West Baltimore’s Jokester in LA, Meet Jordan Carter

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where we’re you born and raised?

What up it’s Jordan Carter! I am a comedian, motivational speaker, actor, author, writer, and I was born and raised in Baltimore all my life. I live in California now executing my dream #followdafunny.

What was it like growing up there?

Awwww man…interesting. You had some good days you had some bad days. We was struggling but we loved each other like real blood. We built our relationships off loyalty like if you’re my brother I’d give you the shirt off my back. I got your back [and] you got mine from boxing in the streets to playing football on the parking lot. Some of my best memories happened in the hood. We had some wild stories like when my big brother rented a junky rental and taught everyone how to drive in the K-mart parking lot .

As a child, what did you want to become when you grew up?

A football player or a music producer [but] neither one worked out because I always was making jokes during practice and still playing around. I lost the passion for a lot of this new music .

What sparked your interest in comedy?

I loved making folks laugh telling my wild stories. I was funny in elementary school.

Who are your favorite comedians? How have they influenced you?

Favorite Martin Lawrence, Steve Harvey, Kevin Hart, Bernie Mac. I really like Ron G, Barry Brewer, London Brown Dave Butler, [and] Desi Alexender Keante Scott. Martin been my favorite since way back then. He is the G.O.A.T to me. Steve Harvey is somewhat what I want to be in the future. Kevin is like Lebron James to basketball; he is the greatest comedian of our time. Bernie’s story and his book amazed me. [I was] inspired by his book So You Never Have to Cry Again.

When did you start telling jokes?

I been telling jokes forever. Writing or organizing jokes is different then sitting on the block making the homies laugh.

What made you decide to become a comedian?

I only been good at one thing in my life and that’s making people laugh. I never was a fake tough guy. I always had conduct interfere with learning in school because I always used to being silly being goofy making jokes.

How do you develop new material?

I go around family, friends, and people that’s not comedians to just observe.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My grandmother. My neighborhood. My people. The little kid that’s at home writing that the World hasn’t seen yet. I used to be homeless and broke. I ain’t going back there never.

What do you like most about what you do?

I can be me anywhere I go. I bring people together from different religions and races ages through laughter. That’s love .

What’s it like being on stage during a stand up routine?

It’s supposed to be like you sitting in the living room talking in conversation saying your point of view. It can be different sometimes. It’s important to know your audience.

What’s one of your funniest experiences?

Awwww man I had a lot. My first time in LA, I bombed bad. I came back home and told everyone I killed. I stayed in this dirty busted down motel with the blow up bed on the floor. There was a porch chair in the room and palms over the bed bars on the window. It looked like someone was praying to get out of there .

What advice do you have for aspiring comics?

Keep grinding. Keep going. Don’t allow nobody to stop your dream. I went from homeless and broke to having my own brand, car, and spot. Keep your relationships strong don’t burn bridges.

Why do you think it’s important to follow your dream?

You going regret it the rest of your life if you don’t. I can’t go a day not thinking about comedy or jokes.

Follow Jordan on Instagram #iamjordancarter

A Lil Bit of Pop and Rock with Brett Steinberg

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where we’re you raised? What was it like growing up there?

I was raised in Long Island and then moved to Connecticut. I am really fortunate to have grown up in an environment that allowed me to flourish as an artist. I’ve had a large white acoustic piano in my house since I was a child and was able to experiment on it as I was learning my first chords. In retrospect, I was really lucky to have instruments surrounding me as I grew up.

What did you want to become when you were a child?

It was a cross between Batman and a major league baseball player. Maybe I could have been the first to combine the two careers.

What generated your interest in music?

I started listening to John Mayer and Coldplay in middle school and that music just changed it all for me.

What skills do you have within music?

I am a songwriter and producer. I play piano, guitar, bass and sing.

When did you learn to play the piano? How did it come about?

In 8th grade I took a piano class in school. From there I experimented on piano while simultaneously writing music. My mom also has been playing piano for most of her life and she taught me some of my first chords to work off.

When did you start singing?

Around the same time I started playing the piano. Writing, playing and singing really all linked up at the same time. It was a big time in my life—realizing my love of the craft.

What kind of music do you make?

I make Alternative Pop/Rock music.

Are there any themes in your music?

Definitely a wide range of themes, but they all come down to relationships. Relationship with yourself, the world, growing up, your family, friends, etc. At the core of it all it’s about the journeys we take within these relationships.

Who do you make music for?

Connection. It helps me connect with a purpose, with myself and with others in a way most other things do not.

What is your creation process like?

It changes between songs. I could sit down at a piano and write the whole composition, or create an instrumental on my laptop and go from there. Whether it’s an interesting chord progression or synth sound—when I find something that has resonance, that’s always the best place to start.

What projects have you released? Where can people find your music?

I am in a band called Kalimur (kalimurband/) as well as a band called Chasing Moonlight (chasingmoonlightmusic). Both bands have music on Spotify (Here & here). I also have a solo project (ageofwonderalbum).

What do you like most about creating music?

When I create, I can live in my own world for a bit. The control is completely in your hands and you attain a freedom to say whatever is on your mind and express whatever you’re feeling in that moment.

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?

Keep writing and experimenting. Trust your instinct and do music for the right reasons.

Why do you think it’s important for people to follow their dreams?

As corny as it is, you’ve got one life to live. It’s important to live it authentically and to do what makes you happy. I don’t see the point in writing yourself off before trying to achieve what makes you want to get up in the morning.

Devin O’Rourke and the Known Unknowns

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where we’re you born and raised?

I grew up in Houston, TX. Texas boy. Never thought of myself as particularly Texan. But recently I’ve been buying quite a few pearl snap shirts and the twang in my voice comes out after the third margarita.

What was it like growing up there?

Pretty standard suburban stuff. Great family and friends. Little League. Mosquitos. Tex Mex.

What sparked your interest in music?

My Dad got me into The Beatles at a really young age. I remember riding with him listening to Help and Rubber Soul and he’d quiz me on which Beatle was singing which song. At that point the thought of actually playing didn’t occur to me because no one in my family played, and it just wasn’t really happening around me.

Played some drums in middle school. Covered Smells Like Teen Spirit and maybe some Matchbox 20 in my friend’s garage. It wasn’t till the end of high school in the twilight of my competitive sports career that I turned my attention to guitar.

My sister Natalie had left this Takamine acoustic in the closet. The action was really high and you couldn’t play past the fifth fret which was fine because I still hardly ever play past the fifth fret. Learned some Johnny Cash tunes [and] some Bob Dylan. Learned Good Riddance just like everyone else my age.

The cliche is true: everyone in Austin, TX plays acoustic guitar and when I got to college at UT all my friends did and I was able to be inspired and really learn
a lot from some very talented friends.

When did you decide to take on music professionally and why?

I’ve never really thought about it in those terms. I’m always trying to get better as a songwriter and to surround myself with talented people that I can learn from.

That said, when I discovered a band like, say, Old 97’s, it felt like a kind of music that I could pull off if I worked at it. It made sense to me somehow. It was kind of country punk but very clever and seemingly more honest about love and drinking and the life that I knew at the time.

Whereas when you’re listening to Queen or Zeppelin or The Who’s Tommy in High School it’s like listening to Jedi Masters. And you’re stuck on Tatooine.

What type of music do you create?

People have described it as high energy folk music, especially my duo band, Punch-Drunks, that I have with Noah Trevino. That’s sort of like if The Everly Brothers and Green Day had a baby (on a good night). As a solo artist I think I’m still sort of searching for an identity, to be honest. At this point I know what my strengths are, but at the same time, you don’t want to live in the same house forever do you? Tom Waits says your hands are like dogs going to the same places they’ve been. You have to break them of the habits
or you don’t explore. How many songs can I play with a train beat in G? A lot apparently.

How did you get involved with Pop Cautious?

Tyler and I met on the first day of college at UT. I didn’t see him for four years, then we reconnected out in LA. I’d like to think that I coined the name Pop Cautious, but the record may not support that. Scholars debate that point. It’s hard to be sure of anything that happened in 2011. Tyler’s a great musician and friend. One of the most creative lead players I’ve known.

What has it been like working with him and the label?

It’s been a solid collaboration. We help each other out. It helps to have that deep bond that goes back a long way. Roots, ya know?

Could you tell us a bit about your new project and its single(s)?

Known Unknowns
was mainly self-produced, with great help from Bryan Lopez who played drums and bass on four tracks. We did the bones of the tracks at his studio in Glendora and then I finished them up at Rockhound Records (my home studio). Tyler contributed some lead guitar and bass and my good friend Nate Hertweck played lead on one track. I wrote about 40 songs or so in the first few months of the year, looked back on some other songs I had already and got it down to 6 in the end that made sense to me as a whole.

What was the inspiration behind this ep? Is there a central theme or various ones throughout?

I think my goal was to write something about life in LA. Somewhere along the way, this guy said to me “we have a lot of known unknowns right now.” I took that to mean ‘things that we know we don’t understand’. So to me this record is about taking stock of your surroundings, where you’re headed, where
you’ve been. The songs show different attitudes and ways of dealing with the same fears and uncertainty.

Where can people purchase your music?


How do you plan to grow as a musician?

I’d like to become a better guitar player and a better all around musician. I’d like to continue to grow as a producer. I’m feeling confident recording other artists and I’d like to continue to do that.

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?

First of all, stop saying “aspiring.” If you are playing gigs or recording you are a musician.
Don’t wait for your “Big Break”. Don’t wait to write the perfect song. Don’t stay in the garage.

The only way to grow is to put yourself out there and put your music out there. Don’t wait.

Josh Michaels, From Brooklyn Beginnings to Pop/Rock Sensation

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where we’re you born and raised?

I am Brooklyn born, Long Island raised.  I have been singing my entire life. I am sitting here remembering performing the National Anthem at age 10 for a local New York yacht club. I began writing my own lyrics around age 18. Music is what I live for.

How was it growing up there?

Living in Hewlett Long Island is not the easiest place to grow up. Most parents are directing their children’s lives. I refuse to be directed. I will not take a 9 to 5 job just to please others. I have always had this musical passion built inside of me. I will never let it go. I write and sing to heal all hearts and minds.

What generated your interest in music?

It is naturally built in. It came with who I am.

What type of music do you create?

I create pop/rock music. I am open to all types of music. I am trained in Italian opera and enjoy using my vibrato within a pop/rock setting.

Here's the cover art to his ep.
Here’s the cover art to his ep.

Purchase Out of the Deep Blue here

How long have you been creating music professionally?

I have been writing and recording original work for 9 years.

Why do you create music and who is your music for?

I create music for others. As stated previously, I write to open all hearts and minds. To heal wounds with my word.

You released an ep not too long ago. Could you tell us a bit about that?

Out of the Deep Blue was written based off life experiences to help others with their own life experience. 

What was the inspiration behind the project?

I am inspired by finding ways to heal a hurt soul through a line I write. Aside from music, I always reach out to the ones in pain.  

What makes your music different from other artists?

Most music today contain lyrics that focus on specific situations. To me, that cannot heal all listeners.  Music should be created to heal [and] not to destroy. I use universal language so anyone can grab hold to the words and apply it to their own life situations.

What does it feel like to work on what you love regularly? 

When venturing into other work, I realize every single time that I am meant to be in music. No where else.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

My best advice is to keep going. Hold on to your visions. Never give up. Don’t let fear become your worst enemy. Face your fears and always listen to your heart.

Why do you think it’s important for people to follow their dreams?

We all have a destiny. We are all growing to where we belong. Grab on to your dreams and fight for them.  Become where you belong.

Check out his video “Like the Rest”

Official Website: Josh Michaels

Facebook: Josh Michaels
Sound Cloud: Josh Michaels

Stellar Dreams and Musical Expertise from Dominic Ellerbee

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from?

My name is Dominic Ellerbee, I am 19 and I was born and raised in Denver, CO. My mom had me at 17 and shortly after I was born my father, who had 2 other children at this time with another woman, went to prison for about 10 years on an attempted murder charge.

I never really liked music in general other than Eminem and 50 cent until I was 13 or so. I started playing music when I was 14 after falling in love with Guitar Hero 3 and Metallica. I got my first bass on February 4th, 2011 and from then until I summer 2012 all I played and listened to was 80’s Thrash Metal (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, etc).

During the summer of 2012 I fell in love with my first girlfriend, who played the viola and could read music and write it. I was so impressed by this and admittedly a little jealous I decided to learn some music theory myself. I started studying from books, and YouTube videos, and over time I taught myself everything I know.

By my senior year of high school, I had written a full length musical, directed a 9 piece jazz/classical ensemble, had 3 different bands, been in the citywide orchestra, band, and jazz band for 3 years, and taught all of the music classes in my school including advanced choir, marching band, jazz band, guitar, piano, and drum line. I also played the national anthem on guitar at my senior homecoming football game and also performed at the homecoming dance during the slow dance portion. I attended The Berklee College of Music on a nice $10,000 scholarship, but was unable to afford my second semester as the remainder of my first semester was payed by my ex girlfriend’s mother, who would not and could not pay for my second semester. I returned home in February of this year and put all of my work into my songwriting and band music.

How was your life growing up?

My life was very hard. We’ve never had money, we’ve always had to borrow some from my grandma or family friends. When my sister was born in 2001 things just got harder. I was always an outcast as a child, often times pretending to be someone I’m not so people would like me. It wasn’t until high school that I really found myself and fit in with people. During high school and college I could never go out and do anything with anyone that required money because we never had any. But I had some great friends when I first started and that led to them paying for me or us just hanging out and bonding.

Where do you find motivation to persevere?

Most of my motivation comes from my mom. I am 19 and I am struggling even living with my mom currently. When I lived on my own in Boston (I stayed in a house not the dorms) when my mom was 17 she was self sufficient on her own. She persevered and raised me with care and kindness and made me what I am today. Whenever she was weak she picked herself back up for me. Another part of my motivation is to help my family get out of this mess. We live in a gang filled neighborhood, we are poor, we eat one meal a day almost everyday, we have nothing really. I just want to make this album and this music, because I know I have something to give, I just need a platform to show people.

What sparked your interest in music?

Guitar Hero 3, but more specifically Metallica’s Bassist Cliff Burton. He was so pro and made the bass act as a lead instrument, this style of playing is what I initially fell in love with, and then I just learned as much as I could.

What do you like most about creating music?

Expressing what cannot be expressed through words, also writing lyrics is fun to me. I dream one day of having them analyzed or quoted. My life goal is to write a song or an album that someone uses to help get them through a hard time in their life. The Strokes entire discography did this for me.

Where do you find inspiration to play?

Inspiration comes to me all of the time. In my sleep, in every waking second I spend, even as I type this I am taking periodic breaks writing and composing new music. I love hearing new sounds, harmonies, but most importantly, a full piece of music. I love hearing how each instrument or rhythm compliments each other. In all styles of music, I love the storytelling capabilities, I love everything about it.

What is Stella Nova? How did it come to be?

Stella Nøva is a product of my old best friend Jordan and I’s culmination of sounds over the years. It started in 2013 when we formed our first band “Grand Central”. This was a mix of 2 guitars, 4 vocalists, 1 rapper, A drummer, one trumpet, one alto saxophone, and a bassist. This was our 9 piece Jazz/Classical ensemble that performed pieces written by me, including Jazz tunes, classical arias, and excerpts from symphonies I had started work on. That evolved into a sort of trio lineup in early 2015 as most of the members left to form their own projects, or gone to college. Our new lineup was more of a garage Rock/Funk mix with a drummer, bassist, and me playing guitar and singing. Once again I was the sole writer for everything and all parts. Later in the year our bassist (my old best friend) learned enough about the bass to write his own parts. I left in the summer for school and our band was on hiatus.

When I returned this February, I came back depressed because of school and a year long relationship that had just ended, and I had lost my job and therefore my house in Boston also. When I arrived back home I decided to get the band back together and become more serious about my writing. We renamed ourselves “Stella Nøva” (The ø represents a planet with rings on it’s axis because I am a huge space nerd, “Stella Nova” in latin means “New Star” so it was sort of our new flame.) We added another guitar to our mix again but we had trouble securing a drummer, so this whole year we have been cycling through drummers in all the performances we’ve done. In June and July my best friend and I had a falling out, and the other guitarist was too stressed with work and depression that he had to quit the band. I was left alone.

Now Stella Nøva is just me. It’s going to stay that way now because everyone I’ve ever cared about has left me, or not gone on this ride with me. It sucks, but I know that I can do this. I know I have something to offer, I’m more than just a singer or songwriter. I have so many ideas and musical abilities. I can write anything that I am given, I’ve written solo guitar/bass/drum solos. I’ve written duets for voice, Doo Wop tunes, classical symphonies, arias, concertos, suites, anything jazz you can imagine, Metal songs, Country songs. I make beats, I rap, I am a slam poet, I’ve written for as many as 22 and anything that I am challenged with I can create.

What kind of music do you create?

As stated before I create anything that I can I set my mind to. But for Stella Nova I create an effective mix of trap and indie music. I am heavily influenced by The Strokes. and TheAarctic Monkeys. while also taking advice from the Beatles’, Queen, and Led Zeppelin discographies, but dancing and getting down to Lil Yachty, Desiigner, Drake and others. I wanted to create music that would appeal to almost every audience. Which is what the album is, and it’s why I need to fund my kick starter and make it, every song on it stands out and compliments the others, they all tell one united story. I don’t create this music by using electronic drums and rapping over guitar riffs or anything like that. Rather I look at everything on a musical level and figure out a way to apply it using whatever instrumentation I am given. In this case I am given 2 guitars, a bass, drums, and up top 4 different vocal parts. For example, the “Old School Radio” drum beat is an altered version of the “Minnesota Remix” beat from Lil Yachty. But I am not using trap background ambience or electronic drums or ad libs or anything, instead I looked at what the beat looks like on sheet music (downbeat on 1, upbeat on 3, altered upbeats on 2 and 4) and filled in the rest with what I thought would fit the song most. I apply this principal to all music I write in Stella Nova.

Can you describe “Old School Radio”?

“Old School Radio” is the 10th track on my debut album “The Party” and the song by itself describes the struggles of a long term [and] long distance relationship. I wanted to give it a happy and upbeat feel ( running bass line, major chord emphasis, dance trap drum beat) but fill it with melancholy lyrics. The first line “I said girl I’m yours to keep, but the separation from your love is killing me, so I keep sip sipping on that syrup like it’s tea/ you know I can’t wait ’till the day, autumn symphony” describes me explaining that I am hers. It’s just hard, and I use drugs (Lean, cough syrup) to forget and numb my pain. Then bringing it back with “I can’t wait ’till the day’ meaning waiting until the day we see each other again. I follow the Strokes’ example in “Someday” and “Hey Ya” by Outkast to showcase the upbeat music but sad lyrics. I love writing songs that mean more than what they seem on the surface, another song of mine “Color in Black and White” explains this principle on a broader level. I also play all of the instruments and have written all of the parts.

What are your songs about and who are they for?

Well, my songs are about a lot of things. A lot of the music I write these days is to deliver a commentary on the state of the world today, and then some songs are purely for the rhythms and danciness of it all. Others are more personal and tell a story I heard or want to tell. For Stella Nova however, I have come up with what I hope will start a revolution in the evolution of musical storytelling. I am a huge nerd, I love astronomy, superheroes, comics, video games and anything else you can think of. I say this because I watch a lot of Marvel movies, and a lot of film in general. One thing I think was a beautiful evolution was the Marvel cinematic universe [because] marvel created a whole alternate universe and world alongside ours. I mean star wars did this too, [and] so does everything else, but not the way marvel does it. Marvel made some movies (Iron man, Hulk) and decided to make more like Captain America and Thor. They all met in one huge mega successful movie The Avengers and the story continues on.

I loved this so much I decided to take the idea and apply it to music. I want to make this album, and this album will tell a story, but there will be supplemental material following it. Comics, graphic novels, short films, continuous music videos and more will expand the lore of the world and the story I am trying to tell. The album itself tells the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love at a party, but the girl is in an abusive relationship and is being held back by her abuser, and the boy is stuck in drug and alcohol addiction which he uses to numb himself from the pains and sorrows of everyday living. But the story is the tale of them finding each other and healing each other and teaching each other lessons and self worth that they need to continue living their lives and not become so self destructive, The moral of the story is that they end up splitting up, but they need to get out there and love again, no matter how bad something is, never ever give up on it, or the idea, always fight for what you believe in, no matter the cost, or past mistakes you’ve made.

What makes you different as a musician from the others out there?

There are varying levels of musicians out there, some being your everyday musician who just play music for the hell of it, there are those who are professionals who do it for money. Then there are those who I can never compare to, who put their personal tales, and hearts, and feelings, and souls into their songs. The musicians who scream, cry, smile, make you feel their pain in the music. I don’t know where I fall to tell you the truth, sure I can do a lot of playing and I know a lot of music theory, but I’ve seen 10 year olds play better than I ever could, I’ve seen 65 year olds write songs about their entire lives, I’ve seen people my same age do what I can and more, or do what I can and a little less. In truth I think what really sets me apart is that I have a story to tell, not just personal, not only from what I see, not only from what I’ve done, but I have a whole universe in my head, and I want to share it with the world.

How do you plan to progress as a musician?

I am going to keep practicing, and writing, and performing. When I practice, I practice hard. I never stop listening to other music, there are so many ideas and sounds out there that I love to learn, analyze and figure out how they work. I am just in love with music and the study of sound in general. Books like The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel about the first contact with an alien species being through music is my daily dream. I constantly write and rewrite my songs to make them more honest, more fitting, more able to get what I’m trying to say out there. If I am unsuccessful in my campaign, I will never stop working to achieve what I want. I need to get my family out of this pain and this sorrow. My music I believe, will take us there.

What advice do you have for others who are facing adversity?

Never stop dreaming. Never stop fighting. Focus on yourself, help those you care about, and most importantly of all have faith in yourself, and love yourself.

Check out his Kickstarter Campaign here


Pop Cautious the Man, EP, and Label Movement

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Seabrook. Kemah Bay and Clear Lake were the two bodies of water I grew up fishing and sailing. The Bay empties to the Gulf of Mexico. Lots of Texas blues, country and reggae music in the area.

What did you like most about growing up there?

I enjoyed growing up in a nice neighborhood that is full of trees and surrounded by water. Never too many people around and the land is real spread out. It’s just the overall energy and inspiration of the lifestyle and environment.

What sparked your interest in music?

As funny as it seems, my grandma playing hymns on an old upright she gave my mother was the first glimpse at live music for me and it made me want to learn how to play piano.

Over time, I jumped from piano to drums, drums to guitar, guitar to vocals, etc. Started writing songs and eventually picked up the mandolin. Huge snowball effect driven by this inner necessity to learn as many instruments and as much about music as possible.

How did you first step into the realm of professional music?

After a couple years at piano lessons, I was hired on to play with the church band. It wouldn’t be long after that, that I went go on to form my own band with friends and siblings that ended up winning the Greater Houston Area Battle of The Bands and earned us some free studio time to make a record and tour regionally throughout Texas.

Which genre of music is your specialty?

I’d say I’ve spent the most time with rock music, but never write in just one style.

What is Pop Cautious?

The story of how I came up with the term “Pop Cautious” is kind of funny.
I was traveling North, through California, with a group of friends and we decided to stop
in Yosemite. The entrance was snowed in and we couldn’t enter the park. We also didn’t have a lot of money and the hotels had no vacancy. We decided to setup camp right outside park grounds, mountain side, in what happened to also be a “Bear Zone”.

It was lightly snowing and we passed a bottle of Jack around while taking turns keeping watch. I fell asleep a little too close to the fire and an ember popped into my face and burned my forehead. It woke me up and gave me a good scare and I looked up to my friends laughing, asking “what happened?” . One of them told me, “an ember ‘popped’ into your face.” I then proclaimed, “Well, I guess you gotta be ‘Pop Cautious’!'”

The next day we laughed about it and another friend reminded me of what I had said.It stuck with me and I ended up using it in a school project for the name of a mock-business I was to create. I chose to build business plans for a record label. I named it Pop Cautious and at the time I was in this business class I was also just starting to write parts and perform mandolin with a folk ensemble called Seneca and The River.

The self-titled ep
The self-titled ep

We won an artist development competition at Musicians Institute and I decided to actually turn my mock-business into a real one. Seneca and The River was my first signee.

Somehow when my friends heard of me starting this record label, they started to just refer to me personally as “Pop Cautious”. I jokingly changed my Facebook name to the moniker. Some people took it seriously and I just kind of rolled with it. I never actually planned for it to become my artist name, it just did. Some of the press that I was getting from my company launch party was naming my band “Pop Cautious” and I realized the confusion.

I said, well, let’s just make this an all encompassing ominous type of thing that will ultimately be unique and may help with brand recognition.

That’s where I’m at- going with the flow. So far, people seem to dig the name and think it’s interesting that I have this underlying trinity theme of artist/band/label.

How did the label get started? What challenges did you face?

It all kind of unfolded as I was still learning and in school. There was a lot of trial and error and just learning by doing. The toughest part is initially acquiring the resources while building something unique. A lot of money and time goes into creating music and putting it out there before becoming established and generating steady income streams. Selling music is not like selling medicine or food.

What does it feel like to have your own music label?

I feel proud, nervous, overwhelmed and excited all at once. Constantly. There’s been many setbacks and it hasn’t come easy. But, nothing great comes easy. Every time “throwing in the towel” crosses my mind, something good will happen. Extremely blessed and grateful.

How do you go about finding artists? What do they have to do to work with you?

It is very much a hand selected bunch. There isn’t really one method of finding new music that I like or finding a band I want to work with. I’ll discover new talent when out on the town watching performances at various venues and also get lots of emails from bands all over the world.

Right now, I’m working as more than just a label. I really am hands on with writing, developing, producing, publishing, promoting a lot of my artists.

I prefer my talent to live in LA. Recently have considered branching out, but it’s best to take on a handful of local artists that I can grow with and actually manage.

If an artist really likes the community we are building and wants to be a part of it, or simply wants some feedback, Pop Cautious Records is a member of Submit Hub. There you have an option to submit music to labels.

Pop Cautious himself is the head of the company, music, and direction
Pop Cautious himself is the head of the company, music, and direction

What was your inspiration behind the Pop Cautious ep?

A girl I fell in love with broke my heart and I started to write about it. We split up for about 4 or 5 months. I kind of hoped she would hear the music and maybe we could forgive each other and move on. She did hear and we are now back together.

Interwoven in the lyrics there are some political messages concerning topics I feel strongly about and have directly affected my life.

What was the recording process like?

Lots of driving Lyft to save up money in between recording sessions. It wasn’t easy to get this record completed and out there for a few reasons. One thing is the distance of the studio from where I live. That however made it feel worth it. Earning the money to pay for studio time and making the drive out there.

All the while, trying to make rent, pay bills and fund 5 other artists.

Some of the vocals on “Blue Dream” and and “Miss Your Face” were done in the comfort of my studio apartment in the Toluca Hills.

It’s nice to be playing a style of music where sometimes home studio quality recording actually will pass and is sometimes even preferred. “California” was recorded in one take straight to tape. I wanted that song to be raw and more about the emotion than the production. I didn’t have a lot of time or money making this EP, but it feels good. I’m happy with the music and think that over producing these songs would have been a mistake.

Which songs from the project are your favorite and why?

They all are very close to me, but “Blue Dream” got me my first radio play. It reminds me of the music I played growing up and is fun to perform.

“California” is also very personal. It’s the one folk song of the bunch and it’s acoustic only. I seem to really “feel” that track more than the others.

Where can people hear/buy your music?

Pop Cautious (Self-titled EP) : YouTube

Facebook: Pop Cautious Music

Label Facebook: Pop Cautious Records

Soundcloud: Pop Cautious Records

Website: Pop Cautious Music

Label site: Pop Cautious Records

What’s the future for Pop Cautious moving forward?

Pop Cautious Records has plans to expand and add on departments that specialize in specific aspects of the industry. We have a compilation in the making of various artists and a couple more records coming out this year. Saving to release some vinyl next year. Looking to potentially sign a couple more artists and focusing on getting some TV/film placements.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are building a brand?

Don’t wait until you feel like you are all completely ready. Plan, of course, but don’t let fear hold you back from starting, asking questions, and growing.

Why do you think it’s important for people to follow their dreams?

It is the ultimate route to true happiness. Not having the regret of looking back and saying “I wish I had done this” is priceless.

It’s important to inspire. To really feel alive. To do things your way.

Here’s a link to his new video “Blue Dream

The Jersey Boy Headed to Stardom, aReJay Ella

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where we’re you born and raised?

I was born in Long Island, NY, but raised in Bergenfield, New Jersey!
What are some of your best memories from growing up there?

The Bergenfield Music Department played a huge role in my life. It helped shape who I am today and definitely kept me out of trouble while growing up. It also gave me something to look forward to during the school year.
What initiated your interest in music?

I started playing violin in elementary school but I found it difficult to read notes so I spent time listening to the classical station learning the melody lines of whatever I could pick up. Once I was able to play more than just 8 different variations of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” it all went uphill from there. Oh, and Nsync of course.
When did you start singing?

I started singing when I was a lot younger, probably at the age of 9. I mostly sang at family parties but at the time I didn’t think any much of it. After years of playing violin, I started teaching myself how to play guitar and joined my first band in high school (Infusion4). There I started to sing a bit more and it was with that band I sang for the first time in front of a crowd other than my family. After hearing the positive feedback, I added it to my “things to improve on” list. This led me to writing my own music and performing solo once I was a lot more comfortable with my voice.
What type of music do you create?

My music is on the Indie/Acoustic/Alternative side of things. I guess you can say my sound is a mixture of Death Cab For Cutie, City & Colour and John Mayer all into one. I try to write music that people can connect to right away.
Do you write your songs?

What does your creation process involve?

Haha, a lot of over thinking. Usually when I’m writing a song it happens during the times my mind is on overdrive and everything just flows. It’s almost effortless. Don’t get me wrong; there are some instances where I would spend months on a song before actually finishing it. That actually happened to one song, “PENUMBRA” off my latest EP. I just didn’t know where it was going and any time I tried finishing it. I always found myself blanking out.
You released your third studio album SOMNIUM earlier this year. Could you tell us a bit about that?

Putting together this album was for those that have been there from when I first started as a solo artist. This album is a lot closer to my roots. It carries my classical background and is more on the acoustic side. It’s organic and doesn’t have too much going on.
How does your latest album differ from the previous two? 

I wouldn’t say it differs because SOMNIUM still carries that same vibe as the other two. I would say that this album is a more polished version of aReJay Ella: a definition of who I am when it comes to sound.
What was the recording process for SOMNIUM like?

The process is always both exciting and hectic in itself. I flew out to San Diego, California to work with [my] producer and friend, Jesse Barrera. I recorded my first album with him back in 2011 and the best part about flying out there is the amount of knowledge I came out with in the end. I always come back a different artist than I was when I first walk in. It’s always refreshing. Recording SOMNIUM was rather quick though. The day I landed in San Diego, we started scratch tracks for guitars and vocals that same day. Then a week later the record was done and ready to be mixed down. I was more than prepared this time around. I not only had all the songs written before hand but also knew where I wanted to go with each song when it came to the arrangements.
The hectic part was raising the funds for the record, promotional material, and printing CDs. Luckily I have been through this before so the stress wasn’t as bad. But being a solo artist for 5 years, raising money was always the hardest part. Thanks to crowd funding websites such as Kickstarter, it has helped me release not only SOMNIUM but also the two albums before it. I also can’t forget my family, closest of friends, and everyone else that comes out to shows to support.
Where can people hear/buy your music?

You can buy and listen to my music on all online platforms such as iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify.

What are your plans for the future?

Perform, release more records and travel with my music.
What advice do you have for aspiring singers?

This goes to all artists and bands in general…, never stop working on your craft. Always be true to yourself and your music. Stay humble and put 120% effort into everything you create. Never limit your creativity.
Why do you think it’s important for people to follow their dreams?

We’re only given one chance to live and while we’re alive we might as well follow whatever dream we have. Dreams are only inaccessible once we start limiting our own abilities.

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE