Irene Skylakaki

Share your life story with us. 

I’m a singer-songwriter from Athens. I studied law but realized that that’s not what I want to do in my life. I resigned and moved to London to fully pursue music. I met Danton Supple (Coldplay, Ian Brown, Morrissey) who produced my new album which will be released later this year.
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Share your press release. 

‘Planet’ is both the title track and debut UK release by singer-songwriter Irene Skylakaki, recorded in her adopted home of London. Produced by Danton Supple (Morrissey, The XX, Elbow, Suede), it’s an assured collection of songs that have a clear musical identity, with a sound that is reminiscent of Laura Marling, Feist, FKA Twigs and Marika Hackman. Irene fills ‘Planet’ with a mix of musings on love and disillusionment.

Born in Greece, Irene studied in London before moving back to Athens to pursue music full time – an endeavour that led to her releasing two critically acclaimed albums in her native country. She has also supported such artists as diverse as Macy Gray, Jessie Ware, Beirut, Daughter, and Cass McCombs.

After returning to the Capital, Irene forged her path onwards through serendipitous circumstances – she met Lola Marlin (Director of Sarm Studios), who introduced her to producer Danton Supple, while trying to retrieve a lost dog in Maida Vale. This meeting led Irene to writing an album’s worth of material within two weeks, containing the songs which form ‘Planet’.

This intensive period of writing and the existential introspection stemming from it lies at the heart of the EP’s sound and message. On the melodic and rhythmically tumbling ‘Planet’, Irene sings “Is there some other type of planet I could land on, different values to rely on ‘cause I’ve been turning into someone I am not”.

With her live band, consisting of Irene on guitar and vocals, Tryfon Koutsourelis on keyboards, and alternating drummers Richard Jupp (Elbow) and Sebastian Hankins (The Leisure Society) (who all feature on the EP), she will perform tracks from ‘Planet’ when she headlines The Islington in London on February 22nd.

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/IreneSkylakaki/

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/ireneskylakaki/

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List the names of those that have assisted you so far in your music career and use this opportunity to thank them. 

Thank you Danton Supple, Evripidis Zemenidis. Kelly Sayer, Lola Marlin, Fraser Ealey, Daniel Smith, Brooklin, for all your help and encouragement.
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Narrate your experience while recording in the studio or while touring. 
Recording with Danton was a magical experience. He’s a brilliant producer and just observing him work was a blessing.
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Go into detail about your songwriting process. 

I usually grab my guitar, a glass of wine and songs come in my mind.
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Brief us on what you have on the way for your fans out there. 
I’m releasing my first UK EP on March 16 which will be followed by a full album release later this year. My next gig is on the 22nd of February at the Islington. Come down.

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Tell us what you are doing to increase your fan base. 
I play as many gigs as I can.

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Tell us that point in time that you just feel like giving up on your music career. 
It hasn’t come and never will. Music is what drives me and sustains me.
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Go into detail on how you make your instrumentation or melody. 
It’s a very effortless process. It comes naturally. If it doesn’t I don’t push it and wait for the inspiration to come to me.

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Tell us your complete understanding of music licensing. 
You give your songs to soundtracks and ads. It’s the way forward as it gives artists a lot of exposure.

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Tell us the best way to get in touch with you on social media. 

Send me a message! I try to respond to everything.
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Give us the links to your various stores. 

 http://smarturl.it/IrenePlanet

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Tell us your favourite genre of music. 
Alternative Folk.
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Tell us the subject matter of most of your songs. 
Heartbreak.

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Tell us all we need to know about this song.
Is there some other type of planets I could land on?

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Tell us what you think about digital distribution and streaming. 
They have made life easier for a lot of rising musicians who want to get heard but on the flip side no one buys CDs anymore. (Apart from me).
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Tell us various ways that artists can boost their revenue. 
Sync deals, and playing live.
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Tell us your thought on self-training and going to educational institution to study music. 
I think self-training is more important. Especially for songwriters. If you want to be a virtuoso instrumentalist however I’m sure studying and attending organized classes is super helpful.

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Go on at length on what it takes to write a hit song. 
A great verse and an exceptionally incredible chorus.

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State the official date of release. 

My EP planet will be released on March 16.
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State your artist’s name and elaborate on it. 
Irene Skylakaki. Just my name! Not the easiest one to pronounce I admit…
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State the title of the song and the meaning. 
‘Planet’. It refers to another ‘Planet’, a planet I often dream about where money and power are not the driving forces. I’m a hippie at heart.

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State the title of the album and the reason for picking the title. 

‘Matterless’. It’s the name of one of the tracks in the album. And I really like this word as it has different meanings, it could mean ‘meaningless’ or without substance, ‘ghostly’.

Frances Leone

Discuss your personality.

I am very social, easygoing, lively, energetic and creative. I love music, my friends, sporty activities and traveling!

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Brief us about you as a musician.

I learnt to read music at age 4, as my mum put me in recorder lessons. That’s where my music world first started. I now write, record and produce all my own music, and I also love to collaborate.

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Go into details on what has changed in your life for choosing music as a career.

I don’t have a 9-5pm job, I am a self-employed Freelancer. I enjoy every job I do!

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Tell us the benefits and drawbacks of choosing music as a career.

I get to do what I love everyday – creating music, practicing it, and performing and sharing it. I get to meet new people that I work with. The drawbacks for me are organizing events and such, like making sure all my social media is up to date too. I try not to work only from home too much, because being stuck in one place too long can be demotivating, so I enjoy traveling elsewhere for a meeting, collaboration, or tutoring/teaching etc.

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Tell us how you will manage fame as an established artist.

I’m not sure, I haven’t thought that far yet, I am just concentrating on working hard on the music where I am at the moment! I would like to inspire people to do what they love.

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Elaborate on the story line of this song.

Haha, it’s quite dark… This song addresses domestic abuse disguised in a much lighter metaphor, so that people can enjoy it at whatever level they choose. I wrote it about a girl suffering in a relationship, dealing with an unpredictable partner. She goes running in the forest to exercise and that is her mental outlet. It escalates and one day it gets too much, and instead of him nearly killing her, like usual, she turns it around and gains her control back. But, due to heightened emotions in that moment that have been building up the entire relationship, she goes too far and “takes away his oxygen” at the end. It is then that you realize she has actually been running away from the scene the whole song. It is up to the listener whether it is justified self-defense or not.

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Tell us means of connecting you and purchasing your music online.

I am on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SoundCloud! I am most active on Facebook “Frances Leone Music” and Instagram @francesleone1 so connect with me there! My music is also available on Spotify, ITunes and YouTube.

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Let us know the greatest moment of your music career.

My upcoming debut EP launch on March 13th in London will be the greatest! I will be show casing my first set of original work all together!

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Tell us the highest amount of money you have ever received from your music career and how it happened.

It will be in the future… haha. I am a freelance Vocal Coach and songwriting tutor, so probably from that at the moment. Other than that, when I was 17 I performed in an opera and I got paid £100 which was big money for me at the time…

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Discuss your experience pertaining live performances, gigs, shows and tours.

I love performing live, and sharing inspiring music and experiences with people. I currently perform in London about once a month.

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Tell us how you relate with your fans.

Through the music… and after gigs, talking about theirs and my musical journeys. Also through social media on Facebook and Instagram.

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Tell us what you will like to change if you have the chance to turn back the hands of time.

Oh god… probably to learn the guitar as a young teenager. I think it would have helped me to be able to perform gigs more easily without needing a guitarist. Although maybe I wouldn’t have become so involved in production if I played guitar… so it’s a hard choice.

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Tell us the most important people that have boosted your music career and how you met them.

Obviously my family, and friends, and university professors have helped enormously! Since moving to London, I met a contact through a friend of a friend of my Dad’s, who has been in the music industry a lot longer than me, and he is a constant helper and advisor with everything, especially my EP launch and everything! I definitely would not be where I am now without him.

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Brief us on what you have in mind before considering music as a career.

Before I decided to study music at university, I considered studying Geography, because I love the outdoors and nature.

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Discuss your good and bad experience in life.

Gosh, that’s a hard one! Moving to London on my own last year was exciting, difficult, but so worth it!

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Name the artists that have influenced the world.

My world? Halsey, Lorde, Amy MacDonald, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, Of Monsters and Men… the list goes on.

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Tell us about your moment of rejections as a musician and how you are able to cope and move on.

I just remind myself of the positives, and if something isn’t “good enough” for someone, then all I have to do is learn, and improve next time. Or if it’s stylistic then I can decide to choose my own path.

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Tell us the most negative comment you have ever received about your music.

I haven’t had that much negative stuff… more just feedback from some musicians on the quality of the mixing or production, or sometimes that the melody could be more developed.

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Elaborate on the recording process of this song.

I record all my vocals in my room on my Rhode NT-1A mic. I just make sure I have put a lot of sound padding around the room. I got a friend to record the guitar part, and the rest of the instruments are midi sounds.

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State the official date of release.

Friday 9th February 2018.

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State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.

Frances Leone – These are my first and middle birth names. I like my first name as it’s fairly unique in the music world, and my middle name I never got to use in real life so I wanted to use it. It also sounds better and catchier than my real last name.

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State the title of the song and the meaning.

“Oxygen”. This song used to be called “Running”, because the character is running away from her problems, and uses exercise as a way to get her mind of things. But then as the song was recorded and produced and I heard it back, I thought “Oxygen” stood out a lot more. It’s meaningful because she is metaphorically and physically fighting for oxygen in her life; metaphorically fighting for control of her life; and physically fighting when exercising, and when her ‘ex’ was being abusive.

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State the title of the album and the reason for picking the title.

“Playing With Fire”, I got the idea of this title from a photoshoot I did with a friend, where she edited the photo so I looked like a ‘dragon queen’ blowing fire from the palm of my hand. I felt really inspired by it, and felt it reflects the play or interaction with different levels of power in our everyday lives, and in my songs on the EP. They swap between an underdog fighting for more power, and someone exerting too much power over others. I find human psychology intriguing haha.

francesleone.com

facebook.com/francesleone1

soundcloud.com/francesleone

instagram.com/francesleone1

twitter.com/Frances_Leone

Sebastian Hex

Share your life story with us.
I grew up being highly creative, with film as my main passion. When college came around I thought I needed to do something “practical” so I decided to study finance, and ended up working for a global bank on Wall Street. I excelled in the field but felt empty; it wasn’t until a trip to Miami in 2017 that shook things up again. I saw Oliver Heldens live – it was an outdoor set in the pouring rain. The music, the lights, the rain, and the crowd’s energy reminded me of a feeling that I hadn’t felt since I started doing banking. I felt alive again. Since then, I knew I wanted to produce music and recreate that feeling every time.

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List the names of those that have assisted you so far in your music career and use this opportunity to thank them.
Definitely want to start out by thanking Jake and Tim for helping me majorly in getting the vocal part of this song done. Also my amazing friends Andisi, RK, and Patrick for helping me with taking photos, giving song feedback, and just overall creativity advice, Antonio and Azad for being early listeners of the song, and also Dielan, Carlos, Burak, Justin, and a bunch of other friends that I’ve met online that have been supporting a lot continously!

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Narrate your experience while recording in the studio or while touring.
Since I have a full time job, most of the work I put in for this song was done at odd hours at weird places. My friends have given me weird looks for being in a corner at the bar with my phone’s speaker to my ear because an idea came to me for the song, and I’m trying to think of how it would go with what I had made so far.

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Go into detail about your songwriting process.
Hooks and melodies often come to me randomly, sometimes with words already and sometimes without. As I tend to forget them very easily I always try to record them as a voice memo on my phone as soon as I can, and then build on them later if I still like them. When “Dark Side of the Moon” came to me it was just that specific line and melody that you hear in the final version “Welcome to the dark side, the side you never see.” I was in the office then and had to quickly run to an empty room for 10 seconds to record it before I could forget.

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Brief us on what you have on the way for your fans out there.
As “Dark Side of the Moon” is my first song, I am still exploring different sounds and they can expect something different next time – I’m aiming for a more upbeat song. I am also working on my YouTube channel which will give a closer look into my music and my life in general. They can expect more music and more videos!

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Tell us what you are doing to increase your fan base.
This is really interesting to me because even before I started doing music, social media marketing has always intrigued me. I study the science and psychology behind it as much as I can to help me increase my reach especially since I am currently my own team.

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Tell us that point in time that you just feel like giving up on your music career.
Fortunately I haven’t reached that point yet.

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Go into detail on how you make your instrumentation or melody.
It depends on whether or not I already have an existing melody or hook in mind, or if I am starting from scratch. For “Dark Side of the Moon” every instrument you hear was made virtually, but in the future I plan to start using sounds recorded externally. As for the melody, I look at what key I want the song to be in and see which notes I can work with. I hum most of it before playing on a keyboard or my laptop because they come more naturally to me that way.

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Tell us the best way to get in touch with you on social media.
The best way would be through Instagram @SebastianHex as I am the most active there, although I also have a Twitter under the same handle. In a few days I will also start using my YouTube channel “SebastianHexMusic” to give others a closer look into my music and my life in general. If you’re more of a mailing list guy, then www.sebastianhex.com is the way to go!

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Give us the links to your various stores.
iTunes

https://goo.gl/rN1d75

Amazon

https://goo.gl/gq8qrc

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Tell us your favourite genre of music.
I honestly mean it when I say that it all depends on my mood. My Spotify playlist can go from Marty Robbins, to Duke Dumont, to Taylor Swift, then to The Exies in a span of 4 songs.

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Tell us the subject matter of most of your songs.
Funny you ask that. Although I’ve only released “Dark Side of the Moon,” I noticed that a lot of the songs I write have lyrics that are a bit dark, so much so that I wrote a song about how I always write dark songs. I’m working on writing happier songs, though!

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Tell us all we need to know about this song.
The inspiration for “Dark Side of the Moon” came when I was in the office, when a coworker got me quite upset about something. I walked away from the situation, but I thought about it and realized that they’ve never really seen me mad before because I almost always can keep my cool. So, me being upset is the side of me they never see – kind of like the “dark side” of the moon because we’re always facing one side of it.

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Tell us what you think about digital distribution and streaming.
I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand it’s absolutely amazing because artists can distribute their music independently while consumers can access music more easily than ever, and don’t have to rely on piracy anymore. But at the same time everyone in the industry knows how laughable the payout is for streams, so while it has a lot of benefits there is still a lot of work to be done.

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Tell us various ways that artists can boost their revenue.
Artists, especially independent ones, need to understand the value of building their brand and understanding how social media works. Although in some rare cases it can happen, making the best music possible and hoping for the best is no longer going to cut it if you want to become even remotely successful in today’s environment.

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Tell us your thought on self-training and going to educational institution to study music.
I think every artist should take time to teach themselves whether or not they decide to supplement that with formal education. If you have the budget, there’s nothing wrong with going to school for it. I personally am self-taught.

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Go on at length on what it takes to write a hit song.
I’ll let you know once I have a hit song!

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State the official date of release.
“Dark Side of the Moon” was released on February 10, 2018.

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State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
Sebastian Hex is my artist name – I made a list of names but this one just stuck with me. I wish it had a deeper meaning… but it really doesn’t. I just like it.

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State the title of the song and the meaning.
“Dark Side of the Moon” is about human complexities – more specifically the side of us that we don’t show other people. It’s like the “dark side” of the moon, or the side you never see.

The States

Tell us what you know about royalties and how to get paid.

We’re not exactly sure how it works exactly. All we know is if we have our songs registered with the right organizations and we distribute through a reputable source we’ll get paid for album sales and streams on Pandora, Spotify and iTunes etc. We currently do all our distribution through ReverbNation and it gives us full details of everything we make through sales and streaming. It’s a really useful tool and we’d recommend it to any band.

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Brief us on how to impress fans during a live performance.

Be honest. Be energetic. The more connections and energy you can create with the audience, the more into it they become! Also, standing on things helps haha.

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List the names of your biggest supporters.

Mitch and Sarah from Shows I Go To.

Marshal Rones from foundation presents and Montgomery Drive.

Our manager Chris!

Adam and David at Pioneer Sounds Studio.

Nick from the old school project.

And a lot of our close friends and family of course.

Also got to shout out Scarlett, Kennedy and our number 1 fan Jordan who we tragically lost last year. RIP ❤

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Discuss what motivated you so far in your music career.

We’re motivated by our fans and friends we’ve met through our journey so far. And excited by the musical connections and relationships we build along the way.

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Go into detail about your experiences as an artist.

Our experience has been great so far. We’re not interested in the politics of the business, just the community that music creates. Every show we’ve played, every show we’ve we watched. We strive to make the connections and help the community flourish.

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Tell us the greatest mistake you’ve made in your music career.

Not having enough merch!

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Discuss the story behind the song.

“Wilder Things” is about the internal struggle to fight the mundane and that you should never stifle your persona, no matter who you are with or where you live. Be you no matter what.

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Discuss how to fund a music project.

We’ve been blessed with some amazing fans. Working fulltime jobs and having amazing and VERY understanding partners haha. But we also have used crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter to fund our EP. We set up some perks for people to pre order our EP, like special 1 off merch and signed copies of the EP and t-shirts as incentives for people to help get the funding for the studio and mastering process. It’s about putting in the work; making yourself marketable as well as just being good at music.

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Discuss your opinion on the safety of fans during live shows and performances.

We played the Social in Orlando the night of the Pulse Nightclub shootings.  Literally just a couple blocks away.  We had gathered earlier that night with a heavy heart, still reeling from Chritine Grimmie’s untimely passing the night before at the hands of another gunman.

We had finished loading out at roughly around 1 a.m and we were hanging out chatting with other bands and fans that were going between venues all around the area including the Pulse.  Just the typical Saturday night in Downtown Orlando.  Then we left to head to a friend’s house on the outskirts of the city to chill and unwind passing the pulse. We learned as the news broke that it had happened 5-10 minutes after we left Downtown.

Since then we’ve been vocal advocates of safer shows. We feel that live music shows are a refuge for people to get away from their day-to-day lives. People should ALWAYS be able to feel at their safest when at a show! So yeah, we believe fan safety should forever be of the utmost importance.

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Tell us the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever been given as an artist.

Probably our manager Chris’ motto “If you’re not in? You can’t win.” Metaphors aside, with our music and putting ourselves out there. If you don’t play the lottery you can’t win it. We apply that to our music. The worst that anyone can ever say is no. Dust yourself off and move on to the next opportunity.

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Tell us what you would like to improve or change about your music.

We’re constantly evolving as a band. We always find new inspirations and are adding new and different textures to our music. If you are not evolving you’re not progressing. Always be willing to push the boundaries of whatever style of music you play.

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Discuss vocal training and how you protect your vocal.

Two words. THROAT COAT!

It’s a lifesaver for sure. I was never classically trained in any way; well I was in choir as kid if that counts? I used to try and mimic my favorite artists (I do a mean Bob Dylan impression). Now I rely on some vocal warm up techniques I’ve picked up here and there and of course Throat Coat!

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Tell us how you manage your team to make things work out.

We’re a pretty democratic band in that sense. We each have our roles to fill on the business side of things as well as the musical side. We always make sure everyone has their say and it can be the hardest part about the band but it’s so worth it.

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Discuss your best mood during performance.

It differs from gig to gig obviously but we always make sure that we can stay fun and energetic. That’s pretty easy with this group of guys!

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List the best artists of all time with reasons.

The greats like Springsteen, Dylan, U2, Coltrane, Freddie Mercury etc. They are all both great musicians and songwriters. They’re master of getting you to connect with a particular emotion with their songs.

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Tell us all we need to know about you.

Tacos, Trail mix and Tears. Or the 3 T’s if you will.

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Give us links to connect to you and buy your music.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cathedral-ep/1270676167?app=music&ign-itsct=1270676167-1270676167&ign-itscg=0177&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5sCNfeyojFFlFmWtNNRRRv

www.wearethestates.com

@wearethestates across IG, Twitter, Facebook etc.

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Tell us the greatest problem you think is facing society and the solution.

Simple. Too much hate and not enough LOVE.

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Discuss your songwriting and recording process.

Songs are usually born from a riff or a lyric; one of us comes up with. We all have input on it and it evolves from there. As far as recording, we tend to test our songs out in the live setting to gauge the vibe from the reaction and take to the studio to fine tune it for recording. We’re actually starting work on our full length album in March and we’ve just started work on the demos of the new tracks. We’re super excited for this new direction!

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State the official date of release.

July 28th 2017.

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State your artists name and elaborate on it.

The States. We like it because we could build a community behind our music. That’s why we went with WE ARE THE STATES as a motto, because we view The States as not just the band, but our whole team and our fans too.

Also, it’s NOT anything to do with “United States” other than we are obviously from America. Though some people believe it is. It’s whatever people want it to be. We like the idea of the diversity that each State brings to make the whole. That describes us well musically. Very diverse.

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State the title of the song and the meaning.

“Wilder Things”. It’s about coming to terms with being wild in your youth.

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State the title of your album/EP and your reason for picking the title.

The EP is called “Cathedral”. We picked that because that’s what this music is for us. A Cathedral.

Gino Baronelli – The Blues Don

State your reason for choosing music as a career.

You could say it chose me. There was always music in the home, and, the next door neighbor had a house full of Blues records. I started performing at six on street corners, with friends. From the time I was thirteen, it was all about the Blues. Although, I always had a band, I had to choose other ways to supplement my income. Now, I’m retired and music is the prime factor in my life.

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Tell us how you write the lyrics to your song.

My lyrics primarily start from concepts about life experiences and daily events that get my attention. I write notes 24/7 and keep them until a concept comes along that they can fit into.

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Share your press release and reviews with us.

“VERY good music. Nice Blues Fusion. BTW, your voice sounds similar to Johnny Cash, but stronger and more dynamic!!” – JS /AT.

“Tight and shiny Blues!”  – J.F.S.

“Very cool groove and tone!! much success!!” –  F.

“Great top notch Blues band. Thanks for the music.” – AKOK.

“Fantastic Blues, Don Gino. I can’t wait for the next CD.” – SOS.

“The Blues Don plays some mean Blues! Loving it.” – TTB / AHP.

“Love it man, I am hoping I get to catch one of your shows soon, Looks like you have some gigs not too far away. I’ll say Hi when I get there – good tunes.” NC.

“Cheers!!! Success!!!” BSF.

“Some music is too beautiful to be human. You are an example of how beautiful the Blues can be. Thank you.” MRP.

 ” ..wonderful Chicago-blues inspired track ‘Crazy Woman’ … makes me want to put on a fedora and some black Ray Bans and get down.”  – Nat Allister, Fox & Beggar Theater, Inc

“Blues You Can’t Refuse” Sounds great. Rhythm section is good. The guitar solos are fresh. The horns add a nice touch. The background vocals are great. But whatever you paid Deacon Jones you better triple it. Deacon’s performance was off the hook. By the way Deborah heard some of the CD and she likes it as well. If she likes it you done real good!!! You have a product that will sell. The rest of you folks out there need to check this music out”. –  CMJ’s Blog.

“I’ve listened to the tracks of a new Album by Gino Baronelli, the Blues Don, entitled “Blues You Can’t Refuse”. A word on the guitar sound: The guitar’s tone is EXCELLENT. It’s thick, creamy, and crunchy, the way Blues guitar is supposed to sound on record. Overall the record is what a good Blues record is supposed to be. To Gino, and his band (the Capos): you should be very proud of the work you did on this project.”  Tyler’s Blog.

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Tell us about your life outside the music world.

Over my life, I’ve worked in a restaurant, a movie house, at a bank, a couple electronic manufacturing companies, and ran a software company. I raised children while playing my music and working. My second spouse is a semi-professional bowler – I bowl with her for comic relief – and my biggest support. Today, there’s very little in my life that doesn’t have to do with music.

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Brief us about your music career.

I sang impromptu do-wops on the street corners of South Philadelphia from the time I was six ‘til I was ten (when the family moved to Los Angeles). It was in L.A. that I met a man who lived next door who introduced me to the Blues. From the time I was thirteen to late in my twenties, I was in Blues oriented bands all over the L.A. area. I moved my immediate family to the SF Bay area where I became involved in the Oakland Blues scene, as a sideman for many of the local (and, when they came town, national and international) headliners. Among them was Mr. John Lee Hooker. Today, I front my own band and play shows for anyone who’ll book the band.

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Elaborate on how you come about your artist’s name.

Gino is a nickname, not my birth name; Baronelli is a family name. The “Blues Don” moniker was started by a Harmonica playing Band Leader of mine named Red Archibald, who heard some friends calling me “Don Gino”. Mr. John Lee Hooker had trouble pronouncing my last name and made the moniker official.

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List your five favourite music videos with reasons.

Very few professional music videos interest me. Most seem to be extremely vague about what subject is being presented and others seem to be selling sex and not the music.

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Tell us your source of inspiration.

I take inspiration from everyday life events, old stories, conversations I have with people and the occasional music-oriented movie that has a good premise and vehicles for such inspiration.

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Tell us your impression on dealing with paparazzi.

I’m a ham and a showman. So, I embrace the fans, the photographers and anyone else who’s interested enough in my music to want to interact, take pics, want autographs in strange places, etc. I thrive on it.

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Elaborate on the A-Z process of this song.

All of my songs are based on true life events or concepts of human interaction. I don’t have a fixed process for writing/composing. I tend to start with a concept, develop a lyric and compose a melody around the lyric. I leave the task open for editing and re-editing both the lyric and the composition – sometimes many times – before I’m finally ready to cut the song.

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Tell us what you have on the way for your fans.

We’re performing at the Russell City Blues Festival (Hayward, CA) and New Blues Festival (Long Beach, CA) this year. We’ve also submitted to Sturgis, which we’d love, but they haven’t chosen us yet. We’re finishing another CD and have a third in the works. Once the finances are secured, they can be recorded and released. We have a benefit coming up, on March 17, in Ventura, CA, for the still displaced victims of the Thomas fire. We’re booking local, national and international shows, as they become available.

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List the names of those that have supported you so far.

  • The Capos (Jeremy “Wolf” Danks, Harmonica; Flip Seldes, Bass; Ivor Wiener, Drums; Melvin “Deacon” Jones (R.I.P.), Hammond B-3 and Gary James, Saxophone). Current members: Bob Conti and Randy Merin.

  • The Associates:  [Al Walker, Sax; Gary Bivona, Trumpet and George Pandis, Trumpet (on Crazy Woman, Take My Blues To Town, Hey Lil’ Mama, Chicken, My Good Woman)];

  • The Backup: [Bobby Henley III and Frank Siciliano (on Crazy Women, Take My Blues To Town, Hey Lil’ Mama, Chicken)];

  • The Guitar Enforcer: Phil Gates (on Take My Blues To Town and Chicken);

  • The Harmonica: Little Barry G (on Police In Centerville);

  • The Co-Producer/Engineer: Chuck Kavooras, Slideaway Studios, Shadow Hills, CA;

  • The Mastering: Channel Fuse Media;

  • The Manager, (Roadie, Support, Frustration Calmer, Bookie, etc.): Elizabeth Silverman.

Musicians who have given a little extra: Dennis Jones, Brian Batchley, Mark Sells, Burnett Watson, Coo Moe Jee, JT Doublet, Dave Hale.

AND, that small group of fans that have supported the music and are always there to help get the word out when needed.

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Tell us your opinion on the use of auto-tune.

I like natural vocals. The nuances and natural variances of the voice provide a dynamic that you can’t get otherwise. That said; the singer has to have the talent to be able to sing in key.

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Tell us your opinion on quality and quantity in terms of releasing songs.

MY current CD was recorded in analog onto two-inch tape and Red Book Mixed. When you listen to the record, it has depth and dimension – you can hear every voice and instrument. Even with the great stuff you can do with digital, most of the finished products are flat, with very few exceptions. I was told by my co-producer, that people can only tolerate forty five minutes of music. I kept my album around that number – ten songs.

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Tell us your opinion on comparing music career to non-music career.

To me, anything I did, any work I did, and any so-called career I may have had outside of music was only a means to an end.

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Tell us your opinion on categorizing music into genres and sub-genres.

I think the sub genres are important as long as they aren’t niche oriented or too specific. Many of today’s promoters seem to encourage mixing genres and it makes it very difficult to put labels on the music. I have one such person tell me my music all sounded like Blues and was difficult to book. He’s out there promoting acts that are a mixed bag of five or six different genres and have no home.

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State the genre you hate most with reason.

Rap. I liked early Hip Hop. Some of the performers were real and actually had poetic value. The current stuff is just jive, bad rhyme, repetitive, regurgitative and has no artistic value.

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List your five favorite movies with reasons.

Honeydripper – Great statement about the Blues business. Exceptional acting and musicianship.

Godfather; All – Have always been fascinated with the ‘family’ experience.

Good Fellas – Have always been fascinated with the ‘family’ experience.

Blues Brothers; both – Crazy movies, but the cameos were the attraction.

Paris Blues – An old one with a cool story, good acting and some really hot horn playing.

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State the official date of release.

March 14, 2016.

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State the links to your stores and website.

Itunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/blues-you-cant-refuse/1260311699?app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Website

www.thebluesdon.com

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State the title of the song and the meaning.

“Crazy Woman” – True story about an overzealous stalker.

“Alone in My Room” – Loneliness after messin’ up what could have been a good relationship.

“Take My Blues to Town” – For me, busking is always the best cure for the Blues.

“Played Too Much” – Played ‘my’ music and neglected ‘my’ woman.

“Hey, Lil’ Mama” – True story. She was 15, sneakin’ into a bar. She’s mine now (and legal).

“Come With me, Baby” – Take my hand and I’ll make you happy.

“Chicken” – No matter a man’s ‘needs’, a good sexy woman can keep him from strayin’.

“My Good Woman” – She’s a good woman and deserves better than she gets.

“Love Menu Fool’ – It’s almost like there’s a fool’s list and a way to Special Order.

“Police in Centerville” – True story. Anti-homeless laws, the police and survival.

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State the title of the album and the reason for picking the title.

“Blues You Can’t Refuse” is a takeoff on the first Godfather movie – “make him an offer he can’t refuse”. Being “the Blues Don” this allows for some very innovative marketing possibilities; i.e. using the “Goodfellas” picture and asking “you’re gonna buy it, right” or Gotti saying “Gino writes good tunes”, or Carlioni sittin’ in the big armchair with a red Stratocaster.

Jim Moginie

Jim Moginie

The moment is now. There is no time to dilly dally around the periphery’. So, while I’m thus philosophically engaged, and because there’s a song called Eternal Love on there, I’m releasing this 4 song EP, called PERPETUA, on Ash Wednesday (or if you like) St. Valentine’s Day, February 14 2018. There’s a song written with Sarah Blasko, and another with some Nashville cats.

 

During recuperation after the amazing Midnight Oil world tour of 2017 and a nasty fall onstage in November the tour’s last couple of weeks, I was mostly horizontal. Or in a wheelchair. A time to think, learn, meditate while contemplating the ceiling. So I thought it would be good rehabilitation to put together an EP of songs I recorded a couple of years ago, along the lines of last year’s ‘Under The Motherland’s lag’ EP. If only because I was unable to do much else.

 

In 2016 I had just turned a significant age, so barricaded myself into my studio with engineer El Ninety and banged out lots of ideas during the winter months without much revision, judgment or overthinking, playing most of the instruments myself with mostly my son Sam on drums, it was great to make music with him, plus some backing vocals from Lozz Benson and Evelyn Finnerty.

 

Perpetua. The title fits: it’s in honour of the glorious dead: ancestors, parents, relatives, friends, childhood heroes. The Christabel Blackman picture of me on the cover was taken in Fluntern Cemetery in Switzerland, where James Joyce is buried. We came there to honour the great man and his wife Nora.

 

I think the picture says ‘we are but passing through’. Existence is relentlessly perpetual. OK. That’s a mawkish idea to some. And I say ‘You’re on earth, there’s no cure for that.’ ‘No, I regret nothing, all I regret is having been born, dying is such a long tiresome business I always found.’ Actually that was Beckett.

 

John Van Ness

Tell us your real names, country of birth and childhood experience.

I was born and raised in Somerville NJ, USA.

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Tell us your academic qualification.

I studied communications in college and I’ve been playing guitar for 26 years now. I started playing guitar in college.  Later taught my piano and bass guitar.

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Tell us about your music career, band name, musical background, experience and skills.

My musical journey started in 1990 when I decided to learn how to play guitar during my freshman year in college.  I developed as a guitarist and song writer during my formidable years as a co-founding member of the band VAN NESS (with brother Joshua) during the mid-90”s through 2002.

When VAN NESS disbanded in 2002, I stepped away from live performances to focus on writing and producing.  In 2011; I created My Own little World Records. The motivation for starting MOLWR was to keep diversity, quality and integrity alive in today’s music.  I returned to the stage playing guitar and keys with MOR (Men of Rock – gigging band created by brother Joshua Van Ness).

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Tell us about your genre, concept and idea behind your music video and the song. 

I grew up listening to everything so I appreciate diversity in music – my favorite artists all fit in into multiple genres.  With that said, The Great Escape is all over the place.  There’s definitely an RnB/Neo Soul lean to it but there’s moments of pop, rock and Jazz sprinkled in.  The music video for “February” is performance video designed to help folks get through what a lot of people consider to be the longest and coldest month of the year.  This also turns out to be a nice introduction to the world for the featured vocalist Tauree.

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Tell us how to run a record label independently and successfully based on your experience as an artist.

I’m learning something new about the process and business every day.  I try to make the most of my time by being picky about the artists and music I’m endorsing.  I need to be 100% behind their music and for the right reasons. I’ve made the conscious decision to pass on artists that may have been more commercially viable than anything that I’ve done because the music and message just did not feel right to me.  At the end of the day I need to feel good about every aspect that MOLWR is involved in – even if it means sacrificing commercial success. With that said, I don’t always measure success by sales and numbers.  Success can also come from experiencing the impact that music can have on others.  I also look at an artist’s evolution and progression as a measure of success.

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Tell us how you are promoting your music.

Social media and word of mouth are still most effective tool.  One fan at time turns into momentum.

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Tell us what makes you happy and what makes you sad.

Happiness comes in simple things.  Being able to slow down and enjoy moments with people you love. Music and walking my dog are sources of happiness   Guitars also make me happy.  I have 20 guitars!  The state of the world often makes me sad.  The fact that we still struggle with inequality, racism and intolerance bothers me to no end.

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Explain clearly the story or concept behind the song.

“February” is a song about wanting to love and be loved during the love’s prime-time – the month of Valentine’s Day and Cupid.  February is a dangerous and sometimes a depressing month when you are single.  Sometimes wanting love so bad leaves you vulnerable to even more heartache and pain.

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List the radio stations, TV stations and blogs that have aired or featured your new song.

Music from The Great Escape has been featured on the following stations and blogs:

Spin Charts Radio

Radio Seagull

Downunda Thunda Radio

96.1FM The Source – Sophie’s Spring Board Show

Ardenncafe/Amnesia electro – France

KRSC 91.3FM – Rogers St. Univ. InnerVisions Syndicated Radio Show

NBT Music Radio

GreatLakesIndie.us

Jammerzine

Evolution 107.9FM – BCIT Campus Radio

IMC Radio – The Better Music Mix

Independent Radio Trier

Spider’s Dirty Rotten Weekend

Radio Casbah

Middle Tennessee Music

Muzique Magazine

Showcase Radio

It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine

W.A.A.P Radio Locally International

Front Range Radio

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Give us links to where the song can be purchased.

CD Bbay

 

iTunes

 

Amazon

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Tell us about other members of your band, music producer, crew or music video director, how the song was recorded and how the music video was shot.

The “February” video was shot and directed by the extraordinary Joshua Van Ness.  Joshua (my brother) also plays drums on the track and appears in the video.   Tauree, the featured vocalist also appears in the video.  I wrote and originally recorded “February” almost 8 years ago.  The song was reincarnated multiple times and shelved each time until my brother, Josh, stumbled upon it and asked to record live drums on it.  Although I wrote lyrics for it, I was prepared to release it as an instrumental track until I heard Tauree’s voice.  I considered other vocalists – I even tried to sing but it never made sense until Tauree sang it – it was a perfect match!

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Tell us how long you have been in the music industry, your experience and your future goal.

I’ve been making music since the mid 90’s but I didn’t get serious until I created My Own Little World Records in 2011.  I want to continue to write and produce music with integrity and diversity.  I want to keep real music alive.  I am currently producing Tauree’s official debut album, “Descent”.  We expect it to be released in June 2018.

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Tell us what makes you unique from others.

I’m self-taught on every instrument I play.  I also have a birth defect called arthrogryposis.  While it primarily affects my legs

(leg braces and a wheelchair) it does affect my hands a little so I’ve had to find my own way to things on guitar and keyboards.  With that said, my approach to chords is noticeably different than most people.

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Tell us your weakness and strength pertaining music.

I know my limitations as a vocalists and a musician in general.  With that said, I much prefer letting real singers sing.  I think my strengths are writing and producing.  I’d like to think my guitar skills are one of my strengths but I also know I still have plenty of room to improve there as well.

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List your five favourite songs including the artists.

I love so many different artists and songs so this is always subject to change but my 5 favorites today are

Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix  – Everything  I love about guitar in 2:31.

 

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles – songwriting at its best.

 

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding – Amazing character to his voice.

 

I Got You – Split Enz – Neil Finn may be my favorite song writer/amazing hook.

 

Anotherlovawholeinyohead – Prince – He was simply the best!

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Tell us your position on “DIY” Do It Yourself” and signing to a major label.

Major labels are very numbers and trend driven.  I started MOLWR because I didn’t like the direction the industry was heading in.  Majors are not interested in developing and grooming new artists. They only take notice once you’ve developed a significant following or have even sold a good amount on your own. At that point why would you even want to share your hard earned money with them?

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Tell us other activities you will like to pursue apart from music.

I love sports (NY Mets and Cleveland Browns) and my dog Hennessy!  When I’m not making music or working I’m working out and spending time with family.

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List your various works.

Production Credits:

Josh Sallo – Josh Sallo – 2007

 

A Tall Tale on Johnson Road – Brett Fuentes – 2008

 

DNA ( ’08) Discovering the Universe – Joshua Van Ness (’11)

 

The Ropes – Jonathan Andrew 2011

 

We the People  – Mikey Arto 2013

 

Someday Sessions – Joshua Van Ness & MOR – 2014

 

Diaries of the Extraordinarily Beautiful – Mikey Jahbree Wooley – 2015

 

The Great Escape – John Van Ness – 2017

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State links to connect you on social media.

https://www.facebook.com/molwr

 

 

Website

 

YouTube

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State the official date of release.

8/7/2017.

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State your artist’s name and elaborate on it

It’s just me!

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State the title of the song and the meaning.

“February” is a song about wanting to love and be loved during the love’s prime-time – the month of Valentine’s Day and cupid.

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State the title of the album and the reason for picking the title.

Escaping reality and finding whatever or whoever that brings you happiness is the underlying theme to all of the songs on this album so it seemed only natural to name the album “The Great Escape”.