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

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

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

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

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

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

Palaye Royale North American Headline Tour 2017

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

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

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

VIP Acoustic Performance

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

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

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

Live Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s my summation of this event:

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

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

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

Boom Boom Room Side A | Album Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palaye Royale Historical Timeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why? Because they. Never. Stop.

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

-Earlier Accomplishment History-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palaye Royale Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

YouTube

iTunes

Spotify

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Chris Watkins
photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

SMC Spotlight Exclusive Interview | Chris Watkins/Drunk Poets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris – Twitter

Chris Watkins
Photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris – Calvinist chic.

SMC – What instrument do you create your songs on?

Chris – The guitar.

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

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

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

Chris – ‘Cheerleader in Love‘.

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

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

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

Chris –

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

Going Down Slow (1994) A picture of psycho sociological

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

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

Winter Birds (2013) An act of sheer desperation

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

Lights All Askew (2016) Twilight on tape

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

Chris – Exponentially.

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

Chris – I could not ask for more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Watkins
Photo courtesy: Chris Watkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris – Staying alive.

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

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

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

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

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

Chris – The dangerous ones.

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

Chris – Snow on the telephone wire.

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

Chris – Lick Napoleon’s boots.

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

Chris – yes.

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

Chris – I am focusing on finishing my next album.

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

Chris – Corpse.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Candice Anne Marshall | Editor

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Ada Pasternak photo courtesy: Ada Pasternak

Exclusive Interview | Ada Pasternak 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, I wrote it.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – Are there any other instruments that you play?

Ada – I play Piano a little bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do Live-Streams on ConcertWindow.com

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Ada!

Ada –  I hate goat cheese.

My favourite Disney movie growing up was Aladdin

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

I used to have my nose pierced.

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

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Ada Pasternak photo courtesy: Ada Pasternak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Victory Dance
Photo courtesy: Victory Dance

SMC Spotlight Exclusiv Interview | Victory Dance | August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – Will there be an album release in 2017?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – What would you say is your signature style?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – What has been your greatest triumph so far?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bobby: We’d never kill a unicorn.

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – Which Social Media platform is your favorite?

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – Where are most of your fans located?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Victory Dance Photo Courtesy: Victory Dance

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

By Candice Anne Marshall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

Exclusive Interview | Sammy Brue | July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – What will you not part with and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

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

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

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

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

SMC – What impresses you in the music industry?

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – Are you already working on more music?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sammy Brue Social Media (click to view)

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SMC Spotlight Series No. 4 | Dan Davidson ‘Say We Did’ Review & Exclusive Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

Just as I suspected, Country Music Rising Star, Edmonton based Dan Davidson has launched yet another gold single today with his newest single ‘Say We Did’. Let’s start with that video though…. once again Davidson manages to stretch the traditional ‘country music video’ boundaries by going completely left field with this latest production. The cast and crew assembled in blistering 31-degree Celsius heat among the Hoodoos of Drumheller, Alberta fully prepared to melt their faces off (literally) for the sake of running around in polyester costumes, playing instruments and living out their love for Star Trek. This might seem like a wild choice for a Canadian Country Musician considering most have videos filmed in wheat field/tractor variety, but I assure you, this isn’t a wild choice for Dan Davidson whose wicked sense of humor and personality shines through here. In fact, the last several videos have seen Davidson in a moose costume performing live with his furry friend creatures or walking the streets of Tokyo in an all-white Cowboy ensemble unabashedly playing his guitar for an unsuspecting crowd of Asian onlookers. There isn’t anything like this on the planet and fans have come to expect this originality as a Dan Davidson trademark and staple and it’s a wild ride. For this alone, I feel the man is genius.

We have had several Spotlight features with Davidson going back to June 2015 where his very well-received debut single as a Country Music Artist was ‘Unkiss Her’. This was followed by ‘Found’ in March 2016, and ‘Barn Burner’ in October 2016. Although the single releases have been spread out, all the traction and attention they have received on radio and press, (including radio tours and live performances) there really hasn’t been a slack moment for this up and coming Country Music Legend.

In addition to his own thriving music career, Davidson is responsible for shaping the music careers of many well-known Artists in the Edmonton community via HandsUp Music along with his partner in crime Mr. Ari Rhodes. I have personally seen Davidson behind-the-scenes at many live performances for his Artists such as Bryan Finlay and Lexi Strate making sure that their equipment is running smoothly for their shows or even helping to orchestrate video shoots for them. He is a mecca of knowledge within the music community in Edmonton and has even written several successful grants for many Musicians in order to complete many of their own video projects. The man wears many hats and for those who don’t know and are just discovering him for the first time today, Davidson has also fronted the Canadian Rock Band Tupelo Honey for several years prior to his recent success in his solo project. You will want to check that out too!

With the new single ‘Say We Did’ out today, I am confident that this is going to be yet another well-received, unique feel-good hit we have come to know from this Artist. Klingons and Borgs in polyester suits aside, this truly iconic, fun, ‘Dan Davidson’ sound in its instrumental composition and lyrical strength. When we look at his work with Tupelo Honey, this song has shades of that ‘Halo’  grandiosity with a Country Music twist and I am very happy to hear it. This translates to a truly original sound that cannot be emulated: legendary. While Davidson is presently sowing the seeds in the music industry with hit after hit, he is simultaneously leading up to a full-length album (fall, 2017) which we are confident will blow the lid off this combustible musical force making Dan Davidson a global household name.

Be ready world, the Dan Davidson storm is coming!

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | Dan Davidson | July 2017

SMC – Dan! We are thrilled to have you on our SMC SPOTLIGHT again! We have been following your career since June of 2015 when our contributor Randy Wayne Belt interviewed you for our platform. Since, we have had you featured three times in our Spotlight Numbered Series. What are your thoughts on us chronicling your career journey as Dan Davidson?

Dan – I really appreciate all the support! Its nice to have you guys on board from the start 🙂 Hopefully I can keep giving you something to talk about!

SMC – We have always been tapped into your new releases and with the release of ‘Say We Did’ today, can you tell us what you are most excited about with this release?

Dan Well this song is something that was really strategically complicated from a creative standpoint. I wanted to give radio something familiar (the upbeat front porch sound of Found and Barn Burner) yet something new and different to show I’m not just a one trick pony. I’m really confident that my producer and I nailed it on this one. I’m happy to get material out that really sounds like me. I feel that most of my songs aren’t just tunes that could be interchangeable with other artists, its something I’m proud of.

SMC – All week prior to the video launch of the single, we saw some pretty wicked sneak peeks of a Start Trek clad cast and crew…. can you tell us how the idea for this video came about?

Dan – Its just another worst “best idea ever”! Travis (the director), Russ (the assistant director) and I had some really crazy concepts planned for this. More travel related videos but thought, again, we should switch it up. Be spontaneous and unpredictable. We all love Star Trek and somehow got on the topic of buying costumes as a joke. Then it all kind of clicked in for us – we needed to do a spoof in the most DIY possible.

SMC – It was all shot in your garage and your wife couldn’t park in it for a week…. did she at least get flowers or a nice dinner out? (laughs) All kidding aside, your videos have become quite personal and homegrown… can you tell us why you have continued this trend?

Dan – Haha well, she gets a cameo in the video and hopefully her sacrifice helps to bring about a successful single and some sales money haha! Yea I think there are FAR too many riverbanks, dirt roads, wheat fields, and bars in country video. Videos are a real chance for me to communicate my personality and set my self apart. I’m definitely not one to fear straying from the norm. I think it’s a major strength of mine. I have the indie freedom to really do whatever I want – so I’m going to ride that out!

SMC – All your music videos are pretty epic to be honest. Epic and quite funny! Is this the signature ‘Dan Davidson’ style we can come to expect in future videos?

Dan – 100% I love it! Its fun for me. Its also great to hang out with all my creative friends and make some memories as professional grown up children.

SMC – Who is the creative team behind the video?

Dan – The video and concept was written by Travis Nesbitt, Russ Dawson, and myself. It was all shot by Trav and Russ as well.

SMC – The song itself is a genuinely pretty song with that classic upbeat sound we have come to know. Is this another co-write with Clayton Bellamy?

Dan – Nope, this one was co-written by Dave Thompson (remember Wave in the 90s? Yea him. We call him Dwave), and also with Travis Wood (Tim Hicks, James Barker Band)

SMC – What would you say is your unique Dan Davidson ‘signature’?

Dan – I’d say just honest music, with a little personality, and an indie DIY touch.

SMC – When you are about to embark on writing and production of a new single, what is your process?

Dan – Well for this one, I headed down to Nashville to write for a week. Landed a pretty good tune with a co-write, then looked at a list of about 30 songs with my publisher, radio team, and producer and narrowed it down. From there, I sent the demo to my producer and we began to fumble with the keys and tempos. Then we starting working on the arrangement. From there I began tracking a guide vocal. After that we started getting all the instruments in place, then I recorded my final vocals from my studio in Edmonton and sent them to my producer Jeff in Toronto.

SMC – I read recently that your previous single ‘Found’ is only 1000 streams away from being a Canadian Gold single! We are thrilled to see this happening for you! Can you tell us which song has been receiving the most attention so far (aside from ‘Say We Did’ today)?

Dan – Not 1000 streams, but 1000-unit single sales (150 streams = 1 sale). So a combination of streaming and sales equaling 1000. Yea its pretty crazy – basically unheard of for an indie artist to land a gold record. Its definitely a career milestone for me! Well Found definitely was the song that broke through. Other than that, Barn Burner is really the only song out! (Which also was top 20 and a major success for me!)

SMC – When we look at having a successful ‘summer release’ when, in your opinion, is the perfect time to launch a new single, EP, or full-length album?

Dan – There is never a good time in Canada anymore – but that doesn’t stop me. Found went out during ratings and Barn Burner went out before Christmas…both terrible times to go. Right now we are competing against more great CanCon than I’ve ever seen. Space is limited but I think we will see some great support out there J

SMC – What has been your best social media strategy so far?

Dan – Make great content, and keep giving people something to talk about.

SMC – Which social media platform is your favorite to interact with your fans on?

Dan – Instagram.

SMC – Do you always launch a video at the same time the single is released to all major music platforms?

Dan – Not really, Found and Barn Burner came out a few months after the song was out. This time we are trying to use the video to leverage attention for the single so we decided to go at the same time.

SMC – Can you share with us what the outcome was for the ‘Dan Davidson’ guitar contest and what it was all about….

Dan – It was a contest to help spread the word about MusiCounts (an organization that helps to bring music and music education to kids across Canada that couldn’t always afford it). I talked to people and radio stations all across the country and raised some great awareness for the cause! A kid from Stony Plain AB won the guitar last week.

SMC – You have recently won Country Recording of the Year for your single ‘Found’ at the Edmonton Music Awards last week! Congrats! With the Canadian Country Music Awards around the corner, do know yet if you have been nominated?

Dan – I’m still in the running in the 2nd ballot, we find out if I’m a nominee in any category on July 12th I believe!

SMC –  I read somewhere that 2017 will be the year of ‘Dan Davidson’ – what are your thoughts on claims like that? (see: Canadian Beats year in review (here)

Dan – Well I sure hope so! I try my best to keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing without worrying about what everyone else is up to. I think that’s the best strategy for success!

SMC – Speaking of Awards ceremonies and the awards themselves, what are your thoughts on the decisions of the Country Music Association in terms of who wins, etc.? Do you think there is a trend among different awards ceremonies as in: of one gets chosen for one category in one award ceremony, they are likely to get chosen for the others in the same category for other ceremonies in the same year?

Dan – Hmm id never really put any thought into it. I think the CCMA has a great reputation as an organization that really focus’ on credibility and accountability. Hard to find a better award organization that that. The good thing is nominees are essentially selected by their peers – so If I was picked for multiple categories I would just consider it a major honor.

SMC- Do you think that Country Music today is evolving to a new sound or do you think there will be a resurgence of a classic country sound?

Dan – I think the country scene makes room for every kind of country artist. There are trends that will come and go, but for the most part the awareness of country music and the breadth of the fan base is bigger and better than ever. I just hope that continues.

SMC – I know that I have asked you before why you chose a career in Country Music – now that you have progressed further into your career, can you tell me what your feelings are on making this career decision today?

Dan – Never once looked back. It was the best musical decision I’ve made in my 13-year career so far.

SMC – Again, I would like to talk a moment about your band Tupelo Honey – I saw that the Edmonton Oilers have supported your single ‘Can’t Stop’ – LOVE the tune! Is there anything coming down the pipe new music-wise for the band? SMC- How have your Tupelo Honey band members been supportive of your solo career?

Dan – Nothing new coming down the pipe. We have a bunch of B sides recorded that maybe well release to fans one day – but no plans just yet! The guys have been amazing. That’s the thing about making music with your best buds, there is nothing but support. 2 of the guys (Greg on drums, and Tyler on guitar) that are playing with me now. My show has evolved in such a positive way because of their contributions.

We were all so surprised and pumped up to see that we were the pump up music for the playoffs! All of our phones were exploding with texts.

SMC – I have seen so many Artists keeping consistent with their music and social media yet some never seem to make it to radio or get the support they deserve at the best of times. What do you feel is the disconnect on issues like this?

Dan – Radio is a tricky animal. There are tonnes of cool artists that don’t get radio play – sometimes its about the style, sometimes its about the song (often cool music isn’t ‘hit’ music), sometimes its about politics and team. Radio can’t play everyone, its very competitive. I don’t really have the answer to tell you the truth, I’ve found something that works for me after doing this for well over a decade but there is no real “right way”.

SMC – Where have you felt you have made the best career decision so far in your solo career?

Dan – Just doing what I do, having fun, making music with people I love and trust.

SMC – Indeed you have also been involved in the careers of so many up and coming and currently popular Artists in the Edmonton area – have you been still able to maintain grant writing and production work via Hands Up Music/Studio?

Dan – I basically hate grant writing, so I only do it for me and a few other artists I’m involved in BUT I still work tirelessly with Hands Up! Music. Ari and I have produced a tonne of great records this year (Ill have to tell ya about a few!). Hands Up! Is going strong and growing rapidly!

SMC – Which of your current Artists would you recommend for an SMC Spotlight next?

Dan – Lexi Strate is always amazing. She’s the real deal, such a cool sound. As for other production gigs – my fav EP we’ve produced lately is The Sissy Fits – its like a gritty Spice Girls meets punk rock.

SMC – We have seen you do sooooo much hard work behind the scenes for other Artists…. where do you find the energy for it?! (laughs)

Dan – I don’t know! I guess I just like to be busy and help people connect the dots that I was able to connect. Passing that karma down the line!

SMC – In terms of your Music Peers, who has been the most supportive of your career strides (aside from your management team)?

Dan – Jeff Dalziel my producer has been with me for 13 years and has produced essentially every professional recording attached to my name. We do whatever we can to continually help and support each other’s businesses. Also Bill Miller who I talk about often. Bill goes the extra mile, well beyond radio promotion. He’s a great sounding board and work horse. My publishers Red Brick Songs are so fully invested in this with me as well. The outpouring of support from my industry friends is paramount to my success.

SMC – Which radio stations have been quick to promote and support your new music?

Dan – Country 93.3 in Fort Mac, JRFM in Vancouver, KX96 in Oshawa, Real Country 95.5 in Red Deer, Country 94 in St. John, and CFCW have been great for early support!

SMC – What are your thoughts on other music platforms (for promotional purposes) like Spotify and Pandora as opposed to traditional radio playlists and shows?

Dan – It’s amazing. Its listener driven, no advertising. Its about organic trends and tastes. To me its not one or the other though. Artists should strive for both if their music fits.

SMC – I have enjoyed seeing your vlogs! They are pretty entertaining (laughs) – where can your fans find them posted and can they subscribe to them?

Dan – Instagram.com/itsdandavidson and Facebook.com/dandavidsonmusic

SMC – You played at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto to a sold-out crowd alongside Chase Rice! Can you tell us if you have any future concert dates or festival dates we can watch out for?

Dan – Sure do!

Peace River, Alberta PEACEFEST W/ Jojo Mason & Aaron Pritchett 07/07/17 12 Foot Davis Events Park 8:00pm
Fort McMurray, AB WILD WEST COUNTRY FEST – W/ WBU & Road Hammers 07/08/17 Snye Point Park 8:00pm
Calgary, Alberta CALGARY STAMPEDE – Headline 07/09/17 Ranchmans 8:00pm
Sevenpersons , AB QUONSET DAYS W/ James Barker Band & Rivertown Saints 07/22/17 Quonset Days Grounds 8:00pm
Edmonton, AB K-DAYS – W/ Corb Lund 07/23/17 K-Days South Stage 8:00pm
Mattawa, Ontario VOYAGEUR DAYS W/ The Road Hammers 07/28/17 Mattawa Museum Grounds 8:00pm
Sarnia, Onatario BLUEWATER BORDER FEST W/ Aaron Goodvin 07/29/17 Centennial Park 8:00pm
Dawson Creek, BC DAWSON CREEK STAMPEDE – Headline 08/11/17 Dawson Creek Stampede 8:00pm
Dawson Creek, BC DAWSON CREEK STAMPEDE – Headline 08/12/17 Dawson Creek Stampede 8:00pm

 

SMC – Will you be performing at Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta again this year?

Dan – No, I wish! I played 2 years in a row. They need a break! Haha

SMC – What is your favorite live performance so far as Dan Davidson?

Dan – London Music Hall W/ Chase Rice earlier this year. It was like an ACDC video. There were people hanging off everything and everyone was screaming the words!

SMC – Are we going to see a full-length album soon?

Dan – I’d say shortly after CCMAs in September we can expect a release!

SMC – Alright – last question: (I don’t think I have ever asked you this on before either)

Can you tell us one thing about yourself as a Musician that you feel sets you apart from your music peers?

Dan – That’s a tough one. My peers are pretty diverse! I’m not sure if I have a good answer. I’m hoping that fans don’t have the answer either. I don’t want what I do to be a gimmick – I’m hoping there is a music brand and a certain something that no one can quick put their finger on that sets me apart. I think that’s how you know its real.

Thanks Dan! It’s always wonderful when we can connect! Keep up with the awesome!

Check out the video for ‘Say We Did’ below!


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Photo Courtesy: Dan Davidson

Dan Davidson Social Media (click to view)

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O’neill Hudson | SMC Exclusive Artist Interview Series No. 1 ‘Lucky’

By Candice Anne Marshall

On June 16th, 2017, Los Angeles-based Singer-Songwriter O’neill Hudson walked onto the world music stage under her new project and hasn’t looked back. In the short span of approximately 2 weeks, she has managed to enrapture thousands of her loyal fans (old & new) with launch of her debut single ‘Lucky’ on all major music platforms. What followed is the equivalent to one discovering a beautiful waterfall in the middle of a lush forest on a midsummer’s day: magical, refreshing, exquisite, and a welcome sight and sound. And that’s just her vocals. When we add in the exquisitely romantic lyrics (originally written for her husband), we have THE wedding song of the summer and more than likely, for infinity…it’s that good!

O’Neill began debuting her new single opening for her older brother, Reeve Carney on his ‘Youth Is Wasted’ tour recently, and the reception was exactly what we predicted: fans were gushing and clambering to hear the song just ‘one more time’ on social media platforms. In fact, friends of the songbird have also begun submitting videos to her with beautifully choreographed dance moves inspired by O’neills’ bewitching vocals. One fan even sent in a video with their preschool children singing ‘Lucky’ acapella! It’s that contagious and that memorable. (check out O’neill’s Instagram @oneillhudsonsings) These kinds of fan interactions demonstrate that this is a song that inspires people to sing along, create, dance, and even dream. O’neill maintains her authenticity with gracious responses such as, ‘I can hardly express my thankfulness for you all following me on here + your unbelievably sweet remarks on ‘Lucky’ – I feel like these times are pinch me moments’ and ‘You guys!! I am so overwhelmed by the support on ‘Lucky’ – it feels like a dream. I am so thankful that this song (which means so much to me) has connected us. I’m so excited for this new journey’.

Can we say ‘AMEN!’?

The earlier part of O’neill’s career, music written under the name ‘Paris Carney’ included sensual, leading-edge alternative ballads that laid the groundwork for her new project: ‘O’Neill Hudson’. After listening to the new single in comparison to her earlier work, one can audibly hear that O’Neill is ‘Paris Carney’, evolved. The singer songwriter began as a back-up singer for her equally talented brother Reeve (Carney), Jonas Brothers and most recently, Hailee Steinfeld. Soon after, with the support of family and friends, she began delving into her own art which prompts us again to raise our hands with another emphatic ‘AMEN!’

Although ‘Lucky’ is the first single under the O’neill name, we are confident that this is the very rich, mellifluous beginnings of what this Artist is capable of. Her cultivated vocals are O’neill and I am confident that this is the kind of Artist who does everything on point in terms of lyric/instrumental compatibility, while remaining original, authentic, and beautifully flawless in her final composition.

O’neill has already consented for SMC to begin a Spotlight Numbered Series where we will begin documenting her career journey on our SMC SPOTLIGHT and in the wake of her success with ‘Lucky’, we are already anticipating her next single!

Have a listen to ‘Lucky’ & read our exclusive interview below:

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O’neill Hudson
Photo courtesy: O’neill Hudson

Starlight Music Chronicles SMC Exclusive Interview | O’neill Hudson

SMC – Hello O’neill! Welcome to the SMC SPOTLIGHT! I am going to get right into this – off the hop, I want to say that your new single ‘Lucky’ is an ASTOUNDING entry into the industry under your new project O’neill Hudson. Before we get into talk on your new song, let’s go further back: you’ve been a musician for a few years now. Can you tell us what your other projects were/are?

O’neill – Hi! Thank you so much! I’ve been singing my entire life truly, and grew up doing demos for my dad. I professionally started as a backup singer for my brother Reeve 12 years ago. I’ve also sung background for the Jonas Brothers and most recently Hailee Steinfeld. I’ve written songs for TV/FILM and co-wrote Youtuber Bethany Mota‘s debut single ” Need you right now”.

SMC – I was on Spotify looking back at some of your previous music under your Paris Carney name. There’s some pretty fantastic tunes! Can you tell us how you have evolved from Paris Carney to O’neill Hudson and which project you are focusing on more long-term?

O’neill – Ah thank you! I am very proud of my other released material (under my maiden name, Paris Carney) but I felt like there was a side of me that wasn’t being heard in that style, that’s why I started writing for “O’neill”. I love singing and telling stories and I wasn’t feeling like I could fully do that…I also wanted everything to be authentic and real from the messages to the production. I’m definitely focusing on “O’neill Hudson” but I wanted the ability to go back and work on some more of my older stuff down the line.

Photo courtesy of O’neill Hudson

SMC – Can you tell us about the stage name O’neill Hudson? Where is it derived from? I saw somewhere that part of it was a name your mother was going to give you?

O’neill – O’neill is my middle name and I’ve always loved it so much. I was named after a close friend of my parents “Norris O’neill” who worked in commercial jingle business with my dad in NYC. He’s also my brother Zanes God-father, but Norris passed away before I was born, so I was named in his honor. “Hudson” was the name my parents had picked for me before I was born, because they thought I was going to be a boy. I also always loved that name + I’m from NYC and loved the Hudson River connection!

SMC – You come from a family with exceptional music talent, can you tell us how they inspired you or vice versa?

O’neill – I think we inspire each other by watching each other live and listening to eachothers’ recordings… We have similar inclinations and it’s cool to hear them / see them and then also exciting when something unexpected happens vocally, lyrically or production wise.

SMC – I saw that you had some very successful live performances opening recently for your brother Reeve. Can you tell me what your thoughts are on the response you received when you sang ‘Lucky’ live?

O’neill – It honestly feels surreal getting to sing “Lucky” live, really all my new songs. I’ve been working on this project for 2 years and only the co-writers and producers and my family have really experienced them. Singing “Lucky” live does feel especially special because of the meaning behind the song, having people connect to it was my dream.

SMC – Do you plan on any more future touring dates with or without Reeve? (Come to Canada!)

O’neill – I most definitely intend on touring very soon and I LOVE Canada- I would be so honored to play there!

SMC – What kind of feedback have you gotten from your family on your new single?

O’neill – My family has been so supportive and encouraging (really always! Ha ha) – I think they recognize my passion and ownership of this project, which has been really cool and validating.

SMC – What has the online support been like in terms of your fans?

O’neill – It has been truly unreal – I have been so moved by people’s support and love for the song – That is all you can ever hope for as an artist and songwriter. I just hope it continues to reach more people!

SMC – What has the media support been like?

O’neill – Nylon magazine online was amazing to just include my song in their best songs of the week, but otherwise my only other media support has been through my incredibly talented friends and family 🙂 I’ve been doing this all very grass-rootsy.

SMC – Often, when we find an Artist we see with a very promising future, we like to follow and chronicle their career as they reach milestones in their careers. We do this by way of a SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series. Would you be open to us supporting you by way of interviews and reviews on our site as you continue on your journey?

O’neill – Of course! 🙂

SMC – Okay, let’s get into the topic of your new single ‘Lucky’…first off, I have to say ‘WOW’, lady, you have the voice of an Angel. (my review of the single will be posted above). I assume that this song was written for your husband correct?

O’neill – Ah thank you SO much! And YES! I wrote this as a love letter to my husband. It started with the chorus’ lines and the first line of the song “I hit the jackpot” and I brought it to my co-writer Wendy Wang (who also ended up producing the version that I released) …the rest flowed out in about 2 hours. I still cry when I listen to the lyrics because they are so true! I come from a divorced family and to find a love like I’ve found is so remarkable 🙂

Photo courtesy: O’neill Hudson

SMC – When was this song written and why was it chosen as your debut under the O’Neill Hudson name?

O’neill – The song was written on Feb 24th, 2016. I chose it as my first single because the meaning was so special to me and everyone that heard the demo seemed to have this deep connection with its message, so I knew it had to be the one 🙂

SMC – Have you been approached by Radio yet for ‘Lucky’? I can list at least six stations who will want to play this song! I should connect you….

O’neill – I haven’t! But I would LOVE that so much! 🙂

SMC – When you sit back and look at the kind of responses you have gotten for ‘Lucky’, can you tell us what thoughts roll through your mind as you’re reading the comments from friends, family and fans?

O’neill – It almost feels like an out of body experience ha ha! I think because I hoped and prayed it would resonate with people, but actually seeing it resonate with people is so powerful to me.

SMC – What do you think makes a Musician ‘successful’ in the music industry?

Oh man…So many things… It really feels like ” right place, right time”. There are so many ways to “make it” now a days. You could make yourself crazy thinking about it. I know, for me, I just want to make art to make art at this point – and then pray that “success” comes from that place.

SMC – Where is your greatest global fan base located?

Hmmm… I’m not sure – I wanna say South America? They are so sweet and passionate there!

SMC – Can we expect another single soon? You MUST keep them coming. Please do keep us in the loop on upcoming music.

O’neill – Yes! I’m not positive when, but it may be coming very soon 🙂 I will definitely keep you posted!

SMC – Speaking of future music and style, can we expect recordings to be thematically or compositionally congruent to ‘Lucky’? This is a different sound from your music as Paris Carney.

O’neill – Yes! This project is all about organic sounds – Nothing MIDI 🙂

SMC – Are you touring on any festival circuits this summer?

O’neill – Not that I know of yet, but I’m hoping soon!

SMC – I have seen that you have also been supportive of your mother’s jewelry line ‘Fables’ and we have featured some of her most prominent pieces on the front page of our website. Can you tell me which is your favorite piece and why?

O’neill – I’ve been loving the “Good Luck Charm” charm necklace (I’m wearing it in my single artwork) – Really ever since I wrote “Lucky” I’ve been drawn to it. Also, her “Smiley face ring” – Her jewelry is all unbelievable.

SMC – Your husband Greg (Garboswky) is bassist for Jonas Brothers and has toured extensively with the band. How did the two of you meet and what is his thoughts on your new single?

O’neill – Yes! He actually works on their management team now. We met at a karaoke bar through mutual friends in 2009. When I first played him Lucky, he got choked up – which made me so emotional / happy 🙂

SMC – Aside From the talent you are surrounded with in terms of your family and friends, I still see you as a bright light whose talent stands alone and apart from the crowd. You are truly unique. Have you ever heard this from any industry peers before?

O’neill – Wow – that is so kind! I’ve struggled a lot with insecurity in the past (still do, of course!) but when it came to this project I found such strength and confidence – I am just so passionate about it and I think that is what shines through at the end… That makes me so happy!

SMC – What was the most flattering compliment you have ever received in terms of your music?

O’neill – My main inspirations for this project were Jeff Buckeley and Areosmith and two separate people heard “Lucky” and without me telling them the inspiration said it reminded them of those people and I about lost my mind with happiness.

SMC – What are your thoughts/experiences on/of the music industry in general?

O’neill – I think I know a little too much… Ha ha! It’s so complicated and complex, I love knowing people that make music because they love it.

SMC – How do you feel you differ I in terms of your Brothers Zane and Reeve in terms of your own projects?

O’neill – I think I have a little more “pop” music in my background, which may come through here and there, that’s where all the spice girls and Britney Spears listening sessions shine though, ha ha.

SMC – How do you feel you are similar to your siblings?

O’neill – I think we all have similar vocal tones and also, we are all obsessed with Areosmith “nine lives”. We also love a good vocal harmony arrangement!

SMC – Can you tell us where your most memorable live performance has been and why?

O’neill – This past mini tour for sure! I’ve done a lot of background singing in amazing places – but singing my own songs in a style that is so authentic to me is unreal.

SMC – Are there any specific charities or non-profit organizations you have a passion for or whom you support? If so, why?

O’neill – That is such a wonderful question. I feel passionate about people feeling loved and heard, for that reason I love giving back to the homeless in Los Angeles. I’ve also always had a heart for those with special needs and I want to get more connected in a way to give back in a bigger way.

SMC – Can you tell us what a typical day in the life of O’neill Hudson is like?

O’neill – I have a literal obsession with coffee, soooo, I’d pick up almond milk latte from a coffee shop near me (usually to meet a friend) …before that possibly go to my fav workout “Pop Physique” and then usually I’ll go to a writing or recording session to follow! I also probably watch too much TV in the day… I was obsessed with “This is us” and want “Lucky” or one of my songs to be in it soooo badly!

SMC – I have read articles that speak of your wit and charm. I have found that you come from a family of pretty charming and witty individuals. (The Honeymooners Art Carney is her great Uncle!) What would you say is your greatest personality trait and your weakest?

O’neill – Aww that is so sweet! I think it usually is a good thing because I love to make people feel comfortable… I do however have serious trust issues, so it’s kind of an interesting internal combination.

SMC – Let’s talk more fashion: aside from wearing gorgeous jewelry pieces from your mother’s line, what are your go-to’s in terms of clothing and ensemble?

O’neill – I do mix it up quite a bit, but I love vintage tees or silk shirts and different denims (Paige denim is my favorite) and I’ve also been obsessed with pointy toe flat booties.

SMC – Most often, we ask the Artists in our interviews who their ‘go-to’ team is in terms of Music production, Music Video Production, Management, and PR. Can you tell us who your team is?

O’neill – Aw yes! Don Miggs, Kevin Held and Wendy Wang are my current dream team! Lydia Murrty took my single artwork/ did all of my photography. I also have a lot of help from friends who have gone above and beyond to make my dreams come true so far… I’m still in need of someone in PR though 🙂

SMC – Which music platform do you prefer to promote your music: Spotify, Radio, SoundCloud, CD Baby, or Pandora?

O’neill – I love them all! I do tend to go to Spotify because I know it’s cheap and or free to access so much music…I really just want my music to be shared as much as possible.

SMC – Aside from family, which Artist or Artists in the industry are you inspired most by and why?

O’neill – Jeff Buckeley, Areosmith, Carole King, Joni Mitchell. I love all of them for different reasons from songwriting, to vocal ability, to the way they emote. New ones include…Andy Shauf, Lucius, and Big Thief.

SMC – Many people can Google an individual to find out more about their background, but we like to ask this question in our interviews: can you tell us 5 things about yourself that no one (or barely anyone) knows about you?

O’neill – I love God, Coffee, my husband, my family, I love listening / talking through stuff with people.. And obviously I love music and singing and songwriting… That’s 8 whoops…ha ha!

SMC – Where do you see your career in 6 months to a year from now?

O’neill –  I hope to be on tour seeing people singing along to songs I wrote… My dream is also to sing “Lucky” on dancing with the stars and Jimmy Fallon. Ha ha!

SMC – Are there any other projects you have coming up that you can tell us about?

O’neill – This is my main focus right now… But I do have a side project with two of my songwriting friends that may be released somewhat soon 😉

SMC – Alright, final question – Can you tell us five things in your life at present you are grateful for and why?

O’neill – God, my husband, my family, friends and my first song “Lucky” being out… I am truly so Lucky and blessed.

Thank-you Paris! We look forward to supporting you on our SMC SPOTLIGHT platform and we wish you a world of success in your new venture as O’Neill Hudson!

O’neill Hudson
Photo by Lydia Murrty
Photo courtesy of: O’neill Hudson

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O’neill Hudson
‘Lucky’ Album cover by Lydia Murrty

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Meresha | ‘Enter The Dreamland’ EP Review & Exclusive Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview Florida-based three-time Billboard top 40 charting Artist and voting member in the Grammy process (as part of The Recording Academy) Meresha on the Indie Music Monday platform. Last Friday she launched her new EP ‘Enter The Dreamland’ and has already received rave reviews from fans and media globally. Popularity aside, Meresha has impressed me with her ability to remain grounded, focused, and consistent both personally and professionally.There are no airs about this young lady -whether she is performing in front of thousands of her fans or just chilling on the beach meditating, she continues to remain personable and authentic. This is apparent on all of her social media and in her art. Even in the wake of her success on the Billboard charts previous (let’s not count the fact that she was placed between Adele and Justin Bieber right off the hop!), she continues to strive for excellence (and continuing to remain authentic) with her new content, and ‘Enter The Dreamland’ is the result.

When we breakdown the five-song EP, each track can best be described as a sacred work of art. Nothing about Meresha’s art is of the ‘cookie cutter’ sort we hear these days and the production work from multi-Grammy Award Winner Joe Chiccarelli (whose work includes Elton John, Beck, Christina Perri, Glenn Frey to name a few) supports my statement.

Here’s a break-down of ‘ENTER THE DREAMLAND’:

Enter The Dreamland – is ethereal, lush, and vibrant. Modern sound and gentle vocals make this a powerful piece that should be heard loud and on your best speaker system. And probably at night. It’s like capturing a unicorn in a jar – magical and combustible.

Stardust – Take a trip into outer space with this number. Essentially, Meresha considers herself an Alien and this is most definitely the club sound of the summer. It is fast, fun, and throbs in the veins.

Jungle Potion – is a follow up from Stardust with some sensational instrumental pieces woven throughout. Not my most favorite number but still a quality track.

Violet Night – Now THIS is the sweet spot on the album in my opinion. This song pulls from Meresha’s Spanish roots lyrically and instrumentally while still making this something fresh. I believe it was LIGHTS who I discovered in 2008 when they began making their debut into the Canadian music scene and this single reminds me of that ‘Drive My Soul’ vibe. Side note: Lights has over a million active fans and followers globally – Meresha is already well on her way there. I predict big things from this track in the future of Meresha’s career.

Lights Out – The final song on this track is sensual in its composition lyrically and vocally. In our interview (below) Meresha said that she will leave interpretation to the listener on this song, but for this listener, this is a sexy little number that leaves this album on a positive note.

More please, Meresha!

Meresha
Photo courtesy of Meresha

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | MERESHA ‘Enter The Dreamland’

SMC – Hello Meresha! Welcome to Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC)! I have previously interviewed you on Indie Music Monday but for the sake of our readers here on SMC, can you please tell us a little about yourself: where you are from, your age, what got you started in music?

Meresha – Hi Candice.  Thanks for asking me back!

I’m a (musical) artist, vegan & alien luver.  I was born in Europe and am now US East Coast-based. Some suspect I’m actually an alien, but I don’t comment on rumors.

I wrote my first song when I was 12, and recorded it about 8 years ago in a CD booth in South Florida.

SMC – Your new album ‘Enter The Dreamland’ is just stunning! I especially like the song ‘Violet Night’. There are a lot of ethereal influences woven throughout the lyrics and even in the instrumentation. Can you tell us why this theme?

Meresha – Sometimes you have to open your eyes to see the beauty around you.  We get so wrapped up in the everyday that we often miss it.  As I write:

“I have found the puzzle piece

it is right in front of me”

 this was always meant to be

our eyes open galaxies”

SMC – You just launched (June 11th, 2017) your video for ‘Enter The Dreamland’. Can you tell us who the creative team was behind this video?

Meresha – For this video, I worked once again with David Rousseau and his team.  He was the Director of my “New Revolution” video.  David has done a lot of amazing work including videos with billions of views for acts like PitBull, Magic!, Enrique Iglesias and Shakira.  Despite all his success, he is really down to earth and very practical in getting great footage.  His team was amazing managing a shoot in 2 stunning locations 90 minutes away from each other, all in one (very long) day.

SMC – “Lights Out” is also another beautiful song – I feel this is going to be one of those power songs that make it big off an album. What is the song about?

Meresha – Thanks!  “Lights Out” was the last song I wrote for the album.  I’ll leave interpretation of the song to the listener.   Some might hear something sensual, others something spiritual, while others something else.  This can change too depending on when you are listening.

SMC – Which is your favorite song off this album and why?

Meresha – I’ve lived with all 5 songs for a while. Some I originally wrote over a year ago, and kept working on them. Hard to pick a favorite, though I guess you always love most the last thing you did, like “Lights Out”.  Mainly, though, I’m just excited that I can finally share my work with the world.

SMC – Your album art is gorgeous! I did see that you like to involve your fans in the decision-making process on your album art – can you tell us what the best advice was and how it helped you make a final decision?

Meresha – Picking album art is hard.  In this case, there were probably over 100 different ideas and mock-ups.  I had ideas submitted from different people.  I shared the base picture and let them manipulate it, or have it inspire some original art.  A few hundred fans gave detailed comments and helped steer me on the final choice.  I’m really glad you like it, but it really was a team effort.   The whole team deserves any credit.

SMC –I am very happy to have been introduced to your sound via Walter Hargrave at Indie Music Monday! What is the typical reaction you get from people hearing your sound for the first time?

Meresha – I’ve heard people say that my music was deeper and more interesting than they were expecting.  Guess that is a good thing.

SMC – How impressive to land on the Billboard Top 40 charts three times! Can you tell us where you were and how you reacted when you landed on it the first time?

Meresha – I did not really believe it when I got the first reports.  I entered the charts the first time right in between Adele and Justin Bieber.  That’s something that is really hard for an Indie artist to do.  Label artists have armies supporting them.  I guess the secret is to have some guerilla tactics.  I sent every single station that could play my music a handwritten individual note and a CD that looked like a vinyl 45, and asked for their support. Maybe the personal touch and a bit of being different helped get their attention.  In any case, I was grateful so many stations took the risk to play the music of a new Indie artist.

Meresha
Photo courtesy Meresha

SMC – Who has been the most supportive of your career other than family?

Meresha – My high school Performing Arts (and Spanish) teacher Mrs. Salivar. I changed High School Sophomore year.  It was not an easy transition for me.  As a vegan, artsy type I did not always fit in.  Mrs. Salivar, though, immediately got me involved in the arts – dancing, singing, performing.  Think I had 12 roles in the variety show my first year.  She continues to help.  She even helped improve the wording in my first song in Spanish “Juntos”.

SMC – When you are songwriting, where do you go to for inspiration?

Meresha – My inspiration comes from many sources – from nature, my travels, things I experience and things I observe.  Books I read like those of Haruki Murakami also take me to new places, and awaken my imagination.

SMC – You have performed alongside Adam Lambert and Third Eye Blind – what was that experience like?

Meresha – That was amazing.  It was my biggest show up to that point.  With headliners like that, I had a built-in crowd.  Since it was in Boca Raton, not too far away from where I went to High School, there were a lot of people too who I knew in the audience.  Middle and High Schoolers from my school even organized a flash mob for my song “New Revolution” with some of them on stage.  It was a memorable night.

Meresha – Was also great to meet the other musicians.  Spent the most time with Adam and his band who were on after us, and had a dressing room across from ours.  They are good people who put on a great show which I got to watch from behind the scenes.  Seeing how the audience reacted from Adam’s perspective was very cool.

SMC – Let’s talk about your song ‘Juntos’ which released late last year – the lyrics are in Spanish correct? I definitely hear Latin influences in this new album.

Meresha – Right.  “Juntos” is my first song in Spanish, but not my last.  I’ve spent time in Costa Rica, Cuba, Spain & Mexico and love Latin culture.  Maybe I’ll do a duet at some point with a Latin artist.   Some of the sounds from my travels in Latin countries and the Caribbean can be heard on the EP, especially in songs like “Jungle Potion”. 

SMC – What has been the media response to your music in terms of Radio and Entertainment websites and blogs? Have there been any other Media platforms who have lined up an interview or promotion to coincide with your release?

Meresha – I’ve been blessed by getting the support of media who support Indie artists.  I really appreciate that they take the time to write about us and share our music.  It is all about getting your message out to as many people as you can.  Some journalists that wrote about me before are covering the “Enter the Dreamland” launch.  New sites are covering me too for the first time (like yours), which is very cool.

As far as radio goes, I’ve gotten support from market-leading stations like WRMF and music people like Kid Kelly at Sirius XM.  My music has been played on Indie, college and commercial stations.  While streaming has taken off, radio remains a way many people discover new artists.

SMC – Can you recall an interview that was most memorable to you and why?

Meresha – I did an interview on live TV on Cape Cod a while back.  I was still pumped after playing a live concert on the station.  Not sure everything I said was coherent, but I do remember that I really enjoyed it. 

SMC – What has the support been like among your peers?

Meresha – What I notice is that artists tend to be very supportive of each other.  There are a lot of us, and it is important to shout out when one of your fellow artists is doing amazing things and shine a light on them.  If all of us do it, the best will be found.

SMC – Can you list at least 5 talents/hobbies aside from your music career we don’t know about?

Meresha – Besides Just Dance on the Xbox?  I love languages – have studied 6 and can say I speak 3.   Travel is a passion.  I’ve been across parts of Europe and Latin America.  Asia is next on my list.  Whenever I can, I do different sports like running, paddle boarding, blading, etc.

SMC – Can you tell us what a normal day in your life would be like? Many young people idolize Musicians but they don’t often know what goes on behind the scenes and how tough the music industry can be….

Meresha – I work on my art every day.  Most of my day is filled with learning about music, playing instruments and Deejay-ing.  I write music when I can, and otherwise try to absorb new inspirations.  I’m on a bunch of social media platforms and try to stay in touch with as many fans and supporters as I can every day.  Really, there is more that you could do to advance your music every day than is humanly possible to do.  Think the people who make it and build a career are working on those things all the time.

Meresha
The Artist in her true element Photo courtesy Meresha

SMC – What kinds of pressures are there for you in keeping to a schedule in terms of your creative recording process and execution of your music to the masses?

Meresha – While there is some pressure to keep creating new music, as an Indie you have freedoms which keeps this to a lower level.  You can create whatever music you want and release it when you want, in whatever form you want.  If something doesn’t work, you can take it down, or just try again.  You won’t get kicked off the Label for failure.  You are the label.

SMC – Are there any tour plans for the remainder of 2017? Any festivals you will be attending during the summer months?

Meresha – I played SunFest last month, which was amazing.  Some video from that is on Meresha.com.  Probably 40,000 heard me debut “Enter the Dreamland” and “Stardust” together with 6 other songs.

Some other individual Festivals are in the works.  Right now, I do not have a tour planned, but it would be great to open for a more established artist I respect, at some point soon.

SMC – Where do you find your fanbase is the most concentrated in terms of countries?

Meresha – My launch June 23 is global, though right now I’m focusing on the US and Canada.  I’ve been as high at #6 on the iTunes Pop Album pre-order chart in the States in the last days.  This week, we are also presenting “Enter the Dreamland” to Canadian radio.  It will be my first time going for radio play there.  Will be interesting to see if my music resonates there.

I do have fans internationally including quite a few in Latin America, Japan/Asia, Australia and Europe.  I hope to be able to tour there some time soon. 

SMC – Which radio stations would you like to acknowledge in this interview and give a shout out to?

Meresha – WRMF is a hometown station in Florida that took a chance on me.  Not only did they play my song “My love has come” on air among the first stations in the US, but they also invited me to play their big yearly No Snow Ball with 1000s of attendees.  To get that kind of support as an Indie artist is amazing.

SMC – Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting process?

Meresha – I keep a notebook of ideas which I something go back to.  New songs start in various places, sometimes with a melody or set of notes, sometimes with lyrics.  There isn’t one way that they get created.  Even when I record songs, I sometimes come back to them several times and rearrange them before they are ready.

SMC – What instrument do you create your music on?

Meresha – I have a David Smith Prophet ’12 Keyboard on which I do most of my composing.  I’m also working on creating a live show with just me and my Prophet.

SMC – Can you tell us what tour life is like and which were your most memorable live performances?

Meresha – I flew many miles once to see Paramore in the Chicago House of Blues.  I arrived early, went to their restaurant hours before, and somehow managed to convince them to let me in the music hall with the first fans.  I saw Hayley and the guys in the front row of the Mosh pit.  It was amazing.

Last year, I co-Headlined a House of Blues show.  I know that some of the people there came out specially to see me live.  It’s now my job to create memories for them.  That’s what keeps me going.

SunFest last month will certainly be one that I remember for a long time.  Getting such a huge crowd to hear my music, some for the first time, and partying to it was great.

SMC – What does success mean to you?

Meresha – Success is enjoying what you do.  I’m working hard to make music that thing.  The jury is still out on whether I can build a sustainable career and live from my music, but being able to stay on the path would itself be a success.

SMC – Okay, final question Meresha – can you tell us five things you would like to see happen in terms of your new album release and its success in the next 3-6 months?

Meresha –

  1. Grammy
  2. MTV music award
  3. Billboard Top 10 hit
  4. Global tour
  5. Collaboration with someone cool.

Yeah, I know, probably not going to happen, but if you can dream it, you can do it. 

Come join me on the adventure!

Meresha during one of her recent live performances.
Photo courtesy Meresha

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Meresha’s Social Media Links (click to view)

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The Fontaines | SPOTLIGHT Series No.4 | ‘Two Bodies’ Exclusive Interview

In February 2017, Los Angeles-based Iconic Band ‘The Fontaines’ dropped their single ‘Evaporate’ on iTunes and are once again waking up the Music Industry demonstrating their incredible talent and consistently accelerating career toward the next level of fabulous. In fact, this is a band whose notoriety has been duly noted by the ‘who’s who’ in the industry such as Famous Radio Hosts Rodney Bingenheimer (KROQ – Rodney on the Roq in Los Angeles) and Mike Rogers (WhatTheFunday Inter FM Radio in Japan). The Fontaines had their (unreleased yet – we are waiting!) upcoming new single ‘Mercury’ spun on Bingenheimers’ last show ever on June 5th alongside the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Bangles, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Moon Kids (another SMC fave), Elvis Costello, Van Halen, and Blondie. Bingenheimer is the legend responsible for discovering and spinning many of these bands (including Bowie!) in the early stages of their careers so THAT’S our indication of just how cool these cats are. See why we call them Iconic?

Today, the band has released their newest single ‘Two Bodies’ to iTunes following the succession of their single ‘Vacant’ (April 2017, reviewed on The Chronicles here) just in time for summer. The song is yet another result of this bands’ ability to create something we all want to hear 365 days of the year and can be summed up in one word: Extraordinary. Let’s break that down to the effervescent sexy, seductive, and lilting vocals of Charlotte Fontaine who carries off lyrics that are equally as suggestive and powerful ‘Two bodies in motion…’. This wickedly talented frontwoman of the band has a style that has engraved The Fontaines’ sound into music history and into the hands of iconic radio and media platforms worldwide. In fact, the bands’ website goes by the address THATFONTAINESSOUND.com, a truly unique sound created with the epic guitar riffs of Hank Fontaine and Daniel Zuker (Bassist) complete with a beat that makes you move your feet by Drummer Chrystian Kaplan.

We are always awaiting the release of new music, and it looks like the wait will be not much longer – their upcoming single ‘Mercury’ will launch by the end of summer 2017. Following the successful launch of last Junes ‘ii’ EP and with the hint of a new full-length album on the horizon, we can’t wait! Even if your first listen of this iconic band is today, prepare yourself for something one of a kind and completely addictive also known as: The Fontaines.

We took a moment to chat with Charlotte Fontaine in an exclusive interview below:

SMC SPOTLIGHT! Exclusive Interview | The Fontaines ‘Two Bodies’ June 6th, 2017

SMC – Here we are again with another Numbered Series on our SMC SPOTLIGHT platform. This is number four for The Fontaines! Can you tell us what your connection to SMC and your experience to date with our media platform?

Charlotte – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again-Candice’s support of our music has been incredible and so encouraging. It’s because of people like Candice that I continue making music.

SMC – We were so thrilled to see you on the roster for the great Rodney Bingenheimer’s last show on KROQ (Los Angeles). So many legends have been on his show – can you tell us how you met with Rodney and what your thoughts are on ‘The Mayor of the Sunset Strip’?

Charlotte – Rodney’s a legend! I can’t believe he played us twice on his final KROQ show. What an absolute honor.

SMC – If you could give a shout-out to Rodney here, what would you like to say?

Charlotte – Thank you for playing us and for the sugar free cookies.

SMC – When can we expect to see your single ‘Mercury’ (as played on Rodney Bingeheimers last show on KROQ) hit iTunes? I am already wanting it on my playlist! (laughs)

Charlotte – Mercury’s gonna be released by the end of the summer!

SMC – Now let’s get into some discussion on your single ‘Two Bodies’ released today: I see that there seems to be a trend with the releases and I recall the last time we spoke, that another album was imminent…will ‘Vacant’, ‘Evaporate’, and now ‘Two Bodies’ be on the album?

Charlotte – We actually will be putting out two EP’s that were recorded a while ago that do not include any of these new singles.

SMC – One thing I have learned about The Fontaines is that you are never predictable. Can you tell us what kind of feedback you have received from industry peers in terms of your individuality as a band?

Charlotte – Thank you! I think that unpredictability is a sign of growing, which is all I ever want to be doing as a musician and as a person.

SMC – That was so nice to see you had included Rodney in your ‘Two Bodies’ video! Speaking of the video (and all your videos for that matter), can you tell us what the inspiration is behind this video?

Charlotte – The biggest inspiration for our “Two Bodies” video was a lack of budget! We shot it in a warehouse that’s being converted to our friend Zach’s new recording studio (Big Bad Sound LA), and on Hank’s iPhone. I love how dramatic the video turned out.

SMC – I have also noticed a trend on your YouTube channel: the ‘Trashy Version’ of your upcoming releases. I had a chuckle when I saw that. Can you tell us what the trend is there in giving these videos that title?

Charlotte – We decided to shoot some acoustic type performances one day but our camera guy bailed last minute. So, I took out my iPhone and started shooting us selfie-style. Thus began the “trashy” series.

SMC – I have mentioned before that I feel your music and brand speaks for itself. Some of the greatest Musicians really don’t have to sell themselves short or be aggressive and pushy with their Music. What are your thoughts on that?

Charlotte – Living in LA gives you the opportunity to perform any night of the week, for entirely different groups of people. Plus, you can go to Canter’s deli and meet Rodney Bingenheimer.

SMC – What are your thoughts on the kind of music that comes from the east coast – is there a bit of a different vibe that westerners create in their music as opposed to what is produced in the east?

Charlotte – I honestly haven’t experienced their music scene half as much as the one here on the west coast, so I can’t quite say.

SMC – Since we last spoke, ‘Evaporate’ was the topic for discussion. You have also released ‘Vacant’, a brilliant song! Can you tell me what was the inspiration behind this song? Was it a personal experience?

Charlotte – “Vacant” is about creepy guys at the bar who you can tell a million times “I’m not interested” or “I have a boyfriend” or “I’m married to my cat” and they’ll still keep pursuing you.

SMC – The video for ‘Vacant’ was pretty on point. (laughs) On a serious note: whose idea was it for the theme?

Charlotte – The girl featured in the video, our friend Fiona, actually directed it and came up with the entire concept. I think her work is brilliant and so unique.

SMC – When it comes to the creation of your music, do you find that you all have that ‘ah-ha’ moment when you begin to produce and record it?

Charlotte – With every song there’s either an “a-ha” moment or a “this is awful! we gotta drop this!” moment. Funny thing is when two different people experience different ones with the same song…

SMC – We are looking at doing a Social Media takeover for SMC in the near future. You are SMC Royalty in our opinion and want to have you hosted on our Social Media for a full day. Tell us of the kind of creative things you would like to do if we are able to facilitate this?

Charlotte – Royalty! I can’t wait to tell our mom we’re royalty. We’d love to take over the social media for starlight for a day!

SMC – Can you tell us what other cool gigs you have coming up for the summer months?

Charlotte – We’re playing a festival in August called “Musikfest” in Bethlehem, PA, and we’re booking some east coast shows around that!

SMC – You also released another video to your YouTube channel last week ‘F Buddy Holly (Voice Memo)’ which is soooo pleasing to the ears. Can you tell us if this song will also be included on the new album?

Charlotte – ‘F Buddy Holly’ was just a voice memo we recorded onto my phone one random day last year with our friend Scott from the band Street Joy, so we just put it up on YouTube for fun.

SMC – Can you tell me a little bit about the title of the song and what it means ‘F Buddy Holly’?

Charlotte – “F Buddy Holly” was just us censoring ourselves. It’s just a pun. I recall listening to a lot of Buddy Holly that day. But that’s me every day…

SMC –Ha ha! I thought as much. I really like that you have registered your social media and website as ‘That Fontaine’s Sound’, yet another unique little nuance we have come to know and love. What do you think are some of the most important things a band can do for themselves in terms of brand awareness and marketing their sound?

Charlotte – Biggest advice I have is to come up with a band name and spell it in the most unusual way possible… the amount of trouble we and friends of ours have gone through with other people under the same name…

SMC – Can you tell us who your go-to is in terms of Media platforms and collaborations in getting your new music out?

Charlotte – Right now I’m on a YouTube kick. I’m posting vlogs of our everyday life on their once a week as well as releasing new songs or “trashy versions” of songs on there.

SMC – Where do you think the music world is headed in terms of Radio? Many are saying that Spotify playlists are the way of the future. You have been listed on our Playlists ‘SMC SPOTLIGHT ARTISTS’ and ‘SMC EDITORS FAVORITES’. I also see that you have close to 18,000 monthly listeners! What do you think the benefits are for being placed in Spotify playlists?

Charlotte – Spotify has been incredible for us. At one point when “Evaporate” first came out we had 37,000 monthly listeners… Their playlists are just a convenient way for people to hear new music, all of my friends go there for new tunes.

SMC – How long have you been on Spotify?

Charlotte- Probably about a year?

SMC – We are really beginning to push our Spotify playlists for the Artists that we support and are quite happy with the response we have gotten from industry peers. We are even thinking of compiling a Christmas playlist as well in the month of November. What do you feel the public wants in terms of a great playlist?

Charlotte – The public probably wants what I want from a playlist-high energy, then maybe some slow jams, and a build back up to some fun hits at the end!

SMC – Finish this sentence: If I were not a part of The Fontaines, I would be ______________.

Charlotte – If I weren’t part of The Fontaines I would…still be going to Fontaines shows (winks).

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Band Members

Charlotte Fontaine (Vocalist)

Hank Fontaine (Backup Vocalist, Guitarist)

Daniel Zuker (Bassist)

Chrystian Kaplan (Drummer)

Biography

The Fontaines are a brother-sister duo based in Los Angeles, California.  Charlotte Fontaine (vocals) and Hank Fontaine (guitar) began writing new-wave influenced rock songs after growing up all over the world as kids.  The siblings are backed by Chrystian Kaplan (drums) and Daniel Zuker (bass) live and in the studio.

In 2016 The Fontaines performed at music festivals including Savannah Stopover, Canadian Music Week, Broke LA, and Make Music Pasadena.  In June, the band released their new EP, “ii,” which has gotten airplay on KROQ in Los Angeles.  The band is currently finishing up their debut full-length album, set for release in 2017.

The Fontaines Social Media Links (click to view)

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Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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iTunes

YouTube

Bandcamp