State of the Music Industry – Part III: Glenwood Leylo

Welcome to Sui Generis!

Day 1 series turner hill

Nikke Stiletto:  This is Nikke Stiletto and we’re here with my guest Glenwood Leylo.  Before we get started, tell us a little about yourself and your company, DIGIMOB Entertainment.

Glenwood Leylo:   Ok.  My name is Glenwood Leylo.  I’m the CEO at DIGIMOB Entertainment.  We do music, films, videos, etc.  I’ve been in the business about twenty years now.

NS: And what inspired you to do film and music?

GL:   I’ve always had an interest in film.  I was part of a movie called Players Ball back in ’02 starring Elise Neal and Allen Payne and MC Lyte, lots of different people and I actually scored a song on the soundtrack.  I sat and watched the whole process [of making a movie].  I was in Hollywood, CA and everything watching the editing process and I just kinda got addicted to it at that time.

NS:  So which one do you prefer to do more, or are they both the same for you?

GL: It’s kind of both the same, but of course, music is my first passion.  You know, I’m getting into film more and more each day.

NS: Ok, cool!

So, a few years back, individuals by the name of Jeff Brabec and Todd Brabec (Executive VPs for ASCAP and Chrysalis Music Group) stated that “Music in the movies is an essential element of the film making process and is one of the main factors that help to determine box office success or failure.”  What are your thoughts on that?

GL: Oh yeah, most definitely.  I think the energy of the music, whatever music you’re scoring on a film…you know music moves people, so music is always going to be a factor in any project, especially dealing with anything in entertainment.  All the way from plays to stand-up comedy, even for circuses, you know?  The music that they play at the circus, they have to play a certain type of music to get the energy into the crowd and get the people moving.  So, yeah, I believe that.  It goes hand in hand.  So, that’s why with my films I personally pick the music myself.

NS: OK, so if there were no such thing as ‘music’, just pretend music never existed, do you think the movie industry, the film industry, would still thrive like it does?

GL: Hmm… I doubt it.  If there was no music…no such thing?  I don’t think there’d be such a thing as film, to be honest with you.

NS: Hmm!  And what’s your reasoning behind that?

GL:  Well, I think that the soundtrack is what sells the films! It’s the music.  Not just the vocal music, even the instrumentals that is played in the background, through each scene, it gives you a certain feel like when you’re watching a horror movie.  They have a certain type of instrumental playing in the background where it gives you that thrill as if you’re there, as if you’re feeling what’s about to happen or what’s going on in the film so I think it plays a major part.

NS: Wow, Ok!

In your opinion, what’s the biggest misconception about the music and film industries?

GL: I don’t know really, because I don’t get too involved in the politics [of it all].  I just love to do it so I don’t pay attention to rumors or confusion.  So, yeah, I don’t know…

NS:  I got you, so you think it’s important that people block that out and do their own thing?

GL:  The most successful ones do, yeah.

NS:  A lot of musicians are becoming actors and actress these days like Ludacris, Tyrese, 50Cent, Beyonce, etc.  Do you feel like that type of crossover is a necessity for an artist once they reach a certain point in their career?

GL:  Yeah I think that music, especially Hip Hop, it stays young, you know?  And once you get to a certain age in it, and there are levels to [music], [but] once you get to certain level, sometimes you just gotta transform and recreate yourself.  But at the same time, music money is good, but movie money is better!

NS: [Laughter] Right!

GL:  Right.

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NS:  So recently we saw you at the Atlanta Underground Music Awards, so congrats on your awards this past weekend!!

GL: Thank you, Thank you. I was nominated for three awards and won all three. Grind hard award, Best underground artist award, and Best underground video award.

NS:   How did you feel when you heard your name announced as the winner?

GL:  I was surprised at a couple of them, but one of them, you know I worked hard for it, so I was like praying that I did get that one.

NS:  Right, so you expected that one because of all of the work you put into it….

GL:  Yeah I hoping…If I didn’t it wasn’t a big deal, but I was hoping I did get that one.  But the other two were actually a surprise.  I didn’t think I was going to get them.

NS:  As far as the term underground, do you feel that’s still an appropriate term to use for independent artists now that we have so many outlets such as Reverbnation, SoundCloud, etc. and you can pretty much get your own stuff on iTunes if you really want to…do you feel “Underground” is still an appropriate term to use?

GL:  Well, that’s a good question!  It’s hard to say.  But I personally think you’re going to always be underground unless you sold a million copies of something.

NS:  Right…

GL: That’s just my personal opinion.

NS:  Ok, as far as selling a million goes or being a mainstream or commercial artist, did you happen to watch the VMAs?

GL:  I caught a glimpse of it…

NS: Did you see that Macklemore won best Hip Hop Video?

GL: I can believe that….

NS: Ok, so there was a journalist for the Pittsburgh Courier and she brought up this question in her interview with Macklemore asking if “white privilege” is selling Hip Hop records in 2013.  Being that Macklemore is a white artist, what would you say in response to that question?

GL: Right….well you know, hip hop is hip hop.  I don’t think hip hop has a color to it.  I think people are looking into that too much.  You know when hip hop started, there were just as many white rappers as there were black rappers back in the 70’s and 80’s.  It mostly started on the East Coast up in New York.  That was a melting pot up in there.  You got Latinos and Whites and Blacks and all of them kinda grew up in the same neighborhoods, so when hip hop started it just….you now I don’t understand that.  I’m colorblind on Hip Hop.  Anybody can get an award as far as I’m concerned.  If you have the talent you got it!  It is what it is!

NS: Right. And to speak on artists having talent and being well-rounded artists and branching out as an artist and doing things outside of their comfort zone, how important is it, do you feel, for artists to give back to the community and if they should, do you feel it’s important that their fans know that they’re doing this?

GL: Giving doesn’t have to be publicized.  Giving should be something from the heart.  Giving should be something where you don’t expect anything back.  It’s just something that you want to do.

NS: Definitely.

GL:  That’s what I do, I give a lot but I don’t expect people to bring a camera to where I am every time I’m giving something out.  That’s just my personal opinion…

NS: Oh that’s what’s up, definitely!

You know, a lot of people say we’re out own worst critique; we’re the hardest on ourselves when it comes to something that we’ve created, especially artistically.  Was there ever a time that you created something that you thought was just horrible, but your fans loved it?  Or the people around you loved it and it just blew up?

GL: Yeah!  Every day!

NS: [Laughter] Ok!

GL:  Everything I create! [Laughter] Especially if I’m in the studio and I’m featured on a song with someone I asked them a hundred times. ‘Man what’s that sound like? You think I should have done this or said that?’ And even in film, you know I might render something out and send it somebody and ask them to tell me what I did wrong here.  You know be honest.  I’m so hard on people just being honest with me about my work.  You know, tell me what I need to do!  I hate when somebody hits me right back and say ‘Oh it’s cool!’

NS: [Laughter] Like they didn’t even listen to it!

GL:  I hit ‘em right back like, ‘You’re lying!’ Tell me what’s wrong with it! [Laughter]

NS:  Yeah! [Laughter]

GL: Because I’m real big on image, as far as my work is concerned, because I know how good work can be and if I don’t reach that then I gotta go back in the lab until I can get it right.

NS:  Right, right!  And I think that’s what separates the good from the great. Like you said, anybody can win an award.  Anybody can go out there and make a mix tape but that doesn’t mean it’s great.

GL: Right! Exactly, exactly.  So I try to learn from the best.  I study the best.  I don’t study underground hip hop or underground film companies.   I study the majors.  I study Universal Films.  I study Jay-Z, I study Puff Daddy and how they do their business because that’s where I want to be, on a corporate level.

NS: And speaking of that are you aware of the Performance Tax on public radio?

GL:  Yeah, they’re still talking about that, huh?

NS:  Yeah, definitely still talking about that.  Is that affecting you and your team yet?

GL:  It hasn’t affected us yet.  There are levels to this sh**.

NS: Right…

GL:  And we haven’t got to the level yet.  But when we do get there I already have my attorney in place and we’re gonna make sure everything’s right once we get to that level.

NS:  That’s great!  Are you all already registered with ASCAP and BMI?

GL: Oh most definitely, most definitely; everything’s registered and copywritten.

NS:   Well this has been a great interview.  A lot of good info! Is there anything you want to leave the fans with?

GL: Oh yeah!  Follow me on twitter, Instagram, Facebook.  It’s all “Glenwoodleylo”.  Make sure y’all go to the website:  www.DIGIMOBATL.com.  Check out everything we have going on, all the upcoming events, videos.  Make sure you watch the videos!  The “Fakin’” video, which we are in the process  of filming the movie for that, is starring myself, Terry Miles, the head A&R for No Limit Records and CEO of HoodStarzz Films, Ms. K, Chubb Rock, Bushwick Bill, Shawty Shawty the comedian, the list just keeps going!

NS:  Ok, well we’re definitely looking forward to seeing that!  And like I said before, congrats on the awards, thanks for interviewing with me, and hopefully we can get you back on the show when the film comes out to talk a little bit more about that.

GL:  Oh yeah, most definitely!

NS: Alright, cool….

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