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FLY Interviews Music

Fly Interview: Rising Songstress Ms. Karoline Talks New EP, Musical Influences, & More

Miami songbird Ms. Karoline is gearing up for the release of her debut EP Elephant In A Song this fall. The Colombian Florida native has always had an affinity for the arts, but it wasn’t until 3 years ago that she picked up a pen and tried her hand at songwriting. Since then, the soulful singer has been honing her craft while simultaneously channeling her ups and downs into her music. SFPL sat down with the songstress to discuss her upcoming EP, some of her favorite artists, and other projects.

Hey, thank you so much for chatting with me. Your upcoming EP is titled Elephant In A Song, can you tell me more about it? 

Elephant In A Song is an 8 track EP and each song is about a different person or relationship. “Elephant In A Song” is a record about an ex while “What If” is about my relationship with my father and how things would’ve been if things had gone differently.

What’s the main message you want people to leave with after listening to your EP?

I think honesty and vulnerability. To get the vibe of going from a place of fear to being like this is who I am. I have gone through different situations in my life that I feel people can relate to; but they don’t really know how to express it, so they listen to music to find what connects with them. Mainly sincerity. I would definitely say the theme for the project is honesty.

Awesome, I like that. It’s like your own musical diary. How long have you been working in music?

With my own music I began 3 years ago when I started songwriting. I kind of just was like I want to make an EP. I want to be able to write music and see if it would connect with people. I’ve been singing since forever. I was in musical theater, and I went to school for it. So I’ve been around music for most of my life. I started taking voice lessons when I was 15 or 16.

Is singing something you were always drawn to?

Yes, since I was a little girl. I would grab a brush, stand in front of the mirror, and you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t singing to thousands of people. I just knew it was something I wanted to pursue.

Who were some of your favorite artists growing up?

Amy Winehouse, and you can kind of hear her influence in my style. When I discovered her I had just gotten home from school and I was watching MTV. Her video for “F Me Pumps” came on and I was just like who is this woman? Where did she come from? Why is her voice like that? It’s amazing. I need to know who she is. I immediately started following her. I even cried when she passed. She will always be one of my all-time favorites. Also Lauryn Hill. I actually got to meet her in person. She has such amazing sides to her and soul. I think she’s just very misunderstood. I really liked Nelly Furtado too. Another one is this French singer from the 1930’s, I had a cassette that I would listen to of Edith Piaf.

I love her.

I just really love her story, how powerful her voice was, and how minimal her performances were. It was just her, a piano, and her voice and everyone was so captivated by her. I feel like nowadays you have to give people a lot more because it’s harder to keep our attention for even 3 minutes. You have to have 3D images jumping out of the screen, and all this other stuff that’s going to stimulate our brains. When before it was just like let me hear the pain in your voice, the lyrics, and what you’re going through, and see if I can relate to it. And even if you didn’t relate you still felt that pain and the beauty in that.

Back then the focus was definitely more on the voice. They were also limited by technology but Edith Piaf is one of the greatest singers of all time. She just had a very beautiful and powerful voice.

Nina Simone is another one. Donny Hathaway, I love Donny Hathaway. Alternative music too. Bands like Radiohead. I grew up on The Beatles. My Dad loved them. He was really into The Police, Journey, and Cyndi Lauper. I remember asking him what his favorite thing of being a part of the 80’s was and he said the transition in the music was the best. You had Hip-Hop which was new, and then you had synthesizers and that was funky. He definitely felt that the 80’s was one of the best periods of music.

I can see that. Do you agree with your Dad?

Definitely I feel like the 80’s was a time when music was really changing. I love early 90’s stuff too. I love 2Pac, and Biggie. You know very lyrical rappers. I can bop my head to what’s out now and get drawn in with catchy lyrics and dope beats; but I definitely love a good lyricist. Like J. Cole, I love J. Cole. Kendrick Lamar. Those are lyrical rappers.

I love J. Cole. I’m obsessed. Are there any other artist out now besides Cole and Kendrick that you’re really in to?

There’s this British singer Joy Crookes. She has a bit of an Amy vibe going on. Lizzo. I think she’s very funky, I love her. She kind of reminds me a bit of Missy Elliot. I love all kinds of music. I love people who can do that. Play with different styles. I don’t really think that I could do that. I’m more soulful. But I definitely love to listen to something that’s going to get me going. I love to work out and so I have to listen to music that’s going to make me want to be in the gym. Kali Uchis I mean she’s who I identify the most with. She’s Colombian as well. Jorja Smith, Sabrina Claudio. Sabrina Claudio she’s also someone I really look up to. She’s from Miami too. Her music is so great. I know she had some setbacks with an incident on Twitter but I believe people make mistakes and they learn from them. Ari Lennox is another artist I really enjoy too.

Ari is great. Her last project is amazing.

Hiatus Kaiyote. I was definitely inspired by their music. They’re this band from New Zealand and the lead singer she was featured on the intro track for Drake’s More Life. They’re this jazzy kind of R&B group. They’re super soulful; but their style is really gothic so it’s kind of interesting.

Who would you say is your dream collaboration?

Kali Uchis for sure. I love her voice, and style. She is who she is and doesn’t fit into this box. Especially as an artist who is latinx you can get put in box and at times are expected to fit a mold.

So besides the EP, are you working on any other projects?

I’m actually currently working on an independent short film as well. I also enjoy acting so that’s something else I wanted to tap into. I’ve been putting together visuals for the project too and I have a pretty good idea of what the next project will be about.

That’s cool, tell me more about the short film.

It’s by a local Miami filmmaker. I connected with her through a college friend. She reached out to me and told me she wanted to tell this poetic love story about a girl who finds love in Miami. It’s actually in Spanish. I have been asked before “why don’t you sing in Spanish.” Whenever I sing it’s always been in English, that’s just been my preferred language. So, doing something in Spanish is definitely something I wanted to try. I sing in both languages; but writing wise I don’t know how strong I’d be in Spanish so I’ve been a bit hesitant. I am Colombian so I definitely have to step out of my comfort zone and embrace that part of me.

Is there a title for the film and a release date?

It’s called Corazon Cantando and not release date yet. I believe sometime in November or December of this year.

What does fly mean to you?

Fly is honesty. It is being and owning who you are 100%.

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Music

Fly Interview: Familiarize Yourself with Engel Montaz, Latin Music’s Next Biggest Artist

Engel Montaz’s love for music began at a very early age. From learning to sing and play guitar from his father to participating in the choir, he’s always been drawn to the storytelling aspect of the medium. After taking a hiatus from music due to the distractions that come from being a young man coming into his own, he’s returned to his passion determined to carve out a lane for himself in today’s evolving Latin music landscape. After teaming up with one of Latin music’s heavyweights Arcangel on his single “Nota De Pasion,” we’d say he’s well on his way.

  1. Who is Engel Montaz?

He is a young man who lives for music and loves music so much he wants to get it to the people. I want people to feel the same way I feel about music.

  1. When did you know music was something you wanted to pursue professionally?

Well professionally almost 2 years ago but I’ve been into music since I was a little kid. I used to sing for the chorus in school and I have loved music since I was a little kid.

  1. You were born in the Dominican Republic and spent the majority of your childhood there. How did your upbringing shape your love of music?

I was born into music, my father is a musician also so it’s just something that I have in my blood. I was born with it. There’s no reasoning. He played the guitar and he’s also a songwriter so it’s just something that I have in my blood.

  1. Did your father pursue music professionally?

Not really. He showed me how to sing and stuff like that. I used to sing at home every morning and play the guitar. So I really got it from him. Then at school I started singing in the chorus when I was around 12 or 13 years old.

  1. You’re in the chorus, what came next? You mentioned you didn’t start to take music seriously until 2 years ago.

You know when you’re a teenager you just really want to party and hangout with your friends. I just moved away from the music. I was trying to be a man, running the streets and just learning how the world is. I forgot about singing, what I really loved. One day I just woke up with this feeling to start making music again. I just went to the studio one day and recorded my first song. After that the rest was history.

  1. As I mentioned earlier you relocated from the DR to the US. How old were you when you made that move?

I was always back and forth when I was a little kid. Every vacation from school, every summer. When I actually decided to pack up and move to the US I was 16-17 years old. I went to New York. I was in New York for a little while and then I moved to Florida. It was in Florida that I really buckled down and started pursuing music professionally.

  1. How would you describe your musical style?

I like music that sort of embraces you and delivers a message. I love good lyrics. Lyrics that tell you something, not just words thrown together over a beat. The kind of lyrics that get stuck in your head.

So you’re actually saying something vs just throwing catchy words around.

Exactly. It conveys a message whether its love, hate, whatever something you can relate to deep down in your soul.

  1. Who would you say that’s out now is closest to the kind of music you hope and want to create?

There’s Ozuna, Nicky Jam, and J. Balvin. That’s the kind of music that I’ve kind of been creating; but I still have my own style. I don’t want to compare my music with anyone because I think my music is different. That’s why people have found it so special because it’s a bit different; but it’s kind of in the same lane.

  1. Your latest record is “Nota de Pasion” and it features Arcangel. Tell us how did this collaboration come about?

Arcangel has been listening to my music for a little while now because I have someone on my team who was playing my music for him like 2 years ago. He kept telling him about me and eventually we go to meet and we built a good relationship from there. An opportunity to head into the studio with him came up and of course I jumped on it. Nota De Pasion was the result of that.

  1. That’s awesome. How was it working with him?

It was a pleasure. You know he’s a legend and I have so much respect for him because I grew up listening to his music and you know for me it was a pleasure. He’s a genius. That’s really how I see him. He’s a genius at making music.

  1. You’ve already worked with Arcangel. What other Latin artists or Urban artists in general would you like to work with?

I like Drake and on the Latin side I like Ricardo Arjona. That’s one of my favorite artists. On the Latin Urban side I would have to say De La Ghetto.

  1. What inspires your music?

Life. You know in my life I’ve been in so many situations and I have friends too who have the confidence to tell me what they’re going through. As a songwriter I can turn what I’ve been through and what my friends are going through and create music from it.

 

  1. So what’s next for you? Are you currently signed to a label? Are you working on an album?

Yes, I am currently signed to a label This Is Global Music and I’ve been working with them for almost two years. We’ve been working pretty well on the management side and I feel really good about it. We’ve been working a lot. I’ll be shooting a video in Miami for a song I have with a Brazilian and Puerto Rican artist who goes by Americano. The track is like Brazilian/pop with a hint of reggaeton. I think people will really love it.

  1. What’s the name of the record?

It’s titled Amorosa.

  1. When is the video dropping?

I’m actually not sure. It’s his track I’m just featured. I don’t have a timeline, but most likely soon.

  1. What does fly mean to you?

Fly to me is something extraordinary. Something that leaves an impression, that’s memorable.

Watch Engel Montaz “Nota De Pasion” ft. Arcangel below. 

Categories
FLY Interviews

Fly Interview: Devin Cobbs Talks The Return of 4 Lovers Only & Delivers Some Advice For Aspiring Event Producers

Event Producer extraordinaire Devin Cobbs is gearing up for the second year of his successful 90’s R&B party. Set to launch Memorial Day weekend in LA, Cobbs and his team will be making their rounds to 8 cities this year, including new cities like Miami and Dallas. For a glimpse of what’s to come check oout our interview with the mogul in the making below.

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  1. 4 Lovers Only is back are you excited?

We back, we back again! We’ll be announcing soon.

  1. So you’ll be kicking things off in LA?

Yes. It’s LA, New York, Dallas, Miami and that’s phase one. I can’t talk about phase two yet; but those are the cities we’ll be hitting to kick things off.

  1. Are you guys partnering with any brands, influencers, artists?

As far as brands we have Swisher and Avion Tequila. In terms of influencers and artists we have Tone Smith. He’s an amazing R&B artist. He’s a young dude from Jersey; but he’s based out in LA now. The other artists I don’t want to reveal just yet. Those are the 90’s R&B acts and we’ll release them closer to the day of each event.

Every city has an artist this year. Last year it was only two cities that had performances from artists. I wanted to make it as special as possible. We put in a lot of work to make sure we were able to get the artists that we wanted.

We have a bunch of Soulection DJ’s. Andrew Power and Austin in New York along with Mecca from 2DopeBoyz. We have Sasha Marie also from Soulection she’s DJing out in LA. Norma and Silent Addy for Miami. There are so many different people. Each city that we’re going to we partnered with the most, not necessarily the most popular; but the one’s we felt were really really good. That goes for the artists as well.

  1. Besides having an artist in each city and partnering with local DJ’s, is there anything you guys are doing differently this go-around?

I want people to kind of find out once the RSVP’s open up and we go live with each city. We changed the website up a lot so that experience is different. The way you RSVP is a bit different than last year.  The open bar structure is different. Last year was just 1 HR; but this time it’s an hour in the beginning and another hour from 12 AM – 1 AM. Some of the cities are different too. We didn’t go to Miami or Dallas last year. We’re trying something new in those cities. The second phase new cities too. The biggest change I’d say this time is we really wanted to find out where the people wanted us to go. Although a lot of the tour was planned we locked in the remaining cities after putting up a post asking for feedback. We listened to the people.

  1. What do you want everyone to know about this year’s tour?

I want people to know that each year we do this it’s going to be different so definitely don’t expect the same experience as last year. We’ll have giveaways while you’re waiting in line, we’re literally giving everything away. I want people to know that their really in for a different party experience. Most of the time when you go out you have to keep reaching in your pocket and taking money out. This is more like keep your wallet at home, and just come for good time. It’s like therapy almost and that’s exactly how we’re treating it. It’s a big therapy session with R&B music, and that Avion flowing. I want people to be ready because it’s definitely going to be unforgettable.

  1. How did you guys connect with Avion Tequila?

Avion Tequila just ended up being the right partner for it. They fit the demographic [of our audience] and with the type of event that we want to do. Plus tequila is just consumed more than cognac. We have a 70:30 female to male ratio and women prefer tequila over cognac. So we wanted to provide an open bar that catered more to our crowd, and Avion was definitely it.

  1. Besides giveaways are there any installations?

For sure. There will be art installations, and photo booths. There’s a lot for people to do. I don’t want to give anything away because I really just want people to come out and experience it. It’s not just going to be you show up to just drink and party, even though that’s a big aspect of it; but there’s more to the experience.

  1. How are you feeling about 4 Lovers Only now versus when you initially launched it last year?

I’m still equally nervous. When I put the pre-announcement post up, it did better than the announcement for the previous year. Seeing the feedback this year, I know people are ready for it. I haven’t been as active on social media for that reason, just to stay focused. I know it’ll go well and we’ll get the numbers we need to hit; but I just want to finally get it out there and have people experience all the work we’ve put into it. That’s what means the most to me. I’m nervous, but last year I was nervous with no real assurance of whether it was going to work or not. This year I know it’s going to work, so it [the nervousness] is more from putting it out there.

  1. This time around have you brought in anyone and establish a team to help execute your vision better?

We have the same team. I think it’s important to do that, keep the same people around you. Honestly the only major difference is that the team at Swisher is a little bit different. They are more involved, which is an experience in itself in a good way. They help keep things organized. That’s really the biggest difference and just tying up a few loose ends. The team is pretty much the same; but we are a lot more organized this time around.

  1. Any advice or insight for anyone who wants to launch their own event?

Just to test the market first. Don’t just jump on an idea. You have to make sure it’s something people actually want. Get out there and see what’s actually missing. Take your hat off and put the world’s hat on and look at what’s going on. Take the time to see if you’re filling a void or just doing something that’s already been done. If it’s the latter then see if you can make it better or do something different; but if you step into it doing the same thing you kind of already lost.

  1. Besides organization is there anything you learned from the first tour that you applied this time?

Traveling with less people. Learning just the difference between have this huge team versus how much can get done with a small team of focused people and to just trust our gut. We have an idea that companies will pay millions of dollars to execute. To bring 1,000 people out in a city, that’s no small feat so to trust the vision, stay focused and being as organized as possible.

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4 Lovers Only: A 90’s R&B Experience 2018 Tour Dates

May 25th: Los Angeles

June 22nd: New York City

July 28th: Dallas

Aug. 10th: Miami

For details and to RSVP visit: www.4LoversOnly.us

Categories
Entertainment FLY Interviews

Fly Interview: Event Producer Extraordinaire Devin Cobbs, When Preparation Meets Opportunity

Devin Cobbs, 40oz Van‘s right hand man has dealt with his share of struggle. While most would opt to put on a front especially within the industry, only allowing people the chance to watch their highlight reel. Dev’s opted to embrace his past misfortunes and wear them as a badge of honor. Detailing his experiences with homelessness to his 20K plus followers on Twitter, relative strangers, completely uncensored. Never one to shy away from owning his truth, good or bad Dev’s remained unapologetically himself, in an arena riddled with posers and superficiality.

The soon to be 25 year-old sat down with SFPL‘s own Arlene Danna to discuss linking with Van, the inspiration behind his 4 Lovers Only tour, launching his own production company Produced By Dev, working The Meadows Music & Arts Festival, giving opportunities to people of color in event production, and much more.
 

 

For those who may not be familiar, who is Devin Cobbs?

Devin is an introvert that for whatever reason decided to throw parties and work on festivals and concerts. An entrepreneur and someone who just really cares about the betterment of young black business men and women. That’s me. I’m a lot of other things, but that is a really good description of me.

Is event production something you always saw yourself getting into?

You know this, I used to work at The Source. We had the opportunity to work on a festival they were producing, The Source 360. Even though it didn’t go so well I really loved the running around and all that stuff. I realized there was a little bit of a lane for me doing that instead as opposed to selling ads for the magazine, or trying to write and be a journalist. It was something brand new, I didn’t really know what I was doing. To this day I don’t really know what I’m doing because there’s still so much to learn.

What were you doing while you were at The Source?

Initially I was selling ads for magazines and then I transitioned into trying to secure sponsors for the event everything from that to spreadsheets, guest lists, fixing the website, building the website, coming up with content, coming up with concepts to get sponsors to buy into the event, handling the social media for the events. It was a lot under that job title but that was my role for about 6 months.

It seems like after the Source 360 you kind of knew that you were making a change and pursuing event production.

Well after the Source 360 I was broke. Even though we had done all that work no one really got paid much. I left directly after that. The Source 360 was the second week in September and I was gone as soon as it wrapped. At that time, I took a little break from entertainment in its entirety because although I knew I really loved event production, there wasn’t another job lined up and I hated where I was at. So for a couple of months I worked at Chase, Home Depot, and then I met Van from 40oz. They had an event where I saw him and that kind of transitioned me to the next phase of event production. So it was like “Oh this is cool,” maybe I can try this and then meeting Van. I was like let me take what I learned and apply it to whatever Van had going on.

So you went to a 40oz Bounce here in the city?

I had gone to a couple of them, but that wasn’t really what inspired me to hit him up. Really he was suppose to do something with The Source, but money wise what he wanted we couldn’t provide so it didn’t add up. I still kept his contact and I studied the event throughout the months I was at Chase. I think he did an event with Modelo. It was this huge event they had ASAP Rocky and Ferg at this warehouse in Brooklyn with 1,500-2,000 people. I saw that and I was like “I want to do more of that.” It’s new it’s something that at the time wasn’t too popular. Now everyone has a party tour.

Hamburger Helper and 40oz Bounce celebrate Helper’s 40th birthday at the Good Room in Brooklyn, NY. Credit: Natalia Lens, Dinner Land Network

Yes, back then it was only really Henny Palooza.

Even then the party existed, but the tour going to LA and San Francisco that part of it wasn’t around at the time. I saw Van and I was like maybe we should do something. For whatever reason he believed in me and he let me do it.

That’s really dope. Is there anything you’ve taken from your experience working on 40oz Bounce that you’ve applied to your own agency, the production company you started Produced by Dev?

Of course, everything! I had to learn everything on the fly. When I started working with Van there wasn’t like anyone training me. Van had been running the business by himself along with one or maybe two other business partners, but that was just clothes. There was really no one just doing the events 100 percent of the time, so I had to learn. I apply stuff I learned with 40oz Bounce to The Meadows. Even a festival that big with Hov headlining, when I’m in the planning room I’m like “We did this for 40oz Bounce, we could probably apply this to Meadows.” It ends up actually working because no matter the scale of the event it’s still the same formula. People want good sh*t. You just have to package the good sh*t right and present it to them a certain way. That’s probably the number one thing I learned from Van. How to package things and put them out for people to consume.

When you originally started doing events with Van did you eventually see yourself starting your own event production agency or was it something that kind of evolved?

No, the idea of the agency started in 2016, but I always had these ideas. For Lovers Only the 90’s R&B party was something I had posted on Twitter back in 2015. It was something that was so old, that just now came to life. But no, I had no idea it was going to turn into me having my own production company. It kind of just happened. I’m thankful that it happened that way, that’s just the way of life. Even with everything from The Source, to going there to do one thing and ending up doing another, working with Van on events. Everything just kind of came together organically and I’m happy for that.

Is there anyone in particular who may have pushed you or said yo dev you should be doing this on your own?

No, not necessarily because even though the agency is my own thing working with Van is kind of that too. He runs his clothes and I run the events. It’s not like the two worlds are necessarily intertwined. It’s not him micromanaging me 24/7. I have my own event staff for 40oz Bounce and we manage that with Roc Nation and D’usse. Then the clothes is something that he’s 100 percent involved in. For the events it’s kind of like running my own business anyway. I just have to show him what were doing. It was always like that. The agency came about because I knew I couldn’t do a 90’s R&B party under the 40oz brand so I had to do it under a different brand; which is something that Van himself brought up to me.

You mentioned that you came up with the idea for the R&B party in 2015. Why R&B?

It was just what I was listening to at the time. I was with my ex-girlfriend. That’s just the type of music we would play whenever we were in the car running around etc. I only listen to R&B. At the time that I posted that I was listening to John B “They Don’t Know” and I was just like someone needs to do a party with this type of music. Even now people are taking the idea of using 90’s R&B and incorporating it into their entire event. We all know at event’s that one 15 min set where the DJ plays it, but now it’s more so a lot of parties want to do 90’s R&B the whole night. Which is cool, but when I posted it that wasn’t really the thing. People weren’t really playing that type of music in the club. Not for people our age it was more 35 to 40-year-olds not 21 to 25-year-olds.  I realized there was just a disconnect. This idea that young people don’t like R&B. That’s stupid because a lot of people I know listen to R&B. In the club at the ratchet parties they still drop “Pony” and it goes off. People still love it they just needed something to go to.

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4 Lovers Only Philadelphia

One could say that was kind of the inspiration behind it. You trying to come up with something given the current climate music wise?

That was a part of it. Then the whole aesthetic of it. The way the fliers look, and why I chose the color blue. Why it’s a sexy looking flyer, why the logo and all that are a certain color. I went into a bathroom, I was in San Francisco and the bathroom just had blue lights. This is going to sound weird, but I told my homie “Come into the bathroom real quick, look at this shit.” He was just like “I see what you mean. We can just do an all blue with a little pink here.” So the party itself was inspired, like you mentioned because of what was going on in the city party wise. The feel, the type of party, and vibe that I want you to get when you walk into the venue was inspired by a bathroom in San Francisco. Shoutout to the bathroom.

Funny where inspiration comes from.

It’s weird because you find inspiration anywhere. Yesterday I figured out what I want to do for my birthday in terms of what I want to post. Not anything corny like I’m finally 25 or twenty-fine or some caption like that. I want to post something, but I want it to not be about me and it be something I’m giving to people. It finally clicked on my way home from the gym. I was dead tired, I was so tired and for whatever reason it clicked. You can definitely find inspiration anywhere, from anything, anytime. When you have it you just have to write it down, or record it, or have a whiteboard in your room so you don’t forget it.

Speaking of your birthday, what was your great realization?

I can’t say too much, but essentially it’ll be a guide to help young entrepreneurs. It’ll be a quick and easy guide with some bullet points that I’ve already come up with. The way it’s going to be packaged people will enjoy it. It’s one of those things where the good thing is that I’m going to Jamaica for my birthday. I won’t be online to really see what people are saying about it. I’m just going to post it, airplane mode, and come back 5 days later. Hopefully people f*ck with it.

Do you think it’s necessary when you drop things to kind of disconnect?

Yea, because you would go crazy. You work so hard getting to the actual point of where you can put something out, then you put it out, and you’ll spend the whole day looking. This person doesn’t like it, this person does, this person said you copied them, another says it’s trash. It’s like too much. You kind of just gotta put your shit out and get the fuck out the way to let people enjoy it. If they enjoy it great! If not you come back to it, fix whatever’s wrong, and you put it out again. I don’t really like to sit down and look at everything that is going on. You do that and you end up fucking dizzy. Just get what you need to get out and take a couple days off because you go so crazy trying to make things happen.

Inaugural The Meadows Music & Arts Festival Oct. 1 st & 2nd 2016 in Queens, NY

You previously mentioned that you just wrapped up the Meadows for the second year. How was that?

The Meadows is definitely by far the most fun I have all year. It’s like 45,000 people. What’s tight is that it’s the same team that does The Governors Ball, but with The Meadows it’s a little bit more relaxed. The Governors Ball has been around since before I was a part of the team, so it’s kind of set up the way it’s going to be set up. I’m kind of just there to plug and play and do what I have to do. With The Meadows you can bring in more staff, you can bring in some of your friends to work. That’s the dope thing too. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of black people who produce the event. There a lot of black people that clean up, but there’s not a lot of black people on the production team who can actually hold some type of weight. Getting to bring some of my friends onboard in the past two years has been dope. You can see that there are jobs out here like this that pay really well. You can travel, do all that, and you don’t have to compromise yourself. You can have this grand result, have 45,000 people enjoy it. You have to bring people in though. Unfortunately it’s a world that’s very tight knit. If you don’t know anyone it’s not like you can apply online, that’s not the way it works. However, overall it’s amazing.

Is there anything else you’re currently working on?

There’s a project called “Picture Perfect Christmas.” I’m working with Adidas, General Mills, and other brands where we’re partnering with a shelter and a school in BK to give out clothes, sneakers, food, gloves, hats, basically everything to the less fortunate. That’s what’s going to be taking up a lot of my time after this month. I want to make sure that it’s perfect no pun intended. That’s the main thing then the guide I’m dropping for my birthday, and obviously planning for 2018.

What does fly mean to you?

Ownership is fly. Buying a house is fly, if you’re an artist owning your masters is fly, owning a publication or section of one if you’re working for someone that’s fly. Fixing your credit is fly. All that other s**t is whack. It’s cool to have chains, but you really have to put things into perspective. Being a grown-up and making smart moves.

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Music SFPL's New Music

SFPL Music Premiere: Nate Rose feat Elijah Daxx – “Need It Again”

Today we deliver the latest from hip-hop artist Nate Rose, titled “Need It Again.”

On this SFPL exclusive premiere, Rose offers up a sultry record about linking up with the woman who’s currently the target of his affections. Combined with the sensuous hook delivered by crooner Elijah Daxx, this record is a welcomed addition to your Netflix and Chill playlists.

For more on the Nashville artist connect with him online.

Twitter: @NateRoseMusic

Instagram: @NateRoseMusic

Soundcloud: @NateRoseMusic

About Nate Rose

Nate Rose is a hip-hop artist & creative often referred to as the “James Bond” of rap for his debonair demeanor and emphasis on intellect. Exploring relationships, business, and politics, Rose touches on topics with a fresh perspective backed by tasteful instrumentals and eloquent delivery. The Nashville native handles all the production, graphic design, and video production for his projects; maintaining creative control over his artistic vision throughout every stage. With more than 1 million combined streams across listening platforms with no label backing or external investment, Rose has built an organic fan base through his intricate lyricism, decadent melodies, and strong desire and drive to be one of the greats.

Categories
Music

Fly Interview: Meet Universal Music’s Rising Bilingual Crooner Yunel Cruz

Yunel Cruz is a singer and songwriter from New York City who burst onto the scene with his Billboard charting bachata hit “Mi Dominicanita,” in 2010. Born Jofre Cruz, he went on to sign to Universal Music Latin Entertainment‘s Machete Music imprint home to Don Omar and other notable latin artists.

After the release of his Something Different EP in 2010, Cruz went on to land four more records on the Billboard tropical songs chart including two No. 1’s with “Ay Amiga” and “No Vuelve.” Most recently he released his first bilingual record featuring R&B star Ne-Yo and reggaeton artist J. Alvarez; garnering millions of Spotify streams and views along the way.

Back in his hometown of NYC while prepping for his performance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Soulfrito Fest 2017 alongside some of the hottest names in urban and latin music; SFPL‘s own Arlene Danna chatted with the rising bilingual crooner about his career, love for music, working with Ne-Yo and much more.

Audiences first became acquainted with you back in 2010 with the release of your bachata hit “Mi Dominicanita.” Since you’ve landed on the Billboard charts several times including snagging two No.1’s. How has your life changed since you released your first EP Something Different?

Wow, it’s changed a lot. I think that, you know it’s been a journey that you embark on and you don’t really truly know what to expect. When we released that first single, at least for me I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know the acceptance was going to be so huge. It started off in New York, then the Dominican Republic and then it just went crazy. With that first single I got to travel to places I would have never imagined. I went to Ecuador and other parts of South America. Here in the United States we went to Utah, San Diego, L.A.. So it’s crazy. My life has changed a ton. I got to move from the Northeast in Boston and now I reside in Miami. It’s been a long journey and one that I’ve enjoyed a lot but my life has definitely changed in every way.

Your latest single “Sin Miedo” features reggaetonero J. Alvarez and R&B singer Ne-Yo. How did that collaboration come about? 

The collaboration came about because I had the record. I was working with my producer Lenny Medina. He’s worked with Romeo Santos and Enrique Iglesias. We had the record and the minute I heard “Sin Miedo” I loved it. The beat is crazy, and I went you know what let’s reach out and get this fire. We reached out to Ne-Yo and he sent me his verse and it was amazing. When Ne-Yo recorded his part it was beautiful, but it made the song kind of long. So I was trying to figure out what we were going to do with the record. Afterwards I was like you know what let’s put a reggaetonero on it since it would be my first record that’s both english and spanish. Before all the singles that we released were bachata singles. People don’t know that I do R&B, that I do Hip-Hop, that I do all kinds of music. You know I grew up in New York but it’s like a lot of people don’t know that I have all those other genres in me. So I was like you know what let’s reach out to J. Alvarez. We’re good friends and he’s an amazing artist who I respect a lot. He works independently and I respect that. When I started I was an independent artist as well. Now I’m actually signed to Universal. Been with them for a few years but I respect him very much. We we’re going to reach out to Maluma, but at the time he just finished doing a record with Shakira and Ricky Martin so he couldn’t jump on a third single at the time because the release time wasn’t going to work. So J. Alvarez said I’m on it, he recorded the verse it was fire and there it was, that was the record.

So you immediately had Ne-Yo in mind when you heard the record?

Yes, it just sounded like Ne-Yo to me as soon as I heard it. He’s one of the artists that I grew up admiring a ton. R&B artists are Ne-Yo and Usher for me but he’s one of my top favorite artists that I grew up emulating. For me it was an honor to grow up and actually work with him. You know it’s kind of crazy because when you start making music you don’t know where you’re going to be tomorrow. You just make music with love and from the heart. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that I one day I would be recording and working with one of my idols. So that to me was incredible and what made it even more special was how humble and great of a person he is. It’s unreal. We sat down and spent time together. He’s just a unbelieveable soul, so it’s cool.

You guys shot the video in L.A. how was that experience?

I thought it was cool. I wanted L.A. because I wanted a different feel. I had shot “Ay Amiga” in Miami and I wanted a different look and feel to it. It was off the chain. I love the vibe in L.A. I wanted to bring that to the video. It’s kind of crazy because we had a different theme in mind. We kind of wanted to do like a racing thing and then when I read the script I was like okay this is like Fast and Furious no we’re not going to do that. So we went with the party scene and it was dope. Everything worked out.

“Sin Miedo” manages to fuse together multiple genres. It isn’t just bachata, or reggaeton, or pop. How would you describe it? 

I would describe “Sin Miedo” as a bilingual latin american song. It’s a dope fusion. If you speak spanish you can vibe to it, if you like english music you can vibe to it. It’s a big fusion of different flavors and that’s what makes it dope. I love the record and people have been responding well to it. If you see the streaming numbers 1.7 million so far, and people on YouTube supporting it; it’s beautiful.

Yunel Cruz at the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Awards

Is this the sound audiences should be expecting on your forthcoming debut Divina Voluntad

For sure. That’s definitely the sound. I’m working very hard to change the sound of what people are accustomed to hearing from me, you know that romantic side. People are going to be shocked with the new records. I have a couple of other special collaborations that people are going to really dig and enjoy.

Are you able to give us any hints on who you’ve been collaborating with?

We have a couple really big collabs that I can’t say now, but I will make sure I get it to you first. It’s going to be cool. I think people are going to dig the new Yunel and the direction that we’re going. I’m looking forward to you guys hearing the new music.

You wrote your first song at age 9 so it’s safe to say that music has always been your passion. Are there any influences in your life that have pushed you in that direction? 

Yes, I’ve been writing my whole life. I think so. When I was younger I started writing because of my Mom. She told me that if I wanted something fun to do that opens your mind just write your emotions. That’s where it came from to write music. I’ve worked with really big artists and songwriters as well and for me I just find I have a passion for writing my own stuff and what I feel. Then to get to perform those songs and to get the support from people it’s pretty cool. You create something from your heart and people vibe with it, it’s one of the coolest feelings ever.

Besides singing do you have any other musical talents? 

I play a little guitar, I used to play the trombone when I was younger. I haven’t played it in a long time. Music is my thing so I try to touch different instruments and enjoy the time when I’m in the studio and just play around with them too.

You’ll be performing at Soulfrito Fest 2017 alongside some of the biggest in urban and latin music like Rick Ross and Zion y Lennox. How have you been preparing for your performance? 

I’ve been just getting myself ready by figuring out the show. On my end it’s a little more complex because it’s not a show that’s set like this is the set that we’re doing. It’s a change and it’s going to be the first time people are going to see me doing my bilingual thing. Singing in both english and spanish on stage it’s going to be pretty cool for me and I’m just really excited. New York is home so it’s going to be a good time.

You can catch Yunel performing Friday June 9th at Soulfrito Fest 2017 at the Barclays Center alongside Rick Ross, Zion y Lennox, Ivy Queen, Young M.A., Fetty Wap, Cardi B, and more!

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FLY Events

Fly Events: House of Rémy Martin and Chef Marc Forgione Celebrate National Cognac Day

Rémy Martin joined forces with Chef Marc Forgione for a magical night in New York City on Wednesday May 10 in honor of National Cognac Day.

Held at Forgione’s Tribeca restaurant that also bears his namesake, VIP guests included supermodel Shanina Shaik, Power‘s Joseph Sikora, designer Carlos Campos, DJ/Director Vashtie, and singer Eyme Santos.

Joseph Sikora

Attendees were able to enjoy any of the four signature cocktails: The Classic, Dusk to Dawn, #ThatsWhatILike, and The Outfit; all takes on a traditional sidecar. DJ Kitty Kash was on hand to provide the evening’s soundtrack.

Of course Forgione showcased his exceptional culinary chops, serving fan favorite menu items like the burger, steak on toast, chili lobster skewers, hiramsa spoons, and more.

Kitty Cash

Rémy Martin’s Vice President of Marketing Emma Medina said a few words and also took the opportunity to thank Forgione for his role in Rémy Martin’s Circle Of Centaurs Mentorship Program. The renowned chef then introduced Circle of Centaurs Winner Jermaine Wright; who was able to showcase his winning jerked stewed pork recipe for those in attendance.

The event in New York City was held in conjunction with similar celebrations in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Shanina Shaik

Hit the gallery below for pictures of the spectacular evening.

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Photo Credit: Madison / BFA for Rémy Martin

Categories
Entertainment

Devin Cobbs Talks 40oz Bounce, Launching Produced By Dev, and More on Premiere EP of ‘For Those That Don’t Know’ Podcast

As 40oz Van‘s right hand man, Devin Cobbs has been integral in taking the 40oz Bounce to new heights. From its humble beginnings in a Washington Heights park, his suggestion to take this one-of-a-kind party on the road has propelled the brand to awe-inspiring levels.

The Brooklyn native recently sat down with the Bay Area’s Russell North for the premiere episode of the For Those That Don’t Know podcast. The duo discuss launching his 4 Lovers Only tour; a 90’s R&B experience inspired by a tweet, growing the 40oz brand, starting his own agency Produced By Dev, dating, and much more; offering up plenty of life gems for anyone looking to improve their hustle.

Listen to the nearly 60 minute clip below.

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Twitter + Instagram: @DevCNY & @RussellNorth415

About 
For Those That Don’t Know aims to provide up-and-coming hustlers industry insight, by offering listeners in-depth conversations on living in the digital era from an entrepreneur’s perspective.
Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play or follow them Soundcloud.
Categories
Entertainment FLY Interviews

Fly Interviews: Get Familiar With YouTuber Alonzo Lerone, Mastermind Behind ‘Dumbest Fails’

YouTube is a platform where millions of people go to express themselves, connect with others, and build communities. Alonzo Lerone began his YouTube channel almost a decade ago as a way to make friends, after spending the majority of his life constantly moving due to his father’s career in the military. This of course made it difficult for Lerone to establish relationships with his peers and eventually led him to YouTube where proximity doesn’t matter.

Over the years, Lerone built his audience organically by offering commentary on the best, funniest, strangest, and most failworthy posts on the Internet. After splitting his time between a day job and making videos, him getting the axe was the push he needed to dedicate himself to YouTube full-time.

SFPL’s own Arlene Danna spoke with Alonzo about his success, his first video on YouTube, where he finds content, hitting a million subscribers, being chosen to attend YouTube’s Creator Summit 2017, and much more.

For those who may not be familiar with you, can you tell us who is Alonzo Lerone?

“Just a normal guy from a little town, I’m in North Carolina. I’m a military brat. I’m basically a YouTuber right now. I’ve been doing it for eight years where I make videos about social media fails, grammar mistakes, and that’s about it.”

Is this something you saw yourself turning into a career when you first started? 

“Definitely not because I had a 9-5 actually a 9-9 job. I did YouTube on the side. It was an outlet for me. Coming from different schools growing up being a military brat. I was born in Germany, was in the Philippines for a little bit then California. I made new friends but I didn’t have that sense of belonging. When I came to North Carolina everyone was so different. This is where my father retired. Every time I asked my Mom if this was the last place she’d say yes but then two places later we’re moving. I was in that situation where I didn’t know if I should make friends right now because every time I’d get attached we’d move. So in that situation I just basically had YouTube. After I graduated from high school I decided to make a YouTube video ranting about my life because a friend of mine cancelled on me at the last-minute when we had plans. We had made plans for months and months. So that’s what I did and I started connecting with people overseas, in the same state, and on the west coast. I was terminated in around 2010 or 2011 and I decided to make it my full-time job and six years after that I’m still here doing it.”

Wow, awesome! So it wasn’t until you were let go from your job that you saw turning your videos into something more? 

“Well yes. I was already hooked on YouTube. I started making friends, I travelled to the UK to meet them in person after talking for so long online. So I was kind of on thin ice because I made YouTube my priority during my job and my stint at the bakery. I would actually go on break just to upload and check comments. So that was easy for me so I kind of knew I was on thin ice. So when they actually gave me the hammer I just said well everything happens for a reason. It gave me more time to concentrate on what I loved.”

It’s funny how life works out that way. You’ve reached a million subscribers on your channel. How was it reaching such a milestone? 

“Yes! Well, I don’t concentrate on numbers. I don’t want to misguided or distracted from what I came here to do. Which is make friends. I don’t want to get lost in the sauce of numbers, but someone tweeted me about hitting a million subscribers. I actually hit it on Thanksgiving Day last year while I was with my family. So that was amazing because I started YouTube with my family at zero subscribers and I ended up with a million subscribers on Thanksgiving Day so that was a great feeling.”

That’s really dope, on Thanksgiving of all days. 

“It’s crazy how things work out like that.”

How do you find content for your videos?

“Well my subscribers, the audience, my viewers send them to me. Which is crazy because the first few years I would do it myself. I’m on the Internet anyway so I’d do it myself. When the series Dumbest Fails started getting traction and getting picked up by different things people would email me, or tweet me, or Facebook me, or inbox me things. I decided to react to that and it made my career so much easier and that’s why I cater to them.”

Talk about harnessing the power of the Internet. Tell us what are you currently working on? 

“Well I’m going to a YouTube summit in New York in May. I’m getting prepared for that. This is will be my first time at the event so I’m getting ready for that but in the meantime I’m still making videos. I’m actually editing a video right now that I’d like to get up by tomorrow. Editing is the hardest process but I’m in the zone when I’m editing so I’m alright with that.”

Was editing something you were familiar when you started with your videos or is it something you’ve sort of learned to master over time? 

“I’ve perfected it along the way most definitely. Every time I’m editing I’m always in the zone. I can’t hear my phone, I can hear the TV but it sounds like a bee because I’m in the zone.”

Tell us about the summit.

“It’s a YouTube summit. It’s a bunch of elite YouTubers getting together, connecting with each other, learning more about YouTube, how to grow, and connect with brands.”

Awesome, that’s really dope. You guys have like your own little community and it’s kind of like expanding from the people who watch your videos and getting to meet other people just like you who are creating. 

“Exactly. It’s a wonderful feeling that doing what I love can make me and have me living comfortably and smart too because you’ve got to save. The money just comes while I’m doing what I do so it’s just a flawless connection right there.”

Besides your videos and the summit do you have anything else in the works?

“Right now I’m just taking it a day at a time. I just got my house and I paid off my school loans after graduating. So I’m just trying to be at ease, not too much stress. I’m just trying to take it each day at a time. I don’t expect anything but I’m just living for each day right now.”

That’s great. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own YouTube channel and creating a platform?

“Don’t get discouraged by focusing on the numbers. Back to what I was saying about numbers because there was that one time I did and that was my fault but I learned from my mistakes. It could have been so much worst if I concentrated on other people versus me. Do not get discouraged off views. Keep it going, keep it consistent, connect with your audience and go from there. The blessings will come to you when you least expect it just keep on doing what you love.”

Last question just for fun. What does fly mean to you?

“Handling your own, taking charge with no regrets and learning from your mistakes. That’s what fly means to me.”

Great answer! 

Follow Alonzo

Twitter + Instagram: @AlonzoLerone

YouTube.com/Alonzo

 

 

 

Categories
Entertainment

Combat Jack Talks Growing Up in Brooklyn, His Love for NYC, and More on EP 3 of ‘Clever In The City’

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“Is New York City in love me?” These days Combat Jack finds himself pondering this very question.

As the former Editor in Chief of The Source and now as the host of The Combat Jack Show and Founding partner of the Loudspeakers Podcast Network, Jack has become an industry honcho through the pursuit of his creative endeavors.

In “The Art of Combat,” episode 3 of the Dinner Land Network’s budding series Clever In The City; he sits down with Cleverly Chloé to discuss his upbringing, whether he believes you can find a balance between love and creativity, which Sex and the City character he relates to most, his love for the Big Apple, and more.

On Creativity vs Love:

“I think both because if you’re creating then there is love. If you’re fortunate enough to be in that pocket in New York City [because] New York City doesn’t stimulate creativity and love as much as it did before. It stimulates capitalism.”

On which Sex and the City character he would date: 

“Carrie because Carrie was I think out of all of them in the cast she was the most down to earth out of all of the characters on Sex and the City. I think all of the other characters were like caricatures, but I felt when I watched that show like Carrie spoke to me the most. It doesn’t help that she was the star of the show, but she spoke to me the most. I understood her world more than I did the others.”

For the full conversation watch episode 3 of Clever In The City “The Art of Combat” above.