SMC 2017/2018 Artist of the Year | Hannah Clive Exclusive Interview & Page Launch!

The moment has finally arrived! We are pleased to announce that our Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) 2017/18 Artist of the Year, London, UK-based Hannah Clive has been officially launched on our website (see here)! We have launched this feature & her page in the same month last year when Hannah won our October 2016 Artist of the Month event – there is just something special about this month: Hannah is special.

In 2015 when our September Artist of the Month winner IAMWARFACE catapulted into the SMC music scene, many UK artists began competing in our monthly events. In the fall of 2016, IAMWARFACE frontman Matt Warneford nominated Hannah for the October event. It is ironic that these two top performers from the same country have aced our Artist of the Year events, but, we assure you, they were chosen by our Judges for their incredible talent! All our SMC Artist of the Year competitors this year and last were stellar – it was a very tough decision to make. For the 2017 competition, we had four voting platforms for the Judges: Best in Media Support, Best in Music and Instrumentation, Best in Fan Interaction and Engagement, and Best in Social Media, Content, and Branding. Hannah not only excels in these areas, she is the total package when we look at an artist whose mark in this very tough industry has stood the test of time. She approaches everyone and everything with a smile, quick wit, and even her favorite: cake! (yes, cake. If you haven’t been following her tweets, get on that!). But beyond all these personal attributes, Hannah is a woman on the rise: her music is always evolving and she continues to interact with her peers and fans daily which is very rare to see. These are the kinds of things that keep an Artist relevant and current and we definitely see great things happening for her!

Hannah’s’ page on the SMC website has all of her socials, latest videos, links to her interview with Limehead Radio, announcements and upcoming events or shows are located in one convenient spot. We encourage you to get to know our reigning SMC royalty by connecting and following on all her socials and while you’re here, check out our exclusive interview with her below!

Editor’s Note: Hannah I want to personally congratulate you again. I know that this industry can be challenging at the best of times, but you, dear, continue to surprise us all with your perseverance, talent, and ability to stay at the top of your game with your art and loyal fan base. Now, it’s your time to shine as our Official SMC 2017 Artist of the Year! Welcome to the SMC Family!

SMC Exclusive Interview | Hannah Clive SMC 2017/18 Artist of the Year!

SMC – Hello Hannah! We are beyond thrilled that you are our SMC Artist of the Year! Can you tell us where you were when you found out you had won and what your first thoughts were?

HC – I was standing in the middle of a field having just performed at Frontrow Festival in deepest, darkest Oxfordshire, England when somehow, I got reception and took a call from Matt of (IAM)WARFACE around one AM telling me I’d won SMC Artist of the Year. I was elated, as were the other musicians for me, prompting singing late into the night with the Scottish contingent the Barstow Bats enthusiastically leading the charge.

SMC – Can you tell us what you think about online Artist voting competitions? What were your thoughts on the SMC Artist of the Year event?

HC – If I’m honest – generally speaking I’m skeptical of Artist Voting Competitions and other similar ventures like Battle of The Band competitions. I’ve heard horror stories from fellow musicians where they’ve been left out of pocket. So, I think a lot of competitions tend to leave a lot to be desired – they’re very good for competition organizers and their own promotion, fan base grabbing and connections made, yet they don’t seem to benefit the participants in any real way; artists who do work their a**es off, pushing the darned thing! I didn’t feel that about SMC Artist of The Year as I have built a relationship with you over a few years and you actually do cross-promote.

SMC – Can you tell us where your biggest supporters come from aside from the UK?

HC – My biggest group of supporters outside of the UK is in the USA and Canada.

SMC – Are there any people you would like to give a shout out to for their support during the competition?

HC – I’d like to thank all my ‘Queens of Ireland’ for their unfailing support, to Music Hour UK, fellow bands who’ve shared the love as well as to all my unfailing supporters. Last but very not least – last year’s winners, (IAM)WARFACE and all the ‘Warfarian’s out there.

SMC – Where did you first learn about SMC?

HC – Word of mouth via a local band of musicians (IAM)WARFACE.

SMC – Let’s get into your career – I saw recently that you were in the recording studio with IAMWARFACE, our 2016 Artists of the Year. Can you tell us what’s going on behind the scenes there?

HC – I can’t reveal too much but suffice to say Matt and I are writing new material together, we’ve yet to decide when we will present that. I’m singing and it’s all gone a bit James Bond meets Warface and Hannah’s smoky, torch vocals…and it really works – appeals to my cinematic background I guess.

SMC – We saw from your Facebook Page that you had recently performed live at a charity event. Can you tell us which festivals or events you have performed at over the summer?

HC – Well, when not attending to review them as I did with the Indies on the Jack Rocks / This Feeling Stage at Isle of Wight festival, I have been performing at quite a few! Starting with London’s largest one-day music festival The Hanwell Hootie sponsored by Marshall Amplifications – I know Jim Marshall’s son and now CEO Terry Marshall – he came down to support me personally, which was very moving. Then there’s been Into The Wild Festival along with (IAM)WARFACE – completely loved that. FrontRow Fest in Oxfordshire and there’s been the Bicester Round TablePub In The Park’ charity event, among others.

SMC – Do you have any events coming up that we can share with our readers?

HC – I was planning on releasing a new EP September/ October but I’m still waiting on the final production processes to be completed, plus now I’ve done this stuff with Matt – I’m in two minds as to what to release. I would very much like to release something new because fans are wanting it and it’s been a while – but it’s gotta be right in terms of my direction artistically. It may be I’m looking at another metamorphosis 😉

SMC – Being our Artist of the Year means having our support from July 2017 to June 2018. Can you tell us how best we can help promote you on our site? We love creativity and collaborations but we are also aware that our artists have their own vision on how they are promoted…what is your vision?

HC – So long as SMC are able to offer what all artists need which is their music promoted, available for people to listen to easily, presented in an engaging way and that the places where it can be bought are on prominent one-click-away display – really that’s all that matters to us music makers.  It can be an expensive hobby so any investment we get from our supporters is enabling and always greatly appreciated. My vision has always been not to shout ‘BUY MY MUSIC’ or ‘CHECK THIS OUT’ – it puts people off. Instead I prefer building genuine fan relationships – I find that’s the best way to naturally generate interest in one’s music with music fans – and to be real.

SMC –We have Limehead Radio in the UK linked to our SMC Spotlight – can you tell us about your experience with your recent interview with them?

HC – I loved doing my interview with Limehead. They’re enthusiastic new music supporters and that always gets my vote! They have a good ear too for quality new music and goodness knows it’s out there and a genuine interest in supporting it.

SMC – Speaking of Radio – are there any stations you would like to give a shout-out to who have been supportive of your music?

HC – First and foremost all at EGH Radio Wednesday Unsigned Show with Stephen and Anne Lambert, and with Niki Tyler on Thursdays Unsigned Pop Show. Now that is a genuine community of music makers and supporters, where I tune in virtually every week. Also have to give a shout out to Gary Crowley at BBC Radio London (see below) for all his kind words and his support, playing my tracks twice now on BBC introducing in London. Additionally, to Gaby Roslin for inviting me on her show as a guest and to perform at BBC Radio London. But there is a plethora of independent digi’ stations out there I could mention – all doing an admirable job of play-listing new music, whereas nationals for whatever reason just can’t. Instead radio pluggers and corporates tie their hands. So, Independents such as Stephen and Anne at EGH Radio are seemingly the true Champions of real new music now – elsewhere it’s become a turn-style for the mainstream radio stations due to the sheer volume sent in versus available airtime for unsigned acts. The rest of the airtime has to be dedicated to signed acts and therein perhaps lays the problem.

SMC – Which Media platforms (aside from Radio) have been most supportive of your music?

HC – Social media is the best alternative platform and for that see Twitter. Facebook videos get a lot of hits too, more so than Youtube. I’m trying to branch out into Spotify playlists but they have to be the right ones apparently.

SMC – Can you tell us who your ‘go-to’ team is in terms of the production of your music/videos/branding?

HC – Production I have my Producer friend Brian Tench who’s worked with the best including Kate Bush and The Bee Gees and we often use my session musician friends who all play on world class material elsewhere. My branding I do myself, plus I bounce artistic ideas off of Matt from (IAM)WARFACE – he’s an artist as well as a musician so he has that artist’s eye, I’m also looking at image with Mrs. Warface.

SMC – I am aware that you come from an esteemed background in terms of the entertainment history and your family (your father). Can you tell us about that?

HC – Basically, growing up my Dad was on the telly – a lot! He was in seminal British Television programming and films of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s including Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange to name but a few. Like the actor Julian Fellowes who wrote Downton Abbey – my father the actor John Clive went on to become a successful writer, in his case an international best-selling author several times over and a screenplay writer and I’m very proud of him. He had me late and died only a few years ago but I feel strongly that he’s keeping a close eye on my career as its something he always supported. My mother was on the Production side in Light Entertainment including seminal British music programmes like the BBC’s Top of The Pops, then after having me and my brother went into specialist VIP and Press liaison – so I have a very solid grounding in the Business.

SMC – Okay – let’s get into your music: Can you tell us which of your songs has received the most traction on radio?

HC – Oh goodness that’s difficult – they all have. Fire seems very popular, as is Kiss of Life.(below)

SMC – Do you write all your own music?

HC – Pretty much yes.

SMC – Do you plan on having any co-writes in the near future?

HC – I love collaborations and am always up for them. I like mixing things up I did as say with The Herbaliser on ‘Lost Boy’ (see belwo) or as I’m doing now with IAW – it sends you off creatively on a different path to the one you normally tread.

SMC – What is the song-writing process like for you?

HC – If working with others its quick. If its me I tend to get a burst, leave it for while, come back to it, tweak it etc. When writing it has to flow easily – if I try and force it the result is never as good. I have to have a buzz for it.

SMC – What instrument do you create your songs with?

HC – Good question. First it was piano, and then I didn’t have one (not particularly portable and I dislike plastic keys) so I wrote using the guitar for twenty years. Now I have my piano back I’m writing with that again and loving it – for instance Fire started out on piano and was then transposed to guitar.

SMC – Which instruments do you play aside from the acoustic guitar?

HC – Piano, flute, piccolo and tambourine – I play a mean tambourine (little known fact!) I write string parts too.

SMC – What do you admire most about other Musicians in the industry that have inspired you in some way?

HC – Their tenacity in the face of ever-dwindling returns! They keep playing because it’s their passion and Music chooses you.

SMC – Can you tell me whom your most influential role models were growing up?

HC – My Dad was a huge influence both musically and in the art of performance. Others early influences include John Lennon /The Beatles, Yellow Submarine was a biggie, Elton John, film scores, plus a raft of old school classic singers whom my Dad used to play on vinyl e.g. Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, Peggy Lee – oh and Sinatra, but in this last instance that was more to do with the songwriting. My Mum who was younger than my Dad was a music influence on me too – she played things like Simon and Garfunkel, Earth, Wind and Fire – oh and ZZ Tops at full volume, at speed, with the windows down!

SMC – What does the term ‘success’ mean to you?

HC – Honestly? Being recognized for my craft and making enough money from my own music to pay the bills – anything else is a bonus – holidays in Antigua can wait.

SMC – How have you been able to juggle your career with home life? We see you always out there hustling and doing such a fab job of your social media!

HC – I feel like Zorba the Greek sometimes I’m juggling that many plates but then that’s what modern Mum’s do and I’m no exception. Mine’s just a slightly unusual area of employ is all, but no different than that in which I was raised, so it’s normal to me.

SMC – Can you tell us what advice you have been given by industry peers which stands out for you or which has influenced the way you do things now?

HC – Listen, speak less, learn – blend into the wallpaper until you have.

SMC – What do the next 3 months look like for you in terms of your career and new music releases?

HC – As explained I’d like to release something new. I’ll avoid the Christmas crush of releases but if not The Fall, then springtime 2018. Hopefully more gigs this year, the festival season’s pretty much over so everyone is prepping for Christmas releases and booking in for festivals next year. Plus, I’m managing (IAM)WARFACE now at their insistence, so I now have all theirs to juggle too!

SMC – Are there any tours or festivals planned for the next few months?

HC – No.

SMC – Where is your biggest fan base located?

HC – The UK followed by USA, then Europe – also very popular in France and Germany –, which is handy coz I speak reasonable French, and they like their chanteuses. I’m open to going there and it’s a good market.

SMC – What is the approximate age group your largest fanbase is?

HC – Actually, it’s across the board but mainly the 25 – 50 bracket, male and female – and they buy music.

SMC – Can you tell us what you think is total career fulfillment for you?

HC – Being known for, respected for and doing what I’m best at – singing, songwriting and entertaining people – and being fairly remunerated for that.

SMC – Which social media platform do you gravitate to most and why?

HC – Twitter because its instant and they don’t use an algorithm (like Facebook) to pick what to tell your friends and followers.

SMC – Which social media or music platform do you think is most effective for Artists today?

HC – I’m still working that one out – truth be told probably a combination of all of them. Fortunately, most of my fans actually buy their music on hard copy or via a music platform like iTunes; they don’t prefer streaming on Spotify because they enjoy the attachment, the sense of propriety owning a copy and its better quality. They know it supports the artist buying it.

SMC – What are your thoughts on Spotify? I know we had a discussion about that and I know this is something that most Artists want is to be featured on Spotify playlists. Are you featured on any?

HC – I am apparently – but its something I need to look at more. Open to help there!

SMC – Can you tell us when in your lifetime was your ‘Ah Ha’ moment – the time where you knew music was your destiny?

HC – When I sat at the piano aged 9 or 10, wrote a song and called my dad in to have a listen. He immediately started typing up the lyrics for me so I knew I was on to something – clearly, he thought I had something because he wouldn’t have indulged me with his time had I not.

SMC – Okay, final question: if you had not pursued a career in music, what would you have chosen to be?

I have absolutely no idea – probably a marine biologist or naturalist of some kind – an eco warrior. When not on stage I like good honest earth and living off grid – it proves a useful antidote to the plastic fantastic people one sometimes meets in the music business!

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Hannah Clive Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

SoundCloud

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

iTunes

Spotify

YouTube

 

SMC Spotlight No.1 | Rochelle Vincente Von K World Premiere ‘Deal Me In’ Music Video

Every once in a while a comet lights up our Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) sky and today, that comet goes by the name of Rochelle Vincente Von K. The Viennese born, Los Angeles-based multi talented Artist has roots rich in music,fashion (modeling), dance, and film and with the world premiere launch of her brand-new music video ‘Deal Me In’ exclusively to SMC, this is one comet whose light we are certain will not go out anytime soon.

The video, directed by Stephen David Brooks (see SMC Spotlight here) is an opulent and extremely creative film from this prolific visionary. Scenes from the video were all shot in and around the Los Angeles area. The video also features New Zealand Actor Jamie Spear as Vincente Von K’s boyfriend who played the role of ‘heartbreaker’ exceptionally well. The song itself is intense with an almost ‘celestial’ undertone in its instrumentation combined with alluring vocals and an intense story line in the lyrics. It doesn’t surprise me that Vincente Von K has created a masterpiece here: she has a history gilded in accomplishment and achievement not only in music (see full discography here), but also with the success of Lover Raw Chocolate (see here), her company which focuses on the super food ingredient. We have included a link for your convenience in the right sidebar menu for purchase! Her clients are The Academy Awards, Costume Designers Guild Awards, The Supper Club, NYC Fashion Week and HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher to name a few. And this is just scratching the surface!

I have spent some time getting to know Rochelle in the last few weeks while planning the world premiere launch of her video on the SMC platform and I have to say that this is one of the most focused, personable, and lovely souls that I have encountered. In fact, she asked for SMC to postpone the launch of her video until today (was originally slated to launch October 3rd, 2017) out of respect for the tragedy in Las Vegas (only days ago), and the sudden passing of industry peer Tom Petty. Indeed, a comet passes our planet every so often, but I can assure you that this unique comet will not only light up our world, she will leave a lasting impression in it through her exquisite works of art wherever her magical trail is seen.

We welcome her into the SMC Family and look forward to following her career through our SMC Spotlight Numbered Series. To find out more about Rochelle Vincente Von K, be sure to check out her socials at the end of this interview below.

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(l-r) Director Stephen David Brooks, Rochelle Vincente Von K, and Actor, Jamie Spear. Photo courtesy of: Rochelle Vincente Von K

World Premiere ‘Deal Me In’ Music Video exclusive interview!

SMC – Hello Rochelle and welcome to the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Spotlight! Can you tell us how you heard about SMC?

Rochelle – Hi SMC, thanks so much for your support! I heard about you through the incredibly talented director Stephen David Brooks.

SMC – We are thrilled to have been the Music Platform for the World Premiere of your new video ‘Deal Me In’! Before we get into this, let’s get a little career history from you in terms of where your career began to this moment in time…

Rochelle – Erm, where to begin… I started when I was 9 … and each phase moved into the next … so I guess I’ll start with my last phase before I moved to LA?! I was based in London & Brighton and was one half of electronic duo Product.01, we worked with many including Ursula 1000, Dr Luke, Stephen Hague, Bassnectar, Dubstar, Dave Clarke, Chicks On Speed, Adam Freeland, Si Begg, Princess Superstar, Larry Tee, Kromeangels, Alter Ego, Tiga, Husky Rescue and Katie Melua to name some.

We performed plenty of live shows, to 40000+ people, and including touring with Freeland, Dubstar, The Lightening Seeds, and playing alongside Tiga, Fatboy Slim, Dubfire, Eric Morillo, Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Wilson Pickett, The Commitments, Mark Moore , Spektrum, Gregor Tresor, General Midi, Larry Tee, Princess Superstar, Arthur Baker, Chris Coco, Lee Coombs, Caged Baby, John Acquaviva, Kid Alex, Lee Coombs, Einmusik, Si Begg, Andy Barlow (Lamb), Beardyman, Kromeangels, Simian Mobile Disco, DJ Mehdi … as well as performances for Radio One, XFM, MTV, Tate Britain & London Fashion Week. We toured Brazil, Japan, China, UK and Europe predominately, thou did do some shows in Montreal and New York City. Never got to the West Coast, but had plenty of radio and DJ support.

My new band based out of LA, with Ryan Carnes on drums and Simrin Phull on guitar, has played The Roxy, Hard Rock Café, The House Of Blues, The Satellite and Coachella.

SMC – Stephen David Brooks is the genius behind the filming of this video. Can you tell us how you two connected?

Rochelle – He did an amazing job, didn’t he? We met through a mutual friend and felt an instant connection. We knew we wanted to work together right away and were contemplating either a short film or music video, hence the birth of our ‘Deal Me In’ collaboration.

SMC – Would you work with Stephen again?

Rochelle – Hell yes, I hope we work together again very soon! The thing that is refreshing with Stephen is he understands the creative process in that no matter how prepared you come, shit will inevitably happen, so nothing phases him. And when that shit flies, he knows how to duck and keep things moving forward. I also love how he works spontaneously and honestly. Artists can be oversensitive and it gets in the way of the process. With Stephen, I found it easy for us to be unfiltered with each other because we both wanted the same end result so I trusted him. We used what was in front of us to the best of our ability. You have to understand we worked with ZERO budget. So, it was pure raw energy from everyone who graciously gave their time and contributed. We were all there because we wanted to create something together.

Still from the Music Video for ‘Deal Me In’ featuring (l-r) Ryan Carnes (Drummer), Rochelle Vincente Von K, and Simrin Phull (Guitarist).
Photo courtesy of: Rochelle Vincente Von K

SMC – Can you tell us what the premise of ‘Deal Me In’ is about?

Rochelle – It’s that age-old question of why do we sometimes fall in love with the very person that’s wrong for us? I know that for me, for example, I don’t like or play games. I’ve never been attracted to that, so I’m not addicted to weird behavior in men! I want straight shooters, I always look for the good in any person until proven otherwise, and yet why is it that I attract complex men? Is it because all men are complex and it comes out in different ways? Or are we destined to love certain people because it’s fate or some past life karmic pattern? I don’t know the answer to that… but ‘Deal Me In’ explores that, and also how when a man destroys the beautiful opportunity to love, he doesn’t just hurt me, he hurts himself even more. We can’t run from ourselves.

SMC – The song is brilliant and the video even more so! Aside from the teasers we shared in the last 8 days, can you tell us of a memorable story from behind-the-scenes?

Rochelle – Thanks so much. Written from the heart… created from the heart by all involved. I’m bummed that I don’t have more behind the scenes footage of my band but we needed my phone for music playback on the theater shoot! I’ve got some pretty wild stories, but I won’t share those just yet out of respect for other people’s privacy ha ha! But to share something, when we were shooting on Sunset Blvd, we needed a crowd so we went down on a Friday night and it happened to be a long weekend where literally everyone was out of town… we had zero crowd… so we waited around until one o’clock am when the Roxy was emptying out from The Buzzcocks show, and had literally 5 minutes before there was zero crowd again so had to move like ninjas!

Then at the Ahrya Theatre we had limited time because the City of Beverly Hills doesn’t let you park on the street after 3am! I was in the loos at 2am doing my makeup and getting on my last costume for the black wig scene, then my nails kept popping off and my guitarist Sim was helping me find them and glue them back on while I was trying to handle my cape. Stephen was very calm and also trying to help! By 2.30 am we were finally ready to shoot and we had literally 20 minutes to shoot the last scene and be at our cars by 3am. No pressure at all. 4 takes and we were done!

SMC – What has been the media anticipation been like for the release of this single?

Rochelle – It’s surprised me regarding how much demand this music video has had prior to its release!

SMC – Can you tell us who your ‘go-to’ team was for the creation of this video?

Rochelle – Stephen and I did pretty much everything together. We fed off each other’s ideas and made all the big decisions together. The initial plan for this video was very different to what it ended up being. It kept evolving into a different direction, even while we were shooting it, but we knew the feeling we wanted from it. Like I said, because Stephen is a true artist he understands the process on many levels and that’s where his experience and professionalism shines through… so, this allowed much creativity to flow without resistance and attachments to previous outdated decisions that ended up being mere spring boards to fresh ideas. And then of course on shoot days we had creative input from my band mates Ryan Carnes, Simrin Phull, actor Jamie Spear, our behind the scenes photographer Inge Christie and assistant Erica Boslego. But we really didn’t have a lot of time to faff about at any given moment because we were either on sunset times, theatre times, or street parking times!

Still from the Music Video for ‘Deal Me In’ featuring Actor Jamie Spear
Photo courtesy of: Rochelle Vincente Von K

SMC – Your ‘boyfriend’ in the video Jamie Spear did a fantastic job as well! Was this your first time working with him?

Rochelle – Yes, it was our first time working together. We had our own secret back stories a lot like we all do in life, and then Stephen would pull us aside individually and say something to create a certain feeling. There were certainly times where Jamie would give me a confused look and I wasn’t able to explain that it was Stephens direction. At the very end of the last shoot we revealed what our back stories were to each other and it was interesting because it really did add a depth and suddenly certain things finally made sense!

SMC – What is your overall summation of this video?

Rochelle – A journey within and a journey without!

Still from the Music Video for ‘Deal Me In’ featuring Rochelle Vincente Von K and directed by Stephen David Brooks.
Photo courtesy of: Rochelle Vincente Von K

Music Career

SMC – Let’s go way back to 2006 when your album ‘Bullet Ride’ under the moniker ‘Product.01’ launched until this very moment with the new release of ‘Deal Me In’ – can you tell us how you feel you have evolved as a Musician?

Rochelle – Mainly I think the process has gotten faster. I’m much more able to be present and take on whatever is happening with trust. I no longer over think things… I’m much more impulsive. I understand that as long as I’m tuned in, there’s a reason why things are coming out as they are, and eventually it will make sense! You just have to keep going with it.

SMC – Do you write all your own lyrics?

Rochelle – Yes, I write all my own lyrics and melodies. And depending on how a song began, whether I started it or a producer sent me a music link, I do my own chords and arrangements.

SMC – Who is your creative team when recording your music?

Rochelle – It changes depending on the project I’m working on, but for this it was Marc Adamo from Product.01. He’s one of the best electronic music producers in the world. By far! He’s been my partner in crime for many years, and while the journey isn’t always smooth, the result is always exactly right.

SMC – What instruments are you proficient in?

Rochelle – I can play piano enough to write songs! I am also pretty good with programming and mixing, but I prefer to collaborate, to me it’s much more interesting. Like sex. Better with two!

SMC – I had a listen to your song ‘One Starry Night’ (see below) – beautiful song! Can you tell us a little about what the theme is behind the lyrics in that song?

Rochelle – Funny you should mention it as my ‘One Starry Night’ character makes a cameo in ‘Deal Me In’, in case you didn’t notice the blue wig & cage shoulder pad! ‘One Starry Night’ is about love at first sight… when you meet someone and feel their soul when you look in their eyes. You just KNOW. But then you second guess yourself because how is this possible? So instant? So easy? And you let it go, and then spend many years regretting that moment you let it go, only to find yourself praying for a second chance. Knowing you were right all along and won’t make that mistake again. And that no one has since come close to that feeling.

SMC – Your single ‘Blazing’ and the video is brilliant! Who was the creative team behind this video?

Rochelle – Ah yes thanks … and it was shortlisted for two Grammy nominations, under ‘Music Video of the Year’ and ‘Record of the Year’.

The majority of it was shot at a stunning crazy Mexican themed house in Calabasas where they film Ancient Aliens. Jeff Skeirik was the director, and Nazim Chambi was my guitarist. Nazim’s makeup didn’t quite go to plan! I was in Malibu and Nazim was in Hollywood getting ready before arrival at the house, and my awesome makeup artist Rebeca Teresa is experienced, but unfortunately even thou I had specified, we didn’t get the makeup artist that knew how to do Sugar Skull makeup on Nazim, so Rebeca was Facetiming with his makeup artist and it was insane, she had no clue even with basic instructions, all the while Rebeca was trying to get me ready in time as we only had the house to film for a short period of time. That was very stressful! But Nazim took his bad makeup with grace! Thankfully it worked because of his natural good looks. And Jeff was a trooper, he had the pressure of making sure all the shots were complete in time, there was a lot we really needed to ensure it made sense! Then I wasn’t planning it but that night I ended up at a party in full costume, which was pretty wild!

The dance sequence was shot Downtown, I did the choreography and auditioned the dancers, Jonny D and Isaac Uhlenberg. They were inspiring to work with. We only had 2 short rehearsals and then that shoot day ran very smooth!

Jeff edited the video himself, another incredibly talented director!

SMC – Can you tell us what the next 6 months look like for you in terms of promoting your new single?

Rochelle – Now that everything is digital it’s not really like that anymore over a 6-month period. Things are quite instant these days… but the plan is for my band – Ryan Carnes and Simrin Phull, to play live shows, and I have another stripped-down mix of ‘Deal Me In’ that we are going to release soon also.

SMC – Will there be an EP or full-length album in the near future?

Rochelle – We have two more singles coming out, ‘OutLaws’ & ‘Valley Of Fire’, and then the album ‘Three Is The New Four’ will follow.

SMC – What about the music industry appeals to you and why?

Rochelle – Nothing at all appeals to me about the music industry, but I have a deep passion for music so it’s just a part of it. On one hand everyone loves artists who break out and do something different and yet the music industry no longer supports artists like that, nor does the music press. Even independent journalists I know rarely do, thou they think they do! Now everyone just wants to be ‘liked’… Truth is they tend to want someone commercial with their songs written, produced, recorded and a million built in ready fans! That’s not exactly A&R! It used to be the complete opposite, the more underground, the cooler it was and the more people wanted to be a part of something new and special.

I think commercial music has always had its place, and I enjoy it too, but when it’s the only option it’s a bit creatively void, right? Then you have these famous artists who were lucky enough to have thousands if not millions invested to build them and develop their skills, who go on about giving away their music for free. Yes, we have to move with the times, but let’s not forget they had a shit load invested in them to get them where they are, so that they can give away their music free, and still make money in order to continue making music!

I’m also not a fan of these contrived pop show contests, or what I call musical fast food! For starters let’s be real, these shows are really about boosting the judges’ careers, in case you haven’t noticed! And because to me the very point of being an artist is to be creatively free and have your own opinion and voice that. Music is not a democracy and it’s not about approval. Anyone can train a monkey to copy something and do it well.

Music is an expression. An exploration. It’s not fixed. It changes all the time if it’s true. And while I love to explore remakes of other people’s songs and have successfully done so in the past, it shouldn’t be the main focus. I applaud people who try something different and shout that out. That takes real guts. Real spirit. That’s creative evolution.

SMC – I will get into some questions about your earlier careers but I would like to ask first which career you find most fulfillment in and why?

Rochelle – Which bit? The singing and songwriting, acting, dancing or my raw chocolate superfood company Lover Raw Chocolate? I love all of it and find they are extensions of each other. To be a good actor you need to work on voice and movement so that you have a natural vocal and physical range, to connect with a song you need to connect with emotion and movement, and to nourish the body for these things you need to fuel the body with something that gives it the best opportunity to thrive, so that you aren’t bogged down and can focus on being creative and channeling that energy.

SMC – Can you tell us which social media platform your music fans can find you most active on?

Rochelle – Facebook & Instagram are my 2 main ones. I barely use Twitter… I’m not the most technically savvy but I do try!

SMC – What do you feel is the most important thing an Artist can do for themselves to promote their work?

Rochelle – These days I have no idea, it’s so random. A talking dog can go viral. I can’t compete with that! I can try, ha ha. But probably just being who you are, sharing that, and praying a hell of a lot!

SMC – Which song of yours is your most personal favorite and why?

Rochelle – They are all really personal and touch me in different ways. Some are fun, some are deep. With our current global state, my next single is probably the one that’s most relevant to us all … it’s called ‘Outlaws’…

“when freedom is outlawed, only outlaws will be free, when freedom is outlawed, only some of us will see” … “insanity passed as logic, violence the tool of change…” … “epidemic if cronyism, we police our empire ….” … “in the eyes of progress, we bury hearts under ground” …. “evil described as virtue, slavery sold as liberty, we have broken from reality, broken from reality…”… that kinda thing!

SMC – I also saw on your website that there are some collaborations as well – which one is your favorite or most memorable?

Rochelle – I loved them all, all so different… memorable? I would say working with Stephen Hague because he’s such a legend (New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, The Pretenders, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Williams, etc., etc.) and learning his song writing tricks was priceless. It really did change my process and the way I approach songwriting to this day, and also gave me the confidence to know I am on the right track with my own techniques.

I would take the train from Brighton to Hastings on those cold miserable days and he would light up my world. I loved his studio, on a beautiful property overlooking the sea. It was inspiring and deep.

SMC – Are you looking at doing another collaboration in the near future?

Rochelle – Most definitely! I have some producers lined up and I’m really excited, there’s still so much I haven’t explored as an artist. I am taking a new direction with the new music.

Earlier Career History

SMC – I read in an interview that you were a dancer. What kind of dance did you take up?

Rochelle – Long story short, when I was 11 I was working on a TV commercial and Tony Bartuccio was the choreographer for the job. He was the number one Choreographer in Australia at the time and asked me to come and train with him at his studio. Within six months of doing one class a week I started working for him on live shows and TV. I picked up dance quickly, but he was also hardcore so that made me have to learn fast. The other dancers had all started when they were two – four years old, so I was rather late ha ha. And because I was working with them, there was a lot of pressure on me to be at their level even thou I didn’t have their backgrounds, was a lot younger, and many of them were already incredible choreographers and performers in their own right, touring with Billy Idol, Kylie Minogue or whoever! I started with jazz dance and expanded from that into ballet, tap, acrobatic dance, and then learnt Karate, got to brown belt but stopped as I was doing so much TV and was concerned I’d have a broken nose before a job!! I also started teaching dance at a popular gym in Melbourne when I was 16 (Ann Peacock was one of my students – the Prime Ministers daughter!) and did choreography for shows around Melbourne. But then my music took off and something had to give.

I continued dance in London with one of Michael Jacksons’ choreographers, joined a Hip Hop dance group in Brighton, and now do Hip Hop in LA!

SMC – I also read that you have worked with Femi Taylor (‘Oola’ from Return of the Jedi). Can you tell us how that came about and what the outcome was?

Rochelle – Femi and I were models for a rather large fashion parade at the Tennis Centre stadium (where they host the Australian Open), and she came up to me after the show, asked if I sing… I said “in the shower” and she said “good because I’m going to London to visit family for Christmas, will you please audition?” Honestly, I showed up thinking there’s no way! Bizarrely got the gig but it was only for one month. The other girl in the band was horrible to me. I’m a sister and love empowered women. And I was terrified. I needed guidance. I had never sung in front of anyone! I had 3 days to learn the entire repertoire including two feature songs that I had to sing, and a rap!!!! And I was working on two of those days so only had evenings. All I remember is my best friend at the time Portia (De Rossi) and I walking up and down her street in the city (as I used to stay with her when we had modeling jobs together) going over and over the songs together all night. She was unbelievable, held my hand thru the whole process. I would have died without her! Then when it was show time, it was a full house, my idol Scott Carnes from ‘Kids In The Kitchen’ was standing in the front row right in front of me. I was about to faint. Anyhow I think I got thru it. He’s a lifelong friend now.

When Femi returned from London I of course left the band, as I was always a replacement, and then after one show they called me, said that they miss me, and will I come back? They sacked that horrible other vocalist and Femi and I ended up working together for 2 years. So that is how my singing career began! Femi and I also did a lot of TV work together as vocalists, we were often booked together. And she is still my best friend to this day.

SMC – You have modeled and also won Miss Junior Victoria as well. Tell us how that came about.

Rochelle – Wow where did you find that?!! You clearly dug deep! When I was 9 I told mum I needed purpose in life and wanted to contribute to the world and maybe I can start by dusting shelves at the local shop?! Mum had heard of a modelling school and thought I’d be better off doing something where I’m making more per hour than dusting! But only if I liked it. She was never pushy, only encouraging. Well I just followed that journey and yes ended up winning Miss Junior Victoria, which was very surreal, as it was massive. Then I joined the best adult agency as a child model, and would be confused when I was sent to these auditions with the big girls, almost didn’t want to go in. 90% of the time I got the jobs I went for. The other kids’ mums hated it when I entered the audition room lol, and the big girls were awesome and really looked after me. I did Vogue, Elle, Dolly, Harpers Bizarre, and all of them really. I worked with some legendary Photographers and was also on Daniela Federici’s first ever photography business card. (She did Anna Nicole Smiths Guess campaign, and went on to shoot the famous Douglas family portrait, Prince, Sharon Stone and pretty much every Hollywood star). I remember that shoot well, she made me climb a church wall! I worked with her for many years. She has a work ethic few could match. I learnt a lot, that has stayed with me.

SMC – Can you tell us which acting gigs you have done as well?

Rochelle – It started in Melbourne, as an extension of modeling at a big agency you got sent in for various film auditions, plus at the dance studio Caroline Gilmore (a well-known Australian actress) was head of the acting department and also sent us in for things.

I worked on lots of TV including ‘Chances’ with Jeromy Sims, a film called ‘The Hunting’ with Guy Pearce, John Savage and Kerry Armstrong… I featured in Paul Norton’s ‘Southern Sky’ music video as his girlfriend (loved swimming in those shark infested waters with the shark patrol on sight, comforting!), which was selected for the Sydney Olympics Opening, and ended up in a lot of music video duke boxes (!) … and when I moved to England got involved with the short film scene thru Junk TV. We won awards for our short films and then I was funded by the British Film Council to direct my own short ‘I Make My Pictures For What Hollywood Spends On Lipstick’, a film about Maya Deren, the pioneer of film funding!

SMC – Which career did/do you find most fulfilling for you personally?

Rochelle – I love them all. I see them all as different limbs to the same body. Creative energy is just that, it’s just where you put your focus.

SMC – Can you describe ‘a day in the life of Rochelle’ to us?

Rochelle – Hmmm, it’s so different every single day. My one constant is my beautiful rescue dog Maya. I have no routine, it depends on what I am working on.

SMC – Which Artist (can be any: musician, actor, etc.) would you like to work with and why?

Rochelle – David Bowie. I hear from mutual friends who have worked with him that he was a very funny man. I like a sense of humor on the job, British sense of humor even better … even if it’s just once coming up for air after some deep creative moments.

Living, I would love to work with Martin Scorsese. And music wise Trentemoller. Please Lord!

SMC – Can you tell us of a time in your career (choose any) that stands out for you as most memorable?

Rochelle – Being booked to support James Brown on his Australian National Tour with the band I was in ‘Relax With Max’, and then the record label doing the dirty on us the day before was a memorable one! That’s a long story, sigh! We won the court case but honestly, it really didn’t matter at that stage! (facepalm)

And a defining moment when I feared I had gotten off track in life… needing a break, I had taken a one-way ticket and small suitcase from Australia to Europe, and eventually landed in Munich working with Warner Chappell, but didn’t like the music they wanted me to do, it was super cheesy and I could have done that many years ago, why go on a massive journey only to cave? So, I continued on to where they import the music I do from, London. In London I had an incident where I was physically attacked by the Minister at a church I had gone to, I was only there to enjoy the gospel singing. That’s a very long story but after I came forward many other women did also, and as it turned out this guy had been on the run from New Zealand and hiding at the church! Fooled everyone, who had initially thought I was lying! Until other women came forward!

I moved down to Brighton and lived in a squat for a month or so, upstairs was pretty nice and downstairs it had no floors, just dirt and wooden planks to balance on, it was winter and damp with no heating, and I had to sleep in all my clothes and a coat and was still shivering. I really understood that scene in ‘Withnail & I’ with the Deep Heat rubbed on them to keep warm! Dude! And the Brits have this weird thing where they share bath water????!!!! (I was always the first ha ha)… showers were not a thing in old houses at that time. Eeek.

Needless to say, I had run out of money and found a job at Virgin Cinemas. My intuition was very set on me working there.

Within a month, one of the ushers at Virgin knew a guy who was looking for a vocalist for his band, so I gave him my demo not thinking too much of it. When the usher next came in he told me I must quit my job because they wanted to put me on their National UK Tour that week. I didn’t believe him because we hadn’t met, but he convinced me so I quit my job, went to London to meet the band and discovered it was only an audition!!!! Thankfully, I got the gig and was at dinner with EMI that very evening to celebrate.

A week later I was doing our first show with Dubstar live to Radio One with the legendary John Peel (who went on to support all my music endeavors), then MTV, then TFI Friday, Shepherds Bush Empire (that’s where I met Stephen Hague for the first time) and then onto a massive tour with The Lightening Seeds right when they had their football hit ‘Three Lions’, and ‘Perfect World’ had just came out as well.

In one week, I went from being a popcorn chick, to signing autographs and working with the British music industry elite.

Plus skip forward, the first signing Product.01 had was a record label in Munich called Compost Records, who knew the Warner crowd where I started in Europe.

And that my friend, is how life rolls!!

SMC – Okay, final question: What does the term ‘success’ mean to you?

Rochelle – Success to me is doing what you are passionate about without creative compromise, and being supported for that.

Thank-you Rochelle!

Rochelle – Thank You Candice!!! You dig deep!

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Rochelle Vincente Von K
Photo courtesy of: Rochelle Vincente Von K

Rochelle Vincente Von K Social Media links (click to view)

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SMC Spotlight No.2 | Ryan Inglis World Premiere ‘The Wall’ Music Video Exclusive NOW on SMC!

Whenever I get a message from English-born, Munich, Germany-based Ryan Inglis, I know it’s going to be something amazing. In the two years that I have known him, I have watched him complete an admirable amount of charity fundraisers, relocate from his home in Weston Super-Mare to Munich, Germany to expand his career, create and launch exquisite original music, and compete in the SMC Artist of the Year 2016. SMC has been along for this amazing journey with Ryan and it only made sense that he launch the World Premiere of his new song and music video to the SMC Spotlight today (see below and on front page of our site).

Ryan is one of those Artists who continuously is evolving: he spent the better part of 2017 raising money for the Karmaflights.org ‘Feed 5000’ project, (see our Vimeo video below) raising over $10,922.97 in funds thus providing 50,000 meals to children in Nepal. If that isn’t enough alone to admire this earth angel, then I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the work he has done in other areas of the globe. He has raised $10,000 by walking over 500 miles through Spain to provide temporary shelters for those who lost their homes in the earthquake. He has also worked with Julie Derrick for ‘The Charlie Derrick Music Foundation’ based in Weston-super-Mare and in over the 12 years or so that it was running, gave out close to £40,000 in bursaries (which were started by Julie). Talented music student Charlie Derrick died in a car accident almost 15 years ago and his former lecturers, fellow students and musician friends united in December 2013 for a charity Christmas single in his honour of which Ryan was an integral part of. Earth angel indeed….

Earlier this year, Ryan admits (in our interview below) that he struggled with depression. With the help of his friends and through penning his songs ‘Only Human’ (video below), and ‘The Wall’, he was able to continue on his path of enlightenment by inspiring and supporting others also struggling with depression. The song is a beautifully inspiring ballad which speaks of climbing out of a dark place in one’s life. Vocally, Ryan has always impressed me and the lilting angelic vocals heard in this number combined with the sweet sounds of the violin are truly awe-inspiring. I had chills after listening, and there may have even been a tear or two….

SMC has inducted Ryan Inglis into our family of exceptional Musicians for the sum of all the parts mentioned above: he is truly one in a million and we are confident that his music has not only the power to change one’s perspective, it has the power to change the course of one’s life indefinitely, it is THAT powerful. We should all be so lucky to have this incredibly talented and resplendent soul in our midst. Follow and subscribe to his socials below so you can stay apprised of what he’s checking off his 100 Things list next!

Ryan Inglis (left) with Violinist Saskia Götz (right)

The Wall Music Video – World Premiere

(see at end of interview)

SMC – Hello Ryan! We are glad to have you back on our SMC Spotlight! There are so many things you have accomplished since competing for our Artist of the Year in 2016! Let’s begin with the World Premiere of ‘The Wall’ launched today on the SMC Spotlight! There’s definitely a story behind the lyrics in this song…can you tell us what it means for you personally?

Ryan – Glad to be back! It’s been an eventful year for sure! I moved to Germany last July and just before that I went on a 3-week mini-tour of Germany with another musician, which didn’t go so well. The record deal I was hoping to sign out here fell through and I just found myself at square one again feeling pretty rubbish about myself.

Without going into too much detail I spent a lot of time in a bit of a pit and this song along with another called ‘Only Human’ was the outcome of my feelings. One of the biggest hurdles some days was to just get myself out of bed. It was compounded by the fact that I also felt like I had no real right to feel as bad as I did; it’s not like life was SO terrible for me it’s just that my mind decided to turn on me and I really kind of hated myself.

It’s best summed up by the line “I can remember a time when I believed in myself but the way that I talk to myself in the mirror I wouldn’t wish on anyone else”

I’m glad to say I am feeling much better about myself now though.

SMC – Ryan you have been through so much in the time that I have personally known you. We met in early 2015 through Luke Potter, who was a student of yours. You have done so much for others through your music and this new song is truly going to inspire and uplift many who have suffered from depression in the music industry. Can you tell us what your personal journey has been in relation to this song?

Ryan – Luke recently posted a status about his own kind of depression recently and I sent him this song to listen to and offered some advice. He said it helped him and I hope that it helps others too of course. I think a lot more people in the world are having these thoughts but do not really own up to them. It takes a lot of trust to tell others how low you feel sometimes and it can feel like you are burdening them if you do.

I have a friend here in Munich who was going through similar feelings so we had each other to talk to which was really important. It’s a great feeling when someone asks how you are and you can just honestly tell them. You are never on your own in the way you feel.

SMC – On your social media, it states: ‘The Wall’ was written in Austria, practiced in Germany, recorded in Italy and hopefully listened to Worldwide. Can you tell us why the different locations for all of this and how it came together?

Ryan – Some friends and I went to a cabin in the mountains of Austria where we wanted to write some music away from any distractions. I was writing material with a rapper called Martin Probst who I met at an event a year or so previous and from that we created a small community called ‘Creative Chaos‘. We had access to a studio and we would just record our individual ideas and see where they lead.

There were about 10 of us in this cabin and the initial idea for ‘The Wall’ started together with help from Carmina Reyes, a wonderful singer songwriter you should definitely check out. 

Once we wrote the first verse I knew where the song direction should go and I just wrote about how I was feeling. I only played it live a couple of times and never really thought seriously about recording it or releasing it because it was maybe a bit too honest… but after visiting Italy and playing at a place called Wildarno,they offered to make a video of a live performance and this song was the best option to record. 

SMC – Who is the creative team behind the making of this video and how did that come about?

Ryan – A guy called Gio recorded the video and Tommaso from Wildarno recorded the audio. We had some lunch together and then recorded this in one take. They intend to make many more with other artists who play there so if you are planning to go to Italy definitely get in touch with them – https://www.facebook.com/capannonewildarno/

SMC – Can you tell us what projects you have coming up musically that we can anticipate?

Ryan – The main focus is actually on my band ‘Visions To Kill The Mainstream’ (VTKTM for short). We are a blend of rap and riffs much like Rage Against The Machine, Limp Bizkit… Eminem with lots of guitar… nothing like my own music but a big passion of mine no less. I will be heading back to the UK for a month to work on a new EP together with the guys at LongWave Studios. We have big plans for a world tour in 2018.

I also cowrote a song together with Bianca Amapola. It’s called “Back To The Moon” we hope to record it at the beginning of December

For myself personally, I am just accepting work wherever I can that allows me to travel. I will be playing in Norway in November and some part of the ski season in St. Anton, Austria in February. I always dreamed of being able to see the world with what I do and my dream is thoroughly being realized. Just this summer alone I have been to Paris, Budapest, Italy and Greece.

I am recording an EP here in Germany too with a great guy called Karsten from WeltraumStudios. I will be making some plans with a tour manager to effectively promote it with a focus on the German market. It features some of the finest musicians I have met here and I’m looking forward to releasing the first single in 2018

Ryan Inglis (far left) performs onstage with the band ‘Visions To Kill The Mainstream’ (VTKTM)

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Ryan Inglis (right) with Violinist Saskia Götz (left) in Italy

Charities | Organizations

SMC – You literally just finished the project ‘Feed 50,000’ in Nepal. Can you tell us about how you came about with the idea to begin this project?

Ryan – Number 16 of my 100 things list (all the things I want to achieve with my life) was to feed 5,000 people. I asked for some advice on Facebook how to go about it and my friend Saskia Götz put me in touch with a charity organisation she knew about called www.Karmaflights.org, who work very closely with the communities in the Gorkha area of Nepal.

I contacted them, and told them what I wanted to do…

SMC – What essentially is the project about?

Ryan – After speaking to Isabella Messenger, who runs the charity, she told me about their hot lunch program, which was a perfect fit. I asked how much it would cost to provide 5,000 school dinners and I offered to pay it up front. The thing is 5,000 meals wouldn’t be enough of an impact for the 4 schools that were targeted. Due to them being some of the most impoverished in the area we decided to go one better and raise enough money to provide 50,000 meals instead which would feed all the children for a year and help make sure that the program could be sustainable.

SMC – I know you reached your goal and I am so pleased for you! Can you tell us what that goal was?

Ryan – The goal was to raise $9,400… we raised $10,922.97, which is enough to provide roughly 65,537 school dinners. The program will be sustainable too after the first year because they will already have all the cooking equipment they need. The food will then be grown by the children themselves and provided by the families living in the community and the program will have been solidified by the great work of Karmaflights who regularly visit the schools and check on their progress. You can see where the money goes on my website here – www.ryaninglis.com/feed-5000

SMC – Who would you like to thank for their support of this campaign?

Ryan – First, I would like to thank my friend Saskia (who is playing violin with me in this music video) for raising this money with me and seeing this through from start to finish. All the times when I felt like giving up she kept me going and even came to Nepal with me to visit the schools in person.

I’d like to thank everyone at Karmaflights for the work they do and for helping me put this money to good use and really, it is they who are doing all the real work. They are keeping an eye on the communities and seeing the money is used correctly.

Everyone who put some money in the donation box at every gig myself and Saskia played in the 7 months it took to raise the full amount and everyone who donated online. I had a few donations over €500 from some very kind-hearted people.

We held the party to celebrate reaching our target at Rumours in Munich. They very kindly offered the venue and we made over €550 on that night alone. I’d like to thank the owners and the musicians who played that night too.

SMC – I know that this isn’t the first campaign or charity you have chosen to support. Can you tell us more about some of the projects you have worked on in the past?

Ryan – Ryan – 2 years ago I raised $10,000 by walking over 500 miles through Spain (see video below). This money was given to shivacharity.com via The Charlie Derrick Music Foundation who used half of it to provide temporary shelters for those who lost their homes in the earthquake (I believe it built 34 homes in total) The other half of the money went to setting up a music department in Charlies name that the kids in the area have access to. It is of course still running now and is home to some 30 guitars and most recently some recording equipment that was donated by Tony Hobden, who still works very closely with the charity. There are videos about this project (here).

Before that I worked with The Charlie Derrick Music Foundation based in Weston-super-Mare. Over the 12 years or so that it was running we gave out around £40,000 in bursaries and music awards for children of World School (where Charlie Derrick was a student) and the hard-working musicians in the town. This money afforded them opportunities, instruments and training to help them further their music.

SMC – Which campaign or charity has been closest to your heart and why?

Ryan – From all of them I have seen the direct results, I have been there to witness the effects of the fundraising and I have amazing memories connected to each. They are all close to my heart

SMC – I know that you have actually taken the proceeds from the sale of your music and put it toward charities or organizations in need. Can you tell us what makes one get out of bed one day and just say, ‘Hey, this is what I am going to do!’ I mean, that’s very adm

irable!

Ryan – To be fair it’s not entirely accurate. I did release a single for £1 called ‘Blessed With Less’ and that money DID go to the earthquake appeal but it was actually only just over £20. The majority of the money came from donations online and fundraising from playing live.

To tick off feeding 5000 people, for example, I knew I had to provide that money from my own pocket to feel like I had the right to tick off at all. I’m just trying to live a good life and it’s actually totally selfish because it makes me feel good about myself. It’s nice to feel like I have made a positive impact on someone, somewhere in the world.

SMC – What is the one charity or organization you feel you want to help next and why?

Ryan – Next? I don’t know what to do next yet. I feel like I will wait another year before doing a large fundraiser because it can be quite draining and I find it quite hard to keep asking for money from people. All I do know is that whatever it will be I will stick to my method of raising money for something I can see and show the results of. I think that is so important. To see the change it is making

(foreground) Ryan Inglis (left) with Violinist Saskia Götz (right) in Nepal recently.

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Personal & Professional Life

SMC – Going back to your music video ‘The Wall’ and the lyrics…indeed, it is written from personal experience. Given the recent passing of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, can you tell us what you feel is the most important thing an artist can do for their own mental health in an environment that is very demanding?

Ryan – I don’t know if I can give any professional advice here. All I can say is that you may benefit from finding a friend you can be frank with and just be honest about what you are actually feeling. Try not to feel ashamed of it and remember it’s ok not to be ok.

The Samaritans have a number you can text (in the UK) if you are feeling really depressed or suicidal, +447725909090. Many people don’t like talking on the phone and would be more comfortable texting.

SMC – Can you tell us what your personal goals are in bringing hope and support to your peers who may be suffering from the same experience you have had?

Ryan – I don’t feel like I am some ambassador for depression or anything but if this song hits home for anyone out there, the message is simply to be open about it. You will be surprised how many are going through similar feelings and the most important step is (and was for me) to get up in the morning and start treating yourself like your own best friend.

SMC – What do you think is the most important thing an Artist can do for themselves to maintain balance in their personal lives out of the spotlight?

Ryan – I don’t know what it is like to be IN the spotlight. I’ve always wondered what fame would be like and I can imagine it would hold many challenges for your mental health. People find balance in their own way and whatever is going on around you I guess you would always need a ‘point zero’ to get you back to who you are. You need real friends and family who you can be honest with and who can be honest with you

SMC – Which platforms have been most supportive of your projects and music?

Ryan – Well most recently it has of course been you, Candice. Since Luke introduced me to you I have been massively impressed with the dedication you have to the musicians you help via Starlight. Before I released my album, The Time Is Now I was getting massive support from users of the site at slicethepie.com. I am still in touch with some of them now but most I never had any direct contact with. If they are reading this I would love to hear from them.

SMC – I always like to ask this because each Artist always has a ‘go to’ in terms of social media platforms – which one is yours and why?

Ryan – I really am a Facebook guy, It seems to be the one that I get the most interaction with. The art seems to lie more in the WAY you promote yourself or your music so I like to think of fun ways to interact with my Facebook friends and followers. Follow my music page (here)

SMC – You have spent a lot of time in Germany in the last year – can you tell us what the music scene is like there?

Ryan – The German audience is very receptive to original music. From my experience they are very happy to sit and listen and give artists that respect. I am very happy I moved here and chose Munich specifically because I found it to be very rich in places and ways to perform with a vast amount of great musicians to work and learn from.

SMC – Where is your greatest fan base?

Ryan – Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know who is keeping an eye on what I am doing. If you are reading this and you are a fan I would encourage you to let me know. I will always reply to messages

SMC – Which Musicians or Artists would you like to do a collaboration with and why?

Ryan – Anyone who is happy to sit in a room with me. From every collaboration I have learned to look at music in a slightly different way and every musician has a spark of something you can learn from

SMC – Are there any current collaborations in the fire that you are working on?

Ryan – There’s a song I’m still hoping to finish with Stephanie Forryan called ‘Start Healing’. We wrote it last year and started recording it but it’s still in the production process.

Most recently I worked on a song called ‘We’re In The River’ with a songwriter called MANU and on my upcoming EP there is a collaboration with Stephan Worbs called ‘Love Runs Against The Wall’

I also co-wrote a song with Luke Potter called ‘Living A Lie’ which I hope will end up on his album

SMC – Can you tell us what you have planned in the next 3-6 months career-wise and as personal goals?

Ryan – I will no doubt look at my 100 things list and decide a plan of action to tick more off. Mostly I will be concentrating on VTKTM and anything to do with travelling. My EP should be ready by then and I hope to sell a million of them… let’s see what happens!

SMC – How many items have you checked off your ‘100 things’ list?

Ryan – I have ticked off 29 items and 18 European capital cities in 3 years. You can see the list here – www.ryaninglis.com/100things

SMC – How did you arrive at creating a ‘100 things’ list?

Ryan – I was in Australia in 2014. The place I’d always wanted to go, doing the thing I’d always wanted to do, but for some reason I was still missing something. I was feeling unfulfilled. I looked up, asked the Universe to offer me some guidance and a couple of days later as I walked past a bookshelf, one book just jumped out at me. That book was called ‘100 Things’ by Sebastian Terry. It’s a story about a man who, after his friend past away, realised his friend lived a great life and he wondered if he could say the same about himself. He wrote down everything he wanted to do with his life, packed a bag and just started doing them. It’s a strange thing to think that I never really took the time to actually think about what I wanted to do in my life until then. I always focused on just being a musician (which I love doing) but forgot that I could also be many other things too

SMC – Alright, final question: What career advice would you give to the new generation of Musicians or Artists just beginning in this industry and why?

Ryan – Don’t be afraid to throw yourself completely into it. If it’s what you want to do with your life then give your life to it.

Thank-you Ryan!

Ryan –  No… Thank-YOU J x

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world premiere of ryan inglis ‘the wall’

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Ryan Inglis Social Media Links (click to view)

Buy the Album

Facebook

YouTube 

Website

Email Contact: me@ryaninglis.com

 

 

SMC Spotlight No. 5 | Palaye Royale ‘SMC Exclusive’ Headline Tour Review & Vlog

Indeed, 2017 has been a whirlwind Musicians life for Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based, Fashion Art Rock Band, Palaye Royale. We have been following and documenting the bands career since early 2014 and in that time, we saw them achieve what might seem the impossible for an indie band (see our timeline/history of the bands’ accomplishments below). By late 2016, the band had toured over 225 shows in almost every state, drove close to 100,000 miles, and hugged over 150,000 fans. It goes without saying that this kind of traction doesn’t go unnoticed in the music industry among their peers. Earlier this year the band toured with Andy Black (Black Veil Brides) and is currently touring with Rock Band Sleeping With Sirens on their ‘Gossip’ album tour (which launches September 22nd, 2017), and they plan on hopping the pond to England for their first ever Headline date at London’s Camden Assembly in November (see poster below – tickets can be purchased here). No doubt, this news has their European fanbase scurrying to find a method of transportation to get to them. We don’t even have to ‘suppose’ this is what will happen, we are certain it’s what will be.

Breaking records and making waves is nothing new to Palaye Royale. Well actually, making records is what they’re into these days and with so many accomplishments under their belt since January of this year, I am not surprised. This band is why Starlight Music Chronicles has incepted the very concept of a Spotlight Number Series: they are a trailblazing band who are constantly evolving, creating, touring, and making waves. We have chosen this for many reasons, the main one being: Palaye Royale (comprised of Frontman Remington Leith, Guitarist & Organist Sebastian Danzig, and Drummer Emerson Barrett) have become a permanent fixture in the SMC Family.

The bands loyal fan following, known as Soldiers of the Royal Council, have organized mass street teams globally and the band themselves spend considerable time engaging and responding to this fanbase via social media and their exclusive online fan group. It was this kind of interaction which landed them as first place winners in MTV’s Musical March Madness in 2014 as fans continuously leant their support throughout the competition. They were the first ever Indie band to win this award beating out well-known Artists such as: Coldplay, Fallout Boy, Linkin Park, and Tokio Hotel.

Palaye Royale marched right into 2017 without blinking an eye and have covered thousands of miles more and spearheading their own western Canada headline tour which landed them at northern British Columbia’s Grizfest Music Festival (where many high caliber bands such as Hedley, Theory of a Deadman, Down With Webster, and The Road Hammers have played), then on to their Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta shows before heading home to prep for their current tour. All shows were sold out once again with the support of their Canadian street teams getting the word out on social media, physical posters strewn about the cities, and support from Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC).

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CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Palaye Royale at their VIP Acoustic show backstage
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

Palaye Royale North American Headline Tour 2017

In late July 2017, SMC was contacted by the bands’ management team for the purpose of coordinating local press in the Edmonton area for the event. We also acted as exclusive ‘behind-the-scenes’ media support for the VIP acoustic performance and meet and greet. This included support teams from The Edmonton Muse and Ron Palmer Photography who expressed interest in media coverage for the show.

Palaye Royale at their VIP Acoustic show backstage
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

The band landed in Edmonton on August 8th, 2017 at the Mercury Room. Opening act Desperado Pilots gave a stellar performance before handing the stage over to the band. Indeed, many fans who came to see Desperado Pilots were also made ‘Soldiers of the Royal Council’ that evening after Palaye Royale’s outstanding performance.

VIP Acoustic Performance

The VIP acoustic set prior to the show was the jewel in this already beautiful crown. A select audience of approximately 20+ watched the band perform three acoustic sets off their newest album: Boom Boom Room Side A. Fans sang along to ‘Ma Cherie’ on pointe causing Remington Leith to pause, smile, and comment: ‘They know the words.’ There was also an insightful question and answer period woven between sets followed by a photo op with the fans prior to the show. (see below).

Palaye Royale at their VIP Acoustic show backstage
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

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Palaye Royale at their live performance at the Mercury Room in Edmonton.
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

Live Performance

Now here’s where we saw the magic: after prepping backstage, like the majestic kings they are, the band skillfully dominated the stage for an hour-long thrill ride that left fans begging for more. It was the classic ‘Rock and Roll-CBGB-style’, performance too: bras were being tossed onto the stage, fans clambered over one another just to touch them, and the room was beset with copious writhing, fist-pumping, dancing, and singing.

Drummer, Emerson Barret at the bands live performance at the Mercury Room in Edmonton. CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Guitarist, Sebastian Danzig at the bands live performance at the Mercury Room in Edmonton.
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

The band brought it full boar with heart pounding beats by Emerson Barret (that boy can play!), exquisite guitar riffs by Sebastian Danzig (love those Gretsch guitars too, by the way!) and a theatrical and engaging performance by frontman, Remington Leith. He even did his signature ‘hanging upside-down from the rafters’ move after wrapping up the show with ‘Get Higher’ a song that has previously been placed for a television commercial spot with Samsung Galaxy. (see more on the Samsung Galaxy commercial details below in the bands’ history timeline)

Remington Leith
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Sebastian Danzig
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Emerson Barrett
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

Following the performance, the band met in a private room with fans for photo ops. While the SMC team waited for the line to dwindle (an hour and a half later), we listened to the feedback from fans and media. Ron Palmer Photography commented that the band was energetic and sounded fantastic. Tania Ribeiro with The Edmonton Muse commented ‘I am so glad I came to this! What a great show!’ Comments from eager fans were ‘I drove all the way from Calgary to see them!’ (even though the band was heading to Calgary next!), and ‘This is the best birthday present I could ever get!’ The Edmonton Palaye Royale Street Team members also made an appearance and were avidly singing and dancing along with the crowd. One member said it was her first time seeing the band live (this was their third appearance in Edmonton), and she has since become an instant fan, actively following our posts about Palaye Royale on social media.

Remington Leith
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Palaye Royale
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Emerson Barrett
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Remington Leith & Fan
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Palaye Royale’s Sebastian Danzig shreds on his Gretsch Guitar
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Sebastian Danzig
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Remington Leith
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Palaye Royale
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Remington Leith & Fan
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.
Sebastian Danzig CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

Here’s my summation of this event:

For four years now, Palaye Royale has impressed me with every accomplishment that they have made. Witnessing (in person) their unique sound (see my Boom Boom Room Side A review below), image, and live performance is something magical comparative to Charlie Bucket finding that last golden ticket in the Willy Wonka chocolate bar: it’s a one in a million chance you will ever find something this special in this lifetime ever again. If you are anywhere near the last remaining concert dates for their current tour, we recommend that you go. This includes all our avid followers in London too! It won’t be long before this band headlines every one of their tours at sold out venues globally.

Check out the bands’ socials below and follow their journey so you can stay tapped in on upcoming tour dates, video releases, and new music coming soon!

The band packs up and heads out to their next gig! CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

Boom Boom Room Side A | Album Review

Our review of ‘Boom Boom Room: Side A’, a 15-track album which includes their song ‘White’ and has been featured on our Starlight Music Chronicles Facebook page over 2 years ago, in an ode to the band and their journey thus far. It also includes ‘Get Higher’ as a bonus track which has become the band’s iconic signature from their early recording days.

Late December, 2015, the band was signed to Sumerian Records (see link) and since, the label has supported the successful launch of their album along with videos for ‘Don’t Feel Quite Right’, ‘Mr. Doctor Man’ and ‘Live Like We Want To’. The album, created with Producer James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) was recorded in a vintage studio in Los Angeles, California, and is absolute genius. Prior to this, the band had been performing the new music featured in the album long before it’s recordings to gauge fans reactions.

The success of Boom Boom Room: Side A isn’t just in the hundreds of live performances this band has made getting the sound out to their fans, the countless meetings and interactions with their fans, or even the exquisite Neoclassical Architecture Art on the album cover and insert by Emerson Barrett…. it’s the sound that this band creates when they are together: it’s pure classic Rock and Roll magic!

The album kicks off with ‘Don’t Feel Quite Right’, ‘How Do You Do’, and ‘My Youth Generation’- sounds that give serious kick. Just like the vintage motorcycle Remington Leith rides, this is an all-out-on-the-highway-speeding-at-full-boar sound that is generated. There is no mistaking this is something that only the magic of these three brothers can create as a team who have come to know one another’s strengths and they are put to the test in the creation of these three numbers. However, the insanely incredible guitar riffs Sebastian Danzig pulls off at the start of ‘Mr. Doctor Man’ and throughout the song is second to none: it’s a MUST HEAR at loud decibels! In conjunction with strong lyrics and vocals by Remington Leith supported by powerful drum playing by Emerson Barrett, this song is probably one of my favorite off this album. Check it into your iPod playlist right away.

Going further into the album, ‘Sick Boy Soldier’ and ‘Live Like We Want To’ are some seriously killer tracks that continue the epic Palaye Royale sounds we have come to know and appreciate: Full of energy and cleverly written lyrics. ‘Ma Chérie’ is a deeply emotional song about love and loss featuring fellow industry peer Kellin Quinn (Sleeping With Sirens) combined with Leith’s powerful accomplished vocals delivering a cleverly executed number that is upbeat and extremely catchy.

The pièce de ré·sis·tance on this album comes in the form of ‘Too Many People’. The lyrics are suited to our current period in time where we have all suffered epic loss both in the Music Industry and our own personal lives making them truly relatable. There’s no mistaking that 2016 had been a year of endings (in numerology, the year added up equals to 9 which literally is the number representing endings and new beginnings) and ‘Too Many People’ is the antidote to the grieving many of us are going through: it goes to the heart and heals the soul.

The balance of the album with ‘Where Is The Boom?’, ‘Clockwork’, ‘Warhol’, and ‘Rag Doll’ are consistent in their output and strong lyrics but the ‘All My Friends’ finale is true ode to who Palaye Royale are as a band in their sonic and physical make-up: classical sounding, deeply emotional, dramatic, completely original, all-out chaos, and heart pounding energy. This song is another fave on our playlist and will bode well among new fans and classic rock and roll lovers when the band makes their mark in Edmonton at the Starlite Room February 26th, 2017.

To sum Boom Boom Room Side A up: this is a band of brothers whose ability and ingenuity in creating music that is both original and unheard of (in this era of ‘complacent’ rock and roll) results in a magical and biographical journey for the ears. I am confident that this is a band who has been through as much as they have, are rising to the top of their game, and will truly stand the test of time.

If you are new to this band and have never heard their sound before, we recommend you spend a weekend immersed in the comfort of your living room and watch episodes of live concert footage and behind-the-scenes on their YouTube Channel (see here) as well as the Sumerian Records YouTube channel where their recent music videos are posted (see here).

CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

Palaye Royale Historical Timeline

I have personally written several articles on different Website platforms for Palaye Royale and have followed their journey quite closely since February of 2014 when they messaged me via Twitter to ‘check out’ their video for ‘Get Higher’. I didn’t realize at the time (and after 48 consecutive hours of research later) that I had been reeled into what I call the ‘Palaye Royale Vortex’. Anyone who has heard them knows this as: ‘We NEED to know more! HEAR more! SEE more!’ And so it went, with every accomplishment, SMC has been documenting the way.

The band broke ground early 2015 when they hopped aboard the High School Nation Spring Tour from April and well into the end of May by performing in front of tens of thousands of people. At the same time, their single ‘Get Higher’ was (and still is) released and getting into high radio rotation across the USA and Canada which also secured the video a spot on MUCH Canada rotation. *Notable: Prior to the High School Nation Tour, Palaye Royale did live pre-production, an ‘old school’ style of music creation much like the Rolling Stones. In fact, World famous DJ Rodney Bingenheimer (previously at KROQ 106.7 FM Radio based out of Los Angeles, CA) has been so smitten with the band’s music, he has sought them out, connecting immediately, and taken it upon himself to spin their unreleased song ‘White’ causing their Twitter fan base to go into a frenzy wanting to get their hands on a copy.

CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

It goes without saying that true fans of Palaye Royale would know this band has been insanely busy since launching their album ‘Boom Boom Room’ on June 24th of 2016. Shortly following the album release,the band began touring Vans Warped Tour 2016 and continued back to back touring up until present day. This is a band that has legitimately worked very hard for their art and with the recording of ‘Boom Boom Room: Side B’ now imminent, we are certain that their hard work and dedication is going to pay off. In fact, on November 15th, 2016, they headed into new territory touring with Andy Black (Andy Biersack: founder and lead vocalist for the American rock band Black Veil Brides) beginning February 2017 in Canadian cities such as Edmonton, Calgary, and Saskatoon.

Merch includes custom art by Emerson Barret
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

This is a truly innovative band whose creativity never stops and the world is waking up and taking serious note of their accomplishments and with credentials to the Sid and Nancy: Sad Vacation film by Danny Garcia (a Documentary on Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen – see here) under their belts (Death Is A Party, Invite All Your Friends is the song featured in the film), a Jewelry line launched by Remington Leith on ‘Never Take It Off’ (https://www.facebook.com/NeverTakeItOff/) , a live performance at LA Fashion Week with Emerson Barrett’s art being shown next to Banksy (See here) and the sale of one of a kind custom Neoclassical Architecture designed Vans Shoes also by Emerson Barrett, it seems there is no limit. In addition, the band has performed hundreds of exclusive and intimate acoustic shows prior to their stage performances at ALOFT hotels and many other exclusive locations in their tour travels.

In 2017, the band launched their own newspaper ‘The Royal Times’, continued to tour western Canada, and even made an appearance on the 2017 Alternative Press Televised Awards Show. Fans continue to accumulate as the band continues to venture into new territory, winning over the hearts of new music seekers young and old everywhere they leave their mark.

Tour life has been challenging and this band has endured a lot: bus catching fire, tire blow-outs, transmissions cratering, brakes shot on a 20-year-old passenger bus known affectionately as ‘The Pirate Ship’, cooking in Wal Mart parking lots, roasting in the hot summer heat changing in cramped quarters (their trailer) and bunked up with half a dozen of their band mates all for the labor of love known as the ‘Rock and Roll Battlefield’ simply to bring their art to their adoring masses. When we look at the numbers of fans that have resulted from these sacrifices to perform live, (known as Soldiers of the Royal Council) the numbers have gone insane. They have a whopping 195,000+ twitter following, 115,000+ on Facebook, and 47,000+ on Instagram and its progressively growing every day.

Why? Because they. Never. Stop.

Palaye Royale at their VIP Acoustic show backstage
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

-Earlier Accomplishment History-

Palaye Royale has accomplished an MTV Music Award (after winning first place in MTV Musical March Madness in early April of 2014 beating out bands like Coldplay, Fall Out Boys, Linking Park, and Tokio Hotel, clearly demonstrating their artistry is also of the same high caliber. Even more interesting is that they are the FIRST EVER Independent band in the history of MTV to ever accomplish this feat and were consequently invited to appear on the red carpet at the MTV Movie awards in the same month. They have also performed on the Ernie Ball Stage at Vans Warped Tour as well as The Hard Rock Rising in Las Vegas. All of the above are fan voted accomplishments, all within a few months span.

The band was also featured in a Global Samsung Galaxy Note commercial alongside their single ‘Get Higher’. The Samsung campaign started in Londons’ ‘Picadilly Circus’ on the Teletrons for its visual content. Subsequently, due to the overwhelming response from viewers at the International Consumer Electronics Show CES in Las Vegas, Nevada the campaign continued for a further 18 months. Clearly, this isn’t any ordinary band and the strategic plans that they have charted out for the future of their success is absolutely remarkable.

Palaye Royale were also winners of Bongo Boy TV’s (BBTV) Indie Music Video Contest this last Spring being selected out of 1.2 million independent artists via Reverbnation.  Their music video ‘Get Higher’ featured on The Bongo Boy Rock n’ Roll TV Show aired in two episodes: premiering in April 2015 with National rotation coast to coast and in New York City on April 4th 2015. BBTV distribute their TV show series on 3 TV channels with cable companies like NBCUniversal Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner, FiOS, AT&T U-Verse, Suddenlink, Charter Cable and RCN Network Television.

(l-r) Remington Leith and Sebastian Danzig at their VIP Acoustic show backstage
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

On July 1st, 2015, Palaye Royale performed at the World-famous Hollywood Rock and Roll Hotel: Sunset Marquis right off of the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California before a private audience of 300 prominent Industry Dignitaries and the Canadian Consulate for the Canada Day SOCAN Friends and Family event.  Once again, the band made music history in a venue which has been a platform for actors, comedians, writers, artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, supermodels, restaurateurs, billionaire entrepreneurs, for the past 50 years.

Sebastian Danzig at the bands’ VIP Acoustic show backstage CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

On July 15th, 2015, Palaye Royale performed on the CBGB Stage originating from the famous club in New York at the Bowery which was shipped to the YouTube Space LA where the live recording of their new song ‘Live Like We Want To’ took place. (Cool side note: the club is now the home to John Varvatos’ flagship store since 2007 following the clubs closure in 2006) So what does this mean? It’s a pretty huge deal: The CBGB Stage originated as a biker club in 1973 featuring Country, Bluegrass and Blues Musicians (thus the acronym CBGB) and towards the early 1980’s became a famed venue known for hosting punk rock Musicians Blondie, The Ramones, Television, Patti Smith Group, and Talking Heads. By being asked by YouTube Space LA to perform on the original stage specifically brought to Los Angeles and having Palaye Royale create yet another major historical music maneuver does not surprise me one bit given their accomplished history.

Palaye Royale performing at their VIP Acoustic show backstage
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

In addition to all of the focus on the bands accomplishments as a whole, Drummer Emerson Barrett (under the alias: Dr. Strangebomb) has been featuring his unique and exquisite art in Galleries and Art shows throughout Los Angeles. The attention to the tiniest details in his creations has fans and collectors across the Globe fascinated by his ‘Revolutionary Art’ concepts and principles.

Palaye Royale are at present working on new music and collaborations which will only create more of a stir globally and it is exciting to see what will come next as they head towards new accomplishments and unique historical music feats. It can only be anticipated given their successes. Let’s face it folks, there will never be another band in the history of music who will have paved a path so unique such as Palaye Royale and with all their hard work, dedication, and accomplishments under their belt, I am confident saying this IS the Band of the Century and the Century has only just begun!

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The *EXCLUSIVE* behind the scenes video glimpses of Palaye Royale at their Headline Tour show in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on August 8th, 2017 including their VIP acoustic show are available on our Vimeo channel which can be accessed through this feature.

This is an official Starlight Music Chronicles Press Exclusive behind the scenes. More on the band can be found at:

Palaye Royale Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

YouTube

iTunes

Spotify

*The video content in this feature is exclusive property of Starlight Music Chronicles and may not be cropped, edited, or ‘borrowed’ on any other platform without express permission from editor@starlightmusicchronicles.com

 

 

SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets ‘Lights All Askew’: A Bright Star in the SMC Sky

The sultry and soulful vocals of Alaska-based Singer/Songwriter Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets is unmistakable and after only one listen to his most recent album ‘Lights All Askew’, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more. Since 2016, when the album was originally released, for some reason or other, Chris and I just couldn’t seem to connect. It wasn’t until this summer via twitter had our paths crossed yet again and I finally was able to secure a firm date for our exclusive SMC Spotlight interview (see below).

Since the early part of the 1990’s, Chris Watkins has been blazing a trail for the indie music scene in the north though consistent music releases and live performances and even with the massive changes to media and the introduction of social media, he has adapted seamlessly. Throughout the ‘Lights All Askew’ album, vintage folk/rock influences of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed (the Artists influences) are prevalent. This is a nice transition from his previous album ‘London Can take It’ (2015) which was a ‘comeback kid’ sound stemming from his previous work. It was actually the album title song ‘London Can Take It’ which piqued my interest in 2016 when I began my research on the band. If you are wondering what ‘new music discovery’ you’d like to add to your music collection, Chris Watkins Drunk Poets is THE music to add. With an established discography history, there will be plenty of treasures to choose from. I recommend spending a weekend immersed in the comfort of your living room, make sure your stereo has the best speakers, light some candles, and play loud. I guarantee you won’t want to go to work on Monday…it’s THAT soothing to the soul.

This is our first SMC Spotlight Numbered Series on Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets and it most certainly won’t be our last. This is an Artist we enthusiastically welcome to the SMC Music Family for his primordial and titillating sound that has now earned him a permanent place next to the already stellar talent we support. Welcome to the SMC Family Chris!

Chris Watkins
photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

SMC Spotlight Exclusive Interview | Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets

SMC – Hello Chris! This interview has been a very long time coming! I have been following your music career journey for over a year now. Let’s begin with an introduction as to who you are. Can you tell us about your career and your journey into the music scene?

Chris – Hello Candice. It is an honor to be here, thank you. I started performing and recording music at the age of 16 in South Central Alaska. Since then I have recorded 7 albums and am currently recording the 8th which will be due out sometime between now and Christmas.

SMC – Being a writer myself, and a lover of poetry…. can you tell me about your name Drunk Poets? How did you arrive at that?

Chris – A former member of the band invented it and it was inspired by Dylan Thomas.

SMC – Can you tell me about the projects you are presently working on?

Chris – It is an adaptation of a novel called ‘Derevnia’s Daughters‘, which is a historical novel about the island of Afognak, which was written by Lola Harvey and published in 1993.

SMC – That sounds amazing1 You are SO active and supportive on the Indie Music Scene via social media! Can you tell us which platform you gravitate to most for connecting with your peers?

Chris – Twitter

Chris Watkins
Photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

SMC – Can you tell us which peer you have met on social media who has been influential in your career journey?

Chris – Just as important as the artists are the people who give them a place to be heard: (in no particular order) EGH Radio #UnsignedHour, #MusicHourUK, Candice Marshall at Starlight Music Chronicles, Al Yardy at KB Radio, Mark Riley, Jon Zombie, Paradisemoon Radio, Tracey at Music Talks, Ronnie at Bigtime Radio, Jeff at Eclectic Music Lover, Only Rock Radio, and the one and only Bernadette at Rock-fm.caBernie on the Air‘!

SMC – If you could name one person you would like to collaborate with in future who would that be and why?

Chris – I cannot pick just one, but to list a few (in no particular order) …Hannah Clive, The Puss Puss Band, Erica (The Erica Band), Jamie Slate, Zel Florizel, Mark Riley, Lakisha Skinner at Klef Notes, Edmond Crabtree (Lost Generation), Stan Stewart, Robert Segarra, Ghostly Beard, Kamikaze Funtime and of course the brilliant Addie.

SMC – Are there talks of any collaborations in future with other artists?

Chris – Yes, Hannah Clive and the Puss Puss Band.

SMC – Can you tell me what the radio response to your album ‘Lights All Askew’ has been like?

Chris – The response to ‘Lights All Askew’ in the digital radio community has been nothing less than extraordinary.

SMC – I am a fan of your song ‘Dark Old House’ – can you tell me about the ‘theme’ of this song lyrically?

Chris – Calvinist chic.

SMC – What instrument do you create your songs on?

Chris – The guitar.

SMC – What is the song-writing process like for you? I always like to ask this question because so many have such a different approach to this…

Chris – I spend half of the year reading and the other half writing and recording.

SMC – Which song off this last album has received the most attention from fans?

Chris – ‘Cheerleader in Love‘.

SMC – Which song overall has received the most traction with your fans and radio?

Chris – ‘They Can’t Hurt You Anymore‘.

SMC – I know that many artists create ‘themes’ for their albums…can you tell us the themes of each of your albums?

Chris –

Empty Rooms (1992) A view from the edge of the American empire.

Going Down Slow (1994) A picture of psycho sociological

Nail it Down (2001) A collection of short stories for the Nashville set

Lazy Mountain Moon (2005) Amalgamation of southern and northern myths

Winter Birds (2013) An act of sheer desperation

London Can Take It (2015) The sound of me getting back on my feet

Lights All Askew (2016) Twilight on tape

SMC – How do you think you have developed as an artist between albums?

Chris – Exponentially.

SMC – What has the media response to the ‘Lights All Askew’ album been like?

Chris – I could not ask for more.

SMC – Can you tell us where most of your fanbase is located?

Chris – Anywhere there is still a light in the window.

SMC – What do you think is the positive about social media in terms of building an artists career?

Chris – The digital platforms will be the infrastructure in the 21st century.

SMC – What do you think the negative attributes of social media are or can be?

Chris – It is naive to think that corporate control of the sphere is not inevitable in some form.

Chris Watkins
Photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

SMC – What are your thoughts on Spotify being the ‘way of the future’ in terms of rapidly becoming THE place for artists to have their music showcased?

Chris – If it is not Spotify it will be another platform just like the alternate media in the Soviet Union during the cold war.

SMC – What is the music scene up there in Alaska? I was curious to find out what the music scene was like or even the support for artists up there…

Chris – I have no idea, I am too busy going to work.

SMC – When was your ‘Ah Ha’ moment in terms of knowing music was going to be the career path meant for you?

Chris – There was no one moment, I just got better at writing songs.

SMC – Can you tell us if there are any other creative projects aside from music that you are currently or will be working on?

Chris – Staying alive.

SMC – Where has been your most favorite live performance to date and why?

Chris – The band on the ‘Going Down Slow’ album played to 10 people in Girdwood Alaska in 1995, and it was the best show I have ever seen or heard.

SMC – Who would you like to give a ‘shout out’ to for being supportive of your music career?

Chris – Yes, everyone I listed above. The radio stations, the DJs, the music blogs, my fellow indie-artists, friends and followers. Many thanks to you all.

SMC – Which kind of music or musicians do you naturally gravitate to?

Chris – The dangerous ones.

SMC – If you had to describe your ‘sound’ to a new fan, how would you best describe it?

Chris – Snow on the telephone wire.

SMC – What is a deal-breaker for you in terms of what you aren’t willing to do for the success of your career?

Chris – Lick Napoleon’s boots.

SMC – Can you tell us five things about yourself that no one knows anything about?

Chris – yes.

SMC – Can you tell us what the next 3-6 months look like for you in terms of new music or live performances?

Chris – I am focusing on finishing my next album.

SMC – Okay, final question: Fill in the blank – ‘If I weren’t a Musician, I would be a __________.

Chris – Corpse.

 

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Chris Watkins ‘Lights All Askew’ Allbum
photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

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SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Ada Pasternak ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ Exclusive Interview & Review

In late July, while listening to some new up and coming talent, my ears were treated to the lilting sweet vocals of Russian-born, Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Ada Pasternak. It was indeed her newest single ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ that caught my attention. After the first few chords and verses, I was an instant fan. I always say that it takes a lot to impress me, and in only seconds, this young lady has managed to land on our SMC Editors Favorites Spotify playlist, a place I often go to for inspiration while working on my next big interview.

In delving further into her career, I learned that Ada is a graduate of Berklee College of Music (with a full scholarship might I add!), and has been trained in classical music since she was very young. She is a virtuoso classical Violinist who was trained in her early years by her Aunt, also a professional Violinist, who played with the New York Philharmonic. In fact, from the age of six she was influenced greatly by her parents, also classical musicians, who would often have classical music or opera playing in the home. After listening to some of her back-catalog of music, I am confident that this is a young lady whose budding career is about to blossom fully, and very quickly too. ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ is the transition song that brings Ada from that classical music realm to the unique pop sound laced with her personal touch of violin and charm and it’s just that kind of combo that stands out as authentic and unique.

This is Ada’s first time on the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Spotlight and we are thrilled to feature the lovely songbird in her first SMC Spotlight Numbered Series. Check out her socials below and be sure to subscribe – this is indeed, a songbird that will not remain caged. We look forward to seeing her soar!

Side Note: “Ada, I have much respect for Artists who take a moment for someone who is broken or going through something incredibly personal in their lives and it seems we always naturally gravitate to special souls like yourself. The fact that you wrote such a lovely song ‘You’re Beautiful’ for a young girl going through so much, speaks volumes about who you are. You are a shining star in the SMC crown and we are blessed to know you.”

-Candice Anne Marshall | Editor

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Ada Pasternak photo courtesy: Ada Pasternak

Exclusive Interview | Ada Pasternak 

SMC – Hello Ada! We welcome you officially into the SMC Family! We host high caliber artists on this site whose accomplishments are noteworthy and we do this through our SMC Spotlight Numbered Series. This will be your first with us. Before we get into how we discovered you, can you tell us about yourself and your career journey?

Ada –  Hi Candice!  I am happy to be joining the SMC Family, thanks for having me!

I come from a family of Classical Musicians and Painters, and was Classically trained on the Violin for 10 years growing up.

I attended Berklee College of Music and it was there that I branched out and discovered my passion and ability for singing and songwriting.

Now I am excited and grateful to be living in Los Angeles and working with some of the best songwriters, producers, making new friends and getting closer to my goals and dreams. 

SMC – We discovered you through Spotify! It was your song ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ that struck a chord with me. I think it’s because in a world with so much negativity, it was refreshing to hear a song that strikes a chord in so many of us to accept ourselves for who we are. Can you tell us how you came about the ‘theme’ of this song? Also, did you write the song?

Ada – I was in the studio with Producer Stefan Lit, and as he strummed 4 simple chords on the guitar, the melody and words fell off my tongue quite naturally, like most of my songs do.

Yes, I wrote it.  

I was going through stuff (and I’m still going through stuff ;)) and this song was a way for me to express myself, show a side of myself that is sensitive, insecure, vulnerable, and even humorous. 

SMC – I also saw that the single released July 1st of this year. What has the media and radio response been like for it?

Ada – The response has been great.   In less then 2 months, the song has over 200,000 spins on Spotify, and more on Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and Tidal.

Considering I released it on my own with no help from labels, I’m glad it’s getting some ears on it.

Spotify featured the song on one of their Playlists called “Lighten Up” and I’m on the Cover!  Thanks Spotify!

People seem to really connect with the song and that’s very important to me.  It’s fun to perform the song live, because the first line always makes people smile, or even laugh out loud.  “I hate that I’m so lazy when I wake up at noon”

SMC – What has your fan response been like? I can imagine that you have inspired so many young girls today who are struggling with body image issues…

Ada –  I definitely aim to inspire girls who may be struggling with body image issues, or any other issues.   I have received some responses and hope to reach many more people with my message.

SMC – What has been your personal experience growing up with a music career? How long has music been ‘in your life’?

Ada – Music has been in my life since I was 6 years old.  My parents are Classical Musicians so I would hear Classical Music and Opera before I ever even picked up an instrument.  

My career changed drastically when I transitioned from being a Virtuoso Classical Violinist to a “Singer/Songwriter” (though I’m not fond of this term cause apparently everyone is a Singer/Songwriter. Lol

SMC – There is a very impressive roster of fellow Musicians that you have performed with! Can you tell us which have been your favorite to date and why?

Ada – Every musician and artist has a unique and wonderful talent.  One of my favorites has been performing with Idan Raichel.  His music really speaks to my soul, and he sings in Hebrew so I don’t even understand what he’s singing. Ha ha.

I wish I spoke Hebrew so I could sing his beautiful songs with him.

Though I may not know the words, I know the FEELING.  Music is the Universal Language after all! 🙂 

SMC – What have you picked up or learned along the way in your music career?

Ada –  Oh man.  Probably more than I can type right now.

To be a successful musician these days, you have to think of your music career as a Business.

Do not be afraid to make mistakes, and do not sit around waiting for someone to help you.

Help yourself and the people who are meant to be on your team will be drawn to your energy. 

SMC – I was super pleased to see that you studied at Berkeley! What was that experience like? I have heard so many great things about Berkeley.

Ada – Berklee was a very interesting place and certainly a once in a lifestyle experience.  It’s sort of a Musical Playground where you can play with whoever you want and experiment with all types of genres including Jazz, Bluegrass, Salsa, and others.  It was really fun.  I grew tremendously as a person and as a musician, and I will always be grateful for the Full Tuition Scholarship I received, which enabled me to attend Berklee for free!  What a gift!  (I guess all those hours of practicing Violin paid off)  

SMC – Can you tell us what a ‘day in the life’ of Ada is like?

Ada – My days always include Avocados, Dance and Music.  🙂 

SMC – What has been the best compliment you have received from an industry peer so far?

Ada- My friend Blessing Offor (very talented musician in Nashville) called me after hearing “Perfectly Imperfect” and he was genuinely impressed and happy for me.  He said it’s the best work he’s heard me do and that he loves the song! 🙂 

SMC – You have also done some work with Postmodern Jukebox! I have interviewed Brielle Von Hugel who has also worked with them. Small world! Can you tell us what that experience was like?

Ada – It was awesome.  Scott Bradlee is so talented and comes up with arrangements in seconds!   I don’t know how he does it!

SMC – I also read about your ‘world-class’ violinist credits – I am a huge lover of the violin! What inspired you to want to learn violin?

Ada – My Aunt is a Professional Violinist and played with the New York Philharmonic for many years, so she began teaching me Violin from a young age.   I never complained or put up a fight. 

SMC – Are there any other instruments that you play?

Ada – I play Piano a little bit.

SMC – Can you tell us what the family support has been like?

Ada – My parents are very supportive and think it’s great that I’m doing what I’m passionate about.

SMC – You were born in Moscow! How lovely – I have always wanted to visit Russia…can you tell us what the music scene is like back in your home country?

Ada – I haven’t been back there since I left as a little girl, but I know that Russia takes their Music Education very seriously, so there might be little Ada’s practicing the Violin right now! Hehe

SMC – What does the term ‘successful’ mean to you personally and professionally?

Ada- To me, the term “successful” means happy.   For me to be happy I have to reach more people with my music and message.   I need to write, record and release more music and make a comfortable living being a songwriter and performer.   To have the ability to have my artistic freedom, help and inspire as many people as possible, support my current family and future family and for those I love to have a great life.    I have watched my parents struggle financially my whole life so one of my goals is to be able to help them so they no longer have to worry about their bills.

SMC – You almost have that ‘theatre-esque’ sound too…have you ever considered working in theatre?

Ada –  This is true, and I have considered it indeed.  I think it’s a possibility perhaps in the future.

SMC – In going into your back catalogue, I absolutely love your song ‘You’re Beautiful’…you have such a charming voice and it pairs well with the violin. This song is a perfect example of that. Can you tell us what the story is behind the lyrics of that song?

Ada – A few years ago when living in CT, I was working at a Music School giving a music lesson to a young girl, about 10 years old.  We were chatting and she mentioned something about being bullied at school and her parents fighting at home.   It broke my heart.  As soon as she walked out of the room, I sat on the piano bench and came up with the chorus of the song. “I think you’re beautiful, I think you’re smart, I think you’re everything that they should want, I think you’re wonderful, I think you’re brave, and there’s nothing they can do to take that away”

SMC – What do the next 3-6 months look like for you in terms of live performances and music releases?

Ada-  I have a performance coming up in LA September 18th at The Mint.  It’s at 9:00, No Cover and all ages are welcome! 

I do Live-Streams on ConcertWindow.com

People can purchase Personal Videos of me singing and playing on Serenade.me/ada

It’s a nice gift for someone you care about, perfect for a Birthday, holiday, etc.

I am releasing a new version of “Perfectly Imperfect” soon and will have T-shirts available for sale on my Website; AdasMusic.com

I am working on what will be my next single and can’t wait for people to hear it!

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us five things about yourself that no one knows anything about?

Thank you Ada!

Ada –  I hate goat cheese.

My favourite Disney movie growing up was Aladdin

I’m a bit obsessed with the show AND the movie “Sex and the City”- I think it’s wonderful!

I used to have my nose pierced.

I once gave myself a haircut in Sam Ash.  My split ends were annoying and I saw Scissors, so snip snip. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy.  Maybe I am.  😉

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Ada Pasternak photo courtesy: Ada Pasternak

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SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Clayton Bellamy Canadian Country Music Legend

by Candice Anne Marshall

In late early August 2008, I was introduced to the sounds of Juno Award winning Canadian Country band The Road Hammers and little did I know that my first encounter with Music Journalism would be inspired by this band, but you know what they say about first impressions…and these boys left such an impactful one, I ended up pursuing music journalism into what is now known as Starlight Music Chronicles. Their passion for their music and their enthusiasm on stage through stellar performance left be spellbound.

In the last 9 years, I have followed the bands’ career and in 2013, I reconnected with Clayton Bellamy, guitarist for The Road Hammers, just outside of Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta prior to a Taylor Swift concert. It was then we struck up a friendship apart from the band and is where I first learned he had also pursued a solo music career. He handed me his album ‘Five Crow Silver’ with the promise to review it (which I did eagerly), and since, I have been a massive supporter of his solo and band projects. His attitude, work ethic, and personable approach to his peers in this sometimes very tough industry is like a welcome breath of fresh air.

Since 2013, I have watched Clayton work with Canadian Musicians like Dan Davidson, and FKB producing and penning songs that have now made major strides on Canadian Radio and being recognized by the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and Edmonton Music Awards. To say the least, everything Clayton pours his heart into has that Midas touch and that is evident in the accumulation of awards he has earned over the last several years. He and The Road Hammers have been nominated for yet another Canadian Country Music Award for 2017 (for Group or Duo of the Year) and have already four CCMA awards under their belt. In addition, he has won a Juno Award for Best Country Recording and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year award to name a few. Clayton has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and even for President Carter. His work credentials from his Five Crow Silver album include working alongside industry peers such as Garth Hudson (The Band), Bobby Keys (The Rolling Stones), Ian McLagan (The Faces), Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s legendary backing band Double Trouble, Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar), Tom Wilson (Blackie and the Rodeo King’s), Audley Freed (The Black Crowes), Chad Cromwell (Neil Young, Joe Walsh), Kelly Prescott, Mike Plume and his old buddies from The Road Hammers, Chris Byrne and Corbett Frasz.

We are looking forward to his new project with The Congregation (as mentioned in the below interview) and his Career journey is officially now part of the SMC Spotlight Numbered Series roster of high caliber Artists we have been profiling in both the music and film industries and welcome Clayton to the SMC Spotlight!

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Clayton Bellamy CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

Exclusive Interview | Clayton Bellamy 

SMC – Clayton! We are so thrilled to have you on our SMC Spotlight! This has been a long time coming my friend! I met you back in 2007 when you performed at Grizfest in Northern BC. I was that deer-in-the-headlights reporter for the local newspaper Jason brought on the bus…. I remember you boys were so laid back. It was my first interview. You know, I got in a lot of trouble for that! LOL Let’s begin with your work with The Road Hammers – I saw there’s a video in the works….and I saw you in a jailbird costume…what’s up with that? LOL

CB – Well first off, I never kiss and tell so I can’t give away all the details but that picture was on the set of a video for a song called Haulin’ Ass on the new Road Hammer record “The Squeeze”.

SMC – What has the fan response been to The Road Hammers new music?

CB – The response has been overwhelming with a Top 6 single on Billboard it is really overwhelming to see Hammer music still doing so well after 12 years on the road!

SMC – How do you feel you have personally evolved as a Musician since 2007 when we first met?

CB – Well I hope I have gotten better lol, I have learned so much being with this band and touring the world. I think we have really, as Musicians, refined what the band is and taken our live show to a whole other level.

SMC – I did a review of your album Five Crow Silver (I still listen to that all the time!) after we connected in 2013 outside Rexall Place at the Taylor Swift RED Tour. Are there any more solo projects coming down the pipe? That album is fabulous!

CB – Thank you, I was very proud of that record. YES, in fact I am working on a new solo project now, a band called The Congregation!  It is a mix of RnB, Gospel and Rock n Roll!

SMC – I also saw that there was some pretty stellar talent that collaborated with you on the Five Crow Silver album. Can you tell me which experience was most memorable for you?

CB – That album was not easy to make with all the guests involved but I would say being in Willie Nelsons Studio with Double Trouble and Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar and Ian Maclagan of the Faces all in one room was something I will never forget!

SMC – So let’s get into some of the song-writing you have been collaborating on for local artists in the Edmonton community…Let’s begin with Dan Davidson – Can you tell us how that collaboration came about?

CB – Dan and I have known each other for years thru his work with Tupelo Honey, we got together when he called me about co writing for his new solo project!  Together we wrote Barn Burner and Found which was a GOLD selling single!  It still BLOWS MY MIND!

SMC – FKB, can you tell us how you that collab came about?

CB – I first saw FKB playing a Chilli cook off in Bonnyville AB.  Then like the same week I saw them playing at the Car show in Bonnyville, I thought these kids are too good to be real! We got together and started writing for their first record they were 17 and 18 years old!  Now here we are on album number two five years later and they are touring North America with songs on the radio and kicking ass!  I am so pumped for them!

SMC – Can you tell us if there are any other artists local to Edmonton that you will or have worked with?

CB – I am always interested in collaborating and creating music.  Weather at the local or national level it only matters about the quality and passion of the artist I am working with.  If I am going to write or produce with an Artist it first has to feel right.  There are so many great Edmonton bands out there right now but I would love to work with ‘Scenic Route To Alaska’!

SMC – Have there been any other Canadian artists that you have collaborated with outside of Edmonton?

CB – I have been so blessed to work and write with many great artists like Jason Blaine, Big Sugar, Matt Anderson, Chad Brownlee, The Trews, Derric Ruttan, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and many others who have let me into their worlds.

SMC – What about US artists?

CB – As a Band the Hammers have played with many great acts like Loretta Lynn, Lynard Skynard, Jason Aldean, Dwight Yoakam, Twisted Sister, the list goes on and I often have to pinch myself knowing that all this started as a dream from a small-town farm kid in Alberta.

SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment to date in terms of your personal career?

CB – I think Playing the Grand Ole Opry.  We played it twice and it was a feeling like no other…I got down and kissed the stage.

SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment in terms of your personal life?

CB – By far my kids…they have given me so much joy in my life and hope for the future, and the continue to challenge me as a Dad and as a Human being to be better.

SMC – It seems that everything you touch turns to gold! Dan Davidson’s song ‘Found’ and ‘Barn Burner’ have had some serous traction on radio and among fans. Can you tell us what you like most about writing for others?

CB – I love that there are no expectations, only open roads to go down to create!

SMC – How many of the songs on The Road Hammers new album ‘The Squeeze’ you have written?

CB – I was a part of 3 songs on the Record including the Title track!  But it was a group effort to make those songs.  I am only a part of making those great.  Chris Byrne and Jason McCoy are amazing writers in their own right so it’s easy when you get in the room with them!

SMC – You boys always seem to have a ton of fun in everything you do from making videos to live performances. Can you tell us what you enjoy most?

CB –  what I enjoy most is that nothing is ever the same, as soon as you get tired of playing live you’re in the studio recording or your writing its always changing and that works good for me!

SMC – Let’s talk about your career working for 103.9 CISN FM Radio in Edmonton…what was your role on the station?

CB – I was the host of the Drive Home show with Chelsea Bird.

SMC – What inspired you to get into Radio?

CB:  That was serendipity mostly lol.  The good folks at CISN including Chris Scheetz approached me about the opportunity and I said YES!  The rest is history.

SMC – How would you say your time on CISN FM has helped enhance your own music career or that of The Road Hammers or the others you write for?

CB:  I think it helped me become more of a household name in Alberta, it also helped hone my radio skills interviewing and being interviewed!  It also opened up a whole new world of opportunity for the future in Music for me.  And for that I will always be grateful.

SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment to date in terms of your career?

CB – The JUNO (award).

SMC – What has been your greatest challenge?

CB – Breaking out into new markets around the world.

SMC – I saw something a while back about you supporting causes like the Diabetes Foundation. My mother had diabetes, so this is a subject I am passionate about. Can you tell me what other organizations you have supported?

CB – Yes, I was involved with The Diabetes Association at the CISN I went to Scotland and ran the Scotland Marathon with them it was amazing!

SMC – We are halfway through the summer and with festival season drawing to a close, what do you have planned in terms of live performances in the upcoming months?

CB – The Hammers are full on baby!  We have a huge fall coming up with our new single “YOUR LOVE IS THE DRUG”

SMC – I feel confident that you will walk away with something at the CCMA’s this year! What categories have you or artists you’ve worked with been nominated for?

CB – Well don’t get too confident lol, if it’s one thing you can never count on it’s awards shows lol.  But seriously it is always amazing to be nominated and recognized for your work.  To me that is the best.

SMC – What do you place most of your energy into during the creative process of making an album with The Road Hammers or even with others?

CB – THE SONGS!  with out them you have nothing…

SMC – Can you tell us what your song-writing process is? Which instrument do you use for this process?

CB – My process is secret… my instrument is my BRAIN! LOL

SMC – Which artist in the industry would you like to collaborate with and why?

CB – I would love to work with Eric Clapton or John Mayer!

SMC – With so many affected by the recent passing of Chester Bennington and even Chris Cornell, what are your thoughts on the demands of the music industry and the importance of keeping balanced?

CB – Listen, mental illness is nothing to be taken lightly and until we lift the stigma and get it out in the open and attack it head on we will continue to lose people.  Celebrities or not, our families all need support so love up on each other because you never know where someone is at…

Clayton Bellamy (far left) performs with The Road Hammers at Grizfest Music Festival in 2008.
Photo: Candice Anne Marshall
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

SMC – What is a typical ‘day in the life’ of Clayton Bellamy like?

CB – BUSY>>>

SMC – What has been the most memorable live performance for you to date?

CB: Still the OPRY

SMC – Who are your greatest allies in this industry?

CB – My friends, it’s hard to explain but I never approach this as business and needing allies and leveraging ext… may be to my detriment but I always came at it as a FAN!  I LOVE Music and I want to be friends with these people and be involved in their lives and their music!

SMC – What plans do you personally want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

CB – World Domination! LOL.  Honestly my new project The Congregation and my songwriting are taking front seat for a while and I hope to be busy making music with that!

SMC – Where do you think the future of music is at in terms of platforms: Spotify or Pandora?

CB – There will always be room for vinyl and CD’s on the fringe but mass music is now consumed online and that is our reality.

SMC – Do you think that with platforms like Spotify or Pandora, radio will become obsolete?

CB – No not as long as there is internet this is how music will be consumed from now on.

SMC – What does the term ‘success’ in the music industry means to you?

CB – I think I am living it, I get to make a living playing and creating music that is what I set out to do.  And Every day I wake up excited about my day…you can’t ask for more than that.

SMC – What is a deal-breaker for you in terms of what you aren’t willing to do for your career?

CB – I think anything that goes against my Moral code, or would affect my family or children negatively, but luckily, I have yet to run into that.

SMC – Who would you say are your go-to team?

CB – My manager Ron Kitchner at RGK or my Publishing team at OLE Nashville.  But creatively Scott Baggett my production Partner and The Hammers band are my go to guys!

SMC – What do you do to ‘unwind’ after a hectic day?

CB – I love to be on the Water, or on my Motorcycle.

SMC – Who is your favorite Rock artist? Country? Alternative? Folk/Americana?

CB: Right now, I would list Chris Stapleton, Rival Sons, Tedeschi Trucks Band

SMC – Okay, final question: What ‘other’ career path would you have chosen if you had not chosen music?

CB – Banana Salesman, because I am sensitive just like them…I bruise easily!

SMC – LOL! Fair comment – Thanks Clayton!

*Featured throughout this interview are songs that Clayton has written or produced with the Artists featured.

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Clayton Bellamy
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

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SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Victory Dance ‘Memphis’ Music Video Review & Exclusive Interview

The newest storm to land on the SMC Spotlight is being touted by us to the world as a turbulent catapulting meteoroid direct from New York City – they are known as Victory Dance. The five-member band comprised of Kenny Collette (vocals/guitar), Bobby Kay (bass/vocals), Jason Krebs (keyboards/vocals), Chris Tsaganeas (drums), Are Jay Helton (guitar), come from separate established career backgrounds and have now combined forces to make up the resounding boom sound you hear today. Their past credentials have earned them major label deals with Universal Republic Records, sharing the stage with prestigious bands like The Roots, and a string of Vans Warped Tour dates. Indeed, this is a band that we predict going the whole distance with their music career and we are thrilled to bring them to our prestigious SMC Spotlight platform. Their sound is completely addicting complete with a stage presence that commands immediate attention – it will knock the socks off anyone watching. Legit.

Only days ago, the band released their new video ‘Memphis’ (see video below) off their album The Spectrum and it’s a true reflection of the combustible energy-type sound we feel these boys are capable of bringing to a packed stadium during the Super Bowl. Upon first listen, you’ll understand exactly what I mean. The vocals remind me of a mix between Owl City and Imagine Dragons and when combined with melodies that are upbeat, thunderous, and impactful, it becomes the audible magic that makes this dynamic band come alive.

In addition to the sound, the Memphis music video reflects the well-crafted vision in the creative minds of these exceptionally talented artists. Filmed primarily in a spacious stark-white warehouse in Keyport, New Jersey and various areas throughout Brooklyn and Jersey City, it offers a glimpse into the kind of intense energy these boys create together during live performances. In addition to the band’s accomplishments, I was happy to learn that personal pursuits outside the band are of environmental and mental health nature. In light of the recent passing of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, Kenny Collette has been actively engaging in public speaking events for suicide and mental health awareness. With our own involvement with Morgan’s Mission, an organization formed around this very subject, we have much respect for Collette’s passion on this subject.

If SMC is the first place you are hearing Victory Dance, just remember you heard them here first. We have been consistently showcasing high caliber talent on our Spotlight for the last 2 years since its inception and having Victory Dance on our platform supports this statement. We look forward to also following this bands’ career journey through our rapidly growing SMC Spotlight series, a signature that SMC readers have come to expect when we begin showcasing exceptional bands like Victory Dance.

Be sure to subscribe to the bands’ socials below and subscribe to our SMC Spotlight to stay informed on when we will be showcasing the band again!

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Victory Dance
Photo courtesy: Victory Dance

SMC Spotlight Exclusiv Interview | Victory Dance | August 2017

SMC – Hello gentlemen! We are thrilled to have you on our Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Spotlight! Since this is our first time profiling you on our site, can you tell us a few things about yourselves in relation to your music background?

Bobby:  We get around! Chris and I go the furthest back. We played in a heavy alternative band in high school. We crossed paths with Kenny on the NJ band circuit while he was in some progressive, post-hardcore bands that saw some bigger tours. Chris later joined a country band that Jay was in, and they eventually started a pop band they brought me into. That saw some major label success, until we disbanded and the 3 of us started Victory Dance. We were linked back up with Kenny through a mutual friend. Then Are Jay had been around the Nashville music scene since he’s from Tennessee, and he moved up to New York to start fresh. We connected through social media and the band took form.

SMC – Today, your single ‘Memphis’ has launched – can you tell us which platforms fans can find it on?

Bobby: Spotify, itunes, SoundCloud, BandCamp, and YouTube.

SMC – I was blown away by your sound! I also loved the teasers you gave leading up until the release of ‘Memphis’. Can you tell us what is most important to convey in your branding?

Bobby: Thanks! The thing about the Memphis video is the plot is pretty subtle. We wanted the promo of it to expand on the plot. I always liked how 30 Seconds to Mars uses video as an extension of a song or record. There’s a twist at the end of the music video, and all the teasers allude to that. We’re also a sucker for theatrics so it was fun to build some suspense.

SMC – Where was your video for Memphis filmed? (actual location)

Bobby: The bulk of it was filmed at a warehouse in Keyport NJ. Then some other shots at apartments in Brooklyn and Jersey City.

SMC – Who was the creative team behind the video creation?

Bobby: You’re looking at it. We developed the concept and I directed the video. We worked with a good friend and really talented DP, Anthony from ANS Studios in Dumont, NJ.

SMC – Can you tell us what you have been doing career-wise from your last release to the new music released today?

Bobby: We’ve been working with a producer, Oliver Straus at Mission Sound in Brooklyn, on some music that we’re really excited about. We’ve also been making some changes to our live show to kick it up another notch.

SMC – I read in your (website) bio that you all possess a ‘give no shits’ attitude…can you embellish where that is applied?

Kenny: Ha ha. Yes, the “give no shits” attitude has to do with where we derive our musical influences, and apply them to our sound and live show. We all come from a very diverse background in music and sometimes applying that to your music can either result in a cluster fuck or in beautiful chaos. I think we’ve managed to implement all of that into our sound and live setting without being too critical on if we are “over doing it” or blending everything together perfectly.

Bobby: I just think we were giving away far too many shits in prior projects and we all felt it was time to keep our shits for ourselves.

SMC – I have seen that there has been much success for each of you individually prior to becoming Victory Dance. Can you tell us which experiences are most memorable for you and why?

Bobby: How much time do you have? There are a ton of war stories, but the first one that comes to mind for me is from a prior band Chris, Jay, and I were in. We played a festival in Philly with The Roots, and then they invited us to join them down in Birmingham, Alabama for an outdoor festival. We take the stage in 100+ degrees and like 7,000% humidity. Jay’s laptop wouldn’t work because of the heat, the sound guy blew our monitors on stage so we couldn’t hear anything, and the air was so thick we couldn’t breathe by the second song. But we were in front of a few thousand people and we did our thing. It was a real lesson in work ethic and definitely a standout moment.

Kenny:  Yes. In between touring/writing for Victory Dance I set out to release a solo record that tackled mental health issues, a subject in which I’m very passionate about. To my surprise an interview I did with Florida State University was picked up by USA Today and featured on their site. That was a memorable moment for me…

SMC – I saw in your One sheet that there is a fall tour scheduled….do you have any dates lined up yet?

Bobby: We could tell you but then we’d have to…you know. Follow us to stay tuned.

SMC – Will there be an album release in 2017?

Bobby – There won’t be a full album release, but we’re really excited to release a few singles through the rest of the year. No two are similar and we’re psyched for everyone to hear.

SMC – What do you think defines being truly successful in the music industry today?

Bobby: I think holding people’s attention is a measure of success in any industry today. In music, artists that keep fans engaged and interested for the long term are the successes.

Kenny: I think everyone’s definition of success is measured differently. For me success in the music industry is having my music heard, recognized and used as a therapeutic outlet for someone who may not have the ability to communicate their emotions to a doctor, but is able to allow my words and our music guide them through their life journeys. If I can have some monetary success out of being a musician as well…great. If not, it’s not the end of the world. If you have to remind yourself why you’re making music to begin with every single time then in my opinion you’re doing this all wrong.

SMC – You have been compared to Imagine Dragons and Jack White, yet I hear ‘Owl City’ – have you ever been told that before?

Kenny: Yes, I’ve heard Owl City mentioned a couple times, more recently though.

Bobby: Yea, we’ve been compared to some artists that are so vastly different it’s almost unsettling. Our EP the Spectrum was named that because it covered a wide range of sounds and human emotions. We have our faults, but no one has ever accused us of being a band where every song sounds the same.

SMC – What would you say is your signature style?

Bobby: It’s tough to come up with a definition of our style/sound. We’re best known for having a high energy show that’s more than just a list of our songs. You’ll have to come see for yourself!

SMC – Who does all the song-writing for your music?

Bobby: It’s a full band effort. Most of the lyrics come from Kenny, and the music often arranged by Jay and myself, but the entire band gets their hands dirty on every song.

SMC – What is the song-writing process like – which instruments do you create on?

Bobby: We have a pretty modern writing style in that we trade a lot of ideas through the computer. It’s a game of telephone a lot of the time where you send an idea out and it comes back completely different. It’s a fun unpredictable way of writing collaboratively.

SMC – What has been the greatest hurdle in getting ‘Victory Dance’ kickstarted?

Bobby: The man holding us down! Just kidding. The music industry landscape is always changing now, so navigating it is more complicated than ever. Luckily now we’ve aligned with the right team who have more foresight for that than we do. We’re lucky.

SMC – What has been your greatest triumph so far?

Bobby: One time at a show Kenny and I stopped everything and had a yoga competition to see who could hold a crow pose longer. I won…

SMC – What plans do you have for creative projects in the near future aside from music making?

Bobby: We’re getting tour dates locked down. We have videos coming along with our next few singles and so we’re developing those ideas and getting production rolling while we continue to write.

SMC – Are you involved in any charities or are there any causes that are close to your heart?

Kenny: I’m very passionate about suicide prevention and awareness. When I’m not with Victory Dance I’m usually participating in speaking events for mental health awareness. And Chris is also active with To Write Love on Her Arms which is a charity working on the same issues. And he’s also one of those dudes growing an awkward ‘stache for Movemeber, which is a focus on men’s health and prostate cancer.

Bobby: I’m largely focused on environmental issues. Any downtime from the band I’m working on sustainability efforts.

SMC – What is a deal breaker in terms of what you aren’t willing to do when it comes to the success of your career?

Bobby: We’d never kill a unicorn.

SMC – Ha Ha! Fair comment! What are your thoughts on the recent passing of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington? What do you think is the most important thing a Musician can do to gain balance in their lifestyle?

Bobby: We’ve lost so many beloved artists in the last year or so. These two were the biggest impact on me, and I think I can say for most of us in the band. Everyone’s situation is different and I don’t think there’s a blanket answer to finding balance. We hope that from the horror of these losses comes some awareness to the issue of suicide.

Kenny: Unfortunately, being in the music industry can be very brutal and impactful to one’s psyche. I think in order to sustain a healthy mental state, musicians need to prioritize allowing themselves to be with family more, and give themselves the opportunity to have personal time. The music industry sets standards that make it hard for an artist to have that work/life balance, and it really can affect the artist drastically as we’ve seen and are continuing to see. Music will always be here. Creativity will never die. Let’s take this one step at a time, stop going 100 miles/hr and getting lost in this vicious cycle.

SMC – What is a fond memory that sticks out in your mind that was the ‘AH HA’ moment when you knew you were destined for a career in music?

Bobby: I think there are ongoing moments that reinforce your passion. I’ve always liked provocative art. My first album I bought myself was ‘Doggystyle’. That exposed me to a world I didn’t know. Nirvana taught me how to lose inhibition. I saw Muse live and was simultaneously inspired and humbled.  And then there are the moments on stage where you connect with people. All these things keep us going. Plus, AI is going to rapidly put everyone out of jobs and for the first time in history music might actually be the safe career!

SMC – Which Social Media platform is your favorite?

Bobby: Instagram. Pretty sure that goes for all of us.

SMC – What is the most daring or badass move you’ve ever made in terms of your career?

Bobby: Hmm. Chris slept with a leprechaun. I’m not sure if it helped our career at all in the long run though.

Kenny: Joining Victory Dance after being known for being in post-hardcore bands ha-ha

SMC – Can you tell us about a memorable fan experience?

Bobby: We met a girl in Baltimore who fell in love with the band. She was so upset our next tour didn’t have a Baltimore date that she threw a party, booked the venue and had us come play the party on our off day.

SMC – Where are most of your fans located?

Bobby: We’re homegrown. We’re picked up many fans/friends along the way but the bulk is in NJ/NY.

SMC – Which country has been most supportive of your music?

Bobby: We’ve got some love out of Belgium I think, but US for sure.

SMC – Who would you like to ‘shout out’ or thank for being supportive of your careers?

Bobby: Thanks to everyone who’s been open to a band they hadn’t heard yet. Thanks to our families for support. Thanks to our Manager Stephanie Rachel for her unparalleled hustle. And thanks to SMC for your support!

SMC – How about family? Have you all gotten a lot of family support?

Bobby: Absolutely. A career in music is challenging for a family, but we have great ones who make that easier.

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us what career you would have all chosen if it weren’t a career in music?

Kenny: I would’ve gone into the veterinary industry. I love animals and that line of work.

Bobby: Well, Chris is a legit attorney. So, we are not a band to mess with! Jay has a degree in music composition and still writes for commercials so that’s an easy one. I’d probably be hanging with Elon Musk working on some bad ass tech to save the world. AreJay’s been in school for film so maybe he’d be a director, or maybe a spokesman for hair products.  

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Victory Dance Photo Courtesy: Victory Dance

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SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Sammy Brue ‘I Am Nice’ Exclusive Interview & Album Review

By Candice Anne Marshall

If I had to capture the kind of magic in a bottle that would equate to Ogden, Utah-based Singer/Songwriter Sammy Brue, it would go something like this: you can’t. There is only one Sammy Brue and the kind of magic he creates stirs the deepest of human emotions through intrinsically written lyrics and harmonies that you will never hear anywhere else. Even his very persona has a calm, casual presence offstage but turns into a guitar shredding flurry on stage completely unaware of the alluring effect he has on his audience. In that moment, it’s just the maestro and his guitar: all this – within minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I have carefully observed Brue on social media and he is extremely interactive with his fans, gracious with media, and completely down to earth even when performing alongside his idol Justin Townes Earle (son of music legend Steve Earle). In fact, I am confident that it is this very persona combined with exceptional talent that impressed Earle when Brue asked to ‘play a few songs for him’ at one of his shows. ‘We stayed in touch ever since,’ he said to me in a recent discussion. It’s things like this which lead to Brue win a recording deal with New West Entertainment, home of such Americana icons as Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle and John Hiatt.

This doesn’t surprise me, Earle being an exceptional Musician himself, would want to enlist exceptional talent for his ‘Kids In The Street’ tour. Brue has left enough of an impression on me that I am confident in saying: there will never be another like him. In fact, I am 100% confident he will go the full nine yards with his music career and I honestly don’t see that taking long either. He has already laid some serious touring tracks with Earle and has also appeared on his album ‘Single Mothers Absent Fathers‘. His penchant for bringing back a true ‘Americana’ sound through his music and live performances complete with his unique look sire true showmanship that is impossible to replicate.

I review and meet many people in the music industry but the last time I can recall ever spending more than three days researching an indie band or Artist this in-depth was Palaye Royale. My standards are high – It’s rare that I will spend more than a day researching a subject before their interview. However, with the kind of impression this young Artist has left already in the relatively short term of his career, it would be a disservice not to.

On June 16th, 2017, Brue released his debut album ‘I Am Nice’, a 12-track assortment of beautifully crafted songs that are guaranteed to blaze the trail for his future in the industry. The harmonies throughout are smooth – bringing me back to a time when the likes of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, and Elvis were blazing their own trails bringing the house down on the Ed Sullivan show and the Grand Ole Opry. The beats and guitar rhythms are unforgettable but it is truly Brue’s voice that is the unique element here – just when you think the first few beats of each song can’t get any better, enter the bewitching vocals of Sammy Brue. Yeah, that’s the kind of magic I am talking about.

Sammy Brue isn’t just a Musician, he’s an out of this world experience.

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Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

Exclusive Interview | Sammy Brue | July 2017

SMC – Hello Sammy and welcome to the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Spotlight! I have had a chance to research your background and I see so many impressive accomplishments in a relatively short period of time. Let’s begin with your most recent: touring with Justin Townes Earle – what was that experience like for you?

Sammy – Touring with Justin has been something I wanted to do for a long time. He has been a huge influence in my music and a constant support, so have this be my first tour was an honor.

SMC – Can you tell us what one of your best memories was while touring with Justin?

Sammy – Justin plays a lot bigger venue than I’m used to. So, I think being able to play those stages made a big impact on me. Also watching Justin handle his business was great. Learned a lot from him.

SMC – The connection with fellow artist Justin Townes Earle came after you played for him at one of his shows, correct? Can you tell us which songs you played for him and what his reaction/advice was to you after that?

Sammy – I remember him being pretty enthusiastic the first time I played him one of my songs. I think he was just stoked I was writing instead of doing covers like every other teenager on YouTube, but he also doesn’t hold back when he thinks I’m going in the wrong direction. I’m not sure what the first song I played for him was, but it was probably about Woody Guthrie.

SMC – Listening to your music is a genuinely moving experience – your songs are authentic and well written. Do you do all the writing of your music?

Sammy – Yeah, so far, I have had limited co-writing experience. My writing style is so abstract that writing with someone else is tricky. I do have some writing sessions in LA coming up so I hope I can pull it together.

SMC – Can you tell us how you can about the ‘theme’ of your album? Did the ‘theme’ come first or was it the songwriting that lead to the theme?

Sammy – I’m not sure there is a particular “theme” to the album other than I wanted it to sound like it was recorded in Muscle Shoals. It feels like we got that. We were choosing from about 25 songs that could go together. In the end, I wanted to have a mix of songs that weren’t all the same and showed a bit of diversity.

SMC – I found it really interesting to read in your bio that you gravitated to an acoustic guitar more than the electric guitar your father gifted to you. Can you tell us what you feel the acoustic has brought to your songwriting more than the electric guitar did?

Sammy – First, I’m not an acoustic snob. I love the electric and the legends that play them. There are about 5 different ones hanging in my studio that I use to write with. That being said, the acoustic guitar feels more honest to me. I can’t get away with as much on an acoustic so I have to really work hard for it. The sound it gives takes me to a different place artistically too. The hollow notes that won’t sustain make you work more.

SMC – I saw that you recently lopped off your locks for charity and you plan on continuing to do this. That’s very impressive – I have a true appreciation for people who aren’t afraid to change their personal image for the sake of humanity. Can you tell us which charity this was for and why it is dear to your heart?

Sammy – I donated my hair to Locks of Love through my mom’s salon she works at. They treat the hair and send it off to people free of charge when they donate. I just wanted to do something for someone else. I see a lot of people around that are going through chemotherapy and I just felt like as a human, I should do this. My grandmother Mary died of cancer long before I was around and it would have been cool if I could have done it for her, but I can’t. I did write the song “Once a Lover” for her though.

Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

SMC –  Let’s go back to your songs – they are very relationship based. Have you ever been told that you write from the perspective of someone, say, 20 or 30 years older than you? I am blown away!

Sammy – I’m influenced by the lives of the people around me. I really didn’t hang out with kids my age until just a little while ago, so most of the time I was around people 20 or 30 years older than me. Their stories are fascinating too. They’ve seen way more pain and struggles than I have. Reading about people like Woody or Leadbelly living in their time seems more interesting than 2017 where we contemplate what movie to go see, or where should we eat tonight. Watching someone go through a divorce or losing their job and home has more emotion to it.

SMC – I saw your live performance/Vlog on your YouTube channel for your performance at the Red Butte Garden Show. You seem to immerse yourself completely when you are performing live. Can you tell us what exactly you are feeling when you are performing live? You seem to be in a little bubble all your own and it’s rather impressive to see this!

Sammy – You have one shot to get through to a crowd when you play your songs. They feel if you are scared or don’t want to be there. This means you have to let it all out and get to your soul in your songs if you want them to feel it. I write these songs and they mean a lot to me so they deserve my best. It also hurts more when you put it out there and it’s rejected too. If I see people just talking or on their phones I feel like I didn’t do my job and I let those people and the song down. That’s the hard part. I know if I’m present or not during a performance and I’m my harshest critic. So, I try.

SMC – I am guessing that you are not shy about getting out in public and performing but which do you prefer more: recording and songwriting or being out on the road?

Sammy – It depends. Recording with incredible musicians and producers in Muscle Shoals is going to be tough to beat, but the right venue with the right crowd, it just becomes a spiritual experience. When you can feel their eyes on you and the only other thing is maybe the clink of glasses from the bar, and everyone is present, that touches my soul.

SMC – How did you win your recording deal with New West? I saw this in your bio and wondered if this was a contest thing or if it was a word of mouth thing….

Sammy – I don’t think “win” is the word I would use. I earned it by sacrificing everything to chase a dream. I had a goal written down for several years that I wanted a record deal before I turned 15 and was dedicated to it. I wrote the best songs I could and when I had the opportunity to play those songs, I didn’t waste it.

 

SMC – Which song off your new album ‘I Am Nice’ is your personal favorite and why?

Sammy – I don’t know that I have a favorite. I always gravitate to “Once a Lover” because it’s personal to me. It was for my grandmother. Going to be tough to beat that.

SMC – What comes easiest to you: the words or the melodies?

Sammy – Depends on the day and depends on the song.

SMC – Can you tell us what success means to you personally?

Sammy – Not really. I know that I’ve had success than a lot of artists in this business already, but I’m not ready to stop pushing for more ground. I get to make music and play all over the place for money. That’s a cool thing and sounds a lot like success.

SMC – What is a deal-breaker for you professionally?

Sammy – Making souls music just for profit. I want to make what feels like something to me. It has to move me in some way or another.

SMC – What brand of guitar is your go-to when songwriting?

Sammy – I’ve been playing guitars made by The Loar for years and have a nice collection now. The company has been so supportive for a long time and I love their instruments. I have a couple of Fender electrics too, but when I signed my record deal I went and bought a vintage Martin 00-18 that fits me like a glove. It just depends on the mood I’m in really.

SMC – What will you not part with and why?

Sammy – My very first Load guitar. I carried that thing around everywhere when I was starting out and had everyone I loved sign it. It hangs in the studio now so I don’t rub the signatures off. Justin was the first person I had sign it.

SMC – How do you feel you have evolved personally from your previous recordings to your latest?

Sammy – I’m more open to criticism about my songs and listening to other people’s ideas on how to improve them. Especially when it comes from some of the artists I’ve been able to work with.

SMC – What ‘sound’ do you gravitate to personally?

Sammy – Is Etta James a sound? Because that captivates me.

SMC – I saw that you grew up listening to the greats (I did too!) – What do you feel you have extracted from each in terms of cultivating your own sound?

Sammy – It’s authentic. Everything starts there and leads you to areas of possibilities. I was looking for Leadbelly videos and found Kurt Cobain. That’s why I start there.

Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

SMC – Can you tell us what your family’s thoughts are on your music career and how they have supported you along the way? Tell us about a memory that stands out for you….

Sammy – My dad is the one that taught me how to work hard and strategize a plan when it comes to music. He has done everything in his power to help me reach those goals too. He believes in me more than anyone and picks me up when I need it. My sisters and mom have sacrificed so much to help too. At one point, we sold our house and moved to Nashville to make this happen. Everyone believes in me and I can never repay them.

SMC – In terms of your peers/friends – I have read that you are a still a typical ‘teenager’ and enjoy things like video games and skateboarding. Have you been able to remain grounded and personable with your peers while still killing it in the career aspect of your life?

Sammy – I think one feeds the other. The more time with friends, the more life experience I get. The more success in music, the more fun me and my friends have. It’s a good balance.

SMC – What impresses you in the music industry?

Sammy – Artists that grind. When I see an Artist who has great songs and just can’t catch a break, but they keep going I love it. A lot of them don’t have a team of people helping out so they do their own booking and are their own manager. Those guys blow me away because of their love of it and dedication.

SMC – You were born in Oregon but now live in Utah – Where do you feel the music scene is strongest?

Sammy – Portland Oregon has had a great music scene for a long time now. Some of my favorite acts like Portugal The Man and The Shins live up there so I absolutely love it there. Utah just hasn’t had the light shining down on them like that. I’m pretty sure that will change pretty soon though. Too many good acts just in my home town of Ogden for it to stay hidden.

SMC – Can you tell us what the next 3-6 months look like for you in terms of your music and tour?

Sammy – Not really. I don’t get too involved in that. I just wait for them to tell me where we go next. I’m sure it will have a lot of writing and playing songs. I know I have Americana Fest coming up and a week in LA doing some co-writing too.

SMC – Are you already working on more music?

Sammy – I’m always working on new music. I think I have about 30 some songs to choose from for my next album already. There’s a lot of half written songs too. I can’t not write when I’m home or have time off.

SMC – How long did it take you to write ‘I Am Nice’?

Sammy – Well the first 2 songs that came out as single are “I’m Not Your Man” and “I Know” one of them was the second song I ever wrote and the other I wrote 2 weeks before we went in the studio.

SMC – You have a vast range of sounds on this album – in terms of a genre, which do you gravitate more to?

Sammy – It depends on the day. Sometimes I write something like “I Never Said” and then that afternoon I’ll be writing something like “Covered in Blood”. I don’t think I gravitate one way or the other. I did them both.

SMC – Who would you call your ‘go-to team’ in terms of production?

Sammy – I’ve only been produced by John Paul White (The Civil Wars) and Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes) so for now, they are my go-to guys. I can’t thank them enough.

SMC – Who is your go-to team for the creation of your videos?

Sammy – I’m always looking for creative video people.

SMC – Have you received radio play? Which stations would you like to give a shout-out to?

Sammy – I know that some of my songs are getting radio play, but I don’t know which ones or where unfortunately. Here in UT our local station KRCL has been spinning me so I thank them with all my heart.

SMC – We have many influential industry peers watching our site and sourcing out new Artists all the time. We have seen some seriously talented Artists receive radio play globally as a result of being discovered on our platform. Who can these peers reach out to for radio play?

Sammy – New West Records has done a great job with this. They handle all of that.

SMC – We would like to begin an SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series on you as we have with many of the Artists that we work with. This means we will chronologically follow along with your career in a documented series of interviews. Are you open to this?

Sammy – Sure. If you don’t get bored of me.

SMC – Okay, last question: Can you tell us where your focus is in terms of your career in the next year?

Sammy – I’m just going to tour this album and hope it does good enough to get me back to the studio for a follow-up. Thanks for the interview.

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SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Stephen David Brooks ‘Flytrap’ Director & Writer Exclusive Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

There’s a new King in town and he is known as Los Angeles-based Writer/Director/Special FX mastermind Stephen David Brooks. I mean this quite literally. After watching the 2-hour sci-for thriller ‘Flytrap‘, a film that was well received on the film festival circuit, I am convinced that Brooks is the next creative film genius of our time. I spoke at length with Brooks a few days ago about some of his upcoming projects, his views on the film industry and his time working with horror book Novelist Stephen King. This is truly one of the most unique individuals I have met thus far, and it is apparent in this most recent film – its script is inventive, dynamic in visuals, and strong in composition. It comes as no surprise to me either that King elected Brooks to be the screenplay writer for his film adaptation of the book ‘The Mangler’. This earned him a place on King’s short list of “King Approved” Screenwriters.

‘Flytrap’ is full of humorous, chilling, and edge-of-your-seat dramatic performances delivered by Jeremy Crutchley, Ina-Alice Kopp, complete with epic creepiness by ‘whistle blowing’ Jonah Blechman. Overall musical score is by Simon Boswell with dance sequence and end titles by The Tearaways which add a unique balance between paranoia (the synopsis) and normalcy. The film is directed by Brooks and produced by Tamara Sayiner (Ellen Degeneres Show) and is a true reflection of this sophisticated and audacious film prodigy. I can not even compare him to any other because there absolutely is no comparison – Brooks walks to the beat of his own unique drum and it is this that will make his films a truly memorable work of art.

You can catch the thriller on most major media platforms since it has already circulated the Film Festival scene throughout 2016 earning Brooks several prestigious awards. Stephens films have screened & won audience & Jury awards at: ECU The European Independent Film Festival, The Chelsea Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, Dances With Films, The Monaco Independent Film Festival, The Idyllwild Festival of Cinema, Ramsgate International Film & Television Festival, Festival du Film de Strasbourg, and The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

In speaking about future projects, the idea of SMC being involved in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ editorial came up and Brooks was all for it, ‘Do that for my next film, sounds fantastic!’ We look forward to continuing our journey by documenting his career through our SMC Spotlight series and we begin with our exclusive interview today.

Enjoy this Director’s reel below and ‘Flytrap’ preview, sit back, grab a coffee and enjoy. We guarantee this IS the beginnings of a genius at work!

By Candice Anne Marshall

SMC – Hello Stephen! Welcome to the SMC Spotlight! We were thrilled when our friend Mr. Mike Rogers connected us. This interview has been a long time coming and we are so excited to dig into the questions here. First, can you tell us what your connection is to Mike?

Stephen – Happy to be here. I met Mike through John Ferriter. Mike was playing some Tearaways songs on his Japanese radio show and had questions about film festival strategies and sales for his film Ghost Roads. So, John turned him on to me. 

SMC – Mike also informed me that you are a multi-award winner at some of the most prestigious film festivals! Can you tell us which was most memorable for you and why?

Stephen – I have four festivals that stand out, each with a unique set of wonderful memories. ECU The European Independent Film Festival in Paris, The Chelsea Film Festival in the heart of New York City, the F.A.S.H. festival in Los Angeles, and the charming Ramsgate International Film and Television Festival in Ramsgate UK. ECU screened my first feature HEADS N TAILZ so I have a special place in my heart for festival founder Scott Hillier and everyone there. That’s why I chose ECU to be the site for the World Premiere of my second feature film FLYTRAP. The people running it are top notch film lovers and are very supportive of independent filmmakers. Plus, the festival is in Paris in early April. Nice time to be in Paris!

SMC – Your credentials as a Director/Writer are astounding. I have read that you have also worked with Horror Novelist Stephen King – can you tell us how that came about?

Stephen – That was my first professional writing job. I was hired to adapt Stephen King’s short story THE MANGLER. And Stephen King had script approval. So…no pressure.

I had supervised Visual Effects for director Tobe Hooper. He and I had a great working relationship so when he and his producers obtained the rights to Stephen King’s short story he called me to see if I’d like to pitch him my take on the adaptation. Tobe loved my pitch and called Stephen King. Next morning, I get a call from Tobe informing me Stephen King loved the pitch as well. So, I was hired to write the first draft. Six months and 44 drafts later we were in Johannesburg South Africa shooting. I went along as the Screenwriter/2nd Unit Director/Visual Effects Supervisor.

Brooks (right) on the set of Stephen King’s ‘The Mangler’ with Ted Levine (left, Silence of the Lambs)
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC -What was your experience working with King like? Can you tell us of one that is most memorable?

Stephen – It was actually a dream working with him. He understands the psychological aspects of horror better than anyone. We went back and forth on dozens of drafts of the script until he gave it his stamp of approval. He’s a perfectionist but one who knows exactly what he wants. Brilliant mind.

The most memorable moment happened when Stephen King screened the film. The short story is 5 pages long so I had to add a lot of detail that needed to be Stephen Kingesque but wasn’t actually in the original work. As he was watching the film he kept asking “Was that me?” and oftentimes Tobe would say “No man. That was Brooks.” No higher complement than that. Stephen King couldn’t tell what I wrote from what he wrote.

SMC – You then went on to seek your own adventures in Directing and writing – can you tell us what kinds of themes and stories you gravitate toward most?

Stephen – I gravitate towards characters who are out of their depth, in a situation they couldn’t have imagined and when we first meet them, have no idea how to extricate themselves.  Then again, I think that’s the basis of all drama. That sense of being out of our depth and unsure how to proceed to make things right. We’re all imperfect creatures and exploring that imperfection through drama is how we discover who we are as human beings.

SMC – As a writer myself, I know that we writers are a very eclectic group and our imaginations are pretty intense at times – tell me, are you also an insomniac too? Most of us are…. if so, what keeps you up?

Stephen – I have never had insomnia. I can sleep anywhere. On a plane. On a train. In a moving car. And some of my best ideas have come to me in dreams.

SMC – You and I have tried so often to connect by phone to no avail – our schedules are intense! Can you tell us what project you are working on at present?

Stephen – Well I’m quite superstitious about announcing anything too soon. Waiting for all the pieces to be forced into place. Let’s just say one film is intended to be an iconic holiday classic, like LOVE, ACTUALLY and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. This film has a heart. A big heart. Another film will bring a beloved character back to the big screen. And another is the beginning of a Young Adult mega franchise…When I can say more I’ll let you know.

SMC – Before we get into discussion on your film ‘Flytrap’, can you tell us what it’s really like being among some of the world’s greatest screenwriters in Hollywood? Have you collaborated with any?

Stephen – I know some of those writing greats but have not collaborated with any of them. We screenwriters tend to be solo creatures.

SMC – Your bio on your website says that you have been ‘mentored by Oscar winners John Dykstra & Richard Edlund’ (Star Wars) – can you tell us what that experience was like and what the most important thing you absorbed in your experience being mentored by them?

Stephen – John Dykstra taught me to always have a backup plan for any specific shot or scene. He was so right! Things oftentimes go wrong during the intensity of production and having a ready backup plan has saved the day more than once.

Richard really taught me how to view dailies with a critical eye. That man sees absolutely everything. It’s astounding.

I also had a third mentor in my Visual Effects days…Harrison Ellenshaw. Harrison taught me another valuable lesson…one I have dubbed “The Harrison Ellenshaw Rule.” That is…everything will change. Go with the flow. Filmmaking is as much about reading the tea leaves as it is turning adversity into an advantage.

And in the end. IT. WILL. ALL. CHANGE. Sage advice.

SMC – What, in your opinion, makes a film ‘great’?

Stephen – For me it all comes from the characters. Do they have identifiable problems? Do they deal with those problems in a realistic way? Are the characters driving the story? Are there some larger more universal thematic issues being explored? Is the film well executed? If the answer to all those is “yes” then you probably have a great film. Ultimately, it’s the test of time. If we’re still watching a film 50 years later. It must be great.

Brooks speaking at the European Independent Film Festival
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – I see you have also shot music videos as well. Can you tell us which projects you have worked on past or present that are most memorable and why?

Stephen – Back in my Visual Effects days I worked on an Ozzie Osbourne video. “No More Tears.” That was a blast. Ozzie, what a character.

I directed a couple of videos for The Tearaways: ”Bash” and “Hello Isla Vista.” I loved capturing the exuberance of The Tearaways sound.

I’m now working with Rochelle Vincente Von K on a new video for her song “Deal Me In.” Rochelle is an Austrian Australian recording artist from London now based in LA. Very exciting stuff. We’re exploring an amplified cinematic visual style not usually seen in music videos.

SMC – What do you think makes your art stand out among the rest in your field?

Stephen – I’m just true to my point of view. I trust my gut. I have a very specific idea how the universe works and I use that as my guiding light when creating.

I don’t over think what I’m doing. Rather I feel my way through it. When I’m writing I can feel when a situation, or line of dialog is right. When directing Actors, I can feel when a moment is right. All I can say is…Everything I do is very “me” as those who know me well can attest. My sensibility. My sense of humor. My sense of irony.

SMC – Let’s get into your film ‘Flytrap’ – I watched the trailer on your website – wow! It’s intense! Can you tell us where you conceived the storyline for this film?

Stephen – FLYTRAP came to me like all my ideas…BOOM. There it is. A complete concept just pops into my brain. There’s no method to it. The initial idea is pure inspiration. Then I have to craft the idea into a story and a script. That’s where the hard work comes in.

SMC – As for the Actors in your film, can you tell us whose performance most blew you away in terms of final result?

Stephen – I had worked with Jeremy Crutchley before. He was in THE MANGLER. So, I knew he’d be great. Although Ina-Alice Kopp and I knew each other we hadn’t worked together. But having discussed another project at some length I had a good idea what she could do. And she did not disappoint!

Billy ‘Sly’ Williams and I have worked together on three films. He is my Robert DeNiro. So, I knew he’d knock it out of the park.

The big surprise was Jonah Blechman’s portrayal of Gilligan. I had met him once. I thought he seemed perfect for the role but I didn’t really see his genius until the first day of shooting. His look. The creepy whistle thing he did. He absolutely blew me away.

Brooks (left) with Ina Alice Kopp (right) at the ‘Flytrap’ World Premiere
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – Can you tell us where the public can see this film in the film festival circuit?

Stephen – We’re finished playing festivals. FLYTRAP is in wide distribution and can be seen on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Japan, Google Play, iTunes, and Fandango Now. And we recently sold the film to China so it will be available on various platforms there in the very near future.

SMC – Your bio states:

‘Stephen’s films have screened & won audience & Jury awards at: ECU The European Independent Film Festival, The Chelsea Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, Dances With Films, The Monaco Independent Film Festival, The Idyllwild Festival of Cinema, Ramsgate International Film & Television Festival, Festival du Film de Strasbourg, and The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.’

Can you tell us which award ceremony/win stands out to you the most and which film it was for?

Stephen – I hate to pick and choose. Every festival award is a gift and a special moment. But the win at The Chelsea Film Festival was quite memorable. It was the end of the ceremony and they had given out all the awards. FLYTRAP was nominated but didn’t win. Fine you can’t win them all. And as everybody got up to leave the theater the lovely Ingrid Jean-Baptiste, founder of the festival, steps up to the podium and announces there is one more award. And the Special Jury Prize goes to FLYTRAP. I was floored. What a great moment!

SMC – I also noted that there’s some ‘Tearaways’ music included in this film. As you are aware, we recently interviewed John Ferriter for our SMC Spotlight. Can you tell us of your connection to John and what projects you have worked on together?

Stephen – Well that’s no coincidence! I went to high school with Greg Brallier of The Tearaways. So, I see most of their Southern California gigs. I had also seen John Ferriter’s band The Stingrays back in the day. So when John re-joined The Tearaways John and I re-connected.

I needed 3 songs for the dance sequence in FLYTRAP. John said he’d send me the new Tearaways CD’s The Earle Mankey Sessions Volume IV and VII. I got the CD’s at 8 am the next morning. Played them and found two absolutely perfect songs on Volume VII: “Keep Your Knickers On,” “I Love The Blues,” and then on Volume IV I found “The Last Goodbye.” I mean it is as if they were written for the film. They were thematically and rhythmically perfect.

Then I discovered the song “I Love My Life” on the Volume IV CD and realized it is the perfect end titles music. Sometimes when it’s meant to be it just works out. And this was the perfect marriage of film and music.

SMC – What do you feel is the most important thing to be ‘equipped with’ in terms of pitching an idea/concept to potential investors for your art?

Stephen – Passion. Period. Yes, you have to know the structure of a pitch and you have to have a compelling story. But if you don’t go into the pitch absolutely convinced it will be the best film/tv show ever then you’ll get nowhere. And you have at most 30 seconds to make an impression. If you fail in the first thirty you won’t last the next couple of minutes.

SMC – I saw that you shot this film in California in a matter of only 12 days! In my personal opinion, some of the greatest films or projects that I have seen have been produced in a very short time-frame. What are your thoughts on this?

Stephen – There is something to be said for working fast. I think the energy level you create on set having to shoot 10-12 pages a day shows up on the screen. There’s an intensity there that translates.

SMC – Can you tell me who your ‘dream team’ is or who you would like them to be?

Stephen – John Ferriter, Jamie Angelise and Rana Joy Glickman…I’m already working with them!

SMC – What do you want to aspire to?

Stephen – I’d love to make a cinema classic. A CASABLANCA. Or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. A timeless story set against an epic struggle. Intimate and sweeping at the same time. I’ve got a few ideas…

SMC – Which of your other projects are you particularly fond of and why?

Stephen – My first feature HEADS N TAILZ stands out. I mean it was my first! And making a feature is infinitely more complicated than making a short. I’m very proud of that film. It did play festivals and win some awards. And there seems to be renewed interest in it…

I’m also proud of my short BINKY which I shot before FLYTRAP. It stars two of my actors from HEADS N TAILZ: Billy ‘Sly’ Williams and Lucy Jenner (Lucia Ballard). That film also won some awards including a Best Actress accolade for Lucia. BINKY is being distributed by Shorts.TV and can be seen online, via Amazon and iTunes as well as on select cable and satellite channels.

Last year I directed a short called IRIS. I didn’t write or cast the project which is a first for me. But it turned out really nicely. And has already won a Remi at Worldfest Houston. Other film festival screenings are in the future but we can’t announce anything specific just yet.

I recently directed a short called BURN BABY, BURN with the Irish sensation Emma Pyne. The film was an experiment in minimalism. Emma wrote it, produced it, and stars in it. I directed and shot it. No crew. We’ll be screening at a festival in LA this November…stay tuned.

Genius at work – Brooks on the set of his film ‘Headz n Tailz’
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – If you had a chance to do anything in your career over again, what would that be and why?

Stephen – I don’t dwell on the past. I learn from it. Learn from my mistakes then move on. I’m always moving forward. Never looking backward.

SMC – What do you measure success in the film industry by?

Stephen – There are two parts to my answer. First, how your work effects the audience. You can make them feel bad or make them feel good. Make them feel afraid or make them feel loved. I’d rather go for the positive emotional response. Have them walk out of the theater feeling better about themselves and their fellow human beings. That’s success to me on a creative level.

On a professional level, success it’s all about box-office. If you make the industry a lot of money then you will earn the clout to get more projects off the ground. That’s a win/win for me.

And I don’t think the professional and creative definitions of success are mutually exclusive. You can have both.

SMC – What is the greatest compliment you have received to date from an industry peer?

Stephen – “I want to work with people who know what they’re doing. Like you.” Producer Rana Joy Glickman September 17th, 2015

SMC –  Let’s go way back: what was the pivotal point in your youth which lead to or was a result of where you are today in the film industry?

Stephen – When I was very young my parents took me to a re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I had seen films and TV shows before, of course, but that film made me keenly aware that there is a vision behind what is on screen. I started to make movies, read about movies, and think about movies. It became my obsession.

SMC – Where do you think there are difference between the music and film industries? What do you think there are similarities?

Stephen – Both are tough but I think the music business is much harder. Touring is brutal. Much more exhausting than being on location shooting a movie.

Artists in both industries are judged by the amount of money they make for the business interests. In that sense, both are quite similar.

SMC – What is a ‘deal breaker’ for you?

Stephen – That’s an interesting question. Showbiz is a full contact sport. Everyone gets knocked around and kicked to the carpet from time to time. That’s business as usual. For me I’d have to say a personal attack on my team or an attempt to subvert the team would be a possible deal breaker. I’ve been personally attacked but have a heavy-duty Teflon skin. So it doesn’t bother me. But to try to attack or attempt to influence me by attacking a member of my team? That’s way over the line.

We live and die by our working and personal relationships. It’s all about teams and allies. You have to defend them to the bitter end even if it means walking away from a project. There will always be another opportunity. But there will never be another core team. A truly broken relationship can never be repaired.

SMC – What five things impress you (this can be in relation to anything and includes the film industry)?

Stephen- Loyalty. When a person chooses an individual relationship over personal or professional gain…to me that’s golden. And in my experience very, very rare. Relationships are permanent. Or at least they should be. Professional gain is temporary and fleeting. The personal capital of a relationship is worth more than all the gold in the world.

Unfettered intelligence. By that I mean someone who can always view a situation with an open and analytical mind. Think outside the box and find a unique understanding of a problem. Every day something (or many things) will go wrong and it takes an unusually agile mind to keep everything on track.

The ability to say: “I was wrong.” You’d be amazed how many people there are inside and outside of the industry who simply will never admit a mistake. They’ll deflect. Blame others or simply double down on the error. I do say to people when I first start working with them “I don’t care if you make a mistake. We all make mistakes. Just let me know when and what happened and let’s find a solution.” For me the cover up is always worse than the crime.

I am impressed with anyone who can take criticism at face value and not take it personally. There is nothing absolute in the creative world. There are an infinite number of ways to tell a story or define a moment. And all of us, writers, directors, producers, actors, and musicians need to be able to accept a note or a comment and not become defensive about it.

I’m impressed by superstars who stay grounded. Very easy to be a movie star or rock & roll icon and lose yourself and your sense of humanity. Easy to lose themselves in their public persona. I’ve met both those who can and cannot handle stardom. The ones who can are rare gems.

SMC – What is the most positive experience you have had in your career where you felt like it was an ‘Ah Ha’ moment?

Stephen – My first 2nd Unit Directing job on SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION. Usually 2nd Unit is just establishing shots of buildings, car drive-bys, shots that do not involve the principal actors. In the low budget world 2nd Unit also involves finishing scenes when the director has to move on to another location. Or shooting entire scenes when the schedule requires it.

This was my first opportunity to direct professional actors. And my first two actors where Academy Award Nominees…So, again, no pressure! I had to direct Melinda Dillon who was nominated for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and Brad Dourif who was nominated for ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.

First up was Melinda. She played a ghost-like character who came back from the dead. So, there was a supernatural element to the scene. I setup the shot. And we did Take 1. It didn’t work. So, I walk over to Melinda and made a suggestion. I don’t’ remember what I said. I walked back behind camera and did Take 2. It didn’t work either.

I remember the next moments very clearly. As I walked away from camera towards Melinda the world slowed down and I was hit with a horrible realization: This is my moment. I want to be a director and I can’t get a performance out of an Academy Award Nominated actress? What the hell am I going to do…?

Then just as I reached Melinda it hit me like a bolt of the blue. I said, “You’re the wicked witch of the West.” Her eyes lit up. I knew she got it. I hurried back to camera and called action. Take 3 was perfect. “Ah ha” I thought. I can do this…

SMC – We would definitely like to begin a well-documented and chronicled SMC Spotlight Numbered Series on your career journey – what are your thoughts on this?

Stephen – Let’s do it!

SMC – Okay, final question:

Can you tell us what the next 6-12 months look like for you in terms of wrapping up current projects and new ones?

Stephen – FLYTRAP is in the rear-view mirror so all my energy will be projected forward. I’ll be moving one of my film projects from the development to the production stage. I just don’t know which one yet…Such is showbiz…

SMC – Thank you Stephen!

Stephen – Thank you!

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