PA Artist To Follow - Overwinter

We've been busy listening to new music and going to shows, so it's safe to say we've been slacking in featuring amazing music that we've been hearing. But who better to make this comeback with than Philadelphia native, Sarah Ponton, otherwise known as Overwinter.

Overwinter is a singer/songwriter & multi-instrumentalist from right here in Philadelphia, PA who has been hard at work being heard, and thank goodness we're hearing it. Inspired by Motown and soul, as well as modern indie electronic, Overwinter crafts melodies driven by deep emotions and trials. She has performed live at PVD Festival in Providence, RI, and regularly performs in the Philadelphia area.

An impressive repertoire for Overwinter, and her sound fits in a perfect loop of what is exciting about contemporary indie electronic music, with clear influences from aforementioned soul and Motown. Check out the original track off of Overwinter's Demo, "Not Mine," streaming via Soundcloud below!

Overwinter's sweet, provocative voice is captivating and exciting especially in a genre that is really on an interesting come up. The Philadelphia native has been busy playing shows in basements as well as venues, including one of The Hook's most recent showcases! 

When we asked Sarah of Overwinter what inspired her to make music, her response was the reason we all make art, "I started in music when I was four, when I picked up the violin. It's been my instinct ever since, to just play. It's also a great catharsis for all my stress and struggles that I deal with on a daily basis."

We couldn't agree more on that, and with electronic indie & singer/songwriter coming together in Overwinter, you're in for a treat. As of right now, Overwinter has plenty of instrumental demos as well as a few cover songs and original demos available to stream on Soundcloud, so you should check that out.

If you're into Overwinter (like we are) we hope you check out her social media accounts to keep up with upcoming shows and releases. You don't want to miss this one!

Overwinter: Facebook // Soundcloud

Jake Varrone - 2016 Top 10 Albums

Hook writer, Jake Varrone, is here to present his top 10 for 2016! A list full of some of the best music for Jake's year! Check out the list below!

1. Travis Scott - The Birds In the Trap Sing Mcknight
Whenever I’m in a good mood, I’ll put this record on in the car, roll down the windows and belt at traffic. It’s catchy as hell and a very beautiful trap/hip-hop album in its own edgy way.

2. Anderson Paak - Malibu
I got hipped to Anderson Paak after a buddy told me to check out the single “Am I Wrong.” Right away, I realized this dude not only a gifted musician, but brings this palpable charisma to everything he touches. Every song this dude comes out with sounds like gold, and I’m really excited to see where his creativity takes him in the upcoming years.

3. NxWorries - Yes Lawd!
This album is a collaboration between producer Knxwledge and Anderson Paak that will change the hip-hop/r&b game in 2017. Relying on Knxwledge’s sample based beat making genius and Paak’s unmistakably smooth yet edgy vocal timbre, you can expect to hear these guys’ names a lot in 2017.

4. the Weeknd - Starboy
I was really skeptical about this album because I wasn’t a huge fan of the single. I thought it was stagnant, boring, and unable to stand on its own. However, when I heard it complimented by the rest of the album, my perspective flipped. The album is teaming with hits, and is easily one of the best produced records of the year. I’ve never been more excited about the Weeknd.

5. Kaytranada - 99.9%
Kaytranada is a rhythmic genius. His music is soulful, smooth, and dynamic. Whenever I listen to his music I usually end up with a sore neck. This record is incredible – especially “GLOWED UP,” and “YOU’RE THE ONE.”

6. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
What is there to say that has not been already said about this one-of-a-kind album. I’m so happy to see an independent artist find as much success as Chance not only for his talent and style, but by staying true to his roots. Chance For President #2020.

7. James Blake - The Colour in Anything
I’ve always been a HUGE fan of James Blake. I think he has been changing the electronic music and r&b game for a long time, and is finally gaining the recognition he deserves. Side note, this album dropped on my birthday, making it that much more special for me!

I love the vibe of this album. PARTYNEXTDOOR says so much without saying much at all. I’ve always been a fan of minimalism and I never knew minimalist hip hop/r&b could evoke so much emotion and still be catchy as hell.

9. StarRo - Monday
StarRo is an electronic artist I discovered after watching him do a mixmag set alongside Sweater Beats. After checking out his original music I was immediately hooked. As I said earlier, I’m a huge fan of minimalism, and have a huge admiration for artists who compose minimalist tracks with taste and creativity.

ZHU is another artist I got into this year. He has a really unique sound that can be a little difficult to pin down to any singular genre since he includes components of electronic music as well as indie rock and dance. He’s a young producer with a lot of potential, and I’m excited to see what he has in store for 2017.

Philly Band To Follow - Wetbrain

It’s an uphill battle climbing to the top. Being afraid of heights saves lives and success can be found on a downhill journey.

The original line-up of Wetbrain, a Philly bred band, experienced this first hand in June of 2014 when the band went through its first wave; guitarist Andrew Haff, vocalist Matthew DelRio, former bass player Tim W, and former drummer Judah K were a solid year into coming down. They all sent a decent amount of time recovering from drugs and prioritizing what was most important to them: music.

Their initial incentive was to create trip-hop music, but later determined that trip-hop wouldn’t have been best for them; they never performed with each other and they all created music simply because they were passionate about it; they did not squeeze themselves into specific categories. They came together like a collage and because of this, they were able not only create their own sound, nut their own space. There is no box that they fit into. Their tracks are evidence that their artistry is too thick to fit into molds or genres. 

In Philly, rap culture is prominent and becomes a signature part of just about each native’s life. Because of this, lead vocalist, Matt Del Rio struggled with establishing his voice in the band. He was initially reluctant to incorporating melodic elements to his music, but knew that rapping on every song would become both flat and monotonous to rap on every track. Once he decided to work outside of his comfort zone and added more synthetic sounds to his vocals, Wetbrain became more than just a rapper with a band. It was an integration of multiple styles. It was multiple styles becoming one style. It was an experience, a new experience. 

The original “Wetbrain” only performed two open-mics and recorded three songs together, “Pipe Dreams,” Gunnysack,” and “Jazzy Brue.” Shortly after, Judah K decided that playing guitar was what he was most passionate about and was not very skilled at drumming. He left “Wetbrain,” but he did not leave them out in the cold. Though he has put out a solo EP and performs, he manages to find time to support them. 

The band experienced a dry spell in regard to performances. Without a drummer, they weren’t able to play at shows until Haff’s childhood friend, Alex Muller sought them out to profess his interest in their music and in an opportunity to become their next drummer. He learned all of their songs right away and together, they performed around 15 shows that year. 

Summer 2015 was both hot and hellish; Wetbrain went through a “revolving door” period.

Fortunately it was more of a hotel door than that of a home; none of the members who left, parted in a fashion that suggested that they were “running away” or sick of being there; for one reason or another their time with Wetbrain had expired and it was time for them to “check out.” Bassist, Coco Simone replaced Tim who could not stay with them for musical reasons, and Alex Muller left due to scheduling and personal conflicts. 

Regardless of how much the remaining members fought to maintain the band, 2016 swung in like a punching bag, and briefly it seemed that they were throwing exhausting energy. They had reached a plateau, a new high, a new low. Luckily, they’ve already learned to appreciate the gravity of coming down; their band mates leaving weighed down heavy on them, but at least it kept them grounded.

In need of a rhythm section, Andrew contacted Brandon King, a longtime friend of his and locally acclaimed drummer. They linked up over the “Blizzard of 2016” and connected through jamming and song writing. In February, Andrew got in touch with French bassist, Matt Antoina who moved ten minutes away from their rehearsal location and was enticed by the group’s music. As of Spring 2016, the group (Haff, del rio, King, Antoina) developed a unique bond and has been performing shows. They are currently preparing to play at Ortlieb’s, Isle of Wild in Wildwood, NJ and Caravan Music Festival in Belgrade, ME. They have also released a new single “She Bad.” 

Wetbrain’s lyrical content continues to change and mature along with the group members. For example, pushed himself out of the confinements of his past experiences. Recovering from an active addiction, drugs and alcohol was an important part of his life and all he wrote about. In attempt to move-on, he dedicated his time to writing about other topics that constituted as part of his living experience. This along with the development of the new line-up only proves that Wetbrain is more than a group and is more than music.

They are triumph. They’re experiences with rehabilitation in regard to both drugs and band members shows that it is possible to come down and find stability on the ground, to use rock bottom as the platform needed to stand for something. 

Wetbrain: Facebook // YouTube // Website // Twitter  // Instagram // Soundcloud // Buy Music


Baltimore DJ & Producer To Follow - DJ Sun

Photographer: Anna Cordova

Photographer: Anna Cordova

A little less than a week ago, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with virtuoso, producer, and scratch DJ, Jason Nobel, also known as DJ Sun!

The first time I saw DJ Sun was in passing. A few of my friends were on their way to a party, and I suck at social gatherings, but loud music, discomfort, and displacement are my idea of a good time, so I tagged along. We flocked to the basement where all of the excitement was, and it was so congested that we had to form a chain to travel through the crowd. We huddled up against a wall that was either white or concrete colored, but couldn’t tell because of how dark it was. Our bodies swayed a little bit, but not too much because we were too cool to dance.

I could see DJ Sun in my peripheral, standing behind a table in a clustered corner, and even then - being a dot in a scattered plot point graph of a section, something about him stood out. Maybe he illuminated simply because he’s DJ Sun (I saw the opportunity to use his name as a metaphor and I took it). Perhaps, it was because he had crowd control. He’d drop a song and suddenly the entire basement would explode with a boisterous uproar, followed by dancing, or in my case, head bopping, at the most two-stepping.

In that moment, people who may have never connected outside of that basement made an incorporeal relation with each other.

However, parties aren’t the pinnacle of DJ Sun's turn-tabling career. He performs a few times a month with The Vagabondz, a backpack culture collective that he joined in the beginning of his freshman year at the University of the Arts. The group originated in Harlem, New York, and is managed by expert lyricist, DaZay. He also does sets on Truwave, a Philadelphia based online radio station that primarily focuses on EDM and alternative sounds. The channel allows local, high profile DJs, most who produce their own music, to spin their records or mixes for a few hours. They then make it sharable by a link that can either be distributed via email, text message, or social media!

Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland for most of his life, DJ Sun immersed himself into the industry by developing his craft through classical music. Having a background with the harp (for fourteen years), it became his gateway to both music production and DJ’ing. In fact, he says that he treats DJ’ing as a type of instrument, waking up in the morning and practicing for a few hours before doing anything else. If that doesn’t prove him to be the epitome of dedication, perhaps, his prolificacy does.

Currently, he’s producing instrumentals and working on Eps and mix-tapes for/with an array of artists including one of his good friends and primarily EDM-trap producer, GoodBoy, who is co-producing his EP. He’s also working on singles with artists such as the multifaceted videographer, rapper, and designer, Rae Paradiso, as well as rapper, singer/songwriter, Joshua Tree.
DJ Sun also harbors a huge desire to connect and give artists he’s worked with the opportunity to network and collaborate with each other. He curated those with stylistic similarities and invited them to what he titled, Cypher Sunday’s, a studio session where rappers come together and freestyle on a series of instrumentals selected by himself and a few of his friends, who are also genius producers, making Cypher Sunday’s a plethora of promotion for everyone. Check it out below!

He also assembled & coordinated an event, along with DaZay, the Music Business Entrepreneurship & Technology major at the University of the Arts, Kyle Barret, and photographer, Anna Cordova, called The Beastcoast Bondz Bash. An epic concert that I went to, another event held in a dark room (because everyone knows that being around a lot of people at once is more enjoyable when you can barely see them.) The lineup was filled with raw talent, all matured artists using their musical abilities as strings to guide the response of the audience. The performers included Joshua Tree, BIA, Malik Ninety Five, Apollo, Watch Gang, Excursions, and The Vagabondz. 

Photographer: Kyle Barrett

Photographer: Kyle Barrett

Music brings interconnectedness that has a laser effect of being a narrow beam of light, finding listeners and attaching them to others either. I was first struck at the party, not only by DJ Sun, but by so many others just like us, with racing hearts when they hear their favorite song; whose skin tingles, blanketed with goosebumps when a rapper or singer delivers a spine-chilling verse.

Perhaps, the connection is bigger than basement parties, derived from something not so concrete or specific. It isn’t the love of the same music that brings people together, but simply the love of music in general. So, here I am, writing about a DJ who I’ve only gotten close enough to see from side-eye view at a party. It was as simple as both of us loving music enough to talk to each other. That’s what motivates me to write about music, and what motivates DJ Sun to make and mix it.

He states, “DJ’ing is my favorite thing in the world. When I drop a beat and everyone starts bopping their heads and there’s twenty thousand people, that’s a connection that everyone’s making at the same moment. You can’t beat that.” 

It is obvious that because of DJ Sun's solid work ethic, his career flourish and will take him well beyond the stars and back. Being only a freshman in college and already peddling down the road to success, The Hook will be following him for as long as possible. I already can’t wait for our follow up interview with him - our discussion focusing on the outcome of the projects afore-mentioned in the article. 

For more information on DJ Sun, or simply for the love of social media stalking (we all do it for one reason or another), check out his links below!

DJ Sun: Facebook // Instagram // Youtube // Soundcloud

NJ Band To Follow - As Astronauts

The NJ music scene has a lot to offer these days, and As Astronauts is a stellar example to get excited about.

Southern NJ locals, Ryan Donahue (Vocals), and Jimmy Taylor (Guitar) created As Astronauts in 2012 as a way to fulfill their desire to write music, and that was with zero boundaries in their way! This then allowed for the creation of an eclectic blend of Pop-Punk, Post-Hardcore, and Electronica. Sounds they have managed to build on to create a sound that turns heads.

Enter in the rest of the guys, Dan Birch (Guitar/Backing Vocals), Sean Alpaugh (Bass), and Sean Cahill (Drums) to complete As Astronauts as an impressive quintet.

As Astronauts is powered by Ryan’s high tenor, cathartic and tender lyrics, Dan and Jimmy’s technical, methodical guitar work, and a super precise and tight rhythm section powered by “The Seans”, as well as perfectly placed electronics. The band has been making huge, distinct progressions, which has allowed them to make a name for themselves since their creation. They've spent their time busy, releasing numerous singles and an EP over the past 5 years.

Meanwhile, their most recent single “Love Like Arson,” was made available in November! You can check the Soundcloud stream of "Love Like Arson" out below!

However, some of my favorite work from As Astronauts is their 2014 EP, Everything The Light Touches! Which is cultivating a pop-punk style with the same heavy hitting instrumentals as newer work! You can listen to Everything The Light Touches on their bandcamp below!

Dan Birch said this on where the band is going, "The band continues to push forward and evolve their sound in big ways. With a wide array of influences coming from each member, it’s difficult to determine where their sound will go next."

And we agree it may be difficult, but here at The Hook, we're excited to see where As Astronauts are going and what they have planned for listeners! We're here to follow them every step of the way!

For more information on As Astronauts and where you can heckle them about how awesome they are, check out their social media below!

As Astronauts: Facebook // Bandcamp // Soundcloud