Nelward’s latest EP Alive in Screen just dropped through Deskpop Records. So we had a chat.

I have to start off basic, when did you get started with music?

I started out on guitar and my favorite style of music at the time was pop punk. It took a couple of years before I realized my formative musical influence was video game music from Super Nintendo and N64 games. In 2013 I got Ableton Live and have been producing heavily since then.

Alright and if someone gave you 14 million dollars to make a movie what would you make it about?

It would be a documentary about me being given $14 million to make a movie and keeping the money to spend it on something else but if that’s a bad answer, I’d do a reboot of one of the 90’s movies with talking babies in it. the talking baby genre had a lot of potential. It didn’t have to be strictly under the “comedy” genre and with our new CGI capabilities who knows what we could do.

What’s your favorite dance move?

my favorite dance move is the “pumpers” dance from Tim and Eric.

Does pop punk have any influence on the music you make now?

Definitely when I make stuff that’s closer to the rock genre, which I haven’t in recent years… I was lucky to be exposed to a wide array of styles growing up so all of that has informed my material. My music is definitely driven by melody and I try to stay as concise as possible, I suppose it has that in common with most of the pop punk I liked. I was also in a nu metal band very early on so that definitely has informed the rhythms I use. Also my sense of humor, nu metal is very silly.

What visual pieces of art inspire your music?

Primarily old Nickelodeon cartoons like Rugrats, Doug, and Ren and Stimpy. Also the Memphis Group aesthetics.

Is there anything you want to tell us about the EP?

It’s my first real “EP”. Everything on my Bandcamp is a compilation of works I did over a period of time. So that’s exciting. Also, it’s my return to singing after not doing it for a while. Most people know me for my original work. Its a good combination of all the styles I’ve been exploring in recent years in one package.

What else do you want to talk about?


Ok, what’s the best, what’s the worst? 

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a strong revulsion to orange cheese. Like orange cheddar or those weird “American cheese” things that come stuck to a film. I would have to wash my hands if any of it got on me. the best kind … I’m no cheese connoisseur but I like brie, I guess.

Brie tastes weird as fuck, can you make a 5 song playlist for the readers?

In Memory of Lil Peep

Lil Peep Saved My Life

by: Cam Thomson

I’m not going to argue that Lil Peep cured my depression. What he did do, was open me up to a whole side of myself that I wasn’t in touch with. Not only that, but I admired him, even idolized him. He dropped everything in a small town, moved to LA with nothing but the clothes on his back and somehow found his way to the international spotlight. Peep was everything I wanted to be but wasn’t. And as time went on, I followed his music, his Instagram, and his twitter, I found myself more and more infatuated with this guy. I envied his ability to act on impulse, to say and do whatever he wanted, to cover his face with a plethora of easily regrettable tattoos, even telling his Trump-supporting fans to “fuck off” on one occasion. I saw someone who was deeply troubled, struggling with addiction and depression, and I saw myself. The fact that he seemed to overcome these obstacles to find himself living his dream only gave me hope for my own future.

Two summers ago I was struggling with the worst depressive episode I’ve ever had. I found a mediocre minimum wage job at a bourgeois grocery store and ended up quitting after only two weeks. I didn’t enjoy the things I used to; hanging out with friends, making music, being with family. Everything sort of came to a standstill in my life, and I felt more lonely than ever before. I had no money, no fulfillment in what I was doing, and every day became the same monotonous struggle to find momentary happiness. I didn’t want to be alive. At the beginning of this tumultuous summer, I had practically given up on making music, virtually all of my tracks came out the same; stale and uninspired. Then I listened to Lil Peep for the first time. I found this new mishmash of two of my favorite genres that completely reinvigorated my love for creating music. In the past year or so since then, Lil Peep has been my single largest musical influence. I saw Peep living his dreams and thought, maybe, I could too. I found hope in Lil Peep.

Now I’m forced to reckon with the truly heart-wrenching fact that Gus wasn’t living his dream. He was hurting, badly. Coming from a family that struggles with addiction, this should have been clear to me from the very beginning. I confused Peep’s sadness to be a part of his aesthetic brand, as I think most of us did. I feel like I have wronged him for not taking this more seriously. I don’t know exactly what I or anyone else could have done, but something, I would think, could have prevented this. It’s not fair to project blame on any of his friends as potential enablers. What happened to Gus is more reflective of the culture that surrounds the youth in this era than it is of any individual moral failing.

I do really hope that we can remember Gus for the good that he bestowed upon us. I know people say all the time that “such and such musician saved my life,” even I’ve said it flippantly. But I say this with more conviction than ever before in my life; I don’t know if I would be here if it wasn’t for Lil Peep. His music gave me company, empathy, he inspired me to create things, to embrace the parts of myself that I wasn’t comfortable with, to continue doing what I love. He bent the rules of how a male musician should act; his vulnerability, honesty, and candidness virtually flipped the script for what is acceptable in hip-hop. I will forever feel indebted to Lil Peep and his music for pulling me out of my slump when I could barely get out of bed or look my mother in the eyes. If Gus didn’t save my life, he at least gave me more courage to live.

I’m also endlessly grateful for everything that Gus did to subvert the typical expectations of masculinity that are projected onto young men. There’s an entire generation of music fans growing up who idolized a singer/rapper who wore nail polish, identified as bisexual and notoriously referred to himself as a “crybaby”. We’re all “crybabies” sometimes, and thanks to Peep, young boys are hopefully more free to express that without fear of taunts, marginalization, and ridicule. Rather than portraying himself as a cold-hearted, give-no-fucks macho male that is so common in hip-hop, Peep was constantly doing the exact opposite; expressing his regrets, insecurities, and failings on almost every single song. He spoke out on LGBTQ+ issues, homophobia and mental illness without inhibition. He never hesitated to pour his heart into a track, no matter how many memes he became the subject of. Eventually, the mainstream would embrace him for just that. Because of Peep’s eccentric persona and emotional honesty, I feel a little less pressured to push emotions aside and act like everything is fine when they aren’t. I feel a little less inclined to subscribe to traditional ideals of masculinity. As lame as it sounds, I feel more comfortable expressing myself. 

I’m holding out hope for Gus’ friends and family, especially his mom. I won’t lie and say I knew Peep personally, but at times it genuinely felt like I did. Maybe you did too. Lil Peep’s influence on the underground music scene will last much longer than any of us. At the age of 21, his passing is a tragic shock to music fans across the globe. Rest in peace, Gustav. I will never forget you and the impact you had on my life. Thank you, forever.


Got any new projects in the works?

I’m working on a new one called Infinite Spite that’s going to be mostly metal.

Is there a story behind the title?

The last one was about creation and destruction and I thought my life was gonna be more positive after the album dropped but it turned out being one of the most self destructive periods of my life where I lost all of my friends, social media presence, and almost lost my fiancée so this one is gonna be a lot about dealing with that. It’s gonna be ugly, to be honest.

Do you think metal lends itself to that type of song writing?

It’s what I’ve been leading up to for a minute but yeah it really does help me express what I’ve been going through a lot better like I don’t have to worry about “having bars” or flexing like rap demands I do, I can just talk bluntly. But I also just want to be part of the queer black representation in the genre you know?

(talking about blogs) Fuck Adam22, I wish Kreayshawn would start a podcast.

Every party that I’ve been to where I see Kreayshawn at, we talk for a second, then a fight breaks out and it’s more violent each time. I’m convinced she’s an omen and literal harbinger of chaos. My homeboy Tristan got stabbed last time I seen her lol that was actually a rough night I got a knife tattooed on me and made a song about it after, did too and it got played on broad city the other day so shoutout to ka5sh.

Is your friend that got stabbed ok?

Oh yeah he’s straight now, but it was rough like we were at a girl pusher show and these racist punks jumped him in front of kas5h and me it was wild Tristan is pretty tiny to begin with so it was fucked that they were trying to pack him out I honestly never seen that much blood before, but sometimes I’ll mention him getting stabbed to him and he’ll be like, “when??” so I guess he’s good now.

When and how did you originate the term “trenchcore”? 

Actually from living in Omaha, after I graduated from high school, my whole family moved to LA and it was just me and my older brother in this big ass house alone. He would work all day and we didn’t have a tv or internet and all my friends from high school had just stopped talking to me (cause they were high school friends you know?) so I was in there in silence all day if I wasn’t working on music and it was rough. My brother eventually moved in these homeless meth addicts (no shade to addicts) and they overran our house and basically moved their other homeless friends in and it turned into a squatter house. I slept in the basement and our heat for like the whole house didn’t work so I would be in the basement wearing multiple jackets, multiple blankets, and it’d be so cold that I could still see my own breath, we ended up getting huge rats that I could hear in the walls at night and had dreams of them eating me in my sleep constantly. It reminded me of trenches soldiers in wars would make and how they were being eaten by rats. I wanted my music to sound the way I felt for the two years I was living there I even had a studio set up in that basement but that shit really changed me man like I seen this dude nearly get beat to death with a can of yams in my kitchen you don’t unsee some shit like that.

Oh, my God. That would stick with a person, I would think. 

It was terrifying, I didn’t even have anything to do with it but a few weeks later they kicked down my door screaming my name saying they were gonna shoot me, it was then I knew like “this point of my life is FUCKED” Omaha gets REALLY cold during the winter you feel me. I think that’s what makes being in LA weird for me because I moved right after and now I’m in this city where everything is a turn up and like I can’t talk about some hard shit that happened to me candidly, I had to turn my trauma into a turn up so that people didn’t look at me weird for talking about it, they think its “being depressed ironically” or however the fuck the internet likes to phrase it. People still look at me weird but that’s really what trenchcore is to me.

I hear you have an art show coming up November 17th at

I’ve been trying more ways to express myself other than these songs, I asked my girl if she really listens to my songs and she said “yeah they just depress me though” I literally forgot this shit I’m talking about is depressing cause I got so tied up making it sound turnt up. I’ve really been on illustration lately like I’m making a coloring book right now.



How did your latest album “LW17” all come together?

Well I started working on this project right after my EP “indigo2“, so you can probably guess the first track I made for it was “no prob”. I didn’t really have a clue on what direction I wanted this to go in so I just went off whatever sounded good put together and catchy. After I made  “LMK” I knew exactly how I wanted to shape this album. It’s dark/experimental but you definitely won’t expect anything specific.

How did you start working with people like Judge, Dylan Brady, and Lil Aaron?

Me and Dylan had a show and studio sesh wit Night Lovell so that’s how we met. Me and Aaron used to FaceTime a while back and Judge and I met thru Aaron on Twitter.

What producers and performing artists are you really messing with right now? 

Production-wise Yug Gud, Dylan Brady, Diplo. My musical inspirations are M.I.A , yung lean, Robb Bank$.

What kind of messages are you trying to convey with your art?

A negative message<img src=, because everyone wants to be the good guy and act like they sending a positive message. Smh so I’ma be the bad guy and do the opposite.

What is the negative message?

Just hating everything errbody loves, promoting all the evil shit instead of the good, you feel me? Like being a bad role model.

What type of music did your family listen to when you were growing up?

They was into 90’s and 2000’s hip hop and r&b, but I didn’t like that shit. I was listening to heavy metal, Dipset, and OJ da Juiceman.

What’s the first album you remember buying?

Louder Now by Taking Back Sunday.

If you had to pick one song to be your ringtone for the rest of your life what would it be?

If they make a movie about your life what is it going to be like and who is going to play you and your friends?

Toro y Moi would be me, my friends would be played by like the niggas from Sad Boys and we would just be traveling and learning about different cultures and shit like a documentary.

You can find where to stream or purchase “LW17” using this link

Ella Rae

What prompted you to start making music?

I was eighteen years old and moved to London from the southwest of England to further my music career. I performed at Ronnie Scott’s on my first night which was incredibly inspiring. I took my guitar in and asked if I could be a guest singer for the show they had on that night. To my surprise, they let me. It was a great start. From then on, I continued to play shows and write music.

The year is 2050 and you’ve had a storied career as a musician. Who plays you in your biopic and what ideally is the plot arc of the movie?

Ideally, I would like the plot to be that I’ve had lots of albums, sold out shows etc. Then later on in life, I would marry Bryan Ferry, move to the countryside and write music with him every day. If I could direct the film too, I would set it in Iceland or somewhere magical like that.

In this movie, Will you be a tragic figure or comedic?


Are there any particular non-musical inspirations at play in your music?

I would like to say I write loads of happy songs about love and stuff but I don’t. Someone asked me recently why that is and I just said I have no control over what I write. They just happen. Right now, I’m inspired by other things. I go through phases.

If you had to choose one song to be your alarm clock for the rest of your life, what would that one song be?

I’m on fire – Bruce Springsteen

Who’s your mom’s favorite musician?

My mums favourite is Ed Sheeran.
My Dads favourite is The Beatles.

How do you create meaningful experiences in your life?

I travel a lot. I have come to realise that I’m most settled when I’m on the move. I like living that way and I experience a lot more which inspires my writing.

I also try to spend time at home back in England. These times are important to me as I feel I have most of my happiest times there when I’m with my family/friends.

Lastly, can you tell us your favorite joke?

Yeah I made it up actually when I was 12 years old and it got published in the London papers. They even sent me 5 pounds for it. I remember I was really proud of it.

What day should you cook bacon?
Fry-day ( I was 12 when I made this up)


Thanks for taking time to speak with us, to start I’ll ask a softball question — when did you start making music?

I started getting serious about 3 years ago. Music has always been a part of who I am so I was just thinking of my ways to contribute to the world.

How do you think art contributes to the world, how does it function?

Well art for everyone is different, for me, it is a form expression. Art can generate conversations that we as people are afraid to have. I feel like it’s just a forum to express yourself or to view the world through someone else’s eyes and just relate to the parts of yourself you didn’t even know existed.

Ok let’s pretend it’s 2050, you’ve had this wild storied career as a musician, what contemporary actors would play you in your biopic and what would the general plot arc be?

Yara Shahidi? She’s the oldest daughter in Blackish. I feel like a lot of her values mesh with my own and I feel like it would be easy to delve into me as a character.

What would the movie be about?

Well if it’s about me I assume it’s going to be about me. It would probably explore how one female artist single-handedly eliminated systematic oppression.

Oh wow, what would the title of the movie be?

I don’t know… “Damn Right” that’s what it would be called.

If you could choose one song to be your alarm clock for the rest of your life what would it be?

Who is your mom’s favorite musician?

Definitely Chaka Khan. We’ve had every album that she’s ever made and I know that I’ve definitely heard every song she’s ever made. Especially on the weekends, because that was my mom’s go-to cleaning music — Chaka Khan and Patti Labelle.

What do you consider a meaningful experience?

Something that has me thinking, something that you think about days to come or years later. For example, a meaningful experience that I didn’t even know was a meaningful experience was when I was living with my Uncle and Aunt in Alabama and every morning we would wake up and the routine was to feed the fish that were in his pond and put food in the bird feeders for the birds and I see that time as meaningful because now whenever I find myself needing a moment of serenity I end up outside, feeding the birds.

Lastly, can you tell us what your favorite joke is?

I don’t really have a favorite joke but there is a skit by the late great Bernie Mac that always has me cracking up no matter how many times I watch it. He does this skit where he just goes on and on about the versatility of the word “mother fucker”

Check out Cipherella’s whole Soundcloud as she prepares for the release of her first studio album “Interfunkalacticfied Vibes” produced by AfterThem Music group, James Lion, and P.Torres and is scheduled to be released in 2017.


Thanks for talking with us Phoelix, firstly I’ll ask what prompted you to start making music?

I don’t think anything necessarily ‘prompted’ me into making music. It’s just something I’ve always been around. As a kid I remember my brother Dax & I making arrangements to church songs, and putting our own spin on everything. In 4th grade, myself, Dax & my cousin Blake (Davis) were making acapella (3 part harmony) arrangements to hymns & stuff like that. As a teenager, movies played a big role in my obsession with production, but making music has always been something I’ve been into.

What do you think are the functions of art (good and bad) in our contemporary society?

INFLUENCE! All artists reach a point in their career where people love your music to the point that they’ll believe in the things you say outside of the music. We have that power to change and impact our world by the things (outside of the studio and the stage) we do and say. That goes both ways though, but to me that’s big.

Alright the year is 2050 and you’ve had a storied career as a musician. Who plays you in your biopic and what ideally is the plot arc of the movie?

Lmao who plays me in my biopic…. I would have to say a young version of Yasiin Bey would play me or a young version of Dr. Lee from Drumline <laughs>. Damn near my son though by 2050. <laughs> Plot arc? I feel like a common theme would have something to do with falling and getting back up. There’s been a lot of that in this lil 25 years. I can’t even imagine what the next 30 is going to look like. 

In this movie will you be a tragic figure or comedic?

If you know me you know I look at most things as comedy. But I also take my work very seriously. If I’m alive to oversee this biopic I would definitely be more of a tragic figure than comedic.

Are there any particular non-musical inspirations at play in your music?

Both sides of love are inspiring. I think film and visual art are also key. I’ve been blessed to be able to see most of the country and other parts of the world in the last year, and I think the conversations I’ve had with people, and different cultures I’ve experienced have influenced me heavily.

If you had to choose one song to be your alarm clock for the rest of your life, what would that one song be?

Red beans & Rice. <laughs>

Who’s your mom’s favorite musician (besides you of course)?

Tamela Mann for sure. Y’all gotta hear my mom sing “Take Me To The King” … my mom is my favorite singer too. <laughs> If you know you know.

How do you create meaningful experiences in your life?

I don’t think you do. I think when you try to make something meaningful it becomes a forced thing. You’ll find yourself in a moment, and you can miss it trying to catch it. That’s a reason I don’t take a lot of pictures or videos when I’m out. Something Brian Sanborn always says is you have to learn to live and exist within those “moments”.

Lastly, can you tell us your favorite joke?

Anything Michael Scott from The Office says… I was just watching this show last night.

“I’m an early bird and I’m a night owl. So I’m wise and I have worms…”

My kinda humor.


Don’t miss him on Thursday, August 17th at SubT! Get tickets here 


UK Drill: An Introduction

It’s been about a week since I had this exchange with ANGEL DIARY and while I still think Katie Got Bandz, Sasha Go Hard, King Louie, Chief Keef, Fredo Santana, et al. are untouchable, this list of up and coming UK drill artists she sent me is “bare convincing.” UK Drill is definitely on my radar now as this shit truly bangs.

5 for 5 with Lonny X

Soundcloud digging is hard but rapper and guest contributor Lonny X is here to help you cut through the bullshit. You can read his words and check out his recommendations in the paragraphs below.

“Collecting music is a never-ending pastime universally shared by humans around the world. The internet has always been on our side while on the hunt for the best new music since back in the Limewire days. The only problem with finding the next best thing is that you can easily get lost in the RIDICULOUS amounts of terrible music. That’s where I come in…here are the 5 most underrated artist of this month.”

 Virginia Beach based artist NOLANBEROLLIN has plenty of hits under his belt. Reminiscent to early internet rap, Nolan shines with colorful production (usually made by him) and nonchalant swag. As a fan myself, I’m excited to see a full-length project from him. Listen to BEANMANSEASON, Caution.

Abbi Press

So tell us a little about the new project? 

‘Double Eye Rascal’ is a compilation of previously released songs, remastered. It’s a collection of tracks that I wanted to revisit as a project because they mean a lot to me as self-produced works and the messages within each song are very tender/close to my heart. It was also a chance for me to distribute them onto platforms that don’t currently have them listed in their music libraries i.e. Apple Music, Spotify, etc.

Can you tell us a little about the messages presented on this project?

I guess you could say the entire project is centered around the concept of love – whether it be self-love, love for another person, or the purity of love as an isolated idea. If I had to pair it down per track I’d say ‘Lavender’ is about the love of friendship, ‘Kaleidoscope’ is about self-love/picking up broken pieces of self to grow and rebuild, ‘What A Thing’ is about the purity of love as an ideal and how important it is to love no matter what, ‘Polaroid’ is about the love of family and the bonds we build from childhood, and ‘Vantage Point’ is about love lost and looking ahead.

Are you a self-taught producer? Can you take us through your learning process?

Ya, when I was in high school I started teaching myself after I heard the Imogen Heap song, ‘Hide And Seek’. I wanted to know how she was creating those sounds so I started messing around in GarageBand. But, it wasn’t until college that I really started investing time into music production. They offered an electronic music course at Lewis and Clark College my Sophomore year and we used Reason as our DAW. I used Reason for a couple years until my friend in Chicago gifted me Ableton and I’ve been using it ever since.

I will say – I wouldn’t have the skills I have today if it weren’t for my friends, the internet, and other producers who have given me tips along the way. I’m always looking for ways to improve and different methods to try. Recently, it’s been fun to mix live instruments (drums, harp, guitar) in with more electronic based downtempo rhythms and synths. My initial incentive to learning how to produce was always focused around my vocals i.e. creating instrumentals to sing on because I was too impatient to wait for male producers to send me beats. Over time though, it’s blossomed into a separate and distinct passion that I enjoy just as much as singing.

And I hear you’ve got a new single coming out in August? My ears are burning. 

It’s called ‘Butterfly Effect’! It’s the first song I’m releasing that features me on guitar and the first time I’ve recorded and mixed my drummer, Robby Bowen, into a track. We recently started working with a harpist named Anna Bikales, so she’ll be featured as well. And to accompany the single, I also wrote, directed, and produced a music video which was shot and edited by my friend Jeff Mertz ( Definitely, keep your eyes peeled for that one.



GIF Me The Deets: Pitchfork Music Festival 2017

If you’re a true music fan living here in Chicago, you know that Pitchfork is THE event of summer music festival season. Charming as always, the laid-back festival featured numerous food and alcohol vendors, as well as the brand-new Pitchfork PLUS+ section. In PLUS+, cocktails and food were curated by Chicago’s Land and Sea department (I tried a fish-focused dish from Lost Lake, which was delicious), and included air-conditioned bathrooms, which were a welcome reprieve from Sunday’s humidity. Other features of the festival included the pop-up Saint Heron house on Sunday, CHIRP’s record store, and the poster vendors—I was very excited to snag a Sonnenzimmer piece this year!

Musically, the festival tended to lean a little heavily towards the rock and indie side this year, with acts like Pinegrove and LCD Soundsystem drawing almost shockingly large crowds, but the lineup was excellently diverse nonetheless. All of the hip hop acts were some of the best that I’ve seen at Pitchfork: Isaiah Rashad was extremely charismatic, while Joey Purp brought an intense energy to his set. Of course, A Tribe Called Quest’s closing performance on Saturday was legendary, and a highlight of the festival. Arca and Derrick Carter gave electronic music a great name—Arca’s performance was absolutely wild, as he played high-intensity Latin music and unsettling visuals while rocking heels and a leotard.

My favorites, however, were Nicolas Jaar and Solange. Both artists were mesmerizing in different ways; Jaar put the audience in a trance-like state, making an hour feel like 15 minutes (no exaggeration). Solange, however, felt reverent, as if I was in a place of worship. Tears were shed as she performed her catalogue of hits (shoutout to “Locked In Closets”). While it may not have been my most exciting year at Pitchfork, it was an enjoyable one nonetheless, and a festival that’s always worth going to, in my opinion.