Kinosoo's 35th Anniversary - Artist Profiles
Coleman Hell has crafted a genre-defying Monster of a hit with his affecting single “2 Heads.” The mesmerizing track slips the bonds of your standard ‘relationship’ song immediately upon first listen, wowing bloggers and electro-music fans after repeated plays as it passed the 65 million global streams milestone on Spotify and topped music aggregators Hype Machine and Indie Shuffle soon after its release. The single has become a mainstay of multiple streaming and radio platforms, soaring to the Top 5 at US Alternative radio. “2 Heads” poked a hole in the denser pop stratosphere as one of the more provocative offerings of 2015. Now Coleman Hell is back with his new single “Fireproof.”
Hailing from the Toronto Canada artist collective sideways, a venturesome songwriting, production, video & design haven featuring Coleman and longtime friends/collaborators La+ch (who produced “2 Heads” with Coleman), Michah, and Shan Vincent de Paul, the tight-knit creative consortium has paid their dues the past few years offering genre-busting songs and videos that always seem to break new ground; Veering from house and hip hop, to nu-disco and folk-electronica and more by cleverly fusing beats atop the catchiest of songwriting shreds, Hell has a knack for pushing the boundaries of existing pop frameworks and delivering memorable choruses to boot. Anchored by his inspiring and unorthodox approach, the Thunder Bay (Canada) native has forged a prolific reputation as an adventurous outlier with a diverse palate.
Ascending musical checkpoints include the 2012 YouTube offering “Glow” which introduced his style-bending chops, and 2013’s Stark Raving mixtape which rattled the music blogosphere and drew raves (the Torontoist called it ‘ethereal’ with ‘memorable hooks’ that ‘stick in your head for days…’). 2014’s heat-seeking anthem “You Are My Summer” moved Hell higher on the indie map, reaching #1 on the music discovery site Hype Machine and also garnering significant Spotify streams. “You Are My Summer” also showcased his ability to meld taut influences and emotive wordplay into songs that both capture and challenge the listener. He closed 2014 with the well-received EP Vena, continuing to flex a compelling creative arc about to hit full bloom. In 2015 he released his self-titled EP. The 6 track EP features three new songs, “Sitcom," "After Hours" and "Move On," as well as three previously released songs including his colossal debut hit single “2 Heads.” The multi-talented Hell embarked on a North American tour this past fall, hitting the road with electro-alt artist Robert DeLong and he just wrapped up a tour in Canada with Twenty One Pilots. In 2016, Hell was nominated for a JUNO award for “Breakthrough Artist of the Year.”
The emergence of “2 Heads” turned heads, so to speak, with Hell’s flair for bold verses and left-of-center hooks adorning darker relationship threads in a realm where 99% of other pop songs worked overtime to mask the seams. “2 Heads” went straight to the top of multiple blogger lists, amassing an enthusiastic following for not settling for run-of-the-mill themes. “I wanted a richer idea for a pop song,” he says. “It’s about the kind of relationship more of us find ourselves in then we care to admit; Knowing you aren’t perfect people, and that parts of the relationship may be complicated, but loving that person so much – even their faults – that you try to overcome the hardship, because you do really need and support each other.”
Coleman admits to possessing a similar unbridled passion for all forms of music, recalling rifling through his parent’s record collection at the earliest of ages and being fascinated with everything from lyrics to album art and the different styles each artist conveyed. “From Steely Dan to Springsteen to Thin Lizzy,” he remembers. “Then I grew up in the age of downloading where I could study any genre I wanted,” he says. “I became obsessed. It was almost like homework for me, digesting every bit of music I could find in a genre and getting to the heart of why one song works and maybe another doesn’t.”
Such passion led to a democratic mind-set about the entire creative process. “I don’t have a filter that this is cool and that over there is uncool,” he says. “You only progress by trying a lot of different things.” Buoyed in his embrace of the widest possible canvas by his sideways collaborators (who all moved together from Thunder Bay to Toronto 4 years ago to pursue their dreams) he applies the same creed to all facets of his presentation.
“I feel like recently I’ve put it all together and found my real voice,” he says. “What I’m aspiring to, I hope is a little different. We all play instruments, but in my live show, for example, it’s a lot more modern set-up, including a DJ. The key is the music has to come from great songs. I always want to write, good, honest songs – but deliver them in an unconventional way.”
With an upcoming Columbia Records debut album near-completion, the charismatic artist seems sure-footed about the future. “Every little milestone has seemed to show more growth,” he says. “I’ve written and recorded a lot of songs people haven’t even heard yet. I’m ready.” But then again, maybe he’s always been ready: “I get asked all the time if Hell is my real name,” he deadpans. “It is. But kids never really teased me about it when I was growing up. It was intriguing to them. So I knew early on – when you’re going around with that kind of last name, you should pursue something meaningful.”
The Funk Hunters' reverence for the roots of dance has also lead them into unique live collaborations, sometimes drawing on a cast of supporting musicians to add dimension to their signature sound. Most recently they toured North America with iconic rapper Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, who has called them "the selectah's of the century!"
Based in Vancouver BC, Nick Middleton and Duncan Smith elevate their signature bass heavy sound with their own stunning custom-curated visuals and animated stage presence. Spend an evening with this charismatic duo and you'll see that their lifestyle is as relaxed as the west coast, but their sound is global and booming.
Founded by Nick Middleton in 2013, Westwood Recordings is The Funk Hunters' own record label. Home to their portfolio of original releases and remix projects for acclaimed artists such as Dub FX and Chali 2na, the label serves Canada's thriving west coast electronic music culture and beyond...now representing a diverse and talented roster of producers and musicians from all corners of the globe.
Producing & performing together for over 5 years, they are like savage yetis feeding off of each other during their high energy live shows (which often feature snow machines & loud retro ski gear) while they blast through genres playing everything funky from bassline house to black-diamond twerk.
The boys have released tracks on labels around the world including Westwood Recordings, Good For You Records, and Fort Knox Recordings. While constantly developing their sound, they have enjoyed chart success on Beatport & have cracked well over one million plays on their Soundcloud. Their tracks have been played in clubs all over the world, charted by Miguel Mig, & even dropped into Bondax’s sets. They were recently featured by Vice's Thump as well as DJ Mag Canada.
Their hectic schedule over the last couple years has included Australian & European tours, numerous performances in the USA and primetime slots at most of the major electronic music festivals on the west coast including their fourth consecutive appearance at the acclaimed Shambhala Music Festival.
Hear them on Soundcloud or check out their Facebook page for more.
From humble beginnings on the Canadian West Coast, Neon Steve has cultivated his sound as a DJ/Producer, resulting in a reputation for high energy sets that blend and twist conventional genres.
While his production spans a variety of tempos, these days he’s most at home when working on 808-injected club music. A move that seems to be working well for him as he’s recently been the top choice for features on remix EPs from Zeds Dead and Grandtheft, Keys N Krates, Excision, Datsik and Rico Tubbs, among others. Surging ahead, Steve also saw an original release alongside Smalltown DJs and Shad (the new host of CBC’s Q radio show) whilst also managing to catch the eye of Mad Decent’s Diplo; who has been known to regularly play out Neon Steve bootlegs.
When not in the studio, Neon Steve has continued to spread his musical word across the world with tours touching down in Australia, NZ, Europe, United Kingdom, USA, and Costa Rica in addition to multiple Canadian circuits since 2012. The near future promises to build on that even further with a forthcoming European tour and multiple festival dates across North America. Not one to forget his roots, Neon Steve will continue his regular Shambhala Music Festival appearances as he graces the Fractal Forest yet again this year, among other great festival events.
With a knack for filling dance floors and flexing subs, Neon Steve is clearly an artist to watch as he continues to inject a bit of brightness amongst some of bass music’s brightest stars.
Check out more on Neon Steve at his website, or follow him on Facebook.