Thursday, August 29, 2013

Q & A with Rachael F. of NighTraiN

The fast footed, sweet singin', costume rockin' Rachael Ferguson is 1/4th of the fun, witty, trigger happy, captivating locomotive-punk, femme-quadplex NighTraiN. I met the band at a swanky music video premier for their single Huntress: a scary song about scary things, (written by bass player Selena Whitaker-Paquiet). After witnessing their baddasss performance, I cornered Rachael to get a copy of De-Railed, NighTraiN's 2011 release that features the bouncy inter-gendered single Jean Penis (written by Rachael F.) that tickles me endlessly. A few months later, I met NighTraiN for an interview in Seattle, and cornered Rachael once again for this Q&A. From our first encounter I've been increasingly delighted by Rachael's openness, approachability, and sparse likelihood of being captured in focus. In addition to becoming a bit of a groupie (I use the term "bit" loosely and with discretion), I think of NighTraiN as my mentors. Their music career is based on having fun, giving to fans, loving each other, and then, having more fun. I like that strategy. Animals, vegetables, and minerals of the Universe, meet Rachael F. of NighTraiN!

Blue: Where are you from and what hood do you represent?

Rachael F.: I'm from the other city of roses, Pasadena California. I now represent the Emerald City since I've been here since 2000.

B:  Describe your journey to Seattle from LA.

RF: I came from LA to Seattle for college straight out of high school. I just needed to leave. Had to live with my Aunt who's a Pentecostal minister- sort of a boner killer when someone breaks out in tongues before your first college party.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Q & A with Tendai Morris

Photo courtesy of BFREESTLOUIS

With a career that spans nearly 20 years, singer, songwriter, and artist developer Tendai Morris (formerly Tendai Price) is no stranger to the excitement of the mercurial music industry.  Hailing from a family of musicians, she learned the value of craftsmanship and professionalism early. Tendai wrote her first song, No One Wants to Be Alone, in the 8th grade.
In high school Tendai started a girl group called Passionnaee with the help of producer and friend Tony Sims. After the members of Passionnaee separated, Tendai (writer) and Sims (producer) teamed up with vocalists Tasha B. and Cherise Louis and the soulful R&B trio TIORAH was born.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Trouble at Target Practice

I had a conversation with a musician recently. She told me she was tired of being ignored and that she's searching for a way to reach her target audience more effectively. I asked her who her target audience was and instead of answering, she told me what kind of music she made. I responded, "That's awesome...but who exactly is your audience?" With a hint of annoyance, she retorted, "Everyone who likes good music!"

This issue comes up frequently with independent artists. They know their art is good, but they have a hard time getting it out there. When asked who their audience is, they either don't know at all or can't articulate it with much detail. Finding your tribe requires a shift in focus from what you do to who you're in a conversation with...because if you don't know what your target is, how can you hit it more effectively?
While speaking with the musician, I noticed recurring themes between her narrative and the narrative of other musicians who have trouble targeting their audience. She had no idea who her audience was, what they wanted, or where they spent their time. These types of oversights can be deadly, as they are fatiguing to artists and annoying to fans. The following are some strategies that artists use to reach their audiences effectively and sustain over time.

Friday, August 23, 2013

On Angry Art with Chaquis Maliq

Photo by
Chaquis Maliq is an independent singer/songwriter and San Francisco native. She was recently featured on the Women for One art and culture blog sharing some insightful strategies for independent female artists. She mentioned that she is conscious to inspire her listeners by refraining from writing with anger. In the comments below the article, I posted the following question:

"As someone who has used art to release anger, I can appreciate this article. I don’t know where happiness is hiding at times, but I still don’t want to spread the anger around. I’m interested in how you’re able to continue creating even while experiencing the depths of despair. Any thoughts or insights?

Sincerely yours,

to which Chaquis responded,

"I have found that art without a mission is often the same as "A Rebel without a cause.” I too suffer from a lot of things that should depress me and keep me unhappy. But I hate the feeling of sadness and anger. I often write down the things that make me feel this way or vent them, instead of creating angry music that will create even more angry people. The key is to share your story once you have already released the outrage. Feeding angry music to angry listeners is fighting fire with fire. Instead I may have a story that reflects an everyday situation, but I provide a solution by the end of the song.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jingles and Logos

Cliche music is the pits.

In the world of art, there seems to be a pull to fit in somewhere. We have to place our art in genres and appropriate venues so that fans can find it. We have to name ourselves and create an image that fans can grab hold to and get excited about. But once we've finished perfecting our "image"and "style" we often find that we've merely replicated old shit. After having compromised our vision for so long, it's hard to get back to what we intended in the first place.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Communicate Your Vision

Among many artists, "marketing" has become a dirty word. It gets a bad rap because marketing experts of old have convinced us that it means "selling ourselves" or "promoting ourselves" to "potential buyers"...which essentially turns us into objects that can be bought and sold. That sounds like chattel slavery and I'm not down with chattel slavery. 

Now, of course there are people who love that model. They thrive on it. They listen to, read, and look at things that have been popular in the past and work to replicate it to make themselves more marketable. Since people are already familiar with these popular things, another version of it can be just as appealing; people like things that are familiar to them. However, the artist who is creating from the heart who has a unique way to approach the world is discouraged by lack of attention and understanding...which wouldn't be a problem if the bills were paid. So, instead of fighting the misunderstandings by explaining the story behind their creations, some artists just say "folks ain't ready" and move on. But what if we believed in the potential of people to understand? What if we interacted with people who were ready? What if we exposed our conversation to the greater world in a way that a 6 year old could decipher? Is it really that hard to comprehend? Do we even know what we're trying to convey?

Q & A with Baba Dhati

"It began in 1991, somewhere around 8 o'clock. Master Percussionist Dhati Kennedy presented a group of students to a cheering crowd. Ngoma In Motion was born that day! NIM has evolved into a talented group of musicians, word warriors & drummers."

Photo courtesy of Everette Hughes & Baba Myron Buchanon

Every time I have a conversation with Baba Dhati, I walk away bewildered...mostly because his open, enthusiastic, curious, and otherwordly perspective rocks even my understanding of reality! A Master Percussionist, singer, and communally active independent artist in the St. Louis area, Baba Dhati is working to keep Afrikan culture, tradition, and music alive in the hood, teaching students the art of Afrikan drumming and even providing the public with studio recordings of works by Ngoma In Motion: an arts collective that is ever evolving. Citizens of the Universe, meet Baba Dhati!

BLUE: Where are you from and what hood do you represent?

Baba Dhati: I am from dimension 7. I represent marginalized, little thought of, and oppressed.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Feed Your Soul

Time and time again, I've gotten the devastating news that another indie artist has bitten the euphemistic dust. They've given up on their dream of being a professional creative due to lack of support, burnout, or some other unfortunate nail in the coffin of their hope. Then, they've continued to be taunted by the sounds of the blatantly untalented 1-hit wonders and viral internet sensations who make mockeries of the craft, only to be rewarded by society's ever increasing acceptance of bullshit. How did this happen? Will it happen to me? How can I keep from becoming a sad statistic in the record book of fallen artists?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Q&A with Kia Sleet

I met Kia Sleet in cyberlandia. She was music and culture blogging and I was reading and stalking. She did a Q&A on me and I was like "Aww man. That's nice." I discovered we both came from St. Louis and even had a gang of mutual friends, including the fun-loving Helen Marie of GoHelenMarie and UIB's own Magician, Fathom 9 (name dropping is FUN!). Then, I learned that she could sing and looked great in a pair of tights. At that moment, I knew this woman would be a superstar. Ladies and gentlefolk of the universe: Indie pop artist and guerrilla producer gone commando, Kia Sleet.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Q&A with lyfestile of Altered St8s and Plan-B

Internationally known hip hop writer/producer, emcee, human rights activist, comedian, radio host, indie artist advocate, promoter, arts entrepreneur, bird, plane, and superhero lyfestile (spelled intentionally with a lowercase "l") is a lot like an onion. Under each layer, you'll discover more potent flavorful magic that'll bring your collard greens to life AND make you cry uncontrollably all at the SAME TIME.

I met lyfestile around the way on some hood shit, but once I caught the attention of this hip hop powerhouse, I wanted to learn more. Everything he touches turns to DONE, SON! He's humble; probably because he's too busy grinding to care about appearances. He shared stages with the likes of Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Pharcyde, brought down houses all over the Midwest and beyond, and is working to put St. Louis indie hip hop on the map. He co-founded the annual St. Louis Underground Music Fest (SLUMFest), showcased at SXSW, and mothers love him. Ladies and gentlemen, meet lyfestile.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Q&A with Lady Rose

“And although you gave me my last name, I took your first, so that Roosevelt Hampton could still walk the earth.”
~ Lady Rose
Bio: La Toya (Lady Rose) Hampton, a native of Portland, Oregon, is a poet, spoken word artist, educator, and youth mentor. she interweaves imagery of mirrors, Christianity, and sensuality into her writing to explore what it means to be a woman, Black, and Christian in the 21st Century. She has performed on stages in Portland and Los Angeles and recently completed the production of her first one-woman show entitled "Holes of a Piece of Me: An Introduction to Lady Rose."

I met Lady Rose (LaToya Hampton) while doing shows in Portland. We would rap after last call and she would tell me about her desire to be more bold in her creativity and performance. I had an opportunity to see her perform at Mo's February art gallery opening. Though somewhat quiet and reserved in conversation, her performance was so genuine and passionate that she kept captive the attention of everyone's eyes and ears. I began to see Lady Rose's fire and hear the emergence of her story. In the desire to abstract her story further, I asked Lady Rose to participate in an experimental Bio Abstraction Series. This Q&A came out of our first interview for the series. I figured I'd shoot my questions out of left field in my provocative, satirical fashion and see what she could do with them...a playful challenge. However, after reading her responses, I was floored by Lady Rose's witty candor and youthful honesty. Ladies and Gentlefolk, I present to you, Lady Rose.