Herbert: I had a hard time choosing the song from this band. The theme of this song is actually really serious; its about mass shootings. Why does someone does that? What went wrong? Can those questions ever be answered? It's dark, but I guess songs don't have to be always easy or mainstream. Despite I like this song already a whole lot, this background makes this song actually pretty impressive.
The skilled genre-mashers in Oxford, England's Glass Animals bring synth pop, indie, R&B, and hip-hop together in innovative and inviting ways. The son of a Welsh father and Israeli mother, singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Bayley spent his childhood in Massachusetts and his adolescence in Texas, immersing himself in American pop culture and the music of Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Eminem, and the Neptunes. When he was 14, Bayley and his family settled in Oxford, England. It was there that he met his friends and future bandmates Joe Seaward (drums), Drew MacFarlane (guitars/keyboards), and Edmund Irwin-Singer (bass/keyboards). As a medical school student at King's College, Bayley's insomnia led him to write songs on his computer that he shared with his friends, and it wasn't long until they started playing them together. Choosing their name from random words in the dictionary, they became Glass Animals in 2010. While they were still at university, Glass Animals issued their 2012 debut EP, Leaflings, on Kaya Kaya Records. One of the band's shows caught the attention of acclaimed producer Paul Epworth, who signed them to his label Wolf Tone. The Black Mambo/Exxus EP appeared in Europe in 2013, and the Glass Animals EP -- which featured "Woozy," a collaboration with rapper/singer/songwriter Jean Deaux -- was released that year in the U.S. To make their debut album, Glass Animals traded their Oxfordshire home studio for one in London and refined their percolating mix of indie pop, electronic, hip-hop, and R&B. Co-produced by Bayley and Epworth and inspired in part by William Steig's book The Zabajaba Jungle, ZABA arrived in June 2014. The album reached number 12 on Australia's ARIA chart and eventually topped Billboard's Alternative New Artist Chart in the U.S. a year after it was released. Similarly, the single "Gooey" was eventually certified platinum in the States. ZABA's critical acclaim and growing word-of-mouth popularity led the band to collaborate with Joey Bada$$ on the October 2015 single "Lose Control." While on their lengthy world tour in support of ZABA, Glass Animals gathered stories from the people they encountered. They used these tales as lyrical inspiration for their second long-player, which they recorded in late 2015. How to Be a Human Being, a concept album with each song telling the story of a different character, appeared in August 2016. It fared well critically and on the charts, becoming a Top 20 hit in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S., and hitting number 23 on the U.K. Albums Chart. In addition to snagging a 2017 Mercury Prize nomination, How to Be a Human Being won the 2018 Music Producers Guild Awards for U.K. Album of the Year and Self Producing Artist of the Year. Glass Animals' momentum came to a halt in July 2018, when Seaward broke his leg and fractured his skull after being hit by a truck while riding his bike in Dublin. As he spent months learning to talk, walk, read, and play drums again, Bayley worked with artists outside of the band, producing and writing songs for Flume, 6LACK, and Khalid. Glass Animals started their return in November 2019 with the release of the Denzel Curry collaboration "Tokyo Drifting" and an Oxford show at the end of the year that saw Seaward play in front of a crowd for the first time since his accident. Informed by the hardships and healing the band experienced, August 2020's Dreamland introduced more autobiographical songwriting to Glass Animals' lively sound. The album reached number two on the U.K. charts and yielded the hit single "Heat Waves," which topped Australia's ARIA chart in early 2021.
There's a pop-focused core to the music of this provocative East London rapper, singer, and songwriter of Ghanaian descent, pulling in such wide-ranging sounds as experimental trap and noodling guitar rock. Born Brenda Wireko Mensah in Hackney in 1992, Bree Runway's moniker was inspired by a cousin's nickname and came to figuratively represent repeated attempts to take off and aim higher in her career. Early inspiration came from Michelle Obama, who provided words of encouragement after hearing Mensah sing as a teenager. Additionally, a 2010 trip to visit her extended family in Accra, Ghana, acted as a creative stimulus. In late 2015, she self-released her debut EP, RNWY 01, a lyrically candid set produced mainly by Nastylgia, who also worked on Bree Runway's next EP, Bouji, which appeared a year later. Following a couple of stand-alone singles -- 2016's "Butterfly" and 2017's pure pop "What Do I Tell My Friends?" -- she made an appearance on the electronic duo Metroplane's "Word of Mouth." May 2019 brought Runway's first solo material released on Virgin EMI in the form of "2ON," a single that ultimately appeared on her breakthrough third EP, Be Runway. Following an early-2020 guest spot on a remix of Rina Sawayama's "XS," her debut mixtape, 2000AND4EVA, was issued in November, featuring contributions from Missy Elliott, Yung Baby Tate, and Maliibu Miitch.