Cafe Musique is one of the most significant venues in the Second Life live music scene. Soo many performers have told us how they started off their singing careers there - often going on to become top SL stars.
This wonderful venue also holds a special place in our own history at TFM.
It was the first venue to display our board (since then over eighty have gone up and only two come down).
It was the venue for Michael's first blog which featured upcoming singer Jack Dryden - yet another star who has risen to the heights via Cafe Musique
It was the venue where Michael met Taila, chatting over the merits and otherwise of the various performers and forming a friendship which laid the foundation for TFM as it is today.
Im the light of all of this, we were especially thrilled when Cafe Musique owner Laya Sugarplum agreed to squeeze this interview for TFM into her packed schedule of new developments (more of that below).
Michael: Hi Laya - thank you soo much for taking time out to do this interview with Toggle For Music.
Michael: First up - You come over as a sane, balanced kind of individual - how on earth did you get involved in the crazy world of Second Life?
Laya: I had been chatting in Yahoo chat for a number of years and when they were closing their chat rooms, a friend brought me over to SL
Michael: In your early SL days did you plan - or even envisage - owning a successful music venue ?
Laya: Not at all
Michael: So how did it happen?
Laya: It just seemed a natural progression. I love music of all kinds. I like people. I used to spin blues in sl and when Linda Yangst and I first opened Taylor's, it was just a place to gather with friends, talk and listen to great music which either Van, Linda or I would spin.
We actually booked our first live artist there - Rebecca, and when Taylors closed down my friend Van offered me the use of a building he had built, The Bagdad Cafe, so we just moved to that location and added Bart Hoorenbeek to Rebecca's Friday beach sets and shortly after this Vicki Eriksen started helping me and she's been my right hand ever since.
We started adding more live performers like Vinnie aka Acoustic Rhaspody, Chip Takacs, Madmax Huet, Thera D, Mar Biddle and Trin Paige. We just kept growing our team of hosts and artists and then in February 2015 we decided to move to a new location and Cafe Musique came to be.
Michael: Several performers we have interviewed fondly remember Cafe Musique as the place they started out - so tell me all about Cafe Musique please.
Laya: Cafe Musique has always been about supporting artists and the live music Community in SL.. I think most artists at the Cafe, and many who started out here appreciate everything we do, from coaching, to honest constructive critiques writing bios, to what goes into booking them into a spot.
It was never about just opening and filling spots. Our schedule has grown as spots were needed for artists. We take the time to get to know the artist, their style and try to find spots where the artists before and after them compliment each other.
We also look to see what else is going on elsewhere in SL during the time slots. No artist, new or established wants to get on stage and have the audience leave because the artist before them was just so different in style. Now it doesn't always work out, but I do believe artists appreciate that we will work to find what works best for them.
Cafe Musique is what it is because we are a team. It's not just anyone person who makes it good. It's the combination of everyone doing their part, Vicki, myself, our hosts and our artists. When I say "we" I mean just that, we work together, we all learn to do everything that needs to be done. If I am not here, or if Vicki isn't around, everything still gets done and everything still runs smoothly because we have an amazing team.
Cafe Musique 2016
Michael: High points and low points ? I really don't know if I could isolate either.
Laya: Some things stand out like when we raised over 200K for Stand up 2 Cancer. Like everything else in life, there are ups and downs but you just have to roll with what comes.
Michael: You know the Second Life live music industry inside out by now. Do you feel it is in a healthy state at this moment in time ? If you could do one thing to improve it - what would it be?
Laya: I don't know if anyone could ever know it inside out, there are just so many changes. And as for it's overall state, that too tends to be constantly evolving, while there are some aspects of it I see as healthy, I am sure everyone's opinion on that would vary as well.
The parts of it that are unhealthy would be the competition some seem to feel. That need to "prove" they are better than this one or that one, the undermining and out and out lies some spread to build themselves up. But I guess that's just like in RL. As far as improving it, I think everyone involved would have a different opinion on that. For me, I think if those involved just keep their egos in check and focus instead on what is best for everyone rather than their own interests, the Live Music scene in SL would be better off.
Michael: Conversely what would you say irks you the most ? (aside from annoying interviewers)
Laya: I think my biggest pet peeve is the so called "musical experts" in here. Those who present themselves as knowing everything that needs to be known. No one knows everything, and thinking you do isn't in the artists or the music community's best interests.
Michael: Now, moving on from that - do you have any plans or new projects coming up that you can share with us ?
Laya: Many people don't realize we also support creative artists and we have art galleries in the sky above the Cafe where a number of SL artists display their artwork. We are looking to help generate more awareness of this by holding special music events at the Gallery location one Saturday a month. Our first event is being held on Saturday July 17th
Michael: At Toggle For Music we are now a few months into our crusade, to promote SL live music in any way we can. Could you give us any advice on ways we could improve what we do?
Laya: Be selective, ask tough questions, be different.
Michael: Finally, in closing, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Laya: Just to be kind to each other. It doesn't happen often, but there are times people will show up to a set and the genre or artist isn't to their liking, it's bound to happen, but when it does, if people would just leave. I will never understand why some people feel the need to make a negative comment in local about what they are hearing.
Michael: Thank you Laya!