Get Refreshed: ericdoa’s Guide To The Music Industry, Inside “Insignia’s Manor,” and Resonating With DV-i

“Get Refreshed” is a weekly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world. Refresh yourself here

Cover by Nick D’Apolito

DV-i: “Resonance”

With drum and bass still on its gradual journey of increased relevance throughout 2021, the genre has been recently jam-packed with artists both new and old to the approach coming through with some exceptional offerings at a blistering pace. But even though it can be difficult to peer through the mass amount of new content coming out of this style each and every day, it is quite easy to still see the work of a tried and true purveyor of the genre like DV-i shining as bright as it always, always does. 

And if for some reason you’ve had trouble identifying such a bright and magnificent star like she is based on her latest output this year, her latest single “Resonance” is practically unable to be ignored once listened to for the first time. I’ll just put it straight; this is without question the best single offering out of the d&b-sphere to release this year, and it even rivals some of DV-i’s most exceptional work beyond just the past few months as well. It’s really that outstanding, and the reason for this comes down to how multi-faceted and finely-tuned this song is. 

From its spacious intro and outro, right down to its awe-inspiring middle portions – which feature synth leads/backgrounds not too dissimilar to Sonic CD’s “Tidal Tempest Zone” soundfont – this is an exhilarating experience that balances present intensity in the moment with reminiscent cues to sounds of a past era in music history. Occurring simultaneously in this process, DV-i completely transcends the genre of drum and bass in numerous regards — perhaps best exemplified by the various house-piano injections heard throughout the track. 

A Brief Entrance Into Insignia’s Manor

Kurtains thinks about music in ways us outside people can’t. But there’s still just something so familiar about their work nonetheless; their music is and forever will be perceived as being so irreplaceable, and yet it holds an overall structural sense of simplicity and identifiable cues. With their long-anticipated EP “insignia’s manor” finally being gifted to us all, these of-their-own facets were placed on the highest mantle imaginable — all inside a conceptual 6-track package. 

These specified elements make themselves clear based on how remarkably kurtains is able to balance their folky, heartwarming ballads like the opening “paradise” and “gawain” with the familiar muted pop stylistics that make up the rest of the project. This dynamic – as well as the effectively loose story that strings everything together lyrically – defines the unbelievable artistic weight that both this project holds by itself, and Kurtains’ own sense of artistry in their own right. 

It’s an EP unlike anything heard out of the scene they had come to mold from the very beginning — and that’s because it’s meant to transcend this limitless act towards the limitless heights they can reach. Even the inclusion of scene standout heavn on the project’s closer can’t pull this project back to the barriers many may have expected it to settle within. Again, that’s because kurtains exists in their own creative dimension — one that just saw its first preeminent classic come to light in the form of this genuinely one-of-a-kind experience.

reserv: “bloomstory”

An artist like reserv most prominently thrives off of one central concept: subtle ambition. With music that is just as grandiose as it is, well, reserved… this magnificent electronic-based alternative act has had their career defined by interlacing this dynamic production approach with organic, gripping, and all-too-biting songwriting and storytelling alike. Last year’s “MY OWN PATH COLLIDES” skyrocketed these descriptions to their highest level yet, and they were then cemented in stone by early 2021’s THE SKYLINES CONSUME YOU — both projects displaying that aforementioned sense of ambition, but with a humble and ever-natural demeanor about it all. 

It’s funny that I began talking about reserv here with by saying “an artist like…” because I know damn well there’s not a single soul who could match up to nor even imitate such a one-of-a-kind act. That idea of “subtle ambition” practically applies to reserv and reserv only, and all you have to do is listen to any given release within their discography to come to this realization. 

You could truly start anywhere within said catalog and reach the same end goal, and to best serve those who want immediate closure, their most recent project “BLOOMSTORY” follows suit in all regards. This 4-track conceptual EP is the usually cold and biting reserv’s summertime exhibition — fit with glistening midi soundscapes and bright sonic progressions during it’s most lively portions. But even though this is as jovial-sounding as reserv has gotten thus far in their career, they make sure to craft these summer motifs with the coldest tools possible, given that the concept behind everything here follows a roboticized character who struggles with the ins-and-outs of friendship and other shortcomings. 

Again, it’s a project that aligns so ideally with what makes reserv such an exceptional and irreplicable figure of modern music. When you have the ability to say so much in the smallest of spaces, while also doing the complete opposite just as effectively, how could anyone not agree with all that’s already been said about them?

Alice Gas: “idontcareanymore”

Alice Gas takes the concept of “attention to detail” to its most vivid extremes. Even the earliest work from this Texas-based super-producer and rising pop icon reveals this notion quite clearly; though as time has progressed, so too has Alice’s overall creative acumen in the process. Put bluntly, Alice has gone from great, to outstanding, to untouchable — and she’s still just getting started. 

If her early output displayed a heightened sense of musical detail, then the heights that her latest single “idontcareanymore” reaches in this sense are essentially unquantifiable. The ever-consistent purveyor of all things EDM and pop alike holds those ties as strong as ever with this release, but adding rising guitarist Sawce into the mix creates an entirely new dynamic for the 909worldwide and Silly Team member. 

It’s a dynamic that bridges the once-lengthy gap between electronic-based pop and the genre’s clean-cut, modernized status in perhaps the most effective manner heard thus far. The instrumental goes through numerous different sections all with their own respective takes on this aforementioned dynamic — all the while seeing Alice’s masterful knack for modern pop songwriting surge overtop of it. 

Each and every second of this single stands out as significant, and I truly mean that in the most literal sense. Alice Gas did not need to prove to us that she’s this creatively attentive, but I think we’re all happy she did so with this remarkable release. 

loveboy + sg lily: “touched”

One aspect of Boysnightsout’s group-wide development that I’ve been consistently fascinated by is their ever-gradual expansion into new sounds and styles. The Sweden-based collective has never quite stuck to one particular sound, of course; that’s displayed quite vividly by their now-lengthy discography. But in being such a longtime admirer of each act’s overall output, I’ve seen them grow out of the electronic-infused hip-hop approach most prominently popularized by groups like Drain Gang and the like, and into far more detailed and expansive sonic avenues. 

Two of the group’s finest members – loveboy and sg lily – just dropped a clear-cut example of this notion in full effect via their brand new single together entitled “touched.” While it still stays true to its modern hip-hop cues and overall structure, it carries with it a cast of r&b-based sonic embellishments — extending from the soothing and expressly-heartfelt vocals of both respective acts, as well as its swaying rhythm and looping riffs that move in, out, and around each other via the opal-produced instrumental. 

These two are at their highest level of progress thus far in their careers, and tracks like this serve as undeniable evidence to such a claim. And maybe the most exciting thing about this duo is that – if the past repeats itself as it should – this “highest level” will be superseded in such a quick fashion. 

The Making of “Fantasize” and How To Stop Fantasizing About The Music Industry

Words by ericdoa

“Fantasize” was a song we were working on since about January, and I actually remember the day we made it being my manager Nick’s birthday. So I was a little tipsy that day… and once I got the beat from Rickie (fortuneswan) on Discord, my mind was blown. The hook literally just came to me in that moment, like I really felt like all the words just came to me in one second. It was the craziest thing I think I’ve ever done with a song. I’ve never written a song faster in my life. Everything else for the song came together when I first went to L.A. — we got it all polished up and sounding beautiful, and I’m just so thankful for all the love and support that the song’s been getting after all of that came together.

Since getting to L.A., I’ve seen a lot of people asking me about how the music industry operates, because there’s so many labels that are interested in the scene and community around us (digicore, hyperpop). Basically, I just want to help out by creating this Google Classroom site for all the people asking me for advice. I never want to see anyone left in the dark. I never want to see anyone be lost in regards to the music industry. I had to learn all this shit by myself, and I really don’t want anyone else to have to go through that bullshit of learning everything. I’m here now, but for all my friends who have been with me in this community, I want them to succeed just as much as I have. 

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