If you didn’t already know, this is K’naan! We caught up with our You Oughta Know artist of the month at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC’s Greenwich Village earlier this month, where he performed a sultry set featuring his songs “Take a Minute” (which you can watch below), “Bulletproof Pride” and “Is Anybody Out There?” (which you can watch here). Hearing his passionate vocals over live acoustics was musical heaven, and seeing him perform in such an intimate setting really accentuated both the power and poetical flow of his lyrics.
Before, during and after his performance, K’naan proved to be a super friendly and very chill guy. Our ace photographer Colin Gray got to spend some extra time with him for the latest installment of our on-going Music Seen series. Enjoy!
As we bid adieu to our talented March You Oughta Know artist Graffiti6, it’s time to give a great big welcome to K’Naan, the latest member of the YOK Family!
K’Naan is a 34 year-old, Somalian-born hip hop artist, one that currently calls Canada home. He was raised in the war-torn town of Mogadishu, but at the age of 13, he and his family were able to make their way to North America, first arriving in New York City before settling down in Toronto. K’Naan released a few albums in the latter half of the Aughts to critical acclaim, but it wasn’t until his anthemic 2009 song “Wavin’ Flag” (which was produced by a then-unknown Bruno Mars) was selected to appear in a Coca-Cola advertisement in 2010 that he really began getting noticed. This just wasn’t any ordinary commercial, either; Coca-Cola selected his song to be the company’s promotional anthem for the 2010 World Cup, which exposed K’Naan’s particularly soulful blend of hip hop to an international audience that numbered in the hundreds of millions.
Understanding that he had a golden opportunity to take his career to the next level, K’Naan took the next few years to work on his follow-up to Troubador, the 2009 album that “Wavin’ Flag” first appeared on. In January, he released his 5-song More Beautiful Than Silence EP, which is a pre-cursor to May 1 release of his full-length God, Country Or The Girl. His EP contains the single “Is Anybody Out There?”, which is steadily climbing the Billboard charts, thanks in no small part to its hook being sung by his fellow Canadian, Nelly Furtado. He performed the single sans Furtado a few weeks ago at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge as part of his You Oughta Know Live set, a video that we have for you above. (In the video above, aMina accompanies K’Naan in place of Furtado.)
VH1′s current You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6, is pretty new to American audiences. Their debut full length album, Colours, came out in January and the band has been touring the States with bands like Augustana in order to get the word out. “It’s been an experience, man, it’s been amazing,” Graffiti6 frontman Jamie Scott told us about the touring experience when we caught up with him at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas over the weekend. “I was never really ready for the reaction we’ve gotten in America with this record, purely because I’ve never [toured] here before. It’s a daunting place, when you think about it, but we’ve had the most amazing reaction. So far, man, it’s felt pretty incredible.”
Jamie and his bandmates in Graffiti6 played a grand total of 10 shows (!!!) during their trip to Austin this year, which marks their third trip down to Texas for the annual confab. With each passing year, their stature here in the US of A has grown, and based on the reaction they got from crowds this year, it sure seems as if they’ll continue on this upward trajectory over the course of this month and beyond.
RELATED: Music Seen: Graffiti6 Visit VH1 And Make Everyone Swoon [VH1 Tuner]
It’s always a treat when we get to see one of our favorite new tracks played live. Our March You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6, was in the studio this week to play us a stripped back rendition of their amazing lead single, “Free”, from their album Colours. We loved the romantic video for “Free” and we just love the song even more every time we hear it. Singing live, Graffiti6 gave some raw emotion as front man Jamie Scott tugged on our heartstrings with his gentle, honey-like vocal and lovely blue eyes. We’re very much looking forward to a whole month of Graffiti6 and you should be too — keep checking back because we’ve got some great exclusives to share from the boys’ visit to VH1 headquarters!
We’d like to introduce you to our March You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6. Hailing from London, the duo (made up of Jamie Scott, pictured above, and Tommy “D” Danvers), are a breath of fresh air with their soft, guitar-led pop. With a sentimental edge to their persona, the band released their debut album, Colours, in January, and we’ve been hooked ever since. Even though the band only started making music in 2009, there’s a wealth of maturity in their dulcet, tonal sound. With a hint of nostalgia in Scott’s folksy vocal, we’re falling in love with Graffiti6, and here are five reasons you should too…
1. The video for “Free”
We just loved the video for “Free”, the first single from their debut album, Colours. You can watch the video below, and read what we thought about it here.
2.Their famous friends
Before Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers were Graffiti6, they worked with some pretty high profile collaborators. Danvers remixed tracks by Michael Jackson and Bjork, and had worked alongside his wife arranging and orchestrating concerts and recordings for super stars like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Adele, Beyonce and Noel Gallagher. He went on to produce the number one chart single, “I’m Too Sexy,” for Right Said Fred, before writing several songs for KT Tunstall, Corinne Bailey Rae, Janet Jackson and Kylie Minogue before joining forces with Scott to make music for Graffiti6. Scott, no less accomplished, has toured with Alica Keys and Kelly Clarkson with his previous band, Jamie Scott & The Town. With such full resumes and a cast of friends worthy of pop royalty status, we’re excited to see what future collaborations Graffiti6 might have up their sleeves!
We’re going to sound like a broken record saying this, but the truth is the truth and there’s no way around it — Gotye and Kimbra sound just as impeccable live as they do on record. And we should know — we got to witness the pair playing live for us in an intimate setting at our Times Square offices when they came to visit last week. While You Oughta Know artist Gotye played solo songs from his new album, Making Mirrors, and even an old favorite, “Heart’s A Mess,” we were blown away by “Somebody That I Used To Know,” featuring the dexterous vocals of Kimbra.
The pair gave us a compelling, moving experience in the intimate setting. While playing live with his band, tinkering with the menagerie of instruments surrounding him, the impresario Gotye crooned the lyrics, vocally gymnastic in the ease with which he switched from a whisper to a shout. When Kimbra joined him for her verse, emotions were high, as the two breathed life into the heartbreaking lyrics, giving real import to the occasion.
This week, we’re not only welcoming February (and maybe an early spring if you live in New York), but also our newest You Oughta Know recruit, the Australian sensation Gotye. Gotye is the stage name of the Belgian born, Australian raised Wally De Backer, who has been a household name in Australia since his 2006 album Like Drawing Blood made a hit singles out of “Heart’s A Mess” and “Learnalilgivinanlovin.” His 2011 release, Making Mirrors, however, sent Gotye into the stratosphere of superstar status in the home land, with the lead single, “Somebody That I Used To Know” making the most sales of any track Australia wide for 2011 and earning him various accolades and awards.
And now the rest of the world is standing to attention, too. Making Mirrors is taking the US by storm, currently sitting pretty at #12 on the iTunes charts, with “Somebody That I Used To Know” in the iTunes Top 10 singles chart. Gotye’s unique brand of emotional pastiche electo-pop paired with his power vocal have the world talking, and that’s why we’re telling you this is one artist you definitely oughta know! With many high profile covers and celebrities Tweeting their praise for Gotye, we’re thinking that the hype train has only just departed the station, and will pick up speed as Gotye launches his 2012 US tour (including a performance at Coachella and a stop at our NYC headquarters next week) with his “Somebody That I Used To Know” collaborator, Kimbra.
Finding fame when their song “Beauty’s Running Wild” was featured in an episode of CSI: New York, closely followed by another of their tracks, “Heart On Fire,” being chosen as the lead song on the current season of Grey’s Anatomy, Scars On 45 are now VH1′s featured You Oughta Know artist. So if you’ve been wondering who was responsible for the great songs on your favorite TV shows, well, now you know!
Last month, Scars On 45 released their video for “Heart On Fire,” which you can watch above. The song itself is romantic and moody, and will resonate with anyone who’s ever been in love. The video is a dramatic combination of smoke and blue-lit black ground, interspersed with gripping imagery of firemen rescuing victims from a burning building. With their first full length album set to drop this year, we’re excited to see more epic videos to accompany the band’s pervasive sounds. And we were lucky enough to have Scars On 45 pop into the VH1 studios to play live last year, as they moved us with their stripped down performance of Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” Scars On 45 imbibed the club banger with an altogetherly different vibe, truly making it their own with nothing but the lyrics tying their rendition to the original.
We’re excited to let you know that VH1 You Oughta Know artist Ximena Sarinana will be performing via live stream tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET. The live stream will be an intimate experience with the Mexican singer-songwriter, a dream for fans and newcomers alike. With many of our You Oughta Know artists moving on to big things (like Grammy nominations), this is a special event you don’t want to miss — get on board with Ximena Sarinana so you can say you always loved her when she becomes a household name!
You can watch the live stream here at 1pm EST on Tuesday December 13.
VH1′s You Oughta Know Artist, Scars On 45, stopped by the VH1 headquarters recently to play a short set of songs for us. We’re brimming with excitement to have the British quintet join our You Oughta Know stable, as we’ve been loving their new EP, Heart On Fire. The band was formed by former professional soccer player Danny Bemrose after an injury sidelined him from the game, and his new career direction is off to an incredible start. Scars On 45 have already had their songs featured on hit TV shows like CSI: New York, Grey’s Anatomy, and One Tree Hill, and their debut LP is set to be released sometime in early 2012. With a certain sincerity, Scars On 45′s sentimental brand of music embraces both the bleeding heart and classic rock, with an earthiness that speaks to the elemental qualities of the natural environment of their homeland in England.
During their stripped down set here in the heart of Times Square, between their endearing banter and heartfelt performances of their own songs, the band took a moment to cover Rihanna and Calvin Harris‘ number one smash, “We Found Love”. Admitting to the audience that they’d forgotten the words to the song when performing it live in concert the night before, Scars On 45 seemed confident regardless, and although they expressed a giggly trepidation, they took on Rihanna’s dance anthem head-on and didn’t miss a beat. However, Scars On 45′s rendition was no dance anthem — quite the opposite really, pairing a guitar-led, folksy sound with Rihanna’s lyrics, giving the song a completely new dimension. Pared back, slow and melodic, the song, but for the words, was barely discernible from the original, taking on a new, powerfully romantic poignancy. The rest of Scars On 45′s live performance will be coming soon, and we’ve got plenty of more whimsy where this came from!