Category: Medium

Saxophonist Boney James Discusses His ‘Solid’ New Album

Solid is the title of four-time Grammy nominated saxophonist Boney James’ seventeenth album. It’s the follow-up to his hugely successful 2017 release, Honestly, which became his eleventh #1 album on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart.

The inspiration for the eleven-track compilation flowed at an unusually quick pace for James and is chock full of the signature sound and movement. Most notably, on the infectiously smooth opening track, “Full Effect,” and “Luna,” which features an ethereal, almost Latin-fused groove.

Other highlights from Solid include the album’s title-track and “Tonic,” both of which inspired and built from licks performed by guitarist Kendall Gilder during sound checks on James’ Honestly tour. “Be Here,” an Adult-Urban single initiated by James’ longtime collaborator, Jairus ‘J-Mo’ Mozee, is another transportive track that features an inspired serenade from special guest, Kenny Lattimore.

With Solid, James delivers an album worthy of his depth, creativity and maturity. Moreover, its a welcome respite from the stress of today’s chaotic world.

Solid will be released on Friday, June 12.

I recently spoke with James about the new album and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did Solid come about?

Boney James: It’s been over two years since my Honestly CD and I started getting the urge to make new music. Whenever that feeling hits I’ll start collecting ideas. I discovered that as soon as I started writing, the songs just sort of popped out. Sometimes a song might have taken a little bit longer to develop but, for the most part, once I put my thinking cap on there they were.

How does the new album relate to some of your previous work?

BJ: That’s a tough thing to say. I just make the music and let other people decide what to think. Every record has its own character but I was feeling a strong sense of positive energy from this music. Some of these songs put a big smile on my face. I remember as I was making the record it was very transporting and took me out of the day to day worries of stress of life. That’s always what I try to do but I really felt it this time, particularly on a few of these songs. With everything going on in the world right now it’s even more appropriate to have something that might put a smile on your face when you listen to it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Boney James by Clicking Here.

Interview: Emma Taylor Defines Herself With Evocative New Single, ‘Made Your Bed’

Emma Taylor has never been one to follow formulaic trends when it comes to her craft. Although the L.A.-based songwriter’s haunting and ethereal music is drawn from personal inpsiration, it’s the conversational passion in her lyrics that truly defines her as an artist.

There’s a timeless curiosity about Taylor’s sound that not only resonates with the listener but also hearkens to the mid-70s singer-songwriter world of artists like Joni Mitchell, Carole King and James Taylor.

In her new single, “Made Your Bed,” Taylor showcases a new perspective in poetic subject matter. Where previous songs had discussed such topics as being stuck in pongnant, unhappy relationships, we now find the songstress learning to stand up for herself and not settling for anything less. Taylor’s infectious, evocative vocal and uniquely powerful production is a gentle reminder that true artistry still exists in a pablum-fueled world of status quo.

I recently spoke with Emma Taylor about “Made Your Bed” and more in this exclusive new interview.

The first thing I have to ask is how have you been dealing with the quarantine we all find ourselves in?

Emma Taylor: It’s definitely affected me. It’s crazy to not have the inspiration from social interaction but, right now, it’s a lifestyle change we all have to make. I do miss regular day to day things and conversations we all take for granted. As far as performing goes I’m not sure when that will happen again but when it does, it will most likely be different.

Can you give me a little backstory on your new track, “Made Your Bed?”

ET: Some of my previous songs have had an underlying theme of being stuck in a relationship. For this one I really wanted to flip the table and say, “Hey. You’re screwing up and I’m not going to allow it anymore.” It’s a song about taking responsibility for your actions and not letting someone you love get away with it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Emma Taylor by Clicking Here.

‘World Goes Round’: Frank Musker and Jeff Hull Discuss Rediscovered 80’s Musical Time Capsule

Back in 1989 a behind the scenes group of renowned songwriters and studio musicians, Frank Musker (Queen, The Babys, Air Supply), Elizabeth Lamers (John Denver, Linda Ronstadt, Christopher Cross), Jeff Hull (Brenda Russell, Heart, Chaka Kahn) and Marty Walsh (Donna Summer, Eddie Money, Sheena Easton), decided to get together to record an album. The result was World Goes Round, a powerful collection of pop, inspiration and creativity.

As artists who, at the time, were also heavily involved on other projects, the album was eventually shelved and would reamin unheard for more than thirty years. It wasn’t until guitarist, Marty Walsh, found a cassette tape of the tracks in his basement that the music of World Goes Round is finally seeing the light of day.

The ten-track album, produced by Tommy Vicari (Prince, Billy Idol) and fueled by the infectious lead single, “Big House,” was digitally transferred using 21st century technology. A product of its era conceived in a pressure free setting, World Goes Round sounds as fresh and relevant now as it did more than three decades ago.

I recently spoke with Frank Musker and Jeff Hull about uncovering the World Goes Round time capsule and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did the music of World Goes Round finally see the light of day after all this time?

Jeff Hull: It was when our guitar player, Marty, found the cassette in his basement, listened to some of the tracks and then sent them to everyone. It’d been thirty years since any of us has heard it. What’s interesting is that we weren’t able to find the original multi-track of the recordings. So, we went in and remastered from cassette. We were amazed at how good it sounded.

How did World Goes Round originally come together?

Frank Rusker: I had a house and studio in Laurel Canyon where we would have sessions and worked with A-list players. I was in a relationship with Elizabeth at the time and we were always making music. Elizabeth had been working with Marty Walsh and we were always letting other people use the studio as well. One day, I heard Jeff playing and knew right away I wanted to put him in my orbit. We were all having a lot of success individually but not really making the records we wanted to make. We didn’t have an impetus of creating a working band. We just wanted to make an album that would satisfy our need of depth and personality. When I listen to these songs now, all these years later, they still sound amazing.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Frank Musker & Jeff Hull Here.

’26 East’: Dennis DeYoung Discusses Inspired New Solo Album and Why He Didn’t Try To Reinvent The Wheel

Dennis DeYoung – Photo: Rebecca Wolf Photography

The title of former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung’s new album, “26 East: Volume 1,” is an homage to the Chicago address where he, along with Panozzo twins, John and Chuck, formed the nucleus of what would become one of classic rock’s most revered and enduring bands back in 1962. The music contained on the compilation, much like the locomotive imagery blazed on the cover, takes the listener on a journey of self-reflection and timeless gratitude.

A project that began with the nudging and encouragement of fellow Chicagoan and neighbor, Jim Peterik, DeYoung gives fans what they yearn for in 26 East by delivering songs that hearken back to the mid-70s sound that made his former band staples of classic rock radio. Case in point is the infectious “East of Midnight,” a song which immediately conjures up imagery from Styx’s Grand Illusion period.

Although DeYoung successfully captures the essence of his early years with Styx there’s also more current messages contained on the new album. On “With All Due Respect,” DeYoung rails against the danger of sensationalism in our media-driven society. While “Run For The Roses,” offers a voice of hope in an uncertain world.

One of the special and personal moments on 26 East has got to be DeYoung’s tribute to his musical idols, The Beatles, with “To The Good Old Days,” a duet with John Lennon’s son, Julian. On it, DeYoung comes full circle; from his youthful days in his Rockland, Illinois basement to the biggest stages in the world.

In many ways, 26 East is DeYoung’s personal journal. A time capsule and tip of the hat to a career defined by his songwriting and keyboard prowess. More importantly, it shows that in these troubled times DeYoung is more relevant than ever.

26 East Volume 1 will be released on Friday, May 22. I recently spoke with Dennis DeYoung about the new album and more in this exclusive new interview.

What was the inspiration behind the new album, 26 East?

Dennis DeYoung: The president of Frontiers Records had been emailing me every few months about a deal and, quite frankly, I really didn’t want to do it. The whole music business is upside down and I just felt like it was a needless exercise at this point in my life. It wasn’t about money or proving myself as a songwriter. I think I’ve already accomplished that. It was actually my buddy, Jim Peterik, who talked me into doing it. Jim sent me a demo of a song he was working on called “Run For the Roses.” I knew it was a terrific song so the two of us got together to finish it and to see where it would take us. I discovered that we were both on the same page and the creative process couldn’t have been better. When we finally came up for air we had eight songs. Then I wrote a bunch of other songs by myself to get to the end zone.

What’s your songwriting process like?

DDY: The obvious answer would be to say that it starts with a phrase, or maybe just sitting at the piano banging out chords. But here’s the process I’ve done my whole life: I come up with some notes that fit on two chords. Then I take words and stick them on the notes. I try to give the audience a perspective of what I see in the world around me, hoping that they”ll find themselves in my story. I can always write a song that’s true about myself. The trick is that you, the listener, will think that it’s about you. You find yourself in my story thinking that it’s yours.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Dennis DeYoung by Clicking Here.

Interview: Singer-Songwriter Drea Jeann Discusses Her Latest Singles and The Power of Music

Vulnerable, honest and transparent are three of the adjectives that best describe newcomer artist, Drea Jeann. The beautiful songstress, who writes through the lens of personal experience, has an emotionally deep level of maturity and etherealness in her sound that’s well beyond her years. It’s a sound defined from her years of musical theater as well as a hybrid cross between the styles of jazz, pop and r&b.

Whether it’s the haunting groove in the track, “Come Back To Me,” or the somberness of long-dinstance relationships in the song, “Faithfully,” Jeann not only gives listeners a glimpse into her life but empahtically shares her passion the best way that she can — through her music.

I recently spoke with Jeann about her music and more in this exclusive new interview.

To someone who might not be familiar, how would you describe your sound?

Drea Jeann: It’s a little hard to define. I started seriously writing last year with a producer and am still exploring the avenues that define my sound. I only like to write about things that I’ve experienced, so my songs are very authentic and personal. Vocally, I’ve had a lot of jazz training as well as r&b and pop.

What inspires you when you write and create?

DJ: The way that it usually works is that my producer will send me instrumental tracks. After I listen to them, I’ll figure out what I’m feeling and thinking about and willl come up with a melody or hook. Then I’ll start building lyrics around it and how it relates to my feelings or the experiences I’ve gone through. Other times I’ll already know what I want to write about. The it’s just a matter finding the right instrumental to portray it.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Drea Jeann by Clicking Here.

Interview: Katrina Stone Discusses Overcoming Intellectual Property Theft, New Music

During her more than ten year tenure as a professional independent music artist, Katrina Stone’s tireless work ethic and inspirationally-driven songs have earned her legions of loyal fans and international acclaim. Her performances on stages like The Warped Tour and CityWalk Hollywood have wowed audiences and her songs have recieved placement and endorsements in both television and film. But it wasn’t until one of those loyal fans tipped her off about her music being illegally posted online that the beautiful songstress took matters into her own hands.

Stone quickly discovered that twenty-six of her early tracks were actively being promoted on streaming services by fraudulent accounts using slight name changes and different covers to fool audiences. After the streaming companies offered no help, Stone learned the tracks were being offered through DistroKid and, upon inquiry, the company did the right thing by quickly shutting down the fraudulent accounts.

Now, Stone is using the experience to warn other indie artists about the importance of keeping tabs on their music. She’s also hard at work on a brand-new album that’s scheduled for release in May.

I recently spoke with Katrina Stone about the incident, her music and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this whole situation come about?

Katrina Stone: I was aware that there had been some fake accounts on Spotify where people would upload tracks but didn’t think much of it beyond that. Then one day, a fan reached out to me on Instagram to let me know that she found some of my earlier tracks in her Discover Weekly that were listed under a different name and with different covers. I started digging a little and realized that they not only compromised my material but there were more than thirty-six other indie artists who weren’t coming up as the artist that was listed. When you put your heart and soul into creating music it’s scary that people see it as a commodity and just steal it.

How does something like this happen?

KS: My music was pulled off Noise Trade, but it’s also possible to steal it by ripping mp3’s from YouTube or directly from CDs. These fake accounts then give the tracks a slightly different title and cover and upload it. The track’s usually live in about twenty-four hours.

How receptive were some of the streaming services when you told them about it?

KS: They weren’t very receptive at all. They wanted me to fill out a copyright complaint form for each purpose and song. That would have meant filing hundreds of copyright complaints. To make things worse, the person we believe was doing this lived out of the country. So there was really no way to track them down. As an indie artist, I’d prefer to create music than to be putting out so many fires. So, what I did was find the tracks on YouTube, where it listed the labels they were under. When I saw it was Distro Kit I reached out to them directly and they were so helpful. Within forty-eight hours they let me know that it was going to be pulled down.

Having gone through this experience, what advice would you give to other artists?

KS: Since the streaming companies really won’t help you, I encourage people to periodically go on sites and search for their songs. Listen to them and make sure they’re really yours. Another thing is to only share direct links to your Spotify and have them everywhere.

What can you tell me about your upcoming album?

KS: It’s inspirational pop and something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. It’ll be the first time I’ll be writing, producing, engineering and playing everything. It’s real, vulnerable and honest and a chance for me to show exactly what I’ve got. I’m very excited about it.

What’s your songwriting process like?

KS: If I’m writing by myself, it’s lyrics first. I love the marriage between lyric and melody but when I’m writing ideas down I like to have something to sing first and then work on finding the right hook. It’s all about great craftsmanship, a lack of clichés and creating something that’s new and fresh.

Who are some of your musical influences?

KS: I don’t sing country but I’m a huge Garth Brooks fan. I love him as a performer and how he isn’t afraid to take someone else’s song and put his own take on it. I also love how classic Adele’s music is. It’s something you can listen to years later and still hear different things.

Was a career in music something you always envisioned?

KS: Yes. From the time I was around twelve years old the idea started to form in my head. It’s a tough industry but I’ve been fortunate to have been able to make a living at it. At this point, it’s all I know.

What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?

KS: I’m excited about this new album and tour and to start homing in on what is that I want. Everything is coming full circle, and I’m in a really good place.

Interview: Author Amy Jo Giovannone Discusses Her New Book, ‘The World is Not Going to Stop for my Broken Heart’

Writing has always been a natural outlet for Amy Jo Giovannone. The inspiring author grew up in Ohio, where she played a lot of sports and acted in local theater.

She eventually wound up joining the military to help put her through college and hone her talent. But it was the untimely and tragic death of her daughter, Sierra, that became the basis for Giovannone’s powerful book,“The World is Not Going to Stop for my Broken Heart.

In a world where everything has such a high price, Giovannone’sbook will inspire, educate, and help others to heal. She reminds us that faith is free and is ours for the taking. Through heartbreaking recollection and page-turning revelation, Giovannonerecounts Sierra’s final days and in doing so, teaches us that the best way to honor your child, or any lost loved one, is to live this life with no regrets.

Readers who dive inside this powerful book will learn much about Sierra’s incredible life, the grieving process, and find their own sense of faith and healing. Perhaps more importantly, they’ll also draw the inspiration to change their own perspective on life.

As an added incentive to those purchasing the book, 30% of all proceeds from sales will go directly to Sierra’s Sanctuary, a non-profit who’s primary focus is to renew the mind, body and spirit to show that with God all things are possible.

I recently spoke with Amy Jo Giovannone about her book and more in this exclusive new interview.

What made you decide to write a book?

AJG: The honest answer is, I felt like I didn’t have a choice. There was a strong, spiritual energy pulling at me and I wanted to try to explain it the best way I could. You can call it consciousness, a gut instinct, or Holy Spirit. Whatever it was, all I knew was that I couldn’t fight it or be at peace until I’d written the book. Then once the book was finished, I couldn’t be at peace until it was published. A lot of what I talk about is something I think people need to hear.

What was the writing process like?

AJG: It was a 2 ½ year timeline and was grueling at times. I had to tell Sierra’s story by re-living the whole process and her life all over again. In doing so, I re-broke my heart. I wasn’t numb like someone who is freshly grieving. Everything so much harder. Completing the book was a huge relief. It’s a life story with real experience, and how faith can help get a person through.

What are some of your best memories of Sierra?

AJG: The best memories of Sierra are all of them. Even the not so good days, just because of the magnitude of love that we shared and the character built within us during those times. My worst day spent with Sierra is better than any minute without her.

What made you decide to start a non-profit?

AJG: We created a non-profit, Sierra’s Sanctuary, as a way to help people anyway that we can. I’m proud to say that no one makes any personal profit from it. Even though I may have been hurt by experiences in the past, I never want to stop helping others.

Is there a message you’d like people to take away from reading your book?

AJG: It’s really a conglomeration, but if I had to put it into one sentence the purpose of the book is to inspire, educate, and to reach people’s inner spirit. I want hurting people to see that you don’t have to be miserable. I have more than one sad moment each day because of my loss, but I have so many more moments of fun and enjoying my life. My child wouldn’t want me to miserable. The best way we can honor our loved ones who’ve passed is to live our lives without regret and to believe in something higher. Faith is free and is right there waiting for us to lean on. It’s just up to us to take it.