good remix of my song “Stay.”
10 – As an artist, is there something different you would love to approach in the future?
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Exclusive Interview: COY SWEDE & J.O.Y Collab On “Never Ever”
This is the first time COY Swede ventures into RnB by joining forces with J.O.Y. In an instant, you will be blown away as the quality of his new single “Never Ever” feels like charting song material. Read our exclusive interview with both artists!
1 — How did you end up working together?
COY Swede: Me and J.O.Y also did “Closer” through Soundbetter platform together. And RnB being one of J.O.Y’s genres I knew we could make another magic track together.
It’s very rare I work with the same singer again. But we speak the same language musically and we connected, even more, this time.
J.O.Y: Me and COY Swede first met up online on Soundbetter (the leading platform where singers and producers meet to finish each other work). He wrote me to be his singer for his track “Closer.” From there on we became friends and collab more frequently together!
2 — How would you define RnB music?
COY Swede: It depends on how far you go back in time, 50, 70, or 90, and our time. Genre changes very fast in our time and gets a bit blurred or, some genres evolve into something new.
But for me, RnB is still pure Soul and Blues and also can be a flavour of Chill Pop and influences rhythms from Hip-Hop. That’s my personal thinking.
J.O.Y: RnB was my first love in music! I remember listening to greatness such as Joe, Brian Mcknight, and Craig David and was impressed by the runs, variation of tone, and vocal skills these guys have! This made me do a lot of cover songs of the RnB genre and me ending up having my singing style from them.
COY Swede: For me, it evolves me as a producer. Gives me more experience. I work only with the best singers that share my passion among the independent areas.
Over the years I also have learned how to know what I’m looking for around a genre and theme for the song. What vibe do I want to create.
Marketing strategies change all the time and we Indie artists work really hard with the tools we have.
The most important thing for me is to keep going and deliver the music to my listeners. Show interest in other artists, be helpful if I can, and also learn more about how to get my music out there.
J.O.Y: Doing collabs is one of the best ways to showcase your music and learn from it. You learn to see different kinds of colors of music. You are also forced to go out of your comfort zone which allows you to grow.
4 — What new things did you learn while recording “Never Ever”?
COY Swede: Well, it’s actually the first time I produce an RnB track 😊 I would be very happy if the listeners can connect to it. The bells in the intro are actually recorded by an instrument and then I added some effects using “Thermal from Output.”
Every track I make gives me something new. I’m very happy with the variated bridges in this track to be a little technical. And my challenge was, how to make a short song feel longer than it actually is. We also wanted this song to have a good hook and a chorus to sing along to.
J.O.Y made awesome work with his skills as a singer and writer.
J.O.Y: As a songwriter, you always get to learn a new perspective after each song. Especially here I evolved my songwriting by having the hook be a statement and the verses describing my story. I will definitely write more songs like this, where the hook is simple yet catchy and the verses a bit more complex.
5 — Who is the main songwriter of this new track? What inspired you to write the lyrics?
COY Swede: We worked from a theme I sent J.O.Y. And for the chorus, I recorded a sample of my voice. Then J.O.Y did his magic. Just a note, only the VOCAL is mixed together from 15 stems to give you a perspective. 😉
It’s also a love song for people that found new love and how to carry it forward. But as a songwriter/producer you are open to how a listener feels about it. You can, “Never Ever” know. 😊
J.O.Y: COY Swede presented me with the theme of the song, and explained it to me pretty well. From that on I felt inspired and tapped into some of my experiences to replicate this feeling.
The unique bells in the song maybe is a slight try to call on that upcoming Christmas vibe. Mariah Carey, are free to make a cover if she wants. 😉
J.O.Y: To all the listeners that go through a tough time right now. It’s that season again when tracks like these are needed.
7 — How would you imagine the music video?
COY Swede: No plan at this moment. Maybe a lyrics video on my YouTube channel.
8 — Are you planning to drop remixes for this release?
COY Swede: No plans at this moment.
9 — How do you spend your free time when not making music?
COY Swede: Family first, I love to travel around the world, health, training, and love cooking if I have time. I also read everything that has something to do with space research and am also engaged in earth’s environment and climate.
J.O.Y: Coy Swede nailed it. Family first. Sometimes music can feel like a job where all you think of is music. It’s good to have breaks to enjoy with your loved ones. Also, it’s very good for your creativity and finding new inspiration to write music.
10 — Lastly, what are your future plans?
COY Swede: Next year maybe I will try to do some more DJ appearances. I did one this year 2022 in Stockholm. Maybe together with my music bro Alan Walker or, even Tiesto would be really cool!
It would be cool to finally meet them both in real life, and talk about music experiences and future experimental stuff. You “Never Ever,” know! 😊
One thing is for sure I will keep doing this, and create more music. I would also like to try to make a score for movies or TV in the future, would be cool, if one of my released songs were featured.
J.O.Y: Be more active as a songwriter and have a lot more placements with bigger companies or TV/Film. I want to watch a show and hear my music in the background – that’s something I can imagine would be super cool and surreal.
Blind Mutation Discusses Experimental Music Video “Shadows”
If you’re into hypnotizing Ambient Techno tracks, then Blind Mutation should be on your radar. Her latest experimental music video “Shadows” was awarded and this exclusive interview explains it all!
1 — If I’m not mistaken, electronic music is your passion. How does this interest has come about?
I actually think my dad’s taste in music really influenced me a lot. He used to put on a lot of quality electronic music for me when I was a child, from classic Depeche Mode to more underground experimental electronic How to Dress Well. So, my interest in electronic music started growing from a very young age. When I became a teenager, my mental health started to get worse, and I started to relate, and thereafter, listen to darker and gloomier electronic music like dark ambient, triphop, or hard warehouse techno. That’s basically how my music taste was formed, and why I love electronic music.
2 — When exactly did you become Blind Mutation?
In theory, I think I became Blind Mutation pretty much as soon as I started producing and composing music which was 2 years ago. I began writing tracks with an emphasis on cinematic melancholic sounds that translated my deep intense emotions, and I still continue to do it exploring more and more ways to express my feelings through music. But, officially, let’s say, I became Blind Mutation when I released my first DJ Mix called “WAVE/PHONK MIX” on SoundCloud almost a year ago.
3 — Musically speaking, who is your biggest influence or inspiration?
I love to answer that question 🙂 I would say that my influences/inspirations have been changing throughout the years. When I was 14-16 my favorite band was Coldplay. I loved their not-that-well-known tracks which were more on the electronic/ambient side, like my all-time favorite “Midnight”. As for now, I very rarely listen to Coldplay. Now I am more into experimental dark emotional stuff like Techno, Dark Ambient, IDM, and Trip-Hop. Some of my inspirations/influences at the moment are Aphex Twin, Arca, Trentemoller, Clams Casino, Hans Zimmer, I Hate Models, and Crystal Castles.
4 — Congratulations on winning Best Experimental Video at the Indie Online Film Festival. Did you ever expect this result?
I was hoping for it 🙂 But I don’t really like expecting something to happen, especially when it comes to receiving awards. Because if you think you would win the prize, and then you don’t, you would probably get upset. But if you don’t really think about it and just let it happen, you get more excited if you win, and don’t really care if you don’t get an award 🙂
5 — Tell us more about how your collaboration with All Around came about.
We met a little more than 4 years ago in college in LA. He was a directing major, and I was an acting major. We’ve been very good friends since that time, and we’ve done small projects together here and there in college and just for fun. Then, when I switched from acting to music and started releasing my DJ Mixes, he began doing all the visuals for them. So, when I was ready to release my debut track “Shadows”, I knew that All Around would be my director, cinematographer, and editor. We have a similar vision when it comes to art (music/video/films, etc.), and so it’s very comfortable and fun for us to work together.
6 — Would you interpret this clip as a short horror film or is it something else?
Shortly, I would say, yes, it could be interpreted as a short psychological horror film. To elaborate: it’s interesting that when we showed the music video to our close surroundings, a good amount of people said that “Shadows” looked more like a short horror film rather than a music video. “Shadows” indeed has a much slower pace than a usual music video. In terms of cinematography, it’s also shot more like a film rather than a music video. But I think I would still call “Shadows” an experimental music video rather than a short horror film, because, in my opinion, it still has a dynamic of a music video, and our initial idea was to create a music video not a short horror film.
Well, the track itself was produced, mixed and mastered in Ableton. As for “Shadows” music video production, My friend All Around who I collaborated with, has an amazing RED Komodo camera, the music video was shot on it. Also, my face, chest, neck and my arms had to be bandaged in the shot all the time. We needed special bandages, the ones that stick to the skin and to each other. We had 3-4 shooting days, and not all of the bandages could be reused. So, I had to buy lots of them. Was driving from one CVS to another buying the entire available supply of those specific bandages 🙂
We also had a chance to work with an amazing super professional makeup artist, Darya Kholodnykh, who did the make-up for the “demon’s” hand that appears in the music video. She managed to find a creative way to make the hand look realistic and creepy although we had a very small budget.
8 — What can we expect from Blind Mutation next? Are you keen on exploring science fiction themes?
I love science fiction, and I would like to explore themes connected to it in the future. But as for now, I think I’m more focused on expressing my inner feelings and emotions through my music, and treating producing/composing/creating DJ mixes more as a therapy for myself. I’d love to dive deeper into the psychological aspects of our lives and have an influence on people’s emotions and their unconscious through my music. That’s what my next release will hopefully do! It’s a dark ambient track called “I come with the rain”, and it’s coming out in the beginning of January! I’m also working on a new dark warehouse techno DJ mix which will also come out around the same time.
9 — What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I’ve always loved to think about this. I am very interested in psychology, so I would definitely study it in college, and then probably become a psychotherapist (do not mistake with psychologist or psychiatrist), I would do scientific research and come up with new more effective therapies.
I would also love to direct and shoot (be DOP and operate camera) my own film(s) in the future! It’s a big dream! Plus I got my first degree from a film college, so I am familiar with that stuff. By the way, I’m also super interested in graphic and game design! Would love to try doing that in the future too!
And just to top off the list with more geek stuff: if I had another life, I would become an astrophysicist to study and explore space.
10 — Lastly, do you have any specific goals for 2023?
The most important and clear goal is to get the artist visa in order to be able to stay and work in the U.S. Speaking of my artist goals, I would love to get my first DJ gig in 2023! I would also love to explore new music genres in my productions (like trip-hop or hard dark techno)! Finally, I have so many things I still have to explore and discover in terms of production, mixing sound design, etc. So, another very important goal is to just continue learning!