CHANTELLE ALBERS CHATS ‘THE 6TH FRIEND’ & HER BIG AMBITIONS FOR THE FUTURE 0 110

With several projects in the pipeline and following the premiere of her latest film The 6th Friend which took place earlier this year, 2019 looks set to be a great and busy year for Chantelle Albers. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to talk her admiration of Meryl Streep, her love of comedy and what she hopes to achieve in the years to come.

TITL: As an actress with a rather impressive and growing resume, was there ever a time growing up that you considered taking a different career path or have you always had your heart set on being on screen?

CA: Honestly, I’ve always wanted to act, even as a child, and I did a lot of acting as a kid growing up in theatre. I grew up in northern middle America so there isn’t a big film market there, but there was a theatre scene and I was very active with that. I remember being in the hospital when I was 4 after suffering a head injury where I fell and had an epidural hematoma, and I was watching TV with this strong burning desire to act. I kind of forced my parents to take me to auditions and rehearsals, and after a few years they were on board. I landed my first gig in a singing and dancing group called Kids on Broadway when I was 7 years old. It was my first audition ever and I sang, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. Today my parents are my biggest supporters. Some other interests I have outside of acting is psychology because I think the study of moods, emotion, the brain, perceptions, and different realities to be incredibly fascinating. That also is what drives a lot of the research when studying characters. I also have a strong interest in animal rescue.

TITL: Which actors and actresses most inspire and influence you when it comes to your career and your work? What is it about he/she/them that encourages and motivates you so much? 

CA: To me, Meryl Streep is honestly one of the greatest actresses, and what I love about her work is all the details she puts into her characters. She has played so many different characters from A to Z and they all are so meticulously filled with details and fleshed out with depth. Whether it’s an incredible accent in Sophie’s Choice, an elderly Rabbi in Angels in America, a she-devil in The Devil Wears Prada, an aging mother addicted to pain pills in August Osage County, or playing historical characters like Julia Childs. She nails it every time and adds an element of likability to all of her characters. I think it’s something about her as a human being that is really raw and beautiful. She’s an incredible talent with an incredible soul and has so much to share with the world. She is a true gift because she is beautiful from the inside out. Often times when I am researching a character, I think to myself, “What would Streep do?” Because to me she is the best. I love her taste for acting.

TITL: Your most recent film The 6th Friend premiered earlier this year. For those who haven’t seen it yet, can you give me some details as to the story? 

CA: Yes, we are very excited about The 6th Friend releasing in Europe this month! Audiences have really loved the film and what they seem to love is all the humor that is in it. The story isn’t humorous because it’s a horror film, but there’s a strong element of comedy mixed in with it and audiences have really loved it. It stars an all-female main cast of six best friends on the night of their college graduation, where they decide to trip acid for the first time. The man, Tyler, who brings the goodies over decides to stay and join in the fun, but something dark and twisted happens. There is an attempted rape and murder, but the girls end up stopping him and killing him before it happens. The girls get a taste of fame from being the murder survivors and their lives are now changed forever. Fast forward five years later where they decide to rekindle their friendship on a weekend vacation to a cabin where the nightmare continues with a surprise at the end.

TITL: What was it like to re-unite with your good friend and former The Demon In The Dark co-star Dominique Swain on the project?

CA: It was great working with Dom, she really added a lot of humor to the movie and had some great ideas on set. During filming it was really great to have her to collaborate with as an actor. She gives you a lot to play with while filming and her eye for comedy is sharp. I always feel there is a lot of humor in horror because comedy and tragedy go together. Dominique was able to add that humor in and add to the humor of Melissa, my character. Our two characters add to the comedic relief of the movie.

TITL: Any fond or favourite memories from your time on set? 

CA: I have a musical theatre background and I have always loved Bob Fosse. The FX channel is doing a limited series on Bob Fosse and his life with partner Gwen Verdon, with Sam Rockwell playing Fosse and Michelle Williams playing Gwen Verdon. FX asked me to come in and do a print shoot of some dance shots with Sam and Michelle. That was some of the best times on set, and the photos turned out amazing. They were raw, real, hard, passionate, and had a strong element of theatre life, which I have a deep passion for.

TITL: The film has won awards at several film festivals including the RIP Horror Film Festival, but do you care much for accolades like that or are you more concerned about what your fans and viewers think? 

CA: The accolades are great and are certainly appreciated because it gives you validation, and a lot of actors in the beginning of their careers are looking for validation. At the end of the day though, it’s all about what your fans and viewers think and what they enjoy. They are the ones buying, watching, and talking about your film so they are the ones we cater to. If the awards and accolades come that’s great, but the most important thing is that people watch the movie, enjoy it and share it.

TITL: What can you tell me about your latest project Promises

CA: Well this is the first movie that I sing in and I’m really excited to go into the studio to record the songs. I have a background in musical theatre as a mezzo-soprano and have been wanting to sing in a movie for a long time, so I was really excited to jump on board with it. The story follows my character who is a mother and also a musician with a terminally ill daughter. As the story unfolds, we find out that I am unable to pay for the medical care and we see how far a mother is willing to go to save her child. It’s actually based on true events the happen in Ethiopia.

TITL: Of all the roles and characters you’ve portrayed in your career so far, which one stands out the most and why? 

CA: Even though I have a horror film out, I have a deep love and connection to comedy. Comedy is one of my first loves. A character that I played in the last few years, and really enjoyed, was a character from a play that was a west coast premiere called Niagara Falls. I played the character of Linda who is the comedic relief and has a dreamlike quality to her. Meaning that when she comes onstage, you question your own reality and circumstance. She comes with a heightened awareness, has an acute eye for detail, and has an added dose of quirk. I enjoy playing strong funny characters.

TITL: You’ve guest-starred on TV shows including Modern Family and Mob City, but if you could appear in any other series, past or present, which would it be?

CA: I would have loved to work on Arrested Development and Happy Endings. To me, those two shows have some of the best writing in the 21st century so far. There are some other shows from the 90’s like Seinfeld that is also up there, but I have a really strong appreciation for intelligent writing.

TITL: Are there any upcoming projects in the pipeline you can tell me about? 

CA: I’m the lead in a really cool film going around the festival circuit right now called The Desert. It’s produced by one of the creators of NBC’s Grimm, Lynn Kouf, and directed by Ben Bigelow. The style of the film is like a 1950’s melodrama, but with an added sci-fi element. It follows my character of Martha, who breaks into her son’s imagination chamber which is used for psychological treatment. After breaking into the imagination chamber, Martha is thrown into a new world, a world of desert where she is reunited with her son. Once back to the real world, we come to find out that Martha has broken open the two worlds wreaking havoc on both.

I just wrapped on a film called Waiting, which is another film that makes the audience question the reality of the movie. The characters are stuck in the room of a restaurant that seems to become more and more claustrophobic, but they are unable to leave. That is until they are allowed to leave but they all must make a bold courageous move before they can get out. It’s sort of representational of purgatory, or the purgatory of our own minds.

TITL: Actors often work long, unsociable hours for lengthy periods of time, so what do you most like to do when you get a day or period of time off? How do you switch off from a particularly stressful role or busy day? 

CA: I really enjoy getting massages. It’s healthy and beneficial for you and I think of it as a holistic form of staying healthy. It increases circulation, opens up chi, releases tension, and can help keep you centered and grounded. I also am an avid horseback rider and I have been riding horse since I was about 4 after growing up on a farm. For me being with animals is very comforting, as well as relaxing and healing. I enjoy going for a ride to clear my thoughts, be with my horse, and it’s also quite a work out when you gallop.

TITL: Finally then, looking to the future, what’s the long-term ambition for you, both personally and professionally? What’s left for you to tick off your bucket list and at what point would or will you be able to say “I’ve done all I set out to and more?”

CA: I don’t think I will ever say I’ve done it all, because there is so much to accomplish as an artist and an adult who is always growing. I have a lot of needs that keep getting added to my list of things I want to accomplish and do. With growth, comes more obstacles and more things to accomplish. What I want to continue doing is producing and acting in feature films and TV with scripts that move me. I want to partner with other investors and companies to create films and grow my creative network, but also make ground breaking films. The 6th Friend is a movie that audiences will enjoy and love, but I want to add a lot more genres and characters to my resume. I don’t want to stick with one genre because the artist in me needs to play with all the genres, styles, and characters. I’m an actor and it’s my job to create diversity within my work book of characters.

For more information on Chantelle Albers, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.Header photo credit: David Villada.

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BAILEY TOMKINSON CHATS “7 MINUTES IN HEAVEN”, TAYLOR SWIFT & SUPPORTING HER FELLOW FEMALE ARTISTS 0 77

Heavily influenced and inspired by Taylor Swift but with music tastes so varied she loves Sam Cooke, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper to name just three, Bailey Tomkinson has an undeniable passion for music. After releasing her EP Hey Ace last year, she’s recently dropped her new single “7 Minutes In Heaven” and with plans to head back in the studio soon to work on new material, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to talk favourite songs, upcoming performance plans and proudly supporting other female artists.

TITL: Who exactly is Bailey Tomkinson?

Bailey Tomkinson: Hi there! I’m Bailey, I’m a 19 year old singer/songwriter from sunny St Ives in Cornwall. I like to write country melodies that hopefully even people that don’t normally like Country Music will want to sing along to! I’m signed to German Indie Label FBP Music and when I’m not performing you can usually find me in the surf!

TITL: At what age did you first realise you wanted to make music a career and what did those closest to you think of said realisation?

BT: I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue a career in music, I watched the movie ‘Selena’, based on the life of the singer Selena Quintanilla, when I was about 4 and from then on all I wanted to do was perform.

The first time I played one of my songs in public was in front of about 300 people in an auditorium, it was a school rock concert in Brussels where we were living at the time, I was about 13. You could have heard a pin drop when I started to play and I just got the bug. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.  I think there is a video of it on YouTube somewhere actually! My family have never been anything other than massively supportive.Their attitude is that we all only get so many trips round the sun, why not spend them doing something you love?

TITL: Which artists and bands are you most inspired and influenced by, and what is it about the music they make that you like so much?

BT: I’ve grown up listening to Taylor Swift so she’s a big influence, obviously very relatable to a teenage girl. But I also admire her for willingness to experiment and innovate across genres; that she wanted to expand the ‘box’. I really admire Kacey Musgraves for the same reason. I listen to Sinatra. I love John Denver because he’s my Grandad’s favourite. Also Sam Cooke, Madonna, Abba, Cyndi Lauper, Jewel – honestly, I just love music.

TITL: Is there a story behind your latest single “7 Minutes In Heaven”?

BT: It was a combination of things really. I love movies like ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ for the sense they have where in one, crazy night anything can happen. I thought it would be interesting to try to capture that feeling in a song. I’m 19 years old, so you know, I love a good party and we have some GREAT parties down here in St Ives, we’ve got the beach, bonfires, surfers and guitars so I thought why not write about some of them!

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing? With that in mind, could you choose what you feel is the greatest song ever written?

BT: That’s such a difficult question and if you asked me that 100 times, I’d probably give you a 100 different answers. Today, I’d go with “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. The song structure is a work of genius; it somehow manages to link multiple songs into one. Freddie Mercury is a GOD!

I think at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say I have a biggest inspiration as I’m quite fickle with the music I listen to, one minute it’s Sam Cooke and the next it’s Guns N’ Roses. However, that said, I’m pretty sure that if you ask people that know me, they’d tell you it’s Taylor Swift. Hell, at school I was nicknamed ‘Baylor’ Swift.

TITL: As a fairly new artist who made their mark on the industry last year, following the release of your EP, do you ever worry about how you compare to so many of your artistic counterparts?

BT: No, success isn’t cake. Just because someone has some doesn’t mean there’s none for me. There’s plenty for everybody. I have nothing but admiration for people who say, I’m going to follow my passion for making music and if they manage to carve out their own niche then more power to them. It’s hard enough for women in music, we’re all seeking to get equal airtime, festival slots etc, without turning on each other. We all experience the same thing…radio stations happy to put our faces on their posters or Facebook pages but then not spinning our records…I make a point of supporting other female country singers out there, we all want the same thing, a bigger industry and an opportunity to thrive within it.  

TITL: Do you have any performances/tour plans in the works?

BT: There’s lots going on. I’m making my London debut at Luna Lounge in April and in August, I’ve been lucky enough to get a slot at Boardmasters Festival which is one of my favourite festivals. I really want to play the length and breadth of the country, so if any one reading this has slots available, hit me up!

TITL: Given that we live in such a technology obsessed/dependent society, what are your thoughts on social media? How have the likes of Facebook and Twitter impacted your ability to reach an audience, and do you believe that artists can become successful without it?

BT: I don’t know that I have any new startling insight on the subject to be honest. It’s a mixed bag. Social media can be horrible, it amplifies hate and lies, it can make people insecure and antisocial I certainly think it’s important to remember that like television, a lot of it isn’t real. But the flip side is that it can connect people across oceans, across continents in ways we’ve never been able to before. 

In terms of the music, so far my experiences on social media have been incredibly positive, I’ve had other artists reach out with encouragement and advice, I’ve had folks contact me saying how much they’ve enjoyed a certain song and share my stuff with their friends etc. everybody has been really welcoming. Can an artist become successful without it? It depends on how you define success…for some it’s filling stadiums, which I don’t think you can do without a strong social media presence; for others it’s being happy, doing something you love on a local stage. If we were all the same, life would be boring wouldn’t it?

TITL: What does the rest of the year have in store for you? Will you be working on some new material at some point?

BT: Yes, I’ve been in the studio recently to record another single. Then after Boardmasters and festival season, I’ll probably do another EP. I’m writing constantly and definitely want to capture those songs properly. Later in the year, I’d like to do a bigger tour.

TITL: Finally then, what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on the music world as you have? Is there anything you’ve learnt in your short time in the business you’d pass on?

BT: I’d say, make the music you want to make and then surround yourself with as many good people as you can. It really does take a village.

Check out “7 Minutes In Heaven” below and for more information on Bailey, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

CRYSTAL CLAYTON CHATS NEW MUSIC, SOCIAL MEDIA & ARTISTIC INFLUENCES 0 87

Following the release of her latest single “Is It Me?” and EP 3AM earlier this month and with her hit song “Blinding Lights” having already been streamed more than 50,000 times on Spotify, there’s no doubt that Crystal Clayton is certainly well on the way to making quite a name for herself. As she looks to a bright future, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to chat artistic inspirations, the power of social media and what, many years from now, she’d most like to be remembered for.

TITL: Please introduce yourself in a few words.

Crystal Clayton: My name is Crystal Clayton and I am an independent pop music recording artist/ songwriter

TITL: Has music always been the career goal for you or did you have other ambitions before embarking on this journey?

CC: I’ve wanted to be a singer since I was a kid. When I was young, I was constantly dancing and singing around the house. I wanted to have a voice like Celine Dion.  As I grew up, I started taking voice lessons and performing in theaters and shows. I began writing songs when I was a teenager and I was hooked. There has never been a plan B. I’ve always wanted a career in music.

TITL: Which artists and bands are you most inspired and influenced by, and what is it about the music they make that you like so much?

CC: I try to be unique and true to myself, but there are several artists I’m very much influenced by.  Growing up, like I said, I was obsessed with Celine Dion and also Mariah Carey. I just loved powerful voices and I tried to emulate that. Over recent years I have been heavily influenced by Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Right now I’m listening to a lot of SZA and Banks! I think I take bits and pieces of what I listen to and create my own version of the music I love.

TITL: Is there one particular artist you might say you’re in any way similar to?

CC: I had a gentlemen with Music Is My Radar review my new project and he said the most relatable artist he could think of would be Rihanna. But I think this project is definitely more R&B/pop than some of my previous material that has been much more strait forward pop. I really can’t pin-point one specific artist that I’m like.

TITL: If you had to give one reason as to why you stand out among your artistic counterparts, what would you say?

CC: What I love about the music I create is that it is catchy and it is pop music, but I give the lyrics life and authenticity. My lyrics are emotionally driven because I am a very emotional person. I like to infuse my love of R&B with my love of pop music.

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing? With that in mind, could you choose what you feel is the greatest song ever written? 

CC: Growing up my parents had me listening to a lot of classic rock. I loved Boston, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Eagles… I believe hands down that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the best song ever written. The range of emotions in intonation, vocally and instrumentally is one of a kind.  There is a lot of current music that I often think to myself “I wish I had written that song”.  Rihanna’s 2016 album, ‘Anti’ is a masterpiece.  I also really love Kehlani’s new album ‘While We Wait’ as well as ‘CTRL’ by SZA. I like to think that my musical taste is well rounded…I just love music. I’m influenced by oldies and also current music. 

I’m also very much influenced by my own life experiences. I can easily look back on situations from my past and draw from those experiences. Even if it’s been a while since the relationship or event took place, my empathy and ability to feed on those emotions helps me write.

TITL: What made you choose “Is It Me?” to be your lead single? Is there a particular story behind the song?

CC: “Is It Me?” was actually a very easy song for me to write. It’s about that excited feeling you get when you believe in what you’re doing and you know that good things are in the future. It’s just a feel good song with feel good vibes. I was able to share that excitement with my producer and team and we just made a happy song. 

I think I chose “Is It Me?” because it resonated well with a lot of friends I shared it with. They liked the energy of the song and it’s also a bit more pop than some of the other songs on this project.

TITL: This is also your first release since moving from Kansas City to LA. Why did you decide that now was the right time to do so and how have you found the transition?

CC: I was actually hoping to put the project out before I left Kansas City, but things were not coming together quickly enough, and I wanted to wait until after the holidays. I just figured, this is a new beginning for me, so why not release a new project that somewhat re-brands what I’ve done so far.

I found myself very stagnant in the Kansas City music scene. I was born in LA and brought to the Midwest when I was very young, and I had always dreamed of moving back out here. I got to the point where it was like, ‘just take that risk! Just follow that dream, what do you have to lose?’ The transition has been an adventure! I still haven’t fully immersed myself into the LA music scene, but it’s coming along. I’m still the new kid trying to get the hang of things around here.

TITL: “Is It Me?” features on your new EP 3AM which came out earlier this month. For those who haven’t heard it yet, how would you sum it up?

CC: 3:AM has many different layers to it. I think it’s an extension of myself, as a young woman, coming into her own. There is a common element in a lot of my music that has this sense of reaching towards aspirations, and big dreams that you can’t seem to let go of. I think that some elements of 3:AM also have that. There’s the confidence of ‘Is It Me?’, the sexiness of “Mine” and “Falter”, the heartbreak of “3:AM”, and then there is “Pieces” that show’s my vulnerability. In that song I’m really just saying, sometimes I’m not okay and really I’m just barely keeping this all together, but I HAVE to keep going. I think that a lot of people can relate to this project and that’s what I strive for. 

TITL: Do you have a favourite track on the collection and if so, which is it and why?

CC: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite because each one is special to me in its own way. Each song captures a different moment and experience. I think, for me, “3:AM” is one that really resonates well. I think that song is my best work lyrically, and that a lot of people can relate to it. We’ve all been in relationships that we know in the back of our minds will not last, but we continue on because we’re in love.

TITL: Will you be/are you touring/performing in support of the EP and if so, where can people come and see you?

CC: I haven’t started planning a tour yet. I have been focusing on promotion of the project and performing around my new city, LA. You can keep updated with performances and music by following me on social media and my website; @criddleclayton and www.crystalclayton.com.

TITL: Given that your hit song “Blinding Lights” has so far been streamed more than 60,000 times and your audience online is growing considerably, how do you feel about social media? Do you think society and the music industry is perhaps too reliant on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, or do you believe such platforms are now vital tools, given the technology-obsessed world we live in?

I’m really proud of how well “Blinding Lights” has done. I think that social media and streaming helped ‘Blinding Lights’ get the attention that it has. I do believe as a society we spend too much time on our phones and on social media. The internet completely lost it when Instagram went down for a day a couple weeks ago. But, it is the way of the future and it’s not going anywhere. I think as a business person – and music is a business – it’s smart to find ways to use these tools to your advantage and engage with people through social media. It’s such a huge market and you can reach people you probably never could have before. It’s vital to a music career in 2019.

TITL: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?

CC: The rest of this year I’m hoping to release some music videos, perform at some awesome shows here in LA, release some more new music later this year, and hopefully do a small tour run! 

TITL: Finally then, as you continue to make your mark on the industry, looking many years down the line, what’s the one thing you’d like people to remember or recall when they think about you and your music? What message or legacy do you want to leave for the current and future generations?

CC: I just hope that people will remember authenticity from me. My music is vulnerable and real. I write music for myself, and what I like; and I hope that people can relate and resonate with it.