Kygo, DJ and producer, talked to me about his latest music and tour – plus I asked him if he’d be checking out season two of “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix.
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Kygo, DJ and producer, talked to me about his latest music and tour – plus I asked him if he’d be checking out season two of “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix.
Variety’s Jem Aswad called in to my radio show the day before The Weeknd dropped his mini-album, “My Dear Melancholy,” to preview the release.
Demi Lovato played to her hometown on Wednesday night, headlining the American Airlines Center in Dallas alongside DJ Khaled. After her performance, the singer tweeted about the experience.
“Just played my hometown in Dallas in the arena I watched so many concerts in growing up and I feel like crying,” she wrote to her 55 million-plus followers. “There were so many people, people were watching from BEHIND the stage!!! I can’t thank you guys enough for the love… truly grateful.”
Just played my hometown in Dallas in the arena I watched so many concerts in growing up and I feel like crying
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) March 8, 2018
Lovato has been cognizant of moments like these for years. When I chatted with her in the summer of 2013, the artist talked about how happy she was for her peers, especially Selena Gomez.
“I’ve known (Selena) since I was seven years old,” Lovato explained. “We went from being in the backseat of a car with her parents driving us to a radio show to listen to our favorite artists that were on the radio at the time to us having songs on the radio.”
I remember back in 2013 you telling me about riding to this arena with @selenagomez as kids! Love that you were able to have such a great moment back home. #ThrowbackThursday pic.twitter.com/23llguSNOi
— Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) March 8, 2018
And of course, performing those shows as well. Lovato’s reflection came on the eve of “International Women’s Day,” which the United Nations marks annually on March 8. According to the UN, the Day is marked, “to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”
Through music, activism, advocacy and philanthropy, Lovato continues to set a positive example for not just her fan base, but women across the world. And on Wednesday night, her hometown witnessed that yet again.
We all have different ways of getting over ex-lovers and coping with failed relationships. For Julia Michaels, her method involved releasing a debut cohesive body of work, the self-dubbed “mini-album” called “Nervous System.”
“I’m fully transparent. This whole (mini-album) is literally my life,” Michaels explained to me. “There were so many things that I couldn’t say to him and there are a lot of things that I don’t confront with myself that I put on this mini-album.”
Over the course of our sit-down interview Michaels noted that each track on “Nervous System” represents something that actually took place in the relationship. All of the songs were written about the same boyfriend referenced in the hit single “Issues.” The mini-album was penned over a two-month stretch after Michaels released the first track.
Perhaps the two most heart-wrenching songs are “Just Do It” and “Don’t Wanna Think.” The former describes a moment when Michaels knew her ex-boyfriend wanted to dump her but was worried he would break her heart. The latter is the only track on the mini-album that Michaels wrote alone; she is also the lone-producer on it as well. The ballad was originally titled, “Drinking Song”; Michaels composed it on a piano while drinking tequila.
“I wrote it about a fight I was having and it was just one of those songs that I had written in about 20 minutes because everything had just kind of flowed out of me,” she revealed. “Like I said, I don’t confront things and I suppress a lot of things and so sometimes when I listen down to something I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s how I feel.’”
Michaels clearly has no problem telling the world about her personal life, and the world doesn’t seem to mind; she turned-in a fantastic performance of “Issues” at the Billboard Music Awards in May and is up for “Best New Artist” later this month on the MTV Video Music Awards. Although she is currently focusing on her own music (Michaels told me that for the moment she hasn’t worked on any other songs with Selena Gomez), she still likes being able to tell other people’s stories as well.
“I love being that person that people can talk to and helping them get their stories out, because sometimes artists really want to say what they have to say but they don’t know how to articulate it in a way that fully makes sense,” Michaels said. “So I love helping them put puzzle pieces together and figuring all of that out together.”
In some aspects, Michaels provides therapy as much as collaboration. By using her debut mini-album to release an ex-boyfriend from her life, go ahead and add “self-therapy” to Michaels’ resume as well.
Norwegian DJ/producer Kygo is on a hot-streak at the moment between the infectious Selena Gomez-assisted “It Ain’t Me” and “First Time” featuring Ellie Goulding. The songs are the first and second singles, respectively, from his forthcoming sophomore album. He also played two more tracks, one of which John Newman sings on, at Ultra Music Festival this year. But despite these big collaborations that he’s completed, the DJ now has his sights on another, although it might be difficult to accomplish.
“Ed Sheeran is one of my favorite artists,” he told me recently, noting that there are other singers he’d like to share the studio with as well. “(Ed) is so busy all the time so it’s tough to find time to go in to the studio but that’s a dream collaboration for me, to work with Ed Sheeran.”
Working with Sheeran might be a tough task to clear though – pun intended. The only known, notable Electronic Dance Music collaboration the Englishman has ever participated in was on the Martin Garrix track, “Rewind Repeat It.”
Does it sound familiar? It shouldn’t. The song never saw the light of day. Garrix offered up his side of the story this past March during an interview in his home country of the Netherlands.
“It’s all label issues and a lot of headaches,” Garrix told Dutch station Radio 538, via Billboard. “It was going to be an official track, so we postponed all my other singles, but the label delayed the track because they wanted to release other tracks from Ed first. At one point, it was two years ago, I didn’t release a radio single for five, six months. So, then you get annoyed. So, I don’t think we’re ever going to release the track.”
Another person that Kygo has worked with though is Julia Michaels, who is also finding quite a bit of success on the American airwaves these days.
“I’m so happy for her,” he said. “She’s such a nice person as well. She’s been writing so many hits, and now she’s releasing her own hits. It’s just very well-deserved. I think she’s going to do a lot of big things in the future.”
The two teamed up for “Carry Me” off Kygo’s first LP “Cloud Nine.” There is no title or release date for the follow-up album.
For day three of our broadcast with Westwood One Backstage at The 59th GRAMMYs we chatted with a bunch of current and former nominees while also speaking with a few friends-of-the-show. It was great to see Train’s Pat Monahan and Gavin DeGraw. I also interviewed Lukas Graham for the second time; the first time was at The GRAMMYs last year and now they’re up for three awards including Record and Song Of The Year, plus they’ll perform with Kelsea Ballerini. Noah Cyrus stopped by and compared me to her dad, LeAnn Rimes remembered her big GRAMMY wins from 20 years ago and Charli XCX explained how she chooses to collaborate with people before I brought up Selena Gomez to her.
Rachel Platten’s 2016 has brought her many different places; one of the latest being Times Square where she, along with Joe Jonas, helped reveal some of the nominees for the 2016 American Music Awards.
When it comes to the show’s biggest prize, “Artist Of The Year,” the “Fight Song” artist knows a thing or two about some of the potential winners. Platten met Selena Gomez (“She’s a wonderful person”), is nominated with Adele in the category of “Favorite Female Artist – Adult Contemporary” and even drew inspiration for her set list from one of the category’s nominees.
“I cover his song on my tour,” she replied when I brought up Justin Bieber. She tackles the hit “Love Yourself” during her show. I then mentioned another artist in the category, Bieber’s fellow Canadian, Drake.
“I also tried to cover his song on my tour, and realized that it wasn’t very good when I did it,” Platten deadpanned regarding the hit “One Dance.” “I wish I had figured it out.”
Platten’s “The Wildfire Tour” kicked off in February, a month after she dropped her major-label debut album. The LP also spawned the hit “Stand By You.”
“I feel like all of my wildest dreams came true the past two years,” she told me. “It’s been so amazing. I worked for a long, long time to get here so I think 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart.”
And the year is far from over; Platten wraps up her tour in Florida on Saturday and will attend the AMAs, which air live November 20 at 8 pm EST in Los Angeles.
Charlie Puth confirmed to me that the “Nine Track Mind” album cycle is finished but he stopped short of saying that he wouldn’t be a part of any other new music before year’s end.
“We filmed a video for ‘Dangerously’ just as like a fan thank you,” he revealed. “Yunno, thanks for this amazing life-changing year; here’s a really cool video for a very popular song on the album.”
“Life-changing” is an apt way to describe Puth’s world since the release of “See You Again.” The Wiz Khalifa-fronted song, which served as the main single from the “Furious 7” soundtrack, went on to accumulate GRAMMY and Golden Globe nods while also racking up a billion plays on YouTube.
Then you factor in Puth as a solo artist: three hit singles off a Gold-certified debut album with two U.S. tours in support of it.
“Kind of like a whirlwind,” is how Puth characterized the past year-and-a-half. “I went from literally having nobody know me to, yunno having five security guards around me when I walk around Times Square.”
The Rumson, New Jersey-native seems to enjoy the ride. Just a few nights prior to our chat, he played to a sold-out Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
“We shut down two streets!” he exclaimed, before chastising me over a tweet I sent about thankfully not grocery shopping that night. The venue is across from my neighborhood store, a Fairway.
“Saw your tweet; you were like, ‘I’m glad I didn’t go shopping!’” Puth repeated, while clearly amused before adding, “Don’t get it twisted. I read your tweets!”
The one consistent since I started interviewing Puth a year-ago is his demeanor: he takes his art seriously but certainly enjoys lightening up a bit too. Apparently, that doesn’t just occur during interviews either.
“I joke around with my boys The Chainsmokers all the time like, ‘When are we going to make a song where we can like, turn up to in Vegas with everybody and make a big party out of it?’” he told me. “I’ve written records with a lot of amazing, legendary artists, new and old, even in these past couple of months.
“So… that’s all I’m going to say.”
Joe Jonas probably has the weekend of November 18 circled on his calendar… or highlighted in his phone. You get the idea.
On that Friday, the Jonas-fronted DNCE will drop its debut, full-length album. The following Sunday, DNCE will head over to the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles for the 2016 American Music Awards. DNCE snagged two nominations, including New Artist Of The Year, which put the “Cake By The Ocean” singer in a league of his own; he’s the first artist to be nominated for that award twice – it’s a trophy he won with his brothers back in 2008.
“That’s an incredible feeling,” Jonas said when I brought that up to him on Monday morning. He and Rachel Platten helped reveal some of the AMA nominations on “Good Morning America” in Times Square. “I was not expecting that; when Rachel said my name, I had to kind of like, take a second to think about it.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s a bizarre feeling to know that you can reinvent yourself and hopefully it encourages a lot of artists out there because part of this game is being able to come up with stuff that’s new and evolve as an artist. We do it because of the love of music.”
DNCE is also up for Favorite Group or Duo – Pop/Rock with some stiff competition between The Chainsmokers and Twenty One Pilots. The band also shares the New Artist nod with The Chainsmokers, as well as Shawn Mendes, Zayn and Alessia Cara.
“It’s going to be a party,” Jonas replied when I asked what he thinks that November weekend will be like. “We’ll probably be still on a high from releasing an album but walking in to nominations amongst these great artists, fan-voted completely, that’s the best feeling.”
Jonas noted that it’s also nice just to have a release date for the anticipated LP.
“We have songs that we just created a few months ago and it’s cool to like actually have a set-date rather than kind of the guessing game,” he said. “I just can’t wait for people to hear it. We’ve been playing some of the songs on tour and testing them out but now to be able to have a physical album to hold on to is a good feeling.”
In addition to “Cake By The Ocean” becoming nearly inescapable, DNCE spent this last summer supporting Selena Gomez on tour. Gomez also scored two AMA nods, including for the evening’s top prize for Artist Of The Year.
The 2016 American Music Awards air Sunday night November 20 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
DNCE is one of the more unlikely pop music success stories of the past 12 months. The band is comprised of a Jonas Brother, the brothers’ former backing drummer, a member of Semi-Precious Weapons and a woman who moved to the US from her native South Korea speaking no English and traveling with only her guitar.
A few chance meetings led to a sold-out tour, a four song EP, a top 10 hit and now a gig opening for Selena Gomez.
The story of Joe Jonas, his friend Jack Lawless, Cole Whittle and JinJoo Lee is about as unpredictable as it might seem. So of course it comes as no surprise that while breakout singles usually push up LP releases, the band has actually delayed its debut album due to the prolonged success of “Cake By The Ocean.”
“It’s only a good problem,” Jonas remarked after noting the original release target was spring (now he is thinking fall). “Now ‘Toothbrush’ is starting to take off, our second single, and we’re getting a lot of love from that.”
The adoration is for more than simply another catchy song; the second from the band’s EP “SWAAY.” DNCE release the music video for the track with plus-sized model Ashley Graham cast as the main love interest. Graham is having a fantastic 2016; she already graced the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover.
“Ashley Graham is the hottest thing in the universe,” Whittle said, while also noting that he hoped to have Jonas’ role in the video. “We all have giant crushes on her. When we were talking about the video, that’s what you dream of when you’re 16, when you finally get to make a music video one day (and) you pick the hottest person in the world that you just kind of want to roll around in bed with all day.”
“I think we had an idea that people were going to talk about it because she’s really killing it right now. But our real thinking process was, ‘She’s amazing and beautiful,’” replied the lead singer when I asked if the band was prepared for a conversation about breaking down stereotypes to center around its music video. “Look, yeah, if we somehow change a standard with her for music videos, yunno knock on wood I think that’d be great. She’s a gorgeous woman and that’s what matters.”
DNCE’s four-track EP also includes “Pay My Rent” and “Jinx.” Jonas and company are trying out new songs, such as “Body Moves” and “Naked,” while on tour with his former fellow Disney star Gomez. The band’s trek on the “Revival Tour” continues throughout North America and will extend in to her Australian dates, wrapping on August 11.
And if DNCE’s history is any indication of its future, then the only thing that can be predicted is unpredictability.