Staying true to one’s original narratives can be tricky in a game that constantly threatens to change you for everything you are. Stockholm’s Yung Lean has gone from being a somewhat obscure underground figure to a burgeoning global star in a matter of a few years. Bursting onto the rap scene with his Sad Boys in 2013, the last three years have seen a deep period of strife and personal development. Sitting down with Yung Lean, we talked about his influences, growing up, fame and staying true.
The 19-year-old star is no stranger to the lifestyle that seems to compel youths to express themselves through rapping. “I grew up in Belarus, in Russia, but spent most of my time in Stockholm. Stockholm is kind of crazy. I went to normal public schools – a lot of bad kids and a lot of hooligans.” Lean characterizes his transformation from high school to a three year period of running around the world as just a progression of life. “It’s nice, it’s fine. It doesn’t make any sense, really, but I guess you can really do anything if you put your mind to it. Like, I worked at McDonald’s and I tried to be the best at it. But I wasn’t the best, so I went on to rapping.”
Well acquainted with fame at this point, Lean reflects: “I don’t love the fame, I love making music and hanging out with my friends, like on the tour bus. But I don’t really like people taking photos or stuff like that. I don’t fuck with that. My life’s the same – I just have more money for clothes.”
If you’re a fan of the Sad Boys sound, you’ll realize that on the Warlord record there is definitely a show of introspection on tracks like “Eye Contact” and “Highway Patrol”. “Life sort of hit me,” explains Lean. “My manager died. I went to the hospital for a drug overdose. A lot of stuff happened. While recording Warlord a lot of things went down, so I grew as a person.” Regardless of this, the sound stays true to the roots. Lean says the consistency comes down to having the same people around. “Ever since I was 16, I worked with Sherman, White Armor and Gud. I’m still working with the same people. So the only person that’s really new is Mike Dean, but he’s only on two songs. It’s always about hanging out and working with the same people you grew up with and started making music with. You can hear with some people – they’re real when they start out but when they’re famous, they just get fake. It’s not like that if you keep the same people around you.”
It’s fun to have haters. They need something to do. They donít have enough positivity in their life. They need someone to hate. So I don’t care about them.
Lean draws influences from various sources that range from southern heavy bass trap to some weird pop, and is no stranger to varying critical reception. Undeterred by his critics, Lean welcomes the hate. “It’s fun to have haters. They need something to do. They’re just filled with hate,” he says with a chuckle. “They don’t have enough positivity in their life. They need someone to hate. So I don’t care about them.”
Swedish electro-pop mainstays Little Dragon have been around the block. The four-piece band first formed over a decade ago and in that time steadily rose to become one of the world’s biggest indie electro-pop acts. Touring in support of their fifth studio album, Season High, we spoke with bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin about evolving band dynamics, love of music and inspiration behind their latest release. Georgie—You released your fifth album, Season High, earlier this year. How do you feel about this record in comparison to your previous one? Fredrik Källgren Wallin—It is different, but it is hard to pin down how. We worked a little bit with a producer for the mixing parts, and we have never done that before. We have also become better at communicating and making decisions. I think we fight less; it’s more civilized [laughs]. G—You’ve also worked on some interesting collaborations with other artists, but these tracks didn’t make it onto any of your albums. Was this a conscious decision? FKW—It was a conscious decision; it is such collaboration between the four of us. We did have a friend who appears on the first track of the album – he’s an old high school friend,
Los-Angeles pop artist Billie Eilish began writing and recording music at the young age of 14, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to her. Her lyrics are seasoned with insight carried by a voice that softly and soulfully stretches over dreamy soundscapes. The result is a compelling collection of contrasts, both musically and lyrically, which is on full display on Billie’s debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me (Billie’s debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me (Interscope Records/Universal Music Canada)). Co-written and produced by her brother Finneas O’Connell, the Eilish siblings prove they have no shortage of talent. When we spoke to Billie she was on the road and had just begun her North American tour. G—You started singing at the age of 4, what at that time got you interested in music so early on? BE—I started singing before I could talk, and since then I have been singing all the time, every day. Music has always been part of my family, I guess a part of the way that I think, so it has never come as something separate from my brain. Music and my brain are just one and the same. G—Now, at the age of 15 you have a
Allie X began with a vision: of a blank slate. The multimedia electronic pop artist chose the letter “X” to signify infinite possibility – an attempt to strip herself of any pre-existing identity. Yet she feels the presence of multiple versions of herself: good ones, bad ones, and everything in between. “I think I’ve always had this self-awareness of the bad parts of myself,” she reflects. “I remember feeling as a kid like I hadn’t suffered enough, which is kind of a strange feeling. And then I remember in middle school feeling like I wasn’t being nice enough to people.” Her self-awareness has only expanded with age: “As I’ve gotten older, sometimes I just feel like I’m watching myself from somewhere else and think, ‘Who is this person?… Who am I, and is it good or bad?’” Unsure of who she is, anything does seem possible. The cover of Allie X’s latest album and full-length debut, CollXtion II, features her literally reassembling herself, slotting cubed pieces of her shin back into her leg. The visual perfectly captures what The Story of X, the name she has given the narrative that arches across all of her creative output as Allie