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:NEXT With Alex Ritchie: The Musical Triple Threat On Her New EP, Drawing Inspiration From Imagine Dragons & More

Alex Ritchie

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:NEXT With Alex Ritchie: The Musical Triple Threat On Her New EP, Drawing Inspiration From Imagine Dragons & More

The emerging artist, songwriter and producer opens up about her path to success, the release of '404' and more in the premiere episode of :NEXT, the Recording Academy's new digital series on the future of the music industry

GRAMMYs/Oct 29, 2019 - 12:14 am

Every success story starts somewhere. Los Angeles' Alex Ritchie counts her breakout moment as being asked to perform at a women's rock night at Hollywood's famous Whisky a Go Go after the booking agent heard something special in her rough, homemade recordings on her MySpace page. Over a decade later, Ritchie has worked in a variety of music industry roles with several creative heavyweights, has released her debut EP, 404, and is now the subject of the premier episode of :NEXT, the Recording Academy's new short-run digital series featuring the future of the music industry.

The triple-threat artist, songwriter and producer has cultivated her passion for music from joining GRAMMY U, the Recording Academy's music industry college student resource network, to the Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter's GRAMMYNext program for future music industry leaders, to her return her artist beginnings with the release of her brand new EP earlier this year. But her musical dreams didn't always seem so within reach.

“I’m the only musician in my family, and I came from a family of humble means; so even though I had conviction in what I wanted from a young age, it wasn’t “realistic,” Ritchie said. "I’d seen my parents suffer from the economy crash in 2008 and, realistically speaking, pursuing something like entertainment was so risky. I couldn’t afford to fail. We couldn’t afford to dream like that. BUT I had unrealistic dreams anyway, and after my first gig at the Whisky I knew that was it.”

After her Sunset Strip debut, Ritchie got to work, honing her self-taught skills in the studio, joining GRAMMY U while in New York and, after moving back to L.A., working her way into collaborations with the likes of Harvey Mason Jr., Gizzle, Snipe Young, Keith Hetrick, Steve “Steve B” Baughman, David Kim, and Lee Major, to name a few. Ritchie also became the youngest sitting member on two Recording Academy L.A. Chapter committees, earned a full scholarship from Westlake Studios & Electronic Music Magazine to attend Westlake’s new Crē•8 Music Academy for music production, and built relationshisp and become recognized by mega-brands such as Delta and Fender. 

Working all over the page to develop her blossoming career, Ritchie names her musical influences as, well, everything, noting a specific interest in new music. But one influence that sticks out is GRAMMY-winning pop/rock band Imagine Dragons.

"Imagine Dragons has consistently put forth music that pushed boundaries. They're produced by Alex Da Kid, who's my idol producer," she said. "I really always wanted to marinade my roots from singer/songwriter and '90s rock music to what's going on currently, and I thought they did that perfectly with Evolve. It just made me want to step up my game and  really push boundaries and be super free and creative with any of the music I'm working on."

Ritchie poured this freedom and creativity into her new EP, 404, which dropped in May of 2019 and featured collaborations with up-and-coming talents, including The Wildcardz, Snipe Young, and Australia's Nick De La Hoyde. With a strong foundation from her time in GRAMMY U and a supportive network through GRAMMYNext already in place, Ritchie is ready to share her unique personal background and musical talents with a wider audience. She credits her hard work with the Recording Academy's developmental programs helped her find her voice as an artist, hope as a young person in the music industry and the confidence to step out from behind-the-scenes in pursuit of her artistic dreams.

"To be honest, I really milked the opportunities given through GRAMMY U. It opened so many doors to create relationships with a lot of the right people, and also gave me a chance to meet many heroes and listen to their stories about coming up in music. It was a program that gave me hope, especially when it felt the odds were stacked against me. I’m a mixed-race, predominantly Asian-looking LGBTQ+ artist," she said. "When I started music, that combination wasn’t considered ‘commercial;’ in fact, it was more of a hindrance than a help.  I’ve definitely always been the underdog in the race, and was often advised to stay behind the scenes as a songwriter/producer.  Hearing a lot of those comments from industry people really got to me, so the GRAMMY U sessions really made me feel like it was all still possible.”

With her debut EP out now, Ritchie is currently focused on pitching new music for film and media projects, a world she's already gained valuable experience in by working under music supervisor and mentor Tracy McKnight as an assistant music consultant on projects including Disney’s Wrinkle In Time and Hulu’s Obey Giant. As she continues to amass a diverse mix of experience in the music industry, Ritchie is primed to carry the torch for her generation of future music industry leaders, leading a pack of her peers from GRAMMY U to GRAMMY Award hopefuls. 

"The best part about being a 'Nexter' was that I got a whole new family, and It's given me a network of peers that I trust and constantly seek counsil from and work with on the daily," said Ritchie. "They're all killing it right now in their own respective positions. So It gave me that awesome network outside of the family I already had at the Recording Academy. I'm super thankful to know all of them."

Check out Alex's episode of :NEXT above and stay tuned for new editions of the three-part, short-run digital series rolling out each Monday.

:NEXT To Feature The Future Of The Music Industry

Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

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Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from student members. GRAMMY U celebrates new beginnings with fresh pop tunes that will kickstart 2023.

GRAMMYs/Jan 6, 2023 - 12:17 am

Did you know that among all of the students in GRAMMY U, songwriting and performance is one of the most sought after fields of study? We want to create a space to hear what these students are creating today!

The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that students are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify and Apple Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.

Each month, we accept submissions and feature 20 to 25 songs that match that month’s theme. This month we're ringing in 2023 with our New Year, It's Poppin'! playlist, which features fresh pop songs that bring new year, new you vibes. Showcasing talented members from our various chapters, we felt these songs represented the positivity and hopefulness that GRAMMY U members embody as they tackle this upcoming year of exciting possibilities.

So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify below and Apple Music.

Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our February playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the student member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify and/or Apple Music link to the song. Students must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.

About GRAMMY U:

GRAMMY U is a program that connects college students with the industry's brightest and most talented minds and provides those aspiring professionals with the tools and opportunities necessary to start a career in music.     

Throughout each semester, events and special programs touch on all facets of the industry, including the business, technology, and the creative process.

As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.

Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.

7 Highlights Of GRAMMY U's Fall 2022 Mentorship Program
Mentor Geronimo Vannicola (left) and mentee Dannon Johnson at the Audio Engineering Society convention in New York

Photo courtesy of GRAMMY U

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7 Highlights Of GRAMMY U's Fall 2022 Mentorship Program

GRAMMY U's mentorship program pairs college students with music industry professionals, with the goal of becoming successful in the industry. GRAMMY.com shares the stories of seven participants from across the country.

GRAMMYs/Dec 21, 2022 - 04:41 pm

Beginning a career in the music industry can be a winding and often rocky path, with few signposts to guide the way. But when you combine the enthusiasm of eager students and young professionals with the wisdom and guidance of industry veterans, no mountain is too difficult to climb.

Every semester, the GRAMMY U mentorship program sets out to create these connections, pairing professionals with student members pursuing a career in the same field. In some cases, mentors give their mentees a chance to get their hands dirty, working firsthand on industry projects and participating in professional settings.

With the GRAMMY U fall 2022 program wrapped up for the holidays, hear from student members and mentors for a glimpse at some of the opportunities and connections from this semester.

Jeff Silverman | Mentor | Nashville Chapter
Alex Wons | Mentee | Nashville Chapter

Silverman and Wons 7 Highlights Of GRAMMY U's Fall 2022 Mentorship Program

Alex Wons is a student at Middle Tennessee State University, double majoring in commercial songwriting and audio production, with several of his own releases out on all major platforms. He was paired with Jeff Silverman, a producer, engineer, songwriter, composer for film and TV, and former Motown staff writer with nearly 40 years of experience in the music industry. Silverman took to his social network pages to share his mentorship of Wons. "I looked at it as an opportunity to introduce Alex to all of the people that support me, with hopes that they too will support his work."

What started out as a Zoom meet and greet turned into an in-studio lesson on production, engineering, and the future of audio via Dolby Atmos. Silverman invited Wons to his studio, where they listened to 7.1.4 mixes and discussed go-to programs and plugins. The veteran listened to one of Won’s recent productions that he produced, mixed, mastered, and performed on. "I was so impressed that I asked if he would mind if I pass it around to a few of my film TV licensing contacts and see if there would be any interest," Silverman rounted, before encouraging Alex to always seek legal advice before signing an exclusive deal on his songs.

"We all need a mentor at some point in our lives if we’re going to grow. And I have many to thank for those landmark growing times in my lifetime in the music business," says Silverman.

Call Me Ace | Mentor | San Francisco Chapter
Vinal Chand | Mentee | San Francisco Chapter

grammy u fall mentorship 2022 vindal chand call me ace

Vinal Chand, an economics and communications student and rising senior at the UC Davis was paired with Ace Patterson, a strategy and operations consultant, marketer, designer, and hip-hop recording artist. The pair’s original focus for mentorship was securing an internship in the industry, a goal that proved attainable with Ace’s help, offering Chand an internship at his record label, Heir Quality.

"When my mentee told me that he wanted to work in music marketing but felt his recruitment options were limited by a lack of tangible experience in that space, I devised a plan with him to create an internship program through the new label I started, granting him a sizable opportunity to flex his digital marketing experience and demonstrate impact before he graduates college," Ace says.

Chand says one of the most transformative lessons he learned from Ace is that you need to create your own opportunities in the industry. "We don’t need a specific role or title to gain experience. The best people in the music industry are those that actively gain experiences on their own, whether it’s helping to promote local artists, editing your own projects, or creating content," Chand says. "The thing to remember is that you must trust in your own capabilities. You, too, deserve to be a part of this industry, just as anyone else."

Gene More | Mentor | Texas Chapter
Victor Fernando Aguilar | Mentee | Texas Chapter

grammy u fall mentorship 2022 Gene More Victor Fernando Aguilar

Victor Aguilar, a student at Visible Music College studying modern music and looking to pursue a career as a performing and touring musician, was paired with Gene Moore, a gospel artist, GRAMMY nominee, and radio announcer based in Houston. The two met weekly, talking through any roadblocks Aguilar faced that week and how to push himself to the next level. They met in person for their first session, in which Aguilar played a few songs while Moore's good friend, Chris Walker, offered feedback via FaceTime. Victor says he learned essential lessons about working hands-on during that session, noting "the most important thing … was to stay calm under pressure. Never let them see you sweat."   

Aguilar emphasized his mentor's drive to go the extra mile for him numerous times, creating an invaluable experience with priceless advice. "We will stay in touch even after this semester is over. I am planning a trip to Houston soon so that I can keep learning from him," Aguilar says. "These past months have been full of improvements thanks to his teachings, and his work ethic has inspired me to give my very best."

Michael Wansley | Mentor | PNW Chapter
Isaac Selby | Mentee | PNW Chapter

Isaac Selby is a recent Emory University marketing graduate, rap artist, and music marketer working for Yonas Media as well as a day-to-day manager for Latin GRAMMY nominated rock band Making Movies. He was paired with Michael Wansley, or Wanz, a GRAMMY-winning artist and vocalist based in Seattle. The pair met several times over Zoom and in person, including a recording session to track their collab song, the perfect project for Selby to put Wansley’s lessons in songwriting into action.

Selby recognized that he needed a deeper understanding of song structure to improve on his existing talents, and applied his mentor's lessons in structure, hook writing, and building interest. "He has gained a widened perspective of music outside of his preferred genre. The songwriting concepts we've discussed have gotten him excited about writing in a 'new' way," Wansley says.

Witness the mentorship magic as they have paired up to do a show on Jan. 11 at The Highdive in Seattle.

Geronimo Vannicola | Mentor | Philadelphia Chapter
Dannon Johnson | Mentee | Philadelphia Chapter

Geronimo Vannicola Dannon Johnson grammy u fall mentorship 2022

Dannon Johnson is a junior at Duquesne University majoring in sound recording, and is the owner/operator of a recording studio and live sound reinforcement company. She was paired with Geronimo Vannicola, a member of the production team for Fox’s music catalog and a vendor for Paramount providing music for sync.

Although the pair primarily connected virtually because of their location in different states, they met at the Audio Engineering Society convention in New York where Vannicola connected Johnson with professional peers. "To hear Geronimo speak so highly of me to his peers and for him to take the time to take my career as seriously as he has, has helped to validate my place in this industry," Johnson says. "He's shown me that my aspirations are possible and my dreams are closer to being reached than they may seem."

Vannicola encouraged Johnson to "build her own empire" by learning to delegate work and share workload — a key ingredient to the growth of any business. "Being so busy with work makes things like keeping up on my studio's social media difficult, and he's taught me to enlist those around me for help," Johnson says.

Working remotely didn’t stop the two from getting hands-on. Johnson updated Geronimo’s previous ProTools mixes and received expert feedback. "To have him look at my workflow and shoot back his own iteration of my mixes is something I cannot stress the invaluable nature of enough," she said. Vannicola spoke to the importance of this hands-on work, emphasizing that good mentorship is as much about shaping mindset as it is "about giving something tangible, whether it's a skill or opportunity to move forward with, shaping a bright future."

Craig Campbell | Mentor | Nashville Chapter
Sydney Pasceri | Mentee | Nashville Chapter

Craig Campbell Sydney Pasceri grammy u fall mentorship 2022

Sydney Pasceri — a student at Wake Forest University studying communications, and pursuing a career in music journalism, marketing, and public relations — was paired with Craig Campbell, the President of Campbell Entertainment, working in publicity and artist management.

Since Pasceri is based in North Carolina and Campbell in Nashville, the two didn’t work in person, but Campbell still found ways to engage with his mentee. He added Sydney to his press release distribution list so she could see how he writes about new releases, announces festivals and other related topics. "I still plan to get her the bones of a release, so she can write one!" Campbell says.

Pasceri said she appreciated how intentional Campbell was in getting to know her — the same skill and care that makes him stellar in the world of A&R. "I admire this dedication to getting to understand the person, rather than just the artist, and hope to carry this into my own career." Through their conversations, Pasceri learned that the music scene is very small, with Campbell knowing someone from every corner of the industry she mentioned. "It made me realize how important it is to make meaningful relationships with people in all different jobs in the business."

Campbell joined the mentorship program with an open mindset to potentially learn from someone at any point in their career. "As a mentor, I want to impart knowledge, but I also want to be challenged… I welcome someone questioning why or offering a different viewpoint." Campbell was thrilled to get the chance to mentor Pasceri: "Sydney is driven, curious, interesting, ambitious, and very focused; I'll probably be working for her one day!"

Al Thrash | Mentor | Atlanta Chapter
Jasmine Gordon | Mentee | Atlanta Chapter
 

Spelman College student Jasmine Gordon hopes to pursue a career in branding and marketing for clients in the music, sports, and entertainment industry, and is studying comparative women’s studies with a focus on branding and marketing in the media. Gordon was paired with Al Thrash, the Professor of Practice at Georgia State University and Project Manager at Thirty Tigers — one of the premiere music distribution companies in the industry.

"My mentor and I visited the record label, LVRN, and I sat in on one of his meetings with the CEO of the label. I learned how to adequately build and nurture relationships and the importance of your network," Gordon says, adding that she participated in the meeting and learned about opportunities at the label.

Thrash also introduced Gordon to the founders of Project Go Dark, an Atlanta-based intensive music industry pipeline for college students. Thrash highlighted that he collaborated with Gordon’s organization, Spelman College Women in Hip-Hop, for an alumni mixer during the historic SpelHouse Homecoming weekend. "This was an awesome experience, and I look forward to continuing to work with Jasmine as she develops into a professional," Thrash says.

The GRAMMY U Mentorship program is not only an invaluable experience for students to get direct feedback and career advice from an industry professional, but it can be the seed of a life-long relationship and the roots of a rich network.  Applications are now open for the spring GRAMMY U mentorship program, which runs from Feb.y 13 – May 5, 2023.  Apply to be a mentor or mentee by Jan. 27.

Armani White Details How To Use Social Media To Shape Your Career In GRAMMY U Masterclass
Armana White speaks at the GRAMMY U Masterclass, Presented by Mastercard

Photo: Terence Rushin/Getty Images for the Recording Academy

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Armani White Details How To Use Social Media To Shape Your Career In GRAMMY U Masterclass

Rising rapper Armani White rocketed to fame via TikTok. During a GRAMMY U Masterclass Presented by Mastercard, White explained how to shape your career using social media: Know yourself, be yourself and stay hungry.

GRAMMYs/Dec 15, 2022 - 02:16 pm

TikTok famous: A phrase that didn't exist a few years ago can now be a golden ticket into the music industry. Today, a 15-second clip has the power to alter someone’s career and life.

Sometimes, going viral on social media is purely luck of the draw. Other times, it’s a very calculated and tactful business strategy that can be used to help the masses realize your full potential and maximize your success. For Philadelphia-born rising rapper Armani White, the latter has never been more true.

A now-viral TikTok of White and friends vibing in the studio to his new song "BILLIE EILISH." changed the trajectory of his career. Within several hours of being uploaded, the video reached two million views and has since surpassed 80 billion views.

White says that while he posted that TikTok in February 2022 for fun, he had no doubt that it would be something special. With his favorite mantra, "losers get lucky, winners do it again," on a loop in his head, White was able to turn what could’ve been a fleeting viral hit into a pivotal career move.

At the HBCU Love Tour in Atlanta this October, White advised students on how to use social media to take their careers to new heights. The discussion is part of the GRAMMY U Masterclass, Presented by Mastercard, and was moderated by musician, actress, and Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter Board member Kat Graham. Read on for GRAMMY U's takeaways from Armani White's masterclass. 

It’s Not About Making "TikTok Music," It’s About Making Music That Feels Genuine 

Armani White compared the process of being an actor to what it is like to be a musical artist. Actors are constantly having to audition, and one role in a movie or TV show doesn’t necessarily lead to a lasting career. Similarly, one hit song doesn’t immediately make a substantial career for an artist. 

The goal isn’t to make a song that will go viral, White continued, noting that he makes music that speaks to his character and experiences. The viral TikTok of White and crew blasting "BILLIE EILISH." over the studio's speakers and goofing off was raw, pure, and true to who he is. This genuine glance behind the curtain is what made his audience feel connected. 

Pay Attention To Audience Reactions

Both White and Graham noted that social media can create an overwhelming feeling of comparison. White's advice? Rather than focusing on the number of views other videos are getting, focus on your own analytics. 

The rapper said he will dissect a video that has been more successful than others and try to pinpoint what it is about that video that gained traction. Look to see what you did differently in each video and what the outcome was based on that tactic. Then, try to recreate it.

First, Know Who You Are

Even before the attention and opportunity that followed his TikTok, White knew who he was and wanted to be. He advised the audience to refrain from creating a persona that people want to see — that won’t get you far, and you’ll be chained to that version of you. 

Instead, know who you are and stick with it. That certainty will allow others to understand your unique perspective and experiences, and will ultimately move you further along in your career. White decided who he was and implements that into every record he creates, whether by himself or in collaboration with others. 

"Stay Down, Stay Hungry, Stay Determined"

Though White now has the career he always dreamed of, it wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. He had to work hard, be patient and remain optimistic when things weren’t going as he had hoped. Even with the popularity of his original TikTok, he had more steps to climb to get the song to where it is now. 

White’s first obstacle was finding a way to get the sample he used from N.O.R.E’s song "Nothin'" cleared for use. This is not a task that can be accomplished overnight, and the waiting process can be brutal. He decided the best way to go about this was to get his fans involved. 

White encouraged his fans to use "Nothin'" as much as they could in their videos. As trends surrounding the song started rising up, it became clear that people weren’t losing interest in it. The TikTok sound of his song even made its way onto the “for you” page of Billie Eilish, who reposted a video using the sound. This solidified that everyone, including Eilish herself, were supporting not only the song itself, but Armani White as an artist. 

White also spoke about life before "BILLIE EILISH." went viral and the struggles he went through. White says that through it all, he kept reminding himself, If I can get there, it’ll be worth it. He is now proud to have an encouraging story for artists to look at and remember that if you stay motivated, your wildest dreams are possible.

Graham echoed these sentiments, adding "Everyone has a unique journey…You gotta really look at yourself and know you have your own journey. Stay humble, hardworking, do the work, and you might just end up on this stage."

The full GRAMMY U Masterclass with Armani White, Presented by Mastercard, is available to stream now. Click the video below to hear more on the advice White and Graham share and the full story behind White's success.

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

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 

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

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

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say She She

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

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

Moniquea

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

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

Shiro Schwarz

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

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

L'Impératrice

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

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

Franc Moody

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

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

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