Thursday 26 September 2013

Interview: MCX Showcase Part 3 ft Timotha Lanae

The Minneapolis born Soul/ Jazz/ RnB Singer Songwriter, Musical Theatre Artist, Dancer and Actress is coming all the way from the States to appear as a part of our September showcase series appearing in both Manchester and London alongside a stellar line up of talent. We recently grabbed some time with her in between her various engagements including backing being vocalist for Alexander O’Neal and appearing as the lead in Hello Dolly. She is a very busy lady with all of her many talents and has a back catalogue of performance that reflects that. We wanted to get to know more about what makes the songstresses tick and what got her started…  

CC: What’s your first memory of singing?
TL: There’s a story that my mom tells me that I would always hum in the crib when I was a baby. The humming baby (laughs). There was an older woman who told my Mom ‘Oh she is going to be very musical’ and my Mom really didn’t think it was anything special, she thought all babies hummed! So that’s the first memory that I was told about with regard to me singing. But I remember as a little girl I would always go up to my Fathers office and he had tapes and all of that, I would listen to them and just sing along. I’m not even sure how old I was then, maybe five years old?  I’ve always loved to sing and always loved to just spend hours listening to music. Its ben something that’s been in me and I cant get rid of it.

CC: Who are some of your biggest influences music wise?
TL: There are so many! I would have to start with the foundation, which to me is soul music. So soul singers like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Aretha Franklin. Like I really admire Aretha as a vocalist even though I have a very different style of singing to her whereas I would say that Al Green and Marvin Gaye, the music they made was more about the feeling of it, for me anyway. When you listened to the actual music and the chords it was such a groove and it just kind of pulled at your heart you know. Those are the people I would listen to and be like ‘Oooo that’s some soul right there!’

Then coming more to growing up and what I listened to that inspired me, even Sade funnily enough, my father loved Sade and so he had a lot of her CD’s so I would listen to her. I would listen to Maxwell, his first Album ‘Urban Hang Suite’, when I first heard that I was in Junior High and I had to do some kind of report on poems and such like and I chose Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite because I reasoned that music can be poetry and the teacher allowed me to do my project on that album (laughs). So I kind of went through and interpreted the songs and wrote about what I felt the writer was saying when they wrote this music. Yeah so that’s music that influenced me when I was growing up and getting older and starting to really sing at like aged fourteen/ fifteen and listening to that type of music. I love Jill Scott and Erykah Badu and when I was much much younger with Aaliyah releasing her first album (Age Aint Nothin But A Number) which was produced by R.Kelly with a really soulful feel and had those Isley Brothers influences coming through which is another group I love. But I felt like that album really influenced me too. I could go on and on.

CC: You perform on stage in the theatre, you are a playwright, a dancer and singer songwriter; how do you go about juggling all of your passions?
TL: Right now I have a rehearsal in about two hours; I’m also the lead in ‘Hello Dolly’ (Musical made famous with Barbara Streisand, Walter Matthau and Michael Crawford in the film version in 1969). Then I have a rehearsal for a show for my own album at a festival; here in town coming up. Then I am leaving that rehearsal to go to another one for a show where I am singing with Alexander O’Neal. Tomorrow I have a commercial I am doing for a television thing coming up. So its kind of like this is a time period where I am truly being tested in juggling all of the disciplines that I am apart of which. The only way to approach it is to try and take of yourself. I wake up early in the morning and I do a devotion because my spirituality and my beliefs are really important to me. So I do a devotion to ground myself and have time to just kind of gather myself and get spiritual guidance. Then I just start with the day. You know how it is, you have to stay busy if you want to grow and be abreast of everything that’s going on. But in about three weeks of so I will have a little bit of down time.

CC: How did you go about the songwriting process for you album RED? 
TL: It’s funny because each song came to be in a different way. I’d say for me, sometimes something will just inspire me, but its funny that a lot of the songs I feel like I wrote them whilst I was driving in the car. I just would sing and hum melodies and then grab my phone and record it on there, and then I would go to the studio and develop it further. But then with the song ‘Talking to Myself’ that was a gain in the car and I was truly talking to myself out loud about a situation that I had, a love situation, then when I got to the studio with my producer Ben Obi sometime later and he was saying ‘well we need one more song, what can we write about?’ And I couldn’t think of anything so he asked me about what’s been going on in my life and I said ‘well the other day I was just talking to myself’ and he was like ‘that’s a song right there!’ So then he pulled out his guitar and played the different chord changes that came to him and then I just started singing over them and that’s where the melody just came from (sings a snippet). So life experience plays a huge role in it for me. A lot of writing happens in the car but also in my room, you know sitting on the bed and I’ll just pull out a pen and paper. Just keep it old school, I like to just write and feel the words come through my hands.
CC: Describe one of your favorite performances so far?
TL: I mean with this I really have to decide what type of performance would I pick. Is it musical theatre or performing songs from my album and so on? It’s difficult to choose so I’ll choose one from each. With Musical Theatre I did this show called ‘Respect; a Musical Journey of Woman’ which was a very special one for me. We sang songs from the early 1900’s all the way up to present day. The songs were used to tell a story of woman’s journey and in-between there were different monologues that we would do. Like I did a monologue where I appeared as Rosa Parks and then I sang ‘God Bless the Child’ by Billie Holiday and I’d say for me in theatre, doing that show (which we did numerous times) every time I would get to that section of the show, speaking about history here for us (In America) as Rosa Park’s was such a significant figure in the civil rights movement, so for me being able to channel her and speaking on her journey and then right after that monologue having to speak on Billie Holiday who also is such an important figure in music and the evolution of music; especially for female singers. Every single time that section of the show came around it felt like the audience was just moved. There would be silence for a moment when I would end the section and the audience would just erupt! It was such a pay off to know that what I was feeling and what I was channeling – that they as an audience got it. So I would say that that was powerful each and every night I performed that. And I did that for show for like nine months, eight shows a week! It just never got old. For me that was powerful to me in theatre.

Performing my solo material, I would say any time I have performed and not had to think about what I am doing. I am not thinking so to speak, I am truly just feeling the music and the energy of the audience? Any time that happens when I’m on stage as myself and not as a character performing, its literally the best feeling ever. You get that feeling of ‘oh I got through to them, just as me, Timotha’

CC: If you could collaborate with any other artist dead or alive, who would if be and why?
TL: Let me see. I think if I had to pick, I’m going to go to the wish list. This artist has passed on but I feel like our voices would blend, our whole vibe would blend, Marvin Gaye. I feel like he had such tenderness to his writing and to his singing. But then he was so deep! 

When he wrote ‘What’s going on’ and those types of songs during that era (I’ve been learning more about him lately) and discovered he really had to fight to get those records put out on Motown records. No one at the label wanted to release it and felt it to be such a political move and look what we wouldn’t have had if that had been blocked. So I feel for so many reasons I would choose him. There are so many artists now that I respect and would love to work with and I could real off a list but from the wish list Marvin Gaye has to be the only choice as our voices would just blend beautifully and we could have so much fun writing together and working out harmonies, so I definitely wish that could be possible.

CC: What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
TL: I would say the best piece of advice I’ve been given, was given by someone who isn’t even a performer. It was actually given by my Mom. As I explained to you earlier how my day is so busy, well she said this a long time ago, years even, but she still reminds me of it now. So her advice to me was ‘to enjoy right now. Don’t get so busy preparing for what you have to do that you miss living’.  So I think of that a lot. Even if I’m in rehearsals, I enjoy those rehearsals; I have learnt to be present in the rehearsal. Don’t get stuck thinking about ‘well after this rehearsal I have to go to this next rehearsal’. So I would say to just enjoy, no matter how busy you get, just enjoy the experiences you are having so that you can remember them. Live in it so that you remember it. Nothing like a mothers wisdom!

CC: What advice would you give to aspiring singer/ songwriters? 
TL: Nowadays things are so sped up. You know you can just throw a video up on YouTube and your good to go so I would say hone your craft! Know the foundations. Like I am saying Marvin Gaye as choice for me and I wasn’t alive when Marvin Gaye was doing his thing, when Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald were setting standards, but you need to know the history. Know music history, know where things came from, know the foundation so that you can grow from that building block and come out better for the future.

I would also say go out and get a mentor. You know, someone who has really done it and been out there. My vocal coach is Gwen Matthews, she’s been in the business for years and done all kinds of stuff – worked with Stevie Wonder and countless others. She gives me advice and guides me. Shows me various aspects of what’s important through her own knowledge base.

So get a mentor, know your history, research and understand this business you are trying to get into. Understand the people who came before you. Take it seriously. Look at it as if your are researching for a class or something you are invested in. Sometimes I fell like I hear people and they are all ‘I’m in the arts and its just fun, it shouldn’t be work’ etc. and I know this is really hard work. In some ways it should be harder work than someone in a corporation because you’re more of an entrepreneur. So I think if people approach it more as if it is a business, as if it’s a craft that you need to hone. If you approach it seriously then you are going to be that much better and the people that you are making music for are going to see that. They will appreciate it more.

CC: What was the last track you listened to?
TL: I was previously listening to some old school Robin Thicke in my car. The Album is ‘The Evolution of Robin Thicke’. The song I had on was ‘Teach U a Lesson’.

CC: What’s your preference: Download, cd, tape or Vinyl? 
TL: I think I’m more of a CD girl. I like to have the CD, look at the artwork, read the thank you notes, liner notes and all of that stuff. I like to have the physical copy. I’m old school like that.

CC: Describe your perfect day?
TL: It would be a day where I was on no ones schedule but mine first of all let’s say that! (Laughs) Where I could just wake up, do my devotion. Go and have breakfast with my Mom and Dad, just spend some time with them. Through all of this when I am in the car I’m listening to music. After that go and hit a BBQ at my sister’s house with lots of family there. Maybe there’s a live band performing! Lets say it was Marvin Gaye performing there live (laughs). When I leave the BBQ I go and hang out with a special someone. Listen to music, cuddle and maybe watch a movie or something. I am so simple and music is always a part of my day but family is really important to me, God’s important and also relationships. I would just want to spend the day around the people I love. So that’s what I am going to say my perfect day would be, getting to spend that time with the people who are important to me with a little bit of music infused in there too.

We had a wonderful time talking with Timotha and could have continued chatting away and hearing all of her stories. She is a very captivating speaker and really brings you in to the story by painting visuals of her memories for you. I feel her music is that way too. The album ‘Red’ is magnificent and showcases her beautifully. A highly recommended listen. We are very excited to hear her live.

See you all at the Showcase J

Article By: Claire Cripps

Interview: MCX Showcase Part 3 ft Charlene

Having been spotted at a Conya Doss show when she was invited to sing on stage in early 2011, Charlene has been a part of the MusicConnex family ever since. We have seen her grow and develop and we are so
excited to see her release her album titled 'Good Day' at the September showcase. We recently sat down with the talented young London born songstress to see what she had been up to since the last time we saw her.

CC: What have you been working on since we last saw you at the June MusicConnex showcase? 

C: Finishing my album, which is now complete, and I'm very excited about it. I’m now just working on all of the admin around that, the liner notes and getting all of the artwork together. 

CC: What can we look forward to hearing from you at the September MusicConnex showcase? 
C: Brand new exclusive tracks from the album never played live before! I am so excited to share them. 

CC: Who are your biggest influences music wise?
C: Jill Scott is a huge one for me. My brother thankfully bought me her first album and I have been in awe of her since that fist listen. There are literally no words for how amazing she is. I saw her live in Brixton and she was just, well there are no words. The level that she operates on is just out of this world. 

CC: If you could collaborate with any other artist dead or alive, who would if be and why?

C: It would definitely be Jill Scott.  I also love Bossa Nova songs like for example 'The Girl from Ipanema', I would love to work with Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto that would be amazing. 

CC: What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
C: Keep on going, don't give up doing what you love and be yourself. 

CC: What advice would you give to aspiring singer/ songwriters? 
C: I would offer the same advice as above but add to it that it’s so important to have an amazing team around you. There can be sharks in the industry but to have a great team around you encouraging you and being there to see you through your journey means so much. The people I have had around me have meant so much. Its made a huge difference to me. 

CC: What was the last track you listened to?
C: Michael Jackson 'PYT' was the last track. I’ve been playing that a lot lately. Its an oldie but a goodie. Loving soca type rhythms at the moment and this track called 'That Thing' by Atumpan is on heavy rotation.

CC: What’s your preference: Download, cd, tape or Vinyl? 
C: Download because I get to take so much of my music collection with me everywhere. I’m sure I should say Vinyl but it’s just not transportable. 

CC: Describe your perfect day? 
C: Wake up, a lovely sunny day, there would have to be food involved (laughs) go for brunch with the girls, maybe go to the park after for a game of rounder’s, I'm pretty active so I love to get outdoors. Followed by a gig somewhere in the evening and some more food (laughs again). 

That sounds like a pretty wonderful day to me! 

We were lucky enough to be given access to some promo tracks from the upcoming album ahead of her album release at the September showcase series and we are so excited for you all to hear the material at the showcase. We pressed play on the albums name sake 'Good Day' and it's a fantastic track. Very summery and light. Bouncy and easy to listen to. 'It was my first kiss of the day, sun literally kissed my body', I love that line. This is a classic feel good track. You cannot help but feel happy and lifted from it. Charlene's voice is so captivating and honey like. 

Following this track we heard 'Central Line' which is funky as all hell from the first beat. It has this driving beat which gets your foot tapping immediately and draws you into the story. The way that Charlene works the melody on top of the track is perfect. This song feels like an ode to those old Motown tracks we would all hear but it has its own more modern feel and energy. 

If these two tracks are even a small example of what is in store for us on this album then this album is going to be amazing from start to finish. I for one will be purchasing it as soon as I can. 

See you all at the showcase :)

Article By: Claire Cripps

Thursday 19 September 2013

Interview: MCX Showcase Part 3 ft Ann-Marie Lataille

Having worked with some of todays biggest talents including Marsha Ambrosius, Omar and Eric Roberson to name but a few, London based singer songwriter Ann-Marie Lataille has already had a career bigger than most. Having started her career as a backing vocalist, she has built up a catalogue of work over the years which is impressive to say the least.  We sat down with her ahead of her appearance at the September MusicConnex Showcase series and asked her about some of her influences…. 
CC: What your first memory of singing?
AM:  I was just singing at a train station. Stood with my mate and he was just like ‘you can really sing!’ I was really young and so I thought he must just be saying it because he was my friend and so I didn’t really take it on. But that’s the first time I remember singing in front of anyone at all.                                                                                
CC: Who are some of your biggest influences music wise?
AM: Obviously growing up you hear so much. But I would say Lauren Hill, when she was in Sister Act 2 I was like ‘Oh My God!’ I would say she is definitely one of my main influences. Also people like Jill Scott. She made such a difference for the NeoSoul genre, made such a difference. Marsha Ambrosius as well. Those are some of my favorites.
CC: How did you go about finding your own sound?
AM: My confidence really built when I started backing singing. I was just backing singing everywhere! To be honest with you backing singing still now makes me more nervous than singing your own material. I think because your there for someone else and if you mess it up, you are messing up their song, that’s pressure! Whereby when its you, its just you. I can just blame a mistake on the voices in my head (laughs).  I would say in all honesty that I have properly found my sound in the last year. Whilst I was doing my EP. I think finding that sound comes with confidence. It comes with experience. If you are just confident in the sound that comes out, it will amend your sound. I mean you hear other artists and mimic them, you try and hit these high notes or do things that other people are able to do and somehow I’ve just found me. I was listening to a lot of my material from the past and the sound is quite different. Not to the extreme but there is a real difference in a lot of the songs. Where now, when I am singing I can just hear myself. My Dad passed away at Christmas and I sang at his funeral and its almost like some inhibition was gone or something clicked or, I don’t know! Something just feels different. I do think sometimes that the so-called mistakes singers make are what to me, make them special. That little growl that comes out by mistake those are the types of things that make me go ‘yeah, that’s what I love’.
CC: If you could collaborate with any other artist dead or alive, who would if be and why?
AM: Ray Charles. I really like him. I think we could come up with something a bit magical and crazy. You know you get drawn to people who you are alike. I am drawn to mental unstable people (a lot of laughter). 
CC: What have you been working on recently and tell us some more about the EP?
AM: I released the EP in May it’s called ‘The Voices Made me Do It’ and it’s a part of a trilogy so this is one of three. It’s a journey through love. The first bit is a sort if representation of the honeymoon period where you’re so in love and everything is so great. There is only one song on the EP that is a bit sad and not so upbeat. So that’s more about where I was coming from and what love has done for me. I am now working on the next EP, which will be called ‘My New White Jacket’ which is obviously a straight jacket. Which goes into the craziness of love, because love is a state of madness I personally believe. So I want to talk about the things that we don’t necessarily want to talk about. So breaking up or situations where you know you should break up; where your both fighting for it but you know you need to go your separate ways. Even looking at that stalky sort of obsessive vibe, I want to talk about that part of love. Then after it, the final album will be about what happens at the end, if it works, if it doesn’t work, any rebuilding of the self etc. 
I am also trying to plan a tour outside of London. I am working alongside my cousin who is a rapper called ‘Guiltz’ he features on the bonus track on the EP and we are planning to launch our album sometime next year. He actually just released his first single so we are due to go and shoot the video for that next month which is so exciting. My first ever video! It’s just going to be so exciting. As well as that I also work on the radio with a soul show every Sunday 4pm-7pm.
CC: What can we look forward to hearing from you at the September Showcase?
AM: I will be performing material from the ‘The Voices Made Me Do It’ EP but jazzed up versions. There will be collaboration on the night. I mean I’m quite spontaneous, so I’m saying this is what I’m going to be doing but I could completely change my mind. My backing singers never know what to expect (laughs).
 CC: Tell us about one of your favorite performances?
AM: I would say when I was the support act for Marsha Ambrosius. She was really pleasant. Sometimes you have this idea in your head of what a person is going to be like because you buy their music and you want to believe that the person will be just as amazing. Her music is so cool and she was just so cool.  Like she would take pictures with us and sit with us and just it was just really nice to know that she was so down to earth and that she cared so much about other people.
Everywhere you play somewhere iconic that would be another huge moment for me for example the my dream was to perform at Jazz CafĂ© so when I did that I just felt like ‘YES!’, it was really good.   
CC: Musically what is the best piece of advice you have been given?
AM: This was one that helped me with my nerves. I literally get so nervous that I get to a stage where I’m sick! Even now. Talking to people makes me even worse actually. They basically said to me ‘feel like you are giving the audience something. As if you are here to give them a gift. They want it from you or they wouldn’t have come here. So just feel as if you are giving the audience that gift’ It doesn’t make you feel so much like the audience are here to criticize. When that’s in your mind, it does make it a lot better.
CC: What advice would you give to aspiring singer/ songwriters? 
AM: I would probably give someone too much advice (laughs). I would start by saying treat yourself as a product. Know exactly what you are giving the audience and don’t be confused in your delivery. My motto has always been if I’m going to fail I’m going to fail doing something my way.
CC: What was the last track you listened to?
AM: John Legend ‘So Gone’.
CC: What’s your preference: Download, CD, tape or Vinyl? 
AM: I like to buy the CD. The download thing? There’s something with me and internet. Buying a CD I just feel like I’m giving more. A CD is just yours to own, whereby with download you can lose it with computer issues and whatever. I like that the CD is mine.
CC: Describe your perfect day? 

AM: Sunshine! Food! Any food at all. If I could have live musicians with me. A whole mixture of musicians, my friends. Me and musician friends cold just have a huge jam session. When we get together we just seem to just make a lot of magic. It wouldn’t just be singing, I like to draw too. A big creative, artsy, fun, sun, festival with lots of love and music and art and shoes! (Laughs)  
It was a pleasure talking to the lovely Ann-Marie. We are so excited to welcome her on stage at our September Manchester and London dates. She has a way with words, which immediately puts you at ease. On top of that, she is quite frankly hilarious. We look forward to the live experience!

See you at the showcase J

Article By:  Claire Cripps

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Interview: MCX Showcase Part 3 Ft Kadice

MusicConnex got the chance to talk with the vocal powerhouse that is Kadice ahead of her appearance at the September Manchester and London showcases. Her sound is quite frankly amazing and so electrifying. We wanted to get to know some more about the singer and her influences. 

CC: What your first memory of singing?
K: When I was about three. In front of the mirror in my grandma’s house, with the hair brush, singing (laughs). My Dad was a singer and he did shows and I would watch him on TV winning talent shows and things like that, performing at the Royal Albert Hall and so being so young and seeing that, as I grew up all I wanted to do was Music.
CC: Who are the some of your biggest influences music wise?
K: Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, Billie Holiday, Etta James. All of those amazing talents.
CC: How did you go about finding your own sound?
K: It was when I was recording my album. Because I was doing more 80’s, it brought me right back to the year I was born. I think my voice adapted to it in the end but I am able to sound like the person who I am singing, in talent shows and things like that. It’s a real gift to be able to have that voice manipulation and when it came to me singing my original stuff I don’t know; my voice just sounds really different.
CC: If you could collaborate with any other artist dead or alive, who would if be and why?
K: Whitney Houston. She was a big part of why I started singing. And I would say Angel because I just love his sound and we’ve both got tattoo’s on our face (laughs).
CC: Since the release of 'Road of Life' what have you been working on?
K: A lot of shows. I did ‘I Luv Live’ in Manchester a week and a half ago and I’m doing ‘I Luv Live’ Derby on the same day I am appearing with MusicConnex in Manchester so I will be running all over the place that night but I’m excited about it. I am doing one this week as well for my friends birthday. A lot of people have wanted me to appear live so it’s been a great opportunity. I am also appearing in a documentary on Channel 4, which will air in October. It’s about living on benefits and looking at the day-to-day journey of it.  

CC: Musically what’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
K: Keep at it.
CC: What advice would you give to aspiring singer/ songwriters? 

K: Follow your heart. A lot of singers when they are young get distracted by things in the outside world and won’t want to focus on the music. So my advice is to stay focused on your passion. Stay at it. 
CC: What was the last track you listened to?
K: Fantasia ‘Lose To Win’. The new album is amazing (Side Effects of You), I have actually worked with the man who produced her whole album, and I did a track with him. I think that album actually sets the bar.
CC: What’s your preference: Download, cd, tape or Vinyl? 
K: Download definitely! I have to take my music with me. If I don’t listen to music during the day I go mad (laughs).
CC: Describe your perfect day? 
K: Getting up going to the studio, blogging. Doing something constructive. I enjoyed filming for sure. But where my shows are so close together at the moment, I’m pretty much in constant rehearsals. So time to do that other stuff I enjoy and love as well. That would be perfect.

It was so great to talk to Kadice and we are very excited that she will be appearing with MusicConnex. We can’t wait for you all to hear her live!

See you at the showcase J

Article By: Claire Cripps

Friday 6 September 2013

New Music: Jill Scott & Robert Glasper 'Calls'

These two artist's are absolutely sublime in their own right so the combination of the two on one track is asking for some form of musical magic. That is exactly what has been achieved here. 

Each time this comes on the radio, you can not help but have a moment where the song washes over you like a smooth breeze on a hot summers day. It's the kind of music which enhances your day no matter how amazing it already is. 

A classic summer track which is begging to be teamed with a relaxed afternoon in the sun. 

With Jill Scott's honey filled vocal melody taking you right back to her first album and immediately pulling you into the song; teamed with the Glasper Rhodes sound supporting and enhancing each verse and taking you on a musical journey; this song is wonderful from start to finish. Highly recommended. 

'Calls' is from the new Robert Glasper album titled 'Black Radio 2' due for release on October 28th. Jill Scott is rumoured to be busy working on new material of her own and we are eager to get our hands on both of these projects! 

Article By: Claire Cripps

Wednesday 4 September 2013

MusicConnex Loves: Hayley Cassidy

We love to discover new artists and share them with the MusicConnex community. After hearing this track 'Stripped' by Hayley Cassidy we immediately wanted to post this up and let everyone know about it. It's such a good track!

Lyrics - fabulous
Melody - wonderful 
Beat - bouncing

We like this a lot!  

We would love to catch her live, so hopefully she will be playing out soon! Check her various channels below to find out more. The new album 'Stripped' is available to download from her website. Grab it quick!

Facebook / Twitter / Soundcloud / Youtube / Instagram

Article By: Claire Cripps