Krosst Out featuring Melotika – Single Review: “Runaway”

I’ve been following Canadian artists Krosst Out and Melotika for more than four years, and it’s been gratifying to watch them grow both artistically and professionally. Krosst Out is the musical alter-ego of singer-songwriter and rapper Aaron Siebenga,, who grew up in a small town not far from Toronto, and melds hip hop with grunge, alt-rock and punk to create his own unique contemporary sound. Melotika is the alter-ego of Mel Yelle, a Montreal-born sultry-voiced singer-songwriter who makes intriguing electro-pop.

The hard-working and creative duo met in Toronto, but are now living in Montreal. They’re both successful artists in their own right, as well as a delightfully charming and hilarious couple I’ve grown quite fond of over the years, and have featured them both numerous times on this blog. Last October, I reviewed Krosst Out’s debut album Phone Calls With Ghosts, a deeply personal work addressing youthful mistakes, broken relationships, and the reality that nothing will ever again be what it once was. (You can read that review here.) And just last month, I chose Melotika’s latest single “Beautiful Disguise” as my New Song of the Week, which you can read about here

Now the two are back with a hot new collaborative single “Runaway“. The song was recorded at Phase One studio in Toronto under the guidance of long-time collaborators Jor’Del Downz and Sean Savage. Drums were played by Spencer “Taabu” Heaslip, who also mixed and mastered the track. With “Runaway”, Krosst Out and Melotika wanted to create a dynamic, punk influenced hip hop ballad reminiscent of the late 1970’s London punk scene. Krosst Out explains “I’ve been calling it 1977 punk meets rap, or Sid and Nancy meet hip hop. I wrote this at the same time I was writing my album Phone Calls With Ghosts, [but] in the end, I just felt like this song deserved to be a stand alone track. ‘Runaway’’s message is one that all can relate to, especially during these times; it’s one of escapism, running away from a place you no longer want to be in. There’s times where we do just need to pick up and run away from everything. If you find yourself in a place you don’t want to be in, pick yourself and run away from that spot, put yourself someplace better. It’s meant to be this cross between both happy and melancholy. The beat was an anthem type feel that gets you amped up, but my chanting of ‘I don’t want to be here’ gives you the feeling of hopping on the next train to anywhere, running away.”  

The song opens with a flurry of spritely skittering synths, then expands with a layer of brooding synths as Melotika croons her lyrics followed by Krosst Out, who raps his lines as a deep trip hop beat kicks in. Soon the melody ramps up into a frantic punk beat at they both shout “I wanna run away, I gotta run away, I’m gonna run away!” This back and forth continues throughout the song, providing alternating moments of frenzied tension with calmer interludes of introspection that convey a cool sense of self-awareness and humor. 

The two have made a crazy-fun video that nicely showcases their strong charisma and zany playfulness.

Connect with Krosst Out:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp 

KROSST OUT – Album Review: “Phone Calls With Ghosts”

I’ve been following Canadian singer-songwriter and rapper Krosst Out since early 2017, when he reached out to me about his debut EP Life of the Party, an outstanding work that examined the darker aspects of party life, along with the sex, drugs and alcohol abuse that often go hand in hand. (You can read my review here.)  Since then, the hard-working artist has released a number of singles and collaborations with other artists, and just dropped his debut album Phone Calls With Ghosts, which was a labor of love for him.

Born and raised in the small town of Campbellford, Ontario, he first studied piano as a child, then took up the bass guitar in his teens. He moved to Toronto, where he started his music career, but earlier this year he relocated to Montreal with his girlfriend and fellow music artist Melotika (who I’ve also featured on this blog several times). Influenced by the music of artists such as Manafest, Eminem, Underoath, Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down, Nas, and Marilyn Manson, he fuses hip hop with grunge, alt-rock and punk to create his own unique contemporary sound. And like a lot of hip hop artists, his songs draw heavily from his own life experiences, with brutally honest, introspective and raw lyrics.

Phone Calls With Ghosts is a decidedly bleak work addressing youthful mistakes, broken relationships, and the reality that nothing will ever again be what it once was. Krosst Out elaborates: “Ghosts aren’t just your run of the mill spooks, they’re the thoughts and actions of your past that torture you, the baggage you never seem to shrug off. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to hide my demons from myself and the rest of the world, that I thought it was time I faced everything head on. It was like these ghosts were trying to call [me] my whole life and I never picked up. Writing this [album] was my therapy, it helped me come out of this dark place I’d been in, and made me realize more about myself. Ghosts are real, they are the thoughts that torture you, the people you leave behind, the moments you never get back.

The album was recorded mostly at Pink Distortion Music in Toronto, under the guidance of producer and mixer Adam Van Ameringen aka Rain, although “Intro (Preface)”, “Reckless” and “Black & White” were produced by another frequent collaborator Jor’Del Downz. The entire album was mastered by Sean Savage.

Opening track “Intro (Preface)” does just what it implies, laying out for us what the album’s about and setting the overall dark mood. Against a backdrop of throbbing, reverb-heavy bass accompanied by enchanting synths, Krosst Out tearfully pleads “Can you hear me? Can you really hear me out there? Pick up the phone!” A heavy beat then kicks in as he launches into an angry freestyle rapping tirade, recounting his early dreams of making it as a successful hip hop artists, the sacrifices he made and poverty he endured, and decrying those who never had faith in him: “Don’t ask me why I’m angry / Don’t ask my why I’m upset / These likes and these retweets don’t amount to much / Fuck every single person that ever doubted me / Cause I’ve been down and out.” The song ends with a woman’s voice (who I’m guessing is Melotika) saying, as if a telephone operator, “Welcome to phone calls with ghosts. Thank you for calling.

Funerals”, the lead single from the album that I reviewed this past April, touches on how Krosst Out has changed and grown since leaving Campbellford. It’s often challenging when leaving home and moving away to make a new life for ourselves, and though we generally maintain a sense of love and fondness toward family and friends we left behind, the distance and passage of time can complicate and/or diminish relationships. He told me the song title “Funerals” is a metaphor for the death of his old self. “I feel like I’ve just grown so much that I’m unrecognizable now, but at the same time, if I wanted to go [back] home I couldn’t. Also, the more you grow, the more you have people that will hate you for that.” The song has a heavy dub step beat, with a dramatic mix of spooky psychedelic synths, deep, throbbing bass and glittery keyboards creating a dark and moody backdrop for his impassioned free style rapping as he laments about the guilt trips foisted upon him by his mother and friends.

Krosst Out taps into his love of grunge on “Drive“, a cynical song about just saying fuck it, ditching your problems and heading out on the road in search of thrills, because nothing really matters anyway. “Cause I’m living for today, put that on my gravestone.” I like the dark vibes and Rain’s badass grungy guitar riffs at the beginning and in the choruses.

The haunting “Edges” speaks of a failing relationship, with the singer pleading to his partner to stop torturing him. Swirling keyboards contrast sharply with ominous harsh industrial synths to create a darkly beautiful backdrop for Krosst Out’s bitter vocals as he bemoans “We push, we pull, we scream, we shout, you say you want me out.” Guest vocalist Kyle Laird of Ontario metal band As the Structure Fails growls the chorus “You’re breaking my heart. So I’m burning these bridges. Stop tearing me apart. Cause I’m only these edges.” 

On “Reckless“, he sings about not giving a fuck what others think of him to a guitar-driven melody over a dubstep beat. Rain’s grungy guitars make a return appearance on “Running in Traffic“, a song that continues on the theme of living life recklessly with a fatalistic attitude. With his voice brimming with emotion, Krosst Out raps “Never played it safe. Screaming here I am. Running in that traffic. Please don’t hold my hand. Gotta take my chances, gotta be a man. Now the ghosts are calling.

Background” is a bleak yet beautiful song about that seems to be about a person contemplating suicide. Over a sharp knocking beat and pulsating rhythm, Krosst Out and Rain layer haunting piano keys and a lovely strummed guitar. Krosst Out raps about his feelings of depression and futility, with Rain joining him in vocal harmonies on the chorus: “There are days I wish to just not wake up. I won’t be that shoulder that you needed to lean on. I can’t be that person that you need right now. Let me go, let me go into the background.

The final track “Black & White” has a funereal grunge rock vibe, with a deep, reverb-heavy bass groove, accompanied by an almost haunting chiming guitar riff played by Andrew Falcao. Krosst Out ruefully raps the lyrics that speak of past regrets he has no desire to correct, and the pain he continues to self-medicate: “I never said goodbye to my friend that died at 25 / But these hard pills get easier to swallow. Don’t be alarmed, numbing myself is just part of the process. All of this shit is just hard to process /  You can erase me if you like, black & white. It makes no difference, so take me out.” The instrumentals continue for the final two and a half minutes of the song, highlighted by Falcao’s marvelous guitar solo.

Phone Calls With Ghosts is a marvelous little album with a huge, impactful sound. I love Krosst Out’s songwriting and lyricism, and while he doesn’t have a particularly strong voice, he’s a highly emotive vocalist and terrific freestyle rapper. It’s been a distinct pleasure following on his musical journey over the past four years and watching him grow as an artist. I’m so very proud of him.

Connect with Krosst Out:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp 

KROSST OUT – Single/Video Review: “Funerals”

Krosst Out Funerals

One of the things I most enjoy about being a music blogger is getting to know a lot of musicians and bands through social media, and following them on their musical journeys over time. An artist I’ve grown particularly fond of is Krosst Out, a singer-songwriter and rapper from Toronto, Canada. I first learned about him in early 2017, when he reached out to me about his debut EP Life of the Party, an outstanding work that examined the darker aspects of party life, along with the sex, drugs and alcohol abuse that often go hand in hand. (I reviewed that EP, as well as one of his later singles, both of which you can find under “Related” at the end of this post.)

Born and raised in the small Ontario town of Campbellford, he first studied piano as a child, then took up the bass guitar in his teens. Influenced by the music of artists such as Manafest, Eminem, Underoath, Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down, Vinnie Paz, Nas, and Marilyn Manson, he developed a love for alternative rock, hip hop and rap. He played in various local bands, developing his rapping skills along the way, and eventually moved to Toronto, where he started writing his own songs. Drawing upon the aforementioned influences, he fuses hip hop with grunge, alt-rock and punk to create his own unique sound. Like a lot of hip hop artists, his songs draw heavily from his own life experiences, with honest, raw and introspective lyrics.

On March 13, he dropped his latest single “Funerals“, and followed up with a brilliant companion video for the song that was filmed and directed by Eric Soto. The track was produced by Adam Van Ameringen, recorded at Pink Distortion Music in Toronto, and mixed and mastered by Sean Savage.

“Funerals” is a deeply personal song for Krosst Out, and touches on how he’s changed and grown since leaving Campbellford. It’s often challenging when people leave home and move away to make a new life for themselves, and though we generally maintain a sense of love and fondness toward family and friends we left behind, the distance and passage of time can complicate or often diminish relationships. Krosst Out told me the song title “Funerals” is a metaphor for the death of his old self. “I feel like I’ve just grown so much that I’m unrecognizable now, but at the same time, if I wanted to go [back] home I couldn’t. Also, the more you grow, the more you have people that will hate you for that.”

The song opens with Krosst Out telling us who he is now, accompanied by resonant keyboard notes:

I’m not that kid that you used to know
Now I’m living life so unusual
Less weddings and more of these funerals

The tempo then abruptly shifts to a heavy dub step beat, as the music expands with a dramatic mix of spooky psychedelic synths, deep, throbbing bass, glittery keyboards and some of the sickest percussive synths I’ve heard in a while. The instrumentals are really superb, creating a dark and moody backdrop for Krosst Out’s impassioned free style rapping as he laments about the guilt trips foisted upon him by his mother and friends:

You’re always telling me that I don’t pick up that phone much anymore
And you don’t call home
Why are the people that you’ve got ignored
Saying that you’re one of us
But it’s pretty clear that you’re not
You think that you’re better
You think that you’re big now
Move from the small town
Go and get the big stuff
Now that your ego’s even bigger now
And you fucking forgot our names, wow

From that same town where nothing ever happened
But that was back then
Fuck those memories you can have em
I’m past it
I’m not that kid that you used to know
Want black roses at my funeral
And I’m sorry mom, but I’m not that kid that you used to know

He goes on to sing that his new life isn’t all a bed of roses either:

But if you have to know I hate this city
Cause I been here too long
And I know that I can’t go home
Cause I don’t belong
And no I don’t need no phone call
Hold on, spare me the sad song
I don’t need to hear about the old me
It should be quite clear that’s what I don’t need
I’m just a grown man who can’t afford these groceries
If you think the grass is greener on my side
It’s not really

The fascinating video was filmed mostly in a church, and shows Krosst Out singing the song as if addressing an imaginary congregation. He then goes into a restroom, where he cuts off all his hair, and is later shown as his new self singing the song in a gymnasium, as well as outside at night, digging a hole with a shovel, seemingly for the purpose of burying his old self.

Connect with Krosst Out:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / SoundcloudApple Music
Purchase on BandcampGoogle Play

KROSST OUT – Single Review: “The Death of Me ft. Jor’del Downz”

krosst-out

Krosst Out is a talented young hip hop artist from Toronto, Canada. In March 2017, he released his debut EP Life of the Party, an outstanding effort that examined the darker aspects of the party life, and its attendant abuse of sex, drugs and alcohol (you can read my review here). He’s now releasing a new autobiographical single “The Death of Me featuring Jor’del Downz.” It drops February 26, which is also his birthday and will be available on all music streaming and purchase sites.

The track is fantastic, with a strong trap beat and mysterious wobbly synths creating a deep sense of foreboding. The production is flawless and tight, and Krosst Out’s performance shows how his vocals have matured since Life of the Party. He passionately sings of his anxiety and insecurities of trying to make it as a hip hop artist, and the frustration of having to spend much of his precious time working at dead-end jobs instead of devoting it to his music dream:

When I’m gone they’ll know they’re wrong
These words are all I got

They’ll never know what I go through
It’s the death of me
I’ve really been at my wits end lately
This back and forth between jobs got me going crazy
Now I don’t want to fight with my boss
It’s just that he don’t pay me
How do you expect me to not say these things?
Not pretend that I am not bleeding

Jor’del Downz enters 2/3 of the way through the track, rapping about the pressures of being a rapper and confirming the feelings expressed by Krosst Out:

I’m fed up and I’m stressed out
And I could care less about who’s opinion on who’s the next out
Probably cause you’re left out
But that’s expected when it’s rap I mess with
Or any other genre I might invest in

Since the song’s release, Krosst Out has dropped a cool new video that includes only his portion of the track.

See Krosst Out at one of these upcoming Cognitive Diss Eastern Canada Tour shows:

APR 13 FRI  –  Overtime Sports Bar, Kingston, Ontario
APR 14 SAT  –  The Diezel Room, Oshawa, Ontario
APR 18 WED  –  Lexi’s Lounge, Moncton, New Brunswick
APR 20 FRI  –  Menz & Mollyz Bar, Halifax Nova Scotia
APR 21 SAT  –  Baba’s Lounge, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
APR 27 FRI  –  Detour Music Hall, St Catharines, Ontario
APR 28 SAT  –  Cognitive Diss Tour/ Melotika EP Release Party @ The Cavern Bar, Toronto

Connect with Krosst Out:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp

EP Review: KROSST OUT – “Life of the Party”

I love when hip hop is melded with other music genres. That’s one of many reasons why the music of artists such as Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine and twenty øne piløts is so incredible. So I was happy to discover the young Canadian rapper Krosst Out, who skillfully melds hip hop with punk rock to create a style uniquely his own. He’s set to release his debut EP Life of the Party in early March, and I have the pleasure of reviewing it.

Krosst Out grew up in a small town in Ontario, where he studied piano as a child. In his teens, influenced by artists such as Manafest, Eminem, Underoath, Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down, Nas, and Marilyn Manson, he took up the bass guitar. He ended up playing in various local bands, developing his rapping skills along the way, and eventually settled in Toronto, where he began writing his own songs.

krosst-out

In the creation of Life of the Party, he teamed up with musicians Daniel Salij and Eric Soto, who also was beat master. Combine his biting, relevant lyrics with their music skills, and the result is a superb EP with six hard-hitting tracks that examine the darker aspects of the party life, with its attendant abuse of sex, drugs and alcohol. As Sandie Glasmacher wrote in her review for G Music Lab, it’s  ‘a gritty cautionary tale of what happens to the life of the party when the party is over and the lights turn back on.’

The strong EP opener “Skincrawler” is about a tormented soul crying out for help. Musically, the song is complex, with a haunting intro of plucky acoustic guitar, followed by unsettling male voices speaking of mental illness before Krosst Out’s impassioned rapping takes over. To a strong hip hop beat, he cries ‘The monster that my skin hides, on the inside, is eating me alive. It’s keeping me alive. I am picking, itching, tearing at my skin. I only want you to get in. I only want you to begin to see what it’s like to be me.’ The superb multi-textured guitars are accompanied by a melancholy but beautiful violin that adds great emotional depth to the track.

Calling out others’ bad behavior while not being honest about your own is the subject of the hip hop track “Tea 4 One.” Krosst Out sings ‘This is tea 4 one, put the kettle on, this has just begun. Everything and anything goes. You better be prepared to start eating crow, ’cause no one ever told me not to throw stones.’ He goes on to shout out his own shortcomings.

Kick It” is three minutes of punk rock awesomeness, with powerful, distorted guitars, thumping bass, rapid-fire drums and crashing cymbals. Krosst Out frantically raps ‘Everybody kick it now. We got the skills, to rock the mic and act like it kills. Real punk rock thrills. That’s right, we could go all night, we could go all night.‘ I love this song, and it’s one of my favorites on the EP.

Life of the Party” speaks to the good, bad and ugly of party life. To a pounding hip hop beat and crushing bass, Krosst Out assertively raps ‘We party like it’s nothing ’cause we’ve done this before. Breaking all the rules with the bottles on the floor. If you want to see our party, then wait what’s in store. I’m the life of the party, I’ve said that before.” At 2:30, the tempo changes abruptly, signifying that the party’s gone awry. Throbbing synths take over, the beat drops, and to discordant percussion he raps ‘Man you joking, this dude’s trying to choke me. Acting like a dope fiend.’ Party’s not so fun now…

The powerful track “Contradiction” opens with a mysterious voice chanting to a hypnotic beat and throbbing bass ‘Can you take me back to where I came from? Can you take me back?‘ Then Krosst Out begins rapping about his internal struggle between who he is and who he thinks he should be. ‘I can take this rock and I can shove it up my nose. I can take this 40 and I can drink it through a hose. I’m so white trash, man, everybody knows.  Watch my Chevrolet explode when I’m midway down the road. / And I know I’m white trash, I know I’m not Black. Stop being ignorant just ’cause I like rap.‘ Take a look at the great video for the song:

The last track on the EP , the compelling “I Don’t Care,” gets to the heart of the EP’s subject – the highs one experiences from uninhibited partying, and the crushing lows that can follow (feelings to which I can certainly attest from my own experience). Krosst Out laments: “I don’t have a care when the lights go out, when the lights go out, when the lights go out. I don’t want to feel when the lights come on, when the lights come on, when the lights come on. What you know about losing yourself at 2 am? Going through the drugs and booze again? Climbing on the roof again? Screaming that you’re losing it? And jumping in the pool again.

The song features a mesmerizing hip hop beat, haunting melody and some pretty awesome distorted guitar riffs, along with the beguiling guest vocals of his friend Mel Yelle.

To sum up, Life of the Party is a solid EP that gets better with every listen. The music and production are first-rate, and the intense song lyrics are so loaded with meaning that I discovered something new each time. To learn more about Krosst Out, check out his website and follow him on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram. Stream his music on Spotify and purchase on iTunes and other sites offering music for download.