ARTIST OF THE WEEK: BETH ORTON
What a voice. To say that it defined a decade, specifically the 90s, is an understatement. Her seminal LPs, Central Reservation and Trailer Park, chilled their way out of every cafe and restaurant sound system from LA to Chang Mai. Aside from her icy cool and slightly pitchy delivery, there was just a hint, ever so slight but still audible, of sexuality. Was that her secret weapon and was she aware of it? Maybe, but even during her collaborations in the mid-90s with William Orbit, Andrew Weatherall, Red Snapper, and the Chemical Brothers, Orton was the coolest voice in a room full of muso-geeks. With this latest album, Weather Alive, her first in 6 years and 8th overall, Orton delivers her trademark “folktronica” sound. She self-produced the album in her London home with help from a few trusted musicians. The result is vintage Orton and during these turbulent and uncertain times, a reassuringly familiar step into the past.
Weather Alive – Beth Orton’s first album in six years – is out on 23rd September on Partisan Records.@bethorton
#bethorton #partisanrecords. #willliamorbit #thechemicalbrothers #britawards #mercuryprize #nmeawards #qawards #andrewweatherall #redsnapper
AD OF THE WEEK: SPOTIFY
Wow! Spotify has released its first brand campaign in France to highlight the importance of listening—be that to others, music, or the world around you and it delivers. Featuring the tagline “Écouter, ça change tout,” which translates as “Listen, it changes everything,” the campaign film celebrates the connections made through sound. The 50-second spot follows a pretty square-looking teacher who surprises those around him, including his wife, by listening to rap music. As he makes his way to work and into his classroom, no one can quite believe that “this guy” is listening to “that kind” music! Lots of witty vignettes drive the story along until the punchline, I won’t spoil it, but it is worth the watch. Created by Paris-based agency Marcel and directed by from Iconoclast. Joli travaille tout le monde!
#spotify #france #iconoclast #marcel
COOLIO, US WEST COAST RAPPER OF GANGSTA’S PARADISE FAME, DIES AGED 59
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The rapper Coolio has died at the age of 59 in Los Angeles, his manager has confirmed.
The artist, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey Jr, passed away at a friend’s house, his longtime manager, Jarez Posey, told the Associated Press.
A cause of death was not confirmed, and a Guardian request to his manager for a comment was not immediately returned.
Coolio is best known for his 1995 single Gangsta’s Paradise, for which he won a Grammy for best solo rap performance. The runaway hit came from the soundtrack of the Michelle Pfeiffer film Dangerous Minds and sampled Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song Pastime Paradise.
JAMES EARL JONES REPORTEDLY SIGNED OVER RIGHTS OF DARTH VADER’S VOICE TO AI COMPANY
James Earl Jones has reportedly stepped back from voicing Darth Vader after over 40 years.
According to a story from Vanity Fair, which focuses on the Ukrainian start-up company Respeecher, the 91-year-old “signed off” on utilizing Respeecher’s AI technology to recreate his voice as Darth Vader. The company used the tech and Jones’ archival recordings to bring Vader to life in the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series, although the actor himself guided the performance and will continue to give advice to Respeecher for its future work with Vader.
In addition to voicing Vader, Respeecher also teamed up with Lucasfilm to recreate the voice of a young Luke Skywalker — originally portrayed by Mark Hamill — in The Book of Boba Fett.
Bogdan Belyaev, a synthetic-speech artist at the company, also opened up about getting work done during the onset of the Russian-Ukrainian war. “If everything went bad, we would never make these conversions delivered to Skywalker Sound,” he said. “So I decided to push this data right on the 24th of February.” Skywalker Sound and Lucasfilm vet Matthew Wood shared that they were more concerned about the Respeecher staff’s well-being, “There are always alternatives that we could pursue that wouldn’t be as good as what they would give us. We never wanted to put them in any kind of additional danger to stay in the office to do something.”
YOUTUBE LAUNCHES CREATOR MUSIC, A LICENSING HUB FOR CONTENT CREATORS
YouTube has launched Creator Music, a new platform designed to help creators look for licensed songs to use in their long-form videos.
Creator Music, which is accessible through the Creator Studio, is described by YouTube as “a new destination that gives creators easy access to an ever-growing catalog of music for use in their videos while providing artists and music rights holders with a new revenue stream for their music on YouTube”.
“The complexities of music licensing have meant that most long-form videos that feature music don’t result in the creator getting paid,” said YouTube. “So, in recognizing an opportunity to build a bridge between the music industry and creators on our platform, we’re redefining how music can be featured in creator videos”.
Many creators currently avoid using music in their long-form video content due to the tangled licensing process. However, the Creator Music licenses promise to be “affordable”, while allowing videos without music to collect their usual revenue share. Creators who don’t want to buy a license up front will still be able to use songs and share future ad revenue with the label or distributor.
The hub is currently running in beta in the US and is set to expand its remit to cover more countries in 2023.
NOTHING UNVEILED NEW EARBUDS
Following the arrival of its ear (1) and Phone (1) earlier this year, Nothing has returned with an entirely new product offering: the Ear (Stick). The new device first appeared on London designer Chet Lo‘s Spring/Summer 2023 runway, where a cylindrical charging case complemented a bevy of colorful ensembles.
There are currently few details on the product, though Nothing has confirmed that the Ear (Stick) will arrive as an entirely new product category with separate charging cases and bud constructions. Reportedly, the pill-shaped charging case is inspired by classic cosmetics packaging, and the buds are billed as “comfortable” and “ergonomic.”
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional research and reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf