Almost Famous

The Avenues to Success

The Preface. Book II.

Change. Probably a word most of us are very uncomfortable with, including myself. We tend to gravitate around things which seem most familiar, safe, and involves no to low risk. We wake up everyday and find minor annoyances within our lives and especially with the things we are most passionate about. It is through these annoyances dreams develop into reality. It is within these annoyances we are able to transcend adulthood and revert back to childhood. When faced with a dream, you must be patient, stubborn and absolutely unrealistic. You must make moves when the rest of the world is sleeping and rest knowing you are already one step ahead of the rest of the world. This is where I stand. This is what eats away at my mind throughout the day, but I still keep it locked inside, until now. In a few weeks I will be making a huge move to New York City. I promised myself I would return and I have kept that promise among much opposition. This is beyond a new chapter in my life; it is really an entirely new book. Better yet, it is a very open book. From this point on, each of you reading this will see a timeline of my journey throughout closing this Ohio chapter, and opening up a new series in New York City. I will not take this for granted and I know I will come out of it victorious. To be honest, I can’t put into words or really explain to you right now where I will end up, all I know is it will be for the betterment of music. I’m chasing not just one dream, but a field of opportunities centered on the arts.

Closing a book in your life and ultimately being satisfied with the results is difficult because you know the book you are about to close is the foundation of yourself. It would be impossible to name off every person who has ever influenced me, but you know who you are or will know who you are because in every thing I do, you will be a part of it in some way. In the entire 22 years of my life, I have seen so much, learned so much, and changed so much. It’s amazing to realize how the people in your life fit into the puzzle of the future. They help foster your dream without you even realizing it. I am blessed to live without blindness to see that. This is why I enjoy writing, I take in everything. I sit in a coffee shop right now, trying not to be creepy, but looking at every person wondering where their feet have been. I could be sitting among undiscovered talent. I could be sitting among unfinished dreams. I start this journey young because I refuse to doubt myself. I refuse to have fear, opposition, or regrets. This is me and you will know me.

August 6, 2010 Posted by | New York City | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Music Journalist in NYC Vol. 2

Honestly, January seems like just a moment ago. In fact, December seems like a week ago where I was stuck between Toledo and New York and wondering why I felt it was necessary to burden myself with more financial worries if I did decide to move to New York. Now, in the silent, well semi-silent night in Brooklyn, NY, only a few blocks down from where Shawn Carter a.k.a Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G sat on the corners and something in the Brooklyn air inspired them to pick up a microphone and change history, I sit on a lap top in a still, very surreal, urban environment in an old warehouse-turned loft with two random roommates I found on craigslist. I say urban because for almost 21 years my life, my life has been suburban and very ordinary with hardly enough hardship to create a documentary around my struggle to break into the music industry. I say random because although I’ve always been known to act on first impulses, this city directed me into the most random situations I’ve ever, and you will ever, be in.

Indefinitely I am never satisfied because this entire experience was a “better late than never” random, financially stupid decision. I was almost done with school and I could have settled for the carbon-copy. I could have stayed in Toledo, finished my spring semester of my junior year, take out more loans, work two jobs, and once again spend my summer in Toledo selling cell phones. This seemed logically the next stop on my college journey, but I decided to take a little detour. Unknowingly this little detour would evolve into a life-altering change and compose another chapter in your life you can only write when you’re young. This detour would wipe every thing and every person out of my life and replace them with new people and things only to be replaced again. This detour was never at any point easy and in fact, was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Why did I do it? I ask this question every day I wake up breathing in the Brooklyn air and while on my short walk to the G train. After work I come home and walk up 5 flights of stairs, open the roof door, and light up a cigarette while staring at the Manhattan skyline off in the distance wondering how in the hell I got here and how the hell am I still here. I look down onto the Brooklyn streets, somewhere on Mrytle Avenue, I see life, real people, New York people, and I am a part of that scenery. Then, one last thing blows my mind every time, in the distance I see the skyscrapers within the financial district and I can frame the set of buildings I was able to see outside of my 24th floor apartment on Water Street only a month ago. If I look even closer and think even harder, near the Empire State Building stands another building where I used to spend writing long, strenuous articles for editors for some of the top newspapers in the world, and this was only a short summer ago. In fact, as I sit here, I realize my last summer in Ohio was the summer of 2007 because next summer my final move to New York City will be complete.

The carbon-copy summer still holds true. As of right now, I still took out a loan, although not a very large one, and yes, I still sell cell phones. You could say I have three jobs, but I’d rather have more because currently I feel unproductive. A year ago today, where I sit would be a dream, an impossible height to reach, a silly thought. But right now, I sit in the greatest city in the world, working towards a dream I thought was unreachable. A dream where I needed an immense amount of patience and skill and a dream I never knew what it was. This dream needed to plant its seed in fertile land and although financially America does not seem the richest, New York still seemed to have enough nutrients. In December I doubted myself and fought until I was satisfied with my decision to stay, but judging by the current events, I was not. No one will ever know the logical voices I had to shut-off in my head to make this happen. But, more importantly, I made this happen. There was no suggestion, this opportunity did not come knocking at my door, I sought it, found it, and took advantage of it, period. When something prevented me from leaving, I dealt with it until every possible solution was used up. I turned negatives into positives and restored hope in my mind just by prevailing under immeasurable odds against me. At this point I was unable to be broken and basically had my bags packed, ready-to-roll, and prepared to throw myself into city where I knew basically no one and had to fend for myself.

It is a very interesting time to enter into the real world after college graduation. Besides the recession and a new administration, as humans we seem to be losing the real quality and genuine ability to understand what makes us human and what should unite us. The once powerful and prominent industries have begun a transformation and fallout and once again it seems we must start from the beginning and adapt to the environmental and social changes around us. To be within a city like New York during these historic times is an experience in itself and creates a new understanding of diversity. Although I don’t consider myself to be a true New Yorker, I do feel I have finally broken the threshold of tourist and native. I have become a product of my environment and look at the “New York stereotypes” as a norm, but still can sit back and laugh at them. I’ve made relationships with my morning coffee street vendors, my walk is brisk, I stay to the right on the escalators, I read other people’s newspapers on the subways, I’ve stopped giving to the homeless, and most importantly, I’ve learned to hustle. In only four months I’ve worked as a hip-hop journalist, photographer, theater critic, music critic, club promoter, pre-audio engineer, worked in a studio, worked for Time Warner, and sold cell phones for two different companies in two different boroughs. I’ve probably been to over 40 different clubs or bars, saw about 30 or 40 live shows, and stayed faithful to the worst diet I’ve ever had in a period of 4 months. I’ve been to Starbucks probably hundreds of times and probably only ate at the same restaurant once or twice. I exhausted my loan money, had the time of my life, made lifelong friendships from all over the country, established a large network of music industry professionals, and I promise you I will continue to leap forward until I get exactly what I want and what is to come.

This was four months and I promise you there is no way to step inside my shoes. There is no way when I return home I can explain all of this to you because you couldn’t even comprehend what I put myself through here. But just know this, whoever took the time to read all of this, you can do whatever you want in this world and right now is the time to make that happen. Don’t ever settle and don’t listen to anyone that tells you what you want to do with your life is silly. I don’t care where you’re at, but get somewhere where your passion exists and thrives, especially in these crazy times. We are at a point where the dreamers can dream and the entrepreneurs can win. There’s no job market? Well create one and do what you want to do because there is no longer anything stopping you. This is a time of new ideas and our generation is behind this explosion and responsible for many generations to come. Let’s get it.

Real talk.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

YouTube’s Undiscovered Gems

lwamShe sits impatiently, staring at her computer screen, looking at the latest comments on her YouTube.com page. Her fan base develops not through record sales and concert attendance, but through fans listening to her on her MySpace.com music page and watching her oftentimes comical yet always entertaining videos on YouTube.

She wakes up early, goes to one of her part-time jobs and spends the rest of the day at the studio with her producer, creating another crowd-pleasing track that will stir the internet audience, once again prompting viewers to respond with a flood of positive comments.

These positive comments are attributed not only to an angelic voice, but the rising skills of an amateur producer. He bears the title “amateur” because his equipment consists of a MacBook Pro and music editing software called “Garage Band.”

Struggling to keep up with the ever-demanding music industry, he spends hours at a time producing mind-blowing tracks and posting them on MySpace and YouTube.

Who are these people being fueled by their passion for music? Their names are Lwam Tecle, 20, and Ryan Tedder, 19, both from Cleveland and part of the music industry’s new era of young, technologically advanced talent.

Before Tecle and Tedder made the decision to become artists, the duo lived normal, post-high school teenage lives. Tedder grew up in Pittsburgh, learning to play piano at age eight and owning his first drum set at the tender age of three.

“It only lasted a week before I busted the heads, [my parents] put me in drum lessons when I was four years old,” he said.

His musical gift was most evident in his ability to listen to a song and play it back instantly. During his senior year of high school, Tedder was accepted into the Berkley College of Music but due to financial issues, decided to attend Tri-C, a local community college in Cleveland where he studied jazz.

Lwam Tecle became intrigued with music not by recognizing her own talent, but by humbly appreciating music in its purest art form.

“… I became obsessed with singing. It was like my own lil’ secret,” she said. “I was always nervous performing – I guess I am still learning how to do that.”

In order for Tecle to conquer her fear of the stage, she decided to bring her talent to the masses through the power of the Internet. Specifically through the popular social network MySpace and the video-sharing Web site YouTube.

“YouTube is so unbelievably powerful. The fact that you can get to know someone through a video is almost unreal,” Tecle said.

The dynamic partnership between Tecle and Tedder formed as if fate sustained the bond. While checking out some videos on YouTube of upcoming R&B singer and producer Ryan Leslie, Tedder said he was immediately intrigued by a response left by an attractive young female, Lwam Tecle.

“She impressed me … I decided to reach out to her and network. I didn’t think anything of it,” Tedder said.

After learning Tecle lived only 15 minutes away from Tedder’s home, the two agreed to meet up. The chemistry, evident by Tecle and Tedder’s videos on YouTube, was an instant hit. Tecle’s YouTube channel, “LTMUSICTV,” has almost 2,000 subscribers and almost 22,000 views and Tedder’s channel, “RyanTedder412,” has almost 4,000 subscribers and over 50,000 views.

“Word of mouth is the most convincing way to sell yourself,” Tecle said.

To date, Tecle and Tedder’s buzz has extended well beyond the regions of the Midwest. The two were recently featured on B94, a popular radio station in Pittsburgh, Pa. Their buzz is also sparking the interest of several major industry producers. Tecle requested their names not to mentioned.

Based on the incredible fan base they already have developed, the talented duo know fame is evident. Their determination is clear through their goals and ever-improving sound as collaborating artists.

Tecle relies on the producing techniques of Tedder, but with her goal to be “well-rounded as an artist,” Tecle plans on trying her hand on producing as well.

“I really want to get into producing so I can have a hand on the technical part of my projects,” she said.

Along with sharing their music with the world, both Tecle and Tedder have a desire to give back and help others.

“I am motivated by the idea of helping others with funds made doing something I love to do,” Tecle said.

Giving back, in Tedder’s definition, is creating a new music scene.

“After I land a few major placements, I plan to launch my own label, ‘Upscale Music Group,'” he said. “It is going to be a label run by myself and others who share my vision as producers, songwriters and artists who work collectively to create great music – people who share the same goal and creative minds to put out real music again.”

Producing, marketing, promoting, writing their own music and possessing the ultimate goal of helping others achieve their dreams, Tecle and Tedder represent the ultimate success story.

“What I will say is that I am not foolish for believing in something,” Tecle said. “It’s not like I forced a passion in my heart, it was naturally just there. I know what I want, and I know I have to work hard for it.”

Although the road to stardom is never an easy one, Lwam Tecle and Ryan Tedder welcome the bumps and detours along the way.

“That’s the beauty of the long road to getting into the industry; when you get to the end of it, it’s going to be well worth it, and you will appreciate it so much more,” Tecle said. “If I fail at this, I want to crash and burn, because if it doesn’t hurt falling, that means that I wasn’t trying as hard as I thought I was. We only have one life; don’t limit yourself to anything.”

Courtesy of The Independent Collegian (http://independentcollegian.com/2.10032/1.1322412-1.1322412)

Real talk.

February 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arlene’s Grocery

More music from the big apple.  Interestingly enough, most of these bands attracted a large crowd for a Tuesday night.  The set included The Populists, Lizzy Grant, Band of Theives, Clinton Curtis, and Manhattan’s infamous cover band, Just the Tip.

Lizzy Grant

Lizzy Grant

Band of Theives

Band of Thieves

Clinton Curtis

Band of Thieves

February 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Trash Bar

'Ashes'

'Ashes'

'I Love Monsters'

'I Love Monsters'

After tapping my feet to the repetitive songs coming out of my headphones on the subway everyday I was itching to try something different. I needed a taste of New York City’s music scene to satisfy my eternal attraction to underground melodic, rhythmic bliss. Cleveland, my hometown, appears for the first time in this first edition of “Weekly Underground” (I just came up with that, pretty cool huh?). One of my best friends from Cleveland, Jay Metcalf, who also happens to be my fraternity brother, introduced me to a band awhile back called “Ashes” he manages. After missing the first show in Toledo on the count of my unwillingness to show up on time, I bet my life I would be at the NYC show. This unlikely combination of a cello, keyboard, drums, and an acoustic, electric, and bass guitar will have you begging for an encore.

While their album does spark interest, it surely does not do them justice. Most of their tracks were inspired by the many travels the band undertakes. With a deep emphasis on lyrics, each song was a blessing on stage. The members clearly have a close relationship with each other as well. This is apparent on-stage with the chemistry evoked, but more evident off-stage if you get the rare opportunity to experience their lives when the lights go down. Along with the Ashes boys (and girl) came the pop/punk ensemble known as, “I Love Monsters” who I found myself jamming-out to, but you may be able to blame that on the combination of the open bar and my very first New York City show. All-in-all though both bands came strong and I was extremely satisfied only spending $7 on a cover, open bar for an hour, and ‘free’ (that’s right, free), PBR’s in that hour. Bargain. Following the show at the Brooklyn venue, “The Trash Bar,” which I highly-recommend, all of us hopped in taxi’s, groupies and all, and traveled to several bars. What I find amusing in New York City is after a show, no matter how packed it seemed to be, no one recognizes you after that. I expected a sounding of cheers when we walked into a bar, but after adjusting myself to the massive world of NYC’s music scene I checked back into reality. Happen to see “Ashes” or “I Love Monsters” coming your way in the near future? Well, you may not be sipping on a seemingly unlimited supply of PBR’s, but you will enjoy yourself, I promise.

Real talk.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment