Tag Archives: singer-songwriter

Discover the magic that is Susan Calloway

Gamers will probably know this, but for the rest of us the discovery of the magical qualities of the voice of Susan Calloway will come as a sweet surprise.  After making a name for herself as a featured vocalist in the Final Fantasy XIV sci-fi and fantasy media franchise, Calloway is now gearing up to share a deeper part of her artistry with her thousands of fans worldwide.  She is returning to her roots as a singer-songwriter and is set to release her first single, “Time for This,” on March 24, courtesy of Nashville distributor Tone Tree Music.

Calloway, who hails from Detroit, wrote this amazing song, which was produced by her friend, the legendary producer  Gerard Smerek, whose resume of pop/R&B icons includes Aretha Franklin, R. Kelly, Kid Rock, Natalie Merchant, Bob Seger and Diana Ross. 

Smerek also produced Calloway’s solo debut EP, Chasin’ The Sun.  The title track was released as a single, reaching the Top 40 on the national Radio & Records charts.  It can still be heard on numerous Top 40 and Hot AC stations, as well as on Pandora radio.  In addition, “Don’t Fall in Love” received a nomination from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) for Best Pop Song.  Calloway has licensed several of her songs for placement on such television hits shows as Dawson’s Creek, Summerland and One Tree Hill.

Her new single, “Time for This,” is destined to return Calloway to the Top 40 charts.  This song is absolutely beautiful, and a perfect vehicle to develop the intimate relationship Calloway has with both her old fans and the new ones that have come from her participation in the world created by Final Fantasy.

“I want my relationship with the fans to be a journey of inspiring people and building trust, and that begins with honesty, integrity and allowing myself to be vulnerable in the songs I write and perform,” Calloway says.  “My song ‘Time for This’ gives me the opportunity to let my guard down, make a meaningful emotional connection and let people know how I really feel about things.  The scariest risks we take in life seem to be the ones that involve our hearts.”

Calloway originally came to the attention of Grammy winning conductor Arnie Roth and Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, who is known in gaming circles as the “Beethoven of video games music.”   Uematsu requested that Susan sing his new theme song, “Answers,” for Final Fantasy XIV.  The game was released in 2013, and the overwhelming response by fans to Calloway’s first track led to other recording and performing opportunities within the world of Final Fantasy.

 “You can’t always control who you love or who loves you,” she adds.  “This makes moving on and letting go harder than we would like.  There are moments where it hardly seems worth the effort to put yourself out there when you know the potential will always be there for someone to leave.  I wrote ‘Time for This’ about a single moment, that moment when you feel like you wasted so much effort on a relationship, only to lose in the end.  Pain and heartbreak can take down the strongest among us if we let it.  We go back and forth between moving on and looking back . . . until we humbly realize that even when you lose something you wanted, time keeps moving whether we like it or not.  But, for every dark moment time forces us to walk through, it also heals us with the future it wants to usher in, if we let it and if we keep moving forward with faith.”

For more information about Calloway, check out her Facebook and website pages, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to her channel on SoundCloud and YouTube.

Indie artist/activist K-Syran seeks to conquer US

Born in Norway and currently based in Switzerland, K-Syran is an indie artist on a mission.   She released her latest album Smoke in my Veins on August 6 on Intimacy Records.  The record contains 12 tracks including “Intimacy,” which was selected as the anthem for the 2016 United Nation’s International Women’s Day, and “Hello,” which is currently riding the Billboard Dance Charts.

The album was recorded at Metropolis Studios and produced by Tom Nichols (Celine Dion, Kylie Minogue) and Charlie Thomas (One Direction, Nick Mason), who are credited as The Secret Agents.  But what sets the album apart from others is the fact that it combines seductive dance tunes with a thought-provoking message in a style that has become the trademark of K-Syran.

“The power and joy of song has the ability to comfort and inspire each individual.  Music can offer hope when people need it most – that’s what I want to give,” says K-Syran.  “I wrote some of the material on Smoke In My Veins with women in mind, but the ideas and emotions behind my songs strive to be universal.  I think it’s a mistake to think that lyrics in dance music cannot deal with anything of substance.  Dance was a form of spiritual activity for human beings throughout the history of our kind, a powerful form of emotional and physical expression.  That’s why I want my music to give audiences music that would move their bodies while engaging their minds. ”

In an effort to learn more about this intriguing artist, Indie Voice Blog interviewed her.  Check out the results of that interview below:

IVB:  How long have you been performing?

K-S:  When I was five, I told my parents that I would become an actress.  I have been performing ever since and never looked back!  Performing is my life, and without it, I believe I would die.   I have experienced short periods of not performing in my life, and I felt as though my soul was dying

IVB:  Who do you consider to be your influences?

K-S:  As a female artist it must be the one and only Madonna!  What a woman she is!  I believe she will go down in history as a revolutionary, a strong female artist who conquered the entire world with her charisma and determination!  She is a true artist and business woman, and a legend who still has children singing her songs!

IVB:  What makes your new release special?

K-S:  Smoke in my Veins is full of excitement and pleasure because it contains rhythmic chanting with depth!   I believe that losing yourself in rhythmic movements that get your pulse racing can induce a mood of frenzied exhilaration.  In addition I hope that my vulnerable lyrics will reach you deep inside.

IVB:  What are your future plans?

K-S:  I’m working on a new album which I’m super excited about.  Because of the success of my  single “Hello,” which reached #38 on the Top 40 Billboard Charts, and my album in the United States and the UK, I am planning a mini-tour.  In addition to my music, I’m still working as an actress.  I am filming a psycho thriller at the moment, and my part is exciting and challenging.

I am also producing my play, Breaking the Silence, in Geneva next January.  I wrote the play for an amazing cause that we should all be more aware of called Human Rights Watch.

In Africa, young girls are getting married between the ages of 13 to 14, and are starting families.  Medically speaking, they are far too young to give birth,  and often end up with vaginal fistulas, resulting in their rejection by their husbands and the community.   This condition can be corrected with a tiny, inexpensive operation that can save these girls.

IVB:  Do you have any stories you want to share about your band – touring, recording, or fan interaction.

K-S:  While touring with Blue on their UK tour, my dancing DJ’s system completely broke down on set, forcing me to sing a cappella in front of an audience of 4000!  I loved every second.  It was such a treat being on this one month tour with Blue’s four guys, Duncan James, Lee Ryan, Simon Webbe and Antony Costa.

IVB:  What types of social media do you use?

K-S:  I love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as YouTube.  In fact, the music video for my song “Hello” was recorded using some of the tech from Snapchat.


Getting to know the 2016 LA Music Critic Award winners – Marina V

We’re nearing the end of our series of interviews with the winners of the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2016.  Today’s interview is special for us because we have been friends with this artist since 2001 when she first moved to Los Angeles from Illinois.  We knew she was special then and over the past 15 years the world has also learned of her unique talent.  She has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe and the UK, as well as playing to large crowds in her native Moscow.  We are talking, of course, of the amazing Russian singer-songwriter named Marina V, who took home the prize for Best Video (live) with a stirring performance of her song, “Beautiful Forever.”

Grab a glass of your favorite wine, put on your favorite tunes, and sit back and learn things about the incredible talent known as Marina V.  As you would expect from our history, this is a long one.

IVB:  How long have you been performing?

MV:  I’ve been performing for only 17 years, but I’ve been writing songs as long as I can remember and singing before I was talking, according to my mom.  I was very shy for many years and wouldn’t perform until I met Nick (my husband), who encouraged me to share my songs with people.  I was attending Illinois College, where they had a talent competition.  I entered and sang my song before the entire campus and won first prize.  But more importantly, people came up to me afterwards and told me how much they loved my song and wanted to get it.  One girl even cried because the song meant as much to her as it did to me.  That statement made an impact with my soul because I realized that my music could affect others just like it affected me.  My music could bring pleasure to others and not just be therapy to me.  That was my catalyst to start performing.  I met you in 2001 at a Songsalive showcase at the old Club Lingerie in Hollywood

IVB:  Who are your influences?

MV:  For anyone that knows me, my primary influence has always been The Beatles, who always inspired me when I was young.   I am also a huge fan of Russian folk music.  Later I began following Jewel and Tori Amos, and discovered my true love for females in music.  Tori is a genius.  Of course, Paul McCartney is one of the greatest influences of all time, and Lennon and McCartney were the most amazing collaboration of all time.

IVB:  What made you decide to DIY?

MV:  It was not a conscious decision.  I realized I wanted to perform and didn’t know what to do, so I went online and searched out singer songwriters who were performing to try to find out what to do next.  It was support from my fellow students that led to my first record.   I learned a valuable lesson about crowd-funding and used email to send to all the students and faculty to pre-order my first CD.  I raised enough to sell 1,000 copies at $10 each.   After I finished that first record, I started sending it to labels and booking agents, but didn’t get much of a response.  I still had the passion and determination so I decided to just do it myself.   My goal was to reach people with my music and maybe reach someone at a label so I wouldn’t have to do it all by myself.   I moved to LA after college because I understood that LA was to be the place to be.

IVB:  Are you seeking to be a mainstream artist?

MV:  Yes.  My dream and my goal has always been to reach as many people as possible with my music.  I need the machine and marketing that you can’t really do on your own unless you have the resources of a label.  My music is pop rock, and my song “You Make me Beautiful” was a top 40 hit in Brazil where I’m right there on the charts with Beyonce and Katy Perry.  On my own I can’t do everything I envision, but I’m doing all that I can at the moment.  That is my true dream and vision.

IVB:  What are your future plans?

MV:  No fucking idea!  I honestly don’t know.  I just keep doing what I’m doing.  I just finished a wonderful and very successful tour in Europe, and I’m very proud of that.  I’ve been working on my “2 Songs a Month Club” through Patreon, and am actively pursuing getting my songs on television and in commercials.  I’m working to get to play more and more places in an effort to reach more fans.   I want to do vinyl print of my album Superhero.  I keep talking to various publishers to get the help I need to make it to the next level.  In the mean time, I’m really living life, travelling, working for myself and getting to love it all.   I think I’m definitely working very hard to move on up.  I think I’m at the top of what an indie artist can do by themselves, and am very hopeful for the future.

IVB:  Any good stories from touring/recording/performing?

MV:  I got a really sweet deal from a local dealership who sponsored us with the car we used for our C to Shining Sea tour.  I also once had a fan give me $10,000 to work on an album.  I was doing crowd funding before that was a word.  I love inventing new ways to find support for my music.  All of it brings me closer to my fans and brings me great joy because I get to be a part of my fans’ joy.  Without the support of my fans I would be nowhere.

I’m currently doing dinner concerts where I cook them a gourmet meal and then play their requests.  Another time we had a fan that offered us support, which included fixing some appliances in our home and helping us build a fence around our house.  He never charged us for his labor although we did split the materials cost.  That’s what fan interaction is all about.  I’m also working on editing a video of our tour from Europe.  We did the same thing for our C to Shining Sea tour.

IVB:  How can your fans find out more about you?

MV:  The best place is my website.  They can also check out my Facebook page, join my Komrades group on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

If they can’t make it out to see me live, I’m doing an online residency on Ampli.fy during the month of September.

Future women in entertainment: Katie Costello, new world advocate

Happy new year!  We wanted to start off 2016 with a future Women in Entertainment feature on a young artist who has already achieved much in her career, Katie Costello, singer, songwriter, label maker and new world advocate.

Costello began writing songs in her bedroom on a digital piano at age 13, and soon thereafter began performing them at various clubs in Los Angeles, where this writer first heard her.  Although not yet out of high school, she was becoming disillusioned by the homogeneity and insulated nature of Southern California’s suburban world.   Consequently, when she turned 18, Costello moved to New York City’s Lower East Side to seek diversity, inspiration, and fulfillment of her dream of making art and music in the creative heart of the Big Apple.

Costello dropped her first full length album, Kaleidoscope Machine, at the age of 17, leading to her “discovery” by legendary DJ Nic Harcourt of the trendsetting public radio station KCRW.  Harcourt had featured her on his show “Today’s Top Tune,” and had this to say about our future superstar:  “It’s good to know what one wants to be when one grows up.  At 17, Hermosa Beach resident Katie Costello is making her path clear.”

Upon moving to New York, Costello decided against going to college so that she could  pursue her art and music full-time.   She has performed, composed, produced, and collaborated on many records, including her own discography, comprised of two full-length albums (Kaleidoscope MachineLamplight) and five EPs (The City In MeFollow Your Every BeatImpossible ThingsUniversal Spread of Compassionate Wisdom, Rebel Pop Singer Songwriter); as well as numerous singles, including her latest, “New World.”  Her artistry has continued to evolve with every new release, while always staying true to her mantra:  classic songwriting, authentic musicality featuring piano and guitar, raw emotion, and honest lyrics.

When she’s not songwriting, recording, and performing, she’s practicing yoga and meditation at Bodhisattva Yoga in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which keeps her looking, feeling, and creating at her best.  She credits the studio’s founder, Vivekan, as a constant source of inspiration and motivation behind her music.  In fact, she and Vivekan founded REBEL POP Records, which now serves as the home for Costello’s musical catalog.

Her music has been featured in various television shows, including Private Practice, Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth, Vampire Diaries, One Tree Hill, 90210, Home and Away, and Rookie Blue, as well as on such films as Bgrooklyn Brothers Beat the Best, Craigslist Joe, Never and others.  In addition, Costello is a
contributing songwriter on many other artists’ projects.  Her music has also been featured in such prominent publications as Vogue, Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, BlackBook, Paste and Billboard, to name a few.

You can find a review of her current release, Rebel Pop Songwriter, by clicking here.  For more information about this future superstar, check out her website and her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and definitely subscribe to her YouTube channel.

Katie Costello is a true rebel singer-songwriter

A few years back, Katie Costello became somewhat of a legend among independent artists when she created an entire music video from her iPhone 4.

After what seems like an eternity, Costello has returned with a new EP that is easily one of the best of 2015.  Her new five-track EP, Rebel Pop Singer Songwriter, has been released on a limited basis, but belongs in the hands of every serious music lover.

According to Costello,”This EP is about following your dreams, fighting for what’s right, listening to your heart, and connecting to a bigger picture . . . This EP is dedicated towards the mission of  building a “New World” filled with love, one step at a time.”

With tracks produced by Robbie G (New York Graffiti, New World and Roses) and Seth Jones (Up in the Air and Why Does my Heart Break?) and written by Costello with help from Robert Guariglia (New York Graffiti, New World and Roses), Seth Jones and Michelle Lewis (Up in the Air) and Seth Jones (Why Does my Heart Break?), every song delivers its message in a way that few other artists have mastered – from the heart of the writer directly to the heart of the listener.

She has also released a video for the first track, “New York Graffiti,” which captures some of the magic of an indie artist who isn’t afraid to busk in New York’s Washington Square Park.  Check it out below:

Throughout her career, Costello has consistently delivered some of the best content of any musical artist, signed or not.  Her latest EP is just further proof that her music belongs to the masses.  Thank you Ms. Costello for restoring our faith in the power of music to change our lives and make this a better world.

Women in entertainment: Camille Bloom, international troubadour

Welcome back to our Women in Entertainment series, which previously ran on Examiner.com.  We are so glad to be back and to be able to post here on Indie Voice.  You can expect a new article in this series every Monday.  Today the spotlight falls on Seattle, Washington based singer-songwriter and international troubadour Camille Bloom.
Born and raised in Washington State, Camille Bloom attended Eastern Washington University and began her career as a high school English teacher in her hometown of Seattle, Washington.  Her love of the English language grew into the skill to craft  songs with truly dynamic and vivid lyrics, and ultimately to Camille’s decision to leave her teaching job and become a full-time touring musician.
Since beginning her musical career, she has played some of the most premier venues in nine different countries:  Canada, United States, Germany, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland and Iceland.  With a voice that can ‘purr and wail’ and utilizing her percussive and finger-picking skills on her guitar, Camille has shared the stage with artists like Smashmouth, Metric, Chris Isaak, Shawn Mullins, The Weepies, and many more. 
In fact, during the past nine years, Camille has completed more than 30 national and/or international tours, while her music has been added to over 250 major and college radio stations throughout the United States and Western Europe.  She charted on the European FAR (Freeform American Roots) Charts in 2009 with other music greats such as Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and Iron & Wine.  
In her “spare time,” Camille gives back to her local community by directing a Kid’s Rock Camp for the children in Seattle, Washington.
But what inspires Camille?  “My biggest inspiration is life.  Life experiences, pleasures, pains, politics, societal issues.  Life; all of its beauty and complications.”
And life has been pretty good for Camille.  Not only is she sponsored by Gibson Guitars, but in 2012 Music Connection Magazine distinguished Camille in their annual Top 100 Unsigned Artists compilation.  Her most recent album, Never Out of Time, was chosen as one of the Top 10 Indie Releases by the Los Angeles Examiner. 
What are Camille’s future plans?  “Right now, I am crowdfunding for a new album that I plan to record this fall. I am leaving it up to my fans which kind of album it will be, depending on how much we raise. I am shooting for enough budget to record a full band record with producer, and publicity etc – which would cost around $52,000 but we will determine our budget after fundraising ends on Sept 15th.”
If you want to help Camille with her fundraising efforts, go here and click on the button next to the perk you would like to receive.  If you’re not looking for a perk, you can also make a charitable donation to the campaign.
For more information on Camille, check out her website and Facebook pages, follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her YouTube channel.