What is your name?
What is your genre of music?
Give us a little bio about you.
To keep it short and to the point- I was born in Oakland, CA and raised in a multi-cultural, politically active family. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember – raised on the blues, obsessed with Madonna and Mariah Carey and when I discovered hip hop in the early 90s it was a wrap! I moved to nyc about 11 years ago and have been working my ass off touring and releasing my own music. I’ve also been very outspoken and active about women and LGBTQ issues as well and my struggle with, and recovery from anorexia.
What made you go in to music?
I’ve just always felt like I had to sing. It’s been a part of my life since before I can remember and I’ve never really considered perusing anything else.
Are you a signed?
Nope. I’m about to try to get signed for the first time this year.
You have released ‘Skinny’, tell us more about
“Skinny” is a song I wrote a few years ago about my battle with anorexia. I wrote it from the point of view of myself when I was at my lowest point so it’s definitely not a “recovery” song. I do feel like it’s very important for people to hear because it’s a peek behind the curtain in a way that I’ve never heard in a song before. Writing and recording it were two of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was very triggering and stirred up a lot of painful memories. Releasing it felt awesome though!
What was the writing process like for ‘Skinny’?
It was one of this magical moments where the song basically wrote itself. It was a long time coming, of course, I was 12 years into my recovery but the actual writing of the song happened in about 20 minutes.
What was the recording process like for ‘Skinny’ ‘?
I was in the beginning stages of working on my third album, “Hangover Music” so i was fortunate enough to have a session with my producer the day after i wrote the song. I sang him the melody and he created a really sparse, haunting instrumental around it and we recorded rough vocals on the spot. It was very hard for me to sing that song. Thankfully my producer, Willie Green and I are close friends and he made me feel comfortable enough to really go for it.
What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘Skinny’,
It was my former manager, Patrice Cokley’s idea to do a lyric video so I can’t really take credit for that!
Will we see a new EP or Album this year?
Yes. My third LP, “Hangover Music” has been about three years in the making and this year it will finally be released!
If so what can we expect?
You an expect a concept album exploring my long and complicated relationship with alcohol – for better and for worse – though every song isn’t about alcohol, it follows a certain narrative arc that keeps it all cohesive. It’s really about loneliness, regret growing older and eventually, triumph over personal demons. It ultimately comes down to a lot of no fucks given attitude. I’m very proud of this one, I think it fills a lot of voids in popular music.
Do you have any collaborations coming up with any up coming artists?
Yes, I have an acoustic blues/folk duo called Max Caddy and we’re releasing our second EP this summer. I’m also working on another project with a rapper/producer friend of mine but it’s too early on to say any more than that.
Do you have gigs coming up or a tour in planning?
No tour at the moment but I am really excited and honored to be playing in the NYC earth day festival in Union Square in April 15!
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
Yes absolutely. It would have to be a project that really inspires me, I’ve said yes to too many things in the past, I’m a little more discerning now.
Do you play any instruments?
I think my voice absolutely counts as an instrument so yes. I also play piano and some percussion very poorly, haha.
Who are your influences?
So many! Nas is always a lyrical inspiration as are indie lyricists like Dessa, Homeboy Sandman and Open Mike Eagle. As far as vocalists, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Fleetwood Mac, the list goes on and on! Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of old school Mariah Carey, it reminds me of when I started getting serious about singing.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
My own personal experience, mostly. Love, grief, my lifelong battle with depression. New York City and Oakland have given me a lot in terms of inspiration as well.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
That’s a loaded question! On the personal tip, I’d like to have a life partner and few babies by then. I’d like the grind to have slowed down a little so that I have more time and energy to create. I’d also like to be doing more speaking gigs and service for people suffering from depression and eating disorders and have the resources to travel more.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
I’m a big time yogi, I do yoga and meditation every day. I’m also big into wine and sake, I do a lot of epic dinners with my friends. Between my full time job and two music projects that’s about all I have time for. Lately I’ve also fallen back in love with going to the movies so I’m trying to do more of that.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
There are a million songs, that’s such a tough question! I do remember being at my friends house the first time i saw the video for Jodeci’s “forever my lady” and that being a big turning point for me in terms of the style of music I do. I felt the same way when i saw Mary J. Blige’s video for “Real Love.”
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
“Baby don’t sell yourself short” – my pops. I even have a song about it on my first album!
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Don’t cut corners, there are no shortcuts. Do the work, be clear about who you are as an artist and what you want for your career and don’t waste time or energy doing things that aren’t aligned with that. Don’t be afraid to say no, it will save you and others from a lot of unnecessary suffering. Of course these are all lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way!
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
I’m constantly discovering new ones but my favorite right now is “A feeling is much stronger than a thought” -Danielle Laporte
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
Well, the bay is beautiful so definitely somewhere with a view. My personal favorites are Indian Rock and the Berkeley Marina. Walking around Lake Merrit in Oakland is a must- do, followed by Brussels sprouts and a pickle plate on the patio of Portal.
Oakland has tons of great bars. My favorite dive is cafe van kleef, one of the oldest in “uptown” oakland, famous for its greyhounds (I always get mine with tequila).
San Francisco has a great culinary scene but my personal favorite thing to do is get papusas at panchitas in the mission. My grandfather is from El Salvador and I crave a good papusa and they just aren’t as good in NYC! Other cool things to do in the mission- walk around and look at all the murals, go thrift shopping and catch a show at Elbo Room, my favorite venue in the bay!
Your coming off tour;
1/ Where do you go first? To bed! After a tour all I want to do is sleep and binge on a lot of tv.
2/ Who do you see first? My family. I crave my dad’s cooking.
3What do you eat first? A peanut butter and honey sandwich with banana. I can never get enough of those!
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
My vocal warm ups
A shot of tequila
Stevie Wonder and Killer Mike get me ready to hit the stage
Prayer! I always ask to get out of my own way and have some fun
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?