Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW) – LIVVI FRANC

livvi

 

Born to an English mother and a Barbadian (aka Bajan) father in North Yorkshire, England, Olivia Waithe always had a love for music. She is no stranger to my blog, as I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Waithe, famously known by her stage name Livvi Franc, on two occasions.

She cites her maternal grandfather, Frank Wilson, as the inspiration behind the name. “He noticed me playing the piano and predicted I was going to be a musician. Sadly he’s no longer here. So, in honour of him, I called myself Livvi Franc; Livvi because it’s my nickname, and Franc because it’s a funkier version of Frank,” she told Flavour Magazine during an interview.

At the age of five, she and her family moved to her father’s native land of Barbados where she would spend her formative and adolescent years. Her love for music became a passion, and soon she penned her first song at the age of eleven and learned the guitar at fifteen. It’s safe to say that grandpa was right. And we’re glad he was.

Livvi attended Queens College (Barbados) where she would perform at various talent shows and pageants at the school. Relentless in her pursuit of becoming a musician. She was quickly taken under the wing of first manager Kerrie Thomas-Armstrong and took up vocal training lessons with locally revered vocal coach and singer Marisa Lindsay. This resulted in demo recordings of Livvi, where she met her next manager. Soon enough, she was meeting labels heads for auditions. After months of negotiating, she signed with the now defunct Jive Records. Known for their pop acts such as Britney Spears & the Backstreet Boys.

Her debut single, ‘Now I’m That Bitch’ featuring Pitbull, was successful. Topping the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart scoring the no. 1 spot and becoming one of the top dance songs of 2009. Also becoming a top 40 hit in New Zealand and the UK. Livvi was featured in countless magazines, including the venerated Interview Magazine, which was founded by the late, great Andy Warhol. Her second single, ‘Automatik’, had moderate success and took the no. 6 spot on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. But after Jive shelved her debut album, Livvi had enough and left the label in 2010.

She was quickly scooped up by Beluga Heights/Warner Bros., where she was set to finish her debut album. But Franc decided, at least for the moment, to solely focus on songwriting for other artists. As she’s been doing for years. Her extensive writing credits include great names such as Cheryl Cole, Jordin Sparks, Britney Spears, DJ Khaled, Jason Derulo, Cher Lloyd, Delta Goodrem, Leona Lewis, Ciara, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Zendaya, Kelly Clarkson, Shakira and the late Michael Jackson.

Livvi releases music occasionally, on her YouTube channel and SoundCloud. Her song ‘Woyoyo’ gained lots of airplay in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean.

YouTube Channel:http://www.youtube.com/user/livvifranc

SoundCloud:http://m.soundcloud.com/livvifranc-1/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/livvifranc

Exclusive Interview: Independent American Recording Artiste, Photographer, Entrepreneur & Former Model SELLAH

Sellah is a genre bending solo artist exploring the sounds of electro, hip hop, techno, and R&B. Born Michael McCloud in San Bernadino, California, Sellah’s early life was spent traveling the world with his high profile government family. After two years of university in Illinois, he transferred to Hawaii to play NCAA basketball.

For the past seven years, Sellah has been honing his craft in the fashion and entertainment industries. Involved in photography and commercial modeling across Asia, London, and South Africa, Sellah’s extensive experience led him to become the first black male model to work in Shanghai, China & was even featured in Rolling Stone magazine for his music. Now, I’ve had the pleasure of getting in contact with this triple threat so I can pick his brain, touching on topics of the love of art, self exploration, his music, his life, fashion & his stance on homosexuality in the hip hop arena.

1a. Tell me about your upbringing & your ancestry. I find it interesting you said you have West Indian roots. Being from Barbados, my readers here may find you a bit more relatable.

- I was born into a government family. Therefore, how I perceive life was and is very open and accepting to most things I encounter. I had to learn to adapt to different cultures, countries, people and task at a very vast pace because we moved over thirty places before I was even eighteen. My racial background hails from what we know as of now, West Indian, Scottish and African American.

b. Do you feel your upbringing has influenced you artistically, in terms of molding your path as an artist in all forms? Or was it more of a calling?

- My upbringing serves as the key to my influences. I am inspired by life and being able to travel/experience so many different lifestyles and cultures allowed me to take on many unique forms, at a more international approach. It allowed me to be fearless and take risk after risk, failure after failure, until I planted the right seeds into the purest and most fertile soils, which are now finally growing very beautifully. My upbringing was certainly my calling. I was searching my whole life for answers, but now I finally realized, that my life is my answer.

2. How & when did you get into the arts?

- I was always into artistic things as a child but I started in the arts professionally when I was eighteen going on nineteen. I am now twenty four years of age and I spent most my childhood, through teenage years playing at the highest levels of competitive basketball. I even played for a twenty one and under professional German team, at the age of sixteen. This was when I was living in Germany for my first three years of High School. These skills allowed me to play college basketball, but only time would tell when I would venture solely into the arts. Being an artist, was secretly always what I really wanted, but growing up in such a strict environment, made it hard for anyone to actually say and do what we truly wanted. Anyways, art to many people is just a “hobby” not a real job. After my second year of university, I could not take lying to myself anymore. I decided to drop everything and discover the real me and what I had to offer this world. This is when it all started…

3. Did you immediately know it was your passion?

- No, as mentioned above, I blocked every thought of it out because of how society made the outsiders perceive it. Something that was “impossible.” Back then, everyone made fun of me when I would sing or speak about the entertainment industry. That killed every part of me to even want to pursue it, but I’ve always been drawn to art, fashion and pop culture in general. I was just way too afraid to be open about it to anyone or even to myself.

4a. Why the arts?  b. What does it mean to you?

- ART is LIFE. It is every form of creation known to man and even beyond that. Music is everywhere, fashion is everywhere…beauty is everywhere. We just need to open our minds and free our souls from the entanglements that the world has placed on us.

5. What came first? Music? Photography? Modeling? Tell us about your journey through the arts.

- I actually started modeling and photography at the same time. I am just at exactly 5’11 and being black with no real vital features, I figured let me do both a the same time. I just knew modeling would only take me so far. So I did modeling and photography together for about five years. I eventually stopped photography because people’s negative words got to me and too many people wanted free shoots, but would do nothing to help me out in return. “You cannot be a model and photographer at the same time. No one will take you seriously.” I would help models for months to get them signed to an agency and they would go behind my back and do contracts without me knowing. Even causing rumors, saying I was doing this and that with so and so. I was just at a point that enough was enough, you know? This is the kind of thanks that I get for all my hard work I placed into others and not myself. Nothing to me was worth that kind of stress, especially at my age. It was even to a point, photographers would not book me for jobs anymore because I was shooting the same models they were working with. It was just so pitiful and made me notice how our world is very egotistical. At that time, I was just not strong enough to deal with so many different pressures and negativity coming at me all at once. I was still discovering who I was as a person, a entrepreneur and as an artist. From there, I just kept doing commercial modeling. Booking jobs like, Gap China, Ralph Lauren China, China Fashion Week, GQ/Cosmo/Glamour Magazine, Tush Magazine, Nike, Fanta, Duracell and Reebok commercials. The list goes on and I was at a point where I made a lot of personal accomplishments and really just became quite bored. This was not enough nor what I truly wanted to be doing. I was only doing it because I was damn good at it. So I decided to start my own magazine called IMMO, which means “Yes” in one of the many distant Latin languages. I was tired of people telling me “no” and I was so depressed, meeting so many talented artists around the world, who did not get enough recognition for their creative talents. At this point, I decided IMMO would serve as a major platform, where we share inspirational, influential and inspiring works from artists all around the world. I hate trends, I am more touched by diversity, thought, really nurturing and respecting raw and special talents. It is something this industry needs and my team and I are providing that in all ways, shapes and forms. My music is new. I only been doing this for a little over a year and a half now professionally. So I am extremely excited for what is to come. I evolve and adapt fairly fast and this is the first time I am really placing so much of me and my time into one main source. 

6. What were your most memorable (good or bad) moments while modeling?

- I do not want to say I had bad moments. I now focus on living in the present and believe everything we face is a representation of what we are now today/will be. Without the “bad” moments I would not be as strong and as assertive as I am now. In a way, I embrace the darkness. How can we illuminate, if we never knew what it is like, to be in the darkest corners of existence? With modeling, I respect the industry so much because it allows so many people to travel. That was a huge blessing for me. Modeling also brought me to Cape Town, South Africa. Which is a place I will never forget and encourage anyone to make a trip there. Just hit me up and I will direct you to the places to go there!

7. Do you still model, or has music solely been put to the forefront?

- With me personally, I mix fashion and music. They go hand in hand. It is important for an artist to create their own brand/image and for that, you need fashion clients to back you up. You need the fashion world to support you! Take Kanye West, Beyonce, ASAP Rocky, Lady Gaga and Miley Cirus just to name a few for an example. You will always see them on the hottest fashion magazine covers and campaigns because they understand the idea behind branding themselves in every way possible. They know exactly what they are doing and Kanye is a huge reason why males can wear what they wear now. He is someone I feel does not get enough credit for what he has already done/is doing, and cultures he has majorly influenced. Even newer artists like Sky Ferreira, who was the face of CK and a few other big brands for a few years. This allowed her to promote her music on those platforms and at even higher levels. Which also gave her even more of an edge/sophisticated look. In a way, you can say I will never stop “modeling,” but yes it will be in terms of my music. Image is everything, as much we do not want to believe that.

8. The reason behind the name Sellah.

- Sellah originally comes from the word “Selah ” which is layered with many different definitions behind it. The reason I chose this as my artist name is because Selah means; to be freed from, a break from chains of negativity. To stop and listen. The meditation of the soul. These were things that I did not just want for my music, but for my life in general. I added the extra ‘L’ to be original and make it my name exclusively, but keeping the same meanings. Sellah is a lifestyle, a new way of thinking and doing. It is a embodiment of everything raw, spiritual (not religious) and true. In other words, anybody can be Sellah, once they start living free. Sellah simply is a MOVEMENT.

9a. Where do you draw inspiration from? OR what inspires you most? b. Is there a continuous message/theme you are specifically trying to convey through your music?

- Life is my main source of inspiration. Everyday I find new and amazing things about our world that inspire me. My music will constantly be at different levels because it represents me as a person and I am constantly growing/evolving. No matter what, my music will always resemble something about experiences I’ve gone through/will go through. Things that I long for, or even things I felt/see through others.

10. Tell me about your latest video, ‘Hallelujah’. What was the full concept behind it & how did it come about?

- Hallelujah was shot in Belgium by a talented directer named Louis Rose. My main goal with this video was to be very “in your face”. Hence, why I deliberately used a church, a priest and a king’s crown. I wanted to take the everyday stereotypes and add humor to it purposely. We get so caught up in religions, media hype and on what is right or what is wrong. Yet, these same people are the ones who are quick to judge another person. I am tired of living in such a fake world, where no one is confident enough to speak up for themselves. So I wanted to make this video to show that we must live in a free world. I will not do rap videos with a bunch of guys in chains and drugs behind me. Instead, in my world, my team is so diverse and not based off of what society claims or how one should dress, look or speak.

11. As a model, image becomes intrinsically important to you & is embedded into your everyday routine. What are some of your regular techniques when it comes to health & fitness?

- Just watching your food intake and exercising regularly. I am now a vegetarian and I love it, but not saying one has to go to such extreme levels to be healthy. I just love challenges. Even if you are naturally skinny, just eating whatever you want is not good for you. A healthier body creates a healthier mind. So feed your soul with love and care by taking care of your body.

12. You most definitely have impeccable style. How would you describe it?

- The easiest way to describe the style I am working hard to embrace is “timeless”.

13. Any favorites designers, style icons or fashion movements that you have drawn inspiration from?

- I try hard to stay away from the words ‘favorite’, ‘idols’ and ‘fans’ because I feel we all have the power to be just as big as anyone else. I really do appreciate the whole Grace Jones movement though, fashion wise. Musically speaking, I love Robyn, The Sleigh Bells, Childish Gambino, Deftones, Norah Jones, Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, Lauren Hill, Elvis and Florence & The Machine to name a few, but the list goes on.

14. The hip hop world seems to be slowly welcoming gay rappers into the arena. However, there is still much controversy surrounding the topic. What is your stance on the issue?

- People need to grow up. Just because of someone’s sexual preference, does not mean they cannot also go through the similar struggles or want/have the same ambitions. I support any and everything that stands for something pure and true. There are no judgments in my mind. If you can rap, let the person rap! Now if they are talking about nonsense then that is another story.

* Facebook fan page - http://www.facebook.com/officialpageofsellah 

Soundcloud - www.soundcloud.com/wearesellah 

Twitter - www.twitter.com/iamsellah

Instagram –  http://instagram.com/iamsellah#

YouTube - www.youtube.com/iamsellah

Hallelujah music video - http://youtu.be/tC87TBwod6k *

Interview: Emcee & Spoken Word Artist ADAEZE

1. What drew you to the arts & how old were you when you realized?

- As a kid I always wrote, I taught myself different instruments and I loved to draw. I began to get serious with spoken word poetry when I was about 19 and decided poetry/hip hop music would be a career for me when I was about 21. I’m drawn to the arts because that’s where I express myself best. Creating art makes me feel very alive! I don’t think I have much of a choice when it comes to loving art…it’s simply who I am. 

2. What bracket of the arts do you feel most drawn to? And why.

- I’m most drawn to music – hands down. I play(ed) 7 instruments (mostly past tense), I was in bands, orchestras and choirs and absolutely loved the long hours of rehearsals. I remember a time when I’d hear a song, and in my head I’d pick apart the track instrument by instrument and find as many harmonies as I could. Again, I don’t know why I’m drawn to it but it’s definitely “like a moth to a flame”. After music, I enjoy video production and editing. I like editing because it’s cool to make raw footage – nothingness, into something that communicates a message.

3. When did you first start writing songs and what prompted you to do so?

- I used to make up little songs growing up, and around 17 or so I remember trying my hand at writing rap verses. But I really dug into my writing when I came across spoken word poetry. I was invited to a workshop by a Def Jam poet and I was very moved by the way the words were lifted off the page and became a performance. I felt like I had a lot I wanted to say, so I started writing.

4. What’s your favorite part of the songwriting process?

- I’ve never thought about this. Probably that moment when you know exactly where the song should go, how it should sound and that feeling of “yes, this is good!”. Sometimes you’re writing and you get stuck, but when it just comes and everything clicks, it’s a crazy high!

5. Why did you choose this type of music?

- I chose Hip Hop because of the types of hooks I write and the mass appeal of my final product, I’d also put it under Pop. I gravitated towards Hip Hop because of the original culture of it – the sense of community, rebellion, story-telling. Other than those qualities, I just love the beats and putting poetry to them. 

6. Would you say your personal style perfectly reflects who you are as an artiste?

- I think just in general, a person’s style says just about everything about them. Personal style alludes to a person’s values and I think my style says I value creativity, fun, strength, professionalism and comfort (being real & down to earth). 

7. How would you describe your everyday sense of style?

- I wouldn’t. I’ve never thought about it that hard. I really just put on whatever is at hand, and try to mix and match to come up with new ways to wear the same articles of clothing. Most ‘daes’ my attire is a chilled out, urban look.

8. Do you enjoy fashion? (b) What does it represent to you?

- I love and hate fashion. I used to think it was the most superficial crap ever, until I started being placed in that world. I started to gain new perspective on what fashion is and how impactful it is to society. Now, I enjoy fashion more and have embraced it as art to wear. To me it’s like writing, painting or editing – somehow in my head, all the arts are connected and fashion is just expression with fabric and accessories. I’m enjoying this exploration phase.

9. Any plans to venture into fashion? (Why or why not?)

- Yes, for sure! Why? Because I get the feeling to do it, more and more, whenever I write a new song. I enjoy designing and styling. I think that just like I have things to contribute to music, as I mature in fashion, I’ll have a lot to contribute. 

10. In terms of your journey as an artist, what has been the greatest lesson you have learned thus far?

- Wow. That’s hard. Can I cheat and name three? I’ve learned the importance of patience - everything has its own time. I’ve really learned to value my talents and ideas, and never sell myself short. I’ve also learned the importance of humility and having motivation that is bigger than self.

INTERVIEW: Canadian Pop Duo: HighDiamond!

I present to you, a rocking dance-pop duo who is ready to take Canada & the world by storm, Catina & Angela or also popularly known as HighDiamond! Their debut single ‘Broken’ has already hit the airwaves all across Canada since May of this year & has clearly become a favorite to many! Since the release of ‘Broken’ they’ve been voted CKXS 99.1 XS Emerging Artist for the month of May by listeners, AND in Ottawa on Hot 89.9 ‘Broken’ won Battle of The Beats five nights in a row, helping them to secure a spot in the Hot 89.9 Hall of Fame!

Check out my little chat with these upcoming femme fatales here -

Q. Who/What first sparked your interest in music?
HD: From a very young age we have both been exposed to all kinds of music in every genre from our dance training. There are beautiful pieces of classical music for ballet, old style jazz, hip hop, etc. We honestly don’t remember a day that has gone by that we haven’t listened to music. We love all kinds of music!!

Q. What was your journey like to this point as artists? 
HD: The journey has been amazing! Never a dull moment that’s for sure! We’re constantly working with new people in the industry, always learning new things and evolving as artists. You really have to be like a sponge and take in everything. With two singles released and music videos on the way we have a lot going on and it’s exciting to see it all come together! We’re taking this next part of our journey to Miami to record some new music and work with new people so it will be an exciting chapter! 

Q. How would you describe your sound? 
HD: Our sound is dance pop! Very upbeat, positive and catchy! Our sound may change a little with these new tracks we’re working on now!

Q. Who are your musical influences? 
CAT: Nicole Scherzinger! I love the way Nicole can go from the pop sound of Pussy Cat Dolls to Phantom of the Opera and Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. Her voice is so pure and she’s so elegant and classy. 
ANG: Rihanna! She has a unique sound and I love her vibe.  

Q. Tell us about your  popular debut single ‘Broken’. Was it written by you both. If so, what is the inspiration behind the song? 
HD: We co-wrote the song! Its about sacrifice. Which is choosing someone else’s feelings over your own. We’ve also released our second single ‘Just Like That’. Its about missing someone you love and anticipation. 

Q. What can fans look forward to with your future releases? 
HD: ‘Dance It Away’ is licensed to a movie called ‘Idiots, Product & Money 2′ that will be coming out in the new year and we are currently working on some new music! Can’t wait to share it! 

Q. Where are you looking to take your careers? What is the ultimate goal? 
HD: Our ultimate goal is to be the best entertainers we can be. Play to huge audiences!! To connect and relate with our fans, and for our fans to know they can depend on our music no matter what they are going through at a certain time in their life. 

Q. Now lets talk fashion. Would you say that you both have specific personal styles when it comes to fashion? And would you call yourselves fashion enthusiasts? 
CAT: We both have very different personal styles! I am the ‘girly’ one out of the two of us. I love bright colors and sometimes nerdy attire. I love being comfortable! 
ANG: I am always trying new things! I like to be different, and express myself through my attire. My go to color is black and I love to be comfortable most of the time. 

Q: So boots or heels?!
CAT: Heels…all the way!
ANG: Heels!

Q. Do you follow fashion rules, or are you law breaking trendsetters? 
CAT: Honestly I probably couldn’t name off one fashion rule. I wear what I want and I wear how I’m feeling. One thing we go by; fashion is your personality, wear it! 
ANG: Whats a fashion rule? LOL I guess that makes us trendsetters!

FOLLOW THE GIRLS’ CAREER:

Website: http://www.high-diamond.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/realhighdiamond

YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/1HighDiamond

LOOK OUT FOR THE NEW SINGLE 'JUST LIKE THAT'

LOOK OUT FOR THE NEW SINGLE ‘JUST LIKE THAT’

Getting ready. On set of their video shoot for 'Broken' with my blog logo

Getting ready. On set of their video shoot for ‘Broken’ with my blog logo

Bajan Model/Singer Nikita ‘Akasha’ Kunar Makes Song Debut!!

Bajan model & singer Nikita ‘Akasha’ Kunar has made her music debut with her track ‘So Right’. You may remember this pretty face from posts of BB Fashion Week last year & my posts of Bajan designer Kesia Estwick’s collection campaigns. The Honey Jam Barbados alum is one of the faces of Kesia’s KISS+Girl collection, and has become quite the ‘it girl’ for Kesia Estwick (see photo above).

Dominica Fashion Week

Going by her middle name ‘Akasha’ to start off her music career, this Bajan talent will prove that she is NOT just another pretty face. In fact, music was her main objective before even venturing onto the fashion scene.

LISTEN TO HER DEBUT TRACK  ‘So Right’ HERE - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQS0RKVyGx0

Introducing Gin Wigmore

The New Zealand music star is making her crossover into the American market & she seems to be doing quite well so far.

Gin, usually known for her folk rock sound in New Zealand & Australia, is now taking more of a pop direction. However, not totally abandoning her signature sound.

Many may know her for her recent stint in James Bond’s ‘Skyfall’ Heineken commercial. Wigmore is the blonde beauty you see singing on stage in the advert, and her catchy track ‘Man Like That’ was what you were hearing.

Wigmore was also recently featured in the hit drama series ‘Revenge’, with their special ‘Gift of Revenge’ show presented by Target & Neiman Marcus, where she gave a full performance of her hit song ‘Black Sheep’.

I find her voice extremely intoxicating. That’s in a good way, hahaha. I would encourage you all give her a listen. Her style also intrigues me. It appears to be a sexy clash of rock n’ roll & hippie. I look forward to keeping my eye on this starlet’s crossover career. I predict more great things to come.

Gin Wigmore (on the right) in the James Bond Heineken commercial

Gin Wigmore (on the right) in the James Bond Heineken commercial

Rihanna Unveils Her Tracklist For ‘Unapologetic’

Popular entertainment site GlobalGrind.com was among the first to report Rihanna’s unveiling of the official tracklist for her seventh studio album, ‘Unapologetic’. The tracklist, however, does not include details of rumored collaborations, but it does include the pricey $250 deluxe edition tracklist.

Rumors have been swirling that Rihanna’s ex-boyfriend Chris Brown will be featured on her new album. Reportedly, a ‘#RihannaNavy’ fan took a screenshot of a direct message conversation she had with the ‘Diamonds’ singer, where she asked if Chris would be featured on the album & Rihanna replied, “Yuup.” GlobalGrind says that conversation has not been confirmed as real, but if it is, Chris & Rih can expect buzzing from fans and critics.

Rihanna was also recently given the key to the city of West Hollywood, along with a plastic crown, when she was queen of the West Hollywood Halloween Parade in Los Angeles at the Greystone Manor, by West Hollywood Mayor John Duran.

Rihanna’s album ‘Unapologetic’ is due out November 19.

Here is Rihanna’s ‘Unapologetic’ Tracklist: 

1. Fresh Off The Runway

2. Diamonds

3. Numb

4. Pour It Up

5. Loveeeeeee Song

6. Jump

7. Right Now

8. What Now

9. Stay

10. Nobodys Business

11. Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary

12. Get It Over With

13. No Love Allowed

14. Lost In Paradise

Deluxe Edition:

15. Half Of Me

16. Diamonds (Dave Aude 100 Extended)

17. Diamonds (Gregor Salto Downtempo Remix)

Bonus DVD, never-before-released footage and Rihanna’s Loud Tour recorded live at London’s O2 Arena (20 mins)