Kolby Koloff Interview

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When we came upon, Kolby Koloff’s single, “Save Yourself”, we knew it was a song that would be perfect for TBYT’s Music Mondays. We also knew that we wanted to interview the woman behind the music and learn more about who she is as an individual and as an artist. Kolby had so many encouraging and inspiring words to share with us! We hope you enjoy reading what she had to say!

Think Before You Type: What prompted you to start making music? Did you always know you wanted to sing?

Kolby Koloff:  I never thought I would be doing music as a career. I have always sang, but I never sang for other people because I was too afraid. Towards the end of 2013, my brother in law (who has been in the industry for years) started to invite me to come and song write with him. I was very reluctant, but I started to go. I fell in love with it. The entire process of creating music fascinated me and I knew that I had to keep doing it.

TBYT: How does your faith affect your online presence?

Kolby: I want to make sure that whatever I post, say, or comment is always respectful. Not only respectful of myself but respectful of my followers. Christ was so perfect at speaking truth but doing it in such a loving way. I always want to represent Him in everything I do. If people stumble on my profile, I want them to see things that are life giving and encouraging so I try to take that into consideration every time I post something.

TBYT: If you had the chance to speak to someone who has been cyberbullied, what would you say to encourage them?

Kolby: First off, I’ve been there. I was cyberbullied badly all throughout high school. It’s not easy, and it really can make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. Let me tell you, it’s not you. Hurt people hurt people. Don’t buy into the lies that people post. The fact is, they are reacting from a place of pain and what they’re saying about you is actually a reflection of how they feel about themselves. If it’s really bad, tell someone. There’s NOTHING weak about sharing with someone things that are hurting you.

TBYT: We’re big fans of your new single, “Save Yourself”. Where did the inspiration for the song come from?

Kolby: Save Yourself is one of the most vulnerable pieces of music I’ve released so far. For years I struggled with depression. In the midst of that depression, I was bullied, had friends turn their back on me, and experienced a lot of other life changes. I felt hopeless. However, nobody around me knew I was going through all of this, because I hid it. I thought it was better to just appear like I had everything together. Eventually all of that caught up with me and I had to realize that I couldn’t save myself. I needed to let other people, especially God, come in and help my heart get better. The waves of life were drowning me and if I didn’t receive help then I wasn’t going to make it.

TBYT: What has the transition from being on the TV show “Preachers’ Daughters” to working in music been like?

Kolby: Transition from television to music has not been that difficult. They are both hard
businesses to get into, and even harder to stay in. The payoff has always been worth it for me though, because I am doing what I love and spreading Christ’s message through it.

TBYT: In today’s day and age, many young girls are struggling with body image issues. What advice do you have for young girls who are dealing with these kinds of things?

Kolby: Again, I have been here. For a world who talks about “accepting people the way they are” so much, there are way too many unrealistic standards that are being set for us women. If you are feeling those pressures, and have started to believe that you’re only beautiful if you look a certain way, shape, or size, that’s a bunch of baloney. There is NOTHING that could make you not good enough. The God of the universe, who designed Mt. Everest, Hawaii, sunsets, and the galaxy, also designed you. Everything He touches is beautiful and worthy. You are worthy and beautiful just the way you are. Fight the “status quo”! When someone says you should do this or do that to improve yourself, tell them thanks for the advice but you’re perfect the way you were created. When I was struggling with body image, I would put post-it notes on my mirror that had Bible verses on them about beauty. Every time I looked in the mirror and began thinking negative things about myself, I read them and was reminded that I am a daughter of The King and nothing He touches is ugly.

TBYT: If you could tour with any artist living or alive, who would you choose and why?

Kolby: I think I would chose to tour with Ben Rector or Drew Holcomb. They both are artists who embody music that has meaning but still makes you want to dance around a room.

TBYT: What kind of impact have you seen “Save Yourself” have on your listeners?

Kolby: I’ve been really blessed at the reaction to Save Yourself. People have shared their
stories with me, how the song is helping them beat their depression, helping their hearts while going through breakups, family struggles, etc. It has been the biggest blessing because I wrote this when I needed a song to help me get through the same things.

TBYT: Who are your musical influences?

Kolby: My musical influences are Nora Jones, Regina Spektor, and Ingrid Michelson.

TBYT: What plans do you have for 2018?

Kolby: My plan for 2018 is to continue to release music, tour, and keep writing more songs!

Joshua Luke Smith Interview

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We recently caught up with rapper, poet, and producer Joshua Luke Smith to talk about about music, confidence, and positivity online.

Think Before You Type: Why did you start making music?

Joshua Luke Smith: I started writing music out of the curiosity of what could happen. It was that simple. It was as if I stumbled across a laboratory full of potions when I first picked up the guitar and started strumming chords. The liberation and trepidation of being able to create…. anything. From there it became solace, a place to explore my thoughts and craft words that would speak to the chaos around me.

TBYT: How would you describe the style of your music?

Joshua: I would say it’s what would happen if Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) could rap (ha!). It’s story telling, folk music that feels at home in His Hop.

TBYT: You have a very positive presence online. Why is that important to you?

Joshua: I write to Speak Into the Chaos. To speak words of life and hope in the midst of some darks days. Whether it’s a tweet, a song or speaking to a room full of people, it’s a soapbox I can stand on, and I don’t take that for granted!

TBYT: If you could speak to someone who is being cyberbullied, what would you say to encourage them?

Joshua: I would say you are not the words that have been spoken over you, nor are you defined by the pain others have chosen to hurl at you. You’re meant to be here. You matter and you have a future worth waking up for. I would say I’m sorry. Not because I’m involved but because it breaks my heart every time someone is subjected to the hurt that another has not found healing for. I would say you are not alone, though I know it feels like it. I would say Hope is Real and Help is Real.

TBYT: What is one positive way that you would like to see the internet change?

Joshua: I’d love to see nothing written and about anyone, anywhere by another person who wouldn’t say the same words if they were together standing in the same room. It’s harder to hurt another person when you can see you shared humanity.

TBYT: It takes a lot of confidence to get up on stage and perform in front of people. What advice would you give to someone who needs the confidence to get up in front of even a small crowd?

Joshua: Don’t run away from your nerves. To be nervous is to recognise you’re about to do something drenched in purpose. If it doesn’t cost you, it’s not worth as much. Embrace that feeling, own it, and hold onto the truth that your voice, your story, your song matters. Ask for feedback. Be humble. Take people on the journey with you.

TBYT: If you could play a show anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Joshua: I think it would be NYC. The home and birth place of Hip Hop.

TBYT: What is the biggest thing that you want people to take away from your music?

Joshua: That what it means to be human is far more sacred and special thing than they realised.

TBYT: What do you have coming up in 2018?

Joshua: ALOT. New music, touring Europe and the U.S. More poetry. More opportunity to live with less fear. The chance of being a better man, a more caring husband and a more faithful friend.

Interview with Body Banter Founder Steph Ng

image1We recently caught up with Steph Ng, the founder of Body Banter, to talk about body image, positivity online, and how others can get involved with her online platform.

Think Before You Type: What is Body Banter?

Steph: Body Banter is an online platform that aims to open up the discussion about body image issues through sharing ideas and opinions using varied and creative formats (e.g. videos, written pieces, spoken word, artwork, photographs). By encouraging more people to speak up about their experiences and ideas, Body Banter aims to bring to more widespread attention the problematic way we judge and evaluate bodies and to highlight the diversity inherent in both the people that experience body image issues as well as in the ways that these issues are experienced.

TBYT: What prompted you to start your organization? 

Steph: I suffered from anorexia nervosa in my early teens, and therefore understand firsthand how poor body image can affect both mental and physical wellbeing. I didn’t realize that I had an eating disorder until I became quite physically ill, and it was extremely hard for my family to find help for me during my recovery process, largely because we (including me) didn’t have any idea what an eating disorder, let alone anorexia, was! I realized that this had a lot to do with the fact that in Chinese culture, mental health problems are rarely talked about, as they are considered quite taboo and shameful. This avoidance is extremely problematic, as media portrayals of unrealistic body shapes and the number of individuals who develop body image issues and eating disorders are only on the rise in this day and age! Many people don’t realize that their mental state is a problem until physical symptoms arise, which can often be debilitating and even life-threatening. In short, I started Body Banter because I want people to be able to learn about self and body love before the media teaches them to hate and punish. I want to show people that as isolating as the experience of negative body image can be, that these experiences are diverse and happen to others of such diverse backgrounds, and that we can heal together, as a global community. There is too much negative online media, and I want Body Banter to be part of the growing movement towards a more positive online environment.

TBYT: When was the last time that a stranger made you smile? 

Steph: To be honest, a stranger makes me smile everyday! I really like to make friends in unexpected places, and if I can find something in common with someone random on the street (like the same taste in funky colourful leggings!), I often can’t help but strike up a conversation and see where it leads! Obviously, I rarely end up staying in contact with someone whose leggings I complimented, but I do end up walking away with a big smile and a big dose of positive vibes! 🙂

TBYT: What would you say to someone who has been cyberbullied?

Steph: First of all, I would say to NEVER suppress your feelings of hurt, or to tell yourself that those feelings are not “valid.” Find someone you trust and confide in them – expressing hurt is an integral part of the healing process. Secondly, I would tell them not to delay seeking help. I consider it one of the bravest behaviours to assert power over situations that often feel out of your control. Moreover, it is often the case that seeking help allows you to understand just how many people are also experiencing the same thing, and how much support is available to you.

TBYT: How can we spread positivity online? 

Steph: A great way to start is just to be more conscious of the way we use our words. You can never tell how personally affected someone might feel when you comment on their photo or their post. If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say it! Another tip is to never engage in heated arguments online. It is often difficult to tell what the person is really thinking or feeling in the moment, even if you know that person personally, and is the perfect place for misunderstandings to occur.

TBYT: What has been your favorite experience with Body Banter?

Steph: My favorite experience with Body Banter thus far is when someone Facebook messaged me to say that having once struggled with body image issues as a result of media influences, they found Body Banter to be a very positive and empowering online presence. It totally made me tear up! 🙂 I always say that Body Banter doesn’t need to change the world (though it would be pretty cool if it did!) – it just needs to make positive impact on someone’s life, or at least challenge someone to reconsider problematic stereotypes/assumptions that they have previously taken for granted.

TBYT: What are your goals for Body Banter in 2018? 

Steph: With regards to the Body Banter website, I would definitely like to see more people contribute video or written pieces, and share more perspectives on their experiences with body image. I also just started a Body Banter club at Duke, and my main goal is for the discussion about body image to expand within the Duke community! One big goal is to create a discussion based workshop that can be delivered by students, to students, with the aim being to spread ideas about body positivity while also seeking to understand more perspectives about body image.

TBYT: How can people get involved with Body Banter? 

Steph: Body Banter’s mission is for the sharing experience to be a conversation, so optimally people would not only share their own ideas, but also respond to ideas that interest (or even annoy!) them in their daily lives. I also want to add that the more original and creative the format of sharing is, the better! For example, we have received art pieces, and even a stop-motion video!

Kyle Britton Interview

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We recently caught up with indie-folk singer-songwriter Kyle Britton. Here’s what he had to say about the internet, music, and upcoming project.

What inspired you to get involved with music?

As kids, I think everyone would agree, that we’re all involved in music. We see those viral videos of babies dancing before that even know how to crawl. Music is born with a place in our souls. Some people grow up and find other things they enjoy or ways to make a living….I guess I never grew up.

How has the internet played a role in your career?

The internet is a global audience at your fingertips; it’s business deals and networking; it’s merchant services, banking, product manufacturing. Aside from recording the album in a studio and performing live, the internet is where I do all my business.

Who are your musical influences?

My brother and my father. My brother is a fantastic songwriter and musician and my pop’s a old school country strummer. I loved when my dad use to pick up a guitar and sing some old Hank Williams, I wanted to be able to do that. My brother motivates me without even knowing it. He writes such clever songs that it pushes me to try to keep up.
What is the best part of being a musician?

Heading to some small town, with your guitar in the backseat, knowing that there’s a group of people who wanted you to come into their lives and share what you’ve created is a pretty cool feeling. So, I guess the best part has to be connecting with a crowd who finds personal uses for your art and they use it to improve their emotional state.
You recently released a new EP. What was your favorite part of making the EP?

I loved producing it! It was so much fun thinking about all the different sounds and instruments we could use. I learned a simple rhythm on the castanets for ‘Fire Walker’, stuff like that was really fun for me.

When you’re down, what do you do to pick up your mood?

I like to get my feet dirty when I’m down. Hitting the hiking trails is absolutely the best thing I can do lift my mood. Usually, when I’m out there all alone for miles, I’m singing out loud, working on a tune, or just exercising my voice.

We’re really passionate about encouraging other young people to use the internet for good. What’s one positive way that you would like to see the internet change?

The internet is an amazing tool. I’m not sure if youths today even know what encyclopedias are…and that’s a good thing! We have almost unlimited information sitting in our pockets. I suppose if there was a change to the internet it would have to be a change in how it’s being used. And that’s up to the parents or guardians to implement positive internet using habits.

What advice do you have for young people who are dealing with cyberbullying?

It never feels good to hear people being nasty to you. But you have to take into account who’s doing the bullying and why the heck you care what they think. When you realize there are very few people you actually care what they think, bullying gets much easier to deal with.

What do you have coming up for the rest of the year? 

My wife and I are heading to Bali for our honeymoon! After that we get back and go on tour in October. We’ll be staying on the west coast just heading up and down and back again. We have another video set to release in October as well. And hopefully one more video to release before the end of the year. Jewelia (my wife) and I are currently in development of a new single we might try to record for the holidays.

Khloe Kares Interview

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We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Khloe, a little girl making a big difference by reaching out to homeless people in her community!

Can you describe Khloe Kares and the Work that you do?

Khloe Kares is an organization where I make these really cute bags called “Kare bags” with my grandma. Then we fill these bags with such items as toothbrushes and toothpaste, lotion, socks, conditioner and shampoo, wash cloths, soap, clean shirts, feminine products and other items. The stuff in the bags should last you about a month.

What prompted you to start the organization?

I would see the same homeless people everyday on my was to school. So I started asking my mom why they were there or how they become homeless. And when she would tell me, it made me sad, and I wanted to do something to help.

What advice do you have for other young people who want to make a difference in their communities?

Don’t let your age stop you from doing what you want. You can do anything at any age. And tell your parents about your ideas and get their support.

Our mom has been a big part of our organization. It seems like your family is also very involved in Khloe Kares. Who is involved and what do they do?

My whole family is involved. From my mom driving me around to my grandma helping me make bags and teaching me how to sew. My dad helps with all the heavy stuff, and he helps keep everything organized. All my other family is very supportive.

What do you think the future holds for Khloe Kares?

Well, right now we are getting ready for our toy drive. We are doing things with the Anne Douglass center at the LA Mission on skid row, and we are doing a “paint with me” project with the kids that visit their moms in the shelter. And we have a community potluck coming up around Thanksgiving. I also have a few speaking engagements. So I stay busy! Khloe Kares is here to help the community, and one day I might even have my own community center!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a veterinarian. I love animals, and I love watching animal surgeries on YouTube. I got to visit a vet hospital, and I was so excited to be there. I don’t know if I want to specialize in small or large animals just yet.

How would you like to see kids your age get involved in helping others?

I want them to do their part. Get involved in something that will make a difference. It doesn’t have to be like what I’m doing, but it can be something they are interested in.

In what way can others get involved with Khloe Kares?

People can donate items to Khloe Kares, or they can donate money to help with the stuff we buy to fill the bags. My friends that are homeless deserve nice things too, so we give out the good stuff in the Kare bags.

January Speaking Trip Vlog

This January we had the privilege of presenting to students at three elementary schools in Columbia, SC. We managed to film some of our favorite moments and put together a fun behind the scenes vlog.

If you are interested in having us speak at your school, church, or event please email info@tbytinc.org.

Check out Think Before You Type at:
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http://www.tbytinc.org/

Alexis Jones Interview

Alexis Jones Interview PicThink Before You Type: You are the founder of the organization I Am that Girl. Can you explain the work that you all do and your inspiration for starting it?

Alexis Jones: I’m a full time motivational speaker, and I get to travel all over the world reminding girls that they are awesome. My inspiration for it, if I’m being honest, is that I built it because I desperately needed it.

TBYT: You’ve stated that your organization’s mission is about “turning self doubt into self love”. That’s such a noble cause. What are some ways that you help girls have this internal transformation?

Alexis: I think the first way is by reminding girls that it’s not really their fault for feeling so bad about themselves and for being so mean to themselves because with the consumption of 10+ hours of media a day and consuming over 3K perfectly airbrushed brand images daily, we’re actually programmed to be insecure. That being said, I offer a broader definition of “beauty.” One that includes integrity, sense of humor, intelligence, athleticism, passion, creativity and myriad of other things that allow girls to rock what they got- so that “pretty” isn’t our only pursuit.

TBYT: You have made your voice heard in a variety of settings. That has to take a lot of confidence. What advice do you have for young girls who are working on finding their voices and mustering up the confidence to share their greatness with the world?

Alexis: I think the best way to find your voice and muster up more confidence is by doing things that scare you! Whether it’s signing up for a new dance class, learning a new language or taking a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go- I think when you have the courage to step outside your comfort zone, that you’re able look in the mirror and have Brave look back at you!

TBYT: What’s your favorite quote?

Alexis: “She took a leap of faith and built her wings on the way down”

TBYT: Who is your role model?

Alexis: Hands down, my mom. She’s my best friend and the coolest person that I know.

TBYT: What encouragement do you have for young people who are being cyberbullied?

Alexis: Watch the new documentary I just produced called A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story and know that despite what mean things people say, the awful things they call you, and the inhumane things they do- they are hurting exponentially more than you can even imagine. Rather than respond with the same toxicity they used, please respond with grace and love… it’s the only way we’re ever really going to change the world!!

Thanks for reading!