Talking “SCP” with OAKMAN

Have you heard of OAKMAN? If you haven’t, chances are, you will soon! This talented French pop/rock trio has had a big week, as they released their third EP, SCP, on September 30th. We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with lead singer/guitarist Marine and drummer Jesse about their new music. Check it out below.

Crowdsurfer: Give us a background about who you are and how you got started as a band.

Jesse: Hi! I’m Jesse, I play the drums. I started music with my brother Geremia who is our bass guitarist. Music was a big part of our family as my dad played music and was part of a band. We grew up in this environment of music and live concerts, so it was a normal thing for us. We picked up playing instruments at a young age and started playing as a trio with my dad.

Geremia and Marine met during high school. At that time, I was in college in a different city in France. Geremia and Marine played music together for fun. I thought they had a really nice taste of music. Later, they decided to start taking their music seriously as a duo. Afterwards, they came to my city, and we started something that we now call OAKMAN.

CS: Your third EP SCP came out yesterday! What did you to celebrate?

Jesse: I would say like French people, we went to a French restaurant and had a couple of glasses of wine with our close friends and team. We wanted to celebrate as a little committee in a restaurant. It was fun and we definitely ate too much!

CS: Tell me a little bit about the inspiration for the new EP.

Marine: The inspiration for SCP came from many different things. During the pandemic, we listened to many different artists including Phoenix, CHVRCHES, and The Weeknd. Even though I’m not much of a pop listener, I do love Dua Lipa, her music is really cool. All these influences, plus all the pop punk bands we’ve listened to in the past, inspired our new sound and this EP.

CS: You said your sound changed. Can you tell us about that and how this EP is different from anything you’ve done before?

Marine: So now we have more synth vibes than before. I have always wanted to experiment with these types of sounds, but I didn’t really have the time or the money. During the pandemic, I still didn’t have the money, but I had the time to experiment, so I decided to explore with analog music. It was a cool experience, and it gave me the chance to add new elements to our music, which is something I have always wanted to do. The pandemic was a good time for me to try new things.

Jessie:  Also, we had more experience as people and as musicians after touring which gave us the freedom to experiment with new things. Our previous music was raw, with just the three of us with and our instruments. Marine started to produce our songs more and more and developed that skill. Which also gave us an opportunity to experiment in new ways and bring different sounds into this EP.

CS: Why did you pick SCP as the title track and why is it so special to you?

Marine: We chose SCP, which stands for Sugar Coated Pill, as the title track because it encapsulated all the different emotions you can find in the entirety of the EP. The song represents the kind of sweet but also spicy and crazy part of life as well as the fears many of us have. We felt that SCP was a song that represented all the emotions we cover throughout the EP.

CS: Your song “Murder” talks about a difficult subject that many people experience. Why did you feel it was important to write this song?

Marine: When I was writing this song, I didn’t know that I was going to talk about this topic. I always wanted to talk about this, but I never felt like I had the perfect song to do it.  But after I wrote the first few sentences, deep in my thoughts/ I murder you for once, I started to think it was a good song for this subject.

CS: Who came up with the vision/idea for the music video for “Murder” and what inspired the idea?

Jesse: Marine, she’s the boss!

Marine: When I thought about “Murder,” I pictured somebody running away from something or someone, like their murderer. I wanted to go further into the idea of what would happen if the roles were swapped –  the idea of the murderer becoming the victim and the victim becoming the murderer. I felt like this would be a more interesting concept because we always talk about the victim and the murderer, but sometimes the victim wants his/her revenge. So, I thought it would be more interesting to see it from this point of view and see the emotions that overtake the victim.

CS: You guys did such a great job on the video, we loved it!

Jesse: Thank you! It was pretty tough to shoot because it was outside and pretty cold. We wrapped at 6 am! But it was worth it!

CS: Switching it up a bit, who is your dream collaboration?

Marine: I have too many! I would love to collaborate with Phoenix and Dayglow!

Jesse: I never thought about this, but maybe Fatherson or I’d really love to collaborate with Enter Shikari!  I think that would be a great mix because they are kind of crazy with their music.

CS: Who would you love to go on tour with?

Marine: Pheonix!

Jesse: Yeah! They are pretty big and maybe it would be easier for us to communicate with them and link up because they are French.  I really like Manchester Orchestra but is like a different type of music. Honestly, I would like to tour with any pop punk or pop band. Touring with CHVRCHES would be amazing!

Marine: Yeah! CHVRCHES would be really cool!

CS: What do you hope people get from listening to your music?

Marine: I hope they get hope and motivation in their life and I hope they love the EP! I don’t know, this is always a hard question because I can’t speak for other people, but I hope they feel what we wanted to transmit through this EP. We hope they feel the emotions and see the authenticity that we wanted to share with them.

Jesse: As people, we are musicians, we are a band. But, we are also listeners like everybody else and we have our favorite bands and artists. So as a band, the most important thing for us it to try to recreate what we like about our favorite songs and artists. When you listen to a new song or watch the music videos, you are so into it. We want people to feel connected to us and we hope to build a bond with our fans through our music. Music is emotions – its’ happiness, it’s sadness. Music represents life. As a band we create music, but when we release it, it’s for people, it’s not only for us anymore.

CS: If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice, what would you say?

Jesse: Work more!

Marine: That’s a good one!

Jesse: Sometimes I’m a bit lazy, you know. When you don’t see the results you want after working so hard to obtain a goal, sometimes you just stop and abandon the idea. I am that type of person. So, I would tell myself “Just go! Do it!” But I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people like me, so I am not alone!

CS: No, you definitely are not!

Marine: I would tell myself to be more confident about our music. Sometimes when we compose a song, we have some doubts and sometimes we feel like its not worth it. The song can be good, but we always have doubts. And I want to get to a place where we can be more confident and take more risks.

CS: What are some of your plans for the rest of this year and onward?

Jesse: Our EP came out yesterday, so we’d like to have the opportunity to defend our it on stage and play live shows. We will have some shows in France of course, but we’d like to tour Europe and the UK, and we’d love to go to the US and do a bigger tour there.

CS: Lastly, is there anything you want to say to your fans or mention?

Marine: You can listen to our new EP SCP on Spotify! Add our songs to your playlists. Any support means the world to us!

Jesse: Thank you for your support! You guys adding us on social media, chatting with us, buying merch, just everything, really means so much to us as a band. We need that support to keep pushing further and creating new music.

You can stream SCP here and make sure to keep up with OAKMAN Band on Instagram and Tik Tok. You’ll definitely want to keep them on your radar!


Dallas Breakout Artist, A-Wall, Talks Overnight Success, Creative Inspiration, and Future Projects

You might not have heard of him (yet) but if you’re a TikTok user, chances are, you’ve heard his music. Aaron Paredes, known widely by his moniker, A-Wall, is one of the latest emerging artists to top the charts thanks to gaining major traction on TikTok. You’ll have a hard time scrolling through even just a few videos on your For You Page without hearing his unavoidable viral hit “Loverboy” – there are currently over 900K TikTok video creations using the song. Over the last few weeks, “Loverboy” hit #1 on the Viral 50 Chart, both in the U.S. and Globally. Behind his overnight chart-topper lies a whole discography of “anti-pop” tracks crafted from his bedroom in Dallas, Texas. With the release of his new music video for “Loverboy” out today, we had the opportunity to catch up with A-Wall to talk creative inspiration and where he sees his music going next.

Crowdsurfer: Let’s talk about your viral hit Loverboy – it’s so catchy! What was it like seeing one of your songs catch fire so quickly?

A-Wall: Well first off, I’m super thankful for everyone who’s been streaming it and supporting me. It’s an insane feeling, really. A lot of the time, it still doesn’t even feel real. I knew the song was one of my fans’ favorites way before it blew up. But I never could have imagined that it would ever grow to this magnitude and so quickly. 

CS: Your song was mixed with a soundbit on TikTok and a new trend was born where users simply post about what makes them smile. The trend is really wholesome and has created its own happy corner on the internet. How does it feel to have gifted little moments of positivity to so many through your music?

It’s an incredible feeling. I get messages everyday from people telling me how my music has helped them with whatever they’ve been going through. Which is crazy, knowing that people relate to the music so much that they will go out of their way to send me a message and let me know how it’s helped them. Things like that will make my day, or my week even, for sure. 

CS: Bro who got you smilin’ like that? Do you write your songs from personal experience?

I do! Although, when I first started writing, I tried to make my music as relatable as possible by keeping the themes somewhat simple and vague. I would go into the process like: 

“Okay. To me, this sounds like a break-up or a love song. What are some things that I’ve dealt with that I think could be relatable? And how can I simplify them so that someone else can listen and think about something similar that happened to them.” 

To add to that, I’m not very good at displaying my emotions or talking about how I feel. However, recently, I have been getting more personal in my writing and allowing myself to be more vulnerable, because music has always been my way of expressing myself. And as a result, I’ve become more open as a person in general.

CS: How has your sound evolved since you first started putting out music in 2018? Where do you see it heading from here?

Well, I’m 22 now, and I’ve been making music since I was in middle school. I wanted to be an EDM Dj at first and I would make beats and upload them to SoundCloud. I didn’t start recording myself until I got to high-school. My friends kept telling me I should put out an album and that’s when I paid for my first studio session.

When I first started recording under my “A-Wall” alias, I was very much trying to find my sound and see what sort of music people liked from me. I was definitely inspired by the whole “Flowerboy” era Tyler [The Creator] started. I loved the vocals from artists like Rex [Orange County] and Frank Ocean on that project as well as the rapping from Tyler. But I actually never knew about the indie/bedroom pop category of artists until I started releasing my own music. Which is kind of funny because whenever people would ask who my biggest inspirations were, I’d say artists like Kanye, Tyler, Kid Cudi and they’d be confused [laughs].

Once I finally put out that first album, I was actually going to stop there…I was starting college and I knew I’d have less time to work on music. But somehow out of nowhere, I got placed on a couple editorial playlists on Spotify, and that’s when I got my first wave of fans listening to my music and sending me messages from across the world. This was back before pitching your songs was a feature on Spotify too, so it was really crazy for me. I took that as a sign that I should keep going. Since then, I’ve made it my goal to stay consistent and put out a project every year. 

In that time, my sound kept developing more and more while I taught myself new things or experimented with new directions. Last year, I worked with CHROMA on a project called Primavera and I became so inspired from that experience. They pushed me to challenge myself and really step out of my comfort zone. We worked on music that I never would’ve thought I could make. I believe I truly found my sound during that project.

So basically, I’ve taken everything that I’ve learned up to this point (and all the people I’ve met along the way), and I’ve put it all into this next project that I’ve been working on for some time now called AutoPilot. I can’t wait to share it once it’s ready – it’s easily my best work and, for once, I’m proud of every song on there.

CS: There are two features on Helios – one with Pretty Boy Aaron and one with Xavier Flowers – and as you mentioned, you also released a collab album with CHROMA last year. Who are some artists you’d love to work with on future projects (sky’s the limit)?

Oh man [laughs]…I mean, I’d love to get the chance to work with, or just meet, the artists who influence/inspire me one day like Frank Ocean, Tyler, and Kid Cudi. 

I also would love to work with some of the bigger artists that have been pushing the boundaries and blending genres in the alternative space too, like Dominic Fike, Kali Uchis, Omar Apollo, Joji, Rich Brian, Aminé, etc… 

Oh yeah! And I really wanna work with some EDM artists in the future! I am still super into EDM music. I go to local shows and the bigger festivals here in Texas pretty often. I couldn’t imagine what it’d feel like to be in the crowd at a festival and hear a song featuring my music.

CS: From production to recording to designing your own merch…you do it all. Where do you find yourself drawing creative inspiration from lately?

I mentioned them a bit already before, but I’ve always been inspired by the artists like Tyler and Kanye who go crazy when it comes to putting out an album. Not only do you hear it in the music, but you can literally see their whole vision in the videos, the marketing, the set design, the merch, the story…I love working on all that stuff. Anything that allows me to channel my creative energy, I love. I feel like those types of artists are the ones that last in the long run too, because they’re always creating new ideas, and further pushing the envelope of what it means to be an artist. Now that I’ve met so many talented people that can help me bring my visions to life, I get excited when I think about all the little things that go into a roll out.

CS: You’ve described your music as “Pop music off an Ambien.” Give us a deeper dive into how you’re putting your own spin on the “bedroom pop” genre.

Well, honestly I just make whatever I like. I used to be scared of trying new directions but that’s really how you learn and grow as an artist. I think I’m at a point where I know what a typical “A-Wall” song sounds like, but I wanna continue to surprise fans and show that I can do even more. I still love making catchy songs, but I love it even more when I make a catchy song have some real meaning behind it. 

CS: You’re originally from El Paso. As a Latinx artist, is it important for you to pay homage to your Hispanic roots with your brand and sound?

Definitely. I think paying homage to my background is super important because it’s a part of who I am and where I came from. Family is also very important to me – I have a lot of family back home in El Paso. They’re some of my biggest supporters. I can’t wait to do a show there soon, so I can go all out for them the way they do for me.

CS: What are some obstacles or stereotypes in the music industry you’ve run into so far?

Well to be honest, I feel like I’m barely getting into the music industry, so it’s just been pretty normal I’d say so far. It has been crazy doing all these calls and interviews though. It honestly got a little overwhelming at one point. But then I realized, I have a great team and this is exactly what I’ve always wanted, so I’m ready now. I’d say the biggest obstacles came from the grind to get to where I’m at now. All those second thoughts and feelings I dealt with, like doubting myself, all that uncertainty, and just being scared of life in general is kind of what my next project is all about. But yeah, I genuinely love music and I’m excited to see where else it takes me. 

CS: Do you have any live shows planned? Where can we catch you playing in Dallas?

I really wanna tour soon! We’re in the process of planning one hopefully if everything works out. But I’ve been making some guest appearances here and there at some of my friends’ shows here in Dallas. Whenever I have my release party soon for AutoPilot, that will probably be the next real show I do.

A-Wall’s music video for “Loverboy” is out now – check it out here:

Interviews Music News

Talking “Dinero” with Trinidad Cardona

We got back into the groove of things after the long 4th of July weekend by talking with Trinidad Cardona. If you’re on TikTok, you definitely know him, as his song “Dinero” became the #1 viral track on the app a couple of weeks ago. We can attest that this song has been in our heads all week. This overnight explosion of attention also lead “Dinero” to enter Spotify and Billboard charts, proving that Trinidad Cardona is a name you’re going to remember.

CROWDSURFER MAG: How was your holiday weekend? Do anything fun?

TRINIDAD CARDONA: I just watched some fireworks, made some food, it was nothing too crazy.
CSM: Ok let’s talk about “Dinero.” This song suddenly blew up overnight on TikTok. What was that moment like finding out that news?

TC: It was a weird, surreal moment because I didn’t do anything. It was literally being normal and then one day someone being like, you know your song is doing incredible? It didn’t feel real at the moment. I actually wrote it down on a manifestation board but forgot about it. So it was kind of weird how that came back, but manifestation is real, kids!
CSM: I love that, I’m here for all of the manifestation techniques. Did you spend a lot of time watching all the different TikToks? Any favorite ones?

TC: Yeah, there are millions of TikToks at this point, but at the beginning I was going through it looking at each video and what people were doing. Because I didn’t even have a TikTok! I had to learn how to use it and download it and all that.

CSM: Did you have any favorite TikToks using “Dinero?”

TC: People are all kind of doing their own things to it, but I like the dancing videos personally. It’s fun to see people go off.
CSM: Was it shocking to you to have a song that’s three years old get all that attention?

TC: Yeah because I dropped all these great songs, but I’m not mad that people like this one. This song, when it came out, it just didn’t catch on originally. It’s better to see it do good now than never.
CSM: Ok, so obviously a lot has happened in the years since that song came out. What would you like to direct all your new fans to listen to next?

TC: We’re actually working on new music, so you can keep listening to “Dinero” for another few weeks. We’ve got some more coming, already recorded.

CSM: What can you tell us about what’s next?

TC: It’s everything. Imagine every type of music that you wanna hear, yeah, it’s all that. I got dance records, I got soft records, I singing records, I got more rap-type records. I do everything.

CSM: It sounds like a great mix and we’ll all find something we love for sure. How has your musical style changed since you started releasing songs?

TC: Dramatically. I feel like I actually make really, really good music now. When I sang “Dinero” and the other songs I dropped around that time, that was my first start at music. I had just started singing. “Jennifer” was my first song, I had one more song after that, and then “Dinero.” So I’m like, people are going crazy over those songs that I did when I was a teenager, imagine what they’re about to go off on when they hear this new stuff. I’ve been recording, writing music, I’ve written over three, four hundred songs just this year. Practice makes perfect.

CSM: What do you hope most for your fans to get out of listening to your music? Do you have an impact you want to make?

TC: I want them to feel good. I want you to feel something. I want you to feel sad, cry it out, dance, feel happy. Whatever emotion I’m trying to portray through my music, I want them to feel that. And everyone has their own memories to these songs too, so just go make memories to this music so when you listen back to it you have something to think about, reminisce on. That’s how I do with my music. If I listen to music, it always has some type of memory attached to it, or a feeling attached to it, different songs for different moments.

CSM: So tours are getting back out there, happening again. If you were on a dream tour, who would you love to go on tour with?

TC: I never got asked this, it would probably have to be… First I know it’s gonna have to be Travis, I love the way Travis Scott performs. That was one of my first concerts. That dude’s crazy, energy insane. So definitely Travis…the second would probably be… probably be Brent Faiyaz I really like Brent Faiyaz.

CSM: Ok so we’ve got new music coming out for you sometime, is there anything else in the horizons that you’ve got planned?

TC: I just know it’s gonna be new music. A lot of people gonna hear it, a lot of people gonna love it. I’m just focused on that right now.
CSM: Anything else you want to let all your fans know, all your new listeners know?

TC: Just keep an eye out for new music. This whole thing is just getting started.

CSM: Well I’m excited. Keep manifesting! Wait, how do you go about your manifesting?

TC: Gotta write it down, it’s scripture. So you write it down on paper, write it down on a board, write it down every day, daydream about it. I literally live there. That’s how you make it happen.

CSM: I love this. Thank you for taking time out of your day, and we look forward to hearing more from you!

You can stream “Dinero” here, and be sure to keep an eye out for what’s next to come for Trinidad Cardona!


Artist Interview: Jxckson

Jxckson, an up-and-coming independent pop artist in the Austin music scene, sat down to talk with Crowdsurfer about his music and what’s in store this year. Take a look at the interview below.

Photos by Gaby Deimeke

Crowdsurfer: For our readers that might not know, give us a background on how you got started with music and why it’s so important to you.

Jxckson: Hey everyone, my name is Jxckson and I’m a pop artist based out of Austin, Texas. I’ve been singing and dancing since the age of 2, maybe even before that. From choir competitions to dance classes, music has been essential to my identity from the start. Now I’ve reached this point in my life, where I don’t want music to take a backseat anymore. I’ve learned that writing and recording music through the lens of being Jxckson now has fed my creative appetite… and now I’m hungry for more. 

CS: What is your songwriting process like? Where do you come up with inspiration?

J: I’m actually a pretty visual thinker. I always start with what I want the overall mood of the song to be and visualize what a music video or a high-production performance would look like. It sort of fuels my creative energy so I’m able to start writing. From there, that usually sparks lyrics to tell the story that I see visually playing out in my head. I always thought it was an odd way to write, but recently I saw a tweet from singer/songwriter KAMILLE that she writes songs in a similar fashion. Makes me feel like I just might be on the right path.

CS: What’s your recording process like?

J: I record all my music at Orb Recording Studio here in Austin with my sound engineer Victor Gaspar. We connected through a mutual friend and thank god for that. He’s crucial to the recording process because he knows how to get the best vocal performance out of me. He knows when I’m just singing without actually thinking or connecting to the lyrics. For me it’s not about getting the vocals perfect, it’s about the character behind it. Does it feel like I’m having a conversation with the listener? He understands that’s what I want in my recordings and makes sure I deliver. I always leave the studio feeling creatively re-energized.

CS: Who are your favorite musical influences and who would you love to collab with?

J: Favorite musical influences would have to be Tinashe, Lily Allen, The Pussycat Dolls, Britney Spears, Billie Eilish and a lot of KPop artists – Sunmi to be more specific. Lately, I’ve also been inspired by Doja Cat and Bree Runway. I’m just so fascinated by artists who have an alluring presence about them. It transcends the music and becomes an experience. I want to learn how to capture that experience for myself and anyone who listens to my music. If I had to pick an artist to collab with, I’d have to go with Tinashe. Her vibe is just so effortlessly cool and I would just lose my mind if I had a chance to even do a single 8-count with her. I can barely handle it in my own imagination. 

CS: What has the response been to your new music?

J: I released my debut EP, Paradox recently and the initial response has been simply incredible! Having people, other artists especially, reach out to let me know how they connected with the lyrics has been a highlight for me. It’s almost overwhelming, because I very much am still the new kid. I still feel like I’m in my infancy of my career and just about to take my first actual steps. So the fact people take the time to listen to my music and share it, has me feel really lucky and honored. Not everyone gets the luxury to do what they love. 

CS: What’s your 2021 look like–what are your plans for this year and what are you looking to work on?

J: Considering I officially kicked things off late 2019, most of my time spent as an artist has been in quarantine. Which gave me an opportunity to write more and connect with artists all across the world. I’ve done virtual performances, so a huge item on my ‘to do’ list is a real live performance. I have a few collaborations coming out in June, which is exciting to provide even more music following my debut EP. I’ve started writing music for my 2nd EP, and would say I’m about a quarter of a ways done with the writing process. I have plans to focus on more songwriting this summer – so a lot more to come! 

CS: Anything else you’d like to mention?

J: Please check out my cover of t.A.T.u.’s “Malchik Gay” for the “Power to the Queer Kids, VOL 3” charity album out June 4th. For the past 3 years artist Zach Benson and his friends Tori Leche and Maggie Fraser have created a compilation album of music from LGBTQ artists called “Power to the Queer Kids”. The compilation consists of cover songs and raise money for the Trevor Project with all proceeds going towards suicide prevention resources for LGBTQ+ youth.


Artist Interview: James TW

An addictive guitar riff, strong drum rhythm and lyrics addressing a past lover, “Butterflies” touches on the yearning for a past lover though things have already ended.

James TW began his music career at the ripe age of 10 years old, moonlighting as a drummer in his father’s wedding band. At the age of 12, he started his own YouTube channel posting covers and gaining the attention of Shawn Mendes and record label Island Records in 2015. His song “When You Love Someone” has over 500 million streams with platinum certification in the UK and gold in the US. Following his album Chapters in 2019, James was on hiatus for two years until his latest release “Butterflies”. We had the pleasure of getting an interview with James and being able to talk about his work and plans for the future. 

CROWDSURFER MAGAZINE: Tell us a bit about the song.

JAMES TW: “Butterflies” was an interesting song for me because it took me the longest to write out of any song I’ve ever written. It took me two years to finish the song, usually I finish songs in two to three hours. 

I wrote the song backwards. Usually, I start by coming up with a concept or lyric. Something to write about and I use that as the end goal to move towards. This time I sat down and came up with a guitar riff and it was infectious. I started writing melodies and the last thing I had to do was come up with the lyrics. 

I tried writing it one time with these two writers called Red Triangle. We wrote a song called “X-Ray” which was a completely different thing. With “Butterflies”, it felt like the energy’s there, the dynamic of the track, but it’s not saying anything. There’s no story behind this. We went back in and this was the first time I’d written a song over zoom. We knocked out butterflies.

CSM: Since you’re releasing more music this year, what can we look forward to? 

JAMES TW: “Butterflies” is the first of a couple of singles that will come before a bigger body of work and that’s all I’m allowed to say right now.

CSM: So you sometimes write songs based on comments on TikTok or with your fans with the Song in 30 minutes challenge. How did this concept come about?

JAMES TW: I think that was a lock down thing. I think as soon as artists couldn’t perform live anymore. We have this desire to connect with the people who listen to our music and see what it means to them in person rather than over the internet. I wanted to jump onto that wagon, perform live, and do something that was different than songs that were already released. I liked the idea of a challenge and the inclusiveness of writing a song with your fans. The Song in 30 was the first thing we did and the first song we wrote was actually a really good song. They were as involved as I was and that was the way I wanted it to be. 

On TikTok, it’s just the same kind of thing but in a smaller setting. You only have a minute instead of an hour. People send funny, stupid ideas and it just lets you exercise that song writing muscle in a completely informal and unprofessional way, which is fun.

CSM: Will we ever hear any of those songs in the future, possibly as a single?

JAMES TW: Maybe. I’ve definitely thought of playing them live. Talking about the story behind it and who knows maybe some of the fans in the audience might have been involved in writing it but I don’t know if I’m going to record them or not. I’m not sure.

Was there one in particular that you liked?

CSM: I like “1975”.

JAMES TW: That’s my favorite one too. I don’t know, maybe. We’d have to figure out how to split royalties.

CSM: With your fans?

JAMES TW: Yeah, there were a lot of people in that livestream.

CSM: How has your creative process changed due to the pandemic?

JAMES TW: The distance you get over technology and online, it’s apparent. Some people hate it, some people can get past it. I think I don’t hate it but I don’t love it. 

Sometimes when you’re in a songwriting session and you’re in a room with people who are all trying to deliver melodies, lyrics, and ideas at the same time. You can fall into this head space where it’s like ‘I have to do something I’m under pressure’. That’s not how to get the best out of me. I don’t do well under pressure in those situations. 

So what’s been quite nice over Zoom is when I’m not quite feeling it and need some introvert alone time. We can just press the red button and have just like 30 minutes for me to be in my own room with no one else. Which doesn’t usually happen and would be weird to ask for in-person. So that has allowed me to reset during sessions where, maybe for the rest of the day, I would have been thrown off due to this pressure. I can kind of take the time for myself to come back in with ideas that I’ve manifested and developed on my own so I think it’s changed in that respect. Also I don’t have to travel to a studio anymore and can just kind of roll out of bed with my pajamas on the bottom half and write songs like that which is fun.

I think sometimes I might consider doing Zoom sessions now. Not the whole time but may be like 80/20, if it’s a long distance travel or even if it’s in another country. 

CSM: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

JAMES TW: That’s really tough. I think my favorite piece of advice is from my granddad, my dad’s dad. He always tells me before I say goodbye to him, ‘Just be James.’ I love that because he’s just saying to be natural, be you. That’s who you should believe in, that’s who should be and you shouldn’t try to be anyone else.

In an industry, when sometimes you think that you have to be like someone else or you look at other people that are doing well and then you look at yourself. It’s easy to fall into traps like that, so maybe it’s a boring quote but it means a lot to me.

CSM: What are some hobbies you’ve picked up during the pandemic?

JAMES TW: I really love video games. I play with a bunch of friends most evenings and that’s been really nice because it’s been a way of socializing without being in person. That’s been really fun. 

I’ve got into looking after myself even since the break up that happened last year and that’s what all of these songs are gonna be about.

I kind of got out of that and really wanted to change my body. I was quite underweight and had been a lot of my adult life. I got in the gym then the pandemic hit and then I was like “damn, I can’t lift weights or anything”. But I discovered this whole world of calisthenics which is like body weight training and there are some really difficult skills you can learn like handstand push ups, crazy pull ups and stuff. So I’ve been going to public parks and working out there and that’s been a whole new discovery purely because of the pandemic. I would have just stayed in a gym and lifted weights otherwise, so that’s been amazing. 

I’ve also started reading a little bit, still prefer to watch video and take in information that way though. I’ve also been journaling and checking in with myself and just doing things that make me feel good. 

CSM: Lastly, what would you like to tell your fans?

JAMES TW: Firstly, I would like to say thank you for your patience. It’s been two years since anything has happened and I know a lot of them have stuck by me and rinsed and repeated tracks from my first album, which is amazing of them. I just want to tell them that I’m really proud of this new music. I think it’s a development of my sound and of my writing. I am more mature than I was when I released my last album and I think I want to be more present so I can enjoy it more with them than I was with any music before.

A big thank you to the team at Island Records for setting up this interview!

And an even bigger thank you to James for taking the time out of his day to speak with us! We can’t wait to hear how his sound changes and develops further!

Stream Butterflies here!


Artist Interview: Zak Abel

‘To each their own’ references how everyone has the right to their own personal preferences and Zak Abel highlights this idiom in his newest single, ‘Be Kind’. 

Hailing from Hendon in North West London, this singer-songwriter has been writing songs since the ripe age of 14. His European tour was sold out and his music’s reach has broadened globally reaching fans in Southeast Asia. His most notable collaboration is with artist Kygo in which he wrote and featured on the track ‘Freedom’ which amassed over 79 million streams on Spotify.

His newest track ‘Be Kind’ itself is an upbeat song with an extremely memorable melody and a striking sense of optimism in its sound. The most impressive part of the song is its bridge where it pulls back the instruments and allows Abel’s vocals to shine through supported by choir-esque vocals in the background. 

I’ll let the artist explain the inspiration for the song himself.

Zak Abel: The song was written last year when I was in LA. It was actually the first time that I had written in America. And I wrote it at a time, where there was so much divisiveness and intolerance, especially on social media. 

I was just like “Man, I really wish we could be more kind to each other” especially towards people who might have different experiences of life to us. 

Those things [different experiences] aren’t very important.

The quality of your character is the most important thing. So let’s just be kind to each other.

CSM: Where is the first place you would perform once restrictions are lifted?

ZA: I think there’s an obvious answer here and that’s the US. So much of my favorite music has come from the US. When I think of 70’s Funk and Soul, it’s all basically just American music. I would just love to experience that for myself. 

I’ve also never actually toured in the US so to be able to do that would be amazing.

CSM: What is your favorite song to perform?

ZA: I know my label would love me to say ‘Be Kind’. Actually, “Be Kind’, I think the La, la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la

Having the crowd sing that and being able to adlib over that would be pretty dope.

CSM: What are some hobbies that you have gained due to the pandemic?

ZA: Before the pandemic, I was doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is essentially rolling around and hugging strange men for an hour or so. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do that.

However, there’s a game on Playstation 4 called Overcooked, probably the best game ever created. Me and my flatmates try to complete all the levels. Once you’ve completed all the levels, there’s the white star which you can get which basically tells the world that you’re a huge nerd. So we are just trying to be the biggest nerds that we can possibly be and properly beat the game.

CSM: How has your writing process changed due to the pandemic?

ZA: It has resulted in most of my writing sessions being done over Zoom. Also when I’m recording, I’m recording in my bedroom or my living room.

Actually half of the vocal on “Be Kind” was recorded in the living room. Which is cool.

I was also working with the producer in LA and he was controlling my screen over Zoom. Controlling my computer, engineering my vocal. Just amazing. 

It has honestly opened my eyes to what can be achieved without being in the same room as someone.

CSM: So you have an upcoming album. How is this album different from the previous ones?

ZA: I can’t say too much because I’m still working on it. But I think it’s more soulful in terms of the production style and also in terms of what I’m doing vocally.

Also from a song writing point of view, I’m challenging myself more in terms of depth in the lyrics. 

I really like the album so far and I can’t wait for people to hear it!

CSM: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve got from somebody?

ZA: The best piece of advice that I ever got was to define your own criteria for success in music. 

I come from a sporting background. I used to play table tennis for England and it’s very easy to know when you’ve won. You’ve won the tournament, it’s done. 

With music, it’s not so simple. What’s better? A number one single or Bon Iver’s first album. They’re both great but for different reasons and different sets of criteria.

Define your own criteria for success otherwise it gets complicated.

CSM: Lastly, what would you like to tell your fans, the Zak Pack?

ZA: I love you! I appreciate you! And I am so excited to see you all hopefully when all of this is over.

Thank you Zak for taking the time out of your day to do this interview! Also, a big thank you to the team at Island Records for setting the whole thing up! 

Be sure to listen to ‘Be Kind“, if you haven’t already! With more singles on the way, we can’t wait to hear more of Abel’s new music!

Interviews Uncategorized

Artist Interview: Cassie Dasilva

This week, we sat down with Cassie Dasilva to chat about her new single, her writing process, and her plans for the future. Check it out below.

Crowdsurfer: Give us a background on how you got started with music.

Cassie Dasilva: I started out as a really shy kid taking piano lessons and performing in recitals from a young age. I got a guitar for Christmas in grade eight, and taught myself a song that same day– literally playing until my fingers bled.  I always loved writing poems and lyrics in my fuzzy pink notebook, but once I had a guitar, I really started to fall in love with songwriting. I played my songs in highschool talent shows, local open mics, and opened for some smaller shows that came to town. 

CD: I moved across the country to study audio engineering and music production in Vancouver. Afterwards, I split my time between multiple part-time jobs, and gigging with my acoustic in any pub, restaurant or wedding that would have me.  I ended up busking downtown Vancouver for a while, eventually making enough in tips to quit all my other jobs, before moving back home to Ontario.

Back home again, I went to Canadian Music Week in 2018 with some friends, and found myself singing at an impromptu Universal Canada jam night. I was signed shortly after (initially as a folk-pop act).  I’d started writing EDM toplines and pop songs for other artists by then, and that led to my eventual love for/ transition into pop music and my first label releases.

CS: What is your songwriting process like and where do you come up with inspiration for your lyrics?

CD: I’m mostly inspired when I’m trying to process or deal with something, but I’m also always listening to everyone around me and writing notes in my phone with certain phrases and circumstances that I find interesting or can relate to.  I usually start with lyrics– I like to write a few lines and then twist them into melodies. I approach writing kind of like making a puzzle– fitting pieces together until suddenly the picture starts making sense and everything just fits and has a place. 

CS: How has TikTok changed the trajectory of your career?

CD: TikTok has been AMAZING. I went from having under 100 followers to 20K  and over 1M views almost overnight– just crazy. I can’t believe the response to “Unsolicited Contact” on there and what it’s done for me.  I’m excited to be reaching more people, and thankful for every single interaction, comment, and message I’ve received. It blows my mind that people are not only leaving the app to go listen, but liking the song enough to add it to their playlists/ follow me/ send me kind messages. I’m doing things completely independently right now (which can be trying, to say the least). I’ve questioned if I’m on the right path so many times over the past few years, so this sort of positive reinforcement from complete strangers all over the world has been life-changing for me as an artist. 

CS: What has the response been to your new single?

CD: I’m blown away by the support this song is getting.  I get so many messages from people thanking me for writing the song, saying how much they can relate, or even that it gave them the courage to block their ex. When we were recording the song, I kept saying that I wanted it to be a song that people screamed in the car with their friends, and now I’m getting messages from people saying that’s exactly what they’re doing. It’s wild!

CS: Tell us about working with an all-female team and why it was important for you to do that.

CD: When I was signed, I found myself working with a team of mostly men. It was difficult at times to explain my point of view, or see my perspective mirrored in those around me.  I’d been one of only five females enrolled when I went to recording school, and afterwards found myself in a network and industry completely dominated by men– which was at times intimidating and confusing as a young woman. I worked entirely with male producers, and attended writing camps where I was the only female. After I was dropped from the label, I just felt like I needed to consciously explore other avenues, including working with other women in the industry, especially on production.

CS: Tell us about creative directing your music video (we love the pink vintage aesthetic!)

CD: I started envisioning this video from the moment I wrote the song, and knew exactly what I wanted it to look like. I was writing and revising outlines for months leading up to shooting, handmade a ton of the props, art-designed, and even styled the entire cast.  Though I almost lost my mind taking it all on, I’m so glad I did because it feels so authentic this way. I was completely comfortable on set because I knew exactly how I wanted everything to look and feel ! I’m so thankful that the director, Kate Harrison, was willing to take on the project and bring all of my ideas to fruition!  It’s my “New Rules” meets “Scream Queens” meets “Euphoria” dreamscape. 

CS: Who are your musical inspirations?

CD: I’m a lyrics person through and through, and I’ve always been drawn to storytellers.  Taylor Swift, Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, John Mayer, and Winnetka Bowling League are a few of my favourites. 

CS: What’s your 2021 look like–what are your plans for this year and beyond?

CD: I’m releasing more singles throughout the year, and an eventual EP that I’m REALLY excited about! In the meantime, I’m writing more music, and I hope that post-global pandemic I can get a tour spot and play my songs for people in REAL LIFE. I am really missing performing and connecting with people that way, so I’m looking forward to getting back out on stage.  

CS: Anything else you’d like to mention?

CD: Just want to say thanks for having me!! Oh, and please go stream/ watch the video for “Unsolicited Contact”, and follow me on socials @cassiedasilva! I’ve put my whole heart into this project and I’m doing it on my own terms, so any support truly means the world! 


Artist Interview: LIVVIA

Rising Pop artist LIVVIA is an artist to keep your eye on. You may have heard her previous hits in the last few years – “Damn,” “OXO,” and “Parachute,” or maybe you recently saw her opening for the Jonas Brothers on their Happiness Begins Tour. But if you haven’t, now’s your chance to get on board! The up-and-coming star put out a new single called “Monster” a few months ago, and we finally got to chat with her about it.

CROWDSURFER MAG: Your latest single “Monster” came out back in October, and I loved the music video so much I had to talk about it. When did you decide you wanted to make it more of a film? And would you want to make another like it in the future? 

LIVVIA: I’m so happy you loved it! It’s my favorite creative accomplishment to date. I would absolutely love to do another video of the sort. I’m always involved in the behind-the-scenes aspects of my music videos and visuals, but this was my first time officially directing. It turned out almost exactly — even better — than I hoped and planned. I decided to make it more of a movie when I thought of the murder mystery storyline. The opening scene that sets up the story came to mind instantly. The amazing cast — Chris Pang, Skyler Samuels, Lukas Gage, Michele Selene Ang, Emily Tosta, and Deric Augustine — brought it to life so incredibly. It was an honor to work with them. I’m such a fan of them and their work. 

CSM: Did you help with making the storyline of the murder mystery and how everyone was going to disappear?

L: Yes! I planned the entire storyline and wrote a script that followed the lyrics line-by-line. I went to the location two separate times before our shoot date and filmed reference shots on my phone of camera movement for the scenes. 

CSM: Tell me a little bit about the inspiration for “Monster.”

L: We wrote this song at a writers camp in Nashville last year. It’s about people who try to twist the story to make you look like the bad guy, when the true villain was the wrongful accuser all along. I want this song to encourage people to let the truth speak for itself and not allow someone else’s stories to make them question their own character. Trust your instincts, and if others are determined to fall for the facade, trust that all will be revealed in the end.

CSM: You released another single and an EP in 2020! Which one of those songs is your favorite?

L: “Monster”! My favorite always tends to be my latest release. And I’m always excited about the next thing. 

CSM: And now it’s 2021! Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?

L: A couple years ago, I jumped in the water right after midnight after some convincing and jokingly made a resolution to jump in a body of water whenever the opportunity presented itself. It turned out to be the best resolution and I repeated it the following year. I like resolutions that are fun like that, but also good metaphors. This year, I think we should all be gentle to ourselves. My main resolution is to learn what I need to learn from all situations that arise — and those from the past — so I can move on fully. 

CSM: Can you tell us about any upcoming music you have for us?

L: There is a collaboration in the works! But I can’t reveal my collaborator yet. I’m so excited for you to hear it. 

CSM: What kind of impact do you want to make with your music?

L: I want to inspire and empower as many people as possible with my music, tell stories people can relate and aspire to, and be a part of the soundtrack to people’s lives. 

CSM: I know things are still up in the air because of the pandemic, but what are your goals for this year?

L: I have a secret project I’ve wanted to take action on for a while and I’ve used this time to take significant strides in the direction of that goal. I hope to make as much progress as possible this year. 

CSM: I’m hoping we’ll be able to get back to touring soon… so while we’re thinking about that, do you have a favorite memory on tour?

L: Too many to count! I feel so lucky that the last thing I did before lockdown was open for the Jonas Brothers on their Happiness Begins Tour. I’m so grateful those dates weren’t canceled. Being a part of that tour was beyond a dream come true. I am a huge Jonas fan myself – they’re some of my favorite people, and I absolutely love performing for an audience of Jonas fans because I feel so comfortable. It feels like I’m there with a bunch of friends because we’re all Jonas fans. 

CSM: Anything else you want us to know?

L: Feel free to reach out @livvia! I love hearing from everyone! And I would love it if everyone reading this would go watch the “Monster” music video. I couldn’t love it more.

Photo by Sarah Krick


Artist Interview: Bri Zoli

Artist to watch Bri Zoli is new to your Spotify playlist, but she’s not  new to the stage. She’s a classically trained flutist and vocalist  who has performed across the globe and has finally put out music  she can call her own. She released her first two singles last year,  and her angelic voice and emotional melodies are here to stay.  We were happy to get to talk to her at the start of this new year! 

CROWDSURFER MAG: You put out your first two songs ever in  2020 – 

BRI ZOLI: What a year, what a year. 

CSM: Exactly. But how does it feel to be releasing music? 

BZ: It’s great! I’ve been working on music for years and years. I  just felt like the time was right for me in 2020. I felt like I was able  to finally super focus on my music and it just felt like the right  time to put it out for me, personally. 

CSM: And “Lullaby” is your most recent single. What was the  inspiration for that song? 

BZ: So the vibe of that is definitely different from “Your Eyes  Only,” which is my first single that I put out in June. “Lullaby” is  kind of like a haunting, whisper-type track. It’s a vibe that I feel  like I’ve been wanting to create for so long and I never knew how  to put it into words. I think with “Lullaby” I really wanted to get  out that poetic, melodic, haunting song, and I think we’ve really  kind of hit the nail on the head there. 

CSM: We watched the music video for “Lullaby,” too! You’re also  a model, so how did having that experience play out for you in  your music video? 

BZ: So my boyfriend is actually a photographer and videographer. We met on a shoot a couple of years ago, so we’ve been  collaborating on shoots and videos just for fun throughout the  years. So obviously I was like, this is perfect, we can just do our  thing, but it’d be music video! But the thing no one tells you is it’s  so much work! I did all the post-production myself, so I was like, this takes so much time! But it was an amazing experience.

CSM: We’ve been talking to so many people this last year who  decided to learn how to do everything themselves! 

BZ: You kind of have to these days! We have all the things we  need to be able to do it, so why not just do it all? 

And continuing to speak of skills, you not only have modeling  experience, but you also grew up in music! How has that  influenced your songs today? 

BZ: So I grew up classically trained in flute and voice, and it was  like my whole life. I think growing up in that world – I was in an  orchestra and just playing with the world’s greatest composers  and constantly being around that kind of music – I think it really  

influenced me, and I think that also influenced “Lullaby” in those  beautiful, harmonic big choruses and all the instrumentals that  went into that. I think my personal style is very much emotional in  that way, so I really appreciate all those lessons and just  constantly being around music because I think it really helped  prepare me for being an artist. 

CSM: What’s your writing process like? 

BZ: If I’m just doing something about myself and I’m inspired, I’ll  sit at the piano and just play something and then melodies come  to me. I rarely start with an idea first, it’s kind of like “this sounds  cool” and then I’ll do a melody and then whatever comes to me.  And it’s kind of the same when I work with producers! 

CSM: How did you stage name come about? 

BZ: So this was something that I was literally harping on for years! For me, my stage name has to have a meaning and make sense. I  wanted to keep “Bri” because you know, that’s my my first name,  

but I didn’t want to use my last name. So I’m Hungarian, my  mom’s a hundred percent Hungarian, and she was gonna name  me Zoltana because her father’s name was Zoltan. And I’ve always  loved that name. And I was like, Mom, why didn’t you name me  that, that would have been so cool! And my nickname would have  been Zoli, which is what I decided to be the second half of my name. What could be more perfect to honor who I could have  been and can be?

CSM: Did going through quarantine and lockdown and all of that  help you grow in your music? 

BZ: Absolutely. Being able to collaborate virtually with other  artists has actually been amazing, and having that time I wouldn’t  have had before, I’ve been able to focus so much more. I feel like  this year I probably wrote more songs than the last couple of  years! 

CSM: What can we look forward to from you this year? 

BZ: So I have my third single coming out soon, it’s going to be  called “Faling.” It’s going to be different from the first two, it’ll be  grungier and moodier, I’m really excited about it. And then after  that my EP will probably be coming out in late 2021! 

CSM: I’m excited for that! Did you make a New Year’s  Resolution? 

BZ: I think to be not as hard on myself, to stop overthinking  things, and just go with my creative process. If I write something,  and I like it, it’s better to just put it out in the world than to refine  it millions and millions of times. 

CSM: I think we could all use a little more of that mentality. If  you like it, go for it! I saw you joined the Game of Thrones  bandwagon, even though we’re all off of it? 

BZ: I actually really love it! The funny thing is I watched the finale  first and I was so confused, I was like, why do people like this? But  now I’ve started from the beginning and I totally get it. So that will  be my 2021 guilty pleasure. 

Well, thanks for taking time to talk to us today! 

BZ: Thank you so much! 

Take a listen to “Lullaby,” and keep your eyes out for Bri Zoli’s  next single!

Interviews Videos

PUBLIC is Our Splash of Sun in New Single “Splash”

Comprised of Cincinnati, Ohio natives John Vaugh, Ben Lapps, and Matthew Carter Alvarado,  PUBLIC began their musical careers in 2012 with their first EP Red. They’ve played for major festivals such as Forecastle, CMJ, and SXSW and are recognized for their TikTok famous song “Make You Mine”. 

PUBLIC’s newest single “Splash” features a funky bassline and a strong catchy pre-chorus that according to some listeners can sound like “drown your best friend and eat your parents” but still catchy all the same. 

Though the actual lyrics “charm your best friend and meet your parents” are not nearly as morbid, according to PUBLIC themselves, this upbeat and lively tune came about during a tough time in their lives.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

CROWDSURFER:  What was your inspiration for “Splash”?

Matthew Carter Alvarado, Bass, Synth, and Vocal: The initial idea for “Splash” came about in January 2018. The band had been going through a rough patch – we were wearing ourselves thin grinding on tour, didn’t have a team other than our parents and each other, and we weren’t quite sure how much longer we could maintain our career for.

On the way to the recording studio, I recorded an unintelligible voice memo of what would become the chorus melodies for the song, the only coherent words being “Splash of Sun”.

Fast forward to 2020 and that same idea still seemed both relevant and relatable. Instead of dwelling on the inability to grasp what the future held, we wanted to twist that dark idea into something vibrant and joyful, finding energy and hope in the prospect of someone or something bringing a light to our lives.

CS: What was the process like making this single? Was it one that seemed to write itself or did it seem to take more thought?

Matthew Carter Alvarado: Compared to co-writes we had done in the same room as other songwriters and producers, we had definitely felt some difficulty finding our groove when trying to coordinate across our computer screens. However, when it came time to write with producer and now close friend, Lindgren, we immediately felt like we were on the same page.

As the band boys went about diving into the vocal melodies and themes, Lindgren was on the other end composing the instrumental demo of the track. I think it was the first time we had felt both relieved and excited to have so much chemistry across a platform like Zoom that had once seemed so flat and lifeless. 

It was a giant breath of fresh air having a product come together so quickly and effortlessly and gave us a good kick in the right direction, both mentally and emotionally, for future co-writing opportunities.

CS: How has quarantine been treating you? How has creating music changed during a global pandemic? 

Ben Lapps, Percussion: It feels very strange to be at home for such a long period of time! 

We have practically lived on the road for years, so we’ve definitely had to adjust during the quarantine. Personally, it has been very good to be home spending quality time with my wife, Phoebe. In that way, it feels like a special time. But at the same time, we absolutely miss being able to play live shows and see our fans. 

Creating music has been a very different experience. We are basically writing everything over Zoom. Our newest single, Splash, is actually a song that we wrote over Zoom. It has actually given us more opportunities to work with people all over the world. Never would have guessed that we would be doing so much writing this way, but after a few sessions, I feel like we really started to understand how to make it work.

CS: What is a message you would like to give your fans?

John Vaughn, Guitar and Lead Vocal: First, I want to thank them for being supportive. Pretty typical, I know, but as an artist, it really does mean the world. It’s not something I think you can understand if you haven’t gone through the grind. But our fans really mean the world. We love them and we want to keep giving music that makes them smile.

With that note, be sure to watch PUBLIC’s music video for “Splash”!

And a big thank you to PUBLIC for taking the time out of their day to answer our interview questions!