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10 New Artists You Need to Know: February 2016

Kaleo, Mickey Shiloh, Pup and more

Fleur East; Pup

Pup and Fleur East are two of the new artists you should not miss this month

Photo Courtesy of Brace Yourself, JUCO

Once again, we talked to 10 of the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos. This month: the first singer-songwriter signed to Skrillex's OWSLA label, Mark Johns; hard-touring Toronto punks Pup; Janet Jackson songwriter Mickey Shiloh and more.


Ryan Faist


Sounds Like: Good tunes for people who love bad news. Though his band's music might imply otherwise, lead vocalist Stefan Babcock promises that he's "not as much of a bummer dude."

For Fans of: The Get Up Kids, the Menzingers, self-deprecation

Why You Should Pay Attention: These Toronto thrashers forge rollicking, pop-tinged punk with serious bite. Pup was born one fortuitous day when all four members quit their jobs and then went on a bender to celebrate. When the band recorded and released their eponymous debut in 2013, they didn't think anyone outside their friend circle would hear it. Cut to these underdogs touring for two years alongside the likes of Modern Baseball (they played a whopping 250 shows in 2014 alone), and sweeping the nominations for Canada's most coveted music prizes, including the Prism, the Juno Awards and the Polaris Music Prize. Now Pup's back with a lean, throttling sophomore album, The Dream Is Over. Due later this year, Dream features cheeky, self-referential numbers like "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will."

They Say: "We really feel like we've been living the dream for the past two years," says Babcock. "It's awesome and we are having a great time, but you get a little bit of … disillusionment. We miss our girlfriends and barely scrape together money for rent. These are sacrifices that we're willing to make, but there's a realization that like any job, it has ups and down. And that's when we started joking with each other that the dream was over. I remember one time [our guitarist] Steve spilled ketchup on himself and someone was like, 'Ah, the dream is over!' On our last tour, a doctor found a cyst on my vocal chord and [it] was hemorrhaging like, day one of a seven-week tour. She said to me, word for word, 'The dream is over.' We had spent half the year using that as our inside joke and the doctor made that joke into a terrible reality."

Hear for Yourself: "DVP," the album's first single, is a lickety-split ode to freaks, geeks and every outsider in between. Paula Mejia

Mickey Shiloh


Mickey Shiloh

Sounds Like: Degrassi: Next Class pop-R&B

For Fans Of: Rihanna, Tinashe, The Love Below

Why You Should Pay Attention: From 2007 to 2009, Michaela "Mickey" Shiloh was signed to producer Rodney Jerkins' Darkchild Records. Despite still being a teen, she co-wrote songs with enough commercial sex appeal for Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Pitbull. Now, however, Mickey balances writing for Jackson's Unbreakable with releasing SoundCloud-streamed pop-R&B confessionals about dating in the Tinder age. For now, anyway: Rather than release a proper debut, Mickey hopes to post all her music on her official site, so fans can "make their own albums." Her seemingly off-the-dome lyrics reveal how her messy sex life can get her in trouble — like in "Nauseous," which sounds like Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You" if it was about taking a pregnancy test without Plan B handy. Meanwhile, "Drunk on the Mic," the song that Demi Lovato, Kylie Jenner and Justine Skye shouted out on Twitter and Snapchat is at more than 320,000 plays.

She Says: Occasionally Mickey takes fan requests, like when a satellite engineer for the Japanese military said she should cover "Prototype" by Andre 3000. "We met on Instagram and I was talking to him one night," she says. "He said I should do 'Prototype' because he loves that song and I did the song in two hours. I downloaded the MP3 off YouTube and I wrote the song. It was released that same night. … I never met [Andre], but my friend Tara is a friend of his. I think we're probably very similar because we get a feeling about something. It's just that feeling when you hear a beat and track, and know what you want to say already because it inspires you in that moment. If I met him someday, we would vibe really well and I would instantly want to get in the booth."

Hear for Yourself: "Drunk on the Mic" is a turbulent, Weeknd-inspired panic attack where Mickey blows her own cover about being a player: "I told you that I fucked guys when I was 16/What a fucking lie, what a fucking lie/I only slept with one, baby." Christina Lee


Alexandra Valenti


Sounds Like: Icelandic blues-folk that combines Delta riffs, somber balladry and frontman JJ Julius Son's falsetto wail.

For Fans of: Both Bon Iver and the Black Keys

Why You Should Pay Attention:  Not long after beginning in a garage in the small town of Mosfellsbær, Iceland, the band became a sensation back home, scoring five Number One singles on the Icelandic charts. Their hushed sing-along "All The Pretty Girls" helped score them a deal with Elektra/Atlantic Records and last year they moved to Austin, Texas, to draw from the city's blues history. But they haven't seen much of it: They played 40 different states last year. "I can't complain because we're very fortunate," says Julius Son. "All The Pretty Girls" has since gathered more than 10 million Spotify streams and their stomper "No Good" can be heard on the soundtrack to Vinyl. Last week, Kaleo kicked off its first U.S. headlining tour. "It's obviously a new experience being a headliner," says Julius Son. "We have to prove ourselves again in a totally new market. It's been an exciting journey."

They Say: While the band often get mistaken as American, Juliusson sees the band's hometown as important as any musical influence. "Growing up in Iceland, you definitely are very inspired and connected to nature," he says. "We do have long and dark winters and summers that are very special to us. So you can hear that, in a way. That probably has something to do with the music."

Hear for Yourself: The band's dark, spooky ballad "Way Down We Go" is the perfect showcase of Julius Son's otherworldly vocals. The band appropriately performed the song live inside Iceland's Þríhnúkagígur volcano last year. "We were actually down there for 22 hours," Julius Son says. "We got a helicopter to hove the whole rig to the mountains and then we had to carry it down an elevator. But the best thing were the acoustics down there. They were amazing." Patrick Doyle

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