SHREYA PREETI CHATS “UPSIDE DOWN”, SOCIAL MEDIA & HER UNIQUE SELLING POINT 0 26

Shreya Preeti has had a love of music since she was young, dropped her first EP back in 2017 and and in the past year, has well and truly made her mark on the music scene with the release of FIVE singles. Shreya dropped her latest track “Upside Down” at the end of January and she spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about her artistic influences, being her own harshest critic and her one big goal for 2020.

TITL: At what age did you first realise you wanted to make music a career and was there a particular band or artist/song or album that impacted that decision? 

Shreya Preeti: I was a late bloomer in the music industry and only realized in 2017 when I was 22 that I wanted to make music my career – that was entirely thanks to my boyfriend, Dex, who was the first producer that I worked with, and still produces almost all of my records. At that point, I was obsessed with Kehlani and wanted to make music that sounded exactly like hers. I’ve since had the fortunate realization that I can’t be Kehlani, because she already exists, and I need to make music that represents myself. But, I’ve been in love with singing and music since I was a little kid. I first realized I could hold a pitch when Kelly Clarkson’s, ‘Breakaway’ album came out in 2004 – I would blast that record on my blue boombox and realized one day that I was actually sounding pretty good compared to her.

TITL: Which bands and artists would you say most inspire you when it comes to the music you make?

SP: Overall, I think I’m heavily influenced by long-time artists who have been able to consistently release music that changes with them. Off the top of my head, I think of artists like John Mayer, Beyonce, Prince, and The Beatles, when I think of artists who inspire me to continue doing what feels right for me. I’m always so impressed and happy when I go to look at these artists’ catalogs and continue to find little gems of records that I hadn’t connected with before. Right now, I’m feeling really inspired by disco music, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Bee Gee’s and Whitney Houston, as well as more current artists like Dua Lipa (LOVE where she’s going with Pop Disco, oh my gosh), as well as Lennon Stella (her voice is butter). 

TITL: If you had to describe yourself and your music in four words what would you say? 

SP: All over the place. If I can use four more words, I’d say “in a good way.”

TITL: What would you say your unique selling point as an artist is?

SP: I think I have a voice that is versatile. I’ve released records that are straight Pop, and other records that range from alternative/rock-inspired stuff to Pop/R&B, to even some fun rock n roll stuff. One thing I’m really passionate about is increasing the representation that South Asians have in the music industry, so I think my ethnicity is a unique thing about it. 

TITL: From who or what do you most often find inspiration for your song-writing?

SP: I find a lot of inspiration from books that I read. Authors have the best ways of creatively phrasing an idea, and I’m constantly writing down phrases or concepts that I read in novels to try and use in a song.

TITL: There are many brilliant songs around, spanning the decades, but if you had to choose, which, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why? Where did the idea for your latest single “Upside Down” come from? Is there a particular story behind it? 

SP: Jeff Buckley’s, “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over.” Hands down. I get full-body shivers each and every time I listen to it.  “Upside Down” started as a demo that my boyfriend had created while I was at work one day. He showed it to me when I came home and said he had written the hook and first verse for me, and I instantly connected with its funky vibe and relatable lyrics of feeling like you miss someone the second they leave your sight. We played around with so many different productions and vocal delivery styles, and when we finally landed on its funky pop style, we knew it was a hit. I honestly get tired of listening to my own music once it’s released into the world (because I’ve been listening to demos for months at that point), but this is the first record that I honestly am not sick of – it’s so catchy and fun! 

TITL: You’ve said the track is inspired by several tracks including those by Prince, Dua Lipa and Aretha Franklin – how did you manage to blend all those influences and inspirations together to create it? 

SP: I think the production was heavily influenced by Prince’s self-titled album, and specifically the album’s leading track, “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” The vocal delivery is more of where I channeled Dua’s confident and sexy alto delivery. I feel like the Aretha comes in during that last chorus when I’m singing on top of the gang vocal, which I’m super proud of!

TITL: Are there plans for an EP or album in the works? 

SP: Right now I’m more leaning towards consistently releasing singles every month or so. I like being able to experiment with sounds and feel like if I did release an EP, it would be all over the place..

TITL: What about tour and performance plans? Any chance fans can see you in a town or city near them soon? 

SP: I’ve been holding myself back from doing shows because I think at my core, I’m scared of people not showing up, or me tanking a performance. But I’m challenging myself in 2020 to not worry as much about the surface level things, and actually am about to email a show coordinator right after I finish this interview to set up a first live performance in LA.

TITL: As well as praise, artists often face a lot of criticism from critics but do you pay much attention to or care much about what such people think? Do you ever find negative comments hurtful and how do you overcome how they make you feel?

SP: Honestly, I think I am still my main critic with my music. I feel really fortunate to be surrounded by people who build me up with constructive feedback and love. But I would hope that when I get to a point where I’m hearing more diverse opinions that I will be able to sort through what could actually help me grow as a human and artist, and what is just noise from someone who doesn’t actually know me. I think as long as I stay grounded, I’ll be able to handle those kinds of things that are thrown my way.

TITL: To what extent do you use social media, personally and professionally? Do you believe it’s at all possible for bands and artists to achieve success without being socially interactive these days and do you think there are any downsides to the industry in particular being so technology/connectivity driven?

S: Okay, I’m actually proud to say that I spend maybe an hour on Instagram each day, max. I just got the notification yesterday that I had reached my 2 hour “maximum” – I set that up in the settings so that I don’t go senile on that app – but that’s because I was looking at memes for a really long time while I could sleep, hahaha. I honestly think I could use to spend a little more time on social media so that I can be more consistent throughout my socials with announcements and following up with people who message me. But I think that as I’ve grown to be more secure with myself over time, I spend less of my day looking at other peoples’ endeavors. You know, I do think that it’s possible to be successful without social media, but when it makes everything that much more accessible, why try to take an unnecessary detour? 

TITL: Finally then, what’s the one BIG goal for this year? What do you want to tick off your bucket list as you work your way through 2020? 

S: I want to get on a Spotify editorial playlist by the end of 2020!! Spotify PLEASE!! I love my music and you will too!!! 

Check out “Upside Down” below and for more information on Shreya Preeti, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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JP SAXE TALKS “ITWWE”, UPCOMING PERFORMANCE PLANS & ARTISTIC INFLUENCES 0 20

2019 was a big year for JP Saxe, which saw him become somewhat of a staple on the lips – and social media accounts – of numerous celebs and music fans thanks to the release of “If The World Was Ending”, featuring Julia Michaels. Now, he’s kicking off 2020 with the release of his debut EP and has a run of UK shows taking place later this month. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with him to chat favourite artists, song-writing inspiration and his ambitions for the year ahead.

TITL: At what age did you first realise you wanted to make music a career and was there a particular band or artist/song or album that impacted that decision? 

JP Saxe: Around 19, when I moved to LA. At that time, I was listening to a lot of Justin Nozuka.

TITL: Which bands and artists would you say most inspire you when it comes to the music you make?

JP: Gershwin, Yesika Salgado, Julia Michaels. 

TITL: If you had to describe yourself and your music in four words what would you say? 

JP: Over-intellectualized but generally sincere. 

TITL: What would you say your unique selling point as an artist is?

JP: Asymmetrical jaw line. 

TITL: From who or what do you most often find inspiration for your song-writing?

JP: The feelings I don’t quite understand yet. 

TITL: There are many brilliant songs around, spanning the decades, but if you had to choose, which, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why?

JP: Itsy bitsy spider. It’s timeless. It will always go up the water spout.

TITL: Your latest single, “If The World Was Ending”, which features Julia Michaels, has proven to be a HUGE hit with several celebs posting and tweeting about the track. Did you ever expect or could you ever have anticipated the reaction it’s received? 

JP: Nope. It’s really fucking cool. 

TITL: How exactly did Julia come to be involved on the track? 

JP: She posted my song “25 In Barcelona” on IG. I messaged her, she said we should write, and we wrote ifwwe the day we met! 

TITL: The track was produced by Finneas, Billie Eilish’s brother who is also making quite a name for himself. What was the creative/productive process like between the two of you?

JP: So easy. He’s brilliant. All his instinct were spot on. 

TITL: Are there plans for an EP or album in the works? 

JP: My EP Hold It Together was released on Friday!

TITL: What about tour and performance plans? Any chance fans can see you in a town or city near them soon?

JP: Yup!! Europe with Lennon Stella and then at least another tour this year but likely and probably more.

TITL: As well as praise, artists often face a lot of criticism from critics but do you pay much attention to or care much about what such people think? Do you ever find negative comments hurtful and how do you overcome how they make you feel?

JP: I get compared only to other sexy gingers. I’m happy about it.

TITL: Taking into account all the praise you’ve received from users of social media, how do you feel about the industry’s – and society’s – apparent reliance on it?  Do you believe it’s at all possible for bands and artists to achieve success without being socially interactive these days and do you think there are any downsides to the industry in particular being so technology/connectivity driven?

JP: It’s just a tool. It can be a beautiful connector or a delimitating distractor. The differentiation is entirely in our own hands.

TITL: Finally then, what are your plans for 2020? After the success you’ve achieved so far, what’s the next goal for you to reach for and achieve? 

JP: Keep being myself and stay happy for the right reasons.

JP Saxe’s EP Hold It Together is available now and for more information on JP, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

RACHEL BOBBITT & JUSTICE DER TALK NEW MUSIC, ARTISTIC INFLUENCES & FUTURE PLANS 0 40

While some artists might be afraid to touch on delicate subjects, Rachel Bobbitt and Justice Der most certainly are not, as proven by the subject matter behind their latest single “Beneath Our Feet (Exit Music)” – death. Though the subject is difficult, the video to the track presents death in a friendly, yet eerie presence sort of way that feels almost familiar and perhaps may even encourage those to watch it to speak more openly about the issue itself. Currently working on new material, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with the duo to chat favourite songs, social media and ultimate ambitions.

TITL: Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you each first realise you had an interest in/passion for music and how did you come together?

Justice: I first realized I had a passion for music when I heard Breezin by George Benson in the car.

Rachel: I can’t really pinpoint an exact moment. My mom was playing a lot of folk music around the house when I was growing up, so I think it pretty quickly became an intuitive way for me to communicate my feelings and thoughts. We met at school in Toronto.

TITL: Which artists growing up made you think “I want to follow in their footsteps?”

R: Leonard Cohen.

J: George Benson.

TITL: Is there any particular artist you might say you sound similar to, or do you make a determined effort to just be yourselves and something fresh and new?

J: We are a blend of our influences, and our own sound. We are definitely inspired by many different artists, but also try to bring something new to everything we make.

TITL: What would you say is your unique selling point as a duo? What one thing makes you stand out from your many artistic counterparts?

R: It’s hard to say, we don’t think too much about our selling point.

TITL: Which bands and artists have most influenced you over the course of your career and how do those influences impact the music you make?

J: We have been heavily influenced by Alex G, Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy, Frank Ocean, Miles Davis, etc. These musicians all inspire us to create music we are passionate about and believe in. 

TITL: Is there a story behind your latest music video “Beneath Our Feet (Exit Music)?

R: The video is about being mortal. The ghost in the video represents the grim reaper. We wanted to try to present death in a lighthearted way.

TITL: Death is never an easy subject to broach, in any form, so why did you choose to do so through music? What do you hope people take from the story/meaning behind the song?

R: It has a lot to do with the age we have arrived at. We inevitably are confronted with thoughts of our own mortality more and more as we age. Through the song, we wanted people to try to think about death in a way that isn’t daunting, or overwhelmingly negative. It’s a song about putting a lighthearted spin on one of our biggest commonalities as people.

TITL: The track is taken from your album When This Plane Goes Down. For those who might not have heard it yet, how would you sum it up and could you each pick a favourite track?

R: The album is about growing up. Mine is “Alex.”

J: “Passed out Trees.”

TITL: Who or what most inspires your creativity when it comes to songwriting? Which song might you say is the greatest ever written and why?

J: We’re inspired by our experiences from our childhood and young adulthood.  The greatest song ever written is pretty hard, some of our favourites of all time are “Close To You” by The Carpenters, “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green and “Between the Bars” by Elliott Smith.

TITL: If you could put together your dream show with four bands or artists, living or dead, who would you choose and where would you play?

R: Frank Ocean, Elliott Smith, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen. Outside in rural Nova Scotia.

TITL: Do you have any performances/tour dates lined up? Where can music fans next check you out?

J: None as of right now, we’re working on new material to release in the spring.

TITL: To what extent do you use social media? What’s your view on how technologically ‘obsessed’ we as a society seem to be?

J: We don’t take social media too seriously. It’s important to have a sense of humour about it, and not spend too much time on it.

TITL: Finally then, given that so many bands and artists tend to fall by the wayside, what’s the long term goal for the two of you? Where would you like to see yourselves, personally and professionally, 5-10 years down the line?

R: Living humbly, putting out albums.

Check out “Beneath Our Feet (Exit Music) below and you can follow both Rachel Bobbitt and Justice Der on Instagram.