TRAEDONYA’s “High Fructose Corn Syrup”
“I had the opportunity to study with jazz legend Chico Hamilton, who played with Billie Holiday, John Coltrane and others. He is not only an icon, but an amazing human being as well.”
1-How did you get started in music?
I got started in music at an early age. I come from a family of music lovers. As a child, I would sing at family events and in church. I love blues, soul, punk and soft rock; my mother turned me on to all of it. As a teenager, I fell in love with hip hop and did my first professional recording at the age of 13. The song was called “Do the Boogaloo” and it was released on Tuff City Records. The song did well underground and in the U.K. I did a couple of other tunes on the same label and did background vocal work at the time for other artists.
I became the lead vocalist for X-Clan and did several recordings. “Years of the Nine”, by Professor X, was a big tune for us. It hit Billboard’s Top 100 in the United States and allowed me to move around, learn and really get busy. I later became the lead vocalist for the jazz/funk trio Sample This!; we did one full-length album on Elektra Records. This was the first time that I ever did an entire project composed entirely of my words and thoughts. Sample This! is still an active part of my life. We’re recording another project right now. I’ve had two solo singles released, “Beloved” and “I’ll Give It 2 U”. Both “Beloved” and “I’ll Give It 2 U” became remix projects featuring mixes from America, Indonesia, Italy, the U.K. and other parts of Europe.
I recorded and mixed my “High Fructose Corn Syrup” EP, which is about to be released (fall 2013). With a mixture of jazz, funk, soul and hip hop, “High Fructose Corn Syrup” is a blend of some of the things that make my heart flutter, like a lot of live horns and slick beats. I am eagerly anticipating its reception by the public. I want my fans to love the project the way that I love it. The first single is called “Family Affair” and both the song and the video are receiving rave reviews. This single features my band Sample This! and is a Sly and the Family Stone cover as well as a dedication to Sly Stone.
2-How did you come up with your personal style of music?
Well, first off, I consider myself a blues singer from birth. I sing from my heart, from my soul, through my pain and through my joy. I also enjoy different types of music and welcome new challenges. I love laying my vocals over what I feel is hot, no matter the genre of music. My personal style comes from the different sounds that I love and that move me. My stepfather, who was the bass player for blues singing and saxophone legend Lonnie Youngblood, had me at the rehearsals and on the road at a very young age with several major artists. I got to watch those artists put their work on the stage. All that brought the dynamics to my personal style of music.
3-What do you feel you’re bringing to the table that is not already out there in terms of music?
The love, passion and honor of the greats that came before me, wrapped up in a brand new package. Real deliverance! There are a lot of frauds out there right now, they’re faking the funk! Lol
4-What would you say is your target audience?
My target audience is music lovers, people who know something good when they hear it.
5-What’s the main message of your “High Fructose Corn Syrup” release?
The message is that my music is addictive, just like the high fructose corn syrup that we all love so much. The message is simply that I got some crazy stuff going on in my life so come take a sweet ride with me, let me tell you about my day-to-day dealings, the funny stuff, my love life or the lack thereof. The entire project is about me and my crazy life.
6-How would you like to be perceived as an artist?
I want to be perceived as a true artist that people respect. It’s not about the business, it’s about the art. Most people get into music right now because they want to be cool. They’re watching reality shows and they think that this is easy. They really have no true passion for this art. Not everyone is like that, but most are. I want people to know that I respect my craft and this art. I’m here for the long run, not the quick sprint.
7-How do you feel your classic training in jazz helped you and what have you incorporated as your personal touch in the album?
Going to a music conservatory with musicians from all over the world was an amazing experience for me. I went to school and studied after my first project with Sample This! came out. We were going through a rough situation with the label, so I decided to get some formal training. I went through all of the auditions and sang in front of the legendary bassist Reggie Workman, who was one of the people in charge of recruiting for the jazz program. I was awarded a scholarship by the conservatory and studied with students who have been studying jazz since they were eight years old or younger.
Studying also helped keep me from being intimidated by male musicians. I was comfortable with the fellas from the band in Sample This!, but I had to learn how to communicate with other guys, and becoming comfortable with male musicians outside of my crew wasn’t easy. Studying forced me to step out of my comfort zone.
I had the opportunity to study with jazz legend Chico Hamilton, who played with Billie Holiday, John Coltrane and others. He would give me advice about everything from life to the way that I hold my breath while singing. I have a ton of love and respect for Mr. Chico Hamilton. He is not only an icon, but an amazing human being as well. I also had the opportunity to work with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, who produced two of the songs that we recorded. In the studio, he was very enthusiastic and kept a huge smile on his face the entire time.
My new project, “High Fructose Corn Syrup”, is my first full-length solo project to be released.
8-Which song do you feel most represents you?
All of them. But since I have to pick one, I’ll have to say “Liquid”.
9-What’s your favorite song from your body of work and why?
I actually have several favorites, but I would have to say that “Harlem” is my favorite song on the EP. It was produced by my mentor, Large Professor. The song “Harlem” is a serenade to Harlem itself, a place that I recognize as the cultural mecca for black people. There is a long, beautiful, illustrious history of black artistry and culture in Harlem. Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Billie Holiday, James Baldwin and so many others resided there. So much beauty came from Harlem and still does.
11-What’s your favorite aspect of performing live for an audience?
Locking in with my band and watching the fans get totally locked into the delivery of the music and the stage performance. Singing and performing live is my forte, that’s when all of the dots connect and you receive the full TRAEDONYA experience.
12-What current artist would you say is the closest to what you are doing now and how do you differ from them?
No one. I do my own thing.
13-What is the story behind the album title?
[There is] no story behind the title. I’m simply saying that my music is as sweet as a crumb bakeshop cupcake. Just like that sweet cupcake, after each song you’re going to want another one and another one. Yum yum!
14-What’s the one venue in New York City you’d like to play in one day?
Times Square, New Year’s Eve, when the ball drops! Oh yeah, big tings ah gwan! Big tings!