Billie Eilish’s recent sweep at the Grammys has the tsunami warnings going off in my head — where every label on Earth rushes out to sign copycats with hopes of catching the same wave. The same thing happened with Nirvana in 1991, and fortunately, Dave Grohl was wise enough to see the ‘Bad Guy’ singer with proper perspective. ”Her music is hard to define! I don’t know what you call it! I try to describe her to people and I don’t know,” he said last year. ”I don’t even know what to call it. But it’s authentic. And I would call that rock n roll.”
It’s in that spirit that Popdose presents two world premiere videos today, Chris Mardini and Caroline Mason. He’s from the East Coast, she’s from the West. Neither act sounds or looks like Ms. Eilish in any way possible, but they share a kindred spirit of authenticity and sonic adventure.
By the time Chris Mardini, 17, was born in New York City’s West Village, the towers had fallen, their ashes taking with it the bohemian spirit of the 1990s. And yet, the ghosts of Nirvana, Odelay-era Beck, and mid-decade hip hop haunt his music. Art, like any other organic compound, can only stay buried for so long before it sprouts up and blossoms into something new.
Shantie Midnight directed the dreamy Sleepless’ clip. Executive producer Brielle Brown handpicked model Jesse Bisbee to co-star without an audition after their paths crossed in real life. Two time Grammy winner Marc Swersky produced the song, along with other tracks slated for an upcoming EP. Having worked with such diverse artists as Joe Cocker, Hilary Duff, and Popdose favorites Ashley Delima and the Gray Vines, Swersky knew how to properly bring out the soul, pop, rock and hip hop flavors in Mardini’s music. Mark Needham mixed the track; he’s previously worked with Lindsey Buckingham, the Killers, and is currently wrapping the heavily-anticipated new album by the Airborne Toxic Event.
‘Sleepless’, along with two other Mardini singles, have already racked up a few hundred thousand streams online while he expands his fanbase one club show at a time. ”As an artist, the most important thing for me is to connect,” Mardini said. “I hope people can walk away from my shows feeling like someone is with them. I want them to know that they are not alone.”
While Mardini’s song is very much rooted in pop, multi-instrumentalist and composer Caroline Mason’s If You Want Me To’, is much more experimental. Watch it once and its hook will be on your lips for hours, despite the absences of traditional verses and choruses. Mason is preparing to leave her hometown of Portland, Oregon, and in many ways, the song is about letting go. The video, directed by Christal Angelique, is a central part of the overall experience. Angelique describes their collaborative work as ”a conceptual piece about facing, fighting and saying goodbye to one’s old self in order to better walk into their future.”
When Mason first showed Angelique the track — the repetitive rhythmic lyrics being ”If you want me to go, then just say so” — the first thing that came to Angelique’s mind was a multiplying marching army in the desert being all of the same person. The thought of facing yourself / telling your old self to leave while dressed in the future. Angelique was inspired by English fashion designer Gareth Pugh for the video’s wardrobe. His futuristic designs inspired her minimalist vision. Angelique collaborated with Portland clothing designer Kate Towers to create a custom piece for the film. Wille Walle (director of photography), Ivan Vidovic (edit and compositing) and Michael Miller (visual effects) help bring Mason and Angelique’s futuristic vision to life.