DJ Sessions: Female Artists Making Waves

Nov 12, 2013

KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to look at some female artists who have caught his ear.

Anthony Valadez’s Female Artist Picks

Maylee Todd - Baby's Got It


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And it's time now for the HERE AND NOW DJ Sessions.


TOM PETTY: (Singing) And there goes the last DJ...


NIC CESTER: (Singing) Dance little DJ come on...


RIHANNA: (Singing) Come Mr. DJ, song pon de replay. Come Mr. DJ won't you turn the music up.

HOBSON: Anthony Valadez is a DJ at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, he's been listening to some female artists this week for us. And he joins us now. Anthony, welcome back.

ANTHONY VALADEZ, BYLINE: Hey. Thanks for having me, Jeremy.

HOBSON: All right. So let's hear first from the group Tiny Hearts. This is a song called "Snow Cold".


TINY HEARTS: (Unintelligible)

HOBSON: So a great electronic sound there.

VALADEZ: Yeah, totally. Well, the producer is from Detroit, and so I feel like a lot of that has to do with it, with the electronic sounds. They've just put out this amazing EP called "Stay." They're based out of Brooklyn, now living in L.A. And the main producer is from Detroit. And they've put together this wonderful project, Tiny Hearts, and it's such a great song.

I love the synths, I love the drums, I love how they all complement each other. And Dede(ph), the vocalist, is amazing. You know, her vocal ability to kind of play along with all the instrumentation going on kind of sets this really cool surreal mood that I'm really loving.

HOBSON: What would you call that kind of music, by the way?

VALADEZ: I - synth, synth soul? I don't know. That's the beauty in that there's no category for music like this. And, you know, these guys are all about kind of doing things their way. They put this music up themselves. And I think, you know, they've been in the industry for a while and they're just kind of like, we're going to do it our way. And I think it's kind of - you hear this and the sound and the emotion, it's like, we don't care. This is what we enjoy. So, I don't know, rebellious soul, synth music?


HOBSON: All right. And a lot of people enjoy being Elvis impersonators. The next person we're going to hear from is the daughter of one. This is...


HOBSON: ...Maylee Todd. The song is "Baby's Got It."


MAYLEE TODD: (Singing) My heart, my head, my loves under attack. You know my baby's got it. I see my body rocks it. You know my baby's got it. I see my body rocks it. Oh, I cannot take it how your body moves and how you work your hands.

HOBSON: Kind of a disco beat there.

VALADEZ: Man, I love it. It's like she's channeling her inner disco bunny, you know, with the four-on-the-floor.


VALADEZ: She's amazing. As you mentioned, I just found out she's the daughter of an Elvis impersonator. And you see it. I came across her music via YouTube and she's very creative, and she creates a lot of her own videos.

And you see these elements of being the child of an Elvis impersonator and just kind of, you know, she dabbled in comedy, and you see these elements of comedy and sequins and costumes and you get it. You're like, that has to be the daughter of an Elvis impersonator.

HOBSON: Does she do any Elvis songs?

VALADEZ: No, she doesn't.


VALADEZ: But she's - I mean, I got to say, you know, she plays the harp. She plays the piano. She's an amazing vocalist. And this song exemplifies all that.


TODD: (Singing) I see my body rocks it. You know my baby's got it. I see my body rocks it.

HOBSON: All right. Well, next, we've got the group Skin Town with Grace Hall on vocals. This is a song called the "Ride."


GRACE HALL, LEAD SINGER, SKIN TOWN: (Singing) And I don't want to ride. And tough love is just a walk in the park. (Unintelligible) my heart. Well, I'll ride it and never get focused. When I ride, I'm in control.

HOBSON: Tell us about Grace Hall.

VALADEZ: People won't believe this, but she was a punk rock vocalist. She did a lot, you know, she - playing in a lot of different bands in the Bay Area. And she teamed up with Nick Turco of the Zola Jesus band, and together, they created this wonderful, dark, haunted sound that takes you into this certain atmosphere.

And so Grace, you know, gets a lot of inspiration from modern-day R&B artists like The-Dream or Ciara, who are well-known amongst the young teenyboppers as soul music. But, you know, together, it's like Nintendo beats meets Ciara. If I could sum it up, that's probably what it would be.

HOBSON: Well - and there's also kind of a sexiness to it, totally.

VALADEZ: That's just what comes out of the creative process between these two talented individuals.

HOBSON: OK. Finally, Anthony, another female artist that you have found for us, this is Yuna. The song is a song that - I've heard this name of a song before, "I Want You Back," but this, I assume, is not the one from the Jackson 5. Let's listen.



YUNA: (Singing) 'Cause I just thought I should let you know. I want you back. Feeling like I did something wrong. I want you back. It's giving you a heart attack. I hate myself for doing that. You're the best thing I ever known.

HOBSON: Now, we have heard, by the way, in the HERE AND NOW DJ Sessions of Yuna before. She came up in an earlier session, was featured with The Internet. This is a Los Angeles-based group. It seems like you and your fellow DJs like her a lot.

VALADEZ: Oh, she's amazing. I mean, you know, I recently had the great opportunity to talk to Yuna, and she talks about having some regrets on the last album and kind of hesitant about moving from Malaysia to LA. But somehow, you know, through all that, her music reflects optimism, and that's kind of why I picked this song. It's a song about longing for somebody. And in the music, you hear the strings, you hear the piano, you hear vocal, and that, too, showed some optimism. And I find it interesting that this album is full of optimism despite, you know, her challenges as an artist.


YUNA: (Singing) I want you back. Feeling like I did something wrong. I want you back. It's giving you a heart attack. I hate myself for doing that. You're the best thing I ever known.

HOBSON: With all that you have brought us here today, I have to wonder whether you just sort of walk around the world with a constant beat surrounding you, Anthony Valadez.



VALADEZ: I, you know, love. That's all I could say, love.

HOBSON: Anthony Valadez, DJ at KCRW in Santa Monica, California. Thank you as always.

VALADEZ: Thanks for having me, Jeremy.

HOBSON: And, Robin, while we're talking about interesting female artist, I want to remind you of one of the first artists we ever featured on the HERE AND NOW DJ Sessions. It was the New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde. We talked about her back in July. She was brought to our attention by Travis Holcombe at KCRW.


LORDE: (Singing) I've never seen a diamond in the flesh. I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies.

HOBSON: That song "Royals," which is now on like every radio station at all times. Well, following our interview - and I'm not trying to suggest anything here, but after our interview in July, she performed in the U.S. for the first time about a month later, and then she hit the top of the Billboard charts in October.


Again, we are not saying that there was some great anticipation because of your interview. But...

HOBSON: No. I'm not saying there was a connection. I'm just saying, that's all. Well, let's listen to a little more of Lorde.


LORDE: (Singing) Diamonds on your timepiece. Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash. We don't care. We aren't caught up in your love affair. And we'll never be royals. It don't run in our blood.

HOBSON: And by the way, if you want to go to, you can see all the music that Anthony Valadez just told us about, which may be...

YOUNG: Who knows months from now?

HOBSON: ...who knows, could become huge in the coming months, will hit the top of the Billboard charts.

From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

YOUNG: No, no, no. Hitmaker Jeremy Hobson.


YOUNG: I'm Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.