Studio Visit: Alicia Grimes

Studio Visit is a Q&A with a local artist. Here, The News-Gazette’s Melissa Merli chats with Alicia Grimes of Melvin. The alternative rap artist has amassed more than 1.1 million Twitter followers, more than 440,000 Facebook followers, more than 30,000 likes on her Facebook fan page and more than 550,000 plays on SoundCloud. She also works in marketing on a freelance basis.

When and why did you move from Chicago to Melvin?
I’ve been there 15 years. I brought my kids down here because of all the violence in Chicago. It was terrible.

How did you become an Internet celebrity?
I’ve been working so hard for the past couple of years, marketing myself online and to different music blogs and sites and on Twitter, SoundCloud and YouTube. Twitter really helped me out. I’m one of the top marketing experts on Twitter. I’ve been on the list since Jan. 1, 2015.

Do you write your songs?
Oh, yes. I’m a songwriter and my son here, Mario Fernando Martinez, does all the production and the music. We record everything in our own little studio at home.

Do you perform live?
Pretty soon I’m going to be performing live in Champaign. We’re just looking around right now. I’m planning to do an album-listen party in central Illinois, Chicago and California.

What’s the name of your new album?
“Album 43,” but it’s my first album.

What kind of music do you make?
I do sort of alternative rap, something like rock mixed with rap.

When did you start singing? Have you always been a singer? Did you sing in church?
Not really. My father is a reverend. I never sang in the church choir, but I went to church four times a week. I was doing hip-hop before, when I was younger. A couple of years ago, I started doing alternative rap and changed my whole style then. Nothing with bad words. I try to give a message of love. I do party songs, too. I have one song called “Bills” that I’m going to release soon, about people having money problems.

How many songs have you written?
Seventy-five to 80 and I have my album ready to release. I’m waiting for the right moment. My album-listening tour will probably be by January or February of 2016.

Do you have a degree in marketing?
I went to a training program in Chicago in 1995, graduated and received a certificate. I do YouTube, Facebook and Twitter marketing for musicians. For anybody, really. I can do it for companies, too, and I have my company on the side, Alicia Grimes Promotion. I also have a recording company, Alicia Grimes Entertainment.

Are you looking for a recording deal for yourself?
I’ve been offered a couple of six-figure recording deals, but I didn’t feel like working with the companies. They wanted too much of a percentage. I want to have my own company and be independent. I’m not looking for a major deal right now. I want to do it on my own.

How do you feel about your online celebrity?
A lot of people look up to me, like in the comments after my YouTube videos. Some people are not going to love you, though, but I feel really good about being a celebrity online.

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