#BILLCSTop30 #622 – September 13, 2021

If the music industry doesn’t come up with a better strategy other than for artists to keep releasing more, more, more new music, then the quality is going to suffer because of quantity. Already, there are too many awful knockoff cover versions released every week, none of which intends to try and be better than the original, and only exist to make money from unsuspecting listeners who flock to them on streaming services. I have a private playlist that I use to keep track of songs under consideration for review, both submissions and my own discoveries, it rarely sinks below 50 songs as I remove songs from it that I’ve written about or considered. Most songs I listen to get two or three listens before I make my decision to write about them or not. As a blogger who no longer has a full-time career and doesn’t use other contributors to write reviews, I can’t imagine the amount of releases continuing to increase. There’s definitely too much that falls in the lap of the artists, and it never seems like they can do enough to get ahead!  Rant over hehe.

Also, make sure you read about my ONLINE RADIO AFFILIATES (see details after the post) – all kinds of online radio announcing projects now keeping me busy!

Sweden’s Darin hangs tight at #1 for a second time with the fun pop-dance track “Can’t Stay Away”, which I like more than ever since it first debuted.  And it’s hard for such a great song to hold on to #1 when so many good ones are right behind.

Sofi Tukker and Amadou & Mariam move up 3-2 with the “Red Hot + Free” multilingual track “Mon Cheri” (above).  Sofi Tukker along with producer John Summit have a huge dance hit in the making with “Sun Came Up” at the link below.

And right behind “Mon Cheri” up 9-3 is “Sanctuary” (above), which features one of my favourite vocals of the year by “American Idol” contestant Robbie Rosen.  This beauty is produced by relatively new Dutch producer Howen, who has a bright career ahead.  Robbie’s other song on the chart, “Don’t Want Perfect” (below), with Quebec dance producer Kayliox, rises 18-13.

The triad of talent that is Russian producers Purple Guns, NYC singer Jessica Chertock, and Florida rapper Young Jae, came together this year for a fantastic cover of Noah Cyrus and XXXTentacion’s “Again”, which climbs 11-6 and is well worth your attention.  The highlight is a fantastic vocal by Jessica.

India’s Ashwyn climbs into the Top 10 with his pop-rock-dance fusion of “Sell My Soul”, which moves up 12-9.

“Break Me Down” rises 14-10 and becomes the second Top 10 for each of the producers, Autograf and Win & Woo, featuring a fine vocal by SINGA.

The Fastest Riser on the chart is one of the most enjoyable dance songs on release right now.  It’s “Never Going Home” by French producer Kungs, which climbs 19-12.

Reaching a new peak of 14 is “Anxious”, the taut and empathetic song with soulful touches by Australia’s Beamish Brothers.

Duck Sauce’s “Nonchalant” would normally have made a bigger jump of 24-19 but has a wall of other fine tracks to break through, so watch for some more movement in two weeks.  Its melody is sampled from Modern Romance’s 1981 release “Queen Of The Rapping Scene”.

“Take My Breath” is proving to be a more than worthy and highly danceable successor to “Blinding Lights” for The Weekend, and it rises 26-21.  It’s from The Weeknd’s upcoming yet untitled project.

NYC’s Gina Naomi Baez has a winner with her powerful anthemic ballad “My Time” (above), which moves up 27-23.  Check out her newest song “Liquor Love” below.

The Highest Debut of the week comes from Denmark’s Christian and Christian, aka Boye & Sigvardt, appearing on the chart for the second time with a real grower, “Microdose”, featuring singer and co-writer Jordan Shaw.  Although I’ve written about the talented lads several times since, their infectious song “Astronauts” (with MAGNUS and UHRE) reached #6 in 2017.

At #27 is no stranger to this chart.  Toronto’s Justin Nozuka is back with a soulful and thoughtful new release that will make you smile called “Nova”.  He appeared on the chart late last year with “No One But You” (with the Grammy-nominated Mahalia), which topped out at #4.  It’s his seventh song to reach the chart.

“Chasing Stars” is a rather unlikely collaboration between Alesso, Marshmello and James Bay that works like a charm!  It arrives at #29 and is Marshmello’s debut on this chart. It’s Alesso’s third appearance, following last year’s #8 “Midnight” (with Liam Payne) and the fourth for James, following “Chew On My Heart”, which peaked at #5 earlier this year.

“Almost Home” is a big welcome back to this chart for British trance legendary trio Above & Beyond, who return with the inimitable Justine Suissa at #30.  Both artists last appeared on the chart in mid-2004 at the same time, Above & Beyond under their pseudonym Oceanlab (with Justine on uncredited vocal), which reached #1, and Justine also billed as featured vocalist on Armin van Buuren’s “Burned With Desire”, which reached #11.  While trance has been rearing its head in the past few years outside of its sub-genre as an influence in other dance music sub-genres, is it about to make a big comeback? “Almost Home” could be its ticket.

View the full BILLCS Top 30 right here!  Click on the hyperlink on the song titles to hear the songs or watch the videos!

Listen to the BILLCS Top 30 Songs on Spotify! You can also follow me on Spotify at the following link: BILLCS Top 30 Songs

Check out and ‘like’ the BILLCS Music Projects Facebook page 🙂


Radio GTA – listen to The Big 20 from 10pm to Midnight EST as “The Musicman” James Rogers and I bring you the latest in new songs mixed with classics and songs you haven’t heard in a while.  And on Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to 6pm I bring you “Your Weekend Music Mix” six hours of commercial-free music from the 2000’s including many song choices from this blog.

Halton Hills Online – “Your Weekend Music Mix” has a second home on Saturday and Sunday evenings from 8pm to Midnight! It’s a different mix from Radio GTA’s show, and like that one it is also commercial free, proudly brought to you by Symposium Cafe Restaurant & Lounge in Georgetown, Ontario!

Planet Radio Canada –  I’m featured Tuesdays between 7 and 7:30 pm with my New Music Pick of the Week on the “3D Variety Show” with “The Musicman” James Rogers, and I also join occasionally for looks at music from our past through some live segments.  The show won’t broadcast on September 14 but will return.








Here’s why #OpenDoorSessions curated by charity-driven @NeonOwlco is your go-to music networking event

I’m departing a bit from my usual blog post format to encourage musicians and producers to invest in some valuable networking through Open Door Sessions (ODS), which are curated by founder Elaine Huang and her team at Neon Owl.  The Neon Owl team are taking their next virtual event on Saturday, August 21 to an amazing next level – they’ve invited key players and artists at Anjunabeats to participate in their panel discussion, on a production breakdown, as well as to listen to demos which have been submitted and selected in advance (the deadline was August 16). 

But even if you can’t submit your demo this time, it’s worthwhile to purchase a VIP ticket (which includes a charity donation) to listen, participate, and hear some great unreleased music.  Prior to the pandemic, ODS were held in person at a US location, so moving it online has opened even more doors to interested participants around the world who would not normally be able to attend in person.

It’s a bit lengthier a post than usual, but read along about my ODS experience and those of five artists. I’ve also featured a recent song by each artist.

My ODS Experience

I was sent an invite to Neon Owl’s April ODS by southern California producer Jay Bird, whose music I’ve been writing about for the last four years or so.  The Neon Owl team has created a safe and respectful environment which is meant to inspire and inform rather than dissect and criticize. The panel discussion was interesting and positive, but the demo session in particular was well-organized, gave every artist who was selected a chance to shine, and gave the listening panel as well as participants the opportunity to comment on some fine music and engage with the artists to the extent that time would permit.  I came away from this session wanting to get to know all of these folks better, and of course to attend future ODS.

To reinforce my illuminating experience, I engaged five previous participants, who could not speak highly enough about ODS.  

Jay Bird

In 2017, Jay Bird was looking to launch his new brand and sought out like-minded blogs (including yours truly!), tastemakers, and other Soundcloud users. He sent his music to Elaine, who really enjoyed it and the vibe, so she asked him to do a guest mix for one of the Neon Owl social media channels.  Jay then attended ODS in person in Oakland, since the topics of networking, getting shows, and improving as a DJ were of interest.  He immediately felt like he was part of a special community, meeting other artists and Elaine, and making friends in the process.

“There was no ego, everyone was welcoming and approachable”, he recalls. It was a big step forward as he began to see how working with the right people can help you accomplish your dream through mentorship, modeling behaviour, and giving back to the ODS community. “I started as an attendee, and then came back as a panelist. It’s about inspiring artists and paying it forward”, he says.

A memorable moment came when Andrew Rayel said he could hear the demo he presented being played on the radio. “He even mentioned that someone like Kaskade would play it”, says Jay. 

Jay’s networking skills also ramped up. He started curating a Spotify playlist (“The Birdhouse”) as well as an artist coaching program, which included new friends from the ODS community. “Be humble, edify other people, ask good questions. Create value for yourself to offer to other people”, he points out. 

Jay Bird releases his latest single on Friday August 20 called “Have To Go”.  Through a remix contest, he also has an unofficial remix of “Try” by MitiS currently available on Audius and Soundcloud, which he hopes will attract the interest of Ophelia Records (Seven Lions, Trivecta), or perhaps other similar labels.


Next, I was very pleased that during my ODS experience, one of the artists who submitted his demo for review, Indian performer Ashwyn, immediately connected with me with his submission for consideration in my blog. That led to me writing up his guitar-laced pop/rock effort “Sell My Soul”, which took a few steps away from his earlier work as a dance producer who recorded under the name Astra. And he’s only just 20!

Ashwyn found out about ODS through Jay Bird’s Instagram feed and compliments “the warm, community driven feedback and insights into the music industry” that ODS offered him. 

Importantly, “I learned about the different aspects of music marketing and how to build an organic fan base” and “got to talk to everyone in the VIP lounge”. He believes that ODS definitely encourages artists to express who they are, as that always comes from a deep and authentic place.

Ashwyn followed up “Sell My Soul” with the more progressive “Déjà Vu” and his next release is “more Indian and pop-driven” and “sounds like none of the tracks I’ve put out before”. 

Rahat Rashid

Rahat Rashid is a dance producer and PR media strategist who records under the name Reznor. and will be a panelist at Saturday’s ODS. He has known Elaine for years and has been participating in ODS since their early days in the mid-2010’s.  He’s continually amazed at the variety and quality of talent that has been participating in the events.  He also reinforces the authenticity of the artists who attend, and how he always learns something new – this is not just for beginners. 

“I’ve made some wonderful connections and even have found other folks I’ve wanted to collaborate with on future projects with,” he says. 

There was a previous ODS which allowed participants to talk openly about mental health, and hear how performers like Christian Burns and SILVA overcame their own personal issues, which he found illuminating.

“I also can’t forget the time when Andrew Rayel gave feedback on my most recent release, “Feeling My Soul”, and shared some glowing feedback on the release, even saying he’d play the track on his radio!”

He has upcoming projects on his home base Scorchin’ Records, but also has a major remix coming out on a compilation album next month too!


For someone who has to juggle family responsibilities and a full-time job and doesn’t consider himself good at networking, producer SAKET found out about ODS through social media hoping for some worthwhile comments about his music after 10 years of producing, as well as to assist with networking.  Originally from India and based in Maryland, SAKET got more out of ODS than what he was expecting when Andrew Rayel gave him some amazing feedback, especially considering the demo SAKET presented was created with Andrew’s label in mind.

“His comments validated that I can actually make good quality music,” says SAKET, who plays to attend future ODS as a result of his positive experience.

For what’s next, SAKET says “This year I’m planning on establishing my other project, T3KAS, I really wish I made music which is completely different than my SAKET project that focuses on trance music. Under my T3KAS project, I have already signed multiple tracks to the label run by The Disco Fries, and a couple of tracks to another label in the UK . I have at least 6 to 7 finished songs but I’ll start pitching in the coming weeks.”

Danny Fathom

San Francisco-based DJ and producer Danny Fathom found out about ODS quite by accident. Another artist, Ducka Shan, asked him to attend with him, and Danny found his first session had a great environment that was full of approachable people. He has now attended five ODS, and describes them as good containers for people to interact or network and hear demos.  

Attending ODS for Danny has helped improve his self-confidence immeasurably. “You’re in the same room as big artists who can listen at your level”, he says.  In fact, through one of the sessions, he got one song “Owen” (above) signed through another artist and attendee, Ram, though it needed some work and was ultimately improved with the help of another producer. In February, Sacha Robotti of Dirty Bird Records thought the demo he submitted was a lot of fun and asked if he could work with it. 

So while Sasha works away at his demo, Danny also recently got to open for Tritonal – twice! You can see photos from those shows, hear clips of his demo, and another new song called “Wanting You” on Danny’s Instagram feed.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the next Open Door Session on Saturday, August 21!  I will be attending again, and you can find all details including cost and what charity will benefit from your payment at http://www.neonowl.co/opendoorsessions!!

#BILLCSTop30 #617, July 5/21

The new chart is so chockful of my favourites that it seems pretty static, with only a few songs making decent-sized moves. But if you’ve followed this blog or my chart, then you’ll know that this is temporary.

With this chart, I’m pleased that my number one song is “Myself In You” (above) by Italy’s Lordnox and NYC’s Victor Perry.  Victor’s music has been appearing regularly on the chart since 2016 and this is his first trip to the top, and almost certainly not the last!  I was delighted that Lordnox could capture the glory and diversity of Victor’s vocal in this particular song. It makes the song just so much fun!  Victor has a second entry on the chart with French producer Kislaw called “Slip Away” (below), which climbs 20-17.

Making an impressive move from 7-4 is the emotional electronic whirlwind that is “Sideways” by Illenium, singer Valerie Broussard and fellow producer Nurka.  Illenium performed his first three albums in concert in Las Vegas as his “Trilogy” show this past weekend, which is quite an amazing accomplishment.

Glass Petals’ infectious deep house track “Heartbeat” is making short work of its time in the Top 10, rising 9-6.  One half of Glass Petals, Juno Award-winner Felix Cartal, released his latest album Expensive Sounds For Nice People, which is chock full of many of his single releases of the past two years.

To no surprise, the dance floor banger “The Feels” by Cash Cash featuring Alex Newell advances 12-9 – for now!

The darker and deeper house track from Australia, “Unnatural” by Needs No Sleep and Jeremy Beamish, is the other newcomer to the Top 10, up 11-10.

Whenever I play Greyson Chance’s “Hellboy”, I am stuck humming it for hours on end. This quirky track from his album Trophies climbs 16-11.

The Fastest Riser on the chart was the Highest Debut two weeks ago.  It’s “Can’t Stay Away” by Sweden’s Darin, which is now accompanied by a zesty, splashy video loaded with cool choreography. It soars 22-14.

Another banger from England to keep your ears on is “Give Me That” (23-19) by producers Charlie Lane and Gold 88 with a stunning vocal by Kate Wild.

While it’s already been to the top of the dance charts, “You” by Regard, Troye Sivan and Tate McRae (27-21) is also headed to the Top 10 of Top 40 radio.

The Highest Debut on the chart is also a first on the chart. In the over 23 years that I’ve published it, a completely redone version of a song originally recorded by the same artist has never charted – until now!  Moby’s “Natural Blues” reached #5 on my chart in 2000, and 21 years later he has re-recorded it and some of his other best known songs on his album Reprise.  “Natural Blues”, featuring the stellar vocals of Gregory Porter and Amythyst Kiah arrives at #24.  Some chart geekery: Because it was re-recorded, it is not considered to be a re-entry.

Next up at #26 is India’s Ashwyn with the guitar-soaked “Sell My Soul”.  This single preceded his latest, more progressive rock-flavoured one “Deja Vu” , which I wrote about recently.  Ashwyn is also the second artist from India to appear on my chart, following DJ Shaan’s “By Heart” which reached #10 earlier this year.

My third debut at #27 is the second chart appearance by Australia’s Beamish Brothers called “Anxious”.  Ben and Jeremy previously were featured on “Black Gasoline” by Mark Mendy, which got to #6.  And Jeremy is currently charting at #10 with Needs No Sleep.  Their music keeps on getting better and better so this is their first appearance on the chart as lead artists.  In fact I just wrote about their newest single “Privilege” this past weekend, so check it out too.

The last of four debuts at #28 is “Gone Tomorrow” by Southern California producer Jay Bird with vocalist Clay Agnew.  This is definitely in the Illenium/Trivecta vein and is exceptionally well done as an independent release. Jay Bird recently got to #4 with “Escape”.


NEW AND STARTING JULY 10!! I’m pleased to announce that I will be your weekend announcer on Halton Hills Online and Radio GTA  for my show “Your Weekend Music Mix”.  The show will air Saturday and Sunday afternoons on Halton Hills Online and Saturday and Sunday evenings on Radio GTA.  Be sure to check it out next weekend!

Planet Radio Canada is currently on hiatus for a few weeks and will return!

The music from this chart and blog are also featured regularly on the online radio station Radio GTA. You can hear their Big 20 on Wednesday evenings, also with ‘The Musicman’ James Rogers, and listen for songs from the chart too 🙂Scroll down the station’s main page to listen to lots of variety from across the decades!   You can start by joining Radio GTA’s new interactive Facebook group too!!

View the full BILLCS Top 30 right here!  Click on the hyperlink on the song titles to hear the songs or watch the videos!

Listen to the BILLCS Top 30 Songs on Spotify! Click on this link to take you there, and follow me on Spotify: BILLCS Top 30 Songs

Check out and ‘like’ the BILLCS Music Projects Facebook page 🙂

India’s @Ashwynmusic is back with progressive rock-flavoured electronica called “Déjà Vu”

ASHWYN, “Déjà Vu”

Back in early May, I wrote about Indian producer Ashwyn‘s rock flavoured electronic track “Sell My Soul”, which features awesome guitar work and an intriguing story sung with a committed vocal.  Continuing to find gaps to tell his own musical story, Ashwyn has followed up “Sell My Soul” with the decidedly different “Déjà Vu”.  This one is likely to appeal to rock music fans even more than “Sell My Soul”, while still capturing progressive electronic music fans’ attention with its rich production which would sound fantastic in a stadium setting.  With a big nod to Pink Floyd, the song starts with two minutes of instrumentation before Ashwyn’s vocal kicks in to tell the story about looking outside of the box while routine and history repeat themselves. Amid the beautiful instrumentation are the sounds of a live string quartet orchestrated by Spanish composer Pedro Osuna. “Déjà Vu” is all about mystery, quality and experience, and the real instruments give the song warmth and depth. It’s hardly what you might have expected after “Sell My Soul” and might be a transitional release as a result, but there’s no denying that Ashwyn’s music can stand apart from the rest and hold its own.

Published in: on June 28, 2021 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Get to know the music of India’s @Ashwynmusic with “Sell My Soul”

ASHWYN, “Sell My Soul”

At only 20 years old, Bangalore, India producer and musician Ashwyn Sriram already kickstarted his platform in pop music as a teenager as electronic dance producer Astra.  Even with the support of Hardwell and a release on the producers Revealed Recordings, it was not enough for Ashwyn to get to the heart of what he really wanted to record.  Already an accomplished electronic guitarist, Ashwyn has been releasing songs since 2019 rather quietly under his new guise, with growing additional support from Nicky Romero and Axwell as well as Rolling Stone magazine.  “Sell My Soul” is a classic story about what you trade off and get back in return, and whether or not it’s worth it.  The gentle vocal gives way to some terrific guitar work which makes “Sell My Soul” all the more memorable.  As a producer, Ashwyn knows how to make a song flow, filling the gaps with interesting instrumentation and sounds.  Currently studying at the Berklee College of Music, Ashwyn has plenty of new music coming, so stay tuned for more.

Published in: on May 9, 2021 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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