Ever since he first appeared on the rap scene in 2009, Cleveland native Colson Baker – better known as Machine Gun Kelly – has been enjoying a steady rise to fame and fortune, experiencing significant artistic and personal growth and amassing legions of fans along the way. Following the 2012 release of his first studio album, Lace Up, Baker’s latest effort, General Admission, came out in October of 2015, reaching number three on the Billboard 200 chart and selling 47,000 copies in just one week.
G—General Admission’s lead single, “Till I Die”, has a harder sound, whereas “A Little More” seems more conscientious. Where does the album fall in the scale of these two songs?
MGK—I think that this album is a perfect blend of both. On one end you have the person who grew up on the east side of Cleveland, involved in a lot of things that I wasn’t comfortable talking about in the first album. On the other, it’s motivational, taking lessons I’ve learned and looking at them in a positive way.
Musically, this album is exactly what I wanted. I can pick up my guitar and play every one of these songs. The way we composed it is like a play of someone’s life. That’s why the General Admission title is appropriate – because it’s like a ticket into my life.
G—It’s been more than three years since you released Lace Up, and you had taken a step back from the limelight. Did the break from fame aid in the development of your sound?
MGK—I think [growing up] was what fine-tuned my artistry. My voice was a lot different back then. I was still young – 20, 21, just trying to find myself – but I’m 25 now. I’ve become more of the artist that I’m going to be for the rest of my life. I found my voice.
G—There are benefits to being in the spotlight, such as getting your sound out and having a platform. With that in mind, what do you think your responsibility is as an artist?
MGK—I take a unique responsibility. I took a step further than singing for the youth and I directed some of my messages towards addicts (heroin addicts and opioid addicts in particular). Since I made that connection with that crowd, I’ve seen the impact it has had – more than I could have imagined. With depression or addiction, if you can be there for them in your music, it can be a ray of light in the dark.
G—Speaking of being in the spotlight, you’re bound to gain more exposure with your new role in the upcoming Showtime original series Roadies.
MGK— I think so. It’s also fulfilling getting to play somebody that I’m not; it’s a high that I haven’t felt before. Roadies started as a TV pilot I did with Cameron Crowe. We spent a month in Vancouver shooting it. So many great actors – the season premiere is coming up this June.
G—Getting back to the music, your live shows are notorious for their unconventional mix of high punk energy with hip-hop eloquence. Where do you draw your inspiration for your on-stage presence?
MGK—I grew up a punker. All punk rock is attitude. It wasn’t about how well you could play but about your presence and how you played. So given that [punk] was what I grew up on, all I knew was to bring my energy out, lose consciousness and let the feeling take over. In my later years I sharpened my skills as a musician and blended the two. On tour, I maintain that high, punk rock confidence and attitude, but I’m also putting in a lot more soul [because] I became a much better musician. Mostly playing the guitar on stage – it’s a dope musical experience.
G—Have you been playing guitar for a while?
MGK—I used to be in a punk band a while back. Then I kind of stopped that when I realized I couldn’t sing. That’s when I discovered what rap music was.
G—What impression do you want to leave as an artist?
MGK—I want people to think of me as the person who took his own path. I didn’t have any footsteps to follow.
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