Meet Atlanta Based Photographer: Donte Maurice. “…We all should appreciate and support each other.”

As regular OA readers know, this had gradually become a platform for upcoming creatives worldwide – reaching as far as Asia and Europe. Since the start, I knew my musical background might hinder my choices in interviews, and from the site’s history … you can see that it did.

Regardless, I’ve slowly been broadening my horizons, and that is ultimately what connected me to today’s interviewee. In today’s interview, I got the chance to speak with Atlanta based photographer, Donte Maurice. With around 5 years of experience, the fashion and portrait photographer has already gained the respect of celebrities and brands alike, working with names like 6lack and Sprite.

In this interview, we had the opportunity to discuss the start of his career, qualities of a good photographer, and future projects!
Enjoy the interview.

*all photos are taken by him, unless stated otherwise*

Donte Maurice for Puma; Photographed by Ahmad Barber.

Q: Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Yes Definitely! My name is Donte’ Maurice and I am a portrait and fashion photographer based in Atlanta, Ga.



Q: Is photography something you saw yourself pursuing as a career, or was it more of a hobby that blossomed into something more?

A: I’ve been doing photography for about 5 years, but started taking it seriously about 3 years ago; That’s when I knew that this is apart of what I’m meant to do. It definitely started off as a hobby, a quick way to express myself once I got tired of doing graphic design.



Q: Have you always been interested in the arts (or any form of self expression) or was it something that developed over time? Do you think your family noticed your attraction towards the arts? If so, were they supportive of it?

A: YES! I used to sing and act a lot before I started doing photography. My family supported me in every artistic change I wanted to make in my life. When I was into music, they bought me microphones, pianos, drums, and etc… The moment I changed to photography they purchased my first camera, lens, and laptop.



Q: You’ve said that some of your favorite influences include: Harley Weir, and Frank Ocean – what about their artistry inspires you?

A: OH MAN! I love both of them so much. Their story telling ability blows me away. I take so much from Frank Ocean’s music that inspires the shoots I take. I love the tones from Harley Weir, once I found out that she shot film that made me want to take the steps into doing that as well. I just love them!



Q: You started your career in 2015 & by the end of the year you had worked with brands like Moschino and Sprite. Can you explain to us exactly … how that happened; especially while working towards your degree?

A: I honestly can’t even explain what happened. There’s never really a way to plan for something you didn’t think was possible. I was learning as I went, and it took a lot of time management and sacrifices. Around that time I didn’t have a car and Marta doesn’t go out really far either so I was spending money and time left and right to make sure I did my thing. It was a lot, especially managing school, a part time job, homework, and then shooting as well.



Q: Did you know (or think) that your career would take off that quickly? Was it somewhat overwhelming? Out off all the projects you completed that year, which one was the most gratifying/rewarding?

A: I don’t know, I still don’t think it has taken off. I feel like it was more of a mental change in me once I decided to make it an actual career. In 2015 it would’ve definitely have to be Sprite!



Q: Earlier this year you photographed Big Boi (of Outkast); As someone based in Atlanta, was that experience sort of surreal?


A: YES! That was crazy. To be able photograph a hip hop icon for my first print publication. I got hired by Billboard Magazine to do that during my finals week of college. I was literally floating in heaven wh

en I received that email. The amount of trust they had in me was incredible.



Q: Is there anywhere you would like to travel for photography… or even just to travel?

A: YES! I would love to travel to London and Santorini (Greece). I don’t want to box myself in though, I want to go everywhere!



Q: You’ve managed to collaborate with a handful of celebrities/influencers since your start; At this point, is there anyone you think you would be starstruck by while having a shoot?

A: It would have to be Beyonce, Rihanna, and Frank Ocean. I would be incredibly nervous! Shooting them with tears in my eyes!



Q: As someone whose job duties include things like: capturing moments & helping visions come to life – when do you personally know/feel that a shoot has been successful? And what do you think has been the most motivating aspect for you?

A: You just FEEL when a shoot is successful. It’s really hard to describe it. It’s like you know in your heart if you created your best work. The most motivating factor has been knowing that anything can happen any given time.



Q: What qualities do you (personally) feel makes a good photographer and who are some upcoming photographers you think have these qualities?

A: The qualities that makes a good photographer is relatability, creative, and just love for the people and/or brands they work with. Photographers who I’ve seen and feel have that are Ahmad Barber, Micaiah Carter, Renell Medrano, and many more!



Q: Before I ask the next question, I want to commend you for your newest project: The Way Up – where you will be “highlighting artists of color”; May I ask what inspired you to start this project?

A: I just love creatives and I feel like we all should appreciate and support each other. Even though I took a break on it for a little bit, I’ll be starting it back up pretty soon!




Q: I’ve noticed the recent influx of creators (specifically of color) beginning to get recognition from their work – people like Bree Holt (The Exquisite Eye), Elizabeth Wirija, and of course – you. Do you, feel it’s important that people of all cultures have the ability to influence society? Who are some up and coming creators (doesn’t have to be a photographer)  you’ve recently noticed?

A: YES! It’s so important. We see things from a different perspective and now a lot of brands are beginning to appreciate it. I’ve been paying a lot of attention to Adrienne Raquel, Joshua Woods, Joshua Kissi, Campbell Addy,  Santiago & Mauricio and Valheria Rocha.



Q: When you look back at your career in 50+ years, what are some things you would like your legacy to include? What do you think your impact has been so far?

A: I would love to be considered one of the pioneers that help propel the creative scene in Atlanta. I want to go down as a legend in my city like Zach Wolfe, Big Boi, Andre 3000, and many more so I have a lot of work to do! I honestly don’t know what my impact has been so far.



Q: I’m sure you’ve grown a lot as a photographer, and as an individual as well since starting this journey – is there and advice or words of wisdom you can pass down to aspiring creators?

A: Never give up! Please don’t. If you’re meant to do this then you have to stay in for the long haul. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a lot of great careers weren’t either.



Q: What are some goals you hope to accomplish next year – as far as, with your photography/brand?

A: My goals for 2019 is to get more print work. I want to be able to work with Vogue, Interview, Fader, W, Vanity Fair and many more. I also would love to hop on a tour some time next year. I think that would be so fun!



Q: Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to your supporters?

A: THANK YOU SO MUCH! You guys keep me going and keep me motivated. If it wasn’t for the people that support I have no idea where I would be honestly.

To learn more about Donte, make sure to visit his website, as well as following him on:

Meet Pop Artist: Thuy. “… it always led back to music…”

In today’s interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with Cali based artist, Thuy (pronounced Twee). For OA followers, the name may sound familiar seeing as she was featured on our monthly playlist in September with the song Options; but for those who are visiting the site for the first time, let me give a little insight.


Thuy is an artist whose sound will fill you with the nostalgia of the early millenia. Citing artists like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, she’s well on the way to being one of the new faces for pop music. In this interview, we got the chance to speak about becoming an artist, collaborations – an we even (accidently) got a surprise for all you Cali fans, at the end!


Q: Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself? 

A: Hi everyone! My name’s Thuy and I’m a singer/songwriter based out of the Bay Area!



Q: When I listen to your music, I get the same reminiscent feeling that I get when listening to music from the early 2000s – I’m curious, who were some of your musical influences growing up?

A: That’s so funny that you say that because a lot of my influences are artists from the early 2000s! I’m talking Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, etc! I thought I was gonna grow up and become the next Britney Spears to be honest. I used to play her albums over and over until my boombox died. LOL. I definitely do think that my love for pop music from the early 2000s has inspired a lot of the music I make now.



Q: Before becoming an artist, were there any other career paths you had looked into, or did you always know it was music? Was it a decision that your peers supported?

A: I remember singing at such a young age. Like I mentioned earlier, I thought I was gonna be the next Britney Spears of my day. But of course, life happened. I ended up doing really good in school and getting my Bachelors at UC Santa Barbara. I thought for the longest time that I was going to become a Pediatrician. When that didn’t work out, I thought about becoming a Physician’s Assistant. Basically, I thought I was going to work in the medical field my whole life. At the same time, I was making music on the side for about 3 years. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I had an honest conversation with myself about what my real passions were in life; it always led back to music.




Q: Once you decided that music is what you wanted to be known for, what excited you the most: the creation process (writing / recording), performing, spreading a message, etc?

A: I love it all! favorite part about making music is getting to perform it and also the music videos are really fun! I feel like a whole different side of me comes out and I honestly surprise myself each time.



Q: Most of your music has to do with relationships, do you tend to draw inspiration from personal experiences? Where do you get your inspiration(s) from?

A: Most definitely. I think the best music comes from personal experiences. I’ve been heartbroken before and it helped write a lot of my songs. When I pull from my own experiences, it’s so easy to become inspired and write. I think majority of my listeners have also gone through similar things and it’s amazing to see how much impact my music has; for them and myself.


Q: One of the first times we heard you, was with the release of “Hands on Me” (feat. CR Crucial) – what was the process of creating your “debut” like? Were you nerve-wrecked/excited once you released it out into the world?

A: It was not too serious! It was my first song and I didn’t expect so many people to love it! It had a couple radio spins which amazed me considering it was the first song I ever made! CR played such a heavy role in helping me write. He’s just sooo talented and writing with him was so organic. We wrote this song together in his garage one night and had so much fun; writing each line was like putting together all the pieces of a puzzle.



Q: You’ve collaborated w/ CR Crucial a number of times since this, most recently on his track “On Your Line”; Is their anything about their artistry that makes you want to keep collaborating with them?

A: I feel like we make the best songs together! People love when we collab and it’s always such a fun process. I feel like music shouldn’t be stressful and you should just live in the moment. Writing and making music with CR is just that.



Q: How do you feel about collaborations in general? Are there any up and coming artists you want to work with? Dream collaborations?

A: I get a lot of DMs and emails asking to collab; I’m not against it but I want to LOVE their music before agreeing. I don’t get caught up in the amount of IG followers they have. I just wanna make good music. If I like their music, I would be down to collab. Dream collabs? Hmm…I honestly can’t answer this question. Collabing with Kehlani would be cool! I love her energy!
Q: You recently released “The Way” – can you briefly explain what the song is about?

A: “The Way” is such a cool funky song; super west coast vibes. It pulls from the classic “I Like the Way (Kissing Game)” by Hi-Five. It’s really just about loving the way someone makes you feel; physical and emotional.



Q: I know that you’ve performed quite a few times – have you gotten the chance to perform the song yet?

A: I have! I performed it before it was released which is a cool feeling. If people love it, I’m that much more excited to release it to the world.



Q: What is it like performing?Are there events you would like to perform at in the future?

A: I love performing! I get a little nervous at first but that disappears the moment I hit the stage! People are thankfully so receptive to my music which makes it so much fun; especially when they sing along. I would love to perform at Rolling Loud, Coachella, honestly anywhere lol. I just love it.



Q: You’re based in LA, but are there any other areas you would like to visit/perform? Are there any places you would be surprised to learn you had supporters?

A: I’m actually based in the Bay Area. But surprise! I’m moving to LA in January! I haven’t actually told anyone so you guys are the first to know. I have a lot of fans in Australia and the United Kingdom! It’s amazing to me to see how far music can travel. I would love to visit those places and perform there.


Q: Because you’ve been consistently dropping music for the last 3 years, does it ever get hard to continue being creative/get new ideas? If so, how do you usually get through it?

A:  Oh man…creative blocks are crazy. It’s hard to be creative 24/7 so I love to take breaks in-between. If I can’t write to a song instantly, I won’t continue to sit there for hours trying to. I usually will stop listening to the beat and move on. In a week or so, I’ll re-visit the beat and if I’m still experiencing writer’s block, I’ll just pass on the beat. I gotta love every aspect of the song before I fully invest myself into it.

Capture 2

Q: How do you think you’ve grown as an artist (& person) since you started music? Is there any advice you could give aspiring artists?

A: I’ve grown so much since the start. I used to be so timid and unconfident. I didn’t fully believe in myself yet. I knew I loved making music so I continued to do it because I loved it. Every song I released and every performance I had helped to make me more confident and sure of who I was as an artist. I feel like we’re constantly evolving but I’m happy with who I am today.

For any new aspiring artists, just continue to work on your craft and LOVE what you do!


Q: As of 2018, you’ve released countless quality singles and collaborations, been featured on music platforms such as Spotify, performed a handful of times; I’m curious as to what some of your goals for the rest of the year.

A: My goals are to continue to do the same thing but with 120% effort. This move to LA is going to be a pivotal moment in my journey. I’m pretty much cutting off the medical field and focusing on music full time. It’s such a scary thing to think about but I’m also SO excited for this change!


Q: Is there anything we should be preparing for? 

A: MORE music and visuals for sure! I’m working on releasing an EP next year so look out for that!


Q: Lastly, is there anything you would like to tell your supporters?

A: Thank you for allowing me to do what I do. I’m so blessed to have such a core fanbase already and I am honestly so grateful for each and every one. You guys mean so much to me and without you, my music would fall on deaf ears. So thank you for giving me a platform to show you who I am.

If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to check Thuy out on Instagram & Twitter!

Make sure to stay updated with new music (via Soundcloud)
If you want to listen to any songs featured in the interview, check below:
Hands On Me
The Way

Meet NYC Alternative Pop Artist: Chloe Lilac. “I would’ve never thought it would reach that many people…”

Coming off of a brief hiatus, Arcane is happy to present: Chloe Lilac. Raised in New York City, this Brooklyn native has become one of the most sought out alternative acts we’ve seen in a while. It seems the stripped down and laid back vibes Lilac offers in her music is just what we’ve needed in the industry.

Although she’s only been around for a year, her transparent lyrics and intimate performances has attracted a cult following (whom she calls “Flowers”).

Whether this is your first time hearing about Ms. Lilac, or you’re a self-proclaimed “Flower”, I think you will enjoy this insightful interview talking about everything from her influencers and street performing in New York City, to the release of her first song and being on tour!

Enjoy the interview!

Q: Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Hey! My name’s Chloe Lilac, I’m a singer/songwriter/producer from Brooklyn, New York.


Q: Your music is generally Pop (specifically Alternative & Bedroom Pop (Lo-fi)) – I’m curious as to who you listened to growing up? Who are some current artists you’ve been listening to?

A: Oh man, I listen to all types of stuff.

Growing up I mainly listened to Frank Zappa and The Talking Heads, ironically enough I wasn’t really allowed to listen to pop music. Now, I listen to a lot of A Tribe Called Quest, Samm Henshaw, Mac Ayres, Mac Miller, Mac Demarco (many Macs), Lana Del Rey, Childish Gambino, Tyler, the Creator, Ski Mask, Car Seat Headrest and Hiatus Kaiyote.


Q: Did you always know that you would take on music professionally, or was there a specific moment that it all just … clicked?

A: That’s a great question! It’s been the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, and ever since I can remember I’ve been writing songs. I’ve always had an insatiable drive to do music. I don’t think I’d be able to do anything else.


Q: Once you decided to become an artist, how did you go about it? (Did you begin by songwriting/producing/performing/etc?)

A: I’ve been writing songs my entire life, and performing in bands ever since I was 8 years old. I began by producing my own songs when I was 10 on Garageband. Then when I was 13, a friend told me to check out this website, SoundCloud, it’s been history ever since.


Q: I know for a short time you busked (performing outside) , was it ever intimidating – especially living somewhere like New York City? Where did you get the confidence to do that?

A: Again, I was desperate to succeed in music and I had no idea how to infiltrate the music scene. I have the outrageous privilege of growing up/living in New York City, so my impulsive 13 year old brain concluded that the best way to go about getting exposure was to busk. I was never scared, I was honestly just so desperate for success that nothing mattered.


Q: After a short time busking, you were introduced to a producer named Bobby Yewah – how was it meeting for the first time? How has he helped you musically?

A: I LOVE BOBBY!! That’s the MAN. He took me under his wing and taught me so much about myself, confidence, and music. I’d come in with a song written, play it for him on the piano, he’d produce it out in like 2 hours (so talented) and then we’d watch Netflix and eat Wendy’s. He taught me how to be a recording artist. Not every take has to be perfect. Having fun in the studio and talking about real shit is important. Music is about connection. He also taught me that working with a producer is a collaboration. The song is both of yours.

Chloe Lilac, Recklass

Q: Early last year, you released your first song “Reckless”, what was that experience like?

A: I was at a really interesting time in my life. I was being really reckless (hence the name) at the time and was really finding myself as a young woman. I wanted to write about how much of a mess I was. Being a kid in New York, you grow up faster than a lot of other places. It was the first song I had ever professionally recorded, and I was so nervous the whole time. Bobby calmed me down and was super patient.


Q: Once the recording process was completed, how did you feel listening to it as a whole? Were you nervous about releasing it?

A: I cried when I first listened to it. I couldn’t believe it was me. I honestly wasn’t that nervous, I was excited to see the reaction online.


Q: Do you ever get nervous when you release new material?

A: OH YEAH. Definitely, especially when it’s a song about a specific person.


Q: What type of advice could you give aspiring artists (specifically musicians) when it comes to debuting?

A: Just put it out there, take a deep breath and let it rock. Don’t try to control the outcome. Surrender to the process and everything will follow.


Q: Almost a year to your debut, you released your fourth song, “Your Worst” which has accumulated over 10,000 plays (on Soundcloud alone). Can you briefly explain what the song is about?

A: It was about this guy that I really liked, that I’d on and off talked to for a pretty long time. We always ended up hating each other, then half a year to a year later we’d always end up back where we started. It had been a vicious cycle for a while. We were at the not talking phase and I missed him, so this was how I coped with it.


Q: What (or who) exactly influences you to write and how do you maintain creativity?

A: All my songs are about real shit. That’s why I get nervous about releasing them. Childish Gambino is my biggest inspiration, as well as Lana Del Rey.


Q: Shortly after Your Worst, you released, what can be called your signature song, “Stolen Liquor” – which was praised by sources like Nylon Magazine. Did you ever expect this song to catch on so quickly and reach as many people as it did?

A: Oh my gosh no – I screamed when I saw Nylon picked it up! That was crazy, Nylon is such an iconic magazine. Shook can’t even begin to describe how I felt. I would’ve never thought it would reach that many people in such a short time. It was really really cool.

Q: When you perform, does it ever overwhelm/encourage you to see just how many people enjoy your music? Where do you think you would be most shocked to learn you had fans? … Do you happen have a name (or any ideas) for your supporters yet?

A: I always get surprised when people like my music. I’m so in my head about it that when people tell me they like it, it takes me off guard (in the best way). I’m honestly always shocked to hear I have fans. It brings me so much joy. I have no idea what I’d call them, maybe flowers?


Chloe Lilac, Live 2.JPG
Photo by Olivia Kearney

Q14: Speaking of performances, you are about to head on tour with alternative pop/rock singer Sasha Sloan for a few shows, are you excited? How did you guys even connect?

A: I’M SO EXCITED!!! I opened for Rejjie Snow recently, and then she reached out to my manager about me opening for her. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.




Q: Should the crowd be prepared to sing along to your latest hit single “Summer” while you’re on stage? What can we expect from your set?

A: Just good vibes and fun. I want people to feel comfortable dancing and feel at home! When I’m performing it should be a safe space for expression, I want everyone to leave with a smile on their faces knowing they had a good time.


Q: After the tour, should we be waiting for a Chloe Lilac project, and maybe even a tour/mini tour of your own by 2019? Are there any places/events you would like to perform in the future?

A: I just finished my EP, so hopefully it’ll come out soon! Camp Flog Gnaw is a festival I’ve always wanted to perform at. The Bowery Ballroom is a dream of mine to sell out and play. Also Madison Square Garden, but that’s a little more long term! I’d also love to go to London and Paris and do a couple shows there.

Chloe Lilac

Q: For a new artist, you have accomplished quite a bit, from countless stellar performances to acknowledgement from established sources in the industry – I’m curious as to what some of your goals (whether work related or personal) for the rest of the year are?

A: Thank you! I want to make good music, help out other artists and connect with as many people as possible, as well as build up my fan base and start my album. Also, perform a LOT. In terms of my personal life, try to be the best person I can be and the best friend I can be.



Q: Because you are such a consistent artist, and seem very hard-working, how do you spend your free time? What advice can you give other creatives about balancing a work and personal life?

A: I’m still figuring out the balance, honestly. I have an amazing group of friends that I love so much. My advice is: try to find like minded, supportive, creative people. Personally, I’ve found being sober or if not keeping it in strict moderation has helped me a lot with keeping my work life/priorities on track and keeping my drive up.


Q: Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to your supporters?

A: Thank you all so much! Really, I’m incredibly grateful. Don’t hesitate to reach out! Big love to all of you and new music is on the way!


If you enjoyed this interview and would like to hear the songs featured throughout the interview you can choose from the selection below:


Lastly, stay updated by following her on: Soundcloud, Instagram, and Twitter!

Meet Aspiring Rapper/Producer: Phil Castillo. “Create music that’s out of the ordinary.”

As most of Arcane’s readers know – the site has been on a hiatus since the beginning of the summer. I had planned to come back sometime this fall, that is, until I received an email not too long ago.. For whatever reason, you guys have stuck around and I’d love to think that it’s because of the artists I have been able to introduce to you since the site’s start.
About a week ago, I was contacted by an upcoming artist from New Jersey. About four years into his career, rapper and producer Phil Castillo has released an overwhelming amount of music, his latest releasing being a rendition of SLCHLD‘s “Wednesday Girl”. As a songwriter, I (obviously) gravitated towards his full-length production projects  Heartbeats and Touch – but Castillo is more than just a talented producer.
He is an artist in in rawest form and hopefully that is able to come across to you readers throughout this interview. I got the chance to speak with him about his beginnings, getting help from bigger platforms, and much more.

Q: Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Sure. My name is Phil Castillo. I’m a 20 year old independent rapper & producer from New Jersey. Thanks for having me.

Q: How long have you been interested in music? Was it something you always saw yourself doing professionally?

A: I’ve been interested in music for as long as I can remember.

My family has always been lively when it comes to music, whether it’s having the radio on full blast, collecting CD’s and vinyls, or watching music video based channels on TV. It’s always been an influence ever since I was young.

I remember thinking as a kid that I wanted my life to be related to music somehow; if not in a creative way; like collecting albums like my dad, becoming a manager of a famous band, or owning a music store! [laughs] I don’t know, anything that had an outlet for music, I wanted to be a part of. I wasn’t sure how far i thought about becoming an actual artist.


Q: I know that you are both a rapper and producer, which came first? Is either lane more natural for you?

A: I started rapping around 2010. Nothing special was made around that time, it was just me messing around in GarageBand on the family computer with an iPhone microphone while no one was home, rapping over beats I found on YouTube in the style of artists like Eminem, Kid Cudi and Drake, to name a few.  I didn’t take it seriously until I released my debut album Wallflower in 2014. That was when I knew I matured as an artist.

Then came producing- which I dabbled in here and there, but didn’t fully pick up on it until 2017 where I released multiple full length instrumental albums. Though I love both rapping & producing, both lanes are the same to me in the way a love-hate relationship works. Some might even say I work too much as a perfectionist does.


Q: As you mentioned earlier, your debut project was released over four years ago. Did you have any fears/concerns about how it would be received?

A: Yes, of course. It may be hard to tell now, but back then, I was extremely shy to even share my music with anyone. I used to overthink every little detail, especially because Wallflower was an album all about a reckless lifestyle I experienced while I was young. I feared people would get the wrong impression of me because I was around people that were influenced to do the wrong things.


Q: What was your creative process like throughout the creation of this project?

A: While I was still in school, I would constantly play music or write notes and drafts throughout classes to kill time. One of the albums I would constantly play that inspired the story behind Wallflower was Because the Internet by Childish Gambino because the concept ties in with a script that goes along with the album. I was blown away at how he brought a universe he created through music to life.

After school, I used to spend hours, days even, in my old friend’s home studio. I basically lived there. There wasn’t a second that went by where we weren’t away from the studio. We would spend hours working on songs and listening to the music we would create until the break of dawn came by. Then the day would just go by as normal. Wake up, school, home studio, get little sleep in, then repeat.


Q: Do you think as time has passed, has it become easier to make a cohesive project, or does it become harder with every release?

A: It becomes harder because with every release, as you take on many topics, you have to make sure you’re not running out of things to say while trying to grab the listener’s attention. You have to keep people on their toes, and make them wonder “what’s next?” instead of “really? that’s it?”


Q: A while back, I interviewed an audio engineer and they explained that there is somewhat difference between engineering and producing – do you take on both roles or do you focus solely on producing? Can you briefly explain what exactly the role of a producer is?

A: I take on both roles, and there is a difference between the two. The role of a producer is to build the song’s body. It’s what holds the song together. Engineering is about keeping the song and it’s volumes in a balance without having anything clash or clip and keep a smooth mix throughout the song where you can hear everything that it delivers. Engineering is not only about controlling the levels, but compressing it.


Q: As I mentioned earlier, you’re a rapper as well – have you produced all the music you’ve recorded to thus far?

A: No, I haven’t. I wouldn’t even call the songs I’ve made songs. They’re more like renditions, you know? Coming off of albums like Wallflower and The Blue Room Project, that was a time where I didn’t know a single thing on how to produce beats. What carried the album was the stories and the lyrics it held on each song. I think that’s what made albums like mine so special. I know some can call it unoriginal, but it’s my point of view I’m speaking about through my songs. No one can ever take your point of view from you.


Q: How long does it usually take you to complete an entire song?

A: When I make a song, the beat comes first. I have to think how the song should sound like. It could take hours to find the right sample, the right set of drums, and so on. When the beat oss finished, then come the lyrics.

I listen to the beat more than once to craft ideas, hooks, and flows. As far as recording goes, I have to be in a certain mood. It comes with it’s good days and it’s bad days. Some days, i can spend hours recording, and it doesn’t turn out the way i want it to, and then i put it to the side for a while.

I may not like my cadence, I may screw up a line, or I don’t say it clearly enough. It’s key to be comfortable enough for you to like it, and not just one take it. Anyways, mixing and mastering takes me a couple more hours to get it just right. To sum it up shortly, it would take me about a day to finish one song. I repeat the same process with others.


Q: When it comes to what your beats sound like or what you write about, are there any musicians or bodies of work you are influenced by?

A: Too many to name. I listen to a lot of rap, R&B, and Pop. Kanye West is like an idol to me. Childish Gambino, he’s an all out renaissance man. I love the way artists like Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole write. They all push me creatively.

When I first started producing, I was heavily influenced by Joji, Knxwledge & 9th Wonder. When I produce now, I’m influenced by Elijah Who, Aso, Tomppa, Sleepdealer, Jinsang, Idealism, jhfly, and Piglet Spacey…

Recently I’ve been inspired by Sango, Monte Booker, and ICYTWAT. I also love vocalists like Clairo, mxmtoon, Sophie Meiers… There’s a whole lot, [laughs] I can really go on.

Q: Are there any upcoming musicians you would like to work with in the future?

A: I can’t think of anyone at the moment, but i’d love to work with more rappers & vocalists!


Q: Has it been easy for you to find work/opportunities specifically when it comes to getting your beats out there?

A: It’s not. It should be so much easier. So many collectives and brands are only looking for one specific kind of sound that matches what they’re looking for, and it’s so boring. It’s like they’re not bringing their full potential to the table. There are so many artists like me that are so underrated and are overlooked that have amazing songs that are barely even hitting 5k. We need bigger creators to help branch out to smaller artists that deserve it for the work ethic they put in.


Q: What would be the best way for an upcoming musician to connect with you in the future?

A: Just message me directly! [laughs] I’m usually active on my Instagram. I try to respond as quickly as i can to all messages that i receive.


Q: You’re a somewhat “seasoned” artist, what has this journey been like so far? Do you think you’ve grown with every project?

A: I like to think my career grows every time I release a project. They’re like stepping stones to my history. For example, I made Wallflower when I was just 16. Listening back to that album, there were a lot of things that stayed true, and a lot of things that changed within time, and it showed on my future projects. I can’t compare an album like The Blue Room Project to Wallflower, because I was in a different headspace back then. I feel as if I learn and advance more with every one, and i try to show that.


Q: Have you developed a signature sound yet? Is there any kind of advice you would give aspiring musicians when it comes to developing their sound?

A: I don’t think I have, because I don’t want to stick with the same formula on every project. I like to stay experimental and try new things. The best advice that I can give towards aspiring musicians is to always stay out of the box. Create music that’s out of the ordinary and stray from your comfort zone, and everything else will follow your way.


Q: What are your hopes for the rest of 2018?

A: My hopes for the rest of the year is to just grow. As a person and as an artist. Become more widely known, be more consistent in releasing music, connect more with my fans, do more collabs, write more, perform more especially! Recently, I did a couple of shows with a band where I performed my 2017 album A Work in Progress front to back, and it was such a heartwarming experience. I’d love to do it more frequently!


Q: What was your experience like performing for an audience? Were you nervous?

A: Oh yeah, I was so nervous! [laughs] I was too paranoid thinking I might have a panic attack on stage. Even when I have so much fun performing, I feel like my inner shyness acts up, and as soon as I get off, all I can do is just sigh in great relief.


Q: Is there any event you can see yourself performing in the future?

A: If I could, I would love to tour! I’ve only done shows on the east coast around Jersey so far, so I would love to get familiar with more of the east and experience the west for the first time. I haven’t been to a festival in years either! I don’t even remember the last festival I’ve been to, that’s how long it’s been [laughs] but to be a part of a big festival line-up would be crazy to me.


Q: Overall, what is the message that you hope to convey in your music?

A: The message I hope to convey is that you are not alone. I make my songs for people who are just like me, in hopes that it reaches to those who don’t have a voice to express themselves or find anybody else they can relate to.


Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell your supporters?
A: Thank you all for listening! Words cannot express how much i admire all of you that take the time out of your day to press play on my songs, for it is more than just music to me. It’s love.

To support Phil’s music make sure to follow him on BandCamp & Spotify!

If you’re interested in working with him, make sure to follow him on Instagram & SoundCloud.  

Meet Upcoming Singer/Songwriter: Hadar Adora. “If anyone ever wants to really know what’s going on, just listen to my words.”

In today’s interview I got the chance to speak with upcoming pop artist Hadar Adora. If you are a longtime reader of Arcane, than this name may sound familiar and that’s because I’ve mentioned her before. When the site debuted, Hadar was one of the many upcoming artists I recommended all music lovers should be on the lookout for throughout this year. It seems my excitement for her career was was not in vain because not only has she released more music, but she plans to release her project very soon.

Hadar is far from a normal pop artist, dabbling in genres such as reggae, acoustic, and r&b, every genre sounding perfect for her. I had the pleasure of speaking to her about her musical background, her latest single “Incommunicado” and much more!

Enjoy …

Q: Before we start, would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?

A: Yes of course, my name is Hadar Adora and I am 22 years old. I grew up in New York and moved to Florida around 2014. I have been writing and singing my whole life, as both of my parents are musicians.  


Q: Now, I’ve mentioned you on the site before but I was not sure what kind of artist to call you because you are still new – So, how would you describe your sound?

A: First, thank you for the support. It’s difficulty to place myself in a genre because I consider myself very versatile. If I had to, I would classify myself as a blend of pop, & r&b, but it depends on my moods and what’s influencing me at the moment.


Q: Since you are a new artist, I must ask – did you have any fears/concerns about putting yourself out there?

A: Absolutely not. This is what I want to do. Be there with you and make sure you know I FEEL you. I don’t really talk about my feelings or what I went through or am going through. I put it all in my music. If anyone ever wants to really know what’s going on, just listen to my words. I just want people to feel like they are not alone through any and everything.

Q: Is music a career you always saw yourself pursuing?

A: It’s never even been a question. This was always the plan and everyone around me was always aware of it as well. This is what I was put here for.


Q: Were there any artists growing up that influenced the type of music you would eventually create?

A: Yes I love Janis Joplin and Freddie Mercury, Jim Morrison, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin and The Temptations and many more. The rawness in their voices and their words were always ones I went back to..and they’ve guided my style.

Q: Now, you debuted in October with the song “I Can Do Anything”. What were some of the emotions you experienced leading up to your debut?

A: I knew the potential of the record and I was confident in it. I was excited but anxious. Excited because I’ve been waiting and wanting to share my music with the world, but then anxious because as my debut song, I didn’t know what to really expect.


Q: How did you come up with the idea for the song?

A: I was collaborating with some producers and when that beat was being made, I freestyled the melody and everyone was moving to it. It was such an engaging melody that no one could ignore. Made me feel good inside. The lyrics just flowed and it came together. I Can Do Anything was made from love to empower all of us.


Q: You followed this song up with “Flowers” and “Let Me Know” – all three songs sounding drastically different from each other. Which song do you feel best fits who you are as an artist?

A: There isn’t any one song that I can choose..all my songs vary from one another. They aren’t about the same thing, so the passion is the same, but the message is not. Flowers is about the pressures we face to be and look a certain way by society, feeling alone in my existence. Let Me Know is about the present and the past, how you got here and the fact that you did..wherever that may be.


Q: You’re latest song “Incommunicado” was released in late March. Can you explain what the song is about for those who have yet to hear it?

A: Incommunicado is a conversation everyone has had in their life or will have. It’s a: damn, should I or shouldn’t I answer? Should I see them, should I go even though I know the outcome will remain the same? I was dealing with an extremely unclear situation, no proper communication and guessing and assuming everything for a year of my life. This song isn’t meant to help you figure that situation out or provide a happy ending. I’m just telling you, whoever’s ear I’m in, that I am dealing with that too. It’s so confusing and I’d rather you weren’t confused alone.


Q: You also released a video for the song, your first, if I’m not mistaken – how was that experience?

A: I’ve done a few music videos but this is really the first that has to do with my upcoming project. It was a good experience and for sure a  learning one. I realized how much detail goes into creating even a simplistic video. Each thing I create will teach me and make me better for the next thing I work on.

Q: Do you still have plans to release the ep sometime this month? What should we expect on this project?

A: We’re actually going to release it in June now. You should expect versatility and emotion. I like to speak through my music. I enjoy pouring out all of me into melodies and words. I talk about emotional distress, confusion, conversations with myself about matters of the heart and mind. I bring you up and down. I think the best music and projects always tug at your heartstrings and make you go on a ride of up and downs.


Q: Are there any features/collaborations or is it all you?

A: All me for the most part..I have some background vocals on a few tracks.


Q: Did you write all the content on this project / did you collaborate with other writers?

A: I think every great song has the help of a few minds. I collaborated with a few writers, as well as my team always give me constructive criticism and of course help. I always need someone to say, “hey, maybe this should be that,” or “what if you said something more like this,” or a plain and simple, “that’s trash” which always motivates me! I believe all of the greatest artists are great because of the help and ideas and influence of those they surround themselves with.


Q: Are there any artists you listened to for inspiration while creating this project?

A: Yes and no. I had just discovered and was listening to a lot of A.chal but mostly I was really concentrated on creating a sound for myself that I was happy with. I wanted to be as original as possible. The next project though I will definitely listen to more music throughout my process.


Q: Is there anyone you want to collaborate with in the future? Dream collaboration?

A: Dream collab is with Kendrick or Kanye. It will happen. Definitely have always wanted to work with Timbaland, Dre and The Dream produce wise.

Q: There are a lot of aspiring artists in the world and a lot of them may feel that they will never get recognized or their work will never be appreciated; what advice would you give those people?

A: I always say this; the only people who never made it, are the ones who gave up because it was too hard or lost their passion for it.


Q: What are some of your hopes for 2018?

A: My hope for the rest of 2018 is to find more inspiration. I want to write about different types of love and issues people are scared to talk about or feel uncomfortable discussing. My hope is to become a better artist. But that’s also my goal for my whole life. Also, to perform live, consistently.


Q: Is there anything you want to say to your supporters?
A: I love you. You’re my world. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t care to do this. I would make music for myself only. But the fact that I affect people just makes me feel whole. The world can be so ugly and makes me want to run and hide, but knowing I make people less scared and see less of that ugly side of life or at least make them feel brave enough to face it..that’s my purpose. And that’s why I’m on this path. So thank you.

To stay updated with Hadar, make sure to follow her on: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Be sure to check out her latest single “Incommunicado

If you’re interested in hearing more music by her be sure to follow her on Soundcloud.