Johanni Colon interviews Bylli Crayone
First, Congratulations of having your first full studio album on vinyl. That must be an amazing feeling. To have and hold… and listen to your own physical record album. Anything you can share about the first time it landed in your hands? Sight & Sound?
BC: When I first had it in my hands I was blown away. I’m so used to seeing the small 5″ CD version. But when looking at this album on a bigger scale it was so vibrant, so colorful and well, it screams dance music. Exactly what I wanted. So I was very impressed with the album cover art. When I went to put the record on the player, I put on my beats headphones and listened to it on full blast. I stayed listening to each side 5 times. Mind you, it was around 1am when I finally got the chance to listen to it. I was on cloud 9. I could not believe I was listening to myself on a vinyl record. At the same time, holding the album jacket and just a feeling of being mesmerized by looking at the cover and listening to it at the same time.
JC: So I have to ask and I am sure I am not the only one who wants to know. Why ‘Green’?
BC: Originally, the album was going to be called ‘Dance Control’. Hence the boom box radio on the front cover. I am a total dance artist. Everything I do is in one form or another a genre of Dance Music. Whether it be Freestyle, House, Pop, Techno or 80s / 90s influence. This album has all of that. But to answer your question it was the idea of my mentor Gloria Estefan. Let me explain. Back during the days of the album recording sessions I mentioned to Gloria about this song I wrote back in 1984. The song was called ‘Green’. The hook was very infectious and had a nursery rhyme type feel about it. I mean, I did write this back in 1984 so my song writing skills werent on point yet…. or were they? Well, I had to sing the song to Gloria and she suggested I bring the song to life. If it stayed on my mind for over 30 years, its time. So she went and mentioned it to my producers to make sure I recorded it. So, I did. The song came out amazing. But that still doesnt answer your question now, does it? lol. Well, getting to the point… When it came time for the album cover photo shoot it was brought to my attention to use a location with a neon green wall. I was all for it, I love neon colors and neon green was my favorite but I didnt put one and one together. Some days later it was suggested to me that I call the album ‘Green’. I wasnt feeling it, I wanted to call it ‘Dance Control’. Gloria once again said, this is a sign. The album title speaks. You may not understand it at the moment but you will in time. Took me awhile, but I finally got it. Its part of me, my history, bringing it to life. So the album was ultimately called ‘Green’ and I am okay with that.
JC: That is amazing. How long has Gloria Estefan been your mentor ? Is she a fan of your music as well?
BC: Gloria and I have been connected since 2009. She’s been supporting me and my music for awhile. In fact, yes, she is a fan of my music. She loves the idea that I have been independent for 27 years and doing it all on my own. No major label, no backing, no investors or sponsors. It was all me. It always has been. She even went as far as having a speech read about me in 2016 at the Lawrence City Hall where the City Council were presenting me with a proclamation. There is a video on YouTube where Gloria Estefan is actually talking about me and my 2011 album ‘Presto’ and how impressed she is with it. She plays it in her house for everyone to listen to. She supports me 100%. Love her.
JC: So about the album, how many songs are on it? Can you break it down a bit for us so we can have an idea of what this album consists of? Maybe song titles and who wrote the songs? Meaning behind them and so on?
BC: Sure, I can do that. For starters, the vinyl album has 8 songs where the CD & Digital both have 14. Its due to the timing of the songs and what allowed on a vinyl record. I believe its 20 minutes per side. So the album starts off with a Exclusive ‘Vinyl Only’ remix to the song ‘Dance Control’. Believe it or not, this is another song I wrote back in 1984. I figured, why stop at ‘Green’ when I have tons of songs I wrote as a teen that I would love to record. So I followed up with another song that always stood with me. It was time. Track 2 is a song called ‘I Don’t Want You’. This song was the first single off the album and it actually took on a life of its own. A friend of mine who needed to do an audio/video project for a school assignment asked me if I would be okay with working with him on an amatuer music video. I said sure. So we did one for that song. Some time later a YouTube celebrity named Ari something shared it and it went viral. The video can be seen on my fan page at Facebook.com/BylliCrayone .
JC: That is amazing. So you got a boost from an online celebrity. What was that experience like?
BC: Well, tons of people flooded my page and commented on the video. At last look, the video had 325K views, 2.9K Comments and 1.6K Shares. Not bad for an indie artist who does ‘Dance Music’. Mind you, many people today are into R&B and Hip-Hop. I feel so out of place locally here in Lawrence. Seems every artist out here is a rapper. There are no other ‘Dance’ artists out here that I am aware of. And of course, if you got Haters, then you know you are doing well. I got haters. lol, they make me laugh. Like stop hating and get creative, use your talent. make some noise. Some of these young people today may have never of heard of me and thats fine. But just because you dont know who I am, doesnt mean I am new to the game. I been doing this ‘Independently’ for almost 30 years.
JC: Yes, they always say.. When you have haters, you officially made it. So what else can we expect on this album?
BC: In the past I have collaborated with quite a few od my favorite artists of the 80s. But on this album I went with long time frind and a Freestyle Legend in her own right. Her name is SHANA. The Freestyle community may remember her for the 80s classics ‘I Want You’ and ‘You Cant Get Away’. Shana and I have been friends since the early days of her career. We used to write songs together at her house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida back in the early 90s. But these days shes a country artist who resides in Chicago. But she did join me on the song ‘Mixed Signals’. In fact, she joined me on stage here in Lawrence 2 years ago at my official CD Release party for the album. Another artist featured on the abum is a local artist by the name of Tye Boogz. He hit me up asking to collaborate on something. But I dont collab with just anyone so I had to do some research on him and I come to find out he’s been rapping since he was a kid, lots of videos on YouTube. I was impressed. So I said sure and we did a song together.
JC: So i am under the impression you wrote every song on the album, is this true?
BC: On the vinyl lp version of the album, Yes. I wrote every single song. Some were written as far back as 1984. However the CD and Digital version of the album contain a cover song of the 80s classic ‘Is It Love’ originally done by Mr Mister.
JC: I’m sure the rest of the songs on the album are amazing and I am very much looking forward to hearing the album and discovering more of your music from the past. Especially the song collaborations with 80s giants Boy George, Tiffany and Salt N Pepa. You for sure are a treasure in the independent scene of dance music. Wishing you many more years of great music and indie success. Anything you would like to add?
BC: I just want people to know that being a successful independent recording artist does not happen over night. It takes many years of hard work, a lot of talent and dreams that will never die. If you believe in your skill, your passion and your love for music. Anything is possible. I am proof of that. Stay clear of the ney-sayers and the non-believers. Just do you.
The album ‘GREEN’ Can currently be purchased online at BylliCrayone.com and at CrayoneMusic.com
Follow Bylli Crayone’s Social Media at @BylliCrayone on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (Verified Accounts)