1. Travis picks his top 10 favorite new artists and puts them in a mixtape.
2. Each of those artists create a mixtape of their top 10 tracks.
3. Everybody shares on Dream The End. Yay!
We had such a great time collaborating with Travis Holcombe of KCRW last year that we decided to do it again!
Travis speaks to Dream The End about his selections:
As a DJ at a radio station like KCRW, I receive hundreds of new releases every week to consider for my show. My Sunday nights are usually devoted to listening to submissions and figuring out what to throw into the mix for the coming week.
This is all in addition to the music that I’m hunting and gathering from sources all over the internet and through friends throughout the week.
I’m not necessarily married to any specific genre or sound, I’m just looking for something that stands out and connects with me in some way. It’s a feeling. It can’t be quantified, but you know it when you hear it. It’s the feeling that gives you a jolt of energy makes you mutter (or yell), “Damn, that’s some good shit,” when you hear it. That’s what I’m chasing, and that’s what I’m hoping my listeners get at least a couple times per night when they listen to my show.
My mixtape is packed with artists that have given me that feeling in the past few months.
…the feeling that gives you a jolt of energy makes you mutter (or yell), “Damn, that’s some good shit”
Alessia Cara’s “Here” is one of the latest examples of this feeling. Just a few months ago, she was posting videos onto YouTube from her bedroom closet of her covering the likes of Lorde, Adele, and Amy Winehouse, and now she’s seemingly on the cusp of joining the ranks of her idols. Still only 19, she’s got the presence and voice of an old soul. After seeing her live recently, I’m more convinced than ever that she’s going to be someone everyone will know in a few months.
I knew nothing about Tish Hyman the first time I heard “Subway Art”, but I had to rewind that track back six or seven times to believe my ears. The soul and emotion she’s able to convey with her performance in that track is preternatural. Having grown up in Atlanta, I like the gully shit as much as anybody, but hip hop with a message is sorely lacking at the moment, and Tish Hyman might just be the one we’ve been waiting for to bring it to the masses.
The first time I heard Shamir’s Northtown EP, I was hooked. There’s a depth and wisdom to his lyrics that’s rare to find in an artist who’s still so young. He’s got an idiosyncratic flair that still feels welcoming. His debut album, Ratchet, is one of my favorite releases of the year, so was hard to pick just one song from it, but “Youth” is the track I kept finding myself going back to night after night on my show.
Daniel T. is a local artist I’ve been keeping tabs on since his days as one half of the Cosmic Kids. It’s been really cool to see his development through the past couple years as a songwriter and producer. With his new Tetrachromat EP, Daniel T. has crafted the perfect soundtrack for late nights, early mornings, or sunny days spent by the pool.
Fellow LA-based producer Adrian Younge burst onto my radar with his work on the Black Dynamite soundtrack a few years ago. Many have tried, but few can match his finely tuned ear for the funk. His predilection for dusty drums and minor chords reminded me a lot of the RZA’s early productions for Wu-Tang Clan. If you didn’t know “Chicago Wind” was a new track, you’d probably assume it was a lost classic from the ’70s uncovered by the Numero Group.
Likewise, the throwback appeal is what initially drew me to Miami Horror and their song, “Love Like Mine”. This is one of the slept on party tracks of the year, and I’m sure it’s going to pop up on my playlists for years to come.
“Coconut Song” was my introduction to Alo Wala and led me to discovering the rest of their work on soundcloud. Lead vocalist and band namesake Shivani Ahlowali has such a commanding air to her delivery, it almost demands you listen to her. “Coconut Song” is one of the groups more stripped back tracks, but elsewhere you can see where they’re definitely not scared to bring it hard.
Boxed In’s debut album exists at the nexus of rock, electronic, and pop music. There’s a cool precision and versatility to his work that I really admire. “Mystery” has a timeless universality to it where it sounds like something that could’ve been recorded anytime in the last 40 years.
It was cool to see Boxed In also picked a track by Ghost Culture for his mixtape. The two artists are on a similar wavelength, with Ghost Culture more at the electronic end of the spectrum. His melding of post punk, acid house, techno, and new wave on his eponymous debut album is spellbinding. Both Boxed In and Ghost Culture are forerunners who are pushing the singer-songwriter label into the realm of studio wizardry and electronic music.
Kate Tempest was a revelation for me the first time I heard her album, Everybody Down. With her background as an award winning poet, the album is a tour de force of storytelling in the album format and one of my favorite releases of 2014. Having to pick one song from the album is akin to picking one chapter out of your favorite book, but “Lonely Daze” was the song I probably gave the most spins on my show, so it’ll have to suffice. A year out from her album’s initial release, I feel like the word is still getting out on Kate Tempest, and deservedly so.
“just when you think you’ve heard everything, you realize there’s still a world of music left to discover”
This is the second time I’ve put together a mixtape for Dream The End, and it’s always really cool to get a glimpse into what the artists you look up to are inspired by. Some of the selections feel totally logical, but some of the out of the box choices force you to look at their work in a new light. I wouldn’t have necessarily associated Tish Hyman with Janis Joplin and Tina Turner, or Kate Tempest with Björk, but now that I see it on their mixtapes, the musical connection totally makes sense.
And just when you think you’ve heard everything, you realize there’s still a world of music left to discover with some of these selections you might not have been familiar with. I hope you have as much fun exploring all the tracks as I did, and maybe you’ll be finding some new favorites for your next mixtape!
TRAVIS HOLCOMBE is a DJ at Los Angeles public radio station KCRW and can be heard every weeknight, 10PM-Midnight. He is also creeped out by the sight of lizards.