Get Refreshed: The Best Production Trio In Digicore, Team Rockit Blasts Off, and Kmoe Explains “Gloves”

“Get Refreshed” is a weekly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world. Refresh yourself here

Cover by Parent Company

“Prying Eyes” Is A Natural Next Step For Tropes

Even in scenes as dynamic and diverse as digicore has shaped up to be, certain commonalities between its artist-base are all-too-prevalent. Among this scene’s most standout shared traits is its artists’ willingness to explore any and all creative outlooks in regards to their career progression; from incorporating new sounds and styles into their sonic approach, to simply taking on a “fluid” artistic development with no set structure overall, these artists are finding solace in consistent artistic exploration from all avenues. 

Following suit in this light is PlanetZero and Graveem1nd mainstay Tropes, who surprised just about everyone this past week with their out-of-the-blue release “Prying Eyes.” The 4-track EP takes a full dive into the worlds of alternative, punk-centric pop — fit with guitar-centric song structures, deeply personalized themes, and other traits consistent with this particular approach. 

Produced entirely by easily their closest and most trusted contemporary dltzk, it’s a project that impresses beyond its explorative traits in full. The pure quality that these two bring in this new sonic realm – in just a handful of tracks, at that – is outstanding in its own right, and it goes to show how much of an in-demand talent Tropes themself is turning into since their first splashes in the scene in late 2020. Despite coming off as anything but what we’re typically used to from the rising figure, this is can’t-miss material simply due to its immense quality alone.

Digicore’s Best Production Trio Have Done It Again

Being that he stands as one of digicore’s longest-tenured figures, kuru’s collaborative efforts have stretched far and wide across this very scene and beyond throughout his young, yet entirely  prolific career thus far. The concept of collaborating with anyone and everyone has been paramount to this scene’s resounding success, and by extension, for kuru’s artistic approach as well. 

Even still, sometimes it’s best to rely on creative partnerships that have produced some of the best content that any recent scene has to offer. Since first teaming up on what I consider to be among last year’s best single releases with “typo,” the trio of tgwog, litothedon, and kuru himself have done nothing else but come through with even more astounding offerings as a production unit. The latest example of their drill-centric approach to pop production comes in the form of kuru’s “atmosphere” — just another soaring, dense, and climatic experience that follows the same light as singles before it from these masters-of-their-craft. 

Each and every track from this trio has proven to be nothing short of magnificent, and to say that this latest cut has appropriately followed suit would perhaps be stating the obvious at this point. Nonetheless, it bears repeating due to how effective these acts are at furthering their nuanced approach to production in a completely cohesive manner.

Brevin Kim: “NAPLES”

Brevin Kim are constantly evolving with each successive release, but exactly how they’re doing so is what’s most fascinating about this fact. Because brothers Cal and Bren Paulhus – the immensely talented pop duo hailing from Massachusetts – are using constant motion to progress their artistic aspirations, both physically and figuratively alike. 

Their cross-country travels after being physically separated from each other due to the pandemic defined the makeup of their latest full-length album no less than three last year; now in 2021 – after coming together and moving from their Massachusetts home all the way to Los Angeles – they are continuing to use perpetual motion to surge their careers even further. 

Their single “NAPLES” is the most recent example of this concept being set forth via the music itself, and certainly the context around it. The track takes inspiration from Cal’s own trip to Naples, Florida with his girlfriend, and it’s sentiment-based and entirely heartfelt lyrical themes follow in this light quite vividly. The effective songwriting is elevated by the fast-paced instrumentation and relentless vocal delivery on the hook, making for an experience that finds solace in its solemnly energetic tones. It’s the ideal representation of where their artistic presence stands at this place and time — a presence that has yet to find itself standing in one spot at any single moment. 

Team Rockit: “Jordens Salt” 

Sweden’s very own Team Rockit spent nearly the entire previous decade exploring, developing, and furthering the boundaries of pop music from all angles. The trio of Gregorian, Merely, and Ikaros came through with a number of standout releases in that period, with their self-titled Year0001 debut in 2017 standing out as among the best full-length experimental pop releases from any single act that year and even beyond. 

After a lengthy period of silence, the group has finally returned with a pair of new singles. The latest in this pairing, “Jordens Salt,” has just arrived with an appropriately spacious video for such a luscious sonic experience. This track takes the utter pop brilliance that the group effortlessly exudes to its furthest heights yet; it’s a spotless pop cut that showcases all the best that these three have to offer in their own singular roles. Being such a near-perfect moment in itself, one can only hope that their further output matches this level of beauty in all aspects — sonically and visually alike. 

Knowing the sheer passion that exists within these talented figures and the sources that surround them, the possibility of achieving that goal is anything but lofty.

angelus: “gossip girls”

Few acts have explored the dynamics of pop music as graciously as 17-year-old angelus has over the past year and beyond. Now effectively being known as among the brightest faces of digicore, they have earned this title due to their wide-ranging and ever-expansive takes on pop, hip-hop, and electronic music in such a mass amount of forms and approaches all the same.

Their latest offering “gossip girls” sees them confront the genre’s high energy, indie-focused makeup with all the grace one would expect — this track in particular being nearly flawless in its infectious execution. They’ve come to form how things should be done within their scene, and by extension, they’ve essentially written “the rulebook” if there ever were to be one. Tracks as masterful as this single in itself are all the evidence one would need to realize this fact; this one just so happens to be arguably their best yet. 

Putting The Gloves On With Kmoe

Words by Kmoe

There’s a lot to unpack with “Gloves,” so I’m gonna start off by talking about the production. I was very heavily inspired by my best friend dltzk’s album Teen Week and knew I wanted to use some drum breaks in my next song. 

The track started with the synth melody you hear right at the beginning of the song. I had not been able to come up with anything worth saving for a long time before I wrote that melody, so it was a big deal for me to finally come up with something I liked. After the jungle-inspired intro, the song breaks down into a plucky, mellow, sine wave progression with an 808 I got from 4am, and some drums from the 4am kit as well, which was a polar opposite of what the first third of the song sonically sounded like. 

Production-wise, I really had no plan of what I was going to do with the second half of the song, except that I wanted it to be extremely aggressive. I was inspired by hardstyle drums and wanted to have an aggressive, in-your-face, almost screaming breakdown. I have my vocals filtered and side-chained under the rest of the elements of the final drop, so they sound like distant screams. The finale of the song ends with a very quiet and somber ending. Vocals processed thoroughly in lossy compression and a few sine wave chords inspired by Nomu’s song “Comfortable.” 

Before I had any vocals on this song, I used the acapella from “Toosie Slide” by Drake as a placeholder. In that song, the first line is “black leather gloves, no sequins” which is where the track name “gloves” originates. I liked the name so much that I kept it all throughout the many versions of this song, and made sure to write a lyric with the word gloves in it, just to make the title fit the song. 

The lyrics in the first hook of the song are probably the most toxic thing I’ve ever written but it strongly conveys the feeling of being extremely annoyed and fed up with someone. I was annoyed at old friends who used to make fun of my music, trying to hit me up again once they saw that my music was doing numbers. I was annoyed with having to talk to people I didn’t want to talk to. I was just pissed off at everything when I wrote this song. For the second verse of the song, I was writing about coming back home on the Skytrain in Vancouver late at night and all the things I would witness and experience.

“Gloves” is a big moment for me because it’s showing a different side to me; it shows a darker, grittier side of my music that had yet to be heard by anyone before this song. I’m happy everyone likes it and I’m excited to release more music soon!