Inspired by an eclectic array of bands and artists including The Kills and Michael Jackson, Astra The 22s, led by Kerija Kaleja and Eric Jayk, have, in particular since the release of their EP, Paris Love, been impressing both fans and critics alike, on and off stage. Kerija and Eric spoke to ThisIsTheLatest and told us all about artistic influences, their dream show line up and what the future has in store.

TITL: How did the two of you first meet?

Eric: We met in 2011, when Kerija moved to Brooklyn and went on Craigslist to search for a guitar teacher nearby.

TITL: What would each of you say the other brings to the group?

Kerija: Eric brings his whole being into the writing and producing part – I think he is a genius

E: Kerija keeps me from overthinking, while inspiring me with her one of a kind perspective and lyrical/melodic sensibility; she encourages me to stretch beyond the obvious and conventional approach sonically and to use my imagination.

TITL: Can you recall exactly the moment you knew you wanted to make music your careers?

K: I have always wanted to do something that is connected with performing and I was always singing in front of people whether they wanted to hear me or not hah it is just that thing you have in you and it just makes you want to do this..

E: I remember I got MTV as a child and discovered Aerosmith and Guns ‘n’ Roses. I started playing professionally at age 11.

TITL: Which artists and bands most influenced you growing up and have those influences changed much over the years?

K: I grew up in 90’s Latvia and the country was just rehabilitating from the Soviet Union years, so there was not much to choose from or even know about in terms of what was current in the world at the time. I listened to Ace Of Base, Michael Jackson, Louis Armstrong and very eclectic music…

In recent, years I have really loved The White Stripes, Jack White, The Kills, Prince, David Bowie, Blondie, Aerosmith , Guns n Roses , Def Leppard and many more

E: The first four albums I owned were Michael Jackson ‘Thriller,’ Prince ‘Purple Rain,’ GNR ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ and Motley Crue ‘Dr, Feelgood.’ My mom introduced me to The Rolling Stones, and was a big fan of Rod Stewart and Tina Turner. Later, I went to music school where I studied jazz and classical music and discovered The Cure; punk rock. I then rediscovered my love of rock ‘n roll. It’s always been a love/hate relationship with me and rock music.

TITL: Which band or artist would you say you sound the most similar to?

K: Oh it is so hard to say! Actually I am not sure at all; I feel like currently there are not enough female fronted bands to compare us to so I will say Blondie.

TITL: Kerija, how, if at all, have your Latvian background impacted/influenced the music you create now?

K: Music is universal, so if it is good it is good everywhere, I feel like maybe the song messages have something to do with the Latvian background more because sometimes it can get too serious or sad..hah maybe the minor keys hah

TITL: You’ve won a lot of new fans thanks to your single “Stranger”. Is there a story behind it?

E: Stranger is a powerful, empowering and anthemic call to freedom and individuality. If you find the strength and confidence to be yourself, you will overcome the demands of school, society, pressure from your family or lovers. We are all beautiful, remarkable and brilliant, love yourself and don’t let anyone persuade you into thinking that you are not good enough.

TITL: The track is taken from your EP Paris Love. For those who haven’t heard it, how would you sum it up?

E: Eccentric, beautiful, dark.

TITL: Could you each pick your favourite track from the collection and if so, which is it and why?

K: Oh that’s hard but I would say “Stranger” and or the title track, “Paris Love.”

E: “What U Do 2 Me” because it’s autobiographical.

TITL: Who or what most influences your song-writing and how easy or hard do you find the process of putting a song together?

E: Everything is an inspiration, ones’ mood and state of mind, music, art, friends, people’s lives, and one’s own life as well. Each song is different: some come fast and easy some need a lot of love. In reality, melody and lyrics can come in five minutes, but to make the song real and great can sometimes take months.

TITL: In your opinion, what makes a song truly great?

K: A truly great song is not complicated and has a great hook and a great melody.

E: I only like songs I write – just kidding!

TITL: Which venue would you most like to play and which four bands or artists, who can be living or dead, would you most like to share that stage with?

E: Jack White, David Bowie, Def Leppard, AC/DC -with Brian Johnson – at Castle Donington.

TITL: How has/does social media impact your career and do you think you’d have the support you do without it?

E: Social media is a wonderful tool to reach out to people and fans all around the world and to have one’s message out there in matter of seconds, however; sometimes it can get in the way; all we really want to do is make music or perform.

TITL: Finally then, are there any other plans in the pipeline you can tell me about? What does the coming year have in store for you?

E: We’re going to continue writing new music, play more shows and take over the world.

For more information on Astra The 22s, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Their EP Paris Love is available now.

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Thursday 8th March marks a very special day – International Women’s Day. Though gender equality should be celebrated every day, it’s a chance for us to really shine a light on the female figures in our lives and those in our wider society that dedicate their lives to the cause. What better way to celebrate the event than by belting out a ton of songs by our favourite female artists? This will give you a level up in sassiness and add an extra ‘oomph’ to your moves! Whether you’re celebrating the event at one of our venues or from home – take this playlist with you!


















As an independent record label that champions itself on “investing in the music and the talented artists that create it”, Royalti Virtue can be considered a label with a difference. Determined to work as one collective unit, while all the while producing music of several different genres, RV allow and encourage their acts to collaborate, innovate and be ambitious in their musical goals. Here, TITL meets some of the labels’ hottest artists and grills them on their artistic inspirations, plans for the future and how social media is helping boost their audience.

TITL: How would you each describe yourselves in three words?

Da’Rell Miller: Humble, creative and caring.

Darnell Overstreet: Intuitive, passionate, unstoppable.

Dre. D: Entrepreneur, teacher, role model.

Rob Peaples: Incredible, creative, motivated.

Jay Rock: Talent, leader, writer.

TITL: What would each of you say is your unique selling point in terms of the music you make and how you’re making your mark on the industry?

Da’Rell: We are not just a label but a real family that push each other to live our purpose in life. We come together to make not only creative music from our own perspective but to also create other lanes for artists or people like us who needs a team by their side.

Darnell: I haven’t made or sold anything yet. I’m plotting but a move won’t be made for me till January.

WalkerDown: What makes us unique is that even though it’s young artists making the music, we stand out by sounding like us.

Dre: I give the people something to remember and think about by being passionate and creative.

TITL: Which band or artist would you each say you sound most similar to and is such sound intentional or just part of the creative process?

Da’Rell: I don’t know about artists I sound like but heard from my dad that I sound like Eazy – E or Too Short when I rap; I don’t hear it but I respect both artists. I really don’t try to sound like any artist at all but I do get inspired to be inspirational like those artists or like 2pac, Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Bone Thus N Harmony, Hopsin, Eminem, Lupe Fiasco and Andre 3000.

Darnell: I don’t think I sound like anyone. I try to shy away from that and try to be original.

Rob: Part of the creative process.

Jay Rock & Dre: Part of the process.

TITL: You’ve all worked together on the track “Billboard.” How did the collaboration come about?

Da’Rell: Well me, Dre D and my cousin Telly Boi Hogg was in the studio working on music and I always wanted to put Dre D on a song since we’ve never had before in two or three years of knowing each other. Plus I wanted to put his group WalkerDown on a song but the first pitch Dre D didn’t like so Dre D and my cousin Telly Boi Hogg worked on a beat Billboard beat together. I took it home and sent the chorus idea to him. He liked it, so I asked Darnell who I met from one of my business partners Ja`ni Griot to be on the song. We just put our verses on it and Dre D had an Idea to have all of us say the chorus which was perfect.

Darnell: I was asked for the feature. He played the song, so I gave him a verse.

WalkerDown: Well Da’Rell heard our first single “Wat It Is” and he said we would be a perfect fit for the song since we are an upcoming young group.

Dre. D: At first, I was like “I can help produce the track…” Then when I heard everyone snapping on it I was like ‘aw yeah put me in the game coach!’

TITL: What, in your minds, makes a great song and, which song would you say is the greatest ever written and why?

Da’Rell: I love content and what the artist is saying in each verse or the theme of the song. I can’t honestly say there is a greatest song ever written because there are so many artists creating amazing songs that touch me at different times. My favorite artist that I personally can’t listening to non-stop is Michael Jackson. There is also a new artist I like too, a Christian rapper artist named Seckond Chaynce. I would love to collaborate with him one day. He speaks about his faith and how we should stop doing wrong in the world. He can sing, R ‘n’ B, rap, gospel, rock and country. I’ve never heard an African American do all of them before.

Darnell: “Real” by Kendrick Lamar.

WalkerDown: I would say once we know the concept of the song we’re gonna kill it. The best song to us is “WalkerDown” and that is because we are holding the name Walker Down for our family.

Dre: I like to tell stories to my audience because everyone I can say loves a great story with a dope instrumental behind it. The best song I’ve ever written was and is “Reachin” because I am dedicating the song to my city and my family.

TITL: In this technological day and age where everyone seems to know everybody else’s business, how do you feel about social media and how big of a part has it played in so far getting your name and music out there to an audience? Do you think it’s a necessary tool for artists today or is it still possible for you and them to achieve success without it?

Da’Rell: I love and hate social media. What I mean is I love the fact that we can see or read about other people’s success stories or know about their journey to success or what amazing things are going on in their lives but the bad side is that people can talk about so much negative stuff on social media which can suck because people a lot of times are more negative than positive or want to just pick on somebody else for no reason. Social media plays a big part in getting an audience now since pretty much everybody is on some type of social media site.

If it wasn’t for social media we wouldn’t have met our manager Mike Lemaic who lives in the UK and who is teaching us about the business in the industry and developing the label. Social media has perks and weakness which we have to deal with. Fans love to know about our personal lives but we shouldn’t spill every emotion to the public because sometimes people can and will use certain things against us for their own enjoyment. People need to and should watch what they put online.

Darnell: It’s a faster way of getting out there fast. It’s a better way to me that is.

WalkerDown: It’s very helpful because, with us being young, we don’t have to go to the streets; the streets comes to us. It’s also a necessary tool because it’s an easy way for artists to collaborate.

Dre: It’s helped me spread my message to the world. I think it’s necessary to have social media because the fans can hear new music every-day from a variety of artists.

TITL: What are your upcoming performance plans?

Da’Rell: We haven’t decided yet but once we gain the right fan base we can decide with our manager which places might work best. We really want to perform at Comic Con, Wizard Con and nerdy like places since all of us at and on the label watch anime and superhero shows.

Darnell: I can’t give that out right now.

WalkerDown: Right now we are in the process of getting a booking manager, so no we don’t have any at the moment.

Dre: Once I get enough music to keep the crowds moving, that’s when I will be setting up some dates.

TITL: There’s also an EP, due for release this month. Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about it?

Da’Rell: All I can say without giving spoilers is that the artists on the label did their things on this label project. We all have our own sound and unique creative musical art but the fact we can work together on a project like this tells we can do more in the future. We have five songs for the world to listen to as an introductory project for the label as each artist on the label is also working on separate music.

We’re giving the world that Royalti Virtue good vibe feel music with some young unique talents in different genres. We have special guests like Kim Cameron, Dre D, WalkerDown, Darnel Overstreet and Elevated Music who have helped put our project together with special features.

WalkerDown: First of all, it’s dope! It’s giving you an inside on what WalkerDown came from and what we stand for.

Dre: It’s crazy that you mention that because my latest EP “Nuthin Else Matters” was released in March too, but with this EP I’m touching the people inner self-consciously.

TITL: Finally then, individually, both personally and professionally, what are your ambitions for 2018? What goals do you hope to achieve and where do you see the music industry going in the coming year?

Da’Rell: My personal and professional ambitions for 2018 is to spark the world and young or older artists to create a team and make their dreams come true. The label wants to tour and collaborate with other artists making unique music. My goal is for the label to be heard internationally and to hopefully start touring by the summer time or at least do some shows with the whole roster. Another goal is to hopefully be on radio stations and gain a lot of fans from around the world with and for each of the Royalti Virtue artists.

I see the music industry in 2018 growing in independent artists rather than mainstream record label artists. I feel since streaming sites are changing for artists in the future that artists will start having less music on streaming sites and more physical copies like back in the day. Since streaming isn’t paying artists much, I feel artists will start having more of their songs or projects in several other places; in stores or at their tours, in order for fans to purchase them, especially if streaming sites don’t up their royalty rates.

Darnell: By the end of this year, I plan to move from my home state. I will also be putting the time into my music with proper marketing and promos. I can be in a great place by the end of next year. The bars are there and I finally found my voice. Maybe a name as well. But as a collective – my team and I will strive to reach the top.

Rob: My ambition is to strive for greatness in 2018. I hope to make a name for WalkerDown in the industry.

Jay Rock: My ambition is to have the name WalkerDown in everyone conversation. I hope that you’ll see us LIVE and I can see the industry welcoming new young artists like us WalkerDown!

Dre: To give the fans more visual and positive music. I hope that someone will understand my drive for the music industry; and the industry will open up for Indiana artists!

Check out “Billboard” below and to find out more about Royalti Virtue, visit the website or like the page on Facebook.