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sswriter on Apr 22, 2010 in The ISH
* Writer’s note: This is the second and final part of my interview with the Founder and CEO of Selective Sounds.com Dwayne “SaXx” Larkin. The conversation flowed freely. He seemed open and willing to say how he really felt, not only about his start-up Selective Sounds, but also his short lived time in California hoping to “make it big.”
SSWriter: Tell me about yourself before you became SaXx. How was life for you when you were a child?
SaXx: Both my parents were in the military. My Dad’s from IN and my Mom’s from Jamaica. I spent the first 5 years with my Grandmother and Grandfather because my mother was in the military. She showed up at the door step and said, “Huh.” They’re the most loving people in the world. As far as emotion, sensitivity, what you put out is what you get back – I got from them. Drive, motivation and determination – I learned from my Mother. She doesn’t always think about it. A part of me has to settle and think about something. My Dad was like that. I started playing the saxophone because they told me to; middle school on to high school and so forth. I took it seriously after awhile but didn’t like lessons. I got John Phillip Souza Award. I wouldn’t have imagined that. I also got a band scholarship to Norfolk State University.
It is the best band in the land. I loved the band. My 1st year in we had one of the largest classes…240 of us. One time, we went all the way down to Florida. It is raining. When I say it’s raining, it’s raining hard. Mr. Walker said, “Do you want to do this?” We all scream, “YEAH.” The tunnel was flooded up to our knee caps. Our pre-game performance was flawless. We’re playing the star spangled banner and thunder crashes… I’m thinking, “I’m really in the rain. This is so wild. Was that thunder?” It was wonderful.
SSWriter: Do you remember when you first started writing poetry?
SaXx: It started before 9th grade. Childhood was rough. Dad’s in the military and always gone. Some of that was rough to deal with. So, I’d get mad and start running. I’d run all the way to the neighborhood school and get tired. And realize I had to walk back. That was a bummer. So eventually, I just started writing my thoughts down. I’d go in the back and climb on the shed and just write back there. I entered in a contest at school and won 2nd or 3rd place. It blossomed from there. In college, I got on the spoken word circuit and they were saying things I was thinking. It became my fastest and greatest form of expression. I didn’t need any instruments. I didn’t always have a keyboard. Poetry became a savior for me. Everyone requests a poem called History.
SSWriter: You’re a spoken word artist, publisher, editor, you play the saxophone and I just learned you play the keyboard.
SaXx: Actually, I write my own music for my own tracks. It’s hard to shell out money to get someone to write your stuff or get my hand on some tracks. I write all my own music. It’s easier to orchestrate all the parts on a keyboard. I only play my stuff. I don’t play other people’s things. (1) It takes time to learn it and (2), my mind works funny. For example, I was on my grandmother’s piano, playing, tinkering. I had some chords and thought this is hot! Turned out I was playing “Pretty Young Thing” by Michael Jackson. So, when I’m in a writing mode, I don’t listen to other people’s music because it seeps in.
SSWriter: Speaking of other people’s music: tell me about your love/hate relationship with the radio.
SaXx: I like the radio because when a song is played on the radio, people get paid. If I’m one of those people and they’re playing it all the time, I’m constantly getting paid, right? As a listener I want to hear variety; what’s hot right now and everything else. Actually, I don’t listen to the radio. I listen to talk shows because I’m tired of hearing the same thing everyday. When I hear it all day long, I think I used to like that song. I’m in love with R&B artists. A lot of them are writing and taking their time to try to write. So I’m feeling that. I wish club hits would stay in the club. When they’re on the radio, it’s taking away from the balladeers who are taking time with writing, the music, the lyrics and taking time to put this great music. But they get drowned out by all these club hits because that’s what people want to bump in their car. They can bump on their CDs. But, the radio stuff. I want to hear everything. I want to be an artist who does R & B and crosses over and does a little bit of everything. I do country. Anyone out there need a country song? Call me.
SSWriter: How is your album coming?
SaXx: I’m slowly working on a personal album. I think about 9 songs. Three or four only are studio finished. The rest of them are written but I have to take them to the studio. That’s where the money comes in. It’s always so expensive. Hopefully, Selective Sounds blows up so I can just finish this album and call it a day. It’s not hopefully. It’s ‘when’ it will blow up. Cause the album’s getting rough. I love it. There are parts here and there I need to work on but I like it.
SSWriter: You spent some time in California “Hollywood Swinging.” What did you do related to the music industry while you were out there?
SaXx: I tried to make it. Reality is really rough because everyone is trying to make it…get your piece of Hollywood. There were cats on a curb saying “free listens.” That’s how you get it out there. It’s rough… I went out there. I did it wrong. I went for music and attached to someone. Our paths crossed about how we were going to do it. I just left things back here like my condo (in Virginia) and went with her. I didn’t cut things well. I didn’t rent anything out… I did video graphics and editing. In the evening, I was in this studio working on a record for a girl who was on Flava Flav show, trying to rap. Get her album together. It’s going well. Then everything blew up on the relationship side. Looking back, I should have said, “screw it.” I tried to fix that or work it out. They were going to try to take my condo from here (Virginia). On the music side, stuff was going up and personal side, stuff going down.
So again, I packed up and just left. I left the apartment I was renting and got on a plane… Everything happens for a reason… A month after I got back, my Mom had to have a major operation….It was complicated. I needed to be here for her. And I also hustled 4-5 jobs so I wouldn’t lose my condo.
SSWriter: Why’d you let your music career go ahead and suffer in California?
SaXx: Things didn’t work out. I moved out and got my own spot. It’s funny. I laid up on a blow up mattress with a hole in it. Everyday at 3:00am, I had to get up and put air in it. And three hours later it’d be time to wake up, the mattress ran out of air. I’m laying on the floor with a cranked neck. But, I was content with that. But, because I was paying the money there and sending money to send back to my condo. I didn’t want the condo taken away because that was cushion. Thinking about it, I don’t regret anything. But, if I did it again, I’m not sure I would have done any of that the same way. You know? If did go out there the same way, I would have let the condo go. Actually, I would have stayed, if I did it again. I’d probably just screw it, you know? But, everything happens for a reason, like I said. I wouldn’t have been back for my Mom and other stuff…So…yeah.
So, it wasn’t the relationship, per se. It was many other things to go with it. The relationship didn’t help. I don’t knock picking up and going. I’ll do it again. Like, if I had a purpose or a reason or a flame or a thought in my head as to an idea how I can make it happen, I’d do it a little different, but I’m Audi, I’m gone! And I think you always have to be on top of that dream. You can’t let it go.
Funny story: When we first went out there, we did it big. First, I had finally got a job and we’re in this really nice complex. It’s like 4th of July and I’m hearing this bowling noise in the ceiling. It’s really loud so apparently the people upstairs are having a party. But it’s 4th of July and I’m letting it slide even though I have to work in the morning. But, 2:00 in the morning, I say, “ok this has got to stop.” My hair is out. I’m laying on the couch and have this huge fro. So, I drag on some pants and the girl I was with said, “Where you going?” I said, “I can’t take it.” She says thank you. So, I get up. Go up the steps to like the penthouse floor, know what I’m saying. The door happened to be open. I got lucky. So, I see these two guys out front. I say, “Yo, ya’ll throwing a party or something? “Is it loud? We’re sorry.” “Yeah” “By the way, I’m Shemar Moore.” “Yeah, I know who you are. But, can you hold that down? It’s loud.” (laughter)
I don’t know what they were doing inside. He was outside which is good because I was looking crazy and would have been busting into the party like woooo! He was real cool. Then I went on back downstairs. That was one of the funniest things because I wasn’t expecting it and I hadn’t seen him. That was funny.
There were a lot of funny moments. I did all the fun things like Disney Land, traveling up and down. Oh, I got job out there with a company called Make it Work. It’s like the Geek Squad. I’m driving around in this little red Mini Cooper. It was brand new, leather seats, “Make it Work” written on the side of it. It was hot. So, after the breakup, it’s was tough. That was my mode of transportation. I believe that whenever you need something, you get a job doing it. We broke up. I didn’t have no way around. I got that job. They gave me a car, a laptop and a phone. (laughter) I was pushing. I know a lot of LA now because I had to do house calls. I was pushing it. Met up with some other cats doing music. Then things snow balled. Really, had I stayed out there a lot of things may have happened. I still have some of the contacts. It’s not over.
SSWriter: SaXx, what’s up with your hair?
SaXx: You know, cause I like it. It’s really simple as that. People ask that and I realize, I just like it and some days I don’t. I used to cut it every year. I’d wear it out for a year. It’d grow like a chia pet. December, January… And it would grow and grow then I would cut. Then when I cut it, I’d miss it. When I’d grow it long, I’d want it gone. Here lately, it’s been long for awhile just because. I think, do I really want to cut it off? It’ almost the longest I’ve had it. If you were to pull it now, it’s like at my shoulder. So, I’m like, do I really want to cut it? I’ve been daydreaming about cutting it so, it might go. Really, it’s just my expression. Some people have tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos. I don’t have any piercings. It’s kind of my expression. Right now, I have it pulled back in a pony tail cause I was doing some things. But later on, it will be out in this big curly fro. When I go to get it cut, it’s the craziest thing cause I’ll pick it out. I’ll dry it and everything and pick it out…And I’m driving in this little car and my hair is out the window. People are like honking and going YEAH. And I’m going, getting it cut! So, it’s hilarious to watch people. And I’m not even exaggerating. Every time my hair is out, people are honking and waving and giving me the thumbs up and I’m just laughing.