BoA is a global superstar. Having already moved a total of over 20 million units between Korea and Japan, the singer has released over 14 albums (not including compilations), 32 singles, dozens of prestigious musical and cultural awards, and gone on several nationwide tours since her debut in 2000.
Oh, and she’s only 22.
Debuting at the tender age of 14, BoA has continued to shatter records and defy expectations as an incredibly determined pop artist, showcasing both an incredible vocal range and superb command of intricate and innovative choreography. As a result, the entertainer has often been compared to Britney Spears because of their similarly successful pop careers, both built at an early age. But while Britney may have had her ups and downs in the music world, BoA has successfully maintained her popularity in Japan and Korea, continually releasing successful albums and singles to this day.
In 2008, BoA’s management announced plans to move into the Western world for an English debut album. Several press releases later, BoA’s first single, “Eat You Up,” premiered online in late 2008, along with a newly formed American website. Six months later on March 17, 2009, BoA’s self-titled debut officially marked BoA’s latest crossover into new territory.
Though the singer has been quite busy with promotional duties in both America and Japan, I had the wonderful privilege of speaking to her on the day of her English album’s debut–in English, no less! Though the language barrier did make itself apparent in parts of the interview, BoA’s excitable, chit-chatty nature was infectious, leading to a conversation mainly filled with giggles. In the few short minutes we spoke, we covered the new album, plans for her career post-America, her interests, and yes…even the Britney concert.
To say the least, it was utterly surreal. Aside from being an intense workaholic, BoA seems like an absolute sweetheart. Best of all, after I completely melted at the interview’s end and gushed about having all of her albums and posters, she called me “so sweet.”
So without further ado, here is the full audio and text of the conversation (click “Read More…” to expand the post). Though I firmly believe that my giggling fan boy voice pays myself no real compliment, I know that many fans would want to hear BoA’s conversational English. You’ve been warned accordingly–nervous fandom and old school microphones do not equate to a high quality recording.
P.S. Like my “Circus” ringtone? Haha.
(FIXED) AUDIO AND TEXT AFTER THE JUMP!
Hey BoA! How are you?
Fine, how are you?
Iâ€™m great! So, todayâ€™s March 17â€”that means today is the official debut of the album. Iâ€™m so excitedâ€¦Congratulations!
I have to say, I just got the album in the mail about an hour ago and Iâ€™ve been listening to it ever since–
How is it? Do you like it?
I really do. I love it. It sounds like you put a lot of work into it.
Oh, thank you!
Well, I think it took around two years.
Yeah, yeah (laughs). Because I had to go to Japan [for promotional duties], so we couldnâ€™t go on recording constantly.
I had no idea it took so longâ€¦Thatâ€™s cool! So I was listening to some of the lyrics on the album, and itâ€™s definitely more mature than some of your past work. The songs arenâ€™t like “Shine We Are,” all bubbly and sweet…itâ€™s got more mature themes. Did you want to show that you were adult this time around?
Well, yeahâ€¦Because Iâ€™m an adult! (Laughs)
That makes sense (Laughs). What do you think your Japanese and Korean fans will think of this new sound?
Well, I hope they like this sound and keep supporting me…Hopefully, theyâ€™ll love this album. In Japan, I released my â€œbestâ€ album along with my US album so they can listen to both CD’s and enjoy them together.
The other thing I noticed is that the album is danceâ€”no ballads. Was that just something that happened, or did you want it to be an album of all dance music?
I really wanted to make a hot dance album, so we just tried to make all types of dance music. I started working with producers like Bloodshy & Avant and Sean Garrett, and I guess I did a good job. I think the record came out really hot.
Yeah, you did! I watched your first single â€œEat You Upâ€ as it went up to the Top Ten on the Dance Charts.
Yes, thank you!
Now, â€œI Did It For Loveâ€ is coming out soon and I really, really do love that song.
(Laughs) Itâ€™s so catchy!
I have a feeling itâ€™s going to go really high on the charts.
Yeah! We shot the music video at the end of January with Joseph Kahn. Sean Garrett was actually in the video too. It should be out at the end of March.
I actually saw a preview of the video….You do this really cool move with a fanâ€¦
I love it!
The rehearsal [for the video] was crazy. I was using chairs, hats, fansâ€¦lots of things like that.
So do you have a favorite song off of the album?
I would say â€œI Did It For Love,â€ definitelyâ€¦I love it. I also really like â€œEnergetic.â€
So I remember, ever since your debut, there were rumors that you were finally coming to Americaâ€¦and now you finally did it. Is there any reason you decided to do it now?
Well, I just felt like this was the right time. We were finally all set for the album after we had been recording for so long. Actually, â€œI Did It For Loveâ€ was recorded last year, like right before the Christmas day.
Yeah! (Laughs.) It definitely came out right before New Years. Everything was all set, and then we decided this time was the right time, and we were ready to go!
Thatâ€™s cool! So, do you have any plans to do an American tour? I know a lot of fans would really love to see you.
Yeah! I guess thereâ€™s a lot of people supporting me right now. Theyâ€™ve told me that theyâ€™re really happy Iâ€™m here.
Yeah, you have a lot of fans in America, you definitely do.
(Laughs) Thank you! I actually just did Kollaboration…It’s really big in Asian society. It was in L.A. at the Shrine Auditorium. There were likeâ€¦6,000 people there.
Yeah, so I had a chance to say hello to my Asian fans!
Oh yeah, of courseâ€¦Why not? Iâ€™m the same performer with my English songs as in Japan and Korea! (Laughs) Iâ€™ve actually got an event coming up in Japan called Springroove. Itâ€™s like a big festival…lots of artists from America are coming to perform their music, like T-Pain, John Legend, and Akon.
Umâ€¦April 4! Itâ€™s in Tokyo. Iâ€™m going to perform English and Japanese songs.
Awesome! So, after this album, do you think youâ€™re going to return to Korea? We havenâ€™t heard a Korean album from you in a long time!
Aw, thatâ€™s true! Ahhâ€¦I donâ€™t know yet. I definitely have to go to Japan. Of course, Iâ€™ll return to Korea again I’m sure! (Laughs)
So, are you enjoying America now while youâ€™re here?
Yeah, of courseâ€¦I like it here!
You liking the weather?
Yeah, the sunshine! (Laughs) I really like LA weather.
What artists are you listening to right now?
These days, Iâ€™m listening to T-Pain, T.I., Lady Gaga (laughs). Stuff on the radioâ€¦
Are you going to any concerts?
Manager: You know, with her scheduleâ€¦Weâ€™re trying to find time to go to Britneyâ€™s concert–
You should go to Britneyâ€™s concert. I went last night.
BoA: How was it?!
Oh my God, it was amazing (laughs).
Sheâ€™s back? Finally?!
Sheâ€™s back, definitely. It was so wonderful. I was right in the front.
Manager: Wait, where did you see her?
BoA: Boston! I want to go there!
You should! No, she was really amazing. I justâ€”(laughs). It was amazing.
Well, alright, I donâ€™t want to take up too much of your time! I just wanted to say Iâ€™ve been a huge fan for years, Iâ€™ve loved you ever since I listened to Atlantis Princess, Iâ€™ve had all your albums and your postersâ€¦.
Aww, thank you! Youâ€™re so sweet!
I just wanted to say thank you for making such good music.
Thank you, thank you!
Is there anything else you want to say to your fans before I go?
Well, my album just came out today, so Iâ€™m really happy that my American fans will get to hear it. I canâ€™t wait for it!
I know all yours fans in America are so proud of your success, so thank you so much! Have a good day!
Thank you, you too…Bye!
It’s been a year since I last interviewed a red-headed diva. Seems time for another, now doesn’t it?
The saucy Sydney-born songstress has been flying just below the radar for months now, delivering a solid UK dancefloor hit last year with “More Man Than Man,” and gearing up for what could very well be another in “Promiscuity.”
Garnering a countless amount of comparisons (from RÃ³isÃn Murphy to Allison Goldfrapp), Antigone’s now hoping to establish her own musical mark with her debut release, AntigoneLand. The album has been heralded by the privileged few who’ve already been made privy to the album’s contents as a noteworthy blend of sophisticated, quirky dance-pop delights.
The dancefloor darling was gracious enough to allow me some time to grill her for what proved to be a rather comprehensive onslaught of questions. I think you’ll be able to see that, in no time at all, Antigone starts to unwind and slip into something much more comfortable. Quite the minx, this one!
Read on, Muusers!
Hey Antigone! Thank you so much for speaking with MuuMuse today!
Iâ€™ve been reading up on your past accomplishments, and it appears youâ€™ve got a history almost as colorful as the video for â€œMore Man Than Manâ€! Your big break first came with a featured performance and co-write on a single called â€œThe Bass Has Got Me Movinâ€™â€ by Sydney dance group, [love] tattoo. How did that collaboration first come about?
I was pulled in as a session singer to sing a song that hadn’t been written yet. Ended up co-writing it in the session, and then spent a series of unfortunate months wrangling with the artist to make that official. What a break though, â€˜twas fun.
And then the track became ARIA nominated!
Yeah, as did the album (I contributed 3 tracks).
Now, youâ€™re originally from Sydney. I recently offended a handful of proud Aussies in a recent review for jokingly suggesting Australia to be good for only two things: Kangaroos and Dannii Minogue. Evidently, not everyone shares in my sense of humor.
What do you love and miss most about your old stomping grounds down under?
Well clearly you’ve never visited darling! Look, Australia has so many merits: great lifestyle, incredible landscape and fantastic oddball fauna (as you point out). It also has a burgeoning metropolitan culture and an incredible indigenous history. At the point where Australians realise that they can be proud of their culture rather than just import others they will be a serious force to be reckoned with. I love and miss my â€˜framily’ the most. That and the bush.
But seriously, if it came down to it–Dannii or Kylie?
Dannii foâ€™ sure, flaws and all. She seems to possess an honesty and transparency that is oddly missing from her sister.
So the collaboration happened with love [tattoo] and then, all of a sudden, you were off to Mumbai, learning Hindustani vocal technique and dubbing foreign filmsâ€”I love it! Can you reflect upon the experience a bit? What did you learn from your journeys?
It was just the most amazing trip. I won a scholarship to study at the Jazz India Vocal Institute and spent 3 months studying, performing, touring and singing for my supper at a 5 star hotel with (wait for it…) ‘Georgie and the Soft Rock Revolution’! It was a place where anything could and did happen – it felt like there were no boundaries. Of course the contrast of the hotel and the slums outside was rich for writing and I wrote incessantly. India teaches you many things, but mainly it demonstrates that the Western notion that money leads to happiness is fatally flawed.
After returning from your travels, you ended up doing a fair share of writing for various dance outfits, including Shapeshifters. Judging by the bits and pieces Iâ€™ve heard from you already, it seems that you inject a certain degree of sophistication into your lyrics, or what I like to refer to as â€œsmart popâ€â€”which is rather rare in the narrow confines of â€œdance.â€ Itâ€™s quite refreshing to hear something other than â€œgot all my girls, going out to the clubâ€ every now and then! What inspires you to write your lyrics?
I’ve always hoped that my lyrics were what stood me apart from the general dance malaise because I detest so many pop/dance lyrics for their oversimplistic clichÃ©s. It’s not enough to have a great voice or even construct hooky melodies if you want to be a ‘real artist’ – you must be able to pen a mean lyric on your own. My own experiences inspire me to write, but as I mature I want to build on the piquancy of the personal and tap into a perspective that resonates with people at a universal level. Without resorting to oversimplistic clichÃ©s!
After completing more tracks with [love] tattoo, you branched out into your first solo effort under the name Etherfox with the help of producer, Justin Shave, yielding two more dancefloor smashes in the early â€˜00â€™s. Why then have you chosen to go the way of Antigone as opposed to Etherfox? Is it a different persona?
Absolutely. See, Etherfox was actually born out of a frustration with the [love] tattoo situation. We felt we needed to prove ourselves independently so it made sense to stick within the genre. But even as we were getting that stuff out there, we were writing a whole lot of other darker, jazzier and more underground stuff, which was much closer to my roots than poppy house music. When we moved to London I felt inspired to split the projects and finally go solo. Antigone’s persona is much more complex and diverse than her foxy Etherfox – she’s intense, sensual and intellectual, and more of a demanding bitch.
You also supported one of my all-time favorite male pop stars, Darren Hayes, on his brilliant 2007 tour, The Time Machine Tour. Did you ever interact with him? Is he fun?
Darren is super funny and very generous – he’s a true entertainer on and off stage.
Your live performances have often been described as greatly â€œtheatrical.â€ For those of us who havenâ€™t been fortunate enough to catch you live in the act, can you describe what a nightâ€™s show might entail?
First I am carried onto stage by 3 very handsome Greek men in scanty clothing. Then I sing 3 songs, seductively being stripped by my assistants. Then I have a bath on stage. Hmmm. Well, recently it’s been about catsuits, flamboyant attitude and serious seduction. Iâ€™m very direct and I thrive on audience interaction. My performance this Friday 6th will be shot, so I’ll post it on youtube next week and you can see for yourself, m’kay?
â€œMore Man Than Manâ€ enjoyed a Top 10 entry into the UK Charts in 2008, an incredible debut charting, especially considering the fact that youâ€™ve been releasing music under your own label, Yoctopus. Congratulations! Why did you choose to start your own label, and is there any significance to its cute name?
It’s just a mechanism to put music out there really – I’m certainly not interested in signing anyone else. I’m working on licensing/getting signed because running and promoting a label is a hell of a lot of work, but the upside is that you’re in control and only have yourself to blame for mistakes. The cute name was invited by Shavenstein – a yocti is a scientific index number and basically means ‘very small’ (it’s 10 to the minus 24) â€˜cause we’re a small label. The octopus and puss continues our relationship with animals, as with Etherfox. We heart animals.
We find ourselves now in 2009. â€œPromiscuityâ€ is the fantastic new single from the album, set to be released in just a few weeks. Iâ€™ve had it on repeat for days now! What inspired you to record this one?
It’s about the notion that if you meet your soulmate too early in life you face the inevitable difficulty of knowing that you still need to independently grow. How do you reconcile the ‘side-effects’ of that? If you survive your â€˜growth spurtâ€™ (ahem) then great, but even so it can be an insipid dynamic at times because if you’re jealous then it’s difficult to forget the past. Yet the past is what has allowed you to become who you are and to ultimately commit. So Promiscuity is this haunting sexy girl who both satiates and torments.
Do you ever have a hand in the music production, or are you more centered around the lyrics and melody construction?
I tend to leave the production to Shave because I trust him and he’s brilliant. I do feed influences through though. We arrange together, and I will always give critical feedback when I don’t like something.
I completely adore your voiceâ€”especially on this track. I think itâ€™s a nice cross between Kate Havnevik and a more traditional pop standard croonerâ€¦like Liza, perhaps! Who would you credit as your main musical influences?
Well thank you. It began for me with obsessive imitation. First it was Sinead O’Connor, then Sarah Vaughan and Bjork. Annie Lennox, Moloko (more for lyrical style) and Syreeta Wright have also been major. To really find my own voice I have to restrict who I listen to because my voice is like an actress and I can be too impressionable.
A bit off-topic, but not really: How do you feel about Lady Gaga? I go back and forth on her all the time. I truly canâ€™t tell whether sheâ€™s revitalizing the influence of our iconic legends (Grace Jones, David Bowie, Madonna) or simply cheapening the genre. Thoughts?
Iâ€™m not entirely sure either, but I havenâ€™t paid much attention. Image seems less sexy than slutty but itâ€™s strong. She is clearly a solid performer but Iâ€™m a little scared of her leotard fetish (especially that outfit at the Brits â€“ what was that?!)
Your upcoming debut, AntigoneLand, has been a work in progress since 2007 with Justin Shave. I know Iâ€™ve seen promotion for years now, anyway! Why such a long wait? Building up the suspense?!
I had a couple of management jokers in the mix who delayed it, but when you’re putting it out yourself it just takes longer. The key thing is I know it still sounds really fresh and I think that’s because neither Shave nor I are ‘fashion musicians’, we just do our thing.
Well, no worriesâ€¦Itâ€™s finally here. What should we expect to hear with this record? Should we expect to hear any of that Hindustani vocal technique utilized on the upcoming debut?
Itâ€™s a real mixed bag but there is continuity too as its all the same team throughout. The production is heavily electronic. But because a lot of it has been made with Shaveâ€™s own electronic instrument, the Okkam 01 (heâ€™s now working for Native Instruments), it just sounds different. The playlist makes AntigoneLand a metaphor for a night out â€“ it starts as you get ready at home with some cocktails, moves to the bar for some chair dancing, escalates into some serious shape throwing, becomes horizontal as you seduce your favourite dancer and winds up with snuggles into the morning light. Itâ€™s about women, men, sex, growth, the world.
It seems as though every proper pop media outlet has heard this album, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive! Before the rest of the world has a chance to get their hands on the album, is there anything youâ€™d like to say regarding AntigoneLand?
Try making love to it – apparently its good in bed (I wouldn’t know by the way – I’m not that much of a ego maniac!)
Any last words for the fans?
It’s so exciting to have the direct contact that we do through the various channels. That’s one of the best things about being so independent – you are at the frontline and you process and engage with the fans direct. Come play and thank you!
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today, Antigone. I cannot WAIT to hear the new albumâ€”I expect great things for you, and wish you MUCH success in the very near future!
Snaps to you Monsieur Muse for a great interview.
After weeks of waiting, Christian George has finally unveiled the scantily clad, spanking new video for his debut single “Strangers,” which is currently crawling up the Billboard Dance Charts near you. Check it out right now below, but be wise…This one’s not too safe for work.
…I’m aroused. In celebration, an interview with Christian was in order to find out more about the song, the video, and the plans ahead. Read on to see what he had to say!
Hey Christian, how are you?
Good, how are you?
I’m good. Thank you so much for calling into MuuMuse!
Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me!
Before we get into the video, I wanted to talk about the song real quick. I’ve been listening to it all summer, I love it, it’s very instant.
Thank you very much.
I was wondering how it’s doing right now on the charts?
It’s doing amazing. It’s number 20 this week, still on the rise. Last week it was the Power Pick. We really couldn’t be more happy with the movement in the past few weeks. It’s been amazing.
So let’s talk about this video. I saw it the other dayâ€¦Was that your idea?!
Yeah, I came up with the concept. My label was trusting enough to let me direct it. I’m very proud of the video because I feel like we found that happy medium. The song is very risquÃ©. One night stands aren’t exactly a conservative topic by any means, so I was trying to find that fine line of keeping it risquÃ©, but not tacky. That’s why I kept it very raw.
I think it was pretty unexpected, but then at the same time, you kept it polished.
I appreciate it, means a lot coming from you. It came out pretty much verbatim the way I wanted it to. We just kept it raw. The one question I always get is, “Can we see the uncut version?” And quite honestly, we didn’t shoot one for two reasons. First, out of respect for the girls who were doing the job. I really don’t want to put them out there like that. Secondly, I feel like once you do an uncut version, it really takes away from the mystery of the first version.
Oh absolutely, that’s the whole point of the video.
It takes the whole excitement out of what’s under the black bars away.
No, I definitely agree, it would be pointless to show it uncut.
So how long did the shoot take?
It was a one day shoot. There was a good amount of preparation that went into it and I was fortunate enough to have some of the best video people working with me. First being the producer Chris Sararo, a kid I grew up with in Pittsburgh. It’s kind of like our friendship and working relationship came first circle with him producing my first video for me. Then there’s the director of photography Keith Leman, who’s huge in the photography world, now making his mark in the video world as well. I was very fortunate to have him shoot the video for me. He worked on my album packaging with Patrick Hoelck, one of the biggest photographers in the world. He shot all of the artwork for the album.
Speaking of, how’s the album coming?
The album’s great. I plan to put it out now…It’s done.
Yeah, but until we do that. I’m just continuing to record. I just recorded a masterpiece that could be one of the best songs on my record.
Finished about three days ago.
What’s that called?
It’s called “The Future.” It’s about a girl. Like a way of saying I want to be with you for the rest of my life, you know, “You’re the future, you’re in my future.” It’s really great.
Possible future single?
Yeah. I mean, all the songs on my record are possible future singles. In a humble way, I really feel like I have no album filler on my record.
That’s when you know you’ve got a good album.
I started making this record several years ago. As I result, I’ve got about a zillion songs. Each song that we do sets the bar that much higher for the next one. These songs I’ve been doing for the past few years now have been nothing short of masterpieces in my opinion, so we’re looking forward to putting out the record.
How about the sound? Is it going to be dancey like “Strangers” or do you have a mix of sound going on?
There’s a consistent flow to the record with the contents. It’s all very honest and indicative of the way I live my life. The main thing about this record is it’s very honest. I’ve allowed myself to be very vulnerable–That’s what keeps the record consistent. There are some different sounds going on with the record…There’s a lot of dance. I’m a dancer, so of course there’s going to be danceable music, but there’s also a lot of soul in the record. Not so much as in urban music, but in the sense that it came from a soulful place. It came from my heart…it’s a piece of me. That’s what keeps it consistent. It’s a nice little collage of music. I couldn’t be more proud of this first record, I really couldn’t.
It really sounds exciting, I’m looking forward to it! To end off, any upcoming events going on?
I’m performing at the DJ Expo in Atlantic City on August 9th-10th, a show at Jones Beach’s Beatstock at the end of August 23rd-24th and “Spotlight” in New York City on September 18th with Mike Rizzo. He actually did two fantastic remixes of “Strangers” on the single.
Yeah, the remixes are awesome on this.
You know, I’ve been doing music for as far back as I can remember. For this to be the first thing to be put outâ€¦it couldn’t be going any better. It’s a little overwhelming to be honest with you. You work so hard for so long to get that recognition; keeping the faith that it’s going to happen and that it’s going to be great. You really don’t how good something is until a perfect stranger contacts you or writes a positive review and you say, “Wow, it’s really happening.”
And now you got it.
And now I got it!
Well, I wish you all the best. Thank you so much for calling into MuuMuse. I’m excited to see what you’ve got going on next!
Thank you so much Brad!
In case you haven’t heard, Mike Rizzo is returning to the dancefloor. After taking some personal time off, the popular DJ is now more than ready to launch back into dance scene, onto the mixing board, and on top of the charts once more.
His return kicked off nicely with a remix of Justin Timberlake and Beyonce‘s duet on “Until The End Of Time,” and has since steadily gone upward with his smash hit mixes of Danity Kane‘s “Damaged” and Britney‘s “Break The Ice,” all of which have performed quite well on the Billboard dance charts.
Last week, I had the pleasure to talk to Mike over the phone. He’s a really funny guy with great work ethic, and it was a pleasure to speak to him and learn more about his life, his work, and his goals for the future. Go ahead and read on to check out what he has in store for 2008 including remix plans for Lindsay Lohan, Usher, live radio shows, and more!
Hey Mike, thank you for calling!
So, let’s get started. I see that you grew up in New York City and that it was in the early 90′s that you got your start?
Actually, I grew up in New Jersey. I’m still a New Jersey native; I just work out of New York.
Ooh. The Internet lies.
Yeah, grew up in Lyndhurst NJ, now residing in Clifton, NJ.
I see, okay.
Once I’m done working for the night, I need to retreat back to the tiny, quiet neighborhood [laughs]. It gets too busy to be in New York.
[Laughs] I completely understand.
Yeah, I gotta just go and relax.
Well, DJ-wise or production wise?
I’m talking about DJing.
Well DJing, I just followed a couple people years ago at weddings and proms and stuff and I was just always intrigued by how they would take the crowd and just move them. Take them in the palms of their hands; take them on a musical journey. That’s what got me startedâ€¦I was a very young guy.
So you slowly moved up into the clubs and started mixing there?
Yeah actually, I got a break. Frequented teen club back in New Jersey, Trendsetters, way back 20 years ago without giving my age away [laughs]. I would just hang out there in the DJ booth and watch this guy spin. I had his number and we could correspond back and forth. One day he said he couldn’t make it, he got sick, and I did a two hour set and it went over very, very well. They asked me back to do my own night, so I kind of got started back in the teen clubs. When I became 18 or 19, I started doing the adult clubs and then moved onto New York and bigger and better things from there.
So now that you’re well established and you’ve been all over the world, do you have any particular favorite place you like to spin?
Oh, I’d say Ibiza. I compare that to Yankee Stadium. Your dream as a ballplayer–I compare a lot of things to sports–is to play at Yankee Stadium. I believe that was by far my greatest, most amazing experience, playing Pascha in Spain.
As far as your mixes, do you consider your style to be a certain signature sound or do you think that it’s a combination?
Remixing is really making the labels happy, making the artist happy, and catering to radio. Our target is to get radio to play these records.
As far as my club mixes, I try to put a progressive, harder edge to that and make it a little more electronica-sounding and add a little bit of edge to the mixes. My main priority is definitely to get radio play. If you stay too underground, you’ll be capped at a certain point. I think you need to broaden your horizons a little bit, stay very open minded, and wear a lot of hats.
Now, is there a favorite artist you like to mix?
One of my favorites that I always wanted to work with was Usher. He just constitutes raw talent. He and Justin Timberlake, who I had the opportunity to remix also this year with Beyonce. I just got done with remixes on Usher and working on this Lindsay Lohan project called “Bossy.”
Yeah, it’s gonna be through Universal Music. They kind of co-hired me to remix this and get the best people on board to make this record happen in the club and radio.
I’ve heard the record, I really like it.
It grows on you, doesn’t it? It’s got that hook!
They’re not fully set on the single, but that’s definitely something we’re breaking in Rhythm Radio.
Yes, very exciting. We need some good publicity for Lindsay. She’s a great person, let’s have some positivity for her.
Yeah! I’ve always supported her music career. I really like what she puts out. [Laughs] No shame.
[Laughs] Very catchy hooks, most importantly.
Definitely. So, I don’t know if you heard but the Freemasons got in a bit of heat for turning down Madonna’s “Give It 2 Me,” they said they were too busy to take on the single at the momentâ€¦
I didn’t know that. I admire their work. Wow, that’s news to me!
I was wondering if that ever happened to you, if you’ve ever turned down something and later on wish you hadn’t?
Oh, I’ve had that happen on more than one occasion. I remember off-hand now a Jessica Simpson project when I was just getting started on remixing. Certain things don’t time stretch properly, they’re not in the right element of BPM in its original form. You don’t want to make it sound like Mickey or Minnie Mouse with the vocal spinner. They’re plenty of projects where I didn’t like the original song itself! You gotta remember, your name is getting stamped on that mix along with the song and label. There’s certain songs that didn’t make sense to remix to me.
You’ve also got a mix show going on BPM81.
I’m fortunate this year to have about seven mix shows. We’ve got Pulse 87.7 in New York City, I’m on board every Friday Night. Area 51 from Midnight to 2 AM. BPM 81 on XM Radio, the first Sunday of every month, I’m playing there at 10 PM. WBZC (88.9FM) in Pemberton, New Jersey, iPartyRadio.com, the original Hot 97.com, MusicChoice, and I hope I didn’t leave anybody out. I think I got them all covered.
That’s quite some coverage [laughs]
It’s been a busy schedule, but I don’t complain when I’m busyâ€¦only when I’m not!
That’s right. Now, I heard you actually took some time off last year because you just had a baby?
Well, my son’s about to turn 3. When he was born, my wife and I decided that we’re going to take time away and devote and spend time with our son. I didn’t want those first three years to go by and say, “Wow, how did he grow up so fast?” I definitely took some time just to spend with family and concentrate on reinventing my sound.
You feel fulfilled? You feel like you had a pretty steady break?
Oh, very fulfilled. As they say, you can only keep the player off the field for so long. I’m chomping at the bit to get out there.
I’ve also seen you’ve done some exciting mixes for Danity Kane, Justin Timberlake, Beyonceâ€¦
Yeah, again I was fortunate enough to come back this year and remix these great marquee artists like Danity Kane through Johnny D in Atlantic. He’s working closely with Puffy’s label, Bad Boy, so they asked me to do the mix, I did it, I turned it in and it’s taking off right now!
Yeah, that’s a great mix right now.
Yeah, the group is doing well, the single’s doing well. I actually did that mix with Robert Larow from Orange Factory, a little collaboration together on that mix. Also, just finished Usher’s “Moving Mountains”, and there’s the Lindsay Lohan project with “Bossy.”
And of course I saw some work with my personal favorite, Britney.
Oh yeah, “Break The Ice” did very, very well. I did a speck on “Piece of Me” too. I see that some people incorporated it into a video, I looked it up on Google. [laughs] She’s reinventing her sound, I love her album. I was very fortunate to work with Britney.
I was really excited to see you had some mixes on there! [laughs]
It’s been a very exciting time this year, it’s really been great.
Right now, do you think you’re going to tour, or primarily do some mixing?
We’re taking baby steps getting back in as far as DJing. Putting a tour together is so time consuming, but July 26th I’ll be playing at Sound Bar in Chicago. September 18th in New York City, we have Big Bash on Broadway with Amber, Deborah Cox, Chris Willis, Christian George, and a whole host of people. Mark that on your calendars!
Sounds exciting! Any other current projects?
We also started our own label, NY2LONDON Entertainment, where we have Sallie Toussaint, a former Miss Connecticut model, we’re putting her out next with a single called “Uncomplicated,” so we’re putting a lot of time into branding the label.
How about producing wise, is that what you’ve been working on with Sally Toussaint?
Yeah, as a matter of fact I co-wrote the song. Still doing a lot of co-writing. As far as music composition, I do my music; send it out to a lot of talented writers here and internationally. They do their writing, and we just try to put them with the most talented singers, whether it’s pop artists, mainstream artists, or some of our own here on the label!
Sounds great, sounds like you’re really busy right now [laughs]
Well, I’m trying! I’m refreshed, I’m through with that little hiatus and I’ve got a lot of energy brewing now.
Well, I’m excited to see what you have next. I think that’s all I got for today, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for talking to me here at MuuMuse.
Oh, it’s my pleasure, I had a great time chatting with you!
Me too, and I wish you the best in the future!
Thank you very much, Brad!
It’s becoming a long, hot summer, as a certain gaggle of women fancying themselves as “The Aloud” might say. And in sweltering times such as these, there’s always a need for some chilled out music to top off the scorching summer heat. One of my recent discoveries from the blogosphere in the past week is the delightful Kuryakin, an electro-acousto duo hailing from Sweden. After a series of song releases over the past few years, Petter GjÃ¶res and Johan Norberg have decided to put their recordings together onto one “greatest hits” compilation of sorts–an album called Still Here. Rich with layered, sweeping synths and sunny rhythms, Kuryakin’s music is simplistic and charming, offering a refreshing escape from today’s heavier variations of electronica. I got a chance to ask Kuryakin a few questions, so I’ll present thembelow. The boys also asked for us to excuse their English, which is a little bit adorable. Read on!
So who came up with the name, Kuryakin? Does it mean anything?
We took the name from the TV series Man from U.N.C.L.E. The Russian agent Illya Kuryakin is one of the two lead characters in that show. We had great trouble to come up with a name for the band. The name is kind of geeky and we took it because we couldnâ€™t think of anything better, but now we are used to it. Illya Kuryakin is by far the coolest of the two lead characters as well soâ€¦
And how did you guys meet? Is it a lovely, memorable story?
No, we just met when we both studied history on the university in Uppsala. We met through mutual friends. Petter played together with another guy and at first they needed a drummer but since Johan was tired of playing the drums he got to play guitar. After a while the other guy moved to another country and Kuryakin formed.
Are you both still studying at University?
Yes but Johan who is becoming a librarian should be finished this spring. And Petter is just about to finish his masters in politics and teachers degree.
Do you guys play a lot of live shows, or do you stick to producing rather than performing?
Itâ€™s not very often but we have played more than ever this spring. Itâ€™s kind of hard when you are just two guys so the computer does a lot of work without anyone running it, because the both of us play guitar. In the future we would like to have other people on stage that can help us out, but we donâ€™t know that many people who plays instruments and want to play with us.
The website says you use your laptops to make your music. What do you use to do so?
We have some music software and use different software synthesizers and sounds. Most of the songs are written on guitar though. Computers are great when you have limitations and canâ€™t have for example real strings. It would be great if we could use more real instruments. We like big arrangements, but we also love to work with samples, beats and computer effects.
What kind of music do you like to listen to when not recording?
We both like ambitious pop music that is rather unpredictable but in the same time never looses the focus on melodies. Prefab Sprout and the songs by Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson or Burt Bacharach is great in that kind of way. We are very much into soft rock from the 60â€™s and 70â€™s with bands and artist like Carpenters, Free Design and America, but also into indiebands like Trash can sinatras, The Sundays or Saint Etienne. We try to mix influences from that kind of music with everything else we like. Johan is also in to Rnb and hip hop and such but Petter doesnâ€™t really like that stuff that much. We take influences from that type of music and other types of music too though, even if it maybe isnâ€™t that noticeable.
What kind of music do you hope to make when recording?
Our general goal is to make beautiful music. We know that some people think our music is kind of cheesy, but music can be cheesy in a good way we think. We canâ€™t seem to get enough of maj7 harmonies and strings. It would be great if our music isnâ€™t boring, and if you are able to like the songs even if you think the sound is outdated.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Paddy Mcaloon and the Swedish indieband Eggstone.
It looks like you’ve released a bunch of mini EP’s and singles over the past years, but this year marks the first time you’re releasing a more comprehensive release. How come you picked the songs that you did to make the album, Still Here?
We have only released a 7 inch on a Japanese label and one song on a complication album up to this date. Other than that it has just been sporadic mp3-releases. Still Here contains a lot of old songs we have worked on like the last five years. Itâ€™s very nice to finally release them and get them out of the way. We are kind of tired of these songs. But at the same time we rediscover them again and again.
Are you planning to continue on making music after this release?
Right now we are working on an album with 8 completely new songs for the Japanese label Fastcut Records. If things goes as planned it will be released sometime this year. We are trying to work a bit faster now, which sometimes is hard because we live in different cities. The new songs arenâ€™t as electronic as the songs on Still Here. They contain more acoustic guitars and vocals without layers of reverb.
Why is Swedish pop so perfect?
We donâ€™t know if we agree that itâ€™s perfect. We really like some bands and artists like Jens Lekman, Cloetta Paris, Tough Alliance, Eggstone, Radio dept and Stina Nordenstam, but there is a lot of crap too.
What’s next for Kuryakin?
We will work on the album and keep on doing music for as long as we can and as long as we like it. Like we said before itâ€™s a relief to have released the Still Here songs so we can concentrate on new stuff, and we really enjoy music making right now. We will also try to write lyrics that isnâ€™t just nonsense about the weather, and doesnâ€™t contain grammatical errors.