Artist Interview – Erika Fatale

Erika Fatale is a sultry, talented and sensuous pop performer, originally from Chicago but currently living and working in Los Angeles. Despite Erika’s increasingly busy schedule we were delighted when she agreed to complete an in-depth feature interview for Essential Pop. Read on to find out about Erika Fatale’s move to the West coast in 2010, her current pop inspirations and her creative process for creating a track.

 

Erika Fatale

 

Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?

Pop/R&B/Soul

 

Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?

Sultry, dark, glamorous, powerful soulful pop diva with an aggressive modern edge

 

Q: What is your musical background?

I’ve been singing and performing for a really, really long time now.  I knew since the age of 11-12 years old that I wanted to be a pop recording artist and I’ve never wanted to do anything else.  It’s so rare to have that strong of a passion for something from such a young age and to never outgrow it.  I got my start singing in church doing solos and ensemble things.  I sang in choir and performed in show choir and then that quickly escalated to becoming the “National Anthem girl” singing for all the major Chicago sports teams.

I made all the callbacks for the reboot of “Star Search” and was going to perform on the upcoming season before it was cancelled.  I performed in tons of Chicago Idol competitions and was lucky enough to be judged by Jennifer Hudson (one of my favorite vocalists) and open for Richard Street from The Temptations.  The first major label attention I received was based off of Whitney Houston covers I’d recorded at sixteen years old.  That ended up falling through after the A&R who was interested in me left the label before a deal was signed.  I really wanted to move to LA right out of high school but my parents were firm on me going to college first, so I actually was a soprano opera major at Northwestern University (I’d never sung opera before!).

Then I had the amazing opportunity of being handpicked by David Foster to perform in concert with him in Chicago.  That was really the turning point for me in finally making the move to Los Angeles.  It’s definitely been a difficult process filled with lots of disappointments, shady music industry people, the list goes on and on but I have learned SO much over the years and I’m actually so glad that I’m a little older and wiser at this point and know exactly who I am and what I want to do.  If it were easy to “make it” then everybody would be doing it!

 

Erika Fatale

 

Q: How was 2010 for you?

2010 was an incredible year for me.  I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles and it was my first time writing and recording my own material and discovering exactly who I want to be as an artist.  It was amazing to see my vision come alive in the studio and then translating that visually with the look and with the live performances we put together.  I’ve met so many wonderful people and have had the opportunity to perform all over Los Angeles, so 2010 has been a year of self discovery and growth.  I’ve grown obviously first and foremost as an artist but also as a businesswoman, which is so important in the music business.  You have to be extremely confident and have a strong sense of self and vision so people don’t try to take advantage of you.  You learn as you go and each experience prepares me a bit more for what’s to come.

 

Q: Who inspires you musically?

There are so many! Whitney Houston was my biggest inspiration growing up.  I remember growing up listening to her tapes over and over again mimicking every vocal run and aspiring to be as great a vocalist as her one day.  I was very inspired by all of the pop diva vocalists like Whitney, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Yolanda Adams.  A lot of soul music as well like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway.  Michael Jackson was obviously a huge influence for me as well.  I’ve always been inspired by vocal power, soul, emotion and translating that to the pop music market.

 

Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?

As far as female pop artists go, I really look up to Beyonce.  I think she’s incredibly talented and most especially hard working and passionate about what she does.  I see a lot of myself in her (Maybe the fact that we’re both Virgos? :-) ) with her work ethic and devotion to her art.  She’s an amazing performer, always sings live, and is very creative.  I also think Adele is amazing and I love her new album.  Katy Perry is dominating the pop world right now too so I definitely look to her in terms of being very creative, always stepping up her game and putting out all of these back-to-back hit records!

 

Erika Fatale

 

Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?

I would love to collaborate with Beyonce. She’s the queen of pop in my opinion right now and I would love to do a fun, sassy pop diva collaboration with her!

 

Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?

I’ve been listening to Adele’s new album a lot, going back to a lot of my old favorites like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson.  Most especially just listening to the newest stuff on the radio. Katy Perry’s E.T. is a guilty pleasure.

 

Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?

Well, it’s always different.  Sometimes I will come up with a title first or a subject matter I want to talk about and start jotting down ideas and lines that turn into lyrics.  Sometimes it will be a hook or melody idea first, and then sometimes it’s melody and lyrics together at once.  For several of the songs on this demo that I recorded with Peter Stengaard, I would actually sing the first verse and chorus idea I had for a song into Garage Band and send it to Peter and then he would put together a rough production idea that we would build off of from there.  It was a cool way of working.  The process is always different which keeps things exciting!

 

Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?

That’s hard to say because I feel both are so important.  The melody is usually what pulls the listener in, but as an artist, the lyrics are the most important to me.  It has to be a story that I emotionally connect with so that comes out in my voice when I’m recording.  My songs are bits and pieces of my personality that I’m slowly revealing to my audience.  I’m always trying to make bold statements and send powerful messages through my music based upon my own experiences.  My music is the one place I can be completely honest and raw and that all begins with the lyrics.

 

Q: Where are you based?

I have been based out of Los Angeles for about a year now

 

Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?

Chicago is an amazing and beautiful city with so much art, culture, and personality to offer.  The people are real and down-to-earth but also the horrible Chicago winters make us Chicagoans strong and able to endure the most difficult of circumstances. (The horrible Chicago winters are the one thing I do NOT miss!) It’s also one of the blues, soul and gospel capitals, which has definitely shaped my sound.  Love my hometown!

 

Q: What are you currently working on?

I’ve put the live performances on hold for now to focus on recording new material to come back bigger and better than ever.  I’m about to head into the studio this week to start and I cannot wait!

 

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

Having the amazing opportunity of being handpicked by David Foster to perform in concert with him in Chicago was the biggest opportunity of my career.  He is such a legend and has worked with so many of my favorite artists.  It has always been a dream of mine to one day work with him so it was an incredible opportunity to sing for him and to be featured during his David Foster & Friends Tour.

 

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?

I cannot wait to get back in the studio and record new songs that are uniquely Erika Fatale.  Getting into the studio, experimenting with different sounds and creating my own unique niche is something I can’t wait to do and share it with the world and hopefully inspire people along the way.

 

Erika Fatale

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNvZY0vMTuY

 

Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?

The live shows are on hold for now, but several of my songs have received song placements on Showtime’s hit show “The Real L Word” and Oxygen’s “Real Bachelorette Party.”  So now you can download “Femme Fatale,” “That Naïve,” and “Whipped” on iTunes, Amazon, all major music retailers, so make sure you get your copy and watch out for the songs on tv this summer!

 

Q: What do you do to relax?

I live and breathe what I do so it’s very hard for me to relax sometimes and not think about work, but I love hiking in LA, yoga, exploring new parts of the city, visiting art museums, and what girl doesn’t love shopping?

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?

I want to thank everyone for all of their support and I can’t wait to share new music with you all soon! Please make sure to join the official Facebook page for all of the latest: facebook.com/erikafatale

 

Editor’s Note: We’re awaiting Erika Fatale’s new album with intense anticipation. Her glamorous yet aggressive image compliments her music perfectly and we’re waiting for her unique and commercial sound to hit a radio near you soon.

If you’d like to learn more about or contact Erika Fatale. just follow the links below:

 

twitter link: twitter.com/erikafatale

facebook link: facebook.com/erikafatale

myspace link: myspace.com/erikafatale

soundcloud link: soundcloud.com/enrmusicinc

reverbnation link: reverbnation.com/erikafatale

youtube embeds: youtube.com/erikafatale

sonicbids: sonicbids.com/erikafatale

 

Artist Interview – Tap Tap

Tap Tap is an upcoming and talented Hip Hop artist from Tacoma, Washington. Despite being incredibly busy putting the finishing touches to his latest album “One Nine Eight Seven”, Tap Tap kindly agreed to complete an interview for Essential Pop. Read on to discover his current career highlights, the direction of his latest musical project and what he does to relax when not working.

 

Tap Tap

 

Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?

I would place my music in the Hip Hop / R&B genre because that’s what most of my music sounds like. Its the genre I label my music under.

 

Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?

My music and who I am can be looked upon as a humble, hard-working artist striving to be remembered as a Hip Hop icon in the music industry.

 

Q: What is your musical background?

When my father was my age he strived to make it in the music business. I listen to him on everything about music. When it comes to music I like Hip-hop, R&B, Pop, Rock, Jazz and also Country. There’s no limit to what I listen to because music is music to me.

 

Tap Tap

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE1E72y3e0I

 

Q: How was 2010 for you?

2010 was great. I spent most of the year just recording and getting ready to come out as an artist. Also I built an army at Lynx Records, to fight for this dream alongside me. There have been bumps in the road and a lot of “Hurry up and wait” but we all know its gonna be worth it in the long run!

 

Q: Who inspires you musically?

My Father inspires me because he continues to fight for his dream and he has a mind-set of a warrior when things need to be done. He is responsible for most of my music being created when we are in the studio working on new stuff. He also inspires me about my image as a performing artist. I believe image for me is important because a lot of people will look up to you when you’re in the limelight.

 

Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?

Drake. The reason why I picked Ditty is that music is always first with him, no matter where he is in his life. He’s not afraid to think outside the box and make great music no matter what other people may think of him. I love the fact that he makes “feel good” music and speaks his mind through his music by talking about the troubles in his life. Drake is not about the guns and drugs, he’s about his music and his fans. That’s why I’m all about him when it comes to his music career.

 

Tap Tap

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvGhFHRDnH0

Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?

If I could gig or collab with anyone I would do it with Kanye West. That’s because I’m inspired by his choices with music and his lifestyle. Kanye just brings music to a whole other level every time he does an album. When I listen to his music and lyrics I say to myself, “That’s the kind of music I want my lyrics to be on!”. So thanks Kanye for the great music.

 

Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?

Right now, my iPod and iPhone are playing a lot of Michael Jackson. Listening to his music inspires me to do great things in music but also to look outside the box and do something different. I know he will be missed in the music world.

 

Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?

I write in a quiet room with my iPhone and Macbook. Those are my tools when it comes to creating music. When I listen to a certain instrumental track sent to me by producers I try to think of the concept of the song. Or,even better, I write about certain events happening in my life at the moment or an event from the past that keep crossing my mind.

 

Tap Tap

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ekwtnQd-zs

 

Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?

Both. Melody is important to music because it paves the way for the music to ride and makes you feel good inside. Lyrics are important because people want to relate to your music in some way when they are in a different mood. For example, when I’m in a good mood I throw on some Michael Jackson “Billie Jean”, or if I’m in a lazy mood I throw on some Bruno Mars, “The Lazy Song”.

 

Q: Where are you based?

I’m based right out of Tacoma, South of Seattle Washington. That’s my hometown.

 

Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?

Cold and wet :-)

 

Q: What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on promoting my “Black Out” EP and introducing my fans to the new sound and direction I’m going with my music. At the same time, I’m currently also working on the “One Nine Eight Seven” album (which was the year I was born). This album is going to be more personal, hard hitting and soft at the same time. Which in a way, describes me as an artist, so I thought “One Nine Eight Seven” would be a perfect name for the project!

I think a lot of my fans are going to love this project more than anything I’ve worked on!

 

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

My biggest highlight has been performing in Miami at the 2010 All Access Music Conference in front of major labels and artists. The event introduced me to so many labels and artists that I didn’t know existed. It also showed me lots of other artists grinding and hustling to get to the dreams I’m also chasing. That experience changed the way I look at music which inspired me to work on the “Black Out” EP and the “One Nine Eight Seven” album.

 

Tap Tap

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qSBu1VgH3Q

 

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?

I’m looking to land a major recording contract and want to do music for the rest of my life. Other than that I would like to connect with my people (a.k.a. Fans) a lot more and show them that I do this for them….

 

Q: What do you do to relax?

I listen to jazz music and sip on an Arizona Sweet Tea, Jazz music just takes me to another world and lets me vibe off the different melodies going on in the music which relaxes my mind.

 

Editor’s Note: Tap Tap has both a vibrant and commercial edge to his music which can be listened to both at home or in the club. We hope that 2011 is a breakout year for Tap Tap and he is definitely one of Essential Pop’s “Ones to Watch”!

 

If you’d like to learn more about or contact Tap Tap just follow the links below:

 

website: www.lynxrecords.com

twitter: www.twitter.com/iTapTap

myspace: www.myspace.com/iTapTap

youtube: www.youtube.com/TapTapprince

vimeo: www.vimeo.com/TAPTAP

blog: Nerdyboyjr.tumblr.com

 

Artist Interview – Glam Girl

Glam Girl is an upcoming singer, model and producer from LA and is our latest competition winner. Despite being extremely busy putting the final touches to her latest music video, “Make Me Famous”, she kindly agreed to complete an interview for Essential Pop. Read the full interview below to find out about her current career highlights, how she creates her uplifting, commercial tracks and what the music scene’s like in LA. Also make sure you check out some of Glam Girl’s world exclusive video stills throughout this article from the highly anticipated “Make Me Famous” video.

 

Glam Girl

Glam Girl

 

Link to the entire “Make Me Famous” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvGrUIf2VmA


 

 

Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?

Mainly top 40 pop with some electronica and urban influences

 

Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?

A Hollywood chick not gone Hollywood, who tells you how it is on pop high energy club beats and melody.

 

Q: What is your musical background?

I grew up in a family that didn’t nurture music or any form of arts or sports but I was always drawn to anything that involved music, dance and sports.  Once I left my parents home at the age of 18, I immediately submerged myself in a 24/7 boot camp of vocal and dance training. I won a music scholarship in Europe and afterwards enrolled in the Musician Institute in Hollywood where I graduated with a 3.8 GPA degree in the IAP Program.  My first vocal coach introduced me to the old jazz standards, and I fell in love with Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald-- their tone of voice was so mesmerizing. After that phase, I got into dance music, neo-soul, R&B, pop, electronica.  Originally all I wanted to do was just be a singer, but eventually, because I know exactly what I like and what I want, I also became a writer and a producer, and the rest is history, ha ha.

 

Glam Girl

Glam Girl

 

Q: How was 2010 for you?

Considering that in 2010 I was just getting my feet wet, it has been an amazing year, full of accomplishments and full of blood, sweat and tears as well, and yes I would do it all over again.

 

Q: Who inspires you musically?

Timbaland, Mariah Carey, among others

 

Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?

Jessie J, she’s a true artist

 

Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?

Definitely Jessie J

 

Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?

Well I’ve got over 3,000 songs on my ipod, of course Jessie J Abracadabra, Do it like a dude, Nobody’s perfect, Mamma knows best, Trey Songz: Bottoms up, One Call: Blacklight, Katy Perry -- Kaskade Club remix: Teenage Dream, Ne-Yo: Cause I said so, Beautiful monster, Eminem: Not afraid, J Rae: Price Tag it’s Jessie J’s song remix, lately I’m into a lot of fitness remixes.  Well if you don’t stop me, I can go on and on for hours.

 

Glam Girl

Glam Girl

 

 

Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?

99% of the time I produce a track first and after I write melody and lyrics.  But there have been a few times when I had a melody stuck in my head and I built a track around that melody.  The crazy thing is that the times I came up with a melody first, was while I was asleep, those notes were so strong they woke me up in the middle of the night and I had to turn my iphone on and record it before I would forget.

 

Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?

To me they are both really important, I definitely can’t stand stupid / empty lyrics, like when I wrote my current single  “Make Me Famous.” Yes the chorus purposely repeats “I wanna be famous, I’ll do anything to be famous, make me famous, make me famous, make me famous,” but the verses paint a picture of people who strive to be famous without having anything to bring to the table, who will do anything in their quest for fame.   My songs all have a story and / or a message.  In addition, a catchy melody and hot beat are a must!  All those elements combined are what make a hit song.  When people listen to a song they want to relate to the story you are telling or they wanna take their minds off the BS they deal in their everyday lives.

 

Q: Where are you based?

Los Angeles

 

Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?

Well L.A. is one of the toughest city on the planet, one of the most competitive, the bar is set very, very  high here………this is a place overcrowded with thousands of people trying to do the same thing you are trying to do.  That’s why the entire industry are cruelly pimping the artists.  This is a city where if you wanna play in a club, it’s strictly pay for play. You wanna get some press or radio play, just throw the Benjamins and all doors will be opened to you.  That’s why the majority of the new and up and coming artists making it right now are the rich kids……….What pisses me off is that they don’t really care about the music, they are in it just because it’s cool being in the music industry and they got money to blow, just something to think about …………..In case you are wondering where I belong, well I got no sugar daddy or rich parents, wasn’t born into a famous family, won a reality TV singing contest, or emerged from a teen cable TV sitcom.  I’m doing this the way you are supposed to. I played and I bombed in every club in town, and then killed it in every club. I knocked on every door, looked for every opportunity and didn’t take no for an answer, and kept going no matter what, and I found myself as an artist. I learned how to survive as an artist, get real, and how to fail, and figured out who I am as a singer and performer. I work hard to always take it to the next level.”

 

Q: What are you currently working on?

About to release my debut EP. Stay tuned for the title announcement in the weeks to come.  I’m promoting my first music video, “Make Me Famous,” in pre production on my second music video and in production on my second EP.

 

Glam Girl - "Make Me Famous" Video Still

Glam Girl - "Make Me Famous" Video Still

 

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

Actually, there have been quite a few in just a short amount of time:

At the 18th Billboard World Song Contest, the judges comment was, “Make Me Famous”: “Strong commercial pop appeal. Very original and creative.”

Opened for Bone Thugs N’ Harmony

Been featured on 350 Clear Channel radio station in the U.S.

Getting airplay in Sweden, UK, Netherlands

 

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?

The sky’s the limit.  It would be nice to be nominated for a Grammy.  A lot of people will answer “releasing my album,” but that’s the easiest thing to achieve.  For me it will be dropping my EP and selling thousands of copies, increasing my fan base, getting airplay in other countries, getting endorsement deals, placing my songs on film and television, anything I can possibly put my mind and my hands on.

 

Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?

I’m playing at The Joint on May 22, 8771 West Pico Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90035.  Tickets can purchased on my site www.glamgirlmusic.com

 

Q: What do you do to relax?

I wish I would have time to relax, but there’s no sleep for big dreams, all I do is work. But I’m not complaining at all, this is what I love to do.  Even if I don’t have the time now, these are the things I luv to do: Play video games, I’m a PlayStaion 3 & PSP chick (favorite games: every Metal Gear & Metal Gear Acid, every Call of Duty, Resident Evil, every Socom). Sleep as much as I can when I get the chance, catch some movies, Listen to music… yes, you heard it correctly, even if make music I still love listen to other people’s music. Traveling, Sports, Kick-boxing, Sky Diving, Working out, Go-Karts, playing Black Jack, Good Food (favorite food Sushi, Thai), Cooking, Swimming with Dolphins, Rescue Dogs, Paintball, Trying to make a better world.

 

Glam Girl

Glam Girl - "Make Me Famous" Single Cover

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hgi4w6iT9x8

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?

Don’t forget to get your copy of Make Me Famous http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/make-me-famous/id381599071 and look out for the EP and “Make Me Famous” music video coming out very soon.

 

Editor’s Note: Glam Girl’s seductive voice and incredibly catchy beats create a really commercial sound. We’re really looking forward to the first album. Glam Girl is one of Essential Pop’s ones to watch for 2011!

 

If you’d like to learn more about or contact Glam Girl, just follow the links below:

 

twitter link: http://twitter.com/glamgirlmusic

youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/glamgirlmusic

myspace link: http://www.myspace.com/glamgirlmusique

web page link: www.glamgirlmusic.com

Itunes link: c.itunes.apple.com/us/profile/id-16785

reverbnation link: http://www.reverbnation.com/glamgirlmusic

 

Artist Interview – Kenya

Kenya is an eclectic soul singer from Chicago. Kenya is one of our SonicBids competition winners, from almost 500 entries, so we’re extremely excited to share her music and story with you. Read the full interview below to learn about her recent experience attending the Grammy’s, her musical inspirations and what she’s hoping to achieve in 2011.

 

Kenya


 

Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?

R&B/soul, jazz, adult contemporary and alternative soul.  You know…a little bit of this and a lot a bit of that!

 

Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?

Eclectic soul, innovative, & soothing music…the kind of music that inspires yet also entertains.

 

Q: What is your musical background?

I began singing around 8 years old the same time I began playing flute.  Singing naturally grew with me.  I picked up the piano when I was 13 and consider it my secondary instrument (voice being primary).

 

Q: How was 2010 for you?

In one word…AMAZING! I released my first EP/CD and NEVER imagined all of the wonderful responses and reactions.  2010 was also a year for healing, nurturing, and spiritual growth which is why I truly believe my music came alive.

 

Q: Who inspires you musically?

Musicians who deliver music with passion, originality, and those who take risks while staying true to the craft.  Therefore, this list is LONG!  From Stevie Wonder to John Mayer to indie artists who few know…so many inspire me.

 

Kenya


 

Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?

Esperanza Spalding and Gretchen Parlato are absolutely amazing artists whom I look up to because of their individuality and ability to create progressive music.  They are jazz artists, and while I am not a jazz artist, I love jazz and its ability to be so progressive.  Its innovative and I aspire to do the same with my music.

 

Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?

I’ve always daydreamed of the ultimate moment with greats such as Stevie Wonder or George Duke or Quincy Jones.  But, I also imagine singing with John Mayer or Dianne Reeves.  There is such a large spectrum to choose from.

 

Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?

The better question is what song ISN’T!  Can’t type that list….from hip hop to jazz to rock to pop to lounge to house music….I’ve got it all and that’s what keeps me so enthralled in music.  The options are endless.

 

Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?

Typically one of two things will happen- a melody will simply land on my brain completely out of the sky (those are always eery moments) or I will simply fiddle on the keyboard and a melody will develop.  Once a simple melody is created, I then try to sense the energy or vibe of the melody.  Is it melancholy, happy, loving, whimsical, etc?  Then I create lyrics to fit the mood and create a story.  Sometimes, a story will come to mind and I simply develop a song to tell the message.

 

Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?

Good question…  I love to write and tell stories, so often I’m drawn to what is being said.  But, ultimately, its the melody that catches the listener and causes the song to be etched in the mind.

 

Kenya

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1rebtJdtmw

 

Q: Where are you based?

Chicago, IL

 

Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?

I’m originally from Denver, CO and Denver is an amazing city full of beautiful landscapes and positive energy.  It’s laid back nature is always so welcoming.  Chicago is also a beautiful cosmopolitan city with a huge variety of experiences.  The music scene is positive and I’ve met a number of amazing artists.  However, as an alternative soul artist, I’m still exploring the music landscape in Chicago to collaborate with like minded musicians.  So far, the journey has been exciting!

 

Q: What are you currently working on?

Multiple things, which is great!  This spring and summer is mostly focused on performing in both public and private events.  I’m also writing and collaborating with a couple of different producers.  I’m preparing myself mentally to begin going into heavy writing mode for the fall because I want to begin working on a full cd…and I’m REALLY excited about the possibilities.

 

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

Being in the music scene at this level is very new for me, so everything feels like a highlight!  I imagine a big highlight thus far was that I attended this year’s Grammy Awards show in LA.  While I wasn’t nominated for anything, it was a huge opportunity to simply be in the moment with so many amazing musicians.  I was able to meet Bobby McFerrin and even see Julie Andrews in person.  It was an awesome experience.

 

Kenya

 


 

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?

Exposure, exposure, exposure!  My goal right now is for people to hear my music either by performing or promoting my music where ever opportunities present themselves.

 

Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?

Two exciting gigs coming up include Keeping Success PURE May 27th here in Chicago at Mayne Stage-this will be a charity concert that will be videotaped & broadcast on Chicago’s PBS channel.  In addition, I will be interviewed and featured as an “On the Rise” artist in Chicago.  Also,July 22nd in Homewood, IL I am the opening act for American English, a Beatles Tribute Band, during the Starry Nights Concert Series.

 

Kenya

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Knovovtst-8

 

Q: What do you do to relax?

Exercising, watching House Hunters on HGTV (such a relaxing show…for some strange reason), spending time with my family… and listening to music.  Finding rare musical gems is a hobby as well as a source of relaxation for me.

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?

My debut EP/CD “Starting Over” is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.com…don’t delay!  Check me out!

 

Editor’s Note: Wow what a voice! The partnership of Kenya’s soothing vocals with laid back grooves creates an extremely commercial and eclectic sound. We’re looking forward to seeing Kenya’s career progress over the coming months and years.

If you’d like to learn more about or contact Kenya just follow the links below:

 

twitter link: www.twitter.com/kenyamjmusic

facebook link: www.facebook.com/#!/pages/KenyaMJ-Music/117845384914225

myspace link: www.myspace.com/kenyamjmusic

web page link: www.kenyamcguirejohnson.com or www.kenyamjmusic.com

reverbnation link:www.reverbnation.com/kenyamjmusic

 

 

Mod Sun: Positivity Through Pop and Hip-Hop

Up-and-coming American pop artist Mod Sun has more than just catchy, electro-influenced hip-hop songs on his side, he says. The 24-year-old rapper, born in frigid Minneapolis, Minnesota but usually found in sunny Long Beach, California, is an outspoken acolyte of the law of attraction. It’s a concept he first discovered, and widely popularized, by Australian author Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret. In essence, if you believe strongly in positivity, you attract positivity, and a cascade of good things continues to come your way.

 

The cover of Mod Sun's Health, Wealth, Success, and Happiness mixtape. Image via Modsun.com

 

So far, they have done so for Mod, whose handle is actually an acronym stands for Movement on Dreams, Stand Under None. As an independent artist with no manager or record label, he’s leveraged the power of social media and his own relentless friendliness to build a following of hundreds of thousands of fans.

 

The outcome so far? In recent months, it’s been recording session in Miami Beach with producer Dave Siegel — who produced such chart-toppers as T.I.’s “Whatever You Like and Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Thru the Phone — as well as a finalist slot in a recent contest for unsigned artists to grace the cover of the venerable Rolling Stone.

 

Before striking out on his own as a solo artist, Mod played as a drummer in several pop and rock bands, and there is a certain hangover from that experience in the high-powered hooks of his new songs. The rest of his material is relentlessly sunny, aimed at spreading the good news of an optimistic attitude to all of his fans. Or rather, his friends — Mod insists that he doesn’t have a “fan base,” but rather, a “friend base.”

 

We caught up with Mod not too long ago for an interview; here are some selections from the chat. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter at @MODSUN, and download his free mixtape Health, Wealth, Success, and Happiness below.

 

Download link: http://www.mediafire.com/?h78dxd66ksn5iyn

 

 

Essential Pop: You got your start playing drums in rock bands. How did you make the transition to rap?

 

Mod Sun: I always identified with brilliant sentences. There’s never a song that’s too deep for me. I can really understand what an artist is saying. So I wanted to come from behind the kit and get at the front of the stage and in front of people.

 

One of the special things that I wanted to do with my hip-hop career — I call it “hippie-hop,” by the way, if I haven’t mentioned that — from the very, very first song, it was released. I’ve released every song that I’ve written, because I really wanted to show progress. So the very first song I ever rapped on, which is me not even knowing how to rap, really, I wanted to show people that it’s all about progress. So at this point I’ve had six releases, and four have been full-lengths, or more than full-lengths, they’re mixtapes.

 

I wanted to just show that you start at this point, and the goal is to get better. I’m not trying to be the best rapper, or the best musician, or the best artist. I’m trying to be the best human I can absolutely, at all costs, possibly be.

 

I gave up my life to positivity; all I’m trying to do is spread positive vibes to everybody. All I want to do with my artistry is inspire — I want the next artist to be better than me. I don’t want to be at the top of the list, although I’d love to tie, because I want everyone else to be just as good.

 

When I quit playing drums, I went back my hometown where everyone knew I was in a rock band that had toured and done everything I wanted to do. And when I told them I had quit to start rapping, they were shocked, obviously.

 

And it’s all about proving to yourself, and I think it is very important what people perceive you as. I think if you say something out loud, it makes you hold yourself to it. If you say, “I am going to do this” in front of a bunch of people, they’re expecting you to do that, and it’s going to propel you to do it even more. That’s what I believe. So I came out, and I said this is what I wanted to do, and I’m definitely going at it as hard as I can.

 

 

When you started out, did you look up to any actual rappers in particular?

 

Yeah, being from Minnesota, one of the guys I looked up to, and still do to this day, was a guy named Eyedea. He just recently passed away, so rest in peace to him. He was absolutely, hands-down the biggest influence on me to start, to get into hip-hop.

 

His rhymes and subject matter were different, he’s smart, he’s witty, he can do it all. He won Blaze Battle with the freestyle, even P. Diddy wanted to sign him at one point and he said no. He stayed in Minnesota and that’s what he wanted to do, stay with the Rhymesayers and Atmosphere and Brother Ali. So what got me into it was totally, 100 percent the Rhymesayers crew.

 

You kind of said that was what you were into to start. Do you look up to somebody else now?

 

I definitely still look up to them and their movement. In the rap world, right now, who do I look up to? I don’t know. I’m the first to tell everyone that I never really listened to the rap classics, like Biggie Smalls and Tupac and Big L, and even not too much Jay-Z. I’m not the biggest rap-head and I’ll be the first to be 100 percent truthful about that.

 

So, you know, I don’t really cite those people as having a huge influence on me. But, with the fact that I want to be a better artist in my craft of rapping, I study, and obviously now I listen and go back and better appreciate that they’re doing, and really study hip-hop. But at the beginning, it was all about getting out my voice and not caring who heard it.

Mod Sun

 

 

How did you first get into ‘The Secret’ and the Law of Attraction?

 

One of my friends named Fatty, actually — that’s his actual government-given name — he showed it to me, and I couldn’t believe it. My world changed. Because the biggest thing about it is that everybody watches it and says, “Oh, I do that.” But the people who don’t really identify with it still say, “Well I do that already,” but it’s totally different when somebody sits there and looks you in the eye and says, “You’re doing it, but now try to just do that.”

 

I think it flips everybody’s world around when I show them. My sister, for instance, she didn’t grow up being all positive, and life wasn’t working that well. But I introduced her to it and she’s 100 percent a different person now. I just think it’s the greatest tool to live life — you adapt it to your own situation.

 

I don’t ever want to be the type of person that preaches that, this is the way you need to be. I always say, whatever you stand for, don’t judge the person who believes the opposite, because without them, you don’t have anything to stand for. So I believe that everyone should do exactly what they feel inside is right. But I do feel that in my case, I know that the law of attraction works 100 percent, and I’m trying to prove it to everyone else.

 

 

Your bio says you literally feel happy all the time. Do you ever feel down, and what do you do about it?

 

You can train yourself to not feel down, because you control everything. Your brain controls everything, and you control your brain. The fact that I’m talking to you right now, that is a total choice on my part to open my mouth and say these words. I’m controlling everything, and that means I control my thoughts.

 

So that means there’s a possibility I’m about to think down about something, I know it does no good, so I stop myself from doing it immediately. It says it’s a scientific thought that a positive thought is more powerful than a negative thought, it’s twice as powerful. So say that you do think a negative thought, and make it positive — it’s twice as powerful, so you just erased the bad thought.

 

That’s how I taught myself, knowing I just thought something bad, so I’m going to take the same thing and feel positive about it, and it completely erases the negative. And I know that.

 

What’s a concrete example of something you’ve achieved or something that’s happened in your career that you attribute to the law of attraction?

 

I want to make an impact on the world in a positive way. If you think about Mod Sun out there, the majority of people out there, if not all, think of positivity. So that sends an image of Mod Sun and a thought of positivity into the universe. The universe is then going to take that and send it back to me, because someone else out there is thinking positively about me.

 

And again, I mean, I could cite a million things to you right now about how, exactly, it has happened. My name stands for Movement on Dreams, Stand Under None. I’d be lying to you if not every single thing that’s happened in my career was not part of a plan, something I had asked for a year ago, two years ago.

 

Do you have plans to release a proper studio album? What are your latest musical projects?

 

Yes, I have a fantastic EP that I’ve just released this past December. It’s called In Mod We Trust. Upon release of it, it debuted at number one on the iTunes hip-hop charts above Black-Eyed Peas, Kanye, Kid Cudi. I mean, not for like, a month, but it did debut at number one.

 

I recorded that EP with a guy named Dave Siegel who’s a fantastic producer down in Miami. He did T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Through the Phone,” and he works off the Billboard charts and makes hits.

 

Are you looking for a record label deal?

 

I think music is at the absolute greatest point it’s ever been in the history of music. People complain about it all day, and there are old heads in the industry who don’t want to change, but I think music is so amazing, and everything is possible. People like Owl City went from a basement in Minnesota to number one on the Billboard Charts. That is possible!

 

So I think being on a label is great, because it means you have people working for you. That’s fantastic. But guess what, I can do everything by myself right now. I am my self-promotion — granted, half my day is spent really promoting the shit out of myself. But I’ve decided to do that instead of working a cubicle, so lucky me, I can sit on my iPhone and be at the beach, smoking a joint, and be doing my promotion!

 

I think until everything is over your head where you don’t even get to sleep any more because you have so much to do, I think you don’t need a label. You should hold out. I’ve been offered multiple record deals from major labels, independent labels, nothing labels, everything, because people have caught on early to this and knew the potential of it. I’ve been offered plenty of deals, and I’ve just said, you know what, I can do everything myself right now.

 

Artist Interview – Katriona

Katriona is a music producer and songwriter from London that we initially found through twitter! She kindly agreed to complete a feature artist interview for Essential Pop so that we could learn more about her and discover her new music catalogue. Read on to find out how she became interested in music production, how she successfully creates innovative songs and what else she does to relax when not making music.

Katriona


httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY0MZAW0SqA

 

Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or a number of genres what would it be?
UK Garage, Bassline, Dubstep, Hip Hop, Pop and R&B/slow jams.

 

Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
Quite simply, innovative music that makes your heart sing.

 

Q: What is your musical background?
I’ve been songwriting since I could write, at a very early age basically lol. I’ve done short courses in music production and sound engineering which helped start me off in producing. I’ve also taught myself a lot about music production and playing the piano/keyboard.

 

 

Q: How was 2010 for you?
A huge turning point for me, a time when I realised I have a lot to offer the music industry using my talents in music production and songwriting.

 

Q: Who inspires you musically?

Quality music producers like Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, Max Martin, Dr Luke, Quincy Jones all inspire me because they’ve been so successful in their careers and have maintained longevity. They’ve all made such a huge, positive impact on the music industry through their music and that really inspires me.

Also, I really inspire myself when I’m in a good mood because that’s when I feel I produce my best musc. And any good song that I can really move to, there’s not a specific person who inspires me really. Songs that make me feel good.

 

Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
I don’t look up to any modern day artists but I am really inspired by artists with such amazing talent and longevity such as Beyonce, Nas, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Mary J Blige… Also, new artists like Jessie J, who have seriously amazing talent.

 

Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
Any artist who can bring alive my music with strong conviction through their voice and energy. For example, Jessie J, Klashnekoff, Rihanna, Joe, Donnell Jones, Eminem, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Britney Spears, Skepta, Baby Blue, Ms Dynamite, Shystie, T.I etc. There’s so many good artists I’d love to collaborate with, both in the UK and abroad.

 

Katriona

 

Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
Hundreds!!! :)

 

Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
I get myself in a really good mood first and foremost because I tend to make great music easier when I’ve got a high energy. I think about what I want to create, I select the sounds I feel would be most suitable, I get high on a great song that I love and then I CREATE! :)

 

Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
They are both as important as each other However, I do pay more attention to the melody of a song rather than the lyrics first hand. The melody captures me the most usually.

 

Q: Where are you based?
London, UK.

 

Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
It’s sooo exciting in London, there’s so much good music here and lots to do! Plus, the music scene is buzzing right now.

 

Q: What are you currently working on?
I’m working on building up my catalogue of music & working with further artists who are very vocally talented.

Katriona

 

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Having a good demand from my fanbase to have my music downloadable online.

 

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
I’d like to create even more and more and more amazing music.

 

Q: What do you do to relax?
I make music! lool. Also, I listen to inspirational teachers, I read quotes, I listen to good music I’m crazy about, I watch funny comedies and sitcoms and I chill with family & friends.

 

Editor’s Note: It’s hard to put Katriona in a box because she successfully produces songs in so many genres. Her music and collaborations with other artists definitely make her someone to watch in 2011 and beyond. Also, if you’re a singer or rapper looking for beats or instrumentals check her out too! :-)

 

If you’d like to  learn more about or contact Katriona, follow the links below:

 

twitter link: www.twitter.com/katrionamusic
facebook link: www.facebook.com/katrionamusic
web page link: www.katrionamusic.com
soundcloud link: www.soundcloud.com/katrionamusic
Youtube embeds: http://www.youtube.com/user/katrionamusic

 

Artist Interview – TINA

TINA is a talented singer, songwriter, actress, model and dancer from New Jersey, USA. Despite her increasingly busy schedule she kindly agreed to complete a feature artist interview for Essential Pop. Read the full interview below and find out about her time on the Style Network’s “Jerseylicious”, her academic achievements and how she helped to teach Ringo Starr to play the tabla!

 

TINA

 

 

Q: What is your musical background?
I’m a singer/songwriter, tabla player, guitarist, dancer, actress, and VJ.  I grew up performing in seven different languages with my family since the age of five, and then got a record deal while graduating from college with a bio degree! Since then I have been fortunate enough to work with everyone from Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart, to Fat Joe and Timbaland! I’ve had songs on lots of Hollywood soundtracks like Around The World in 80 Days, Christmas With the Kranks, Ice Princess and more, and the making of my music video for my latest single “So Good” featuring FAT JOE, was just featured on an episode of The Style Network’s “Jerseylicious”!

 

Q: How was 2010 for you?
2010 was the biggest year of my career  yet!! The Style Network’s hit show “Jerseylicious” had me on a whole episode to cover the release of my music video “So Good” featuring Fat Joe!  The episode (called “Glam Fairy Fallout”) received great response, and my single “So Good” is just beginning to hit radio! I got to open for artists such as Ludacris, B.o.B, and Ying Yang Twins, and I’ve been lucky enough to participate in some huge charitable events and give back in a major way! 2010 was simply amazing.

 

TINA

 

Q: Who inspires you musically?
My family! I grew up performing with my mom, dad, and older sister every weekend since I was five. While other kids would have their friends’ b-day parties on the weekends, I would be traveling to some huge Bollywood party to perform in seven different languages with my family! Hearing their voices at our shows as well as around our house all the time has always inspired me. I was raised constantly surrounded by music, and was taught that music is a way to make people smile, and uplift their moods, and bring the masses together! That’s probably why I am involved in so many charitable events now, and am touring high schools to make students realize how incredibly beautiful they all are!

 

Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
I think Shakira and I could do something really interesting and fun together ! I sing, dance, play tabla (Indian drum), guitar and more and so I think we could do a mainstream Bollywood meets Belly Dance…all with a pop/urban flair.

 

TINA

 

Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
I should probably say that I sit on the beach and watch the waves  for inspiration, and just wait until a song just pops into my head! Lol! But that’s not the case! I’ve always been a straight-A student, and so writing a song is more like a really fun assignment for me. If we need a song, I will write it and get it done when it needs to be done! Luckily I play several instruments so a song can start with a wicked drum/tabla beat, or a few guitar chords, a melody in my head, a lyrical idea, and more!

 


Q: Where are you based?
Where ever my suitcase is!  Lately, I’ve been all over the place! Opening for Ludacris in Atlanta, hanging with the cast of “Jerseylicious” in New Jersey since they just featured me on an episode, Philly since that’s where part of the Timbaland Productions family is, and of course Cali and NY since there is just so much of the music biz happening in those spots!

 

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
I would have to say getting called to Ringo Starr’s house to sing and play drums on his album was a huge highlight! There is actually video of me showing Ringo how the tabla (Indian drum) is played on my youtube. He is absolutely hysterical in the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf7_3cX1lEU Ringo even called me back a few weeks later as a “thanks” for being on the album, and there was even unbelievable home-cooked Indian food! He is totally beautiful and humble, and it was an absolute honor!

TINA

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
I want to gain a massive fan base so that I can give back in a massive way. I know that’s a very “Miss America” answer, but it’s the truth! When you have a voice that can reach a large amount of people, there is nothing better than using that voice to give back. I do a lot of charitable work, and I know the bigger I get, the bigger I can give!

 

Q: What do you do to relax?
Relax? What does that mean?  This past year has made me realize that the harder I work, the more “luck” I seem to have! On the rare time off I do take, I love relaxing with some jack-on-the-rocks and a really good NFL game.

TINA

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
I would love them to know that I graduated college with an honors Biology degree. When I graduated, I got a record deal as well since I was pursuing both academics and music at the same time. Point being, you really can do it all, and you don’t have to give up school for music, or music for school! Balance is key! I also have to thank everyone for the support with my new single. The love on my Facebook, Twitter, etc etc has been overwhelming! THANKS!!

 

Editor’s Note: TINA has an array of artistic talents that few artists in the music industry can match. Whether it be on television, on the radio or at a live show 2011 will undoubtedly be a continuing success for TINA as she gains more exposure and fans worldwide.

 

If you’d like to learn more about or contact TINA, follow the links below:

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TINAworldHQ

twitter: http://twitter.com/TINAworldHQ

youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TinaWorldHQ

reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/TINAworldHQ

website: http://www.tinaworld.com/

 

 

Pop Duo Nikki and Rich Release Free Debut EP

Up-and-coming California duo Nikki and Rich’s pop stylings are sweet, sassy, and soulful. Its first breakout single, “Cat and Mouse,” was a perfect fit for fans who wish for a nicer Amy Winehouse, a more vocally powerful Duffy, or adore anything that Mark Ronson has ever touched.

Nikki and Rich

Considering the updated-vintage, tambourine-heavy sound of that singalong anthem, then, it’s surprising to learn of the two collaborators’ unexpected and divergent backgrounds. The namesake Nikki was born Nikki Leonti and grew up religious, the daughter of a pastor. She actually got her start singing in church, and wandered around the more country-ish fringes of the pop industry for a while, at one point singing backup for American Idol alumna Carrie Underwood.

Rich (Velonskis), meanwhile, is much more familiar to pop audiences, but not by name, necessarily. Born in Queens, New York, he grew up a diehard hip-hop head and club DJ. Later, under the producer pseudonym Rich Skillz, he worked with a number of leading artists, including Eve, Robin Thicke, Mario, and Ludacris. In fact, his work with he latter included a contribution to Ludacris’ 2007 Grammy-winning album, Release Therapy.

 

Since beginning to work together two years ago, Rich’s industry connections and Nikki’s impressive pipes have made their rise rapid and success pretty much assured. Their songs have been included on American TV shows like Entourage, 90210, Basketball Wives, and The City, and their newest single, “City Lights,” is currently scoring pop radio airplay there as well. It helps, of course, that the track is boosted by a guest rap from Fabolous, who helps keep things moving over a bouncy piano beat.

With all that considered, Nikki and Rich are an act to watch, but for early-adopter fans, they’ve already released a gift: a six-song debut EP, Finally Free. Check it out at nikkiandrich.com or get the direct download link before. It also includes another standout track, “Next Best Thing,” whose video we’ve included here!

 

 

Nikki and Rich

Download: Nikki and Rich -- Finally Free EP

http://nikkiandrich.com/music-downloads/FinallyFree.zip

 

Dominique Young Unique: The Next Big Female Electro-Rapper?

A couple years back in hipster-club circles, sassy female electro-pop-hip-hop artists were all the rage. M.I.A. protege Rye Rye seemed especially poised for mainstream success thanks to her famous backer, and other artists like Kid Sister and Amanda Blank similarly won fans for spitfire mixtapes and dance floor bangers.

While these all remain underground favorites still, they haven’t really reached maximum velocity. Rye Rye is currently working on a comeback after fading out of the public eye to have a baby. Kid Sister’s would-be pop breakthrough album often disappointed her old fans with its unabashed mainstream aspirations, but failed to ignite many new ones. Amanda Blank, meanwhile, wrote more of a pop-rock debut album, which didn’t really bubble over either.

 

Dominique Young Unique

Still, while they soldier on, there’s another new flavor du jour on the come-up: Dominique Young Unique (dominiqueyoungunique.com), a young female rapper from the somewhat unlikely location of Tampa, Florida. Then again, it’s the same city that birthed Yo Majesty, another female rap act that crossed over into some electro club success a few years back — and it’s under their tutelage that she began rapping at the tender age of 12! Now 19-years-old, she’s spent the last year going harder, releasing free mixtapes and singles, and performing all over festivals in Europe, like the 2010 edition of Pukkelpop.

Dominique Young Unique

It’s paid off with some increased press, and a nod from MTV last year when it named her one of its five freshmen of the summer. (http://www.mtvu.com/music/freshmen-5/summer-2010-dominique-young-unique/) Yes, that was based largely off a brazen single called, well, “Show My Ass.”

Now, while she works on a proper debut album, she’s released another new, free mixtape, called Glamorous Touch. Over 11 tracks, she rhymes over an almost-crazy selection of other pop hits, including the instrumental version of Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Brave indeed. Stream the whole mixtape and download it for free below.

Download: Dominique Young Unique -- Glamorous Touch mixtape
http://outthererecordings.com/glamoroustouchmixtape.zip