The OFFICIAL Website of Rap or Die
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1. Where are we talking from today? I am at my studio apartment in the west Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California.
2. How is 2018 treating you so far? It has been an intense year to be honest... I just made a big decision to quit my job as an educator (I worked in schools with kids for my whole life until this past June) and move to LA to pursue my yoga teaching and music career. So far, 2018 has been full of change... good changes for sure because it means more time for me to focus on my two greatest passions, although it definitely feels a little weird to not be working with kids anymore and has been a challenge financially. Essentially, this year marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life, and I am just getting started on this next adventure.
3. How did you get involved in music? My mom made my brothers and I take piano lessons when we were younger, and I am forever grateful for that. I stuck with it for a while, quit, came back to it, and played clarinet in the band/jazz band throughout middle school and high school. I picked up the guitar in high school and took lessons for a little while from an awesome teacher. Also, I grew up in Nashville, TN, so I have always loved a wide variety of music and was surrounded by it constantly. The school I went to (University School of Nashville) for 13 years had a number of amazingly talented students that were musicians as well, some of them touring right now. We had music nights where artists like Bela Fleck would come and perform in our auditorium, and a lot of my friends were in bands or involved in music. I dabbled in songwriting and performing a little bit in high school and in college, and I always loved listening to music and going to live shows.
4. When did you make music a priority? About 5 years ago, I revisited my songwriting and had a friend tell me I should go play at an open mic night. It sounded terrifying, and it was...my first open mic night was so scary and horrible, but I had a great group of friends come out and support me. My voice was trembling, my fingers were shaking when I played, and being onstage was out of my comfort zone. However, something in me told me I should keep trying and keep practicing my craft. This year, I released my first album, A Thousand Dreams, in March, and I am very proud of this collection of songs. I worked closely with producer Christopher Krotky for a little over a year, and he is really amazing at what he does... I feel very grateful to have gotten the chance to work with him. I had been feeling really burned out with my school job this past year, and music had always been a side project. Now I am making it more of a priority, which for me meant coming to LA where there are more opportunities to be heard, to network, and to collaborate as an artist.
5. What inspires you daily to write & record music? I am inspired when I go out to hear live music for sure, and it's great to now be in a city where there is constant inspiration from fellow musicians and songwriters (there is always a live show to attend) and people following their creative dreams. I absolutely love music... I make playlists for my yoga classes, I listen to it, and it's cathartic for me to play piano, guitar, and ukulele. Songs come when they come, and I go through creating phases where I might be writing a lot or phases where I focus more on practicing so that I can have a solid stage performance. Singing is something that really feeds my soul as well.... it's just in my nature to want to create music.
6. Name 1-2 highly influential musicians that you listen to & respect? My biggest influence when I initially started composing my own music was Tori Amos, and I still have so much respect for her. She is an incredible pianist, and what she does with her songs is so unique and different...her album "Little Earthquakes" changed my life for sure. It inspired me to start creating my own music. Radiohead is the other artist that I absolutely love and respect because what Thom Yorke is doing with his bandmates is also so unique... each album has its own character, and it's amazing to hear what they are doing now compared to their first record, Pablo Honey. I still love all of their albums, and the musical landscapes that they create are absolutely mesmerizing, full of intricate sounds, ambient guitar, and really interesting chord progressions. They are also incredible live performers.
7. When it comes to how the music enthusiast listens to your album do you prefer they buy or stream and why? This is a good question... honestly, I love it when I am able to sell a CD because the purchaser is directly contributing to my art. I also feel that since they are buying a physical copy of the album that they really want to listen to it. However, I think these days it's also important to have lots of plays/listens on Spotify... all of this is new to me, so I may have a different answer for this question in a year or two.
8. Do you have an album/EP out now that readers should check out or are you about releasing singles? My album, A Thousand Dreams, is available on Spotify, Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes, and Soundcloud... I'm happy for people to listen to it wherever they wish. I also just released a live in studio recording of a new song called "Beautiful Ride" that was previously unreleased... it is on YouTube.
9. Music wise, what are you working on? Right now, I am finishing up writing a couple of new songs and have been writing a lot on the electric guitar, which I got in February. I have also been playing around with vocal looping. Honestly though, the majority of my focus right now is on putting together shows in Los Angeles, playing open mic nights, and trying to network with people in order to get myself heard and the songs out into the world. This involves really practicing at home to fine tune my live performances and also busking in the streets at times, which is a new experience for me. It's not ideal, but it's a good way to make extra cash, especially since I just moved here.
10. Do you have any plans to tour? Right now, I have no specific plans, but I would love to do a tour. At this point, I think I would ideally like to be an opening act for another band or artist that is already touring. Eventually, I would love to book my own tour for sure, but I have to focus on one thing at a time.
11. When you are not making music what else do you enjoy to do? Well, I am also a yoga instructor, and I practice every day in addition to teaching at some local studios. I recently released a unique and beautiful music video on YouTube for my song, "Paper Moon," which is me doing my yoga practice in a white leotard with a black background. I also enjoy nature and doing outdoor activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, and going to the beach. I haven't gone on a good hike since moving here because I've been so busy, but I'm excited to check out trails in Topanga and Malibu sometime soon, both of which I've heard have some beautiful areas.
12. Where you @ online?
YouTube: Lyra Star http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjrIBdqT5sYEbK5TXH18ZbQ