BJ Smith indie music artist“If There is Love is a journey of emotional uncertainty that needs answers! I once had a spoiled, hot headed girlfriend, who needed to work on her communication skills a bit. When ever there was a ripple in our relationship, she was real quick to just shut down and bounce out the door. “- @BJSmithMusic

Episode #277 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax

Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW BJ SMITH
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

I think every Artist has to fight to establish themselves…
through all the clutter of the politics, naysayers, and the airwaves of people trying to garner there 5 minutes of fame. Some personal challenges I’m noticing more so, not just for Artist and Musicians, but for our immediate surroundings and demographic is what I call cultural desensitization. This occurs sometimes through the people who are closest to us. Sometimes you wonder, do my friends care? Are they just numb now? Are they envious? Why is it that strangers seemed to be more engaged or appear to care more than my friends? Are my friends just jaded? Are people jaded within my immediate environment? Or, Are people just becoming more and more jaded overall now? Is it that they are so flooded with excessive information and can see anything they want within one click, so now their missing actually everything? “Cultural Desensitization”

People don’t seem to take care of each other anymore. If someone falls, do you help them get up, or do you grab your cell phone to film there tragedy or their mishap and demise. I feel like peoples reality is distorted.

Body dis-morphia, is rampant, visual dis-morphia , and audio dis-morphia is under attack on the human psyche. What we see, hear, and think. is being distorted and attacked! We need to get back to the basics, and quit looking to others for fulfillment and find it within ourselves instead of waiting and relying on public validation.

I try to live by example, and be positive and encourage anyone who’s attempting to try to influence positivity or show some type of progressive happiness in their life, by loving thyself and by giving something back unselfishly.’

Music business…
I feel that while currently the industry attempts influence us myopically, There are far too many aspects of the music industry to discuss! We could do a whole interview on that one topic alone. But what I will say, is that there are many elements and environments within this business, that are purposely set up and continually structured for people not to excel and/or succeed. So, in order to combat this, You must have the desire to be great! You must be fully committed to your craft! Every musician or artist wants to be successful in the industry but their not always willing to work, sacrifice, and/or stay focused on the commitment to excellence to make that trade off!

Pros and cons…
The pros are, I am in charge of creating, manifesting, and fulfilling my destiny! I also get to do what I love doing.
I don’t focus on the Cons, because for every failure I’ve experienced or may experience in the future, there are numerous victorious positive life lessons learned and through living it, no one can ever take it away! Once you’ve done something right or wrong, lived through it, and your able to reflect back upon it at another place and time, as a source of useful knowledge, there’s no better Pro or Con.

Hurdles and pitfalls…
By continually striving to be great! I Understand the realization of worth vs self worth and self fulfillment vs fulfillment.
There is a systemic underdevelopment of true Artistry and Musicianship today due to several reasons that are directly and indirectly affecting artists. Some reasons are beyond our control, but some reasons people only have themselves to blame.

First off, the “Now” syndrome that I see with some artists and musicians and people in general saying “I want it Now” breeds Bad habits, lack of commitment, acceptance of mediocre practices, and beliefs, facilitated by a reliance on gimmicks, deceit, or immediate meaningless gratification.

Secondly, there’s an unwillingness to work, sacrifice, or prepare for that future opportunity. Far too many lack the skill, persistence, integrity or vision to explore, highlight, or expose true Artistry at the highest professional level that matters, or its too hard or mentally unobtainable to some.

Furthermore, over inflated egos and beliefs in the big fish little pond syndrome, delivers a distorted reality that they have already arrived. Instead of having a real conceptual vision that starts from their immediate surrounding that can expand to national and global reach. Unfortunately, some are just satisfied with mediocrity.

And finally, a reliance on gimmicks, trends and talent instead of manifesting a continued development of craft, and understanding the significance of mastering that craft for longevity.

Personally, I always strive to live the moment, but I try not to get caught up in it. I don’t listen to negative opinions, but I do review constructive criticism. I realize that everyone is not going to like me or embrace my music or my message. But I also realize that they can’t feel what I feel, see what I see, and no one can do what you do the same way you do it.

We are all unique within ourselves and one another. I don’t let anyone’s approval or disapproval really mean anything to me, because I’ve set my rules, my unlimited boundaries and my objectives. And more than often I have learned, you have to travel that road of uncertainty alone. But the only difference is, I know where that road will take me. In life. I strive to be a voice heard in a world of often times fake, re-programmed, politically correct, unrealistic people, and even if you may not always agree with my opinions, you can always appreciate my honesty and outspokeness. I’m not the kind of Artist who will conform just to make naysayers comfortable. I know that people will either except you, or reject you, but what’s most important is, if they never forget you. If you work hard through life, focusing on positivity, focus on self love and love for mankind, and make a positive impact, I believe that your headed in the direction of becoming the best person you can be, and eventually everything will fall into place.

I live in Southern California…
Regarding the music scene, Orange County, San Diego County, Riverside County and Los Angeles County it’s great!

Southern Cali is an Entertainment Mecca within film, music, and performing arts. However; the scene for Soul, Jazz, and R&B, and some other genres, could actually be a lot better. Together we could make it better for all genres with a little effort.

A few problems I see, is what I call the Copy Cat Format. Several venues with in house promotion tend to focus on keeping up with the other guy, rather than thinking outside the box. If they say their a Live Entertainment venue, then they should strive to continually offer that and then some. They should at least try to offer Comedy, Country, Punk Rock, Hip Hop, indie Rock, Soul, R&B, Rap & Jazz. And really commit and push an emphasis on each event. Don’t just try it once and give up, things need time to marinate, nurture and build sometimes, and the pay off can be much greater than just playing it safe on what they presume just works.

Secondly, Ditch the Cattle call band nights and the Pay to Play scenarios, because they suck! Match up bands that are similar in genre because the fans and your built in following, (that’s if they have one,) will probably appreciate that more. Try different genres on different nights and offer variety in your monthly calendar of events. Also, book bands and entertainment that are worthy and good enough to be there in the first place! Regardless of the genre, or if it’s your friends band, or their willingness to sell or buy the tickets just to play take the time to see what your putting in your venue. Your reputation can depend on it. Now, although some Artist may use those cattle call and pay scenarios at times for promotion, exposure, or even a so called live audition, Artist have their own business cost associated with the development and furtherment of their vision and venues do as well. So remember, everyone needs to meet somewhere in the middle towards providing the common goal of quality entertainment and flourishing business for all parties involved. Venues should work just as hard at building nights, securing patrons, and developing core followings, as the Artist do.
Certain Venues take pride in their brand, and are known for their eclectic vibe, impeccable equipment, and overall standards of operational professionalism. This includes the quality of food, beverages, hospitality and personnel. Artist must have and maintain the same professional standards and run their operation the same way. Rehearse, be on time, promote your own show. The bottom line matters in all aspects. We must take pride, and continually strive for greatness. This is the Music Business, right?

And finally, most importantly, we need Cohesive Symbiosis!
I want Agents, Promoters, Talent Buyers, Venues, and Artists, to reconnect, unite, and have mutual respect for one another. We all have to make an attempt to be better, and realize not only what each of us do professionally, we must realize we need each other to survive and exist, It’s crucial.
It’s crucial to maintain and save the existence of a dying art form which is live musical entertainment on all levels.

If you have no desire to promote, no pride in ownership, or no respect within your performance, then you cant expect a unified energy source striving towards the establishment of combined goals and unified success within your fan base, your venue, or your agency.
We are a multicultural country with unlimited opportunities for choice. People love all types of music and entertainment, so let’s continue to give them a reason to embrace, respect, and desire to support and give into what it is we truly do and love.

Places to go in California…
House of blues Orange County & San Diego, The City National grove of Anaheim, The Observatory, The Coach House, The Belly Up, The Wiltern, The Saban Theatre, The Canyon Club, Saint Rock, M15, and a hand full of Casinos and unmentioned venues across Cali.
I love to go to concerts! There’s nothing better than seeing an Artist in their element and grasping that one of a kind moment when they perform. It’s a unique moment in time, that will never duplicate itself again.

Social media…
This is the most exciting times in the industry. Your able to understand the significance of what the Promotional departments, A&R, Producers, Publicists, Writers, and the overall influence of connecting the dots, help facilitate a successful campaign. You get to run your own campaign, and you can choose your markets, you can choose the amount of money spent, and you can partially control your outcome. Also, you can actually supersede previous opinions stated by the so called naysayers and higher ups in the know. Now you can actually prove that not everyone that says they have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening, is always correct. Sometimes no body knows what works and what doesn’t work, so you must be willing to always try! With the state of social media, you now have many options and it’s never too late. Overall, I think it’s a helpful useful tool at times but I also think It’s a double edged sword!

Singles vs an album…
I like Albums! There’s a true sense of artistry that goes into creating the cohesiveness of a completed album. I compare an album to a novel, and a single to short stories. Don’t get me wrong, both are equally effective, but with a novel or an album you must captivate or compel your reader to complete the book or your listener to finish the Album. Singles can serve as good testers and can also be a great precursor for what’s to come. Also singles can influence the direction of the album, so one hand washes the other. At the end of the day, every artist wants to be heard for their work, album or single. Talk about the differences in your marketing strategy to support your preference.

I started singing about the age of 3…
when my mother, who grew up in the circus and sang in the church choirs, discovered I could hold a tune. I started singing at church and elderly homes. It was fun, but I really got inspired later, about the 3rd grade after singing “Ben” by Michael Jackson in an elementary school talent show. Prior to this, things were a bit ruff through 1st and 2nd grade. I used to get harassed a bit and get in trouble for being somewhat of a rebellious class clown, and also because I was the only black kid at my elementary school. I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood of Orange County, where only approximately 5 African American families resided in our City. This talent show was a turning point that represented a milestone in my life, because after I sang, I immediately noticed a difference in treatment. My teachers, my classmates, and even some parents in the neighborhood seemed much nicer, to me and without even consciously knowing it at that time, It was the first time that I felt acceptance instead of ridicule. From then on, I sang every opportunity I could! It just goes to show you that music unites all of us and can always bridge a gap between us despite our differences.

If There is Love…
Is a journey of emotional uncertainty that needs answers! I once had a spoiled, hot headed girlfriend, who needed to work on her communication skills a bit. When ever there was a ripple in our relationship, she was real quick to just shut down and bounce out the door. Eventually, I discovered a pattern of communicating with her, which was like learning calculus or quantum physics. So, while working on this song, I felt like I had contributed to a chapter in the book “Relationships for Dummies”.

I eventually learned to just leave her alone, let her miss me a bit, and then everything would just play itself out. But of course, this sh** got old quick! This strategy never ever sat well with me, because I consider myself to be a communicator. I think it’s a natural human instinct to want clarity in the midst of emotional Chaos. I always tried to remain positive, and even through that emotional roller coaster, I believed she loved me, and I loved her as well. However, based on what I understood about her definition of love, and what was important to her because by this point it was imbedded in my mind like a micro chip, I became totally convinced that she could never ever see things my way, or even meet me half way, let alone match my intensity or my definition of love.

But still, I kept an open door policy with her, and when she tripped out, I ignored the drama and let her come and go as she pleased. I really didn’t like the fact that she seemed to only operate between 75 – 90%, when I was giving 150%. She could have at least kept it 100 with me. But actually, in hindsight, I guess based on her overall actions most of the time, she did. Towards the end, I got tired of the uncertainty of wondering, or not knowing if there is love? I just wanted to know, there is love, or there isn’t. I left the relationship never knowing….

This song was actually a collaboration that started in the direction of a world peace song. But eventually, it just didn’t feel right, so I tapped into myself and what I was really feeling, so instead of working on creating something, i let emotion dictate my direction. It’s what this song needed. I gave it my emotions of joy, pain, and anger along with combining the emotions of others I knew who had experienced similar circumstances of relationship whirlwinds. I channeled this energy to find a solution to that universal question that so many of us have asked ourselves before, during and we’re transitioning through that limbo phase in a relationship. That quest we all have sought to determine after you’ve laughed, cried, had sex, met the family, agreed or disagreed or even had a one nighter is, if there is actually any love hear?

Both sad and funny things happened during the process…
The sadness I felt wasn’t just for her losing me, I felt sad for anyone who misses out on the opportunity to feel love, receive love, or mutually experience reciprocal love. I believe you truly haven’t lived until you’ve truly had this experience.

Everyone should rejoice, if someone besides your parents have ever tried to really love you, because we’re all worthy of intimate love.

But in hind site, what’s funny is, I took that emotion from the loss, and I combined it with the emotion of joy I feel every moment from my current romantic situation. My woman loves me unconditionally, and I thought about our bond. I thought about, how we disagree and how we agree. I thought about how we view the world so differently but yet we’re still able to unite. I thought about what I’d say to her, if this adversity rose between us. The combined emotions of both scenarios along with the energy my band put out in the studio when we recorded this, drove my performance over the top!

It’s funny how adversity, pain, suffering and even failure can prepare you for the ultimate gifts and prizes in life that awaits you down the road!

My music is…
Smooth, Unique, Provocative & Genuine in its sound. When you record live and have the right musicians present with you, your direction and capabilities are endless.

This Album Real Life Issues is significant because…
it picks up from a post Honeymoon relationship perspective. Unlike some love songs with happy endings, my songs reflect real life issues that occur through the ups and downs relationships, and the conclusion depends on the perspective of the listener. My lyrical subject matter invites listeners to capture the essence of love, lust, romance, and the uncertainty of heartbreak, however; its coupled with the overwhelming tangent of Faith, Hope, and unconditional love. This culmination of reality and positivity, carries us through the hard times and allows us to grow stronger through adversity and transition through forgiving the action, reflecting on the emotion, and moving forward towards self healing and positive outcomes. “Whatever doesn’t kill ya, makes you stronger”.

This Album was recorded Live by…
real musicians, with an emphasis on strong musicality, and melodic Vocal harmonies, coupled with Artistic emotion from everyone who contributed. I’ve thrown in a touch of oldschool flavor with a new school fresh vibe. This album has a distinctive original sound of its own. The lyrical content along with the elements of music and production are cohesive thought provoking unisex songs, nostalgic of earlier R&B greats who crooned their way into existence that will awaken a love odyssey in your heart, body, soul, and mind. Anyone and everyone, who’s ever been in love, been in lust, or thought they were in love, will relate to this Album.

It was meant to be heard almost in every setting…
Ladies can listen to this while their in the tub with a glass of wine, it can be heard and enjoyed in an eclectic hip restaurant setting, or in a car, a train, or a plane. You can listen while traveling long, or short distances. And it can especially be enjoyed somewhere or anywhere intimate, during a nice session of romantic tantric bonding, cuddling, or foreplay!

I want this record to spark, convey, and provoke thoughts of love, loss, hope and release. I want listeners to understand that it’s perfectly ok to have loved the wrong person, just as much as loving the right person. I want people to know that all perfect scenarios in life are the ones we create, live through, and endure, because the best teacher in life, are the lived life experiences. “Never let the fear of Striking out, keep you from playing the game!”

I want people to relate, reflect, and reminisce…
I want people to enjoy the journey of this album, but I also want to continue to help and contribute to the awareness of keeping real musicianship, musicality, and true R&B alive and kicking! I want people to still appreciate and respect instrumentation, and creativity within the art of music. Music unites us all and brings us together on many accords. Americans have created so many diverse styles of music from rock, jazz, blues, country, metal, rap, R&B and the list goes on within genres and styles that have crossed cultural and global boundaries. Let us not lose or diminish there significance.

Finally, I wanted to engage people’s mind and hopefully influence or affect the way they think and possibly put back faith, hope, and belief in love, intimacy, self healing and an overall belief in positivity towards mankind and living the human experience. I want people to remain in touch with themselves and each others emotions, and not be afraid to investigate, engage, or pursue their most deepest private and intimate feelings. I hope my music continues to spark contemplation, perpetuate love, lust, sex, emotional security, and human bonding to assist in the continuance of creation. I want people existing in the future because their parents put my music on and made love to each other!

Via digital release, iTunes, Amazon, etc, social medial, radio, and hard copy through my website, along with downloadable drop cards.

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
I would say Prince, but if you don’t catch him at the right time, he might just stair at you. So how bout Michael Jackson. Micheal went far beyond the comfort zone within the musical royal family he came from and he further manifested his dreams and destiny. He utilized the opportunities he had, utilized the mentors around him, and he applied all the life lessons he experienced at such a young age along with understanding the facts & patterns associated within his chosen profession. He carved out his own direction, and he figured out that although your watching, listening, and learning as you go, you must do it and live it to fully understand.

He knew he needed to create structure and an provide an opportunity for people to see it. He knew you must dedicate yourself to it 24/7. He also knew you still have to have people who can understand you, help you remain grounded, and help you navigate, your course through rough waters and help explain why some things are one way, and why some things are the other way.

He surrounded himself in an elite environment and capitalized on the fact that many don’t get the opportunity to practice there craft at a size and scale that matters to the world. He made his moment count with his ubiquitous larger than life personification as a Pop / R&B legendary icon soared. I’d love to confirm my thoughts.

Being Current and trendy…
As an Artist, you must know yourself to have true balance overall in life! That’s the only way you can make clear concise choices and decisions for yourself that will matter to you and those around you. You must know it and believe it yourself before anyone else will. Trends change and fade quickly, but art lasts forever.

I am most afraid of… Nothing!
Negative thoughts Never Produced Positive Outcomes or Positive Results!

My personal definition of success is..
Doing what I love. A Having the strength, desire, and intestinal fortitude to push forward, and facilitate my dreams into manifestation. I wish to inspire people by Influencing positivity, love, empathy, and compassion. And I want to pay it forward, first through my voice my gift of song through an example of living my dreams and trying to remain in a position to help those in need whether it be, musically, physically, psychologically, emotionally, or financially.

Within my music career so far…
I’ve had the opportunity to meet and perform for one of our previous Commander and Chiefs, President William Jefferson Clinton. I was personally selected by the Democratic Committee to perform for his 50th Birthday Celebration. This was an incredible honor for me because so many times people who share similar opportunities have either been part of a political campaign, been injured, or made some great sacrifice to our country! To have this opportunity to show and share my craft for our highest elected official who indirectly helps to solidify the American Dream that we can do or be whatever we set our mind towards, is Amazing!

My over all goal for my life & career is…
Is to be an ambassador for music, while continuing to make music and impact someone’s life and the world, positively!

3 Ways that I challenge myself …
1) Continually position myself to be accessible to opportunities.

2) I Keep my mind open and sharp to constructively receive knowledge, ideas and creativity, from my friends, critics, and mentors, and I try to learn from those who have already lived it. I also try to focus on staying out of my own way and just except a concept of Pronoia.

3) I meditate and focus on positivity, love, and peaceful humanity amongst mankind. And within this I strive to be a living example for others and combine opportunities, knowledge and my own life experiences to stride forward and continue living my dreams. You have to live this lifestyle, and be committed. it can’t be just a casual thing. You must Play for keeps!