• John Van de Mergel

Sounds | Kaleo, Break My Baby (Live from Þrídrangar, Iceland)


Ik heb voor deze 'sounds' niet het nieuwe nummer Skinny gekozen, wel het iets oudere Break My Baby en dat vooral omwille van de prachtige video, opgenomen op één van de drie rotsen van Þrídrangar (Ijsland). Leading man JJ Julius Son heeft blijkbaar iets met de prachtige ruwe natuur van zijn thuisland, getuige deze video van vijf jaar geleden. Onder het goedkeurend oog van topproducer Dave Cobb laten JJ en zijn buddies een straffe (en grootse, misschien wat al te gepolijste) bluesrock sound horen op dit nummer, waarbij het vooral de rauwe stem van de frontman is die de aandacht trekt én vasthoudt. Surface Sounds verschijnt op 23 april via Warner Music Benelux.

Luister ook naar: Skinny I Want More Break My Baby (stripped back)

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As the driving creative force behind Kaleo, one of Iceland’s most successful musical exports, JJ Julius Son generally looks forward-- to the next recording session, the next gig, the next source of inspiration. So, when asked to look back, he is truly moved by how successful and epic the journey has already been, just one album deep into his career on the international stage.


In just three short years, Kaleo has scored a trifecta of global hits, including the churning No. 1 alternative track “Way Down We Go”; received a GRAMMY nomination for the hard-hitting strutter “No Good”; and watched its first album for Atlantic Records, 2016’s A/B, go gold. The band has toured the world, from sweaty nightclubs filled with diehard fans to mammoth crowds at Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Kaleo has even played vast stadiums, seducing thousands of Rolling Stones fans with its majestic rock sound, Julius Son’s towering, blues-inflected vocals and singular guitar licks. “Everybody else says look how far you've come,” says the singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist-producer of these milestones. “But you've got to walk every small step of the way, so it doesn't feel like you've come that far because there's so many steps.”


Every bit of that lived experience is packed into his next big step: Kaleo's next album, due out later this year on Elektra/Atlantic.


With lead singles “I Want More” and “Break My Baby” out now, the 29-year-old sought inspiration in both the tangible world around him and the emotional one within offering a spectrum of sounds that take full advantage of Julius Son’s powerful pipes.


The variety of sounds and imagery found in both lead singles comes naturally, says Julius Son. “I think that's just me growing up as a musician and as a listener. I would get so bored if I had to do the same thing or have to be boxed in and told what to do,” he adds of the evolution of Kaleo's sound (Kaleo means “the voice” in Hawaiian.) “Artistically, there's too many colors to just paint in black and white. So that's just my creative process. I didn't know that I could sing falsetto until I wrote ‘All The Pretty Girls’ and I didn’t really whistle until I wrote ‘Automobile.’”


The variety of sounds and imagery, from lighthearted to solemn, comes naturally, says Julius Son. “The songs cry out for a certain sound and then I have to go and serve the song.”


From the very beginning of the sun-dappled and carefree “I Want More,” it’s Julius Son’s faint whistles that lure listeners in before building to the chorus’ billowing sonic wave of strings; and on the bluesy “Break My Baby,” the hooks and riffs groove and propel his voice from a growl to a souring falsetto.


“It was really special to create this music while traveling the world — a studio in Greece, string players in Los Angeles at Capitol Studios, sessions at Aeronaut Studios in Reykjavik, Iceland and countless hours in Nashville across Sound Emporium, Blackbird, Ocean Way and RCA’s Historic Studio A. Each session further enriching the sound and bringing their own unique elements to the surface.” He pauses, “All that to say, I simply hope what we’ve created makes you feel something… if so, then that’s amazing.”

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