The voice of generation X has been Desmond Parson's. The vocal control that he possesses is out of this world! When I heard him slay Fire and Desire I was sold. It's good to see so many artists coming forward in the preservation of classic R&B music. It gives me the hope that all is not lost. I had the opportunity to interview Desmond about some of the things he's experienced being an independent artist, here's what he shared.
Tell me about your background in a few words. For example, what is your hometown and how did you get into music? I was born and raised in the Washington DC area. My love and appreciation for music began as a small child as my grandmother would often play R&B/Soul music around the house. By the age of four, I found that I didn’t just want to listen to music, but also attempt to replicate the vocals I heard on the records, most notably, Stevie Wonder.
Are you able to sing a wide range of pitches? My vocal range is F#3 - F5
I would like to know when and how your professional career began and the circumstances leading to it? My professional life in music began once I started serving as music director and keyboardist/vocalist for a local R&B band in the DC area, called “Tomorrow’s Time”. We covered old school R&B/Soul/Funk. In 2012, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to open a show for the world-renowned Dramatics. Although I enjoyed covering a lot of soul music, I felt there was more to say and create musically, thus, in 2013, I left the band to focus solely on my solo career as a singer/songwriter.
Are there any challenges associated with being an independent artist? Being an independent artist can be challenging, but the most significant challenge, in the beginning, is being everything and everyone. For example, when you're independent, you have to be the artist, the producer, the accountant, the PR/Marketing person, and the videographer.
In your opinion, what does it really take to “make it” in this business? As an artist, I believe you need to have unshakable faith and determination, regardless of the circumstances, to commit to your path and stand behind your work.
In your opinion, what's the best and worst part of being an independent artist? The best part of being an independent artist is that you have free reign to work at your pace and to collaborate with whomever you would like. Conversely, the worst part of being an independent artist is attempting to grab the attention of the masses as there are so many artists, especially those backed by labels, that get the lions share of attention in media, that it’s harder for up and coming artists to have a shot at success.
Have you ever released a song that you genuinely thought would be a big hit, but it didn't perform as well as you expected? What happened? One of my earliest singles, “You’re all mine”, was released in early 2019. This song, which happens to be one of my favorites, was written arranged, and produced by myself. After sharing it with close family and friends who all loved it, I naturally assumed that this would be the overarching opinion of everyone. Upon his release, there was little to no reaction. Granted, I was still figuring out how to market and promote my music. Nonetheless, I did feel disappointed that the song did not do more to promote my brand of R&B.
Do you have a daytime job or is music your full-time job? Currently, I have a daytime job.
How important is it that your friends and family support your music by purchasing and downloading your single? How crucial is their support for the success of your career? Although I’ve heard from other independent artists that family and friends don’t have much impact on your success, as they themselves don’t know how or can’t properly promote your music (other than word of mouth and buying/downloading), I do feel it’s an imperative element to the success of the artist. If nothing else than moral support, the support of family and friends to me is very crucial.
What are your thoughts on the concept of likes and dislikes on an artist's social media music post? Does that assessment represent an accurate assessment of the artist's talent, worth, or ability? While the likes and dislikes of an artist's posts can be used for various metrics, I feel overall that art is art in that it is subjective to that person who is either listening or watching. No, I don’t believe that is an accurate assessment. Each of us was made unique, and we do not need to be subjected to the opinions of others.
What have people who have heard your music say about your vocal style that sets you apart from other vocalists? As one of my earliest vocal influences was Stevie Wonder, I have heard that they can hear his influence in my vocal delivery.
If you can speak to your fans from your heart and tell them one important thing that you want them to know about being an independent artist, what would it be? I would tell my fans the most important thing about being an independent artist is to be yourself. While we are all influenced by artists that have of come before us, there is an element within you that is solely unique to your approach to music, to your look, to your story, that people can identify with and will follow you based on your journey as a person.
What advice would you give to new artists entering the changing industry? To be your true authentic self and to stay aware of the current trends and new methods of cultivating relationships with fans.
Would you mind sharing with radio presenters one important thing that you would like them to know about being an independent artist? My answer would be, "Thank you!" Thank you for giving independent musicians a chance to show their talent. Thank you for offering independent musicians a platform through which to share their music with the world.
How would you describe your music to those who have never heard it before?
My music is a fusion of contemporary R&B with Neo-soul.
Are you a music producer or writer? Yes ,I am.
What does it really feel like to be an independent artist? Share your heart with our readers? Being an independent artist is rewarding. With no label to answer to, you can literally do whatever you want in terms of creating your music. You are free to perform wherever and whenever you like. Moreover, you reap the benefits of any and all earnings.
You're about to release a new song - how are you mentally preparing for public opinion (positive or negative)? First and foremost, I must be able to listen to the song myself, both in terms of the subject matter and the song itself; instrumentation, mix, vocal performance. My friends and family members are also given the opportunity to listen and provide feedback. In the event that the consensus is positive and I am satisfied with the result, I release the song and am fully prepared to defend my work.
Have you ever felt so discouraged in this business, for whatever reason, that you just wanted to throw in the towel? No. While I have had my share of disappointments, I have never reached the level of wanting to quit.
How many singles/albums do you have out presently and what is your favorite album/song to date? I have 9 projects available which consist of 1 full-length album, 1 EP, and 7 singles. Based on the day of the week I may have a different favorite song, however, I am definitely feeling my latest project “Therapy”.
Tell me about your latest album/ song and what was your inspiration behind it? Is it out now and where can people buy it? My latest single isn’t titled “Therapy”. I had the pleasure of recording this song with another independent artist, Davonne D’Neil. By simply listening to or writing to music, you are able to relax and find solace in yourself. This song is available on all digital platforms. I also offer limited edition compact discs on my Bandcamp page.
How much time does it take to eat a hamburger in a pool while swimming in orange juice? Umm...about 3 minutes and 17 seconds.
Photo Credits: Robbin Reeder for all of the non-piano photos Photo Credits: Ken Allen for the one with the Piano
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