Better known to the internet-world as Gunnarolla, Ontario-native Andrew Gunadie has been bringing his original, ecclectic mix of music, comedy and vlogs on YouTube for more than six years. In that time his channel has garnered over eleven-million views, fuelled by an avid fanbase that Andrew is constantly engaging and several ongoing video series like “We Are What You Tweet”, “New State Plates” and “Songs About People”. (more…)
In a genre rife with posturing and boasts about shallow excesses, Massachusetts-native Alyssa Marie stands out by bringing heart and soul to the rap world. Her words come from the gut and boldly dig into the emotion of her subject matter with an honesty and wisdom far beyond her twenty-four years.
Alyssa has been honing her craft since the age of fifteen and since 2009 has been posting verses on YouTube. In that time, her channel has surpassed two-million views and now with three releases under her belt -most recently 2012’s full-legth album HeartBeat– and another due by the end of the year, people are definitely starting to take notice.
GREG: I know you had started out writing poetry, and being a published poet at that. How did you transition from that into rapping?
ALYSSA: I’ve been writing poetry for as long as I can remember, I’m not really sure when or how I started to write rap lyrics. I’ve always been a fan of music and hip hop specifically and I think it started as just another outlet for my writing. It’s not like I was writing poetry then stopped and decided to rap instead; I was writing poetry first, then somewhere along the line began to write rhymes and rap lyrics. Eventually the two just merged together and created the conscious style of rap that I write now.
As your career was starting up, did you have any major influences or mentors along the way?
As far as rappers I listened to at the beginning stages of my own development as an artist, I’d say Nas, Eminem, Pac, Kis, Fabolous, Rakim, Bone Thugz, Luda, Pun, Banks, and a bunch of others that I can’t think of at the moment. As I got older I was better at finding my own people to listen to and got into some more poetic rappers.
If you download the album W!se Reborn (here), that’s who I’d call my mentor. Martin (“Wise”) was the first person to put me on a track; he offered music and life advice I still put to use every day. I don’t know where I’d be without him. Unfortunately, he passed away a few weeks after we had a falling out and I never got to tell him that, but I’ll never forget it.
Seemingly, hip-hop still really appears to be very predominantly a “boys’ club”, much more than any other genre of contemporary music. Did you find it hard gaining acceptance at the outset? Do you still?
It’s definitely a two-sided coin. On one side of it, you get the “wow” factor just being a female that can handle a mic. It’s easier to impress people and get them to show their friends like “yo, look at this chick rip it!”, but I think it’s significantly more difficult to be taken serious. You may get that first reaction which is cool, but how many people are going to download your stuff and put you in with their favorite rappers? Sure, maybe their favorite female rappers, but that’s not what I’m in it for. I don’t rap about gender specific things, I’m just trying to share my stories and be heard. It’s just not as socially acceptable in hip hop to name a female as one of your favorite rappers without putting “female” in front of it. I’m patient though, there’s enough open minded people to make it worth it.
One thing that has always stood out to me most in your music is that really seems to come from the soul, that its very true to yourself. Is having that honest connection with your audience important to you?
It’s extremely important to me. I know what it’s like to turn to music hoping to feel understood or feel like a song was written for you. Coming across someone who you can relate to so honestly is a beautiful thing, it’s and even more intense experience being on the artist side of it. Reading mail or comments from people saying you saved their life with your words, there’s nothing that can describe that feeling. I have pride in what I do, my music is an enormous part of who I am and if I’m not truthful with that, I’m lying to myself.
Your YouTube channel is just shy of hitting thirty-thousand subscribers and over two million views. How big of a factor has that been in getting your work noticed?
YouTube has been a huge tool in escalating my music career up to now. From entering contests to remixing songs, it’s jump started my success and still serves a great purpose in getting my work out there. Though it was difficult to break free of the “YouTube Rapper” stigma, I wouldn’t be where I am without it.
Your most recent album HeartBeat went through a lot of growth from its inception to its release. Can you tell us a bit about what happened there and what your approach was?
A big majority of HeartBeat was written and recorded all in a three week timespan. It started out as a completely different project with different songs and vibes, but throughout the creation of it more than half of them were cut out and new songs were added. I was lucky to have Beatblocked be so helpful in the engineering side of it because we were literally still recording forty minutes prior to the digital release of the record.
In a recent vlog update, you teased an upcoming project called No Parades On Easy Street. Is there any more detail we can get on that?
This passed winter I went out to visit my sister who was going to school out in Hawaii. I got there and ended up falling in love with it and decided to stay with her until she came home at the end of May. We were literally eating one meal a day and could barely even afford that, but we made it work and I was able to write this new record in the process. Again, even since leaving Hawaii I’ve altered the track list and cut/added songs, but the majority was still made out there. It’s coming soon though, just tying up loose ends.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Any parting thoughts you’d like to share?
Thanks for having me, I hope everyone reading this keeps checking for me as I continue trying to figure this confusing career out.
Pure Volume: www.purevolume.com/new/AlyssaMarieMusic
With his action and stunt-filled short films, director Leo Kei Angelos has started making a name for himself online. His forays into fan films have especially made people take notice. The Vietnamese-born Angelos immigrated to the United States to pursue his dream of making movies in 2006 and with his recent move from New York to Los Angeles and the imminent release of his long awaited Harry Potter-inspired webseries, Auror’s Tale, that dream looks like its just around the corner. (more…)
What’s this? A video interview with Toronto based indy band, Running Red Lights. These talented musicians met up with Gregory Milne for our first ever On Air Google Hangout. With a new single and a tour of the Pacific Northwest coming this September, they shared their music live from their place and gave us an intimate concert. The first of many live video interviews that we stream on our Google+ page. Make sure you follow us there and come join in on the fun.
Most of Danielle Anderson’s videos are shot simply in her bedroom, other rooms in her home or just simply where she sits down. Her silly, sometimes childish sense of humor comes through right away. Her musical moniker, Danielle Ate The Sandwich, is a perfect example of that very fun personality. The music that comes with that, however, is beautiful, heartfelt and instantly relatable.
Currently touring the United States, the ukulele-wielding, Nebraska-native took a little time out to chat with me about her work: (more…)
When he started performing in his University days in the Boston area, rapper and comedian Zach Sherwin had branded himself MC Mr. Napkins. Sporting some trademark wild hair and attire, MC Mr. Napkins had built himself a solid following, appearing on E!, VH1, Just For Laughs and has been featured in several videos online over the years. At the tail-end of 2010, after re-locating to Los Angeles, he released MC Mr. Napkins: The Album on Comedy Central Records. Not long after that, Sherwin made his first appearance on the hugely popular Epic Rap Battles of History series on YouTube, portraying a furious Albert Einstein, and would soon join the team as a writer and recurring performer. We would also continue to see new MC Mr. Napkins music videos appear on his own YouTube page right up until the end of 2012. (more…)
“It isn’t bad for a genre book.”
I loathe hearing that. I loathe the casual dismissal of quality based on the idea of genre, this bullshit superiority some people get over the trappings of a story rather than the story itself. And it’s always bullshit, because good stories stand the test of time and the critics that whip out this haughty and meaningless old gem are always forgotten.
You get this crap a lot in literary circles, this idea that your work somehow loses significance because of the trappings of story, like somehow story is made less because of the inclusion of some genre specific trope. Industrial Age critics dismiss fantasy and science-fiction and horror as genre, and smirk a little, and then go on to speak of the literary greats, like Tolkien and Wells and Stoker… who were into fantasy and science fiction and horror. (more…)
Aaron Golden – co-founder of Living Myth Media, writer, dreamer, and lover of Mango. I sat down to talk with him about his ideas on writing and discovered that writing is really just the tool he uses the most for his real passion. Building narrative and crafting stories, these are the driving purposes that define him. Aaron asserts that narrative is the framework we use to make sense of our existence; our lives are stories, he says, and we use archetypes of them as a template for our social roles, theological systems, even our values. He claims that these concepts are based on a kind of story we have create over the course of our lives. When looking at stories from this perspective, they become far more than just entertainment; they become the seeds of creation. The transformative power in hearing a story is well-known and that is what drives Aaron to write, and while writing might be the word, in the beginning there was the storyteller.