Long Live the Scene: A Music Interviewer Pursues Career in the Industry
by Meagan Renée
Around noon, most people will be getting ready for their lunch break and counting the hours till they can leave work, but for Crystal Lee, 24, her day is just starting. She spends her nights at concerts or working on some of the different projects she has going on in LA or Las Vegas mostly. Her main focus is CashDolla Industries, a website she created about three years ago that features her interviews and photography with different bands.
“The idea came from me just wanting to bring music to kids and promotion.” Lee says. “I really wanted to get more involved in the music scene. I had a lot of friends in the industry and had a great base to start off at. It started off as a fun side hobby to do, then turned into part of my job.”
Along with CashDolla Industries, Lee is also honing in on her graphic design skills with band myspace layouts and flyers and plans on going to college to learn some more techniques and for music management. She is currently managing the Las Vegas band, Away We Go!.
“With Away We Go! I was close friends with them and started doing a lot to help them. I got really into it and the band made the decision they wanted me to manage them. I love it.”
Another project Lee is involved with is graphic designing for The Lollipops & Rainbow Foundation. This is a foundation dedicated to four different organizations (from children’s education to animal rescue) and shows the forward thinking of the eight year old founder’s belief that anyone can make a difference.
Lee uses these different events and her many opportunities as a way to network and feels that networking is something everyone should learn to do to help further their careers.
“The more connections you have the better off you will be. But be careful you don’t end up using people [and] always check to make sure the connection is legit. Acquiring new connections can be easy, just go to a lot of events and become a social butterfly. Never be afraid to talk to someone.”
Despite what sounds like having a dream job, Lee has had her own share of trying times. As a result from a car accident at the age of sixteen, Lee has been confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic.
“I have no movement in my legs; I can move my arms but not my fingers. I’m happier now then I was when walking. I don’t let it get in my way. I can do more than people think.” Lee says. She plans on releasing a book about her life “on my depression, being in a wheelchair in a fast paste life style, and it will be full of my thoughts, poems, unfinished songs, and stories.”
Lee feels that she truly hasn’t had any obstacles, except for the occasional “trash talking”, but believes that she can get through anything placed in her way. “I never let that get to me. I laugh at it. Always remember who you are and what you are there to do.”
Lee contributes most of her success and good fortune to her family and friends in bands, but also sites a well known acquaintance of hers.
“I can’t forget to mention Pete Wentz [of Fall Out Boy], he got me out of a huge depression. The day I met him, I decided to get out of it and start having fun, and get more into the music scene. All of that gave me the drive.”
Although she’s interviewed some of the most popular acts in music today and is friends with most of them after the fact, she still acknowledges that she still gets nervous or even star-struck.
“One time I interviewed Paramore in May 2006. It was my first time meeting them, and was a last minute interview. I did everything off the top of my head. It went well though.” Lee says that the nervousness is one of the few undesirable things about her job. “Once I’m passed the first question I’m good. Graphic designing is hard to juggle between my press and managing. There’s always a deadline. I’m usually okay at getting it done though.”
She has done many different interviews in different settings, but says that some that really stick out in her memories are from the Vans Warped Tour.
“Warped Tour press is always fun, because of the variety.” She laughs, “There was one in 2006 where I was interviewing Gym Class Heroes and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy jumped in and sat on Travis McCoy’s (GCH Vocalist) lap and took over the interview. Oh and when I interviewed Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship. He’s a character.”
There are still more acts Lee would love to interview including Disney sensations Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers. She states that she thinks they’re more talented than given credit for and more than just “tween magazine cover stars.”
“They are true musicians and song writers / performers, not the typical industry puppets on a string boy group, they’re a band.” She says of The Jonas Brothers.
Overall, there have been more highs than lows for Crystal Lee. She really loves what she’s doing and it’s made even better by the fact that it all stemmed from her own ideas and striving to do her own projects. She has had a lot of girls tell her how she’s an inspiration for her, and she likes being someone they can look up to.
“I think it’s cool, and love that I did something to affect their life in a positive way. I don’t see myself as [a role model] though, but it’s definitely cool.”
Crystal “CashDolla” Lee’s optimism and drive have helped her succeed in following her dreams and making them a reality. Despite some past hardships, her motivation helps her overcome any barrier that gets put in her path.
“Never let anything get in the way or your dreams, job, or life. Life is an empty book and it’s up to you to fill the pages. Only really trust about as many people you can count on one hand. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.”
* All Photos courtesy/property of Crystal Lee/CashDolla Ind.