We could all use a healthy dose of indie pop music every once in awhile — something with pristinely produced hooks, soaring instrumentation or youthful, anthemic vocals (or all three). This is the speciality of Bergen, Norway-based record label, Brilliance Records, who Marmoset is thrilled to partner with to make even more awesome music available for licensing.
From artists like the Welch composer, Novo Amor, making Bon Iver- reminiscent, delicate-yet-powerful indie rock, to the unconventional pop structures of Philco Fiction and Bloody Beach’s “tropidelica,” Brilliance has cultivated a wealth of incredible emerging artists with sounds all their own.
Some days, waking up is hard to do. Blaring alarm clocks, bright lights, and the promise of another late night soaking in local shows can be enough to make anyone want to press snooze and sleep for another 5 minutes...or 30. Luckily, this week we found a solution in the form of the sweeping ambient soundscapes crafted by Dobsy, on his newest release, Wake.
Floating along on imaginative synth melodies, steady beats and hazy electric guitar notes, the album itself is like a gentle awakening — capturing the feeling of wonder while taking a brisk cold walk at night with beautiful city lights in the distance, driving through the desert after the first rain in a while, or just starting anew.
“Wake comes from a season and place of realization of the important things in life and becoming alive in the pursuit of dreams and passions,” Dobsy says of the album's release. “It is the awareness of new things; Realizing and moving on from the fraudulent staleness that surrounds us.”
Evoking imagery of nature and beauty, Wake will leave you feeling relaxed, inspired and ready to take on the day (or week, or month, or year…). Listen to the full album here and check out Dobsy’s full discography below.
Add a little pep to your step with our “Swagger + Strut” mixtape, a mix of vintage and modern jams heavy on big bass lines, bursts of bright horns and driving beats. Curated by our A&R Team, these songs are sure to add a boost of confidence, energy and brightness to any scenario, whether it be through marching band drumlines, mellow electronic soundscapes or rollicking vintage shuffles.
There are a few things that are clear after talking with LA-based soul singer, Raquel Rodriguez — she is dedicated to spreading a message of love through her music. And also, she loves her cat.
Rodriguez — who studied jazz theory in college at University of South California before pursuing music more full-time — cites inspirations for her eclectic, brassy, joyous soul and R&B music as Prince, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Etta James (to name a few). You can see those influences translated into her live performances, where she delivers powerhouse performs on the regular.
You might’ve seen her on tour last year contributing back up vocals to Anderson .Paak’s “Malibu” tour, or heard her on his 2013 album, Cover Art, but Rodriguez has been crafting music of her own for years and released her latest EP, The 310, last year after building a studio in her backyard to record it in.
We caught up with Rodriguez in between touring around the country with two bands (a west coast band and an east coast band) and cleaning up cat hair from around her house to talk about the making of The 310, watching Prince perform and the closest thing to real magic.
What's something you learned during the production of The 310?
Honestly, I learned a lot about myself. I'm about to have a big birthday, and I think while recording this EP, I was going through a lot of life changes. I definitely learned a lot more about myself and answered some questions that I've been asking myself for years. So, it feels good to see progress from one step in my life to the next. It hurts — changing is always difficult, but it's necessary. I think that recording those specific songs helped me realize certain parts of myself, and I think that's why the record is just so different from song to song — because that's how I am. I'm always changing and I'm always doing different things, but, you know...I feel like I sort of settled into who I really am now.
Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
I've recently taken up videography and a little bit of photography. I really enjoy shooting other bands and other artists that come into my studio, because it allows me to capture them in a way that I'm not used to being able to do with myself. I get to move around and I also get to hear the bands before they release any of their new music. It's pretty sweet because I usually edit my own videos, but now that I started taking up just filming them myself, I'm able to do the whole video on my own, which has been pretty cool. It's nice to step away from just singing all the time. And then, going behind the lens and seeing other people sing and learning from all my friends that come in here and record — they're all so amazing. I get to learn from what they do best.
Can you name a time when music made an impact on you?
I think, maybe just because we played in Minneapolis, I have Prince on my mind a lot. I remember going to the Forum in Los Angeles, when it was reopened, and Prince was having these, “20 nights for $20,” And, I got tickets to go see him, and I was always a Prince fan before — like, I loved Prince's music — but I think once I finally saw him and his band, it was a game changer for me. From that point on, I understood more about putting on a show and performing, rather than just singing at a concert.
That really, really made me step my game up just a little bit more. They were such an amazing and talented and tight — such a tight band — that it really made me understand the difference between playing music, and then putting on a show.
With that in mind, what's something, when you do put on a show, that you hope audiences walks away with?
I think the one message that I really try to convey in my set — and I talk about this a lot during my shows — is that we all just need to do a better job of loving and supporting one another. I've written songs about it. I put one on The 310 called “Before It's Too Late,” and it talks about how regardless of anyone's opinions of each other, and anyone's different beliefs and whatever, we all need to be able to listen and talk and communicate and really try to understand each other, rather than fighting with each other. Whether you're right or you're wrong, it doesn't matter. We all just need to really, really make more of an effort to love each other. I know it's not easy to just love some random person, but you have to try to feel compassionate towards them, and understand that they're going through a different thing than you are, and everybody's so different.
What's the closest thing to real magic?
This is going to be super cheesy, but just love...like, over the course of the last month, I've been just traveling with my boyfriend, even with our cat, and there are moments where I'm sitting on the airplane and I hate that I'm stuck in the middle seat with all these things surrounding me, and then I think, like, you just were in France and Italy, and you're staying in a castle, and you just did all of these all of these awesome festivals and shows, and you're with the person that you love the most, and the cat that makes you so happy. And you get this feeling inside, and you have no idea where it comes from, but it just is, like, “I'm the luckiest person in the world right now.” I feel like that's magic, because nothing around me changed, but all of a sudden I changed.
You tour with Anderson .Paak. How did that come to be and will you continue with other artists, to tour with them, after part two of The 310 is released?
Yeah. So, for Anderson .Paak, that's like a whole story in itself. I've actually known him for almost 12 years, or something crazy like that, and I met him a long, long, long time ago, because he had opened for this girl named Teedra Moses. At the time, his name was Breezy Lovejoy. I thought he was awesome, so I introduced myself and told him who I was, and we kept in contact. He started working with this group called Knocksteady, who I was also working with. So, we had reconnected then, and then just kept in touch while we worked on the George Watsky album. He called me to sing a few things on that, because he produced it.
And then he just started blowing up, and he called a bunch of girls and was like, "Look, we want background singers and we're going to do Coachella and just a few shows with some singers, and we thought about you. Not sure if this is your thing, because you have your own solo project." And I was like, "No. I'm so down. I will definitely sing with you whenever you want me to." And so, we did all the late night shows, like with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Coachella and stuff like that, and it was awesome. That was for about six months or something. Then, I wanted to start working on my own thing again, so we stopped singing with them. But, I would definitely sing with them again in the future.
Well, cool. That's about everything we have on our end. Is there anything else that you wanted to add, or think we might have missed?
Well, we are releasing a part two to The 310. So, I'm working on that right now, hopefully that'll be announced sort of soon. We've been on the road for so long, being back home is crazy right now. I'm just...so much cat hair everywhere, and I'm just cleaning. I can't even think about music yet.
We’re excited to hear it when it comes out.
Oh, thank you. I'm actually trying to write another song right now for it, just relating to my message that I try to convey to people at shows. I feel so heartbroken about especially Charlottesville right now. Just all of these awful, awful things, and awful racism that's going on right now. I feel like my only way to express myself is through a song. That's all I'm thinking about is, when I do start working on music, the second that I start, it's going to be dedicated to something like that.
Riley Hooper likes finding real stories that feel like fiction. From talking with the world’s oldest mime, to a 90-year-old downhill skier or a blind swimmer with a fear of water — just to start — Hooper’s documentary work possesses an earnest charm and authenticity that leaves us grinning at our desks whenever she premieres a new project.
This style of observational filmmaking has been a long time coming for Hooper. Growing up making stop motion videos and playing around with cameras, she says she was always interested in filmmaking. After college she decided to pursue it as a career, and took an internship with Maysles Films in New York City.
The rest has been history — quirky, inspiring, fascinating history caught on film and shared with the masses through places like The New Yorker, National Geographic, BANFF Mountain Film Festival, Hot Docs and Vimeo Staff Picks.
Blown away by her most recent short documentary, “Why Not Now: Vivian Stancil”, we caught up with Hooper to gain some insight into how she finds her stories, her collaboration with friend and composer, Zubin Hensler and her gemstone collection.
What makes a film great to you? Is there a certain quality or a certain group of qualities that kind of set something apart from others?
In terms of the documentary, I love when it feels like fiction. It's kind of funny because I love documentary and I'm not as much of a fiction fan — but then, I like documentaries that feel like fiction. Just a story that you couldn't have made up. A story that is that much more interesting because it's real. And also I love documentaries that are story-driven and hybrid style and beautifully shot and just kind of feel more like a fiction film.
Ultimately what's important to me is that a film has a lot of heart behind it. I love it when you know that the filmmaker behind the film cared about their subjects or put a lot of heart and compassion into the making of the film.
How do you find the stories that you tell? Is there a moment when you know, “this is the story that I'm going to do my next piece on?”
That moment is just this feeling of excitement to either meet or learn about or research this really interesting person who you're like, “I can't even believe this story is real or this person is real.” For example, when I discovered the 90 year old that I made a film about, that was through a Vimeo support email during my days of working at Vimeo. And so, we just went back and forth — I was helping him delete videos off his account, but then I started looking at all of his videos and I saw that he was 90 and skis and shot these amazing videos and had this really vibrant life. I still remember feeling so excited watching every single video in his Vimeo account. Just being like, “I need to use these videos in something and I need to make something about this guy, because he's amazing.”
What is something you learned during your most recent project that you worked on?
The one about Vivian? That was the biggest production that I've been a part of, because up until recently I've just made films all on my own. Maybe with a few other people, but usually it's just a one-woman operation. But lately, for the branded content that I've been doing, I work with a producer, and a DP, and a gaffer, and a sound person. And so that's been just a natural learning curve, of learning to expand my production and collaborate with a team.
For the piece on Vivian we assembled an all female crew, so that was interesting. Not so much in that it was different for me, because I haven't work on big movie sets before, but all of the women that I worked with were like, "This is so refreshing, to work with an all female crew." Because certain dynamics in a mostly male crew — they just weren't present on our set. And that was really cool to learn from them — what their experience has been like, and how this is different. I think because there's such an imbalance between men and women in the industry still, it's really cool as a director, or a producer, to be able to create that work environment for women in the industry.
Is that something that you noticed changing within the industry?
I think so. I mean, I think that there's definitely a lot more attention lately being put on this gender imbalance in filmmaking and there are more opportunities for women — or just more people paying attention to it — which is definitely the first step. By no means is the issue fixed, but I think that just calling attention to it is the first step. If feels like there's a real acknowledgement of the problem and that's important.
When you select music to go with your film, do you have a guiding principle or something that you're looking for out of the music? What is that process usually like for you in picking a song to go with it?
Usually, one just feels right. It'll match up with what someone's saying or you layer it with the footage and suddenly you're like, “Oh, this is it.” And there's no way of knowing until you pair them together. But lately — for the last two projects — I've worked with a friend who's an amazing musician, his name is Zubin Hensler.
He has done custom scores for me for the mime film [“The World’s Oldest Mime”] and for "Why Not Now." The process has been really amazing, because I know nothing about music, so it was cool to really collaborate. When we talk about the score I end up using really weird words or making funny sounds because I don't have a musician's vocabulary, but it works. For the film on Vivian I told him I wanted underwater gospel music. And, he was like, "Oh, yeah, totally." I was like, "I don't even know what that means, but I love that you do." So, weird things like that happen. I sort of muster up what I can to convey an idea or a feeling or a sound and he runs with it.
What’s the strangest thing you would find on your desk or in your workspace?
I have a good collection of gemstones from when I worked at Vimeo, because my boss there was really into gemstones. He would get them for us sometimes, and my going away present was this gem stone heart that everyone on the team blessed with their good energy, or something like that. I've got a nice collection to keep the creative juices flowing.
What is your favorite part about being a filmmaker?
I love that I can use film as an excuse to meet interesting people or go cool places or just learn about something that I'm interested in. I love people and I love meeting new people and that's why I'm a documentary filmmaker, but I'm not naturally the type of person who just goes up to anyone and starts a conversation. So, it's filmmaking that gives me agency to be able to do that. I love when someone comes and starts a conversation with me. I'll totally engage with them, but I'm not the type of person who would just talk to the person sitting next to me on the airplane. But if I had to make a film about the people I sit next to on airplanes, then I would feel totally fine and confident in doing that. So filmmaking definitely gives me a sense of agency and confidence and an excuse to pursue things I'm interested in.