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The Nike Air Max 90 Appears In An Industrial-Esque Colorway

With every design, there’s a number of comparisons one can make. This happens far more often with Nike releases, though, as the brand often references things far outside the realm of athletics. And this Air Max 90, while simple at a glance, will likely bring to mind different things for different people.

From a more general perspective, the colorway is a likely riff on the industrial. Greys of both light and slightly darker variety are used throughout, adding subtle yet still noticeable contrast to every single piece. Orange hits are then applied across the branding, which could easily be likened to hard hats or similar workwear essentials. But if you’re more acquainted with CSGO, you may be remind a little of the Asiimov skin.

Enjoy a close-up look via the official images below. A release is sure to hit Nike.com and select retailers soon.

In case you forgot, the Air Jordan 11 Cool Grey is returning in December.

Where to Buy

Make sure to follow @kicksfinder for live tweets during the release date.

Nike Air Max 90
Release Date: 2021
Color: N/A

Mens: $120
Style Code: DR0145-001

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Brandi Carlile On Her Love for ‘Ted Lasso’ & Starting her Second Book Ahead of ‘SNL’ Debut

On Saturday (Oct. 23), Brandi Carlile will make her debut on Saturday Night Live, in support of her album In These Silent Days, which bowed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Americana/Folk Albums chart, as well as the Top Rock Albums chart, and Tastemaker Albums chart.

Also on the bill? Ted Lasso star and former SNL cast member Jason Sudeikis, who serves as host for the evening.

“I just feel like he is my people. I couldn’t be more happy to be on there with him,” Carlile tells Billboard, adding that she’s seen every Ted Lasso episode “at least once.” “It’s a spectacular character and a really special show. I think it really happened at the right time when people needed it—they needed to feel good about something. And my wife is British, so she’s been really homesick with all the travel restrictions and everything she got to do to this tour de London, through Ted Lasso.”

When Carlile makes her long-anticipated debut on SNL, it’s likely she will perform one of the tracks from her new 10-song album, which released Oct. 1 via Low Country Sound/Elektra Records was produced by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings. The album marks the followup to her Grammy-winning By The Way, I Forgive You, and continues building on her breakthrough work like 2007’s The Story.

Carlile lives on a farm in Washington and counts her longtime bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth (a.k.a. The Twins) as neighbors. Last year, as the pandemic began raging around the world, Carlile and her team quarantined together and spent months working on the new album.

The resulting project collects a range of emotions, from righteous anger to regret to self-doubt to hope, while Carlile’s endlessly versatile voice gives each emotion weight and validation.

“There were so many people that told me, ‘Don’t make a pandemic album. By the time it comes out it’s going to be over, people aren’t going to want to think about it,’” Carlile says. “But I don’t know if I would’ve been able to transport myself beyond where I was. I had lost big things in that time, but I had really gained big things, too. I knew that was everyone’s story, it was definitely a restructuring a lot of our spiritual thoughts and the way that we understand marginalized people and the way that we interact with our health and with our families — everything just came into question. So I was like, ‘How can you make an album during one of the most uncertain resets in human history, and then not document that?’”

The album also serves as a continuation of sorts to the April release of Carlile’s memoir, Broken Horses. “The book was nearly written by the time the world shut down,” Carlile says. “I remember hitting send on that last chapter, closing the computer and walking straight to the piano — I didn’t even leave the room — and writing [closing track] ‘Throwing Good After Bad.’ And I knew I was writing an album.”

The memoir’s title also shows up on In These Silent Days as one of the album’s most triumphant, righteously rocking songs. “When I finished the book, I realized I had some residual anger,” she explains. “I sort of made jokes—this kind of humble banter, this aw-shucks kind of way at coping with rejection and the stress that that caused me as a young person. And I was like, ‘ I’ve felt for most of my life if I let anybody know I’m angry about this, I’ll be that militant lesbian that doesn’t get listened to.’ And I wanted to sort of kill that cliche and break free from that self-imposed shackle that I had put on myself.

“I wrote the song ‘Broken Horses’ with the intention of kind of screaming it out,” she continues. “I realized that in some ways it was maybe even one of the great purposes of me writing the memoir. I gave [the song] the same name because I really felt like I was breaking free from something.”

Meanwhile, “Sinners, Saints, and Fools” holds up a mirror to hypocrisy, offering a storyline of a man determined to live “by the rules” to keep displaced persons from finding refuge — only to find when he dies and goes to heaven that there is a wall keeping him out.

“I’m sure I can’t see my own flaws as intensely as other people can see them in me,” says Carlile, “but it is maddening to me the way that particularly Christians seem to not be able to see the spiritual importance of the plight of displaced people. That they cannot see or understand how important the plight of immigrants, economic migrants, the asylum seekers, and refugees — it’s foundational to that faith. If they can’t see how strange it is that they wax philosophical about people needing to come into this country legally or ‘by the book,’ when the book that they’ve based their whole lives and belief system on implores them to welcome those people into whatever situation that they’re trying to come into.”

After releasing both the book and album this year, Carlile is already hard at work on another book project. “I’m in the middle of writing one right now, but I can’t say much about it,” she says. “I love writing books. It turns out I like long-form writing, and it’s taken me to a new place in my life that I had shut myself down to after not finishing high school, and it makes me feel capable in a way I didn’t know I was before.”

Over the course of her career, Carlile has earned six Grammy awards for her work as an artist, songwriter and producer, in categories spanning multiple genres. Among those accolades is a best country song Grammy for “Crowded Table,” which Carlile wrote and recorded as part of the musical collective The Highwomen, which includes Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby, and Maren Morris, and has grown to incorporate performances from Yola, Brittney Spencer and others.

When asked about the possibility of another The Highwomen album, Carlile says, “I hope so. There is something that happens when the four of us girls sing together. And when you bring Yola to sing, and Brittney Spencer, there are some special, really powerful women. I hope it continues because we all love each other and keep ourselves pretty damn busy, but that’s one of the albums I’ve been a part of that I listen to all the time in my home.”

Carlile is an artist who can straddle genre lines, earning Grammy wins in multiple categories. At the moment, however, she is content with being one of Americana music’s brightest lights — an artist who fights for equality and inclusivity both outside and within the genre.

“I’ve always really just wanted to be an artist for the misfits,” says Carlile. “Right now that makes me want to call myself Americana. I don’t know that it’ll always be that way, but that’s the way that I feel at the moment. My friends are there, and we’re getting to use that genre as an institution and a platform to keep ourselves from becoming disenfranchised. And so I’m not really even capable of focusing on anything else outside of that.”

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‘My Pen is on Fire’: How Doechii Won By Trading Perfection for Progression

Before Doechii was a rapper, she was so many other things. For brevity, she shares a condensed list that includes everything from dancer and actor to creative director and, at one time, aspiring magician. Above all, though, the 22-year-old rapper born Jaylah Hickmon was a perfectionist who was acutely aware of her purpose as a “creative vessel.” In 2018, this pursuit of perfection landed Hickmon in an unfamiliar creative rut until it dawned on her that to develop her craft, she would need to push past the idea of the perfect song entirely.

To break those self-inflicted chains, Doechii embarked on a journey of creative discovery. “I just told myself I was going to write a song every day. No matter how good or bad it is, I just want to write a song because I had a problem with finishing things.” Doechii’s three-month artistic boot camp bore fruit in the form of Coven Music Session, Vol.1, her 14-minute debut EP that gave her growing Soundcloud audience a captivating—albeit brief—glimpse of what she had brewing in her Tampa, Fla. bedroom.

By November 2020, the buzz that Coven Music spurred gave way to the roaring applause that followed the release of Oh the Places You’ll Go, Doechii’s coming-of-age concept album that married the best of Trina, Tyler the Creator, and Junie B. Jones in kaleidoscopic fashion. The project was led by “Lucky Blucky Fruitcake,” a four-minute lyrical exercise that sees Doechii experiment with different voices, cadences, and even production styles as its high-octane opening act gives way to a jazzy, climactic ending.

Doechii sat down with Billboard to talk about her favorite books, her interest in tech philosophy, her forthcoming studio album, and a whole lot more.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Billboard: Let’s start at your background with performing arts school since that was such a big part of your childhood. Was that something you asked your mom for, or did she see a spark in you that she wanted to foster? 

Doechii: My mom always encouraged everything that I wanted to do involved with the arts. But as I got older, things got a little rough in my household, so my mom couldn’t afford to put me in all the places and training. I found out about Blake High School [but] it was way out of my district. I wasn’t even supposed to go to that high school, but I begged my mom to let me go because I knew if I got in, I could learn everything I wanted to learn for free.

Favorite class while you were there?

I did classic chorus signing, and that was a huge experience. I walked in thinking that it was going to be like, what is the name of that show? Glee?

But it was way more strict, and it’s classical music, so I got the chance to learn how to read music, sing sheet music, work with orchestras, and all that. It exposed me to a whole new genre of music outside of hip hop and pop that I got to appreciate.

Did you always feel like you were destined for a life on the stage in some way?

Honestly, I didn’t think about it that deep. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in entertainment; I just knew I wanted to entertain. So I was acting, I had my own YouTube channel where I would post skits. I took my own pictures, threw shows for other people. I was just using myself creatively as a vessel as much as I could.

With all these different creative pursuits that you tried your hand at, why was music the thing that stuck with you?

I think because music is all those things at the same time. Music and storytelling are kind of like acting, and performing involves dancing. But [stage] production, down to lights, skits, and choreography, music is all of that. So I think I continued to gravitate towards that because I didn’t have to pick one thing. I could do it all.

I read that Lauryn Hill stood out to you as a major influence when you were coming up. How did The Miseducation impact you either as a fan or as an eventual artist?

That was the only “secular music” my mom would allow me to listen to, so I played that album like crazy. That balance of vulnerability, rap, feminism, singing—it all kind of [shaped] my standard of music. It was like she was breaking out of the cages that she felt like she was in. Listening to her all the time as my influence…I feel like it built this [understanding] that I have about resonating and being vulnerable in my music even though it can still bop. It can still rock.

In a past interview, you said that you took some time off while you were in a creative rut to study what resonates with people musically and otherwise. What did you find out during that period?

I was making music for the person who wakes up at 6:00 AM and eats healthy and drinks smoothies and does yoga and has a great job and all this shit, and it wasn’t resonating. I realized that nobody’s like that. People are imperfect. People are hurting. People are going through things in their family; they’re like me.

I was lacking this sense of vulnerability and honesty in my music. I learned what I valued and what meant a lot to me. I learned accuracy and just saying exactly what it is. Like on “Lucky Blucky Fruitcake”:

“This is who I am / from the back to the front / I never had to pay for my schoolhouse lunch / My momma used stamps when she need a little help/ but a n**** made due with the cards that were dealt”

I’m just saying exactly what it was. You feel me?

You’re going to be performing at Knockdown Fest this weekend. What’s it been like putting your stage show together after a year without live music? 

It’s been really exciting, and it doesn’t feel unfamiliar. I was performing in small local clubs and tiny venues with like ten people in the crowd, but I still came with dancers, I still rehearsed, I still had choreography, I still treated it just like I do now. The only difference is there are just more people in the crowd, more people to connect with. I’ve been working my ass off rehearsing and recording and making sure that everything is top-notch and that the audience has a great time.

On the next album, should fans expect to hear you bouncing between a bunch of different styles, or do you think you’re going to lean into a more focused sound like you did on Bra-Less?

Hell no. They should expect all types of sounds. Something that’s important to me right now is embracing my alternativeness and the fact that I genre bend. I don’t think genre is even going to matter in the next five to 10 [years]. So, they should expect all types of sounds: rapping, singing, melodic, not melodic, all types of shit. It’s going to be great.

What else would you say an eager fan should look forward to from a proper, full-length Doechii album? 

I have been preparing for this album for years, the concept of it, everything about it. The songs on Oh the Places You’ll Go are like loosies because I was just like, “I still need to drop something; these are still important songs.” But I have stuff in my catalog that I know I want to save for later.

With this project, because of that, it’s going to sound drastically different. People’s perspective of how skilled I am [will be] completely different from what you [heard] on Oh the Places You’ll Go and Bra-Less.

I’m mean. And I don’t even want to be cocky right now, but I know this album is tight. It’s going to sound like my pen is on fire.

Before we go, I’d love to know what role you want your music to play in the lives of your fans?

A mirror. My job as an artist is to say the things that they might be too afraid to say. So I feel like I have to be brave for them, in a way, and say things that they didn’t really know that they felt, but they do. And that’s something that I owe myself, that bravery and honesty, so it works for me, but it also works for them. So when they listen to me on the bus or when they’re by themselves, they can feel like, “She gets me. Her too, and me too,” and that’s how we connect.

 

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Halsey, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Adele, Travis Barker & More of the Week’s Biggest Winners (Oct. 22)

Good things came in threes this week, with Halsey and Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross starring on the cover of Billboard’s 2022 Grammy Preview issue.

And third time’s the charm for blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, as he got on one knee and asked girlfriend Kourtney Kardashian to be his wife – and she gave the best three-letter response: “Yes!”

Take a look at Billboard’s weekly roundup and the “awards” it’s giving to this week’s headlines.

Sweetest Music News: Travis Barker & Kourtney Kardashian are engaged

Kongratulations are in order for Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian, who got engaged on Sunday evening (Oct. 17)! The blink-182 rockstar presented his wife-to-be with a rock she couldn’t refuse during their rose-filled sunset beach proposal. See their sweet announcement here and more dreamy pictures from their special celebration here. And catch up on the full timeline of their relationship here.

Zaniest Music News: Wu-Tang Clan’s incredibly rare album sold to crypto-community

Wu-Tang Clan’s single-copy album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which was historically sold to pharma-villain Martin Shkrelli in 2015 for $2 million, now belongs to a 74-member crypto-crazed decentralized autonomous organization called PleasrDAO. The new $4 million purchase was made in July, and PleasrDAO will evenly distribute the ownership of the singular physical good by minting the ownership deed as an NFT. Read more about the historic sale here.

Savviest Music News: EDC Las Vegas becomes first music festival to stream in Roblox metaverse

This weekend’s Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas will have the opportunity to reach more than its 150,000 in-person attendees by becoming the first music festival to stream via the gaming platform Roblox. The festival, set to take place in the Insomniac World Party digital space from Saturday, Oct. 22 to Monday, Oct. 25, will feature the same stages as the real-life fest as well as games and live meet-and-greets with the artists. Learn more here.

Most Badass Music News: Halsey, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross star on Billboard’s latest cover 

The power trio behind Halsey’s fourth album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power join forces outside the studio on Billboard’s latest cover for our 2022 Grammy Preview issue. “I had this nightmarish, dark album, and I wanted to share it with the world in a way that was really compelling and visceral. Obviously, the first people I thought to call were Trent and Atticus,” Halsey told Billboard. Read the entire cover story here and see the photos from the cover shoot here.

Most Record-Breaking Music News: Adele’s “Easy On Me” becomes most-streamed song on Spotify in a single day

Adele’s “Easy On Me,” the lead single from her highly anticipated fourth album 30, already smashed records within hours of its release last week. It become Spotify’s most-streamed record within a single day last Friday (Oct. 15), surpassing BTS’ “Butter,” which accumulated more than 20.9 million global streams on May 23. “Easy” also received the most first-day streams of any song on Amazon Music. Learn more here.

Most Impressive Music News: Noah Assad becomes youngest Billboard executive of the year honoree

Noah Assad, who manages Bad Bunny, Karol G and many more, was honored as the 2021 Billboard Latin Power Players executive of the year at a Miami event Monday evening (Oct. 18). At 31, he becomes the youngest executive ever to be honored as one of Billboard’s executives of the year. Read our interview with him here and about the 2021 Latin Power Players event here.

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Bring Me The Horizon’s Mat Nicholls makes surprise appearance on BBC Breakfast

Bring Me The Horizon drummer Mat Nicholls has made a surprise guest appearance on BBC Breakfast.

The sticksman turned up on the show to give some support to weatherman Owain Wyn Evans, who is currently training for a 24-hour drumathon for Children In Need.

In the clip, which you can watch below, Nicholls surprises Wyn Evans, who admits to being a massive BMTH fan, on set.

When asked how he thought Wyn Evans was doing in training, Nicholls replied: “I think he’s doing well, I think advice everyone has give you is good. Take it steady.”

Bring Me The Horizon’s Mat Nicholls (@bmthofficial) surprises @OwainWynEvans ahead of the #BBCBreakfast #Drumathon

Show your support at: https://t.co/gh0W5jM8bz pic.twitter.com/giWU0CENBA

— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 21, 2021

Footage also recently surfaced of Wyn Evans performing BMTH’s ‘Kingslayer’.

You don’t see enough rock/metal played in a three piece suit dahlings Join me for a quick tap-ette on the percussive princess to some @bmthofficial & @BABYMETAL_JAPAN Good morning! xxx #Kingslayer #DrumCover pic.twitter.com/Cdw2CRpHPY

— Owain Wyn Evans (@OwainWynEvans) August 23, 2021

Meanwhile, the Sheffield band recently covered 24kGoldn and Iann Dior‘s huge TikTok hit ‘Mood’ in the Radio 1 Live Lounge.

They have just finished up a huge UK arena tour in support of their new single ‘DiE4u’, the first part of the follow-up to 2020’s acclaimed ‘POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR‘ EP and mini album – with another record in the ‘POST HUMAN’ series to follow in early 2022.

Reviewing their recent show at The O2 in London, NME wrote: “Tonight was the moment they proved they could headline the big rooms and major festivals with the best of them.

“It’s shit like this that makes me think we’re in a simulation,” says Sykes as the crowd roar, hailing the show as a “dream come true” for him as and his mates to go from “nobody kids” to smashing The O2. We are ascending.”

Tom Morello also recently teamed up with the band for a brand new single called ‘Let’s Get The Party Started’.

The track features on Morello’s solo album ‘The Atlas Underground Fire’, which was released earlier this month and serves as the follow-up to 2018’s ‘The Atlas Underground’.

The post Bring Me The Horizon’s Mat Nicholls makes surprise appearance on BBC Breakfast appeared first on NME.

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The adidas Dame 7 EXTPLY Gets In The Halloween Spirit With A Stingy Jack Inspired Colorway

It wouldn’t be Halloween without the right sneakers and Damian Lillard is more than prepared on that front. With adidas at his side, the athlete is dressing up the Dame 7 EXTPLY in a costume very likely inspired by the lore of the Jack O’Lantern.

Specifically, the pair seems to pay homage to Stingy Jack himself, replicating the figure’s signature garb through color. Purple hues are spread about the blacked out upper, forming not only holiday-appropriate motifs but also both the shoe’s own name and the many stripes adjacent. Elsewhere, greens glow underfoot, creating a rather ominous feel that culminates with the insole’s rather menacing portrayal of the pumpkin head itself.

Enjoy a close-up peek at these below and find them available now at adidas.com.

In other news, Nike is also getting into the spirit with the Air Force 1 Siempre Familiar.

Where to Buy

Make sure to follow @kicksfinder for live tweets during the release date.

adidas Dame 7 EXTPLY “Halloween”
Release Date: Oct 22nd, 2021 (Friday)
Color: Core Black/Screaming Green/Screaming Orange

Mens: $200
Style Code: H67750

After MarketAvailable Now

North AmericaOct 22nd, 2021 (Friday)



adidas US

Check Site

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Detailed Look At The COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Foamposite In White

COMME des GARÇONS‘ take on the Nike Air Foamposite — which first appeared by way of the Autumn/Winter ’21 runway — is nearing very close to its official release. And to better build up energy, the label has begun an early round of seeding, which has returned detailed photography of the collaboration’s white colorway.

Unlike its all-black counterpart, this pair is far more visually dynamic, with every fixture allowed to shine with its respective qualities. And due most in part to this, the leather overlays, laces, and lining appear more desaturated than they actually are. The eye much more easily falls to the allure of the Foamposite shell, which has been entirely remolded to resemble the look of a Zen garden. What’s more, the heel’s CdG branding and the carbon fiber underfoot are much more readable compared to the aforementioned.

Enjoy a close-up look via the photos below, which were taken by @arab_lincoln. A release date, though still TBD, is likely to fall sometime this November.

Did you hear? The Air Penny 1 is returning in two OG colorways.

COMME des GARÇONS x Nike Air Foamposite One
Release Date: November 2021

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How My Morning Jacket, After Considering a Breakup, Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Jam

Any fantasies of rock-star glamour are efficiently dispelled the moment Jim James materializes on a computer screen.

Hopping on Zoom from a neutral-looking North Carolina hotel room — gray wallpaper; functional, forgettable furniture — James, an actual rock star, patiently answers questions while oscillating between the room’s desk and a stuffed chair. Mellow and thoughtful, dressed in a black t-shirt with his long hair framing his face, he’s perhaps a bit worn-out-looking, after performing the night prior eight hours north at Queens’ Forest Hills Stadium.

James is in the midst of what must be the most pragmatic tour that his band, My Morning Jacket, has done during its more than 20-year tenure as one of the most righteous live acts on the road. Abiding by a litany of protocols in order to protect the band and crew — and ultimately to keep the 26-date tour in motion — James and his four fellow MMJ members aren’t seeing their friends in any city they play, with reunions and backstage revelry traded for the air conditioner hum of an anonymous Marriott.

“It’s been not the normal kind of fun, frolicking tour experience, you know?” James tells Billboard. “It’s just kind of a keep-it-real-tight COVID bubble, but the shows have been great.”

My Morning Jacket’s return to performing after a four-year hiatus — and 18 months where we’ve all been tucked away at home — has been like sonic manna for the group’s dedicated (bordering on devotional) fanbase. For the beloved Kentucky-bred band, touring during the lingering pandemic is just another variation of the many flavors of solitude that have defined the most recent era of the My Morning Jacket mythology.

But despite this isolation, and also because of it, the group has delivered its ninth studio album, an excellent, eponymous 11-song collection out today (October 22) via ATO Records.

The LP’s creation story started with the group — vocalist/guitarist/lead shaman James, bassist Tom Blankenship, drummer Patrick Hallahan, guitarist Carl Broemel and keyboardist/drummer Bo Koster — wondering if they even wanted to make another album together. In 2019, the band was deep into a hiatus, having last toured together behind their 2015 LP, The Waterfall. The album hit No. 11 on the Billboard 200, becoming their third-highest charting LP after 2008’s Evil Urges (which peaked at No. 9 in 2008) and Circuital, which hit No. 6 in 2011. (The Waterfall II, a collection of outtakes from The Waterfall sessions, was released in 2020.)

But the band — which roared out of Louisville at the turn of the millennium — is the first to say they’re not an act whose success lies in streaming numbers or album sales, with their heady, jammy live shows serving as their primary revenue driver. (According to Billboard Boxscore, 18 shows by MMJ in 2015-16 grossed $2.3 million and sold 52,600 tickets.)

Thus, not knowing if they’d ever make music or tour again put them in both a practical and existential pickle. I think there was a period where we weren’t really sure of how it was going to work out and whether we would still do it or not,” says Blankenship, who considered shifting to creative writing when it wasn’t clear if the band would come back.

Meanwhile, James was physically and spiritually fried. “It’s not like there was like interpersonal drama [in the band] or anything,” he says, “but it takes a lot of energy to conjure up old versions of yourself, and My Morning Jacket’s, been going for so long now. When we perform, I’ve got to find the 20-year-old Jim and the 25-year-old Jim to do these songs. I think that combined with the nonstop touring and how we lived and just being unhealthy kind of burnt me out.”

So for a while, the mighty My Morning Jacket existed in relative silence. That shifted when the group had to decide whether or not to play a pair of shows scheduled at Red Rocks in August 2019. The performances weren’t tied to any release, instead just free-floating gigs on an otherwise vacant calendar. They decided to play them. About 15 minutes into the first night, it was clear My Morning Jacket wasn’t over.

“I mean, I felt it during the show,” says Blankenship. “Afterwards we were just looking at each other, and it was a reaffirmation of the dynamic and how well it works when the five of us are together, and just the love that we have for each other. A couple years can go by, but it’s still there.”

To step into the next phase, the band decided to go into seclusion in the studio, recording at 64 Sound in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, not far from where James lives. “I told the guys not don’t bring a ton of gear,” James says, “and to just bring like, one thing you like, and let’s just have fun and play.”

Unlike their typical recording sessions, this time there was no producer, no engineer, no complicated gear — just five guys who’d been making music together for two decades, playing around with the song ideas James brought to the sessions. “There was no there was no other set of eyes or more importantly ears,” say Broemel. “It was kind of up to us to figure it out.” 

After four weeks total in the studio, My Morning Jacket had a plethora of songs to choose from for their next LP, a list they narrowed down to a tight 11. With song lengths ranging from the three-minute, kaleidoscopic Pet Sounds homage “Love Love Love” to the seven-minute jam “In Color,” the focus was attempting to capture more of the essence of the band’s triumphant live shows in the studio.

“There are moments on the album that sound just like us playing a show, and that’s been really difficult for us to capture at times,” says Broemel. “When we play live, we’re in flow state or whatever, and we’re just going and we don’t care. To bring that mindset into the studio, I think we needed to eliminate anyone else being there. We either need to have no one there, or a crowd.”

The band was ready to release the album by early 2020, and then greater forces took the seclusion they’d been cultivating and multiplied it to a global scale. With the onset of the pandemic, My Morning Jacket postponed the album’s release until they’d be able to tour behind it. And so, just like the rest of us, they went into lockdown… and waited.

“It was a nightmare for me,” James says of the days spent alone in his house during quarantine. “I mean, it was complete isolation. I felt like an astronaut at the end of the Earth.”

About six months into the pandemic, he realized spending 10 hours a day binging Netflix and Instagram were creating an existence he calls “profoundly depressing.” He went back to his native Kentucky and formed a bubble with his family, then eventually returned to L.A., where he formed a small bubble with some friends and took his first trip to see the state’s magnificent giant sequoias. It changed him.

“I was out in these woods and was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to break out of this way of life,’” he says. “So I canceled my Netflix, I canceled my HBO, and I got off social media. I swear, within a few days of doing that, my creativity started to come back. The more I walked, the more I went into nature, the more I just sat and didn’t look at social media and didn’t watch 18 hours of streaming television a day, the happier I got.”

For James, it was a real-time experience of some of the themes explored on My Morning Jacket, with songs like the solemn, lightly psychedelic “The Devil’s In The Details” exploring the vacancy of consumer culture and “going to Sephora to find a different face, with enough paint I’ll disappear without a trace.”

James’ stage ensembles are often accentuated by sequined jackets and hooded capes, but when Zooming in a t-shirt from a hotel room, he exudes the same introspective quality entrenched in the music the band has been making. He naturally shifts the conversation from the importance of self-love (“That’s one of the reasons I started playing music, because I thought maybe if I sing a cool song, then maybe people will love me and then I’ll love myself — but that’s not how it works”) to government (“Politics and religion are just big business, and until we can get past that aspect of deep seated human greed, we won’t be able to get to a place where we have a fair government”) to his own current outlook (“I mean, I’m fine, I’m definitely in a better place than I have been, but I’m searching”). All of these ideas function as themes that make My Morning Jacket’s music both current and durable.

Certainly the loneliness of modern existence is one of the focuses on the new album, as is the healing power of love, with both forces expressed through the music and necessary to the creation of it. Songs about isolation were made in isolation by a band now forced into isolation in order to share them with audiences. But while circumstances will necessitate at least six feet between My Morning Jacket and their fans for the foreseeable future, the power and spirit they exude from the stage is the same as ever — as is the satisfaction they get from playing there.

“I guess for me,’ Blankenship says, “this album is us saying ‘we’re still here’ to ourselves.”

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Jack Harlow Reveals Some People Didn’t Want Him to Collab With Lil Nas X

Jack Harlow has been on an epic run over the past year, a sprint that peaked this week with his first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to a feature on Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby.” In a new interview with British GQ, the Louisville, Kentucky rapper talks about the huge influence another MC, Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), has had on his style, from adding the crucial horn stabs on “Baby” to teaching him that songs are never really done.

“I think he sees himself as Mozart or Beethoven,” Harlow told the magazine about West, who has continued tinkering with his latest album, Donda, even after its release. “I think he’s worried, not about what it looks like now but what it will look like in 100 years. Take what happened with the Taylor Swift situation: at the time it was all pitchforks, but now people treat that as iconic. I am always fascinated to see what he does next. This Donda roll-out, people are going to remember that for years.”

Though Harlow talked about how his early music, including breakthrough 2020 hit “Whats Poppin’,” were about baring his soul — but also about going from “just talking s–t” to exploring his life more deeply — there are still some things about that song he doesn’t like.

“I am always noticing lines I could improve,” he said about taking a page from Ye. “But I think people appreciate truth and I think when you have guys like Kanye and songs like ‘All Falls Down’ and being that vulnerable… It changed so many people’s lives. As opposed to ‘Here’s why I am the s–t,’ it’s ‘Here’s why I am not the s–t.’”

Harlow also got candid about how the music industry has gotten more progressive in recent years, including Lil Nas X helping to push the envelope for inclusivity. “That’s what attracted me to [Lil Nas X] as an artist: he’s at the front and center of it, fearlessly,” he said. “But, you know, there is a long way to go.”

And even though he was psyched to hop on Lil Nas’ “Baby,” Harlow said there were some people on his team that didn’t want him to do it, or watch the song’s NSFW video. “But I just realize there is a fundamental difference with how the world is seen by some people. Some people think certain things are wrong,” he said. “There are some people, at the root level – although they don’t want to hurt any gays; they don’t hate gays – they think it is wrong, whether it’s religion or whatever reason it is. But for me, I have never been this way. Never.”

 

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Bruce Springsteen & Barack Obama Share How They Joined Forces for ‘Renegades: Born In the U.S.A.’ Podcast

Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama lead fairly different lives — Springsteen’s a rock legend and Billboard Hot 100 hitmaker; Obama served as the 44th president of the United States — but the pair has one core thing in common: They’ve both spent their lives pondering what it means to be an American. On Friday (Oct. 22), CBS published a clip from a forthcoming interview of the friends discussing the origins of their podcast-turned-book, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., which sees the pair talking about race issues, the state of the country and the influence their fathers had on their upbringing.

In the clip, which will air this Sunday (Oct. 24) on CBS Sunday Morning, Obama revealed that he and Springsteen often ran into each other at events, and their conversations would frequently stray to topics about their personal origins and what it means to be an American citizen.

“The way this came up, we did have a bunch of long conversations together and I always say when I first met Bruce, he seemed like…surprisingly shy considering he goes out there and sings before tens of thousands of people for hours at a time,” the former president explained. “We just ended up being in settings where we’d these long conversations and I thought, the things we’re talking about — what does it mean to be a man, what does it mean to be a American — these were the things that were popping up over a meal, and I thought, ‘You know what? This might be something that would be useful for folks to hear.’”

“I initially though that he had gotten the wrong number when he called me. And I said, ‘Okay, let me figure this out. I’m a guitar playing high school graduate from Freehold, New Jersey, and you want me to do what?’” Springsteen added.

Obama and Springsteen’s new book, Renegades: Born in the USA, will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 26. See the interview clip below.

 

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Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar Founders On Celebrating 25 Years and Moving Beyond ‘The Sound of White Male Depression’

This story is part of Billboard’s third annual package spotlighting the trends defining the independent music business.

Long before Secretly Group formed in 2013, two of its initial label divisions, Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar, were just getting off the ground in the Midwest in the mid-1990s.

Neither Darius Van Arman, co-founder of Secretly Group and founder of Jagjaguwar nor Chris Swanson, president of A&R and co-founder of Secretly Group, thought they would become label heads: The former was a math major at the University of Virginia before dropping out. Meanwhile, Swanson had become an active participant in his college radio station at Indiana University. As they individually started to lay the groundwork for their labels, they eventually ran into the same issue: distribution.

“That was how Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian became entwined,” says Van Arman. Early on, he had struck up a relationship with Swanson because Secretly Canadian had started a distribution cooperative of five to 10 labels called Secretly Canadian Distribution. “The idea was to get record stores to return calls. That was the Wild West, where stores were very flaky about paying for what they took in, so the cooperative really lifted the tides for all the labels,” says Van Arman, who in 1999 joined Chris and his brother, COO and co-founder of Secretly Group Ben Swanson, in Bloomington, Ind. “I joke with [Chris] I was his best signing ever.”

Looking back, Van Arman counts Jagjaguwar’s relationship with Justin Vernon and the release of Bon Iver’s acclaimed 2008 debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, as an early “game-changer” for the label, while Swanson says one such win for Secretly Canadian was selling thousands of copies of Jason Molina’s Songs: Ohia “way faster than we thought it would,” leading to a repressing that became a crash course in exclusivity: “We hand-numbered [the debut LP original pressings], and it’s like, ‘Are we cheating by pressing it again? What’s the protocol?’ ”

Since then, Swanson says Secretly Group has taken more risks, citing the Secretly Canadian campaign for Antony & The Johnsons’ 2005 album, I Am a Bird Now, as a “watershed moment” that required an “outsize budget.” “There wasn’t anyone doing what [former bandleader ANOHNI] was doing at the time, and it clicked in a way that showed us how much bigger the world was than we had imagined,” says Swanson.

But over time, he “noticed a pattern” with Secretly Group’s releases. “We were really proud of it, but there was a big gap between what we released and what we listened to as fans,” he says. During a 2016 road trip with Jagjaguwar director of A&R Eric Deines, driving through the South at a heated political time in the country, “we were like, ‘Why is it that we pretty much only release white music for mostly white people?’ ” recalls Swanson. “We used to joke, ‘Are we the sound of white male depression?’ And then soon the sound of white female depression as well — and could we be more?”

Today, Van Arman and Swanson stress a key component of Secretly Group that sets it apart from competitors: The label group “partners” with artists rather than “signing” them, and while Swanson says Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian (and Secretly Group overall) have always had a “light touch” when it comes to offering input on an act’s music, “when it comes to the presentation of the album, the marketing of the album, that’s what we love to do.” Which is why, he says, “when I think about our present and our future, [I think of] the work we’ve been doing with Phoebe [Bridgers] and her Saddest Factory Records.”

Looking ahead, Jagjaguwar is doubling down on its digital marketing savvy. Van Arman cites new hires in creative director Robby Morris and digital marketing director Steven Pardo, who reports to newly promoted global director of streaming and digital sales Emily Puterbaugh. “We’re investing more into trying to be more predictive with analytics and looking at signs of ways things can go,” says Van Arman. “Trying to put ourselves in a position where we can see something’s happening in the marketplace and we can do something actionable [rather than] just look at a pie graph and go ‘Ooh, ah.’” At Secretly Canadian, Swanson is set on hiring someone focused on merchandise and soft goods. “The appetite is endless for new services or experts to get in the room,” he says. “It comes down to, ‘What can we afford?’ We don’t want to lose track.”

As both labels now celebrate 25 years — during which Jagjaguwar helped launch Bon Iver, while Secretly Group supported bold artists like ANOHNI, among other feats — Van Arman and Swanson look back on their respective label’s history — and reveal what’s to come.

Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian launched in the mid-90s, why was there an open lane to start an independent label at that time?

Darius Van Arman: One thing happened in the 90s that really [changed] the music industry — this was before peer-to-peer and music sharing and the internet really gutted the value of the music industry — and it was the compact disc. It was fairly cheap to make, much simpler than making vinyl and people were buying it like crazy. It was possible as a label to get the $1-2 per unit it costs together to make 500-1,000 CDs and sell them for $8-12 bucks per unit. There was enough margin…to really spark a lot of small labels to try to do the same. There were still challenges, distribution was a challenge, but if you were able to be one of those lucky labels that figured it out, both in and outside the U.S., then you had these partners who were like, “Please give us as many quality titles as you can.” And it helped really drive growth for your business.

Chris Swanson: I am a little more of a realist with it. I don’t know that there was a need, I think it was more selfish. I wanted to participate on a deeper level in the process, I wanted to engage in music culture more than just as a consumer. It was like, “We could do this, let’s be part of this party.” It wasn’t so altruistic like, “Let’s do it for the artists.” We did come up with a rubric for what our altruism was and what we believed in and everything, that did come, but I think I would be lying if I didn’t say at first it was like, I just desperately wanted to participate.

As your respective labels were getting off the ground, what did you do to better yourself as a label head?

Van Arman: [I was] totally learning on the fly. We had labels we looked up to and had people who helped along the way. In Charlottesville I kept hustling multiple jobs after dropping out of college. I became close to and spent time with David Berman of the Silver Jews and he helped by suggesting I send the second record I released, A Derby Spiritual by the band Drunk to this writer Jennifer Nine of the Melody Maker. And so I sent it in a mailer and then six weeks later or whatever, opened up the NME and there’s a review of the Drunk CD and I’m like, “Wow. People are actually going to review this stuff.” And then about six weeks after that, I’m checking my PO box for the label and there was a check in there for $350 from a distributor who wanted to buy 50 copies of A Derby Spiritual by Drunk. And so it was kind of like, “Okay, I can see now how this works.” And I was naive, I was like, “So if I send out 300 CDs, I’ll get 300 reviews and sell 1500 CDs?” Which is not crazy, but it’s not always that easy.

Swanson: We were very driven and just sopping up any information from all angles that we could, whether that was as music fans and spending all our hours obsessing about records and shows and stuff, or reading everything we could about labels or even more so connecting with other people in the music industry through our radio jobs at first. We would be on the phone, doing office hours as music directors, Eric Weddle and I, and we’d be shooting the s–t with people who either work for or had started labels and it was invigorating. Every conversation was almost like a little mentorship. And so we were just absorbing everything we could, especially being kind of landlocked in Bloomington, it felt like those office hours were so critical to connecting with the outside world, especially with people who were in more active music markets.

How has the role of an independent label changed over the last 25 years?

Van Arman: I remember being on a SXSW panel discussion with a big, very successful artist manager over 10 years ago and he was talking very confidently about, “Hey, artists don’t need labels anymore. I can fund the releases, I can market these releases, I can hire the publicist, I can provide creative consultation to the artist. I can do everything a label does.” And he was absolutely right. And in a sense, I think what he was getting at is we have these traditional notions of what labels are — and the name “label” came from what’s actually put on vinyl, there was a very conventional approach to it. We started entering a time when it really wasn’t the right way to look at our industry as, “Okay, here’s a recording artist and they’re in this box and they only do these things. Here’s a label, they only do these things.” It started to become better to look at it like, “What are the functions necessary for an artist to have a career, to get music heard, to have cultural impact?” So I think when artists were starting to question what labels are and what is the value proposition — and there’s been a many-decades long tradition of very uneven, theoretically unfair contracts that artists had no choice but to sign in order to get access to some of these functions — I felt like there was a healthy independent movement that started to emerge.

Swanson: Especially now in an era where artists can self-distribute, self-release, release something to their fans overnight through Bandcamp or Distrokid, that’s really attractive. Especially because for artists there is a real desire to have close proximity once you’ve finished creating something to have it be expressed publicly. We’ve had to really drill in and figure out what it is that we want to provide to artists and their managers that is going to differentiate us from other labels and from the self-release [format] or working with the distributor option. I think people love to look at the Chance The Rapper model and be like, “Chance did it, I want to do it.” And what you don’t realize is that someone is providing those label services, someone is doing the work.

Van Arman: Now that artists are in a place where they have access to the marketplace more directly I think that’s a very good and healthy thing. That means that the record labels or distributors or marketing companies that actually deliver value, they’ll continue to thrive and survive. Those that aren’t will go away. The marketplace will become more efficient; for every dollar spent on records, there will be, over time, a greater return. And artists have choices, they can call the shots on who they’re partnering with and how things are getting out there and whatever team they put together or whatever pathway to the marketplace seems the most appropriate for them, it’s their decision. I think that’s good, but I don’t think it’s necessarily [true] that artists being more independent means there isn’t still a very important place for labels like Secretly Group or Jagjaguwar.

What are the most tangible ways Secretly Group helps an act grow while staying true to the label and an artist’s independent roots?

Van Arman: The truth is that you can make great art, but you also have to help people get invested in exploring that art. So we have these conversations with our artists about “What kind of storytelling can we do here? What are you comfortable with? How vulnerable can you be, or want to be, in being a character in this story?” But at the end of the day, we want the artists to have complete artistic control. Nothing comes into the world unless it’s fully approved creatively by the artist — and we don’t strong-arm artists into approving one thing or another. We’ll speak honestly and frankly about what we think is best, [but if] the artist disagrees and wants to go another direction and we say, “We commit to your vision, let’s do it.” And I think that has built trust. An example of that was Are We There by Shannon Van Etten and the song “Every Time the Sun Comes Up.” We’re having a conversation [about] the sequence of the record and I shared an opinion that, “Hey, I love the record except this one track just feels too happy,” and the A&R team always makes fun of me because I’m the one who always likes the sad songs. And so I was like, “It doesn’t seem like it should be on the record, is that crazy to say?” And of course Sharon wanted [it] to be on the record and it’s one of her best songs ever, one of the most successful recordings ever.

What continues to set Secretly Group as a whole apart from competitors in the space?

Swanson: I think we try to remain uncynical. Like anyone who’s been obsessively listening to music and sorting it in your brain and in your record bins and your digital record bins or whatever, it’s not hard to become jaded. And we all have jaded moments, but I think the one thing that we’ve tried to maintain is to not become dissuaded by earnestness. I feel like we have competitors out there that become too easily dissuaded by that. It’s really trying to approach things with the same curiosity as adults professionally as we did as kids when you’re just really starting to stir your early obsessive fandom with music. What sparks the inspiration, what gets you excited?

A version of this story originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2021, issue of Billboard.

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2 Live Crew Hit With Lawsuit Over Bid to Reclaim Their Catalog

The members of rap provocateurs 2 Live Crew are facing a courtroom fight from a small record label over efforts to win back control of their catalog, in the latest music industry battle over copyright law’s so-called termination right.

In a complaint filed Thursday, Lil Joe Records Inc. asked a Florida federal court to rule that 2 Live Crew is not allowed to use the termination right — a provision that allows creators to regain ownership of their works decades after they sold them.

2 Live Crew is just the latest musical act to become embroiled in a termination battle. Both Cher and KC and The Sunshine Band have recently kicked off such lawsuits, and major record labels are facing class actions from huge groups of artists who want to recapture their masters.

In Thursday’s lawsuit, Lil Joe said it purchased 2 Live Crew’s catalog when the group’s previous label, Luke Records Inc., went bankrupt in 1995. The deal included both publishing rights and masters, as well as the trademarks to the group’s name.

The current dispute kicked off in November 2020, when members of the band notified Lil Joe that they planned to invoke the termination provision and take back control of their music. The notice was filed by surviving members Luther Campbell and Mark Ross, as well as the heirs of late member Christopher Wong Won.

In basic terms, Lil Joe’s lawsuit is asking a federal judge to rule that 2 Live Crew is ineligible to use the termination provision. Among other arguments, the label claims the group failed to file proper notices, and that aspects of bankruptcy law trump the termination right.

Most notably, Lil Joe plans to argue that 2 Live Crew’s music was created as a so-called work for hire on behalf of their record label – meaning the group never owned any rights to their music in the first place. That’s an argument that could come into play in future termination battles between artists and labels.

2 Live Crew’s termination notice was sent to Lil Joe by attorney Scott Burroughs of the firm Doniger / Burroughs, who did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday morning.

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