About Me (from the beginning):
I almost didn’t sing. Growing up in a suburb of Houston, Texas, I started playing the violin at age 5, so I guess there have always been melodies in my head. But music (except for Christmas time and the odd Anita Baker CD), and especially singing were discouraged at home. Instead, CNN and MSNBC were on constant loop (my mother was a history teacher, my father a jack of all trades). I loved playing the violin (even being left handed), but I really became fascinated with acting, and reading almost every book I could find. And of course learning about the outside world. Travel and global awareness were given much importance from a very early age.
It wasn’t until 5th grade that I started to get into record music, after a friend in class was talking about The Offspring album, Smash. He got me the CD for my birthday and I remember wearing out. It was just so loud and rebellious and I was hooked.
Not only did I begin adamantly listening and collecting CDs (everything from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Madonna to Alanis Morisette), I also became infatuated with any and all music coming from the UK, buying Q Magazine at Barnes and Noble every month and listening to almost every artist they discussed. By high school I was devoutly listening to artists from the UK, Radiohead, Travis, Coldplay. When my school took a trip to the UK in 9th grade, I pretty much had my walkman on the entire time listening to all of these artists so I could feel the music in the place it was made.
But back to singing. In 7th grade, I auditioned for the school play and one of the audition requirements was to sing. I didn’t know any songs, so I just learned and sang The Grinch song because the show was How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I just remember that I really really wanted to be in that show.
The audition prompted both the drama and choir teacher to call my parents and basically demand that I join choir. At first, my mother was adamantly against it because I would have to quit orchestra, but finally they were able to convince her.
Singing remained foreign to me for most of high school, as I was suddenly thrust into a world of musicals and all state choir auditions. I liked musicals because I had always loved acting, and though I definitely didn’t have the training I was willing to learn.
A turning point was attending Northwestern University where I decided to focus on theatre and also joined an a cappella group, Melodious Thunk. Thunk changed my life and it also taught me how to “sing” because we focused on music that was from the radio and also independent artists. I remember freshman year we were recording our album, and I was in the booth for the first time recording my solo “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.” The engineer and the music director from the group would stare at me in disbelief and then whisper to each other. I was so nervous I was doing something wrong, completely aloof to the fact that they actually just couldn’t get over my voice.
Still, I wasn’t thinking about a career in music. In my a cappella group we had started an initiative in South Africa doing outreach, and this was not only a big passion, but a huge responsibility and focus. Also, I knew I wanted to live in New York City and so I would need to get a job to do that and musical theatre seemed like the answer.
Shortly after graduating (and a short stint as a server at Nobu Tribeca), I landed the role as the Simba Cover in the Broadway Company of The Lion King. In addition, the project I had started in University evolved into an arts outreach organization, Broadway in South Africa, co-founded and supported by some of the brightest talent in New York City.
One day, after singing Maroon 5 at an after party for Broadway shows I went to the restroom and a guy came in and kept saying how I could actually have a career in music, because I had that kind of voice. I kind of laughed, but he said “I’m serious” in this really serious, listen to me or you’ll regret it tone, and it stuck with me.
So I decided to put up a concert in NYC. The first was just covers, but lots of people came. For the second it was at Joe’s Pub and I wanted to try and do some sort of original music. A friend of mine taught me how to write a song and I did two originals that another friend helped me craft on guitar. The show was sold out and people were really supportive. But I didn’t like that everyone was sitting down the whole time. I wanted to dance and I wanted people to also dance.
I soon booked an original role in a new Broadway show and between this and running Broadway in South Africa (which included going to South Africa twice a year) it didn’t leave much time to explore music. But after I was replaced right before the show opened in NYC, I was depressed and looking for new inspiration. Finally, the time came to focus on music. And so I went to L.A.
I had interned on the set of The West Wing (the TV show) in High School and though I absolutely loved that experience, had sort of also decided LA wasn’t for me. But I was willing to give it a try, especially because I wanted to do music. But I got to L.A. and a lot of people that I knew and the circle around me were acting and so I thought, why aren’t I acting also? So I did a play, got a job waiting tables, started taking acting classes, and started writing TV pilots and filming sketches, and got a manager trying to get noticed. I didn’t really focus on the music at all. After a while I just felt burnt out and I was missing NYC. So I decided it was time to move back, but instead I wound up in Berlin.
I had been inspired by the electronic scene of Europe since my trip in high school and through time in Barcelona and Berlin. And with love as a push I thought I would try and record a bit of music in the city.
I was totally naive to how anything worked or how long it would take and so before I knew it, I had been in Berlin for almost three months and I was applying for an artist visa to continue trying to make new music. It was sort of perfect timing. My not for profit was at a closing point as many of our students were now preparing for University, and many of the artists that had helped grow it were starting to explode in their own rights.
So I stayed put in Berlin with a midi keyboard and Ableton (a music production software), and tried to start writing songs. I wasn’t sure if they were good or not and I kept having the itch to perform so I started going outside with an amp and a microphone to try out material. I was also singing at open mics almost twice a week and the response was quite good so I decided that I was on to something.
After I got my visa, I went through a breakup, so there was a lot of material to draw on for songwriting. I had a lot of ideas, but bringing it to a proper production level was a whole other story. And I was having a hard time meeting people to work with.
At a party a friend introduced me to a DJ duo and I started singing with them in clubs in Berlin. And that, plus many weekends out dancing is how I started to really understand electronic music. I knew it was how I could best express myself, especially drawing from Chicago House and Detroit Techno, which had these amazing singers singing “about something,” and these dirty beats, which just made you lose yourself.
What’s so crazy is that I had no clue that this music was from Detroit and Chicago even though my mom was from there, and I was American. I had definitely heard some essence of these vibes out in NYC but I definitely had no clue why I felt such a connection to the genre.
In 2014 I successfully crowdfunded my debut EP via Kickstarter, which reached #3 on the iTunes dance charts in Sweden. In 2016, my rework of Adele’s “Hello” and my collaboration with Millesim, “Another Sunrise,” both went viral, charting on the Spotify viral charts in Germany, France, and Switzerland, as well as the dance charts in France. “Hello” received international radio play, and an official release via Universal Music France. In 2016, I curated the musical content for the Corona Sunset Sessions in Sweden performing and djing for over thirty events. My recent releases have been supported by Sam Feldt, DeHofnar, the Him, and Ariana Grande.
Currently, I am working on the music project ://NMDS LND, which is a reflection of both my own nomadic journey as well as the current global situation. I also contribute to Huffington Post Online about the global electronic music scene.
And now, I actually can't stop singing.