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Resonance and Resilience: Navigating the Independent Music Odyssey An Interview with Sean MacLeod

In the dynamic realm of music, Sean MacLeod stands as both an architect of melodies and a sage of musical wisdom. With a rich repertoire of albums and singles like “Let the Light In” and “That’s When the Earth Becomes a Star,” MacLeod’s sonic journey transcends boundaries. In this exclusive interview, we delve into the inspiration behind his current single, “The Sweetness,” explore the narratives of his past releases, and gain insights from his latest book, “Behind the Wall of Illusion: The Religious, Esoteric, and Occult World of The Beatles.” Furthermore, MacLeod shares invaluable advice for aspiring artists.

Your current single, “The Sweetness,” carries a unique resonance. Can you share the story behind this track and how it fits into the broader narrative of your musical journey?

‘The Sweetness’ is a song I wrote many years ago. Originally, I tried to record it with a band I had some years ago, called Cisco. The song funnily enough was written when I was going through a Brian Wilson ( of the Beach Boys) stage and the lyric – ‘don’t let that worry you’ – is borrowed from Brian’s song  ‘Don’t Worry Baby.’ I was also listening to a lot of Britpop bands at the time too, so it has that pop guitar feel to it. I have always been influenced by good melodies and electric guitars so the song is pretty much what Brian Wilson might have done had he been in Oasis rather than the Beach Boys :).

Lyrically, it deals with a theme that often crops up in my songs which is the kind of bitter sweet symphony that is life. I mean it is such a mad, sad, crazy, exciting, paranoid, happy, tragic, soulful, beautiful inexplicable thing we all have to go through . I mean its like we are all characters in some Shakespeare  play and I think Shakespeare is ultimately right we are all just actors on a stage and if we can remember that it kind of allows us to relax a bit and not get so caught up in everything we are doing. I think the song kind of explores that idea a bit. There is a line in the song which I should really have accredited to the Romantic poet Shelley – We fall upon the Thors of life- because it is his line. I’m far from being a poet like the Romantics or Shakespeare but I like the idea of pop songs being poetry at the same time. I guess Lennon and Dylan did that really well.

Production wise I was very happy with the final result because I had decided to go into the best studio I could afford- which was Westland in Dublin. It’s a rather old study which had its main successes back in the seventies when it was recording groups like Thin Lizzy and Van Morrison. Because now a days you can get pretty good recording quality on home studios I always feel there is a kind of polish missing from the end result and that can often make the difference between an ok record and a great one.

Unless you have a big record company behind you you have to try and get it right first time round if you are going to use a studio like Westland because you can’t really afford to go back in and do it again. So, I’m really pleased I did that and I got the song sounding as good as it should

With albums like “That’s When the Earth Becomes a Star” and singles like “Let the Light In,” you’ve demonstrated a diverse musical palette. How does the upcoming album continue this exploration of different styles, and what themes can listeners expect to encounter?

Apart from the albums and singles I released with Cisco, quite sometime ago now I have released now five solo album and quite a lot of singles- which sadly very few people have heard. I don’t know really how much things have changed so much from the first solo album Cool Charisma I just try and write three-minute pop songs essentially and hope that they mean something to people. They are very much in the songwriter tradition of the Beatles, Bowie, Dylan, right through to the Stone Roses and Blur and that kind of thing. I often have lots of different types of styles and songs but mostly in the pop/rock/singer-songwriter genre. I kind of think if its a good melody and good arrangement and well produced that’s good enough and hopefully it makes people feel something, something positive about themselves or their life because that what music has done for me ever since I heard the Beatles’ ‘Penny Lane’ when I was 11 🙂

I like the idea of music progressing and I think as an artist one should always be exploring but at the same time things cannot be forced and there is no point in just trying new things for the sake of it or to be different, because that’s not really being truthful to myself and what I do, which is write simple songs.  But I do play and listen to lots of different music lots of classical music which I like playing on the piano and things like minimalist composers and microtonal music which I have been exploring a lot over the last few years. Actually, the last album ‘We Don’t See that We Don’t See’ was purposefully applying different tuning systems and microtonal music to the 3 minute pop song. I was very happy with it but I haven’t actually released the album yet just some track from it because it was a bit underground and experimental and I got caught up doing the last album. But I think I’ll release it in the new year.

The new album When the Earth Becomes a Star is still in the traditional songwriting tradition, but I have elements of microtonal tunings on it to just give it that flavour. The single ‘Let the Light In’ is the first song from the album. It’s a great song and a good recording but it’s kind of a blend of Oasis meets Cream meets Gospel music 🙂 It just could do with a gospel choir at the end of the song.

In addition to your musical pursuits, you’ve authored books, your latest work, “Behind the Wall of Illusion: The Religious, Esoteric, and Occult World of The Beatles,” is intriguing. Can you give us a glimpse into the inspiration behind this book and others that you have written and their connection to your musical endeavours.

When I was 11 I had quite a profound experience with hearing the Beatles’ song ‘Penny Lane.’ It wasn’t even the Beatles’ version but Jimmy Osmond singing the song on the tv show Fame. If anyone is interested, you can find it on YouTube. The song just struck me right in the solar plexus and the next day I was coming home from school and saw in a record shop that I used to pass by everyday a copy of the Beatle’s Rock n Roll Album vol 2 for 2 pounds. I got the money of my mum and rush back and bought the album. When I put it on the record player- we had an old bush record player with only one speaker, but all the songs were just amazing. I mean they were better than anything that I was hearing on radio or tv at the time and I just became a fan. I was hooked. Luckily all my friends’ mums and dads still had all their old Beatles records and so I was able to borrow them all and within about two years I think I had heard most of the albums. I was reading about them all the time and that got me into other bands like the Kinks and the Who and not some much the Stones but some of their stuff and then Motown and then that got me into Mod groups and for a while I played drums in a Mod group covering lots of Jam and Who and Motown covers and then I just got into the history of pop music two-tone and punk and new wave etc. I knew quite a lot about 60s 70s 80s 90s music and one day someone gave me a Shangrilas CD. I don’t know why or why they were listening to them we didn’t talk about music. Actually, the guy just worked in my local shop and one day I went in to buy a pint of milk and came out with a Shangrilas’ CD it was quite surreal now that I think of it. I put the CD on and again I was really impressed with a lot of the songs and the productions. There were a lot of Greenwich and Barry songs on it who were a big deal songwriting couple in the 60s but I didn’t know much about them. SO I realised that there were all these girl groups out there that I had never heard, apart from the Supremes and the Vandellas and so I started to find groups like the Ronettes and the Shirelles and the Marvellettes and I thought that these groups had more or less been forgotten by history so I began to write about them and soon I had a book called Girl Groups of the 1960s and I found a publisher. I wrote another book on Phil Spector for that publisher, and I wanted to write something on the Beatles and particular from the perspective of spiritual science. That’s a kind of research developed by the Austrian philosopher and seer, Rudolf Steiner. His philosophy is essentially that man is a spiritual being and that there is a kind of spiritual cause behind or involved in everything we do here in this world. I am very interested in that, and I think music is something that very much relates to that because it’s not quite physical or tangible in a sense. I think the Beatles were very interested in that and the whole 1960s culture was tapping into and exploring these ideas. The experimentations in music and drugs and even social changes I think can be seen from this perspective. I don’t think Steiner would necessarily have seen every aspect of the 1960s culture or music as positive but certainly we can try to understand the spiritual impulses behind the events of that period which, as I said the groups and the people of the time were dimly aware of and trying to penetrate deeper into what we might call the invisible realm or the super-sensible realm.

Today, I think this is kind of difficult because we are so much more immersed in technology and in the material world- living in the material world as George Harrison might say- that we are becoming or have become more disconnected from what I think is our spiritual nature. Although it’s quite clear, due to a lot of stuff that has happened over the last three years that people are beginning to what to know more about these things. So that’s kind of what the book is about, and I guess what my songs try to be about.

Looking back at your previous releases and forward to your upcoming projects, how do you see your artistic evolution? Are there specific moments or experiences that have significantly influenced your musical journey, and if so, how do they manifest in your work?

Yes, as I said my experiences with the Beatles ‘ music was a major point in my life which began me wanting to know more about musical and to be a songwriter. Apart from that specifically my interests are more related to philosophy and that has influenced a lot of how I think about music maybe. I think my whole life has been connected to music, so it was kind of like for me a destiny moment meeting the Beatles because they opened up something in me that was able to enter into the world of music and my journey through life has been inextricably linked to my musical journey. I think there for example is a spiritual science moment. Of seeing something happen in your life that comes to meet you and moves you in a certain direction. It has nothing to do with me its something outside me but it has a tremendous impact on my life and my life, like everyone’s, has a tremendous impact on so many other people, in fact on the entire world. So, trying to understand that event and other similar events in our lives is a way of bringing us into contact with these impulses that are kind of invisible. I guess some people might call it chance or coincidence and that all things are chance, but one thing is that it has a profound meaning for me and that as I said influences everything and everyone around me. If it is just a chain of chance events then there is no real meaning, which of course some people might say, but if there is no real meaning then why do we feel the need to give it meaning, why is meaning inherent in our lives? Anyway, the point here is to think about these things and be open to them rather than having to prove they are right or wrong. Because ultimately, we cannot really prove anything only know something is as it is or experience it as so.

Embarking on a career as an independent artist often involves navigating uphill battles and overcoming challenges. Can you share some of the significant hurdles you’ve faced in your journey and the strategies you’ve employed to surmount them, providing insights for emerging artists grappling with similar obstacles?

There are so many uphill struggles and failures and disappointments and challenges.
Playing live on national radio and putting your capo on the wrong fret on the guitar and then singing the song in one key and playing the guitar in another is a pretty embarrassing moment – though I did manage to get my voice intone after a few seconds 🙂

Playing gigs to nobody is hard. Making records that no one hears is not very satisfying trying to get gigs and find other outlets for your music is hard. Feeling at times you aren’t any good is a struggle at times. But strangely I find as I said at the start if you see it as a space to learn and grow and see yourself as an actor on the stage it suddenly doesn’t seem as bad as you thought. You can actually enjoy it all. That’s what I have learned and every day you get better as a performer, a writer, a recording artist. You get to the point where you can say I am a musician. I am a songwriter. I am a recording artist. And it’s a bit like being able to do something around the house like cut the grass or something. You just do it and enjoy doing what you do and try and get better at it. That bit requires concentration. I mean to concentrate on what you cannot yet do and keep at it focusing even for ten minutes a day until you crack it. Mostly likely if you keep at it, you’ll do it. But of course, you need to know what you can do and what is the most realistic step to take next. That I think is important. So, I know that I am a songwriter. I have been honing that craft for many years I know I can play various instruments and that I can sing to a certain degree. So I stay within that comfort zone but I know that If I spend ten minutes a day playing a certain thing on the piano that I cannot quite do so well yet I will be able to do it in a few weeks and I keep doing that until in a years’ time I can do all the things I could do a year ago and now I am on a higher level and can do more things as a musician and feel confident do that. But I need to give a few minutes every day to it. Steiner would say that it is not so much spending hours every day doing something that helps us master something but doing something even only 5 minutes is what is important because this activity we absorb into our being and after a time because who we are. I think this is true. So, you just keep doing the thing you want to do every day.

Unfortunately, if you want to be successful in a materialistic sense like be famous or rich from it then you might be forever disappointed because these things are often nothing to do with our own inner capacities. Fortune is just that something that is gifted to us from the gods but if we focus on our capacities that will give us joy and others joy too and then who knows the gods might smile on us.


Harmonizing Life and Melodies: An Exclusive Interview with Musician Roman Gastelum

Embark on a journey with Roman Gastelum, a Los Angeles-based artist breaking barriers in the realms of jazz and hip-hop fusion. With his recent debut record, “EQuilibrium,” Roman has crafted a ground breaking blend of genres that pushes artistic boundaries. Join us in this exclusive interview as we explore the depths of Roman’s musical influences, the creative process behind “EQuilibrium,” and the unique perspective he brings to the intersection of jazz and hip-hop.

“EQuilibrium” is a genre-defying masterpiece, seamlessly blending hip-hop and jazz. What inspired you to create such a unique fusion, and how did you approach the challenge of balancing these diverse musical elements?

I have been heavily into both jazz and hip hop since I was a younger teen and have always seen similarities between the two styles to the point where they are pretty much interchangeable. They are both very cerebral styles of music that both seem to activate the same part of my brain. I remember always being fascinated by the intersection between the two styles and always wanting to explain to others how modern hip hop that followed in the path of Eric B & Rakim is essentially an offshoot of Charlie Parker bebop. This led to years of me going down the rabbit hole between both genres, which eventually culminated into me wanting to create a balance between the two that I’ve always wanted to hear that I felt I had never quite heard before. I had noticed that a lot of jazz infused hip hop or hip hop infused jazz tends to be lopsided in the sense that it leans more in one direction than the other: hip hop that samples jazz, soul etc., or jazz that is performed over hip hop grooves and has a slow harmonic rhythm. My goal was to create as close to a perfect balance between boom bap and bop that I possibly could by balancing elements from the best of both worlds that, for some reason, never seem to be combined (see question #3). Overall, I wanted the superficial listener to have the impression that they are (mostly) listening to Jazz sampled instrumental boom bap beats; but for the more discerning listener, I wanted a much more intricate, fresh and engaging composition to unfold before their ears.

As the bassist, vocalist, and lyricist for Jigsaw Falling, how does your role in this eclectic progressive rock project differ from your solo work on “EQuilibrium”?

My role differed between “EQuilibrium” and “Jigsaw Falling” with the way that the music was composed. “Jigsaw Falling” was more geared toward collaboration, where all three of us were composing and arranging the instrumental aspect of music in the studio at the same time, and we would all have to come to agreement on the final outcome for every song. This was very time consuming and difficult at times, but this process definitely created some interesting music. The vocals and lyrics are probably the only similarity between the creative processes of “EQuilibrium” and “Jigsaw Falling”. I pretty much had free reign over creating the vocal melodies and lyrics with “Jigsaw Falling”, which would typically all be ironed out during the recording sessions. The major difference with “EQuilibrium” is that as leader, I had full creative control over the entire project, whether it be composition, arrangement, production or any decision-making regarding the band.

Your musical influences span a wide range of genres. How do you navigate the diverse landscape of jazz, hip-hop, funk, soul, and more to create a cohesive and innovative sound in your compositions?

Taking many diverse influences and fusing them into a cohesive sound is definitely a challenge, especially because I wanted to approach it differently. Hip hop is already comprised of jazz, funk and soul, so composing music like this is naturally going to have inflections of funk and soul, both in the melodies, harmonies and rhythms. Because these styles are prerequisite for classic hip hop, the music tended to write itself depending on the feelings I wanted to express. The main challenge for me was that I wanted to combine certain elements from different genres that aren’t typically combined in order to strive for something fresh, yet still familiar. The first step in striving for the sound I wanted to achieve was to take the soundscapes of hip hop – most of which are sampled (in the classic sense) – and reproduce them with live instruments. This meant that I had to create melodies that gave the same avant-garde, disjointed, almost atonal sense of counterpoint that hip hop sampling conveys, and put them over boom bap grooves. The second step was that I wanted to put rich post-bop harmonies and jazz forms to these hip hop soundscapes. This way, the composition becomes a vehicle for the soloist to create an interesting lyrical solo as if they were the rapper soloing over the track. The compositions ultimately become reversible in the sense that they can either be performed as boom bap beats, or as jazz standards.

“EQuilibrium” features a talented lineup of musicians from the Los Angeles scene. Can you share how collaboration played a role in shaping the album, and what each musician brought to the table?

Collaboration played a huge role in putting this record together. I chose every musician based on knowing that they would fulfill my vision of the project – each one of them has a unique voice that I knew would bring it all to life. Drums are probably the most important part of the overall sound on a record for something that is boom bap oriented, so I had none other than Jason Pruhko play drums. He is a highly versatile drummer that has an in-depth knowledge of hip hop grooves and gets the overall aesthetic, so I knew I would be secure with getting a solid balance between hip hop and jazz in the end. I went with Andy Waddell on guitar because he has strong modern sensibilities and works with a lot of great sounds. He also has a certain intensity to his playing that took the record to another level. We had a blast getting creative and recording in the studio together. Scott Tibbs was on keys and synths throughout the entire record. He was the oldest on the project so the experience and insight he brought to the table was key. His approach added great depth and balance to the compositions. Brandon Wilkins played tenor saxophone and Aaron Janik played trumpet. They make a great duo, are incredibly efficient, and they both played some killer solos throughout. “EQuilibrium” would not have been a reality of course, without Brandon Wilkins, who was my right hand man throughout the entire record. If he didn’t offer to take on the project and my vision wasn’t mutually accepted, it might have been much longer before I would have gotten it off the ground. He recorded, mixed, and mastered the entire thing and worked closely with me co-producing throughout the entire process to make sure that everything was getting the attention that it deserved.

As a musician actively involved in the Los Angeles music scene, how has the city influenced your sound and creativity, especially in the context of the vibrant and diverse music community that exists there?

Given the massive metropolis that is Los Angeles, I don’t think I would have the opportunity and potential to perform the wide array of styles that I have performed, or will be able to perform in the future if I didn’t live here. I have played anything from rock, pop, alternative, r&b, jazz and country. There is something here for everyone musically and you don’t need to live in the middle of LA to get it. It all depends on what kind of scene you’re looking for. For example, if you live in LA City and don’t like what’s going on there at the moment, you have the rest of LA County. If that’s not enough, you can always head to Orange County, Ventura, or even San Bernardino Counties, which each have something completely different to offer. There are probably only a few other locations in America that offer such a wide and frequent selection of musical styles, so it made sense for me to move to a place where I knew I would have a lot of room to expand musically because I have always enjoyed playing a wide number of styles since a younger age. The longer I have the ability to be surrounded by an eclectic musical environment, it only encourages me to grow as an artist by taking on new experiences and challenges.

Your debut album marks a significant milestone in your musical journey. How do you see yourself evolving as an artist, and what aspirations do you have for the future of your music career?

Now that I have released my debut full length solo record, I feel like a massive weight has been lifted off of me and I can now pursue other things that I’ve been wanting to pursue. It’s hard to say at this point if I will be creating more records in this specific style of jazz and hip hop, or if I will move onto something else in terms of composing new material. I do feel that I have expressed most of what I wanted to express on EQuilibrium, so if this is the only one, I am content with that, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t have more to express within the same idiom in the future; a lot of it depends on demand. What I do know is that at this point in my life I am definitely ready to expand as both a bassist and a composer. I have mostly been playing within the jazz realm over the past 4 or 5 years while neglecting the live performance of other styles, and am craving performing within many genres of music on a regular basis, although of course I will continue playing jazz. Different musical genres fulfill different sides of me artistically, and being active in as many as possible makes life more interesting and usually creates more opportunities for me. One style of music that I haven’t gotten to play enough of in LA and am just as passionate about as any other, is real country music – honky tonk, outlaw and bluegrass – and I would like to expand in that realm. I would also like to play in more various rock and pop settings. All of the aforementioned typically lend to playing in front of larger audiences. Lets just say that if I don’t stay in Los Angeles, somewhere like Nashville could be written in my future.

Find out more about Roman here


Interview | Lizzie Esau – From Self-Doubt to Sonic Triumph with ‘Deepest Blue

In the midst of a bustling summer, singer-songwriter Lizzie Esau, hailing from Newcastle, unveild her debut EP, “Deepest Blue,” on July 21st via LAB Records. The EP comes alongside the release of her single, “Lazy Brain,” a compelling exploration of self-doubt and the quest for emotional liberation. With festival slots, support tours, and headline shows filling her calendar, Lizzie’s journey of self-discovery and musical resilience takes center stage. As she confronts her inner demons through ethereal choruses and impassioned crescendos, Lizzie Esau invites listeners into a world where authenticity reigns supreme.

Can you share the inspiration behind your upcoming EP, “Deepest Blue,” and how it reflects your journey as an artist?

The inspiration behind the EP was that it’s a collection of songs speaking on some of the darkest moments of my life. I think naturally for me writing is like a therapy (as cheesy as it sounds) so unfortunately they’re not the most cheerful songs you’ll hear lyrically haha! I think it’s important to be transparent and honest about my feelings in my music as a way of showing other people in similar situations they’re not alone. I know that’s a big reason I go back to so many of my favourite songs, for that feeling of comfort. As I grow as an artist and looking back at how far the project as a whole has come along I think the ability to be so open with the audience and translate painful experiences into music were really proud of is something that has developed a lot.

“Lazy Brain” delves into the theme of self-doubt. How did you approach capturing such a personal struggle in your music, and what do you hope listeners take away from the track?

As I mentioned before I feel like it’s really great for me to be able to understand how I’m feeling through making these songs. I think as soon as I’m honest with myself it will encourage others to do the same hopefully. I think it’s such a natural and common thing to doubt yourself so it’s good we can talk (sing) about it all together. I think I just wanted to reach out to others that we’re feeling the same frustration with themselves with this song definitely.

Collaborating with industry veterans like Steve Grainger and Iain Berryman must have been incredible. How did their involvement shape the sound and narrative of “Lazy Brain” and the overall EP?

Lazy Brain was first a demo I wrote maybe coming up to a year ago on logic in my room. I was just experimenting and having fun really and didn’t think too seriously about what it would turn into. I then sent it over to the band and my manager who were all keen to take it further so we started to work on new parts for the track. I feel like anytime I take a demo to the band they really enhance the whole energy of it. This collective side of things definitely helped build the emotion and sway of the track. We worked on it in the studio with Steve Grainger a producer who we’ve worked with for a long time now and had the track mixed by Ian Berryman. Both absolute masters of their craft and completely translated all of our wishes for the track into reality.

Your tracks are gaining traction on popular playlists. How does it feel to see your music resonating with audiences, and what role do these platforms play in connecting artists with listeners?

It feels amazing! I think Spotify have allowed us to reach so many new audiences via their playlisting which has been so incredible for us. We still get people coming up to us at shows saying that’s how they discovered the music!

The EP encapsulates both the energy of your live performances and your darkest moments. How do you balance these elements in your songwriting, and what message do you aim to convey through this dual perspective?

I think it allows people to enjoy the music in different ways at different times. Like if you’re wanting something to cry in the bath to listen into the lyrics and if you’re wanting something to dance around to you can just block out the words and listen to the music haha. If you’re wanting to have a dance and a cry feel free to tune into both haha.

What excites you the most about sharing your music with new crowds, and what can fans expect from your live performances?

Playing live is my favourite thing ever. It’s so special when you can see people singing along, relating with the topics you’re writing on and sharing those feelings. Equally it’s always fun playing support shows where you feel like you’re winning people over and you can see the moment right in front of you when people are discovering something new they’re into.

Our live performances are very high energy and emotional and I basically throw myself around the stage a lot. But don’t take my word for it, come and see for yourself!!!

Find out more about Lizzie Esau here.

Harmonies and Reflections: An Interview with Angel Quintas

Meet Angel Quintas, the self-taught musical virtuoso hailing from Orlando, Florida, whose sound is a fusion of classic and contemporary influences ranging from iconic groups like The Beatles to modern artists like Harry Styles. Angel’s debut album, “Self-Portrait,” released in 2021. As Angel prepares for the unveiling of the sophomore album, “In The Clouds,” in late 2023, Angel has recently released his latest single, “Up To You.” In this interview, we delve into Angel’s musical journey, diverse influences, and the inspiration behind his newest release.

“Self-Portrait” was a solo project where you handled every aspect of the music creation process. How has this DIY approach influenced your musical style, and what themes can listeners expect from your debut album?

Well, the musical style of “Self-Portrait” has, for the most part, a sort of un-polished/unfinished quality about it. Compared to some of my more recent releases, you can tell it was very made up as I went along. But it was my first time ever producing music, recording music, and generally getting serious about writing music. I didn’t have access to a studio, and I couldn’t afford a producer at the time; all I had was a few guitars, GarageBand on my old MacBook, and a microphone. At the time, I had no idea what mastering was. So the fact that it’s got some rawer elements shows the growing pains I went through when working on it. There’s a recurring theme of reflection, heartbreak, and love on the album, which are themes and topics that I often write about.

Your influences span decades and genres. How do you weave together the sounds of legendary acts like The Beatles with the contemporary vibes of artists like Harry Styles, and what do you believe distinguishes your music in today’s diverse music landscape?

Simple, I’m a huge fan of both! And now that my ear is a little better trained to pick up certain writing, recording and production techniques, I implement those elements into my own work. Sometimes I lean a little heavier into the influence, but it’s good sounding music, so I don’t see why not! I see a lot of artists using musical elements from the 70’s and 80’s, but there’s hardly, if any, artists using elements from the 60’s with contemporary production. Not since the Britpop movement in the 90’s. And I feel like that’s what sets me apart from my contemporaries.

“Up To You” is your latest release. What inspired the song, and how does it fit into the broader narrative of your upcoming sophomore album, “In The Clouds”?

“Up To You” is about the fact that, although sometimes we feel like we have no say in the choices we’re given in life, the choices we make are truly up to us. It’s also about change, and how difficult it can be to adjust to. We can either choose to stay in our comfort zone, or make ourselves uncomfortable, and step out of it to see what lies beyond. Some verses were partly inspired by some people who were once integral to my life, who aren’t as integral anymore. A lot of the songs on “In The Clouds” delve into introspection and reflection, more so than on “Self-Portrait”. I’ve done some growing up since the last album was made and released, and I feel like the songs I’m writing now reflect that. Not to say that “In The Clouds” is an entirely serious album! There’s also plenty of levity, excitement and fun on this record.

Being a self-taught musician and producer, what challenges have you encountered in the music creation process, and what advice do you offer to emerging artists looking to take a similar hands-on approach to their music?

Like I mentioned when talking about the process of making “Self-Portrait,” there were lots of growing pains. Most of it was due to the technological limits I had at the time. I didn’t have the home studio I have now, I didn’t have a lot of the tools I have now, such as a MIDI keyboard, monitors, a good pair of studio headphones, etc. My entire first album was written, recorded and mixed, in GarageBand, on a 2014 MacBook Air. And while I still have the belief that limitations allow creativity to flourish, I think that having some of those tools at hand make for a more streamlined process. As for advice, it might sound a bit counter-intuitive since it’s reducing the “Y” in “DIY”–but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being a DIY music artist is about so much more than just writing and recording music. If you want to mix and master your own work, that’s fine, but there’s a lot that goes into music production. And while I do most of my own production work, I still seek help from time to time from a producer friend of mine named Angeliz Bula. There’s the whole business side of it, which I also handle myself, and can be stressful at times. There’s promotion, creating content, photoshoots, music videos (which I do get help with from a great photographer/videographer named Emma Popkin). And most importantly, as a DIY music artist, securing your Composition and Recording rights!

Your debut album explored themes of love and reflection. How does the lyrical narrative of your upcoming album, “In The Clouds,” differ, and what can fans anticipate in terms of musical evolution in this next chapter of your career?

Lyrically, I’d say “In The Clouds” goes deeper into those themes than “Self-Portrait” did. And musically, I’ve found more of my own voice, and what works for me as an artist, and that is definitely reflected on the album.

Find out more about Angel on IG

Unveiling the Harmony: An Exclusive Interview with Gospel Duo Folarin and Keziah

The A&R Factory Team recently had an enlightening chat with the much-loved Gospel duo Folarin and Keziah. They tell us more about what it’s like to work as a couple and take us deep into the creative glue of their wonderful music project which has inspired so much during these dark times.
How would you describe your brand of music to a new listener?

After much thought through the years, we simply define our sound as worship music. There is so much opinion about what constitutes gospel or Christian music genre and we’ve struggled to understand the key differences. For example, we observed that many artists that identify as black are automatically grouped into the gospel category even if their sound says otherwise. Similarly, very few artists that identify as white describe their music as gospel. This creates a type of artificial divide that has left us with more questions than answers in terms of defining a genre. We’ve decided to  focus on writing songs that reflect our Christian faith and express them sonically however we see fit. We have been privileged to minister in multicultural spaces and we have learnt that people just want good music and the genre stereotypes can sometimes hinder our ability to connect. We love and listen to several Christian and gospel artists but find that our music blend is genre-defying which gives us the opportunity to connect with listeners regardless of their color, creed and culture.

How did you both start performing together and what is the writing/production process like?

We both started our music journey on different trajectories. Folarin started leading worship in a local church in Nigeria in 1997 and has been doing so ever since. Keziah also started singing in the choir as a teenager in Nigeria but took some time off in her early twenties to focus on other ministry gifts in the church. After we got married in 2011, we both started singing at Talbot Christian Center, Nottingham, England where Folarin was a worship band leader. About a year later, we moved to Canada and continued singing in church as worship leaders in St Catharines and Hamilton, Ontario. We started writing songs and sharing them with members of our Christian faith community and this received an overwhelming response. It soon became obvious to us that we wanted to be more involved with music outside formal church settings. We started the band, Folarin & Keziah in 2018 and released our first album in 2019. Our song writing process is atypical as it tends to focus on inspiration and tapping into the moment. For example, I (Folarin) was having a conversation with a patient who was recovering from Stroke when the inspiration for Relentless (first album title track) was received. We were listening to a heated conversation about who the greatest basketball player is and we concluded it was basically impossible to pour the accolade of ‘greatest’ on any human being. We got to work and the song greatest (title track of sophomore EP) was born. Relentless was written in less than an hour to write while Greatest took over a year to complete. Once we create a song, we reach out to our team to arrange a recording with a live band off the floor. That typically results in a demo that needs additional productions for the final track. The next step involves background vocals jumping on the track before we finally work our way around the track to add our voices as lead singer.

As a couple, how do you find performing together and has it made your bond even stronger?

We really enjoy performing together and we continue to evolve as a duo as we push each other towards excellence. Performing together gives us the chance to spend more time together and travel together. However, contrary to what most people may believe, working as a couple is also fraught with the challenges you face when working with a family member. Performing together also helps us see each other in a different light and exposes to what we both act like when at work. With that knowledge comes more patience to learn how to complement each other and create great music without sacrificing our uniqueness.

Please provide more details about your label and how everything began?

We started God Colors Media Inc in 2019 as a creative start-up focused on producing, performing and publishing worship worship music that is undignified and genre-defying.  Like many independent artists, we invested a lot in music production and audio-visual gear during the pandemic when all studios were closed. Although we always wanted to have our own label, that period quickened the process. We decided to self-release all our music and control the production, distribution and promotion of our music. Having a label also allows us to retain ownership of our intellectual property since we write most of music ourselves. Our vision for the future is to support newer artists by offering more flexibility, creativity and control. As we grow in the music business, God Colors Media will help us maintain a larger share of any profits we make from music sales. God Colors Media is currently registered with the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).

Your 2nd album was just released. Please explain to us how the project came together and what is next?

Our sophomore project, Greatest was released on November 1, 2023. The EP contains 6 tracks and is a collection from some of the songs we started writing during the pandemic. Everything to Me, the first single from the EP, was released at the end of 2022. This was followed with four singles Greatest, Long to Worship, Audience of One and King of Glory in 2023. We decided to feature our friend and one of the most dynamic worship leaders we know, Melina Dulluku-Fisico on the project. Melina is a singer songwriter, musician and worship leader in Ontario, Canada and listeners will get to hear her beautiful voice on Audience of One and King of Glory. Like our first album, all songs were written by Folarin & Keziah with Sam Williams (Toronto) receiving co-production credits. We have an album release and worship concert scheduled for November 12, 2023.

Last, what advice would you give a new musician who is just starting out in this game?

To anyone, thinking about creating music especially with a spiritual essence. Know your listeners, create music you love and look for people that you can work with that will offer great advice but not try to change your vision into theirs. Ultimately, time is the greatest revealer. So, learn to be patient while waiting for your music to be heard around the world. That itself is not a guarantee!

Hear their music on Spotify. See their creative journey on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

An Exclusive Interview with SVLEM on Crowdfunding and the Dark Melodies Ahead

In a time when the independent creative spirit is often stifled by soaring costs, SVLEM, the Australian Alternative Goth Metal quintet, is harnessing the power of community and crowdfunding to manifest their debut album. Their unique approach to fundraising, featuring tantalizing perks and a sense of camaraderie among supporters, promises to breathe life into their haunting, dark melodies.

SVLEM, your crowdfunding campaign has introduced some fascinating perks, from ‘Satan’s Spit’ hot sauce to Metal Burlesque classes. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind these unconventional rewards and how they connect to your music and artistic vision?

“Cheers and thanks for having us! Creativity fuels SVLEM and this goes far beyond music creation: From our own merchandise, to our stage decor we conceptualise and create everything we can ourselves.

When it came to brainstorming ideas for perks in this campaign, on top of the traditional band merch and of what we could offer ourselves, we thought it would be just sick to collaborate with our friends Claire from TIME+BRINE and performer Betty Bandit to expand our universe in a more sensory and sensual direction. They were both fully on board, which was thrilling, and this collaboration resulted in the two unique perks you mentioned: “Potions” and “Seductive Spells” have always been integral to the witchcraft universe, and we’ve added our own unique twist based on what we, as fans ourselves, would love to receive through an album crowdfunding campaign and what our Coven might find exciting!”

Your music is often described as dark and haunting. How does this theme manifest in your upcoming debut album, and what can fans expect from tracks like “The Witching Hour,” “Nevermore,” and “Let it Burn”?

“Well, it’s going to be all about capturing that raw live energy and infusing it with a nerve-wracking abundance of details, such as vocal harmonies, haunting keys, and mesmerizing effects onto the record haha! We’re also gonna intensify the heaviness and the eerie atmosphere. It’s still early to say for sure, but that’s the goal.”

Crowdfunding can be a challenging journey. Can you share some of the highs and lows you’ve encountered throughout this campaign, and what keeps you motivated to press forward despite the obstacles?

“Insecurities, such as the fear of rejection or the fear of failing, are one of these challenges. It’s a matter of silencing those negative voices, believing in your art, and pushing through. In life, nothing happens if you don’t move forward or if you adopt a defeatist attitude.

The second challenge, which might be the biggest one, is communication. Since there’s no minimum donation requirement, the key is reaching your audience and ensuring your message cuts through the noise so they are actually aware that there’s a campaign going on, even before getting them on board. To achieve this, you must be fully committed and create engaging content that conveys your passion, allows your community to connect and feel invested in your project. While we create music for ourselves, it’s ultimately the ears and souls of our audience that give it meaning.

For our first crowdfunding campaign, we didn’t even have a single song released with SVLEM’s new lineup. Cecile had just joined as the vocalist, which is always a significant change for a band, and Shah had come on board as the rhythm guitarist and keys player. This was quite a leap of faith as we essentially asked people to follow us blindly into creating our live session. The pressure was intense, and it marked a turning point for the band.

The current campaign does have its challenges, particularly given the current financial climate and the difficulties many have faced, including us, in the past year or so. However, we are confident that we will reach our goal since everyone can contribute whatever they want or can afford.”

The debut album is predicted to drop in 2024. How will the funds raised through this campaign be utilized in the production and promotion of the album, and what do you hope to achieve with this highly anticipated release?

“In conjunction with the band’s investment in this debut album project, the funds raised will contribute to various aspects, including recording, mixing, mastering, creating music videos, and conducting some PR work to promote the result to new audiences, thereby helping our Coven to expand.

During our last crowdfunding campaign, we exceeded our goal by reaching 157%, which was simply incredible. This not only enabled us to record our Live Session but also invest in an in-ear monitor system that has significantly enhanced our live performances. Any additional funds we raise, should we surpass our goal once again this time, will give us the breathing room we need to go a little more in-depth during the recording process and produce music videos with fewer compromises, among other improvements.”

As the crowdfunding campaign is set to conclude on 15/11/23, what message would you like to share with your supporters, both old and new, who have contributed to SVLEM’s journey and made your music dreams a reality?

“We do not take their support, investment and involvement in SVLEM lightly or for granted: We’re fully aware that they don’t owe us anything, and we’re just thankful. We will continue pushing and challenging ourselves to create music that moves both their bodies and souls and to deliver live performances that take their mind away from whatever bullsh**t they could be going through in this sick world when they take the time to come and see us live.

We’d like to express our deepest gratitude to those who have contributed in the past and are supporting us through both crowdfunding campaigns or this one. You may not realize how much this means to us and the tremendous impact it has for a band of our size.

Lastly for those of you hesitating, no matter what you can contribute, join us “We have such sights to show you”!



To grab an exclusive pack or make a donation click here

An Exclusive Interview with Deadbeat Superheroes on the Edmonton EP Remix

In the ever-evolving world of music, the Canadian musical outfit, Deadbeat Superheroes, is making waves with their Edmonton EP, now remixed as “Edmonton (Redux)” by the enigmatic artist HORNETS! This exclusive interview delves into their collaboration and the journey of Deadbeat Superheroes as they mark their 13th year in the industry.

Could you tell us more about the origins of the collaboration between Deadbeat Superheroes and HORNETS! on the “Edmonton (Redux)” remix? What inspired this partnership?

DBS and HORNETS! became acquainted in the early 2010’s in the Toronto music scene. They’ve been following each other’s work for the past 10 years or so, and after HORNETS! heard the Edmonton EP, they really wanted to put a stamp on it. So, the mutual appreciation of each other’s work came into play here.

Deadbeat Superheroes is about to celebrate its 13th year in the music scene. How has the band evolved and adapted over the years, and what does this milestone mean to you?

The band has gone through a lot of iterations – from acoustic trio to full-on rock band – to being infiltrated by the blips and bleeps of HORNETS! What does that mean? When HORNETS! mixes your s**t, you’ve arrived; somewhere.

“Edmonton (Redux)” carries its own distinct identity while staying true to the original tracks. Could you share some insights into the creative process behind this remix and the key elements that set it apart?

As a pop/rock record, the Edmonton EP is about the melodic elements … Julie’s voice, Marek’s keyboards, MT’s guitars … but the voice stands out. The remixes utilizes those melodic sensibilities to build on and recreate, electronically. Just fuck them up a bit. Parts that were highlighted in analog on the original EP, have been adopted, morphed, and recreated.

Can you shed light on the role of Marek David, the veteran engineer, in the production of the original Edmonton EP? How did his work influence the project, and how does it connect to the remix by HORNETS?

His role, aside from instilling fear, was to arrange the songs in a way that had more pop sensibilities – that made them more cohesive as a four-song package – he played a large role in defining the sound, as we all sent in our performances by email – and then he created the final arrangement and production from those.

Regarding HORNETS!, they took the original stems and worked with those – essentially devoid of any influence by Marek.

The EP was mastered by Peter Letros at Wreckhouse Mastering in Toronto. How did this final touch affect the overall sound and quality of “Edmonton (Redux)” and Deadbeat Superheroes’ music in general?

From HORNETS!’s perspective – Peter added a clarity to the top end. These tracks would have been really hard to master because of the amount of low-end (sub) that’s not as common in a typical pop record. There’s so much going on – that it must have been a challenge to master; no pun intended.

One piece to consider is that our previous EP had too much high-end on it – and when Marek recommended Peter to master the original Edmonton EP, we loved how it sat in just about any output (car stereo, studio monitors, earbuds, you name it).

Peter has also mastered a massive amount of music in Canada over the years, as he is the former Chief Mastering Engineer at Sony Music Canada, so it’s a proud thing for us to be part of that pedigree.

Find Out more about the Deadbeat Superheroes here.

Find Out more about the Deadbeat Superheroes here.

Transforming Pain into Music: An Interview with No Named

No Named isn’t just your typical Anglo-rock band; they are a group that has harnessed the power of music to transform pain and suffering into joy and inner peace. This interview delves into their unique journey, from early struggles to professional success, and their commitment to authenticity in the music industry.

Can you tell us more about the origin of your band name, “No Named,” and how it represents your musical journey and identity?

The name originated for two reasons.

At first because in the beginning the professional commitment and stable permanence of the rest of the band members were not achieved, except for Nice Light, so the musicians changed constantly and a permanent identity was not achieved for them, so not having a name was something simply real, since that was what happened.

The second reason is that in his musical conception, the founder was not interested in being recognized or remembered for something tangible or visual, much less for any name in particular, but for something that belonged to the world of feelings and hopefully those deep ones that experience people. So, having a name was something insignificant in relation to the above. Furthermore, pain and suffering had taught him that simplicity and prudence were the correct path for almost everything, so having no name was the best.

Your music is deeply rooted in authenticity and emotions. Could you elaborate on your creative process and how it contributes to the unique sound and atmosphere of your songs?

The songs are based on relevant and true emotions that are felt in the soul at some point and that are translated into melodies and rhythmic sequences on the fly, in those same moments. And all of this creates an atmosphere and a feeling that also adds up. Thus, the Verse or Chorus of a song is born, associated with something real that was experienced or felt, which also gives rise to the concept and/or message of the song.

Several songs have even started in the middle of a dream, where intense things are being felt, with all the atmosphere and deep sensations of a dream, which is accompanied by a melody and rhythmic sequence. So when you wake up in the middle of the night, that melody and that rhythmic sequence remains playing, with something of that atmosphere and then, so that it doesn’t fade away… He records himself on a small recorder several times, re-feeling what he felt in the dream and thus remains his indelible record of what he felt in it. The sensation remains. And when it remains… the subsequent challenge is to ensure that that feeling and that atmosphere are captured in the musical arrangements, through the instruments and the way in which they are played, or rather, in the way in which they feel inside of the soul when touching them.

“Feelings” and “Looking From The Rainbow Game” are two of your notable albums. Could you share the inspiration behind these albums and how they reflect your personal experiences and growth as a band?

In the case of “Feelings”, the late motive was to make the memoirs of a civil engineer, as part of a person’s journey.  But they did not want to make a book or a conventional text about it, as many engineers or professionals from other sciences do; since in the other part of that person, there was an artist, the one who was born alongside the engineer and who wanted to transmit the emotions experienced through his journey through life, through feelings.

Thus, “Feelings” relates real events and experiences of the engineer and the artist at the same time, through each of its songs, with musical arrangements, atmospheres and rhythmic sequences that reflect the emotions experienced in each of those moments.

In the case of “Looking From The Rainbow Game”, the late motive was to leave a memory and/or capture relevant events and/or situations of people in their lives, making it clear that life is full of surprises, unpredictable moments and relevant changes. that even appear and disappear on their own, like the colours of the rainbow.

The experience was also fascinating since there were very special moments when making that album, especially in songs like “Any Song to Dance”, which talks about accepting with dignity and joy whatever has to come, whatever it may be…. Like “Touch the Stars With Your Hands” which talks about being grateful and blessing the sublime moments of life… and “How it Feels to Forgive” which talks about forgiveness.  And so each song on that album leaves a testimony of each relevant moment in people’s lives.

Your journey led you to India, where you received the name “Nice Light” from a spiritual guide. How did this experience influence your music and your perspective on life and art?

It was something magical and transformative. Initially, I was looking for answers to my internal pain and questions about life, since I felt that despite having done things well, in the end, things had gone wrong, which had caused me great suffering.

However, through that magical experience, I discovered that my path was not to wonder about what had happened, nor to look forward thinking about engineering, but rather it opened my horizon to find the greatest gift I received from life, which was found in music. the door to the path to plenitude.

Then I discovered that my destiny was to bring energy to those who were in bad times, to those who wanted to feel passion or deep emotions, or to re-enchant themselves with life, through music. Then I remembered JK Rowling’s experience when she started writing Harry Potter’s Sorcerer’s Stone and I began the magical path of professional rock music.

My perspective on life now is totally different. I have learned that by giving with a lot of energy and passion, with a lot of dedication, creativity and effort, in the end, you feed yourself. It is a virtuous path of peace, harmony and inner happiness.

There is nothing better than singing and playing for the audience when they sing the songs with you.

Your recording process is quite unconventional, with different elements recorded in various locations worldwide. How do these diverse recording environments contribute to the overall vibe and character of your music?

In the process, Nice Light is the Musical Director, so he works many hours designing the first drum arrangements, which are then worked on together with the drummer of No Named, who is a very talented man on the drums, and a great musician… and percussionist. Thus, the final drum arrangement of a song is reached, from which the records (recordings) are made by sound engineers who are experts in drums, who use 26 microphones to record the acoustic drums, which are isolated from the production process of the rest, so as not to contaminate it.

The process follows with the lead vocals and lead guitar, as they also define a song. In this case, Nice Light does both at the same time, which took many years and a lot of work to achieve. So that also contaminates the process and causes objectivity to be lost with the rest of the instruments, so it is also finished and left isolated so as not to contaminate the rest.

And finally, in order not to lose musical objectivity, between the worlds of drums (percussion), lead vocals and lead guitar, with the rest of the instruments and arrangements of the songs; everything comes together, that is, the mix is ​​done in another environment and with other sound engineers decontaminated from everything before.

Finally, with this, greater speed is achieved in the multiple iterations that must be done on each song to reach the final mix and mastering, greater objectivity and musical independence is achieved when mixing a song… and ultimately, Much better things are achieved, given the way of production that No Named has.

Many of your songs, such as “Stand Up!” and “Father is a Big Man,” tell personal and heartfelt stories. Can you share some of the most powerful experiences or emotions that have shaped your song writing and performances?

Of course. When I started working on “Stand Up!” I was in a very sad moment in my life and I felt great pain, the truth is that I just wanted life to end so I could stop feeling that terrible suffering. I had lost everything, I even felt like I had lost my dignity.

It was then that one day I remembered the indelible example of my father who never gave up on anything and I decided to put an end to that situation. Then I remember hearing the song “Don’t Stop” by The Rolling Stones on the radio and I said to myself, this is the way…. music and Rock since I was born with that.   And so, I felt like I would use it to get up myself, once again.

And then I started writing and working on “Stand Up!” which was magical.  It was like a Phoenix to me.

The story of “Father is a Big Man” is more poignant, as the first part of that song was made when Nice Light was a teenager and questioned some things about his father, whom he loved and respected. Then 10 years passed and his father died, and a few years later he was able to realize what his father had been to him and that was when he decided to make and write the second part of this song that starts after the second lead guitar solo.

And there begins a posthumous recognition and tribute to his father.  Over time, Nice Light discovered that the same thing happens to many people, as they manage to value their father, missing him deeply when he is no longer around.

That is why “Father is a Big Man” is the first song on No Named’s first album, since his father has been the most important and transcendent person in Nice Light’s life.

Find out more about No Named here.

Unveiling ‘Blind Woman’: An Interview with Zarah on Her Upcoming Release and Artistic Journey

In the realm of music and artistry, Zarah stands as a captivating figure, capturing hearts with her soulful melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. Her tracks, especially “What Have We Become?” and the highly anticipated “Blind Woman,” have been setting the industry abuzz. With her debut album of the same name on the horizon, we had the privilege of sitting down with Zarah to explore her creative process, inspirations, and her ever-expanding journey as an artist and writer.

Your track “What Have We Become?” received widespread acclaim. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this song and how it has influenced your upcoming album, “Blind Woman”?

Yes, it did. That was unexpected and I’m very much humbled by it. You can’t help but think that your message is resonating and that your artistic vision and hard work is starting to pay off. “What Have We Become?” was heavily influenced by U2 as they were very much present in my mind when I wrote it, combined with today’s pop. Bono, who I’ve met as we have common friends and acquaintances, have worked on a couple of projects for youth including The GRAMMY Foundation; I think he is one of the best lyricists in today’s generation. Although the original concept was supposed to be a complex relationship, I ended up writing about societal issues and humanitarian awareness. I wanted to create something more positive with raw energy while rocking it out and “What Have We Become?” became the fastest track I wrote practically writing itself, which in many ways dictated the tone and direction of the album that carries fully produced sounds with layered guitars, dramatic bassline, live-sounding drums and pronounced vocals. And more times than not, rock music is all about the attitude and having fun and that’s exactly what we did in the studio though I’m still scratching my head on how fast that song was written!

“Blind Woman” is described as “gripping, haunting, and poignant” in the press release. Could you delve into the creative process behind this single and how you managed to convey such depth and emotion in the song?

The entire ‘Blind Woman album’ has incredibly rich and full sounds. I tend to like faster tracks and nine out of ten, I will create just that. But every now and then, I like to show vulnerability as an artist because for one, it makes you real and human particularly when listeners do not expect it. I thought the album needed to breathe and so, along came the “Blind Woman” ballad when I began to shed light on what I was going through as I bared my soul in the midst of a heartbreak. The song takes you to a dream-like soulful journey where you’ll experience the deepest level of emotions like peeling an onion so to speak being revealed in due course in the boldest, purest and most honest form, which made this ballad ‘haunting’. This is where you become the story yourself in the song as supposed to singing just another track. Gripping because it holds your attention. Haunting because it stays within you. And poignant because you will feel the pain in every note since we’ve all gone through a painful heartbreak at one point or another in our lives. You say what you say, do what you do, and not worry about whether or not somebody will like it; I was completely and unequivocally unapologetic.

Collaborating with musicians like Chris Chaney of Jane’s Addiction and the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra is no small feat. How did these collaborations come about, and what unique elements did they bring to the songwriting process?

First-class musicians are always demanded in this business. Actually, I was lucky enough to work with a group of extremely talented studio professionals who worked as well as toured with top tier bands and singers even during the time when I was opening for Johnny and Robby of the Goo Goo Dolls. And session players like Chris Chaney who has worked with Jane’s Addiction and Alanis Morrisette and the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra came highly recommended as we went through the planning and pre-production stage of the album and most were simply introduced to me. When you get to the professional level, the music business very much becomes a word-of-mouth. And although I had already written, arranged, and pre-produced all my songs in the album before we even got started inside the Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles and that all other players have eventually enhanced my artistic vision including the remastering at the McCartney Studios, Chris has brought so much to this album with his freestyle bass recordings while the LA Phil orchestra specifically took the “Blind Woman” track to the next level to a point that they’ve completed my artistic vision. That’s always a good thing.

Apart from your music career, you’re also an author, with the intriguing novel “Diamonds are For Cocktails.” Could you share the concept behind the book and what led you to venture into the world of murder mystery novels?

Truth be told, I was always a fan of a good murder mystery my whole life especially with legendary authors like Sydney Sheldon and Agatha Christie It was and still is my favorite genre when it comes to books and movies. However, I dreaded writing growing up, believe it or not. It wasn’t my thing and I never wanted to get involve in a profession that required writing in my future. Yet, for the better part of my life, I became a lyricist as a songwriter that led to becoming a contributing writer for the nationally syndicated music-based teen series “B InTune TV” I was hosting in over a hundred million homes in the US, to becoming a full-blown novelist, which I must say, is a bold move. The book concept came about when I visited the French Riviera and fell in love with the place, its beauty and elegance. I was in the great company of Prince Albert II and the late Sir Roger Moore and I had an epiphany of a movie concept to write a screenplay incorporating my favorite genre, but decided to do the book first. I like writing stories that I would want to read and “Diamonds are For Cocktails” has the unique perspective of the billionaire’s lifestyle and the unfolding man haunt between the killer and the FBI from the crimes that’s been plaguing the French Riviera town with an overall human interest and moral life lessons written into the story. Besides, rock music and murder mystery go together, don’t they?

Your charity work in the media edutainment space has been commendable. How do you plan to further your efforts in advancing music and arts for youth, and what motivates you to be involved in such initiatives?

Thank you. I am very proud of my philanthropic work that I started with my late husband, which has gone on for many years now. Outside of accomplishing a multi-career in the entertainment industry, my other passion is to help advance music and arts education for youth in the media edutainment space through the power of music. Which is why there’s been talks of bringing back the “B InTune TV” as well as other media initiatives and youth programs that’s being put forth for this re-emergence only this time at the global stage in support of our partners like the United Nations. I think more so than ever, these are the type of causes that are much needed in these increasingly challenging times and yet, they’re the first ones being cut back in terms of funding despite the obvious fact that ‘music’ truly helps heal and educate not only within our youth but adults in general in more ways than one can fathom. They are the one tool that has proven time and again that heals emotional pain, inspires dreams, breaks barriers in languages, transcends time, and even stimulates the minds and gives hope to the lost, abused, disadvantaged, and displaced children around the world. Think about it, how much does it cost you to listen to your favorite song and feel good about it afterwards? I think we all know the answer to that Not only it changes your mood and mind set like the latest therapy, it also brings out positive results. Not to mention, the educational aspect that you can learn from. And as a musician, I think these are enough reasons that motivate me to give back and continue not only my late husband and I’s work but also, build a rich legacy. To me, that is totally worth the effort.

As Zarah prepares to unveil her much-anticipated single “Blind Woman” on October 27th, this interview provides a unique insight into the mind of an artist who is not only making waves in the music industry but is also contributing positively to society through her charity work

Hazel Ray’s Musical Alchemy: Unveiling ‘My Demon’ – A Journey of Empowerment

Hazel Ray, the remarkable pop-soul sensation hailing from Melbourne, Australia, has recently graced the music world with her latest masterpiece, “My Demon,” released in July 2023. Produced by the legendary Steve James, whose illustrious career spans iconic bands like The Jam, Sex Pistols, and The Screaming Jets, this track is a testament to Hazel Ray’s artistry and vision. Accompanied by a visually captivating music video crafted by the talented videographer Jarrod from Ourfolklore, “My Demon” is more than just a song; it’s an introspective voyage of self-discovery, resilience, and empowerment.

Hazel, ‘My Demon’ is a powerful and introspective song. Could you share the inspiration behind the lyrics and what message you hope your listeners take away from it?”

My Demon’ is just as much about a personal journey as it is about the journey of all. Everyone at some point in their life faces the little voice in their heads that tells them that they aren’t good enough or that they won’t amount to anything. For some people these voices become so strong that it can lead them to paths in life that can be destructive to their health emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially. This unfortunately/fortunately was also the case for myself. I say fortunately because it was through facing these inner Demons that has pushed me to live a more fulfilled and inspired life, aligned with my Truth. My Demon is a song of hope and strength, that no matter how dark things become, the light will always prevail. Fear is what cages souls from living their dreams. Face the fears, face the Demon, live your Dreams.

Your collaboration with renowned producer Steve James has garnered attention. What was it like working with him, and how did his expertise influence the creative process for this song?

Steve is an amazing human. Super kind and encouraging. He has one of those minds that must be running with about 50 tabs open at a time. When he is working on your track he gives you all of his attention and is already planning legendary session musos to add flare to different parts of your song from the moment you step into the recording studio. So professional and always willing to explore creative routes.

The music video for ‘My Demon’ is visually stunning. Can you tell us about the concept behind it and your collaboration with Jarrod from Ourfolklore to bring your vision to life?

I came up with the concept for the music video, upon reflecting on what it felt like to have a voice that controlled my every thought and every move. The chess game symbolised the inner fight between the moves that I wanted to make in my life and the way in which the Demon was able to override every decision to make my life a living hell. There is a scene in the film clip where I realise that there are no rules to the game if I don’t want there to be, so I pick up the Queen and place it back in the game. This is the first sign of transformation of control, which puts the Demon on edge. I chose to show the cleansing of the Demon by diving into the ocean, cleaning myself of all those negative thoughts and lack of control. Jarrod did an amazing job capturing the changes between the mental struggle and how the Demon manifests into our reality. He has such a flair for abstract concepts and bringing them to life. I was so grateful for his input and the overall outcome.

Your music has been described as a refuge and a source of healing for listeners. Can you elaborate on how you aim to connect with your audience on a deeper level through your music?

Music that offers healing, answers questions in people that they didn’t even realise they had. It offers empathy in a way that just words can’t. From there the audience feels closer to the artist as for the first time for whatever reason in that particular moment they feel seen and understood. My music can offer this to those who need it. Many of the songs that I write and many of the songs that are yet to be released, discuss the questions of ‘who am I’, ‘why am I here’, ‘what is my purpose’. These very questions are asked by every single human at some point in their life and I hope that my music will be there to guide the future generations as they look inwards to find those answers.

Your sound has been compared to the likes of Adele, Eva Cassidy, and Lady Gaga. How do you feel about these comparisons, and how would you describe your unique musical style and approach?

I am absolutely flattered that people find similarities between my music and sound with these artists. They are definitely inspirations of mine. My uniqueness comes in my very own story and the knowledge that I endeavour to share with the world. For me it’s not just about the music. I have created a unique show called ‘Asleep to Awake’ where I put 10 years of Science teaching, a neuroscience degree, song writing and storytelling together, to invite my audience to explore their true nature and the relationship between Science and Spirituality.

Can you share some insights into your musical upbringing and how it has shaped your career as an artist? Are there any specific influences or experiences from your childhood that have had a lasting impact on your music?

My Grandfather (Ray) was a musician, he played the drums. Sadly, he passed away when I was 10. I really struggled with his passing, which led me down a path of trying to understand death, afterlife. energy, spirit and ultimately how it is possible that I am a soul. I have also had some mental health battles in my life that have taught me so much about who I am and my true nature. These topics of mental health and the spiritual world , for me, overlap and I love exploring their intertwined nature in my songs.

Find out more about Hazel Ray by visiting her website