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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – Would you work with Stephen again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – What is your overall summation of this video?

Rochelle – A journey within and a journey without!

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

Music Career

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

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

SMC – Do you write all your own lyrics?

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

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

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

SMC – What instruments are you proficient in?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff edited the video himself, another incredibly talented director!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earlier Career History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that my friend, is how life rolls!!

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

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

Thank-you Rochelle!

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

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

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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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Exclusive SMC Spotlight Interview | Tony Crown ‘Distant From The Universe’ Album a Television hit!

Review and interview by Brian Kious.

Tony Crown is not new to the scene. He made his debut appearance as part of the lo-fi jazz/folk duo, Jane & Anthony, in 2012 with their album, Lounge Noir. It featured a couple songs that went on to be featured on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters & AMC’s Hell On Wheels. Despite the sudden success of their debut outing, the duo disbanded and Tony went on to perform under the moniker, Lawrence & The Lion, and later, Living Room Lava, under which he released an EP in 2013.

2017 finds Tony Crown sailing under his own flag as he embarks on a new adventure with his brand new solo album, Distant From The Universe. When listening to this new record and then revisiting his past material, one can be sure that, despite different musical vestments, Tony Crown is still writing in the same universe as he was with Lounge Noir. While the moods shift from raucous to reflective throughout, he has put together a recor full of songs that talk of conflict, confusions, and self-recognition.

The listener will easily find themselves driving a little faster if they dare start this album while driving as the opener, “Black & Blue” lays out a self-destructive relationship’s details laced with just the right amount of keyboards. “I & The Only” plays like a great 1980s new-wave opus and is all too brief, but that’s okay because it gives way to the gorgeous keyboard opening of “Pretty Little Thing.” The arrangements of “Pretty Little Thing” and “Hang On”, in fact, come out of the 1970’s playbook of David Bowie, or even circa 1975 Bruce Springsteen. As the intro to “Pretty Little Thing” ends it then erupts into the most brain-invading keyboard riff laid over a quasi-reggae vibe. It then takes off during the bridge when Tony Crown’s voice is joined by sweet harmonies.

As of late, the big attraction of this record is “Killing Machine.” This song has been carried to more ears as it was recently featured on AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead. Even without the promotion on the TV show, “Killing Machine” is quite easily the most catchy song of the bunch as you’ll find yourself singing, “good old fashioned killing machine.”

The biggest surprise on the album is Tony Crown’s cover of Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle.” He has taken an anthem of idealistic optimism and made it more high & lonesome. He has succeeded by making the song his own and while his original songs are worth the price of admission, this cover should easily gain recognition.

After listening to Distant From The Universe, I was fortunate enough to meet up with Tony Crown and have a conversation about his album, his art, and his plans for the future:

Tony Crown
photo courtesy: Tony Crown

TONY CROWN: TELEVISION. MUSIC. ART and DISTANT FROM THE UNIVERSE

SMC:  You’ve created four distinctly different sounds in four distinctly different acts. In 2012, as JANE & ANTHONY you released the album Lounge Noir, which I believe is also descriptive of that sound. You had the blues/rock outfit, Lawrence & the Lion, then, with Living Room Lava, you released a self titled EP which was more guitar driven rock. Now, you’ve released your brand new solo album, Distant From The Universe, which is more focused on melody and has more complex arrangements. Tell me a little bit about how you arrived at the sound  we hear on the new record.

Tony: Mostly I just wanted to do something different. I wanted to think out of the box and push myself into making some real polished material.

Jane and Anthony was an act that was purposefully rough around the edges, Lawrence and the Lion relied on pure emotion, and Living Room Lava is complex rock which can be throwback at times. I wanted to explore sounds and ideas that had always been in my head but never got put down. Some of these songs had been around for over five years and some had steamed from new ideas. Once these ideas were recorded I whittled down nine of them that fit together as well as a cover that seemed appropriate. “Distant From The Universe” is over two years of work in and out of the studio. Over that time I recorded probably over 30 songs. Having no time constraints really helped the process. I was allowed to not burn a ton of creative energy all at once. Kind of like a painting, where an artist might come back to a work several months or even several years later. Working with producer Andrew Stephens was also a huge part of developing the sound on the album. He has helped me take the ideas in my head and bring them to a new level.

SMC: So, it sounds like you went in having a bit of an idea of what you were going for and had a support system there to throw ideas around with, is that right?

TONY: I had the songs already written entirely before I went into the studio. However, once you do actually start the recording process things can take an entirely different turn. Sometimes I would record stuff and hear it on the big studio speakers and not really like the idea as much as I first thought. That’s where Andrew would come in say, “Maybe do it like this” or “Sing this Way.”  I would always record my own material or go into studio and be ridged about one part or the other. Being able to let go and just play and sing parts took a lot of weight off my shoulders. 

SMC: The album is full of different atmospheres. There’s a lot of darkness like in “Dust To Dust”, or “Killing Machine”, but you also have a little touch of reggae in “Pretty Little Thing”, a dash of pop in “In The Now”, even a little vaudeville in the title track “Distant From The Universe.” Is this how these songs all started out? Tell me about your writing process.

TONY: I was in the studio for two years and in that time I recorded a bunch of different material.  I learned music by learning other peoples songs so I guess when I’m writing my own I’m not coming from a particular angle. Mostly, ideas or melodies pop into my head and I’ll try to scribble them down or sing them into my phone. The cell phone is a huge tool in my writing and I allows me to revisit so many ideas I would have forgot. I’ll hear something and try and base a song around a certain phrase, so I do keep a written journal as well. My creative spurts are usually late at night or right after I wake up and drink coffee. 

BRIAN: Do you sit down with discipline and say, “Today I’m going to write this song and it will sound like this when finished”? Or do you have a line come to you here and there and over time it all coalesces?

TONY: It is kinda both. Some stuff just seems to come out and other ideas I will beat to death or just move on. I just depends.

BRIAN: I know you’re a fan of Bob Dylan. Is his influence hidden in Distant From The Universe?

TONY: I’m sure somewhere

BRIAN: I hear a little Tom Waits, perhaps some Velvet Underground. Do you feel anyone who has influenced you surfaces in any of these tunes?

TONY: David Bowie.

BRIAN: Oh yeah, I definitely can hear that now that you mention it. Speaking of legends, you include a cover of Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle” on the album. Was that something you had already in mind when you recorded?

TONY: I actually worked on a series of covers before I started recording my own songs. “Fly Like An Eagle” was one of them, but it seemed to fit in Distant From The Universe.

BRIAN:  It’s a great performance, and you did what many artists fail to do which is successfully making a cover song your own. How long have you been performing it?

TONY: No idea. Covers are tricky things. However people relate to them a lot more than original music sometimes. I really haven’t been playing the song that long.

BRIAN: A lot of newer artists are not shying away from including covers on their albums now. Veterans are even recording entire albums of covers. Ryan Adams, in fact, recorded a track-for-track cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989. You’re now one of the former. What do you think has affected this change?

TONY: I think at some point, most successful performers or bands play covers to get people listening. It’s a really good strategy. Playing original material is noble, less relatable. I think Ryan Adams is smart, Taylor Swift’s 1989 album was huge [and] his interpretations were relatable to Taylor’s fans.

BRIAN:  Are there any songs that you feel are off limits as far as being covers?

TONY: None that I can think of…

BRIAN: Let’s talk about the big news now. “Killing Machine” was recently featured on AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead. Congratulations on that. You must be very proud. How did you get connected with the show?

TONY:  Thanks! It’s awesome, a good moment for sure. Jane and Anthony had a few great T.V. spots too. I maintained positive relations with those people, plus I signed with a publisher (Synchaudio) late last year. Everything just [kind of] came together.

BRIAN:  Did you write the song for the show or did they hear it and say, “that’s perfect, we have to use that one!”?

TONY: The song was already written. I guess it just worked out.

BRIAN: This isn’t your first foray into television. As you just mentioned, a few years back, under the JANE & ANTHONY moniker, your song “Waiting For My Baby To Come” was used on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. Have you found that having a boost like that attracts more attention than conventional independent promotion like indie radio, live performance, etc?

TONY: It definitely helps. Its kinda like a shot in the arm. A bunch of people now discover you from all parts of the world. Still, it doesn’t equal universal notoriety.

BRIAN: How about touring? Can we expect Tony Crown on tour in support of Distant From The Universe?

TONY: For sure.

BRIAN: What does a Tony Crown live performance look like now?

TONY: I do a lot of solo acoustic stuff however the full band thing still happens too.

BRIAN: One question about your website (www.tonycrownartmusic.com). You showcase not only your music, solo and LRL, but also photography. You are really dodging a specific label that every artist seems to get hit with. How do you want people to know Tony Crown? As a singer/songwriter? A frontman for Living Room Lava? A photographer? A renaissance man?

TONY: I’m just trying to be a great artist. Having multiple sources for artistic expression keeps things fresh and ultimately boosts creativity, at least for me.

BRIAN: Distant From The Universe is a great album, Tony. I think you’ve done some great work here. What can we expect for the future? More Tony Crown solo artist? A return with Living Room Lava?

TONY: Living Room Lava is about to release a few songs. We had a drummer change and things are finally back on track. I have a bunch of other songs to release so I’d expect some single releases as well as another album. I have another exciting T.V. placement coming up and I’m about to shoot some music videos. I’m pretty exited. 

*NOTEWORTHY: As for that exciting TV placement he’s speaking of, Tony Crown’s cover of “Fly Like An Eagle” appeared on Showtime’s Ray Donovan August 27th, 2017. Go visit him right now at his website: www.tonycrownartmusic.com and make sure to check out his album Distant From The Universe, available on iTunes, Spotify, and other popular outlets. Be sure and keep an eye and ear out as Tony Crown certainly has a bright future. (see all socials below)

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

By Candice Anne Marshall

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

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

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

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

You’re welcome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FKB – The current announced dates are:

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

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

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

5/21 – Winlaw, BC @ Mama Sita’s

5/27 – Vancouver, BC @ The Roxy

6/2 – Creston, BC @ Jimmy’s Pub

6/3 – Nelson, BC @ The Royal

6/8 – Beaumont, AB @ Live City

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

7/7 – Canmore, AB @ The Drake

7/8 – Canmore, AB @ The Drake

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

8/2 – Saskatoon, SK @ Buds on Broadway

8/3 – Saskatoon, SK @ Buds on Broadway

8/4 – Lloydminster, SK @ The Root

8/10 – Thunder Bay, ON @ The Foundry

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

8/17 – New York, NY @ Silvana

8/18 – Buffalo, NY @ Nietzche’s

8/22 – Cleveland, OH @ Wilbert’s

8/24 – Chicago, IL @ Moe’s Tavern

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

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

FKB –

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

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

Derek: Has been playing drums since he was four.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

__________________

FKB Social Media Links (click to view)

Website
Facebook
Soundcloud
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube

BIOGRAPHY

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

For interviews or promotional materials contact Drew at info@fkbmusic.ca or by phone at 780-573-3329

Radio Promo: Bill Miller – bill@sharp9music.com

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

Lucien Dante | March 2017 SMC Artist of the Month!

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

By Candice Anne Marshall

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

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

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

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

SMC – What was your reaction?

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

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

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

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

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

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

LD – I am 22 and I am a Cancer 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMC – What do you find beauty in?

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

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

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

SMC – When can we expect your EP to drop?

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

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

LD – Five!

SMC – Where is your biggest fan base?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LD – Facebook and Instagram!

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

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

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

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

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

LD – NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#LightsFamily <3 SMCFamily

_____________________

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

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

SoundCloud

Spotify

YouTube

Biography

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

 

Scott Patterson | SMITHRADIO SMC February 2017 Artist of the Month!

By Candice Anne Marshall

images provided by Scott Patterson | SMITHRADIO

If any of the Starlight Music Chronicles followers on Twitter were paying attention from January 15th to 22nd, they would have noticed a flurry of activity. This was the seven-day period that will go down in our history books as the Artist of the Month fan voted competition that broke some serious records in terms of ‘fan votes’. It was the first time ever that a band (fan nominated) would achieve the highest ever votes for the social media poll posted. In fact, SMITHRADIO fans were relentless in their pursuit of making music history by elevating their favorite Musician, Scott Patterson and his band, to this level of success with a whopping 1112 fan votes tallied as of January 22nd, 11:50 pm MST. (previously, the highest votes ever recorded was held by The Roxy Suicide in December 2015)

Recently. I connected with Scott to talk about the February 2017 Artist of the Month win, his fans (who have now labelled themselves the SMITHRADIO Army), and what that means for the upcoming Artist of the Year competition in June 2017. Here’s what he had to say

INTERVIEW | Scott Patterson SMITHRADIO January 30 2017

SMC – So tell me, what are your thoughts on winning SMC’s February 2017 Artist of the Month (AOM) competition?

SP – Well, it’s a terrific honor to get this kind of validation so early in the game. I didn’t expect to get a nomination, was surprised when we got it and was even more surprised we won. Kinda pinching myself on this one, truth be told.

SMC – Yes, they sure did! It’s so exciting Scott because a lot of Artists who come out with a first single don’t have this kind of support right away and I believe it’s what SMITHRADIO has produced so far that really has enraptured the fans. What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated by a fan?

SP – My fans have always been there for me. There have been times when I’ve been so exhausted, too exhausted to continue on a given day and just seeing a few nice comments got me to the finish line. I’m doing this all myself – my own label (Blind Horse Records), my own small but dedicated staff and fan support that is unprecedented for me.

SMC – That’s true! You’re right!

SP – My assistant called to tell me that we were beginning to pull ahead in the voting and I was quite moved by the whole thing. It meant the fans were supporting it and wanting to represent. That was very meaningful for me and the guys (band). I never thought we would win.

SMC – what was your reaction to the win?

SP – I didn’t know right away. My assistant contacted me and said, ‘They’ve made a decision and we won!’, and I thought, ‘Good Lord, how did that happen?’ I was excited. I was in the middle of writing a song when I got the news. So, I allowed myself to have that moment, and then the work ethic in me demanded that I stop celebrating and get back to writing the song. After my writing session was done, I got on the phone and was talking to everyone (band) and we had a good time (celebrating). We are really excited about it.

SMC – Yeah, that’s great. The fans went crazy. I think they’re still celebrating.

SP – Yeah, Isn’t that amazing?

SMC – Absolutely. I’ve seen this happen with another young (new) band once before and I know that this is possible. Aside from the win, how did the name SMITHRADIO Army come about? That’s pretty cool.

SP – That was a term I was kicking around with my assistant at the beginning and then some fans picked up on it and ran with it so it stuck. I have some very loyal fans that are spreading the word about “HAHA SONG” and SMITHRADIO just like any other band but these particular fans are going the extra mile. Can’t wait to meet them, comp them when we tour and thank them personally.

SMC – That’s exciting. So, which Social Media platform did you find the fans most active on for this competition?

SP – I spent more time on twitter and I jumped on the Instagram and Facebook band pages to engage as well. I just tried to be active on as much as I could.

SMC- What are your thoughts on the other Artists you competed against in terms of the camaraderie while there was active fan voting?

SP – I think they were a very classy group of people. They congratulated us and were very kind. I was really moved by all that and I wish them all the best. I don’t know their music but I can’t wait to hear it. When we go to the U.K. I can’t wait to see The Black Jackals.

SMC – Hey that’s awesome.

SP – Yeah, they just kick ass! Also, Neil and Adam – such nice guys! I haven’t listened to their stuff but I am going to. They all reached out to me – classy guys. That’s what I love about music – these Musicians are so giving and generous. It’s not really a competition really, it’s a chance for people to get to know one another and share music.

SMC – Absolutely. That’s really the point of our fan nominated competitions – is to engage and cross promote the Artists. When we’re talking indie music, we are talking about bands who may not know a lot of the other Artists that are in other countries. Because SMC promotes bands on a global scale, this is a way of introducing one another via the fans. For this new season, we have three European bands who have won AOM (Hannah Clive, DaveIt Ferris, and Tamsyn) in the latter part of 2016 and now one North American band to kick off 2017 (SMITHRADIO). We have a few more months left before we head to the Artist of the Year competition in June 2017 so there may be more, but SMITHRADIO is the first North American band to win AOM this season. Last season, our Artist of the Year (IAMWARFACE) is from the U.K. and they won with 22,000+ votes. What are your thoughts on all of this?

SP – Oh wow. Well, the EP will be out and we will hopefully be touring by then so maybe we’ve got a chance. Wow.

SMC- I think you do!

SP – Okay, well, we’ll knuckle down. We’ll see what happens. Does this mean we are enrolled into the Artist of the Year event?

SMC – Yes. All our Artists of the Month are automatically enrolled into the June 2017 Artist of the Year (AOY) event.

SP – Wow. Okay!

SMC – It was your fans who nominated you and brought you to this place.

SP – They are the very best in the world which is why I am being so meticulous with these tracks. Want them to be as good as they can be for the fans. They deserve that.

SMC – Part of the Artist of the Year win means you get a scholarship for ArtistMax. This program is in Los Angeles with Producer Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac) and his daughter Colbie (Caillat – Grammy award winner), who is one of the program mentors. Our AOY winner will also receive VIP invitations by ArtistMax to VIP events as part of their scholarship program as well. It’s kind of a big deal. So, what are your thoughts about going to that next level in addition to what you’ve already accomplished?

SP – Wow that’s great. Well, we need to just keep doing what we are doing. The 5 songs (for the new EP) are almost mastered. We are going to release the EP and then a single after that. There is a single that I wrote that has a different feel than the rest of the songs (on the EP). It’s a more serious song which hooks into something we’re involved in. We want to roll this out the best way and that’s really the step to take us to the next level. We’re going to be playing the SXSW (South by Southwest) 2017 Music Festival this year as well. I was on the Rachael Ray show back in November and played a couple of bars of “HAHA DONG” and right there, she said, “I want you to come and play at SXSW. We have three stages down there and you get one of them for a 30-minute set”. That’ll be fun. Rachael really hooked me up. You know, we had that instant chemistry when we met and we had a great chat. Spectacular woman. She and her team are comped for life any show we do. I mean, how do you pay someone back for being so generous and having your back like that? Anyway, could go on about her forever. Love her.  There’s also a Sirius XM radio concert in New York as well as an AOL Build appearance which will hit Facebook as well. We are rehearsing for that. In the meantime, writing a lot of new material and eager to get back in the studio to record. Don’t like songs to sit very long after they are born.

SMC – I heard an interview earlier today that you had with Pulse 98.4’s Big Drive Home with Peter Greenwood. You talked about your influences. Who are your main ones?

SP – When I was five I use to stand on top of my parent stereo console (like a coffee table) with a hairbrush mic and sing along to Beatles songs. Hard Days Night, Rubber Soul. I’d put on shows for my parents when my dad got home from work. Then there was The Rolling Stones and ‘Satisfaction’. The sound of that guitar bore into me and from that moment I wanted to play guitar as well as sing. We had an old Spanish guitar laying around the place and I started plucking away. Growing up it was Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Zepplin, Bowie, James Gang, Skynyrd, Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, The Who, the usual suspects. I liked bands and songwriters. I liked guitar heroes. I liked guitar solos and drum solos. I like bathing myself in the giant cloud of marijuana that hovered above the ice rink at The Spectrum in Philly where I saw all those great bands. There was joy, anticipation, beautiful girls and a big train of rock music coming our way as soon as the lights went down. Joni Mitchell fascinated me. The tone of her voice is really special. Neil Young, too.  Love that big arena sound – The Who, Zepplin. When Patti Smith came along that just blew apart everything for me because what she was doing was her poetry and putting music to it. People were doing that a lot in the Village in NYC in the early 70’s but not like that. Blew me away. There are so many different types of performers – flashy showmen/women, introverted songwriters, etc. and I love them all. Anybody with the guts to get out there and just play their songs, well, I’m gonna listen. Over the past twenty five years or so there have been some great bands and songwriters but the one guy that always stood out for me was Noel Gallagher. No bullshit. Just gets right to it. With him it’s about the song and nothing else. It’s about a melody, a dynamic and a structure over an entire set. Very powerful. His ‘High Flying Birds’ will be my next concert to attend.

SP –SMC – So when we talk about your five song EP, we are going to be listening to songs that are your truths, correct?

SP – Yes. The songs are all about a girl: they are either break-up songs, love songs, or they’re ‘can’t-wait-to-get-away-from-you’ songs. The one song that will release as a single after the EP is launched is not me, it’s someone else’s point of view. I put myself in someone’s shoes and felt a need to tell the story of their life through that song. I imagined what it must be like for this individual to go through this particular experience. Deals with PTSD.

SMC – I do know that Patti Smith’s daughter had reached out to you and that you are looking at doing a benefit concert with Patti. Does this song tie into that?

SP – It may…. it’s about one specific type of a person but it could cross over into everyone who is experiencing these types of feelings. It’s not specific to any one category of person but that’s who I am telling to story of the song through. Kristina – pieces of it has been online, and that’s a song that might be appropriate for a benefit concert. That’s about a young girl being sexually abused and becoming a teenager who escapes her circumstances.

SMC- So many people look to that to tell that kind of a story. In terms of your EP and the kind of variety in genres (blues, punk rock, rock), what can we expect?

SP – You’re going to get rock and roll, Americana, some Glam, a dash of punk. In the same family as “HAHA SONG”.

SMC – Yeah, I love it.

SP – Yeah, I love it. Some good, classic party songs on the album and I attribute that to coming out of long period of writing very serious material and, quite frankly, getting sick of writing serious material. I simplified everything and started writing the kind of songs that come out of jam sessions with friends just horsing around at a party with maybe a beer or two in you. Just let it fly, appreciate the major chords and play what’s fun to play for YOU. What feels right and good in the moment. Might be the simplest progression but doesn’t matter if it rocks. It’s RockNRoll, man. It’s not complicated. Write what you feel and scream it out.

SMC – Oh excellent! You’re songwriting style is very strong.

SP – Like I said…..it’s rock. Rock is a specific discipline that too many people clutter with bullshit. Rock is supposed to hit you in those places we can’t talk about at family dinners. Rock is momentum. It’s a locomotive, it’s inevitable. But it’s personal to each songwriter. I write all the time which mean I’m strumming the guitar all the time. A lot of time bullshit comes out but when a real song comes out of your soul, for me it comes fast. Five minutes. Like a window opened and some power handing you something good. That’s exciting.  So, there’s stuff in the hopper ready to record. These are the songs I’m sharing with the world.

SMC – That’s exciting! In terms of touring, are you possibly looking at Australia?

SP – We’re looking at everything. Candice, we’re looking at touring all over for a number of years. We want to play everywhere and we don’t want to stop. That’s just something I want to do until I drop. So yes, we are looking at all possibilities to go everywhere. We are in discussions about this right now and we need to choose wisely. We thought we were going to start in the USA to do a six-week tour of the south west, now a lot of other countries are stepping up: Brazil, Scotland, U.K., Japan, and it’s a nice problem to have but we don’t want to alienate anyone. We want to do it right, so we’re being very careful and methodical about it. There will be something to announce soon enough. I understand the fans are getting anxious but I promise we will announce the EP and some solid dates real soon.

SMC – I know that the pressure is on but I do know the process of producing something that is quality and that takes time….

SP – It does. I spent the holidays laying down guitar tracks for a couple of the songs for the EP. I am very meticulous about this. I am working with people that are equally meticulous. We don’t want to have to go back and redo anything, we want to get it right the first time. Recording a song properly is complex. The listening public is very sophisticated now and they’re used to a very high quality recording because there’s lots of great Producers and bands and they’re hearing great stuff all the time. It’s important to step up and compete and we’re going for a knockout punch and “HAHA SONG” set the bar real high.

SMC – I know it’s going to be a great follow-up: you’re working with Michael Nomad Ripoll (Producer and Guitarist for SMITHRADIO)

SP –  Yeah, Nomad and I work well together in the studio and we are producing a great album. Hell of a guitar player, too. The band is together and we will be introducing members soon.

SMC – Are they the same musicians that will be touring with you that were also in the studio recording?

SP – Couple of the same and a couple different.

SMC – Going back to Patti Smith, what was your reaction when her daughter reached out to you?

SP – Total shock. Read that email ten times before it hit me. Full circle kind of thing. Nice when that happens.

SMC – Absolutely. So, what is the greater feeling of gratification for you: finishing the recording of a new song, or performing in front of an audience?

SP – Either or. They are both great feelings that stay with you. I’m addicted to both. Can’t imagine not recording or performing.

SMC – I agree. It’s funny because I had a fan private message me and say that they felt that this career path you’ve taken really speaks about you as an individual the most. Do you feel the same?

SP – That is an accurate statement, yes. I’m ready. I have tried to pursue a music career several different times in my life: out of high school, again when I was out here in LA initially, then back in New York, and a couple of different times out here. What remains the same is that I continued to write music. When I was growing up I began writing my own stuff.  Now, it’s about getting my music out of my own body and soul. That’s what interests me. So, to answer the question, yes, I feel this is the right path for me. Things are happening and people are responding in a positive way. I’m steering the ship, it’s my record label, it’s all coming out of me. That’s where I am happiest.

SMC – It really shows too. You’ve been on a few talk shows already, Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, and Rachel Ray to name a few since “HAHA SONG” released and you could really see that you were excited when they began to talk about the single and your music career. What were those experiences like?

SP – It was completely surreal. When I went out there and sat down on the couch next to Jimmy (Fallon), and we started talking and he held up a placard with the “HAHA SONG” on it, a photograph that I took, it was just a surreal moment. Here’s the biggest talk show guy in the world holding up my song and talking about it. I thought, ‘Good God, it doesn’t get any better than this!’ It was a real moment. That was the moment, to reference the previous question, that I knew I made a good decision in choosing this career path. I have made a lot of bad ones in my life, but I made a good one here.  

SMC – When I saw you walk out, I jumped up in my seat and shouted ‘YES! He did it!’

SP – It was surreal. It’s The Tonight Show. Grew up watching it. Was a head trip.

SMC – I know, I was so excited for you.

SP – They give you seven minutes but it feels like seven seconds. It’s over before you know it.

SMC – You know I really don’t think that will be the last time he will have you there. He always has a music component on his show and I’d love to see you two do that sing-off or guitar playoff – whatever it may be. Is that something you’d like to see happen?

SP – We went out for dinner after and I pitched the idea of the ‘three lost Dylan brothers’ to the Producer (Bob hasn’t anything to do with this and nobody knows about them) but they do Bob Dylan covers. Let’s see if the phone rings.

SMC – Oh, that’d be great.

SP – Then the Producer sent me a clip of Jimmy actually doing Dylan which was really funny. Jimmy is talented – really talented.

SMC – That would be amazing. One of the fans had asked if you would be looking at writing a SMITHRADIO Army song?

SP – I think I already have…. I wrote a song about taking over the world (laughs).

SMC – Pretty much!

SP – It’s something that I’ve been tossing around as a way to say thank you to the SMITHRADIO Army. It’s got to be rock with a little bit of humor. I am trying to get the right tone and balance for that song so yeah, I’ve been thinking about that song. Absolutely.

SMC – When we are talking about this all coming together, and the fans being there for you, years down the road, when you are really in the groove, you’ve gotta look back at the beginnings and the people who were there at the very beginning, how would you pay homage to them?

SP – The people that I started out with are still with me. They are either with me in spirit, or they’re employed by me. The team is very solid. They’re very dedicated, and loyal and that’s the great part about it. It is a family, it’s an extended family. The vision is: maybe a year from now, there is a SMITHRADIO convention, or a picnic, or a weekend retreat, something like that. These people get along very well. They are connecting and making friends and that warms my heart.

SMC – In terms of looking back at the first couple of interviews that you and I have had – One of the fans asked why I hadn’t changed the original GORDON name on the title of those articles to SMITHRADIO. I told them that the purpose of SMC was to actually chronicle the journey for the Artists we support. Therefore, you will see a numbered series on the Spotlight portion of our website. We feel it’s important to keep the chronicle as it was written with no updates so that we can keep a well-documented history of the Artist’s career and milestones. Later, when the band has become big, it’s always nice to uncover the beginnings and find those treasures for fans. What are your thoughts on this kind of authenticity?

SP – Hey, you’re the boss of that situation. (laughs) Well, hey, that’s what I was then and I think it should stay. I agree.

SMC – What’s behind the name change and the name itself?

SP – I thought of what my biggest influence was and what made me want to do this (music career) – what changed my life as a young person most radically, and that was Patti Smith. Through Patti, I discovered that Artistic courage and staying true to your art really was. Through her, I discovered so much literature – Arthur Rimbaud (French Poet) who, I ended up having a bigger obsession with than Patti.

SMC- I remember you referencing that in one of our earlier interviews.

SP – Yeah, and there were a lot of other literary influences that I went through in my youth because of Patti Smith. I discovered – to borrow her term – “the country of the mind” as it related to music and poetry. There’s a deep spirituality that isn’t often recognized through her work. A kind of faith, deep-seated. I would listen to Patti Smith live concerts from The Bottom Line (venue in New York City) via WMMR (radio station in Philadelphia) when it was past my bedtime. It would be late when she would come on and I would listen to these Sunday night live concerts….We had to change the band name because I was doing this this radio interview last summer and the DJ said, “Wow, that’s quite an EP you’ve got there. It’s a really punk sound”, and I said, “What are you talking about, we don’t have an EP yet”. That’s when we found out there was another band with the same name. So, we had to change the name. I didn’t want to come up with just any name – had to be very meaningful to me. I just kept thinking about Patti and those Sunday nights listening to the radio with the sheets over me, in the dark on a rainy evening in South Jersey and Patti Smith turned low so no one could hear. Those were the moments that make you really dream, so I just thought Patti Smith on the radio…. Smith Radio….SMITHRADIO. I thought, you know, I’m a wavelength on SMITHRADIO. Artistically, I was invented by Patti Smith. She is the Muse.

SMC – That’s an amazing story. I love that! Wow……wow.

SP – I grew up with a very artistic mother who demanded artistic integrity, honesty, vulnerability and, above all, spirituality, in every piece of art, music, book, film she exposed me to.  So, that’s what I aspire to. We’re starting this EP off with songs about love gone right and gone bad, longing with a kind of wistful resignation.

SMC – So there was that deep connection with her. I think you and I…. if I had read correctly…. both had mothers who passed away in 2008.

SP – Yes, my mother and I had always had a very deep connection…to the point where we were telepathic. I knew what she was thinking all the time, and vice versa. We didn’t have to speak, we just knew with a look. She never had to tell me to do anything, I always knew what she wanted me to do or what was expected of me.

SMC – My relationship with my mother was very similar, so I can concur.

SP – Yeah and it really contrasts with my relationship with my father because I had zero connection with him. We didn’t understand one another. He wasn’t around very much and when he was, it wasn’t very pleasant. When he left, I was really kind of relieved.

SMC – Now when I look at you having this success in your career along with also having a (young) son, and he starting to play with his guitar…with you not having that relationship with your own father, what would you like to bestow upon your son that you may not have gotten from a fatherly figure?

SP – My job is to prepare him to leave home eventually and thrive in the real world and that’s what I am doing. He’s very bright, willful. Absorbs everything I’m doing or saying so gotta be careful. The thing that really struck me is how much joy he brings every day, how funny he is. I literally laugh all day with him. Smart, quick, mischievous. Ton of fun. Then there’s the scary side, the worry but all worth it. He’s watching me build my music into something and I am very proud of that. I already have a nice, fat scrapbook about SMITHRADIO to go through with him when he’s ready. If I can inspire my boy to strive for great things and fight for his dreams I’ll have done my job.

SMC – In combining those two questions together, would you say that your mother, being the primary caregiver – obviously, she had to wear two hats – would you say that the skills she bestowed upon you is something that you are passing down to your son?

SP – I think that the greatest gift that my mother gave me was…. you know, she was toughest person that I’ve ever met. I’ve never met anyone with a backbone like that. She was 5ft 2” and the sweetest person you would ever want to meet but man, when people crossed her……uh oh! She wouldn’t yell. She would get really quiet and say, “Let me tell you about the facts of life here”, and we would go ‘Uh oh!’ She was amazing. But just tough as nails. Her famous line to me is the line I always say now and that’s: ‘Give ‘em hell’, that’s all I heard when I would walk out the door of the apartment was ‘Give ‘em hell’, and I did. In every aspect of my life, I gave ‘em hell. She wanted us to be competitive in all areas, and we were (he and his sisters). I still am – I don’t know any other way. I compete, therefore I am and that’s just what she wanted for us. She instilled the work ethic by example. I wish there were 30 hours in the day because I love putting in the work for my music. There’s just not enough time in the day.

SMC – I know, I can relate.

SP – I’m just at it all the time. People think I’m a mad man but I’m always saying, ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go write.’  Songs hit me in odd place at odd times but the bottom line is they don’t hang around forever so you gotta split and get it down. When the Muse calls you answer.

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