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Entertainment Interview Music

A Rebel With A Cause: Interview with Sonny Digital

Trailblazing his own path, Sonny Digital is one of youngest producers making tsunami waves.

Sonny Digital is a Rapper-DJ turned producer. The 27-year-old was born in Saginaw, Michigan and grew up in one of the meccas of Hip-Hop, Atlanta, Georgia.  As a child Digital always loved music. He began rapping while in school and was inspired to produce by his cousin after not being able to find beats to his liking. Sonny looked to Drumma Boy and Shawty Redd as inspiration; two well known Hip-Hop producers. At the age of 16, Digital joined a rap group strictly as a producer. Over the years he began producing mixtapes for local rappers; working towards his big break.

Digital rose to fame in 2011 after producing the monstrous hit “Racks.” The song featured today’s biggest rapper, Future, and another Georgia native, YC. Peaking at #6 on the U.S. Rap charts and #8 on the U.S. R&B charts. After the success of Racks, Digital’s career was amplified. With his dynamic and futuristic beats now popular in the rap world, it was only a matter of time before he joined forces with other rap royalty and hashed out more hits with Future. Churning out bangers like Same Damn Time, Blow a Bag, I Don’t Sell Molly No More, Tuesday and more.

Sonny Digital has also produced for Beyonce, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, Migos, Young Thug, and Key!. One of Digital’s biggest hits to date is Birthday Song, made popular by Kanye West and 2 Chainz. While the song was a smash hit, many did not know the young producer laid the foundation for the tune we hear today. He recounts the tale of working with Kanye in “First Call,” a track where he holds no punches. Digital details the industry flip that happens a lot to upcoming rappers, producers, and singers alike.  He also talks about breaking his hard-drive and having to start from scratch after the success of “Racks.”

His hypnotic beats aren’t the only conversation piece provided by Sonny Digital. He’s been very vocal in encouraging all producers to speak up on not receiving credit. Amid fighting for his own recognition, Digital made sure to use his platform to shed light on industry practices. He took to Instagram to share his thoughts on producers not winning Grammys or MTV awards and so on for their efforts. In an interview with The Fader he explained that he wanted to start a union for producers. Giving them the backing and support that is lacking. A lack of support that has led many beat crafters to stay silent.

Since his immense success Digital has returned to his roots of being a rapper and producing his own music. He’s linked up with Que, Black Boe of Travis Porter, and other artists. The interesting part about a lot of his music is, artists gravitate to Sonny’s original sound and remix it. This is the story behind “I’m The Man,” the hit of producer’s past, and Birthday Song. Both tracks originally featured Digital.

The chart topping artist took time out of his schedule to answer a few questions.

You’ve been instrumental in breaking new artists and producers, Ex: Key!, 21 Savage, and MetroBoomin. How do you cultivate sounds and build relationships with upcoming artists?

The “Just do what you do, nobody can do what you do better than you can do it. I wasn’t looking that’s just how it happend

Aside from music Digital has another job he takes pride in, being a dad.

How has your experience been, being a father?

You can almost hear the smile on his face as he shares: “It’s lit, I recommend it, I like fatherhood I want some more kids.” He’s got the entire thing down packed. He tells us how much enjoys it and it’s not that hard.

What does it take for an artist to be noticed by Sonny Digital?

I just gotta like you, everybody’s different, What I personally like, If I like it I go into it. I can always find something that I like in any field.” Boasts the multi-talented artist.


SONNY WEARS BLAZER & PANTS BY FAITH CONNEXION, TURTLENECK BY Z ZEGNA, SHOES BY DSQUARED2
Have you given any real thought to creating a producer’s union and who would you enlist to be on the front lines?

Always true to himself he says: “None of the people y’all probably think, nobody real enough to be on the front lines except for me…I’m working on it.

Which do you enjoy doing more, rapping or producing?

“I don’t like that people separate it, It’s the same thing. It’s all making music.”

Which artists do you want to work with that you haven’t?

Nobody y’all know. I’m not all into the hype, y’all probably wouldn’t even know them.” Taking the road less traveled seems to be the way Digital prefers to do things.

We had to get in on the SRGOW (Sonny Rollin Grams of Wax).
Who would you smoke with if given a chance?

Now this is the exact person we had in mind. “Snoop Dogg.” That answer took no thought at all.

What are you working on now?

Elusive as always he explained “I don’t really wanna say, I’m in the studio right now.  Just know, the less you see the more I’m working.” We can check in on his social media to find him mesmerized by studio soundboards.

What’s your end goal with music? How do you want to be remembered?

“I don’t know, when you die nowadays you go to automatic legend…being yourself is already kind of legendary, ain’t nobody the same, everybody different.” Digital continued

What do you like to do in your down time?

For a man that is always working on his legacy, spare time is hard to come by. Digital tell us: “Building a studio, some stuff outside of music, chilling. Then he pauses to continue, “ain’t really no down time for me, there’s just time I can spend doing something else.

How would you describe your style?

Chill, being me, the cool guy I guess.

There is something mystical that lures artists to Sonny Digital’s mastery of music. Maybe it’s the hard hitting drums, the intensity of the high-hats, or the intricate little nuances that make his beats distinct. Digital is a beast behind the boards and should be revered as such. Some people follow the wave, Sonny Digital is the wave.


SONNY WEARS COAT, T-SHIRT AND SHOES BY HERON PRESTON, PANTS BY REEBOK BY PYER MOSS

SONNY WEARS SHIRT: PRADA

PHOTOGRAPHER: LUKE DICKEY

PRODUCER: NATASHA KHROLENKO

STYLIST: JENNY HAAPALA

STYLIST ASSISTANTS: OLIVIA JAKUBIK & ARTT KIM

GROOMER: TORU SAKANISHI @ JOE MANAGEMENT

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Entertainment Interview Music

Exclusive Interview with Joe Vango of Audiomack

Audiomack’s Secret Weapon

I recently had the chance to visit the Audiomack HQ and chat with Joe Vango, Marketing Coordinator. Joe is originally from Philadelphia and has made quite an impact in the music industry in a few year’s time. He speaks on bringing out James Shaw, the Waffle House hero, at Rolling Loud, the new Kanye produced albums, and artists he’s currently listening to. He also touches on J. Cole’s surprise KOD event in New York. Joe even shares how upcoming artists can garner his attention.

Joe got his start in the music industry writing for Hypefresh Mag, from there he began curating playlists. His knack for finding new artists and his keen sense of discovering new sounds made him visible to the Audiomack team. David Ponte, Co-Founder of Audiomack, sings Joe’s praises. “Joe is probably one of the most unsung taste makers in the industry,” with which I had to agree, “YES!” Ponte continues “He’s kind of like our secret weapon, he makes sure that we have the dopest upcoming artists on Audiomack first.” As a previous co-worker I can attest to all of this. #YouShouldKnowJoe

Watch the one-on-one interview above.

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Entertainment Interview Music

Starley Talks the Importance of Trusting Your gut, Being Yourself, and more

Starley is an Australian born Pop Star who speaks to the spirit of her fans through her music.

Just a few months after its remixed release, Starley’s mega-hit “Call on Me” has reached over 67 million streams on YouTube alone. The inspiring artist creates music that is true to who she is. Growing up in Australia influenced her desire to be a musician. Pop music is one of Australia’s main exports. Starley has made her way to international stardom. Her music is liberating and self-reflective. When asked of her influences, Starley explains she was very mesmerized by radio and Australian pop stars.

How does being from Australia Influence the music you create?

She says, “I grew up listening to a lot of Australian pop music, especially Kylie Minogue.”

Her family is multicultural, which adds to the depths and the sounds of Starley’s music. She credits her mother’s Aussie, Filipino, and Japanese roots as well as her father’s African roots for the base of her musical soul.

She mentions, “I was influenced by The Story of Ritchie Valens and Old Rock. African bands from Mauritius, and one of my biggest influences is Mariah Carey. ”

Starley recently teamed up with Katy Perry on stage for her WITNESS tour. A monumental moment for the international pop sensation. She says “Katy listened to ‘Love is Love‘ and that was it. She said she wanted me to join her.”

Who else would you like to work with?

She stated “Sia, and DJs like Diplo and Calvin Harris.”

Starley

With such powerful music comes great responsibility. Starley has been taking great strides to always be the best version of herself and provide her fans with the same opportunity. I asked, “Please explain the importance of being true to yourself and encouraging your fans to do the same.

“It’s one of the biggest things for me as a singer and songwriter. It was the main reason for me to just put my music out there. I had dreams of being an artist when I was much younger. I just wanted to get my music out. Starley revealed that she’d tried making music and writing for other artists. “…But nobody wanted to sing my truth.” She found that it was only she who could share a message so personally written. “Learn from my mistakes or connect with my life in general…People need one another to draw from and I like to put encouraging things into music.”

True to her word, Starley’s mega hit “Call on me” does just that. The uplifting track is the perfect pick-me-up when you’re feeling down. How did the success of “Call on me” change the course of your career? She answers, “I didn’t expect the success, I knew it was a special song that people were going to relate to. The song is very true to me.” Starley says, “I went through a serious bout of depression. I had to sing myself out of that depression and now the song taken on a life of its own.”

The single has over 67M YouTube views alone. Speaking on the success of the hit she says, “It was overwhelming. The most important thing is fans get to hear your music around the world and I get to put out what I want. I feel blessed.”

Through music, Starley has been able to find herself and learn herself layer by layer. In recent months past the singer bravely came out to her family. She shares that experience:

“It was pretty hard, I had always felt bi-curious. It was a bit of shock for me and hard for them to handle. I grew up in church.” She continues, “I began to explore and learn myself…I started falling in love with my girlfriend so I had to. Living in a lie is the worst thing. This is something my family didn’t expect. I continue to be transparent with them, as much as they will allow. You either live in the lie and torture yourself or you put it out there and the other people learn from the situation.”

As beautiful as her music is, so is her heart and mind. An artist of sound spirit is one to cherish. In her budding career I asked, What advice can you give to any aspiring artists?

“What I wish I had learned: trust your gut instinct the most, more than people with more experience. The most important thing is your gut instinct. People may try to deter you from your path, but trust it.”

After the release of her latest visual for Love is Love, Starley says she is working on a new single. She also recently wrapped up her album which could be a Winter release.

Her universal message is to spread love through her music, a message we can all stand to receive.

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Interview Music

Moon Taxi is a Breath of Invigorating air

The band that formed in Nashville, Tennessee seems to have been put together by fate.

Trevor Terndrup and Tommy Putnam were childhood comrades with a deep passion for soulful music. The pair attended high school in Vestavia Hills, a suburb in Birmingham, Alabama. After graduating, the two moved to Nashville, where they attended Belmont University. There, they met the remainder of their dream team. David Swan, a drummer from Atlanta, Georgia and fellow guitarist Spencer Thomson, of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The group quickly gained popularity and began playing small gigs and eventually did their own college tour. Terndrup’s soothing vocals coasting with the band’s synchronized harmonic telepathy set the group for success. Upon graduating, Swan decided to depart from the band to pursue another career path. Moon Taxi then enlisted, Tyler Ritter as drummer. Another friend from Vestavia Hills. In 2006, the group was writing and recording in preparation for their debut album, Melodica. At the same time, the group had keyboardist, Wes Bailey sit in on a few shows; after Melodica was released in 2007 he was permanently added to the family.

“Their musicianship remains tight, intricate and top-notch” – Associated Press

In coordination with releasing their first studio album, Putnam, Ritter, and Terndrup formed their own label, 12th South Records. An independent label housed in their 12th Avenue South home. After the success of Melodic, the five-piece recorded a live album. This attracted the attention of festival lovers and laid the foundation for their performances at popular events. Events such as Coachella and Firefly Music Festival among other popular fests.

“Over the last few years, Nashville’s Moon Taxi have worked their way up from Bonnaroo buzz-band to something approaching Kings of Leon country, playing a pleasingly cross-bred rock – a little indie, a little proggy, kinda poppy.” – Rolling Stone

Image Shot by Eva Pentel

With their growing popularity and more than 10 years of playing together, the band signed to RCA records in September , 2017. It’s possible that their production of loving, free-spirited music has catapulted them to the forefront of the Alternative Jam Rock scene. “Not Too Late” is off of the band’s new album Let The Record Play. The captivating visual follows the lives of three different characters – each overcoming their own obstacles – the video perfectly captures the song’s yearning lyrics and ‘80s inspired guitar and shows that it’s never too late to achieve the impossible. Watch the video here:

Let The Record Play is a triumphant moment of rock-pop exploration that proves that Moon Taxi is a rare band that can address the temperature of our turbulent times while also providing the euphoric musical escapism we so badly need. Produced and mixed by Spencer Thomson (the band’s guitarist), Let The Record Play is a document of one of the most creative bands to emerge from Nashville’s immensely fertile landscape – and one that has been thriving on the festival scene for years, bringing their electric performances to Coachella, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo and beyond. Beloved enough in their hometown to sell out two nights at the famed Ryman Auditorium this past October, this LP, their RCA Records debut, has catapulted them even higher.

Tying into the album’s release, Moon Taxi performed their hit single “Two High” on The TODAY Show with Megyn Kelly TODAY and  Jimmy Kimmel Live. “Two High,” is an uplifting song written to emanate peace,  following the Women’s March this January. The song is a global streaming hit, reaching #1 at Triple A Radio, is being played on Sirius XM’s The Spectrum, Alt Nation and Jam On, and has garnered over 78 million streams on Spotify alone. “Two High” is also being featured in the 2018 Jeep Compass commercial.

Currently reaching new heights, Moon Taxi is now on an international tour. Check out the dates below. The tour concludes on October 7th in New York, tickets are available here. Get the latest updates from the band by following them @Moon_Taxi

Image shot by Eva Pentel

Moon Taxi Upcoming Shows

February 14        Fayetteville, AR @ George’s Majestic

February 15        Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note

February 16        Oklahoma City, OK @ The Jones Assembly

February 17        Kansas City, MO @ The Truman

March 2                Punta Cana, Dominican Republic @ One Big Holiday 2018

March 23             Covington, KY @ Madison Theater

March 24             Covington, KY @ Madison Theater

March 25             Houston, TX @ In Bloom Fest

April 4                   Oxford, MS @ The Lyric Oxford

April 5                   Baton Rouge, LA @ Varsity Theatre

April 7                    Mobile, AL @ Soul Kitchen

April 12                 Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall

April 14                 Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theater

May 16                 Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre

May 17                 Baltimore, MD @ Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

June 1                   Jackson, MS @ Cathead Jam at Cathead Distiller

June 7-10             Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

July 14-15            Birmingham, AL @ Sloss Music & Arts Festival

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Entertainment Music Video

Viral Sensation: Xian Bell

We all scroll our timelines aimlessly while at work or walking through the market. This time, I found a gem.

Social Media has made it possible for artists to gain a following and promote themselves without the medaling of record execs or A&Rs.

Mr. Xian Bell posted an adorably hilarious video of his mother. He says, every time he and his siblings surprise their mother with a gift she goes and gets dressed up and makes them record giving her the gift.

The visual for his single A Dollar and a Promise , dances below, teasing unsuspecting tweeters, like myself.

Xian provides a totally unique sound, delivering emotion in the coolest manner possible. He sings of love and linking with friends…getting lit and shooting the sh*t.

Check out the video above and stream the EP, You We’re in My Dream here.

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Entertainment Music

Migos: A Cultural Treasure

Takeoff, Quavo, and Offset…the Migos.

The North Atlanta natives have taken the music world by storm. Having already been widely known for hits like Bando and Chirpin, the Migos’ career skyrocketed when Drake hopped on the remix to one of their biggest songs to date: Versace.

Just in case you needed a reminder of the super single:

After the success of the upbeat bop, the Migos became the hottest group out. Going on to cross genres and collaborate with the likes of Frank Ocean, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Calvin Harris, and Fall Out Boy to name a few.

Where did this triumphant trio come from?

Quavious, Kiari, and Kirshnik, or; Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff are from Lawrenceville, GA. The nawfside of Atlanta. The rap group formed in 2009, but the three have been woven into each other’s lives from birth. Quavo is Takeoff’s uncle and Offset’s cousin.

Having such a close bond only made for better chemistry. (They lowkey are Destiny’s Child lol) Shortening the Spanish word for “friends,” their creativity and ingenuity speaks before you even get to hear their music.

Family ties make great for performing acts. Take The Jackson 5, The Wayans Family, Tia and Tamera Mowry…the list goes on.

Not only are the Migos music legends, but they’re also fashion icons. Drawing inspiration from the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. They’re not the first artists to take inspiration from these legendary artists and certainly won’t be the last. Saying this, Migos has more than likely inspired a number of artists in the industry right now, as well as up and coming artists. There are probably kids out there sitting in their bedrooms right now listening to Migos and checking out sites like upyourplays, wishing they could release their own music, in the hopes of being as big as these guys! It is not impossible, as they are proof it is possible.

Check out this video of the three expressing their eye for design and explaining MJ’s impact as they prepare for the Grammys

”I really want to thank Migos for making Bad and Boujee, it’s the best song ever.” – Donald Glover at the Golden Globes

The Migos received kudos across the board. Actors, singers, and athletes alike have all given praise to the trifecta.

Glover continues to say that the Migos are “The Beatles of our generation and don’t get enough respect.

A notion that I fully back. Subsequently, Bad and Boujee peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list, ironically knocking down Rae Sremmurd & Gucci Mane’s Black Beatles. After reaching the #1 slot, Migos released their second studio album, Culture.

The album featured songs like: T-Shirt, Slippery ft Gucci Mane, Call Casting, and Get Right Witcha.

A year later they released the sequel, Culture II.

This time there is something different about the Migos. A bolder sense of confidence and creativity. This album features production from Hip-Hop elites Pharrell Williams & Kanye West as well as Metro Boomin, Ty Dolla $ign, OG Parker, Zaytoven, and Quavo himself.

The group has continuously sought out more engaging visuals for their music. Take the progression of their video narratives. They’ve successfully gone from 2 minute music videos to short films. Short films in which we get to see a glimpse of their personalities and what influenced them as children.

The videos for their singles Stir Fry and Walk it Like I Talk it, are especially fun to watch. They both bring a sense of nostalgia. In Stir Fry the trio assume the roles of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the 90’s classic Rush Hour. In the video for Walk it Like I Talk it, they take it back a littler farther, to our parents’ generation. On a full blown replica set, the Migos partied like it was the 70’s on Soul Train. With Drake and Jamie Foxx in cast for extra laughs.

Soul Train served as a cultural oasis. Giving a platform to R&B, soul, dance/pop and hip hop artists, funk, jazz, disco and gospel artists.

And this ladies and gentlemen is why the Migos are culture treasures. In a span of fives years the Migos have taught us what a Bando is, they’ve given us fiery ad-libs to spice up our boring conversations—MAMA! They love Michael Jackson. Impressed Trap gawd LaFlare Gucci Mane. They’ve redefined male fashion, taught us how to dab accurately and overall they keep giving us nothing but the HITS!

We must protect and cherish the Migos at all costs.