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Thursday January 12th, 2012 22:08 Making Snow Angels: The Miike Snow Experience

By Mikala Hughes

And just when I thought Swedish indie pop couldn’t get any better–there was Miike Snow.

Consisting of childhood friends Pontus Winnberg, Christian Karlsson, and American songwriter Andrew Wyatt, Miike Snow was formed in 2007 in Stockholm, Sweden and were popularized by their hits “Animal” and “Black & Blue.”

Winnberg and Karlsson first gained success through their production aliases Bloodshy & Avant, working with such artists as Kylie Minogue and Madonna. It wasn’t until 2004 when the duo produced a little known track by the name of “Toxic” for Britney Spears (which won a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording) that the pair met their third band member, Andrew Wyatt.

As songwriters the trio excel at what they do, and it’s no surprise that as producers they shine in the same light. With an ear for the beat hidden within the melody, Miike Snow has masterfully remixed tracks for Passion Pit, Vampire Weekend, Depeche Mode, and I Blame Coco just to name a few. More impressively the trio’s original tracks have been remixed by an even greater slew of bands such as Dubstep artists Netsky and Emalkay, as well as Caspa, Tiga, Fake Blood, George Mathews, Dj Mehdi and Benny Blanco. And the best part? All of this publicity was garnered from their only full-length release to date– 2009’s self-titled Miike Snow.

In 2010 the trio released a number of singles including “Billie Holiday”, “The Rabbit”, and “Remedy” which was collaboration with dance music mavens, the Crookers. In addition, their newest track, “Devil’s Work”, was released just this month to rave reviews and will be featured on their Sophomore effort, Happy To You, scheduled for release in March of 2012.

So get on it kiddies! You know you want to play in the snow!

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Monday January 9th, 2012 18:54 What’s A Girl To Do?

By Mikala Hughes

Described as “folk-tronica”, “Indie pop”, and “alternative rock”– no description does singer-songwriter Natasha Khan as much justice as the simple statement, “dream pop.”

A dabbler of several instruments including guitar, bass, piano, harpsichord and the autoharp, Khan was born in London on October 25th, 1979 to a Pakistani father (a former professional squash player) and an English mother. After enduring years of racism, teasing and torture in school, bailing out on classes to spin Nirvana records, and being quite fed up with doing both, Khan embarked on a 3 month trip through America and Mexico with her boyfriend at the time that would alter the course of her life thereafter. Upon returning home with a completely new outlook on life, she went to school at Britain’s Brighton University and obtained a degree in music and visual arts, snagged a job as a nursery school teacher after graduating, and began writing the material for her first album, Fur and Gold, which came out in 2006.

Better known for her stage name, Bat For Lashes, Khan has been on a roll ever since. A truly unique artistic visionary, there isn’t a single aspect of her work that her creative spark hasn’t touched–from her costumes, to her stage sets, to the music video’s she’s produced for her tracks–everything about her pulls you in like a dream and leaves you breathless in its hazy wake. And much like the legendary Lady Gaga, her attire and garish costumes are all a part of her commanding stage presence.

Her first album, Fur and Gold, was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize and that same year, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) awarded her with the prestigious Vanguard Award. She was the opening act for Radiohead‘s tour in 2008, which enabled her to travel to the Joshua Tree Desert in California to garner inspiration for her second album, Two Suns, which was released in 2009, and featured her desert-born alter ego Pearl. (The song “Pearl’s Dream”, by the way, contains one of the braver artistic visions I’ve seen in a while; sporting synthetic hair that turns into wing-like sleeves, she’s really throwing caution to the wind and spitting in the faces of all who’d ever spit in hers. Gotta love a girl with no fear.)

For Two Suns she collaborated with Brooklyn artist Yeasayer on beats and bass programming, and after hitting number five on the UK Albums Chart, was certified Gold by the BPI for sales of 100,000 copies. Off the album, the song titled “Daniel” was swiftly one of my favorites, which is why it came as no surprise when I discovered that it was her first song to really become a hit; the video for the song is absolutely beautiful as well.

Her voice is deep and breathy, delicate yet strong, and with lyrics as haunting as they are, she’s quickly risen to the top of the indie scene with graceful ease. By the time she was gaining steam on her third album, she’d collaborated with Beck on the song “Let’s Get Lost”, which was released on the soundtrack to the film The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, toured with Coldplay in South America, and began releasing material (“Wild Is The Wind” and “Sleep Alone”) to raise awareness for the protection and empowerment of women in Congo, inspiring thousands the world over to lend support for peace in the war stricken nation.

In 2011, Natasha Khan covered Depeche Mode‘s “Strangelove” on the suggestion of Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini. The song was eventually used for Gucci’s advertising campaign for their new fragrance Guilty For Him.

For all her quirks, and for all her innovative novelties, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of her third album, the date of which remains undisclosed. She’s fiery and passionate, rebellious and empowered, and although not for everyone, I love her.

Step into the forest and try not to lose your grip on reality; it’s easier to do than you think. Check out some of the videos for her live performances, (“Prescilla” is a good place to start) which are absolutely amazing! I love an artist whose voice sounds the same live as it does on the albums. What you see is what you get; it doesn’t get much better than that.

 

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