CRYSTAL CLAYTON CHATS NEW MUSIC, SOCIAL MEDIA & ARTISTIC INFLUENCES 0 284

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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REVIEW: JULIANA CERVIZZI – SCARED OF MYSELF EP 0 23

It’s often been said that the early years of your life are the most important and influential when it comes to who someone grows up to be. In the case of Juliana Cervizzi, those early years led this talented singer-songwriter to discover a love for music – a love she’s now sharing with the world via her Scared Of Myself EP.

The EP plays like a diary, and from the opening number, the title track of the collection, the listener is taken on a journey through Juliana’s most honest thoughts and feelings. “Outside Looking In” with its stripped back instrumentation allows her voice to take centre stage as she sings about self-empowerment, while “Both Sides” focusses on the idea that while we can and should care about those around us, we shouldn’t so at the expense of our own emotional and mental wellbeing.

The hand-clap that runs throughout “Bother Me” will no doubt sound fantastic when fans unite to do it together at any live shows Juliana has in future, and “Found You” is both catchy and lyrically simple yet honest enough to be worthy of plenty of airplay – and also likely to get stuck in people’s heads (in a good way). Closing number “Another Way” is a highlight of the EP; notably because of the beautiful, soft vocal delivery from Juliana which makes the song incredibly impactful and ideal for unwinding – and reflecting – to, perhaps while sat at a window on a summer’s evening or a winter night in front of a fire.

Ultimately, this EP will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled or continues to struggle with accepting and liking themselves for who they are but furthermore, will introduce music fans to a rising talent that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.

GEORGIA VANNEWKIRK TALKS “BLUE VELVET”, FUTURE PLANS & ARTISTIC INSPIRATIONS 0 73

Earlier this year, Georgia VanNewkirk dropped a surprise debut single “Wish You Well” – without so much as telling her family – and immediately caught the attention of music fans everywhere. Since then, she’s seen both her streaming numbers and fan-base grow considerably and has had a very good year indeed. While currently working on more new music, Georgia spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about the artists she’s most inspired by, her views on social media and her thoughts about her future.

TITL: Has music always been the ultimate career goal for you or have there been times when you’ve considered other paths? 

I have always enjoyed writing music, but never really saw it as a possible career path until recently. I am actually a senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design studying Advertising, and for a while, I thought I would graduate and go work at an advertising agency. My mother was a costume designer for 20 years and this summer I followed in her footsteps working as a costume assistant on a movie, so that is also something I was considering pursuing. I feel like I was destined for some type of creative career and I feel so incredibly lucky that I am able to do music in a professional capacity because ultimately it’s what I enjoy doing the most. 

TITL: Ultimately, what made you decide to make the leap and put yourself and your music out in the world?

I have been writing, singing and playing for years, but I never really took myself seriously as a musician. When I met my producer, Noah Taylor, we started writing and recording, and I became so enamored with the process. I was having so much fun doing it I thought the logical next step was to release it, if anything to show family and friends this cool project I was working on. 

TITL: Which bands or artists might you say most influence the music you make? Is there, in particular, you’ve been inspired by over the years?

Growing up my parents played Dolly Parton, Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles exclusively. We didn’t have a TV or radio, so I didn’t even know that other music even existed.  All three of them have had a huge impact on the music I make subconsciously, and they are all legends I admire so much. Recently though, I have been finding a lot of inspiration in iconic female artists like Lana Del Ray, Kimbra, King Princess, and Maggie Rogers. 

TITL: When it came to your debut single, “Wish You Well” what made you decide not to tell anyone, even those closest to you, that you were releasing it, and what was their reaction when you did?

One of the worst things an artist can do is take themselves too seriously, and the second-worst thing they can do is sell themselves short. I am constantly trying to fight the latter of the two. I wanted to put my music out there and let it speak for itself with no expectations. When the song came out the people closest to me expected it, but pretty much everyone else was shocked. My phone died the night of the release and I didn’t charge it until the next afternoon, so when it came back to life it was going crazy and I thought that someone had died or that there was a zombie apocalypse. It was really cool to see so much support from people for a project that was so personal. 

Is there a story behind the song? 

“Wish You Well“ was my reaction to the end of a relationship. I was so sad and my heart was broken so writing the song was super therapeutic. I held the experience so close to me for so long, and releasing the song helped me let the pain go. It was a way to bookend that time of my life and move on to new love and adventures.

TITL: The track has so far achieved 100,000 streams on Spotify – did you ever anticipate the track would go down so well with music fans? 

Not even a little bit, I thought my mom and grandma would listen and maybe an aunt or an uncle if I shared it with our family Facebook group. 

TITL: Tell me a little about your new track “Blue Velvet.”

“Blue Velvet” tells the story of how I fell for a boy with blue eyes. It showcases how we met when he asked me to be with him, and eventually, the day I knew I loved him. The song follows my emotional journey through doubt and fear and my fall into the blue velvet abyss.

TITL: The video drops on December 4th. How did you come up with concept for it and do you enjoy being creative in that way?

My original idea for the video was to get together with one of my best friends, Liam Haehnle and prance around Savannah GA in blue dresses with his super 8 camera. Luckily, he decided to bring Calvin Herbst in as director and within a week we had a crew of thirteen, five locations – including a soap factory and a synagogue – and a four-day shoot planned. Executing my vision was one of the most exhilarating feelings, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. I’ve always enjoyed visual art, and creating a piece that tells the story of my music was something I really loved doing, and can’t wait to do again. 

TITL: Is there an EP or album in the works? 

Yes, there is I have been in the studio all week and am SO excited for everyone to heat what I have been working on.

TITL: Who or what most influences your song-writing and is song-writing something that comes easy to you? 

Personal experiences influence my song-writing the most. When I started writing it wasn’t to complete a song, it was just to get out what I was feeling in a way that made sense. I am not really able to sit down and say, “Ok I am going to write about love today,” I more just start playing piano and see what comes out. 

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

A song that is truly great takes you to a different place. It’s a song you can feel in your bones and is universally understood. I think we all have great songs within us. The greatest song ever written… wow. There are so many songs and so many songwriters, I feel like there is so much room for greatness and creativity for each artist that picking one would be unfathomable.

TITL: Given that you achieved a huge response on Spotify without not telling anyone about the release of your first single, what are your thoughts on social media? Do you think there are any downsides to society and the music industry appearing to be so reliant on technology and the likes of Twitter and Facebook, or is it just the way the world is now? 

I think social media is such an amazing tool, of course, it has its downsides, but being able to connect with people across the globe is such a unique experience to my generation. I have heard from so many people through Instagram about how Wish You Well has helped them through their breakup, helped them find closure from their relationships, or helped them get over their ex. This was something I never expected, so I am grateful to social media for connecting me to people with shared experiences. 

TITL: Moving away from music slightly, you were Mila Kunis’ costume assistant on the set of her latest film. Is that side of the entertainment business something you also have an interest in, and how if at all does that side influence or affect the music side of things?  

The really cool thing about working on this film as a costume assistant was that I was following in my mom’s footsteps. She was a costume designer in LA for 20 years and worked on the entire run of That 70’s Show with Mila for eight years. During the pre-production phase of the film, I was with my mom and we saw Mila for the first time in ten years. It was so amazing to see them reunite after so long and to be able to work with someone I had grown up around. That side of the entertainment business is so fascinating to me, and it influences me overall as an artist. I learned so much about what goes into a giant production and the process behind making large scale art and it has really helped me to see and curate the bigger picture within my music. 

TITL: Would you like to do more work on film sets etc. or are the coming months set to be more focussed on your music?

I am definitely more focused on my music at this point in my life, but I don’t think I am done with film sets quite yet. There are so many variables in life, who knows, maybe in ten years, I’ll be living in Australia in my tiny home with a charcuterie restaurant. 

TITL: Finally then, as a fairly new artist, what would you like to see the industry achieve and where would you like it to go in terms of growth and development in the coming years? What mark are you hoping to leave on it as your legacy many years from now?

As a new artist, I am just going to keep working hard and hope for the best. I don’t like to get too caught up in the future, as long as I am writing music that I love, I will always be happy. 

Give “Blue Velvet” a listen below and for more information on Georgia VanNewkirk, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.