Williams Honor – Jersey Shore’s First Country Duo

Written by: Frank Iacono

Williams Honor

Williams Honor, the Jersey Shore’s first ever country duo, hails from Asbury Park, New Jersey and features Gordon Brown and Reagan Richards. Both Gordon and Reagan (affectionately nicknamed G & R) spent several years in Nashville, Tennessee writing, recording and touring with other artists until their fateful meeting in 2014 at a benefit for Hurricane Sandy victims. Their chemistry was truly undeniable and the two knew it was time to start a new venture together and thus Williams Honor was born.

G & R’s New Jersey influence plays a huge part in Williams Honor’s music, combining modern country sound with traditional Nashville country music. Individually, Gordon and Reagan bring years of professional music experience to Williams Honor. For instance, Gordon has been on the road or working with Jessie James Decker, Audrey Kate and Jackson Harris. While Reagan’s resume includes working with artists like Lisa Loeb, David Gray and Les Paul.

As a group, Gordon and Reagan had quite a rewarding 2018. In that year, Williams Honor achieved their first Music Row Country Breakout Top 30 with their song “No Umbrella,” won Best Music Video for “Send It To Me” in the Asbury Park Music & Film Festival and opened for fellow neighborhood superstars Bon Jovi, at a sold-out monumental performance at Madison Square Garden.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown from Williams Honor where we talked about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their experience in the music industry and how COVID-19 and the pandemic has affected their musical career.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you both first realize that you wanted to be musicians and whom or what would you say inspired you?

Reagan Richards: For me, music always played a big part in my life. Long before I was born, my mom was a big band singer and actually sang with Les Paul, the legendary jazz, country, and blues guitarist. She also was supposed to be the singer of the late-night TV talk show called The George Gobel Show. However, she turned down moving out to Los Angeles, California but kept the musical spirit alive. She never said to me as a child, “Hey, kid, can you sing? If so, you should pursue it” but it just came automatically, as well as song writing. One of the earliest songs that I wrote was a tune called, “Count Me Out (I Don’t Wanna Be in Pictures)”. I wrote that song when I was 6 years old and it apparently referenced the crappy side of modeling, which sounds like a joke, but unfortunately, it’s not. My Dad was a huge country music fan, so artists like Marty Robbins, Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash were among the great guests who appeared on our special playlist during road trips. So, I’d say that my parents were my two main catalysts for getting me in the zone.

Williams Honor Country Duo

Gordon Brown: Growing up, music served as my greatest escape from undiagnosed childhood depression. I was very fortunate to live in areas where I knew successful musicians came from. In New Jersey, I lived close to the beach and Bruce Springsteen, “The Boss”. On the weekends, my dad had an apartment in New York City down the street from The Dakota where the legendary John Lennon lived. Ultimately, I was destined to figure some of it out. Equally, tracing out Gene Simmons’ makeup face on the back of my KISS Alive II album probably helped too.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Gordon Brown and Reagan Richards as well as Williams Honor, how would you describe your musical genre?

RR: Williams Honor’s musical genre is country music. We believe we are a nice weaving of the old traditional sound along with the modern sound. We truly respect and love how country music was born and love the foundational key players that paved the way. At the same time, we understand and have been excited about how much country music has evolved. We certainly give our fans all of the above.

Williams Honor Performing

GB: We love everything about country music. Our roots are based from where WE hail from. That’s what makes it Jersey Country. My DNA can be directly traced to Asbury Park, New Jersey and all the artists that have come from there, including Johnny Cash who also had roots from there many years ago and got very involved in helping the community.

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singers/songwriters and performers?

RR: For me, it goes back to the music that my parents played. For example, I can sing word-for-word and note-for-note the greatest songs of Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard and a lil’ country crooner by the name of Patsy Cline. Between Patsy, artists like Hank Garland and male powerhouses like Johnny Cash & Waylon Jennings …I was hooked. To me, those artists spoke to me as early as five or six years of age and I remember listening to their music and getting actual goosebumps. I had a strong feeling that my school friends weren’t listening to music and receiving it the same way that I was. That’s how I knew I was a little different. I couldn’t just put a song on and be done with it and continue on with my day. Those tunes stuck with me. Today, when we write a song, we want to have that same impact on a listener …it’s about singing a lyric, being authentic and having someone in their car go, “OMG, I feel that”. That’s why my influences are so powerful to me because I never forgot how they made me feel.

Williams Honor Performing on Stage

GB: Restless Heart, Diamond Rio, Blackhawk, Vince Gill, Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Rascal Flatts and Dixie Chicks, all pulled me into country music by my short hairs. After listening to those bands, it was tough for me to listen to anything the same way again. I grew up with the storied songs of Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, KISS and the harmonies of The Eagles by the beach. My first signed band would be considered country if that album came out today.

TCS: How thrilling was it to share your first public performance in Asbury Park on stage with the legendary Jersey Boy Bruce Springsteen?

RR: Oh boy. For me, that was a truly surreal, beautiful moment. I’ve had some very incredible musical moments in my life …a show with the legendary Emmylou Harris and singing with Les Paul for several years until he died as well as Steve Allen’s radio show were among my many proud moments. Now I am embarking on a new journey with Williams Honor where our first public performance was for Light Of Day at the sold-out Paramount Theater, where we performed a 20-minute finale with Bruce. It was thrilling, it was a “feel good” moment because it was for the LOD foundation which raises money for Parkinson’s research. It was breathtaking to look around onstage and just see incredible people surrounding you. If Williams Honor had to have a “kickoff”…I’d say that was a damn good one.


GB
: Nothing I can write could ever truly capture in words how personally exciting that was for me. Coming from the NJ area makes it even more special. This was not the first time I’ve been on stage standing next to Bruce…actually there’s been a few more times since then too. Always incredible.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of your self-titled debut release is the track entitled “Send It To Me,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?

RR: Thank You! It’s always great hearing what people love from our records! There’s never a textbook way to write a song. Show me a successful songwriter and I’ll show you napkins with lyrics, tapes with melodies, random words in a notebook …and how you put all those pieces together determines what you have in the end. The track “Send it To Me” was a song that didn’t come from a list of titles we had stashed for years. It actually came together during the recording of the first album. Gordon and I would send each other files and one afternoon I sat across from him and I said, “Send It to Me.” He said, “what?” I said, “Send It To Me”. WHAT? I thought something wasn’t exactly translating. My phrase struck him and he ran in and got the guitar and within a half hour we had the song. Our energy going into writing it was what gave that song it’s energy. It became our first single and to this day, it’s a fan favorite and we absolutely have so much fun performing it.


GB
: The video for “Send It to Me” is our personal story. In the video, we’re driving on Ocean Avenue through the streets of Asbury Park, driving past The Stone Pony, performing at The Saint, and then standing on Broadway in Nashville in front of Tootsie’s as I’m convincing the owner to let us Jersey people in. We then, try to break into The Ryman right up the block with Bridgestone Arena located right behind us. It’s our roots of the music and who we are. We had Jersey director George McMorrow work on it for us and we ended up winning Best Music Video in The Asbury Park Music and Film Festival that year.

TCS: Please describe your Madison Square Garden performance as an opening act for hometown heroes Bon Jovi?

RR: How do I even begin to describe something of that magnitude? It’s everything anyone would think it would be. Imagine working your entire life writing songs …leaving your family and moving away, working day and night to support your dream …having major ups and major downs …and then starting a new project, getting a #27 song on country radio and after that, being selected to directly support hometown heroes, Bon Jovi, on their first local show after being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That’s the kind of stuff you dream of and the kind of stuff you stand in your bedroom acting out as a kid. And it really happened to us. We weren’t in the bedroom dreaming, we were on the stage …and quite honestly, I’m very proud of that moment. It felt like a really nice, big nod for the work that we had done.


GB
: Imagine growing up down the street for one of your childhood idols, who taught you how to break down all the barriers through their music. THEN all of a sudden you find yourself on the world’s most famous stage opening for them RIGHT AFTER they get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Once again, It’s tough to put into words but I still tear up when I think about it. Dreams can come true. And, in some cases, even better than you ACTUALLY imagined!

TCS: Tell us about the background behind another fan favorite, entitled “No Umbrella” and your live appearance on the Hard Rock Cafe Stage during “Today in Nashville”?

RR: “No Umbrella” is a song we co-wrote with country superstar, Cyndi Thomson. Both Gordon and I had been huge fans of Cyndi’s for years and we asked her if she wanted to get together to write. She was so incredibly cool and immediately said yes. We met for a writing session and just started talking about life for the first 90 minutes. From our talk, we came up with “No Umbrella” which is a song about suffering loss and allowing yourself to feel the pain instead of running from it.

We conducted a radio tour all over the country for both of our singles, and “No Umbrella” reached #27 which was such a gratifying feeling. This campaign was a total team effort, and everyone involved truly felt a great sense of accomplishment. The night before the Country Music Awards in Nashville they held a Top 30 party/show for us and so many of our musical peers came out to support and celebrate. It was amazing.

We’ve performed on NBC TV’s “Today in Nashville” show three times already, but the FIRST time was really bittersweet. My dog of almost 16 years passed away while I was on the road (literally on the road while I was in my car headed to Nashville). I had to perform “No Umbrella,” a song about how to deal with loss 30 hours after I experienced such a huge loss in my life.

I will, however, say that the TV lights are amazing because I had ridiculous red, puffy eyes like you wouldn’t believe from crying all those hours, but TV made me actually look like a human.

TCS: As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances?

RR & GB: Ohhh absolutely. Williams Honor had an entire record campaign laid out for our long awaited second record. In fact, we had already begun the whole release in Nashville at the end of February, three weeks prior to lockdown. We conducted TV interviews, had a release show for the first single off the record, distributed press, completed a photo shoot session you name it. We had bookings covering shows all over the country for the summer to coincide with its release. However, as soon as the lockdown hit, we put a big halt on all of that. We knew it was NOT the proper time to release it. We stand by that decision.

GB: All of them.

TCS: As artists, have you found COVID-19 and this quarantine to be a highly creative time period for writing and recording new music or has it been difficult to focus on creative endeavors?

RR: 10000% absolutely a creative time. No matter what happens in life, we have to find a way to keep going, but not just for the sake of existence. We have to LIVE! Living means doing what makes you feel alive. We stopped the planning of the record release but took this valuable and highly unpredictable opportunity to go back into the studio and add more things to the songs we had. During this unprecedented time, we’ve written a ton of new material, and even put together a livestream variety show, hich taps into our creative side at every turn.

GB: Go ahead and give creative people more time to think and deal with life’s seemingly impossible hardships and watch what comes out.

TCS: Can you describe for us the song writing and recording process behind your most recent hit single entitled “Step”?

RR: The song “Step” is a tune where the melody and lyrics came together simultaneously. It doesn’t always happen like that. I had an idea and I called Gordon and bounced it off him and we just ran with it. Right off the bat we knew it was going to be a song of empowerment. Our beloved followers are called the Williams Honor Army, so this was dedicated to them.


GB
: This is a song dedicated to the home team. They are why we continue to exist. We hope to empower them as we continue on.

TCS: As recording artists, have you both embraced social platforms to help market your songs, albums, merchandise and/or appearances?

RR and GB: Absolutely. We’ve certainly embraced social media.

To stay connected, please join us on the following:

TCS: Can you provide us with some details about “The Willi Ho Show” presented by Nashville-based Centerstage Magazine and airs WHednesday nights at 6:30 PM CT”?

RR: “The WILLI Ho Show” is our livestream variety show that is authentically, clumsily but beautifully ….Williams Honor. There’s no pretending. There’s no bells and whistles. There no perfection. That stuff just doesn’t exist. What DOES exist are two people who write songs …two people who have musical history …two people who have a love to make people laugh …two people who get on each other’s nerves (as Gordon & I do) and put that all together and you get this show that has hopefully helped our audience get through these difficult times, but it truly has helped US.

We have been so grateful to everyone who has tuned into our show and turned it into a top ranking POLLSTAR show. That certainly was never a goal …because a POLLSTAR livestream chart didn’t exist before lockdown. The goal was to be real and give our audience a piece of ourselves …which is our music, our influences and our history mixed with some crazy, funny added characters.

GB: Talk about a train you never saw coming …we have had more fun with our audience doing this show than should be legally allowed by law. THEY are the biggest part of the show, with their comments, requests, suggestions and jokes. #BannerDown #DontTouchMe #REAAAAGS are just a few of the sound bites that have become WHArmy approved.

TCS: What lessons do you both think that you’ve learned during this pandemic? What kind of advice would you give to fellow musicians who are trying new creative ways to supplement their income until this is over”?

RR: Our on-going motto has been “Never Stop. Keep Creating!” In a time where we didn’t know what was going to happen one minute to the next, I think it could’ve been very easy to say …I’m going to sleep for 3 days straight and just watch TV. But if the pandemic taught us anything (besides wash your hands!) it’s that nothing should stop a creative mind. Not even uncertainty of the world around us. My advice to a musician in these times? Be you. Don’t look at another artist and think you have to do what they are doing. Let them be them. Do You and constantly work on a great version of YOURSELF for people to fall in love with.

GB: Couldn’t have said that better myself.

Editors’ Note, December 31, 2020:

After initial publication, the article met with some criticism from Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown concerning The Creative Spotlight’s content editorial, prompting editors to review it and forgo our typical editing process. Upon further review, we have updated the article to feature the original unedited answers provided by Williams Honor as requested.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Frank Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Frank earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Sean D. Austin – Singer-Songwriter, Paranormal Investigator & Demonologist

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Sean Austin is a singer-songwriter, published author, paranormal investigator and demonologist. Currently, Sean is starring on the Travel Channel’s new paranormal show called Ghost Loop. Previously, he also starred on the Destination America Network (Discovery Channel) pilot series The Demon Files with retired NYPD police officer-turned-demonologist, Ralph Sarchie, upon whom the movie Deliver Us from Evil was based.

On and off of TV, Sean travels the country with fellow paranormal investigators, documenting evidence of the paranormal in video, photo and audio forms. He not only employs his growing medium and psychic abilities to investigate and help spirits and families find peace, but he also uses the latest paranormal technologies to “see” and “hear” entities to determine whether or not specific hauntings are residual or intelligent, friendly or malevolent.

With a strong Catholic faith, Sean’s pursuits in the paranormal are grounded in his religious beliefs. In his first published work Shadow Chaser, Sean shares some of the experiences that shaped his path in the pursuit of the unexplained and unknown. In the book, he discloses these profound encounters with the hope of helping people and expanding upon spiritual awareness.

Sean’s musical style exists in the vein of the Goo Goo Dolls and Pearl Jam. His music is heartfelt hitting home to the emotional high and low points of life’s obstacles with doses of encouraging hope within every shadow of our yesterdays. Fans of new Pop Rock Music 2020, Maroon 5, Switchfoot, The Voice artists, America’s Got Talent and American Idol will enjoy listening to Austin’s songs.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Sean Austin where we talked about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his first published book and soon to be released second book, his work on Ghost Loop and The Demon Files as well as his short and long-term future plans.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you first wanted to be a musician and whom or what would you say inspired you?

Sean Austin: I first realized I wanted to be a musician around age 12, when I watched Pearl Jam’s music video for their song “Jeremy”. Watching that video and seeing how they represented such a taboo subject like teen suicide, coupled with Eddie Vedder’s highly emotional and forceful vocal performance, it truly left a lasting impression on me. I honestly had full body chills seeing Eddie’s eyes roll up into his head as if he was actually possessed with the spirit of Jeremy Wade Delle, a high school student who shot himself in front of his English class because he was being tormented. From that moment, I knew exactly what my destiny held for me from a career perspective. That experience lured me right in with the desire to sing and play guitar. From there, I took three guitar lessons and then my ear became my teacher. This led me to writing songs and being in a band. Ultimately, I would gravitate toward being a solo artist. On my first solo project, I actually played all the instruments including drums, bass guitar as well as sang.

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and describe for us how they impacted and/or shaped your musical style?

SA: As I mentioned above, Pearl Jam was one of those defining bands that truly influenced me as a musical artist but there were a few others too. Equally, I was also motivated by emotional and inspirational bands such as the Goo Goo Dolls and Swithfoot. The songs these bands create really resonate with the music that I would ideally like to produce. Music has always been my “invisible therapist”. Like those artists, I too enjoy singing about real-life experiences, expressing emotions that hopefully inspire and/or help others cope with daily situations that we all face. The power of being able to extend your emotions from writing lyrics, adding music and then releasing it as a song can really be soul healing. The ultimate goal is to have someone listen to my music and be as inspired the same way my favorite bands moved me.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of your Shapeshifter album is the track called “That’s Enough,” so can you share with us the meaning behind the song?

SA: “That’s Enough” was written about someone involved in a toxic relationship. Sometimes, in a relationship, we let things buildup and fester behind the scenes without being honest to ourselves or with one another leading to more chaos. This song examines how people sometimes shutoff their feelings – ultimately leaving the other person emotionally caught up without explanation. This can be a push-pull, back and forth kind of thing but truthfully the individual has to learn to lead more with their head rather than their heart. Even if there are still feelings, he/she has to know when it’s time to walk away. There are always valuable life lessons to be learned but the most important is to not let history repeat itself.


TCS: What inspired you to write your first book entitled Shadow Chaser?

SA: Honestly, the main reason I decided to write Shadow Chaser was because I felt compelled to share some of the experiences that have shaped my path in pursuit of the unknown. In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined that I would become a published author but in hindsight it was the best decision I ever made. In the book, I disclose my profound experiences in the hopes of potentially helping one person or thousands of people while expanding upon spiritual awareness. As the saying goes, everything happens for a reason and with that kept in mind we should all share our own spiritual experiences for the greater good. Today, my mission or calling is to help souls.

TCS: What is the title of your second book, what is it about and when will it be published?

SA: I plan to call my second book Shadow Chaser The In Between with a tentative Summer 2020 release date. Essentially, this book will serve as a continuation of paranormal experiences and cases that I’ve worked on since the completion of Shadow Chaser. We cover subjects including the demonic possession of a pregnant girl, haunted woods with a demonic pig, a shapeshifting demon forming into a spider and my personal experiences with the actual Amityville Horror House in New York. Additionally, I also provide prayers for the dead giving incentives to earthbound spirits to find peace and accept God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. So, it’s not all dark and evil!

TCS: I understand that you have some connection to the actual Amityville house and the spirit of a young child named John, can you share some specific details with us?

SA: Yes, the connection all started one day while I was live streaming in front of the Amityville house and by the DeFeo gravesite. This little boy, named John, started coming through on my spirit box even asking for prayers. I know that demonic entities can disguise themselves as any voice but according to professional opinion demons would never ask for a prayer. So, I prayed for the little boy as I would any earthbound spirit. For weeks following and even up until today, I’ve felt a presence that has awakened me many times at 3:15 am. After having all of these experiences, I began writing the story about this and all of the unsettling experiences involving the case. I will delve more into the story, and what transpired in my new book.

TCS: Describe for us your experience working with the Spirit Hunters on the Travel Channel’s new series Ghost Loop?

SA: When paranormal entities terrorize the living through endless and repetitive supernatural cycles, manifesting again and again in the same location, it is known as a “ghost loop.” Now, a team of highly specialized paranormal experts known as Spirit Hunters, who focus on this distinct type of haunting, are stepping in to help both the living and the dead. At each haunted location, my team and I build an emotionally charged trigger environment to lure the entity and break the terrifying cycle.

The most important reason why I got involved in the show was based on the opportunity to help people from across the country who are dealing with these types of hauntings. We don’t charge people for this kind of service which is great. Having the financial backing to reach a great number of people that I would’ve never been able to reach on my own is the special factor that attracted me to this project.

TCS: In the Ghost Loop episode entitled “Alarmed and Dangerous” explain how you the Spirit Hunters were able to help a Houston, Texas woman who was being terrorized by an aggressive entity?

SA: In this episode, the Spirit Hunters head to Houston, Texas, to help Becky, a woman being terrorized by an aggressive male entity who rushes her from her front door. The house is steeped in bloody history, the home is packed with negative energy that threatens to tear the team apart.

The story involves a man who was very abusive toward his girlfriend. One night, he lost control and began attacking her. In defending herself, she took matters into her own hands and shot him dead. The man seemed to be manifesting in Becky’s house in one concentrated area. In order to remove the “ghost loop” haunting, we first had to lure him out by recreating a trigger environment linked to the 1920s when this murder allegedly took place. This allowed us the best chance to have the entity listen to us and either accept his judgment in the light or we would need to force him out by blessing the home. In this case, I believe he decided to accept our offer and go towards the light. Becky has not seen this man’s spirit manifest since we were there.


TCS: As a practicing Catholic, under the apprenticeship of retired NYPD police officer-turned-demonologist Ralph Sarchie, tell us about how you learned your crafts of paranormal investigation, mediumship and demonology?

SA: Within the first few years of conducting investigations and having experienced many unique happenings, it truly felt like I had triggered an internal spiritual awakening. As a result, I believe that I had advanced my education and knowledge of the Paranormal but realized that I still needed more training and understanding on why these things occur and how best to protect myself from them.

With that, I purchased several books including Ralph’s Beware of the Night. At the time, I had my own radio podcast and later had him on as a guest and we discussed his book. The first time we chatted, we got into many deep conversations about what he calls, and I now also refer to as, “the Work”. This references the spiritual “calling” of God to be a religious Demonologist. Essentially, investigating cases of the demonic and assisting in the exorcisms of humanity’s most ancient–and most dangerous–foes.

Ralph taught me a lot about demonology especially concerning the different types of cases you can encounter in the process. With the combination of on-the-job training and reading his book now known as Deliver Us From Evil, the name of the movie based on his book, I have learned a great deal of valuable information that has helped me formulate a definitive direction of who I am as an paranormal investigator as well a religious demonologist.

I was tremendously proud to be associated with Ralph. He was involved in the paranormal during its pioneering years when it wasn’t “cool” to be a paranormal investigator. Back then, most people became investigators for research and to genuinely try and help people, not just for the fame on television like it is today.

TCS: Describe for us your experience working with Ralph Sarchie on Destination America’s series The Demon Files?

SA: Working with him on Destination America’s series The Demon Files was nothing short of humbling. It was truly a gift to be a part of such a great show with someone who is so well respected in this field. Ralph has really honed his craft. He has a strong willed personality but shines in his sound belief in faith and knowledge. He approaches each case with the ultimate goal of helping people. I have nothing but the upmost respect for him and for “the Work” he’s accomplished, and I will always be grateful for everything he has done for me personally and spiritually.

TCS: In The Demon Files episode entitled “The Mirror” explain how you and the team helped Leigh-Ann and her family when they were being plagued by demonic attacks?

SA: “The Mirror” was a really emotional case for the team. In this episode, an evil latched onto a family forcing them to reach out to Ralph and his team for help. During the investigation, we found out Leigh-Ann, their daughter, who struggles with addiction and even tried to kill herself, had previously made a pact with the devil by cutting herself over a pentagram. Additionally, we discovered that there was another boy who allegedly took his life on the property too.

Once we entered the home, you could feel the high level of oppressive energy in the house. You could cut through it with a knife. As we investigated, we smelled Sulphur. Ralph performed a religious provocation to force the evil entity out, so we could expose exactly what it was, so we could properly move forward and perform an exorcism on the property. At one point, as Ralph stood near the mirror in the upstairs bathroom, I tasted crushed pills in my mouth. I didn’t know at the time, but Leigh-Ann had taken a bunch of pills in front of that mirror when she attempted to end her life. Another interesting fact we learned about the mirror was that it had been in house with the previous owner and death. It really seemed connected to what was going on.

Towards the end of the night, I was on Leigh-Ann’s bed trying to coerce the alleged boy spirit who took his life to crossover. As soon as I did this, I felt the presence of a demonic entity in the room with me, and I saw this red like mist appear in front of the bed. At the same time, I could see a creature with scales all over its face with piercing fangs and cat like eyes. I stood my ground but then the window drape began to move violently, and I jumped to my feet. Earlier that night, Ralph had been in her room as well and a bunch of DVDs were thrown off the shelf in front of him and one of those DVDs was the movie based on his book Deliver Us From Evil.

In hopes of having Leigh-Ann regain her life and faith, we performed a full exorcism over the house and also had her say a revoking prayer three times in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We felt that this would provide her with the best chance to live without this dark cloud that had been haunting her.

TCS: What is the most bizarre paranormal situation that you’ve worked on during your illustrious career?

SA: Bizarre? Hmm one of the stories I am writing about in my second book is about a girl who was possessed while she was pregnant. The amount of experiences and evidence I have without even being in the same state as the girl is truly astounding. I have recordings of her speaking Latin, English, backwards and even hissing at a crucifix without even seeing me on the phone. I once received 13 scratches on my arm while praying for her on the phone. Oddly enough, I heard her being choked with laughing coming through the phone. I even had one experience of her and her friend calling me screaming bloody murder as they were driving. I could hear pelts hitting the car. Both of them in terror screaming “what is happening right now?” They explained how black birds were hitting the car as they were driving home. To this day, I have never experienced similar things to that level and I believe it’s important to share this horrific unsettling story in hopes of preventing other people from messing around with dark magic.

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Sean Austin?

SA: As previously mentioned, I’m currently working on my second published book. Additionally, I also have a new EP being released in the near future entitled Foresee. Equally, I hope to continue being active as a paranormal investigator and religious demonologist trying to make a significant difference. While I am on this planet, my mission is to help any person or earthbound spirit that I come in contact with in any way possible.

To stay connected, please join me on the following:

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Francesco Vincenzo Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Rod Black: Country Rock Singer-Songwriter

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Canadian country singer-songwriter Rod Black is no stranger to the country music scene. Rod was born in Langley British Columbia with country music in his veins. He grew up listening to classic country stars such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings as well as Southern Rock pioneers Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Rod’s soulful lyrics and melodic writing style come together to craft songs with a lot of energy and have the depth to withstand the test of time. His music has been described as explosive and passionate rock’n’roll that is straight to the point with songs about life and everything that it offers.

In 2014, Black launched a solo career with the release of his initial single “Keepin’ On” which made the top 20 on the Canadian country billboards. In 2015, he was nominated at the Canadian Radio Music Awards for his second solo single, “Long Gone”. His time spent touring the US and Canada has surely given him the opportunity to hone his craft as a lead vocalist.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing country singer-songwriter Rod Black and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his struggles as a performer in the music industry, his career in both Jet Black Stare and as a solo performer, plus his short and long-term future plans.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and what was the first instrument that you learned how to play?

Rod Black: I was just six years old when I first performed in a Christmas play and I was hooked from that moment on. My dad played guitar so we always had various instruments in the house.

I, however, didn’t learn to play an instrument until a later age due to my stubbornness and selfish desire for wanting to be a front man. One day when my songwriting partner got a record deal, I was forced to learn how to play guitar and write my own music and that was when I learned to play an instrument. It truly was one of the best decisions I ever made in my career.

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and describe for us how they impacted and shaped your musical style?

RB: I grew up in a rodeo family where country music was predominantly played in our household so listening to Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Elvis among many others was an asset in my overall musical development and career. As I got older, I was introduced to classic rock acts like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and etc.

At a young age, I always felt that if I could combine the two musical styles I possibly could be onto something big. Each performer and their music held a very special connection with me. As I listened, I felt a true connection and the energy truly resonated with me…it’s very hard to explain. Knowing that they all went through the trenches and at the end of the day they truly believed in themselves kept my dreams alive.

TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Rod Black or your musical career, please describe for us how you started out and eventually ended up being the lead singer in the hard rock band Jet Black Stare and now as a country performer?

RB: Oddly enough, Jet Black Stare actually started off as a country rock project. I was playing around the Vancouver, British Columbia area with an acoustic guitar accompanied by my best friend Mike McHolm, a very talented bass player and overall musician.

During this time, a very close friend of mine named Jeff Johnson, who was with 604 records co-owned by Chad Kroger lead singer from Nickelback, heard a couple of the songs that I was working on. Jeff was interested and we got together and started working on the catalogue.

 

Gordon Saran, a very close friend of ours who also works with Nickelback, was interested in what we were creating so he started introducing us to industry types. To that extent, the three of us worked on shopping our demo and within three months there was a major label bidding war in North America.

Island Records was the first to come to the table and I went with my heart and signed with them on September 7, 2007. Due to the economy in 2009, we parted ways with the label. However, I took this is a major blessing because my dad was very sick and I was able to spend time with him before he unfortunately passed away after a battle with cancer. From there, I took some much needed time off but the words of my late father still lingering in my head saying, “it’s time to continue where it all started” so I soon returned to the studio and began writing with Jeff Johnson and continuing on our country rock project.

“The Universe will always bring us back to the road we’re meant to travel on”.

The song “Keepin’ On” was the first song of many I would write with Jeff Johnson as I pursued my solo country career.

 

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs from the 2008 Jet Black Stare debut album is the title track “In This Life,” so can you share with us the meaning and background behind this song?

RB: One of the first songs I started writing was “In This Life”. It’s a song about bringing the soldiers home safe and giving strength and comfort to their families who are missing them while they’re away.

 

TCS: Tell us about how exciting it was supporting Jet Black Stare’s In This Life album by touring US and Canada as the opening act for established bands like 3 Doors Down, Staind, Hinder, Puddle Of Mudd, Shinedown, Drowning Pool, Theory Of A Deadman, Saliva and Seether?

RB: It’s very ironic how the universe works. Literally a year and a half previous to these tours I was in my room writing and listening to these bands as inspiration.

I remember listening to Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” practically on repeat envisioning myself on stage with these guys and the energy coming over me like it was actually possible etc.

Ironically, I was working on “In This Life” and “Fly” at the time, which are the two songs that got me signed to Island Records, so being on stage with them years later was almost very surreal. I am truly thankful for the experience. They all are incredibly gifted artists and very down to earth.

 

TCS: Explain how your song “Ready to Roll” came to be used by the National Hockey League Detroit Red Wings as their theme song of the 2009 NHL playoffs, as well as for WWE’s 2008 SummerSlam pay per view and in the opening theme of “Bad Movie Beatdown”?

RB: “Ready to Roll” was actually not deemed as the first single. It was written practically last for the album and when the record label heard the track it just made sense that it had the possibility of a sports theme type of track. As soon as it hit the sports community along with “Bad Movie Beatdown,” I believe that helped the song just take off like wildfire. I felt truly thankful and blessed.


TCS: From a song writing, studio recording, and accompanying music video perspective, can you share with us some of the details surrounding the single entitled “Go Big Or Go Home” from the album Keepin’ On?

RB: One of my close friends Jovan and I started writing “Go Big or Go Home” I then brought it to Jeff Johnson and he produced it and helped us put the finishing touches on the song, etc.

Gene Greenwood came into the studio with this camera and it started off as just getting live footage but he surprised us by putting a full-length music video together which gave the song extra life, as well as a raw insight of the recording process, etc.

”Go Big Or Go Home” is about believing in yourself where anything and everything is possible. If you set your mind to it and truly work hard every day you can make your goals come true.

 

TCS: Describe for us the meaning and background behind your music as well as the making of the song lyric video for the catchy title track “Keepin’ On” which peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Canada Country chart?

RB:”Keepin’ On” is about the heroes journey. It is a song about going through struggles and always having faith in yourself especially when difficult obstacles are placed in front of you.

The song lyric video was created by a very talented friend of mine named Bryan Chamberland. The one thing I truly wanted Bryan to convey through the video was that it stayed true to its real message that everybody can believe that anything is possible when on a hard road. Even though you might find yourself going through struggles we all have the ability to get through anything if we truly believe in ourselves.

TCS: Can you share the meaning and background behind the track called “Miles To Go” as well as the video concept?

RB: Once again, the very talented director and producer Gene Greenwood was behind the camera on this video and his vision was absolutely incredible. Additionally, Lori Watson, who also has incredible insight, had a lot to do with making this all come together. We can’t thank her enough. When Gene first heard the songs, he knew how we would approach them from a visual perspective instantly.

 

I guess it’s best to say there’s a bit of a commonality in the three tracks you asked about. They are all about having faith when in this life it can sometimes be difficult. We all go through our own struggles and life can appear to be like a roller coaster. It’s very important to note that we are capable of getting through anything.

TCS: How do you market your songs, albums, merchandise, and appearances?

RB: These days, without a record label it can be a little overwhelming at times, fortunately for me with the help of the Internet it makes anything possible. Additionally, Ethereal Promotions out of Nashville has really helped me get my name out there too. They truly believe in their artists. I’m thankful to be on their roster.

To stay connected, please join me on the following:

Equally, I love being on the road meeting people along the way. I find myself being inspired in every small town, city, etc. that I travel. I’ve met some amazing souls and continue to do so on this journey. I appreciate anybody that takes the time to listen to my songs it means the world to me.

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

RB: I think everybody should be listening to Elvis, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Marvin Gaye. in order to really appreciate the soul of music also where country is routed from Hank Williams Patsy Cline the list goes on and on.

I also have many rock albums that I love listening to too. At the gym, AC/DC is always cranked in my headphones along with Guns and Roses and of course my country favorites.

TCS: Can you describe what specifically happened when you were pronounced dead yet came back to life and then walked out of the hospital within hours? Equally, please share with us the details concerning the horrific car accident you experienced?

RB: This truly changed my life forever. In short, I drank 190 proof moonshine at a party let’s just say enough that I shouldn’t ever have walked away. Under my mom’s orders, I was rushed to the emergency. I call my mother my angel because she insisted that I be rushed to the hospital. My mom saw something in my eyes and made the decision instantly to get to emergency.

As soon as I was there chaos ensued. I heard the words echo “everyone out of the room, we’re going to lose him!” Soon to follow was the most unexplainable situation that I’ve ever come across. It was an unbelievable feeling and energy coursing through my body. I heard a long beeping sound and soon I saw and felt things that were very unexplainable.

I wake up in the morning thinking it was all a dream with a doctor telling me he’s never seen anything like that in his entire life. I would be released a couple hours later and ironically go to work the following night like nothing had ever happened.

Shortly after that, I was involved in a horrific car accident. I was in the backseat of a car that flipped 7 times into a farmer’s field. I was not wearing a seatbelt, and it is a long story as to why I made that decision, that’s story for another day. Ironically, I stayed in the car through the whole duration of the rolling while the driver and passenger were both ejected immediately. Again, it was a very surreal situation that is very unexplainable at times.

I would find myself under the care of the same doctor that treated me for my flat line, with no bruises cuts or anything to show. In this situation, I would leave the hospital that night once again. The next day I would make a decision to move instantly to another city and start my journey in a whole new direction with a different outlook on life which I continue to live every day.

“We are on this earth to love and learn it’s not about material possessions or how much money we have in our bank account.” #BeGood2OneAnother.

TCS: Can you Please share with us your involvement with The Children’s Charity of BC and the work you and other performers like country musicians like Todd Richard and Jeff Johnson on the song Follow Your Heart?

RB: The Children’s Charity event was very special to me. I was contacted by Todd & Jeff to come in and be a part of it. I joined a handful of other country artists from the BC area. I was fortunate to sing a verse on the track and be a part of the experience. It was for an amazing cause.


TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Rod Black?

RB: I’m truly blessed and thankful for every day that I’m still on this earth. Time will certainly tell where this journey takes me but no matter the twists or turns, I remain dedicated to the memory of my dad who always wore black and did what he could to help others along the way. Equally, I am committed to my mom and sisters for believing in me as I continue to move forward.

Once again, I am just appreciative of anybody who will listen to my music and attend the shows. I’ve played in front of 20,000 people and I’ve played in front of 5. I will always put the same energy into every show no matter the numbers placed in front of me.

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Victoria Watts: Singer and Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Victoria Watts: Singer and Songwriter

Victoria Watts was born and raised in San Diego, California. Coming from a musical family, Victoria had a love for music right from the very beginning and wasted no time developing her musical passions. She began playing guitar at age twelve and started writing her own music shortly after. Victoria has since played in various venues on guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and vocals both as a solo performer and in bands of varying genres.

Though Victoria is a California girl at heart, her gypsy intuition led her all over the United States and abroad. This range of life experience cultivated her musical ear and artistic nature. For college, she moved to the east coast to attend the Contemporary Music Center in Massachusetts, a by-invitation artist colony, at which she acquired further skills in live performance, studio work, and songwriting.

After a stint in Nashville, Tennessee Victoria is now a full-time musician in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and performs both as a solo artist and as the front woman and multi-instrumentalist for the band Element K. Over the years, Victoria’s experiences have helped her develop a sound that is uniquely her own, blending her rock and pop influences into one cohesive sound. Her passion for singing everything that she wants to say will drive her to write and perform music for as long time.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria Watts and asking her a few questions about her musical influences, her time at The Contemporary Music Center, her life as a career musician, her work with the cover band Element K, and her new CD Late Nights and Weekends.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician and who would you say inspired you?

Victoria Watts: Music was always around while I was growing up. My dad was a professional drummer back in the 70s and my mom and sisters are all very talented as well. Music was just a part of me from the start and felt very natural and intuitive. That environment is a big part of what inspired me to develop my skills. It wasn’t until I was around 14 that I realized it was in me to do music as my craft and profession. I went to a concert to see a band I was into at the time, and there was this female singer/songwriter who opened for them that I had never heard of. Her name was Kendall Payne, and she changed my life. With just her voice and an acoustic guitar, she stole the show and silenced this crowd of people who didn’t even come to see her. I honestly couldn’t tell you much about the band I originally had gone to see, because I didn’t even stick around to watch much of their set. After Kendall Payne was done, I immediately went to the merch table where she was selling her CDs so I could talk with her. I’ve been a big fan of her ever since, and she inspired me to be a woman who can make an impact with just a song and my guitar.

Victoria-Watts-Header

TCS: For readers of The Creative Spotlight, who have never heard of you or your music, can you please describe for us your musical genre?

VW: Labels are so hard these days because there’s such a wide spectrum out there, but I’d say the easiest way to describe what I do is indie pop/rock.

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped your music style and song writing?

VW: As mentioned before, Kendall Payne was influential because she was the first person who showed me the power of a woman with a guitar. I also really respect Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley for being so successful as a musician, songwriter, and front woman in an otherwise male-dominated genre. I work mostly with men so I sometimes feel like I have to work so much harder to push beyond female stereotypes. Jenny Lewis has been able to do that in her own way. I admire that so much! One of my favorite songwriters is Sara Bareilles. She has a sort of “F— you” attitude to people who try to tear others down and her music so beautifully expresses the human experience. Anything from longing to heartbreak, or sexism to the cutthroat nature of the music business, her lyrics are on point and her music never ceases to amaze me. From a vocal standpoint, I love Brandi Carlile. I love that she is so versatile and expressive with her voice. She can go from a whisper in one section to an outright scream in another. I absorb a lot of great ideas from her singing.

TCS: In what ways have the places where you have lived affected your musical tastes and the music in which you create?

VW: This is a LONG story! Haha… Here’s my best attempt at explaining my gypsy nature: I was born and raised in California and even started college out there. But I eventually moved to the east coast to attend The Contemporary Music Center, which was in Massachusetts at the time. After completing that program, I toured with a band throughout the southwest and realized how much I missed the east coast, so I started applying to east coast universities to see where I could get scholarships. I was a straight A student so I was offered a couple huge academic scholarships, but I chose to make the move to Philly because not only was there a school, Eastern University, that offered me a great scholarship, but a friend of mine lived in the area and had an open room and needed a bass player for his band. It seemed like a no brainer to make the move, so I did! I spent a summer in Nashville too, interning with a songwriter. After I graduated, I stayed in Philly because I started working with a cover band called Element K. Their booking agent discovered me while I was busking in Philly to make some extra cash, so it was just great timing. I’ve been doing music full time out of Philadelphia ever since.

Victoria-Watts-Guitarist

I think each city has its completely unique vibe and personality. San Diego is my heartbeat. Southern California will always be home in my heart, and I’m a very proud Californian. It has been one of the biggest influences in shaping my personality. My time at the CMC in Martha’s Vineyard was amazing but challenging. I only slept a few hours per night that entire semester. I just did music nearly every minute I was awake. It was like music boot camp. It prepared me for the real world of music. Nashville was obviously a great environment for music because basically everyone there is a musician or songwriter of some type. It was a great eye-opening experience to see the sheer volume of talented people out there trying to pursue the same path as me. Philadelphia is a great city! I chose to live here and stay here for a reason. It has a rough-around-the-edges persona but it has a lot of heart! And the creativity level of people living here is off the charts! I thrive off that energy.

TCS: Tell us about how important your time at The Contemporary Music Center (CMC) in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts was for you as a singer, songwriter, and overall performer?

VW: When I moved to Massachusetts for the CMC, I was living on Martha’s Vineyard, a small island off the coast. We lived in an isolated area, and really only interacted with other students in the program, which totaled a mere 35 people. So it was an incredible environment to live, breath, and focus on music. The people became family and the music work became my lifeblood. That was a really pivotal time in my musical development, both because I started to see the realities of being a professional musician, and also because I saw the value in an unconditional support system. That is so absolutely vital to every creative type!

Victoria-Watts-Performing

TCS: Tell us how you were discovered by a booking agent while you were playing on South Street in Philadelphia, PA?

VW: I have busked (a.k.a. “playing on the street”) in every place I’ve lived. Nashville was a great place for it because I actually made good money, around $200 for just a couple hours of playing. While finishing college in the Philadelphia area, I would play on South Street to make some extra cash for school. After I graduated, I was looking for jobs, but didn’t find anything right away, so I was still busking to make enough money to get by. It was about two weeks after graduation when a booking agent walked by where I was playing and said I had a good voice and he knew of a band looking for a new singer. He asked if I’d be interested. I was eager to play music and pretty desperate for a job so the timing was great! I auditioned for the band, which turned out to be Element K, and I’ve been working with them ever since. I’ve been with them for about three years now.

TCS: Can you introduce us to the Element K band lineup and tell us about where and what you play during your gigs?

VW: Element K specializes in performing at private parties and corporate functions as well as nightclubs! Element K moves seamlessly between multiple genres and performs party classics, in addition to the hottest new songs while mixing in some cool surprises along the way! We are a band that is as at home in a nightclub as we are at a wedding or private function. We are extremely versatile and adapt well to whatever event we are playing.

On bass, keys, and background vocals, is Christopher Louie. He is one of the best bass players I’ve ever worked with. On guitar and vocals, there’s Kevin Burns. He’s an exceptional guitarist with a killer wit. He’s definitely the one I joke around with the most while we are on the road. I’m happy to report we just added a new drummer, named Demetrius Millner, who has been an incredible addition to our sound. In addition to drums, he has a wonderful voice too! And, then I front/sing, play guitar and bass, with a little keys. It looks like I might start playing some drums in our shows too so stay tuned…

Please keep Element K in mind for your next private party or corporate event. Our professionalism is second to none, and we’ll make sure everyone has a great time! For more information and details on how to book Element K, please visit us at the following:

TCS: Now as a career musician, can you describe for us a day in the life of Victoria Watts?

VW: Since I’m a full time musician right now, I work mostly late nights, so I tend to sleep in till probably around 10am most days (with earlier mornings here and there). I spend a few hours doing administrative work for both my original music and for the cover band I’m in, Element K. Then I usually have a little time to practice whatever material I need to learn, and then I’m usually on the road for a gig. I get home anywhere from 2am-6am from gigs and then wake up and do it again the next day.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of your March 2013 EP release entitled Songs for the Sidewalk is the track called “Waiting on the Sun” so can you share with us the meaning behind it as well as the music video?

VW: The title of the EP, Songs for the Sidewalk, is actually an homage to my street playing days. I just figured I’d spent countless hours out on sidewalks, so it deserved some special recognition for keeping me company all of that time.

And “Waiting on the Sun” is actually about something much different than most people expect. I’ve always been a night owl, and I have some insomniac tendencies, so I usually stay awake much later than those around me. This is the best time for me to write because there are no distractions. I remember being up late one night while I was attending The Contemporary Music Center, and I really wanted to write. But since it was late I couldn’t make a lot of noise, so I walked to the school’s laundry room where I’d be away from everything, sat on the dryer, and started writing. The melody for “Waiting on the Sun” was just sort of what came out. The lyrics came pretty quickly because I had recently been reading about King Solomon and had read some of his passages in the Old Testament (I’m such a nerd with reading and LOVE to read about anything and everything). I always thought he was an interesting Biblical figure because he was sort of melancholy (sort of like an artist type haha) and he had a sort of philosophical honesty that had intrigued me. So I based the song off of his musings in the early chapters of Ecclesiastes. He talks about how meaningless life can feel and how we waste time toiling over foolish things. I just thought it was refreshingly honest and felt inspired to write my own version of it. The idea of waiting on the sun isn’t about waiting for the sun to come out and brighten our day, but rather I wrote it as humans feeling like servants to the sun, how days just pass one after the other; therefore, we are all like servers just waiting on the sun hand and foot. It’s a little depressing, but it’s an honest emotion to express and the imagery that Solomon uses was so brilliant! I just couldn’t resist creating something like that.

The video came about because I didn’t have any money, but really wanted to make a video. So I reached out to some local film schools to see if there were any students who would be willing to shoot the video at cost just for the experience and something for their resume and portfolio. I was fortunate to have some interested aspiring film makers form Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA get in touch with me and we just went from there. I think they did a great job filming!

TCS: Which aspects of Songs for the Sidewalk did you find most difficult to put together and which were the least problematic?

VW: The main challenge (and the main ongoing challenge of being a full time musician) is the money. Creating an album at the level I’d like it to be at, is very expensive! Once we were in the studio, everything felt natural and despite the long hours, very little sleep, and staying overnight at the studio (sleeping on the floor of the studio when sleep was necessary), I really had a blast creating the record!

Victoria-Watts-Name

TCS: Can you elaborate on the article you recently wrote entitled “Music As Symbiosis: We Are In This Together” that was published in M Pire Magazine?

VW: This is just another explanation of how important the support of music is, and how as creative types, it is absolutely essential to have people in your life that unconditionally support you and your need to create.

Music is symbiosis, in that people who appreciate art need creative types to create it, and creative types need people to appreciate what they create or they often will not have the outlet the need to create or the support they will inevitably need to push through the adversity that comes with the creative life.

To read the article now, please visit my Blog.

TCS: Back in June of 2013, you were interviewed by Jennifer Logue for Rock On Philly (Season 1: Episode 4) tell us how that came about?

VW: I won one of ROP’s Artist of the Month competitions and later competed for their Artist of the Year. Jennifer Logue and I developed a great working relationship from there and ROP even published one of my articles about the struggles of being a musician. I’ve really appreciated all of the support they’ve given me.

TCS: How thrilling was it to have been selected as the winner of the July 9th edition of Rock On Philly: Bands & Bites On the Plaza and then to be featured as the August 2013 Artist of the Month by the same organization?

VW: It was great! As I’ve stated, I appreciate their support. Not just of me, but of local music in general. It’s great to see talented local artists getting some much deserved attention.

TCS: Tell us about your appearance on the podcast Your Local Note (YLN) and did it generate any exposure for you, your EP, and/or Element K?

VW: The guys over at YLN are wonderful! They’ve been so encouraging to me about my music and I really had a great time hanging with them during the interview.

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of your EP entitled “A Thousand Miles Between”?

VW: This song is about having my heartbroken (real original, I know haha). When I moved to Martha’s Vineyard for the CMC, I left California with a freshly broken heart. Then, a few weeks later, we were instructed to write a song about the island for our next assignment in our songwriting class. I decided to write about the island being my escape and solace from that heartbreak I left behind back home: “I rode east by night, mainland mere hindsight.” And just let out all that hurt through the song so I could let it go: “just need a couple thousand miles between/ new isle please undo my memory/ don’t know if men are islands but it seems/ that surely this woman will have to be… I have to be.” It was a great healing process, and to-date, it is one of my favorite songs that I’ve written.

TCS: Recently you worked with the TV/Film majors at DeSales University in filming a video for “A Thousand Miles Between” so tell us about the creation process and the final product?

VW: I had been in touch with the student production team to brainstorm some ideas for it, and I think we arrived in a good place. The entire team was so kind to my bandmates and I, and so easy to work with. We basically set up and filmed all of the shots with the band in one afternoon. The filming process was so enjoyable because the team was so great! And everyone seems to be happy with final product.

TCS: How do you market your songs, albums, merchandise, and appearances?

VW: I just do it all from my laptop at home during the day, when I’m not on the road for shows. I spend a few hours trying to update, post, etc. It’s exhausting and it’s my least favorite part of what I do, but it’s a necessary evil in the music business today.

To connect with me, please visit the following:

TCS: Describe for us the last time you wrote a song highlighting how it came about and describe how it turned out?

VW: The last song I finished writing and brought to my backing band (which is a separate lineup than Element K) is a song called “Scratch.” We’ve only performed it at two shows, but I’m really liking how it sounds live. It came about because I’ve found that I’m a great friend but not always the best significant other. I’m very independent and focus on music. I don’t ever mean to hurt people but I’ve found that those two qualities working in tandem tend to hurt those who want to be closer to me. “Scratch” is my attempt to explain myself to those I’ve hurt, and it’s a sort of warning to those who may want to become closer to me.

TCS: What’s the most unusual place you’ve played or made a recording as either a solo artist or with Element K? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

VW: I’ve done some acoustic recordings from a bathroom with great acoustics. They sounded great! I actually really enjoyed that experience. I’ve also played shows a few red neck, sketchy dive bars that brought in a lot of interesting characters. They certainly make for some hilarious stories.

TCS: What does the short-term and long-term future hold for Victoria Watts?

VW: Short-term, hopefully create some more live videos for YouTube. And produce another EP or album within the next 6 months to a year. Long-term, I’m hoping for a record deal and some national/international touring. As I always say, “Chase The Impossible!”

TCS: What do you think the world would be like if music was never invented? And, what do you think you would you be doing instead?

VW: I think the world would be a sad place without music. There would also be a lot of very talented people who would never find their purpose, which is a tragic waste of good potential. I would probably be in grad school, working towards my PhD. I have my bachelor’s degree in history and would love to pursue that further down the road.

Song List on Late Nights and Weekends (2015)

Victoria Watts Album Cover

  1. Scratch
  2. Eighth Sea
  3. Long Way to Go
  4. Gardeners
  5. Piece of the Puzzle
  6. Ocean Dove

Song List on Songs for the Sidewalk (2013)

Songs for the Sidewalk

  1. A Thousand Miles Between
  2. Waiting on the Sun
  3. The Tree Song
  4. Builders Quit Faster
  5. Game Over
  6. Paralyzed

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.