A hugely talented and creative individual.
Rachel Palumbo is perhaps best known for her work as a film director and her
debut feature Sapere Aude is
available now to view via Amazon Prime. However, she’s now made to the move
into music world and has stepped behind the camera to work with rising talent
MARG on the video for her single “Moving”. Inspired by Tom Ford and currently
working on and writing new projects, Rachel spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about the one band she’d love to work with, her
upcoming film Rocket Man and the
advice she’d give those looking to follow in her footsteps.
TITL: As someone who is a part of several sectors of the creative and
entertainment worlds, at what age did you first know you wanted to make being
creative as you are a career path?
Rachel Palumbo: I always loved photography from a
young age, but when I really started thinking that I wanted to get into film
and pursue it as a career was when I was around 14 or 15 and I started created
music videos and short films with my siblings. I had so much fun doing it that
I found myself filming and editing for hours on end. I figured I wanted to be a
part of telling stories and creating things by doing something that I loved and
TITL: Which directors/actors and other creatives
most encouraged and inspired you to pursue that path and would you say have
most helped you get to where you are now?
RP: I’m creatively inspired by Tom Ford. I love his
aesthetic and I think everything he makes is so elegant and beautiful. I
especially loved that he transitioned from fashion into directing and that he
carries his style so effortlessly across both mediums. It’s inspiring that he
didn’t think he could only be one or the other, and did both so well. I also am
inspired individually by so many creatives that pushed through and believed in
themselves and their passions no matter what anyone told them.
TITL: Your debut film Sapere Aude is on Amazon
Prime. Given the advancements in technology, how do you feel about having your
short film tied exclusively to a paid streaming service as opposed to releasing
RP: I liked that Sapere Aude was a little more
exclusive when it first came out. I see the pros and cons to both. But for us,
it was exciting when we found it distribution online. It gave it a bit more
significance for us to have it on a paid streaming service than uploading it
TITL: What can you tell me about “Rocket
Man” that’s coming to DirectTV soon?
RP: “Rocket Man” started in a coffee
shop, with myself and friend/co-producer and actor Alex Cubis grabbing coffee
and deciding we wanted to make something together. We wanted to deal with the
topics of success and finding significance through what you do. Through Rocket Man, I wanted to explore what it
is like when things don’t pan out in life exactly as we had planned or hoped.
This film was so much fun to make and I had the privilege of working with such
an amazing team who all helped create something beautiful. Directing this film
made me fall more and more in love with directing and helped me realize that
this really is where I want to be.
TITL: You spent several years making films, so why
have you decided that now is the right time to make the slight transition
towards more of the music world?
RP: The first thing I ever made was a music video.
I have always enjoyed the creativity and artistic freedom that music videos
give you. Narrative films take a long time to make from start to finish and I
like to keep myself busy creatively – one reason I also love photography so
much. It just felt natural to be directing music videos to keep myself
imaginative and creative.
TITL: How did you come across MARG, and how did the
two of you find the collaborative process for the video you made together?
RP: MARG and I have been friends for a while now. I
was always inspired by her fashion choices – I think that’s what we originally
bonded over – and I loved her music and think she’s insanely talented. A couple
months ago we were doing a photoshoot together and she was showing me her
latest music and asked me if I wanted to direct one of her videos. We talked
about what we wanted it to be like, sent each other our inspiration and both
had the same vision for the song. She wanted to film it on a VHS camcorder and
that was something I had been wanting to do for a while, so we got ourselves a
Hi8 and the rest is history.
TITL: If you could direct a video or short for any
musician from history, who would you choose and why?
RP: It would have to be The Eagles. I love their
music and style and they are so insanely talented as musicians. I always get
lost in their lyrics and I can only imagine how inspiring it would be to work
and collaborate creatively with them. Besides, I would have loved to just hang
out with them!
TITL: Are there any other projects in the pipeline
you can tell me about?
RP: I just have a couple of projects we’re in the
process of writing – but not far enough along yet!
TITL: Finally then, what advice would you give to
someone looking to make their way in the creative entertainment world? What
three traits would you say someone most needs to help ensure they stay focused
and achieve their goals? What’s left for you achieve?
RP: I would say to stay true to yourself creatively,
obviously be inspired by people but know what you like, stick by it and trust
it. I got so distracted at times by trying to copy someone else’s style instead
of just embracing my own. That’s what’s going to make you stand out and make
you different from everyone else trying to do the same thing.
Three traits – passion, perseverance and
positivity. You have to have passion about your goals and really want them
enough, or else you’re going to give up when it gets hard. Perseverance because
there are always going to be ups and downs. When you’re down just remember you
can only go up from there – but you won’t get there if you don’t push through.
And finally, positivity because life is just a journey – trust that journey. As
soon as you realize that you’ll never really feel like you have “arrived” then
you can enjoy life and the moment, because really, that’s all we have.
I’ve SO MANY THINGS left to achieve, directing a
feature, more music videos, and also creating a few brands.
Check out the video for MARG’s single “Moving” below and for more information on Rachel, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.
Having started singing when she
was a child and as a graduate of the esteemed Berklee College of Music, Hanna
Barakat’s passion for music is unmistakable. Throughout her career, she has
performed with artists including Burt Bacharach and earned herself praise from
several critics as well as a growing following around the world. As she
prepares to release her new album Siren
next month, Hanna spoke to ThisIsTheLatest
about her many artistic influences, her favourite tracks on Siren and her plans
for the years ahead.
TITL: At what age did you first realize you wanted to make music a
career, and were there any other career paths you considered before making your
mark on this one?
Barakat: My parents can attest to the fact that I was practically born singing.
I had no other activity I loved more than to sing, whether i was playing with
my dolls, jumping on my trampoline, or horseback riding, I was always singing.
I didn’t always understand to what capacity I would make my living as an
artist, but I have always known music was my passion and my path. In the back
of my mind, If I were not to pursue music, I planned to work with horses in
some capacity but my father argues I would have been a fantastic sales manager
of some kind.
TITL: What would you say is your unique selling
point as an artist? What makes you stand out?
unique style and sound merges Arab-oriental influences, as well as hard rock,
for powerful and genuine connections with my audience. Socially and politically
charged, my passion-driven compositions and performances often add
eastern ornamentation, as well as other musical influences to transcend language
and borders to touch the heart. My aim is to connect with others both those
displaced from their homelands, being influenced by multiple cultures around
them, while simultaneously reaching mainstream audiences that appreciate
writings of personal encounters, relationships, life issues, and, of course,
TITL: Which one band or artist might you say most
influenced your love of music growing up and how, if at all, has that
influence, changed or grown over the years?
was definitely the powerful voices of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Amy
Lee of Evanescence that made me want to be a rock artist. They were not your
typical rock singers. They had such powerful voices that could pierce your
emotional flesh, make you want to run 10 miles, all while delivering their
performances with such exquisite precious fierce voices. It’s safe to say they
are my long-standing heroes!
musical heroes take their place in my life in waves, during my formative years,
Whitney Houston, Sarah McLachlan, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey gave me something
to sing along to! In times of struggle and heartache, like during all of my
terrible years of middle school and high-school, bands like Linkin Park,
Staind, Evanescence, A Perfect Circle, Incubus, System of A Down, Nickleback,
POD, Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, and the like were my lifeline.
They were so influential on me both emotionally and musically. They tapped into
my current state of being and pulled me through more difficult periods than I
can count. Today, I am listening to In this Moment, Breaking Benjamin, and
Nothing More on instant repeat!
TITL: You attended the renowned Berklee College
Of Music. Looking back, how do you think that helped/encouraged you as you
embarked on this journey into the music world? What one lesson/piece of advice
that you were taught/given there do you tend to reflect on and find helpful?
acceptance into Berklee College of Music was a very validating and pivotal
moment in my life and my trajectory. I knew I wanted to pursue music as my
career, but I was still very young and had no clue what was in store for me. It
only took my 18 year old self a few days to look around at the talented
musicians walking the halls of Berklee to completely overwhelm me and fill me
with self-doubt. It took quite a while for me to realize that, though there are
hundreds and thousands of talented artists, ready to take the spotlight, I had
to find my own voice, my own style, and my own path, in order to make a mark in
the industry and be successful as a performer. There will always be different,
better, other performers, singers, songwriters. The lesson I learned from this
experience is that I must be myself, fully, and be confident in my direction as
an artist. My experiences, performances, and musical community at Berklee left
a phenomenal mark on me. It was a very strenuous time in my life, but it only
drove me harder towards my ultimate goal of being a professional musician on
the world stage.
TITL: You’ve also lived in various parts of the
world, notably the US and Lebanon. How has being part of two very different
cultures influenced the music you make and your ability to connect with
audiences around the world?
background plays a significant role in my creative process, both musically and
conceptually, because my background is me. My history and my family’s history
shaped me. I’ve always been so intrigued by my heritage, from the culture,
politics, customs, food, and most importantly the music. The situation in the
middle-east is very tumultuous. After graduating in 2010, I moved to Lebanon to
engross myself in the culture, gain understanding, study Arabic, and to just be
emerged in it all. It was a wildly profound and life altering experience for
me, both good and bad, and I could go on and on about it, but what I can say
for sure is that I grew in so many ways while living there. My perspective on
life changed entirely. I was also exposed to so many things that I have since
been compelled to write about. It was always in my blood and now it’s under my
tongue in many of my songs.
TITL: A lot of artists often find themselves
compared to some of their artistic counterparts, so which band or artist are
you most commonly finding yourself compared to and do you mind it?
voice is most commonly compared to Amy Lee of Evanescence, and I do not mind
that at all. She was an inspiration and a teacher to me, and I have accepted
the influence she and her music has had on me and my musical journey.
TITL: How easy do you find song-writing? Is it something that
comes naturally to you or can it often depend on the circumstances/way you’re
feeling at the time?
find song-writing to be very difficult. It depends entirely on the day as to
what inspires me. It could be anything really. One of my song-writing mentors
called song inspiration triggers, “gems”. Sometimes these gems peak my ears in
conversation, sometimes they end up flowing out in a long essay of lyrical
ideas, and most commonly I find inspiration in my day to day life. I am a very
sensitive person, and as difficult circumstances, relationships, personal
struggles, political situations and/or crises affect me, I feel compelled to
process them the only way I know how – to write them into song. My songs are my
TITL: What to you makes a song truly great?
think the marriage between melody and lyric makes or breaks a song and its
impact on the listener. If a song has profound lyrics and a mismatched melody
and vocal delivery, one can easily become disconnected from the message. As for
the greatest song ever written, I could not possibly say! Each human
interprets, absorbs, and appreciates music in a unique way, and I know what
songs affect me most deeply, but those songs are for my therapy and not
necessarily the masses as a whole.
TITL: You’ve just dropped your new single “Leave Your Light On.” Is there a story behind it?
song is my honest song of love and relationship. As a society, we like to
spotlight the glamour and ease of love and romance and keep the realities of
pairing lives with another soul, somewhat in the dark. It is not common to
discuss the struggles and pains associated with relationships. This song means
a lot to me, as I wrote it as a plea to my husband in a time of great struggles
in our relationship. It was a tool of communication between us, and it was a
wonderful tool at that. My husband loves to take credit for inspiring this
TITL:The song is taken from your new album ‘Siren’ which is out next month. Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about it?
HB: If I were to tell you my life story, I think you would agree that I’ve had
a fairly unique upbringing. The chain of events leading up to this point in my
life have definitely afforded me a strong sense of self, a ravenous curiosity
towards the world around me, and a slightly weathered heart. It took me nearly
10 years to create this record, and it took me over a year to produce these ten
precious songs with my incredible producer, John Moyer of Disturbed. Those 10
years’ history would take too long to explain, but in short, I had to live
first. I had glimpses of my own music captured, over the years, but they were
incomplete. They were not ready. I was not ready. It was a grueling process to
get to the point where I am now with my record. My songs have gone through
tremendous transformations and the ones that have made it through – well, they
are a labor of love, a digital memory, my life story, my love.
chose the title, Siren, for my debut
record, after my producer, John Moyer, and I produced our final song together,
which happened to be Siren. I was hesitant to even introduce this song to John,
but after 4 days in my studio, production was completed, and it just blew our
minds! The power of the music and the lyrics filled me with such fire. It
motivated me and inspired me to take this next step in my journey with such
confidence. Though the song references the mythical sirens of the sea, I loved
the idea of a double meaning – An actual siren, warning call, alarm! The songs
on this record were written over a span of 10 years. I can hardly believe it,
but it’s the truth. These songs have been my comfort and my therapy, as I’ve
journeyed this world, witnessed injustices, engrossed myself in my ancestral
culture, grown within myself, literally travelled the globe, loved, lost,
failed, loved again, and struggled to reach the place where I am today.
songs travel through the complexity of relationships, the balance of strengths,
messy breakups that resolve with constantly falling back into old habits with
ones significant others yet again. While other songs touch on anguishing socio-political
situations that plague the world today. I want to bring awareness to these
situations, not by forcing any political agenda, but by pushing for love,
understanding, and acceptance of all the other humans walking this earth
together. Throughout history, there have been unnatural walls physically
erected, or socially accepted and perpetuated, in order to divide people. I
want to tear those walls down. All of them. Through my music, with rock
guitars, heavy drums, deep rhythmic bass lines, and my intricate vocal melodic
lines and punchy harmony stacks, I have chosen to forge Arabic instruments like
the oud, kanun, frame drum, riqq, into my sonic landscape, where I feel they so
naturally and appropriately belong.
TITL: Do you have a favourite track on the album
and if so, which is it and why?
honestly depends on my mood at the time. I will say, without fail, “Damage Done”
and “Siren” are by far the most fun songs to perform live. They are very
powerful for me, and allow me to channel my emotions, anger, strength, and
power each time I perform them!
TITL: What did producer John Moyer bring to the creative/recording
process and how did the two of you come to collaborate on the album?
if I let John tell the story, he makes it sound a little like I hunted him
down, stalker style … and I guess I kind of did…? One of my musician
friends met John at a local bar, by chance, exchanged numbers, and mentioned to
me that John produced some select musicians. I had been on the search for a
rock producer for quite some time, so this was very exciting for me, but I
didn’t know how to proceed. I sent my friend a message to forward to
John, asking how I could get in touch with him to discuss his production work,
and within minutes of forwarding that message, John called me! And I was
horrified. Not only because it was John Moyer, but I had completely lost my
voice for the previous 3 weeks, and I couldn’t hardly make a sound. I was a
squeaky mess. I sounded like a gremlin! And of course, I was telling him, “I’m
a singer and a rock songwriter and so on…” and I sounded like a man who had a
suitcase on his head, chewing on rocks… I mean, it was a disaster. But John
was extremely easy to talk to and wanted to hear more about my music, so he
invited me to come to the studio he was working out of that day, which was Orb
Studios in Dripping Springs! It took me all of 3 seconds to hop in the car and
head over to meet him, cough drops and tissues in every pocket! From there, it
was an instant connection!
is one of the most genuinely kind and gentle spirited people I have ever met in
my life. He has so much passion and enthusiasm for music, and he showed this
intense passion, care, and emotion towards my music. He has years of experience
performing, recording, and producing the kind of music I love, write, perform,
and live for. And the cherry on top of the cake, he offered to not only produce
me but also record bass and some guitars on my songs, and that just blew my
mind. His playing is beautiful, tasteful, and he has an ebb and flow in his
performance that is like a dance. It’s beautiful to hear and to watch. John has
definitely taken on a mentoring role in my life since the completion of this
started out as producer and artist, formed a beautiful friendship along the
way, and towards the end of the recording process, about a year into the
record, when the time came to switch gears from production to album release,
John assumed a mentoring role in my life. I send him ideas for album artwork
and harass him while he’s on tour across the world, with requests for his
preferred album order! He’s an incredible sounding board and a fierce supporter
and encouraging force in my life and my career right now. He’s pretty awesome,
and I’m grateful to have him on my team!
TITL: Will you be touring in support of the album
and do you have any plans to head over this way/to Europe?
definitely have intentions of touring in support of this record, but I am still
working on it! I will have to get back to you on it! As an independent artist,
I have to work at a different pace than what is necessarily desired. We shall
see what the future holds! For now, we are performing regionally, in and around
Texas as we slowly expand our reach!
TITL: You’ve performed with/on tour with artists
included New Kids On The Block, but if you could put together your own
headline show with three of your favourite bands or artists, past or present,
who would you choose and where would you play?
dream line-up would be performing and touring with Linkin Park, Evanescence, In
this Moment, and System of A Down! I think it would be an absolutely ridiculous
and amazing show! With that said, I wouldn’t care where we did it, as long as
we were performing for people who wanted to hear us! Of course, I wouldn’t mind
Madison Square Garden or a Rock Festival or a hundred.
TITL: To what extent do you use and believe in
the power/pitfalls of social media? Do you think it’s a necessary tool for
artists today or, like most things, do you feel it’s potentially dangerous if
overused/used in the wrong way? Is it possible for artists to succeed without
In this day and age, it is absolutely essential to have some form of presence
online. Social media is integral in the lives of so many people on this earth,
so much so that, in many cases, exclusively how people interact, find music,
find social circles, and perform business. I am trying to navigate the
necessity of staying current with my social media accounts, while remaining
authentic as a person. I have had numerous people tell me I need to do things
differently because i do not have the appropriate amount of followers on one
social platform or another, and I can honestly say, I will never be that girl
who takes pictures while eating, I will not be changing my appearance to
sexualize my image unnaturally, and I will not make statements that do not
align with my values as a human being. I hope that I can hold to my
convictions, and continue to grow my fan base, solely representing myself and
my music, as naturally as I can.
TITL: Aside from your album release, what else
does this year have in store for you, and have you started looking towards 2020
and beyond yet?
am most certainly a planner, and I am always looking ahead to my next goal,
milestone, and ultimate goal. That being said, this year is a coin toss! As I
mentioned, this record is almost a decade in the making, and it is finally
ready to be shared with the world. That is a huge step for me. I will have to
take a good long moment after this release to assess myself and decide on my
next course of action, which will most certainly include more singles, some
collaborations, and performing as far as I can reach across this world!
TITL: Finally then, where do you want to see
yourself five years from now? What goals do you have for the years ahead and
what ultimately, would make you want and be able to say “I feel like I’ve
finally made it”?
This is a tough one. Today, in my current state, I am seeking stability and
consistency. I will always be pursuing music, there’s no getting around that! I
don’t think I have a definitive “I’ve made it” moment in mind past the vision
of me performing for hundreds of thousands of people who are there to
experience my performance and music. That has always been my career goal, to
make music my living, and reach the masses and enjoy the musical moment,
Check out Hanna’s latest single “Leave Your Light On” below and for more information on her, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. ‘Siren’ is out on August 16th.
Hailing from Moscow, Russia, I.L.Y.A. (I Leave You Amazed) isn’t exactly a stranger to the music industry. Having first started producing back in 2008, his debut release in 2014 “Talk To Me” and subsequent EP Music For You saw him gain considerable attention in his home country. Thinking and dreaming big, last year’s move to New York helped his creativity thrive and he’s since been championed by the likes of KALTBLUT Magazine, and seen his fan-base grow considerably.
released his new EP Hybrid earlier
this month, his star is undoubtedly on the rise and ThisIsTheLatest are delighted to premiere the video for his latest
single “Can’t Wait Forever.” Asked about why he chose the song for a release and
how the video ties in, I.L.Y.A. says:
my most dynamic song so far that will make you jump from your seat and start
doing right. A little push like what we all need sometimes. And these Bloomy
Californian shots will only emphasize that desire.”
Check out “Can’t Wait Forever” below and for more information on I.L.Y.A., visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter. His EP Hybrid is available now.