February Next Step Contest Honorary Mentions

 

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As the submissions for our March Next Step contest come to a close tomorrow, we want to share some of our favorite submissions from February in this “honorary mentions” post. Y’all made it rough last month – here’s to another great month!

Our February Next Step Contest Honorary Mentions:

DC based “soul garage” band Black Alley. In the video above, the young group rips covers of Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Nirvana in their poignant dedication to “Club 27.”

Psaul, a collaboration between Swedish singer/songwriter Paul Mac Innes and producer Stray. The sound is pop sensible electro-soul with a retro vibe. Below, you can get down to the sunny “Change” and on Soundcloud catch a super funky cover of Chaka Khan and Rick James’ “Slow Dancin’” featuring the dynamic Karma Stewart.

New York based singer, songwriter, and producer Cilla K. has certainly got something special. With a darling lilting character to her voice that makes you feel at home and a jazzy soul sound that’s playfully offbeat, her vocal style is airy and refreshing like Amel Larrieux, her production hinges on that ever-nostalgic Esthero vibe, and her left-field play with music touches on Sonnymoon. Her most recent release, New World Lullabies, feels just like it sounds. Listen to “You Know Me Better” below and let your worries fall away.

And again, you can still submit to be considered for March!

Don’t miss Backpack Jax and Kimberly Nichole after the jump!

Next Step February Winner: Krystale

 

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It’s a good thing when our decision making for selecting a Next Step winner becomes more difficult. February was a great month for entries – so much so that we’re going to have an honorable mentions post next week! Canadian-Dominican singer/songwriter/producer Krystale inched out ahead of the rest and struck us with her amazingness, though. Congratulations, madame!

Krystale’s parlor style future jazz and soul vocals coax you into your own personal illusions of swanky fancy times (even in your socks and sweats) on her 2011 Reboot EP. Think a jazzier Norah Jones with a little sprinkling of Fiona Apple. Just watch the live performance for “Caught Up” above and let yourself unravel to its spell.

And the lady isn’t without versatility. Below, you can also find a more recent single of hers called “Sweet Tooth,” a slinky playful track that hinges more on the R&B side with a hard hitting track compliments of Montreal beatmaker Kaytradamus. Vocals reminding us a bit of Anne Wise from Sonnymoon here – you know that’s a win already.

Look out for Krystale’s debut full length album to drop this year – we’re gripping our seats.

Purchase Reboot EP on iTunes | Amazon

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Now Accepting March Next Step Entries!

 

With SXSW just wrapping up and WMC in full swing, we are now calling all entries for our March Next Step contest! Show us what you’re working with!

So many awesome artists have been showcased through this series. Tara Priya in July, Iman Williams in August, Tall Black Guy Productions in September, Cole Williams for October, Tensei for November, Awalé for December 2011, and Annabel (lee) & Richard E for January 2012!

Stay tuned for the announcement on our February Next Step winner later this week!

The winner will receive an “Artist Spotlight” feature post on the Giant Step website, and up to $1,000 in Giant Step Marketing services!

Please note that we are accepting submissions from anyone that makes music – producers, singers, instrumentalists, rappers, and bands alike are all welcome.

This month, we are accepting submissions from today through Saturday, March 1st. That said, we are now open for March 2012 entries!

Submit your music for consideration!

January Next Step Artist Spotlight: Annabel (lee) & Richard E

 

Congratulations to Annabel (lee) & Richard E for being our January 2012 Next Step winners!

Combining jazz, folk, and classical, Annabel (lee) & Richard E draw inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe, Debussy, Miles Davis, Nick Drake, and Joni Mitchell to create rich emotive music that touches deeply – “melancholy magic,” they call it.

Annabel and Richard’s story itself is anything but dim. The two met via their MySpace music pages, carried on a six month online courtship, were later kept apart due to visa challenges, and connected the dots between New York City, London, Paris, and California to eventually (finally) tie the knot. Makes for some interesting music, we’d say.

Having just finished mixing their debut album, Annabel (lee) & Richard E: By the Sea and Other Solitary Places, the duo is planning some acoustic gigs around Los Angeles (including at Rockpaper Coffee Co) as well as a single release!

We are delighted to share the new single, “Alone,” to be officially released in a few weeks. An interpretation of an Edgar Allen Poe poem, the song was inspired while Annabel and Richard resided on the South Coast of England in Hastings where Annabel reported hearing “voices.” The recording includes the windows opened “ever so slightly to capture the sound of a subtle wind coming through, hauntingly.” Listen to it below!

For free download is a remix of an original track entitlted “My Mistake” by Siberian house/jazz music producer Cortes (aka Peter Shallmin). Sounding divine.

Annabel (lee) & Richard E – “Alone”
 

Richard E & Annabel (lee) – “My Mistake” (Cortes Bossavantgarde Mix) [MP3]
 

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December Next Step Artist Spotlight: Awalé

 

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Congratulations to Awalé for being our December 2011 Next Step winner! The diversity of music that we have come in for this contest is impressive, and we are so excited to present a winner with such eclectic international influences like Awalé’s.

Awalé is a true testament to London’s diversity, with members from Tunisia, Cuba, France, Slovakia and England. Similarly, the sound is vivid and textured, skirting genre lines as it touches on Afrobeat, Balkan music, North African amazigh music, Congolese rhumba, Ethiopian funk, and Latin jazz.

Awalé’s debut album Just Have To Grow released in November 2011 and is incredibly pleasing to our ears. Co-produced by Nick Page (Dub Colossus), most of the album was recorded live in one room over the course of just two days. Preview the entire album below and experience the amazingness yourself. And you absolutely must watch the live performance video above as well – truly heartening music.

Londoners are encouraged to support the album launch, which will be a special all-star gig on March 14th at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. Tour dates will follow in the spring.

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Awalé band photo after the jump