That’s right. I will be pulling my podcast from Anchor.FM for their absolutely horrible format and posting rules. I will no longer be playing commercial music. Goodbye Ariana. Goodbye Post Malone. Hello, artist who is struggling to pay their bills and just need to get their music heard!
Attention Indie Artists!
If you are not currently affiliated with a label and would like to get your music on the premiere episode of Le Café Music Podcast, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org with your links and music!
I appreciate everyone’s support and I can’t wait to get going in this new direction!
Here’s a whole-hearted “suck it” courtesy of me.
I appreciate everyone’s support and I can’t wait to get going in this new direction with Le Café Music Podcast!
Anyone reading this, please share this with your indie artist friends!
Welcome to today’s edition of Indie ArtistInterview. Today’s guest is Australian pop artist, the lovely Cat Thompson.
Ryan: Hey Cat! Thanks for joining us today! How about a little intro for our readers?
Cat: Hey! My name is Cat Thompson. I’m a singer-songwriter. I love singing, dancing, playing instruments and making a lot of noise in my studio. I currently live in the beautiful beachside town of Byron Bay, Australia where the weather is warm and people are friendly.
Ryan: Tell me about your latest/upcoming release:
Cat: My latest single is titled Who You Gonna Call. It’s an anthem for anyone who has had the courage to leave a negative relationship and having the power to say no when a toxic ex comes calling. This narrative is juxtaposed with a lively beat which I hope makes people want to vibe out and dance. I’ve just released the music video which is super exciting! The dance choreography in the music video was created by talented choreographer James Deane. I’m also about to drop a new single titled Be Free with talented House music duo SaxBeatz. The song features American rapper, Kev Hannibal. It’s about hitting the open road, leaving everything behind and just being free! It will be available in music stores and streaming platforms soon!
Influences and Collabs
Ryan: What is your favorite track you’ve ever released?
Cat: That’s a hard one. I don’t think I could choose. I love every song that I’ve released and I have wonderful memories attached to each one.
Ryan: That’s a fair answer. Who are your biggest musical influences?
Cat: Growing up I had so many! As a kid I loved Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, the list goes on. I used to play their music over and over again and sing and dance loudly around the house. I’m indebted to all the great artists and musicians who came before me. They inspired me to follow my dream in the arts.
Ryan: That’s a hell of a list right there. What’s one artist you would love to collaborate with?
Cat: There are so many amazing artists I would love to work with. One of my favourite artists today is Sam Smith. I love his voice.
Life Outside of Music
Ryan: What are your hobbies and interests outside of music?
Cat: I love eating. Does that count as a hobby? Hahaha! Aside from that, I love reading books and watching documentaries on history.
Ryan: That absolutely counts as a hobby. As an artist, I’m sure you’ve had some survival jobs to get by. What’s the weirdest day job you’ve ever had?
Cat: When I first started working in the music industry, I moonlighted as a backstage crew member for other artists and bands. I used to think younger audiences were lively until one night we had a more senior crowd. Most grandparents seem quite dignified but when the headline act came on, a few of the elderly ladies in the audience started taking their kit off. Quite a few granny bras were thrown on the stage that night and security had to escort two ladies away after they climbed on to the stage. One of my jobs was to clear the bras off the stage once the show as over haha!
Ryan: Whoa, you might have me beat. haha.
On The Road and Life Before Music
Ryan: What’s the craziest thing to happen to you on stage or on the road?
Cat: I was performing shows in the Solomon Islands. After my show, I snuck out with my back up dancers and we boogied all night with the locals. The locals had set up an open-air party on a jetty overlooking the sea, complete with live music and a makeshift bar. They even had lawn chairs and tables for people to sit on. The jetty didn’t have any protective railing and there were a lot of people drinking and dancing. I asked what would happen if someone were to fall. One of the locals grinned and said, “You end up in the water.”
Ryan: Those are the best kinds of parties. We did that in Hong Kong at least 4 times a year. So much fun. Now, before you were picking up bras and partying on jetties, what were you like as a kid?
Cat: Stubborn haha! My parents didn’t want me to be a musician but I stuck to my guns.
Dating and Movies
Ryan: If you could go on a date with any other musician, who would it be?
Cat: Hmmm, I don’t know. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about. But if you’re going to date someone date a dancer. It’s sexy when your date can move their hips!
Ryan: Hips don’t lie. haha. What’s your favorite comedy movie of all time?
Cat: Monty Python has golden moments and it might be my childhood nostalgia speaking but I really enjoyed Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Even to this day I have a giggle when I hear the We’re Men In Tights song
Ryan: Yes! Men in Tights is so underrated. I directed a production of Robin Hood that I wrote for my students in the Hong Kong Drama Festival. I had them learn that dance for curtain call hahaha.
Ryan: What are you doing to stay connected to your fans during the pandemic?
Cat: I’ve been able to stay in touch with my fans thanks to social media. I know there are both pros and cons to social media but then I think of the generations that came before us, who lived without the internet and I think about how long they had to wait to receive letters and telegrams. It makes me appreciate how much easier it is to stay connected to the people we love during this crazy time.
Ryan: Truth. I remember when cell phones didn’t even have a screen. We have it so much easier. We can talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time. It’s crazy. If you could do a gig in any city in the world today, where would it be and why?
Cat: I’d love to do a gig in Tokyo, Japan. That’s where I grew up and I have many happy memories there. I’d also love to do a gig in Northern Ireland because I’m half Northern Irish. If I did a gig in Belfast, my cousins could come and enjoy the show which would be really sweet.
Ryan: Tokyo is on the top of my list too. I’ve been to Belfast, but not to perform. Just to drink. Speaking of drinking, What keeps you going?
Cat: Food! Did I mention that I like food? Haha! And the of love and support from my fans. They inspire to keep chasing my dreams.
Ryan: That’s awesome. Alright, got time for one more. Anything you’d like to say to our readers before I let you go?
Cat: To my beautiful fans – thank you for all your love and support! To anyone who hasn’t heard my music yet – feel free to pop by my Spotify and YouTube to have a listen and check out my music videos. If you like what you hear, feel free to leave me a message. I always love to hear from you!
Ryan: Thank you so much for joining us today, Cat! Keep us posted on your upcoming releases!
Welcome to another edition of Le Café Music Blog’s Indie ArtistInterview. Today, we’re joined by Jim from a dope-ass rock band, JIP.
Ryan: What’s up Jim? Thanks for joining us today. I understand there are four of you guys in JIP. How about a little introduction?
Jim: Singer / Songwriter / Rhythm Guitar: Jim Gwynn Drums & Percussion: Mike Charbonneau Bass: Bruce Smith Lead Guitar: Spencer Watson We’re all from one of the Chicago Burbs.
Ryan: It’s your 20th anniversary this year, tell us about your plans for the year
Jim: JIP started as a solo project in 2001 by Jim and quickly turned to Spencer for help on the second album. Bruce wasn’t on our last record Last Call and said we should so another studio album. Then Mike said…let’s release a song a week.
That turned into the 52 song weekly release that is happening this year EVERY Monday on YouTube:
Jim: So many awesome opportunities came up including all the celebrity songs that will start to be released next week. Essentially I asked each celebrity what you think JIP sounds like and then wrote a song based on their response. It was silly and so much damn fun. These weekly songs are ALL leading up to our Full Length Studio album due in Summer 2021 which is in process at Million Yen Studios with Andy Gerber in Chicago.
Ryan: That is so f*cking awesome. You guys are just casually hopping on Zoom with Jack Black.
20 Years of Rock
Ryan: 20 years. I’ve wanted to throw a few band members out of a window after working with them for an hour. How have you not killed each other by now?
Jim: We like each other and don’t ask a lot of each other until it’s game time. I’ve been friends with Spencer for 25 years. Mike for over a decade and Bruce for 6 or 7 years. In my mind we are friends first.
Ryan: That’s awesome, man. Nothing better than a band that just gels on and off stage. So you guys are writing and releasing a new song every week? That’s gotta be hectic. What’s your process for that?
Jim: The process is as hectic as an effin’ pandemic. I wrote over 100 thoughts / songs in the past year. We were also pent up since our last record came our nearly 6 years ago. I kept chasing opportunity and things that made me smile. This is how the Kenny Carkeet (Awolnation) & celebrity stuff all happened. I edited down what was going to be on the ACTUAL record in the Summer of 2021 as my favorite and most fun of the bunch. I’m so pumped for this record to see the light of day.
Ryan: What is your favorite track you’ve ever released?
Jim: We’re best known for Rock Hard Soul which is awesome. The fact that Rock Hard Soul opened a comedy special that got almost a million hits, and that Dian Bachar is in our video is the coolest. My best memory is recording the final track of our last record Last Callcalled Unknowns. We played that song live and I really thought that was the end of the best thing I would ever do. Hence the title of this new album called, Thought This Was Over.
Ryan: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Jim: 90’s alt Rock. I’m a Q101 kid and my dad woke me up with AC/DC. I taught myself how to play guitar because I didn’t want to sound like anyone, but you can hear influences in my vocals or structure of songs. Local H, Oasis, Semisonic, Tracy Bonham, PUSA, and Ben Folds come to mind. Being serious does not mean you can’t have fun.
Ryan: Hell yeah, man. I remember hearing Hell’s Bells for the first time when I was like 9. I think I had an out of body experience. Those are some great artists to be influenced by. Give me one artist you would love to collaborate with.
Jim: Scott Lucas is the first and easiest answer. He is Chicago to me.
Life Outside of Music
Ryan: What do you enjoy outside of music?
Jim: Being a dad. Seeing life through new eyes has been amazing and it’s also a full time job. My wife and I are still in the mode of teaching him things we love. Other than that stand up comedy and podcasts occupy the day alongside working my “real” job.
Ryan: Congrats on fatherhood, that’s awesome. Ah, real job. What’s the weirdest day job you’ve ever had?
Jim: I’ve slung pizza at the best of establishments across Illinois
Ryan: What were you like as a kid?
Jim: Playful and inclusive. I still operate as a chameleon just as I did then. I still want people to have a good time together even if we don’t agree on everything.
Ryan: That’s a great attitude. We need more people like you in this world. If you could go on a date with any other musician, who would it be?
Jim:Tracy Bonham. I had my chance once upon a time and stayed true to the one I was with. Tracy was one of the first singers I heard that made my skin tingle. We worked together on a track on our album Year X, but I’d love to spend a week in a studio with her.
Ryan: You’ve got good taste, my friend.
Ryan: Other than the new song every Monday, what are you doing to stay connected to your fans during the pandemic?
Jim: Letting them know we’re still alive and giving away free shit. Every Monday is a new song this year and every Wednesday is a free thing in our Facebook Group
Ryan: Free stuff is the best stuff. Now, obviously, there aren’t many performance opportunities. Hypothetically, If you could do a gig in any city in the world today, where would it be and why?
Jim: I would headline the Metro in Chicago. Playing that stage for the first time was a dream. I’ve been across this country and no other venue has made me feel the way the Metro does. It has a lot to do with memories of being 15 and seeing Stabbing Westward in that place alongside the 100 other shows.
Ryan: Man, I lived in Chicago for a minute when I was young and broke. That’s one spot I just never had a chance to check out. It’s on my list for sure.
Going To The Movies
Ryan: I know you’re into comedy. What’s your favorite comedy film of all time? Not best…favorite.
Jim:Orgazmo. There is no other choice for me. It’s why my best friends Eric & Spencer are linked together. “I am Sancho”
Ryan: Yes! Haha that movie is hilarious. If they made a movie about your band, what actors would portray you guys?
Jim: Me: Tom Everett Scott Spencer: Ben Affleck Mike: David Arquette Bruce: Nicholas Hoult
Ryan: What’s next for you guys? Other than the movie…
Jim: We’re going to lead up all of these Monday releases to our 8th Album in the Summer of 2021. I hope it sees light. I’ve given everything for this to be fun and easy to listen to. This album is everything to me right now.
Ryan: Thanks for joining us today, Jim. I really appreciate it. Anything you’d like to say to our readers before we wrap it up?
Jim: Thanks for giving us the time of day. Please play along and listen to these songs on Mondays on YouTube at youtube.com/JIPOMSH Keep an eye out for our record coming this Summer called Thought This Was Over It’ll place you right back in the sweet spot of 90’s alt rock and make you smile.
Welcome to another edition of Le Café Music’s Indie ArtistInterview Series. Today’s guest is dark pop indie artist, ya.
Now that I got that out of my system, let’s get this thing started.
Ryan: What’s up, ya! I’ve been looking forward to having you on! Can you give us a little intro?
ya: I go by the name ya. Eighteen years ago, I was born into a family of business working parents and one older sister, based in Moscow, Russia. Alongside the rest of the family and family friends coming over to our grand house parties hosted strictly every weekend, I grew up in what would be called a “holiday house”, somewhat far from the city, in its own isolated universe.
My music making began then, yes probably from the day I was born. It came to me naturally and noticing that, my parents (not too musical themselves) encouraged me to take vocal, opera and piano lessons at a private Moscow school I was attending. When I was about 11 years old, a lot has changed for me but my music making remained; I moved to the Coast of Spain with my family and got into a British school, changing my first language and the language of my songs which I was already writing at the time. The strange juxtaposition of these two countries heavily influenced my music-making, aesthetics of my life and my character; the cold and cynical Moscovite has fused with the fiesta-summer-time lover.
Ryan: Haha I love that. The “holiday house” sounds dope. Living in Thailand, I have met a lot of cynical Moscovites starting to fuse with island life, so I get it.
CHANGE YOUR BODY
Ryan: When I first started working for Estabrook Road Records, I was listening to unsigned artists on Spotify. When I first heard your voice, I was like “Damn, this girl has a very strange vibe, but I kind of love it.” Jason (Payne) agreed, and you were my first artist signed to the label. You released your album with us in January. Tell us a little bit about it.
ya: My debut album Change Your Body came out on the fifth of January this year and it is the best and the most autobiographical thing I have created in my life so far, I have shared so much of myself with anyone…Change Your Body is a clear representation of my life; my childhood, my internal world, my teen years, my career…But it is not limited at me. In the album I explore ideas of reincarnation, growing up, creative progress, and artistic dehumanization. Change Your Body has endless meanings…
I feel that somehow the album came to represent the future; globalized, genderless, faceless, unified. The revolution of humankind, fusing with technological advancements; the possibility of being able to choose your body or the body of your child, already experienced through the obsessive editing of your representation on social media. I strive to musically represent the one ultimate being and be the voice for those who fear being defined.
Ryan: That’s deep as hell. I love the album and what it represents. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to it since it was released. Here is the title track, Change Your Body
Ryan: What’s your favorite song on the album?
ya: My favourite track on Change Your Body is Vision as it is the ultimate ya song, i wrote it when i just turned 16 and two years later the song still makes me feel the same way. I know I say that I hate being defined but if I had to choose one song to define my style, define my essence, it would be Vision, 100%. I was very lucky to find an amazing producer through SoundBetter, JD Stefan who allowed the song to reach its potential.
Ryan:Vision is an awesome song. You and JD did a great job on it.
Ryan: Your musical style is very interesting. Who are your biggest influences?
ya: I grew up on jazz, blues and funk (being influenced by dad’s taste.) For me any blues artists (that I listen to) are IT. Blues to me feels more right than anything else and has influenced me far beyond just my music but my lifestyle and life views.
If I had to name an artist, it would be a pop star, Miley Cyrus. Her influence also went way beyond my music. Actually, musically I was not so much influenced by her in the actual music style etc, but what she stands for.
“Change is a thing you can count on.” Miley sang, and her encouragement of embracing moments and not tying yourself down to any one identity has been so meaningful to me. Even when she was on Hannah Montana and I was a kid in Russia, she became my first ever idol; from early age, I felt this desire to be ALL, to have no limits and yeah I saw that in Hannah Montana hahah. Since then, I’ve stood by her and expanded these ideas to my own projects, like Change Your Body.
Ryan: Wow. I would have never pegged you as a Hannah Montana kind of person haha. But you’re right, the message is great and one I think every young girl would benefit from.
Ryan: That being said, what artist would you love to collaborate with? I have a feeling I already know the answer to this one.
ya: Goes without saying, Miley Cyrus…besides her, Young Fathers whose music I feel very deeply, and I think they are just next level, their music feels sacred to me and I would be humbled to take part in that.
Ryan:Young Fathers makes so much more sense to me. But I would love to hear a collaboration between you and Miley. That would be interesting. What’s your collab process like?
ya: With collaborations, the process is quite different from my usual songwriting; like in my personal life, I work better when I’m alone and in full control. I get a lot of collaboration requests and usually it consists of someone sending me an instrumental. Sometimes with part of their vocals on it and the only thing I need to do is write melody and lyrics for my voice, keeping in mind the aesthetics of the other artist to so it doesn’t clash.
In these cases, I’m more detached and sometimes will work on a song for weeks, changing the lyrics until the best result is reached whether with fully my own songs the process takes about twenty minutes, plus potential future polishing and producing. I have only had one collaboration so far which in my view matched to the standard and authenticity of my original solo music which is the song Cult on my album in collaboration with a Rhode Island – based rapper, Nerdteck. Maybe this is because I originally wrote the song, my hook and verse with acoustic guitar and later found a perfect instrumental.
Ryan: I totally get being detached, especially when you’re not in the same room together. I do love the fact that technology allows us to collaborate from Spain to Rhode Island.
Outside of Music
Ryan: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not making music?
ya: Limitless. I find myself very grateful to still have so much interest in almost everything from which I can learn something. All forms of art, of course I am very involved in. I write anything from prose, poetry to screenplays and theatre. I am very into film and actually have had filmmakers in my family. It’s another career I’m pursuing.
Fashion is very important to me, architecture, journalism, law and politic; literally anything within the arts and humanities spectrum. And it’s all I do. There’s not a part in my life where what I spend my time doing something that isn’t somehow related to my art-making. From more “fun” hobbies, I do indulge in parties when I feel the time is right, like I mentioned, I grew up in parties so it means a lot to me and it is the only time I can take somewhat of a break.
Ryan: That’s awesome. I’d love to read one of your scripts sometime!
Ryan: Your music is quite dark. You…are quite dark as an artist. What were you like as a kid?
ya: I’ve been “dark” since I was born, and more and more so I become each day. As a kid, I was neurotic and obsessively religious. My psychological issues were the worst at the time of my childhood. I had to fully alone manage more than any person, especially child could, so it made me strong but bitter.
It’s like there’s this lack of connection between me and other people because I know I will never be able to fully open up to anyone, I won’t be able to be fully honest and have these genuine relationships that I see. I don’t know what image you’re getting from my childhood but even though it was dark, I did have a lot of friends and grew up well-off and it was beautiful but painful. Now I thrive in darkness and nothing really scares me, I just try to keep up my interest and lust for life.
Ryan: A childhood like that creates endless possibilities as an artist, and you seem to be using that as much as you can.
Ryan: If you could go on a date with any artist, who would it be and what would you do?
ya: If I could go on a date with any other musician it would be Playboi Carti. We would make vampire love to each other and creep in the night, drinking stranger’s blood.
Ryan: That is a terrifying image.
Ryan: What are you doing to stay connected with your fanbase during the pandemic?
ya: The pandemic hasn’t made changes in my career. I started my music career in the midst of the pandemic. Although I was doing live shows locally in Spain before harsh restrictions, all my fans were online from the beginning; mostly in the US and UK and for them I do regular live shows on social media and keep creating more content.
Ryan: I’ve seen some of your live shows on social media. I recommend you guys follow ya. Her links will be at the bottom of the page.
Live Gigs and Stuff
Ryan: If you could perform in any city in the world today, where would you go?
ya: If I could do a gig in any city, it would be LA because you know…where to promote yourself if not in LA? Plus, it’s one of the cities in which my music is listened to the most and I know people would go hard.
Ryan: That would be an awesome show. Can’t wait to get live music back. If you had to choose a “last meal,” what would it be?
ya: My last meal choice would be Russian pancakes with red caviar and a shot of Vodka.
Ryan: I learned to never drink vodka with Russians. I learned the hard way.
Ryan: What keeps you going?
ya: What keeps me going is restless, obsessive ambition and not in an ego centrical way, but in a way that I genuinely feel and know and have felt and known my whole life that I need to release my art into the world ,as should everyone else who feels that need. Because if you feel it, the universe is in some way asking for it. We are all constantly changing the world and this feeling, in my opinion, means that there is some duty you have. That’s the way I often feel about my music and everything else in my life, actually. I feel it is my duty to make the best out of it. It’s a feeling that moves beyond the temporary, hedonistic wishes and basic human needs.
Ryan: Wow. That’s a great answer.
Ryan: We’re running short on time, so I have 2 more questions for you. What’s next for ya?
ya: Most of the time when I tell people about my plans, they end up not happening… I can tell you, I have big plans. The kind that some people laugh at, but it doesn’t bother me. What I can reveal now is my next biggest project is a music video for my most popular song Movie.
It’s pop track from my album, exploring the subject of identity and fame. My visual ideas for it consist of a surrealist music video in themes of selling the soul fused with the groovy, moody, modern pop sound. This will be my best music video ever, as I will be working with a film company in Moscow to make it as professional and as artistic as possible. For this, I have started a crowdfunding campaign which I hope will allow me to make this video come to life. At this point, it depends on my supporters, but I know I will do my best with the resources I do have.
One for the Fans
Ryan:Movie is the first song I heard from you. That was the one that made me reach out to you for the label. I can’t wait to see the video. One last question. What would you like to say to our readers?
ya: To my fans – Thank you for all your support and for spending time from your world to gain insight into mine. The connections we have are rare and very meaningful to me. And if you want to support me further, please, look into the crowdfunding or help me spread the word. I can guarantee you the most authentic and unique music video, and with it being for Movie, my most famous song and the most mainstream song, I know this project will go far. I’d love for you to take part in that.
To people who haven’t heard my music yet – I will very much appreciate you taking time to listening to my music. With it, I have opened myself up in a way I could never do in real life and have exposed myself in hopes to find a connection with the right person. If the right person is you, if you find something that moves you in my music, I know how valuable that is.
Ryan: Thank you so much for joining us today, ya. Your answers were incredible. I can’t wait for the video and I’ll chat with you soon!
Welcome to another edition of Le Café Music Blog’s Indie ArtistInterview Series. Today, we will be joined by multi-lingual, 18-year-old German pop artist, CassMae!
Cassie’s story is as incredible as her voice and I am so happy she is here to share it with us today. Let’s get right to it.
Ryan: Welcome, Cassie! Thanks for joining us today. How about a little intro for our readers?
CassMae: Hey everybody, I’m CassMae. I’m 18 and I sing and write songs here in Duisburg, Germany. Since I”m really into the Indian culture with its music and food, I integrate this spirit in my songs.
Born Blind: CassMae’s Musial Journey
Ryan: I think it’s amazing how you have incorporated Indian culture into your music. The sound you create is unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. When I watched your video for My Inner Peace, I was really intrigued, so I did a little research and read that you were born blind. Can you tell us a bit about your journey in music?
CassMae: When I was three years old, I had already destroyed my feet by constantly “drumming” them on the ground, so my parents found me a Djembé teacher. At the same time I got really obsessed with Chopin, so naturally, it didn’t take me too long to also learn the piano. I wrote my first song for my dad (in German) when I was six, started writing in English when I was ten. Eventually, I applied for a scholarship to the 5-Week-Performance-Program at Berklee where for the first time I got in touch with Indian music. Returning to Germany I started googling for Indian songs and entered an Indian music school for learning Tabla. From there I knew I wanted to mix sounds from the East and West.
Indian Culture and Her Music
Ryan: What is it about Indian culture that fascinates you?
CassMae: India fascinates me due to the variety of languages and religions. Their approach to music as something very divine, and of course I fell in love with the food.
Ryan: The food is incredible. Mutton Rogan Josh is so good. Have you ever been to India?
CassMae: No, never been to India but it’s definately top on my bucket list. I already started planning my stay there with an organization, but naturally, this is on hold now.
Ryan: I hope you are able to safely go soon. I miss traveling. So you sing in English, German, and Hindi. How many languages to you speak?
CassMae: German is my mother tongue. My mom was partially raised in Acton, Massachusetts, so I spoke English very early. In school, I took French and Spanish, which I speak fairly fluently. Of course, I now learn and speak Hindi, and I’m very interested also in Bengali, Tamil, Hebrew and Sanskrit.
Ryan: Wow. I’m lucky if I can ask where the bathroom is in more than 4 languages.
Release and Influences
Ryan: Tell us about your latest release and your upcoming project.
CassMae: On my very first album PAST LIFE which was released in November 2020, I combined my pop music with Indian, African, and Japanese sounds. All songs are very personal and have a rather melancholic vibe. I’m now writing new originals for an EP collaborating with Golow, who produced my debut album and is working very internationally.
Ryan:PAST LIFE is a beautiful album. So unique and refreshing. Who are your biggest musical influences?
CassMae: It has changed a lot over time. I really admired Ed Sheeran for his songwriting when I was younger. I love singers like Adele, Birdy, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Aaliyah. They are now joined by great Indian artists such as Lata Mangeshkar, Shreya Goshal, Sonu Nigam, Arijit Singh, and many more; A.R. Rahman is a great composer.
Life Outside of Music
Ryan: What do you like to do when you’re not making music?
CassMae: I talk a lot to friends. I meditate, read books and write poems. Whenever I can, I try to improve on languages, not really into sports but a little yoga.
Ryan: I need to find time to improve my French. It’s so hard to learn a language when you get old like me. haha. If music wasn’t an option for you, what would you do?
CassMae: I would probably train to become a therapist, glad I can do this with my music as well.
Ryan: Music therapy is a great option for you. I bet you were an interesting kid. What were you like when you were younger?
CassMae: I was pretty weird, having my own kind of language and a couple of imaginary friends. For some time I insisted people call me Chopin and sing everywhere I would go, would climb up every stage there was, and wouldn’t stop performing.
Ryan: Ha! Okay, Chopin. That’s hilarious. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
CassMae: I always call myself a “chicken-vegetarian,” since I can’t let go of butter chicken. So if there’s ever a great alternative I’ll give up meat altogether, but I doubt it can ever be replaced.
Ryan: How did I know it was going to be an Indian dish? Butter Chicken is delicious. If you were an animal, what would you be?
Ryan: My wife would be terrified of you. haha
Back to Reality
Ryan: How are you staying connected to your fans during COVID?
CassMae: I practically live on Instagram at the moment, trying to be creative in entertaining and reaching more people.
Ryan: That’s great. Instagram is a great tool to stay connected. If you could perform in any city in the world today, where you go?
CassMae: I would love to play in Mumbai, since it’s the city of Bollywood, but would also be glad to perform in any other huge city in India.
Ryan: That would be an amazing opportunity. I hope you get to perform there someday.
Ryan: What’s next for CassMae?
CassMae: I will hopefully be able to do a planned filming of a jam session in a very special location in May, finish the EP and shoot music videos, and be able to play the gigs that are already planned.
Ryan: One more question before I let you go. Do you have anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
CassMae: Give some Indian music and butter chicken a try and never lose hope. Thanks for this loverly interview, Ryan.
Ryan: No, thank YOU for the loverly interview, Cassie! You’re welcome to come back any time!
Ryan: Welcome, Gabby! Thanks for joining us today. Why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself.
Gabby: I am an eighteen year old Pop/R&B singer-songwriter from Orange County. I have been performing live for 6+ years. I currently gig at various locations in Southern California including The House of Blues Anaheim, and Copper Blues Live, singing and playing the piano. Right now I work as a hostess at a local restaurant and spend my free time studying to become a certified personal trainer. Rushing to sessions with my producer to work on my original releases, writing songs, and gigging at the venues that are fortunate enough to be open during this difficult time.
Ryan: Yeah, you’re definitely one of the lucky ones. Not a whole lot going on in Pennsylvania. It can be a bit depressing. So, tell me about your music.
Gabby: My artistry is a reflection of how I live my life through what I do. I never compromise the integrity of a song- whether I am writing it, playing it, or singing it. Embarrassing lines, stank faces, I put it all out there because the whole point my art is connection; and the best way I can do that is being honest in every form of the word. That’s what makes co-writing such a special experience for me, having the opportunity to share those vulnerable moments with someone and getting the privilege to help each other process emotions. Similarly, performing gives me the chance to connect with my audience in real time- something so foreign in our virtual world. That is why I gave up hangouts with friends/parties/dances throughout middle + high school to do music.
Ryan: Awesome. Dedicated is good. Not many 18-year-olds have that quality. Stank face is also good. You had a new song come out recently. Tell us a little about that.
Gabby:block u out was created in a post-breakup pandemic world. I was stuck in quarantine with nothing to do but stare at my white walls and overthink every last thing about the relationship and where I was at mentally/emotionally. It was written in a momentary feeling of letting the social media game influence my view of the relationship when it was present, admitting ‘..Feels like you never loved me the way I loved you.’ When something cuts you so deep, it’s hard to not question why it look so easy for someone else to live life like the boat hasn’t been rocked at all. In the end, the rest of the EP will go to show the realization that just because two people love each other doesn’t mean they’re better together. Life is about learning from your losses and moving forward to greater adventures.
Ryan: Lets have a listen to block u out by Gabby Neeley!
Ryan: What I love about the song is that it is SO relatable. I’ve been in that situation too many times.
Influence and Collaboration
Ryan: Who are your biggest influences?
Gabby: My biggest musical influences can differ based on what genre we’re discussing. Or whether it’s my favorite producers as opposed to songwriter opposed to singers..really just depends. My favorite songwriters are Julia Michaels,Violet Skies, Chelsea Lena, and Bruno Major; Whereas my favorites producers are Joji, the Band Camino, and Mike Woods. Favorite singers are definitely Jasmine Sullivan, H.E.R., and Lizzy McAlpine. My binge-artist of the month is Ben Kessler. A voice I could listen to on repeaaattt.
Ryan: Nice. Some solid names on that list. You can choose one artist to collaborate with…who ya taking?
Gabby: I would love to collaborate with Eloise. Her music is timeless, very acoustic and folk yet pop/singer-songwriter and always feels like one big hug no matter what she is singing about.
Ryan: Eloise is great! Good choice.
Life Outside of Music
Ryan: If you’re not making music, what are you doing?
Gabby: Before last year, I honestly didn’t have any hobbies outside of music because I went from being a full time student and partial professional musician to a full-time musician. But, after COVID hit, I saw an opportunity to make one of my other passions into a side hustle since live performing came to halt. I am currently studying up for the big NASM exam to be a certified personal trainer. Now you’ll be able to come to me for all of your music and fitness/nutrition related needs.
Ryan: What is this “fitness” word you speak of? Never heard it before.
Ryan: If music wasn’t an option, what would you be doing with your life?
Gabby: If music wasn’t an option, I would be studying Psychology and be on track to become a therapist just like my mother. It’s really the only other career I could ever picture myself having and being fulfilled. With that being said though, as long as I have the ability to play the piano / sing / songwrite either all together or individually, that’s what I’ll be doing.
Ryan: Hell yeah. It’s always an option. Have you ever had any weird day jobs?
Gabby: Well I’m not sure if this is weird but I am currently hostessing at a restaurant in addition to doing music full time, and the schooling for being certified as a trainer. It started out as being a job to merely cover the bills, but even though I could’ve quite a while ago with music picking back up a bit, I’ve grown to really love the environment and my coworkers.
Ryan: Nothing wrong with that. I have had far too many food industry jobs. When you get to my age, you will have no desire to do it again. haha
Youth & Keeping it Professional
Ryan: What was little Gabby like?
Gabby: I was annoying as hell as a kid! LOL. Singing in the shower, car, living room, school hallways, you name it. I always laugh when friends or colleagues say that my family is ‘so lucky’ to be surrounded by ‘that voice’ all the time. I’m sure there were times before the vocal lessons and knowledge of how to not be sharp or flat with every note that came out of my mouth that they wanted to duck tape it shut. Haha.
Ryan: I’m pretty sure every kid in the world was/is annoying a majority of the time. It’s not just you. haha. Let’s switch it up to present-day Gabby. You can go on a date with one musician…who are you picking?
Gabby: This is a hard one..?? I don’t even know, to be honest. I have always thought of other musicians in such a professional way because I’m constantly in the mindset of wanting to collaborate/work with an artist no matter their small or large scale of fame. Adding anything into the mix that could complicate those accomplishments has never really been in my mind. Especially being a woman in the industry, it’s even more important to keep things professional because of the extreme backlash we face unlike men, so that is why I think my subconscious breeded that mentality.
Ryan: That’s fair. You know what they say, “Don’t shit where you eat.” That’s really gross when I see it written out. Yikes.
Ryan: How are you staying connected to your fans during this difficult time?
Gabby: During the pandemic I started live-streaming way more frequently to try and stay connected with anyone following my social pages. Sometimes I play a set I would’ve been performing at gigs, other times doing Q&A’s about original music, and then simply just talking about random stuff when I was bored and felt like being around people, but couldn’t due to the circumstances.
Ryan: Live-streaming is a great way to do it. It does cure the boredom too. haha. If you could perform live in any city in the world right now, where would it be?
Gabby: If I could gig in any city in the world, I would play the Pantages Theatre in LA. I know you were probably expecting me to say somewhere more grand and ya know, more than 50 miles away haha, but that venue has always been on my wishlist. I’ve seen so many artists play there that inspire me, like Finneas, Todrick, Billie Eilish etc. so the space feels like a hometown scene for me.
Ryan: Hey, nothing wrong with picking your hometown. I’d probably pick AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong. As far away from home as possible. haha.
Ryan: How do you feel about the music industry going digital?
Gabby: If it were up to me, we would turn back time to when people had to purchase songs for $0.99 or watch the video on Youtube. I love the features on apps like Spotify when it comes to helping listeners discover new music and making playlists, but the app practically ROBS the creators of the very music in which it relies on to survive! The minimal rate it pays artists, producers, and most of all songwriters, is ridiculous and is making it mere impossible to support yourself as an indie artist in this day and age. Especially with the absence of live music being an option for revenue.It is a major issue that needs awareness and change!
Ryan: I agree. I love my Spotify as a fan of music…but I also know about the low payouts. Going digital is a great thing…as long as the creatives are being paid fairly for their work. What keeps you going in life?
Gabby: My daily affirmations keep me going. My family keeps me going. My therapist definitely keeps me going. Lol. Although I try to do everything on my own, in the end, you simply can’t as an independent artist. You will indeed drive yourself to madness. Trust me. Even if that means creating all the music (producing, writing, mixing/mastering) yourself, you still have all the post-fun responsibilities to take care of….art work, promo content, release strategy, marketing plan, budgeting plan, playlisting opportunities, press release, interview opportunities, etc to sort out. Reminding myself that although I’m capable to doing each of those things, that doesn’t mean I have to or should do it all myself, was a pivotal moment in my mindset and helped me keep going because I saved energy and time.
Ryan: Therapy is the best haha. And you’re absolutely right. A lot of artists don’t consider the promotional and marketing side of things. They expect their music to just magically be heard by millions of people. Good on you for recognizing that at such a young age.
This Sh** Is Bananas
Ryan: You know you have one day left on this planet. How are you spending that day?
Gabby: If I had one day left to live, I would go for a walk around the lake across the street from my house by myself. Take in the beauty of my surroundings. Go to the beach with my family, eat at our favorite restaurant, head over to Palm Springs to see my grandparents and play cards like we always do. No point in rushing to try and accomplish tasks or try new things I never got the chance to. I’d want to feel at peace, so rightfully so I would do things and see people I know bring me much of that.
Ryan: Sounds like a nice relaxing day! How about if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life?
Gabby: BANANAS! Lol. Always been and always will be my favorite food.
Ryan: You will never have a potassium deficiency.
Ryan: Alright, one last question. What’s next for Gabby Neeley?
Gabby: Lots of exciting things in the works I’m looking forward to.. But for now I’ll just say there is much more to come! I have many co-writes releasing this year, lots of originals from my own catalog that I’ll be releasing, and I’m currently taking on more vocal and piano students if anyone is in the market!
Ryan: Awesome! Looking forward to the new music!
For more on upcoming releases and all of those live streams, follow Gabby Neeley right here:
Today’s guest is Australian pop/r&b singer, Lauren Ojurovic! I heard Lauren sing for the first time about a year ago and I have been wanting to work with her ever since. This isn’t work, but it will do!
Ryan: Lauren! What’s up? Thanks for joining us this weekend. Why don’t we start off with a little introduction for the people that might not know you.
Lauren: Hey!! I’m Lauren, 26 from Sydney, Australia. I grew up in Western Sydney with my family and now live in the Sutherland Shire near the beaches, as I love the lifestyle.
Ryan: Ah, yes…Sutherland Shire. Home of the The 1979 novel, Puberty Blues haha. I love finding little random facts about places. All joking aside, that place looks beautiful and I’m jealous. You have a new single coming out soon, right?
Lauren: Yes! My track Into The Sun will be released soon (within the next month or 2) alongside my first video clip which I am SO excited for! To be releasing things that are true to my vision is so special to me.
Influence and Collaboration
Ryan: Can’t wait to hear it! You’ve got this smokey, soulful voice and I love it. Who are your biggest influences?
Lauren: Some of my many influences are Teyana Taylor, Victoria Monet,SZA, Alina Baraz, Kali Uchis, Doja Cat, and Bazzi.
Ryan: You are not heavily influenced at all…haha. If you could pick one of them to collaborate with, who would it be?
Lauren: Bazzi! His music is the best vibe.
Ryan: I can hear that collab in my head right now, and we’re going to need to make that happen. Bazzi, I know you’re reading this. Let’s go! What’s your collaboration process like?
Lauren: I haven’t had any collabs with other artists, but in the studio, I’ll book a day in with my producer who I always team up with. We’ll either start a new vibe from scratch and he’ll play some chords, or I’ll tell him the mood and we’ll jam it out from there. Or I’ll bring in a melody/lyric idea I already have and we’ll workshop that.
Ryan: That counts as a collaboration for sure!
Free Time and Day Jobs
Ryan: When you’re not making music…what are you doing?
Lauren: I love nature, and adventures, and anything that makes me feel like I’m experiencing my life to the fullest! My funniest and most random hobby is…I love hunting for glow mushrooms and glow worms and bioluminescent plankton. Yes it exists!!! And I love going for walks, jigsaw puzzles and games, and discovering new nature spots.
Ryan: I see nothing strange about that at all. I’ve seen the bioluminescent plankton in Thailand and it is beautiful! If music wasn’t an option, what kind of job would you want?
Lauren: Something creative!! I’m especially organized and list orientated, so who knows, maybe that could be of use haha.
Ryan: Professional list-maker. I like it. What’s the weirdest day job you’ve ever had?
Lauren: Not weird, but I used to pack luxury hampers and it was so cute and girly. Also worked for a flower delivery company. I loved handling all the flowers.
Ryan: You get to go on a date with one artist. Who are you taking?
Lauren: Kali Uchis, she is a living goddess and I want to experience her energy in person.
Ryan: Favorite food. Go!
Lauren: The answer to this question changes by the second..burgers, sushi, pizza……..
Ryan: The struggle is real. You have a drink in your hand, what is it?
Lauren: Water or alcohol, don’t drink soft drinks that often.
Ryan: Good for you. That sugar will kill you *cracks open a Red Bull*
Ryan: Australia terrifies me. Everything is deadly there. Have you ever had a close encounter with a deadly creature?
Lauren: I’m terrified of “S words” (rhymes with cider) and they are everywhere I look. And just so many bugs in the summer, it’s not even an over exaggeration and it’s NOT funny. I once turned my head on my pillow, and next to my eyes was an “S word” the size of my whole hand. I’m still traumatized.
Ryan: Alright. I’m not going to Australia. Ever.
Back to Life…Back to Reality
Ryan: If you could perform in any city tonight, where would it be?
Ryan: I feel that. I would perform in a barn for 100 people if I could. Last question for ya. What’s next for Lauren Ojurovic?
Lauren: I want to keep writing and creating, shooting more music videos and cover-art photo shoots. I’ve also got an originals show coming up on the 21st March at Lazybones Lounge Marrickville (Sydney) where I’ll be playing lots of new music 6:30-9:30pm.
Thanks, Lauren! Don’t forget to follow her on Spotify and look out for her release of Into The Sun!
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There are so many undiscovered indie artists out there that deserve to be heard. As an artist and A&R myself, I understand the importance of exposure in this industry. And not in the “perform for exposure” way. Independent artists need an audience now more than ever.
I also really enjoy discovering new music and having the chance to hear these artists before they blow up. I want you guys to discover these artists with me, that’s why I have started Le Café Music Blog’s Indie Artist Interview Series. That’s a mouthful.
Sam is an independent singer-songwriter out of Brooklyn, NY. He recently dropped his brand new 3 track EP on all streaming platforms. I’ll let Sam tell you all about it.
Indie Artist Interview Time!
Ryan: Welcome, Sam! Thank you so much for joining us today. Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Sam: My name is Sam Phelps. I’m a singer-songwriter from Kentucky. My hometown is Pulaski County. It’s a dry county…not like, “you can’t buy alcohol on Sunday…?” No, you can’t buy alcohol. Period. Legally anyway. So I got to experience bootleggers and real moonshine from time to time. I threw a backpack out a window at 17 and never really went back. I’ve lived in Brooklyn the last few years and it feels like home for now.
Ryan: Damn, man. I’ve been to little towns in Kentucky exactly like that. Definitely a massive change from a small, dry county to New York City. So, tell us a little about your latest release.
Sam: My latest release is a 3 song EP titled “Talking To A Friend.” It’s basically a nostalgic look at relationships I’ve had the last few years. One ending in a bad way. And two others that have been over for years.
Favorites and Influences
Ryan: Heartache is a bitch…but it can lead to great music. What is your favorite song you’ve ever released?
Sam: That’s a tough question. Maybe I Can’t Sing, because it was kind of the moment when I found the direction I wanna go in when it comes to songwriting. Or Talking To A Friend, for the simple fact the song came out of nowhere and wrote itself in minutes.
Ryan: I really enjoyed both of those songs. I can feel the personal connection in your lyrics. Who are your musical influences?
Sam: I’d have to say guys like Steve Earle and Tony Rice. I love a good sad song.
Ryan: Sad songs are my favorite. I’m kind of emo like that, I guess. Now, I want to talk about collaboration. If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be?
Sam: Steve Earle!!
Ryan: Man, I would love to hear that. I can definitely hear his influence in your music. It would be fun to see what you guys come up with. What is your collaboration process like?
Sam: It sounds fun and inspiring, but I haven’t actually done it yet.
Ryan: Solo all the way. Nice. If anyone reading this would like to collaborate with Sam, check his links below! Speaking of “collaborating,” if you could take one artist out on a date, who are you picking?
Sam: Probably Tinashe!! Cutie!
Life Outside of Music
Ryan: What are you doing when you’re not making music?
Sam: I like to read. Try to exercise a little. I kinda keep up with the fights.
Ryan: Nice. I hate exercise. So we’ve heard a bit about your life back in Kentucky. What were you like as a kid?
Sam: Not what I wanted to be. Didn’t get to have a lot of imagination. Had to stay focused. Nerves were a mess a lot of the time.
Ryan: Sorry to hear that, man. Imagination is the best part of being a kid. Being from a strict small town with a strict family must have been hard. I could imagine there were some interesting day jobs in Pulaski County. What’s the weirdest day job you’ve had?
Sam: Probably car salesman lol. I realize that’s not a weird job but it was for me. I hate dress shoes!
Getting Back to Normal Life
Ryan: It’s been a brutal year for all of us…it’s been especially brutal for artists. What are you doing to stay connected to your fans during the pandemic?
Sam: Trying to keep some social media stuff going. I wanna start doing a short IG live once a week or every other week.
Ryan: That’s a great way to do it! What if music wasn’t an option? What would you do?
Sam: Ouch! Don’t say that. But if that were the case I’d like to do something kinda secluded. Work on the water somewhere. Maybe fishing voyages on the ocean!
Ryan: That’s cool. I couldn’t do it. I get super seasick. Worked on a cruise ship for 6 months and thought I was going to die. As much as I hated that, I would kill to perform again. If you could perform in any city in the world, where would you go?
Sam: Probably Rapa Nui! Just to go back there.
Ryan: Ah, Easter Island! I’ve never been to Chile, but it’s on my bucket list. I’d go for the food alone.
Ryan: If you had to pick your “last meal,” what would it be?
Sam: Sushi. Sushi for sure. I had never had sushi before I moved to New York ( don’t know if I’d ever heard of it.) A girl took me on a date to a sushi restaurant and I plowed through a piece of sushi with a fork! She laughed at me and I was so embarrassed. It was definitely a “fresh off the farm” moment. But I loved it and eat it whenever financially possible now lol.
Ryan: I hear that. Sushi isn’t easy to figure out the first time haha. So you’re in New York…I gotta ask, what’s the best pizza in Brooklyn?
Sam: Oof. In Brooklyn I don’t know, but Proto’s in the lower East Side is clutch.
Ryan: I just looked at the menu and started drooling. Then I saw the New York prices. Yikes! Money is tight these days.
Ryan: So, here’s a deep question. What keeps you awake at night?
Sam: Wow! Regret. Nostalgia. Concern.
Ryan: All valid reasons. Good answer. What’s next for Sam Phelps?
Sam: Recording more music. Hopefully a little touring. Hopefully no more 9-5!
Ryan: Preach it, brother. Do what you love. One last question for you. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?
Sam: Anyone who’s ever been encouraging, I really REALLY appreciate it. It means literally everything to me. It’s what I want to do. It’s the only thing I know of passion and love.
Ryan: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us today and for being the very first artist in Le Café Music Blog’s Indie Artist Interview Series! Congrats on the EP!
Follow and Listen to Sam Phelps!
Here is Sam’s new EP, Talking to a Friend. Tell us what you think in the comments!