TALKING NEW MUSIC, SOCIAL MEDIA & ULTIMATE AMBITIONS WITH MAYA LAVELLE 0 159

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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LINDSAY ELL TALKS TOURING, NEW MUSIC & SONGWRITING INSPIRATION 0 63

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 76

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.