Mitsune Told Me: The Mind’s Behind ‘Hazama’

Mitsune is something to truly feast your ears on. Teaching us to look beyond the sounds of the western curtain, the quintet bring traditional Japanese folk music and infuse it with the sounds of modern blues, jazz and rock in a culmination that truly broadens horizons. The band’s latest project, Hazama, is due to be unveiled in mid-February so we got chatting to two of the Tsugaru shamisen players, Youka and Tina, to find out more…

STM: When was the last time you discovered an artist through word of mouth?

Youka: Constantly! The most recent examples are Yuma Abe (Japan), Audrey Nuna (USA) and Juba, a sick UK/Nigerian DJ who lives in Berlin. I found out about all of these artists through friends.

STM: How useful is the tool of ‘word of mouth’ when an artist is just starting their career?

Tina: I think it’s a communication of high quality, since the recommendation is added, which gives it this extra kind of honouring. Especially when starting a career, this can be the hidden gem recommendation.

STM: What were your first ‘tools of promotion’ when you first started in music?

Tina: Facebook, Instagram, mailing lists, website and flyers.

STM: What do you think the industry would look like without streaming platforms like Spotify?

Youka: This might be controversial, but I think Spotify algorithms are responsible for the homogenisation of a lot of music. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of diverse music on streaming platforms – anyone can put their music out there without a label or distribution deal, and that’s a wonderful thing! But these days most listeners are discovering music via Spotify algorithmic playlists, and I think it can really get you stuck in a genre box. Unimaginative music that sounds like whatever is popular at the time gets rewarded. I think it’s even started to affect the way people make music, musicians catering for this.

Anyway, to answer your question – I think the music industry without streaming would be overall more refined, curated by tastemakers, with more emphasis on albums rather than singles. On the downside, it might be harder for emerging artists to get their hat in the ring.

STM: What did you learn about yourselves as people and as musicians from writing/recording Hazama?

Tina: I learned to appreciate the energy of working together based on deep respect for a person and their skills. And there were so many new musical influences, which was a sensory experience. Last but not least: vocals + tricky shamisen techniques at the same time were a great challenge.

STM: Where did the idea behind the band come from?

Tina: The love for the shamisen was what connected us all. This mutual passion made us reach out for each other. The different paths we came from gave us very unique perspectives to this instrument, and to music in general. We want to show that this supposedly ‘traditional’ instrument is very much alive and contemporary. It is exciting and vibrant.

STM: How important is it that we spread knowledge and awareness of these traditional Japanese folk music sounds to those unaware of them?

Tina: For a more diverse music scene, any music that promotes lesser known instruments and tunes should get attention. There is such a big range of instruments and musicians beyond the western curtain, which still dominates what is broadcast and who is booked.

STM: What is the group dynamic like between the five of you?

Youka: Our rehearsals are a lot of fun, lots of laughter. Mitsune started first as a shamisen trio, so Tina, Shiomi & I have known each other the longest in the band. We have a deep relationship that extends far beyond musical collaboration – it’s a sisterhood. We love each other very much and are an emotional support network for one another. Petros & Daigo, our percussionist & bassist, are both super fun, enthusiastic people who are amazing to be around. They are also incredible musicians, open-minded and willing to tackle anything. The band is essentially based on friendship, so there’s a lot of great energy flying around in our rehearsals and on stage. We try to have fun 🙂

Hazama is unleashed on the 18th of February 2022!

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True Religion unleash an entrancing fusion of Spanish and English influences on their new single “Que Bonita”.

Today, I would like to introduce you to one of the most novel musical acts currently performing today. The duo “True Religion” consist of the virtuosic flamenco guitarist Juan Carmona and the exceptional vocalist Amy Gill. With distinctive vocals, combined with pounding beats that will fill any dancefloor, “True Religion” have crafted one of the most unique sounds of the fast-growing underground music scene.

The exhilarating single “Que Bonita” begins with the strumming of Carmona’s tender guitar strings which immediately grabs the listener’s attention. Then, the exceptional, soulful vocals of Gill kick in, which will make any listener yearn to dissect every word that emerges from Gill’s vocal chords. Gill’s voice is very reminiscent of a young Sinead O’Connor, due to her unique ability to hit the highest of octaves. The first 50 seconds of this track allows the listener to hear Gill’s isolated vocals, combined with exceptional production work, Gill’s vocals have a distinctive ‘echo’ effect, which allows Gill to have the maximum emotional effect on the listener.

“True Religion is the truth about ourselves, about how we can handle things, the emotion of being alive and feeling the others, about how we can manage difficult situations, by being kind, conscious, by practicing mindfulness and meditation, by true friendship, by trying to be better persons every day.” – True Religion

The track then takes an unexpected turn, when a house dance beat is introduced alongside Gill’s vocals, with Carmona’s distinctive guitar playing also making a much welcomed return. The music gradually grows into an irresistible electronic/dance track that will be welcomed at any nightclub in world, especially post COVID-19.

The wonderful attraction of “True Religion” is that you never know what they are going to do next. This is the case with “Que Bonita” as the track’s final two minutes contain no vocals and instead allow the listener to appreciate Carmona’s exceptional musicianship on both the guitar and piano, this is his moment to shine!

This track is a wonderful blend of flamenco and house, with influences from both England and Spain that will hopefully unite the whole continent of Europe during a period in which we arguably, the most isolated from each other. Check out “Que Bonita” if you haven’t already!

WATCH THE ‘QUE BONITA’ MUSIC VIDEO HERE – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFRKHEYrjUg

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Words by Aidan Whelband

BPSOCA release an instant dance classic in ‘Djèn Djèn’

BPSOCA have just released one of the best dance songs of 2021 that is destined to be inescapable across Bluetooth speakers this summer. BPSOCA music is a British record label that aims to bring Caribbean soul music back to the UK Charts. ‘Djèn Djèn’ has an irresistible pounding melody which is difficult to get to leave your subconscious once you’ve heard it. The track has some of the best vocal delivery that I’ve heard all year that complements the track’s narrative of the experience of the women’s perspective at a Soca Fate (Party).

The music track was fittingly produced in Trinidad, which allows the song to transcend Caribbean culture and transports the listener onto an energetic Caribbean beach.

BPSOCA Music have been heavily influenced by other Caribbean artists such as ‘Major Lazor’, ‘Machel Montano’ and ‘Bunji Garlin’. They have kickstarted the Caribbean soul revolution by releasing ‘Djèn Djèn’, and I am eagerly anticipating what other plethora of musical soliloquies they will craft to benefit music lovers.

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Words by Aidan Whelband

Juga di Prima is an empowering asset to the world of chess and music

With The Queen’s Gambit quickly becoming one of the world’s most talked about subjects, Juga di Prima is intriguing audiences everywhere with her two passions: music and chess.

Composing multiple chess-themed tracks, ‘Oh Capablanca‘ has been mentioned by chess pros and fans as ‘the best chess song ever written’. Another masterful Juga hit, ‘Tactical” is a thrilling single about inner insecurities.

“Chess is a mirror of life, a treasure of humanity” – Juga di Prima

This Chilean artist is an empowering artist bringing two completely different worlds into the same ‘genre’. Combining her life as a recording artist as well as an artistic ambassador for the world of Chess, her extraordinary ambition can be heard throughout all her tracks.

With ‘Chess Divas’ to be unveiled this month as an audio-visual tribute to women chess champions throughout history, the world is in the palm of this contemporary icon’s hand.

Amazing chess song, you will love it!”Judit Polgar, Most successful female chess player in history

“Absolutely love this song!” – Alexandra Kosteniuk, Russian Chess Champion

The Passion of chess made art. Chess needs more artists like Juga”- Leontxo Garcia, El País (Spain)

“Every chess fan must listen. Epic, moving, authentic” Anna Rudolf, Chess Commentator/Olympic Champion

“Chess has inspired many writers and painters throughout history but until now, very few songs had been written about the game. Juga has filled that gap. She has become the voice and music of chess” David
Llada Fide, International Chess Federation

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jugamusica/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JugadiPrima
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jugamusica/
Website: https://www.jugamusica.com/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/juga-musica/albums
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4kDj5alm5mRpcDjwE46cdA
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/Jugamusica/videos

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8-year-old Elle raises money to support homeless people with new Christmas single

Capturing the heart of the Country with her beautiful new single ‘It’s Christmas’, Elle is only 8-years-old, but proves that talent can be found at any age.

A percentage of all money raised from downloads goes directly to the charity Shelter. With the added songwriting talent of Elle’s hairdresser Saab Vancootan, the heartfelt Christmas single will melt your heart this Christmas with its powerful message.

On her emotive new single, Elle mentioned, “I just hope this song makes people think about homeless people this Christmas. It must be horrible to live on the streets and I just want to try and help them more if I can. Thank you to everyone who supports this fundraising campaign.”

Max Newton, head of community fundraiser for Shelter said, “It’s been a year of unbelievable difficulty for many people. The impact of the pandemic means that many people are facing homelessness for the first time; some will be forced to sleep on the streets this winter. Shelter is working hard to help those who are worst affected – but as growing numbers of people need our support, we need the support of the public.

Using a simple approach to convey the story, whenever you see the lyric ‘It’s Christmas’, you won’t only be thinking of Noddy Holder from Slade anymore.

We need more humans like Elle…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellesangellittlestar/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellesangellittlestar/
Website: https://www.ellesangellittlestar.co.uk/
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5UGmeIaJfyyhdOqRmnTec6?si=_gkrhZntR-CA1Qcf-JeuGg
Apple: https://music.apple.com/gb/album/its-christmas/1539860492?i=1539860708
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1nvGLm1h9o

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Michael Cooke finds his identity with latest album release ‘Doin’ Alright’

Michael Cooke’s recently-released debut album ‘Doin’ Alright‘ is doing more than alright. An exceptional release that finally helps Cooke find his own identity after a years of looking in different industries; his story doesn’t start with music. Having had his hopes dashed of becoming an Olympic athlete, Michael turned to acting.

To keep you fully in the loop, Michael has an identical twin who is always in the acting industry. Coming up against his own twin for the same roles, Michael still became a successful actor, and has featured in films ‘Now You See Me 2‘ and ‘Outpost 3‘ to name a few.

‘Doin’ Alright’ is an 8 track release straight from the heart. Soul-bearing and securing a strong indie persona, the album hears all of Michael’s influences under one roof. Somewhere between the sound of the 60’s while still sounding refreshingly like the present, the album resides in a folk come indie rock atmosphere.

Listen to ‘Doin’ Alright’ below, we’re certain it’ll brighten your day.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcookemusic/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelcookeofficial/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-830073447-182196885
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5MxyKC6glppKNIXoR0mbaI?si=W5vd0Nv6QG-JTpO9lBUOjw
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRp-OTMQGvxHX3Cp1C1dx_g/videos

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Taken from his 2019 album ‘Night to Myself’, ‘Piccadilly’ sees Kiey swap Ho Chi Minh City for London

Electro-pop artist Kiey is currently based in the heart of Vietnam. Influenced by different surroundings to create electro-pop ballad ‘Piccadilly’, you can guess where the most inspiration comes from. After spending three years studying in London, ‘Piccadilly’ is a transcending single that will hit close to home with listeners wherever you are. Bathed in cultural elements, the track is coated in sensational electro-pop sensibilities that feel influenced by the likes of Lana Del Rey, Sia and Troye Sivan. 

A stunning mix of melancholic textures, Kiey’s vocals soar through a dream-pop soundscape with ease. ‘Piccadilly’ is a warming introduction into Kiey’s stunning music. Released for Halloween just gone, the haunting visuals for the mesmerising single are truly captivating. 

Dive into Kiey’s music head first, you won’t be disappointed. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kieymusician
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kieymusic
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kiey_nature/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ryanvia/tracks
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5EUXxplcFbismt2ccPQNHd
Apple: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/kiey/1269595540
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHz0EcKVq-8

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Arctic Monkeys unveil plans for new live album to raise money for War Child

Set to release a new live album this December, the news of Arctic Monkeys‘ return is blowing up social media. Out December 4th, the album was recorded at the band’s show at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Raising money for WarChild, all proceeds from the show went to the charity, and the proceedings from the album release will too.

Arctic Monkeys stated, “On June 7 2018 we played a special show at London’s Royal Albert Hall,” they wrote. “All proceeds from that night were donated to War Child in support of the vital work they do protecting, educating & rehabilitating children who have experienced the trauma of conflict and the horror of war.”

Armed with a trailer to gear fans up even more, Christmas has certainly come early!

Soul & Funk legends Crack of Dawn team up with Soul diva Melba Moore to release stunning new single ‘Tiempo’

With over forty years of funk under their belt, Canadian soul powerhouses Crack of Dawn are veterans on the scene.

The titans of Soul have teamed up with the incredible Melba Moore to bring us brand new single Tiempo.

The female flair which Melba Moore adds to Tiempo elevates the tune to a whole new realm. Filled with emotion and pain, Tiempo is a stunning single from this dream team.

Soul diva Melba Moore is a four time Grammy® nominee and winner of the 1970 Tony Award®, for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, for her performance as Lutiebelle in Purlie.

Both a musical and Broadway legend Melba Moore lends her incredible vocal abilities and funky flair to Tiempo. With a massive eleven top ten US hits, Melba Moore is one of Pop music’s most enduring talents.

Crack of Dawn are legends in their own right. The Canadian powerhouses became the first ever Black Canadian band to sign with a major label, having joined Columbia in 1975.

After a period apart, Crack of Dawn reunited for a concert at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre in 2012. The group began working on a new album shortly after; with a lineup of old and new, the soulful legends were back and better than ever.

Tiempo, translating as ‘time’ in Spanish, is a grooving Soul track written by Dennis Nieves and Michael Dunston. Tiempo tells the tale of two lovers needing time to find themselves again after a tumultuous split. A soulful and emotive single, combining some of the best talents in the Soul & Funk genres, this track is truly unstoppable.

Follow Crack of Dawn and listen to Tiempo today

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Written By: Jessica Rowe

Former Eurovision contender Waterflower releases industry-bending new single ‘Palm vs Palm’

To distinguish Waterflower as a unique artist is rather an understatement when considering her methods behind making music.

With a similar sound to that of Bjork and FKA Twigs, Latvian-born art student Sabine Moore (AKA Waterflower) is bending industry norms by using plants to produce her songs (Yes, plants).

Watch: Waterflower’s latest single, ‘Palm vs Palm’.

From using electromagnetic pulses to extract melodies from plants, to playing them live on stage as a living keyboard, Waterflower’s approach to making music is something we’ve never seen before.

“I started working with plant synthesisers in 2015 when I saw the Kickstarter project for the Ototo Synthesiser. I decided that this is what ‘Waterflower’ is all about, playing with plants as synthesiser keys.”

WATERFLOWER, ON HER INTRODUCTION TO PLANT-BASED MUSIC.

‘Palm vs Palm’ is the latest example of her work that previously saw her just miss out on representing her home nation at Eurovision. With the song title derived from the plant which she used to make it, Waterflower’s latest tune is a cacophony of delicate strings, wobbling synthesisers, thudding drums and effortlessly controlled vocals.

Having toured Europe, receiving rave reviews from the likes of The Playground and Resonance FM, Waterflower’s individuality and creativity has seen her gain significant attention.

From the looks of ‘Palm vs Palm’, Waterflower’s upcoming album Balta Gaisma will be innovative, experimental and somewhat extraordinary.

Check out ‘Palm vs Palm’ as part of the new album set to drop on September 28th, or listen now on all major streaming platforms.


Follow Waterflower to keep updated on all her new releases here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaterflowerMusic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_water_flower/

Website: http://www.waterflower.lv

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/waterflower

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3hC37A4FC6LS41h5E7VUk7

Youtube: http://youtube.com/waterflower

Bandcamp: https://waterflower.bandcamp.com/

Words: Ellis Maddison.