Erase every idea you have of a “boy band”. Placed together by iconic label Island Records, Citizen Four, made up by Carson Boatman, 22, Austin Percario, 20, Conner Boatman, 19, and Josh Levi, 17, don’t want to get boxed in by other people’s perceptions. They’re goofy and professional, diverse and authentic, with killer harmonies and a laid-back vibe that are sure to help them step outside – and change – the boy band model. “I have three other really talented dudes I can rely on,” says Austin about his band mates. “We’re like a bunch of brothers.” For actual brothers Carson and Conner, the sentiment is literal. “It’s so cool going through this experience with someone I’ve known since birth,” says Conner. Carson agrees, laughing: “I get to keep tabs on my younger bro.” Coming together from Iowa, Texas, LA, and New York, the band members are as dissimilar as their backgrounds. Carson is actor and fitness enthusiast. Austin is an outspoken and spiritual songwriter. Conner is an adventure junkie who loves riding horses, swimming, and camping. And Josh is a Texan social media superstar with an “old soul” who likes to push cultural boundaries. Austin and Josh were finalists on seasons one and three of “The X Factor,” respectively, with Austin also competing on “American Idol.” “We have these four different voices – literally and figuratively,” says Josh. “It’s so cool when we come together.”
Their influences are diverse, too, from Beyonce and Years and Years to Michael Jackson and Tim McGraw. The sultry vocal stylings on the group’s cover of Rihanna’s “Needed Me” are reminiscent of Usher or Zayn, another major inspiration. “We want to push people’s expectations; to be honest and up front about our individuality,” says Austin, who is openly gay. Each band member shares Austin’s refreshing commitment to inclusivity, highlighting music’s unique capability to impact all kinds of people. “We’re all excited to see who we can reach both individually and together,” says Conner. With robust social media followings, the members of Citizen Four certainly know how to reach fans. As a group, they bring out one another’s best qualities – from a particular vocal tone to a new level of confidence. Ultimately, the boys of Citizen Four want to shift perceptions, develop connections and, most of all, make music that means something.
For Urban Cone — four high-school friends from a Stockholm suburb — creating irresistibly catchy, emotionally resonant music that has the potential to connect with fans all over the world is all they’ve ever wanted. Formed in 2010, Urban Cone has enjoyed substantial success in their native Sweden with their debut album, 2013’s Our Youth, and 2015’s Polaroid Memories, which was also released in the U.S. The band’s sound — feel-good, indie electro-pop — earned them positive praise from such tastemaker outlets as Brooklyn Vegan, VICE/Thump, Idolator, and Stereogum. Urban Cone toured Europe with fellow Swedish rising star Tove Lo and the U.S. with The Griswolds. It was during their summer U.S. tour that Urban Cone began coming up with ideas for their upcoming third album, A Whole Lifetime of Happiness, which will be released by Interscope Records/Universal Sweden. Vocalist/keyboardist Rasmus Flyckt and vocalist/bassist Emil Gustafsson had written and produced Urban Cone’s music themselves and this time they wanted to take a different approach. The songs on the new album are anchored by harder, hip-hop-influenced beats and funky guitars, while retaining those sparkling melodies that Swedish music-makers seem to conjure up so effortlessly. After playing the song that would become their new single, the funk-ified “Old School,” for their American manager they knew they were onto something with their new sound. “It opened our eyes to realizing, ‘Oh yeah, we can do things completely differently,’” says Rasmus. “We didn’t have to stay in this one box.” “We thought, ‘Wow, we can do whatever we want with this,’” Emil says. Once Emil and Rasmus had several demos recorded, they sent them to keyboardist Jacob Sjöberg and guitarist Tim Formgren, who recalls: “We were blown away when we heard the songs for the first time. It was like something had happened between Rasmus and Emil and they’d been hiding it from us until now.” Adds Jacob: “The songs sounded like something we’d always wanted to do but never really had a chance to explore.”
Emil and Rasmus describe the new songs as more personal than anything they’ve written to date. Many of them relate to the album’s main theme, which explores the idea of happiness, why it’s so elusive, and why we don’t know it when we have it. ”With the first two albums, we didn’t tell people what the songs were about, because we wanted the audiences to have their own story for what they could be about,” Emil says. “But ever since then, we’ve felt like it’s really important for us to tell people what we think in a different way.”
Urban Cone’s newfound lyrical transparency is a direct result of the bonded friendship these four young men enjoy. “I feel like we’ve never been closer as a group,” says Rasmus. “Everyone has been going through difficult things, like ending long-term relationships, and we’ve been writing songs during this time. We’ve had a dialogue, and I think that you can hear that in our new lyrics. We have opened up a lot. We want every song to matter. On our last album, you can hear that we’re friends. On this new one, you can hear that we’re family.”
In late 2015, Dagny delivered an energetic, entrancing, and enigmatic anthem with “Backbeat.” Following its world premiere on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show, the Norway born and London-based songstress amassed over 9 million streams on Spotify, landed on “Artist to Watch” lists from Apple, Spotify, and Tidal, and earned critical acclaim from The Line of Best Fit and more.
There’s a simple explanation to the song’s meteoric rise.“‘Backbeat’ is like three minutes of joy,” smiles the singer. “That’s what we wanted to create.” It’s almost effortless in its execution—as if it were meant to happen all along. Given her upbringing, it probably was. Born to two musician parents in the small Norwegian town of Tromsø, her earliest memories include falling asleep to the sounds of mom and dad practicing jazz and Brazilian music just down the hall. “I slept better with music than I did without it,” she affirms. At 15-years-old, she vividly recalls watching an Eva Cassidy Christmas concert on television. At that moment, she picked up an acoustic guitar and began tenaciously writing songs, reflecting the energy of the world around her. “Where I’m from, we have 24 hours of darkness in the winter and 24 hours of light in the summer,” she explains. “That affects your mood, and it comes through the music.” Turning 21, she moved to London, started jamming with various songwriters, and performed around the city. It was here that her sound would undergo a profound transformation. “We were doing more folky music,” says Dagny. “When I first got to London, I was taking it all in and learning. I hadn’t found my identity yet. By 2014, I needed something new. I was playing around on my electric guitar and working on the drum beats.
Something naturally happened.” Writing “Backbeat” with collaborator Sam McCarthy she channeled a new spark altogether. Driven by a shuffle of handclaps, drums, piano, and electric guitar, the song gallops with a distinct swing culminating on a big hook. “I sang over this cool telephone sound on the vocal mic, and we just jammed it out,” she goes on. “It’s about the vibe. ‘Backbeat’ is the feeling of letting yourself go a little bit.” As “Backbeat” caught fire, Republic Records signed Dagny, and she immediately set out to work on her debut EP in Los Angeles. The five track Ultraviolet EP was released on September 2nd and features new material that DAGNY recorded with a dream team of collaborators including Tommy English (Børns, Tigertown, Ladyhawke), Dave Bassett (Elle King, Fitz and the Tantrums), Mattman & Robin (Tove Lo, Ellie Goulding, Taylor Swift) and Justin Tranter (Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, The Knocks, KYGO), as well as “Backbeat” and “Fool’s Gold” featuring BØRNS, which Dagny released to fans early this summer. With “Fool’s Gold” sitting at #4 on the Norwegian radio charts, a 15 date tour across Europe in February, and early support from the likes of The Guardian, Pop Culture, Zane Lowe, and BBC’s radio 1’s Scott Mills, Dagny is ready for a busy year in 2017.
Atlantic recording artist and pop powerhouse, JoJo, has made a triumphant return to the scene with her first new album since 2006, MAD LOVE. The dynamic album made a spectacular chart debut following its first week in release, debuting at #1 on the iTunes Pop Albums and Billboard Pop Albums charts, as well as entering the SoundScan/Billboard 200 at #6, and #2 on “Digital Albums”. MAD LOVE. is already earning wide-ranging media attention, spanning from Entertainment Tonight to Vogue, The Fader, MTV.com, and Elle, which praised the album’s “wide stylistic influences, ranging from slow-strutting electro-pop in Alessia Cara collaboration ‘I Can Only.’ to minor-key R&B in ‘Honest.’ and a sugary Motown-toasting title track.” “A bona fide comeback,” raved Idolator, “JoJo is finally at a place where her talent and life experiences are working hand-in-hand.”
“(JoJo’s) first proper album in 10 years is here in all its triumphant, soulful glory,” noted NYLON, “MAD LOVE. is a long time in the making, but man, was it worth the wait. Determination truly pays off.” JoJo has always been extremely passionate and outspoken about body image & the importance of self-confidence. She recently penned an inspiring essay about these topics for TIME Magazine’s MOTTO. JoJo also recently wrapped a major North American summer tour alongside Fifth Harmony and performed her lead single, “No Apologies.” (the clean version of “F*** Apologies.”) live on NBC’s TODAY. JoJo first broke out onto the pop-music scene at the age of 13 with 2004’s debut single, “Leave (Get Out)”, which reached the pinnacle on Billboard’s “Pop Songs” chart, making her the youngest-ever solo artist to have a #1 single in the United States.
The young artist Maggie Rogers, who grew up playing banjo in Maryland, was working on her music at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She played an early version of the song during a Masterclass taught by Pharrell Williams. After it was posted on YouTube, acclaim began pouring in from a dizzying number of media outlets. Pitchfork said, “‘Alaska’ is one of those songs where the beat is so palpable, the rhythm so ingrained in every fiber of the music…the flow is maintained through a stunning waterfall of Rogers’ folksy falsetto harmonizing with itself.”
SPIN marveled at how it, “blends folk, electronic, and pop music sensibilities to form an entirely new hybridized sound.” NPR Music recently included “Alaska” in their Top 100 Songs of 2016 List and The New Yorker named “Alaska” one of their Three Most Listened To Songs of 2016. The track also appears in the Top 10 of Gorilla vs. Bear’s 101 Best Songs of 2016 while Pigeons & Planes deems Rogers one of the Best New Artists of 2016 and Baeble declares she is one of the Top 10 Breakthrough Acts of 2016.
Seventeen-year-old singer, dancer, and songwriter Aanysa is gearing up to release her first album with RCA Records. The cross-genre artist brings us music that combines 90’s pop-R&B and Nu-Disco.
Aanysa seeks her inspiration from female powerhouses like Beyoncé and Janet Jackson who have influenced her both musically and as an entertainer as a whole. The Kansas City-born and now Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has been a performer her entire life, with her unique dancing style being cultivated over the past few years living in LA all while she continues to develop music. The lead single off of her debut album, “Burn, Break, Crash”, which is produced by U.K. DJ duo, Snakehips, perfectly captures Aanysa’s unique signature and extremely catchy sound. Aanysa’s debut album is set for release in 2017.