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Navigating the Music Industry: Annie Nan’s Journey



Pursuing Dreams: From Beijing to New York

In a world where dreams often seem too grand to chase, Annie Liang’s journey from Beijing to New York City stands out as a beacon of passion and grit. “When you see me, you see dope people,” as Shah Cypha aptly puts it, is not just a mantra but a lifestyle for individuals like Annie who embody the spirit of relentless pursuit. With her roots in Beijing and a heart set on making a mark in the New York music scene, Annie’s path is as inspiring as it is challenging.

The Symbiosis of Music and Dance

Annie’s Artistic Journey and Inspirations

Annie Liang’s love affair with music began at a tender age. “I always liked music, and I started to play piano when I was very young,” she shares. The transformative power of melodies took center stage in her life when she decided to transition from Beijing to New York to pursue music professionally. This journey was catalyzed by pivotal meetings, such as her encounter with her manager at a music convention in Los Angeles. This crucial step led her to collaborate with Alex, a “super talented producer,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Annie’s influences span a wide range of contemporary icons. “I like Billie Eilish. Who doesn’t like Billie Eilish? Olivia Rodrigo. And I like Madonna. I like Britney Spears,” she states, reflecting a mosaic of musical inspirations from different eras. The amalgamation of these influences is evident in her work as she strives to create something unique and genuinely hers.

Integrating Dance with Music

For Annie, dance is more than just a form of expression; it’s a vital extension of her musical identity. “Music is always in my heart. I think dance and music, they go hand in hand,” she asserts. The synergy between dance and music is something she leverages to create dynamic, multi-dimensional performances. “Dance is the visualization of the music,” she explains, highlighting how her dance routines add depth to her musical presentations.

An intensive schedule will see her juggling both dance and music. “I have dance classes. I have music. I have lots of things going on,” she reveals. This relentless dedication to both arts showcases her commitment to growing and excelling in her craft. By continuously honing her skills in both domains, Annie ensures that her performances are a holistic representation of her artistry.

Crafting Unique Musical Narratives

The Creative Process

Annie’s methodical approach to songwriting and production is a testament to her dedication. “For me, concepts always come first before the full song is developed,” she emphasizes. This structured creative process involves envisioning the soundscape and story before diving into the nitty-gritty of chord progressions and lyrics. This thorough preparation ensures that each song is a well-rounded piece of art.

The creation of a single can take weeks, reflecting Annie’s meticulous nature. “It might take weeks… because for me, concepts always come first,” she reiterates. This approach allows her to develop rich, layered compositions that resonate with her listeners. Her latest project, a song titled “Silly Girl,” is a prime example of her detailed craftsmanship. “Silly Girl is about a love story… there are lots of interesting sounds,” she describes, showcasing the thought and effort behind each track.

Virtual Collaborations and Live Performances

Annie’s journey also highlights the evolving nature of music production and collaboration in a digital age. Much of her work with production is done remotely. “We communicate pretty well. Before I fly from New York to Los Angeles and record in a professional studio,” she mentions, drawing attention to the seamless integration of virtual and in-person collaborations. This flexibility is crucial in today’s interconnected world, allowing artists to collaborate across geographical boundaries without compromising on quality.

Live performances remain an integral part of her artistic expression, providing an opportunity to connect directly with her audience. Although she acknowledges the logistical and financial challenges, the desire to perform with a full band and dancers demonstrates her commitment to delivering immersive, live experiences.

Resilience and Community Support

Navigating Challenges and Embracing Resilience

Annie’s journey is not without its challenges. The pursuit of an artistic career is fraught with uncertainties and setbacks. However, her outlook on these challenges is a lesson in resilience. “It’s okay to be a little scary. Life itself is a little scary anyway,” she advises. The recognition that fear is a natural part of growth allows her to face each obstacle with courage and determination.

Her advice to aspiring artists is simple yet profound: “You can want to give up, but you cannot give up.” This perspective underscores the importance of persistence and the need to continually push past moments of doubt and frustration. Annie’s commitment to her craft and her ability to maintain a balance between personal and professional life serve as a blueprint for others navigating similar paths.

Support Systems and Cultural Representation

A robust support system is instrumental in Annie’s journey. Her manager, producer, and family play crucial roles in her development. “My manager is so helpful… my family is really supportive,” she shares, highlighting the significance of having a reliable network. Their encouragement and belief in her potential provide the necessary foundation for her to explore and grow.

Annie’s journey also underscores the importance of cultural representation in the music industry. As an Asian artist, she aims to carve out space in a predominantly Western pop landscape. “I want to be the one that can soar, that can live my thing out,” she expresses, reflecting her aspiration to inspire others and pave the way for greater diversity in the industry. Her presence not only broadens the representation but also enriches the cultural tapestry of contemporary music.

Annie Nan’s story is a powerful reminder of the resilience and passion required to pursue one’s dreams. From her early days in Beijing to her current pursuits in New York, her journey is marked by a relentless drive to integrate her love for music and dance into a cohesive and compelling narrative. Supported by a dedicated team and a robust personal resolve, Annie continues to inspire and lead by example.

As she succinctly puts it, “Listen to my song, come to my dance performances.” Her call to action reflects the confidence and enthusiasm of an artist truly committed to her craft. Her journey is far from over, and with each step, she sets the stage for an inspiring future in the performing arts.

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Creative Alchemy: Turning Daydreams into Films



Discovering Filmmaking: From Comics to the Camera

The Unplanned Journey to Filmmaking

The essence of a powerful narrative often lies in unexpected journeys. For Ethan Irwin, a 21-year-old filmmaker, his entry into the cinematic world was far from a calculated career move. Living in the small town of Richmond, Utah, he discovered his passion quite serendipitously during his time at a high school called Fast Forward.

“At the beginning, I didn’t think of being a filmmaker. In fact, I came in here actually to become a comic book writer.”

But life had other plans. Ethan’s initial foray into doodling quickly transformed when he stumbled upon a filmmaking elective. This seemingly inconsequential choice turned Ethan’s daydreams into tangible vision through films, as he started aligning his storytelling talent with cinematic techniques.

He acknowledges the mentorship of his teacher, Andy Lormer, who bestowed practical insights from the world of documentary-making, and his peer, Devin, who helped hone his skills in editing and directing. These experiences solidified Ethan’s confidence in his newfound passion.

“\[Andy] just showed me, like, how to use the tools and how to work with directors, actors, certain things like that.”

The transition from comic book aspirations to filmmaking underscores an essential lesson for creative minds: be open to exploring different mediums. Ethan’s story is a testament to how unforeseen pathways can lead to fulfilling careers.

Crafting Stories Through Film

Ethan’s Storytelling Approach

Film, at its core, is about storytelling. For Ethan, his childhood love for creating imaginative tales seamlessly translated into his filmmaking approach. He emphasizes that his ability to tell compelling stories is his most potent asset.

“I’ve always been a storyteller since I was a kid… My most powerful thing on filming and I do is my storytelling.”

Ethan’s films span various genres, including comedies, horrors, dramas, and even romances. His versatility in storytelling is evident. One of his more interesting projects featured a satirical infomercial inspired by the 1980s, where a magical bottle becomes the centerpiece of humor as it makes people fall in love.

“…we did it in such a funny 1980s style… it was very motivating, I guess.”

By adeptly switching between genres, Ethan demonstrates that the key to resonance lies not just in the story itself but how it’s told and adapted to engage different audiences. As he puts it, his daydreams become vehicles for inviting people into new perspectives.

Ethan’s approach also highlights the importance of relatability. He aims to document human experiences authentically, invoking emotions like laughter, surprise, and even love. This dynamic and inclusive storytelling style is a major hallmark of his work.

Building a Supportive Community

The Role of Friends, Family, and Mentorship

In the world of filmmaking, no one succeeds alone. The backbone of Ethan’s career growth has been the unwavering support from his friends, family, and mentors. This network has not only provided him with financial resources but also emotional and practical support, catalyzing his cinematic ambitions.

Ethan’s close friends often step into various roles in his films, from acting to assisting with direction. This camaraderie fosters a robust creative environment where ideas can flourish, and projects come to life successfully. He speaks warmly of his friend Devin, a recurring contributor to many of his projects.

“One of my best friends, Devin… he’s been in every single project I’ve been.”

Moreover, the Utah Film Association’s Facebook group has proven instrumental in connecting Ethan with additional cast and crew when needed. This highlights how built-in communities can be crucial in filling gaps and alleviating the creative burden on independent filmmakers.

Mentorship plays a pivotal role as well. Ethan continually consults with his former teacher, Andy, for advice on everything from camera techniques to story development. This ongoing mentorship ensures that Ethan’s filmmaking skills are continually honed and refined.

“Without him, this, the foundation of filmmaking for me wouldn’t have been discovered.”

This collective effort underscores the power of a supportive network in creative industries. It’s a reminder that while individual talent is essential, collaborative effort amplifies success and enriches the creative process.

Broadening Horizons and Maintaining Engagement

Expanding Outreach: From YouTube to Twitch

As Ethan continues to evolve in his career, he remains aware of the importance of engaging with his audience. Initially, YouTube served as his primary platform for showcasing his work, but he soon realized the need for greater interaction with his followers.

“I realized when I’m making YouTube and I just premiere it, I don’t get to engage with my audience.”

To counter this, Ethan is exploring other platforms like Twitch. This shift allows for live interactions and instant feedback, which not only helps in understanding audience reactions but also builds a more personal connection between the filmmaker and his viewers. This move highlights the importance of adapting to new technologies and platforms to stay relevant and engaged with one’s audience.

Moreover, Ethan’s strategic use of social media and his openness to critique further bolster his growth. By utilizing Instagram and other channels, he ensures that his work reaches diverse and broader audiences, contributing to his brand’s visibility and accessibility.

“My Instagram DM’s are open, so if you want to talk to me and talk to me, I’m also, I’m always available.”

Ethan’s ability to leverage these platforms effectively underscores a critical aspect of modern filmmaking: the necessity of maintaining a dynamic and engaging online presence.

Visualizing Dreams and Sharing Stories

In reflecting on Ethan Erwin’s cinematic journey, several key elements stand out. From discovering a passion unexpectedly to honing storytelling prowess, and building a resilient support network, his story is one of talent, community, and persistent exploration.

Ethan’s emphasis on the power of storytelling in filmmaking resonates profoundly with audiences, demonstrating how daydreams and narratives can be transformed into compelling visual experiences. His adaptive approach to engaging with his audience and leveraging new platforms exemplifies the evolving nature of the film industry.

In essence, Ethan’s journey offers a model for aspiring filmmakers: remain open to unexpected paths, nurture your storytelling abilities, and build a supportive community that will help bring your creative visions to life.

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amillionsons & Taka Boom Talk New Single “Misti Blu Two”



UK based band amillionsons has returned to the music scene with a boom. After a lengthy hiatus, the trio have reemerged with an updated version of their hit single “Mist Blu” featuring Taka Boom (The Undisputed Truth, Prince, George Clinton), with 10 time Grammy Award Winning singer and Rock n Roll Hall of Famer Chaka Khan and their brother Mark Stevens. For “Misti Blu Two” the band has reinvented a Bob Montgomery classic record in harmonious fashion elevating their original sound like never before.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Andy Kulesza from amillionsons and Taka Boom for a candid conversation about the origins of Misti Blu Two, working with Chaka Khan and Mark Stevens (Taka’s siblings) and the importance of putting out good music that resonates with people. Check out the full conversation below.

Taka Boom & amillionsons Interview

How did this record come about and why did you guys decide to recreate Bob Montgomery’s classic?

Andy: My band mate Matt Shelton really loved the Dorothy More version of “Misty Blue” after hearing the song on the radio in the UK back in the 80’s. One day back in early 2001 he brought the record to our studio in Nottingham, UK and suggested we do our own version. We released a bootleg version on whitelabel which was picked up by DJ Mancuso and played at the Loft in NY. After that, the song got a lot of attention and was quickly picked up by industry aficionados Steve Lamacq, Mary Anne Hobbs and Pete Tong.

This led to us getting signed by Pete to FFRR which then became London Records/WMG but we still needed some original vocals as we couldn’t just use Dorothy’s. So our manager at the time introduced us to Mark Bell who is an incredible musician and former bass player of UK band “M People”, who was a friend of our then manager. He then connected us to Taka. Taka & Mark are really good friends and she was living in the UK at the time so Taka agreed to record the song with us. We released it in 2002. We released an album in 2005 called “The First One’s Free” and a bunch of other records but in 2010 the band decided to take a hiatus.

Taka: Yes I completely shut down musically due to personal reasons. We’ve stayed in touch on and off over the years but in 2021 I reached out to the guys after seeing our original music video for Misti Blu on youtube. The guys shared their idea with me and I jumped right on board. I think this new version is something we all needed.

Andy: Yes, Matt joked to Taka about bringing Chaka, and Mark to sing backgrounds for “Misti Blu” and sure enough that is what happened. The song is really unique as not only do we have all 3 siblings singing on this but Taka is lead vocalist with Chaka and Mark doing impeccable background vocals throughout the entire single. They are arguably one of the most talented vocal families in the music business. Together, we created something really special that we hope everyone enjoys and connects with.

Can you guys talk about your relationship between the band and Taka?

Andy: Taka is like family to us. We have always been good friends and it’s amazing that to this day, we are still working together 22 years later.

How did you know Taka Boom was the perfect vocalist to lead “Misti Blu Two”?

Andy: Have you heard her sing? It was a no brainer. She is one of the best female vocalists we have had the pleasure of working with. Her talent is unmatched and overall she is just a great person. It was an honor to have Taka as our lead vocalist for this single.

How did it feel being able to do this record with your siblings?

Taka: Any time you get a chance to work with your family members, it is always exciting. It was a life changing experience for me. It also helped to install and reinstate our relationships as we are all very close. Recording Misti Blu Two was very healing and spiritual.

As you all collaborated with FOMO in 2016, what made this collaboration different?

Taka: For me to write a song that my siblings enjoyed as much as I do was truly special. The fact that we were all able to be in the studio together and shoot a music video together was nothing short of amazing. You can see our joy and excitement and quite frankly this is a part of our family legacy. I am so proud to have the same DNA as my brother and sister.

When it comes to “House of Love” versus “Misti Blu Two”, one is upbeat and the other is more like a blues record. They have two completely different tempos and melodies. So far, the amillionsons version is my favorite as it is the most precious recording I have had the pleasure of being a part of.

You went from working with George Clinton and Parliament, to becoming the lead singer in Undisputed Truth to writing for Prince. Out of all of your musical experiences what would you say is the most meaningful?

Taka: I would definitely say working with FOMO was the most meaningful musical experience I have had in my life because I got to share this experience with my family. Chaka, Mark and I have all been musically inclined since we were kids but it’s not often that we get a chance to record together and have so much fun doing it. Working with my siblings again for the amillionsons collaboration is literally a dream come true.

As you are reigniting your music career what has been the most exciting part of this musical journey for you?

Taka: The most exciting part about this journey is the opportunity for me to record new music, connect more with fans, and a new audience. What I know how to do is sing, and I think I do that pretty well. I have never even had a vocal lesson but I know I have a gift and I am truly excited to keep sharing it with the world.

I believe I saw Chaka say you will be performing at Chaka Khan’s Meltdown festival with her in London? Can we expect to hear you performing Misti Blu Two?

Taka: Yes! I will most definitely be performing at the Meltdown Festival, amillionsons & Mark Bell will be joining me too! My sister, Chaka is due to join us for Misti Blu Two but we’ll have to see what happens on the day. Meltdown will take place in London from June 15th-24th and I am truly excited to be a part of the line up.

What is up next for Taka Boom?

Taka: What is up next for me is the Meltdown Festival!

What is up next for amillionsons?

Andy: Along with the release of “Misti Blu Two” we will be releasing five remixes of the song including a Chicago House mix by Mark Bell aka Blakkat. Outside of that, we are currently working with a stellar line up of super talented artists that we are excited to put music out with and hopefully we will be doing some more with Taka in the future!

Press play below to stream amillionsons highly anticipated single “Misti Blu Two” Featuring Taka Boom with Chaka Khan and Mark Stevens.

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Grinding in the Music Industry: Lessons Learned from Zacc P



In a candid radio interview with Shah Cypha on On The Grynd Live, Zacc P, an emerging artist in the music industry, offers a glimpse into his artistic journey, the trials of navigating the music business, and his creative process. The exchange reveals recognitions about the dynamics of independent music production, the importance of authenticity in songwriting, and the ongoing necessity of determination in one’s career.

Navigating the Waters of Independent Music

Music independence can be both liberating and challenging, as Zacc P articulates in his discussion with Shah Cypha. **Navigating the Music Industry** is a nuanced theme in their dialogue, focusing on how emerging artists like Zacc P perceive the landscape.

Zacc P’s perspective on the subject is multifaceted. As an indie artist, he appreciates the creative control he maintains over his projects, stating, “I’m in very much control of my life at this point.” Yet, he also addresses the downsides: “You got to navigate through the scammers before you get to the real deal.” These statements present a raw truth about the music industry’s complexities, particularly for those without a familial or institutional legacy in the business.

To emerge successfully in such an environment, one must tread cautiously and learn from experience. Zacc P has learned the importance of who to trust, emphasizing the recurrence of “people \[who] be stealing, bro.” He suggests that navigating these realities is about learning self-worth and “how to, like, do your business, correct.”

The Craft of Creating Music

Beyond the business dynamics, an artist’s **Creative Process** stands at the heart of their artistic identity. Every artist has their own method, and Zacc P shares his, which leans heavily on authenticity. “Depending on what song you get, you’re gonna get the ultimate version of myself,” he says.

He rejects the notion of a ghostwriter, affirming, “No one writes my music but me.” His approach is introspective and transparent, using music as a conduit for sharing life experiences: “I’ve felt like being real… you might not want to say something… it might be too personal.”

This philosophy speaks to the broader role of music as a form of personal expression and communication, blurring the lines between artist and audience. Zacc P leverages this form to forge a true connection with listeners, crafting songs that resonate on deeper levels, such as the emotional track “What Can I Say?”

The Essence of Perseverance

The conversation turns towards the **Persistent Grind**, a reality for any striving artist. When asked about the definition of ‘grind,’ Zacc P succinctly answers, “Everyday lifestyle.” This reflects the commitment required to make a mark in an industry saturated with talent. The grind is continuous, extending beyond just creating music—it’s about ceaselessly striving to leave a legacy and reach new heights.

Whether an artist is independent or backed by a label, they cannot afford to slack. Zacc P’s dedication is palpable as he mentions the desire to grow his catalog before taking his show on the road, signaling that for an artist, the grind is never done. “Even when you reach where you want to go, you got to keep grinding. Otherwise, you’re going to lose it,” he explains.

The support system, like Zacc P’s shoutout to his fiancée, underlines that while the grind might be personal, it doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Artists rely on their supporters, from their inner circle to fans worldwide, to sustain their momentum.

Throughout the interview, the recurrent idea is that an artist’s pathway is not a solitary trek but an intertwining of personal growth, community, and industry knowledge. Zacc P’s experiences reflect a microcosm of what it means to strive in today’s music scene, with lessons that resonate beyond the confines of the arts.

The takeaways are clear: Recognize and trust in your artistry, understand the business to protect your work, and, above all, persist in the grind to turn a passion into a lasting legacy. The soundscape of the music industry might be treacherous, but artists like Zacc P demonstrate the rewards of navigating it with integrity and resolve.

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