Influencer Spotlights

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Influencer SpotlightsMusic

Five Questions with Scott Ellis, Drummer for She Wants Revenge


Scott Ellis wears a lot of hats in the music world. Not only is he a touring drummer par excellence, he’s also the manager of Pearl Group Entertainment, where he manages bands in Santa Monica, California. A musician for over 15 years, first finding success with bands such as The Start, Man Will Surrender, Human Waste Project, Motochrist, Campfire Girls, Mellowdrone, and most recently with style-shifting rock duo She Wants Revenge.

Over that time he’s absorbed a multitude of influences from a variety of genres, and his Rdio profile shows it — his top artists include L.A. rapper Game, croon-poppers Maroon 5, campy punk troupe The Misfits, and neo-Americana rockers My Morning Jacket, just to name a few. Ellis grew up listening to punk rock and the music of the ‘80s, but his taste has broadened a lot in the past decade, when he started embracing music beyond the genres in which he typically played. Check out Scott Ellis’ Vibes playlist below, then read our Five Questions with him.

Five Questions with Scott Ellis

  1. Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before?
    Scott Ellis: Good question. In my opinion, some of the best are the musicians the general public doesn’t know of. To the musicians, my answer will be somewhat generic but as far as “Never heard of before”, I’d go with Billy Preston. Some say he was the fifth Beatle, though I disagree since he was more involved at the end of their career. Either way, he was very important and somewhat the glue to the creation of Let It Be, which is a beautiful record.
  2. If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now?
    SE: The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta. That one never gets old.
  3. Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood?
    SE: Oh man. I grew up on a lot of ’80s punk (mostly British), rock (Zeppelin & Sabbath), and another style they called New Romantic or New Romanticism. Now they just file that under “alternative”. Basically New Romantic was music with synthesizers and dance beats. So I’ll say I associate with Duran Duran because I would run around Huntington Beach with liberty spiked hair, eye liner, painted leather jacket, boots, etc; trying to be the king of punk but I’d come home and pull Duran Duran’s “Rio” 7" out from under my bed and listen to it in private. I may have even danced around my room a little.
  4. We hope people are ______________ when they listen to our music.
    SE: It’s hard for me to speak for others, but I hope people feel something when they listen to records I’ve played on or music in general. I think this is what music is supposed to do. It should be emotional. It should bring up feelings of happiness, love, pain, rage, etc.
  5. We were thinking about ______________ when we wrote music for the new album.
    SE: It’s hard for me to answer this one because I’m always a hired musician and can’t speak for others. I know I was happy Justin and Adam asked me to play on this latest She Wants Revenge record as I had just broken my collarbone in a bicycle accident and figured I’d miss out. Justin called me over to track for a few days and I did most the beats with one arm. I only used the hurt side when I had to do a fill. Quite an experience!
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Follow and Listen to Rhino Records on Rdio

BlueBest gratefulAreatha

Rhino Records’ humble beginnings as a single record shop in 1973 have been largely obscured by their recording legacy since. The company started distributing records in 1978, specializing in novelty and punk records, before moving into reissuing in the mid-‘80s. By then it had found its niche releasing remastered editions from The Smiths, Joni Mitchell, The Cars, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and other musicians making pop, rock and roll, and R&B records. In-house studio master Bill Inglot’s deft touch made Rhino Records famous for their excellent sound quality.

Today, Rhino and its affiliate label Rhino Atlantic continue releasing exciting new music (such as the latest from The Streets) while ensuring that older gems, such as the Grateful Dead, continue getting their due.

Check out the Rhino label page and follow Rhino Records to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of classic cool.

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Listen to Smithsonian Folkways on Rdio

FolkswayswoodClassic folkCimmaron

No, it’s not your typical pop music, and you’d be hard pressed to find them on the radio, but the importance and cultural relevance of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label owned by the Smithsonian Institution, cannot be overstated. The label, founded in 1948 by Moses Asch, has a simple MO: spread the music that speaks to the power of folk culture, which both illuminates our own heritage and engages us in the culture of others.

Smithsonian Folkways’ commitment to bringing historically and socially relevant music to the attention of wider audiences has rightly made them an influencer and a musical institution. Their attention to detail, which includes writing extensive and in-depth reviews for almost all of their releases, and making plenty of exciting, cultural- and genre-based playlists such as “Throat Singing”, “Boogie Woogie Piano”, “Radio Haiti”, and “Radio Africa”, makes following Smithsonian Folkways on Rdio an easy decision.

Don’t take our word for it though — straight from the folks at Smithsonian Folkways, below are their suggested “Five Essential Smithsonian Folkways Listens,” including commentary.

Five Essential Smithsonian Folkways Listens

  • Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly - Folkways: The Original Vision
    A list of music from nearly 3,000 Smithsonian Folkways albums would need to start with Woody Guthrie and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, two singer-songwriters who are arguably the most impactful American folk musicians of the last 75 years. This album was one of the first releases by Smithsonian Folkways after the Smithsonian Institution acquired the Folkways Records collection in 1987. A companion to this album is Folkways: A Vision Shared, which features the same songs performed by other artists including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nelson, and helped raise funds for the launch of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

  • Various Artists - Classic Folk Music from Smithsonian Folkways
    We often take for granted the influence of artists such as Doc Watson, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete, Mike and Peggy Seeger, Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee, Elizabeth Cotten, and other folk musicians. This compilation, one of the numerous albums in the “Classic Series from Smithsonian Folkways,” sheds new light on the success of the urban intellectual-driven movement that made rural white and African-American artists and their music favorites everywhere.

  • Elizabeth Mitchell - You Are My Little Bird
    Quality family music that doesn’t “talk down” to children has been essential to the Smithsonian Folkways mission. An excellent recent example is You Are My Little Bird, the 2006 recording from Elizabeth Mitchell that brings a fresh sound to cherished American folk songs, contemporary covers, and other melodies from around the world.

  • Various Artists - ¡Cimarrón! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia
    Smithsonian Folkways has one of the largest and most diverse collections of music, spoken word and sounds from around the world. The “Tradiciones Series” features 33 recordings that showcase the diverse musical heritage of the more than 50 million Latinos living in the United States. A recent stellar example is ¡Cimarrón! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia, which features percussive strings, dynamic vocal expression, and a full-throttle pace that makes Joropo one of the most exciting regional musics of Latin America.

  • Babatunde Olatunji - Drums of Passion: The Invocation
    Smithsonian Folkways not only produces new recordings, but it also accepts donations of other independent record labels or collections, such as Monitor, Fast Folk, and Cook Records, which would not otherwise be made available to the public. A recent acquisition is The Mickey Hart Collection, 25 albums of music the Grateful Dead percussionist performed, recorded or co-produced, that furthers his endeavor to cross borders and expand musical horizons. Drums of Passion: The Invocation is one of two albums by Nigerian artist Babatunde Olatunji in the series.

Influencer Spotlights

Influencer Spotlight: MTV News Canada


Everybody knows the tremendous influence MTV wielded over the musical landscape since its inception in 1981, but it has infiltrated popular culture far beyond the original channel. Today MTV influences music in a myriad of more subtle ways, and MTV News Canada is one of them.

This half-hour program is a curatorial news show reflecting daily pop-cultural events and trends, so they're a natural fit as an Rdio Influencer. Their finger is firmly on the pulse of music culture, whether it's about Internet phenoms like Kreayshawn or more established news-makers like Kanye West. They also interview deserving Canadian artists such as Arcade Fire, Hollerado, and Shad.

The show’s Rdio page is constantly updated with playlists reflecting headlines from noteworthy news days, as is their collection with the hottest new artists. “Artists on the Show Oct 11-16” showcases the kind of talent you can expect to hear about, and is a good indication of the music music you will discover by following MTV News Canada on Rdio.

Influencer Spotlights

Influencer Spotlight: CBC Radio 3


If you’re looking for the newest in Canadian music, look no further than CBC Radio 3. The online, cutting-edge branch of CBC’s radio division was born out of CBC Radio 2 in the late nineties, and firmly established itself as a full online magazine in 2002, when it won three Webbys and 20 other awards for excellence. Today, Radio 3 is the place to hear a mix of your favourite new Canadian artists, established faves, and those who just don’t get their due elsewhere. Excellent taste in Canadian music and care for artists at a grassroots level make CBC Radio 3 a must-follow on Rdio. Below is a smattering of tunes you might expect to hear on CBC Radio 3’s Rdio page, courtesy of online personality Bren Hodge.

Check out the CBC Rdio3-30! playlist for suggested music, and check in weekly for new additions to their Rdio collection.

Influencer SpotlightsMusicRecommended By Rdio

The Alan Cross Recommendation Project on Rdio


Involved in a number of interesting projects over the years, veteran Canadian music broadcaster and writer Alan Cross doesn't show any signs of quitting. Take, for instance, his Recommendation Project: using Rdio, Cross created a number of playlists, each with a different theme, on which users can collaborate and add their own suggested music. The ultimate goal? To share as much music as possible between fans, without resorting to “robots like Apple's Genius,, Pandora or any number of algorithmic recommendation engines.”

The project started with the The Recommendation Project Part 1: Summer Song 2011 playlist, which asked users to contribute their favourite new musical discovery from this summer, old or new. Since then, the project branched out to include playlists with themes such as Canadian music, cover songs, cars, and more.

Have you contributed yet? Add to any of the Recommendation Project playlists on Alan's Rdio page (and don't forget to follow him!)—you could find your new favourite song of 2011.

∞  August 18, 2011 — 10:26AM

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Influencer Spotlight: Last Gang Records

Last gang

More than just a record label and promotional outfit, Last Gang Records has been shaping musical taste in Canada and abroad since 2002. Last Gang began when music industry lawyer Chris Taylor was unable to find a label to release Metric’s landmark debut, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?—their second release was Death From Above’s seminal 2004 debut I’m a Woman, You’re a Machine.

Since then, they've dedicated themselves to finding Toronto and Montreal’s most forward-thinking electronic acts, such as MSTRKRFT, Crystal Castles and Tiga. They also pride themselves on nurturing relationships with their impressive array of artists. Want to know what’s ticking over at Last Gang? Follow them on Rdio and check out their playlist below, Us Against the World.

For a more in-depth taste of Last Gang, check out their Spring 2011 mix or indulge in their “Festive Afternoon Hangover Cure” playlist, curated for Toronto’s week-long festival earlier this year.

Influencer SpotlightsMusic

Influencer Spotlight: Exclaim!

Any music lover in Canada should know the name Exclaim!. The magazine (whose print version, started in 1991, remains the only music-specific magazine standing in Canada) pays equal attention to both up-and-comers and established faves, and covers genres from punk and metal to hip hop and electronic, with a focus on Canadian talent. Their website features in-depth interviews, weekly album, concert and movie reviews, music and video, contests and more, with daily picks scrolling conveniently along the sidebar. Both edgy and infinitely knowledgeable, Exclaim! is a must-follow influencer. To get you started, here are some of Exclaim!’s Hot Picks.

Exclaim!'s Hot Picks

Follow Exclaim! on Rdio and check out any of their genre-specific playlists, such as Pop & Rock or Folk & Country, or try out one of their monthly lists for genres you might not have a handle on yet. Kosmische, anyone?

Influencer SpotlightsMusic

Influencer Spotlight: Arjan Writes

“The pop don’t stop.” is a pretty good summary of today’s featured Rdio influencer, Arjan Writes. Armed with his oft-read blog, pop culture, music (and video) Twitter stream, Arjan brings his expansive knowledge of pop music to Rdio. Blogging since 2002, Arjan is an official blogger for the GRAMMYs, contributes on-air to CNN, and is involved in a variety of music-related projects.

What can you expect if you follow him? Get an early introduction to music like his Hot Picks. Hot Picks:

Pop fans, as if you needed any more reasons to follow Arjan on Rdio, try one of his expertly-created playlists — Indie PopNo Doubt Essentials and music inspired by HBO’s True Blood, Season 4.

∞  July 21, 2011 — 4:25PM

Influencer SpotlightsMusic

Influencer Spotlight:

Created by a high school kid armed with computer know-how and a love for Blink-182 and MxPx, began as a place for like-minded music fans to gather, talk about and introduce each other to new music. Since it began 11 years ago, is home to thousands of album reviews, forum threads, music exclusives, artist interviews and most importantly, excited music fans. Today, we’re pleased to highlight AbsolutePunk as an Influencer on Rdio.

Why is AbsolutePunk worthy of your Follow? Because they’ll make sure your Recent Activity feed will be a steady stream of lesser-known, just-below-the-radar, newly-discovered bands from off the beaten path.

Here’s a sample of what you might expect to cross your radar—these are the staff and members’ five favorite albums from the past six months:

Also not to be overlooked are AbsolutePunk’s curated (and collaborative) Playlists—with names like We Wanna Be Pitchfork, Whisper Quiet, and Harder, Harder…, there’s bound to be something that you’ll love in their mix.

Previous Influencer Spotlight: Spin Magazine