Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE WRITERS’ JOURNEY – HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD + COMICS (MF GALAXY 118)


WHAT MAGAZINES + WEBSITES YOU MUST READ, HOW TO MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE TO AVOID SABOTAGING YOUR CAREER, WHERE IN YOUR STORY TO START WRITING YOUR SCRIPT, SURPRISING MENTORSHIP BY BIG-NAME WRITERS
 
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So many people talk about breaking into comics, New York publishing, or Hollywood, but most of the ones talking haven’t done it, and most of those who’ve done it aren’t talking.

Today’s MF GALAXY features people who can walk the talk and talk the walk, and who are going to give you specific, technical advice and steps to take your writing career forward, such as what magazines and websites you must read, how to manage your social media presence to avoid sabotaging your career, what point in your story to start writing your script, and some surprising realities about mentorship by big-name writers.

All of this episode’s rising-star writer-creators spoke at a panel called The Writers’ Journey at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, which despite the name is probably the leading TV and movie entertainment convention in the US open to the general public but swarming with professionals.

The panel is moderated by Brandon Easton, a recurring guest on MF GALAXY. He’s a 2015 Disney/ABC Writing Program winner and 2014 Eisner Award nominee who worked on Marvel’s Agent Carter and IDW's M.A.S.K., among many other projects. Panelists include TV producer Geoffrey Thorne of Leverage and The Librarians, TV staff writer Ubah Mohamed of The Whispers, Gang Related, and Cold, and comics writer-creator Brandon Thomas of Skybound’s Horizon and Miranda Mercury.

Many thanks to DeWayne Copeland who recorded the video for this conversation. You can find the complete video online at MFGALAXY.org and a link to Copeland’s work, which includes my MF GALAXY conversation with him about his superhero web TV series CV Nation! And now on MF GALAXY, Brandon Easton, Geoffrey Thorne, Ubah Mohamed, and Brandon Thomas with the Writer’s Journey!

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ART + ACTIVISM with MARTY CHAN, KRISTEN HUTCHINSON, DAWN MARIE MARCHAND, AARON PAQUETTE, AND MATTHEW STEPANIC (MF GALAXY 117)


IS ALL ART IS POLITICAL? SHOULD YOU EVER INSULT YOUR OWN AUDIENCE? CAN YOU SURVIVE SOCIAL MEDIA AS A SOCIAL ARTIST? THE MOST SURPRISING ACT OF PROTEST

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Art and activism—should they be friends? Hanging together like Kirk and Spock, Crockett and Tubbs, or Laverne and Shirley? Or should they be enemies like Luke Cage and Cotton Mouth, Avatar Aang and the Fire Lord, or Donald Trump and most of humanity?

Some people say that art and politics should never mix. Other people say that they always mix—but that people only protest those politics when they disagree with them. So if that’s true, what happens to society when people who define themselves as advocates and activists combine their views and ideas with their novels, paintings, plays, and more?

Those are questions that novelist SG Wong wanted answered. Wong is the inaugural featured writer of Capital City Press, a venture by the Edmonton Public Library. Wong is the creator of the Lola Starke hardboiled detective series set in Crescent City, California, in an alternate history in which China colonised North America. She’s also an Arthur Ellis Award-finalist and a tireless organiser in Edmonton’s literary scene. On March 27, 2017 Wong and the Edmonton Public Library convened a panel to discuss art and activism.

  • Kristen Hutchinson is an artist, independent curator, art historian, interior designer, and lecturer at the University of Alberta.
  • Matthew Stepanic is a poet and an editor at the Glass Buffalo and Eighteen Bridges literary journals, at the Tanner Young Publishing Group and at Where Edmonton magazine.
  • Dawn Marie Marchand is the Indigenous Artist in Residence for the City of Edmonton, and hails from the Cold Lake First Nation.
  • Aaron Paquette is a novelist, painter, speaker, and former federal candidate for the New Democratic Party
  • Marty Chan is a playwright, screenwriter, radio humourist, and YA writer.

In this episode of MF Galaxy, they discuss:
  • Their definitions of and experience with experience activism
  • What it means to say art is political
  • The value of reflecting to audiences who they are
  • Why one artist was about to quit painting forever, and what horrifying experience transformed him to the artist he is today
  • The role of social media among social artists
  • How editors can change the conversation about art and artists, and
  • The surprising thing that is an act of protest

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sgwong.com

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CARL JAMES - RACE IN PLAY: UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIO-CULTURAL WORLD OF STUDENT ATHLETES, HOW PUBLIC SCHOOLS SHAPE CAREER AND EDUCATION PATHS BASED ON RACE




HOW RACISM AND ATHLETICS ARE TACKLING AFRICAN-CANADIAN STUDENTS

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Because race-based privilege, power, and exploitation are facts of planetary life, almost any society can be expected to maintain mythologies about race. That mythology includes the belief that those who belong to the racial power structure are superior to those who are excluded from that racial power system. Some of the excluded are deemed intellectually equal or potentially superior, but lacking in physical prowess and, for lack of a better term, “natural rhythm.” But then there are other people excluded by the racial power system, and inside the racial mythology, they are deemed intellectually and morally backward, but physically superior.

The late Dr. Manning Marable, a Professor of History and Political Science and formerly the Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, discussed in a 1991 column called “Racism and the Black Athlete” how the mythology of race affected athletics. He wrote:

“For generations, White athletes who excelled in any sport were described as “hard-working,” “diligent,” “dedicated.” African-Americans who achieved prominence in sports, by contrast, were known as “natural athletes” who did not have to train rigorously for their successes. Joe DiMaggio and Rocky Marciano were applauded by the media for their work ethic; Sonny Liston and Willie Mays were described as “naturally-gifted athletes.”

“The basic racist assumption beneath these statements was that Blacks were “animals,” not human beings. Anyone knows that a horse can outrun any person. A gorilla is more powerful than the strongest weightlifter. To be Black was to be closer to the physical world of beasts. And of course, Whites who displayed physical prowess were said to have achieved these accomplishments by their mental powers.”

Marable continues:

“The argument is not only racist, it’s illogical in the extreme. Because in reality, success by any group in any avenue of human endeavour is largely determined by the factors of opportunity, availability of resources, and the levels of individual dedication.
“Why do African-American athletes dominate the NBA, but are virtually unrepresented in the NHL or the Professional Golfers Association? Build 5,000 ice skating rinks and public golf courses in the African-American community and create hundreds of training programs and incentives for Black elementary school children. Believe me, within 20 years you’ll have some Whites writing about the “natural ability” of Blacks in golf and ice hockey!

“Blacks excel in athletics because opportunities are still limited in professional and corporate circles for minorities and women. Expand job access and affirmative action enforcement, and fewer Blacks would go into sports.

“Racial discrimination is still rampant in college athletics. A recently released NCAA study indicates that the graduation rate after five years for Black athletes is only 26.6 percent, compared to 52.2 percent for Whites. More significantly, the vast majority of White athletes drop out of college during their early years, while nearly as many Black athletes leave school in their final years as in their first two. This implies that many coaches and academic officials are more concerned with eligibility rather than the goals of education and graduation, when it comes to Black athletes.”

Marable concludes:

“The NCAA study also indicated that when African-American and White athletes have the same SAT scores, Blacks graduate from college at higher rates than Whites. This shows that standardized tests are a poor indicator of future academic performance, and that Blacks with lower SAT scores shouldn’t be arbitrarily denied admission to higher education.”

Today we’re going to hear a Canadian’s take on the issue. Dr. Carl E. James is a professor in the Faculty of Education and director of the York Centre for Education and Community. He’s cross-appointed in the graduate programs in Sociology and Social Work. He researches how marginalised youth experience school, sport, and society. The Royal Society of Canada inducted James as a Fellow, one of the highest honours a Canadian scholar can achieve in the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences.

He’s the author of the book Race in Play: Understanding the Socio-Cultural World of Student Athletes. The book examines the sociology of sport, youth, racism, and education, and how institutions such as public schools shape the career paths and educational future—or failure—of athletes based on race. In December 2005 James was in Edmonton for a conference on anti-racist education. We spoke at CJSR studios about how racism and athletics are tackling African-Canadian students.

A note: During this conversation recorded in December 2005, I remarked that racism against First Nations Canadians meant that they had no paths to sharing in the bounty of multicultural settler Canada. While I meant that as a critique of the settler colonial state of which I am a part, my statement blindly ignored the many First Nations Canadians who achieve excellence and even national and international influence in innumerable fields. We make far more progress not when we simply condemn what’s unjust, but when we by recognise and replicate success.

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MARTY CHAN ON FINDING VOICE AS KIDLIT AUTHOR, WORKLIFE BALANCE FOR WRITERS, ZOMBIE NOVELS + OVERCOMING FEAR OF CHILDREN (MF GALAXY 115)


PRE-PUBLICATION TESTING KIDLIT BEFORE AUDIENCES, IMPROV’S SCENE-BUILDING CHEAT CODE, STAY-AT-HOME DAD WRITERS, SMALL-TOWN ALIENATION SCARS FOR LIFE

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Marty Chan is one of E-Town’s most successful writers ever. He’s best known for his popular children’s and young adult books including Keepers of the Vault, Infinity Coil, and the award-winning The Mystery of the Frozen Brains. But he’s also a screenwriter who worked on the TV series Jake and the Kid and received a Gemini nomination for his TV pilot The Orange Seed Myth.

Chan's best-known play is the semi-autobiographical Mom, Dad, I’m Living With a White Girl, about the culture clash of being a Chinese-Canadian finding work and love in the arts in Edmonton. The play’s been produced across Canada and in New York. Chan was the first playwright in residence at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, Canada’s biggest and busiest regional performing arts centre.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Marty Chan discusses:
  • The professional tension he felt defining himself as a playwright or as Kidlit author
  • The personal meaning and artistic results of his unpublished and innovative zombie novel
  • How and why not having children frees him to be a children’s author, and why a writer friend told him that being a stay-at-home dad was the worst decision he ever made, and
  • The profoundly alienating experience of growing up as the only Chinese Canadian boy in Morinville, Alberta and how it’s affected him for life

Along the way I refer to The Memory Eaters, his unpublished novel he wrote for Book Television 3 Day Novel Contest reality TV series, season 1, for which I was a judge.

The novel was a pre-Walking Dead zombie story that was uniquely from the zombie’s perspective and touchingly and profoundly addressed loneliness, isolation, social networks, and love. He also cites his opera The Forbidden Phoenix which incorporated the classic Chinese story of the Monkey King and Chinese Canadian experiences.

We spoke on June 23, 2008 at his home in Edmonton. This interview has never been aired before.

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IRRELEVANT SHOW HEAD WRITER NEIL GRAHN ON HOW TO GET AHEAD IN COMEDY WRITING, WHY STAYING TRUE TO YOUR VISION CAN PAY OFF + HOW SKETCHES GO FROM PAGE TO STAGE ON HIS HIT CBC SERIES (MF GALAXY 114)


STRATEGY FOR NO-NONSENSE ACTING, LEGENDARY COMEDY TROUPE THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE, PERCENTAGES GAME OF WRITING + RECORDING THE IRRELEVANT SHOW, MONEY VS POWER IN COMEDY

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If you listen to CBC Radio then you’ve almost certainly heard the comedy of Neil Grahn. He’s been a debater on The Debaters, but he’s best known as one of the sketch comics on and lead writer for The Irrelevant Show.
Years ago Grahn was part of a pioneering sketch comedy troupe in Edmonton called Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie which included Cathleen Rootsaert, Wes Borg, and the late Joe Bird, which was briefly a television show. He’s currently the writer/director/producer behind the Gemini Award-winning series Taking It Off, and he’s a documentarian with many films to his credit including one about Amber Valley, one of the earliest African towns in Alberta. He’s constantly busy writing pilots and hustling to put new work into gear. The man is a machine, with plenty of wisdom to share about making it in the business of comedy writing.


In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Neil Grahn discusses:
  • The no-nonsense approach to acting for actors and directors and why both must be open to whiplash-inducing turns
  • Why being a great comedy writer means risking never earning a living
  • His legendary E-Town comedy troupe Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie and how it didn’t get its name
  • The percentages game of writing and recording his hit comedy radio programme The Irrelevant Show
  • What more money costs you in show biz, and why making comedy on CBC radio is such a creative joy
  • How sketches go from the page to the stage on The Irrelevant Show
He spoke with me at his home in South-West Edmonton on November 19, 2014. And now on MF GALAXY, my conversation with Neil Grahn.

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neilgrahn.com
deadtroll.com

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SHELAGH ROGERS - HOW RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SURVIVORS CHANGED HER LIFE, HOW TO ENHANCE THE PERSONAL QUALITY INTERVIEWERS MUST POSSESS, HOW AND WHY CANLIT GOT BETTER (MF GALAXY 113)


THE JOB OF THE NEXT CHAPTER, WHY LIT SHOULDN’T BE ALL BRAN, INTERVIEWING ADVICE PETER GZOWSKI GAVE HER, WHEN TO BUILD RAPPORT WITH GUESTS, WHY IT’S BETTER SHE CAN’T SEE HER GUESTS, THE BEST WAY TO STYLE YOUR VOICE

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If you’re a Canadian who loves books as much as you love radio, then it’s almost a guarantee that legendary broadcaster Shelagh Rogers has been in your life for a long time.

Rogers is the host and producer of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, Canada’s leading author-interview radio show focusing on indigenous and settler Canadian writers. She started at CBC in 1980, hosting music and current affairs programmes, and working her way up eventually became the permanent guest host on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside, the host of This Morning, and also of Sounds Like Canada.

She’s won a range of awards and honourary doctorates, and as a result of her work and advocacy, Native Counseling Services of Alberta gave her their Achievement in the Aboriginal Community Award, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada inducted her as an honourary witness, the Order of Canada elected her as an Officer, and the University of Victoria named her Chancellor.

Rogers was in Edmonton on February 28, 2017 to host the Edmonton Public Library’s Conversation about Reconciliation at the Ramada Inn on Kingsway. Before she took the stage, we spoke briefly about a range of topics, including:
  • How a group of residential school survivors changed her life, and why she needed quit her show to pursue their story
  • The job of her show The Next Chapter and why literature shouldn’t be All Bran
  • The personal quality that interviewers must possess, and how you can learn to enhance it
  • When people are most likely to respond to you so you can build rapport
  • The advice that radio legend Peter Gzowski gave her
  • Why not being able to see her guests is not a bug, but a feature
  • How CanLit has changed for the better, and
  • For broadcasters and podcasters, the best way to style your voice
And now on MF GALAXY, my conversation with Shelagh Rogers.

Shelagh Rogers provided EPL with a selection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children's books that explore residential schools, reconciliation, and Indigenous identity.

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BEN DOBYNS, INDIE FILMMAKER OF JOURNEYQUEST + STROWLERS ON THE ART MAKING YOUR BEST INDIE FILM + THE SCIENCE OF CROWDFUNDING IT (MF GALAXY 112)


IS WORK-LIFE BALANCE POSSIBLE IN FILMMAKING? MAKING CREATIVE COMMONS TV, THE ONLY WISE INVESTMENT IN INDIE FILM, THE BEST WAY TO CROWDFUND, SHOOTING SHAMANS IN ULAANBAATAR
 
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You ever dream of being a filmmaker? Maybe writing or directing television? Maybe you thought about it and figured that moving to Hollywood was out of the question, or even if you were willing to go, that climbing the ladder in Hollywood was too long a shot?

Or even if you were willing to try the long slog, you wouldn’t want men in suits ruining the stories you really want to tell by replacing all your egalitarian ideas with offensive stereotypes, or shoving all your most ingenious character creation, plots, and world-building into a blender to turn them into mass-market pablum? Because it takes millions of dollars to make a movie, which you could never raise on your own?

What if I told you that you could stay in your home town or even home country, tell the stories you want to tell and the way you want to tell them, and that it wouldn’t be Hollywood paying the bills, but your most loyal fans? Sound too good to be true?

It won’t sound that way to maverick indie filmmaker and pioneering crowdfunder Ben Dobyns, because that’s exactly what he’s done and doing.

Dobyns is a film producer, editor, cinematographer, composer, writer, and director, and one of the founders of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, or ZOE. He also has a minor in Latin. He worked for years in Seattle and has now relocated to Vancouver BC. He and ZOE have just completed their third season of their indie-TV comedy-fantasy series JourneyQuest.

They’ve also produced Strowlers, a forthcoming series about a world in which magic is suppressed and regulated by a xenophobic, oppressive government.  

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Ben Dobyns discusses:
  • What Hollywood film-makers should be learning from French film production to make their workplaces better for workers
  • How getting ripped off by a Hollywood distributor led him to create a Creative Commons business model
  • Why indie film is a bad investment while his company Zombie Orpheus can repay investors within twelve months
  • The 1000 True Fans concept, how his team invented Patreon before Patreon, and how they crowd-fund today
  • Why your films should be ads for your company instead of selling ads for your films
  • How best to use Kickstarter and Patreon simultaneously, what his different backers want from each, and one surprisingly delightful physical reward
  • How he gets to make exactly the films he wants, and why selling his company’s stories and worlds to a giant media company would probably destroy their value
  • Why he’s heading off to Mongolia to work with the shamans of Ulaanbaatar, and
  • What makes human beings and societies stronger
We spoke by Skype on February 15, 2017, and began by discussing the critically-important question that a mentor asked him about what price he was willing to pay for success in filmmaking.

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Ben Dobyns IMDb http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1389141/

Zombie Orpheus Entertainment YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ZombieOrpheusEnt

Zombie Orpheus Entertainment is fan funded and creator distributed. Support them at Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/zombieorpheus

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PLAYWRIGHT CHERYL FOGGO ON JOHN WARE, CANADA’S MOST FAMOUS COWBOY, AN AFRICAN-CANADIAN LEGEND WHOSE EXISTENCE CHALLENGES THE BACK-PATTING CANADIAN MYTH OF BENEFICENCE (MF GALAXY 111)


HOW LEARNING JOHN WARE WAS AFRICAN CHANGED HER LIFE, HOW FOGGO’S EXPERIENCE AS RESEARCHER, JOURNALIST + HISTORIAN AFFECTS HER CHARACTER CONSTRUCTION, AND WHY POETS MAKE THE BEST PLAYWRIGHTS

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John Ware is the greatest Canadian legend you probably have never heard of. He was a 19th Century West African born into the American continent-wide rape-gulag that apologists call the Old South. He went on to become one of thousands of African-American cowboys, and he eventually moved to what is now Alberta to become a master bronco-buster, successful rancher, a founder of modern rodeo culture, and a man of near mythic proportions with the strength of Paul Bunyan and the power of a horse whisperer.

Ware earned the admiration of many of his fellow settlers on First Nations territory, although many Euro-Canadians called him, and please excuse the language, “Nigger John,” and after he died, used the N-word to describe Alberta landmarks associated with John Ware, names that remained until late in the 20th Century. His reconstructed cabin still exists—you can find it in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

While a few people have written books about John Ware, it’s possible that no one has done more original research than celebrated Alberta journalist, essayist, YA novelist, and playwright Cheryl Foggo. She’s written for Canadian Magazine, Reader’s Digest.ca, Avenue, AlbertaViews, Western Living, Sunday Magazine, and The Globe and Mail, among many others.

Foggo's play John Ware Reimagined premiered in Calgary in August, 2014, and the script won the Writers Guild of Alberta 2015 Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. She’s currently developing a John Ware documentary with the National Film Board of Canada. Her many other projects include adapting Chinua Achebe’s classic novel Things Fall Apart, and Hiding Place, a history of African settlements in southern Alberta. Foggo also makes acclaimed multi-media presentations across Alberta, including Ranchers, Rebels and the Righteous, Creole, and Unlocking Sacred Codes.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Cheryl Foggo discusses:
  • How learning that John Ware was an African-Canadian changed her life
  • Mildred Lewis, who became John Ware’s wife, and the remarkably accomplished Lewis family from Ontario
  • How John Ware’s story defies the myths of Canadian beneficence and Euro-Canadian settler identity
  • How Cheryl Foggo has changed her playwriting craft over her career
  • How her experience as researcher, journalist, and historian affects how she constructs characters, and
  • Why poets often make the best playwrights
We spoke on February 14, 2017 at the Old Arts Barns in Strathcona, Edmonton, when she was in town to conduct a playwriting workshop. She began by discussing how when she was a girl she was a cowboy culture nerd. Please note that for the sake of historical clarity, I’ve left the use of the N-word in today’s podcast.

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cherylfoggo.com

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SOULJAH FYAH’S LATEST ALBUM THE LONG WALK, MAKING THE ALBUM IN JAMAICA + WHY WAYMATEA WON’T SING HER MOST POPULAR SONG EVER (MF GALAXY 111)


MAKING SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS ALBUMS WHEN LOVE SONGS COULD MAKE HER RICH,  MOST RECENT LESSONS IN MARKETTING AND PROMOTING HER BAND, WHY SHE WON’T TOUR THE UNITED STATES
 
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Souljah Fyah. They’re an outstanding reggae band. And that’s not just me saying it. Here’s what Shelly Gummeson from Earshot-Online says: “On and off stage...[lead singer] Sista J exudes a high voltage, positive energy. Unfettered without setting limitations is precisely the attitude and energy that has propelled Edmonton’s Souljah Fyah to become Canada’s top Reggae band.” They’ve won all kinds of acclaim: including a Juno nomination, two Western Canadian Music Association awards, and twice-declared the best reggae band in Canada by the Canadian Reggae Music Awards and the Reggae Music Achievement Awards.

So who’s in Souljah Fyah? The leader is Waymatea Ellis, better known as Sista J; she’s the lead singer, the lyricist, and she plays bass; she’s also a reverend with her own healing practice. Too Tall Paul Joosse sings and plays keyboard and bass. Stormin’ Norman Frizzell plays keyboard and megaphone, and the Original Tribesman plays percussion. The band is back with The Long Walk, recorded at Edmontone Studio in Edmonton and Mad Rebel Studios in Negril, Jamaica, and the album features the classic mix that made Souljah Fyah great: intelligent lyrics full of personal and social commentary, and music and lyrics as warm as the Caribbean sun.

In today’s conversation, Waymatea discusses:
  • Why she makes albums rich with political and social content even though love songs would be more likely to make her rich
  • The impact of guest vocalist Access on the album and how she met the Jamaican singer
  • How her songwriting has changed to produce this latest album
  • Her most recent lessons in marketting and promoting her band, why she won’t tour the United States, and the impact of the late Soulicitors ska band member Kelly Callin on The Long Walk.
Throughout today’s show you’ll hear tracks from the latest album, including “Inner Critic,” “Bigger Than Me,” “One More Chance” with guest singer Access, “Circle,” and “All is Still.” Waymatea spoke with me by Skype on February 14, 2017. We began by discussing the meaning of the title The Long Walk.


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SOULJAH FYAH
souljahfyah.com
waymateamusic.com

BUY THE LONG WALK
souljahfyah.com/listenbuy

REVEREND WAY
waymatea.com

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