In the Spotlight w/ Ken “Legend” Williams & KC Carson

I had recently had the privilege to write up some questions for Detroit’s filmmaker and Executive Producer, Ken “Legend” Williams, and Co-Producer, KC Carson, to talk about their film, Asbury Park, which is dropping November 3rd on Tubi! Thank you guys for giving me this opportunity to highlight your film, but first… Let us highlight and show the readers the trailer of the film.

Trailer for Asbury Park

Let’s get this interview going with my first question, shall we? 🙂

I love to hear folks’ stories and give artists an opportunity to share their stories. This is the essential part of my blog. How did you know when filmmaking was going to become your path? Did y’all always know from an early age or was it a happy accident, as Bob Ross would say?

Legend: I’ve been in love with stories since I was in the 5th grade. Around that time I realized that not only did I love hearing them, but I loved telling them as well. Writing for me became an everyday practice. I loved movies and wanted to get into filmmaking, but I knew I was too poor to attend film school so I brushed that dream aside. In 2006 a friend of mind, who was a huge fan of my stories, told me about a production team who was looking for writers. I offered to write the script for free if they taught me how to make a movie.

KC: Honestly it happened by accident. I’ve always loved movies and film, I even wanted to be an actor at a point in life. Once I met Legend our chemistry and vibe was organic. I made a decision once we became friends that I wanted to do this full time, so I’ve dedicated all of my time and resources into growing and learning every aspect of the film business. This was God’s plan it wasn’t mine, I’m just walking in my destiny.

We have a mutual and an amazing talent within this industry. You  recently teamed up with Tray Chaney on a new project called Asbury Park.” How did y’all meet and get connected with Tray?

Legend: I’ve always been a fan of Tray since he was on The Wire. I followed him on social media. I loved his grind. I reached out to him just to say keep up the good work and I let him know I loved his grind. We’ve been stuck together ever since.

KC: I’m a huge fan of Tray’s work and work ethic. I followed him from The Wire to Saints and Sinners. Legend and I decided to reach out to him because of the value that he could bring to our team and alliance. Once we had a meeting we instantly became family and the rest is history. 

What inspired the story behind “Asbury Park?” And how does it stand out from other films with similar storylines?

Legend: Asbury Park was inspired by my childhood and the fact I was tired of the same  narratives and glorification of drugs and violence when it came to inner city life. Yes there are drugs and guns in urban communities. Yes people break the law. But many people are in circumstances in which they’re just trying to survive. I started carrying a gun at 12 years old. I didn’t do it to be tough, but because I was being raised in a single parent home with my mother, we lived in a neighborhood with frequent break ins and murder and if you called 9-1-1 the police wouldn’t come. I wasn’t trying to be tough, nor was I a bad kid. I was simply a boy trying to protect his mother. Asbury Park tells the story of four young men who are good kids and simply trying to survive.

KC: The story talks about the truth that happens in urban inner-city America. Every city has a ghetto, and every ghetto has a hood, and the story is the same, however the truth about survival and how people got into those situations are usually never told. It’s not always about cars, clothes, and jewelry, this story talks about perseverance, sacrifice, structure, and disciple. The real things that are needed to make something of yourself. The Asbury Park characters are individuals who were forced to survive by any means once they were out of options.

For those not experienced with filmmaking, how long of a process was the creation of this film? 

KC: Legend started the script back in 2018, the film was delayed in 2019 due to an unexpected death of a cast member. The film was set for production for the spring of 2020, and unfortunately the pandemic made us put the brakes on once again. It took quite a few months to complete because we filmed during the heart of the pandemic, and there were a few untimelier road blocks, however we persevered and completed the film.

Felicia “Snoop” Pearson in Asbury Park dropping on Tubi on November 3rd.

Asbury Park drops in just a couple days on November 3rd on Tubi. Y’all have some big names in this film including huge talents like Glenn Plummer, Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from The Wire & the Rapper Peter Gunz. Also, Jamal Woolard, who killed his role as the legend, B.I.G. in his biopic, Notorious, as well as, TuPac’s, All Eyez On Me. What surprised you the most with working with such talents? 

Legend: I learned how easy they all were to work with and how much they were willing to help me as a newer director. Glenn Plummer, Fredro Starr, and Jermaine Hopkins were all very good with pulling me to the side to offer suggestions.

KC: I think I was most surprised at how down to earth everyone was and how they were willing to extend an olive branch to us seeing that we are an independent team. Not one of the celebrities brought an ego or attitude with them. They were very down to earth, humble, and professional. Each person gave us a different outlook and perspective of the business that was priceless.

As Asbury Park comes to life for y’all, I feel it’s very essential to give equal opportunities to black filmmakers to create their stories on the big screen. Do y’all feel that there is such a shift now with social media and the current climate our nation is in the present?

Legend: I think one of the positives that came with the pandemic is that people were forced to view films at home instead of running to the theaters. More content was being consumed which caused the need for more of it to be created. While Hollywood was shut down, independent filmmakers, such as myself, was able to navigate the filming process more freely than the bigger studios. Streaming platforms and social media allows us to go directly to the consumers. This allows us, as black filmmakers, to tell our own stories.

What do you feel needs to happen to elevate more stories to the level of Marvel Studios “Black Panther” to continue to lift black voices and representation of the black community and to make sure y’all are being heard? 

Legend: We need to collectively invest in the telling of our own stories and supporting our own films. Hollywood cares about money, so if we can show that our people will pay to watch films, then we’ll be placed in a better position to tell them.

KC: It’s actually very simple. It’s all about supporting one another. There is enough money to go around so there is no reason for us not to support each other. If our community ever comes together and truly supports one another the way that other communities support each other, we could truly change the landscape and dynamic of the film industry.

As you continue to grow as filmmakers, what did you learn from producing, creating, and bringing this current film for life? 

Legend: I’ve learned that anything is possible. I also see the importance of having a strong team that you can trust. Having KC and Tray on my team makes my job a lot easier because they’re two guys who are brutally honest, but who I know are about their business.

KC: I’ve learned that no idea is too big or crazy. With the technology that is available to us there is nothing that can’t be done. The most important part of this is having a strong team who all have a common goal. No egos, and no pride. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so we make sure all of our links are strong.

Behind the scenes with Legend giving direction to the cast.

I want to thank each and everyone of you for taking the time to allow me to interview and make this connection with all three of you. I have one more question for the both of you. Can you share any advice or tidbits for any young filmmaker out there trying to create and bring their own stories to life??

Legend: Don’t let money stop you from telling your story. If you have a story to tell, write it and shoot it. I don’t care if it’s on an IPhone. Get it done. If you make mistakes along the way, so what. Learn from them and keep growing.

KC: I believe that there is a valuable lesson learned even in defeat. So don’t worry about mistakes and what you don’t know. Ask questions study and learn, however the most important part is to finish the race. Don’t stop or quit and there is always an audience out there even for the most peculiar topics. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from fulfilling your dreams and destiny.

Q&A Feature: KEEM HEAVY

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.

Q&A Feature: Tray Chaney

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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