PARKER MATTHEWS CHATS “HIT AND RUN” & HIS FAVOURITE ARTISTS 33

As an advocate of suicide prevention and anti-bullying campaigns, Parker Matthews is an artist determined to spread positivity to the masses via his music. His latest track “Hit and Run”, with its sleek production, a chorus that is hard to get out of your head and an impressive, smooth vocal is just one example of how he’s going about this, and with plans already in the pipeline regarding his next few singles, Parker spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about being influenced by Christina Aguilera, his thoughts on social media and the one stage he’d most like to perform on.

TITL: Please introduce yourself if you would.

Parker Matthews: What’s up everyone? I’m Parker Matthews and thank you for the interview!

TITL: What would you say is your unique selling point as an artist?

PM: I would say the tone of voice is a unique selling point for any artist. Sounding different, and being different, are two things that really make you stand out.

TITL: Has music always been your career plan and path or were their other avenues you looked into?

PM: Music has always been my dream, but it wasn’t always my career plan. I followed my parents’ wishes and earned a degree in business after high school, and began working in the corporate world, but was absolutely miserable. I really felt like I wasn’t doing what I was put on this earth to do, and one day, I up and quit my job, and packed my bags for LA. Since that point, I’ve never looked back because the only direction to go in is forward.

TITL: Which band or artist might you say you sound most similar to? Which acts have influenced and inspired the music you make?

PM: There are so many artists that I’m influenced by, but overall, I grew up listening to mostly female artists.  Christina Aguilera, who is from the same neighborhood as I am, was always an artist and a person I gravitated towards. I connect so much with her music, and love hitting those high notes, just as much as she does.

TITL: Tell me about your new single “Hit And Run.” What’s the story behind it?

PM: “Hit and Run” is about not being the person who only has one night stands. I, as a person, like to make connections on a deeper level, and want more than a ‘one-time thing’. So many of us are hurt from past relationships, or times we wore our heart on our sleeves and someone crushed it, but just because that has happened in the past, doesn’t mean it will happen again in the future. Every situation is different, and that’s the beauty of it.

TITL: You’ve also just released the video for the track. How did you come up with the concept?

PM: When I wrote “Hit and Run”, I always imagined being at a house party and rocking it out. When my team and I found the space, which was located in DTLA, I immediately fell in love and knew we had to shoot the video there.

TITL: How did you meet with the team, including director Nicholas Wendle, who helped you make the video?

PM: I’ve met and hand selected the team I work with through colleagues in the industry, and by pure fate.  Funny enough, I met my writing partner and producer, Darren, through a Tinder date. At the time, Darren was living with his best friend -who I was on a date with – and we ended up meeting up with Darren later that night, and the rest is history.

TITL: Are there any fun stories or moments from the shoot you can share with us?

PM: Haha, yes! When we were filming the pool table shots, I wasn’t paying attention how close I was to the edge during a take, and rolled off the pool table and hit the floor. It hurt, but was so funny.

TITL: Do you think you might move into directing music videos at some point in your career?

PM: Being a director for music videos isn’t my calling, but I do like to come up with my own video concepts.

TITL: Would you agree that some music videos can, and do, have a more powerful impact than a song itself, because of the visuals they display and the messages they get across?

PM: Oh absolutely. A video really brings a song to life in so many ways; through color, fashion, choreography, etc. a song can really shine for a music video.

TITL: As a victim of bullying, you’re now a proud supporter of anti-bullying campaigns and organisations and an advocate for suicide prevention via The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. How much of an impact are you finding putting your support behind such causes is having, and do you wish more individuals in the public eye would stand up and support great causes as you are doing?

PM: I find that if you can stand up and tell your story, it’s living proof that it does get better. My favorite memory of standing with these organizations was last year, when I was in Sydney for Mardi Gras. I met with a local non-profit the focused on LGBT youth and suicide prevention. I was able to talk to a group of kids, share some laughs, and hopefully brought some light into their lives. Giving back is so important. So many people in the entertainment industry have done a great job of making their voices heard, so I think people need to keep it up!

TITL: If you had to say one thing to those struggling with bullying and/or mental health issues, what would you say? 

PM: My favorite quote that is so important to remember is, ‘Why try to blend in, when you were born to stand out’. We are all unique people, with a different story to tell. In life, if you can always remember to dance like nobody’s watching, and have fun, then you can achieve it all. There will always be someone in the corner who might not like you, or better yet, put you down because they envy what you have, but you must remember to brush that negativity off and shine on.

TITL: Music wise, what’s next for you? Is there an EP or album in the works? Are there any performances in the pipeline?

PM: I have so much more material this year and I’ll be in the studio all summer. We have some great locations for some upcoming video shoots, and I am choosing to release the next several songs as singles. They are all so different from each other, and I truly want them to be stand-alone pieces of art.

TITL: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world with three other bands or artists who can be living or dead, who would they be and where would you perform?

PM: The Super Bowl, hands down. I’d gladly share that stage with Gaga, Christina, and Jessie J – all such amazing women with such talent.

TITL: How is and has social media impacting your career? Are you a frequent user of sites like Facebook and Twitter and do you think there are any downsides to the businesses’ apparent ‘reliance’ on it in terms of earning a band or artist more widespread attention?

PM: I am a frequent user of all mainstream social media. I think social media is great, because I’ve been able to connect with many fans around the world. Without social media, it would be a lot more difficult to do so and reach people around the globe.

TITL: Finally, then – music, unlike several other things and industries, has stood the test of time. Why do you think that is and personally, where do you see the industry going in future? What messages would you like to see the industry give out to the world, in terms of not just music, but more global inclusion and connectivity?

PM: Music, like all art, should be timeless. Sure, there are songs that follow trends, but then you have others that can truly stand the test of time. Music is all about emotion. We, as people, have different stories and pasts, but we all share the same feelings of emotion. That’s the beauty of music: reliability. Music can heal and inspire someone to change. It can and does instill confidence in a person, and bring out the passion they have stored within. I think in the future, music will continue to add sounds and ad libs that are borrowed from other cultures, and I think music will continue to be ‘real’ with the lyrics written and the delivery of the recordings. Thanks for the fun chat!

Check out the video for “Hit and Run” below and for more information on Parker Matthews, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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REVIEW: KID KAPICHI – ‘LUCOZADE DREAMS’ EP 27

Kid Kapichi are currently one of the most talked about up and coming bands in Britain, and, on the back of their previous EP, are so with good reason. However, some bands can and do often struggle when it comes to a second release. There’s more pressure and expectation, and sometimes it’s more than artists can handle well. So, how have KK fared with their sophomore EP, Lucozade Dreams?

The intro piece, at just over 46 seconds long could easily have been left off the EP, but given that it’s brashier and bolder than many opening instrumentals featured on albums and the like in recent months, it doesn’t fare too badly. It is however a good thing that “Cinderella” quickly follows on from it and ultimately sets the tone for the EP overall. With it’s big, catchy verses, and a chorus that’s even bigger, combined with a toe-tapping bass undertone, it’s an exciting little number, sure to impress and win over music fans who give it a listen.

The momentum and energy continues through “Puppet Strings” and although the instrumentation is good, ultimately it’s the impressive lyrics that make the track stand out. Meanwhile, anyone looking for a superb riff and a thumping, invigorating beat need look no further than “Jack Jones” and the slick production on “Machine Men” means the EP ends on a rewarding high for both band and listener.

While the group from Hastings might still be considerably unknown to some, they’ve been talked about for some time now, and the amount of said talk is only likely to grow on the back of Lucozade Dreams – a collection that’s fun, fizzing with energy and highlights just how much Kid Kapichi love what they do, and in time, more music fans might just find themselves loving them too.

Lucozade Dreams is available now.

DANIELLE PINNOCK CHATS ‘YOUNG SHELDON’ & THE BODY POSITIVITY MOVEMENT 56

With The Big Bang Theory having proven to be a global hit since its very first episode, it should come as no surprise to learn that its spin-off, a look at the childhood and early years of Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper, aptly titled Young Sheldon, has also become a phenomenon. With the show about to air its debut season finale, and with season 2 already greenlit, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Danielle Pinnock, who plays Ms. Ingram in the show, to find out about her very first audition, her role as a body activist and how she feels about the reaction to and her being part of the smash-hit series that is Young Sheldon.

TITL: At what age did you first realize you wanted to pursue acting as a career? Was there one particular show/actor you watched that made you think ‘I’d like to do that’?

Danielle Pinnock: When I was 19 I was in a production at Temple University called In Conflict. It was a documentary play about war veterans returning home from serving overseas. The show was so incredible. We were even pulled out of school for a year to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Off-Broadway in New York.  All of the vets we portrayed were real people, based on interviews done by journalist Yvonne Latty. The veteran I played, Sgt. Lisa Haynes, was the only one we were unable to get a response from during run of the show. I heard that during her initial interview, her PTSD was so severe once returning home that she may have “fallen off the map.” I didn’t want to accept this, so I took it upon myself to find Sgt. Haynes. I called every VA hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was from, and was able to locate her and her family. During the run of the show,  I flew down to Tulsa and met Sgt. Haynes and her family. When I returned back to New York, I was determined to have Sgt. Haynes see the final Off-Broadway performance. So in the final two weeks of the run I managed to raise $10,000 to get Sgt. Haynes and her family members up to New York to see In Conflict’s last show. It was THAT show that made me want to act for the rest of my life.

TITL: Can you recall your very first audition? 

DP: Yes! Ha! My very first audition was for the middle school production of Aladdin. I played Halima, Jafar’s evil sister. It was like pulling teeth to get me to audition for this role. I never wanted to be an actor growing up, and was super shy as a child. My audition song was “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill.

TITL: Which auditions, looking back on them, do you feel went really well or that you struggled with? 

DP: The reason I ended up in Los Angeles is because I auditioned for a production at the Geffen Playhouse called Barbecue by Robert O’Hara. At the time of the auditions, I was still living in Chicago and actually flew up to L.A. to be seen for the project. It was a risky decision and I would not recommend actors doing that, but I knew I had to be on point! I also knew if I was going to move to Los Angeles, I needed a job! Barbecue was one of my best auditions in L.A. Recently, I ran into Colman Domingo and he said: Danielle, you just walked in with your blue dress and commanded our attention. Working with Colman and the cast members was a dream realized. It was an honor to be included in that production.

My most memorable audition that I struggled with also happened in Los Angeles. I was going in for the role of a nurse on a sitcom. A lot of auditions in L.A. happen in “bungalows” which are really just trailers on the studio lots. I only bring this up, because the walls in most audition rooms are extremely thin so you can hear another actors’ entire audition. There was a young woman who went in before me, and her audition was so fantastic that the casting director actually booked her for the project IN THE ROOM! The entire waiting room, full of actors, heard the casting director call this woman’s agent to say the actor had booked it. However, in the waiting room, chaos ensued. People began to leave the audition and I had no clue what to do because I was NEXT! As soon as the actor left the audition room all I heard was: “Danielle Pinnock come on in.”  It was my worst audition to date. I forgot all of the lines and was just unmotivated to even give my all because I knew there was no chance of me getting booked on that project.

TITL: How did you hear about the role of Ms. Ingram for Young Sheldon? What was/is it about the character that made you want to audition for the role?

DP: Funny enough, this was a same-day audition. My manager called me on a Thursday morning and I had three-hours to prepare the sides for an Untitled project. I initially went in for the music-teacher and then Nikki Valko, the casting director, asked me to read for a brand new character they created that week “Ms. Ingram.” It was refreshing to see that casting was considering me, a plus-sized African American woman to play the mathematics teacher. Ms. Ingram is one of my favorite characters to play because she is so quirky, hilarious and extremely no-nonsense.

TITL: The show has proven to be a HUGE success in the US and is also popular here in the UK. Did you or your fellow cast members ever expect the show to get the response and reaction it has? 

DP: It’s surreal! This show is a hit internationally and I’ve never, in my entire career, been a part of such a phenomenon. Chuck Lorre is a genius and absolutely has the Midas touch when it comes to creating successful television! Working with the creators Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro has been a dream come true. My mom and I were in the grocery store and someone stopped us and said “That’s Ms. Ingram, Oh My God!” In the pilot, my character Ms. Ingram talks about attending Oral Roberts University and the school sent me a gift! I went to graduate school at Birmingham School of Acting UK, now known as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, so it’s really cool for my friends, family and professors to see it overseas as well!

Aside from it’s obvious TBBT connection, what do you think it is about Young Sheldon that has attracted so many people to watch, and keep watching, it?

DP: The show is hilarious and the main cast give masterful performances. Iain Armitage who plays Sheldon Cooper is a brilliant young performer and is such a joy to work alongside. His portrayal of Sheldon Cooper is honest and relatable.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Scandal and This Is Us. How important to you is it that you’re able to take on a variety of roles that really put your abilities to the test, and with that in mind, what’s your dream role? Which show would you most like to appear in and why?

DP: Working on those two shows was incredible. I was able to work on Scandal with the genius Kerry Washington; the legendary Viola Davis was the cherry on an already delicious sundae! I’ve had the opportunity to play some fantastic roles both in theatre and on-screen. To be honest, I don’t know what my dream role would be. There are so many great shows out right now. My favorites at the moment: Good Girls, Atlanta, How To Get Away With Murder and SMILF. 

TITL: The entertainment industry is cut throat and competitive, so what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on it? Is there any one piece of advice you were once given that you still look back on?

DP: A colleague of mine once said: “In this industry, you must learn to be plural.” In this industry, especially nowadays, you have to be multi-faceted. This is why there is an uprising of artists creating their own content now.

TITL: Away from TV, you’re an accomplished writer/playwright, and are passionate about creating productions that address life, living and the many issues that come with it. Does your work in that field ever cross over into your acting work and vice-versa?

DP: Absolutely. I’m actually developing an improvised Instagram series with my friend, LaNisa Frederick called Hashtag Booked. Hashtag Booked is a hilarious, raw, and shocking portrayal of what happens during the short period of time in the audition waiting room.  These “characters” are based on real-life experiences.

TITL: How are you finding your role as a vocal activist for body positivity impacting both yourself and those around you? How did you first get involved and would you like to see more individuals, especially those in the public eye, using their status to speak out about important matters as you are?

DP: The first play I ever wrote was a solo show called Body/Courage. Body/Courage was created from over 300 interviews I conducted worldwide, and it was an exploration on body acceptance. This project changed my life. The show is about my journey to find my own beauty through the voices of others. The cool thing about the show is that it introduced a constellation of characters grappling with diverse body issues including weight, illness, disability, skin color, aging, and gender transition. It was this show that got me involved in the body positivity movement. Body/Courage, allowed me to find a courage in myself that I didn’t know I possessed. The body positivity movement already has some fierce voices and it can always use more so I would encourage others to speak out.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

DP: This summer, I’ll be releasing an interview-style podcast called SHOOK discussing true stories of mental health in the industry. I’ve also been asked to be a guest contributor for Shondaland, so check out my essay I’ll be writing for them in the next few weeks.

TITL: Finally then, given that the industry is ever changing, sometimes at a pace even fans can’t keep up with, where do you think the business will go and be 5-10 years from now? What would you like to see happen and do you think that such things will? 

DP: My hope for the industry in 5-10 years is that we can begin to bring more stories by women of color to the forefront. I want to see more women of color on set, I want to see more women of color in the writers room, I want to see more women of color as producers and directors. I want to see women of color win in this industry now and in the future.

Young Sheldon is currently airing on E4 in the UK on Wednesdays at 8.30PM. You can keep up to date with Danielle Pinnock via her Twitter. Header photo credit: Joe Mazza.