additional work includes biographies for mika, benee, ant saunders, jp saxe, yungbae, upsahl, greyson chance, kenny hoopla, dennis lloyd, sara barrios, julian lamadrid, sophia messa, mondo cozmo, tayo sound, among others.
TAI VERDES, 2020
Six months ago singer-songwriter Tai Verdes was an essential worker with a nine to five job at a Los Angeles Verizon store. Now he’s got one of the biggest songs in the US, is managed by Mike Posner’s team, and has been hailed by the likes of Rolling Stone and Lyrical Lemonade. After posting a series of TikTok videos, Tai’s breakout single “Stuck In The Middle” took flight hitting #1 on Spotify’s US viral chart amassing over 16 million streams and over a million TikTok video creations.
The 24-year-old may have won the TikTok lottery, but he’s playing the long game. And he’s playing for keeps. “I’m gonna be a problem,” says the 6’7 singer with a smile, who carries himself with as much charisma as stature. “I love everything that’s happening. But this is not a one song thing, this is a 10 album thing. I’m half way through the second album as far as the songwriting goes.”
The release of his highly anticipated sophomore single “Drugs” can attest. An honest reflection of his experimentation with weed and psychedelics, Tai details the stigmas involved, realities exposed, and an expansion of his own emotional maturity. Acoustic guitar and 808s create the perfect soundscape for Tai’s storytelling. “I’m vulnerable, off the sleeve,” he says. “Relatability is important to me. I write songs that tell stories.” Tai’s magic is his ability to convey a classic narrative in a fun, fresh way. “Stuck In The Middle” didn’t just randomly go viral. It resonated. With ease, Tai musically illustrates the struggle of navigating a relationship that’s somewhere between a lover and a friend. “‘Stuck In The Middle’ is verbatim what was happening in my life,” says Tai. “Drugs,” although the perfect sonic follow-up does leave a lingering question: did the relationship work out? “The answer’s gonna be on the EP,” says Tai with a smirk.
Having moved to Los Angeles after plans of playing in the NBA were sidelined due to injury, Tai pursued various creative endeavors. “I'm a struggle bus guy,” says Tai. “I will drive it until the wheels fall off.” Having played piano from a young age, once Tai dug deeper into songwriting something clicked. “I never really fell in love with the process of anything except making music.”
Now passionately entrenched, Tai has dedicated himself to his artist project collaborating with A list producers to create a genre agnostic sound taking notes from influences ranging from Harry Styles, 50 Cent, Dominic Fike, to “Weird Al” Yankovic.
“Imagine if a songwriter was blacker and more fun,” he says. “I want to show people in my position if you are of any race you can do any type of music.”
At the end of the day, Tai Verdes is here to write greaT songs and not get too worked up about the rest. “I don't think anything matters,” says Tai Verdes. “Why not just be a pop star?”
For R&B powerhouse AUDREY NUNA, pushing boundaries is the name of the game. Setting the precedent as one of the first female Korean-American R&B acts breaking into mainstream culture - AUDREY NUNA leads with a commitment to creativity, holding fast to her prized possession - imagination.
“We are living in a generation in music where creativity is popular,” says AUDREY NUNA. “As a reaction to the saturation of fakeness, creativity is now coveted; and consumers love creativity now more than ever. I feel very blessed to be born in this era. Now feels like such a perfect, ripe time.”
Hot on the scene with her single “Souffle,” a quirky genre-bending trap influenced track sporting razor sharp lyricism and a self-directed visual with fierce aesthetic, the 20-year-old is creating a fresh and edgy lane adding new value to the current state of music.
A first generation Korean-American, AUDREY NUNA grew up in New Jersey and started singing before she could talk. She landed her first gig at age 10 singing “America The Beautiful” during the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, and after posting a series of cover videos in high school, was approached by manager/producer Anwar Sawyer.
She was then accepted to the Clive Davis Institute and enrolled in NYU where she would take the 10 pm train uptown to Anwar’s studio, write all night, take the 4 am bus back, grab a few hours of sleep and go to class. Burning the candle at both ends, AUDREY NUNA decided to take a gap year to focus on the music. The risk quickly proved fruitful. After self-releasing a series of singles, she inked a deal with Sony Arista, the label originally started by Clive Davis himself in 1974.
Making her major label debut with “Time” out August 9, AUDREY NUNA showcases her artistic range with a soulful vocal performance and an unexpected lyrical approach. Conceptually, she explains “Time” is “a foster home for imaginary kids or people: a holding place for souls that went through life procrastinating and holding out on their dreams.” She spins the fictional tale writing through a series of characters to express the narrative overtop a groovy R&B bass line while her silky vocal paints the story well beyond the first dimension.
“It’s about feeling paralyzed, like time is frozen,” she says. “In the writing process I make space to create worlds that don’t exist yet, and I take liberties with that.”
With the song’s accompanying visual directed by Grammy-nominated filmmaker Emma Westendberg (“PYNK” by Janelle Monae), the project portrays AUDREY NUNA’s dedication to operating at the highest level.
“I want to see female artists lead creatively and be respected for their creativity before anything else. And working with Emma was such a privilege. Just to see her do her thing was really inspiring.”
A welcomed ambassador for her culture and gender, AUDREY NUNA hangs her hat on the value of her work first while embracing the responsibility of representing Korean-Americans and women in mainstream culture.
“I want to bring an Asian-American face into mainstream culture while keeping things centered on the work and providing excellence consistently,” says Audrey.
“My identity as a Korean-American is an important part of who I am, and it’s going to leak into whatever I make regardless so it’s not something I need to consistently remind people. Normalizing that energy and that culture is really what’s important to me. For the first time, push a face like mine into the mainstream, but do that while never compromising my creativity. Always remembering to push boundaries creatively - that comes first for me - and it’s the right time for it.”
“I’m a professional over-thinker,” says nineteen-year-old Conan Gray. “As a songwriter, I’m always thinking all the time.”
Growing up in the small town retirement community of Georgetown, Texas, Conan Gray had lot of time on his hands to think. So at age twelve he began writing songs to kill some time. “I think every small town kid is just really bored,” says Conan. “And I was just a lonely, bored kid.” Influenced by artists like The Dixie Chicks, Adele, and Lorde, Conan began cultivating what would later become his unique style of dreamy alternative pop. Bedroom pop tinged with raw, high school nostalgia - songs about kids grappling with regular life.
“Hearing the Lorde album was a cataclysmic experience for me,” says Conan. “It was the first time I’d heard pop music that was about normal suburban life.” As Conan navigated middle school and high school with little money and a rocky home life, he poured his energy into his songwriting and cultivated both a local and online community along the way. His senior year things got especially hard when he was kicked out of his parent’s house. During this time, he began living with some of these friends and wrote a song called “Idle Town.”
Recorded on a cheap mic taped to a lamp in his bedroom and produced on Garageband with a homemade music video shot on a tripod driving through the streets of the local retirement community, “Idle Town” began to gain traction on Youtube racking up over 10 million views followed by 13 million streams on Spotify. He was then approached by management with whom he later signed, followed by a move to LA, and a label deal with Republic Records. ‘“Idle Town” is a love song for my hometown and for my friends,” says Conan. “And turned out to be my ticket out.” In the midst of the whirlwind, Conan linked up with producer Dan Nigro (Carly Rae Jepsen, Sky Ferreira, Kylie Minogue) to add some final touches to the songs he had self-written and recorded back in Texas. He now prepares to release his debut EP, starting with lead single “Generation Why.”
The perfect introduction to Conan Gray and his raw, genuine approach to songwriting - the song is a commentary on the way older generations and media have unfairly depicted his peers as being chronically selfish, sad, and lazy. With a sarcastic tone, a common theme throughout the EP, Conan juxtaposes the negativity with a light-hearted approach shedding light on the truth found in his generation’s resilience and positivity. Whether he’s singing about the intensity of teenage emotion in upbeat songs like “Crush Culture” or in sad ones like “Lookalike,” Conan is fiercely honest offering a refreshing perspective.
“I want it to feel like a big bedroom dance party,” says Conan. “Like a high school prom - familiar, nostalgic.” His secret genius is his undeniable knack for writing relatable music. Yes, for his generation, but well beyond. Even if it’s been 30 years since high school, his lyrics ring timelessly true for anyone who listens. Everything Conan does - on social media, in conversation, or through songwriting carries this exact air of sentimental value. Even a song like “Greek God,” written about the popular mean kids glistens in its ability to comment on a more serious topic like bullying while remaining positive in its undertone.
“There are people who seem larger than life, who are so mean because they can get away with it. They hurt people because they are hurting” says Conan. “But once you’re older and wiser, they fade into nothing and just become stories from high school, just folklore.”
Conan’s journey hasn’t been an easy one, but through it all he remains a force for optimism for his “Generation Why” - a generation that isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, to stick up for one another, and to build relationships outside the norm. His followers, fans, online friends, hometown friends - he speaks of them all as family. And if there’s one thing Conan hopes to achieve for that family is to give kids who are struggling or hurting the hope that they have people who care, and that things are going to be ok.
“I didn’t have a home or money, but I knew that I was going to be ok,” says Conan. “I want people to know that kids from small towns can do great things.”