For the second-ever Pigeons & Planes compilation album See You Next Year 2, we started planning over a year ago. One of the first emails we sent was a real longshot—we reached out to a couple of friends at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La studios to let them know about the project and see if there were any ways we could work together.
Fast forward to June of 2023, and our team is at the legendary Shangri-La for over a week straight with some of our favorite artists in the world right now. We’ll get more into that later, but now that the first single is out (check out Paris Texas and Kenny Mason’s “Big Bank” here) we wanted to share a look at who else is involved.
Meet the artists on See You Next Year 2 and hear "Big Bank" below, and sign up here to get all updates and announcements (singles, events, and more) around SYNY2.
See You Next Year 2 is Pigeons & Planes' second compilation album in partnership with Big.Ass.Kids, distributed via Warner Music Group’s ADA Worldwide.
The Bay Area duo of Jody Fontaine and Baby Boy, now based in LA, released an album called F*ck Your Expectations back in 2021, and that spirit continues to run through everything they create. From high-energy bangers with NLE Choppa and A$AP Ferg to poppy ballads, grungey rock songs, and rap songs with a Bay Area bounce, AG Club does it all.
Their November three-pack We’re All Brodies finished the year with a bang, highlighting AG Club’s current confidence and reminding us how much fun it is to hear Jody and Baby Boy going back and forth with the bars. They also had a moment at Tyler, The Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw festival, pulling a huge crowd and setting things off with captivating stage presence and teasers of their upcoming project Brodie World.
AG Club might have been the most dedicated of anyone at the Shangri-La sessions, arriving early and staying late day after day. They took advantage of everything this special place had to offer, from the sunny Malibu beach to a vintage organ in the main studio. You’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more of how their SYNY sessions went very soon as we unveil the next single.
If you’re a fan of current indie music, chances are you’ve come across the artist/producer Billy Lemos. He’s worked with Omar Apollo, Still Woozy, Binki, Spill Tab, Boyish, Dua Saleh, Jackie Hayes, Hamond, Quiet Luke... the list goes on and on.
During the SYNY2 sessions at Shangri-La, it seemed like full days went by where Billy didn’t stop working. Most artists would catch inspiration in bursts, tinker with ideas, and hang around to watch what others were doing from time to time. All the while, Billy was locked in.
Maybe part of what makes Billy Lemos so prolific is the fact that nothing is off the table. At Shangri-La, Billy worked on at least one downtempo acoustic song, one spontaneous, chaotic rap song, one psychedelic jam made in the bus, and some unclassifiable music that sounds like it was made at least 10 years in the future.
You’ll hear Billy all over See You Next Year 2, but don’t be surprised if one day we leak the deluxe edition featuring 50 more Billy Lemos songs.
One look at Binki’s Instagram page tells you a lot about how he moves. The North Carolina-raised, NYC-based artist doesn’t take himself too seriously, and while a lot of artists (and pretty much all humans) are awkwardly obsessed with the curation of their personal aesthetic, Binki seems to go with the flow and do what comes naturally.
That’s how it went at Shangri-La, with Binki winning the official Pigeons & Planes Award for most chill person involved. A few key Binki scenes included talking about movies outside on the lawn (before music he wanted to be a professional actor; he might go back to that one day), reminiscing on Bob Dylan in the bus/studio (it used to act as Bob Dylan’s tour bus; Binki likes some of his stuff), and briefly falling asleep during a session in one of the bedrooms (to be fair, it was probably 1 in the morning after a 14-hour day).
By the fourth or fifth day, Binki still hadn’t landed on a song idea that he was happy with, but at some point he disappeared, linked with Billy Lemos, and the next time we saw him he had a basically finished song wrapped.
Up until now, we know Binki for a very NYC-appropriate kind of indie rock/pop—sometimes a little funky and discombobulated, sometimes more sophisticated, but almost always danceable and exhilarating. For See You Next Year 2, he came with something very different, but the drumless hook has been in our heads ever since Malibu and we can’t wait for the world to hear it.
First impressions can be misleading. Our introduction to Detroit’s Chase Plato came from two songs: “RIP Kobe” and “ICE CREAM MAN.” We figured here’s a young Detroit rapper making interesting production choices and great hooks. Turns out Chase had other plans.
Through his next releases, Chase showed willingness to veer away from all expectations, and at the beginning of 2023 he revealed his master plan to drop a classic emo album. Out of context, that might seem like a tongue-in-cheek statement, but Chase Plato is serious. Talking about his come-up as a rapper in Detroit, he explained, “I was scamming like everybody else. The difference is I was the kid trying to learn Modern Baseball songs on the guitar. I taught myself how to play guitar for this album and I taught myself all my methods.”
Even for those unfamiliar with the history of Midwest emo [raises hand], it’s clear that Chase Plato is onto something new, and his depth reaches far beyond what those first two singles showcased. In person, Chase is soft spoken and reserved but when he’s creating, he’s possessed by some powerful emo spirit. From gentle melodies and gut-wrenching lyrics to sharp guitar riffs and hostile deliveries, his music sounds like festering thoughts, memories, and pain escaping, and it’s a cathartic experience just to hear it.
Relative to many of the artists at the SYNY2 recording camp, Deb Never is a seasoned professional. We’ve been covering her music and following her evolution since 2018 when she emerged as part of the WEDIDIT family, working with producers like Shlohmo and D33J. Born to Korean parents in the Pacific Northwest, Deb started off in local grunge bands and honed in on her unique, genre-blending sound after moving to LA.
2019’s House on Wheels EP felt like a breakout moment, and since then Deb has consistently released music that finds a sweet spot between experimental energy and huge choruses while also finding time to model for big fashion brands and collaborate with the likes of Kenny Beats, Brockhampton, and Slowthai. On her latest release, 2023’s Thank You For Attending EP, Deb showed off her dynamic range yet again
Deb came through the Shangri-La sessions and immediately got to work, knocking out two very different songs during the week, while also encouraging other artists with less experience in big studios to express themselves freely.
“Growing up, I always felt a little out of place or isolated,” Deb told us at Shangri-La. “Artists and music were the only things where I felt like I could connect. And that’s something I want to be for somebody else.” Deb has already succeeded in that goal through her art, and we’re excited to add a couple more entries to her stellar catalog through SYNY2.
Houston-raised, LA-based artist, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Hamond was built for an environment like the one that developed at Shangri-La. His knowledge of music runs deep—he’s tapped into electronic music from past eras, heady jazz-infused hip-hop, and obscure innovators across genres today. He’s also a fan of gadgets and analog equipment, which was stored in every room, every closet, and every corner of each space at Rick Rubin’s legendary studios.
Mix all of that with this roster of artists and Hamond was truly in his element. Every day, we’d see him strolling across the lawn multiple times a day carrying a new piece of rare equipment from another decade, and he must have joined at least a dozen different sessions throughout the week.
Each session looked different, but in so many of them the common element was Hamond at the center of it, laying down vocals, queuing up new sounds on a contraption nobody else had ever seen, trying things out on a guitar, tweaking effects, or suggesting new ideas to the engineers.
Through his own work over the past years, including his 2022 album Pirate Radio and his recent string of singles, Hamond has shown a real care for the details in music—each song is an amalgamation of a thousand small decisions, but that precise attention to each sound, each pause, each departure from the beat all add up to something that feels alive in a way that only a human could create. So if you catch any of those magical little moments in a song from See You Next Year, just know that Hamond probably had something to do with it.
ICECOLDBISHOP can rap on literally anything. Any tempo, any style, any sound, or even no beat at all, his quicksilver delivery takes center stage. He can adjust course on a dime, with pitch changes and energy shifts taking place with apparent ease, often when you least expect it.
Since we first heard ICECOLDBISHOP in 2019, he’s been on a mission, not wasting anyone’s time with throwaway releases or superfluous features. Sometimes, we wished we could hear more from him, but his quality control meant that every release was a moment, every new song made you sit up and pay attention. Last year, ICB released his debut album GENERATIONAL CURSE, and it highlighted the fact that his skills are sharper than ever.
Going into the Shangri-La sessions, we already knew ICECOLDBISHOP could rap, but it was a real eye-opening pleasure to witness him gathered around the piano with AG Club, improvising one of the most soulful moments of SYNY2.
The experience was appreciated by BISHOP, too, who told us, “I feel more than free [at Shangri-La]. The vibes here are amazing. Everybody’s gelling, everybody’s getting to know each other. Ain’t no barriers to the art right now. Wings flapping, just seeing what happens.” He added later, with a smile, “I love being here. I can tell my kids I was recording in Bob Dylan’s bus one day.”
Music discovery is in a weird spot, but watching the disruptive rise of Junior Varsity has been a reminder that whatever rules seem to be in place are made to be stretched, bent, and broken.
Back in 2019, the California duo was selling out shows in NY and LA before they had even released music. Their extreme DIY approach was fueled by wild live shows, a community of artist friends and collaborators, and word of mouth buzz in the music world.
“I wanted people to be a part of this beyond just industry heads, because that sh*t is wack as f*ck,” JV frontman Greg explained in one of the group's first interviews. “For us, it was just like let’s build Junior Varsity as a world.”
Since then the shows have gotten more packed, the community has grown, and the music is more ambitious. Through it all, that defiant spirit is still intact, even with stadium-worthy alt rock anthems added to the growing catalog.
Nothing about Junior Varsity’s path has been ordinary, but we need more of that outside-the-box thinking in today’s landscape of formulas, algorithms, and manufactured come-ups.
Kenny Mason has been one of the most consistent artists in the game for a handful of years, but there’s some magic in catching the right artist at exactly the right moment.
The versatile Atlanta artist has already cemented himself as one of the best rappers out, and in the past years he’s showed us versatility through alternative exploration and show-stealing features alongside acts like JID, Paris Texas, and Denzel Curry. At the end of 2023 he dropped a three-song project called HIGHWAY 9 featuring some of his best work yet, and it feels like he’s on the verge of an even bigger breakthrough year in 2024.
During the recording camp for See You Next Year 2 at Shangri-La, it was clear why Kenny Mason has been leveling up while so many other new artists have come and gone. Every time he had a microphone in hand, he was on fire. Seemingly never out of ideas, things to say, and replay-worthy bars, Kenny Mason jumped from room to room at Shangri-La, sometimes laying down rock hooks, other times ripping through one-take verses over whatever beats were in front of him.
Kenny Mason is a force, and his contributions to this project capture the radiance of unbridled creativity from an artist at the top of his game.
The first time we heard Oakland-raised, LA-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist King Isis, it was on an acoustic YouTube cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” From that homemade performance video, it was evident that Isis possessed an understated, distinctive kind of star power. With their voice alone, Isis gets across so much power and emotion. On their first EP scales, that feeling is amplified through potent songwriting and guided by alternative, indie, and R&B influence.
King Isis landed a spot on our Artists To Watch in 2023 feature and followed up with a great EP and shows across the country including debuts at New York’s Afropunk and the Bay Area’s Outside Lands festival. There’s another EP on the way soon and a debut album in the works.
What was most apparent at Shangri-La, though, was another aspect of what makes King Isis so intriguing—something that was hinted at in that first YouTube cover but not obvious until you spend time with Isis: their presence. Isis is introspective and generally pretty quiet, but they move with intention and almost everyone around them is drawn in. They’re the kind of artist who makes you want to know more, but it seems like if you really want to understand Isis you have to listen to their songs.
Going into See You Next Year 2, the only thing we were thinking about is how to make the best album possible. What we realized along the way is that the process is just as important as the outcome. Working at Shangri-La for over a week was incredible because we were able to give artists a chance to create in a beautiful space, to collaborate freely, to experiment, and to make music without any pressure or expectations. Especially in today’s music industry, that’s rare.
Spending a week at Shangri-La is a privilege for any artist, but for 18-year-old Love Spells it was especially extraordinary because this was his very first studio experience. Prior to that, he’d only been recording at home. “I went from my bedroom, to my sister’s closet, to Shangri-La,” he told us. “This is an insane first studio experience.”
Love Spells brought a really unique energy to SYNY2. Throughout a handful of releases over the last couple of years, he’s established a style of his own: dreamy, delicate, and vividly youthful indie music with a timeless quality. During his time at Shangri-La, we saw him evolve in real time and heard him try things that we would have never expected.
We’ve been fans of Monte Booker for almost a decade, thanks originally to his long-standing working relationship with Smino. Monte is one of our favorite producers in music right now, but his role on See You Next Year 2 ended up being so much more vital than just a producer.
Coming into the Shangri-La sessions, all schedules, plans, and structure went out the window. Shangri-La was set up for the SYNY2 recording camp as a wide open space—artists were recording in every room, walking in and out of sessions, and coming up with new ideas continuously. Creativity was flowing all week, but the challenge was harnessing it. Enter Monte Booker.
As one of the most experienced and respected artists in the group, Monte’s natural leadership skills and warm personality kicked in. When he was in a room, his genuine love for good music and his enthusiasm for creating was contagious. He was constantly honing in on the best ideas, encouraging other artists to keep going when they were in a zone, directing the action when needed, and bringing everyone together.
Monte’s production credits on the final album can’t even begin to reflect how important he was to this project. This album wouldn’t be what it is without Monte’s involvement, and to see him in action is to know that you’re witnessing a legend in the making.
California duo Paris Texas is a gamechanger. We put them on our list of Artists To Watch in 2022, and since then they haven’t let up. The music is a raucous concoction like nothing else out there, the live shows are electrifying, and the pair’s ability to build worlds through visuals, sonics, and storytelling separates them from anyone we’ve seen emerge in recent years.
In 2023, Paris Texas dropped their debut album MID AIR, and during the See You Next Year recording camp they carried that same explosive energy into Shangri-La and created highlight moments in every session they joined. We also learned that the Paris Texas guys are hilarious.
What we like about a lot of new artists is how they capture an essence of the zeitgeist, but what we respect even more is the artists who are able to create their own sound without relying on trends or borrowing from whatever other popular artists are doing. Paris Texas is absolutely carving out a lane of their own, building a loyal following in the process, and deliberately laying the foundation for a new wave of some much-needed disruption.
Out of all the artists on See You Next Year 2, Skaiwater was definitely the wild card. In 2023 the UK artist/producer told us, “I spend a lot of time making sure that I can’t define my music.” Pulling from electronic music, pop, hip-hop, and everything in between, Skaiwater’s approach to music is bold, singular, and sometimes jarring in the best way possible.
“You've got to be brave enough to do what you want to do,” Skai told us at Shangri-La. They’ve already shown that they’re willing to do that, even if it takes time for everyone else to catch on. During the SYNY2 sessions, that approach clicked—we watched Skai jump from idea to idea, working on a club hit for aliens one second and moving to a pop hook the next.
One of the coolest things about the recording camp was seeing how the artists all interacted, and Skaiwater had a magnetic aura. We’d all hear something crazy playing in another room, and of course it’s Skai posted up, concocting new production at a frenzied pace and open to working with whoever was drawn to it.