Tag Archives: Singing

Artist Feature: Vernell Anthony Davis

Vernell Anthony Davis

Response is the feeling you get once your moment of reflection hits and many times you catch yourself jotting ideas for that next project or tweaks to make your craft better.

– Vernell Anthony Davis

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at? 

VAD: I was born at Oakland Kaiser and raised in between Berkeley and Oakland for the most part of my life. I have a gigantic family and a majority of them reside in Berkeley so most of my days were spent being exposed to all walks of life and being influenced by different cultures and ways of living. I grew up going to Church, Jewish Synogugoes, Toast Masters and doing various activities because my parents believed in exposing us to the world and letting us build our own story. We made our mark in Berkeley by owning one of the best Barbeque restaurants in the East Bay called KC’s Barbeque. I don’t come from your typical city boy background. We’ve really taken on this whole western style meets city life by having a southern style barbeque restaurant and owning an entire ranch with horses, pigs and chickens. Once I graduated from Berkeley High School I made my way down to Los Angeles where I lived for almost seven years while also traveling to various countries like Spain, Morocco, India & Sri Lanka. I recently found myself back to the familiar streets and neighborhoods that started it all for me. Berkeley will always be home for me but I’ve found myself longing to venture out into the unknown once again.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

VAD: My definition of reflection is everything that has influenced and gotten me to the position I’m in today. Reflection is my DNA, my purpose, meditation, my peace and joy. Reflection is the gathering of thoughts and mapping out a plan of pursuit.

After reflection naturally you respond and build on the inspiration. Response is everything thats impacted your life and caused things to transpire the way they do. Response is the feeling you get once your moment of reflection hits and many times you catch yourself jotting ideas for that next project or tweaks to make your craft better. Hearing certain instruments and notes in a song can really strike a chord in you. You can’t help but respond to good music.

How does your song Lavish fit in with that definition?

VAD: I recently wrote a song titled Lavish. I was sitting in my friend Sam’s room having never written in my life and he says, “hey start singing to these chords” and proceeds to pick at the guitar. The feeling was pretty weird. The song is just a reflection of my feelings on paper. I was so accustomed to singing songs by other artists and portraying how they felt but once you write your own it brings you that much closer to the music. I found that I enjoyed the writing process and I learned that so many things can come from it. I anticipate writing more.

Lavish is a song about your current or future love. I want my wife to know that she’s the one I was destined to be with and the one I vow to love forever. I don’t want her to feel as though she’s alone on the journey but to know that I’m going to lavish her with love every day of the rest of my life. I know many partners in relationships may carry doubts that their significant other really loves them or if they’re just going with the flow of things until a better opportunity springs forward. This is a song to reassure one’s love and to encourage that person to walk in confidence. You are loved.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Zoë Owen

Zoë Owen is a musician and singer-songwriter straight out of Canterbury, England and now resides in Madrid, Spain. While living in Madrid, Zoë has become involved in the city’s vibrant music scene recording solo work while also participating in the 7-piece band “Waiting For Eva,” that includes members from around the world, and a collaboration with a Belgian electronic producer. Our dialogue comments on the power of Reflection against a dangerous current of “distraction,” that can inhibit self-expression, and how Reflection and Response build on each other as symbiotic processes that are continuously happening. Zoë also brings us the interesting stories behind her original works Too Terrified and White Noise. We’re excited to watch as this artist looks to keep building while studying the craft of the ukulele and bringing her music and message to wider audiences.

Zoë Owen

If we do not reflect on our own behavior, and our own experiences or environment, then we are powerless to improve the quality of both our lives and the lives of those around us…If I am honest, I sometimes feel quite scared about how “Distraction” has usurped “Reflection” in modern society.

– Zoë Owen

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

ZO: Pleasure to meet you, I’m Zoë and at this present moment in time I am 28 years of age and residing in Madrid, the capital of Spain. I am a musician, singer and songwriter, living with my folding bicycle and ukulele in an unapologetically cute and colourful apartment in “barrio Malasaña”, the Hipster-heart of Madrid, a city which has been my adoptive home for about 6 years now. Why Madrid? I’m not really sure to be honest… it was a bit of a gamble to leave my somewhat institutionalized English life behind me, but as far as creativity is concerned, I feel like I really hit the jackpot! I came here with the sole intention of learning Spanish, and what I inadvertently found here was a key that unlocked a deeper chamber inside me, one where art and music had been cowering away. That key is the right mixture of people, places and circumstance.

Madrid is quite a far-cry from the places I grew up in. I hail from the leafy suburbs of Canterbury, a picturesque medieval city in England, home to Chaucer’s famous tales and, arguably, the world’s sexiest elf, Orlando Bloom. Aged 18, I swapped Canterbury for Cambridge, where I spent 3 incredibly enchanted years immersed in Latin & Greek literature, dining with Stephen Hawking and living in a spiral tower. Cambridge was the parent that taught me to work hard and aim high, because there is always something better that you can achieve. By contrast, Madrid has been the cheeky devil on my shoulder, testing me, and showing me that sometimes, it’s absolutely ok, if not essential to break the mould and to stop taking everything so damned seriously. And have a mojito. That part is non-negotiable.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

ZO: Nowadays, I would say reflection is the cornerstone of my life, and the principal agent of change. Without reflection we cannot achieve awareness of ourselves and the world around us. If we are not aware then we are not truly in control of our lives and we are resigned to being like the driftwood that Fran Healy sings about. “Floating underwater. Breaking into pieces. Hollow and of no use.” If we do not reflect on our own behavior, and our own experiences or environment, then we are powerless to improve the quality of both our lives and the lives of those around us. I don’t have bread in my house, or a television. I do have a quiet corner and a vase of flowers. If I am honest, I sometimes feel quite scared about how “Distraction” has usurped “Reflection” in modern society.

Response is a little harder for me to define. I think response can come about as a result of reflection or it can prompt reflection. Songwriting for me often begins with response, rather than reflection. I am often inspired to write music as a means of responding to a stimulus (something I have seen or heard). The idea is born in order to respond, but in order to decide what form my response takes, reflection is necessary. I would interpret response as a more subconscious process. We can respond to things quite thoughtlessly sometimes. So I suppose my conclusion is that Reflection & Response is akin to the “Chicken & The Egg” conundrum…

How does your work fit in with that definition?

ZO: I have written a couple of songs, which were essentially responses to feeling powerless. The first, “Too Terrified”, was conceived when I was standing on a balcony in Tuscany. I had just finished university and I honestly had no idea what to do next with my life. The feeling was suffocating and terrifying, and I remember making the connection between the vertigo that I felt being so high on that balcony, and the fact that, metaphorically I felt like I was teetering on the edge of a precipitous cliff and about to jump into the unknown. I used the balcony metaphor in the lyrics of Too Terrified” to reflect on my new situation and the lack of control I felt over where my future was going.

The same feelings are re-evoked in “White Noise”, although this song responds to the feeling of being on a path towards the wrong future, and knowing where the right path is, but ignoring this knowledge. I felt like there was a voice inside me telling me exactly what I really wanted in life, but that I had been ignoring it so strongly that the voice had become a drone, in essence, just white noise. My solo stuff is a lot more depressing than my collaborative work that’s actually more upbeat.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Kate Phillips

We met up with Kate Phillips through LIFESTYLE Collective member Steve Laciak. The two have been performing together for some time and it was dope to hear more about Kate’s creative story. Originally from upstate New York, Kate has lived all over the United States performing as a singer and dancer and in musical theater. Kate brings up various dope fresh ideas to the Collective touching on creative reflection and response and growth within artistic communities, the important role of the performer as a provider of solace for an audience, and other themes from the perspective of a creator that has always stayed true to the craft. Kate Phillips continues to forge a creative path filled with new and exciting projects  in her current home of Tennessee and we are lucky to feature encouraging words of wisdom from an experienced and invigorating creator.

Kate Phillips

 An entertainer provides a moving sound, a fresh look, and quite often a new perspective. That role is essential in our society, allowing imaginations & expressions to cultivate change and growth.

– Kate Phillips

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

KP: I lived in upstate New York as a child, riding my bike to the village library and along the Erie Canal, through a lovely town called Fairport. Growing up there was a wonderful experience, but since I couldn’t wait to live in a big city, I moved to Manhattan on my 18th birthday. After spending 6 years in “the big apple” because of a couple of dance scholarships, I was fortunate enough to begin a career that involved travel. For 2 years I sailed around North America, while performing on cruise ships as a singer and showgirl. I have lived in 8 different states and toured the country as a “triple threat” in musical theatre. The latest adventure I took a leap for has led me to a beautiful place, nestled in The Great Smoky Mountains, as I’m thrilled to now call Tennessee my new home.

Kate Phillips

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

KP: Recognizing that all of this is a true gift that I was meant to share and ultimately ‘giving back’ to people in my community. First, I give credit to the creative education I received; understanding how I have been influenced by such amazing teachers. Then, I recall moments of excellence I’ve witnessed, gathering inspiration from other talented artists and friends… always studying their methods. I was, and still am, surrounded by people who dedicate their life to their art, and I believe we are all reflections of each other. 

Listen to more of Kate’s music here: http://www.reverbnation.com/KatePhillips

How do your performances fit in with that definition?

KP: All of the extensive training and sacrificing a singer-dancer goes through can be difficult at times, but I have a personal theory about this. For the duration of the show, each member of the audience is given a chance to escape. They are encouraged to sit back and relax since someone else is “on” for the moment. Whatever may be causing them grief, sadness or pain, just disappears for that short amount of time.  An entertainer provides a moving sound, a fresh look, and quite often a new perspective. That role is essential in our society, allowing imaginations & expressions to cultivate change and growth. That person on stage is what I call “Brasilient” (brave and resilient). Considering numerous auditions, disappointing rejections, painful injuries, missed holidays with family, and ongoing challenges, we continue developing as a seasoned professional, because it is our purpose.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

KP: This has been a pretty exciting journey! Last year, I performed at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. A holiday song I recorded played on the radio for 2 years in a row. Recently I reunited with the love of my life after several years apart, and together we have fulfilled a life-long dream by combining our musical talents as a duo. This year I began volunteering again with at-risk children & teens in my community by teaching workshops in the evenings. Next, I look forward to announcing a few new projects that are still in the works, including a music video and more collaborations with local songwriters.

Kate Phillips

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Amber Stiles

Musician and songwriter Amber Stiles is at the center of a talented and inspiring group of artists centered in Madrid, Spain. I met Amber at the well-known Triskel Tavern where musicians from all over the world seemed to find a home on its stage during Thursday open mics. Since playing there, Amber has been performing all over Madrid focusing both on her own material and collaborating with others while beginning recording at Spaceland Records. Peep the dialogue below for Amber’s words on her folk/country music, her artistic growth in the city and other ideas from this expanding and creative artist.

Amber Stiles

One of the reasons I love folk music and country is that it’s generally very simple in form and it allows you to explore subtle variations with your voice, tempo, lyrics, etc. I enjoy singing a song the way that I’m feeling it at that particular moment.

– Amber Stiles

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at? 

AS: I’m from a small town in New York State, about half an hour from the Canadian border. It’s about 6 hours from the City and 4 hours from Buffalo. No one can really figure out where it is. We have a Dairy Princess Parade and obviously lots of cows. I’ve moved around quite a bit since I left home but I’ve spent the last 4 years in Madrid, Spain.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AS: I’ve never really thought about it before but I suppose the word reflection conjures up a few thoughts and images. I associate it with a mental process, a forming of thoughts and beliefs. On the one hand I think it’s important for us to process what we see and what we experience. I interpret and share my experiences to connect with other human beings. But at the same time I think too much introspection can make us overly cerebral and rigid. If we assign an idea a name and call it a belief we’re really limiting ourselves in a lot of ways.

I suppose I relate more to response. I approach music in that way, at least. I don’t try to overanalyze a song or break it down into a set formula. I prefer to intuitively explore things. If I think about what I’m doing too much I get overwhelmed and blocked. Yeah, Response is definitely more interesting for me. I figure my intuition is utilizing more resources within me than my conscious, rationalizing brain can muster.

How does folk music fit in with that definition?

AS: One of the reasons I love folk music and country is that it’s generally very simple in form and it allows you to explore subtle variations with your voice, tempo, lyrics, etc. I enjoy singing a song the way that I’m feeling it at that particular moment. One of my first idols was Billie Holiday and I always admired how much feeling she put into her vocals. Sometimes her songs were sad and slow, other times lively and upbeat. I always try to stay tuned into the meaning of a song and how I’m interpreting it in that moment.

Amber Stiles

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AS: Recently I’ve been collaborating mostly with Miguel Gonzalez who is a very talented vocalist and gifted songwriter out of Texas. We play acoustic sets at intimate cafés around Madrid which is the atmosphere I feel most comfortable in, really. I’ve also been providing vocals for Padraig O’Connor and Richard Harris, both musicians that I have deep respect for.

My next goals are to write some inspiring songs and get into the studio. Richard Harris is running Spaceland Studio at the moment and it’s a great opportunity to capture a moment in my life with the incredible musicians I’m surrounded by. I’m decidedly lo-fi so taking the plunge into the studio is big for me.

Who or what inspires you? Continue reading

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Artist Feature: Franz Rothe

We’ve been fortunate enough to have become close friends with Dresden-born musician, writer, and filmmaker Franz Rothe over the past year here in Brooklyn, and his versatility and creative output are huge inspirations for us. In an insightful interview, Franz guides us through his perspectives on Reflection and Response, explores how these concepts fit in with his musical process, reflects on a recent album called Away that he worked on as part of the band Franz & Frau Schneider und dieser Andere, and talks through various current projects. Let’s dig in:

Franz Rothe

I believe that the urge to write a song results from the need to capture and express a certain feeling…You chase this feeling, this impulse, because it is haunting, like something you have once known but forgotten. And you try to figure out what it is, what it wants to be, how it wants to sound.

– Franz Rothe

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

FR: I am from a beautiful city called Dresden in Germany. But I have been living here and there in the recent past. Right now I live in New York, which is wonderful but won’t last very long either.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

FR: I think that, in a way, Reflection and Response describes the very essence of music or really any kind of art. I believe that whatever we create can only be seen as a response to what we have seen, heard or experienced before. At least I would say about myself, that I’ve never come up with any kind of idea that was not a response to something somebody else did before me. We reflect upon our experiences, our impressions, and we respond to them – knowingly or not – and sculpt them into something new.

Pessimistically, that view could lead to questioning the mere idea of originality, as everything is just a combination of what was there before. But on the other hand, I enjoy the thought of being a part in an endless chain of Reflection and Response.

(For example, I am not ashamed to say that my biggest form of admiration for any kind of art is the thought ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ followed by the thought ‘How can I take that and turn it into something new?’…)

How does your album ‘Away’ fit in with that definition?

FR: I think the album ‘Away’ is on many levels the product of Reflection and Response – it is what we made of music we heard, songs we love, songs we hate, books that touched us, people that surrounded us and places we have been. But it is also what we made of each other and ourselves.

I believe that the urge to write a song results from the need to capture and express a certain feeling. It’s never about which chords might go well together and which words might rhyme. You chase this feeling, this impulse, because it is haunting, like something you have once known but forgotten. And you try to figure out what it is, what it wants to be, how it wants to sound.

I think, in the best case an artist should be like the needle of a record player, materializing an invisible something.

As we were three musicians working together on this album, the most important part was responding to our surroundings in a similar way. Sharing an understanding of the feelings that we wanted to transport in the music we made. And with every musician we brought into the studio, we hoped they would be telling a similar story as we did, adding to what the three of us shared.

Then again, that sounds way more complex than it actually was. In the end we just made music together, simply loving each other for that.

Franz Rothe & Vivi

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

FR: I’m trying my hand at a couple of different things right now. There are so many languages in which you can express yourself, so I tried to look for other languages like film or writing. Kind of to find an outlet for things that haunted me, but couldn’t find their way out of my head through chords and melodies.

I made a documentary about forced evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with my dear friend Michael last year. It’s called ‘The Final Days’ and I’m happy about anyone watching it on vimeo.

Right now I actually started writing a book, which has been on my mind for ages. But first novels usually suck, so there’s really not too much to expect there…

Who or what inspires you?

FR: Places. People. My friends. Vivi and Lukas, who are the other two-thirds of the band. Their talent and their ability to always just naturally come up with exactly the right thing – that never ceased to amaze and inspire me!

Generally speaking though, in the best case, absolutely anything could be inspiration. But unfortunately I often have a hard time keeping the open eyes it takes to be aware of what’s actually around me.

So what I do is I travel a lot and try to see and live in as many countries and cultures as possible, to absorb as much as I can.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
FR: Check out the photographer Ben Zank! I just had the pleasure of meeting him and he is as nice a guy as he is a brilliant artist.
Shout out to…?

FR: Huge shout out to Vivi and Lukas, with whom I made the album ‘Away’ and whom I miss terribly when we are too far away from each other to make music!

Franz, Vivi, Lukas

Reflection and Response.

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Artist Feature: Alejandro Aquino

Alejandro Aquino es un artista que ha vivido y aprendido de los varios contextos geográficos y temporales de su vida. Desde Guadalajara, México a Malasaña, Madrid, Aquino busca música sencilla que tiene poder en su propia melodía.  Desde lo análogo y lo digital, el músico contempla los efectos de la nueva rapidez tecnológica con que se comparte las cosas con un ritmo cada vez más rápido hoy en día. En el diálogo abajo, comparte su perspectiva ante esas cuestiones, muestra sus proyectos pasados y actuales, y habla de muchos temas más. Además urge que protejamos el costumbre de Reflexión y Respuesta en nuestro mundo actual que corre tan rápido que es posible perder el filtro de la honradez.

Alejandro Aquino is an artist who has lived and learned from the various geographic and temporal contexts of his life. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and moving to Malasaña, Madrid, Alejandro is in search of simple music that is powerful on its own. With experience from the analog world to the digital world, the musician contemplates the effects of new rapid technologies that are used to share ever faster. In the ensuing dialogue, Alejandro shares his perspective about these issues, speaks on his past and current projects, and much more. He also urges us to protect the custom of Reflection and Response in our world that moves so fast it is increasingly possible to lose the filter of honesty.

Alejandro Aquino

Yo he vivido la transición entre lo análogo y lo digital, y veo que ahora las generaciones actuales tienen mayor facilidad y velocidad para dirigir su arte a un colectivo mayor. Sólo recomendaría que la inmediatez, la prisa por dar a conocer el “arte” no nos ciegue, y no permita que lo que logremos crear pase por un filtro personal de Reflexión.

I’ve lived the transition from analog to digital, and I see that the current generation can spread their art to large audiences more easily than ever before. I would only advise that we not let this immediacy and overall hurry to spread our “art” blind us to the point that what we create doesn’t pass through our personal Reflection filters.

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AA: Vengo de la ciudad de Guadalajara, México. Una ciudad populosa que se debate entre tradicionalismo y modernidad. La segunda ciudad en importancia en el país es el estandarte del folclor conocido como representante del país en el mundo entero. Y ahora, radico en el madrileño barrio de Malasaña, un lugar multicultural, donde se mezcla la vida nocturna distendida de copas con la oferta cultural de pequeños lugares donde igual se escucha música o se compra un buen libro.

AA: I’m from Guadalajara, Mexico, a populous city stuck between traditionalism and modernism. It’s the second biggest city in the country, and representative of the folklore that’s commonly considered to be representative of Mexico. Right now, I live in a barrio in Madrid called Malasaña – it’s a multicultural place where nightlife and casual drinking blend with cultural offerings found in small places to go out, where you’re just as likely to listen to music as you are to buv a good book. 

Que quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AA: Reflexión es el resultado de la confrontación entre experiencia y momento. El espacio donde se interiorizan las consecuencias de nuestros actos pasados basándose en nuestras expectativas y las posibilidades de hacerlas realidad en un futuro.

La respuesta sería la acción, el resultado de la reflexión anterior. 

AA: Reflection is the result of the intersection of experience and reality. The space in which we internalize the consequences of our actions, grounded in our expectations and the possibilities of making them reality.

Response would be an action [that comes about] as a result of a prior reflection.

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AA: Mi arte, por así llamarlo, aunque para mí sería artesanía, es una especia de bitácora que refleja mis inquietudes o mis momentos en la vida. Es el resultado también de la música que escucho, la edad y la gente que me rodea.

AA: While I think of my art, if you will, as my craft, it serves as a daily log that reflects my anxieties or experiences in life. It’s also the result of the music I hear, the people around me, and the times we live in. 

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Rafael Alves

Rafael Alves is one soulful dude. Whether he’s showcasing his special touch on guitar, blowing some gritty blues on harmonica, blessing the crowd with his ill voice, or introducing us to “electronicbluesbossafunk,”  Rafa fills space with dope music. Coming at us from Madrid via Curitibia, Brazil by way of New Zealand, this Artist discusses the role of his craft, new projects, shares some truth about music in Madrid, and much more. Peep the dialogue below and vibe to tracks “Use Me,” “Will Be Mine,” and if you’re in Madrid catch Rafa at one of his many upcoming performances!

Rafael Assis

What I do is mostly based on the sound and the way I feel playing. I always try to enjoy myself, playing on my own or jamming with other people. It normally works and that’s how I communicate with other people.

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

RA: I’m from Curitiba, south Brazil. I live in Madrid, Spain.

 What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

RA: There isn’t much reflection in what I’m doing now; I don’t try to give people any good message, or advice through the songs I play.

What I do is mostly based on the sound and the way I feel playing. I always try to enjoy myself, playing on my own or jamming with other people. It normally works and that’s how I communicate with other people. 

How does your project Pure Acoustic Soul fit in with that definition?

RA: Everywhere I live I often jam with friends in my house, playing acoustic. So with Pure Acoustic Soul I try to bring this cozy atmosphere of acoustic music and friends to other people. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

RA: I’ve been working with some electronic Brazilian music, it’s difficult to label the style – it’s kind of a mix of “electronicbluesbossafunk” – it’s pretty fun making it. Trying to mix different sounds without knowing how it’s gonna end up. Traveling, I had the privilege of jamming with musicians from everywhere so what I do is send them the tracks and they record their part wherever they are (New Zealand, Brazil, Spain, …)

Who or what inspires you? 

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Events from the Collective

May 2013

  • Saturday, May 18th @ 9:30 pm: Mary-Elaine Live (Live Music, Singing)
    • FREE

Reflection and Response.

Events from the Collective is a calendar of upcoming events from the LIFESTYLE collective’s international community. Events can be submitted at anytime to the.lifestyle.rr@gmail.com or @LIFESTYLE_RR and will be added to the calendar as they roll in.

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Feature: Veronica Jones

Yo, here we go—here we go—here we go again. Hope everyone had a great week. We at the LIFESTYLE are hosting Veronica Jones today as she explores her identity within music as well as in her professional pursuits. Through a blend of soulful sounds, icons, and inspiration, Veronica shares her thoughts on and relationship to Reflection and Response through music. She also names a few great artists to look up and plug into if by any chance you haven’t already. We especially want to take the time to thank Veronica for making space for us in her schedule and wish her the absolute best in her pursuit of Law. That’s enough from us; lets dive in!!

Veronica Jones

Reflection & Response in a musical context means that you are taking a really personal, introspective look into your feelings, your life, your relationships, and also taking time to empathize with & understand the lives of others.

– Veronica Jones

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

VJ: Hey, I’m Veronica, I’m 25 y.o. and was born & raised in Houston, TX (like Beyoncé!!!!) but I am currently living in New Orleans attending law school at Loyola New Orleans College of Law. After law school I am not sure where I will end up or what type of law I want to practice, but considering practicing criminal law, business law, international law, or entertainment law.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

VJ: Reflection & Response in a musical context to me means that you are taking a really personal, introspective look into your feelings, your life, your relationships, and also taking time to empathize with & understand the lives of others. After taking time to really understand your emotions and also see all kinds of conflicts & joys that occur in life, you are able to meaningfully convey your experience, or the experiences of others through music.

How does your music fit in with that definition?

VJ: Although I have not recorded any of my original pieces, I am a fan of jazz and have recorded a few jazz standards (Mood Indigo, Lullaby of Birdland & Fever). Also, while living in Spain I recorded a song called “Let the Music Play.”

“Mood Indigo” is a very melancholy song. It is about a person whose lover left them and is now dealing with loneliness. This song fits perfectly within the theme of Reflection & Response because when it comes to someone you love you have to first recognize your feelings with the situation and understand them and only after that should you decide how to react to them.

“Fever” is pretty self-explanatory, but just focuses on how a guy is giving her that special feeling.

“Lullaby of Birdland” uses a metaphor about birds singing to describe how she feels about the one she loves. Sometimes being direct about a situation is not the best way to explain how you feel.

“Let the Music Play” is all about losing your inhibitions and just experiencing the music and having a good time.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

VJ: Sadly, recently, I have not been working on anything. Since I am in my first year of law school, I find myself too busy to be involved in recording/gigging. But I certainly do sing around my house in my spare time!! Looking forward; I plan on staying in New Orleans for the summer & hopefully finding opportunities to gig/record while here.

Who or what inspires you?

VJ: My family inspires me so much, in particular my mother. She is one of the most generous people I have ever met, and has been supportive of my musical talents since I was a child.

Also I feel that my life experiences and those of others inspire me to think about situations more in depth and convey them in a way that really expresses the true meaning of a song.

Musicians that influence and inspire me are Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill, Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, The Weeknd, Adele, Brandy, and Lianna La Havas.

In particular Beyoncé inspires me because she has some of the BEST vocals known to man. Every album she puts out shows her progression and she has not been afraid to venture outside of her comfort zone.

Amy Winehouse inspires me because of the pure emotion she can put in a song with her voice. Its gritty, rough, soulful, and at the same time relatable.

Lianna la Havas inspires me because she has a very pure tone and uses tons of acoustic guitar, which I love. Her voice conveys tons of emotion as well.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

VJ: Just want to say that I have grown so much from my experiences and have come to realize that music can be very personal. When I was younger, I never understood that, but now that I am older, and singing about topics and situations that have affected me or my loved ones, I know that it takes courage to be able to be so transparent and share your stories with so many people you don’t know.

Shout out to…

VJ: Just wanna give a quick shout out to Peter for asking me to do this. I appreciate the involvement! Also, to my supportive/loving family and friends. And a shout out to New Orleans, for being the city which is my first stepping stone to becoming the successful lawyer that I want to be!!

Reflection and Response.

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Solitude Live Looping Berkeley Video

Happy Monday! Today we take it back to Berkeley (Rose and California for those that know) and bring you a video of me doing the new version of “Solitude,” on the Novation Launchpad running through my old Fender guitar amp. Vicken set up the iPhone camera and we gave it one shot. Word to Claudia for the soulful vocals and lyrics recorded in Buenos Aires!  Those of you that made it out to the show at Wurlitzer were able to see this in action. I hope you feel it!

Reflection and Response

-P

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