Exclusive Interview: Shaelyn Avalon Unveils First-Ever Collab With J.R.M.
In this exclusive interview, Shaelyn Avalon and rapper J.R.M. demonstrate they’ve put a great deal of creativity into “Everyone’s Dreamgirl.” Their first-ever collaborative single goes along the dark Pop theme and some Trap elements. Intimate lyrics straight from the heart with an upbeat sound that doesn’t fail.
1 – Was making “Everyone’s Dreamgirl” a blast compared to the previous single “XOXO”?
For “Everyone’s Dreamgirl” I got to go back into the studio with my friend and longtime producer, Jerry, so it was a great environment to experiment with sound a little more. I got a couple of tracks from my friend Jeff (J.R.M.) and he asked me which one I would want to hop onto and go a little darker with my music like I’d been wanting to do for a while. We talked about musical influences on the phone and kinda built from there.
2 – What was the motivation for “Everyone’s Dreamgirl”?
I had already written this song I wanna say… 6 months ago. It’s all true like everything was definitely a part of my growing up this year. It kinda fit into the whole Gossip Girl world that I like to imagine myself in, actually, it was written the same week I wrote “XOXO”! I wrote it more for myself to try and process everything that was happening to me at the time. Not many know this but when I was recording “XOXO” I was actually really going through it with my body and health issues. I had a 22cm ovarian cyst that needed to be surgically removed and it was taking a toll on my energy levels and on my emotions. I literally felt trapped inside my body and needed an escape. I had exes coming in and out of my life and it felt like they literally wanted the “dreamgirl” version of me, the model, the best and happiest version of myself… and I wasn’t feeling like that like AT ALL so I wrote this.
3 – Who do you dedicate these lyrics to?
I like to leave it open to interpretation honestly and not give anyone too much credit. This was all definitely a battle in my mind of how I was perceiving myself and how being a part of the modeling industry for so much of my young adult life has made my view of myself EXTREMELY harsh. I’d say the song is geared towards any girl who feels misunderstood, or like the only thing she has to offer is how she looks or being the fun friend.
4 – Is this the first time you have a guest vocalist on a track?
This is my first collab and I am SO so excited about it! I think J.R.M. brings a fresh take to the story and really elevates the song to a clubby or night drive sort of vibe, which is exactly where I hope to hear this played.
5 – How was the recording experience with urban artist J.R.M.?
I didn’t get to physically be in the studio for his verses so when I heard his I got to hear it with fresh ears. I was so excited when I got the full track to listen to and think fans are gonna love it too!
6 – Did it feel weird experimenting with Trap elements, as opposed to your Pop music background?
Surprisingly not, I was up for the challenge and have been genre-bending for a while with some new stuff that’s coming out early next year. Again, everything is different so you won’t see this next one coming either. I had a lot of fun with it!
7 – Would you have done this fresh genre-bending song 10 years ago?
I don’t remember too much of what I was doing 10 years ago, other than going to school and filming YouTube Covers. I think I would have listened to it for sure! This song is very much along the lines of what I wanted to be able to do since I was a kid. I love anything that feels empowering and badass.
8 – Have you ever taken songwriting workshops or is it all a natural talent?
I took classes at SCSOPA when I was 19 for a couple of months, songwriting was a part of my curriculum and I learned a lot about song structure from Jacqueline Van Bierk! She’s amazing and mentored me when I was first dipping my toes into the water of the entertainment industry. I’m very grateful for everything I learned from her!
9 – What was your vision for the “Everyone’s Dreamgirl” music video?
You’ll have to wait and see! All I can say is I grab a lot of inspiration from my favorite artists so it’ll have some definite Pop influences and some grungier themes!
10 – Despite the new Omicron variant, do you want to do shows in 2022?
I think if you really want something you don’t let anything stop you. You find a way, so yes, definitely.
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Säm Wilder Unveils Deluxe Edition Of ‘Homebound’ — Interview
Check it out, folks! Säm Wilder just dropped the deluxe edition of his fascinating album, ‘Homebound.’ This guy’s music is like a killer combo of heartfelt lyrics, modern Pop beats, and a touch of Soul that’s got fans going wild. And guess what? here’s an exclusive interview that’ll give you an inside look into his creative journey.
1 — What made you decide to switch from the name “Beekwilder” to Säm Wilder?
Beekwilder is my adopted last name from my stepfather. I stopped talking to my biological dad at 14, but my stepdad has been there all my life. I chose to become Sam Beekwilder at the age of 18. At the start of my journey as a musician, the people around me thought using my last name would be a cool artist name, so I went along with it. But after performing Lava Lamps on the Noah Cyrus tour, I realized that my career as Beekwilder could all become very real, and I had to do some serious thinking about whether or not I wanted to represent my family like that for the rest of my career.
I felt like I wanted to feel more of an individual, and less like I’m THE Beekwilder, when there are so many Beekwilders back home. Säm is what my friends had called me ever since I moved to America, as it’s the American way of writing out the Dutch pronunciation of Sam. Säm Wilder felt more like me and sounded more like a dude, and a lot less vague than Beekwilder.
Around the time of the name change, I also started to play piano and make very different music than I did as Beekwilder. The realization that I didn’t want to be stuck with a pseudonym I couldn’t represent, as well as experiencing a clear shift in artistic direction from within – both led me to seek a fresh start by changing my name and recording a new album that reflected the direction I wanted to go towards.
2 — How has this change influenced your music?
The change has allowed me to write about my life, and to not feel confined by a ‘sound’ but feel like my story is the most important factor in the songwriting process. As Beekwilder I experimented a lot with Hip-Hop as my main touchstone, leading to my songs having many one-liners and lots of funky attitude.
There was little room to be serious (and it felt like little room to be taken seriously). When I taught myself piano a few years later, I started writing personal songs about my family, my love life, my struggles with expectations, depression, etc. They felt like songs that I could be proudly performing 20 years down the line – something I didn’t feel with Beekwilder songs.
As Beekwilder I experimented constantly as it was my first time considering myself a songwriter. I must’ve written a song in every genre imaginable. But as Säm Wilder, I had built up enough experience in the studio where I could prioritize my story, and produce the music to support the message, leading to a very eclectic project which ended up being Homebound.
3 — What prompted the decision to release the full, 11-track ‘Homebound (Deluxe)’ album?
I wanted to make sure I closed the chapter on ‘Homebound’ before I moved on to the next project. The 3 songs that got added to ‘Homebound’ in the Deluxe Edition were songs that I’ve spent 100+ hours on and were all made in the same headspace as the other ‘Homebound’ songs.
In my mind, they had always been a part of that project, but I didn’t get to include them in time for the first release. I have a lot of unreleased music in the vault, but it felt appropriate for “Accents,” “You’re Getting Older” and “This Far” to be included in the chapter of ‘Homebound’ instead of anywhere else.
I also wanted to breathe new life into the artwork, as well as redirect attention to the original 8 songs. I put out the 2020 EP in a bit of a rush as I was dying to exist again as an artist after the name change. I believe the songs could have done better if I had a better art direction for them, which I believe I have now for the Deluxe Edition. And with two NMF placements on Spotify, it feels like it is.
And lastly, I am attending a conservatory back home in the Netherlands this year. Since the album is based on the double meaning of the word ‘Homebound,’ it felt right to re-release the project now that I’ve made it Home.
4 — How do these tracks relate to your personal journey as an artist?
All the songs reflect different parts and perspectives of my journey so far. I moved to the other side of the world at 18 on a hunch that I would find something I would be passionate about. A year later I met a studio where I fell in love with making music.
I dropped out of school and music became my number one priority in life. This came paired with many insecurities, a lot of loneliness, and confusion as to what Home really means to me. Due to visa processing and the pandemic, I was unable to go home to see my family for a few years – all the while I was building a new home in Los Angeles because I was chasing a dream that manifested itself after having a passion being awakened within, all just because I happened to meet a studio who liked my voice.
The whole thing felt like a coincidence, while it also made me doubt coincidence even exists. This lead me to feel incredibly motivated to make it happen – for my impulsive decision to dedicate my life to a newfound passion to not be in vain.
This energy is what you hear on tracks like “Overtime” and “Bring It Home.” The other side of that is songs like “What’s Wrong With Me,” “Without,” “This Far,” “Penelope” – songs where I start to doubt if I’m good enough, if I’m disappointing the people I love, if I can carry on like this, etc.
The album reflects who I am and what I’ve been through because every song touches on a different emotion I’ve felt while being in America chasing a dream while having no idea when I’ll be reunited with my family again.
5 — Among the songs on the EP, which one stands out to you the most and why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Fiending” has always been close to my heart. It’s the first song I produced that made me feel like I had a unique style of songwriting and production. It’s the song that directly inspired the name change.
The vocals were a freestyle, and the beat was a total experiment, yet the finished product is a song so unique, that it truly feels like only I could have made it. That sensation is something I missed while making music as Beekwilder.
“Fiending” is not a part of these 4 songs, but is out on all streaming platforms and is the opening track of ‘Homebound.’ The song structure is quite odd, as it’s just a journey from A to B, with no repeating hooks or verses. It’s an invitation to try something new, for myself as well as for my audience, which is why it’s the opening track.
6 — How has your time studying at Rockacademie in the Netherlands shaped your music and helped you grow as an artist?
At the time of writing this, I’m still in my freshman year, but so far it’s been amazing. The teachers are knowledgeable and supportive, and the students that make up a community of musicians and other artists have been really awesome to work with as well.
I lived in New Mexico during the pandemic, and it was pretty lonely. I realized how important making music with other people is for the creative process. I’m very fortunate to be able to go back to school and learn how to be the best singer I can be, all while I’m writing better songs with better instrumentalists I’ve ever gotten to work with.
I already feel like I’ve grown a lot and I’m stoked that I still have some years to go.
7 — In just three words, how would you describe your latest project?
Genre-fluid, therapy, honesty. The name change and this project are important to me because it feels like I am able to use my songs to tell my story in an artistic yet very honest way.
The lyrics are the message and the production is the vessel for the message. It’s helped me get over certain issues I had with the world and myself.
It is no coincidence that each song sounds like its own universe – I wanted to leave doors open when it came to which genre I belong in, and for my story to be the driving factor behind each song.
8 — Finally, what are your aspirations for the future as an artist?
My aspirations are to become a performing artist and play live shows regularly. My ultimate goal is to build a live set that I can play on major festivals around the world. The music I’ve been making recently is more soulful, so expect some R&B and neo-soul tracks from me post-Homebound.
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Starship Gazelle Shares Inspiring Story Of “Mad Maps” In Interview
Shar Rangreza aka Starship Gazelle‘s latest single “Mad Maps” takes listeners on a poignant journey, exploring the complexities of young love and the challenges of distance, as revealed in this exclusive interview. Scroll down to read the inspiring story of this track!
1 — What was the source of inspiration behind your new single “Mad Maps”?
“Mad Maps” was inspired by a short-lived trip away from home to attend a college in Seattle (I returned after a year of education at the institution there). My girlfriend around that time was moving to a college 5 hours away from mine (by car). I had a feeling that our budding romance would not survive the distance and being away from the community of our high school would take away from our relationship. We did end up keeping in touch with each other, but the song was about leaving her behind and leaving the town I grew up in. The lyrics contain the sentiment, “Love me now or let me go / ‘Cause I’m heading north.”
2 — Can you describe the creative process behind its music video?
The music video was created with the director for the project, Lucas Dudley, in mind as well as a few images that are important to me including a picture I took of the aforementioned girlfriend’s hand touching a tree. There is also the symbol of time throughout the song and in the first line of the song (if you listen to the lyrics closely or read them)— there’s time passing and exploration of the idea of getting older. The video ends with a watch on the boy lover.
There’s also the cool shot of me at the end of the video burning a dry autumn leaf with a lighter. I think this was to signify letting go of the trees you’ve planted in your life with the changing of seasons and moving past your past if that seems to be the right move. Letting go in this regard is metaphorical and cathartic.
The pouring of wine into the glass about a third into the video is symbolic of the purifying nature of wine and the freeing effect it can have on your spirit. I thought this was a cool shot and ties into some of the themes found lyrically in the song.
The director of the music video had a grand vision in mind which we discussed together and I implemented some of my ideas with his help. We had an idea to journey through a forest, so we went to Muir Woods near San Francisco and tried to capture the feeling of being lost and searching for yourself. This internal journey is the journey of “Mad Maps.”
3 — What was the most challenging part of composing this track?
While the chord progression came easily, piecing together some of the lyrics took a while as it was hard to convey something so personal to me in song—leaving home.
4 — How do you want your listeners to feel when listening to “Mad Maps”?
I want listeners to feel nostalgic and the emotion of heartbreak. While my heart wasn’t literally broken, I think there’s something like heartbreak occurring when you leave a piece of your heart behind in the town you love. Leaving home behind, your parents, the places and town you love, as well as some of the people you grew up with at your high school can be tough. I want to the listeners to experience something heavy and take a journey with the singer through a conflicted time punctuated by an exuberant, uplifting chorus.
5 — What message do you want to convey through your lyrics?
My lyrics are supposed to convey a message of a journey inwards towards finding yourself given newfound independence.
Some of the lyrics speak of an internal struggle I had during my senior year of high school with mental health: “Tell me boy who’s the hero this time? / When sane lost a war to his own damn spine.”
There’s a message of overcoming loneliness, growing older (and all the burdens and expectations that come with it), and parting with a loved one. The lyrics are all over the place, but I think it’s also important to pay attention to the soothing urban and sylvan imagery of a forest and city lights. Sometimes we find solace in the simplest of things.
6 — What has been your most memorable experience while creating this tune?
While creating this tune, I think using a fun chord progression that moved around a lot with basic chords was really great. The chord progression was actually inspired by “New Slang” by The Shins. When I recorded the song at the Tiny Telephone Recording Studio in 2017, adding the Hammond Organ and Tambourine parts to the song was really fun.
7 — How does “Mad Maps” differ from your previous releases in terms of sound?
“Mad Maps” is a more somber song while some of my other songs are light-hearted love songs, which tell a story of an experience. I think “Mad Maps” is more all-encompassing without a very specific subject matter.
8 — If you could choose a different title for this song, what would it be and why?
I think “Tell Me Boy” would be a cool different title for this song. I think that verse of the song entails questioning oneself and sharing a contemplative moment alone. I think there’s a hint of sarcasm to this line in the song, and growing up watching a lot of Bollywood, I was used to thinking of myself as a “hero.” But sometimes in life, you don’t always get what you want, so I think that’s what this alternate title would be about—struggling a bit growing up, despite expecting everything to be hunky dory.
9 — What other projects do you have in the pipeline for the future?
I’m demoing a lot of songs right now within the realm of rock and folk. I even have experimented a bit with an EDM sound. I try not to limit myself creatively and make music whenever I can. Some of the unreleased songs have more interesting syncopation than you’re used to hearing on a Starship Gazelle track since I’m growing as a drummer day by day. I also am experimenting with a higher fidelity sound out of my backyard recording studio, with some different micing techniques and me fiddling around with my guitar amp.
10 — Lastly, how did you come up with such a unique name as Starship Gazelle?
I was actually naming a joint project between me and my friend Geoff in 2014 and was brainstorming a name and came up with Star Gazers which eventually turned into the name Starship Gazelle. The project is now a solo singer-songwriter project, though I frequently have friends help me with tracking things like a violin and a bass guitar.
I think much later I realized the similarity the band name shared to a fun pop-punk band like Cobra Starship and Tame Impala—both bands I grew up listening to and still admire and respect. I think my artist’s name invokes a UFO landing on Earth with some fun aliens inside of it making music for the world. It also vaguely reminds me of shows like Star Trek or the Star Wars movies.
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Exploring The Sound Of Nicolaas’ Single “Hold Tight” — Interview
If you find yourself craving some warm nostalgia to lift your spirit and get inspired, then “Hold Tight” by Nicolaas is totally up your alley. Get ready to groove to this new jam and dive into the interview while you’re at it.
1 – What sparked your decision to collaborate with KALLITECHNIS for your latest single “Hold Tight”?
I’m a fan of her work! She’s got a powerful and unique voice and so much style. I didn’t go into writing the demo with her in mind, but once it began to take shape I reached out to her to see if she’d be down to collaborate. I’m so grateful she was, I think there’s a lot of natural chemistry on this track.
2 – How would you describe the overall sound and vibe of this track?
It’s a sexy one. I’m always trying to tastefully walk the line between retro/throwback sounds and contemporary writing and production. I think it all clicked.
3 – What story or narrative do you want to convey through the lyrics?
You’d have to ask Kallitechnis about that, she wrote the lyrics, but my interpretation is she’s telling a story about meeting someone who might be a little guarded or lacking confidence, and she’s stepping up to take control. I take it to be about going after what you want.
4 – How did you infuse nostalgic elements into your music?
I do this by making writing and production decisions that give a nod to the 80s and 90s. It’s in the choices of synths, drum machine sounds, chords, and in the mix as well.
5 – As a producer, what is your favorite synthesizer or gear that holds a special place in your heart?
These days I’m working almost exclusively with software, but still break out my Juno-60 from time to time! I learned how to make music originally on the Akai MPC 2000 so that one holds a special place too.
6 – Would you like to highlight any production techniques or choices that were employed in “Hold Tight”?
Nothing I’d want to single out, but generally speaking I’m always trying to take the “less is more” approach to my production. It’s not always easy because I love experimenting with sounds and ideas, but ultimately this track is a main poly synth for the chords, a heavy bass synth, and some ear candy for extra flavour. More than enough! We also tried to incorporate Kalli’s vocals as more of an instrument in the mix than a traditional lead vocal that’s way out front. This was also a nod to some of our favourite RnB/Post-Disco stuff from the early 80s.
7 – Will there be a music video accompanying the release of this single?
No plans for traditional music at this point, but I’ve produced some short promo clips that can be seen on my socials and my YouTube channel.
8 – How do you perceive the impact of receiving three Juno Award nominations and being long-listed for the Polaris Prize on your musical career?
It’s always nice to receive recognition from others when you’re pouring your heart and soul into something, but beyond that, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of impact. There’s so much politics in the music business, most of these institutions operate in a self-serving way and have more to do with relationships, perceptions, and money than actual music. It’s business, so I totally understand why that’s the case, but I choose to spend my energy on getting better at what I’m doing, and ultimately making myself happy with my music. If others like what they hear, I’m so pleased to hear it. There’s so much out there. To have someone choose to spend their time listening to your music is pretty fucking cool.
9 – Are you currently immersed in any new projects or exploring fresh collaborations?
I’ve got a ton of new music in the works and hope to direct a lot of it into a debut album. I’m just letting it happen naturally, so I’m not sure when that’ll come together. In the meantime, I’m working on a number of remixes and other projects that will be dropping regularly.
10 – Finally, what do you think makes this project called Nicolaas unique?
For me, this project is rooted in nostalgia. I look to nostalgia for inspiration because it reminds me of a time when I was discovering so much – music, film, art, fashion, and ultimately developing my own taste for things. I look back to this era because for me it was a time when everything was new and anything was possible. These days, with all the negativity and tragedy going on in the world, I lean on nostalgia to keep my optimism and creativity burning. That’s why I tie visuals so tightly to my music, it’s really about looking back so I can move forward. My goal with this project is to bring people along with me, so they can feel that same positive, inspired, optimistic feeling.