Island Records

Sigrid

Sigrid is the popstar you’ve been searching for. She might be from a small town in Norway, but she has a mind, attitude and voice bigger than any other 21-year-old. With a silky-gravel to her Norwegian accent and a smile that often opens into fits of laughter, she personifies ‘cool’ but doesn’t know it yet, and has the world as excited as when Lorde first appeared with Royals. Born and raised in Ålesund, surrounded by sea and mountains, it was as if Sigrid was always fated to drive the ten minutes across to the neighbouring island of Giske and make musical magic in the idyllic Ocean Sound Recordings. The past twelve months have been nothing short of extraordinary. Sigrid’s debut EP Don’t Kill My Vibe was hailed as one of the biggest breakouts of 2017, and was soon followed by the certified silver-selling Strangers and 2018’s stripped back and vulnerable single, Raw. She has sold out shows across the world, performed at the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize concert as well as live on Later With Jools Holland, The Graham Norton Show and The Late Late Show with James Corden to huge acclaim, and won the much coveted BBC Sound of 2018 poll.

With Neil Young’s biggest fan for a father and a mother with a deep-rooted love of Joni Mitchell, the importance of great songwriting was instilled in Sigrid from the start, her piano lessons charting a path from the tender age of seven. In her early teens she discovered the likes of Coldplay and Adele, and began learning covers before ultimately deciding she’d rather deconstruct the songs; taking parts from here and there, changing the chords and rhythms, and piecing them back together as her own creations.

When Sigrid was 16, her older brother Tellef, also a musician, had a show coming up and with two weeks notice he invited her to open for him – so long as she wrote some original material. Cue Sun, some vocal guidance from her older sister, a successful first performance, and she was soon recording the song at OSR, using session time earned by her choir in exchange for assisting at the studio’s annual festival. Her brother suggested she submit the track to Norway’s version of BBC Introducing and not only was it was picked up, but she was soon announced as their artist to watch. The first song she had ever written resulted in phone calls from managers and labels, and if she’s honest (she is), she was a little overwhelmed.

Sigrid was snapped up by Norwegian indie label Petroleum, also home to her friend Aurora and attempted to juggle school and music for a while. “It was just so hard to find time for things. I couldn’t do shows. I couldn’t do promo. I had a history test to revise for!”. Her third single with them was immediately playlisted on national radio, but she needed time to figure out what she wanted to do and eventually, at 18 - just three years ago - she moved further down the West coast to Bergen where she found herself a part of its burgeoning music scene. 

Fast forward to Sigrid signing to Island Records in September 2016 and launching Don’t Kill My Vibe in February 2017, the pop star now splits her time between Bergen and the back of a tour van. She still counts the music she was raised on as her main influence and is occupying a wonderful space somewhere between the slightly leftfield pop of Danish singer MØ and the butterfly-inducing something special of a young Adele. “I guess the key thing that’s always inspired me is really well written pop songs,” she decides. “Playing piano and singing whatever comes naturally is the best thing for me.”  

Sigrid’s debut single Don’t Kill My Vibe was written after she was put in a difficult writing session with some older men who, well, killed her vibe. “They made me feel like I was in the way. I totally got that they might not be excited to work with me, but they didn’t have to be rude!” she explains. “I wish I had just told them, but in that moment I chose to back away and write about it later on.” Thank god she did, because the result is a completely addictive pop banger produced by Martin Sjølie, full of playful melodies, a huge chorus and the perfect dose of “hey!” 

The Don’t Kill My Vibe EP, released last May, was a window into what was to come from the precocious popstar. All very much autobiographical, the record featured the just as impressive Fake Friends - also produced by Sjølie and as empowering as the lead - and Dynamite, a powerful and heartstring-tugging ballad (she can do those too - really well) about juggling work and private life. Plot Twist, meanwhile, is about a guy who played a role in her love life. With dynamic range and impressive control, her vocals reach powerful raspy heights with flashes of Hometown Glory-era Adele throughout.

Sigrid was the talk of the festival season last year, storming the stages of SXSW, The Great Escape, Roskilde, Glastonbury, Latitude, Iceland Airwaves, Pitchfork Paris, Øya and more with her band, who also happen to be her best friends. On 14 March 2018, as part of a sold-out tour of the UK, she played the iconic Shepherd’s Bush Empire and became so overwhelmed with emotion that she started crying on stage - so much so that the audience sang the whole opening verse of Don’t Kill My Vibe without her, hitting every note. “That was really special,” she says. “I just had difficulties holding it back. It was just very emotional because it felt like such a magical show.”

In the summer of 2018, she'll be gracing Coachella with her presence before heading off on a U.S. tour and eventually returning to London to headline Somerset House in July - her show sold out before anybody else’s, naturally. It’s no surprise that Sigrid has become renowned for her live performances; with an abundance of idiosyncratic energy – the synergy between the band and Sigrid is mature beyond their years. “I like the challenge,” she laughs. “People sometimes stand with their arms crossed and if I can get them to move then I’ve won.” A point is often made of Sigrid’s casual stage uniform of jeans and a plain white t-shirt, but she doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. “I’m just doing what all the male rock stars have done forever,” she points out. “I don’t think it’s special or unique - it’s just my everyday work outfit! I feel very liberated in jeans, I can dance in them.”

Sigrid’s Raw EP shows, she says, “not a different side, but a side of my music that maybe hasn’t had that much light on it before. The first EP was quite powerful but this one is a bit mellow and I really, really like it. There are definitely some proper tunes.” She spells out her longstanding message of staying true to yourself on the title track, and the accompanying video reinforces this further. It’s a live version, with a slight twist, that shows the everyday magic of being on tour. “I feel very lucky because I’m having a great time. You’ve got to enjoy it, or what’s the point?” Reflecting on her previous ambitions, Sigrid’s dreams of getting a song on the soundtrack of The Sims (she’s a massive fan) and meeting a kangaroo (her Australian tour earlier this year sorted that out) have already come true. And at the rate her career is unfolding, she’s going to have to think much bigger than that.

Fans will have to wait until later this year for the all-important first album, but their idol is in no rush to finish it. “It’s very important to me that everything I release says something. I’m constantly writing. You can look at the music as numbers, but it’s when you see people’s faces in the crowd and they’re singing back to you and having a good time then it means something,” she says. “I’ve seen groups of girls singing and crying along to Dynamite together, so to see that your songs can mean something to a group of friends, it makes me feel like I’m doing something right.”

With all the continent hopping she’s doing these days, Sigrid can’t help but look back to that island, “I think my new dream is to buy a house on Giske and live there with my cat. Seriously, it would be so cool to invite people over to write music and then bike over to the studio together to record it.” But until then, she’s got an arsenal of intelligent, meaningful pop tunes to share with the world, and a big plan. “My big master plan is to love writing music for the rest of my life; to keep that nerve and make music that means something to me.”

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Seeb

Starting with their truly game-changing remix of Mike Posner’s ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’ through to their work with the likes of Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Tove Lo, OneRepublic and Dagny, chances are that you’ve heard the music of Seeb or at least their influence – even if you may not know who they are.

Simen Eriksrud and musical partner Espen Berg formed Seeb through their love of defying genre and chasing the most fresh and original sounds. They scored a Hype Machine No.1 with their remix of Kiesza’s ‘Cut Me Loose’, before extending their unique technique of vocal chopping on their globe-conquering take on Mike Posner’s ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’. It hit No.2 on the Global Spotify Chart, No.4  on Billboard Hot 100, became a world radio and dancefloor smash, soon becoming the second most played song globally in 2016.

Before long, they gave their spin on Shawn Mendes’ ‘Stitches’, Chris Martin invited them to remix Coldplay’s ‘Hymn For The Weekend’, they gave a new sense of colour to Taylor Swift’s ‘Delicate’, OneRepublic asked them to collaborate on ‘Rich Love’ and their adventurous and runaway original tracks with the likes of Skylar Grey and Dagny had them amassing over 4billion streams in just two years.

Now, they’ve teamed up with Bastille on their epic new single ‘Grip’ – a track that carries their signature blend of melancholy and euphoria, of dance music with a human sensibility.  As Bastille’s Dan Smith himself sings on ‘Grip’: “Who knows where our limits lie? We won’t discover ‘til we push it”. With their own music, their own vision and living on their own terms, they’re taking things far beyond what they or anyone else ever thought possible. Now it’s time for the world to catch up with Seeb. You will know their name.

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RAY BLK

“This is my story - done my way. It’s about seeing yourself, knowing what you deserve and it’s for girls to wake up and see themselves as empresses.”

Ray BLK, real name,  Rita Ekwere, is telling her story on her own terms. The 24-year-old South Londoner grew up in Catford/Lewisham via Lagos where she lived until she was four, and is discussing how her view of the world was always going to be shared, one way or another. “I have strong visions” she giggles. “I know I’ve got that black girl magic inside me, and you can hear it now”.

Her early memories of home away from home created visual notes of an imaginary homeland and speaking about leaving Nigeria she says, “I don’t have any clear memories, just some visual flashbacks from the house I was born in but besides that I don’t have much recollection. But I’ve always felt incredibly connected to my culture because I’ve been raised as a Nigerian girl in my house”.

The house she grew up in was soundtracked by gospel music, predominantly - Kirk Franklin, Fred Holland, and Cece Winans, alongside the occasional Mary J Blige “blasted” by her mum. (“It was a Christian home with Christian music but the power of Mary’s vocal range made the cut!). Ray was inspired by the vocals - and her fascination and desire to sing was supported by her local Pentecostal church which she would attend every Sunday. She’s laughing at the musical education it gave her.

“I joined the adult choir when I was around 10” she recalls, “and started singing there every Sunday and every Friday evening doing service. That’s where I learned how to sing because I never got professional singing lessons I was kind of just listening to Mariah Carey and Mary J Blige and my mum’s Whitney CDs and just copying them. Then I was in the choir where they taught me about harmonies and vocal arrangement and projecting.”

She cites Nigerian gospel song “Igwe” as being one her favourite songs to sing then - and now - and that church for her, was as much about dance as it was about the singing. In school, she describes being “huddled in a corner with the boys, and someone would be playing a grime beat off of their Nokia phone”. Buoyed by her love of grime beats in the playground of Bromley’s Bones Pastor school from local grime crews Nu Brand Flexx, she decided to start her own schoolyard band called New Found Content, (“terrible, terrible name!”) made up of her and three boys, one of which was artist and schoolmate MNEK. They continued to collaborate together for fun, in and out of school in his dad’s garage.

“It all kind of developed in my bedroom or in the studio at MNEK’s because I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere” she laughs. “As I said, I was raised in a Nigerian household so it was like, ‘you will go to school, you will come home and you will read your book’ and that was about it. So I was never part of club culture.” Instead, she wrote love songs in MNEK’s garage, where she would make “guitar noises with my voice and then write the words and put it all together” with MNEK producing songs. It was all makeshift - as a pop shield microphone they’d use his mums tights.

It was after university where she studied English Literature that Ray decided that she wanted to pursue music full time. She started writing songs from her experiences of love - unlike many of her peers, it wasn’t club culture that ignited her desire for making songs you could dance to, it was heartbreak and girlhood. “I went to clubs sometimes and I’d think, ‘I want to channel that energy’ but I’d never really listen to those sort of songs” she says, “so I just kind of made what I listened to which was more soulful songs and rap songs as opposed to chasing a club banger.”

Instead of the club, she fell in love with the live music circuit, playing small shows in London from open mic nights to showcases where she met local MC Stormzy, (who she’d later appear in the video of Big For Your Boots alongside a line-up of UK black music royalty)  and artist Kojey Radical. She released a mixtape called Miss Havisham in 2015 (named after the Dickens book) and would send tracks out “to everyone!” asking to perform at shows. She continued writing, and observing what the creative music community was doing at the time and it was then that she wrote My Hood, an ode to south London which connected enough that it led to nomination in the BBC Sound List - that she won in 2017.

After that things blew up. “Everything was brand new to me like being on TV, being on the news that I’d usually watch in the morning and going to festivals for the first time to perform. It was quite overwhelming. It was all over; Europe, I did an American tour, I went on tour with Emeli Sande, did all the festivals whilst trying to find bits of time in the studio.”

In the background of her success, Ray was in a relationship that she says, set the foundation for this project, Empress. While she was touring, she was also writing, fresh from the thrill of love and the dizzying excitement of learning about herself as an artist and a girl approaching womanhood. Discussing it she says,

“What kind of kicked it off was where I was in life at the time; really quite happy. I was in a bad relationship before and when I was thinking back to it I was really disappointed I let someone treat me the way he did. I kind of made a vow to myself that I was going to choose better and not love myself any less and I got into this relationship which made me really happy at the time and that just influenced the songs. It’s why I wanted to talk about how much people should love themselves and show themselves respect”.

The project, is bursting with love. Aside from the name, which she says, is an ode to black girls glorifying their inner “black girl magic” in an industry that doesn’t always allow for that, the project is an R&B pop thrill. “I want women to see themselves as queens” she says.

The regal power of Empress transmits the message loud and clear. Recorded over two years, it has notes of sensual, upbeat soul thanks to production from Egg White who worked on Adele’s first album, Fraser T Smith, fresh from making Stormzy’s debut and Oak Felder who worked with Demi Lovato and Nicki Minaj, and Mr Hudson who DM’ed her suggesting they get in a studio together.

It’s the injections of lightness and fun pared with rich, bubbling melodies that make this project so thrilling. Relationships still make up are still central to Ray’s music but now they are part of a richer fabric – growth, fun and contagion. Feminine without being saccharine, her deep, brooding tone on Empress carries us through euphoria, heartache and melancholy, allowing her uncompromising joy and vulnerability to take centre stage as she moves between fun and calm reflection.  

Her pulsing lead single was written in New York while she was reflecting on her younger years, ‘Run Run’ sees catchy toplines bounce and burst as she invites us into her storytelling about her life as she demands, “You better Run, Run” it’s a powerful declaration. Discussing it, she says, “It’s the story of the first time I ever saw a gun being pulled out at a party when I was 15…the second verse is about when my house actually got robbed and my mum was in it. The beat was going and  it just gave me a story and it sounded like a song that a story should be told in.  I kind of just contemplating all the things I think and things I know, and I decided to share it. It’s not technical for me, I go with the feeling that the beat gives me. It gave me the feeling of being young again, of having something to say and finally finding a way to say it.” The video is an artistic outpouring of frustration which follows the frantic, torrid run of a young man and Ray, on her knees, pleading: “You better run run/We don’t want to lose another one”. For Ray BLK, the music is authentic, making sense of her life and filing it’s hard edges down to deliver her brand of charisma that you can’t help but sing along to.  

On Empress, a slowed-down tongue in cheek run down of past lovers, produced by Simon Aldred, she sings, “I don’t want to settle for less /‘Cos I’m an empress got to big up you chest even if it hurts”. It’s a well-paced lone voice with a guitar accompaniment and she creates space to demand respect while sharing the comedy of past attempts at love. Speaking about it she’s laughing, “I’ve kissed some frogs to get there and I just wanted to write about that really.” On Got my Own, atop thrilling bass claps and pop harmonies you can almost hear the laugh as she tells us that she “don’t need yours/’cos I got my own” .

Empress is a truly cathartic R&B/Soul record that brims with youthful exuberance and wisdom of lived experience. It’s refreshing and slickly produced, with a thrillingly playful relationship with the mainstream.

On Just A Kid, produced by Mr Hudson, she recalls her childhood. “You don’t know about my story” she sings, brimming with rich, warm tones, imploring us not to underestimate her. For Ray, this is a chance to tell her story, and we’re here, listening in as she takes us to heady heights, getting up and dancing, listening closely, desperate to hear more.

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Olivia O'Brien

Olivia O’Brien will always let you know exactly what’s on her mind.

The 18-year-old Los Angeles-based critically acclaimed multiplatinum singer and songwriter doesn’t hide her feelings. Instead, she lets them loose through clever, confessional, and cathartic anthems akin to journal entries—no filter, straight talk, and often raw AF. In doing so, the artist positions herself as a voice for those who need it.

She’s like the friend you can tearfully text at three in the morning, and she’ll understand…

“We all go through the same things,” she exclaims. “A lot of people don’t know how to put their emotions into words for themselves, so I feel like I can do that for them. I started writing for myself, because I didn’t think anyone could relate. I thought nobody else felt the same. Once I got a response, I realized we all feel this way. Why not bring up all of the sad shit we go through in music and maybe we can all get better in the process?”

That approach transformed her into something of a modern pop diarist. Immersed in music since childhood, she went from learning guitar and piano at seven-years-old to recording voice notes of song ideas by the age of fifteen. After meeting gnash on Twitter, the budding songwriter sent him the voice note that transformed into their 2015 triple-platinum smash duet, “i hate u, i love u.”

Striking a chord, Olivia inked a deal with Island Records and served up a string of solo hits, including “Empty,” “No Love,” and “RIP”—which attracted G-Eazy and Drew Love of THEY. for a high-power remix. With over a quarter-of-a-billion streams to her credit by 2018, Paper Magazine touted her among 100 women “Revolutionizing Pop Music,” and The Coveteur proclaimed her one of six artists “Taking Over Our Summer Playlists.Further praise came from NYLON, V Magazine, Idolator, and more as her fan base dramatically burgeoned.

Along the way, Olivia grew up as both a musician and a young woman.

“My entire life changed in every possible way you could ever imagine,” she admits. “I was in high school when I put ‘i hate u, I love u’ on Soundcloud. Now, I live in L.A. I’m a professional singer and songwriter. I also really didn’t know what the fuck I was doing when I started. It’s not that there’s a correct way to make music, but I felt like I was starting from scratch. This year, I think I’ve finally figured it out.”

Inspired by embracing different genres and eras in 2018, the songstress broadened her horizons and fell in love with Fleetwood Mac, Whitney Houston, The Supremes, and “fucking Al Green.At the same time, she emphasized including the guitar and drawing from this swath of influences “as inspiration to do a lot of crazy and weird shit.” That would only be fueled by meeting producer-writer duo The Priest and The Family.

“They’re the perfect collaborators for me,” she continues. “They instantly got me. This is the sound I’ve been moving towards the whole time, but they were the missing piece. I’ve come full circle.”

Olivia introduces this next chapter with the single “UDK.” Powered by a sharp guitar riff, waves of synths, and “Hotline Bling”-style drums, it coils from simmering verses into an incendiary refrain that’s simultaneously slick and soulful.

“Lyrically, it’s about how people in this day and age will see you on social media and immediately start assuming things about you,” she sighs. “They look at your outfits, hair, face, where you live, and stupid details on the internet. From that, they think they know you. They don’t know anything. We’re all guilty of it. In L.A., social media is everything—whether you’re in music, movies, or modeling. It’s like you have to be on it. I’m just tired of it, and I’m not holding back.”

The follow-up single “I Don’t Exist” thrives on diary-worthy directness over an infectiously off-kilter backbeat.

“After a few months of writer’s block, I came up with that line ‘I Don’t Exist’,” she recalls. “It was so simple, but it was real. The song just fell together after that. It didn’t have to be complicated or flowery. I know how it feels to be an outcast in a place where everyone is perfect like L.A. In high school, I felt the same way. I’m just regular; I don’t fit in with these popular kids. I always felt a little bit off, weird, and different. It’s okay because everyone does though.”

In the end, that’s exactly why Olivia’s music will resonate in the hearts and minds of fans for a very long time to come.

“I just hope listeners can relate,” she leaves off. “I’d love for someone to listen and be like, ‘This changed my life’.”

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NOTD

NOTD is made up of 19-year old Tobias Danielsson and 17-year old Samuel Brandt, who met one another on Soundcloud prior to attending the same high school in southern Sweden, where Samuel is still enrolled. Prior to focusing on original music, the pair was called upon by pop music's elite for official remixes; Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Alessia Cara, and Rihanna have all received the NOTD "touch".

NOTD has been featured multiple times in Billboard Magazine and quickly have accumulated over 200 Million streams across all digital platforms since their first release in November 2016. Their breakout came once their remix of “Romantic” by Stanaj (Lava/Republic) exploded on Spotify and recently has surpassed 95 Million streams. Their official remix of “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran was the #1 Electronic Song on Soundcloud for eight weeks straight, was named best remix of that song by Billboard, and has over 18 Million plays to date.

Fresh off a nomination for "Remix of The Year" at the inaugural Electronic Music Awards, the duo released their debut single "Summer of Love" (feat. Dagny) on August 11, 2017. Their follow up single, ‘I Wanna Know’ ft. Bea Miller, is slated for a March 16, 2018 release.

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Nick Jonas

Multi-platinum, Grammy and Golden Globe nominated recording artist, actor, and award winning songwriter, Nick Jonas released his self-titled debut album in November 2014. The critically-acclaimed album included the double-platinum and #1 U.S. radio hit, “Jealous” and his sultry chart-climbing radio single, “Chains.” A recipient of the Songwriters Hall of Fame's prestigious Hal David Starlight Award, Jonas released his sophomore solo album ‘Last Year Was Complicated’ in June 2016. The album, which included the platinum hit "Close" featuring Tove Lo, debuted as the #1 selling album of the week. In 2017, Nick released a new single “Find You” off of his upcoming album. Jonas also co-wrote an original song titled “Home” for the movie FERDINAND, released by FOX Animation. The song was nominated for 2018 Golden Globe in the category of “Best Original Song.” As an actor, Jonas garnered unanimous critical praise for his lead role in the 2016 Sundance Film Festival favorite GOAT. He also appeared in a guest-starring role in the Fox's horror-comedy series, "Scream Queens.” Jonas starred in the gritty television show "Kingdom," a mixed martial arts drama that premiered in the fall of 2014. Jonas can currently be seen alongside Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, Sony’s reimagining of 1995’s JUMANJI. The film has passed “Spider-Man” to become Sony’s highest-grossing film ever at the U.S. box office. Jonas most recently completed production on Lionsgate's post-apocalyptic thriller, CHAOS WALKING, which also stars Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland, and is scheduled for release in March 2019. 

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