It's been quite a year already.
Over the past few months, we've been catching up with many of your favorite artists—some of whom happen to be the most relevant music acts on the planet right now.
Perhaps you've missed some of them? From the biggest breakout acts (Sam Smith, SZA, SOHN) to some of the best comebacks (Chromeo, Phantogram), we've talked to many of those whose music will continue to soundtrack the months ahead.
Check out some of our favorites below.
“I’m grateful for the work I’ve done before with other artists, but ultimately, every artist is on their own journey. And this is mine ... I wanted to put myself out there and—to be honest, the album is a body of work. And I’m not sure how I feel about collaborations on bodies of work."
ALEX DA KID
“If someone has entrusted me with their career, it’s a massive responsibility. I just don’t take that lightly. I know in my own career, I take it very seriously who I work with and what I put in their hands. I do everything humanly possible to help the people I’m working with, I just don’t know how to do it any other way.”
“If we make Billboard, it’ll be a great day. But we know where we came from. When Fancy Footwork was coming out around 2006-2007, we were championed by blogs. They gave us a shot when the other guys said it wouldn’t work. And we’re forever grateful for that culture. We’ll forever be a blog band.”
FOSTER THE PEOPLE
"‘Pumped Up Kicks’ never should have been a hit, never. It never should have been top 40, or even top five. Same with Lorde. The fact that it did happen is a huge success for music. The fact that there are these alternative songs sandwiched between Rihanna and Beyoncé. I see it only as a good thing. I may never write another song like that again, but we were never supposed to. So I don’t have to defeat these expectations, we already did that.”
“I think for a long time it was easier to box me into a group of other women, or just a sound in general because it was like, 'Oh, this is what they're doing' or 'This is what's new, blah, blah, blah.’ There's something different about this project and there's something I think will separate me from the pack a little bit.”
"Katy Perry and Robyn make pop that’s generational. They’re making the pop music of our generation that’s going to stick around. People are going to look back and be like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Robyn’s Body Talk album. That’s one of the best pop albums of the last 10 years.’ ... I’m obsessed with both of them.”
“Soundcloud deserves more credit than they get. It’s a great place to find music. Especially for people who do remixes, it’s a great way to get your stuff out there. They give new artists and artists like us resources that wouldn’t be available to us otherwise. Album sales just aren’t what they used to be, but I’m more concerned about people being able to listen to our music and for our music to get out there and be heard."
"Living in New York, you get so obsessed with the blog world because that is how a lot of new music is being discovered. But to the rest of the country, radio is still a big, big thing. Even in L.A. when we're driving around, the radio is always on and that's where I hear a lot of stuff for the first time. I think it's still very much a powerful tool ... It's great to see that radio can still have a hand in breaking bands."
"[Big Boi has been] kind of a mentor to us in a way. He’s always rooting for us. Whenever we stop in when we’re on tour and stuff, we play him our stuff and he gets really excited about it ... We’re going to release an EP with him where it’ll be a collaboration of stuff. Because we’ve got more than just one song idea. It just gives us another really fun excuse to work with him for longer.”
"To be able to have the Chris Brown records, that’s a big deal. I think everyone kind of just respects the good music at the end of the day and aren’t really putting it towards anything, we just have the songs. I know it’s easy with Chris’ situation to get really wrapped up in all the bad things we hear. And he’s had his struggles of course. But I think music always just overtakes the negative stuff, as long as it’s good music.”
“It’s always been really important to us to release a lot of music … the idea was to make a bunch of songs we really like, but that allowed us to kind of experiment. The thing that we found really gratifying in England was ‘Pompeii’ doing well, but then the album did quite well, which means that people hopefully really like the collection of songs and not just a single.”
JAMES VINCENT McMORROW
"We think that a record that was made in 1950, 1960, was trying to be nostalgic. It was trying to be cutting-edge. Marvin Gaye was the first to use a 808 on a commercial record. Some people were like, ‘What’s going on? This is conceptual, it’s progressive.’ The label struggled to release it because it was too far ahead of the curve. And even James Jamerson; he was pushing the limits and I think that’s good for music."
"I had to force myself to take on the attitude that I’ve had from being a producer working on other people’s music and take that into my own work ... When you’re working on something for BANKS or Kwabs or Erik Hassle, you have to get that shit done. There’s just no excuses. And sometimes you don’t hold yourself to that same timeline when it’s only yours. With the others, you have labels and managers and they’re saying, ‘We have to put that shit out. Give it to us.’"
“There were a lot of people who didn’t believe in me at the beginning of my career,” she recalls over lunch in Austin. “I wasted a lot of time with people—with older men—in the industry who didn’t think I had potential because I was just a girl. Now that I realize how ridiculous that was, I feel like I have a lot to do ... We have to keep pushing forward. And [my next album] is going to be my way of doing that.”
“You'll have a song premiere on a website and it's old news in 24 hours. It doesn't really allow an atmosphere for people to grow with you. That makes me nervous starting out again ... Hype is just sugar, it doesn't mean anything. Yeah, it'll get you attention for a second, but there's no lasting value. Ultimately, you make music that you're proud of and the cream rises to the top.”
TOKYO POLICE CLUB
“It used to be a big deal if a smaller band's song was used by a corporation. You were ‘selling out.’ Isn’t that the point? That’s how you make a living. And we’re in our mid-, late-20s now. We’re trying to make a living, so if a brand wants to pay to use one of our songs, the art lives another day. And so do we. Because let’s face it, kids aren’t buying CDs.”
I still want to be more. I know I’m not perfect, but I’ve poured my heart into this music. That’s the most important thing to me, is just to spread that hope. Someone out there needs to know that they’re valuable and that they can make it. When you have that on your conscience, you just can’t ignore that. You just can’t.