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Music

Former ‘Rising Star’ Contestant Morgan Higgins Is ‘Confidently Flirtatious;’ Devotes Poppy New Song ‘Hey Boy’ to Her Beau!

April 7, 2016

Morgan-higgins-skyelyfeMorgan Higgins became an overnight celebrity in her small SoCal beach town of San Clemente during her stint on ABC’s former music competition show Rising Star.

The now-18-year-old brunette beauty made it to week six in the one-season, Josh Groban-hosted series (which featured Brad Paisley, Ludacris and Kesha as experts) – but it was Jesse Kinch who took home the title.

Although Higgins – known for her bold song covers – fell short of a win, she hasn’t given up on her passion for music. She updates her YouTube page regularly, and she is just about to release her new song “Hey Boy,” an empowering pop track she associates with her boyfriend and taking control of making their relationship happen.

Keep scrolling to read about what Higgins learned from her star experts, which song she’s covered with regret and why she’s “confidently flirtatious.”

skyelyfe: Are you still based in San Clemente? What have your friends and people you know from home thought of your success?

Morgan Higgins: I am still based in San Clemente, but I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles. The people around me are very excited about my success, but no one knows how hard the music industry and entertainment industry truly is. It takes a lot of work and time to “make it.” Patience is a virtue!

SL: You’re known for some amazing covers. Which cover did you find most challenging to sing and which have you received the most praise for?

MH: The hardest cover for me to sing was “The One That Got Away,” by Katy Perry. I remember wanting to enter it for some competition and then realizing that my voice was not mature enough at all to sing it. I still won’t listen to it to this day, but it still has a decent amount of views, which is nice. My favorite cover and the one people like the most is “Someone Like You,” by Adele. I’ve always loved this song and I still sing it frequently. Adele is one of my favorite artists!

SL: Which Rising Star expert did you connect with best? What was the best piece of advice they gave you?

MH: I don’t think I had a favorite expert on Rising Star. They all gave me different pieces of advice and focused on different parts of my voice/performance. I think the biggest piece of advice they gave me was to be true to yourself no matter how much people around you try to influence you or put you down. That’s been a big thing for me in my music career as well as in my life in general.

SL: If you could collaborate with any three artists, who would they be?

MH: Oh, boy, the three artists I wish I could collaborate with are Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles or Adele – or Whitney Houston if she was alive. But my favorites change by the day.

SL: Tell me about how “Hey Boy” came to be. Is it about a real person or is it just a fun song?

MH: “Hey Boy” is inspired by a real person – my boyfriend! The idea came about when I was trying to get him to date or notice me. I figured lots of other girls could relate to liking a boy who may like them back, but having them be too shy to make a move. In a way, it’s a song about empowerment. There is this traditional idea that guys have to be the ones to show interest first and make the first move. However, in today’s progressive world, women are becoming much more powerful in every way and this song is partly influenced by the mentality that girls can do anything guys can do, including being confidently flirtatious and forward!

Music

Cameron Ernst: From Bullied Kansas Kid, to Handsome Indie-Pop Artist Making It In L.A.

October 2, 2015

Cameron_Ersnt_skyelyfeCameron Ernst is from Andover, Kansas – but the indie-pop singer-songwriter had big city life on the brain from the time he was young.

During early youth, he began singing in a prestigious local choir, per the suggestion of a mom in town who heard his impressive vocals. The experience excitedly led him to a performance at NYC’s Carnegie Hall.

And after years in Kansas of piano lessons and participating in his school’s band, Ernst spread his wings and made his way to L.A. to attend USC, later deciding to move out here for good to pursue his dreams of being a musician.

“I’ve learned not to wait around for someone to help me with my career,” he tells skyelyfe of making the proactive transition from small town to big city. “I’ve got to keep pushing forward in creating great music and be the driver in my career moves. I’ve also learned that I can be content with where I’m at now and still be proactive with pushing forward, which is hard to do in a fast-paced culture where we’re constantly looking at what’s coming next. The move was a big milestone in my life, and takes a lot of courage and determination, especially as an indie artist.”

The emotional decision to move is much of what is featured on Ernst’s debut album Steadfast (scroll to the very bottom to listen), which was released on Sept. 14.

Cameron_Ernst_skyelyfe_2“All of the songs are from personal experiences or situations I was inspired by,” he says. “It’s interesting to look at the songs individually and connect them to what I was going through when I wrote them. As a collection, the album is definitely a chapter of my life where I was putting things that have scarred me in the past and learning to move forward and see the bigger picture in life.”

Ernst addresses some of those moments that have “scarred” him in “Vagabond,” the first single off the album. The song touches on his days back in Andover when, for example, he used to get picked last in gym class – which caused him lasting feelings of isolation and being unwanted. But in retrospect, he feels like that pain contributed to the journey that led him to where he is currently, and now he is only looking ahead. 

“In a year from now, I’d love to be putting out new music with a bigger team of people and touring with a larger artist so my music can have a bigger reach,” he says.

Among his dream touring partners?

Perhaps Walk the Moon, Troye Sivan or Jarryd James, who he notes as some of his favorite artists right now. But Ernst credits Taylor Swift, Broods and M83 for inspiring the work on Steadfast, while not failing to acknowledge that country music is his “guilty pleasure.”

Although Ernst no doubt wants to live the L.A. dream and experience the mainstream success of some of his beloved acts, he insists he won’t be changed by potential fame.

“My morals and values were definitely instilled in me from growing up in Andover,” he says. “I’ll forever be a good ol’ small town boy.”

Follow Cameron on social media!

Twitter & IG: @cameronernst

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Music Featured

Indie-Pop Artist Bean Releases Lyric Video for Empowering New Single “Wildfire” and Talks to Skyelyfe About Life As an Inner-Hippie Living in the Heart of Hollywood

May 20, 2015
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Photo credit: Chase Johnson

Fresh from a smashing recent Wango Tango  Village pre-show performance and yesterday’s release of catchy new empowering single “Wildfire” (be sure to scroll to the bottom for its lyric video), indie-pop artist Noelle Bean – whose stage name is simply just Bean – is floating on a sound cloud, but she didn’t envision musical stardom in her cards growing up.

Unlike so many other artists who dropped everything to pursue a career in music at a young age, the 23-year-old – who didn’t even pick up a guitar until she was almost 19 – was your average teenage girl, living in the south and going to church.

“I wasn’t planning on any of this happening.” the West Hollywood resident told skyelyfe of her current reality. “I wasn’t meaning to move out to L.A. and have this kind of life or anything, but I fell in love with music and it led me here, you know? It’s awesome.”

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Photo credit: Chase Johnson

After learning how to play different chords, “I eventually started putting all these poems that I had in a big compilation of journals and I was like, maybe I can make songs out of these,” she explained. “And so that’s what I did. I put the words with the chords and I put a melody over it. I put it up on YouTube and I’m signed to an indie label out here in L.A. now.”

Last week I met up with Bean for the first time to discuss the release of her new single, among other things. She greeted me with a big hug and the most engaging “hi!” I knew right away, this would be like catching up with an old friend.

The first thing I noticed were her uniquely manicured gels, popping with this incredible purple shade, adorned with these tiny gold triangles at the cuticles (take a peek at them on my Instagram). She informed me they were done at Tomoka Nails in West Hollywood. After discussing her expert Yelping skills that led her to this gem of a salon, we got to the reaction to that Wango Tango pre-show performance.

“It was amazing!” she said of L.A.’s KIIS-FM radio concert experience. “It’s been one of the biggest performances I’ve done. It was interesting for my set because everybody else was playing a track and was super poppy and then I get up there with my guitar player and my drummer and we did a little acoustic set kind of thing. The response was so much better than I thought it was going to be.”

As Bean pointed out, her vibe doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of most of the concert’s other participants, which included Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Meghan Trainor, Kanye West, Fifth Harmony and Ne-Yo, who were main stage performers.

“As far as my whole take on mainstream music and what’s popular on top 40 radio goes, it’s undeniable that yeah, I jam out to Taylor Swift tunes every now and again,” she said. “But my go-to music is super alternative, like The 1975 meets Foster the People. I listen to a ton of Ed Sheeran – just really alternative, indie band kind of stuff.”

Her true persona and musical influences shine through in “Wildfire,” a song she called “an anthem for all the other crazy, randoms out there.”

The track is a much-welcome change for the pop star-on-the-rise, who laughably rolled her eyes at the thought of last year’s single “Rollercoaster.”

She said excitedly, ” ‘Wildfire’ is really different and I’m so glad about that because ‘Rollercoaster’ was so poppy and I’m just like, thank god I’m past that stage!”

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Photo credit: Chase Johnson

Bean describes her new release as “a compilation of all these different people and their opinions of me. It’s everybody in the music business basically saying, like, ‘Are you sure that you know who you are as an artist and do you know what genre you are? And you keep changing your look every week. You’re wearing red lipstick one day, the next day you’re wearing a flower crown and Free People clothes.’ “

Referring to herself as “a wildfire,” Bean goes on to say, “I’m random, spontaneous and I love everything about the 1970s – just the hippie lifestyle movement.”

So, what’s life like as a self-proclaimed inner-hippie living in the heart of Tinseltown? There’s something for everyone out here, she believes, noting that in particular, she’s a huge fan of (first and foremost) her nail salon (see above), Pita Bar and Grill on Fairfax, Fox You boutique and none other than the Starbucks on Robertson and Beverly Blvd.

Check out the lyric video to Bean’s new single “Wildfire” below and download the track FREE on iTunes ALL WEEK LONG!:

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Music

Skyelyfe’s Best & Worst of Music in 2014

November 15, 2014

BreezySome folks may beg to differ, but I’m just going to say it (in my own humble opinion, of course): 2014 was the most unsatisfying year in pop music that I can remember. Ok, Taylor Swift came through in the clutch at the end of the year with an album that took the world by storm. And there’s no denying that Ariana Grande is a cutie who can sing (even though her music doesn’t personally appeal to me). Obviously Sam Smith‘s music has a way with the ladies. And I have nothing but love for Tove Lo and Banks. But aside from that, hardly anything on the radio except for Chris Brown (despite his personal woes) resonated with me this year.

In the past, I could at least depend on a good hook in a commercial rap song to get me by, but even the so-called “hip-hop” this year was beyond laughable. Not only did every song sound the same, but I seriously can’t keep up with who anyone is or what gimmicky nonsense they’re talking about anymore. I mean, even Drake, who usually never lets me down, had me scratching my head in 2014.

That said, this is why I turn more and more to alternative avenues to find good music. From MØ‘s No Mythologies to Follow, to Tensnake‘s Glow, among many others, the year did indeed produce sounds that were rewarding to the ears.

Here is skyelyfe’s favorite and least favorite music in 2014:

10 LEAST FAVORITE SONGS (in order):

1. “Anaconda” – Nicki Minaj

2. “Rude” – Magic!

3. “All About That Bass” – Meghan Trainor

4. “Talk Dirty” – Jason Derulo

5. “Wiggle” – Jason Derulo feat. Snoop Dogg

6. “Don’t Tell ‘Em” – Jeremih feat. YG

7. “Problem” – Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea

8. “Black Widow” – Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora

9. “Show Me” – Kid Ink feat. Chris Brown

10. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams

10 FAVORITE SONGS (in order):

1. “Slow Love” – MØ

2. “Love Sublime” – Tensnake feat. Nile Rodgers & Fiora

3. “Loyal” – Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga

4. “Main Chick” – Chris Brown feat. Kid Ink

5. “Busy Baby” – Tomas Barfod feat. Nina K

6. “All of You” – Betty Who

7. “Diamonds” – Lane 8 feat. Solomon Grey

8. “Bullet Train” – Gardens & Villa

9. “Self Control” – Kate Boy

10. “Dreaming” – The Knocks

15 FAVORITE ALBUMS (in order)

1. No Mythologies to FollowMØ

2. GlowTensnake

3. X (Deluxe Version)Chris Brown

4. BlondeGhost Beach

5. GoddessBanks

6. Queen of the CloudsTove Lo

7. Dunes – Gardens & Villa

8. Awake – Tycho

9. SinglesFuture Islands

10. Noise vs. Beauty Bassnectar

11. Take Me When You GoBetty Who

12. PolyphonyLogistics

13. Strangers, Part IIRAC

14. Nabuma RubberbandLittle Dragon

15. Down to EarthFlight Facilities

5 FAVORITE LIVE SHOWS OR ACTS (in order)

1. Cut Copy @ Lollapalooza in Chicago

2. DWNTWN/ASTR/The Knocks @ The Echo in L.A.

3. RAC/The Knocks (Something Classic Tour) @ The Fonda Theatre in L.A.

4. Robyn & Royksopp (Do It Again Tour) @ The Hollywood Bowl in L.A.

5. Future Islands @ Coachella in Indio, CA

While you anticipate what’s musically in store for 2015, here’s a playlist of my top 50 tracks of the year (in no particular order):

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Music Featured

O-Town Is Back After a Decade, Dishing to Skyelyfe on Ashley Parker Angel’s Sexual Selfies, Their ‘Liquid Dreams’ Past and Much More!

October 9, 2014
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Photo credit: Nick Caster

More than 10 years ago, O-Town won over tween girls’ hearts with “All or Nothing,” while sharing what was on their dirty little minds with “Liquid Dreams.” All this time later, Erik-Michael EstradaDan MillerTrevor Penick and Jacob Underwood (sans former member Ashley Parker Angel) are here to prove they’ve still got what it takes to dominate the Top 40 charts. The boys-turned-men, whose pop group was originally formed from MTV‘s Making the Band in 2000, recently released their new album Lines & Circles with its debut single “Skydive.” The guys spoke to skyelyfe exclusively this week about fitting in with today’s sound, why coming out with “Liquid Dreams” was such a challenge back in the day (for those who don’t remember the song, read the risque lyrics here) and why it is “upsetting” to see Ashley posting sexy selfies! And of course it wouldn’t be a proper chat if they didn’t provide a playlist of their top 10 boy band songs of all time!

SL: A decade later, you’re still going in the pop direction? What made you guys decide to continue in that route?

Jacob: We’ve always been pop. We didn’t try and rewrite the book there. But we did want to hone in on a sound that was more O-Town. This album has 70 percent or more written by us, the art done [by us], we edited, we played the instruments. It’s really been like the first O-Town record. That’s how we feel about it. But obviously we’re pop … we just want the sound to reflect where we are today and what we’ve learned in the last 10 years.

SL: What do you want fans to know about your journey in the last decade?

Erik: We got a chance to do a lot of different things after the hiatus. Jacob moved to Nashville, then he went and got his business degree. He’s managing the band. I did some songwriting, as did Jacob. We just wanted to contribute in ways that we didn’t really get to the first time around because the process was so convoluted by so many obligations with the television show and everything. We just didn’t have the control that we have now.

SL: Who are you fans of these days and is there any chance of any upcoming collaborations with artists who are big right now?

Dan: Pharrell [Williams] is collaborating with everybody right now and he can’t write anything that’s not a hit. It would be awesome to work with somebody like that, but more producer collaboration because we are four artists – four very different artists. So we honestly feel like every song that we do is a collaboration. We listen to and write different things, but when we come together … our differences create a sound that we would have never had as individuals.

Erik: I think there is room for a collaboration besides a producer. I think it would probably be a female singer, so like maybe [working with] Demi Lovato or Taylor Swift would be something we would all have fun attempting.

SL: What is your take on your fanbase? Do you feel like you have to start from scratch or do you feel like you’ve held on to the fans you’ve had in the past?

Jacob: We’ve definitely held on to fans from the past. That’s one of the biggest reasons why we came back together. When we went to Europe for the first time, we actually had the same fans who would meet us at the airport when they were 13. They were now 25, 26, and retaking pictures that we had taken. I think [our] music, being where it is now, we’ll be able to reach out to a new fan base who didn’t like or didn’t know O-Town before. [Our new] music is current.

Eric: The music’s different and we’re a different band than we were the first time around. We’re four different individuals and we’re minus an individual, [Ashley Parker Angel].

SL: Speaking of Ashley, have you seen his sexy photos on social media?

Jacob: [laughs] What do you think of those photos?

SL: Hey, I asked you first.

Jacob: We saw them. What do you think of those photos?

SL: It’s a little different than what I used to seeing years ago, but hey, coming from a guy who sang about “Liquid Dreams,” anything is possible, right? But are you guys proud of his modeling career or whatever you want to call it?

Jacob: I don’t think anybody should be proud of a selfie, period. The only time I take a selfie is when I’m trying to show people what’s behind me, like where I’m at. You may find half of my face. It’s just to prove that I’m there. But this whole posing and jaw-locking and sucking in is just upsetting all across the board – guys and girls alike.

SL: Now back to “Liquid Dreams.” Did you guys ever hear from any of them women you referred to in that song?

Jacob: The Destiny’s Child crew and Janet Jackson gave us some love. And Tyra [Banks], I remember Tyra.

SL: How was it coming out with a risqué song like that during a very bubblegum era?

Jacob: Our hardest task was trying somehow to explain the song without completely explaining the song. We had to come up with a story that people would buy that wasn’t about what it really was.

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