I wish somebody would have just told me “don’t ever give up. Just do what you came to do. believe in yourself”. Nobody ever really gave me that kind of guidance when it came to music. I think I fell victim to a lot of pitfalls, and there’s so many people that have agendas that are telling you to go this way or that way for their own gain. I guess I wish that somebody would have come along and told me in the music game to stay clear on my path and not get too caught up in all the noise.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Multi-disciplined singer and performer Ekin Ozlen. The Los Angeles based singer also owns the beauty brand Keracell, and combines her creative disciplines to promote her products in a fusion of music and business. She’s a multi-disciplined talent in the arenas performance and entrepreneurship, and continues to creatively innovate in her professional career. We hear all about her journey so far.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Turkey — my father’s Turkish — and I moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida, which is a tiny little surfer town and the super world famous surfer named Kelly Slater’s from there, which kind of put it on the map. And my mom was an engineer at NASA. So I was about 30 minutes away from NASA, and that’s why I grew up there. And I grew up very much like the quintessential beach bunny, with a bunch of surfers on the beaches of Florida on the East Coast.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was modelling in New York City, I started hanging out with a bunch of Brooklyn-based hip-hop guys that would get into word battles. And it was really incredible because they were like poets, they would just break into spontaneous word battles. It was so fun to watch, I just got super inspired by hanging out with them. And we were young, it was New York City, everything was about music and partying and going out to clubs. And I was very much involved in the music scene. And I was always very good at writing. As a child, I always wrote short stories and poems. So I had books of poems that I had written, and I had been going through a really difficult time, and I think I just got into writing. Once I started hanging out with them, it kind of all just converged. And I just taught myself how to sound engineer and started laying words over beats that producers would supply me. The first song that I wrote was called Turkish Delight, and I featured this Turkish rapper that was really big named Cihan Ozdemir.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting thing that’s happened to me in my career has been the realization that I didn’t need to stop doing music to be a business owner and to have a successful and thriving beauty business, I was able to converge the two and to make them successful and even more successful together than they were separately. That’s been, I think, the greatest realization and the greatest shock or surprise to me.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest mistake that I made with music is just making so much of it and not having a plan. I was laying down track after track going to the studio recording and collaborating with all these different rappers. So it was very easy hanging out with all these producers because they just kept throwing me samples and throwing me music. I was devouring it, kind of like the way an artist finally finds their path at something. I think having a plan with all that would have definitely been key to a marketing plan, understanding marketing and promotion, I didn’t know anything about that back then, I just knew how to create.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just finished a music video and single with Vadhir Derbez and Roxy Ferrari. And that song is titled “Where You At”. And that was a really fun project. And it was a great relief to have done during the pandemic. We were writing that song prior to COVID. And then COVID hit and we had to reschedule the music video twice. So the whole crew, the whole production, everything got put off. And when we were finally able to record that, and we ended up changing the song like three times by that point, because it started getting old, months would go by. So when we finally were able to shoot the music video, it was such a relief for all of us to just get together and to connect and vibe musically. We’re so happy to just be working again and, and to be launching the hand sanitizer from Keracell within that music video was so timely, and it was so poignant.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think that diversity is absolutely important in every facet of life. We are uniquely diverse, and it has to be represented, it has to be represented musically, it has to be represented visually, whether you’re talking about fashion, or whether you’re talking about film, movies, entertainment. I think it’s definitely getting better. And I think everything that’s just happened is really just bringing it to the forefront and people are really starting to become cognizant of just how important diversity is.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish somebody would have told me “Don’t stress. You’re going to make it”. I used to think too much about the build up and the anticipatory anxiety of being a performer, wondering if it’s ever gonna go anywhere, if anyone’s ever gonna hear your music.
- As a female entertainer, I think that there’s so much pressure on us, especially in Hollywood when it comes to the ageing process. For regular people and regular women, that ageing thing is so heavy and it kind of puts a date on your creativity. I hate that, and I wish that didn’t exist. And I feel like it’s very much a double standard, I feel like men actually work more as they get older. But I’m really happy to be able to offer people a means to fight the ageing process, and to still stay confident and stay in the game and not feel limited by those age restrictions.
- I wish that someone would have told me that you don’t need to pay people to do things, you can do them yourself. There’s so much financially that I spent in industry, on managers, retainers, on people that really didn’t do anything that I couldn’t have just done myself. But I thought that I needed their wisdom or their guidance. And I found that extremely frustrating, and it was really difficult for me. And I think that actually taught me a lot about business.
- I wish somebody would have told me that there was going to be this thing called Instagram. I wish somebody would have told me immediately when that came on the scene to start that process. I came onto Instagram maybe like a year too late. I wish I would have known and taken it a little bit more seriously on the front end.
- I wish somebody would have just told me “don’t ever give up. Just do what you came to do. believe in yourself”. Nobody ever really gave me that kind of guidance when it came to music. I think I fell victim to a lot of pitfalls, and there’s so many people that have agendas that are telling you to go this way or that way for their own gain. I guess I wish that somebody would have come along and told me in the music game to stay clear on my path and not get too caught up in all the noise.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I actually went through a phase where I got totally turned off in 2015. I did four songs with a producer, and something just snapped in me. I tried out for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, they came back to me two years in a row, they filmed me and my husband, and I didn’t get it. But I got all the way down to like the final like the night before and then Denise Richards got out of a movie role, and she got it over me. I didn’t want to make music, I didn’t want to post on Instagram. And I went zero dark thirty for like six months. But it was cathartic. It was almost like I needed it, I needed to just reset. And that’s what I did. And then I kind of just came back swinging. Sometimes you need that reset period. And if you fall and you hit yourself in the face, you just gotta get back up again and keep it moving.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think it would probably have something to do with protecting children or protecting animals. I’m already involved in animal charities so it would probably be something that would save children from abuse.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would have to thank my husband. He’s been just such a support system for me. He goes on this journey with me every day. He didn’t want to be filmed for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And he did it twice, he did it for me. That was really huge for me and supporting me like that. He is definitely my ride or die. There’s nothing that we won’t do for each other.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My life lesson quote would definitely have to do with “staying true to your path”, and not getting pulled off centre by other people. But having to follow through and know what you came to do, and just really staying true to that, and powering on despite all of the things that may get in the way or all of the distractions. Really staying true to what it is you came to do on earth, and never giving up.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
I would love to sit with Jennifer Lopez and have some tea. I admire her, she just keeps going. And she keeps reinventing herself. And she keeps finding success. And she doesn’t give a shit. Like how many times she gets married and divorced. She just goes and does it again. It’s amazing. She’s still on her path. And she stays true.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!