Interview by MissCallMe Cris and edited for clarity
This week we are joined by “Substance Pop" recording artist, singer, and songwriter, AZRA, as she drops her empowering single “Hell & Back”. Giving us hope through overcoming her challenges in life, in an upbeat, invigorating piece of work, in a much-needed moment in time.
Can you paint us a picture of how “Hell & Back” became a song?
I wrote the song a while ago with my co-writing and production team, The Heavyweights, with Jamie Jones and Matt Wong. I went into the studio one day with this idea that I’d been through so much in the past. Even just looking at my artist journey. I’d been doing music for a long time. Since I was born, I’d been dancing and singing. But, one day I was looking back at all the things like being in L.A., working in the industry, all of the experiences I’ve had with my eye being diagnosed with juvenile glaucoma in 2008, and just different challenges that I’ve had to face and figure out a way to grow from and move forward with. So, I went to the studio, and I was like “Hey Guys! I’ve been through hell and back”, even though people may not be able to pick up on that when they first see me. You would have no idea that I’ve been through some challenges. But, that’s very relatable to a lot of us. So, I wanted to work with the idea that there’s always going to be ups and downs in life, and it’s not a matter of only picking the positives to get through life. It’s actually accepting both. There’s always going to be the negatives, and if you don’t know the negatives, you’re never going to know positives. So, that’s how the song came to life. It’s a very upbeat song but, I wanted to make sure it had substance to it.
Why do you think it’s important to tell these kinds of stories?
In life, it’s not always going to be happy. There’s always the yin and the yang. I’ve been through a phase in my life when I was learning about positive thinking and discovering the benefits of being positive, and in the beginning, I didn’t know how to deal with all the negativity. I knew to just focus on the positives and hopefully, the negatives will just go away, I guess. That was my mentality for a while. But, this year with the pandemic and everything that is going on, a lot of us are forced to face the things that we didn’t want to face, including all the negative things. We can be oblivious to it but, that’s not going to last forever, and that’s not going to really make us grow and become stronger as a person. It’s really when we can recognize that there’s going to be good times, and there’s going to be some not so good times. It’s good to accept and recognize that because it’s only going to make us become more appreciative of the positives. I think that’s the true meaning of growth.
What kind of reception are you getting from the song so far?
It’s pretty positive actually, which I’m really grateful for. It’s very upbeat, it’s a different vibe but, still in the 6th Dimension. I’m getting a good vibe from it. The people that I’ve shared it with, they recognize that it’s not just a dance, pop song. They recognize from the lyrics that it’s kind of deep, and has a message. About two week ago, I shared the song with four of my closest friends, and one of my friends actually teared up during the bridge. That just motivated me, like yeah, I guess this is good!
What’s the one thing you want everyone to get from “Hell & Back”?
The one thing that I want people to get is a feeling of hope. That’s the most important thing. With everything that’s going on right now, it’s been really challenging. Speaking with a lot of my fans, it’s been rough. But, at the same time, seeing how people are figuring out how to rise from it, in the midst of all the darkness, seeing how people are coming out of it every single day and getting themselves up in the morning, including myself, it’s pretty damn empowering. So, I hope that my song can just add to that and give them a little more light. Even if it gives them a little boost and makes them want to dance a little, then I’ve done my job.
Is “Hell & Back” a part of a bigger project that we can look forward to?
Possibly!! Yes! I am constantly working on more music. I have been very actively going to the studio lately. Stay tuned!! I definitely hope to and plan to release more music this year.
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By MissCallMe Cris. Interview edited for clarity.
Hailing from North Carolina, Smart Boy Beatz is a multiple showcase winner and beat battle champion. When he’s not racking up these wins with his skills, he’s teaching his musical prowess to high school students in Atlanta, GA. With the Coronavirus lockdown still in place and putting a hold on things, we chopped it up with Smart Boy Beatz to see how he’s thriving through these days, and what he’s been working on.
So, what do you have going on these days?
I’m an in-house producer for Patchwerk Studios. In conjunction with Patchwerk Studios, every Tuesday we do #PWRBASSLINE, a show where producers and songwriters can submit their music, and me and my co-host give feedback. Every Saturday we also do this show called “The Pull Up”, a place online where songwriters and producers can come and vibe out for a little bit since we’re all in the house because of the Coronavirus. We’ve been trying to curate a lot of content so that people feel okay with being in the house, and that they are still being inspired and have the will to create. Being in the house can be depressing sometimes but, having these outlets and this content online is our way of helping to alleviate some of it.
How are you and your team thriving throughout the Coronavirus lockdown?
I’m an introvert, I’m shy, and quiet. I will come alive when I’m around my friends or when doing a show. But, I like being in the house, watching Netflix, and chilling. That’s where you can find me. However, I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t negatively affected me. I need other people around to be inspired. I need personal interaction sometimes. I like my close-knit relationships, and sharing the bond we’ve developed but, the Coronavirus has placed a hold on all of that stuff. Communicating electronically is cool but, there’s nothing like it in-person. Knowing that this is happening, knowing that this is prime time for all of us to capitalize on these emotions and the things we are feeling, we are all trying to keep each other lifted by creating these shows. So, we could be of service for the creatives who felt like they needed an outlet for the music that they have been cooking in their “Corona Caves”, where no one can hear them.
Where did the idea for Smart Loopz come from? How are people receiving it?
The Coronavirus lockdown definitely affected me. I was in a rut for a little bit and that’s where the pack came from. Being in that place. Knowing I had nowhere to go, I thought to myself, let me dig and see if I can find some inspiration. There were a lot of days I would just sit and play around with chords and melodies, play with some drums, and just put them aside for the pack. I was stupid excited to get it out, ecstatic about sharing the posts. I never made a loop pack before, this was my first one. It’s been a lot of support behind it too. I love the feedback and support that I’ve gotten from it. Some of my people back home never heard of any of this stuff, so when I explained it to them, they thought this was something huge. So, they’re sharing the posts, and they are excited for me. Also, shout-out to all my producers who have already copped the pack. They’ve given me some good reviews on it.
What’s something else you’re most proud of?
My favorite is a song called “Dolly!” by Tai the Cherub. It’s one of my favorite pieces. I feel like I got the mix right on it. I love her voice too. She and I went to high school together and just decided to start making music. I like to call our relationship something sort of like a Timbaland & Missy relationship. But, “Dolly” is my favorite…favorite song. It’s nice, upbeat, and vibey. It has some Reggaeton, Reggae, Afro-Beat elements inside of it. It’s one of my favorite beats and she’s just sitting on top of the beat so pretty.
Anything you’ve been working on that you are looking forward to dropping?
I’ve been heavy in the studio with this young artist named Riah. She’s from Atlanta. I’ve been working with her mother and Ciz from iStandard Producers for a few months now. We have 8 to 10 tracks cooked up, ready to drop whenever we get the roll-out plan together. I’m dumb excited about this! For her to be so young and on top of her game already, this is going to pan out very well. There’s a lot of people pushing the project, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
Special Thanks: Courtney "Cizzurp215" Carroll of 2ew Gunn Ciz, LLC.
Original article by CIZZURP215 June 26, 2020 iStandard Producers
Kansas City-based group We The People release their new single, a funky instrumental groove entitled Misunderstood. The single is composed by Houston born and bred Jazz pianist Eddie Moore and distributed by CREATE.Digital Music...continue
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