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Electronic illusions of nocturnal wonderlands

Rad Cat, Olivia Rodrigo, the Color Forty-Nine, Big Mountain, Slush Puppy

Rad Cat
Rad Cat

San Diego native Christian Ariza, aka Rad Cat, is a 25 year-old Mexican American DJ and producer turned solo artist. He began writing songs as a teenager, first learning guitar and then studying production techniques, as he explored the possibilities of electronic and dance music. His production and remix credits include collaborations with blackbear (who invited Rad Cat to join the Beartrap Music collective after coming across his remix of blackbear’s “IDFC”), Enrique Iglesias, Kevin Gates, Mike Posner, and T-Pain. His own releases include singles for “Hater,” “Love Me,” and “Show Off” with Dylan Matthew, as well as an EP called Love & Illusions recorded with Dutch Melrose. The EP single with Melrose, “Alright,” reached number one on HypeM, and performances include the San Diego CRSSD Festival, EDC Mexico, and Nocturnal Wonderland. Rad Cat has two new singles; “Diamond” with Gloria Kim (on Steve Aoki’s label Dim Mak) has already racked up over 600,000 Spotify streams, and “Replay” features a guest appearance by indie pop singer Skyler Cocco.

Olivia Rodrigo

18 year-old Olivia Rodrigo spent time growing up in Temecula, taking voice and guitar lessons at Temecula Music Teacher studio and appearing in area theatricals. She was performing covers of artists like Adele in productions such as Temecula Live and Boys and Girls Club Idol while still in elementary school. She made the leap to television by appearing in an Old Navy commercial, but is best known as Nini Salazar-Roberts on the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. A debut Interscope/Geffen Records single “Drivers License” reached number one in multiple countries, including the U.S. Her recently released album Sour was preceded by singles for “Déjà vu” and “Good 4 U,” with the latter reaching number one in the U.S. and England. The album’s success increased exponentially after an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Rodrigo has joined the White House effort to promote youth awareness of Covid-19 vaccinations, meeting with President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci to discuss making videos about the importance of getting vaccinated, and answering young people’s questions regarding the shots. “It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members encouraging all communities to get vaccinated,” Rodrigo said at a White House press briefing. “It doesn’t matter if you’re young and healthy, getting the vaccine is about protecting yourself, your friends, and your family.”

The Color Forty-Nine

The new bi-lingual single from the Color Forty-Nine, “What Would I Know? Yo que sé?” features guest vocalist Rubén Albarrán, founding frontman for Café Tacvba. The band sings English lyrics such as “Look at the lines in a face/All eyes can bring tears/All eyes can break fears/We are one and all,” while Albarrán replies in Spanish ”Wipe out the lines that we made/How can I cross a border when you can’t come north?/This is not a fair game.” In a press release, the band explains “This whole process of writing this song seemed to fulfill its own prophecy. We have these obstacles that have been created such as borders and discrimination, and if you can simply break those down, then wonderful things can occur. Simply putting out the idea of collaboration to the right folks led us to working with an icon of music in Latin America, Rubén Albarrán from Cafe Tacvba, and Hugo Crosthwaite, artist and winner of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Prize. The song seemed to speak to them enough to dedicate, in Hugo’s case, three months to hand-drawing an incredible animated video. What better reward can you have for reaching out and crossing borders?” The song comes from their just-released String Ladders, the first of two EPs planned for this year.

Big Mountain

Originally known as Rainbow Warriors, Big Mountain formed in San Diego in 1986. Though they earned national notice for their 1994 pop-reggae cover of Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” (heard on the soundtrack for the film Reality Bites), which reached the U.S. Top 40, they first hit the charts with “Touch My Light” the previous year. Singer Joaquin McWhinney, aka Quino, has also fronted the pop reggae band Quinazo and served as a vocational teacher at Olympian High School in Chula Vista. He once performed on a song played as wake-up music for astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, “Luna Llena” (originally titled “Moon”), as well as playing an onscreen role in a movie called Ruta Madre (with a Big Mountain song on the soundtrack) and opening the Big Mountain Kombucha Café in Ensenada. When Big Mountain found itself minus a record label, Quino co-wrote the song “Leap of Faith” with L.A. duo Jeff Barry and Jed Leiber (son of Jerry Leiber, of Leiber and Stoller fame). The track earned a lot of attention on iTunes, which went a long way toward Big Mountain signing to Leiber’s Night Bird records and recording their first full-length in around ten years. They recently dropped a new single, “Reggae Inna Summertime.”

Slush Puppy

Citing influences such as David Bowie, George Michael, and the Cure, alt-pop rock band Slush Puppy is really San Diego native Sam Catalano, who was still a 17-year-old high school student when he began recording mellow jams in his bedroom. His debut single “Not Good at Being Bad” was released in 2017, followed by “Sunroof” and “I Don’t Like Your Friends,” earning him positive reviews on several tastemaker blogs and websites. The flurry of press attention and social media sharing resulted in a single from earlier this year, “Juliette” (about the false image people create for themselves online) reaching one million streams within a week of its release. It also landed slots on Spotify’s Global and U.S. New Music Friday playlists, as well on Apple Music’s Alt Pop and Pop Chill playlists. Two new Slush Puppy singles recently dropped, “Barbie Doll” (co-produced by Even Gartner and Pink Slip) and “Eat Spit,” the latter featuring Royal and the Serpent, aka 27 year-old New Jersey singer-songwriter Ryan Santiago.

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Rad Cat
Rad Cat

San Diego native Christian Ariza, aka Rad Cat, is a 25 year-old Mexican American DJ and producer turned solo artist. He began writing songs as a teenager, first learning guitar and then studying production techniques, as he explored the possibilities of electronic and dance music. His production and remix credits include collaborations with blackbear (who invited Rad Cat to join the Beartrap Music collective after coming across his remix of blackbear’s “IDFC”), Enrique Iglesias, Kevin Gates, Mike Posner, and T-Pain. His own releases include singles for “Hater,” “Love Me,” and “Show Off” with Dylan Matthew, as well as an EP called Love & Illusions recorded with Dutch Melrose. The EP single with Melrose, “Alright,” reached number one on HypeM, and performances include the San Diego CRSSD Festival, EDC Mexico, and Nocturnal Wonderland. Rad Cat has two new singles; “Diamond” with Gloria Kim (on Steve Aoki’s label Dim Mak) has already racked up over 600,000 Spotify streams, and “Replay” features a guest appearance by indie pop singer Skyler Cocco.

Olivia Rodrigo

18 year-old Olivia Rodrigo spent time growing up in Temecula, taking voice and guitar lessons at Temecula Music Teacher studio and appearing in area theatricals. She was performing covers of artists like Adele in productions such as Temecula Live and Boys and Girls Club Idol while still in elementary school. She made the leap to television by appearing in an Old Navy commercial, but is best known as Nini Salazar-Roberts on the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. A debut Interscope/Geffen Records single “Drivers License” reached number one in multiple countries, including the U.S. Her recently released album Sour was preceded by singles for “Déjà vu” and “Good 4 U,” with the latter reaching number one in the U.S. and England. The album’s success increased exponentially after an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Rodrigo has joined the White House effort to promote youth awareness of Covid-19 vaccinations, meeting with President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci to discuss making videos about the importance of getting vaccinated, and answering young people’s questions regarding the shots. “It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members encouraging all communities to get vaccinated,” Rodrigo said at a White House press briefing. “It doesn’t matter if you’re young and healthy, getting the vaccine is about protecting yourself, your friends, and your family.”

The Color Forty-Nine

The new bi-lingual single from the Color Forty-Nine, “What Would I Know? Yo que sé?” features guest vocalist Rubén Albarrán, founding frontman for Café Tacvba. The band sings English lyrics such as “Look at the lines in a face/All eyes can bring tears/All eyes can break fears/We are one and all,” while Albarrán replies in Spanish ”Wipe out the lines that we made/How can I cross a border when you can’t come north?/This is not a fair game.” In a press release, the band explains “This whole process of writing this song seemed to fulfill its own prophecy. We have these obstacles that have been created such as borders and discrimination, and if you can simply break those down, then wonderful things can occur. Simply putting out the idea of collaboration to the right folks led us to working with an icon of music in Latin America, Rubén Albarrán from Cafe Tacvba, and Hugo Crosthwaite, artist and winner of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Prize. The song seemed to speak to them enough to dedicate, in Hugo’s case, three months to hand-drawing an incredible animated video. What better reward can you have for reaching out and crossing borders?” The song comes from their just-released String Ladders, the first of two EPs planned for this year.

Big Mountain

Originally known as Rainbow Warriors, Big Mountain formed in San Diego in 1986. Though they earned national notice for their 1994 pop-reggae cover of Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” (heard on the soundtrack for the film Reality Bites), which reached the U.S. Top 40, they first hit the charts with “Touch My Light” the previous year. Singer Joaquin McWhinney, aka Quino, has also fronted the pop reggae band Quinazo and served as a vocational teacher at Olympian High School in Chula Vista. He once performed on a song played as wake-up music for astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, “Luna Llena” (originally titled “Moon”), as well as playing an onscreen role in a movie called Ruta Madre (with a Big Mountain song on the soundtrack) and opening the Big Mountain Kombucha Café in Ensenada. When Big Mountain found itself minus a record label, Quino co-wrote the song “Leap of Faith” with L.A. duo Jeff Barry and Jed Leiber (son of Jerry Leiber, of Leiber and Stoller fame). The track earned a lot of attention on iTunes, which went a long way toward Big Mountain signing to Leiber’s Night Bird records and recording their first full-length in around ten years. They recently dropped a new single, “Reggae Inna Summertime.”

Slush Puppy

Citing influences such as David Bowie, George Michael, and the Cure, alt-pop rock band Slush Puppy is really San Diego native Sam Catalano, who was still a 17-year-old high school student when he began recording mellow jams in his bedroom. His debut single “Not Good at Being Bad” was released in 2017, followed by “Sunroof” and “I Don’t Like Your Friends,” earning him positive reviews on several tastemaker blogs and websites. The flurry of press attention and social media sharing resulted in a single from earlier this year, “Juliette” (about the false image people create for themselves online) reaching one million streams within a week of its release. It also landed slots on Spotify’s Global and U.S. New Music Friday playlists, as well on Apple Music’s Alt Pop and Pop Chill playlists. Two new Slush Puppy singles recently dropped, “Barbie Doll” (co-produced by Even Gartner and Pink Slip) and “Eat Spit,” the latter featuring Royal and the Serpent, aka 27 year-old New Jersey singer-songwriter Ryan Santiago.

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