KRISTINE ELEZAJ TALKS “OVER & OVER” & LOOKING TO THE FUTURE 0 229

Having first been noticed while performing at the Sugar Bar in New York, Kristine Elezaj has grown considerably both personally and professionally over the last couple of years, with such growth being displayed most evidently through her music. The video for her new track “Over & Over” has already amassed hundreds of thousands of views, and she chatted to ThisIsTheLatest about artistic inspiration, her dreams of playing MSG and her excitement about the future.

TITL: For those who have yet to discover you and your music, who is Kristine Elazaj in a few words?

Kristine Elezaj: I’m a passionate and curious person who has never stopped dreaming. I never stopped wanting to soak in everything life has to show me and put it into my art.

TITL: Which artists have you been most inspired by throughout your life and how do those inspirations filter through to the music you make?

KE: When you love music, you are inspired by every artist in some way. Growing up and with my dance background, Janet Jackson was always one of my idols. I love to be able to create music but also have the ability to bring it to life through dance. Through movement, I’m able to add another layer to the story, and that is very inspiring to me.

TITL: You first started out at the Sugar Bar in NYC, where you were discovered by hit song-writing duo Ashford and Simpson as you performed Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” Looking back on that time from where you are now, did you ever imagine a single performance like that could change your life so drastically?

KE: At the time, I didn’t know when I started that performance that night that Nick and Valerie were actually in the audience. Not knowing that they were there helped my performance because my stage fright might have kicked in. I would have felt the weight of the performance even more. Looking back on it and just some other things that have happened, it’s really important to live in the present moment and to realize how precious each moment is. You never know what’s around the corner for you. It was a small intimate venue, performing that evening, started one of the greatest ripple effects of my life and I’m forever grateful.

TITL: You then came to more public attention in 2016 when you placed within the top 20 of Macy’s iHeart Radio Rising Star contest. How much of a boost in confidence, and also in your audience/fan base, did your involvement in that contest give you?

KE: The Macy’s iHeart contest was a huge boost in confidence for me! I was coming out of a place where my career had tested my soul. It was reassuring to know that I was still on the right path and have people appreciate the art I was making. It wasn’t about winning; just being noticed was a win enough. I had another chance to be on a platform to do what I love and hopefully inspire others a little. Even more special, it inspired me all over again!

TITL: You’ve been referred to by Billboard as a cross between Britney and Rihanna. Would you say that’s a fair comment, or would you like to be seen more as an artist in your own right?

KE: Of course you want to be seen as an artist in your own right. I have my own life experiences and point of views that I want to give to the world, and I didn’t take that article in a bad light. They are two of the most successful female artists and I saw it as a compliment to be thought of as being able to be at the same level.

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing?

KE: It might sound simple but for me, just really living my life, and trying to be as much in the moment is the biggest inspiration for writing. Even if I’m going through a hard time, it’s a blessing to be able to try to witness all of my emotions and feel them completely. I’ve loved that my sessions have become a safe place for me and my team. All of them start out as just conversations with a core group that I trust. It has been the best environment for creating music because it’s pure raw emotion.

TITL: The video for your new single “Over and Over” has already had close to half million views since its release. What do you think it is about the visuals in particular that have drawn people in to watch it?

KE: I’m so excited about this video; it’s been the first one in my career to be growing in the way that it has. I think it has a lot to do with the energy and space that I’m in. I have such a great relationship with my team, I’m able to just be myself and create authentically. I have a team that supports my visions and that’s so inspiring for me! I believe my fans can sense that with my music this time around. I’m not trying to create a character, I’m just being myself, showing people what I think is beautiful. In the pop culture world, especially today, I think that is hugely important and is what’s making the difference for me.

TITL: The director of the video, Jose Omar Hernandez, is perhaps best known for his work with Justin Bieber on the likes of “Purpose”, so how did the two of you come together? How did you find collaborating with him to shoot the clip?

KE: I’ve known Jose for years, actually back to the start of my career. Jose wasn’t even directing then. He’s an incredible dancer and has worked with all of the top artists. He’s been a part of many live stage and music video performances. I later found out that he had a passion for directing and was shooting things on the side. Jose’s background and knowledge of dance plays a major role in how he shoots and edits his videos. His style of shooting inspired me to want to work with him. We first collaborated on my song, “Echo” and creatively fed off of each other. From then on, I knew I wanted to grow with him when it came down to all my visual content. Since then, we’ve done four videos together. Every time it gives me the same feeling I had when I was a little girl just having fun with the arts. I’m so grateful for him as a collaborator and more importantly as a dear friend.

TITL: Do you have any upcoming performances you can tell me about and are there any plans for you to head across the water to Europe?

KE: There are not hard dates set right now for performances but that is definitely on the agenda for the near future! My focus has been to engage more with my fans outside of the states. Some of my most loyal fans who have been with me since the beginning are overseas. I’d like to go out there and give back all the love they have shown me over the years. There are some remixes in the works as we speak which I’m really excited about.

TITL: Which one venue, anywhere in the world, would you most like to play and why?

KE: I think every artist dreams of performing at Madison Square Garden. I’m a native New Yorker so that would be incredible. I’m not greedy though. Just being able to perform anywhere someone cares enough to go see you is a blessing, especially considering how hard this business is.

TITL: With the year inching ever nearer to a close, what have been your biggest highlight so far, and what are you still hoping to achieve in the remaining 3 months?

KE: I’ve learned a lot this year. The biggest highlight for me has been how amazing my team is. I just feel that for the first, time I’m in a really good and safe place. I’m watching that result in how my work is being received. I’m excited to see how that energy keeps me growing artistically. In the next three months, I’m looking to have more new music finished and release new singles as well as show dates to share.

TITL: Looking further ahead, what are your artistic and personal goals? What one or two things would you have to achieve for you to look in the mirror and say ‘I’ve made it?’ or do you already feel that way?

KE: The biggest thing for me as an artist is being able to voice my opinion without being scared when it comes to my career. I feel like I have that now. It sounds easy but that is a big hurtle. Now that those doors are open, I’m excited to see where that takes me and how far I can really push myself now. Whatever comes from that space comes and that’s what I’m most excited about because I’m at peace.

Check out the video for “Over & Over” below and for more information on Kristine Elezaj, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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BAILEY TOMKINSON CHATS “7 MINUTES IN HEAVEN”, TAYLOR SWIFT & SUPPORTING HER FELLOW FEMALE ARTISTS 0 76

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.

LIVE: BLUE PLANET II IN CONCERT – MANCHESTER ARENA 27/03/19 0 82

While Blue Planet and its follow up series continue to delight and astound viewers around the world with the depth and scope to which the team behind it delve into the many wonders of our oceans, the experience of seeing the music that accompanies the programme, scored by Hans Zimmer, Jasha Klebe, and David Fleming, performed live with a full orchestra is something else entirely – but just as breathtaking.

The performance began with the orchestra, led by conductor Matthew Freeman, diving straight into the opening music, the skill and precision of the performance itself causing both smiles and goosebumps to appear on a vast majority of the audience (or certainly those I could see).

Host for the evening Anita Rani was both efficient and enthusiastic as she introduced each section of the show, herself and Freeman working almost fluidly in their partnership, while the visuals which accompanied each segment were as stunning as the music performed during it – the wonders of the oceans around us displayed in captivating detail on a giant 200 square metre screen.

It was not at all hard to feel as if, while the show progressed, that you’d been transported to another world of sorts – the younger members of the audience in particular seemed utterly awed by the sights and sounds they were being introduced to.

Highlights of the evening, in terms of the footage shown to the mesmerized audience, were the hundreds of dolphins surfing on waves and puffins feeding their young, but every scene and every sound brought home the most important sight and message of all – that we need to and must protect our oceans.

A night of awe inspiring sights and sounds left the audience within the Arena spellbound from start to finish and as the show reached its climax, the orchestra falling silent for the final time, the applause directed to Freeman, his musicians and host Rani echoed throughout the venue with many present standing to applaud what had been a truly spectacular night.