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Cyrano, The Outstanding Multi Instrumentalist From Scotland, Releases ‘Tundra’ From His Forthcoming EP, Before Touring The UK. – Essentially Pop

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James Vettese, known professionally and creatively as Cyrano, Scottish born and London based music producer has teamed up with Foals’ Kit Monteith to bring us ‘Tundra’, a fantastic follow up to debut single ‘White Wine’, as he gets ready to release his EP and embark on an Autumn UK tour.

An outstanding newcomer, who has been working on his music for a long time just to make sure it’s as good as it can be, Cyrano took the time to answer a few questions so that we can start to get to know someone who I’m sure will be your new favourite discovery.

EP:  You are a Scottish born, London grown musician, producer so what is the significance of the name Cyrano? Is there a literary nod towards the romantic hiding in the shadows created by Edmond Rostand? After all, the play introduced not only Cyrano de Bergerac but also the word ‘panache’ to the English language and this is a word that sits very well with your music?

C: Yes, exactly – last year I went to see the play Cyrano de Bergerac, which centres around the lead character Cyrano’s love for a girl. Despite his talents as a writer and poet, he is overcome by his insecurities and writes to her through the alias of another man. I began to notice the parallels between the character Cyrano and my relationship with my own music, and loved the idea of using Cyrano as my method for sharing the music and words that for years have been only for myself.

EP: You describe your music as something for the late night overthinkers. What’s the motivation behind that? I’m guessing you are one of life’s overthinkers?

C: It’s kind of a tongue and cheek acknowledgement of how long I’ve spent working on my music, as well as giving people a flavour for the vibe. For those who know me, know that whilst I’m only starting to share my music now, I’ve been working on them for several years and I always overthought what that they should sound like, trying to perfect each song.

I’ve always been more drawn to melancholic, laid back music like The National and The War on Drugs, which seem to carry more weight. I’m certainly one to overthink things and feel like sonically my music sits best alongside those artists. I hope that people are able to be consoled by my music and feel lifted from it.

EP: The new single ‘Tundra’ is part of a newly released EP and lyrically is quite a probing exploration into social anxiety. The lyrics are almost at odds with the soulful musicality, is that a conscious effort to convey the chaos of anxiety and the feeling that for many it goes so unnoticed unless you scrape below the surface….the music is the calm skin to the anxiety laying just below?

C: When creating Tundra, Kit Monteith and I were really focused on reflecting these feelings in the production and the lyrics, and hence why the track takes off after 3 minutes. I find at times these feelings can rush into you after feeling steady and really wanted the track to be dynamic to personify this.

We wanted the track to have no two sections the same, keeping things unpredictable and dynamic. I love the almost grime-like snare drum at the beginning which cuts through the synths as a sort of sonic slap trying to shift your ears from the synth strings of the intro.

Lyrically, I wanted to keep things a bit abstract. In the second chorus, I wanted the end of one line to work with the start of the next – for example ‘It’s not that I’m a heart / who has to be cared for / when we were apart”.

Likewise in the first chorus, I reference my favourite number 12 in the line “counting on a number, I know I’m hard to find”. Growing up I really found patterns emerging around the number 12, from dates to table numbers and tokens etc and I always felt like it guided me home. I couldn’t control when it would appear but I felt safe when it did, and it really carried me through. I know not everyone has that kind of relationship with a number and you could argue I was looking out for it, but I always feel connected to 12 in a way I can’t explain but am just grateful to have.

EP: The EP ‘Consolations’ is inspired by Alain de Botton’s book ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’. Is your background in Philosophy or is that something that has been a source of comfort and inspiration personally?

C: While I studied Maths & Philosophy as my degree, I actually read ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ before going, and found it really uplifting, as well as being a great source of inspiration. My EP Consolations is really paying homage to Alain de Botton, while creating my own set of consolations for others to take something from. Just before lockdown I was fortunate enough to see him speak live and it really renewed my sense of purpose to finish this EP, which has been a long journey for me to get to this point.

I’d really recommend checking out ‘The School of Life’ for some great reads. It’s such a great place to go to for lyrical ideas and themes, and I love philosophy for making you think about things you have never considered before.

EP: Your music, the way you sing is hugely uplifting and calming at the same time. The vocals move effortlessly through the continual growth of the track and glide over the content in a beautiful way despite the theme of anxiety. It’s almost a chaotic tranquillity that is incredibly beguiling in its style. Who are your musical and life inspirations?

C: Thank you very much! My vocals are certainly where I feel most vulnerable as an artist so I really appreciate your kind words.

It’s probably no surprise that Alain de Botton is up there as one of my life inspirations – he’s just so charismatic and knowledgeable, and makes you want to know more about everything!

A lot of my personal inspirations come from the people I’ve met and worked with both in and out of music, who are really accomplished in their fields. While they might not be celebrities or household names, when you meet someone at the top of their game I think it’s hard not to be in awe of their capabilities.

Right now, I’m really drawn to the music of Westerman and Fred again… though growing up my staples were up Eric Clapton, Talk Talk and D’Angelo as well as indie bands like Foals, The Maccabees and Bloc Party. I’m a big fan of artists like Arlo Parks, Nilüfer Yanya and Frank Ocean too.

EP: It feels to me like there is an almost Indian musical undercurrent to the single. Do you like to introduce World music to your writing? Will this be a theme for the EP?

C: I’m really grateful to have had my best mate (and former band mate) play tabla (Indian percussion) on ‘Tundra’. I love delving into other sounds and without giving too much away, there’s definitely some other sounds from around the world that feature quite prominently on my EP.

EP: Your debut single ‘White Wine’ has a completely different feel for me with an almost late night jazz feel to it, especially with the sax. Was that a conscious effort not to be pigeon holed into any specific genre, and do you like to keep your audiences guessing as to what direction you might lead them?

C: I’m not sure it was a conscious decision, but more a reflection on my tastes and desire to never rewrite the same song. While my EP feels lyrically and tonally quite consistent, I’m always searching for new structures, lyrics, sounds and ways to start a song to keep things feeling fresh and expansive. I love the idea of having a broad sonic palette, and a song for everyone and every mood.

EP: The pandemic and the various lockdowns have enabled many artists to take stock without the pressure of having to hit deadlines; has the unexpected time richness enabled you to really perfect your music or has it presented a frustrating delay and allowed too much time to over think?

C: For me, the pandemic gave me the opportunity to say no to so many commitments and distractions that can take you away from your goals without you even realising it. I’m certainly a perfectionist and there’s so much involved in planning each release to ensure they all have the best chance of being heard and presented in the way I want them to be, but that really requires so much time which the pandemic gave me. I found myself able to tackle each song at a time and make a list of all that I needed to do to get them over the line, from the writing, recording, production and mixing, to the artwork and all the creatives around to support the release. For my debut single ‘White Wine’ I produced my own bottle with Garçon Wines which certainly would’ve been harder to do without the time I’d had to plan that.

On the other hand, I’m really excited for other things to open up again and to be able to meet and collaborate with other musicians, and enjoy what it’s all about.

EP: Your music feels like it would perform incredibly well live with its layers and the development and sectional quality it has. Have you any plans for live gigs now that things are slowly getting back to normal, and can we expect to see you in London anytime soon?

C: Right now, I’m in the midst of planning my live show and can’t wait to be hitting the road with my mates Leif Erikson this autumn! I’m certainly hoping to play in London this year or next too, so stay tuned…

EP: With the EP not far off, and I guess you have pretty much decided what that will include, do you have plans for the next EP and will it be similarly thematic? Does that mean that when we see an album we can expect something akin to a play with several thematic acts? Thank you so much for your time and good luck with the music.

C: I already have demos for my next two EPs and have focused on developing lyrical and musical themes to them both. I feel like a theme really anchors a body of work and gives it more context. Both EPs are going to be pretty contrasting to both each other and Consolations, but I believe there will still be something for everyone. Right now though, I can’t wait to share my full EP, which will be released in October this year.

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St. Vincent Covers “Funkytown” For Minions: The Rise of Gru

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Some things in life are inevitable. For a while, that inevitably was a new Shrek movie with an updated pop cover like “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth. These days it’s a new Despicable Me movie, this time in the form of spinoff Minions The Rise of Gru. And just as we all predicted, the new Steve Carrell led film comes stacked with a loaded soundtrack headlined by St. Vincent.

For her contribution to the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, St. Vincent covered “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Her version was produced by Jack Antonoff and continues a run of luck for the musician that earlier this year saw her win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

Antonoff also gave St. Vincent a shout-out for her album Daddy’s Home when he won Producer of the Year at the Grammys.

Announcing the release of her funky cover, St. Vincent took to Twitter and wrote, “Excited to say the @Minions (including @jackantonoff) and I have just released our version of ‘Funkytown’ from #TheRiseofGru soundtrack. Shout out to Gru and them…” Included with the post was a graphic of St. Vincent as a minion.

Joining St. Vincent on the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack are Tame Impala, Kali Uchis, Brittany Howard, Thundercat, Caroline Polachek, Diana Ross, and Weyes Blood, just to name a few.

The album will be released on July 1, coinciding with the film’s theatrical release. You can listen to St. Vincent’s cover of Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” below!



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Parmalee Shares The Music Video For Their Top Five US Hit ‘Take My Name’, A Musical Marriage Proposal.

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Back in October of 2021, Parmalee released ‘Take My Name’ as the second single from their third studio album. It was written with and produced by David Fanning, producer of the massive hit ‘Carolina’ that introduced me to the band back in 2008, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. Robyn Collins of ‘Taste of Country’ described the song as “a musical marriage proposal” and lead singer of the band, Matt Thomas, says it was inspired by the marriage of brother Scott; he says “it made me think about what I would want to say to my future wife.”

Some songs almost become bigger than themselves when they tap into the lives and moods of everyone and this is very much one of those songs. It’s not difficult to see why this song has been adopted by fans all over the world irrespective of their taste in music; its words conjure all the romance and love that you’d hope to feel when you ask someone to marry you. It’s lyrically a shopping list of everything you feel at the moment you realise you’ve met the one, even if that’s after only a short time. I remember proposing to my wife after just 8 weeks and if I try to remember what I was feeling at the point I proposed and tried to put it into words I would hope it was very similar to this song. Now over 31 years later and still happily married I listen to this song and it brings all those feelings back in a rush so why wouldn’t it be the perfect song to overlay a proposal, sing at the wedding or just be part of the moment; it’s how I’d love my sons to feel when they propose to their partners. 

Parmalee are very aware of their fans needs and were quick to record a wedding version for such occasions with a less catchy percussion and a softer piano focussed vibe than the original version. There have even been brilliant occasions where the band has turned up to “crash” a wedding and sing this song to the happy couple reminiscent of Maroon 5 and their song ‘Sugar’. None of those guests will forget that wedding in a hurry!

With all the interest in the song and the brilliant videos and messages the band have received, they felt the time was right to make their own narrative video to accompany the song as an addition to the previously released visualizer. The ‘Wedding Version’ video of the romantic song was filmed in Gallatin, TN and directed by Shane Drake. The heart-warming story follows the journey of the protagonist through middle school and all the way to adulthood featuring kids from a local school, an original 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 and appearances from the band with the lead being played by frontman Matt Thomas.

Matt says:

“From the jump, the fans have really latched onto this song in such an amazing, life changing way- our fans have been the reason for so many of our own major milestones, so it means that much more to us that folks are using our song for their proposals and weddings and allowing us to be a part of those major moments in their lives. We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who have been on this journey with us since the beginning so in the music video you’ll see a story of love and loyalty unfold across the years-but don’t expect to see any weddings or proposals – the fan created videos far exceed anything we could depict. We love watching them.”

With over 135 million global on demand streams, the song has raced up the Country charts, outpacing the band’s previous single, the multinational Number 1 smash ‘Just The Way’ with Blanco Brown and has been popping up all over TikTok with creators playing the song over proposal and wedding videos and even sparking a trend of using the sound of the song and writing “if your man doesn’t make you feel this way then what are you doing?” over the video. 

Parmalee - Take My Name (Official Music Video)

Coming from their recently released album ‘For You’, an album that has garnered critical acclaim with American Songwriter calling it “authentically real, genuinely inspired” and Billboard saying that “Parmalee find itself in the enviable position of being able to tap into multiple audiences”. What is very clear is that Country music is slowly starting to find a new, younger audience in the UK to stand alongside the existing fans of the genre. Zack Bryan has recently found himself high on the Spotify album charts and UK stars like Ed Sheeran have appeared alongside Country stars like Luke Combs at the Country2Country festival. Even Tom Odell has found himself headlining the British Country Music Festival in the Summer. Parmalee may be the band to really break down the barriers between Country music and the UK Charts with this song as the musical genre of this release is far less important than the honesty and emotion of the lyrics and Romance will always break down all of the barriers, or at least I would hope it would.

‘For You’ is out now and can be streamed and downloaded here. Find out more about Parmalee and their music online on their official website.

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Mercedess Releases debut album ‘Casa Fantasia’ along with lead single ‘Summers Already Gone’

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This Copenhagen DIY pop artist has managed the difficult task of mixing her soulful voice with vibrant dreamy production and lyrics with real streetwise attitude. The result is something that has given her the hit single ‘Obvious’ which Danish radio loved and the internationally acclaimed single ‘Back to Business’. Now she is releasing the excellent lead single ‘Summer’s Already Gone’ which sounds very modern Bond in its lo fi production but tells an unusual love story. Not a story about falling in love with a person, but about the love affair that always ends; the affair with Summer.

She says:

“I wanted to write a song that could represent both the fearlessness of the magical Summer days and the truly blue sadness of the re occuring love story it actually is when Summer eventually comes to an end. I know it’s a heartbreaking, melancholy feeling but it’s also everything I love about Summer.”

The song was written in Mercedess’ living room with Danish indie superstar Goss and the guitarist Søren Breum and is produced by the critically acclaimed artist Vera. It allows the velvet of the artist’s voice to tumble over the muted trumpets, break beats and flirty acoustic guitars and strings bringing to life the seasonal heartbreak. 

The fact that it is about the love and anticipation felt for Summer is almost more poignant this year as we embark upon the first free Summer for a few years. The affair with Summer this year promises to be a torrid passionate affair as we’ve been apart so long but the heartbreak of its end will be felt more keenly. This song will be the soundtrack to the affair for sure.

The single is released on the same day as the debut album from this exciting new talent. Mercedess says of the album: “Casa Fantasia is an album about longing for closeness and honesty. These songs are an escape from reality-a place to feel free and be yourself. Writing it was a personal journey and process to me that hopefully will make space for creativity, art and emotions for others too”

The album promises to do just that with the artist’s melancholy and yet warm and dreamy vocals and marks an exciting new chapter for an artist destined to find international acclaim  with this collection of music. Summer may come and go but I’m sure the appeal of Mercedess will be perennial. 

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