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A&R Factory Interviews

A&R Factory conducts exclusive interviews with independent bands, musicians, and artists from around the world. We converse with musicians about their upcoming releases, planned tour dates, and other topics that make them unique and stand out from the crowd!

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Exploring Raw Emotion and Heartbreak: An Interview with Indie Singer-Songwriter Kayla Friend

Indie music enthusiasts and fans of emotive storytelling are in for a treat as singer-songwriter Kayla Friend gears up for the release of her second single, ‘Over,’ scheduled for release on September 22nd, 2023. Following the success of her debut single, ‘Valentine’s Day,’ Kayla continues to captivate audiences with her poignant lyrics and soul-stirring vocals. In this upcoming release, she delves deep into the themes of love, heartbreak, and the tumultuous journey of moving on.

Can you share the inspiration behind your upcoming single ‘Over’? How did the creative process unfold?

The song was inspired by an old iPhone note I had from years ago… a few quick thoughts I had jotted down when I realized that, after so many years, a prior relationship had reached a point of closure I’d been wanting for years. What sparked the note itself was when I received a “who is this?” text reply back to the number I had in my contacts for this person – we would still correspond here and there to share big life updates, send song recommendations, etc. The first words of the song are a direct lift from that original note – “you changed your number…I guess I understand, ’cause I always fall through any crack you leave open.” The words came with the vocal melody as I sat for an hour between errands in midtown, NYC, trying to get in a little piano time at a local studio. My fingers sat on F5/C until the rest came. Most of the lyrics and melody were written in that hour at Spectra Music Studios.

‘Over’ explores the aftermath of a passionate yet uncertain romance. How did you manage to infuse such personal emotions into the song’s lyrics and vocals?

I like to pull from real experiences that I had as a young adult adjusting to a new life in New York City – I wasn’t writing music at that time, I thought I couldn’t, so I’d just scribble these big feelings into little notebooks and iPhone notes whenever I got the chance, mostly just to get it out of my head and stop ruminating on it so much… It’s been such an experience years later revisiting these notes through the lens of music and putting melodies and words and a sort of “end” to these stories that felt incomplete. I’m able to do it so much more efficiently now with music and honestly, having the gift of time and distance from the events that sparked these thoughts has made it so much easier to be really honest with myself and create the songs from an authentic place without worrying if it’s going to tear me apart. I’m in a different place now, which makes revisiting these sad, vulnerable moments through music so much sweeter – it allows me to give myself some grace and be kind to my younger self in a way.

The verses in ‘Over’ are particularly evocative, painting a vivid picture of vulnerability and yearning. Could you tell us about your song writing approach when crafting these raw and relatable lyrics?

When revisiting old wounds, I like to be as honest as possible while still infusing the lyric with hope – however misguided that hope may be. The song is about not being able to ‘get over’ a relationship, yes, but in the verses I wanted to address that false sense of hope that made it drag on for so long: “I’ve kept my distance, and you’ve kept your secrets / we’re so good, insisting we’re strong at our weakest / just doing what’s right, never thinking we might be the fools.” This is about two people who are stubborn to a fault – even about doing the ‘right thing’ (whatever that means)… to the point of possibly missing out on great love because keeping the distance is the right thing to do. And even though they were both stubborn, they kept a sliver of opportunity open to keep that communication going – that’s where the hope is. There wouldn’t be that yearning without the sliver of hope, which is ultimately what makes it so tragic – the song is about the death of hope in that relationship.

The chorus of ‘Over’ carries a sense of self-reflection and introspection. How do you channel your own experiences into your music to create such a strong emotional connection with your listeners?

The more personal it is, the more relatable to others it becomes. I don’t know what it is about that concept that makes sense, but it works – I think anyone can relate to the feeling of wondering if ‘the one that got away’ misses you, even if you have both since moved on. Most of us are just afraid to be honest about it.

The upcoming music video for ‘Over’ draws inspiration from the indie film ‘500 Days of Summer.’ Can you share how this visual representation complements the song’s narrative?

500 Days of Summer was such a cultural moment for me as a young adult – the film came out in 2009, and I think that so many young people – myself included – immediately gravitated toward it because of the incredible storytelling, cinematography, and of course, the iconic performances. The story is told through the lens of Tom Hansen – a flawed, but relatable hetero cis male protagonist – and not long after the film reached critical success as an indie “sleeper hit,” grossing nearly 8 times it’s production budget in box office sales worldwide, some pretty harsh reviews began to come out from the public about the lead characters, Tom and Summer… Summer was thought to be purposely villainized by the film, which sat uncomfortably with some audiences and seemed to lean more into the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ problem. Nearly 15 years later, I think folks are coming around to the realization that Summer is not a villain – she operates like an unattached hetero cis man. She clearly states that she is not interested in a relationship with Tom, but leaves the door open to explore the grey areas between friendship and commitment. Summer is fiercely independent and acts out of her own self interest, not with the purpose of hurting other people, but with the conviction that she needs to do what is best for her – full stop. I find myself now having a lot of sympathy for Summer’s character and relate much more to her than I do to Tom these days. However, I think Tom’s narrative connects best to the ethos of this song for me – ultimately, Tom spends the majority of the film not being able to get over Summer, no matter how many times and how many ways she tells him ‘this won’t work.’ There is a kind of delusional hope that drives Tom to continuously leave that door open, always seeing the best in her, refusing to open his eyes to all the moments that were clear indicators of the relationship ending – I thought to myself, “what would it be like for my listeners to see this song through Tom’s eyes? Except Tom isn’t a hetero cis man – he’s me.” In a way I think the gender-swapped element of it peels back the filter we might have assigned to these characters as “hero” or “villain” – it forces us to admit that we each have our moments of willingly delusional hope when it comes to love.

As an indie artist, how do you hope ‘over’ will resonate with your audience, and what message do you aim to convey.

It’s always challenging to predict how new music will land with an audience for any musician, but especially challenging for an emerging indie musician – my hope always is for my audience to find a connection point, to feel somehow seen and understood by seeing themselves in my songs, and to help people feel less alone. Heartbreak, yearning, grieving – it’s something that is so universal and yet something we have all learned to skillfully hide or frame in a way that is ‘palatable’ to society. I want my songs to let people know that they don’t have to sugarcoat pain and they don’t have to be embarrassed by feeling big things. ‘Over‘ is something I think we can all relate to, as long as we are all being honest.

For the latest updates on Kayla Friend’s music and more, make sure to follow her on her official website, social media channels and get a sneak peak of the ‘Over’ video trailer here.

Unveiling the Sonic Frontier: An Interview with The Lethargics

Get ready to dive into the uncharted territories of Americana Rock as we sit down with The Lethargics, a band hailing from Knoxville that’s rewriting the rules of the genre. With their guitars in hand and a fearless approach to music, The Lethargics stake their claim in the abandoned landscapes of Rock & Roll, reshaping it into something entirely their own. Drawing from the rich tapestry of influences including Dylan, Springsteen, and The Clash, they’re about to release their new 2-song EP on September 1st, 2023, featuring the tracks “Meteorite” and “Shelter In Place.”

Your music is often described as genre-averse Americana Rock. How did you arrive at this unique blend of influences, and what drives you to explore the unexplored corners of Rock & Roll?

The Lethargics have been steeped in music our whole lives and have absorbed sounds and influences from all over the musical map. When we play, all of that just blends – or maybe crashes – together. We hope listeners both like it and recognize that there is space for music that does not strictly fit a certain genre. Forcing songs or bands or people into easy definitions is lazy – and potentially hazardous.

Born amidst the beauty and history of Appalachia, how has your environment influenced the stories you tell through your music?

It is a beautiful geological region but can be a tough place to try to live. First, there are a lot of broad-brush misperceptions about the people that can be impossible to overcome. Second, the economic developments of the region have been generally deadly to the environment and the folks doing the actual work. There are other factors I am leaving out, but it all adds up to a lot of poverty and lack of options and hopelessness. This significantly drives the violence and alcohol and drug addictions that perpetuate the situations. The Lethargics have been affected in many direct and personal ways by all these things and tend to write a lot about it.

Your upcoming release on September 1st 2023 features the tracks “Meteorite” and “Shelter In Place.” Can you give us a glimpse into the themes and inspirations behind these songs?

Meteorite is pure Rock swagger come-on. There’s not a lot of deep message in it, just someone saying, “If you don’t want to, that’s cool – but are you absolutely sure you don’t want to light up the sky?”

Shelter In Place could apply to any group of people fed false promises that they really had no choice but to accept as true…but find that after all the miles and years the prizes in those promises may always stay just out of reach, The Plenty has been laid to waste, there is always another storm…and there’s nothing left but to shelter in place, wherever or whatever that is.

Collaborating with The Relapsing Remitting Hillbilly Choir on both tracks is an intriguing choice. How did this collaboration come about, and how did it enhance the sonic landscape of the EP?

Ah, the RRHC. They have been on a couple of our previous releases. They truly just show up when they want and grab a couple of mics if they like the tune. They are even more privacy-conscious than The Lethargics – which is saying a lot – so I won’t allow much beyond the fact that they exponentially multiply the sound and the mercurial energies in Holler Studio.

The upcoming release is just around the corner. What do you hope listeners will take away from “Meteorite” and “Shelter In Place,” and how do these tracks signify your growth as a band?

As a Broke-DIY-Indie band, we’ve had to learn a lot about how to make things sound like we want throughout the recording process, as well as song structure and the like. Our hope is that this 2-song EP is more accessible and relatable to more listeners than our earlier stuff – and therefore more popular. We want people to hear us and think The Lethargics are a band with great songs that don’t sound like anything or anybody else. But mostly we just hope a lot of folks enjoy the music.

Belle: From Dreamer to Achiever – A Musical Journey of Passion and Purpose | Interview

In the realm of music, there are dreamers, and then there are those like Belle, who transcend aspirations and manifest their dreams through unwavering authenticity and dedication. Hailing from California, Belle’s journey is a testament to turning dreams into reality, and she’s achieved it by staying true to herself. A Grammy-nominated songwriter, Belle’s life story is a symphony of creative achievement, lived on her own terms. Currently sharing stages with Kanye West and the Sunday Service Choir. As she unveils her latest labour of love—a mesmerizing EDM/disco EP—we sit down with Belle for an exclusive interview that offers a captivating glimpse into her journey and artistry.

Your journey is a remarkable example of turning dreams into reality while remaining true to oneself. Could you share how your upbringing influenced your unwavering pursuit of a music career and the key factors that kept you grounded in your authenticity?

My upbringing was a mashup of good and bad times. I grew up in watts, ca. I have been singing as long as i can rennet it’s just been in my blood with my dad being a gospel singer (lead vocalist of the five blind boys of Mississippi) his name was big Henry johnson. I’d say seeing him perform and sing all of the time made me stay up all night. All I could ever think about was music. I didn’t even feel poor until i had gotten into my teens. Then the motivation turned into me wanting a better life.
Touring with Kanye West and the Sunday Service Choir is a unique experience. Can you share some insights into how this collaboration came about and the impact it has had on your artistic perspective?
Kanye West got it in his spirit to start a choir. I auditioned and joined the choir in 2019.  There was so much i took from that experience as we went on to tour the world, win prestigious awards and make great albums. That was all great but the one takeaway from this experience came from Kanye himself. When you have an idea you have to put your head down and tune the nay daters out. People will never believe until someone else does. Our choir under the leadership of Kanye west had some of the best talent this industry has to offer and I’m proud to have been apart of something that made such an impact,

“Building Bops” is a heart-warming tribute to family and early education. Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind this project and how your role as a mother has played a pivotal role in its creation?

I have two beautiful boys and one thing they know about their mom is that  she’s always singing. My second son was learning how to read and his abc’s at the same time and so I had to go on the road for work for a couple weeks. I wrote an abc song for him and had my dear friend Brian waters mix the vocals for me.  He hit me back and said hey, you need to make a whole album and so we did.  I was able to work with my sister friend and great songwriter/vocalist Mika Lette on it. It was also fun to have our kids singing in the album. My kids inspire me daily to always try and press forward.

Your upcoming music video release for “Just Be Good to Me” has generated significant anticipation. Can you provide us with a sneak peek into the inspiration and creative process behind the video, and how it aligns with the song’s energetic vibe?

“Just be good to me” has been a favorite song of mines since I was a kid. It was made famous by the sos band an rnb soul sensation. The music video takes the audience into how I see the lyrics. It’s energetic, electronic with beautiful visuals. Just be good to me was released July 21,2023 and produced by Brad Grobler of big productions worldwide . It has an amazing future rave mix that was released august 18th (Here’s a sneak peek of the video) My album is filled with the influence from some of my favorite euro dance and house artist one of whom I sing Lead for Labouche famous for be my lover and sweet dreams. I’m so excited for the dance world to embrace me.

Your versatility as a songwriter has led to placement in Erica Campbell’s gospel album “Love.” How do you approach crafting music across different genres, and what were the highlights and challenges of collaborating with Erica Campbell?

I love working with other writers and singers. This song “trust and obey” came about from a situation that i knew wasn’t okay but it was so good that it made it hard to trust and obey.  I wrote this song with a good friend of mine songwriter Gromyko Collins and the super producer warryn Campbell of my block resources produced the song. Each song is different most times you don’t sit in the studio with the artist and most times you do. There’s was no challenge working with Erica Campbell at all. She’s such an amazing and anointed talent. It’s my honor to be on her labor of “love”.

Tracy Inman on A&R Factory: It’s About Time

Talking to us about ghosts, It’s About Time and his whole life in a small town with so much love, Tracy Inman kindly tells us about his exciting life as a Paranormal Investigator and shall inspire many to follow their dreams. This is an interview to remember fondly.

Thank you for joining us today Tracy. Let’s start off here. What was it like growing up in East Alton, Illinois and what do you love most about your hometown? Why have you chosen to stay all these years?
The area I have been in most of my life is in the metro St. Louis area. It’s a small town vibe, but not far from the big city.  I have lots of fond memories of growing up with a tight knit family and friends and community. I have stayed in this area to be closer to my family and friends.
It’s About Time is your new 10-track release and we really enjoyed listening to your creation. What was the main inspiration behind it and who have you made it for? 
The title says it all.  I’ve been writing for many years.  This is a collaboration of songs that I wrote when I was younger and what I am writing now. Facebook was not around when I first started writing so the ON FACEBOOK song was written about 2 years ago.  But the song Daddy’s Girl and Guess What were written about 20 years ago when my children were younger.  I wrote the song Dad when my father was in the hospital. The only song i did not write on this album is Old School.  That song was released by John Conlee back in the 1980s and I always thought it was a very underrated song.  I challenge everyone to listen to that song and listen to the lyrics.  Great song!
You stated that Daddy’s Girl has been played as the father/daughter dance at many wedding receptions. Does this make you happy and proud?
Yes. I have 2 daughters and a son. It was played for my oldest daughters father/daughter dance and I was extremely proud to be dancing with her to it.  I will do the same with my other daughter when she gets married.  I was sent a video a few months ago of another father dancing with his daughter to it at their reception and I couldn’t believe I had made an impact on their wedding.  It truly is a great feeling.
How did you first get into music and what/who has helped you in your journey? What have been the fun moments and what challenges have you overcome?
I’ve always loved singing. ever sinced I can remember, I was singing. My brother Chris is the same way.  He is a talented singer as well. But I took a different route than most. I fell off course from my music after high school.  I started a family, went to work, etc.  I always kept writing, but didn’t really do anything with it. Over the past couple of years I realized I needed to get this stuff out there.  With encouragement from my wife and kids, I decided to reach out to a record company to start the path forward.  I contacted a company in Nashville, Tn, AOK Records and we put the songs together.  Adam Knight is a great person to work with.  I recommend his services to anyone.  The funnest moment for me was recording.  Standing behind that microphone belting out these tunes came out naturally for me and I really enjoyed the experience.
Do you love making country music? What does it mean to be an artist in this genre?
Yes.  I love writing. If my songs dont make it with me singing them, I’m content with that. Hopefully someone out there might want to record them as well.  As far as being an artist in country music now-a-days, I’m in the minority.  An older artist trying to get his music heard. I started this process with making music so my great-great grandchildren could hear after I’m long gone. A legacy so-to-speak.  But, Adam realized the need to start sending these songs out there to get real airtime on radio and plays on streaming, so we went that route as well.  This process has already surpassed all my expectations. Knowing that people are listenting to my songs is the greatest feeling in the world. I am genuinely honest about that. And I am here for any fans.  Please reach out with any questions for me.
We’re fascinated that you’re a Paranormal Investigator. Have you ever been blown away by something/someone you’ve found?
I co-own a FREE social media platform called It’s a Facebook for the paranormal community. I am also a co-founder of T.H.A.T. Paranormal group.  And I run a podcast on Weds evenings called Paranormal Plus with Grizzy Chris and Tracy Inman.  With T.H.A.T., we did a hunt in Ashmore Estates near Charleston Illinois and we set up a tricycle on an upper floor by itself on level concrete.  We watched it for over 20 minutes, nothing. As we walked out, we caught it rolling backwards on film. It can be found on in the evidence section. Pretty cool  What does the job entail and is it an exciting experience each day? We do this once a month.  I have friends in the field that do it everyday basically.  But with everything going on in my life, I can’t fit it in as much as I should. takes up a lot of time to run.  Are ghosts real? Everyone has differing opinions about this. I have seen a few things that are unexplainable. The tricycle for instance. I started off as a skeptic, but after seeing a few things, I believe there is something out there. I compare a ghost hunt to a guided fishing expedition, there might be plenty of fish at the location or none at all.  We have so many questions. Feel free to reach out with any other questions concerning this.
Lastly, do you have any funny/amusing gig stories you can share with us? Perhaps a fan interaction or something that makes you laugh, showing us that the music industry can always spring surprises and fond memories?
I have played in various bands over the past few years and some talented musicians. Not too many stories. Just seeing the smiles and enjoyment of the crowd seeing along is a great feeling for me. I look forward to what the future holds. I am very sincere when I say “thank you to everyone for supporting me”. No matter what happens with my songs, just knowing it brought entertainment to others is better than any amount of money I could get.  Thanks Tracy Inman

Hear this new music on Spotify.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

“Unveiling Authenticity: Andrew Whitehouse’s Journey from the Darkness Within”

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Andrew Whitehouse, a talented underground musician and songwriter who crafts original music inspired by the depths of his soul. Andrew’s musical journey is a testament to his dedication to creating authentic, culturally resonant tunes that defy the superficiality of modern trends. In this interview, we delve into his approach, struggles, and mission, exploring the essence of his singles “Landslide,” “Breathe,” and “The Darkness In Your Soul.” Join us as we uncover the true artist behind the melodies and gain insight into his plans for the future.

Andrew, your music emanates a sense of authenticity that’s rare in today’s industry dominated by clickbait and quick content. Can you share your personal philosophy that drives you to create music that goes beyond trends and focuses on culture and musical vibe.

I think about what made music special when I was growing up, and most of the things I remember where how music was more than just songs on the radio, it was part of our identity and crossed boundaries into other forms of art and culture. Music’s role has changed over time in part due to accessibility and output and it tends to be more background than culture. I think people miss that, along with the imperfection and authenticity.. and particularly as artistic output increases through technology I think people will crave authentic, human artwork and music again

Your singles “Landslide,” “Breathe,” and “The Darkness In Your Soul” each have a distinct emotional resonance. Could you describe the creative process and inspirations behind these tracks? How do they reflect your journey as an indie artist?
My goal when writing these songs, which belong to a larger EP/Album was to get to the heart of what I was trying to communicate to the listener and to have it come through as strongly as possible, and so trying to get that emotional resonance was very intentional.
Staying true to my thoughts around what we’ve lost with music, I wanted my commitment to the work to be to deliver my version of trying to fulfil that promise to the listener.
For example the creative process with Landslide was sitting with the main riff and listening carefully to how the notes made me feel, what was the mood that was invoked? And I used this emotional space to think about what the lyrical ideas really meant to me. The “Landslide” in this case being that wash of emotions all of us get when we’re in a place with lots of memories from our past and all those feelings come back like “ghosts inside our minds”. Landslide in this case was one of those rare moments where everything I wrote, I’ve struggled with personally, and after writing it I found peace and let it go, like some sort of therapy!

The indie music scene often comes with its own set of challenges. Can you shed light on some of the obstacles you’ve faced while navigating the underground music landscape? How have these experiences shaped your artistic identity?

There’s both more opportunity and less chance of being heard at the same time, which is weird for sure. One of the biggest obstacles is that as an indie, everything is up to you. You have to learn to be a digital marketer, a video editor, a social media influencer, the list goes on! Since I want to stay true to my brand and be authentic and find a zone where I’m both accessible but different, this makes it extremely hard to navigate. Most examples of what you see work for other artists does not resonate with me at all, and a lot of the techniques/content strategies etc just feel wrong to me, and I don’t think I’m alone in this!

In an era where viral hits and viral marketing often overshadow artistic depth, how do you stay true to your mission and maintain a focus on creating music that resonates with genuine cultural and emotional significance?

I think the only choice I have is to stay true to my vision and to be the version of myself that I want the world to see. I can’t control what other people like and whether I’ll generate enough attention to make it into the attention spans of the people who will really love my work, only time will tell. Of course, I don’t get to decide what people find artistic or pleasing and that’s the nature of art, so what’s authentic and “real” to me might be derivative sounding to someone else. I try to keep in mind that there must be an audience out there for me, I just need to find them!

As we look ahead, could you share some insights into your plans for the rest of the year and beyond? How do you envision rising above the obscurity that indie artists often face? And where can your growing fanbase find and experience more of your captivating music?

My plan for the rest of the year is simply to continue to connect with people online and share my music in the lead up to an album launch towards the end of the year. Rising above obscurity is all about consistency and building a world online for an interested community. Anyone wanting to find me can connect with me on the usual social media channels or my website, I hope to see you there!

From Vinyl Dreams to Metal Realities: A Conversation with IMMORTALIZER, the Master of One-Man Heavy Metal

Today, we have the privilege of sitting down with the musical powerhouse behind IMMORTALIZER, a one-man heavy metal force that has been turning heads with his classic heavy metal sound and relentless dedication. From early vinyl inspirations to a DIY recording journey, IMMORTALIZER’s story is one of passion, perseverance, and a steadfast commitment to the art of music, lets dive in!

You credit your father’s Rock & Metal vinyl collection as a catalyst for your musical journey. Could you share a few of those iconic artists that left a lasting impression on you as a musician?

When I heard Black Sabbath’s Paranoid for the first time at 7 years old it truly changed my life. I was immediately drawn in and learned a great deal from Black Sabbath records. Alice Cooper was another artist that greatly influenced me. Same with Van Halen. I was mesmerized by Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing in particular. Some of the others early on were Deep Purple, Nazareth, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. I spent countless hours playing those records over and over. I knew without a doubt that music was going to be my path in life.

Your journey began with a modest drum kit, and now you handle guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and vocals. How did you master these diverse instruments, and what drove you to become a one-person powerhouse?

Immortalizer | I was very driven as a young kid and I wanted more than anything to become a professional musician and tour the world. I was determined to make it happen. I got my first drum kit for my 9th birthday and played that thing into the ground. I would play until my hands blistered and bled. I’d stop to bandage my hands up and then I’d continue playing haha. I just couldn’t get enough. I was so obsessed with music that I wanted to learn other instruments as well, so I started learning guitar on my father’s old acoustic guitar. My parents had an upright piano downstairs, so I would mess around on that as well. I learned to play everything by ear. I played along to my favourite records and started writing my own songs. Over the course of 28 years I slowly developed each instrument by practicing all of them as much as I could. I never took music lessons but I learned lots of tips and tricks from family and friends. A big shift was my journey into recording. Home recording started being more affordable when I was a teenager, so multi-track recording was a total game changer for me.

My solo career was a bit unexpected. My best friend Jay and I started our first band when I was 9 and we went on to form 13 bands together. We both loved music and practiced in his parents basement every single day after school and even more on weekends. They were so nice to let us jam full volume during our formative years. It was considerably raw at first and always very loud. A few years later we started performing all over our home city and outside it as well. It’s not an easy business however, and after years of effort Jay decided to return to school. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything other than music however, so I decided to continue solo. I had already begun recording full demos at that point, so I just dedicated all my time and energy to my new project Immortalizer. 

Creating a DIY recording setup in your basement is a testament to your determination. Could you elaborate on the challenges and rewards of producing your music independently?

 I have improvised quite a bit in my home studio. For example, my vocal booth is made of a foam mattress wrapped in moving blankets and propped up with fence posts. It doesn’t get much more DIY than that haha. Though funny enough it does work quite well. I couldn’t properly record acoustic drums with the gear and space I had, so I decided to go with electric drums instead. I’ve spent the last 28 years slowly beefing up my studio and equipment, trying to get a decent set up for each instrument.

I think the main advantage is creative control over my work. I can create exactly what I hear in my mind and what I envision for the song. I also feel you can’t rush creativity, so I enjoy being able to decide when an album or song is ready. However doing everything myself means a lot more pressure and a lot more time. The biggest disadvantage of all is not being able to perform, tour and write with other musicians. That’s why I’m planning to find full time band members to be able to bring Immortalizer to the stage and tour around the world.   

How did you develop your signature sound, and what were some of the influences that guided you?

When I started Immortalizer I envisioned fusing classic style Heavy Metal with contemporary Metal. I thought it would be fun to create something a little different. I only realized after my first tracks that I had pulled from other sources as well like Thrash, Prog Metal, Heavy Rock etc. I also realized that I wouldn’t really fit into any one category which complicated things a bit, but my focus has always been to just make the best music I can.

I’ve been greatly influenced by those first bands like Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper and many others along the way. Ozzy’s solo records were incredibly impactful on me since childhood. Another life altering band for me was Megadeth. I found out about them when I was about 12. I bought Countdown To Extinction and it completely blew my mind. Metallica, Pantera, Kiss, Symphony X and Black Label Society were all big influences as well. A year or so later I learned of bands from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal like Motörhead, Judas Priest, Saxon and Iron Maiden and once again my life was forever changed! German Metal was an equally impactful influence on my evolution as an artist. Specifically Primal Fear and Helloween. I was blown away by their talent, powerful melodies, incredible performances and production quality. I began digging into more German and European Metal bands and found so many new favourites like Yngwie Malmsteen, Accept and Michael Schenker.     

Collaborating with Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear sounds like a dream come true. Could you share how this partnership came about and what it meant to have his involvement?

Absolutely! I’ve been a huge fan of Ralf’s and Primal Fear since I was a teenager. I consider Ralf to be one of the greatest Metal vocalists out there. I first reached out to him for help to further develop my vocal abilities and recording knowledge. I’d been singing for over 20 years but had no formal training of any kind. I felt I had hit a wall and wanted to expand my vocal range and learn from someone I greatly admire. We both live for music and got along really well, so we started becoming friends. Ralf has been very supportive and helped me in so many ways. He graciously created my new vocal sound, helped me with gear and shared all kinds of info and advice. Ralf kindly offered to mix and master one of my first singles (I’m Gone) and afterwards we began working on the entire album together. When I showed him We Were Born For Metal he really liked the song and volunteered to do some guest vocals on it. I was beyond thrilled! He did such an incredible job on the single and the album production. It’s especially impressive when you consider that he was working from home recordings. It’s been such an honour to become friends and work directly with one of my heroes. I’ll forever be grateful to him.

As an indie artist, gaining recognition and building a fan base can be a challenge. How has the response been to your music, and how do you feel about the support you’ve received from your fans?

The response from critics and fans so far has been incredibly positive! It’s been very encouraging and humbling to see so many people enjoying my music. I’ve received a lot of kind messages from fans. Their support has been really great as well, people from all over the world have reached out for CD’s, vinyls and merchandise. Digital downloads and streams being the most significant. I’m extremely grateful to all Immortalizer fans for their support! It’s definitely a challenge for indie artists though. I’ve tried to keep costs as low as possible for fans but the manufacturing and shipping costs have gotten so high that it’s hard to get albums pressed and released independently. 

Finally, your dedication to music for nearly three decades is truly remarkable. If you could send a message to your younger self, just starting out on this journey, what advice would you give based on your experiences?

That’s a very good question. I think I’d say: never give up on yourself or your dream. Incredible things can happen when you work hard and stay true to yourself. Don’t let other people’s negativity discourage you and never stop reaching beyond your grasp.

Check out this fine new single on YouTube.

See more of this journey on IG.

Interviewed by Stefan Toren

Interview: Propter Hawk tell us all about Toronto life and the anticipation building for their epic 12-track album

Ripping a hugely likeable sound into our lives with a friendly kick to the soul and a smile to follow, Propter Hawk reminds us of that old-school sound that drives our hearts into doughnuts outside the local drive-through at 2 am. They tell us their debut self-titled debut record while sipping on sherry flips and might change your mood for the better. Real music with purpose still exists you see? You just have to look for it and dig a little deeper to find the treasure. Look no further.

Llewelyn: Hello Propter Hawk. Please take a seat on our cosy virtual couch (excuse the snoring cat there) and may we provide you with any snacks or beverages? Alrighty, let’s get into it. Firstly, how did you get this incredible name and who is the cleanest member of the band, who’s the most organised, the most serious, the friendliest and who is the messiest?

Andrew: I came up with the name a while ago and this question has been haunting me ever since. It’s a play on “Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc” which is one of Socrates’ informal fallacies. I often find myself trying to explain this to people in loud, packed clubs and it is the most difficult part of my entire life.

Malorie: I’m definitely the most organised, Alec’s the most serious and Jimmy is the friendliest person on earth. Andy and Brian can fight over who is the messiest. They’re both…you know.

Llewelyn: Secondly, we’re super thrilled about your upcoming debut release on the 18th of August 2023. You were kind enough to send us a pre-listen..and wow..we love it. Sherry Flip especially is special. How did the whole album come together and how would you describe the vision and your sound on this one?

Andrew: In many ways, the album came together because of Covid and lockdowns. Mal and I had a lot of song ideas going into the pandemic and we wanted to write songs that really expressed some of the feelings that, I think, a lot of people have been having for a long time. Since we couldn’t play shows, we really used it as an opportunity to work them out with the boys and by the time restrictions were lifted, we had a whole album of songs ready to go before we ever had the chance to play live.

Jimmy: We were toying with the idea of recording the album ourselves but when we got the opportunity to record at Pineship Sound in Toronto with Carlin and Mike of Zeus, that settled it for us. We grew up watching those guys in Zeus and it was a thrill to get the chance to work with them. They’ve contributed to so many records that we love.

Alec: There are a lot of overlapping influences between all of us, so musically we are all headed towards the same goal, but the album certainly showcases everyone’s individual approach and it became kind of our own unique take on rock and roll. For me, a lot of it came down to us recording live off the floor and making sure we kept things loose and organic. I think you can hear that rawness in the tracks.

Llewelyn: Please tell us all about your upcoming album release show at The Cameron House (408 Queen St W, Toronto, ON) on 18th August. Who’s on the lineup and what should fans expect, where can they buy tickets, why did you choose this particular venue, times etc?

Brian: This is a really special show for us. We’ve been sitting on this album for a while now and are really ready to get it out there. We’re playing with The Young Scones, a supergroup made up of some of our favourite Toronto musicians that we’ve been playing with right from the start. Moondoggy is the other act on the bill and another one we’ve played with before; they’re always great. We’ve played at The Cameron House a few times before and it’s always a really exciting spot to play. The room comes with a lot of energy.

Llewelyn: Toronto, Ontario is your hometown and is a place we want to visit. What parts do you love and where do you personally go and watch live music? Is the scene thriving and where do upcoming original solo musicians and bands head to perform?

Brian: I think the live music scene, especially for rock and roll, has changed a lot in recent years all over the world…but Toronto is still holding on like it always has. We grew up going to places like Lee’s Palace, The Horseshoe Tavern, El Mocambo and The Dakota Tavern, and all of them are still going strong and are still home to the best upcoming rock bands in Toronto. I don’t think a lot of these legendary clubs survived the pandemic in other cities. In fact, we have seen more clubs popping up here and there recently. Anyone looking to start playing in Toronto has a lot of options to choose from.

Llewelyn: Ah yes. How did the band form? We have a feeling this is an interesting story…actually…you have told us but we don’t want to spoil it. Please tell our readers about how your band actually got together and now makes beautiful music together.

Malorie: Well…I married a guitar player (Andrew) and he was in a band called New Commuters with Jimmy. I have been singing for years and wanted to start my own music project and Andy was an obvious choice. Since Jimmy is Andy’s most trusted musical collaborator, he was also an obvious choice. Our original idea was going to be the three of us and Andy was working on…a bass-playing robot. Not a joke. He actually got close, but the logistics were a nightmare. So we sent out a desperate classified ad looking for a bass player. Our only reasonable response was from Alec, who played guitar and had no interest in playing bass at all. For some reason, we invited him to come play with us anyway and after a few minutes, it was clear that we could exploit him for his outrageous talent. Shortly after, Alec brought in his seasoned musical collaborator, Brian, to play bass and sing harmony and he fit in right away. And here we are.

Llewelyn: What’s it like when you close your eyes and see that live crowd? Does it excite you and do any parts of the process scare you at all? It must be such a rush feeling the anticipation and seeing sweaty faces staring closely, singing your songs and rocking out to get work-life stresses out of their system.

Alec: It’s definitely a rush to get up there in front of people and give it your all. For me, once you play that first chord through a loud amp we’re off to the races and any nerves turn into excitement. Seeing people get into it and pass that energy back to us might just be the best part.

Llewelyn: Last one. Once again, thank you for your time today. What do you usually eat/drink before a show or is there a pre-gig ritual or do you just have a lil chat and get on with it? Also, is there one song of yours in particular that you all love wholeheartedly and can never get sick of playing?

Jimmy: We kind of do our own thing for the most part and we’re pretty low-key. Right before going on stage, Malorie, Brian and I find a quiet place somewhere and warm up our vocals. The Yawn-Sigh Technique, The Tongue Trill Exercise…lip buzz warm-ups…all of them.

We released Theatre Of The Whole World a while ago and it seems to have caught on really well in Toronto. It’s always a rush to see a crowd of people that you’ve never seen before singing along to every word.

Do some warm-ups for the soul via the album link on Spotify.

See where they fly next on IG.

Interviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Interview: Kyle Richardson keeps it golden on the heart-wide open chat about his cosy new release Anything

Vancouver-based pop artist and renowned writer Kyle Richardson recently dropped his brand new single Anything and we wanted to know more about it. We sat down with Kyle and learned more about the Canadian music landscape, his career, the creative process, diversity and representation in music, gaming, and his ideal pre-gig routine.

Hi Kyle, thanks so much for blessing us with your valuable time. How is Vancouver today and how do you normally start your day? A cuppa coffee or a long walk? Or straight to the studio for some vocal warm-ups?

Thanks for chatting with me! Today is a very nice, warm summer day here in Vancouver. Usually I sleep pretty late (I’m a night owl), start the day with some form of caffeine, watch some entertainment business related stuff on YouTube, listen to some music, and either chill before heading into my job, or work on some music (either learn a cover song, practice singing something of mine, work on new song ideas).

Anything. This is your hot new single and we love the vibe. Who have you made the track for and what does it all mean to you? Also the video was tremendous. Who was the team behind it all?

Thank you for the kind words! I’m so happy with how Anything turned out.

It’s truly been a labor of love, and time. I wrote the song many years ago before I ever even moved to Vancouver. I had shown collaborators the demo I made at the time, and no one really took the bait in terms of turning it into a full production. Years later, I circled back to the demo and again showed it to collaborators as I still loved the song. This time, producer Jeff Dawson loved the demo and we quickly finished the single version you hear today!

I wrote the song about the belief that small moments of kindness can really make all the difference in your relationships, whether it’s a romantic relationship, or a friendship. It’s also about making sure you take the time to let your loved ones know how much they mean to you.

The video was directed by AJ Astle of Roadhouse Productions in Toronto. It was a really fun day of shooting. We had a very limited window of time to get those beautiful beams of light through the windows you see during the chorus of the song, but I really wanted that bright, ethereal kind of look to bring out the vibe that the choruses are delivering.

Louder Than Words is your debut album that is due to be dropped into our awaiting ears this fall. What can fans expect and what was the process like to create something you’re proud of? It must be quite the journey. What have you learnt along the way?

It was a really fun process to create the album. We really went song by song. I basically had a period of time in which I wanted to commit to writing and recording one song at a time. I really wanted to focus on vocals and melody, and create some beautiful and heartfelt songs to comprise the album. Doing the album one song at a time – and truly taking time with each one to make sure they were perfect – really meant no songs were wasted. We really only wrote and recorded exactly what’s being presented on the album, and towards the end of the process we looked back at some older demos I had worked on throughout the years (for example, Anything, Can You Hear Me, and Keep The Faith were all older songs I had always wanted to do something special with), and filled out the project with the best songs that I had never given proper time to finish and get fully produced.

We see that you love your gaming. What kind of games do you like and which is the best platform, PC, Playstation or XBox?

Honestly I am pretty diverse in terms of which platform I choose to game on, except PC. I’m not really into PC gaming as I’m more of a Mac user. My favorite gaming platform is Nintendo Switch, as I’m a huge Mario junkie. I love basically all the major Nintendo franchises like of course Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Splatoon, Yoshi, and the party games like Mario Kart, Mario Party, and fun stuff like that to play with friends. I do really enjoy Playstation 5 and the Xbox platforms as well for games like the recent (and upcoming) Spider-Man games as I love Marvel comics, also games like Uncharted and Tomb Raider. The Lego games are fun takes on some of my favorite franchises, and the recent Star Wars Jedi games are also incredible and have such good storylines!

What are your top 5 favourite movies ever and why? In any order. You can even sneak in a few more if you like, we don’t mind. 

I love movies. I go to the theatre almost every week and sometimes more than once in a week. So a favorites list is tough! I will say my fave movie trilogy of all time is Back To The Future. I love pretty much the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe and all the older Spider-Man movies (even the infamous Spider-Man 3). I love The Conjuring franchise, even if all the spin-off movies aren’t necessarily as good as the first two original movies. The two Sister Act movies starring Whoopi Goldberg are movies I’ve turned to my entire life as fun, musical, escapist movies and I probably watch them both once a year when I need a good cheer-up.

Carly Rae Jepsen, DYLN, and Garrett Neiles. You’ve written songs for these outstanding artists. What makes a great hit song and what does it feel like when one of the songs you write makes it onto TV or into the mainstream so successfully? It must make all the hard work worth it surely? How do you stay humble throughout this discovery?

Well in terms of Carly Rae Jepsen and DYLN,I wrote songs with them that were intended to be released by me! These two songs haven’t ever seen the light of day as fully-finished tracks but never say never. I was writing with a lot of artists to get a better grip on who I am myself as an artist, and collaboration is such a good chance to really see what works and what doesn’t work. I did write a song with Jeff Dawson and Garrett Neiles for Garrett’s project, and I am not sure if he’s recorded the tune yet, but it was a lovely ballad as he wanted to write a more emotional song.

It’s really cool when I see a song I’ve been a part of get picked up for a placement on a TV show, it really does give a sense of being on the right track, and it makes me want to create more songs that are even better and can have an even broader scope to reach more people! Creating a hit song is not something that can always be planned. I find I just want to create something honest and fun that I would want to listen to myself, and see how that can resonate with others.

Lastly, how do you feel the music industry can be better with diversity and representation in the industry? Also, does Ai music scare you and do you feel it threatens the long-term future of musicians?

The music industry, and any industry whether creative or otherwise, can only be improved with more diversity and inclusiveness for all people. Everyone has a different background, a different story, and a different perspective. I think everyone wants to feel represented in the media they consume, and I think the more diverse that art and media gets, the more potential audience it can reach. I am not sure how I feel about AI music, I think the human touch and perspective, and talent is important to create something emotional that will have a better chance of really connecting with an audience.

Check out this fine new single on YouTube.

See more of this journey on IG.

Interviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Lyrically supreme Washington DC underground emcee Kvng Chemist guides us through his obvious true love for music

Kvng Chemist is an insightful and experienced figure in the music game. The Washington DC emcee sat down with us the other day to speak more about his vision behind the new single, his career to date and what’s next.

Llewelyn: Thank you for joining us today Kvng Chemist. Let’s start off here. Where in the world are you as we speak and how did you get your artist name? It feels like it’s a good story of how you got it originally.

Kvng Chemist: Right now I’m in Washington D.C born and raised. My artist name origin stems from my early childhood when my father was a DJ and my interest in science as I first started out as The Venomous Chemist as in the early 90s there was a chemist radioactive lab set to where you could concoct a lot of ingredients to make weird things and I really enjoyed and it help me to appreciate art and mind of a chemist so I embody that and as I got older me and some of my friends I grew up with we really got into learning ancient cultures and history which lead to me evolving and changing my name to Kvng Chemist as doing research we are descendants of our ancestors who are ancient beings.

Llewelyn: Please tell us more about your true love of music. How has this progressed and does it encapsulate your life story?

Kvng Chemist: My love for music stems from my father DJing since I can remember at the age of 4yrs old seeing him mix and blend oldies with late 80s to early 90s hip-hop and R&B. He seen how much I loved music at the age 2yrs old and made sure when ever he had gigs at weddings, beach parties, anniversaries etc. me and my brother was present. My love for the art progressed as friends around my neighborhood would come over and we would have freestyle sessions and battle rap. I did a lot recordings I sang and rap on my home alone talkboy my parents bought me one Christmas. But I really starting taking my writing serious when I was 14 yrs old and recorded my first song at 15yrs old. I believe when I turned 19yrs of age and my daughter came into the picture my writing and thought process changed and evolved for the better. It’s crazy because her being helped me tap into expressing my journey and lessons in life in a enigmatic manner and I embody that.

Llewelyn: When do you realise that you wanted to be an artist and what have been the victories and challenges along the way? Have you found that self-belief has carried you over the line when some have doubted you?

Kvng Chemist: I realized at 15yrs of age I wanted to be an artist. I was an introvert growing up and there was a lot of emotions and things I started to experience that I felt more comfortable expressing through writing. My challenges along the way we’re definitely hard. It was a constant struggle trying to master my cadence to the beat and I really stood out because most not all but majority of my peers liked punch lines and battle rap and that just wasn’t me even though I enjoyed it also. My victories along the way were my constant freestyle sessions whether I was in a cypher or around my friends, or I was with my cousin and he would play new beats he made and we would ride out for 2 to 3 hrs and he would have me freestyle on all his beats the whole ride. Those moments and memorabilia were pivotal in my growth up to this day. Most definitely self-belief has carried me over the line of doubters whether it was family, friends, business partners, love interests. It was all fuel to the fire. But at the end of day I love what I do and it’s me.

Llewelyn: Your new single is called Star. What’s the vision behind the project and who did you make the song for? Also, who was involved in the creation besides yourself?

Kvng Chemist: The vision behind my new single Star was self-love affirmation and recognizing who I am and when I wrote it I spoke from my personal perspective and experiences with the thought of others in mind. Because I do believe everyone has a gift and everyone is special or you wouldn’t be here. So we are all Stars but, it’s on us as individuals to seek out that gift and see how can we use it for the betterment of mankind. I definitely wanna show love to everyone I collaborated with on this single Anna-Sophia Henry who is one of the co-writers, Darrell Banks the producer and Face the engineer who mixed and mastered the final cut.

Llewelyn: How do you write tracks? Do you go outside to find the lyrics or do they come naturally when you want?

Kvng Chemist: When I write I never box myself into only one particular way of how my creativity comes to me. So to be truly honest and 100 when I say this my process is never forced and comes naturally when I’m inspired to share my experiences, thoughts, and lyricism

Llewelyn: What kind of music are you into and who are some of your favorite artists?

Kvng Chemist: I’m into most genres because they all tell a story and as I study them and listen closely they all expressed in different emotional tones how I would put it. But I will say I do listen to more classical, opera, & jazz music. Those combinations definitely inspires some of my creative styles. As favorite artists now a days I really don’t have a favorite because I like so many of them that came before me. So just to name a few off the top of my head MosDef, Rakim, Big L, Nas, AZ, Busta Rhymes, Black Thought, OutKast, Goodie Mob, UGK, De La Soul, Slum Village, Tribe Called Quest, of course Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tha Eastsidaz, & Shade Sheist it’s so many I enjoy studying & listening to the art overall from all genres just to reiterate

Llewelyn: Last, who inspires you most in the world and do you have any words for young musicians starting out in the game?

Kvng Chemist: I would say the fact that I exist to learn & experience God’s creations, inspires me the most. Because every breath, every step, every heartbeat, every blink from eyes is a tempo. Music is an essential part of life!

For the young musicians starting out. Be inspired, be different. Always be true and authentic with yourself and you’ll be successful. It’s all about PFM Positive Foward Movement

Listen up on Spotify.

See more on his IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen