By Geoffrey Rowlands
Most music stars genuinely appreciate their fans. They recognise the importance of their following. Without the people who love their records, they would be scratching a living from gigs in small, local venues or maybe not even in the music business at all.
Danish DJ/producer Martin Jensen takes the relationship with his fans a step further. He is not only grateful for their support but encourages all those who follow him on his social media platforms to become actively involved in his musical development.
“I don’t know if this is actually unique in the music world,” smiled 25-year-old Martin. “I want my fans to be an important part of my career not just in the sense of enjoying and buying my music but deciding which snippets they want me to develop into full tracks.”
The snippets to which Martin is referring are very brief samples from videos posted on Facebook or YouTube. He rips sounds from these sources and creates tracks based around them.
His 2015 debut single, Si, is the perfect example. It was inspired by the cry of joy uttered by football star Cristiano Ronaldo after winning the 2014 Ballon d’Or as world footballer of the year.
“Cristiano shouted out Si when his name was announced as winner of the Ballon d’Or. The spontaneity and happiness of that shout prompted me to create music around it. I was already making music around funny or unusual sounds taken from videos but this was the first time a word spoken at a particular event provided the inspiration for me to develop a track.
“The music I created for Si got 12,000 likes on my Facebook page in just one day. Everything snowballed from there. My record label, Disco: wax, released Si as my first single. It was a huge success in the dance music clubs and then got into some Scandinavian mainstream listings despite only being available as a digital download.”
Si has now been played more than one million times on Martin’s SoundCloud page. The official music video, possibly helped by a dozen female models playing football while dressed only in their underwear, has notched up two and a half million views.
His follow-up, Night After Night, did not prove so successful. But Martin was back on form with his third single, Miracles. This was his first work to include more than just a word or phrase of lyrics and featured Danish singer (Peter) Bjornskov who also co-wrote the track with Martin, Lene Dissing and Mads Hjerl-Hansen.
“This was what you could call my first proper song. My earlier tracks were simply electronic dance music floor fillers. Miracles had a slower beat with a full set of genuinely meaningful lyrics.”
The track became Martin’s first mainstream top 30 hit and significantly boosted his following among those people who were not specifically EDM fans. This number increased still further with the release of All I Wanna Do. Co-written with Lene Dissing and Bjornskov, who again provided the vocals, the song became another big mainstream hit reaching the top ten in Norway and peaking at number 11 in Denmark.
“The mainstream hits have got me noticed. My DJ work was going well before this happened. But I’m now inundated with work offers from all over the world. The problem is having to say ‘no’ to so many people. I don’t like doing that. I always want to say ‘yes’ when people ask me to play DJ sets for them. But I just can’t keep up with the demand.”
The demand will be even greater thanks to the enormous international success of Martin’s latest single, Solo Dance. In addition to top ten placings in several other countries, it has become his breakthrough UK hit so far peaking at number eight.
Despite being co-written by the same quartet responsible for Miracles, Bjornskov is not the featured vocalist.
“I wanted to use a female vocal this time. I found this great singer, loved her voice and was able to get her into the studio to make the track. She wants no publicity at the moment so I won’t say her name. She doesn’t appear in the video and you’ll see her face is never shown even if you watch the footage of us in the studio on Facebook.”
Does Martin have an album in the pipeline?
“I’m sure it will happen in due course but I’m just happy to release singles and play DJ sets. An interviewer once asked me which musical genre I’d perform if I wasn’t an EDM DJ and producer. I couldn’t give him an answer. I’ve never considered anything but electronic dance music. I’m so lucky to be able to travel the world doing the thing I love most.”
Fun singer and multi-instrumentalist Jack Antonoff is back on the scene with new music from his side project, Bleachers.
Consisting simply of Jack and any friends he might rope in to perform on individual tracks, Bleachers’ 2014 debut album, Strange Desire, proved highly popular. It peaked at number 11 on the Billboard 200 and hit second spot on both the Top Rock Albums and Top Alternative Albums charts.
Although Bleachers’ debut single, I Wanna Get Better, topped the Alternative Songs chart and the other three singles all fared well in the genre charts, none made the Hot 100.
This lack of mainstream chart success may well be changed by the recent release of Don’t Take The Money. Featuring additional vocals by Lorde, it is the lead single from Bleachers’ as-yet-untitled sophomore album which is set to be issued on June 2.
There is no official video at present to accompany the song but an official audio posting can be heard at www.youtube.com/watch?v=06ruzN27AHg
Official videos for songs from Strange Desire, audio postings, remixes and live performances can all be found at www.youtube.com/user/BleachersVEVO/videos
Waiting on a Song is the forthcoming second solo album from Black Keys singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer Dan Auerbach. Scheduled for release on June 2, it is the long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s Keep It Hid, which can be heard in full at www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M1wSv4hHVQ
Although Dan is a highly skilled guitarist in his own right, he has called upon Dire Straits guitar wizard Mark Knopfler to contribute his musical talent to Shine on Me, the lead single from Dan’s new album. The accompanying video is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfVRCDb0G8Q
While fan reaction has been generally positive, many suggest Shine on Me is nothing like Dan’s work with The Black Keys or even his previous solo album. But it is similar to the songs on Yours, Dreamily, the 2015 debut album from Dan’s side band, The Arcs.
This record was originally conceived as a solo project. But it developed into a group effort as the musicians who worked with Dan made their songwriting contributions to all but two of the 14 tracks.
Chuck Berry’s final album will be released on June 16.
The rock and roll legend, who died last month, had been working on a collection of new recordings for some time. His first new studio album since Rock It, which was issued in 1979, Chuck features contributions from artists such as Gary Clark Jr., Tom Morello and Nathaniel Rateliff. It also features Chuck’s children, Charles Berry Jr. and Ingrid, on guitar and harmonica.
The new album has been preceded by the lead single, Big Boys. Sounding like it could have come straight from Chuck’s heyday in the late 1950s, an official audio posting of Big Boys can be heard at www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8Zoh-apWRE
Dutch singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annelotte de Graaf is better known to fans of indie music as Amber Arcades.
She holds bachelor’s and master’s law degrees, worked as an aide at the United Nations international war crimes tribunal and assessed the claims of refugees granted asylum in the Netherlands. She also recorded a self-funded 2016 debut album, Fading Lines, which attracted enormous critical acclaim.
A new EP will soon be released. Two tracks, It Changes and Can’t Say That We Tried, are available now. They are the latest postings at (no www.) soundcloud.com/amber-arcades. Many of her earlier recordings can also be found here.
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