Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

Introducing: Once Upon A Time

As innovators we are always at the crossroad of decision making. Sometimes those decision-making feels as painful as how William Shapekspear said through his character Hamlet. “To be or not to be.” Ok, so the context of how he used it may be different but the phrasing is so relatable. As innovators, we are often creating, trying, and doing something new. It requires a lot of patience, persistence, courage, and curiosity and at times we are faced with resistance, doubt, and fear – both by others and by our very own selves.

This is why to truly honor the journey and the voice of an innovator, I thought it is important we celebrate the journey we take as an innovator as we navigate that path – the in-between stages and how we dance between uncertainty and certainty and how that is OK.

Meet our latest new music album “Once Upon A Time” by InnovatorsBox Studios!

As we dove deeper into our new EP release we thought about the different journeys we wanted to highlight as an innovator. 

“Paint My World” released on May 25, 2021, focused on celebrating innovators’ voice and what it’s like for us to recognize ourselves being at times an outcast but a creator who is always painting our worlds and creating new dots around us.

“Here” released on September 8, 2021, focused on celebrating innovators finding their tribes and people who understand them for who they are and celebrates what it’s like to be here among diverse friends who get you for being who you are.

This is why in this album we wanted to bring out the duality and mixed feelings we feel as we navigate innovation and our identity as an innovator – everything isn’t always sunshine. And that is absolutely ok!

In “Once Upon A Time” released on April 26, 2022, focuses on the dance we have as we navigate feeling confident one day and hesitant another day. In this album, we release two original songs – “To Be Or” which speaks to our dance to find the courage when we feel hesitant and unsure about things, and “A Day” which brings our optimism to seeing the possibilities by taking it a day at a time

I love breaking down these insights and reflecting in these blogs because I want to remember the reasoning and intention of our storytelling and hope that it could inspire listeners to feel heard for who they are and who they continue to become – courageous creative creators. 

This particular album has been in development for close to 6 months, but I am so proud of all the development we have done to finally share this with you! I hope that these stories and breakdowns inspire you in how your journey to finding your voice is a journey and how every step matters – the ups, downs, and unsure turns – it will all come together in the end. Trust yourself, treasure the steps, build your allies, and note how you are growing and learning. You are not alone.

So let me take you further behind the scenes!

This was another full-team creative production and take a moment to thank them for their contribution to this project. As you will see a lot of care and thought always goes into every production work we do and what you see is the result of multiple people’s care and creativity! Oh, that’s why it’s so so good! I know you are jamming into the song right now!

  • After I, Monica H. Kang, drafted the ideas, the vision and the lyrics and the intention of the project, my team and I went to work on how to make this come to life.
  • Serin Oh, Composer, first spent months going through different variations to see how to tell this story with catchy beats and beautiful lyrics to do meaningful storytelling
  • Isaiah Weatherspoon, Producer, took then the drafts into amazing music production with his power in drum and masterful mixing that brings out your emotion and ears
  • Kelly Gravo, Vocal Lead, did an amazing job singing and capturing this voice with her voice to express how innovators feel in this dance of certainty and uncertainty
  • Giorgio Schipani, Mastering Engineer, took the production and mixing Isaiah has done to take a clean masterful look so that the tunes all aligned for our fans
  • Rowanne Chang, Album Graphic Artists, tuned into the music to communicate that emotion into artwork to design the album cover and its identity for this album
  • Daniel Osterstock, Video Editor, integrates all the different elements to tell the story creatively and visually through our unique creative videos
  • Kree Pandey, Digital Website Guru, has as usual created these creative digital pages for you to read and interact at our website and blog page.

Ok, so now that you met everyone, let’s speak with some of them to learn more how this development was as you put that song on repeat. The more I learn about how things are made the more I get to appreciate the degree of depth and care that is put in. Here is my interview with Serin Oh, Kelly Gravo, Isaiah Weatherspoon, and Rowanne Chang to learn more about how “Once Upon A Time” came together.

Monica: Serin, It’s been a year of developing music with InnovatorsBox Studios! What is special and different about this EP and songwriting process?

Serin Oh

This is the first time I got to fully focus on wearing the songwriter hat and WOW! I am loving it. As a lover of collaborations, it was a trust-building experience for me to hand over the song to a producer and an artist that was not myself and I genuinely loved it. It actually allowed me to devote myself to the craft of songwriting rather than getting bogged down with the process of recording and producing as well.

Monica: What do you hope fans will feel?

Serin Oh

I hope they feel the duality of the valley and the hills of being on a uniquely creative journey of creating their dream reality. Through these two songs, that’s what I wanted to channel through both the lyrics and the moods that were created throughout the surrounding musical elements.

Monica: What inspired you while writing and telling the story for this album?

Serin Oh

  • For “To Be Or”, I was inspired by the fairytales that we grow up with. I feel that oftentimes, these characters are two dimensional and we forget that if they were real characters in the real world, then they must have gone through moments of doubt as they set off for their grand expedition.  
  • When writing “A Day”, I wanted to channel the excitement that we as creators feel when finally committing ourselves to go for that dream of ours. I was listening to “Stay” by Kid Laroi while running one day and that’s what inspired me to write a production seed that almost felt like you are running, because oftentimes, I feel like I feel that exact sensation when I start heading for a goal.

Monica: What songs inspired you? You took a different vibe, what was different here?

Serin Oh

To be honest, my current life situation inspired these two songs. I have officially entered my mid twenties and a lot of things are becoming clear to me in all aspects of my life, including career, relationships, and awareness. When coming to a realization about all these things, I had to be honest with myself and that’s what led me to write these two contrasting moods because I think I'm finding myself in the fence of being tied down with imposter syndrome to feeling like an eagle who’s finally learned how to use her wings.

Monica: Love these insights, what about you, Kelly? Love that this one you led the vocal for the original songs. What first stood out to you when you heard the song from Serin in the development? What resonated with you? Why?

Kelly Gravo

What stood out to me was the initial genres and grooves of each song, and how strikingly different they were to songs I’d naturally gravitate towards. After saying yes to recording original songs for InnovatorsBox, I honestly didn’t know where the development would take us. But, I remember taking my first listen to the songs and genuinely letting out a gasp – how did Serin write something that perfectly describes what I’m going through post-grad?! And what especially resonated was how the emotions were so creatively expressed through the songwriting and storytelling.

Monica: What do you hope fans will feel?

Kelly Gravo

I hope fans will find comfort and connection knowing that they’re not alone in any hurdles of their personal and professional journeys. Sometimes the greatest encouragement and push to the next stage comes when you realize that people have your back, and if any listener can resonate with that, then our team has fulfilled its job and purpose. 🙂

Monica: Why is this song unique and different?

Kelly Gravo

What moved me so deeply was realizing that for the rest of our lives, we’re going to go through seasons of strength and uncertainty. And these songs develop that contradictory dynamic, which is so bittersweet with colors of comfort and the unknown. I loved the fact that Serin wrote these songs in a differing season of her life compared to mine, yet we both deeply resonated with these emotions which never seem to leave despite how we can control its ebb and flow as we get older.

Monica: Thanks, Kelly. Isaiah, tell me more. Great work on the production as usual! I always love your beats and drums. Since we started doing the lo-fi album project we’ve been busy working together. How were this song and project different for you and what stood out to you the most?

Isaiah Weatherspoon

I think the biggest difference between the newly released material as opposed to the Lo-Fi album is working to have the music production part adapt to the story of the vocalist/songwriter!

Monica: What do you hope fans will feel?

Isaiah Weatherspoon

I definitely hope that fans will feel a positive emotional connection with this music and that it will also be relatable!

Monica: What did you enjoy the most about this album development? Why?

Isaiah Weatherspoon

Both singles gave me the awesome opportunity of stepping out of my comfort zone by producing music more in the style of modern Pop. I’m grateful for the opportunity!

Monica: Thank you, your work and care show. Rowanne, speaking next with you. Splendid artwork again. You always capture the story and meaning uniquely and beautifully. I love them and so will our fans. When you first heard the songs what stood out to you? How did you feel?

Rowanne Chang

I like the feeling of a new adventure. Very exciting.

Monica: What inspired you to create the album artwork for this album? Why?

Rowanne Chang

As usual I go into the lyrics and find those inspiring parts. I think it helps me visualize the artwork.

Monica: Where do you usually draw inspiration for the album artwork and how has it evolved for the albums you started doing in 2021 for InnovatorsBox Studios?

Rowanne Chang

I use photoshop mostly and some post-editing. I think after the whole year the composition of my artwork has improved a lot.

Monica: What do you hope fans will feel when they see this album and artwork?

Rowanne Chang

I hope people will love it like how much I love them 🙂

Monica: We sure do! What did you enjoy the most about this album development? Why?

Rowanne Chang

It was interesting to work with a team and exchange ideas!

Monica: Agreed, that’s always the part I get to learn from everyone so much and realize how much in-depth care and details go behind the scene into every music production and creative work. Serin, going back to you.
What did you enjoy the most about this album? Why?

Serin Oh

The timeframe that this album is written, as in the current season of my life as we’re working on these songs. I am in a very vulnerable state in my life and this album creation allowed me to verbalize certain things I’ve always felt but haven’t had the opportunity to express.

Monica: What was most challenging? How did it help you grow?

Serin Oh

I had the opportunity to write all of the song, including the production idea to send to Isaiah and Kelly. As mainly a topliner, creating a production outline initially terrified me, especially sending it to a talented producer such as Isaiah. But his encouraging reaction gave me the encouragement to trust my ears more.

Monica: What is your favorite line and why? I know it’s hard to pick since you wrote them!

Serin Oh

  • A Day: “learning to stay real cool in the heat // not bending to the fever of the fight” I LOVE this line because it’s been a daily reminder for me to reframe certain situations, especially the hard-to-swallow moments when certain moments feel too heavy to carry. These daily encouragements give me the courage to directly face the Goliath-Esque obstacles. 
  • To Be Or: “Tell me is it my key have I stolen the lock of a story of someone else’s life” This line describes the exact emotions I feel when I feel like an imposter on this journey. Sometimes, my gratitude has a cruel tendency to morph into a self-deprecating question of “why me?”

Monica: Thank you! Kelly, a few more questions for you.
What did you enjoy the most about this album development? Why?

Kelly Gravo

It would be realizing my personal creative formula. Despite having gone to music school, my specialization was music business and not vocal performance or songwriting/production. I learned so much about my natural strengths and areas of weakness – which not only aided my personal growth but in understanding the artist's journey too. It allowed me to gauge how my mind and body work in from development to final production, and I now have a greater sense of empathy and amazement for those who do this more creative side of music.

Monica: What was most challenging? How did it help you grow?

Kelly Gravo

Finding my own time and rhythm with my new job/post-grad life. My only question is: how do people do it?! I have so much respect for those balancing traditional 9-to-5 jobs, while fulfilling their creative purpose. Having the strength to know when you have to complete this recorded section, and knowing when to stop because your voice is tired is so powerful. But I believe that having learned these things allowed me to be more intentional, especially with taking care of my mental space (relieving burnout) and physical health (oversinging, knowing when my voice is tired).

Monica: Now that you’ve been singing and thinking of the song so much what is your favorite line and why?

Kelly Gravo

  • Day At A Time → the bridge (yes I think too far sometimes, getting lost in-between the lines… feeling this is quite alright… it’ll be alright). I loved how creatively written this section was – it was so simple yet so profound. When I took a second thorough listen to this part, I appreciated how it described the creative mentality so well. The indecisiveness, the uncertainty, the everything.

 

  • To Be Or → “all my doubts are creeping in and they’re quicker than I can say”. This profoundly described my brain’s natural tendency to start thinking quicker than I can, if that makes sense! It can be so debilitating when these smaller thoughts have such an impact on us, and I really reflected on that during the recording stage.
Monica: Love it, thank you. Anything else you want to add?

Kelly Gravo

I just hope that listeners of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles can connect with us through the music our team has made together. Enjoy! 🙂

Monica: Serin, what about you? Anything else to add?

Serin Oh

Hope the listeners enjoy listening to the songs as much as I enjoyed writing these songs!

Thank you all so so much! I know others who tune in will feel your passion and care and appreciate translating my idea into this beautiful EP together and working on the details with me. 

Yes, I did grill a bit on the details, and we have gone through several edits and retakes to ensure we get to the right quality and storytelling. But hey, that’s the care and diligence that it takes to create the type of music you love. Ask any of your favorite artists and they will be happy to share more about all the editing, reflecting, and ideation they have done and how much they love seeing it coming together.

Next, I want to bring our audio engineer who was behind all the mixing, mastering, and producing of making these sounds all come together and worked with Alice in the past few months. Sam, thanks for all the amazing work you’ve done in these pieces which I know are different than our usual podcast audio editing we’ve done! Ok, curious to what your thoughts on some of these questions:

Thanks so much for reading thus far and continuing to be a fan of our work and our creative storytelling. I can’t wait to return again with a new music release that you’ll love and can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Your dance between certainty and uncertainty is normal and I hope this song inspires you to celebrate the courage you take to be who you are as innovators.

So let’s step back into “Once Upon A Time” by InnovatorsBox Studios!

See you in the land of possibilities!

Cheers,
Monica H. Kang

p.s. You can find us at @InnovatorsBox on all social media channels and @InnovatorsBoxStudios on all music streaming platforms. Here are some links that we’ll share as an easy reference:

 

About the Author

Picture of Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang, Founder, and CEO of InnovatorsBox® and Author of Rethink Creativity is transforming today’s workforce through the power of creativity. She helps companies rethink culture, leadership, and team development by making creativity practical and relatable regardless of industry or job title. She has worked with clients worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica’s work has been recognized by The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.

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