Photos: Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy
Backstage At Lollapalooza 2018 With The Recording Academy | Photo Gallery
Follow us to Chicago for one of the summer's biggest and best festivals as we take you behind-the-scenes with all your favorite artists
Lollapalooza marks the apex of the summer in music each year, descending upon Chicago's Grant Park for four full days of performaces from artists spanning many genres. We are on-the-ground backstage at the festival to give you an inside look at the action.
New Orleans alternative R&B-soul collective Tank And The Bangas came through to talk about their meteoric rise since winning NPR's Tiny Desk Contest and tell us about their latest single, "Smoke.Netflix.Chill."
Rising superstar Billie Eilish took a moment to chat with us about her success this year, her new Beats 1 radio show, and what fans can expect from her debut full-length album.
Chicago rapper Valee chopped it up with us on his latest GOOD Job You Found Me, his single "Womp Womp," touring with Pusha T, and the relationship between boredom and creativity.
The loud and lovely Lizzo swung through to hype up her Lolla set, open up about her time on Rupaul's "Drag Race" and tease a super secret upcoming project.
The boys of rock torch-bearers Greta Van Fleet stopped by to tell us about the makings of their latest single, "When The Curtain Falls," and dish on their highly anticipated debut full-length before hamming it up for our cameras.
From making songs in her bedroom to taking the Lollapalooza stage, Clairo remained cool, calm and collected backstage, opening up about her debut EP Diary 001, her lates collab with Cuco, "DROWN," and keeping a level head in the storm of success she's experiencing.
Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo stopped in before thier Sunday set to tell us about their new album, Head Over Heels, and its highly danceable lead single "Must've Been" featuring DRAM.
GRAMMY nominee James Bay opened up about his musical transformation during our interview with the British singer/songwriter. He also told the story behind "Pink Lemonade" and revealed his three favorite hobbies outside of music.
Jessie Reyez took some time to tell us about her single "Apple Juice" and what it's like drawing from Canadian and Colombian music backgrounds.
Self-described as "writer by nature, rapper by craft," Chicago's femdot. came through to give his reaction to playing at Lolla and talk about what's happening in his city's hip-hop scene right now.
Firey and soulful, Dorothy posed for our cameras backstage at Lolla. Her latest album, 28 Days In The Valley, showcases her one-of-a-kind show-stopping voice and authenticity.
Nashville singer/songwriter Anderson East sat down with us to discuss the quick and dirty recording process of his raw new album Encore.
GRAMMY-nominated children's hip-hop group Alphabet Rockers visited us to discuss the empowering messages of their music, their lastest album Rise Shine #Woke and what they're working on next.
Chicago's DJ Taye paid us a visit to reveal his feelings on playing his first Lollapalooza. He also broke down his trippy single "Trippin'" and posed for a few snapshots.
Wallows dropped in to talk about Lolla kicking off their run of festival dates and let us in on the making of their delightful DIY video for (deep breath...) "Under The Streetlights In The Winter Outside Your House."
Fierce and fabulous British rock duo BONES took the time to talk with us about their undeniable song, "Creature," their unmistakable visual aesthetic and their rush of excitement for upcoming tour dates in the States with the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, The Cult, and Palaye Royale - lookout, U.S.A.!
Our interview with mighty dance duo Galantis was crashed by Max, the artist featured on their new collaboration "Satisfied." The trio talked about working together and had some fun in our portrait studio.
Pale Waves hung out with us to talk about their latest EP and upcoming album and their experience on tour with The 1975.
GoldLink surprised us with a visit after running into his friends, Tank And The Bangas, outside our tent. The Washington D.C.-born rapper took a minute to pose for a quick photo.
Fresh off the Lollapalooza stage - and a trip across the Atlantic - Rusko dropped in to share some of his magic and discuss how he's infusing his music with glorious '90s vibes.
Soulful pop singer/songwriter Bazzi swung through to tell us about the story he tells with his debut full-length album, COSMIC.
Latin GRAMMY-winning children's artist Mister G brought some sunshine into our tent before their fun Friday Kidzapalooza set.
We linked up with morgxn to hear the inspiration behind his transformational album, Vital, and breakdown "Carry The Weight" and "Home."
Austin's one-man band, Mobley made an appearance after his Lolla set to show us his sleek style in our portrait studio.
What So Not stopped in before his set to tell us about his dazzling debut full-lenght album, Not All The Beautiful Things, and reveal the neon green head of hair under his hat for our cameras.
Norweigian producer LIDO stopped in for a quick pic and to chat about his many upcoming project. His list of past credits include Halsey, Portugal. The Man, Ariana Grande, and more.
Up-and-coming singer/songwriter duo twins Carly and Martina popped in to see us and discuss songwriting collaborations, the recording process, their rapidly growing popularity, and more.
Dubliner Dermot Kennedy sat down with us to talk about his latest projects, working with Mike Dean and the benefits of being a well-traveled artist.
Wes Period came through to tell us what he's up to on tour with Kesha and Macklemore, dish about his pair of new singles, and describe that feeling you get at Lollapalooza.
From Who Killed Matt Maeson to The Hearse, we talked getting personal on his pair of stellar EPs with singer/songwriter Matt Maeson.
Chicago-raised, New York-based soul-pop artist John Splithoff came by to chat about playing his hometown's biggest stage, singing the National Anthem at pro sports games, and his latest EP, Make It Happen.
Cleveland blues rockers Welshy Arms paid us a visit. The group released their debut full-length album, No Place Is Home, earlier this year.
Hot off Perry's Stage, Ekali stopped by to talk about how out-of-control the crowd was for his Lolla set and where his musical wild ride is taking him next.
We also saw GRAMMY-nominated Chicago-based children's singer/songwriter Justin Roberts. Roberts recently testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of music creators in support of the Music Modernization Act.
Boston pop visionairy Emilia Ali hung out with us backstage and smiled big for our cameras after her Lolla set.
For more from Lollapalooza 2018, check out our official recap.
Photos: Image from TiVO; Dave Benett/Getty Images for Alexander McQueen; Prince Williams/WireImage; SAMIR HUSSEIN/WIREIMAGE; Arturo Holmes/Getty Images; Image from TiVO; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Here Are The Song Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
The eight nominees for Song Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMYs are hits from some of music’s biggest names: Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Jon Batiste, Taylor Swift, SZA and Dua Lipa.
The Song Of The Year GRAMMY Award honors the best releases in the music business, and the eight nominees for the golden gramophone at the 2024 GRAMMYs come from a variety of established singer/songwriters. From dance anthems to pop bops, ballads and R&B smashes, the nominees for Song Of The Year showcase the breadth of emotions of the past year.
Before tuning into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, learn more about this year's Song Of The Year nominees below.
"A&W" - Lana Del Rey
Songwriters: Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey & Sam Dew
The second single from her ninth studio album, Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, "A&W" is a refreshing addition to Lana Del Rey’s expansive discography.
Another shattered portrait of the American Dream, the seven-minute epic, oscillates from madness to exhaustion, as Del Rey described feeling burned out by being objectified and perceived as an "American whore." What begins as a psychedelic folk ballad erupts into a defiant trap number interpolated with a doo-wop standard by the four-minute mark of the chaotic number.
"I’m a princess, I’m divisive/Ask me why I’m like this/Maybe I just kinda like this," Del Rey anxiously warbles. Later, she expresses her resignation surrounding rape culture: "If I told you that I was raped/ Do you really think that anybody would think/ I didn't ask for it? I didn't ask for it/ I won't testify, I already f—ed up my story."
"Anti-Hero" - Taylor Swift
Songwriters: Jack Antonoff & Taylor Swift
"Anti-Hero" showcased a new side of Taylor Swift — a rare moment where the 33-year-old pop star confronted her flaws in the public eye.
"I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before," Swift said of the track in an Instagram video. "Not to sound too dark, but, like, I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person."
The self-loathing synth-pop anthem — with its cheeky chorus — catapulted "Anti Hero" into virality. With its ubiquitous meaning, the song topped charts and became a staple of pop radio. Now, it’s enjoying the highest praise as a contender for Song Of The Year.
"Butterfly" - Jon Batiste
Songwriters: Jon Batiste & Dan Wilson
Beyond its sound, what makes Jon Batiste’s "Butterfly" so stunning is the story behind it. The touching jazz-soul fusion track is an iteration of the lullabies Batiste penned while his wife Suleika Jaouad was hospitalized during her cancer treatment.
"It’s just such a personal narrative song in relation to my life and what my family has gone through and my wife and all of the things she’s been able to overcome," the 36-year-old GRAMMY winner told PEOPLE.
"Butterfly" is featured on Batiste's latest album, World Music Radio. Like much of his discography, "Butterfly" is inherently uplifting but there’s an underlying yearning for freedom. "Butterfly in the air/ Where you can fly anywhere/ A sight beyond compare," Batiste croons over stripped-down keys.
"Dance The Night" (From Barbie The Album) - Dua Lipa
Songwriters: Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt
With the release of her pop-funk epic Future Nostalgia during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dua Lipa proved she could master the art of escapism. On "Dance The Night," a thrilling dance-pop number from the star-studded Barbie soundtrack, she channels that same inspiration with a side of glitter and glam.
"Greta said that the whole film was inspired by disco. There’s a lot of very glittery and pop moments in it," the 28-year-old singer said of how the track fits into the movie in an interview with Dazed.
Over a sleek synth, the pop star reflects the unwavering joy Barbie outwardly emanates while she’s crumbling inside: "Even when the tears are flowin' like diamonds on my face/I'll still keep the party goin', not one hair out of place (yes, I can)."
"Flowers" - Miley Cyrus
Songwriters: Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein & Michael Pollack
Miley Cyrus has perfected the art of reinventing herself. With the post-breakup number "Flowers," she reclaimed her independence and took a hard turn from gritty rock back into pop music. "I can take myself dancing, yeah/ I can hold my own hand/ Yeah, I can love me better than you can," she belts over a disco-pop beat.
While the 30-year-old musician wouldn’t share if "Flowers" was indeed about her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, the song became an empowering earworm from a more refined version of the longtime musician.
"The song is a little fake it till you make it," she said of "Flowers" in an interview with British Vogue. "Which I’m a big fan of." It turns out she made it with a nomination for Song Of The Year at the 2024 GRAMMY Awards.
"Kill Bill" - SZA
Songwriters: Rob Bisel, Carter Lang & Solána Rowe
On the psychedelic R&B groove of "Kill Bill," which references the legendary Quentin Tarantino film, SZA dreams up her own unfiltered revenge fantasy. "I might kill my ex / Not the best idea / His new girlfriend's next / How'd I get here?" she ponders over an airy melody.
The song stands out on the R&B singer’s latest album, SOS, for not only its cheeky wordplay but for how visceral she portrayed the devastation of a breakup.
Despite its popularity, the 34-year-old singer initially thought one of the other songs on her 23-track album would have topped the charts. "It's always a song that I don't give a f— about that's just super easy, not the s— that I put so much heart and energy into. 'Kill Bill' was super easy — one take, one night," the singer told Billboard of "Kill Bill’s" success.
"Vampire" - Olivia Rodrigo
Songwriters: Daniel Nigro & Olivia Rodrigo
Like her explosive debut "Drivers License," Olivia Rodrigo opted for a swelling power ballad for the lead single of her sophomore album Guts. On "Vampire," the singer/songwriter recalls a parasitic relationship with a swelling power ballad that erupts into a booming guitar breakdown. "Bloodsucker, famef—er/ Bleedin' me dry, like a goddamn vampire," she sings with a bitter lilt.
While many speculated the song was about a toxic relationship, Rodrigo claimed it’s more nuanced than that. "It’s more about my regret and kind of beating myself up for doing something that I knew wasn’t gonna turn out great and kind of just taking ownership of that and dealing with those feelings," she told Sirius XM Hits 1.
Regardless, the 20-year-old artist turned something bitter into something sweet by landing a Song Of The Year nomination.
"What Was I Made For?" [From The Motion Picture "Barbie"] - Billie Eilish
Songwriters: Billie Eilish O'Connell & Finneas O'Connell
Not only was the Barbie movie a massive hit, its soundtrack was, too, thanks to a slew of chart-topping artists including Dua Lipa, HAIM and Sam Smith. So it’s no surprise that Billie Eilish made that list as well, and delivered a gutting ballad that soundtracked one of the most heartbreaking moments of the film.
The wistful single, which arrives at the devastating realization that you’re not real and are instead meant to be consumed, aptly embodies the narrative arc of the box office smash. "Looked so alive, turns out I'm not real/ Just something you paid for/ What was I made for," the 21-year-old musician sings with a heartbreaking lilt.
While writing the sobering number, Eilish tried to embody the essence of the life-sized doll herself. "I was purely inspired by this movie and this character and the way I thought she would feel, and wrote about that," she told Zane Lowe of Apple Music.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.
Photos: Dave Benett/Getty Images for Alexander McQueen; Image from TiVO;Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images; Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET;Arturo Holmes/Getty Images; Image from TiVO;Prince Williams/WireImage; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Here Are The Record Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
The 2024 Record Of The Year nominees at the 2024 GRAMMYs are hits from some of music’s biggest names Jon Batiste, boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish & FINNEAS, Victoria Monét, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and SZA.
Throughout the past year, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift delivered inescapable pop anthems, while Victoria Monét and SZA proved that R&B deserves a place in the spotlight. Jon Batiste continued to evolve his artistry, while indie supergroup boygenius made an anticipated comeback.
With so many standout moments, the golden gramophone Record Of The Year — which is awarded to the artist and the producer(s), recording engineer(s) and/or mixer(s) and mastering engineer(s) — is shaping up to be a thrilling contest at the 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards.
Before tuning into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Feb. 4, 2024, learn more about this year's Record Of The Year nominees below.
Jon Batiste - "Worship"
Album highlight "Worship" encapsulates the LP’s message of unification and community by fusing various global sounds. The song is quite the joyride, beginning with bellowing organs before a choir joins with a glorious harmony and finally explodes with a Latin samba party. "We are born the same / Return to that place" Batiste repeats throughout the song, driving home his inclusive mission.
"Worship" is a joyous anthem and, following his Album Of The Year win at the 2023 GRAMMYs for We Are, it’s clear the five-time GRAMMY winner is keeping the celebration going.
boygenius -"Not Strong Enough"
The LP beautifully captured just how well the women rockers work together, and their chemistry is best seen in "Not Strong Enough." The single’s lush harmonies and feather-light guitars are a contrast to the candid lyricism, which attempts to juggle insecurities and having a God complex.
"The two wolves inside us can be self-hatred and self-aggrandizing," Bridgers explained to Rolling Stone. "Being like, ‘I’m not strong enough to show up for you. I can’t be the partner that you want me to be.’ But also being like, ‘I’m too f—ed up. I’m unknowable in some deep way!’"
"Not Strong Enough" marks a career milestone for boygenius, as it's the group’s first nomination for Record Of The Year.
Miley Cyrus - "Flowers"
A truly great pop star knows how to make a break-up anthem for the ages. Miley Cyrus already had a few under her belt, but she kicked off the year with her strongest offering to date.
"Flowers" was suggested to be inspired by Cyrus’ divorce from Liam Hemsworth, but the song’s messaging goes well beyond the singer’s personal life. Many can relate to having to pick up the pieces of a broken heart, but Cyrus’ confident vocals paired with the soaring disco-inspired melody reassure that self-love is the ultimate healer.
"The chorus was originally: ‘I can buy myself flowers, write my name in the sand, but I can’t love me better than you can,’" the singer told British Vogue of the song’s original lyrics. "It used to be more, like, 1950s. The saddest song. Like: ‘Sure, I can be my own lover, but you’re so much better.’"
The subtle decision to flip the "can’t" into a "can" showcases the brilliance of Cyrus’ songwriting, which ultimately makes the meaning of "Flowers" that much more empowering.
Billie Eilish & FINNEAS - "What Was I Made For?"
The Barbie movie was arguably this year’s biggest pop culture phenomenon, so of course the soundtrack had equally big names. But among the midst of fast-paced and glittery pop songs, Billie Eilish’s contribution tugged at heartstrings. The seven-time GRAMMY winner teamed with her brother and go-to collaborator FINNEAS for "What Was I Made For?"
It’s a tender, melancholic ballad that ties in the movie’s themes of autonomy and balancing feminism in a patriarchal world, with Eilish still holding on to hope: "I don’t know how to feel / But someday I might." The song reflects a universal experience for many women, including Eilish herself — although she didn’t realize it at first.
"I was purely inspired by this movie and this character and the way I thought she would feel and wrote about that," Eilish told Zane Lowe for Apple Music 1. "Over the next couple days, I was listening and [realized] I was writing for myself and I don’t even know it." That relatability is one of the beauties of music, for listeners and artists alike.
Victoria Monét - "On My Mama"
Victoria Monét has a long songwriting history, penning hits for the likes of Brandy, BLACKPINK, Chloe x Halle and longtime friend Ariana Grande. And while she’s released solo music in the past, her debut album Jaguar II cements her place within R&B’s new crop of stars. Third single "On My Mama" took the scene by storm, bringing together millennials and Gen Z’s shared love of ‘00s nostalgia.
Sampling Chalie Boy’s 2009 song "I Look Good" and lined with Monét’s signature horns, the song is a celebration of Black southern culture. As Monét described it on "The Ebro Show" on Apple Music 1, "It’s an anthem for affirmations, positive self-talk, manifestations, living in abundance, [and] speaking things into existence."
Olivia Rodrigo - "Vampire"
What makes Olivia Rodrigo a captivating artist is her honesty. Her ability to capture her generation’s emotional nature is why 2021’s debut album Sour took pop music by storm (and also made her a three-time GRAMMY winner). And she’s continued the movement with "Vampire", the lead single from her sophomore album, Guts.
The song is a red herring of sorts, beginning with melancholic piano keys that often kickstart the singer’s tunes. But rather than shed tears, she unleashes the fury of a woman scorned, dishing out insults to a manipulative ex-lover that ripped her heart out. "Bloodsucker, famef—er / Bleedin' me dry, like a goddamn vampire" she seethes on the chorus. The best revenge is always served cold.
Taylor Swift - "Anti-Hero"
Taylor Swift has grown to be even more self-aware as her status ascends. She knows being a pop superstar comes with its challenges, and “Anti-Hero” reveals the woman behind the glitzy veil. Inspired by her nightmares, the chart-topping smash from tTaylor Swift has become even more self aware as her status ascends. She knows being a pop superstar comes with its challenges, and "Anti-Hero" reveals the woman behind the glitzy veil.
Inspired by her nightmares, the chart-topping smash from the 12-time GRAMMY winner’s tenth album Midnights is a personal journal into feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. But in natural Swift fashion, the dark lyricism is anchored by hopeful pop synths courtesy of longtime collaborator and co-producer Jack Antonoff. The video heightens the song’s themes, as Swift confronts various versions of her former selves.
"We all hate things about ourselves, and it's all of those aspects of the things we dislike and like about ourselves that we have to come to terms with if we're going to be this person," Swift shared with fans on Instagram. That refreshing honesty is what makes "Anti-Hero" one of the singer’s most successful songs to date.
SZA - "Kill Bill"
Leave it to SZA to make murder sound so sweet. On SOS standout single "Kill Bill," the singer takes a page from director Quentin Tarantino by nodding to his 2003 film, as she lives out her vengeful fantasies.
The GRAMMY winner’s raging jealousy landed "Kill Bill" atop the Billboard Hot 100, making it her first-ever solo No.1 hit. SZA brought the fatal single to life with a cinematic music video, which pays homage to Kill Bill with fierce action scenes and an appearance from Vivica A. Fox, who starred as a Deadly Viper and Thurman's enemy Vernita Green in the film.
"I've never raged the way that I should have. This is my villain era, and I'm very comfortable with that," the singer shared with Glamour about her album’s themes. "It is in the way I say no. It's in the f–ked up things that I don't apologize for." And with lyrics like "I did all of this sober" on "Kill Bill," you have no choice but to believe her.
Photo: Tung Walsh
Inside Christian Karlsson's Musical Genius: How Punk Rock, Britney Spears & Doing "Crazy S—" Built The Swedish Producer's Legacy
As he prepares Galantis' latest release, "Dreamteam," superproducer Christian Karlsson details the most monumental parts of his career thus far — from penning major pop hits to headlining EDM's biggest stages.
Christian Karlsson, the Swedish DJ and songwriter who spent the last 30-odd years becoming one of the most influential and untamed voices in modern music.
Since his early days as a skateboarder-turned-rapper and punk rocker-turned-beatmaker, Karlsson has quietly stacked up top-tier credits and international awards, launching project after successful project. Yet, he's never explicitly made himself the center of attention.
You may have heard of him as Bloodshy, one-half of the storied pop production duo Bloodshy & Avant, under which moniker he's worked with major artists from Christina Milian to Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and more. Or perhaps you recognize him from the eclectic dance act Galantis. But you've never quite heard his full professional story — until now.
On Galantis' latest string of singles — the newest of which, “Dreamteam” featuring Neon Trees, will arrive on Oct. 27 — Karlsson opens up about his personal struggles with ADHD and gets back in touch with his rebellious music roots. After jumping from project to project, he's ready to connect the dots of his musical past into one sonic story.
Below, Karlsson details the biggest milestones of his remarkable journey so far, from starting in punk rock to the latest chapter of Galantis.
Finding His Voice
It was punk rock and skateboarding that got me into music; the subculture of being political and against everything.
That expression is the most important part for me, and it will always be. I have a professional side, of course, but the seed that started it all was being in the punk rock and skateboard scene, and that will never go away. Every time I need inspiration, I take inspiration from subculture, hip-hop or anything inspiring to me. I think I'm too old today to understand what's going on with new subcultures, but I really hope that it's growing and that it's always there for young people. I think that's very important.
I started writing songs with a really bad acoustic guitar, learning three chords to write punk rock. My biggest wish in life was to get an electric, and once I did, I started a punk rock band when I was 14.
I loved melodies from the start. I did like a lot of other punk rock too, but I was drawn to really cool, melodic punk rock. That's where it started. It's a good genre to start with, because it's easy.
Beat-Making A Name For Himself
[I became interested in making beats] when hip-hop came into skateboarding through House of Pain and Cypress Hill. I collected vinyl. I had Public Enemy and EPMD. I was already a fan of hip-hop, but when punk rock and hip-hop met, that was really interesting to me.
All of a sudden, I really want a drum machine. That was my first step into production, learning an MPC 60 and starting to program. I was one of the first signed rappers in Sweden when I was 15. I did two albums and opened up for the Fugees in all of Europe. Jay-Z asked me to do a remix for "Hard Knock Life."
In that way, I started as an artist. Producing for others was never anything that I planned. It wasn't that I wanted to be on stage. I just wanted to create music, and I didn't realize there were other people behind artists producing the songs. It's not like the punk rock bands I was listening to had a producer. That [understanding] came from hip-hop.
When I was 22, Quincy Jones invited me over to the U.S. the first time. I hardly spoke English. I worked with him on a lot of projects, actually. That's when I introduced that I actually know melodies, that I'm not only a beatmaker. I had a lot of great ideas for melody, and the melodies started to become a very important tool for me, as well as making something really fresh and somewhat left-field.
Finding The Formula
Bloodshy was my rap name. I had a group called Gold Mine where I was a producer, rapper and founder. Pontus [Winnberg] was the keyboard player in the live band. That's when we got to know each other, and then we split paths. I moved to Stockholm, and he was in Gothenburg.
Later on, when I made that remix for Jay-Z and a bunch of other things, I invited Pontus to come and try making music with me. I was like "I went away a little bit from the hip-hop stuff. I'm trying to make beats for other people." Christina Milian was one of the first ones that was big for me, and Pontus came when I was doing that. That's the first time we worked together on something.
Milian wasn't really signed or anything. It was more of an artist development thing Def Jam was doing. Instantly, I wanted to work with her. I believed in her, and we did a lot of songs together. That was the first really big project I took on as a serious production role.
Breaking The Charts…
After Christina Milian, I was working with a lot of artists and just writing so many ideas every day. I now understand that I was never the perfect producer because I never hit the mark of anything an artist was aiming for. I always hit a completely different place. I just need to go where I want to go, and if someone wants to tag along, that's amazing, but I'm not really the producer to say, "Can you do something like this?" I'm like, "No, I'm gonna do something else."
I actually wrote "Toxic" for Kylie Minogue. I think the A&R was on vacation or something, because they never got back to me. Then, I was working with another artist, Samantha Mumba, in L.A. The A&R for Britney was working across the hall and really wanted to meet me. I played him "Toxic." I didn't even play the whole thing. He came back like, "I want you to work with Britney, and I really liked the song you played," and it turned around really quickly.
I had a very tough choice to make, because Janet Jackson flew me over to London, and she wanted to work with me at the time, too. I had to choose. That was a very tough decision for me, because I was a huge fan of Janet. But I felt like, with Britney, I had someone that could follow where I wanted to go and do some crazy stuff. Maybe I'm completely wrong, but Janet was really strong. She knew what she wanted to do and was telling you. I was super into it, but I felt like, if I'm going to do my crazy s—, maybe Britney's project was better fit for me.
From then on, me and Pontus were with Britney all the time, from being with her on the tour bus to different studios in different cities. She trusted us, which was great. We felt like we had freedom, and we had a great relationship with whoever she was working with at the time. I really liked working on [Spears' 2007 album] Blackout. We wrote so many great songs, and we really took the freedom and just went with it.
…And Breaking The Mold
Miike Snow started as me and Pontus being really fed up with Top 40 music. Everyone was just asking us to make another "Toxic" or whatever it was, and we decided not to work on other artists anymore. We didn't answer any emails or calls or anything like, Let's just do our own thing.
We met Andrew Wyatt in a studio in New York. We really clicked with him and instantly started working on music together. Our plan was to release it on MySpace, and that was it, just follow the freedom. "Hey, if the song is eight minutes, it's f—ing eight minutes!"
I'm really proud of the decision, and Miike Snow just grew. Probably the first 100 shows were tiny venues, like 100 people, and we're the opening act, traveling in a van, carrying all the gear and building our stage stuff. People are like, "You're a big producer, why are you doing this?" I was like, "I f—ing love doing this!"
Miike Snow organically grew and started getting a lot of love and support from other musicians and creators. That was what we wanted. It was actually exactly the right love because someone was giving us love for the crazy s— that we liked to make. Then we started to play bigger festivals and tour like crazy.
Me and Pontus had been looking at the dance scene for a long time. You can hear that in our productions. There's a lot of electronic music and dance music in it, and we had it in Miike Snow. Then we started to DJ the parties after Miike Snow shows.
I started to love DJing, and we got really tight with Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello — before they were Swedish House Mafia. They were huge fans of Miike Snow and the song "Sylvia," and we took a peek into their world. I was with them in Ibiza like, Oh my god, this is crazy. That sparked something in me that kept on going until, eventually, the Miike Snow DJ sets I was playing became so disconnected from Miike Snow that I had to start a new thing. Indie dance could only take me that far into the night, right? I needed to be a little bit more clubby. And I just needed a vehicle for that.
Nurturing New Talent
I [met Sky Ferreira] when she was 13. She DMed me on MySpace, and I was blown away. This was the cockiest 13-year-old girl I'd ever spoken to. She keeps on saying she's the best at everything. I showed Pontus like, "There's something about this girl. She's so confident, and everything she's saying, I'm buying."
She was cool in the club space. Sky is gonna hate me saying this, but I was like Maybe she's a new Uffie. Uffie was, like, blowing up at the time, and I worked with Uffie later in my career because I was a huge fan. Anyway, I'm like "maybe she's like Uffie" because she was in the headspace of dance music and indie, that Ed Banger [Records] world that Uffie was in. Then Sky sent me [a clip of] her singing. I'm like, "You gotta be kidding."
I dove right in and started to create a sound working with her, inviting people that I thought would be good for the project.
I took a break from touring with Miike Snow after 600 shows or something. I felt like I was a little bit cornered, like how I felt when I started Miike Snow to get away from Top 40. I felt pinned down in this touring thing, and I needed quicker output.
Linus [Eklöw] was a good friend of mine, who remixed "Animal" by Miike Snow and my first Sky Ferreira song, "One." We started to talk, and I said "I'm going to start my own thing. We should work together," and that's how Galantis started.
I knew I had something when DJs started coming out with pop songs. It wasn't just techno DJs like Richie Hawtin anymore. That's when I felt like, This is what I do. I write songs and DJ. These guys were great, but I've been doing this way longer, so if you want a songwriter that can DJ, I'm like, "Alright, let me show you how." I just wanted to throw all my s— out the door as quickly as possible, because I knew if the world was ready, then this would be amazing.
Galantis was so important to me. I struggle with ADHD, and that's why I call the first album Pharmacy because I needed to go back into the studio and make so much music. I just wanted to feel good again about creating, because I wasn't creating as much on tour. This is my medication, and then I also wanted something that was an "upper," something that was happy and leaned the way I wanted to feel.
I said to myself and Linus, "I only want happy, cool-feeling dance music, but I don't want to be cheesy." There is a line. When you think about Motown, it's all cool, but it's also happy vibes. Why can't we try to get that into dance music? Cool, but happy, warm and inspiring without being cheesy. That's what I was going for, anyway.
I think "Peanut Butter Jelly" is the most like that. Now, people are gonna read this and be like, "Well, that's cheesy," and I'm gonna say, "No, it's not!"
I'm chasing freedom all the time in my music. Miike Snow is so much freedom, but I'm writing the songs with Pontus and Andrew, so it's not the complete freedom I get in Galantis. Now, I can pick any vocal and work with anyone, and dance music was the way I wanted to express myself because I was so into DJing.
I wrote [Galantis'] "Bang Bang" because I've never told anyone really about my ADHD, and I just wanted it out there. Recently, I've come into different communities, and hearing about ADHD from other people has helped me a lot. That's what I want to do with the song, give something back and tell my story.
"Koala" definitely hits very close to home in terms of just doing my own thing wherever it goes and not being scared of going there. This is something that doesn't sound like anything else I know. It's a weird one, but I love it.
I wrote it with a very good friend of mine, Andrew Bullimore aka Beatbullyz's, who I wrote "No Money" with. His son is singing "No Money." He was 10 at the time. And I was back with Bully and writing, and he had an idea where his now two sons could sing a song to his newborn daughter. The mom is from Australia, and his sons call her Koala. So Bully's two sons are singing to their little sister about Koala.
He sent me a little snippet singing it with his boys. I had, like, five studio sessions going, and I threw everything away, just skipped everything and worked on this. That's how much I felt like, I just want to go where this is taking me. That's what inspires me every day, coming back to freedom. I just did it because I felt like I wanted to do that, and now I'm really happy that we're putting it out.
The third recent single is "Dream Team." That's a very collaborative record with some people that I'm working with more and more. The idea was sent to me, and I was drawn to that little bit of something punk rock. I heard so many different pieces of music in one song that I felt very inspired to work on it.
If "Koala" was like, Zoom, here it is; this is the other type — when you're drawn to it, you like it, and then you have to keep on working on it. At times, I wanted to give up so badly, but there's something in me that won't ever give up on that challenge; some type of pressure I put on myself. This is a collaborative record with other people, and we're sending it back and forth. Snippets were changing, but it was a cool journey, and sometimes that's what it takes to make a record. I'm not scared to put it down and take it back up again. I'll never give up.
It's like "Peanut Butter Jelly." I wrote that thing 10 years before it came out. I pitched that to so many artists, and no one liked it. Everyone hated it, and every time someone disliked it, the more I used to be like, I'm gonna put it out one day, and I did — and it's a pretty big record for Galantis, actually.
It gets easier with experience, to have more output but less of a stressful life. You know how to do stuff. In the beginning, I was living in the studio basically, but today, I get more music out than ever, and I don't have to live in the studio anymore. I do create music 24/7 anyway. It's just in my head, you know?
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
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.
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."
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.
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."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.