SMC SPOTLIGHT Interview | Actor: Mateus Ward is ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’

By Candice Anne Marshall

How do you begin a review of an Actor who, at the age of only 18 has surpassed any milestone that the average young adult has? I mean, we’re not talking about the first car, first girlfriend, first job, and graduation kind of milestones here either…this is something on a much grander scale…..

I am referring to the kind of milestones that only Los Angeles, California-based Actor Mateus Ward has come to achieve in his short, but very accomplished acting career thus far. In fact, his very persona reminds me of a middle-aged Johnny Cash: cool, confident, and bonafide talented without ever giving an air of pretension. I have observed him in interviews since the launch of the film ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ in the Film Festival circuit, (where he plays lead Actor) and without fail, he exudes these aforementioned traits. I have also read interviews where he has been referred to as ‘an old soul’ and his responses are concise, sometimes cheeky, and brimming with mature sophistication. Ward has also mentioned his early talent for Elvis impersonations (he loves Elvis) at a musical theater debut which later earned him scores of wicked television roles (see film and television credits below his social media links) and an impressive roster of film credits under his belt as well. He has often played dark characters and delivers them with the kind of graceful, undaunted candor that, in relation to the acting realm, I can only compare to a young Marlon Brando. In fact, looking further into Wards’ background, I would never have guessed that his portrayal of Clyde Thompson in ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ was that of a man half that age. (see my interview with his Father, Director of the film, Justin Ward here)

In this true-story film of convicted murderer Clyde Thompson, Ward manages to take this role from an innocent boy, to an aggressive and hostile young man, to a redeemed middle-aged man of faith seamlessly all in a matter of an intense 105-minute thrill-ride. The accuracy to which he portrays Thompsons’ character in this film is genuine in delivery and fiery in emotional display. Because his performance was so historically accurate to the original Clyde Thompson, Ward (recently) earned himself the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the IndieFEST Film awards in Florida. This doesn’t surprise me, in fact, I predict this to be the start of a successful string of awards to come. It does take a lot for young Hollywood to impress me since the days of Molly Ringwald and the ‘Brat Pack’(and even the original ‘rat pack’ for that matter), but Ward has earned the utmost respect from me for his ability to take this role at such a young age and make it undeniably twenty-four carat authentic. If you have any opportunity to attend a Film Festival where ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ is showing, make sure you are there!

So, here’s my summation of Mateus Ward: undeniably, for me, he has earned the right to be compared to the reputable likes of Johnny Cash (even arriving to premieres all in black) and Marlon Brando (that confidence!). Yet, even with all comparisons to music and Hollywood royalty aside, there really is only one Mateus Ward, and he really is that predominantly paramount, remarkably distinguished, and naturally skilled. AND – he will always dance to the beat of his own drum.  Period.

I connected recently with Ward for an exclusive interview for our SMC SPOTLIGHT. Here is what he had to say:

 

(l-r) ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ lead Actors Mateus Ward and Alexandra Bard Photo credit and courtesy of: Joshua Shultz | Bellus Magazine

SMC SPOTLIGHT Interview | Actor: Mateus Ward ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’

May 9th, 2017

SMC – Hello Mateus! Welcome to the SMC SPOTLIGHT! We have been profiling some of the industry’s top Actors, Musicians, and Fashion celebrity profiles for a couple years now and are happy to add you to this roster. Let’s begin with an introduction: we discovered you via our friend and peer Joshua Shultz (Bellus Magazine) who also Directed the short film ‘STROBE’ which you have a starring role in. What are your thoughts on how the film will have in terms of an impact on society?

Mateus – I believe that STROBE will shock people into realizing the collateral danger of hard drugs.

SMC – Do you think that this film could be an educational tool on the effects of drugs and how they impact people’s lives?

Mateus – Absolutely! I really think it will wake people up!

SMC – What was it like working with Joshua Shultz (Director | STROBE)?

Mateus – Josh is a great friend of mine! He’s a true artist in every sense of the word. Working with him was a true pleasure and such a blast.

SMC – Okay, so let’s get into your film credentials – your film reel roster is impressive! Which films/TV shows are/were your favorite to be a part of and why?

Mateus – I have so many amazing memories from all of these sets, I’ve created amazing friendships with people. Tyrel Jackson Williams (Lab Rats, Brockmire) and I still hang out, and I’m always in touch with my onscreen sister Quinn Shephard (Hostages, Blame) I’ve kept in touch with most of the people I have worked with, but if I had to chose, the two best work environments had to be “Murder in the First” and “The Meanest Man in Texas.” The cast and crew on each of them were like a family!

SMC – What is it like for you to prepare for a role? You go from being a meth addict in ‘STROBE’ to being a hardcore criminal in ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ to a Disney XD role on Lab Rats…. this has to involve some devoted time to studying for these kinds of roles and becoming the characters you are portraying. Tell us what your process is like when preparing for a role.

Mateus – I think each actor has their own process.  I like to start with research of the world or time period, then answer all the motivation and intention questions of the character and get to know them, then find their physicality.

SMC – Let’s get into your role as Clyde Thompson in The Meanest Man in Texas – can you tell us how you landed this?

Mateus – Pure nepotism! Just kidding, my father was offered to direct the film and I set out to prove to him and the producers I could play this part.  I read the book, studied the history, learned the accent, and eventually won the part.

**Spoiler Alert**

SMC – There are some pretty intense scenes in this film that I have to give you a ‘hat’s off’ nod to. For instance, the scene where you took a ‘whupping’ from ‘Captain Colt’ (played by Actor Jamie McShane) – wow! These are things that not very many youth today know anything about. How did you prepare mentally for that kind of a situation?

Mateus – I focus on the situation, and play it as real as I can.  For that scene, I honestly don’t remember much. I was just going through it.

SMC – In terms of the emotion portrayed in your character…. scenes like when Clyde is told his father has passed away, how do you prepare yourself for that kind of emotional expression? What frame of mind do you have to be in to get the emotions right?

Mateus – For me, as an actor, it always comes down to being in the moment. I tend to stay away from “tricks” or “substitutions.” That is not to say that I don’t use them. I think an actor needs to utilize whatever is necessary to convey a moment. I have always had an intense imagination, so putting myself in someone else’s shoes was always easy for me, once I’ve put in the work to know everything I can about a character.

SMC – Some of the scenes were played so well, I had actual tears! What are your thoughts on the story line and events that happened in the life of the real Clyde Thompson?

Mateus – It’s hard to believe all of these things actually happened to him.  His story is unreal in so many ways, I felt an obligation to play it all as real as I could.

SMC – The scene where your father (played by Ben Reed) comes to you and encourages you to have faith in God…your reaction to him was pretty intense! (‘There ain’t no God! There ain’t no word!’) Can you tell us what filming scenes like that were for you? Religion is such a controversy these days….

Mateus – When playing any character, no matter who they are, you have to throw out all of your pre-conceived notions and beliefs. I believe I really learned this while playing a school shooter on “Murder in the First.” There is a certain level of separation that has to be done before you can play a character truthfully. I personally am not religious, but Clyde was. This story is about Clyde’s redemption he so happened to find through faith. Therefore, it is my job as an actor to put all my personal opinions to rest, so Clyde’s could come out to play. I always find that once I do that, I fall in love with every character I play. In that particular scene, it’s all about where Clyde is, mentally, at that point. So, I guess, in short form, I just played what Clyde was going through.

(l-r) Justin Ward, MateusWard, JamieMcShane
Photo by: Ryan Gunnerson

SMC – I love the ‘Got a Light?’ smart-alec comebacks woven in throughout…. you have one of those faces that can portray an angelic innocent young man and then a devilish hell-child (laughs)…. which of the two personalities can you relate to more?

Mateus – Depends on the day…

SMC- (laughs) Fair comment! Your on-screen chemistry with ‘Julia’ (played by Alexandra Bard) was also intense. Can you tell us a few words about your thoughts on her performance in this film?

Mateus – She made it easy to have that chemistry.  She is an amazing actress and we had a blast on set.

SMC – I am going to ask the inevitable: what was it like working with your father on this project? (Justin Ward: Director of The Meanest Man in Texas)

Mateus – It was incredible! We read each other’s mind the whole time! He would go “Hey MC, how about—” and I’d reply, “I was just thinking that!”

SMC – On May 6th, you earned the award for ‘Best Actor’ at the ICFF (International Christian Film Festival) – That’s impressive! What are your thoughts on that?

Mateus – It is such an honor to be recognized for my work.

SMC – Can you tell us which other accomplishments in your career you are particularly proud of and why?

Mateus – Getting a chance to do what I love is the best accomplishment.

SMC – Can you tell us the most memorable fan moment you have had in your career?

Mateus – I was in New York on Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Hostages” and we took a family trip out to Mantauk.  I tweeted I was there, and on our way back that night, my sister saw a tweet from a fan, so she got her address and we paid a surprise visit.  Our families met and it was really cool.  Another great moment, was meeting young women with scoliosis in Nashville during the film festival.  These girls are so courageous and it was great to meet them and their mothers and hear their stories.

SMC – What are five unique things about you that no one else knows about? (our readers love this one)

Mateus – I am obsessed with Elvis.  I love to draw and paint.  I play piano.  I have a 1953 Chevy truck.  I am unhealthily addicted to superheroes and comic books.

SMC – I read that you have lived in Hawaii for a few years before pursuing a career in acting. Can you tell us what lead to your family’s move to LA?

Mateus – I like to believe it’s because I wanted to pursue acting, but I think it was during the recession, it was a tough time and we moved back where there was more work.

SMC – What inspired you to pursue a career in acting?

Mateus – I have always been a performer.  I was super shy, and it was a way to hide behind characters.  I didn’t even need an audience.  I just liked pretending and using my imagination.  I was a little Elvis impersonator at like 5, and I think that sparked the acting thing.

SMC – Which of your peers in the film have you created a bond with as a result of your character in the film?

Mateus – Alex and I have become close because of filming and on the festival circuit.  But the most entertaining friendship is the bizarre “Tron” inside joke between Anthony Guerino and I, who plays Barney in the film.  On set he suddenly approached me and asked, “Did someone say Tron?” It became a running joke.  Now we text each other with Tron mimes, gifs and jokes all the time.  He’s so funny!

SMC – Your whole family has such amazing talent! I did read about your sister as well – has she been involved in any of the projects you have worked on?

Mateus – It was a family production.  Our company is Ohana Films, Inc. Ohana means family in Hawaiian.

SMC – That’s lovely! What has the family support been like for your career?

Mateus – I honestly couldn’t have done what I have done without my family and their support.  My mother is the best.  She used to own a salon and stopped working to make sure I could follow my dream.

SMC – Can you tell us your thoughts on your father’s work on this film?

Mateus – He did alright… I mean for his first film.  Just kidding!  Who gets to act in a film their father directs?  It was incredible.  He was so prepared, had such a clear vision, and yet, since we didn’t have much time, he was able to improvise and shoot on the fly in order to make the days.  All the actors and crew respected him, and went the extra mile for him.  It was an amazing experience.

(l-r) Justin Ward, MateusWard
Photo Property of ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC – For an Actor so young, did you feel intimidated by this role at all? You did so well!

Mateus – Thank you! It was one of those things that I was always worried about. I wasn’t necessarily worried about doing it. I knew that once I put in the work, I could get there. I was mostly worried about how people would receive it. The title of the movie has the word “Man” in it! I knew it would cause shock and a lot of doubt from the audience before hand, but the way the movie is formatted I think it works very well. I have always been told I have an old soul, and to be honest, it was more challenging to play the young version of Clyde.

SMC – Have you had any personal experiences that have shaped you personally and prepared you for the kinds of roles you have been playing as of late?

Mateus – Let’s see an evil robot who shoots lazers and is telekinetic, a smart-ass son of a drug dealer, an actual drug dealer, a school shooter and a 40-year-old man convicted of three murders?  Hmmm… can’t really say I’ve had any of those personal experiences…

SMC -Ha ha ha – fair enough…. Where can the general public see The Meanest Man in Texas?

Mateus – We are still on the festival circuit.  But check out our social media, all #TheMeanestManInTexas for updates.

SMC – Have you been approached for other roles as a result of this film?

Mateus – Not that I can discuss…

SMC – What advice can you give to new Actors pursuing a career in Hollywood?

Mateus – Work, work, work! Study film, watch as many old and new programs as you can. Challenge yourself! Make sure it is truly what you love, because it’s not easy.

SMC – Since we are also a Music website – can you tell us who the top five Artists are in your favorites playlist?

Mateus – Jason Mraz, Chance the Rapper, Elvis Presley, Childish Gambino, and Panic! at the Disco

SMC – We would like to continue profiling you via our SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series. This is a documented chronological journey of our most celebrated Artists throughout their career. Is this something that would appeal to you?

Mateus – Sounds great!

SMC – Alright, final question…finish this sentence: If I didn’t pursue a career in Acting, I would be………

Mateus – I don’t know what I’d be if I weren’t an actor… I’ve never had a back up plan!

SMC – Thank you Mateus!

____________________

Actor Mateus Ward is ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ Photo by: Deborah Kolb

Mateus Wards’ Social Media links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Actor Mateus Ward at the Red Carpet Premiere in Los Angeles May 5th, 2017
Photo property of ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

Film and Television: Wards television credits include: Murder in the First, Hostages, NCIS, Disney XD’s Lab Rats, Weeds, Parenthood, Norn MacDonald Show, Outnumbered (Pilot), Criminal Minds, Pit Boss, and The Incredible Bean (Pilot). Film credits include: Lonely Boy, House Painting, The Afterlife, The Hall Monitor, Devil’s Eyes, Love in the Time of Flannel, STROBE, and now, The Meanest Man In Texas.

DIRECTOR: JUSTIN WARD ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ | Exclusive SMC SPOTLIGHT Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

Recently, we posted a SPOTLIGHT on Director Joshua Shultz for his short film ‘STROBE’ complete with an in-depth interview with he and his leading lady for the film, Chelsea Debo. In researching the background on other Actors in the film a little further, I discovered Los Angeles, California-based Actor Mateus Ward (see Mateus Wards’ in-depth SMC SPOTLIGHT interview/review here). His role as a meth addict in this film was so convincing, I decided I needed to know more about him. That’s when I stumbled across his Facebook Fan page and discovered he was cast as lead Actor in the upcoming film, ‘The Meanest Man in Texas‘(just hitting the Film Festival circuit now). This lead me down the rabbit hole and what I discovered was a kaleidoscope of magnificent talent and that talent has a name: Justin Ward.

Ward is the Director and genius behind this compelling film and it is evident in every detail that was portrayed historically and thematically. ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ is a true story account (set in the late 1920’s and onward) following the life of Clyde Thompson, who, at the age of 17 was convicted of murder (self-defense) and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Within hours of his inevitable fate, Texas Governor Ross Sterling reduced his sentence to life in prison. This began the true account story (title of the same name) written in the early 1980’s by Author Don Umphrey who compiled a detailed and documented account of what turned this young man into what the media would later label ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’.

Photo still of Actor Captain Colt played by Jamie McShane at the Prison Farm where Clyde Thompson was placed.
Photo by: Ryan Gunnerson

Aesthetically, this film scores high in my list of epic true-story cinematography: I have always been a fan of vintage films and the imagery, costumes, sets and final produced result of this film is exquisite. Lead Actors Mateus Ward (yes, he is Justin’s son, also, plays Clyde Thompson), and Alexandra Bard (Julia, Thompson’s love interest and savior) bring depth and emotion with conviction. I admit, I was a blubbering mess each time their on-screen relationship was tested with inevitable challenges and hurdles.

Actor Jamie McShane lends combustible energy to his role as Captain Colt. Now, I don’t want to give too many of the details away (you’ll just have to attend the Film Festival circuit to see what I mean!), but let’s just say that the friction between Wards’ and McShanes’ characters was on-the-seat-of-your-chair gripping, explosive, sometimes humorous, and compassionate. Characters throughout the film such as Ben Reed (Thompson’s grief-stricken Father), and Casey Bond (Preacher) lend depth to this already intense story. My hats’ off to Casting Director Laura Ward who, clearly, has a true penchant for recognizing strengths and weaknesses in each Actor and has suitably matched them for every role in this film – brilliant! A full list of the cast and crew for this film can be found (here).

There aren’t a lot of films anymore that motivate me to head to the theater and feel inspired by their stories and I am also not the kind of individual to watch even much television these days. For me to sit more than 10 minutes during any film, whether it be in the theater or in the comfort of my office or home, it must be compelling in its content, visuals, and supported by stellar performances. ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ is this complete package delivered by a ‘Rolls Royce’ caliber cast and crew. Having a Journalist background, I am drawn to factual-based films where accuracy portrayed in the overall details, visual, and acting is congruent to the time/era it takes place in. In my opinion, Justin Ward along with Producers Casey Bond and Brad Wilson (Higher Purpose Entertainment, in association with OHAHA FILMS, Inc.) have brought truth, humor, emotion, and enlightenment to this otherwise dark story that I am certain will inspire viewers to look beyond misfortune to know that there is always hope and the ability to achieve a positive outcome.

If you haven’t heard about this film yet or the cast and crew mentioned, I encourage you to check out the social media links after this interview and stay tapped in to find out when it will be available for public viewing and where. In the meantime, spend two minutes of your day and check out the trailer to this incredible film below.

And did I mention the films ‘Rolls Royce’ caliber?

You’re welcome.

Director Justin Ward Photo by: Joshua Shultz Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | DIRECTOR: JUSTIN WARD ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’

May 9th, 2017

SMC – Hello Justin! Welcome to the SMC SPOTLIGHT! We have begun expanding SMC into other areas of the arts such as the Film Industry. We are thrilled to be talking to you today about your new film ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’. Let’s begin first with some background questions…. can you tell us about your role in the making of this film?

JUSTIN: Thank you.  I am the director and co-writer of the film. 

SMC – Can you share your career background with us?

JUSTIN: I began my career working for Mick Jagger at Jagged Films, his film production company.  I went on to work as an assistant to the producers on several studio feature films, and was fortunate enough to work with and observe such producers and directors as Robert Redford, Norman Jewison, James L. Brooks, Richard Donner, Ron Shelton, Arnon Milchan, Joel Silver, and Grant Hill.  I developed a documentary sports series for extreme sports for ESPN, and produced and directed over 300 hours of programming from 1999-2005 on that network.  In 2006, I was the Showrunner on a magazine TV series called “Inside the UFC” for Spike TV. I also created and was the Showrunner of “The BJ Penn Show,” and in 2011, I created, directed and Executive Produced the documentary film series “Rock Stars” on National Geographic.  In 2015, I directed the award-winning syndicated farm-to-table series “Localicious.” I have also produced, directed and edited for The UFC, The USSA, The ParaOlympics, Nascar, Warner Bros. Marketing, CBS, NBC, FOX, The Travel Channel and the NFL.  This is my feature film directorial debut.

SMC – What lead you to this story about the life of Clyde Thompson aka: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’?

JUSTIN: Mateus Ward and I wrote an anti-bully film called REBEL in 2014, and I shot a teaser to help raise financing.  Brad Wilson, one of the producers of “The Meanest Man In Texas” read the script and saw my teaser.  He and his partner Casey Bond brought the project to me and asked me to direct it.  I worked with writer Don Umphrey on the script for a few months, then we jumped right into production.  It all happened very quickly.

SMC – Let’s get into the details of the film itself: how much of Clyde’s life story was accurate in this film? Sometimes in films, there is a true account of the biographical story and in others, it’s a ‘based on’ account….

JUSTIN: When I read the book, it was hard to believe any of this could have happened to one man!  I was blown away by this unbelievable story.  So, it wasn’t hard to stick to the truth—it was more dramatic and exciting than any fiction.  Don Umphrey had spent years talking to Clyde Thompson and others to get all the facts, and we felt it was important to stay as close as we could to his true story.  All the situations actually happened, and are true.  However, we flushed out a few characters that Clyde knew or mentioned, but didn’t give much detail about.  When I started on the script, I wanted to really explore more deeply Clyde and Julia and Clyde and Capt. Colt’s relationships. 

SMC – Can you tell us what the importance of telling this story though film was to you? How did it resonate with you personally?

JUSTIN: I was so moved by this story, I had to tell it.  There were so many themes that resonated with me in the story.  First, I think it is a powerful story about redemption.  That no matter how dark things get, there is always hope.  The other theme I wanted to explore is the idea of how a corrupt justice and penal system can change you.  Clyde went into prison a typical teenager, quite innocent in many ways, and soon gained the moniker “the Meanest Man In Texas.”  I wanted to make a film that asks the fundamental question: do circumstances define who we are, or can we become the person we want to be in life, no matter our circumstances?  Once I started re-writing the script, what really resonated with me in the true story was the unconditional love between Clyde and Julia, so I wanted to make sure we flush that element out more.  Society wants to put us in boxes, they try and label us, for example he’s “a killer” and she’s a “hunchback,” but this is a story about two people who didn’t accept those labels—in fact, they defied them—and loved each other unconditionally regardless of how society saw them.   So, for me, it became a powerful story about redemption, forgiveness and acceptance, and that was the film I wanted to make. 

(l-r) Justin Ward, Mateus Ward, Jamie McShane
Photo by: Ryan Gunnerson

SMC – I also see that Don Umphrey, the author who wrote ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ was involved in this project as well. Can you tell us how much of a benefit he was to have included in the making of this film?

JUSTIN: Don was a wealth of information. Having met and spoken with Clyde himself was a huge resource.  It took Don 39 years to get this story to the big screen.  I was very respectful when changing the script and ran everything by him, just to make sure it was historically correct.

SMC – Your Casting Director Laura Ward did an excellent job at assembling the Actor profiles for this film! Can you tell us a little bit about her background and what vision she had for the film also? (this could even be a question you could let her answer)

JUSTIN: Laura was amazing. Laura has a phenomenal eye and worked around the clock to find the best actors for every single role.  Every actor we cast was incredibly talented!  It was such a joy collaborating on this with my wife.  I knew we had little time for rehearsal with the actors, and most likely we would get no more than a couple of takes, so we were really looking at auditions and audition tapes where the actors were “performance ready,” with maybe a few adjustments.  

LAURA WARD:  It was really important for us to find actors that looked vintage, as if they were from that era.  We saw a lot of actors from popular shows, but it was important to find classic faces and great acting.  During the process, it was great to see how many actors came really prepared and embodied the character they were portraying.  I come from an acting background and have studied with some great teachers.  Being the mother of a young actor, and watching roles being put out on breakdown, cast and then filmed, I was able to use that experience in searching for our cast.  I was seeking actors who brought something special to each character.  I am so very proud of this cast!

SMC – In conversation with you, this past weekend you earned ‘Best Picture’ at the ICFF (International Christian Film Festival) Film Festival in Florida! What an accomplishment! What are your thoughts on this?

JUSTIN: It is such an honor to win a Best Picture award. The festival also gave Mateus Ward a Best Actor in a Feature Film award.  Brad Wilson, our producer, was in Orlando for ICFF, and said it was an extremely successful screening and festival. 

SMC – Tell us about your LA premiere? Can you tell us what some of the reactions to the film were?

JUSTIN: I was thrilled we were accepted to the Independent Filmmakers Showcase Film Festival in Beverly Hills.  It was great to show the film to our friends, family and industry peers.  The reaction was amazing, and many people stayed after the Q&A to continue to discuss the film, which was incredible.

SMC – The emotion that was expressed in this film was very intense and laced with some humor throughout (‘Got a light?’) – can you tell us if that was your personal touch to the film or if those were true accounts of the kinds of things the real Clyde would have said or done?

JUSTIN: I have to admit, the line “Got a light?” was my addition.  However, it was based on Clyde Thompson’s type of humor.  I like to think it was something he would have said.  I didn’t have much time, but I did my best to add humor and charm into the film where we could, since it was such a dark series of situations.  The casting director and I wanted to make sure that the actor Barney had a great sense of humor, and Anthony Guerino brought in a lot of awkward charm and humor to the role.

(l-r) Justin Ward, Mateus Ward
Photo Property of: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC – What are your thoughts on Mateus’s skill as an Actor in this film?

JUSTIN:  I can’t explain how extraordinary it was to work with my son on this project.  I may be biased, but I believe he is one of the most talented actors of his generation.  The fact that he’s won 3 lead actor awards for this film, backs up my belief.  I don’t know any 17-year-old that could pull off what he did in this film, let alone many actors of any age.  Not only did he lose 17 pounds for the role, research for months, reached out to the family, but he also learned a very difficult accent and certain cadence, aged himself up physically and vocally, and carried the film.  The role required so much emotional, mental and physical range, and he nailed it.  I am extremely proud of his work on this film. 

SMC – I discovered your film through an industry peer – Joshua Shultz (Bellus Magazine, Director: STROBE), can you tell us what your connection with Joshua is?

JUSTIN: We met Joshua through an article he was doing on Mateus back in 2013.  We have all kept in touch, and Joshua asked Mateus to be in his anti-drug film STROBE.

SMC – With the SMC SPOTLIGHT, we have begun a ‘Spotlight numbered series’ with some of our high-profile clients and would like to continue following your journey and career. Is this something that would interest you?

JUSTIN: Yes.  Of course.  We would love to be a part of the Spotlight Numbered Series. 

SMC – What do you think is the value in having the support of media platforms such as SMC?

JUSTIN: SMC is such a great publication, with incredible talent and interesting interviews, I am honored to be included.  I think there is huge value in SMC sharing indie films to their audience.  Our goal as filmmakers is to make films so people can see them, and we are able to reach new audiences through publications like SMC.

SMC – Can you tell us which industry peers have been most supportive of your film? Who would you like to give a ‘shout out’ to?

JUSTIN: The success of the film is a culmination of everyone who worked on, acted in and helped support this film.  First, the executive producers Don Umphrey and Marshall Danby, have been incredible to work with on this project.  I have to thank the Producers Brad Wilson and Casey Bond, who hired me.  My wife Laura, son Mateus, and daughter Adiana for their constant support.  Shirley Roberts and Clyde Echols are members of the family who helped fill in the gaps.   It was my first film, so I reached out to a few people in the industry for advice, like Ralph Bertelle VP of Production at Paramount, Greg Berry an incredible art director and production designer, and Clenet Verdi-Rose a director and 1st AD.  So many people were so supportive, I’m sure I have missed some, but I am humbled by so much support by people like Dennis Lavalle, Eric Swanson, Andrew Morgado, PJ Ochelan and Joshua Shultz.

(l-r) Mateus Ward, Isabella Acres
Photo Property of: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC – What are some of the projects you have coming up? Are you able to share that info with our readers?

JUSTIN: I have a couple of projects that I am trying to package right now, a feature film and a music documentary.  Mateus and I are also seeking financing on the anti-bully film we wrote together called REBEL.

SMC – Will you be including Mateus in on more future projects?

JUSTIN: This was such an incredible experience for both of us, we hope to continue to work on projects together.

SMC – Pardon my ignorance, but I have never asked this question before: what is the process of getting a film completed? Can you give us a play by play from first concept to final output?

JUSTIN: Basically, it’s like bearing a child.  For this film, we had a short window of pre-production which included budgeting, scheduling, re-writes, finding locations, casting and wardrobe.  Production was 11 days.  Post production included 4 weeks of editing, color, mixing and final output. 

SMC – You had mentioned to me that this film took only 11days to complete – wow! That’s some intense shooting! Can you tell us what a typical day would be like on set from start to finish?

JUSTIN: Having only 11 days meant everyone had to be extremely prepared.  I had every shot, every angle, every beat planed out.  Then, when we got pressed for time, I had to throw away the game plan, and in the moment, create a way to get the scene shot in just one shot, with no coverage.  This happened several times a day.  The cast and crew all had to adapt and be fluid, because I refused to throw out scenes, I threw out set ups and coverage instead.  We made every day.  I couldn’t have done it without my first Assistant Director and the Cinematographer Will Barratt, or with a different cast and crew.

SMC – Can you tell us what the next several weeks and months look like in terms of Film Festivals and promotion of this film?

JUSTIN: As of now, we are waiting on a couple more film festivals, and just trying to create some buzz and get people excited about the film.

SMC – I have to say that I was pretty impressed by the portrayal Alexandra Bard gave of Julia in this film. Can you tell us what working with Alexandra was like?

JUSTIN: Alex walked into the audition and had morphed herself into Julia.  I remember after she left, I asked the casting director for her headshot, thinking I found my Julia.  When she handed me Alexandra’s headshot, it was a glamor shot of this gorgeous woman, I said, “No, the one who JUST auditioned.”  Alex is one of the actresses every director dreams to cast.  She was 100% committed to the role, did her homework, transformed herself for the role, never complained, took direction, and gave a stellar performance that has left audiences in tears.  We lucked out that she walked through the door that day.  I knew from her first audition she was our Julia.

Alexandra Bard (Julia)
Photo by: Deborah Kolb

SMC – Some of the other Actors in the film had some pretty stellar skills presented in the film also. Ben Reed, who played Clyde’s Father was compelling! Jamie McShane as Captain Colt – that was also intense! How do you feel about the skills that these two gentlemen portrayed?

JUSTIN: I am proud of every actor in this film.  We assembled some amazingly talented actors, and they all stepped up and delivered strong performances.  I cannot say enough about Jamie McShane.  In New York, he won Best Supporting Actor at the Film Festival, and deserves many more awards for his performance.  Jamie was a pleasure to work with and he stepped in and accepted this part late in the game.  He didn’t have much time to prepare.   He was so respectful of the script and my vision, yet brought so much to the role. We had some incredible discussions about Capt. Colt and his journey. Besides being a great actor, he is an extraordinary human being.  Great example of the kind of actor / person he is, Jamie arrived on day 1, and it was over 100 degrees outside.  Hotter inside the Morgue.  Jamie shows up with 2 huge cases of water on his shoulders, and passes them out to the crew.  Then stepped in, and delivered that performance that left us all mesmerized. 

SMC – At the end of shooting, and it’s time to attend Film Festivals, do you feel like the cast has become a family? I mean, this is a story about a young man whose life was changed forever but there were key people along the way that helped to bring him to this epiphany in life…. surely this is the kind of thing that would connect people.

JUSTIN: Yes.  Well, some of the cast and crew are actually family.  Seriously, there is a certain connection with people when you make a film.  This team was especially special.  We were fortunate that the entire cast and crew were all really great people, besides being so talented.  It made an impossible task fun, and everyone has been so supportive during the festival circuit.  We have all gotten very close. 

Still from ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ with Cast
Photo property of: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’
Provided by: Justin Ward

SMC – Can you tell us all the film Festivals that ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’ has been a part of and which are coming up?

JUSTIN:  We have been accepted to 7 film festivals, including the Nashville Film Festival, The New York City International Film Festival, The Beverly Hills Film Festival, IndieFEST, The International Christian Film Festival, The Los Angeles Cinefest of Hollywood, and The Independent Filmmakers Showcase Film Festival.

SMC – What accomplishments overall can you list for us that the film has earned so far?

JUSTIN: It has been accepted to 7 festivals, with over 20 nominations and 10 wins, including a Best Picture. 

SMC – Where will the general public be able to see this film?

JUSTIN: We are still on the film festival circuit, but check our social media for any updates on distribution.

SMC – How can one of our readers reach out to find out where they can see this film?

JUSTIN: Follow us on social media for more information and updates:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

SMC – Finish this sentence: If I was not pursuing my career in Film, I would have been a……

JUSTIN: Theater Director… or a scuba or kayak instructor.

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us what your thoughts are on the future of film and the role independent films play?

JUSTIN: I think studio films play a great role as pure entertainment, but it is the indie films that filmmakers have a voice.  Films such as “Mean Streets,” “Momento,” “Resevoir Dogs,” “Precious,” and “Moonlight,”  are all independent films and have very unique cinematic voices.   I think Indie films are essential to the industry, it is where stories like this can be told.

SMMC – We couldn’t agree more Justin! Fabulous work!

_____________________

Film poster for: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’ Photo provided by: Justin Ward Property of: ‘The Meanest Man In Texas’

The Meanest Man In Texas Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

FKB | SPOTLIGHT interview Series No.1 ‘Bright Lights’

By Candice Anne Marshall

Have you ever had that one song that just plays on repeat and you just can’t seem to get it out of your head? When I am talking about Alberta’s own FKB, and their new single ‘Bright Lights’, I am not referring to the kind of song you want to get out of your head. I am talking about a song you spontaneously hear on a gloomy Monday afternoon whilst crunching numbers (mindlessly) that, upon first listen, it gets your toe tapping and you grinning like an idiot to your coworkers for the remainder of the day. Yes indeed, you have just heard the greatest song to come across your ears and that, dear readers, is unforgettable.

‘Bright Lights’ is a single written by FKB and produced by Grammy Award Winning Producer and Musician Clayton Bellamy (The Road Hammers, Clayton Bellamy Band). The band has worked with Bellamy on their previous album ‘123 FKB’, known for their song ‘Crystal Ball’ which was well received across the Canadian radio circuit. It’s no wonder that they would come out of the barn gates kicking it up a notch once again with ‘Bright Lights’, a catchy tune produced in true Bellamy style: unforgettable. The vocals on this single come across with meaningful intention and the instrumentation is fun, vibrant, and on point. It has been a while since I have heard a song like this (for me, Dan Davidson’s ‘Found’ is another favorite, also co-written by Bellamy) and I am certain that this is the ground work for a very successful album coming in the near future.

There’s no doubt about it, this is a band whose long tenure on the music scene and perseverance has caught the attention of our SMC SPOTLIGHT team. We will begin running a Spotlight Numbered Series on this band as we follow them on their career journey and will be anticipating more in the near future! So what are you all doing still reading this? Get this song on your iPod now! Hurry!

Just remember, you heard ‘Bright Lights’ here first.

You’re welcome.

FKB *EXCLUSIVE* Interview | SPOTLIGHT Series No. 1 ‘Bright Lights’ May 5th, 2017

SMC – Hello Gentlemen! We are so thrilled to have connected with you via our industry peer Mr. Bill Miller (Sharp 9 Music). We have worked on several SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series with Mr. Dan Davidson over the last couple years since launching himself into a solo Country music career and it seems everyone associated with Bill and Dan are super talented! Can you tell us how your connection came about in the music industry? (aside from your passion for creating it of course!)

FKB – Hello Candice! Thank you we are extremely excited that you gave us the opportunity to be in the SMC Spotlight! Our connections in the music industry largely come from Clayton Bellamy. We met him many years ago when we were playing at a car show in Bonnyville, Alberta and we began to work with him regularly. We met Dan through a songwriter’s event in Edmonton this summer and we had Clayton as a mutual friend. We met Bill this spring through both Clayton and Dan who both recommended working with him.

SMC – That’s fantastic! I was able to connect with Clayton and The Road Hammers in 2007 when they performed at Grizfest Music Festival in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. To what extent is Clayton’s involvement in your projects?

FKB – Clayton has been the producer of all our work so far. He co-wrote and produced our first EP 123 FKB and produced our new single “Bright Lights” as well as a few other songs that are yet to be released. He’s been a tremendous help in getting the sound and vibe we want and making sure everything we do sounds as good as it possibly can.

SMC – Who can all the songwriting be attributed to for the ‘123 FKB’ album (released March 28, 2014)?

FKB – All the songs on that EP were written by Drew Shalka, Derek Chalut, Zach Fontaine, Zack Moon, and Clayton Bellamy.

SMC – Can you tell us how you gentlemen came together? I am more curious about the back story on how your interests collaborated in the early days of FKB…

FKB – We initially came together in high school back in 2009 because of a desire to play Beatles and Beach Boys music. We essentially found everyone we could who was interested in playing that kind of music who was our age and began to book shows all over the local area. We would also often listen to old 30s and 40s music like Fats Waller on our way to shows so it was a slightly unusual high school rock band.

SMC – I read on your website that the band has been together for eight years now. I find that most of the bands that stay together are the ones that go through everything that is possible to break them up and yet, they get past that eight-year mark and that’s when the real magic begins. My friends The Standstills are a perfect example of this…. what are your thoughts on the ups and downs of the band?

FKB – There were definitely some serious ups and downs over the years. I have found things were the easiest in the early days before there’s any sort of actual business in place. Once things started getting serious and we began to start writing and releasing our own music as well as doing more shows, which was around the three-year mark, we began to have some issues that nearly broke up the band but we managed to work through and come out stronger than ever. We have even had a few instances where we’ve had members leave and sometimes it seems like that could be the end but each time we have managed to find the exact right people to take their place and move forward as a unit. I would say after getting through everything though it takes a lot more to shake us up than ever before.

SMC – You can certainly hear a different vibe with your newest single ‘Bright Lights’ in comparison to your earlier work. Can you tell us how you have evolved as musicians in terms of your actual sound and image?

FKB – A lot of the new vibe comes from different music we’re listening to at the time of writing and recording the songs. With the previous EP, we were listening to a lot of Kings of Leon and Green Day and had planned to make a kind of retro record with the backing tracks recorded mostly live off the floor. To accompany that we also had a bit of a more 70s rocker kind of look. Over the years, we have been listening to different styles of music and our songwriting began to take on more of a pop/rock style. After recording the last EP, we began listening to a lot of the music that was coming out and we loved how diverse and exciting it was. These were albums like Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox and Down With Webster’s Time to Win Volumes I and II. The big things we took away from those albums were the diverse sounds on Unorthodox Jukebox and the fun party atmosphere on the Down With Webster albums. We began incorporating these into our live shows first and then when it came time to make the new songs we began using more synth and keyboards and playing with the sounds on Logic and Cubase to really change things up. The image progressed to reflect the changes in the music.

SMC – What do you think are some of the biggest challenges in the music industry today?

FKB – The biggest challenge at this point would have to be breaking through to audiences. With the number of bands and artists these days it is often easy to get lost in the crowd especially online. Another big challenge is finding places to play live music and get through to audiences in person especially with the number of artists all needing to use the same venues in a lot of places.

SMC – A lot of bands choose to remain ‘indie’ – can you tell us if your ultimate goal is to become signed to a label or to remain indie?

FKB – That is a difficult question. Our ultimate goal is largely independent of whether or not we are signed a label. Our main goal is to reach as many people as possible and if there was a situation where a label could help us achieve that and we felt they could provide us with a benefit, then we would likely sign to them. However, if we can continue to build and reach more and more people on our own then that would be fine with us as well.

SMC – I saw that you are touring this summer too! Can you tell us where those locations are and with whom?

FKB – The current announced dates are:

5/18 – Edmonton, AB @ The Sewing Machine Factory

5/19 – Fernie, BC @ Northern Bar and Stage

5/20 – Trail, BC @ Arlington Bar and Grill

5/21 – Winlaw, BC @ Mama Sita’s

5/27 – Vancouver, BC @ The Roxy

6/2 – Creston, BC @ Jimmy’s Pub

6/3 – Nelson, BC @ The Royal

6/8 – Beaumont, AB @ Live City

7/6 – Waterton, AB @ Thirsty Bear Social House

7/7 – Canmore, AB @ The Drake

7/8 – Canmore, AB @ The Drake

7/14 – Revelstoke, BC @ The Last Drop Pub

8/2 – Saskatoon, SK @ Buds on Broadway

8/3 – Saskatoon, SK @ Buds on Broadway

8/4 – Lloydminster, SK @ The Root

8/10 – Thunder Bay, ON @ The Foundry

8/11 – Sault Ste. Marie, ON @ Loplop’s

8/17 – New York, NY @ Silvana

8/18 – Buffalo, NY @ Nietzche’s

8/22 – Cleveland, OH @ Wilbert’s

8/24 – Chicago, IL @ Moe’s Tavern

We’re mostly touring independently but at some select shows we are playing with: For Tonight, Guests, Naeem Gabriel, The Sophisticrats, West Hammock, and Poor Little Tin Man. There’s also a few unannounced that should be quite exciting as well!

SMC – Can you tell us what is one cool fact about each of you that no one else knows? (fans love this one)

FKB –

Drew: Has a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from the University of Alberta.

Travis: Has a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from the University of Alberta.

Derek: Has been playing drums since he was four.

Alex: Once hosted a hit Ukrainian Christmas special on a radio station in Vegreville, Alberta.

SMC – What are your thoughts on the support in the music industry in Canada as opposed to other countries in the world like the USA or the UK?

FKB – We’re not too familiar with the support in a lot of other countries but Canada seems to come together around Canadian performers and really try and help everyone grow together. There’s so many great organizations like FACTOR, AFFTA, Alberta Music, Sask Music, CBC Music, Canadian Music Week and so many others that help Canadian artists develop their careers and bring their music to the world stage. This summer will our be first international tour and a lot of it is possible with the help of other Canadian musicians and publications like SMC!

SMC – How do you feel Canadian Songwriters have a better advantage over, say, our American peers?

FKB – Not that familiar with what is available in the US but there is so much support in Canada for Canadian music and lyrics that helps songwriters reach people. Again, there is so many organizations that help songwriters network and create music like the Songwriter’s Association of Canada, FACTOR, and SOCAN that help songwriters work and get paid for their work. There is also a tighter network of performers and songwriters as well than is initially apparent in Canada.

SMC – You have been voted as one of the top 100 ‘Campus Bands’ by CBC. Can you tell us what exactly that means and what it means to you?

FKB – That was very special to us because at that time especially our fan base was a lot smaller than it is today so for that to have happened it took a lot of support from people who liked our music and they rallied around us to get us to that point. That was for a CBC Music competition where fans could vote for their bands who have members at university campuses across Canada. There were thousands of bands that entered and our fans helped bring us to the top 100 which meant a lot to us.

SMC – What is the biggest compliment you have received as a band or individually?

FKB – There have been a few examples that stick out in our minds. A sound man at The Roxy in Vancouver told us our show “was epic” after our performance and that was cool because they have so many awesome bands come through there. Another more recent one was a band who booked us as a feature act at a jam night told us we were no longer a band and that we have become “an act” meaning our show had become more than just music. That was a big compliment because they had booked us before and had seen us a few months earlier. Clayton Bellamy also wrote about us on his Facebook saying that he has loved watching us grow as a band and called us as hard working as anybody in the business. That was big because we have worked with him for such a long time and he is an extremely hard working person himself.

SMC – Which kinds of genre peers do you each connect to in terms of building and networking?

FKB – We actually have close ties to a lot of musicians in genres outside of our own so they’re not really genre specific. We have a lot of connections with country artists like Dan and Clayton. We also talk a lot with some pop artists as well. Closer to our genre we have connections with some other bands within Edmonton and a few from Saskatoon, Lloydminster, and Vancouver as well. The styles of those bands even range a lot from Metal to Alternative and Indie. We also have some connections to a lot of people involved with the industry in other ways like producers, and other writers.

SMC – What has become the most vital thing for you as a band to portray via social media?

FKB – Consistency would be the most vital thing at this point. Making sure that we are putting across the same image on all the platforms and putting out content as regularly as necessary to let people know what we are up to. At this point we want people to get a sense of who we are and portray a positive and fun image through our social media. Because it is an important way for fans to keep in touch with us and up to date on where we are playing and when we are releasing new music we want to keep people engaged and with an accurate expectation of what we are doing.

SMC – What has been the best advice you have received over the years in terms of building your success as a band?

FKB – Just keep working hard and get out in front of people. That combined with putting egos at the door and working together towards whatever goal we’re trying to accomplish. Combined that advice has been a huge help to us over the years especially with remaining as objective as possible towards making decisions.

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us which media platforms (radio aside) that have been most supportive of your music?

FKB – There has been a lot of support over the years in print media especially in the early years when we were starting out the newspapers were always helpful in doing profiles on the band and writing about us at events we were playing. Another big one from the start has always been social media. Facebook is still where most of our fans interact with us and has been our home base from the very beginning. YouTube has also been supportive especially recently we made a few cover videos of some songs we were into and some of them actually did quite well and turned out to gain thousands of views.

SMC – That’s wonderful! Well, thank you gentlemen and we look forward to hosting you on the SMC SPOTLIGHT! in years to come!

__________________

FKB Social Media Links (click to view)

Website
Facebook
Soundcloud
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube

BIOGRAPHY

FKB formed in 2009 out of a mutual love of fun music and the classic artists of the 50s and 60s. They’ve toured Canada and shared the stage with The Trews, The Road Hammers, and Dan Davidson. Their dedication to creating a fast and exciting rock show attracted the attention of Clayton Bellamy (The Road Hammers) who produced their debut EP, 123 FKB and their newest single “Bright Lights”.

For interviews or promotional materials contact Drew at [email protected] or by phone at 780-573-3329

Radio Promo: Bill Miller – [email protected]

For all press materials visit http://fkbmusic.ca/press

Joshua Shultz | Director ‘STROBE’

By Candice Anne Marshall

A few short weeks ago, I connected with industry peer Joshua Shultz (Bellus Magazine CEO in Los Angeles, CA) and found out that he was completing the final touches on his first ever short film ‘STROBE’. Shultz has been featured previously on our Spotlight and an in-depth interview discussing the project and it is finally here and ready to launch publicly into major film festivals globally. The film will be visible to the public shortly for a limited time, and then will be submitted privately into film festivals. I was fortunate enough to be privy to a private viewing of the film recently.

Here is my summation:

STROBE is a thrill ride from start to finish. Los Angeles-based Director Joshua Shultz (CEO Bellus Magazine) has accomplished a film that is exquisite in composition, compelling in its theme, with powerful performances by lead Actors’ Chelsea Debo and her love interest, Charan Andreas (Selena Gomez video). Actor Mateus Ward brings this dynamic film to its climax with a combustible bang that will leave viewers craving more. Undoubtedly, Shultz’s first short film is the beginnings of a ‘Tarantino-Luhrmann’ style union that exceeds all film industry expectations in terms of quality and substance. If you know of anyone struggling with DRUG ADDICTION, or are wanting to catch a glimpse of just how it affects the lives of those around them, This is the film to see in 2017!”

We recently were able to connect with Shultz for an in-depth interview following our private viewing of the film. Here’s what he had to say:

Interview | ‘STROBE’ Director: Joshua Shultz – May 2017

SMC – Hello Joshua! Congrats on the production of your first film ‘Strobe’! Let’s begin first by chatting a little about your career – I know that you are the CEO of your own magazine ‘Bellus’ and I am curious what lead to this journey in directing a film?

JS – Since I was a kid I have had the dream about directing movies.  I used to build mini movie sets in the back yard with my brother.  We also practiced stunts.  We would watch movies over and over and study them. 

SMC – This is a very intrinsic and intense film. There are areas in it where the viewer can connect to human emotion, and then parts of the film focus on the ugly side of drug addiction. I saw that the film was dedicated to ‘Shane Drellen’ – is this a true story account?

JS – Thank you.  When I decided to make this short film, I wanted it to feel as real as possible.  Every character is based on someone in real life I know.  I was working hard to get someone close to me off drugs.  He had already almost died a few times.  I didn’t want to give up on him.  So, I was trying anything I knew.  I noticed that when I tried to convince him not to harm his body, he didn’t care.  He said it was his body and he can do what he wants with it.  But when he noticed his grandma emotionally hurt in a major way and crying, this touched him on a much deeper level.  He then started making major life changes that ended up saving his life.  I thought this was so fascinating.  I wanted to make a film showing a dramatic scenario of how drugs can destroy lives in more than one way.  Shane was a friend of mine and a few other members of the cast and crew who happen to pass away because of drugs.  After I had shot the film I showed him some of the scenes.  I had become close to him and so decided to dedicate it to him. 

SMC – Who is the creative team behind the film?

JS – I directed it and came up with the idea.  A talented film maker named Sandu Negrea helped me write.  The lead actors are, Chelsea Debo, Charan Andreas, Sammi Hanratty and Mateus Ward.  DP was Jake Isham.  Composer was Emmy award winner Ali Helnwein, colorist was Tyler Fagerstrom and many other incredible team members.  I believe you are only as great as your team.  I got lucky that I had the dream team.  I will list full credits in the film. 

SMC – Who wrote the script?

JS – Sandu Negrea and myself. 

SMC – When choosing your actors, what specifically were you looking for in a type=cast role?

JS – I cast people I knew that where the most like the character or who I knew could nail it as the role.  Every actor in this film blew me away. 

**Spoiler Alert**

SMC – Chelsea Debo plays such a key role in this film where she is the one who saves a life and inevitably is sacrificed by having her life taken. How do you feel she performed in this role?

JS – This was the first time I had worked with her in a narrative.  We are friends and I had seen her work and we worked together on a music video.  She met with me, asked a lot of questions and got really prepped.  She showed up to set and was very easy to work with and once I yelled action, she became the character and blew me away.   

SMC – What made you decide to choose such a powerful subject for your first film?

JS – I know several people who have had their life destroyed or passed away because of drugs.  So, I wanted to make a film that maybe would inspire someone to not destroy their life and take a much happier path.   

SMC – You had mentioned to me that ‘Strobe’ will be submitted for a film festival – can you tell us which one(s)?

JS – We’ll all the major ones and several smaller ones.  I am waiting for the sound to be done by the magazine Rob Felios and then it goes out to the world.   

SMC – You have been interviewed/reviewed by The Huffington Post and NBC prior to submitting your film – what were those experiences like?

JS – Amazing.  I am madly in love with film making and I am very passionate about helping people get off drugs and life a happier life.  Getting to share my story on a platform where I can get my communication out to many people is amazing.   

SMC -What has the support in the industry been like for your endeavor?

JS – You know occasionally you meet the crazies.  But for the most part I had had the great pleasure of meeting other film makers who are just as obsessed in making beautiful films as me.  So, we end up having fun making our films.   

SMC – Can you tell me exactly what kind of overall feel you were going for in this film?

JS – I wanted it to have a real and surreal look and feel.  I wanted to take you on a journey and create an emotional response  

SMC – How soon will the general public be able to see this film?

JS – In about 2 weeks I will release it for a limited time.  Then it will become private and I will submit to film festivals worldwide for the next year.   

SMC – Did you create this film with the thought that it could be used as an educational tool for youth in schools?

JS – I did not.  It might be a little too edgy for that ha-ha!

SMC – What is the intent behind this film – do you think the intensity in the film will affect society in some way?

JS – I hope that anyone who watches it, thinks about how their actions affect not just themselves but friends and family as well.  Maybe that will help them make decisions that are based off the greatest good for them and the people in their life.   

SMC – What are your thoughts on drug use in society today?

JS – I think it’s kind of a waste.  I have met people who are nervous or sad or whatever and so they take something not to feel.  But life should be lived.  You should feel love, excitement, fear, grief, interest, lust and enthusiasm.  Just like when I watch a movie and you have to work hard to overcome great barriers, once you do the reward is so much greater.  If you spend your whole life trying not to feel anything, then life to me becomes boring and pointless.  I say live life fully.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Ask out that girl or guy that you are sacred to ask out.  Push yourself to new levels and you will feel levels of happiness you didn’t know existed before!  I don’t think you can truly feel life if you are drugged up all the time or even worse if you are addicted and it is controlling your life and you are on your way to death.  Fuck that.  Go on the adventure called life!!

SMC – Do you think ‘Strobe’ has the power to educate and perhaps influence societies decisions on drug use?

JS – I mean, I hope so!  Even if it changes one life for the better it would have been worth it. 

SMC – Are you thinking about doing a full-length movie for this film that will fill the viewer into the story behind ‘Strobe’ a little more in-depth?

JS – No.  Just a short film.  But my next film is a full movie. 

SMC – Ohhhh exciting! Is this in the near future?

JS – Yes.  Working on my first full movie called Karma. 

SMC – When did the concept for ‘Strobe’ come to you?

JS – Jan 2016.

SMC – What was behind the name of the film – why ‘Strobe’?

JS – A Strobe is a flash of light.  Comes and goes and comes and goes.  To me drugs can take a life in a flash.  Also, we have a strobe in the first party scene and the lead actor has Epilepsy so he has to wear glasses when he is near Strobes.   

SMC – Do you think that the kinds of projects that an Artist/Director such as yourself works on define or is a reflection of yourself?

JS – Maybe.  So far, this film and the next one are based on real life situations I have seen or been through.  I feel like I can make a better film if I have real life experience. 

SMC – How long did it take to film this project from start to finish?

JS – Over a year.  Mainly because I had to juggle my other paid projects while making this passion project.   

SMC – What is the sequence of events behind making a film like this in terms of the production process?

JS – Write the concept.  Get a producer.  Figure out all the stuff you need to make the film.  Cast it.  Shoot it.  Do all the post production until the film Is where you want it to be. 

SMC – This had an almost Quentin Tarantino vibe to it in terms of shock value – you actually see the lead male in this film (Debo’s boyfriend) almost overdose in a park right beside her while she is off in la la land. That’s intense! What are your thoughts on my comparison?

JS – I wanted to have a scene where you are forced to confront an uncomfortable situation and sort of live it with the actors and have no edit.  Just one long take so you go through it just like he does.  Also, to be compared to a great director like Tarantino is amazing!

SMC – Can you tell us where you see yourself in the next few years in terms of all your projects in the film and magazine industry? What is your overall goal?

JS – I would love to have made a number of successful films that I love and the magazine being one of the major sources of information in the US.   

SMC – We are going to be launching this feature on our new SMC SPOTLIGHT! Along with our interview with Chelsea Debo, your lead Actress for the film, what are your thoughts on that?

JS – FUCK yes!  Love this publication and I am honored to be a part of it.   

SMC – What do you look for in terms of quality in your projects?

JS – Realism.  Also, beauty.  I want to be taking on a journey and forget that I am watching a movie.   

SMC – What does success mean to you?

JS – Having goals and achieving them.   

SMC – Can you tell us what a day in the life was like during the filming of ‘Strobe’?

JS – I didn’t sleep for 4 days shooting it.  It’s like going to war.  You make a plan.  You organize the troops and then you execute it and at the end you hope you have an incredible film.   

SMC – Final question: Can you tell us five things about yourself that others may not know about you?

JS – My favorite place is the beach, I grew up around motorcycles, I learned how to do most hats in film making, I got into Directing when I turned 30 and I love random adventures.

SMC – Thank you Joshua! We look forward to sharing this with our readers!

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Joshua Shultz Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Joshua Shultz Media Facebook

Bellus Magazine Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

Chelsea Debo | Actress: ‘Strobe’

Photography by Joshua Shultz

Interview | By Candice Anne Marshall

SMC – Hello Chelsea! Welcome to Starlight Music Chronicles! (SMC) I recently was privy to viewing the film ‘Strobe’ directed by Joshua Schultz – before we get into questions about the film, can you give us a little bit of a background on yourself?

CD – HI GUYS! Thanks for having me! I am 1 of 6 children and I’m from Toledo, Ohio but I had been living in LA for the past 6 – 7 years. I am currently living in Dublin, Ireland but will return to LA in August. I have a dog named Chicken and I love taking baths. There’s a little bit about me, for now 😉

SMC – Can you tell us what it was that attracted you to this role?

CD – First of all, I love Josh, the director. His photos are great, but I can’t wait for the world to see his filmmaking… he really is phenomenal. Charlie, the character I played in Strobe immediately stuck out to me because I felt close to her. I have plenty of stories from LA parties where I felt uncomfortable but made impulsive decisions to go on wild adventures with people I barely knew. She is easily swayed and was infatuated with Steve, who she met that night. Drugs have affected my life immensely over the years and I have lost many great friends due to drugs. If I can help to shed a little light on how terrible this can be, count me in.

SMC – How did you find out about this film?

CD – I found out about this through Josh. He called me and explained the project and we chatted for a while about it, and I said yes. Sandu Negrea was also producing this and he and I have worked on many projects together so I knew things would run smoothly. 

SMC – What was the filming process like for you? Can you tell us what a day in the life would be like during the filming of ‘Strobe’?

CD – The filming process was amazing. It was a group of friends who were making a meaningful film with no money, which were all very skilled at. We knew it was going to be hard but we’d pull through, and we did! The days were long and often went into night but it was never stressful because I had my pals around me. Explaining a day in the life of filming Strobe is tricky, as all the days were so different!

SMC – Tell us what you think about the kind of influence this film will have as an educational tool for society today?

CD – I just hope this film touches some hearts and maybe we can all be a little more open with each other about how harmful drugs can be. I hope people are influenced a bit by our work and maybe they’ll think about how many people can be affected by their actions. For the most part, I hope people know they can ask for help from loved ones.    

SMC – Can you tell us which films you have been a part of and which ones are most memorable to you and why?

CD – They’re all memorable for different reasons! Ah! I filmed Stefan & Christy over the course of 6 years with people who I now consider family. You’ll be able to see that in festivals this year. That was a roller coaster and a half but through this film I really got to explore what acting meant to me. I got “the itch” as they say, and I haven’t really stopped since. I just wrapped a short film called HEN which was an all female cast of 5 girls here in Ireland. The writer and director were also women. It was so refreshing working with that many girls. We rehearsed for months so when we finally got to filming we were all so comfortable with each other that it never felt like work. It was all play. I’m really excited to see the final product. We had 3 night shoots in a row in the middle of nowhere in the country in a town called Sligo. We filmed in a glass house on the sea. It’s a psychological horror about a HEN, or bachelorette party, gone wrong.   

SMC – There is an element of ‘romance’ to this film – do you think this will detract from the films purpose: to show society the dangers of drug use?

CD – Hmmm. I don’t think it’ll detract from the purpose… I hope it’s just another thing for the audience to connect with. 

SMC – I believe your role in this film is a powerful one – what do you think?

CD – I believe it is powerful as well. Charlie is a fairly typical girl in LA, or anywhere really. She’s easy to connect with. She goes through a lot in a short amount of time and… well a lot happens to her. I don’t want to give too much away so I guess everyone will have to just wait and see!!!  

SMC – Can you tell me what the team was like to work with?

CD – Like I said, they were magic. I love Sandu like a brother and Josh is one of my best friends. The entire crew was so lovely. No one complained about shooting late or waiting for rain to pass for a shot. The styling was amazing. I couldn’t even think of one mediocre thing to say about this production. I love them all.   

SMC – Can you tell me what it was like working with Joshua Shultz?

CD – I JUST LOVE HIM.

SMC – Did you have to audition for the role?

CD – I didn’t have to audition for this one, no.   

SMC – What are the previous projects that you have worked with Joshua on?

CD – Josh has helped me with tons of audition tapes in the past and we’ve done quite a few photo shoots together. We also did a music video together a couple years ago but this was our first film together.

SMC – Can you tell us what your own personal connection to this film is?

CD – My personal connection would be a heavy one dealing with the many beautiful friends I’ve lost to drugs over the years.

SMC – What other projects do you have coming up?

CD – I am doing a romantic comedy called “The Man Who Loved Women” which starts filming in June in LA. It’s very raunchy and very real and I’m so excited to get started on it!!  

SMC – What does success mean to you?

CD – Oh man. Success means not having to work a part time job and living wherever I want but still working and playing enough to feel like I’m progressing? I don’t know! This is HARD! Success is…finishing the script I’ve been writing for over 6 months!

SMC – I have heard from many who have tried to make it in Hollywood say that it is a very tough industry to get into, can you tell me what your take is on that?

CD – Just keep pushing. Don’t wait on other people to help you. Make your own art and just keep on living. Something will happen eventually. Make art with friends.  

SMC – This interview will be posted on our new SMC SPOTLIGHT! Website – we are excited to launch this in May. Can you tell us what your thoughts are on that?

CD – I’m so excited! I hope I’m not too awkward!

SMC – Do you plan on attending a launch party for ‘Strobe’?

CD – If I’m in town, yes of course!  

**Spoiler Alert**

SMC – In terms of the film and the roles – what is your connection to the young man who was robbing the convenience store?

CD – He’s my brother

SMC – What was the one thing about the script that made you want to accept this role in the film?

CD – I’ve never played the nice innocent girl.

SMC – Are you living in Los Angeles? If so, what is the competitive atmosphere there like?

CD – Kind of. I’m back and forth between Dublin and LA. It’s competitive but I don’t really look at it like that because I was there for so long. There are a lot of people making things at once and just join the force and keep creating.  

SMC – Can you tell us five things about yourself that others don’t know about you?

CD – I was a synchronized swimmer for many years as a kid. I can move only my pinkie toe on my left foot, but not my right. I am married. I have 2 tattoos. One of my brother’s middle names is Ignatius. I don’t eat meat. I’m not a great cook and I really hate doing the dishes. I love picnics and laying in the park all day long.

SMC – I saw on your website in the portfolio section that you are being compared to a ‘Modern Day Twiggy’ – how do you feel you compare to the 1960’2 iconic model and how do you feel you differentiate?

CD – I really don’t feel like I’m that much like Twiggy at all. She is a singer, which I promise you I am NOT. She’s also English, which I am not. I guess you could say we have a similar style only because I enjoy vintage clothing. She had short blonde hair and I have that now, but I’d say that’s the only connection.

SMC – What do you feel are the similarities and differences between modelling and acting?

CD – Modelling is extremely internal because you keep a lot of emotions in. Acting is extremely external in the way that you’re emoting what’s going on in your head. Acting requires a lot of thinking, where acting doesn’t necessarily have to. You can be whatever (physically, mentally, etc.) the role requires for acting, but modelling requires you to be quite small to fit into sample sizes.  I don’t know, I have a lot of respect for both but they really are very different.

SMC – What is your film/category preference when choosing a role for yourself? Do you gravitate toward dramatic or stories that are factual based?

CD – I personally love watching stories that are factually based in my own time but I haven’t gotten to play anything bases on a true story yet. I gravitate towards drama but I am definitely exploring comedy lately.  

SMC – Have you ever had a bizarre or interesting story from a film set?

CD – I once had a scene with Woody Harrelson for a film called ‘Rampart’. It was my first role and it certainly was interesting.   

SMC – Have you ever had any fan experiences that stick out in your mind?

CD – I get strange messages from bored middle aged men (I really wish that would stop) but that’s about it so far. I worked with a makeup artist who cut her hair after the first day of filming because she was inspired after seeing mine. That was really cool 🙂  

SMC- What is the best compliment you have ever received?

CD – “You look like Charlize Theron”

SMC – Are there any awards of recognition as an Actor that you have received that you are proud of?

CD – Not yet!  

SMC -Okay, final question – Is there any advice you can give to new Actors to the Film Industry that could help them in some way or even give them heads up about what they can expect?

CD – Study and make stuff with friends… prolific, I know.

Thank you Chelsea!

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Chelsea Debo’s Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Instagram

Twitter

Lia Cole | April 2017 SMC Artist of the Month!

SMC Interview | Lia Cole Artist of the Month April 2017

By Candice Anne Marshall

SMC – Hello Lia! We are thrilled to host you as our Official Artist of the Month winner on our site! Where were you when you first heard you had won the competition?

LC – Thank you, I am so excited to be a part of this!! I am so thankful for the support I got from my fans. I was at school when I found out and was so excited I could barley focus 😉

SMC – Can you tell us what your thoughts are on being in the running now for Artist of the Year in June 2017?

LC – Having the opportunity to work with ArtistMax, Ken Caillat from Fleetwood Mac and his daughter, Grammy Award Winning Colbie Caillat would be such a dream come true. Thank you for this cool opportunity to work towards artist of the year.

SMC – What are your thoughts on your close call with Soap Box Duo (Also from Edmonton)?

LC – They are incredible musicians and it was an honor to be in the running with them!

SMC – We have interviewed you last year when you released your single ‘You Lost Me’ and since, so much has happened for you in your music career! Can you tell us about your accomplishments since October 2016?

LC – It’s only been a few months but I’ve been really focused on building my fan base on social media and planning some exciting shows for the year. I also did a really cool showcase at the Needle with Paul Woida. We premiered our mashup video, and thanks to all my fans and friends, my videos have gotten over 200,000 online views since October!

SMC – We saw that you are also doing some amazing work with a few others in the industry such as Paul Woida and Toxsic. Can you tell us about those projects?

LC – I love collaborations. Edmonton has so many talented artist and any chance I get to work with them is an incredible opportunity. I worked with Toxsic over a year ago with one of the songs “Lucky’ off my first Ep produced by Hands Up music. Dan Davidson, Kayla Patrick, Toxic and I co wrote the song as part of a really cool song-writing workshop at The Audio Department. It was such a cool experience and I learned so much from all of them! Paul Woida so inspiring and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

SMC – You and Paul (Woida) seem to have such a magical music connection, can you tell us if you will be working on more future duets with him?

LC – Paul is honestly like my big bro!! I look up to him a lot and I learn so much from him. I co-write with him as often as I can.

SMC – What are your biggest goals for your music career?

LC – My biggest goal would be selling out Madison Square Garden. But right now, I am focused on building my fan base, creating the best show possible and writing music that means something to me. I want to be able to connect with my fans, and I believe that connecting with my own lyrics and focusing on my music is the best way I can do that.

SMC – Can you define what success means to you in terms of your career?

LC – For me success is being able to do what I love everyday of my life. Music is in my blood and if I can be able to play music everyday, touch people’s hearts with my songs and make a living… that is true success for me.

SMC – We have seen that you play acoustic guitar in some of your Facebook Live videos. Have you always created your new music on the guitar or is there any other instruments that you play?

LC – When I write, I start with the guitar. Once I find a chord progression I like I will start coming up with lyrics. I mainly stick to my guitar but I also move to the piano if I’m looking for a different vibe! I dabble on the drums a little bit as well, just enough to do a sick drum solo in my Madison Square Garden concert!

SMC – What are your thoughts on being in the running for Artist of the Year with only one other female?

LC – Girl Power! To be honest it I don’t even really think about that, I think great music is great music and I’m just happy for the opportunity to be in that mix of talented artists.

SMC – What do you feel is the benefit that Artists receive when they run for competitions like our Artist of the Month?

LC – I think that artists work very hard to do what they love, and to be acknowledged for that is an incredible feeling. It’s important to me as well to expand my audience base and get my music out to as many new people as possible. Artist of the Month has been an incredible platform for doing that, so thank you once again.

SMC – What is your favorite song off your EP?

LC – What Does She Do! It is so fun to perform and the lyrics really hit home. I love when silly boys give me great reasons to write great songs 🙂

SMC – Can you tell us what kind of feedback you have received when your EP launched in terms of your peers, music industry in general and your fans?

LC – There was so much positive feedback, from St. Albert all the way out to Nashville. Of course, a lot of my fans and friends were curious about the name change from my real name to my stage name, Lia Cole, but at the end of the day, they realize that’s it’s still just me, doing my thing and making the best music I can. And now that they’re used to it, they LOVE the new stage name.

SMC – What is your favorite venue to perform at in Edmonton?

LC – I absolutely love the Needle!! They’ve been so supportive of my showcases and music video shoots, and super easy to work with.  Plus, the food is amazing! I love the atmosphere in there and everyone is there for the love of music. I also love turning different type of venues into really cool showcase opportunities, places where you might not necessarily think you would see a live show there. I’m planning something like this for my summer showcase, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more about that!

SMC – What has been the Radio response to your music? Have you already been granted Radio Play?

LC – I’ve been focused on online releases. I want to be able to release music and videos to my fans as much as possible, and social media has been such an awesome medium for doing that. Once my new record is produced this year, I’ll be looking a bit harder at marketing grants so I can really focus on radio tracking properly. I want to make sure I’m taking the right steps, at the right time.

SMC – Who is responsible for the production of the music videos you have created? They are brilliant!

LC – I work with PlanIt Sound! They are a local marketing agency helping me with my overall branding and creative direction as an artist. They specialize in audio branding and high quality video production, and the videos they’ve produced for me have been getting so much traction and great feedback online. I love working with them, it is so much fun.

SMC – What is the biggest compliment you have been given in terms of your music or performances?

LC – When I was in Nashville I had the opportunity to meet and sing for the head publisher at Universal Music. She told me that I have what it takes to make it. That was one of the most exciting moments of my life!

SMC – Do you have any tours lined up for 2017?

LC – I’ll be headlining my own summer showcase with special guests in August. We’ve also got a huge concert announcement and even bigger tour announcement coming very soon 🙂

SMC – What has the family support been like for your career so far?

LC – They have always been there for me since day one and I am so thankful for them and everything they do for me! Sometimes when we’re sitting at home, they don’t care to hear my new songs because they hear me sing ALL THE TIME in the house. I have to remind myself when that happens that they might not want to hear me sing every second of the day, but only my family will be there for me at the beginning of the show, and the end of the show, helping me setup and tear down. I can count on them no matter what happens, and that means everything to me.

SMC – Have you had any negative experiences with the Music Industry at all?

LC – No negative experiences at all from the music industry, but there are always “negative nellies” on social media. I just feel like when you do something worth looking at, you’re gonna have people saying negative things. So, I’m proud to say that yes, I have had a few negative comments on social media already!

SMC – What have been the most positive experiences with the music industry to date?

LC – The most positive one would have been meeting the head publisher at Universal Music! She gave me amazing feed back and really made me feel like if I work hard enough I can achieve anything!

SMC – In terms of media platforms, which ones would you like to give a shout out to for supporting your music?

LC – CTV, Global, CITY TV, CJSR, Nait Radio, Dinner Television, St. Albert Gazette and of course Starlight Music Chronicles 😉

SMC – Are there any organizations or charities you have plans to work with in the near future?

LC – I wrote and performed the theme song for the Glenrose’s Courage Gala campaign video again this year, and will be performing for their 800-guest sold out crowd on April 21. I’ve also been a top 5 artists for the My United Way Voice contest, a singing competition that helps fight poverty in our region, and I plan to submit for this year again as well.

SMC – We LOVE your new EP – which is your favorite song on it and why?

LC – What Does She Do – see above answer

SMC – What do you hope to inspire the next generation of Musicians/Artists with through your Music Journey?

LC – I just want them to know that if music is their passion then never stop. Follow your heart and work hard! Anything is possible. Dream big, and be anything you want to be 😉

SMC – We are affiliated (Media Ambassadors) for ArtistMax in Los Angeles. Have you had a chance to check out what that is all about yet? Our winning Artist of the Year will be awarded with a VIP Scholarship to the organizations three-day weekend which is a mentorship program hosted by award winning Producer Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac), and his daughter, Grammy Award WINNING Colbie Caillat.

LC – Yes! It would be a dream come true to have an opportunity like this, and I’m so excited and grateful. Thank you!

SMC – Final Question: Do you feel you are at an advantage winning AOM so close to our Artist of the Year event in June? If so, why?

LC – I hope so, I’ll take any advantage I can get! It might be an advantage to be top of mind so close to the June event, but I think it will come down to great music and who’s fans step up to the plate to support. At the end of the day, I’m honoured to be in the mix of these talented artists.

SMC – Thank you Lia! We look forward to seeing you in the running for our Artist of the Year competition I June 2017!

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Lia Cole Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

SoundCloud

Instagram

iTunes

YouTube

IAMWARFACE | SMC Season 1 Artist of the Year | in Review!

SMC Artist of the Year Spotlight | IAMWARFACE March 9, 2017

By Candice Anne Marshall

SMC – Hello Matt! This year is flying by and there are so many wicked projects going on at the moment for IAMWARFACE! Let’s begin with the biggest one right now: the Indiegogo campaign for your single ‘Say My Name’. That’s a pretty wicked promo video! Tell us who the team is behind this campaign…

Matt – the Indiegogo campaign has been set up by a friend of mine called Andrew Scott Marshall. He’s also writing and directing the video. He’s a great guy with a hell of a lot of awesome ideas. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

SMC – Can you tell us a little bit of a synopsis of the Music Video and what we can expect? We saw some pretty wicked acting skills there!

Matt- Hi Candice. Thankyou. The Oscar win awaits lol. Yes of course. Ok, well the video is going to form one part of a narrative that will span multiple songs possibly featuring other bands. The general vibe is that of a kick ass Kung Fu movie in the vein of something like John Wick. It’s gonna be awesome.

SMC – What is the ultimate goal in terms of top dollar – what amount do you need to make this video the success you want?

Matt- At the moment we’re looking to raise £3500 to shoot the first part of the video.

SMC – You mentioned to me on the phone recently that you are also working on a new single….can you tell us about that?

Matt- Yes indeed. I have a load of new things I’m working on. There’s 2 brand new songs that I’m currently going through as well as a cover of a very famous 80’s song. We’re also working on the official debut album so these will all form part of that. I can’t say anymore at the moment but there’s some big things happening.

SMC – What is in your studio? Can you give us a bit of a visual?

Matt- It’s all decked out with geek paraphernalia such as a huge Tie Fighter from Star Wars and Various Aliens and robots to keep me company. Also, there’s my usual setup consisting of a midi drum kit, a keyboard and guitar.

SMC – You are also playing the Camden Rocks Festival this June as well. What a great way to ‘pass the torch’ so to speak to our 2016-2017 Artist of the Year! It looks like a well-established music festival – is this your first time playing there for it?

Matt- Yeh, it’s gonna be a very cool festival. I played there about 4 years ago in my last band. It’s basically the town of Camden turned into a huge festival with a load of music venues all hosting some of the best British bands around at the moment. Also, we’re playing Into The Wild festival in July this year which is my favorite. Such a cool vibe with awesome people.

SMC – Can you talk about the changes that are happening within the band as well?

Matt- Well, things just seem to be clicking into place right now. We’ve had a load of exposure last year including Sky Sports using our debut single Say My Name for the opening league games. That was amazing to see on TV. Nothings really changes as far as how we do things, it’s just taken a lot longer than we expected to get the ball rolling regarding recordings and the creation of the album. Also, we seem to be pulling a lot of Gary Numan fans at the moment which is fantastic. Gary’s wife is also a fan. You never know, we may join him on tour sometime in the future. Gary, if you’re reading this…. get in touch.

SMC – What are all the tours you are looking at for the remainder of 2017?

Matt- We don’t have a tour arranged this year as of yet but hopefully we’ll have some news very soon. I’d love to get back on tour. This is what I live for.

SMC – I know that this can be a touchy subject for many Artists, but I do like to know what the media support has been like for you over in the UK….

Matt- Well, it’s all mainly been social media based so far and we’ve had a great response. We also recently did a live session for BBC Introducing of which was also filmed. We’re working on a video edit of our first track we played (To Die For). It’s almost finished and it’s looking like a corker. Can’t wait to get it out there.

SMC – In terms of the last 3 months, what has happened for the band in terms of tours and live shows?

Matt- Well, we did a short tour in the South of England last October which was our first. It was such an unforgettable experience and this was when I realized that I have the best band I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Such a great and funny bunch of guys. The first night of the tour we all cried ourselves to sleep laughing. So funny.

SMC – Which live show was your most favorable since being announced as our Artist of the Year in July 2016?

Matt- I think the most memorable was our gig at Proud Galleries in Camden a few months ago. Even though I had an epileptic fit halfway through a song but I managed to hold it together by holding my hands over my eyes to avoid the strobe lights. Everyone thought I was being dramatic lol. It was only when I told them I wasn’t being dramatic, I was having a fit. Ha-ha. The gig was amazing though. We also supported 90’s band Senser at Tunnel 267 this year which was a sold-out show. Was also incredible.

SMC – I know that you still have your ArtistMax VIP Scholarship and you had mentioned to me that you were considering giving it to another Artist as with the Indiegogo campaign happening you didn’t want to overwhelm your supporters. This is YOURS and there is no expiry on it. We are looking at running an Artist of the decade event and we have a ton of great ideas for that! What are your thoughts on that?

Matt- Blimey!!! Each time we’ve been in the contest it’s been nerve shredding. I’m not sure I have any nerves left lol.

SMC – What has been your experience since being a part of the Starlight Music Chronicles family?

Matt- Well apart from becoming friends with your lovely self, it’s just been amazing to have had such support and advice from you. And it’s so cool to see the growth of SMC in the last couple of years. Truly an inspiration.

SMC – Okay, final question: if there was any advice you would like to give new Artists who are discovering SMC, what would that be?

Matt- Be up-front and honest. Never give up. You’re in very good hands.

SMC – Thank you Matt! We have some great things cooking up that we will soon be able to announce and will involve a ‘wrap-up party’ so to speak for our Artists of the Year for Season 1. We look forward to chatting with you really soon!

Matt- It’s been an absolute pleasure my dear friend. Xxx

 

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IAMWARFACE Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube

Spotify

SoundCloud

 

THE MOON KIDS | SPOTLIGHT Series No.1

If you are itching for summer to hurry up, you might want to upload Dunfermline, Scotland band The Moon Kids two brand new singles ‘Forever Blue’ and ‘Something Spectacular’ right now. The band has launched the singles today, March 31st, and the tunes are the brilliant, effervescent, feel-good magic that only ‘The Moon Kids’ know how to create and are perfect for getting you in the mood for sunny days, flip flops, and music festival season! We had the opportunity to speak with the band prior to their single releases to get a more in-depth discussion on the new music, their upcoming projects for 2017, and the intense media support they have been receiving on some of the worlds most notorious radio platforms in Japan and Los Angeles. Here is what they had to say:

Interview | March 6th, 2017

By Candice Anne Marshall

*The band is comprised of: David Barr (vocals), Connor Whyte (guitar), and Rory Buchanan(drums)

SMC – The Moon Kids! This is our first official numbered series feature for you on our Spotlight. (previously the band was published in our first issue of Starlight Music Chronicles Magazine in October 2015). Can you catch us up to speed with some of the key things that have been happening for the band since then?

TMK – Gigs, single releases, recording, recording and more recording! And maybe a little soul searching!

SMC- I am going to get right into the topic of your new singles today. Before I mention the song titles, can you tell me what was the reason behind launching two singles on the same day? We have seen this with Ed Sheeran’s return in January but it’s not often that Artists these days launch two singles on the same day – this is exciting!

TMK – There wasn’t really a specific reason to putting out two tracks at the same time other than we have so much unheard material. We are constantly in the studio working on new music and always have been ever since we started. Because we have had a couple of line up changes we haven’t really been able to be as active as we would have liked… But during these periods I make a point of staying busy in the studio so that we keep moving forward. So, we’ve built up quite a large catalogue of material which I think our fans deserve to hear.

SMC – Who did you produce the album with?

TMK – We still work with Michael Brennan Jnr (snow patrol, Super Furry Animals, Primal Scream) but recently we have also spent time in the studio with Tony Doogan (Teenage Fanclub, Mogwai, Young Knives) Rafe McKenna but also a young Edinburgh based producer Mark Morrow who we recorded the next single ‘Forever Blue’ with.

SMC – So let’s get into the songs: ’Something Spectacular’ I have had the chance to sample on your SoundCloud and I am already playing it on repeat! What is the time frame from the last single to this one coming up in terms of new music?

TMK – Our last single ‘Ice Cream’ was released late in 2015 so there has been a full year gap since the last single. So definitely time for people to hear what we’ve been up to behind the scenes.

SMC – ‘Something Spectacular’ – can you tell us what brought on the inspiration for this song? Has it been something you have had waiting in your back pocket for a while or was it written very recently?

TMK – This was actually one of the very first songs I ever wrote when I was still a young teenager. It has changed and developed a lot since I first penned the track but the sentiment of the song remains the same. The other guys in the band had heard the old demo I recorded years ago and everyone just really wanted to work on it. It’s a ‘feel good’ track and the chorus is super catchy. It’s got strange groove to it… This is because years ago I used to have a little Zoom 8 -Track at home which had a built-in drum machine. So, I wrote the chord progression around a looped beat rather than writing on an acoustic first. It worked really well.

SMC – You second single ‘Forever Blue’ still encompasses that great Moon Kids sound but is a different…is this a precursor/sampling to an upcoming album?

TMK – Well… This is an odd one… This song we used play live and it was super fast. Almost quite rocky sounding. I spent some time in LA last year and really loved the chilled-out vibe… Especially Venice Beach. It’s a completely different environment to what I’m used to back home in Scotland. I felt really relaxed there. A busker gave me a shot of his guitar one night and I just started playing an acoustic version of the track. Really slow and chilled. Was just how I was feeling at the time. I just liked it and set up a few hours in the studio when I got home to record a stripped back version. And what you hear on record is how it turned out. It’s full band but it’s a lot more organic and raw compared to some of our previous releases. But personally, I love that about it.

SMC – You have been getting some great traction for your music with the media in the UK. Are there any particular platforms you would like to give a shout out to?

TMK – Yeah, I’ve been really blown away with just how many amazing reviews we’ve had and totally blown away with the amount of Spotify streams etc. We’re still very much a DIY band. We don’t have a manger or anything… So, the fact that so many people are finding and connecting to the music is really amazing. Big shout out to everyone who has listened, written about or played us really… There has been so many platforms and radio show supporting us that I’d hate to name any and forget to name others.

SMC- In terms of radio play, I know you boys have appeared on Rodney on the ROQ KROQ FM radio in Los Angeles and WhatTheFunday Inter FM Radio in Japan. Are there any other radio stations in other countries who have picked up your music?

TMK – Yeah, Rodney has been a huge support to us and that’s a great honour for us. The guy has a good hear for talent which his track record proves so it’s really great that he digs our music. It means a lot. Similarly, with WhatTheFunday… It’s really special knowing that a track you wrote in your bedroom on a rainy afternoon in Scotland is getting heard all the way out in Japan. We can’t thank these people enough.

At home Amazing Radio, BBC 6, BBC Scotland have all regularly played our music as well as a lot of other stations in Germany, New Zealand, Canada… It’s really amazing. For us being a Scottish band it is an achievement on its own just to get played in England. So, I feel really blessed to have the support we have had.

SMC – When can we expect the videos for the new singles to release?

TMK – 31rst of March… The video for Forever Blue is released. Big shout out Kansas Bowling who shot the video. She’s a super cool film-maker destined for big things I’m sure. It was great to work with her.

SMC – How do you think that Musicians in the UK differ from Musicians in North America in terms of production, branding, promotion, of their music?

TMK – I’m not sure to be honest. The UK is tiny compared to North America and we’ve been based here the whole time so it’s hard to make a comparison. I think its equally as challenging wherever you are. Especially for guitar bands in recent years. But I think that’s all going to change soon.

SMC – Which social media platforms are you most active on?

TMK – We are equally active on… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube

SMC- Which social media platforms are the best at promoting yourselves as Artists?

TMK – I’m going to be brutally honest here… They are all equal in getting yourself out there… But Facebook charges bands to post. In order to be effective with posts you have to pay to sponsor it otherwise it gets diluted in the feed. So as much as I love Facebook as a promotional tool I do feel this is slightly exploiting bands. Especially considering bands make so little money these days from streaming etc. I think it has to change.

SMC – I really appreciated the treasures you all sent over last spring (CD’s, T-shirts, Buttons). I have to publicly thank you again for that. I think that lends a real personal touch to the connection between the Artist and Media. Most Artists will send all of their content and expect that an immediate connection has to happen and a write-up but I feel that the best way to get the most out of a well written piece is to know the band/Artist. What are your thoughts on that?

TMK – Yeah… I do believe in developing relationships with the people who support you. It’s really important. I want us to be one of those bands that people feel a connection with. So, we have to show our gratitude.

SMC –  What do you feel makes the magic in a band? What is it that makes a band stick together through thick and thin?

TMK – Well… A spot of luck goes a long way. I’m not sure either though… To me its about grit and determination… Bands are notoriously difficult it’s why inevitably we all split up eventually. People hear the music and think must be a great laugh being in a band… And it is, but its like anything the trials and tribulations are there. The music industry is tough and for a band trying to breakthrough it can be very gruelling. There is no way around it. One minute you’re the next big thing the next minute you can’t get arrested. It’s only really the bands at the very top who earn any money. So, you have to be prepared to ride the wave and be persistent. If being in a band is what you are passionate about then I think you should always remember just how lucky you are to be doing what you dreamed about as a kid.

SMC – I have never asked this until today but referencing the previous question, do you think that the long-term success of a band is different when they are family or friends?

TMK – Yeah, I think there might be some truth to this. Family obviously will stick together through thick and thin as will good friends. There is a closer bond I suppose. I think it’s down to the band though. If the individuals in the band are motivated, enthusiastic, passionate and determined then anything is possible.

SMC – I really have always loved the logo for The Moon Kids. Who came up with the concept?

TMK – That was myself way back when we first started. We were playing our debut show in Dunfermline and needed a logo for the kit. I think the skin got printed on the day of the gig so it wasn’t really thought about too much. It was more of a spur of the moment kind of a thing. But it’s like a tattoo. You’re stuck with it. So, I’m glad you like it.

SMC – I know that a lot of your music sounds light but the lyrics are often very deep. How do you achieve that balance when it comes to the songwriting process?

TMK – That’s really great that you have picked up on that because no-one else has. And to me this is one of the things that sets us apart. No one ever mentions our lyrics. I’ve always wanted that contrast. I love early Beatles and early pop music. The hooks, melodies and chord progressions are timeless so I always wanted our music to have this quality. To be catchy and good on the ear. But I think lyrics are so important so I didn’t want them to ever be throwaway. “Oh baby baby” and all that kind of thing. In fact, our first song ‘Rollercoaster People” is a good example I sang “Sha la la” normally a happy feel good chant over the top of quite an emotive chord progression. I love the contrast. Taking things out of perspective. Getting away with saying some quite dark stuff over the top of some nice major chords can really deceive the listener in a good way though. I love playing with that concept.

SMC – What kinds of challenges have the band face and how were they overcome?

TMK – Most bands face the same challenges, we’ve been kept on our toes I’m not going to lie about that. It hasn’t been an easy ride but then again, I didn’t expect it would be. Having very little money, working day jobs, band members leaving the day before a big gig etc. all make life a little difficult. You just have to persevere and that’s what we have always done. I’m a big believer in turning a negative into a positive. If you’re thrown into a situation that is out of your hands accept it and figure out how to flip it to your advantage.

SMC – Which would be the one country you love to all travel to in terms of live performance and getting your name out?

TMK – Definitely North America…

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us what your thoughts are on the music that is being produced today and who you were most sad to see leave (pass away) the industry in 2016 and why?

TMK – Some amazing music is being made today in all different genres as always, a lot of what is played in the mainstream charts is throwaway garbage but that’ll always be the case. Scratch the surface though and there are some amazing groups and artists writing unbelievable music. Big shout out to Dutch Uncles who are my favourite band just now.

I’m sad to see anyone pass away and 2016 was just relentless. Bowie and Prince though both of their deaths really shook the musical world. Real icons so you don’t associate them with any form of weakness. It was really sad. For a song-writer when you come up against it… The right answer is always “what would Bowie have done?” He is one of a kind and brought so much joy to so many people through his art and passion for life. Really, he is a great example of what a pop-star should be.

SMC – Thank you boys!

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The Moon Kinds Social Media Links (Click to View)

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Something Spectaular

 

Sallie Mood | SPOTLIGHT Series No.1

SMC Spotlight Artist Interview | Sallie Mood March 3rd, 2017

By Candice Anne Marshall

While setting up the World Premiere of Wall Of Orange’s’ music video for ‘Small Hour Crimes’, I made the fabulous new discovery who goes by the name: Sallie Mood. She is new to the music scene in terms of radio play but in listening to her beautiful vocals, you’d think she has been doing it for years. The Florida-born, Dallas, Texas beauty is, in fact, connected to the Gary Parks, Producer and Frontman for Wall OF Orange and has plans to work on mixing her new recordings with him. In speaking with Parks, he added, ‘She is insanely talented. Seriously, her voice is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. She sang the bkg vox on our song “lost by the sea”. She needs exposure. I’m thrilled that you like and want to promote her!’. Coming from someone who I already hold in high regard in terms of ‘exceptional music’, I knew this meant this discovery was akin to a five-year-old discovering presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

Yes, she is truly that great.

I was lucky enough to connect right away with the lovely songbird I now refer to as #TheDarkBeauty (yes, I have been given permission) where we delve deep into the heart of just who Sallie Mood really is. Enjoy!

SMC – Hello dear! Welcome to the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Spotlight! I am so happy to have discovered you thanks to my boys at Wall Of Orange! Your appearance in their newest music video ‘Small Hour Crimes’ was stunning! There was something about that sixties psychedelic vibe that I loved about the video and you were amazing in it! When I saw that you shared the sneak peek video for the band I thought to myself, ‘AH-HA! I found her!’ lol! THEN I listened to your music after some digging and I knew you HAD to be on our SMC Spotlight ASAP! After my spiel, what are your thoughts on this?

SM – I truly must say, I am feeling beyond honored to have been a part of the genesis of Wall Of Orange – Gary Parks is an incredibly brilliant and hardworking human. I know he invested every ounce of his being into those songs, the whole package. When he asked me to be part of the video, that was my opportunity to travel into the beautiful universe he’s created and find my place, my role. I think our music’s come from neighboring universes, existing somewhere inside of ultraviolet light waves. I wasn’t expecting my inclusion in this project to lead me to you – what a wonderful surprise it’s been. I love keeping up with SMC and I’m feeling so blessed to be included in the Chronicles of Starlight Music.

SMC – To further this discussion, I would like to invite you to be one of our Numbered Series Artists – meaning: we follow your career journey and write frequent, (numbered, and chronicled) pieces about your progress. Would that interest you?

SM – That sounds so thrilling to me! Like a chapter book. I’ve come across so many amazing artists via your chronicles. I would love to be a part of the SMC archives.

SMC – Okay let’s get into some personal stats… how old are you?

SM – I’ve been here for 25 years. But if I didn’t know how old I was, I would guess I’m somewhere around 100 or so.

SMC – Can you tell us how you became connected to the Wall Of Orange boys? In my opinion, they are a class act and anyone involved in the WoO camp is truly stellar!

SM – I met Gary a few years ago through a mutual friend when he was looking for a singer for a commercial. Shortly thereafter, he began working on his album and called me in to sing backing vocals on ‘Lost By The Sea’. I remember feeling really inspired and motivated by his diligence toward the project feeling like ‘these are my people’. He sees this intangible universe and makes it visible so we can all experience it with him. He’s a true artist. I’m so glad he called me that day.

SMC – There is only one other Artist that I love as much as you in terms of being a solo Artist primarily and that is Hayley Richman. You both have such gorgeous, seductive, melancholy and haunting vocals. They are unforgettable! I hear some Lorde in your vocals though…. have you ever heard that before?

SM – Hayley Richman is a gem. Her lyrics are beyond her years. Your words are so kind, Candice – it’s wonderful to be spoken of in that light! I remember when Lorde released ‘Royals’. The first time I heard the track, it was still pretty underground. I remember listening to it a lot because I could really relate to the words. No one has ever told me I sound like her. But I do believe we may be seeing the world in a similar way.

SMC – Why is music your career path choice?

SM- I honestly can’t image life without music. Words speak. Add a melody and you’re suddenly saying so much more. I grew up in musical theatre. I was constantly getting into the minds of the characters I was portraying. Singing their songs. Three times a year for almost 10 years. Then I turned 18 and went to college to study architecture and I realized I had no earthly clue who I was. I felt directionless and confused. Everything in my world was suddenly forced and didn’t fit right. I loved architecture but I missed living in those fantasy worlds that exist in the theatre. After a couple years of college, I found myself in a really dark place – unbelievably dark. I was empty. Completely empty. I got a keyboard and painted the keys like a rainbow with some nail polish I had. I thought it was kind of ugly but I think that was my way of trying to bring myself back to life. I started writing poems with melodies. I wrote 89 of them in one month. I would type them up and spend hours organizing them into acts and scenes in Word documents – kind of like a playbill crossed with a script. And then I would just read through them. A million times. Studying and editing the words, over and over, wondering how the story would continue. It was like I was turning my life into a musical production so it felt meaningful again. But secretly. Only for me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but writing those songs pulled me out of that darkness and, for the first time, I felt like I was getting to know myself. So, I never stopped.

SMC – I have looked at all your branding and it’s stunning! Do you do all your own graphics, photography, and branding?

SM – Thank you so much! I do it all myself. A while ago, I realized it’s very difficult for me to explain what’s in my head to another person. So, I’m constantly trying to learn more about every aspect of my craft.

SMC – I do have to say that I sense there is a dual personality thing going on in your presentation. Is that intentional? Riley O’Riley A.K.A. Sallie Mood being the precursor of this perception on my part. Can you tell us a little bit more about these two lovely characters?

SM – Well, to begin with, Riley O’Riley is me in the purest form. Sallie Mood is an extension of the part of myself that overwhelmingly believes in love, hope, peace and truth. We are similar in a lot of ways, but Sallie Mood is more of an observer of humankind, whereas Riley O is walking in it. Years ago, I went through a phase when the songs pouring out of my brain were so hallow and dark, it made me uncomfortable – I realized that whatever I was singing about became embedded in my being. I was sowing seeds of hopelessness. In retrospect, I know I had to  endure that phase for the purposes of personal healing, but it left me thinking: if I believe that love never fails, I need to walk in that; if I believe that hope always endures, I need to walk in that; if I believe peace can always be found in the midst of chaos, I need to walk in that; if I know the truth is unchanging, I need to walk in that. I believe these things all the time, but sometimes, when things happen unexpectedly and suddenly nothing makes sense, it’s easy to forget the truth of the matter. Emotions take over. Sallie Mood feels like I do, but she never forgets the truth.

SMC – Your videos are overwhelmingly emotional and deep – in the very best way. I feel like there is some sadness in your vocals and they are reflected in your videos. Can you tell us who is responsible for the creation of your music video content?

SM – At a young age, I walked through a series of unfortunate events. I seemed to be enduring one horrible thing after another with no time to take a breath in between. The theatre was my safe haven – I found refuge in the characters. For me, life has never felt weightless or happy-go-lucky. It’s always been so heavy. When I started making videos, I just set the stage, wallowed in whatever mood I was in, and turned on the camera. If I look sad, it’s because I was sad. If I’m acting coy, it’s because I was feeling that way. So, I just hit record and go with it. My lens are dark, sad and weird. But there’s this bright white light shining on everything now and I think that’s what makes my videos dramatic – there will always be darkness, but a light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. I also find public domain videos on the Internet of old documentaries. I love old footage of fauna and flora and war. There’s a pattern language there that the newer footage doesn’t possess. I just find images I like that help tell the story.

SMC – You have that voice that one wants to listen to when they are having the worst possible day. Honestly, its calming and pleasing to the soul. I loved the video for ‘Rigor Mortis’ and I feel it reflects the mood of the song. When you begin the songwriting process, do you already envision how you will execute it to the final presentation?

SM – I’m so glad to know the music comes off that way. When I write a song, I have no idea what I’m doing. I usually hear a melody at first. No words. But I’ll only hear a melody if it comes to me. The music doesn’t come from me. Rather, it’s sent to me and I act as a conduit. Sometimes it comes at really inconvenient times but I have so much respect for the music, I’ll put everything else on the back burner until I’ve exhausted all efforts to understand what the music is trying to tell me in that moment. I have a list of words and phrases that stand out to me. If I hear something that should be on that list, I will drop whatever I’m doing and write it down. After I get a handle on a melody, there’s usually one thing on that list that says “this song is about me!” And then everything falls into place. When I wrote ‘Rigor Mortis’, I was in limbo. I knew I was at a turning point in my life – it was time for the darkest part of me to die off so I could grow spiritually. Rigor mortis was not a phrase I had written down though. My beautiful friend Amy had just passed away and I guess I was trying to swallow the reality of the situation. At that time, nothing made sense again. Those words wouldn’t leave my head. I had to use them.

SMC – I was told by a little birdie that you may be doing some work with him soon… (ahem, Gary Parks) and I also saw a clip you just posted on your Artist Facebook page called ‘Clementine’ when can we expect that to drop?

SM – ‘Clementine’ is an 8-minute song I’ve been working on for almost a year. It’s a love letter to someone I don’t know yet. But it’s also a love letter to the world. I have a really clear vision of what that song and video should look like and that’s why I’ve been so slow – I don’t want to settle. I want to do it justice. Gary and I have a little trade going and his end of the deal is to help me mix some songs I’ve been working on. I’m hoping to get the chance to work on that with him sometime in the next few weeks. I think he really understands where I’m coming from, so the opportunity I have to work with him on this is really the opportunity of a lifetime for me.

SMC – We would LOVE to host the video on our website as a world premiere like we did for Wall Of Orange. Would that me something of interest for you?

SM – Oh, I would absolutely love that. ‘Clementine’ is one of the songs I’m most passionate about. I recently acquired a new video editing software so I’m excited to explore what I can do with the footage I’ve gathered for this video. To drop the world premiere on SMC would be a dream.

SMC – You are admired by me and I equivocate you to singer/songwriter Jake Bugg. In my opinion, you two are right up there in terms of being extremely unique with your lyrics and style of vocals. Have you heard of Jake Bugg? I would LOVE to hear a duet with both of you! That would be like heaven meets earth!

SM – I saw Jake Bugg live at the House of Blues a few years back – he’s incredible. He has this coolness about him that’s different from other kinds of coolness. His voice is so raw and his lyrics are poetic. To do a duet with him might be a nice experience. He’s kind of created his own genre – he’s bold and fearless. Bold and fearless is always a good combo.

SMC – Can you tell me what you feel is the most important thing in the creation of your music in terms of its overall sound?

SM – I want to create music that is universal; music that the younger generations, the older generations and everyone in between can all find relatable. Simultaneously, I want to create music that is thoroughly true. Facts can be violent and hard to swallow, but the truth is always loving, forgiving and unchanging. The yoke of truth is easy and its burden is light. That’s what I want my music to sound like.

SMC – Can you tell me about that ‘Ah Ha’ moment when you realized this was the career path you want to take?

SM – After I spent awhile writing poems and songs for myself at college, I met this woman, Lynn Clark-Geiner. It was 2011. She invited me to go to Chicago and sing in front of some music producers. That led me to the opportunity to go to Nashville and record an EP with producer Nick Trevisick. I started feeling like my life had a real purpose. I think Lynn was sent to me from God.

SMC- I ask this in most all my interviews because each Artist has a different answer. This also gives our readers a way to connect to you aside from being an Artist. Can you tell us five things about yourself that no one else knows?

SM – I am not a night person – I love waking up before the sun. My favorite color changes daily but is usually some variation of gold, pink or blue. I love plants – I think they have feelings. My mood is very dependent upon the weather. I’d usually rather stay in than go out.

SMC – What is a deal breaker in terms of your career and what you are willing to do or not do for fame?

SM – I’m only willing to do what I know is right. Although the world is colorful, I see things in black and white. I immediately know if something is not good, not right – at this point, I don’t think anyone could convince me to do something that I know is not right. In this industry, I think fame might just be a byproduct of hard work. The goal for me is to do what I know I have to do in order to sleep well at night.

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

SM – For me, success is a word that separates genius from insanity. I think if enough people relate to my music, I’ll know I’m not completely insane.

SMC – Which designer or store do you get those wicked clothes from?

SM – Buffalo Exchange and The Salvation Army are my stomping grounds. Almost everything in my wardrobe is from one of those two stores. It’s like walking into a treasure chest when you go to places like those.

SMC – What is the one thing you hear most consistently from fans when they first discover your music?

SM – I’ve noticed a lot of people use the word “beautiful” when responding to my music. I don’t think people like to be told what to feel, but I think people like to be told what to pay attention to. I love the juxtaposition of a heavy, thought provoking topic and a simple, timeless chord progression. I feel like that’s what the old music does. That’s the kind of music I think is beautiful.

SMC – Have you received radio play yet?

SM – I have not received radio play. I don’t think I’ve created anything worthy of the radio waves as of yet. Maybe one day that will happen.

SMC – I know that currently, you are based in Texas, were you born somewhere else or have you always lived in Texas?

SM – I was born in Hollywood, FL. I grew up all along the Atlantic Coast of Florida. The colors there are unspeakable. I still think of the east coast of Florida as a home. But Dallas is a cornerstone in my upbringing. I know Dallas.

SMC – How have other media platforms been in terms of acceptance of your music?

SM – This really cool blogger called Queen Beetch shared my song and video called ‘Up In Smoke’ at the end of last year. It was such an honor to be shared on her blog because you can get on her site and scroll for days – everything she posts is some underground music brilliance. It was a really good feeling.

SMC – What is your peer support like among your friends?

SM – My number one music companion is Colin Boyd A.K.A. Coin Boy. He’s an incredible performer, singer/songwriter/guitarist/ukulele maestro. He gave me my first ever gig in 2012 at a dive bar in Dallas called J. Pepe’s. Now we perform together on a weekly basis and I just love it. We are working on an EP for our duo band called The American Dreamers. He’s out there floating in space with me so it’s a nice partnership.

SMC – Has the music industry jaded you in any way? If so, how? And how did you react to it going forward?

SM – I can’t say I’m at all jaded toward the music industry. I have definitely gone through some totally bizarre experiences that have left me mentally paralyzed for periods of time. Those times were rough because it felt like the life had been sucked out of me and I didn’t know if I’d ever feel the music again. But then I start to hear the music again and I sing a new song. I know bizarre things will continue to happen and throw me into dark places, but I have a peace in knowing that the music comes back. It always comes back.

SMC – What is the coolest fan experience you can recall?

SM – My first follower on Instagram is called @sheccxd. I immediately followed her back because I saw myself in her. Based on her Internet persona, she loves the challenge of a good old fashioned heartbreak – it hurts, you don’t want it, but there something about the beauty you find in that pain that makes it all worthwhile. She seems to see through a lens of mellow drama and finds glimmers of light in dark places. She had a photo of me as her profile picture for a while – it was surreal when I first stumbled upon it.

SMC – What do the next 6-12 months look like for you in terms of your career?

SM – In the near future, I hope to have some recordings of my newer songs ready to share with people. I’d also like to share some more visually stimulating videos and digital art.

SMC – Do you have any tour plans for this year?

SM – I don’t have any tour plans. I do perform around town as Riley O’Riley, but Sallie Mood really only exists on the Internet and in my mind. I would love to travel around singing songs one day. I’m such an introvert though. I have never boldly sought that out.

SMC – Are there any instruments that you enjoy playing?

SM – I grew up playing the piano. My parents bought me a 66 key keyboard when I was young. A few years ago, I was gifted an Oscar Schmidt tenor ukulele. That’s now my instrument of choice. It inspires an entirely different world of music than the piano. Recently, I removed the bottom 2 strings from all my guitars so I can play them like a baritone ukulele – I’m really enjoying playing those altered guitars as well.

SMC – After delving further into your music, I feel there’s a little bit of a Janis Joplin vibe happening too – Have you ever been compared to her?

SM – Oh man, Janis. A pioneer of soul wrenching music and hippie-glam. Her sense of fashion and her fearlessness left an impression on me when I was in my teenage years. People have told me I give off a similar vibration as her. I don’t consciously try to embody that though. It’s not often that I find someone or something that makes me feel at home inside of my mind, so when I find that I study it. Janis is one of those people. If she was still alive, we’d probably be friends.

SMC – Okay, last question: I feel you would also make a great Actress as well. If given the choice to only do one or the other (career), which one would you choose and why?

SM – I’ll sing forever. Putting on a show comes with singing. You have to be able to tell the story visually and sonically, melodically. I’ll never forget the first time I made a grown man cry while I was singing a song – he approached me after the gig and thanked me. After that night, I knew I never wanted to stop making grown men cry. I knew I never wanted to stop inviting people to a sonic avenue where they could shamelessly experience their emotions. People want to go to that place but the world encourages us to put on this ‘I’m okay, you’re okay’ mask. I know a fake smile when I see one. Music can penetrate the soul of a person in a way that nothing else can, for better or for worse. I don’t know what it was, but I know that man faced something monumental that night. Not because the music was sad but because the music was true. A broken world makes for broken hearts – this world needs music that speaks truth and life. If my music can help only one person heal from within, then I’ll just keep doing it for that one person.

SMC – Thank you Dear! This has been a pleasure! I look forward to seeing you go all the way. Reach for the stars and stay uniquely you all the way because that is evident in the music you are producing. I am interested to see where this takes you next!

SM – Thank you so much for this wonderful experience, Candice. This has been a joy. I look forward to keeping up with you and all the amazing artists you post about on SMC.

SMC – Ps: I think I am going to hashtag you as #TheDarkBeauty from now on. It’s fitting xo

SM – The Dark Beauty, that’s a stellar name.

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Sallie Mood Social Media (click to view):

Website

SoundCloud

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Lucien Dante | March 2017 SMC Artist of the Month!

Interview Lucien Dante | Starlight Music Chronicles March 2017 Artist of the Month

By Candice Anne Marshall

It always amazes me how fast the month flies by and I am here posting yet another Indie Artist interview. What amazes me even more is the rapid pace at which our SMC Artist of the Month (AOM) competitions are catching on globally. The last two events have resulted in online fan votes at 1112 (SMITHRADIO) and 1129 respectively and are our highest Facebook votes to date! With our First Artist of the Year winner Olivia Penalva headed to Los Angeles to the March ArtistMax event for her VIP scholarship (part of our Artist of the Year win), its imminent that word will spread even more rapidly than before. In the coming week, we will be making a special announcement regarding ArtistMax and our Artist of the Month past, present, and future Competitors! Stay Tuned!

Now, It is with absolute pleasure that I welcome in our newest Indie Artist Lucien Dante to the SMC Artist of the Month alumni. I connected in the last couple days with Lucien to talk about his music, AOM win (with the highest votes ever recorded!), and what’s coming up on the radar. Here is what he had to say:

SMC – Hello Lucien! Welcome to Starlight Music Chronicles! We would like to welcome you to the SMC Artist of the Month Alumni as our OFFICIAL SMC March 2017 AOM Winner! Not only are you a part of the SMC family now, you are also the top fan voted Artist in our monthly competitions! When did you first learn that you had won?

LD – Hello SMC and SMC readers! Thank you for this exciting interview! It’s like an extensive welcoming card to the SMC family! In all honesty, I wasn’t aware that the fan voting process was composed of 50% fan votes and 50% judge votes, so when I won the fan votes I thought I had won AOM! I immediately made an instavideo post of my triumph only to find out that the judges still had to vote ha-ha! Luckily, they chose me because that would have been embarrassing! Thank you Judges!

SMC – What was your reaction?

LD – I was so excited! It meant so much to me for two reasons. The first being because of the fan votes. I did not expect so many people to vote for me! It showed me that all the work my label and I have put into my career is paying pay off, and that means something so beautiful and indescribable to me. Secondly, the fact that the judges found me and chose me is something I will wear as a badge of honor 😀

SMC – There are so many things I would love to ask you! I must tell you that your music really resonates with me Lucien. It’s very positive and heart-centered. You remain unique and grounded in everything. I really admire that. Where would you say your positivity derives from?

LD – Thank you for your enthusiasm! It’s encouraging and heart-centered! I think my positivity comes mostly from my mother. She is the most incredible woman I’ve ever known and she has always loved me and shown me that love is life and life is creation. She’s also extremely intelligent, wise and has very high standards, and all those things have resulted in me having a natural magnetic pull to light and positivity. That’s a difficult question!

SMC – I interviewed you for Indie Music Monday (IMM) recently and I have to thank Walter Hargrave for the introduction. He is very good at spotting great talent! Now you are also a part of the SMC family. What are your thoughts on networking like this?

LD – I have to thank Walter as well! It’s been nothing but a positive experience for me! I love networking in this way, especially when it’s based around interviews and other creative things. It’s a great opportunity to connect with potential Lights and share things about my craft and self that otherwise might not be shared. To be able to do that with such a lovely supportive community like SMC is really quite touching and satiating for the heart.

SMC – I don’t think I asked in the IMM interview – how old are you?

LD – I am 22 and I am a Cancer 🙂

SMC – You had also mentioned in the IMM interview that you are from Chicago. I recently interviewed another band from the same area and they had wonderful things to say about the music scene there! What are your thoughts on the kind of support you have received where you’re from?

LD – Other than a few live shows, I haven’t been involved in the Chicago music scene! I do plan to return to Chicago to perform!

SMC – Let’s dive into your music. I LOVE that you wrote ‘Beowulf’ to honor the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Can you tell us what the connection was for you when you wrote the lyrics?

LD – The incident really spoke to me because of the perpetrator being male, what happened before the incident, as well as the age of the victims and their environment. A young male going into a kindergarten to slaughter children and teachers after having killed his mother, tells me that he suffered a great deal of childhood trauma that grew as he aged, eventually resulting in a sort of external destruction of what he felt he was never a part of. I think that society’s ideas about masculinity and boyhood as well as the perpetrator’s own personal familial struggles were a huge catalyst for the event. And this feeling of desperation, confusion and betrayal that I think the perpetrator felt allowed me to construct the lyrics of Beowulf around a character faced with similar thoughts.

SMC- What do you feel is the power behind your music in terms of how it affects your fans?

LD – Although I haven’t always known exactly who I am, I have always been a unique individual, and I think that my individuality, through my voice and lyrics, has defined my music. Especially now that I have transitioned from director and co-producer to sole producer, my songs are becoming an even more tangible representation of who I am. I strive to sing about things that are completely real and necessary for me, and I strive to sound like what I feel the subject matter needs. I think the power behind my music is simply the power that lays in being an individual and embracing that fully and unapologetically.

SMC – Do you feel that music can change the world? If so, in what way?

LD – Of course! Music has changed the world and music has changed me! Heck, my music has changed me ha-ha! Music is vibration and I believe that a song that you love is a song that literally resonates with you. Music is a deeply emotional and evocative form of communication that can touch the most undiscovered parts of ourselves. I think that like anything else, however, the power of music lays in the creator of it. I believe music is one of my most pure and fundamental gifts to this world and I treat it as such.

SMC – What has been the most frustrating thing you’ve experienced in your career to date?

LD – I don’t have enough funding to create everything I want to! I want to create so much and it requires things that I have yet to acquire! Getting to that point where I have all the means to produce what I envision, however, is part of the journey and I love all of it with every fiber of my being.

SMC – In reference to the previous question, how did you handle that?

LD – I handle it by the sheer love and magnetism I have for music and my career. I am so driven and so capable of achieving what I know I must that I just keep going! My financial limitations are also a lesson for me to create the most out of what I have, and I am deeply grateful for that.

SMC – Can you tell us which instrument you gravitate to most in terms of the song writing process?

LD – Aside from vocals of course, it used to be piano. Now days, since I mostly work with electronic production, it’s definitely that! A beat and a melody usually give me what I need.

SMC – What do you find beauty in?

LD – What a question! I find beauty in the success and understanding of any positive or transitional situation!

SMC- Do you think that social media is a help or a hindrance?

LD – As an independent artist especially, I think social media is a huge necessity and a gift! It allows me to connect with people I would have otherwise never met. It also provides me with the opportunity to learn and grow as a human being and artist. My Lights say so many insightful and amazing things. <3

SMC – When can we expect your EP to drop?

LD – June! Right before my West Coast Tour! 😀

SMC – How many songs are you planning on having on the EP?

LD – Five!

SMC – Where is your biggest fan base?

LD – So far I would have to say Facebook. My Lights are all over the world in random sporadic niches so its hard to pin point a physical location.

SMC – I love that your name ‘Lucien’ means ‘Light’ and that you refer to your fans as ‘Lights’ – can you tell us why?

LD – I say they are my ‘Lights’ because I believe it is through someone else’s support, exposure and sharing of you, that you are illuminated to the world beyond yourself.

SMC – I saw that you are doing some wicked costume designs for a recent photoshoot! Can you tell us about the concepts and theme?

LD – Yes! Apart from music and art, fashion design is my other primary creative platform and 2017 is the year that I will finally be able to start showing that in a very realized way! I’M SO EXCITED! The garments are rather experimental since I am completely self taught. They also don’t exactly fall into one category since they are all very different. One thing is certain and that is that they are all extravagant garments that aesthetically embody my feelings regarding my self-identity and complex, multi-dimensional gender and sexuality.

SMC – I referred to you as a ‘celestial being’ in a SMC post on our Instagram. Is that the first time you have heard that from anyone?

LD – Hahaha! No, it is not the first time I have heard that, which makes me laugh! It seems to be a common theme, but I feel that it’s not uncalled for based on the aesthetic that I have ha-ha.

SMC – I am going to ask a similar question about spirituality as I asked in the IMM interview but with a little twist: what are your thoughts on how you are best portraying your infidelity and personal beliefs?

LD – I understand that you’re asking me, in which way do I best portray that I am not a part of an organized religion, and rather an advocator for, and an example of individual spirituality? This is a tough question to navigate ha-ha! I think that I represent myself as a generous, unique human being with a very self-manifested sense of purpose, vision and spiritual identity, and that resonates when people get to know me.

SMC – Has there ever been a time where you have been criticized for your spirituality and if so, how did you handle it?

LD – From what I can remember, no one other than close friends have criticized or critiqued my spirituality. My sense of my spirituality is my sense of self and myself, and it changes and evolves as I do. I love to have conversations about complex intricate things, so it’s always a rewarding and evocative experience that I always appreciate.

SMC – What is the most off the wall thing you have done for your art?

LD – When I performed at the Teddy Awards a few years ago, the French arts associate for APEPAC (a France-based cultural arts association, and promotor and advocator for beauty and the arts) saw my performance on his television and had his assistant call me. He invited me to fly out to France to put on a few concerts around his town and to meet some lovely people. I said yes! It was amazing and magical and life changing. He remains a unique friend and business investor of mine today!

SMC – What is the one thing you would say ‘no’ to in terms of sacrificing who you are for the sake of fame?

LD – I think that the possibility of my brand and concept and practice of my career is something that is contingent on my ability and opportunity to express myself and have my success directly represent that. So, no need for saying no!

SMC – You are going to be entered into our Artist of the Year 2017 competition in June. So far, the highest fan votes in our competition was by SMITHRADIO and that was for February 2017. What are your thoughts on the AOY competition – do you think the ‘lights’ are up to the task?

LD – SMITHRADIO has a pretty big army! I think it’s beautiful and wonderful that I’m being entered into the AOY competition! I’m eager to discover the other artists and I’m pumped and I’m excited to get into that go go go mindset again! I definitely think that my Lights are up to the task. We’re a growing family and the things that I am creating and releasing soon will hopefully inspire and reach more and more people in the coming months!

SMC – Can you describe for our readers what the evolution of Lucien Dante was like? When did you have that ‘Ah ha’ moment when you knew music was your destiny?

LD – Actually, I first decided that I would use my first and middle name as my stage name when I was practicing signature aesthetics back when I was fifteen or sixteen. I used to have a strong stutter and it comes back a little every now and then when I speak. I realized that I had a hard time saying Lucien Lazar, which is my first and last name, so I decided Lucien Dante was easier, sounded more public, and still represented who I am. When I was sixteen I went to Germany on a foreign exchange trip. I fell in love for the first time, and I ended up writing a lot of piano ballads ha-ha. My exchange student and very close friend let me use his GarageBand to produce my acoustic sets into my first pop songs and then helped me upload them into SoundCloud. I created my first album, First Breath! 😀 For the next five or so years I just wrote tons and tons of songs on GarageBand and then Logic and then Ableton. I got signed three years ago and began working with other producers which eventually allowed for the creation of my first album Our Of We, which I released in June of 2015. A little over a year ago, I stopped working with other producers and started to harness my production skills. Brainheart is a triumph of all that hard work and my upcoming EP will be a grandiose personal success and public announcement of myself as a strong, self-created artist! I’m so excited!

SMC- I have listened to the ‘Our Of We’ album in its entirety and there is such variety! Was it intentional to have the music so diverse?

LD – Yes! With the addition of the physical album design, I wanted to create something that would represent me as a multimedia artist, writer and producer. It was definitely a product of searching and discovery as well! I look back on that album as an integral and life-changing experience for me.

SMC – Will there be a theme in your new EP?

LD – That’s an amazing question because I haven’t asked myself that yet! Ha-ha. I think the theme will be self-empowerment, diversity and exploration!

SMC – What is the kind of feedback that you have received from industry professionals and how did you react?

LD – All the feedback I have received has been so positive and encouraging. So far industry professionals have let me know I’m on the right track! 🙂

SMC – What is the comment you hear most from your fans about your music in terms of feedback?

LD – Many of my Lights say that my music calms them and relieves them of anxiety, which touches my heart. Others say it is angelic! Ha-ha, which makes me laugh and feel joyful. I remember one of my Lights said that my music is energetic yet peaceful, which is exactly how I think of it, so that was beautiful to hear.

SMC – Which social media platform do you prefer the most to interact with your fans?

LD – Facebook and Instagram!

SMC – When will you know that you have reached the level of success in terms of you career? In other words, what does success in the music industry mean to you?

LD – Success lays on many different levels and there are many different stages of success that have made me feel and will continue to make me feel accomplished. Before I die, however, I hope my career has become much greater and impactful and energizing than a traditional music career. I am an artist, a musician, a fashion designer, a poet, and so many more things. Success for me is ultimately changing the world for the better by utilizing my gifts in a soulful, life-filled way.

SMC – I would love to know your family background – many of the Musicians I interview have some sort of musical background….

LD – My father is a super hard working retailer and an amazing singer songwriter with a gorge voice 😀 He sings and plays piano, guitar, harmonica and a wooden flute. My mother used to play flute as well, but is mostly a very artistically aware person who is super wise, hard working, intelligent and generous. I’m half Jewish and half Catholic by birth. I have six siblings and they are all extremely unique intelligent people who are so much a part of who I am.

SMC – At what point in your career to date have you felt most comfortably and authentically you?

LD – NOW!

SMC – If given the choice, what country would you most like to perform in and why? (aside from North America)

LD – I would love to perform in Mexico because of its beautiful culture and lovely people, and also Japan. I think Japan has such a unique culture and artistic aesthetic both in and outside of music, it would be amazing to experience it! And Germany of course! Where it all began <3 I miss you!

SMC – What is going to be happening for you career-wise in the next 12 months? Can you give us some hints?

LD – I will be going on my debut tour! 😀 I will also be doing regular live dates around Los Angeles, and as always, I will be releasing new music, new art and a whole lot of incredible photo shoots revealing the creations and evolution of my First Official Fashion Collection. I will be revealing new garments every few months <3

SMC – Your Bio on your Facebook page says ‘I believe that we all come to this planet with a mission. To find ourselves, me must begin looking. To look for ourselves, we must be passionate, driven, curious, and empty for what is not there….’ Wow – those are some deep thoughts Lucien and your words resonate with me. When did you first begin to cultivate the wisdom and insight within you?

LD – I’ve spoken about my mother a lot, and rightly so. I think my mother is an extremely wise individual who radiates her wisdom, and sense and example of self realization and purpose out to everyone around her. Her wisdom and love combined with my father’s amazing love and artistic energy are the building blocks for who I am and I believe that it is truly the biggest part of myself. I’ve also had the privilege and hardship of having quite a few advisors in my life. At every point in my life I have always had a close elder friend to learn and grow from and they have most certainly aided in defining and enabling me.

SMC – When did you feel it was time to voice those thoughts?

LD – As I’ve grown up, I’ve become more aware of my individuality and through that, I’ve become able to understand and voice my thoughts and ideas. 🙂

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us one thing you would like to improve on in terms of your career, personally, or in any aspect and why?

LD – I want to work on creating a stunning live show that resonates with myself and the audience, and I want it to be consistent and pure and inspiring. I also want to get faster at my craft because I have so many things to do! I’m so eager and excited to share my new things! <3

SMC – Thank You Lucien! Welcome to the SMC family! We wish you luck for the AOY competition in June!

LD – Thank you so much and I look forward to it SMC!

#LightsFamily <3 SMCFamily

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Lucien Dante’s Social Media Links (click to view):

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

SoundCloud

Spotify

YouTube

Biography

Los Angeles based, Chicago born, Germany refined Vocalist, Musician, Producer and Multimedia Artist Lucien Dante has always been attentive to mastering his craft. Though a skilled musician, designer, sculptor and painter, most of his attention rests in harnessing his voice. His sound fits into the musical genres of pop, EDM, alternative, R&B and acoustic. His sources of inspirations aren’t only rooted in artists he enjoys, but also in the environment surrounding him. For Dante, he has cultivated his voice by recording himself and unfolding his voice’s textures and the textures’ resonance, rather than relying on listening to his inspirations and attempting to mimic – he’s an individual, reverberating with uniqueness. Among the many tracks recorded on his own, he has recorded multiple singles, an EP and an LP since signing to his current label, DEG Records, in early 2015. His latest 18 track LP “Our Of We” brings you along on a spiritual journey with Dante as your guide. Post album he has released two singles, “Do It For The Heart” released early 2016 and the recently released “BrainHeart” A national tour is planned for Spring/Summer 2017.