Photos by Damien Crawford
Damien Crawford released his second album “The Reign” after a successful first album “The Crawford Chronicles” featuring the single,”Show Me the Light.” The gifted musician plays the saxophone, trumpet and French horn and enjoys writing his materials. Crawford has performed in venues in New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and several cities up and down the Eastern seaboard. Pride Index had the opportunity to talk with the self-proclaimed Prince of Urban Pop. He talked about his upbringing, musical training, and what drives him as an artist.
PRIDEINDEX (PI): How long have you been a recording artist? When did you first know that you wanted to be a recording artist?
DAMIEN CRAWFORD (DC): I’ve been a musician for years. I’ve play several instruments however; I wasn’t into singing. I literally went into a recording studio with a friend and went into a recording studio one day and sang. I was surprised that I didn’t sound bad, in fact everybody loved it! At that point I decided I wanted to sing and write all my materials. That’s when it really took off from there for me.
PI: What was the name of that song they were raving about; what instruments do you play?
DC: It was my first single called “Show Me the Light.” I grew up playing the saxophone, and then I started to play the trumpet, French horn and the piano.
PI: Does that mean that you were trained in jazz or the classical music?
DC: Both. I was in the jazz band and I did classical training while in middle and high school. I was in the concert band and wind ensemble. They teach you all of those different styles of music. Music has always been in my blood.
PI: Most classically trained artist knows their shit.
DC: Yeah. You have to know the cords and everything little thing about the music to get it as close as possible to perfection. I appreciate all of my training and all of my teachers from back in the day. Thank Y’all (LAUGHS)
PI: Do you have any influences in the classical or jazz music worlds?
DC: My influences from the classical world were, I’d have to say I love Tscharski, and Beethoven. It’s all about the dramatics of it that plays in everything from hip hop to R&B. People just don’t realize that about classical music. Producers have to know the different genres of music and know how to put it all together and make it sound dope. I tip my hat to those producers that know all of the ins and outs of each string and cord. Cords are the basis of classical music.
PI: Your Facebook page mentions that you are the “Prince of Urban Pop.” What does that mean?
DC: I love R&B, hip hop and popular music. I wanted to create a sound that incorporated all three genres. I noticed from a few interviews I’d done that I was being called the “Prince of Urban Pop” so it just kind of stuck with me. It’s the definition of my sound. Its R&B, hip hop and pop merged together.
PI: Tell us about some of the artists in all of those world’s who have influenced your sound or styles
DC: In the pop genre it’s Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Usher. Sometimes I just want to hear a pop song and dance to it. Chris Brown gives you that nice song to dance to. Sometime Rihanna gives me that sound. Rihanna gives you that “urban pop sound.” You hear it in her sound then you’ll get the chorus or the bridge that starts off as pop and ends up as R&B or hip hop; she embodies my sound. As far as R&B music goes you artist like Trey Songs, R. Kelly and Chris Brown.
PI: There are so many bright eyed, aspiring artist hoping to make it big in the music industry. What’s so different about your sound that makes you stand out from the others?
DC: I would not say that my sound is so different that stands out. I would say that my voice is different. As far as production and the beats goes, I still want it to be relatable and yet reminiscent of the 1990s or other times when certain dance tracks were hot. I still want to be relatable like some of the artist today. I think that my voice will set me apart from some of the others.
PI: When and where have you performed so far?
DC: I did a show at New York City at a club called Secrets Ultra Lounge. I also performed at the Rock Bar in New York. I’ve performed in Philadelphia, Atlanta and up and down the East Coast. I have some shows coming up in Los Angeles and Las Vegas so we’re slowly for showily tapping it across the United States.
PI: What was your experience been like recording as an independent artist? Are you still one today or have you signed with a record label?
DC: I am still an independent artist. All independent artist can vouch for Is, you have to have a hunger and a strong work ethic as an independent artist because everything comes from out of your own pocket. It’s not easy to be told “NO” everyday or to get your music pick apart on YouTube or where ever else. It’s hard. When my first album came out I was blessed to be booking shows, and getting exposure from interviews. It’s was not easy to maintain a lot of stuff, get your music played when you still have a regular full time job to go to. It’s not easy to listen to folks tell you that you’re not good enough, or that you don’t look good enough or that your abs and body aren’t’ tight and so forth. It’s a lot to get beat up every day but you have to move on because you have to realize there’s a bigger goal. The bigger goal is to do everything you can to make it in the music industry.
PI: You’re from Piscataway NJ. What was it like to grow up?
DC: Growing up was a cool. My mom was a single mom and my grandparents were ten minutes away. They all raised me.
PI: Oh shit! That means that you have to have things your way or else!
DC: (LAUGHS) You have to keep a good thing going, why stop? (LAUGHS) It used to be that way but now that I am older I have to do stuff for myself. (LAUGHS) I had a real good child hood I had lots of friends. I will say this about this business; you do have to keep a good circle around you. There are a lot of people that I am not friends with anymore. The music industry is a cut throat industry and you really start to find out who you’re friends really are. I am the type of person who believed in hiring friends figuring that once I made it, we all did. I had to leave some folks by the way because they could not separate business from friendships.
PI: What are you working on right now in the studio?
DC: I’ve just completed my second project called “The Reign.” Right now I am doing everything to promote it. I am performing, doing interviews and trying to get the album out there. I am also writing for music for a company out there. I cannot talk about right now, we will see.
PI: How do you challenge yourself as an artist?
DC: With the second project I went some very personal challenges. It’s a challenge because when you’re releasing a song you’re putting it out there for the whole world to hear. After you’ve put out a song you wait and wait for a response; the waiting can be crazy. The response could be that you’ve put out a horrible song. For me it was real challenge for me to get deep and sing from real experiences. I took the chance and did it anyway.
PI: What do you mean by going personal?
DC: I’ve lost friends who stabbed me in the back so I wrote about that in a song called “Broken.” I wrote about a bad relationship so the song was about getting played. I wrote about everything in the album so if you want to know about me then go and download my album. It’s on Amazon, ITunes and most important importantly it’s on my website.