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Global Artists Spotlight: CaliStar, Phil Soda, Emma McGann And More

Hear the latest by musicians from across the world

Dec 28, 2021

This week's Global Artists Spotlight features musicians (from left) CaliStar, Phil Soda, Emma McGann and more. Photos: Courtesy of the artists; Sarah Zak (Soda)

CaliStar – “Can’t Sleep”

Purple filters and seemingly sleep-deprived fantasies (like mythical beasts and video game-like narratives) are what make Los Angeles-based CaliStar’s new video for “Can’t Sleep” an entertaining watch. It helps massively that the visuals are driven by the artist’s powerful pop style. CaliStar says in a statement, “This song is for anyone who struggles with inner battles or hidden monsters that keep them up at night. It’s also for those who feel stuck pondering past traumas, paralyzed by current struggles, or daunted by anxious thoughts of the future. The message is that you’re not alone, and that you can overcome.”

Misbah – Woh Hai Kahaan

Navigating electronic hues, dream pop and indie rock, Lahore-based Misbah Uddin (part of eccentric rock band Keeray Makoray) offers up soothing, fluid explorations of sound as well as inner thoughts on his EP Woh Hai Kahaan. Teaming up with Fatima Khan, et lone and Zahra Paracha, “Naraaz” stands out for its groovy and mysterious air. While the title track is a slow, melancholic piece, “Beemari” (featuring indie artist Janoobi Khargosh) is suitably wonky and mind-melting in its cadence. Misbah straightens up on “Beh Gayi,” a flittering song that takes off into hectic psychedelic rock.

Phil Soda – Look Back ft. Thandi

German DJ-producer (and model) Phil Soda digs into a synth-heavy groove for his latest single “Look Back,” featuring vocalist Thandi. The track that’s meant for the dancefloors as well as late-night drives has been in the works for about 16 months according to the artist. He adds, “I feel the final version of the song being unleashed fits well with everything going on, the zeitgeist and everything we’ve all been coping with. So, I really hope people make it their own, and it impacts everyone, giving them a boost.”

South of France – “Hallelujah Show”

Denver, Colorado indie rock artist South of France offers a dreamy, synth-driven, seemingly stream-of-consciousness tale on “Hallelujah Show,” a song about the things we idealize in an increasingly dystopian world. Fueled by twinkling guitar and synth parts and a driving rhythm, the song is a lush trip. Frontman Jeff Cormack says in a statement, “It’s about who we are versus who we think we are. I think that’s more interesting, anyway.”

Amar Chotai – “Bisrat Naahi Maa”

U.K.-based Indian-origin artist Amar Chotai might be in neuroradiology for his day job, but he’s set his sights on being a versatile musician as well. While he’s had previous releases in the Latin pop space, his latest song “Bisrat Naahi Maa” is an emotional ode to his mother, who passed away 17 years ago. Teaming up with music composers Jataneel Banerjee and Nikhil Paul George, plus lyricist Arun Kumar, “Bisraat Naahi Maa” is a peaceful Hindi song which marks a new direction from Chotai.

J.Fernandez – “Spicy”

Canada-based J.Fernandez’s latest single “Spicy” talks about reigniting the flame with an ex-lover as the artist leans on R&B and trap beats to make for a fiery concoction. The song also includes delayed synths and distorted vocals, and Fernandez says, “The song came together not long after I reconnected with the girl it’s about… she had changed so much since I last saw her and it inspired me.”

Emma McGann – “Emma McGann”

British singer-songwriter Emma McGann teamed up with American musician Mike Shinoda (from Linkin Park and Fort Minor) for her new pop offering “Teary Eyed.” McGann delivers infectious pop melodies across the track and says, “’Teary Eyed’ is about being blinded by our problems and anxieties and not reaching out, when you know deep down you should.”


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