Monday, September 8, 2014

Interview || Faren Rachels

Happy Monday! 
I am so excited to introduce y'all to a very special lady today on Southern Samplings. I LOVE country music and I love introducing people to new artists. I've been very fortunate to connect with some incredibly talented people over the past year and Faren Rachels is one of those people. I first heard of Faren through a song writer I was following named Cole Taylor. I started following along and getting to know her and I was able to hear some of her music earlier in July. Y'all--you know the struggle of finding talented, country FEMALE artists that as girls we can relate to but that is exactly who Faren is. Her songs have been part of my go to female artist playlist since she was sweet enough to share them with me. Faren has an EP that is coming out tonight at midnight on I-Tunes. Although we all know how I-Tunes releases new music early so if you're up late enough tonight, you'll be able to download it then. 
Faren was so kind to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me. I strongly suggest you download this EP tonight. After getting to know a little more about her, I am sure you will feel the same way!

1. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me! I know that you are from Georgia, but can you give us a little more background information? When did you first know music was what you wanted to pursue as a career? What made you decide that you wanted to move in Nashville, and when did you move?

"Thank YOU for taking the time to include me in your blog! I am from a little town in Georgia called Sparta. I graduated from high school with twelve people and had to drive 30 minutes to get to the closest Walmart, haha! I grew up singing  in church, at local events, and on my "at-home" karaoke machine. :)  
I have wanted to be a country music artist for as long as I can remember but my mom REALLY wanted me to be the first person in my family to get a college degree and pursue a “real job,"  ha! So, I went to the University of Georgia where I continued to sing but mainly focused on school. I moved to Atlanta and got that “real job” for a a little while, but I was pretty miserable. 
My husband and his family were the ones who encouraged me to make the move to Nashville. My father in law loves music and played in bands his whole life but never got to do it professionally. One day in May of 2012, he told me I did not want to get to be his age and look back and regret not going after what I have really always wanted. After that conversation, my husband and I prayed about it and made the move (without either of us having real jobs up here, ha!). It was pretty scary, but eventually everything fell into place!"

2. Who were your musical inspirations growing up? 
"Mostly the awesome women of 90’s country music! Trisha Yearwood, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack, Shania Twain and Patty Loveless. I could go on and on."

3.  If you could record a duet or collaboration with any artist, who would you choose and why?
 "Any of the women I grew up listening to would be a huge honor, but if I had to pick just one, I would probably say Trisha Yearwood. Her voice is simply perfection to me. (However, I’d probably wet my pants when she walked into the room)."

4. What was the first song you ever wrote? 
"It was called “My Last Name,” and it was pretty awful… next question, ha."

5. What is your favorite song that you have ever written? 
"My favorite song I have ever written is called “We Got It Made." It is basically the story of our move to Nashville. We lived in a really crappy attic that had been converted into an apartment and we did not have a lot of money (well, we still do not, ha!). But I was finally in Nashville getting to pursue my dream.  I married the sweetest, most supportive man I know so I decided to write a song about how blessed I was— not with monetary things, but with the things that matter. To this day, it is one of my favorites because every single lyric was so real at the time. It did not make my EP, but it is on my Reverbnation page if you want to check it out."

6. I am so excited that you are releasing this EP because country music is heavily populated with male artists and it's nice to hear a woman's side of the stories. Do you think that there is a certain female "country" stereotype and if so, do you agree that it is fair that women are portrayed that way by the male artists? 
"I guess there is no denying that there is a certain female “country” stereotype right now if you listen to the radio but it does not really bother me. Maybe I just do not take life seriously enough to be offended by songs on the radio. I guess my opinion is if you do not like what you hear, do not listen :) What does bother me is the lack of new female country artists out there, though. I have heard so many talented girls in this town. It is crazy that there are so few of us actually getting heard. I am going to bust my tail to change that, though!"
7. Your EP comes out tonight at midnight. How many songs will be on the track list? Did you write all of the songs on it? 
"There are six songs on the EP and I wrote on all of them with some crazy talented friends of mine- Thomas Archer, Jordan Rager, Cole Taylor and Chancie Neal.  I am extremely proud of how all the songs turned out."
8. Which ones mean the most to you, and why?
"Gosh, it is really hard to say which ones mean the most--I love “Holding Down Sunshine,” because I have wanted to write a song like that for so long. You rarely get to hear the girls version of a party song and we like to party too, ya know! :) I love “Get On With It” just as much, though, because I know way too many girls who put up with way too much bull crap from losers! Honestly I could really talk about each song--they all mean something to me in a different way." 

 9. As a singer/songwriter, what part of the process of writing and then recording the songs is your favorite? 
 "I think the most exciting part of the songwriting process is when you get into the studio to record it and get to hear the song come to life. Todd Lombardo, who produced my EP, is one of the most talented people I have ever met. I was not blessed with the mind of a producer, so he blows me away with what he can bring to a song."

 10. If you were driving across the country and you could only bring one album, which one would you choose? 
"This is probably the hardest question I’ve ever been asked! There are so many albums I have been obsessed with that its hard to choose just one. Off the top of my head, one album that I know I could never get tired of is The Dixie Chicks’ first album. So good."

So, as y'all can tell, Faren Rachels is a superstar in the making. Each one of the songs on the EP are songs that come from a real place. I am so excited to be able to pay for some music from Faren now! It makes me so happy to see a female country artist singing such fun and meaningful songs. Make sure that you follow her on her social media sites below. And, of course, check out her website. Most importantly, BUY her EP when it is out tonight!! Thank you, again, Faren! This is only the beginning!! 
ITunes (This one may not work until Tuesday! :) )


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Interview: Chris Burkmenn

Happy Wednesday y'all! Today is a special treat with an interview with Chris Burkmenn. Chris is the founder and host of the Chris Burkmenn Experience. I connected with Chris earlier this year from twitter and I've had so much fun watching his endeavors over the past few months. Here's a little bit more information about the Chris Burkmenn Experience taken from his website and then make sure to get to know him a little better below.
The Chris Burkmenn Experience website features online webisodes, where the host, Chris Burkmenn, interviews musical artists. Along with the interviews, Chris adds inspirational messages to the website. The CBE is expanding online, and the brand is receiving national recognition and sponsorship. Taking it further into becoming a self-sustaining endeavor and business is the future hope of CBE.
The CBE mission is to treat others with the same level of respect and love that he or she would enjoy himself or herself. CBE aims to support talent that is often overlooked. The brand enjoys connecting with    passion-driven people and creating an encouraging environment. Our goal is to empower the artist.



 1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in the metro area of St. Louis. I had a passion
for music and that influence came from my father. He would blare music
in the car when I was a child. We would play Jesse's Girl by Rick
Springfield over and over again. We also really liked the song
"Everybody Wants to be a Cat" from the Aristocrats, Favorite memory.
My father was a big fan of Hall and Oates, and passed on that love to
me. I can also when I was a kid I enjoyed doing things most people
wouldn't have been interested in. I would pretend I was Carson Daly
hosting TRL. I would tape every episode of that show when I was a teen
and watch it when I got home from school.

2. How did you end up in Nashville?
I actually ended up in Nashville as a back up plan to Los Angeles. As
a kid/teenager I thought the road was going to lead me to LA. I had
such a passion for acting and all things entertainment. I wanted to be
on Nickelodeon's Kenan and Kel as well as All That more than anything.
When I approached my parents with the reality of me wanting to move to
Nashville, they expressed concern for me being so far away. My friend
moved to Nashville in 2007, and I visited her several times and felt
called to this city. At the time I wasn't 100% of why I needed to be
here, but just really believing God was leading me here.

3. Who/what is your biggest inspiration in life?
My biggest inspirations would be Jesus first and foremost. Since
moving here the Lord and I have truly grown in so many ways. It has
been a constant process of strengthening my faith and learning. My
church has played such a big part in who I am today as well.

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who
understands obtain guidance,
Proverbs 1:5

My Dad is also a huge inspiration he is one of the hardest working
people I have met in my life. He has taught me the true meaning in
diligence and never giving up, my father is a Warrior.

My boss in Aud CO Nashville, Suzzane Skinner(Mama Sue) is a mentor to
me. She has given me so much wisdom in the entertainment industry. I
have notebooks full of lessons she has taught me, and I believe that
is so important in growing and walking closer to your goals.

4. Where did you get the idea for the CBEX?
CBEX was actually my co workers idea at the Audience Company I work
for in Nashville. We worked for CMT Hot 20 Countdown at the time and
we casting audience, needing a higher attendance. We thought it would
be great to bring in a local performer to provide entertainment to the
audience during their lunch break on the show. We though about a
performance as well as an interview would be great. We tapped the
first 2 episodes with CMT Hot 20, and then continued without the show.

The show's direction changed and became more about empowering the
artist and giving them a format to showcase their talents as well as
learning about them. We had a completely new format and I felt there
was nothing like it on the web.

5. What is your favorite part of CBEX?
My favorite part of CBEX is learning about the artist just as much as
the viewers are. Since I have such a great interest in music I get
excited to learn about them. Learning about the process and the
challenges they are and still overcoming. I feel that many places
forget about the new artist and focus on these large artists, that
don't really need the exposure. We focus on empowering the new artist
and don't really look to the bigger artists, because they don't need
to be empowered (they already are.)

6. Who has been your favorite artist to interview and why?
This may sound like a very generic answer, but it is the truth. I have
enjoyed each artists in different ways. They are all my favorite
because I only interviews artists that I believe in. For me to
interview I am putting the stamp of approval over each of them. It
brings me such excitement when viewers connect with these artists for
the first time, and that's when I feel as though we are really doing
our job. Many of the artists on in the past and I have become good
friends, Jenn Bostic, Ainsley Britain, Evan Gibb, Carly Pearce,
Elizabeth Lyons, and Kamber Cain I talk to them very regularly.
Chris w/ Carly Pearce
Chris w/ 2Steel Girls

7. How do you get these artists on your show?
We actually use several venues, I have use PR firms, friends, and
artist requests. My favorite way has been social media, when fans tell
us who they want on the show. We have booked several of our new
episodes that way. It has been really cool to see our friends(viewers)
get more involved.

8. Does CBEX strictly focus on country artists or do you find up and coming
artists from all genres?
We actually interview all genres. I want to meet every artist that has
a message to share and has the talent to back it up. I have
interviewed a lot of Country artists because selfishly it is my
favorite genre, but we really do want EVERY genre to be on this show.
We are focused on being a mouthpiece for these artists.

9. What is one piece of advice you would give to young people who hope to
host their own show like CBEX one day?
My advice to someone wanting to start something new and possibly
uncharted waters, NEVER GIVE UP. Never allow anyone to tell you that
you are crazy because they are the crazy ones. It's tough and there
will be times that you want to quit, but never allow yourself to. One
of the quotes that I feel God gave me was:

"If you can remember why you started, then you will know why you must continue."

Also another thing I have learned is that as you moved forward with
you vision, things will change and even you will and that is ok. It's
a part of learning and growing.

10.  Do you have any secret talents?
Secret talents, well I'd say I am not the best at athletics, but my
secret talent is that I give my all in every sport and whatever I do.
My determination compensates what I lack in skill. I love being
active, and having a good time with my friends. I am active in serving
the youth at my church, and they keep me young.

11.  Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I hope that is a place where people go to find
out what is new and upcoming in music. Personally I hope to be a go to
host in Nashville in live events and other areas that I am passionate
about. I am a very goal oriented person and believe that doors will
continue to open for the team and I.

12. How are you able to continually provide quality episodes?
CBEX has such a great team in place they continually blow me away with
their amazing talents, Andy Burchett, Alison Goedde, Kourtney Roman,
Lauryn Blakkolb, and Diane Guy are very instrumental in what CBEX
Thank you SO much Chris for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me for a bit!! And, make sure y'all are following him on twitter: @chrisburkmenn