"Taking it in its deepest sense, the shadow is the invisible saurian tail that man still drags behind him. Carefully amputated, it becomes the healing serpent of the mysteries." — CG Jung
Are you ready for a new pop icon who appears fully formed, perfectly realised, with no rough edges and a cast-in-stone persona? Well keep looking. The bad news — and this is the best bad news you’ll hear for some time — is that pop’s most extraordinary new talent is far from complete, with the momentum of Allie X’s futuristic, shape-shifting persona matched only by the propulsive thrust of her captivating music.
Since arriving online in 2014, the Toronto-born, LA-based singer songwriter’s radio-ready electronic pop and bold visual style caused instant waves internationally. Even in the hyperbole-strewn landscape of contemporary pop criticism her plaudits stand out as uncommonly positive. Time magazine called ‘Catch’ a "perfect pop debut single” while Pitchfork likened it to “a shot of adrenaline straight to the chest” and Dazed deemed its creator “a small pop miracle”. Allie’s main visual at this point — a maniacal spinning GIF — was one of the reasons Interview magazine praised Allie X for establishing
“her own language for music and art — reinventing the way the music industry operates”. Katy Perry, meanwhile, breezily declared ‘Catch’ her “summer jam”, and tweeted it to over 50m followers. Allie’s drip-fed releases picked up further coverage from The Fader, Vice, Popjustice and V Magazine.
But there was more to this than a smattering of great songs and a couple of captivating GIFs. In May 2015, Allie self-published an autobiographical comic book in which her life, or the side of her life she chooses to show, was brought to life in stark monochrome. The book tells the story of Allie’s search for a missing part of herself, and her relationship with her shadow self, a reference to her fascination with Jungian archetypes. “Everybody has a shadow,” she explains. “If you choose to ignore it, it will drag you down. If you recognise and come to understand your dark side it can actually be useful.”
For Allie X this has also involved identifying the parts of herself that she no longer relates to, and leaving them behind. The X she added to her name for this phase of her career is not insignificant. “If you need to become anonymous and wipe the slate clean, X gives you the power to do that,” she explains. “In mathematics, X represents the unknown quantity: it’s full of possibility. Once all the questions are solved, X becomes something else.” At that point, she explains, Allie X will have found the missing part of herself. “Eventually, if all goes according to plan, I won’t be Allie X any more,” she adds, with words that will strike fear into the hearts of anyone with a meticulously arranged iTunes library. “I’ll just be Allie.”
By summer 2015 Allie X’s ‘CollXtion 1’, a collection of singles and other media that was neither an EP nor an album, had certainly unveiled a fierce songwriting talent, but it was the method of delivery and accompanying imagery that cementing her status as an artist who refuses to accept that creativity ends when you leave the recording studio. “For a long time I worked in my bedroom on my music and not really telling anyone,” she recalls today. The strength of that writing led to a publishing deal and a move to LA, where she slept on a studio floor and created one hundred songs in one summer in the hope of realising her vision.
“I often feel a need to go left when everyone else goes right,” Allie admits, and while the melodies of her songs are as accessible as can be, Allie’s evolving persona throws more confusion than answers. If this sounds a bit all over the place, well… Yeah. That’s the point. “Confusion is what drives me,” Allie shrugs. “Part of the reason I’m creating is to better understand myself.”
Scratch the surface of most performers and you find their true self; Allie X’s project is layer upon layer. At its heart: something Allie herself has yet to identify. “I see this thing sometimes when people reach a certain age: they make a decision that they’re fully formed,” she says. “They stop evolving. They settle into patterns. I’m anti-that. I don’t want to ever be that.”
As well as continuing to evolve, Allie X has continued to revolve: the spinning GIFs that introduced her to the world introduced a motif that’s central to Allie’s work. “The dizzying and confusing effect is a feeling I relate to,” she explains. “It’s a representation of how I feel living on this planet.”
Situating Allie X in the popcultural cosmos isn’t simple: at first glance hers may seem to be a persona that orbits Lady Gaga and Lilith Sternin-Crane, but it’s hard to ignore the gravitational pull of other artists who understood, as Allie X does, that the right medium can perfectly amplify the right message. In this bracket she includes Kate Bush, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, The Weeknd, Björk and Lana Del Rey. “I’m inspired by people who’ve made experimental music and found a way to reach a mainstream audience,” Allie explains. “The juxtaposition is what’s interesting, and it’s also the great challenge. I enjoy that songwriting is so weird and so incredibly fascinating. I’ll be writing until I die; it’s the greatest and most exciting challenge there is.”
For the time being, Allie X understands that communicating her music is as much of a legitimate artform as that music’s creation, a sensibility brought to life in her live shows. And it makes sense that she’s been collaborating on music with kindred spirit Troye Sivan, who shares Allie’s view that releasing music as a series of EPs and self-contained moments conjures a huge amount of space for both versatility and speedy growth. The rhythm established by this new generation of artists may make little sense to those brought up on a strict diet of singles and albums, but Allie relishes the possibilities.
“The world is very chaotic,” she shrugs. “The more we embrace that chaos the more fun we’ll have. I hope to inspire people to look at life more objectively, to see that there is no one side to anything, or anyone. For every person there’s a darker side and a lighter side. You can’t ignore one or the other — you can embrace both. You have the power to create your own truth.”
The next step of Allie X’s creative evolution is unknown, even to Allie X, but the music she creates along the way is guaranteed to move and excite. Most pop stars say they’ve got it all figured out. Allie knows she hasn’t — but she’s using her music, and everything around it, to find answers.
And Allie X might not be the only one finding out about themselves. Having already established a hardcore international fanbase she’s found that she’s not alone in looking for answers, and that her image is less standoffish than it might at first appear. “X should feel like a safe place anyone can go and find sanctuary,” she smiles. “A world that they can create for themselves.”
Leland is a 19-year-old Los Angeles based artist who was raised in Arizona. Under the same team as Mike B. and Jazz&TheGiant, through Platinum Standard, Leland's music has a high influence of jazz infused with hip-hop. Following the footsteps of his famous grandfather, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, member of the famous Motown act the Four Tops, Leland is determined to bring what he says, real music.
Soon To Be Somebody, Leland's first project was released earlier this month. The mix tape is produced by Oscar Castellanos (aka Mr. Oscar), which includes 12 tracks and a bonus track with the vibes of hip-hop soul and creative lyricism. This project was inspired to create music from the inner depths of Leland's heart and his yearning to pursue the dream of becoming an artist.
FYOHNA is an electronic pop duo focused on achieving emotional warmth and expansive atmospheres through live performance and powerful yet tender vocal
presence. Think of it as a novel blend of warm synths à la James Blake and sequenced drums that pull from the expansiveness of trap, the complexity of west African rhythms, and the moods of trip hop equally. Songs are reminiscent of the more reflective singersongwriters of the past decade—think of Feist, St. Vincent, and Cat Power.
Atmospheres range from the catchy sweetness found in “Believe You” and “Ghost Heart” to the mellow brooding that carries the song “Misjudged”. The band’s first single, “Ghost Heart”, was released on March 9th, and has been featured on Spotify’s most relevant playlists.Their 4 song EP will be officially released
on Apr 28.
“Multi-layered, yet refined, performance soundscapes. Lush, yet tender, vocal prowess.
Familiar, yet inventive, instrumental underpinnings.”
- Ones To Watch
- Buzzbands LA
“The whirling, somewhat isolated beauty of FYOHNA immediately grabs you..”
- The Deli Magazine