HonkMagazine/ Exclusive interview with ROBERT O’CONNOR
Today we had an exclusive chance to interview Robert O’Connor.
Hello Robert O’Connor, Thanks for Coming To Honk Magazine To Talk About Your Music Career.
Let’s start off by introducing yourself, you know the basics like name, age, where you’re from. As much or little as you’re comfortable sharing.
What’s up, I’m Robert O’Connor, I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I used to listen to my parents’ records, rather than watch TV.
I’d sit and listen to anything and everything I could get my hands on – Blondie, ABBA, Bon Jovi, The Bangles, Fleetwood Mac. I was transfixed by music and pretty soon I wanted to play music myself, and my choice of instrument was the keyboard. That was the beginning of my love affair with electronic music I guess.
From around the age of 5 I was attending stage school singing, dancing, and later I fell into acting, performing in some of Ireland’s biggest theaters in big productions. A couple years later I started taking keyboard lessons and continued for over ten years, taking my grades and eventually teaching others. It wasn’t until I was around 17 that I really started to consider singing, and while I’d sang in groups in live productions, I wasn’t really sure I could sing as a soloist, I had no awareness of my voice.
At that stage I went to a coach, and found my voice, and learned how to use it. Pretty soon I was making demos, and when I saved enough money, I made my first professional recording, “Ten Years Time”, which was a cover of the Gabrielle song, and eventually became my debut single. Billy Farrell, the producer of that song, told me I should start to write my own songs if I wanted to make it in the business, and so I did just that, and quickly found it came naturally to me.
Before I knew it, I was recording my debut album ‘Distance’, which I wrote, executive produced and self-funded, eventually striking a distribution deal with Universal Music Operations for the record. I was still at college at the time, studying journalism. A few years later, after I graduated, I released the follow-up, an EP called ‘Resistance’, and played lots of gigs in my hometown.
I took a five year hiatus from releasing music after that, and worked in lots of normal jobs, but I still wrote lyrics and music here and there. One day I wrote a song called “No Second Chances” that I felt extremely compelled to release. The whole industry had changed, I was starting from zero and totally alone, so I spent time learning how to do everything by myself – being my own publicist, manager, booker, web designer, the list goes on – and I haven’t looked back since. That was 2018, and since then I’ve released 12 singles and I’m about to release my second EP. I gave myself a second chance, and I’m so glad I did!
Talk me through your creative process.
It usually goes one of two ways. Usually, I’ll write a lyric first, and sometimes the melody will come at the same time, or sometimes it’ll follow later. I record the lyrics and melodies as voice notes in my iPhone, and will then sing the song unaccompanied for a guitarist, who will then essentially write a guitar line, and at that point it starts to feel like a song! That’s when I’ll go to the studio and I’m usually armed with influences or have sent reference tracks to the producer that demonstrate the vibe I want to achieve.
On other occasions, like with my new single “One Way Ticket”, I receive a backing track demo, and I’ll write a top-line melody and lyric to it. I haven’t operated that way since my first album, but I’ve really enjoyed the process and want to do it more often. I have only ever co-written lyrics once in my career, on the song “Destination Anywhere”, where I wrote the verses to a pre-existing chorus. I like to be as involved as possible in the mixing process and there have been times when there’s been six, seven or eight versions of a song before we arrive at the final mix.
How do you solve productivity/scheduling problems and reduce overwhelming situations?
Like all independent artists, I work multiple jobs to bankroll my creative projects, and to cover the cost of living in general! Over the years I’ve become accustomed to juggling, and it wouldn’t be unusual for me to have two or three part time jobs on the go, but I think as I get older this is less healthy and less comfortable a situation to be in! During the Covid years, I lost my part time jobs, some permanently and some temporarily, but the upside was that I could focus entirely on my creative output. I was a full-time artist for once, and I loved that side of it! I was able to apply myself to songwriting, create single campaigns, and really build my online presence by being consistent and putting the hours in. It was good for my career.
These days, being back at work, I find planning is key, I write everything down, and I don’t put off until tomorrow what I can do today. For instance, the single and EP that I’m promoting now, I wrote the press release two months ago, I shot the photos three months ago, and recorded the song four months ago. Now that the release is upon me, I have time to focus on the promotion, which is almost equally important! The old saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is real!
What’s the best advice you ever received concerning music?
When I was getting ready to make my comeback in 2018, my producer at the time, Stuart Gray, told me not to worry about what people would think about the music – not to think about critics or what might be in fashion – because often by the time you release the music, trends have already changed, and in reality you never truly know what people are going to think, so you have to be true to yourself, and make something that you can stand over and say “I’m happy with that”.
I’ve kept that in the back of my mind over the last few years. A strong body of work that represents you as an artist is more important than a fleeting viral moment that you then feel pressured to re-create every time!
What is still your biggest challenge?
Financing! I have such expensive taste. People don’t realise the costs of being an independent artist who is consistently active. I know Spotify would like for me to release a single every month at least, but when I factor in costs and my own expectations of my output, it’s just not feasible! You have the production costs, studio costs, mixing, mastering, remixes, photography, video shoots, wardrobe, and then all the small costs that add up like maintaining your website and social media, which now requires some sort of budget to make content that is up to standard, which you then often have to sponsor to get it seen by your actual following, never mind reaching new potential followers! It’s tough, but when you announce a new release and watch your campaign come together as you imagined it in your mind, it’s somehow worth it – but it’s always a challenge, and there are always sacrifices made, things that you know you could do to benefit the release if only your budget would stretch that much further!
What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
I absolutely would not have taken those five years off. I think I was burned out and I had hit a wall. I was playing the same gigs, and at the time streaming didn’t exist, it was that transitional period where people were either illegally downloading or using iTunes, and looking back now I think I really just didn’t know what to do next when a single didn’t “take off” in the traditional sense.
As an independent artist you still felt like you needed a major record label behind you to achieve any sort of success, or just to function at a level that made it worthwhile continuing. I had paid an established, but possibly not entirely trustworthy A&R guy, to shop my EP around labels as an album sampler. There was a lack of transparency of how much work he actually did on my behalf, but nothing came out of it, and by the time I released the EP independently, I was just exhausted and disillusioned. Maybe it was meant to be this way though, it all worked out in the end – I’d like those five years back though!
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
Pet Shop Boys. I think it’s important to be exposed to the right audience, and for me, that would be it – an audience with an appetite for melodic electro pop music with strong lyricism. I would love to put on a proper show in a theatre or arena with the whole lightshow, costumes, a full band, backing dancers, the lot! That’s been the dream since I started making this brand of pop music.
You can’t really go down to your local singer/songwriter open mic and give this type of music the full performance it deserves. Any of the gigs I’ve performed in the past have either been unplugged with an acoustic guitarist, or with a small three-piece band. I’m ready to go large!
What are you focusing your time on now?
Right now my mission is to get my single “One Way Ticket” and my EP ‘Severance’ heard by as many listeners as possible. I’ve poured myself into the music, and of course I want it to be heard, so that translates to sending hundreds of emails to radio stations of all kinds – community, local, regional, special interest, to try to gain as much airplay as possible without a publicist or radio deal in place. On top of that then there’s the blogs, and getting as many of them on-side as possible to post reviews, interviews, features.
Finally I have to capture all of that in an engaging and aesthetic way and present it to my followers across all social media platforms, and try to grow that following. You wanna walk away from a project knowing you left nothing on the table, so right now that means that I’m on my phone and laptop every waking hour looking for opportunities to have my work seen and heard!
What keeps you going when things get tough in the music industry?
Bulletproof self-belief. I didn’t always have it. I think there were times when I doubted myself and if I was strong enough as a singer, or as a songwriter, or if I was making the right sort of music or presenting it in the right way, but I have had a pretty good run over the past few years and I’m learning on the job, and I’m building a niche following who are responsive.
Ultimately though, the belief comes from within, knowing that yes, this is my voice, these are my songs, my stories, these are my visuals, and if commercial radio stations decline to play me, I take no offence, I know that it has nothing to do with the quality of my record, or the viability of me as an artist. I’ve got to a point where I’m very comfortable in my skin, and when I feel I’ve outgrown it as an artist, I’ll shed it and become the next incarnation of myself.
How can our readers follow you online?
My official website is a good place to start, at www.iamrobertoconnor.com, and of course I’m on all the usual outlets like Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify. You can find all of those links on my site. If you’d like to get to know me as an artist, my Spotify playlist ‘I Am Robert O’Connor’ is a solid introduction to my journey so far.
Emika Love: Rising Music Artist Spreading Positivity
Meet Emika Love, a 19-year-old rising music artist from Sacramento, California. Emika’s unique sound and style are heavily influenced by her love for visuals and storytelling. In this interview, Emika shares how she tackles challenges in the music industry, her creative process, and her focus on making a positive impact on others through her music and interactions. With a big release coming up on May 19th, Emika is all geared up to bring her best self and leave a lasting impression on her listeners.
Honk: Let’s kick things off by getting to know each other a bit better. Tell us your name, age, and where you’re from—as much or as little as you’re comfortable sharing.
Emika: My name is Emika Love, and I am 19 years old. I am from Sacramento, California.
Honk: We all need good advice from time to time. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about music?
Emika: The best advice I got from someone about music was to never stop and to keep pushing my music. One song might not be your favorite, but to someone else, it will be. It’s all about preference. The advice I would give someone is to be unapologetically yourself. It is essential to reach your highest potential!
Honk: If you could go back in time, what would you do differently based on what you know now?
Emika: If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change anything. Everything I do, I stand by. I never have regrets, nor do I ever feel guilty. This is me, and every step and era I had and made was to make me have all the knowledge I have now. I am very blessed, honored, and thankful for everything and everyone.
Honk: We all face challenges, but what’s your biggest one yet?
Emika: My biggest challenge is that I love challenges.
Honk: What keeps you motivated and moving forward when things get tough in the music industry?
Emika: The thing that keeps me motivated is that I know where there’s good, there’s bad, and where there is bad, there’s good. Life only gets more complex, but you get stronger. Being able to do what I love is always the solution. So no matter how tough they are, diamonds need pressure. Nothing can take away from my music and motivation because, in the end, I’m doing it for myself and my people. There are going to be challenges, but bring them on.
Honk: If you had the chance to open a show for any artist, who would it be and why?
Emika: If I had the chance to open a show for any artist, it would be Taylor Swift. She brings such a warm, genuine atmosphere to the stage. Very feminine and whimsical energy, and just an all-around powerful, groovy tone. I believe we would bring an undeniable vibration to the stage.
Honk: Take us through your creative process. How do you come up with your excellent work?
Emika: My creative process is definitely all over the place and comes in so many forms. I usually start off with the visual side of things. So I will create a story visual in my head and say, “Now let’s tell the story. The visual part comes with me being a director, so it really sparks my creative process. Once I come up with the story, it’s time to tell it. I like to sit in the sink in my bathroom, look in the mirror, and sing melodies until I come up with the words. There will also be times where I will have a conversation with someone or read or hear about something that sparks it up as well. Once I come up with all of that, then the wardrobe and makeup come in to finish off the story.
Honk: We all struggle with productivity and scheduling at times. How do you tackle these issues and stay on top of things?
Emika: Productivity I don’t struggle with productivity, but there are times when I get scheduled for something, and the dates and times collide. I tackle this based on the cause. What is the job for? Is it for a good cause? Am I making an impact in others lives? It all depends on what is more effective for not just me but for others.
Honk: What are you currently focusing your time and energy on?
Emika: I am currently focusing on how to help others and have a positive impact on them. It is imperative to me that I leave a mark, add to people’s lives, and help them overcome some obstacles. I do that, whether it is to talk to them in person or through my music. I am also focusing on my music. I have a big release coming out on May 19th that has a message that people need to hear. That being the case, it is a project that holds a lot of weight in my heart. So I’m super focused on that and, all around, being the best Emika Amber Love.
Honk: Lastly, how can our readers follow you online?
Emika: To follow me online, you can find my music on all platforms as Emika Love, and my social media accounts are as follows: Instagram: eemikalove; Twitter: eemikalove; TikTok: emikalovee; YouTube: Emika Love; and Facebook: Emika Love.
Emika Love is a force to be reckoned with. Her unapologetic attitude towards being herself, pushing boundaries, and taking on challenges is inspiring. She creates from a place of authenticity, and her creative process is as unique as her music. With a big release on the horizon, Emika is focused on making a positive impact through her music and helping others overcome obstacles. Follow her journey on social media and join her mission to leave a lasting mark on the world.
DJ Skilz Returns to the DJ Scene as “The Scratch Enforcer”
Scratch DJs have been an integral part of the music industry for decades, with their unique style and technique often setting them apart from other types of DJs. Among the most prominent names in the world of scratch DJs is DJ Skilz, whose journey to the top of the industry began in New York in 1989. Since then, Skilz has achieved a level of success that few others in his field can match, with his innovative approach to DJing and his close partnership with American DJ helping to propel him to the forefront of the industry. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Skilz’s career, his rise to fame, and the impact he’s had on the world of scratch DJing.
Skilz’s success didn’t stop there, as he continued to push the boundaries of scratch DJing with his unique style and techniques. He gained a reputation for his ability to seamlessly blend different genres of music, creating a sound that was entirely his own. Skilz also became known for his creative use of turntables and mixers, incorporating scratching, beat juggling, and other techniques into his performances. His skills and innovation earned him the respect of his peers and a legion of fans around the world. In addition to his work with American DJ, he was able to take his DJing to new heights, performing at major events and festivals across the world. Today, DJ Skilz’s achievements and contributions to the world of scratch DJing remain a fixture in the world of scratch DJing, continuing to inspire and influence the next generation of DJs to follow in his footsteps.
Skilz’s return to the DJ scene was met with great excitement from fans and peers alike, eager to see what new tricks and techniques he had up his sleeve. Skilz quickly proved that he hadn’t lost his touch, seamlessly integrating his classic vinyl skills with new digital technologies and software. He also continued to showcase his ability to blend different genres of music, creating unique and memorable sets that kept audiences on their feet. Skilz’s comeback was also a reminder of his enduring influence on the world of scratch DJing, as he continued to inspire a new generation of DJs to pursue their passion and strive for greatness. With Skilz back in the mix, the world of scratch DJing is sure to be in for many more years of innovation and excitement.
From his early days in New York to his rise to the top of the industry, Skilz’s career has been defined by his relentless drive to innovate and push the boundaries of what’s possible in scratch DJing. His legacy is felt not just in his own work but in the creation of countless DJs around the world who have been inspired by his example. Skilz’s enduring impact on the DJ world is a testament to his talent, creativity, and unwavering dedication to his craft. As the world of scratch DJing continues to evolve, DJ Skilz remains a towering figure, a true pioneer whose influence will be felt for generations to come.
Connect with DJ Skilz on Instagram | Spotify
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