Category: music

An Interview With Singer Tia McGraff



Tia McGraff is a singer who recently released the album Stubborn In My Blood; here is a link to her website:



Q:  When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

A: I won the Canadian Country Singing Contest Female Open Category when I was 19 years old. The prize included cash (used it to buy my first guitar) and free recording time at a studio in Niagara Falls, ON. I  wrote my first song, Mister with my new guitar and recorded it in the studio. We decided to release it to Canadian country radio and soon I was getting noticed. I even got a call from a CBC tv show in Toronto and was on the show with Johnny Cash and June Carter. I was hooked on the music industry and knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

Q:  Which of your songs is the most personal?

A: Let ‘Em See Your Strong is a song of courage and inner strength. Overcoming toxic relationships. Something I’ve had to do in my life.

Q:  What do most people not understand about the Nashville music scene?

A: you need to  be patient and consistant. Stay true to your talent and find a way to set yourself apart.

Q: What is your weirdest back stage story?

A: I really don’t have one. I have always tried to keep things back stage clear and drama free. No one who shouldn’t be there. I also learned early in my career, from being in theatre I suppose, that you get on and off stage without lingering back stage.


Q: What kinds of day jobs have you had in your life and how did they influence your music?

A: I worked at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. It was great listening and learning about all the history and stories behind the stars fame. It helped me see that everyone of them came from a beginning in their career and worked hard for their success.

Q: How did you and your partner Tommy Parham meet?

A: In Nashville. I had moved there from Canada and he had moved there from L.A. We were introduced by his music publisher to write together. The rest is history.

Q: What is the overall theme of the album “Stubborn In My Blood?”

A: Stubborn In My Blood The title track is about my family/where they came from/diversity/strength/dreams/etc. Sums up the message of the album

Q: What are some successful things you have done to promote yourself?

A: Social Networking is so important in today’s music scene. In fact, I have tried to keep up with it myself, but due to our touring schedule and writing appointments, I have found it necessary to hire a social media person to handle my gig posts etc. She is amazing, and it helps me keep up with the things I need to take care of, while my fans feel they are in the loop of everything.

Q: What are some of the pitfalls you have experienced in the music business?

A: rejection, being too unique…….

Q: If you had the chance to perform with any music legend, who would it be?

A: Dolly Parton. I am involved with donating a portion of my book sales to our local chapter of the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She is just an incredible aritst, business person and human being




Eliza’s interviews are done by email; all answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)


An Interview With Singer Clayton Morgan

Clayton Morgan - Front pic


Clayton Morgan is a singer and songwriter who recently released the album “Taste for Love”; here is a link to his website: 

Q: When did you know you were a musician?


A: I knew I wanted to be a singer from early childhood. My earliest memories of performing date back to preschool.
Q: What themes do you like to explore in your music? 


A: I like to explore themes of love and happiness in my music. I am a person that loves love and it’s a universal theme that transcends all cultures and backgrounds. Love is a message that creates a common bond between people.


Q: Who are some of your influences and how can we hear this in your music?


A:  My biggest influences are Michael and Janet Jackson. I especially like the way Janet’s music makes me feel. Most of her music is upbeat and happy. Those are qualities that I like to put in my music. I want the music to be upbeat and happy. I want my music to make people happy when they hear it.


Q: What kind of day job (or income source) do you have and how does it influence your music?


A: I currently work a 9 to 5 in the Banking industry. Right now, my 9 to 5 pays the bills. It also helps me create the music that I make.


Q: What is the most effective thing you have done to promote your music?


A: The most effective thing I’ve done to promote the music is work with Michael Stover at MTS Management. Michael has been very instrumental in the success of my career. I can’t thank him enough for all his hard work and dedication!


Q: What is the worst advice anyone has ever given you about your musical career?


A: Performing live is an important part of connecting with the fans and building a following for what you do as a musician. Every artist is different regarding the types of gigs they choose to perform. I don’t think it’s in my best interest to perform at any gig dropped in my lap. I like to decide what the live performance opportunity will be and what feels right for me.


Q: What kind of training have you had?


A: I’ve had vocal training. I’m also working on dance training.


Q: Your father is Eddie Daniels. What did you learn about the music industry from him?


A: My dad’s time in the music industry ended shortly before I was born. I only heard stories about his time in the industry. He told me to watch people around you, meaning management wise. The music group he was part of had shady management. That was one of the main reasons he left the group.


Q: What inspired “Taste for Love?”


A:  Taste for Love was inspired by the instrumental track. Once I heard the track, the lyrics came to me instantly. It’s a sensual song about wanting to be with that special person.

Q:  What are you working on now?


A: My latest single ‘The Beat is Calling Me’ was released on November 12, 2018. I’m in the process of working on the live show set. There will be live performances coming up in early 2019.



Eliza’s interviews are done by email; all answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Across The Board Lead Singer Jacqueline Auguste

Photo by Bobby Singh/@fohphoto


Jacqueline Auguste is the lead singer for the band Across The Board; here is a link to the band’s website:

Q:  What is the overall theme of Sonic Boom?


A: Sonic Boom was written on our cross-country train tour last summer and is meant to chronicle the “breaking”of a band. I pictured the listener’s journey through the album as a rock opera—with a story, a heroine, and the trials and tribulations of a musical climax and anticlimax. The story starts off in the small city of Camrose, where I grew up—a small farming community in the heart of Alberta, and moves across the country to Toronto. As a young musician, I always dreamed of taking my music to the ‘big city’ and the album echoes this journey by rail to Toronto where I eventually meet the characters who will either try to steal the dream, or help me succeed. It has highs and lows, sadness and happiness and takes the listener on a musical and hopefully emotional journey. The idea of the title for sonic boom started with the phrase “making a splash”, which eventually became “making a musical splash” and when we realized that was like a sonic boom, it just fit—a band breaking out of obscurity onto the global scene in one big sonic boom that everyone hears. I think my most favorite song from the album is “No Curtain Call”- it’s the lowest point of the rock opera when the heroine is playing in a lonely bar, by herself, no one is paying attention, the lights come on the reveal the old wood floors, the sticky old bar top and all the folks who just don’t seem to care—and the revelation that comes to her after this experience—it’s not about making a splash, or having everyone pay attention to you—it’s about the journey, the music and staying true to one’s self-not getting lost in the hype or steered off course.


Q: How did you guys get together?


A: Across The Board, as a band, started as a Youtube channel where we would get together and create weekly music videos to popular covers. It grew from there, driven by a fan base asking us if we had original music to the release of our debut album in 2016 “Jane On Fire”. It was forged initially from garage jams and basement jam sessions and landed right where we are now–with a core of four musicians and a supporting cast of musicians who come out for live shows or collaborate on Youtube videos as we have kept up a solid online offering of musical and entertainment for our fans, expanding to a musical cooking show “Kitchen Sessions”, a daily vlog “ATB 365”, as weekly acoustic jam session, a carpool Karaoke feature called “Caravan Karaoke” (we drive a Dodge Caravan) as well as a weekly Live Broadcast on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram every Sunday Morning. We even publish a weekly behind the scenes “ATB AT REHEARSAL” segment.


Q: How did you come up with the name of your band?


A: Our band is such an ecclectic group of musicians from all walks of life, across all age ranges from young to “older”–we decided we were just a group of musicians that literally represented “across the board” — and thus the name!


Q: What is your strangest performance story?


A: Funny you should ask. On May 4th we had our CD Release Party in Toronto for our newest album “SONIC BOOM”. It was a sold out show and it happended during the worst wind storm in Toronto’s recent history. People were trapped in their cars by falling poles and trees, ambulances were everywhere. There was a power outage, yet still–the venue managed to rig the entire venue and sound stage with two generators and rewire everything to work on gas! They went and bought ice for the bar and in 90 minutes transformed the venue into a fully lit, fully powered show! Folks braved the weather, the obstacles and the “apocalypse” outside to make the show!


Q:  How does your work as an orthopaedic surgeon effect your ability to perform and record with the band?


A: As with any “art” including medicine, practice makes perfect. And surgery is a performance in and of itself–with the same preoperative anxiety that a musician feels before a show. I’ve learned how to practice, to rehearse, to study to perform from being a surgeon–and it transfers perfectly to music. Music for me is my creative outlet. It can be stressful at time to look after patients–particularly those who are very ill, or very broken in our case in orthopaedics. Music is that perfect blend of creative art, and technical prowess that is so similar to what I do on a daily basis in my job as a surgeon!


Q:  What is your creative process for writing songs?


A: Typically, songwriting for me starts as an idea. I like a beat, a riff, a lick, and suddenly a chord structure comes. I then add a melody to that and during the process of finding that melody, words just start to emerge. And something inside takes over and creates lyrics that match the mood, the melody, the current thoughts in my head about my life, the world–and bam–a song emerges. I then take that song to my cowriter or producer and we work on the beat and genre, as well as the bridge usually. I write my best work when I am procrastinating something like taxes or cleaning my house!


Q: Who are some of your influences and how is this evidenced in your work?


A: My biggest influences as a musician come from the music I grew up with –the music of my parents I suppose–The Doors, Pink Floyd, CCR, The Beatles and then the music I discovered as a young kid—Fleetwood Mac, Roxette, Queen. Today I relate to Broken Social Scene, Walk Off The Earth, Taylor Swift, and even Shania Twain, Meghan Trainor and so many others. I love all kinds of music! It all influences me.


Q:  You play a lot of different kinds of guitars. What kind of musical training have you had?


A: At the age of 10 I picked up my first guitar. Beyond that I learned oboe, flute and sax from stage and concert bands in school. I picked up the drums in my last years of highschool and started writing music and playing other stringed things like ukelele, mandolin and banjo in college. I’m classically trained in that I can read and write music, and I have spent so much time in front of musical scores… but I am a self-taught piano player and tend to write alot by ear. I wouldn’t say I have “perfect pitch”–but I can certainly tell when something is not right and find ways to fix a sound, a chord progression, a bridge, a key change, a harmony without much effort…that part comes naturally to me and I am grateful for that gift above all else.


Q: What are some of the things you have done to promote your band?


A: We are everywhere on social media–we try to maintain a solid social media presence with creative and high quality content, and bring fans along for the journey. We are story tellers and our lives are open. I don’t hide the fact I am a surgeon, I don’t hide the fact I am a mother, I don’t hide the fact I am now a grandmother! My middle baby has two little babies! My life is open and I’m hoping to inspire other women musicians and physicians and any professional who wishes to add music or other creative art back into their lives~it’s a balance. It’s an essential balance. It’s an outlet, but it’s also a lifestyle.


Q: What do you hope to express through your music.


A: In the early writings, my songs seemed to express loss, sadness, dark moments, intertwined with the occasional breath of air to relax, unwind. “Jane On Fire” is such a collection of emotional songs from “Sad Guitar” to “Take A Minute”. This new album however, is written to chronicle my journey–and I hope to inspire our listeners by finding some common ground in our collective stories!




Eliza’s interviews are done by email; all answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview with Jordan Casty of Eleven Dollar Bills


Jordan Casty is the lead singer for the band Eleven Dollar Bills; here is a link to the band’s first album:

All Our People


Q: When did you know you wanted to be a musician?


A: I’ve been singing and messing around on instruments for as long as I can remember but something strange happened when I was sixteen and I found out just the slightest bit of music theory.  I felt like I was stepping into a different world and speaking the same, mysterious language all my musical heroes were speaking.  I felt like I had joined a new club and I never wanted to leave.



Q: What is your creative process?


A: My creative process starts with drinking a whole bunch of coffee and messing around with my guitar or piano.  I feel around in the dark, humming melodies and fiddling on the guitar until something sounds like the beginning of a real idea.  Some melody that feels sturdy enough to build on or some group of words that sparks a song idea.  It’s just a construction job from there.  That’s how our new single ‘Waves’ came about.  Some mumble sounded like the key to a joyful idea about serious fun.  A couple hours later we’d fashioned up a whole new chapter of our musical lives.


Q: What is the overall theme of your album, All Our People?


A: The All Our People EP is about bringing people together through celebration of life.  It’s about amplifying experience across the entire spectrum of emotion so that life becomes a deeper and more exciting ride.


Q: Did Bob Dylan inspire your name or is there another meaning behind it?


A: Bob Dylan has been my favorite songwriter since I started diving deeply into his work during my college years.  I felt like if I named my band after one of his lyrics, I might be able to direct a bit of whatever spirit has been speaking through him to come through me for a while.


Q:  How did you and the other band members get together in the first place?


A: This incarnation of the band came together in Los Angeles and we all met through playing music in the bars out here.  There are so many places to see killer live music in LA and when I got out here, I just started talking with everybody I thought was great after they got off stage.  We’d jam and play some trial-shows together and then it congealed into the lineup you see today.


Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your music?


A: I drive a bit of Uber when the music money is slow.  I like to talk with my passengers if it feels like they’re open to it.  I feel like it helps in my songwriting to get so many different people’s stories.  The more varied your perspective, the more powerfully you can write.


Q: Your recording is very professional sounding! How did you get the album financed?


A: Thank you for the kind words!  Our producer Jim Huff is indeed a master craftsman.  And a master with the budget!  He called in a lot of favors to get this record made and we had a bit of family funding for whatever we weren’t able to cover ourselves.



Q: What would you change about the music industry?


A: If I could change one thing about the music industry, it’d be updating the royalty rates for songwriters.  Songwriters are really getting shafted lately and it’d be nice to see the money split up more fairly.


Q: What is your weirdest LA story?


A: One of my weirdest LA stories came while driving Uber.  I picked up this guy who told me to “just drive”.  I said okay and when I looked over, he was ‘making it rain’ on Tinder.  That’s when you rapidly and indiscriminately swipe right to rack up a swath of matches.  He kept it up and I kept driving through Los Angeles until he’d found a match that met his criteria.  He must’ve been a pro sweet talker because he had her address in minutes and we headed that way.  I pulled up and he went in.  But not before asking if I’d like to join.  I told him I’d have to take a rain check.


Q: At which club do you most look forward to having a concert?


A: Since I grew up in Chicago, playing the main stage at Lollapalooza will be a pretty serious thrill.  But the Hollywood Bowl might be even more fun.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An interview With Rapper Hiiigh Quality

Hiiighquality is a rapper who recently released the EP, PSA’s and Heartbreak; here is a link to his Soundcloud page:







Q: What made you interested in music?


A: What made me interested in music was basically the surroundings growing up, hearing it, experiencing & relating to it then I also saw some of my older friends tapping into it.


Q:  What kinds of things inspire you to rap?


A: The kinds of things that inspire me to rap are original, amazing lyricists, & looking at all the things Ive been through & overcame because of the most highs within me.


Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it affect your music?


A:  I actually have errand running and home cleaning gigs I participate in weekly, & it effects my music in a pretty positive way, as far as motivation.


Q: What kind of formal training have you had?


A: I haven’t had any formal training.



Q: Who are some of your influences?



A: Some of my influences are John Lennon, Bob Marley, Damien Marley,Steve Jobs, Ice Cube, Snoop dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Vince Staples, Ab-Soul, Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky etc.


Q: Where do you record your music?


A: . I record my music inside of my home at the moment.


Q: What is Hydro about?


A: Hydro is basically kind of an alter ego, or nickname because lots of people call me that.


Q: What is the one thing you would change about the music industry?


A: The one thing I would change about the music industry is the evil actions.


Q: What have you done to promote your music?


A:  Ive strictly promoted online on social media, & also outside on the streets as well.



Q: If you could write a rap musical, what would the plot be?



A: If I could write a rap musical the plot would probably be A Kid trapped in his city with a vision, battling everyday obstacles who soon finds that life is much more bigger than his vision, which leads him to his purpose after all.



Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Saxophonist Kyle Cripps



Kyle Cripps is a New Orleans based saxophone player for the bands One Love Brass Band Smoke and Bones; here is a link to One Love’s website:

Q: What made you want to be a musician in the first place?



A: Though most of my family is not music-oriented, my mother was a painter and an art teacher and always encouraged having music and art in the house. My sister was a few years older than me and had already started playing flute and we had a keyboard in the house that I’d mess around on, so when I was finally old enough I was able to join the school band.

I had a knack for playing pretty quickly and was one of the top players in school. After a few years I also learned that I had perfect pitch, which I more or less took as a sign that I should maybe try and pursue a life doing music. By high school I was spending less and less time on other subjects and more and more time playing. Around this time I started to write a lot of original music, and would hurriedly get home from school and hole up in my room all night to do so, often at the expense of my actual school work.

I had some teaching experience before I got to college but my dream was always to perform so when I got to college I knew that was the route I had to go. I was definitely tempted to take the “safer” education route but my roommate was an education major and that life seemed totally unappealing to me (earlier hours, more emphasis on classical music, more work away from the instrument).

The short answer is that it was the first thing I noticed I had a natural talent for. I was very involved in athletics and had an athletic body but my natural skills were not quite as obvious as they were for music, so it just kinda made sense for me to try and take it as far as I could. Having a mother who pursued a career in painting helped, and she always assured me she’d support me going that route. It’s something I know is not a common thing for a parent and I was very lucky in that regard. She was also the one making sure I practiced every day on the few days where I didn’t really feel like playing.





Q: What made you chose the sax?


A: The summer before 4th grade my school had a day where perspective music students could come try all the instruments to see what they liked. I had already started falling in love with 90s rock and hip hop and wanted badly to play drum set but unfortunately my parents were against the loud drums in the house and when the music teacher at school informed me I’d have years of learning timpani and snare and xylophone before ever getting behind a drum set I started looking at other options.

The saxophone ended up being my first choice simply because it was the easiest instrument to get a note out of that day. I don’t necessarily chalk that up to natural ability, as I still find sax to be the easiest of the winds to play at first, but it was definitely a match from the very first moment.


Q:  What gave you the idea for a brass/reggae fusion band?



A: I grew up at the beach in New Jersey and had always loved hearing Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and the 90s stuff I had mentioned, Sublime, Reel Big Fish, etc. and had always wanted to be in a band like that. At the time, I had been living in New Orleans for about 3 years and was looking to start a new project of my own. New Orleans is chock full of brass bands but I had been trying to find something a little different.

One night I was hanging with some friends and got re-introduced to the Skatalites. I had been familiar with them but this particular night was inspiring for some reason and I decided it might be fun to set up some sort of instrumental ska outfit but still being kinda new in town I didn’t know too many people interested in that style, especially on drums. A few months later I ran into my drummer friend Boyanna and mentioned all this to her only to learn that she had coincidentally been trying to put together a similar concept but in the style of a traditional New Orleans brass band. Another few months later we had assembled a crew of people to try out some ideas. Though the relationship between Caribbean and New Orleans rhythms seemed like a natural fit together (there are a lot of stories about how ska originated because Jamaicans could pick up New Orleans radio stations from Jamaica), it was a pretty unique concept and there were a lot of details to be ironed out, so the band didn’t play our first gig until about a year later. We’ve had several personnel changes and our sound has greatly evolved since then but that was the original idea.



Q: What was your criteria for choosing band members?



A: At first we were simply looking for people who were available enough to come and just try out some ideas without the intention of actually doing any immediate gigs. This was harder than it might seem, most musicians here are gigging regularly and expect when they come to rehearse it will be rehearsing for a specific gig, not just “jamming” and seeing what sticks. That’s rare for real pros.

After the band got off the ground, we realized we had to find the right personalities to fit together, which was actually even harder. We have some complex arrangements which require at least some ability to read sheet music, and that’s not a skill most players here have. I’ve also made it a point to ask everyone that came to try it out whether or not they actually liked ska and reggae before playing with us, as it is a unique style and if you approach it like it’s a jazz or funk band it won’t sound right IMO.

Another big thing for me is actually being friends with everyone in the band. I’ve been in lots of bands that are together just to make money and never hang out other than when we’re on the gig together and to me, it can be very obvious. This doesn’t always effect the music negatively but I always appreciate a band that actually looks like they are having a ton of fun on stage and I’ve tried to cultivate that with every group I play with.



Q: What kind of day jobs have you had and how did they influence your music?



A:  I haven’t actually had a non-music day job since I left Philadelphia in 2008. I taught music at a school down here when I first moved but got out of that around 2011, so I’ve been purely freelancing for about 6 years.

The last few years I lived up north I had a few interesting jobs but I was still in undergrad so it was pretty much relegated to the summers. I had a pretty consistent job at a game and hobby store that I had started working for in high school. It was a family-run business operated by some amazing people and they worked with me a ton to make sure I could do gigs around my hours at the store. This was one of my first real jobs and since we were dealing with toys and games and most of our customers were kids, it really hit home to me how to always have fun with what you’re doing. I think that’s influenced how I make music now; fun is a big big priority for me when picking gigs and who to play with.

Later, I cooked burgers and cheesesteaks for a few summers, worked very briefly serving and had just one shift as a bartender. I didn’t enjoy it and wasn’t very good at it so I quickly decided it was something I’d prefer to stay away from. I kind of randomly fell into my last non-music job the last year I lived in Philly, working as a customer service rep for a video distribution company. Only after I arrived for my first day did I learn that company primarily dealt in adult movies.

It was a fascinating job; most of my coworkers were involved in some creative endeavor (writers, artists, one other musician) and were super diverse. The customers ranged from incredibly sweet (because I was hooking them up with porn) to incredibly rude and/or stupid and I have several insane customer stories. This company also worked really well with me to allow me to get to my gigs on time and everything.

I guess the main thing from those jobs that affect my music now is knowing that lifestyle, and remembering to look back on it the next time I feel like I’m on a gig that I don’t enjoy so much or is maybe less glamorous than I’d like it to be. At the end of the day I’d rather be on a terrible gig than back in that office or behind a hot grill all day, or even teaching little kids the notes on the piano.


Q: What makes Smoke and Bones unique?



A: Smoke n Bones is definitely unique to the New Orleans area because of the style we play. I wouldn’t necessarily say the style of our music is unique, we play mostly R&B and soul kinda stuff, but there aren’t many bands here doing it quite the way we do it. Most R&B kinda bands here aren’t as vocal-driven, usually only having one, maybe two vocalists and the band is there for solos and that kinda stuff. We use four vocalists and I even use a vocoder on certain songs. The emphasis is on stronger songs themselves without the need for long winding solos.


Q: Who are some of your musical influences and how can we hear it in your music?




A: Originally my influences were more rock oriented, Nirvana, Green Day, Weezer, Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden. As I got older I gained more of an interest in jazz, mostly saxophonists, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, especially Eddie Harris (more on him shortly), Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock. Also a lot of reggae, Marley and Tosh, but also Desmond Dekker, Eek-A-Mouse, The Ethiopians, The Melodians, Mighty Diamonds, Toots & The Maytals, Sublime. Once I got to college in the city I was exposed to a lot more experimental styles, a lot of free jazz, Alice Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, John Zorn, and really started to learn more about 70s funk and R&B, James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire, Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Smith, Sly Stone, Ray Charles. These were increasingly becoming my strongest influences but music in Philadelphia is not so heavy on funk and R&B (at least most of my peers weren’t interested in doing any of that) so I felt like an outsider and it was hard to create music in that vein.

My influences after moving to New Orleans are probably most present in my playing now, obviously the music here is front and center no matter if you like it or not. The Meters, Dr John, Galactic, Chocolate Milk, James Booker, and also others from out of town but related, Shuggie Otis, Soulive, Ohio Players, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu. These all heavily influence my keyboard playing more than anything.

Eddie Harris is probably my biggest overall influence, he played several instruments, mainly sax and piano and recorded many many albums in a wide variety of styles. He also wrote several music exercise/etude books I worked a lot out of. He started with mostly straight-ahead jazz but evolved into some more pop stuff, then went off into funk and R&B, even getting into some spacey free-jazz at times. He is also notable for being a pioneer of the electrified saxophone, which enabled him to use effects pedals to alter the sound of his horn. This is something I’ve tried to incorporate into my sax playing for years now, but it’s difficult to set up and not always necessary. I’ve been lucky, my bandmates in Smoke n Bones have more or less given me full reign to be as expressive as I want in that regard.


Q: What is the most challenging thing about promoting your music?



A:  There are several challenging things about promoting my music here. Primarily it is that I have very little real training on that side of things. I had a couple of business classes in college but they were either poorly taught or had them for too short a time to get too good at any specific aspect. I’ve really had to learn on the fly the little bit that I do know.

Another problem specific to New Orleans is that it’s such a self-contained place that many bands don’t feel the need to expand outside of the local clubs because the pay can be relatively good (compared to other cities) and everyone in the band is almost certainly in at least one other band. We all spread ourselves a little thin to pay the bills and can only devote so much time to one project musically, let alone on the promotion side.

The clubs themselves also have a built-in tourist audience nearly all the time and while it can be nice to make money primarily that way, it’s much harder to actually create fans that will come back and see subsequent shows (we’re mostly playing to people who A. have likely been drinking and are prone to forgetting or B. are only in town for a few days and will likely never see us again or C. are only in the club because a lot of clubs don’t charge cover and there’s a crowd). I try not to book One Love Brass Band in certain clubs because we’d only play to tourists and we’re at the stage where we really need actual fans that will come back to see us again and buy our CD. There’s definitely value to doing those clubs (getting the band tighter, putting even some money in our pockets, increasing our visibility) but with that band I think we get more value out of playing different spots and actually gaining fans.

New Orleans is also kind of in its own world, the nearest major city is at least 5-6 hours away, so touring can be especially more expensive.

Another thing is that my two primary original bands play styles that aren’t so prevalent here. Most of the major publications/festivals in the area really try to promote music that is primarily New Orleans-influenced and as such it’s hard to break through if you’re doing something different.

All of these things make it really tough to promote a band here. Using the internet has become more and more valuable in this regard though.


Q: What is your strangest performance story?


A: I have a few really strange performance stories but my favorite one is probably when I played with a brass band by the pool for an out of town swingers meet up. This group was about 50-60 swingers who rented out a giant mansion in the treme with a massive pool and hired a brass band for their orgy party. We needed a password to get in to the house, and once we entered mostly everyone was naked/having sex and consuming all kinds of substances. I played in just my brass band hat and my undies and did my best not to fall in the pool with my sax. We weren’t allowed to take pictures but they had their own private photographer there; I never found out their contact info and I greatly regret it because I’m sure there’s a few amazing shots of me in there.


Q: If you could create your own music festival, comprised entirely of local New Orleans bands, who would you include and why?



A:  New Orleans is a town that hosts a ton of festivals, so it’s really difficult to imagine something different than what already occurs and I’m going to cheat a little on this question. In April we have French Quarter Festival, which is heavy on local acts, and the Jazz & Heritage Festival, which strangely enough is not nearly as heavy on local acts. If it were up to me I would have more jam-oriented acts (Medeski Martin & Wood, Soulive, The Meters, Chocolate Milk, Skerik, Les Claypool, Trombone Shorty, Jon Cleary, Charlie Hunter, Nth Power) but force the bands swap members on a rotating basis. We already do this quite a bit during the week between Jazz Fest weekends (it’s two weekends long) but I’d maybe try to do it in one giant venue with several rooms (I’m not sure a venue that size exists here). A lot of clubs here will host mash-up events with some absolute giants who rarely play together getting thrown into something and they often just wing it. The results aren’t always as good as a super tight band but some of my fondest memories here are seeing random people thrown together during jazzfest week making magic happen.


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Rapper Young Yeama


Young Yeama is a rapper; here is a link to his website:


Q: What made you want a career in music?


A: I started late coming from a Christian church background, being taught that secular music was from the devil and what not so I didn’t grow up listening to Nas, Jay Z, Tupac and the like. I was introduced to HipHop around 11 or 12 when that ‘Tell Me If You Want Somebody’ by Aaliyah and Timberland came out, you know, with the baby whining along with the beat. I fell in love with the way the beat was orchestrated and went ahead to create my own beats after being engulfed in the Bay Area music scene ‘going dumb’ ‘hyphy movement, etc. So when it comes to making music now, it’s natural. Like, I’ll record in my studio and beat myself to shingles to perfect my work, even if it still sounds shitty to the next person. But when I’m finshed, the burst of excitement that runs through my body, my mind explodes and I’m freakin happy! I’m going to do what makes me happy, at 27 years old, before working for anybody else at this point in my life.


Q: What motivates you to write?


A: Life motivates me to write. Interacting with people, partying, relationships, working, trapping, and trying to get some pussy, smoking weed, how much money I just spent is all motivation to write. The good and bad‎, the struggles and the blessings are motivation and I feel I express that best through music, words. Being heard motivates me as well as the lucrative incentives.


Q: What is the story behind, Because You A Thot?


A: I was in a relationship with a woman whom appeared to be modest in every sense of the word. She was very pretty but covered herself and worked and went to school. I fell in love. She falls in love. She literally brings me back to my hometown, my place of birth, East Oakland, California and I fell in love all over again, this time with a city rather than a woman. Things got hard for me financially and I took my frustrations out on her, verbally, which lead to an agreement on taking a ‘break.’ I needed this break to do a self-reflection on myself and stop trying to make everyone else happy and do what I want. I guess she thought the same thing because two weeks being apart and she with the next nigga. This was shocking to me as I loafed in disbelief and believed that they were just co-worker friends until I hacked her phone. Don’t worry, Jesus whispered the password in my ear, I swear. I found pics of her naked with this bafoon! In my video, ‘A Break’ I catch them at the mall together!! But I’m glad I found out because even after I found them at the mall, Izzy came back and made very passionate and rough love to me! Head Honcho! Three days later I find the nudes and couldn’t get out of bed, the pain, I never felt it before. Hence: Because You A Thot and A Break. ‘Now I just play with these guns and rap! Nigga butt hurt off of love! Ya.. ya.. yaaa.. yaaaa..’


Q: Who are some of your influences and how can we hear this in your music?


A: Andre 3000 best emcee ever!

Lil B BasedGod greatest rapper alive!

Thom Yorke is my idol!

Sigur Ros‎ are my ancestors!


I like to think of myself as eclectic ‎when referencing my music. From slow to fast, love to hate, sing to rap to rock to mumble, God, Pagans, you name it! My flow, the way I lay the words over the beat is deeper than an art, almost like it’s a science to it. I get that from Andre. My consistency with over 300 songs under various names from years ago; I get that from BasedGod. My mating calls or soft yells I get from Thom and the rhymthm, even though very different, one like myself is able to find a linking bridge.



Q: How do you decide what to wear in your videos?


A: Wear something that’s not in your other videos. I’m doing so much shopping now I feel like a diva. But as an independent artist, I have to work on my image. I just want to look clean! Always some fresh kicks on my feet unless I decide to go vintage. Most of the time it’s spur of the moment because when you are the rapper, producer, marketer, video producer and writer, video editor, engineer and cast, shit can get hectic!


Q: How do you finance your videos?


A: I used to shoot everything on my BlackBerry Passport until I copped a video recorder and on average I spend about $10 to $20 a video. My cousin does the camera work for a couple hits if the weed, gas, break food and we good. Just time to get creative. The Bay Area offers a great amount of visuals, both natural and artistic, to shoot videos and have them looking fancy.


Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your music?


A: I sell drugs and I rap about it. I rap about how I should stop because I’ll only end up dead or in jail but being a Black dread head convict doesn’t help either. I can’t get a job. Regardless of my conviction, I’m still black with dreads. Not to following the assumptions but that’s all I can do now to prevent homelessness. I know it sounds pitiful but aye, they want it. Fuck it. I’m getting tired of getting rejection emails our the interviewer looking at my hair more than my resume. I’m tired of being told ‘no’ to work for $14 dollars a hour everyday! Fuck that! I’m worth way more! My art will save me one day.



Q: What’s the point of referring to woman as hoes? Why not just call them women?


A: Women and hoes are two different things just like men and niggas are two different things. When I mention a hoe, that what she is, she sells her body or simply enjoys sleeping with rich niggas/men.‎ Girls tell me to hit them on therie service line when I wanted company and all for free, just because I was ‘different’ and ‘not like everyone else’. I guess. But I like em! They in the same boat as me! I sell something different but you get my gist. Hoes make you feel good. They were revered in the bibilcial times and even necessary in some cultures. Lol, let me stop.


Q: What is the oddest thing you have done to promote your music?


A: Travel around the Bay Area and post stickers of myself throwing up my middle fingers with Young Yeama printed in bright colors on poles posts, mailboxes, walls, storefronts, etc! Got chased by the police once and got away!! Hehehe!


Q: What would you like to changes about the San Francisco music scene?


A: Big big difference between San Francisco music and Oakland music when it comes to rap but the Bay Area collectively, I would love for us to get the recognition we deserve so badly. Everybody bitting our style and getting rich off of it and even though people know it’s talent in the Bay Area, they over look us for some odd reason so recognition for sure!


 Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.