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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Debby Holiday Q&A: Now at Queens Our City Radio!

I am so proud to share the Q&A I had with the divine Debby Holiday with Queens Our City Radio. Once more around the world! Thank you, Debby; thank you, Barbara Sobel @ Queens Our City Radio! http://queens.ourcityradio.com/ Support our indy artists! They rock!

http://queens.ourcityradio.com/uncategorized/qa-dance-diva-debby-holiday

Saturday, October 26, 2013

***Breaking Beaverhausen Bulletin***

Ok, everybody, I can blab it! I got off the phone with Barbara Sobel of Queens Our City Radio (thanks for your patience, Barbara) earlier today and I'm signed up as Dance Promoter! Wish me luck in this new endeavor! 

As Barbara blabbed on Facebook: Here we are! An interview with the one and only Chris Colby, Dance Personality Of Queens Our City Radio! Thank You Charles Truenski for the interview who has just joined Queens Our City Radio as our Dance Promoter! The World Famous Blab It To Beaverhausen Blogs & Interviews Moves To Queens Our City Radio!
 
It will bring Beaverhausen to a larger audience. And it will also expose my interviewees, to whom I'm so grateful, to an even wider circle of embracing fans.

A love shout-out to all my readers. In the USA, Brazil, the UK, Canada, Dominican Republic, France, Sweden, Ukraine, Germany, Japan, Ireland and Israel! We've got some hot interviews coming up.

Blab It to Beaverhausen was launched last month but it's already skyrocketing! Thanks to all my interviewees! Without you, I am nothing. No, I really mean that!

As Faye as Joan howled in Mommie Dearest: "Barbara, please, Barbara!" Or, really, as I meant to quote from that film, Faye's very first line: "Let's Go!"


Friday, October 25, 2013

Interview with Queens Our City Radio's Chris Colby

Thanks again to Barbara Sobel for arranging this interview with Chris Colby. A great interview regarding today's music scene, its artists, indy dance music and getting back to melodic music for the dancefloor.


Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to talk and to Blab It to Beaverhausen! Hopefully, we'll all get better acquainted and find out more about you through this interview.
Chris Colby: No, thank you, Beaverhausen, for the invite. I always love to talk with friends and fans to let them know more about me.

DBB: I see you've been with Sobel Nation as a mixshow dj for over a year, and with Queens Our City Radio as a promoter for the Dance station since it started just about two months ago. How did that all come about?
CC: It is all because of Barbara Sobel from Sobel Promotions. I met her through Facebook. I was talking with friends and promoting my gigs and mixshows that are posted on my website, www.djchriscolby.com and on my podomatic site www.djchriscolby.podomatic.com . She was promoting some really awesome Sobel Nation artists' music, I asked to be added to her promotion list; next thing I knew, I have a mixshow on Sobel Nation Radio every Friday night at 10:00 pm est. I have become friends with many of the artists and remixers at Sobel Nation and, of course, with Barbara. We are all like one big family. Along comes Our City Radio and my podcasts gets picked up by them. A few months later, Barbara says she is going to be manager of Queens NY Our City Radio and asks if I would like to apply for a Promoter position. It is a new company and it is focused at music and indie artists. I play many indie artists and already do promoting of artists that I like and am friends with. So I took that on for about two months and was recently offered a promotion to Personality of the dance station. I cannot wait to start this position; it will definitely make for an interesting turn in my career in the music industry.

DBB: Tell us about the Queens Our City radio mixshow.

CC: Every Saturday night at 10:00 pm est time, I have a mixshow that is aired; this is a one-hour prerecorded mixshow of non-stop dance music. A lot of the music I play is either one of the Sobel Nation artists or remixed by a Sobel Nation remixer. These shows, although they are pre-recorded, are from live gigs where I have been the DJ. Listen to Sobel Nation Radio anytime at http://sobelnationradio.org/stations/sobel-nation-radio1

DBB: Where do you hale from? What music influenced you growing up?
CC: I have always lived in Pennsylvania USA. I lived in Montgomery County and now live in Delaware County.  I did have a pit stop in the City of Philadelphia for over 10 years. Music that influenced me? I have a wide range of musical likes. As a young child, I listened to classical. I am not sure what started me with that as none of the rest of my family listened to classical. My Father always had big band and swing music on in the house. Then came the rock & roll of the 60's and 70's followed by bluegrass and The Grateful Dead. One day, I woke up and heard the club scene of the later 70's and early 80's the likes of Donna Summers, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Love & Kisses, O'Chi Brown. so many amazing artist of the era. At that point, I just kept growing with the sounds and artists that have brought us to EDM / House that I play today.

DBB: You started dj'ing in the mid-1980s in the Philadelphia area. How do you feel about the music of that by-gone era?
CC: I loved the dance music of the later 70's and 80's. Whitney Houston, Madonna, Miami Sound Machine, Janet Jackson, France Joli. I loved and played it all. At times, I still go back and play the classics. Without the sounds that created the dance floors of those years, we would not have the music we have today.

DBB: How would you compare it to the Disco Era of the '70s and the classic House Era of the '90s?

CC: The dance music scene just continues to grow and evolve. The music of the 70's and 80's built the foundation while delivering some amazing beats and memories. The 90's with artists like M-People, Inner City Kim English, Josh Wink, Deborah Cox, Christina Aguilera, Inaya Day. I could go on forever; they revived the dance music scene.... Such cool, smooth beats and lyrics that had meanings that would get the floors moving in a single mass even when there were thousands of people dancing at the same time. We would become one with the beats. The music of the '90's was such feel good music.

DBB: What elements do you feel create a great dance tune? And what kind of dance music just turns you right off?

CC: I love excellent meaningful vocals when combined with a pulsing bass beat. Clean crisp remixes with the right blend of vocals to extended instrumental sections tying the beats together to make the people of the dance floor shake their moneymakers. Music I don't like is hard because I could say I don't particularly like Urban, DubStep or even Country but the right song by the right artist mixed the right way and I find myself saying I like that and will find a way to squeeze it into my rotation.

DBB: On your Dj site, you wrote: There is so much great dance music out there (whether you call it club, dance, pop, techno, EDM or house) that never gets to the masses of dance music lovers as it should. My feeling is it does not matter what chart it does or does not appear on it is the feeling you get deep inside when you hear it. Could you develop that thought a little further for us and briefly describe your dj aestheic?


CC: There is so much good dance music out there; it is almost impossible to hear it all. Inspiring artists have it so easy in this era but yet so hard at the same time. Some artists happen to make it to a point where everyone knows their name and even if you do not like the style of music, you know the words. Everybody plays them and every song they release makes it to the top 10. Many of these artists deserve to be heard because their music really is very good. Other artists ~ both signed and indie artists ~ are not promoted or picked up by the masses, and their music is just as good if not better. They are just not pushed by the big music industry. I look for and listen to all the music. Of course I hear the big stars but the indie artists at times are what my fans and dance floors want to hear. Once the dancers and music enthusiasts hear the unknowns, many times they will come up to find out who it is, where they can get it and then they start to request it. With this wide range of dance styles, I play from House to rap, hip-hop to country as long as it has a beat for the dance floor. I will try it out on the crowds. Makes for an interesting dance evolution from start to end. Whether you hear a one hour set or a full night of my dance floor ~ I take you on a journey.

DBB: Are you currently based in New York City? If so, at what point in your life did you move here?

CC: No, but I am often in New York. At times ,I am in Queens, NY more than I see my own home which is in the suburbs of Philadelphia PA. But, as any music lover knows, good music is good music and if you like a particular style or genre, it wouldn't matter where I was located or where the station is located; you listen to it for the music. Although the more I learn and see of Queens, New York with its large multicultural population, I look forward to learning more and working within the community.


DBB: What are some of your current favorites you're spinning?
CC: This is really hard because I really like so many songs and artists. I always feel like I am going to miss one that really should be mentioned or that people will think the first one I mentioned is better than the last,  which is not true. It is just what comes to mind at this particular moment. Five minutes from now, a totally different list may come to mind.
1) Let's Go Back to the Dance Floor - The Village People
2) L.O.V & E - Eric Alan
3) Applause - Lady Gaga
4) Hot Beat - Ernest Kohl
5) Work Bitch - Britney Spear
6) Pound the Alarm - Nicki Minaj
7) Venus - Paul Oakenfold ft. Azealia Banks


DBB: Once more, your mixshow on Our City radio is every Saturday night at 10 pm est. Tell us more about how we find you and what we can expect.
CC: You can go to queens.ourcityradio.com/channels/dance any time but my show [oroginally] airs on Saturday nights at 10 pm est. It is a great time slot as so many people are getting ready to go clubbing or do something to enjoy their Saturday nights, and this is a great way to kick it off and get ready for the club sounds. The shows are non-stop beat-to-beat that have some of the hottest music of today along with some songs from the past.

DBB: Chris, thanks so much for your time. We will certainly be listening to your on Our City radio direct from Queens, NYC. Any last shout-outs to dance-music fans and readers from around the world?
CC: I want to thank Barbara Sobel for everything and to all of the artists for the hard work they do to bring us the music that is the backdrop for so many memorable times in our lives. Also any artists looking to get their music heard, contact me and if you are an indie artist of any genre, I will help you get your music promoted for free around the world no matter what genre you create music in. Thank you to all of my colleagues and supporters, keep the emails and posts coming. The more I hear from you, the more I want to do for the music industry and you.

Review of Nick Lion & Ari Gold's "Love Goddess"

Ari Gold
Back in September, I interviewed both producer/songwriter Nick Lion on this blog and singer Ari Gold on Leave It to Beaverhausen. The two teamed up for the song, "Love Goddess," and now the remix e.p. has been released. Find out more by reading my link on my companion blog, Leave It to Beaverhausen:

http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2013/10/nick-lions-love-godess-remixes.html

Link to my interview with Ari: http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2013/08/exclusive-buddy-beaverhausen-q-with-ari.html

Link to my interview with Nick: http://blabittobeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2013/09/q-with-love-goddess-and-icons-nick-lion.html

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Exclusive Q&A with Sheena Rose, "Queen of Clubs"

It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with San Francisco's Sheena Rose about the upcoming release of her new dance single, "Queen of Clubs."  The “Queen of Clubs” EP includes remixes by some of today’s hottest remix producers and circuit DJs from around the world, including LFB, Shayne B, Cindel Coss, Obra, Primitiva, William Bhall, Rafael Starcevic, LiuRosa, William Umana, Junior Silverio, Eduh Silva, Erick Gaudino, Eric Santana, Jossep Garcia, and MJC. 

Special thanks to Barbara Sobel and Sobel Promotions https://www.facebook.com/groups/SobelPromotions/permalink/742698822423663/ for arranging this Q&A.


Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: You have a hot new dance single with remixes, "Queen of Clubs," coming out on October 29th and available on iTunes. How are you feeling about that right now? 
Sheena Rose: I am so excited! I still can't believe it. This project came together so quickly. I jumped at the chance to work with DJ MDW and VButterfly La Mariposa on this record, and there are so many hot mixes on this release from DJs and remix producers from around the world. Its gonna be epic! Everyone is gonna love it! 

DBB: Tell us about the San Francisco release party that follows in November and the music video. 
SR: Oh My God! It is so exciting! I cant wait! DJ MDW and VButterfly are flying in from New York and Miami so all three of us can be together and celebrate the release of our hot new song in my hometown. You know, we actually have never met in person, and the way this project came together so quickly and the release party is happening ~ it's pretty damn amazing! To me it is the icing on the cake. The official San Francisco "Queen of Clubs" Release Party will be held Friday November 8th at DJ Alex's dance party "Release" at Club OMG (43 6th St @ Mission, 9p-2a, Free Admission). My dear friend Carla Gay will be hosting and performing, the simply amazing DJ Tweaka Turner, who is also a great friend of mine, will be DJing and getting the party started, VButterfly and I will be performing our dance music as well as our new hit "Queen of Clubs", and DJ superstar MDW will be spinning from midnight to closing. It's going to be such a hot dance/release party, I hope all my San Francisco peeps can make it out. Unfortunately, there won't be a music video yet, but we will be filming a behind-the-scenes of the release party and our weekend together. 

DBB: Are you a San Francisco native? Or how did you make your way there? 
SR: No, I wish I was! [laughs] I grew up in the Bay Area though, the small town of Martinez to be specific, but I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area my entire life. I moved to San Francisco in 2004 with the boyfriend at the time. We had lost our apartment in San Ramon, and moved in with his mother and her girlfriend. San Francisco was just supposed to be a temporary move for us, but I fell in love with it, so I stayed! 

DBB: What kind of music did you hear growing up? How does it differ from the music you like to listen to now? 
SR: Growing up, it was my dad and mom's '70s rock records like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Rod Stewart. I was born in '79, so I was an '80s kid. By the time I was in grade school, it was all about MTV. I loved the music of Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, Madonna, Prince, George Michael, Tina Turner. Though my favorite music nowadays is dance and house, I still love and listen to all my favorite '70s and '80s artists and records that I grew up on. I remember when Tina Turner came out with her comeback hit, "What's Love Got To Do With It," my mom went and bought it. I remember when she first put that record on, and I was like whoa! Even at that young age, I was like, she is something special. I've always had a soft spot for Tina.  

DBB: What was the first record or cd you ever purchased on your own? 
SR: That was the year Paula Abdul exploded onto the scene with "Forever Your Girl." I wore that tape out. [laughs] 

DBB: How did you get involved in performing? Did you always feel this is what you wanted to do? 
SR: If you had told me back in 2004, when I moved here, that I would become a drag queen and that I'd be performing all over San Francisco and later become an international dance recording artist, I would of laughed and said you were crazy. I have always been kind of a shy person. I think that comes having a very bad stutter growing up. It was so bad that, in grade school, I was afraid to speak in class or read out loud. Though I overcame it eventually, I think it left me kind of shy and guarded. Drag has helped me to become a better person in and out of drag, more open, and much more ambitious. In 2006, a friend of a co-worker (who became my dear drag sister Marcy Playground) took me to my first drag show and I fell in love with it. Something inside me just connected with what these ladies were doing. They were all so gorgeous, hilarious, fierce and entertaining in their own way, I wanted to do it. Two weeks later, I was up there. Though I still get a bit of stage fright and butterflies when I perform at a new club or perform a new song, I can honestly say that I have grown a lot over these last seven years as a drag queen, a performer, a person, an artist. Drag has definitely made me more ambitious and has helped me to take chances in my life. It has helped me to believe in myself and go after my dreams. A couple years ago, though, I started to get bored with just lip-syncing other singers' songs, and was inspired to write, record and perform my own dance music. I don't have the strongest voice in the world; I'm no Mariah Carey, but I have grown to really like and appreciate my voice and style, it works for me. Last April, I released my dance single "Make Me Over", which I co-wrote with my husband, Juan, and my friend, Michael Circhiai (aka Tweaka Turner), produced by the amazing Leo Frappier (LFB), with a ton of hot remixes by big names like, Subgroover, Doctorz MD, DJ MDW, Nina Flowers, Naked Highway and more. The single did pretty well, opened a lot of doors for me, and is being played in clubs all over the world. I have come along way on this journey. This isn't what I wanted to do or had set out to do in life; well, maybe subconsciously I did, but this is what I want to do now and what I feel like I was meant to do. 

DBB: Who are your idols -- the music divas, the movie stars? 
SR: Well, musically, of course, Tina. She really is "Simply the Best." I also love the music of and idolize Macy Gray, Cyndi Lauper, Kristine W, Sylvester, Divine, Amanda Lear, Nina Flowers, Boy George, Jeanie Tracy, Cher, Dolly Parton and more. Now, in terms of music and movies together, the ultimate diva for me is Bette Midler. The Rose is one of my favorite movies of all time, Bette rocked it! 

DBB: Tell us more about your song, "Queen of Clubs" and how that came together ~ from concept to production and release. 
SR: Wow! I am so excited! It came together so quickly! We started the project in June. I had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with Michael Crespo (MDW), he wanted to produce a really hot dance house/vogue track set to some real bitchy, cunty vocals. "Queen of Clubs" were lyrics that I had written in 2011 for, and were inspired by, Nina Flowers, after hearing her single "I'm Feeling Flowers" with MDW. I chickened out and never sent the lyrics to her. Nina Flowers is the queen of the clubs. Little did I know two years later Nina and MDW would contribute remixes for "Make Me Over" and I would be working on a new track with MDW! MDW loved the lyrics and produced a hot banging club track, suggesting Miami-based Puerto Rican house vocalist VButterfly La Mariposa sing on it as well. Of course I said yes. I jumped at the chance to work with VButterfly ~ she is amazing! I love her work with Nina Flowers on "Bailar" and "The Queens," and her classics like "Fuck My Drums" and "Vaporize the DJ." I went into the studio here with Leo Frappier (who remixed "Queen of Clubs" and produced "Make Me Over") and recorded my vocals, and sent them to MDW in New York. By early August, our track was finished, and a ton of hot remixes started pouring in from some of the hottest DJs and remix producers from Miami, New York, San Francisco, Brazil, Mexico, Canada. The cover art is amazing as well. My husband, Juan Duenas (Diva Deluxe Drag, gowns and costumes for plus size queens on Ebay), came up with the Evil Queen concept, designed the black lace gown, beat my face, and shot the cover. I am so very proud of this project, everything came together perfectly. "Queen of Clubs" will drop worldwide October 29th (iTunes, Beatport, Amazon) on the Flava Music label. 

DBB: My readership is international, largely LGBT. Would you care to shout anything out to them? 
SR: That is great. I have so many friends and supporters around the world - having their support in each of my music ventures has meant the world to me. Thank you! I think that we have come so far in the LGBT civil rights movement, in this fight for our rights, but we still have so much more work to do. I feel for all my LGBT brothers and sisters, who because of where they live, they have to live in fear of being persecuted and forced back into the closet, or killed or take their own lives ~ it is just heart breaking. I really feel for all my LGBT brothers and sisters in Russia ~ my heart goes out to them. 

DBB:  What do you see that is wrong in the world today? And what do you see in it that gives you hope? 
SR: I think that we have become so obsessed with technology, I think it has made some people numb and cold. I think we need a little more compassion for others. I feel sometimes we are so quick to judge others that we don't know and turn a blind eye when they are in need. There's something really wrong with society when someone is robbed or attacked by another in a crowd full of people and no one stops to help. They're so quick to whip on their camera phones but not actually stop to help the person in need. I hope that, as a society, we can learn to show a little more compassion and not be so wrapped up in ourselves and our gadgets. 

DBB: I really believe the dancefloor is a great uniter for people all around the world. Do you feel there is inherently power in the messages of dance music and in the tribal gathering of people on the dancefloor? 
SR: Yes I do. That's what dance music is there for. It's there to make you dance and feel good about yourself and forget about your worries. You hear it in the lyrics, the melodies. There's just something about the music and the dancefloor that really brings people together and unite. You really see it and feel it in the gay community; we hit the dance floor for everything! Like the night Obama won the election and Prop 8 passed here in California, even though the night was bittersweet for the LGBT community, we still closed Castro Street down and had a dance party and rally in the streets. That kind of unity gives you hope and inspires you. 

DBB: Sheena Rose, thank you for your time and thoughtfulness in answering these questions. We look forward to the release of "Queen of Clubs." Are there any last words you'd like to leave with my readers and me? 
SR: Thank you so much for all your love and support in what I do, it means everything to me. If you are in San Francisco, come down and see me at Dream Queens Revue (2nd/4th Wednesdays) and Hot Boxxx Girls (2nd/4th Fridays & 1st/3rd Saturdays) at Aunt Charlie's Lounge. Don't forget to get "Queen of Clubs" with DJ MDW and VButterfly La Mariposa October 29th, and watch for my holiday single "Just Can't Wait ('Til Christmas)" with LFB and Gypsy Love ~ available December 3rd on iTunes!

When You Care to Send the Very Best: Nick Lion Productions

Does promoter Nick Lion know how to a package his promos or what? This package came UPS today. Two copies of his dance remix cd, one signed by Nick on the plastic wrap. This is what I call a beautiful presentation, people. The cards are from Lion Productions, Music Promotions and Management and Nick Lion, Songwriter Producer.

I interviewed Nick here last month: http://blabittobeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2013/09/q-with-love-goddess-and-icons-nick-lion.html
Great interview. Look forward to the opening of his NYC club, Icon, this season!

Thanks for everything, Nick! Truly appreciated!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Three Divas and The Marble Faun: Links

Interviews fascinate me because lives are so diverse and surprising. There are no cookie-cutter people. I'm bringing over my early Q&As from my "Mother Blog," Leave It to Beaverhausen, here, where I want all my interviews to be accessible. Eventually the rest of my Q&As will emmigrate here as well.

Debby Holiday was my first diva. This was great fun for me, and the interview took place during Pride season in 2012:
http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2012/06/buddy-bs-exclusive-q-with-debby-holiday.html

Amber Dirks was another sweetheart; it was such a pleasure to interview her as well. Oh my God, all the divas who I've spoken to and long admired have turned out to be so warm and forthcoming:
http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2012/07/exclusive-q-with-dance-diva-amber-dirks.html

Carol Hahn is thoughtful and kept it real and truthful. I learned so many things about her that I didn't know before (like her jingles and voice-over work):
http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2012/09/exclusive-q-with-diva-of-dance-music.html
And then there's Jerry Torre, The Marble Faun from "Grey Gardens," who kindly shared his fascinating life with us from Grey Gardens and beyond. I was riveted by his conversation, especially what he told me about the Beals, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwell:
http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2013/05/q-with-marble-faun-of-grey-gardens.html
Thanks to everyone reading my EXCLUSIVE Q&As here at Blab It to Beaverhausen! There's so much more blab and gab, and dish and dirt to come. Also, don't forget visit my blog
http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/  for the best in on-line infotainment!



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Talk with Larry Costa on The Bill Russo Show

You can blab with Larry Costa on your own! Call him.

From Mr. C on Facebook:

Hey Everyone! Do you want to talk with me tomorrow on the phone? Call in to the radio interview... LET'S HAVE FUN!!! I might even sing to you!

The Bill Russo Show starts at 7 pm goes to 8 pm. We will be taking calls phone # is 212-590-2490 website is www.cityworldradio.com and on cell phone APP: TuneIn Radio


So call! I might.  

http://blabittobeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2013/09/q-with-larry-costa.html 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exclusive Q&A with Janice Robinson Part 2

Janice & Taylor Dayne, for whom she wrote "Naked Without You" and more
Part 2 of my interview with Janice Robinson. She wrote and sang "Sweetest Day of May" and she is truly the Sweetest Diva of All Seasons. It was such a pleasure to interview her. Especially as she's from Garfield, NJ and I'm from Paterson, NJ, so we share that regional bond. (NJ people united!) Janice shared some personal images with me and I posted a couple here.

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: I love your song,"Earthbeat" which appeared on the Centaur Pride album, 1998 Pride. It was the first club song I recall that eloquently addressed the issue of the environment. What moved you to write that?
Janice Robinson: Actually, "Earthbeat" was a Manifesto Record. It was on Mercury. I was given tracks by Stonebridge with another songwriter. I called her up and asked, "Girl, which song do you like?" She said ["Earthbeat"]. I said, "Me, too!" Her name is Michelle Lewis and she's one of my best friends. I owe so much to her. She got a record deal with Warner Brothers and I got a record deal with Warner Bothers. Then she got a publishing deal and I got a publishing deal and we were always in tandem in our careers and great friends to this day. But we wrote "Earthbeat" together and she is such a great visual writer, and I was coming from such a spiritual place. To this day, it's one of my favorite songs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmwan2pu79U

DBB: One of my fave albums last year was David Morales' Changes. Your song, "Do You Believe?" is just great! What was it like recording with such a legendary producer and then touring internationally with him and the other divas?
JR: I was able to do a few appearances outside of the country and in New York. You know, he is David Morales! He is epic! He's an epic person. In his house, he has a big dj set-up and he was playing my song. We'd finished the record and I was so used to seeing him with thousands of people dancing. But here I was having this epic moment with a legendary dj in his house! Very surreal. I was crying because it sounded so good. And he was so loving and so nurturing to me and so amazing, and it was a moment I'll never forget. I love David very much. He was one of the producers of "Earthbeat."

DBB: Was there ever a time in your life that you thought you might leave the music industry altogether?
JR: Yes! All the time! But, you know, every time I think about leaving, I get another confirmation of why I can't go.
DBB: Thank God!
JR: I get an e-mail or a letter from someone whose life I changed, I touched, I inspired. Then I realize it's not about the number of records I sell, it's about the lives I impact with my gifts [that] come from God. I always try to be responsible with my gift, I always try to write from a sincere, real place. What makes me so proud is that, when I look back at my body of work, it's an amazing amount of substance. "If It Wasn't for Love," which I wrote for Deborah Cox, that's my testimony. God is Love! And, you know, my gay fans... every Gay Pride, every time I go out and I sing and there's a rainbow flag, or I'm n a gay club, those are reminders of how much love is out there. That's why I stay in it [the music business] and won't be squeezed out by a bunch of fluff.

DBB: What do you think about the state of dance music today?
Janice and her dad, the late Rev. Joseph J. Robinson
JR: When people gather and there is a dj, it's an experience. As a teenager, I went to the tail-end of Paradise Garage. Listen, that gave me enough to know what it is! And I got to experience the days of Junior Vasquez and Hex Hector and the Italian djs. Going out to dance is a relief, an experience, an emotion. Several elements take this experience to a higher level. The music, the mood, the lighting, the dj and the records he plays. The beat, the beat, the music! And there are lyrics that bring out the spirit of rejoicing. Dancing is a form of rejoicing and releasing! With some of today's electronica, it's missing a song, it's missing a story! An entire generation's getting cheated out of the ultimate experience! They give them strobe lights and great light shows but they're not giving them the songs.
DBB: You put that so well. I agree.
JR: Say there's a sexually confused young person on the dance floor. He's not hearing any lyrics that might help him to come out!

DBB: That actually leads me to ask if there's anything you'd like to say to your LGBT fans.
JR: Listen, to those LGBT fans, I wouldn't have stayed in the music industry if it wasn't for them. I would've left. I would've gone into anonymity. It's been such a great journey... and they continue to show up in my life. I have the most fantastic fans from this community. I mean, they have Lady Gaga and they have Madonna and I'm glad. I'm glad they have other artists they love! But they are the lifeline to my soul musically. They keep me feeling alive and keep their presence in my life. I wouldn't change it for anything! Every Pride I get to do, I am in their faces, hugging, telling them they're beautiful, kissing and reassuring them. I'm really grateful to who my core fan base is. I feel that I'm not forgotten.
DBB: Oh my God, no, never!
JR: I feel loved.

DBB: One last question if you will. Many other dance divas recorded your songs and have had Billboard club hits with them....
JR: How do I feel about that?
DBB: Yes.
JR: Taylor Dayne was the first major artist to sing a song I wrote. After that it was like Reina... Kristine W... Abigail, Frenchie Davis, Deborah Cox and on and on and on. And I was like, "Wow!" It feels like my gift is such a huge gift that I'm able to share it with other artists, and have a place in each of those artists' careers. I feel very humbled by that because I feel, when they stand onstage and sing my words, I know my spirit is there. I know I am giving a certain energy to the fans. If I can't be in front of the fans singing, this is second best. For my fans, sometimes I do a little medley [of songs written for others] and they go, "Oh, my God!" [Laughs.] I did a show in Orlando this past May and sang these hits and then I sang "Dreamer." And let me tell you something: that show was so hot!
DBB: I'll bet!
JR: Because it was just back-to-back! Rejoicing my songs and I choked up because each song is a testimony that I shared. And it's amazing.

DBB: Janis, thank you so much.
JR: Thanks. I loved talking to you.
DBB: Me too.
JR: Goodnight.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Exclusive Q&A with Janice Robinson Part 1

I was so excited about finally doing this Q&A with one of my all-time favorite divas, Ms Janice Robinson. I was to call her at our arranged time and I was recording our conversation. My notes and questions were written down and at the ready. I rearranged my things on the table in the "Green Room," where I have my computer and conduct all interviews, cleaning the table and finally setting down my new tablecloth. Perfect! You'd think she was actually coming over!

Prior to our interview, she sent me a link so I could hear her new, inspirational collection of recorded songs. Janis has a magnificent voice and writes such exquisite music and lyrics, it was heaven. But, sorry, I promised not to pass it on.

"You are the only person that is a journalist that I have shared my new music with...," Janice messaged me. I was charmed, therefore, before we even got to speak. Then charmed even further once we did speak!  And, to up the ante, I'm a Jersey boy and she's a Jersey girl!

What followed was an amazing, animated and revealing interview I decided is so rich, it is best digested in parts. (Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.)

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: I've got the recorder on. Are you still there?
Janice Robinson: I'm heeere!

DBB: [laughs] Thanks so much for doing this Q&A with me. This is so exciting! You recently went out to L.A. and recorded an album. Can you give us any information about that?
JR: Well, I went to write songs with a bunch of different people. I wouldn't call it an album. I went to L.A. to have a creative outburst. Most of my my favorite producers are there and I was able to work with a lot of great people. Most of the time, I get tracks sent to me and I write to them and, while I was living in N.J., I was able to record right in the basement of my house.

DBB: You recently moved to south Florida....
JR: Yes!
DBB: What's that like?
JR: It's... peaceful..., it's really slow and it's really beautiful weather. But I kinda feel like I really needed it. I needed this slow pace... to prepare me for the next phase of my journey as an artist, as a woman and as a mom!
 
DBB: Since you mentioned being a mom, how do you juggle your career, writing music, recording and touring? Seems like a lot of multi-tasking!
JR: I have no idea. I have no idea! Know how I handle it?
DBB: How?
JR: My kids are super-happy at home and, a lot of times, I write when they go to sleep or are in school and, then, when I have to travel, I have the most amazing support system of babysitters, friends, family. I usually have a five-finger rule: Mommie leaves Thumbday but I'm always back by a Pinkyday!
DBB: [Laughs.] That's so cute.
JR: Sometimes I have to leave on a two-hand day, you know? But they always know I'm going to come back by the end of that Pinkyday. Kind of the system I raised them both on so they can count the days. The greatest feeling is when I come home from being away. They're a joy....
DBB: A livin' joy!
JR: Yes, a living joy! They're excitement; they're beyond amazing.

DBB: Let's talk about "Dreamer" if you don't mind. It was such a huge hit when it came out and you recorded it with Livin' Joy. In fact, it was their biggest hit. Although you previously did "Sweetest Day of May" and "Children" with them, what did it feel like to suddenly find yourself with a huge international club hit that crossed over to radio as well?
JR: You know what? It was very surreal. And it's a moment that ~ when it was happening ~ everything was like Flashcards! You know, like boom, boom, boom! It was like: Push! But why I'm so glad I left working with the producers of Livin' Joy is I believe in freedom and I felt that situation wasn't enough for all I was aspiring to be. It wasn't satisfying creatively. There's so much more to me; God gave me such a huge gift! When I think about all the music I've written for other artists, sometimes I scratch my head [because] my own career has seemed like a flash. Before you know it, here I am, twenty years later and 34 singles released, not just by me but also by other people, and I'm really amazed by it. I may not have a superwriter name like Diane Warren but I've carved out my own little niche; my own little amazing body of work. And it's something I can be proud of. Something that's a strong representation of me spiritually because it's not just fluff! It's not a bunch of fluff lyrics like "Move your body, shake your body...." Know what I'm saying?
DBB: [Laughs] Oh, yeah, absolutely!
JR: It's substance, it's quality, it's melodic. It's fun because when people say, "You're a legend, I giggle to myself. When I go back and look at my body of work and songs like "Let the Joy Rise"(which was recorded by Abigail)....
DBB: Oh, man, I love that song. It was such a club smash at the time.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SdqtrmYJMI
JR: That captured a moment in my life! I wrote that song as a cathartic way to deal with my feelings. I was leaving Livin' Joy but going to let my joy rise. At the time [I was with Livin' Joy], I couldn't use my own name because I was under contract with Joe T. Vanelli. I wish they did use my name. But it's ok.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdzVqTR_R4g

DBB: Which leads me to the next question. You had a very successful revival in 2005, re-recorded by you and with several remixers, that made "Dreamer" a dance floor hit all over again. Why did you feel the need to re-do and release that number? (And I'm happy to say I own a copy of that cd maxi-single.)
JR: Yes. I re-released it and it had some great remixes, then re-released again (I think in 2009). It was an Avicii remix. Before Avicii was Avicii, honey, I had an Avicii remix!
DBB: The song's a classic.
JR: And it feels good to know it's a classic. It's my own little special feeling to have a classic under my belt!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Q&A with The Engin33r and LoDo of Ash to Jazzy Music

It was a joy to do this Q&A with Lauren Donnelly Surratt ("LoDo") and her husband, Tristan Surratt ("The Engin33r"), not only because Lauren is my second cousin but because she and Tristan are not only life partners but partners in Ash to Jazzy Productions, a fresh, new indy hip hop label (http://www.ashytojazzy.com/). In conducting this interview, I got to understand hip hop in a new and more analytic way. It gave me hope about the genre's future as our dynamic duo discussed that music in a progressive and thoughtful manner, explaining their aesthetic and the evolution of 21st Century hip hop as a possible entertainment vehicle for peace, love and understanding.


Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Your production company/label, Ashy to Jazzy, is described as "a production crew consisting of two husband and wife teams, with the ultimate goal of having the greatest positive impact on society as we can." You're one of the teams. Tell us something about the other half of your company.
The Engin33r: My brother Adrian (aka Dree) and his wife Jessica are two really good people. Dree has been creating beats and writing music since he was in middle school. He and Jessica met in high school, and got married at the age of 20. Both of them are hard workers and kind souls, a rare breed. We'd be hard pressed to pick out better people to help bear the load of running this business.  

DBB: What motivated you to go into the crazy music business and start this venture?
LoDo: The Workin Class, Dree and Unknown were wrapping up their first project (EP "Clocking In"), and Sonar Eclipse, The Engin33r and Dree had started their first project (EP "Level One"). We were weighing out options for platforms and methods to release The Workin Class and contacting labels, talking about indie versus major label. But we realized that we had all the elements we needed to build our own platform. And we had something that many artists lacked: a team. The strength in numbers approach. 
TE: It's also a matter of doing what you love. Confucius says, 'Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life." 

DBB: You say you want to have "the greatest positive impact on society" you can. In what way?  
LD: I was raised to be aware of how my actions may impact others. Art and music, especially in this digital age, has become a very opportunistic culture. I see a lot of online communities or labels that are exploiting a culture and art form for the sake of making a name for themselves or making some cash money. I see a lot of hip hop blogs and writers that spend a majority of their focus on gossip and negative stories. So for me, I want my work to have a positive impact. I have no interest in filling our reader's/listener's/fan's subconscious with brain-rotting content. I want our content to make our fans think more and feel better about themselves. We know our content isn't for everyone and that's okay. I'd rather keep my conscience than sell poison to the masses.

TE: We aim to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves. If everyone did this, we'd have the ultimate society... we're just trying to do our part. 

DBB: You both have written very eloquently on my companion blog, Leave It to Beaverhausen. Tristan, you wrote about hip hop and the LGBT community (http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-engineer33r-my-first-guest-blogger.html) and Lauren, your essays on  about women & hip hop were posted there (http://djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com/2013/07/women-hip-hop-by-lauren-lodo-surratt-to.html?showComment=1373916884956#c731446136394762539). Could you expand on the social issues or concerns you see within today's hip hop music and culture?  
LD: Hip hop has always been a platform for social issues, it's a culture founded out of oppression. Unfortunately in the past decade, the mainstream hip hop world, which is controlled by "the suits" of major record labels, has presented a very "watered-down" version. For me, a big concern is that the mainstream platform is very heavy on the "party and bullshit"... you know, the "party" where you "pop a bottle, pop a molly", all the women are B's and H's, and it's acceptable to use homophobic slurs casually. Unfortunately, that's a smaller percentage of hip hop but it receives the most focus. Kids are drawn to hip hop, and many of them are only exposed to the mainstream/radio content. So we have a bunch of "adults" talking about "life" as a party...I just wonder what these kids are taking away. Don't get me wrong, I like to party too, but I also like scholarly conversations, love, meditating....without a balance in life we tend to have problems, and I'm concerned about the problems these kids growing up on this content are going to have. But there are lot of artists making real efforts to change that.
TE: I'm glad you thought it eloquent! Lauren said it best, there is a resurgence of social consciousness coming into society's collective awareness. This has been reflected in hip hop as well. Major labels have industrialized it (hip hop), manufactured it, and distilled it down to what they consider to be the key elements (Money, Cars, B's). Real hip hop challenges the status quo and encourages you to think critically.  

DBB: What attracted you both to hip hop music to begin with?  
LDBoth my big brothers were into hip hop so they introduced me to all different artists. I think early on it was the sampling, I would hear a track that was chopped up with a sample from "my parent's music." So it was familiar but different. But it was the female mc's like Queen Latifah, Da Brat, MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, Ladybug Mecca that really drew me in. I was a "tomboy," which I hate that word but people understand it. I never really wore "girly" clothes and didn't really fit in with most girls so to see strong women who said what they wanted to say, wore the clothes they wanted to wear, to me that was like "wow, this is totally me!" The idea of making something out of nothing and accepting people as they are struck a chord with me. 

TE: Much like LoDo, I was introduced to hip hop by my older brother.  We'd only be able to listen to it while my parents weren't around or while wearing headphones (Bone Thungs and Biggie anyway), but I loved it the moment I first heard it. I've been in performance arts all my life (Piano, Drums, Theatre, Chorus), and I just loved how hip hop was kind of a mash up of three of my favorite things... poetry, percussion, and music. I was always astonished how some MC's could blend their voice into the beat, almost as if it was another piece of percussion, all while sliding in thought-provoking lyrics and complex similes.   

DBB: I have something of a confession to make to our readers. Lauren's dad is my cousin, Walter, and I know the kind of music he and I listened to growing up and into our adult years. I know we were no strangers to rap and embraced the music of the Sugar Hill Gang in the late '70s-early '80s. I was wondering what music you both grow up with? What music influenced you in your respective homes?  
LD: Wow, what didn't they play in our house is the real question! Music was always playing in our house, we never had cable until maybe when I was in high school. Our house was like a jukebox, everything from classic rock to r&b to jazz to classical to pop, didn't really listen to any Country though. Sade, Enya, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Buffet, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Bette Midler, Bruce Springstein, Whitney Houston. I remember my older brother's friends used to play a game where they'd turn the radio to any random station to see if they could stump him, but about 98% of the time he'd be able to sing along and know the artist and song title. I remember being so surprised because I thought it was normal to listen to so many different genres. Even til this day my (and my siblings') friends talk about how my parents were always playing music and how much they loved it. 
TE: Before 7th grade, I lived in Nebraska in a place that could only be categorized as a farm town off of the interstate. As you could imagine, we didn't get much top 40 or hip hop stations out there. It wasn't till I moved to Florida that I got introduced to pop culture and anything other than classic rock and country music. My dad listened to a lot of Elvis, Pink Floyd, Queen.... When we moved to Florida, we listened to more Top 40 music around the house (and hip hop more privately).

DBB: Ch-check it out: At last week's awesome Blondie concert at Roseland, the band did an amazing rendition of "Rapture" and segued into Beastie Boy's "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." And, again thinking about the Sugar Hill Gang, it seems to me as if, at the outset of rap/hip-hop/punk rap/rapcore, it was not about macho posturing, sexism, homophobia and violence. At what point do you think things changed? And do you see things culturally evolving or changing in that genre of music again?  
LD: I think a big turning point was when major record labels started representing artists and we started to hear more hip hop on the radio, so about the early 2000's. The purpose of a major label is "we're going to loan you money, so we're going to control you". It's tough to control the content of an educated/intelligent artist that is part of the "fight the power" and "peace love" movement, but I think another part is that the labels were giving people what they thought they wanted to hear and what they thought would sell the most. Hip hop started in mostly black neighborhoods, with a majority of mc's being black males, so when it came time to "sell" it to mostly white neighborhoods, I think it was easier to sell the "image" that they thought the average white consumer might be familiar with (and let's face it, the "black man as an activist" is not something that media portrays on a large scale). But I believe that the internet and the independent music movement is going to and is in the process of changing this, people are getting sick of being force-fed the garbage we see in mainstream media outlets (like the news and radio) and are turning to alternative means via the Internet. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ("Same Love") is a perfect example of the power and control you have as an independent artist. 
TE: The evolution of the music industry has already started, as LoDo pointed out. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are an example of exactly why we started Ashy to Jazzy in the first place... to be free from corporate influence and produce music we can feel good about.  Any of the real hip hop heads know what I'm talking about, the story has been told again and again; a young up-and-comer puts out a bunch of independent music and the people love it..  then artist gets signed... all of the sudden they are talking about BS, carving up their bodies with plastic surgery and encouraging consumerism, sexism and bigotry.  Very few escape this paradigm and continue to put out good music, but they are met with heavy resistance (See Lupe Fiasco).  With all of our new technology and social media, there is no longer a need for the major label.  A decent USB mic, a few hundred dollars in software, and the willingness to learn is all you need to get yourself heard in a way that has never been seen before. Things are certainly evolving (and for the better if you ask me).  

DBB: How did you two meet? And what made you decide to tie the knot?  
LD: Well it was "chemistry." We met in college, FGCU! Go Eagles! We were lab partners in our college chemistry. I started taking chemistry my freshman year but was not doing so hot so withdrew and decided to take it the next year. Best class I've ever failed the first time around!
TE: I'm actually in the process of writing a song called "Chemistry", which will be on the new EP coming soon. It's about how we met. We dated for four years and eventually I couldn't put it off any more. Neither of us were the "get married" type, but we figured we might as well, considering we had no plans of breaking up and wanted some tax benefits. We're relatively non-traditional... we organized a flashmob dance to interrupt our first dance. (You can find the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_kHV1ZtT6o)

DBB: Tell us more about Ash to Jazzy's music, specifically The Workin Class and Sonar Eclipse and their recorded releases.  
LD: The Workin Class, for those not familiar, are mc/lyricist Unknown and producer/super-beat-maker Dree. They've been working together for a few years and dropped their first EP last year called "Clocking In." They just released their second EP titled "Daydream" in July which is a prelude to their upcoming album. We're really excited about their upcoming project, it's a concept double-album and will be titled "American Dream/American Nightmare (ADAN)." First single from the album will be coming soon. Release date for the album isn't set yet but we can tell you that you are in for quite a treat. We've seen them grow just between Clocking In and Daydream, they definitely exceeded our expectations with Daydream so we're preparing ourselves to be blown away by ADAN. 
TE: Sonar Eclipse is a group comprised of myself and Dree, our first EP was released last year called "Level: One". We're currently working on another project which is being kept secret for the time being. The concept of the name "Sonar Eclipse" is a metaphor, we block out the 'noise' of mainstream hip hop. Like a solar eclipse, but with sound.

DBB: Lauren, please explain your hip hop-influenced nickname, LoDo, to us. And, Tristan, how did you decide on the name The Engin33r?  
LD: You know, everyone likes the shortened nicknames (JLo, ARod, etc). A friend said it as a joke one day, it's a combination of my full government maiden name Lauren Donnelly, LoDo. But it just stuck, and everyone started calling me LoDo.
TE: I always thought it was unique to be a rapper and engineer. It isn't very common in the engineering industry to be into music (much less hip hop), nor is it common for rappers to be engineers. I figured it'd be easy to remember and hard to forget. The '3's instead of 'E's is a nod to my nerd friends ("LEET" speak) and also make it easier to find me in search engines.  

DBB: One thing I love having learned about people I've interviewed is that everyone reached a level of success through hard work, of course, but through various means and, often, out-of-the-blue opportunities. Do you have a grand plan right now for Ashy to Jazzy? Where would you like to be in, say, three years with the label and what you're creating?  
LD: Currently a couple different short-term and long-term projects in the works that we're not ready to announce yet. But in three years, national tour and some international touring, and helping to build the arts and music scene in our community here in Orlando. Definitely additional artists on the aToJ label, adding additional contributing writers

DBB: May I say I think you're doing an excellent job of promoting your music and sending out positive vibes? I truly believe music has the power to unite us. Thank you for this interview. Lots of love your way. And what might you like to say directly to my readers around the world? Any last shout-outs?  
LD: Yes, you may absolutely say that! And always enjoy the read from Buddy B! To your readers, be on the lookout for The Workin Class's upcoming album, American Dream/American Nightmare and also be on the lookout for the last 2 parts of my 5-part series on "women and hip hop." I'll be making an announcement in part 5 which I'm really excited about. Lots of love back to you and thanks for having us! A shout out to my Mom and Pops for molding me into the quirky person I am and, of course, a shout out to our aToJ family Dree Jessica and Unknown!
TE: Thanks a bunch, Buddy B, as always you're on point with some thought-provoking questions! Much love goes out to my family and friends. If I could leave your readers with one message, let it be this: Be who you are and do what you love. Happiness isn't a destination, its a journey... enjoy it! Don't dwell in the past or worry about the future, just be present.... Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Q&A with Matt Alber


Matt Alber is an incredible talent and yet such a modest guy. Openly gay, he possesses a beautiful voice and is a brilliant songwriter. It was my privilege to interview this great contemporary talent who was a most gracious interviewee. Thanks to Barbara Sobel and Sobel Promotions for arranging this Q&A! Please check out Matt's web: http://m46882.wix.com/mattalberofficial

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Hi Matt, and thank you for doing this Q&A with me. We have a lot of LGBT club music fans around the globe reading Blab It, so I would like to begin by saying your song, "End of the World," has new dance remixes coming up. What do you think about its continued popularity and remixing revivals?

Matt Alber: Heya Charles! My pleasure. There were some very cool remixes of "End of the World" (Morgan Page & Saul Ruiz). My newest remixes are for a song called "Tightrope." I teamed up with a brilliant producer named Reddfield and it turned out so great, we decided to shoot a music video for one of his mixes. I play four characters in the video who all bust a move ~ complete with a surprise ending you won't want to miss.

DBB: Cool. I recall reading you wrote "End of the World" on a bus in San Francisco. Is that a true story?
MA: Yes indeed. I was working in North Beach as a performer in a Vaudeville-style show called Beach Blanket Babylon at the time, and I had to take the 30 Stockton through Chinatown to get there. Things were on thin ice with the fellow I was in love with at the time, and I scribbled down the first verse and chorus on the back of my bank statement. I still have it, actually. I should probably take it out of that drawer and frame it!

DBB: Could you fill us in on your childhood, what it was like? And who would you list as your musical influences growing up?
MA: Sure. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri in the suburbs working at fast-food chains after school, going to church like three times a week, and singing on the weekends with a city-wide choir. I loved going to choir practice, but the church we went to was really homophobic so it was very difficult to be there. I sort of bought their story hook, line and sinker and for a few years. I prayed to be changed into a straight person. But thankfully, my prayers were answered in a totally unexpected way ~ nothing changed. I ended up leaving the church and finding a better definition of God and what it means to be a man. I'm so happy I'm gay. The world would be so boring if everyone were the same, so I'm glad I get to experience life as a gay man (this time around, anyway.)
    As for musical influences, when I was a kid, I pretty much listened to the 10 free CD's I got from BMG Music Club. To name a few… Elton John, REO Speedwagon, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and INXS. I still owe them $15.99 I think. Weren't you supposed to buy one? I should get on that...

DBB: You were part of the Grammy-winning group, Chanticleer. What was involved in your becoming a member? And could you please tell us about the experience of performing/recording with them?
MA: I got to tour for five years with Chanticleer, which is an a cappella classical men's group based in San Francisco. It was a dream come true to move to California and singing with those 12 guys taught me a helluva lot about singing and about life on the road. Two of the albums I made with the guys won Grammy Awards, so that was pretty amazing. We gave 100 concerts a year all over the globe and worked with thousands of students along the way.

DBB: What was the first song you ever sang as a soloist? And what is the personal favorite song you've recorded to date?
MA: The first solo I ever sang was "Do You Hear What I Hear?" during a Christmas pageant. I think I was 8 years old. I just recently sang that song again in Austin, TX with my dear friend Craig Johnson. He directs a choir there called Conspirare, and in the middle of the big concert, I got to go and sit next to him on the piano bench and sing in harmony with him. Songs are pretty cool little things. As for a favorite song I've recorded, I really enjoyed making a song with my brother Bryce called "Brother Moon." It's on my most recent album called Constant Crows.

DBB: How do you see your evolution or progression as an artist at this point?
MA: You know, man, I just keep trying to make the most honest music I can make and collaborate with other people doing the same. I'm really lucky because I have a very loyal group of listeners who come to my shows and support the new projects I'm working on. There's been a bit of evolution towards singing with men's choruses which is really cool. I'm singing with three of them this December: Washington D.C.'s group, Twin Cities in Minneapolis, and my hometown chorus in San Francisco.

DBB: What would you call your biggest break or best opportunity, so far, in your career?
MA: The day my dear friend Robin Scovil said "Yes!" to making a music video with me in a barbershop. Everything changed from that moment on. I got to be involved in every step of the process from concept to costume to the editing room and I was amazed at the craft and attention to detail the team brought to the project. My dad and brother even came and spent the weekend on set with me. And now I get emails almost every day from someone who stumbles onto it and is moved enough to write to me.

DBB: Could you tell us how you'd describe your sound? Your voice? Your style of songwriting?
MA: Sure thing. I'm an acoustic singer/songwriter and I write the story of my life and heart into my songs. I do my best to capture moments and memories and wrestle through my emotions using melodies and chords. But you know, you can talk about style 'til the cows come home. It's a lot easier to answer that question with a pair of headphones. My music plays for free from my site: www.mattalber.com.


DBB: Thanks for the link, Matt! Please share news about what you have upcoming for us.
MA: The biggest news I have to share is the release of a new music video for my song TIGHTROPE. It goes live online at midnight on Halloween from my channel: www.youtube.com/mattalber. We're releasing a remix EP as well with several different remixes by some amazing producers including Reddfield, The Spekrfreks, Saul Ruiz, and Paul Goodyear. Folks can check it all out by visiting my site: www.mattalber.com

DBB: Your views on what's going on in Russia right now in terms of LGBT rights and the winter Olympics? What do you think about Elton John's decision to perform there?
MA: You know, I've sung in Russia on two separate trips ~ once in high school and once in college. I found the people to be some of the most warm and welcoming folks I'd ever met. Governments often get it wrong, and Russia is no exception here. I really feel for the queer community living in Russia and I hope they are banding together to weather this storm. I'm glad Sir Elton is going to perform and I hope it forces Russia's hand to make the right decision and reverse their destructive policies.

DBB: Finally, any last shout-outs to our readership, Matt?
MA: I thank you so much for your time; it was sincerely a privilege to conduct this Q&A with you.
It's been my pleasure, man. I'd love to give a last shout out to my younger brother, Bryce Alber. He's an incredible musician in Los Angeles and he goes by a different name as an artist ~ it's Lou Jane. It's just full of heart and passion and beautiful powerful melodies. But his lyrics are just epically gorgeous and will stay with you forever. Folks can listen to his music at www.loujanemusic.com

Below, a link to the video for the original version of "End of the World":

Monday, October 7, 2013

Q&A with Clubland's Ray Guell

Ray Guell's mom and dad have said he started dancing before he could walk. They must have known they had a future star on their hands. Ray started as a freestyle artist who, in 1996, had an album released called You Took My Heart. Ray evolved into a more hi-NRG, positive-vibe style of club music that has captivated crowds around the globe. It was my distinct privilege to have the opportunity to have him blab with Beaverhausen.

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Thank you for doing this Q&A, Ray. My blog has an international readership of dance-music fans and you have an international fan base, so let's put it out there about you for all the club-music people.
Ray Guell: Sure, yes I am very lucky to have such a wide international range of support.

DBB: You were born in Miami but left to continue your studies in L.A. where you landed a lead role in the Spanish language production of A Chorus Line. Could you tell us how that all came about? I understand you were planning on an acting career; not one in music.
RG: When I graduated from junior college here in Miami, it was either New York or Los Angeles. There wasn't much happening at that time here in Miami. My first choice would have been New York, but things just worked out to go to L.A. I was financing my own education and California paid for college for it's residents. It was touchy, I worked two jobs, one with the telephone company (GTE) and then the evenings at an art house movie theater (The Nuart). They used to play all the John Waters (Divine) movies and all the cult films. My main dream was to make it on Broadway and in motion pictures or TV. I never really focused on the music industry because I really did not think of myself as a vocalist. I was a great actor who danced well and could carry a tune. I was very insecure of my vocal ability and, I must confess, I still am today.
DBB: I have to say I find that very surprising!
RG: At one point on the insistence of a friend, I auditioned for a Spanish production of A Chorus Line. I knew the show well as it was my favorite Broadway musical. So I went to the audition which was full of seasoned actors, I got two call backs (to my suprise) and finally got the part.

DBB: Returning to Florida, you joined a New Wave band as lead vocalist. You were consequently signed on the Futura Records label but as a solo performer. Did that create any hard feelings at the time?
RG: It was awkward and it was a tough decision but the members of the band had one vision, and I really wasn't comfortable in that New Wave band and [with] their vision. They all looked the part and I was a clean-cut looking guy. They all wore black eyeliner and looked very gothic and it was always a struggle to fit the look of the band. I loved the look but, really, I could not pretend to be something or look like something that just wasn't me.

DBB: Did you ever imagine you'd be a dance-music artist? What were your tastes in dance music like beforehand; who were some of your favorite groups and/or vocalists in this genre?
RG: Well, I never did imagine myself being a dance artist, although I loved dance music. Actually, I am a disco baby. While growing up, I listened to a lot of Motown and Salsa, and as I grew into my teens, it was dance music in the forefront. My idol was Donna Summer. But I loved Thelma Houston, Roberta Kelly, Lime, France Joli, Sylvester, Grace Jones... gosh, I am really dating myself. Well, my dance influences came from the late 70's. Then it continued in the 80's. I was a huge Madonna fan. I actually remember catching her at the small clubs when she would do her track act. Then, of course, she exploded. But to be honest, I also have a lot of influences when it comes to music. I love r & b, I love some genres of jazz, I even like Barbara Streisand. Then there is my other idol, Celia Cruz. She is part of my Cuban culture. I could sit here and just name drop artists, so we could stay on this subject all day long..... So I will cut this one short so I don't bore you. And I also love Broadway music.....gotta add that.
DBB: And I wasn't bored one bit!

DBB: Your song "Just Another Lover" was a hit in New York, California, Miami and in all major regional United States markets and throughout Canada, Europe and Brazil. That must have been a thrill! Was this your first release on Futura?
DBB: Yes it was. To be honest, when it was happening it was very surreal. Hearing my song on the radio for the first time was crazy. Then, when my friends would constantly call me to tell me my song was on the radio, it got a bit embarrassing.... but still thrilling. Wow, I had not thought about that in a long time! It was a crazy time... I remember people calling me asking "is that you?" As I said, I never was very confident of my vocal ability so I did not really tell a lot of people what I was doing. When it exploded, it caught a lot of my friends by surprise.

DBB: In 2010, you teamed up with the renowned dance-music producer Giuseppe D. How did that collaboration come about?
RG:  Giuseppe, or Pepi as I call him, was part of the environment and [one of the] people I was working with. So, we actually have known each other for many, many years. Eventually we hooked up and started collaborating together. He is super-talented, knows my voice and style, so we work well together, I think.

DBB: Your first effort together was the fabulous "Love Is the Answer." I read on your web page [http://www.rayguell.com/] that the song is still " burning up the air waves and dance floors in Brazil with... new added mixes...." Share with us what the dance scene is like in Brazil and your continuing popularity there. Can you describe what motivated you to write that song? And did you suspect you had a hit on your hands?
RG: Well, "Love Is the Answer" has a universal message. I was motivated to write that track because, at the time, there was a lot going on regarding discrimination as to who you are supposed to love or not. We were at war and I felt our government was not being forthcoming with information and that religion was being used as a reason for wars. I really don't like to discuss politics, so I won't. But I may write about it or sing about it. I just had something really important to say in the lyric of that song. I did not set out to write it that way though, but I just wasn't feeling a "love song". No, I did not suspect it was going to be a hit.

DBB: New remixes are on hand this month of your song "Haunting Visions." You wrote it in memory of your father. Could you talk about what motivated you to ultimately put these feelings into a song?
RG: When I sat down to write a new song, I was just not feeling creative. Words did not come easy. I was not in a good place emotionally. I had been suppressing my feelings because I was keeping my entire family together while everyone was falling apart, or so it seemed to me. Who knows, maybe I was just imagining that. So, I took a step back and sort of allowed myself to surrender to what I was feeling. I usually write lyrics in prose or poem form. Then I tailor it to song.... Well, once I opened up, the words came and it was somewhat therapeutic. Because I had not acknowledged how I was feeling and how I was being haunted by memories of my dad. Some were good and some not so good. And when I say not so good, I mean the memories and images while he was sick.
My dad and I were very close. And, as each day goes by, in his absence I feel like I am knowing him more and the challenges he endured in life, raising our family. In retrospect, I am very similar to him. To be honest, I never thought of releasing this song, it was very personal and I wrote it more for me than for the world. I actually wrote it before I wrote the previous release, "Celebrate." After I wrote "Haunting Visons," I wrote "Celebrate" because I needed to cheer myself up and I thought everyone else could use some positive music to cheer them up as well.

[Check the link:]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pQwxjadRpQ

DBB: Can you tell us a little about your growing up in Miami and your early years there?
RG: My parents left Cuba in 1958, just before the Cuban revolution. You know before that monster, Fidel Castro, destroyed a country and a society. They were married in Miami and I was born here. Growing up in Miami was awesome. There was such a sense of community. The Cubans were exiling here and everyone was like family. Seemed everyone had someone in common. The exiled Cuban community evolved into Cuban-Americans and the music scene here became very prominent. Miami became a latin hub for other latin countries. It seems very different now, though.

DBB: Your recent numbers, "You Don't Know Me" and "Celebrate," each have of a slew of fantastic remixers attached to them. How does it make you feel when you stop and think that there are all these mixes available, that djs all over the globe are playing your songs and crowds are dancing to them?
RG: Gosh, it is so cool and flattering! It is great that I started as a Freestyle artist and while I still am loyal to my Freestyle fan base I am also allowing my music to evolve into the other dance genres. The fact that other remixers want to be part of my music and DJs are playing my music is thrilling and gives me a sense of accomplishment.

DBB: What do you like about the dance-music scene today? What do you feel is missing that you might want to help change?
RG: Some of the dance music today I respect but, to be honest, I don't really listen to it. If it is too hard or harsh, it just seems like noise rather than music. (Ok, I know I am going to piss someone off, but just being honest.) I like vocal-driven dance music. I love house and bouncy dance tracks. I guess I am more into pop dance.
DBB: And I'm definitely onboard with that, Ray.
RG: Then again, that goes back to my beginnings. Disco. I love big-sounding productions. Nice vocals.... Sometimes it seems that a lot of the music playing in the big clubs is catering to chemically induced audiences. And hey, that is cool... whatever floats your boat. But I don't chemically induce so maybe that is why I don't get alot of it. Ok, let me make a disclaimer, I am not preaching and to each his own. I am by far no saint, I mean I did grow up in the 80's... so read between the lines. What is missing today is, I feel, the music industry has changed and it has not settled yet. Change is continuous and it is a different environment. Labels no longer develop artist, and some music that gets [released] has no business being out there [while] some good music never gets heard. In the old days it was called payola. Who knows, maybe that is still going on. Again, I am going to piss off some industry folks, but I am just keeping it real!

[Here's a link to the rare, original video for "Just Another Lover" -- DBB]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyMxch1B-Hw

DBB: Ray, thank you so much for your time in doing this Q&A. Any final words or shout-outs you'd like to put out there for your international fans?
RG: First of all, I want to thank you for giving me this platform to express myself and reach out to the many listeners. Second, I want to thank all the audiences that support the dance music genre and tell them that it is because of their support that dance artists can continue to strive to be heard. I am not going to mention anyone by name, because all those that are special to me know it. I am not one that holds back when I appreciate you or your support. And last [to] my fans, my supporters, new and old, thank you for allowing this humble guy from Miami to continue his dream. Thanks for being a part of my dream. Take care of yourselves, be kind to one another, be happy, be safe and stay healthy. Thank you once more for all your love and support!