A while ago we decided to widen the scope of the performers we interview at TFM to include highly talented, but lesser known artists who are widely tipped to become the stars of the future.
Makayla Dawson is one such performer and I was privileged to be granted an interview with her after one of her amazing sets at Blues Cove.
For those that dont know her, Makayla is a warm-hearted southern country singer who brings her passion for entertaining and music to every show that she performs.
Michael: Hi Makayla - thank you soo much for taking time out to do this interview with Toggle For Music -
Michael: First up - Could you tell our readers something about your background -and how on earth did you get involved in the crazy world of Second Life?
Makayla: I am originally from Rhode Island but after many years & many moves ( I have lived in 8 states) I now live in southern Louisiana, cajun country. I have lived here 14 yrs now.
I first came to SL in 2003 on the suggestion of a friend that I played a different game online with at the time. Soon as my feet hit the ground I was in awe. I can tell you some stories of how SL was back in the beginning. We've come a long way. Hard to believe I've been here almost 19 years now but it's been an amazing journey & some of my best friends I have made are here.
Michael: You are a such a talented singer .do you remember what made you start to play and who were your early influences - and who are they now? Have they changed as you have got older?
Makayla: Thank you so much. As far as I can remember I have always loved singing. My mom would tell you I used to stand on the porch singing "Clementine" and I would be crying. (guess I am an emotional singer). My experience honestly only comes from church, school choir & karaoke. The first time I got on stage I was petrified but after a few shots I was fine, lol. Messed up the song but I got through it & wanted to do more! Now I sing with coffee!
Influences there are many but the first that come to mind, Fleetwood Mac, The Judds and more. They have changed as I have gotten older yes. I never used to like country until my former roommate dragged me to a Garth Brooks concert in the 90's. She would say "Just listen to the words..." She is also the one who got me to try karaoke. Thank you Jenn!
Michael: Do you remember your first Second Life gig - the venue and how it went ?
Makayla: Yes, it was in 2013 and my very first gig was at The Bluebird Cafe, on the Nashville Music Row sim, which, sadly is no longer active. The atmosphere was always such fun, the crowds were always supportive and we just had a great time. I am still in touch & friends with several of the staff and supporters from then, all these years later.
Michael: Was there anyone here who helped you, or inspired you, during those early days?
Makayla: I have to say my good friend, Bo Shim, helped me get my first gig. And he has always been there to have my back and is one of my biggest motivators and supporters. As far as who inspired me, honestly all singers inspire me. Each has their own style, personality, energy, they all bring something to the stage. I learn more just listening to them and taking in the whole experience of the show.
Michael: Following on from that is there a gig you remember above all ?
Makayla: Yes, it was early 2013. This was before my first official gig at The Bluebird Cafe
The name of the venue I am not positive of, but it was a club owned by friends of my RL Mom, who played SL too.
She had been wanting to hear me sing and her friends were gracious enough to have me over.
So I did my first show for my mom, and the very first song I ever sang in SL was "Mama He's Crazy".
This is a very bittersweet memory for me. My mom passed in 2015, and she is the reason I got back into singing.
She always said do what makes you happy & I know she would have wanted me to keep singing.
Michael: Similarly, what do you think makes a good venue ?
Makayla: Good communication is key to me. Doesn't take much to send an IM to keep people up to date on who is next or who the host will be, if there are any changes, etc. And in doing so it is highly appreciated.
Atmosphere is important. Friendly staff and guests that you can tell are having a great time, thats good stuff. Makes me want to come back. When you walk into a place and not a word is spoken for an hour, or very little - not so much.
Michael: It can be hard trying to find your place in the SL music scene with so many performers on the grid - Do you have any advice to new performers on how to break through and stand out?.
Makayla: Shoot, I am still learning some of this stuff myself, lol. If I have learned anything it is to be yourself. Your personality will shine through when you sing.
Sing because you love to sing. Whether it's 2 people or 40, I am grateful and appreciate each person that takes their time to come and listen to me sing.
Life is too short to not enjoy doing what you love so have fun with it.
Stage presence is important too and practice.. alot.
Michael: What would you say pleases you the most about performing in SL - and conversely what would you say irks you the most ? (aside from annoying interviewers)
Makayla: Hands down the people and community and their love of live music. The support from the community is priceless and so valued. I love meeting new people and seeing others return. I love being able to make someones day a little happier. We never know what is going on with someone on the other side of the screen so if I can sing a song they want to hear and bring a smile to their face, or bring them to a great memory with a song, that makes me happy. What irks me? Not much but if I have to say one thing it would be - please give the next singer enough time to set up and get ready for their set before you finish yours. That's all I will say about that.
Michael: . Do you ever get nervous before a show?
Makayla: Sometimes yes, but not as much as I used to.
Michael: When you're up there on stage do you notice much of what goes on in local chat ? Does it ever throw you out of your stride?
Makayla: I do notice local chat. I may not see all of it but I do catch most. Sometimes I have to hide chat to not laugh on the mic which I have done several times. lol
Michael: Is there a performer(s) in Second Life you particularly admire ?
Makayla: Where do I begin? I have a girl crush on Shaye Dezno. I fell in love with her voice the moment I heard her. Also, Holly Giles, another amazing singer. Both are so talented and down to earth. I could listen to both for hours. If you haven't heard either yet, please do. You will not be disappointed.
Michael: Finally, in closing, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Makayla: Just a huge heartfelt thank you to everyone: The venues, the listeners, and SL for giving us this amazing platform to do all the things we love to do.