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Coheed And Cambria's Claudio Sanchez Talks Comics, Kurt Vonnegut & What's Next For 'The Amory Wars'
The hard-rocking frontman goes deep on Coheed's multi-dimensional storytelling, attempting to play D&D, his first-ever live music experiences and more
Coheed and Cambria don't simply make albums, they create musical and lyrical universes. Specifically surrounding the story of The Amory Wars—sci-fi-ish storylines that mesh with comics, books, videos and visuals to create a linear through-line among nearly all the band's albums. If that sounds like a Pink Floyd or RUSH fan's dream, maybe; but it’s also captivating for the everyperson who likes their rock heady and multi-dimensional. As evidenced on nine albums since 2002's The Second Stage Turbine Blade debut, Coheed and Cambria's unique conceptual approach can be grandiose but never pompous; poppy but never lightweight, creative but never unwieldy.
Comprised of Claudio Sanchez (vocals/guitar), Travis Stever (guitar), Josh Eppard (drums) and Zach Cooper (bass), the band began in Nyack, New York in 1995. Driven by Sanchez's fully realized tales, CandC's latest album, 2018's cinematic Vaxis—Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart and Top 15 on the Billboard 200 chart. The record kicks off with a spare piano and a spooky spoken-word "Prologue" that sets up the chant-along rocker "The Dark Sentencer," delving into gems like the pop-tastic "Old Flames" before concluding its 78-minute journey with the gentle guitar/vocals/strings "Lucky Stars."
The Recording Academy caught up with down-to-earth frontman via phone from the Brooklyn apartment he shares with his wife (and frequent collaborator) Chondra Echert and son Atlas Hendrix. The conversation ranged from his 100-year-old grandfather (a.k.a. Beep Beep) to Kraftwerk to Dio to co-sleeping. And, drum roll, please—Sanchez also revealed a brand-new CandC endeavor that will thrill fans.
Since all your songs and albums have such storylines, as a kid in school, what kind of writing were you doing; was English your best subject?
No, not really. It wasn't until I picked up a guitar that I actually started to write. My imagination was always very alive. Certainly when music was acting as the soundtrack to [words], whether it was like a mundane car ride with my mother or father, whatever was playing on the radio would conjure up visuals in my mind, whether superheroes or science fiction characters, I would always pictures, scenes, as long as the song was really strong, you know?
At that age, what were you reading?
I think it was mostly comic books. I wasn't the most active participant in school, putting it nicely. I did well, though; I did enough to, to pacify my parents. I wasn't a bad kid or anything. But for the most part I liked the story telling told in other mediums, whether it was movies, video games, or the ones that I would construct with action figures. Comics were a big one. I would frequent shops on the Wednesdays when new things would come out, Batman or whatever. When I got into high school, Kurt Vonnegut was a big one. I actually remember when I bought my first edition, at the used book store in Nyack. Slaughterhouse Five. I remember looking at the cover and seeing that it had two titles and being totally intrigued by that. I forget… the First Crusade or something? It was like Slaughterhouse Five or Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah. [The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death.] So from there to Breakfast Of Champions [(or Goodbye Blue Mondays)].
The two-title thing explains a lot about you now in Coheed! No one-word titles!
[Laughs.] No way!
You mentioned that a job you had as a teen really spurred the music and lyrics of what became Coheed and Cambria.
Yes, my pet store job, just 'cause the guys there allowed me to do what I needed to do to allow the band to grow. You know, they gave me the weekends off when I needed them. Working in that store inspired a lot of like little details within the Amory Wars, the Coheed story. Like the name of the solar system that the actual story takes place on is called the Keywork after the guys that own the store. I named the solar system after them. I chose the color of the interlocking theme of Keywork to be blue because I worked on fish tanks, and they'd have these blue backdrops. The main villain I named after one of the managers because he actually said, "Hey, if you ever do make this story, I want to be your villain." The fact that he sort of believed in me, that I would actually make this thing … So I named the character after him.
I know it was in Paris where you first created the Coheed and Cambria characters and more. Was it the city itself that that was influential or was it just being out of your normal environment?
I think it was a little bit of both. I went to Paris for about a month to visit a girlfriend at the time. I had never been that far away from home. Jersey was probably the furthest distance I'd traveled, literally, and here I was at 18, ready to hit Europe, with really no idea what to expect. Once I got there, the architecture had a lot to do with maybe feeling like I was in an alien environment. Originally the story with the title The Bag On Line Adventures Adventures of Coheed and Cambria after the bag shop I was living across the street from. I thought that that was appropriate because I was traveling and, you know, sort of the wild things that would come out of your bag.
Even though the bags had nothing to do with the story, there was just something about the shop that made sense to me. I loosely based the characters of Coheed and Cambria after myself and my significant other at that moment. But as I started to really write songs and flesh out the ideas of the story, Coheed and Cambria really started to take on the likenesses of my mother and father. And it really became like a science fiction story about my family; that's where all the little details from life started to spill into it. Like the pet store stuff. The Amory Wars; Amory is actually the road I lived on. And 78 planets of Heaven's Fence was actually taken from the year I was born, 1978. There's a lot of symbolism in the real story that sort of resides behind the science fiction.
As so much of your art is interconnected; is it possible for people to just listen to the music and not even be aware of the books and comics, and vice versa?
I love that it can be consumed in any way; the consumer can choose how to ingest it. When it comes to the music side of things, I try not to force the concept. The themes are there. But I also want it to feel universal because it is, it's coming from someplace very, very deep, very real. I want it to feel in a way separate, but if you were to conjoin it with the comics, then there's a whole other experience. And vice-versa. It does happen at comic conventions where someone will come to the booth and say something like, "I really enjoy this story." And then wonder what the T-shirts are. Then they’re like, "Oh, wait a second, this is a band?" Sometimes that'll happen. You know, clearly the band is definitely the fuel for everything, but it does have its own legs in the other sort of dimension of the whole thing. I'm really all for however you want to perceive it. It's totally fine.
So releasing a single from the middle of an album is OK by you?
I don't think there's anything wrong with listening to the one song outside of the context of the whole. I've had a magic of watching MTV as a kid; the television that you would like turn the dial and instead of the remote! I remember seeing Madonna's "Material Girl." Michael Jackson's "Beat It." I didn't need to know that there was anything else. That was enough for me and I wanted to hear it over and over again! I get that sort of that method of consuming music.
Of course, Pink Floyd's The Wall and Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime are conceptual landmarks. What did you dig?
My first year of high school, that's when I started to go to concerts. My first two concerts were really, I think, what cemented me into the idea of this much bigger story in terms of music. The first one was Sabbath at the Beacon Theater with Dio fronting. This is my first concert. I didn't even know that the live sort of thing… I mean, I think I even know that was a thing! I went and I was like, "Wow, this is amazing the way the lights are interacting with the band." Then my second one was Pink Floyd on the Division Bell tour. That's when I started to fall down the rabbit hole of progressive rock and conceptual albums and things like that. ‘Cause after that it was The Wall, Dark Side [of the Moon], Animals. Again, just watching the visuals and music interact with each live, but even the myth of playing Wizard Of Oz against Dark Side, you know. Of course I tried it!
I read a while ago where Mark Wahlberg and his production company had interest in Amory Wars as a live-action film. What happened with that? Are there any other projects related to that universe?
Yeah, the Mark Wahlberg agreement expired, so nothing really happened with it. But at the moment we are working with an animation company on turning the Amory Wars into either a full-length animation or sort of a serial animation. We're in the process of that, as well as looking to adapt the stories into board games.
Wow! That's exciting.
You know, I notice our fanbase will sometimes come to the shows early, and I wanted like to do something that will get them involved with each other in these moments. I thought board games was an interesting thing, or even card games, these legacy card games a la Magic [The Gathering], you know? At the moment that's what we're in the middle of.
Did you play Dungeons and Dragons?
I tried. I did. The thing is, I played it a couple of times before I moved, and really enjoyed it, but then I could never find people to play with again. Like I'm pretty socially awkward. I have a hard time meeting people. I really do. I'm really horrible at that.
Aww. Well, any Coheed and Cambria game endeavor has so many ways it could go…
I'd want to do something really cool like either being part of the events of the story or maybe multiple games that are the events of the story. But I'm very excited. I think it's a really cool time to be a Coheed fan ‘cause all of these sort of things are percolating. I know that the fan base really desired something on another platform. I'm really excited for the animation. I think it could be really cool. So we're just sort of working our way through all the details and trying to put together the team that makes the most sense to really bring it to life.
Do you think it could be out as early 2020?
Oh, that might be a little too early. We haven't announced the actual partner, so we're just still trying to get that piece in place before we actually announce.
Photo: ZIK Images/United Archives via Getty Images
15 Reissues And Archival Releases For Your Holiday Shopping List
2023 was a banner year for reissues and boxed sets; everyone from the Beatles to Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones got inspired expansions and repackagings. Here are 15 more to scoop up before 2023 gives way to 2024.
Across 2023, we've been treated to a shower of fantastic reissues, remixes and/or expansions. From the Beatles' Red and Blue albums, to Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, to the Who's Who's Next, the list is far too massive to fit into a single article.
And, happily, it's not over yet: from now until Christmas, there are plenty more reissues to savor — whether they be mere vinyl represses, or lavish plumbings of the source material replete with outtakes.
As you prepare your holiday shopping list, don't sleep on these 15 reissues for the fellow music fanatic in your life — or pick up a bundle for yourself!
X-Ray Spex - Conscious Consumer (Vinyl Reissue)
Whether you view them through the lens of Black woman power or simply their unforgettable, snarling anthems, English punks X-Ray Spex made an indelible mark with their debut 1978 album, Germfree Adolescents.
Seventeen years later, they made a less-discussed reunion album, 1995's Conscious Consumer — which has been unavailable over the next 27 years. After you (re)visit Germfree Adolescents, pick up this special vinyl reissue, remastered from the original tape.
That's out Dec. 15; pre-order it here.
Fall Out Boy - Take This to Your Grave (20th Anniversary Edition)
Released the year before their breakthrough 2005 album From Under the Cork Tree — the one with "Dance, Dance" and "Sugar, We're Goin Down" on it — Fall Out Boy's Take This to Your Grave remains notable and earwormy. The 2004 album aged rather well, and contains fan favorites like "Dead on Arrival."
Revisit the two-time GRAMMY nominees' Myspace-era gem with its 20th anniversary edition, which features a 36-page coffee table book and two unreleased demos: "Colorado Song" and "Jakus Song." It's available Dec. 15.
Coheed and Cambria - Live at the Starland Ballroom
Coheed and Cambria is more than a long-running rock band; they're a sci-fi multimedia universe, as well as a preternaturally tight live band.
Proof positive of the latter is Live at the Starland Ballroom, a document of a performance at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey, in 2004 — that hasn't been on vinyl until now. Grab it here; it dropped Nov. 24, for Record Store Day Black Friday.
Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark Demos
Joni Mitchell Archives – Vol. 3: The Asylum Years (1972–1975), from last October, is a terrific way to do just that; its unvarnished alternate versions strip away the '70s gloss to spellbinding effect.
Which is no exception regarding the Court and Spark demos, which got a standalone release for RSD Black Friday.
P!NK - TRUSTFALL (Deluxe Edition)
The dependable Pink returned in 2023 with the well-regarded TRUSTFALL, and it's already getting an expanded presentation.
Its Deluxe Edition is filled with six previously unheard live recordings from her 2023 Summer Carnival Stadium Tour. Therein, you can find two new singles, including "Dreaming," a collaboration with Marshmello and Sting. Pre-order it today.
Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle (30th Anniversary Edition)
After his star-making turn on Dr. Dre's The Chronic, 16-time GRAMMY nominee Snoop Dogg stepped out with his revolutionary, Dre-assisted debut album, Doggystyle.
Permeated with hedonistic, debaucherous fun, the 1993 classic only furthered G-funk's momentum as a force within hip-hop.
Revisit — or discover — the album via this 30-year anniversary reissue, available now on streaming and vinyl.
As per the latter, the record is available special color variants, including a gold foil cover and clear/cloudy blue vinyl via Walmart, a clear and black smoke vinyl via Amazon and a green and black smoke vinyl via indie retailers.
Alicia Keys - The Diary of Alicia Keys 20
Alicia Keys has scored an incredible 15 GRAMMYs and 31 nominations — and if that run didn't exactly begin with 2003's The Diary of Alicia Keys, that album certainly cemented her royalty.
Her heralded second album, which features classics like "Karma," "If I Was Your Woman"/"Walk On By" and "Diary," is being reissued on Dec. 1 — expanded to 24 tracks, and featuring an unreleased song, "Golden Child."
The Sound of Music (Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set)
Fifty-seven years has done nothing to dim the appeal of 1965's The Sound of Music — both the flick and its indelible soundtrack.
Re-immerse yourself in classics like "My Favorite Things" via The Sound of Music (Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set), which arrives Dec. 1.
The box contains more than 40 previously unreleased tracks, collecting every musical element from the film for the first time, along with instrumentals for every song, demos and rare outtakes from the cast.
Furthermore, an audio Blu-ray features the full score in hi-res plus a new Dolby Atmos mix of the original soundtrack. And the whole shebang is housed in a 64-page hardbound book with liner notes from film preservationist Mike Matessino.
ABBA - The Visitors (Deluxe Edition)
With their eighth album, 1981's The Visitors, the Swedish masterminds — and five-time GRAMMY nominees — stepped away from lighter fare and examined themselves more deeply than ever.
The result was heralded as their most mature album to date — and has been repackaged before, with a Deluxe Edition in 2012.
This (quite belated) 40th anniversary edition continues its evolution in the marketplace. And better late than never: The Visitors was their final album until their 2021 farewell, Voyage, and on those terms alone, deserves reexamination.
Aretha Franklin - A Portrait of the Queen 1970-1974
A Portrait of the Queen 1970-1974 compiles her first five albums of the 1970s: This Girl's In Love With You, Spirit in the Dark, Young Gifted and Black, Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), and Let Me In Your Life.
Each has been remastered from the analog master tapes. The vinyl version has a bonus disc of session alternates, outtakes & demos. Both CD and vinyl versions are packaged with booklets featuring sleeve notes by Gail Mitchell and David Nathan. Grab it on Dec. 1.
Fela Kuti - Box Set #6
From the great beyond, Fela Kuti has done music journalists a solid in simply numbering his boxes. But this isn't just any Kuti box: it's curated by the one and only Idris Elba, who turned in a monumental performance as Stringer Bell on "The Wire."
The fifth go-round contains the Afrobeat giant's albums Open & Close, Music of Many Colors, Stalemate, I Go Shout Plenty!!!, Live In Amsterdam (2xLP), and Opposite People. It includes a 24 page booklet featuring lyrics, commentaries by Afrobeat historian Chris May, and never-before-seen photos.
The box is only available in a limited edition of 5,000 worldwide, so act fast: it's also available on Dec. 1.
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (The Baskerville Edition) / Hounds of Love (The Boxes of Lost Sea)
Kate Bush rocketed back into the public consciousness in 2022, via "Stranger Things." The lovefest continues unabated with these two editions of Hounds of Love, which features that signature song: "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God.)
The Rolling Stones - December's Children (And Everybody's), Got Live If You Want It! And The Rolling Stones No. 2 (Vinyl Reissues)
These three '60s Stones albums have slipped between the cracks over the years — but if you love the world-renowned rock legends in its infancy, they're essential listens.
No. 2 is their second album from 1965; the same year's December's Children is the last of their early songs to lean heavily on covers; Got Live If You Want It! is an early live document capturing the early hysteria swarming around the band.
On Dec. 1, they're reissued on 180g vinyl; for more information and to order, visit here.
Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother (Special Edition)
No, it's not half as famous as The Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall — but 1970's lumpy Atom Heart Mother certainly has its partisans.
Rediscover a hidden corner of the Floyd catalog — the one between Ummagumma and Meddle — via this special edition, which features newly discovered live footage from more than half a century ago.
The Black Crowes - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
After endless fraternal infighting, the Black Crowes are back — can they keep it together?
In the meantime, their second album, 1992's The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, remains a stellar slice of roots rock — as a sprawling, three-disc Super Deluxe Edition bears out. If you're a bird of this feather, don't miss it when it arrives on Dec. 15.
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.
Photo: Alexandra Gavillet
Watch: Coheed And Cambria Reveal Animated Video For "Ladders Of Supremacy" From 'Vaxis: Act II'
A highlight from their most recent album, 'Vaxis: Act II — A Window of the Waking Mind,' the video for "Ladders of Supremacy" got the animated treatment and just premiered on an anime site.
On behalf of his band, Coheed and Cambria, Claudio Sanchez has led GRAMMY.com readers through fantastical realms, regarding the story behind their 2022 album Vaxis: Act II — A Window of the Waking Mind.
Now, we've received yet another window into Sanchez's imagination. A new, animated video for "Ladders of Supremacy" just dropped — not on a music site, but the online anime bastion Crunchyroll.com.
As director Darin Vartanian, a.k.a. Pixelface, explained in a statement, "The animation seeks to interpret chapter 8 of Vaxis 2 in a collage of high-fidelity 3D scenes, employing the subjective perspectives of each character's mind's eye.
"In this frozen moment in time," he continued, "the characters bear witness to a comprehensive array of past and future events, intricately woven into the very fabric of their most crucial decisions."
Check out the mind-bending clip below:
Photo: Rachel Kupfer
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.
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'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 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 (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'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.