Challen Cates is best known for her role as Mrs. Knight on the Nickelodeon original series Big Time Rush; she’s the clever, fun, yet sometimes clueless mom to Kendall and Katie.
Challen chats with us a bit about a typical day on set; what she likes to do on her days off, and what she has learned from playing “Momma Knight”.
Hi Challen! “Big Time Rush” is gaining fans everyday, so for those who just starting tuning in — can you tell me about your character, Jennifer Knight?
Jennifer Knight is Kendall and Katie’s single mom on the show. My character is that perfect mom that allows her kids the freedom to have adventures on their own and to explore their dreams. And she is always there for them if they find themselves in trouble and need that help that only “mom” can provide.
Would you say you’re anything like you’re character at all? What’s the closet similarity and the biggest departure?
Yes, we do have some similarities. I have 2 small kids in real life and I love my kids more than anything in the world. The biggest difference is that I am not a single mom. I have a great deal of respect for all of the single mothers out there because it is a tremendous amount of work to raise healthy children. I have to say that I am learning a lot from my character about how to trust your children and give them freedom to explore on their own and know that the values that you have instilled in them will carry them through life.
Are you into method acting? Do you base any characteristics of Jennifer on people you’ve known?
I have studied many different methods and have taken bits and pieces from all of my teachers to assemble my own method. I like to call it the “Whatever Works Method.” I love to people watch, so I am always incorporating behavior that I see in other people into Jennifer and every other character that I play.
It’s always fun to take a step behind the scenes of a hit TV show, so I want to get a little insight into your life working on the set. What’s a typical day like for you on BTR?
A typical day on set usually means an early morning call-time which doesn’t bother me because I love going to work. I report to hair and makeup right away. The hair and makeup trailer is always lively and entertaining…especially if Kendall, James, Logan or Carlos are there. From there we go to set for blocking and rehearsal and then we start shooting. We move quickly so everyone is already prepared when they arrive on set. We have a lot of fun between takes and then we make sure that the fun shows up on screen.
I understand that you don’t just play a mother on television, you are one in real life too! Do your kids watch the show?
Yes. I have a 6 year-old son and a 3 year-old daughter. They love watching the show and they love hanging out with Ciara and the guys. We recently went to the BTR concert at the Gibson Amphitheater in LA which was their first concert. I hope that they look back and feel proud that Big Time Rush was their first concert!
If one of them said they wanted to pursue this kind of lifestyle — whether it be acting or a musical career — how would you feel about that?
I will be supportive of whatever career paths they choose. I certainly don’t want them to feel the amount of rejection that happens in the entertainment business but if that is their passion… I will help them in their pursuits.
On the show, Kendall, James, Carlos, and Logan are always getting themselves into one crazy situation after another. Are there many hijinks on set? What’s the cast environment like when you’re shooting an episode?
Crazy hi-jinks happening all the time! You have to watch your back. That is what makes it so much fun to work with them.
What’s your favorite BTR song?
“‘Til I Forget About You”
“Big Time Rush” is a huge mega hit and the guys have a tremendous fan base of ‘devoted fans’; mostly young girls. Were you ever one of them growing up? Did you have a major teen heart-throb crush that you could compare to the BTR fan frenzy?
I was kind of a geek, so I didn’t have posters of boys on the walls of my room. My big teen crush was Rob Lowe. In fact, I still think he’s hot.
When you’re not working and just have some time to yourself, what do you like to do?
My family has a winery in the Central Coast of California; Tantara Winery. We like to head up to the winery to soak up the country life and relax.
The new season is ready! What can we expect from “Momma Knight” and the new episodes? Anything you can dish?!
As you said, BTR is a mega hit and art is imitating life. The band members and everyone in their world will have to adjust to fame and fortune. Should be interesting….
Switching gears a little bit. It’s awards season! Have you seen any of the Oscar nominated movies? Which film are you pulling for?
The Artist! I loved it. So unique and different and I love that the actors were required to get their intentions across without dialogue.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me! I can’t wait to see the new season!
Thank you Courtney!!!!
FOR MORE ON CHALLEN AND BIG TIME RUSH CHECK OUT:
If all of life were that great new music video you saw on YouTube, Skyler would have written the song, played all of the instruments, and directed the video.
From performing on imaginary stages during recess in the third grade, to becoming a multi-instrumentalist with a full-length album by the ninth grade, and now a up-n-comer to keep your eye. He’s got over 250 gigs under his belt, writes his own music, and just recently released his second EP, titled “Take You Away”.
FANVASION caught up with Skyler on a rare day off to get to know him a little better and now you can too. Read our interview below, watch the video and if you haven’t already give Skyler a listen.
Can you tell me a little bit about your musical upbringing and how it got you this point?
Sure, um well my parents introduced me to The Beatles when I was about three years old, and I just fell in love with music. All throughout elementary school I was constantly trying to form bands because I wanted to start the next Beatles, starting in Kindergarten. I remember in third grade I actually had auditions for a boy band. I would get guys from all around my school to come and audition, they would have to sing and dance.
Were a boy band fan?
Yeah, and this was back when ‘N Sync were really popular and Backstreet Boys were really popular, so I wanted to do something like that. Around that same time was when I started writing music and I started playing drums. Then I eventually learned how to play guitar, bass, piano and I just sort of went from there and started doing everything.
You’ve been writing and recording for years, what’s your process for writing music? Are any of your songs based off personal experiences … or something you would like to happen?
Yeah, a lot of the songs are from personal experiences; especially on the first CD, Long Gone. Most of those are all from personal experiences that really happened and I wanted to sort of tell stories and express that those feelings I was feeling at the time, because I knew a lot of people could relate to them. With this new CD a lot of the songs are more ideas that I had; that I talked to my song writing partners about, maybe that they had … um, rather than necessarily actual events.
So you grew up listening to The Beatles and you’re a Backstreet Boys fan. Who are some of your other musical influences and how do they affect your sound?
Um, well around probably by sophomore or junior year of high school I really, really started to become influenced by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp. So then that really started to influence my sound and probably around my senior year in high school is when I started transitioning and started listening to Country music for the first time. People like Taylor Swift and Keith Urban have become huge influences in my sound.
Well, people have called you “the male Taylor Swift”.
Yeah they have, and that’s great I love it.
Like I said, you’ve been compared to Taylor Swift. But, how would you describe your music for those that haven’t heard it?
Uh well it’s a mixture between Country, Pop, and Rock music. I always just called it rock-n-roll, but people really seem to latch onto the country/rock or pop/country aspect of it.
Tell me about your single “Take You Away”!
“Take You Away” is the first single off of the new CD called Take You Away. And it’s a story about uh – you know – from the singers point of view, there’s this girl who he’s just enamored in… enamored of… enamored by…enamored something. [Laughs] I’ll have to check in the English dictionary for the correct saying of that. Um, who he’s just infatuated with, but he realized that she has no idea who he is. He just sees her, ah – going through the motions, and not ah – being with guys who he feels…um – like he could – ah.. really give her something that they aren’t, and really treat her right. Then so, the whole idea is ‘I’ll take you away from all that’. I will give you everything that you deserve.
Kind of an anthem for a lot of people out there.
Well uh, that’s what I hope – that’s what I hope for.
You have a band that plays with you called Band of Thieves. Where did that stem from?
Yeah, uh – The Band of Thieves, they actually for the longest time didn’t have a band name. So that just really confused everybody, everyone was like ‘so is the band called Skyler?’, ‘are you called Skyler?’ what’s going on. So we finally had to come up with a band name, and we’re all huge fans of Taylor Swift and when her new record came out one of the favorite song of all of ours was the very last track on it, called “Long Live”. And there’s this one line in it that says “a band of thieves in ripped up jeans got to rule the world”, and so we were talking about that and one of them said ‘oh, a band of thieves’ – Skyler and the Band of Thieves…and it just stuck.
You’ve been touring a lot since last year, what was your most memorable performance so far?
Probably our most memorable performance was at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT. We arrived just before – actually not…just as a blizzard was hitting South Burlington. And we loaded in, in the snow storm and you know just kept our fingers crossed people would show up because we had never played in Vermont before. Um, and – you know God love them, our fans showed up and filled the room… in a blizzard; our first time in Vermont, so that was a real treat.
Who would be a ‘dream come true’ artist you’d like to work with?
Um, well most of my favorite artists are unfortunately either really old or dead. [Laughs] But uh right now, I’d love to work with Taylor Swift. She really seems to be on top of her game, and I want to work with somebody who – you know is really hitting their stride.
Your single, “Take You Away” – that we were just talking about – was just released this past month. Are there plans for a full-length record in the works?
Uh, well this is our second EP, so second half length album. Ah I mean we could potentially put both of them together and release it as one CD, but I’d hate doing that. It just seems so cheap. So, I would love to record a full-length album of all new material, but the time has to be right. So, who knows – maybe a year from now we’ll be talking about my full-length record.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day off to talk with me about your music.
Well, it was my pleasure thank you for having me.
For more videos from our interview, visit our YouTube Channel.
Check out our SKYLER “Take You Away” contest and ENTER NOW!
photos: Tony Luong
It’s been ten years since we last saw Greg Raposo — at that time Greg was touring the country with the boy band, Dream Street; which he had been a member of for nearly three years. Since then, Greg has released a solo record, played in several bands, and performed countless shows to a slew of new fans, and dedicated followers from his “DS days”.
These days Greg wants to use his musical talent and lend his voice to give back to the community, and those less fortunate. When we caught up with Greg backstage at the “Four Years. Go” benefit in New Jersey, he talked about his musical journey from Dream Street, to the music close to his heart, and what he’s into now.
Well, obviously it’s been a long time since we’ve seen you!
It has been! It’s so good to see you guys again.
How has your musical style changed since the “Dream Street” days?
Well, since Dream Street days, a big thing would be the fact that I didn’t write Dream Street music, I just sang it. I then started to write my own music, so that in itself is going to be a pretty big change. But then as my own music, because I’ve already been doing my own thing for a little while now, that’s changed a lot through the different people that I work with.
You know, just whoever you’re co-writing with is a pretty big influence on the song, and I’ve been co-writing with a lot of different people throughout the years. I’ve had a lot of different band names even throughout the years, so you know it depends on the team that you’re working with and that’s definitely been a big part of how I’ve progressed throughout the years.
You put out a solo album after Dream Street ended, and you were with bands, but you’re doing solo again. Do you have plans for another album?
Right- yeah, I mean I’m recording stuff on my own, you know I’ve got a little studio and I’ve just kinda… in all honesty, everything that I do now, forward, is honestly being done because I truly…it’s just who I am. I’m just doing it because, you know like a swimmer swims, a songwriter writes songs, and a singer sings. So, I’m always going to sing, I’m always going to write songs, in all honesty everything… I’ve actually reached a point, a great place to be where I’ve really let everything go essentially and really now it’s just about, you know when I’m in my car and I want to listen to music, probably eighty percent of the time I’ll listen to stuff that I’ve done on my own just because it’s what I enjoy.
It’s what I like, so a lot of times I’m writing because I want an album to listen to for myself. A lot of the music that I’m writing now, a lot of the stuff that I’m doing, is with that intention. [watch the video]
So, you’re doing other things but you just can’t shut off that part of you that wants to play music.
Right, exactly! Exactly, it’s just no matter what I do business-wise or career-wise…
Will you always come back to that?
No, it’s not that but no matter what I do, it doesn’t change that I’m still ‘Greg Raposo, the musician’ inside and that I’ll always be.
Once a musician, always a musician.
Yeah! It’ll always be…it’ll always be there.
Do you still keep in touch with Frankie [Galasso], Jesse [McCartney], Chris [Trousdale], and Matt [Ballinger]?
Of course! Yeah.
Matt actually messaged me the other day about his band [Open Till Midnight], would you ever want to work with them?
Yeah, I’ve done a few shows with them.
Your fans have grown up with you, technically we were all around the same age at the same time. It was prominent teen years, what was your favorite memory from that whole experience?
The most memorable thing? I’d have to say of the Dream Street thing, one of the most memorable things – because there were so many – would have to be the last Aaron Carter tour that we did. It was an arena tour where every night we’re playing for a minimum of six thousand people up to fifteen or twenty thousand people.
I think, for us, that was a very…probably the pinnacle of where we were at. We kind of broke apart right after that, but that was a great experience. [watch the video]
I always liked going to those shows, it was such a hang out.
You just went, hung out, and watched the show; we went to one of the Aaron shows too.
So, what are performing tonight?
Well, I have a couple of throwbacks, I’ll have a couple covers for the fun of it, and then I have a special guest to come out on stage with me. I’ve also got some new music that I’ve never ever played before. [Editors note: Greg was mum on the covers and special guest, but it turned out to be none other than his younger sister Nicole who he performed Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling” and Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You” with!]
You said that you listen to some of your own music still, what are some of the other bands or artists that you’re into?
I’m into a lot of different stuff, honestly. You know- everything from Story of the Year to Train to John Mayer. Recently I’ve been listening to Rascal Flatts.
Oh, Rascal Flatts…
Yeah, awesome-awesome, love it!
We saw them live.
Me too, yeah- a couple of times. So yeah, I don’t discriminate really.
So, what’s up after this? Are you going to playing more shows here and there?
You know, honestly, I think that musically a big thing that I’m focused on is sharing my music in a more charitable way.
Is that why you got involved with this show tonight?
Yeah! Everything that I’m doing has been really for a purpose.
I remember you use to do this with Kids 4 Kids, for Muscular Dystrophy. You’ve always done that, I wasn’t surprised to hear you were involved with this show.
Yeah, yeah! I’m not trying to make this crazy career out of being an artist anymore. I’m really just…I work in real estate, which is what I do. That’s where I have my career, that’s where I do business, and then like we were saying before I’ll always be this songwriter, I’ll always be this performer, this musician and I love it! If I can use that to help make a difference, make a change, and so some good things with it then how could I not? I’ve been given this gift and I think that the least I can do is use it.
For more videos from our interview, visit our YouTube Channel.
photography: Chanelle Justice ©FANVASION
The world was introduced to Aaron Carter when his music career took off over a decade ago — he was still just single digits in age and battling it out on the international pop charts with his older brother Nick from the Backstreet Boys. There have been ups and downs in both his personal and professional life, we caught a glimpse of such in the E! reality television series “House of Carters” in 2006 where the cameras followed the estranged Carter siblings (Aaron, Nick, and three of their sisters) as they reconnected their relationships. Later on, Aaron showed off his fancy footwork as part of the “Dancing with the Stars” season nine cast.
These days the 23-year-old singer is back to working on his music and helping out with causes close to his heart. Check out what Aaron had to say when we caught up with him at a benefit show in New Jersey!
Tell us about the show tonight!
Yeah, absolutely. It’s just me performing by myself. It’s kind of like a one-man-band type of thing and there’s going to be all new songs.
What made you decide to do it…it’s a charity event, right?
Well, Four Years Go – what this concert is about is raising awareness about what we can do to prevent like crazy stuff happening. It’s all about the next four years, there will be an introductory video to everybody out there [watch the video here]. This video is a concert to benefit Four Years Go, which means the next four years we have is a time where we can do something to make a difference of how everything goes in the world, you know. The population, economics, and just world crisis stuff. There’s a lot more to it and a lot more than everyone is still learning and everyone is still participating. It’s more of an economic, crisis type of thing, you know?
And you have another show in New York?
Yeah, it’s in New York and it’s more of a smaller, intimate type show. It’s for Audrianna, this little girl who has Neuroblastoma Cancer. Anytime there’s a charity or something that I can be a part of to raise money, to help this girl and her family pay for the expenses…
She’s very young!
She’s like five years old.
That’s so sad, but she’s a fighter for someone so small she’s really strong. I don’t know if I could take on something like that, but it’s the hand you’re dealt.
Yeah, especially put yourself in the parents’ situation. It’s their child and it means a lot to them that I help them out. Anything that I can do and anything that everyone else can do. [Help Audrianna’s family here]
You said that we’ll hear some new music tonight. What can we expect and when will we hear some new songs on iTunes?
Oh, wow! If you want to know when to expect new songs on iTunes, follow Johnny Wright.. WEG (@wegmusic) and ask him. [Laughs] He’s my manger and he’ll tell you. [Laughs] No, we’re just taking our time with the project right now, and just getting everybody back into it. I’m going to be doing more shows promoting some of the stuff that’s going to be on the new album before we release it. There’s going to be a lot more shows that come up before there’s any album out, but the album will be out soon. I’ve just been focusing on the music, that’s the most important part in who I am as a musician, who I am as an artist, and how it’s going to make any sense and be related in my life. It’s going to be who I am.”
We’re excited! Honestly, I’ve been following your career since I was nine years-old.
I’m not even kidding. [Laughs]
And how old are you now?
23 yrs old.
Oh, wow. Yes!
How would you say your musical style has changed since then? Because the first song I ever heard you sing was “Shake It”.
Oh wow! [Laughs, looks at the camera] She’s really been following since she was nine. That’s fourteen years people! That’s a lot. That’s dedication. Well, how has it evolved since “Shake It”? [Laughs] It’s evolved a lot, I mean music has changed. A lot of music has gone through a whole bunch of changes, I mean there’s stuff out there that I listen to and I’m like “What the heck is this? This is terrible!” or “What is this? This is great.” But my music in particular is more of an R&B-Pop crossover.
I’m also leaning towards an Urban style because that’s kind of… like what’s in my heart. Like an Urban sound, you know big kicks, big 808’s, and big production. A lot of piano, a lot of strings, you know just a big overall sound with good top line melodies that are catchy, and where there’s actual subjects to talk about that are meaningful.
You’ve worked with a lot of artists over the years. Who is someone that you haven’t worked with that you’d like to?
Ah, somebody that I haven’t worked with. Um, let’s see…I would say…well, I was going to say Justin Timberlake, but I did work with Justin. He did- they did the background vocals on “Surfin’ U.S.A”, him and ‘NSYNC. [Laughs] I don’t know if you guys know that.
I actually didn’t know that!
You didn’t know that? [Laughs] Yeah, on my first album. It’s funny because ‘NSYNC did the background vocals on “Surfin’ U.S.A” and then on “Swing It Out”, the Backstreet Boys did the background vocals. [Laughs] I had both of them on my album and they were backup singers- that’s great.
You had Brian and Nick on one of your songs too, I think. I think I’m right about that.
No, I had Nick on one…well; Nick’s been on a couple of songs.
On your first album.
Yeah, “Ain’t That Cute”. Brian and Nick, they wrote my song for me with Gary Carolla, I think it was. [watch the video]
That was fun, but you know times have changed. [Laughs]
Dancing with the Stars kicked off the new season this week, are you tuning in?
Yeah, actually I did.
Who did you like?
Oh, oh my gosh – who did I like? If I can be honest, let me go back and recap in my head.
I kind of liked Karina and Ralph, they were good.
Yeah! Karina is definitely…I hope she’s being nice to him. [Laughs]
Yes, [Laughs] I know. I know she’s tough. Those Russian-Ukrainian’s man. Whoo- they’re tough ones. Let’s see…I actually did like Ralph and Karina. I thought they were great, I really did. I thought they were awesome.
Do you think he might take it?
I hope so! I mean, I know Karina really wants to win. [Laughs] I know that.
We honestly thought you could’ve gone further in the competition. You were one of our favorites of that season. What was your favorite performance? I know mine, but what was yours?
Thank you. My favorite performance was the Argentine Tango because I got to be really sexual with Karina. [Laughs] No, it was definitely my favorite one, the Argentine Tango. The Muppet one was good.
That’s the one! That’s my favorite, I love that one.
The Muppet dance was fun too. It seemed like it went by so quick, like all of a sudden I [makes kiss sound] kissed her on the shoulder, I smiled, and then it was over and I was like ‘wow’. But, I guess when something goes by quick like that.. We had fun; we did a great job together. It was awesome…it was a good competition. [watch the video]
There have been many times where you have actually been compared, and he has been called the ‘new Aaron Carter’ – Justin Bieber. How do you feel about that?
Well, I mean it’s flattering. He’s out there doing a great job, he’s got a good team around him, and hopefully he keeps in good spirits.
So, you’re cool with that?
Of course- absolutely; I mean there was a time that that happened too where um… [watch the video]
(We were then interrupted by the venue caterer with a plate full of fruit for Aaron.)
A few years ago you did a reality show with your brothers and you sisters, “House of Carters”. Now aside from reality competitions, would you do another reality show where they peek into your personal life like that?
Yeah, just as long as my brother wasn’t involved. [Laughs]
Did they really roll the entire time or did you ever a break away from it?
No, they pretty much rolled the entire time.
I don’t know how I could imagine a camera on me all the time.
Yeah, there was really nothing you could do. I remember my sister, my sister BJ, was like hiding in closets and stuff ’cause she couldn’t take it. [Laughs] Everybody was like ‘where did BJ go?!’ and I knew where she was and she was like sitting in the closet on her Sidekick or something like that just talking to people.
Oh, the Sidekick…
Yeah, [Laughs] back then the Sidekick was goin’ down.
You’re going to be an Uncle, are you excited?
I know! Any day now. I’m so happy for my sister, Leslie. You know, she’s been married for like six years now with her husband and he’s a great guy. I couldn’t be more proud of her. Leslie’s a very talented, a very, very talented artist. She’s very amazing at writing, very amazing at composing, and just amazing at being an overall good sister.
We wouldn’t mind seeing you guys perform.
Yeah, yeah we might do something!
You’re on Twitter and you communicate a lot with your friends which a lot of celebrities have Twitters, but they don’t all talk to their fans. Do you try to answer everybody or are there particular tweets that will catch your eye?
No, it’s definitely like particular tweets that catch my eye. I mean sometimes, you know, it just depends. At the same token, on the flip side of things I try to answer as many people as I can too. But, it’s weird though because sometimes when I start answering a lot of people, there are people that will stop following me. I don’t really care though because if you’re getting upset at me for communicating with my fans, then don’t follow me. I’ll end up blocking you anyway.
You can’t please everybody! I actually like Twitter; I think it’s really cool. I would’ve loved to have had it when I was a kid and wanted to talk to my favorite singers. That would’ve been awesome to have that.
Twitter isn’t just for ‘tweeting’, I get addicted to those little hashtag games where you have to fill in those things that everybody catches onto.
Oh yeah, I do too!
Speaking of those fun things- have you ever heard of @LMAOTwitPics?
Oh, my gosh… it is the best Twitter ever! You know when you’re out there, you see people and you’re like ‘What the heck are they wearing?’ ‘What are they doing?’ You just see those random funny things. @LMAOTwitPics has them all and you won’t be able to stop laughing the entire time!
Yeah, you have to check it out.
I will! I’ll follow you @LMAOTwitPics. [Laughs]
Rebecca Black has been trending for an entire week. Japan isn’t trending anymore and yet Rebecca Black is. How do you feel about the song “Friday”? Have you heard it?
Oh, yes! I heard it last night and, you know, ‘no comment’. [Laughs] I have to say ‘no comment’ because if I… yeah, it’s crazy what the music is coming to.
It seems a little bit easier for artists to get out there with YouTube. Do you think kids have more of an advantage now with YouTube than what you had when you were younger?
Oh yeah, there wasn’t YouTube…there was barely internet.
There wasn’t really any marketing online.
There was barely internet when I first started. Actually I don’t even think there was internet, I mean what was it? AOL? IM? [Laughs] Yeah, and you know the Apple computers with the colored things, the colored backs. I mean the internet definitely takes over the whole industry. It can work to people’s advantage or it cannot work to their advantage.
Do you have any advice for young kids who are trying to get out there now?
My advice for young kids trying to get out there now, I mean…it’s hard. Continue to do what you love, if you love being a performer- do it. You can’t always please everybody, you know I can’t always expect to please everybody and I don’t try. I try to make sure that I’m happy, and not just content, I’m actually really happy. You know, jubilant. I actually have a good feeling about what I do and it’s not for everybody else. [watch the video]
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. I appreciate it, and like I said…it’s crazy! Nine years old and now… [laughs]
Yeah, you’re welcome. Thank you.
For more videos from our interview, visit our YouTube Channel.
photography: Chanelle Justice ©FANVASION
Calling all Life Unexpected fans! I know you’re out there and we couldn’t agree more with your love for The CW’s brand new hit drama. I got a chance to speak with Austin Basis who plays Math – Baze’s (Kristoffer Paloha) friend who been laboring a crush for Cate (Shiri Appleby) since high school! Whether you’re familiar with the show or not – you’re about to be.
Read what Austin has to say about the show, his character, what’s ahead – and what was up with those “Turtle Races”.
First off when did you decide that acting was what you wanted to do?
I always felt comfortable performing in front of people and making them laugh; even as a kid. My favorite holiday was Halloween, so I tried my best to make it last as long as possible. I used to have a “Costume Chest” that I’d collect masks, wigs, hats, glasses, make-up, and capes in. And when friends came over, we’d dress up and act stuff out on my front porch for our parents. I did some musical theater in sleep-away camp and performed in school plays, but it wasn’t until college that I decided to major in theater and fully commit to being an actor.
How did landing the role in Life Unexpected come about?
The usual way, I auditioned… I met with the casting directors Robin Lippin and Jeff Meshel, along with the executive producer Liz Tigelaar and the producer Mary Beth Basile. I had a work session with Gary Fleder. Then they decided to TEST me for the pilot- which means that I would audition for the studio [CBS] and then, if I made it past them, the network [The CW]. I originally auditioned with Kris [Polaha] and Shiri [Appleby] in December 2008, but had to wait until January 2009 to find out I got the part. Brit [Robertson] was already cast as “Lux”; Kris was cast in December; Shiri and I found out around the same time in January; and Kerr [Smith] and Reggie [Austin] were cast last.
For those who haven’t tuned into the show yet, can you tell me about your character “Math”?
Math, is Baze’s best friend and roommate. In the pilot, Baze’s biological daughter-he-never-knew-he-had [Lux] shows up at their apartment. It turns out she was conceived from a one-night-stand “Baze” had with Math’s high school crush, Cate. SO all these people are thrown back into this dysfunctional little world together. Math, is Baze’s loyal confidante and impassioned motivator. Together with Jamie, their other roommate, these three stooges provide the comic relief of Life Unexpected. Math now teaches at their alma mater, and has “Lux” as a student.
“Math” had a crush on “Cate” in high school – did you ever have your own Cate growing up?
Yeah… I had quite a FEW Cates! Most of which never amounted to much. I was really shy in high school when it came to girls. If I was lucky, the girl I liked pursued me; but more times than not I didn’t have the courage to make the first move! I used to write songs and poems for the girls I liked, and a couple times actually recited them. When I think about Math’s crush on Cate, I take elements of all of those traumatic “experiences” I had growing up and use them as needed… it’s also pretty easy to have a crush on Shiri Appleby!
I really enjoyed the episode with the “Turtle Races” — how did you guys have to shoot that? Did you have to work around the turtles and catch a shot every time they moved?
Allan Arkush directed that episode and did a “Turtle Screen-Test” with the animal wrangler before we ever started shooting. The fastest one was cast as “Bolt”- Math’s undefeated 3-legged turtle; who is actually a tortoise. The secret to make them go was just a matter of warming them up and tickling their tails. When we wanted them to stay in place, the wrangler would cool them down, so they’d hide in their shells. They were pretty easy to work with, but it was a little intimidating at first. The owner said that they may bite and that their shells may crack if we drop them. After a couple of takes, though, Bolt and I were like 2 peas in a pod. Now, he’s gonna be the Best Man at my wedding!
I also really love seeing your interaction with Kristoffer Polaha and Reggie Austin on the show, have there been any funny moments off set that you can tell us about?
Most of those moments were ON set, we just had so much fun working together that we were constantly being told to “reign it in”. The show is after all a drama, but somehow, with us … it always came down to farting! Since we were all in a foreign city together, away from our loved ones, all we had was each other. So we bonded; we drank beers together, we went to movies together, we ate oysters together, we drank beers together! What you see on-screen is a real chemistry, friendship and mutual respect. It’s really difficult to fake that.
While there are very funny moments on the show, it’s also a serious drama about these two people reuniting with the daughter they gave up. How do you find a balance between the comedic scenes and the reality of what’s going on in these characters lives? How do you find the balance to make it believable?
Well, they say “laughter is the best medicine” and I think that rings true when faced with dramatic circumstances like these. Just as in life – a little levity could relieve even the most tense of moments. And the writers, supervised by Liz Tigelaar, created a balance that injects a little humor just as a scene is getting too serious, while still maintaining and never sacrificing the dramatic truth of every character. It’s my favorite type of material. Because it’s most like life. Soap operas have no comedy at all, and sitcoms have too much. The best sitcoms occasionally have a poignant moment to bring the audience back to reality. The trick in executing this believability is in the actors commitment to the truth of every situation. I think you get the best comedy when the moments are based in reality. Gary Fleder, director/executive producer, set the motto for our show early on when he said he wanted to see “Less Lucy and more Tootsie” … we were all willing to lose a laugh in order to gain a moment, and ultimately hold an audience’s attention.
Is there anything you can share with about what to expect in upcoming episodes?
If you’ve been watching the drama between Cate, Baze, Ryan, and Lux keeps escalating with each new episode. In the final few episodes, we’ll see their relationships come to a head. Lux confronts Cate about giving her up for adoption and makes amends with Bug; Ryan decides if he wants to make it work with Cate; Cate tries to balance her life and maintain her sanity; Baze questions his relationship with Abby, makes strides on fulfilling his dad role by confronting his own dad, and finally comes to grips with his possible feelings for Cate – while Math & Jamie try their best to keep him in check. The big questions are: Will there be a wedding? Who will get married, if anyone? Who will be there and who won’t? Well… I guess you’ll all have to keep watching and see. But trust me – you won’t be disappointed!
Life Unexpected airs Mondays @ 9/8 c on The CW.*
photos: Personal Propaganda Photography /
*Photo by Jack Rowand – © 2009 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
We first introduced to you Thomas Fiss when he was a member of the powerpop boy band Varsity Fanclub, but in early 2009 Thomas broke away from the group to pursue a solo career. Thomas is now gearing up to release his EP and we have the scoop on his new sound and clothing line Adisson Apparel.
Hey Thomas, how are you?
Doing excellent, how about you?
Doing good, It’s been about a year since we last talked, right?
I know. [Laughs] Oh my goodness.
Wow, I mean … of course you know I’m just going to jump right in there and talk about all this with you leaving the group [Varsity FanClub]. It’s been pretty crazy. I actually spoke with Jayk, Drew, and new member TC recently, and Jayk mentioned that they had known it was a possibility you could leave the group. Was this something you had been going back and forth with or something you just one day decided wasn’t for you anymore?
Well um, yeah it was probably a couple months before … before I actually left there was just so much drama going on.
Not within the members, but just like outside of it. You know, when you’re on a level to where you’re almost there, almost made it everyone is trying to reach their hand into the cookie jar, you know. It just got to a point of where I couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t so much you know the members at all, but it was just something that … I don’t know. It got a bit crazy for me.
Wasn’t how you thought it would be?
Well we kind of reached a point to where we weren’t showing any progress for a couple months. I don’t know; I just felt like it wasn’t the right place for me.
Well, if you weren’t happy…
Yeah that’s the thing. I’ve always been one of those people where I gotta do what makes you happy and it was fun while it lasted, for sure. I got a lot out of it and we definitely worked hard for what we got.
Were you nervous about how the fans were going to react to it?
Yeah! It was … oh man that was honestly … definitely one of the hardest conversations I think I’ve ever had to do. Hopefully it will be the last time I ever have to have a conference like that. But yeah, we all just kind of sat down and talked it out. It was honestly like … you know they’re like family to me and it just had to be done. Just tie up loose knots with them and move on.
I know there are so who will say once they leave the group they’re all still close and keep in touch, but they don’t always. Do you still keep in touch with the guys?
Umm, we try – definitely try to, we haven’t really spoken in awhile. Drew and I usually chat a bit, but yea I don’t really talk to the other guys too much. I think it’s that we just have a lot on our plates right now.
So, then what have you been up to in the last few months?
I have been working on my tan, for one. [Laughs] I’ve been in the studio actually quite a bit; working on my new EP. Definitely going to be out before Christmas, we’re shooting for a date around Christmas actually. That is something that I’m just so happy about to be doing my own thing. This is a dream come true for me, to actually be playing music that I write. To do what I want and be in control of my life, it’s just been a blast so far.
Are you back in San Diego or LA? I know you always say San Diego is like your heart, that’s your home. So, are you going to stick around there or … ?
Oh, my heart will always belong to the beach of San Diego. But no I’m probably in LA more than I’m in San Diego. I try to get down here on the weekends; I’m actually down here right now for family stuff. I’ve been up in LA consistently past couple of months, for about five or six days out of the week.
Just working on your EP? You know tell me more about that.
Yeah, it’s definitely more of a pop rock vibe. I think everyone knows I was definitely born to have a guitar in my hands. [Laughs] It’s just something I love to do. I love playing the guitar, love playing piano … so the EP is basically based around songs that I’ve written in the past couple of years. Even from way, way long ago. I have a song on there that I wrote I think about six years ago. So, basically this first EP is going to be totally controlled by me. I definitely have a lot of help with it though; I’ve been doing a lot of production with Gabriel Lopez, who is a really great friend of mine and just a genius with pro tools and production. But yeah, I’m stoked on it.
Well this must be so much more personal for you. I mean if the songs or six or so years old like you said. Are you more nervous now to let the fans hear just you? Especially since it’s your music and with Varsity FanClub a lot of the music was just a studio thing or written for you? Since you’ve put more of yourself into this, are you at all worried about the reaction?
Umm, I don’t think so … I think with anything in life that you do; if you do it with your heart and if you do what makes you feel good I think it’s going to be the best outcome regardless. So far, I just put a song out a couple of days ago for Adisson actually, and that song I wrote … God I want to say like four or five years ago. Their reaction is that they love it, so I think as long as you put your heart into whatever you do the outcome is going to be great.
Speaking of Adisson [Apparel], why don’t you tell me more about that? I’ve been checking it out and the stuff looks pretty cool. I’ve heard from some that you own the line, and then from others that you’re just really involved with them. What’s the deal?
Oh yeah, totally. Adisson is a company that I’m in with a partner, Isaiah Vest, but we started that about two years ago and we run it completely. Anything from shipping to designs and marketing, it’s all us. It’s definitely … it’s a labor of love that’s for sure; it’s a lot of fun.
Well, it definitely looks like a very nice line of items.
You know we made it basically with teenage girls in mind. That is kind of my fanbase demographic, and we want to appeal to that. I just wanted to create designs that I would want a potential girlfriend to wear honestly. I got tired of seeing Abercrombie everywhere, and Hollister everywhere … I just got tired of that so I just wanted to kind of create my own thing for them to wear.
So you guys were just sitting around saying ‘oh I’m so tired of seeing girls wear the same old thing, I think we should do this’?
That’s honestly what it was [Laughs] as awkward as that sounds. But you know everything out there it’s cute, it’s flirty. It’s nothing like crazy sexy, you know … it’s totally SoCal. So, I think everyone can really appreciate that.
Oh definitely. But you know getting back to the music; we heard some rumors that you’re actually working on something with Tennman Records [Justin Timberlake’s label]. Are those just rumors?
Yeah, we’ll say those are rumors for now. [Laughs]
Okay *hint hint*.
[Laughs] There’s so many things honestly that I’m working on. The crazy thing is the EP is just like the first step, like you said and I said it’s really just something for me. But beyond that starting at the top of the year I’m gonna be hitting hard recording a full length album; the roster of producers I have is just ridiculous. It’s going to be a really good year for music I think.
Well I’m excited. I’ll be honest when I found out you left the group I was a bit bummed about it, but the fact that you’re still doing music and putting your own stuff out there I excited to hear it.
Thanks! Yeah it was crazy when I left, there were so many rumors floating around about what I was up to. I think a lot of people thought I just kind of dipped out and called it a day.
Yeah that’s how it looked. It seemed like you just left the group because your heart wasn’t in it, and you were just going back home. Everyone is going ‘Wait, what? No!’.
[Laughs] Yeah no, oh no way I couldn’t do that.
So, I know you’ve also worked on a music video last year and you write and produce for others. Is it easier to do it for yourself or other artists?
Oh man that is a great question; umm, it’s kind of a little bit of both. When you write for someone else, for me anyway I always try to put my best foot forward with anything. So, when I write for someone else and it turns out to be a great song, right when I’m done I always think ‘Oh crap, I wish I would have kept this for me’. But if it turns out that it could be a hit for someone else that’s always a good thing also. Yeah I don’t know it’s crazy, definitely different … both sides of it are different.
You know it’s honestly been a pleasure to catch up with you because it’s been way too long. We definitely want to keep watching what you’re doing and letting everyone know.
Thank you so much for chatting and can’t wait to hear the new music.
Oh thank you honestly; you’ve been my first interview since I left. It’s been a lot of fun.
Really? Well, I’m glad we could get your side of what happened and now everyone doesn’t think it was some conspiracy that you left.
No so many rumors float around. But honestly it’s kind of funny to see that happen for awhile, like to see what people can come up with … whatever it’s all good now.
Jared, Wesley, Asher, Nathaniel, and Nicky T. of V Factory checked back in with FV to talk about their new album and answer your questions (some pretty hilarious)! Asher also filled us in a bit about his brand new movie, FAME, which hits theaters September 25th.
WATCH our interview with V Factory below, and keep a look out for photos in the gallery.
photography: Chanelle Justice ©FANVASION
When news broke in April 2009 that NLT had officially split up, it wasn’t too long after we heard about the departure of members from Menudo — but no more than a month later fans worries were put at ease when Johnny Wright launched the new band ONE CALL featuring former Menudo members José Bordonada Collazo and Christopher Moy, along with Justin Thorne of NLT and newcomer Anthony ‘AG’ Gamlieli.
One Call has all the elements you love in a music group – great voices, smooth dance moves, catchy songs, and four heartthrob worthy boys. We caught up with Justin, Jose B., Chris, and AG on the day of their first live show at the NJ QuickChek Festival of Ballooning where they blew us away on stage! Psst: We think their song “Turn It Up” has radio hit potential.
WATCH our interview with One Call below, keep a look out for photos in the gallery.
photography: Chanelle Justice ©FANVASION
We were the first magazine to interview the LA based Varsity FanClub and we caught up with them again this summer to talk about what they’ve been up to since our last chat, their new music, and the fresh face to the ‘Club’ — T.C. Carter. Sadly, Thomas Fiss left the group in June 2009. Check out our conversation with Jayk Purdy, Drew Ryan Scott, and T.C. — we think you’ll kinda love it.
Hey guys! How have you been?
Jayk: Hey! Uh, it’s been fun … a little bit of a roller coaster ride as of late, just because Tom left and T.C. replaced him. So, it’s been a nice little rollercoaster ride for the past couple of weeks.
Yeah, it’s been a minute since we’ve gotten to catch up!
Jayk: It’s been a long time.
Well, what’s been going on this last year for you?
Jayk: Go for it, Drew!
Drew: No, I thought I’d let you take this one.
Jayk: No, no it’s you.
Drew: Well, we recorded a brand new album … we’ve done some shows. You can visit Cinsay.com, and search Varsity FanClub you can check out some of the latest stuff on us. It’s a new website, and they have patents on internet technology that no other website has; like you can click on videos of us, and then buy what we’re wearing. So, it’s kind of cool … we launched our merchandise, finally. We’re working our tour coming up here in a couple months, actually less than a couple months. Just recording the new album, because the first album … we just scrapped the entire first album. So, we’re doing an entire new album.
Oh yeah? I was going to ask you, with the departure of Thomas [Fiss] if you would be going back in to re-record.
Jayk: No, it’s not so much about Thomas it’s just we were re-recording a lot of the new songs. Just because a lot of the songs had been leaked, we left Capitol and we couldn’t take those songs with us. It has nothing to do with Tom, we’re actually going to leave a few of those songs the he sings in up on our MySpace page. So, it has nothing to do with Tom and the recording process.
Well, the whole thing with Thomas leaving was that as sudden for you guys as it was for all of the fans?
Jayk: No, Tom kind of always tried his … it wasn’t his true calling, you know being in this type of band. He’s always loved to play guitar, he’s very chill, from San Diego; so he kind of has that laid back personality. This kind of experience is a little … a little … crazy I guess. He wasn’t expecting it to be so, so nutty.
So, you guys kind of saw it as inevitable … that it was going to happen?
Drew: Yeah, we saw it coming for a minute there.
Jayk: Lately it had kind of been more apparent and stuff, and we were trying to kind of brace ourselves for what was about to happen; and it did. It’s all good; we’re all on really good terms. Everyone’s got to do what they’ve got to do so…
Drew: Yeah, and he moved out and gave me his refrigerator.
Jayk: So, that’s always a positive … a refrigerator. He left him his fridge. [Laughs] But, no honestly he had to make a choice you know, and I’m glad he was honest about it so we could all move forth.
So, T.C. you’re new to the club, what was it like for you coming into this group that had already been established for over a year with a pretty dedicated fan-base?
T.C.: I’m actually … it’s great right now. It was a little weird at first because I was thinking that I had to live up to what they [the fans] knew as Varsity FanClub. I had to step into an already established band, but I think after my
first performance the other night the fans are a little more adjusted to Thomas not being there and seeing a new face. It’s good right now; I have a couple more dances to learn and get down but I think then I’ll be set. [Laughs]
Jayk: It also really helped that we’ve been hanging out for a few months now. So, it wasn’t like that awkward ‘we’re getting a new member, we have to go audition this person’ – it wasn’t anything like that. It was honestly like T.C. was our little angel that came out of nowhere, he did great.
Yeah, how did you guys actually meet?
Jayk: A friend of ours, mutual friend his name is Ben, we were actually playing basketball at the house one day and we needed an extra guy so he brought T.C.. Then we all clicked really well, started playing basketball every couple days a week and T.C. was there, we then found out that he danced and that he sang. It was kind of just … I don’t know, honestly all of us kind of had a feeling that he was … something was going to happen, I don’t know. Wither he joined the band or we just all kind of had a feeling that he was going to do something with us.
All the pieces just kind of fell into place.
Jayk: Yeah. [Laughs]
Now T.C. how long have you been singing and dancing?
T.C.: I’ve been singing and dancing for about eight or nine years now. I started when I was in fourth grade, and I’m almost in eleventh now. So yeah, I’ve been doing that a long time and I use to be a real theatre geek, I was in a lot of theatre productions and stuff like that. I started off dancing, I use to be in dance competitions and then I got into singing and acting. I moved out here for everything, but more of acting, and then I got into dance lessons out here more. Because I didn’t have a … I use to go to dance every day of the week basically in Georgia, where I’m from. So yeah, I’ve been doing this sort of thing for awhile now and it’s great to finally turn it into a business sort of thing, to do what I love to do as a career.
Ever thing you would end up in a “boy band”?
T.C.: I didn’t actually. [Laughs] I grew up listening to like ‘N Sync and stuff, I remember them. It’s crazy, at first when I found out I was going to be in Varsity and stuff it didn’t seem real at first. It seemed like a dream, and now it’s awesome; I’m loving every minute of it.
You said the show you did the other night was your first show? What was your favorite song to perform?
T.C.: Um, I think…
Jayk: ”Looking for Love”.
T.C.: Yeah. [Laughs] That was my favorite.
What about you guys? Drew, Jayk … after the shows you’ve been doing and with that live fan interaction what song is just the best to perform?
Jayk: Well, we re-vamped the “Love In the Club” song, so we have a few surprises in it where we … the whole day we all go buy a disposable camera. One of those cheap little three dollar disposable cameras, and we take pictures the whole day leading up to the show. Then there’s a part in the second verse where it says ‘Let me take your picture’, and the music stops … we pick up these disposable cameras with one picture left. We take a picture of ourselves on stage and throw it out to fans and whoever catches it gets to see what we did throughout that whole day when they go to develop them. So, it’s a cool like little surprise.
That is quite possibly the coolest thing someone has ever told me about during a show.
Drew: Really? That’s awesome.
Jayk: I mean we want to include fans on everything and we want them to see what we go through leading up, what we do, our little routines …little rituals. Now they can see it, whoever caT.C.hes the camera – the lucky camera.
So that’s one of your rituals, how about anything else? Is there maybe like a Varsity chant before you hit the stage?
Drew: We go ‘Varsity…Varsity…whoo’. [Laughs] No we wouldn’t do that, but we have this thing where we all do peace signs and we make like a big star with each other’s fingers. Then we all say a quote, using other people’s voice and say ‘1..2..3..VFC’ – and that’s that.
Now the last time we spoke with you guys you were just Varsity, since then you’ve added the FanClub. I’m sure you’ve answered the question a lot – but for those who don’t know, like myself, can you tell us why the name change?
Jayk: Well there was a band in Tennessee called ‘The Varsities’, so Capitol just decided to change it just because we didn’t want the confusion with that band and us. Plus, when you Google it the word ‘varsity’, like varsity cheerleading comes up; like so many things, you had to type in ‘varsity boy band’. So, we added the FanClub to make it easier for people to search us.
Yeah, I remember your MySpace url was ‘varsityfanclub’, right?
Jayk: Yeah, yeah our publicist saw it and was like ‘Well why not just that?’. We hated it at first to be honest, we hated it, but now it’s kind of cool now.
Drew: We did our first interview with it, and we go ‘Hi we’re Varsity [whispers] FanClub’. We like whispered it, it was funny. [Laughs]
Jayk: We hated it. But we’re cool with it, we love it now. It doesn’t make sense at all but whatever. [Laughs]
I know you are all multi-talented, so in addition to performing you also write music, especially you Drew. Have you been writing any songs you’ll be releasing, the fans don’t know about yet that you can tell u?
Jayk: Tons, go for it Drew.
T.C.: Yeah, go ahead.
Drew: Yes, there’s a lot of songs actually. There’s a bunch of cool new songs and we’re keeping obviously like the Pop sound, but we’re trying to make it a little more fun, little clubby so you can dance a lot more.
Jayk: The record pretty much could be done in a week to be honest.
So, did you guys write or co-write any?
Drew: Yeah, yeah … honestly all of them.
Jayk: We’re going to be trying to get in the studio again with RedOne, who obviously did Lady Gaga and he did our “Zero”.
Will you guys be doing any new shows soon, maybe on the east coast?
Drew: Yes, and we will definitely be on the east coast. We’re setting up everything right now; we’re also doing the called ‘Band House’ where you can watch us 24-7 on camera – cinsay.com/varsityfanclub. That’s what we were focusing on, then we had the member change, trying to get the tour set … kind of changed everything on timing but it’s all good.
Jayk: We also have a new photo shoot to get done, re-decorating the whole MySpace so make sure you check that it’s going to be pretty sweet.
Drew: We have to teach T.C. everything we already know plus all the new stuff.
Jayk: Our stage show is gonna be nuts.
T.C.: There’s finally a song that I get to teach you guys. [Laughs]
Jayk: He’s teaching us an intro dance that we’re doing. It’s gonna be pretty crazy.
Any idea what the next single is going to be?
Drew: Actually no, it was going to be “Zero” but that’s not it anymore because we’re doing all new stuff so we haven’t decided yet.
Jayk: Yeah, Capitol own the rights to “Zero” and we put it on the radio and it was actually like top 10 on satellite radio but then they had to take it down. It’s all good though, all good we have to thin positive.
So, the whole album is new then?
Jayk: Everything is new.
Well, that’s still exciting all new music.
Jayk: We like to call it … it’s gonna be our second first album.
Drew: Yeah we’ll call it Varsity FanClub 1.2.
Well, it was great talking with you guys again and hopefully we’ll see you soon.
Drew: Great talking to you too.
Jayk: Okay cool.
What do you get when you mix a little pop, some R&B, and fresh melodies? West coast boy band, SKYLINE! Vartan Antonyan, Ryan Bradley, Erick Uphoff, Crespatrick De Los Reyes, and Shad Sager make up this cool group from Cali who have been hitting the LA scene this year and working on their debut album.
We caught up with the guys this summer as they dished about their musical inspirations, opening for Colby O’Donis, their first single “Not The Only One”, and much more.
Hey, well first off how are you all doing?
We’re doing great!
Why don’t you guys start off by telling me a bit about yourselves and how you got together as a group.
Vartan: I have basically been in the audition circuit for awhile, always auditioning for a lot of groups. I was just never making it to that final round, you know. So, I put some ads up wanting to see who was around and some cat from Chicago writes to me, who happens to be Ryan, and he’s like ‘I’m coming down to town this weekend. I definitely want to meet up with you and see what’s going on’. We met and there was a great vibe became friends automatically and three months later he ended up moving to LA. Through friends we met Crespatrick and Erick, and we got together at like the Cheesecake Factory, had dinner – which was really cool. Then I was driving down Hollywood Blvd. thinking we need a fifth guy, somebody with just an amazing voice and I see Shad just walking down the street. I kind of knew him because we had done musical theatre together back in high school.
So, I roll my window down … mind you it’s a car window, not a roll down window. [Laughs] Then I yell out ‘Shad what’s going on it’s V. You want to be in a group?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah’. The next day we met up and it was just kind of like history.
Well, that’s good how it all worked out then, pieces just falling together perfectly.
Why the name Skyline? Who came up with it?
Ryan: What’s kind of funny is we all actually had a list of just different random names we were coming up with that could possibly be for the group. Ironically, Skyline just happened to be the only one that myself and C had both actually had without speaking prior to that. So, we kind of thought about that we’re like … ‘Skyline, hmm’. We all liked the name, figured you know what could that mean, so we put the meaning behind the name, and to us it just means the top. You know, ‘the top’, because when you look up you can’t see anything above the skyline. That’s the furthest point that you can reach or obtain, so to us that just means being superior, being on the top and that’s exactly where we believe that we’re headed … straight to the top.
Shad: To add to that it also worked out really interesting that we’re all from a different and unique skyline ourselves, in our hometowns and stuff.
Oh really, so you’re all from different places?
Shad: I’m from Seattle.
Erick: I’m originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Vartan: Born and raised in LA baby!
Ryan: As Vartan said earlier, I’m from Chicago.
Crespatrick: And I am from Washington, D.C.
You guys really are from all over.
Ryan: Oh yeah, everywhere. [Laughs]
Who would you say are some of your musical influences … either individually or as a group?
Crespatrick: Well, we have a lot of inspirations; it ranges from a lot of groups like Boyz II Men and Michael Jackson .. ‘N Sync. We even go back to further groups like Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Dion & The Belmonts; a lot of classic groups with a lot of harmony, old school harmonies – a lot of that. That’s where we get inspiration from.
Frankie Valli and the Four Season, that’s good. I grew up listening them, Michael Jackson, The Temptations too. But, Frankie Valli that’s pretty random, I don’t think I remember anyone mentioning them before.
All: [Laugh] Yeah!
Crespatrick: Well, I love Frankie Valli.
How would you describe the Skyline sound?
Erick: Our sound is pretty unique actually. We kind of add little flavors, because there are five of us and we each have a different background vocally. So, when we come together our sound doesn’t really fit into like Pop, R&B or anything like that. It’s kind of a melting pot of all these different sounds. We have a little bit of Rock, little of Pop, little Hip Hop, R&B … just kind of all put together. Even some musical theatre, so it’s kind of tough to put us in a label. We just like to make good music, it doesn’t really matter what our style is.
You know you bring up a good point, the melting pot I think goes for all music out right now. You can’t really classify anyone into one genre these days. But also, you’ve mentioned you get inspiration from groups like Boyz II Men. So, how do you feel about the term boy band?
Erick: I think ‘boy band’, is a term loosely used to generalize the ‘N Sync’s and Backstreet Boys that came out in 2000 era when Pop music really kind of made a huge stand. You know you had Britney Spears and all these people that were kind of in the limelight with this Pop music sound. I think ‘boy band’ was definitely something they did, I mean there were other boy bands like Boyz II Men and even The Beatles, before that The Monkees … just boys that got together. But, we kind of … I mean we kind of like the term ‘boy band’, we respect it; at the same time we’re more than that because we’re a group. We’re not just boys, we’re men – we can cross all genres and age groups. A lot of people think boy bands are … they put them in a pocket and say ‘okay, this is a boy band’, but we’re more than that.
I think, it’s cool we pay homage to it, but we’re definitely a little deeper than ‘boy band’.
Well you mention Backstreet Boys and Boyz II Men, when they both came out they were well into their twenties … essentially a ‘man band’. Even ‘N Sync, most of them were older than the ‘boy bands’ that are out now. Plus, I’ve always looked at Backstreet Boys as more R&B then Pop music.
Vartan: Right. To me the ‘boy band’ thing is definitely a legendary term; it just signifies pandemonium and phenomenon to me, because every ‘boy band’ that has come out has influenced music so much. But, Skyline is different because we try not to get put into the pocket of bubblegum or really nailed down to one demographic. Where we will all share the same influences, like we love and respect Boyz II Men, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Frankie Valli … we do all come from separate vocal, dance, and just lifestyles. Different backgrounds that when we come together it kind of transcends that pocketing of a specific genre of music that is demographically for one sort of person. We feel like our music can reach out to so many more.
So, while you are a band of boys, you just feel you basically have a bit more of your own flavor?
Shad: Yeah, we’re really a group of guys with different talents and flavors. We have a member that can rap and if you listen to how we sing and what we put into it, it is different than what you would consider to be a typical ‘boy band’.
But, you aren’t offended by the term then?
Shad: Not at all.
All: No, no.
Vartan: To be even categorized and compared to ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys and even The Beatles … it’s amazing to us. Because they moved so many people with their music, touched so many lives and at the end of the day that’s what is important to us. Now that we have gained a little bit of success and we see our music touching people’s lives, people can call us whatever they want … we know what we’re doing is right and true to our hearts. So, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
Okay, well you just recently opened up for songster Colby O’Donis. What was that like for you?
Ryan: That was actually I’d say a mind blowing experience for all of us. We all loved being on stage, we had a lot of people that came out to support us in our first full actual concert that we did. We were all a little nervous just like everyone usually is, just like you should be before you go on for a big show. If you’re not nervous you’re doing something wrong. [Laughs] That’s what we always say, our manager tells us that and we definitely agree with that. But the show itself was definitely incredible. I think the biggest thing we take away from what we do is just the effect we have on all our fans. Just looking at all their faces, seeing how we touched their lives … it’s an amazing feeling for us. It makes us love to get up every day and do what we do; we’re so blessed to be able to do this.
That’s what it’s all about. Did you get to meet or hang out with Colby?
Erick: Yeah, we got to meet him afterwards and watch him perform. He’s an amazingly talented cat so; even to just share the stage with him was a true honor. He’s very cool, very nice to us and really impressed with what we did too. So, it was very cool to join him – just a night of celebration for all of us.
It would be cool to see maybe a little duet between you guys. I could see that, and he is just crazy on that guitar.
Erick: For sure.
Vartan: We’ll see what happens. You never know!
Your first single is “Not the Only One”, currently on iTunes; can you tell us the story behind the track?
Crespatrick: The song is a heartbreak song, definitely something a lot of people can relate to. Pretty much everyone goes through heartbreaking hard times in different relationships in their lives. It’s something in the song that we realize everyone does go through, because you see it on a daily basis. Some of the tag lines on there … ‘we’re not special, ‘cause we’re not the only ones that go through this’. It’s kind of like a sad realization in the end that we’re not the only ones that go through this. It was a song given to us by one of my best friends who’s an amazing writer and we just really connected with it. We just put our heart and soul into it.
Well, it sounds really good. I like it.
Vartan: Have you bought it on iTunes yet? [Laughs] If not, you need to go get it.
It’s definitely like a different first single, not a very uppity Pop kind of sound. I like it.
Vartan: We do have a lot of upbeat stuff, but we’re really proud of that song because we really put our hearts and souls into it. We don’t put anything out until we feel like Skyline is on that song, we don’t just take it and are like ‘okay, here it is’. We lived with that song for six months, helped arrange it, pick out the parts … it’s just a beautiful process. That song just means so much to us, and we’re very proud that we can actually sing on that record. You know you think ‘boy band’ and you typically think first record ‘auto tune’ and really crappy dancing. But we just wanted to come out and show people that we can sing and we have talent.
Erick: The other cool thing about “Not the Only One” that a lot of people may not know, it was originally written as an a cappella song. Five part a cappella harmony, and then we took it to and amazingly talented producer, Wes Quave, who’s also a friend of ours. He took what we had done a cappella and then kind of produced it and made it into the track that you can now buy on iTunes. So, it really does have all five of our voices, and five part harmony even singing background vocals that aren’t even words … do’s and da’s, that kind of fill out the song along with the instrumentation. Kind of a cool new wave thing that not many people are doing.
Crespatrick: Another thing about that song, the influences like Frankie Valli and Dion & The Belmonts, which is those straight ooh’s and ahh’s in the background as well as the front man singing and then switch it up. So, you can kind of see that influence on that song. My friend, he shares a lot of the same influences that we do. So, it was great to work with him.
Ryan: We love the song; the song for us I must say is a great first impression, because that’s really what it’s all about. You know when you step on to the scene, you’re up and coming, you’re new, you’re fresh out there. It’s all about your first impression, that’s what people take from you, and that’s what is going to live with you for the rest of your career. So, we really didn’t want to be that group that comes out and falls into just that ‘boy band’ category, we want people to know that when we come onto the scene we’re bringing realness to the industry, bringing realness in our music. All of our music is totally relatable; we want people to be able to relate to it. Anything they’re struggling with or going through, we want them to be able to turn on our music to help them overcome whatever it may be. That’s what we really wanted to do with our first impression, just let people know that we’re definitely real about what we do.
Are you guys working on a full album right now?
Vartan: We recorded four or five songs so far, and every song in the 30 minute set that we perform is different. They all have a different vibe. One is beautiful ballad with piano and violin, there’s one amazingly up-tempo/club banger, and one that kind of has an a cappella feel to it. So, we just try to make sure everything is diverse because we don’t want to ever make music that’s going to sound like one song is the whole album, and you’ve kind of rewind through it.
Yeah, that album where you can play it straight through without skipping any tracks.
Vartan: Yes, because we are so diverse and in what we love so we want to represent from every angle. Of course it’s going to fall under one umbrella, but we want that to branch out and have different spices and different flavors from all forms of music.
Erick: Right now, we’re just trying to make as much good music as possible. We’re not necessarily working towards building an album; we’re just working to continue to make good music. Eventually if an album comes out of that right now that’s great, but that’s not our main focus. Our main focus is to get our name out there and start performing, just get a following … get the word out.
We heard you were recently chosen to be in the Cricket Wireless commercial ad. How did that come about and when will we get to see it?
Erick: We shot it maybe a couple of months ago; it’s apparently airing some places already. It’s kind of spotty, it’s not a national commercial … it’s a regional one. But, it’s going to play in different cities around the country, wherever Cricket Wireless is mainly distributed. It was a blast to work on that project. I was with this dance agent, and they approached me with ‘Hey you’re in this boy band, could we represent them commercially’. They had this audition, and it was our first time auditioning for anything – we went out and put together our version of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”. That was the Cricket Wireless campaign … ‘respect’, and that was something we were all very in tune with as well. We put together our own a cappella version of that with some dance moves, took it to the first audition and ended up booking it and the rest is history. It was just an awesome experience to be on set, with a bunch of other talented musicians there as well. I’m not really sure how long the campaign is going to run, but I think you can definitely find it somewhere online.
Do you guys have any shows coming up soon? Maybe headed over to the east coast?
Shad: Um, we aren’t making it out to the east coast just yet, but we do have a show coming up on the 13th [June] at the Key Club. It’s more of a intimate setting, not so much dancing; more of us just singing our songs and just trying to really get feedback from the crowd.
Before we go what would you like the readers of Fanvasion to know about Skyline?
Vartan: I would say the most important thing about Skyline is … we might be a ‘boy band’, but I feel like we are so different in how we’ve even been assembled that I feel like it puts us in a different category. Because we weren’t put together by a big time manager or like a big time producer; we’re all friends, we put this together ourselves. We began building our empire by just being together, building chemistry and connection; then we found amazing people like our manager and all the songwriters and producers who joined our team. It’s been a blessing and I feel like … you know, you see people like Danity Kane break up and people question their bond and their genuineness. But with us I really consider these four guys my brothers, we like to hang out together, do everything together and I feel like beyond the songs and talent that’s the key to success and longevity … is really liking each other. [Laughs]
Erick: Just to add to what V is saying, we wear these Skyline dog tags around our necks with our names on them to kind of symbolize our bond together and our fight that we’re going to take on everything as a group. This is kind of our journey, but we want everyone to know this is real. That it’s a 100% genuine and that we love so much what we do.
So, you guys move as a unit … a family.
Crespatrick: Of course.
Well, it’s a blast to talk with you guys tonight.
Vartan: Oh, you’re amazing.
Ryan: Thank you! Take care.
Crespatrick: We appreciate it very much.