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Anjulie To Release Lost Song Via NFTs With Art by Machado Leão

Anjulie and digital artist Machado Leão speak about their new NFT drop — which features the singer's lost song “White Lights.”
Sep 30, 2021
Anjulie and Machado Leão.
Anjulie and Machado Leão.

Mononymous Canadian recording artist, songwriter and producer Anjulie has had quite a roller coaster career, despite releasing only one self-titled studio album in 2009.

A true musical polymath, the genre-fluid singer-songwriter has worked with a myriad of artists across the pop music spectrum, from Diplo and Zedd to Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga. Anjulie’s latest collaboration is not with another musician, however, but rather a Brazilian visual artist — albeit a musically motivated one — who goes by Machado Leão. Brought together by a desire to produce and distribute art independently, on their own terms and without the interference of middlemen or gatekeepers, the somewhat unlikely duo — with the help of Brazilian animation studio UP – Inspiring Motion — is releasing a lost track from Anjulie’s catalog in the form of an NFT drop: her long-awaited previously unreleased 2012 single, “White Lights.” The collection will include three pieces set to snippets of the song, each accompanied by a redeemable download of the full master track, exclusively available at Crypto.com/NFT on Oct. 6.

Where the White Lights Go

Following her soulful, R&B-infused debut album, including her eclectic breakout single “Boom,” Anjulie began teasing a new sound in 2011 — attempting to bring complex songwriting and an indie-pop aesthetic to mainstream dance music with her Juno-nominated, Canadian platinum hit “Brand New Bitch” and lyrics-forward followup “Stand Behind the Music.” The would-be third single, “White Lights,” was previewed in a 2012 dance concept video — but was shelved by her label, despite an overwhelmingly positive response in the blogosphere. Simply put, Anjulie explained: “The music executive who had the rights to my commercial releases at the time said it wasn’t a hit song.”

A still of an NFT from the “White Lights” collection.
A still of an NFT from the “White Lights” collection by Anjulie, Machado Leão and UP – Inspiring Motion.

Instead, “Stand Behind the Music” was followed by a string of other singles and videos: “Headphones”; her 2013 Juno-winner for best dance recording, “You and I”; and “Allison.” The rollout was intended to lead to Anjulie’s ambitious sophomore album. Unfortunately for her fans, however, the LP was never released — and songs like “White Lights” were lost to the annals of time, short of a SoundCloud leak or two. That is, until Anjulie was introduced to the NFT space.

“I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some incredibly talented artists and figure out how to build my sound design around what they are doing or vice versa. It’s inspired me to think about music in a completely different way.”

Anjulie, Creator of “White Lights”

Music in the Metaverse

With a Decentraland partnership and several drops now under her belt, Anjulie has truly embraced NFTs — and even aims to educate fellow creators, ushering them into the space. Though she continues to put new music out independently, and recently hosted a virtual release party for her 2021 single “Big Bad World” in the metaverse, Anjulie has also decided to start dropping unreleased songs from her stash as NFTs in partnership with visual artists like Leão — whom she found on social media, and who happens to be fan. “It was surreal to see Anjulie sending me a message,” Leão confessed.

“I think a lot of people are hesitant about all things crypto and blockchain-related, and that poses a barrier to entry. I’d like to bring more independent artists into the space and help them connect the dots.”

Anjulie, Creator of “White Lights”

The Art of Business, Or Vice Versa

Born Leandro Costa Machado, the 31-year-old digital artist grew up in the small town of Tombos in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The son of a singer and an artisan, Leão was raised in the arts — but studied business administration in college, graduating in 2015. He took up digital art four years later, incidentally after giving a lecture on cryptocurrency at a university, and has since become a full-time designer — licensing his work online.

Stills of NFTs from the “White Lights” collection.
Stills of NFTs from the “White Lights” collection by Anjulie, Machado Leão and UP – Inspiring Motion.

Crypto.com NFT spoke with Anjulie and Leão about the history behind “White Lights” and why it never got an official release, their relationship with the song, what NFTs mean for independent artists and more.

“This release is very special to me. I’ve been waiting since 2012 for Anjulie to release this song — and here I am, almost nine years later, being a part of it.”

Machado Leão, Creator of “White Lights”

Read the Q&A with Anjulie and Machado Leão below, and visit the “White Lights” drop page for more information.

Anjulie10

What attracted you both to the NFT space?

Anjulie: I love the community! It has been incredibly welcoming to me, as an independent artist. I also love how visual artists are being celebrated in this space.

Leão: I got to know NFTs through a music project that I should never have been a part of. It was in July of last year. At that time, I didn’t have that much commercial interest and just ignored it. A few months later, I saw a friend selling crypto art and I was fascinated by this world.

Anjulie, you’ve been pretty active in the space; can you speak to your experience with NFTs and how it’s been so far?

Anjulie: I love it. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some incredibly talented artists and figure out how to build my sound design around what they are doing or vice versa. It’s inspired me to think about music in a completely different way.

Anjulie Releases Lost Song Via NFTs With Art by Machado Leão

How did you both link for this drop?

Anjulie: I’m always looking for amazing visual artists to work with, and Machado’s work really spoke to me. Despite the language barrier, we connected immediately.

Leão: I’ve always been very connected to the music world, especially [since] I started working with digital art. I confess, it was surreal to see that Anjulie sent me a message on [social media]. She’s an amazing artist and I got to know her music in 2012, when Cher Lloyd re-recorded a song of hers — [“Stand Behind the Music”] — on her debut album.

Music is sort of the unifying force behind this collection; how do you see the role of music evolving in the space?

Leão: I’ve always been a music lover and I know how strong it is. Being able to be a part of this is a great blessing. I believe that NFTs have opened a very big door for artists to present their fans with exclusive releases and rare content, like our release.

Anjulie: I think NFTs will be everything — so not just visuals, or music or art, but all things that exist on the internet. I imagine music will play the same role that it does on the internet in general.

What are some of the practical applications and opportunities NFTs present musical artists?

Anjulie: They’re able to go direct to consumers. The music industry has typically left little for the artist after managers, publishers, record companies and DSPs take their cuts. This is a space where the independent artist can really thrive.

Anjulie Releases Lost Song Via NFTs With Art by Machado Leão

Did you turn to NFTs as a way to reclaim any revenue lost during the pandemic — say from touring?

Anjulie: I’ve never been into touring. I don’t sleep well on buses! I also prefer making new music as opposed to playing the same songs over and over. My interest in NFTs was really just based on exploring a space that gives more control to the artists.

Were either of you interested or involved in cryptocurrency or blockchain prior to NFTs?

Anjulie: No, I wasn’t. It wasn’t until it became a space for independent artists to thrive that I really got turned onto it.

Leão: I got to know Bitcoin in 2017 and gave a lecture on cryptocurrencies at a university in late 2018. That same night, I got to know surreal art on [social media] and started creating.

Machado, why do you call yourself “the lion man?”

Leão: I usually say I’m a lion-headed guy. “Lion man” is the meaning of my real name, Leandro. I was working on a music-related side project in 2019 and I needed a stage name… My mom was cleaning and throwing a bunch of old stuff away, [including] my kindergarten work. I learned to sign my name as “Leão” — which means “lion” in Portuguese. I understood that this was not by chance and decided to adopt this name. My stage name carries my story: “Machado,” [which means] axe, is my father’s family name — and I use it to honor [my] grandfather Américo, who died in 2014.

How did you get into digital art?

Leão: I was unemployed. It was [a] difficult and dark time. I had just gotten out of the university where I lectured on cryptocurrencies, when [a social media platform] recommended a surreal collage — and it was love at first sight. I was literally in a yellow cab going to the sushi bar with my friends, to spend money I didn’t have. I wanted a change and it happened that night, because it was the beginning of everything. My 2019 was [spent] creating and sharing on [social media]… I’ve always been an artist, I just didn’t know it.

Anjulie Releases Lost Song Via NFTs With Art by Machado Leão

What do you use to make your work?

Leão: People are often puzzled when I answer this question. While most artists I know work with Photoshop, I just use my phone and a touch pen. It’s always been like that, and I’ve tried to work in others ways and with other resources — but it [is] very difficult for me.

Can you describe the process of how you worked with UP – Inspiring Motion on the animations?

Leão: Anjulie always said she wanted an animation for our NFT release, because she believed [it would result in] a better commercial performance — [but] it was hard to find someone to do that… I met Igor, the guy who made the animations, through a group of Brazilian artists. He is also an NFT adventurer. The studio where he works has done animations for Justin Bieber, Usher and Will Smith — so [we felt] this was the best choice. Anjulie was impressed and approved of everything. I will definitely work with them again.

Stylistically, the animations for this collection are a little different from your previous work. Can you speak to the meaning behind the artwork in these NFTs, and what inspired it?

Leão: Yeah, they’re completely different — and I feel like I should have done that from the start for this kind of release. I always say, “A commercial artist has to do what the market is asking [for]; find a trend and follow it.”

This release is very special to me. I’ve been waiting since 2012 for Anjulie to release this song — and here I am, almost nine years later, being a part of it. This is surreal!

Anjulie Releases Lost Song Via NFTs With Art by Machado Leão

Let’s talk about “White Lights.” Can you speak to this history behind this song and what makes it special?

Anjulie: I wrote “White Lights” with my friend John O’Brien years ago. A lot of my favorite songs are about escapism and self-identity. This song is all about getting out of your body and going somewhere transcendent.

Leão: I believe in this song and the world needs to hear it.

Why didn’t it ever get an official release?

Anjulie: The music executive who had the rights to my commercial releases at the time said it wasn’t a hit song.

Will you be releasing the song in its entirety on streaming platforms following the NFT collection?

Anjulie: Not immediately; we want to keep it exclusively as an NFT first.

Do you plan to release any other “lost” singles as NFTs?

Anjulie: Yes! I have a few more on deck that I’m excited to release.

What are some other ways you would like to utilize NFTs in the future?

Anjulie: I recently partnered with Decentraland and am doing virtual performances in that space with my NFT releases.

I’d like to bring more artists, songwriters and musicians into the [NFT] space. I think a lot of people are hesitant about all things crypto and blockchain-related, and that poses a barrier to entry. I’d like to bring more independent artists into the space and help them connect the dots.

Leão: There are countless talented artists out there who need to be discovered and given the visibility their art deserves. I hope I can do this more often.

Anjulie Releases Lost Song Via NFTs With Art by Machado Leão

Machado, who are some of the other musical artists you plan to work with on NFT collections?

Leão: NFTs introduced me to a new world, and also new people. I’ve been talking to some DJs who send me their music regularly: Holly, who [I’m already designing] a new release called “Afterlight” [with]; DJ Ride, who I’ve [also] worked with; and DJ Burn One — who I’m [very] excited to work [with].

Rashid Ajami — who appeared in Forbes in 2017 — sent me the master to one of his new songs so [that] we can do something. I also want to work with FÉL, who is Sofia’s boyfriend — [Sofia] from V5 and “The X-Factor: Celebrity”— and maybe she’ll also [be] involved. He’s an amazing guy who recently released a song that’s ahead of our time, and we’ve been talking a lot about launching something together.

I can confirm that Angel Haze gave me two unreleased songs of hers for an NFT collection called “The Queen’s Secrets.” She’s a poet and doesn’t deserve to be that far from the music business.

I recently submitted some proposals to Porcelain Black, Rye Rye and Neon Hitch. Those three are treasures from the last decade that deserve their place in this one. They all have high-level music. I would also love to work with Kerli, Lesley Roy, Blondfire, Oh Hiroshima, John Mark McMillan, Michael Paynter and Jay Electronica.

I understand that both music and art run in your family; can you speak to your upbringing and personal connections with music and art?

Leão: It’s kind of weird to look back and see how much I loved the song, and how I stopped listening to it out of shame of what people would think about me. I was a very shy and quiet child, and while my classmates talked about the songs they played in soap operas and movies — I had to keep quiet for fear of being the center of attention and not knowing what to say. But that wasn’t my fault; people laughed at me all the time. At 15, I decided it wouldn’t bother me anymore — and I even made some cool friends at school.

Unfortunately, the social pressure to be someone in life took me away from my dreams. I had to get a job to earn money, and go to college to get a better job. There wasn’t much space or time for music and art. I can’t say that I wanted to study music or art instead of business. [My degree] helped me a lot, to control my business today, and there aren’t many opportunities for artists in Brazil.

Does music play a part in your creative process in general?

Leão: This is the first time I’m going to talk about it: inside my head, I always hear music playing in the background of my art. It’s like I make art for music and music is my source of inspiration. Sometimes I listen to old bands and I think I could create their cover art, so I’m motivated by that… Other times, I think I’m going to find a band and work with them. I like to dream about these things because I feel it keeps my spirit singing.

Anjulie Releases Lost Song Via NFTs With Art by Machado Leão

Browse the “White Lights” collection by Anjulie and Machado Leão.

Please note that by accessing or using this content, you agree that Crypto.com is solely responsible for the minting, custody and provision of the Crypto.com NFT Platform. Any additional products or features of the drop (including redeemable items, charity donations, utility and/or giveaways) are provided at the entire responsibility of the Creator(s) featured/interviewed unless otherwise noted on Crypto.com’s official channels. Any views and opinions expressed by Creator(s) belong to the same and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Crypto.com. Although Crypto.com makes best efforts to ensure this article contains accurate information, it cannot be guaranteed that all information provided is up to date. For more details, please refer to the drop page and the Creator(s)’ channels. Some products or features of the drop may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal or financial advice.

Editor’s Note (Sept. 19, 2022): an earlier version of this article was originally published on the Crypto.com NFT Medium blog on Sept. 30, 2021 and has since been edited and/or updated to republish.

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