Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Latin Pop R&B artist Marcel Red is a young singer/songwriter from the Inland Empire who is making a statement with his new EP “I Am…Marcel Red!” The new EP touches on all elements of the mind and soul with feel-good sultry pop, funk and R&B tunes. The first single “What You Did” dropped March 2016 on iTunes. “What You Did” is about a man struggling with suspected infidelity and the pain of seeing the women he loves in the arms of another man, it’s driving him crazy.

Marcel’s music incorporates a vocal style reminiscent of music icons Maxwell, Sam Smith and Brian McKnight while remaining true to his own unique sound and style. Marcel has performed with some of the industry’s biggest names including Pretty Ricky, Silk, Troop, J. Holiday, Annette Moreno, among others. He’s also been able to work with industry heavyweights like Jonas Weeks and Multi-Platinum producer Carlos Battey from The Jackie Boyz. Weeks and Battey have worked with artists such as Bruno Mars, NeYo, Linkin Park, Madonna, Chris Brown, Justin Beiber, and many others.

His new single “What You Did” and the EP are both available now on iTunes and Listen to the new single here -

Interview with Marcel Red:

Tell us about your career in music. What was that pivotal moment when you decided you wanted to become a Music Artist?

Marcel: I am Marcel Red. I am a recording artist and music is my life. Since I was a little boy, I was exposed to music. I am fortunate to have a talented family. My grandmother was a singer and so was my dad, that's where I get my talent from. My dad and mom constantly played oldies such as Prince, Al Green among few. My family and I use to have fun singing their songs. The moment I decided that singing was my call, was after my brother passed away. I found myself pondering about my future. Then somehow I decided that I belong on stage, and that my soul is my music. I decided that no matter what the sacrifices or obstacles, I was going to face it and accomplish my dreams.

Who helped to inspire and shape who you are today?

Marcel: My family has been very influential in my life and in my singing career. As I mentioned before we all love music and they are very supportive of me as an artist. Other influences are artists like Prince, Maxwell, Sam Smith and Brian McKnight are just a few artists that I have always look up to. I love the fact that they are constantly reinventing themselves and always challenging their artistry. That is what I try to do because I am always looking for ways to better myself.

What is your new EP I Am Mercel Red about? What do you want listeners to take away from your project?

Marcel: Most of the songs on my EP are about relationships from finding love to dealing with infidelity and breakups. Other songs are about encouragement, such as my song “Freedom.” "I Am... Marcel Red" is influenced by many genre R&B, Funk and Urban. The tracts have been shaped into its unique style giving today's generation a different outlook from sound and rhythm of yesterday music. This project was more experimental for me. I want the listeners to hear the diversity of this project, so they can experience the diversity of my vocals. So far, track # 2, "Love Me Better" is causing the most sensation in many parts of the world such in Japan and the U.K. and "Freedom" in Latin America.

Tell us about your new single "What You Did"? What is this song about?

Marcel: The song is about a man struggling with a suspected infidelity. The pain he is going through seeing the woman he loves in the arms of another man, it’s driving him crazy. The shadows of desperation and insecurities are suffocating him insanely.

What artists do you look up to today?

Marcel: I am always fascinated with artist who are not extremist and not so traditional. Artist that I like today are Beyonce, Jason Derulo, The Weekend, some to mention. In my opinion, these artists have overexcited their expectations. My all time favorite artists are Maxwell and Prince, may Prince rest in peace. This is a huge lost to the music industry. He is an all times music legend.

If you could share the stage with any artist, who would you perform with?

Marcel: I'm a performer when it comes to the stage! I definitely would have to say Chris Brown or Beyoncé. They know how to work the crowd with their amazing choreography and dance moves.

What is in store for 2016 and what can fans look forward in the coming months?

Marcel: ? I am currently promoting my new EP "I am ... Marcel Red" and soon I will be releasing the video for "What You Did" directed by Olia Oparina. Olia has work with many artist, so I am excited about that. I will also be performing soon in several cities across California and I’m in the process of starting my new album soon for later this year.

Connect with Marcel Red:
Website –
Facebook –
Twitter –
Instagram –

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Secrets of LOST: Interview with Gillian Harris

Gillian spent a decade as a Broadcast Journalist in Los Angeles, CA where she enjoyed a very successful and exhilarating career as a radio 'air personality' rubbing elbows with Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, and other greats in the R & B world. Her experiences have assisted in making the transition from media personality to a successful entrepreneur and influential voice of the metaphysical. An ordained minister, Gillian is now founder and CEO of Bless & Clear, a business that focuses on sacred ceremonies. In the early 2000’s she also founded Valet Of The Dolls, which is a private event valet company based out of Malibu, CA. A longtime student of Spirituality and Metaphysics, Gillian says “My interests in the spiritual world began when I was a teenager with clairvoyant and inter-dimensional experiences.” Those experiences eventually led to her first and best selling manuscript, ‘The Secrets of Lost; The Validity of Multi-Dimensional Existence.”

Interview with Gillian Harris

All Indie: Tell us about your career. How did it all start? 

Gillian: My career began unfolding the day after graduating with my B.A. in Speech Communications. The day after the ceremony at Long Beach State I did my first shift as a Broadcast Journalist on a then famous Rock & Roll station KNAC FM. Over the next 20 years I covered the dial AM and FM finally ending as a DJ/Air Personality at 103.9 KACE FM where I owned afternoon drive 2 – 7pm Monday – Friday! I LOVED that job!
In 2000, stuff happened, the industry and life changed. Next thing I knew I was parking cars for a living! What?! Yes! True story! Ha!

Actually, KACE was sold and the new owners turned it into a language I don’t speak so I was job hunting! Found a cool company of female valet parkers that I just couldn’t resist! Fell in love with the concept, the product and as the daughter of a precision driver, I was a natural for handling any Maserati or Lambo to come my way!

I ran this company for a while in an effort to learn the operational part of it. I offered my service as Operations Manager for a mere $10 per hour in exchange for the opportunity to apprentice under the owner promising that if I liked it and was good at it, I’d buy it from her.

Nearly 2 years later, with her company now larger and more profitable than she’d ever experienced in her 19 year history, she fired me and proceeded to turn down all of my 5 offers to buy.

What was I to do?! Here I had an amazing skill for an incredible product which I loved and had grown to master. The business and the know-how was a burning passion inside me. I prayed for a sign. I said, “God, give me a great name and I’ll know I’m supposed to do this”. I brain stormed for 3 days and on that final day Valet Of The Dolls was born! In that moment – silent electricity and my mind couldn’t help but travel in a flash to moments when as a latch key kid, home alone I sat on my Dads side of the bed. Inside his nightstand drawer (where I wasn’t supposed to be looking!) was a copy of the paperback, “The Valley of the Dolls”. Though I never read it, I was always fascinated by it. And now, Valet Of The Dolls, made perfect sense to me. I did see a potential sticking point in the name given the racey subject matter of the book. I would have to market around and through it.

In the book and movie Valley of the Dolls the ‘Dolls’ were …not people! Right?! Lol! But in our story VALET of the Dolls it’s completely different, as the Dolls are attractive (145 women and about 5 guys), kind, helpful people who can maneuver your Bentley, in reverse, with quarter inch precision!

Nearly 15 years old now, Valet Of The Dolls provides valet service to roughly 600 private events per year serving Los Angeles, Orange County and Palm Springs California.

The beauty of owning my own company has been the flexibility to explore my truest desires and studies in alignment with my life purpose which is in the realm of Spirituality and Metaphysics.

Over the years I studied to hone my gifts as a medium, channel and intuit. Ultimately I climbed the ladder of attunements to Reiki Master/Teacher (Usui & Tibetan Reiki). I was eventually ordained a minister and earned a Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology. I own an additional company called ‘Bless & Clear’ which specializes in sacred ceremonies. Weddings, house blessings & clearings and more than a dozen other types of passage rites. Most recently, there’s been a surge in requests for ‘Conscious Decoupling’ ceremonies! This has led to a processing workshop to prepare singles and severing couples for their Conscious Decoupling Ceremony which is (in short) a rite of passage blessing and celebrating what was, what is and what shall be.

- How did my career start? Which one?!! I’m also an author and speaker which is the newest career but feels born out of all the previous. I guess my career(s) each started with… an idea and a resulting feeling that screamed “YES!” from my heart & solar plexus simultaneously. I then follow the visions, one at a time, setting them in place with 100% focus on manifestion.

All Indie: Who are the most memorable people you met while you worked in Radio?

Gillian: Stevie Wonder (worked for his 102.3 KJLH, then interviewed him live, in-studio at 103.9 KACE), Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Lionel Richie, Tina Marie & Rick James and a really amazing on-air colleagues like, Wolfman Jack, Charlie Tuna and the Real Don Steel. After enjoying them as a kid, what an honor it was to share the airwaves with them. And there were also many other talented people who became friends and made going to work even more fun!

All Indie: Looking back, who was your most influential figure or figures?

Gillian: In Broadcasting: Two women in particular; Linda Ellerbee and the late Jessica Savitch. So poised. Delivery that would absolutely mesmerize me! These two ladies in particular were masters of inflection unlike anything I’ve yet to experience from anyone else since. Well, other than me! They taught me to deliver my information in a professionally brazen & daringly raw way. – How to work a pregnant pause to its very …last …beat!

In Entrepreneurship: Oprah Winfrey

In Spirituality: Visionary Michael Beckwith, Author/Teacher Marianne Williamson, Medium James Von Praagh and Multi-Dimensional Healer Lori Board Camacho.

All Indie: You recently wrote the book,  The Secrets of Lost: The Validity of Multi-Dimensional Existence. What inspired you to wrote this book and what is it about?

Gillian: I was inspired by a combination of things; my life-long involvement in and study of metaphysics and my experience of watching the T.V.Series ‘Lost’! I’m not even a T.V. watcher! The mere fact that I bumped into this series and watched the entire (121 episodes) (TWICE), is amazing! What came forth for me from seeing the series the first time, was the opportunity to use this exciting show as a springboard for discussion about life and life after life – and maybe a little life in between life, while we’re at it! I enjoyed bringing as much science as I could to the subjects but it’s also very spiritually thought provoking, comical and intermittently vulnerable as I share from my personal hearts journey in facing life and the transitions of my most beloveds to life after life… Ultimately, the book is about living and doing it with no reservations or fear! All the while, know that the people you are closest to in this incarnation – and even some you’re not so close to (!) are sharing other incarnations with you in other dimensions, at this very moment. The book explains why that’s VERY mportant information! For clarity; There is no life after death. Because …there is no death. There is only life…after life, after life… ‘The Secrets of Lost’ reveals what’s really going on. How MUCH is going on. How BUSY we each are, here, there and everywhere! It explains why, right now, you and me, are as dead as dead gets!

All Indie: What is in store for Gllian Harris in the near future? What can fans look forward to?

Gillian: Getting “The Secrets….” Out is an exciting campaign for me. I’m looking forward to book signings and other opportunities to meet not only like-minded beings out there who may have read the book. But also looking forward to simply engaging in conversation about the subjects covered in the book. My overall goal with this information is to share the comfort understanding can bring.

To find more about Gillian Harris’s incredible journey, please visit:
Twitter - @parallelparkit

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Featured Music Video: As The Tide Goes By by Scott Taylor

Music by Braver Noise
Vocals Scott Taylor
Guitar and Bass Tony Fazio
Drums Dean Dalfonso
Directed By: Sophia Dagher
Director of Photography: Jason Mannings

Starring: Connor Wylie, Tricia Collins

For such a long time now
these years have haunted me
so alone in my bare existence

For in a cry, there is hope
many years of hurting

For such a long time now
these years have taunted me
so alone in my bare existence

For in a cry, there is hope
many years of hurting

I am so cold
I am so very lonely
wanting your love
as the tide goes by.
For in a cry, there is hope
many years of hurting

Interview with Yourz Truly

Rapper, singer, songwriter Quartez L. Binns better known as Y.T (Yourz Truly), started out as a R&B artist and would later go on to prove to be multi-talented as he took on Hip Hop as a freestyle rap battler, showcasing his lyrical skills during his high school years. Known for his diverse style and musical creativity, Yourz Truly is the first artist to be released on the indie label FaSho Records based in Atlanta. While other artists tip-toe around originality, Yourz Truly spent his time developing his song material and craft songs that make his pen separate from the majority of crowd. From R&B to Hip Hop, he found a way to create his own sound in the landscape of urban music. Yourz Truly flaunts a polished, energetic flow , but he also takes his music SERIOUS.

Interview with Yourz Truly 

What inspired you to become a music artist and why did you focus on Hip Hop?

YT: Music was always a way of life for me ever since I could remember so to be a artist came naturally , Hip Hop was a former of art I was inspired to do from freestyle rap battle. Who was your idol growing up?

What makes your music stand alone from other Hip Hop artists?

YT: I've always admired the greats such as Michael Jackson, because of the impact he's had on lives of others. Which I hope to have someday.

Like many genres that have come and gone throughout history, do you think Hip-Hop is here to stay?

YT: Yes , hip hop has always been considered to be a voice for the voiceless , I believe it's here to stay because it's A form of art that speaks to people world wide in a way that they can relate and carry into there everyday lives.

Tell us about your writing process. Are your songs a reflection of your life?

YT: When it comes to songwriting I usually try to write about different subjects which allows me to showcase my versatility . But there are songs that I've written that are a reflection of my life such as (Going In For Life)

For those that have never listened to your music, what do you want people to expect to hear?

YT: I want people to expect versatility. A mixture of styles, creative lyrics, different genres, and Overall Good Music

What is on the horizon for Yourz Truly? A music video, a tour, a new EP? What can fans look forward from you in the coming months?

YT: Yes of course , I have a debut EP (First Impression) comming soon , 3 singles out now (They Don't Put It Down Like You) , (Going In For Life) and (Pretty Girls) , and i currently have new single on the way

Find more of Yourz Truly at

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Featured Music Video: "Heartbeat" by Charles Anthony

Latest Song by independent R&B singer Charles Anthony 
Artist: Charles Anthony
Song: Heartbeat
Directed by- Tony Jones
Filmed By- Amber Red Bear
Charles Anthony Instagram
Buy "Heartbeat" on Google play

Soul Singer: Interview with Akua Allrich

Akua Allrich has proven herself to be a musician of extraordinary talent and crowd- moving passion.
With finesse and charisma, this vocalist, composer and teacher, has successfully etched out a place for her unique musical expression, electrifying audiences in and around the globe with sold-out performances.

With the launch of her independently produced albums, A Peace of Mine, in 2010, Uniquely Standard, Akua Allrich Live! in 2012, and her latest release Soul Singer, the young artist’s music and concerts created a significant buzz with critics and music-lovers alike. Said Franz Matzner of All About Jazz, “Akua Allrich’s music flows with a free, natural energy as engaging as her equally ingenuous personality.” Her appeal soon reached across US borders and attained international attention. In early 2011, Allrich signed a distribution deal with Japanese record label AGATE/Inpartmaint Inc. Her debut CD, A Peace of Mine, was released in Japan during their “Golden Week” of May 2011. Music lovers and tastemakers from around the world expressed their appreciation and excitement for this new music.

An international talent, Akua’s base is far reaching; she just recently returned from Qatar, where she performed at the prestigious St. Regis Doha. Sparing no time in getting back to work, Akua is ecstatic to announce “The Freedom Soul Tour,” consisting of 8 East Coast Venue performances.

Interview with Akua Allrich

Describe your style of Jazz?

Akua: I think I would best describe my style as Soul Jazz, or Pan-African Jazz. I incorporate all of the expressions I was raised with in my music. My parents raised me as an African woman, with a deep appreciation and love for the cultural and artistic expressions of African people from around the world. It's almost impossible for that influence not to be heard in my sound. Although, I was trained in the Jazz idiom, you can here the soul Africa , my present, and my ancestors come through; DC, Miami, Mississippi, the Caribbean to West and Southern Africa. The blues, jazz, R&B, Hip HOp, Gogo, Rock, Reggae, Bossa, Afro-beat, all of it. Soulful Jazz, a complete expression of the African experience.

What Artists inspired you to be who you are today?

Akua: My most notable early inspiration is definitely my dad, Agyei Akoto, a jazz musician and educator. He was my first music teacher, from watching him rehearse with his band (Nation) and listening to his albums, to being his student in our Jazz band in middle school. But my parents really exposed me and my siblings to the best music from all over with their album collection; Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Diana Ross, Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Pharoah Sanders, John Coltrane, Olatunji, Oscar Brown Jr., Earth Wind and Fire, Bill Withers, Muddy Waters, Michael Jackson, Archie Shepp, the list is endless! Each of these artists have their own unique sound and expression. They were all dedicated to using their art for social justice.

What was the reason you choose to record and distribute your album as a Live version over a studio multi-track engineered album?

Akua: I recorded my second album, Uniquely Standard: Akua Allrich Live!, live at Bohemian Caverns in 2012. My goal was to give people a taste of me as a performing artist, even if they can't make it to my performance. I am primarily a performing artist, and I pride myself in connecting with and involving the listening audience in efforts of creating a reciprocal experience and not just a concert. I want people to leave feeling like they participated in the creation of an amazing energy that inspires them.

What else is interesting about your music that you want to convey to your listeners?

Akua: I would love for folks to follow me at,on, and on I am so excited about my current "Soul Freedom Tour", promoting my latest album, "Soul Singer". We are adding dates and cities every week. Please buy my albums, "A Peace of Mine", "Uniquely Standard: Akua Allrich Live!" and "Soul Singer", and spread the word! Keep supporting the arts!

What else do you have planned for the near future?

Akua: I'm going to do my best to continue spreading peace, love and light through my music and through teaching. I plan on reaching people nationally and internationally.

For more information please visit:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Interview with FHTMG

This independent record label based out of Washington, D.C. is among the most subversive record label in the world. FHTMG is a collective of Washington, D.C. natives and artists who are globally-minded and socially-oriented. Most known for its online fundraising campaign which went viral and featured in mainstream outlets across the US, ultimately sending label artists Pacman and Peso to Pyongyang, North Korea to film in, and around the city. (Read via Huffington Post, Washington Post)

Already off to a demanding start to 2016, this internationally aware music label, has just returned from Cuba on their collaboration with Cuba Skate,, in an effort to support and grow the Cuban skateboarding and hip-hop communities. The initiative provided access to skateboarding equipment that is otherwise unavailable on the island; in addition cross-promoted culture and lifestyle. In doing so, the label has constructed an environment for Cuban youth that will have a positive impact on the greater community.

This was just a first step following a return to US and Cuban diplomacy. FHTMG has various initiatives underway in an effort to build cultural bridges; undertaking both humanitarian efforts, and raising awareness to the battles that lie ahead. In addition, the label has applied this same approach internationally as they now expand internationally with new projects and offices in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Beirut.

On April 18th, at the label will be releasing the highly anticipated Bernie Bitch by Abu Rahss, in support of #Bernie2016 and the New York primaries. Bernie Bitch is a hybrid music video with campaign undertones, officially lending FHTMG’s support to 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Interview with FHTMG:

All Indie: Tell us about your label and your Artist roster. What music do you primarily promote and represent. Currently, who are your Top artists and why?

FHTMG: Our label FHTMG is a collective of artists from Washington DC who for the most part grew up together/went to school together. Our artists include PacMan Slim, Abu Rahss, Peso, iLL da Artist, Nine Five, Predatah, and others. We like to be flexible and promote any idea/song that we think is the best at the moment. Recently it's been mainly iLL da Artist, Abu Rahss (me), and PacMan Slim because we have been the most active. Music/creativity ebbs and flows so whoever is doing the most at any given moment we like to rally behind and push.

All Indie: As an Independent label, what do you think is your toughest challenges and what is your remedy to this challenge?

FHTMG: Our toughest challenge as an independent label is that everything is DIY, so we have more control and freedom but less support. Being in DC is good for creativity since their is a very active and strong urban culture but it's also difficult since we are isolated from the larger music/entertainment industry. We just try to focus on being creative and having fun and working hard, and hope everything will fall into place in the long run.

All Indie: Because you’re based out of Washington, D.C., do you have more involvement in politics? What political candidate you strongly support and why?

FHTMG: Being in DC probably gives us more of a political outlook but that's also influenced by the background of our different artists. We have a lot of people with international backgrounds who are naturally politically oriented. We all support Bernie Sanders strongly because we feel he's the only candidate who addresses our communities with respect (Black Americans, Latino Americans, and Arab Americans). I have a Bernie Sanders song/video coming out next week that I think will be big. The website is, and you will be able to see the video live Monday the 18th, right before the New York primaries.

All Indie: Tell us about your recent involvement with Cuba Skate. What inspired you to travel to Cuba and what Artist(s) performed for the Cuban people?

FHTMG: One of my best friends from DC, Miles Jackson, is the founder of Cuba Skate, which has become the top Skateboarding organization in Cuba. He has been going and doing great work for 6 years and has an amazing community of Skaters and artists down there, including rappers. It's an amazing and inspiring place that brings the creativity out of you so we try to be involved as possible with Cuba Skate and visit/help out whenever we can (we made 2 trips in 2015 and will continue to visit). PacMan and I (Abu Rahss) performed in Havana and got a great reception from the local scene. Hip Hop is very much an underground culture in Cuba so everybody is humble and eager to work with new people without consideration of status/personal benefit. With the recent positive developments between the US and Cuba, we hope to ramp up our involvement with Cuba.

All Indie: Moving forward into 2016, tell us about any upcoming news on some of your Artists. Are you arranging any tours or releases soon?

FHTMG: We have lots of stuff planned for 2016. I'm living in London now and will be collaborating with artists here and in Germany and releasing videos. PacMan Slim and iLL da Artist have been working with a lot of DC artists and will be releasing music. We don't have any tours or projects/albums coming soon but we will be doing one-off shows and releasing lots of songs/videos (we put new videos out every few weeks). We will release a body of work later in the year. We also have some things planned in the Middle East and Africa which will probably be released later this year or early next year.

Find more of

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Grace by Glitter Rose, a tragic love story with a happy ending

The award winning Glitter Rose is pleased to announce the new single and music video "Grace" is live on iTunes and YouTube!

Watch the video here: "Grace" OFFICIAL Music Video 
"Grace" is a very personal song for the 8-time award winner and one of the deciding factors of the direction of the new album, Outlaw In Love. Glitter has never shown her vulnerability when it comes to love in music, and at this point in her life, she grew tired of hiding what was really inside.

For years, Glitter was encouraged by someone who she looked up to and admired tremendously, to lie about who she was and her true feelings. She was told its better to hide and be someone else. Now, as she became a woman, and her own person, Glitter came to realize that it's not healthy to hide.

"The story of 'Grace' was a very hard and dark period in my life. I was being forced to leave the person I love and hurt them and myself," - Glitter Rose

At some point, Glitter predicts her future by writing the last verse of this song, resulting in a happy ending.

"Everyone deserves a happy ending, even if you think you don't."

Written and Produced by Glitter Rose
Mixed by Professor Jay Henry
Musician's include Glitter Rose (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals),Ian Charlie (lead guitar), Erik Ralston (bass) and Chris Hoffman (drums)
Mastered by Morgan Sizer - Mozu Mastering

Friday, February 12, 2016

Juanita Destra Announces the Release of her First Children Book, Fluffy the Bird

For Immediate Release

Media Relation Contact: Destra World Books Publishing, LLC / Ronald

Location: Florida




Florida, January 26, 2016-- Juanita Destra, a great and brilliant medical worker, author and publisher announces the release of her latest children book titled, 'Fluffy the Bird'. The book reflected Juanita's years of experience in writing and publishing, which makes her newest work a must get for every parent.

Juanita Destra's new book was written with the future of today's children by employing the best way to get to the heart of children in presenting the book through storytelling. Not only that the book was written using storytelling style, it was well connected and arranged that parents will not have to consult the author or any writer to understand the meaning and relate it to the kids accordingly.

The new children book from an excellent writer, Juanita Destra is not a book that will only educate, entertain and inspire kids, but was written and equipped with the capacity and ability to instill in the proper values needed to succeed in life.

Apart from that, another great advantage of Juanita Destra's Fluffy the Bird children book is the opportunity for parents or guardians to learn how to properly communicate with the children and inculcate great value that helps in shaping the kids destiny. Also, it encourages reading culture which ignites the kid's imagination and creativity.

Fluffy the Bird is a must have book for every parent that wants to raise admirable children with success mind-set.

(c) 2016 Juanita Destra & Destra World Books Publishing, LLC All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Where Art Meets Life: Interview with LEE

LEE is a film noir aficionado Director whose passion for black-and-white films as a child slowly morphed over the years into a fine appreciation of cinematography. Lee especially loves Kurosawa, Wong Kar-Wai, Frank Capra and Orson Welles films. Having grown up on a diet of TCM-aired English classics, and Mandarin, Japanese, Malay, Hindi and Tamil black-and-white films from the 40-60s as well as 90s Hong Kong movies and contemporary arthouse foreign films, Lee has a very unique perspective on things and themes. Being a nomadic wanderluster, Lee first started making documentary-style private videos of her roadtrips while working in the US at age 21— and finally completed Ji Fan 4 years after it was first written in 2011, amidst a very busy life as a corporate professional. Ji Fan was Lee’s first publicly-released short film after Lee’s US-only My Singapore, My Ferguson, soon to be followed by Xiao Ning (Heart of Darkness). Lee also directs and produces Youtube music videos.

Interview with LEE of Chillifish Productions

Tell us a little about yourself, LEE. What made you decide to become a Film Director?

LEE: I had always been interested in film from a very young age. I wanted to be a lot of things, like an Air Force pilot, a radio broadcaster, an army general…but I never saw myself becoming a director. After living a soul-less life in the corporate world and the penniless life of academia, I decided I would make films during my sabbaticals. And another. And another.

What films influenced your decision to Direct?

LEE: Actually, it was the absence of films on the contrary. I felt that there were no films out there that represented my perspectives and my eye, so to speak, so I wanted to put a film out to the world that represented my perspectives as an observer and director and social commentator at the same time— and I got addicted to making films.

I would have to say also, that my favourite films like the Manchurian Candidate, In the Mood For Love, 12 Angry Men, Z, The Trial, Yojimbo, The Idiot, Rashomon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Mr Smith Goes to Washington definitely inspired me in my directorial pursuits.

Who is your idol Film Director?

LEE: Without a doubt, Wong Kar-Wai. I’m very proudly Asian, so I think In The Mood For Love, for instance, has got to be one of the best films— Asian or otherwise— of all time. In it, you can see his mastery in every single detail and every single shot. It’s just haunting, and seductive and heart-breaking on so many levels.

What are the major challenges you find being a Film Director in this industry?

LEE: Money and exposure. Working on a tight budget is always painful, not just for me but for the people who work for me too of course. And I’m actually a director and producer who believes in paying good and fair value for good work done, alas I’m often not able to due to budgeting constraints. A lot comes out of my own pocket, honestly.

My films are not mainstream enough to get government funding (I don’t want to, anyway), and the local media is also not interested in featuring such highbrow and social commentary type of films. They just want fat or bald Malay actors in lampoonish costumes delivering benign slapstick humour on screen— anything slightly more cerebral than that is a no-fly zone. So I actually get a lot of interest from international media from other countries but not from Singapore itself! Ironic, isn’t it? So yes, more of money and exposure in the local media would be really helpful.

You've released five films so far, with a new film on the way called Xiao Ning. What film are you most proud of and why?

LEE: I think it would have to be Xiao Ning. Xiao Ning has all the elements of an arthouse film gone mental, in a sense. So it’s arthouse not because it’s shot in a certain cinematic arthouse style or that it has profound existential or metaphysical conundrums, but because the whole film itself feels psychotic that you kind of don’t know what it’s about other than an intensity of feelings and a crazy evil girl— until it hits you right at the end. Kinda like Orson Welles’1962 film The Trial, based on Kafka’s work.

Tell us about your newest project Xiao Ning? What is it about and what do you most love about this film project?

LEE: Xiao Ning is a film that would screw with your mind. And that’s probably because it’s from the perspective of a girl who screws with people’s minds.

The film is based on a true story— about a mentally disturbed and morally bankrupt Singaporean Chinese teenage girl from a broken family, who falls for and becomes obsessed with her savior-mentor. Xiao Ning is the sort of black-hearted person who goes out of her way to step on snails and dark things like that. She’s an alcoholic, delusional and has no qualms about doing things that ruin other people’s lives and she typically gets away with a lot of things because people are deceived by her cherubic face and quiet demeanour. Basically, in my character treatment for it, I have her description as a “psycho with the face of an angel”.

When the older lady (who is completely straight) spurns her advances and goes out with a man, Xiao Ning loses it and gets on a destructive path of vengeance.

What I loved most about the film is the fact that we did not have a script! I basically scribbled the entire script on scraps of notebook paper and gave my cast and crew pictures of the pages! I had it all in my head vividly for about 2 years, and dialogue was minimal except for a couple of scenes so that worked. That was good fun, and being on set with my crew who are from a prestigious film school was a nice treat because they understood things I was talking about and were quick to get the feel of what I wanted. It was of course challenging without us having a proper, typed out script for me to convey my shots and meaning, but on many levels they rose to the occasion.

When does Xiao Ning get released and will it be released in the US?

LEE: The short version of Xiao Ning will be released online in the last week of January 2016, but because it will be submitted to international film festivals and they almost always stipulate that the films being entered are not to have been shown publicly prior to the festival, the full version will probably only be publicly available in 2017. Of course we hope that it gets picked up for distribution in the US, but failing which, we probably will try and do the small film festivals circuit internationally— especially in the US where I call home.

Just like Quentin Tarantino repeatedly works with Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, and other actors, lots of Directors continue to work the same actors throughout their careers on several film projects. What actors do you love working with?

LEE: It’s true. I hate going through the whole casting and auditions process, so I try to get people I already know to act in my films. People I can trust, and feel comfortable around. People who know that I am exacting and try to match up to my standards, instead of dismissing things as being ‘too hard to do’ or just making do with half-assed efforts.

Two actors I loved working with despite the fact that they aren’t even established actors are Jon Sim (“Wei Kiat”) from Ji Fan, and Syazwana Kamarshah (“Professor Lisa Rahman”) from Xiao Ning. My characters are not melodramatic, so I prefer the kind of very natural acting that doesn’t involve theatrics— and these two are great at it. Additionally, they take their roles seriously and make sure they understand the back story to their scenes. They give helpful and constructive comments and suggestions on set and when we’re going through the script, so you know they are looking at it from the big picture perspective. I think they can really go far as actors, and I hope they get other opportunities for bigger roles in time to come.

Actually, I really hate working with actors who are divas and think they’re above it all. Or actors who cannot follow instructions (either willfully or due to some cognitive impairment). Some actors do have the skills or the ‘look’ but they have a rotten attitude or frustrate you to no end. It’s really infuriating, in trying to both keep your cool and not compromise artistic integrity when dealing with a diva. I’m someone who has a very low threshold of tolerance for nonsense, so on set it’s really a challenge for me to work with such divas.

What else is on the horizon for LEE and what can expect from you in the coming months?

LEE: I am actually working on writing a script for a feature film that I hope will be my first commercial film. Without giving too much away, it will involve a female banker (I think you can see the pattern of what my lead characters are like) who gets framed for a violent crime she didn’t commit and losing everything she had in life when she serves time— when she is released, she trains up and goes on to become a boxing champion. It’s kinda a little like Raging Bull maybe, except that I don’t actually have $18 million to make it!

Lee from ChilliFish Productions.

Director of:
- Xiao Ning
- Ji Fan
- My Singapore, My Ferguson
- Ah Gong
- Crashing Through Barriers

More LEE of Chillifish Productions:
Website -
Crowdgift link for Ji Fan -
Free version of Xiao Ning link -