I recently published a list of great L.A. solo artists, so I figured why not follow with one featuring artists all over the world! There’s some really good stuff in here—like really good—spanning from Nashville to Malaysia.
Here are 14 solo artists making beautiful music around the world.
Swedish-Iranian artist Ayelle bares all on her NOMAD Mixtape. The R&B pop album features collaborations with friend Rationale, as well as production cuts from Stavros, Lucas Nord & The Elements.
NOMAD “is a collection of songs written over the past two years whilst I’ve been traveling almost every 2-3 weeks to places like London, New York, Los Angeles, Texas, Valencia, Barcelona, Bali, Cambodia, Vietnam, Stockholm, and Amsterdam to name a few. Throughout my life, I’ve never felt fully rooted anywhere. I grew up in Sweden and Spain, I’m half Iranian, I lived in London for 7 years and my family is spread across the globe. On my dad’s side, my family comes from a nomadic tribe called ‘Qashqai’ and this resonates with me a lot as I can never seem to stay in one place for too long. Every song on this mixtape represents a part of that journey and something I’ve learnt about myself, or something I’m still trying to figure out.”
The tendency to explore a range of topics like self-worth and power dynamics within relationships is one consistent factor in Ayelle’s music. The emotive vocals with compelling, vulnerable lyrics, creates beautiful-and sometimes bittersweet-music that we can all relate to.
In 2019 Ayelle was signed to Universal Music Publishing US.
Multi-instrumentalist musician Cian Ducrot takes a nomadic approach to pop music, having been raised in Cork, based in Camden, and sometimes recording in Los Angeles.
His single “Fucked Up All the Time” followsed singles “Clothes” and “21 Seconds.” The track was released on Cian Ducrot’s own label and distributed by Believe.
“I wrote that song after a dispute with my family when they were teasing me for dropping out of college as it was a big risk! Everything in life seemed like it was abandoning me and this song flowed out with all those feelings! My family is always extremely supportive and continues to be but in this one moment I felt like I had lost that and it was frightening.”
The college he’s referring to is London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Music—where he’d been granted a full scholarship. However, Ducrot was finding that he’d end up missing school to write his own material and teach himself production.
After finding an unlikely mentor in Shawn Mendes’ pianist Eddy Ruyter, Cian realized that leaving school was the best option, and while undoubtedly a hard decision, it ended up being an inspiring one.
The single release of “Fucked Up All the Time” is accompanied by a monochrome video, in which Cian is seen playing almost every instrument – from piano and guitar to drums and flute.
“It was hard,” he says of shooting the video. “I cried. We had limited time and budget and I really wanted to nail it with all my emotions. We did a lot of takes to get one I was happy with but it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to shoot more!”
Wonho’s debut album resonated with fans all around the world. He’s now further exploring his range of artistry on this album, showcasing his songwriting and producing skills throughout multiple tracks. The focus track “Lose” depicts the story of a man who has overcome the trauma of parting, trying to get over the breakup to face and find his true self.
For the first time during his solo career, Wonho has teamed up with an American artist on the track “Ain’t About You.” Multi-platinum singer-songwriter, KIIARA’s
Co-written by Wonho, “WENEED,” was inspired by the official fandom name ‘WENEE,’ containing sincerity for his fans and the people around him who have sent him infinite support and affection. Wonho spills out his true emotions through his heartfelt delivery; “Even in the darkest times. You were the one pulling me through….When I’m back on the stage. Can you wave your hands again. This song’s for you. Can you sing it along.”
“Flash” is a song that expresses the feelings of letting someone go, comparing a light to his yearning and longing. The lyrics emphasize a dreamy and sentimental feeling by comparing the flickering lights of a lighthouse to the characteristics of the other person’s emotions; which illuminate the darkness and are later recognized by someone who is having a hard time. By exploring many different genres throughout this mini-album, Wonho has a song for every listener.
Prior to releasing her solo work, Swedish artist Elina wrote for artists such as Zara Larsson, Astrid S, Maroon 5, and SZA.
“I had written a few songs I really loved but hadn’t been picked up by any artist, so I decided to release them myself. Creating this artist ‘persona’ and everything is still very alien but making music on my own terms has been such a healing experience.”
Elina (real name Elina Stridh) released a single called “Free” to follow her May 2019 debut EP, In Hindsight.
“I had a bittersweet feeling writing ‘Free.’ We tend to live our lives in all places but the present, chasing after everything we don’t have and forgetting what’s right in front of our eyes. The story of the song is about losing yourself in the memories of a love that has ended, wishing you’d seen the beauty of it while it was still yours. Love is never easy or flawless, but you had a true version of it. In the rearview mirror, you’re looking back at it with different eyes knowing that being with this person was the greatest freedom of all.”
Multi-faceted musician, director, and personality Conor Maynard.
Conor Maynard first came to prominence when his debut album Contrast went straight to the #1 spot. The album featured hit singles like “Can’t Say No” and “Vegas Girl.”
That album was followed with Covers, a collection of his takes on modern classics from the likes of Drake, Zayn, and Shawn Mende
Here we have his big pop ballad, “For the Night.” The song shows off the singer’s vocal range and drips with passionate emotion.
The stripped-back (and incredible) live version of the song now has over 3.7 million views on YouTube.
Alextbh is a native of Kuala Lumpur and proud queer amidst a highly conservative society. For Alex, music is not only an outlet for resistance but a platform to incite change.
His single “Moments” was released alongside his deput EP, The Chase, much of which was self-written and produced by the Malaysian artist.
“Moments” is a merge between modern R&B with a raw pop sensibility.
“The prelude to the next chapter of my story, ‘Moments’ explores the strained duality arising from being bruised in the aftermath of a broken romance and attempting to avoid channeling that negative energy into the next one (though not always succeeding). It’s a vicious cycle, but one easy to fall into; this song uncovers that dilemma.”
Alex has shared the stage with artists like Khalid, Sevdaliza, and Jess Connelly.
He’s played festivals such as Good Vibes Festival in Malaysia, Laneway Festival in Singapore, and Lalala Festival in Indonesia, and is confirmed to play Jakarta’s We The Fest 2020.
“The song doesn’t come from a place of vendetta. It was really an act of reflection, and when I sing it, I hope that feeling will be shared by others, maybe about a friend they lost.”
“Evan” was the first original song released by Elise LeGrow. Her debut original album follows her critically acclaimed debut ‘Playing Chess’, which features LeGrow’s
Grammy Award-nominated multi-platinum Danish artist Lukas Graham released a new track called “Love Songs,” via Warner Records, which he describes as a “love song turned on its head.”
“Everyone hears love songs differently and there are people out there who think certain songs are written directly to them, and we found that idea hilarious. So we wrote a song about that.”
The song is accompanied by a music video that goes down a MySpace profile memory lane.
Lukas has also teamed up with G-Eazy on the high energy song “Share that Love,” which was produced by long-term producer Rissi (Kygo, Julia Mi
“I grew up in a neighbourhood where if you had something, you shared it. The place is called Christiania. It’s an old army base that got squatted in 1971. The community operates from the concept that nobody owns their house and that you can do what you want, as long as you don’t inhibit others from doing what they want. For all the upsides to living in Christiania, there was also trouble with the police, or issues with gangs in the city…”
…I’ve tried to embody all of that in this song, and when I listen to it I’m reminded of some of the ways our community has really come together, like all the great parties we’ve thrown, or the huge protests where we’ve marched against the government threatening to evict us from Christiania. In these troubling times, I guess it is more important than ever to share what we have, especially your love.”
The UK R&B talent Jones first released a version of her song “Camera Flash” that contained soaring disco synths, pulsating electro-pop, and moments reminiscent of the ‘90s R&B golden era. This second version is stripped back with the stunning acoustics of just her vocals and her guitar.
The song is about wanting a relationship when everyone else seems to be craving a casual connection.
After growing up listening to Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, and Bob Marley, JONES found her way into songwriting as a teenager.
Nashville based artist Daniella Mason released a feminist anthem called “Woman Lover Powerful.”
Daniella Mason stated that the song is partly based on her own experiences but that it’s much bigger than that, telling “a multifaceted narrative for the most multifaceted beings on the planet.”
“The track acts as a call to arms to all women who are struggling and reminds them of the power they have inside of them… For Mason, this song serves as a dedication to all of the women in her life who persevered against all odds… It’s through her lyrics that Mason shines, and her glow is even brighter when she’s singing about the women in her life who she adores.”
This song was the first release of the Nashville alt-pop artist’s EP, Physical State, which is a continuation of her State of Mine sound series that includes previously released EPs, Mental State and Emotional State.
Charlotte Jane wrote “Down Days” prior to the pandemic but has taken on a whole new relevance following it.
The song is off her EP Refuge, and she directed the accompanying music video at her home and in the East Yorkshire countryside. Channeling the song’s vulnerabilities in a revealing visual, we watch her go through the motions of an ordinary day. But she can never quite shake the attention of an ominous figure—the monster under the bed—played by Jessica Beard.
“That lyric is something I’ve had to keep telling myself so often throughout the last year. It’s a reminder that everything is going to be alright, tomorrow is a new day, the clouds are temporary and better days are coming. I’ve experienced these dark, cloudy periods of time every so often since my teens. By directing and filming the music video at home myself, it gave me the chance to tell the story of what it’s like to live in my mind when I feel that way.”
Charlotte Jane has been steeped in music since childhood. She still lives in her hometown of Hull. Her earliest memory is seeing her grandparents—a touring soul duo—perform. And it wasn’t long before she was joining them on stage. Music was her passion and her gift for it was soon noticed.
After graduating from local open mic nights and gigging around the north-east, Jane started writing songs that were noticed by global hitmaker Toby Gad. (Beyoncé, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Fergie.) After a single meeting, Charlotte Jane was offered a publishing deal. That led to the release of her independently released debut EP ‘Nowhere To Hide’, which soon reached 12 million streams.
Jane was included on The Sun’s 21 Artists To Watch Out For In 2021. Lewis Capaldi says that the 22-year-old is tipped as becoming “one of the biggest f**king things in the world.”
“This is a song about a guy I was seeing who, immediately after telling me how ‘special’ I was, told me that he didn’t want to date me and that we should just be friends,” explains Charlotte. “I drove home that night and started to realize how many times I had been called ‘special’ over the years by guys that ended up not wanting to be in a relationship with me, and I wrote ‘I’m so sick of being special’ in my notes. I thought the idea of thinking something is rare but not holding onto it was interesting, and that’s where the lyrics ‘it’s so easy how you let go, guess I’m not that fu***** special’ came from.”
Originally from Massachusetts and now based in Atlanta, Georgia, Clairo encourages openness for the LGBTQ+ community and women through her music.
The single “Bags” followed the release of her EP ‘Diary 001.’ The song seemed to be turning point, entering a new stage of her music. It has a different tone that her previous work, including different themes and sounds.
Swedish artist Shy Martin was inspired to write her single “Make Us Never Happen” after a real-life relationship that didn’t go as planned.
“A few years ago I fell in love with my best friend, only to realize later that it was a big mistake. By that time, too many things had passed that we couldn’t unsay or undo. Our relationship was short and intense. We both ended up hurt and damaged, desperately trying to figure out why we couldn’t make sense together. The truth really was simple, we didn’t need each other in that way. I don’t like to regret anything, but I hated losing the person I cared about the most, and I hated how we destroyed the friendship we once had when all we wanted was to save each other. It took me a long time to accept that I wouldn’t get my best friend back and that I had to let go.”
Shy co-wrote and had vocals featured vocal on Mike Perry’s “The Ocean (ft. SHY Martin),” which was awarded Spotify Sweden’s ‘Most Streamed Song of the Year’ after garnering 600 million streams.
Since then SHY’s songwriting catalog has generated 2.5 billion Spotify streams, with credits on “First Time” by Kygo ft. Ellie Goulding, “(Not) The One” by Bebe Rexha, “All We Know” by The Chainsmokers, “I Wanna Know” by NOTD (ft. Bea Miller), as well as songs for Jess Glynne, Astrid S, and ALMA, and others.
Danish talent Nicklas Sahl released a love song called “In the Window Frame,” which was constructed around the idea of “I just need to know that you’re alive.” It explores being lost in the loneliness of heartbreak and longing to go back to a moment that has long passed…but all within a summary, feel-good vibe.
“‘In The Window Frame’ is about the feeling of being stuck in the past. When the loneliness hits you and you get dragged into the illusion of missing the girl, even though you know deep inside that it’s not rational. The classic situation where you are standing in a bar, sending her a text, knowing that you will regret it at the very next moment. In the song, I walk the line and go out and scream her name towards the window frame and wake up all the neighbours. In real life, I go to the studio and write a song about doing it instead. It is easier to tell the story and yell it out from the speakers than out in the real world.”
The accompanying videos explores Nicklas’ escaping those thoughts in the way that he knows best: by setting his home studio up, plugging in his guitar and channeling those frustrations into a song.
Willie Jones released a single called “Back Porch,” which is a merge of modernist country with hip-hop infused production, had already garnered over two million streams at the time the video was made.
Willie Jones co-wrote the song with Nick Autry (Keith Urban, Carrie Underworld, Garth Brooks) and producer Michael Lotten (Mitchell Tenpenny, Dustin Lynch).
The song came out of a difficult personal time, but the song’s message is enticing grab a cold drink, hang out with someone you love, and embrace one of life’s simplest pleasures.
“I wasn’t in the best place mentally, spiritually or physically but one afternoon, I was on my buddy’s back porch, chilling, in the open air and it really helped me to reassess things” explains Willie. “I think now more than ever people need some peace of mind and being outside, chilling with the ones you love in the comfortability of your own home or back porch is the way to get that. The song is a reminder to be thankful for everything you have.”
Todrick wrote and recorded the entire EP EP Quarantine Queen within a week, and the result is highly upbeat, smart, and hilarious.
The music video for “Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrubs,” (an update on Todrick’s ‘Nails, Hair, Hips Heels,” which garnered over 50 million streams) features a wide array of guest appearances, including:
Nicole Scherzinger, Little Mix, Queer Eye’s Tan France, members of the Netflix docuseries Cheer, dancers AJ and Curtis Pritchard, Love Island’s Amber Gill, Glee’s Amber Riley, British drag queen star Baga Chipz, YouTube star Colleen Ballinger AKA Miranda, and possibly most importantly…Brody Schaffer, AKA @bossbabybrody, the four-year-old internet dancing sensation.
The song is a major bop, exploring the important topics that are on so many minds these days, such as the long line at Trader Joes, the location of all the toilet paper, and Carol Baskin’s ex-husband.
Lil Noodle, better known to some as musician and songwriter Christian Caceres, finds “interesting it to make a song without writing anything down, straight from the top of your head.” That’s what happened when he made
“‘HAZMAT,’ which was written and recorded by Yla Howe and me, was actually made at my house. We went to my studio and completely freestyled. It was the first song that Yla and I did, where we literally loaded up a beat we found on YouTube and just punched in lines.
No writing was involved at all – we just went verse for verse and tweaked it at the end. I think it’s pretty interesting to make a song without writing anything down, straight from the top of your head. The song is basically like a bouncy vibe, and it’s just about living life.
Olive Louise released a single entitled “Fool” about embracing your most authentic self and not feeling guilty about being happy in life. It showcases ethereal soundscapes, floating synths, and layered vocal harmonies.
“Fool” was mixed by Andrew Wuepper (who’s worked with Justin Bieber) and mastered by Chris Gehringer (Beyonce, Rihanna, Cardi B, Lady Gaga.)
The single is a personal narration of Louise’s own struggles, written at a time in her life when she was having a hard time sorting through other people’s negative opinions.
“I was at a really low point in my life, I had gained weight, was too nervous to run into people I knew for fear of judgment, and felt like some of the people I had been there for the most didn’t want the best for me. It was hard to trust myself and my judgment”.
“Fool” is a self-love anthem, written with a hint of sarcasm, and a representation of letting go of what no longer serves her. Now Louise says, “I’m confident in my skin, I’m confident in myself and I trust that I’ll always find my way.”
In 2011, Black’s viral hit “Friday” was viewed by more than 150 million people worldwide…but 2021 it was a whole different story, as Rebecca Black has all new music and a new RIAA Gold certification under her belt.
I’m resisting the urge to start this off “Rebecca Black is back,” because she kind of is, but you know, it’s bigger than that.
“I’ve been dreaming of playing shows in Europe my entire life, and after connecting with so many people internationally in my audience online over the last year…I legit can’t wait to finally meet face to face and party safely together.”
UK artist Adam Hender released his debut album Sick along with a single by the same name, which is an introspective look at mourning the demise of a broken relationship. Hender describes his style as “heartfelt pop with an edge.”
How did you first get started in music?
It all started when I changed school to be with a new group of friends. That’s when I picked up the guitar at 13. I took music in that school and failed. But if it wasn’t for that move, I probably wouldn’t have started to play the guitar.
I joined an indie rock band called Engage The Enemy and did some really small pub shows. Around the age of 16 I was writing my own music and went solo so to speak. That’s when I started to make waves in the local scene and learn my trade.”