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Chill Moody & Donn T On Their Soulful New Project &More Backstage At Roots Picnic

&More

Photo: Courtesy of &More

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Chill Moody & Donn T On Their Soulful New Project &More Backstage At Roots Picnic

Philadelphia duo &More are bringing a conversation that began among themselves to the greater world through their debut album, 'Ethel Bobcat'

GRAMMYs/Jun 3, 2019 - 01:50 am

As cliche as it may sound, the unspoken goal of any high-profile musical collaboration is becoming greater than the sum of its parts. When two staples of the Philadelphia music community, Donn T and Chill Moody, joined forces to create &More, the result was a debut album that united a collective of Philly musicians and embodies the spirit and soul of a city built on music.


But their debut album, Ethel Bobcat, goes further than resting on its contributors reputations. With songs like the infectious "Whoa" and the deep "Future Coming Round," it accomplishes a goal Chill Moody outlines as "starting a conversation." The Recording Academy caught up with Donn T and Chill Moody in Philadelphia backstage at this year's Roots Picnic to talk about &More, their recent NPR Tiny Desk performance, the Philly music community, and more.

This is my first Roots Picnic, but I'm curious, you guys are such staples of Philadelphia, what does Roots Picnic mean to the city? 

 
Donn T: Absolutely. It's my third time doing it, twice as a solo artist, Donn T. First time with Chill Moody as we are &More, but yeah, it's historic. It's an institution.
 
Chill Moody: To me it's like a big family reunion, like it's people you may not see, [but you see] at the Roots Picnic every year [and] when you see them, it's like you've been hanging with them every day. It's just love and everybody's having a good time.
It's my fourth time performing. Well, it's the third one in Philly and then I did the New York joint. Every time, it's just like the same love. Everybody is really excited to see each other. It's bigger than the stage, it's just the camaraderie and like I say, it's just family.
 
Philadelphia's always felt that way to me.
 
Donn T: Yeah, for sure. A lot of artist support, right? It's like artists supporting artists as well as the public supporting us, so cool.
 
Ethel Bobcat is such a collaborative process. What do you feel you accomplished with this record together that maybe you couldn't do alone?
 
Chill Moody: The goal with the record was just to start a conversation, continue a conversation that we have with each other and in our circles, but expand on that and just get people talking. That was the only rally call, if you will.
 
Donn T: Yeah.
 
Chill Moody: Let's talk about what's going on and from that hopefully find solutions, but it's not like, "Here's the solution." It's like, no, "Here's the problem." Let's talk about this. Let's talk about what's going on in the world right now and let's figure out what we're going to do.
 
Donn T: In a really musical way, too.
 
Chill Moody: Right, right.
 
Donn T: So it's not like we're on a soapbox or anything like that, [we] just do it in a fun way, in a profound way. Just have fun with it and be really musical. So, that's the feedback that we're getting about the album, which is cool. 
 
We were talking about the NPR performance before the interview, what a trip to be on that. Could you tell us a little bit about the process, how you got involved with NPR Tiny Desk?
 
Donn T: Absolutely! Well, we submitted to NPR's Tiny Desk Contest, and we didn't win, but it was really great because afterwards we were contacted by Bob Boilen and he wanted us to do a concert because they were so impressed by our submission. So, it's cool. It was the song, "Whoa", and that also appears on our debut album.
 
 
I love "Whoa." I love "Future Come Around." I think it's a great kind of nightcap to the album.
 
Chill Moody: Word, word.
 
From what I read about it, it came sort of late in the process. What can you tell me about that song and what it meant to you to wrap the record like that?
 
Chill Moody: Donn actually found that first. Her and Ben were in the studio and they hit me up and was like, "Yo, we got one. We got the piece that we didn't know we were missing to this album," and the hook was already on there, and I think Terry—actually, it was Helen or Terry. They called me and was like, "Yo, what is that playing in the studio right now that they're working on? Whatever that is, that's y'all one right there," so—
 
Donn T: And that's funny. When they said that, we didn't really know what it was.
 
Chill Moody: Right, right, right.
 
Donn T: Because I hadn't gone by ... I remember that day, it was really clear. I had stopped by the studio to pick up something. I didn't even go in to write and I poked my head in, said, "Hey, what's up, Ben?" And he happened to be playing something and I was leaving. I was like, "Oh, that's dope." And then I walked to the other side of the door and I couldn't leave ... I started writing ... I could just hear the hook, and I'm thinking, "Wow, I didn't plan for this. I got to go back in and record this" and so, it wasn't even my session. I just bombarded, and yeah, we put it down. Helen and Terry came by and yeah, Chill got on and it became a special one for &More.
 
That gave me chills. I love that story.
 
Chill Moody: Word.
 
When the music stops you in your tracks.
 
Donn T: Yeah, yeah.
 
Chill, did I read that you are the Music Ambassador of Philadelphia? Can you talk a little bit about that?
 
Chill Moody: I've held that position for I think like six years now? Councilman David Oh appointed me to the position. Just me serving is like a liaison [between] the artists of the city and the people who could help provide opportunities and whatever ... So I'm kind of like the middle man, glorified but it's like also, I get a chance to figure out the qualms that we may have in the city with how we treat our independent artists and also provide some opportunity that people aren't really in tune to. Like knowing [what] we need in the city.
 
From that, we started the Philadelphia Music Industry Task Force. I'm a founding member of that as well, and [it's] just more of just getting simple stuff done, but stuff that might just be going under the rug, that you might not know we need for the independent artists.
 
Sort of like loading zones?
 
Chill Moody: Loading zones, right, like simple stuff like that.
 
Donn T: Really important.
 
Chill Moody: Right, but in travels, I see how a city like a Nashville or Austin and even in Toronto, how they treat their independent artists. How they understand that that music that they make is like an export from that location, and trying to bring that back into Philadelphia and explain to people here, the powers that be, if you will, what we can do to compete. Because talent-wise, nobody is messing with Philly, and I stand on that. Industry-wise, we need some help, so it's like A-level talent, maybe like C-level industry that we got to kind of work on.
 
Donn, I want to ask you, you're so deeply rooted in the history of this town and the music culture here, but this is a forward looking project and a forward looking industry, frankly. What do you see when you look ahead, the future of Philadelphia music, knowing everything that you know and that is ingrained about, what are you excited about? 
 
Donn T: Innovation. It's innovation and what I've always been excited about. Like Chill said, hands down, nobody can touch Philly musically and that's what I love about Philly. Philly is always surprising you musically and there's always the freedom to reinvent in Philly as well, which is kind of what I've done as an artist, Donn T, you know as a solo artist, and then various collaborations, and then my collaboration with Chill Moody, with &More. It's always about that fresh look, and Philly, we'll applaud you for that. We can be tentative, but when something is dope, you know we have to get the nod, all right?
 
I like that. What's next for &More? What are you guys looking to do?
 
Donn T: We're on tour right now. We're headed down to North Carolina.
 
Chill Moody: Literally tomorrow.
 
Donn T: Literally.
 
Chill Moody: Flying into North Carolina to perform with St. Paul & The Broken Bones. Got a couple dates with them. Yeah, just more tours, festivals-
 
Donn T: Yeah, more tours. Absolutely.
 

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Tyga Talks Inspiration Behind "Go Loko" & Collaborating With L.A. Rappers Like YG

Tyga 

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Tyga Talks Inspiration Behind "Go Loko" & Collaborating With L.A. Rappers Like YG

"Growing up in L.A., it's a really big culture here, Mexican culture," the rapper said. "So we really wanted to do something to give back to the culture."

GRAMMYs/Jun 8, 2019 - 04:16 am

Tyga's latest collab has him paying tribute to Los Angeles' large Mexican community. The rapper is featured on fellow L.A. rapper YG's  leading single, "Go Loko" off his latest album 4REAL 4REAL and when asked about his take on the song, he says much of it was inspired by Mexico's cultural impact. 

"Growing up in L.A., it's a really big culture here," he said. "Even YG could tell you, he grew up around all Mexicans, so we really wanted to do something to give back to the culture."

The video features visuals and symbolisms inpired by the Mexican community, including mariachi, but also by the Puerto Rican community (you'll easily spot the boricua flag). The song also features Puerto Rican rapper Jon Z. Tyga mentioned the diversity of Latinos on the different coasts and wanted to make a song that also celebrates the different Latin cultures in the country. "We wanted to do something different to kinda try to bring all Latins together," he said. 

Watch the video above to hear more about the song and the vibe when he joins forces with other L.A. rapppers. 

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Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

ARI

Photo: Nicole Davis

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Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Aug 12, 2020 - 02:59 am

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, rising singer/songwriter ARI shares her quarantine diary. ARI's debut IDIOT GRL EP is out Aug. 14.

[9:40 a.m.] A late start to the day. I just woke up to my cat Malakai licking my face and snuggling under my chin, desperate for cuddles. I reluctantly gave in before diving into my morning routine, which starts by going through all of the daily news on my Snapchat feed to see what’s going on in the world.

[11 a.m.] Just out of the shower and into the kitchen for the usual: tea and avocado toast. I don’t typically like tea or coffee, but I had this amazing tea from Starbucks once and fell in love with it. I ended up finding the recipe and making it myself, and to be honest, I like my version better. Once I boil the kettle, I start part two of my morning “meditation”: watching one of my favourite shows while I respond to emails. With the IDIOT GRL EP coming out next week, I can tell you there are a TON of emails. I turned on "Gilmore Girls" (my guilty pleasure) and opened up my laptop to go through my calendar.

[1:45 p.m.] Recording session time. Zoom calls have become my everyday life. It’s crazy to think that this time last year, you could actually be in a room with people. Now the most social interaction I get is virtually. On the positive side, I get to set up my little home studio from the comfort of my own bed and I find the sessions to be really productive with no outside distractions.

[3:30 p.m.] Malakai is meowing at my door. As I try to sing over him, eventually I can’t ignore his cute little voice. We take a quick break and I have a little playtime with him. I can hear my song playing in the living room—it still weirds me out hearing myself. My guess is my roommate aka my manager is sending off final approval for the “IDIOT GRL” music video, which comes out the same day as the EP. Super excited for everyone to finally see it!

[6:00 p.m.] Time for dinner. It may just be my favourite part of the day. During my session, my roommate cooked us some delicious pasta. We eat dinner together every night, which is really nice. Usually, after dinner, we wind down and watch TV, but we decided to try doing an arts and crafts project tonight. I watched this TikTok video of a DIY way to make music plaques. You take a screenshot of a song on Spotify and use a marker to trace out the name of the song, artist, play button, etc. Once that’s done, you simply add the album artwork of your choice, frame it, and voila! I thought it would be a cool idea to make a wall of each of the songs off of my EP.

[9:00 p.m.] After an eventful day, I decided to go watch a drive-in Maple Leafs game (wearing a mask, of course). My sister works for the TSN network and started hosting drive-in game nights to promote the network and social distancing events. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest hockey fan, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to spend time with my family.

[11:30 p.m.] I finally get home and hop straight into bed. I feel like I haven’t spent much time on Instagram today, so figured I’d open it up before getting some shuteye. I launched the pre-save link for the EP today and told my followers that I would DM anyone who pre-saved it and sent me a screenshot. I always love getting to interact with my fans and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see how excited people are for my debut EP. It’s a great feeling to end the day with.

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EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Mexican Institute Of Sound Takes Gaby Moreno Into New Musical Territory With Mystifying "Yemayá"

Gaby Moreno 

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EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Mexican Institute Of Sound Takes Gaby Moreno Into New Musical Territory With Mystifying "Yemayá"

Listen to the synth-infused track blending pop and Latin sounds that's named after the Afro-Carribean goddess who represents fertility, water and self-love

GRAMMYs/Jun 25, 2020 - 08:56 pm

Anything Mexican Institute Of Sound (MIS), a.k.a Camilo Lara, touches turns into musical gold. The Mexican producer and artist proves that with celebrated GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Gaby Moreno in "Yemayá."

Moreno, whose soothing voice we have heard magically adapt to a range of genres including Americana, Latin folk and R&B, continues exploring her creative range this time with GRAMMY-nominated Lara in the synth-infused, mystifying track blending pop and Latin sounds. The catchy song about the overpowering feeling of love is named after the Afro-Carribean goddess who represents fertility, water and self-love.

Moreno told the Recording Academy she and Lara wanted to capture the deity's essence in their collaboration:

"She's a powerful woman of color taking all forms. It's a universal theme and we wanted to incorporate this mysterious and mystic figure into the song, since it's part of the folklore of many different cultures." 

The song, which Lara brought to Moreno and was written in one day in 2019 at Red Bull Studios, takes Moreno into new territory. 

"I’ve been a big admirer of [Lara's] work and esthetic and the way he blends Latin folk music with electronic and hip hop. I come from a fairly different musical background, having very rarely experimented with synths and those kinds of sounds, so this was a really fun and different collaboration for me," she said. "I got to step out of my comfort zone and bring forth something a bit unusual but very much enjoyable, nonetheless."

The Guatemalan singer/songwriter will also soon be releasing "Fire Inside," a song she wrote with Andrew Bissell. The song has already been featured on ABC’s "Station 19", TLC’s promo "I Am Jazz," UK’s "Free Rein," NBC’s "American Ninja Warrior" and recently on YouTube’s "Dear Class of 2020."

Moreno is also working on an upcoming album she will produce herself and is also producing other artists. 

Listen to "Yemayá" in full above. 

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5 Texas Artists Who Rocked Austin City Limits 2019

Alesia Lani at ACL 2019

Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images

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5 Texas Artists Who Rocked Austin City Limits 2019

From Kacey Musgraves to Gary Clark Jr., a sonically and racially diverse array of artists put their best notes forward at ACL 2019

GRAMMYs/Oct 14, 2019 - 03:14 am

There’s no place like home, and, over the last two weekends, several Texan artists represented their hometowns at Austin City Limits Festival 2019.

Reflective of the state itself, a sonically and racially diverse array of artists put their best notes forward, even if the weather, which began in the upper 40s on Friday and warmed to a high of 79 on Sunday, was a little moody. With the exception of Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who missed her allotted set time, each artist proved to be a standout act in one of the country's greatest music hubs. Some would say it was all “a big dream,” as R&B artist Alesia Lani describes it. 

Here are a few names, both familiar and on the rise, who rocked the stages at Zilker Park.

PNTHN
 

Hometown: All over Texas

Following in the prevalent trend of doing away with vowels, this eight-man rap collective’s name is pronounced “pantheon.” Earlier this year they told Complex they’re “a group of gods coming together.” Amongst them is a graphic designer, a photographer and several producers. This year at ACL gives the Texas-based group a chance to let the audience decide for themselves. 

Kacey Musgraves
 

Hometown: Golden

"The sky is finally open, the rain and wind start blowin'… You hold tight to your umbrella, darlin’ I’m just tryna tell ya/That there’s always been a rainbow hanging over your head." Is that a Kacey Musgraves song, or a description of this crisp year at ACL? Let’s say both. The country-pop singer's show, lacking in neither hand clapping nor yee-haws, was one of the festival’s most awaited acts. The 2019 Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner dazzled and serenaded the audience in her golden-hour slot.

Alesia Lani
 

Photo: Daniel Mendoza The Recording Academy

Hometown: Austin

This year marked Alesia Lani’s first time performing at ACL. The Missouori-born R&B loyal who grew up in Austin, Texas took a moment to chat with the Recording Academy, telling us of the city's artistic nature, “With Austin, there's so much room for opportunity... There's so much room to grab your goals and get out there and talk to people." Beloved by locals, the soul singer hopes being in Austin will shed light on the authentic work she’s doing. In 2015, she, along with GRAMMY winner Gary Clark Jr., earned a spot of The Austin Chronicle’s list of top 10s. Her upcoming work, she shares, will differ from her prior two albums. As she sings on "Along the Way,” from 2017’s Resilient, she’s figuring it out as she goes.  

Dayglow
 

Photo: Kahlil Levy

Hometown: Aledo

19-year-old Dayglow (Sloan Struble) is so good at making dreamy bedroom pop he’s reportedly decided to take a bet on it, leaving college in Austin behind to pursue a more long-term musical career in Nashville, Tenn. This will perhaps be the first time the Texan ops to live outside the state, and this year will forever live on as his first festival performance. The entirety of his debut self-produced and the self-released album was recorded in the bedroom he grew up in. 

Gary Clark Jr.
 

Hometown: Austin

Gary Clark Jr., signed to Warner Bros Records, is ahead of his time. In 2014, he won a GRAMMY for Best Traditional R&B Performance and was nominated for Best Rock Song. At 35, he’s shared the stage with the likes of Beyoncé and the Rolling Stones. His latest LP, This Land, is already a conversation-starter, with fans taking the liberty to nominate him for awards that won’t have a list of potential claimants for months to come. In the meantime, Clark tells KVUE his only plans on the horizon at the moment are to "ride off into the sunset with my family and go hide out for a second." Needless to say, those who got to see his nine-song set over these last two weekends were in for a treat.

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