Olivia Penalva | SMC’s Teen Artist of the Year, ArtistMax, and ‘I Choose This Love’

In June 2016, Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) ran our first Artist of the Year (AOY) event with Adult and Teen Categories. The response to our event was astounding with final vote counts for all Artists in the thousands. Now, with the SMC Artist of the Year Season II amping up, we will be saying hello to a new Artist and our goodbyes to current ones: IAMWARFACE and Miss Olivia Penalva. But with all the mayhem that is about to go down in the next 2 weeks, our Artists of the Year will always be held in high regard and supported by the SMC platform. They are SMC Family, after all. In fact, when we look to the future of SMC and our annual events and the global attention within the industry, it would not be too far of a stretch to say we are considering a five and ten year Artist of the Year concert series. More on that later….

In the time that British Columbia based Olivia Penalva has reigned as SMC’s Teen Artist of the Year, she has launched an EP, performed across Canada live on several radio shows, launched several music videos, did a cover of The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’ which landed in a TV commercial in Greece, and has even attended an ArtistMax (www.artistmax.org) weekend in Los Angeles where she met with Award Winning Producer Ken Caillat and Award-Winning Artist David Foster. Part of the win as AOY on our platform was a VIP Scholarship to the ArtistMax event where Olivia was mentored by these industry peers (more on that in our interview below).

Recently, Olivia launched her new single ‘I Choose This Love’ a brilliant co-write with Robin Ghosh (more on that below too) over a David’s Tea and Smarties (yes, really!). The song is about how love pulls us through some of the most challenging times of our lives and is an absolute MUST for your playlists. In fact, we have added the song already to our Spotify playlists ‘SMC Editor’s Favorites’ and ‘SMC Spotlight Artists’.

In reviewing this single, I can say that this song is Olivia, evolved. Her earlier singles like ‘Ferris Wheel’ and ‘Outshine The Stars’ while inspirational and fun in their make – up (it was Ferris Wheel where I discovered Olivia after all in a Reverbnation contest SMC ran with Bongo Boy TV), ‘I Choose This Love’ is a step up for Olivia in terms of a more mature lyrical progression. Her strong vocal ability is never a disappointment in all of her music – it is consistent and fluid throughout. However, in ‘I Choose This Love’, you can audibly hear how she’s grown into her own and just like fine wine, she keeps getting better.

The video for ‘I Choose This Love’ is also evident of Olivia’s personal growth with a theme demonstrating the struggles and triumphs that a gay couple face in their heterosexual environment that surrounds them. Acceptance and disapproval are heavily woven throughout and lend power to the purpose of this song. I applaud Olivia for having compassion and fearlessness beyond her years in terms of addressing real issues in society today through her music such as in ‘Outshine The Stars’, a song about self-confidence and celebrating our uniqueness. Similarly, ‘I Choose This Love’ isn’t a video you would expect from someone so young in an industry primarily saturated with Artists focused on egocentric career advancement. It boils down to one thing: this is Olivia, and she will always dance to the beat of her own drum in terms of her music: she is fearless, selfless, and unafraid to make change in the world. Her goals are personally driven and not industry based meaning, she addresses the real issues in our world and not just what the music industry typically expects of someone so talented and young: a flowery, over the top ‘all about me’ glamour video. This is the stuff that makes an Artist celebrated by us on the SMC platform simply for their ability to adapt to their environment with grace, consistency, and integrity. She continues to be a beacon of light and hope to disadvantaged groups in society through her music – how can we not all applaud that?

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SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | Olivia Penalva

SMC – Hello Olivia! We have so much to talk about since our last interview! Let’s begin with your run as our TEEN Artist of the Year (AOY) – what was your experience like?

Olivia – Hi Candice, so great of you to do another interview with me. I am always grateful for these opportunities. It for sure was so amazing to have won AOY! Aside from the great spotlight you did of me and my music, I got other interviews and media attention and support throughout the year, not to mention the bragging rightsJ.

SMC – One of the benefits of becoming the TEEN AOY was being awarded a VIP Scholarship to the ArtistMax 3-day event in Los Angeles. You attended in late March 2017 – can you tell us about your experience with the weekend?

Olivia – That was definitely a fantastic prize to win. I got to go to LA and spend three intensive days working with very talented industry professionals and meet other artists. I had a terrific time. I was pretty nervous and not sure what to expect but enjoyed it, learnt lots, and made some nice friends as well.

SMC – We saw that you also met Grammy Award Winning Artist David Foster while you were there! Can you tell us what advice he gave that you took with you?

Olivia – Pretty cool to have met him. He is a legend. Basically he was straightforward and told us how hard this business is, which is probably better than sugar coating it.

SMC – What was it like to meet with our industry friends Ken Caillat and Bridge Gardiner?

Olivia – Bridge is super sweet and definitely made the weekend what it was. She seems to really enjoy these mentorship weekends and working with us artists. Ken Caillat is also a legend, and it is inspiring to be mentored by someone who worked with Fleetwood Mac and other greats.

Olivia Penalva, bottom row, far left, at the ArtistMax event in March 2017 where she met with Award Winning Producer Ken Caillat and Award Winning Composer David Foster. Photo Credit: ArtistMax

 

SMC – If you were asked why you would recommend the ArtistMax program, what would you say to someone wanting an understanding of the program?

Olivia – I would definitely suggest it to those artists who have not had a lot of songwriting experience, or who have not collaborated much with other artists. We were put in groups and had to come up with a song and perform it at the end. Working with 5 other artists for one main goal like that can be difficult, as everyone has a different opinion or style for what they see. It was pretty intensive. Also great for artists who have not had much if any studio time, as we got to record in the studio with Ken Caillat and his team. Though I have had quite a bit of experience with songwriting and working in the studio, I did enjoy working with other artists my age and collaborating together. We also worked with a vocal coach (Colbie Caillat’s) and a performance coach, and got to meet industry reps and managers. All in all it was a positive and rewarding experience. Thank you so much Candice for that!

SMC- Now let’s get into your Music – your new single ‘I Choose This Love’ is just beautiful in composition and sound. Did you write the lyrics for this song?

Olivia – Yes, I wrote this song last summer as an acoustic track with my favorite songwriter, Robin Ghosh. We write most of my songs together. I have written with several others, but Robin and I just seem to click and usually it is the songs we wrote together that I end up releasing.

SMC – Can you tell us five things about the making of this song that no one knows about? (they can be fun facts)

Olivia – Ha ha well I think the idea literally popped into Robin’s brain at like 3 in the morning, so later that day when we sat down to write, he told me about his idea, and a couple hours later, we had the song. I think we may have been eating smarties and drinking David’s tea when we wrote it… And I am pretty sure I had a candle burning in my studio to create the mood J. When we were talking about the song, we were thinking about how love gets you through stuff. Whether it be love of a partner, a parent, a friend, a child, and that being there for someone no matter what is what everyone is looking for.

SMC – What has the media support been like for this single so far?

Olivia – I have the best publicist who does an amazing job of getting my music some media attention, whether it be blogs, or interviews. Often from that the social medial support can spiral with shares on Facebook or twitter. This time Spotify actually added it at the time of the release to a new pop music playlist, which was awesome because it got me over 60,000 streams.

SMC – What was the fan support like when you released this single?

Olivia – I have some great loyal fans who like my music, so they were quick to comment on You Tube on my lyric video for the song that came out at the same time. I also had great support as I mentioned on Spotify and even SoundCloud, where I have a decent number of steady followers.

SMC – The video is equally as gorgeous as the song – who is the creative team behind the video?

Olivia – I am really proud of this video. It tells the love story that this song is all about. I have to give major credits to my Videographer Lee Watkins of LMW Photos. We were initially brainstorming for a video with all kinds of different love, but realized how difficult that could be in less than three minutes, and so we decided to focus on one love story and the ups and downs of that. The two main characters are actually friends of ours and did such a great job of sharing their love story and their dreams. Lee directed and filmed this over three days, and the results are so emotional and inspiring. Everyone in the video is from Vernon, and everyone just stepped up and either acted in it, or gave us locations to film at. We had an amazing team in front of and behind the camera.

SMC – Where and who produced this song?

Olivia – This song was ultimately produced by a young man named Alex Klingle, a Vancouver BC based music producer, composer, and sound designer who has his music roots in electronic dance. My manager met him at a music event and played him the track, and Alex was on board.

SMC – Who is your ‘go-to’ dream team?

Olivia – Well first of all, I have the best team ever!!! So not sure if I would need to dream one up, unless you are taking about song writing – Ed Sheeran all the way!! A duet with him would be pretty nice. Seriously though, I do have a great team and they are there for me whenever I need them, from my managers Andrew Allen & Julia Allen, to my writing partner Robin Ghosh, my Radio Promoter Scott Clements, my Videographer and Photographer Lee Watkins, my Publicist Sera Roadnight, and my beauty team, Brit Fisher and Jessie Voss.

SMC – What are your thoughts on being the only TEEN to have been supported as Artist of the Year on our Platform? We moved to an ‘adult only’ competition for Season II of these events….

Olivia – Well I would have to say AMAZING!!! And thank you! It is hard to be an artist, let alone a teen artist, as somehow our age always plays against us. I have often heard, too young, music is too young, not fit for the demographic, and make yourself look older… But instead I believe in myself and my art, and I write what I know, which changes as I grow up, and people respond to my music, so for those platforms that do support us teens, I am truly grateful.

SMC – We have seven Judges for the Artist of the Year event this month – Last year, we had five from various categories. Can you tell us if and what your connection was to last years’ Judges?

Olivia – Wow, that is a lot of judges. Well I can thank Candice for sure as she actually discovered me through another competition that my Ferris Wheel video won, through an SMC sponsored Bongo Boy video competition. Through the ‘SMC Artist of the Month Competition’, I got to know Randy Wayne Belt, frontman for Barley Station, who is super supportive of my music and even wrote a super nice article about it also.

SMC – I have seen that your single ‘Skyline’ was added to many radio shows last fall – can you tell us which stations you would like to acknowledge in this interview for their consistent support?

Olivia – I can’t believe how well Skyline did. It was chosen for the month of October 2016 as Bell Media’s iHeartRadio’s Future star at CHR, then chosen again in November for iHeartRadio’s Future Star at Hot AC and AC Radio. So it played across Canada on all Virgin Radio Stations across Canada, and SUN FM here in BC, Chum FM in Toronto, all of which was just so amazing. It also got played by several other stations, many of which are in Ontario and who have been great supporters like 103.1 FM in London Fresh, FM in Kitchener, Mix FM in Belleville, and Kiss FM and the Jump FM in Ottawa, to name a few. The Maritimes have also been good to me with spins from CING FM in Hamilton, CKCW FM in Moncton, the list goes on… I am so grateful to all of the stations who took a chance on me and hope they will continue to want to support me with my new single I Choose This Love.

SMC – Where do you feel the focus is with regards to your management team in terms of getting your music promoted to the masses?

I Choose This LoveI think it is to just keep on doing what we are doing, trying to put out good music that my publicist and radio promoter can get out to radio and social media.

SMC – Do you feel that platforms like Spotify or Pandora are the way of the future in terms of music play and getting your music in high rotation?

Olivia – It seems to be the way. Most of my music sales are from Spotify. ITunes is the no longer the favorite platform, and I guess platforms like Spotify do make it easier and I guess cheaper for listeners to find and compile playlists. I have a decent following on Spotify with almost 860,000 streams of my music. Spotify also create cool playlists and I have been lucky enough to have had Skyline Madlucky Remix included last year on a workout playlist, and I Choose This Love on a new music playlist.

SMC – We consider you to be a part of the SMC Family now and we will be looking at the possibilities of hosting a SMC Concert for charity in the next 5-10 years. What are your thoughts on that?

Olivia – Well thank you do much for thinking of me that way. I am honored and would love to be a part of your charity event!

SMC – Recently, Limehead Radio in the UK has reached out to SMC and have expressed interest in supporting the Artists on our platform – what do you think about being supported on a multi-media platform?

Olivia – I think that is fantastic. This industry gets harder and harder and so any support that one platform can get or give to another is valuable. Internet radio is getting popular as it is free for its listeners and often will play non top 40 tunes and indie artists, so a great platform for emerging artists to get heard.

SMC – Which Social Media Platform is your favorite?

Olivia – Personally I love Snapchat and Instagram. For music, twitter and Facebook still seem to be more popular, and of course the most effective is You Tube. This year I hit 1,000,000 views on YT and am almost at 10,000 subscribers. It is a great way to get noticed for your covers and then you hope your fans will like your originals too. You never know where a cover might lead. Last fall I did a cover of Every Breath You Take with a fellow artist, and randomly it was pitched by Universal to a client of their in Greece, and now it plays on a commercial on Greece. This has really helped my YT channel growth as I have a lot of new fans who either found me through Shazam of the commercial, or looked me up on YT. Very cool to have a growing fan base in another country.

SMC – Do you work all of your Social Media or does someone do it for you?

Olivia – I do it all myself, which means that sometimes I get behind in posting and sharing stuff, and thanking my fans for their love and support. I plan to use the summer to catch up and get on top of it.

SMC – What has been the best experience in your career to date?

Olivia – Wow, there are so many. Meeting and performing with Andrew Allen back in 2013, working with Brian West on Ferris Wheel, writing at the Toby Gad Studios in 2014 on Forgettable, being at the She’s the One comp in Ottawa 2014, Artistmax 2017, being on a billboard in Edmonton, winning iHeartRadio Future Star 2016. I feel very lucky for it all.

SMC – What has been a not so pleasant experience in your career to date?

Olivia – Radio visits where the MD or PD doesn’t seem really interested or asks some very hard questions. You feel so fortunate to be able to be welcomed into their stations and work so hard to show them your music, but sometimes it just doesn’t click and you have to be okay with that too.

SMC – Can you tell us which competitions you have won in the last five years? Which was your favorite?

Olivia – I have been in quite a few and made it pretty far, like top ten She’s the one at the Ottawa Blues Fest, winning top EP at the Independent Music Awards for Weightless 2016, top Holiday Song for Christmas For Two at the Independent Music awards 2016, Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 Video cover for H.O.L.Y. 2016, Ferris Wheel 1st Runner up in Radio Airplay Summer Music Comp 2015,  top 15 finalist in the International Song Writing Competition for Fight For You 2015, Artist of the Month and then TEEN Artist of the Year with SMC 2016. It felt great to get the results I did in all of them, but I can say winning the SMC Artist of the Year 2016 that was a real compliment as I was up against some real talent, and the prize to go to ArtistMax was so valuable, and SMC has since been just such wonderful supporters of my music.

SMC – How do you feel music competitions help Artists?

Olivia – First it gets the artist and their music out there for others to see. It also gives the artist confidence to put themselves out there. Winning feels very validating, but you also learn not to beat yourself up to much if you don’t win. Public votes are hard as it can really depend on many people an artists can rally to vote for them, and judge voted ones are very satisfying given that industry professionals validate your work. At the end of the day music is very subjective, and you have to take the negative that may come out of a competition and work harder and make your music better.

SMC – How do you feel about the kinds of Grants and Funding options available to Artists in Canada as opposed to other countries? Do you feel Canadians are at an advantage over other countries?

Olivia – I can’t speak for what is out there in other countries, but I can say that there are lots of grants available to Canadian Artists, you just have to know where to look, and work hard to put an application together to get them as you are up against other determined artist. Factor Canada gives away several grants a year for emerging artists, for marketing, for song production, etc. Storyhive gives away grants for music videos, I know the British Columbia, Canadian Government also now has grants for Artists. The application process can be overwhelming and using a grant writer often helps the process. I have been fortunate to have received a couple Factor grants and am so grateful for them as they are helping me continue my music journey.

SMC – Can you tell us about your song for the Salvation Army titled ‘Fight For You’? How do you hope to benefit this organization through this song?

Olivia – When I released the song in 2013, I was inspired to do something as that particular year we had a very cold winter and I just could not imagine what it must be like to have no home or shelter to go to. I knew that my impact would be small, but felt that whatever I could do I would do. So, I decided to annually donate any proceeds of the sale of Fight For You to the Salvation Army. We have had a couple good years where I was able to donate a couple hundred dollars a year. I hope to continue to give back where and how I can through my music.

SMC – You have a really cool section on  your website titled, “These are a few of my favorite things’ – some of those things listed in the menu are: Little White Lies, David’s Tea, Fluevog Shoes, Lush, Quay Australia, wildflower cases, Nars, Kylie Cosmetics, Aritzia, and mAAJI. Have any of these companies stepped up to become sponsors of your music?

Olivia – That would be a dream come true!!! Not at the moment, but of course I would welcome any opportunity. I am a big online browser of beauty and fashion goods. I love Pinterest as you can see so many beautiful things. And I love to write about those things, so I thought why not have a page on my website where fans can see what I am all about. I always have an online shopping cart full of items that I will never actually end up buying, but just love to look at clothes and makeup.

SMC – I see you have some tours coming up as well! Can you tell us the where and when of each date?

Olivia – Yes, I am excited to be touring a bit this summer. I will start of the summer on June 23rd in Edmonton at the ‘Edmonton Chante Festival’ at la Cite Francophone at 7:15 pm celebrating Canada’s 150 years. Then on June 24th I am performing at the ‘Works Art & Design Festival’ at Winston Churchill Square at 3:45 pm. I am also doing a cool local venue at ‘Predator Ridge on the Patio’ from 5:00 – 7:00 pm on June 27. Then off to New Westminster to perform at a Canada Day celebration at Queens Park at 11:35 am, then some private concerts until early August where I will do a sweet local event called ‘Jammin For Justice’ Wednesday August 2, from 12:00 – 1:30. Then back to Vancouver August 11 to perform at ‘Coquitlam’s Summer Concert Series’ where you can find me at 7 pm at the ‘Towne Centre Park Plaza’ Stage. And maybe a few more here and there.

SMC – Do you have any tours planned for the fall and winter months?

Olivia – I do have a couple private events in the fall, but not much else planned yet as I will be in my final year of school, and I like to use the fall and winter months to work on songwriting and potential releases, but I am always open to performing any time of the year if my schedule permits it.

SMC – Can you tell us about the possibility of an album or EP release in the near future?

Olivia – Yes well for sure a new single coming end of the summer, then working on potentially a full length album for next year. I have a lot of songwriting plans so hopefully something good will come out of it all!

SMC – Last question: If I were not pursuing a career as a Musician, I would be…….

Olivia – An interior designer!

SMC – Well Thank You Olivia! It has been a pleasure having you on our platform the last year as our TEEN Artist of the Year – we wish you all the best going forward!

Olivia – Thank you so much for your continued support. I truly appreciate it.

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Olivia’s Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube

iTunes

 

 

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.