The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: June

Blog by Stef Loukes under Artist Managers, Creative & Branding, Finance, Law & Music Business, Live, Media, Music Publishing, Music Training & Careers, Record Labels, Recording & Production, Selling & Distributing Your Music

Cariss Auburn - ‘Too Tired To Sleep’
Cariss Auburn's soulful electronica is as distinctive as it is radio friendly - not an easy target to hit. As well as grabbing airplay on BBC Radio London, BBC Music Introducing in the West Midlands, Brum Radio and Capital Xtra, the self-taught singer songwriter/producer has been included in the Glastonbury Emerging Talent longlist, opened for soul legend Alexander O'Neal, and performed at various Sofar Sounds sessions across the UK.

Cariss was recently disappointed to be forced into postponing her UK tour, organised by Punch Records and originally planned for March, but thankfully the pandemic couldn't delay the release of 'Too Tired To Sleep'.

After hearing a demo of the track, producer Iziah Yarde invited Cariss to London to oversee the production, along with the recording of the lead vocal. The track was mixed by Steve Clarke before having the final sheen applied by Abbey Road Studios' mastering engineer, Geoff Pesche.

With all of this expertise on board, it is unsurprising that Too Tired To Sleep feels so radio-ready, especially when there is such superb songwriting behind the production. The verses are 90s R&B nostalgia at its best, and Cariss has written one heck of a melody for the chorus.

As the song's title suggests, the energy in the track was a cathartic outburst for Cariss during a period of insomnia:

"I’d lost the motivation to sleep because it meant starting another day. It’s a bit of a spiral where the pressure of sleeping is what stops your mind from switching off to sleep."

Cariss is working on her second EP as we speak, and we’re looking forward to it as much as her rearranged tour - which Punch Records hope to get in the calendar as soon as they can.

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Trunky Juno - ‘So Cool’
Off the back of a bedroom performance for BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend, Trunky Juno is taking his lo-fi pop noodling up a notch. Previous releases have hinted at Trunky's underlying irreverent silliness but 'So Cool' is his most straightforward pop cocktail to date, whipped up in a fun frenzy of Transatlantic inspiration:

"It is a really silly and nostalgic track, and probably the hookiest single so far. It was probably the most fun I've had writing a song, and it all happened really quickly in just a few hours."

There is a big American influence running through 'So Cool'. Like the lovechild of Darwin Deez and MGMT grew up and liked to blast out Weezer from their Chevvy truck.

"It’s kind of like it’s a song from the late 90s/early 2000s that everyone’s forgotten about, and can’t believe we ever liked in the first place? Kind of like Tom Green, or those Budweiser ads with the frog."

If you're into So Cool (and let's be honest, why wouldn't you be?), you'll be excited to hear that Trunky Juno's EP is arriving imminently. 'Too Many Teeth' is out on 9th June, with plans in place to record and release even more music in the coming months.

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Green Tangerines - ‘Funk Detective’

We love a bit of modern Jazz at The Unsigned Guide, so when a song called 'Funk Detective' landed in the inbox, our collective curiosity was naturally piqued. Heavily influenced by 70s Jazz Fusion and the likes of Brecker Brothers, Mike Stern, Steely Dan, along with the current UK Jazz scene, Green Tangerines are a funky 5-piece making a name for themselves in their adopted Liverpool home. As well as getting the people of Liverpool dancing, they've taken the party to the Jazz scenes of Bristol, London, Manchester and County Down over the past few years.

Their 4-track recorded debut, Tangerines, has been some time in the making, providing ample opportunity for the band to get familiar and settle into the chemistry so crucial to their genre. They've also had full control over the EP's recording and production (with What Studio's Stephen Cole taking on mastering duties), giving them a meaty project to get their teeth into away from the stage.

'Funk Detective' is the perfect opener for the Tangerines EP. Progression and variation play an especially vital role in instrumental music, and Green Tangerines pass both of these tests with flying colours. Tempo changes, stops and twists circle around the song's central elements to keep toes a-tappin' and hips a-swingin' in force.

With a bunch of rearranged gigs on the horizon, Green Tangerines are itching to get back to mingling with like-minded musicians. They're billed to support Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy, Kirk Franklin) at his Liverpool gig with ParrJazz, along with shows in Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds. Until then we can all dance in our bedrooms.

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Travi The Native - ‘Heavy Love’
Travi The Native is the latest home for the music of Belfast born self-confessed musical wanderer, Travis Gilbert. Although informed by his previous aural incarnations, Travis feels that his current project is the most authentic and honest version of himself - a voice that he has been striving for ever since picking up a pen to write his first song. His past projects have taken him across the world, and left plenty of fans eager to see where his music would take him next.

'Heavy Love', Travis' first single as Travi The Native, produced by Danny Ball, catches him in a reflective mood:

"A lot of things seem to get gradually more difficult the later you get into your twenties - friendships, relationships, even hangovers. Heavy Love is a love song to myself about embracing the idea of growing and getting older instead of fearing it. If you put hard work into the right things, they usually last."

The subject is approached intelligently and succinctly without subtracting from the song's hooks and textures. Its production balances elements of hip-hop, electro and pop - the sort of party that you might not expect Travis' soulful, gravelly vocal to get an invite to, but it undoubtedly works.

This change in direction has been brewing for quite a while, with Travis and Danny hitting the studio last year to work on new material. Which means that there is still plenty more to come.

Travis is looking to tour Travi The Native as soon as he can, "I'm really excited to get back on stage and do my best rockstar impersonation". Until that lovely day, we have his next single to look forward to. We're promised something with a bit more attitude with 'Still Hurting', which is out at the end of June.

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Tamzene - ‘Accidentally Told You’

From the sleepy coastal town of Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands, Tamzene crafts heartfelt soul-pop with a contemporary edge. She released 'Soldier' in January, co-written and produced by frequent collaborator Brandon Hill, leading to playlist inclusions galore and a feature in Jim Gellatly's New Music column in The Scottish Sun.

Despite the rest of the year so far not turning out exactly as planned for the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, she has been keeping plenty busy. A whole host of rearranged or cancelled festival appearances and gigs have been replaced by livestreams for the likes of Glasgow's King Tut's, Bush Hall and BBC Scotland's 'TUNE Stays In' - making sure that we haven't missed her too much.

Now, she has released 'accidentally told you', a bare bones demo written and produced during lockdown. The song taps into a vulnerability reinforced by the process of its creation:

"I wrote the song on the piano I grew up with, and it helped me work out some pretty bleak thoughts surrounding love, companionship and the future. I began to question things in my personal life, and this tune is just me expressing those questions."

'Accidentally Told You' would be strikingly beautiful however it was packaged, but to present it with all of its colour, creaks and cracks is a brave move that makes it hit home all the harder. The swell of the violins follow the lead of the vocal to tug at the heartstrings some more, as if it was needed.

With the demo already finding its way onto Spotify's New Music Friday and Fresh Finds playlists, along with a spin on Abbie McCarthy's BBC Music Introducing in Kent show, Tamzene is on a bit of a roll, "A lot goes into writing, recording and releasing. And I feel more growth, confidence and excitement with every release." Next up is 'Unreachable' with the rest of EP1 soon to come.

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