Our military should be treated like royalty this country. The people who are willing to risk their lives should never end up homeless on the street begging for food or money. I see a lot of that…wouldn’t it be nice for all inactive and active military to be given free housing so no matter what they ALWAYS have a home? Considering they fight to make sure we have one. Clean water for all and reducing animal cruelty are two more on my list.
I had the pleasure to interview Country music’s newest duo Felix Snow and Chelsea Todd of 17 Memphis. 17 Memphis brings their own unique sound to the country crossover genre game. With sounds similar to peers Sam Hunt and Florida Georgia Line, 17 Memphis offer a fresh aesthetic to country music that fans have yet to experience listening to mainstream country radio. Felix Snow and Chelsea Todd, the voices behind 17 Memphis, may be new to Nashville but neither is new to the music scene. Both consider the group a natural progression from their pop collaborations. Snow, originally from Connecticut, is an award-winning platinum producer who grew up influenced by The Grateful Dead and The Beach Boys. His most recent work includes the multiplatinum single “Gold” by Kiiara, and has also written and produced for Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert and Kate Perry. Todd, a small-town girl from Texas, grew up singing Patsy Cline but later transformed her sound while creating her pop project, TYSM, on Snow’s label EFFESS Records. A cross-country road trip and a stop in Tennessee became the inspiration to kickstart the duo’s country endeavor. A fresh acoustic guitar and a Memphis hotel room would become the breeding ground of the first song written as a duo, the inspiration behind their unique name, and the beginning of a romantic relationship between the two.
Thank you so much for joining us Felix and Chelsea! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to this specific career path?
Felix: This isn’t a career path for me, not for either of us. It’s a way of life. I would make music if it brought me no notoriety or money, period. It’s the next thing that comes after breathing for me. I have to do it, it’s never been a choice. It’s so beautiful to be a part of, it’s Godly. There’s a whole worldly aspect to the “career” side of it, but the music is straight God.
Chelsea: When the music is in you, you don’t have a choice. I do my best to try to go where God leads me, and there is no doubt in my heart about where we are now.
Can you two share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
Felix: Wow. Most interesting … probably Nick Jonas coming over to my apartment in LA with a ziploc baggy full of cigars and proceeding to chain smoke them on my balcony. That was … interesting.
Chelsea: I met a guy (Felix) at a beer festival, sang in his ear and 5 years later not only am I more in love with him than when I met him but I also get to make music with him every day…and A LOT of people want to make music with him. So needless to say, every day is special and every day is interesting.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects that 17 Memphis is working on now?
All of our new songs. Our next song is always our best song, that’s how we roll. We are really digging shooting live in the studio videos, those are coming out soon. Working at Sun Dog studios here in Nashville has been really fun, recording everything live.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have each interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Felix: Well, there’s that Nick Jonas one lol. Kesha was very “interesting” as well. I think working with / meeting anyone who’s “famous” is always going to seem somewhat surreal, like you know what their mask is but now you get to see somewhat more of who they really are. I think it’s super hard to keep the mask on when you’re in person with someone. Like how nice do you treat the guy who’s going to get lunch for you? That’s hard to fake.
Chelsea: We did a session with Poo Bear and it was really cool to watch how he worked and what his songwriting process was. He’s a treasured talent. I don’t really have a cool story to tell other than I remember him ordering like $1000 worth of food while we were in the session.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Felix: Andy Warhol. And Jesus. Honestly for obvious reasons. Andy is so pure. He’s here you know. Jesus, the Bible … that’s it. Everything’s in there it’s timeless.
Chelsea: I’m echoing Felix here but -Jesus for obvious reasons and Stevie Nicks and really all of Fleetwood Mac — Stevie gives you everything she’s got. I’d love to make a song with all of them even though they all low key hate each other. Maybe Jesus can help w that.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Felix: At this point I’m hopeful that I’ve plastered a few smiles on some people’s faces. Helping in small ways is so important, on a daily local level. I think it was Mother Theresa … “We can’t do great things, only small things with great kindness”. Excuse my paraphrase. It’s something close to that.
Chelsea: Regardless of said success — I think it’s important to forget about yourself. A smile, a complement, an ear to listen or a free meal can make a difference in someone’s day. It’s cliche but it’s the small things that matter.
If you two could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Felix: Boy I mean my mind always goes to dogs first. I always want to help dogs. With people, man, it’s gotta be something to do with joy. My yoke is easy, my burden is light … something to do with transcending your current position, no matter how luxurious or horrific. Just getting to the soul level, the level that watches. Ram Dass talks about that.
Chelsea: Our military should be treated like royalty this country. The people who are willing to risk their lives should never end up homeless on the street begging for food or money. I see a lot of that…wouldn’t it be nice for all inactive and active military to be given free housing so no matter what they ALWAYS have a home? Considering they fight to make sure we have one. Clean water for all and reducing animal cruelty are two more on my list.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Felix: There’s that meme of the old guy who’s like “I’m doing great in the music industry, I just turned 26!” and he looks mad old lol. That’s how it is. Man, listen, people in GENERAL these days have to dip out of the bright rectangular prison. Period. Do your work, go in, but MAKE time to get off your phone. That’s a big one. Learn how to stop. I’m still trying to do that, it’s hard today. This thing came out of nowhere, and it’s a Pandora’s box, and it might be just as dangerous as it is enlightening. I was watching Steve Jobs recently and he said something great about what you do for a living, he was like “You HAVE to love what you do. If you don’t, you WILL drop out.” What I’m doing, what we’re doing, it doesn’t make any sense. I should’ve quit 5 times over by now. But I literally can’t, it’s like I said, it’s next to breathing for me, regardless of whether I’m playing to thousands or bumming on the street corner. It IS me. So long story short, if you’re in it like that, there is no “burn out”. You will find a way to keep going, every time.
Chelsea: You have to LOVE what you do like Felix said…If you don’t want to “burn out” take good care of yourself and be discerning with your time and energy.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Felix: I might not get to 5 but let me give this a shot.
- Go in, for you. — — I had a very kumbaya approach, family based approach, when I got to LA. And that doesn’t work, at least not out there. It’s really every man for themselves, and people do work together in a business fashion, but it’s based on money / power. Let your family be your family. I guess for me it was perfecting the definition of what is business and what is family.
- Don’t sign to a major — — — just don’t. And when it is right to do, it will be blatantly obvious. But don’t sign too early, ever. They are not built to scale up artists from the lower levels, only maintain and sauce artists that are already popping.
- Managers won’t help you — — — they won’t. Like labels, until it’s OBVIOUS that you need one, I mean glaringly obvious, you will know — don’t get involved.
- Create what you LOVE — — — this is self explanatory, but we as humans compromise with ourselves, a lot. Set that bar high, don’t be reasonable. If you want to be reasonable, you can go work for someone else’s dream for a nice, steady, secure paycheck. Those tears I find are more inexcusable than the entrepreneur’s tears, for someone who has the talent / desire to lead their own life.
- Money / status ain’t everything — — I never really had a problem with this one, but so many people do. Solid lives are not built on money / status. Live from the inside out, not the outside in.
- Being signed to a Major Label is not going to make or break your career. Times have changed. Artist development is the artists responsibility. Gone are the days of Major Labels becoming super involved and innovative WITH the artist. Build your own team with believers who go just as hard as you do and label or not you will find success.
- Yes, you are an artist but you are now an entrepreneur. You are running a business. You are the boss. You make the calls and run the show. School yourself as much as you can on business enterprising. As an artist you are responsible for so much more than the creative. The creative is the easy part but that is only 35%. The 65% left of branding, social media, emailing, negotiating, meetings, calls etc. truly building- that’s the hard part. That’s the part you have to become equally good at. Even if you have a team, be on top of it because no one will care as much as you do about your own career.
- Fail your way to success and press forward. At home, Felix and I keep this photo up of two miners digging for gold. Miner 1 is far ahead of Miner 2 and is right at the gold. One more dig and he would have found it, but in the photo he has quit and turned around to go home. Miner 2 on the other hand is digging away and has a bit more to go and he is almost to the gold — it is clear he is not giving up. Every failure is a lesson, you don’t know what is right around the corner. The beautiful thing about life is that seasons change.
- Make time for family and loved ones. This is the true wealth of life.
- Be yourself. Make art that reflects your truth. When we follow our heart, we follow God.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them :-)
Felix: They’re all dead! Lol. Actually that one’s easy: Ram Dass.
Chelsea: I got some questions for Kanye
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