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Artist Highlight – Delaney Gibson

November 18, 2014 in Music by Ali Wakil

Our artist highlight is none other than the talented Delaney Gibson. With the new release of her new music video “Stars,” the new single taken from her album “Tall Like The Tree,” Delaney Gibson is surely reaching for the stars.

Independent singer/songwriter, Delaney Gibson‘s unique style of confessional, theatrical-pop music is on full display with her new album, Tall Like the Tree(2014). Check out our exclusive and intimate interview below:

1. Tell us about your name, Delaney Gibson. Was Delaney your original birth name and who gave you that name? Do you have any nicknames?
Delaney Gibson is my REAL name! Delaney is technically my middle name, but I’ve always used it. When I was on tour, singing backup for Wheatus, Wes, from Indywood films gave me the nickname – Delolo. I’ve always liked that one :)
2. What city were you born and raised in? How has that influenced your sound?
I was born in Panama City, Florida. But, we moved to California shortly after I was born. I was raised in the seaside town of Ventura, CA. I don’t know how much my city influenced my music. I think my inspiration definitely comes from my vivid imagination. I’ve never really fit in on the West Coast. I need seasons and much less sun. My sound was really defined when I moved to NYC. That is where I feel my real home is.
3. What would you say your genre of music is? Have you always imagined this was the genre you would embrace and perform? What other genre of music could you envision yourself experimenting with?
Theatrical-baroque-pop. I grew up doing musical theater and I have a degree in classical voice. I am very influenced by grandeur! Baz Luhrman is my idol and I love the old torch singers and the American Songbook. I could see myself doing trip-hop as well. I’m actually starting a new band called, SÍGNY. We pull a lot of our influences from trip-hop music.
4. How did you get connected with artists like Barbara Streisand and Barry Manilow?
This was an awesome gig in my college years! I attended the music program at California State University, Northridge. The top choir that I was a member of got a call for this gig. It was truly an exceptional night!
5. Aside from singing and music, what are some hobbies/activities you like to do on a regular basis?
I LOVE taking photos, design, editing. I’m also learning how to cook awesome paleo-gluten-free meals! I have a blog called “Mastering Mrs.” Where I’m trying to suck a little less at domestic life :) www.masteringmrs.com
6. What do you do to relax after a long day of work?
Red Wine. End of story.
7. Describe what a typical Saturday night looks like for you.
Watching Netflix with my husband and 1 year old son, Copeland (named after the composer Aaron Copland). I go REALLY hard on the weekends, haha.
8. STARS is a beautifully written song! What was your inspiration behind the words?
Thank you! I have a lot of musical friends in NYC and we are all trying to make careers out of our passions. This song came from one of our many conversations about becoming successful and the challenges behind our work and art. My bestest friend, Nikki really inspires me. She is mega talented and such a hard worker. I really kinda wrote this song for her. To remind her that, “She’s got the stuff.”
9. What kinds of feelings do you channel when you are performing one of your masterpieces? Describe a moment when you realized the audience was really connecting with you as an artist.
Masterpiece is very generous! I’m just in the moment. I don’t really know what happens, I go somewhere else and hope for the best! I guess I know I’m doing my job when people keep showing up and spreading my music.
10. What projects are you working on currently that you would you like our readers to support?
Follow up my “eff-ups” and wins on my personal blog, Mastering Mrs. and be on the look out for new music from me and my new band, SÍGNY www.wearesigny.com
11. How can we find more of your music? Feel free to provide links to all your relevant social networks and webpages.

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ERYKAH BADU invokes Begging Spirit in NY Times Square

October 17, 2014 in Media, Music by Ali Wakil

Erykah Badu’s latest experiment has not been received so well. In an attempt to disguise herself as a beggar on New York City’s streets, the eclectic Bag Lady songstress sang out in loud, raspy pleas, “I need some money; please give me some money.”

I absolutely love that she had the courage to do this, but I think it was done in awful taste. Here’s what Erykah Badu should have done:

1. Team up with a charity targeting homeless people here in New York and offer to donate the proceeds of her performance, with an additional set amount for each hour she remained out there.

2. Sing a full song through and through. Everyone knows that the homeless people with the random outbursts and poor talent often make the least coin.

3. Get a better camera man and better quality video. It is 2014 for heaven’s sake.

With all that said, I love and adore Erykah Badu, but this cry for attention sort of confused me.

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The Eclectic Sounds of Iman Omari – Artist Highlight

October 16, 2014 in Music by Ali Wakil

For some time, I have been obsessed with the spacey sounds vocalist/producer Iman Omari has released into the universe. The jazzy, neo soul vocals of Iman Omari have hypnotized many across hist native West Coast and word has spread to ears across the United States. It is only right to have such talent as our artist highlight of the day.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Iman Omari is the son of a Somalian mother and a Jamaican father. Notably, Iman’s mother is Tracey Patrick, a member of the ’80s group Klymaxx and his father is also a musician. His uncle, Joseph Leimberg, is a trumpet player and producer for Snoop Dogg. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as Iman Omari produced for Gia Scott-Heron, Kendrick Lamar, TiRon & Ayomari, and OverDoz.

With the (VIBE)rations LP, Energy EP and several other projects under his belt, Iman Omari has a lot of potential waiting to be discovered and spread to the rest of the world.

 

Take a listen to some new material from his Samahdi (meaning the ultimate stage of yoga) EP here:

The following video was the reason I tapped into this singer’s energy:

http://imanomari.bandcamp.com/music

https://twitter.com/IamImanOmari

 

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Kristyna Myles Launches Her Pledge Music Campaign – Support Now!

October 10, 2014 in Media by Ali Wakil

Earlier this year, singer/songwriter Kristyna Myles released her ‘Pinch Me Quick’ debut album on her label Take Note Recordings. Her project has been received well by the masses; it was described as “absolutely stunning” by Paul Weller and most recently has just been nominated for a MOBO Award for Best Gospel Act.

Kristyna has also released her latest video ‘Just Three Little Words’ who has been recently named Best Inspirational Song of 2014 by Gospel Touch Music Awards.

The talented artist is now looking for some support and here is why you should help. The PledgeMusic campaign is an interactive vehicle enabling fans to join forces with Kristyna, offering exclusive incentives such as a day in the studio whilst the album is recorded, a Painting Party where Kristyna will come and paint your house and perform a private house concert, plus the Pledger will receive exclusive behind the scene ‘pledge-only’ interactive video and photo content throughout the course of the campaign, continuing until the Album’s release in March next year.

All of these incentives will provide the funding for Kristyna & her band to go into the studio with Mercury Prize Nominated producer Andy Ross and bring to life her self-penned songs which aim to encourage the listener on their journey through looking at life lessons & inspirational subject matter.

If you’d like to join Kristyna on this exciting journey please visit www.kristynamyles.com for more details and start pledging on September 25th when the ‘Paint A Brighter Day’ PledgeMusic campaign launches.

Follow Kristyna on Twitter Facebook and Instagram for the #paintabrighterdaychallenge

Sign up to Kristyna’s newsletter at www.kristynamyles.com for email updates

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Artist Highlight – Who are You? w/ JUDITH UDE!!!

March 7, 2014 in Media, Music by Ali Wakil

A relaxed and soulful sound always gets my attention. Judith Ude exudes this and more in her new project “In Your Hands” set to be officially released on March 15th. Hailing from the great England, Judith has potential to do really well in this industry. A master of her craft, Judith Ude writes, arranges and produces her own music. We were able to catch up with this songbird. Read our wonderful interview below!

 

1. Please introduce yourself .

My name is Judith Ude and I am an unsigned singer-songwriter.

2. You were born in Nottingham, but where does your last name Ude originate? Where were you raised and what influence has your upbringing had on your music?

My surname hails from Nigeria but I was born and raised in sunny England. I think that my African roots have definitely impacted my musical style. I love percussive music. Anything that makes me move, tap or bob my head… Unusual but uplifting sounds always grab my attention. Being a British girl, I see how artists here embrace and cultivate their own unique style, and it’s inspired me to do the same.

3. Tell us more about your electro acoustic rock and soul sound.

It’s more like Alternative Soul really. It’s got melodic vibe and rhythm, but with a bit of filthy rock edge. I love the sound of guitars but I like to mix them up with crazy drum loops, vocal layers and harmonies. That’s my sound.

4. Do you write your own music and compose the accompanying tracks? If so, talk about that process. What software do you utilize and what is the length of the creation process for you? From where do you draw your inspiration?

I write, arrange and produce all my own tracks. I love being able to put my personal stamp on the music I create. The process is always different, sometimes I get the melody and then the words, sometimes I get them both together. Sometimes I dream songs and record what I remember of them when I wake up! It’s never the same process. I don’t have a formula or anything like that, I just let things flow out of me and then see what I have to work with. I use music software along with live instruments to create my sound. I know when a piece is done by the fact that it doesn’t take over my mind in the way it does whilst I’m working on it. My inspiration is infinite. There is no one thing that helps me to write my music but life certainly has a way of giving me something to share. I like people to have hope, feel motivated and full of love. That’s what I try and get across through my songs.

5. Do you play a lot of sets in the UK? Tell us about the best and worst venue you have performed in.

I try to play a few of gigs every month. I don’t have a favorite or least favorite venue, I guess as long as the crowd enjoy what they’re hearing from me, and I’m having a good time , that’s all that matters. I would have to say though, I played a cathedral-like church venue in Lithuania back in 2012 and the acoustics took my breath away. It’s the only time in my life when I’ve felt self indulgent on stage, I just wanted to keep singing! The crowd were beautiful and they gave me my first entire venue standing ovation. I’ll never forget it.

6. Are there any future plans to venture into the U.S.?

I’m waiting for the day when I get a call from the likes of India Arie, Janelle Monae or Mutemath saying that they need me to support them on tour in the U.S. That would be nice…

7. You have a talented, soulful and refreshing voice. Which major artists have influenced your sound?

Thank you very much. I’d have to say that vocally I’ve grown up being influenced by the likes of Lauryn Hill, Desiree, Sheryl Crow and Erykah Badu. My sound is ever evolving and is influenced by different artists all the time. I love Seal, I love Timbaland’s production style, but I also love the soaring strings of Ralph Vaughn Williams. It’s hard to choose just one influence when I have so many…

8. Which major artist do you dream one day to collaborate with?

Can I only pick one??? Hmmm, I’d have to say Chris Cornell in that case. I LOVE his voice, it’s got everything; soul, edge, feeling… Basically, his voice is everything that I hope my music is.

9. Tell us about the project you are currently working on.

Well, I’ve just independently released my single ‘Who Are You For’. It’s an uplifting track about running after and taking hold of your dreams. It’s taken from my upcoming EP ‘In Your Hand’s’ which is currently available to pre-order on iTunes and due to be released on 15th March. I’m really excited to share my music with the world, it feels like it’s been a long time coming.

10. If it were the last song you could ever sing, which song would you choose and why?

Amazing Grace. That first verse sums up so much about where I’ve been, where I am now and where I’m going.

11. Where can we find your music?

http://www.judithude.co.uk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYtVz73dkl4

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/in-your-hands-ep/id815237906

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/who-are-you-for-single/id822145359?ls=1

https://www.facebook.com/JudithUdeFanPage

https://twitter.com/judith_ude

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SoulFinger – Rediscovering the LEGENDS

February 26, 2014 in HISTORY, Media, Music by Ali Wakil

Ever wonder what happened to great soul singers like Truth Hurts and Jaguar Wright? The music industry is a messed up, controlled industry. Artists seldom have the freedom to authentically express themselves under major labels. Remember the good old jams like Addictive and Let me be the one?

Want to hear m ore of artists like Martin Luther, Teedra Moses and Leela James? There is a huge opportunity to do so via the SoulFinger production!

Soulfinger is the music production team behind “Life, Love & Passion”

A heartfelt artistic statement paying tribute to the great songwriters of the classic “Motown” era. The idea was to highlight and re-record B-sides of lesser known soul music gems from the late 60ties up to mid of 70ties, inviting a variety of amazing artists to perform on one song each:

Leela James • Teedra Moses • Jaguar Wright • Kathy Sledge • Syleena Johnson • Anthony David • Truth Hurts • Martin Luther • Joi • Stephanie McKay • Antonique Smith • Angela Johnson • Ben L’Oncle Soul • Sara Devine • Milla Brune • Mizzy

The SoulFinger Production is uniquely packaged with luxury. The project is a super-limited, hand-numbered collector’s item. This will not be released in digital form, no iTunes, no Amazon, no Spotify.

FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE BELOW:
SUPPORT THE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN BY CLICKING HERE!

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Artist Highlight – Afghanistan based White City Band!

February 18, 2014 in Media, Music by Ali Wakil

A “white light” in the midst of a global conflict. That is exactly what White City band has proven to be. A rock band based in Kabul, Afghanistan, White City provides rock-therapy to a population in desperate need of it. This group’s history and cultivation is extremely fascinating! We were able to get an exclusive interview with the band. ENJOY!

 

1. Name the current members of White City Band and the cities/countries in which they were born and raised.

 Ruth “Ru” Owen, London, UK (singer, bass); Travis “Travka” Beard, Melbourne, Australia (guitar, FX); Andreas “Andronik” Stefansson, Stockholm, Sweden (drums, backing vox)

2. Where did the White City name originate?

Ru: The United Nations have a series of increasing alerts to warn people of security issues. Once they issue the alert, a lot of international organizations follow suite. “White City” means stay inside your house or compound and don’t go out. The band found that every time we organized a jam, the UN would call White City and a lot of people would be too scared to venture out. Only the hardcore crowd would attend our gigs, so we decided to own the name. 

3. In the past, your band was called the Taliband. Did such a name have any socio-political consequences for your music? Tell us why you changed the name several times after that.

Travka: The band was called the Taliband in its infancy, before I and Ruth joined. It was at a time when the band was just a cover-playing party band, playing the local embassy and NGO scene. Therefore there was no exposure to the Afghan community or culture. It was only in later years [once we were called White City] that we started playing in public [like at Sound Central] and there we played to Afghans and Foreigners alike.  
Why did we change our name? Why do any bands change their name? A name change is as refreshing as a new pair of socks!

4. I loved the video for Perfect 10. It was so real and raw. Describe the music scene in Kabul, Afghanistan. Does your music fit into the mold of that society?

Travka: Our music does fit the scene of the scene we created, through the small community of no more than 10 acts, we cultivated a healthy but small scene that was open to metal, punk, grunge, hip hop and electronic music. We even did fusion projects like Sound Studies, where we mixed old and new.

Ru: The video is a good representation of the way we are. We’re very D.I.Y – you have to be in Afghanistan, because no-one else is going to do it for you! You have to set up the gigs, get the equipment, solder the wires, earth the electricity, build the seats, everything! Also, we all spend a lot of our time traveling around on motorbikes and on a typical Friday, we just take off and ride to a lake, the mountain, wherever we feel like. We usually film, meaning we have a huge archive of footage of our adventures all over the country. The music scene is very raw and embryonic, but that’s what makes it so exciting!

5. Are you looking to venture into the United States? If so, what are your plans?

Travka: This will be our first ever concert in the West. Before that we have only ever played in Central and South Asia. It has been amazing, but a little like playing in a test tube. Lots of chemical reactions, but all very small and insular. We just want to rock out to the people and then see what reaction we get.

Ru: What the US has over other countries is just the pure wealth, breadth and variety of musical acts. We developed in a very small scene in Kabul, which was great, because we all know each other and supported each other, but you don’t have that crazy diversity, so we’re looking forward to discovering new sounds. 

6. Do you make most of your bread and butter (money) in Afghanistan or on the road? Speaking of the road, describe a moment on the road where something life changing took place for the band.

Travka: We make our bread and butter working in the aid industry in Afghanistan and similar countries. Our music is an artistic outlet. I think the entire tour of the ‘Stans, changed us. We realized that it doesn’t matter if you are famous or not and it doesn’t matter if you speak the same language or not. All that matters is that you rock hard and interact with the crowd and therefore you will be successful.

7. How would you describe your sound and style? What audience, if any, are you targeting to purchase your music?

Travka: Punk Rock with a flavor from an area you probably have never traveled to!

Ru: I’ve always been into punk rock with a catchy edge and an aggressive sound. I’ve idolized many female front women – PJ Harvey, Courtney Love, Brody Dahl and playing to girls in Afghanistan has made me want to take that powerful energy my idols had and bring it back to a younger generation. There’s a real fashion these days for cute, kooky girls in dresses which is all well and good, but I’m definitely of the type that prefers jeans and DM boots. 

8. Tell us what a typical day in the studio looks like for your band.

Travka: I sit behind a gazillion pedal and tweak them with samples until I get the fucked up answer I was looking for. Then I might play some guitar too ;-) 

Ru: We’ll get in, start jamming around a rhythm, then melodies will start coming into my head. I’ll start waving my hands and directing the band…mainly bossing them about. They’ll riff on a few ideas. Then we’ll break, I’ll lie down in the middle of the studio floor and listen to a recording of the jam and write some words. Then we’ll reconvene and try it out with my words. Usually Andronik will have a crazy chord sequence change or a trip-out section and Trav will get on his pedals and make weird sounds. Then I’ll try and put some structure on it. 

9. What is next for you guys? Are there any major upcoming projects and aspirations?

Travka: For me, SCF (Sound Central Festival, Afghanistan’s only alternative arts and music festival, founded by Travka) is expanding to Sri Lanka and maybe even Myanmar. Also my brother has a sound system in Australia: System Unknown. He wants to ship it over and join forces, so we can  take over the world [sonically].

Ru: Trav is working on a documentary about the metal scene in Afghanistan, called Martyrs of Metal, I’m working on more lyrics, poetry, a book of short stories about Afghanistan and Andronik has bought a boat. Oh yeah, and we’re all working on the next album!

10. Where can we find your music? (Please provide links to all social media and web content)

Website: whitecitykabul.com 
Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/whitecitykabul
Bandcamp: whitecitywhitecity.bandcamp.com
Facebook: facebook.com/whitecitykabul
Twitter: twitter.com/whitecitykabul
Reverbnation: reverbnation.com/whitecitykabul

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING THE EXPERIENCE!

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Presenting: Jep Roadie (Jeopardy) WE HERE NOW

February 12, 2014 in Music by Ali Wakil

We had the exclusively opportunity to catch up with Massachusetts born artist Jep Roadie. He has a lot cooking in the kitchen, especially with his latest project hosted by well-known JoJo Simmons. Check out our interview below!

1. Your name Jep Roadie derives from the word Jeopardy correct? Where did the idea for this stage name originate?

Correct, Correct.  The name Jep Roadie came after the name JproD. I was creating a new email account because my old account was full and I didn’t feel like deleteing thousands of emails. While I was creating the new email account I put “Jep” as my first name and “Roadie” as my last name. Just kind of came out of nowhere. I didn’t realize how cool of a name it was until a blogger hit me back and said “Yo that Jep Roadie name is crazy, def the reason I opened your email”. The rest is history.

2. I loved listening to your track We Here Now. Where exactly are you right now in relation to your music career and where do you see yourself in three years?

I think I have laid a great foundation so far. Building from the ground up was very important to me. I didn’t want to take any shortcuts. Mainly because now that I have paid my dues, no one can take anything from me. I am self made. Once I release my project “Regal” I think the buzz will grow greatly. In three years, you will see me performing at the VMA’s.

3. Describe your sound and style. Who has influenced the development of your sound and style?

My sounds is mellow aggressive. Harsh topics in a melodic format. Dark thoughts brought to light. You can vibe and get lost to a lot of my music. The sound was developed by my own thoughts. I was trying to find a way to tell my feelings in a way that would relate to the listener. Trying to find clever or catchy ways to tell real feelings is not always easy. I can’t really say any one person has influenced my sound or style, but several people have influenced my thought process.

4. Tell us about the black and white photo on the cover of your latest project. What does it represent? Why did you choose it as the face of your project?

The photo is just the cover art for my song “We Here Now”. I chose it because it is a picture of thousands coming to Ellis Island to make a better life. They are taking a leap of faith in the hopes that they will come out on top. Very similar to what I am doing with this music. I am one of millions standing in a crowd waiting for them to process my paperwork and let me into “America”. It is a song of triumph and belief in yourself. Without those people coming to Ellis Island, you and I would not be here. BUT WE HERE NOW!

jprod

5. Where were you born and raised? How has your upbringing influenced your lyrical content?

I was born in New Bedford, MA and raised in Bristol, CT. My upbringing is the reason for a lot of the feelings I have now. It is the reason I view things the way I do. I have seen the middle class. I have seen what it’s like to have no money. I have been around white families, I have been around black families. I have seen domestic violence, I have seen real peace of mind. My lyrical content is affected by my demons and my feelings. A lot of my demons and feelings come from what happened and from what I saw growing up.

6. How did you meet JoJo Simmons? What is his role in the Regal project?

I have never actually met JoJo Simmons. I reached out to him and sent him some music. He agreed to be a part of Regal. I am extremely grateful for that.

7. I’ve read interviews where you are reluctant to label yourself as a Rapper, Emcee, or Hip-Hop Artist. What are you? Do you think your stance will affect your career and association with the Rap and Hip Hop Community?

I am a music artist. Rapper limits you a lot. Limits you to only being able to spit a verse or only being on a certain kind of beat. Granted, I can rap. I love Hip-Hop. It is who I am to the core. But I am not just that. I love all music. I get inspired by every other genre just as much as Hip-Hop. Taking that stance will allow haters to tell me I am not real Hip-Hop. They would say that anyway. I bet you they won’t try to freestyle with me though.

8. What else do you do besides music? Tell us about some hobbies or interests you are involved with.

I watch a ton of movies. I like to get lost in the story. Photography is cool as hell to me. I moreso look at pictures. Taking pics is cool too. Everything I do pretty much is in connection to my music. I think that’s because the whole music creation process is fun for me.

9. Where can we find your music? Please provide links to all social media and web content.

Check out soundcloud.com/jprod-2

Thank you.

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2Chainz and DJ Steve Aoki HEADLINE VANDY RITES OF SPRING!

February 8, 2014 in Uncategorized by Ali Wakil

2 chainz

We are super excited to announce that Rapper 2Chainz alongside acclaimed DJ Steve Aoki will be headlining the annual Vanderbilt University Rites of Spring Concert. Vanderbilt never disappoints as in the past healines have included TI, Wiz Khalifa, Miguel, Pharrell, Kid Cudi, The Flaming Lips, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. As a Vanderbilt University Alum, I am extremely excited and will be certain to make an appearance during the festivities.

Other performers on this year’s line up include: Delta RaeTwenty One PilotsThe MowglisHarper BlynnMisterWives and Stix Izza. Detailed information can be found by clicking the following: Vanderbilt Rites of Spring

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Fri., February 14 at all Ticketmaster locations,www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1‐800‐745‐3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the Sarratt Box Office on the Vanderbilt campus (2302 Vanderbilt Place, 615-343-3361).

Weekend passes for the general public are $50 in advance and $60 starting April 7. Single-day tickets will be available on April 1 for $35

A little history on Vandy Rites of Spring here: During the late 1960′s and early 1970′s Vanderbilt students, faculty, and administrators went to great lengths to increase the amount of contact the school had with the Nashville community. One example of this community outreach was the student-formed “Free University” which offered instruction to Nashville residents in topics ranging from short wave radio to the arts. The “open campus” policy also resulted in many Nashville residents taking part in Vanderbilt campus events such as the implementation of the Rites of Spring Music Festival in 1971.

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A Moment with the Music of Ellene Masri

December 17, 2013 in Media, Music by Ali Wakil

Ellene Masri, songwriter, guitarist and performer, has just released her debut self-produced (and arranged) album “Music” a mixture of various cultural influences inspired by her mixed roots, her travels around the world and her many musical encounters, under her own label “Music Talks”, on November 1st. She has already been previewed in the UK on Jazz FM, discovered by radio host Chris Philips (The Jazz Breakfast) garnering single of the week with her track Secret Lover. Since its release, Masri’s album has also received the honor of album of the week on Jazz FM.

Secret Lover is a fun and well put together track and I know I will enjoy the day when I can hear it live!

We had the distinct and exclusive privilege of interviewing Ellene. Check out her lively interview below:

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In a few sentences, introduce yourself.

My name is Ellene Masri. Masri means Egyptian in Arabic and Ellene derives from the Greek ,“ele”, which means “shining light”, or “ray of light”. I was born in South of France, close to the Spanish border. My mother is French (grew up in North Africa) and my father is of Lebanese and Egyptian decent.

My parents had to leave Lebanon because of the war, and we would travel around the Mediterranean basin to feel closer to Lebanon, hoping to go be able to go back there and reunite with our family one day.

Tell us about your new project, “Music.”

This project is the culmination of many years of work and introspection. It tells the story of my life from an emotional point of view, transcribed in music. I’ve always loved spending hours in my studio, creating with my music software, writing, playing different instruments, singing melodies, vocal arrangements. I would come up with demo versions of the songs with instruments and programmings to give my musicians a better idea of how I wanted it to sound on the album, as well as live.

Having tried so many different arrangements for these songs, playing them live, I finally knew where I wanted to go, I knew the sound I wanted for this album. I played these songs live hundreds of times before releasing them. I think you can hear this “live” dimension on the tracks.

Also on this project I’ve had the chance to record with some of the best musicians in Paris from various horizons and cultures like Etienne Mbappe on bass, whose musical genius widely contributed to give my album a beautiful melodic groove and Fabrice Thompson from French Guyana on percussion, who has a very unique drum set that also gave a very singular color. Cedric Duc on the piano, from Reunion, the great Hossam Ramzy, Egyptian tabla master and a wonderful person who I sampled and will definitely collaborate with on my next project.

On this project entitled “Music” I wanted to take the listener with me, talk to him through my music. Producing an album requires a lot of work and dedication. You open yourself up to people. It’s an intimate story that you’re telling people.That’s what this project is all about. I just hope that it talks to people.

How many years have you been developing your craft?

Ever since I understood it was easier for me to express myself through music. I want to say forever. I’ve been writing melodies since I was a child. Learning how to play instruments had one purpose, to serve my melodies. I’ve never really been comfortable with expressing myself through words. Probably because I always feel like words are not enough to express my emotions. I think that with the time, you accept that. And find alternatives.

Just like a poet uses words and metaphors (often in a very musical way), the musician plays with sounds, notes and melodies. Music is really my form of expression.

Do you enjoy being an artist?

I am definitely passionate about what I do. And yes, I’m really enjoying that. But it’s not easy being an artist everyday. It’s never been easy. The way the music industry is today makes it even harder. The artist is continuously dealing with material difficulties. Not to mention that he/she often has to navigate his/her path on his/her own.

I spent a lot of time doubting the economic feasibility and marketing viability wondering if the path that I had chosen was the right one. That’s what I sing in the song “Now I Know.” But you need to stick to your decision at some point and say ok, this is where I fit. I’m a songwriter, this is what I do. That’s my role. I think that passion should determine (whether you decide to be a journalist, a doctor or a musician) what and who you really are.

You quoted Ella Fitzgerald on Facebook saying, “This is the kind of business where it doesn’t happen overnight. And sometimes when it happens too fast you’re not prepared for it. Anything that we want accomplished not only in this business but in any business you have to work hard for it…” What inspired you to quote the jazz legend?

These words coming from Ella are now my MOTTO. She’s saying that not only is it O.K if you’re taking time, but it’s even best! With work, everything is possible. That’s exactly how I think, and what I meant before by it not being easy. “It doesn’t happen overnight”. You have to be passionate about what you’re doing otherwise you won’t make it though this difficult business.

It’s different when you’re just selling an image and music that people who dictate your every move are writing for you. If you don’t work for your dream, somebody else will hire you to build theirs. Chances are that the more you struggle and hang on, the more prepared you are to face the hardships of life.

It’s a jungle out there. If “you’re not prepared for it” (Ella’s words), then you’re in danger. Ella was an example of talent combined with hard work. This is what I call genius. I don’t believe in luck. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca.

Talk about your experience transitioning throughout the music business.

I’ve done many things that gave me a good sense of what the business is like. Before recording my album I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve sang with a lot of people as a background vocalist, writer, composer, toured with and opened for different artists. From hip/hop to pop, jazz, soul and world music.

Now I’m ready to take this project to the stage with Sir Gant as my musical director for my live performances, who arranged the classic ‘Sweet Love’ by Anita Baker and has collaborated & produced artists Randy Crawford, Madonna, Perri and Regina Belle.

Who are your closest family members? Are they supportive of your artistry?

As an independent artist, you really need people around you that love you and are really supportive. My parents are wonderful. They’ve always been supportive and still are. The song “Unconditional Love” is about them.

What instruments do you play? Tell us about your experiences trying to master these instruments.

I play the guitar and on the album I played some keyboards and programmed drums. I love playing the guitar, especially my new Taylor. Although I never play as much as I should… I love writing. When I start practicing I end up writing a new song! I can be a geek too sometimes, spend 24 hours in front of Pro Tools and forget to sleep! I think I really got better at pro tools after I was done with the editing of my album. It was so much work!

Share your thoughts on the current state of the American and International music industry and tell us how you plan to contribute to its welfare.

It’s a capitalist world… The more money you put on the table, the more visibility you get. Will Downing (well-known smooth Jazz singer) says “A lot of the music you hear now is just like fast food. It tastes good for a minute and then it’s gone; there’s no substance.” And it’s inevitable. When you make music for purely financial interests you could care less about its depth and artistic aspect. But there are exceptions.

Fortunately there will always be people making and promoting music out of love and passion for music. For example, Jazz FM UK and talented dj/radio host Chris Philips. He loved my album; Chris and Jazz FM decided to give it a push. This is priceless for an independent artist like me, as I am my own producer. I also think of IrockJazz magazine who’s constantly looking for new emerging artists and has interviewed me.

We also have projects for next year together. And now you, Follow the Experience! As long as there will be people who are curious, skilled and passionate about what they do, there will be quality music. And I think that’s the best way to contribute to the welfare of the music industry: work hard to make quality music and be passionate about what you do.

Where can our readers find your music?

My music is available on my website www.ellenemasri.com in the online store section.

You will be able to purchase the physical CD which I will be happy to sign for you as well as music charts, and the link to download it on ITUNES.

You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud @ellenemasri. More videos will be available soon on You Tube.

What is next for you?

A flight to Paris in a few hours! Lol! Other than that, I’m looking forward to go on tour with this project. All the upcoming shows and news will be announced on my website, so stay posted! Thank you Ali/Follow the Experience

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