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Demi Lovato has been hard at work on her new album. In her last self-titled album, Demi, released two years ago, the singer gave us catchy pop-anthems like Heart Attack, Neon Lights and her latest hit – Really Don’t Care.
This year, Lovato promises a bolder approach for her fifth album. “Authentic” is the word she uses a lot to describe her new sound. “I’ve never been more confident in my sound. Never been so sure of who I am as an artist. Never felt this hungry and driven…” she tweeted earlier this year, adding that this album is “very very authentic to who I am and the voice I have inside”.
Big promises, Lovato!
She’s got the vocal range, incredible control and drive to go the distance. We certainly can’t wait to see what this fearless 22-year-old singer has in store for us especially after her awesome concert in Singapore.
In our interview with Lovato, she talks about the process of recording album no.5, collaborating with Kelly Clarkson, meeting Sam Smith, plus one particular song that made her (gasps!) cried.
1. Back in Feb, you tweeted about embarking on a new chapter in your life. What has been some of changes you've made for this new journey?
The tweet was a reference to the new year and current projects that I’m working on that I’m thrilled about. I’ve been in the studio creating my fifth album and so far I’m really proud of it!
2. You've used the word "authentic" to describe your upcoming fifth album. Was it a challenge to be authentic when you were starting out in music?
It was – when you start out, the music you are creating is not always the type of music that feels right to you as an artist. This time around, I have the ability to head in a musical direction that I truly believe in, which I’m excited about.
3. What's the process of recording an album? Do you record xxx amount of songs and dwindle it down?
There’s not really a process – it’s all about being spontaneous. Writing a song is always so unique, you can write it in an hour or it can take you a year. It really depends.
4. Is it important that most of the tracks on the album are written by you or are you open to songs written by other artists as well?
For me, it’s important that I’m involved in the creative process – I’m open to songs written by others if it’s something I can relate to. On my latest album, Demi, I co‐wrote most of the songs so it was definitely my most personal album to date.
5. We heard that a collaboration with Kelly Clarkson almost happen but didn't. What happened?
The timing wasn’t right, but we both want to work with one another so anything’s possible in the future!
6. Sam Smith happens to be a huge fan of yours! What was that like?
It’s awesome! The first time I met him, he told me that he related to one of my old songs so I realized he was actually a fan. I’m also a huge fan of his and I think he’s so incredibly talented!
7. You've experimented with various hairstyles and hair colours and they are amazing! Can you share with us some hair tips?
If you don’t feel confident about it, don’t do it. Before I made any sort of change, I always made sure I was 100% confident about the decision I was making – but then again, it’s only hair and it will grow back and you can always change it!
8. What did you do last year that you would never do this year?
I don’t really think there’s anything I did last year that I wouldn’t do this year.
9. What things in life do you think should be free?
I think that the best things in life are actually free – love, friendship, kindness... sprinkle it everywhere!
10. What was the last song you listened to and cried? How did it touch you?
There is a song I wrote for my new album that I cried after recording it and hearing it back. It is just really personal and I didn't hold anything back.
11. Rich can mean many things. In which way do you feel rich?
I feel rich because I have an amazing support system around me who have been there for me through everything. As long as they are happy and healthy, I’m happy.
12. We're in love with your 5‐year‐old "fiance" (Grant) who proposed to you during one of your concerts! Will you be accepting any more proposals for your upcoming concerts?
I’m already taken! He was so cute =)
Lovatics, prepare yourselves for next Monday’s concert.
Date: May 4, 2015
Venue: KL LIVE @ LIFE CENTRE, Malaysia
Ticket prices: RM388, RM188, RM138
All tickets available at Ticketpro.
Sheppard Share Their Debut Album, Touring Around The World And The Works Behind Their Worldwide Hit 'Geronimo'By Michael Apr 15, 2015
Straight from Brisbane, Australia, indie pop group Sheppard has surprised the world and even themselves after their immediate worldwide successes in the easy-going favorite Let Me Down Easy and the global smash-hit, Geronimo. This unique lineup of 6 talented individuals combine their vast music IQs to make energetic and joyful music while putting wide smiles on the faces of many listeners.
We have an exclusive interview with Sheppard as they share how they formed as a band, touring in huge places like Europe and the story behind their favorite songs on their debut album Bombs Away. Sibling vocalists George & Amy Sheppard still can't believe how they've quickly taken the world by storm and you can see it on their humble and excited faces in the video below.
Watch the exclusive interview below!
Photo credit: Universal Music
Set It Off’s Dan Clermont Reveals Inspiration Behind “Darker Pop Rock”, Praises Fans and Dishes Relationship AdviceBy Solihin Mar 22, 2015
Bursting into prominence with one Cody Carson’s lifelong dream of belting out Coffee Shop Soundtrack alongside All Time Low, Set It Off emerged in 2012 with their theatrical debut album, Cinematics. Having captured the hearts of listeners with a refined symphonic edge not commonly found in their pop rock counterparts’ sound, the band’s recent sophomore record, Duality, embraced more overtly pop sensibilities, gaining both critical acclaim and fan fervour.
We recently interviewed lead guitarist Dan Clermont to check on SOI’s undoubted excitement for the slew of excellent tours they’re featured on, their many sources of influence and whether Singapore might be a pit stop anytime soon. Some of Clermont’s replies might surprise you!
1. Set It Off is currently headlining the Glamour Kills Spring Break Tour alongside bands including As It Is and Against The Current – acts who similarly started out via YouTube. Do you think it’s necessary to have an active online presence or is touring a more tangible and effective method of gaining a following?
Dan Clermont: I feel you actually need a lot of both to make it happen. This is a very technology driven generation so the Internet and social media is such a huge outlet to reach current and new listeners. As far as the touring aspect, it's very important that you get in front of your supporters. Anyone can buy a record and listen to it but to create that everlasting bond between a band and its family...that's what makes live shows so important.
2. What is it about the Warped Tour that you guys are looking most forward to? Any bands you’re eager to catch performing?
I haven't seen the entire line up yet but there's so many good friends that have been announced so far so it should be a fun summer! I'm most excited just to play this tour on a new album cycle and show warped tour how much we've grown over the last two years.
3. You’ve been featured on Fearless Records’ Punk Goes series several times, the most recent cover being Ariana Grande’s Problem. Which pop artist are you currently obsessing over? Whose song are you dying to cover?
We've all been on a massive Chris Brown kick right now. The dude's talent and skill can't be compared to many at this given day and age. X by him would be a fun one to cover.
4. All Time Low has been cited as a major source of inspiration behind the creation of Set It Off and this same tight-knit relationship with fans is evidenced by your tribute to the “Dreamcatchers”. What is most rewarding about such interactions? Any chance of an ATL tour anytime soon?
Cody's love for All Time Low at the time definitely kick started for band and they've been nothing but great to us for the duration of our career. We are truly blessed to have such a strong family like vibe with our fans. We all talk to each other like a bunch of brothers and sisters whether it's having a nice heartfelt moment or giving each other a hard time to no end. As far as an All Time Low tour, I know we would love to share the stage with them at some point. Maybe it'll work itself out!
5. Duality boasts a more pronounced pop-driven direction. What were some of the music you were listening to during the recording of the album that inspired such a development?
It's definitely a major transition sonically from Cinematics, we basically just wrote a record of what we love to listen to based on what we grew up around and what inspired our love of music in the first place. We were jamming anything from Maroon 5 to Celine Dion to get those vibes right.
6. Your latest video for Ancient History reminded me of Adam Sandler’s 2006 movie Click. If you had a universal remote that allows you to fast-forward and rewind moments from your life, what would you alter?
I don't how it would affect my given life since my education doesn't directly involve my career but I would have been a better student in my middle school and high school days.
7. That track in particular is said to be based on a previous unhealthy relationship of Cody’s. What is the most important piece of relationship advice could you impart us with?
Don't ever feel like you're trapped. Every relationship has its ups and downs but if you find yourself constantly questioning it then you should get out ASAP.
8. Is synchronised dancing a la Backstreet Boys (based on recent music videos) now part of the Set It Off DNA?
I wouldn't say it's going to be a primary focus of ours but it’s something fun to throw in that we don't see a lot of bands of our likeness do so often anymore.
9. Set It Off was listed under Rock Sound's “59 Bands You Need In Your Life Right Now.” Describe why one should listen to SIO in 3 words.
Darker pop rock.
10. Singapore. Does it ring a bell and if so what’s the immediate association that comes to mind?
Race cars and a place I want to be haha.
Photo credit: Equal Vision Records
INTERVIEW: Pop Punk Patriots New Found Glory Weigh In On blink-182 Drama, 5 Seconds of Summer & Why Punk Rock Won't DieBy Solihin Feb 22, 2015
Against the backdrop of a crisp, unassuming Thursday morning, I somehow found myself quite comfortably seated next to “the by-default godfathers" of pop punk, New Found Glory. Not across them mind, but perhaps a tad too casually (cosily) several inches past conventional personal space boundaries at the foot of a sturdy coalition of tables, drawn up no doubt, by the more-than-accommodating staff of Café Melba. Seemingly unfazed, guitarist Chad Gilbert was the mediating presence that genially fronted a good part of the 50-minute long round-table interview before their concert covering topics ranging from mosh-ready old aunties aboard a specific airline to sagely observations regarding the popularity of tattoos.
On the latter subject, vocalist Jordan Pundik would boast of an MxPx design, a band credited for giving NFG their “first few shows” whereas it was Ollie the Olive and Ricky Ravioli (the colourful characters from Olive Garden’s kids menu) that adorned the calf of one protein bar-chugging Ian Grushka. A companion of Gilbert’s since freshman year, the faded lyrics to Hatebreed’s Before Dishonor (“What I have in my heart I’ll take to the grave”) were inked steadfastly across his arm. “It’s about staying sincere and holding true to your beliefs,” the ardent straightedge musician elaborated.
With matrimony on the horizon, Gilbert assures that “there is very good chance” of a collaboration between New Found Glory and Paramore, poignantly revealing his fiancée’s first impression of his band (“I crap my pants in front of Hayley [Williams] once”). He also instantly recalls how the juxtaposition of They Might Be Giants’ Birdhouse in Your Soul characterised the couple’s fateful drive up to Kentucky – a memory that would soon spawn the mega-hit, Still Into You.
Given the band’s unique and frankly, veteran vantage point, there really wasn’t anyone more suitable to have a sit-down with and discuss the going-ons of the alternative scene, why punk rock will be unerringly relevant and unearthing what the hell was going on in that bloody video of theirs.
Spin or Bin: In light of the recent blink-182 feud (and also the departure of Asking Alexandria's frontman) what are your opinions on founding members leaving: Might it seem as if a band is continuing for the sake of its brand and impede its future?
Chad Gilbert: I think it’s always up to the band. I feel like blink-182 is in a tough spot because a lot of people love Tom and [he’s] not in the band anymore. But to be honest if Mark and Travis get another member and they make an album that’s fucking awesome, then people will love it. I think at the end of the day music speaks for itself and I think people don’t like change but sometimes change can be for the better. I don’t know whether you’ve seen Blink live but Tom sometimes sounds like shit live! He writes great songs but who knows, maybe the new singer will sing better live and people will be like, “Damn! He actually sounds better than Tom!” It all depends on how you react – I don’t know about Asking Alexandria but same thing: If you can step to the plate and write good songs then it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be good.
Ian Grushka: I feel like a band as a whole are gonna have more fun performing when everyone wants to be on the stage. When people are onstage for the wrong reasons whether it be for the money or whether they feel because they have to be, it’s not sincere and I think that people are paying their hard-earned money to come to see your band play, they wanna make sure that everyone onstage is having the time of their lives and putting on the best show possible.
C: And I think fans too should trust a little bit in bands as well. I’m friends with Mark and I’ve read comments that Blink have gotten. People are like “Oh where’s Tom??” but at the end of the day if you have a couple of people who wanna play all the time and you have one person who never wants to play, that’s unfair to the people that wanna play. Fans should just try to trust their bands that they’re gonna make the best decisions for themselves which ultimately will be best for the listeners.
On their hopes and dreams when they first started the band:
I: We just wanted to get out of Florida and tour. I was a little bit older than the rest of the guys starting out and I had talked to bands because I’d always follow bands on tour and I’d be like “How do you do it?” and they said “You just gotta tour, if you don’t tour, you’re not gonna make it.” I remember it being hard because all these guys were still in school so I was just working a shitty job and I knew that I had to get them to tour. I kept saying “We gotta tour, we gotta tour!” but they were busy in school and we’d play shows on the weekends. When we finally signed to a record label, I was like “We gotta have this fake meeting where you tell everyone in the band that we have to start touring nonstop because they’re not gonna listen to me but they’ll listen to you.” Chad dropped out of school (C: Whoops! And I still don’t have my high school diploma…) and it’s my fault.
C: Everyone else graduated but I was the youngest so I didn’t graduate. We were signed and we were on MTV when I was still a junior in high school, y’know. I was in grade 11 and we were on MTV! Ian used to work at the bagel shop and it was on my path to school, so every morning I would go in his bagel shop, get breakfast before school and he would give me free bagels.
I: I’d sneak him extra food in the bag (with extra cream cheese)
On the personal traits that define New Found Glory as punk rockers:
C: We’ve never tried to fit what was popular in the mainstream. When we came out, we just created the music that we played. We never wanted to sound like any other bands. Some of us liked west coast punk rock, I liked New York hardcore and some of us liked emo. So we all had our different influences but when we started writing music, it came out like New Found Glory. We sounded nothing like blink-182, we sounded nothing like Green Day. We were our own style and we got popular. But then when music started changing and things kinda got poppier or things got a little bit more gothic, a lot of bands changed with the genre but we created our genre, so we never changed because we started our style of music. So I think that’s a definitely trait that makes us punk rock – that trends have come and gone but New Found Glory is always New Found Glory, because we aren’t an impersonation of anything else. We are our own brand, we our own sub-genre. I think that’s a very important thing that keeps us still a band.
Do you think the marketing of bands (namely 5 Seconds of Summer) as being “pop punk” could result in more boons or banes? Or does the pop punk community itself at times lack inclusivity?
C: The thing about 5 Seconds of Summer is that basically, they’re a pop band and people wanna give them longevity and in order for them to have longevity, they need credibility. That happens all the time with all types of music. A rapper will come out of nowhere and they want to give him credibility so they’ll say that he’s friends with this [other guy]. [Even in] country, they struggle with artistes having credibility. I think that that always happens and I think that people can be fed what others want them to believe but people know bullshit. The people that like 5SOS are gonna like them and the people that don’t, won’t – it won’t have an effect on anything. It happened before when Good Charlotte got popular; they were essentially a pop band that looked more like a punk band and they’ll tell you that. You look at them now and they just play pop music and that’s always kind of been there. I think people try to make it a bigger deal than it is. Just like let them play whatever they want to play and if people tell you, “Yo they’re a punk band!” you can believe it or not believe it.
As the “doting fathers” of the genre, what is one piece advice you have received that you'd pass on?
C: For anything, you have to love what you do. This kind of music – it’s not huge on the radio. You can’t do it expecting that you’re trying to live [someone else’s life] like “Yo I wanna be in a pop punk band,” sound this way and have a ton of fans. It’s never easy, you’re always gone, you’re always touring and if you don’t love you do, you shouldn’t start a band. With pop punk too I think it’s important to be creative like, don’t just rip off every other band – try to establish your own sound, your own twist on things. I feel like with a lot of bands lately, they’re all sounding very similar and every year there’s like a new one that comes out? And I just think it’s important to not copy but try to evolve this sound. I think The Story So Far has evolved the sound – you can hear their influences but they have their own style. I think that’s an important thing to do – to grow the sound and not just recreate what someone else already did.
On regrettable tattoos:
Jordan Pundik: I wouldn’t say it’s regret, I just think it’s [more of a] “Why did I do that?” and it makes a good story.
C: It’s all [about] where you are in life. Tattoos now are like a fashion sort of a thing but when we grew up it was more of a social statement? There were the jocks, the preps and the punks and in the suburbs you didn’t want to fit in – you were an outcast that if you didn’t fit in school, so you got tattoos. But now jocks have sleeves! Everyone has tattoos. Before, that meant that you were a little weird and that’s why we had tattoos. When I lived in LA and everyone has tattoos, I hate my tattoos; I’m like “Man, I hate my tattoos. I look like everyone else! I look like all these people screaming for attention.” But when I‘m in Tennessee where no one has tattoos and I walk around and everyone judges me, that makes me happy because then it’s a statement: You can be different and still be smart. In certain parts of the country if you have tattoos you looked at as a criminal but in LA you look like everyone else.
It’s the same thing as straightedge – I can be punk rock and not do drugs. I can have tattoos and not be a criminal. It’s more about the social statement behind people not being close-mind and open-minded to everyone.
You previewed several stills from the recent One More Round video you filmed. What can we expect from it and what’s the underlying message you were trying to convey?
C: You can expect to be very disturbed. It’s not a happy video, it’s very aggressive. The lyrics of One More Round are basically just saying how our band can take all the shots it’s gotten and still be a band. We’ve been through so much in our career that there is nothing anyone could say that would hurt our feelings. So the video is an extreme portrayal of that. It’s us trying to play and people are running through with chainsaws and sledgehammers, literally beating the shit out of us but we’re still playing. But it’s shot in a way that was actually inspired by Indonesian horror movies. There’s that movie um, I Saw The Devil? Oldboy, [martial arts action crime thriller] The Raid 2 where there’s like Hammer Girl and it’s really bloody but shot really nice? That’s what inspired the video – really gross horror movies. [Based on the lyrics, the message is that] no matter what you do, keep going; but we did that with chainsaws.
On whether people will stop listening to punk rock:
J: No way. I think it’s been bigger than this band for a long time. Maybe not on the radio or MTV so much anymore.
C: People need punk rock. What happens is that you get into music, right? Say you’re ten years old and you hear Katy Perry, One Direction or whatever it is. You turn fourteen and you’re in school but now you’re starting to deal with real relationships and people. Then you listen to your [KP/1D album] and you’re like, “Okay… I’m starting not to relate to it as much anymore. Then you hear a punk band and [realise] “This is just as catchy as a One Direction song but it’s actually making me feel not alone.” When you hear punk rock music, it helps you cope with your life because you’re able to have a favourite band that is willing to expose your true feelings. Pop music doesn’t necessarily do that it’s, “Let’s write a catchy song about having fun at a club and everyone will relate to it.” [I: Or let someone else write a song for us, with their feelings.] With punk rock music, people get to a point where they’re like, “Alright I can now smell bullshit and I need to hear a song that will help me deal with going to high school, going to college or entering a serious relationship. You wanna be able to hear a song and have someone express what they did in their relationship and I think that’s why there’ll always be punk rock because you rarely get that from pop songs.
Photo credit: Alvin Ho
The music industry is an onerous one to be a part of, and Lindsey Stirling is well aware of that. The dancing violinist and crossover artist was once critisised forher lack of commercial marketability by America’s Got Talent judges.
“I think the problem is with you. You need to be in a group, you need a singer, you need to find a group of people to work with, and I don’t think what you’re doing right now is enough to fill a theatre in Vegas,” said Sharon Osborne. Piers Morgan added that she wasn’t “good enough to get away with flying through the air and trying to play the violin at the same time”.
But reality, which means Lindsey’s over 6 million YouTube fans, her multiple sold-out shows all over the globe, and the release of two albums (2012’s self-titled Lindsey Stirling, and 2014’s Shatter Me that has climbed up to number two on the Billboard 200), has proven industry veterans nothing but the opposite.
We caught up with the young performer recently on her life and career so far, working with artistes such as John Legend, Owl City, and Pentatonix, as well as the sacrifices that come with success. She also discusses her next step in upping her game, and shares the five songs that have inspired her to become the female powerhouse she is today.
What's your best memory so far since finding success?
Bringing my family members on tour with me. My sister was my assistant and in charge of wardrobe on my last US tour and I brought my parents to Europe for part of my summer tour. They'd never toured Europe and they hardly ever get to travel, so it was awesome to experience that with them.
Who's your dream collaboration, and why?
I love Hayley Williams. She is just cool. But really, not only is her voice incredible and powerful, she also has rad style, cool hair and she's smart.
You've been touring around a lot. Any travelling woes?
I love touring but it’s kept my relationship status at “single” for a long time. It's very difficult to meet someone and start a relationship when you are in a different city every day for seven months out of the year.
What are five songs that's shaped you, and how so?
Scheherazade (orchestra piece) was one of the pieces that my father used to play over and over again on our record player. It made me want to play the violin. Beat it made me want to learn to dance. Sk8ter Boi made me want to be a rock star. My Immortal made me want to write powerful moving music. And Bangerang made me fall in love with dubstep and want to write my own dubstep music.
What's one thing that no one knows about?
I am pretty open about my life, so almost anything that I'm okay with people knowing, the world already knows.
As an immensely unique and niche performer, do you ever worry about how you're going to take things to the next level without overloading yourself?
I wonder that all the time. I love what I do and I like things in very specific ways. That is why I like to do most things myself. But I've slowly learnt to trust other people and to let go of my controlling nature. For example, I started working with production companies to bring my video ideas to life in 2014. I've started working with a choreographer, and just this week, I started to work with a costume designer. This has helped me as a person to not be so controlling. It’s been amazing to see the power of collaboration. My fear in letting others help was that nothing would be done right, but by finding the right people and learning to articulate my ideas, they actually come out better.
Despite being one to defy conventions, was there a time when you wanted to just take the easy, "normal" route?
When I first started, I tried to go the "normal" route because I hadn't considered that there was another way. But no record label or talent agency was interested in what I did. They all wanted me to change. So that is when I decided that I wasn't going to play by their rules and I was going to do things my own way. I haven't looked back since and I wouldn't have it any other way.
What kept you going despite the rejections and setbacks you've faced in your career?
I was definitely extremely discouraged and I still get hurt and disappointed even now, but disappointments can make you or break you. Rather than letting them crush me, they fuelled me. Nothing motivates me more than when people say I can't do something. Also, I just knew inside that I could do it. I've never been so motivated before about anything.
What's a life mantra you try to stick to?
You can't love others until you love yourself.
If you could leave a message to your 14-year-old self, and 34-year-old self, what would you say?
Always remember to make the people I love and my religion the priority.
While you're still under 30, what are some things you'd like to accomplish?
Publish a book, start or team up with a charity, play an arena tour.
Venue: March 3, 2015 (8pm)
Date: Marina Bay Sands
Tickets: $148, $128, $108, $88 (excludes booking fee)
Spin or Bin Music is proud to be the Official Music Blog for Lindsey Stirling Live in Singapore!
Photo credit: Lindsey Stirling