It’s been along time coming for Seattle Independent Musicians. Primarily for those who master the urban culture of R&B and Hip Hop. Taking a back seat to the Seattle Sound known worldwide as “Grunge” or “Alternative”, The Seattle Sound Music Awards (#SSMAs) provides a platform for Soul and Rap Artists reigning for the Pacific Northwest.
Join us as we honor contributors to the Arts and Culture community of Seattle. Saturday, August 9, 2014 at the historic Columbia City Theater . An exclusive Press Reception for Nominees, Honoreesand VIPs kicks off at 6:00 PM and the Awards Ceremony starts at 8:00 PM. Advance tickets are available online at www.SEATTLESOUNDMUSICAWARDS.com. NOTE: This is a BLACK TIE AFFAIR.
Here are our NOMINEES & HONOREES:
2014 #SSMAs Community Contribution Honorees
Marcus Trufant | Greg Lewis | Shawn Kemp
Hip Hop Oscars/Rap (Male) –
Raz Simone | Da Big Dime | The Physics | Parker | Black Stax
Honoree – Sol
Hip Hop Oscars/Rap (Female) –
Lady P | SynSay | Gifted Gab | Jus J | Julie C
Honoree – Blacc Sapphire
808 Award/Best Producer –
Jake One | Vitamin D | Beezie 2000 | Mike Wingo | JC Flow
Honoree – Tha Bizness (Dow, Henny & Kuddie)
Board Beast/Best Engineer –
DJ Phinisey | Jakael Tristram | Kip Beelman | DJ Roc’Phella |Justin Armstrong
Just getting started a little over 3 years ago, the lovely Heather Gin is no beginner when it comes to making music. Quiet as it’s kept, she started playing piano at the age of 4 and can play the guitar and flute as well.
I had the opportunity to attend Heather’s album release party last month at Seattle’s Barboza Night Club in Capitol Hill and was pleasantly surprised w/ the indie movement. The venue was filled w/ 206 pioneers in the indie scene and highly energetic music lovers. The Pop Princess came out blazing w/ a live band supporting her every move. “Smooth” and “Sultry” are just a few words off top that describe her delivery. But, don’t get me wrong, Heather turns it up w/ tracks like ” Jump” and “Can’t Enough”.
We had to ask Miss Gin a few questions about her music career, here’s her responses:
How old were you when you first knew you wanted to sing? This was Heather’s response:
When I was around 14 years old when I sang in church as the youth group praise leader, I really started getting into singing and playing guitar. I formed an all-girl band at school with fellow classmates playing guitar and singing. We would hang out and write our own songs and learn how to play popular songs from our favorite bands. We got to perform at school functions and parties and had a lot of fun. I was also involved with the school band, marching band, jazz band, and choir. I don’t think I could have been any more involved with music than I was growing up. At home I continued taking private piano lessons, performing at several concerts, recitals, competitions, and went through strenuous training, passing all 10 levels of OMTA (Oregon Music Teachers Association) Piano Syllabus. I had to practice a minimum of 7 hours a week every week and it took a lot of work and discipline. Trust me, there were times I wanted to quit but my step-mom didn’t let me! But I never thought about taking music any further than church or doing it as a hobby until late 2009 when I was exposed to the recording industry from my involvement with a start-up recording studio venture. My life changed after that and I was determined to learn everything about it and be involved, whether as an artist, writer, producer and/or engineer.
Has your family been supportive during your career?
Not much, my dad and step-mom have very conservative Christian views and would never approve of any music that wasn’t Christian. My mom and all of my siblings are outside of Washington State, as far as Atlanta and Washington D.C., so they don’t really follow what I’m doing too closely, other than liking a post on social media related to music. However, growing up as a child under my parents’ roof, they did financially support me through 12 years of private piano lessons. I consider that a blessing and will always be grateful for that. Piano was the grassroots of my music career and nobody can take that away from me.
Have you come across any cultural barriers?
Well, like I just mentioned, religious cultural barriers is something that prevents me from gaining support from my parents or sharing the joys of my success in my music career, but the biggest barrier between my parents (and when I say parents, I’m referring to my dad and step-mom who raised me), is the generation gap between our different cultures. They’re first generation Korean-Americans, so being 2nd generation, I’ve grown to be emotionally and mentally detached from a young age. When I went off to college, they didn’t want me to pursue music anymore and to focus on my education, but music had always been a part of my life. I was never able to let it go, so I ended up getting a double major in Sociology and Music to satisfy that need as well as continue being involved with music at my church. Other barriers I’ve encountered since I’ve been doing music, is related to being a female in the industry. People are so judgmental, and there’s a double standard between men and women. A man can be assertive and self-promoting, and I guess to sum it up, somewhat narcissistic when it comes to his music career and still be well-respected and likable for it. This gives them advantage in the industry in many ways, including their art being more valued and praised and as a result, getting paid for it more often than not. Being a woman on the other hand, you sometimes get the opposite reactions for being assertive and self-promoting. First off, my music and my art is often overlooked, and I’m either viewed as an object, or the even worse, told that I’m displaying actions of being an insecure woman, seeking validation, setting thirst traps with my image, or just trying too hard to impress people etc. when in fact, I’m just promoting myself as an artist, my image, my music, my art, my passion and having fun doing it. I think it’s a blessing to find your talents and purpose in life, so please don’t knock me for going all out and living out my dreams and doing the best that I can. I’m an independent, strong woman and not afraid to express myself and show my sexuality. I was even told once that I should remove all my photos from social media and only have a couple up so that nobody looks at my pictures anymore and just goes straight to the music. If I were a man, would someone be telling me this? It’s unfair sometimes, but it is what it is. It’s a complicated subject but gender barriers is something that we all face, no matter what profession. I’m sure you can relate to what I’m saying, as a woman in the industry. Don’t get me wrong though, being female definitely has its pros too, but anyone that knows me or has worked with me, knows that I take this seriously and work hard at it. I wouldn’t change anything in the world and I love being a woman. People’s opinions don’t really matter much but I do listen to constructive criticism. I can filter out what’s helpful versus what’s hateful.
How has your experience been, being an artist in Seattle, WA?
I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work with some very talented producers early on in my career, such as Vitamin D and Kuddie Fresh, as well as talented artist collaborations with Neema,SPAC3MAN, and Romaro Franceswa. But what really got my music jump started was that I was able to purchase a home studio and put together a production team with songwriter/producer Michael Kidd and recording/mix engineer, Kris Stiell. We work very well together and produced nearly 70% of the tracks on my new album “Passion” from my home studio located right in my bedroom! Overall, it wasn’t that difficult for me to fit into the Seattle music scene, but I do realize that it takes time to win over people and gain a solid following. Since I’m fairly new to the scene, I know I still have a ways to go and need to put in a lot more ground work before my career can really take off. In the meantime, I’m still working on me, my craft, honing my sound, gaining more exposure, networking and building my brand.
What are the pros and cons of being an artist in the Pacific NW?
Pros – the hip hop scene is a small-niche community and everyone who’s active either knows each other, or there’s only like one degree of separation between people. People in the industry in general have showed me love early on, but I really think it’s because I came out with people like Vitamin D backing my production. As a result, people were more curious and open to meeting me and seeing what I was about, and when they finally got to meet me, they realized that I’m down-to-earth and a genuine person. Cons–I’m not exactly sure where I fit in with the local hip hop scene as a pop/rnb artist. Perhaps I need to leave my current situation and hit different scenes, network outside of my circle, but it’s hard to meet new people and develop the trust I have with the current team I work with within the hip hop community. To be more clear on the issue, I’ve been asked to perform at several rap shows, some a little too gangster for my style and image. I couldn’t even find any pop artists to open up for me at my album release party earlier this month so I had rappers open up instead, with the exception of Dice. Another issue that I’ve faced is that sometimes I feel that people outside of Seattle show more love—not the industry folks, but the listeners, crowd, fans in general. I’ve travelled to New York with my music and have gotten a lot more love and respect from random people than I have here in Seattle. I’m not exactly sure what that means and it may be too early in my career to really understand it, but that has been my experience so far being an artist here.
Do you write your own material? If not, who contributes?
Both, I write my own and have co-written with Michael Kidd.
Tell us about your team…Who do you work w/ and why?
I work with Vitamin D and Kris Stiell, and in the past Michael Kidd. I also work with a team based out on the East Coast called The Debonaire Group under Ryan Davis. I work with the people mentioned because they’re not only talented, but solid people to work with. You run across a lot of flaky inconsistent, unreliable people in this industry and can get burned left and right if you fall for the BS. Luckily, I came into the business with seasoned veterans schooling me in how the industry works, so I learned quick. Plus, being an independent woman, you learn to fend for yourself as it is and gain a sick intuition that protects you from making bad, costly decisions. A lot of woman and young girls come into the industry naive and desperate and that’s never a good look. I’m not easily impressed or mislead by people who aren’t about what they say they are. I trust and respect the people I work with and feel blessed to have met them. They’re like family now.
What are your plans for Summer/Fall 2014?
Well since I just dropped my first full-length studio album “Passion” I’m focused on doing more shows and getting my name and music out there. Last summer I spent a lot of time recording in a hot booth. This summer, I’m ready for some action want to work towards gaining more public exposure.
Any advice for an up and coming indie artist?
Build yourself a solid dedicated reliable team that believes in you! From production to marketing, promotions, street team, graphic designer, PR, bloggers, etc. This is key to success–we can all learn a thing or two from how Macklemore made it. I’m still working on filling the gaps within my team, including a publicist, but I’m assessing the situation and trying to figure out what the next move is in filling the gaps with the right people in order to move in the right direction. You also need to believe in yourself and never give up, despite the criticism that will come your way. Last but not least, engage with your fans as best as you can. This is all stuff that I’m still working on too, so it’s not like I know everything or have it all together, but everything is a working progress and nothing happens overnight.
What can your fans look forward from you this coming year?
In addition to doing more shows, I’ll be dropping new visuals off the album. We already wrote a music video treatment last week and are now in the process of working out the details, coming up with the budget, and coordinating dates to shoot. I’m also currently working with Roc Nation producer, Jahlil Beats, on a new record. I’m really excited for this one—I can’t really say too much right now but doing my first record with a mainstream producer is a dream come true!