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Sean Penn & Daughter Dylan Explore a Family In Turmoil In “Flag Day”

Flag Day
Director:Sean Penn
Cast: Sean Penn, Dylan Penn

Actor/director/producer/progressive activist Sean Penn has always been a mixed bag to the public, critics and the film industry. Ever since he made his early appearances in such films as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Bad Boys,” he’s often played characters with serious inner conflicts. His ability to encompass both the good and bad of his characters has led him to win various accolades such as 74 award wins and 108 nominations which includes two Oscars

Born in Los Angeles, Sean Justin Penn is the second son of actress Eileen Ryan (née Annucci) and director, actor, and writer Leo Penn. His brothers are musician Michael and the late actor Chris. His father is of Lithuanian Jewish/Russian heritage, and his mother is half Italian and half Irish.

The 60-something has taken strong political stands and voiced his opinions in ways that have abraided some. But he’s also put his views into action such as forming an organization to help survivors of the devastating earthquake in Haiti a few years back.

Besides acting, he has turned to directing including the awards-nominated film, “In The Wild.” Now, he’s turned to not only directing but acting in “Flag Day,” his latest cinematic effort. Besides that difficult task, he’s added another challenge in making the film by casting his 30-year-old daughter Dylan to play his character John Vogel’s daughter Jennifer.

Based on the book “Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father's Counterfeit Life” by author Jennifer Vogel, this movie describes, from the daughter’s viewpoint, what it’s like to grow up with a father who can’t cope with conventional life either as a husband or father. Though he tries to stay on the straight-and- narrow, he instead turns to crime while trying to prove to himself and family he’s capable of surviving and thriving.

Given Penn’s passion for this film, he conducted multiple Q&As at various screenings — including this one — to promote it.

Q: You gave Dylan the book when she was 15. Did you have an idea at that moment that you would want her to play Jennifer? Was that in your mind or was it like, this is a great book, I want her to read it?

dylSP: I was first presented with the screenplay before I read Jennifer Vogel’s beautiful memoir. I should say it was Jez Butterworth’s adaptation of the book. I was probably no further in than page 30 [when] Dylan’s face was imprinted on it to me — imprinted in a way that there was no going back. It was either I would make it with her or I wouldn’t make it. This was long before I considered acting and directing in it.

Q: You thought you would just direct? What made you decide that you would also act? It’s your first movie to do both things at the same time, right?

SP: This movie had its own journey, and there were times where I would just direct it, and then there were times where we would just act in it together. But the "we" always had to be "her'' and the "she" was not initially enthusiastic at the idea of doing this movie.

Q: Dylan, Initially you weren't sure that it was something that you wanted to take on. What was your journey?

DP: I loved the story. I read the book when I was 15 and the first time [dad] came to me he said it was basically a "fuck-down.” I always wanted to be in film but I wanted to be behind the camera. I expressed that I wanted to direct and write. I was like 18 when both my parents — on separate occasions — told me that I shouldn’t set foot on a set as a director unless I knew what it's like to act. So that initially got me into auditioning. I did little bit parts here and there, and then it came back around. It felt like [it was] too good of a world to only have half of it. I also had more like 15 years of life experience, almost, to refer to color Jennifer's territory.

Q: You could not have played that part at 15. 

DP: No.

Q: What was the first instance when you felt that your daughter is really good and can do this?

SP: It was around the center block in the kitchen in the house where she and her brother grew up. She would come back from school and tell stories to her mother and I about her day, and embody the characters of those stories. And it was never a kind of mimicry. It was [like] you met the people. You knew who they were. And later when we met one, we knew exactly who that was.

I always knew it, and to take that to somebody coming to work with written lines, hitting marks and all that, I put off that thought altogether, but I was convinced that she would be great.

But it wasn't until she was great, which was the first day of shooting, when one of my crew members looked up after they saw what she did with the first take, and he just said "What the…”

We all knew we were on to something exciting because it's Jennifer's story and to have [Dylan] play it is electric. So what happened at that point when I saw that I was right [I said to myself], "I was?” In other words, as exciting and thrilling as it is, the biggest part of it was relief. It was, “Thank God I didn't set my daughter up for failure." I hadn't thought about that. 

flag posterOne of the things she sometimes leaves out of the story is when she's talking about being reluctant. She was definitely one of these young people who came from the school of thought that it’s actually a ludicrous notion to be an adult playing dress-up as a job. And while she came to have her own respect for it -- which she can talk about -- a formidable respect for what it can be, I think it also is that part of that initial thinking of it as ridiculous that has that quality that is so totally without contrivance. She doesn't come to wink at the audience or to curry favor. She thinks the thoughts and lets you watch her face think them.  It's what every actor strives to do, and I think she does it beautifully. 

Q: How did you go from a "No" to “Sure, Dad, I'd love to carry your movie”?

DP: It was a big step. I mean, he's right. I should have said earlier that once I did these parts here and there and started auditioning and getting rejected, my respect for actors just went through the roof. I realized, “Wow, this is not as ridiculous as I thought it was.” After auditioning for so many bad roles, reading this script again felt like a dream for any actor. So who am I to pass this up? 

Although it was pleasant to work with him, for most children who work professionally with their parents, it could be great or be a disaster.  Fortunately, it was great with Dad. 

Q: About that first day on the set, when did you have the revelation that this is going to work? What was the first scene you did? What was it like for you to step into that role and have your dad behind the camera, but also be in front of the camera playing your dad? 

DP: The first scene we did together was in the Chinese restaurant and I was really nervous that day. It's an emotional scene, and I knew it was going to be really intense — and it was. But as soon as I sat down in our booth and they called, “Action,” I felt so at ease and also felt something that I did not expect: I felt like it was so playful. Obviously, as an actor [my dad] gives so much to play with, so much to react to, and I often say that he allows for that chemistry to play as well. I just had so much fun with him, so as an actor it was the greatest thing you could ask for. 

Q: When you're sitting at that table and looking at your dad at that moment, is there a separation there? 

DP: Rarely. It's always going to be “my dad” at the end of the day. But it's specifically when I saw the scene where I see him kill himself. I hadn't seen that footage until the day of, so that's actually my real reaction. If you can imagine seeing your father look up at the camera and shoot himself in the head, it's a lot. But also, it's her thing because this is Jennifer's story, it's not mine. But yes, I can see my dad through John. 

Q: Sean, you were watching her watch that, what was it like for you?

SP: Watching her watch that scene? There were several instances where I felt that in asking her to go into those emotional places, I should call Child Protective Services on myself. It took me a little while to get comfortable with the fact that she wanted to explore those things as much as any actor is driven to do. 

There was a key moment when she came away from her first meeting with Jennifer Vogel. And while we approached this with Jennifer's encouragement and her acceptance of a lot of poetic license, I think the book, which everyone should read, is a standalone. This [film] is the kind of an expression from aspects of that. But I think that it was very strengthening for Dylan to spend time with Jennifer. I think that among the many ways in which you have a lot of partners as a director to establish the comfort or the confidence of your actors, she was an essential partner in that. 

Q: Did you two ever butt heads? 

SP: I'm going to say yes, because I know if I don't, she will -- this is one time I'm going to get ahead of her on the truth.


DP: Honestly, it wasn't a lot, but we did have a two-hour standoff about whether I would or wouldn't wear mascara for a certain scene. Sounds about right. He won. 

SP: And I won "no mascara" for the scene. 

Q: To try and be truth-telling about someone who was such a liar — how do you respect the truth of the story and how much poetic license do you take?

SP: The funny thing is that whether it's reading the book or Jez's screenplay, as a filmmaker, you're struck with an impression that becomes your interpretation. Now, there are certain processes and movies where you might approach it, for ethical reasons as much as anything else, in really trying to get the facts straight in a very literal way. But this had gone from a faith that Jennifer had in Jez to a faith that Jez and [producer William] Horberg initially had in me. Then it became a kind of family of those supporting the impression that I had. That's the direction we went with, rather than just try to get everything [on screen] as some kind of factual history.

seanQ: And then there’s the music — how did you come to work with such people as Glen Hansard, Eddie Vetter -- his daughter sang the "Father's Daughter" song which is super cool -- and Cat Power? When did you bring them on board?

SP: I had had a great experience working with Eddie Vedder [Pearl Jam’s lead singer] on “Into the Wild” and we had become extremely close friends. Any thing I picked up to be considered by me for directing from that time on, he would be one the first [people to] call and say, "Read this, see if you get a musical impression out of it." 

In this case, he was the closest American voice I knew as a songwriter who could reflect this story. He was also a man, and “Into the Wild” is a reflected subconscious of the male character.

This is a female-generated story -- it has a little yin-yang with the father/daughter so this would not be just one voice, but it should be dominated by a female voice. So Ed did a workshop with Glen Hansard; the two of them songwriting together came up with the beginnings of some of the songs that are here. The idea was that, for no other reason than that he had been my dependable collaborator, I hadn't thought to get any other singer-songwriter. 

I was just thinking about a female vocalist. I listened to all the best, many of whom do write, many of whom don't.  And I listened to people I've heard of and people that other people [told me about]. I couldn't find a voice that felt like the way that she as Jennifer, I felt, would move me. So we did this novel thing: I asked [Jennifer] and she suggested the first one up, Cat Power, and I listened to Cat Power who I never heard before. I said this would be great. 

I called Ed. He had worked with her, known her and called her; he curated the whole thing. And then he brought in his 16-year-old daughter, Olivia, to sing the end-tail song. But Cat ended up writing quite a lot of stuff for the film as well as singing it. 

Q: Okay. What did you two learn about each other? Did you learn anything -- that you can say in polite company?

SP: I think Dylan and I have a lot in common in a lot of ways. We both have a kind of force of will. But most of the experience on this was like you dreamt that you could walk out on the edge of a cliff together and survive, and you wake up and you're on that cliff. So it just affirmed the dream creatively in so many ways. 

As a human being, I don't know if I know her better, or less than I will tomorrow versus the day before yesterday. She's a moving target. I just know I fell in love a long, long time ago, 30 years ago, and it’s a continuum. 

DP: I can't even follow [that]. But he’s right, it just solidified the bond that I already knew we have. This is a really inappropriate parallel, but I don't know what other words to use. It feels like doing a movie with somebody is like going into battle. So I do feel that we survived it together. 

Q: But will you do it again?

DP: I want to reverse the roles [and direct].

From Street Performer to Artist on the World’s Stage, Carlos Battey Transforms into Jackie’s Boy And Become His Own Record Mogul

Interview by Brad Balfour

When the pandemic hit, musicians were blessed and cursed at the same time. On the one hand, it shut down opportunities for live performance before paying audiences. On the other hand, it freed up songwriters, instrumentalists and singers to have more time to create. Carlos Battey is one of those musical creators whose tour was halted but the songwriting never stopped. Now that the lock-down is opening up, he’s releasing three EPs and getting back out there. Titled The Show, The After-Party and The Hotel, the three offer intriguing conceptual possibilities
. That makes him a perfect subject to spotlight in light of this being African American Music Appreciation Month. This annual celebration was initiated as Black Music Month by President Jimmy Carter who, on June 7, 1979, decreed that the month would be the month of Black music. In 2009, the commemoration was given its current name by President Barack Obama.

As Battey explained, “Yes, these three EPs will be connected conceptually. It’s a way of showing fans the evolution of the three stages in a show in musical form. This is my first time doing this. They won’t all come out at once. They’re spread out over the course of a year.

“Eventually there will be vinyl but not at the moment. Due to the pandemic, things are slowly getting back to normal and we are looking to prepare for touring the fourth quarter of 2021 and into first quarter of 2022. Before the pandemic I had sold out shows in Las Vegas and Southern California. Prior to this, the first release of Big Circle Music Group — launched January 2020 — was called ‘Do it Again’ featuring Shawn Stockman from the iconic group Boyz II Men.”

But there’s more to the 30-something than being another singer/songwriter. Born in Savannah, Georgia, Battey became known as Jackie’s Boy after he formed a group with his brother called Jackie Boyz. He had fallen in love with music at the age of 10 and the boys started performing shortly thereafter on Savannah’s Piers on River Street — much like the buskers found on Dublin’s streets. This Southerner then embarked on his musical journey and went on to write several #1 hit records, has received four Grammy nominations, sold over 18 million albums and won a Grammy in 2011 for Madonna’s best remix recording “Revolver” featuring Lil Wayne.

Q: Describe your origins.

CB: I started out as just a street performer; me and my brother sang together on Savannah’s streets and in Los Angeles. We fought through the thick and thin, had no home and had to sleep in cars. I’ve had some rough moments and managed to achieve some things.

Q: When you write songs about people, do you have real people in mind?

CB: I write a range of songs, starting with experiences I’ve dealt with in my own life. But I tend to look for thoughts that might be a bit unique, off the beaten path. Sometimes another artist hears it and might say, “Oh man, I didn’t think of this.” And then my song takes on a life of its own with someone else.

A song I wrote called “Down to Earth” ended up being recorded by Justin Bieber. It was based on my marriage falling apart. I wrote it from the viewpoint of my daughter, being in the middle as she watched her mother and father slowly distance themselves from each other.

“Mama, you were always somewhere
And Daddy, I live out of town
So tell me how could I ever be
Normal somehow?”

The chorus goes:

“So it’s up to you
And it’s up to me
Better we meet in the middle
On our way back down to earth”

It says that we have to come together for the sake of our child. Thanks to my friends Midi Mafia — a Los Angles-based production team —  Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun heard the song and immediately loved it. Scooter told me in a phone call that Justin was going through the same thing with his parents and it would be great to change a few things.

Back then, Justin was about 13 years old and no one had heard of him. I was touched by Scooter’s belief in Justin so I agreed. The result was one of Justin’s most popular early projects.

So that’s an example of writing a song with real people in mind.  I’ve found that a good song doesn’t stay quiet. It jumps from person to person to person and I’m glad it found its way to Justin.

On the other hand, here’s an example of a song without having someone in mind. I wrote a song for Madonna called “Revolver.” That song came from me wanting to write something sexy and sassy. It came from  one of those 3 AM sessions — you know, where you want to go home and you’re really tired — but my dear friend, Brandon Kitchens, who was an Atlantic Records junior A&R guy, told me, “Hey! Do one more idea.” So I stayed in the studio and that one more idea became “Revolver.”

Q: How were The Jackie Boyz discovered?

CB: We spent four years singing on Hollywood Boulevard before being signed as songwriters by Universal Music Publishing. People would ask us, “What were we doing with our music?” We never gave writing songs for other people a thought until Brandon told us to come to the studio. We ended up writing our first record “Sugar” for an artist called Flo Rida. It was the first record we ever wrote and it went #3 on Hot 100 and sold 1.5 million copies. Right after Flo Rida, we collaborated on that 2009 single “Revolver“ and won our first Grammy at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards

That song ended up being shopped around to different artists.  Madonna was the one who heard the song and said, “Hey, I love this and want to record it.”  I didn’t get a chance to meet Madonna in person.

Q: What’s the song about?

CB: “Revolver” is sexy. Basically the chorus says, “My love’s a revolver. My sex is a killer.  Do you wanna die happy?”

Q: What inspired you to do that?

CB: I saw a John Legend poster called “Evolver” for one of his albums in 2009. I immediately thought, “That’s a really cool title.” It gave me the idea to write a song called “Revolver”.  My ideas started to flow and I kept the thought in my phone for about a year. Then I wrote the track and the song came out and won a Grammy in 2010. It was a life-changer.

Q:  How do you know when a song should be uptempo or more balladic?

CB: When the song’s content is deeper with more meaning, I tend to write a ballad. When I have more words to get across, a slower tempo allows me to do that.

cb2When I’m just trying to have fun and not think, the song will be more uptempo. It still needs to be clever and have something that makes people want to listen to it consistently.

But for me, if I know there’s something to say that’s really heartfelt – and going back to “Down to Earth” — it was a ballad. Because I had a lot to say. And it couldn’t be expressed in just two and a half minutes.

Q: So what’s one of the favorite ballads you’ve ever written?

CB: One of my favorites is one I wrote for Candice Glover. She won “American Idol” in 2013. It’s a song called “Forever That Man” and was released in February, 2014. When you find that one person, they’re forever.

As the chorus puts it:
“The way that the moon meets the stars at night
Baby, it’s something you can’t deny
I’m taking that chance
Grab you by the hand
And you’ll be forever
Forever that man”

That’s probably my favorite ballad. My dear friend Ian Pirie who was working with Atlantic Records, the production company for “American Idol” –  was a fan of songs that I’d written and asked if I could sit and meet with the contestants.

I went over to their studios in L.A. and met with each of the top five contestants. It was a chance to learn their personalities and who they were as people, potentially to create songs for them.

Well, Candice won and we wrote this R&B song together. The first one out of the gate was “Forever That Man.” I feel like a songwriter’s job is to listen and understand where the artist is in life – where they want to go and what they’re feeling.

What I got from the interview was her wanting to find love. She was single at the time and wanted someone who could basically change her world. That’s how “Forever That Man” came about and was on her first album, “Music Speaks.”

Q: How much does the arrangement reflect the original intent of a song or is it meant to transform it?

CB: The arrangement, to me, has importance at the beginning of writing a song. Of course, some of the producers I work with may change things around. They might change our instruments, for example. But I feel like the magic is in the first session — the first half-hour or hour. And to me, everything after that is just polishing.

I can play the piano but not as a touring performer. I think my main forte is top-lining the lyrics and melody.

One song of mine where I feel the arrangement matches its intent is one I was part of with Chris Brown called “Graffiti.” It was produced by Cool & Dre — a production duo out of Miami.

When I got asked to come down and work with Chris, it was right after the domestic violence case with Rihanna in 2009. The producer played me this aggressive rock track and immediately I thought about wanting to prove a point, wanting to say something that hadn’t been said. I knew the title of his album was going to be Graffiti. So I used the opportunity to write “Graffiti” as a title track that basically expresses how remorseful a person like Brown can be with no ability to erase his history from memory in what today we call “cancel culture.”

Chris knew he was growing as a man and becoming a better person. He’s contributed a lot to music and I knew first-hand that he was remorseful about the Rihanna incident. But the song’s is that the graffiti from our past always remains on the wall and cannot be erased:

“But it’s already written on the wall
You can’t cover it up, you can’t cover it up (Woah)
But it’s already written on the wall
You can’t cover it up, you can’t cover it up (Yeah, yeah)”

The intensity of that record meant so much with the lyric and melody.  I consider that arrangement a great marriage. I always think that the production of a song should be an enhancement to its intent, not a distraction that conveys a different message.

Q:  What’s the back story to the “Jackie’s Boy” name?

CB: Me and my brother called ourselves the Jackie Boyz because our mother’s name was Jackie. She passed away in 2004 from leukemia. As time went on, I wanted to pursue my own music career as a solo artist. Her name has always rung out to me and will always be with me, no matter what.  She deserves my recognition because she was always supportive of everything I’ve done.

cb3She had two or three different jobs at once as a single mother. She worked as an attendant for the school bus system. She looked after special needs children on the bus. In the evenings she would clean offices. My mother was not only a hard worker but one of the smartest and strongest women I’ve ever known

She had me when she was 20. She and my father divorced about six years later. He had his own demons to fight. Meanwhile, my mom continued to take great care of her three kids – myself and my two younger brothers. She always thought about our needs first.

Q: Do you envision your songs as inter-related or as stand-alone creations?

CB: Some are interrelated and others aren’t. I tend to create my EPs that way, like this one coming out this summer – The Show – in which all the songs are interrelated. It’s being launched by my own record label, Big Circle Music Group.

One track is a single released in April called “No Life Guard.”  Another one coming out is called “Therapy Session.”  Each song there connects to the others. It’s not just that they’re all in the R&B genre but each also reflects a truth-telling story about my life and what I’ve experienced.

This particular album was inspired by Jodeci, a powerhouse R&B quartet from North Carolina. They had a project in 1995 called The Show, the After-Party, The Hotel. I titled my EP The Show partly as an homage to them but also to let the listener know to expect a certain type of music throughout.  I’m already planning these other EPs and all the tracks in each will reflect a certain type of music. On the other hand, songs that I write for other individual artists tend to be standalone.

Q: What makes you decide a song should be collaborative?

CB: Sometimes another songwriter’s voice inspires me to work with that person or team. At other times, I might conclude on a certain song, that I’ve gone as far as I can and realize I can use another perspective. If I feel I’ve exhausted my creative ideas for a song, I’ll reach out to someone else with a fresh point of view. An example is a song called “For Real Though.” It’s about a guy approaching a girl to say he’d like to get to know her. I wanted to get a female take on the idea so I turned to songwriter and artist Mickey Shiloh.

Q: How does the process of collaborating go?

CB: I’ll give you an example of a song that means a lot to me. The title is “Back to Love” and it came about when Bentley Records connected me to writer Mike Greenly and a production team, MotiVibes. Decades ago, Mike was a corporate guy who realized he’d be happier using his special gift for words as a freelancer with more time for writing lyrics. That’s his passion and Bentley introduced us.

When Mike interviewed me for possible song ideas in my head, I simply started sharing my observations about the world we live in these days. We’re completely polarized as a society, with different sides automatically lined up against each other. That’s not who the United States of America was envisioned to become. It’s not how the world should be for the sake of us all on the planet.

I expressed my wish that we could all get “back to love.” Those were the words that came out of my mouth. Mike quickly said that he heard a song title in them, along with a very important message. The result is our song. We’d like it on the ballot for consideration by Grammy voters as “Best Contemporary Christian” song. But no matter what, I’m proud of what we’ve done together.

It gives me joy when I look ahead in hopes of many more ways and years to keep doing what I love to do. And that is creating songs and performing them for others – in hopes of being able to make a real contribution to the world.



Scott Williamson Transforms into Dub Shine & Forms A New Songwriting Partnership


On the surface, music creator Delon Scott Williamson might not seem like someone to be making hot dance music. While he inherited his computer programmer dad’s work ethic, this former Tallahassee, Florida, native re-directed it towards a readiness to make his dreams of music business success come true.

So when he’s pushing out the music he makes, he goes by the moniker Dub Shine. And why Dub Shine? As he explained, “Dub equals sparse vocals and Shine means bright tracks.”

As Dub Shine, he’s becoming a new voice on the scene, forging a bright example of a recent trend in music — a cool sound that's chill and hot simultaneously, the blend of house and deep tribal techno genres. Currently, he produces mix shows for East Coast Energy Radio, USA Dance Radio, and mix93fm. 

Said Williamson, “My Dad did computer programming so we had computers around the house and I was into gaming. He worked on PCs. These days I’m on PC and Mac.

Thanks to him, I got interested in technology and computers, so electronic music was a natural fit for me. Around age 15 -- 1983 — I also got into sci-fi movies such as “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” “Alien,” etc. and they used futuristic technologies and sounds as well.

“Early on I was influenced by electronic producers and discovered that music is my passion. I got into deejaying since I was always fascinated by electro, house and hip hop music.”

Thanks to Mike Greenly, a former corporate exec who just happens to be a lyricist, Dub Shine moved on to another level in creating a collaboration of sound and words. 

But long before that, he developed a career as a live deejay. “I got interested in radio mix shows. We used 12” vinyl back then. In my early performances, I did regular block parties with my futurebrother-in-law, Kevin Sheridan, when that kind of thing was in vogue in the mid to late ’80s. Kevin had the sound system and I had the two turntables, mixing console and my crates of records. We would throw down every summer at my apartment complex on the southside of Richmond or get hired to do parties and weddings all over the place.  

“Later on I performed at club venues (listed above) in the late 80's through the early ‘90s. At the time, separated from my first wife, my parents were living in Germany. I went to visit for a few weeks, and got job there with a German I.T. firm contracted with NATO.

“So I moved to Germany in the late ‘90s and performed as a deejay at various outdoor German festivals with German rap artists like Down Low, Freestyler, Fruendeskreis and Absolute Beginner

I teamed up with my brother Shaun (who’s four years older and became lead singer for a Southern Rock band) and super guitarist Kai Portolano and cut demos for a rap/rock project called Silver Bullet Theory. The sound was along the lines of Rage Against the Machine. We neverreallygot it off the ground but it was fun bonding with my brother, and having a great friendship with Kai who taught me so much about recording with Pro Tools and mixing instruments to sound clean and beefy in the mix.”

He continued, “I met my future wife Fiona in Heidelberg, Germany, a Kenyan-born entrepreneur. She was into the import export business and had a few clothing boutiques in Italy and Kenya at the time. We eventually got married and relocated back to the states where I soon got in contact with Curtis Urbina for releasing music on his Quark Music Group label. My first release with Curtis was ‘Disco Bitch.’Fiona has been an inspiration and helped co-produce tracks such as ‘I Am Who I Say I Am’ and ‘Egyptian Spirits’ — both of which hit the number one spot on different record pools and deejay portals.”

scottAll of that, in and of itself, might not warrant any special story other than as a footnote, but their work together has become a perfect example of the state of music creation today: these two are doing all their production remotely. They’ve never met in person, pressed the flesh or jammed in the same room. 

Dub is now based in Los Angeles; Mike is here in the heart of Manhattan. Explained Greenly, “I was introduced to Scott by Curtis Urbina, a friend and business exec now heading the Quark Music Group. He connected us in the belief that we might discover synergy, which is exactly what happened. I’ve now written lyrics to three Dub Shine tracks.”

Williamson takes up his part of the tale. “I would create original dance tracks early on with my little setup. I began collaborating with longtime musical friends and partners on a variety of projects. Eventually, I put out my first 12” record with Pacific Time Entertainment, headed by Urbina — a legend in the dance music world in his own right. This record was called ‘I Want Luv’ and was produced by myself and Tony Fernandez, a DJ/producer. We called ourselves Deep South since we were producing Deep House music tracks. 

“I also collaborated with another longtime friend of mine, Scott Baily, on an electronic music project we called Electrosonix. We released a few tracks independently and with IceMedia, plus a few remix projects for other labels in South Florida.”

Later on Urbina relaunched his classic house label, Quark Records. Quark released dozens of dance tracks over the years — including several in which Greenly had authored the lyrics. 

Williamson continued, “Through this venture I’ve met many great artists and songwriters. I have also recruited the production skills of Judd Skinner (known as Dappa Don), who is a great musician, song writer and sound engineer in Vancouver, Canada. He has worked with many huge stars in hip hop and R&B like TLC and other big names.”

Out of that came the Greenly/Williamson song, “You’re The One,” the team’s first collaboration to get released. The international music label, Bentley Records, put it out on November 4th, 2020

Headed by award-winning R&B recording artist, singer and songwriter Luca Dayz, this company has the kind of support system which lends the song a possibility of major success.

Once Williamson and Greenly started working together, they came up with tracks which begged for a good vocalist, so they sought her out online as well. Again, in this age of COVID, that work was done remotely. 

As Greenly explained, he had co-written the song with Scott and Audrey Martells, an artist and songwriter who had worked with Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige, Jewel and others. Since she was already committed to other projects, Mike created a video of her initial demo recording with his words and posted it to a private link on YouTube declaring that a singer was needed who could commit time and effort to developingthe demo further.

Rochester-based Deborah Magone saw the post and quickly responded. She fell in love with the song and, in fact, is now a partner with Scott and Mike on other songs in development. This multi-hyphenate recalled, “I was actually rushing to get off the computer for an appointment. But I saw a notification pop up on Facebook from our private Grammy group page and it looked interesting. In a rush, without even thinking, I expressed interest and asked if they could please send me the song so I could give it a listen. Then I ran out the door without giving it another thought.

“I’ve been a professional singer, songwriter, guitarist, instructor for a long time trying to go the usual route in the business. For me as a woman, the barriers can still be great and disappointing, especially in the blues rock genre I was in. So in the past few years, I’ve shifted my focus. I decided I only wanted to work with people who are doing good, positive things globally with their music.”

That decision led to her being invited to play on the soundtrack for “One Little Finger,” a multi award-winning independent film by Rupam Sarma, scored by Quincy Jones and Julian Lennon among a long list of many other talented creatives. Then came an invitation to perform in a weekend concert sponsored by the United Nations Center for Peace.

She noted, “When I heard ‘You’re The One’ I was inspired by the hook, and the positive, empowering energy of the music. I saw in my mind the song’s potential for inspiring others and the overall good feeling the song generated. I contacted them and it was, ‘Game on.’ As I learn more about these two, I discover how much we have similar goals and values. I’m looking forward to a positive, productive collaboration that will have a global impact.”

Added Dub Shine, “When I first started, vocals were sparse and under-tracked. Now working with Mike and Deborah, I enjoy full vocal tracks. I really feel that our project is a winner. It reflects top notch talent and love of the music for sure.”

Dub Shine’s list of recommended dance music makers:

  • Kraftwerk
  • John "Jellybean” Benetiz
  • Arthur Baker and  John Robie
  • Mantronix
  • Mannparish
  • Juan Atkins
  • Egyptian Lover
  • Pretty Tony
  • Maurice Starr
  • Tyrone Brunson
  • And hip hop artists:
  • Afrika Bambaattaa & The Soulsonic Force
  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
  • MC G.L.O.B.E
  • Kool Moe Dee
  • Busy B
  • Eric B & Rakim
  • Big Daddy Kane
  • Chuck D
  • MC Shan
  • KRS1


See more Dub Shine at:

Star Trek's Dominic Keating Remains An "Unbelievable" Actor Even During This Pandemic

In the Star Trek universe, British actor Dominic Keating established himself as a significant player once he joined the Star Trek: Enterprise — cast as  Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, one of its core members. As the Enterprise’s armory officer, he was in the senior command and appeared in 96 episodes where his presence was felt in this benchmark franchise. And even though it’s nearly 20 years later, his role asa 22nd century Starfleet officer serving on board Enterprise NX-01 under Captain Jonathan Archer’s (Scott Bakula) command — the first Warp 5 star ship — is as memorable as ever.

Recently, as one of those incredible alumni opportunities of being part of the greatest franchise in history is that actors from the original Star Trek, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise found themselves working with Snoop Dogg in the parody/comedy “Unbelievable!!!!!.” When it made its first appearance it featured 40+ actors who have been in some version of Star Trek — and it was created by the husband and wife team of director Steven Fawcette and producer/co-star Angelique Fawcette .

The film has been screened several times on the convention circuit and recently enjoyed day long virtual premiere/Star Trek con on Agust 1st, 2020. For more info go to Archangel Films’ website.

A long time veteran of film and television, Reed first made his name in England starring in Desmond’s, a hit Brit series. Born in Leicester, to an Irish father; his grandfather, a brigadier, was awarded an OBE. From primary school, he started acting; to obtain his Equity card, Keating worked in a drag act called Feeling Mutual. He went on from “Desmond’s” to a role in Inspector Morse, as well as other guest-starring roles.

Once he moved to the States, he became the demonic warrior Mallos on the short-lived 2000 series The Immortal. He also made guest appearances on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, G vs E and Special Unit 2 as well as on several other series prior to his role on Star Trek: Enterprise. Since then he had guest roles on other series such as the hit show Heroes for its second season playing an Irish mobster in a four episode arc. He also did three episodes on the Fox TV series Prison Break. In 2010 Keating guest starred in the FX original series Sons of Anarchy. But this list is eclipsed but his four year stint from 2001-2005, in Enterprise — a tough experience to replicate but certainly life changing and  full of insight.

Q: Doing a weirdo parody like this gave you an opportunity to play more with humor.  When you were doing “Enterprise,” you enjoyed doing a little bit with humor there as well. Was this fun, to get an opportunity to exploit your humorous side?

DK: Yeah, God bless. My first big job was a sitcom in England.  I did five years in a show called “Desmond’s” which was a huge hit there in the end. It was set in a West Indian barber shop. I played one of the “pokin' honkies.”  

Q: That must have been fun. 

DK: It was a lot of fun.  It was the time of my life, actually, and that show was the first of what was called a “black show”.  It crossed over into just the general lexicon of British TV viewing.  I was just as likely to have two white lads in a white van screaming out the window at me “Hoy, Tony!” -- which was my character's name on the show, as I would a group of black kids [doing the same].

The day after that show aired, I was in Brixton at the time.  I used to go swim at the Brixton reck every morning after being on TV the night before. I went down to the pool, took a swim and was in the shower when a bunch of school kids, mostly black -- and in Brixton they were in the showers. They all turned to me and went, “You were on last night!” 

Q: So you racked up some props even before hitting the ST universe. But that provided you a platform to work from. 

DK: Yeah, no kidding. The power of TV. I'm quite a funny fellow, so I let that come through quite quickly. 

Luckily, I recognized that playing Malcolm Reed to the three-line characterization in the bio that they gave you was going to get pretty dull quite quickly. So I think it was by the end of the second episode of the pilot, I thought, you know what, I should let a lot of Dominic come through into Malcolm -- you know, within reason, because obviously I'm not him. And I did, and you know what, it worked out.  

I think the writers saw that quickly; they loved the conflict and the contradiction that he was this buttoned-down, stiff-upper-lip Brit, but he had a right sense of humor in the end. They started writing for that and they loved it. So they gave me a lot of leeway. It was fortunate for me as a British actor on an American TV show that I could ring up the writers and go “A British guy would never say that.”  They gave me quite a lot of free rein to just be Malcolm. I actually  rewrote quite a lot of my sections.  Yeah, I wrote quite a few of my little speeches myself, and they were very cool about that. 

They weren't so cool with some of the others. {one guy] didn't get any leeway. They wrote what they wrote and he had to say it. 

Malcolm Reed 2154Q: There was some good interplay between you and Tripp, Commander Charles Tucker (Connor Trinneer), for example. 

DK: Yes, we got on straightaway. We're still very dear friends.  We hang out a lot together -- some 20 years -- I can't believe it. It will be twenty years next year that the show opened.  We started in 2001. Imagine that.  

Q: It's been a pretty amazing turn. Scott Bakula has a charm -- he has helped some shows take off in some way. 

DK: Yeah, I can't say enough about him.  He's a charming, lovely, generous -- we couldn't have hoped for a nicer [person].  Hollywood sets cannot always be -- how should we say -- friendly places to hang around. They're like armies, you know: a lot of it comes from the leader.  If the leader, the No. 1 on the call sheet, is twitchy or egocentric -- or an asshole [laughs], that all trickles down through the ranks. 

I've worked on many a set where I cannot wait to get in the car and drive home. But luckily, thank God, he made those years at Paramount -- and being at Paramount for that time, you know, when they were still very much a “studio”, the last of its kind, really -- they were joyous years.  They really were.  I am so lucky and fortunate to have that experience here in Hollywood.  I just watched that show “Hollywood” on Netflix -- I don't know if you've seen it...

Q: No, but I've been meaning to see it. 

DK: Oh, it's delightful.  It's an absolute joy. They show a lot of Paramount, so it was doubly joyful to see that place so beautifully portrayed on screen. I recommend it. It's one of the best things I've seen on TV in, frankly, years. There's “The Crown,” there was “The Night Of,” which was that wonderful thing that John Turturro did with Riz Ahmed.  But I'm very picky about my viewing pleasures. I recommend “Hollywood” wholeheartedly, it's a treat.  It really is.  

Q: I've been watching a channel — Heroes & Icons — that has all the different Star Trek series. When you start to watch them consistently, you understand what they've done to create this ultimate universe.  It's a complete universe.  

DK: Oh yeah, I've heard of that. CBS has now got their own streaming channel, they've let these episodes go. Do you see the Next Gen episodes?

Q: I have. It's fascinating because you see how these producers and show runners had to conceptualize this thing so it all makes sense and fits together. You have to remember certain histories. With the JJ Abrams’ produced movies, it's in an alternate universe so it doesn't have to be subject to those things. But all the TV series somehow fit together in various ways.  

DK: Yes, God bless Brannon [Braga] and Rick Berman, but particularly Brannon. Rick was the overlord, as it were.  But Brannon was very much the day to day -- writing, show running, the harpy for that show, really, for seventeen years. I think he began there as an intern. It's a feat in televisual history which I don't think will ever be repeated. Quite a remarkable thing they had; four hit shows, back to back.  

Yeah, it's a shame we didn't go the full seven [seasons]. Perhaps they'd gone so well one too many times.  It's hard to say.  There was a desperation, bad blood started to creep in between Viacom and CBS when the UPN, the network, looked like it was changing, and it was.  We were still a flagship show, but then Viacom put Les Moonves in charge to get UPN up and that's when the rot set in, when Rick started getting notes from Dawn Ostroff at UPN via Les Moonves, who had no interest in our show. He didn't commission it, he didn't watch it, he wasn't a Star Trek fan.

We started getting some pretty dumb notes, apparently. That's when the pissing match started. Behind the scenes, I guess Les just dismantled UPN and came up with the CW and there was no room for us on that network.  So where were we to go? A shame -- we definitely had at least another two or three years in us. We were just really finding our stride. 

No disrespect to Brannon, but they let Manny Coto come on as staff writer in mid-season three and I remember reading his first script and I thought “That's good”. I rang up the writers' office and “Can I speak to Manny Coto?”  Of course his career has catapulted into the stratosphere since then.  What a great job he did running the show in the fourth season, and we were really finding our stride and… It's just too bad. 

Q: Well, that's the nature of TV.  But the good thing is for you, you created an iconic character, you end up now -- you're in history.  You can do any comic con…

DK: I know.  I have to say, I pinch myself often.  I introduce face pistols into the whole damn story. I have the immortal line “I have two settings, Captain: stun and kill.  It would be best not to confuse them.” That's pretty iconic stuff, yeah. 

I say to Conor from time to time, “We had years on that show, and we've had our careers. I had a career before Star Trek.  But those years were definitely the cherry on the bloody cake, you know? They still color my whole experience of having come to Los Angeles and frankly, yeah, getting a piece of the pie -- with the cherry on top. 

Q: So now, “Unbelievable”.  Crazy idea, 40 different Star Trek actors, did you get to meet people you never met before? Did you hang out with any of them?

DK:  Not really. We've all met each other. I was the first out the gate on our cast to go do the conventions.  I had seen that documentary “Trekkies” and went “Oh, yeah. There's another financial appendage to this job.” I drove my Porsche onto the lot with “Paid for with Cash”. Get in line.  

We're all one big family. We've been hanging out at these conventions for twenty years, pretty much. So no, there really wasn't anyone that I hadn't met. Obviously I had acted with Max Grodénchik (Rom from “Deep Space Nine”) before. But it was a real treat. It was like a convention, frankly, but on a film set. It was just lovely hanging out. 

Q: And how was Snoop Dogg? 

DK: I never met him, unfortunately, because they shot him after. We had Gilbert Gottfried.

Q: Gilbert Gottfried, he's a character. 

DK: They recast him. Apparently he didn't test well, or something. Somehow they got Snoop to do this. I take my hat off to Angelique [the co-producer]. She is a powerhouse. This film could easily have gotten left behind, and she has never given up on it. And here it is. So I doff my cap to her. 

I would love to have met Snoop.  What a treat that would have been. 

Q: Do you know what county your family is from? 

DK: Oh absolutely, yeah.

Q: Have you been there?  Did your parents tell you stories?

DK: Yeah, but they are both gone now. My dad was full Irish, and grew up mostly on Valencia Island.  My grandfather was a lighthouse keeper -- quite a renowned one, back in the day.  He and one other guy looked after the lighthouse on Skillick. You know little Skillick, that looks like Cruella De Ville should live there, those islands off the Kerry coastline?

Q: I know of it but I've never been to Kerry. 

DK: Well, it's very beautiful down there, you can see them on a clear day. There was a monastery there in 1120 or something. Anyway, they looked after the light there, and depending on the weather, they would be there for three to six months, God bless.  And the family all lived in the lighthouse keeper's dwellings on Valentia Island, which is where the first telegraph wire came in from the States to Europe. That's one of the famous pieces of Valencia.  

So I've been down there, I've seen the dwelling, the cottage that my dad lived in as a kid. He had a very rural background, he didn't wear shoes until he was about fifteen, God bless.

And my mother's family, funnily enough, right across the Causeway is a town called Cahersiveen.  The Keatings, which is my mother's [name] -- my real name is Power, my father's name was Lawrence Power.  There was another Dominic Power in Equity, in the union, when I became an actor, some thirty years ago. So I had to change my name, and I took my mother's maiden name, Keating. So when the Keatings, oddly enough, left Bletchly, you can throw a stale crusty bread roll across the Causeway from Cahersiveen to Valentia Island. 

My mum and dad met in Leicester after the war, which is where I was born and grew up.  My mum and her mother were kind of dumped by her father. My mother's -- the other side of her family are very quite posh and well-to-do. My grandfather on her side was a brigadier, OBE, fought in two world wars. and after the [2nd World] war, buggered off to Kenya to go and live with an heiress in Nairobi. 

My mother was in Leicester and my father had arrived in England to find his fortune, as it were, and good Catholic lad, went to the church there, Holy Cross, every Sunday and eyed my mother for many a service.  Eventually, he plucked up the courage, and here I am, forty, fifty years later.

Q: So you played an Irish gangster at one point in one of the TV shows…

DK: “Heroes” that’s right.

Q: Are there things that you want to do? Produce, write, direct, based on any of this background…?

DK: You are the first person that has said to me, Wow, what a story that would make.  Yeah, I have thought about sitting down to write it. I'm not a writer.  I do think writers are born, and it would be a task for me.  Nothing would frighten me more than siting in front of a blank screen, going “Well what's the first scene? What does the first person say?”  I don't know, maybe I'll get to it.  

I have to say that the more days the coronavirus leaks on, the longer I am sitting here twiddling my thumbs, trying to be productive and staying fit and reading books and eating well, and meditating. But unless we get back to work soon, I've got to start thinking of doing something other than sitting around. 

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