6 Music Artists to Watch in 2018


While 2017 felt like living in spiritual foreclosure—I blame the bleak combo of auto tuned, ‘makin-my-ears bleed Trap Music + man-baby Donald Trump—2018 is already teeming up to be the most exciting year in music yet!

The following are the comers, your next gen ⭐️ STAHHHH’s ⭐️ the gilded young music artists to watch in 2018 and the talent level is M-I-N-D B-L-O-W-I-N-G!

2018 Ones to Watch

Allan Rayman

Photo: Zack Vitello

Wyoming native, man-of-mystery Allan Rayman is an artist playing by his own rules in terms of the frequency & form of his releases, music videos that play like short films, and his absolute disinterest in the publicity machine. In February 2017, he released a full album Roadhouse 1 [Communion Records] and then in November 2017 released a 5 track EP titled Courtney. His track “13” from Roadhouse 1 was certified GOLD in Canada (he now calls Toronto home) and he’s racked up over 50 million+ streams on Spotify. If you like his growl-y, raspy vocal, you will easily listen to his full album in one sitting, which is as you can appreciate is a lost art in 2018. Like so many contemporary young artists, Rayman is absolutely GENRE-LESS comfortably mixing everything from R&B, Soul and Hip Hop influences together as he is Roadhouse, Grunge, Rock and Folk.

Snack on this sexy Led Zepp paced track “Gun” from his Courtney EP…and try and catch one of his live shows in 2018.

Billie Eilish

16-year-old Billie Eilish is a dancer and singer-songwriter pop prodigy from Los Angeles who has been putting her music online since she was 13-years-old. Along with her older brother Finneas O’Connol who acts as her co-writer and producer, their dreamy track Ocean Eyes was originally released on SoundCloud and eventually led to her being signed by Interscope Records.

Her EP Don’t Smile at Me was released in Aug 2017 and she is the youngest talent to ever be nominated for the BBC’s Sound of Poll. Her upcoming international tour starting on January 27th, is 95% SOLD OUT barring a handful of dates. She will be in Montreal at Theatre Corona on March 27th, and Toronto at The Mod Club on March 28th, and ‘yes‘ both shows are sold out.  

Jesse Reyes

Columbian Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Jessie Reyes launched her emotionally raw EP Kiddo [Island Records] in 2017, and gave a goose bump inducing TV debut performance on Jimmy Fallon. Her voice is so beautifully feral as she wades through tear-your-heart-out ballads, R&B and Hip Hop inspired Pop. Her track “Gatekeeper” detailed via a short film  how she was sexually harassed by a music producer 5 years ago, pulling back the curtain on the #MeToo movement in the music industry. Expect to see 26-year-old Torontonian’s full length debut album come out in 2018, and catch her European tour from February until June 2018. 

Jorja Smith

20-year-old Jorja Smith has been riding a supernova wave of success based solely on a handful of releases over the past two years. The Walsall England singer whose been compared to Amy Winehouse doesn’t even have an EP out, nor a major label recording contract and yet, she’s worked with everyone from Drake to Bruno Mars. Most notably she has won the ultra coveted 2018 Brits Critics Choice Award (former winners include Adele, Florence and the Machine + Sam Smith) was added to the Coachella ‘s 2018 lineup, and will be on her own North American tour until May.


Lewis Capaldli

Lewis Capaldi is a 21-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter and musician from Edinburgh, who channels (IMHO) a bit of Irish singer Hozier’s vibe. His fiery growl and lyricism cuts deep through your heartstrings with mature themes of longing, heartbreak and devastation. He is currently on the BBC Sound of 2018 Long List and will most certainly become a recognizable name in 2018 as he embarks on a new North American tour with loads of UK/US/European and Asian festival gigs on the horizon. I can’t decide which track I like better off his EP Bloom [Capitol/Virgin] Bruises or Fade? Can you?


24-year-old Maségo is a self taught multi instrumentalist (piano, saxophone, drums) an accomplished producer and singer-songwriter whose unique brand of hip-hop, soul and trap house jazz has fans comparing him to Pharrell and the legendary Cab Calloway. Born in Jamaica and brought up in Norfolk Virginia, Maségo put out an independent EP Loose Thoughts on SoundCloud in 2016, garnering him international acclaim and an enormous word of mouth fan base. He doesn’t have an official website, but he is extremely active on his Instagram and Twitter where he just recently announced that he’s working on his first official album for 2018!

No doubt there will be a label bidding war over this extremely talented artist!

In the next gen stars of music we trust,




March 2017 Where to Go + What to See/Hear Pop Culture Consumables Guide


Who among us isn’t a quasi shut-in during the bleakest month of February—spooning ones cat as if she/he/non-identifying/were your emotional LIFE RAFT + the only reason to get out of bed in the morning to face the overwhelming dark sludge of ones existence?

Ohhh, just me? *clears throat nervously


**MARCH** is the most opportune month to reinvigorate your POP CULTURE diet and get up to speed on all of the latest need-to-know releases & cool hunter happenings!

It’s time to STOKE that inner fire leave the darkest recesses of my duvet & pillow fort as the world around me you begins to thaw for the coming spring!


The Montreal en Lumiere festival is continuing on until March 11th and **TONIGHT** is Nuit Blanche—a culturally edifying array of guided tours, workshops, installations, parties, performance art, gastronomy and films just to name a few! Open until 3am, there is a king’s ransom of stimulating and inspiring offerings (over 200 FREE activities!) adroitly sprinkled across Montreal in an easy-to-navigate landscape. This year Nuit Blanche has joined forces with Montreal’s 375th Anniversary for an “Expo 67” themed evening of programming that is sure to add a memorable dimension to the annual indoor/outdoor event.

Dress warm kittens, ’cause baby it’s cold outside!


The Chainsmokers

Grammy award-winning artist/producer duo The Chainsmokers (how cu-uuute is Drew Taggart?!) have been dropping Hansel + Gretyl-esque musical bread crumbs over the past year like “Closer” and most recently “Paris.” Finally, their debut album Memories Do Not Open [Columbia] is set to release April 7th, and will feature “Paris” as well as 10 additional never-before-heard tracks from the hit making duo. 


I feel like I may have willed this next one as I have been dreaming of a NEW Jamiroquai album forevs?! Ok fyyne, I don’t have that much power but Jay Kay is BACK after a 7 year absence and according to the response on my Instagram, the world is COLLECTIVELY thrilled by this! Ok, FYYYNE, just 65 of mainly my friends but whose counting? Be sure to download the e-n-t-i-r-e Automation [Virgin/EMI] album when it drops on March 31st, like any good 90’s kid would do.

…I can’t for the life of me control the rest of you impatient millennial maniacs!




On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Simmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye. Nobody has heard from him, save for a recorded telephone interview he had with TODAY’s show Savannah Guthrie about a year ago. Missing Richard Simmons follows documentarian (and former Daily Show producer) Dan Taberski as he tries to piece together CSI-style what happened to the famed fitness guru. The six-episode (so far) podcast which has reached #1 on the charts has gripped listeners but I think it’s all “a bunch of horse pucky”—something Simmons would totally say, at least in public. Apparently behind the scenes he has quite the potty-mouth.


The man gave us his glorious lubed up legs and 24-7 glittery gay-enthusiasm for decades—all-the-while concealing his own lifetime battle with depression. Can’t we let him have some WELL DESERVED alone time without making him into an absolute mockery?

For SHAME people, For SHHHHHAME!


*But listen to the podcast anyway, cause its ‘hella entertaining.


Sleeping Reading is truly one of my life’s greatest joys. Here are 2 spanking new reads to stimulate ‘yo synapses for the month of March.  

One Day None We’ll All Be Dead and None of this Will Matter [Doubleday Canada] is a collection of brilliant essays by Canadian Buzz Feed editor Scaachi Koul. And just because that holier-than-thou “real journalist” smarty-pants would never deign to follow me back on Twitter, I can still take the high road and give praise where it’s due. *Curtsey.

Whispers… “what. a. thunder. c**t.

South and West [Penguin Random House] is penned by none other than THE Joan Didion and details her account of a visit to New Orleans back in the 1970’s. Both non fiction titles are available on March 7th at my favourite place in the world besides my own bed, Chapters Indigo.



Toronto friendsicles: (I’m bi-provincial if you didn’t know), you must attend this ONE DAY ONLY cereal pop-up café—CEREAL BOX CAFÉ on March 10th, at 867 Dundas, St W Toronto, ON

Between the hours of 5-10pm you can choose from some of your favourite childhood or adulting cereals, some unknown international flavours “Chocella from France anyone?,” toppings akin to the ones found at your favorite frogurt spot, and AND your choice of 8 different types of milk including STRAWBERRY!?!?

Don’t dare miss it!


Comedian Dave Chapelle flexed his comedic A-game on his debut SNL appearance back in November 2016—raking in the seasons highest ratings (6.2 million viewers).  A day later I tweeted that Chapelle should “get his own show back” and that this time he would definitely take the $50 million that he famously gave up in 2005 before fleeing to Africa.

Even better than I predicted, Chapelle was offered $60 million for three separate hour-long Netflix specials. The first two of said specials—Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin were already pre-taped shows done in 2015 and 2016. They both premiere on Netflix on March 21st and here’s a video preview.

No word on the yet-to-be-taped all new 3rd special, but you will hear about it here first, so stay tuned!


So there you have it, some of the latest cool-quotient consumables for the month of March.

Now thread that pop culture needle lover heads!


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My Leonard Cohen Article…RIP Open Hearted Poet.

I was lucky enough to interview Leonard Cohen 15 years ago in person at the Hotel Vogue in Montreal. 

For well over an hour we talked freely while smoking Vantage cigarettes (his) and drinking wine in his hotel room.

This was a man that made smoking look elegant and almost spiritual.

These kind of exclusive opportunities simply do not take place in 2016. The time, the access, and the personal generosity simply does not happen in music interviews any longer. Might I remind you this took place—as have all of my most cherished interviews before smart phones or “selfies” were ever part of our communal lexicon. 

While we were winding down the interview Leonard Cohen, THE LEONARD COHEN, suggested I get in touch with his “single” son Adam Cohen who spent his time between Montreal and Los Angeles. He gave me Adam’s number and told me he would give Adam a “head’s up” that I was calling. I looked at Leonard and said “Leonard Cohen thinks I’m good enough for his son? Can I call you dad?” He looked at me and chuckled.

I got Adam’s LA answering machine when I called the next day and I left a baffled/shy message that went something along these lines…”Um, hi Adam? My name Renee Gold and I just interviewed your dad, and he gave me your number…” I felt like an idiot leaving it! I soon found out through common friends that Adam (unbeknownst to Leonard) was in a new relationship in LA, with I believe the mother of his son Cassius. I never got a call back from him, but I LOVE the memory and the gesture of Leonard Cohen trying to fix me up with his son. 

Here is my short article that was published in Elle Canada Magazine.



RIP Leonard Cohen. Thank you for your prolific poetry, words, and music.


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Lady Gaga Joanne Review; a couple of hits, many misses.


First off can I just say that I think Lady Gaga is one of the most singular sounding, indefatigable musical artists out there? She’s an incredibly powerful singer and a highly skilled musician (piano, guitar, drums and keytar).  

I need to say this as I’m about to give her latest studio album Joanne [Interscope] a lukewarm-ish review—and in doing so it hurts me more than it will ever hurt her.

Some critics think that Ga-Ga’s experimental take on genre hopping on Joanne is a tad gimmicky, but I disagree. Everyone from Bob Dylan to David Bowie (who Gaga tributed so beautifully at last years Grammy’s) both have a long history of throwing complacency to the wind and experimenting up the yin yang—so I’m all for it. Especially, in Gaga’s case where I feel an authenticity to every genre she experiments with here, like country/western for instance. She’s an enigmatic artist and were not necessarily supposed to be able solve this musical jigsaw, or even ‘get it’ for that matter. That’s the beauty of Gaga’s art.

The good news is that Joanne, a popcowboydancesoulfunkfolkrock mash-up boasts some incredible takeaway hits.

The problem issaid hits” were released to the public in promotional succession before the album even dropped?

Tis’ true, that some could argue and by some I mean ME, that Perfect Illusion, A Million Reasons and A-YO are the best of what the album has to offer.

In other words, “Joannepeaked early.

THAT’S A FILTHY LIE!I can hear legions of Little Monsters spewing vitriol in my psychic direction.

Well, instead of tap dancing around the square footage of this review, let’s go through the album offerings at a glance.

Diamond Heart

For the first 30 odd seconds of this track, I’m convinced I’m listening to Stevie Nicks herself until Gaga, ever-the- chameleon soon transitions from a tumbleweed country rasp into her familiar dramatic vocals. I really like Diamond Heart.  It’s a song that begs for a film soundtrack to pick it up immediately, as I can see the synesthesia colours and scenes that it lends itself to. A great song to play loudly on the open road. 


A-YO is a fun clappity-clap pop track with an infectious chorus that brings to mind Footloose or the Coyote Ugly film. Again a great song to drive to or dance to on the top of a bar, if the kids even do that anymore?


In another departure for Gaga, she takes on a 60’s folk/rock persona in the songs first 30 seconds (again!), before she switches off into what I now see as a Stevie Nicks copycat vocal. The song, a dearly departed love letter to her aunt for whom she was named after is both heartbreaking and lovely. It’s a pretty tune, that may just be the only other stand out song on the album besides Diamond Heart—but again that is subject to your taste level. It’s a simple song both lyrically and in melody, and I’m not convinced its truly memorable despite its overwhelming beauty.

John Wayne

I won’t mince words. I don’t like this country head banger.

Dancin’ in Circles

With a “La Isla Bonita” sounding swagger and reggae guitar plucking’s, Gaga sings in various styles, including a Gwen Stefani baby-doll spoken word verse. It’s got a classic Gaga feel and is sure to be a fan favourite, but I could take it or leave it.

Perfect Illusion

The 1st of her album pre released singles, Perfect Illusion has a signature theatrical 80’s rock feel. I love the way she words the chorus lyrics, singing “perfect illoooosion.” Again, it has a classic Gaga sound and feel and was a great first release to encapsulate the album.

A Million Reasons

By far my favourite track on the album. Written with singer-songwriter Hillary Lindsey who also does those gorgeous  background vocals—I can’t say enough about this song. It’s a timeless ballad that introduces us to her country tinged scratchy vocal, that reminds me so much of Bruce Springsteen’s wife—Patti Scialfa. In fact a dream performance would be to see Lady Gaga, Patti Scialfa, Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Nicks in a foursome circle, harmonizing us all to a heavenly crescendo. Grammy’s 2018 get on THIS! This really could be her signature concert encore song going forward à la Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive or Prince’s Purple Rain. To me its THAT timeless. A song that begs to be heard on a perma-loop play, courtesy of iPhone ear buds so it sinks into your soul.

Sinners Prayer

A HARD PASS on this country ditty.

Come to Mama

A derivative, Beatlesque-sounding tune that could have easily been a song from Hair Spray the Musical. It travels along the familiar GAGA trajectory of being an open-armed all-accepting MAMA Monster to her die-hard fans who have often felt marginalized. It would be fun for a flash mob, but I won’t miss it if I were to never hear it again.

Hey Girl

I had high hopes for this girl bonding duet between Gaga and one of my favourite artists Florence Welch. I loved it until after the first chorus, especially Welch’s singular brocade vocals that really peak when she sings “Hey Girl” in an upper register. As for Gaga, she sounds like a dead ringer for mid 70’s Diana Ross, as she again—morphs into another performance persona. A dizzying synth NOISE is introduced by producer Mark Ronson right after the first chorus and comes back in a screeching/nauseating way, that takes away from this song. In the end, I feel like Hey Girl, goes on a little too long, and becomes loopy sounding like a spinning record with a slight warp. It’s a must listen, either way.

Tell me that’s NOT vintage Diana Ross singing as Gaga sings us out on that last verse? WILLLLD!

Angel Down

An operatic ode to Trayvon Martin and the rampant shootings that have plagued the US in recent years. I wish I liked it, because I love the message, but it’s not something I’d want to listen to again. Perhaps its just to painful?

Grigio Girls

A cute, pared down acoustic song that speaks to sisterhood and female empowerment, but it didn’t speak to me.

Just Another Day

A simple piano plucking Broadway ditty that will please her fan base, but made me want to soft shoe the hell outta there.

Angel Down (Work Tape) 

I believe this is the original recording of Angel Down with little background music, but I didn’t like it the first time, so no thanks?

Back to her dive bar roots, Lady Gaga performs Joanne at the Bitter End on the eve of October 20th, 2016.

So there you have it, a mixed bag of eclectic offerings and yet I am only enamoured with 1 song. It will absolutely be music to her LOYAL fan base’s ears, and very well may be a slow burn that we will look back on DECADES from now as a MUSICAL GENIUS departure, but in this moment I say with great lament…

Move on, there’s nothing to see here.

We will always have a MILLION REASONS Tho’…


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Billboard Music Awards Recap; The Good, The Bad, The Kanye Inferno

billboard-music-awards-2014 I won’t mince words here, (do I ever?!) EVERYONE knows the Billboard’s aren’t like a REAL awards show, but rather a televised advertorial for the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, n’est pas? Sure the Billboard charts are a ‘thing’, but the awards show are based on a sketchy Cuisinart mixture of chart ranking and social media channel popularity (?!)—which does not necessarily always equal to QUALITY talent?! I mean the Kardashians are all gorgeous unicorns that look like Bratz dolls, surebut can they really string a sentence together without cue cards and days of speech therapy coaching?


I mean Prince only has 5k followers on his Twitter (to his credit his team just got back on days ago, he doesn’t really pander to such constructs), so what would that mean to the Billboards?! And Prince is the most talented musician, singer, entertainer allllllllllive today! He’s my generations Beyoncé, that is if Beyoncé could play EVERY instrument every created, write all her music and produce it all as well; *I still love you B. Also, as was noted Prince wasn’t at the Billboards—and he was at all the real major awards show this year as he released 2 new albums, so his absence is the only litmus test you need to understand how RANDO the Billboard awards really are.

But as long as we are all here. Let’s go over some of the Highlights (and low low lights) of last nights Show Stoppah!

Balmain creative director Olivier Rouseteing announced a H&M Collab for November on the red carpet with model Jourdan Dunn and the least annoying unicorn sporting a sneak peak of the collection. image

It’s always a pleasure to see J LO on the red carpet sporting a dress made from panty hose and expertly placed sequins?! I’m so not hatingJLO is a force of NATURE! She has somehow beat le aging? I mean, all of us, are getting jowly, crêpey and pudgier by the minute, but JLO looks better on the cusp of 46 than most 20 year olds?! She is absolutely flawless! Her nose should be on display at a museum, it’s that magnificent.


Her Secret? Great Genetics. No Drank. No Drugs. LUXURY (you can’t afford it) HAIR WEAVE.

Another great moment was when Molly Ringwald an 80’s pop culture icon, came up on the stage to announce the 30 anniversary of the Breakfast Club. She then went on to announce the incredible coincidence that Simple Minds chart topping hit Don’t You Forget About Me, was released (yesterday or today!?). Here she is announcing their performance. I was in a full body suit of goose bumps. It looked exactly like J Lo’s DRESS!

*I particularly loved the shots of T Swift and Molly Ringwald being faux besties and pretending they’re ever going to see each other again after this awards show!? It was adorable.

Next up Taylor Swift wins artist of the year, and I would have given her the award simply BASED on that Balmain white jumpsuit alone?! It perfectly showed off her BANGING bod, sky-high legs and her new set of Pokémon sized titty sacks! F-L-A-W-L-E-S-S! *I truly am a fan of hers, musically and otherwise.


Lastly the Unicorns (and Kylie Jenners Lips) announced (to a thrum of BOO’s) their brother-in-law Kanye West’s performance. They even referred to him as a DR. (blech) cause some lame suck-up University gave him a doctorate in Art last week after he managed to color inside all the lines of a paint by numbers photo of….HIMSELF. *I made that up, but admit it, it was goooooood. Kanye’s self-importance was on DEFCON high alert as per usual in some sort of pyro juvenile mess of a performance. Thankfully most of it was bleeped out by the censors, and the optics were one awful blurry inferno and again, that was a good thing.


Kanye Really Knows How to Play for a Crowd…?

It was selfish, indulgent, poorly executed and I could have simply stared at my own fireplace for a better show. Kanye: PLEASE GO AWAY, and take the UNICORNS with you?

Keep real music ALIVE Y’all,


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Musical Concierge; What 3 New Albums Would You Suggest to a Stranger?

I was talking to a relative stranger today, and we struck up a conversation about writing and music. This stranger, in his early 50’s—was telling me about his career as a photographer and writer and we were trading war stories on how the creative industries have changed dramatically just in the last decade. I explained to said stranger, that in a former life, I was actually a busy music journalist who, when enough balls were in the air, could actually make a living from my written pursuits. I explained to him how I used to get an hour in person with the likes of artists like Lenny Kravitz, Gwen Stefani and a newcomer named ‘Adele’. Today, if you’re lucky, you get a 10-15 minute phone conversation max that is the intimacy equivalent of making love while wearing a hazmat suit. Today, if you want to sustain oneself  in a creative industry like entertainment writing, you have to diversify like never before—double the balls in the air, spinning plates on sticks, and a steady day job if you plan on paying the bills. While the internet has certainly giveth, it also has taketh away publishing opportunities on and off-line. With bloggers now in the mix, the market is saturated and the competition as fierce as ever.

Said stranger asked me to suggest some music for him to listen to, explaining that he was completely out of the loop with new music and had “no idea” what to listen to. Not really having a grasp on his tastes, I suggested he get the last Alabama Shakes album and told him that a new one was coming out in April. I then suggested Lake Street Dive and to round it out Hozier’s album. He listened to a few tracks on his iPhone in front of me and thought all three were excellent suggestions. This got me thinking dear readers; what current 3 albums would YOU suggest to a stranger you just met? Suggestions that despite gender, age or a detailed list of their psychographics—that said stranger would be sure to LOVE!

I’m thinking there might be something to this musical concierge thing?

Let me know your 3 album (yes, a-l-b-u-m-s!) picks!

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Iggy Azalea


Photo: Louie Banks

She’s the hottest female-rapper of le moment, teaming up with the likes of Ariana Grande, Rita Ora, and most recently J.Lo just to name a few. Her album The New Classic [Virgin/EMI] broke the record for the most weeks at Number One for a female rapper with hits like “Work” + “Fancy.”

Born Amethyst Amelia Kelly, here’s 10 things you didn’t know about the Australian export with oodles of moxieIggy Azalea.

1. First things first she’s the Realest


She maintains that her bum is REAL. She candidly admits she went for laser treatments to get rid of stretch marks on her famous derrier—but was taken aback when the dr. was squeezing her bum to see if it was fake. “I was slightly insulted!”

2. She used to get teased about her famous Beauty Marks. 


 “Kids used to call me ‘Moley‘ when I was younger so I was [self-conscious]. I like them now.”

3. Sun is a No-No


She is extremely “sun conscious” and uses an umbrella to cover her from the sun. She also uses natural products like beeswax and honey on her skin as well.

4. She Shares the Same Birthday as Prince

Both artists were born on June 7th. Iggy says she has “the typical ‘split-personality of a Gemini’ but also “has a touchy-feely sensitive side as well.” 

5. She Goes *Deep*

Iggy practices meditation and has done multiple sessions of hypnotherapy. “It helps to change how you react to certain things in your past or present. It doesn’t rewrite memories, but helps you to look at them in a different way.”

6. She Feels Older Than Her Years

I feel like I crammed in a few more years  in than the average [early] 20-year-old. I’ve been on my own since 16. I see some people my age and our experiences are different.”

7. She wasn’t always so ‘Fancy…’

Walking in her Louboutins...

Walking in her Louboutins…

Before she walked “a mile in her Louboutins,”  very early on in her career she rapped about Steve Madden shoes, thinking that they were [one of the most] expensive shoes on the market. “The line went ‘these Steve Madden’s are so exclusive...”

Steve Madden + Iggy Azalea Partner Up

Steve Madden + Iggy Azalea Partner Up

* Incidentally Iggy and Steve Madden are creating a shoe line together to be released in February 2015.

8. She Prefers to be ‘Off the Grid’


She thinks message boards and negative press are “so unhealthy and damaging” so she unplugs as much as she can. She specifically vacationed at the exclusive Jade Mountain at Anse Chastanet in St Lucia, because of their no TV, Internet or Telephone policy.

9. She understands why some people might think she’s just a gimmick (*which she isn’t.)

 “All cultures have double standards. It’s all in how you deal with it. If you understand where it stems from, you can forgive it.

10. She Digs Nas


He’s truly an intellectual who doesn’t act like he’s better than anyone else. He’s a real artist—I look up to him.”

Here’s Looking at You IGGY,


The Pop Culture Rainman™

Prince Can We Talk? No, REALLY…Can We?

The 1st time I appeared on stage with Prince was on March 29th, 1993 at the original Montreal Forum. Little did I know this would mark the beginning of a trifecta of onstage appearances with Prince in concert, spread out economically—decades apart. Back in ’93 Prince was going by this new stage name:  — a sign that combined both male + female symbols with what many fans regarded as a horn seen cutting across. The phonetic version of said unpronounceable moniker soon became ‘The Artist Formerly Known As…’ courtesy of befuddled journalists trying to make sense of it all. This was the tour to promote the new Love Symbol record, Prince’s 2nd album to feature his newish backing group, The New Power Generation.

My ensemble for the concert was a navy blue snap-crotch body suit (they were all the rage at the time) and a pair of red denim boot cut jeans. I can’t recall my footwear, but I had hideous taste in shoes during my early twenties, usually cumbersome attention-begging pieces—all style (and that’s debatable) zero substance.

My Early 90’s Footwear. Yeesh.

The  show was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Prince’s energy and showmanship was other-level phenom—the music, the outfits the d-a-n-c-i-n-g! Mayte, Prince’s then-girlfriend was his latest muse, and she was absolutely **electrifying** to watch at she gyrated, belly danced and hip-hopped her way across the stage. I didn’t think I would take to her as I was an enormous fan of Prince’s former dancing + rapping protégée CAT—but it was clear that Prince, an agent of change, knew what he was doing. This was incidentally my 1st time seeing Prince in concert, although I had been a devoted fan since December 31st, 1982. I was ten-years-old and staying at the Marco Polo Hotel with my family on Christmas break. It was New Years Eve and although I wasn’t allowed in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, the double doors were wide open exposing my senses to a glittery 80’s mise-en-scene that was permanently etched into my mind’s eye. The DJ played Prince’s song ‘1999 at midnight and I started to dance outside those doors in a way I had never done before. The fat, gristly sound of that drum machine, the layered keyboard synthesizers and that electric guitar riff! I was forever changed in that one moment.

But back to my 1st time on stage with Prince in concert.

Prince + The New Power Generation


So there I was, a couple of rows up from the floor in the reds, stage left—perfect seats! About midway through the concert members of the NPG started to randomly pull audience members up onto the stage. Without hesitation,(nor apparent concern for the safety of others) I aggressively flung myself over the rows and onto the floor, clawing to have one of the members hoist me up.

And one did.

The adrenaline rush that surged throughout my body as I looked out into the massive sold-out crowd was mind-blowing. There were about 10 fans pulled on stage in total, all dancing in a benignly complacent semi-circle of sorts. As for myself I was like a terrier on a speed ball, running all over the stage, maniacally jumping up and down and waving at my friends in the crowd. The last moment I remember was running over to Prince, grabbing his hand and kissing it, before being ushered off the stage like a crazed lunatic. I recall Prince looking apologetic at Mayte after I kissed his hand as if to say “sorry honey” as if my unsolicited hand-kiss had soiled the purity of his commitment to her somehow?

The Way They Were…The ‘Artist’ + Mayte


The 2nd time I appeared on stage with Prince was even more exciting as the odds for doing so were literally stacked against me. It was July 6th, 2001 and Prince was playing 1 night only at Place Des Arts for Montreal’s famed Jazz Festival. I’m not sure if his appearance was a last-minute thing or not, but a group of my friends and I were abysmally late on procuring tickets. As we settled into our seats, an enormous weight of despair overtook me. Being that we were in the third balcony in the last row of seats, I might as well have been in space for this performance. Prince started off with an entirely new repertoire showing off his freestyle and impromptu jazz skills. It was tortuous to watch him from this far up—this particular 1st set is regarded to-date as one of his most coveted for bootleg copies. During the intermission, I had an unwavering sense that I would in fact be on stage with Prince that night. I was telling everyone this despite the fact that I was currently watching Prince from another planet in my nose-bleeders. I just kept on repeating it over and over—until I think I REALLY believed it! As we all sat back in our seats and the lights came up for the 2nd set, and the music swelled, I looked at my pals in last row lane and said “Later guys! I can’t do this anymore! The view is too painful from up here.”

It was a kinetic pull if there ever was one, as I started my descent like Moses coming down from the mountain, guided by Prince’s singing—like a compass! It was through crafty manoeuvering, and sheer chance that I ended up sneaking into the 2nd floor and then finally the back of the 1st floor. This venue had built-in seats, so every space is accounted for and security was tight. I somehow managed to weasel myself to the front of stage left as many people were now standing and dancing as opposed to sitting passively for the experimental 1st set. Like kismet, not 5 minutes into reveling in pure bliss due to my approximation to Prince, did he start to pull ladies up on stage! I went into a hyper-physical state of arms-a-flailing, jumping up and down sending waves of desperation into Prince’s air space. I was the human version of a blinking neon sign as he grabbed my hand and members of the audience helped to hoist me up on stage like I were a city monument. I was one of 4 ladies pulled up on stage. One girl was dressed head-to-toe Rhythm Nation black, except with a belly baring crop top and a on her baseball cap. Another girl was dressed, I’m not kidding, EXACTLY like me!? We were both wearing a white one shoulder tank top with light faded blue jeans. Being that we were both brunettes, the audience must have thought that we were part of the show!

Me noticing that someone was taking my picture in the front row! Smiling for the camera!

Me noticing that someone was taking my picture in the front row! Smiling for the camera!

With such clarity, I recall hearing the opening beats to ‘Housequake‘ starting to play and I thought I was going to lose my mind from excitement! Just as I leaned in to show this crowd + Prince how great my dance game was, I noticed someone in the first row was snapping my photo? As I took a 2nd glance, I realised it was a friend from Los Angeles I had made earlier that month who was in town producing a Ben Affleck movie. I couldn’t believe my luck! This was pre cell phones and digital cameras era. What were the chances that I would know anyone in the front row, let alone someone with a handy camera in tow! My side-show twin and I got so close to Prince and we were all dancing just inches from one another. She did some sort of desperado back-bend how-low-can-you-go limbo disaster as I just free-styled. I looked wayyyy cooler. Way.

 Getting Down with Prince. *Click to see larger + ‘scuse the blur!

Thinking that nothing could top this moment, someone in the band passed me a gorgeous black + gold tambourine and I was allowed to stay on stage for another ENTIRE song. I was slapping that thing on every orifice on my body and just relishing in this unicorn fantasy of a moment.  

 Shake, Shake, Shakin’ + Slappin’ that Tambourine Bottom Right Hand

After the song ended I was being ushered off stage, waving to my friends in the last row balcony and smiling THINKING that I would be able to keep the tambourine. And just like that with deft security-detail precision, a stage-hand ripped it from my hands as soon as I hit backstage—the timing perfectly executed! I swear I wouldn’t have sold it on eBay, but instead spooned it nightly in bed! Womp, Womp! Back on the floor, but barely back to earth, I listened in the after-glow as Prince played ‘Purple Rain.’ As always it was nothing short of a religious, cosmic experience. The audience chiming in on the melody, the never-ending meditative loop of his hypnotic wailing guitar. I was dizzy with gratitude and bursting with love. This was a magical, serendipitous night I would never forget.


The 3rd time I was on stage with Prince was incidentally my 4th time seeing him. His 2-night engagement was on June 24th + 25th 2011 at Montreal’s club Metropolis during the Jazz Festival. I attended the 2nd night, but to my knowledge he did not pull anyone up on stage both nights. It would have been too dangerous as it was standing room only and packed to the gills—fans sardined up all the way to the stage. I believe the concert lasted well after 3am (for 4 HOURS!) as Prince cooed “I can stay up all night!” Prince closed off with ‘Purple Rain,’ as I joined in on a communal gospel with the whole club singing as one, on what always feels like a spiritual rite of passage.


But I digress, if its even possible my 3rd appearance on stage with Prince, trumped them all. Barely 6 months later, on December 2nd, 2011 at the Montreal Bell Centre. I was 1st row reds, perfectly adjacent to Prince’s runway portion of his theatre-in-the-round ‘Love Symbol’ stage. I was smack-dab to the right of the female portion of the symbol, and had free rein to go on the floor, albeit prudently outside my seat.

Prince's electric Love Symbol stage.

Prince’s electric Love Symbol stage.

Further inward were the VIP seats, spread out in all corners of the floor with private bar tables + stools. I was technically not allowed in that area…but since when does the word ‘no‘ stop me when it comes to my IDOL Prince sang ‘Purple Rain’ fairly early on in the performance, beginning by talking over those famed chords saying; “I never get tired of playing this song for you…” and I’m insta-covered in head-to-toe goose bumps. The initiated in the audience chime in with the higher-register “Ooh, Ooh, Ooh,” even before Prince starts off his 1st verse. It  feels like a slow IV drip of musical prayer when Prince utters those first words “I Never Meant to Cause You Any Sorrow…” White sheets are cascading down from the ceiling and sparkly confetti is falling magically on my head. En masse, the audience sings the chorus, the musical quivers of his guitar mastery howling over and over. Prince sings “Ooh, Ooh, Ooh,” in an octave so high—car alarms are probably going off in the parking lot. I’ve always said you have not LIVED until you have heard Prince sing ‘Purple Rain’ LIVE.  #Truth. If that weren’t transformative enough, Prince ended off by throwing one of his guitar picks into the audience, one that landed right in front of me on the floor which I quickly scooped up!

I'll Never Part with the Pick!

I’ll Never Part with the Pick!

You can’t write a better ending…but alas there’s more. The rest I will let be told via this radio interview I did the ‘morning after’ on CJAD radio with Andrew Carter.  

*N.B. I was off on the date of my 1st appearance on stage + I say I grabbed the microphone when Prince actually handed it to me, unexpectedly! Also, that picture in the video audio interview is in fact ME in full spotlight, microphone in hand belting out KISS while Prince is shrouded in darkness?!?! It feels illegal to possess such a photo. But I’m so thankful for the internet. Both pictures were sent to me afterwards! I called my mother right after the concert. Nothing was ever ‘real‘ until I told her 1st—despite having an entire stadium audience and my friends bear witness. She was going through Chemo, and this was one of the first times I had heard her giggle in what felt like a lifetime. Whhhat? He let you sing? I don’t believe it. Actually with you I can,” she said in her gentle voice. Fourteen months later the Cancer had spread to my mothers brain. In her 1st week in palliative, I spontaneously told her that I was “going to interview Prince.”  Still very lucid, she simply said “that’s wonderful,” knowing how much I adored him. Little did she know I didn’t have an assignment or an actual locked-down interview. I blurted it out through nerves, wanting her to know that life was going to move on just fine for me, sensing how worried she was about leaving her three daughters—despite us all being well into adulthood. I wanted to placate her somehow. Give her permission to go. This was my way, even though, I think I really believed it when I said it. It felt more dire than ever to put this plan into motion after witnessing the death of the person I was closest to in this lifetime. Life is precious and short. We need to put the wheels in motion to make all of our dreams come true. This is MINE. I was formerly a full time music journalist for almost fifteen years, interviewing the likes of Leonard Cohen, Gwen Stefani, Sheryl Crow, Lenny Kravitz, Adele and Chuck D. Iggy Azalea was my most recent, but my writing career is not what it once was, nor are the opportunities to get published—part of the impetus to start my online blog + brand. I still do the occasional freelance music interview but without question. Prince has always been my one DREAM interview ‘get’. He’s probably the most elusive artist to land and rarely grants them. I’ve always felt I could conduct a better interview than many of the ones I’ve seen him sit for, ask questions I’ve never heard him answer before. Perhaps all of his interviews are heavily vetted beforehand, the kibosh placed upon verboten topics—and I would certainly respect that. So here is my plea. I know you speak mainly through your music, but Prince…Can We Talk? I know all the rules; no cameras, no audio devices, no pen + paper. I promise not to fall to your feet in slushy adulation nor gawp at you, and I will fight every instinct to burst into tears. I promise not to ask cliché riddled questions that are perma-etched in the 1980’s that I know you are tired of answering. I know all about your two NEW percolating albums. One titled PLECTRUMELECTRUM with 3rdEyeGirl, and the other yet-to-be-titled-album that includes a collaboration with Rita Ora + “This Could Be Us,” inspired by a meme from Purple Rain, the movie.

Prince Meme This Could Be Us.

Prince Meme This Could Be Us.

I would be honored to discuss all of your new work with you.  And it goes without saying that I would NEVER write anything that would hurt you or your beautiful legacy. If you’re not into an actual interview, I’m open to everything from a listening sesh at Paisley Park or even a Ping-Pong match (I’m a pretty fierce player!) I would truly just love to realise my dream of exchanging some sort of positive energy force between us, in person. A short chat, a drum lesson, a meal—I LOVE PANCAKES! Whatever you choose!

I’ve waited a year since my mothers passing to put this out into the ether as the timing *feels* right. I sense that you might choose to come to Montreal or Toronto soon, and considering that I’m bi-provincial, I’d happily meet you in either city. At the very least no-one needs to see me spastically beg to come on stage anymore. After 3 appearances, I can’t think of a more poetic ending than to finally meet you. It would be my own personal Magnum Opus.

I will wait with bated breath for your answer. In the meantime I would kindly ask all of my readers on various social media channels to PLEASE repost and retweet this piece so that it may go ‘viral‘ + reach Prince or his ‘People’.

I have no people—just a cat sitter, and many a social media inbox.

Annnnnd scene.

With humble hopes for manifest destiny,


The Pop Culture Rainman™ aka Renee Gold.

Twitter: @Popcultrainman

**UPDATE** (May 16th, 2015)

I can’t believe it’s been 10 months since I first posted this blog post/plea?!

What I never told anyone, was that after this blog went viral via Facebook & Twitter, I was contacted by someone in Prince’s camp who had heard about my viral story & wanted to discuss options. Long story short, he was trying to arrange an interview with myself and members of 3rdEyeGirl, but wanted to tie it to the launch of both Prince’s new albums which were released end of September. All’s to say, the interview never panned out, and I have to say I was happy it didnt? My goal was AND is to speak and or meet with Prince (no offense amazing ladies) and hopefully the time is RIGHT for this all to happen. I was waiting patiently to hear if and when Prince would come to Toronto (there was a false report that spread like wildfire) whereby I and hundreds of fans waited outside in the rain for hours before being told that it was a false report back in November ’14.

BUT Lo and BEHOLD….after hoping and praying, just today Prince announced a show in Toronto THIS Tuesday May 19th!!!! His Hit and Run Tour will be HERE! So my campaign is BACK and I’m even more determined than EVER to meet him! Please help by spreading this story via Social Media Channels & I Thank You from the bottom of my HEART! xoxox STAY TUNED!!!


The Toronto show was incredible. The venue was really small and intimate and as usual Prince mixed things up with some newer music; lots of intense, crunchy electric guitar, DEEP PURPLE rock with 3rdEyeGirl! He went on to later play some amazing 80’s hits, and I cried during Purple Rain as it is always a reminder of the passage of time, and is always a time to reflect on how I’ve changed and grow every time I see a new Prince concert. I was at the 8pm show which was 2 hours. I’m told the 11pm show went over 3 hours and I’m not surprised, as Prince is in his element late at night. Now while I was in contact with his official publicist (a lovely woman who shall go nameless) she was unable to grant me an interview or meet and greet in Toronto, as his back to back concert schedule was too hectic. BUT! Prince just announced one concert for Montreal, this Saturday May 23rd at the Bell Centre and I am still hopeful. 

Here’s hoping Montreal is where everything can come to fruition! Will Update!


Love You!

New Crop

Stockholm Syndrome; Is the Swedish Pop Music Scene Taking Over?

Sweden has been churning out some amazing indie + electronic pop artists in the last decade. Robyn, Lykke Li + Icona Pop are just a few acts that come to mind that eschew a cookie cutter paradigm.  All of them are quite unique in terms of their fashion aesthetic, artistic direction and in how they court fame (or don’t!) in comparison to their North American counterparts. Add to that a comparative approach to their experimental musical styling’s—and one has to think…is there a Swedish Pop sound?

 From Left to Right Robyn Top Right Lykke Li, Bottom Right Icona Pop

Little Dragon’s lead singer Yukimi Nagano who hails from Gothenburg, Sweden has candidly admitted that she’s heard rumblings about a “Swedish scene” but she doesn’t really know what that means? In fact Nagano would readily tell you how influenced she and her band mates are by American R&B + Hip-Hop!

A Swedish EDM scene? Top Left: Swedish House Mafia Bottom: Little Dragon Right: DJ Avicii

When Feist made her 2nd album Let it Die in 2003 there was much ado about the fact that she was Canadian but that she recorded it in Paris. The media’s fascination with trying to equate her new record with the romance of Paris, or the crème brûlée’s and other cliché’s about the Paris ‘sound’, left her rather annoyed. “It all depends on what street you walk down, or who your friends are or how you spend your time…” said Feist to me in an interview many moons ago. “And the funny thing was that [I hardly went out in Paris, and stayed very insular when I made that album,] so the fact that music journalists heard the ‘French influence’ in Let it Die was news to me.”

Cue tape to 2006-2007 and there was a huge deal being made about the cabal of ‘English songbirds’ like Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Duffy, Corinne Bailey Rae, Kate Nash + Adele.

The Way They Were…The English Song Birds of ’07

It could have been argued that Amy, Duffy  Adele all had a similar retro sound…but is it really fair to play this comparison game? Who does it benefit? The artist? Or is it a tactic used to spoon feed an untapped audience? All music journos (guilty as charged!) have played the comparative or geography game once upon a time too many, but in today’s competitive digital landscape with click bait run amok—a ‘hook’ or ‘slant’ sometimes means the lifeblood of ones piece.

I think artists are the sum of all their parts and not necessarily just where they have lived or where they choose to record an album. Two people can have VERY different experience at the same party in the same city on the same night! I think trying to bulk one city or one country together towards a musical movement is probably the result of lazy music journalism. Sometimes it is a valid label—there have been many concept albums made based upon a place or its influence on the artist (think the Beatles + India!) and there is no doubt that in the early 90’s there was a very real Seattle sound—but it’s not a one size fits all moniker. I’d sooner say there is a Stockholm scene or a sound, rather than try and lump an entire country into its own sub-genre. *Lykke Li + Little Dragon are not from Stockholm.

But on that note tangent there is a new artist from Stockholm, Sweden whose album has become the soundtrack tied to memory (I love how music can do that) in my personal tapestry of Spring 2014. *Not all segues are seamless, apologies, dear readers!

On May 3rd I was at the kick-off event for Toronto’s Canadian Music Week (CMW). Due to bad weather, the evenings performing artist MIA was reassigned to a small club venue as opposed to the original outdoor free concert. It was MIA’s smallest venue performance she’s done since she started out + lucky for me I was front row when I was treated to her opening act, Elliphant. I couldn’t decipher her accent,  I was convinced it was either German or Swedish and a quick Google search told me she was from Sweden. Aha!

She came out with this song 1st ‘Music is Life’, and let’s say she had me at ‘Hallå’.

She was extremely rough around the edges—looking like she just did 50 bong hits and hadn’t showered since X-mas, but I really liked her music! Her baby doll rasp combined with dance pop mixed in with some Hip-Hop, Dancehall + Reggae had me so intrigued! The comparisons to MIA were obvious, but Elliphant definitely had her own flavor going on.  


Elliphant at Tattoo Club Toronto May 3rd, 2014

I enjoyed her whole set list, but didn’t get fully hooked until I started listening to her music online and started watching her eccentric music videos. Elliphant’s album A Good Idea  was released in late 2013 in Sweden exclusively, but only until recently has the rest of the world (including myself) caught on! Her album is still only available in tactile version in Sweden, but her album can be found on iTunes here.  She’s worked with everyone from Diplo to Skrillex and Katy Perry is said to be a big fan.

A Good Idea

A Good Idea

Below are just a sample of the singles from A Good Idea that I adore, but really you should download the entire album—it’s mad brilliant!



Stockholm Syndrome?

So what have we learned today kids?

Is there a Swedish pop music movement happening? Is Stockholm, in particular a hot bed for forward-thinking pop music talent?

It sure seems like it, and I haven’t even mentioned the onslaught of other great artists who simply aren’t at the international level as the aforementioned—yet. One aspect that has to be fueling this deluge is the support by their government for independent artists through the Swedish Artist Council. Other Swedish mainstays like Nordic Playlist + Spotify have further helped to propel Scandinavian artists abroad. *Spotify is now currently available in Canada!

Spotify: Made in Stockholm Sweden; but of course!

Spotify: Made in Stockholm Sweden; but of course!

So, yes…without making any sweeping generalizations, there seems to be an exorbitant amount of Pop/Dance music coming out of Sweden lately, and consistently so, ever since the 70’s when Abba turned it out with their original brand of Europop Disco.

And just take a guess what city they were from?

And cue Dancing Queen in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1



Relative newcomer Tove Lo (she’s written previous hits for Icona Pop + Cher Lloyd) dropped her poptastic album Queen of the Clouds [Universal/Island] at the end of September. Yes, she hails from Stockholm, Sweden and she’s the hottest artist of le moment, joining Katy Perry to open on the Australian leg of her world tour—a huge coup for an emerging artist.


Download the album or heaven forbid grab yourself one of those CD thingamawhats? This album is all La Di Fricken Da + then some sugar.

XOXO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The Pop Culture Rainman

The Band You Need to Know Now: Little Dragon


Little Dragon

Little Dragon


Swedish band Little Dragon have been around since 1996 but only released their self-titled debut album in 2007 so don’t kick yourself if you aren’t familiar with their work. The quadrant is made up of singer Yukimi Nagano (vocals, percussion) and her high school friends Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass) and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards). They are occasionally joined by additional keyboardist Arild Werling for live performances.

They have collaborated with the likes of Gorillaz on their Plastic Beach album and with Outkast’s Big Boi on his Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors ‘s album. Their sound is a pastiche of Dream Pop/Trip Hop/Electronic Synth and they will be releasing their 4th studio album Nabuma Rubberband on May 13th.



I am overwhelmingly obsessed with Yukimi’s voice which reminds me of Prince and to a lesser degree Janet Jackson—as well as the styles of Morcheeba and Esthero. Beyond the comparisons, Little Dragon are their own musical vessel, bringing a futuristic uniqueness to their layered soundscapes.

Most recently Little Dragon performed their first release from Nabuma Rubberband: ‘Klapp Klapp’ on David Letterman.

Their second release ‘Paris‘ has been perma-lodged in my ear canal all week as I cannot stop listening to it! It’s the perfect song to prelude the coming Spring—in a dance-naked-like-nobody’s-watching-in-the-confines of-your-own-living-room-PERFECT!

If these 2 songs are any indication of how the entire album will sound, it is guaranteed to propel Little Dragon to the comeuppance and international fan base that they deserve! I will be back to review the album as I will be seeing the band live in Toronto for Canadian Music Week on May 10th!

Stay tuned and watch this space for an update! In the meantime…cop these two tracks on iTunes!

Musically Yours,

 XOXO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The Pop Culture Rainman