Reginald Hawkins Celebrates Queer Liberation with “Tricks in the City” Video

Photo Credit: Hailey Kasper

Reginald Hawkins has always wanted to be a pop star. As far back as he can recall, he remembers going by “Popstar Reg” to anyone who knew him and performing at any chance he could. However, it wasn’t until February of 2019 that Popstar Reg was introduced to the world-at-large with his debut single, “Playing for Keeps.” Since then, Hawkins has expanded on his brazen electropop with “FRESH” in 2020 and his latest single and video “Tricks in the City,” released on March 26th. In “Tricks in the City,” Hawkins embraces his sensuality, addresses systems of oppression, and pays homage to Black queer culture. 

“Every time I release a song, it’s like a different era,” explains Hawkins, “it’s just really a reflection of who I am right in that moment.” And right now, for Hawkins, that person is an artist in the midst of immense transformation and learning. Growing up in a small suburb of Detroit, Hawkins attended a primarily white high school and didn’t have any friends who were Black and gay like him. As part of two marginalized communities, Hawkins felt himself assimilating to his environment as a means of survival. But since moving to Detroit in 2018, Hawkins has surrounded himself with artists and friends with shared identities and values and created his own community – the Tricks in the City – which catalyzed a period of vast growth. 

“This is the first time that I’ve been in an environment that is gay and Black all the time,” says Hawkins. “Being able to talk openly about the shit that we’ve gone through, as gay Black people…that helps me to break it down and just learn more about myself.” The “Tricks” are Hawkins and his roommates, who are all creative forces of their own. The video opens with Hawkins surrounded by his best friends in formation around a sleek Range Rover. With icy glares and impeccable style, the Tricks embody glamor at its purest form. With his crew in tow, Hawkins goes on to outline his ideal man, sparing no declaration of self worth: “If you wanna chance with me you better fly me overseas boy/Take me on a shopping spree/I got some big designer needs boy/Front row at fashion week London to Paris boy.” 

Hawkins explains that while this song is, in part, about knowing your worth and trying to find a good man in a small city, it’s also about breaking down oppressive structures and finding his true self. “It’s about understanding how I am being impacted by these systemic issues of colorism and racism and homophobia – internalized and external. And how can I not be an active factor in continuing to make those things happen to myself?” he says. “As you let go of those things that weigh on you, you inherently become a more confident person and learn about yourself and love those parts of yourself more.” 

Tackling systematic oppression within the confines of a pop song sounds like a daunting task, but Hawkins does it with ease, weaving cries for freedom between silky synths and pulsating drums – “Decolonize my mind, I am focusing on gettin’ paper/I’m all for that generational freedom that’s all I’m sayin’/I’m here on the right track just a Black man with some education.” His delivery is as fierce as his fine-tuned Voguing that follows in the breakdown. Hawkins explains that it was important to him to incorporate such an iconic part of queer culture into a visual that celebrates his identity. 

“I wanted to really highlight gay culture and show this really queer expression of ballroom and voguing,” says Hawkins. “That is our culture – especially as Black gay people in the United States… If this track is about freedom and decolonization and accepting my gayness and my blackness intersectionally, I need to really include that part of what that means.” 

In peeling back stifling layers of oppression and connecting with the history of his queer community, Hawkins has begun the journey to becoming his highest self. “As I slowly began to shed those layers, it revealed this more real and truer version of who I am,” says Hawkins. “I’ll never forget the person who I was. That person still defines me and is still in me in a certain way. But that person is freed now.”

Follow Reginald Hawkins on Instagram for ongoing updates.

PREMIERE: Joyeur Makes Moves to Quell COVID Blues with “Motion”

Photo Credit: Jessica Chanen Smith

These days, it’s easy to let a whole day go by without tearing yourself away from your computer screen. The isolation becomes a self-perpetuating cycle: you spend all day online because you’re lonely, and that makes you feel lonelier, so you turn to social media or Netflix. Joyeur, the LA-based electro-pop duo consisting of Anna Feller and Joelle Corey, has a simple message for people in this situation right now: get outside.

Their latest single, “Motion,” is about dealing with COVID-related stress by getting out into nature and finding peace amid the uncertainty. “Why don’t they leave me ‘lone/I’m not a hater/I need some trees and stones/I’ll call you later/I saw a sign that warned me it was over/I’m going to hang my phone up,” Corey opens the song with a strong, simple beat and breathy voice that give off Lykke Li vibes. More tracks enter the mix in the chorus, giving it a chaotic techno sound that belongs in a nightclub; you can almost see the colorful strobe lights as you hear the heavy synths.

“We started writing the song before the pandemic, but it really influenced the choice of sounds, which are darker than our usual sound, and the pacing of everything really reflects our emotions about what’s happening — everything happening at once,” says Corey.

In accordance with the song’s title, they also wanted a sound people could move to. “We’ll want people to move to it but also feel some catharsis from the music, a kind of cleansing of everything that’s bottled up inside the body,” Feller explains. “I was using a lot of synth that I wasn’t using before, and rhythmical patterns that were a little heavy and techno-ey, to kind of reflect that.”

The song is off their second EP, which comes out early next year. Much of this project was written during quarantine and explores “the feeling of confinement and breaking free,” says Corey. “That’s sort of what ‘Motion’ is exploring — it’s a constant pattern and struggle, where we truly are playing hide and seek with ourselves. I find myself, and then I hide from that, either by numbing myself with social media or finding myself distracted.” Perhaps the song on the EP that embodies the spirit of quarantine most is “Living Room,” a sultry, almost bluesy ode to dancing in the comfort of one’s own home.

Because of the personal, intimate feel of the EP, the production is simpler and less showy than that of their past work, says Corey. Another difference? On their last EP, 2018’s Lifeeater, Feller did all of the production while Corey served as a singer/songwriter. On this one, their efforts were more split, with Corey experimenting with production by sending Feller interesting sounds, like ringtones she found on her phone.

“She started making up cool beats and melodies and sending them over to me, and I’d work on that,” Feller recounts. On the flip side, Corey encouraged Feller to get out of her comfort zone and sing. “I love harmonies, so I started singing the harmony on the record, which I haven’t done before,” she says. “I feel like we merged into each other and the process was much more fun because it’s more unpredictable, which I think Jo and I like. We like the challenge, but it also gives us confidence.”

The two members of Joyeur — a portmanteau of “joy” and “voyeur” — met when Feller’s husband was mixing a song for Corey. Feller’s background is in classical piano and production, while Corey’s is in voice, and they clicked right away and booked a show together the week they met. It took them a while, however, to find their authentic image rather than catering to music industry norms.

“When I was starting out with Jo, we were just women in the industry trying to be cool and looking good and trying to convince everybody of that,” Feller recalls. “In that process, I was encouraged to not talk about the fact that I am a mother. Maybe people were scared that it would be a turnoff or not relevant. I kind of went with it, and as time went by, I started feeling like we should write our own identity and not be told what this identity should be. I am a mother; I am a musician; I am a DJ; I am millions of things, like everybody is.”

Right now, Feller is pregnant again, which she says has actually aided her creative process. “I’m not experiencing things the same, and I feel like it gave me a different perspective on things,” she says. “Being pregnant really gave me a lot of ideas — my dreams are more vivid, I hear things differently, and this urge to create got even bigger. My brain is kind of changing, too. I feel like I got so much more detail-oriented and am just enjoying creation musically.”

“For some reason, we thought we needed to be 20-year-old sex symbols,” says Corey. “But we’re not, and at the end of the day, we just need to be who we are, and that’s what people are going to connect to.”

Follow Joyeur on Instagram for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: Krissy Booth Shares Eye-Opening Single “Lose Sleep With You”

After releasing her entirely self-produced experimental pop album, VIVID, in 2015, Detroit-based songstress Krissy Booth has fully transitioned to the bright side of pop with her single “Lose Sleep With You.” Where VIVID is built on dark warbly bass and the pain of a bad breakup, “Lose Sleep With You” shows Booth in a completely different light, embracing the bubbly optimism of pop music.

Part of the song’s uplifting aura comes from its subject matter — a whimsical whirlwind romance built around a love for nightlife. “I had just ended an on and off again sort of relationship that was very safe,” says Booth. “I got on bumble, started talking to a guy, and we met later that week and had this wild adventure… I felt really alive after being so sad.” Booth’s reinvigorated outlook on romance is made evident through her whipping vocal line that mirrors the heart spikes induced by a new crush.

Booth’s buoyant vocals are paired with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus drummer John Espy’s booming pop production. The match-up is Booth’s first full collaboration with another artist and brings her closer to mainstream pop’s center. However, the epicenter of pop is where Booth feels most comfortable anyhow. “The music I make feels true to who I am and I’m super proud of it,” says Booth, “It’s pop, I love pop music, and I love electronic music.”

Listen to “Loose Sleep With You” below.

PLAYING DETROIT: Producer Nydge Confronts Anxiety With Electropop on Datsun Turbo

Detroit-based producer Nydge, born Nigel Van Hemmye, releases his first solo EP, Datsun Turbo, today. While Van Hemmye has spent the last year building an impressive catalog of pop anthems featuring other vocalists, this is his first foray as a solo artist. The EP is centered around Van Hemmye’s experience with severe anxiety and how it manifests itself in different aspects of his life. Although the subject matter is dense, his upbeat electric compositions could easily serve as the soundtrack to a VR race car simulation or modern-day Back to the Future remake.

Van Hymme says the opening track, “Immortal Youth,” is a nostalgic rumination on what life was like before he started having anxiety attacks. It opens with glockenspiel-like synths that recall the innocence of childhood. The lyrics follow suit, reflecting on happier times when debilitating worry didn’t exist. “Immortal youth / we have endless days / to find a happy place / it all comes in waves,” sings Van Hymme.

Datsun Turbo also touches on how anxiety can affect romantic relationships. Van Hymme says “Come Over” is about “the fear of never being able to commit or forgive myself due to my fatalistic inner narrative.” Arguably the EP’s catchiest track, the song tells the story of a yo-yo romance, where both characters keep coming back to a relationship that should be over– a theme that even people who don’t suffer from anxiety can relate to.

Van Hemmye’s also released a video along with the EP that attempts to explain his experience with anxiety further. In the short film, he details his first panic attack: “My heart was racing, and my walls of reality were melting.” The video goes on to give a chillingly accurate visual representation of what it’s like to have an anxiety or panic disorder, melding visions of clarity and beauty with unsettling disorientation. Van Hemmye explains that he started turning to long drives as a coping mechanism for his racing mind and heart. “I think driving has always soothed me because it occupies just enough of my anxious mind to not allow for excessive worrying.”

Van Hemmye says he feels a kinship to the Datsun, an economized version of an expensive European sports car. “That’s kind of how I see myself in music,” says Van Hemmye. “I’m a frugal kid from Detroit who makes accessible and honest music by crafting big pop music sounds in little DIY studios.”

We talked with Nydge about the story behind his first solo project and how dedication to a craft can be the best medication of all.

AF: I heard you were named after a race car driver – who is it and what’s the story behind that?

Nigel Van Hemmye: I was named after Nigel Mansell, who drove in Formula 1 with a thick, caterpillar mustache. After hearing one of the announcers say his name on television one Sunday afternoon, my mom decided not to name me Colin and go with Nigel. My Grandma read Colin as “colon” and that might have influenced her decision as well. Most people I meet associate me with Nigel Thornberry. Every now and then I get an XTC fan sing me, “We’re always making plans for Nigel.” I probably know more dogs named Nigel than I do people. I’m just out here trying to give Nigels a good name.

AF: Although the project definitely feels like electropop, I hear some early 2000’s rock influence — did you listen to a lot of Strokes-era music growing up?

NVH: I was in Germany for an exchange program at 16 for a month. One weekend my new German friends and I went club-hopping in Berlin. All of them were playing The Strokes! I distinctly remember everyone yelling along to the lyrics. Music like Franz Ferdinand, The Shins, and Phoenix bring me back to that moment. Growing up I listened to anything from Nine Inch Nails to Empire of the Sun to really wonderful, obnoxious techno and dubstep. I actually made really bad techno songs under the name “Nydge” in high school.

AF: I know from your film that this album was a coping mechanism for your anxiety, but a lot of the tracks sound upbeat/peppy – can you talk about that choice and how some of these songs came together?

NVF: I think about music as an escape – a place I can go where things make more sense or sometimes don’t have to. There’s an amazing notion in psychology about the concept of “Flow” or being in “The Zone” which I feel like I enter when on stage or producing or jamming. It’s a very soothing and uncomplicated feeling. Anxiety for me has always been the over-abundance of thought: racing mind, paranoia, irritability until it crashes into panic. Learning to do something so naturally that you enter that “zone” or “flow state” is the coping part. It’s the process rather than the product. My greatest hope is to either give a listener a brief escape from the negative or enhance the positive experience they are already having.

Full disclosure – I feel the best foot to put forward is one which is upbeat and peppy. It’s fun to play live, it’s easier to land on movie, TV and commercial work and there’s a huge demand for it on the radio. “Immortal Youth” was actually born out of the skeleton of a song I was writing for sync but decided to keep. “Baby, I” came from what I thought a car commercial would sound like with my voice singing about anxiety.

AF: “Come Over” and “Y U Gotta B” are about how anxiety affects a relationship. Can you talk a little more about the specific experiences/hurdles in a relationship that are a result of anxiety?

NVH: I think from the outside anxiety can present itself in a myriad of different ways. Ultimately for me it’s about stress management. Relationships can be stressful – even the positive parts. Anxiety also presents itself as my relationship with the future. “Come Over was the expression of worry about a future with or without someone. Stress in this way comes from some of the decisions I was refusing to make – either not allowing things to progress forward or not having difficult but important conversations about ending things.

With Kim Vi, Y U Gotta B is a playful take on how confusing and frustrating it can be when you don’t know what the other person is thinking but you’re still very much invested in them. What they do or say is magnified under the lens of your adoration, and anxiety comes in and whispers in your ear: “They’re playing with you. They don’t really like you…” which really comes down to a lack of trust and communication.

AF: This is your first cohesive piece of work where you are the centerpiece – how does that feel?

NVH: It feels great! For the longest time, I felt like I was producing and performing without ever getting to know myself separate of others. I relished in the collaboration and the learning it brought me but I still somehow felt unproven or incomplete. The more I wear the “solo artist” hat, the more I understand the choices other artists make, both personally and within the industry. I’m here to constantly improve, challenge myself and others to create and try their best. On a lighter note, I had these songs, I loved them, I had a platform, and no good answer to the question: why not?

AF: Did making the explanation video for the EP put you in a vulnerable place?

NVH: Yeah, but also no. I’m very up front about my anxiety and panic disorder. I’m not really ashamed of it and I don’t think others should be [ashamed of theirs] either – although I understand why they are. I wrote the whole piece as a short story which I sent to a couple friends who said I should share it. I think I hesitated for a microsecond and then wrote up a shot list for the short film. I acknowledge wholeheartedly I am not perfect and one of the best ways of coping with anxiety is sharing the strategies I’ve garnered over the years with those who struggle as well. At the end of the day, music is my own personal worry stone, something through which I can pour in my doubts, insecurities and feelings and come back with not only something I’m proud of, but a more thoughtful version of myself. The lesson it endlessly teaches me is devotion to a craft or skill is one of the most meaningful relationships you can have with yourself and the world.

PLAYING DETROIT: April Releases Flaunt Detroit’s Musical Depth

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Photo by Landon Speers

The past week has been a prolific one for Detroit artists, with singles being released from all sides of the genre spectrum. Instead of highlighting just one, I decided to choose a few of my favorites. From Virginia Violet and the Rays’ punchy “Modern Motown” to Tunde Olaniran’s “soft femme trap anthem,” these songs model the deep talent and vast diversity of Detroit’s music scene.

“Vulnerable” – Tunde Olaniran

Flint, Michigan native Tunde Olaniran has proven himself to be an absolute force of nature over the last few years, and “Vulnerable” is no exception. Following in the vein of 2017 releases “Hunger” and “Symbol,” the newest track is an empathetic, empowering ode to self-love, delivered with a sharp tongue and set to a dreamy, danceable beat. Repeating the mantra “What love can I give if I can’t love myself / Go in and go out of this world by ourselves / I just wanna be vulnerable,” Olaniran harps on the importance on discovering your true self and sharing it with the world. And with a voice like Olaniran’s, it’s hard not to be convinced.

“Apartment Fire” – Moon King

Moon King, a.k.a Daniel Benjamin, adds to his euphoric, funk-infused body of work with “Apartment Fire.” Combining ‘80s inspired deep synths with ‘70s funk guitar patterns and a silky sweet falsetto, Benjamin creates a languid, decade-defying sound. The song’s infectious beat and mesmerizing vocals can persuade anyone to move their hips, whether they can understand the song or not. This is a plus for Benjamin, who’ll be heading out on a lengthy European tour this spring.


 “Go on Without Me” – Virginia Violet and the Rays

Virginia Violet and the Rays’ high-charged single “Go on Without Me” puts a soulful spin on the classic Bonnie and Clyde narrative. Virginia Violet uses her robust vocals to tell the story of a lovers’ heist that goes from enthralling to fatal. Her blustering eight-piece band plays an equal hand in spinning the narrative, with Tommy Porter’s apprehensive guitar riffs and a screeching four-piece horn section (Garrett Gaina, Adam Dib, Chris Kendall and Dave Vasella). It’s the perfect song to blast when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic but pretending you’re involved in a high-speed chase. 

“Haunt” – Alexander Lynch

Detroit via Grand Rapids via Norway, Michigan artist Alexander Lynch has a penchant for making sultry songs that make you want to text your ex at 11:00 am on a Tuesday. “Haunt” is one such of those songs. Co-produced with Jon Zott, “Haunt” is a weighty, synth-driven track that accurately captures the feelings of longing and infatuation. While the song’s heavy bass and synth elements recall Flume and Chet Faker, Lynch’s strong, emotive vocals place him on the border of electro-pop and R&B.



PLAYING DETROIT: CASHFORGOLD Tells True Trans-Atlantic Love Story with “Runaway”


For 24-year-old CASHFORGOLD, aka Jacqueline Torgerson, her new single “Runaway” is not just an effervescent electropop anthem, but a concrete mark in the pages of her own love story with Berlin-based producer, Tim Schaufert. The two met on Soundcloud circa 2016 when CASHFORGOLD was living outside of Detroit in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She had just returned to Michigan from San Francisco after quitting her desk job as a social media manager in pursuit of creating content that was most meaningful to her – music.

“One of my favorite quotes is by the author Guy Debord: ‘We’ve gone from being into having and from having into merely appearing,’” says CASHFORGOLD. “I hated that I was sitting there ‘creating content’ when I felt like I really needed to be creating my art.”

After leaving her job in the Bay Area, the artist sought refuge in the Detroit area and saw it as a place to recharge and focus on creating music. The same way many of us find our favorite musicians, CASHFORGOLD discovered Schaufert on Soundcloud and asked him if he wanted to collaborate. This marked the beginning of a prolific creative partnership and, later, an overseas romance.

CASHFORGOLD says the first few months of her and Schaufert’s collaboration was strictly professional, but in March of 2017, a magical romance started brewing. Although the two hadn’t met face to face yet, she felt something euphoric and sacred about her dynamic with Schaufert, and decided to express those feelings the best way she knew how. She wrote “Runaway,” she says, “about wanting to leave Detroit and be in Berlin with Tim… and that unfolding love story.”

CASHFORGOLD, who now splits her time between Berlin and Metro Detroit, got her wish, and the song is just as majestic as her love story. Starting with gorgeous, ethereal vocals on top of a whimsical piano melody and haunting strings, she creates the perfect setting for an enchanting romance. “How long would it take / to really escape / I’d meet you halfway / your mind’s my hideaway,” sings CASHFORGOLD, directly to her co-producer and collaborator. After an airy introduction, the song breaks down into booming synths scattered with more resplendent vocal runs. Oscillating between delicate and beautiful to intoxicating and intense, “Runaway” succeeds at mimicking the disorienting feeling of falling in love.

VIDEO REVIEW: Moon Bounce “Drugs”

Unsurprisingly, Moon Bounce’s video for the single “Drugs” is as trippy as its title suggests. Spoofing terrible album art from Wayne Cochran, Grace Jones, Prince, and more, the titillating track takes listeners on a tongue-in-cheek waltz through the aisles of a record store that would make any collector’s head spin.

The campy video seems like it easily could’ve come from the goofy fellas who brought us Flight of the Conchords, an effect heightened by Moon Bounce frontman Corey Regensberg’s groovy falsetto. Here, he plays a hapless crate-digger, as well as the over-the-top characters that come to life on each album cover and sing to him. Perhaps this is an endorsement for taking drugs while vinyl shopping, or perhaps a cautionary tale against it. Regardless of your interpretation, the video is fun and the synth-pop melodies are completely addictive.

Moon Bounce is gearing up to release a new album, Clean House, in March. Mark your calendars now, folks, because it’s sure to be a good one.


LA-based dream-pop duo, TVRQUOISE is following up their debut duo single release with a brand new video for their cosmic and synthy record, “Paralyzed Legs”. The track contains looping vocal melodies that wrap around entrancing textured beats and twinkling piano synth. Hailing from Michigan and NYC respectively, Faye Wellman and Matt Hogan met at Berklee College of Music in Boston where they cut their teeth in composition, performance and production – all evident in their impressive and thoughtful song writing. “Paralyzed Legs” documents a young woman’s realization that she’s in a dangerously co-dependent relationship – a motif we can most certainly relate to. The video is a representation of being trapped so to speak – depicting someone caught beneath a white sheet, struggling to break free perhaps. At once eery, ghost-like and elegant, the visuals are a beautiful accompaniment to the sonic and aesthetic conceit of the track. Check out the premiere right here!

TRACK REVIEW: Von Sell, “Names”

Von Sell names 2 audiofemme

Brooklyn electropop artist, Von Sell continues to keep us warm on these increasingly chilly days with a new track ahead of his debut self-titled EP coming out on Friday. “Names” is another high-gloss production masterpiece that showcases his knack for hooky, gorgeous vocal melodies paired with whimsical, inventive orchestration and electronic embellishments – features that at one point came off as novel, and which have now, after three preceding singles solidified his signature style, and placed him as a firm contender among the best of his genre. Beginning with driving drums and bass paired with his songbird vocal harmonies, the track quickly disintegrates into a perfectly chaotic, piano-driven bridge during which he asks, “Will you lose your mind for me”, before catapulting us into a chorus that showcases his vocal range, as he sings on the high and low notes of a two-octave span. For the record our answer to his question is “yes we will”.

Take a listen, and keep and ear out for his full-length on Friday.

TRACK REVIEW: Gunslinger “All of Your Life”


Light up your day with the electrifying new single, “All of Your Life,” from Gunslinger.

This anthemic house track has everything you look for in an electronic piece: tons of synths, bass drops that get your heart racing, and upbeat jams that make you feel like you’re on a musical journey. In addition to personal inspiration, Gunslinger also utilized the Infected Mushroom “I Wish” plugin as an aid in producing this single. If you’re bummed about missing them at Burning Man last year, keep an eye out because you might be able to catch them at an upcoming show.

TRACK REVIEW: Von Sell, “Stay”

Von_Sell_Stay 2

Our electropop wonder-boy, Von Sell, is back with a brand new single, “Stay” following his last release, “I Insist“, which came out in April to ubiquitously enthusiastic reviews. His debut EP will be dropping this fall, and “Stay” is the perfect teaser to show us what’s in store. More electronic in conceit than his previous two singles, it begins with a downtempo, glitchy synth line and smooth bass. Von Sell’s signature, attention-grabbing vocals float above the bedrock of the track striking a balance between ambient and sweltering-hot, right in time for August. In the lyrics, he beckons us to “come over, and stay…”, and we can’t help but comply. Of the new song, he waxes personal: “I remember thinking about these archaic roles men and women assign each other in relationships, emotionally, sexually, temperamentally, intellectually. We’ve evolved in every way until it comes to how our relationships actually materialize. It’s like we’re still wearing our kids clothes and they hardly fit but we refuse to buy something new in our size ‘cause of our programming.”

Take a listen to “Stay”, and catch Von Sell at his artist residency this month at Pianos in NYC on 8/10, 8/17, 8/24 & 8/31

TRACK PREMIERE: nRCS, “Shoot Stars” (Prod. Memoryy, Brothertiger)


It’s a lucky day for us here at Audiofemme, as we’ve stumbled upon THE feel-good jam of the summer from a little-known Brooklyn-based pop artist nRCS, aka Fionn Knyper. “Shoot Stars”, Knyper’s second single ahead of his forthcoming EP, is out today and available for a first listen here. Produced by electropop powerhouses Memoryy and Brothertiger, the track is nothing short of anthemic high-gloss perfection. The intro trickles in organ synth and twinkling harp arpeggios before propulsive electronic drums make it clear it’s a dance song, full of potential and energy fulfilled only upon the moment when Knyper’s gorgeous falsetto vocals come in (we’ve be listening to those hooks on repeat today). The bridge nods strongly towards 80s synth pop goodness, and carries the track to a strong finish. Of the its inspiration, Knyper credits mother nature. “I wrote Shoot Stars shortly after a trip to Joshua Tree to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. I spent the night with two close friends atop huge boulders, watching the sky light up with meteors for hours.”  You’ll want to repeat it as soon as the last note plays! Take a listen here and look out for his EP (hopefully) coming out soon.

TRACK OF THE WEEK: Von Sell, “I Insist”

von sell 2

Brooklyn electropop wonderboy, Von Sell, is back after a year-long Hiatus, with a brand new sparkling summer jam. “I Insist” is a slow-building, heart-wrenching, perfectly produced follow up to last year’s “Ivan“, and evokes, both lyrically and sonically, heartbreak and our attendant and thus perennial fascination with chaos. We’re late to the party posting about this track, as most in the blogosphere have already given their two cents on it. Therefore we needn’t say much aside from the fact that we agree with the general consensus on Von Sell: He is the artist to watch for 2016.

Catch him on 6/7 at The Rockwood Music Hall in NYC as a featured artist for Communion Presents. Details can be found here.




RYAL is Jacque Ryal, an alt-pop artist from San Diego, CA who moved to New York when she was 18. Although her earlier work was considerably darker and drew comparisons to groups such as Portishead, RYAL has challenged herself to write songs that were both optimistic and timeless on her upcoming release.

Though her new music aspires to be happier, I sense the same longing in the song “Wish” as I feel everyday from November to April: What happened to summer? Why did summer have to go away? It helps that the track invokes a trip to the beach; along with producer Aaron Nevezie, she’s created a bouncy, but focused beat with splashes of tropical guitar and synths that will have you missing the good days when the sun didn’t set before 6pm: “We had a good love/ Not just a summer fling…I miss you bad when the sun falls on to its knees.” Her words capture the bittersweetness of a fleeting romance, while the music reflects the brightness and happiness she experienced before she knew it was gone. 

The RYAL EP will be available on February 19, but we have the exclusive stream below.



jojee claim

Brooklyn based electropop siren, Jojee, is releasing a new single today, “Claim”, which describes “a toxic relationship where I felt like the person never really loved me but just wanted to claim me.” The track, which will be part of a forthcoming EP due out early next year, is exquisitely composed, balancing insanely catchy electronic beats with hook-y melody lines and glittering synth. Jojee’s vocals stand out among the host of female-fronted electro R&B artists who are cropping up these days, due to the heavy punch she packs with the distinct alto register in which she sings. Differentiating oneself from such a prolific genre is no small feat, and Jojee accomplishes it over and over again with increasing persuasiveness and gusto. Keep your eyes out for what’s to come from this project – we expect big things in 2016! In the meantime, get the first listen of “Claim”, below.

Jojee will be releasing an EP in the early spring leading up to a full length, later next year. Get to know the rising star below, in her interview with our new beauty columnist, Clare Murphy aka Witchbaby who curates Loud And Tasteless. Loud And Tasteless is our brand new monthly Youtube column chronicling the style and beauty habits of up and coming female artists. Watch below to learn about Jojee’s beauty routine, and get schooled on how to recreate her look!



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Allie X - BB Gun Press
Allie X – BB Gun Press

Little is known about the enigmatic pop singer Allie X.

When she comes on the stage at Baby’s All Right, I find it hard to believe that, even after speaking with her one-on-one only days ago,  she’s standing before me in the flesh, donning an ecru tulle number, mod sunglasses, and a mile-long curtain of straight brown hair falling down her back.

Before adopting the stage name Allie X, she was Allie Hughes, a classically trained musician from Toronto — but that’s all you’ll get to know about her.  “Respectfully, Ysabella, I don’t talk about my past in interviews,” she says, and I’m not offended; by driving the attention away from her past life, she allows the focus to remain on who she is now, and what that means for her music.

She opens her show with “Hello,” waving at the crowd almost robotically.  It’s mesmerizing to watch her contort her arms into a pretzel or kneel on a bench to play her instrument, the “X-a-chord,” which resembles an organ.

The way that Allie X interacts with her crowd is unlike many pop singers, who might try to hold back-and-forth conversations with the audience or lead into songs with anecdotes.  Instead, her phenomenal vocals are what make the show memorable, and she says little other than the occasional “thank you,” mimicking the way she likes to carry herself as an artist.

“I think I can still have life as an artist and create work that has an intimate relationship with the world, where they feel like they’re being let into something without actually revealing details of my private life,” she says.  “In this day and age, it’s difficult when half of the success of an artist has to do with social media, which has to do with the details of one’s personal life, so it’s something I’m figuring out.”

And it seems that she’s figuring that balance out much quicker than she gives herself credit for.

The driving force of her fan following is the power of “X,” which she describes as “the unknown variable…a blank slate to start from.  Believing in X is believing in the possibility of anything.”

“I have a small, but very devoted following of X’s and a big part of the project is exploring ‘X’ together,” says Allie.  “I’m always trying to think of new ways we can do that.  One of them is part of my Tumblr, it’s a gallery for various ‘X art’ that they’ve made, and we update it usually every couple of days.  So if you make anything and you hashtag it ‘Feeling X,’ it’s going to be up in the gallery.”

And among her go-to poses during the show are the crossing of her arms to form an X, or holding up her crossed fingers.  She even spins around onstage, much like the reblog-ready spinning gifs she has on Tumblr.  She gives fans these recognizable things to latch onto, and while adopting X into one’s life has a different meaning for each individual, it brings her and the fans together.

These symbols of Allie X are only part of the cohesive image she’s cultivated.  It’s a distinct visual style that makes her instantly recognizable, and she credits the aesthetic to adopting X into her life.  That’s a part of what ‘X’ might mean for her, but that’s not what “X” is meant to be for everyone.  As she describes it to me, “If you were to become ‘Ysabella X,’ you don’t have to share the aesthetic that I show.  You don’t even necessarily have to have aesthetic — that’s not really what it’s about.”

And while I might not be sure of my ‘X’ or my aesthetic, Allie X exudes a strong sense of self-awareness and artistic identity.  On delving into other aspects of the art world, she says, “I would love to make a musical.  I would love to make a film, animate a film.  Books, all of that.  But that all needs to stem from me being a successful music artist so that’s what I’m focusing on right now.”

It’s fun to watch her pull at her roots and prance in a cutesy and child-like manner while she sings, “Steal my blood and steal my heart/Whatever it takes to get you off/I’m your bitch, you’re my bitch/Boom boom.”  The stage was a bit small for her presence, and it would be lovely to see what she would do with an even bigger one.  Naked bodies — “a huge pile of naked bodies to travel with me around the world” — if she had it her way.

Presently, she has only performed about ten shows as Allie X, so there is certainly room for her shows and her catalog of songs to grow.

She has co-written a song with YouTube celebrity Troye Sivan, whom she describes as “a truly lovely human being.”  Generally, she likes working with people who “bring a different skill set to the table.”  For example, people who are “good at working quickly or with technicalities of engineering.”  And she describes herself as a “slow” and “abstract” lyricist, preferring to work with “more straight-ahead, quick lyricists,” and “people who have some interesting analog sounds.”

One thing that surely will not change is her flawless delivery, with some of her vocal curls actually inducing chills.  And hopefully she stays a bit cryptic and elusive, too.  She only took her sunglasses off for the song “Good,” but even then, asked for the lights to be turned down.

She works her way through CollXtion I from top to bottom, and when she closes with “Sanctuary,” she holds out her mic and the crowd sings all the words without missing a beat, as if we all know her and have been a part of this “X” project for our whole lives.  And when she prances off stage, shades back on, you’re left with even more questions about her than you had at the start.

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TRACK PREMIERE: Alanna Clarke “Raw Emotion”

Alanna Clarke

At the age of 15, preternaturally mature Canadian songstress Alanna Clarke decided to forgo a conventional high school education, along with all the social trappings of one’s typical adolescent arrival, and instead opted to become a touring musician. To be that sure, that young of your life’s calling can imply one of two things: immense myopia or immense, uncontainable talent. Fortunately for her, Clarke is in possession of the latter. Now 23, she has years of experience writing, producing and performing under her belt, and has graced us with a brand new track, “Raw Emotion”, out today.

While the title straightforwardly denotes the driving force inside of young people – raw emotion – the song itself is anything but twee. A stripped down guitar melody opens the track’s first few bars, with Clarke’s ethereal vocals mooring and uplifting the listener simultaneously. After the intro makes it clear to us that she is a powerhouse, the song explodes into an electropop ballad with an infectious beat and catchy electronic drums, though never over the top so much as to take away focus from Clarke’s voice, which is at once soulful, ecstatic and grounded the whole way through. Look out for big things from this girl. In the meantime, take a listen to “Raw Emotion” below.

LIVE REVIEW: Body Language @ Baby’s All Right


Hump day isn’t usually this sexy, but it’s fashion week. I’m not even fully through the door of Baby’s All Right and I’ve already spotted a woman with a balloon animal headband and another in a tomato cape and Zorro hat (no sign of Waldo yet-oh, there he is). And to think I almost didn’t wear these sparkle pants.

All this seems appropriate considering the members of Brooklyn electro-pop outfit Body Language are no strangers to the fashion industry. In 2013 they played a show hosted by makers of brightly colored, suspiciously low-priced socks Joe Fresh. The foursome are themselves a put-together bunch, but in a way that suits their music as opposed to distracting from it. There are so many bands tangled in designer imagery these days, it’s nice to see a group of talented musicians who have their priorities straight.

Before Body Language could get everyone frenzied, we needed to warm up our muscles. Fortunately the night’s opener was Figgy, a.k.a Mike Ferringo, the Massachusetts-born NYC based DJ/producer who’s been making the house rounds lately. Despite the clout, he seemed to be a pretty normal guy who got as much dance out of his set as any good DJ would desire from his audience.

Love or hate the genre, house remixes are still relevant, perhaps more than ever before considering our cultural urge to hunt-hoard-curate, and Ferringo’s background in Jazz is a testament to the rising craft of the remix and the resilient presence of R&B music.

In a recent interview with LA Canvas, he made a simple but pertinent remark when asked to explain R&B’s recent “comeback” and why people love the genre so much:

“The honesty of the vocals, and I don’t necessarily mean lyrics. Soul music will be around forever, it’s not a trend.”

Figgy played for about an hour – or pushed, or programmed for about an hour. I don’t really know the right verb for what DJs do these days, but whatever he did  it was great, and the crowd seemed to agree with a nod of their hips.

I wish I could relay the litany of samples I recognized instantly by ear, but while I enjoyed every moment of his set, I could only pick out “Heart of Glass” and “No Diggity.” The rest was a well-spun web of disco claps and house keys that made it impossible to stand inert. Hats off to you Mr. Figgy.

I was well warmed at this point, but unable to break out of stationary head bobbing. This being the second installment of “going to a show with the cold/flu” I was afraid to dance…could dancing give me pneumonia? Typhus? Scarlett Fever? And then a more jarring question arose: When did I turn into an elder from Footloose?

The great thing about dance music is that you don’t have to think about these things once you hear it. It’s airborne, relentless and contagious…at least it was for the frontal half of the audience. Five minutes into Body Language’s set there was crowd surfing, a shoe to a man’s head, and the all-around pelvic gyrating our grandparent’s feared. Body Language had a few technical errors in the beginning of their set, namely producer/everything-player Grant Wheeler’s Bass acting up, and producer/vocalist/everything-player Matt Young’s levels needing to be more upward pointing.

I don’t mean to get hyperbolic (it just happens) but this is a group of incredibly talented musicians, and that’s not an overstatement. They’ve managed to combine the unpretentious fun of dance music with attentive producing, landing a sound almost as exciting to listen to on headphones as it is to see live. Not a small feat.

Lead vocalist Angelica Bess is in a word: charismatic. She sings with as much ease as she does professionalism. The rest of the band was equally humble, focused and impressively proficient musically. As it turns out, this is no act. After a brief Q+A with the group, AudioFemme discovered that the members of Body Language are not only feel-good beat geniuses-they’re also super nice and down to earth. Kudos times two.








Brooklyn-based Electropop project, Syvia, is releasing a stunning debut full length album titled FWD, that seamlessly weaves together darker Nordic rock traditions with airy east coast dance vibes. While the band is a traditional four-piece, comprised of Norwegian-American vocalist Ruth Mirsky, Frank Banisi (guitar), Sheldon Chow (bass/synth) and Richard Moyle Jr. (drums), and while the music they produce possesses classic rock underpinnings, there are also darker, more insidious elements to each track that are at once obvious and indelible. Perhaps it’s Mirsky’s gritty vocals – reminiscent of 80s goth rock darling Siouxie Sioux – anchored by edgy synth beats, that make songs such as the opener “Soon”, evocative of the distinct feeling one gets when racing down a highway in a speeding car. “Dawn On The Dancefloor” takes on a dreamier electro structure, with drum tracks that float above the vocals, sinister melody lines and Mirsky’s breathy request to “step away and put some space between us…then come close”, compelling us into the darker aspects of her psyche as well as the music at large. Other stand-outs on the album include  “Up Up And Away”, which incorporates tinges of 90s-inspired alt-rock, making for a delightful nostalgia-inspiring throwback gem, and my personal favorite, “Hearts Down”, which feels stripped and confessional compared to some of the more intricate compositions throughout the 8 tracks. Mirsky’s vocals are softer and honest, without sounding vulnerable in the least – a difficult feat for any female vocalist to achieve. The melodies are straightforward yet never boring largely thanks to the music’s interplay between major and minor cadences. While the lyrics speak about heartbreak (“my heart’s down for the count”, she professes), we still get the sense that she’s okay, if not a tad jaded by the experience – sad, but prepared to move forward. Speaking of which, the last and title track, “Fwd Fwd”, is perhaps the grandest of those comprising this album, with anthemic kick drums and orchestral-esque synth melodies. The first half  feels a bit slow moving, as Mirsky comments on the inexorable march of time, but shifts into a higher gear midway through with the addition of an infectious snare drum line before slowly fading out, as if we’re all driving off into the sunset together.

Sonically diverse and showcasing of a wide array of musical talent, FWD is surely a glimpse of what’s to come from Syvia. You can listen to the full album, streaming now on Audiofemme below, or catch them at their album release show on 3/15 at the Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn.


IAMEVE Photo 1 (cr Jacob Rushing)

IAMEVE makes music that has been described as “undeniably inspiring” , mixing swirling electropop with her unique ethereal vocals to make tracks that are at once catchy and substantial, dreamy and musically circumspect. For her newest endeavor, however, IAMEVE has flipped the script and sourced from her own well of inspiration, covering Empire Of The Sun’s classic 2008 break out single, “Walking On A Dream.” The original is an indisputable summer dance jam, possessed of infectious disco beats layered with sunny analog synth lines and Luke Steele’s undoubtedly Glam Rock inspired vocal stylings. Though the original is immediately recognizable, much of the songs conceptual substance is perhaps lost in the fray of its overall catchiness. In IAMEVE’s adaptation of it, though, she retrieves various elements that have been overlooked, bringing into focus the track’s romantic conceit. Specifically it is her voice that summons the listener to pay attention, snapping us out of our electropop daze, as her tenor and tone stand out with such rich dimension and depth that we can’t help but engage with her as a singer. In listening to her narrate, we find out that this is a love song. Indeed, the songstress even chose it as the soundtrack for her walk down the aisle. “I think Walking On A Dream is a timeless song – I just love the lyrics/production/his voice – everything about it.  As much as I adore the original recording, it’s so epic sounding that I think the lyrics can get a little lost on people.. I wanted to produce an intimate version that was all about the lyrics with everything else nakedly wrapping around them.” She has certainly succeeded on all these fronts.

The track premiered here today, listen below via Soundcloud:

TRACK PREMIERE: Oh, Be Clever “My Chest”



Salt Lake City breakout duo, Oh, Be Clever, is known for their seamless meld of electro and indie pop, thanks to the joint efforts of Brittney Shields’ impressive chops and Cory Scott Layton’s dynamic instrumentation and prouduction. The pair met in High School, when they played in rivaling musical acts. In fact they loathed each other a great deal until one night (after members of their bands went fist-to-cuffs in their HS parking lot, West Side Story style) they decided on a whim, to abscond together, leaving their respective projects in order to start Oh, Be Clever.

Their newest single, “My Chest”, premiering today here on Audiofemme, combines all the trappings of a mainstream pop jam–infectious vocal hooks, accessible melodies, and driving beats–with a twinkling piano line, juxtaposed with a gritty electric guitar refrain, drenching what could be a straight forward twee anthem with the glimmering complexity of an indie cult hit. Regarding their new release, songstress Shields writes, “”My Chest” is a really close song to me. I have a really hard time vocalizing vulnerability or the fear of liking someone too much. I’m always afraid I’ll freak them out or they’ll lose interest…and my heart will wind up shattered. I’m sure most people can relate to that feeling. This was one of those songs that just FELL out of my brain and onto my laptop. I was starting to date someone new and forgot how good it felt to feel those butterflies…So I did what any gal should do…wrote it down and made it into a song.”

Take a listen to “My Chest”, here via Soundcloud:

FIRST GLANCE: Video Premier, Moxxi “From Here To Oblivion”



“From Here To Oblivion”, lead track off of the forthcoming EP due out 11/25 from MOXXI, is the perfect high energy pop jam to assist in our transition from those languid, lackadaisical final days of summer, straight into full gear for fall, ready to obliterate anything that stands in the way of forward momentum. Full of driving disco beats from start to finish and edgy minor synth melodies lines, the track harkens back to our very favorite 1990s electropop – palpable inducement to nostalgia over first heartbreaks, best friend drama and middle school basement dance parties. MOXXI’s voice -at times dark and sensual, and at others playful and impish- is undoubtedly what carries the track from one motif to the next, from dance-y to low tempo orchestral with tinges of introversion, and back again, and conveys perfectly the song’s underpinning concept: that of leaving someone who hurt you in the dustbins of history, of “burning the castle down” so to speak, and never looking back. Cheers, indeed, to oblivion.

The video, premiering today on Audiofemme, is a twisted adaptation of the beheading of Marie Antoinette, though one wouldn’t necessarily surmise this upon watching it for the first time. It begins with the songstress outdoors at night, covered in what could be described as primordial goo, with a masked, torch-bearing executioner standing behind her. Ominous in its conceit, we watch as layers of dirt and debris are lifted away, as she is consumed by ash, confetti and glitter. At the end a heavy curtain of smog hides her frame, only for her to emerge intact, not destroyed. We find out that our protagonist rose from the metaphorical ashes. That the assailant perhaps became the victim in the end.

Watch the video here, via Youtube, and decide for yourself.

TRACK REVIEW: Blondfire “Young Heart”


blondfireKin duo Bruce and Erica Driscoll formed into Blondfire only recently, yet the band has already trailblazed the path for the indie scene, recently hitting the number 1 spot on iTunes Alternative. But get this- they did it without a record label. Nothing more galvanizing than that. In the interim between their attention grabbing debut and their forthcoming sophomore release, they’ve been busy playing every single major festival, and touring  with greats like Surfer Blood and AWOL Nation.

A year since “Where The Kids Are” premiered, they are returning with another magnificent dreamy-pop rock single, “Young Heart.” The Driscoll’s have found the perfect formula for the track, emphasizing on the balance of a bouncy synth and guitar-driven melodies . Erica’s vocals are cavernous and entrancing; she sounds like the vernal equinox–each note delivering hope for renewal and the redemption. “Love lost, but look what you found now. Give it to the past ‘cuz you’re such a young heart,” she sweetly croons, giving optimism to those who’ve had love vanish before their eyes like a magic trick.

You can thank the sibling’s unique parental influences for the spark in their songwriting: their father taught Bruce the beauty of noodling on the electric guitar, while their music’s Bossanova undertones can be credited to their Brazilian mother–a classically trained pianist. Check out “Young Heart,” off of their forthcoming full length due out 2/11 on Tender Tender Rush.