How a VIOLENT FEMMES band member & having Tourette syndrome led a Billboard Top 40 artist to music
Your story is so inspiring so let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell our readers what got you into music in the first place?
Thank you! I’m happy to hear that I’m inspiring others. Music really has been a part of who I am since I was born. There are old VHS tapes that I’ve watched that show me at two-years-old dancing and singing to vinyl records my mom and dad had. I loved putting on performances for my family, so my sister and I would make up dances to songs like “Grease Lightning” and those Disney sing-a-long tapes. I would also be wearing my Princess Jasmine costume while performing. Clearly I’ve been one for theatrics since I was young. Music, for me, has always been a means to express myself and I have always been happiest when performing.
You have definitely not let having Tourette’s Syndrome slow you down! Now fast forwarding a little bit you were one year away from earning a doctorate degree to become a physical therapist when you boldly changed careers to become a musician. What led to this drastic change?
It certainly wasn’t an overnight decision. Since I was in high school I had dreamt about becoming a musician and maintaining a career doing what I love. When the time came to choose what I wanted to pursue after high school, I decided to take a safe approach and go for the “sure thing” which was a steady income and a 9-5 job. I was very good in school and got all As and I knew I liked helping others, so I shadowed one of my friends’ moms who was a physical therapist. I just figured that will be what I’ll do for my career. Even though I did well in college, I was really missing performing and creating music. It has always been a part of my life and the longer I went without it, the worse I felt. I finally got to a point where I knew that I didn’t want to dedicate a third of my life for the next 40 years doing something I don’t love. Yes it was a scary choice to make, but well worth it in the end.
It definitely seems like you made the right decision! What happened after you met Sigmund Snowpek of The Violent Femmes?
Thanks so much! After I decided to pursue music as a full-time career, I was introduced to Sigmund through a family friend. I knew of The Violent Femmes and was honored that someone like that wanted to meet and work with me. We initially were going to collaborate on a few songs, but after I played some of my original material on his piano, he wanted to do a full album together. We worked together for a year-and-a-half on new material and recording as well as performing around the Milwaukee area. Eventually, that led to me performing on the Summerfest stage where I opened for Sheryl Crow.
Now more recently, you just hit #20 on Billboard’s Dance Club Song Charts this month. How did you find out about this?!?
Jason Dauman who is representing me at Dauman Music was the one to give me the amazing news over the phone. I’m incredibly humbled by how well the single is doing. Right now it is charting ahead of Drake and Craig David featuring Bastille. Those are huge artists. The single “Euphoria” parallels my own life and is really a page out of my own diary in a way, so that fact that so many people are responding so well to it is jaw-dropping. It’s always a little nerve-wracking when you put your heart and soul in a song because it leaves you vulnerable, but that is what allows others to connect with you and inspire them in a positive way. It makes it all worth-while.
What do you hope to gain out of this huge accomplishment?
I definitely hope to continue with this momentum and collaborate with other artists and producers. I have met so many wonderful people in the industry who bring a positive energy to our sessions and help me grow as an artist as well. I look forward to more performances and hopefully opening for an artist like Lady Gaga or Meghan Trainor. That would be incredible.
Any fun things in the works now that you are gaining a great name for yourself in this industry?
I have a few other singles that will be released in the near future as well as an EP that will be coming out later this year. I am also performing at some well-known venues around the Los Angeles area. I’m looking forward to seeing all my fans and having them hear the new music.
So I heard you wrote 70 songs within the last year, that’s impressive! What’s the process like for you to write one of your songs?
Lyrics are definitely the easiest for me when it comes to songwriting. I have always been an avid reader and believe that words have power. They have the ability to transport you to another world and can be the catalyst for change. I am always writing my thoughts down and don’t really get “writers block” when it comes to lyrics. There always has to be a message in my songs. I am always collaborating with other artists and producers so they help with melodies. We will usually pick a basic chord progression and put some beats to it to add some flavor. I will already have a concept in mind that I want to sing about and we start throwing out melody ideas and the ones that stick we will work with.
How would you describe your musical style?
It’s definitely pop with a splash of 80s mixed in to it. I am obsessed with the 80s. The hair, the music, the fashion (although mullets can be left to that decade – I’m not so keen on bringing that back). I also grew up with hard rock bands like Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Queen, etc., so I like my music to have an edge to it.
What other talents do you have other than singing?
I do have some random talents here and there. I have taken dance classes for 15 years that included ballet, tap, jazz, and contemporary. I am also self-taught on the piano and the ukulele. I did try taking piano classes, but I always liked to get up and move as a kid, so sitting for an hour was difficult for me. I also was in gymnastics for quite a while and got to a competitive level. The crazy part about that though, is I am so accident prone that I eventually had to quit because I kept injuring myself. I also took sign language classes for two years and can communicate at an intermediate level.
Do you have any last things you want to tell your supporters?
I know this is going to sound so cliché, but believe in yourself and the talent you have. You really only have one life to live so might as well make the most of it. Pursue the dream that you want and don’t listen to any of the haters. You’re fabulous just the way you are.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview
Absolutely! I look forward to our next interview. You guys are amazing. Sparkle on.