music

“A Better Part of Me” and More From Connie Lim

A page from a singer-songwriter’s story on her album

When I was in elementary school my dad, who is an OBGYN, told me that I had perfect surgeon hands. I remember telling him that he was the one who had the perfect surgeon hands and that my hands were better suited for the piano. Yes, I was also the kid who pretended to sing country songs on my tennis-racquet-turned-banjo when my dad had me play on the middle school tennis team. Needless to say, Papa Lim had to adjust his expectations because I became a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter.

I started writing songs at the age of seven and started classical vocal and piano training early too. I started to publicly perform my originals with a band during sophomore year of college and sang as an award-winning soloist for UC Berkeley’s a capella singing group, Golden Overtones.  I just released my debut full-length album, thanks to the help of my fans and supporters from Singapore to Germany to the good ol’ United States.

Some people may know the backstory to my album, but I wanted to re-tell the story to some of the new friends of FAME’US magazine. I was so enraptured by the process of making my album that I unknowingly kept a bit secluded during the process of creating it. So, allow me to share a bit of how I was able to accomplish a life-long dream of mine: release an honest and meticulously crafted album.

In November 2012, I successfully got my first full-length album funded via Kickstarter. Many readers may be wondering why I would put myself through the trouble of making a full length album during an era of singles and EPs. It’s true that on the digital platform the single and the EP is king. However, at a live show, the album is a perfect way to solidify the link between the audience member and me. In 2012, I went on a series of nationwide tours selling my The Hunted EP. I figured that it was time for me to also have a full length CD available at the merch tables while I perform live. Merch sales are everything for touring independent artists these days, and I wanted to pad my arsenal with more music to sell. More merch equals more metaphorical and literal fuel for my journey.

(Full article available in print.)

Ne-Yo

Non-Fiction: The true tales of love and heartbreak and everything that comes in between.

Ne-Yo

Q&A with an American R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actor and philanthropist with three Grammy Awards and three platinum albums.

Ne-Yo was born in Arkansas and was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. His first album, “In My Own Words,” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. Aside from working on his own album, he also has a collective catalog of chart-topping songs that he has written for other artists such as Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, Enrique Iglesias and Dima Bilan, including Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” which stayed at the top of the charts for 10 consecutive weeks.

Q: Most people do not know that Big Dee Evans renamed you Ne-Yo, based on the character Neo from the film The Matrix. He stated that you see music the way that Neo saw the Matrix during the film. What other similarities do you feel you share with Neo?

A: To be honest with you, when I first got the name, I didn’t really like it. Neo was the savior of the world. I just thought the name was a bit too much — a lot of responsibility. But one person starts calling you that, then the next person, and the next person, and then suddenly, you’re Ne-Yo.

Q: Do you carve out time to sit down and focus and write lyrics, or do you allow it to be a completely organic process?

A: It’s a little bit of both. All day long, anything and everything can be inspiration for a song. But when it comes to sitting down and actually creating a song, I’m kind of a caveman … I can’t jump into this century and write a song on an iPad or my phone. I need a pen and paper.

Q: How do you feel about performing for the president, Mr. Obama, one of the most influential people in the world? What was that like?

A: You have to take away the whole concept of, “Oh my God, the President is literally 30 feet away from me.” Because if you dwell on that, it’ll create nervous energy that will mess you up. You have to tell yourself it’s another performance, another person who respects and appreciates my music. Then, once it’s over, you can step back and say, “Oh my God, I just performed for the most powerful person in the world.” But in the moment, you can’t dwell on it.

(Full article available in print)

Trae The Truth Interview

Trae Tha Truth gained exposure on the Houston rap scene in 1998, when he made his rapping debut with a guest appearance on Z-Ro’s album Look What You Did to Me. In 2003, he began his solo career with the album Losing Composure. 2004’s Same Thing Different Day, 2006’s Restless, and 2007’s Life Goes On followed shortly after. Trae Tha Truth has also worked relentlessly with fellow Houston rapper Chamillionaire on his various Mixtape Messiah series.

He also collaborated with Z-Ro to form the duo ABN or Assholes by Nature. They have released two albums, Assholes by Nature (2003) and It Is What It Is (2008).

Trae Tha Truth was involved in a fight with Texas rapper Mike Jones at the 2008 Ozone Awards. Both later apologized for the incident. It was recently suspected that Trae Tha Truth’s music was banned from Houston’s local radio Station, 97.9 The Boxx.

After creating a buzz online and in the streets, on March 1, 2012, T.I. announced he signed Trae Tha Truth and Cindy to Grand Hustle Records. On October 9, 2012, Trae and Joshua the Stripper were featured on the annual BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, alongside his Grand Hustle label-mates Iggy Azalea, B.o.B, Chip and T.I. His first Grand Hustle album, Banned, was scheduled to be released in 2014. However, prior to that he will release the mixtape I Am King and has been involved in the recording process for the Grand Hustle Records compilation album.His Grand Hustle Records & Major Label debut is currently scheduled to release on June 22, 2015. It will be a double disc album of 24 tracks.

(Full article available in print)

“A Night at the Hotel Café, the Half-Hidden Musical Gem of the Cahuenga Strip”

Hotel Cafe

Just a few songs into her set, the formerly Oakland-based Anna Ash admitted that she hadn’t yet emerged from the standard Los Angeles adjustment period. She felt especially unused, she emphasized, to still sweating in the middle of January, but had made enough progress to accept the idea of Los Angeles as simply “a different beast” from other cities. Enjoying a metropolis like this one — not that many metropolises resemble this one — doesn’t come naturally; most have to learn how to live well in it for themselves, picking up the knowledge essential to doing so however and wherever they can.

For music lovers, one bit of knowledge proves particularly helpful for the enrichment of their cultural life in Los Angeles: the existence of the Hotel Cafe, on whose stage I first saw Ash and her three-man band play. You’ve got to do a little work just to find it, given its location down a black-painted alley off Hollywood’s Cahuenga strip. Still, only by the standards of 21st-century self-promotion (especially as practiced Hollywood) does the place count as hidden; the management have put up a logo on the wall outside, albeit a tasteful one (especially, again, given the usual definition of taste in Hollywood).

While not, of course, literally a secret, the Hotel Café tends to come up in conversation as the sort of place people call a city’s “best kept secret” – known, in other words, but not known to the point of ruination. Starting off as a coffee shop in 2000, it expanded its size over the following decade and refined its methods, establishing the systems and the reputation that makes it one of the most abundant live music rooms in greater Los Angeles, offering, for a single cover charge, three, four, five, six acts per night, nearly every single night.

Next on stage the night of my introduction, this conceptually simple but consistently intriguing cultural space, came the Oahu-born singer-songwriter Simone White who, after spending the 2000s winning acclaim in the United Kingdom, has more recently relocated to Los Angeles. After her appeared an act with deeper local roots, the five-piece rock/”dream pop”/”slowcore” band Spain, formed here in the city and fronted by Josh Haden, son of famed jazz bassist Charlie Haden, for more than twenty years. They’ve become Hotel Café mainstays; I’d caught the third gig of the four they would play there that month alone.

After Spain, the audience, who at that point had filled every available table and then some, would hear from Blind Date, the Late Great Fitzcarraldos, Satchmode, and Fire & the Romance. I’d seen — and more importantly, heard — a representative evening at a venue that, tucked away in the middle of one of Los Angeles’ several urban cores, has popularized a few names (especially those of young female solo artists like Rachel Yamagata, Sara Bareilles, and Adele), but continues to offer a reliably various stream of new sounds and voices — and of food and drink. Even if the performer they’ve put up on stage at any given moment hasn’t captivated you, I find it hard to imagine anyone displeased by their spinach empanadas.

 

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