Combining two art students and a derivatives trader into an all-encompassing art project was surely a novel concept. Autograf -- formed by Jake Carpenter, Louis Kha, and Mikul Wing -- craft a shimmery mix of futuristic electronica with a D.I.Y. ethos that melds the skills from their former day jobs. When the electronic music scene reached a certain peak, the group wanted to bring some sexy back to the genre. After remixing a string of songs by prominent artists like Lorde and Pharrell, they released their first original song, "Dream," through Ultra Records, followed by "Running" and "Metaphysical," featuring Autograf-designed paintings and mixed-media pieces.
Autograf's future philosophy and artistic talents led them to create their own stage installations, which they hoped would revolutionize the electronic music scene. Following the release of their first three originals, the trio released their debut EP, 'Future Soup,' and continued the momentum with their Hype Machine dominating single "Nobody Knows" via Armada Music and remix of "Rockabye" by Clean Bandit and Sean Paul. Without slowing down, the trio then made their Big Beat Records debut with their jam "You Might Be" featuring Lils. Following stellar performances at Coachella, the group released their single "Simple" featuring Victoria Zaro with Spinnin Records.
Autograf continue to grow in various aspects of art culture, having recently opened a Future Factory art gallery in Bangkok, featuring Joan Cornella as the opening exhibition. This side to the project will come as no surprise to fans of the band, who designed and built their own lighting rig for their last US tour. The guys just revealed their own streetwear line as well. A By Autograf combines their passion for a perfect intersection between art, fashion and music.
A week into recording their fifth album Heart-Shaped Mountain, Ha Ha Tonka was forced to start over. A massive hardware crash at the studio deleted everything. Following a wave of shock, the band regrouped and refocused, trying different approaches to song structures that they otherwise wouldn't have, and made a resilient album of positivity and triumphant effervescence. After all, music has the power to overcome.
At its core, Heart-Shaped Mountain is an album about love and growth. At a time when divisiveness fills the headlines, Ha Ha Tonka is fighting the good fight and building narrative tributes to friends and loved ones, memories past, and prospects of the future. They five-part harmonize on intimate familiarities - the nascent stages of relationships, deep and lasting bonds, maturation, fear and loss. This is a call to pause and glance back, inhale inspiration, and forge ahead with renewed purpose.
On Heart-Shaped Mountain the quintet expands their creative palette. Once aptly summed as "indie-Americana, where Alabama meets Arcade Fire," Ha Ha Tonka unveils balanced, sublime, pop radio-accessible heights and an emotionally broader, post-punk songwriting range, a la early Delta Spirit or a less enigmatic Jónsi. This isn't a betrayal of their discography, though. Rather, Ha Ha Tonka treks to new vistas, crosses uncharted ridges, and unfurls their flag with the confidence and excitement that comes from exploration. Few craft ear-worming melodies like singer/guitarist Brian Roberts and guitarist/singer Brett Anderson. "The Party" is anchored with a bright, whistled hook and a lingering sequence of notes, reflecting the song's lament ("Why do we always seem to be the last ones here at the party").
The band's versatile recent additions of Hoots & Hellmouth drummer Mike Reilly and The Spring Standards multi-instrumentalist/singer James Cleare catalyzed the group to stretch simple themes into sonic dimensions with dynamic results. In "Everything," the intro and choruses are conspicuously optimistic, with a chest-expanding joy tailor-made for the opening credits of any Pixar movie ever made. The verses - replete with galloping snare and foggy keyboards - mingle landscapes from Tom Petty's earnest heartlands and Jeff Lynne's complex stratospheres.
Experiences and textures blend together and stack up like the pages of a book. If you take the analogy further, this is their autobiographical magnum opus. Ha Ha Tonka formed in 2004, when four friends from the Ozarks of Missouri started playing music together. They recorded four critically acclaimed albums, played Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, and appeared on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.
Through it all, the individuals made friends, found love, some members got married, some had kids. Especially now, there's a maturity in being able to assess life's scenery and look toward the future. And there's something altogether more powerful in making others want to feel the same exact way. After all, Heart-Shaped Mountain has the power to overcome.
In making his fourth album Wash It in the Water, Zach Deputy dreamed up a sunny and soulful new sound that fuses hip-hop, funk, and folky pop with the spirited rhythms of soca and calypso. With that sound embodied by the album's brightly melodic and richly textured title track, Wash It in the Water finds the Georgia-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist mining his Puerto Rican and Cruzan heritage for inspiration.