DNDR “Shines a Little Light” On Our Minds

By Rhiannon Levengood

In order to fully experience DNDR’s debut single “Shine a Little Light On Your Own Mind”, you gotta close your eyes and do a little imaginative thinking. The song fades in, opening your mind and planting your feet on the solid, grassy ground of a music festival. You can feel the crowd swaying around you, the bass drum in your toes, and the excitement in the stale air. The opening verse is relaxing, but builds as it transitions into a dancy pre-chorus, and finally a chorus that’s followed by a music break, during which the ground rumbles under your feet as the sea of people around you allow the song to move them physically, and emotionally.

As “Shine a Little Light” progresses, undulating back and forth between a mellow vibe to a vivacious one, you’re left feeling one way: carefree.

DNDR is an electronic band comprised of two dudes, Ola Palsson and Ludwig Jonsson, who uprooted their lives in their home country of Sweden and moved to Los Angeles to pursue their music careers. It was there, in Southern California, when their paths finally intersected. With the combination of Jonsson’s synthesized productions and Palsson’s ethereal vocals, DNDR creates a mesmerizing sound that’s uniquely their own.

Make sure to follow DNDR on Instagram so you don’t miss out on their upcoming singles and EP this Fall, and check out our interview with the guys below!

What/who inspired “Shine a Little Light On Your Own Mind”? What/who inspired your upcoming EP as a whole? Do you have a title for your EP yet?
Ludwig: The title for the EP is All We Know and aside from being a sexy combination of words we both felt it was the perfect description of our decision to follow our passion and never stop making music.

Ola: This is the second song we ever wrote together and I would say that the incredible joy and energy that came out of the first song we did is mainly what inspired “Shine a Little Light”. To be completely honest, the ease and positivity that has been a guiding light for this whole process is crazy inspiring in itself. There has been no struggle in writing this EP. I truly believe that when something comes into your life and just works out this easily, it’s meant to be.

How has the reception of “Shine a Little Light” been since the debut on Friday? How are you two feeling about it? How does Aya feel about it?
Ludwig: It’s been amazing!! In between releases, you kind of forget this feeling and this release was a great reminder of how awesome it is to finish something that started in your head, then feel all kinds of doubt and then feel awesome again from people’s love and positive feedback. Aya is living the dream. You have to confirm with Ola but I’m pretty sure Aya booked a one way to Vegas on the day of the release.

Ola: Absolutely beautiful! I agree with Ludwig about that, you forget in between how amazing it feels to finally let something out that you’ve poured so much energy and love into. Haha, Aya loves it. Dances to it 🙂

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How would you describe your writing process? Do you two work together always, or do you sometimes bring something new to the table that needs the other components that go into your songs?
Ludwig: I would describe it as very transparent and totally removed from egos. We are not always in the same room (ideally we are) but we always write together. It starts with anything from a more complex idea to a simple one, and then we just go back and forth until it’s a finished song that we love.

Ola: Yeah, that was something we agreed on right away, that ego or weird agreements with no real base in reality had no place in this project.

What have you learned about yourself as a musician since beginning DNDR?
Ludwig: I’ve learned about the insane joy of collaboration. Before, I would beat myself up for months over something not being “perfect” and a lot of times, I would end up not finishing things because I put too much pressure on myself. With DNDR, we throw everything from crappy two second voice memos to full productions to each other and that lack of fear of sharing has helped me grow so much as not only a musician but also a person. I tend to get stuck in detail a lot but, when you have someone else who’s dependent on you, you have to move forward to respect the time and energy that person puts into it.

Ola: That just because you came up with an idea doesn’t make it good 🙂 And that listening to someone else’s opinion and talking about why something would or would not work out, pretty much always ends up improving what you’re working on.

What is your favorite aspect about working on this new project together? Does it differ from your previous projects?
Ludwig: Definitely the collaboration. I also love the combination of our musical backgrounds. We both gravitate towards the same feeling and melodies in music but, I feel like it’s been some sort of a musical rebirth for both of us to work with someone that normally makes music very different from your own. Some of my favorite bands are The Strokes, Band of Horses, and Kings of Leon. There’s always been a side of me that wanted to be in a project like that, so although our sound isn’t anything like theirs, working with Ola has in some ways bridged that gap and that’s been seriously amazing.

Ola: I come from a more instrument-based writing and recording structure, so DNDR and working with Ludwig feels like a breeze of fresh air to me.

What has been the most challenging aspect so far in regards to DNDR?
Ludwig: Balancing life, time difference, and not being able to sit in the same studio. There’s just a certain energy you get from being in the same room when you create. Not having that whenever we want has definitely not been ideal BUT, we’ve still managed to make songs we fuckin’ love so it’s not the end of the world, and we know those circumstances will change soon.

Ola: Same, juggling life, time zones, and not writing while in the same room. But it’s not an issue, the songs just keep coming!!

When can we expect All We Know?
Ludwig: 100% Ludwig and Ola. With that comes a lot of emotion, energy and love. Oh, I thought it said “what can we expect”. Fall 2018.

Ola: We have few more singles coming so not too far into the future.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? What advice would you pass along to other aspiring artists?
Ludwig: Do what makes you happy.
Ola: That and don’t make assumptions! Which is really hard, by the way. 🙂

Which artist would you two most like to tour with?
Ludwig: It would be insanely freggin awesome to go on tour with LCD Soundsystem or M83. I also think hanging out with Mac Demarco would be a joy.

Ola: I mean LCD would be pretty incredible, also Goat!

One of my favorite book series is the crime series Wallander by Henning Mankell and I tend to recommend it to every single person I meet. Do you have a favorite book that’s dear to you? I’m mostly looking for something new to read.
Ludwig: I don’t know why (or I do, my head goes places) but whenever I read books I tend to always leave the last chapter unread. Pretty stupid, I know. That also happened with The Magic of Thinking Big [by David J. Schwartz]. I seriously love that book as it goes well with what I believe in but, I still have the last chapter left. I kind of want to keep it that way until I’ve fulfilled some of my goals in life. Other than that, I mostly read biographies and one of the first ones I ever read was The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band [by Mötley Crüe]. I often wake up feeling far from ideal after drinking, wondering what the hell happened last night, but that Mötley Crüe shit was wild.

Ola: I actually really like Wallander too, AND it takes place pretty much where I grew up in Sweden. I also really enjoyed the Lars Kepler series about Joona Linna.

Waffles or pancakes? We ask everybody ;D
Ludwig: Waffles and then severe stomach pain. ❤
Ola: Oh, definitely both, Swedish waffles and Swedish pancakes with whipped cream and jam. Oh, I miss it so much.

Panic! at the Disco Lights Up MSG

By Paula Araujo

Panic! at the Disco rocked a sold out Madison Square Garden in NYC on Tuesday July 24, 2018. Their new album Pray For The Wicked was released earlier this summer and fans were treated to an eclectic show with 27 songs ranging their entire discography, a few covers and vibrant visuals. Fans weren’t the only ones in attendance enjoying the show, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz was spotted as well as frontman Brendon Urie’s former Kinky Boots cast mates, Taylor Louderman and J. Harrison Ghee who joined him on stage for a cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. The theatrics didn’t stop there, Brendon got up close and personal during “Death of a Bachelor” as he walked from the stage through the main floor to reach the piano which would then elevate him over the crowd and back to the stage as he sang “Dying in LA”. The show closed out with both new and old fan favorites, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and “Victorious,” which clearly, they are.

This show is not one to miss and its just the first leg of the tour. For dates, click here.


lovelytheband’s “finding it hard to smile”: unedited review

By Rhiannon Levengood

Lovelytheband has a very explicit way of using their music and lyrics to portray the day-to-day struggles of battling depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, and how that can affect relationships and everyday life. The trio’s debut album finding it hard to smile as a whole embodies the hold that mental disorders have on your life, your social interactions, and your productivity. So, in the spirit of having no energy to get out of bed, combating anxiety-induced writer’s block, and tackling a complete lack of motivation to create something beautiful enough to do this record justice, I present you with my unedited notes.

finding it hard to smile – lovelytheband

finding it hard to smile (prelude):
The vibe is mystical and serene. Almost hypnotizing in how meditative it is. I’m really enjoying it already. The build toward the end of this prelude transitions well into the first song.

pity party:
The guitar riff in the beginning is so mellow and feels like it doesn’t completely reach my ears. The vocals remind me of a song that’s popular on the radio but idk what it is yet, so I’ll figure it out. The vibe is really…upbeat and feel good, even when the lyrics aren’t entirely the same way. the song explains depression and anxiety, and how it affects someone’s social life. The first verse talks about how hard it is to find the energy to get out of bed and go out when you’re overcome with anxiety. The chorus itself reminds me of “Fake Happy” by Paramore in that they put on a fake smile when out partying with friends. Verse 2 goes on to explain how this person copes with their mental illness by treating themselves to things that make them happy. They even explain how being on their phone, connected to a world outside their own, makes them feel less lonely. This song is 100% relatable. Definitely sounds like a song that would be played on the radio.

make you feel pretty:
This song is SO FUCKING CATCHY. So basically, it’s telling the story of a girl who’s trying to make it famous in LA. She’s part of the drug scene and this guy is head over heels, trying to make her feel pretty and make her feel worthy, then the guy falls into the scene by becoming addicted to the lady, and alcohol maybe?? This song is so good. I wanna dance to it and scream it with the windows rolled down. The instrumentals are so feel good. I love this song so much.

Oh. I just figured out they sound like their own band that I’ve heard on the radio. LMFAO okay so we all know this song. It’s super catchy and overplayed on the radio, but it’s a good song that’s overplayed. Like, you don’t get pissed off and change the station. You’re like yes, this song is good let me turn it up. The song is about meeting a chick at a party and comparing battle scars. They’re both broken and both lonely, and life’s fucking them up, but they have each other. The bridge sorta makes us all seem like puzzle pieces waiting to become whole with someone else. The song has a hopeful spirit to it and the synth is always good to dance to.

alone time:
Much slower than the first few songs. There’s a driving beat that’s nice. Another song about mental illness probably. So basically, they’re feeling lonely, and in a quiet, lonely world, depression tends to kick into overdrive. They want to spend this alone time with someone else because maybe depression won’t be so loud, then. There’s a little guitar solo that’s nice. It reminds me of the beach, like I wanna hear this on the shore, margarita in hand, seagulls begging for fries.

these are my friends:
This song is kind of really cute. I think it’s talking about the voices of people who have given you advice your entire life, and taught you as you’ve grown up, and now you’re remembering those little mantras from them as you navigate life, find love and company, meet people and lose people. In the second verse, I think the friends are drugs/alcohol, though. So first it’s your conscience, then it’s what you drown your conscience out with, but both coping mechanisms work for you, they are your friends.

This song is starting really mellow. Instrumentally, it sounds like a song that would be on a car commercial. Okay, so this song has a free spirit like morale. “We were young, we were beautiful” just reminds me of having the time of your life and laughing and living without thinking about tomorrow or the consequences. It reminds me of those drug/party scenes from Skins. In fact, the instrumentals remind me of the Skins theme song. I’ve never been to Coachella, but I like to think that’s how people feel during the festival. Carefree. This is such a relaxing jam. I might learn it on uke.

filling a void (interlude):
So, I listened to the entirety of this song before I typed up notes for it. It reminds me, again, of Paramore’s “Fake Happy”, but the intro verse of it. The lyrics alone are really beautiful, and describe an unrequited love. I really love how the vocals sound like they’re being played on a synthesizer, it kind of gives the message an automated vibe. Almost as if it hurts too much to sing the words yourself, you have to let a machine do it.

your whatever:
Ooh, it fades right into this song. At first, this sounds like a love song, but I think it’s a lost love song. It’s like a post breakup song. The lyrics are describing an unconditional love, telling this girl that he’ll be her whatever so long as they’re together, you know? Even if she smokes cigarettes, which he hates, he still loves her and her free spirit and the way she idolizes the 70s. The instrumentals are really simple sounding, but it complements the story really well. I love this song a lot. I think it’s my favorite so far.

maybe, i’m afraid:
This song is a little aggressive, but not in a bad way. It gives me this like…panicky feeling, like when you’re arguing with someone and you know it’s going to end badly and you don’t want it to ruin your relationship, so you’re trying to say anything that’ll make it all stop. I really love that I can truly envision the scene, a couple drunk on champagne, dancing around their living room maybe just getting home from a party. She’s singing Frank Sinatra out of tune and he’s pulling her closer because right now, all they have is love. I feel like they’re on the verge of a breakup, but nights like these happen and remind them why they’re still fighting for one another. It’s a really pretty ballad.

The instrumentals are super mellow, but also kinda funky during the verses. It’s about wanting to receive more out of a relationship that’s sort of tanking slowly. It kind of feels like a friendship more than a romantic relationship, honestly. But basically, the other person isn’t really showing interest in the relationship anymore and our singer wants more from them. I really like the guitar riffs in this song.

walk from here:
Ahh! I love this song. I love the lyrics, “I might be no good/Sweetie you’re no better/We used to be sugar/And now all I taste is bitter” just because it’s so so so relatable. When arguments happen, each side always thinks they’re better than the other, but in all honestly, we’re all horrible to one another at some point. I also really love the lines, “There’s no need to drive me crazy/Honey, I can walk from here” because it’s clever in a self-sabotaging way.

stupid mistakes:
I really enjoy the synth and beat feel of this song. I think everyone can relate to the lyrics because it tells a story of a guy who’s still in love with an ex significant other and even though they don’t want to talk to him, he calls/texts them from time to time when he’s drunk or lonely. “My brain holds too many poisons/They helped me make the wrong choices” is one of my favorite lyrics from this song just because I understand battling demons and doing the wrong thing because of them. I also really love the death imagery with the lines, “And it’s my fault that I live my life/Running away from ghosts/Too many skeletons/Too hard to keep them in the closet where they’ve been.” I love songs that have CLAP CLAP parts because they’re the most fun to sing while driving, and “stupid mistakes” has that.

make believe:
Oh oh ohohohohohoh I love this song just because it’s savage af. He’s dragging this girl he likes because she lives with her parents and doesn’t have to pay rent, and hosts pity parties for herself, and never follows through with plans. She’s basically this toxic sort of person that’s hard to love because she won’t open up. There’s a call back to the song “filling a void.” The guitar part is really dancey, giving the song a nice groovy vibe.

i like the way:
“You seem cool/I seem anxious” is a mood. This song is so catchy and feels like it should be on the radio. I’d love to see this song live, standing in a crowd that’s jumping to the beat and screaming the lyrics. It’s about having a love that is far from perfect, and hurts a lot sometimes, but is truly the best thing you’ve ever had. The two people are complete opposites, but they work so well together.

everything I could never say…to you:
This song is so serene and so sincere. It’s heartwarming in a way, too, because there’s just all this love pouring out for someone who isn’t ready for it. It hurts to lose this person, but there’s also an element of understanding, too. Again, the vocals have an echoey, synthesized sound to them, which is relaxing. This song honestly brings the record to such a wonderful and hopeful end, really.

Be sure to follow lovelytheband on Instagram and Twitter, and if you like what you hear, you can catch them on tour now!

My writing process is usually very strategic. When I sit down to write a review on a full-length album, I open Spotify, Genius.com, and a word document. I read the lyrics as I listen to the record and take notes on each song. The notes are usually sporadic and pieces of thoughts, but they are my initial reactions to each song on the record. After a much needed food break, I’ll come back to my notes, pull out common themes, and build an article that translates my impressions from a verbose mess to a cohesive, readable piece.

It sounds very easy, but sometimes I struggle to find the motivation to take that final step. I have the words in my head, I know what I want to express, but I can’t form sentences that will make sense to our readers while giving the band the well-versed recognition they deserve. My own insecurities tie into my writer’s block and create anxiety as I write a review. Sometimes, I wish I could just keyboard smash my way through a piece, using CAPS to emphasize my love for a certain lyric, and !!! when I don’t have real words to convey my excitement over a key change. Sometimes, being formal is mentally draining on an already exhausted mind, so I’ve tried something different this time. I’m publishing those chaotic notes; the unedited, uncensored, and completely raw reviews. Maybe I’m just being lazy, or maybe it’s actually creative art.