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.”
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while
What do you get when you combine the start of a worldwide tour and the release of a highly-anticipated album on the same day? Ask Lord Huron’s founder and frontman, Ben Schneider, and he’ll say a pretty damn exciting journey ahead. The band’s third album, Vide Noir, released April 20, is already receiving accolades for its raw, lyrical storytelling from songs like “Wait by the River” and “When the Night is Over”. To engage fans at a deeper level, the band plans on creating immersive experiences that elevate the album’s narratives. Lord Huron’s tour includes a stop at Toronto’s Sony Centre on July 25, and at Osheaga in Montreal on August 4. Schneider spoke to us about his love of storytelling, Raymond Chandler influences, and what it was like working with Flaming Lips’ producer David Fridmann. G—You grew up in Michigan. Is that where your interest in music began? BS—There was always music on at our house, and I remember imagining the people the songs were about. The storytelling of songs is what’s always captured me most. As time went on, I was able to convince my parents to let me play bass in the orchestra, which led to me
Morgan Saint was born into a creative life. Upon growing up in Mattituck, NY with a family of musicians on her mother’s side and parents who worked in interior design, Saint graduated from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she has lived for the past six years. With a major in illustration and a focus on photography and graphic design, Saint has executed a clear vision of her musical artistry. In 2017, at the age of 23, Saint released her debut EP, 17 Hero, on Epic Records. She is a storyteller at heart, combining all of her talents to reveal her narrative as truthfully as possible, one vignette at a time, as seen in all three of the EP’s videos, “Glass House”, “You”, and “Just Friends”. She co-produced each glossy, beautifully choreographed, and high-definition clip with Nathan Crooker, but the lyrics are all hers. They come from personal places yet are vague enough to be relatable. Her electronic pop is lo-fi, but you’ll most likely find yourself snapping your fingers to it. As Saint prepared for a sold-out show supporting Missio in Austin, Texas, Georgie connected with her to discuss coming into her own as a songwriter and