Isa Somparé – LE MONDE EST FOU (the World Is Mad) [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

Playful, Mixed, Chic

Tell us a few things about your album “Le Monde Est Fou”.

That album is born during the quarantine. Ironically, this album is turned towards the outside and approaches the sensitive topics of the current events: the ecological disaster, the migrants, the prostitution…
It is in french so it’s a kind of “chanson française” but the music is a mix between jazz, blues, soul, electro, all the influences that I like. I’m looking for the groove from black music married with Chanson française.
And I hope to get A fresh sound, melody lines and meaningful lyrics

Which song of the album reflects you the most?

Maybe “j’attends”. It’s a very slowly blues about the time that passes, the life that goes sometimes too fast and sometimes too slowly. But anyway, all the moment of life are to be lived say the lyrics.

What do you enjoy most? Writing music or performing your music live?

I like both ! I love being in the studio, recording and sculpting sound.
And I like very much performing because it is on the stage that the songs live the most, they take life on the stage, in front of the audience, with the audience.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an artist so far?

The biggest challenge as a musician today is to be heard. There are so many tunes, and so many artists on the web. I saw a few days ago a broadcast on the rolling Stones. Huge stadiums filled with people ! Today it seems unbelievable.The music production is exploded, and artists work on niches. But I’m sure that your interview will make me hear a little 😉

What was the best film you have watched during the quarantine?

I saw “Drunk” during quarantine from Thomas Vinterberg with Mads Mikkelsen. I don’t know if you saw that movie, but it asks a question : do we have to be drunk to be happier ?
As far as I am concerned, I drink very little and music is my drug 😉

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

What do you want to say ? trouble into music or trouble into my life ?
I don’t have too many problems in my life besides love problems sometimes 😉 I am just very concerned about the world and the current geopolitical problems, and there are many ! so I talk about it sometimes in my songs.
And thanks to my love worries, I can also write love songs 😉
And sorry for my mistakes in English, you kow… I’m French 😉

Thank you!

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Fer Guinea – Moment In Time [Interview]

Tell us a few things about your new song “Moment In Time”. What is the story behind it?

Moment in time is about meditation. It is about the place I go to, when I meditate
A place where everything disappears and I am all by myself, living in the moment.
It is about getting to a state of peace, beauty and pure love.

How would you describe your musical progress over time?

My musical progress started with my study of jazz, thanks to it, I was able to further my understanding of music. After that, I studied production and modern music which gave me the tools to produce and compose every instrument section in my music. And finally my life experiences and listening to different genres has expanded my music universe.

What first got you into music?

I was into music since I can remember, I got my first keyboard at 7 and I was singing in the choir so music has always been a part of me.

Favourite album of the past year?

Favorite album of 2020 would be ‘It is what is is’ by Thundercat and ‘ Restless as we are’ by Talk black guy. I just love their vibe and I can’t stop listening to them.

What would you change in the music industry?

The music industry is a very complex machine and it can be overwhelming, what I would change is more support for starting artists and to stop focusing everything on social media. There are a lot of talented musicians and artists that have low following and it is very hard to be heard and to grow. So I guess that would be what I would change.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

The best advice I’ve been given is to trust the universe and all it brings to you

You’d give up making music for…

That is a hard question, I don’t think I would give up music. Music is the love of my life, it’s always been there for me and it is the most powerful thing there is in this world.
Music heals, it is a time machine, it unites people and it’s everywhere if you listen.

Thank you!

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Sun Affair – Lend Myself [Interview]

Tell us a few things about your new song “Lend Myself”. What is the story behind it?

Lend Myself started off as my attempt to write a Motown song. I really wanted to make a groove with a bounce to it like a Marvin Gaye or The Supremes tune. However, once we started working on the guitar part it started to become its own thing. Lend Myself still retains a lot of those early soul influences especially in the percussion and backing vocals. Lend Myself is about being tied to the past and not being able to move forward.

How would you describe your musical progress?

Slow and steady wins the race! Hoping for 2022 to be a big year for Sun Affair!

Which is your most personal and honest lyric?

From Lend Myself it would be “I take my tears to the door and the thought of you, it lingers like perfume on my pillow”

Favourite album of the past year?

‘Shore’ by Fleet Foxes

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an artist so far?

Finding the confidence to put out my own music. I was mainly a classical composer before Sun Affair and was holding back on releasing my own pop stuff. It’s taken some time but I’m getting there!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

“Put out those songs you’ve been sitting on asap!”

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

I’ll never tell!

Thank you!

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Lucid Letters – Delighted [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

Playful, catchy, feely

Tell us a few things about your new song “Delighted”. What is the story behind it?

I started writing and recording Delighted back in August 2021 after an upcoming producer that I follow dropped his first sample pack. He made it available to the people in his Discord server, so I downloaded it and started playing around with the stems to make my own chord progression and song structure.

I wasn’t planning to produce or release a new song at this stage at all. My health had dipped so I’d made the decision to rest and step back from my release plans. Taking the pressure off myself was just what I needed since I was then able to catch that wave of inspiration. Delighted was totally spontaneous and helped me get back into the fun of writing and producing.

What is the main topic of your lyrics?

My lyrics tend mostly to fall into two categories: interpersonal relationships, and just talking about myself. I’m either describing something of the human experience as beings who need connection and community, or I’m making bold statements about identity. As a shy and well-behaved kid growing up, it feels really necessary to reclaim being noisy or bossy, or to verbalise how situations truly make me feel.

What do you enjoy most? Writing music or performing your music live?

I haven’t had much opportunity to perform live as a solo act, so that’s something I want to explore more in the next few years. But having said that, I think the actual making of the songs is what I’ll always enjoy the most of the two. Perhaps I’ll change my mind about that if I have some really good gigs!

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an artist so far?

For me it’s definitely been a battle of the mind. I mean that in two senses. I’ve struggled with my mental health my whole adult life, and more recently got diagnosed as bipolar. Both the symptoms of the condition, and the medication I take to manage those symptoms, have a huge impact on my motivation and energy levels. But I think even more serious than that was fighting my own thoughts of inadequacy and the constant need for external validation. Once I got over needing someone else to give me permission or approval to make music, things really started to open up for me.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

This too shall pass. Whatever it is you’re going through, it’s not forever, and whatever it is you’re enjoying, it will have its end. It keeps me focused on truly engaging with the present moment, and flowing with the things that are out of my control.

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

I once almost got myself trapped on one of the sandbars on the beach where I live, so was forced to wade through ankle height water in order to get back on dry land. No matter how far along I walked, there was no dry route back to the footpath, so I had to accept the situation and get my shoes wet before it got even deeper!

Thank you!

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Pokkisham – YES TO THIS [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

A: Emotional B: Jazz-influenced C: Layered

Tell us a few things about your new song “YES TO THIS”. What is the main idea behind it?

Yes to This is a song of hope, about someone or something coming along that we did not feel ready for but that we want to accept in our lives. It’s about having the fears and doubts we all have but still trying to move past them and take that step forward to manifest something you know is good for you. In the song it is expressed as a new love that has settled into your heart without you really realising, but I also see it as having a wider message of saying “yes” to things that might be unexpected and involve change, but are ultimately worth stepping out of your fears and cynicism to pursue.

Do you like the idea of collaborating? Is songwriting a lonely process?

I am trying to co-write more, but I do enjoy the alone time of writing at my piano solo. It’s quite a spiritual act for me to have that space and flow for myself. I see incredible songwriters who clearly get so much from co-writing and it is something I want to do more of, but for me my writing process is informed by others much more in terms of collaboration with musicians on the arranging and production side to my work – my background is in performing and that has always been important. So my songwriting feels like quite a private thing at present, but then once I have the form of the song out in front of me, I consider the next step to always play it in with another musician or band to then find the feel and pace I want but it’s a conversation with my fellow musicians rather than a monologue when I’m rehearsing new material. That in itself feels like an extension of the writing process so it is collaborative in that aspect.

Artists and people who have influenced and inspired you?

That would make for a long list! I have been heavily influenced by jazz harmony and composers from Cole Porter to Wayne Shorter. In terms of songwriting inspiration I gained an early love of singer-pianist obsession through Billy Joel, Elton John and Tori Amos. I loved the piano artistry and harmonic skill they brought to their songs without the writing or stories diminishing, and loved the sense of performance and storytelling they all have. I also wouldn’t be anywhere without Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell – I consider them key inspirations – both artists that have found such depth to how they connect to the world, and both profound in different ways. In addition to that I always had Carnatic South-Indian music around me – it opened up my ears to such a different sound world and rhythmic awareness, and that definitely informs my sense of development in an arrangement, and earthiness to the vocal tone and style I sing with. I love the Malladi brothers whose vocals just take me back to a very deep and elemental place.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an artist so far?

Simply put, it’s having the confidence to put my music out there. It has been a huge block for me to release my songs despite decades of songwriting, and removing those mental blocks has taken some work. I value skill and beauty alongside eachother, and sometimes in the music industry you see true skill and talent being ignored in favour of something more mainstream and musically dumbed down because someone hasn’t got the right look or isn’t the right age etc etc. It can put artists off, but I have come to realise that not releasing music does more damage for me than just doing it and letting it fly. I believe now that you can find your listeners and your audience and that what I do has value beyond what I think – there is greater presence and strength in things if you adapt your mindset. I also have a lot of wonderful fellow songwriters and musicians and they all have the same doubts but they are all pushing forward and creating art on their own terms, and I have been hugely inspired by that. So once I removed all the kind of ‘industry’ expectation and sense of validation, it all felt a lot easier and less ‘heavy’. I’ve been a musician for a long time now and all I want to do really is meet more inspiring people and develop my skills and tune in more to my songwriter voice. I’m not still waiting for a manager or a label to ‘accept’ me – my status and skill as a musician and writer has been in existence for a long time, so now its just about doing what I do and sharing that and not doubting it or holding it up to false judgments.

When not writing music, how do you spend your time?

I’m a mother to 2 amazing kids, with whom I enjoy being in the great outdoors with, so nature is our playground. I also gain inspiration from teaching songwriting on a Masters degree programme with incredibly talented songwriting students. I am fairly obsessed with gardening and love the mental health benefits of it. I believe strongly that professional creatives need to have something else creative but non-outcome (and non-income) based in their life – something they love as a hobby, so I also enjoy writing prose just for myself. And cooking is a huge passion and again something that feeds and nurtures my creativity.

Should we expect an album in the near future?

Definitely yes! I still very much believe in the album format as being a real artistic statement, and it’s one I do want to make, but only when I have the right material and it has a cohesion and story to it. I have a lot of new songs in progress and a clearer sense of my artistic direction and style. In the time it has taken to get my songs ready for the EP, I probably could have done an album – so I feel ready that I could do that and I know how to plan and approach it better now.

Thank you!

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Alice Lord – Mess Less [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

Honest, unconventional, experimental

Your music has an experimental tone. Should music as a form of art always challenge the listener?

No, I disagree. I think music should have a purpose for example telling a story, trigging an emotion or even the controversial reason: to make money. Challenging the listener isn’t always a part of that purpose.

Which is your most personal and honest lyric?

Every lyric in Mess Less is completely honest but if I where to choose ‘Yes, to every one who feels blessed despite all of the mess, your a lot stronger then me’. This would be because I’ve struggled looking on the positive side in the past and am in awe of the people who are strong enough to consider themselves blessed.

Artists and people who have influenced and inspired you?

I grew up being influenced by my Grandfathers music collection which is mostly classic rock and blues. Artists like Howling wolf, Eric Clapton, Booker T, Rolling Stones, Etta James, Dr John and Credence Clearwater Revival. I also listen to my Grandmother and Great Grandfathers old vinyls quite a bit. Their collection being 20s music and classical. More modern Artist I get inspired by are Kudasai Beats (Lo Fi), Lily Moore (indie), Lawrence (funk, pop), Koffee (Jamaican dance hall), J Cole (rap) and Hamza (R&B).
My Great Grandfather himself is an inspiration to me as he was a talented arranger of music and was very keen on dissonant harmonies something I have inherited according to my Grandmother. I am also in awe of his music theory knowledge and his ability to notate a piece from ear. This inspires me to improve myself everyday.

What would you change in the music industry?

I would want modern streaming to stop decreasing income opportunities for artist and I would want there to be more risk takers in the top tiers of the music industry. That being said, sadly in the current music economy, I cannot see a sustainable way of achieving these.

What was the best film you have watched during the quarantine?

The Trial of the Chicago Mostly because I love Sacha Baron Cohen I think he is hilarious but also because I think it cleverly applies it self to today’s issues.

What is the most useless talent you have?

I can pout and curl my lips at the same time to look like a duck. As useless as it is, it does entertain people.

Thank you!

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The Woods – A Changing Light [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

Ethereal Ghost Soul (type stuff)

Tell us a few things about your new song “A Changing Light”. What is the story behind it?

I always find it mad when I hear the makers of work that have inspired and carried me say that they questioned if what they were doing was worthwhile, and maybe even considered scrapping what they were doing. This song is about how much we all doubt ourselves in the things we do. I wanted to pay tribute to everyone who feels like this and tell them they’re actually lighting sparks in the world & making a difference every day. Like with this song- recording the parts in my studio on my own in the Scottish countryside gives me a massive freedom, but it’s also easy to doubt myself and the worth of what I’m doing- I don’t have a team to high-five me after laying down my beats ha! So yeah, especially in this environment, I wanted to make something uplifting that says ‘I know you doubt yourself, but keep going- you’re all killing it’!

What first got you into music?

Bit of a random path. To get out of maths at primary school my mate & I volunteered to sing in a local music competition. I sang ‘The Duck & The Kangaroo’- epic tune. In an odd turn of events given that this was in rural Scotland, this led to a scholarship to a pretty famous choir in Cambridge, where I sang around the world and on tv, and got deeply immersed in classical music. Then at University in Aberdeen I spent an inordinate amount of time in record shops discovering leftfield hip hop, jazz & electronic music- fair to say I became a bit obsessed. Spent the proceeding years trying to work out how to create these sounds.
I was really lucky when I was in London that I discovered CDR, a place for music producers to try out tracks and share ideas in a club setting. I learned a lot here, especially from the founder of CDR Tony Nwachukwu (Producer, Beats guy of Attica Blues and Music Tech Guru).
Over time I’ve come to realise that all these elements probably play a part in the music I produce and the sounds going round in my head, which is cool.

Favourite album of all time?

Sooo tough to choose, so I’ll choose a compilation(!)- Headz 2B Mowax compilation album has been around for a while and still feels like the freshest and most innovative music you’ll hear. I never tire of it!

Is Spotify the music industry’s new Gatekeepers?

Yeah probably, though it’s good that Bandcamp is pushing hard and doing it from a more artist-centric angle (yeah Bandcamp!). Spotify itself is brilliant in theory and I’ve discovered so many awesome artists from it. Spotify’s payment structure on the other hand is god awful and I suspect it’ll be forced to change otherwise there won’t be many artists left to feed it in the future.

Which book should we read while listening to your music?

Pretentious answer- The Old Man & The Sea- deep emotional exploration in the raw wilds.
Maybe more honest answer- Comic book series Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery- Thoughtful, Funny, Uplifting, and Beautiful. Life in a bike shop= Life.

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

I’ve been in quite a few dumb ‘situations’ that should have led to trouble, but generally the universe has chosen to let me off a lot. I once climbed a flagpole in a town centre as a dare on a night out, and as the police inevitably came to take me away I stayed up the pole until they eventually got bored of shouting at me and left. There’s probably an analogy for life somewhere in there…

Thank you!

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Lara de Belder – Overtime [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

Sexy Jazz Pop

Tell us a few things about your new song “Overtime”. What is the main idea behind it?

I started with the bass line for Overtime. I imagined it on a double bass and thought it had a bit of a cheeky swagger, then heard this walking chromatic blues bass for the pre-chorus which added a quirkiness. As I started to write the lyrics whilst feeling the groove of the bass it unfolded as a song about hypnotic attraction to someone. The idea in my mind is based on a few real life incidents. Imagine being at a crowded house party where everyone around starts to become a little bit blurred as your focus is completely drawn to this one person who seems to completely capture your attention and you can’t keep your eyes off them. The quirky blues walk captures the feeling as they come closer to you, then maybe they meet your eyes before they then pass by. The music then for me encapsulates a blurring between fantasy and reality but that hypnotic attraction remains throughout. The ‘do do do ba dow’ harmonies are also supposed to be part of this fantasy feeling and are inspired by close harmony female vocal groups from the 40s and 50s.

Which is your most personal and honest lyric?

Tough question. There’s a few for this one but I’d say right now ‘playin’ out a part again but will I stick it? Oh no…’ is one that resonates. Being an actor I like the idea of exploring the roles that we play as performers and also the roles we play in life – the narratives we create for ourselves out of our own experiences and beliefs. This lyric alludes to the fact I’ve felt this way more than once, and there have been times in the past that I was worried I was always going to fall victim to these hypnotic feelings for someone so strongly that I wouldn’t ever be able to commit to one relationship, aka to stick to the part I’m playing instead of being pulled off-course and going elsewhere.

Artists and people who have influenced and inspired you?

I’m a lover of lots of different genres, I’d say my biggest influences currently include Celeste, Melody Gardot, Jacob Collier, Erykah Badu, Jamiroquai, Lizzo, Robyn, Shura, Jessie Ware, Liane Carroll, Jamie Cullum, Amy Winehouse and Anaïs Mitchell.

What would you change in the music industry?

Gosh, another tough one as there are a lot of problematic elements of the industry. Right now I would say the fact it is so age-obsessed. I would take away the cultural obsession it seems to have with youth. It’s not healthy for anyone whether you’re very young or older. Age is something we have no control over so I’d prefer to see everyone feeling free to celebrate their real age in honesty instead of feeling the pressure to lie about it in order to attract more fans or label interest. It’s tough because there is a real encouragement of artists to be young or say we’re younger than we are. But the more we perpetuate it, the longer the culture will last.

Favorite film ever?

Impossible to say I have one favourite. I love Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – beautiful film! I’m a big fan of Labyrinth with Bowie and the Jim Henson team, and I really like Studio Ghibli movies and love Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and Nausicaä

You’d give up making music for…

Probably Acting haha, my other passion. Or else, I’ve considered training to be a therapist or Life Coach. I’m really interested in psychology and have taken a lot of great courses that have taught me a lot about the power of the mind and engaging with life in a more proactive, empowering way. So I would seriously consider working with people in that area if not music.

Thank you!

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Elly Kace – Nothing (feat. Jas) [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

This is a tricky one- I think open, cathartic and free are perhaps the clearest words to use.

Tell us a few things about your new song “Nothing”. What is the main idea behind it and what is your creative process like?

“Nothing” is the first track dissecting a larger concept that makes up my LP, “Nothing I see means anything”. I sonically examine and meditate on each word of that sentence through the record- and the track examining “Nothing” very quickly became about anger and rage. The feeling of being stuck in and defined by a box and the injustice of it. I wrote the song by meditating on vocal loops on each letter of the word “n” “o” “thi” “ng”- these loops are layered into the backing track as the spine for the rest of the instruments to land on. You can hear that the best in the beginning. That grew into lyrics sharing my personal experience facing the realities of how society has defined me by my body. I wanted to honor my anger in this track so it could shift and change.

Which is your most personal and honest lyric?

For me its the bridge:
“Have you ever felt emaciated?
Close to nothing as you can be?
It is a foreign feeling
to bloom away from the lady like roots
the male gaze gave me.”

Because it is probably the most honest and raw moment from my personal perspective. I have literally starved myself in my life to fit into the boxes others needed me to fit into and growing away from that is so strange- also great. I have many friends who have expressed to me they feel the same. It felt really vulnerable to sing that and share that with others who have felt it.

Your vocal delivery is impressive. Tell us your favorite vocalist!

Aw, thank you! I am not sure I can choose ONE favorite vocalist. I am pretty old school, so my mind jumps to Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Barbra Streisand first- but I am also a huge fan of Dolores O’Riordan, Sarah MchLaughlin and above all, the queen- Beyonce. If you can’t tell, I listen to a lot of singers and a lot of styles, and I feel a bit guilty to not list at least twenty. But I will practice some self control here and leave you with these six. 😉

Favorite album of the past decade?

….I will try! Im really in love with Deacon by serpentwithfeet and What Now by Sylvan Esso- but there are so many more! Alt J’s “this is all yours” AND Beyonce’s “Lemonade” have been evergreen favorites for me FOR the last decade, so that must be listed.

When not writing music, how do you spend your time?

I do a lot of yoga, astrology study and meditating. This record got me involved in Tibetan singing bowls as healing practice and I have been super focused on how sounds can heal. I also practice singing a lot (I’m a professional opera singer too), and love to interpret the works of other artists. Other than that, I spend lots of time with my amazing partner in crime and our cute cat Lyla making pizza and hanging at the farmers market in Brooklyn.

Should we expect an album in the near future?

Yes! “Nothing” is the first music video release for my first ever concept album “Nothing I see means anything” which releases on 11/19. I am really looking forward to discovering who it belongs to. 🙂

Thank you!

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Magdalena and the Mystical Birds – Lyric Lockdown Live [Interview]

Describe your sound in 3 words

honest, uplifting, transformational, live

Tell us a few things about your new work “Lyric Lockdown Live”. What is the story behind it?

It is a live album recorded at the beginning of the lockdown in an empty theatre, where we were about to launch the band with our new material. We didn’t give up, we used it as an opportunity to thrive and have something positive to focus on during the months of uncertainty and a fear of change. Songs were written between 2017-2020 by Magdalena who had been experiencing her own inner transformation dreaming about spreading her wings. That dream has been hatching for a long time and needed lot’s of nurturing and patience during the lockdown. The album is a reminder to keep dreaming, working behind the scenes and being patient for the right door to open… “It has been only … a little challenging year…”

Which song of the album reflects you the most?

“This Love isn’t mine” or “Shaking hands with the Devil”,

Artists and people who have influenced and inspired you?

The band has many influences as each member has a story and style to share. Magdalena is the main singer-songwriter in a band. One one hand she has deep foundation in music with master degree in musicology (Like Bjork) on the other hand – she loves silence and catches up inspiration when it comes to her. We could say that she has been influenced by Frida Khalo, Rumi or Bjork or many mystics and brave people who dated to be themselves. Music and lyrics with Mystical Birds are deep on one side and uplifting on the other. The listener is always lift up by being encouraged to “Rise and Shine”, to know that “love is much bigger then a piece of cake” or that “good girls go to heaven on their own the other go where they want…”

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an artist so far?

biggest challenge
1) to let go what people think about us
2) to create and enjoy life despite of all obstacles and restictions.

In which state of mind do you imagine people might listen to your music?

This is music for those who dare to go deeper and transform themselves into who they want to be. This is music for those who like an authentic sound (well, is is a live album at the end) a bit of uplift, blues and energy.

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

I can answer this question only as myself not a band, and out of musical context but here we go.
I remember when I was about to land in Jakarta (Indonesia) at night time with a one year student visa to study in Bali, $200 in my pocket only and realizing that my big dream was about to start but I have no clue where to stay overnight, how to speak a foreign language and how to survive on my own!
Luckily the spirit of adventure was bigger than my fears and I found shelter, friendship and confidence – all in one night!

Thank you!

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