Becca Roth, Becoming Who She’s Meant to Be

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

I grew up in Sellersville, Pennsylvania! It was a great place to grow up, but I always felt too adventurous to stay there. I always felt like a city girl stuck in a small town growing up. But I didn’t realize I felt that way until I moved to Boston for college. Now, I’ve been living in Los Angeles for the past two years.

What did you want to become as a child and why?

I always wanted to sing. I can’t think of any other reason a person would pursue music other than because they love it more than anything in the world, and that’s how I feel.

What generated your interest in music?

I grew up singing in Church and watching Disney movies on repeat.

When did you discover you could sing?

I think I just always loved singing and to this day, I sing everywhere I go (ask my friends)! I probably received some encouragement from people in my life at a young age that made me believe I had something, but I don’t think I really became a qualified singer until I studied voice in college.

Why do you sing?

I find that I am able to express myself through song better than any other way.

Could you briefly explain your creative process?

It usually starts with one or two chords on the guitar, or maybe a motif. Then I normally start blurting out random words, phrases, and melodies that come to my mind until something clicks. I scribble all of my ideas onto one page, and then organize them into form on another page. The best songs always come when I least expect it, in the middle of the night, or early in the morning when I’m not really trying.

What type of songs do you create? What kind of feel do they have?

Recently I’ve been hanging out musically in the folk/pop world. My upcoming EP is very organic and raw sounding with a full band however, I am looking forward to diving into other genres in the future.

Could you tell us about your upcoming project and it’s single “I’m not yours”?

“I’m Not Yours” is about a woman who doesn’t want to feel tied down in a relationship. She’s a wild woman. To be honest I think I wrote it about myself. The song was released on Friday, September 2nd and is now available everywhere including Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music..etc.

How did you establish your relationship with your label Pop Cautious? What has it been like working with them?

Pop Cautious Records is an LA based indie label founded by Tyler Porterfield. He actually discovered me at a small bar show I played last year. We got connected and started trying to collaborate while I was already in the midst of finishing my upcoming EP. Working with him has been great because he truly believes in me as an artist and is an incredible business man, and friend.

What makes you unique as a musician? Why should people listen to you?

I think I am blatantly honest in my singing and in my songwriting, and people will either love it or not. I would describe my sound as soft but edgy, feminine, and storytelling.

What advice do you have for aspiring singers?

I’ve never asked anyone if I should sing or write my songs, I always just did it because I felt compelled to do it. My advice to aspiring singers is to not make any excuses, hone your craft, and network like crazy.

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

Because following your dreams will transform you into the person you’ve always wanted to become. You will have to take risks, and make difficult decisions, and leave the people you love behind, and in return you will find yourself. Nothing is more valuable than that.

Follow Becca on:

Facebook: BeccaRothMusic
Twitter: @beccarothsongs
Instagram: @beccarothmusic
Soundcloud: Becca Roth

Carrie Lane’s Coming Your Way

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where were you born and raised? What was it like growing up there?

My name is Carrie Lane, I was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey, which is just outside of New York City. I had a very traditional childhood, two parents that worked full-time, two brothers who played sports, and a dog. A lot of people where I grew up were business people who worked in the city and then retired to the suburbs to have families. I was surrounded by a lot of successful people in terms of traditional careers that definitely wanted me to follow in their footsteps.

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

I wanted to be an actress growing up specifically [in] musical theatre. I got heavily involved in theatre as early as four and was involved in many successful companies and productions throughout my adolesence. My family didn’t really know a lot about the business as my father is a lawyer and my mother works in healthcare. Both of my brothers enjoyed math and science and played sports, and I was just this third child who came out of no where like, “Hi mom and dad! I want to be a star!”

What generated your interest in music?

I always loved music growing up in a musical theatre world. It wasn’t until I was about 18 and moved out of my house into New York City where I kind of fell apart that I truly fell in love with music. Writing lyrics and poetry became my outlet at that time in my life, music saved me.

When and how did you discover you had musical talent?

When I came home from my first day of theatre camp in 1999 I had memorized my song, “Never, Never Land” as Wendy from Peter Pan before my parents had come home from work. They kind of just looked at me and were like, “Hmmm, you’re different aren’t you?”

Did you start by singing or songwriting or something else?

Haha, I feel like I’m being redundant if I answer this question!

What made you decide to pursue music professionally?

I decided to pursue music professionally after I started writing back in 2012. I began taking vocal lessons again full time and started investing myself in an artist development program.

What kind of music do you create?

I have created a lot of kinds of music so far in my career. A wide range from Dance Pop to Indie Folk to where I am now. My new sound is kind of a mix of everything. Think if Lana Del Rey, Santigold, and No Doubt had a baby.

How long have you been a professional musician?

Four years.

Do you write all of your music?

I am definitely a part of the writing process on all of the work that I have released. However, I think cowriting is a huge part of the process and collaborating on creative projects is one of my favorite parts of the music industry. My upcoming project was cowritten with Pat Mencel (Bel Heir) and ROZES.

Could you briefly explain your creation process?

Every project has been a little different from me. The thing about working with a lot of creative people is that someone is always passionate about something, whether it be a melody, a lyric, a vibe, a guitar line- whatever. We take whatever someone is passionate about at that moment and build off of that.

Where do you receive inspiration from?

Life. That’s really the only place I know how to draw inspiration from. As I’ve grown however, I’ve learned that life isn’t always great and sometimes it’s actually more fun to write about the stuff that sucks as a form of release.

Where can people find your music?

My new EP will be debuting later this fall, with the release of my single and a brand new music video. Unfortunately, at this time, that’s all I can share with you!

What do you like most about creating music and singing?

I love that it’s something I love. My biggest fear in life is not being passionate about something. I have a lot of friends that struggle with the fact that they’re not happy with what they’re doing and at the same time they don’t know what it is they want to be doing. I am so fortunate in the fact that I know what it is I want to be doing, that is such a blessing. The fact that it’s not always easy does not deter me, it actually inspires me because so few people get to actually do what I am doing.

You’re also a model. Could you tell us a bit about that?

Sure! I signed with MSA Models in New York when I was 18 and it really helped in terms of getting contacts for my music. There is such an element of visuals that have been introduced to music since MTV became a thing, and visuals keep getting stronger and stronger, so modeling as truly been an asset to me. Earlier this year I signed to MSA out in LA, as well. I’ve been working bicoastal since then.

Do you have any upcoming projects or tours you’d like to mention?

This new EP is gonna be my heart and soul. I’ve been working on it low key for a while now and I’m super excited to share it with everyone. You can follow me and keep in touch with what I’m doing via social media to catch release dates at:


What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?

My motto has always been hard work smart work. It is important to work hard, but at the same time work hard at a specific goal. Too many musicians spread themselves too thin and try to be a million things, rather than be the one thing that they are truly aspiring to be. Find your sound, find who you are and then focus your energy towards that vision.

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

Make the voice in your head the loudest. There are going to be a million people with a million opinions coming at you from many different angles. It is important that you stay strong and true to who you are and use your own goals as your compass towards success. Cheers! Xo

Get Things Moving with AJ Afterparty

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

I spent most of my life in the Bay Area, California. I was raised in San Jose and then moved to the east bay right before high school. I hated it. It was such a drastic change in people and environment. I attended a very upscale middle school, and when my parents bought a house I had to move to a lower income part of the bay area. But over time I ended up being thankful for the move.

What did you like about growing up there?

Like Los Angeles, where i live now, the Bay Area is very diverse. I grew up during the flourishing Silicon Valley so there were a lot of different cultures and people.

What sparked your interest in music?

I was in the third grade when I started discovering music, one of the first Cd’s I heard and fell in love with was The Sign by Ace of Base, my favorite track from that album was the second one “Dont Turn Around.” I would also make a ton of mixtapes recording songs that I liked from the radio. My uncles were also a big part of my musical upbringing. They introduced me to Pink Floyd, Korn, No Doubt, [and] Bush.

When did you decide to pursue music professionally?

While in my senior year of high school, I started cutting my last class of the day to go work at a company that produced small metal parts for missiles and hi-tech military equipment. My uncle got me a job there. It was great at first because i started being able to buy myself musical gear, but it got old quick. It was such a slave job. After working there for around two years I decided to go to school for audio engineering because I got scared straight of being miserable at work everyday like most people. I loved music and couldn’t picture doing anything else with my life.

What type of music have you produced?

Started off recording Metal and Rock bands. I got really good at producing tight punchy drums because of it. Most of the genres I produce are EDM, Pop, and Hip Hop and all of the hybrids of those genres. I kind of want to attempt a country project though just to say that I have.

Are there any artists you’ve worked with that you’d like to mention?

Currently working on an EP for a new artist by the name of Junius. We’re creating some really interesting hybrid pop that I’m excited to share. Also some others that I cant wait to start new projects with Brooke Tomlinson, Danny Jay (Terry got Fired), Allison Victoria (AV Songs); my homeslices Jerry Lang, Noah Kickback, [and] Ozie Darkstaar. I could go on.

Do you have any upcoming shows or projects?

AJ is always on top of his craft. He's worked with other well-known producers like Skyler lexx.
AJ is always on top of his craft. He’s worked with other well-known producers like Skyler lexx.

I havent DJ’d live in a while, I miss it. As far as projects I’m going to be working on an album of trailer music. Very epic orchestrated stuff with electronic elements. I don’t have a lot of experience in that space so i’m a little intimidated hehe. But we’re gonna rock it with all we got.

Where can people check out your music?

Everywhere. YouTube, Spotify, Itunes, Soundcloud…just type in “AJ AFTERPARTY.” I currently checked my Spotify plays and I have about 10k monthly listeners. I was totally shocked and excited about that. I also make some tutorials for music production on my YouTube as well so be sure to subscribe to that!

What are some of the trends you see going on in the music scene today?

The rise of the vocal sample warping and chopping. It seems like everyone is really jumping on that bandwagon. I remember the first time I heard that was in the song “Pon de Floor” by Major Lazer in 2009.

What do you enjoy most about being a producer?

Definitely, hands down and absolutely being my own boss. I don’t have to answer to anyone except my clients as well as being creative. My profession involves both things I love the most: music and technology.

Is there any advice you could share with aspiring producers? Is there anything you’d warn them about?

I would say to really just keep producing music, collaborate (with people better than you), watch tutorials or attend some sort of training. Just jump right in. To be successful at music, it needs to be your obsession. Secondly, learn the business side of the industry, have a business mentality and a strong work ethic. Skip out on the partying for now; you can party when your name is in lights. I’d warn them about people who try to get free production in return for “opportunities/exposure.” Don’t lift a finger unless you’re getting paid. The people who respect you will stick around and the people who want to use you for their personal gain will not. One thing that angers me the most is when artists say they have “no budget.” Aint nobody got time for that! Mention that to your mechanic when your car breaks down. See how well that goes haha.

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

It’s how you escape the matrix. To follow your dreams is to have a taste of freedom. It’s you choosing not to play by the rules. I really believe in the power of the mind and being able to manifest what you put your thoughts toward. Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

Desire to Inspire with Night Lights

Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where were you born and raised? What was it like growing up there?

“I was born in Mexico City and partially raised there. I was also raised in Williamsburg, VA. I lived in VA for 6 years (from 6-12 years of age). The rest of my life has been in Mexico. It was great! It offered a lot of cultural contrast for me. Especially when I got to move back to Mexico from VA. Learning everything again in Spanish, getting used to a different school dynamic, different interests, pursuits, values, different after school activities. It made things very interesting and put things in perspective.” -Mau

“I was born in Japan and was raised both in the USA and Japan. My dad is a Buddhist sculptor and my mom has a degree in art but she is a psychologist. I grew up around art, literally. There were heads of Greek sculpture and other sculptures all around the house. Growing up in Japan was awesome. It is so safe that I could go explore by my self at a young age. I remember it being very peaceful.”-Yusuke

“I was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. I guess it was more or less what you’d imagine a pretty typical American childhood to be. We moved a few times when I was younger but grew up mostly in one suburb, went to public schools, and was really involved in bands and theater from the age of 10. I suppose the fairly frequent beach trips and adventures Disneyland are unique to LA.”-Jeff

“So I was born in a fairly small city called Alesund on the west coast of Norway. It’s amazingly beautiful to say the least. I lived in the same house till I moved out of home at 19. Growing up there was great! Would build huts in the forrest behind our house and all that classic stuff. Got to live some of that pre-smart phone and gaming age haha.”-Dag

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

“I wanted to be an inventor. I was really in to legos growing up and I always thought I’d invent something to help humanity. Never thought it would be music I’d be inventing, hahaha.”-Mau

What sparked your interest in music? What do you like about it?

“Well, for me I think growing up going to church and having that experience with live music every week definitely was a big part of that. I would study and look up to my older cousin that played the drums. Eventually he let me borrow his old kit, and I got started playing. I love the fact music brings all kinds of people together and It speaks to people on a level beyond just the words themselves.”-Dag

When and why did you decide to become a musician?

“I honestly would not be able to tell you one reason why I picked up the guitar. I was born into a very liberal creative family. My mom is a artist/psychologist and my dad a Buddhist sculptor. There was no question that I would eventually pursue something in the creative field. The question was which one. I spent a part of my childhood in Seattle and it rains a lot there. So my friends and I would go in the basement and jam until it stopped raining. That would be my guess of how I picked up the guitar.”-Yusuke

How did you develop the name Night Lights? What does the name mean to you?
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“Night Lights comes from an aspiration we all shared to become better people. We desire to inspire, encourage, influence, and learn from the people we come across. The thing we know best is music, so we’re hoping that music is a stepping stone into making a difference. The dream is to shine a light on all the dark places of the soul in hopes to re-name the ugly stuff and hopefully learn to accept and nurture all that stuff for one another that we can overcome all that stuff together.”-Mau

When did you guys meet and how did the band form?

“We met in Boston a few years back now. Actually my first week in College, just after moving to Boston from Norway. Yusuke was the first person I met straight out of the airport actually, kinda wild when you think about it.. Mau, Jeff, and I started jamming after talking about our ideas of starting a band, and this eventually led to what is currently known as Night Lights. We had another good friend aboard on guitar when Yusuke joined us, and were a 5-piece for a while. So I tell people we we were friends first and then the band thing kinda happened.”-Dag

What kind of music do you create?

“We’re all influenced by a lot of rock and alternative music, so the music we create is often aligned with that style. We also love funk and soul music, and want to enable people to dance at our shows too if they want. Our lyrics have an emotional depth to them too, though, so I think the specific flavor of “indie rock” we create could be called something like introspective groovy dance rock.”-Jeff

How is your band different from the multiple others out there?

“I think the most obvious thing that makes our band different from others is that we are a very diverse bunch. The singer is from Mexico, drummer from Norway, bassist from the USA, and I am from Japan. I think it’s awesome that our love for music unified us despite the difference in our upbringing and race.”-YUSUKE

What do you like most about singing (or playing your instrument)?

– “I think its such a free form of expression. I grew up with a bad case of ADHD (feels like everyones got ADD now-a-days, but this was before all that stuff was so common). I honestly don’t remember much of that. I think it has to do with the lack of attention, but I do remember having a really hard time being understood. There was so much frustration. Singing changed the game for me. I felt understood. Even when the words I put together didn’t make sense to people. Somehow my voice cut through to people. I like feeling connected to people like that.”-Mau

Can you describe your creative process? How do your ideas come together? Does everyone have equal say in what goes in a song and doesn’t?

“For a few years, our creative process was really straightforward. We almost always started by jamming on a musical idea in rehearsal, sculpting a form and dynamics out of that and adding lyrics and melody last. More recently, we’ve tried to push ourselves out of that mold. We still right in rehearsals but are also exploring other processes like writing from a lyrical concept first or starting with a track produced on a laptop. We all contribute fairly equally to the final product, but Mau is far and away the primary lyric/melody writer.”-Jeff

Have you dropped any projects that you’d like to mention?

“We recently dropped our second EP “Expectations” ! I think it shows growth from our first EP. It showcases our growth as musicians but also our growth in life.”-Yusuke

Do you have any upcoming projects or shows that you’d like to speak about?

“Yea, we do have some more music we’re releasing in not so long. Aside from that we have a couple shows coming up here in LA. We’re playing at Saturday Nights in Pasadena on August 27th and at the Resident October 20th.”-Dag

Where can people hear/purchase your music?

“You can check out all of our music on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and the like. For hard copies of our EPs, is the place to go!”-Jeff

What are your future goals as a band? How do you plan to move forward?

“There’s definitely many of those! One goal would be to reach even more people with our music, and keep making music that people can connect with. I think looking at future moving forward we need to get on the road both here in the states and internationally. Actually next year it looks like we might go to Norway so that will be awesome. We also want to have an impact on local communities in practical ways that goes beyond just playing music, so kinda figuring out what that can look like.”-Dag

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians (singers, songwriters, guitarists, drummers, etc.)?

“When gathering your inspirations, try and keep an open mind and steal from so many people you admire, that you discover yourself. Don’t play what others have played and don’t write what others have written. When you write like you, the songs become a marriage between the words and the music and they will be unique to you. They aren’t as powerful without each other.”

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

“I think following your dream is the most important thing you can do. It can be something that gives you purpose in life and that can lift your spirit. But when a kid starts to pursue their dreams they learn the discipline and the reward of working hard. Which I think is a lesson that leads to a fulfilling life.”-Yusuke

Wind Energy and James Parle’s Muir Data

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

Much of my childhood was spent in a small town two hours south east of Los Angeles. The town didn’t have a traffic light and initially there wasn’t a high school. Now, I barely recognize the area because tract homes and traffic have taken over.

I was first exposed to urban life while attending USC and then went on to get a Master’s in mechanical engineering from Stanford. For the next five years I worked in aerospace, and at a Bay Area wind energy start-up. After that I went back to school for an MBA is sustainable business. During the second half of my MBA, I started the wind energy software company, Muir Data Systems (MDS).

What was it like growing up there?

Growing up in the Inland Empire was an adventure. It was a mix of rural country living and thug life. My high school had numerous gang problems and racial tension was very real. The high school was one third African American, one third Hispanic, and one third Other. As a member of the Other group, I was often called “White Boy” and had to watch my back because I was not a member of a gang. Going from a rough high school experience to the country club atmosphere of Stanford was eye opening.

As a child, what did you want to become as an adult?

I always had a passion for building things as a child and still do today. As a child I spent countless hours building Legos and forts. As a young adult, I spent my time learning to work on houses, cars, and computers. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to become, but I had an inkling that it involved starting with very little and trying to create something useful.

What generated your interest in energy?

It happened at some point during undergrad. I was involved in research projects relating to wind, and I started thinking about the profound human relationship with energy systems. For those born during the last 150 years, the peak of the industrial revolution, we have no idea how to obtain our own food or create our own medicine. It has been said that our high level of technology dependence is a form captivity because we can’t live without it. Energy is a complicated space with questions such as: Who controls the energy? What are the long term impacts of energy dependence? What happens when we run out of fossil fuels? Are we happy living in our high energy society? These are some of humanities biggest challenges and I find the topic fascinating.

What is Muir Data? What does it do?

MDS is a software company that manages maintenance of wind energy systems. Think digital medical records meets wind farms.

Why does the world need Muir Data? What type of energy issues are present in today’s world?

We are experiencing unprecedented extreme temperature and weather events due to anthropogenic climate change. Predictions for the future are dire, particularly if we continue business as usual. Even if we could, we are likely to run out of readily available fossil fuels in the next century. We increasingly need clean energy to meet our ever growing demand. Wind energy helps address these issues, so it’s little wonder that it has been growing globally by 20% annually. Wind is an important player because it’s sustainable, clean, and cheap. It will need to be even cheaper in order to displace additional fossil fuels. That’s where MDS comes in. Daily operations in wind energy are not optimized. MDS increases efficiency, and through sophisticated analytics, identifies areas for cost savings. Reduced cost will encourage adoption of renewable energy.

What was your inspiration behind creating your company?

I wanted to create a company with positive and impactful company culture while reducing the total cost of wind energy.

What work has your company done so far?

MDS has been around for about three years. The initial product has been sold to a number of wind customers. We are now expanding our feature set to access a larger customer base. We are seeking software developers who have a passion for mobile, web, and renewable energy.

What are some of your future goals?

In the near term I’d like to expand MDS while staying true to the original reasons for founding the company. Another challenge that interests me is how we are going to adapt to the changed climate in the future. In the long run, I’d like to contribute to that problem as well.

Is there any advice you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or individuals interested in the energy sector?

Start companies that matter. I’d like to see more of society’s brightest individuals solving big problems not just making big money.

I see a world full of real and pressing challenges. Zika, climate change, growing economic instability, political unrest, to name a few. These unwieldy issues need attention. It saddens me to see so many promising minds diverted away from the issues that matter in favor of the ones that are easy or pay well. I encourage entrepreneurs to ask themselves why they do what they do and whether it makes them feel fulfilled. I hope that we will see more people focusing their efforts outward, toward helping others, and making our world a better place.

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

If I actually followed my dreams, I might still be playing with Legos and building forts. As adults, the challenge is to create value in society while staying true to ourselves. Instead of forts, now I build companies that have a positive impact on the world. I think the key is not necessarily to hold fast to a single end goal, but instead to hold on to what matters to you, no matter what road blocks may come. Don’t let anything get in the way of finding true satisfaction in what you do. For me, that’s what helps carry me through the challenges that come with building something from nothing.

ReElise, a RPG Project from Justin Fox

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

I’m 33 years old (34 this month in August) and born in Lexington, KY, where I’ve lived my whole life.

What was it like growing up there?

Pretty peaceful…maybe a little too much Country music though. I’ll forgive that.

Here's  the creator,  Justin Fox
Here’s the creator, Justin Fox

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

[I] wanted to be a basketball player, [but] my older brother told me it was possible for us to make video games like we were playing. [I’ve been] sold ever since!

What generated your interest in gaming?

My older brother. His Christmas present was the original NES. Mario was cool, but Punch Out blew my mind. The characters, the size of the sprites, the challenge, the personality. It was those two games that changed our lives forever.

When and why did you decide to create a video game?

I was always impressed with the scope and scale of the RPG (Role Playing Genre) genre. Those were always the games that changed my life consistently. [The] Final Fantasy series, the Ys series, Xenogears, Grandia, and so many more just blew my face off. So, I decided to go into game making when RPGMaker for PS1 dropped in America in 2000. We didn’t own a computer that was capable of doing much of anything (I think we had the old terminal back then). So console was the only chance I had to make a game. I could not have been more excited for the opportunity. I remember it taking almost a month to get anything on the screen. I figured it out and 7 memory cards later I had my first game, Melee! (Video) simply because I’d always wanted to.

What is ReElise? What is it about?

An in-game screenshot of ReElise
An in-game screenshot of ReElise

ReElise is a Hip-Hop, 2D, Hand animated, Turn-based, mature Christian Role Playing Game. It’s about a young woman named Elise who has been through the horrors of human trafficking. She escapes with her fellow captive, best friend Lead, teams up with two mercenaries, and goes to find an item called the Judge’s Key, an item of legend said to destroy all evil in the world. Heaven help whoever gets in her way.

There is a faith element that surrounds the game. I wanted to see what God (El in this game) could do with a character this extreme. I wanted to show a narrative of hope in seemingly hopeless place. However, I didn’t want to preach to my audience. I wanted to weave the narrative in there as a story in this world, but if the player wanted to explore the Biblical themes I wanted to provide them with resources to do that in the form of a study guide.

What type of game is it? Who is it for?

It is a Turn-based role playing game (think Pokemon type battle system) with a lot of unique mechanics to spice things up a bit.

Transformations/Aura system has many enemies transforming or changing tactics to keep you on your toes. Different attacks work for different transformations so you’re not jamming on the “win” button.
The Emo System adds your emotions as a mechanic to gain the upper hand on enemies. Some choices you make before a battle can also affect your mood negatively or positively
Weapons are upgraded through a journey into the subconscious, which leads you to an intimate knowledge of each character.

This game is truly for anyone that loves these kinds of games. It’s not for children however, and it’s certainly not just for Christians. I haven’t preached my way into the game. It’s the player’s choice to engage in the study guide if you want to dig deeper into the Biblical themes of the game.

Are your working with a team? If so, note everyone and their responsibilities.

My wife, Lauren Fox, is the Art Director and monster designer of the game (see her portfolio here0. My homie, Andy Smith, is the sound designer (see his work here). These are the two that are directly involved but both do an amazing job!

Another screenshot from the game
Another screenshot from the game

What do you like most about working on ReElise?

Tough question…I think praying in the overall process. I know that sounds a bit spooky but, after prayer some stuff comes out that challenges myself. He subverts me artistically, and mentally about what’s “supposed” to work. This makes everything interesting.

How long have you been working on this project? When will it be completed?

I’ve been working on this for about four years now. It’ll be completed likely towards the end of 2017, but I’d love it to be sooner of course.

How can people purchase your game/support your project?

It’s not for sale right now, the main avenues of support are going to be the Kickstarter.

Also clicking the link to share the Thunderclap.

Funding the project and sharing it are big big deals and we’ll need all the help we can get for such a strange title.

What are your plans once ReElise is finished and released?

Onto the next one of course! A smaller project or two before I start the next big one.

What advice do you have for people who want to be video game designers?

Learn, and start small! Game design is not intuitive. Learn about design from books websites etc. A quick google search can inspire many things you’d like to try once you learn more about design. Also the smaller games give you a chance to explore mechanics and systems with little to no risk before you move onto the higher profile stuff. If I could do it over again, I’d start small.

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

Who wants to sit on their porch as an old man/woman (if you’re blessed to live that long) and say, “Man… I really should have done that, but now it’s too late.” That’s kinda horrifying to me.

Maxayn, a Musical Legend of Yesterday and Today

“I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” said Maxayn Lewis, legendary singer and vocal coach. She has sang with The Gap Band and worked with other icons such as The Bee Gees, Smokey Robinson and Celine Dion.

Maxayn’s humble beginnings were set in a time of racial oppression and discrimination. “[Tulsa] was a very divided city. Now, a lot of that has changed, but it is still a very red state.”Although she dreamed of becoming a doctor music was always part of her. The piano served as her formal introduction into playing music, yet Maxayn already knew how to sing at the age of six. She wowed the audience of a hometown fashion show by performing a Nat King Cole classic. “I sort of put myself on the show,” she explained. “I was supposed to be a model.”

Being a professional musician was not something she considered while performing throughout her youth:

“Seeing the Motown artists was really impressive to me because they didn’t look like the old guys. They looked beautiful. They performed really well. That gave people a different perspective or view on where you could go with this…That opened doors and possibilities for you to your own dream about what you wanted to do[then], but I still didn’t think I was going to do that. I thought I was gonna go do something much more conservative. Nothing happens in Oklahoma. It was just a regular life. Go to work. Go home.”

She left home to attend Oklahoma State University but did not enjoy the experience. “There was every level of discrimination and fascination.” Out of the 20,000 students there only 150 were Black (roughly) according to Maxayn. “It was quite experience for me coming from all black everything…I went to Black doctors, Black markets, Black pharmacies.” Racial tension and aggression caused her to return home and seek a historically Black university to attend. Before a school was chosen, the unimaginable occurred.

“I got a call from Ike and Tina Turner,” she said. What’s more unbelievable is that she hung up on them twice. “I thought it was my friends playing on the phone.” After realizing she was indeed speaking to the stars, wonderful opportunities manifested, and Maxayn went on a world tour with them. Later, she toured with Bobby Blue Bland. “The same day I met Donny Hathaway at a show in Chicago I also met Andre Lewis and Marlo Henderson.” They wanted her to be in their band and they were so adamant that she joined. “I made up my mind that I was gonna go with these crazy guys. That was the beginning of the Maxayn band.”

They lived together at a mansion in Boston and left periodically to perform around the country. During a trip to Florida, Maxayn was introduced to Luther Dickson, a well-known songwriter who wrote for Elvis, The Beatles, The Jackson 5, and more. Luther arranged a studio session for the band and fell in love with them. They recorded an album in New York before getting a residency gig in San Diego then inking a deal with Capricorn Records in Los Angeles.

Here's Maxayn (pictured on the right) beside the great Tina Turner
Here’s Maxayn (pictured on the right) beside the great Tina Turner

Maxayn’s life as a singer flourished and led to a rare yet fateful encounter. “I went into a Chinese restaurant to have lunch and I ran into Steve Perry from Journey,” she said. Steve inquired about Maxayn’s vocal coach. “I told him I didn’t have one.” After Steve got over his shock, he invited her to meet his vocal coach Gary Catona, a legend who has worked with Whitney Houston and others. Gary took Maxayn through a set of challenging vocal exercises that produced recognizable results one day later. “I could already sing but there’s a different level of having control of your voice when your really get into it and get into what I call mastering your own voice.”

Eventually, Gary asked Maxayne to teach his method in Japan on his behalf. “That’s how I got into teaching and coaching people.” She returned to the states and continued teaching. Most recently she has worked with Skyler Lexx, a producer and talent scout. “I met Skyler Lexx through Marlo Hendersen. He and Skyler had been friends for many years. Skyler was working out of a studio in Santa Monica at that time. We got to be friends right off the bat. From there, one day he called me and asked if I could help him work with a couple artists….we work really well together.”

She had a wealth of advice for aspiring singers. “The marketplace is very competitive [and] to underestimate the competition is a huge mistake.” Maxayn stressed the importance of developing one’s self. “Find your original self; put your best effort out there. Learn how to inhabit the lyric, [and] how to let the song be the star. People remember great lyrics. They remember a great melody.” She urged artists to be sincere and drop their egos.

“Luther Vandross was master of singing the melody and delivering the lyric. If you can do that, no matter what kind of music you’re doing you will win. Somebody is gonna love what you do as much as you love doing it. Mastering your own voice [and] knowing how to get out of your own way is part of that.”

Near the interview’s close, Maxayn shared her thoughts on dreams. “There is a higher power at work in everybody’s life. The dreams that each individual has brings something the world benefits from. Use those dreams you’ve been given to bring forth what you’ve been given.” She added that everyone has gifts worth sharing. “The world needs you. The world needs your dreams and know that whatever that is it’s just as valid as anything else out there and who knows you may have the answer to something we’ve all been looking for.”

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