Rites of Spring Performers
The Shins are a multiple GRAMMY nominated American band formed by James Mercer in Albuquerque, NM in 1996. After a few years of self-financed singles, demos and van tours, the band was signed by Sub Pop Records who subsequently released its first three full length records.
Their debut full length, Oh, Inverted World caused a seismic shift in the indie rock world upon its release in 2001, singlehandedly ushering in the modern era of the genre. Moved by the strength of verifiably life changing songs like “New Slang”, “Know Your Onion” and “Caring is Creepy,” a generation of artists ditched the previous decade’s lo-fi aesthetic in favor of Oh, Inverted World’s emphasis on melody. Selling nearly a million copies and featuring heavily in the cult classic Garden State, the influence of Oh, Inverted World continues to be as profound as it is wide-reaching.
The Shins released their sophomore record, Chutes Too Narrow in 2003. The album garnered near-perfect reviews from The New York Times, MOJO, Rolling Stone, and Q, among numerous others solidifying The Shins’ iconic standing.
The band’s third LP 2007, the epic Wincing The Night Away, debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 moving more than 100,000 copies in its first week of release, and saw their Saturday Night Live debut and a second GRAMMY nomination, once again reaffirming The Shins’ stature as one of the most significant acts of the new millennium.
The fourth, and most recent Shins album, Port of Morrow, was released in 2012 on James Mercer’s own Aural Apothecary label in partnership with Columbia Records. Preceded by “Simple Song,” the highest charting Shins single to date, Port of Morrow debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 and was met with rave reviews: Entertainment Weekly declared it “the band’s best album in almost a decade” and Pitchfork described it as a “triumphant return.”
James Mercer currently resides in Portland, OR and is busy working on the band’s fifth album to be released via Aural Apothecary/Columbia Records. The record will be supported by a world tour on which Mercer will be joined by Yuuki Matthews (bass), Jon Sortland (drums), Mark Watrous (guitar, keys, vocals), Casey Foubert (guitar) and Patti King (keys).
Tupelo, Mississippi. It’s the home of Elvis Presley, but even for those clued in on that fun fact, it’s safe to say that few, if any, know much more about the city. Nestled in the northeast corner of the Magnolia State, and with a population of just over 35,000, indeed, Tupelo, like most small metropolises, is easy to overlook. Rae Sremmurd – pronounced “Ray-Shrim-er,” consisting of real life brothers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee, the first act signed to multi-platinum producer Mike WiLL Made-It’s Ear Drummer Records – is out to change that.
Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee were born in California, but moved to Tupelo at an early age, where they were raised in the notorious Ida Street housing projects, some of the worst, most crime-ridden in the state. Making matters worse, Sremmurd’s parents split while the brothers were still young, a devastating turn of events that found the brothers, over multiple stretches, seeking shelter in abandoned homes scattered throughout the area. For a city with little history outside of its musical heritage, and in a state where two young kids short on role models could look up to the growing star power of in-state hero David Banner, music, from a young age, became a way for Jxmmi and Lee to escape the desperation of their surroundings. “When we were growing up, it was just about perseverance,” says Slim Jxmmi, before flipping a quote made famous by Stark Trek character Richard Wakinyan. “Regardless of the situation, we couldn’t let the haters win.”
The movement started locally, with the brothers throwing parties and shows around town, often in the same abandoned buildings where they once stayed. The pair always had larger ambitions, though, and so the brothers, natural performers since elementary school, taught themselves how to record, make beats, and DJ, building enough buzz to earn an appearance on the popular “Wild Out Wednesdays” segment during BET’s music video countdown show, 106th & Park. Back home, Lee and Jxmmi earned the attention of fellow Tupelo native P-Nazty, who also happens to be a producer signed to super producer Mike WiLL Made-It’s Eardrummers Entertainment production team. P-Nazty introduced Rae Sremmurd to Mike WiLL, and the multi-platinum producer (Rihanna, Jay Z, Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Future, Juicy J) was instantly impressed by the brothers’ energy and the quality of their music, signing the duo to his label, Ear Drummer Records. “When I met them,” recalls WiLL, “they just had a real young dope energy about them. So me and the Ear Drummer team locked in the studio like we normally do, had a lot of fun, and cooked up some amazing music. This is just the beginning of our working relationship, and they’ve got a bright future. I believe in them.”
Rae Sremmurd’s first single under the Ear Drummer Records, “No Flex Zone,” was a breakout for the duo, becoming a cultural touchstone throughout 2014 and entering Billboard’s Hot 100 and Top 40, peaking at number 36, while earning the brothers a performance on the 2014 BET Hip-Hop Awards, along with a remix from Nicki Minaj and Pusha T, and co-signs from the likes of Kim Kardashian, Justin Timberlake, Juicy J, and plenty more. The follow-up, “No Type,” has proved even bigger, peaking at number 16 on Billboard’s Top 40 charts and earning the duo their first late night appearance, with a performance (a medley of “No Flex Zone” and “No Type”) on The Tonight Show. To start 2015, Rae Sremmurd released their highly anticipated first album, SremmLife, with a top 5 debut on the Billboard Top 200 and a number 1 debut on Billboard Hip-Hop, and have since had “Throw Sum Mo,” featuring Nicki Minaj & Young Thug, emerge as their third consecutive single to break into the top 10 at urban radio and second consecutive single, following “No Type,” to peak at #1. With each new success, Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi have managed to keep a level head, focused simply on showing the world what two young brothers from Tupelo can achieve. “It’s the energy, that’s what #SremmLife is all about” says Swae Lee. “We bringing the fun back to music!”
St. Lucia is BACK with an infectious new single “Dancing On Glass” and a brand new album Matter. And with those comes a series of North American dates, following up on the band’s sold out fall 2014 headline tour.
St. Lucia’s 2013 debut LP When The Night earned raves everywhere from Entertainment Weekly (“an absolute smash”) to Elle (“we have an obsession for this group”) to Billboard (“essential listening”). The last two years have also seen the band touring with the likes of Ellie Goulding, Empire Of The Sun, Charli XCX, Foster The People, performed at Coachella and Lollapalooza, and appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Late Night With Seth Meyers.
Right now, the Atlantic Records artist might be the hottest singer in LA. His breakout mixtape, 2012’s Beach House gets nastier than Luther Campbell or Nate Dogg ever wanted to be. Drugs, sex, and stripper booty popping. Just the finer things in life.
His hit single “My Cabana” was not only last summer’s 24-7 party anthem, it figures to be played in every pool and beachside cabana from here until the liquor finally runs out (or no more people can fit in). “Beach House is definitely who I am, so I’m talking that shit,” Ty says. “It’s everything that I’ve lived in life. It’s bringing that R&B and soul with a slap.”
Don’t trip on the subject matter, Ty writes some of the most well crafted and melodic pop songs you hear on the radio. Y.G. is signed to Def Jam and is one of the most popular street rappers in LA, but it wasn’t until Ty wrote and produced his hit “Toot it and Boot it”, that he earned radio airplay.
Welcome to the omnivorous world of the South Central-raised star born, Tyrone Griffin. Music is in his blood. His father was in the funk band Lakeside (“Fantastic Voyage”) and an uncle was in the Isley Brothers. Ty has been creating music since he was a three-year old writing lyrics and playing a keyboard. Since then, he’s taught himself how to play the drums, bass guitar, electric and acoustic guitar, the violin, the piano, and the Wurlitzer organ.
“I can play music with the wall and some pencils,” Ty says. “I want to leave people with incredible and timeless music, it’s a soundtrack to people’s lives. I want to get better every time. I really take pride in my sound.”Complex hailed him as “a less self-serious version of The Weeknd…one of the most promising artists to work in this R&B Kelly-style R&B vein since The-Dream first broke.” The magazine also named his forthcoming Atlantic Records full-length, Free TC as one of 2013’s Most Anticipated.
But Ty might be the most eclectic artist of his peers. His inspirations go way deeper than just R&B. Ella Fitzgerald, 2Pac, Prince, Michael Jackson and Nirvana are as important to his conception of sound as Mint Condition and Brian McKnight. So is contemporary electronic music. If anything, Ty Dolla $ign might be heir to DJ Quik’s title of America’s most complete artist.
This is why he’s collaborated with everyone from top 40 perennials like Wiz Khalifa and Chris Brown, to West Coast hood stars like Y.G. and Joe Moses. And in the immediate future, Beach House 2 is adding a sundeck, Jacuzzi, and more bad chicks to the cabana.“It’s just the next step—some club joints, some slower ones. I’m saying things that every man feels. It’s going to get a lot of people laid this summer,” Ty says. “But I’ve stepped up the music and production, the singing and the videos. You’ll see. “
Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez make up JOHNNYSWIM. The pair met in Nashville in 2005, instituting a songwriting partnership not long afterward. They clicked together musically and personally, beginning a romantic relationship along with their creative connection.
The couple married in 2009 and relocated to Los Angeles. In addition to their 2014 debut full- length, they’ve released three EPs, as well as a Christmas EP and a live album. They’ve performed on various television shows including VH1’s “You Oughta Know Concert,” “The Tonight Show starring Jay Leno,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Today Show,” “Live with Kelly & Michael,” and provided the theme song on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” The duo has also toured extensively including major U.S. festival appearances.
Georgica Pond was produced by JOHNNYSWIM’s Abner Ramirez and recorded at the couple’s home studio in Los Angeles, with bass and drum parts added at the Castle in Nashville.
Of their process, Ramirez explains, “Any fear we had on album one has completely evaporated. We know the people that come to JOHNNYSWIM shows. We know it matters to them what we have to say. We realize that, much like ourselves, our fans appreciate honesty. We wanted that to be the cornerstone of this album.” Amanda Sudano Ramirez further highlights the themes on the album: “love, legacy, the past and the future all put into this bittersweet mixture that makes you fully appreciate the present.”
It all started in Portland, OR…
Now, Portland isn’t traditionally referred to as a hotbed of hip-hop like Brooklyn or Compton is, but Aminé could very well change that perception.
“You don’t ever think of a rapper or even a black guy coming out of Portland,” he asserts. “That’s just not a thing! However, there’s a fairly diverse subculture in the city that few people know about. It’s very different from what you would expect.”
However, everything he does defies expectations. The rapper, artist, and director draws equal influence from his parents’ Ethiopian heritage as he does from trailblazers such as Kanye West and André 3000. He’s more likely to record in a remote AirBNB’ed wilderness cabin than he is in a posh studio, and he cites Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson as major inspirations. Building on a lifelong passion for music, he began recording in high school and quietly sharpening his mic skills. While attending Portland State University, he released his 2015 project Calling Brio. Merging visual lyricism, swaggering production, and his clever, catchy bars, it became a phenomenon on Soundcloud, racking up over 1 million+ plays. In addition to praise from Pigeons & Planes, HypeTrak, and more, Complex spotlighted him as “one of the artists we’re certainly checking for this year.”
“I’m a fan of all genres,” he explains. “My parents always played African music and Bob Marley. Then, I grew up on everything from Erykah Badu to John Mayer. I want to do something that reflects this diversity. My songs need to be good for the listener personally.”
Representing that mosaic style, his 2016 single “Caroline” struts through a funked-up tribal bounce with the kind of grit and gusto that’d make Jules Winfield and Vincent Vega proud. Upon release, it quickly caught fire, garnering 10 million-plus Spotify streams, 8 million-plus Soundcloud plays, and 4 million-plus YouTube/VEVO views as well as reaching #1 on Spotify’s Global Viral Top 50, #1 on the US Viral Top 50, and #1 on the Canada Viral Top 50. As the track took off, he inked a deal with Republic Records.
“With ‘Caroline,’ I wanted to make an encouraging and fun record,” Aminé goes on. “It really happened in the moment, and it’s a feel good song.”
It’s also just the beginning. Aminé has a lot more surprises up his sleeve for Portland, hip-hop, and the world at large.
“I never want a basic reaction,” he leaves off. “I want you to always have questions. I hope to challenge listeners to wonder why. Those are the artists I care about.”