Interview

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Whether in Iraq during his USO tour, or the fact that he’s a ‘cheesehead’ at heart, or just bumping into each other in a random social Facebook group, we were meant to meet eventually, so we can sit and talk, while he scavengers on Rocky Rocco pizza, while we share our common interests and philosophies with our life experiences.

Now I sit with him again, to give him his own spotlight to share his own story here on my blog. Hey, Nathan…. Thanks for joining me!

You’ve been doing comedy for a while now, Nathan, with some epic experiences over the years as a performer. Can you give the readers a short resume of who you are and what your accomplishments are that you’ve made over the years of comedy?

A short résumé…  Mi llamo es Nathan. I stand on stage and yap into a microphone, which in turn makes people giggle. I may be a nobody, but I’ve managed to eek out a living slinging jokes. I’ve put out 5 CDs during my career, and have just finished recording/editing my 6th. Two of those CDs receive regular airplay on the Sirius/XM comedy channels, and one of them, “I Might Not Be Joking,” made it into the top 20 on the  iTunes comedy chart.

My official bio is: Not as serious as Plato, but lighter than Socrates. Not as edgy as Clinton, but livelier than Nixon. Not as heavy as GWAR, but deeper than Culture Club.

I’d say that’s accurate.

Tell us the story of how Nathan Timmel got into comedy?

I was in a band in college, and we started picking up some steam. A half-dozen college radio stations started playing our songs, and we began charting on the nationally published College Music Journal, so naturally we imploded. I wanted to go on tour and build a fan base; the singer wanted to get signed to a record label and have them do all the work. I said, “We’re not going to get signed unless we go to the places we’re getting played, get some fans, and give a record label a reason to sign us.”

He disagreed, and the band broke up.

I’m a bass player, one with enough self-awareness to understand I’m no Sting. With little desire to end up in another band where there would be fighting and disagreement, and without the ability to write songs/sing on my own, I decided to hit an open microphone and make with the silly.

It stuck, and here I am.

Most of your comedy would be drawn into the dark humor genre, and a lot of your jokes basically are of you providing your opinions and sharing stories of your life, as well as, making fun of the current issues on politics and society. What do you think is the key to get a message across on an affective domain to the audience?

I think the best way to get a point of view across to anyone is to be universal. If you take a side, then you alienate the other side. If you go with universal truths, it’s hard for anyone to deny or discredit what you’re saying.

People still will deny and disagree with and discredit what you’re saying, but it’s harder for them to do so.

Are you worried about offending the modern audiences with your material considering the controversies today with comedians, i.e. David Chappelle?

I’m not, and here’s why: everyone is offended by something. That’s all there is to it. So no matter how hard you try, someone will take issue with something you say. Therefore, the best approach is to not worry about it. I just go forth with my own values and limits in mind; lines I won’t cross: homophobic, racist, or sexist comments.

Regarding Dave Chappelle, I don’t know that there’s much controversy surrounding him. There’s invented “controversy,” but that’s not real. What you have to remember is that the audience loves his most recent, the “controversial,” special. Not just the in-house audience he recorded it in front of, but everyone, everywhere. The show is currently rocking a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The reason it’s “controversial” is because “critics” have it at 35%. Those “critics” are nothing but a bunch of “woke” idiots virtue signaling how awesome they are to other idiots.

People say you’re supposed to “punch up, not down” in comedy. Meaning you attack the powers that be, not victims. What Chappelle did in his last special is attack woke culture head on, because today that IS punching up. With stupid people being offended by Goddamn everything, and the media writing articles like, “Twitter explodes after… (insert anything non-controversial here)!” and then finding the ten stupidest people on Twitter to use an example of how outraged everyone is, being “woke” means being in power. Thus, that movement is fair game for mockery by comedians.

And note: there is a difference between mockery, and complaining/whining. A lot of people whine/complain. Chappelle mocked, and did so brilliantly.

Hell, even President Obama called out woke “culture.” Hopefully it’s a signal that like anything stupid, it’s time has passed.

Would you ever consider doing comedy specials on streaming services to broaden your audiences?

(Laughs) My buddy is currently in a band, and one of the members said, “We need to make a viral video!”

As if it’s that easy, and that going viral just happens.

I’d absolutely do comedy specials on streaming services, but unless someone is backing those with some authority, it’s doubtful they’d move the needle. I mean, I’ve a YouTube channel with more videos than you can shake a stick at on it. No one cares, because no one knows who I am.

That said: I’m taping my first Dry Bar comedy special next week. I don’t know when they’re going to release it, but I’ve seen some of their videos go viral, so…

*crosses fingers*

Are you planning to go on tour or simply have any new bookings?

I’m always “on tour” and/or looking for new bookings. Being an unknown comedian means you’re perpetually trying to work; you don’t schedule 3 months and then take 3 months off. It’s financially unfeasible to live like that.

You’re not just a comedian. You are also an author. Can you provide a proposal for what your books are about that you’ve published so far? 

To date, I’ve put out three works of non-fiction. The first book was a memoir, and the next two were letters I wrote to my kiddos over the course of a year.

I just finished my first work of nonfiction, and I was about to self-publish it, but the wife read it and sat me down and said, “OK, I’ve always supported your writing, but what you have to understand is: this one is good. Like, really good.”

So, she’s not letting me self-publish; she wants to find me an agent.

I wish her luck, but I know that’s much, much, much easier said than done.

How are your books different from your performances as a comedian?

On stage, I have to be funny. It’s my job. No one goes to a comedy club to do anything but laugh. The books give me an outlet where I don’t have to be “on” all the time. They have funny moments, but they’re not inherently humorous. Writing allows me to explore the other nonsense going on inside my noggin; things that won’t work on stage. Non-jokes, if you will.

What are some of the biggest highlights and accomplishments you’re proud of over the years as a comedian?

It’s easily my time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The two best compliments I’ve ever received have come from shows for the military.

I’ve been closing my shows talking about my time in Afghanistan, and that’s on the CD I have coming out in January: “This Could Get Awkward,” so I’ll tell a story about Iraq.

At Camp Anaconda, a woman named Leah Burton approached me after my show. She shook my hand, and said, “Sitting in the theater, in the darkness, just laughing… I actually forgot where I was for a second. I was laughing, and then I looked down at my uniform and was startled. I looked around the room and wondered why everyone was in military garb. Then I remembered how far from home I was. I remembered I was in Iraq, and my family was a thousand miles away. But for a moment, I forgot.”

I mean… all I do is tell jokes for a living. It’s not supposed to mean anything. So when I hear that against all odds I’ve actually made someone’s life a little more tolerable? It sticks with you.

I know a small portion of some of your background as a comedian that includes life experiences. Your life experiences have been a helpful tool towards your comedy, but the question is, has comedy been a helpful tool for you as an individual? How has it evolved you as a performer and individual?

I don’t think I can put it any better than Hawkeye did on M*A*S*H: If I’m not laughing, I’m screaming.

We live in a cynical world, and the news is always negative. If I wasn’t actively making fun of that, it’d be too much for my fragile little psyche.

Log on to Facebook at any given time and scroll through your feed; it’s people shouting at one another, people whining about how awful their life is… I have “friends” who haven’t made changes in a Goddamn decade. It’s the same litany of negativity over and over and over, without any attempt to self-improve. Comedy has helped me observe such negativity from afar and actively decide not to engage in such behavior.

Two more examples: Last Week Tonight, with John Oliver. That show takes on the most depressing subjects possible and makes you laugh while learning how bleak things are. And finally, The Life of Brian… I saw that as a kid, and it’s always stuck with me: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

“If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.”

Today, you are a great family man now with two beautiful kids and your wife. How is life different now compared to before fatherhood?

I haven’t slept in seven years. I think that’s probably knocked some time off my overall lifespan.

Your stories of your kids have surely added some new material to your arsenal. How has your comedy evolved today compared to your material from ten years ago?

I’d say that like most people, I was angrier when I was younger. We age, we gain perspective, we mellow out…

If you don’t, holy crap are you annoying. Have you ever met an adult–someone in their late 30’s or 40s–that’s still carrying that adolescent chip on their shoulder?

I think my material these days is easier to digest.

Last, but surely not least… How about them Packers? 

They will be the death of me.

57393178_2192747854102026_7287135466250305536_nFresh off of 61st and Pine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we sit and spend some time and get to know the 18 year old, up and coming artist, KEEM HEAVY.

With his dedicated mother, Lynnette, a.k.a. Da Goodsister, by his side as his number one fan and motivator, greatness is surely coming for this young artist.

Tell us your story. In your own words, who is KEEM HEAVY? Give us a small biography of who you are as an individual and as an artist.

KEEM HEAVY: I’m a person that always loved music since I was six years old. The person that inspired me too start doing music and dancing was Chris Brown. My family use too call me Lil’ Breezy, because I always had my shirt off dancing And singing to the girls . When I was nine or ten that’s when I started writing music, because that was the only way to express myself . Since I didn’t ’t tell people about what I’m going through. I always stayed on my own grinding , trying to turn my dreams to reality. I was always a positive person. No matter how many negative things come my way. I always found a way to ignore it by listening or writing music.

Where did your stage name, KEEM HEAVY, originate from?

KH: KEEM HEAVY was given to me actually. I use to just go by KEEM, but my friend Akhen heard me rap for the first time in a studio and told me that I have swag, my songs are hot, and I’m always where the money’s at. In result, he came up with KEEM HEAVY. I’ve stuck with it ever since.

Let’s throw a quick sell point for your name and music. How would you describe, in your own words, the style of the music you create?
KH: I would describe my music as different . For example, I know I be going through a lot and done a lot, but I don’t always want to talk about the negative things about me. I want the world to hear positive real music. Music that can cheer you up. Music that can actually touch people by words.
How did you get into the entertainment industry initially? Were you always drawn towards music or the entertainment industry your whole life?
KH: Yes, since I was six years old, I’ve been in love with music. I got into the entertainment industry initially from my family help working as a team.
When and how did you discover that music was the route for you?
KH: I always thought music was for me. But when I was young people use to say I couldn’t make it or I’m corny. But that didn’t stop me it just made me grind harder.
Even though you are an up and coming artist, I’d like to know about your vision a bit more. What’s your ultimate mission with your lyrics and music?
KH: My ultimate mission with my lyrics is to show The world to be There self . Don’t portrait something that you are not . Then , to always be real, because being fake will catch up to you one day.
What influences the lyrics you create for your music?

KH: My family influences the lyrics I create because they the ones that’s making me go harder with this music . Helping me follow my passion and make it come true

What artists have had the biggest influence for you in life and in music and why?

KH: Chris Brown, because I like his style. His music is always evolving, and his imagination for his videos are creative, and Lil’ Durk, because he’s always grinding for his family and taking care of his city . Which, that is my goal. I want to do that for my folks and city.

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“SEASON ONE” IS AVAILABLE ON SPOTIFY & ITUNES

You just released your EP, Season One, that you just released in 2018. Describe your EP and how you came up with the name, Season One, for the EP?

KH: I came up with Season One, because I wanted it to be like a movie. I want to get the world’s attention. Tell them my story of what I been through and show them that dedication and hard work can always get you to your goals .

Should we expect new music from you soon?

KH: Yes, very soon.

Do you want to get involved in other entertainment avenues like film, television, fashion, etc… or are you planning to stick to just music for your career?

KH: Yes, my other passions and interests are fashion and acting. I will work towards those avenues, as well, in the near future.

We are still in the first quarter for the year of 2019, what kind of goals have or are you setting for yourself this year?

KH: The goals I’ve set for myself this year is to keep grinding and staying focus. No matter what I go through, I always express it into music, because any day you can become rich and any one of them songs can get you famous.

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I head back to Madison, Wisconsin for this Q&A to catch up with the producers of Madison’s 48 Hour Film Project. I met these two talented and hardworking individuals last year, when I came on to the RGBeasts team for the very first time.

An unforgettable experience, to say the least, but thanks to this particular opportunity, I have an expectation of how the film life works for future projects. Now I get to sit down with the masterminds that are working towards bringing Wisconsin on the competitive map for the film industry.

Let’s open this interview with a story. How did you two come together as business partners? How long have you two been business partners? 


Michael Keeney: Ooh, pick me!

Kat leans backward in her chair, clearly giving Keeney the floor.


MK: I’d been hired to launch and operate a boutique film festival for a convention that was coming to Madison. I knew I could get films and filmmakers involved, but I also knew I didn’t know a darn thing about scheduling … anything.
 I’d met Kat at a different convention, where she was the Director of Operations, overseeing a five-day event with 1,500 attendees, more than 70 scheduled panel discussions and other timed events that completely took over one of the largest hotels and conference centers in town.

And so I asked for a meeting. To be honest, I was hoping to make my pitch, and she’d suggest one of her interns who might be willing to take on my little two-day, 20-film, one-room event.

We met, and I explained what I thought would be the upsides and the challenges. About half way through her questions and answers, Kat used the word ‘we.’ As in, ‘Well, we could go through Brown Paper Tickets for ticketing ….’

I did my best to look calm and cool while I quietly picked my jaw up off the floor. Again, I was hoping for the name of an intern.

At this point Kat rolls her eyes and leans forward again.


Katherine Thompson: I had been looking for a new challenge, and his timeline happened to fit with an opening I had between shows and it sounded like fun.

MK: That was … seven? years ago?

KT: Six.

MK: I immediately began utilizing her skill sets more and more for Key Media Entertainment projects, and before too long, Key Media Narratives became an official thing — Key Media Entertainment had been working in film and commercials for a number of years before that. We did more in the first 18 months as Narratives than I had in the five years before on my own as Entertainment.

 

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Thompson’s roots go deep in performance arts production and management, while Keeney has been a professional writer for most his life. Here they work out script changes on “The Other Shoe,” one of their own films.

 
How long have you two been producing the 48-Hour Film Project in Madison,WI?
 


KT: This will be our third year at the helm as Producers. We competed successfully as a team off and on for a few years before that.

For prizes, you open opportunities up not just on a local level, but the winner gets a spot in the film festival, Filmapalooza, to compete against other 48-Hour short films. You both were just there supporting last year’s winners for Madison, The Porchetta Paradox. How was the experience for you both?


MK: It was pretty great. Filma is a combination film festival-slash-competition- awards ceremony. There were approximately 150 City Winners from around the world that were screened. In addition to that Festival aspect, there are a number of mixer and networking events, as well as classes on filmmaking and programming specifically for us as City Producers. The chance to find common ground and discuss common challenges with other filmmakers and producers was tremendous.

KT: The ability to watch award-winning films, made by filmmakers just like us, with the same challenges we face was a wonderful opportunity. You learn something about different cultures around the world, and how they use the medium. You would think that with everyone having the same rules and the same restrictions, the films would have the same feel. But they really didn’t. Yes, there was much they had in common, but it was very interesting to see how different cultures use film differently.

It was was very rewarding to see ‘The Only Logical Conclusion,’ which is The Porchetta Paradox’s City-winning 2018 film, really reach a genuinely international audience.

MK: In fact, David and Matthew were one of the few teams chosen to be interviewed afterward. They held their own, and the humor of ‘Conclusion’ holds up. We were proud, and Madison should be proud.

It was also an amazing chance to see what it takes to make it to Cannes. I really think we have teams right now that have a shot at making it all the way.

Let’s open the picture up a bit for those wondering the role of a producer requires. Can y’all describe your days working together or separately and what comes with organizing these types of events? 


MK: Lots and lots of Tylenol.

KT: Far more goes on behind the scenes than on the screen. We are responsible for every aspect of producing the Madison event from planning to covering the costs. We negotiate with the theaters and any local sponsors we recruit. We set up any meet- and-greets and educational seminars. Most of the correspondence with filmmakers comes through us. The 48’s international team does provide us with some templates, but almost everything you see leading up to Kick-Off and through our Awards Ceremony is our responsibility. All those graphics you see on our Facebook page, for example, Michael does those. The trivia contest we had last year, that was all him.

MK: It’s really a team effort. Kat let’s me play. She does all the work. I get to focus on doing one thing, knowing she’s got the pulse of everything. Then I do the next thing she says needs to be done. I don’t need to worry if we have an e-mail scheduled. She knows. I may write or edit it, but she makes sure everything is actually going out. If you think about the 48 as a railway, I get to be the cool engine and blow steam and smoke and it might look like I’m the one getting the passengers and cargo down the track, but really, there’s whole lot more to it than that. Who makes sure there are passengers and cargo? Kat. Who makes sure there’s a staff working the train station? Kat. Who makes sure I don’t just steaming off down the tracks and run into another train? Kat. And while she’s doing all that, she’s also still very involved with the theater scene, so she’s networking with actors and stage directors and crew, letting them know about this opportunity. I just do one thing.

 

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Keeney & Thompson are responsible for virtually every aspect of the Madison 48, right down to designing the T-shirts and posters.

 

I am sure you guys provide work in the film industry past the 48-Hour Film Project. Can you give us an insight on the tasks and other projects y’all do when the 48-Hour Film Project is not going on?


KT: Key Media Narratives is in Pre-Production on a short that I’m really excited about. As usual, Michael wrote a wonderful script. And we’ve had a feature we’re slowly assembling for a while now. Again, Michael wrote that. I think he’s got five or six stories in his head at any time.

MK: I’ve got a desk drawer with 13 treatments in it right now, waiting for the stars to align.

KT: See?

MK: Stories are not a problem. But those are the passion projects that we do, because we love them. We also work on a couple of commercials and significant films every year. You’ve seen our work, whether you realize it or not.

We’ve been a part of commercials for the Wisconsin Lottery, Johnsonville Sausage, ESPN, Kwik Trip and more. We worked on the Christopher Nolan ‘Batman’ series; spent the summer on ‘Public Enemies,’ traveling all over. We did Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut ‘Lost River’ with Matt Smith and Christina Hendricks. We just wrapped up ‘Deliver Me’ in Chicago — actually most of our paid work is in Chicago in film or television, sometimes Detroit.

We also do a handful of local commercials and industrials. We’re in talks right now with a scientific instrumentation company with offices on six continents and instruments and employees on all seven. I work as a writer and script consultant on other people’s stories as well.”

KT: I’m on the Board of Directors for the Madison Theater Guild, and I continue to stage manage a handful of live theater.

MK: She’s also a fitness instructor and mother of three, all of whom have been and are very active in the Performing Arts. So, really, she has three full-time jobs.

A lot of other awards, opportunities, and experiences can come with participating in the 48-Hour Film Project. Can y’all share what could possibly go right for an inspiring filmmaker, even if you don’t win Best Picture and head to Filmapalooza?

MK: It can literally launch your career. The truth is that that no, most films do not go on to critical acclaim, and most filmmakers are doing this purely for the love of the Cinematic Arts. But it does happen! Eight years before becoming the director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Gareth Edwards made his first film in a 48.

KT: Last year one of the 48 films at Cannes was offered and signed a distribution deal, and one of them from this year is negotiating to be a television series in Europe.


Are y’all working on any projects currently or is your focus merely on the film project event right now?


MK: Thirteen ….That I’ve told her about.

KT (Sighs): We’ve got a couple things in the works. We anticipate posting some cast and crew auditions soon. Schedule permitting.

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The duo wear many hats in the Midwestern film scene, from 48 Producers to working on major studio productions to running their own company, Key Media.

 

Last year,you had an astounding 30 teams, plus a waiting-list for this year’s film project. What was the reaction and experience for that kind of turnout on your end? Are you expecting a similar turnout this year?


MK: More Tylenol. Actually, it was … very gratifying. When we came in the 48 was on a bit of a downward trend. There had been some concerns — which we knew, because we had them ourselves when we were competing. And we’ve worked extremely hard to address them.

KT: There is a huge difference, logistically, in 30 teams versus the 16 we’d had our first year. We have the best problem ever — we’d outgrown the spaces the 48 had been used to. So we literally began planning 2019 the day after the 2018 Premiere. By the time our Awards event rolled around, we’d had our new partnership with Marcus Point Theater virtually sewn up. We just couldn’t announce it yet. We’re not sure if 30 is our high-water mark, but we’re preparing to make things bigger and even better.

MK: We’re one of the smallest cities in the 48 community, and when other cities find out that we had 30 teams, they tend to want to give us advice, because they have 40 or 60 or so. And then I ask them how big their city is, and get, ‘Oh, Philadelphia is 1.5 million,’ or whatever, and then they ask how big Madison is and I get to say, ‘247,000.’ Suddenly they’re asking us for advice. We’re proud of our film community.

KT: I’m extremely proud. Madison is very engaged in the cinematic arts.

What has been the biggest highlight for Madison’s 48-Hour Film Project over the years?
 


MK: I’m going to go personal. For me, personally, the biggest highlight is a tie. Our first year as competitors, I was the team leader and producer, and I really didn’t know if we could do this thing. I’d worked my tail off and I was afraid it going to crash and burn all around me. And then we got to the Premiere, and I got to sit in a real theater with my friends who’d busted their butts with me and for me, and I got to see our film, a real film, that hadn’t even been an idea just a few days before, let alone a script, much less a complete film, on the big screen, and I got to watch all those people see their work, and be proud of their work and then see their names on the end crawl. To watch their faces when they saw their own names and heard the applause is just … transformative. To this day, whenever we’re screening one of our films for the first time, I stand quietly in a corner at the front of the room, so I can watch our people experiencing our film.

And it’s still a tie. Just as wonderful as that moment is, having someone type their own name in to IMDB and see their first listing, for the first time? It’s … just as good.

KT: The biggest highlight for the 48 is still to come. We’re going to have films in the Cannes Film Festival. One of our actors is going to get discovered. Someone is going to get a picture deal. And it’ll all have started right here.

MK: Okay… Yeah, that. Put me down for that, too.

What has been the biggest highlight in your careers in the film industry, separately, or as a team?


MK: To the public, it’s probably my work as a stunt driver, with Oscar-winners lives literally in my hands. Or working on Oscar-nominated films.

If you’re asking me, not the public, there’s no replacing those firsts. Those firsts I’ve already mentioned. The first time I walked around on a set that had only existed in my imagination before we built it. The first time I had a script optioned, and getting to be there as the amazing talents I get to call my friends experience those firsts for themselves. It gets no better than getting to make those things happen with one of my best friends as my business partner.

KT: This is why he’s the writer.

What is the one thing you are looking forward to most with this up and coming film project here in Madison this year?


KT: Turning off the microphone after greeting the crowd, and sitting in a theater full of area film-makers and film fans and just being a film fan myself, watching the amazing productions that our community made, in just 48 hours.

MK: I was going to say, ‘Declaring registration closed, because we were full, but, I want to take her answer, again!

I heard there are a few changes for this year’s project. Can y’all reiterate the changes that are coming up this year that the incoming filmmakers should be enlightened about? 


KT: The biggest changes should be ones that the teams and fans will barely notice —

MK:— But please do notice them!

KT: — and that’s that we’re in a new theater on a new day this year. Our premiere will be July 29th at Marcus Point Theater on their Ultra-Screen. The 29th is a Monday. The Ultra-Screen as a few more seats, but we often sell out, so it’s always a good idea to get your tickets through Brown Paper Tickets in advance.

We’ll have that information to you as soon as possible. In the mean time we have a brand new Join-A- Team program and a Talent Directory where would-be participants can post about themselves and what they would bring to a team, and Team Leaders, and would-be Team Leaders can post what they’re looking for to fill out their team.

Do any of you two have last minute tidbits of information to share with the readers and anyone interested in joining the 48 community?

MK: Registration for new teams will open on May 1st. Simply go to 48hourfilm.com and follow the prompts to find Madison. The best thing is to just jump in and do it. The Madison filmmaking community is on the rise, and that break- out star could be you!

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I’ve connected with this artist for the past five years, at least, and I have the largest amount of respect for his craft and artistry as an actor, a hip-hop artist, and a motivational speaker.

Even as today’s hip-hop industry can’t seem to draw away from negative terms and swear words, Tray Chaney has formatted his craft of not using such words in his messages.

Even as a combat veteran who swears like a sailor, I can respect him for infinite miles on his direction for his powerful stories and positive messages, because what it comes down to for the both of us is providing a positive life and changing the world for the better from our own visions. This is why I stand with his purpose and mission in his artistry in today’s day and age.

Thank you Tray for taking your time with me to answer my questions and promote Chaney Vision while collaborating with GautschVision. Let’s dive right into the interview, shall we? 

You’ve been diving into the music career for 6+ years, and ever since I discovered your music, thanks to Twitter for connecting us years ago (laughs), I’ve noticed how your lyrical messages are strong across the bored from anti-bullying, to dedicated fathers, love to women, and an AIDS anthem for the world to listen on. Of all messages, what influenced you to promote such powerful messages in the hip-hop community?

Tray Chaney: I just felt there was a void in the hip-hop industry when it came to these kind of messages, so I wanted to go against the grain and really push more positive storytelling. It’s really been a blessing with the recognition that comes from it.

Do you ever feel you are taking a risk in the hip-hop community by promoting these topics?

TC: I don’t really feel like there is a risk, because there is an audience that I’ve tapped into pursing this kind of music. I’ve been getting booked with some of the biggest acts in the hip-hop industry, because they respect the route I took. Plus, as much as I’m entertaining, I’m also educating, so it’s been a win for me as an independent artist. It is a lot of hard work, but most importantly, I enjoy the whole process.

477F9EEB-CE21-4BC8-847D-A2DF2963F0EFYour last music album, S.A.M. (Strictly About Music), came out in 2017. Are there any other music projects in production that your fans can look forward to in the near future? Any you can tell us about? 

TC: I’m working on an untitled album right now, as we speak. In the meantime, I’m staying consistent with the music by dropping singles. Just dropped my new Single MOMENTUM today. It’s available on all digital streaming platforms including Spotify, iTunes, etc.

 

A few of my favorite songs from you over the years are “Be Yourself”, “Self Made Star”, & “Mike Bully.” What are some of your favorite songs you’ve made and are most proud of to this date?

TC: That’s a hard question (laughs). All of the songs hold a special place in my heart, because I tell the truth with the lyrics. I do not have a favorite, I love all of them.

You’ve been in the film industry for a good 15+ years as an actor, but now you are starting to dive into the producer role for a few projects including your upcoming autobiography. Care to share some details on that a little bit? 

TC: Yes undeniable The Tray Chaney Story Documentary is my first major project that I’m  executive producing & I’ve partnered with a Washington DC film crew, Anthony Commodore (Commodore Independent Filmworks), & Mitch Credle (Safe House Films DC).

It’s my story about how I came into the entertainment industry and how I had to overcome trials and tribulations in my personal life. Bottom line, no matter what I went through in life, I never gave up. Features some awesome testimonials from Clifton Powell, Kenny Lattimore, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Russ Parr, Big Daddy Kane, Anwan Glover, Keith Robinson, J.D. Williams, and Blackchild! I’m very proud of it and it’s coming out very soon.

 

What influenced your decision to allow yourself to dive into the producer role?

TC: It’s about ownership & having creative control/freedom to give you all my art plus I’ve always wanted to step behind the camera & be involved with everything that goes on behind the scenes & everything it takes to put a great project together! I absolutely love what Anthony Commodore & Mitch Credle are teaching me.

Which role brings more challenges for you, a producer for film or bringing a character to life for the film, and why?

TC: I love the word Challenge & I love being able to face my challenges head on so I would say a producer for a film but the only reason why it doesn’t feel like a challenge is because I actually love learning the processe. With me being an actor having a job of bringing the character to life is pretty easy once I start diving into the backstory of who the character is.

You seem to be attracted musically and film-wise on stories with true and genuine substance. What are some stories that haven’t been brought to life yet, that you would love to see in the movie theater or in another art form?

TC: I would love to see the life story of how Def Jam records was put together. Everything Russell  Simmons had to go thru building such a dynamite brand of artist that still have a huge impact on the industry.

Are there any directors/producers/actors you would love to work with that you haven’t worked with yet in the film industry? Any artists in the hip-hop or music community in general you’d like to work with?

TC: I’d love to work with Ryan Coogler (Director Of Black Panther , Creed & Fruitvale Station), as well as, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith. I’m speaking that into existence. It’s going to happen.

You’ve worked in various spots around the country for different film projects. What is the environment like in Atlanta, Georgia, compared to the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C. area? Any similarities? Any differences?

TC:  The difference is Atlanta has so many projects going at one time from film, television, music , fashion, and so much more. This is definitely a location where you can come and either get on, or you will be inspired to come here and create your own. I’m from Forestville, Maryland/Washington DC area, and I see my city is improving on the music and film side of things as well, but not quite on the same level that Atlanta is at.

What seems to be the biggest challenge you’ve come across over the years as an artist? What has been the biggest reward for yourself as an artist?

TC: It’s been nothing, but rewards to be honest. I’ve been able to really build great relationships in the industry. I’m fortunate, because The Wire was such an impacted show that opportunities even on an independent level come across my desk all the time.

So, a crazy small-world story, I must share. I was looking through your IMdB page to spruce up some questions for you, and I discovered a connection we both share now, since it involves a credit of yours. Click on This! with my good friend, Johnny Alonso, and creator, Elena Moscatt. I also recently just interviewed Johnny Alonso, as well as, working on an interview currently with Elena Moscatt. How crazy is that?! (Laughs). Talk about a small world! And, with that in factor, you were one of the hosts in 2011 along with Alonso. What was your favorite memory from that whole experience?

TC: I loved connecting with the people! Such a wonderful experience!

What’s next for the brand, Chaney Vision? Where do you see yourself in the next year? In five years?

TC: Chaney Vision is producing more projects in television, film, and music. In the next five years my company will be a household name giving other artist platforms and opportunities.

Thank you so much, Tray, for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down for this interview.  It was such a pleasure! Make sure you all go to his web site, www.trayscurriculum.com/store, and check his merchandise out, and if you enjoy hip-hop music, swing over to iTunes to give Tray Chaney a listen at http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1324851443?ls=1&app=itunes

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I met this next artist at a talent competition for local hip-hop artists around the surrounding areas in Dubuque, Iowa. We connected on our similar backgrounds, prior to our civilian purpose as artists. Now I sit down and converse with another veteran turned artist about his music, his philosophy with art and life, and how the military shaped him as an artist.

You have an astounding resume prior to your music career. Care to tell the readers about your background?

Klazik: Sure, I’m originally from East Cleveland, Ohio. I joined the Navy in 2003 and did nine years active duty. After going through training in Great Lakes, Illinois, I was a Tomahawk missile technician on board the USS Mason DDG 87 in Norfolk, Virginia. I did three deployments from ’05-’09, and went on to be an Instructor in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Now I live in Marion, Iowa.

First and foremost, thank you for serving our country. As a fellow veteran for the armed forces, do you feel art is therapy or an essential outlet for people like us? Why or why not?

K: Some type of healthy release is definitely necessary, everyone isn’t artistic, but alcoholism is heavily encouraged in military culture. I’ve never smoked anything and have only taken a handful of drinks in my life. Making music is an escape for me, all creative expression. I’m confident in my music and comfortable on stage, it’s fun.

During your time in the armed forces, has your service strengthen your philosophy with life or had it evolved during those years?

K: It shaped my philosophy on leadership, because I saw first-hand the type of leader I don’t want to be. The nature of military leadership is abusive and hypocritical and there are a lot of people that meet qualifications for positions of authority that don’t deserve to lead.

Have you ever found a time where it has weakened your beliefs? If so, how did you overcome those moments?

K: Something that really affects me is when people that I have committed myself to show me they don’t care about me. I don’t like being taken advantage of or manipulated because its something that I have had happen to me from people that I trusted. Times like that can make you bitter if you allow it and the way I’ve learned to deal with it is by reflecting on the situation and everyone involved once it’s over. When you look back you can gain a better understanding of who you were at the time and why you allowed those people in your life, then you can grow from that understanding.

Presently, what is your philosophy in life?

K: The law of attraction is very real to me. The things in your life are drawn to you. They echo who and what you are back.

Where did your name “Klazified Sick” aka “Klazik” originate from?

K: It actually came from a line I wrote in a verse. It was during a time where I needed to come up with a new name for myself because a name I used previously was taken. I came up with the lyrics and thought “that’s pretty clever” and ran with it.

When it comes to your music, not only are the lyrics leaning towards a spiritual deliverance, but you carry an old school vibe in the beats. Who in the old school era influenced your flow and sound?

K: My style is directly influenced by the music of the mid 1990s to early 2000s, so that includes Notorious B.I.G., whose my primary influence, as well as, Jay-Z, Bone Thugs -N- Harmony, Fabolous, Kanye West, 50 Cent, etc.

I’m also studying and learning the history of rap music and hip-hop culture, so I connect with older artists like Big Daddy Kane and Rakim. However, I don’t hate new music, that’s just my style of creation.

Is it your path in life that influences the lyrics you deliver, or do you feel the influence from within?

K: I guess it’s from within because I don’t think about it, I just let it come to me. I haven’t written a verse down in over ten years.

Music isn’t your only creative outlet. You are also an amazing photographer. Is that another career move you have considered in the past or currently? Or is it just a hobby of yours?

K: Well thank you! It’s just a hobby now. I’m not as confident in it as I am with my music. I got into photography, because I wanted to learn to shoot videos. My thinking is, since video is just a series of pictures and if I can take a good picture that would help my videography. I am going take a more professional step forward with pictures this year though.
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In 2018, you dropped six singles for your fans. What should we expect from Klazik in 2019? Can we expect any music videos from you?

K: I like to release music in small doses, so its either a single or a three to five song project. I have a single that I just need to get mixed and get cover art for and Ill put that out in the first quarter of 2019. Also, I want to book some more live performances this year.

Is there anything in life that you haven’t done yet, that might be on your bucket or goal list?

K: The biggest goal I want to accomplish is to be able to make enough money from my music or any work that’s music related to fully support my family, and I’d like to make a song with Big Daddy Kane.

You can find Klazik’s music on Spotify, ITunes, or check out his website by simply clicking on http://smarturl.it/KLAZIK