So, it’s been a minute since I have sat at my computer, and written. Why? … Time? … Life? … Overwhelmed? … Well, yes to all the above. About seven months ago, I made a promise to myself that I would write on a daily basis, no matter if it was something to be published, or to just write and keep my mind at peace. Writing does that for me. It’s everything to me. It’s creative, it’s cathartic … it’s a release. So why has it been a good four months since I’ve written anything?!!? I don’t know. Maybe I thought I would get more support from the people closest to me, friends, family … Maybe I thought I would be an instant success (that’s a HUGE maybe) … Maybe I was afraid to fail … Maybe my mom was re-diagnosed with cancer … Maybe I have felt overwhelmed. Not from writing, but with life. I started to feel depressed. Winter blues? Maybe. I do suffer from them highly. Lack of things to do? No. November and December were crazy busy months! Lack of friends? That would be a no, as well. I know who my true friends are, and aren’t, and those that are, are held as close to my heart, as my own family, since friends are the family we choose. Then what the hell is it?!
I’m typically the person who, if I’m told I can’t do something, I will dig in and show YOU that I can. Problem is, no one has told me that I can’t, so I haven’t had that drive to “show you”, that I can. Another problem is honesty. The few people who do praise my writing, are the very few people who are supposed to. If you like my writing, tell me. If you don’t, tell me… I’m always looking for feedback, constructive criticism … I am, however, NOT looking to be knocked down, I do that fine on my own. HA! If you have nothing nice to say, keep your shit to yourself. If you secretly want to see me fail … Fuck you. Get your own life together, and then maybe you can be happy to see someone else succeed. PS … I wish “those people” nothing, but the best! Ugh!
Which brings me to another point, and possibly another article to write … What is wrong with people now a days? There is enough, in this world, for everyone to be successful. Be happy for someone else, and maybe you can be happy in your own life. Whether it be a successful singer, actress, doctor, lawyer, mom, dad, secretary, police officer, writer, producer, artist (in any form), athlete … Wake up each morning and be grateful for another day of life. Stop seeking the negativity, and start realizing all things positive in your life, and watch how the world around you starts to change.
A little story. I went to the store yesterday. There was an adorable little girl, maybe 3 or 4, with downs syndrome. I noticed my daughter looking at her (as far as I know, she’s never really seen a child with downs before). This adorable little girl was a spirit full of love that could be seen by anyone with a freaking heart. Instead of making a big deal of the little girls downs, I showed my little one kindness … This little love was saying Hi to everyone … Some people would kindly respond, some would just walk on by (heavily rolling my eyes). I stopped shopping, and took the time to interact with her. She said “Hi! Hi! Hi!” … I said “Hi there honey! How are you? Are you having fun shopping with Daddy?” … She was so happy that I, a stranger, took the time to have a micro-convo with her. You would have thought that I had handed her a winning lottery ticket. My daughter never questioned “what was wrong with her” … she just saw her as an adorable little girl. Hashtag micro-convo … Perhaps a movement I would like to start?! Have a micro-convo with a stranger, a child, a veteran … It will change their day, and yours too! #microconvo
Regardless, this post is simply to hold myself accountable, and move forward with my writing. I’ve come to realize that writing, for me, is equal to oxygen. I need it in my life to live, to be happy, to feel less stressed … and a little less overwhelmed. I don’t think of writing as a “job” for me, but I’m going to, moving forward. I’m going to allot a certain amount of time, each day, to write. I’m going to try to post something, a minimum of once per week, more if I can. I have plenty to say, and write about. I just hope to see some feedback in the future, from my peers, about what you like, what you don’t … maybe some suggestions on topics to write about. I love a challenge. I love to research new topics. Did y’all like when I did “interviews” or should I keep my blog to straight up articles, stories and poems?! Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and PRODUCTIVE 2018! Peace, love and happiness to you all!
Take my arm.
Instead of hers.
With each poke and prot
She winces, it burns.
TAKE MY ARM!
Instead of hers!
I feel her pain.
Can it get worse?
I bow my head,
As a tear falls down.
I say a prayer.
I ask the Lord, why?
What did she do?
To deserve this misery.
To have this placed upon her.
What did she do … you ask?
She raised two children.
On her own.
For the most part.
We had incredible grandparents.
A lot. Continue reading “Take my arm … “
My blood turned to ink when words were all I had.
When words were all I had to convey what a monster you were.
What a monster you are.
Still. To this day,
I despise you.
No more shall I feel daunted by you.
To better myself, I’ve reopened my scars,
Taken my quill pen,
Dipped it into my deep, burgundy red blood,
And scratched away.
Words poured from my soul.
With each scratch of the quill, I felt release.
A release like never before.
Digging deeper into my flesh with my quill …
Laceration after laceration …
Snatching all the blood I could get,
To provide the ink for thoughts.
The words were overshadowing the pain.
I couldn’t keep up with my brain.
The more I wrote, the better I felt.
Only a moment ago, I couldn’t bear the thought of you.
Remembering meant feeling.
Feeling meant shutting down.
Shutting down meant losing.
Losing meant almost losing it all.
Fuck all that you’ve done to make me the person I am.
The person, I WAS.
I’m no longer under your spell.
Free for years, physically, but tortured in thoughts, relentlessly.
Some may have called you sick … I called you Lucifer.
Satan … The Devil.
You lost at life when you stole my innocence.
Your own daughter.
Take more pictures
This is your vow
Don’t wait until tomorrow
Start taking them now!
Tomorrow’s not promised,
We take advantage of mother time
Uncork more bottles,
Start “cheering” the wine.
Spend more time reading,
Than running around.
Take time to relax; or
You’re gonna fall down.
You need to be strong,
On her life, she now depends,
For you to be the one, Who repairs all of her mends.
You know you got this,
We’ve been here before …
The faith that comes
Is banging on your door.
**Good Morning Friends … I have submitted this piece to be a part of a bigger audience, next month. Please cross your fingers and toes, that I’m one of the lucky ones to be chosen to be featured with a Guest Submission on The Ink Owl’s Page … I’ve included the link to their page, so you can check them out, and or submit something of your own!**
The prompt, for the submission, from the page, is as follows:
” I would like submissions to contain an essence of fantasy as well as reflect this prompt”:
“Into the deep I plunge.”
I’ve included that, so my poem, makes more sense, as you read it. Enjoy! As always, constructive criticism, is more than welcome! ;o)
Into the deep I plunge …
The deepest, darkest place
I can find … in my brain,
Yet … nowhere to be found.
The light, the one that once shone
From within, is beckoning to be heard ….
To be seen … to be loved.
Into the deep I plunge,
Happily Ever After…
One step forward,
Two steps back.
I vowed FOREVER!
Is forever now?
The deeper I plunge,
The further I fall …
… into GRACE?! …
A space forgotten by me,
Forgotten by all!
Shame on them, shame on me!
Take me deep …
Keep falling … Hold Me!
Let Me GO! … Take my hand,
Fall with me …..
Into the deep I go …
Where? What? Why? …
… HOW?! …
How have I fallen…
This deep, without letting go?
Further … Slower … Clinching
Oh … I see now … REJOICING!
You never let go …
Into the deep I plunge …
It’s warm … welcoming,
Inviting … I like it here …
I recently sat with a young lady named Victoria Skie. She is an up and comer in the music industry, and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air. Having teenagers of my own, I know how snarky they can be … I also know how wonderful they can be. That being said, Victoria is someone I could have spoken with for HOURS, but our time was limited, and it had to end somewhere … sigh.
It was a Tuesday afternoon, in Montclair, NJ. We met at a Starbucks, near her manager’s office, on Church Street. Her manager is Hakim Bell, you may remember him from a previous blog of mine, and if not, do yourself a favor and Meet Hakim. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold. Trying to find parking in Montclair, is challenging, but once I found a spot, I could already see Victoria sitting at a table, outside of Starbucks, as we discussed. I had already seen her many videos on youtube, so I knew what she looked like, yet I was completely taken aback at her natural beauty … stunning actually, with very little makeup on. Like I said … A breath of fresh air.
After our introductions were made, we sat and began our lovely conversation. I gave Victoria some background information about myself. I always feel it necessary, for the person I’m interviewing, to know a little about me. It seems to make the other person feel more comfy, and I have found that the conversation just flows easier, when you feel like you’re old friends. :o)
Victoria Skie, whose full name is, Victoria Marchlewski, shared a little background, as well. She is 18, and just graduated from high school, this past school year … Class of 2017!! Both of her parents are from Poland, so she is 100% polish, which she takes SO much pride in.
“My dad played in a wedding band, in Poland, when he was a teenager, and my mom has always been a singer. She loves singing, and always wanted to be a pop singer, but my grandfather was very traditional. Not that he didn’t have appreciation for pop music, he was just more of an “opera” man. When he grew up, he became an Impresario of Poland, and he would bring shows over to America. He had a lavish lifestyle, and he would like to go to Opera’s, and what not. He set my mom up for opera voice lessons, and she just hasn’t been able to switch it off, from all of the classical training. ((SIDE NOTE: Once you train in classical style, it IS very hard to turn this switch off)). She has always had that want to sing popular music in Poland, so I feel like that’s why she is so supportive of me. I have taken a year, or two, off from school, to help pursue my career in music, and she is here with me, always. My father is so supportive, as well. They both had “the dream”, and so I feel like we are all working on it together, so it’s really exciting!”
For me, it’s so refreshing to see the beam in Victoria’s eyes when she spoke of her parents. I was lucky enough to meet her mother, right before our interview, and she is, indeed, a lovely lady. After you peruse my interview, it will be easy to see that the apple probably didn’t fall far from the tree, in my opinion. This is one up and comer, that I hope and pray, finds her way to the “big stage” … she is simply ahhh-mazing!
Victoria, Who do you look up to musically? “I have a lot of answers for this. So, I look up to Ariana Grande’s production team, because I feel like every song they put out, is a hit, even if the lyrics are questionable. I just feel like the background music, the beats, the bass lines, are always so catchy. So, I’m definitely inspired by her production team. I also look up to Ed Sheeran, because he’s just so chill, and low-key, and just like it’s no big deal, ‘Gonna play MSG tonight’, and I find that so awe-inspiring, just because he’s able to connect with so many people, and NOT be taken over by the industry side. Oh, and Tori Kelly … she’s built her brand from the beginning by herself, and I’ve read a few articles on her, with her business side of things, and how her parents have been a part of it, and that’s huge for me. I want my parents to be a part of everything, because I feel like they have been so instrumental in allowing me to do it, they have given up a lot to support me, and it’s important to me, that they are there with me, every step of the way.”
SEE … refreshing … If only every teenager out there, could appreciate, and respect everything their parents do for them. It doesn’t matter WHAT situation you are in, if you have parents that give a $hit … RESPECT THEM! Otherwise, you’re going to regret how you’ve treated them, one day.
What’s your motto, or message that you want to convey to your young(er) listeners/fans … You know, to the young people, who are now looking up to you?
“This is actually something my old choir teacher taught me … I love choir music, by the way … I love all types of music, but I have been doing state choirs, and regional choirs throughout high school, so I’ve really developed a love for dissonance and different harmonies, and stuff. So, I was fortunate enough to have Stevie Rawlings, as my choir teacher. She had spent a crazy amount of time in show business, before coming to our school, as the choir teacher. So, I played her one of the very first songs I had ever written for my project, ((which means, recording and presenting her original music to executives in hopes of a record deal)), and she sat me down and said, “You should really pursue this”, and then followed up with, “What you have to do in life is, whatever you’re first thinking of in the morning, and the last thing you’re thinking of at night before you go to sleep”, and so ever since then, that’s been my biggest piece of advice. I know kids are pushed by parents, and societal pressures to pick jobs where they make the “most money”, or job stability, but really, even if your job is stable and you’re making a lot of money, when you’re 50 years old, and you’ve always wanted to be singer or a writer, and you’ve never done it, then you’re going to regret it one day. So, to me, it’s better to not have regrets, than to always be “safe”.”
She’s right … you will regret it! Which is why, at 41, I have decided to pursue my writing career. If you don’t ever try, you will NEVER know. This is a very good lesson to learn at such a young age. She is wise beyond her years. Very well spoken, which lead me to this question, because there is no such thing as a perfect teenager … or is there?! ;o)What’s the most trouble you have ever gotten into? A little giggle ensues, followed with … “So, I asked my mom, for my 13th birthday, for Justin Bieber tickets, and I wanted the meet and greet SO BAD ((like every other Belieber out there!)) .. so of course, the meet and greet sold out immediately … so then I accidentally, set us up for a “bid” for tickets .. and I SWEAR, it was an accident ((and she swore up and down that it was an accident)) … so we ended up winning, ummm, for A LOT of money, umm ((almost hiding her face)) TENTH ROW tickets, and my mom had just found it on her credit card statement the next month .. and was like, “Well, I guess we’re going to a Justin Bieber concert!” … and she was SO ANGRY at me, and I was still like, I swear I didn’t know … but then we ended up going, and at the time, it was THE BEST CONCERT EVER, but I did get in a lot of trouble, but so worth it!”
It’s refreshing to know that THIS is the biggest trouble a young, beautiful, aspiring artist has gotten herself into … Lord knows, there are way worse things out there … However, inquiring minds do want to know …
Just how much WERE those Bieber tickets? “OMG … Like $900.00 for both!!! I still feel SO BAD!”
LOL Well, Victoria, it’s my opinion, that one day, you’ll be able to pay them back for those tickets … and then some! :o)
Why is it important to you, as an artist, to be a good role model?
“This is like a BIG thing for me, because not that it upsets me, because I know that every artist has their own audience, and their own image they’re trying to portray, but I feel like there’s too many. The majority of artists that are my age, and female, are so like, over exposed on stage, and they sing about provocative things, and not that that is bad … Look, Rhianna can do it well, Beyoncé can do it well, also, they are in their 20’s ((or older)) … When you’re 17, and your audience are 12/13 year olds, and you’re using curse words in your songs, or using sexual ((innuendos)), it’s just not good. Everyone keeps complaining that generations are getting worse and worse, but what are we giving out to these generations?! Stuff that’s worse and worse!! Seventeen year olds are talking about drinking and smoking in their songs, and kids are listening to it, saying … Well, “this person” who’s really famous, and has a lot of people who like them, are doing these things, so maybe if I do these same things, then people will like me too … and I think that there’s a niche that’s open now, like I feel like there’s a need, in the music industry, for artists that are around my age, that are not gonna do that ((promote smoking, drinking, violence, drugs)).”
It is in my opinion, as a mother, that THESE are the kids that need to be headlining these shows, with their message of positivity, dressing so they’re comfortable, not the way “society” thinks they should dress … just giving a different message, other than sex, violence and drugs.
How old were you when you started to write/play? “I’ve been writing short stories and stuff since I was little, little. Let’s just say my first couple songs, and when I say couple, I mean like FIFTY, they were HORRENDOUS. I remember I wrote a song in like 3rd grade, called ‘We Came Here To Party’, because my influences at that time, were Shakira, Britney Spears, etc .. So, I was like yeah … let me write a good pop song, and it was just terrible, I mean horrendous. LOL BUT, they started to get better around 10, and I remember my first real “good” song, was called, ‘Help The World’, and I remember I sat down at the piano, which I took lessons for 6 or 7 years ((she learned piano before guitar, but feels more comfy on guitar)), and the chorus was, “Won’t matter your color, your shape, size or dollar, the clothes that you wear, or the country you are from, we’ll live as one”. ((I KNOW! RIGHT?!)) So my mom came home, she heard it, and was like WHAT?! So, the next day I showed my music teacher, Mr. Nalesnik, and he was like WHAT? And when the head of the music department, Ms. Vartanian, heard the song, she asked me to sing it at a library opening that they had, and they had a little peace park made, and she said the song fits perfectly. She was also such a great support throughout my school career. So, that was my first “big” performance, and I have been writing ever since. When I got my guitar, that’s when the songs started shooting out, cause now I had a way of creating background music, and so it just poured out.”
Victoria, since you are an up & comer, I know you sing a lot of covers ((very well, might I add)), but could you please explain your sound to my readers, in your own words? “THIS, is the hardest question ever. So pop has always been a part of my life. I have loved it since I was little, and as I grew up, I started to get more in to acoustic music, or acoustic versions of pop songs, and saw that people who cover songs, can make them their own, and I love urban influences, as well, like Lauryn Hill, or India Arie . My sister introduced me to that type of music when I was younger, and I love the beats and the vibe to it, and at the same time … I love sad music. I love to listen to sad music, I mean, who DOESN’T love a good sad song, and cry?! ((side note: if you just said YOU, you’re a big, fat liar liar, pants on fire! Continue on .. lol)) I just love to cry and then write sad songs, ((a little giggle ensues)) but honestly, it’s the best … it’s so therapeutic!! So, to answer your question, my sound, I would say is Pop, R&B, with a heavy acoustic underlay …”
What’s on your playlist? What do you like to listen to when you aren’t working on your own music? “OMG … EVERYTHING!! When I plug my phone into my friends cars, omg, they laugh at me and are like … WHAT?! Cause one “side” of my playlist is like ridiculous HIP HOP, crazy, loud, funky hip hop songs, and then you listen to the “other side”, which is all classical/choral pieces, and my friends are like, huh? … :o) Then I like Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and I LOVE The Civil Wars, who is my all time favorite ever, and I listen to them every night before I go to sleep. I really respect their songwriting, and their ability to capture feelings in three minutes, and I really hope to have that ability one day, and am striving to do that. Who else is on my playlist? Oh, of course, Lauryn Hill, I listen to her when I’m getting ready … ((opens phone to look at playlist)) Ohhh, Pentatonix … I ran the Accapella group in my high school, and I’d arrange pieces for them, so I listened to Pentatonix, A LOT … I also have Josh Groban, cause his voice is just heavenly ((agreed, 1,000%)), I also have Chris Brown, Bruno Mars, Future … I also have a lot of throwback songs, I LOVE listening to the music I used to listen to in like 6th and 7th grades, cause it just brings me back to the good times we had, the dances at school … but yeah, my music is all over the place, ((which is good, it means she has an open mind, and can appreciate all genres of music)) and I feel like it helps someone like me, a songwriter, because you can take influence from other genres and make it your own.”
What is your favorite “go to” song, to belt out in the shower, your car … karaoke? “Whoa, that’s a hard one … Hmmm … Okay, I know, I know … “And I Am Telling You… by: Jennifer Hudson, from Dream Girls … All of my friends love show tunes, and Dream Girls is the one I love the most … So whenever we are doing karaoke, or whatever, it’s the go to song for me! I love it so much!”
Where do you draw inspiration from, when you’re writing your music, and what’s your favorite part of the process? “I love this question, because I feel like it’s unrealistic to say I only draw from personal experiences, that have only happened to me in real life. I feel like everything you do is a personal experience … you read a book or watch a show … it’s a personal experience, because you have personal emotions and reactions to EVERYTHING in life. So, I hate when people say, well you can’t write about love, if you’ve never been in a relationship, but I’ve read books, and seen movies where people have been in loving relationships, and you develop little relationships with characters, and what not, and you can FEEL that love, and like when people say that it’s not genuine, well, yes it is … I mean, when my favorite duo, The Civil Wars broke up, that hurt … I felt that BIG TIME … It was like a break up for me … I was crying, wondering how life would be without their music anymore?! So, I have “felt” that hurt, and that pain, one way or another, and I definitely know what LOVE is … I love my family, my friends, and I feel like it’s unrealistic to say, that you can’t write a song about something you haven’t gone through, when you can definitely relate, in other ways. So, I draw inspiration from everywhere … Life is definitely one of them, but from things I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, experiences friends have had .. I think it just opens up a lot more opportunities, to be open about where inspiration is drawn from.”
What skills or attributes are most important to being successful in this industry? “I think being confident in yourself, and what you produce, is important. I mean, I know I’m not going to please everyone! I know a lot of people are not going to like my music, people are gonna say I stink, and I get all the time, that I write too mature for my age, and I just take that as, thanks … that means that my audience is wider then … I don’t see a problem with writing more mature for your age, especially when there are 17/18 year olds, singing about stuff WAY more mature than I am, and their songs are on the radio. So, I think be confident in what you produce, and in yourself, and don’t take no for an answer. Also, me being a girl, something about the industry that I don’t like, and this is just in general, not everyone, but sometimes, if you’re a male in the industry, and you know what you want, you’re a visionary, or an inspiration to others. However, if you’re a girl and you know what you want, you’re hard to work with. I find that super annoying, because I AM a perfectionist when it comes to my music, I can go without cleaning my room for 6 months, but if my music is not correct, then I am angry, because I put too much time into it, and too much thought, for it to be wrong. So, I always want to be a part of everything, from songwriting, to production, to final tweaks and mixings, and stuff. I just want everything to be perfect, the way I want it, because it’s MY music.“
It’s also a true sign of great work ethic and discipline. I swear … This young lady, is seriously going places, and I’m honored to be a tiny part of the process!
Is there anything else you don’t like about this business, or is there something you feel could just be better, about the industry? “Definitely. I think it’s so money driven, but so is every industry, so that’s understandable. I mean, no one wants to invest money into something ((or someone)) that won’t produce. I think that’s a downfall in the industry, because it allows for loopholes. For instance, if you have a lot of money, you may “make it” faster than someone who doesn’t have a lot of money, and has been working hard their entire life, just to be noticed by someone. I think that 40/50 years ago, the music industry was a lot more genuine, and I think that’s partially the fault of the internet and technology, because now you don’t make money on your music, because people can illegally download it. It’s all about merch ((merchandise)), and ticket sales. So, if you are not able to build that brand, and have a huge following on your social media platforms, because they are such a huge part of everyday life, then you’re not gonna get the same chances, as someone who has 3 million followers on Instagram ((or other social media outlets)).”
If you could open for any artist or band, on tour now or the recent past, who would it be, and why? “I think it’s important to be with someone who is similar to my genre or sound, just to be exposed to an audience who may be more receptive of my music. I also think it’s so important for people to listen to music from every generation … because there are geniuses in every generation, you just have to find them, listen to them, appreciate them, and learn from them … emulate them, not copy them. Definitely challenge yourself, and broaden your horizons. So, to answer your question, hmmm, maybe Tori Kelly … she’s another one of my big inspirations, so maybe for her, or like Ed Sheeran, that would be INSANE, because he plays big stadiums …” ((I interjected with a question, because I think Ed Sheeran is freaking AMAZING, yet I’m always reading about the haters out there, to the point where I’ve already started to collect information, for a blog that I intend to write regarding this exact topic … I mean, do people even know just how amazing he is??))
So, I asked Victoria, why do you think Ed Sheeran gets such a “bad rap”? “I think that people just aren’t used to someone, of celebrity status, being so “normal”. I feel like when you’re thatfamous, you’re supposed to be snobby, you’re supposed to wear thousand dollar t-shirts, and he just doesn’t. He just sings. So, for every person that doesn’t like him, there’s like 16 that do, so he’s doing it right … living the dream!”
AMEN!! I love Ed Sheeran, and I’m not afraid to say it!!!
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing or making music? “Well, since I grew up in Jersey, I’m such a “joisey girl” … I love going “down the shore”, I love the boardwalk and the beach, but I also love sleeping. I never sleep. I write my best songs at 4 a.m., so I’m always up, writing, trying to edit vocals, etc … I also like to hang out with my friends, because I’m always so super busy with my music, and I also have a part-time job, because I love to shop, and buy new outfits for my performances, etc … So when I do have a day off, I like to go to the beach with my friends, or shopping … I love shopping … retail therapy is a real thing! Lol So yeah, that’s about it!”
If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be? ((Without ANY hesitation…)) ” John Paul White, from The Civil Wars, because I love the way his voice blends. I saw him live in Brooklyn, at this beautiful venue, called National Sawdust, where they constructed the room, to give the most amazing sound experience to the audience … only like a hundred people in the audience, standing room. It was a life changing show for me. Everything was insane. I think his songwriting is great. Also, I’ve written a bunch of “sad songs”, that I feel would sound amazing as a duet with him. He’s able to capture that desperate, my heart is breaking feeling/sound in his voice, so well, and it would be my dream, to sing with him.”
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? ((I dislike this question with someone who is seasoned, and has been in the industry for YEARS … I think it’s a great question for a young, aspiring artist in the industry)) “I’m hoping in the next 5 years, that I have a major label backing me, because as much as I respect the independent artist way, and I think a lot of people can do it successfully, I just find that in order to reach huge audiences, you need that “push” from the label, and that’s another dream of mine … While I love making music, and staying intimate with my audience, my number one bucket list item, is to play a show at Madison Square Garden, and as an independent artist, yes, some can grow their audiences to be that big, but it’s harder without that “push” from the label. Also in the next 5 years, I hope to have my first solo album out … I’ve written 20 – 30 songs for this project, and I love writing songs, and poems and stuff, so I’m hoping that I have one out, even if it’s not backed by a big label.”
Victoria, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the opportunity to speak with you. I’m in your corner, and wish you nothing but great success in your future. You’re the type of “kid” that this country NEEDS, especially in the times we live!! Our nation is divided, but it’s young people like you, that give me GREAT HOPE, to bring everyone back together! I know that when you do make it, you will use your platform to speak about positivity, empowerment, etc … And, right now, YOU are what our youth needs to look up to! You are a great inspiration to me, and I’m honored to have had the pleasure to interview you for my blog.
You can find Victoria singing at BB Kings in the city. She also sings at Montclair Center Stage for different events. On July 27th, she will be singing the National Anthem at Skyland’s Stadium, while also doing a 30 minute set, right before the game. In September, she has some things in the works in the Washington DC area. Follow this young lady:
Happy 16th Birthday! Since you were born, I couldn’t wait for this day! There’s just something special for a girl, when she turns Sweet 16. I’m not really sure why … even as an adult, I am trying to figure out what’s so “sweet” about being 16. :o) I mean, you’re still in high school (oh what a drag … HA!), your parents still rule the roost, you think you’re an adult, yet, you’re still a child. LOL Ohhhh, I don’t know.
What I DO KNOW, is 16 Reasons Why I Love YOU, being my daughter!
1. You are the kindest person I know, and that’s not an easy feat. I surround myself with kind people, always, yet, you still come out number ONE.
2. You make me so happy, just for being YOU! Don’t ever change.
3. In my opinion, you’re so brave, for being SO honest. It took me a long time to not “sugar coat” things, to not hurt someone’s feelings. You have a way, with your honesty, that I truly admire.
4. I respect you, and your opinion … ALWAYS. Even if I don’t agree, I still hear you.
5. I love that you still like to spend time with me. (Don’t ever stop, even though I may go, go, go … I always have time for you.)
6. You teach me something new, almost daily. (And all these years, you thought I was teaching you!) ;o)
7. You crack me up. I love your sense of humor. Keep laughing, it’s good for the soul. It’s so much easier to be happy, than miserable. Remember, misery loves company, keep steering clear of misery. You’ll be so much happier.
8. I think you’re very good at picking clothes, that YOUR body feels comfortable wearing. These days, it’s easy to get caught up in short shorts, (ridiculous looking) crop tops .. It’s in these moments, that I’m so proud of you, and happy that you listened to me (way back when) when it comes to respecting YOUR body. So damn proud.
HALF WAY THERE!!
9. I LOVE how you love animals. It shows that one day (in the VERY far future), you’ll be a wonderful mother.
10. I love your work ethic. It’s so refreshing to see you (and your brother), working so hard this summer, and saving more than you’re spending. I know that you can now value the worth of a dollar, and how hard you have to work to get the things you want (not need). It’s only going to make you better, as an adult. You will see.
11. ANYBODY, would be lucky to be your friend. You’re thoughtful, caring, loving and MOST importantly, KIND.
12. You have a heart of GOLD, and it radiates through that gorgeous face of yours.
13. You have great instinct. I couldn’t have picked a better boyfriend for you, if I tried.
14. I think you’re meant for BIG THINGS, and by BIG, I just mean … Whatever makes you the happiest to jump out of bed each day, and reach for the stars …
15. Persistence. Maybe something you’ve learned from your step-father, but I do admire it. You are relentless, when it comes to either something you want, or something you’re passionate about, you don’t stop until you’re pleased. It’s an awesome quality to have.
Annnnnnnnnd Drum Rollllllll Please …….
16. I trust you. This trust isn’t just given, it’s earned. You have proven to us that you can be trusted, and that’s MORE than I could have ever hoped for in any of my children, and it’s refreshing to know, that HEY, maybe I (we) have done something right.
Well, it’s not just a maybe … You are proof that good humans still exist, and will exist in the future!! You are an amazing daughter, sister, role model, friend … HUMAN!
Happy Sweet 16, to our very, VERY sweet girl. WE LOVE YOU!
Have you ever felt like you’re in the presence of a musical genius? Does music bring you to another level of “feeling”? Do you remember the first concert you ever went to? What’s that one song you always turn on, when either you’re feeling blue, or happy as hell? These are some things that people tend to never forget, and I recently had an interview, with someone I’ll surely never forget, and his name is Hakim Bell.
Now, I’m sure you have all heard about this “little” band from the 70’s/80’s, through today really, called Kool & The Gang. Celebrate good times, c’mon!!! Yeahhhh, you know who I mean!! Well, I had the honor, of meeting the son of Kool, from the band. His name is Hakim Bell, some may know him as DJ Prince Hakim, as he’s known for spinnin’ in the clubs, parties, events … you name it!!
When I finally found my parking spot on Church Street, in Montclair, I breathed in a big breath, and I said to myself, “You got this!”. I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous. Once I found Hakim’s office, I really felt the jitter bugs, which is a good sign, because it meant that I was really excited with what was about to transpire! Here. Goes. Nothing … (knock knock)
Hakim immediately made me feel comfortable. I could tell that he knew I was very new at this, and his patience and kindness will honestly, never be forgotten. We took our respective seats, in his conference room. We sat across from each other, me with my notes, recording device, and he with his computer, and phone not too far away (always working). He was so chill, so cool, so ready to delve in, and just do it. The sign of a true professional, yet so easy to speak with.
So Hakim, growing up, who was your biggest inspiration, other than your father, of course? “Oh, well RUN DMC, of course. Then, I mean, it changes. As a teenager, it was Run DMC, LL (Cool J), New Edition. I could go on and on.”
If you could eternally be stuck in one year musically, or decade, let’s say, which one? “The seventies, the eighties were good too, but to be stuck, definitely the 70’s. The music is so amazing. The songs, the instruments … everything.”
What is one subgenre that, in your opinion, doesn’t get the attention it deserves? “Oh. That’s an interesting question. Umm, I’d say Indie, that’s a good one. The acoustic, the sound … A band called Haim, they are 3 sisters … They’re Indie and have a cool sound, they’re dope, actually.”
What is your opinion regarding old school DJ’ing, where you were spinning on real vinyl, versus today, where technology plays a HUGE part? “There’s nothing like touching that piece of vinyl, and looking at the grooves, or the scratches in the record, that you make… when you play a record over and over, and you get those grooves… It’s like this … When you first buy a record, it’s nice, it’s shiny, it’s clean, but after you play on it for a year, you know what I mean, those things get nice and grooved. Then looking at the artwork on the cover, flipping it over, and reading who produced it, etc.. Man, there’s just nothing like vinyl! As a matter of fact, I’m giving DJ lessons, out of our Montclair office, on Church Street … Get in contact with me, if you want to learn how to rock the party!! All ages are welcome!!” (Information will be provided below)
Do you think it has hurt the exclusivity for DJ’s having a certain sound, by not using old school vinyl to scratch and tear it up on, versus the use of technology today? “Ummm, not really, I know what you mean, but not really, because it’s really about what records you’re using in the mix, not the record, itself. So it still comes down to your own vibe, and how you blend your song choice and how you scratch and mix these records in. So you still find your song on iTunes. I think your sound can evolve even more now, because you have access to every song out there, when back then, you had to find the song you wanted, go buy it, etc.. So, I think your sound can evolve, for sure.”
What is one song, that never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve heard it? “Ohhhh man … ummmm … Jungle Boogie. Yeah, Jungle Boogie NEVER gets old. Master Jammin’ by Stevie Wonder, Off the Wall by Michael Jackson … MAN, we can go on forever. Hall & Oates, I Can’t Go For That. So many, so many.”
When did you go from DJ’ing to Producing/Managing? “So, while DJing, we were PLAYING the beats that other artists and rappers made. So you start DJ’ing, and now, we want to MAKE the beats, you know, it’s just second nature. Now I want to make these beats, that I’ve been spinnin’, so alright, leave these turntables alone, for a little while, and start producing for the next 10-15 years. And that’s pretty much how I got into that. You know my uncle, co-founder of Kool & The Gang, Ronald Bell, he wrote Jungle Boogie & Celebration, he’s a producer. So, I used to be at his house, as a kid, you know with my cousins, and I would watch him produce. I grew up in the studio.”
Is it fair to say that producing and managing go hand in hand?
“No. Management … man, I got into management, and I only manage one artist, Victoria Skie. I usually sign an artist, in the past, to my production company, meaning … I would take them, find their sound, produce their demo, at my own expense. I would do artist development, meaning, teach them how to walk, how to sing, how to conduct an interview, you know, all that stuff, and put together their sound, identify their sound, put together a demo, all at my expense, that’s what a production company does. So, I left that alone, because we would get so close to getting these artists deals, and then something … either an attitude problem, or they decide not to do it anymore, or they just didn’t cut it for a record label. You know, there was just something they were missing. So, you know, that’s a lot of time and money, so I kinda fell back from doing that, I kinda left messin’ with other artists alone.”
(And then there was Victoria, who in my own opinion, has the voice of an angel.)
Is Victoria your only client, and how did you find her?
“So, I was here, in my office, and I got a call from Joann Smalls, who is the head of Montclair Center Stage, she said, “Hakim, you have to come hear this girl sing”, and I was like “Ohhhhhh, c’mon, what, why”, and she was like, “You HAVE to come hear her!” You know, you hear it allll the time, this trash, lol. So she finally convinced me.. I’m walking down the street, right here on Church Street, and I’m hearing this girl sing, and I get up there and I sat there the whole time (in awe), like WOW! This girl’s got something. So from there, I talked to her parents, and I said, “We need to meet NOW!” So, Joanne told them who I was, and we had a meeting, THAT DAY, and the rest is history … you know, we made a deal, and now I manage her, and of course, it’s based on a couple things, cause I don’t like to promise anybody, anything. I know people think I’m crazy, but I’ll put together a deal, where, look, I’ll say, let’s put together an agreement, XYZ, and it doesn’t go into full effect, unless I deliver on my goal, but I want a certain amount of time to do that. I mean, I’m getting her some major things right now, an interview with you, she sings at BB King’s, I have her booked at the State Fair, etc … So I am doing a lot of managerial stuff, but we’re not makin’ a lot of money, YET!! 🙂 Let’s keep it real, surrounding her with the best team, getting a record deal, and yes, making money … that’s the bottom line. For me personally, it’s to be a part of an artist’s’ career that can be a major star in the world and influence culture, and I believe she can. So, yeah, that’s why I got into the management side of it. You know, I’m not looking to manage a bunch of artists. I’ll be fine with just Victoria, and myself, for now.”
What does it take, to make it in today’s industry? How do you KNOW, when someone has that “IT” factor? “I just know. I just know. Well, I think I know. You can just tell. It’s good to have a great sounding demo, you know, a great sounding recording, but if you’re talented, a seasoned manager or executive, should be able to recognize great talent, just from a voice recording of you singing your songs. A seasoned executive will recognize that talent right away, and then take that talent, and put it where it needs to be. So, there’s really no excuse. If you’ve got talent, and you’re taking the time to upload your stuff, persistently, they’ll find you, as long as you keep marketing yourself.”
Other than being “sellable or marketable”, meaning the way the artist just looks on the outside, what do you feel are other elements an artist needs, in order to be successful? “Great body language, great songs, catchy commercial songs … I think you need to be a great songwriter, it’s very important to me, AND it’s YOU, you should want to tell your story. So like the fabulous “Rhianna’s”, or the amazing “Beyonce’s” out there, they may not write their songs, now they may co-write, but they might not fully write them. I think for a true artist, you know, someone like Lady Gaga, or even Victoria, you want to tell your story. Like if something happened to Lady Gaga last night, she’ll write about it today, get on her piano, and write a song about it. Now that’s dope.”
Hakim, your stage name is DJ Prince Hakim, where can we find you? “I’m gonna start MC’ing … hosting events, and stuff. For right now, it’s DJ’ing, and I also tour with my dad. I used to do about 40 shows with them a year, ‘cause they do about 80, but now I do about 5 – 10 with them.”
I still can’t believe that, after all these years, they are doing 80 shows per year!! “Yeah, man … you should see their list, and you know, they have guys that have been with them since the 70’s, they have some new guys with them, as well, they have good talent, and you know, my dad is just sitting there on bass, chillin’ in the pocket, he’s not out front spinning and dancing. Sometimes people think that he’s the singer, but ‘Kool’ is actually the bass player, and my uncle, is the original horn player. So, yeah, but even at that, with the planes, and the travel, it’s a lot, but they still look great, and they’re still kickin’ it, man.” 🙂
As a person, who just started my journey in the blog world at 41 years young, THIS motivates me more than ANYTHING, to never stop believing in myself, or my dreams. I hope this is just as motivating for you all. Anything can happen! Anything.
Tell me what else you have going on… “So, some things I’m excited about this summer are: Booking more shows for Victoria, and putting the finishing touches on her record. Finding the right company to partner up with for her EP. I’ll also be DJ’ing on the 4th of July at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. I’ll also be making my Hampton debut, DJ’ing at the Surf Lodge, and I’ll be making my return Dj’ing at the popular speakeasy, called La Esquina in Soho. Of course, I also offer the DJ lessons, as well.”
Well, Hakim, I think you’re dope! I greatly appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to sit, and have a wonderful conversation with me. I’m a huge fan of the arts, music especially… and opportunities that are being presented to me, are like a dream come true. I joke a lot about my “age”, and being “old”, but at the end of the day, there is no age to inspiration. I have been inspired beyond words, after this conversation. I am on cloud 9, pursuing my dream, my passion … there’s just nothing more “dope”, if you will!! 😉
Please do yourself a favor, and check out DJ Prince Hakim this summer. Whether it be at a Kool & The Gang Show, in the clubs, or taking some DJ lessons, you won’t be disappointed, that’s for damn sure!!
You can find more information on his website at www.djprincehakim.com, and in the words of Hakim, himself, “DON’T FORGET TO CELEBRATE LIFE!” Peace.