The sonic underground of new age shoegaze is often rendered through its promise of liminal spaces, where the idea of eternal youth concedes to the creation of an alternate plane of existence. In these spaces, ephemeral vocal hues translate into fading moments and the concept of time becomes less clear. But what happens when a group prefers to live intuitively through each and every present moment of such a liminal space? You get untitled (halo).
Prior to the formation of the group, the trio by way of LA knew each other only from their respective music communities in the area, through DJing parties and working the door at friends' gigs. It wasn’t until November of 2022 that Jay and Ari came together to record their first demo. What began as an impromptu recording session between the two resulted in the initial take of their debut track “El Prado Freestyle.”
From that point on the group describes their alchemy as one that felt organic. “Right after that we worked on the beginning of ‘Oblique Butterfly’ and I think we both realized we had a real connection—and we both immediately knew we wanted to get our friend Jack involved, it made sense,” Ari says.
“We aren’t very conventional. We aren’t classically trained either," she continues. "Everything stems from us just being invested and interested in art. We’ve embraced creating songs that have weird structures, or are just loops, or are these cathartic jams. We aren’t following any guidelines, so I think that allows everything we do with untitled (halo) to feel really authentic to who we are as individuals”
Seven months after their debut single, the trio released their first EP Towncryer, a brief yet textural project shrouded in the fragility of young adulthood. Inspired by a variety of sounds and styles, the six-track project is an ambient nod towards ethereal grunge, where spiraling guitars swirl around dissolving bass lines and whispers of vocals float just above the distorted synths, like mere anecdotes to themes of overwhelming emotions and growing pains.
“I think we’re all fascinated by love, isolation, lonerism, existentialism, so a lot of songs find truth in these themes,” Ari explains. Augmented by each other's strengths, the group is most enthralling when tapping into their mutual yet individually experienced emotions. “When we make songs we let someone create their own lyrics and say what they want, and it often becomes something we all feel.” For untitled (halo), it's not about creating alternate planes or experimental bouts of the unknown, but archiving emotional experiences that become universal through an intentional transparency.
“Everything is so fleeting—but it’s time-stamped through whatever feeling you felt at the time, when you created or responded to something that moved you. To capture these moments is to acknowledge the ephemeral and screenshot it in our own way to make sense of the remembrance without having the memory haunt you forever. I listen to our own music in a way I’m already nostalgic about,” Jay says.
The band's seemingly effortless ability to capture a world that feels familiar while eerily foreign to its listeners is part of the reason for their instant notoriety. Now coming off of their debut EP, the trio isn’t forcing anything—they're going to keep creating with their friends (including urika’s bedroom who produced Limewire” and “Xiua” on the EP) and appreciating anyone who connects with the songs. “I had a friend say ‘Oblique Butterfly’ was the deepest she cried to a song in years” Ari adds. “I think that's the point of us making music in a lot of ways, for ourselves and for others.”—Sundhya Alter
Lil Yachty has been on a legacy-securing run this year, but during his squad’s Concrete Cypher for On The Radar Radio in October, his new signee Karrahbooo stole the show. And she did it without sounding like she was even trying.
And maybe she wasn’t—Karrahbooo has shared that she didn’t want to be a rapper until recently. Just a year ago, she was working as Yachty’s assistant and her goal was to become an actress. She saw Yachty getting gigs in voice acting, and realized that she, too, could use rap as a way to open up other doors.
But for now, the Atlanta up-and-comer is just getting started in music and she hasn’t missed yet. Her nonchalant style, natural humor, and observational punchlines are an addictive combination. Across the five songs on DSPs plus the Concrete Cypher, Karrahbooo has already established herself as one of the most intriguing and fast-rising newcomers in hip-hop. With the support of her crew, the backing of Lil Yachty’s label Concrete Boys, and a growing presence online, she’s in position to see a major breakthrough—that is, if she wants to.
On one hand, the rise of Karrahbooo might be frustrating for rappers who have worked their whole life to be in a position like this. But part of the reason so many artists don’t connect is because they get desperate, and at a certain point the only option is to sell out, copy others, or go overboard with social media stunts and schemes for attention. Part of what makes Karrahbooo so captivating is how natural it all feels so far. From the delivery and lyrics to the way she carries herself, there’s a down-to-earth nature that makes her an enigma in an era of entertainment where everyone else seems to be trying so hard to be something they aren’t.—Jacob Moore
Even if you haven’t heard about Ovrkast. as a solo act yet, it’s likely that you have heard his work with other artists. Whether it was his production on FEET OF CLAY by Earl Sweatshirt, his feature on learn 2 swim by redveil, or his recent co-production with Lil Yachty on “Red Button” and “The Shoe Fits” from Drake’s For All The Dawgs Scary Hours Edition, it is clear that Ovrkast. has put in his ten thousand hours and is reaping the benefits.
Not only is he able to create magic producing for other artists, but he has also been evolving his own solo music. Ovrkast.’s latest EP RESET!, released in August, is a concise six songs of confident deliveries, memorable bars (“I could use this beat in seven years and it’ll still be hot,” he raps on “Seamless.”), and stellar production.
When asked about the artists who influenced his style, Ovrkast. says, “First off in production, Knxwledge – I grew up listening to his beats. Those old beat tapes were the score to my adolescence. Madlib and Dilla too, of course. Their attention to detail has always inspired me. For rapping, most recently it’s been artists like Mach-Hommy and my brothers Mavi and Demahjiae.”
It’s clear that his trajectory has been on a steady ascent for years now, and he reflects on his journey in a way that is just as self-assured as the bars we hear on RESET!. “Honestly it all makes sense to me. I knew I’d be doing these types of things one day, but the overwhelming support makes it so much more worth it. The fans keep me grounded and the Drake collab is a win for everyone.”
We are in the midst of one of the breakout moments of the rising 23-year-old’s career, and he promises there is a lot of music in the vault and more songs on the way.—Riley Furey
“When life gives us lemons, we just take in the essence (...) leave the sourness behind.” These are the words spoken by Pa Salieu at the beginning of “Honda” off of FKA twigs' project Caprisongs. A twist on the age old saying, it feels more authentic to the nature of the sentiment. If you think about it, in many ways, artists are constantly interacting with this proverb while simultaneously sharing the fruits of their emotional labor with their fans. One of the latest artists to apply her talents and prowess to this vulnerable practice is LIA LIA.
Using music as an artistic medium has always felt somewhat instinctual to Lia. Elabotarting on her intuitive relationship with the medium she explains, “Both of my parents are painters and my mom sang while she pushed me out of her womb. Since then it’s been my favorite form of communication.” While she can easily pinpoint some of her musical icons—Radiohead, The Prodigy, and Lana Del Rey—her relationship with the musical landscape is one of a person speaking their native tongue, virtually boundless. Turning a blind eye to categories, she prefers not to depend on genres, but rather the feelings that lie in the ether: “I care more about what feels authentic to the song, me, and the moment.”
Ethereal and cathartic, Lia's latest EP Angst is bordered by the contextual frame of anxiety, not any specific sound or genre. A product of the anxiety and existentialism exacerbated by a history of illness and general loneliness, Angst is the essence extracted from her proverbial lemons. “I felt so vulnerable and sad… so the only choice I had was to find strength in that, strength in my vulnerability, and strength to exist and to be unapologetically me.”
Adorned by eerily atmospheric tracks like the opener “I ride my bike,” all encompassing anthems like “Angst,” and starry deep cuts like “13,” Angst is a wholly raw representation of LIA LIA’s musical brilliance.—Olive Soki-Kavwahirehi
As digital advances continue to reconstruct how we interact with and imagine the world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain any semblance of ambiguity. Some artists however, have found a way to resist the temptation to overshare on social media, and remain more enigmatic.
FELIX! is someone who’s always been shrouded in mystery. Formerly known as Lord Felix, the Brockton, Massachusetts native used to pop up in random pockets of the area’s creative scene with a mirrored visor that covered half of his face—appearing to others as a futuristic figure who’d traveled back in time for a visit.
After initially establishing his identity as a prominent figure within Van Buren Records, a cohort of artists who are collectively some of Massachusetts foremost talents, FELIX! has now relocated to Los Angeles and is rubbing shoulders with some of the music industry’s best. Following his recent appearance on Brent Faiyaz’ “Upset” alongside Tommy Richman, he’s ready to seize the moment and capture the attention of the masses with his unconventional, alternative hip-hop.
“Since "Upset" dropped, it's kind of like I was thrown into a whole different universe,” FELIX! tells us. “I can’t even explain it. But at the same time it all kind of feels the same because–not even tryna brag–I’ve been that guy for a minute. The stakes are just way higher now.”
In an effort to keep the ball rolling, FELIX! recently shared a two-pack of songs under the name PLEASE DON’T STEAL MY CLOTHES, with both singles sounding like the sonic output of placing Miami Bass, British punk, and Yves Saint Laurent archives into a blender. “PARIS FASHION WEEK” is fully-equipped with one-off fashion references, braggadocious anecdotes, and a unique delivery.
“PLAYBOY” is a more down-tempo, seductive cut that’s rooted in FELIX!’s late night (or early morning) rendezvous in LA. A brilliant example of the versatility that’s at the core of his artistry, the smoky, hazy sonic structures of this single highlight his compelling vision.
Whether viewed through the lens of his music, his taste in fashion, or his capabilities as a graphic designer (noted by his hand-crafted cover art), FELIX! takes pride in bringing his visions to life.—Shamus Hill
The email started: Jack is an independent singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who currently lives in an RV in the Texas countryside where he writes/records music, and earns a living working on a local ranch.
My interest immediately piqued, I started to imagine what kind of lo-fi folk music or outsider Americana this artist could be making, alone in his RV after a hard day's work in the sun. Then I hit play on "Steep" and things went in a different direction. Glittering synths, pop-ready melodies, and bouny programmed drums drive the song forward and sit in contrast to lyrics that are more reflective and ambiguous.
Jack's other released song "Bad Parts," and the rest of the EP that he has planned for next year, live in the same world, mixing upbeat production with thoughtful writing. As he explains, "I grew up listening to guitar-led Americana, but I was exposed to the breakbeat, synth, and electronic sounds later in life through my partner—she definitely served as inspiration to incorporate those sounds into my music. I also love contrast in music and love incorporating it into my own music—contrasting sonics, contrasting emotions, contrasting lyrics."
"The EP [coming next year] is called Bad Parts and I love it! I had a lot of songs to choose from for this first project, but I selected these four because they truly best represent who I am as an artist and how I want to introduce myself with a debut project," Jack explains. "These songs are equally cute, bright, and happy as they are dark, sad, and ugly. You can see and hear that contrast in everything I do—the music, the visuals, the branding… and I’m just really excited to put everything out into the world."
With a backdrop of classic songwriting and an ear for surprising combinations, Jack Boyd's debut is an impressive marker of things to come.—Alex Gardner