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"Mini Diva" Erin Hamilton Jams with NAJM

NAJM Dance Culture
"Mini Diva" Erin Hamilton's "One World" is taking the dance floor by storm! Erin took a few moments out of her daily grind to chat with NAJM about her unexpected successes just before appearing on the Rosie O'Donnell Show!
NAJM:  First of all, thanks for taking the time to chat with us Erin, have you been to the NAJM site yet?  

 

EH:  I’ve logged on to your site quite a few times already. I absolutely adore it! I think it’s one of the best sites I’ve seen!
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) NAJM:  Really?
EH:  Yeah, it is.  It’s really a good site. 
NAJM:  We really appreciate that.
EH:  I think it’s fabulous, and you guys have treated me really well on it.
NAJM:  We’re happy to hear that and we definitely appreciate you as an artist as well as your music. You’ve sung a lot of jazz and blues throughout your career. Why have you turned to dance music?
EH:  It was such an accident. I was actually in the process of recording like an R & B album and was driving down the street one day when Gary Wright’s “Dreamweaver” came on the radio. The original version was kind of light and fluffy, and I thought that it would be great if we funked it up a little bit and added some hard guitars. I wanted to make it a real alternative kind of song and tag it on the end of my album. My producer at the time was not really interested in doing a cover, so he handed it over to his friend, Scott Anderson, who in turn ended up producing my album “One World”. Scott was very involved in the dance circuit and he said, “let’s make it a dance song”. I was completely floored. The last dance song I think I heard I think was ‘We are Family”. I didn’t even know dance music was still out there. Scott said just trust me. We’ll just play with it and have fun. We recorded it in my basement and I forgot about it. Next thing I know I’m getting calls from people in charge of circuit parties all around the country. Before I knew it, I was being flown all over the place to perform this 8-minute song in front of 5,000 gorgeous men dancing with their shirts off! And I thought this is for me!
NAJM:  There you go.
EH:  So it turned out to be fun. I thought this one song would die and that would be the end of it. Then the label wanted another single, and another single and finally we decided to do a whole album. I’m having a great time.
NAJM:  So it was totally by accident? It wasn’t planned?
EH:  Yes.

Family Ties

NAJM: You have some really neat aspects about your family life, which is I’m sure something that you are always asked about. Has your family helped you to become the artist that you are today?
EH:  I think it’s pretty natural to say of course they have. I’m extremely fortunate to have been brought up in the type of environment that spawned a lot of creative qualities. Watching my mom’s show (The Carol Burnett Show) for 11 years and being in the presence of my father who was brilliant jazz musician, I think it definitely inspired me to do this type of work. Everyone is really supportive and wanting to help out in any way they can.
NAJM:  Has your mom given you any performing advice?
EH:  I think the best thing she told me was how to deal with my incredible stage fright. Once I get on stage, I’m fine. But it’s that 40 minutes sitting backstage that I think I’m going to pass out. She told me to take myself out of the situation and realize who I am performing for. It’s for the people who are out there, you know. I always have a good time while I am up there, so if I can forget about myself and realize that there are people out there for a show and looking for a good time as well, then it really does help.
NAJM:  You’re a mom.  How do you juggle being a mom and your career?
EH:  It’s not easy. I mean he’s 3 now and he’s gotten used to it at an early age. The time I spend here in LA is very much quality time – it’s our time 100%. I travel every weekend so we just kind of work it out. He looks at me and he says, “mommy’s going to sing just like Cher”. He watches VH1 and he’s a huge Madonna fan. He knows what it is, he used to grab onto my leg and say. “don’t go” and now it’s like okay, “bye”. He’s okay with it. I hope when he gets older he can come with me and check it out.
NAJM:  Who are your musical influences and who in the dance music industry do you respect the most?
EH:  I draw from a lot of different things. I grew up in the jazz and show tune environment. I’m the youngest of 11 kids, and they were listening to the Beatles, the Stones, Who and this and that. There were so many different music influences. Music as a whole was very inspiring. When I started getting into dance music, I had to do a lot of homework to do. I had to realize who was out there, who the remixers were. I think that Madonna’s last album was fabulous! I also love and respect Cher tremendously. I think Amber, Abigail, Deborah Cox are all incredibly talented.
NAJM:  Your naming some of the big hitters, we love them all.
EH:  Yeah. I love them all. I’d love to work with Victor Calderone, and Hex Hector. I am hoping to bring out my own style of music through people who understand this type of music even more. I think the two together can make something really different and interesting.
NAJM:  When you recorded “Dreamweaver”, did you have any expectation for it? Did you ever think that it would lead to a full dance album?
EH:  Honest to God, I didn’t know that Scott was going to record it. I didn’t know that he goes out the clubs and that he has relationships with the DJ’s. I really just forgot about it. When I started getting these calls telling me that it’s on the playlist, it’s on Billboard, it really blow me away. So I really had no expectations at all. I didn’t know what was going to happen.
NAJM:  How did you connect with Traxx Recordings?
EH:  It was through “Dreamweaver” actually. Scott took it to the House of Blues out here (in LA). They have one dance night a month there on a Sunday. The DJ, Manny was friends with Scott. Brett Hendrickson, who owns Trax Recording, was in the audience when the DJ gave it a spin on Scott’s request. Brett heard it and came up to the DJ and asked who it was and where he could get it. Scott just said it’s my friend and I, and Brett said, “let’s release it”.
NAJM:  That’s exactly how it’s supposed to work. Great talent should always prevail!
EH:  It was pretty magical.

One World is Out of this World!

NAJM:  How much creative input did you have in the new album, “One World?”
EH:  I co-wrote 4 songs and I was there through a lot of the production. This was all of our first record; Scott, Tommy, and Marco and Brett and myself. It was just like we flew by the seats of our pants, just trying to do as much as we could. It’s not an easy process.
NAJM:  The album “One World” turned out phenomenal.
EH:  That’s so nice to hear.
NAJM:  It’s is one of the best albums that we own, probably in the Top 10. Where do you come up with the ideas for your songs?
EH:  I draw a lot of inspiration from the people that I am working with. On the track “Sweet Angel” we had written a whole different song for the music. I really was not happy with the lyrics, and we only had like 4 hours to finish it as far as our studio time was concerned. Scott just turned to me and said that he was going to leave me alone and close the door. He showed me how record and rewind works and said, “just think about your son”. Within a half-hour the song was recorded. I don’t fancy myself as a lyricist at all. I hear music and I hear melodies and I know what it is that I want to hear. But when it comes to the lyrics, I have a really difficult time expressing myself unless it’s something like that – that feels so inspiring. I just feel that I am lucky to work with Tommy and Scott who gave me a lot of creative input and insight on how to make these things work.
NAJM:  How important is it for artists to write their own material?
EH:  I think it’s really important. It’s really hard for me to get up on stage and sing “The Flame” like I mean it. I love the song and I have a good time with it, but you’re really not involved with the writing how can it really be believable? I’m getting more and more involved in the stuff that I am doing now.
NAJM: NAJM stands for No Attitude Just Music – the attitude is a really big part of what we believe in, keeping a good attitude. You’re enjoying some deserved success not only here in South Florida, but nationwide with the release of the album and the single – how does one keep their attitude in check and still stay on the positive side of diva?
EH:  Well, diva to me sounds so negative. People tell me that I’m a diva, and I’m like, “my god, don’t say that!” I also just think that it means a female solo artist, so I try to look at it like that. I think that I am really lucky to have grown up with someone like my mom. I watched her and how she approached things and the people in her life and people that worked with her and for her. Your talent is going to take you to a certain level, but if you don’t have some sort of personable quality about you, people aren’t going to want to work with you. I appreciate everybody that is in my life so much; I don’t want to lose any of that.

Big Voice, "Mini" Diva!

NAJM:  I guess we’ll call you a “Mini-Diva” instead?
EH:  Yeah right. I could go for that.
NAJM:  Your album “One World” is absolutely phenomenal. We ranked it high because we felt that it was extremely. Do you think some aspects of dance music are becoming “unmusical” with no chord progressions or discernable melodies?
EH:  Over the summer I thought there was so much good club music out there. A lot of it has to do with our DJ’s. There are some brilliant DJ’s out there who really know how to work a crowd – and know how to work certain music and mixes and so on. As far as the lack of dance albums out there, I think the reason why dance artists get such a bad rap is because they aren’t taking chances and becoming edgier. They are sticking to more of a formula that they know has worked for a long time. It’s unfortunate because in Europe dance music is very well celebrated. I’d like for us to get the same respect here in the States. We as dance artists need put a little more personal feeling and edge into it. Dance music can be construed as just 128 beats per minute, but I’d like for people to take it more seriously. In order for the listener to take it more seriously I think our artists need to take it more seriously.
NAJM:  We saw you perform at the Billboard Dance Summit in Atlanta last summer. You were great. We had such a good time at the showcases. It was an intimate setting with artist right after the other. Is performing at a showcase like that (where there are a lot of industry people present), different than performing strictly for fans in a club?
EH:  Yes. I think it is. In Atlanta it was sort of a mixed crowd, they had a lot of a general audience. But it was little intimidating to be there with Kristine W. backstage. I love her, she’s so amazing and it’s hard to do anything in front of your peers.
NAJM:  Been there, yeah.
EH:  So it was a little intimidating, but the suits were there with their shirts off.
NAJM:  Yes, lots of skin that night. Do you plan to tour with the new album, specifically South Florida?
EH:  It would be great to get on the bandwagon like as an opening act for somebody like Cher, I think that would be fabulous but I think I have to pay a lot more dues and get a lot more work under my belt before being offered something like that. Right now the only tour I can do is with the single release and that’s pretty much just club gigs.
NAJM:  You’ve played several times in Miami – will you returning to the Winter Music Conference in March?
EH:  I would love to! I did the Winter Music Conference last year, but it was like 6 am in the morning after Bette Midler that I performed. It was pretty tragic, by that hour no one is really listening anyway. I love the whole South Beach/Miami vibe. I think it’s really, really fun. If they wanted me to come back I’d definitely come!
NAJM: Do you have any special words for the dance music hopefuls out there?
EH:  Think positive and make really good, happy music and people will groove and have a good time and celebrate life and that’s what it’s all about.

Erin Singing the Blues?

NAJM:  Any other types of music you would like to experience or cover?
EH:  Yeah, I’m doing some jazz gigs here in LA in February. I’m doing Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday songs, stuff like that. Some people have a hard time crossing over. I’d like to blow that whole fašade. I’d like to do a lot of things like put out a pop or funk record, but you have to do it slowly in order to take your fan base with you and for people to accept what you do.
NAJM:  You got a big road ahead of you, but I am sure that you will travel it well.
EH:  Thank you.
NAJM:  Erin, we want to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule. Have a great year and the best for “One World”.
EH:  Hope to see you at the Winter Music Conference.
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Check out NAJM's Reviews on ONE WORLD and THE TEMPLE!

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