Soul Clap Wants You To Rave The Vote This 2020 Election

Soul Clap DJ set during Rave The Vote


Soul Clap Wants You To Rave The Vote This 2020 Election

The second episode of Rave The Vote, which kicks off today, Fri., Aug. 14 at 12:00 p.m. PST/ 3:00 p.m. EST, serves up half a day of house music and voter education. The final two events will go down on Sept. 11 and Oct. 2

GRAMMYs/Aug 14, 2020 - 08:08 pm

With the 2020 Presidential Election less than three months away during an unprecedented pandemic, voter education and access is an urgent issue. Enter Rave The Vote, an online voter registration and education initiative ignited by four 12-hour virtual raves filled with educational segments and music from DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Pierre, Aluna, Marques Wyatt, TOKiMONSTA, SOFI TUKKER, Carl Craig, Seth Troxler, Desert Hearts, Louie Vega and many more names in the underground dance scene. Viewers are encouraged to register to vote, check their registration status and/or request an absentee ballot, all of which can be done on their website.

"Rave The Vote was created in an effort to mobilize the dance music community to register to vote and get to the polls. We know the wider community is both passionate and engaged, and encompasses a key demographic of voters that should not be overlooked. It's clear that we are all searching for ways to contribute to see significant change, to move towards the America we want to live in—and we can't do that if we're not exercising our right to vote. Ultimately, we aim to motivate viewers to use their collective voice to bring about change, and to educate them on the various ways to take action," Carré Orenstein, the executive producer explained over email.

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"We are in the most important election of our time and people are finally starting to pay attention! Electronic dance music and the culture that surrounds it was founded in a space where people came together to celebrate music and each other, it was and has always been a safe haven for many, myself included. It originated with Black roots and eventually became a space where people felt free to express themselves no matter who they were.  Our goal here is to re-catalyze a space and community that has such powerful and strong roots of unity, love and freedom. To get them engaged, and to the polls!  We have been blessed to welcome a diverse and beautiful collection of artists to represent Rave The Vote and the American dance music community. I have worked in this industry for the past 10 years and our lineup is far and away one of the most diverse I have ever seen in this culture on this level. It represents our country in its true heart and soul," Tadia Taylor, director of artist relations, added.

Supported by Orenstein, Taylor and a mighty team of fellow industry professionals, the ringleaders of the epic dance party for good are Eli Goldstein and Charlie Levine, a.k.a. Soul Clap, a funky-house vinyl-spinning DJ/producer duo formed in Boston in 2001. With their energetic DJ sets at clubs and festivals around the world, eclectic and talent-filled Soul Clap Records and overall joyful demeanor, the pair has been widely disseminating joy and great tunes and sharing the love with fellow funky artists for quite some time. Now, with Rave The Vote, they're helping ensure the dance community is civically engaged and present at the upcoming election.

We recently caught up with the beloved duo ahead of the second episode of Rave The Vote, which kicks off today, Fri., Aug. 14 at 12:00 p.m. PST/ 3:00 p.m. EST, serving up half a day of house music and voter education. The final two events will go down on Sept. 11 and Oct. 2. You can tune in on the LostResort Twitch and YouTube channels, and RSVP at Rave The Vote's website to stay looped in to all things related to getting out your vote. Make sure to read on to hear from Goldstein and Levine about the original vision for Rave The Vote (hint: It was IRL), why political engagement is so vital to democracy, being an ally and more.

Let's start with the spark that led to the creation of Rave the Vote. What was that and where did it lead?

Goldstein: Well, I mean, I think we both voted in every election since we were 18, so we've always been active in that kind of politics. But I think, as we've gotten a little older and further along in the music thing, we just had more of a desire to use our platform for positive change. We do a lot of work with an organization called DJs for Climate Action, which is all about educating DJs and getting us to use our platforms for education and positive change around climate.

This year obviously feels like a really, really important election and has for a while, for the last three years. Until someone's in the White House that acknowledges things like climate change, social justice, equality and these kinds of things, we can't really make much progress, or we can't make enough progress with all the other activism.

We had an idea to do a voter registration drive. It was originally going to be a real live tour around the Midwest, hitting swing states, going to colleges and clubs in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, those kinds of places. We had been planning it since last year, but obviously we had to pivot quickly when everything got canceled and we realized that IRL events would not be happening.

Luckily our manager, Jonathan McDonald, got really excited and put together, with people from Infamous PR and others who put in so much effort to take this into a huge online livestream concept. It's been really exciting. And I think we are reaching a lot more people than we would have just with the IRL.

Levine: This is definitely one of Eli's ideas. He's very politically minded and tuned in to what's going on, whether it's climate action or social justice or race relations. Eli comes from a Cambridge political family. If it wasn't for Eli having this idea at the origin, I don't think we'd be where we are. That being said, we've been really fortunate to have the [dance music] community rally behind it, whether that's the DJs like The Blessed Madonna, Seth Troxler or Justin Martin, who are signed up way back when to do the real-life college tour with us and donate their time. And our manager Jonathan has been helping make it happen. And 2+2, our management and touring team that really got behind and it felt like it really had legs. And once Infamous got involved, forget about it, then it really branched out. We are now a whole community of dance and music professionals, artists and administrators that are blowing this thing up.

And to piggyback on what Eli said, we may have been able to reach X amount on college campuses, but the way that it grows exponentially through the web and social media, it's just so powerful. I think we're probably going to do a lot more good this way, as unfortunate as it is to not be able to be all buddied up in a tour van, somewhere out at some gas station in the Midwest, which would've been fun. We've only got to do some touring via bus, and that's all has been a laugh.

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There's some really huge names involved, especially some of the OGs, like DJ Pierre, Kevin Saunderson/Inner City, Louie Vega. What has the outreach looked like? And what has the reaction of the dance community felt like so far?

Levine: I want to throw in that we got the nod from Dr. Cornel West that started our whole four-part Rave The Vote online series. So big shout out to Dr. West, who's a big supporter of the house and techno community, which was a total, delightful surprise. He's super dope. As for a lot of these names—including Louie and Kevin Saunderson—Eli and I have been fortunate enough  over the years to build personal relationships with a fair amount of them. It's wonderful to call upon them.

Goldstein: I also would say this is kind of a testament to how connected the American, more-underground dance music scene is. It's a pretty diverse range of artists that we have built relationships with other years and were excited about getting involved with activism stuff. That list was a great starting point.

And everybody has really jumped at the opportunity. Some of these were personal connections, but a lot of the work was also done by the team. And it's cool. Each episode has a theme running through it. One of them is curated by Blessed Madonna. The first one was all our favorites. This one coming up next week is more of the kind of younger tech house scene. And then the last week is more of the beat, hip-hop oriented one. It's a testament to how diverse the underground is, but also how together and connected it is.

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The Rave the Vote livestreams are around 12 hours each, so what's going down during it and what viewers can expect? Also, what are you hoping happens after someone tunes in and engages with the livestream?

Goldstein: Well, obviously the most important piece of this is either registering, checking your status or requesting a mail in ballot, if that's available in your state. So the goal is to get people to go to, which they can do in advance of the streams too, it is 24/7. You can go to the website and do all this and also RSVP to the stream. By putting your information in, we'll be able to help provide support and guidance leading up to Election Day [Nov. 3] to help you come up with a plan to vote. Also, any outreach you can do to your friends and family to have them registering and voting is important. That's joining the movement, I would say.

That's the goal with the streams really, is to get as many people as possible involved via the site. It's funny, we had half a million unique viewers tune in to the first livestream and about 600 registrations. 600 registrations is great, but it's such a small percentage of the viewers. It's crazy. But that shows how important it is to have as big of a reach as possible and to get a lot of viewers with these livestreams. It's great to give people a call to action when they're enjoying music. Because there were a number of people who checked their registration or requested mail in ballots on top of the 600 who registered to vote. It's a great way to interact with people.

For the streams themselves, it's a really great, diverse range of DJs who are all super excited to be involved. Everyone's putting their best foot forward musically and also production-wise. At this point, all the DJs involved are pretty experienced with streaming. They know how to make a good looking and good sounding stream. More importantly, we have these really fun educational segments and PSAs from other artists, DJs and politicians in between the sets. So that's a fun way that allows for more of an interactive connection than just watching DJ livestreams. This is actually a way to be learning and also be involved with the initiative.

Levine: Yeah, the [Rave The Vote] producers did a really great job, they definitely deserve a bunch of hats off. They have been putting in real late hours to make it all come together. We can't wait to see what they come up with for these [three] next ones. Similarly, if you speak to other musicians or people through the GRAMMYs that feel passionate about this topic, we're always accepting more PSAs. This whole thing does not end with dance music DJs. This should be for the masses.

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Definitely, let's put it out there! So, as frustrating as it is, there are still people out there that feel either indifferent about voting, or just over it because they voted in 2016 and that guy still got into office.

Goldstein: That guy. [Laughs.]

What do you say to people who still say "It doesn't really change anything" or "Why does it matter?"

Goldstein: So there's multiple layers to this. A big part of this initiative is this educational piece of it. I do feel like we've been fed propaganda for most of our adult lives that our votes don't matter either, one, because the state we live in either always goes Republican or always goes Democrat. Two, because both the parties are the same. I feel like those are the big two.

And I guess three would be that the whole system is broken. That the two-party system doesn't work and we're not really represented anyway. In response to that, I say, one, that is not taking into account how important local elections are, both in our towns and also on a state level. I live in New York state, and I've seen how, the moment that we got a super majority after the 2018 election, the amount of bills that were passed for things that I care about was wild. From climate change stuff to worker protections, to healthcare, to all these things that at the state level can have a huge impact on your life and the world around you.

And then the local level of your community, this is where you actually can have the biggest impact because you actually can get to know your local representatives. These are all people who live in your neighborhood or near you, and you can connect with either them or their aides closely. These are people who are making the changes in your town or your county that impact you directly. For nightlife specifically, that's noise ordinances and liquor laws and all these kinds of things that affect where clubs can be, how late they can be open and more. So young people getting involved in that really can have a huge impact, because then we can advocate for what we care about, nightlife and culture and all that stuff.

Then you have district attorneys and attorney generals of the states who have a huge impact on what's going on around police brutality and social and racial justice. So these are really important positions as well that you're voting for in a local election. This is all one big part of it. Just to say that our federal system is broken, it's overlooking how much of an impact we can have on these other levels.

Let's look at our federal system and jog everybody's memory. There are three branches of our federal government. I feel we learned this in school, but either we don't pay attention or it just goes right over our heads, but they are so important. The impact of the three branches of government means that the president doesn't make all the final decisions, right? You have Congress, which passes all the bills and actually makes a lot of the legislation that's impacting us and that we care about. But the most important piece of all this is the Supreme Court and the federal courts. When somebody either retires or dies on the Supreme Court or who's a judge in a federal court, the president at the time, appoints a Supreme Court justice or federal judge, who serves for the rest of their life or for as long as they want to.

This has a huge impact on generations. So now, if the president is appointing somebody that aligns with their values and ideals, that person is going to be representing that for the rest of their time in the courts. This administration has gone out of their way, they have a whole strategy to really make as big of an impact as possible on the federal courts. They've appointed over 800 federal court justices, which is almost twice as many as [Barack] Obama appointed in his eight years. Basically, they asked and pressured older conservative judges to step down so they could appoint younger judges to take their places so they can hold the roles for longer.

They have such a huge impact on the little decisions that are made every day or a few times a year, that then lead to things like abortion being legalized or made illegal, or segregation and desegregation, civil rights, prosecuting police, voter rights, all these things that we care about, the Supreme Court makes decisions that impact it.

That's crazy. That just blew my mind.

Levine: It's a lot.

Goldstein: It's a long answer. But the basic part of it is, look, we've been fed propaganda that our vote doesn't matter. Yes, the system is not perfect and yes, politicians are not perfect, but this is what we have. And if we don't participate, we can't make any changes.

Levine: I mean, with the pieces of the puzzle that are intangible for citizens, like the electoral college, gerrymandering, voter suppression, all this stuff, there's things you can do and there's things you can't do. But if you are not even registered to vote, if you're not even attempting, if you are not participating, then it's guaranteed there is nothing you can do.

To your many mic drop points, Eli, how do you educate yourself on state and local candidates and measures? Sometimes the language on ballots can be sort of misleading and can also just jargon-y. What are some ways that you educate yourself on the issues, or places that you point people to that are don't even know where to start?

Goldstein: Well, I mean, this is complicated. Most of the places that you get information are partisan. There's no easy way to get all the information. It's not just right there. Maybe it should be, I don't know how they could necessarily do that. Some cities and states send out mail that has information about all the initiatives and candidates in your city. Not all cities do that. When they do, it's a great way to encourage participation and understanding from everybody.

But here's the thing, if you really care about this stuff—this goes back to the last question. I heard this in a Noam Chomsky livestream recently, politics is actively participating in things that you care about every day. That's what politics really is. It's not easy. It's not sitting back. To really get involved and really make a difference with this stuff, you have to put a little effort in. Maybe it's not every day for you, maybe you don't have that time. Maybe you're doing other work that's important. Maybe you're just trying to survive. And that's totally understandable. But putting in that 30 minutes before the election to find this information and be educated can go a long way. There are places you can look. One is your local newspaper.

Almost every city or county has a local newspaper that shares this information on their website. And then another way is our mostly two-party system. There are a number of smaller parties in states that are under the other parties. So here in New York, there's the Working Families Party, which supports workers' rights and a number of other issues that I care about. They endorse candidates or send candidates that are supported by that party, and then have a voice in their policy. This is something that's often overlooked, these smaller organizations run by citizens like you and me who have an influence and impact by endorsing candidates.

So maybe you believe in unions and you see what the local union is endorsing. Maybe you believe in climate justice, you're an environmentalist, and you look for whatever the Green Party is endorsing. These are all a number of ways you can look for value-based guidance on this stuff. It is amazing how hard it is to find nonpartisan information on the internet. But if you go in with the idea that it's going to be partisan and you just look for the party that you agree with, that can do the work for you.

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That's such a good point. Also, certain nonprofits will share what candidates that align with their values, like the Human Rights Campaign will endorse candidates that support LGBTQ+ issues. You can always cross reference these lists too. I guess now most of us are hopefully voting by mail, so you have more time to sit with the ballot.

Goldstein: Right? But the other thing is you can be at the polls and take out your phone and do the research right there. It's not like you're not allowed to go on your phone and use the internet, you're taking a test. You can sit in there for 30 minutes if you want. I mean, obviously I wouldn't encourage that because there's other people who want to vote and often lines can get long. But if you need to take the time, take the time and make that educated vote. It's better to do that.

Levine: I've got a question. If you order the mail-in ballot, are you then obligated to vote that way, or can you still go to the polls?

Goldstein: You can still go to the polls. Actually, that's a good question. I may be wrong.

I think it depends on the state or county. In Los Angeles county, it is default vote by mail, so everyone registered gets a vote by mail ballot, which you can also drop off at a polling location or bring it in and basically forfeit your vote by mail. Of course it's super important, especially now, the ballots show up to your current address. [If you lose or forget your absentee ballot, some counties let you vote with a provisional one. Check your local county's website for more info.]

Goldstein: This is why it's so important to check your status beforehand and look at the policies of your state, what do you have to bring to prove you're eligible to vote and all these things. This is why we advocate for making it as easy as possible to vote, so people are not intimidated and they can exercise their right without feeling like they have to jump through hoops. I know our so-called President likes to say that voting by mail is rigged, but there are statistics proving it's not fraudulent.

Levine: [Laughs.] Everything's rigged with this guy.

Goldstein: States like Utah have universal mail-in voting, and Utah's a Republican state. It's not like mail-in voting makes Democrats win where Republicans were winning before. It's still pretty even, none of what he's saying about it is factual. It's important to keep putting that out there that mail-in ballots actually are as secure, if not more secure, than voting in person. We've seen that voting in person has potential to be hacked.

Levine: Absolutely. Or it can just malfunction.

To your point, the President has been doing a lot to try to suppress voting, by attempting to defund the USPS, which delivers and collects the ballots, making those erroneous claims about voting by mail, and now trying to postpone the election. What can we do to make sure this election is fair? 

Goldstein: I mean, it's so hard to be nonpartisan with this stuff. My first answer, which is totally partisan, is win by a f*ing landslide. If everybody goes out and votes, it doesn't matter how corrupt, how broken the system is and how much they try to suppress voters and hack the vote in swing states, if the win is so overwhelming it doesn't matter. There's nothing they can do. It would just be too obvious for them to hack it. So, that's one answer.

The other answers are you can volunteer or you can sign up to work at the polls. You can literally get paid to be a pollster. There's actually a shortage of people this year because it's always older folks and a lot of them are high risk for COVID-19. So young people going and working in the polls and seeing exactly what's happening is going to be our most valuable tool.

There's a great website called Vote Save America, they have an initiative called Every Last Vote. There, you can get resources, including a great FAQ about voting by mail. There's also a sign up for being a poll worker and a sign up to volunteer to go to the polls and make sure everything is working the way it's supposed to. I will say that it's also really important volunteering because the Republican party has established a program called Protect the Vote, which means they're going to be sending monitors to polling places and challenging voters deemed "suspicious." So it's really important that we're out there making sure that people are allowed to vote. Every Last Vote is a great resource for doing that.

And, with any of this, the only way you can feel like it's actually going the fair way is by participating as much as you can, educating yourself, voting, volunteering, working in the polls, getting involved with organizations that do work that you believe in. This is how we stand up and take away this feeling of not having power. We take back the power for ourselves.

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You've been using your platforms to point people to different actions they can take on important social justice issues, including standing in solidarity with the Black community and against police brutality. What do you believe it means to be a true ally, and how do you continue to educate yourselves and stay informed?

Goldstein: I think we've learned so much over these last few months. I always thought of myself as an ally, but I think learning what that really means has been a really important process over this time and, like anything, it's always a process. And so, a big part of that is obviously educating yourself. One great way of doing that is by following accounts for organizations like Black Lives Matter or Color of Change on Instagram, or some of the smaller local organizations, like local chapters of Black Lives Matter, and following activists that you believe in. That's a great start, they're posting information.

And then just listening. If you ever get in conversation about this stuff, ask questions and just listen. That does not mean just hitting up your Black friends and being "Hey, what do I do about this?" There's plenty of resources online to figure that shit out yourself. That also doesn't mean you shouldn't check in with your Black friends and have conversations and say hello. Let them know you're here to support them, and if they need anything to reach out.

And then also donating to organizations. I've been talking about voter suppression and voting rights—there's a couple of great organizations you can support. One is called Voting While Black, which is advocating for voting rights for Black and brown folks. And then there's also Fair Fight, started by Stacey Abrams, which is doing work to make sure everybody has a right to vote.

it's also saying Black Lives Matter, living Black Lives Matter and making sure that's part of what you're thinking about every day. And part of that too is looking at your privilege, looking at how your Whiteness got you what you have and being real about that with yourself. That's another important thing, figuring out how you're going to try to use that, what you've accomplished, to help lift up other people who don't have that privilege.

Levine: I would just add to that, I know it's difficult, but when friends or family members say things or act in a way that could be perceived as a micro-aggression or as flat-out racist, to hold them accountable and point out that this is inappropriate. If you allow some of this behavior, it's dangerous. It can be difficult, especially when it's friends and family, but making sure they are educated as well is important. it's also important to check in with your Black friends. I think communication and conversation is at the heart of what will make a big change.

Goldstein: This is what we've been trying to do with the "Schmoozing" show, to have these hard conversations. I agree it's so important to see where people's heads are at, see what they believe in, where they're coming from and how they want you to make an impact and be an ally.

Levine: The long conversation format is really is wonderful. It allows you to ask the difficult questions and it's okay to get it wrong. It's okay to learn something from a conversation. Maybe people are scared of that, but that's a big part of the growth, I think.

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Herbal Tea & White Sofas: Sofi Tukker Reveal How Their Keys To Staying Healthy On Tour
Sofi Tukker

Photo: Shervin Lainez


Herbal Tea & White Sofas: Sofi Tukker Reveal How Their Keys To Staying Healthy On Tour

The two members of EDM duo Sofi Tukker strive to stay in shape on tour — it's how they fuel their high-energy performances.

GRAMMYs/May 1, 2023 - 05:00 pm

After traveling the world together over the past decade, there's one thing EDM duo Sofi Tukker quickly agrees on: staying healthy is the top priority. That's why their tour rider primarily consists of fruits, vegetables and vegan snacks.

"Our rider is filled with things like kale, avocado and olive," Sophie Hawley-Weld explains in this episode of Herbal Tea & White Sofas. "We both have pretty restrictive diets. We're trying to be as healthy as we possibly can be because we want to give out the best energy every night, and traveling for a living is not easy."

Her bandmate Tucker Halpern emphasizes that they always request a trash bag full of ice — a surprisingly disputed item. "The most controversial thing, especially in Europe, is ice," Halpern says. "People will fight you about it!"

Hawley-Weld often opts for a cryo tank, a sensory deprivation tank filled with salt. "I find that to be one of the most recharging things I can do. I think it's polar opposite to what we do on stage."

The duo is also slated to appear at more than 10 music festivals this summer, including the Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, Lollapalooza, and Osheaga. Sofi Tukker most recently returned to Coachella, where they live-debuted their latest single "Jacaré," a cheeky Portuguese-language single inspired by Hawley-Weld's longtime appreciation for Brazilian culture. 

Press play on the video above to learn how Sofi Tukker stays in shape while on tour, and check back to for more new episodes of Herbal Tea & White Sofas.

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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 


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'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

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

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.

The Rise Of Underground House: How Artists Like Fisher & Acraze Have Taken Tech House, Other Electronic Genres From Indie To EDC

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

Photo: Steven Sebring


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

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

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:19 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I did, yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think it was his car.

Did he get over it later on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hear All Of The Best Country Solo Performance Nominees For The 2023 GRAMMY Awards
2023 GRAMMYs

Graphic: The Recording Academy


Hear All Of The Best Country Solo Performance Nominees For The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

The 2023 GRAMMY Award nominees for Best Country Solo Performance highlight country music's newcomers and veterans, featuring hits from Kelsea Ballerini, Zach Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris and Willie Nelson.

GRAMMYs/Nov 23, 2022 - 03:01 pm

Country music's evolution is well represented in the 2023 GRAMMY nominees for Best Country Solo Performance. From crossover pop hooks to red-dirt outlaw roots, the genre's most celebrated elements are on full display — thanks to rising stars, leading ladies and country icons.

Longtime hitmaker Miranda Lambert delivered a soulful performance on the rootsy ballad "In His Arms," an arrangement as sparing as the windswept west Texas highlands where she co-wrote the song. Viral newcomer Zach Bryan dug into similar organic territory on the Oklahoma side of the Red River for "Something in the Orange," his voice accompanied with little more than an acoustic guitar.

Two of country's 2010s breakout stars are clearly still shining, too, as Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini both received Best Country Solo Performance GRAMMY nods. Morris channeled the determination that drove her leap-of-faith move from Texas to Nashville for the playful clap-along "Circles Around This Town," while Ballerini brought poppy hooks with a country edge on the infectiously upbeat "HEARTFIRST."

Rounding out the category is the one and only Willie Nelson, who paid tribute to his late friend Billy Joe Shaver with a cover of "Live Forever" — a fitting sentiment for the 89-year-old legend, who is approaching his eighth decade in the business. 

As the excitement builds for the 2023 GRAMMYs on Feb. 5, 2023, let's take a closer look at this year's nominees for Best Country Solo Performance.

Kelsea Ballerini — "HEARTFIRST"

In the tradition of Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini represents Nashville's sunnier side — and her single "HEARTFIRST" is a slice of bright, uptempo, confectionary country-pop for the ages.

Ballerini sings about leaning into a carefree crush with her heart on her sleeve, pushing aside her reservations and taking a risk on love at first sight. The scene plays out in a bar room and a back seat, as she sweeps nimbly through the verses and into a shimmering chorus, when the narrator decides she's ready to "wake up in your T-shirt." 

There are enough steel guitar licks to let you know you're listening to a country song, but the story and melody are universal. "HEARTFIRST" is Ballerini's third GRAMMY nod, but first in the Best Country Solo Performance category.

Zach Bryan — "Something In The Orange"

Zach Bryan blew into Music City seemingly from nowhere in 2017, when his original song "Heading South" — recorded on an iPhone — went viral. Then an active officer in the U.S. Navy, the Oklahoma native chased his muse through music during his downtime, striking a chord with country music fans on stark songs led by his acoustic guitar and affecting vocals.

After his honorable discharge in 2021, Bryan began his music career in earnest, and in 2022 released "Something in the Orange," a haunting ballad that stakes a convincing claim to the territory between Tyler Childers and Jason Isbell in both sonics and songwriting. Slashing slide guitar drives home the song's heartbreak, as Bryan pines for a lover whose tail lights have long since vanished over the horizon. 

"Something In The Orange" marks Bryan's first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

Miranda Lambert — "In His Arms"

Miranda Lambert is the rare, chart-topping contemporary country artist who does more than pay lip service to the genre's rural American roots. "In His Arms" originally surfaced on 2021's The Marfa Tapes, a casual recording Lambert made with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall in Marfa, Texas — a tiny arts enclave in the middle of the west Texas high desert.

In this proper studio version — recorded for her 2022 album, Palomino — Lambert retains the structure and organic feel of the mostly acoustic song; light percussion and soothing atmospherics keep her emotive vocals front and center. A native Texan herself, Lambert sounds fully at home on "In His Arms."

Lambert is the only Best Country Solo Performance nominee who is nominated in all four Country Field categories in 2023. To date, Miranda Lambert has won 3 GRAMMYs and received 27 nominations overall. 

Maren Morris — "Circles Around This Town"

When Maren Morris found herself uninspired and dealing with writer's block, she went back to what inspired her to move to Nashville nearly a decade ago — and out came "Circles Around This Town," the lead single from her 2022 album Humble Quest.

Written in one of her first in-person songwriting sessions since the pandemic, Morris has called "Circles Around This Town" her "most autobiographical song" to date; she even recreated her own teenage bedroom for the song's video. As she looks back to her Texas beginnings and the life she left for Nashville, Morris' voice soars over anthemic, yet easygoing production. 

Morris last won a GRAMMY for Best Country Solo Performance in 2017, when her song "My Church" earned the singer her first GRAMMY. To date, Maren Morris has won one GRAMMY and received 17 nominations overall.

Willie Nelson — "Live Forever"

Country music icon Willie Nelson is no stranger to the GRAMMYs, and this year he aims to add to his collection of 10 gramophones. He earned another three nominations for 2023 — bringing his career total to 56 — including a Best Country Solo Performance nod for "Live Forever."

Nelson's performance of "Live Forever," the lead track of the 2022 tribute album Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver, is a faithful rendition of Shaver's signature song. Still, Nelson puts his own twist on the tune, recruiting Lucinda Williams for backing vocals and echoing the melody with the inimitable tone of his nylon-string Martin guitar. 

Shaver, an outlaw country pioneer who passed in 2020 at 81 years old, never had any hits of his own during his lifetime. But plenty of his songs were still heard, thanks to stars like Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. Nelson was a longtime friend and frequent collaborator of Shaver's — and now has a GRAMMY nom to show for it.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List