Ink Tone Swep Images Zachery Brandan Stylist Alex Clough Asst Stylist Jessica Rendon MUA Rosalinda Macias Location Edward Cella Art + Architecture Gallery, West Los Angeles, CA
As the daughter of an industry exec, you grew up surrounded by artists, music, video shoots, parties and festivals, the creative process. How do you feel that impacted you as an artist?
Seeing the effort and the hustle and the grind that artists who were serious and dedicated put in prepared me, it raised me; let me know what people need to do in order to actually be successful. Years ago, my mother managed a girl group. And just seeing them doing 12-hour rehearsals six days a week was mind blowing. So I went into this knowing how much work was required, the sacrifices with my time and extracurricular things that I would need to make in order to reach my goals. I’ve been wanting this since I was four though, you feel me, so this was a conscious decision to pursue my passion.
When did you first begin to songwrite and record? When did you make the decision to pursue it as a career?
I was young, really really young. Like maybe eight or nine years old, and my mom’s client was in the studio with Dr. Dre. A little kid who probably isn’t even supposed to be there at the time definitely shouldn’t be interjecting, buuuuuttttt (Laughs!). They were having trouble with the hook for this one song, and I gave my input and it worked. They kept what I suggested and it actually made the song. Then, when I was a few years older, I ended up in the studio with the cast of Shake it Up, a Disney series. After that I started writing for Disney and Nickelodeon. Songwriting has been a career ever since, but I always wanted to be established as an artist.
You rap and sing. Is there a different mood or mode you go into when expressing yourself in one art form or the other?
When I feel a vibe, I feel a vibe. Melodies are my favorite thing, I love playing with melodies. I love building songs around harmony. I’m all about lyrics and delivery along with melody. You can have the hardest beat in the world, but if the lyrics and delivery aren’t dope the song is going to be weak. But you can have just an ok beat, and if those lyrics and that delivery are dope the song will still go hard.
How would you describe your sound? Is it R&B, is it urban music? Those terms sound dated in relation to you.
I would for sure say that I am R&B experimental. I wouldn’t compare myself to anyone, nor categorize myself or my sound. Reggae, Reggaeton, hip-hop, pop, R&B, soul, gangsta rap, you hear elements from many different genres in my music.
As a songwriter, how do you feel about rappers with ghost writers? Are they any less awesome because another artist penned those dope bars for them?
I don’t think so at all. I truly don’t. I think everyone is talented. It just takes a team effort in many cases, especially if you are going for a hit. And I think that’s because hit songs are those that appeal to many different people, in so many places, from all walks of life, that it takes several different creative minds to perfect that diversity… I allow collaboration in my sessions, but the majority of my songwriting I do myself. I’m all about the hits.
A true artist has their own unique approach to fashion, glam, a sense of style only they embody. Tell us about yours.
I love cozy attire, but I’m also very into high fashion. And like most girls I go through certain phases, especially with accessories. Right now I love chains, everything dripping metal. I mix all of the streetwear with designer brands, and the niche pieces from boutiques, and add chains. But If I can’t find it I make it myself, you feel me. I design a lot of the clothes that I wear.
Your debut single is undeniably dope. A hit made for radio. “TRASH (TTWNA)” is a girl power anthem, but really it’s a self-love song encouraging women not to settle for less than they deserve. Did you know it was going to be so popular?
Actually, I was so nervous when I released it. I would always trick people and tease them like, ‘Hey, I’m releasing new music soon’ (Laughs!). It’s great that people caught on. I love that people love my debut song. The first that I have ever, ever, ever released ever (Laughs!). And now when I go into writing sessions I am taken more seriously as an artist, not just a pretty girl on the ‘Gram. The respect is just different, and I appreciate that.
Your success, social media following, and sex appeal has generated interest from practically every major record label. What are you looking for in a profit partner?
I would say all I need right now is a belief system. Believe in me, push me. Labels will sign you just to shelve the competition, take you off the street. Don’t be that experience in my life, that is miserable and causes so many artists so much heartache. I have prayed my entire career to be signed by a major so this is a dream fulfilled once it happens. It just needs to be for belief and support, faith in me and my music. Solely for that purpose. Be a bridge not a road block.
You are going to be a sex symbol. Ready for that?
For sure. And honestly, what being a sex symbol means to me is having a huge heart and being kind to people. It means a lot, you know, because I was taught those principles growing up. Don’t be a mean stuck up type girl, show love and give love. And you will receive love in return.
You have known Nipsey your entire life. What are we to take from recent circumstances regarding the young leader we lost?
This sad and untimely death of Nipsey will wake a lot of people up, open eyes and minds. Even in death Nipsey Hussle is helping people advance and become more conscious.
Los Angeles is beautiful, violent, filled with wealth and opportunity, riddled with poverty and inequality. Talk to us about LA, your city, what has changed, what needs to change, and what ultimately will never change.
What has changed is how segregated things are in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and parts of North and West LA in comparison with South and East LA, especially in certain economic aspects… What needs to change is the gun violence. We’ve been killing each other for years and years, and we continue to do so. Now, since we have major losses, people are being awakened to the reality and how close to home it is. By the grace of God, with certain Influencers promoting peace, this will help create major change. It takes celebrity influencer voices, not some of them, all of them. Celebrities have a huge impact, so if we can get everyone in our lives, everyone in the world, involved in promoting change it will happen… What will never change is all us beautiful people and this beautiful weather and these beautiful opportunities to make it big in the game! Come on, Tone. This is LA!