Brooklyn native Cezur III is making waves with his new single F.A.B.C.
We’re kicking off the first NMR of 2021 with fresh, new tunes from Hologramme, Boku, Jerro, Andrew Pololos, and more.
The Don’t Block Your Blessings Festival, produced by Erez Safar, is a one of a kind virtual music festival that will be held on Valentine’s Day 2021. The festival will feature musicians, artist, and healing. Attendees will be able to enter different virtual rooms attending talks, musical performances, or watch live art creation. The Knockturnal spoke with Erez Safar about the festival and what attendees can expect to see.
The Knockturnal: What inspired you to create this festival?
Erez Safar: I lost my mom two months ago to cancer and I wanted to turn that pain and darkness into light and bring the inspiration she brought to me into the world. So I put together this project called Don’t Block Your Blessings. At first it started as a movement to share videos and stories of personal transformation, both from myself and countless others. Whether it was an aha moment someone had or an arduous journey in their lives that shifted their perspective to positivity, I wanted to share it with the world. The goal of the project is to collect and present an online living library of light and love to a world in need of healing.
Doing a live-stream festival came about because a few months back when I was stuck and unable to perform live shows, like so many other artists, and my album was coming out, I wanted to still do a big release party. I put together a page on my site and create interactive rooms and filled them with musicians and live painters from around the globe to do their thing in celebration of the album I called it Lo-Freq Fest and it was featured in Billboard and came out incredible!
After my mom passed and I started the “Don’t Block Your Blessings” (DBYB) project, I wanted to engage as many people as possible who needed to hear others’ stories. The DBYB Festival idea came from that impulse, and I decided that using this online venue I would add a virtual room dedicated to live-streaming some of the most innovative minds in self-growth and healing. The first DBYB festival which I put together with only a few weeks’ lead time brought in 25,774 viewers and with the upcoming one I am adding a lot of talented presenters with even more impressive followings. I am hoping it reaches over 100k viewers and participants. The first festival featured my favorite DJ (DJ Qbert), some incredible musicians, MOONZz, Psychic Twin, Mikey Pauker, Sounten, Ada Pasternak, and the healing room was packed with programming including a session by Heather Prete (from The Den Meditation and UCLA) and David Sacks (writer of The Simpsons).
The Knockturnal: Is there any special virtual tech you’re using for this event?
Erez: Yes, I use various live-streaming platforms and incorporate the feeds into the portals we built on the DBYB website. I think it’s a first of its kind live-stream festival to feature musicians, artists, and healers in this way, sort of a Coachella meets wellness retreat. To give you an idea, we built out three interactive rooms on our platform and festival goers to jump from room to room attending talks and sessions, accessing musical performances, and viewing live art as its created.
The Knockturnal: How did you choose the artists?
Erez: I am a fan of a lot of artists and healers, so I of course reached out to the people I love first, from there people just kept connecting me to more and more presenters and it just kept growing. I also host a Don’t Block Your Blessings room on Clubhouse every weekday from 1-2pm and that has been getting a lot of traction and has also been very healing for a lot of people. The room is called “#CheatCodes to Happiness // Don’t Block Your Blessings”.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about yourself and your career?
Erez: I’m based in Los Angeles, music has always been my biggest passion, I have a label and production company called Bancs Media, a music promo company called Slay Sonics and world music festival called the Sephardic Music Festival which has been profiled in The NY Times, Wall Street Journal and on NPR. I am also very much in the healing space, I developed a Telemedicine app called Elemental Treatment and a sister platform called Guru and You.
I produce music under the names h2the and Diwon and have two bands, Bonhom (mostly music for TV shows and film) and Dreams in Static.
The Knockturnal: What else have you been up to during the pandemic?
Erez: A lot of this, managing my employees at my marketing firm, The Coup, and studying a lot of Kabbalah.
The Knockturnal: Who are some musicians that inspire you?
Erez: Coltrane is my favorite, I could hear one note from his sax and I know it’s him… of course, I can’t leave out Miles Davis in that regard, he re-created music genre many times over, a brilliant sonic revolutionary. I also love the Beastie Boys for similar reasons, they tossed out the idea of a genre and blended so many of their favorite influences to make some incredibly inventive songs and the fun they had while doing it comes out in all their music, so it’s a bit infectious in that regard. I’ve been super into Run the Jewels recently, El-p is an incredible producer and a witty rapper and Killer Mike is one of the best to do it, I love that they bring this sort of Rage Against The Machine intensity to hip-hop. I’ve mostly been listening to chill music because I’m in the one year mourning period from losing my mom, so a lot of Jose Gonzalez, Eviatar Banai, Novo Amor, Zusha and other ethereal type of artists.
The Knockturnal: Who would you like to collab with one day? (can be anyone)
Erez: Artists that have created their own sounds and universes that I feel like I super vibe with sonically, Bon Iver, TV on the Radio, Banks, Diplo and Vampire Weekend.
The Knockturnal: How can people attend the festival?
Erez: The festival and all its rooms stream live on the website, www.dontblockyourblessings.org
The Knockturnal: Final thoughts?
Erez: Just that I’d love people to join the movement, whether its presenting at the festival, joining our Clubhouse room sessions or sharing their stories (which they can see examples at https://dontblockyourblessings.org/your-stories).
The next Don’t Block Your Blessings Festival will be free to participate in and free to attend virtually, and is set to take place on Valentine’s (Sunday February 14th), between 6-9pm PST.
Mikey Pauker (pronounced pow-ker) is a Conscious Rock artist from Fairfax, California. Pauker has been described as one of “The 10 Stars Of The New Jewish Music” via TIME Magazine. He has released multiple albums including Sim Shalom, Mikey Pauker & The JoyMachine, Extraordinary Love, The Sages EP & ASCENSION. This year Pauker released his new single “We Are Safe” produced by Jim Kaufman (AWOLNATION, Finish Ticket, Anti Flag) on Ineffable Records home to artists including: Stick Figure, Through the Roots, Tropidelic, Mike Love among others. He performed the song and was a guest on The Aubrey Marcus podcast, a motivational destination for conversations with the brightest minds in athletics, business, science, relationships and spirituality with over 35 million downloads on iTunes. His “RISE Vulnerable Rally” music video swept the world touching the hearts of over 1 million souls.
The Knockturnal spoke with the musician about his start in music, what it means to create conscious music and his inspiration behind his work.
The Knockturnal: How did you get your start in music?
Mikey Pauker: I’ve been involved in music since a very young age. My father who was an avid supporter of Americana and folk music used to drive me around in his car and we would listen to Paul Simon’s Graceland. I remember my father pull onto the side of the road and saying to me “Mikey this is what we call the drums” and he would place his hand on mine and tap out the rhythm. As a kid, I used to dance in front of the mirror pretending that I was Michael Jackson. I remember asking my mother for my first guitar when I was in sixth grade. I began taking lessons with a music teacher and when I was in high school I remember receiving my first acoustic guitar. That changed everything. I started writing music and during my senior year, my band won the battle of the bands. Pretty soon later I started playing at a local coffee shop. I knew from a young age that music was going to be my life.
The dreams that I was having back then were premonitions of the life I’m living now.
The Knockturnal: Who are important mentors in your life?
Mikey Pauker: I’m grateful to my mentors who have guided me on my journey. About 10 years ago I headed out to Jerusalem to study at Yeshivah Simchat Shlomo where I met the dean of the school: Reb Sholom Brodt. For the first time in my life, I had a spiritual teacher and mentor who taught me in-depth about spiritual practice and study. I would meet him in the morning at the Mikvah (ritual bath)) and he would immerse me in the sacred waters. We would walk upstairs to the Shul and he would stand right next to me snd teach me how to pray. It was an intimate experience. Unfortunately, Reb Sholom passed away a couple of years ago. I never had the opportunity to say goodbye but I still feel him here with me.
I then met Rabbi Zelig Golden almost a decade ago at my cousin’s wedding. I felt like we had a soul connection. He mentioned to me that he was the founder and CEO of Wilderness Torah: the center for earth-based Judaism. For the past seven years, I have been participating in his organization through many facets and pilgrimage festivals. Zelig has been an extremely influential soul in my life who has supported me through spiritual rites of passage helping me connect to a deeper relationship with earth and spirit. Rabbi Zelig has taught me to walk humbly and to learn how to share my gifts. I’ve been learning how to dismantle the patriarchy that lives within me and the world around me. It’s been really powerful to work with him.
The Knockturnal: Your bio says you’re a conscious musician. What does that mean?
Mikey: Conscious music is a new wave of music crossing many genres uplifting positive and healing messages through music. You can see this wave happening throughout festival culture and on many streaming music platforms.
A lot of these artists are social and holistic activists that use their medium of music to connect listeners to spiritual and mind-altering concepts.
My music weaves the technology of mantra and affirmations implemented in the narratives of my songs to connect listeners with Spirit and their heart. Other artists in this genre include Rising Appalachia, Mike Love, Ayla Nereo. Many of these artists also tour throughout the year playing transformative music festivals like Envision, Beloved, Soulplay, Lighting In A Bottle.
The Knockturnal: How does faith play a role in your music?
Mikey: Faith is everything. Many of my songs are based on Kabbalistic text and my spiritual journey. I feel very blessed and privileged to have found sanctuary through my connection with God. It’s something I don’t take for granted. It’s a relationship based on sacred reciprocity.
My main practices to clear out my vessel so I can be in a sovereign place to receive these songs are meditation, chant, and dance. The spiritual technologies give us human beings the tools to clear our energetic bodies so we can step into this world as grounded and open vessels to receive messages from Creator, Spirit Guides, and our Ancestors.
The Knockturnal: Who are your favorite musicians?
Mikey: That’s a complicated question. I have so many favorites. I grew up listening to a lot of folk and reggae music: Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Marley. In my youth, I listened to a lot of Christian rock music actually from going to underground shows at the churches in my hometown. These days I’ve been soaking up: NEEDTOBREATHE, Bon Iver, Chronixx, Coldplay, Dermot Kennedy, Jai Uttal.
The Knockturnal: Who would you like to collab with one day?
Mikey: Idan Raichel, Chronixx, Mike Love, Chris Martin, Ryan Tedder, Mike Dean, RY X, and of course Rick Rubin.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about your new song. What inspired it?
Mikey: “We Are Safe” Is a positive affirmation and mantra to lift us out of this dark chapter of human history. I know it’s been a very challenging year for most of the world and it surely has for me. This song is not asking us to ignore the real-life challenges that many of us are facing right now. Instead, it is a hopeful mantra that can create inspiration and upliftment so we can live our days connected more to our hearts. I released it on one of the most popular reggae and rock labels: Ineffable Records.
The Knockturnal: What has the pandemic been like for you?
Mikey: The pandemic has been a huge reset for me. As a touring musician, this is the first year in over a decade and I’ve been able to live a more domesticated life. Just like everyone I’ve had grievances that have ultimately become blessings. Although my tours were canceled this year I went to work. I focused on songwriting this year. I honestly can’t believe the powerful transmissions that have come through this year of that front. I couldn’t be more excited to release new music in 2021. At the same time, I want to get back to us so many musicians and spiritual teachers that have inspired me throughout the years. So I launched the “Weaving Earth Festival” which brought together viewers globally. From all three we had over 100,000 views. Not bad. Some of the presenters were: Jai Uttal, Porangui, MaMuse, Mose, George & Georgia Bertelstein, Samantha Sweetwater, Shiva Baum, and more! I also lost a Jewish music festival in partnership with The Reconstructionist Movement and Or Shalom called “Koleynu” bringing together some of the most well known Jewish musicians and wisdom carriers. Also, I released “We Are Safe” on Ineffable records. Also A couple of remixes for my song rise with both DJ Taz Rashid and Mose.
A few months ago I got into a head-on accident that forced me to slow down. I survived with a broken right wrist and an injured left hip. The past few months have been filled with intensive physical therapy to get me back on my feet. I finally can play guitar again and It feels like I fell back in love with the simplicity of just being able to play. Feels good.
The Knockturnal: What’s coming up next for you?
Mikey: I just finished mastering four brand new songs produced by Jim Kaufman (Awolnation, Finish Ticket, Antiflag) and we are right now shopping for them to labels. I’m excited to be releasing the full album in 2021 along with the series of music videos. Be on the lookout. Also, once things open up I’m going to begin touring. We shall see how that pans out. Everything is unpredictable due to the pandemic but I have a good feeling things will begin opening up in 2021.. we shall see. I hope to see you out there. Big love!
Stay connected at www.mikeypauker.com .
Exclusive: Steve Aoki Wants To “Bring Back Fun” With Bud Light Seltzer Sessions Presents New Year’s Eve 2021
“I wanted to be jumping on a stage when I was jumping in the crowd.” – Steve Aoki
Latin Grammy “Best New Artist Nominee” Nicki Nicole has been killing the exploding urban music scene in Argentina. The 20-year-old Spotify Award winner has been quickly picking up international stardom and has even been selected for Billboard’s ‘21 Under 21’ and Entertainment Tonight’s ‘LatinX Artists on the Rise’. The Argentine native’s music has garnered more than 300 Million streams internationally and has even surpassed 6.6 Million Instagram followers (@nicki.nicole). Best known for her hit “Wapo Traketero,” the singer/songwriter/rapper most recently released a reggae-inspired bop called “Verte” (“Seeing You) with none other than Argentinian reggae artist Dread Mar I and her frequent collaborator Bizzarap.
The Knockturnal: Thank you for being here with us and taking the time to talk to us. I know you have a new single coming out but for those that might not be familiar with you, tell us about your start in music.
Nicki Nicole: Thank you guys for interviewing me! My career hasn’t been that lengthy but I’d say it pretty much started about a year ago when I launched my first single “Wapo Traketero”. I feel like something happened there that changed my life. Everyone started to listen to the song and I began to grow very quickly and without very much progression. It felt like it happened overnight. After that I met Bizarrap and I met other artists and I kept making music. Once Bizarrap and I did a session it just went to a whole other level. From there, people started to get crazy and I didn’t really understand what was happening.
The Knockturnal: At what age did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
Nicki Nicole: In reality, I’ve always been on this path without really even realizing it. I’ve always been more artsy than musically inclined at first. I went to an art school and I liked art but when I decided 100% to do music I’d say around when I was 17 was when I started making music with friends. I never thought I’d be able to live off it but I knew then that it was something I wanted to do.
The Knockturnal: And the rest is history right? Tell me us a little bit about the music scene in Argentina.
Nicki Nicole: There’s a lot of ages and genres. I’d say now the trap wave is what’s really booming. This genre wasn’t really popular here, but there’s also a bunch of different genres anyway. Argentina has been known for rock and other types of music but now the younger generation is having a higher power. It’s crazy because I feel like back then bands had more time to prepare for things than artists do now. Bands had more of a gradual success whereas now it’s like suddenly everyone wants to go to your show. I think that’s what happening in Argentina right now for artists who get discovered. It happens very quickly. Also, the unity here is very impressive. Fellow Argentinian artists have been supportive and very understanding.
The Knockturnal: I feel like trap music in the Spanish language has been so popularized because of places like Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Miami. How does it feel to represent Argentina and be honored and nominated with accolades? You were nominated for the Latin Grammys, you won a Spotify Award, among other things… Argentina has always been on the map but how does it feel to now have this worldwide recognition?
Nicki Nicole: In reality, I feel like it’s a weight I don’t want to assume or realize. I feel like if you realize or assume that you have worldwide recognition it might give you a sense of pressure that you have all these eyes balls watching you, following you, and wanting to know about you. So I try not to think too much about it. I am aware though that I might be an example to a lot of people so I try to be cautious with what I say and how I express myself because at the end of the day my opinions aren’t necessarily correct. It’s just what I think. I’m just a regular person who has opinions like anyone else but people always tend to think that when a public figure has an opinion about something it’s taken more seriously or you’re judged for it. So whenever I say things I don’t want it to be taken that way because I’m only 20 and I know I probably will make mistakes and will learn from them. A year ago I never thought I’d be in the position I am in now and you never know when it’s going to be over you know? You never know how long this will last so I also do want to enjoy these moments.
The Knockturnal: I love how humble and honest you are about this all because a lot of people recognize and might talk about their influence but might not be open to share and talk about the pressure that can come with it. So I love that you speak about it that way because it’s the reality. Especially at such a young age, it’s a lot to deal with. Talk to us a little bit about your single, “Verte” and your new music video.
Nicki Nicole: Verte is a song we did with Bizarrap and Dread Mar I in Miami. I really wanted to collab with someone like Dread Mar I. He is like an argentine Reggae legend and has such a way about him. He is someone that I’d knew about since I was little and my mom listened to when I was younger. So it was very surreal to be able to make something with someone you used to feel was so out of reach. Especially a song that is so cool and reminds me of my childhood is incredible and brings me a lot of joy. I was scared that the song wouldn’t come out good or that he wouldn’t like the ideas and he would like to just make music with someone else, but everything went well and he was such an amazing person. Besides, Bizarrap had the perfect beat, the music video was awesome, and I think it’s one of the best collaborations I’ve done so far.
The Knockturnal: The cool thing about this is that sometimes these things do feel out of reach like you said but now that you’re in this position you realize that all your dreams and goals are not as far they used to seem. What other artists are on your radar? Maybe, someone else you are a fan of and someone you want to collab with in the future?
Nicki Nicole: I feel like I dream big for example Harry Styles is someone. Drake… yes those icons are I’d love to but at the same time, I do want to feel them a little bit out of reach because if I start to think that I can reach it easy then maybe I won’t be too excited when that day comes. I feel like I’d rather keep it at that feeling cause then when it does happen I will be more excited. It’s all in the mindset you know? If not it gets boring.
The Knockturnal: You’re absolutely right it’s about perspective sometimes and sometimes it’s more exciting when things are left to that surprise as opposed to getting used to it. What about anyone in the Hispanic world?
Nicki Nicole: Rosalia would be great. I haven’t gotten the chance to meet her yet, but that would be awesome. I also really like Nathy Peluso who is an incredible artist. There are a few people that I’ve actually been able to do a featuring with but I just don’t think I’m able to say it yet.
The Knockturnal: If it’s a secret then yeah we get it.
Nicki Nicole: A lot of the people I’d want to collaborate with in the future are in the Hispanic world and I’ve been lucky enough to have met already. The ones I haven’t been able to collab with yet I’ve at least talk to about some things so hopefully sometime in the near future.
The Knockturnal: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. Take care! Happy Holidays!
Nicki Nicole: Likewise, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Mikey Polo gives us a taste of Emo Trap in his new video for “Baguette Spaghetti,” featuring Trippie Redd.
Mikey Polo is ushering in a new era of Emo Trap, carrying the torch for legends like Trippie Redd and the late JuiceWrld. The DMV born and raised Mikey Polo began singing in talent shows in high school before he later started rapping. It wasn’t until he was incarcerated that Mikey began rapping. At the age of 18 Mikey knew he didn’t belong inside and began honing in on his craft. After getting out Mikey relocated to Atlanta where he further elevated his sound, spent some time touring with Trippie Redd, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Today Mikey joins us to discuss his latest single and music video featuring Trippie Redd “Baguette Spaghetti.” Find out more below.
The Knockturnal: Who, besides yourself, would you consider leaders of the emo trap movement?
Mikey Polo: Besides myself, of course my bro Trippie Redd, Juice Wrld (Rest In Peace) and Lil Uzi Vert.
The Knockturnal: How did you discover the emo trap genre?
Mikey Polo: Being emo is in my DNA, I just experimented with different sounds, and also from hearing my favorite artists.
The Knockturnal: Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and the first time you experimented with music?
Mikey Polo: My upbringing was pretty urban/hood, same shit everybody else go through. Fights, drugs and run-ins with the law. For me, my escape was music, I needed something I was good at to keep me away from the streets. When I realized I could really do this music thing, I just kept experimenting with different sounds and I still continue to now.
The Knockturnal: How long have you been making music?
Mikey Polo: I’ve been rapping and into making music since High School, but I’ve been doing it at this level of consistency, and making it my career, maybe like 3 years.
The Knockturnal:Who are some of your influences?
Mikey Polo: Some of my music influences are Young Thug, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne and Gucci Mane.
The Knockturnal:What have been the 3 biggest highlights of your career so far?
Mikey Polo: In this short journey so far, my 3 biggest highlights would be going on tour with Trippie Redd twice!! Doing the XXL Mag Freestyle was definitely a goal of mine, and having meetings with executives that call shots at record labels were top 3 honestly, and now being on The Knockturnal makes it my top 4.
The Knockturnal:Can you discuss how Trippie’s feature on “Baguette Spaghetti” came about?
Mikey Polo: The feature came about from Trippie and I just being in the studio, Trippie was recording and told me to hop on the song. For real tho, that’s my brother, like even outside of music we’ve been locked in, and he just threw me an alley-oop, that’s love.
The Knockturnal:What was it like working with Trippie in the studio and on set for the music video?
Mikey Polo: It was dope! We both record super fast and with great versatility. The video was crazy, crazy, we had the whole set lit!
The Knocktunal: What are you currently working on?
Mikey Polo: I’m currently working on my album, Emo World which will be coming out during this early half of 2021, and since I haven’t dropped an LP since 2018, this will feel more like my official debut album.
The Knockturnal:If there’s anything you’d like to add or announce please go ahead.
Mikey Polo: For 2021 I will be on an even higher level than before, and after I drop “Emo World” – which will feature Trippie Redd twice (yes I have another banger with Trippie locked in) Famous Dex and D Savage, plus Kandiman and Eestbound on the mixes and production, Mikey Polo will be a global name!
Exclusive: A Vis-à-Vis with NISHA and a Deep Dive into their artistry, backstory, and a peek into their intoxicating new EP “Paris”
When NISHA logged on to google hangouts, their cozy beanie and broad smile would make anyone feel comfortable. Even though chatting with NISHA felt just like facetiming a good friend, we could still feel the same spirit radiating from them as we can feel in all their glam photoshoots, dance sequences, and dazzling vocal tracks.
We sat down with NISHA on Thursday to discuss their new EP “Paris”, which was a global collaboration project with artists from all over the world. Consisting of three songs woven together in a loop format, the EP takes us on a reflective, empowering journey of love, loss and liberation, reminding us of our most intense love affairs and warning us of the dangers of falling back into a cycle of attraction and addiction. With their music, NISHA hopes to be a force of love, and to “express thoughts and ideas that might not be possible in real life, or might be really confrontational or have consequences in real life” on behalf of their listeners (see below interview). Because of this, “Paris” is conceptualized as a love letter to their audience as well as themselves – it is also a declaration of independence from the binary world.
From their unconventional “third-culture” upbringing in Lagos, Nigeria to South Asian parents, to comparing the songwriting process to meditation, Nisha offered us a refreshing take on what it means to be an artist. Overall, their goal is to empower people to embrace their worthiness, and fight for their happiness. This message is echoed by self-reflexivity – NISHA’s music perfectly exemplifies what they want for their audience. By celebrating their past cultural influences, present inspirations, and future journeys, and part of what makes NISHA’s music so beautiful is how they embrace their worthiness, and strive toward happiness. Their music is a synthesis of their worldly experiences and their outpouring of love for what connects us, inspired by Bollywood classics, Indian Bhajans, West African lullabies, American pop, or the R&B and Hip-Hop. NISHA’s impressive background includes Opera conservatory training, songwriting for Universal Music Publishing, recording a series of singles, performing with dancers in digital music festivals, to now releasing an EP and musical short film.
Tell me about who you are to yourself, first as a human being and then as an artist.
As a human being I think I’m just like everyone else. I just want love, and connection, to do fulfilling work, and be part of the community I’m in in a meaningful way. And to have some fun! So I definitely relate to myself as a very normal person.
And then as an artist, I think where the distinction comes is that I feel compelled to make choices that embody a sense of freedom. Because I think art is a place where you can take certain risks and even express thoughts and ideas that might not be possible in real life, or might be really confrontational or have consequences in real life. Art is this beautiful testing ground that ends up translating into reality. And I do feel like because you have the unique opportunity to have other people listen to you and trust in what you say, it’s important to embody what you want to leave behind. As an artist, the difference is in being more open about that process. You have to go through the judgement that people have, and that’s challenging. But as a self, as a person, I try to relate to myself as the feeling of love in a space of love. But other than that, just normal – breakfast, lunch, and dinner kind of person.
What music did you grow up around, both in your household and through peers?
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and my parents are Indian. I grew up around a lot of spiritual music that way, and the Afrobeat stuff from living in Nigeria was what you’d hear going out.
When you’re a third culture kid or you’re an immigrant, you have one foot in each world and feel all of them authentically. It’s a part of who you are, so I think it’s about having the freedom to speak and embody them.
My dad was obsessed with the Beatles, and when we moved to the States my brother got really into hip hop and it was Tupac, for hours. I had those influences from them, and my sister was really into indie rock, and I loved and listened to Mariah Carey constantly. There were a lot of super varied influences sonically, and they’ve influenced my writing in that at the core, I look at myself as an emotional storyteller. And that is where my heart is, in storytelling that has all those flavors and colors. Continuing to integrate and draw from all those influences has been complicated. I love each genre so much, that sometimes I end up writing an entirely country-sounding song, or one that’s purely hip-hop. It’s hard to choose one when you’re obsessed with music like that. So I do identify as a songwriter and I let go of trying to write any one genre, and just tell a story.
What are some more recent things you’ve learned/discovered that contribute to your music?
The two things I’ve learned recently are more mood things. It’s stillness – I spend a lot of time in the studio writing, and over this period of time, we’re all had a lot more time to ourselves than we were expecting. The next album that’s coming out, a few of the songs I just started from a metronome. Starting from a blank slate, just writing from emptiness and discovering what was there, has been a huge influence. As for artists, I’m a huge Frank Ocean fan. I think he’s someone who integrates all of those things incredibly. I always kind of go back to Nina Simone – she’s just kind of a staple in my life.
It sounds like you’ve always been very musically minded. What made you first start pursuing songwriting and recording.
It was definitely a series of things! I used to write songs when I was a kid, my first song was called Mr. Blue and I was eight. It was always kind of in me, and I just loved it. When I was 15 or 16 is when I started performing. If I had to choose a defining moment it would be when I was 15 and started at a new school. I sang in choir and there were auditions for The Lion King, and I grabbed two of my friends because I was too scared to go out by myself. The woman running the production caught wind that I could sing, and asked me to audition by myself, but I was too scared and called my mom to pick me up. In that moment, I realized if I followed the fear I might miss my chance. So I went back up and auditioned, and that was my first time singing out loud in front of a lot of people – I went from never performing to performing in front of 50,000 people when we won the state competition. After that, I couldn’t turn back because I knew it was in me.
I went to a music conservatory and studied opera, but I didn’t have the confidence. There was this cafe I went to open mic nights at in New York, and I wanted to play a show there, but the owner said they only took original songwriters. So I was like, ‘yeah, I do that, of course!’ and I booked a show in March, and wrote 7 songs to perform by May. It was like my survival instinct kicked in. That’s how I started songwriting, and I was hooked. I loved that you could really tell your truth, and people would understand it because of the way music carries emotion and cuts through everything – that was a power to me.
What’s your creative process like?
Well, I always keep my voice memo around for practical reasons, and record ideas or anything else that I want to keep in my head. But I do believe there’s a process for every person to access their own creativity. There’s like an immersion process, similar to how it takes 20 minutes to fall asleep. You need 20 minutes to move through all the BS that’s in your head to get to the space where you can work without obstruction. I think music is a translation of your emotional state and your spiritual state, so you have to get past the surface thoughts. It’s like journaling, or meditation, or anything like that. Stillness helps, setting aside two or three hours helps, turning my phone off helps, and so do lots of candles. Then during that time, no one can reach me and I have the chance to listen until I hear something that really strikes.
You said making Paris was different from your previous singles. How would you describe that difference?
One of the most special things was that I met this group of five producers in LA, and they are from France and go by Le Side. Most of them are of African descent and they have recently kind of done a pop takeover of French music. I met them for a session, and on the very first day we made “Sunbutter” (one of the tracks on Paris). It was so effortless: someone jumped on the piano, someone jumped on the computer, someone jumped on the bass, and the synergy was just there. So I called my publisher and was like, I’m going to go to Paris. I just felt a really strong attraction to these guys and felt like I needed to be there. I showed up, and it was like living in the studio to make this record. All my previous work was a more formal setting, but this EP was like living in the world of the new music we were creating. It was so special to not just create music, but to be with a music family of mine.
Did you have any previous French music influences or was this your first experience with it?
Well, that leads to why this record is called “Paris”. If you’re been there, it’s a real place people have opinions and thoughts about, but if you haven’t been there it’s an idea. It’s an idea or romance, and the origin of the word romance is in the word adventure. And with the notions of romance, love, freedom, adventure, luxury, class, and taste, Paris becomes this beautiful idea and I wanted to draw from that. So many artists I admire had a relationship with Paris because that’s where they felt heard and understood. Nina Simone spent a good portion of her life there, and I love that she didn’t care what anyone thought. She would cover Bob Dylan and then go cover Opera, and people would say she sounded like a guy, and she wouldn’t care. I always say Nina Simone set me free.
At 19, I dropped out of school for 6 months and went to Paris, where I did my first solo show, sang jazz. I think I was feeling like I was getting into a rut in LA, and then I met these guys and it was the same kind of karmic interlude in my life, so that’s what Paris represents to me.
Why did you go with the loop format for your EP?
When I put everything together, it was 11 minutes and 11 seconds. I felt like that was auspicious, and it’s kind of like a cycle of relationship. When love is present, that’s what we really fight for and sacrifice for in life. The EP is edited together in a loop because of this idea that the memory can pull you in – it starts with reminiscing about what happened and you go through the journey of the relationship. Then you end up back where you started with a choice: Do I do this again? Or do I walk away? Even though you go through a period where you’ve walked away, a period you’ve completed. It’s just about the power of connection and how those things, they don’t go away. Like when you’ve loved someone, even if you hate them, there’s still a connection there. And it’s a little bit of a warning tale about, you know, if you spend too much time thinking about something, whether you say it’s over or not, it’s still happening.
We’re really excited about the musical short film you’re releasing with Paris. Can you talk a bit on that?
Visually, we did the story based on the two metaphors of thunder and lightning, which is something I really identify with artistically. Lightning is a bridge between the heavens and the earths, and it diffuses negative and positive energy and releases it into the air. I see that as my role as an artist – to bring things together that normally wouldn’t be, and to build a bridge in that way. The other metaphor we use is the Monarch butterfly. If you look into the migration patterns of the Monarch, and where they end up existing, it’s kind of like the diaspora. So reflecting on that journey or being in all these different places and love being the through-lines of connection, it’s not where you live or what you do, it’s the love that defines you.
What are your future plans, and what message would you like your audience to get from your music?
I’m working on a full length album, which is a hip hop RNB album. It’s been written and we’re in the editing process. There’s some dance music on there, and I’m really excited to share it. The message for the album is to choose yourself and love yourself, which leads me to my overall message. If my audience can walk away from my music with one thing, it’s to choose yourself no matter what’s happening. Just to have that feeling of, “I choose myself.”
“Paris” is available on all streaming platforms as of December 17th, 2020. A musical short film will follow shortly.
For so many, going to concerts is an escape, an incredible experience that was taken away like so many things this year. With the pandemic going on, it’s hard to say when concerts will be back again and for so many avid concert goers and performers alike, this is heartbreaking. This year, multi-platinum pop phenomenon Melanie Martinez was set to launch the biggest world tour of her career, exciting fans worldwide at the chance to see her perform. In light of circumstances, on Thursday Martinez launched a one of a kind virtual streaming event that celebrated her internationally acclaimed album and accompanying full-length feature film “K-12.”
Everything Martinez does is so beautifully unique while being incredible true to herself and her style, which is what sets the young artist apart from so many others. The virtual concert was a totally unique event in itself, from the costumes and visuals that came with it, to the nature of interaction with fans that the event allowed, having a sidebar that gave adoring fans the chance to talk to each other and share excitement and opinions. In these times, virtual interaction is sometimes the only form of interaction, and incorporating this into the stream was such a brilliantly creative addition to the overall experience.
The concert consisted of 12 songs, each being performed with Martinez putting on an individual show for each. The visuals in the performances were stunning and each told a story. From giant cakes to traveling in between different dollhouses, she truly did her part in making sure that the experience was as true to an in person concert as possible. The immersive visuals created an experience unlike any other.
Kicking off the concert with her fan favorite song “Play Date,” Melanie created a world full of color, bright costumes and visually stunning scenes for worldwide fans. The event truly captured the meaning of coming together to share a common love of an artist, allowing fans to have the concert experience from the safety and comfort of their homes.