WCW: Singer-Songwriter-Felicia Douglass

Her name is Felicia Douglass!  If you have not heard about her - you will. I discovered her on FB, where I had an opportunity to listen to her sing. After listening to a few tracks from her SoundCloud page, I was blown away!  Felicia has a voice that is reminiscent of the 90’s R&B queens from our childhood; add in some electro soul from today, then top it off some 80’s influenced melodies, and BOOM!  LEGIT Listen folks! I was grateful that I had an opportunity to interview Felicia about her art, what inspires her, why she considers the songwriting process to be a puzzle, and her drink of choice. Check it out:


O.C.O: How did you get started with playing – and creating – music?

F.D: My parents got me started with piano lessons when I was little and I was also in chorus and musical groups elementary school through college. I'm very thankful for that today. I didn't start writing my own songs till middle school. I got pretty attached to my 4-track recorder.

O.C.O: What song instantly puts you in a good mood?

F.D: Free by Deniece Williams.

O.C.O: Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process?

F.D: Anywhere and everywhere. I am the weirdo on the train platform singing into my phone to record a voice memo. I'll still sift through memos from years ago and find something to expand upon. I don't have a set process, sometimes I’ll start with a short vocal idea and build around that and other times I’ll work on beats and synth parts. It's always possible to get stuck but I really enjoy writing lyrics and switching out words, it's a puzzle. Collaborating with other musicians has helped me change my outlook on generating material and being open to trying out ideas. If something's not working and you can't fix it, it's totally fine, just save it and make something else. I consider it all to be valuable.

O.C.O: I’m interested in your musical roots – which musicians and songwriters have been the greatest influence? F.D:  What are your favorite albums?

I grew up surrounded by music. My father is a music engineer and when I was younger he turned half of our living room into a music studio. When he worked at other recording studios in Manhattan I'd visit and be a fly on the wall. I loved it. I was introduced to a lot of RNB, soul, funk, rap and rock music through osmosis. I really admire Sade, Sly & The Family Stone, Beck, Janet Jackson, Fiona Apple to name a few. I definitely listened to Supa Dupa Fly by Missy Elliot non-stop for a long while.


O.C.O: How would you describe your current sound?

F.D: Tropical future funk.

O.C.O: What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?

F.D: That's a tough question. Maybe the glorified rockstar lifestyle? I think some people forget that when we're performing at a bar or nightclub it is still our version of work. If I drink too much I won't perform well, if I'm stuck around smokers I'll feel horrible, if I'm at a loud bar all night I'll lose my voice, and I need my voice to work. Tour can be exhausting and financially taxing sometimes. When I have a long string of shows I should just wear a t-shirt that says I DO NOT WANT TO PARTY in huge letters. 

O.C.O: If we’re going to buy you a drink, what should it be?

F.D: Nothing special, anything fizzy with some fresh citrus.

O.C.O: What do you think about the internet as a tool for promoting yourself & your music?

F.D: I think it's extremely helpful! I've been able to connect and work with so many artists I admire because they've come across my work, or vice versa. I'm pretty lax about posting unfinished songs and videos of the process on social media. With my solo music, I am in complete control and I like sharing different stages of my work along the way. As a visual artist, I often use Instagram as a tool to share new work. I'm also big on spreading love and positivity, inspired by some artists who are doing it right like Sinkane and Dam-funk. I didn't plan ahead when I started them but I have a few hashtag series, #felmoovs is a collection of my impromptu dance and movement related videos, mostly to songs I love, my own music, or city background noise. I'm currently up to 59 videos. My other series #trashreflections is used when I stumble upon a broken mirror set out as trash on the sidewalk and take a selfie. Sounds mundane but I love how different the settings can be, from capturing a vibrant blue sky in the reflection or carefully balancing to take a shot without falling into bags of trash. It's also transient by nature. Pass by the same block the next day and it will all be gone. I'm a New York native and I’m not sick of wandering around in the city yet :)


O.C.O: What are your plans & hopes for the future with regard to your music?

F.D: I hope to do music full time! I've been doing more songwriting collaborations with other artists which is a dream come true and I'd love to do more of that in the future. I have a few albums in the works with my bands Gemma and Ava Luna that I'm very excited to share. They'll be out in due time.

O.C.O: What advice would you give aspiring musicians? 

F.D: It's a gift. If you love it and you believe in yourself stick with it!


Felicia will be performing in at Unit J in Bushwick this Saturday September 23rd! Here are the details-Spacey Presents: Felicia Douglass / Photocomfort / Inalukt / John Kengla .  Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @feldou 

Be sure to check out Felicia's site: http://feliciadouglass.com. She has some rad artwork! I plan on buying her CASTLE drawing!




WCW-Chanese Elifé: vocal powerhouse

Hey peeps!

It’s Wednesday! That means a new WCW post!  This week I am happy to feature Harlem born musician, Chanese Elifé.  I met Chanese at my friend's video release party and we hit it off right away. Isn’t it rad to make connections like that!? Positive vibes, late night jams, and great times were had that night! Chanese is a very talented musician, who started teaching herself the keyboard at age 5, the guitar at age 9 and has been performing and songwriting ever since. But being raised in a strict home, her parents forbade her to play anything outside of Christian based music. At the age of 17 Chanese exploded onto the NY gospel scene and rapidly soared to popularity, while touring hundred of venues and being featured on several albums (many of which she coproduced). For years as a successful minister of music she thrived on connecting with her audience, but eventually grew frustrated by the constraints of organized religion. In 2010 finding herself at a personal and professional crossroads, Chanese went on hiatus and moved to Sydney, Australia to pursue a degree in sacred music and find herself spiritually, absent from familial pressure. 

Chanese Robin Elife'

Red Rooster Harlem with Rakiem Walker Project last nite... If you in Harlem on a Monday why on earth go anywhere else...

Posted by Maurice Bolden on Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A rebel by nature, in her first year of bible college, Chanese began to question theology and the repression often associated with it. Deciding she'd seen and had enough, she dropped out at the end of the semester and left organized religion all together. Pending the loss of support from family, friends and followers back in the U.S., she stayed in Australia and taught herself how to survive as a solo musician, without the comfort of communal support.

Excited, but not really knowing where or how to start life over as a mainstream artist, she began by arranging soulful acoustic covers of top 40 songs and busking in the train stations of Sydney city which lead to many pub and house party gigs. It was through those often rowdy and culturally shocking experiences that Chanese began to feel alive again and reconnect with what she had loved about sharing music in the first place; the excitement of having an entire room united, dancing and singing to the same as one. After three inspiring years abroad she began to long for the raw creative energy that only NYC could offer and returned home in 2013. Since then Chanese has been performing live at various venues around the city, loving her new life and writing about it all. She is currently in the studio recording her first studio project, which is due to drop fall 2015.

Between my cray week and her recording schedule, we manage to do an amazing Q & A:

 O.C.O: What was the first tune(s) you learned?

C.E: First song I taught myself by ear was "Go Tell It On The Mountain" on the keyboard at age 5. We couldn't afford lessons so my favorite game at that age was trying to recall songs I had heard at church and figuring out how to play them on the keys. I started teaching myself guitar at age 9, but the first song I learned on paper from another person with standard tuning and chord shapes was "Basket Case" by Green Day at age 11 by the school band teacher, Mr. Richard Cohen.

 O.C.O: Describe your personal style

C.E: It's like a finely aged hobo stew really. A little bit of this and a little bit of that I've picked up from here and there. Little messy and spicy with lots of different textures that traditionally haven't been thought to go together but somehow wind up working. I think it comes with being a native New Yorker and musician. I've been (artistically) hustling since I was a kid so I'm a product of that environment. I daily find myself in the most random situations, hearing all kinds of music, chatting with the most fascinating and interestingly dressed people from all over the globe, so I pick little things up along the way, toss them in my trolley and keep moving. Life is too big for boxes. If I like something I rock with it. If I don't like it I toss it. That goes for my music, my fashion and my life.

O.C.O: Imagine you’re watching a concert and one of the band members/musicians spontaneously combusts. You get called to the stage to replace them. Who’s the band/musician?

C.E: That sounds so painful! Oh my. Well,  while I hope she'll live forever(or at least never spontaneously combust during a performance I happen to be attending), I would quickly bum-rush Beyoncé's stage, grab a guitar and rock with her 10-piece all-women band, the Sugar Mammas. And it's not just cause they're women. It's because they're all masterful musicians who happen to be women. As a band, they're really versatile and can play virtually any style and do it with an energy that supports their front woman. That's all I've ever wanted in a backing band because my music fuses several genres and I love to see everybody moving with me. *strokes imaginary beard*  Hmmm suddenly spontaneous combustion doesn't really sound THAT painful after all. JK cause everyone knows Queen Bey (and all of her pieces) would just magically regenerate, kick my ass of the stage and slay the most epic finale ever! 

O.C.O: Do you think that online presence is important for fans to find you and critics to find your music to write about?

C.E: This is such an exciting time to be a an artist of any sort. Our ability to connect through technology is amazing and beautiful when done responsibly.  There is an entire planet of people craving music that doesn't exist where they are geographically. But through online presence they can access the art that truly speaks to them. I'm really looking forward to releasing my first studio project in the fall because I'll finally have something of my own to share with the world that I truly believe people everywhere are going to want groove to (stank face and all). I honestly don't know who my streaming audience will be and that thought alone ignites me. I cannot wait for them to say hello and connect with me online. I can't wait to jump on a plane and go any and everywhere people will want to rock with me. I can't wait to put on epic shows to express my gratitude for their support. And when I get there, I will try my hardest not to spontaneously combust on stage ;)

O.C.O: Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?

C.E: Man like just 2 weeks ago I got amped AF like an angst teen all over again when the beat dropped on "Violet" by Hole! And, I may or may not have air-guitared and fake-moshed in the privacy of my own room. 

O.C.O: Rock on, love Hole! Since everyone was a startup once, can you give any smaller or local bands looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?

C.E: Practice daily. Nail every first impression. Never allow yourself an "off" public performance, regardless of the size of the audience or venue and you'll always be sought after. Word of mouth is always going to hold its own weight (social media sharing is just an extension of that principle when you really think about it) because our reputations precede us.

O.C.O: What is your most valued material possession?

C.E: Definitely my signature Ovation guitar; The Big Lady. She was a gift from the musical director at the college I attended in Sydney, Australia because I couldn't afford to bring mine on the plane when I moved there. When I got back home to NYC I met my good friend, the incredible artist Sarah Coffman who burned the mind-blowingly beautiful designs into The Big Lady. She was the first guitar that Sarah ever burned. I suspect that her beauty will always move me emotionally. 

O.C.O: Any upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums?

C.E: I can be seen semi regularly at Grill On the Hill in Harlem, check my social media pages, I perform all over the city and following me would be the best way to keep up!

 I need to head up to Grill On the Hill in Harlem! Follow Chanese on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.