Nov 29/2016 WORDS by Erin Lowers
PHOTOGRAPHY by Brendan Meadows
STYLED by Leila Bani
ASSISTANTS: Whitney Lykins and Kristin Morawski
MAKEUP by Jon Hennessey
HAIR by Tania Becker
SET CREATION by Danny Vermette
ASSISTANTS: Sean Best & Maria Turner.
When Leon Bridges debuted Coming Home in 2015, his classic, soulful sound drew comparisons to some of the greatest black musicians of bygone eras, like Marvin Gaye and Same Cooke. The album also earned him a Grammy nomination – an experience that shocked a then 26-year-old Bridges, whose musical career spanned no more than a couple of years at the time of being nominated.
“It was kind of like one of those out-of-body things. I didn’t even believe it was happening,” he says. “Just to be a fan of music and R&B since I was a kid, and to see the reality that I was in that same line of my favorites… being at the Grammys, being nominated for the album – it’s crazy,” he continues. “My guitar player/producer [and I] went, and we left super inspired.”
The Grammy nod led Bridges on a worldwide tour and quickly propelled him to unprecedented levels of stardom. Eventually, he found himself at the White House. Bridges’ meeting with America’s “Royal Family” was a moment that cemented his career choices. “Man, I was able to meet the President, I was able to sing in front of the President, I was able to represent my name. I made my family super proud; I made my city super proud. It was an incredible experience”, he excitedly recounts.
Bridges’ short conversation with President Obama is one he’ll remember with fondness for the rest of his life. “It was super brief, but I told him that I loved him,” he laughs. “I didn’t know what to say! But he said, ‘I see you! An upcoming soul Texas star,’ or something like that, and it’s all I needed to hear.”
Like many Americans already mourning a future without the Obama administration, Bridges can’t help but speculate what a change in leadership will mean for artists of colour. “You look at, like, the honouring of Ray Charles and before that, they did a vintage soul thing… it’s not gonna be the same thing, you know?”
While Canada’s neighbours are facing some of their darkest days in recent history with regards to police brutality, socio-economic divides and racism, these burdens have not fallen on deaf ears. Black artists have unleashed an outpouring of support for victims of police brutality and other heinous crimes, and for Bridges, that fight is one he’s ready for as well. “A lot of people point at me to carry the responsibility because of the music that I make, like, ‘Oh, Sam Cooke did this, Marvin Gaye did this,’ so you should do it, too. That’s definitely the wrong motive. If you feel [strongly] about a certain thing, and want to say something about it, then you should,” he states firmly. “With that platform, we [artists] should use it to speak truth… I feel that I have a responsibility to myself to speak the truth, and that’s definitely what I’ve been thinking about as far as songwriting. I’m no politician and not a man of many words, but I can put my thoughts into a song.”
With 2016 quickly coming to a close, Bridges says he has three goals (some more tongue-in-cheek than others): read more, find himself a supermodel girlfriend, and perhaps most importantly: “Hopefully finish my record, or at least finish writing all the material.” While details of Bridges’ upcoming album are still largely under wraps, he does reveal that it takes a “different direction” than Coming Home. “It won’t sound so much like a period album,” he explains, adding that it is more of a cross-genre project.
Leon Bridges expects to release his forthcoming album in 2017.
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