Catching Up With Chasing Soul
I have to say that in the five years that I’ve had Finding the B-Side, there have been several times when I’ve wondered if anyone out there is reading or really interested in the music I love. But, it seems that just when those thoughts are tempting enough for me to stop writing, someone comes along and reminds me of why I created all of this in the first place. The person who most inspired me to keep going is someone who didn’t even realize it. Her name is Leticia Thomas and several years ago, she became one of my first (virtual) music buddies. Though we are hundreds of miles apart (she’s in Maryland and I’m in Florida), the more I read her blog, ChasingSoul.com, the shorter the distance feels. She’s an active supporter of indie music and says “it’s not a competition; it’s more of a community.” Today I’m happy to share our fun chat, which felt more like a conversation among friends than an interview. We talked about the inspiration behind her ChasingSoul blog, her new clothing brand, The Musichead Collection (which is so nice that I had to purchase a t-shirt), and her favorite music.
Mimi: So, how did you get the idea to start ChasingSoul.com?
Leticia: Wow, you know it was really just for me. I remember being at a concert, a Janelle Monae concert actually, and I had this pet peeve because all these people were on their phones and nobody was really experiencing the show. So, I jokingly told my girlfriend “I’m going to start a blog and post my opinions about music.” I had no idea what a blog was. (laughing)
Leticia: I’ve been a music fan since my early years and I thought I knew a lot about music but as I started to get out more in the DC area, I realized I didn’t really know as much as I thought I did. Then I was like “Well, if I don’t know, and I think I’m a musichead, there are probably tons of people out there who don’t know about these great indie artists that are right in my backyard.” They’re not on tv or on the radio but they have some outstanding talent. So, that’s the reason I named it Chasing Soul. It literally is about me chasing soul; trying to find the music that isn’t prevalent on the radio, tv, or in the media. Once I started blogging, it just opened my world and it connected me to music that I was missing and it connected me to other music lovers. So, it was probably one of the best things I did — it started a whole new journey for me.
Mimi: How would you describe the target audience for your blog?
Leticia: It’s for people who want to find good music. So, it could be someone who thinks they know like I thought I did (laughing) or it could be someone who’s seeking out music trying to find out who’s got next.
Mimi: How do you respond to people who say indie music is cool, but the good music is on the radio? How do you think indie music will look in the years ahead?
Leticia: I would probably give them a major side-eye. I won’t say that all music on the radio is bad, however, there is a lot of great music that doesn’t get airplay and that is unfortunate. In terms of the business, more and more artists are taking the independent route in order to gain creative and financial control of their careers and I think the shift will continue. I can’t say for sure what the indie movement will look like in the years to come but I hope that it will inspire change.
Mimi: I’m sure you get lots of artist submissions for features. If you could give one piece of advice to indie artists who are trying to get their name out there and get into venues, what would you tell them?
Leticia: One piece of advice I would offer emerging artists is to have an integrated strategic plan. Most artists have a plan for the creative process but it is important that they also have a plan to market their project. I know its cliché — but it’s a business. So, if an artist takes a lot of time to create something wonderful and doesn’t finish the process in terms of marketing, it’s a missed opportunity.
Mimi: Speaking of opportunities and branding, I think this is a good segue to talk about your company, The Musichead Collection. Tell us more about how you got the idea and how you created it.
Leticia: I love going to concerts and I would often purchase t-shirts but I noticed that some of them were not the best quality. I have a stack of t-shirts in my closet that I bought from concerts but don’t wear. So, I was thinking “wouldn’t it be great to have music-themed t-shirts that are of good quality?” I started searching online and couldn’t find what I wanted and that’s when I was inspired to create The Musichead Collection. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to develop the brand but over time I began to connect to the right people that would help me bring my vision to life. I’m really passionate about this brand and each shirt I design reflects the love I have for music. If you are a passionate music lover like I am, then you will appreciate the bold designs and the premium quality of The Musichead Collection.
Mimi: I’m excited for you and I’ll tell anyone that I’m a musichead so when I saw the name of your brand, I was sold. (laughing)
Leticia: (laughing) It took me a while to decide on the company name but the term ‘Musichead’ seemed to reflect the target customer so I kept it.
Mimi: Ok, let’s do a play on the words chasing and soul. I’ll say a phrase that uses one of those two words and you say the first thing that comes to mind.
Mimi: Someone you would chase down to say hello (assuming the person would be nice to you) (laughing)
Leticia: Oooh, I did that with Patti LaBelle. I wasn’t successful but I would do it again (laughing)
Mimi: The artist you think is the epitome of soul music. I know it’s hard.
Leticia: Oh, that’s hard! Can I do one male and one female? Can it be anyone?
Mimi: Sure, give us one of each, living or not
Leticia: Ok, the male would be Luther Vandross and female would be…this is so hard. So many names are coming to mind but I will say Rachelle Ferrell would be my female choice.
Mimi: Oh, you can definitely get credit for her. To hear her sing I Can Explain is amazing.
Leticia: Yes! To see her live is an experience!
Mimi: Ok, next one–a tool that has been most helpful as you chase your dream
Leticia: Twitter. Hands down.
Mimi: A soul artist that you can watch live over and over again.
Leticia: Oh…just one? I’d say the one I’ve seen the most is Rachelle Ferrell and then Raheem DeVaughn.
Mimi: Ok, if you had to part with all of your music except for three albums, which three would you have to keep?
Leticia: Oh my goodness! You’re trying to give me a heart attack! (laughing)
Leticia: I’d definitely say Anita Baker – Rapture. Michael Jackson – Off the Wall. Hmmm, the third I can’t live without is…Luther Vandross – Live at Radio City.
Mimi: So, which artists should we be looking out for now?
Leticia: Here are a few: Liv Warfield, Dora Martin, and Esnavi.
Mimi: I like Esnavi too! Beautiful is He is my favorite from her.
Leticia: I also love DivaGeek, Jonathan McReynolds, and a group called Livre. I’m also keeping up with KING, Daley, Alex Isley, and Jarrod Lawson.
Mimi: Since this is Finding the B-Side, I have to ask if you can give us a really good b-side song.
Leticia: Ok, I’ll give you one from Rachelle Ferrell. It’s called “Gaia”. I love that one and I don’t think a lot of people know it. Another one is Lalah Hathaway’s “Tragic Inevitability”. It’s one that I always hope she’ll sing but she rarely does.
Mimi: So, how can we keep up with you?
Leticia: Twitter is probably the best. I’m always on there. If it’s regarding The Musichead Collection, be sure to visit the website and sign up for the mailing list.
Thanks for a fun chat, Leticia!