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Exclusive Interview: Songwriter, Author & Film Director – Ailawishes

Ailawishes discovered her talent when she was 13 years of age. She used to compose hip-hop verses yet never imparted them to anybody in light of her timid emotional disposition. In 2001, Ailawishes began working for a record label where she found herself in artist development. Her roster included managing R&B and Hip-hop groups. This opportunity allowed her to gain experience in the marketing field through club promotions and learn the business at an early age. Ailawishes was so serious about her position and her artist that the radio stations gave her the nickname “Ms Shugg”. In 2009, Ailawishes  was contacted by A&R for Columbia Records. They approached her to compose for one of their R&B singers Adina Howard. Since, Ailawishes has been writing on an upcoming album for an R&B artists signed to rapper THE GAME label. Today Ailawishes, who has the late, legendary Dizzy Gillespie as her great-uncle, is an affirmed Songwriter, Erotica Author & Film Director.

  1. How long have you been songwriting and how did you get started?

Ailawishes:  I have been writing songs since high school.  I started writing hip-hop lyrics. My favorite music artist back then was female rapper Mc Lyte. I would always be in the mirror rapping, pretending that I was her. I  wrote lyrics to her music just in case if I were to one day meet her and have that opportunity to be on stage and perform. Yeah I know that’s funny but I was very serious.  After high school, I immediately went to college and that’s where I fell in love with R&B. R&B allowed me to write from my soul, my emotions. You know, what I was feeling.

  1. Have you had any formal training or are you a do-it-yourself writer?

Ailawishes: I have never had any formal training. Writing comes very natural.

  1. How do you describe your music to people or the industry?

Ailawishes: My music is of the genre of R&B. My lyrics are full of emotions and love. I write from the heart. All of my lyrics are inspired by real-life LOVE situations that either myself or a friend has once experienced. When you are writing true lyrics, your clients love it and fans love it even more.

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  1. You’ve apparently written songs for several Grammy Nominated Artists. How were you able “to open doors”, so to speak?

Ailawishes: Writing for Grammy Nominated Artists is something that I never expected to ever happen. Every songwriter dreams of it, but when it actually happens, it is surreal.  My first opportunity came a few months after I released my first book “Floetic Whispers”.  One night I was browsing through Facebook and I received an instant message. The person who messaged me told me that he heard of my book and had plans to go purchase it from his local book store. He proceeded to tell me that he heard from a few friends that it was a good read. Thinking this was just another new reader of my work, I went on to thank him for supporting my career. He then asked me if I could turn my writing into songs. I responded with “I am also a songwriter as well so that would be easy”. Once I said that, he started sending me message after message explaining that he worked for Columbia Records and he had an artist by the name of Adina Howard and she needed some new material. Knowing exactly who this artist was, I accepted the job and started putting songs together immediately. After a few days, I came across this artist online and sent her a message explaining who I was and why I was sending her a message. I needed to know that this job offer was legit. She explained to me that it in fact was and she was really looking forward to working with me. Ever since, I’ve gained artists by word of mouth because of the awesome work that I do. All of my clients love my lyrics and my work ethic.

  1. Have you registered your songs for copyright protection with the U.S. copyright Office and are you affiliated to any performance rights organization?

Ailawishes: All of my work is registered and copyright protected. I am also affiliated with ASCAP and BMI. I think that it’s very important to get all of your original work registered in some form. In today’s world, it’s so easy for people to go on the internet, steal your work and pretend that it’s theirs. Always register your work. Never assume it’s safe.

  1. What are your songs usually about? (What specific themes do you cover?)

Ailawishes: All of my songs are written about love and heartache. Finding love and losing it. Most people can relate and almost everyone loves a good love song.

  1. What image do you think your music conveys to people?

Ailawishes: I think that it conveys passion. It shows them that I am passionate about my work. I never rush through anything that I write.

  1. Who were your musical influences while growing up?

Ailawishes: My musical influences growing up were Mc Lyte, Klymaxx, Janet Jackson, The Mary Jane Girls and Queen Latifah. These ladies were super talented and knew the business. Some of them are still taking over the industry today because in addition to being an artist, they took time to learn the industry. Learning the industry keeps you around longer than most. Some of these ladies also played with a real band. Any artist today, who carries a real band to support them, has my respect. In my opinion, that’s REAL MUSIC.

  1. What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)?

Ailawishes: In 3 years, I see myself as a household name. I’m local now but I see myself as being global and being on that Grammy stage. I’m 100% committed to my writing and I will never give anything less.

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  1. How would you define the word “success”?

Ailawishes: Success to me is being able to accomplish and achieve greatness at your level, then reaching back to help someone else. I do that very often. I mentor and help guide those who have no idea of what steps they need to take in this industry.

  1. Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?

Ailawishes: Being an indie artist is exciting because I am in charge. I call my own shots. If something doesn’t go right, it’s because of me and no one else. Being independent means that I control my own destiny. The discouraging part is not knowing what’s going to happen next. The road is a bit more rough when you are doing things on an indie level but at the end of the day, I can say that it’s worth the journey.

  1. How do you market and manage your music career? Do you have a management team to assist you or do you control everything by yourself?

Ailawishes: When it comes to marketing and managing, I’m solo. I don’t have a team. I utilize social media as much as possible. When I started this, years ago, we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter or IG. We had to do things the hard way. Not every household had a computer or the internet at all. So getting your name out was very difficult. I take advantage of all the tools and resources that are available. Even word of mouth. Whenever I make my clients happy, they tell a friend and then I have new artists to work with.

  1. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?

Ailawishes: The best piece of advice I ever got was to learn the business. I can’t stress that enough. Wanting to be a songwriter, singer or producer, will only take you so far. Learning the business and knowing the business takes you farther. It’s important that you educate yourself on the financial end as well. You have to know what’s going on around you. Advice I didn’t listen too? I remember having a long phone conversation with Adina Howard. She told me “never mix work with friendships”. I didn’t listen. She explained how mixing the two could cause you to lose a friendship or even worse, business or a client. Let’s just say, I didn’t listen. And she was right.

  1. You’re a Songwriter, Erotica Author & Film Director. Is that the exact order you would describe your artistic strengths as?

Ailawishes: Yes, that’s the exact order. I write songs, write my own books and write my own screenplays.

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  1. What skills/personal attributes do you think are most important in making you who you are artistically?

Ailawishes:  Expression. Not being afraid to write about what’s on your mind. Not being afraid to take a chance. When I first started this journey, I was very shy. I was afraid of letting people see my work and read my thoughts. Now, I don’t care. Writing is my paycheck. This is what makes me money and I am not afraid to put words on paper and say “Here, I need you to read this”.

  1. Do you consider Internet and all social media websites, as fundamental to music in general today, and what is your relationship with all the new technology at hand?

Ailawishes: Social media plays a large part in the industry today. Without social media, there would be several unknown talented artists. Social media has discovered a lot of talent in this industry.  Its platform offers simplicity. It’s much easier to release a product, upload it and allow the world to experience what you have produced.  I am a very heavy social media user. I use it to my advantage. I’m always online branding myself, giving advice to others and talking to fans.

  1. If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose this career? Would you do anything differently?

Ailawishes: There is no other career in this world that I would choose over writing. Writing allows me to express myself.

  1. As you work your way through your career, which more than any other fires-up your imagination – A Grammy award, Platinum music sales or any other tangible milestone?

Ailawishes: Right now, I am currently up for an award at a small music awards show in Atlanta. It’s not a Grammy, but it tells me that someone does like my work. Being nominated for any award for your work is an awesome deal and should never be viewed as anything small. I’m not really about being greedy, whatever God blesses me with, I will have. Grammy or Platinum sales. Whichever level I reach, I will be happy.

  1. What is the one compromise you would never ever accept, in your quest to achieve or consolidate a successful musical or writing career?

Ailawishes: One thing I would never compromise is giving up the rights to my work. Nothing could ever make me put in the work so that someone else could get rich. It’s non-negotiable.

  1. Anything you would like share, from new merchandise to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums/books?

Ailawishes: Yes. I would like to tell my readers to look out for my new book “What’s Your Freak Number”. That will be released this summer. I also have an all-female panel talk show, I created, that will start airing this Spring. The show is called The Juice Crew. We will discuss everyday topics like politics, relationships and lifestyles just to name a few.  You can stay up to date by logging on to my website www.Ailawishes.com. Following me on any social media platform, by typing in the name: Ailawishes.

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