Gerard Bertrand Hosts Craig David & Lisa Simone at "Jazz a l'Hospitalet"

The Jazz a l’Hospitalet Wine and Music Festival is a perfect combination of open-air live music performances, culinary excellence and the finest French award winner wines in the world created by charming French winemaker Gerard Bertrand at his picturesque vineyard estate Chateau l’Hospitalet in the South of France town of Narbonne. “This is something special I look forward to the entire year”, he told me over dinner, that night we all wore red, while we tasted the best and most expensive rose wine in the world “Clos du Temple” a new wine, not in the market yet that he has perfected.

Gerard Bertrand Showing me his finest and most expensive Rose wine “Clos du Temple”. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Gerard Bertrand Showing me his finest and most expensive Rose wine “Clos du Temple”. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Gerard Bertrand, Selma Fonseca and Thierry de Bailleul. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Gerard Bertrand, Selma Fonseca and Thierry de Bailleul. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Musicians such as Nora Jones, Earth Wind and Fire and Dee Dee Bridgewater have played at this major musical event in the heart of the vineyards where each night 1500 guests enjoy sit-down dinner in the chateau’s courtyard and a reserved seating concert.

This year’s performers were Craig David, Lisa Simone (Nina Simone’s daughter), Ben L’oncle Soul and Melody Gardot which took place on July 24 to 28.

I exclusively interviewed British musician Craig David, he told me why he had chosen to be part of this Festival and working on his new album: “The rose wine is great.  I spoke to Gerard about the actual vineyard and what they’re trying to do.  I didn’t know that they’re not just organic. They’re trying to go to bio organic which is one stage further and then looking at the astrology and the lining up of the planets and how the solar and lunar effects on natural plants which is amazing because I love astrology and I’m very much to my metaphysical side of things.”

“The astrology of the place…I love that, so the fact that I got the opportunity to take them both back and to perform. The one thing I’ve realized the more time I’ve been doing this is that when I first started it was about how many records can I sell.  Not even that, it was that can I have a number one record.  As a young kind, you want to prove to the world…now I realize it’s actually about giving people a form of healing without having to preach, It’s a vibrational thing. You could be going through a bad time in your life, or depression, or a bad day.  You hear a song, it can completely shift you out of that vibration. My thing is I’ve realized that actually when I perform, I like to think I’m giving people positive healing that all of a sudden, they forget all their problems.  Every day you’re bombarded with politics and this situation’s happening and this is where the world’s coming to an end, and then there’s me who’s like let me sing you “Fill Me In” or “Nothing Like This” or “I Know You.”  For me in a certain career of longevity to realize that that’s your actual calling.  Your calling isn’t about how many records you sell.  Not for me anymore.  I’m actually living the dream because it’s not about a statistic.”

Craig has a great presence on stage and connects with his Audience, everyone was singing along. At the one-hour plus show he sang his hits “What if”, “Heartline”, “What’s your Flava”, “Fill Me In” closing the set with “I know You” and “7 Days”.  

He also told me he is very close to finishing an album:  “For me, writing an album is still really important.  I think there’s a lot of artists that don’t see the album as being that important anymore.  I think they realize that albums are very much becoming a thing of the past.  The streaming world and the way in which people want music, it’s playlists.  It’s instant songs.  It’s not bodies of work, but I’ve come from that body of work mirror and it’s important to me, so finishing an album, which I love.  Actually, I’m very excited about it. I’m still in the process.  The best part of it is like 80 percent of it.  The last 20 percent is usually the most fun because I always end up…the last 20 percent becomes the whole 80 percent.  Everything happens in the last 20 percent because the level is here, and I know I have to push it, and then some scenario will happen with an artist that I didn’t expect, and the next thing you’re talking and then you’re in studio and all of a sudden, you’ve got a whole new album and also, I like to take it not only just around like the UK and Europe, but also to go to America with the album and to…and its reinvention.  With the US, it’s different.”

He talked about his friendship with Justin Bieber and how he would love to make songs with him when the opportunity came around and if it’s organic because “I’m always one to never try and push, push, push, push.”

He also said, “I think Ariana Grande as a vocalist, she’s unbelievable.  I like her. Seven.  Anderson Pack.  I’d go Rick Mill.  I’d go the hip hop guys. I always feel like Mary J Blige when she was doing R & B and hip hop.  She’d be fantastic.  I’m just open.  Ella Mae, for example.  Like I was in the studio with her maybe 6-8 months before she had the huge record with Boot Up and then tripping.  I just love it being with people who are on the come up and then they have the hit and you’re part of that.  It’s exciting to me because then you’re part of the journey as opposed to being reactive and saying, oh, I want to work with this person because they’re doing well.  Bruno Mars would be great, as well.  He’s unbelievable.”

He explained to me how sometimes his songs comes to him while he is sleeping, “When I sang “I Know You” with Bastille… that song, the melody came to me with that [singing the song]… I promise you, in a dream that I had, and I woke up and I was like, “I’ve just got to put this down,” and the next thing, I was in the studio and then I was starting the melody and I called Bastille to ask if he would like to work on it.  He said he was like 15 minutes down the road. It was so organic.  He said he was finishing a session and he would come on after.  The next thing you know, bam, we had a song together.  So, the universe has a plan, and it aligns you, and I just know that if you’re in the right place at the right time and you’re passionate, it’s everything.”

On Saturday Jon Bon Jovi’s son, Jessie Bongiovi, who in 2017 collaborated with Gerard Bertrand on making “Hampton Water” Rose wine was at the Festival for just one day, I meet him at a lovely lunch at one of Gerard’s estates “Domaine de Cigalus”, Jessie told me how after dinner he was going to drive back to Barcelona, he has been traveling around the world promoting the wine.

On Sunday Lisa Simone and Big Band de Garonne gave a stellar performance with a collective of 20 musicians directed by Philippe Léogé, Narbonne Mayor and local politicians were cheering from the front row.

“Are you ready for the party? We are gonna be here for 88 minutes” Simone said making the crowd very excited.

She sang mostly her mother’s Nina Simone songs “Do I move you?” and “Wild in the Wind” saying, “Tonight’s concert was built on my first album Simone on Simone, and it is a tribute to my mother”

Before the concert, I sat with Simone backstage for an exclusive interview, she revealed to me: “My new album is called In Need of Love, it is coming out on the 18th of October on Elektra France. And my big break-out concert is on the 28th of February, 2020 in Paris,” she continues, “then you will see me with my trio. I’m a World Music Artist now which I am really happy about because that means I can just flow in and out many genres because that’s what I’ve always done. That’s what my mom has done. It’s natural. I don’t even know what the big deal is. I think it’s the music executives.”

She continues, “Because when I was a kid and you listened to the radio, you might hear Frank Sinatra and then after that you would hear Tina Turner, right afterwards…  After that you might hear, Mama Cass and The Mammas and the Pappas. So, there was no real format that was a specific type of music. I was raised on all kinds of music. Then of course you have Nina Simone, Mary Mccabe, Abbey Lincoln, and Otis Redding, Freddie Pain and Doris Day was playing in my house. So, you know there was no limit…”

“That’s how I come to the stage when I perform. I have something for everybody. If you’re an artist, you’re an artist. And uh putting us in a box is very limiting and it can be downright insulting,” she strongly said. “You see me here doing the big band. Then in February you’ll see me doing Reggae and Rock and Folk.”

She also talked about doing more Broadway shows: “Before I die, I think I will close the circle by going back to Broadway.”

She closed the concert set by singing “Return Home”. 

Simone just released a new single called “Right Now”. The music video you are officially introduced to her daughter ReAnna who’s in the video with her and if you subscribe to her YouTube page #LisaSimoneRightNow you also get to see the making of, which gets you the ‘behind the scenes’.

Visit the official Jazz a 'l’Hospitalet website

Ben L’oncle Soul and Gerard Bertrand. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Ben L’oncle Soul and Gerard Bertrand. Photo by Selma Fonseca

Chateau l’Hospitalet Vineyards. Photo by Marine Duplan

Chateau l’Hospitalet Vineyards. Photo by Marine Duplan

Anitta talks about Mariah Carey at Ipanema Footwear Launch Party in LA

Brazilian singer-songwriter Anitta released her fourth multi-lingual Album “Kisses” - she sings in Portuguese, Spanish and English - on Friday, April 5 and she is gaining even more International recognition.

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The record features Brazilian superstars Caetano Veloso, Ludmilla, and Papatinho, as well as American artists Snoop Dogg, Becky G, Alesso and Prince Royce.

On Saturday, April 6, the popstar celebrated her sandal collaboration with Ipanema, the Brazilian footwear brand, alongside the launch of the album at Skybar in Los Angeles. 

The event featured a panel of style mavens Alyssa CoscarelliAyydé VargasHanna Montazami, and Delaney Glazer who discussed the latest trends of fashion and music, followed by an exclusive performance by Anitta and a guitar player with some of her newest music “Get to know Me”, “Voce Mentiu”. She wore a short tight leopard print dress and her hair pulled back.

Together, Anitta and Ipanema are heading out on a global tour to introduce the album and collection to the world, making stops in Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles and Madrid.

After the live concert Anitta and I talked backstage, she told me how she found the confidence to sing in three different languages, “Yeah, it’s really hard.  Pretty much because you listen to so many people say that it’s not gonna work, it’s not gonna work, it’s not gonna work that you say like I need to make it work so I worked really hard to be really good in English and I’m a believer and had good faith in English that people could miss on like the literal song. “

“I’m just confident for anything. I just have this need inside me when I was four.  I don’t know,” she continues.

She also told us the “real” meaning of her album title “Kisses”, “I’ve always wanted to show this person, because I’m a really complex person, you know?  My personality is really complex. I have a lot of person that is inside me myself, so I wanted to show this in the sad songs which kind of person can I be sometimes, and we were thinking about…but it was too obvious to put the name of the album “Anittas”.  So, we were thinking about things that could be like me, a lot of different ways, but being also the same thing always, so the kiss is something like this—you can find a different kind of kisses like family kiss or sexy kiss, whatever, friend, family, whatever—but it’s also still being a kiss.  That’s why we chose this name “Kisses”—the different types of being kissed.”

She explained to me why she picked Caetano Veloso to collaborate on the song “Voce Mentiu,” “He helped me a lot in my life, so I really love him and appreciate everything he does, and he’s a friend of me, I am friends of his family and because when I wrote that song with my partners, when I listened to it the first time, it was like, this is so Caetano.  I need to have him with me, and then he said yes right away.”

And when she has the opportunity to collaborate with one of her idols singer Mariah Carey, the song will be about dreams, she said, “About going for your dreams because since I was zero years old, I was listening to her, and I mean, if I met her, I could not imagine it would be happening, so if I sing with her, it would definitely need to talk about dreams, about realizing…about getting something done in your life that you could never imagine that could happen,” she said.

We also talked about where she finds inspiration for her songs, “My inspirations is things that I live, an experience that I had in my life.  I always talk about real things.  Or somebody or some story of another third person—another person.  I like to talk about real stuff and also things that I believe that happened with me.”

Anitta, Selma Fonseca

Anitta, Selma Fonseca

The album 10-track Album took almost one year to complete, she said,  “Just the part that depends on me.  The parts that depend on other people, it was like two months, and that’s it, and we were like, come on!  Come on!  It was crazy.”

H.E.R. talks Grammy Nominations & her Vision Board

Gabrielle “Gabi” Wilson, who likes to the called by her artist name “H.E.R.” gave me an exclusive interview right after learning she had been nominated for five 2019 Grammy awards, “It was early in the morning when they announced everything, but I was woken up out of my sleep.  I had a show the night before.  My manager woke everybody up.  We didn’t know what was going on.  He was like, “We’re going to have to cancel the tour.”  He called everybody to my room and said, “Oh, my gosh, you’re nominated for five Grammys,” and I just remember crying and everybody just going crazy.  We were…and then I started seeing the reaction on social media and yeah, it was a crazy moment.  I immediately called my parents and all my friends and family and it was crazy.  It was a moment,” she described how she learned about the nominations for her self-titled album HER, including album of the year, best new artist and best R&B album.

 Also her song “Focus” is nominated for best R&B song and her song “Best Part” featuring Daniel Caesar is nominated for best R&B performance.

H.E.R

She explained to us how she came up with the acronym H.E.R. which stands for “Having Everything Revealed”, “Well, it kind of was a process.  I was making these songs that were very honest and very specific to this time in my life while I was transitioning from being a young girl to becoming a young woman.  You know, in high school, being 16, 17, 18 years old, and going through emotions and all the stuff that a girl goes through in high school—first heart break, and emotions that you haven’t felt and being jaded, like it’s the end of the world, you know.  I’ll never be loved again.  All these things that we feel.  The music that I was making was a collection of stories based on that time period, kind of a very dark time, you know. Teenage hormonal era.  But what I always said was like, “Oh, I’ll never be that girl,” when I was 15, 14, looking at other women like, “I’ll never be that girl that falls for the wrong guy,” and “I’m never going to make this mistake and that mistake,” and then I ended up being that girl.  I ended up being HER.  And the easiest way for me to be honest was to really be anonymous and just, you know, I wanted to release the music and see what happened and I wanted people to love the music for what it was, so I just decided to release an EP with just my silhouette in the front—no name, no face, nothing attached but music and my stories.”

I asked her what does it mean to her “having everything revealed”?

“Really that means that you really know who I am.  You really see how vulnerable I am and how personal my music is.  In my music, you hear it in my music.  It’s not about what I look like or how I dress or the people I’m associated with or if I belong to a clique.  It’s just about the raw message and the emotions in my songs, my real stories, and that’s having everything revealed to me more than anything,” She said.

 

We also talked about her writing process, “It really depends.  I’m bouncing off the walls all the time.  Sometimes I’ll come up with a melody and then I’ll write words to it or sometimes I’ll be laying in bed and just write down my thoughts and the song kind of writes itself, but it depends on who I’m working with.  I love to talk in the studio when I collaborate with people.  When I write by myself, I’m usually at an instrument, a guitar or piano or bass, and coming up with words that way, but it just depends.  For me, it starts with thoughts and where it takes me.  I don’t like to force anything.”

H.E.R.

On December 10, 2018, she launched a new series “Road to GRAMMYs” on her YouTube music channel, in the introduction she says, “I have goals, I have ambitions, and I have dreams,” so I asked her about that, “Yeah.  I mean, honestly, I was just talking to my team, my manager and people, and two years ago, I wrote…I made a vision board.  I made a vision board, like a physical white board.  I went to whatever store and I bought a white board and I wrote down a bunch of little goals and some of it was like, “I want to headline my own tour,” and now I’m doing that.  So two and an half years ago, I want to get at least 100 million streams, you know, and now we’re like at a billion streams.  And on there was a Grammy nomination.  That was one of the biggest goals that I had on the vision board.  It was just part of like my career goals that I had on that board, and for that to manifest and now become reality is so crazy.  So those were some of the goals I was talking about, and now I’m working on a new vision board, and now I’m thinking of how to take my goals to the next level. My goals are changing.  My dreams are getting even bigger.  Because I had one nomination on that board, and now it’s five.  You know, this is my second headlining tour. And I headlined in Europe and now I’m doing a second headline tour in Europe, and it’s like all these levels that I’m passing through, that I’m achieving.  And it doesn’t stop, you know.  I’m excited because this is not even my potential.  This isn’t even my prime. It’s literally just the beginning and all these great things are happening, so yeah, that’s really what I was talking about.  I have personal goals.  One goal I had on my vision board was to buy my mom a house, and I was able to do that this year.”

 Another thing that’s on the board that hasn’t happened yet, “One thing is an arena tour.  I got to do that next. I think Oracle arena because that’s right by my hometown.  I used to go to concerts there all the time. I saw Prince there, and Barclay Center.  I live in Brooklyn now,” she told us.

“I’m working on my debut album so there will probably be some really dope surprises on there. Chris Brown is so talented.  I’d love to work with him.  There’s people like J. Cole and Drake who I really want to work with.  There are so many artists out.  I don’t know,” she said.

Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys are her fans. In fact, Janet Jackson attended one of her shows in London, “That was crazy.  It was unbelievable.  Like Janet Jackson is one of my favorites, all time, and the fact that she’s a fan of me and knew all the words to my songs is like confirmation. It’s like, wow, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  I’m doing something right if Janet Jackson is coming to my show,” she told us about it.

On Friday December 14, the multi-talented artist played the piano, the guitar and sang all her hits “Focus”, “Best Part”, at The Novo Theater by Microsoft, as part of MWP Entertainment Group Presents “WANTED,” a Live Experiential Musical Event Series, attended by her celebrity fans Queen Latifah, Janet Jackson, Ella Mai, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell-Martin, and Phil Ivey.

She told me before the show, “Friday is going to be a really special show on the tour because there’s going to be this crazy technology and you can just experience my music in a different way, like it’s going to be holograms and it’s going to be…it’s going to be something super different from all the other dates.”

At the end of the show she said to the audience on the microphone, “So many amazing things are happening in my life and I really have to thank you for supporting me and loving me and keeping it about the music, thank you so much, and I have been dealing with a lot, it’s just as much as there is good, there is bad, the devil always gonna try you and to take you away from your blessings, you have the opportunity to abuse the blessing and that’s what I am trying not to do, I am on the stage, I am so grateful I am so happy, and that’s all I can be,  I am only 21 year old, so thank you so much for making my dreams come true, thank you.”

H.E.R. performing at MWP Entertainment Group Presents “WANTED,” a Live Experiential Musical Event Series

H.E.R. performing at MWP Entertainment Group Presents “WANTED,” a Live Experiential Musical Event Series

She also told me how she feels in front of an audience, “I definitely get that energy from the audience, like I always feed off the audience’s energy, but I’ve always been a performer.  I’ve always loved performing since I was a little girl, and I’ve prepared my whole life to be on tours.  It’s just what I love to do.  We have a great time on stage, me and my band, every single night, so it’s just fun for me. I never really get nerves unless it’s like a really big stage sometimes I get a little bit nervous, but I just tap into why I love it so much and how much fun I have.  People love coming to my shows.  They experience my music in a different way.  I try to create like a dynamic show.”

Heather LaRose Exclusive Interview & "Kerosene" Video Release

Heather LaRose is an American electro-pop singer, songwriter and guitar player from New York City with more than 54K followers. Best known for her song "New Moon," from her EP "Beachside", which was featured on MTV's Teen Wolf. Growing up, listening to classics like Abba, The Beach Boys and The Beatles along with early 2000s pop inspired her to begin singing and writing. Her upbeat blend of electronics and real instruments garnered her sponsorship by Gibson Guitars.

Heather LaRose

Heather LaRose

I sat down with Heather for an exclusive interview ahead of the release of her new video “Kerosene” on Friday December 14, 2019.

“The video was shot with some of my closest friends and bandmates James Byrne, David Vogel, Bianca Muniz, Jackie Muniz, Stefano DB, Michael Hojnacki, Takahiro Izumikawa at an awesome studio in Norwalk, Connecticut called Underground Studios. I think the live aspect of a song is important, it's a calumniation of all the words and emotions being brought to life. When you go through a traumatic experience, it's really important to be open with how you're feeling, especially to your friends. This live performance is so important to me because my friends have been such a great support system and you can hear that come through the way they help me bring "Kerosene" to life,” she told me.

 She reflected on her writing specially her new single “Kerosene”, “For each song, my process is different. Most of the time I start with the chorus and build the story around my emotions or whatever triggered me to start singing. But for “Kerosene”, I started with the first line as the first thing I wrote and built the song from the ground up. I wrote Kerosene after my ex-boyfriend passed away from Cancer. I got off the phone with the friend that introduced him and I. I just remember going into a state of complete shock. I wanted to cry but I felt paralyzed.”

 She continues, “It was a complicated relationship from the moment we met. It was the summer of 2014, I was going to school in New York and he was leaving to go to Tulane. But it was one of those instant attractions. We ended up spending almost every day together until the day him and his dad drove off. Even then we both face-timed each other for over an hour crying while he was in the passenger seat and his dad was driving. That was my first love. We both tried to make the long-distance work, but it was "summer dreams ripped at the seams" (Grease). Distance and priorities pulled us apart. But we seemed to get back together for a couple of weeks for the two following summers. It was never the same as that first summer, though. When he was diagnosed with cancer, it was almost a year since him and I spoke. That moment, I drove to his house and we just hugged each other crying. He and I forgot and forgave each other of all of the things we put each other through. In that moment, it was like the summer we first met. We kept in touch and it seemed like he was really on the mend. But then out of the blue I got the call he passed away.”

“Kerosene” is the day he passed away, but it's also the day I drove to his house, it's the day we first got back together, it's the day we first met.”

And this is what she said about the song, “Kerosene” is a dark electric blue. It's a pop ballad of hope and love burning through doubts and fears. I recorded Kerosene with the DJ duo CRWN, Crane and Charlie Brown (Millie Bobby Brown's brother). A few of the other singles are with some of my really close friends from Berklee: Jack Hoffman, greisun, Joel Ferber, Elliot Sorgen, Alex Venegas and my songs "Rumors" was with Greg Sgar (John Lennon Songwriting Contest) and Matt Pelosi. I love being able to work with friends as much as possible because you can hear the chemistry come through the track.”

In 2018, LaRose hit over a million streams. LaRose also gained recognition as opening act for Rachel Platten summer 2017, Drake Bell fall 2017, and for her performances at several of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign speeches, where Clinton also chose the Beachside EP’s “Run With Me” as her walk up song.  Her fresh sound has taken her to the stages of NYFW, LA Fashion Week, Miami Swim Week, NYC’s Bronx Zoo Festival, LA’s legendary Whisky A-GoGo, and a headlining performance at Montauk Music Festival.

 “I'm just wrapping up my recordings for an upcoming EP. I've spent the past year writing and reflecting, not just on my growth as a person, but also what it means to be a young woman in this era. My songs are about being bold, embracing who you are and what you've overcame. Since my ex-boyfriend passed away, I've had some extreme emotional highs and lows. I write a new song nearly every day. The EP is scheduled to be released in March 2019 just in time for SXSW. Right now, I have six unreleased songs but I might switch a couple out once I get back to LA in January. I already have some studio time booked. Music has been the best therapy.”

Heather is always perfecting her craft, she told me, “I was always a songwriter but singing was something I had to really train for. I could always connect with the story of a song and know the emotion to sing them with but I worked on a lot my technique by studying with teachers like Darryl Tookes (NYU), Amy Roslyn (Broadway cast Jesus Christ Super Star), while at Lagond Music School in Elmsford, NY, a nonprofit music school where I also worked. Then while I was in LA, I studied with Kira a celebrity vocal coach for the cast of Glee, Disney stars, etc. It wasn't until my second year of college where I really felt comfortable stepping away from my guitar and really calling myself a vocalist.”

Watch “Kerosene” video here:




Exclusive Interview with Levan Tsikurishvili - “AVICII: TRUE STORIES” Film Director

Long time Avicii’s collaborator, friend and filmmaker Levan Tsikurishvili is releasing a new powerful documentary AVICII: TRUE STORIES”, The Untold Story Behind The Artist.

The theatrical release will be December 14th in Los Angeles and December 21st in New York, with hopes for an Academy Awards nomination.

I sat with the Swedish director for an exclusive interview after a private screening in Los Angeles.

“We worked together for four years.  I think we were like longer than that, but he was just on and off, like one show here and there.  I remember the first tour I did with him was in Australia 2012, I believe.  We meet for the first time actually I was making music so the first time I saw him in person was at a festival that I was playing, and he was playing on as well.  And that was kind of like the first time I met him in person and then we met again at a dinner … I was a filmmaker at that time already.  In part, I was doing the music as well and I wanted to, you know can I get into this DJ world as well, but then I decided to quit with the music and only focus on filmmaking.  That was the year we started to work with each other,” Levan told me about his relationship with AVICII.

“I mean we were living together in the same house.  Very close,” He said.

avicii-true-stories.jpg

The film reveals the unvarnished truth behind the success of producer, songwriter and artist Avicii (A.K.A. Tim Bergling) winner of 2014 Billboard Award “Wake Me Up” in the Top Dance/Electronic Song category.

One of the world’s highest grossing live music artists getting paid $250,00 per show, whose seemingly sudden decision in 2016 to quit doing live shows came as a complete chock to his fans and the industry.

The film traces the artist/DJ’s life from his beginnings in Sweden, all the way to the joy of his success, from his chart-topping global radio hits and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. He was hospitalized for 11 days in 2012 with acute pancreatitis, a condition associated with excessive drinking. In 2014, he was hospitalized in Miami due to a blocked gall bladder which had to be removed along with his appendix.

Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years, and captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his experiences and thinking.

Featuring appearances by Madonna, Chris Martin who said, “You are so talented man”, Nile RodgersDavid Guetta, Wyclef Jean who compared Avicii to Bach, Avicii’s former manager, Ash Pournouri and one of Avicii’s best friend’s Tiesto. 

The Film is a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the artist's point of view as much as it is a film for Avicii’s die-hard fans.

Levan said: “I mean as documentary film director you have the redline and you are trying to follow that redline in the editing process as much as possible, and it is always hard to “killing your dolly” as we call it in a documentary language which basically means that you have to sometimes cut out your like fabric pieces from the story because it does not fit.  You have to cut it out,” Levan told me about the story he wants to convey.

He continues: “The story I wanted to tell is in the doc I believe and the message that the documentary has is another side of the industry which maybe people doesn’t like to talk about and you know because you as a talent you are expected to be strong and a role model and you are expected to be the happy person for your fans and for the industry, and I think it is very important to at the same time keep yourself like in your mind to who you are and I think my documentary will show both sides of what it takes to be the talent.”

 “Yeah, we had been talking, you know, I used to talk with the characters rather than to ask them questions, because I believe that it is easier to get like the side of story that is really happening at the time,” He said about the footage in the film.

Avicii died on April 20, 2018 of an apparent suicide in Muscat, Oman, but Levan chose to not show his death in the film, he told: “We did the documentary before he passed away. There is a sign at the end of the documentary that says the year (2016).”

Levan’s last words and hope for this documentary are:

“What I want to say with the documentary is that hopefully, I want people to see the doc is that they can learn something. Especially young people that are very interested to get into the music industry or to become anything else when you are a talent it takes lots of energy to be the talent.  It could be very exciting but it could also be very difficult and I think that society today is telling you and me that to become somewhat successful it is very good which is the fact but at the same time it can also be very difficult.  Yeah, that’s hopefully where I want to understand and learn and feel that life can be difficult even though you are very successful as a professional.”

The documentary is now on Netflix.

Watch the trailer:

Selma Fonseca and Levan Tsikurishvili

Selma Fonseca and Levan Tsikurishvili

FABRIQ "SEROTONIN" VIDEO RELEASE - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DAVID DAVILA & COOPER BELL

With the success of Fabriq’s Band song “Get Behind the Felling” released in Billboard in May 2018, Daniel Davila and Cooper Bell released their second single “Serotonin” on November 7, 2018 and they will release an EP on February 2019.

I was invited to their Studio in Los Angeles for an exclusive interview:

“The song was inspired by a girl who had everything, but struggled with depression.  She felt reliant on anti-depressants to be emotionally stable, but always stopped taking them because they made her feel incapable of feeling emotion.  In other words, the meds kept her from feeling depressed, but she also couldn't be truly happy while she was taking them, I think the song is like stepping back and trying to find your true happiness,” said Daniel.

Daniel Davila and Cooper Bell at their studio

Daniel Davila and Cooper Bell at their studio

“I would probably say (the video) is like 60 percent pink, 40 percent blue, and that’s important.  This piece of the puzzle, but that also there’s entire scenes in the video that are completely blue, like when she’s walking down the hallway into the other room. It’s very blue and that, of course, like you said, the other parts of it are very bright pink, right?  And that distinction is important because basically the crux of the whole story we told visually was that things can be kind of scary in the pink world if you look closely, so in that first shot, you see her sitting in the living room with the dolls around her and it’s kind of creepy if you really look closely, right?  But it’s pink.  It’s supposed to be happiness, but it’s really not, right?  And then in the blue side sort of shows the undercurrent behind that, that in reality, pink is not really pink consistently.  Sometimes it’s blue right behind it, so I think that was a really important thing we wanted to tell visually in that story,” Cooper explained about the video.

Seating in their studio filled with guitars hanging on the walls they continued explaining the video to me:

“A lot of the lyrics in the song are specific to this story.  But we think this story applies to a lot of anxiety in our society right now.  So many people feel reliant on things like social media, unhealthy relationships, or even prescription drugs in order to feel emotionally stable. This is why we thought it was an important song to release as the single off our upcoming EP.” The eight-track EP will be released in February 2019 they are in between two titles “We tentatively want to call it Serotonin.  We think that’s a great word to encompass the feeling of the entire piece of work…” Cooper said.

“But we’re also really interested in potentially doing it as a self-titled debut EP so just an EP called “Fabriq” because it is our…it’s interesting because now that we’re on the next point of where we want to be stylistically, creatively, and what we’re working on to the point where that really…this album that we’re about to come out with is the inception of why.  You know, it’s the first songs we wrote together, some of the first things that we created together.  One of the first songs that we ever produced by ourselves without any co-production credits, so…” Daniel complemented.

Daniel Davila and Cooper Bell at their studio

Daniel Davila and Cooper Bell at their studio

And why did they choose the title Serotonin?

“Well, serotonin’s actually a chemical that gets released in your brain when you feel happiness or so say the scientists, right?  I didn’t discover that myself, but it’s associated with the idea of being chemically happy, so just the sense of like when you go to a therapist or something or they’ll prescribe you a drug to increase the serotonin in your brain, right?  And we thought that was such an interesting word because we actually not only feel like the idea of being happy can be synthesized right into a single chemical, we think it’s way more spiritual than that.  So, the song is sort of about that—that there really is a separation between feeling good and being happy.  Right?  And serotonin, the chemical, makes you feel really great, but that won’t necessarily mean that you’re happy.  So, I think that’s where sort of the driving force behind the song came from,” Said Cooper.

“When we were drafting ideas for the video, we wanted to have a universal prop to represent addiction of all sorts.  We chose pills because of the amount of addictions associated with them.  The pills act as a doorway between the two worlds in the video our main character in the video is caught between these two worlds.  

The first world is addictive because she feels emotionally safe and dull.  But she knows, somewhere deep down, that she’s missing her true emotions.  She feels stuck in a grey zone, and fights to break free from it… but fears the emotional extremes that come with leaving.

The second world is exciting but also overwhelming and hard for her to maintain.  When she's in this world, she feels like she’s lost control because she can suddenly feel these emotional extremes again.  This world requires her to take a real look at herself.  Sometimes she's in absolute bliss, and sometimes she's horrified with what she finds,” Cooper explained.

“This song is about finding a balance between those two worlds, something that we (and a lot of people) have a hard time negotiating.” Cooper added. 

Right now, Daniel and Cooper are busy preparing and practicing for their show at Peppermint Club in West Hollywood on November 14.

Daniel Davila, Selma Fonseca and Cooper Bell at their studio

Daniel Davila, Selma Fonseca and Cooper Bell at their studio

Daniel ended the interview with this quote: “I always think you hear this, where you hear that phrase it’s like “two halves equal a whole.”  You know, when it comes down to a relationship.  Relationships with anything, but specifically if you’re a person.  It’s like you are my other half, and how it should be working is like we are…you complete me…I’m not going to say that because that would just come off wrong, but we’re both whole in ourselves and happy with who we are and we just happen to go together very well.”

Daniel Davila and Cooper Bell at their studio

Daniel Davila and Cooper Bell at their studio

Jussie Smollett Interview and Concert for Espolon Tequila

On November 01, 2018 Espolòn Tequila kicked off Day of the Dead with a special celebration at Academy in Hollywood. In the spirit of remembering and honoring those we have lost, Empire’s (FOX) Jussie Smollett paid homage to musical legends who have inspired him throughout his career with an electrifying performance.

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To honor those that have left us, Jussie covered iconic hits from Michael Jackson, BB King, Prince, Whitney Houston (with the help of Ashly Williams and Shyann Roberts), and ended the set with Tupac’s ‘California Love,’ ripping off his jacket to rap the lyrics.  

In an interview backstage, right before the show, the very talented star - he sings, dance, and act - said: “I have celebrated Day of the Dead.  It’s interesting, because I definitely know about the Day of the Dead and I definitely have been celebrating it.  And it is always not every year, but I definitely acknowledge it every single year.  I think it is actually something really beautiful to acknowledge the people who have passed, the people who have come before us.  That’s why this when Espolon came and asked me to be a part of this to be able to honor.  Is this super cool?  Like to be able to honor the people that I loved growing up, the people that we may have lost way too soon.  It’s kind of dull so tonight should be a super chills.”

Always poignant, Jussie encouraged the crowd to exercise their vote during the Midterm Elections on November 6th and performed ‘Need Freedom’ from Season 3 of Empire, a tribute to those we have been lost due to police shootings and inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.

“You will see tonight like there’s a moment in the show where I was just.., we were trying so hard to come up with different things and we would have had like a five hour show because there were so many people.  I was like, WE GOTTA DO ELVIS, WE GOTTA DO JOHN LENNON, WE GOTTA DO THIS, WE GOTTA DO THAT, and it was just like bro, like it’s a 55-minute show, just chill on that.  So, it was really difficult, but you will see tonight, we do little bits of a lot of different songs, so that we could get a lot of different songs done.  We even do California Love by Tupak,” Jussie said about the set that he was about to perform.

During his rendition of Ray Charles’ ‘I Got a Woman,’ the DJ broke into Kanye West’s sample ‘Gold Digger’ to which Jussie exclaimed, “I’m still pissed off at Kanye so f*&k that. But shout out to Ray Charles for giving him the song cuz that sh*t was poppin!”

The crowd broke into the electric slide as Jussie performed Luther Vandross’ ‘Never Too Much.’

Jussie also performed a mixture of songs from his new Album Sum of My Music including ‘Hurt People,’ ‘Ha Ha (I Love You)’ which he wrote for his new beau, and ‘Freedom’.

He also told me about the tour he just wrapped up: “We went on tour, a 40-city tour and we went to four different continents, seven different countries and 40 different cities.  Every single city was sold out.  Every single city.  And I was able to donate every single cent from the proceeds of the tour to charity.  So, we were able to able to donate over $100,000 to eight different charities.  The Black Institute, ACLU, For Your Rights Care, Trayvon Martin Foundation, Flint Kids, the Anthony Burrell Dance Theater.”