Lezbelib: Firstly, which strikes when one listens to your album, it is your music. Currently, much of artists play electro or add some electro elements in their voices and you, you completely go against this, you offer a more acoustic environment with guitar, piano, ... Is this a desire for being distinguished from the other artists or is this simply your musical universe and what you want to offer to people?
QueenEarth: I wanted to create a sound that was organic, acoustic, and earthy, yet still urban. No, I don’t get too electronic with my sound, but that doesn’t mean I won’t head in that direction for upcoming projects. I envision some dance remixes. I am not trying to distinguish myself from other artists, but if making unique meaningful music sets me apart, then I am well intentioned. In my world, the Baltimore music scene, we offer live band open mics, beatboxing, acoustic guitars, vocal percussion. It is rare for someone, in my circle, to perform over a CD or an instrumental.
Lezbelib: Which are your inspirations? Which music, which artists inspire you?
QueenEarth: Right now, I’ve been listening to a lot of country music and acoustic singer songwriters. I’ve also been searching for Motown acapella tracks, Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson vocal tracks from the archives. I am inspired by good writing and uninhibited vocalists, clever harmonies. It is taking me years to become comfortable in the recording studio. When I listen to some artists, they sing with no fear. I’d like to reach that point, live and in the studio. I am definitely growing in my confidence.
I am inspired, most recently, by love. I couldn’t write about relationships, for so long. I’ve written about myself, personal evolution and self discovery. Life is so interesting and I am happy to be able to tap into that well of inspiration. I've had writer’s block and it is not fun when one feels they are meant to create. My current relationship is so fulfilling, and my partner believe in me as a artist and as a educator. She sees my dreams manifest and is there to listen when things get tough. I’ve been enjoying the exploration of the happy sides of dating.
I like so many types of music and so many artists. Robin Thicke is one of my favorites. He does a great job of capturing styles and eras with his production team. His writing is always fun and meaningful. I love Miguel and Usher, as vocalists. Katy Perry, especially her first album, is a reoccurring favorite in my car stereo, along with Alanis, Jagged Little Pill and Fugees, The Score.
I love Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Sublime. I listen to so much music, I’m interested in what types of songs I’ll will write in the future.
Lezbelib: You just released your album “Adult Contemporary”, have you planned to go and meet people? Do you plan to tour or to play some concerts here and there?
QueenEarth: I am planning on doing a lot of traveling. So far, I’ve been promoting my market in the Maryland, MD, Northern Virginia area with my Farmers Market Tour and in the open mic circuit. I also just came back from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and played a little intimate show for some family and friends. In my part of the country, there is an open mic every night of the week. When I first started performing, that is how I met people. I’d go out and perform, sell CDs, get more gigs, and build a fan base. I wonder if there are similar venues in other cities. I hope so! It is highly possible that I will be moving to another part of the country/world in the next few years and giving folks in another region, a taste of QueenEarth. Touring is so important. Folks can love you at home, yet it is great to build confidence with new challenges. Also, every town has a unique scene. There is so much to discover.
Lezbelib: I could discover that, beyond the fact that you are a very talented artist, you are active also in social justice. You told me in particular about QueerCore and the visit of the farmer's market. Can you present us these projects? Which is your role and why are they important for you?
QueenEarth: The Farmers Market Tour (FMT) was started because I needed to find summer work when I didn’t have any classes to teach. I am also a college professor. The FMT has evolved into a network of meaningful interactions with our areas hardworking farmers, artisans, and entrepreneurs. I have met so many people who have changed my perspective on healthy living, honeybees, and Do It Yourself culture. Last summer, I was reading No Impact Manby Colin Beaven. That, alongside, the tour, made me realize that I was the part of a larger movement to educate the public about the importance of supporting local businesses and healthier living.
QueerCore (http://www.queenearth.com/queercore/) was something that came to me when I was censored by a potential manager at a Farmers Market. The woman running the market, who happened to be a lesbian (I later discovered) was concerned that patrons would be uncomfortable if I sang “she” pronouns in my performance. She loved my voice, but wanted me to be more family appropriate. I was not pleased with her comments and I withdrew my application to play at her market. Afterwards, I started thinking about gay and lesbian musicians, if I knew any, who was out, who was hiding etc. I decided that I wanted to create a safe space for the LGBT community, starting on college campuses, where the entire community could come together and feel safe telling their stories. QueerCore is rooted in my coming out experience and songwriting stories, but by sharing my unique tales, perhaps I am giving courage to others. I am really excited to see where QueerCore will take me, and what impact it will have on folks who need a voice.
From understanding how a storm impacted a beekeepers ability to sell honey to feed his family, or listening to an ally talk about their actions when they see their LGBT friends experience prejudice, I am learning that there are many people who want to leave this world better than they found it. Silence is oppressive and ignorance prevents progress. I hope I am facilitating communication in my community because we will take these lessons with us, everywhere we go.
Lezbelib: When I prepared this interview, I had the pleasant surprise to see that you also offer some guitar and creativity lessons. What can we learn with the creativity lessons? Are the guitar lessons accessible online or simply accessible in Baltimore? And where come from this need to share with other people?
QueenEarth: As someone who has had severe writer’s block, I know how meaningful it can be to find one’s muse and inspiration. Creativity is personal training for an artist. It is writing prompts, creative activities, and personal reflections. For me, It kind of feels like a mix between counseling and art/music class. I love the openness of my relationships with my creativity students. I get to help other people to find their way! Even for me, sometimes I am not motivated to create. I have a ton of books that I use to generate writing prompts for my creativity students and my college English students. Watching my students grow into their artistry and write songs, join bands, excel in their performance poetry, it is the most rewarding work that I have ever done. Most of my creativity students are interested in guitar, singing, or songwriting and the work we do in creativity class is a catalyst for further creative manifestations. My guitar and creativity lessons are available online and in person (http://www.queenearth.com/music/lessons/).
Lezbelib: What can we wish you during this year and for this album?
QueenEarth: For the rest of 2013, I want Adult Contemporaryand QueenEarth to have a great success, street credibility and industry respect. I want the fans and the music community to enjoy the project. I hope QueerCore grows wings, as I want to travel to colleges everywhere and encourage our LGBT youth to “come-out” and find themselves and their place in their communities. I wish to travel and have more experiences with my dream jobs(s) as a singer/songwriter, college professor, and creative professional. I love the work that I get to do and I hope it allows me to travel and share my lessons. I dream of paying off my student loans with a few hit songs, big show nights, and songwriter royalty checks.
I personally enjoyed QueenEarth's album! Her voice, with these warm frequencies, and her flow are accompanied on a rather acoustic instrumentation (guitar, piano, beatbox, percussions) and the whole brings a shone side upon to her music which is very pleasant to listen.
The song and the rap marry to perfection and each voice is a surprise. One passes from one song to the other with much of pleasure.
The concert for the release of the album is planned for August 17 at Terra Cafe. For more information: http://www.queenearth.com/2013/07/adult-contemporary/
See also her website: http://www.queenearth.com/
Photo credit: Chelsea Monae