Meet ArinMaya


This beautiful brown poet and songstress is a delightful soul to speak to, and incredibly talented.  I had an opportunity to interview this Goddess from Chicago, and was relieved to find that there was still, yet another artist who despite the compelling circus of the mainstream, remains true to herself and true to the legendary craft of creating timeless SOUL.

Find the audio interview below, along with her bio and links to learn more about her and her art…

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Upcoming Shows:

Jan 14 & 28 – Williamsburg, Brooklyn – Pates & Traditions Restaurant

Jan 29 – Montclair, NJ – HeART Gallery Feature

Feb 10 – Harlem, NYC – Billie’s Black – Spoken Soul Feature

March 25 – Harlem, NYC – Harlem Stage – Soul: Remixed, Revisited, Reconstructed

Video links: (these are performances and interviews)!/video/video.php?v=463506842322 closed performance of “lemon drops” summer 2010


Brooklyn-based artist ArinMaya is a singer/songwriter with her soul wide open. Her style cannot be contained but is often characterized as graceful and healing, whether she’s scatting through standards, riffing to R&B or improvising over electro-beat. Her voice culls audiences to remember the sensuality and mystery of Sade, the deep hurt of Billie, and the wisdom of Nina. And her songwriting sends audiences to a hopeful, sometimes private place where they are comforted, satiated and affirmed.

Hailing from Chicago, ArinMaya was born into the arms of two music-loving parents whose record collections spanned from Paul Simon’s Graceland to almost every album released by Sweet Honey in the Rock, from show tunes like Ain’t Misbehavin’ to Pharoah Saunders and Stevie Wonder’s entire discographies. From age 5 she wanted to be in every choir possible, and she was. ArinMaya participated as section leader or soloist in Trinity United Church of Christ’s children’s and youth choirs, the Chicago Children’s Choir, the Community Renewal Society’s All God’s Children and every single choir she could join in high school at the Latin School of Chicago. She even gave strong voice to the teenage and women’s drill teams at church, filling the 3,000-seater sanctuary (sans microphone) every other Sunday with “I’ve got a feeling, I’ve got a feeling church, I’ve got a feeling the TUCC drill team’s gonna step for Christ.”

In college at Howard University, her focus was studying, but she did get to stretch her lungs out for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority as a song leader and briefly in Howard’s Gospel Choir, then led by Richard Smallwood. A year-long exchange at Stanford allowed the songstress to join the popular Everyday People a cappella with whom she toured and recorded an album.

Though music was never far from her mind, it took a few years of dedicated yet unfulfilling work in New York for her to step out onto the tightrope of her dreams. At the end of 2007, ArinMaya took the bold step of leaving her job to leave for Paris—city of light. While in Europe, she also visited Berlin so that by the time she was heading back to the states, she had explored and become more comfortable with performing solo for audiences at such venues as The Swan Bar, Le Blue Note, and Cotton Club Berlin, sharing the stage with artists like Mario Canonge, Catia Werneck, and Fumi Tokie.

ArinMaya’s return to the states only confirmed she had been traveling in the right direction and she has been writing, collaborating and performing ever since at venues such as Brooklyn’s Joloff Restaurant, D.C.’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, and New York’s world-famous Blue Note, to name a few.

Her debut recording, The Sound of ArinMaya, was released in Spring 2010 and continues to be well-received and downloaded by audiences worldwide. 2011 will prove to be even more exciting, as the singer plans to release her first full-length recording with long-time collaborator and guitarist, Nick Cassarino, as well as some other collaborative projects.

ArinMaya has grown and continues to grow into a widely sought after artist and looks forward to spreading her love for the craft and artistry of music to audiences worldwide.

Interview With Avery*Sunshine

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Today we have the great blessing to speak with Avery*Sunshine and understand a little bit more about her wonderful voice, talent and positivity.  With the release of her debut album last summer, she has brought an energy to the genre, that was lacking in my opinion.  You can gather that vibe from her music, watching her perform or just hearing her in a voicemail. (Which I had the pleasure to receive, I will never delete):)  Anyway, if you haven’t picked up the album please do, and give yourself a treat.  Also, if you are in the Memphis, she will be performing at The Vine this Saturday January 15th.  You know I will be there.

Soulified: With the release of your debut album last summer, how has your career changed?

Avery*Sunshine: We are definitely a lot busier!!! The album helps to increase awareness.

Soulified: What was the message that you were trying to convey to your fans with that album?

Avery*Sunshine: I wanted to encourage people to not be afraid of honesty. I hope that my honesty and “realness” (That word is not in the dictionary lol) encourages others to be honest and real. From that honesty will flow healing and from that healing will flow “SHINEABILITY”: the ability to SHINE! . (I made that word up too.) ;)

Soulified: As each song is an intimate creation of talent, heart and soul, what song had the most meaning to you on this album, if you had to narrow one down?

Avery*Sunshine: They are all very meaningful to me. If I’d have to pick,  I’d choose UGLY.  From that tune we were able to create an album. The vocals on that tune were recorded in my closet!!!!

Soulified: I really enjoyed your video “All In My Head”. What songs are next to make the transitions to a music video?  Why was that one picked to be the first?

Avery*Sunshine: Thank you! We thought that the story of ALL IN MY HEAD would visually be interesting. We hope that it was! I GOT SUNSHINE and PININ’ will be next!

Soulified: I love that you are touring, even to the smaller cities like Memphis. How has the experience been for you?

Avery*Sunshine: The touring experience is very close to my heart. I am privileged to have the opportunity to travel the world doing what I love to do. BLESSED.

Soulified: Since you gave your fans such a great album last summer, what are you plans for the next album?

Avery*Sunshine: First of all, THANK YOU. Secondly, the thought of creating another album is TERRIFYING but a feat we intend to take on nonetheless!!! We, my music partner Dana Johnson and I, plan to write from our hearts again and see what happens. Wherever God leads, we’re gonna follow!  Can’t go wrong that way. I’d like to have a few guest artists on the album too. (We’ll let you know if Prince agrees!!!) I’M KIDDING!!! well… ;)

Soulified: I can tell by your music, videos and just how you carry yourself. How do you keep your positive nature and outlook?

Avery*Sunshine: Prayer. My family. My friends. Music. Getting rest when I need it and being adamant about having personal time to “re-up”.

Soulified: With the growth of twitter and facebook as ways for artists to connect directly with the fans, what method do you prefer and what was the most surprising thing that you have noticed about the increased fan connection?

Avery*Sunshine: I am both a Twitter and Facebook junkie. When I first started, I was surprised that people were actually interested in the seemingly mundane things that I was doing!!! Now I realize that the social networks allow artists to have the necessary connection with the people who help to make the artists who they are. I was not a fan initially. Now, I’M SOLD!!!!

Soulified: So what are you plans for your music in 2011?

Avery*Sunshine: We intend to continue  our touring to further increase awareness about the project. Of course we’ll be making more music too. ;)

Soulified: Thank your for your time, and best wishes.

Avery*Sunshine: Thank you Eric for your interest!!!  I’m Honored!

An Interview with Conya Doss

Conya Doss was able to take some time out of busy schedule to answer a few questions about her and the recent release “Blu Transition“.  The album is great and gives fans the hit they need to carry on.  As a long time fan, I’m very pleased and now can’t wait for the next one. :)  Enjoy the interview. Album review is coming shortly.

Soulified: If you had 4 words to describe music, what would they be?

Conya Doss: Smooth, soulful, heartfelt, and raw.

Soulified: Why did you choose this time to act on your inspirations to create Blu Transition?

Conya Doss: It just came naturally, I do this for every record, all is just contingent on what I am experiencing during that given time.

Soulified: Who are some of your musical influences?

Conya Doss:Bonnie Raitt, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Prince, Angela Winbush, Michelle N’Degeocello, list goes on and on.

Soulified: What is your favorite track off of the new album, and why does it stand above the rest?

Conya Doss: “Never Be The Same” because it speaks of my whole experience this past year with regards to the birth of my son Blu.  Life as I knew it will never be the same, in a great way of course.

Soulified: With the other people that worked with you on this album, who had the biggest impact?

Conya Doss: Rodney Jones, Myron Davis, Jayshawn, James Blaque, they all had something special to offer, with no one making an impact more than the other.

Soulified: How do you keep in balance the fight for creative control with the chance for major label success?

Conya Doss: It’s a constant struggle; I’d rather hold on to my creativity, I love music too much to compromise it.  However, it would be great to have “the machine” behind you.  An ideal situation would be a partnership, but that’s rare.

Soulified: Continuing with the previous question, how would you define success?

Conya Doss: When a supporter approaches me and tells me how much my music has inspired his or her life in one way or another, I have succeeded in reaching someone with my god given gift.

Soulified: Do you have a tour planned? If so what cities are on the list?

Conya Doss: Washington, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Detroit, Birmingham, new york, and hopefully more to add.

Soulified: What tunes are currently in heavy rotation that you jam to?

Conya Doss: Anthony Hamilton’s album “Ain’t No Body Worrying” and all of Raphael Saadiq’s latest joints.

Soulified: Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Conya Doss: Thanks for taking the time to listen to my music and visit my website

Thanks Sweetlocs, for the great questions and your effort.

Interview With Teresa Jenee


Recently I had time to correspond with the wonderfully unique, passionate and enlightening Teresa Jenee.  I have always heard her name, but it wasn’t until 2008 did I really pay attention and submerge into her world of genre breaking talent.  She is the epitome of the independent artist.  Her recent release of “Paint The Roses” and the “The Eklectic” album, she continues with that trend.  Enough of the chit-chat, here is the eye opening interview.


As someone who became a fan in 2008 when I heard the TeresaJenee.EP and was amazed that I hadn’t heard this voice before.  At what place in your discography would you want a new listener to start, so they can get a fuller understanding of your music?


First of all, thank you! As far as my discog goes, I would want my listeners to check out the “Remember EP”. Many here in the states don’t know that I got my break overseas as a dance music artist with Osunlade. He made ME happen with his soul house remixes of “Remember”. Shout out to James Glasco who was the writer behind that incredible song. That EP was my beginning, my first successful recording out and I feel like it gives you another side of me.


With the TeresaJenee.EP containing some songs that made it to The Ecklectic, do you feel that they are similar in expression of your creative voice?


Yes. Both projects are one in the same. The EP was my introduction.  It was my way of sharing the music with the outside in hopes that my sound would be embraced. So when the time came to make an album, I decided to extend the EP. I wanted listeners to have a connection from the EP days and enjoy some new stuff from “The Ecklectic” as well.


Being a sucker for soft yet powerful voice, when I heard “In Your Eyes” I was taken by it instantly.  Did that song have a special meaning to you, since it seemed to stand out on the EP?


Well I didn’t write it about anyone at the time…and I was far, very far from being in love! Ha! All I can say is when I first played out the melody on keys and the words started coming, I thought it was just another pretty cool love song that I was writing. But after I recorded it, it quickly became my baby. I mean, all of my songs are like my babies, but when I listened to that song in playback, I felt like…wow.


With an EP and album under your belt, what is next on your horizon for you and your artistry?  Also is “Paint The Roses” an indicator of what we can expect in a future project?


There is another release coming soon. I have the worst luck with release dates so I try not to put a date on anything anymore! But please be on look out in the months ahead.

As far as the sound of the album goes, “Paint the Roses” was just the beginning. It might be the most grounded song you will hear from me in the future.


After following your music for while, I noticed you possess a pure desire/hunger to make music, share and perform it.  What is your ultimate goal with your music, that you would consider it a success?


I want a Grammy, even if its a nom and to get back into acting. Outside of that, I’m at peace being an indie artist….traveling on the road, meeting new ppl. Hell, I live for this!


After hearing your recent release of “Paint The Roses”, which was produced by Tech Supreme, whom would you like to collaborate with in the future?


Wow, that’s a long list! I can’t think of everybody but, I would like to work with Roots, Passion Pit, Steve Aoki, Bilal, Brittany Bosco, Robert Glasper, Jazzanova, Mark Ronson, Andre 3000, I would really LOVE to work with Pharrell and N.E.R.D….their sound is KILLER.


What is the main driving force for you to have such wonderful diversity in your music?  Is it a desire to test the boundaries of music, and what we expect from it?


Definitely. I’m a rebel child…always been. I’ve always disagreed with this whole “you have to stick to a sound so people can get you” notion. No, I don’t. I also get bored very easily even with myself so I’m constantly looking at my music thinking “How can I keep things interesting?”


With the latest advances in Social Media and technology, do you think that independent artists actually are actually more in touch with their fans, and are able to get a purer high from their music than artists signed with major labels?


Hell yeah! Its the only way to be these days! This whole social media phenomenon is powerful. No longer is the control of this industry in the hands of a few suits in the corporate office upstairs. Now, every artist has just as much of a chance to connect to the masses as the major have through the years.

Not just that but to hear straight from the mouths of your fanbase is the most beautiful part of this game to me. No more guessing what the fans will love. Now you can talk directly to them…touch them…and they touch you back.


One last question. What was the most important lesson that you gathered from making your debut album “The Ecklectic”?


It takes a village! I had the darndest time pushing the album because I thought I could do it all by myself. That was a huge mistake on my end. Now I have help and the next album release will be an easier process because of it.

Thank you for taking time to give our readers and us a deeper insight into you, your talent and your music.

Your welcome :)

Interview With Zo!

Website/Twitter/Foreign Exchange Music

Zo! recently took time out of his busy schedule, to talk with us and share his thoughts on his music and SunStorm. Which was recently released to the world, to great praise.  If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, please do so ASAP.


How has the transition to being under the Foreign Exchange Music umbrella been?


Around 2005, I met Phonte. Phonte knew of my work and was a fan. On my Re: Define album, I had remix a Little Brother song. From that, our relationship grew and we decided to work together. Our first song together was “Stepping Out” on the Just Visiting album.


With your new album SunStorm, what was the motivation for this album, and what was the inspiration for the name itself, it has Roy Ayers feel to the title?


This is an auto-biographical piece. From the album cover to every song on the album, it is all me. It is about the ups and downs of my career and life.


How do you balance being a music teacher and very active artist?


It is tough. You see some artist that work 9 to 5 jobs, it’s tough for them to take a break and tour. My job as a music teacher, you would think they would embrace it. My job puts some pressures on me. My touring is a positive to the kids I teach. It shows them that you can make it and be successful doing music.


How did you hook up with Foreign Exchange?


Phonte asked me to add something to there live show. And things kept growing after that.


I Love the 80’s is a great album, what was the idea behind it?


The album came about on a dare. Me and Tay were talking about how bad some of the 80’s music was. This conversation turned into me creating a beat that sounded like “Africa” by Toto. Tay sang over it. And the project bloomed in “I Love the 80’s”. When we did “Take on me”, it was a challenge and dare. We wanted to see if we could create the song and sound good. But we also wanted to see if people would like it.


“Overdue Process” with Asylum 7 is a favorite of mine, how did that come about?


Asylum has been my boy since 2004. In Detroit, I would go to open mikes. Asylum would be there. And he would be killing them in a freestyle cipher. One day I hit him, we worked on some stuff. In those sessions, we jellied and gained respect for one another. “Overdue Process” was 4-5 years in the making. Asylum love for music is the same as mine. I think that is why we work so well together.


When I tell people about u, I say you are an R&B version of Primo.


Thanks. To be compared to him is an honor. I’m a huge Primo fan.


How did u pick the artist for this project?


Everyone, I’m real cool with and fans of. Me and Phonte are so close, I go to him to get a second opinion on beats artist. We went back and forth coming up with who would sound good on this song and that song. It was a shock to me that everyone wanted to be on the album.


Jesse Boykins, Eric Roberson, Lady Alma, Sy Smith and Foreign Exchange, I’m happy to see u showcase show indy artists that I’m huge fans of. Explain the studio sessions.


These are all my friends on the “Sunstorm” album. Yahzarah voice is so beautiful. She is one of the dopest singers in the music game today. Sy, her voice is so powerful.


How was it working with PPP?


Dope. The first time me and Wajeed did something, was on the humble. I was at his spot chilling and relaxing. I get to messing around on the Fender Rhodes. Wajeed jumped in and we ended up producing some stuff together. Wajeed is a good friend of mine. He is like a brother to me. I go him to get advance and listen to some of my work.


You mentioned this is an album about you. What is the most personal song?


All of them. I can’t pick one. They are all about me and things in my life.


What would be a dream project for you?


Working with Faith Evans would be dope. She puts it down and is very soulful. If I had the resources, I would bring back Zhane. I think they were some what unrated. I would like to see them back.


What’s in the future?


The Foreign Exchange album in October is up first. And I’m already working on my next album. Hopefully I can put it out next year.

Exclusive Bilal Interview

Well family, you heard right, we were blessed with the opportunity to get an exclusive interview with Bilal.  We were one of the few who were allowed to get a sneak peak into whats been up with the brotha and what he has in store with his latest release “Airtights Revenge.” I wont bore you with the shenanigans.  Lets get to the interview…


We know that many transitions have been made for you, eventhough you’ve consistently given your fans a genuine sound.  It is what we have come to expect of you.  What changes, if any, would you say took place between Love For Sale and Airtights Revenge


This album is more electronic.  Its so much more.  The style of writing and everything was done much differently than previous albums.  From the ground up, the goal was to do landscaping with sounds, so I used a lot more sounds and effects than previous albums.  It is a real progressive album.


Tell us a little about Airtights Revenge, what is the meaning behind it and what brought it about?


The meaning behind it… It basically started out fast.  Things were moving real fast, and then you know, my album ended up getting shelved.  I was off the label, then there was contracts and all this other bullsh*t.  The silverlining… then I started to see the sunlight come in.  Some people felt like the project I was working on was dark and some people weren’t understanding what I was doing – where I was coming from.  (slight laugh)  Then someone came up to me and told me that this album was the greatest soul record they ever heard in in their life.  I mean, when you get these types of statements, you know, its just.. (satisfying laugh).

So I started to tour and it was like I had an album come out!  The Revenge was what made me who I am today.  It made me stronger.  It made me better.  It made me more of a blues singer, which is what I had always wanted to be from the beginning.  But now I’m more of a blues singer than ever.  Its like some 5 Heartbeats type sh*t. (we both share a laugh).

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I didn’t know any of this would happen, but it did, and everything happens for a reason.


So we heard, September 14th.  Is this official?  Is there any significance in the date?


The album will definitely be released on the 14th.  Theres no siginificance in the date.


Robots is crazy!!!  I personally feel that it would make a great single…  Have you decided on which song will be the initial single?


The single will be Restart.  We did a few videos, but the single will be Restart.  I don’t really do singles.   I don’t really get into putting out singles because to me the whole album is hot.  I just go with what feedback I get.


What you’ve done for yourself up until now has worked.  Do you plan on going more mainstream?  What direction will your career go?


Man I just want to make good music.    I just make music.  I do what I love, which is making music.  I’m not into formulas or anything, just making good music.  If it goes more mainstream then so be it, but I’m gonna keep doing what I love to do.


From the feedback I’ve gotten, people want to see more of you.  Where can fans see you performing, or hear you these days?  Do you have a blog or youtube channel?


Twitter:  @bilal_oliver

That is the best avenue because I load my videos on there and talk about upcoming shows and things like that.


I dont want to get too personal, but the ladies want to know… Is there a Soul Sista on the scene?


(brief silence) Hello! – the phone started breaking up – He chimes back in “I’m not doing this on purpose!” (brief laugh)  I do have someone special in my life. (You’re referring to music right…?) (another laugh) Actually, I am in a relationship. ….yeah.  I’m in a relationship right now.   I’m married. (aite aite! I’m not gonna get too much deeper into that. ) (more laughs)

End of Interview

We had to disconnect after that question, so we closed up.  There is so much more I wanted to ask him, as it relates to the details about production and the rest of the Soulquarians.  I also wanted to include questions from some of his fans on our Soulfied twitter page but there just wasn’t enough time.  I’m sure this does wet your appetite though.  This album is looking very promising.

All in all, the brotha seemed very motivated and extremely excited about Airtights Revenge.  I listed below, a few treats that are sure to keep you excited about this one.  Send Bilal a tweet or something to let him know that we appreciate the exlusive interview at  Again, his twitter page is bilal_oliver

Yours truly, still working hard to Keep it alive… Issa