Artist Paco and our music curator Sonca Nguyen are quite the talented pair. Paco is a singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, while Sonca is a songwriter, producer, and engineer. Put the two together and they’re bound to make great music. As we do these days, we all talked together, but separately, through a video call to discuss new music and a new label!
CROWDSURFER: Paco, you have had a couple of exciting announcements recently! The first being your new single, “Cold Love,” which comes out June 5th. How are you feeling?
PACO: I am excited! Not a lot of people know but I’ve had this song for about two years. So it’s been a minute, and I’m ready.
CS: Did the song change much in the last two years?
P: Initially, I was ready to put it out and ready to get started. But Brian Owens, my mentor, was like, “Wait, let’s develop it.” The lyrics, melody, all that didn’t change much; the essence was still there. I had some co-production and arrangement from Sonca, who first was just a friend and collaborator, but now is like my lifeline and partner in music. As well as additional co-production, drum programming, and counter melodies from Courtney (JR) Orlando, a Grammy Award Winning Producer and mentor of mine!
CS: And your other announcement is that you and Sonca created Crush Records as a branch of Life Creative Group. First, congrats! Second, when did you decide you wanted to make your own label?
SONCA: It was kind of random. When we first pitched this idea of Cold Love as a single, we pitched it to Brian Owens, the owner of Life Creative. He said, Let’s do it, but instead, do it as your own label.” So, we didn’t even have the idea to create a label intentionally, it just kind of happened because Brian made us realize we were doing everything a label was doing anyways and pushed us to go for it ourselves.
CS: What does Crush Records mean to you?
S: It puts in perspective what I want to do and makes other people take me seriously. Crush is an outlet for us to start a community where we can develop artists the same way we’ve done for Paco. I love the whole process of it, and I want to do it for other people. So, this means that I get to do this forever. And having this name under me gives me more opportunities.
P: It was kind of always the vision to start a label. To me it was just like, shoot, I can do that. It means that one, we’re business owners and that’s amazing, and two, we get to kind of help develop other people and do what we’ve just done. So as other artists come through the ranks we’ll get to write, produce, develop them as well. So that’s exciting.
S: That’s the best part! Working with people is my favorite part besides all the business stuff. And this is what Brian told us. He said, “I just want you guys to do this thing and then give back, give other people these opportunities.” And we were like, oh, absolutely.
CS: As we said, Crush Records is a subset of Life Creative Group. Paco, you’ve been with Life Arts and Life Creative for a while now. How has working with them impacted you?
P: Working with Brian and a non-profit organization such as Life Arts has legitimately given my life direction. Life Creative Group, the creative extension of Life Arts, was just what I needed musically to get my head in the right place.I was dropping out of college, not sure what to do, and I reached out to Brian on Facebook because a friend advised me to, and that’s how we connected. And eventually, I started working in a therapeutic songwriting program and I would produce the songs that they made in the program. Now I’m working with the non-profit side, still working with the therapeutic songwriting program, still working with kids from the Ferguson/Florissant area… but we’re also building the for-profit side now.
CS: Life Creative sounds like a great place to grow that’s full of support.
P: I’m very much a loner and an introvert, and I don’t feel a sense of family many places at all. But I do with these people. Just because they’ve invested so much in me and vice versa.
CS: Anything else you want us to know?
P: I’m not the only artist under Life Creative, so I want to shine a light on some of my peers. Christopher Daniel, who I produce for, and Malena Smith, who’s like a new Norah Jones. We have a couple artists coming out, and hopefully we’ll have a next generation coming behind me soon!
CS: We’ll keep our eyes out! Thanks for talking with us!
Be ready to listen to Paco’s single “Cold Love” on June 5th, and check out the promo video for a sneak peak at the song in the meantime!
Concert photographers Beth Saravo and Maggie Friedman have been spending their quarantine doing a lot more than binge watching Netflix like the rest of us. When all concerts were cancelled for the foreseeable future, they decided to take their industry knowledge and music network and with their combined expertise, they created an online interview-style show for creatives and artists alike.
The new project, titled Real[m] (we’ll tell you why in the interview) is an informal conversation and Q&A with photographers, musicians, creatives and industry professionals, hosted of course by Maggie and Beth. We had a chance to chat with them about their exciting new endeavor and their upcoming guests this week. Check out the interview below.
Crowdsurfer: When did you guys conceptualize the idea to do an interview-style show?
Maggie: When the whole quarantine thing happened, I’m the type of person that needs a project to work on. I just keep myself busy or I go crazy. Beth and I really both agree on the fact that we both love working. So I was thinking, “Oh, what can I do?” So I decided to do an Instagram live every single day with some friends and we’ll just chat about photography. I didn’t really expect to be a project. It just was something that I could do every day to keep me busy.
So I did it for a few episodes. And then I messaged Beth and I was like, “Hey, it would be really cool if you did this with me. And she was like, “Cool, let’s do it next week.” And then I got really sick and I kind of stopped doing it. And then a couple weeks later, when I was feeling better, I texted her and I said, “OK, look, I really want to start this up again.” And she said, “Well, what if we did an interview series together?”
Beth: For me, I didn’t want it to be questions that you always hear. I wanted the questions to be a little bit deeper than, “When was your first show? Who’s your favorite band?” I want someone who’s not even a music photographer to come in and sit down and say, “Hey, this is interesting because her story is so cool or his process is so different or it gives me the tools to be creative.”
And the community base, just because we are reaching out to people in our community, people who literally inspire us and inspire others, and that’s what makes this thing grow. Even last week we had two guests with really large communities come and they’d stay and overflow and maybe they listen to someone that they’ve never even heard about. And that’s kind of the goal in my head.
Crowdsurfer: How’d you come up with the name Real[m]?
Maggie: Anyone who’s ever started any kind of brand or business or anything can relate that naming is probably the hardest thing ever. It has to be catchy enough that people remember it, but it also makes sense to what you’re doing. And it just has to be perfect, essentially. And we were listing our words on a Google doc and Beth said the word “realm.”
And I said, “What if the the ‘M’ is like the manual sign on a camera because we’re both photographers?” And the synonym for realm was human connection. So it has a double meaning of like it’s a realm of creatives, but it’s also about human connection. So somehow we managed to find a word that encompassed everything that we were trying to promote. And I don’t know how we did it, but I’m really proud of it.
Crowdsurfer: The logo is really cool, too. Are there any hidden things or meanings you have in the logo?
Beth: There is one of my photo laminates in there. Also there is a Photoshop screen open which we liked.
Maggie: Beth also uploaded a festival wristband. So if you look on the top right corner, there’s a festival wristband right in the corner and that was kind of a fun Easter egg.
Crowdsurfer: After almost your first month of shows, what’s it been like to hear all the initial feedback and excitement for the show so far?
Maggie: We’ve had such amazing, informative and supportive chats with people and it’s been such an amazing opportunity to connect people with each other and show people that we’re all in this together. The first week we talked to Jake Chams and he was like, “I’m not immune to this either. I had tours get canceled. I’m sitting at home, too, like we’re all experiencing the same thing right now,” which in my opinion showed we are all on the same level right now; we’re all on the same page. It helped to further foster that community and trust.
Crowdsurfer: What is the concept for the show and where do you see Realm going in the future?
Maggie: Our whole concept is we want people to learn in an approachable way. We also want people who aren’t concert photographers to be on it. We want it to be all different types of creatives, all different types of people in the music industry. Honestly, there hasn’t been a week where I haven’t walked away feeling like I learned something, too. And I think the biggest thing we really wanted was for it to feel accessible and interactive, like we wanted the people who were watching to feel like what they were saying and their input and what they had to ask was equally as important as what we were asking. We wanted it to be that if you had a question for that person, here is your opportunity to get that question answered. So we’re thinking about how can we be interviewers that think outside of the box and involve people in a way that not only photographers are going to care about this, but anyone who’s watching this can.
Crowdsurfer: Who do you have on the show this week?
Beth: This week is really good. I’m super stoked. We’re starting with Steve Sweatpants. He is an iconic photographer in New York City. He began back with street photography when going underground and then roof topping was a really big thing. And he he started Street Dreams Magazine, which was a really iconic magazine within that culture. And he’s a Sony partner, and Emmy nominated videographer. So I want to have a professional conversation with him, like I know you’re just a kid with the camera going around, literally shooting the street. tell us about how you made that marketable.
And then second, we have Sam Miller, who was the lead singer for Paradise Fears, and now he has released his second novel, and it is a New York Times best seller. We’re going to talk to him about how he uses music in his writing and all that fun stuff.
Then lastly, we’re talking to Miranda McDonald, who is an amazing female in the industry in Los Angeles, shooting a lot for Shawn Mendes and Julia Michaels.
Crowdsurfer: How can people check it out and get involved?
Maggie: Go to twitch.tv/realmchat for the live shows, and our socials are a really good way to find out who’s gonna be on it. People can also get involved by telling us what you want to hear from us. And give us suggestions of people you want to see on the show. And also just watching it. I think the best way to understand what we’re about and what we’re doing is to tune in when we’re live.
Make sure to follow Maggie and Beth on Instagram and head on over to Twitch on Thursday afternoon to catch their next live episode of Real[m]!
Crowdsurfer: What has your life been like since the end of Fourth Ave?
Jaden Gray: It has been bittersweet. It’s been bitter only because we departed and went our own ways, and it wasn’t like it was fun to leave. It was just that we all came to a point where we were like it was time to conclude Fourth Ave, but not conclude the friendship of Fourth Ave, and pursue our solo careers. And since then it’s been a great time, I’ve been living my best life. As a solo artist, these past few months have been outstanding.
CS: You just released a new single called “Love Happy.” How does it feel to put out a song as a solo artist?
JG: Whoo! So when the boys and I put our EP out it was mind-blowing. But when it came to my own song, that was only me on the track, a song that I helped produce, helped write, I was blown away. I just never thought that I’d be here and this age. I thought I’d get there eventually, but not at 19. It’s an amazing thing to see all the fans respond and do videos and sing and already know the words and it’s only been out for a week!
CS: Is the vibe of Love Happy what we can expect your sound to be in your future music?
JG: Very much, and then not at all. Let me break that down. The sound that I’m going for is Pop R&B. My voice is the R&B effect, but the music is going to be pop. So for the next few songs I’m gonna experiment, and whichever the fans gravitate to most that’s the sound I’m gonna stick to. My next song is gonna be more along the lines of Pop Latin vibe. But Love Happy really feels good so I really hope the fans stay in that lane because I love making music that makes you wanna dance.
CS: Can you tell us anything about this next song? When are we gonna hear it?
JG: I was shooting to put the song out this month but being that the studios are closed down due to quarantine, I’m going to put it out in May. I’ve been talking to a few people and there will possibly be a feature on there as well, and me singing a little bit of Spanish as well. That’s all I can give. But it’s gonna be a vibe!
CS: Well, now I’m excited about it and sad we have to wait a month! And on the topic of things getting pushed back, I know this year is up in the air, but what are your plans for 2020?
JG: Before all of this happened I was scheduled to do Coachella, I was scheduled to go on the tour with Kanye West, I had four solo shows in a matter of two weeks which I’ve never done on my own… And all of that got pushed back. It didn’t get cancelled, but pushed back. As of right now those are the things that are solidified and I’m planning on this year!
CS: What’s your writing process like?
JG: My writing process is different. I’m not the best writer, that’s just not my strength yet. So usually when I’m in a room writing a song, I usually bring a couple other people in because I can tell people a story and I just need them to put it in a writing format. Once they start doing that, it’s easy for me to say “How about we change this to this?” But songwriting is something I’ve really been working on perfecting probably since Boy Band since we met Justin Trantor. He gave me so many different tips on how to write songs and poems that can turn into songs. I have a passion for good writing and I want to perfect it and get to the point where I can do it.
CS: What have you been doing in quarantine? Anything exciting?
JG: The past two weeks I think I’ve been working out, going to sleep, working out, probably eating, and then going back to sleep. But today is the first day since the beginning of quarantine that I’ve had things to do! I’ve been productive for the whole day and will be for the rest of the weekend. This quarantine has been pretty rough but I’m listening to what they’re saying and I’m staying in!
CS: I’m glad to hear it! And to wrap this up I have a few questions from fans on Twitter! The first is: what’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to? – @kayaxstevens
JG: Oh my! My favorite, favorite place I’ve traveled to is for sure Paris. The first time I went was quick because we had a show that night and had to be in Italy the next day. But the last time I went a couple months ago, I was there for five days. Three days were working with Kanye and the other two days were free. Being able to have two full days in Paris was amazing and beautiful and everything I imagined.
CS: If you weren’t singing, what occupation could you see yourself going to school for? -@victorigiddings
JG: Acting, modeling, and styling! I have a passion for all three of those. And then I love to build, I’d build a whole house if I could. So I’d do that just for fun.
CS: Just build a house for fun?
JG: Why not? And then I’m gonna live in it!
CS: Last question: what is your favorite part of the music making process? -@hello_dreamerr
JG: That’s a good one. My favorite part is literally the last thing in my process which is I’ll listen to the song and then ask everything extra, the runs and harmonies, to be stripped out and just listen to the plain vocal. Then I’ll go back into the room and add everything I loved the most and just go!
Crowdsurfer: Thank you so much for being willing to do the interview. For our readers that might not know, walk us through how you got started with music.
Jackson Breit: I grew up playing trumpet in my school jazz band. And then a few months after that or a year after that, I started like a reggae rock band in high school. And then towards the end of high school, I started a rap group called Bruno Jackson and I started producing like Hip-Hop production. And then at the very end of college, I put out like a song called Sunny Side, which is like a feel good song. And it kind of blew up in a way. So I moved out to L.A. to do music full time.
CS: You produce your music as well, don’t you?
JB: I do. I produce a majority of my stuff, I’d say. I work with other producers too. But yeah, a lot of this stuff I produced myself. I’m pretty meticulous with that kind of stuff. It’s a double edged sword, because you could spend hours on one little snare drum noise. If I’m not producing it, then I’m just worried about the vocals and stuff like that. And maybe guitar. But when you’re producing it, you can really go deep down the rabbit hole.
CS: How do you find a balance with wanting songs to be perfect production-wise but also know when to finish the song?
JB: It’s hard sometimes, you know. Sometimes you get stuck, you get caught in limbo for so long that you lose interest in the song. So one of the things that you have to realize as a musician is when to cut it off. When the song is done, and when the squeeze is not worth the juice.
CS: What’s your favorite genre or style to create?
JB: What I really enjoy doing is kind of blues-y soul and hip hop. I feel like now I’m going closer to like my natural state, whereas a lot of the other stuff, it’s me, you know, I’m attempting to tap into some genre that I feel like people would like. And now I’m doing more of what what I really want to hear myself.
CS: What’s your songwriting process like?
JB: When I’m writing songs, I start with the music and then go to the melody and the lyrics. Usually for me, I try to reflect the music. So whatever that brings out of me, that’s going to come out on the track as like somewhat authentic because I’m I’m trying to match the vibe of the song. So it’s mostly what I’m feeling. I wouldn’t say I set out to be like, oh, I’m gonna make a super sexy swaggy track today. But if I get in that little zone and freestyle, I might come up with something that’s kind of sexy. But if it’s like a sad acoustic thing, then I’ll try to reflect that in the melody and in lyrics.
CS: Walk us through how you go about creating a song.
JB: It almost always starts with a guitar. And then it’s just trial and error. Trial and error as far as like the rhythm, tempo, all that stuff. And then maybe I’ll put down a little loop or something and see if some melodies pop and then that’s when the whole process starts. Usually I’ll give it a couple hours, I’ll go hard on that, on whatever song I’m doing for a couple hours and then take a little breather and look at it and ask, “Is it like is this worth my time to continue on or is this kind of wack?” Because for every song I put out, there is a hundred wack ass songs that don’t make it.
But on the contrary, if you get a little nugget that you like, and it’s like a baby seed that you’re like whoa like there is something serious here. And sometimes it’s very little. It’s just like the beat or something. It’s a melody. And then you’re you’re really energized. Then you can be like, let’s hunker down with this. So that’s the greatest feeling I feel you can have as a musician.
CS: What’s is like making songs with other musicians and producers?
I have a buddy who comes and plays bass, who is just an insane bass player, and he plays keys, too. He’s been invaluable because he just knows chords that my fingers are just not capable of doing. And then when you hear certain chords and progressions that I wouldn’t find naturally, it opens up a new door for me melodically. It’s really great to work with like talented musicians like that. And it opens doors. And it’s the same when people work with songwriters.
CS: Your 679 cover has 16.6 million Spotify listens at the moment. What’s it like to have that kind of success with a song?
JB: I was very hesitant to do covers and I wanted to write the music. And then somebody was like, listen, like, you need to do covers to get exposure. He was advising me at that time. And so I did 679. I sent it to him and he was like, no, it’s not ready to put out. That’s not the one. But I was like, well I just did it, I’m going to put it out anyway. And I don’t even know how it happened. It kind of took off a little bit on SoundCloud. And then we went on Spotify. I think it really hit the college scene. And then it hit the gaming scene like video gamers use it. And so I don’t know what happened, but it happened and the song is kind of well known now. It doesn’t feel as good because it is a cover, but I’m very happy and I’m thankful that it did what it did because it led a lot of people to the rest of my catalog.
CS: Talk a little bit about choosing to be an independent artist versus being signed to a label.
JB: When you’re independent, it’s great because you have full freedom and control over what you want to deal with everything. But you also don’t get the same amount of exposure and the same amount of promotion. So it’s good and bad, but I would say mainly it’s good being independent. But, you know, it would be nice to have a little bit more push on certain releases.
CS: Would you consider signing with a record label at some point in the future?
JB: Yeah, absolutely.
CS: Tell us about what projects you’re working on now. And hopefully after all the Corona craziness ends, what your year looks like.
I’m actually putting out a cover, and it’s my first cover since all those covers awhile ago. It comes out on Friday. My sister got married this last year, and she asked me to sing this song by the Pussycat Dolls Stick With You. I had never heard it, but I was like oh, this is a lowkey banger. So I recorded my own version to sing at the first dance. So I did the part for her wedding, and then I did a different version that I just fell in love with and was like, this is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done, if not my favorite thing. So I finished it and it’s finally coming out on Friday. But it’s a different vibe. It’s a very slow kind of emotional song. But I really like it.
I also just did a spoken word thing that’s about the current Corona crisis. It kind of just came to me. I was just thinking about, you know, the whole situation. And and I just wrote this in a few minutes. I showed it to my brother and he really likes it. I think we’re gonna try to shoot something and put it out on YouTube.
I’m going to continue to put out stuff throughout the next few weeks. More singles after that, actually. We’re gonna give them music because honestly, everybody is just sitting at home like, what do you do?
CS: Amazing! We’re excited to hear it. A fan on Twitter wants to know about your short film that you put out on YouTube. Tell us about why you made that project.
JB: That was one of those things where I had all these songs that never became full songs. But I liked them and they were like a verse or chorus, but for some reason or another, just never became full songs. I was talking with my brother, who is a film director. We thought we could maybe make a short story with these songs. So we planned out a plot for it. And I think it was nine songs and we went to Joshua Tree and we shot this whole thing. It’s weird. It’s dark. It’s definitely on the darker side. And people know me as like a happy guy, or the feel good guy, so I wanted to do a wild plot twist. So it’s nice to put that out in the world, you know, and let people see that dark side.
I feel like it’s a necessity to show those sides. Because I’d say a majority of my stuff is kind of light hearted for the most part and it’s nice to tap into the real shit. And then all these songs I’m putting out over the next few weeks in Corona’s season are they’re all kind of more on the emotional side.
CS: What kind of advice would you give to people that are maybe like making music in their bedroom right now or just just kind of starting out?
JB: You can you can sound fully professional on your own. You don’t need outside help. So go on YouTube, do whatever it takes. You can find a way to have a fully professional sound. And it is the most intoxicating thing when you get a finished project. I thought this could go anywhere. And I just did it in my living room, my closet, my garage. It got me extremely motivated. When you get the first taste to see it come out and you’re like, oh, this is sick. You can make anything sound as good as us like a studio or a label project. So that’s I think that’s very motivating.
CS: Anything else you want to add that you want to tell people about?
JB: I’m just gonna keep putting out singles and I’m also thinking about a live concert online.
You might have seen Detroit rapper Sam B. on the Netflix show Rhythm + Flow. He was a personal favorite of mine throughout the series, known for his talent at cultivating creative verses and for his rap battle skills. We had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his music, being on the show, and where he’s headed in the future.
Crowdsurfer: Give us a background on how you got started with music and why it’s so important to you.
Sam Be Yourself: I started making music as a creative outlet to help me talk about what’s going on in my life. Being able to take my thoughts and feelings and put them in the music has really saved my life in many ways. It all started when I picked up the guitar at nine years old and from there I just fell in love with it.
CS: That’s awesome. How’d you come up with the name Sam Be Yourself?
SB: My last name starts with a B and I used to go by Sam B. When it came time to upload my first project on streaming services the name Sam B was already taken so I added and “E” to the end of “B”, and then put “Yourself” at the end because I thought it just rolled off the tongue. Also being yourself is something I strongly believe in, especially in a music industry were a lot of people strive to be the same.
CS: What is your songwriting process like? Where do you come up with inspiration for your lyrics?
SB: The songwriting process isn’t always the same every time. Sometimes it starts with a beat that I already made or got from someone else, or sometimes the lyrics will come first. Something that just popped in my head and I feel the need to write it down. Inspiration for my lyrics comes from anywhere and everywhere. It might be something that’s going on in my life currently or something that happened me in past or something is going on in the world currently. Sometimes there is no direct inspiration and I feel like just saying some really slick rhymes.
CS: What’s your recording process like–more writing or more freestyling?
SB: Once again, it isn’t just a specific process that I stick to, I really just like living the moment and letting the music shape itself. I do a lot more writing than freestyling but some songs come together without any written lyrics at all and I will just punch in the words bar for bar.
CS: How has being on the show changed the trajectory of your career?
SB: Being on the show helped me in many ways. It helped me gain a larger platform for more folks all over the world to hear my music and also it has opened up the door for a lot more opportunities to perform in places that I haven’t before. I still have a lot hard work to do to get to where I need and where I want to be.
CS: What has the response been like?
SB: The responses have been great. Even if someone doesn’t particularly like me, my style, or my music at the end of the day motherfuckers know that I can rap my ass off and it gets respected globally.
CS: Yes! We love it. What’s your 2020 look like–what are your plans for this year and what are you looking to work on?
SB: To be transparent with you I’m not sure if anybody knows how 2020 is looking like with this whole Corona thing going on. I’ve already had multiple shows canceled and it looks like some more will end up getting canceled as well. So from now until this blows over I’ll just continue to write, record, and shoot videos for the songs I already have done. My next project should be ready to release by the summer.
CS: Anything else you’d like to mention?
SB: My mixtape ‘No More Mr. Nice Raps’ is out and available on all platforms! Follow on all social media @SamBeYourself and subscribe to my Youtube at Youtube.com/SambeYourself
The day after the Band of Brothers Road Show wrapped, we got to sit down and talk with PUBLIC about the tour, their music, and what’s coming next.
CROWDSURFER: First of all, I loved the show last night!
PUBLIC: Thanks! Thanks for coming out!
CS: It was the final show of the tour. Was it a different energy, or was it bittersweet? How were you feeling?
John: I would say both of those things, as some of the things you didn’t know you cared about on the tour hits you on the last show.
Matt: I think bittersweet because you spent so much time with the same people. And at the same time it’s like, this is the moment to really crank and move on to bigger and better things. Exciting things like writing new music.
John: Saying I was ready to move on sounds negative towards the tour, but it’s not at all. That was a great thing to go through, but now I’m ready for the stuff we have coming up ahead. I feel energized and tired at the same time.
CS: What’s it been like being on tour with American Authors and Magic Giant?
John: We felt very taken care of by the AA guys, they just were always asking how were doing and encouraging us. They are also on Island Records as well, so they were always just encouraging us a new band like “We’ve been through it before, you guys are crushing it.”
Matt: They’re very aware of what we’re going through right now so they give advice if they feel like they can.
CS: I love it, so much support. So you recently released a sequel music video for your hit single Make You Mine.It’s got a different vibe from the original, and I absolutely loved it. How did the idea to follow up the first video come about?
John: So our team that put together the first one, we had a great time with them, we just had a great time and it did so well. And they pitched us an idea for a sequel and at first I was like that seems gratuitous and people are gonna hate that. But when they were pitching it, and also with the zombie route, that’s when we were kind of like –
Matt: That actually sounds fun.
John: Because it starts off the way you’d maybe expect with a romantic proposal, but then stuff goes really wrong.
Matt: And John bites a dude in the face…
John: Yeah, I just get that bloodlust you know? [laughter] I think for me in this one, I was more like, let’s just have fun. We had a blast, we love this production team, let’s make a movie.
CS: There are a few different versions of Make You Mine out. Do you have a favorite?
John: I think mine is the Rino Sambo remix. It’s got kind of a beachy vibe to it, it’s got some MIDI horn stuff going on.
Ben: I like the acoustic version. The acoustic version is really nice.
John: Honestly, my favorite is the original.
Ben: Yeah, as it should be. It’s the way we wanted it and originally imagined.
CS: So, as we said, tour is over. What’s next for you?
John: We’re going to be doing some really exciting writing sessions with some people that we’ve looked up to for a while. I think we have some TV stuff coming up…
Matt: [whispers] We can’t talk about it though.
John: We’re gonna do MTV Cribs.
Ben: But it’s of our van. Pimp My Ride.
John: So those are fictional things, we’re gonna write.
Ben: Because there are more songs to be made that aren’t Make You Mine.
CS: On that note, it’s been a few years since Sweet Lemonade–
John: Thank you, nobody talks about that EP!
Matt: It’s so underrated! We think all of those songs are fantastic songs.
John: We play two of those songs live almost every show. They’re great songs. I think that EP is a very good representation of how our music has evolved. It’s more poppy, there’s disco stuff going on in there, too. It’s just good.
CS: How would you say your sound has changed since then?
John: We’ve got some unreleased stuff that’s really interesting, I think.
Matt: Yeah, and I don’t think we’re scared to go outside of what we would be labeled as. We’ve always kind of geared our sound to whatever we found interesting at the time. I think we write music because we love writing music, and it kind of comes out in different shades sometimes. I think recently it’s been a lot more disco funk, pop disco funk, than anything else. A year from now it could be alt rock, but it’s still gonna be PUBLIC.
John: I think it’s more common for bands and artists to be multi-genre right now. I’m hoping that it’s a little more accepted that we do stuff that’s not – like oh they’re a pop rock band but this song is pretty funky. So I think that’s what we do because that’s what we love.
CS: You’ve been friends since grade school. How have you grown as friends throughout all these years of being a band?
Matt: I think being friends has really helped with the growth of the band. I think specifically, on tour, when things kind of get really stressful we’ve always had a mindset of bringing it to the table. It’s always kept us closer than ever rather than pull us apart.
John: I feel like the enemy of, not just band but anyone doing something intensive for a long time, is repressing stuff. It’s like a relationship. If you keep something inside it’s eventually just going to poison you with resenting that person. People hear why certain bands break up, and like, it gets really hard. But we laugh really really hard still, and I think that keeps us together and keeps us fresh. We see a goal and we wanna get there and we believe in each other.
CS: Well thank you for taking the time to talk! Can’t wait to see you at your next concert.
Trading lectures and lessons for studio recording sessions, singer/songwriter Dhruv elaborates on the life of a college student– who happens to have a single with 500k streams, and all without any industry help. If you know anything about music, you know that it is extremely hard to promote an artist without even a little help, but Dhruv’s talent proves otherwise. His first single, ‘‘double take’’ was released in May 2019 and has since amassed over 500,000 streams alone. As a data science major attending Yale University, he plans on making his way into the music industry, one way or the other.
Now, we are not here to talk about how well he seems to be doing in school. We want to know if his music is any good! I was lucky enough to get the chance to hear his unreleased track ‘‘Moonlight’’ which is set to be released today, February 21st. The song depicts the naivety and simplicity of a relationship, and it is so well-written musically and lyrically that you’ll be falling in love with it too. Before you go running off to listen to it, here’s the story behind it.
As a queer person of color hailing from Singapore, Dhruv spoke about the difficulties navigating his identity in a place that was not nearly as progressive. ‘‘Lyrically, it is about pining for something that seems as if it only existed in movies. I wanted to write something intoxicating and beautiful like the love we see on the big screen, something that I’ve never gotten to see represented as much in my sexuality.’’ There are lines in the song that give examples, ‘‘poetry and hand-picked flowers, say you’ll meet me at the altar’’ and ‘‘true love, kinda hoped it would feel like a rom-com’’ that directly represents the movie kind of love that I searched for.
This isn’t just represented in his single. Dhruv plans to release an EP, ‘‘Con Artist’’ that portrays him navigating different aspects of his life. Whether that be in love, in his music, or in himself. Dhruv does not perceive himself as an artist, but as someone who simply creates music to share, hence the name, ‘‘Con Artist.’’ While he couldn’t reveal much about his EP, he said it is definitely worth the wait. With the help of his label, TRST. Records, he hopes to make music for those who are underrepresented, a common vision aligned with TRST, which aims to create an environment where their artists can identify themselves in their music and share it with others.
Dhruv sends his love to his fans, and apologizes for the long wait. He made sure to only release what he felt was ready to be heard. Be on the lookout for more of Dhruv and stream Moonlight on all platforms today!
We’re big fans of funky throwback pop records and up-and-coming NYC-based musicians, and Keep in Touch is a trio that fits the bill. With their uber-catchy beats and contemporary flare, they’re hoping to be next big thing in music. We caught up with the boys in Ray’s Harlem apartment for some behind-the-scenes shots of their jam session, and asked them a few questions.
How did you guys first meet?
“We met at through the rock climbing community that we’re a part of, we both new of each others musical endeavors and wanted to collab, kinda right away.” -Ray
“After we jammed a couple of times we really realized our overall vibe and tastes in music were very aligned.” -Nate
How’d you come up with your name?
“I had a song called “Keep in Touch,” with the last band I was in All Types of Kinds, and someone from BMG heard the song and thought it was a better band name than the current one the band had, so I’m taking their advice.” -Ray
What would you say is the genre/vibe of the band?
“When we first started making music together, we learned we both share a love for 70’s disco/funk music, as well as what’s happening with modern synth-based pop and R&B. So our goal throughout this whole project has been pretty simple, to make music that people can either dance to or make love to. As long as people are dancing, we know we’re doing something right.” -Nate
Talk about the recording process, what’s it been like?
“We’ve never recorded music at this caliber, we commute up to Connecticut currently from the city to work with this producer Mike Rogers, who’s really developing us into true studio musicians. We now spend hours working on the smallest details on any given track, which has helped us fully realize the concepts of these songs. His studio is in this little restored barn a 30 second walk from the Appalachian trail, which is a stark contrast from NYC and with both of us loving the outdoors its pretty rad. ” -Ray
Challenges getting the band up and running?
“Overall, making this music has been an incredibly seamless process. When it comes to lyrics/arrangement Ray and I have tons of ideas to work with. One major challenge though has been figuring out how to play these songs in a live setting. Because we’ve been working so much in the studio, most of our songs have more parts to play than we can accomplish with a few of us! Luckily we’ve met some fantastic musicians who want to support our sound in a live setting.” -Nate
Favorite song you’ve written/recorded?
“The one we’re currently working on in the studio now, actually! It’s one that has felt special since the first day we started working on it. It’s a bop.” -Nate
When can we expect to hear your first single?
“Sometime in spring 2020.” -Ray
We can confirm their first song is a bop, and we can’t wait to share it with you when it drops. Definitely put these guys on your radar if you haven’t yet! Go check them out on Instagram at @keptintouch. And for more pictures of the boys and tons of other musicians, check out the Crowdsurfer Instagram @crowdsurfermag.
Behind all talented artists is a team of managers, executives, songwriters, and much more. In this case, we have a jack of all trades, Amisha Sarkar. Mixing business and friendship with rising star Audrey Mika, she has gained recognition as one of the youngest entrepreneurs in the business, and this is just the start.
Amisha Sarkar may seem like your average kid on the street but her days consist of meetings with major record labels, recording sessions, and all-around music-making alongside her best friend, Audrey Mika, who also happens to be signed to RCA Records with over 1.2 million listeners. Sarkar also reigns her newly introduced title as Artist Manager and Founder of her very own TRST. Records, established 2018.
To Amisha, the idea of creating a record label herself seemed out of reach. “Well, I’ve always wanted to start a record label since I was 12 but thought it was impossible.” So what drove her to make the impossible a reality? A given factor of support is her friend and artist, Audrey Mika. “Until I met Audrey, I was just a fan of her music. Music is a passion of mine. Audrey and I were exactly what we needed for each other. We became very close as we began to live our dream together.”
At a mere 18 years old, Sarkar is earning major recognition already at such a young age, but that comes with its challenges. ‘‘I would say that being 18 is harder than being a woman in my position. We haven’t really run into any issues in gender but definitely with my age. I have had a lot of people that don’t believe I manage Audrey. They don’t take me seriously because of my age. I was at a record label and the doorman wouldn’t let me in because he thought I was some kid off the streets trying to get in. I had to convince him that I was supposed to be there and I had a meeting. I just remind myself that age has nothing to do with my abilities. I know that as long as I do what’s right for my artists and believe in myself and my team, success will come.’’
One of her first moments of success was the release of Fake Heartbreak. ‘‘The song was on my phone and it wasn’t written all the way. Audrey and I came back to it, rewrote it, and just in the first week, it got over 500k streams. Now it has over one million. As a songwriter, seeing the song go from my back pocket to where it is now is so crazy to me. I feel like I have one of these moments every day. We appreciate every small victory that comes our way.’’
Scooter Braun has been a leading talent manager to many of the world’s top artists such as Justin Bieber, Tori Kelly, and Ariana Grande. The two crossed paths in which Sarkar marked a great first impression on him. ‘‘He is my idol and someone I always looked up to. Connecting with him was by far, an amazing personal achievement for me. He even called my mom, telling her that I should drop out of school.’’
As we finished up our conversation, Sarkar talked about what was in store for the new year. ‘‘Audrey and I are preparing to go on tour soon and I am now tour managing too which has definitely been a new experience. We have an EP soon to be released next month, and plan on working on an album maybe at the end of this year or the beginning of next. TRST. Records will also be releasing our first song under the label which is very exciting. Lots of things in the works.’’ The 5 A.M. Tour has already seen sold out shows in major cities and at the rate this past year has been going for them, this year is going to be even better.
We look forward to seeing more of Amisha Sarkar and continue to support her on her journey. You can too by streaming Audrey’s new single, ”Change Your Heart” on all platforms. Lyric video below:
Watch the ”Fake Heartbreak” music video below:
Check out Amisha’s artist, dhruv and his song, ”double take” below:
I got to sit down with country pop artist Molly Lovette to catch up on how she got here and where she’s going next!
What made you want to get into music?
Music has always been a part of my life since I was little. I remember my parents would tell me I would literally sit in front of our air vents and sing into them so I could hear myself. But it wasn’t until the past couple of years that I really was like this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.
What brought on that decision?
So I had written a bunch of songs and I decided that I wanted to record a few of them. My guitar player had a little home studio, so we recorded some of my originals in his house. A few months later we had an album release party and I got to play with a full band, and it was such an adrenaline rush and everything I had hoped and wanted.
I was in college at this point and I remember after the show having to go back to school that week. And I did not want to be there. All I wanted was to play music. So I talked to my parents and mentioned this to them. Surprisingly – and not surprisingly because they’re great – they were like “Okay, if this is what you want let’s do this then.”
Who or what inspires you?
My parents inspire me, especially my dad these last few years. He probably doesn’t even know that I think this. . . But he’s a big basketball guy, he loves it. And he started a basketball club with a few of his friends a few years back that’s doing extremely well now. He started with my team, which was nothing, and created this huge thing. I think that was so cool of him to go do what he wanted and loves and start something like that. So seeing that my dad did that inspires me to go do what I’m passionate about.
You were just in a Nashville recording studio for the first time. What was that like?
Oh my gosh it was so cool, I’m still on cloud nine. I was just shocked by how talented everyone was. We walk in and these musicians listened to my song one time and they were like “Ok, let’s go record it.” It was crazy. It was really cool to get to work with such talented and experienced people in the business.
Were you nervous when you first stepped in?
Yes, but I was also excited. I played basketball my whole life, and my pump up song was Eye of the Tiger because I love the Rocky movies. So I was thinking, this is kind of like a basketball game and I gotta get pumped up! So before I went in I did listen to Eye of the Tiger and got myself ready.
Do you have a song you’re most excited to share with us? Why?
One song we just recorded I’m super, super excited about. I love the music I have out right now but this stuff is taken to a whole ‘nother level, especially this first one I’m going to release. It’s upbeat and mysterious almost. . . I’m super excited and think people are gonna be kind of shocked and think that this is the real deal!
What’s coming up for you next?
Really just a lot of playing shows here in St. Louis, but I’m back in Nashville next week playing my first Writers Round. And then I’ll be releasing a single in the spring! I’m preparing for that, and I want to get a music video going. So a lot is going on in the next few months!
I hear you’re moving to Nashville soon. What’s the first thing you want to do when you get there?
[laughs] Honestly, this is so kind of lame, but I just wanna take a really cool picture and tell the world that I’ve moved to Nashville!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m looking forward to getting to write with people this year. Co-writing is a big thing, especially in Nashville, and I haven’t done that yet. So I think it will be really cool, and I’m looking forward to getting to write with other songwriters and have people to bounce ideas off of and make some music with!