MU: Many fans to this day know you best for being the voice of Jem/Jerrica in the 1980s cartoon, “Jem and the Holograms.” How would you say that this has shaped your career and is there another career path you may have taken had you not had that opportunity?
SN: It was such a wonderful treat to get to play JEM and now to be reliving it all again with it being back on TV and DVD for a brand new generation of viewers is really fun. For a while I didn’t realize how big the show actually was. I had no clue how many fans all over the world there are. At the time it was just a wonderful job I got to show up for, working with some of the best voice-over talent in the business. After Jem I was perusing music in Los Angeles, it wasn’t until I got on the internet one day and googled Jem and the holograms, I was totally blown away to see that it had crossed over into a Pop Culture type status with celebrity homage and millions of fans all over the world. It has shaped my career especially in the last few years in the sense of finding my nitch and my target fan base for my music. As far as another career path, I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I have wanted to do this since childhood and it’s never left me. I would have maybe gone to college and studied a myriad of different things, moved to Paris married and had a bunch of children – that could have possibly lit me up – but music and this business is such a part of which I am it’s hard to imagine a different path now.
MU: Many industry professionals I talk with note the changes in the industry particularly in the last decade. What would you say are the pros vs. the cons of how the industry has changed since the 1980s?
SN: Whereas an artist’s only avenue for success was the ever elusive big record deal, the tides really started to turn when the internet and social media took off. Suddenly if you were smart, you could create a substantial fan base for yourself and keep all of your profit instead of being owned by a big machine and being in debt to them. Labels obviously do still have the power to take a career into the stratosphere but artists like Ani Difranco were being courted by labels back in the beginning of all of this and she was saying “why would I give you 90% of my work when I’m doing great all on my own and I own everything”. Artists were starting to be able to have full time careers doing music by being marketing savvy themselves.
It’s like a backdoor opened and gave indie artists a shot that would never have been looked at twice by a record label because they were not video friendly or too old or whatever small box you have to fit in by label standards. It started to give really talented people a real chance to have the fans decide their worth and run their own business and have control of their own careers. The downside is that now the field has become saturated because everyone can make a record for not too much money on their computer and distribute it on the web and no one buys CD’s anymore so you have to find creative ways to earn because people expect their music for free. It’s just about using all of the changes to your advantage in clever ways and making yourself stand out from the millions of indie artists with a record promoting it independently.
MU: I’ve asked a few people this question, but I’m interested in getting different points of views on this issue. Being that you have worked extensively in the independent and mainstream realms (and the entertainment industry in general), do you feel that there is a sort of disconnect in how people tend to view the industry vs. how it really works? I ask this because the mainstream media tends to saturate us with stories of the so-called ‘overnight successes’, the American Idols, the reality tv ‘stars’, etc. Do you think that such images tend to give (especially) young people a rather unrealistic view of becoming the ‘next big thing’?
SN: I don’t mind American Idol, the business can be real tough and if it can give someone a shot and a career who would have been slugging it out for 100 years in the clubs and they are truly talented then that’s awesome. But there is a lot to be said for paying your dues and working on your craft and growing as an artist and that you can’t do overnight. I do think there is a big difference between celebrity and people who are really in this for the music. When reality stars decide to make a record just because they are in the spotlight but that’s the only reason then it’s pretty gross. I don’t think I will ever be able to wrap my brain around the people who think they can sing fabulously and yet they are completely tone deaf and their families are even in denial because they are all so addicted to the idea of fame and quick money they will believe anything if they think they can have a piece of it, it’s really bizarre to see that. We have dumbed ourselves down absolutely with the quality of what is put out there in the media for the most part. “Snooky” and her friends making $20,000 to walk a red carpet are sending a pretty bad message to kids.
MU: So what type of projects have you taken on since “Jem and the Holograms” wrapped?
SN: I did lots of on camera and radio voice-over spots during and after Jem. I got to play the British voice of the young Peter Pans mother in the the feature film “Hook”. I played all over Los Angeles in different incarnations of solo projects and bands. Sang on some popular game titles like “God of war”, “Twisted Metal black” and “Everything or nothing”. I’ve done a ton of session work in many genres for different songwriters and producers and worked hard to be able to place my own original songs in film/TV projects. One thing that was a special job for me was working with Leonard Cohen as a back-up singer for a project in late 2006. To be in that camp singing that material was a big career highlight. I just released my second album called “Somethin’ Good” which was produced by my good friend Dave Polich (Keyboard programmer for Michael Jackson’s This is it tour). I’m really excited now to be working with a talented MD on my live show right now so that I can start touring and promoting this record.
MU: How would you describe your new album release, “Somethin Good”?
SN: It’s actually a really fun record, very glittery, electric synth pop. The songs are pretty sexy and I wrote all the songs for the record on my Mac in Garageband and demo’s for them myself which was a great experience for me. I can’t wait to put my live show together for this album and feel that vibe with an audience. I’m really in a cool place right now with the energy of this record, I hope to share it with the Jem fans all over the world and make some new music fans along the way too.
MU: What would you say to a young person trying to break into this industry?
SN: I know what is feels like to be a kid with a head and a heart full of dreams but I honestly had no clue what I was really in for as far as this industry. You have to be prepared for endless rejection and that is never easy. What really separates the winners from the losers is tenacity and consistency and of course talent. Money can buy you a lot but it can’t buy real talent, so make sure you have really taken the temperature of what you have to bring to the table in a real honest way. I always have tried to work with people that were steps ahead of me so I could learn and watch and listen to people that had already been successful on the path I wanted to travel. There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance, the talented people I look up to are humble and gracious and just let their work speak for them, that goes a long way to building really great relationships in this business. I would also say it’s imperative to have integrity and be your word and be professional. Learn as much about the ever-changing business of the music “Business” that will help you makes good choices and most of all enjoy the ride and have fun, its music after all.
Thanks Samantha! 🙂
Tiffany Apan is an award winning and acclaimed independent recording artist along with being a stage/film actress, producer, and writer. You can find more about her at her Official Website , Web Blog, MySpace , Twitter , and Facebook . She can also be found on IMDb and her music releases on CDBaby along with iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers. She also writes for the publications Rogue Cinema and Horrornews.net . She is also responsible for starting up the Music’s Underworld Webzine .