The Art of Development – Part 1

The Art of Development | Part 1

Seeing your child grow up with that special spark in their eyes is a clear indicator that the road ahead wll be filled with one creative encounter after another. Year after year, countless parents uproot their entire lives and move to the city of angels to take that chance on their child being the next Justin Beiber or Zendaya. It’s a 100% – 24/7 commitment to be successful in such an over-saturated market and with the immediate exposure gained from social media, the possibilities are endless!

Overall, Los Angeles County gained 62,710 residents in the most recent year. On top of that, 52,572 people moved here from another country. The music industry is a swirling pool of circumstantial quicksand. Like they say on Project Runway, “One minute you’re in and the next minute you’re out!”

Throughout our careers, my friends and I have worked with countless aspiring artists. Sometimes they have a budget being fronted by management/label and other times we’re working from the pockets of their parents. Either way, the end goal is still the same; to develop them into the next superstar that will take over the world. Sadly not everyone is a star and you begin to see the difference during the development process.

So, what is Artist Development? The need to be graceful on and off camera works in many respects. I get a lot of clients that are actors and singers anxious to express themselves through movement a bit more fluidly. Aspiring singers want to build the stamina to keep up with their dancers and be a captivating performer. Everyone’s reasoning is different, but in order to attain the showmanship and performance style that builds a thriving career, an unwavering passion for the craft has got to run through their veins.

A few years back, I met a funny, charismatic dancer named AJ Petrey through my long-time friend (choreographer/instructor) Kenya Clay. I started using AJ to assist with choreography, casting, and as an extra pair of eyes on set. AJ has since cultivated an artist arsenal of his own. Working with 16-year-old recording artist/actress dancer/model Talin Silva is an open canvas of creativity for him. When AJ invited me to one of her performances, I took the opportunity to stop by their rehearsal at Nappy Tabs Studio to get an idea of what her journey has been from her humble start as a dancer to garnering over 56,000 followers on Instagram alone.

Before I started the interview, I got a chance to briefly speak with her dad. His initial conversation was refreshing because he didn’t bombard me with how amazingly talented and superb his daughter is; listing every single thing that makes her awesome.  Instead, he took the time to tell me how grateful he is to be able to create opportunities like this for his daughter. I knew I was about to speak with a poised young lady whose foundation was just as strong as her veracity.

L: Hey Talin. Tell everyone how old you are and how you got started in “show biz.”

T: I just turned 16, October 23rd (wooohoo), but I’ve been dancing since I was 6 years old. A while back one of my dance teachers felt like I had the potential to go into acting so I tried it. Then, after that, singing just kind of came to me when I decided to do a talent show. People’s responses were surprisingly supportive like “Girl, you’re a star!!” So from there I started training and working with great people to really develop in each area.

L: I know you have a lot of homework from school on top of rehearsals, video shoots, shows, and dance class. What continuously drives you to do so much each day?

T: My parents. They constantly inspire me to go on with my career. Schoolwork and music are sometimes hard to balance. I have to come back from the studio at midnight and still do homework for hours, but now it’s become a regular schedule for me. They always tell me how much they believe that I can do the impossible in my life and career. I think it’s amazing to have that type of support. It’s definitely a lot of pressure being the first generation Sri Lankan recording artist, but I think I can handle it.

L: So what do you do when you’re not busy taking over the world?

T: I actually love to cook and bake. My favorite {thing to bake} is any desserts like chocolate cake or cupcakes. I spend a lot of time playing with my 4 dogs and train them to do tricks. The best trick I’ve taught my dog is to sing back to me when I sing to her.

It’s been five years since I met Chris Bones at Debbie Reynolds Studio on Lankershim. His parents reached out to me by way of a director I’d worked with to get movement coaching for their son. He walked into our initial meeting with Capezio dance sneakers and a bowl {hair} cut that was a striking indication that teaching this kid hip hop wasn’t going to be easy at all! We forged forward and I developed Chris one 8 count at a time.

Now he’s 18 and there’s no doubt that our one-on-one development sessions have been a pivotal piece of who Chris has grown into, but I wanted to see how he felt about the process up to now and ask about his outlook on the music industry.

CB: Starting my career in musical theater made me realize how much I LIVE for creating multi-dimensional art; everything from visual art to clothing and music. The mystery of the theater was always appealing. Even though the space was enormous and people were no more than 20 feet away, I felt an escape in the madness of it all.

I love portraying other characters, but I needed to be able to tell my own story. I knew I wanted to do music when I was performing in 3 musicals at one time and I’d still go home and listen to top hits on the radio. I’d zone out and start dancing along to them as if they were my own. Eventually, it sparked a light bulb that made me realize I want to share my own story.

After I did the High School Nation Tour, I was addicted to the rush! I’d been in and out of recording studios, in long rehearsals, and still feeling delighted with all the work that goes on behind the scenes. Once I got off the tour, recorded and shot the video for Chasing Your Love, I knew I was on to a new level of myself I’d never experienced.

L: What part of the process are you addicted to?

CB: Getting good! I sucked when I started. It’s taught me to think WAY outside the box, more than I ever thought I could. I think being stagnant is dangerous so it’s cool to look back at how far I’ve come. I tend to underestimate my potential.

L: How often do you train or rehearse?

CB: In my opinion, I train A LOT. I pretty much rehearse something every day. Between band rehearsals, scales/vocal exercises, studio, planning and meeting with my team, it continually keeps me learning to really sit in the pocket of who I am. The more I train the more refined I get. My business and personal lives cross over and I’m able to always be around people I love to work with and care about.

L: What’s your take on using social media platforms like Instagram, Soundcloud, and Twitter to share your music?

CB: I think it’s exciting being able to put something out into the world instantly. With anything, there’s a bunch of problems that come with it too. Social media and the internet overall can be pretty difficult to navigate for me. I’m more organic and face-to-face rather than being comfortable behind the screen. I learned a lot of people are fake online and make themselves to be something they completely aren’t. People are sometimes more worried about LOOKING talented or successful than actually being it because it’s easy to manipulate the reality of their lives in order to gain a following.

CB: Social media made me very self-conscious about my art. Not because I got bad feedback but because what I was doing didn’t look like what was popular with the “Instagram singers” that get thousands of likes and comments. I reached a place where I felt like the art I was trying to create just wasn’t natural and felt forced. I couldn’t see myself constantly working to please and get approval from the world and not speak my authentic truth.

L: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten?

CB: The best advice is doing something like this and having a career in the industry (especially through adolescence) can be very hard and confusing but you have to have blind faith, listen, and trust that you’re following your supreme destiny.

Some newcomers understand the importance of going through the artist development process, others want to look like they’re putting in the work. While there are child stars that have public meltdowns and anxiety attacks, others gracefully transition to adulthood and stardom.  The difference is in the outlook of their experiences. With such a thriving sub-culture beneath the spotlight, there are thousands of showbiz kids that will have to go deeper than the surface of LA to make their dreams a reality.

Remember to keep a close eye on these superstars in the making. You never know who the next icon will be!

Author: Luckie