Interviews

READ FOR PIXELS INTERVIEW: Faith Hunter

As part of The Pixel Project’s Read For Pixels campaign, we interview authors from genres as diverse as Science Fiction and Fantasy to Romance to Thrillers about why they support the movement to end violence against women and girls. 

Today we welcome New York Times bestselling author Faith Hunter who writes three series: the Jane Yellowrock series, dark urban fantasy novels featuring Jane, a Cherokee Skinwalker; the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy/post apocalyptic series and role playing game featuring Thorn St. Croix; and the Soulwood series featuring Nell Nicholson Ingram. Faith was to take part in a live Read For Pixels Google Hangout but due to unexpected technical issues with Google Hangout, Faith has very kindly agreed to do this exclusive interview instead.

Faith is also taking part in the 4th annual International Women’s Day Edition of the Read For Pixels campaign fundraiser by generously donating a very special perk to help raise funds for The Pixel Project – she has assembled an exclusive goodie bundle featuring personalised and signed books (including the ARC of the upcoming Jane Yellowrock novel DARK QUEEN), an exclusive micro story that only the donor has access to for 12 months in advance of everyone else (Faith will be printing it out and signing it!), and Yellowrock swag galore. This is available for one (1) generous donor only so hurry over to the Read For Pixels IWD 2018 fundraising page to donate to get it before someone else does!

(UPDATE: Faith’s goodie bundle has been picked up by a fan who pounced on it the moment it was posted! However, there are plenty more goodies available from authors including Aliette de Bodard, Ann Aguirre, Genevieve Valentine, Kimberly Derting, Lauren Oliver, Leigh Bardugo, Lynn Flewelling, Molly Harper, and more.)

If you’d like to have a chance to participate in live Q&As online with other award-winning bestselling authors who will be having live Read For Pixels Google Hangouts over the rest of March 2018, check out the schedule here.

And now, over to Faith…

Picture courtesy of Faith Hunter and book covers courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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FaithHunter10

1. Welcome to The Pixel Project‘s Read For Pixels campaign, Ms Hunter! Thank you so much for your support for the anti-violence against women work that we do. Let’s start by talking about your signature female protagonist Jane Yellowrock and newcomer Nell Ingram who is fast becoming a fan favourite. We absolutely love both of them! Who and what were your inspiration for Jane and Nell?

That’s a hard one seriously! As a commercial writer, ideas and characters are always floating around in my head. It isn’t inspiration that I need to find new characters, it’s the time and work and willingness create something new.

In Jane Yellowrock’s case, I was having tea with Kim Harrison (yes, that Kim Harrison) when the idea for a Cherokee skinwalker character began to grow. She had been banging around in my brain for a while (Jane, not Kim) but sitting and sipping allowed the character to germinate, along with an idea for a plot and conflict that would allow her to develop. Not a vampire main character, which was the most common type of Urban Fantasy character at the time, but a monster hunter, a vampire hunter with all the skills and abilities and tools to get the job done.

Nell came from my garden. The knowledge that plants can think and react and alter their environments to make them more habitable has been around for a long time. So why not a paranormal character who might be something like a dryad? Nell is a gardener, a plant whisperer who empathises with plants on a much deeper level than a regular human, and who also solves paranormal crimes on the side!

 

2. Neither Jane nor Nell are typical urban fantasy heroines – they have learning curves, they make mistakes, and they often get frustrated by men trying to control, thwart, or manipulate them. In other words, their experiences very much mirror the experiences of many women and girls worldwide. Was it a conscious decision on your part to portray them like this or did they evolve organically to be this way?

Yes and no. There is manipulation in all less-than-brutally-honest personal relationships. In the case of the world in which Jane Yellowrock and Nell Ingram live, there are also the paranormal creatures, apex predators, who, because of the cultures and times they came from, are master manipulators, selfish creatures who are as likely to use force to get their way as gamesmanship. They are beings and creatures who fight and influence and maneuver their way through what passes for relationships in their world, seeking control and power

All that said, I grew up in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, which were times of shifting gender roles and sudden sexual and personal freedoms, as well as the advent of the US civil rights movement. All those changes are hardwired into me, part of the reality I lived and still live, and part of my creative processes too. We have come so far and yet have so very, very, very far to go. So… the answer to the question is yes, my main characters evolved organically. And no, they are a product of my imagination and my personal and cultural history.

 

FlameintheDark_Web-cover-final3. You have tackled the issue of violence against women (including domestic violence, rape, and forced marriage) head on in the SOULWOOD series and handled it extremely well through the eyes and voice of Nell Ingram. Why did you decide to make violence against women a major theme in SOULWOOD and what were the particular challenges that you faced when writing about the issue through the story?

Working her way into the normal world, after growing up in a polygamous cult, Nell sees the dangers to women and children from both the inside, as a victim, and from the outside, as a recovering victim. Violence against women is not the purpose of the series, but that violence is what Nell sees, what she is attuned to, and what she is most capable of dealing with. It is also what she is most likely to take on. She has sisters still in the cult and from the beginning she refused to cut and run and leave them behind. Protecting her sisters, being there as a safe haven, is what makes her tick. Because violence against women and children is a major part of the character’s background, it permeates the series.

Yet, the biggest challenge as the writer has been to keep all that in the background, to make it less than front and center, more organic rather than in your face. To show without telling.

 

4.  Both the JANE YELLOWROCK and SOULWOOD series also go straight to the heart of the roots of violence against women – patriarchy, misogyny, and toxic masculinity. We see this in SOULWOOD where Nell’s former church is poisoned by the misogyny of the church male elders’. We also see this is Rick LaFleur’s story arc and Leo Pellissier’s actions. What’s striking is that unlike many Fantasy novels that normalise or even romanticise toxic masculine behaviour, your stories make it crystal clear that these masculine norms and behaviours are absolutely unacceptable. How have your own fans responded to your repudiation of toxic masculinity? Do you think that this kind of writing is able to engender discussion of and change the conversation around misogyny and toxic masculinity in the genre and fandom?

Thematic issues in books and series are and should be secondary to the storytelling. If the themes come before the plot and conflict and character development, the writing gets tired fast. So, while the underlying theme in the books is women who can stand on their own two feet and who don’t put up with bullshit, that is the unspoken truth, not the purpose of the story.

My characters are women who don’t need others to make them whole. Characters, and for that matter, real people, who feel incomplete without others, who feel weak without others, who feel empty and frightened unless they are part of a herd, have a mentality will never let them be true heroes. My characters, despite being flawed and having real weaknesses, are not herd creatures. They stand alone and they stand and fight for what’s right. And that means taking on the big bad uglies of society.

My fans seem to love it! As to whether my characters engender discussion and change the conversation about misogyny, I have no idea. I  hope so. But that is thematic. I just tell stories.

 

5. On the flipside, we also see excellent examples of positive masculinity as embodied by Eli and Alex Younger (JANE YELLOWROCK) and Occam (SOULWOOD) who all demonstrate that masculinity is not dependent on dominating and oppressing women and that treating women as equal human beings should be a given. Was this a deliberate choice to not only break stereotypes but also address toxic masculinity and the violence, pain and havoc it brings (including violence against women)?

I like heroes. Heroes lift others up, put others first. Heroes are not made smaller when others are made larger. Heroes know who they are and want the best for others. They are loyal and self-defining. They are strong enough to be soft. My male heroes and my female heroes fit this definition.

 

6. Sexual consent is sometimes a blurry area in many urban fantasy and paranormal romance books but as we can see from Jane’s relationship with Bruiser and Nell’s relationship with Occam, it is possible to have a healthy relationship with enthusiastic consent and not lose an ounce of romance or sexual tension. Do you think this blurred line is an issue that writers in the genre are now actively addressing and what tips can you give to less experienced writers who want to ensure that consent is part of the relationship equation for their characters?

Yes! I see writers, male and female both, addressing the concept of consent and it makes me leap for joy! I see us addressing Stockholm syndrome, and the way predators often groom their victims. I see us changing the way romantic courtship takes place, showing a way into sexual and romantic relationships that do not include prey/predator roles. I’ve been talking about thematic nuances and thematic underpinnings, and consent, for me, is not part of the thematic underlayment of a book or series. For me, mature sexuality is part of character development and character development is a device that is conscious, part of the in-your-face storytelling. Consent is part of the way people and characters show respect for each other.

As a writer, I have to be aware that immature people and immature relationships almost always follow toxic formulas. It’s easy to write an immature character and a lot harder to write a full bodied mature character. I try to take the hard road. Always. The hard road means a better book.

Advice for less experienced writers? Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t write what is easy. Write what is difficult. Write the thing that makes you sweat and weep and push through to make your book and your characters work.

 

DarkQueen7. Over the years, a number of authors who have participated in the Read For Pixels campaign said in one way or another that authors can help stop violence against women by telling the right stories. In your opinion and experience, how can authors strike a balance in their storytelling between raising awareness about sexism and violence against women and telling an engaging story without being pedantic or preachy or falling back on toxic tropes?

The pen is mightier than the sword, right? My job isn’t to teach or preach or show toxicity. My job isn’t to change the world. Not that I’m stepping away from responsibility or opportunity. But “showing a better way” and “preaching a new concept” has to be secondary to writing a good story. THAT is my job. The conflict resolution and character development have to come first. If people see a lesson in the thematic underpinnings of a story, well that is great and I am honoured. But ripping the blinders off of society is a tough job. Telling a great story is what they pay me for. And the times I can do both? That is icing on the cake!

 

8. Geek culture in general (including Science Fiction and Fantasy) has had its share of critics saying that it’s still too male-dominated despite a rising number of prominent, well-respected, and well-known female authors such as yourself. What do you think needs to be done to make Geek culture as a whole whether it’s comics or gaming or books – more welcoming for women and girls?

Honestly, I think a lot of men – not just geek men — have no idea how to have healthy relationships with women. Maybe instituting “How To” classes in high school? Teaching roles in conversation, so guys can have discussions with women instead of stalking them? Teaching men how to tell when they’ve have reached a final line and need to turn away? Giving demonstration in what stalking is?  Teaching women how to say “No,” with a lot more finality? Teaching women that it’s okay to be firm and direct and even pointedly mean (if necessary) when we say no? Teaching women that we don’t have to be polite and sweet in the face of harassing persistence. Basic stuff needs to be taught in adolescence.

And if it’s the adult men we want to teach, then panels in ComicCons, titled “How to Attract a Woman and NOT Be A Dick”? I know that sounds silly but, it needs to be taught somehow somewhere. I’d love to sit on a panel with that topic!

 

9. Publishing has started having its own #MeToo reckoning with survivors coming forward to name a number of male authors and editors as having a history of behaving extremely inappropriately towards female colleagues (including workplace bullying and sexual harassment and assault at cons). What do you think the publishing industry can and/or should do to address this issue?

Fire the publishers and editors who have more than one accuser. I say “more than one accuser,” because one woman might use the #MeToo movement as way to get revenge on a man for other things. But where there is a lot of smoke, fire the men (and the women) accused. And then do their parts by buying books for publication that depict healthy adult relationships. Publishers and editors should make it a point to recognise toxic attitudes in the books they buy and help writers to take a step in the right direction of depicting healthier relationships.

For me personally, I have refused to blurb any book that uses toxic predator/prey methodologies, Stockholm syndrome, or other toxic tropes in the romantic angle. I have no idea what the editors think when I tell them no, that I won’t blurb a book that depicts toxic elements as a norm, but I am very frank in my replies about the problems. We all have a responsibility, and this is where I take my stand. I say no. A lot.

 

10. You have been so very incredibly supportive of our “Read For Pixels” campaign and our anti-Violence Against Women work as a whole. Why do you support ending violence against women and what do you think authors can do to help end the violence?

I worked in a hospital lab for 40 years. I was part of the evidence collection for rape victims. It was horrible. Utterly horrible, what victims have to go through, even after an assault. Throughout my entire life, I’ve seen abusive relationships, and not just abusive men, but abusive women too. It’s a human problem, a victim problem, not just a women’s problem.

That said, I have female writer friends who have suffered abuse and who have been dragged through the dirt, vilified, threatened, and abused again when they speak up against their accusers in the publishing arena. It’s my job as a human being to stand with them when they name names and call the guilty accountable. It’s all our jobs. We have to get off our asses and fight to be human. Together.

READ FOR PIXELS INTERVIEW: Ian Whates

As part of The Pixel Project‘s Read For Pixels campaign, we interview authors from genres as diverse as Science Fiction and Fantasy to Romance to Thrillers about why they support the movement to end violence against women and girls. 

In this interview, we talk to Ian Whates who is the author of seven novels, the co-author of two more, and editor of thirty-odd anthologies. Seventy of his short stories have appeared in various venues and his work has been shortlisted for the Philip K Dick Award and twice for BSFA Awards. In 2006, Ian founded award-winning independent publisher NewCon Press by accident.

NewCon Press is taking part in the 4th annual International Women’s Day Edition of the Read For Pixels campaign by donating a Mystery Book Box to help raise funds for The Pixel Project. NewCon Press will send this box anywhere in the world to one (1) generous donor only! More details are available on the Read For Pixels fundraising page.

If you’d like to have a chance to participate in live Q&As online with 12 other award-winning bestselling authors who will be having live Read For Pixels Google Hangouts, check out the schedule here.

And now, over to Ian…

Picture courtesy of Ian Whates.

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Ian Whates 31. Why is ending violence against women important to you and why did you decide to take action about it by supporting The Pixel Project

I believe violence against anybody to be wrong, particularly when it involves somebody in a position of perceived authority or strength victimising someone more vulnerable – be that in terms of gender, race, or social standing. I’ve never understood the drive to exercise power in this way. Women in different cultures around the world have frequently been cast as victims of the desire to dominate, to hurt, to control, and any undertaking such as the Pixel Project, dedicated to highlighting and opposing such behaviour, has to merit support.

 

2. You have very generously offered to donate a couple of Mystery Book Boxes – one for each of our Read For Pixels campaign in 2018 – in support of our anti-VAW work. As the founder of the acclaimed NewCon Press, what do you think publishers can do to help stop violence against women apart from raising funds?

There’s a temptation to say ‘not much’, but that would be shirking responsibility, and that word is key: responsibility. Publishers, particularly when they are as niche as my own, have very limited influence on the world, but that’s not the same as having no influence.  There is an onus on us to behave responsibly in selecting what we publish; by ensuring that unacceptable behaviour is either omitted entirely or shown to be unacceptable and portrayed in a light that vilifies both the act and those who resort to it, we can make a difference. A very small difference perhaps – a drop in the ocean – but the cumulative effect of enough drops over time can contribute to change.

 

3. As a prominent male author and editor, what do you think men in the publishing industry can do to help stop violence against women?

From the editing and publishing perspective, I can only echo much of what I said in response to the previous question. When something comes across my desk (or screen) that shocks me for the wrong reasons, I will always go back to the author and explain why I reacted in this way and why a given scene or phrase is not acceptable.

As a writer, a lot of what I write reflects my own beliefs, my own moral compass; I sometimes write a character or a scene intended to shock, but when doing so I always look to incorporate a payoff that delivers justice or restores balance. I think, as authors, we have a duty to consider moral issues while seeking to entertain, or thrill, or amuse. In many ways it’s a great privilege to present our work to readers in the hope and expectation that they will enjoy the results. With privilege comes responsibility – that word again. I am under no illusion that my writing is significant enough to educate anybody, but I have certainly used it to highlight issues, and if some aspect of a story should give a reader pause, or cause them to reassess, so much the better.  As writers, we have a responsibility; that doesn’t mean we should ever allow that to become a burden or govern our imagination, but neither can we afford to ignore it.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – ULRIKA, Sweden

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our twenty-third featured artist is  ULRIKA. ULRIKA’S gifted voice and songwriting blurs the lines between pop, indie and electro. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, Ulrika crafted her powerful voice throughout many years of choir school and classical training. With a unique and spirited personality, her global appeal and sound has been compared to artists such as Sia, Ellie Goulding, and Gwen Stefani. Aside from lending her eyes to CoverGirl and her voice to an international campaign for Gillette, Ulrika has been featured in H&M’s 2014 summer magazine. She has reached notable success on YouTube with millions of views and thousands of followers, which has led to sponsorships with TC-Helicon and Tannoy Speakers. Ulrika’s debut single “Animal” was well received by bloggers around the world and has been referred to as “epic pop”. She will be releasing her full EP Summer 2015. To learn more about ULRIKA and her music, visit her YouTube channel or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide.

Donations begin at just US$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Ulrika 1Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

My name is ULRIKA. I’m a Swedish pop artist and writer, now located in Atlanta, GA. I have classical schooling, but knew from an early age that the pop genre would be the most natural and important one for me to take on as a career. The Pixel Project’s mission is something I feel strongly about supporting. The overall message in my songs is inspiring and self-empowering. I believe that especially young females need a strong, positive role model in music.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?

I was raised in Sweden which ranks as one of the world’s most gender-egalitarian countries, based on firm belief that men and women should share power and influence equally. Because of the social values of my country and upbringing, I think it’s pretty self-evident that violence shouldn’t exist and especially not violence against women.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

Music is one of the most powerful tools to influence society. You can’t escape music.  It’s in your home, at the mall, in the car, on your trip etc. If a song is written correctly it can help spread a positive and educational message to the uninformed. It can raise awareness and inspire the community to take action while empowering the abused women to get out of their situation.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

We can raise awareness by writing songs on the topic. We can perform and speak at events like The Pixel Project. We can use our “power” and be vocal about issues like this in social media and such outlets to inspire our fans to get emotionally and actively engaged.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Rochelle Diamante, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our twenty-second featured artist is Rochelle Diamante.  Also known as RoRo, Rochelle Diamante is the multi-talented, singer-songwriter and actress quickly making a name for herself in Hollywood.  Originally from Seattle, RoRo developed her love for music at an early age and in 2005 decided to begin making music her career. Buzz about RoRo quickly began to spread after she made her debut on YouTube in 2010 where she has amassed over 26 million views.  

RoRo has worked on hit recording and writing projects with various big producers including David Ryan Harris (John Mayer), Blake English (Kelly Rowland, Brandy), Mike Mac (Beluga Heights), and the incomparable Lauren Christy (The Matrix Team). After signing with Buskin Records/WBR in 2014, RoRo has been working tirelessly with an amazing team on production of several new singles and a new video scheduled for release in 2015. To find out more about Roro, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, or check out her videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide.

Donations begin at just US$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Rochelle DiamanteTell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

I’ve been singing since I was 10 years old and ever since I started, I’ve wanted to use my music to make a difference. There are so many women who need help and I am honoured to help raise awareness for this cause.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?       

It’s wrong! Violence in general needs to stop. But there are women dealing with violence everyday, trapped and scarred. We can make a difference.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

Music is life. It’s all around us. There is not one person on earth who doesn’t have a favourite song, favourite band, etc… Play music and people will come and be more willing to learn about the cause and help in any way they can.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Music artists have an influence on their fans that can help shine a light on issues their fans may not have known about. Opening their minds is the doorway to opening their hearts to help those in need while at the same time giving them knowledge to prevent it from ever happening to them.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Olivia Thai, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our twentty-first featured artist is Olivia Thai.  She is a powerhouse name in the Asian American new media scene for comedy and music. She posted her first video on YouTube in 2007, which grew quickly to amass over 21 million views, 150,000 loyal fans, and appearances in magazines, newspapers, television, and film.

She has since moved on from her days in sketch comedy, and in less than a year, the combination of her unique persona and thought-provoking original music has gained worldwide media coverage. Olivia and her guitar, Monna Lisa Lucille are currently on an international tour performing the 100+ original songs written in two months. To find out more about Olivia, check out her videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide.

Donations begin at just US$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Olivia Thai 1Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

Hello! I’m Olivia, a musician and comedic actress who has been in the public eye for a decade now.  There couldn’t be a better time for me to participate in The Pixel Project’s Music for Pixels Summer Charity Concert personally, but I truly believe this is a deeply rooted issue that can and has negatively affected generations of people. I recently wrote and released a song specifically dedicated to victims of domestic abuse, and I am truly honored to play this live for the first time on the internet at this event.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?       

I believe that there simply needs to be more love and trust in today’s society.  Ending domestic violence against women, men, and children will change all our lives for the better. Love and trust can be restored between strangers, and ultimately, that is what I want for all people.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

Violence derives from anger and results in pain. I have and always will deal with both of these emotions through music and creativity. I want to help the community the best way I know how, which is sharing my experiences through music.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

I understand that it is difficult to relate if they haven’t personally experienced or witnessed domestic violence cases. However, when we take the time to do our research and reach out to people outside of our comfort zones, we can help many more people through the arts. This is something I do on a daily basis. I allow everyone I meet to inspire my music. It is a truly humbling experience, and I highly encourage all songwriters to explore this.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Nathen Aswell, Canada

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our twentieth featured artist is Nathen Aswell. A gifted speaker and recording artist based in Vancouver, Canada, and he believes that his calling in this life is to inspire and heal through his words and music. His CDs “Little By Little” and “YES” are celebrations of life, transformation, evolution and the oneness of humanity.  Nathen honours his calling by speaking and performing internationally at Conferences, Concerts, Men’s Retreats and Churches, presenting his music, stories and humour with his voice and the NS Stick (an 8-stringed electronic instrument that can be plucked like a bass, strummed like a guitar, or tapped with both hands like a piano). To find out more about Nathen, follow him on Facebook, or check out his videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide.

Donations begin at just US$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Nathen AswellTell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

My mission is to inspire and heal through my words, actions and music, and being a part of The Pixel Project is an opportunity to do just that.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?       

Ending violence against ANY being, male or female, is important to me. We are all manifestations of God / Higher Consciousness / Perfect Love and every one of us needs to be fully loved, honoured and celebrated as such.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

It helps to raise awareness and change consciousness in a way that words alone cannot.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

LISTEN to the women in our lives. Let them fully tell their stories, so that our hearts break and we fully understand the issue in our HEARTS – not just in our heads.

Share stories / write songs about how this issue has personally affected us (the music artists) and the women in our lives.

Be a part of events like this Pixel Project concert to help raise awareness.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Miguel Dakota, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our nineteenth featured artist is Miguel Dakota. Miguel Dakota is a soulful and passionate singer/guitar player from Colorado. His first encounters with music came from his parents who brought him to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at just 10 days old. The festival, which brought the music of B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, and Eric Clapton to the stage, left a lasting impact on Miguel’s heart for music. At age 11, Miguel received his first guitar and began learning to play and write music.

In 2014, Miguel was a contestant and finalist on NBC’s Americas Got Talent where he covered such songs as The Beatles “Come Together”, “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes, and “Billie Jean” By Michael Jackson and caught the attention of the masses with his soulful and heart felt vocals. After his first audition, Simon Cowell tweeted, “Miguel Dakota. A future star…”. On the show’s finale episode, Miguel performed alongside the incredible Lenny Kravitz to Lenny’s “American Woman”

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide.

Donations begin at just US$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Miguel Dakota 2Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

My name is Miguel Dakota. I am a singer/songwriter from Monument, CO. I was a finalist on Season 9 of America’s Got Talent. I have pursuing my love for music since receiving my first guitar at the age of 11. Creating music that is therapy for me and connects to my audience is the reason I love song writing. I wanted to be a part of the Pixel Project Summer Charity Concert because the cause that the concert is benefitting is something I truly want to support.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?       

Society has a materialistic view of women. Advertisements, music, and media sell themselves and their products by “selling sex” and associating certain types of beauty with their products. Women themselves then become associated with products and treated as objects. The abuse of women is overlooked because the mind-set of society is apathetic toward people they see as objects. We must realize these negatives and change our mind-sets to protecting women and treating every human being with respect and integrity.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?      

I believe that music is an incredible resource in affecting change in the world. As musicians and artists we have the ability to open hearts and minds through creativity. Music can be used to change the mind-set of it’s audience from viewing women as objects to seeing their true beauty and ending women’s violence.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Music artists can join charity events such as the Pixel Project to raise awareness about violence against women. We can also write music that has lyrical integrity and a positive view of women.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Mary Scholz, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our eighteenth featured artist is Philadelphia raised and Los Angeles based Indie Singer/Songwriter Mary Scholz. Mary has spent the past seven years on the road, playing shows in songwriter venues and festivals all over the country. Singing since the age of four and writing since the age of fourteen, Mary’s music is a blend of lyric folk & pop/rock with a bittersweet twist that puts her in a category of her own. She’s come a long way since her start singing in choirs, school shows and playing in the school band, with a 2011 Hollywood Music and Media Award nomination for her song, “Tennessee,” released on her third EP, “Water Rising.” A graduate of The University of the Arts, Scholz released her first full length album, “The Girl You Thought You Knew,” in February of 2014. It’s release was supported by a three month tour of the US. “I write about things that matter to me – things that are close to my heart. It’s my hope that through music we can connect to one another, to better understand that we are all alike and that no one is alone.” To find out more about Mary, follow her on Facebook, or check out her videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide.

Donations begin at just US$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Mary Sholz 4 - Jason Decker_croppedTell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

It’s important to me that we bring awareness to this issue in any way that we can. Being able to use music as a platform for that is a wonderful thing – it makes it easier for me to raise my voice and be heard.

The fundraiser is in support of NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), which works to promote helpful and necessary legislation, as well as provides support for victims of domestic violence, and The Pixel Project, which works to create change through facilitating awareness and discussion on social media platforms, where much of today’s news and information is gathered. The NCADV’s mission to care for those affected is hugely important to me – we must take care of each other. And the Pixel Project is working towards making it a real conversation, and there cannot be change without that.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?                                            

Ending violence of any sort is important to me. And violence against women specifically spans generations, continents, cultures.

The smaller, less obvious representations of violence is overlooked and deemed acceptable – the large representations of it are ugly, and overlooked as a manner of avoiding an uncomfortable issue. Sweeping the topic away just perpetuates the problem.

Violence is used as a controlling tactic to put people in their place. Women are an integral part of our society. We should be working, together, to better that society. We are all human beings, and this is our world. Think about what we could do with it if a huge percentage of our population weren’t living in fear for their safety.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?      

Music reaches people in a way that conversations, articles and news stories often do not. We absorb information in a different, more open way with music. We take it to heart. It promotes introspection and awareness of your own internal instincts of what is important to you. Consciousness promotes action. For me, musically, my role is to reach those who have, or are in, the struggle. To remind them that they are beautiful, that there is hope, and that their life and freedom is always worth fighting for.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Start the conversation. Be a living example. Write to reach those who need to be reached.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – L. Young, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our seventeenth featured artist is L. Young. Born and raised in Louisville, KY, L. Young was groomed for music in the church. By age 5, he was already singing in the adult choir. While attending the prestigious “Youth Performing Arts High School” in Louisville, he performed abroad in Belgium (Brussels), Bahamas, the UK (London), and the U.S. L.Young is an established artist, writer, and performer who has been credited for writing, music, and production for several artists, as well as platinum selling soundtracks. Writing credits include the top 5 single and title track off Jessy J’s #1 Billboard debut Album “Hot Sauce.” Keke Wyatt’s projects, “Who Knew” and “Unbelievable.” He is also credited for music in film and network TV to include: BET’s The Game, ABC’s According To Jim, 20/20, One Life To Live, VH1′s Basketball Wives, USA Network’s Burn Notice, also the movies Don Jon. Booty Call, and The Long Kiss Goodnight among others. He has recently released his 4th album entitled “ReVerb” featuring his Billboard Urban AC top 20 single ‘Love Is A Verb.’  To find out more about Young, follow him on Facebook, or check out his videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide.

Donations begin at just US$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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L Young 2Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

I was born and raised in Louisville, KY to a wonderful single mother. I witnessed first hand violence against her from a few unhealthy relationships she had as my brother and me were growing up. It was not only devastating to her but to us as well. it seemed there was no one there to speak for her or us as a family. That’s why I’m lending my voice today.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?  

Because no civilization can rise higher than its woman. How high you elevate, respect and honor the mothers, sisters, and daughters of society determines what heights you can reach as a nation.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women? 

Music is and always will be one of if not the most effective tools for social change. Music shapes thoughts, and those thoughts become action. I don’t know anyone on this planet who doesn’t listen to music of some sort. They may not watch TV or movies, possible don’t choose to or are unable to read, can’t see the beauty in a painting, or maybe hate the theater. But music, need I say more?

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Speaking out more and louder. Creating more positive contents towards women and making music that promotes healthy relationships..

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Lauren Ruth Ward, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our sixteenth featured artist is Lauren Ruth Ward. In 2012, Baltimore, Maryland, Lauren Ruth, whose smoky voice and raspy tone show vulnerability and strength, was recognised on YouTube for one of her cover songs gaining over 1 million hits, capturing the attention of labels such as Warner Brothers Records, Sony Records and Copeland Entertainment.  

Ward’s fan base crosses from folk to rock and easily appeals to country fans as well as mainstream audiences. She made her first radio debut on 89.7 WTMD’s Baltimore Hit Parade. In 2014, Ward signed with Copeland Entertainment Management. In less than one year, she’s written with Lauren Christy and world renowned Producer Linda Perry. Ward is set to release her EP in Fall 2015.  To find out more about Lauren, follow her on Twitter, or check out her videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide.

Donations begin at just US$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Lauren Ruth Ward 2Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

I’ve decided to take part because I feel very passionately for what The Pixel Project stands for. As a child, my parents always stressed the importance of equality. In some parts of the world, I believe violent acts against women are triggered by inequality. Music applies to all races, sexes and ages. By reaching out musically, there is great hope of opening more eyes and touching more minds thus shinning a light on this very serious issue.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?      

I am so fortunate to live in a country where women rarely face half the brutality that others endure. As a human, it makes me sick to know cruelties such as genitalia mutilation and trafficking are happening everyday. As a woman, I feel it is only logical to do what I can to help end these cruelties and others.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?      

I remember learning in history class that music came before language. It is in every culture. In my life, it’s usually the number one topic I use to relate to whomever I am meeting. I’ve also used music many times as a healing mechanism for death, heartache or just a bad day. It applies to all races, sexes and ages. By reaching out musically, we can touch lives who’ve suffered and gain attention from those who can help.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Not only taking part in events like The Pixel Project’s Summer Charity Concert but sharing my experience and how great it feels to be able to help others will spread the word about violence against women. Hopefully one day I will be able to give generously to charities I feel so passionate about such as The Pixel Project.