KCRW DJ Aaron Byrd joined Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to talk about what he’s listening to — including some future soul, a combination of soul and R&B, and sounds influenced by ’70s disco.
The artists Byrd says he’s most excited about recently are Australian pop duo Audego, who take cues from early ’90s R&B acts like En Vogue and Brandy; Jordan Rakei, a New Zealand native now based out of Brisbane whose sound epitomizes “blue-eyed soul;” Brooklyn DJ/producer Taylor McFerrin, son of singer Bobby McFerrin, who’s expanded his repertoire with new tracks since his is first EP in 2008; New Jersey-based Blood Cultures, whose online presence is limited but Byrd says he can’t get enough; and Russian band Pompeya, whose new song “Power” would be a great edition to any summer barbecue.
“While the song was playing, I just found myself over here in the chair, just nodding my head, and thinking of mai-tais by the beach,” Byrd said of the track. “It’s just a really nice, lush, fun, very polished pop sound, and it’s just perfect to listen to when you’re at a pool party or something.”
Songs Heard In This Segment
Jordan Rakei, “Add The Bassline”
Taylor McFerrin, “The Antidote (feat. Nai Palm)”
Taylor McFerrin, “Broken Vibes’
Blood Cultures, “Indian Summer”
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
Okay, time now for another edition of the HERE AND NOW DJ Sessions.
(SOUNDBITE OF DJ MONTAGE)
HOBSON: This week we are joined by Aaron Byrd, a DJ at KCRW in Santa Monica. Aaron, welcome.
AARON BYRD: Thank you so much for having me.
HOBSON: And let's get right to the music, and we'll start with the Melbourne, Australian electronic duo Audego. Here is the song, "Fight."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIGHT")
HOBSON: Tell us about Audego, Aaron.
BYRD: Well, it's a duo, as you mentioned, based out of Australia. The producer goes by Pasobionic and the singer's name is Carolyn. And they're fairly new on the scene. I mean, they just came out with their one and only full-length last fall, and they're working on another album now.
And really, really in high anticipation, because they obviously would be considered in the genre of what many people would call future soul, but it's very much rooted in '90s R&B and I don't even remember how I stumbled upon them, but I'm really, really happy I did. They're fantastic.
HOBSON: Well, you say future soul, they have a very breathy, kind of ethereal sound.
BYRD: Yeah. You could say such, very breathy, ethereal, spacious. But I would say with Audego it's very much rooted in sort of like the early '90s R&B a la En Vogue, Brandy, sort of in that same vein. I think it's pretty clear that they were highly influence by some of those acts from the early '90s.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
HOBSON: Well, let's get to another artist from down under. This is Jordan Rakei. The song is "Add the Bassline."
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "ADD THE BASSLINE")
JORDAN RAKEI: (Singing) She told me add the bassline. And everything would be fine. She told me add the sounds of the drums, drums to set the mood and foundation. She told me add the bassline. And everything would be fine.
HOBSON: Now you wouldn't necessarily know this from the sound, but Jordan Rakei is Kiwi, right?
BYRD: He's Kiwi, yeah. And can I just say, man, that sounded so damn good in the headphones right now. Yeah, he's Kiwi, so it's - the last name is spelled R-A-K-E-I, but it's actually Mauri, so it's pronounced Rock-ay.
And he's based in Brisbane, and stumbled upon him somehow, I want to say on Sound Cloud quite a time back. But, man, he is incredible. I mean, a real buttery voice, sort of the quintessential idea of blue-eyed soul, very, very talented guy.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ADD THE BASSLINE")
RAKEI: (Singing) There is the vocal. Baby, let it take over, ridiculous flow, meticulous clove.
HOBSON: Okay. Well let's come to the United States and the American producer and beatboxer Taylor McFerrin. Here is "The Antidote" featuring Nai Palm. And we have heard about Nai Palm on the DJ Sessions before, but let's listen to this.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE ANTIDOTE")
HOBSON: Okay, so I have a strange image in my head of, like, Bjork in a rainforest.
BYRD: Yeah, I think that's what Taylor was going for, man, yeah. I like that. Taylor himself is the son of Bobby McFerrin, many people know Bobby as well. And he really bursts onto the scene with a Broken Vibes EP that came out early 2008. The title track from that EP "Broken Vibes, it just went crazy. I meant so many DJs were playing it all around the world.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BROKEN VIBES")
TAYLOR MCFERRIN: (Singing) Would you turn around and look at me?
BYRD: Since then, he's sort of been placed in his box as a broken beat producer, but I think he's really taken upon himself with the full length to make sure that he expands people's ideas of his abilities.
HOBSON: And when you say broken beat, what does that mean?
BYRD: Broken beat is a genre of music that came out of East London around '98, '99. Sort of the godfathers of this genre of music would be acts such as Damu, Bugz in the Attic, Mark de Clive-Lowe.
You know, it's one of those difficult to describe, but it's a very, very distinct and unique sound. And those who are familiar with it will know it right away, and many of which I'm sure would also be quite familiar with Taylor McFerrin's Broken Vibes tune as well.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "BROKEN VIBE")
HOBSON: All right. Well, let's stay in the U.S. here. This is the New Jersey group Blood Cultures. The song is "Indian Summer."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INDIAN SUMMER")
BLOOD CULTURES: (Singing) I'm talking to you in my dreams. I am thinking of you in my sleep. I'll let you go to my dream. Oh I need you now, I'll have to let you go.
HOBSON: Oh, I really like that, Aaron.
BYRD: Yeah. It's nice, right. It was very - you'll be really, really hard pressed to find anything about this artist online. And believe me, I've searched and searched. All I know is that he or they are from New Jersey. They have a grand total of three releases, all of which are singles. And they've only been out since October, but it's just a really nice, good pop sound that has a bit of depth, which I really, really like.
HOBSON: That's been the great thing about the DJ Sessions is we'll play a song and then you'll go and you'll tweet about it and you'll tweet at the artist and it turns out that they only have 200 or 300 followers because very few people know who they are. But some DJ at KCRW has managed to find them.
We've got time for one more here, Aaron. This is the Moscow group Pompeya. The song is "Power."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "POWER")
HOBSON: Aaron, on the website this group says that they're influenced by '70s disco, but you also hear kind of an '80s sound there.
BYRD: No, absolutely. There's a little bit of a tinge of new wave and early to mid '80s groups, and, you know, while the song was playing, I just found myself over here in the chair just nodding my head and thinking of mai tais by the beach. You know, it's just a really nice, lush, fun, very polished pop sound. And it's just perfect to listen to when you're at a pool party or something.
HOBSON: Aaron Byrd, a DJ at KCRW in Santa Monica, Aaron, thanks so much.
BYRD: Thank you.
HOBSON: And you can see a full list of Aaron's picks at hereandnow.org. And while you're there, tell us about your favorite DJ, maybe from a local station wherever you live. That's at hereandnow.org.
HERE AND NOW is a production of NPR and WBUR Boston in association with the BBC World Service. I'm Jeremy Hobson.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
I'm Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.