Over the past 12 months, the life of a musician has changed greatly. With tours put on hold, festivals cancelled and album releases delayed, for many artists it’s been the longest break they’ve had since starting their career. But that doesn’t mean creativity has come to a stand still as Under the Covers has proved with its series of covers from rising stars.
Under the Covers is the brainchild of L.A. based music and entertainment company ORLOVE who have been responsible for curating some of the most sought after parties throughout the U.S including Wicked Paradise, Dreamboat and Daft Bunch. Over the last 15 years ORLOVE has gone from strength to strength, flourishing into a multi million dollar brand, renowned in the world wise music scene thanks to founder and CEO Matt Orlove.
When lockdown hit, the way ORLOVE operates had to be adapted and amended to fit this new digital way of absorbing music – with actual parties off the cards for the foreseeable future it gave Matt the opportunity to work on projects that might not have taken off so quickly were it not for people’s need to discover new sounds from the comfort of their home.
Under the Covers is a music cover series that reaches out to artists from all round the world who are not only incredible singers but talented multi instrumentalists, have a keen eye for video and an energy that transcends through the screen. With a huge emphasis put on discovering artists from lesser known areas such as Ghana, Indonesia and the Philippines, Under the Covers is the epitome of what can be achieved globally through music when the right minds come together.
To find out a little bit more about the how the project came to be, how artists can get involved and what the future holds, we caught up with Matt in L.A to talk about how Under the Covers is rolling with the times.
Since launching, who have been your top 5 acts and why?
There’s a special connection with each act we’ve worked with, so it’s hard to pinpoint. I’m most proud of the collaborations with musicians from countries less represented. Never before has this world been so globally connected, so it’s especially rewarding to discover, communicate, and then work with these incredible artists. Below are five examples:
- Flume ft. Toro y Moi – The Difference – Cover by MITYA (Russia)
- Glass Animals – Your Love (Déjà Vu) – Cover by lil cat (Denmark)
- dvsn ft. Popcaan – So What – Cover by Tina Brown Africe (Ghana)
- Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now – Cover by The Corner of My Room (Indonesia)
- Karen O & Danger Mouse – Turn the Light – Cover by Peej (Philippines)
How do you source the artists you feature?
Each week, we spend hours scouring the Internet and social media for musicians that fit our vibe. For us, it’s about finding people who are genuinely immersed within their music and art, and often multifaceted and multi-instrumental. They take the art further than just a voice, they’re combining musical talent, content creation and video production all into one.
Since we like so many genres of music, we’re not confined to any one subset. This allows us the flexibility to get creative with our curation. For example, we recently featured one of my favourite electronic music producers, CLAAP!, from France. Instead of a more obvious song selection, they ended up showcasing their musical talent with a hauntingly beautiful version of Koffee’s Toast
Our process is simple because we stay close to the ground of who’s creating and where they’re creating from. Once we’ve found our next artist to collaborate with, we go through 5 or 6 different song options that we feel fit their overall vibe. More often than not, the artist(s) chooses one they’ve never heard of, which allows them to express themselves beyond their current comforts and create something they’ve never done before.
We’ve grown quite a bit in just a short time period, so now we have artists, managers, and record labels reaching out directly to work with us.
When did the idea for Under the Covers first come to mind?
For the last couple of years, I’ve been wanting to create original content for the ORLOVE brand, but was so busy with the events side of the business, that it never came to fruition.
The concept for Under the Covers came to me last March, directly after COVID hit. There are other platforms that feature artists covering music, but not many that strictly stick to cutting edge releases from the past two years like Khruangbin, Snoh Aalegra, Parcels, & Kaytranada.
All of our contributing artists happen to be amazing content creators in their own way. By capitalising on our already strong distribution outlets, then merging the two, our team was able to conceptualise and accelerate the project rather quickly.
By our one-year anniversary in April, we will have premiered over 50 videos, with artists from 25 different countries, 6 continents.
How important do you think it is for people to have access to these types of music sessions during a pandemic?
We’re living through such a historic moment in time and the Internet is connecting people in even greater ways. We have the ability to not only bring great music and talent to the masses, but on a mental and emotional level, we’re spreading positivity through art and culture.
It’s a difficult time for many of us, some more than others. Under the Covers aside, it doesn’t take much effort to show kindness, compassion, and love, especially now when we all need it the most.
Had it not been for the pandemic, do you think Under the Covers would still exist?
Great question. Going back to what I mentioned earlier, the sudden halt of our events business forced us to revert to brand building and content creation. While I do think we would have launched some iteration of the project if the pandemic never happened, the building process would have been a lot slower. It was a series of unfortunate events that led to it, but the silver lining is we were gifted with so much time, which we took every advantage of.
How can artists get involved?
We love when artists reach out to us for consideration. We’ve featured a few gems in the past who contacted us after seeing our other videos. One that comes to mind is a couple from Canada, Laynah & Jesse Daniel Smith who covered Beach Bunny – April. To this day, that one still gives me goosebumps.
The best way to reach us is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We always encourage artists to check out our YouTube & Instagram to get a sense of how we’re building a community of musicians and representing our content.
In September you partnered with Lebanese musician Firas Farah to raise money for the Beirut explosion. Do you have any future plans to fundraise for humanitarian causes?
Collaborating with Firas was such a gratifying and humbling experience for me. We reached out to him only a few days before the explosion, hoping to showcase his incredible guitar skills. He had confirmed his interest, but before we could agree on a song selection, the blast occurred.
Because we had such a brief initial communication, I wanted to make sure he and his family were ok, but was afraid that I would come across as insincere. After much deliberation, I ended up checking in on him, and to my surprise, he was beyond touched. As it turns out, he had been volunteering all of his time cleaning up the city, so although his family was safe, he was very much affected by the aftermath.
We collectively decided that we could use the platform for good by raising money for the Lebanese Red Cross to assist explosion victims. In addition to surpassing our financial goal, Firas left us a heartfelt rendition of Kendrick Lamar’s ft. SZA – All The Stars.
Music is the universal language. Being able to use our platform to help those in need is a responsibility, and we’ll for sure continue to do more in the future when the time calls for it.
Have you got anyone in the pipeline you’re really excited about showcasing?
In addition to featuring unknown artists throughout the world, one of our big initiatives for 2021 is to also showcase established and emerging acts in order to amplify visibility and build our ever-growing community. Bartees Strange put out one of my favorite albums of 2020, “Live Forever”. Following his appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers and Tiny Desk Concerts, we’ll be releasing a very special edition video with him in late March. We have more exciting special guests coming on early this year too, but in order to find out who, you’re going to have to just tune in.