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This is my longest and one of my favorite interviews to-date.

I first met JAX earlier this year. She is a ball of good energy and simply a fun person to be around. And that’s why I’m not surprised how composed, outgoing and at times laugh-out-loud funny she was as she described the process of discovering that she had both Thyroid Cancer and Hashimoto’s disease.

In typical JAX fashion, she is overcoming both while yet again serving as an inspiration to the fans that adore her. And she’s coming through even stronger than ever; in November she’ll run the TCS New York City Marathon, which will be her first ever marathon. Hey, go big or go home.

JAX spoke candidly with me about this past year. Watch the interview below and contribute to her marathon cause here.

A brand new “2 Slices & A Story” on your screen starring American Idol finalist, Jersey’s own and all-around great person JAX! And you’ll learn something that she can’t stand during this chat…

You’ve heard the song and your reaction may have gone something like this: “Wait, is there something wrong with my speakers? Why is my phone skipping? Is the radio messed up?”

There is nothing wrong with your speakers, your phone isn’t skipping and we’re fine. Hopefully you realized this 11 seconds in to “Gold,” as soon as the first verse kicked in. Hopefully you realized that there was still three minutes and 34 seconds left in the dark, twisted and rather interesting journey that 21 year-old Kiiara was going to take you on.

Or maybe you’re just transfixed on the song’s opening and chorus. It’s fine; you’re far from the only one.

“It’s interesting because I always knew what it was; like it’s a sample,” the Illinois-born emcee replied when I asked her on my show recently about people’s interpretation of the song’s open. “That’s all it is. So people trying to put words to it or like (ask) ‘What is she saying? What language is this?’ It’s interesting. It’s funny.”
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“Gold” first blew up outside of the U.S. even though Kiiara, nee Kiara Saulters, is an American artist. The single is already a Top 5 hit and two-times platinum down in Australia. It has cracked or is on the door step of the Top 20 in five other countries, including here where it sits at 22 on the pop radio airplay chart.

Chart success and critical acclaim are certainly propelling Kiiara’s career in the right direction, and she doesn’t seem to mind.

“It’s really fun,” she said of her time in the music industry thus far. Kiiara grew up in Illinois playing high school volleyball and would eventually dual-major in accounting and finance before dropping out of college after a year to pursue music. “It’s cool to like, experience everything with shooting music videos to seeing what rehearsals and touring is about, because I’ve never performed before.”

That changed last month when the singer embarked on her first headlining tour, a six-date jaunt that culminated with a festival slot: Lollapalooza in Chicago, back where she had grown up.

“It was really weird to be back; like it was a good weird but I haven’t been there in over a year,” she admitted. Kiiara moved to L.A. shortly after recording “Gold” and continued on to finish her debut EP, “low kii savage.” “And then I’ve never been to Lolla, so performing was really dope, to see it from a different perspective.”

Seemingly the only item on Kiiara’s itinerary at the moment is the promotion of “Gold” as it continues to climb up airplay charts. The 21 year-old hopes to drop her debut full length album in January and noted that a full tour could come shortly sometime thereafter.

Andy Grammer needed to figure out how he was going to follow up 2014’s “Magazines or Novels,” his sophomore album which included his biggest hit to date, “Honey I’m Good.” So he decided to try out a new approach.

“Coming off the last two singles (also ‘Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)’) which were both pretty up-tempo, high energy… there was no higher to go,” Grammer explained on my radio show over the phone. “You can’t throw more of the kitchen sink in to a song.

“This one is my first single that I feel like lets the audience come to me a little bit. I’m really excited about it.”

“Fresh Eyes” serves as the first single from Grammer’s forthcoming third studio LP and sonically reflects his west coast home more than his east coast roots. The song is super laid back and Grammer’s voice doesn’t jump many octaves as he sings about a stranger that he is smitten for.

The track is certainly a departure from “Honey” but almost literally a product of it; Grammer’s gift to himself after the success of his second album was baby blue electric guitar.

“It’s my first (single) that I’ve done mostly on electric guitar,” he revealed. “I went in (a store) and picked up every guitar and amp for like, four hours and I left with this baby blue nucleus for my third album.”

If you’re checking out Grammer on tour this year, you’ll get a chance to see the axe in person. He plans on bringing the instrument out for his supporting gig with Train followed by his co-headlining jaunt with Gavin DeGraw. Of course, Train recently covered the “Led Zeppelin II” album, donating proceeds from sales to a charity that benefits kids fighting cancer. So if Grammer were to pick one act to offer the cover treatment to, who would it be?

“I think it would be dope to re-do an old Billy Joel album,” he replied, also noting that he doesn’t know the Piano Man (although his tour mate DeGraw has served as Joel’s opening act on a regular basis. “I guess I’d have to make the album first and then reach out.”

Besides his upcoming tours, Grammer will be spending the rest of the year working on his own project though. The “Keep Your Head Up” singer is bringing an extra tour bus on the road with him so he can continue to create the album. Grammer hopes that the LP drops after the first of the year.

“That’s what’s so fun about this game is that everything just keeps being new,” he said. “When you do one thing that works, like it’s done. Your brain has to come up with something different. That’s the whole artistic thing. It’s been completely fun and reinvigorating on this album to be doing something totally different.”

As Grammer tours the country and continues to work on his new album, he’ll also have the chance to find out if his fans feel the same way.

Violinist Lindsey Stirling stopped by to talk about her new album “Brave Enough,” which is out August 19. The lead single, “Something Wild,” is in the upcoming Disney film “Pete’s Dragon,” out August 12.

Stirling also chatted about performing with Celine Dion and meeting Steven Tyler at the Billboard Music Awards, the death of Christina Grimmie and the fact that she turns 30 in September.

The good news for Troye Sivan fans is that the singer has a busy year of touring the globe ahead, so chances are you’ll get to see him in your neck of the woods at some point.

The bad news is he seems nowhere near ready to begin work on the follow-up to his debut studio LP, “Blue Neighbourhood.” But of course, the album isn’t even a year old yet.

“I’m going to be honest with you, I haven’t started writing yet,” he told me on my radio show last week, prior to his Vevo concert with Alessia Cara and performance on “The Tonight Show.” “I mean I have so many ideas and think about new music every single day but for me I don’t think I can write an album on the road.”

This is a common conversation I have with singer/songwriters: some can easily churn on out tunes while touring but for the most part others find it at best very difficult. Sivan tossed his name in the latter category.

“I think I need to actually like, be somewhere stable and kind of just like chill out for a second,” he admitted. “I could throw something together but I don’t want to do that and I want my second album to be really, really special.”
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Sivan even floated the idea of waiting until his touring is finished at the end of the year before setting up a base somewhere to work on his next project. Before then he’ll tour the States a second time and promote his new single, a remix of “Wild” that features the aforementioned Cara, a singer he said felt like his little sister.

“It’s weird because I’ve only met her like, maybe 10 times but I swear I mean it,” he insisted. “I really honestly feel super protective over her and yeah, I just think she’s super special.”

Cara is younger than the “Youth” singer but only by a year; the Canadian-born artist turned 20 earlier this month while Sivan hit the big 2-1 on June 5.

“I sort of had my crazy nights when I first turned 18,” Sivan, who was born in South Africa but raised in Australia, revealed. “So for me, (not being 21 in the United States) was more of just an inconvenience like, ‘Can I please just have a beer with my dinner?’”

Sivan would even try his luck on occasion.

“’Hey yeah, I’ll grab a Sapporo,’” he’d order, before looking away from the waiter. “And hope to God that they wouldn’t card me and they always did.

“I’d have to go through the whole thing where I’d have to put on this performance and pretend I left my wallet at home but yeah, now I don’t have to do any of that.”

And that’s good news too, but just for Sivan and whoever he’ll be breaking bread with in the States this year.

Scoring an infectious song of the summer, touring with Maroon 5, collaborating with the likes of David Guetta and Shakira along with performing on almost every television show imaginable. These are the experiences that shaped “Primary Colours,” the sophomore album from Magic! that was released earlier this month.

“’Rude’ is a great song and so it never feels corny to sing; it always feels like there’s soul in it and there’s heart in it,” said lead singer Nasri Atweh. “Of course it was hard to sing it every night; it was monotonous.”

But the success of “Rude” only motivated the quartet as it wrote and recorded “Primary Colours.”

“If we could get that same reaction for other songs… because ‘Rude’ has a reaction that… nothing in the world has this reaction. Only like, chocolate ice cream has this reaction!” Nasri continued. “So when you get that for the one song you want it for all of the songs.”
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Matter-of-fact, “Rude” directly inspired another track on the band’s new release, “Dance Monkey.” Like most of the other songs on the Canadians’ second LP, it’s catchy and born in the reggae-pop sound that Magic! has become known for. Other highlights include the Sean Paul-assisted lead single “Lay You Down Easy” and its follow-up, “Red Dress” about a girl who takes forever to get ready.

“The guy’s waiting (for the girl to get ready),” Magic!’s front man explained. “And then when she’s looking all hot, he’s like, ‘Alright, let’s take your clothes off.’”

Another cut with the same playful sentiment is “Gloria,” which documents the love a man has for a woman even though she clearly should not be trusted.

“Gloria is a dirty, dirty…girl,” Nasri said. “’Glorias’ are everywhere, girls and boys.

“The fun thing about that song is that my character is so helpless because he just wants a girl as beautiful as Gloria.”

The problem? Nasri’s character takes Gloria on a cruise, only to return to their cabin one night with a bottle of wine and find her in bed with two other men.

“We’re looking forward to making that video.”

In the meantime, Magic! will continue promoting the new album before performing a handful of dates in July and August, including a free concert in Syracuse, N.Y. on August 27. The group then plans to head out on tour this fall.

Adam Friedman performed an acoustic version of his single “Lemonade” and then chatted about working with Mike Posner on the track and going to school at Berklee with Charlie Puth.
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Michael Grubbs, the lead man of the indie pop outfit Wakey Wakey, stopped by to chat about the album “Overreactivist” he released in February and how he sometimes lives vicariously through others to write music.
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Chrissi Poland chatted about opening for Lady Gaga, landing a gig in Vegas and writing her debut full length album in the desert before returning to New York to record it.
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