My favorite quality about music is the beautiful variety of sounds and styles that musicians create. While it often seems as if we only hear of a few musicians on the radio and in the media, there are many artists all over who are creating art and building a connection to their audience and fans. Recently, I have felt a connection to music made by alternative pop artist Vlad Holiday.
After discovering Vlad Holiday on Contagion’s music blog last year in a feature written by Riley Tiernan, I quickly became a fan of his distinct voice and nostalgic sound. I heard Holiday’s single “Like in the Movies” and felt an immediate connection to the feelings of late nights, chill vibes, and love stories. It immediately felt as if I had heard the song long ago, countless times.
Vlad Holiday’s style is effortless and smooth; it is a joyful experience I happily fall into every time I take a listen. If you’re not convinced yet, listen to more of Vlad Holiday’s singles, like “Artificial Paradise” and “Bad Influence.” I promise the quality won’t disappoint.
Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn
This interview has been edited for clarity
At what age did you start creating music? What made you want to start pursuing music as a serious career?
I was around 13/14 when I started messing around with writing songs. I didn’t start writing lyrics until much later, but those early days in my bedroom on a program called Fruity Loops was when I realized that I could do it myself too, rather than just be playing other people’s songs. I knew pretty early that this is what I’d be doing with my life.
What is your dream musical collaboration or project?
They’re all dead. However, it would be cool to collaborate or grab drinks with anyone that’s like minded and as passionate about music as I am.
Do you produce all of your own music? How did you learn how to produce?
I do. Production came out of necessity for me. I didn’t have money to pay people to record my music, so I had to figure out how to do it myself- it was as simple as that. It escalated into something much more, where I needed to be able to express myself sonically as well... paint the full picture. I also produce and write music for friends sometimes. From local NYC bands like Public Access TV, Lissy Trullie, and Donald Cumming, to Australia’s Slum Sociable, to Bastian Baker whose latest album charted No. 2 on the charts in Switzerland as he was playing our songs in arenas every night. Producing music has become a great passion, maybe an obsession.
Watch the Official Music Video for “Artificial Paradise”
Who are your biggest music inspirations?
It’s hard to pinpoint because I love so many types of music for different reasons. Lately I’ve been digging into a lot of Roy Orbison’s early stuff, Lou Reed, Dylan, Cash, Serge Gainsbourg... that kind of darker anti-hero persona.
My current music is inspired by a lot of female fronted groups like Beach House, Mazzy Star, early Lykke Li. People have compared me to Lana del Rey. So many others that have gotten me to where I am today-I feel like everything that’s touched my ears has influenced me and my taste, whether it was jaw dropping or absolute garbage.
How would you describe your solo sound compared to the sound of Born Cages? How has it evolved since going solo?
I would say it’s just a different vibe, more understated. With my old band Born Cages I was all about writing big songs with big production, positive messages tinged with bits of realness and melancholy. My new stuff is just trying to create a different mood. Born Cages was like a big daytime party and my solo stuff is the more intimate late-night afterparty.
Vlad Holiday - Photo by Chaunté Vaughn
Can you give us insight into your song-writing/song-producing process? How long does a single typically take to create from conception to the finished product?
It’s always changing. I don’t love having a process to the point where it fees mechanical. I need the freedom to experiment every step of the way.
How does releasing song single by single influence your process compared to releasing a whole album?
The single by single process has been super convenient for me. The more time I spend doing this, the more I realize that I need to put myself first and release music on my own terms. If I’m not happy or satisfied with my art, why even do it at all. I want it to be in the moment. This has been the most relaxed I’ve felt - if I get super inspired I can pretty much release a song right away and not worry too much about anything else. I feel like that is how music should be made.
Listen to Vlad Holiday’s newest single, “Bad Influence”
What are some of your goals in your music career? What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
My only goal is to keep doing what I do without compromising the integrity just to be able to put food on the table or sleep indoors. Everything else is noise. Fans can expect that I’ll keep doing this until I physically can’t anymore.
How do you feel being on stage versus performing to yourself?
Being on stage is everything. Without the human interaction, the job starts to feel like it’s not real. Like you’re just an insane person mixing words and sounds for no explicable reason. Doing it with people there is the explanation.
Don’t miss Vlad Holiday’s live performances this upcoming week in Austin, TX. On Wednesday, Vlad Holiday will be playing at the SXSW conference and festival. Additional featured artists at SXSW include Japanese Breakfast, Vaarwell, Billie Eilish and Khalid. Purchase your tickets for SXSW now!
It is often said that everyone can be an artist. While I agree that anyone can make art, I believe being an artist is a much more distinct quality. While art is a form of expression, what makes art special is that it can also be perceived, different for every viewer. Constantly looking for artists to feature on our blog, I always search for artists whose voices speak. When discovering Jalopy Bungus, I immediately saw this quality.
Jalopy Bungus - Photo by KBR
What separates Jalopy Bungus from other artists in the Arizona hip hop scenes is his undeniable talent for conveying his emotions toward his audience. Reoccurring themes in Jalopy Bungus’s new album “Samson” include living in the projects, the struggle of being black in America, and even suicide, all touchy subjects.
After hearing the new album “Samson,” which dropped on February 22nd, I was lucky enough to land an interview with Jalopy Bungus himself. I met him for a 90-minute interview and photoshoot at his apartment complex, and captured some magic outside right around the block. During the interview, Bungus gave me some insight into the meaning of his tracks and creative process behind it all. After my experience, I am convinced the world will hear all about Jalopy Bungus.
This interview has been edited for clarity
What makes you unique form other artists in the Arizona music scene?
What separates me from everybody out here is I’m not afraid to talk about the risky stuff. I live on my own accord.
Tell us about your creative process.
Recently, I don’t really write anything unless I have something to say. If it’s not really true to my heart, I can’t put it down. However long I am supposed to wait until that pops up is how long I am going to wait. However, there is a thin line between discipline and inspiration, a very thin line. You don’t want to wait to be inspired.
There is too much of “this” to not be inspired.
Jalopy Bungus - Photo by KBR
How was the experience collaborating with singer Dali?
Dali is pretty much my soulmate. I have known her since 2015 this was the first track with just me and her on it. We have been wanting to collab for so long. She truly is a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
The song “Procrastinating Suicide” was particularly difficult to get done. Dali was in Oregon at the time, and when I sent her the song, she recorded the stems and when she sent them back they were all choppy and messed up. It was super last minute, so it was a mess. The last day of the project being finished, I had to mix about 90 vocals stems the day before I turned the project in to Distrokid so it could be uploaded to all platforms.
Who is “Vocal Cords of a Broken Woman” written about? Is there going to be a Part 2?
I can’t say yet, but it is about someone I know. The story is still being written. Part 1 is just the very beginning of the story.
What is “Cut the Rope” about?
“Cut the Rope” is about having withdrawals from whatever you are addicted to and how it effects you. You know you know better, but somehow you can’t stop. Well, you can, but you don’t because are addicted to it.
I was addicted to nearly committing suicide at one point. I never did it, but I thought about it. I would think about all types of ways to do it.
Have you ever been worried about some of your songs influencing someone negatively? Particularly your track “Procrastinating Suicide”?
I was definitely scared to put “Procrastinating Suicide” on the projects because I could see where someone might kill themselves because of the song. In a way, that is part of the reason why I put it out. I always want to promote individuality. The message of the song is don’t kill yourself because someone doesn’t want you to. Don’t kill yourself because you don’t want to kill yourself.
Japoly Bungus - Photo by KBR
Tell us more about your track “Latarian Milton.”
Latarian Milton is that little boy who stole his mom’s car because he “just wanted to do hood rat shit with his friends.” Imagine being like 7 and being turned into a superstar because of it. You’re doing Tosh.o, you’re on Boondocks. The world rewarded him for for his actions. He went on to carjack an uber when he was 17, and they sent him to prison. They used him until he couldn’t bring ratings anymore.
The song is about being black and all the things that come with it. “Mama told me I’m a king/school told me I’m a slave.” That’s real.
What can we expect from Jalopy Bungus in the near future?
I will definitely have another show for “Samson” this spring. Continue to look out for my content, because plans are in motion to transform “Samson” into a visual project, with each song having its own video.
Listen to “Samson” on Soundcloud, Spotify, and all major platforms.
As the heat starts to rise and the flowers start to bloom, the entire music scene is getting ready for the warm weather and hype music scene arising in Arizona this spring. With April coming up just around the corner, it isn’t too late to make festival plans for next month! With performances by A$AP Ferg, Kaskade, San Holo, Whipped Cream and many more artists, you’ll want to purchase your tickets and mark your calendars for April 5th and 6th.
Buy your tickets now for a festival experience deemed as one of Arizona’s best music festivals. Check out Relentless Beats’ official trailer for 2019.
“It is amazing to be celebrating the 5th anniversary for this marquee event and sets the stage for all the surprises we have in store for 2019,” says Thomas Turner, founder of Relentless Beats. If you already have your tickets, prepare yourself for an epic journey. If you don’t have tickets yet, make plans to purchase them as soon as possible, as ticket prices are rising.
Noted as one of the best festivals in the area, Phoenix Lights is set to be an event with the music and sensations to take you out of this world. With the festival taking place at the Park at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, AZ, you’ll know the venue was made with Relentless Beats’s iconic events in mind.
Phoenix Lights will be the perfect start to the epic festival season in 2019. Here is the lineup, with artists still to be announced.
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