Lydia Caesar: Shining Through

Nowadays it's harder than ever for new artists to stand out in the ever so competitive world of independent music. One emerging young female singer from Queens, New York, Lydia Caesar, is familiar with that grind all too well. With N.Y.C. being the most concentrated place for music artists to shine through, Lydia managed to capture the interest of many with her remix of Musiq Soulchild's "Buddy.” As her voice graces stages and mixtapes, her hustle doesn't stop there. Besides being a mother and a student, her accessories line and a budding acting career keep Ms. Caesar busy when she's not making music. On the Judgment Day of Kanye vs. 50, we caught up with Lydia Caesar in New York right across the street from Kanye West greeting his fans at the Virgin Megastore. With that symbolic power of musical commerce, Lydia shared with us her plans to join that race as a star-runner. Alternatives: Why did you feel it was necessary to remix the song “Buddy”?Lydia Caesar: I love the song. I felt the song was hot and I personally didn’t think that the song meant what people said it meant. I really just thought it was kinda like his first single that ever came out [“Jusfriends”].AHHA: When I interviewed Musiq Soulchild he felt that you can be both lovers and friends with a woman. After hearing your remix it seems as though you think otherwise?Lydia: No, I think that you can be both. I just don’t think it’s cool to be just sex partners, at least not for me. If you have a mutual agreement then okay, but for me I think it’s better [when it’s] something with some substance. If you can find both that’s amazing, you can be friends and you can also be lovers and partners and all of that stuff. So I do think that you can be both. If my remix says otherwise, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean for it to come off like that. I wanted it to [show that] it’s cool to be buddies, but I want it to be more than that. I wanna be your woman, I wanna be your lady. I don’t want to be just some girl you’re sleeping with. AHHA: You seem to have your hands full with being a mother, student and having your own company. What still motivates you to pursue a career in music?Lydia: I feel it was a gift, I love to sing. I’ve been singing since I was about five in church, so I would say that is the major motivating factor. And also other music, I really vibe off of hearing other music. It inspires me so much where I feel like I can give other people the feeling that is given to me by artists out there. John Mayer is like one of my favorites right now. I love Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Beyonce. I think she’s an amazing singer, she’s a great entertainer. I love John Legend. Kanye [is a] good Hip-Hop artist.AHHA: You just mentioned Kanye, are you into Hip-Hop?Lydia: I’m into Hip-Hop, I would say not a whole lot. I do like more conscious Hip-Hop so more along the lines of Mos Def, Common and Kanye. I like Jay-Z, he’s dope.AHHA: With that whole thing between 50 cent and Kanye West...Lydia: I’m all for Kanye West, all day! I just think he’s a better artist. 50 Cent is good too, but if I had to choose I’m on team Kanye. AHHA: Do you have any worries raising a child while pursuing your entertainment career?Lydia: Sometimes. I feel that I might not be able to be with her as much. I wonder if I’m ever blessed to be able to go on tour, am I going to be able to bring her with me. I think about things like that but I know that this is what I’m supposed to do. Her father is a producer and I’m a singer, he’s a musician so it’s in her. She comes to the studio with me all the time. She sings in the car all the way to the studio. She always sees me singing. She’s with me when I’m writing my songs. Sometimes it concerns me, but I also think it’s gonna benefit her in her future. AHHA: Being that you’re so young and involved in so many ventures, how important is it to you not to limit yourself to just singing?Lydia: I think it’s important because I feel like I’m a well-versed individual. Like my accessories line - I love to create. I love it! It’s something that I just stumbled upon for myself, just making jewelry for myself. I got such a good response from people, I feel like it’s something else that I need to give to others. I know how it makes me feel when I get a hot piece of jewelry or a hot accessory, you know what I mean? To be involved in acting, these are all gifts that God has given me. I don’t want to limit myself, I want to try and give them all back. AHHA: What do you end up giving most of your time to?Lydia: Music. I would honestly say I’m giving like 90% of myself to music. My accessories line is not getting what it needs but, I feel like if you have your hands in too much, you’ll be giving a little to each. Right now I’m focusing mostly on my music, and I feel once I get some sense of stability where that’s concerned, I’ll be able to do the other things also. AHHA: Do you have any future plans for your company Caesarwest Designs, like a clothing line for example?Lydia: I don’t see that. I see more of a complete accessories line. Right now we just do earrings. I can see [it] becoming more of an accessories line where we can make bags, belts, shoes, all of that – even glasses. I don’t really see clothing, but hey if God would open that door for me then I would gladly walk in.AHHA: In today’s industry it’s not only about the talent anymore, but a marketable image and a great live performance. How do you set out to fulfill those expectations?Lydia: Practice, practice, practice. Always making sure that you’re representing yourself well. You don’t have to put on your heels all the time but still try to look cute and approachable; still try to look like an artist. For me, honestly it’s just who I am. I’ve always been very loud and funky when it comes to how I dress. So it works out. I don’t necessarily need a stylist, I can style myself which is great cause it saves money. Making sure that when your fans hear you on your CD and then they see you live, they’re not disappointed. I like to have a better live performance than my CD. I like for people to be like wow, she’s even better live. It also takes doing shows. I’ve seen a tremendous difference in myself from my first show and where I am now. AHHA: How is it that you have such a natural performance?Lydia: It’s two things. It’s one, being connected with my music ‘cause it’s all mine. I write everything so I feel comfortable with it. A lot of time you can tell the difference between when I’m doing a cover song and when I’m doing my song. Also, I’m an actress so it helps. I’m studying acting in school. It’s just a part of my personality. I think that comes across on the stage so I have a sense of comfort and I think people can see that. AHHA: With you studying theater, what character portrays Lydia Caesar best?Lydia: Oh my gosh, that’s so hard. I would choose a Disney character. I would say Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I would say Ariel because she was very free spirited. She knew what she wanted, she wanted Prince Eric. She wanted to live outside of the ocean and she did that. Using her as an example, she got into some trouble along the way. I find that’s my story a lot of times. I have what I want, set it my mind, and I’m gonna do it. A lot of time that’s not always the best, sometimes you have to listen to others around you and take advice. But I’m very, very bull-headed and opinionated.AHHA: Being that you’re still in college, do you go out to party with your friends? Lydia: Definitely go out with my friends, we go out dancing and have a good time. I would say mostly what we do for fun is we go eat. We love food, we’re all mad greedy. I also like to go to other shows, seeing other artists on the come up. I saw Beyonce in concert at the Garden – that was amazing. I love music. If I can get out and see other performers I do that too for like down time.AHHA: What is your favorite food?Lydia: Spanish food. I love spanish food. But I also love, West Indian food too. I'm West Indian so, I love like the jerk chicken and curry goat and oxtail, plantains. I also wasn't raised eating Spanish food, so once I was up on it I'm addicted. AHHA: Do you have an album in the works?Lydia: I'm looking to hopefully release my album in February. I've been recording for three years now. I'm taking my time with it, I actually have enough material to put an album out within the next month or so. But I'm taking my time and [continuing to] record so that I have a good amount of songs to choose from and it can be something that will hold weight on it's own. People will love it, it will speak to people and it will inspire people. I'm really, really lookin' forward to that.