Royal says, “i mean listen, we’ve all got a type. deny it if you want but we like what we like. i just happen to like heart-breaking, vape-puffing, chain-wearing rejects. this particular breed of “phuckboi” is what got me into this whole mess in the first place. now here i am – lifeless and broken – ready to give you the best damn music i’ve ever written for you. yes, by that i mean – there’s more….are you ready for another one?”
Royal and the Serpent will soon be touring opening up for Grandson:
Best of 2021 – Last year we missed doing our annual “Best Of.” This year we present it after a year of quarantine albums galore. Tours didn’t start until May but new music was flowing from the start of 2021. 2022 is already aiming to be a busy year. Here are our choices for the Best of 2021.
We’ve evolved from Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion and others of last year to a new crop of artists.
Best Label – Fire Talk Records – Home to Bnny, Mamalarky, Packs and more this boutique label is setting up to be the next Saddle Creek Records.
Secretly Group @secretlygroup, Saddle Creek Records @saddlecreek, Fire Talk Records @firetalkrecs, Don Giovanni Records @DonGiovanniRecs
Nest New Artist – “New” is always relative. Georgia Maq has been part of Camp Cope, and Isabella Manfredi was part of The Preatures. Our winner is Ashe who album Ashlyn was hard to put down this year.
Georgia Maq @goldsoundz_, Allison Russell @allisonrussellmusic, S.G. Goodman @s.g.goodman, Ashe @ashemusic, Jillette Johnson @jillettejohnson, Hawxx @hawxxmusic, Noa Kirel @noakirel, Kill Birds @killbirdsmusic, Killboy @killboy , Sloppy Jane @sloppyjanebandd , Ydegirl @ydegirl, The Linda Lindas @the_linda_lindas, Allison Ponthier @allisonponthier, Isabella Manfredi @isabellamanfredi, Pom Pom Squad @pompomsquad
Best Local (Colorado) Artist – Local artists can often be touring or even national acts. This category was very competitive with the amount of quarantine albums that came out. Our winner is Companion who mesmerized us in the Spring. They will quickly become a national act.
Best Dance – Dance is also electronic and electro pop. Magdalena Bay & Sofi Tukker are the 800 lb gorillas in this category. Kito is our winner for surprising collaborations.
Magdalena Bay @magdalenabay, Sofi Tukker @sofitukker, Kito @kito
Best Pop – Pop like Indie is often open to interpretation. It is often what dominates at venues. Our winner is Charlotte Cardin whose Phoenix album was one of the best albums this year.
Hana Vu @hanavuuu, Lucy Dacus @lucydacus, Japanese Breakfast @jbrekkie, Baby Queen @queenofthebabies, Charlotte Cardin @charlottecardin, Jess Chalker @jess_chalker_, May-A @mayacumming, Ashe @ashemusic, Girl In Red @girlinred, Angèle @angele_vl, Sloppy Jane @sloppyjanebandd, Nadia Vaeh @nadiavaeh, Olivia Rox @oliviarox, Number One Popstar @numberonepopstar, Bahari @bahari, Noga Erez @nogaerez, Lola Lennox @lolalennex
Best Rock – Rock is often the guitar driven beat that keeps you going. Kill Birds, who have been touring with Foo Fighters are our winner.
Royal and the Serpent @royalandtheserpent, Amyl and the Sniffers @amylandthesniffers, Mattiel @mattielworldwide , Upsahl @upsahlmusicl, Self Esteem @selfesteemselfesteem, Kill Birds @killbirdsmusic, Nadia Sheikh @nadiasheikhmusic, Red Hook @weareredhook, Pom Pom Squad @pompomsquad
Best Indie – Indie always means both a sound but also a level of development. These are the artists at the small venues touring to survive. We have a diverse selection this year. Bnny is our winner.
Best Experimental – There is always a “flinch” moment when you saw experimental. It involves a great deal of risk as personified by our winner Fifi Rong who is working on her dual album set with one album all in English, and one all in Chinese. She is crowdfunding now.
Insect Ark @insectark, Fifi Rong @fifirong, Sasami @sasamiashworth, Irreversible Entanglements @irreversibleentanglements, Haru Nemuri @haru_nemuri
Best Hip Hop – This is the first year that FEMMUSIC has this category. There may be some arguments as to whether all these artists fit it. Coi Leray is the best newcomer in this area. Ray BLK is our winner.
Bia @bia, Tones and I @tonesandi, Doja Cat @dojacat, Sza @sza, Cardi B @iamcardib, Megan Thee Stallion @theestallion, Coi Leray @coileray, Ms Banks @msbanks, Ray BLK @rayblk, Remi Wolf @remiwolf, Tinashe @tinashenow
Best Jazz – We will admit to not hearing as much jazz this year. Laufey is the winner with original interpretations of classics.
Laufey @laufey, Nnenna Freelon @officialnnenna
Best Country – Brandi Carlile is a favorite in this category and will take home more GRAMMYs. Allison Russell wins for being new and original.
Brandi Carlile @brandicarlile, Allison Russell @allisonrussellmusic, Yola @iamyolaofficial, CMAT @cmatbaby, Jackson & Sellers @jacksonsellersmusic, Ingrid Andress @ingridandress
Best Heavy Metal – Infected Rain is a former winner in this category. Jinjer, Halestorm & The Pretty Reckless dominate. The Velveteers are this year’s winner.
Hawxx @hawxxmusic, Edge of Paradise @edgeofparadise, Jinjer @jinjer_official, The Velveteers @thevelveteers, Infected Rain @infectedrain_official, The Pretty Reckless @theprettyreckless, Halestorm @halestormrocks
Best R & B – This category includes powerhouses like Arlo Parks and Dawn Richard. Alewya is our winner for new and original music this year.
Muni Long @munilong, India Shawn @indiashawn, Dawn Richard @dawnrichard, Alewya @alewya11, Arlo Parks @arloparks, Tkay Maidza @tkaymaidza, Danielia Cotton @danieliacotton, Saleka @saleka
Best Surprise – A “surprise” for us is that unexpected performance when it was not expected. It includes some risky performances such as LVXURI and Big Klit. S.G. Goodman is our hands down winner. We caught her as an opener and she garnered as much reaction as the headliner. She is a blunt, and emotive songwriter.
S.G. Goodman @s.g.goodman, Kiesza @kiesza, LVXURI @mx_lvxuri, Big Klit @klitoriusmaximus
Best Comeback – This has been a surprisingly competitive category. Whether it’s the return of ABBA after a long time to Adele’s new album. The big surprise this month is Taylor Swift taking the world with the longest song. She is our winner.
Kylie Minogue @kylieminogue, Avril Lavigne @avrillavigne, Deborah Gibson @debbiegibson, Liz Phair @LizPhairOfficial, Taylor Swift @taylorswift , ABBA @ABBA, Adele @adele, Lorde @lorde
Royal and the Serpent is the band name and the personas of Ryan Santiago.
“I definitely feel like I’m two people living in one body, where I can just slip at the drop of dime and become a totally different person,” notes Santiago, who equally identifies as a “sweet sunshine angel” (i.e., the Royal persona) and a “freaky devil maniac” (the Serpent).
Santiago was a competitive dancer and into musical theater. She credits Donna Missal for teaching her guitar.
The band released the Searching for Nirvana EP in June which features singles “I can’t get high”, “girls (ft Phem)”, and “Phuck U”
The band’s 2020 EP Get A Grip featured the hit single “Overwhelmed.” Royal and the Serpent (RATS) has had a rapid rise from “Overwhelmed.” They were part of a live stream tour for Yungblud in 2020. They have been releasing edgy videos to their gripping music on a regular basis. Now they are finishing their first tour opening for PVRIS. RATS is a visceral experience mixing raspy vocals with a blunt force. They mix the ferocity of Halestorm with the theatrics of Garbage. FEMMUSIC was honored to have an e-mail interview with Santiago about the band and tour. For info visit @royalandtheserpent
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the Searching for Nirvana EP?
RS: Honestly releasing it was the hardest part. I couldn’t stop second guessing myself and I was so nervous until it was finally out. It was like a huge weight was lifted from me. Shoutout to my team for helping me get it across the finish line.
FEMMUSIC: What were your goals for the EP?
RS: It was the first “full” body of work I had ever put out – so I think cohesion was my number 1 goal. I really wanted to make something that was meant to be listened to front to back. I wanted it to tell a story – a little introduction into my world and brain.
FEMMUSIC: What changed in your approach to making Searching for Nirvana vs Get A Grip?
RS: I think stylistic choices. We really leaned into the rock space a little further than we had before. I also had a bit of a heavier hand in the production than before. Marky and I got to spend almost a whole month polishing it up before it was ready to be heard.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Phem & Yoshi Flower. What do you look for in collaborators?
RS: Gosh two of some of my favorite people on earth. Yoshi is a longtime friend and collaborator. Phem and I met for the first time the day we wrote “Girls” – and we immediately hit it off and are now still very close. I think vibe is key when it comes to working with others. It’s all energy – when the vibe is right the music speaks for itself.
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Atlantic Records. What made you sign to Atlantic? What do you look for in a label?
RS: Atlantic was the first major that showed interest in the project – and I knew immediately that they were the ones for me. They were so welcoming, so warm, it felt like home the first time I walked in the doors. I think most importantly the #1 thing I was looking for in a label was a team that cared about the project, the music, the vision, etc. I knew from the first meeting I took that they had real interest in what I was doing and that meant more to me than anything.
FEMMUSIC: You’re touring with PVRIS. I’ve read you’ve had social anxiety in the past. How do you manage touring? What do you most like about it?
RS: Ooooof. Hahaha. We’re still in the midst of it and we’re almost halfway through. I’m not gonna lie – it’s been an adjustment! I’m also HIGHLY claustrophobic so that’s probably been the toughest part. Sometimes I get random panic attacks in the van. But for the most part we’re staying out of the crowds and staying safe with covid and all. Aside from some of the smaller hurdles – I love everything about touring. It’s my first tour and I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am to be getting to play shows every night with my best friends. I wouldn’t trade this life for the world.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
RS: In the beginning of my career it was a lot harder to get people to listen to my ideas and suggestions. People would easily steamroll right over me. I’ve really learned how to own my voice in a room and keep my energy strong. As a woman you sometimes have to command the attention. A little spice never hurt anybody 😉
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
RS: Sure! For the most part I co-write everything. So it usually looks like: showing up to a studio with another writer and a producer, hanging for a bit, jamming for a bit, and seeing what pours out. It’s always based on personal experience/emotion/whatever I’m feeling at the time. I think the best songs are written when we take our brains out of the equation and we just let the music come through us.
FEMMUSIC: What song, not your own, has has the biggest influence on you, and why?
RS: This is like such a tough question? Because SO much music has shaped me to be who I am today. I think if I had to pick one in this very moment it would have to be “Welcome to the Black Parade.” It’s a masterpiece in every sense of the word. A modern day Bohemian Rhapsody if you will. I could only dream to someday make something even half as iconic.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
RS: I guess if I could change one thing it might be the competitive edge a lot of people seem to have. I wanna believe there’s room for all of us to do what we love and still make it to the top.
Royal & the Serpent releases the edgy official music video for single “girls” ft phem today, off her self-reflective EP searching for nirvana, which was released earlier this month via Atlantic Records.
Recent single “phuck u” and the EP release succeed single “i can’t get high,” which Royal released in February and played in her set on YUNGBLUD’s ‘The Weird Time of Life’ global digital tour last year. Royal released the get a grip EP in October 2020, which features her viral hit “Overwhelmed.”
You can catch Royal live this summer as direct support on PVRIS’ North American tour, kicking off August 6th in Detroit and wrapping September 2nd in Los Angeles.
Fiery alt pop singer/songwriter Royal & the Serpent releases single “phuck u” today and announces her searching for nirvana EP, which will be released next month.
Royal & the Serpent released her last single “i can’t get high” in February, which she played in her set on YUNGBLUD’s ‘The Weird Time of Life’ global digital tour last year. “ICGH” follows “bad kids” ft Yoshi Flower and Royal’s October get a grip EP, which features her viral hit “Overwhelmed.”
In each piece of music she shares with the world, Royal reveals the wild duality at the heart of her artistry and speaks to the incredible power of embracing your true nature, in all its outrageous complexity. A Gemini to the core, she’s passionate but pensive, sensitive but self-possessed, enigmatic but an open book when it comes to exposing what’s inside her mind. “I definitely feel like I’m two people living in one body, where I can just slip at the drop of dime and become a totally different person,” notes Santiago, who equally identifies as a “sweet sunshine angel” (i.e., the Royal persona) and a “freaky devil maniac” (the Serpent).
Royal and the Serpent (RATS) have released singles “bad kids”, and “Overwhelmed.” RATS released get a grip EP last year. Now they release the self-directed video for “I can’t get high.” The song is a longing of a past relationship overflowing with anger and emotion. It is visceral and alive in RATS raspy voice.