Festivals Q&A Videos

Video Interview: David Nail

I’m officially making the move to Brooklyn this week (yay!). With freelance work and packing keeping me super busy, I thought I’d make it Video Week on the blog and showcase all the video interviews I’ve worked on.

Just over a year ago I began filming interviews thanks to my friend and talented photographer/videographer Wendy Hu. David Nail was the first video interview we conducted last summer at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville. It’s crazy to think some of our Q&A;’s have received over 6,000 views! We have a few more to edit and post later this summer, so stay tuned!

A self-proclaimed mama’s boy, Nail filled me in on his transition into the country music scene, the inspiration behind some of his songs and his favorite part of performing in the video below. Be sure to visit him on MySpace.


Video credit: Wendy Hu



Last Tuesday, Chambers released debut album, Old Love. With the goal to capture their live sound on the record, having witnessed their show this past Saturday, the five-piece band no doubt accomplished this. The LP embodies 11-tracks of aggressive rock & roll, hard vocals and killer guitar riffs that is bound to energize every listener.

I chatted with frontman Dan Pelic before the show about Chambers’ songwriting process, maintaining his voice throughout the set and what exactly he’s thinking about when screaming in the pit while fans are jumping on him. His answers may surprise you. Read below for more and be sure to visit the band on MySpace.

Reviewers have been comparing you to Doomriders and saying Old Love is an Album of the Year contender. Why do you think the album has been so well received?Well, I think they give us too much credit. I think these guys will probably hear someone else who’s just as exciting two months from now and say, “Oh, that’s the album of the year.” That’s a really scary, heavy term that we’re not deserving to have placed upon us right now being that we haven’t even been playing out for a year yet. I appreciate the general excitement about the record. I think what it is is that we’re a mish-mosh of a bunch of different influences. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything like that. We are something refreshing in our energy and the fact that we’re rooted in rock & roll makes us accessible and headbangable. That’s something a lot of the reviewers are getting excited about. That they’re not having to compute and decode and decrypt what we’re trying to do. It’s something they can turn on and immediately start banging their head to and get into.

But, we’re still refreshingly different in the sense that we’re rock & roll being played heavily with extremely hard vocals over it. I think that’s our secret. I come from a much heavier background where I’m rooted in hardcore punk and metal and everybody else in the band are strictly rooted in rock & roll. I think that’s our secret, just combining heaviness in one portion and the other portion being something with more swagger and rock & roll with sleaze.

What’s your songwriting process?
Originally, it was the band riffing. We would have three band practices a week, I wouldn’t come to one of them and they would riff and just noodle around for an entire practice and record it. They would send me riffs and would say, “Write over it and come in.” Basically what happens is, they send me a demo and then I’ll take something that I’ve already written or I’ll write to it and put it over the music and we’ll come in to meet together and adapt whatever I’ve written to fit over it and do some arranging. The vocal melodies are made to the music, but the lyrics are written as poetry and that’s taken and put over the music. It’s basically jamming and taking parts and gluing them together. A lot of times the words have been written and the way that we structure the words will dictate how the arrangement of the music will go down at the end of the process.

I wanted to ask you about “Crap Out.” You’re screaming in it, but there is also some singing too.
The singing is actually Nathan Gray. He sings in a band called The Casting Out. He was in a legendary band called Boy Sets Fire and he’s providing the clean vocals on that track. It started off as me screaming that line, but then I started to sing that second line and I thought it was a good dynamic to have. It wasn’t really working for me. I don’t feel my clean singing vocal tone really fit.

We became friends with him from playing together with his new band and we decided to bring him into the studio and he did it and it sounded great. He came over to the studio at 1 ‘o’clock in the morning when all they wanted to do was drive back home to Delaware. He was a sport about it and stayed around and recorded those vocal tracks and he realized that chorus to its fullest potential.

Do you plan on doing that in the future?
Yeah. I’m a big Phil Anselmo fan from Pantara, Superjoint Ritual and Down. I don’t play guitar or anything, everybody else writes everything, they write the music. Provided that what they want to do allows for me to do some clean vocals, I want to do some clean vocals. But gritty, none of this Auto-Tune stuff. I want to do something gritty, but cleaner than the aggressive screaming that you hear on the rest of the record.

The title track is very edgy and aggressive, but underneath it’s almost more of a positive song.
It is in a way. Basically the song is about being really hung up on somebody for a long time. I don’t know if you want to use the metaphor, “Getting under somebody to get over somebody.” But, it’s about being really hung-up on somebody for a while and making a real strong sexual connection with someone [else] that it’s just so ridden with ecstasy that you kind of forget.

If you listen to the words, it’s about having great sex with someone and forgetting about someone and helping them teach you that you can make a new, strong connection. Albeit it’s sexual and shallow, but a new connection with someone else to help you get over someone from the past. So yeah, I guess it is a positive song. It sounds angry and everything but when you listen to the words . . . when you juxtapose that with the rest of the songs on the record, I think it sounds probably the most positive out of all the other songs that we have.

Do you have a favorite track, or one that means more to you than the others?
“So Here’s That Song I Wrote About You” I really love that one and “The Nest.” Those are probably my two favorites on the records. I want to start playing the last track, “Tragedy” live. My bandmates aren’t too keen on playing it live, but I want to make it happen as soon as possible.  That’s my personal opus. I wrote that in a hospital bed when I was going out with somebody who was absolutely robotic and terrible. Wouldn’t even come visit me while I was hospitalized. That song is a symbolic last straw. That song to me is really heartfelt. So I would definitely say “Tragedy,” “The Nest” and “So Here’s That Song I Wrote About You” are the pinnacles for me.

What can fans expect from your live show?
A lot of our hype has come from the UK. People really want us to come there, but it’s hard. Airfare, money. We were offered a tour over there with a band called Trash Talk but it was only eight dates and it was x amount of money per date. We don’t care about losing money to expose ourselves. We’ve been spending tons of money on PR and radio to help get our music onto the radio and get people to listen to us and write about us. It would have been a catastrophic amount of monetary loss. One dude in our band has a mortgage to pay. He’s trying to sell his house to alleviate that financial burden for himself.

There’s critical acclaim, but that’s not what matters the most. What matters the most is getting people to watch you. We feel that every single show we play, we nab a couple of new fans no matter where it is, be it here or out of state. That’s the bread and butter of being a band. People can talk and hype and hype and hype. There have been a million bands that I know that have been hyped, but nothing has happened for them. People from the press and reviewers and reporters can say what they want, but it really do
esn’t matter if people aren
’t coming along to your shows and singing with you.

What are you thinking about while you’re onstage or on the floor performing and people are jumping on you and pushing you across the floor?
So, while everything is happening around me and people are jumping on me and what not, aside from physically dealing with the onslaught, I am thinking about the meaning behind each line that I am singing. If I just sang the words, I wouldn’t be half as into it. But when I’m remembering and reliving what I went through to need to write those words, I explode.

How do you maintain your voice?
Just like traditional singing, opera singing, singing in a rock band, whatever, there’s a technique to screaming just like there is for that. Basically learning proper technique and a lot of it is breath control and the way that you open up your throat to release the breath, it’s all about using your gas tank to put it out there. Long story short, learning proper screaming technique is essential for maintaining your voice, not only in the long term, but through the course of your set. If you’re just blowing out your voice in the first 10 minutes of your set and the last 15-20 minutes suck, that sucks for everybody. A lot of people think that music that has screaming over it is just senseless screaming. No, there’s actually technique. I’m hitting notes. I’m listening to the monitors and I know where I’m at. There’s definitely a technique and an art to screaming.

What makes Chambers different from every other band out there?
I think the fact that we’re dangerous sounding, we’re dangerous to see live to a degree. We’re very aggressive, but the fact that even though all five of us come from such different backgrounds, all five of us have common rock & roll influences, and who the fuck doesn’t like rock & roll? Anyone can come in and move to our music and appreciate it is what I feel makes us different. We’re very dangerous, but we’re not complicated to digest. We’re not so offensive that you can’t get over the things that we’re saying and talking about and doing onstage. The fact that anyone can at least appreciate it is what sets us apart while still being very aggressive and on the edge and what punk rock and hardcore bands are “supposed to be.” We try to be as heavy as we can but we still have this swagger to our music that’s rooted in rock & roll. We have a very diverse group of friends and those are your first fans and all our friends dug it from the get-go.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
I usually tell people we’re a really aggressive rock & roll band with heavy vocals. We don’t like to be pigeonholed into punk or hardcore or metal core, metallic hardcore as they call it in England. We have integrity. We have ideals that are rooted in hardcore and punk, but we like to play in front of whoever is in the audience. Whichever audience we play in front of it doesn’t matter as long as people are banging their heads and things are happening for us. We want to be successful without compromising ourselves. That’s where our integrity lies. We’ll never compromise our sounds, but we’ll do what it takes to bring this to be career musicianship.



Over a decade and five albums later, Hanson is back with their latest, Shout It Out. They’re not quite the boys you remember. They’ve got a grown-up look and a few twists to their sound — piano-driven arrangements, a more soul-oriented feel — but the band never left its summer-pop roots.

I chatted with Taylor Hanson about the new album, life as a husband and dad, and whether he’s tired of playing “MMMBop.” His answers may surprise you.

Is a song better when it’s based on something specific in your life?
The quality of a song does not depend on the subject matter. It depends on what subject matter gets into the song, but it doesn’t depend on whether that subject matter actually happened. As little kids, we would write songs about betrayal, relationships that had gone bad and the cheating woman. Where did that come from? You don’t know exactly where stories come from necessarily, but that’s what a song is. It’s a relatable story. The songwriting process is about never turning off and always being aware of what’s around you and not being afraid to be inspired by things.

For my complete interview with Taylor Hanson on Lemondrop, click here.


Val Emmich

Last week, I covered New Jersey based singer-songwriter Val Emmich’s acoustic set at Turtle Club in Hoboken. Before and during the show he took fan requests. Emmich said with six albums, it’s often difficult to teach his full band each individual song. “For these acoustic shows, I feel like I need to pay back my fans and play what they want to hear.”

Afterward, we chatted about his songwriting process, life at Rutgers, and how his acting roles on hit television shows like “Ugly Betty” and “30 Rock” influence his life. Read on to find out how the former American Studies major got his start in music and advice he has for you. Be sure to visit Val Emmich on MySpace and stay tuned for a new album in the upcoming months.

What is your songwriting process like?
The songwriting process for this album was a lot different. Previously, I would usually find myself in some mood. Frustrated, sad or hyper, I would pick up a guitar or set up a piano and it would come out in some way. Then, I would sing a melody that came to me naturally and work on lyrics. It usually happened in that way; music, melody, lyrics. In this case, I worked with this production team called Near Records. We just sat there and co-wrote together. I’d sit at the piano or someone would play guitar and I’d sing. It was fun for me because it got me out of my own head. Being a solo artist can sometimes have its limitations. It’s also very freeing because no one’s saying no to you.

You went to Woodstock by yourself to write a few albums ago. Do you find it better to be by yourself?
I guess it’s an ongoing search. At that moment, let’s call it a bad breakup with my record company. So, I needed to find what I loved about music again and find a rebirth. I really did feel like a child going away to learn from square one. It was really liberating. I would just sit there. I woke up in the morning, drank coffee and wrote whatever came to me. I know I wrote songs alone there with no distractions that I would have never written anywhere else and couldn’t write today because I was putting myself in that situation. I was lonely. I was isolated. I had a big beard. I was unkempt and I just feel like I had nothing to do but write, and it made me feel safe to write.

I think it’s about finding new challenges and new ways to get you out of your habits because I think you could become predictable. Often, people like first albums of people and then they think they went off. I think it’s hard to keep it fresh. This new album was the same thing. I tried to come up with a new process.

You’ve been in a bunch of TV shows including “Ugly Betty” and “30 Rock.” Do any of those experiences find their way into your songs?
Into the songs, no, but into me as a person. Anytime you can meet new people. Today I met this guy who was talking like he had a frog in his throat. I was just obsessed with his voice. Maybe a year down the line, some voice lyric will come. Or a character in fiction I write. I just feel like you should be open to life. The TV stuff, it puts me in touch with fear because I’m always scared when I do those things and I’m meeting new people and they’re used to what they’re doing and I’m the newcomer. But it’s a challenge. It makes me feel alive.

Some of your songs come across as being sad, but the music is often upbeat. Why is that?
On my last record, I wanted to try to do it all by myself with literally no one else. The Woodstock stuff, Sunlight Searchparty, I wrote by myself but then played it live for the band. For Little Daggers, I did it by myself in my bedroom. I wanted no one else to get in my head. I sent a bunch of songs to a producer friend of mine, Jason Cupp and he said, “What I like about these songs is that they sound happy, but they’re kind of sad. The good ones. You should get rid of these and focus on these other ones that have that weird juxtaposition.” He pointed it out to me. That was intentional, but it was something that came out naturally.

I love your song “Hurt More Later.” What was the inspiration behind it?
I think it’s so joyous to get into a relationship even when you have a feeling, “I don’t think this girl is the right one for me ultimately. But it feels good now. I kind of feel like she’s a cheater maybe or she’s not being totally honest. But, we have a good chemistry and the sex is good.” So, you let yourself go even though you know you’re going to hurt more later. That was the feeling I was trying to capture. Throw caution to the wind.

What’s going through your head when you’re performing? I noticed you close your eyes a lot.
Not always. This was a peculiar situation where people are right there and I didn’t have a stage. Usually when you’re on a stage and the lights are there, you’re shielded a little bit and you see nothing and that helps to open up. I did go into my own shell today.

My thoughts wander and I try to follow them if I feel like a lyric hits me and I’m angry I go with it. Or, if I feel hyper I let my body do it. I’m just trying to find a new way of enjoying it. This sounds so crazy, but I just thought [performing] does remind me of sex where someone will do something and you’re like, “Oh wow. Woah, I never thought of that. Let me do that,” and you follow the feeling just because it feels good. Same thing onstage. You’re like, “I’m going to go over here. Woah.” It’s about being open to that and I think some people are too scripted and they get into routines and they don’t feel spontaneous onstage.

Do you feel a song comes out better when it’s based on real life, or do you draw from fantasy as well?
Both. There are literal songs where this literally happened. “Shock,” a song about deceit literally happened and I just wrote what happened, my blatant feelings. There are other ones that I take an emotion and I let it wander. I find that the ones that aren’t bound to truth are usually more interesting. It’s just like acting. If you go for a role as a killer, do people assume you’re a killer? No. You just feel like, “Oh, I’ve felt anger before. I’ve felt out of control before. I can imagine taking the next step and killing. If I could just think there.” It’s the same thing with songwriting. If I feel sad I can sometimes make myself feel sadder in songs. Who wants to hear a lukewarm song? You want to hear the most extreme feeling you can and the most potent.

I went to Rutgers also so it’s always nice to see fellow alumni succeed at what they love. What was your background there?
Sometimes I wish I went to the Fine Arts school there, Mason Gross. Part of me is artistic and part of me is really cerebral and I like factoids and more scholastic stuff. [My major was] American Studies. It’s a focus on America in all different facets. So it’s history, literature, economics, politics. So many people just get a narrow focus. They only major in politics or only major in economics. I get it all, so it’s probably a metaphor of me as a person just trying to be well rounded. Someone important in my life always tells me I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none. Which, she doesn’t really mean as a compliment I don’t think. But, I do like to dabble. Maybe I’d be better off just focusing on one thing and being excel
lent at it. At Rutgers I did
the same thing, I minored in English and minored in Philosophy because I just wanted it all. I still want it all.

What’s your advice to aspiring singers?
I followed what I wanted to do. Luckily my parents weren’t the kind of parents where I came home and they said, “American Studies. What job are you going to get with that?” They supported the music I wanted to do so I was fortunate in that way. If you have a bunch of people telling you “No,” it’s a lot harder. Another person in my life found me in college and said, “I really think you’ve got something here,” and it made me believe I could do music. I really believe the nurturing of art and artists is important, which is why I always try to talk to people and answer emails because you never know when your email might be the thing that they go, “Maybe I could do this.”

My inspiration: surround yourself with people who make you believe. A friend from Rutgers was here tonight who I haven’t seen since Rutgers and he said, “It makes me feel comforted that you’re still doing what you love.” And I got what he meant. I’d be upset if some of my friends stopped doing what they love. I would lose faith. I feel like you just take examples from other people and if I’m an example to someone, then that’s an amazing thing.

Benefit Interviews

Vita Chambers

Vita Chambers is an artist to watch. The 16-year-old singer hails from Barbados and is making her mark in the music scene with infectious singles, “Like Boom” and “Young Money.” Be on the lookout for Chambers this summer on the Bamboozle Roadshow and Lilith Fair. But, before that, she’ll be performing next Thursday at Girls Who Rock, a benefit concert hosted by She’s the First. To learn more about Vita Chambers, read below and for all the details on Girls Who Rock, visit the Web site.

What first sparked your decision to pursue a career in music?
I knew it’s what I wanted since I was a very little girl. It started with all the school plays I was in. I never cared which character I played, as long as I was singing the entire time I was happy. The more plays I did, the more I fell in love with performing!

What inspires you?
My fans, always. From reading their tweets to seeing them in the audience, everything about my fans is inspiring to me. They keep me going!

What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced? How did you overcome them? 
Not being able to be in a normal high school setting has been difficult. I definitely miss being able to fool around in class with my friends. But my tutor is chill so he makes up for it! When I’m faced with an obstacle, I’m a glass half full kinda girl. I try to always have a positive outlook on life no matter what.

What’s your songwriting process?
Honestly, I don’t really have a formula! I carry around a little journal with me and when ideas pop into my head I jot them down. At the end of the day I review my notes and try to make sense of them through a song.

What was your favorite subject to learn in school, besides music?
My favorite subject in school has always been biology! I can’t explain why, it’s just all cool to me.

What were you the first to do or what will you be the first to do?
I will be the first 16 year old musician to use my music to stress the importance of educating girls all over the world.

What the next big thing happening in your career?
I’ll be touring on the Bamboozle Roadshow. I’ve already done some shows and its been so much fun! I’m one of the only girl acts so I’ve been hanging out with all guys the entire time, its great!

What’s your favorite “girl power” song?

“Just a Girl” by No Doubt.

Why did you decide to get involved with She’s the First?
There are three things that have always been very important to me; Giving back, education and girl power. These are the exact three things that define She’s the First. It’s an amazing campaign with a message that I will always back up. Every girl in the world deserves an education.

Related Links:
Girls Who Rock: Meet Kat DeLuna
Girls Who Rock: Meet MoZella
Girls Who Rock: Meet Shontelle
Girls Who Rock: Meet Cara Salimando

MaryAnne Marino

I chatted with New York singer-songwriter MaryAnne Marino last year as she was boarding a flight to New Orleans for a performance. She filled me in on her new EP, A Little Something, the transformation from being in a band to a solo artist and songwriting.

While she has garnered comparisons to Carole King and Joni Mitchell, Marino explains her music as Sarah McLachlan meets Aimee Mann. “But not as ethereal as Sarah McLachlan and not as alternative as Aimee Mann. If they were to have to have a child, maybe [I’d be] somewhere in between,” she said.

Read on to learn more about MaryAnne Marino, and give her a listen on MySpace.

Tell me about your EP. Was the recording process any different from a full record?
It was. I initially had gone into it thinking I would be a doing a full record. I had enough material to do a full record. My first solo record was done in one shot. It was a little more on schedule, whereas with the EP it moved in different phases. I recorded 9 or 10 songs and I just thought, “You know what? I’m just going to stick to doing an EP right now.” More importantly, just getting it out and having new material out. With digital distribution, I don’t know how many people are buying records these days unless you go to a show. I still go and buy records, but not as much as downloading digitally. So, I thought if that’s what people are doing, it doesn’t really matter.

You recorded nine songs. How do you decide what fits on the EP?
It just felt right, as far as the arrangements and what was coming together naturally, and that was really important for me. Sometimes when you record songs, if it doesn’t feel right you don’t want to push it to make it something. That’s the pace I was in. Although, the songs I put on the EP I really like. It made sense to wait and I think I’m probably going to do another EP, or maybe I’ll do a full record. It’s to be determined at this point. It’s what came together that felt right and natural and made sense.

You were originally the vocalist of the November Project and then you decided to go solo. What sparked that decision?
You know it’s funny; I was solo before I was in the November Project. And, actually going into a band was really different for me. I was nervous at first because I had always thought of myself as a singer-songwriter on my own. But, it was such a great opportunity and I loved the material. It was a good way to break into a scene that was new to me. It made sense at the time and that’s why I did it.

Was there a change when you decided to go solo again?
It really wasn’t because at the same time I was still continuing to play gigs [as a solo act]. I continued to do my own thing. That never stopped. November Project was just my main focus at that time. It felt really natural because in my mid-teens I was in bands. I think if the chemistry is right with the people, then it feels good.

You’re focusing on your solo career now. Do you think there will ever be a time you’d want to go back to a full band setup?
I try not to say never, but you never know. I’ve been playing with a lot of the same players for a long time. Actually, the drummer of November Project and I still play together. In a way, I always feel like when I have a band that it’s a band in my mind. It’s always nice to have the support so you don’t feel so alone. There are times when you’re trying to move your career forward and it’s so hard to do it by yourself.

What are you thinking about when you perform?
It changes. Depending on the audience or even the room, sometimes you just go off the energy of a room. That’s what I think is great about music, it always changes. Even when you play the same song, it always changes because the audience changes, the energy, or how you’re feeling or how the music is feeling. I always try to focus on what I’m doing at the moment but of course sometimes you think, “Is this right?” But you try to stay in the moment and play the music.

You’ve been compared to Carole King and Joni Mitchell. How do you feel about that?
I don’t know. I don’t think these people are…its like are you sure? Are we talking about the same people here? I’m pretty modest so I find that over the top flattering. Those are people that I completely admire. I hope to be at that level some day.

I know artists hate this question, but how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
I have to do that all the time. Right now, I’m at the airport and the security was like, “So what do you sound like?” You’d be surprised how many times that comes up and you never seem to find the one-liner. Maybe I should come up with that. When people ask, I always say its singer-songwriter, folk pop but with an organic and almost a tinge of ethereal. I always think Sarah McLachlan meets Aimee Mann, but not as ethereal as Sarah McLachlan and not as alternative as Aimee Mann. If they were to have to have a child, maybe somewhere in between.

Your songs all have moving tales within them. Do you feel a song is better when it happened to you?
You write from all kinds of places. It could be your own experience, somebody else’s experience. If you write from an honest place, no matter whose experience it is, if it’s coming from an honest place and you’re not forcing it, then those songs always feel personal and good.

Do you find you get responses from songs that are more personal to you?
Sometimes. There are a few songs that always seem to go over really well. My song, “Conversation,” which is funny because [the lyrics are] a stream of consciousness, people really gravitate to and seem to like that one. “Dear Mom and Dad” is pretty personal and people can relate to it, for the obvious. I think certain songs do resonate with people more than others. Probably the ones that I also feel closest to translate better. I have songs that I don’t play live because I don’t feel connected to them, so I guess that makes sense.

Do you ever hold back because you don’t want to be so revealing in your songs?
I guess there’s a way to be personal, but not be revealing. There’s a fine line and it’s better to have a little bit of mystery in my opinion.

You’re headed to New Orleans to perform. I’ve heard they have a great music scene.
It’s unique to be here during this time. I’ve never been in a place that you can feel change and feel like you’re contributing to rebuilding something. It’s hard to explain because the city’s different since Katrina happened. A lot of natives left and people that remain there, it’s almost like they want to recruit people to their city to rebuild it.

It’s very different from New York. There’s no business there. That’s what it feels like. It’s more that they just love music and they love a certain type of music and that’s what is really important to them. When you go to New York or LA it becomes a hustle bustle of “Let’s get songs placed and let’s be famous.” You can’t forget the business part of it. In one way, it’s great because it’s how you grow your business and do the things you want to do as an artist. On the other hand, it’s interesting. I’m doing shows in New Orlean
s with some of the local musi
cians and they have a very different perspective. It gives you a whole other perspective.

What is the biggest struggle you face as a singer-songwriter?
There is so much out there. It’s really being heard and with the business part of the music industry changing, it’s hard to get out there and find your place. With the industry changing so much, it’s very challenging for female singer-songwriters. I think of Lilith Fair and how wonderful it was and there was a movement with great female singer-songwriters. I don’t know what happened with that, they’re not as valued as much or there’s so much else with pop music that it’s easy to get lost in it.

What is it about the music that keeps you motivated?

I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It keeps itself going in a way. Even if you’re down about it, it’s something that you do. I couldn’t imagine not doing it.

Benefit Interviews

Kat DeLuna

Pop sensation Kat DeLuna has been making waves since first single, “Whine Up” was released in 2007. The track made its way onto the Billboard Hot 100 and the Pop 100, an impressive debut for any singer. Additionally, the versatile artist has collaborated with notable acts including everyone from Busta Rhymes to Lil Wayne and Elephant Man.

Three years later, DeLuna is back with current club jam, “Push Push.” Featuring Akon, the track is sure to be another summer hit. Gearing up for the release of her sophomore album, Inside Out, in the upcoming months, DeLuna will be making a stop at Santos Party House June 10th in New York for Girls Who Rock, a benefit concert for She’s the First.

To find out more on DeLuna and why she decided to get involved with Girls Who Rock, read below. To purchase tickets to Girls Who Rock, click here.

What first sparked your decision to pursue a career in music?
I’ve been singing ever since I was a little girl. When I was three years old, I took a microphone for the first time and sang in front of hundreds of people. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted a career in the music industry.

What inspires you?
Everything around me serves as inspiration for me. Whether it’s the people that surround me or the environment that I am in, it is all capable of inspiring me.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced?
I have faced quite a few obstacles in my life including poverty and not having enough positive role models, other than my mother. People say that obstacles are suppose to limit what you can do in life, but I’ve always been about trying to prove people wrong, to go further than their expectations. This drive has given me the strength to overcome.

What’s your songwriting process?
I don’t really have a songwriting process. When I begin to write a song, I look and reflect on my inspirations from that day and just begin. It is really a freeing, stream of consciousness type of thing.

What was your favorite subject to learn in school, besides music?
Besides music, my favorite subject in school was literature. This class quickly became my favorite because not only would we read plays out loud but we would also act them out. It was a chance to perform, and I gained a lot of my confidence from this class.

What were you the first to do or what will you be the first to do?
I want to be the first ever international, crossover Pop star of Dominican descent to make it big in the music scene.

What’s the next big thing happening in your career?
I just finished shooting the music video for my new single “Push Push” in Atlanta with Akon. “Push Push” is the lead single off my upcoming album, Inside Out, which is due out later this year on GBM/Universal Motown.

What’s your favorite ‘girl power’ song?
“I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan. Oh, and “Unstoppable” by me.

Why did you decide to get involved with She’s the First?
I decided to get involved with She’s the First because I’m a strong woman who had to go through many obstacles to get to where I am today. As a survivor of poverty, I consider myself to be a fighter and I have been put into many positions in my life that I feel I wouldn’t have able to survive if I wasn’t one! I want to show women all around the world that anything is possible as long as you stay strong and persevere. You can be any woman you want to be, just do it and don’t be afraid to go against whatever stands in your way! Try and loose your sensitivity so no one and nothing can hurt you, and go hard!

Related Links:
Girls Who Rock: Meet MoZella
Meet the Artist Who Inspired Girls Who Rock
Girls Who Rock: Meet Shontelle
Girls Who Rock: Meet Cara Salimando
Q&A Videos

Video Interview with Colbie Caillat

Photo and video credit: Wendy Hu

I sat down with Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat this past Sunday before her performance for VH1 Save the Music at W Hotel in Hoboken. Caillat filled me in on co-writing, dealing with stage fright and her two Grammy wins. For the complete article, visit Hoboken Patch.

Watch the video below.


Related Links:
Colbie Caillat Debuts New Music Video
Song of the Week: “Lucky”
John Mayer, Colbie Caillat and Brett Dennen Impress in New Jersey
Artist Profile: Colbie Caillat

Blast From the Past: Q&A with Colbie Caillat

Tomorrow I will interview Colbie Caillat in Hoboken when she performs at a special event for VH1 Save the Music. The California-based singer-songwriter is an ambassador for VH1 Save the Music and has collaborated and won two Grammy’s for her songs with Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz. Her sophomore album, Breakthrough has received rave reviews and was also nominated for a Grammy.

I chatted with Caillat just about two years ago before her US summer tour began with John Mayer. To listen to Colbie talk about how her life has changed, writing songs in the bathroom and advice from John Mayer click here. For advice from Colbie to aspiring musicians, MySpace and why she thinks “Bubbly” is such a hit, click here. Feel free to read the full interview below and check out her MySpace to catch her on tour this summer. Stay tuned for my interview tomorrow in the upcoming week!

It’s been just about a year since your debut album came out. How has life changed for you?
So much. A year and a half ago I was just working at a tanning salon and I was recording my album. Now, I’ve been to . . . I can’t even count how many different countries playing my music all over the word, living on a tour bus. It’s a lot different, but it’s fun.

Did you ever imagine MySpace would have had such a huge impact on your career?
Not at all. No, I had no idea. I didn’t even know what MySpace really was or could do. My friend made the page for me and told me about it and he helped me upload my songs and everything so I had no idea.

How did the whole process on getting your record deal come about?
Well, because I was on MySpace and was eventually on the top of the unsigned artist chart. I was No.1 and I was easily noticed by people and the record labels would notice me easily and that’s how they found me and then offered me a record deal.

You pretty much had your songs written before the record deal happened, right? Did you have a certain concept for the album?
Oh yeah, the whole thing was written. The label came into it a month and a half after we were already into recording the album. I wrote these songs and every time we’d go into the studio we’d add instruments up until when we felt like they were complete. I just wanted the music to sound good, laid-back and really pretty and uplifting and sunny and that was the concept I guess.

I read that you write songs in your bathroom.
Yeah. I do. [Laughs]. It sounds good in there. Usually when I was at home in my bathroom, I felt like no one could hear me because I was in my own little world. It echoes in there so it makes your voice sound pretty and your guitar has some reverb on it. And now, on tour, being in my hotel room I go into the bathroom and close the door because if I sing really loud, people can hear me down the hall. It’s my comfort zone.

Do you remember the first time you heard “Bubbly” on the radio?
Yeah. Well, the first time I heard it I didn’t really count it because we were on our way to that radio station. But the first time I heard it randomly, I was back home on a little break from tour and my family and I, we went out to lunch at this restaurant we always go to. Halfway through lunch, we were outside and “Bubbly” came on and my family of course started freaking out. My mom got up and started dancing. It was really exciting.

Are you tired of playing “Bubbly” yet?
There are times when I am. Usually it’s for TV performances because I get so, so nervous on TV that I always mess up the song and then I just dread singing it the next time. Lately, we just went back on tour a week ago, so now I’m actually excited to sing it again. I just need little breaks from it.

You’re starting up a summer tour with John Mayer, you must be so excited!
Yeah. I’m kind of freaking out. [Laughs].

Has he given you any words of wisdom about the music industry?
Yeah, he has. I met him six months ago and we were talking. I told him I have stage fright and lots of fears. So he just told me to have fun up onstage and not worry because anything you do up there, people laugh at. Even if you mess up they kind of appreciate it more. As far as making decisions, like business decisions, he just said to do what you feel and go with your gut so I do that and it works.

Has your stage fright gotten better over the past year?
It has gotten a little better, but it’s honestly different depending on the situation. If it’s not as big of a deal TV show I’m fine. If it’s Leno or The Today Show I freak out completely where I cry right before I go on. I do vocal warm-ups with my band before and breathing techniques and I have to remember to smile. Sometimes, depending what time of day it is, I will have a cocktail before I go onstage just to calm me down a little bit.

Your debut album, Coco, is approaching it’s year mark later this month. Are you working on another album?
Well, the third single comes out in August for “The Little Things.” We just shot the music video for that in Hawaii a couple weeks ago. But yeah, I’m working on the next album. I’ve been writing for the past year and we’ve already recorded some of the songs. We’re not recording the full album until January and it won’t come out until next summer so we have a while to work on it still.

I know you worked with Jason Mraz on his most recent album. Are you hoping to collaborate with anyone on your next album?
I’m not sure. We haven’t talked about it for my album. I’ve done a song on Taylor Swift’s new album and Jason’s album and then a couple artists from different countries. I’m not sure about doing any on mine yet, but I would like to for sure.

Your fans have been included a lot on your MySpace, often picking the next single you release. Are you planning on continuing this for the new album?
That’s what I’m trying to figure out how to happen. I definitely want that, but I’m not allowed to put the songs up on MySpace. So now I’m trying to see, maybe having my band learn all the songs first and then we’ll start playing them randomly at shows, but that’s still not the best way to do it so I’m trying to figure out a way to do that.

Your songs were taken off of MySpace for a while.
There was some disagreement with MySpace and Universal. So everyone from Universal had to take either their songs off or put shorter clips. I was trying to fight that because as much as I want to respect my label, MySpace was what got me started and my fans, I felt like that was being disrespectful to them. There was a lot of negotiation, so I was able to put my original demos up for the meantime until the lawsuit passed.

What is your advice to aspiring musicians and singer-songwriters?
I would defin

itely recommend learning your c
raft, whatever it is. Take vocal lessons if you sing or piano lessons or guitar lessons, whatever instrument you want to play. Practice all the time because I didn’t and I wish I would have more now. I can play guitar and I can play up onstage, but I’m not a great guitar player so it kind of makes me nervous. So if you just practice your craft well so that you just have it in the bag. Write your own songs that mean something to you and just be in control of your career. As far as MySpace, make your page look all cute and post bulletins, keeping people involved in what you’re doing. That’s mainly the best thing, to keep them involved.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?
My favorite is “One Fine Wire.” Every time I hear that one come on I just like the melody and the music behind it, it’s just very uplifting. I wrote that song about my stage fright and how to overcome it, so that song just means a lot to me.

With MySpace, do you feel it’s more important to get fans that way rather than TV show appearances?
Well, it’s just different. My MySpace fans are the original ones that know everything about me. They know when I had all my original pictures up of me playing guitar in the bathroom, they were the ones from the beginning that heard all the demos. They’re different kind of fans than the ones that see me on TV. They [TV fans] become more of, I guess the screaming fans and the MySpace fans are the ones that are like, “I want to say that I’ve been listening to you forever.” They’re both different, but they’re both appreciated.

Why do you feel “Bubbly” has had so much success?
I think it’s because the song is about love. Well, it’s about having a crush on someone and all the things that I wrote about in that song, everyone has either experienced before, they’re feeling it right now or they’re dying to fall in love or have a relationship. I think by people being able to relate to a song, I think that’s what does it.

What would you be doing right now if it wasn’t for the music?
I was really into photography, so I would have tried something for that or I would have gone to school for interior design. I had fun with that, I was going to school for that a couple years ago. Otherwise, I’d still be singing and writing songs, maybe for other people.

If you haven’t yet, to listen my interviews with Colbie click here for part one and here for the second half of the interview. Check out Colbie’s MySpace for more info. on upcoming tour dates and music!

Benefit Interviews


Detroit-bred singer-songwriter MoZella has been making waves in the music scene over the past few years. Her tale is one of hard work and determination. Moving to the West Coast after graduating high school to pursue music, when things didn’t develop as quickly as she hoped, MoZella found herself decorating cakes by day and performing in coffee shops at night. All her hard work eventually paid off, as she was signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records in 2004.

Since then, MoZella toured with notable acts including Dave Matthews Band, Lifehouse, Michelle Branch and Colbie Caillat and has had songs featured in numerous television series and commercials. Her most recent release, Belle Isle has received much praise for it’s infectious vocals and catchy beats. Additionally, MoZella combines her love of older classics with a blend of pop, soul, and jazz for a truly unique sound.

To find out what inspires MoZella as well as her songwriting process, read below. Be sure to catch her June 10th at Santos Party House for Girls Who Rock, a benefit concert for She’s the First.

What first sparked your decision to pursue a career in music?
I think my love of music is hereditary. My mom loved music. My grandfather (her father) was a great singer and would play me Stevie Wonder, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Roberta Flack records when I was little. I was obsessed with music at a really young age. I had a pretty mature CD collection by the 5th grade filled with Nirvana, Snoop & Dr. Dre, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Metallica, and Sheryl Crow.

By the time I was 13 I was going to shows regularly. I breathed music. Then I started playing the guitar in high school and playing at local coffeehouses once a week. After writing a few songs and playing them for an audience, I knew that is what I was meant to do. So, I guess it was a series of tiny sparks that created this burning desire to make music the rest of my life.

What inspires you?
In life, my mom inspires me. She just got her masters online while working a full time job in traveling medical sales. What woman in her 50’s has the courage or the desire to even do something like that? (She put herself through nursing school then anesthesia school as a single mom when I was a kid as well)! She’s always looking for ways to better herself. I really admire her. If she can do all that, then I can also ride the waves of my career with courage and optimism.

Creatively, I’m inspired by everything I come into contact with on a daily basis. Movies, books, children who make me laugh, photographs, art in a gallery, sunshine, good food, my friends funny stories, etc. They all fuel my songwriting process in different ways.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced? How did you overcome them?
I’ve faced quite a few obstacles (being dropped from my first label was one of the hardest) but I try to be thankful for those lessons every day. They’ve made me a more compassionate person and a more heartfelt songwriter. After moving to LA at age 18, I was alone and scared. I prayed for courage and kept moving forward. This is what I do every day. At times when things don’t go my way, I tell myself to never quit and stay determined to have a victory. I turn the poison of mean people, harsh critics, and self doubt into medicine that helps me grow.

What’s your songwriting process?
Every song is different. Sometimes I hum a melody and then grab the guitar. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes a title comes to me and I have to save it in my notebook. Sometimes I get with a fellow songwriter and we just start playing the piano and singing and 30 minutes later a song is born.

What was your favorite class, besides music?
I loved physics. I had a great teacher my senior year who let me teach the class an entire lesson on how objects fall at the same rate. I’ll never forget that. He really believed in my knowledge and ability to explain things. It gave me a big boost of confidence.

I also loved Spanish class. I’m bilingual now thanks to taking four years of Spanish in high school! I feel bad that I gave my teacher such a hard time. Sorry Mrs. Powlakowski!!!

What were you the first to do or what will you be the first to do?
I think I might be one of the first Buddhist female pop singers.

What’s the next big thing happening in your career?
I’m writing for a new record, writing for other artists, and playing lots of shows including my first show in Paris in June.

What’s your favorite ‘girl power’ song?
“Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett.

Why did you decide to get involved with She’s The First?
It’s the right thing to do. I’m the woman I am because people believed in me, gave me a chance, and encouraged me to follow my dreams. It’s only right to pass that on to other girls.

Related Links:
Save the Date: June 10 Benefit Concert for She’s the First
Meet the Artist Who Inspired Girls Who Rock
Girls Who Rock: Meet Shontelle
Girls Who Rock: Meet Cara Salimando