Tidal Unplugged Interview
What was the importance of bringing the TIDAL Unplugged search to Detroit?
Jason Kpana (SVP of Artist Relations at TIDAL): I speak on behalf of an amazing team I work with at TIDAL. I would have to credit our investors, Robert Nelsen and Mark Lampert with sparking the idea for choosing Detroit as the first city for TIDAL Unplugged. Mark's grandfather was a classical musician from Michigan, and it was important for him to help aspiring artists. The TIDAL team created the program and while doing so, we naturally thought of the Motor City because of its rich, musical history. Once the submissions started pouring in, and things started coming together, it became evident that we made the right decision to start with Detroit.
What did you learn about the city of Detroit (music and culture wise) that you didn’t know beforehand?
What stuck out to me the most is the artist comradery that exists in Detroit. The first time I visited Detroit, we used Royce Da 5'9 studio to meet with our finalists. My artist relations team picked the 15 artists, and we narrowed it down to 5 artists. Through this process, everyone knew each other in some capacity. We had no idea that it would be such a tight-knit community, so that's what stuck out to me above everything else.
Will we see more TIDAL Unplugged events?
We're doing a TIDAL Unplugged showcase over the next two months.
Emma Guzman - TIDAL Unplugged winner
People are hailing you as a teenage prodigy and you’ve performed at countless events. When did you know you had the drive to become a performer?
The title of "teenage prodigy" is attributed to how old I was when I got started. I started doing musical theatre when I was 8 years old and started taking guitar lessons when I was 9. I took songwriting lessons when I was 11. From there, I released my first album at 14, and my second album when I was 15. Music and songwriting are what I live for.
How do you constantly practice the technique of songwriting
The music community is what helps me to become a better writer. It's nice to be able to hear other people's stories and be able to pull inspiration from that.
What does the TIDAL Unplugged grant mean to you as a future college student?
This opportunity means everything to me. So far, it's been my dad and me, but now I see that a major platform believes in me which I'm grateful for. I get to utilize these tools and opportunities that TIDAL has provided to advance my career so I'm excited to keep working and growing.
Laurie Love - TIDAL Unplugged winner
Talk about your early days of crafting your R&B sound
I listen to a ton of 90's music and I grew up singing in the church, so this is where my sound stems from.
Give me one word to describe Detroit
Innovative. We've started a lot of movements here in Detroit, so innovation is what makes us unique. It's hard to use one word to describe Detroit [laughs].
How much has your life changed since winning the TIDAL Unplugged grant?
Winning this grant has lit a fire inside of me. I'm motivated to go to the next level. The drive has always been there, but now it's go time.
Sam Austins - TIDAL Unplugged winner
Did you envision being the type of artist who would blend various genres of music for creative consumption?
I've been around music my whole life. My dad always had me around MPC's and pianos, but I didn't know I would end up doing music. I wanted to do movies, graphic novels or anything else that involved creativity. As I discovered more things, I realized that I wanted to just make art, even though I chose music in the end. I want to give people an experience, which is where my heart lies at.
Whose an artist from Detroit that people don’t talk about enough?
I know so many artists who are undiscovered right now. With Detroit being such a hot spot on the market, it's only a matter of time before everything comes to fruition.
What was your reaction when you found out you won the TIDAL Unplugged grant?
Like everyone else, I was extremely grateful. As an independent artist, there are limited options out there, so I appreciate TIDAL for helping to curate the next group of groundbreaking artists in the creative space.
Additional TIDAL Unplugged winners include: