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Feature: Leonte

Leonte

Leonte here! Tell us a little bit about the different things that you do. 

Yeah, so I mean, first and  foremost, I’m a person. And I like to be that way. I come with a lot of emotions and a lot of  ideas and feelings that I bring into my art and my work. I’m a model. I love to create very vivid images and stuff with posing and stuff like that. I’m also a creative director for a magazine called Lex Style Mag. It’s about creating a vibe between fashion and music, and really creating a home for that to collaborate and become real is something important for us.

But I also make music. I’m a singer. I make like alternative R&B, pop and rock vibes. I’m really just taking all of those and really just adding my own spice into it, adding a little bit of me and really my goal with that music is to create an environment and create an  environment where people can feel emotions that they may not you know be privy to or may not  have understanding of but you know they can empathize with the pain, empathize  with  the  joy,  empathize with the yearning, love, right? I want to create an environment that you  can experience those things safely amazing so how long have you been doing modeling yeah  so I’ve been modeling for 10 years I’ve been singing all my life I started off in my church choir  shout  out  yeah  so  for  like  most  people  that  started  off  in  the  church  like  singing  was  a big part of my life it was a big  part of my life I expressed myself. I started making my own  music physically about a year and a half, two years ago, is when I actually started that.

How has your journey in fashion really impacted your journey into music? 

Honestly, I think the fashion in the music industry is so interwoven that it was like a seamless  transition. I went from, you know, trying to figure out how to… create very vivid pictures and, you know,  how to do really crazy poses to, like, saying, “Well, how do I create a vivid sound with my voice?

If I do this type of movement while I’m singing, will the sound come out differently from this?”  Right? So everything just kind of translated differently, right? Saying like, “Okay, well, when I  do this performance, I want to wear this type of outfit  so  that  it  conveys  this  message while I’m performing this  song.”  Right?  Really  aligning  the  fashion  with  the  music  and  the  tone  with  the  environment  to  create  a  full  image  and  a  full  picture  is  kind  of  where  that  fashion  piece  really  really  locked  me  in.

As you said, you are now involved in the magazine. What has it been like going from  being the model to being the subject and actually having that creative control?

Honestly, becoming  the  creative  director  of  Lex  Style  magazine  is  one  of  my  biggest  accomplishments  today.  I  think  being  in  charge  of  the  visual  outlook  of  a  project  such  as  Lex Style  Mag has  put  a  huge  weight  on  my  shoulders  that  I’d  love  to  take  on. It’s really  giving  me  the  opportunity  to  take  my  wildest  dreams  and  put  it  out  into  a  visual  medium  and  share  it  with  the  world  is  something  that I  don’t  take  lightly.  I  think  it’s  something  that  takes  a  lot  of  time  and  effort,  it  takes  a  lot  of  attention  and  I  think  because  of  that  I’ve  been  able  to  take  all  of  my  years  of  modeling  and  understanding  what  poses  look  good  and  what  poses  don’t.

Kind  of  the  energy  behind  the  photo  and  what  clothes  will  look  good  and  what  poses.  I’ve  been  really  able  to  create  really  detailed  outlines  of  like  this  that  I  want  to  create  and  I  think  that’s  something  that  you  know  I’m  looking  to  bring  out  the  best  in  myself  for  this  magazine  and  for  others. I  also  do  freelance creative direction  for  other  brands, so  it’s  like  always  fun  to  be  able  to  express  myself  in  this  place. 

All  of  the  work  that  you  do  is  truly  so  inspirational  and  incredible. What  do  you  think  is  the  hardest  part  about  continuing  that?

Thank  you  so  much  for  joining  me.  Being  a  artist  and  how  you  feel.  I  think  the  hardest  part  about  consistently  releasing  creative  pieces  is  understanding  your  value  but  also  understanding  the  value  of  the  people  around  you.

I  think  as,  when  you’re  the  model,  everything’s  centered  around  you  and  how  you’re  feeling  and  what  you’re  getting  paid,  like  you’re,  you  know, the  experience.  you’re  getting,  but  when  you’re  really  the  creative  director,  when  you’re  really  at  the  top  of  that  situation,  it’s  more  about,  okay,  how  do  I  make  sure  these  people  that  are  helping  me  create  this  vision  that  I  have  feel  valued  and  feel, you  know,  I  see  the  best  of  our  abilities  and  feel  comforted  in  these  aspects.  I  think  that’s  one  of  the  hardest  things  because,  you  know,  obviously  in  this  world,  you  live  in  and  you  want  to  cut  down  on  costs  as  much  as  possible, but  also  it’s  like,  you  want  to  pay.  people  what  they’re  worth,  so  they  pay  for  what  they’re  worth.  I  like  saw  that,  it’s  like  trying  to  get  people  with  disabilities. 

What  has  been  like  your  biggest  inspiration,  both  in  fashion  and  music? 

I  played  football  in  college.  And  so  a  big  inspiration  in  my  fashion  sense  was  Odell Beckham  Jr.  Like,  he  was  getting  big  and  popular  in  football. His  outfits  on  and  off  the  field  were  always  the  same.  The  field  outfits  were  always  icy  and  dripped  out  with  the  signed  sneakers,  the custom likeness, you know,  how  he  used  to  do  it.

But  then  off  the  field,  it  was  also  him  showing  up  to  events drippy,  showing  his  style  off.  I  think  things  like  that  really  pushed  me  to  actually  work  towards  being  more  creative  with  my  outfits  on  and  off  the  field. In  terms  of  music,  I  think  somebody  that  really  inspired me was  Juice  Wrld,  I  think  I  will  say  “Lucid  Dreams”  came  at  a  time  that  I  needed  it.

And  I  think,  you  know,  just  that  being  his  day…  debut,  like,  hit  that  popped  off  for  him  and  that  was  the  one  that  caught  me  and  then  ever  since,  like,  I  listened  to  every  single  song  that  he  put  out  like,  that  was  someone  that  really  inspired  me  to  be  more  of  a  leader,  but  he  also  inspired  me  to  just  be  creative, I  don’t  think you  could  ever  say,  “Oh,  Juice  Wrld’s  gonna  rap  like  this  on  this  flow.”  It  was  always  something  completely  different  than  his  last  song,  something  completely,  you  know, new  but  it  had  the  same  feel,  the  same  environment  around  him,  right?  And,  you  know,  he  had  a  way  of  talking  about  like  really  hard  subjects  with  a  light  tone  that  made  him  want  to  party  while  you’re  listening  to  it, right?  Which  is  something  that  I  want  to  create,  but  also  different.  So  for  mine,  like,  I  definitely  don’t  take  as  much  of  the  drug  abuse  and  alcoholism  into  my  music. It’s complex  idealist,  you  know, abandonment. Heartfelt  pain.  The  concept  of, like,  where  you’re  supposed  to  be  and,   you  know,  like  flirting. I  want  to  do,  like,  really,  like,  take  those  archetypes  and  really  create  stories  in  my  music.  I  think  that’s  really  what  I’m  focusing  on  right  now.

I  think  that’s  really  the  beauty  of  music.  You’re  able  to  take  inspiration, and  take  ideas, while  also  interacting  with  your  own  personality,  your  own  blood, which is so  incredible  and  great  to  see  from  you. 

And  what  are  we? 

So  what  I’ll  say  right  now  is  there’s  going  to  be  an  influx  of  art, an  influx  of  modeling  and  an  influx  of  music.  Right  now  my  goal  is  in  this  2023.  year  are  to  get  three  good  releases  and  build  up  a  catalog  behind  them  so  that  I  have  a  lot  to  push  out  for  everybody, as  well  as  create  four  really  good  covers  and  magazines  to  release  out  to  the  public  and  to  collaborate  with  as  many  talented  artists  as  I  can.  Like  my  goal  is  not  to  get  up  there  by  myself, my  goal  is  to  bring  everybody  out  here  at  50  and  I  think  that  when  we  create  a  community  of  people  that  support  each  other  and  uplift  each  other  in  this  fashion  and  music  space,  that’s  when  we  really  drive, right?  Because  you’re  only  as  good  as  your  network,  and  it’s  only  as  good  as  how  many  people  you  have  with  you  in  your  team,  right?  And,  you  know,  what  they  like  to  say  is  network  federally,  don’t  network  forward.

Because  you  never  know  who  in  your  circle  is  going  to  be  the  next  one  up,  and  you’re  all  riding  together.  So  that’s  going  to  be  good.  there.  So,  it  just  supports  people  around  you,  it  supports  the  day  one,  it’s  going  to  come  the  day  zero, it’s  going  to  rock.  Well,  I  am  so  very  excited  to  see  what’s  next  for  Beyonce.  Everybody  should  be  on  the  watch  for  what’s  coming  next.  He’s  going  to  be  hitting  us  with  new  music,  have  sure  new  books, new  shoots.  So  please  be  on  the  lookout  for  him!

Features

Feature: Devon Thompson

Devon Thompson

What  are  you  looking  forward  to  the  most  in  2024? 

No  bullshit.  No  bullshit  2024.  That’s  what  I’m  looking  forward  to. I’m  gonna  like  leave  all  the  negative  stuff  behind  and  like  try  and  change  my  mindset  about  certain  things.  So  I  feel  like  that’s,  and  also  work  harder  and  practice  more. Just  be  more  disciplined  within  myself,  I  think. 

Can  we  say  what  those  certain  things  are? 

Yeah,  practice  sitting  down  and  practicing  my  guitar  every  single  day  more. Because,  it  gets  hard  like  when  you  play  shows  it’s  easy  to  just  like  only  play  when  you’re  at  shows  or  during  band  practice  for  me  I  want  to  sit  down  and  be  disciplined  also  not  beat  myself  up  over  stuff  that  I  can’t  control.

A  lot  of  people  are  really  upset  with  themselves  when  they  like  especially  living  here  when  you  feel  like  and  you’re  an  artist  and  you  feel  like,  ‘God,  I  wish  I  was  doing  more.  I  wish I  could.  Why  don’t  I  have  this,  why  don’t  I  have  this,’  like  you  can’t  control  that  the  only  thing  you  can  control  is  your  personal  growth  and  what  you  put  into  it  and  like  you  know  if  if  you  got  something like  it  you’ll  get  it  out  if  you  really  work  hard.  You  can’t  just  sit  around,  you  can’t  expect  it  to  come  to  you.  You  have  to  work  for  it.  I  think  that’s  a  really  good  piece  of  advice  to  give  artists  in  general  because  you  know  we’re  in  a  new  game  social  media,  and  a  lot  of  it  is  like  creating  content  yourself,  and  I  know artists are making  a  lot  more  of  their  own  music  videos in  a  way  that  I’ve  never  seen  before,  have  you  noticed  that?  – I  have  noticed  that  because,  you  know,  TikTok  did  that.  TikTok  made  like  making  your  own  mini  music  video  a  thing.  So  I  actually  think  it’s  amazing  because  it  allows  artists  to  have  more  freedom  with  what  you  do.

I  think  that’s  really  special  and  it’s  really,  but  it’s  also  really,  really  hard to  do  that,  because  this  is  what  you  have  to  do. Every  day,  I’ve  struggled  with  that.  I  used  to  hate  it  and  now  I’ve  like  changed  my  mindset  we’re  like  no  I’m  gonna  like  do  this  and  embrace  it  and  really  show  people  like  what  I’m  about.

 I  think  everything  is  easier  when  you  have  a  team  of  people  and  people  who  just  really  like  add  to  your  circle  as  time  goes  on.  They  see  your  mission  and  your  vision.

Has  it  been  easy  for  you  to  find  your  team?

It,  surprisingly,  has  been  easy.  It’s  because  I’ve  been  putting  myself  out  there.  It’s  been  easier.  And  I  have  a  wonderful  team  that  I’m  working  with  right  now  already.

But  I’m  always  looking  for,  like,  expansion.  We  need  more  people  involved.  We  need  all  the  people  involved.  You  know,  your  fans  are  your  team.  You  know,  you  are  your  team.  Like,  everyone  a  part  of  it  is  important.

So,  like,  that  being  said,  I’m  always  looking  for  new  kingdom.  to  work  with  and  being  over  minded  So  like  I  feel  like  it’s  easier  now.

What  other  goals  do  you  have  for  the  year? 

My  goals  are  to  be  be  more  social.  I  can  easily  double  down  and  just  just  be  by  myself  and  working  on  stuff,  but  my  plan  this  year  is  to  make  more  friends  and  to  be  more  social with  my  family,  friends  and  with  new  people.  I  push  myself  further  this  year. My music  breaks  down  barriers  and  standards  for  female  guitar  players.  It’s  a  big  one,  because  we’re  still  it’s  still  really  stigmatized.

Talk  to  me  about  that  stigma  that female guitar  players  face.

So  many  women  are  scared  to  play  guitar,  and  a  lot  of  them  tell  me  they’re  like  I  am  too  scared  to  get  up  there  and  play  it  or  even  if  they  do  play  if  they’re  like,  um, ‘I’m  the  rhythm  guitar  player,’  or  whatever. You  don’t  see  a  lot  of  female  guitar  players  out  there  because  it’s  so  stigmatized.  If  they’re  not  like  an  insane  shredder  people  are  like  you  got  them  stuck  it  happens  so  much  and  i’m  a  Gibson  sponsored  artist,  so  i  they  saw  something  in  me  that  gave  me  hope  to  keep  pushing  myself  so  now  i  tend  to only  play  in  three  pieces. I’m  the  lead  guitar  player  and  lead  vocalist  this  year. That’s  what  I’m  going  to  push  on  people  because  I  have  some  really  not  that  good  like  okay  like  that’s  fine.

 It  used  to  get  to  me  and  now  I’m  like  just  use  that  to  practice  practice  and  be  disciplined  and  safe  off  it  just  do  it  you  know  that’s  what  I’m  doing. 

Do  you  think  that  female  artists  in  general  also  get  that  sort  of  stigma  and  is  it  coming  from  the  butthurt  men?
Absolutely.  Yeah,  no  totally.  It’s  the  main  the  main  thing  like  I  get  comments  online  that  are  like,  you  know  They  can  be  really  really  derogatory  and  and  it’s  you  know  what  it’s  Generally  men  or  very  jealous  women  who  don’t  like  themselves  and  hate  their  lives. And  I’m  like,  ‘why  do  girls  girls  hate  me?  Why  do  certain  men  hate  me?’

And  it’s  nothing  that  you’ve  done.  It’s  just  you  have  to  remember  that  there  are  people  that  just  love  to  hate  you  out  there.

They  love  it,  especially  because  you’re  doing  what  they  want  to  do.  They  want  to  do  what  you’re  doing.  And  you  just  have  to,  like,  you  literally  just  have  to  understand  and  recognize  the  personality  traits.  They’re  like,  no, that  is  not  a  person  who  is  cool  or,  like,  wants  to  help  or  even  knows  what  they’re  talking  about.  about,  you  know  what  I  mean?  Tell  us  a  bit  about  the  music  that  you  have  dropping  this  year  though.  Do  we  have  anything  to  look  forward  to  in  the  first  few  months?  Actually,  I  have  a  new  single  coming  out  in  like  a  week  and  a  half. And  my  goal  for  this  year  is  to  have  a  songwriter  and  I  want  to  be  a  part  of  it.  really,  really  creative  with  what  I’m  doing  this  year.  All  my  music  videos  are  like  mini  movies  type  situations, like  the  Twilight  Zone  kind  of,  and  I  like  creating…  I  really  just  want  to  pay  homage  to  the  universe  and  a  whole…  I  mean,  to  put  it  simply,  a  sort  of  vibe  on  everything.

 Like  with  my  branding,  with  my  merch,  like  this  is…  is  I  don’t  know  if  you  can  see  it  – oh  I  have  a  lot  of  teeth  in  in  like  my  merch  stuff  like  that  and  in  my  songs  just  like  really  Really  visceral  and  really  guttural, but  also  have  been  also  with  an  imperial  edge  And  I  want  my  music  videos  to  translate  that  it’s  gonna  mean  soon  So  I  want  to  be  cohesive  so  new  singles  out  and  then  we’re  gonna  have  and  I  have  a  lot  of  music  dropping  this  year.  And  I’m  playing  a  lot  of  shows  shows  and  that’s  what’s  been  happening  this  year  So  yeah  in  January  17th.

 What’s are you releasing?

It’s  called  I  love  you,  but  it  hurts  like  hell.

Who  are  some  of  your  favorite  musical  inspirations  from  Los  Angeles?

 Well,  I  don’t  don’t  sound  anything  like  her,  but  I  love  Phoebe  Bridger’s  ability  to  be  anti.  So  like  what  LA  is  not,  and  I  think  that’s  really  cool.

 So  I  like  that  she  can  do  that.  How  about  some  of  your  most  influential  artists  that  you  listen  to  growing  up  that  have  really  kicked  yourself?  Yeah,  growing  up.  Blondie  is  a  big  one  for  me.

 I  have  a  lot  of  80s  music  and  70s  music.  has  really  shaped  what  I  do.  So  Blondie  and  then  a  big  big  goth  like  inspiration  to  me,  Suzy  and  the  band  she’s  really  big  and  then  some  newer  stuff  like  or  kind  of  newer  some  like  some  deftome  stuff  some  my  bloody  Valentine  stuff  and  it’s  harder  for  me  to  find  newer  inspirations  just  because  like  I  don’t  know  it’s  just  it’s  it’s  hard  it’s  hard  for  me  and  then  uh  yeah  so

 those  are  some  of  my  inspirations  for  sure.  Dice  was  there  anything  else  that  you  want  to  grab  about  before  being  grabbed?  Yeah  I  think  that  a  lot  of  people  don’t  talk  about  again  what  I  said  before  about  how  disparaging  this  can  be  and  how  how  much  self -doubt  can  be  involved  with  this  um  and  I  have  been  my  worst  enemy  base  in  doing  this  and  um  you  know  my  I  think  a  lot  of  that  has  to  do  with  people  you surround  yourself  with.  You  can  tell  who  really  supports  you  and  who  doesn’t  and  who  are  out  to  get  you,  who  poses  your  friends,  but  they’re  not.  Make  sure  you  surround  yourself  with  loving  people  and  people  who  value  you  really.

 Some  talk  about  it  enough  here,  especially  with  people  who  aren’t  from  here  and  who  are  from  here.  It’s  just  like  both.  So  find  the  right  people  who  lift  you  up.  Both  of  you  guys  are in  a  relationship  sort  of  thing.  And  also,  just  walk  out  of  the  bullshit.  It’s  what  I’m  going  to  do  this  year  and  I’m  going  to  work  on  it.

 So  for  everyone  who’s  struggling  out  there  with,  you  know,  artist  identity,  sort  of  the  like,  “What  am  I  doing?”  You’re  here  for  a  reason,  you’re  here  for  a  reason.  And  just  believe  in  yourself.  Believe  in  yourself.

 Don’t  talk  but  thank  you  for  your  time.  Thank  you  so  much.

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Features

Feature: Alivia Wraith

Alivia Wraith

Miss Girl. How are you doing today, love?
I’m doing wonderful. It’s a gorgeous day for being the peak of winter.

So where does your inspiration for fashion come from? Because, you know, as an artist, I feel like fashion is a really great medium to express yourself.
That’s true. You know, I, in the fifth grade, on Halloween, I spent like a month making a milk carton costume from scratch out of a water heater box. I painted the whole thing by hand. So I’ve been designing my own things, just kind of making things up since I was very little. And then my hairstyles, I kind of just get created with it the same way I do with like music, painting, and I just make stuff up. And along the way, I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t like. It really helped me formulate my style. And I do get inspiration from like, inspirations that inspire me in music, also inspire my style. I like a girl that can do both, so I’m either dressed like this, or like big t -shirt baggy jeans. Yeah, I just kind of go with whatever I’m feeling in the mirror. I just make it up. I love that. No, I think, you know, it’s good to be able to do both, to do everything, you know?

You mentioned you get a lot of inspiration from your fashion and from music. So who are your top inspirations for music right now?
Totally. I want to say for right now, because it’s always evolving. changing. My main inspiration, the girl that’s like speaking to me right now, is Melanie Martinez. Just to see how far she’s got, she’s come from the get -go. She started performing on like Hollywood Boulevard and now she’s just evolved into this whole character. Her visuals go crazy. So definitely Melanie Martinez, Billie Eilish totally. I used to get told that I sounded like her when I did more of my airy, whispery vocals. So I started listening to her music and I found that she’s definitely, she speaks to me too. It goes all the way back to the 90s. I grew up listening to like Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine. So I have like a little grungy side to me too. Mazzy Star. She was like one of the first artists that I learned how to play her music on piano. So I have like, I pull from all genres. I love music and it just, in general, like I said, it’s always, it’s always changing. But if I could pick one person that’s inspiring to the most right now would be Melanie Martinez.
I can definitely see that. I also grew up listening to Melanie Martinez and just like seeing her music videos. She was very like expressive about herself the way she dressed and like I can very much that and what you give up too so and I love that.

I love you! So you mentioned, you know, learning how to play the piano and so I know back in November you had your first performance where you did piano live. How was that experience for you? I’m sure there was some nerves. Like how did you deal with that? What was that like? Tell us about it.
Thank you so much for like… recognizing that. It was amazing because I remember like one of my first memories back I wasn’t even walking it. I don’t know how old I was. My dad got me like a one-octave toy piano. I just remember the feeling I had when I touched it and and then I got keyboards but I’ve always played in my bedroom so there’s definitely a lot of nerves involved playing live through a live session on logic on stage with my interface plugged in. It was all new to me but it felt invigorating. My hands were shaking but it was really cool. I could feel the energy gravitating towards me that people were really like kind of stunned that wow like the sounds that we’re hearing she actually plays these on the keys in her room and like really does produce this music. It was it was exhilarating and I’m excited to do it more. I have a lot more songs that I’m gonna be playing live on keyboard. I have a guitarist so I’m coming back to like the live instrumentation. I think it’s really important to keep that alive. Yeah it felt amazing. I just I remember just like my hands shaking and I had like these nails on the other day and I realized like I can’t even have my nails done because otherwise it gets in way of the keys yeah but I’m excited to be able to do that and sing at the same time. It’s a great experience.

How do you unwind after your performances? I’m sure you know they can give an adrenaline rush.
I will say I started a sober journey not long ago I’m not counting the days because it’s too much pressure but that performance you spoke of where I played the keys live was actually my first show that I’ve ever performed 100% sober and although it was nerve-wracking I didn’t feel hungover the next day so my new my new sort of ritual before the show lots of tea I enjoy throat coat room temperature water no dairy I just really take care of my vocal cords about a week before and after I am so like how do I describe this I’m answering the phone the day after I know the fucking thank you okay we get it you have a car I’m I’m a big little bear the day after my show I don’t like answering the phone even though there’s like videos being sent to me I do enjoy hibernating a lot I isolate just to like recharge my social and energetic battery I listen to more sound frequencies than like actual music of lyrics I mean I really take care of my soul after I give it on stage the night before and it used to take me like four days to do that hibernation ritual but now that I’m not drinking or doing anything before my shows that’s gonna damage me it only takes like a day and a half for me to hibernate but I definitely like to keep to myself and hide a little bit after I perform now

That’s cool and you mentioned something about me listening to frequencies and stuff so I kind of like what is that about I know music I mean frequencies can be healing you know certain decibels and things like that so what is that for you how did you get into that?
A while back, I went to this music festival in 2015 called Lightning in a Bottle and there was a portion of the festival that provided you with sound healing and you would lay down and you would close your eyes and people would have sound bowls, all different types of musical instruments that gave you vibration, no lyrics, no sort of arrangement or production, just sounds from things and it was so healing that I looked into it and there’s frequencies in everything. Music is a vibration so a sound frequency is essentially just like a vibration in a certain tone. There’s brown noise, white noise. I like the 5-8 frequency. It supposedly, I don’t know a whole lot about it, but supposedly it does bring you peace and I, it might be placebo but I know that it’s worked for me personally. Just sound frequencies help you to stay calm, collect yourself. It also works for my dogs. When I leave the house, I’ll turn on sound frequencies and they will behave. So I know there’s something in that. I really enjoy listening to it. There’s some for abundance, negative energy, leaving the room. So it’s essentially like sound vibration like the way that Sage does to a room is the same way but with sound.

I think EDM is kind of the same way. There are not many lyrics, but the bass, you feel the vibrations and it really does something to you.
I’m getting goosebumps just like when you speak about it like that. Yes, absolutely.

It really sounds like you’ve been in performing for a really long time so how long have you been performing for?
I’m still a baby. It was towards the end of 2022 but it was really inconsistent. I was still trying to figure out my sound, my image, consistency. And then just last fall, I started getting booked left and right, still going on. I’ve had to turn down shows and I’m just like, it’s amazing to see how fast you can go from one way to another. I really haven’t been performing for that long but I know that it’s in me to continue to perform consistently for honestly the rest of my life, even if it’s in my own bedroom.

In just a few words, how would you describe your sound to someone who’s never listened to you before?
Emotionally driven frequency. I’m just thinking about if someone has never heard my music and it’s something that they were basing it off of those three words, they’re able to connect to emotion and they know about sound frequency. I feel that that really captivates my music a lot. I am like coming out with newer sounds and a lot of it is more instrument since my keyboards, ever since I got a new keyboard, it’s become more about the sound and the lyrics don’t need to be all throughout the sound. And emotionally driven being when you’re most inspired, like the strongest records I have out came from a very hurt place or a very happy place or I was inspired by somebody that I know and always the strongest records for me at least come from a very, very, very, heartfelt place. So emotionally driven is, I mean that’s how I moved too. I love to, I always tell this to people like who come to me like stressed out or come by to me like always move with love and that’s one of my mottoes and I feel like my music really captivates that too. Emotionally driven frequency. I’m just thinking about if someone has never heard my music and it’s something that they were basing it off of those three words, they’re able to connect to emotion and they know about sound frequency. I feel that that really captivates my music a lot. I am like coming out with newer sounds and a lot of it is more instrument since my keyboards, ever since I got a new keyboard, it’s become more about the sound and the lyrics don’t need to be all throughout the sound. And emotionally driven being when you’re most inspired, like the strongest records I have out came from a very hurt place or a very happy place or I was inspired by somebody that I know and always the strongest records for me at least come from a very, very heartfelt place. So emotionally driven is, I mean that’s how I moved too. I love to, I always tell this to people like who come to me like stressed out or come by to me like always move with love and that’s one of my mottoes and I feel like my music really captivates that too.

What does 2024 have in store for you?
That’s a loaded question, but like a really good one. I have a guitarist now. I have a sound engineer, a stage person that will like set up my aesthetic. I have a manager. So with that, there’s a lot of groundwork that I’ve been doing behind closed doors and there’s a lot of new sounds coming. I don’t want to say too much, but what’s in store is bigger than life. It’s bigger than me. And I just, my goal with everything that’s gonna happen for me and that’s gonna come out and be released into the world is, it’s not that I’m here, it’s how I made you feel. And all I want to do is just touch people with my music the same way that I was touched or the same way that I felt when I wrote it. I just want to make sure that, people, it’s how they feel when I’m in the room. I have a couple singles coming out and some pretty big shows coming up too. And I’m just gonna continue to create honestly all along the way.

Where is the next performance? Where should we go see you live?
It’s actually four days away. So I don’t know, like if that’s too soon or whatever it’s just to talk about it, but it’s adult only on sunset. The aesthetic is like 80s, 90s, soft core porn. It’s very sensual. Oh, like neon lighting. Yeah, it’s like really fun. And I’m on at 9 .30 PM. So it’s nice to have like a decent hour set time. Yeah, four days away, presale tickets available. And it’s also going to be my birthday performance. So it just happened to fall two days before my birthday. So I figured, well, I’m gonna play a show and then hibernate. This might as well be my birthday party too.

Where can we find you on social media platforms and to listen to your music?
Totally. So it’s Alivia Wraith is my name. Olivia with an A. It’s gonna be A -L -I -V -I -A and then W -R -A -I -T -H.

Amazing. Y ‘all better go check her out. Thank you so much for coming to speak with us today. I’m so excited to see what 2024 has in store for you.
Thank you. I’m honored to be in your presence. I’m honored to be here. Thank you guys for listening to me!

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Features

Feature: UraelB

UraelB

Growing up on the streets of South Central in Los Angeles, UraelB has been delicately crafting his art since the age of 13. Combining funk and hip hop to spit unmatchable bars, UraelB turns heads with his cadence and infectiously good vibes.

To follow up his well received album, DemiGod: Parallel Universe, which was released in 2020 and featured in Buzz Music, UraelB dropped his first EP of 2023, Flight 772, in collaboration with rap artist and friend, Isaiah Bowers. Not even a month later, he dropped his live project, UraelB (Unplugged), featuring three live tracks including hit songs, ‘Groovy’ and ‘Shadowboxing,” and their two studio versions. UraelB has been catching the eye of many established artists in the hip hop scene wearing collaborations with Nelly and Mick Jenkins on his belt. His thoughtful and intentional lyrics are paving the way to success in hand with his label, Respect the Real.

Maralize Carreon sat down with UraelB to analyze the meaning of his song ‘Grammy,’ the importance of diversifying your music even if it means in songs you’ve already released, and how it feels working with one of your biggest inspirations.

UraelB performing “Grammy” on Tiny Desk.

In your music, I can tell that you really value your roots and where you come from. Like, in your song, ‘Grammy,’ you kind of speak on doing it for your family, your people, and your community that’s held you up. So I was just wondering, is ‘Grammy’ alluding to the future and like an ode to your people? Can you tell me what Inglewood means to you?

Yeah, that was a very specific question. I like that. Truthfully. Yeah, it does allude to the future. That’s what the whole song is about. The song is about me making sure that whatever I do now sets the future up for the better, not just for myself, but the people around me.

And when it comes to its meaning to the city, the best part about doing what I do or knowing that I want to make an impact the way I want to means that the other people around me who grew up in the same areas as me, who are in the same environments as me and who have similar upbringing and similar influences, because they’re from the same city, I can help them the best, because I walk that path right before them. So it lets me know that nothing I’m doing is isolated because I have a bunch of people looking after me, whether they did it before me or they’re doing it after me. I’m planning to be a role model for not only people coming up after me, but anybody who dedicates their life to doing something for the better.

So I noticed that you’ve been speaking on the Music Forward Foundation music industry panels the last few weeks. What was that experience like? And what was something that you learned?

Speaking on a music industry panel, on that particular panel, it reminded me, like I was saying just a second ago, what it feels like to be back in those shoes. Coming up, growing up in LA, and having to sit in high school or sit in front of people who are professionals in their careers, really dissecting and wondering what it is that helped them get to where they were.

And being on the opposite end of that now, having to tell about my story, honestly helped me realize how much I’ve done so far and made me realize that I can actually teach this or give

examples of how you can get somewhere step by step or with the blueprint to where I am, because I can explain it to people now.

So it was a beautiful realization for me. Always love being in a position to inspire and reflect and give other people that opportunity to see not only music industry people, but entertainers in general, in the boat of, you’re just like me. I came from where you came from, and I’m a person. At the end of the day, there might be this allure or glorification around me and what I do, but I’m still just a person. So as amazing as you can see me, you can be that amazing too.

I love that. I feel like it’s really hard as a listener when you don’t know an artist personally, to really humanize them. So I love that you’re taking the time to go out and actually talk to people. I really respect that. So as the CEO and founder of Respect The Real (R.T.R) collective, what’s the story behind the label and what was your reason for starting it?

The reason I started Respect The Real and the whole purpose of it was to protect myself and have a foundation of having a business blueprint if I was going to take music seriously.

So jumping into doing as much as I can with music, I needed to have a foundation and a backing. Respect the Real, the name, the mantra, the entire brand, came to me naturally, and I decided that whoever was willing to work with me when I started it, and since then, I’ll be open arms, allowing them to contribute and put forth their effort into being a part of the collective.

So a bunch of people have come and gone, and the people who are still here now, they still resonate with the mantra. They decided themselves that they wanted to take their careers further as well. And we all just help each other. It’s nothing limiting to the collective or being a part of the brand and label, because a lot of what we do is just about moving forward and pushing things to a further level. And when it comes to deciding to really submit this into the industry, I knew that as long as I kept something authentic to myself, no matter what type of positions I got in or how much influence I had, I could have an Apple, I could have a Disney, I can have a larger than life brand and company that lived on beyond me, because people have seen it grow from the ground up, and people have seen me at the face of it. And other people come along and really put on something organic and genuine that all people, as long as you’re willing to connect with good people, can connect with.

So I think a lot of my time spent building up the label has just been making sure people see it in whatever ways they can, making sure people see the business behind it, and making sure people understand that there’s not a lot of people like me doing what I do. So that’s another thing that makes me special.

So what are your goals for the next year, with the label and everything? Do you have any specific goals?

Truth be told, I want to profit. That’s one of the main goals. Because not only being independent, but just having a corporation in general, it takes so much more to get it off of the ground and in a space where it’s comfortable and it keeps itself afloat that a lot of people don’t understand. And on top of me, knowing that I’m doing better musically and I have a lot of things going for me

opportunity wise, that means I have to keep my business also in that space of growing and getting better and having more to offer to the world. Not just from a protection and legal standpoint for myself, but like I said, to continue having a really large life brand. Aside from that, when it comes to me personally deciding that every year I should get better, I want to drop my album next year and have it be a critically acclaimed album, the best album of the year.

And I want to have a lot of people flock to me, not only just for the music, but for what I represent and everything that I bring to the table as a person in this industry, knowing that I have a lot to give and, yeah, time tells all and I can’t force everything to happen next year, but I do want to take that next step to becoming an icon and superstar is coming.

Right. And I think that you’ve really grown incredibly as an artist this year, from your bars to your music production. So how has the process kind of been? What are some things that you learned about the musical process, growth as an artist, and personally?

Yeah. One of the main things I’ve been harping on all year to different people, is that I had to live life to actually finish making music. I had a bunch of music that I worked on early in 2018 and 2019 for my album, that I’m putting out this coming year, and I knew exactly what I wanted the concept to be. I knew the stories I wanted to tell. But it took me a good five years to actually be able to put it down on paper and on a song so that it could be the way I wanted it to be. And forcing myself to have done it at that time when I first created it would have been undercooking it, underbaking it, and not letting it simmer and marinate to where it can be right now and living life and telling myself that there’s no rush, greatness will happen.

Timeless moments are literally timeless. It doesn’t matter when you put it out, as long as it feels good, it’ll be the best thing you’ve made. So taking the time to not force and rush things and give myself the opportunity to feel more than think has been one of the best things I’ve done.

Aside from that, deciding that whatever I do, I will get better at it, even if it’s not the best right now, I have to keep moving forward. I recently forget who I was listening to, but I recently listened to some podcast or something I was watching on YouTube and they said, “Done completed is better than perfect.” So since I heard that, I’ve been living by that, and I also told myself, perfect doesn’t exist unless people hear it and see it and they deem it perfect. So no matter what you think, it’s always going to be better. Just get it completed and you feel good about it versus holding on to it or telling yourself it’s not perfect. It has to be a certain way, because that way nobody will ever hear it. And that’s one of the most important things about music, is the fact that you can share your art and connect with other people.

I noticed that you did a remake of ‘Groovy’ and ‘Shadowboxing’ in your EP, Uraelb (Unplugged). And I was watching your live performance videos and those are really fire. It really shows your range of talent. You can rap on top of groovy funk and jazz, but at the same time hop on more traditional rap beats and rhythms like on your other EP, Flight 772. So why did you decide to do a live EP and remake ‘Groovy’ and ‘Shadowboxing’ and re-release that this year?

Well, I’ve always liked performing and having a band in general to accompany my artistry. So when it came time to do a live EP, I knew that rappers and hip hop people weren’t doing it. So of course that’s the best thing to do right now, is do what others aren’t. And I know I’m great at it, so to have to put it out there, that was one of the main reasons. Then in addition to that, I’ve always felt like my music had a purpose and a grander fulfillment it needed to reach. So repurposing songs I dropped a couple of years ago into live versions not only gave people a chance to hear those songs, but gave them new renditions of it. A lot of my favorite artists and people I listen to have plenty of versions of the same songs I love, whether it’s a live version, an acoustic version.

You know, sometimes people put different music on their music videos and it doesn’t sound like the album or single version. So I always love finding new ways to repurpose my art and also giving new people a chance to discover it. So the EP was solely for that, to put myself out there with something new that other people in my field weren’t doing and also to repurpose it so that more people can hear it. It just continued to propel itself and push itself.

I really love the live version of ‘Groovy.’ I remember listening to it when we were on radio earlier this year, and then I was like, oh, you released it again. And I was listening to it and I was like, it sounds really cool with the live band. I feel like live bands really elevate music, whether it’s rap or whatever.

Yeah, that’s the one song I have that it’s played different every single time. I’ve never done the same version of this song ever.

Okay, so next question. Your cadence and your bars, they flow so seamlessly. And you can just tell that you’ve really crafted your sound to be really amazing. It’s very telling of who you are and what you want to talk about. And I feel like everything that you make, it’s always intentional. So I wanted to ask, how did you craft your flow? And I know you have a history with poetry, and so how do you find your inspiration for your lyrics?

Yeah, one of the best things I’ve been able to do is to study and listen to a bunch of music and artists, even if it’s not in the hip hop genre. But one thing I did learn recently that I didn’t know at first, but I was glad I kind of put two and two together, was that Rakim, one of the hip hop artists that I’ve listened to for a while. He was one of the first artists to do like, internal rhyming in the hip hop space in the 80s. Internal rhyming is where you don’t just rhyme the ending lines, you rhyme in between before you get to the final word. And a bunch of artists I’ve been inspired by, like Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and other people, they’ve been doing that since then, but he was the first, and going back to study him and a bunch of other people just gave me a bunch of things to pull from and a bunch of different arsenal tools to actually create the words and the rhymes I use.

I also watched Battle Rap a lot. That’s one of the other spots in the music space or hip hop space that I gravitate towards because those are some of the best lyricists in the world. A lot of people know about them, but a lot of people don’t. And they craft things beautifully. So just absorbing that level of talent and that level of creativity adds to my own, always make things my own and different on top of that. Just having different musical tastes and backgrounds, learning

from different places has always been something I unconsciously and subconsciously do in my music.

I never try to do the same thing over and over again and the same thing all the time. And that goes to show you that the different music I listen to adds to that flavor and decision-making. I can’t keep it the same all the time. Like I said, ‘Groovy,’ I never perform that the same, ever. It always changes every time I do it. And a bunch of the best musical performances have nuances to them that you won’t get unless you listen to it right then and there, you have to catch it in the moment. And I want to make every single song a moment for people, not just repetitive over and over again. You can listen to this and get exactly what you were looking for. So I like layering my music and having people find different things every time they listen to it.

So what’s your lyrical process like then? I know when people write songs, they just freestyle and then they, you know, tweak that afterwards or some people will like to sit down and write first.

This changed so much over the years. I used to be the person that would write before I ever got a beat or ever heard the music because I could just continue writing ideas and making them connect.

And then I turned into the person that would feel the music and always listen to the beat and add it, speak to me. And then I would pull lyrics out of that. But recently, I’ve honestly stopped writing things down. I’ve been creating things in my head, just giving myself the blueprint. I have a beat, I have a BPM, and this is the way it feels. Now you can write to that and give yourself time and space to think versus the limit to, you know, your phone in the notepad, writing it down on paper. I kind of just let my mind run amuck and do whatever it wants, especially lyrically. Knowing that I’m at a good point where my vocabulary is deep. I’ve said a lot like this only so much you can say when you’re on a song. So sometimes limiting yourself with writing things down is honestly one of the most creative things you can do and stop doing, push yourself to a new boundary.

A lot of my favorite artists don’t write any of their rhymes. So when I decided I wasn’t going to do it either, it actually opened up a new brain mass for me. I didn’t even know I could do it. I’m doing it all because that feels good.

So when you freestyle, is there always a topic in your head that you’re thinking of? Or it’s kind of just what you’re feeling in the moment.

Yeah, it’s what I’m feeling. Recently, I was writing to this beat and the only thing I had was the first line. Like I was listening to it. I came up with a really cool first line. And I just ran with that. Everything after that was a free form of thoughts and my train of thought, leading from one thing to the next. And I never know where I’m gonna take songs until it’s done. But at the end of the day, I always make it connect somehow. Even if I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing, it ends up connecting at the end of the day.

So a lot of my skills now are just from constant practice and constantly doing it, to the point where I’m telling a story from the moment the song starts to the end. It’s almost like second

nature. I know exactly where I’m gonna go. I just have to let my body and mind connect to that and take it to that place.

So in other genres aside from hip hop, who are your biggest inspirations? Top three. Could be any genre, just not hip hop.

Yeah. I would say my top three, in no order of course, but just top three inspirations that I have, definitely Michael Jackson. I feel like his legacy, something I want and will surpass. And knowing that he did so much with such relatively little time, is also another thing that inspires me. There’s a lot of jazz musicians that I listened to, a bunch that I pulled from, whether I realized it or not, because I absorbed it.

And aside from that, I really, really love movies. Like that’s not a music thing. That’s more of a creative storytelling thing. I like the way people tell stories with images. So I write as if I’m writing a movie, or if I’m telling a story via images and everything I imagine kind of just flows out through words. So my biggest inspirations honestly aren’t always rappers or people in the same field. It’s just life. Like I pull from a lot of things and take it into a different realm because I feel like there’s a creative way to express a lot of stuff through rap. And I had been very fortunate to be able to do that, not only at a high level, but with such potency and such purpose, that people hear me hear what I do. They feel like they’ve heard it before, they’ve seen it before. And that’s what I mean. I like crafting images so that people can always see what I mean and feel what I mean when they’re just listening to what I’m saying too.

You’ve been collabing with some really cool artists pretty early in your career. And like, you’ve worked with Nelly, and Mick Jenkins, most recently. How was that experience for you? And is it kind of like an indication to you that, you know, you’re taking those steps forward and progressing faster than you think?

Yeah, yeah, both experiences actually when I met Nelly on the set of the Dancing with the Stars, that was one of those things I didn’t actually think I would ever do. He wasn’t somebody, I guess, I looked to for inspiration growing up, but I always loved his music and artistry. And being face to face with him, learning from him personally was great. It was something I couldn’t have paid for. Like, I really just had to be in that moment and that opportunity that was once in my lifetime.

And the same when it comes to work with Mick Jenkins, who’s one of those people I’ve listened to and took inspiration from lyrically growing up since I was in high school, and finally getting to work with him full circle 10 years later. It helped me realize in that moment that, yeah, you have literally worked to do this. There is no reason you’re not supposed to be here with him right now in this moment in time. So it solidified a lot of what I felt about myself and what I confirmed to myself, you know, by myself, but having him say it and having him also be there, giving me kudos the same way I give him kudos is great. And I know a lot of people meet their idols or meet people they want to work with and they say don’t meet your heroes, but that was not the case. It was definitely a dope dude. And we went back and forth lyrically. That was one of the things I always imagined doing. So glad it happened.

Speaking of collaboration, who would be your dream collab right now?

All right. So I have a, I call it a hit list for a lack of better words, but the past two years on my Spotify wrapped, I’ve had Mick Jenkins, Victoria Monét, KAYTRANADA, Oshun, and I think Lucky Daye was there one year. Oh, and Earth Gang. So I’ve been going down this list, like the next five years, I have to collab with one of those five artists over the next couple of years and continue doing that bucket list for me. So unbeknownst to me, Mick Jenkins ended up happening in 2023.

So I got to get one of those five over the next couple of years. So I’m definitely looking to do a KAYTRANADA song at some point, because that’s one of those things that propels you somewhere different, in a different stratosphere of rap and hip hop because it’s production.

But any other artists at some point I will work with, I’m not going to cap myself to the five years. That’s just when I would like to do it, if I could say I got those features or work with them in the next five years, I’ll definitely be satisfied.

So it seems like it’s been a really great year for you with garnering over 117k streams on Spotify and releasing 10 tracks just this year. How are you feeling about it? And what is your favorite track that you’ve released?

I feel great about that. That’s one of the things that I couldn’t even anticipate. It was just a goal and an aim I had to do better than I’ve ever done before this year So I’m glad I did that on top of that having one of the best Mick Jenkins features of the year. It’s one of the other things I’m proud of. I feel like that’s my favorite song from this year because of the way that took place. The story behind that is, Mick Jenkins recently has been doing a lot of features and just randomly put out his email to send features to and I hit him up for a month straight like every day for a single month.

He didn’t respond I’m pretty sure because he had a lot of emails, but I took like a two -week break. Come January of this year, I started emailing him again, and he finally responded. So he said, “Yeah, I love this song. I’m gonna do it. These are the prices.” I’m like, for sure, I’m gonna make that happen at all costs. Aside from that, he actually lived like 10 minutes from the studio I worked at. So it was even better to actually get in the studio for the verse versus him just sending me something. So when he came through to my friend’s studio, we were working and just having a, you know, a genuine good time, it was one of those feelings that you can’t recreate or purchase honestly. Even though I bought the verse he was just a really dope dude and had a lot of good energy to him. Like I said, he confirmed a lot of things I felt about myself and I felt about myself musically. So at that moment in time, that was one of the best things I could have done not only for myself, but in general because I put forth the money for my career I put forth effort and energy and to actually get in that feature, it proved to be my most successful song of the year.

Aside from that, I feel like musically, my unplugged is amazing. My EP, I dropped with the homie, Isaiah was great too because we were just doing things. We weren’t really thinking about it, we were just making music.

And a lot of this year has just been that, just doing it, making music and not really worrying about the rest, it’ll come as you figure it out as you continue putting your best effort forward. So this year has been amazing. I know 2024 is gonna be even greater because I’m making it greater.

So I’m gonna turn the question back around to you about if you would open up a random black box that showed up your doorstep that says Illuminati. Would you do it?

You know, it’s crazy. I actually gave this answer to somebody else. This is my answer: if I had a black box sitting on my doorstep and it just said Illuminati, I’d pick up the box, put it in my house, put in a shrine case like they do at the museum and just leave it there. Having it on display for people that come to my house and be like, yeah, they hit me up. I left them on read though. I just got the box in the case. I don’t care what’s in it because I’m gonna be successful without it.

If you were on your deathbed, would you open it?

I wouldn’t open it. I would open it but ask somebody else to open it for me and tell me what was in it. That way I can say to the grave, I never opened it.

That’s funny. All right, so, you know, out of all the music and albums that you’ve listened to, which album out of any album that you’ve listened to, do you feel like has influenced you the most in your music?

Yeah, definitely To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. That was the main album that I decided I would take music seriously from. That entire story, the way it was put together, the sonic influences he pulled from, all of that. All of that just left me speechless. I guess in the era where people were buying albums, you had to like, you know, use iTunes and buy something. That was the only album that I ever bought. And I still have to this day. And I don’t reference it a lot because I want to surpass Kendrick Lamar, but that’s one of the albums I was like yeah, this defined me as an artist.

What’s your favorite song off the album?

You know that album is no skips to be honest. I can’t pick a favorite song, but if I had to just give like, oh yeah, this is the best song for me, it would definitely be ‘King Kunta,’ ‘u,’ ‘The Blacker the Berry,’ and ‘Mortal Man.’

All right, so I mean, you’re familiar with this, but my old organization that I was in, we would always ask each other at the top of every meeting, what’s your song of the week? So I’m continuing this legacy in the interviews that I do. So what is your song of the week?

My song of the week, dang. My song of the week is, I was listening to it, but I got to go to my history book. Oh, ‘You Rock My World’ by Michael Jackson.

You mentioned a little bit earlier what you were going to do for 2024, but are there any particular projects people should be looking out for? Anything that you want eyes on for 2024?

Yeah, so my album, Respect The Real Volume II will drop in 2024. I’m going to put it out in two different installments. The first half is called Nostalgia to take everybody through my life. And the second half is called Rebirth, taking everybody through my new mentality and outlook on life, but it will all come together on one project. And it’ll definitely be the best out of the year.

But anything else, any performances that you got planned or anywhere people should see you live?

Yeah, they haven’t been announced yet, but I’m working on lining up a lot of stuff.

I will be entering the Tiny Desk contest again this year. So I have another live performance that’ll drop at the beginning of the year on top of that. Yeah, once I do announce my show days, I’ll make sure everybody at least gets one free ticket.

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Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6kc3j1EsXF6jWCDLFWsxJS
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/uraelb/1408133592

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