Goodnight 2016

2016-10k-poster-12Planning this year’s New Years Eve to say goodnight to 2016 and good morning to a new 2017, I scratched my head trying to remember what I did for last year’s festivities. Then I remembered I did nothing. Well, nothing and everything. I stayed at home, manically timing the launch of tweets, Instagrams and FB posts, while readying the homepage of a brand new project. When midnight struck I launched our band Bad Wave’s single ‘Runaway’ into the stratosphere. It sprinted onto Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud and 10K’s brand new WordPress. It heralded a new era for our label. An era of singles by a roster of artist projects we’d developed, such as the R&B jammers Luu, punk crooner Nicky Blitz, futuristic electroclash hybric Mr Witch, disco troubadour John Hancock III, Trinidadian rapper Nafets, and shadowy electro outfit Viigo, among others. We joined forces with Brett, a band signed to Cascine, who entrusted us with a whole EP project inspired by The Cure and Tom Petty. Our overall intention? To release a song every single Friday. Without fail, we did that. I still can’t believe it. In 2016, 10K Islands put out 52 songs. That’s the poster, designed by Bad Wave’s Patrick Hart himself. If you’d like one, they’re $10. Tweet us @10KIslands.

10K Islands has a long road to travel on still. We’ve only just begun. I don’t write this to gloat, but really the achievements by these songs this year leaves all of us here pretty breathless. Thank you to all of our supporters for giving us a greater platform: to Beats 1 (Zane Lowe, Matt Wilkinson and the whole team), BBC Radio 1 (especially Huw Stevens and Phil Taggart), Amazing Radio (shout out Emma Snook), KCRW, Tobi Lynn at Alt 98.7, Paul Lester at The Guardian, Dan Cairns at The Sunday Times, Kevin Bronson at Buzzbands LA, Indie Shuffle, Hillydilly, The Line Of Best Fit, Noisey, All Things Go, Clash, Pigeons & Planes, DIY, and Spotify. You all helped shine a light on the songs, the videos and the random Snapchats we’ve been creating here. We’re bowled over by your generosity and time. To all the listeners and all the people who came to see Bad Wave, Viigo and Nicky Blitz play this year, we owe you a drink. The shows are developing. Watch this space.

Our little label has made some huge steps this year. In the Spring we built a second studio, opening up a 10K West Coast HQ in Los Feliz. Housing two rooms, it’s seen a huge influx of local talent, with daily sessions bringing our core of in-house songwriters and producers in front of wildly diverse LA upstarts. It’s opened up an entirely new aspect of 10K allowing us to develop brand new artists from scratch – something you’re gonna learn more about in 2017. It’s also resulted in bigger forays into the big industry. Only last week one of our band’s creations – Viigo’s ‘Levitate’ – appeared on Post Malone’s new record as the entire backing track to ‘No Option’. Our happiest West Coast HQ news is that this November we extended an invite to Nick Sylvester, founder of New York’s Godmode label. Nick’s now sharing our space here, and has brought with him a tonne of superb gear and modular synths. I don’t know how to use them but they look hard as nails.

Beyond the 10K x Godmode neighbourhood watch scheme, our most exciting news came with another Nick. Nicky Blitz. The original instigator for my involvement with this whole entire batshit family has been keeping his progress a little hush-hush but it’s time to go public. Earlier this Fall, Nicky Blitz finalised a deal with Atlantic Records in LA. His 2017 will see a debut EP release and who knows what else beyond that. We’re exceedingly proud of our very own Alan Vega/James Murphy and glad to share the responsibility of his manic brain with some more able-minded humans.

We’d like to wish you a great holiday season, gift you with a playlist of everything we did this year, and make you a promise that we’re going to hit you with even more awesomeness in 2017. We won’t be putting out 52 songs next year, mainly because it’s driven us insane. Instead, you’re gonna get longer projects from some 10K artists you know, and introductory tastes to 10K artists you’re yet to meet.

Don’t go changing channels now.

– Eve & 10K

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Nafets: Therapy

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Nafets would “rather be myself than what I’m told I’m supposed to be.” This was the realisation that led to ‘Therapy’, the rising MC’s slick new single and teaser for things to come in 2017. “There’s always a lot of outside pressure and influence that tells you to be a certain way or to talk or look a certain way, and that by doing so you’ll ‘fit in,'” he says of the track. “But if you do that, you pretty much lose the uniqueness of yourself for the sake of blending in.”

There’s no sense of an artist intent on merely blending in on ‘Therapy’, a smoky molotov cocktail of airy keys, ’90s boom bap beats and razor wire rhymes. “Como se dice, ceviche in English, what brain do you think with? Been trained since an infant, to dismantle kinship, leave stains on a French kiss, when pain feel relentless, I’m sober,” the first generation Trinidadian spits before a hook that’s a late contender for 2016’s chillest. After the woozy pop trip of last month’s ‘France’ and soul-purging of October’s ‘Asteroid’, it’s more hard evidence the rapper – approved by Complex and one of Indie Shuffle’s top hip-hop acts of 2016 – is going places and going there fast. Listen above, and follow Nafets on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

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Bad Wave: Daniel

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LA duo Bad Wave began the year with a bang and they’re ending it on a boom. ‘Runaway’, released January 1, kickstarted 10K Islands on a run of 52 singles released across 52 weeks in 2016. 51 weeks later comes the imperious ear-worm ‘Daniel’ – a sci-fi pop rush tinged with tragedy and accompanied by a comic. “Daniel, they are calling,” sings Tucker Tota over arpeggiating keys and a thick fog of electronic tension. “You’re last in line, it’s time to face the hollow sound.” Even in the face of an unnamed impending catastrophe, Bad Wave don’t stop dancing.

The track’s a teaser for what promises to be a big year ahead for the pair, completed by instrumentalist Patrick Hart. Having racked up over half a million streams in 2016, not to mention the approval of BBC Radio 1, Billboard,  The Guardian and more, they’re charging into 2017 with plans for an EP, out on 10K in Spring. If its contents follow in the powerful footsteps of ‘Daniel’, it’ll be a dark, delirious winner, full of subtle strings, bubbling synths and insurmountable hooks. Hear it above, follow Bad Wave on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and we’ll see you next week for track 52 of 52.

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Luu: Don’t Like You

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“I should have just told you, I don’t like you – no baby, I love you,” sing Luu over a dare-we-say Christmassy shuffle of Motown guitars and saloon bar piano on their latest single. ‘Don’t Like You’ is old school pop joy of the purest degree: a warm, dewey-eyed, huddle-in-from-the-cold charmer full of sweet harmonies and floating falsetto declarations of desire.

“Always in my dreams, the best place to be,” another guest vocalist sings over the LA trio’s lush instrumentation. “I should write you down, you’d be my symphony.” Like previous singles ‘Word Up’, the TLC-inspired ’That Light’ and the dancefloor-ready ‘No Limit’, Luu have created another symphony of soul. And you won’t just like it – no baby, you’ll love it. Check it out above, and we’ll see you next week.

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The Golden Peppers: If You Don’t Love Me

 

gp-ifyoudontloveme-11-19v2It’s a sorry fact of human nature that people often say one thing, then do another. The Golden Peppers’ Patrick Hart wrestles with this truth to tender, heartbreaking effect on the LA project’s latest single, on which he asks over Elvis Costello-ish licks and bluesy brass: “If you don’t love me, then why did you say you love me?” The follow-up to debut singles ‘Sometimes (One Night)’ and ‘The Dark Side’, it’s lovelorn indie at its most emotionally charged.

“My hands are black and blue, my pillow smells like you, still feels like you’re in the other room,” sings Hart on the track, before a massive, melancholy chorus and eventual descent into crashing drums and saxophone terror. “She don’t understand at all.” Hart, who also makes up one half of electronic duo Bad Wave, shows another side to his musical talents on ‘If You Don’t Love Me?’, with a sound that, in stark contrast to Bad Wave’s glitching pop futurism, would be at home in a dimly lit ’80s bar. Check it out above, and we’ll see you next week.

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Nafets: France

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Nafets’ new single is about “healing, love and finding yourself.” It takes some detours along the way, through trippy, flickering synth lines and rhymes about Bayern Munich soccer player Thomas Muller and Pokemon, but ultimately it arrives at a message. “In the social media era, it’s super easy to get caught up in the lives of everyone around you,” the first gen Trinidadian explains. “You begin to compare yourself to others, and lose yourself in the process. I think it’s important to be able to take a step back and learn to love yourself before you can healthily engage in loving others around you.”

The track – the fast-rising rapper’s latest blend of whip-smart rhymes and melancholy soul-purging, arriving hot on the heels of last month’s 10K debut ‘Asteroid’ – teeters between heartache and positivity. “Once upon a feature, I was brooding with the creatures, now I’m moody off that ether, either that or just lost,” Nafets raps over a woozy beat that traps you in its bittersweet drift, between a gorgeous hook from EMEKA.

“I think we all need to have a moment in our lives where we are truly alone, whether it’s after a heartbreak, or a period of isolation, or just some time off. We all need a space to explore ourselves and learn how to heal and love,” he explains. “Now more than ever, the world could use some more love.” Amen to that. Check the track above, and follow Nafets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Viigo: Different Souls

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Viigo’s ‘Different Souls’ picks up where their melancholy last single ‘Ex-Friends’ left off: drifting amid the debris of a relationship that reached a point of no return. Rife with gently glitching electronics and pulsing beats, it’s a dance-floor heartbreaker with ghostly echoes of Autre Ne Veut, The Weeknd and Jungle on a crushing comedown. “Let it go,” sings frontman MJ Hancock over and over, imploring himself to leave behind a union too destructive to continue. ‘Different Souls’ is a song you’ll have trouble of letting go – its warmth and emotion likely to worm its way under your skin for days and weeks to come.


If you’re wondering where the trio, split across LA and New Jersey, may venture next in their constantly-evolving sound, this is a pretty good teaser – moving on from The R&B grind of ‘Paranoia’ (described as full of “Balearic waves, roaring bass, and shimmering rhythms” by The Line Of Best Fit) and minimalist scuttle of breakout single ‘Move’, towards more amorphous, shimmery textures that bend and contort. Their signature powerful sense of emotion, however, remains the same. Check the track above, follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, and we’ll see you next week.

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