Three years after his critically acclaimed Michael Franks tribute “Cool School”, American multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer-songwriter Leo Sidran finally returns with his long-awaited new and arguably most personal album “The Art Of Conversation”. Listeners can expect a treasure chest of intimate and introspective portraits of family life during the pandemic, performed by Sidran in his irresistible blend of jazz, singer-songwriter pop, bossa nova and funk and supported by numerous friends. West Coast Soul talked with the Grammy Award winner about the making of his seventh studio album, family life in times of Covid, the influence of his adopted hometown of New York on his music, the impact of the crisis on the music industry and his plans for the future.
His songs often seem light and easy-going, but they are guaranteed to stick in your ears: Dutch singer, songwriter and producer Tim van Berkestijn, better known by his stage name Benny Sings, has become one of the Netherlands’ most talented musical exports with his distinctive blend of mellow Californian-influenced pop, jazzy R&B and a hint of DIY charm. In the music business for around twenty years, Benny Sings has collaborated with the likes of Anderson .Paak, Cornelius and Mayer Hawthorne and earned himself a loyal fan base – not least among artists and musicians. In 2019, he made his international breakthrough with the critically acclaimed record “City Pop”. On his new album “Music”, released on April 9th via Stones Throw Records, he refines his signature sound, supported by great artists such as Mac DeMarco, Tom Misch, Emily King and Kelsey Gonzales. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the Amsterdam-based artist about his new album, his latest collaborations, sources of inspiration, the right beat, nostalgia and much more.
With “Memories Of Love”, the fourth album of soul singer Myles Sanko will finally be released on 12th March via Légère Recordings. In ten stylishly recorded and arranged new songs, Sanko illuminates the eternal theme of love with all its facets, delivering his most personal album to date. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the prolific musician, producer, designer and director about recording the new album, the many shades of love, the meaning of authenticity, musical influences, fatherhood and his longing to perform live again.
While winter still has Central Europe in its grip, Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18 bring us the first great summer album of the year with “Mas” via Légère Recordings. Like its predecessor, the highly acclaimed “Joia!”, this album is a collection of songs sung in Welsh, combined with distinct pop and South American influences from bossa nova, cumbia, samba and tropicália. Behind the project stands the Welsh musician Carwyn Ellis, founder and leader of Welsh band Colorama and renowned session man who has played with artists including Edwyn Collins, Oasis, The Pretenders and Shawn Lee. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the Cardiff-based singer, songwriter, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist about cultural exchange, his fascination with South American sounds, recording the album in Rio de Janeiro and the role Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders played in the making of “Mas”.
With “Introducing…”, Brooklyn-born, Baltimore-raised songwriter Aaron Frazer has released one of the first album highlights of the year. Frazer previously stepped into the international spotlight as drummer and co-lead vocalist of the fabulous soul band Durand Jones & The Indications. The artist with the unique falsetto voice hadn’t planned on releasing a full-length solo LP until he received a call from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who was so taken with Aaron’s voice and songwriting that he quickly convinced him to produce his solo debut. The result is an album on which Frazer doesn’t hide his old school soul roots, but also opens up to other influences from pop to gospel to doo-wop. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the talented musician about the making of the record, high-speed songwriting sessions, musical influences and the importance of the right drum sound.
Californian singer-songwriter Eddie Chacon is probably best known to most as one half of the early 90s US soul duo Charles & Eddie. With “Pleasure, Joy and Happiness”, the 56-year-old has ended his self-imposed musical exile in 2020 with the support of Solange and Frank Ocean collaborator John Carroll Kirby and released one of the best albums of the year. The introspective masterpiece will finally be released as a limited LP in Europe in January. Reason enough to talk with the artist, whom Mac DeMarco recently called his “planet earth’s number one musician”, about his current album, his career and musical influences.
With “The Sunset Manifesto”, DJ Supermarkt aka Marcus Liesenfeld delivers the relaxed soundtrack for the private club evening between kitchen, home-office and Christmas tree in Corona times. The second release in the Too Slow To Disco Neo series presents sixteen sophisticated, adult-oriented and dance-inducing Sunset Disco treasures by international top acts and new discoveries such as Kraak & Smaak, Poolside, Roosevelt, Luxxury, Yuksek and PREP, which, in addition to their catchiness and smoothness, combine a sense of nostalgia that the Berlin DJ calls “parallel pop” – music for a delightful, if imaginary, contemporary world. WEST COAST SOUL talked with Marcus Liesenfeld about the new compilation, dance music in times of social distancing, nostalgia as a music trend, and what comes next for TSTD.
Even if it is still some time until Christmas Eve, with his great new Christmas album “A Joyful Sound” the American soul powerhouse Kelly Finnigan gives us one of the most beautiful musical gifts of the year already in the Advent season. The 38-year-old Bay Area-based singer, songwriter, engineer, producer, and band-leader of the famous Monophonics stands for authentic, handmade music and follows artists like Lee Fields and the late Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, who heralded the soul revival at the beginning of the 2000s. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the multi-talented artist about his new Christmas album, the relevance of soul music in our time, music influences, his favorite classic Christmas records and further plans.
After Swedish singer-songwriter Viktor Jakob-Jonsson has already caused a stir in the West Coast music scene with his excellent debut single “A Little Denial” in August, the next coup will follow at November 26th with the follow-up single “Monotony”, a wonderful 70s-inflected duet with none other than legendary singer and multiple Grammy Awards winner Bill Champlin. Reason enough to ask the Stockholm-based artist and passionate West Coast music aficionado, who says of himself that he still has hundreds of songs in his drawer, for a talk.
Originally founded as a project by four established artists, PREP has developed from EP to EP from an insider tip to a bearer of hope of sophisticated British pop music. The quartet comprises of Grammy nominated producer Dan Radclyffe, French drummer Guillaume Jambel, Welsh keyboardist Llywelyn Ap Myrddin and London-based singer and frontman Tom Havelock. Together, they have created over the past five years an eclectic blend of contemporary indie pop, soul and synths, deeply rooted in the melodic West Coast elegance of the 70s and 80s. In late October, the quartet finally released their highly anticipated self-titled debut album on Bright Antenna Records. WEST COAST SOUL talked with Guillaume Jambel and Tom Havelock about the making of their debut, their musical development, their shared love for Steely Dan, the importance of smoothness and the value of nostalgia.