ARTIST OF THE WEEK: BENJAMIN CLEMENTINE
If you crossed Nina Simone with James Baldwin you might get something that sounds like Benjamin Clementine. Born and raised in London by strict Ghanaian parents, Clementine, now 34, left home and found himself sleeping rough on the streets of Paris. He was later discovered busking and signed to Virgin EMI. After moving back to London, he released his debut album At Least for Now, which won the 2015 Mercury Prize. Not a bad start for someone who cannot even read music and the accolades did not stop there. In February 2019, he was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government, in recognition of his contribution to the arts. A number of critics have described him as becoming one of the great singer-songwriters of his generation. Looking at his videos and scanning his social media, one can see that Clementine has managed to create a consistent world. There are elements of “la chanson française” in his music, pulling in waltz rhythms and a strict focus on the quality of his lyrics. Despite his growing fame, he remains something of a cult figure. But perhaps the most striking aspect of his art is his voice: slightly off-kilter, yearning, and instantly recognisable.
#benjaminclementine #ghana #london #paris #busking #poet #artist #musician #recordproducer #emimusic #virginmusic #atleastfornow #itellafly #andihavebeen
AD OF THE WEEK: TAUR “OWN YOUR CITY”
Confession: I chose this spot by TAUR, the Kickstarter scooter, mainly because I loved the music, “Subtle Thing” by Marian Hill. But then I dug deeper into the brand and discovered it is the brainchild of the inventor, Carson Brown. The film depicts a typical LA commuter’s experience – characterized by buzzing traffic, sweaty bike riders, and frustrated commuters – and the stark contrast between a TAUR rider who enjoys an easy, breezy ride home into the suburbs, fresh-faced and sweat-free. All this while bringing home a tub of unmelted ice cream from the convenience store, demonstrating a smooth and fast ride. Created in-house by TAUR and shot by director Alfredo Vidal for UK production outfit Untold Fable, London. Nice work.
#taurscooters @ride.taur website: http://www.taur.com
ORCHESTRA OF TOOTHBRUSHES PERFORM DAFT PUNK’S ‘HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER’
Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ has been reimagined by a band of electric toothbrushes.
Named Device Orchestra, the YouTube channel has the googly-eyed toothbrushes cover the track via the sound of the electronic vibrations they make.
The channel has also used devices such as mobile phones, typewriters and even credit card machines.
UNIVERSAL BUYS 49 PERCENT STAKE IN INDEPENDENT MUSIC GIANT [PIAS]
Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s largest music rights company, has bought a 49 percent stake in independent music giant [PIAS] Group, AKA Play It Again Sam.
Announced last week, the deal is part of a partnership between the two companies, first revealed in 2021. UMG’s minority stake will mean [PIAS]—which runs its own labels as well as distribution and other services for 100-plus outlets—remains independent and under the control of its Belgian founders, Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot.
“These days we’re competing with finance and tech giants and a partner like Universal Music Group provides the additional support for us to compete and grow,” said Gates. “Universal made it clear that they like us, they trust us and they need us, because they can’t do what we do and they value it highly.”
As Music Business Worldwide reports, the deal was made possible after UMG’s ten-year ban on buying certain assets and signing certain artists in Europe and the UK ended in September. Read more about the case in another piece by MBW.
AKAI LAUNCHES NEW 37-KEY MIDI CONTROLLER, THE MPK MINI PLUS
Akai has announced the latest edition to its MPK line of keyboard controllers, the MPK Mini Plus.
This new iteration of the brand’s best-selling MIDI controller spans an octave more than its predecessor with 37 Gen 2 keys instead of 25. Unlike the older model, it comes fitted with a built-in step sequencer that offers two polyphonic tracks, with eight voices of polyphony for keyboard tracks and 16 notes per drum step. There’s also a built-in arpeggiator.
Other additions to the MPK Mini Plus include real pitch and modulation wheels, eight backlit MPC drum pads, and eight rotary knobs. There are also full five-pin MIDI ports (in addition to the USB and sustain pedal connectors also found on the regular MPK Mini) as well as CV/Gate connectors for linking to analogue or modular synths.
Watch a demo video below and find out more on the Akai site. The MPK Mini Plus is priced at €199/£173.
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional research and reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf