Being diverse, as far as your ability to vibe with various genres of music will enable you to reach a broader audience and create more wealth for yourself.
You have to have a team, which includes a publicist, a booking agent, and an attorney you can trust to handle all your paperwork and contracts.
Make wise money decisions and invest in order to make it grow. Things have changed in this industry where touring the traditional way will take a while to restore. Until then, be creative with ways to make money by engaging your audience with your music as much as possible via social media.
As part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Yo! Majesty.
“We said we were going to get a record deal, we said we were going to be superstars, we were going to perform all over the world, we said all of that,” says Shunda K, a.k.a. LaShunda Flowers, 39. “And it happened. We made it happen. So we got what we wanted. Now, this time, it’s going to be bigger than even we can see right now. The music that we’re making and the vibe that Jwl and I have — we are older, so the maturity is there. We have the resources now. We’re doing this on our own.”
In the mid-2000s heyday of MySpace, Yo! Majesty rose quickly to digital fame in America (they played both Coachella and South by Southwest) and abroad (they signed to U.K. label Domino Records, now home to Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip and Animal Collective). The frenetic electro-pulse and raw carnality of their 2008 debut Futuristically Speaking…Never Be Afraid felt fresh and inspired at the time (and in many ways still does today).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you. Both Jwl B and I grew up in the church and we were both raised by our grandmothers, both pastors. We met through a mutual friend who ran a night club in Tampa, FL.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started writing music when I was 14 years old and always sang in the church choir. The same is true with Jwl, she was a hot commodity for local churches who would request her to be a guest vocalist as a child. So music has always been a major part of both of our lives.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Yo! Majesty was the first “black” openly gay artists to play at a lot of these music festivals around the world. We played Coachella, Oya Festival in Norway, Big Day Out in Australia, the list goes on and on. We are internationally known on the microphone. This was the goal we set for ourselves when we started out 20 years ago and it is still true today. It’s the takeover!
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?
We can’t really say it was the funniest mistake, but we have made some bad decisions with signing contracts with people that held us up a bit and cost us a pretty penny to get out of. So, don’t go signing things just because people are offering you big dreams with their mouth. Make them put their money where their mouth is up front. If they believe in you they will invest into you without all of the red tape. Paperwork can come later, after the work is done.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, we are collaborating with producers worldwide for sych placement in movies, video games, and commercials. We are looking to secure the bag 2021. Hit us up for collaborations at [email protected]
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?
Music is indeed the universal language so the power of its influence is immeasurable and it is a very lucrative business if you run your career as such. Many artists get caught up in the glitz and glamour and if all you do is spend, never investing, you can expect to be broke quick. The Yo! Majesty brand is definitely on its way to becoming an empire. Our label GMEQCA / Matriarch Records is a one stop shop where we are looking to not only push our music, merchandise, and the brand, in general, but we will also hand pick artists to represent and teach the ropes to, paying it forward.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. It’s good to have diversity in the film and television industry as a music artist. Expand your knowledge of the game so that you can maximize your career on your own without having to rely on an outside source.
2. Being diverse, as far as your ability to vibe with various genres of music will enable you to reach a broader audience and create more wealth for yourself.
3. Independence is everything. Never compromise your craft for money. Remember why you are doing this.
4. You have to have a team, which includes a publicist, a booking agent, and an attorney you can trust to handle all your paperwork and contracts.
5. Make wise money decisions and invest in order to make it grow. Things have changed in this industry where touring the traditional way will take a while to restore. Until then, be creative with ways to make money by engaging your audience with your music as much as possible via social media.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Pace yourself. The entire landscape of the industry has changed where the desk job will again be the push of all musical artists since things are pretty music going virtual.
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. 🙂
Love is the greatest commandment of all, yet respect is everything. If people are only tolerating you and not celebrating you, separate yourselves. We look for love in all the wrong places. Noone can love us better than we can love ourselves. Put you first. Self preservation is the first law.
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?
In my world, God is a woman. So, if I was to thank anyone it would be AhSha. This has been an extremely long journey for Yo! Majesty. We have been in the game 20 years and have been working on this new album release since 2017.
Everything takes time, so take your time, but remember things will only happen as you make them happen. Noone is coming to or going to save you. We must save ourselves and make our lives what we want it to be. We as individuals are in control, so take charge of your life. Start now.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Life is what you make it would be the quote. Sometimes we get it twisted into feeling people owe us when in all actuality we owe it to ourselves to live our best life and to be the best that we can be in this life. What have you done for you lately?
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. 🙂
Jwl B is a big fan of Chaka Khan and Kelly Price 😉
How can our readers follow you online?
Yes. Here are the links to follow us on social media.
Thanks so much for the love.