CRYSTAL CLAYTON CHATS NEW MUSIC, SOCIAL MEDIA & ARTISTIC INFLUENCES 0 126

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. 

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LINDSAY ELL TALKS TOURING, NEW MUSIC & SONGWRITING INSPIRATION 0 64

Having earned herself a considerable following as a result of her number 1 album The Project connecting with fans on both sides of the Atlantic, and following a brief visit to the UK earlier this month as tour support for country superstar Chris Young, it’s fair to say things are looking fairly rosy for Lindsay Ell, but that’s not to say she’s resting on her laurels. Instead, currently working on her next LP, Lindsay is looking forward to a bright and ambitious future, and she spoke to ThisIsTheLatest to chat musical influences, future performance plans and where she most finds inspiration for her songs.

TITL: Given that you were discovered at the age of 13, is it safe to say that music has been always been your passion or have there been times when you’ve felt even slightly swayed to follow a different path? 

Lindsay Ell: Music has always been such a passion of mine ever since I was a little girl. I started playing shows at such a young age, that by the time I was 10, I fell in love with performing in front of an audience. I knew that my heart felt at home playing on stage, and nothing came close to giving me that same feeling!

TITL: Which bands and artists are you most influenced by and how do they impact the music you make? 

LE: I listen to so many different kinds of music. When I was growing up I listened to everything in between Shania Twain and Garth Brooks to Tommy Emmanuel. Of course, I will always be inspired by John Mayer, and Keith Urban. Currently I’m listening to a lot of Lany, Lauv and Janelle Monae. 

TITL: Tell me a little about your recent collaboration with Brantley Gilbert “What Happens In A Small Town”. How did the two of you come together to work on the track? 

LE: I was so grateful that when Brantley and his record label head, Scott Borchetta, sat down to brainstorm who they wanted to be a part of this duet, they thought of me. I am honored to be a part of this song, and feel that although Brantley and I aren’t the first two names you’d think of to put together in a duet, that is what makes it so special. My favorite collaborations are ones of two artists you wouldn’t immediately think of performing something together. That is what makes it unique. That is what makes it special. 

TITL: In terms of your lyrics and general song-writing from who or from where do you find most of your inspiration?

LE: Carole King, Lori McKenna and Brandi Carlile are some of my favorite songwriters but I personally get inspired by so many different things. Through traveling a lot, all over the world, I find myself constantly being inspired by different cultures and people watching.

TITL: You’re currently working on a new album, the follow up to your US number 1 LP The Project. Is there anything you can tell me about it or are you keeping things hush hush for now? 

LE: I’ve been writing a lot towards the next record. A lot has happened in my personal life and my career in the past two years, so I think fans are going to be able to see that on this next album. Song-writing in a lot of ways becomes my therapy. 

As someone who has performed on both sides of the Atlantic, have you noticed any similarities or differences between audiences here and back home? 

Getting to play music for fans across the world is so incredible. Fans definitely differ a little bit from country to country.  The think that I have always loved about UK audiences is fans want to listen to the song-writing and the music. As a guitar player, and someone who loops sometimes in live sets, it is amazing to play for an audience that appreciates musicality to that degree.

TITL: For anyone who hasn’t seen you before, what can they expect from a performance of yours?

LE: Hopefully anyone coming to watch our show can walk away with feeling like they got to see some real music. I try to put on a dynamic set, with lots of epic guitar solo moments, and intimate acoustic songs. I like to take the audience through a journey while I’m up there. If I can make them laugh, cry, and want to dance in the same set I’ve done my job. 

TITL: If you could put together your dream show with four bands or artists, living or dead, who would you choose and where would you play? 

LE: That’s always a hard question…. I would have to say Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder. If you’d ask me that question again I probably would have a different answer every time, because it’s so hard for me to narrow down my list of artists I look up to. But we’ll start there.

TITL: Finally then, what does the rest of the year have in store for you? 

LE: We will be touring a lot over the next year. We’re just at the start of music festival season…and Brantley Gilbert and I will be touring together later this fall. Having just finished up a tour here in the UK, I’m already planning on the next time I can get to come back again. I’m hoping on a few shows this fall, and then coming back early in the new year!

Check out “What Happens In A Small Town” below and for more information on Lindsay Ell, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

ANDREA EVANS TALKS ‘ROCKING THE COUCH’ & UPCOMING PROJECTS 0 78

Having been in the entertainment business since she was 10 years old, Andrea Evans is no stranger to the highs and lows of Hollywood, but the events of recent years involving the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and the ever growing #MeToo movement have now seen her add another bow to her already impressive resume, as a producer of the new documentary Rocking The Couch. The documentary features interviews with many victims of Hollywood sexual assault, as well as several individuals who were involved in the Wallace Kaye case of 1992 and takes a long hard look at the cases both past and present and the valuable lessons that, for the most part, still haven’t been learnt. With the documentary proving to be a huge success, ThisIsTheLatest spoke to Andrea about why she got involved, whether she might one day move into directing and where and when fans can see her on screen next.

TITL: Rocking The Couch is largely fuelled firstly by the case, led by twelve women who were brave enough to speak out, brought against Wallace Kaye in 1992. For anyone who is unaware of the story, could you sum it up for me and explain ultimately how it’s impacted this documentary?

Andrea Evans: A lot of documentaries tend to follow their own path and that’s exactly what happened with this one. My co-executive producer, friend and director Minh Collins and I were first only going to interview people from the past few years or thereabouts and build the documentary around that, but then my husband brought to my attention the case brought against Wallace Kaye, as you say, in 1992, in Hollywood. The fact he had to bring this to my attention is kind of the whole point – I was an actress, living in Hollywood in the 1990’s and I’d never heard this story, or anything to do with it. The story itself is led by 12 young, aspiring actresses, interviewing with a talent agent at the time who then sexually assaulted each of them. They went to their unions to complain, the unions told them to forget about it and then finally, one of the actresses, who wasn’t with a union, called the police who got involved, and these women took him to court and won.

You would think that that would make news, and that there would be a lot of attention about it, but there never was. When I started interviewing people about the case, they were shocked because I was the first person who had ever contacted them. That became sort of the main feature, the meat of the documentary was this case – how did it happen and why, and also why didn’t we hear anything about it.

TITL: As an actress yourself, is the behaviour and attitudes towards women addressed in Rocking The Couch something you’ve experienced yourself or is it something you just feel passionate about enough to have done something to help stand against it and spread the word?

AE: I think pretty much every actress in Hollywood – and a lot of actors too – we don’t want to leave men out of this, I think it’s a very big issue with and for them as well, particularly with gay men – but yes, we all have stories. My stories, thank goodness, were not as traumatic as some of the stories we feature in the documentary. We did interview me, as well, as one of the subjects, but my stories were not that good in comparison to other people’s so I had to put myself on the cutting room floor – something that I never thought I would actually do, or say I’ve done. We also bring up the fact that, I think we have some interviews with Carrie Mitchum, the grand-daughter of the famous actor Robert Mitchum, where she discusses how we all knew this was going on and that’s true – we all did. If you heard from celebrities who said they were blind-sided or didn’t know about it, they’re lying, because we all knew, and we all saw it. It was definitely something that needed to come out into the light, needed to be addressed and needs to stop.

TITL: Exactly how shocked are you that lessons weren’t, and, as proven by the scores of recent cases made against a number of men in the industry, haven’t been learned in the more than two decades that have passed since the Kaye case?

AE: I think society is changing and that’s why you and I are having this conversation. I think the way society looks at sexual abuse and sexual assault, certainly in the workplace, is changing. And maybe social media has something to do with this, but I think as a society, we are now finally starting to actually pay attention to the victims, to listen to what they are saying. You’re a woman and I’m sure you’ve heard these things before, you know ‘dress appropriately’ ‘You don’t wanna do this…’ It shouldn’t be the way that a woman dresses that makes her the victim of a crime. But yet, so many women, who have been a victim of these crimes, are accused are bringing said crime upon themselves, because there’s something in or about their behaviour, and I think as a society we’re finally looking at that, paying attention to what happened to these women.

My favourite instance I bring up about how society, in more recent times, is how we look at all these instances in the Catholic church. Priests have been accused of abusing young boys, and we never asked these young boys the sort of things that have been asked of women over the years – we took them at their word. Why wasn’t that the case with the women who spoke out? Why weren’t they taken at their word, for all these decades? That’s the more interesting question.

TITL: You’ve said in the past that this documentary presents a “realistic view of what happened” and that it includes “things that (you don’t think) the mainstream media did.” What exactly do you mean by that?

AE: Certainly when we were bringing to light the Weinstein case, I don’t think the mainstream media paid much attention to the struggle undertaken by actresses – and actors – trying to get into the business, and that, to my mind, is where most of the abuse happened. Abuse often happens to the most vulnerable, and because there’s no real path towards becoming an actor or actress, much like becoming a lawyer or doctor, there have been a lot of people who’ve taken advantage of that – people anxious to get their foot in the door of the industry. They’re eager and anxious…and that’s where and when the majority of these people end up in trouble.

It’s easier to get a film about A-List celebrities who are being abused or to get that on the evening news, because we all like to hear about celebrities, but that’s not the case for the majority of these cases. They’re people who are just trying to get into the industry.

TITL: If for instance, the #MeToo movement hadn’t started up and women hasn’t started speaking up, do you think you’d have still made this documentary and released it, or is it something you were ultimately spurred on to do as a result of the outpouring of outrage that came with the accusations and cases made against the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby?

AE: I would love to think that I would’ve made this movie anyway because I do feel strongly about this issue, but I also know that when the Weinstein and Cosby cases first came to light, my partner and I were just having coffee and got to thinking about how someone should really look into this, and could make a great documentary out of it, and we sort of looked at one another and both had the same idea – ‘Why not us? Let’s do this.’

I was inspired by the #MeToo movement and driven to tell what we feel is the true story, and to try and show it from several different angles, including Carrie Mitchum’s remarks that we all saw it. I saw instances in my working career of women that were being approached and maybe took producers up on their approach – I certainly saw that – and said nothing, as did many people. I’m glad now that we can get it out in the open and tell what’s really been happening.

TITL: You co-produced this documentary with your director from The Hit List Minh Collins and Jerry Sommer. What would you say you each brought, in creative terms, to the documentary?

AE: Minh was the director and obviously, having directed before, he was able to pull it all together and put into the shape it is now. Jerry did a lot of the filming as well and the editing. I know from my own part, that it was extremely important to have a woman on board and I went to every interview, even if I wasn’t asking the questions – I wanted to be there to show my support for every single woman, and so that she would feel more comfortable and know that there was someone there who would understand her point of view. They were being brave enough to tell their story and I just wanted to be there to help, in any way I could, to make telling that a little easier for them.

I also sought out a lot of the people you saw and see on the air – I was the one that got in touch with them, and I don’t want to say ‘convinced’ because a lot of the people that came forward, even the people on the Wallace Kaye case – the lawyers, the victims, the very brave policewoman who went in, knowing she would probably be assaulted, but wanted to be there for those women and without her, the case would never have come out – they were all very anxious to tell their story. They wanted the truth to come out and I think it was therapeutic for them. Hopefully, my being a woman helped them with that.

A huge part of why I got involved with this is that I am loaning my celebrity to this movie, in publicising it and trying to get it out there so people pay attention. There are so many good films and documentaries that go completely unnoticed, that don’t get the attention they deserve and that’s a big part of my contribution to this film.

TITL: How has the reaction been to the film so far and, what do you most want those who see it to take away/learn from it?

AE: I have been thrilled with the reaction. Here in the States, it’s been really big – it keeps growing and growing. We’re now being distributed, with Amazon, to pretty much every country that speaks English, and the interest in the UK has been steadily growing as well, which I am very happy and pleased to see. It’s very gratifying – I’ve never been a producer really, I’ve never had this experience of creating something from the very beginning and taking it out to audience and getting their response. I hope the viewers in the UK will check it out, look at it and see our work and let us know what they think. Amazon has been so happy we’re now talking about an addition documentary, so any comments people have, any ideas, I would love to hear them.

TITL: Is there anything you can tell me about this potential second documentary or are you still sketching out ideas etc. for now?

AE: We’re still sketching out the ideas for it, so I can’t really tell you anything about it, but I would love to talk to you about it when it is released. I’m so thrilled that I’m even able to talk about it and that this one has been so successful – that kind of blows my mind, having been a first time producer in particular.

TITL: Looking to the future, do you think the likes of the #MeToo movement can, as we’ve seen make an impact, but one big enough to actually eradicate the sort of behaviour that the documentary focusses on? What more can and needs to be done to ensure incidents like those so many women have spoken out about in recent months never happen again and that those who are actively involved in such are punished in a suitable way?

AE: We’ve yet to see how big of an impact all this has and that’s gonna take some time. Hopefully our daughters and grand-daughters won’t have to deal with this kind of subject, which brings to mind another reason and part as to why we did the documentary. My daughter happened to be on break from school when we were fifteen and she wanted to come to the set. I was a little wary about that – she is not quite fifteen – and I wondered whether or not I wanted her to hear these stories. She wants to go into the entertainment industry so I thought ‘yeah, she should hear these stories’, because the really only true way to prevent these kinds of situations is to truly do everything in your own power to prevent it. Even if the #MeToo movement has a HUGE amount of success, even if it reduces these sorts of problems by 90%, there will still be that 10% where things happen. So the best way for people to eliminate it is to protect themselves and I hope that men and women who want to go into the entertainment industry will watch this documentary and use it as a bit of a cautionary tale. My daughter said she learned a huge amount from watching it, like how to minimise your risk by doing things like not going out for drinks with someone who’s trying to help you break into the industry. Minimise the risk as much as possible, and hopefully that will help that 10% I referred to earlier.

TITL: Where do you go from here then? Do you maybe want to move into the directors’ chair next time or are you happy where you are, producing and giving your name and status to a cause or a film you’re passionate about and eager to help get the word out about?

AE: I really enjoyed the producing. At some point yes, I would love to try my hand at directing and might have a little go during the next documentary just to see how I get on, but my main bread and butter is my acting career. I love it and I love the industry – it pains me to have to do documentaries about such a negative aspect of a business that I’ve been in since I was 10 years old, and that has been very good to me – so hopefully I can help it, and help maintain some of the integrity of this business in my own little way because I really do love it.

TITL: Finally then, in terms of your acting career, have you got any projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

AE: I don’t know what airs in the UK, and that’s a problem, but I am in series available on Amazon Prime called The Bay – which is so much fun to do. I’m working with a lot of people I’ve worked with before in other situations, and I just came on in season four as a real troublemaker and I believe I will be making a lot of trouble in season 5 which will air next year. People can watch me there.

Rocking The Couch is via all VOD platforms including Amazon and Vimeo now. To keep up to date with Andrea Evans, follow her on Twitter.