Ashlee Akins Uses Her Platform To Create Her Own Company, AA Dimensions

Ashlee Atkins is more than just a face on the OWN network. She’s an educated, entrepreneur making her way while using her platform. After being on Will Packer’s Ready To Love, she decided to take advantage of her loyal fan base she had on the show and create a brand bigger than herself, empowering women, managing artists and plenty. Check out her interview below:

 

Danii Gold: What made you want to open your company, AA Dimensions?

Ashlee Akins: After being on Ready To Love, I sat down with my mother and told her I wanted a company that exemplified women’s empowerment arts and entertainment, fashion, health and wellness and here we are. My mother has always been my biggest supporter and cheerleader, and we have always made a great team in business as well. This journey is one that I can freely give my all to, simply because there’s nothing like having a team you can trust.

Danii Gold: What was the inspiration behind opening the company?

Ashlee Akins: The inspiration behind my company is simply myself and my mother. I wanted a brand that represents and showcases real individuals, real leaders, real women and men, striving to make a difference in this world and helping each of us gain success across the board. I wanted to create a platform that encompassed each of my passions, with a foundation in one mission; to empower people of color to grow and work in their highest potential.

Danii Gold: What services does AA Dimensions provide?

Ashlee Akins: We provide inspiration for the arts as well as artist management, women’s personal and business empowerment, including different panels, forums and conferences. I have just released a book that is a self-help interactive journal to teach individuals the formula to life and to become the author of their own story. We believe in full-circle support, therefore we also serve in areas of mental and physical health and wellness.

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Danii Gold: With you being experienced within the entertainment world, positively, does that help you reach a wider variety of clients or even sponsors for the company?

Ashlee Akins: It definitely does help our networking community but we are always welcoming new sponsors and new partnerships. Due to my participation in OWN Tv’s Ready to Love, I have gained a large and loyal fan base, which I cherish dearly and am constantly motivated by to push harder and go the extra mile. One thing you should know is that fame doesn’t make you successful. Hard work and dedication does.

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Danii Gold: With you having experience with reality TV, sports, recently music; new single titled “Walk Light” AND you’re even educated; what’s next for you? Acting perhaps? 

Ashlee Akins: I am definitely a Jane of all trades. I am going to continue to pursue acting. I recently worked on a TV series on Starz and I’m just going to keep trying and reaching and exceeding all of my goals. I love life and everything it has to offer so I want to do a little bit of everything. Essentially, this is why my company includes and showcases so much. I don’t really believe in limits when it comes to self-progression.

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Danii Gold: What tools and encouragement do you use to empower consumers or people who work within the company?

Ashlee Akins: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work. We are loyal and dedicated to one another and we strive to make sure each individual reaches their highest potential. We surely live lit or die boring, but we keep it cute and professional along the way. Overall we want each person to reach unbelievable destinations.

Danii Gold: What message do you like to send with your company?

Ashlee Akins: When beginning a task never give up too fast be your labor great or small do it well or not at all‼️ 

Follow her pages on Instagram @AADimenions and @_IAmAshlee007

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[Interview] Drew Negus Talks Being a Solo Artist, Years in Music and New EP

St. Louis native Drew Negus is more than just an artist. He’s a creator, from rapping to songwriting, to engineering and even film scoring. He’s been making music for over 15 years and doesn’t plan on stopping. He’s collaborated with artists in Atlanta and even Los Angeles. He likes to put positive energy into my music and wants to make the world a better place. Check out his interview below, where he talks about being in a group, his music experience and his projects.

Danii Gold: How did you get into doing music?

Drew Negus: Looking back I have always been into music even before I chose it as a career. I played instruments in elementary school and sung in the choir at church. I even played a rapper in a school play in 6th grade! I started taking music seriously when my best friends and I started a group called A1O. We released a song on an old social media site, “Bebo” and got a great response. The website even reached out to us and offered us what was basically a marketing deal! They agreed to promote our music if we only released music on their website. 

Danii Gold: I definitely remember the Bebo days lol. With you being in a group back then, how did the four of you collectively contribute to your music? 

Drew Negus: Our process was always fun and organic. We would all contribute to making the beats (not having a clue what we were doing) and then we each would come up with flows and melodies. Most songs would start off like a cypher with the next person taking over every 4 or 8 bars. We had a lot of fun for sure! 

Danii Gold: Do you think being in a group is still as successful as being a solo artist? 

Drew Negus: From a financial standpoint it’s easier to invest in the music as a group for sure! On the other hand money is split more ways. Clearly groups like the Migos show you can still be very successful as a group so I would say Yes. 

Danii Gold: Would you or have you collaborated with your group members since you all went your separate ways? 

Drew Negus: I have produced for my former group members since we separated. I don’t know what the future holds as far as making songs together but it’s a possibility. 

Danii Gold: Finish the sentence, “I’m Drew, …. “ 

Drew Negus: I Am Drew; Artist, Producer, Engineer, and Songwriter 

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Danii Gold: What do you enjoy most, writing music, being an engineer or artist ?

Drew Negus: Lately I have found the most joy as an artist! This is really a full circle moment for me, starting out as an artist and finally finding my way back! It’s definitely close though because I Love producing! I also enjoy mixing! It’s just something about turning beats into actual songs that people can relate to that is very fulfilling to me.

Danii Gold: You’ve recently produced and engineered for artists in ATL and LA. Would you consider moving out of St. Louis to work with other more established artists or do you feel like you can bounce back and forth? 

Drew Negus: I actually moved out of St. Louis In 2010 and it is one of the best decision I have made! I have lived in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Dallas. I would encourage any upcoming musician in St. Louis to expand their horizons. St. Louis music scene is definitely thriving and has some of the best talent I have seen. There are just much more opportunities to grow and learn about the industry in other cities like Atlanta and LA. I have found myself in rooms with artists, producers, and A&R’s that I would have never had access to in St. Louis. You separate yourself from 90% of other musicians just by BEING IN THE ROOM! I definitely want to work with and bring value to the St.Louis scene. Low key, there are many St. Louis natives in other cities THRIVING in the music industry behind the scenes. 

Danii Gold: You recently got into film scoring. What sparked your interest to  get into scoring?

Drew Negus: I actually have always thought it would be cool to work in film scoring. One of my good friends “Cherie Antionette” is an independent film director and actress in Atlanta. She solicited my help on her short film “The Porcelain Chef” and the rest is history. The film is actually award winning now and has been featured at several film festivals. It is a very fun experience! The music behind different scenes affects how you feel about what you are seeing so much! It’s almost like doing magic. 

Danii Gold: That is dope and different. I haven’t heard of any music creator say they would be interested in film scoring. So switching topics–You released your first solo EP “Abundance of the Heart” back in June and it’s great! I personally like “Star”, “Swim” and “Signs”. Since you were making music when you were younger, what took you so long to come out with a solo project? Did you ever doubt yourself?

Drew Negus: Thank you! Once the group split up I felt that I should focus on producing and engineering. At a certain point I became completely entrenched in that and kind of lost sight of my passion for being an artist. My experiences over the years as a producer and engineer have led me to this point, and helped me a lot as I have begun my journey as a solo artist. I have been involved in and around the process of being a successful artist and worn a few different hats. I believe that gives me a well rounded perspective of how I should approach my artistry. I always knew deep down that I desired to get back on the mic. I am glad things have played out the way they have so far. My character and thought process have grown tremendously over the years and it reflects in my music. 

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Danii Gold: Well-put! So, would you consider signing to a label or staying independent?

Drew Negus: At this point, I am focused on being an independent artist and continuing to strengthen my team and resources. When the situation is right I would be open to partnering with a major label. Nowadays major labels mostly only invest in established, successful independent artists. As i continue to grow I plan to keep my options open.

Danii Gold: What do you have coming up? Performances, new music. Etc.

Drew Negus: I am currently working on “Abundance of the Heart II” which I plan to release in mid 4th quarter. 

Danii Gold: That’s what’s up! Since you are a man of many titles, what is your end goal? What would you like to accomplish?

Drew Negus: End goal? Make the world a better place! My music career is only a vehicle to do that. Energy cannot be destroyed, only transferred, so I plan to put positive, uplifting energy into my music and spread it throughout the world! I also plan to build a Major Record label over time and connect some dots for independent artists along the way.

Danii Gold: That’s nice and inspiring. Lastly, What message do you want to send in your music?  

Drew Negus: I just want to depict my inner world by expressing myself musically. God has me on an amazing journey and I’m blessed to be able to tell my story through music.  I want to motivate my community. I want my sisters to be able to turn up without being womanized. A wise person once told me to put the medicine in the candy. I take that approach in my music.

Make sure you check out Drew Negus music on all streaming platforms and his latest EP “Abundance of the Hearts”

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St. Louis Artist Valencia Talks Upbringing, Lyrics and New Single Dropping 8/2

Valencia Valencia Valencia!! That’s a name you don’t want to forget. She’s a St. Louis based artist doing the thang and making a name for herself. She working hard these days; she dropped her EP F**k Girl earlier this year. Valencia released a single titled “Another Round” just a month ago and now she’s working on the release of her new song “Vibe” that is dropping on Friday August 2. She’s opened for nation wide artists and even has the same vocal coach as Grammy nominated artists. Check out her interview below!

Danii Gold: How did you get your start in music? Do you come from a musically-inclined family?

Valencia: I got started in music at an early age. When I was very young (like 6 or so) I would sing songs involving a lot of harmony with three of my older siblings. However, I didn’t realize my love for music until I was much older. Although I took guitar lessons, dance classes, and singing lessons I didn’t grow up directly under nor with someone who had the same passion as I have now.  I have a lot of family members outside of my siblings who sing, dance, rap, produce, and more but I didn’t get this from my parents directly. 

Danii Gold: If you had to introduce yourself to a person by letting people know who you are, what would you say? For instance, finish the sentence, “I’m Valencia, a singer, …”

Valencia: It’s ya girrrrl Valencia, aka DAMN, bka, Damnn Valencia.. Okay just kidding! I’d only say that on stage. I would say I’m a singer/songwriter, performer or entertainer, and creative music video director. 

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Danii Gold: Those are some good titles. When you started writing music at age 15, what would you write about at the time?

Valencia: Back then I used to write a lot of (if not only), inspirational songs. I grew up in church so I never ventured out to write about different aspects of life until I got older and more comfortable with better expressing myself. 

Danii Gold: Being that you’ve been into music for such a long time from writing to singing it, Would you consider writing for other artists ?

Valencia: Most definitely! It’s one of my goals and actually something I’ve already started to do. 

Danii Gold: That’s what’s up! Your music and voice is dope AF. You are open with your sexuality in a classy and sensual way. Not a lot of female artists are like that, but with the few that are like that, did you have any music inspirations growing up when it came to singing about your sexuality?

Valencia: Ah, thank you so much! Growing up I was super conservative. Since I grew up in the church, my family and I were missionaries and my dad was a pastor. Now, I’m not trying to pump up the cliche that “pastors kids are the worst ones” or anything, but I do have to say I didn’t become comfortable with expressing myself or even being myself until I got older. I grew into my own person and realized that I’m a free spirit. There wasn’t anybody in particular who I got inspired by at the time, but I guess I just finally figured out what type of being I was and wanted to be. This time in my life was so liberating! 

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Danii Gold: In the past, you were blessed with the opportunity to work in vocal coach Ametria Dock who’s worked with Jidenna, Janelle Monae and even India Irie. How did you two link up?

Valencia: I went to a singers workshop in Atlanta, just to grow as a singer/musician when I learned of her. I was obsessed with India Arie growing up already so to find out her background singer, Ametria Dock was going to be there and teaching was beyond exciting. After attending the event I reached out to her about singing lessons and I was under her teaching for years after that. 

Danii Gold: That’s so cool! Did her large clientele help you connect with other artists? 

Valencia: It began to, however, I will say from when I was younger I realize now that I could have done much more to network with those she knew– you definitely live and you learn. She was willing to help me too. But thankfully I actually plan to start my lessons back up. Her talent and ability to help others grow is unmatched and I really miss learning from her. 

Danii Gold: Speaking of other artists, you opened up for Flo Rida and AJR back in 2017. How did you get that opportunity and what did you learn?

Valencia: It’s important to have genuine people and friends in your corner! My amazing friend Allen Gates invited me on stage with him for this opportunity. We always try to look out for our loved ones but man, he’s just the type of person that goes above and beyond. So major shout out to Allen “You know how G do it!” Gates! 

From that experience, I learned that this music thing is definitely for me! I learned to own the stage and every opportunity you’re given. And finally to handle it all with care, grace and humility. That same day a St. Louis, singing legend and someone who I adored personally, Rollyn ‘Klassy’ Moore passed away. I never told anyone this but hours before the performance I spent crying and mourning my friend who was always encouraging me to keep going. I had a growth spurt the day I performed this concert. I learned my strengths and my drive and reasoning for doing what I do, was way greater than I realized. 

Danii Gold: Wow, that’s a great way to look at it. So switching focuses here–you have a new single dropping on Friday August 2 at 7pm title “Vibe”. What was the story and inspiration behind it?

Valencia: Wow, “Vibe” was created on the complete random! I was bouncing ideas off my partner in music for a totally different song (shout out to 4012!) and I had already been working on building up my catalog of music when I just came up with this catchy ass hook… “it’s the summertime just vibe, vibe…” And when I say I’ve never written something in such a short amount of time that I actually LOVED– I shocked myself! I finished it in literally 30 min. Writing songs usually comes very easily and naturally to me, but this one was so special for some reason. There wasn’t any inspiration behind it per say, it just felt good and the song itself made me happy. I could only imagine and hope that it does the same for those who hear it! 

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Danii Gold: I love how you express in your music that women can do and feel the same way as men, no double standard. The term being used now is “having a hot girl summer.” Lol. What reactions have you gotten from men regarding the lyrics in your music?

Valencia: Haha! Yesss, to the “hot girl summer!” I’ve received mixed feelings from men. However, surprisingly, most of those feelings were just them appreciating the art and loving the sound! I was surprised, I can’t even lie. But with others you could definitely tell they were uncomfortable and felt some type of way about it and ended up asking for clarification for some of the lyrics and their meanings. Which, I took no offense to because that’s part of the reason why I created F*ck Girl. I wanted the conversations, I wanted to be expressive and a bit problematic, and I definitely wanted the buzz.

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Danii Gold: What is the ultimate goal you want to reach with your music?

Valencia: Whew, my ultimate goal? This is a tough one! I feel like there is no limit in this one little life that we all get to live individually. So I want my music to have endless opportunity and countless stories tied to it and survive to live through future generations (sky’s the limit right?). Music is healing, it’s freeing, it’s everywhere and nowhere. I want it to be heard around the world, and I want it to help in anyway it can. 

Danii Gold: What message do you want to send through your music?

Valencia: Be yourself, be happy, be carefree, be wild, be kind and loving, and enjoy your freaking life!

Valencia is a beautiful soul and a dope artist making her way in this music industry. Make sure you listen to her new single “Vibe” dropping on Friday August 2 at 7:01pm. If you want to keep up with her, follow her on Facebook and Instagram @DamnValencia. Her music is on all streaming sites. Also, check out her website for more information on her –> https://www.damnvalencia.com

 

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KV The Writer Talks Being An Artist and Laughing Through Heartbreak

I got the chance to interview a very talented artist from St. Louis with DELUX Magazine, whom I write for. Check out the interview below.

St. Louis artist KV Thompson, also known as KV The Writer, is more than just that. She sings, raps, writes her own music, and she’s even a published author. KV been writing since she was a kid and with that she’s perfected the skill.

KV’s recent project is about a guy breaking up with her at an ice cream shop. With her getting her heart broke, she channeled her hurt into her music, a full blown EP titled Love Sucks. DELUX was able to talk to her about her transparency, her talents and being an artist here in St. Louis.

DELUX: Being an artist comes with practice or it’s a natural thing. How do you start out singing?

KV: I honestly don’t consider myself a singer (lol.) I think of myself as a songwriter that tries to deliver songs the way I think they should be delivered. Sometimes that requires me to sing. Other times rap. I just try to bring songs to life the best way I can. My producer/engineer is the one that makes me into a singer.

DELUX: Were you hesitant on being so transparent about getting your heart broke?

KV: Not at all. I laugh at myself a lot, including when I get my heart broken. Of course, at the time, it wasn’t very funny, but after a while I would look back and laugh at myself about all the weird and ridiculous situations I found myself in.

DELUX: When dealing with getting your heart broke, did it change your perception on dating during these times versus 10 years ago?

KV: I can say 10 years ago I knew nothing about dating or what it meant to be your full self while in a partnership. 10 years from now I’m sure I’ll still be learning about how to form a romantic partnership with another person. I would say getting my heartbroken was a much needed lesson on love and attachment. It made me realize that we don’t own people, even the ones we love. People are free to walk out of your life for whatever reason. We have to appreciate the moments and seasons they are in our life, and don’t try to hold on to something past its time.

DELUX: How long have you been singing and who is the inspiration behind your sound?

KV: I started really developing the sound I have now about 2 years ago. I pushed my pen by writing songs every day for a whole year. During this time, I experimented a lot. I played around by writing songs for different genres, started practicing making melodies, and played with my voice a lot. I guess what inspires my sound is just being true to me. Whatever I feel like should come out, I do that.

DELUX: Your song “Crazy” is dope with you rapping and singing? There are only so many female artist that does that such as Nicki Minaj and even Lauryn Hill. With you having talent in both, would you consider yourself a singer, rapper or an artist overall?

Check out her response and the rest of the interview HERE

Make sure you follow her on IG @KVTheWriter

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Miss Caesar Interview

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Lydia Caesar, who goes by the name Miss Caesar, is a talented singer from New York but she’s pursing her career in St. Louis with her husband Wayne, owner of Sauce Records Global.

She has such a beautiful unique voice that reminds you of that 1990’s era, when every voice was strong and soulful. I had the opportunity to interview her and ask her about her upbringing, her music and plenty more. Check out the interview below.

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Danii Gold out!

Chris Brown Concert Lit!

Soo I went to see Chris Brown Sunday July 29 (I know I’m late making this post).
Of course he was GREAT! He started out singing “Heartbreak on a Full Moon”, then went into performing “Juicy Booty”, “Questions”, “High End”, “Yellow Tape” and my FAVORITE song on the album “Hope You Do” which is a melody sample from Donnell Jones “Where I Wanna Be” . I could’ve left the concert after he performed that because I was THAT impressed at that point! BTW if you haven’t already, make sure you check out the review I did on Heartbreak on a Full Moon Album
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After he performed his songs off the Heartbreak on a Full Moon album, he took us back to 06 and sang “Yooo”, his second single off the first album, then “Poppin”. To put the icy on the cake, he performed “Take You Down”, which we all know is the SHIT! Mind you, while he was performing all these songs, he dancing…his ass off. Not only can this man, sing, rap, dance, but he can act and produce. Call him what you want but don’t forget to mention that this man is talented.

Sidebar: I missed 6lack’s performance but I did catch H.E.R. and did good! She’s more of a mellow, chill performer. She didn’t dance much at all, but while she singed, she played her guitar. She performed my ALL TIME favorite sung by her, Best Part. Overall, I liked her performance.
Another sidebar: I went to see C Beezy for the first time in concert back in 06, with Neyo (hence, the feature photo). Crazy thing is, I completely forgot because I went to so many concerts when I was younger. But needless to say…I’ve been a fan!!
Have y’all seen Chris Brown in concert? If so, where at and how did you like it?
Comment below, let me know!
Danii Gold out!

EXCLUSIVE BWxnda Interview

I sat down with one of my good friends and a talented artist about his music, being a solo artist, moving to a different coast AND new music he has on the way. Check out my BWxnda interview below. 

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