Spotlight: Mercy & Chris

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Curiosity. Inspiration. Trust. Creativity. Empathy. Chemistry. All of this is needed to make collaborations happen. It’s brave to combine ideas and concepts, it’s artistic to let the results happen. These results often aren’t easy to describe or categorize, and that’s exactly what collaboration is about.
We talked to Mercy (23) and Chris (46), two outstanding talents who saw the potential in teaming up in order to share ideas and create new and exciting music – even though they’re living in different states.

kms / Whats your background regarding music? Where do the both of you come from and when did you team up?
Mercy / I am not a trained vocalist. My father plays almost any instrument imaginable and I absorbed some of his talent. Singing and finding melodies is the extent of my musical talent. I grew up on Long Island and was living in Brooklyn, NY around the time Chris and I started creating together.
Chris / My first instrument was violin – I played in the school orchestra, and I still have an affinity for orchestral music and the way different instrumental “voices” come together. As a junior in high school I took up the guitar and grew my hair down to my waist. I was into rock and jazz and did a lot of jamming with other budding musicians and even played a wedding! After college my ponytail got cut and I entered the workforce and started a family, but kept doing music – played with several rock and Americana bands in New York’s Albany and Hudson Valley regions, and I currently play electric guitar with The Warp/The Weft. I’ve always written songs, but my voice is rather plain so being able to collaborate with Mercy has been wonderful – she brings songs alive in a unique and expressive way – her voice is full of personality and color. And she’s selling herself short in the talent department – in addition to her vocal gifts, she is also a talented songwriter: she wrote “Lioness” and “Ice Cream” on our EP.

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kms / How would you describe the type of music you do? What does creating music mean to you (both on a professional and on a personal level)?
Mercy / Experimental may be the word for it, our sound is hard to categorize. I do not stick to one genre, I get inspired and the end result is purely genuine. Creating music is something that comes naturally and can only be advanced through collaborating with others that influence you to create outside of your comfort zone.
Chris / I totally agree. When you’re feeling inspired you have to follow wherever it leads. You can’t worry about what people will think. Like Mercy said, allowing inspiration to guide you is how you arrive at something genuine.

kms / How do you develop new tracks? How do you get from nothing to draft to the finished track?
Mercy / I mentioned that whenever Chris or I hear something we are developing that may work well with each other’s styles, we send the track along and it goes from there. We pass the track back and forth while adding feedback and see what happens.

kms / Describe your hard- and software setup for producing and recording.
Mercy / I record using a Yeti Blue microphone and Audacity.

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Chris / Mine is probably a typical home recording setup: A Rode NT1A condenser mic and several Sure condenser mics, an interface, and a Mac. And I’m surrounded by instruments –  guitars, bass, accordion, clarinet, drums, various percussive noisemakers and shakers, etc.  Most of the sounds on our recordings are real instruments played in front of microphones, so ours is an “organic” hand-made sound – though we do use some drum machine loops and an occasional sample on a few songs.

kms / In what ways do you distribute your music?
Mercy / We use Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Our EP can be purchased through there as well as CD Baby, iTunes, and it’s on streaming sites including Spotify.

kms / Are there any live gigs you played on or plan to play on?
Mercy / We have never played live together, this is something we should do, but do not live in the same state at this moment.

kms / After learning that you also collaborate with other artists as well, can we expect more of Chris and Mercy in the future or are you guys two musicians who happened to cross paths, now following their own projects again?
Mercy / We will for sure work together again. Whenever we hear something that we think will be enhanced by each other’s style we send it over and go from there.
Chris / I agree – we both work with a variety of other musicians and bands. Music is such an endless universe of possibilities and there are so many talented people to explore that universe with. Mercy and I will surely do more work together because it comes naturally with us and we’re liking the unique music we’re making.

mercylionesskms / You’re doing video clips as well. Who developed that idea? How much time do you have to spend for videos like these shown on your youtube account?
Mercy / Chris is the main man for these amazing videos, I provide some concept and some video recordings and he magically pulls it all together.
Chris / Making music videos is very time-consuming, but it’s a blast.  I’ve been working with moving images for many years – I used to shoot real 8mm Kodak celluloid film and edit it using razor blades and super glue! I still have an 8mm camera and projector, but you can’t buy the film anymore. Using software to manipulate digital images is so much easier and opens up so many more possibilities. But the concepts of visual story-telling are exactly the same as when I learned them cutting up celluloid back in the day. Mercy and I begin with a general idea for each video, but how it ends up really depends on what kind of footage we both bring to the table. A single arresting visual image can turn a project in a completely new direction. It helps a lot that Mercy is a natural in front of a camera. When you watch a video like “Lioness” you can really see what a riveting performer Mercy is on camera.

mercy-finalartFind out more about Mercy and Chris using the following links:
> soundcloud account (mercy) > soundcloud account (chris)
> instagram account (mercy)
> bandcamp page
> youtube channel

 

 

Spotlight: James Lowe

mdeSoundscaping is one of the most underrated arts in music. In a world where detail, creativity and affinity just don’t seem to be too important anymore, where music mostly is about melody and rhythm, where it’s all about compression, loudness and compability, there are still some who take their time to create outstanding sceneries. One of them is soundscape artist James Lowe, who gave us an insight about his first steps in music, the importance and beauty of details, the “Re-Processing Plant” – and why visiting the Royal Opera House wearing a Motörhead t-shirt isn’t a problem.

kms / Since when are you producing tracks? What was the defining moment/your starting point back then?
James / I first began to create and record sounds from a very early age. I was probably about seven years old, which was in 1970. I was very lucky to have an incredible childhood living and growing up on a hill farm in North Wales where I was surrounded by nature, sounds, and silence.
I remember being given a German ‘Tandberg’ open reel, single track, mono tape recorder which was the start for me, it really fired my imagination and interest in sound. Not knowing it at the time, I guess this was the defining moment for me, and my interest in the ‘Sound’ of sound which I’ve carried throughout my life. Looking back, I must have been a serious, mature seven year old (laughs), I would often be found recording the sound of the streams, river, tractors, old creaky doors, and of course the farm animals.

kms / How would you describe the type of music/soundscaping you do?
James / The pieces I write can be seen as a ‘snapshot’ of an event or experience. I don’t see them as a ‘story’ as such, as that would require a beginning, a middle, and an end. What I’m hoping to achieve when writing them is to give the listener an opportunity to become invisible, and step into the scene and experience being part of it. For me, it’s not just about the ‘sound’, it’s about How those sounds evoke a feeling or emotion, both are equally important, moreso with the interplay with other sounds being introduced or removed at that moment they occur. If you imagine a walking through a forest at 2 am in winter, I want to create every nuance of that, even the change of temperature on the lips as you exhale.

kms / What does creating music mean to you, both on a professional and on a personal level?
James / For me, being creative is as vital and necessary as breathing. I can’t imagine a single day without working towards being creative. For many years my enjoyment came solely from the ‘process’ of being creative, but at the age I am now, I’m finally enjoying listening back to, and sharing the pieces I’ve created. In the past I’d not let anyone hear what I’d produced, and in fact, I must have at least 70 odd albums worth of material produced from a whole range of working methods which have yet to see the light of day. Money has no place in the world of art, it disgusts me, it creates exclusivity, privilege and status. Being ‘Frowned’ upon whilst I’m sitting in the Royal Opera House wearing my Motorhead tee shirt does not sit well with me.

kms / How do you develop new tracks? How do you get from draft to the finished track?
James /  Depending on the project at hand, I’ll have many and various ways and methods of writing. My personal output is always created away from instruments as such. Oftentimes, reading or being inspired by another work of art, be that dance, sculpture, even an overheard conversation will inspire me. From here, I’ll have an idea for a scene or ‘snapshot’ I want to develop. That scene will then open up the ‘type’ of sounds I wish to create with the synthesizers. As you can no doubt hear from my work, equal temperament and the twelve tone system have no place in my creativity from a melodic point of view. That said, I do enjoy the effect of a tonic and minor second being played together.
In developing and designing sounds for a piece, I’ll often create between 25 – 50 patches on various synthesizers, chosen for their own unique timbral quality, and oftentimes the complexity of the modulation matrix, which is an absolute ‘Must’ for me. From here, I can start to create a ‘palette’ from which to write. I usually choose between 7 – 15 complimentary and contrasting sounds for the piece.

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kms / Describe your hard- and software setup.
James /  I don’t have a standard setup as such of any permanence as I’d probably find that quite restrictive. I use range of analogue modules and digital boxes together, along with software I developed which I call ‘The Re-Processing Plant’ to combine it all. It’s all a bit of a mish-mash of CV / MIDI converters on the hardware side, but the ‘Plant’ is the software heart to combine the sounds, and is also my Multitrack Tape Machine. Back in the 1980’s I worked in the music technology / programming side of things, so was fortunate enough to get my hands on the likes of Fairlights, Emulators, PPG’s etc. All of which I sampled and still use the sounds of today. I must have 30 years worth of vintage equipment in my sample libraries to choose from.

kms / How do you distribute your music?
James /  That’s something I’m currently working on to develop. At the moment, all my output is on Soundcloud, but I am hoping to release work on my own label. I dislike using the word ‘label’ as it makes me sound like a massive corporation, in a vast ocean of massive corporations (laughs). I’m just walking the walk, I’m interested in the Art, not my ego.

kms / Are there any live projects, past or upcoming? And what about collaborations?
James /  My Missus, Tanya and myself have a project together called A470. We write and record soundscapes and pieces together. Tanya lends her incredibly emotive voice to both the ‘spoken word’ pieces, and also sings. She also programs, designs sounds, and composes for us both. We were hoping to perform at a few events this summer, but due to other work commitments we were unable to. We have been invited to perform at an electronica event in London in January, so we’re looking forward to that.
We are currently collaborating with the incredible Australian experimental video artist, Jutta Pryor. And we’re exhibiting as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery with an immersive sound, light and projection installation.
I’m also currently working with a synth-pop artist whos career has spanned over 30 years. The project will pay homage to the work of Tangerine Dream, and we’re hoping to re-create their unique early 80’s sound.

kms / Are you signed to a label?
James /  Yes, I’m with a label based in Paris and Berlin called Micromod. I’m on their ‘experimental’ off-shoot called Microrama, and feel very privileged to be among such great artists.

kms / Are you participating in any projects outside of producing on your own?
James /  I recently met with the producer and director of a full length feature film to initially discuss using my soundscapes in various scenes, as incidental music, and also for end credits. This is an area I’m looking forward to working in, the deadlines will keep me on my toes. I’ve had a chance to look at a few scenes, and of course, the promotional trailer, and I think the sounds will sit quite well. I can’t give too much away at the moment, but it’s somewhere along the lines of an Alien Invasion with hints of 28 Days Later. It focusses on the human condition and response which is what appealed to me.
On top of all this, I’m in the middle of producing ‘Soundware’ due for commercial release around mid September in the form of Sample Libraries, which are as yet untitled. Long, Dark, Evolving Alien Textures (it says here).

Find out more about James Lowe and his work using the following links:
> soundcloud account
> facebook account
> artist page
> record label

Spotlight: Serris

12699187_1045752832134706_1895834416_oProducing tracks from scratch is hard work. Recently we talked to Serris aka Timothée Maillot, a 23 year old french producer and drummer, about his concept, ideas and process of creating electro tracks, and we even got a glimpse on his hardware setup and distribution ways.

kms / How did you get to produce Electro tracks? What was the defining moment?
Serris / I began electro production about three years ago, but it became a serious thing for me about a year ago. I was listening to electronic music a couple of times, constantly discovering many great artists and projects, so one day I decided I wanted to try creating tracks myself. I bought a sound card and monitor speakers, plus I had help from a friend whose knowledge was very valuable for me during the starting process.

kms / How do you develop new tracks? How do you get from zero to the finished song?
Serris / That depends. Most of the time I work with my synth with no real idea, trying out different things without too much reflexion. It doesn’t matter if it’s a synth line or a drum beat or percussions – I try to put it from the idea in my head to the track. When something good comes out of it, I start to develop my track step by step around that initial idea. I never have something like a global idea of what I’ll create before actually starting to work on the track.

kms / Describe your hard- and software setup.
Serris /  I’m working with Ableton Live as the heart of my setup. Synth-wise I own a Arturia Minibrute, and as additional support I’m using a microphone to record some sounds for the percussion, snare, kick or hi-hat most of the time. Of course, I’m also using all kinds of percussion sound banks.

kms / Are you signed to a label?
Serris /  At the moment I’m not signed to any label, but I’m looking for that, because I finished a new track I want to have distributed as soon as possible, preferably with a label.

kms / Are there any upcoming projects?
Serris /  No, right now there are no live events planned, because I’m still lacking some hardware needed for that. As soon as I have that, I’ll try to go on stage with it. But this could take a couple of months.

kms / How do you distribute your music at this time?
Serris /  For now I share my work for free on Soundcloud and Youtube, plus I’m keeping fans updated via a facebook page.

kms / Are you into collaborations?
Serris /  Yes, I’m definetly interested and open for collab projects. Any artist interested can contact me through my social media links.

Visu korvauFind out more about Serris and his work using the following links:
> soundcloud account
> facebook account
> youtube channel

Spotlight: Neliya

IMG_5673What’s the drive to be a musician nowadays? Where do the creative ideas come from and what does it take to be a singer/songwriter? We sat down with 20 year-old alternative rock singer/songwriter Neliya to talk about where she came from and where she’s heading.

kms / How did you discover music when you started singing/songwriting?
Neliya / I vaguely remember always moving as close as possible to the speakers of our CD player when I was five or six years old, so that I could sing along with the artist and make my voice ‘blend’ in with the music. So, even back then I had a passion for singing. But the first time I really started seeing myself as a musician was when I took decent vocal lessons and started to develop my own style of singing. It was at that time that I discovered two bands, one named ‘Evanescence’, and the other ‘Breaking Benjamin’, while watching a video on youtube. The vocalists’ style of singing, their authenticity, and the way both bands combined popular, classical, melancholic and heavy elements, intrigued and inspired me so much that I started to see music in a different way. Before discovering this genre, I saw music as something exciting and fun. But now music has become an emotional and profound way to write down my feelings, experiences and views and to inspire and share it with others.

kms / Describe your writing process. From idea to lyrics.
Neliya / My writing process is very peculiar to say the least…I’m not a songwriter who sits at her desk or at her piano, and tries to come up with something fruitful. You might say it’s more intuitive than that.
Emotion is the main ‘ingredient’ when it comes to my songs. Whenever I feel a certain way, or whenever I want to write about something, I imagine myself being in a movie. And what kind of music do we get to hear in a movie? Right. We have a movie score. And most of the times, movie scores do not even need lyrics or vocals to convey a certain message or feeling. My greatest inspiration in that aspect is John Williams, the score composer of movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter. To me, the lyrics support the music, rather than music supporting the lyrics.
Everything I feel, or want people to feel, is ‘hidden’ in the melodies, the chord progression, and the way I sing those melodies. The lyrics are some sort of translation; to give my listeners an idea, a hint, or rather unraveling a fraction of the emotions in a particular song. The real emotion and intensity comes from the music itself. To put this all in a nutshell: I always try to make ambient songs, and I mainly think like a movie composer while doing so. My actual writing process is simple: Sometimes I stand behind my window, taking in the view of our beautiful garden when suddenly a melody crosses my mind that usually fits my current emotion or situation. Before I forget the melody, I rush to my cellphone, hit the Audio Recorder App, and record it. In this case, I create the music first, and the lyrics are second.
But, there are some exceptions when I feel so strong or intense about something that I simply have to write it down in words first. Then, you’ll find me rushing to my ‘Notes’ app and quickly and chaotically typing all the stuff I want to say. In that case, the music is made after I’m done with the lyrics.
So you see, I do not have a fixed writing process. To put it in a very poetical context: My songs are like a diary to me, and my voice is like the pen I choose to write with.

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kms / Are there any obstacles when writing?
Neliya /  When you devote your whole heart and soul to creating a song, and when you do so with a lot of emotion there almost aren’t any obstacles because you just stop using your brain at some point and just let yourself fall into a dreamworld. Sometimes, when I feel that I’m lacking inspiration, I google some images of fairies and evil angels, and other mystical creatures to create a bridge between the real/pragmatic world and the passionate fantasy world full of opportunities. For example, I came up with my song ‘Evil Angel’ that way, and I was literally humming the melodies to it while scrolling through all those beautiful and ethereal images. The only hindrance I’m facing at the moment, are my piano skills. Unfortunately, I started taking piano lessons only a few weeks ago, so before that, I had to teach myself how to play. It went very well, but without the proper guidance I couldn’t play more complicated stuff. Although this should be no problem for me as I like to keep my songs as simple as possible, I still feel like I could do so much better. But hey! I’ve definitely made the right decision with taking lessons. I’m learning pretty fast, and soon I’ll have the possibility to compose and play songs in a better way.

kms / Are you into collaboration projects or signed exclusively?
Neliya /  I’m always open to collaboration. But, the problem with collaboration is that most of the time, the wrong people ask you to collaborate with them. It’s like they don’t even check out your stuff to see if it’s actually their thing. And you see, I hate rejecting people. I’m very good-natured, so it’s very hard for me to tell hard-working musicians I have to decline their offer. But that’s just how it goes.
I’ve also been rejected multiple times when asking to join a band or a project. The only thing we can do is to accept it and keep going. There are so many moments when I actually thing of giving up, but I’d rather jump out of a window before that ever happens.
I’m not signed yet, but I’ve sent some demos to some smaller labels. Of course, I’ve also considered a few majors, but let’s be real, you gotta start on a shoestring in this business. I’m currently collaborating with ‘kms’, and this encounter was definitely a light in the dark. Nowadays it’s pretty hard to find people who understand your style of music to such an extent, and produce your music the exact way you had envisioned it to be. I’m very happy to be part of this amazing experience.

kms / Describe your experience with the music scene today. Is it alive (enough) these days?
11893805_946853945422913_2502778769843678809_oNeliya /  I’m torn between yes and no. On the one hand, this is the digital age and so, especially as an aspiring singer-songwriter, you have so many possibilities to promote your music and get heard, and that’s why many musicians with real talent have the opportunity to get signed and make the music scene come alive like it never was before. But, on the other hand, I think what the music scene today is mostly lacking is pure, heartfelt, authentic, and most of all, UNIQUE music.
When I listen to some ‘supposedly’ very emotional songs written in 2015 or 2016, I always see the same pattern. The same chord progression. Everything sounds too generic. Isn’t a musician supposed to stand out because they make exceptional and unique music, rather than having an exceptional outfit? Isn’t the word ‘musician’ implying that you have to be good at music first, rather than applying tons of make-up and calling yourself a good musician because you sound ‘exactly’ like another one who is successful; or because your sound engineer did exceptional work on using autotunes on your vocals?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s almost essential to have an idol or inspiration, and it’s definitely a good thing to express your influences in your music. But what IS wrong, is trying to be exactly like your idol without trying to be yourself in the first place. My motto is to ‘always stay true to yourself’, and if this aspect isn’t fulfilled, then you’re better off with a cover band or a tribute band to your role model. I for one am sometimes compared to my sources of inspiration, and that’s pretty cool, but my goal is to be different and to convey my own unique style to others. I want to be the one that inspires people at the end of the day.

kms / In what ways is Neliya different from the real/private you?
Neliya /  In no ways but the name. I’m just being me. I’m shy, emotional, and sometimes even clumsy. And I wouldn’t change that for the world! And even if I SHOULD become successful, it wouldn’t change a thing.
Humans ain’t perfect and flawless, and so there’s no need to show myself in a different or better way than I actually am. People want to be able to relate to you, to identify themselves with you. If you pretend to be an unapproachable musician who is ‘perfect’ and professional in any situation you might come off as unsympathetic and dull, with no personality. So, I’m proud to say that Nikki (my real name) and Neliya are one and the same person.

kms / What would you change if you had the power to influence the way things are run in the music scene?
Neliya /  Well, going by what I said previously, I would change many things… If I was working at a record label, I would look for hidden talent, rather than measuring talent by how many plays or fans a certain track has. I’m an avid listener on Spotify, and most of the outstandingly good bands I discover are the ones that have only 12 to 100 listeners. For example, I found a great band named ‘April Divine’, an alternative rock band from Sweden, and they have more potential than some of the more successful rock bands out there. If a major had given them a chance, they would have had way more profits, and the band would have had a better career, thus it would have been beneficial for both. But then you see labels choosing artists that are already well-known, and then it suddenly becomes a major flop because after a while, the lack of talent becomes evident…..well, most of the time anyway.

11116536_822982837810025_3792790750058639166_nFind out more about Neliya and her recent work using the following links:
> soundcloud account
> facebook account
> twitter account

Spotlight: Djazel

image2netNowadays, taking it to the next level isn’t a very easy thing to do as an upcoming artist. We talked to Djazel, an aspiring hip-hop recording artist, singer/songwriter and model from Toronto about her career, her creative writing process, her projects and what needs to be done to make a name in the music business.

kms / How stacked is your schedule right now? Any upcoming projects?
Djazel / My schedule is extremely stacked right now and I know that as time goes on it’ll just keep stacking! I’m not complaining though, it’s a good busy.
I’m working on a few different projects at the moment. One of them is a remix version of The Checklist EP which I’m planning to release some time in October. Another project I’m working on is a weekly vlog. Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to go on these huge rants and apparently it’s pretty entertaining. I’ve had quite a few people be like “you should really start a vlog,” so.. I’m finally doing it. I’m a passionate person as well as a bit of a comedian; I enjoy making people laugh and while I do exercise those sides of me through some of my lyrics, I’ll really be able to take entertaining my fans and my audience to the next level with my vlog. When I plan to debut it is yet to be determined; I still have a few things to take care of before I can pick a date, but I’m getting close!

image1netkms / Describe your writing process.
Djazel / Honestly, I know it’s strange but I get my best ideas when I’m in the shower so the biggest obstacle for me right now is not being able to record a voice note on my phone or jot anything down until after I’ve gotten out of the shower. I literally have to repeat the hook or the melody out loud until I can record it or write it down just so that I won’t forget it.

kms / Do you have any rituals or habits when writing?
Djazel / I never really consciously thought of it until now to be honest. One of my rituals is smoking weed. I’ll either roll something up, or smoke my bong and vibe out to the music to get in the mood before I actually start writing. It just helps me to focus and connect with the music. If there’s a certain emotion I’m experiencing, it allows me to narrow in on that emotion. If I’m trying to clear my mind, it allows me to do that as well. I guess you could say it’s a form of meditation for me. Another ritual is having to use pen and paper to write. I have a book that I write all of my songs and ideas in but if I don’t have it on me for some reason, I’ll write on anything, napkins, paper bags, scrap paper, my hand, absolutely anything I can find, until I can transfer the lyrics or idea to my song book. I can’t do the whole writing on my phone thing, it drives me fucking nuts. I may jot down an idea in my phones “Notes” if I can’t physically write something down for whatever reason but I always end up going back and writing it in my song book. Even when I record my vocals, I put my handwritten lyrics on a sheet music stand instead of reading it off of a phone or tablet. It’s just easier for me to read and easier for my eyes to focus on.

kms / Tell us a bit more of your writing process.
Djazel / My writing processes vary. I wouldn’t say I just have one. The writing process I tend to use the most is writing to an instrumental. Sometimes I already have a concept in mind, sometimes I don’t and I just write based on how the instrumental makes me feel at that time. I’ll sit there with the instrumental on repeat, writing section by section, starting with the hook and then the verses or bridges. I don’t usually write the ad libs or harmonies until I record the vocals. Sometimes I write lyrics without an instrumental and and look for a producer who can create the production that I envision for the song. For instance, I’ve written lyrics to a single drum line and I’ve written lyrics inspired by the melodies of classic songs as well as Top 40 songs. All of my ideas and concepts come from my life though, my lyrics always tell a story or have some sort of message.

_MG_0015netkms / Are you into collaboration projects? Or are you signed exclusively?
Djazel / I’m an independent artist and while I’m into and open to collaboration projects, I’m also very careful as to who I collaborate with. If I choose to collaborate with someone it’s because the collaboration makes sense for both parties involved and I feel that the other artist(s) work at the same caliber as I do or they have a similar mindset with similar goals. I’m just not trying to waste my time or creative energy on projects that won’t see the light of day just because people can’t get their shit together. A lot of artists don’t do the things that they’re supposed to do to show that they’re as serious as they say they are. I feel like if you’re an artist who’s serious about your craft, you should at least know certain things about music and about the industry, and the artists that don’t know or aren’t even interested in taking the time to research and learn those things are exactly the kinds of “artists” I stay away from collaborating with.

kms / Describe your experience with the music scene today. Is it alive (enough) these days?
Djazel / The music scene is definitely alive and well these days, especially with the internet and social media. There’s a real opportunity for artists to reach the masses globally, the tricky part is not only figuring out how to do that and how to stay relevant but also how to make a comfortable living doing it. People can argue that the music scene is dead, but in my experience it isn’t dead, it’s just changed and continues to evolve. The reality is that the “music scene” is primarily digital nowadays. People don’t really come out to your shows unless you have an impressive presence and following online. I feel like a lot of artists fail due to lack of originality and lack of a business mentality. They call it the music business for a reason and a lot of artists can’t even grasp that. The same people saying that the music scene is dead are the same people who don’t like or accept change. They don’t understand it so it’s just easier for them to dismiss it as dead.

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kms / What would you change if you had the power to influence the way things are run in the music scene?
Djazel / If I had the power to influence or change anything in the music industry, it would have to be royalties for digital streams. A lot of big artists such as Taylor Swift have spoken out on this issue and continue to fight for change. We don’t even get peanuts for digital streams as artists, okay? We get the thin shells that separate the peanut from the thicker outer shell. It’s so crazy. Pharrell’s “Happy” track was streamed 43 million times and he only made like $3,000. That really puts into perspective what the artists (who don’t even come close to millions of streams) make in royalties. It’s literally nothing. It’s definitely not enough to live off of which is why a lot of artists have to rely on other avenues of making  income such as touring, merchandise, endorsements, sponsorships, advances, etc. It’s the biggest problem the music industry is facing right now and it’s something that should have been dealt with a long time ago through appropriate legislation.

_MG_0036akms / In what ways is “Djazel the artist” different from “Djazel the real/private you”?
Djazel / Djazel is the real me and I am the real Djazel. My name isn’t just a stage name, it’s actually my given birth name. The attitude and persona that you see isn’t an act, it’s me. It took me a lot of time to get to a point where I was confident and comfortable enough with myself to be able to not only do, think or say what I wanted or how I felt but also present that publicly without worrying about backlash and what people said or thought of me. I had to learn to fall in love with myself and let go of the insecurities or worries that held me back, basically emancipating myself from myself. I had to throw myself in unknown, scary, uncomfortable and intimidating situations just to grow not only as an artist but also as a human being. I’m not trying to put on an act and hide behind it, that’s the last thing I want to do.

kms / You’re also into modeling. How did that happen?
Djazel / Like I said in one of the earlier questions, it’s called the music business for a reason, and while you may think that music and modelling have nothing to do with each other, they actually do because both are under the bigger scope and umbrella of the entertainment industry. As someone who realizes, knows and understands all of this, I also realize, know and understand that to be successful in the music business, you have to be a multi-talent within the entertainment industry as a whole. You have to be able to offer more than one talent. You have to be a work horse making money otherwise you’re useless and easily replaceable. The competition is crazy so you always have to be one step ahead in some way just to stand out. You also always want to have your hands in more than one thing to ensure your security long-term. With all that said, I started seriously pursuing modelling as a way to promote myself as well as my music.

kms / Is there anything you’d like to do in the future that you haven’t already done?
Djazel / I want to go on tour in the future – provincially, nationally, and internationally. That’s the level I want to achieve. That’s the dream. That’s the goal. I’ve even planned and thought of stage design for future tours. I’d love to act, I think acting is so much fun. I took a few acting classes last summer and got a cute little acting certificate after I had completed my final assessment. I also have a few different ideas for novels and movie scripts that I’d like to write and pitch to production and publishing companies. There are honestly so many things that I want to do, so many things that I have planned for the future, but at the same time, I’ve also learned not say too much so you’ll just have to keep watching and listening.

kms / What do you recommend all the new unknown artists who struggle to get their music heard out there?
Djazel / Think long-term. Think business. Be prepared to invest in yourself and your craft. Promote yourself any chance you get and collaborate with other artists who are willing to promote you as well. Be choosey with who you create and keep professional relationships with. Don’t allow anyone to influence you, your art or your creativity – I don’t care if it’s your best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, mom, dad, sister, grandma, producer, bandmate, etc. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t be an artist and definitely don’t allow them to tell you how to be an artist. If this is what you really want to do, do it. Follow your dreams and your heart but take your brain with you. Be careful and cautious. Be guarded. Know your worth. Know your value. Be original and unique while still being real. Create your own lane. Prepare to fail repeatedly but also prepare to learn from those failures to create greatness and success. Most importantly, never give up!

The Checklist EP Artwork FRONTnet

Find out more about the smart and sexy Djazel and her recently released EP “The Checklist” using the following links:
> official homepage
> soundcloud account
> facebook account
> twitter account

To get in touch with Djazel, you can check her contact page.

Spotlight: Ste Bruce, Rewired Records

FB_IMG_1460815055730There are many labels out there, covering all kinds of genres all over the world. Most of the labels are like beacons caring for their artists and genres, even with the massive changes the music industry is going through permanently. One of these committed labels is Rewired Records located in Middlesbrough, England. We had a chance to talk to Ste Bruce, the owner of the label, about his label and upcoming projects.

kms / What was the idea that led to Rewired Records?
Ste Bruce / I started the Rewired label on my own around 2010 when I was 19 years old. I started selling my Makina and Hardcore tracks through the IMO Download site before it closed down. During that time I met other producers online that were happy to collaborate with me and release tracks through Rewired, so our team started to grow. The IMO platform was pretty limited and the service was poor so i set up our own website. Soon we had a strong team and a good following so we started releasing CD albums which we sold through the online store.

kms / Are you busy besides running the label?
Ste Bruce / I am a DJ/producer and use the alias ‘Infinite’ (formerly DJ Brucey) for my songs and DJ sets. I teamed up with DJ Destroy (Micky Dale) who is a well known DJ in the north east rave scene and we started collaborating and releasing tracks as ‘2 Elements’. With his experience as a DJ and my skills as a producer, we made a great team. We were soon getting booked to play our tracks in clubs alongside some of the big DJ’s and MC’s that we had listened to as kids, which was an amazing feeling.
I am also a graphic designer and recently started designing and selling my own vst plugins / synths which are available from the Rewired webshop.

kms / How do you reach out for other artists to be featured by Rewired?
Ste Bruce / Today, we have some amazing DJs and producers in our team, regularly releasing new tracks and mixes. We’re always looking for new producers to join the team. You can send demos to us through Facebook, Soundcloud or email.

kms / In your opinion, is the music scene alive (enough) these days?
Ste Bruce / I think the main problem with the scene is that people take things too seriously and focus too much on what other people are doing. Music should be fun, not about who’s the best. In my opinion the rave scene is very much alive now thanks to the newer labels such as ourselves, Monta Musica and Paradox Records, bringing fresh music to the scene.

kms / How would you like to see your label to develop through the next
 couple of years? Are there major changes or projects to come?
Ste Bruce / I’m looking forward to working with other labels and event promoters and can’t wait to see what the future will bring. As for the major projects coming up we have our very first Rewired event called ‘Evolution’ planned for the 9th September this year in Middlesbrough, which we are hoping to make a regular event. Tickets will be available from our website soon and the event audio packs will be on sale after.

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Find out more about Rewired Records using the following links:
> official homepage
> soundcloud account
> facebook account

To get in touch with Rewired Records, you can check their contact page.