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PopCrush Presents: Cellars

Randall Michelson
Randall Michelson

Every week at PopCrush, we’re putting the spotlight on one up-and-coming act you need to know about. Why? So you can get on board early before everyone else and their mother jumps on the bandwagon…and so you can be that one friend in the group who’s always like, “Um, actually, I prefer their earlier work.”

From Taylor Swift‘s 1989 to Carly Rae Jepsen‘s criminally under-appreciated EMOTION and beyond, the current pop landscape is saturated with ’80s pop-inspired re-imaginings. It’s a wonder, then, that any artist can find a way to breathe new life into the overcrowded genre — but Alle Norton, the mastermind behind electro-pop confection Cellars, does it with ease.

Norton’s experience with the ‘80s isn’t a direct one — considering she was born in 1990, she bypassed it entirely. Still, she’s heavily influenced by the decade, citing her father’s inclination toward bands like Queen and The Bangles as evidence that she fell in love with the ’80s early on.

Cellars’ sound, with its fluttering synths and subtle edge, is littered with the era’s most notable attributes. The outfit’s debut album Lovesick is a cohesive collection, with Norton’s warm vocals melting into each glittering, retro gem.

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In an interview with LA Weekly, Norton admits she’s heavily inspired by — what else? — romance: “I’ve always been obsessed with love.” She recalls a diary given to her when she was just five years old and how often she wrote in it while growing up: “Every entry was about a guy or wanting to find somebody to be in love with.”

Someone stole that diary from the trunk of her car a few years ago (“It was devastating. My whole life was in that book”), so she turned to Cellars as a musical alternative, writing about love in all its incarnations.

Cellars’ latest single, the infectious yet deceptively dark “Nighttime Girl,” follows suit. Speaking to SPIN about the track, Norton says the song came about as the result of a breakup: “‘Nighttime Girl’ was written during an interesting transition in my life, I had just moved to Los Angeles and knew barely anyone, and was dealing with the first of a few break­ups in a long­-term relationship with someone I loved very much.”

But rather than stick to your more cliched song about lost love, she decided to go a different route: “I came up with the music and then told myself when writing the lyrics that I was not going to write another love song, which is where the line ‘I don’t need love where I’m going‘ comes from. I was determined to find my own way in this new place, and the song is about the struggle of figuring out who you are; the dissonant human feeling of both self­-confidence and self­-consciousness at the same time, and both sure and unsure of what one wants in life.”

Cellars’ sophomore LP Phases isn’t due out until April 15, so check out “Nighttime Girl” in the meantime above.

Who would you like to see featured in PopCrush Presents next? Tweet us at @popcrush with your recommendations using #PopCrushPresents!

Next: PopCrush Presents: Francesca Kray

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