Category Archives: 2020

Q&A With The Free Label

By Samuel Stevens

What’s the significance to your band name, The Free Label?

When we were thinking of a name for the group, we looked at the kind of music we were making, and all the different genre influences we have. We didn’t want to be confined to a strict sound; we wanted the fluidity to make music the way we wanted. To be free from titles or rules.

Where did the idea of calling yourself a boyband come from?

The boyband name was given to us rather than created by us. When we perform, all four of us sing and dance on stage. People would just call us a boyband, and we just went with the title. There aren’t too many boybands anymore, and we want to continue the art and style. 

You guys originally formed as a funk cover band in 2017, correct? What made you guys move away from covering songs, slightly straying from the genre, and start to write, record, and perform your own material?

We started as a funk cover band to fill the gaps in our set between our originals. We always knew that the covers were our way of cutting our teeth and learning to perform on stage together. As we started playing more frequently, we would play shows with two, three, sometimes four sets, and we needed to extend our setlist.

You all have jazz/funk backgrounds and certainly, display that on M.I.A. and even on your previous EP, Lift You Up. You blur the lines between pop and R&B, also incorporating some funk, jazz, and hip-hop elements throughout it’s eight tracks. Are these just genres you’re all fans of that you decided to blend and incorporate into your sound? How did that all come about in the songwriting process, past and present?

After playing as a cover band for so long, those genres are practically ingrained in the way we function musically. I don’t think we could make it through a full writing session without breaking into a funk jam. We always use our roots to create our original music. Like in the way old funk/soul music, it was meant to be performed live. That’s something we think about with every song we write. How do we go crazy with this on stage or how it fits in our set.

What are your musical influences that shape the group’s sound? For example, I love the vibe on your track, “You Ain’t Got No Reason” that resembles a piece of music from the likes of Justin Timberlake, or even Bruno Mars.

Anderson .Paak is a massive influence on us as a group as well. He embodies old school soul and R&B in the most modern way. That’s where our song “You Ain’t Got No Reason” comes from; It’s our way to pay homage to our roots, and showcase our old school vibe.

Which songs on the album were the most fun to write, and which were the most challenging to write?

M.I.A. was the most fun to write by far. What we sing about on M.I.A. are our personal experiences. In 2019 we spent four months abroad performing on a cruise ship residency, and we lived the life you hear about on the song. We had performances every night, and our job was to throw parties until the bars on the ship closed. Then we’d wake up and do it all over again, travelling the world.

The hardest song to write was, “Let Me Find a Way.” We went through three or four different versions of the song before we landed on what you hear on the album. It started as a 60’s soul song, then transformed into a 90’s R&B style track, and finally ended up with an indie pop vibe. With the previous versions, we felt like we weren’t exploring the range of what we could do. As we started to experiment, all the elements all began to fall into place.

How was it collaborating with fellow Toronto indie-pop artist, Oleyada on your track, “Up in Flames,” could you tell me more about that?

Oleyada is not only a super talented writer, and close friend, but also our bass player Mathew’s girlfriend; they collaborate all the time. “Up in Flames” came about while Mathew and Oleyada were writing together. After they showed us what they had, we all agreed it was an excellent fit for the record. We all love Ariana Grande’s last album, and it influenced “Up in Flames.” The song was written far before COVID-19, but the release lined up in a super weird way. The apocalyptic themes felt very fitting for this peculiar time.

If you could have collaborated with any musician that’s ever existed, past or present on M.I.A. who would it have been and why?

We would love to get Anderson .Paak on a version of “You Ain’t Got No Reason.”

What are your favourite song(s) off the new album?

Our favourite song off the album is “M.I.A.” For so many reasons, the memories and stories that the song is about, plus the music video was so fun to shoot.

Since its release in 2018, your single “All Night” has garnered over 550,000 streams on Spotify, a real monumental achievement, sparking the path you guys are now on. How has the reception for your most recent singles, “Up in Flames” and “M.I.A. (Money Isn’t Available)” been since their releases?

Releasing “All Night” was crazy. The reception we received for our first ever single is incredible. The fact that people have heard our music around the world and that twenty-two thousand of them have saved the single on Spotify is unreal. “M.I.A” is our evolution from “All Night.” It shows how much our songwriting and style has developed since 2018. As for “Up in Flames,” it was a song that felt like it fit in our boyband image, and is just another branch of what The Free Label is.

This past month you guys released a mixtape made entirely from the comfort of your own homes while practicing social distancing in the months of March and April titled, Quarantoonz, Vol. 1, will there be more Quarantoonz mixtapes down the road?

As long as quarantine lasts, we will release more volumes of Quarantoonz. We’re making so much music right now; it would be a shame not to release it. 

Do you have anything else planned for 2020, or are you guys just taking the year day-by-day for the unforeseeable future, before you can solidify touring plans, etc?

As for 2020, we will release another summer single, and the second volume of Quarantoonz, maybe two… We will be playing a few online festivals and streaming performances. We performed for Homebody Festival on May 29th, and the City of Vaughan’s Canada Day stream. We are always looking for more opportunities to perform, so it’s best to check our Instagram or website at, if you want the most updated info on us.

Thanks for the time, guys! With everything going on in the world right now, I hope you’re all staying safe at home in Toronto. Is there anything else you may want to add?

Thank you to everyone for showing us so much support and love right now! Stay home, stay safe, and wash ya’ damn hands!

Check out more from The Free Label:




Ice Nine Kills – Undead & Unplugged: Live From The Overlook Hotel

By Mikey Jablonski

Release Date: June 26, 2020

Genre: Acoustic

Label: Fearless Records

Metalcore/post-hardcore band, Ice Nine Kills, based out of Boston, Massachusetts are set to release their upcoming live acoustic EP, Undead & Unplugged: Live From The Overlook Hotel. The record is based around a live acoustic set from a small crowded show in Colorado at The Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King loosely based the story in his famous novel, The Shining. The EP features five tracks from their previous album, The Silver Scream.

The first song off the EP is “Savages.” With that great catchy sing-a-long chorus, the clean acoustic guitar, it was very fitting to put on the EP. “Thank God It’s Friday” is the next song on this record and it sounded great listening to it. I was even rocking to it like the original version. They did a great rendition of the song. Up next is “A Grave Mistake” and “Love Bites,” with that very hard catchy chorus, and they sound great acoustically. The last song on this record is “Enjoy Your Slay.” This song is a great song to just enjoy and to kick back to. Overall this record is great if you enjoy acoustic songs and love Ice Nine Kills. I hope to hear more acoustic renditions of future Ice Nine Kills songs.

Check out more from Ice Nine Kills:




SOFIA – Stories for the Sleepless

By Samuel Stevens

Release Date: June 24, 2020

Genre: Alternative Rock

Label: Independent

The Brazilian alternative rock trio, SOFIA, have released their much anticipated debut EP, Stories for the Sleepless. The trio who are now based out of Los Angeles, California have been releasing the EP’s five singles online the last few months beginning with the first on February 19, 2020 with the track, “Coconut.”

SOFIA is comprised of vocalist/bassist Leo Bomeny, guitarist Alex Novaes, and drummer Bruno Lamas. The band’s songwriting is inspired by many different subjects including, bedtime stories, fairy tales, science fiction, and fantasies. Musically, the band is influenced by a very diverse pool of bands such as Tame Impala, Muse, Mutemath, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Twenty One Pilots, and even the music off the original soundtrack for the motion picture, The Lord of the Rings. SOFIA strides with the hope their lyricism and the characters they write about are mixed together to give their listeners a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Stories for the Sleepless opens up with the band’s first single, “Coconut,” a song about finding acceptance and happiness in the little things, the joy in the madness, and the chaos of two complex, emotional, but different people. “I’m out of my mind / I’m so confused / But if my devil inside loves the angel in you / I’m happy.”

The track, “Sad,” tells the story of somebody who is frustrated they see their significant other’s self-destructive behaviors, but can’t do anything about it. Whereas the tune, “idontwannafuckthisup,” dives into the mind of someone who falls in love easily and tends to get carried away by their emotions. “Put your walls down / Shut the lights out / I don’t wanna fuck this up / Sorry if its all too much to take now / Take your time dear / I’ll be right here.”

Stories for the Sleepless’ last hurrah is the band’s latest single, “Stranger.” This particular track touches on the subject of your significant other becoming a stranger to you. This song’s story follows a person who is emotionally and psychologically trapped in a relationship that is seen as one sided. This person you were once familiar with, they’ve now became a stranger to you. “I’m scared to stay here alone / See the shape I’m in / Not like it’s a sin.”

Check out more from SOFIA: