TALKING NEW MUSIC, SOCIAL MEDIA & ULTIMATE AMBITIONS WITH MAYA LAVELLE 0 34

With her album Hobo due out soon, 2019 is shaping up to be a big and important year in the career of Maya Lavelle. After first coming to notable attention after her debut single featured in a hugely popular TV series (read on to find out which), Lavelle’s career has gone from strength to strength. Prior to Hobo‘s release, and having just dropped the video for latest single “House On A Rocky Road”, Lavelle spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about her admiration of Tim Burton, her tour plans and her ultimate goal.

TITL: Who is Maya Lavelle in a few words?

Maya Lavelle: Maya Lavelle is a singer-songwriter and producer that conjures phantasmagorical sounds that turn our world into an enchanted forest with quirky eccentric characters.

TITL: What would you say sets you apart from other artists?

ML: My phantasmagorical style.

TITL: Which artists might you say you’re most inspired or influenced by and how to those influences filter into the music you make?

ML: Tim Burton, aesthetically, had a big influence on my music. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman struck the idea in my head that later developed into “House on a Rocky Road”. I love the paintings of the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, and the sculptures and buildings of Antoni Gaudi. Park Guell in Barcelona is probably one of my favourite places to go to. How I translate these impressions into music is not easy to explain. For everything I see, I kind of immediately have a sound in my head.

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?

ML: That’s a tough one. I can’t choose one song but I love “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush and “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles.

TITL: Your debut single “This Ain’t The End” was featured in the film The Rift but is perhaps more known for being used in an episode of hit show The Walking Dead. What impact did having the song featured have on your career/fanbase and how did the inclusion come about?

ML: Fans of the Walking Dead went crazy over it, feeling that the lyrics fit a pivotal and highly anticipated moment in the series perfectly. I denied the rumour but that didn’t stop the fan frenzy.

TITL: You held an intimate listening party for your new single “House On A Rocky Road” in London on February 3rd. How was that?

ML: That will actually happen on the 6th March – we decided to move the date.

TITL: Ah, okay. You’ve just released the video for the track, with the visuals inspired by Tim Burton and The Brothers Grimm. Can you talk me through the creative process for both the song and the video? Where did the ideas for them come from?

ML: The song was partially inspired by remarkable characters from my life which are my grandfather who was a man of style and honor, and my grandmother who is a character I really relate to. And the concept for the video was inspired by the lyrics of the song. I worked on this with director Tamara Kotevska who had so many great and creative ideas. I love Tim Burton and his dark and whimsical aesthetic. I think it fits perfectly with my music.

TITL: Your first full length album is due out soon. Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about it?

ML: Hobo is a conceptual album. The overall concept is an escape from boredom, inspired from my experiences while living in Amsterdam, Los Angeles and London. The characters I’m singing about in this album are lonely, searching for love and care, just like Hobo. They’re all coming from different dimensions to meet in the House on the Rocky Road which is in Darkwille County. Hobo is the only character who can travel through all the dimensions and he changes the light bulbs on the streets of the Universe.

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

ML: My favourite is “Zombie Town”. This song represents a post-apocalyptic future we are heading towards by neglecting the outcome of global warming and I wrote this out of great concern from current events that are taking place.

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

ML: Once my album is out in June I would like to tour in the US and Mexico.

TITL: 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?

ML: Big changes can bring both good and bad sides. What I like about social media is that is has opened up a two way conversation between artist and audience. The audience has a bigger part to play than ever before. Today the real value is actually in this interaction. This way I can communicate and approach each of my listeners as individuals, as a person and not only as a consumer of pop music.

TITL: Do you have any other plans or projects lined up for the coming months?

ML: We are currently editing the music video for my next single “Dancing with a Bottle”, which we shot in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

TITL: Finally then, what’s the ultimate goal for you as an artist? What one ambition do you most want to achieve and, along a similar path, looking much further down the line, what one thing would you most like people to say about you/remember you for in terms of your career and artistic legacy?

ML: The goal is to take people on a peculiar journey with my music where they can indulge in, and feel free from anything that’s holding them back. I hope I can bring and leave something genuinely new to music and provide musical elements that are challenging, original and exciting. I hope to create ideas that can powerfully move people.

Check out the video for “House On A Rocky Road” below and for more information on Maya Lavelle, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Header photo credit: Miljana Vukovic.

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INTRODUCING POP-ROCK & SOCIAL CAUSE SUPERSTARS GIRL POW-R 0 60

Already championed by the likes of Tiger Beat and Cashbox Magazine, Girl Pow-R are a girl-band with a difference. Aged from 10 to 17, this hugely talented sextet sing, dance, write their own music and more importantly, share a very important message – or several – with the world through their lyrics, many of which are aimed at women and young girls around the world encouraging and reminding them, among other things,that it’s absolutely okay to be themselves. With their debut album due out later this year, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with the girls to discuss musical influences, upcoming performances and their big career ambitions.

TITL: Please introduce yourselves if you would.

Kalista: Hi! I’m Kalista Wilson, I’m a 14 year old singer from Toronto, Ontario! I think as we’re growing more, we’re realizing that life isn’t just about having fun all day and having a good old time. We’ve realized that there are pressures and issues that everyone goes through, but nobody really talks about. I would say “keep doing you”. People are always going to bring you down, but it’s your job to ignore the haters and to love yourself no matter what.

Ava: We are Girl Pow-R! Girl Pow-R is an all-girl pop rock group from ages 10 to 17 who are out to inspire all youth around the world to pursue anything that they are passionate about, and to never give up. Each girl in Girl Pow-R has a social cause such as: mental health awareness, youth homelessness, better education, and children’s hospitals. Girl Pow-R strives to be a role model, not just for girls, but all young people, and we want everyone to know that as long as you believe in yourself and your dreams, anything is possible.

TITL: How did you all come together and what would you say you each bring to the band?

Krisalyn: We came together through rounds of auditions. I would say all of the girls have great personalities and tons of talent that we each bring to the band, because we are all so different and unique!

Bella: We are a group of girls from different backgrounds. I would say many like studio recording. There’s the excitement of new material, and assigning solos, and performing as a team. We work well as a team, so we manage to take on the task at hand with speed and accuracy. Some of the girls are stage-oriented, loving the instant feedback and the gratification that comes from live performing.

TITL: What made you feel that Girl Pow-R was a fitting group name?

Milana: Girl Pow-R is a fitting group name because girls are at times taken advantage of and are not taken seriously.  It’s important for girls to know that they have the power and strength to achieve anything they put their minds towards.

Carina: I feel that Girl Pow-R is a fitting name for our band because we are a strong group of girls who want to empower not only girls, but youth all over the world. We want to inspire others through the lyrics in our songs, and through the messages in our social causes.

TITL: Which bands and artists are you each most inspired and influenced by and how do those influences impact the music you make?

Kalista: Our music is inspired by Taylor Swift, Spice Girls, Little Mix and many other girl bands and solo artists.

A: A band that inspires us that we look up to are the Spice Girls because they are also all about spreading girl power and making girls feel powerful, strong and confident with themselves.

TITL: It could be argued that over the years, the music industry has often largely favoured male groups and artists, however in the last few years, the likes of Little Mix have shown that female groups can and do have the impact and staying power of their male counterparts. How important and significant has seeing the likes of LM succeed on the scale that they have since forming been to you as you look to your own futures and how far you want to go?

Krisalyn: We one day hope to be like Little Mix, but we are still young. We work super hard so that one day we can be like them! Seeing their success makes us believe that anything is possible!

B: Girl Pow-R’s sound is uplifting, confident, captivating. Our job as a group is to inspire our generation to better themselves, become role models in their respective communities, and promote positivity through our music and social causes. And it’s important for girls and women to lead the way in this area. Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change: Michael Jackson.

TITL: You were nominated in the Best New Group category at the Niagara Music Awards last year. How did it feel to be nominated and what do you feel your chances are in terms of winning this year?

C: It’s such a pleasure and an honor for us to have been nominated for Best New Group at the Niagara Music Awards. This was such a great opportunity and we were also super thankful that we got to perform two of our original songs during the awards ceremony. This was a great reminder to us that hard work will get you far! Hoping for another chance in 2019!

M: Being nominated for the Niagara Music Awards was such an honour and an amazing feeling as I also live in Niagara Falls, therefore representing my region was important to me.  I believe we were nominated because our song “Krisi” has a great message and many young people, girls and boys, can relate to the song. Also, the members of Girl Pow-R are so talented with singing, dancing and playing instruments, it made the judges and voters interested in our band and the potential we have to offer in the music industry.

TITL: Do you care much about accolades and nominations or are you more generally concerned about what your fans think on a wider, grander scale?

Kalista: I’d rather have a following that listens to all of our songs and watches all of our music videos, awards could then follow.

Krisalyn: Probably both because it’s amazing to be nominated for awards, but it’s also amazing having awesome fans to connect with and who love following our journey!

A: I think we care mostly about our fans, of course, because they are what brought us here, and they are who listen to our music and watch our videos. We want to continue to make music for them to enjoy, as well as to perform and entertain them.

TITL: All of your 2018 releases surpassed 191,000 plays and streams on the likes of YouTube and Spotify. To what extent have sites like that, and social media in general, impacted your career and do you believe you’d have the support and following you do without them?

Krisalyn: I feel like nowadays social media is a big help and it really gets our name out there! I myself pay most attention to my Instagram account, but as a band we are on many different social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Musical.ly, Twitter and YouTube. Anytime a fan messages me, I always respond back as soon as I can, and I appreciate all comments, as I know the other band members do as well. We all try to message and speak with our fans and meet them/take pictures, especially at live shows. We appreciate the support and it means a lot to us

B: In today’s age, social media and music streaming services are very important to help us spread our message. Girl Pow-R is unique in its presentation of popular music, along with a deep sense of responsibility to support social causes in society. The determination that our band members have to spread the word about empowering girls and women to better themselves, and being charitable, is exceptional. By doing so, the boys and men in society see what is important to us and how we can best work together to support each other and have common goals of peace, harmony, equality and humanity.

TITL: You were also named the Canadian Ambassadors for the 2018 Toronto Youth Day – what did and does that mean to you? How important is it that you can use your careers and the platform you have to benefit the wider community/world around you?

C: Youth Day 2018 was so much fun! We had an amazing time performing as Featured Artists and talking about each of our social causes as Canadian Ambassadors. It is very important to us that we can use our careers and songs as a platform with opportunities like Youth Day, to promote positive messages and give young audiences a good role model to look up to.  It is also super awesome that we can empower others while singing and dancing, which is what we do best!

M: Being named Canadian Ambassadors for the 2018 Toronto Youth Day was such a great honor. Singing and performing is something that I love doing, so being able to do all of that and being role models for the youth in our community, and the world, just makes it even better and more gratifying. Music is a universal language and knowing that we are affecting the youth all over the world makes me want to perform and share our music even more!

TITL: Are there any tour/performance plans coming up you can tell me about?

Kalista: We always have a lot on the go and shows to perform. Definitely check out our website for times and locations!

A: We have a huge, Toronto-area competition beginning on the 8th of February where we compete against bands from all over Ontario, in all genres, so stay tuned!

TITL: What do you have planned for the year ahead?

Krisalyn: Our first album is coming out this year! We’ve already released a bunch of songs, but 2019 should be filled with more performances, covers, and more originals!

B: We started our originals with two songs: “Krisi” and “Stronger Than Yesterday”. “Stronger Than Yesterday” has similarities to our first single “Krisi” in that it addresses challenges girls face in everyday life. Through our music we try to give direction and support to empower girls to better themselves. “Krisi” is about rising above bullying, whereas “Stronger Than Yesterday” is a personal journey to find the strength and confidence to overcome challenges, while recognizing it can be an arduous journey, but progress is made by being stronger than yesterday. We’re looking forward to launching our first album early this year with even more originals!

TITL: Finally then, despite being a fairly new band, it’s evident you’re very ambitious and determined to succeed, so with that in mind, where would you like to see yourselves 5 years from now and looking further ahead, whose career would you most like to emulate? At what point would you be able to look at each other and say: “We made it girls”?

M: In five years from now, I would love to see our band being known nationwide in Canada and, if dreams come true, I would love to have the career and impact that the Spice Girls had on young girls in the 90’s. They had the same message as we do today. Girls can achieve anything if we believe in the power to do it. I can’t wait for that feeling of gratification in knowing that we made it in the music business when, we get that blue checkmark on Instagram, when I need to wear sunglasses out in public, and selling out our concerts. Most of all it would be an even greater feeling to receive messages from our fans telling us how our songs changed their lives and gave them the ‘Girl Pow-R’ to succeed.

C: With hard work and dedication, I believe that we can emulate a career like the Spice Girls or Little Mix. Within the next 5 years, I see us touring internationally and spreading our messages through music to those all around the world. When we have touched the lives of young people, and positively impacted kids all over the world, then we can say that we’ve made it. We are not driven by fame or success, but by how we influence youth.

Check out Girl Pow-R’s new single “Never Let Go” below and for more information on the band, visit their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

SOPHIE ANN UNVEILS HER UPBEAT & CATCHY NEW SINGLE “READ MY MIND” 0 114

Following on from the release of her self-love anthem “Flawless” towards the end of last year, Sophie Ann is continuing to speak out, write and sing about mental health issues – issues that affect millions not just here in the UK, but around the world – in an open and honest way in an effort to remind those who hear her music that they are not and never alone in what they are going through.

Her latest track “Read My Mind” is an upbeat, pop-funk banger that looks at the anxiety that often goes with and can come with getting in your own head. In her own words, Sophie says:

“Read My Mind is about when you have a crush on someone and create their personality and your entire future relationship in your head, and when you daydream about someone you don’t even know. I was in this headspace before I went into the writing session where we wrote Read My Mind, and I thought it was such a funny concept. It’s something that’s embarrassing to admit, but we all do it.”

Check out “Read My Mind” below and to keep up to date with Sophie Ann, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.