::UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL:: WITH ALISON CROCKETT
By: Nakera Lee
Alison spoke openly to TheSoulcialista about the greatest influences on her artistry, being labeled “the politically-charged artist of the 21st century, the current state of the industry and how she maintains her soulful expression and relevance, visions for her career in the industry over the next 5 to 10 years and the magnitude of artist recognition and compensation in the industry today.
One of the topics that stuck out must in this amazing interview with Alison Crockett came at the beginning of the conversation:
TheSoulcialista: I have a series of questions for you and you can be as open and candid as you would like to be with them and I am just interested in seeing how you answer each question. The first question that I have for you, being an artist in this industry for many years and having as much experience and knowledge as you have, what are some of the greatest influences that have played a role in your artistry?
Alison Crockett: Lets see, well I started off by listening a lot. My father was a jazz pianist and so he would sit and listen to music ALL night for long periods of time and so I got a lot of that as a young person. I listened to a lot of John Coltrane, Count Basie, Nancy Wilson, Chaka Chan, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Lou Rawls, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Stevie Wonder just a huge variety of people that before I was even 12 I you know I had heard all of these things a thousand times. All of these artists and as I grew older I got more into those specific artists, I like to listen to Sting, Take 6, & Anita Baker, & Sade and I mean just you name it. I just listen to a lot of different people; I’m a big Janet Jackson fan. I like to listen anybody who’s out there that has something interesting to say, I like to listen to them.
TS: Interesting… I like the fact that you touched on a lot of the people who are LEGENDS in the industry and I can definitely say that from doing a little research on you I feel like you pull a lot of those elements into your music and that’s definitely something that resonates across your work so I love that about your work.
AC: Well thank. I try very hard to be who I am but you know an artist by who you can hear where they’re coming from, so I’m glad that you hear that.
TS: Yes, I definitely think that’s important in today’s music with a lot of things sounding the same. I think it’s important when an artist can actually draw from other elements and still make it their own, so you don’t have to listen to a carbon copy of something that’s already been out in the industry before. So, that’s definitely what we love at Gypsy Soul about your music.
AC: Beautiful, Thank you
"Whatever is interesting to you will probably be interesting to someone else, it is difficult to cut through all of the chatter and all of the noise with so much social media, but you know you just do what you can do and eventually people see..."
TS: Not a problem, with the current states of the music industry today and its constantly evolving and ever changing, how do you maintain your soulful expression and remain relevant in the industry?
AC: Gosh, the only way to do it is perseverance. I mean I wish that there were a formula to kind of figure it out, but there isn’t. You just have to kind of keep knocking and keep working and keep creating art, keep asking people to purchase it and come out to your shows…keep new content coming keep interest happening. Whatever is interesting to you will probably be interesting to someone else, it is difficult to cut through all of the chatter and all of the noise with so much social media, but you know you just do what you can do and eventually people see or people like what they hear or see and you know keep on keeping on that’s how a lot of independent artists are doing things and that’s pretty much it.
TS: Well, that’s definitely good to know. I can say that I’m a little younger with experience in the industry and I’m still growing and I’m learning and I’m person who likes to research where different artists come from and how different artists like I said before they pull different elements into their craft. I’m always interested in finding out what it is that artists are doing to set themselves apart from other artists in the industry and how they can use that not necessarily a formula, but what it is that they are using to not be overshadowed.
AC: Right now, it's almost just you have to be who you are. I wish that there were a magic formula because if there were I would be using it. The best thing is to be you and to just put yourself out there as much as you possibly can in the best quality that you can produce. That’s kind of how it is that can make it through. I really do feel for younger artists at this particular point because there are not as many outlets to perform and there are more outlets to perform. You can do YouTube, but everybody does YouTube. Everybody does all these other things and anybody can put something together and you have about 10 minutes to capture people’s attention and once those 10 minutes are over they’ve moved on to the next thing because there is just so much content. The reason people come to you is because you have something special and that’s it and you just have to keep being you as much as you physically can. There’s only one of you and that’s what I always try to do. I don’t fit in many different perimeters I just don’t and I’m not upset about that. I wasn’t upset about it then and I’m not upset about it now. It’s frustrating and people don’t always understand what you do, but those who do really do and that’s it. I think that the state of the music industry is always going to be influx for now on until technology starts cooling out which is not going to happen anytime soon, so we might as well get used to it, go with the flow.
"My first record on becoming a woman was about me literally becoming a woman and love, marriage, and feeling like am I a woman?"
TS: I was doing some research and I came across an article, I think it was another blog interview that was done with you or just a write up that someone had done on you and they referred to you as the “politically charged artist of the 21st century, my question is, how has your artistry driven that belief?
AC: Gosh, with my latest record Mommy, What’s a Depression? is based out of conversations I had with my brother who is my producer as well, and we used to watch all the Sunday talk shows and read a whole bunch of papers and articles and we would debate about what has happened in government and the press and the whole thing and we thought about politics and we just had a grand old time talking about it and so we decided to make a record about our conversations using a lot of music, some of the music I wrote and arrangements I had made of music I just enjoyed. I come from a diverse background so I did Jazz, I did Blues, I did Soul, I did R&B, I mean I just kind of put on there what I liked and then made some songs that I wrote that I liked and my brother, Teddy Crockett, decided that he was just going to go crazy and that’s what he did. He just did all of the things that he wanted to do we just created something that we really really liked and I guess in terms of being politically-charged, my career has always been, I talk about what is going on in my life at the moment.
AC: My first record on becoming a woman was about me literally becoming a woman and love, marriage, and feeling like am I a woman? You're 25 years old you feel like you don’t feel like a woman you just feel like a girl and you're just a girl with bills and now you have responsibilities and Mommy’s not there to help and when in your 30’s you start thinking about you know life and having kids and how you're going to live those things.
AC: My 2nd record, Bare, that was a love letter to my fans and that was about love songs and needs and I had a song about children or my first child and all the things that I wanted to talk about at that moment and this last record is about I’m a grown women, and I’ll say this, I’m a grown ASS women. I own my own home, and I have things and I’m trying to make sure that my children are successful and I’m trying to make the world a better place for them and for myself and when you do that and start noticing the things what’s around you and when you grow up you start noticing WOW isn’t that some Shit look at this? I need to XYZ and you need to talk about it or let people have conversations.
AC: One of my goals is to always to have people have conversations about stuff REAL conversations about things that I don’t think that we like to do. We like to have conversations amongst friends but we don’t like to have it in public discourse because it makes us uncomfortable and so you know we don’t want to talk about esterification we don’t want to talk about it because in some respects we like it, its nice you know we have nice restaurants you don’t have any crime but where do the poor people go they had to go some place and so you have to figure out how to deal with that when your dealing with immigration you know there people who just want to come because they just want a better life and what do you do about wages and where they are going to be educated and what do you do about all that stuff.
AC: So these are all the things that we need to talk about and you know I’m a mom and I’m a hustler so I wrote a song about me hustling having millions of jobs and doing all the things I needed to do to make money at a time of recession and depression and just trying to get through that I as an artist want to speak about that and who knows what my next project will be it will be about what it is that I’m thinking about at that time maybe I want to take about love again I like to talk about things I don’t solve issues I just place them there and I like to say that I do little snap shots or sound portraits of about 30 seconds and I don’t solve the problem, I don’t even pose the question I say here that is what it is, go about it and discuss. Just like looking into a picture or painting you don’t know what the artist was thinking about you only know how that art affects you and you discuss it and you think about it and that’s how I like to think about my music. I like to think that it is relevant to your life. You know booty shaking is relevant too but just not relevant to you life 24 hours in the day. It’s relevant in your life for many about an hour.
"I've had this, where I've gotten 70,000 plays on one song and I get paid $1. I mean, you can't eat off of that."
TS: We have been observing your Facebook page and you've been speaking out about the [digital] royalty rates and about how low they've been. Do you think it's going to get any better?
AC: I don't. I mean I think that it's a tough situation. I understand that Internet radio doesn't make a huge amount of money...I shouldn't say that. I don't know what it makes but it's probably not huge, in some respects. In some respects they do. It's very tough. You got to make it so that artists can make a living. And if you have, and I've had this, where I've gotten 70,000 plays on one song and I get paid $1. I mean, you can't eat off of that. You know, that's not a million plays but 70,000 plays is A LOT of play. And that's just one song. I have a rather large catalogue and if I can't make a living then you know...artists still have to be able to eat. When I was coming up, artists could make a living. They didn't have to sleep on anybody's couch. Now, a lot of artists do a lot of touring. You could tour regionally, you could tour outside of the country, you could do things in and around your area. You could put out records, it was harder to put out records because the technology wasn't there...well, it wasn't easily accessible, let me put it that way. But you know, you could make a living and raise a family. But if you can't make a living and raise a family on your music, you must do something else. Everybody ages and everybody needs to eat. I don't see how it's going to shift because there's too many interests and there are too many people willing to put their out and not make any money.
TS: What do you forecast for the music industry and for your career for the next 5 to 10 years?
AC: Oh my! Well, I can't talk about the music industry because we don't know what technology is to bring on the forefront. We have no clue how the phone...and how you know, we're going to beam ourselves up to some magical universe and we'll be listening to music, literally, on a cloud. So we don't know what's going to happen. Me, I'm just going to keep on cranking out music. I do a lot of teaching and mentoring of people, I'm going to be releasing a book soon. So, I mean, I'm just continuing out with this music, performing and doing what I can to spread my art.
Over the course of the interview, Alison Crockett expressed what makes her most passionate about her artistry and it all boils down to wanting to be apart of change and making a positive impact on those who are willing to listen. For those of you who may not know, we encourage you to #GetFamiliar and #Soulcialize with Alison Crockett and all the amazing work that she has to offer.
Our special thanks to Alison Crockett for such a wonderful and informative interview!