“When Stars Collide” Live Music Video Release by Katie Ferrara

This week Los Angeles native and busking artist Katie Ferrara released a live performance music video for her track “When Stars Collide”.

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This behind the scenes look at the life of a busker, or street performer, is a refreshing look at the art of storytelling through music. With guitarist Jesse Cross at her side, Ferrara does a superb job of bringing the audience in, from the passerby’s in the video, to those watching the scene from home. The video, directed by Cody Ebbeler, encapsulates a comforting, familiar feel, with a personal touch and a bit of classic Katie flair.

The video was filmed outside of Sweety’s Candies in downtown Burbank, CA, an area Ferrara frequents on her busking journeys. Not only has she made a name for herself in the Los Angeles area, busking from the 3rd Street Santa Monica Promenade to Melrose Trading Post, but this unique approach to live performance and building a fan base has brought Ferrara around the world. After winning a street performing contest in June, she was invited to play in a global street band with musicians from around the world, and tour in New Zealand.

The indie/folk artist will be releasing her debut EP in fall 2015. Be sure to stay tuned for more videos like this one as part of The Street Sessions collection, catch her live busking the streets of Los Angeles, and read more about her adventures as a street performer in “The Busking Diaries” on her website.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music blogger living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

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“Dreamers” Single Release by Villains In Love

This Brooklyn, NY based indie synth duo stumbled across me on instagram, and directed me to their new single “Dreamers”. I followed their promptings, and was rewarded with a delightful style of music I haven’t heard since Broadway star Gavin Creel released his pop album Goodtimenation in 2006.

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Villains in Love members Blake Charleton and Renae Adams bring similar theatrics and electronic elements to their new single, “Dreamers”, which will be released on iTunes on February 10th, 2015. The song, bringing romantic lyrics, peppy production, and powerful vocals to a mystifying point, is available for streaming on the duo’s soundcloud.

“Dreamers” is playful, enticing, and a breath of fresh air that deviates from today’s mainstream sounds, while still adhering to enough modern influences to feel relevant.

The fresh production and theatrical elements make the song distinctly NYC, and this indie synth Karmin can be experienced at such Manhattan venues as Rockwood Music Hall and Mercury Lounge.

Follow them on instagram (@villainsinlove) to stay up to date on upcoming shows, their EP release (coming spring 2015), their album release (slated for fall 2015), and of course, head to iTunes and purchase “Dreamers” on February 10th, 2015.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music blogger living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

Behind the Scenes with Sonia Rao

I was first introduced to singer-songwriter Sonia Rao at BMI’s Acoustic Lounge at the legendary Genghis Cohen in December. After her emotional performance, I knew there was something special about this young artist. Today, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Rao one on one, to discuss her journey, challenges, and goals within the Los Angeles music industry.

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When did this journey start for you? Did you always know you wanted to be a professional musician? 

I definitely didn’t know I wanted to be a professional musician at first. Looking back, I think the journey started when I was very little. My mom had my brothers and I learn three instruments each. I played violin, piano, and flute, so there were lots of lessons, orchestra rehearsals, and practicing, but I never thought of myself as creative because I was just studying what was on the page. The actual songwriting happened after college.

How has your life changed since deciding to pursue a career in music?

Everything is so different. Life changes logistically, of course, in my day to day, but more internally it changes how I interact with the world. I just wrote this song about coming into songwriting: growing up I didn’t really speak out at all, I would never participate in school, etc, and once I started songwriting I started finding that I had all these opinions and ideas of things. It changed my life in that way, and I like that. It changes everything – you’re going after a thing you love, so I think that you have to face yourself, you have to be really honest with yourself, what you want, whether this is worth it, the battles you come up against. You face your family, and expectations. I’ve battled my own inner self – Do I think I can do this? Can I make a living out of it? But for me I feel like those are the good questions to ask in general.

What have been some of your biggest challenges?

I guess one challenge after graduating college was realizing that my parents and family had certain hopes for me that were different from the hopes I had for myself. I surprised myself with this music career, so a big challenge for me is continuing to stay at it when everything and many people close to me were not wanting me to do it because they were worried. Facing doubt in general from others and from myself, and still sticking with it has been a challenge. As you know, LA is kind of a beast of its own, and deciding you’re going to stay here, no many how many inner demons arise, no matter how many doubts you have in yourself. I’ve been in LA 3.5 years, and with each year that passes, I’m so glad I stayed.

What is your inspiration?

Books that I’m reading. Relationships – beginnings, endings, songs follow the arch of a relationship. I’ve written a little bit about my family. The last album is called Los Angeles – so I’ve written about moving here, my experience with reality TV (Rao was a finalist on the 1st season of The Voice), all that. Everything is inspiration, as for me songwriting is a way to process how I think about things.

Can you tell us about your songwriting process?

I think there’s two kinds that happen for me – one is when I really feel like writing, but a lot of the time, I don’t feel like writing, but I decide I’m going to sit here from this time to this time and I’m going to write no matter what. One song comes out first, then a song that makes it to an album comes after that first song. It’s like when you meet up with your girlfriends and you talk about whatever for a minute and then the real stuff comes out – that’s what songwriting is like for me.

You’ve placed a lot of your music on several television networks. What can you tell us about that process?

That is all because of my publisher, he does all that, he’s awesome. I met him when I first came to LA and got very lucky with that. That’s just been so helpful for my music and for having my career here. It’s funny though, because when I write these songs, I’m thinking “this is about my ex boyfriend” and then it’s used with Snookie and someone are making up after a fight, which is totally opposite from what I wrote about. They use my songs mostly for the emotional scenes.

Your website mentions that you’ve spoken and performed at TEDxWomen, can you tell us about that experience?

That was an amazing day. All day you’re listening to these really inspiring speakers. It was so great to perform after all that inspiration, the audience was so hyper-present. I performed four songs and spoke in between about my experience with my family and pursuing music. One song I wrote about patriarchy, so I discussed that and the importance women’s equality in our society.

What are some of your short term goals?

I’m going to Nashville in two weeks to finish my next album – we’re so close! Then I’m looking at artwork and planning the release and the tour.

How do you hope to impact the industry? What would you like to see change?

I’m working on an interview series called “Conversations”, where I speak with artists more about their inner experience -how they experience jealousy, what was the hardest thing for them about their career that they didn’t expect, when have they experienced contentedness… questions like this. I feel like a lot of the video interviews out there are more promo based, and while there’s a place for that and it serves artists, I do think that there is a desire for people to hear more than promotional material from artists. I really want to make sure that I stay in that same space when I’m writing, in the self-expression mode instead of thinking about what the product is. I’d like to see more of that in the industry. Sometime after this album, I would also like to have an all women’s project, where the writers, producers, engineers, are all women. I realized all the people I’m working with, who I love, have been men. I’d like to see what could happen and what would be different when we get a bunch of talented women together to work on a project.

You just performed in Bali for New Year’s Eve, what can you tell us about that experience?

Bali was beautiful, it was awesome to play the countdown show at Ayana on New Year’s Eve. It’s such a lucky thing to travel and get to travel for work, and then I travelled around afterwards. It was a nice way to end and start a year.

What advice would you give fellow aspiring musicians?

If you ever lose sight of yourself or what you are doing here or why you’re doing it, just come back to what is it you want to say, what is important to you – come back to self-expression, as that will always guide you back to why you wanted to do this in the first place. The other thing is don’t dismiss yourself just because there’s so many people doing what you’re doing. It doesn’t make it less important that you’re doing it.

What’s next for Sonia Rao?

Finishing this album, figuring what the name of it is. Releasing it and touring. We’re thinking Midwest, NY, Nashville, San Fran, and LA.

 

 

To learn more about Sonia Rao and to keep up with the release of her upcoming album, and to follow her on social media, head to www.soniarao.com.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

ASTR Live at The Troubadour

It is always a pleasure to be asked to cover a sold out show: the energy is guaranteed to be high, and in a place like The Troubadour in West Hollywood, the night will undoubtedly be a success. The Troubadour is known as one of the rare venues who truly makes a point to honor the musicians it headlines as well as the audience it draws. Subsequently, loyal music fans from across the metro and even out of state flock to the historic venue to see some of the best shows in LA, set on a small, intimate stage that makes the experience all the more memorable.

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Saturday night’s show was started off by DJ Grant Owens, most  popularly known as the producer and host of We Found New Music, a  radio show on Laguna’s KX 93.5 which tackles the important  task of bringing those new and promising acts to the forefront of  its listeners’ radar. Owens, who also works at major record label  Universal Music Group, began the night playing alternative,  electro-pop favorites from bands like The Knocks, and nodded  to upcoming act ASTR by playing their ever popular cover of  Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”. The DJ’s debut at Troubadour was a hit, and the perfect primer  to the next act, The Black and The White.

The three man show, made up of frontman and lead guitarist Juilio Tavarez, bassist Mario Gonzalez, and longtime drummer Cliff Sarcona, stormed the stage with their incredibly playful and exuberant presence. Tavarez matched his impossibly tight pants with even tighter vocals, dancing easily between his passionate baritone and a surprisingly powerful falsetto. The band carried the energy of ensembles much larger, and louder, proving that three was all that was needed to bring an already eager audience to their feet. Backed by a psychedelic video display and surrounded by an increasingly enthusiastic audience, The Black and The White doled out a welcome overdose of music that can only be created by those who still remember and respect the art form that is musical expression. Between the three band members and the brilliant addition of backtracks towards the middle of the set, The Black and The White reminded Troubadour goers why they flock to the venue in the first place: to hear unique, powerful, and eclectic music from seasoned performers who are hungry to share their craft and create an experience with their audience.

Up next came the headlining duo from New York City, ASTR. The crowd went wild as stunning redhead and lead vocalist Zoe Silverman and producer, percussionist, and keyboardist Adam Pallin hit the stage. From the bass drop of their first song “Razor”, the crowd was screaming their appreciation and singing along. Silverman kept the crowd moving as she demonstrated her theatrical dance and performance skills, as Pallin kept the show going by captaining his production machines and electronic drum set. A dramatic duo to be sure, ASTR filled the stage with their explosive presence and heart-pumping music that bled lyrical finesse. Their visuals emphasized the retro foundation of their music, which, paired with galactic production, makes for an irresistible and addictive combination. ASTR premiered a new song at Troubadour that night, which could easily catapult the duo into mainstream success. With its catchy lyrics, use of pop and hip hop beats, and something that is undeniably ASTR, the song has all the makings of a hit. The band finished their set with their lead single “Operate”, off their debut 2014 EP “Varsity”. The crowd, already whistling and screaming at the end of every song, including a performance of the Drake cover already teased by DJ Grant Owens earlier that night, offered an uproar of applause when the duo closed on “Operate”. As DJ Pleasure Principle ascended the stairs to bring the night to a close, there was no doubt the audience had witnessed performance greatness that night.

From DJs Grant Owen and Pleasure Principle, to three-man band The Black and The White, to powerhouse duo ASTR, this night at the Troubadour proved that it doesn’t take large numbers to make a wave: a few can accomplish much when they have the passion and vision to do what the majority would never dare to do. Here’s to the few, with big dreams and bigger voices, and to the venues and organizations like Troubadour and We Found New Music who support them along their way.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

Alexa LIVE at Station Unplugged (The W Hollywood)

The singer from rock band Oversoul hit the stage in an acoustic set last night to promote her upcoming solo EP at Station Unplugged, courtesy of the W hotel in Hollywood.

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Based in San Diego, Alexa Villa, known on the music scene as “Alexa”, is a singer-songwriter, talented pianist, and model. The young artist spends her time between San Diego, where her band Oversoul is based, and LA where she ventures for meetings, shows, and model calls (LA Fashion Week and the spread of Women’s Wear Daily, to name a few).

Last night, Alexa left her band at home, calling only on the guitar and background vocal talents of her brother, Ryan, also a member of Oversoul, to accompany her in her first solo show in Los Angeles in a while.

Promoting her upcoming EP (release date TBA), Alexa appeared behind a full weighted keyboard, armed with black leather and spidery fish-netted legs that mean business.

Her rock background was apparent, but if the audience thought her looks were stunning, they soon found that there is more to Alexa than meets the eye. The moment Alexa starts singing, the world stops to listen. The 20 year old’s wailing, powerhouse vocals, perfect for the rock scene, are surprisingly well-suited for her own compositions, which detail the power struggle in relationships and the sometimes difficult task of accepting things the way they are. Alexa’s chant sections bring the listener to the party, while her chromatic melodies catch us off-guard, showcasing her musical expertise.

Alexa highlighted the show with the leaked track from her upcoming EP, “Do What You Do To Me” – a playful number, if not somewhat masochistic, as love almost always is. Joining the ranks of popular rock voices Amy Lee (Evanescence) and Hayley Williams (Paramore), Alexa’s vocals soared from rock party song to the intense solo ballad, “Hope”, which was recently recorded at the legendary Jungle Room studios in LA.

With a voice built to fill out larger venues, it is no wonder Alexa is finding success in the rock world as front woman of Oversoul, but she also has the important ability to stand alone, without the support of a rock band behind her. As her vocals brought people pouring into the popular night spot from the train station and the street, catching mere musical phrases and wanting more,  it became clear that Alexa’s solo venture has just as much promise as her rock career, if not more.

This young lady has it all – the look, the voice, the writing ability, the musical talent. The only way to describe Alexa: simply stunning.

Alexa’s new track “Picture Perfect” has gained critical acclaim and airplay in San Diego. You can catch Alexa at a free show at The House of Blues – San Diego on August 5th, at 8pm. 

For more on Alexa, and to stay up to date on her solo EP release and shows in Los Angeles, follow her on instagram and twitter @thealexavilla, find her on Facebookand listen to her music on soundcloud.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

Behind the Scenes with Brandyn Burnette

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Warner Brothers artist, Brandyn Burnette, to discuss his newly released single “Thanks For Nothing” from his much anticipated debut EP “The Couch Surfing Chronicles”, set to release Fall 2014:

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When did this journey start for you? Did you always know you wanted to be a professional musician? 

I actually wasn’t really interested in music to begin with, even though I grew up in a musical family. My sister was an amazing singer, and my dad was an artist on Capitol Records. But when my grandmother gave me my first keyboard at age 7, I learned the entire song bank by ear. When I was 13, I wrote my first song about my sister going away to college; that’s when I unlocked something inside of me. In high school, friends would be partying and I’d be on my keyboard for 8 hours.  Everything changed when I got a full ride to NYU for theater. I auditioned on a whim and got into their program. But I can’t dance, and you’re essentially preparing yourself for Broadway in that program, so in the middle of a ballet class I said “screw this”, I’m gonna be an artist. I felt like it was a universal moment that said “I can do this now”, and I knew I didn’t want to go down the musical theater route; it just clicked. I walked out of that ballet class and went straight to student affairs and took a leave of absence. As I pursued music, I couch surfed with my friends in NYC, figuring out my next steps. 6 months turned into a year, and I traveled everywhere from Oslo, Norway to LA for meetings with publishers and record labels. I eventually signed with Warner Brothers. Several years and a few couches after that ballet class at NYU, this is where I am now. My first single “Thanks For Nothing” is finally out, and I feel like within my experiences and exposure to a variety of musical sounds, I’ve found a way to do my own thing and keep that young 13-year-old in the room feel about my music.

What is your favorite part about your life as it is today?

I woke up this morning to a text from my friend saying, “I heard your music in the mall” in the UK. For me to be signed for this long and feel like I’ve had this song in production for years, it’s great to see “Thanks For Nothing” get the circulation it deserves. You never really know what a label does for artists as far as exposure until it happens. The possibility of hearing the song outside of my own phone/headphones/car is so exciting, I can’t believe it.  I got signed and my music got released – those are the dreams.

You just spent several weeks in Scandinavia. What can you tell us about your trip?

When I left NYU and went to Norway for the first time, it was because my manager had another artist over there. The publishing company I met with then is still involved in my career today, which is why I went back. My deal with Sony/ATV flew us out to Sweden for 7 days, and then on to Norway to continue building my radio profile. I’m trying to really establish myself as a songwriter in the down time between releases, and in Scandinavia I explored writing in many styles, from R&B to house to indie folk.

Is there anything you would have done differently on your journey?

I wish I had never stopped acting. There was something special that those theatrical moments brought to my music. Being onstage is extremely emotive and inspirational. I feel like if I were to practice acting even more now I could tap into that for my record. I really miss it.

What do you think has been the key to your success?

Patience. My journey has been so unconventional. People could call it wasting time, but those couch surfing moments were a part of making me, me. You’re always evolving and I think success can be a hindrance that keeps you from getting to the next level. Having patience and remembering to enjoy what you do – that is success right there. There’s such beauty in feeling that every day is a success.

What are some of your end goals? 

I want to travel the world and perform. Music videos and studios are so much fun, creating the song is great, but if I can’t deliver it live there’s no point. I’ve never been comfortable just being a songwriter – performing the songs is such a great payoff, you’re reliving that moment. I also want to do film and television earlier rather than later, because I want people to know that my artistry is 360. And I want to put my mom in a house. She’s supported me so much, 9-5. I would love to be able to take care of my family at this point.

What piece of advice would you give to fellow aspiring artists?  

Don’t give up. Know how good you are, because lots of people have opinions in the industry. If I listened to every one I don’t think I would have gotten to the point where I feel comfortable enough to unlock my potential. I feel its very intimidating to do something with your life when people are telling you “no”. I didn’t let anything discourage me. I think that even trying in the first place is so important. After that, persistence is key.

 

The lyric video for “Thanks For Nothing” will come out very soon, with the official music video to follow. As a songwriter, Burnette also has singles for other artists coming out in the near future. His 6-song EP “The Couch Surfing Chronicles” is slated to release Fall 2014. You can catch Brandyn at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood every two weeks, with the next show on Tuesday, June 10th, at 9pm

You can purchase Brandyn’s new single “Thanks For Nothing” at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/thanks-for-nothing/id881336801?i=881336827.

For more on Brandyn Burnette, and for links to his social media, head to www.brandynburnette.com.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.