A close-up shows everything – contortions of the face that become tell-tale signs of mood, unwanted blemishes revealing age or quality of life, the slightest flaw in a perfect outfit. Nextday/Motown/Universal recording artist STORi is not only ready for her close-up, the singing/songwriting New Jersey native welcomes all to take a good look at who she is, was, and more importantly, who she is quickly becoming.
Before inking her major label deal, STORi added her own unique signature to Queen Latifah’s smash hit “Just Another Day”. Her reinterpretation sparked an undeniable buzz launching the professionally trained vocalist into a calendar of events lined with anything but redundancies.
STORi gets her close-up from SoulTrain.com in this exclusive, and revealing, interview.
Soul Train: What was the first thing that caught your eye when you walked in the studio for your first official photo shoot as a signed recording artist?
STORi: Well…the studio was in a really big warehouse, there was exposed brick everywhere – it just looked very cool. I liked it. I felt very at home. I’m an only child, and everyone was always trying to take my picture when I was younger, so I naturally turned into what they call “a ham”. [Laughs] I…had…a BLAST at the photo shoot! Being a girlie-girl, trying things on, hair and make-up; getting to be that person for a day was great.
Soul Train: Once the shoot started did you start to feel different from who you were when you walked in?
STORi: Yes and no. I feel like if doctors were around they would have just committed me because there were so many things going on inside me. I could have sweat pants, a hoody, and high tops on and feel like the baddest b—ch on the planet. Then I go in and sit in the chair, they work on me – hair, makeup, putting on an outfit – and I transform into another side of that. Sometimes a track will make me feel like a different person; sometimes an outfit will make me feel like a different person. It really just depends on the day.
Soul Train: STORi, have you ever seen the movie Back to the Future?
STORi: WHAAAAAT??????! Of course! [Laughs]
Soul Train: What would you say is your absolute favorite scene?
STORi: Wow…there’s so many great scenes in that movie. That movie’s classic! But I think my all-time favorite is probably at the end when Marty is jamming out at the big dance, he does a couple licks on the guitar then starts doing runs and everybody’s looking at him like he’s CRAZY. [Laughs] Then he tells them they don’t know anything about that yet, I thought that was SO ill.
Soul Train: Yeah, that was a pivotal moment. “…but your kids will love it.”
STORi: Yeah, and he was so in to it! [Laughs] That was a great moment.
Soul Train: Do you think it’s the science or the nostalgia that’s made Back to the Future so popular?
STORi: Hmmm… I don’t know… When you have a great story, a great cast, and people who can deliver funny with good comedic timing, it all just comes together and creates a nostalgic moment. I think it’s a mixture of both.
Soul Train: Do you believe time travel is real?
STORi: I like to think anything is possible. I saw a couple videos floating around on the Internet that would turn a gullible person into a super duper believer. But, for me? I don’t know. Now that we’ve figured out light is not the fast traveling thing, I think anything’s really possible.
Soul Train: If it IS possible, do you think time travel would hurt or help the world?
STORi: If we CAN ever time travel I would be a big fan of a look-but-don’t-touch thing. You never ever know what you can mess up if you go back and re-do something. I’ve made some interesting choices in my life, but I know even if I had a time machine I would just go back and watch it like a movie. I wouldn’t change anything.
Soul Train: Okay STORi, do you have a favorite childhood photo of yourself?
STORi: [Cracks up laughing] I’m sure there’s a couple floating around! When I was younger I lost all pictures of myself when I was kid. There’s a couple floating around in my family that are really cool, but there’s a couple tucked away in my memory no one will ever see because they were destroyed. Maybe I should ask around to see who has any good baby pictures or kid pictures of me. The one on the “Just Another Day” cover art that we used, that’s one of the ones I really love.
Soul Train: When you’re looking at that photo does it take you back in time? Do you feel like you’re reliving that moment?
STORi: Yeah. And it’s a funny picture because I look like I’m either terrified or amazed by something. But the real story is: When I was around that age I was kind of sick of my picture being taken! So, I would make these faces to try and ruin the pictures, and try to discourage people from taking my picture. But it didn’t work, so the pictures just kept getting weirder and weirder! It definitely brings me back to a really fun, fun time.
Soul Train: Lets says you could actually physically go back in time 10 or 15 years and visit your younger self. Do you think you’d be impressed by what you’d become in the future, or would your younger self just think you were some freaky-weird lady?
STORi: No… If my now-self traveled back in time to my younger self, I know my younger self would be SO amazed. I thought to myself throughout my whole life that I was going to do this. I was going to get what I want and make it happen for myself. If I could go back in time and give myself a pep talk, I’d let myself know everything is going to be okay. My younger self would be like, “Oh my gosh, I’m the coolest person ever in the future!”
Soul Train: When I heard your version of “Just Another Day,” it took me back in time. So I feel like you’ve already time traveled. You went back and got this song, one that resonated with a lot of people, and brought it into the future. So what have been the consequences of you doing that – the good and the bad?
STORi: Well… I can’t really see anything bad from that even if people have negative things to say. I couldn’t ever take it as bad because that means they’re listening in the first place. I put stuff out for people to talk about it and have an opinion. I try to keep it as real as possible. So even if you do have a negative opinion, it’s not on some fake s—t. It ain’t for everybody, but they’ll come around eventually.
Soul Train: What about your voice has gotten stronger over time? I don’t mean how you sound, I mean what you mean when you’re speaking.
STORi: Even when I was just covering songs and demoing as a tween, I think I’ve gotten so much better connecting and really getting my message across. It’s been from doing it every single day. I think vocally I’ve gotten way better than I used to be especially when it comes to taking risks, not being afraid to make a weird sound with my voice. In the end it might not be technically what a vocalist would do. And maybe five years ago I would have said you’re never, ever going to do that because technically that’s not cute! With what I’m saying and how I’m saying it, it just kind of works.
Soul Train: So STORi while the camera was flashing during your photo shoot, how often did you flashback to your past life?
STORi: Ummm…not much. I’ve taken a lot of pictures before, and I’ve done quite a few shoots, but I always had to worry about my own looks, my own hair, my own makeup. I pretty much had to do everything on my own. This was the first time where all I had to do was show up and be ready. THAT probably made me think back to when I was younger coming up, and thought, “Damn, things are finally going your way. You don’t have to work so hard, just be you and it’ll happen.” It feels good.
Soul Train: Ten to 15 years from now when you look back on the photos you’ve just taken, what do you want them to remind you of?
STORi: Hmmm… My rebirth. The buzz is building, and there’s people out there, maybe more than I know that know who I am, and they’re starting to get to know me. Now that these pictures are taken we’re going to go buck with them doing the promos and everything. I think when I look back and I see these pictures, I’m going to be reminded this was the time when your life changed forever. That’s going to be a cool thing to look back on.
For more on STORi visit Facebook.com/StoriMusic, SoundCloud.com/Stori, and interact with her on Twitter @StoriMusic.
–Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker, a senior contributor for SoulTrain.com, is an acclaimed entertainment and news journalist published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Former Editor In Chief of both XPOZ Magazine and The Underwire Interactive Magazine, his work has graced the pages and covers of Hear/Say Now Magazine, Notion Magazine, Kalamazoo Gazette Newspaper, MLive.com, and AllHipHop.com. He loves to create, loves that you read. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker Also visit TheGrooveSpt.com and ByMrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.