meta-scriptAdditional Performers Announced For Latin GRAMMYs | GRAMMY.com
Additional Performers Announced For Latin GRAMMYs
Nelly Furtado

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

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Additional Performers Announced For Latin GRAMMYs

Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizárraga, Chino y Nacho, Alejandro Fernández, and Nelly Furtado among latest artists announced to perform on the Latin GRAMMYs

GRAMMYs/Oct 22, 2021 - 11:47 pm

(For a complete list of 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY nominees, click here.)

Nominees Banda El Recodo, Chino y Nacho, ChocQuibTown, and Alejandro Fernández, as well as jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, are the latest artists added to the lineup for the 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards telecast, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Additionally, nominees Nelly Furtado and Mala Rodríguez will perform together on the Biggest Night in Latin Music.

Confirmed to present awards are current Latin GRAMMY nominees Vico C, Alex Cuba, and Tommy Torres; actors Kuno Becker and Gaby Spanic; Univision's "Primer Impacto" co-host Lourdes Stephen; and the reigning Miss Universe, Mexico's Ximena Navarrete. The Latin music industry's premier event is set for Nov. 11 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and will be broadcast live on the Univision Network from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central).

Additionally, the 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast ceremony will be streamed live internationally on ***www.latingrammy.com ***beginning at 2 p.m. PT. Winners in approximately 35 of the 46 Latin GRAMMY categories this year will be announced prior to the evening's telecast — kicking off a full evening of celebrating excellence in recorded Latin music from around the world. The Pre-Telecast will take place from 2–3 p.m. PT at Mandalay Bay and the live stream will remain on the site for 30 days following the event. Presenters and performers for the 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast will be announced shortly.

Female rapper Mala Rodríguez has two nominations: Best Urban Music Album for Dirty Bailarina, and Best Urban Song for "No Pidas Perdón."

Four-time Latin GRAMMY winner Banda El Recodo is nominated for Best Banda Album for Me Gusta Todo De Ti.

Reggaetón duo Chino y Nacho is up for Best Urban Music Album for Mi Niña Bonita.

The members of hip-hop trio ChocQuibTown — Gloria "Goyo" Martinez, Miguel "Slow" Martinez and Carlos "Tostao" Valencia — have a nod in Best Alternative Song for "De Donde Vengo Yo."

Two-time Latin GRAMMY winner Fernández is nominated for Best Ranchero Album for Dos Mundos Tradición.

GRAMMY winner Furtado has a nomination in the Best Female Pop Vocal Album category for Mi Plan.

Previously announced performers include Marc Anthony, Camila, Aida Cuevas, Pedro Fernández, Juan Luis Guerra, Enrique Iglesias, Jenni Rivera, Rosario, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Aleks Syntek, Johnny Ventura, and Wisin y Yandel, as well as a special performance by Prince Royce and Ben E. King. Previously announced presenters are Pepe Aguilar, Camilla Belle, Jorge Drexler, Kany García, Tito "El Bambino," and Alexa Vega. Actor/comedian Eugenio Derbez and actress/singer Lucero will co-host the Latin music industry's 11th annual premier event.

The 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards will be supported on radio via Univision Radio (the official Spanish-language radio network of the Latin GRAMMY Awards), and highlighted on the Internet at www.latingrammy.com and www.univisionmusica.com, including video interviews and photos, an extensive archive of past shows, and dedicated forums for fans to share their excitement leading up to the live broadcast. For access to the latest Latin GRAMMY news and photos, visit UnivisionMúsica.com on any Web-enabled mobile device.

Preceding the Awards show telecast, Univision will present exclusive "Noche De Estrellas" ("Night Of The Stars") coverage of the celebrity arrivals direct from the Latin GRAMMY Awards green carpet starting at 7 p.m. ET/PT (6 p.m. Central). Presented by "Nuestra Belleza Latina" host Giselle Blondet and "¡Mira Quién Baila!" co-host Chiquinquirá Delgado, "Noche De Estrellas" will feature live interviews and commentary on the stars and their fashions, and provide viewers an intimate and up-close look at Latin music's most glamorous gala event.

A limited number of tickets to the 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards are available to the public and may be purchased at the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office (877.632.7400) or through Ticketmaster.

For updates and breaking news, please visit The Latin Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.

How Rising Dance Star Dom Dolla Remixed The Gorillaz & Brought Nelly Furtado Back To The Dance Floor
Dom Dolla performs at Lollapalooza in 2023

Photo: Barry Brecheisen / WireImage / GettyImages

interview

How Rising Dance Star Dom Dolla Remixed The Gorillaz & Brought Nelly Furtado Back To The Dance Floor

Dom Dolla had a massive 2023, culminating in his first GRAMMY nomination. The first-time GRAMMY nominee discusses his nominated remix of the Gorillaz’s "New Gold," finding pop-spiration from Nelly Furtado and performing his dream B2B set.

GRAMMYs/Jan 17, 2024 - 02:07 pm

Dom Dolla rang in 2024 on a creative high. 

Last year, the 32-year-old Australian DJ and producer worked with his long-time idol Nelly Furtado, collaborating on her first new music in six years, including multiple unreleased tracks. Their bossy dance floor banger "Eat Your Man" lit up clubs and festival stages in summer 2023 — including several where the artists performed the track together live. But this wasn't the only mountain Dom Dolla climbed in 2023. His latest tune as a solo artist, a euphoric, Euro disco-inspired bop called "Saving Up," was released in October.

To top off a productive year, the artist born Dominic Matheson earned his first GRAMMY nomination, for Best Remixed Recording for his stellar remix of Gorillaz's "New Gold" featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown. It was the only remix that Gorillaz commissioned for Cracker Island, which is nominated for Best Alternative Music Album,  and the Aussie DJ felt a lot of pressure to make it a great one. The Dom Dolla remix brings a sense of urgency and electricity to the star-studded tune, picking  up the tempo to 127 BPM, then speeding up and looping Brown's raps.

After years of DJing and rising in his hometown Melbourne's vibrant club scene, Dom Dolla broke onto the U.S. dance scene with two tech house heaters, "Take It" and "San Frandisco," in 2018 and 2019, respectively. He was supposed to play Coachella 2020, which due to the pandemic, didn't take place until 2022. There, he debuted the big tunes he'd release later that year: the deep and moody "Strangers," with Mansionair, and the '90s house-infused "Miracle Maker," with Clementine Douglas. Since then, he's been on an ever-evolving upward trajectory. 

GRAMMY.com caught up with the "Miracle Maker" producer to learn more about working with Nelly Furtado and the Gorillaz, how a bad bout of tinnitus taught him a helpful studio trick, and where spaceship Dom is headed next. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

What was your initial response when you found out you were nominated for a GRAMMY?

A lot of yelling. My manager is a very funny guy. He called me up [after the nominations were announced] and immediately started talking about something else. I challenged myself to write a song a day for a week. So he's all, "Day three, how's it going? You need to punch out a really good one today." I was like, What? And he's like, "A f—ing GRAMMY!" and started laughing. He really bait-and-switched me. I was on a high all morning. Then I flew from L.A. to Miami to play at [Club] Space and later that day I had EDC Orlando. I kept running into members of my team and just heard yelling.

Everyone brought signs to Space. Someone held up this enormous sign, "Congratulations on your GRAMMY" and people [held up messages] on their phones. It was quite a lovely, emotional moment, at such a debaucherous place.

What does it mean to you to be acknowledged in this way by your music industry peers?

It's really special. I started touring America in 2016. When you start touring in a new country, particularly when you're quite green, which I was back then, it's quite lonely. You don't really know anyone. But over the years, as I released more music and was running into people, I really felt like I was kind of gaining people's respect the more music that I put out.

The best thing about the music industry in America, at least in dance music, is if other DJs are playing your records, you're adding value to their DJ set and they respect you for it. That was happening more and more [for me over the years]. So [the nomination] feels like the antithesis of when I first started touring in the U.S.; it's being acknowledged by my peers and being respected and knowing that they genuinely like my music.

Did you ever imagine you'd be where you are today as a DJ/producer?

No way. My goal when I first started uploading music was to hit 10,000 plays on a song on SoundCloud. I think on the third track I'd released, I ended up hitting like 30,000 streams. I screenshotted it and printed it out. And I was like, I've made it. That's it.

It was the same with touring. My goal when I first started producing was to headline the venue called Prince Bandroom in St. Kilda in Melbourne, my hometown. Now we're doing the stupidest venues. [Laughs.] Each year, my manager asks me to write down what my new goals and aspirations are. A GRAMMY nomination wasn't even on the list because I didn't think it would ever be achievable. So now that that's happened, I have to write a new list.

How did you get connected with the Gorillaz for the remix?

It was pretty cool. Jahan [Karimaghayi] is on my marketing team and he's also on the Gorillaz's marketing team. He's a big fan of my remixes and he's always like, "I feel like you'd smash a Gorillaz remix." Apparently, he brought it up and they were like, "Hell yeah, let's do it." He thought he was introducing them to my music but I think someone already knew my stuff. I got sent the parts and it was ultimately up to me not to f— it up, really. [Chuckles.] That's why I put so much pressure on myself to nail it, knowing that it would be the only remix [from their album].

When did you know that the remix was ready?

It was actually a sort of visceral, emotional reaction in the studio. Every producer or songwriter will know there's two modes. One is, I'm terrible. How did I ever succeed in this as a career? I'm probably going to quit after I walk out of the studio. That was the first three days of me working on it. On the fourth day, the mood was, I'm a fing genius. I can't believe I doubted myself before. This s is fire

When you hit that feeling in the studio, it actually doesn't matter if the song comes out or the remix gets approved or if your team likes it. If I have that feeling, I've done it for myself, and I'm happy. The best thing was, I sent it to my team who said, "This is really great." And then I sent it to the Gorillaz and they loved it, so that was some nice external validation.

How did you bring the Dom Dolla touch to that track, which already had three different iconic, quite eclectic artists on it?

For me, it was picking the stems or the vocal sections or the synth elements of that record that I felt I related to the most. That's the way that I always do it: Which parts of this vocal would sound best on a Dom Dolla record?

The reason I don't do more remixes is because it's hard to come across those moments. I suppose the headline would be "finding moments in an existing record that you wish you'd written." If I'm being pitched a remix, are there enough bits in this that I can then rearrange or twist into something that I wish I'd done myself?

How was working with Nelly Furtado on "Eat Your Man," and what was your initial response when you found out she wanted to work with you? 

We were both going to play [Beyond the Valley] festival in Australia and she listened to my music. [Nelly's management] reached out and said she'd been listening to a bunch of my records on repeat. She wanted me to produce some stuff for her comeback, basically.

I'm sure she had a buttload of potential producers sending her demos. So I recorded this little selfie video that was like, "Hey, Nelly, what's happening?" just to prove I wasn't a psychopath. She said I didn't need the video but I was very memorable from that point on. We started messaging back and forth on WhatsApp and writing a bunch of stuff before we even met in person. 

She sent me her ad-libbing over one of my demos, and I quickly changed the subject because I wasn't actually a fan of what she'd sent me initially. I [was worried] I ruined the relationship. She said that was the reason she wanted to work with me, because I'm not a "yes man." I loved the second one she sent me. From then on, we hit it off and she trusted my taste.

We met in person three months later when we performed at Beyond the Valley. After that, I flew to Philadelphia and we got in the studio and started writing a bunch of stuff for her upcoming releases — none of that music has been released yet. That's more like her pop stuff. Halfway through the sessions, she turned to me, she's like, "I'd love to feature on a Dom Dolla record." "Eat Your Man" was written in the space of a few hours; it all came together quite naturally, which was fun.

What was it like for you working in the studio with Nelly, versus what I'm assuming is usually you and your computer? What did you take away from working in this way?

A lot of the time for the Dom Dolla project, I tried to do everything myself. I'd write all the top lines and basically bring in a session singer. I have a very specific vision. [With Nelly,] it was really a collaboration. For me, it was really learning how a lot of these pop sessions happen.  

[Nelly] had one of her best friends, Anjulie [Persaud], who's a brilliant pop singer and writer. The three of us were handing a microphone around that we had plugged into my Ableton. Each of us sang adlibs over this looped beat. I then went through the session and picked all of the little melodic adlib moments that I thought were really catchy. 

It taught me a lot about communicating tastes and being patient. It was exciting for me because I feel like that's the way the pop world works. It's great because it's more creative and more collaborative. "Eat Your Man" we did more my way. It was like, "This is what I can hear. What do you think?" That's why it happened quite quickly. But with her pop stuff, we did it more the traditional way.

Has that inspired you to do more in-studio collabs with vocalists?

Yeah, I've been doing a lot of writing with other people since then. Now I really can see myself doing a lot more production for other people and pop artists or even for bands. I'm confident in my executive production, production and engineering abilities. It's a new muscle that I'd like to develop. It's just hard for me because I'm touring so much and you've got to be in the room. Touring [non-stop] doesn't really leave much in the way for collaborative pop production. I think that time will come but it's not right now.

You brought out Nelly Furtado during your set at Portola Fest and performed with her a few times this year. What has it felt like getting to perform with her on stage?

She's so experienced and has been doing this for so long. I've learned a lot. In pop music performances, there's timecoding and synchronized dancing. DJ culture is like, I'm feeling like this needs to go here now, so I'm gonna full 180 and just throw this on the audience. You don't have to check in with anyone or plan anything. [Nelly] needs to know exactly when this is going to happen because she needs to know when she has to start singing and how much time she's got to dance before she has to start singing again. It's given me a real appreciation for pop live performance and how the pop world does it.

Planning for those sets [with Nelly] has been awesome; she asked me to send her the files from the mashups I did of her records and my records. I went to watch her [Portola] set, which is just her, I had nothing to do with it, and she performed the mashups. I was like, This is so sick. Her manager turned to me, "She's actually been doing this in every one of her shows." I'm over the moon. The dance music influence is kind of rubbing off on her hip-hop, R&B world, which is really cool.

In your DJ Mag cover article, you shared how an experience with hearing loss and tinnitus led you to produce music quieter. How did that change the way you think about production and dance music?

I really had to retrain my ears in how to produce music, but it added a bunch of longevity to my career. Now I can write and perform for years, because I'm always wearing earplugs or writing music quietly. It taught me that if the song's got to be really loud to be exciting, it sucks. People always crank stuff up in the studio. If it's exciting when it's quiet, you want to turn it up because you want to hear it. I think that's a testament to the kind of record that's being written. I always challenge myself to write the most exciting record humanly possible at the quietest level possible, [where you're] itching to turn it up.

It's also a mixing thing as well, because you've got to be able to hear all the key elements of the record quietly too. No matter where it's translating, whether it's on someone's laptop, their phone, their headphones, or cranked up to 120 on their home speaker system, that mix is right. 

How would you describe the evolution or your sound, production-wise and in your DJ sets?

I get so bored so easily. I just want to keep moving [on to new sounds]. The best thing about that is it keeps your audience excited. My last record, "Saving Up," is a completely original record that I want to sound like a throwback sampled disco tune. I've never released anything that's disco before, but I love disco. It's almost like Euro disco, a really fast offbeat baseline. It's jacked up, it's not a traditional disco record, but the elements are still there. Even the stuff I've been writing for Nelly, her pop stuff, I think people will be able to tell that I wrote it and produced it because it sounds like me somehow.

On "Saving Up," did you use any samples or did you just make it sound like it was sampled?

Everything in that record is completely original. I wanted it to sound like a sampled record, so the vocals are pitched up. It's a friend of mine, Clementine Douglas [who is featured on Dom's "Miracle Maker"]. I wrote it with her and some other friends, Toby Scott and Caitlin Stubbs, down in Brighton Beach in the UK. I've always been really obsessed with writing music on my own, doing everything myself from start to finish, and I feel like I've proven that to myself. After working with Nelly Furtado, I was really open to the idea of sitting in a room with a bunch of talented people and writing songs as a group 

As soon as I got to Brighton Beach, I remembered that Big Beach Boutique massive rave that Fatboy Slim hosted there 20 years ago. I wanted to write something that sounded super U.K., something that sounds sampled. We actually wrote the song really, really slow, at like 95 BPM or something. It was just chords and hooky vocals and we wrote the lyrics after. To make it sound sampled, we sped it up to 130 BPM and pitched the vocal up six semitones and made it bouncy as f—. 

What's next for you?

I actually have no idea what I'm doing. I'm just kind of hanging on for dear life. I know what I'm doing in the studio and I know what a great DJ set is made of. For me, it's about building upon that each and every time — giving a better DJ performance, creating a better set and writing better music.

I think that's the only thing that's really changing, the shows are getting bigger and more people are discovering the music. Honestly, it's quite shocking. The audience is literally compounding but I'm not really changing anything that I'm doing. I'm sort of doing more of it and trying to up the frequency and learning from the mistakes I've made before. 

Any big goals you're trying to hit, or anything where you're like, Okay, that would fing blow my mind if that happened?

Honestly, I recently did a dream B2B with Solomun in Ibiza. That was really cool. He reached out and I was like, No fng way. I have a good feeling about the next few years, so it's gonna be exciting. 

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."

Moniquea

Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.

L'Impératrice

L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage
Billy Idol

Photo: Steven Sebring

interview

Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage

"One foot in the past and one foot into the future," Billy Idol says, describing his decade-spanning career in rock. "We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol."

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:19 pm

Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, GRAMMY.com spoke with Billy Idol about his latest EP,  Cage, and continuing to rock through decades of changing tastes.

Billy Idol is a true rock 'n' roll survivor who has persevered through cultural shifts and personal struggles. While some may think of Idol solely for "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding," the singer's musical influences span genres and many of his tunes are less turbo-charged than his '80s hits would belie.  

Idol first made a splash in the latter half of the '70s with the British punk band Generation X. In the '80s, he went on to a solo career combining rock, pop, and punk into a distinct sound that transformed him and his musical partner, guitarist Steve Stevens, into icons. They have racked up multiple GRAMMY nominations, in addition to one gold, one double platinum, and four platinum albums thanks to hits like "Cradle Of Love," "Flesh For Fantasy," and "Eyes Without A Face." 

But, unlike many legacy artists, Idol is anything but a relic. Billy continues to produce vital Idol music by collaborating with producers and songwriters — including Miley Cyrus — who share his forward-thinking vision. He will play a five-show Vegas residency in November, and filmmaker Jonas Akerlund is working on a documentary about Idol’s life. 

His latest release is Cage, the second in a trilogy of annual four-song EPs. The title track is a classic Billy Idol banger expressing the desire to free himself from personal constraints and live a better life. Other tracks on Cage incorporate metallic riffing and funky R&B grooves. 

Idol continues to reckon with his demons — they both grappled with addiction during the '80s — and the singer is open about those struggles on the record and the page. (Idol's 2014 memoir Dancing With Myself, details a 1990 motorcycle accident that nearly claimed a leg, and how becoming a father steered him to reject hard drugs. "Bitter Taste," from his last EP, The Roadside, reflects on surviving the accident.)

Although Idol and Stevens split in the late '80s — the skilled guitarist fronted Steve Stevens & The Atomic Playboys, and collaborated with Michael Jackson, Rick Ocasek, Vince Neil, and Harold Faltermeyer (on the GRAMMY-winning "Top Gun Anthem") —  their common history and shared musical bond has been undeniable. The duo reunited in 2001 for an episode of "VH1 Storytellers" and have been back in the saddle for two decades. Their union remains one of the strongest collaborations in rock 'n roll history.

While there is recognizable personnel and a distinguishable sound throughout a lot of his work, Billy Idol has always pushed himself to try different things. Idol discusses his musical journey, his desire to constantly move forward, and the strong connection that he shares with Stevens. 

Steve has said that you like to mix up a variety of styles, yet everyone assumes you're the "Rebel Yell"/"White Wedding" guy. But if they really listen to your catalog, it's vastly different.

Yeah, that's right. With someone like Steve Stevens, and then back in the day Keith Forsey producing... [Before that] Generation X actually did move around inside punk rock. We didn't stay doing just the Ramones two-minute music. We actually did a seven-minute song. [Laughs]. We did always mix things up. 

Then when I got into my solo career, that was the fun of it. With someone like Steve, I knew what he could do. I could see whatever we needed to do, we could nail it. The world was my oyster musically. 

"Cage" is a classic-sounding Billy Idol rocker, then "Running From The Ghost" is almost metal, like what the Devil's Playground album was like back in the mid-2000s. "Miss Nobody" comes out of nowhere with this pop/R&B flavor. What inspired that?

We really hadn't done anything like that since something like "Flesh For Fantasy" [which] had a bit of an R&B thing about it. Back in the early days of Billy Idol, "Hot In The City" and "Mony Mony" had girls [singing] on the backgrounds. 

We always had a bit of R&B really, so it was actually fun to revisit that. We just hadn't done anything really quite like that for a long time. That was one of the reasons to work with someone like Sam Hollander [for the song "Rita Hayworth"] on The Roadside. We knew we could go [with him] into an R&B world, and he's a great songwriter and producer. That's the fun of music really, trying out these things and seeing if you can make them stick. 

I listen to new music by veteran artists and debate that with some people. I'm sure you have those fans that want their nostalgia, and then there are some people who will embrace the newer stuff. Do you find it’s a challenge to reach people with new songs?

Obviously, what we're looking for is, how do we somehow have one foot in the past and one foot into the future? We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol. 

You want to do things that are true to you, and you don't just want to try and do things that you're seeing there in the charts today. I think that we're achieving it with things like "Running From The Ghost" and "Cage" on this new EP. I think we’re managing to do both in a way. 

**Obviously, "Running From The Ghost" is about addiction, all the stuff that you went through, and in "Cage" you’re talking about  freeing yourself from a lot of personal shackles. Was there any one moment in your life that made you really thought I have to not let this weigh me down anymore?**

I mean, things like the motorcycle accident I had, that was a bit of a wake up call way back. It was 32 years ago. But there were things like that, years ago, that gradually made me think about what I was doing with my life. I didn't want to ruin it, really. I didn't want to throw it away, and it made [me] be less cavalier. 

I had to say to myself, about the drugs and stuff, that I've been there and I've done it. There’s no point in carrying on doing it. You couldn't get any higher. You didn't want to throw your life away casually, and I was close to doing that. It took me a bit of time, but then gradually I was able to get control of myself to a certain extent [with] drugs and everything. And I think Steve's done the same thing. We're on a similar path really, which has been great because we're in the same boat in terms of lyrics and stuff. 

So a lot of things like that were wake up calls. Even having grandchildren and just watching my daughter enlarging her family and everything; it just makes you really positive about things and want to show a positive side to how you're feeling, about where you're going. We've lived with the demons so long, we've found a way to live with them. We found a way to be at peace with our demons, in a way. Maybe not completely, but certainly to where we’re enjoying what we do and excited about it.

[When writing] "Running From The Ghost" it was easy to go, what was the ghost for us? At one point, we were very drug addicted in the '80s. And Steve in particular is super sober [now]. I mean, I still vape pot and stuff. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but it’s incredible. All I want to be able to do is have a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant or something. I can do that now.

I think working with people that are super talented, you just feel confident. That is a big reason why you open up and express yourself more because you feel comfortable with what's around you.

Did you watch Danny Boyle's recent Sex Pistols mini-series?

I did, yes.

You had a couple of cameos; well, an actor who portrayed you did. How did you react to it? How accurate do you think it was in portraying that particular time period?

I love Jonesy’s book, I thought his book was incredible. It's probably one of the best bio books really. It was incredible and so open. I was looking forward to that a lot.

It was as if [the show] kind of stayed with Steve [Jones’ memoir] about halfway through, and then departed from it. [John] Lydon, for instance, was never someone I ever saw acting out; he's more like that today. I never saw him do something like jump up in the room and run around going crazy. The only time I saw him ever do that was when they signed the recording deal with Virgin in front of Buckingham Palace. Whereas Sid Vicious was always acting out; he was always doing something in a horrible way or shouting at someone. I don't remember John being like that. I remember him being much more introverted.

But then I watched interviews with some of the actors about coming to grips with the parts they were playing. And they were saying, we knew punk rock happened but just didn't know any of the details. So I thought well, there you go. If ["Pistol" is]  informing a lot of people who wouldn't know anything about punk rock, maybe that's what's good about it.

Maybe down the road John Lydon will get the chance to do John's version of the Pistols story. Maybe someone will go a lot deeper into it and it won't be so surface. But maybe you needed this just to get people back in the flow.

We had punk and metal over here in the States, but it feels like England it was legitimately more dangerous. British society was much more rigid.

It never went [as] mega in America. It went big in England. It exploded when the Pistols did that interview with [TV host Bill] Grundy, that lorry truck driver put his boot through his own TV, and all the national papers had "the filth and the fury" [headlines].

We went from being unknown to being known overnight. We waited a year, Generation X. We even told them [record labels] no for nine months to a year. Every record company wanted their own punk rock group. So it went really mega in England, and it affected the whole country – the style, the fashions, everything. I mean, the Ramones were massive in England. Devo had a No. 1 song [in England] with "Satisfaction" in '77. Actually, Devo was as big as or bigger than the Pistols.

You were ahead of the pop-punk thing that happened in the late '90s, and a lot of it became tongue-in-cheek by then. It didn't have the same sense of rebelliousness as the original movement. It was more pop.

It had become a style. There was a famous book in England called Revolt Into Style — and that's what had happened, a revolt that turned into style which then they were able to duplicate in their own way. Even recently, Billie Joe [Armstrong] did his own version of "Gimme Some Truth," the Lennon song we covered way back in 1977.

When we initially were making [punk] music, it hadn't become accepted yet. It was still dangerous and turned into a style that people were used to. We were still breaking barriers.

You have a band called Generation Sex with Steve Jones and Paul Cook. I assume you all have an easier time playing Pistols and Gen X songs together now and not worrying about getting spit on like back in the '70s?

Yeah, definitely. When I got to America I told the group I was putting it together, "No one spits at the audience."

We had five years of being spat on [in the UK], and it was revolting. And they spat at you if they liked you. If they didn't like it they smashed your gear up. One night, I remember I saw blood on my T-shirt, and I think Joe Strummer got meningitis when spit went in his mouth.

You had to go through a lot to become successful, it wasn't like you just kind of got up there and did a couple of gigs. I don't think some young rock bands really get that today.

With punk going so mega in England, we definitely got a leg up. We still had a lot of work to get where we got to, and rightly so because you find out that you need to do that. A lot of groups in the old days would be together three to five years before they ever made a record, and that time is really important. In a way, what was great about punk rock for me was it was very much a learning period. I really learned a lot [about] recording music and being in a group and even writing songs.

Then when I came to America, it was a flow, really. I also really started to know what I wanted Billy Idol to be. It took me a little bit, but I kind of knew what I wanted Billy Idol to be. And even that took a while to let it marinate.

You and Miley Cyrus have developed a good working relationship in the last several years. How do you think her fans have responded to you, and your fans have responded to her?

I think they're into it. It's more the record company that she had didn't really get "Night Crawling"— it was one of the best songs on Plastic Hearts, and I don't think they understood that. They wanted to go with Dua Lipa, they wanted to go with the modern, young acts, and I don't think they realized that that song was resonating with her fans. Which is a shame really because, with Andrew Watt producing, it's a hit song.

But at the same time, I enjoyed doing it. It came out really good and it's very Billy Idol. In fact, I think it’s more Billy Idol than Miley Cyrus. I think it shows you where Andrew Watt was. He was excited about doing a Billy Idol track. She's fun to work with. She’s a really great person and she works at her singing — I watched her rehearsing for the Super Bowl performance she gave. She rehearsed all Saturday morning, all Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning and it was that afternoon. I have to admire her fortitude. She really cares.

I remember when you went on "Viva La Bamback in 2005 and decided to give Bam Margera’s Lamborghini a new sunroof by taking a power saw to it. Did he own that car? Was that a rental?

I think it was his car.

Did he get over it later on?

He loved it. [Laughs] He’s got a wacky sense of humor. He’s fantastic, actually. I’m really sorry to see what he's been going through just lately. He's going through a lot, and I wish him the best. He's a fantastic person, and it's a shame that he's struggling so much with his addictions. I know what it's like. It's not easy.

Musically, what is the synergy like with you guys during the past 10 years, doing Kings and Queens of the Underground and this new stuff? What is your working relationship like now in this more sober, older, mature version of you two as opposed to what it was like back in the '80s?

In lots of ways it’s not so different because we always wrote the songs together, we always talked about what we're going to do together. It was just that we were getting high at the same time.We're just not getting [that way now] but we're doing all the same things.

We're still talking about things, still [planning] things:What are we going to do next? How are we going to find new people to work with? We want to find new producers. Let's be a little bit more timely about putting stuff out.That part of our relationship is the same, you know what I mean? That never got affected. We just happened to be overloading in the '80s.

The relationship’s… matured and it's carrying on being fruitful, and I think that's pretty amazing. Really, most people don't get to this place. Usually, they hate each other by now. [Laughs] We also give each other space. We're not stopping each other doing things outside of what we’re working on together. All of that enables us to carry on working together. I love and admire him. I respect him. He's been fantastic. I mean, just standing there on stage with him is always a treat. And he’s got an immensely great sense of humor. I think that's another reason why we can hang together after all this time because we've got the sense of humor to enable us to go forward.

There's a lot of fan reaction videos online, and I noticed a lot of younger women like "Rebel Yell" because, unlike a lot of other '80s alpha male rock tunes, you're talking about satisfying your lover.

It was about my girlfriend at the time, Perri Lister. It was about how great I thought she was, how much I was in love with her, and how great women are, how powerful they are.

It was a bit of a feminist anthem in a weird way. It was all about how relationships can free you and add a lot to your life. It was a cry of love, nothing to do with the Civil War or anything like that. Perri was a big part of my life, a big part of being Billy Idol. I wanted to write about it. I'm glad that's the effect.

Is there something you hope people get out of the songs you've been doing over the last 10 years? Do you find yourself putting out a message that keeps repeating?

Well, I suppose, if anything, is that you can come to terms with your life, you can keep a hold of it. You can work your dreams into reality in a way and, look, a million years later, still be enjoying it.

The only reason I'm singing about getting out of the cage is because I kicked out of the cage years ago. I joined Generation X when I said to my parents, "I'm leaving university, and I'm joining a punk rock group." And they didn't even know what a punk rock group was. Years ago, I’d write things for myself that put me on this path, so that maybe in 2022 I could sing something like "Cage" and be owning this territory and really having a good time. This is the life I wanted.

The original UK punk movement challenged societal norms. Despite all the craziness going on throughout the world, it seems like a lot of modern rock bands are afraid to do what you guys were doing. Do you think we'll see a shift in that?

Yeah.  Art usually reacts to things, so I would think eventually there will be a massive reaction to the pop music that’s taken over — the middle of the road music, and then this kind of right wing politics. There will be a massive reaction if there's not already one. I don’t know where it will come from exactly. You never know who's gonna do [it].

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