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Skyelyfe’s 20 Best Songs of the 2010s, Ranked

December 11, 2019

(via Unsplash)

When it comes to selecting a personal “best” song, there’s so much more that goes into it than how far it charted on the Billboard Top 40. In fact, that doesn’t play a role to me at all.

What matters is how I felt about the song during its prime, if I feel the same way about the song now, if it had a legitimate “moment” in my life and if it brought some kind of unique sound or formula to the table. With each of these factors in mind, I’ve spent literally all of 2019 jotting down all my most monumental songs of the decade in a notebook as I thought of them.

With 10 years to account for, obviously a slew of songs came to mind. And while I’d have to say music basically died after 2014, the earlier years of the decade brought some of the most iconic songs of all time. Keep reading for skyelyfe’s 20 best songs of the 2010s, ranked. *Note: I left out all remixes even though some were absolutely amazing.

20. ‘Wide Awake’ – Katy Perry (2012)

While probably the last single you think of when you look back on Katy Perry’s iconic Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection album, “Wide Awake” was not only a powerful ballad from the characteristically gimmicky singer, but also one that came out during a trying time in my personal life when I felt like the world was crashing down on me and I was trying to recover from a rough patch. I found the song to be therapeutic in many ways, and I highly respect that this is a detour from much of the singer’s other work.

19. ‘Ice Tray’ – Quality Control, Quavo, Lil Yachty (2017)

This is simply the quintessential song you want to hear on a night out. I can’t tell you how many times I danced to this after-hours. The dark, pulsating track even managed to make Joe Budden relevant again for a hot sec. Had the song come out earlier in the decade, it would have made an even bigger impact, but it definitely holds a special place as one of the best of the latter years.

(via YouTube)

18. ‘I Met You’ – Anna Lunoe + Flume (2012)

2012 was such a year for electronic music. The genre expanded in so many ways, and I was absolutely obsessed with this track. I remember playing this and No. 17 interchangeably nonstop all throughout my work days that year. I very much miss this musical moment.

17. ‘All My Life’ – Gigamesh f./ Jana Nyberg (2012)

Much like the aforementioned track, this was on my Spotify rotation nonstop in 2012—so much so that the app listed it as my most listened to song of that year (not shocking!). Still when I hear it to this day, I don’t like it any less.

(via YouTube)

16. ‘The North’ – Summer Heart (2011)

Summer Heart seemingly came out of nowhere, and this song is hands down one of the most beautifully melodic tracks I’ve ever heard. Not to be fooled by the artist’s name, this song had every bit of a solemn fall vibe, accompanying the season swimmingly that year.

15. ‘Dreaming’ – The Knocks (2014)

The Knocks stole my heart in 2014, and I’ve seen them live countless times since. Their infectious energy lights up a stage, and I truly can’t think of a livelier duo. “Dreaming” is every bit the upbeat track that got me on my feet in 2014 (even when the year got me down).

(via YouTube)

14. ‘Nocturne’ – Wild Nothing (2012)

Seriously bless Wild Nothing. They were my most listened to act of 2012 on Spotify, and have truly never let me down since. They encapsulate everything I could possibly want in a band, with their light, dreamy alt. rock melodies. I can seriously listen to “Nocturne” (and its album of the same name) forever. Just thinking about it makes me happy.

13. ‘Silhouettes’ – Avicii (2012)

Avicii’s tragic death last year was by far one of the most impactful and saddening. Not only a legendary trendsetter in electronic music, the Swedish DJ didn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body (at least from what we know). On top of it all, he created some forever memorable tracks, including what I consider his most underrated, “Silhouettes.” This song takes me back to his then-signature sound when he first hit the scene with “Levels” in 2011. RIP, Avicii.

(via YouTube)

12. ‘Operate’ – ASTR (2013)

Short-lived electronic R&B duo ASTR was an act I found from my old-school favorite indie music blog BitCandy, and I instantly fell in love with them. They disbanded after 2015, but in their time together, Zoe Silverman and Adam Pallin released two insanely outstanding EPs that will forever hold a place in my heart. “Operate” was the first single they released, and therefore the most legendary. I got my entire group of friends hooked, and therefore they definitely made a large dent in my musical memories of the decade.

11. ‘L.A. Lights’ – Grum (2010)

There’s no song like this one (or like the album Heartbeats) on this list. In a shocking move, Grum (aka Graeme Shepherd) went from a retro synth sound to joining the Anjunabeats label going full-force trance. Prior to his musical transition, he released “L.A. Lights,” a beautiful melody that felt ever so fitting to my many late nights under the… L.A. lights.

10. ‘I Get the Bag’ – Gucci Mane f./ Migos (2017)

Out of what was one of the most atrocious years in hip-hop (hip-pop?) came “I Get the Bag,” the Metro Boomin-produced track that made me give Migos a fair chance (I wasn’t big on “Bad and Boujee”). As a longtime fan of Gucci, he absolutely delivers here, on what was one of the best rap songs of the latter part of the decade.

9. ‘Your Love Is My Drug’ – Ke$ha (2010)

And this is where we cue the tears! 2010 was such a magical year for music, and Ke$ha (with then-dollar sign) was a huge proponent of that. Her album Animal came out on the very first day of the decade, setting the precedent for what was probably the best year of my life. This song, album, era brings back so many memories. I know the singer’s in a much healthier, better place now, following her horrifying experience with Dr. Luke, but there’s no denying her songs from the early 2010s will never compare to anything present.

(via YouTube)

8. ‘In the Morning’ – ZHU + Kaskade (2016)

This was my No. 1 song of 2016, and there’s no doubt in my mind why. I only knew like one song by ZHU at this point, but the collab with Kaskade was perfectly executed into melodic bliss, setting the tone for not just my Coachella vibe that year, but for the year as a whole.

7. ‘Slow Love’ – MØ (2014)

I found MØ on the brink of her No Mythologies to Follow album release, and it was a game changer. The unique style of songs is solid from head to toe, and Slow Love sounds like nothing else I’ve heard from her (or any other artist for that matter). According to Spotify, it was my most listened to song of 2014, and according to my blog, the song and the album were both my No. 1 picks of that year.

6. ‘Skin’ – Rihanna (2010)

Name a sexier song of this decade—I’ll wait. Rihanna took her provocative nature to new heights with this dark, alluring melody and bold lyrics to match. While definitely one of her most underrated songs of all-time, it’s hands down one of the best (especially if you were around to improvise an accompanying music video with my group of friends).

5. ‘Loyal’ – Chris Brown f./ Lil Wayne + Tyga (2013)

This classic came out at the very end of 2013, but definitely made its mark the following year. Between the video and Nic Nac beats’ music production, this trio of artists nailed it on what became the party anthem of 2014, in an otherwise lackluster year of hip-hop.

(via YouTube)

4. ‘What’s My Name?’ – Rihanna f./ Drake (2010)

Whenever these 2010 songs come up, I get super nostalgic. I literally remember exactly where I was and how I felt at the peak of these tracks. Rihanna’s Loud album was a surefire favorite of that year, and this was without question the best song that came from it. Major fall/winter vibes I will absolutely never forget.

3. ‘Super Bass’ – Nicki Minaj (2011)

Ah, simpler times. “Super Bass” epitomizes the old-school, inspiring, happy-go-lucky vibe Nicki Minaj’s music brought the world when she first stepped on the scene. Her Pink Friday album felt so pure, and to this day, no “love song” in the hip-hop genre has topped “Super Bass.” Every bit upbeat and sweet, even in my crazy year known as 2011, this song helped keep me sane.

(via YouTube)

2. ‘Ayo’ – Chris Brown f./ Tyga (2015)

This song needs no introduction. If you’ve ever been in an Uber with me, at a house party or in my living room, then you’re no stranger to this Nic Nac beats-produced track. As my most-played song of the whole decade, it absolutely deserves this No. 2 ranking.

1. ‘Teenage Dream’ – Katy Perry (2010)

And now, for the ultimate tearjerker… talk about the good ol’ days! “Teenage Dream” epitomizes carefree bliss and everything light that pop represented early in the decade. It’s easy to forget Katy Perry released one of the best pop albums of all-time, and I think I speak for everyone reading this that no pop song (or Katy Perry song, for that matter) will ever compare to this one.

(via YouTube)

Listen to the entire playlist below (and come back next week for my top 20 honorable mentions of the decade):

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Music

Skyelyfe’s Definitive Ranking of Avicii’s 5 Best Songs

April 21, 2018

Instagram / @DahviShira

Yesterday, my musical world was turned upside-down, following a Billboard push notification I received on my phone with the heartbreaking news that Avicii died at the shocking age of 28—news that clearly rocked the entire music industry.

If, like me, you’ve recently taken a deep dive into the electronic DJ and producer’s lengthy discography to relive some of his highlights, you’ve probably been mentally transported to a Vegas hotel with a Sirius EDM station blasting from your room, toasting to your wild day that lies ahead.

That’s where his music takes me. His earlier sound epitomizes that feeling of fun, freedom and no cares in the world.

But whether physically in Vegas or simply sitting here in front of my laptop from my West Hollywood apartment, there’s no doubt the artist (born Tim Bergling) has a happy association for me.

While I certainly commend all of the artist’s creative vision—he was one music’s all-time biggest innovators—I’m definitely partial to his songs 2009-2013.

With that, I’ve selected my five all-time favorite Avicii songs (and yes, I did throw in a newer one), and ranked them in order. Happy listening!

5. “Talk to Myself” (Stories, 2015)

Following Avicii’s country-inspired detour, I was pleasantly surprised by Stories, which included a bit of what we’d been hearing from him lately, but also some of what caused us to fall in love with him in the first place. Included in his throwback sound was “Talk to Myself,” which I listed as my 5th favorite song of 2015. And now I’m also listing it as my 5th favorite song of his altogether.

4. “Street Dancer (Radio Edit)” (single, 2011)

One of Avicii’s much lesser-known tracks, this song takes me back to my pre-Spotify iPod era, when I would spend countless hours discovering music on YouTube and then have to use this special website to convert each song into .MP3 format (ah, the good ol’ days). While this song never took off, it will forever be a mainstay in the playlists I associate with a very particular time in my life. The music was so good back then, and this song is no exception.

3. “I Could Be the One [Avicii vs Nicky Romero]” (single, 2012)

The hilariously motivational music video easily draws my attention to this song, but the track itself is filled with Avicii’s signature sound of this era, making it a surefire classic from his repertoire.

2. “Levels (Radio Edit)” (single, 2011)

Not only is this the song that put Avicii on the map, but it’s also a track that defined a fresh generation of music. If there’s one thing I hope to come of his passing, I hope it brings on the resurgence of this iconic gem.

1. “Silhouettes” (single, 2012)

How this beautiful song, about leaving the past behind, didn’t get more play is beyond me. This melodic masterpiece is not only my favorite Avicii song, but by far my favorite electronic song of this decade.

For all five songs in a handy playlist, scroll below!

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Angelenos

10 Things I’ve Learned from Living in L.A. for a Decade

November 29, 2016

It’s still a little shocking that this Thanksgiving marked 10 years since that fateful date I packed my bags and slightly-post-college room decor and headed to Los Angeles.

What followed that rainy 2006 evening was a decade of pretty much everything you can expect in the City of Angels. Most importantly, many lessons and interesting observations.

With that, below I am sharing 10 things I’ve learned (for better or worse) from 10 years of living in L.A., a place in which I am very happy to be living!

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Photo Credit: John Waco/Pixabay

1. Don’t Dive Right Into Your First L.A. Living Situation Without Serious Thought

I refuse to call my first L.A. living situation a regret, because I do believe that everything you do leads up to where you are presently, and I am overall in more of a good place than a bad one. But that said, I was basically an idiot when I moved here. I mean I guess that can be expected. I was only 23 years old and with no real life experience. I looked my very best, I was motivated, excited and I wasn’t thinking in terms of reality.

I found a girl on Craigslist, and we planned to live together. She seemed nice, normal… all the things you want in a living mate. And emphasis on her being a girl. Yes, moving to a city with no friends, it probably makes sense that I should have an equally lost girl to accompany me as I roam the streets. Well, just as we agreed via email that we’d share an apartment, I received a Craigslist response from three seemingly well-mannered, educated boys. Two were on full-ride UCLA athletic scholarships and one was a regular UCLA student. They could not have been more charming (and handsome from the pics). One of the boys was a Jew from Long Island and I really liked that. I chatted with the guys on the phone, they chatted with my mom—and like that, I was oh-so-easily swayed from living with the girl to moving in with three guys. My mom had her doubts, but my aunt convinced her to let me do as I please. So without even meeting them first or seeing the Brentwood-adjacent condo, I was sold.

The first month was a little chaotic (just a lot of going out, spending money, etc…), but regardless, I was having a blast. I loved everything: the drives to and from OC to move my stuff, the endless MySpace dates, the walks to Brentwood Village, the cute boys my roommates brought over, everything. It was truly a magical time. Nothing has ever felt the way that moving to L.A. felt.

But all of the months in that apartment that followed…were quite the contrary. The roommates went out every night. Reality hadn’t previously hit that they probably wouldn’t want to take their random female roommate out with them every time they hit the club to meet chicks. The Long Island roommate (who at one point claimed I was like family to him) turned out to be a money-hungry schmuck, who may have been great at tennis, but was horrible as a human. Shortly after I moved in, he got a girlfriend, started smoking weed 24/7, broke a glass window during a fight with her and pretty much sucked. He would do the most douchey things, like encourage me to leave a $25 tip on a $6 drink at a dive bar just so I looked like I had money. The regular “UCLA student” had actually only taken one class during one semester there and was currently not working, not going to school. He lived way out of his means, had horrible health (we had to share a bathroom) and manipulated his way into getting people to pay for him or borrow things he couldn’t afford. The third roommate was actually a class act. We stayed in touch after we moved out, but he wasn’t home much when we lived together.

Needless to say, the nine months that lied ahead consisted of basically no friends, no serious job, no excitement. Thank goodness I had a friend from high school who was a go-go dancer at Area. That was my occasional golden ticket.

Lesson. Learned.

2. Just Because Your Apartment Is in a Great Location Doesn’t Mean it Won’t Be the Residence from Hell

And in other apartment tales… After landing a job at People.com in 2010, I figured it was time to upgrade living spaces as well. I was currently in a charming Miracle Mile 1BR, and as much as I really did love it (I still think about that place to this day), I was no longer working across the street at the E! building and I also wanted a little more space—something I was then able to afford with the new job.

I found a 1BR in a glorious area (Kings & Melrose, to be exact). The world was at my fingertips. This apartment was not only in a prime location, but it was huge and only $1250 a month (WHAT?!). Sure, the building was a little old, the unit kind of had a weird smell and there wasn’t a whole lot of natural light, but overall, this was a freaking steal.

My 65-year-old next door neighbors greeted me seemingly with open arms. They told me their life story (they were two friends living together, but not sleeping together, in case you are curious), they offered me all-natural energy pills, left me a congratulatory card because of my new job. Okay, so they were a little eccentric, but totally harmless, right? Wrong!

Within just a few weeks, it was very clear to me that they were in agony over their boring lives. They did not have friends aside from each other. They were home at all times. And what started off as a friendly neighbor relationship quickly turned into a jealousy-ridden despise. I found them peering through their blinds to see what I was doing, they’d come out and scream at my friends who were enjoying a casual 7pm visit on a Friday night, they’d chase down my friends who accidentally parked in their space. Never has a man in a bathrobe grossed me out more! They’d leave novels of angry notes taped to my door. Most people thought I was exaggerating (I mean, it couldn’t be that bad) … that is, until they witnessed the madness firsthand! And here’s the kicker: I couldn’t even complain because the male’s 91-year-old mom was the landlord!

As if that doesn’t sound bad enough, let’s just say the neighbors only made up 50% of the apartment from hell. There was a huge cockroach infestation and I noticed it just a week after I moved in. I kept telling myself they’d go away, but no. And oddly enough, I’d always find them in the cleanest of places (my bathtub, the kitchen, the living room). They were everywhere! It was so bad that when friends came over, they’d automatically know they were on cockroach-killing duty. Gross.

There was one particular instance in which I had just come home from the American Music Awards and was rushing to get some mandatory work done before I went to bed. Mid-writing, I heard a rustling noise. It was indeed a windy fall evening, so I didn’t think about it too much. But the noise kept sounding closer and closer, and next thing I knew, there was a giant cockroach crawling up my wall. What started as my wall soon became the ceiling above my bed. Holy s–t! Mind you, I was so exhausted by this point. I’d spent a whole day on a red carpet, I hadn’t eaten, I was trying to get work done, all I wanted to do was sleep. What proceeded was an hour of basically just me staring at the ceiling. Next thing I knew, it was morning. I had literally fallen asleep mid-stare. The cockroach had then migrated to a little corner on my wall.

I told the landlord this was an issue, and she had the place sprayed three times. But here’s the thing: Spraying doesn’t get rid of them. It only kills them. This leads me to the moment I put in my 30-days notice.

I just came back from a horrible 7-day “vacation” for a wedding, and normally I’d keep the air conditioning on at all times because it tends to keep those guys at bay. Well, upon leaving, I turned the air off for safety purposes. And upon returning? Well, that is a vision I’d like to unsee. There was a huge stack of dead roaches piled on top of each other right when I walked into the apt. After almost vomiting, I made a beeline for my pad and paper to let the landlord know I’m bidding adieu to these dwellings.

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3. Shady Job Experiences Aren’t Limited to the Entertainment Industry

I was maybe a month into living in L.A. when the sweet woman at my local upscale tanning spot (**NOTE: This was not Sunset Tan) basically scouted me to work at her salon. “You seem like the perfect fit,” she said, adding that there is a rigorous training process and I can potentially make lots of money (hourly wage + commission) at this “high-end” location.

I don’t think most people are honored to be pegged as tanning specialists, but based on the woman’s demeanor and her portrayal of the place, I started thinking that this wasn’t your average salon. And boy was I right…

What followed was a three-day training session with approximately seven additional guys and girls, who, based on how they performed, would be issued accordingly to one of the company’s various salons. At the time, there were I think seven salons spread out all over L.A. The salons were incredibly clean and sanitary, and their employees were friendly, attractive and knowledgeable.

They were also scammers.

It still blows me away to this day, but these seemingly wonderful store managers who welcomed me with open arms and made such “genuine conversation” with me when I would come to tan prior to employment, were nothing more than scammers who were openly training my fellow coworkers and me to indeed be low-key con-artists as well.

Part of the intensive training (which included a handful of tests you had to pass on the first try) focused on how to approach various “clients,” as they called them.

If a person hadn’t been in for at least a year, you told them their tans were expired (even though there was no word about an expiration at the time of sale). Then you’d take whatever tans they technically had left and would “unexpire” them if they agreed to buy a new (expensive) package.

If a person who had tans left implied they had zero, you would automatically go along with it and tell them if they bought a $450+ package today, you’d throw in a few freebies (aka the ones they forgot they already paid for).

If a person ever questioned how many tans they had left, you’d automatically say zero. If they insisted they have more than that, you would say something like, “Oh, wait, I see you have [one third of the amount] actually. It’s just now popping up. If you reup today, I’ll throw in [a few of what they already had].”

If a person said “I think I have 20 tans left, but I’m not sure. Will you check?” you would deduct however many you want so that they can be set aside for later when they eventually run out and you want to give them “free” tans with their next package.

It was absolutely crazy, and some of these girls were essentially paying for their mortgages with this money. I was totally miserable. The girls were catty, and you were only “popular” there if you were a top seller. I would drive home from work in tears because here I was, working in the heart of Sunset Blvd., one of the most coveted streets in the state, only to be at a tiny little tanning salon where I’m not even that great at my job.

I did, however, make a friend there named Ryan. He ended up becoming my very first real L.A. friend, so I guess the place served its purpose. Needless to say, most of the salons (including my “beloved” Sunset location) went out of business. Good riddance!

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Photo Credit: Dorian Rochowski/Pixabay

4. Work in L.A. Can Be a Lot of Fun

Without question, the best days of my life were during my employment at E!—but even after working there, my experiences and observations proved that there are so many opportunities to enjoy the workplace and be creative in L.A.

I had a couple positions at E! before landing my Editorial Assistant job, and once I scored that coveted spot (which required me to write and report), I went from transcribing someone else’s interviews to suddenly transcribing my own! And there were a lot! It was so surreal. I was working for a well-known TV media personality, interviewing stars I’d looked up to for years, going to boutique openings, hotel openings, awards shows, free dinners, everything! I was being sent bizarre sex toys, free bottles of top shelf liquor, a year’s supply of various snacks and soft drinks … just ’cause! It was so crazy. And although it was tough to be broken-into the already-acclimated group of non-E! red carpet reporters at all of the events I covered (a handful definitely were not nice at first), people in general were very kind and respectful. I was so inexperienced at this whole thing, and looking back, I had some really cheesy moments—but somehow I felt accepted throughout the whole process.

But even when I moved onto future jobs, each that followed (whether full-time, freelance or my blog), had/has a fun and creative element. Sure, work is work, and at any job, there are going to be tedious aspects or plain and simple things we don’t want to do, but I think L.A. gives people the opportunity to have more fun at their jobs than many other parts of the country. And so many people are in the creative space. It’s a very comforting feeling to be surrounded by so many fellow writers, for example.

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5. Regardless of Who You Are Or What You Do, We All Get Starstruck Over Someone

Given the nature of my career and the span of which I’ve been working, I’ve definitely had my share of celebrity and “celebrity” sightings, interviews and so forth. Although there will always be particular individuals whose very presence makes a reporter starstruck, for the most part, it doesn’t take long to get used to these encounters and spottings. In fact, many of these folks begin to recognize you over time, to the point where you’ve crossed over from being strangers to being somewhat of acquaintances and perhaps more. That said, there have been some standout experiences that certainly differed from just another “casual” red carpet interaction or party run-in. But my most monumental celebrity encounter, by far, has been with my forever-favorite, Shannen Doherty.

Shannen is not only the OG badass bitch of Hollywood, but she’s also my favorite actress of all time and has pretty much been ever since I saw my all-time favorite show, Beverly Hills, 90210 for the first time at eight years old. That said, you can only imagine a dream coming true when I got to interview her in a very intimate setting at her Malibu beach house five years ago. OMG!

I had met her a couple times prior and she was a pure delight. That very first time, I got super starstruck, which truthfully didn’t happen much. I even shed a tear. We took a photo (I told her I needed to move to be on my good side) and I was super nervous. And then, a couple years later, I was shocked when my then-editor at People.com told me I could go interview her at her home. She had been out of the news for a while, so I was incredibly grateful that he encouraged me to go, knowing my intense fandom.

On this day, Shannen was promoting a charity, and was giving away a bunch of old clothing. When I showed up to her home, she totally remembered me from the previous times. I was kind of embarrassed, but I could tell she appreciated my enthusiasm. I seriously cannot express how delightful she was. It was by far one of my career highs—probably the top (and on the same note, Luke Perry was an absolute dream to interview as well).

As for presently, I commend Shannen’s brave cancer fight, and I know that she is one tough cookie. If anyone can get through this, it’s her.

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6. The Definition of “Sociopath”

I’m fortunate to say that in L.A. I think I’ve met more people on the good side than on the bad. But even so, one term I’ve become incredibly familiar with in this town is “sociopath.” Until moving to this city, I had no idea what that meant. The term “psychopath” was tossed around incredibly freely since I was a kid, but sociopath? I really hadn’t heard it—and with the exception of one person I encountered during high school and one during college, I can’t think of anyone growing up who really defines that word.

Well, in L.A., there are sociopaths left and right. Charming, emotionless, cruel and full of lies are the characteristics that typically make up this breed. There are so many, but once you spot a couple, you can quickly spot ’em all. And once you do, you learn not to be bothered by their actions because they come from a very empty place. The sociopath predicament is an interesting one. I don’t know from exactly where such behavior stems. It’s really bizarre how many people are like this. Some can be incredibly boisterous and over-the-top, while others are fairly quiet and passive aggressive. But they each have similar distinct qualities that put them into a category of their own.

7. There Is a Black Hole in the Middle of West Hollywood

There’s a legendary black hole in the middle of West Hollywood known as The Abbey Food & Bar. Ah yes, the black hole that takes your dignity, dollars—and in my oh-so-fortunate case—many a cell phone. Yes, The Abbey is a spot that so many of us swear we’re taking a break from, but we always keep coming back to immediately. It’s the home to laughter, tears, new friends, old friends, awkward run-ins and so much more.

I don’t have any tattoos, but the tiny little incision-looking scar on the right side of my right elbow will forever remind me of this establishment. Ah, memories of when I was attacked with cocktail glasses for saving my friends’ seats and not letting these creepy guys sit at our table. Oh, to Saturday nights…

But with the bad clearly comes the good, because otherwise, why would I frequent this place so much? Is it because 85% of my friends are lesbians? Well, I guess that doesn’t stray me, but seriously though, this spot is a staple of my L.A. existence. There’s nowhere I’d rather be during Pride Weekend, New Year’s Day, the night before Thanksgiving, pretty much any night during wintertime, etc. Over the years, ever since making my very first L.A. friend (see: tanning salon), The Abbey has been a regular go-to regardless of friend group.

I’ve been to their monumental 25th anniversary extravaganza, I’ve been to a tasting for their new menu—I think it’s safe to say that black hole and all, The Abbey is in my West Hollywood life to stay.

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8. When in Doubt, Become a Blogger … and If All Else Fails, Become an Escort

Not only do I have some major passions, I’m also a professional writer who also has a journalism degree—so it’s not too shocking that I have a blog. But when I think about all of the people I meet in L.A. on a whim, who doesn’t have a blog? Obviously most people are fashion bloggers (clearly I’m not one of them), but either way, blogging has changed the way we view careers, journalism and everything in between. It doesn’t take a skilled reporter or the wittiest mind to create what is nowadays considered “quality” content.

Having a blog has not only essentially replaced having a portfolio, but it gives anyone with consistency access to publicists, cool events and a platform to share their life with the world. Whether or not you monetize your blog, having one has proved to be essential in this town.

When I first moved to L.A., I was so inspired by the Perez Hiltons, Harvey Levins and Michael Ks (Dlisted) of the world. Having a truly successful blog was a rarity. If you were even remotely known, you were huge. It started a whole new realm of publishing, and I thought it was awesome and much more free-spirited than traditional editorial. I had no idea blogging would turn into such a game-changing phenomenon. I am definitely in favor of this world because it allows everything I create to be solely from my own standpoint and preference.

But if a 9-5 career isn’t on your horizon and you don’t have the passion or commitment to become a blogger, I’ve learned you can join the legions of escorts in this town. I personally do not know a thing about this avenue, but I know it is very common and far more casual and socially acceptable than how you’d traditionally view it. Strange to me, normal to many.

9. It’s Perfectly Fine to Mock Some of the City’s Ridiculousness

What started out for me as a guilty pleasure that I didn’t take at all seriously, turned into a full-blown obsession. I was totally consumed with The Hills—and I still am! Why? Because it delivered a pretty accurate depiction of this city. When I first moved to L.A., where you were on a Wednesday night determined everything about your social status. Heaven forbid you weren’t at Area!

From the ridiculously staged iced coffee meetups at Joan’s on Third, to drama-filled birthday parties at Les Deux, it was impossible not to find humor in these predictable occurrences. Heck, the show’s comical villain Spencer Pratt sure made a lucrative mockery of the whole thing, so who’s to stop anyone else?

The Hills not only allowed any average Joe to get a glimpse into the fabulous existences of beautiful 20-somethings living the good life in the City of Angels, but it definitely provided us with plenty of fodder for a good laugh, because so much of what was portrayed (especially in the show’s first few seasons) truly was reflective of how things went down in this town. And I think as the show grew, the lifestyle in the city kind of melded to fit what was portrayed on TV.

I think this town has calmed down a lot since the hit show’s heydey, but it really was once all that ridiculous.

la-decade-lauren-conrad

10. Some of the Best L.A. Memories Don’t Actually Happen in L.A.

Okay, so technically some of my best L.A. memories didn’t actually occur here. They happened in Vegas and Palm Springs. Prior to L.A., I think I’d only been to Vegas once, and needless to say, it wasn’t a memorable experience because clearly I don’t remember it (and not for the right reasons). Because of this, I never had any desire to go there. But when I moved to L.A. and found people who showed me Vegas done right, I was totally sold. Words cannot describe some of my grandiose experiences coming out to the 702. From all-expenses-paid stays at a slew of top-tier hotels, to sharing a table with LC on New Year’s Eve at Hyde Bellagio, to a weekend full of Kaskade, Avicii and Above & Beyond, so many experiences have been nothing short of amazing.

I’ve frequented Palm Springs more than Vegas. It’s a lot easier to get to and doesn’t require too much effort or planning. This luxurious desert space is pure perfection. From many-a-Palm Springs International Film Festival weekend, to my 30th birthday during 4th of July weekend, to Coachella and various holiday weekends, Palm Springs is without question home to some of my all-time favorite memories.

Music

Year In Music: Here’s a Playlist (with Explanations) of My Top 25 Tracks of 2015

December 28, 2015

Fav_tracks_2015_skyelyfeIt was the very beginning of 2015, and Chris Brown and Tyga‘s “Ayo” was the first new radio song I’d heard of the year. I remember driving down the 405 with so much energy, thinking, “Wow, I love this song!”

Well, nothing’s changed since that fateful January day, and the carefree club track has remained not only my favorite song of 2015, but among my top five in the last five years.

But I obviously didn’t limit my listening to just that one track, and below is my list (actual Spotify playlist at the very bottom) and explanations of the 25 songs that best managed to bring a smile to my face this year. Note: These are in no particular order (well, except for #1 of course).

1. “Ayo” – Chris Brown & Tyga

If you’ve ever been with me in an uber, house party or anywhere with an auxiliary cord or some kind of Spotify connection this year, then I’m certain you know this song from start to finish. “Ayo” was definitely my anthem of 2015, and even with the new year upon us, I am certain this will forever remain a going-out classic.

2. “All I Need” – Sneaky Sound System

This song didn’t come out until the end of this year, but it wasted no time making its rounds on my Spotify spins. Sneaky Sound System (who now apparently just goes by Sneaky) has never let me down, and this uplifting song is no exception.

3. “Middle” – DJ Snake & Bipolar Sunshine

I was surprised this incredible track never made much of the radio rounds, following the immense success of Snake’s “Lean On.” “Middle” is far superior in my opinion, but it’s probably for the better that it hasn’t been played out (yet).

4. “Bad” – Alexx Mack

Not to be confused with former Nickelodeon character Alex Mack, this young lady, who I had the pleasure of interviewing back in February, brings out edgy pop at its finest. I fell in love with her sound after hearing “Bad,” and everything she’s released since has been nothing short of fabulous fun!

5. “Talk to Myself” – Avicii

I was really impressed with Avicii’s eclectic Stories album, which pleasantly took a little detour from that strictly country sound he had been going with in his previous material. “Talk to Myself” was my favorite from his latest project, and it definitely received a high dose of my Spotify spins during the month of its October release.

6. “Zero” – Chris Brown

Not much more to say than how can you turn away from a funky, high-energy track that makes you want to dance? Well done, Breezy!

7. “Planes” – Jeremih & J. Cole

This Grammy-nominated track provided the perfect combo of a sick beat and a smooth-flowing verse by J. Cole at the end. No complaints here!

8. “Trippin (Deep Hamilton Remix”) – Hedvig & Hamilton

This sexy little electro tune resembles Kygo‘s sound and was on my regular rotation for the first three months since I’d heard it.

9. “The Less I Know the Better” – Tame Impala

Tame Impala had a breakthrough year with the release of their Grammy-nominated dream-pop album Currents. The 13-track compilation that I think was the best of the year is easy on the ears from start to finish, but “The Less I Know the Better” definitely got my attention the most.

10. “Take Me Over” – Peking Duk & SAFIA

It was a tough call between this track and Peking Duk’s “High,” but I had to give SAFIA some love after hearing this incredible Australian indie-electro band for the first time on several tracks this year.

11. “Midnight Sun” – Kate Boy

Kate Boy wows me with every song release. The Swedish synth-pop duo has a signature sound that can’t go unnoticed, and “Midnight Sun” was regularly stuck in my head since its debut.

12. “Chasing Heaven” – Bassnectar

Dark beauty at its finest, Bassnectar’s melodic dubstep is always a must-listen, and “Chasing Heaven” was the best off his “Into the Sun” release, in my opinion.

13. “Sunglasses” – Alexx Mack

Mack makes the list again with her equally catchy “Sunglasses,” which is about hitting up a party and having a good time. Nothin’ wrong with that!

14. “Pink Medicine” – Bearson

Odesza fans should give this fun track a listen because there’s a major sound similarity.

15. “Will You Dance?” – the bird and the bee

I had the pleasure of interviewing the bird and the bee’s singer Inara George this year for Billboard, and not only was she soft spoken and delightful, but her long-awaited “Will You Dance?” album was the perfect light and airy selection of songs I needed to kick off summer months. “Will You Dance?” (which was also the album’s lead single) was every bit the sweet and deliciously sappy track that perfectly complemented carefree fun in the sun.

16. “Gemini” – What So Not & George Maple

This song dominated my drive to and from Coachella this year. I saw George Maple at a small show shortly before the festival and knew immediately this song would be on my heavy rotation.

17. “The Other Boys” – NERVO, Kylie Minogue, Jake Shears, Nile Rodgers

Kylie Minogue + anyone, typically = gold, and “The Other Boys” is no exception. The dance track is perfect for getting ready to go out, driving on the freeway, or pretty much anything else.

18. “The Music” – Gigamesh

Known mainly for his electronic remixes, Gigamesh released a track of his own this year with the delightfully dance-y “The Music.”

19. “Run” – Alison Wonderland

This SXSW artist‘s own music didn’t hit it big until this year, but the moment I heard “Run,” I needed to hear more. Known for her edgy style and equally hip sound, this Australian electro artist definitely has the potential for a bright future.

20. “Where Are Ü Now” – Jack Ü, Skrillex, Diplo, Justin Bieber

Arguably one of the biggest songs of the year, this release was not only Justin Bieber’s first step toward a comeback, but it also introduced some of the most unique and cutting-edge sounds in music (especially on the radio).

21. “Been You” – Justin Bieber

This upbeat little number was by far my favorite track off of the Biebs’ successful “Purpose” album. Honorable mention goes to his earnest intro ballad “Mark My Words.”

22. “Falling Away” – Seven Lions & LIGHTS

You can’t put Seven Lions and LIGHTS together and not expect a beautiful piece of work. This melodic electro track has been on my regular rotation since its August release.

23. Want to Want Me” – Jason Derulo

File this one under guilty pleasures, but hey, it produced some pretty awesome memories (and dance routines) for me this year, so I really cannot complain!

24. “Fetty Wap” – Trap Queen

Another guilty pleasure track that I’m sure I’m not alone in listing. Although I got sick of it after probably the 100th listen, there’s no denying that this was one of the catchiest radio singles of the year.

25. “Fine By Me” – Chris Brown

Like “Zero,” this track from the just-released Royalty album makes you want to get up and dance! I’m so glad I closed out this year seeing Breezy’s concert at the Hollywood Palladium.

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Music Food

Synth-Pop Artist Genesee Discusses How His A.D.D. Struggles and ‘Chaotic Mind’ Helped Form His Debut EP

October 7, 2015

Genesee_skyelyfeIt wouldn’t be a real song if it didn’t tell a story, right? Well, TonyGeneseeMoras has experienced alcohol abuse, Attention Deficit Disorder struggles, and falling in love – which has led him to 1.5 years of current sobriety and a three-song, just-released ’80s synth-pop-sounding EP Always (scroll to the very bottom), which explores his journey to the present.

“The first year of getting sober is very inspirational and very openminded,” Moras tells skyelyfe of divulging his personal life on the EP. “You’re open to expressing yourself and talking about a lot of things. The next few songs on the album are going to be about my sobriety. I feel great. I could be drunk and doing drugs and write an album, but it would probably be a different kind of album. I can’t wait to listen to this like five years from now and be like, wow, that’s when I first got sober.”

But even at his very best, Moras admits his “brain is still chaotic.” And his hectic mindset is something he addresses in the song “1993.”

He explains of the track: “For some reason, I’m going through the same thing today that I was in 1993. I still have the same people talking in my head, the problems that I had in 1993. So I was ten years old in 1993 … that song is about how nothing’s really changed for me. My looks have changed, but the mental stuff is still there. Can I deal with pressure? I’m still under the same pressure. Do I get nervous? I still get nervous.”

Part of what’s kept him going during this sometimes tedious journey is his girlfriend of 2.5 years, Samantha Atkin.

“The song ‘Always’ is about my girlfriend,” Moras, who lives with his significant other, says with a smile. “She has a tattoo underneath her left boob that says ‘always.’ She’s a very cool inspiration for me with lyrics and stuff. She’s always there – literally. Any time I write a song, she’s always critiquing it or always giving me words to use in the verses to the chorus.”

Genesee_logo_skyelyfeMoras combines his love for electronic music with his self-proclaimed “emo voice,” to create a style he says is similar to that of Owl City or The Postal Service.

“This specific EP is electronic music,” he explained. “I really got into listening to Axwell, Avicii. I don’t want to take that tropical house route. Everybody’s going that tropical house route. I still want to go back to the basics of trance and house.”

But above all else, the influence behind his brand as a musician comes from living in L.A., a place the Ohio native has proudly called home for 15 years.

“I made the EP in my place on Genesee,” Moras says of his West Hollywood dwellings. “I’m on Melrose [Ave.]. I’m a huge Melrose hoodrat. I’ve lived there about seven years. I love L.A., and that’s why I wanted to name [myself] after this street called Genesee. Basically, my studio is on Genesee. I have a great mixer in New York and a great mixer in Indiana, and they do all the final mastering, but at the end of the day, I [make the songs] on Genesee.”

When it comes to L.A. lifestyle, the former nightlife connoisseur reminisces of fun times at iconic then-hotspot Les Deux, a la the days of The Hills, a show he enthusiastically calls “great!”

But as for present times, Moras says the Houston brothers (Mark and Jonnie Houston) are really the face of the social scene right now in Hollywood.

From Harvard & Stone and Pour Vous, to No Vacancy, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s – and most recently Break Room 86, these guys have really changed the game of L.A. nightlife.

“I love that place,” Moras says of The Line hotel’s ’80s-themed, Koreatown-based hotspot. “I think the Houston brothers are doing a great job. When I first moved to L.A. – before there was Facebook and MySpace, the only way you really knew what was cool was by way of a text message. Back then, you’d go to these little hole-in-the-wall dive places. You wouldn’t go to the mega Lures and the giant clubs SBE does. People went to the really cool places like El Centro. The Houston brothers gave Break Room 86 a theme. It’s making people feel not so commercialized and jammed into a room.”

But as someone who now lays low when it comes to hitting the town, Moras is more likely to keep up with what’s being served fresh out of the oven.

Plan Check is a great burger place,” he says of one of his favorite dining spots in the city. “I love Bagel Broker. My favorite Italian in the world is Dan Tana’s. It’s the best Italian in L.A., I think. Prime Pizzas the bomb. It’s on Fairfax right by Rosewood Tavern.”

And when he’s not eating or making music, he makes time for a little shopping.

“I like Zara,” Moras says, adding that he’s a big fan of The Grove. “Urban Outfitters is always a go-to. Also, the shop of my buddy’s clothing line Sol Angeles. I actually went to high school with this guy. His stuff is in Kitson. It’s kind of like the old Hollister look, but it has an L.A. vibe to it, too.” 

Check out Moras’ EP below:

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Music

Avicii, French Horn Rebellion, Tinashe, Lost Kings & More: New Music Monday!

October 5, 2015

Avicii_talk_to_myself_skyelyfeAvicii fans should be pleased with his latest album Stories. The eclectic mix of 14 songs incorporates some of that country sound he’s produced lately – but, it also includes some really fun, melodic, party-starting tracks like my favorite, “Talk to Myself,” which I’ve included on today’s New Music Monday playlist.

And speaking of lively music, I’m all about French Horn Rebellion‘s disco-heavy “Classical Baby” and Lost Kings‘ “Bad,” featuring Jessame.

For a bit of a slower, sexier sound, there’s Rufus Du Sol‘s “Like An Animal,” SAINT WKND‘s “Lost,” featuring INGLSH, and Kyler Slater‘s dark R&B jam, “Black Eyes.”

I’m also digging Tinashe‘s new “Player,” featuring Chris Brown. Usually Breezy outshines the main voice on the tracks he lends his vocals on, but I’ve got to hand it to Tinashe on this one. She is definitely the star of this song.

Click on the playlist below for 16 new songs, also including music by Paul Wall, Selena Gomez, Kisses, Janet Jackson and Hot Natured.

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Music

21 New Songs to Get You Set for September!

August 31, 2015

RAC-new-music-skyelyfeI know I say this every 30 days, but I seriously can’t believe tomorrow is already [insert month – in this case, September]!

And with a new month comes some fresh tunes to enjoy from some of the most favored artists of the moment.

From RAC, The Weeknd and the Biebs, to Avicii, Keys N Krates and SomeKindaWonderful, click below for a diverse new playlist of 21 songs you’ll be sure to enjoy as the weather (hopefully) gets cooler and fall gets nearer.

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Music Featured

How to Get Into the Music Industry with NO Connections (from a Person Who Tried Successfully)

July 30, 2015

RAS_skyelyfe_2If you read my post last week about NicholasRASFurlong, you saw that the 28-year-old has quite the impressive resume, producing and writing for everyone from Avicii and Kygo, to Waka Flocka and Good Charlotte (and the list goes on).

While his success certainly did not come overnight, he did become big fast, and all entirely by his own ambitious doing. The Lake Tahoe native was just another unknown music fan like you or me, and he knew he had to take some huge risks to get his name and music to the right people, while sitting in his living space mixing sounds and listening to “Days Go By,” by Dirty Vegas.

The big 2Pac and EPMD fan opened up to skyelyfe about some of the gutsy actions he took to get where he is today, and I am sharing them with you below:

1. Do Your Research and Be Willing to Make Some Cold Calls

“My favorite story is when I called Ron Fair’s office once,” Furlong recalls with a smile. “It was when Interscope, Geffen and A&M were all one label. Ron was heading up A&M, and it was right around the big Pussycat Dolls surge. I got his phone number from one of those stupid websites where you pay $10 and you get everybody in the industry’s numbers. I called Ron Fair, and I said, ‘Hey, this is so-and-so from David Massey‘s office. I have David for you.’ Ron got on the phone, and I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t really work with David Massey, but will you listen to my music?’ And he was like, ‘That takes balls. Yeah, send me whatever you want. That’s cool that you did that.’ And then later in life, I told David Massey that story and he thought it was hilarious, too.”

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Aggressively Utilize Social Media!

“[I used] MySpace,” Furlong says. “I used to hit up artists and songwriters, like Andre Merritt. He co-wrote ‘Disturbia’ and Chris Brown’s ‘Forever.’ I knew of his work, and it was before [any of his now-biggest songs]. We used to go back and forth and just talk on MySpace. And Brian Kennedy and J.R. Rotem. It was back in those days when I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. I didn’t know who to talk to. I was just happy to talk to anyone who would fucking pick up the phone.”

3. Take the YOLO approach 

“I think you kind of have to do that [risky] shit though,” Furlong says. “If you don’t throw yourself into the fire and you sit around and wait for the right time, it’s never going to come. Just do it. Just go and do it.” 

RAS_skyelyfeAll of Furlong’s hard work has been paying off. Aside from industry peer recognition, he is now able to help launch the careers of other stars on-the-rise. He recently launched his AttaBoy record label and has signed his first client, a country-rock artist, Lindsay James.

“I just finished producing her first EP, and she recently opened for Kenny Chesney,” Furlong says. “I’m fine-tuning her as a performer. As an artist, she’s great, but she’s a little rusty in performing. I get to be a part of the artist as a whole, in this regard. It’s really cool to develop the sound and the direction and the look and presentation.”

As for what’s next? Furlong’s got a lot of exciting content in the works with Krewella, Dimitri Vegas, Good Charlotte and Nick Jonas (just to name a humble few). And, of course, be sure to check out his produced track “Game On” from the Pixels soundtrack, featuring Good Charlotte and Waka Flocka.

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Music

‘Pixels’ Soundtrack Artist RAS Dishes on Working with Some of Today’s Biggest Musicians

July 24, 2015

RAS_skyelyfeNicholas “RAS” Furlong‘s name may not ring a bell right off the bat, but trust me, if you’ve ever turned on the radio, went to a nightclub, or pretty much ever listened to music, then you’re definitely familiar with his work.

He most recently co-wrote and sang on Avicii‘s “The Nights,” you’re about to hear his production efforts on “Game On” from the Pixels soundtrack with Good Charlotte and Waka Flocka (scroll to bottom), he’s currently in the studio with Kygo, Good Charlotte and Krewella (separately) and he’s already been sought out by Nick Jonas‘ label and management to work on his next album. Whew, that’s a lot!

Skyelyfe recently caught up with this behind-the-scenes megastar poolside at Sunset Marquis hotel in West Hollywood, and he dished on his whirlwind career, working with such a diverse spectrum of artists – and – of course, what we’d like to know about some of the famous folks he works with.

RAS_skyelyfe_2“A lot of songwriters get boxed into one particular sort of genre, and that’s their niche,” the Lake Tahoe native-turned-Topanga Canyon resident says. “For me, I find that a good song is a good song. The way it’s presented and produced is pretty much the most important part. It’s ensuring that it’s true to not only that artist’s brand, but also to the genre itself. I’ve been a lover of music since I was a kid. I was a lover of hip-hop, which transcended into being really into rock.”

Furlong, who started out only wanting to write pop music, credits One Republic’s frontman with helping him think outside of the box.

“Being signed to Ryan Tedder, he was singing hooks for rappers, but also doing One Republic,” the AttaBoy record label owner says. “But then he’d turn around and write a song for Demi Lovato. When I first started working on dance music, Diplo was the first opportunity that I got. I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ I started looking him up and I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s cool.’ I kept getting introduced to different people. I would say no to some things, but on a lot of things, I just liked the challenge of, can I do this?”

RAS_Pixels_Game_On_skyelyfeOf everything Furlong has done throughout his career, filling a slot on the Pixels soundtrack is among his most boast-worthy achievements.

Adam Sandler is one of my favorite actors, so to hear that my song had to be approved by him to be in the film, I felt like, cool, I’ve got some clout with Adam Sandler,” the producer said with a smile. “[I was told the film] needed a song with some anthemic-rock theme. I was like, ‘Dude, the only way we can pull this off is with Waka. He is that.’ “

And from there, I just had to ask what it’s like hanging out with Waka, who happens to be one of my favorite rappers of the moment. Read on to hear all about working with him, along with a handful of other artists. You may be in for some surprises!

Waka Flocka: “He’s amazing. I’ve never met a man or an artist who can just be in one place, but be everywhere at the same time, and lend himself in so many different ways. He’s just a really approachable, nice, warm guy – which is funny, because from his physical appearance, he seems very intimidating. His energy is unmatchable. He has this crazy energy about him that you love. And he’s such a nice person and so kind. He’s the kind of guy who has fans scurrying around backstage at his shows, running up to him with their phones.

Backstage in his green room one time, we’d be in the middle of a conversation and fans would be walking up and standing right next to him, and I’d be like, ‘This doesn’t bother you?’ and he’d be like, ‘Nah, man, I love my fans.’ And I was like, ‘That’s so cool you do that.’ He doesn’t care. He’s like a dude hanging out at a party.”

Kygo: “He recognizes what I did with ‘The Nights,’ but he recognizes I have this niche for finding different inspiration from different genres. We’ve just been trying to figure out the direction we want to do. We have one song that’s really good, but I think we might try to beat it. We’ve just been kind of figuring out if this is the best thing we can do together. He’s really great and on fire right now. He’s about to do this big thing with Apple Music, and I’m also on a bit of a hot streak, and we just want whatever we put out to be like, holy shit.”   

Nick Jonas: “He and I haven’t actually been in the same room yet, which is really funny. It’s just been me working with the label and the management. They pretty much were like, ‘Go crazy. Do whatever you want. Try different stuff.’ It’s kind of experimental. With [any artists I work with], I try to think of what the next thing is, not what’s out now. With Nick, it’s been a cool challenge. Instead of listening to ‘Jealous’ or ‘Chains’ or whatever, I’m like, what’s the evolution of Nick Jonas? Where does it go from here? And I think I have a pretty good idea of where I’d like to take it. Hopefully the music comes out and everybody’s stoked on it.”

Five Seconds of Summer: “They surprised me the most. Usually when someone says, ‘Hey, there’s this band,’ you show up, and it’s always the most predictable thing. You know what it’s going to be. Who cares? It’s the same thing – just a bunch of auto-tune and a bunch of crappy pop songs with big hooks. That’s it. In this case, I showed up, and all four of them play their instruments. And they all four have incredible voices, they all four can write songs well, and they all four have become, in the last year, just like perfect at playing their instruments.

It’s just been really cool to like see them from the beginning when I first started working with them, to now. They’ve just grown into superstars, and they know it. Even now, they’re finishing their new record, and it sounds incredible. It shows so much evolution from them, and I think that’s the biggest thing you look for in an artist.”

All Time Low: “I’ve definitely connected really well with Alex [Gaskarth] and Jack [Barakat]. I bond with those guys.”

Furlong had so much fascinating insight into the business that I didn’t want to cram everything into one post. Check back next week for his three effective (and gutsy) tips on getting your foot into the music industry door with zero connections (he tried them firsthand, and look at him now)!

And, of course, check out the “Pixels” track below, along with his own recent single “Doesn’t Get Better Than This.”

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Music

PHOTOS: Swedish Electropop Singer Tove Styrke Takes Over the Troubadour!

May 22, 2015
Photo credit: Natalie Kanooni

Photo credit: Natalie Kanooni

America has found its latest Swedish sensation!

Following in the footsteps of Avicii, Robyn, Icona Pop, Miike Snow, Lykke Li – and the list goes on and on – Tove Styrke (not to be confused with Tove Lo, who is also from Sweden), is making a name for herself in the states.

Her career took off in Sweden all the way back in 2009, when she was a contestant on its version of American Idol. And now at only 22 years old, she’s proving she can make it as a worldwide star.

Photo credit: Natalie Kanooni

Photo credit: Natalie Kanooni

The electropop singer, who I included in this week’s New Music Monday, made an energetic debut at West Hollywood’s Troubadour last night, and she did not disappoint. Performing a handful of songs, including “Borderline,” “Brag” and “Even If I’m Loud, It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking to You,” there was not a single body in the venue that wasn’t bouncing away to her infectious sound.

Luckily, I had fellow Tove Styrke fan Natalie Kanooni on hand to capture some of the action in photos. Enjoy the shots, and check out one of the adorable singer’s singles “Ego” below!:

Photo credit: Natalie Kanooni

Photo credit: Natalie Kanooni

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Music

Ultra Music Festival Artist AronChupa Tells Skyelyfe About Young Fame, His Drug-Free Lifestyle and Why He Refuses to Sound Like Other EDM Artists

March 26, 2015

AronChupa

At just 23 years old, AronChupa joins Avicii, Zedd, AlessoMartin Garrix and Porter Robinson on the list of currently booming EDM producers who shot to wild fame at impressively young ages.

As he prepares to hit the main stage tomorrow at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, the Swedish artist, whose real name is Aron Ekberg, sat down with skyelyfe earlier this week in L.A.’s Santa Monica, to discuss becoming an overnight sensation with the release of his oddball single, “I’m An Albatraoz” (which features his sister Nora Ekberg on vocals). The hit went certified double platinum in Sweden and platinum in New Zealand, Italy and Denmark. It has also been streamed more than 200 million times via Spotify and YouTube and has been Shazammed four million times. 

Ekberg certainly doesn’t credit those (not so) hard-hitting lyrics for the song’s success, explaining with a laugh: “They’re not poetry. I was focusing on the beat pretty much, but we needed something to sing. I can’t even remember the lyrics myself now.” 

Read on to find out what annoys the rising star about EDM, what he thinks the pros and cons are of young fame, why “hip-hop-swing” should be on everyone’s radar and how he’s paying it forward with his fans.

skyelyfe: What is your take on L.A. and what has your experience been like when you’ve visited?

Aron Ekberg: It’s the bomb [laughs]. I really like L.A. I’ve been here a couple of times. The shows are always good here and I don’t know if there is anywhere else on earth where the EDM or music scene [in general] is as big as it is here. It’s hard not to like L.A. There’s a little too much traffic, but I like L.A. a lot. I had a show last Friday at the Palladium with David Guetta, Zedd and Alesso. It was fun!

SL: Going off of that, what is the vibe among artists in your genre? Do you guys mesh well? Feed off of each others’ ideas?

AE: [Regardless of what field] you work in, if you meet someone in your [business], you connect in some way. That’s the same with producers. We have a lot to talk about. It’s cool.

SL: Which artists do you look up to or have a style you somewhat want to emulate?

AE: To be honest, I don’t have anyone like that. It’s hard to explain exactly what I want to do. I didn’t start off as a DJ. I started off in rock bands and stuff like that. How I first got into making music was when I got a piano and guitar from my parents and I started to play when I was around 10 years old. I’d be around these bands who would go to big studios and record and I thought about how I wanted to do something like that. So I started recording myself playing the guitar and singing. Eventually, I was just adding more elements to the vocal tracks I was recording myself. And then it just suddenly turned into EDM.

SL: And you’re only 23. Do you think to yourself, “Wow, if I’m 23 now, just imagine where I can be at 30?”

AE: It’s crazy for sure, but at the same time, you get a little spoiled in a way. I went to college and then had to quit college because I started with music and it went so well, so I didn’t have time for college. I feel like to me, I’m getting a little spoiled because I never really worked. I don’t call what I do a job. I get to do whatever I want, so I’m scared of someday maybe … actually having to work for real. I might get depressed, I don’t know.

SL: Tell me about “I’m An Albatraoz.” The video is quite entertaining and the song is interesting, to say the least

AE: I’ve always been influenced by old music. I really like swing, blues, jazz and those types. I like to mix it up with EDM, and that’s how I came up with the beat to this song. I was sitting myself down in the studio, telling myself, “Ok, now I’m going to do something totally different from everything else.” And I did. What is [that lyric]? “Mouse – mmm that little mouse. Fuck the little mouse.” I wanted something to rhyme with mouse. And then we were thinking about different birds. I was like, “Albatross. Let’s say say Albatraoz. Ok, that works.”

SL: As an emerging artist, what is something you want to avoid? And what’s something you want to maintain?

AE: I wouldn’t want to call myself an “EDM” artist in the future. I don’t want people to be surprised if I were to release a rock song. Maybe not rock, maybe that’s a little too far out there, but I want to be able to do different stuff. If I do a hip-hop song or whatever, I wouldn’t want my fans to be surprised.

SL: What do you think the biggest problem with EDM is these days?

AE: I’ve got to be honest and say that I think everything sounds way too similar to each other. I swear to god, before my sets sometimes, I go through Beatport and all these lists all the time to look for new music, and everything is too similar. I remember two, three years ago, when I heard Martin Garrix’s “Animals” and stuff like that, it was really, really cool to hear for the first time. But that’s all I hear these days. Every time I do something, I want to do something that’s different. Sometimes I’m even tired of the tracks I’m playing myself. But I mean I think there are tons of good producers. Oliver Heldens is a genius. It’s a totally new thing that he’s been coming up with. I think Avicii was great when he first came out, but now there are now so many producers who do the exact same thing [he started with]. Yeah, sure, it works, I guess, because people like it, but I feel like something new needs to happen.

SL: What’s a current song that really exemplifies the fresh new sound you’re interested in? Or what’s playing when you’re just driving around or getting ready for a night out?

AE: I don’t really just listen to music anymore, to be honest. If I listen to anything, it’s something completely different. Because if I listen to EDM tracks, I think, like, “Oh, maybe I should try this or that.” I get into work mode, so I don’t really listen to EDM in that way. I’m listening to a lot of electro-swing right now, like Parov Stelar. And Movits! does hip-hop swing. I’ve always liked weird music.

SL: Tell me about your YouTube Billionaire project

AE: It’s basically for anyone. Anyone can upload a video on my website YouTube Billionaire, and for each view, you get a cent [out of my pocket].  You can really upload whatever you like.

SL: So now that you’ve conquered the YouTube space and have become a name to know in the EDM scene, what’s next for you?

AE: That’s a good question. I don’t really like thinking about that. I just want to go with the flow. I don’t really set up plans, but I have a lot of cool things coming up in 2015. Aside from playing at Ultra, I’ll be touring pretty much all over the world. It’s fun, and I just can’t wait to release more stuff.

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Photo credit: Alex Wessely

5 FUN FACTS

Last thing I splurged on: “Before I got to L.A., I flew to Ottawa first and I walked by Sunglass Hut. I bought a pair of new Ray-Ban sunglasses. They were like $250. I put them on and then I walked on the plane. And I put them in the little pouch in the back of the seat in front of me, and obviously I forgot them. So I had them literally for like five hours.”

Last time I cooked: “I cook every day. I love cooking. My specialty is Swedish meatballs. I’ve been on tour for two-and-a-half weeks, so I usually don’t cook when I’m on tour, but before that, I did.”

Last concert I attended that wasn’t my own: “My friend was hosting a party and he wanted to be a DJ. It was like three weeks. It was all right. It was fun. To be honest, since I work with shows, I don’t really go watch. When I’m off, I don’t really like going to concerts because that’s where I work. When I go back home and people want to go out clubbing, I’m like, ‘No.’ ”

Last time I was upset: “I was really upset last Wednesday. They suspected me for being high in customs. They thought I was on some drugs, but I hadn’t slept the night before. I was up working all night and I told them that. They asked me if I was on drugs. I’ve never taken drugs in my entire life. They said they didn’t believe me and they went through my entire bags and everything. Then the let me into the country.”

My last regret: “I had been working on a song for three days and I put it on a hard drive and before I went to bed, I took my laptop and was watching a movie and my hard drive was still connected to the computer. I was too lazy to eject it and the whole song was gone. I regret that. I didn’t back it up because I was too lazy.”

Check out the “I’m An Albatraoz” video below:

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Music

Rameses B, Purity Ring, Paul Wall, Avicii & More: New Music Monday, 12.8.14

December 8, 2014

Rameses-bThere’s a lot of new music in store this week! I bring you an eclectic mix of everything from Rameses B‘s dreamy drum n bass sound on “We Love,” to some good ol’ Southern rap by a longtime favorite Paul Wall off his new album Po Up Poet

Kitsune compilations are never a letdown, and the latest – called the Season’s Greetings Mix – is no exception. Filled with light melodies, my favorite on the album is Amtrac‘s remix of “Kiss to Kiss” by The Swiss & Roxan.

Purity Ring, Kygo and Avicii also have new music, which keeps to their signature sounds.

Check out the list of 10 new songs below, which also includes Mikky Ekko, CamelPhat and Omarion, featuring Chris Brown:

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Music Uncategorized Featured

Electronic Duo Cazzette Dishes to Skyelyfe on the ‘Problem’ with ‘EDM,’ Who They Think Will Be the Next Big Thing in Music and Why They Miss the Old Stuff!

November 4, 2014
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Photo Credit: Alex Wessely

Cazzette has made 2014 their year! The Swedish duo, consisting of Sebastian Furrer and Alexander Björklund, are fresh off the heels of releasing their new melodic dance track “Blind Heart,” and they feel like they’re in a great place.

The lovely lads, who are under Avicii‘s LE7ELS label and are best known for 2012’s “Beam Me Up” and this year’s “Sleepless,” recently sat down with skyelyfe on the picturesque rooftop of Sixty Beverly Hills to talk about being more in control of their sound now than before, why they refuse to be classified as “EDM” artists, how they are “down to earth guys who don’t do crazy stuff” and why Flume is going to take over the music world.

SL: What do you guys think of L.A.?

Sebastian: We love L.A. It’s a very nice city and obviously the weather is very nice. There are very good vibes here. It’s obviously a big city to music and film and we’ve been meeting people here. It’s so easy to meet people in the music industry. Everybody’s here basically, so it’s nice. I wouldn’t move here because I’m still in love with Sweden and I’m a big New York guy more than a West Coast guy, but I love it here for work and for a short amount of time to hang out.

SL: You guys recently performed at Avalon in Hollywood. What was that experience like?

Alex: Avalon is great. It’s a big venue, which is cool. It has that theatre vibe, which we like. And this time was the most fun we’ve ever had playing there because we’ve changed a lot over this past year. I feel like we’re way more honest to ourselves now and with the music that we make and play. It’s more exciting to play now because we’re playing 100 percent what we like. We slightly try to educate the crowd a bit with playing the music that we grew up on even though it doesn’t sound like the typical Top 40 for music. We play tracks from 2004-2007, like old Axwell, all old stuff.

SL: Going off of that, who are some more artists whose old style of music you miss?

Alex: Laidback Luke. I miss his old stuff.

Sebastian: Yeah, he was great before. I mean I haven’t heard his [newer] stuff that much. I just love his older stuff. Everybody has to evolve in a way, so I get it, but his old stuff was incredible. As producers, we were like, “Whoa, what’s this?” It was so interesting at the time.

SL: What’s your take on this whole “EDM” craze?

Alex: I think there’s a problem with that word “EDM.” I mean, sure, it’s electronic dance music, but I’d rather it be “EM,” electronic music. You can’t compare dubstep and house. They are two completely different things.

Sebastian: I think they misuse the word, and that’s the problem. This became a big term in America. It probably will never be a term in Europe. I’ve never heard anyone use it there. I think when people got educated here, they put it on blogs and they were [labeling] a dubstep act with EDM. I’m not saying not saying it’s the blogs or anyone’s fault, I just think it’s been misused. People think everything is EDM and it’s the same stuff. If you compare rock music, it’s very broad. There are tons of stuff within rock music. There’s indie rock and there’s pop rock, but you can’t put them in the [exact] same category. And that’s the same here. Dubstep is completely different from house music. House music is completely different from electro and techno. Of course they have the same elements, but it’s still different vibes.

SL: Do you guys classify yourself in what’s considered “EDM” or in some kind of sub-genre?

Alex: It’s a problem for us because we’re like so many different kinds of genres, but right now I would say house.

SL: Congratulations on “Blind Heart.” Tell me about the inspiration behind that song

Alex: The inspiration was from just listening to the acapella. That’s usually how we work if we receive an acapella. When we hear something, it’s like, what kind of vibe does this track have? How are we going to capture what we fell for in the acapella?

Sebastian: It was a very long process to make because we were changing our minds all the time about arrangement. We were discussing what the chorus is, but then we decided, fuck it, there’s no chorus. Let’s just go with vibe and people can decide what the chorus is. The song is very specially structured. It’s not the typical verse-chorus.

SL: Aside from people you’ve worked with, who do you admire in the music scene in general?

Alex: Kanye West.

Sebastian: Pharrell Williams, Moby, Justin Timberlake, obviously. From the hip-hop and trap stuff, we like Flume. He’s incredible. There’s a guy from Sweden called Skogsrå. He’s a new guy. There are so many people who inspire us in general. We love rock, we love hip-hop. Sometimes we listen to jazz.

SL: Any predictions on who’s going to be the next big music thing in the states?

Sebastian: I think Flume is just going to get bigger. What he does is incredible and he’s just going to keep growing.

SL: What’s something about you guys that your fans don’t already know?

Sebastian: [laughs] We have no dirty secrets at all. We just want our fans to hear our music. Our personal life is kind of irrelevant because at the end of the day, it’s about the music. Of course it helps if you have  a personality. I wouldn’t say we’re boring, but there’s not too much to know. I think we’re very calm. We’re down to earth guys who don’t do crazy stuff. If there’s something people should know, we work a lot. We always spend time in studios. That’s our crazy life [laughs].

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Photo Credit: Alex Wessely

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