Archive for the ‘In Conversation’ Category

Popping Up: Conway

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Big Talk With Ellie Goulding's Tourmate
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.

One phone call can change your life, and nobody knows that better than up and coming, genre-defying singer Conway. Before being selected to open for Ellie Goulding on her current tour, Conway was, as she tells us, “playing to about 50 people at a bar in Orange County with a horrible sound system…and people were eating burgers.”

Conway’s Big Talk EP was released via Columbia last fall, and a chance meeting with photographer Zach Gold at the annual CMJ fest resulted in the stunning music video for her song “Hustler,” which Idolator premiered in February.

When she hit New York recently as supporting act for Goulding’s two-night stand at Madison Square Garden, we knew we had to have Conway into our studio for a chat. Head below to find out all about this truly original new force on the pop scene. More »

Akon Plays Pop Associated, Talks Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Whitney Houston & More

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The First Thing That Pops In His Head On Each Artist
While Akon stopped by the Idolator to discuss his philanthropic work with the Akon Lighting Africa Project and Peace One Day, we also made a point of asking him about the sheer volume of other artists the smooth crooner has collaborated with over the last 10 years. After all, this is the guy who signed Lady Gaga to his Kon Live label, sang the memorable wooh hoo hook on Gwen Stefani‘s “Sweet Escape,” worked with Michael Jackson on several songs before the pop king’s death and penned tracks for Whitney Houston‘s final album I Look To You.

We also couldn’t help singling out one of the hands-down best collabs Akon has ever done (in our humble opinion) — Kardinall Offishall‘s 2007 smash “Dangerous” — and getting the full scoop on how the song came together.

Above, watch Akon as he rattles off the first thing that comes to mind with each artist we mention. Then head below to watch him school us on his hit “Dangerous.” More »

7 Questions With Akon: Unreleased Michael Jackson, Harlee, ‘Stadium’ & His Lighting Africa Project

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Philanthropy & Music
Akon has been hitting the pavement to get the word out about two of his passion projects, but this time they’re not music releases. (That said, he does have a single out, “So Blue,” which you can purchase on iTunes here.) Rather, the hit-making music mogul is putting his power behind two philanthropic endeavors: Akon Lighting Africa, a project that aims to bring electricity to 1 million households in rural areas of the continent, and Peace One Day, a concert in the Congo this September 21 that Akon will headline in an effort to promote nonviolence on a day dedicated to cease-fire in war-torn areas.

Akon stopped by our studio to talk about these campaigns, and while chatting he let on that there are still a few unreleased “ideas” — in some form or other — with regards to collaborations between he and Michael Jackson that he’s holding onto.  One music-related project that will see the light of day in 2014, according to the singer, is his long-delayed fourth album Stadium. More »

Popping Up: Kiesza

Kiesza Idolator interview Hideaway popping up
Watch Video
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.

In February, budding pop-star-in-the-making Kiesza dropped the video for her debut single “Hidewaway” online. Dance tracks with a retro, ’90s-leaning house vibe are getting to be a dime a dozen these days — and that’s not to say we don’t love them when they’re good! — but something about “Hideaway” took things a step further. Aside from the hypnotic beats and shiny, bleeping and blooping synths, there’s an urgency to this 25-year-old Canadian’s vocals that have a way of pulling listeners in.

And then, of course, there’s the video, all four-plus minutes of which were shot in one take on the streets of Brooklyn with nary a budget. Still, the clip is a mesmerizing watch — more so than half the flashy six- or seven-figure visuals out there by more established song birds.

Given all this, we couldn’t resist inviting Kiesza over for a chat about her life up to this point, and what she has in store for the music-loving masses. Watch our Popping Up sitdown with her above. More »

SXSW 2014: Betty Who On Collaborating With Claude Kelly, Starsmith & Babydaddy For Upcoming Album

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See Who She's Been Working On New Material With
“Heartbreak Dream” sensation Betty Who has been busying herself in Austin by acting as house band for Bravo personality Andy Cohen and Watch What Happens Live during South By Southwest. The most bizarre thing that’s happened to her so far this week? “I was singing ‘Somebody Loves You’ as the musical guest, and Shaq got up and danced with me during it,” she told Idolator.

We also took the opportunity to ask Betty (real name: Jessica Newham) about her upcoming Slow Dancing EP, as well as the songwriters and producers she’s been collaborating with for her forthcoming album. More »

Popping Up: Cole Plante

Cole Plante Idolator interview 2014 Ruby Odell
Get Wise To This Young DJ/Producer
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.

Right now, most 17 year olds are either (hopefully) studying hard while winding down their 11th grade years or getting ready to graduate high school altogether. But most teenagers aren’t Cole Plante. The Los Angeles native is not only a track runner and member of the Beverly Hills High marching band, he’s also a rising-star DJ who’s released two singles through Disney’s Hollywood Records label in the past year. And that’s when he’s actually back home. Right now Plante is on the road, opening for Demi Lovato for her Neon Lights Tour, along with Fifth Harmony and Little Mix.

While in town last week for Demi’s New York stop, Cole stopped by the Idolator studio to discuss his latest single “If I Fall,” a collaboration with singer Ruby O’Dell and Hungarian dance maestros Myon & Shane 54. We also got some pretty good scoop on what he’s working on next…not to mention his ever-changing hair color. Watch our interview with this budding beat-maker above. More »

Jessica Sanchez Talks New Sia Collaboration, Jennifer Hudson Performs At Pinoy Benefit: Exclusive

Jennifer Hudson, A Great Big World, Charice and Jessica Sanchez were just some of the stars who sang their hearts out at the Pinoy Relief Benefit on Tuesday night (March 11). With New York’s Theater at Madison Square Garden as their stage, these artists, along with Penatonix and Plain White T’s, performed past hits as well as a few new songs to raise money for the Pinoy Relief, an initiative helping the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

A Great Big World kicked off the show with their hit “Say Something” (sans Christina Aguilera) and paid homage to New York with their ballad, “Already Home.” Meanwhile, Jessica Sanchez, who’s been working on her follow-up to 2013′s Me, You & the Music, opted for covers. Although she’s still in the early stages of album-making process, Sanchez revealed that she’s been steadily working on writing her songs for her sophomore LP.

“I never really wrote in my life,” she tells Idolator. “But I’m really just trying to put my whole self in this album and be completely from me and just share my story. But we’re working really hard and making sure that this is to the T — perfect.” More »

Aloe Blacc Talks “The Man” On The Set Of His Live Music Video: Idolator Interview

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He's The Man
Aloe Blacc dropped a mind-boggling live video for “The Man” yesterday (February 27) and we were there when he filmed it in the Red Bull Studio in Los Angeles. The soul singer kindly sat down with us before taking the mic to talk about his rapidly-exploding hit and one-take performance piece.

He humbly gave credit to the song’s popularity to its placement in a Beats by Dr. Dre commercial and explained its uplifting message, saying: “it’s the same story I keep telling in all my songs. It’s the story of the underdog hoping for a better moment.” The 35-year-old then talked us through the live visual, which was influenced by Ethiopian rhythms and Russian folk music! Watch up top. More »

Kylie Minogue Discusses Pharrell, Sia And New Album ‘Kiss Me Once’: Idolator Interview

Read Her Lips
Pop Kylie. Indie Kylie. Sex Kylie. Goddess Kylie. Over the decades, the musical force that is Kylie Minogue has offered us one variation or another of her on-stage image while still maintaining enough of a “girl next door” likeability that we truly wish she would just move in down the block already. Listening to her upcoming 12th album Kiss Me Once (out March 18), however, conjures up a new persona for the Australian pop queen: Comforting Kylie.

Making the album wasn’t an easy road for the singer, by her own admission. And once countless tracks were done after a year of working with a multitude of collaborators, there came the arduous task of whittling them all down to one cohesive, Kylie-worthy set. Knowledge of that melts away, though, when listening to the record, as what ultimately shines through on Kiss Me Once is the radiant positivity, particularly with the optimistic lyrics that fill songs like lead single “Into The Blue,” the uplifting Ariel Rechtshaid composition “If Only” and the album’s title track, on which Minogue worked with the LP’s executive producer Sia Furler.

Kylie spent time cluing us in to what the process of piecing together her first studio album in four years was like, from switching her management over to Roc Nation to working with talents ranging from hit maker Pharrell Williams to French actor Clément Sibony. Head below for the full Idolator interview with Kylie Minogue. More »

Colbie Caillat On Babyface, Ryan Tedder And Her Upcoming Album: Idolator Interview

Despite the fact that her last proper studio album was released nearly three years ago, Colbie Caillat‘s output has been remained prolific — and successfully so. The California singer’s 2012 holiday LP, Christmas In The Sand, was followed up by “We Both Know,” a duet with Gavin DeGraw from the Safe Haven soundtrack — the kind of sweet pair-up they just don’t make anymore, unless you’re, say, Pink and Nate Ruess. The track wound up earning Caillat her fifth Grammy nomination in December, this time for Best Song Written For Visual Media.

“Relativity Media asked me two summers ago if I would write a song for the Safe Haven film and I was on tour with Gavin that summer, so I asked him. We had already been trying to get together to write songs, so that one was the one we did. Gavin started playing piano at my house so beautifully and we just went from there. His voice is so gorgeous,” Caillat tells Idolator of “We Both Know.”

The duet lost out to Adele‘s multi-award-winning “Skyfall” at the Grammys last month, but Colbie has already moved on to her yet-to-be-titled fifth album, which she’s hoping sees a spring release. That said, the up-tempo record that will come out is a vastly different one than Caillat originally began recording last summer with producer John Shanks, thanks to a late-in-the-game session with Ryan Tedder. More »