Angel Haze has lived a life that most people couldn’t imagine living, much less understand. The young artist was raised in the Greater Apostolic Faith, which she’d sooner refer to as a cult than a community. She was raped between the ages of seven and ten while living in an insular environment that frowned upon communication with the outside world, including music. When she was 16, her family broke free of the church’s rules and relocated to Brooklyn, New York. It was then that Haze discovered music for the first time.
“You can imagine not consuming something for such a long amount of time, and then feeling like a crazy, gluttonous hunger for it,” she says of her initial attraction to music. It wasn’t long before she decided to make it her career. In early mixtapes such as 2012’s Reservation and Classick, Haze confronts some of the sordid and desperate moments of her past, broaching topics like sexual abuse, depression, drug addiction and insecurities. She signed to Republic Records and released her debut album, Dirty Gold, in 2013, and then parted ways with the label in 2015 following a yearlong hiatus. Now, she’s recaptured control of her destiny, and has not only taken back her career, but also her health and happiness.
“I learned only in the past two years that music and life circumstances are for a reason. Everything I’ve ever gone through has shaped this path for me,” she says. “It feels like I’m starting a new life and turning over a new leaf, and being able to say, ‘Yeah, my past doesn’t define me.’ It created who I am now, and it helped me get to where I am, but it’s not where I’m going. I think it’s cool. I’m a lot more calm and patient… positive and optimistic about my life because of music.”
The creative process involved in Haze’s latest release, Back to the Woods, took advantage of her sound-to-colour synesthesia – a sensory condition in which affected individuals see colours upon hearing musical notes. The album was recorded in a dark space with colour strobes illuminating the walls; particular colours were chosen based on the palettes she perceived from the songs. Stylistically, Back to the Woods marks a return to the stripped-down sound Haze had when she first came into the industry. “The reason Back to the Woods is a lot different than Dirty Gold is that I had the opportunity and also the privilege of making it by myself, with my brother… The recording process is different because when I was with Universal and making Dirty Gold, there were a lot of other people involved,” she says. “I’m talking teams and teams, and flying me to Spain and doing this with this person and whatever, and it was more of a job. [Back to the Woods] was just about expression, and as clear and plain as I can put it, just expressing myself.”
Reflecting on her brief mentorship with Kanye West, Haze remarks: “Sometimes you get so caught up in thinking about what you need to do, what you’re supposed to do, or what people are expecting of you that you don’t do what you want… I played [Kanye] some stuff that I hadn’t played for anyone when Dirty Gold was out, and he was like, ‘Why aren’t you doing this? This shit is crazy!’ When he told me to do what I wanted to do, I basically did what I wanted to do – and here we have Back to the Woods.”
With a new outlook on her career, as well as a healthier state of mind, Haze is paving her way to an illustrious career – including a new label and the goal of releasing a new album and two mixtapes by the end of the year. With a confident tone, she concludes: “I think because I have my head screwed on so tight, that my future is the brightest it’s ever been. Artistically, I’ve got a vision for everything that I do, everything that I am.”
Starley’s path to platinum status has been filled with starts and stops. After years spent trying to launch her career in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, and later in London and the United States, the popstar hopeful grew depressed. Her anxieties heightened. She was ready to quit. But before she decided to shift her focus onto her next passion – fitness – she made one final attempt at music. Telling herself that God works in mysterious ways but to remain faithful in his process, Starley penned the personal salve, “Call on Me”. The song caught the attention of Australia’s Central Station Records. Since then, everything changed for Starley. Central Station’s subsidiary, Tinted Records, released “Call on Me” as her debut single last July. Epic Records re-released the track later in October. To date, the song has peaked at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100, and its remixed version by Aussie producer Ryan Riback has garnered over 338 million Spotify streams. Starley is currently touring North America for the first time supporting British electronic group Clean Bandit. Georgie got some time with the budding singer to talk about her mainstream ascent, dealing with mental health, and the importance of fitness
Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch first met in the 11th grade, when they started performing together in a jazz quartet known as the Flown Tones. Although the band later disbanded, Rehbein and Dausch stuck together, and the pair went on to experiment with folk, reggae and electronica sound combinations. Eventually, this led to the formation of Milky Chance and the 2014 release of their debut album, Sadnessecary, which later went on to become a multi-platinum success. Now, three and a half years later, Milky Chance is ready to embark on a new adventure with the release of Blossom. The album’s first single, “Cocoon”, continues to climb the charts as the Blossom Tour makes its way across North America. Lead vocalist Rehbein spoke to Georgie about touring, writing and how being close friends with Dausch has benefited the band. G—It’s been about 3 ½ years since the release of Sadnecessary. How has your approach changed between your first and second albums? Clemens Rehbein—I wouldn’t say it’s changed in the way I write songs, but rather how we’ve developed as musicians. The songs are made of the same foundation, but they’re influenced by our experiences on the road and playing on stage. G—Was it
Jacob Sartorius’s path to fame has become an increasingly familiar story: teenaged internet sensation breaks out into mainstream pop stardom. But what sets the 14-year-old Virginian singer apart is his self-awareness and early career savvy. In 2014, Sartorius began uploading clips of himself singing and dancing to Vine. After amassing around 500,000 followers, he switched to musical.ly, where he began uploading videos of himself lip-synching to his own songs. Whereas Vine allowed him to show off his musical theatre background, musical.ly allowed him to show off even more of his lighthearted side. Musical.ly became a new way for him to promote his music and connect with his fans. Sartorius’s fan base has grown so large that he is currently touring internationally for the first time, across seven countries, in support of his debut EP, The Last Text. Georgie caught up with him by phone in London, England a day before he performed in front of 2,500 fans at the O2 Arena. In preparing for The Last Text World Tour, Sartorius has already started developing the work ethic necessary to endure major pop stardom. For 15 to 20 days leading up to the tour, he worked with his voice and movement coaches for up to ten