Tag: coverpage

THE TENACIOUS HUSTLE OF…Christopher Kenji

Hello, my name is Christopher Kenji. I’m a 24-year-old singer-songwriter, graduate of Berklee College of Music and a print/runway model.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO BOTH MUSIC AND MODELING?
Ever since I was a young kid, I’ve always had a deep passion for music. I picked up the guitar when I was about 10 years old and fell in love — I would spend all my free time playing and writing music (sometimes seven hours a day until my fingers hurt and I couldn’t play anymore). Music has always been and will always be my biggest passion in life; there’s nothing that compares to performing on stage, wearing your heart on your sleeve with your lyrics and melodies and having people connect with you so purely and intimately. Before anything else, I am first and foremost a musician.

As for modeling, it’s kind of funny — I never in a million years ever thought I would become a male model. I know a lot of people grow up having dreams of becoming a supermodel and living that glamorous lifestyle or something but that was never me as a kid. Growing up, I never really thought of myself as a physically attractive person; if anything, I was told the opposite at times so it’s still kind of surreal to me when I think about it. Anyway, my modeling journey started last September when I was at my friend’s show in LA and he introduced me to a woman there who happened to have spent years working in the fashion industry (little did I know, she would go on to become my mentor). She told me that I should become a model and I kind of laughed it off at first but then I realized she was actually very serious about it. I was kind of tipsy at the time, but I told her I guess I could give it a shot and she held me to it.

She then signed me up for a runway show casting in San Francisco. I went, got placed in two shows and ended up being awarded best model of 2018. They made me make a speech in front of the whole audience and it was one of the few moments in my life where I was truly and utterly dumbfounded. It almost felt like the world was playing a big joke on me but it wasn’t a joke; it was real. Having that experience really gave me the motivation to seriously pursue modeling and ever since then, it’s become a huge part of my life.

DO YOU DO ANYTHING SPECIFIC TO KEEP UP YOUR APPEARANCE FOR MODELING?

Yes, I actually kind of changed my life for modeling. I treat modeling like a job now because, well… it is my job. So, that means I can’t just make poor lifestyle choices all the time anymore. I remember getting an interview with IMG Models in New York City, which was pretty much the biggest interview of my entire life and asking my mentor what I should do to prepare. The first thing she told me was to completely cut out booze for the two weeks before I met with them. I said to her, “I’ll cut it out after tonight when I’m done performing at the bar” and she said “no, cut it out starting right now”. I remember feeling super weird playing 100% sober to a packed crowd of wasted people that night but it really taught me something. After just four days, I noticed that I looked and felt better than I had in literally years. Nowadays, I don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat sugar, I work out super hard in the gym at least 3-4 days a week, I don’t drink any caffeine and I take ice cold showers to wake myself up every morning. Despite it seeming like I gave up all the things that I love in life, as a byproduct, I feel the most healthy and confident in myself that I have ever been. To me, that’s the most rewarding feeling of all.

DID YOU ALWAYS BOTH SING AND PLAY GUITAR OR DID ONE COME AFTER THE OTHER?

No, I used to never sing. I was terrified of the idea. I remember specifically not applying to a music school I was really interested in because they required all of their students to sing. Singing always really fascinated me but I was always too nervous to try to do it myself. When I first ever tried to sing, I immediately realized my voice was weird. An astounding majority of the famous male vocalists we all know and love such as Freddy Mercury, Michael Jackson, Sting, Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, etc. are all tenors with very beautiful, clear, high-pitched voices. I am basically the complete opposite (a bass/baritone with a very low, gritty voice) and I found out pretty quickly that I would never sound like any of them no matter how hard I tried.

It took me a long time to really find my voice. When I finally first gathered up the courage to start singing in front of people, I remember getting comments like, “you’re good at guitar, I think you should stick to that” and whatnot. It was a lot of work behind the scenes to get my singing to where it is today but it’s interesting —the qualities of my voice that I used to view as imperfections are now often the things that people tell me they like most about my voice. It’s crazy how things work out like that ––I’ve come to realize that sometimes a lot of the things in life that seem like curses really are just blessings in disguise.
DO YOUR TATTOOS HAVE MEANINGS? IF SO, WHAT DO THEY SYMBOLIZE?

Yes, all of my tattoos have meanings. I’m a very OCD person and all of my tattoos are organized. The right side of my body reflects my internal qualities (my birth name, birth year/place and birth order) and the left side of my body reflects my external qualities (my music and my martial arts). On my right side: being a quarter Japanese, I have my Japanese middle name “Kenji” (which translates to ‘healthy; rule’) on my right upper arm. I was born in New York City in 1994 and when I was in New York last year, I got that tattooed on my right forearm. I’m also the oldest of three boys and under my right collarbone, I have an arrow with three circles in it symbolizing me and my brothers; the biggest circle represents me (the oldest) and the other two smaller circles represent my two younger brothers.

As for my left side: I have a guitar fretboard which symbolizes my passion for guitar/music on the back of my left forearm ––pretty self-explanatory. And lastly, after training three days a week for 14 years, I wanted to have something on my body representing my black belt in mixed martial arts, so on my left shoulder, I have a rising sun blended with an American flag, which is a symbol that was on the wall of my martial arts studio all the years I trained there.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GOAL FOR THE FUTURE?

The short simple answer is that I just want to be a rockstar — not going to lie that would be pretty cool. But really, the bigger answer is I want to create art that brings people together. It’s so easy to feel lonely and lost in this world and I hope to make art that helps people feel less alone and inspires them to use their own voice and be heard. When you feel like no one in the world understands you or knows what you’re going through and you hear that one song that just somehow you gets you when no one else does ––a song from a person you’ve never even met but who’s music and lyrics help you know that they’re there living somewhere in this same, big world as you and they feel it too; that’s power. It could also be a character from a story you connect with or a piece of art — it’s something bigger than you or me or anyone.

That’s the reason I chose to be an artist. If I could just even make one person’s life a little bit better or inspire them to express their own individuality whether that be through my music, fashion/modeling work, art, etc., it would make my purpose feel served. I would rather have one person really connect with my art and be invested in what I am trying to say than a million people who don’t really care that much. I’ll either shoot for the stars or die trying but I refuse to be mediocre — that’s how it’s always been and that’s how it’ll always be for the future!

… RECORDING ARTIST – SONGWRITER

“Allow me to reintroduce Alvester, a whole new vibe”

The path to discovering your true passion is rarely an easy road. Case in point: up-and-coming actor, dancer and musical artist Alvester. Before the African-American born performer realized his keen interest for the performing arts, Alvester says he is still a little boy at heart, to his detriment he says at times. But he is definitely self-assured. “It’s not a false self-assurance, not wrapped in arrogance, and cockiness”, it’s actually wrapped in humility and a calmness. He says he knows things are going to happen and it’s God centered. “I believe in myself and I have no self-doubt.”

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SDM: Who is Alvester

AM: Alvester Martin is still a little boy at heart, almost to his own detriment at times. At this point in his career and his life, he says he is definitely self-assured.

SDM: How do you feel about doing interviews

AM: I have done a lot of interviews, with so much stuff coming out, he feels like he has a cult following and people don’t really want know who Alvester is. They see past things he has done, like pictures, his Instagram feed, social media posts, and they assume so many things. He says, with great expression, I am totally the opposite of what is depicted in social media.

SDM: How did you get started in the entertainment business

AM: When we first spoke to on the phone about the shoot and we talked about what I wanted, the photographer was surprised me by saying I wanted something basic, and not the “pretty boy” thing.

SDM:Even though he is a pretty boy.

AM: I have been groomed since the age of 5, and have been trained in acting, singing, dancing etc. I feel it’s a gift and a curse. Now that social media is the norm, your judged on who people think you are, and rest on the fact that you are good looking and literally, want to be paid for looking good. However I want people to know that I have much more to offer, than my good looks. When I audition and books gigs, people are so surprised, that I have talent. He says he literally has people contacting him through his social media, and once they have connected they are astonished that he is well spoken. Alvester says he is sometimes bewildered, annoyed and frustrated. Because today’s values place so much emphasis on the looks of person as opposed to their metal. They write you off, before they even find out who you are.

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SDM: How did you get involved with Black Magic

AM: I feel, society, the casting directors, and the gatekeepers in the industry have said to him when he walks into a room, “Oh I didn’t think you were going to be that good.” It used to bother me! Alvester says and subsequently, he went through a 4-year depression. “I hated doing Black Magic, I felt they mislead me in the pitch and the script”. I thought it was going be great exposure for me and an excellent opportunity to showcase my skills. They knew him as a background dancer for Beyoncé as his body of work to this point. “I felt the transition had already been hard enough to transcend the title of just a dancer, as well as the financial toll, my artistry took a hit, and my Psyche.” I began to turn down jobs, although I needed to eat. “I feel currently there is already a lack of respect in Hollywood, for dancers generally, however I pressed on.” Ultimately, the show was re-pitched and presented again, it took a few times before I said yes! Once the final pitch was presented, I felt that this was going to be a great opportunity to move away from being a background dancer to a recording artist, which was always in the forefront of his journey, In his mind there was always his mindset that he didn’t move to LA to be a background dancer, although he is grateful for what he has done its just he wanted more!

“I went into a deep depression once again and felt I had hit rock bottom and committed career suicide. I had worked years and his parents had sacrificed their monies, and time to get me my training and go forward.”

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During the filming, it became quite apparent that it was not what he signed up for. The show was about being a stripper, which wasn’t his world. People connected with the show who were on the show were making him feel bad for having worked so many years in the industry and having a standard of expertise. As a result of this experience I went into a deep depression once again and felt he had hit rock bottom and committed career suicide. He had worked years and years and his parents have sacrificed their monies, and time to for my training so I could go forward.

SDM: What is your mindset today and what are your future goals

AM: In final, I’m in a whole different place, I have new music, it’s moodier, and it has an edge its more me. It’s what I like, how I feel, and what I think. My music is my diary in life, I accept my acting career now, I hate slashes, I can sing alone and rest on that, I can act alone, and I can dance alone. It is a blessing to be able to stand on my two feet. My actor career is taking off and its great, I have self-discovery and at this point I feel I am walking into the unknown but in a positive way, and its OK to not always feel OK and be OK, but whatever I feel I put that shit in my work and art.

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“My acting career is taking off and its great, I have self-discovery and at this point I feel I am is walking into the unknown but in a positive way, and its OK to not always feel OK and be OK, but whatever you feel and whatever I feel put that shit in your work and art.”

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