To All The Boys Emily Kinney Has Loved Before

By Rhiannon Levengood

With her third studio album Oh Jonathan, Emily Kinney introduces her fans to a brand new sound that combines her iconic indie, pop vibe with a fresh synthesized feel. The tracklist includes fan favorites like “Same Mistakes”, “Jonathan”, and “Popsicles”, three songs that any diehard Emily Kinney ‘Lover’ would know, but still delivers a record completely unheard by anyone before. Oh Jonathan exhibits Kinney’s personal and musical growth, confidence, and ongoing desire to be loved in a way that’s short, sweet, and sometimes even explicit.

Oh Jonathan begins like a regular Emily Kinney show would with her song “Same Mistakes”. It opens her journey of finding true love by telling us that the rest of these songs will be about navigating her options and making both terrible and great decisions along the way. She expertly sets the tone for the rest of her record by slowly introducing her new electronic sound with an older song, perfectly blending two vibes into one. Kinney’s gentle voice tells a love story about returning to a relationship that is most likely toxic for her. She knows that she has a man who is ideal for anyone else, but her heart really belongs to this other guy, even if it hurts to love him sometimes, which is a lesson she’ll learn time and again.

“Same Mistakes” also portrays Emily’s confidence in herself and what she wants, especially when it comes to her romantic and sexual relationships. The first track effortlessly transitions into “Mortal”, another song that uses a synthesized beat to drive it forward. It recounts a story of a blossoming love, not yet complicated, but also not going anywhere either. The two share a love that’s exciting in the beginning stages, but as it progresses, it sort of dies out. Does he love her the way she loves him? Does he feel that connection like she does? It’s that uncertainty that keeps Kinney around.

Emily’s album continues with another one of her older (finally recorded!), but one of her best written songs. “Jonathan” has a very simple guitar riff that helps you focus on the creative, metaphorical lyrics. Emily and “Jonathan” are complete opposites, but they complement each other so well that Emily feels really drawn to him. She’s a ray of sunshine, and he’s a cloudy day, but his mysterious demeanor makes him interesting and addictive. The only problem is that the love Kinney feels is unrequited, so the song ends with her hoping for “Jonathan” to make his way back to her in the future.

Oh Jonathan takes a poppier turn with “Soda Glass”, a song about a fragile kind of love. It’s another story that burns out too quickly and leaves Kinney hopelessly heartbroken. While the affair is over, she is still kind of hopeful for a restart. “Soda Glass” is a little reminiscent of Emily’s song “In” from her debut EP Blue Toothbrush with similar lyrics. For example, in “In” Kinney describes her New York City apartment:

“You helped paint the walls, but got dirt on the carpet/But I didn’t mind cause you’re all that I wanted/Ignored broken glass/Forgave each small sin/Each time you knocked, I let you in,” which directly relates to: “I got your notes on napkins/And my blood on your walls/Our soda glass love could only take so many falls.”

The same theme of feeling used and thrown away continues into “Popsicles”. This song was initially released on Kinney’s second EP Back On Love, and originally had an acoustic guitar and piano instrumental track. The percussion parts were subtle and sounded like classroom instruments, giving the song an innocent vibe. For its rerelease on Oh Jonathan, “Popsicles” was given a new production, making it more upbeat and electronic to fit in with the rest of the record. The slight change makes me believe that Emily’s feelings regarding this song have changed over the past two years. Maybe she’s not as angry or hurt as she was when she first released it, and now she’s able to reimagine its sound and put more into its production.

“Drunk and Lost” is an almost love ballad that Emily sings for a guy she meets at a party. She tries enticing him to take her home, and if it all feels wrong, they can call any advances an accident in the morning. Again, her confidence in her sexuality and her desire to feel some love is evident here.

The steady buoyant vibe of the record slows down for “Loser”, a song Emily uses to smear an ex-lover. She incessantly asks him how it feels to not be good enough for her by comparing him to her current lover, and to his own past. The lyrics are transparent and vulgar, but flawlessly execute her emotions over their relationship’s demise. She builds up her self-worth by tearing him down in a way that’s almost empowering. Another difference between this song and the rest of the album is the use of a saxophone part during the bridge, that may or may not be a message in itself to the ‘loser.’

Oh Jonathan comes to a close far too soon with Emily Kinney’s two singles “Mermaid Song” and “Boy Band Hero.” Both of these tracks have a dreamy feel to them instrumentally and carry the ever-present theme of finding love and eventually moving on from it. “Mermaid Song” in particular showcases Kinney’s independence in a relationship that isn’t really going the way she wants it to, while “Boy Band Hero” reminds us that she’s always dreaming of falling in love.

To all the boys that Emily Kinney has loved before, thank you. Your imperfections and inabilities to love as deeply as Emily has given us yet another beautifully written record.

You can check Emily out on her Same Mistakes Tour across the US this fall, and give her a follow on Twitter and Instagram.

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 🙂

View this post on Instagram

❤️ @kirasheppard

A post shared by Ola Pålsson (@olapalsson) on

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.

State Champs NYC Pop Up Shop Success

By Paula Araujo

Upon the release of their upcoming album “Living Proof” New York natives, State Champs have been promoting the new record across the country. On Saturday, June 9, they held a pop up shop in NYC. The special event featured exclusive merch, early copies of the album, and the fellas themselves. Fans were treated to tote bags and posters upon arrival. The event also included a first look at their brand new music video for “Our Time To Go.” The evening was filled with fans filtering in and out as the band hung around inside and outside the store to give hugs, take photos, sign autographs, and chat about the new record. The fans were excited and eager about the new music just as much as the band was. They band shared their sentiments about the release and collectively agreed on “Frozen” being one of their favorite tracks.

Listen to the new record out Friday June 15. Catch them in LA on Friday for another exclusive pop up or this summer on the Vans Warped Tour.