Tell us about the genesis of your project. How did you get to where you are now?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. My parents encouraged my sisters and me to join musical theatre when I was 4 and I was obsessed with learning a whole soundtrack and feeling all the emotions of a storyline. I eventually began studying with my voice teacher and mentor Fred Scheff. I loved how seriously he took my love of singing and he instilled a lot of the respect and discipline I attained to be an effective vocalist. By the time I was in college I was only a budding artist, but I was finally narrowing in on what music I connected with and I started dabbling in songwriting. My first hundred hooks were pretty terrible, but after years of looping chords in my bedroom and connecting my journaling with ideas for lyrics, I finally started some demos I thought were worth pursuing. In 2014, I wrote and recorded my first EP with Taylor Grubbs in Nashville who I owe so much of my kickstart to. For the next few years I would continue to refine my sound, I co-wrote with other songwriters and producers in town and eventually had a meeting with Jonathan Master in New York who now owns Same Plate, a JV of Sony. I showed him some of my demos and he believed in what I was making so we took a leap of faith and agreed to my first record deal. Three years later (!) it’s finally out.
What is the favorite song you wrote and why?
My favorite song on this album might be Supermagic. I remember first starting with the chords and basic melodies which ended up being the verse. I didn’t have a clue as to what I was writing about, but as I was chipping away, the word “supermagic” fell right out of the sky. Immediately, I knew what it meant to me and I brought the idea to Tofer Brown who also loved the title and wanted to help me tell the story. He’s my favorite person to bring verses to because he always gets the vision and knows where to go with the chorus. To both of us, that song means a lot and we were really proud of how seamlessly it came together. It’s the story of honest reckoning done a little further down the road in healing which allowed for some of the lightheartedness and cheeky one-liners.
Who are your all time musical icons?
All time!? Probably Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Brandy and Carole King.
What are some things to do to keep your inspiration alive?
I tend to run my ideas into the ground, so I’ve had to walk away from what I’m working on and spend time elsewhere. Sometimes that looks like grounding in meditation, prayer, journaling or exercise. Other times, I’ll find inspiration in a long & honest conversation with a friend, cooking or baking, watching really good film and TV, being outside or traveling.
Who are you binge listening to these days?
I’ve really been trying to get back into listening to albums rather than playlists these days. For me, longer periods of time with a single artist is a better experience with music. Because of that, I’ve been listening to new albums by some of my favorite artists like Giveon, Cleo Sol, Sinead Harnett, Kacey Musgraves and Yebba.
Favorite movie or TV show?
Currently, Nine Perfect Strangers.
Tell us about your latest release and how it came about
I wrote Summertime after seeing an incredible Childish Gambino show. I was still riding high from the energy of that night when I came home and had his line “you feel like summertime” stuck in my head. After a while I thought, what does summertime feel like to me? I kept picturing myself as a kid when I would disappear into the woods to play for hours on end. Those were the years when summer was a literal break from school but a more metaphorical season for transition and growth. At the time I felt like I was in the middle of my own “summertime” so I started a simple loop in Logic, channeled what I had been going through and wrote most of the song on the mic. I shared the demo with my team who shared it with TOBi and it seemed to strike a chord with him too (no pun intended.) It was such an honor to have him on that song and be able to join our childhood footage together for the visual.
Do you have any peculiar pre or post show rituals?
Pre-show I keep food light because my anxiety churns my stomach way too much. It’s been that way since I was a little kid in musical theatre. Backstage I’m always doing vocal exercises, praying, stretching, and deep breathing to calm my nerves. Post-show, always a really good meal and soft clothes immediately.
What’s the future looking like for you?
This is a tricky question that I would have answered much differently a couple of years ago. Honestly, who really knows? We plan and plan but I think we’ve all learned this last year how important it is to be adaptable. Lately I’ve been learning what truly makes me happy, what’s sustainable, what’s important in life, and all of those things have narrowed down what I hope for the future. I’d like to tour more than I expected to and I want to go off the grid to make my albums in a more condensed period of time with people I love. Eventually, I’d like to own a quiet home with a view to make music and one day design a dome house. *no, really.
Who inspires your style and aesthetics?
My style isn’t influenced by fashion specifically, but more so art and design as a whole. I love abstract expressionism, eras like the 60s, as well as mid-century, scandinavian, and Spanish design. I think comfort has always been important to me, and I’m somewhat of a minimalist, so I prefer to stick to the basics. I don’t like tons of accessories but I do love earth tones and lots of textures. More than anything, I like feeling comfortable, confident, and myself.
What is the achievement or moment in your career you are the most proud of and why?
I think the easy answer to this is finishing my first full-length album. It took three years, it was my first signing, and despite not knowing how I could ever finish, I’ve met and worked with some incredible people who helped me cross the finish line. I think the second half of this answer, though, is that it’s easy to point to a peak and say, “I’m most proud of this.” But in all honesty, none of my biggest accomplishments so far have meant as much to me as having to pull myself out of a hard season and come back to my true self. I think being able to do that has required the greatest amount of strength, bravery, and determination and it’s that person that I’m more proud of than the one who came out on top.
What do you think is the best way to make it as an artist nowadays?
I think making it as an artist has always been about first putting in your 10,000 hours. Before worrying about your online presence, you really have to spend time working on your craft. Then it becomes about focus, good taste, being good to people, and not getting in your own way. As for being online, I think the quality of your music matters more, but it’s also true that consistent posting is a huge part of developing a fan base which opens up a lot of other doors in your career.
What would you change in the music and entertainment industry especially after this past year?
I regret how much our connection and experience with music has shifted into a digital space. I want our culture to celebrate radio, vinyl record collections, album listening parties and great live shows more than social media numbers. Right now we’re all fighting for attention on the internet and it’s not satisfying for artists and I don’t know how much it’s really moving listeners. We chose music because of our connection to our instruments, our love of performing, or sharing our experiences with other people. Social media is great for a lot of things, but I don’t think it’s capable of entirely replacing the ins and outs of the industry. I think we should be playing more shows than we ever have, Prioritizing albums instead of playlists of singles, and making physical copies of our music for people to see on the shelves of their homes.. in context with their real lives outside of a screen.