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Kat Krazy Remixes The Good Natured's New Single '5-HT' [Interview]

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Leave it up to Kat Krazy to serve up a remix of The Good Natured's terrific new single "5 HT" that properly maintains the song's mildly twisted undertones but adds a potent dancefloor punch to original production. The British remixer extraordinaire flips the song up its head by incorporating hyper-melodic, raving synth stabs and a bumping new groove that takes the song to a whole new level of alt-pop greatness.

Kat Krazy's revamp of "5-HT" was directly inspired by the unusual, yet meaningful title of the song. "I looked into the title name 5-HT (scanning through good old Wiki) to find out the that it is serotonin," Kat Krazy (aka Ben Preston) writes me. "It's a neurotransmitter that also plays a role in our anxiety.This was great inspiration for the remix."

He explains, "I wanted to keep the verses complex and chunky, then build in a euphoric breakdown/bridge with the chorus Vocals to reflect what I feel when I think of 5-HT," he adds. "The original vocal was very different to many I'd worked with before and Sarah Mcintosh just delivers such a lush sound and tone here." And we couldn't agree more. Make sure to also check out Kat's recent remixes for Misha B, Labrinth and Marina & The Diamonds.

On a related Good Natured note, make sure to also check out the group's new Christmas single, "Christmas Wrapping" that was produced by Martin "Cherry Chery Boom Boom" Kierszenbaum. It's a cover of The Waitress' original that the British trio recorded together with Cherrytree Records artist Colette Carr. Listen to it here. (The Good Natured "5-HT" will be released in the U.K. early next year.)

December 18, 2012 | Permalink

Listen to Röyksopp & Susanne Sundfør 'Running To The Sea'

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Röyksopp's exquisite new single "Running To The Sea" comes just in time to light up the dark, moody days of winter. The Norwegian duo has been holed up in the studio ever since the release of "Junior" and "Senior" in 2009 and 2010 respectively. "Running To The Sea" takes fans back to the warming ambiance and shimmering beauty that marked the introspective qualities of "Senior."

Introduced by a delicate piano riff and the angelic vocals of of Susanne Sundfør, the song slowly builds to a bright electronic soundscape that is quintessential Röyksopp. In a recent interview, the duo talks about what inspires their signature electro pop. "We were born in the late seventies and were children of the eighties," Sven and Tjorborn explain. "Obviously, growing up in Tromsψ, where we were, you live under the stars and nature is very present living above the Arctic Circle, so there was a fascination for stars and the universe combined with a fascination for movies like Star Wars or Alien."

Sven adds, "All these things are intertwined, and as a kid of that age my parents would play anything from The Bee Gees to Abba on the one side to contemporary pop, while my big brother and sister would play whatever was moving in the charts. As a child, if I listened to The Beatles and saw the cover I would automatically identify and recognise the sounds in the music with the instruments on the pictures, but electronic music was more mysterious, again, very related to space"

On a related note, songstress Susanne Sundfør is certainly not new to the music scene. She's a celebrated singer and songwriter in Norway who has released several albums including the number one album "The Sillicone Veil" that she released earlier this year. (You can download "Running To The Sea" exclusively in Royksopp's webshop.

December 17, 2012 | Permalink

Ellie Goulding Dazzles London's 02 Brixton Academy [Concert Review]

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 By Steven Siegel

It seems like every hot act of the moment is playing at London’s famed O2 Brixton Academy.  I covered Labrinth's excellent show at the venue a few months back and more recently, Two Door Cinema Club recorded a live LP there as part of the special release edition of their second album "Beacon." The truth is, nearly every great British artist from the past five years has headlined Brixton Academy at some point on his or her rise to greatness.

Thus, into the fray struts Ellie Goulding, the 25-year-old native of Northern England.  Readers of this blog will know that Arjan has covered Goudling’s rise from the very beginning.  Furthermore, Arjan has had a chance to sit down with the songstress herself multiple times over the years, including an excellent ARTIST#TALK from this past summer.  Far from her days recording in producer Starsmith’s university flat, Goulding is now a trans-Atlantic star, with her single “Lights” hitting #1 in the U.S. in a record climb to the top.

However, while she did drop a particular forceful addition of “Lights” mid-set tonight, most of Goulding’s Brixton material came from her recent second LP "Halcyon."  With such intricate production laced all over the record, I was pleased to find that much of the material gained new texture and sonic intricacy on stage. Goulding opened with several cuts from the new album, including "Figure 8," "Don’t Say A Word" and "Halcyon."  Of the set-lists first six songs, only the Starsmith produced "Salt Skin" snuck in from her first album.

The great thing about Ellie’s music is that when you strip away all the intricate electronic production, the core of her songs revolve around simple piano and acoustic guitar.  Indeed, Ellie treated her audience to several acoustic renditions throughout the night.  "I Know You Care" and "Guns and Horses" provided a nice emotional break mid-set, while her cover of Elton John’s "Your Song" inspired the sold out arena into a three minute sing-a-long during the encore.

It wasn’t all down-tempo though.  After a tricky key change from "Only You" into "Under The Sheets," Ellie played her most recent successful single, "Anything Could Happen."  While still a relatively fresh cut in the States, the London crowd immediately squealed with joy upon hearing the catchy intro riff with Goulding’s chopped vocals.  The Herefordshire native also switched it up a bit at the end with a dubstep outro on "Lights" that highlighted the influence this particular genre has had on her over the past year or so.

For me, the absolute highlight of the night was actually her closing song of the evening, "Starry Eyed."  Of any song from her first two albums, this one transitions most exquisitely from studio to stage.  The additional piano trills (reminiscent of the infamous Russ Chimes remix) added during tonight’s live performance helped quite a bit as well.

I remember seeing Goudling’s first few releases on New York indie Neon Gold back in the day and it’s truly amazing to see how far she’s come.  After tonight’s sold out show, she too can now add a Brixton Academy sell out to her CV.  Is Wembley next? (Ellie Goulding photo via KarmaChang on Flickr.)

(Note from Arjan: I'm in Shanghai, China on a special assignment for the next few days with limited access to the web and social media. ArjanWrites.com pal and pop-loving, in-house dance music expertSteven Siegel will be filling in with a couple of posts this week to get you the latest about what's hot and happening on the London scene. Updates from China soon too.)

December 12, 2012 | Permalink

The Good Natured Unveil Video for New Single '5-HT' [Review]

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The Good Natured doesn't mask their true pop intentions and has a clear point of view when it comes to their music. "Our songs are all about bringing dark emotions to a pop place, explains vocalist Sarah McIntosh in a press release. "We call it pop with a heart or modern wave pop noir." Together with brother Hamish (bass and synths) and drummer George Hinton, McIntosh makes up a band that initially started as a solo project for Sarah, but has now morphed into a proper band with a compelling vision and roadmap.

Hot on the heels of their singles "Skeleton," "Wolves" and "Video Voyeur," The Good Natured have spent much of 2012 working hard on their debut album. The first fruit from their labor of love is their forthcoming new single "5-HT" that the group concocted with none other than Richard X.

The result of their teaming with the legendary hitmaker is a grungy, '90s rave-tinged pop alternative record that combines brooding drum and bass stylings with a proper dose of melody. The song's gritty undertones amplify McIntosh's love-obsessed lyrics that compare her unbridled desire to craving a shot of numbing serotonin to the brain. She confesses, "I fall deep/You kill the pain/My opiate/5-HT/Rush to the brain/My opiate." (Note: Serotonin is also known as 5-hydroxytryptamin aka "5-HT.")

For their debut album (due for release summer 2013)  The Good Natured runs the full pop gamut. A press release pumps up anticipation and states that the record will "channel their influences both from the past and the present," and draws "inspiration from sex, love and fantasy" that "they twist through their prism, refracting them into fascinating imagery." 

It reflects the band's ongoing fascination with the bleaker aspects of human emotion that they fuse with massive, joyful sky-scraping choruses - a juxtaposition at the root of most great pop moments. As if creating their debut album wasn't time-consuming enough, the band also made time earlier this year to work with electro-pop legend Vince Clark from Depeche Mode. Together they collaborated on a new song, the throbbing ‘Ghost Train’, which was included on an exclusive mix they made for BBC 6 Music. (The Good Natured "5-HT" will be released in the U.K. early next year.)

December 11, 2012 | Permalink

Listen to Hot Natured 'Benediction' featuring Ali Love [Review]

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(Note from Arjan: I'm on my way to Shanghai, China on a special assignment for the next few days. ArjanWrites.com pal and pop-loving, in-house dance music expert Steven Siegel will be filling in with a couple of posts this week to get you the latest about what's hot and happening on the London scene. Updates from China soon too.)

 By Steven Siegel

Maybe you’ve noticed it or maybe you haven’t over the past few months my dear friends, but house music is pretty grim right now. My ears have had it up to here with the lack of originality in the scene. All the overall overreliance on sterile trance stabs and high-end percussion with blotted, punchy bass has just about run its course.

What was once a pioneering melodic house sound through the works of Axwell and Avicii has become a bland and dying genre. Don’t be fooled by the packed “raves” and club sales. The world may not realize it yet, but were about to see a huge paradigm shift in EDM. Where is EDM going? I don't really know. But ladies and gentleman, may I introduce to you Hot Natured, the project of Deep House producer extraordinaire Lee Foss and Jamie Jones.

A few weeks back, their absolute scorcher of a track, "Benediction," came across my desk and I haven’t been able to turn it off since. From the very first note of the track you can tell this is something different. There’s a certain 'je ne sais qui' about the whole thing. The in-exact tuning of the vintage synthesizers, the richness of the analogue kick drum, and the deceptively simple arrangement juxtaposed with the perfect amount of sonic balance between the various layers.

As the groovy bassline comes in and Foss and Jones add little layer after little layer, you can feel the excitement and energy building. All the various strings, echo claps, and synth riffs lead to what I believe is the true moneymaker of this track: Ali Love’s vocal. Very rarely in my life have I heard a vocal sit in the mix as nicely as Mr. Love’s vocals do here.

As Ali sings, "Feel it coming on I’ve waited for so long/Feel it come my way/ Each and every day,” the backing chords play perfectly off the rhythmic intonations of the vocal. Later, as Ali Love compels us to "keep on burning" through a glorious pre-chorus bridge, all the tension of the repeated vocal is released through an absolutely cathartic chorus. Yes, you’re hands will be in the air at this moment, but unlike in the last few years you won’t be fist pumping, you’ll be gently swaying.

Here’s the clincher with this record: it’s real. What do I mean by real? Every element of the track feels painstakingly crafted, whether it’s the crisp hi-hats and claps or the subby bass line and string stabs. Jones, Foss, Love, and co. usually fray away from the mainstream charts, but they’ve produced a song so good that British Top 40 picked up on it. Jamie Jones even wrote a Facebook post defending his position in the underground because having a Top 40 hit threatens his credibility. Well, sorry to tell you this gentleman, but you just composed a house classic and the plebeians are gonna dig it whether you want them to or not.

December 11, 2012 | Permalink