March 26, 2014
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — Music
March 26, 2014
By Lily Tolchin
Lily Tolchin, 12, a seventh-grader at St. Bede School in Point
Breeze, is a contributor to the My Generation pages and also has her own blog:
Cher Lloyd, 20, is an English singer, rapper and songwriter who
became famous after she appeared on Britain’s version of “The
X-Factor” when she was 16. After seeing her perform, judge Simon Cowell
signed her to his Syco Music label, where she released the hit song “Want
U Back.” Ms. Lloyd will perform Tuesday at the Carnegie Library Music Hall
Where: Carnegie Library
Music Hall of Homestead in Munhall.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Tickets: $24-$40; 412-368-5225 or www.librarymusichall.com
You were very shy as a child. How were you able to audition for
“The X-Factor” at such a young age?
I auditioned when I was 14, but I didn’t make it, unfortunately,
and then I went back when I was 16, and that’s when they had me on the TV. I
wasn’t too shy as a child, but it’s very nerve-racking for anyone to go and
audition for a TV show — and especially when you have to sing, too. But I
think I was just so passionate about what I was doing that I just went for it.
And I think that — as soon as I got on the stage — I was fine.
On “The X-Factor” Simon Cowell called you a brat, and
now your fans are called Brats. Why did he call you that?
The thing about Simon is that he appears to be a meanie, but
he’s really a nice guy — a really nice guy — and he is amazing at what he
does. And he called me a brat because he knew that he could call me a brat. And
it was just something fun that he used to call me, and it kind of just stuck
with my fans. So that’s how that really came about.
I read that you were bullied as a kid because you come from a
family of Gypsies. How did that affect you?
I think that bullying affects many people in different ways. I
wouldn’t say that it affected the way I felt about performing or about music in
general, but it was definitely a bit of a knock-back for me, and as I’ve always
said, if there is anyone out there that is being bullied, then my advice would
be to speak to someone, maybe a parent or a friend. It’s always better when you
can talk about it and kind of just let go of it for a second and then seek help
from whoever you’re talking to.
Did bullying help you learn to stand up for yourself more?
I wouldn’t say stand up for myself more. I’d say that it was not
a very nice time, but, you know, I’m out of that phase now. I think it’s very
difficult for anyone who’s in school — because bullying can affect your
schoolwork, too, as well as your personal life. But I think I’m definitely a
strong person now.
You write a lot of your songs. What do you enjoy more — singing
Well, songwriting is just part of what I do as an artist. But I
definitely enjoy singing a lot more than I do songwriting. Because I feel like
if I just enjoyed the songwriting then I’d just want to be a songwriter. But
the experience I have on stage — it just makes me want to do what I do.
Is it hard to make the music you want when you’re working with
so many other people?
That’s a good question. It used to be difficult for me because I
had a vision of exactly what I wanted to do. And I think many other people had
their own visions. And they visualized who they wanted me to look like and
sound like. And that was very difficult for me. But I kept fighting, and I
fought against it, and — finally now — I have this amazing opportunity where
I get to make the music that I want to, and I get to dress the way that I want
to and really let my fans know who I am, as a person and as an artist as well.
So it was difficult, but I’m now past that stage.
When you started out on “The X-Factor,” did you think
you would become as big as you are now?
No, not at all. All that I knew was that I was going to work
really hard. And I was going to make the most out of the opportunity that
“The X-Factor” gave me. You know, “The X-Factor” gave me a
really solid platform, but I felt that it’s up to you to carry on from that,
it’s up to you to make the next big steps. And that’s what I did.
What other artists have inspired you, and who would you most
like to work with in the future?
I’d say that the artist that I look up to the most is probably,
definitely, Dolly Parton, And I’ve watched Beyonce perform live — it’s
incredible. And she’s someone that I can really look up to, too.
You recently got married to your boyfriend, hairdresser Craig
Monk. Has being married changed you in any way?
No, I don’t think it’s changed me in any way; it’s exactly the
same really, you know. I’ve had that question quite a lot, and, yeah, I haven’t
Is it true that you have 21 tattoos? Are you planning on getting
I don’t know how many I’ve got — I think it’s around 20, 21.
But, yeah, if I feel like it in the future, I may get more. I’m definitely not
going to say no to that.
“Want U Back” has made you famous in the U.S. Is there
any difference between being famous in the U.K.
and in America?
No, there’s not really much difference, apart from the fact that
is a much larger place. So I’d say it’s much more difficult to reach out to a
larger audience. You know — back home, it’s very small. But, yeah, there’s no
difference for me. I mean, anyplace that I release my music, I treat it exactly
the same — whether it’s large or small.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next
The next project is finished, and it will be released on May 27,
called “Sorry I’m Late,” and I’m extremely excited about it. Between
now and then, I’ve teamed up with MTV, and every two weeks a random fan will be
picked and they will have the opportunity to release my songs. So every two
weeks, a fan will release a new track. And this is something that no other
artist has ever done.
That sounds great. Finally, do you have any advice for kids who
are talented but are afraid to show it?
My advice to kids is to get comfortable with yourself first.
There is absolutely no rush whatsoever. I think it’s really important for you
to feel comfortable and ready before you go and do something. But that’s not to
say that you can’t go try something small. If there’s a small talent contest
within your area, go do it for the experience.
Don’t do it to put pressure
on yourself to win it — just do it for the experience. It really helps — and
that’s what I did, growing up as a young kid, too.
July 25, 2012
I recently interviewed piano superstar Ethan Bortnick, and the interview appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s “My Generation” column today — here it is:
CONCERT PREVIEW: GIFTED PIANIST ETHAN BORTNICK, 11, BRINGS NATIONAL TOUR HERE
By Lily Tolchin
Ethan Bortnick will be in Pittsburgh
on Friday, July 27th to kick off his 22-city national “It’s All About Music”
tour at the Carnegie Library Music Hall
of Homestead. Ethan’s special guests, the Kidz Bop Kids,
will open the show. Tickets are
available through the Music Hall box office at (412) 368-5225 and by
Lily Tolchin, 10, a soon-to-be sixth-grader at St.
Bede School in Point Breeze, had the chance to interview Ethan recently. Lily also has her own blog: www.kidsbeststuff.com .
Q. You play piano
really well – when did you start playing, and when did you know that you were
A. When I was three,
I was really into music, and I saw a lot of kids at my school taking piano
lessons. And I was really curious, so I
asked my parents for piano lessons, and they said ‘Are you kidding, you’re
still in diapers!’ So I had a little toy
piano, and I started playing everything I heard on that toy keyboard, and
finally my parents decided I was ready and signed me up for piano lessons.
Q. What’s the first
song you remember playing really well?
A. Well, I used to
listen to Baby Einstein CD’s, and I really liked this song by Mozart called
“Alla Turca” so I started playing it on my toy piano when I was three. But it wasn’t the best, partly because my toy
piano was really small – it only had eight keys – but later on I learned it for
real on a regular piano keyboard.
Q. What did your
parents think when they found out you could play so well?
A. What did they
think? They flipped out – that’s what
they told me. Because they didn’t
believe me, they didn’t believe that I was playing Mozart. They thought that I had turned on the Baby
Einstein CD, but when they came in the room they saw that I was playing the
Mozart song on my toy piano. I think
they took a video tape of me playing that day – I was too young to remember.
Q. I play piano too –
but not like you – how long does it take you to learn a new song?
A. It depends. If I’m learning a song by reading sheet
music, it could take me about a week or two to learn it and to be able to play
it well. But if I just listen to a song about
three times or so, then I get it immediately and I can play it pretty well. So reading the music actually takes me longer
than if I just hear it.
Q. How many songs do
you have memorized, and how long do you practice every day?
A. I have hundreds of
songs memorized, but I really don’t keep track of the actual number. As far as practicing, some days, I’ll
practice for one hour or two hours, and some days I won’t practice at all. I usually just like to hang out and play the
piano for fun. It depends on how I feel
that day. But when I have a concert
date, I usually rehearse for an hour or two.
Q. Do you have a
A. Yeah, I actually
have two piano teachers – I still take lessons from my first piano teacher who
worked with me when I was really little, and I have a second piano teacher who
teaches me different things.
Q. I understand that
you also write your own music – where do you get your ideas for songs?
A. Where do my ideas
come from? Well, first I think of a
story, or I get inspired to write something, and then my hands just take over –
I don’t know how it happens. And then I start
to think of words to go with the song. I
sit at the piano and then the hands start working, and then what I’m playing
turns into a song. It happens pretty
Q. You recently started singing during your performances –
how is that going? Do you like singing?
A. Well, I used to
sing when I was younger, but it was new for me.
Now I’ve been taking vocal lessons and I’m really starting to love it —
Q. What’s it like to
meet celebrities like Oprah and Justin Bieber – and are there any celebrities
that you’d like to meet but haven’t met yet?
A. All of the
celebrities have been amazing. Justin
Bieber was great – we recorded some music with him. Oprah was really, really nice, and the Black
Eyed Peas were awesome. Once, Will.I.Am
called my house to invite me to his concert, and my dad was on the phone, and
he thought it was one of his friends playing a trick on him, so he hung
up. But then he realized that it was
actually Will.I.Am, so he called him back!
I’ve never met Paul McCartney, but I’d really love the chance to meet
him and to play with him someday.
that you’re 11 years old, are girls becoming your biggest fans?
A. Well, you know
what? I’m a little too young for that –
but I really like all of my fans, they’re great!
Q. What grade are you
in? Do you go to a regular school or
have a tutor?
A. I’m going into
middle school – sixth grade. I go to a
regular school – a private school — and I love it. I really like school. I especially love math and science – those
are my two favorite subjects.
Q. Is it hard to study
when you’re doing concerts?
A. No, it’s not that
hard because my teachers give me the homework while I’m traveling, and when I’m
going away on a really long trip, my teachers talk to me on Skype on the
computer. That’s how I get taught when
I’m on the road.
Q. Do you play any
A. Besides the
piano? I tried drums, I tried guitar,
but I’m not as good as I am on the piano.
Q. Is your family
A. No. I tried teaching my dad how to play “Mary Had
A Little Lamb” and that did not work out so well!
Q. How much time do
you spend on the road doing concerts each year?
Is it tiring?
A. Well it
depends. Like last year, we did almost
75 shows — headlining shows, and then we also did a bunch of private concerts.
All I know is that we did a lot of
concerts – and it takes a lot of time — but it’s so much fun!
Q. How does it feel
to be famous? Do you get recognized by
other people a lot?
A. How does it feel
to be famous? You know, I’m just a
regular kid. I mean, I play piano, but I
also play video games, I read, swim, play sports, draw – I mean, you know – I’m
a regular kid like anyone else.
Q. What’s your
A. Well, my little
brother is a huge sports fan, so I have to try to play with him nicely, even
though he gets very excited to play sports – he’s still smaller than me. But I would say that my favorite sports are
probably basketball and baseball – but I have to be careful with my hands,
especially before a concert.
Q. What do you see
yourself doing when you’re grown up? Are
you planning to go to college?
A. Am I planning to
go to college? Sure, yeah, I mean, it’s
important, you know. But I’m still
young, so I have to decide that when I’m older.
Q. What’s your new
A. We’ve just released
a new single that came out called “It’s All About Music,” which is also the
name of our tour. Our tour is kicking
off in Pittsburgh,
and we’re going to 22 cities – it’s going to be a lot of fun. Kidz Bop Kids is the opening act,
and then I come out, and I’ll play all
kinds of music — there will be lots of surprises.
Q. I heard that
you’re friends with Marvin Hamlisch, who lives here in Pittsburgh – is that true?
A. Yeah, I’ve met
Marvin Hamlisch – he’s a really funny guy, a great guy, and he’s very talented
too. And I also opened for him at a
concert when he was the headliner. Maybe
I’ll get to see him when I’m in Pittsburgh
for the concert on July 27 – that would be great – I can’t wait to come to your
January 26, 2011
Miranda Cosgrove, the star of iCarly and definitely one of our favorite people (as an actress, a singer and just a great girl!), is coming to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, February 2nd to sing at the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead — and we got to interview her for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette! Here’s a link to the Post-Gazette story, which appeared in the Post-Gazette’s “My Generation” column today:
The Post-Gazette story was really great, with three columns and a big picture of Miranda smiling with her arms in the air, dancing. But even though the Post-Gazette included most of the actual interview, there were still some questions that didn’t make it into the P-G version due to space. So, as a special treat to the readers of www.kidsbeststuff.com — here is the entire interview — with questions about Jerry Trainor, Drake and Josh, her favorite pets, her best friend, being an only child, and more!
Miranda Cosgrove, the 17-year old star of the popular
Nickelodeon TV show “iCarly,” will be in Pittsburgh
on Wednesday, February 2nd to perform selections from her album
“Sparks Fly” and to share her new single, “Dancing Crazy” at the Carnegie Library
Music Hall of Homestead. Tickets are
available through the Music Hall box office at (412) 368-5225 and by visiting www.librarymusichall.com.
Q. How did you get started in show business?
A. I live in LA, and when I was three I went to a food
festival with my parents, and an agent was there and she asked my parents if I
wanted to join her agency. And my
parents were not sure about it at all, and they thought about it a little
while, and I ended going on a couple of auditions and I liked it.
Q. Are you anything
like your character in iCarly?
A. Yeah, I think I’m a lot like Carly. I don’t go quite as crazy as she does –
sometimes, when things go wrong, she really goes overboard. Especially like an episode when I end up on
the side of a building on the scaffolding and all that stuff – that usually
doesn’t happen to me (laughs). But I am
like her because I’m always with my friends and I love making videos and stuff
for the web, and I have a You Tube page.
Q. What’s your
favorite episode of iCarly?
A. My favorite
episode? I like the episode “I Saved
Your Life” where Freddy saved Carly’s life and she decides she likes him. And then I really like an episode that we did
that’s coming up called “I Hire An Idiot” and that night Sam and Carly decide
to hire this really cute guy to work for the show and Freddy’s really annoyed
Q. What is it like
kissing Freddy in the “I Saved Your Life” episode?
A. It was a little strange because I’ve known him since we
were both 13 and we were like 16 I think in that episode and – I don’t know, I
just feel like I’ve known him for such a long time and he’s like my brother
because I’m with him everyday. So, it
was a little funny. It’s also funny
because Jeannette who plays Sam has to kiss him too in an episode. And we’re all like really good friends at the
show. We were all like laughing during
those episodes and stuff – it was a little awkward.
Q. How do you manage
school and work?
A. That’s probably the hardest thing about acting or doing
music just because I still have to do school and study. Basically, I have a tutor that comes with me
every day to the set or wherever I’m going.
She’s going to come on tour with me – I do all of my schoolwork with
Q. Are you good at
school? What’s your favorite subject?
A. Um, my least
favorite subject is math (laughs). But
I’m pretty good in school. I really like
English – that’s my favorite subject. I
love writing, I love creative things.
Q. Do you plan to go
to college? If so, where?
A. Yeah, I do. I just
sent in all my college applications. I
applied to six schools, but the two main schools I’d really love to go to are
USC (University of Southern California) or NYU (New York University.)
Q. Do you see
yourself as a role model for other kids?
A. I don’t know if I
see myself as a role model, but sometimes parents will say that to me and I
think that’s really nice, but it’s kind of shocking to me. I don’t know – I think I just try to make the
Q. Do you have a
boyfriend? If so, how do you keep your
A. I do not have a
boyfriend, but I want a boyfriend, so tell me if you know anyone! (laughs) I don’t know how I keep my life private. I think I’m lucky because I live a little out
of LA. I mean, sometimes I’ll go to
places where there are paparazzi, but for the most part, where I live, I’m by
the beach, and I have my group of friends that I’ve always had, so that helps a
Q. You released a new
single, “Dancing Crazy.” Are you also
releasing a new album this year?
A. Yeah, I have a new EP coming out really soon and that’s
going to be in stores and on iTunes — that has six new songs.
Q. I loved your album
“Sparks Fly.” What’s your favorite song
on that album?
A. My favorite song –
I like “There Will Be Tears” because it’s a good girl power song, and to sing
to a guy “I’m not going to cry about it.”
And then I like “Kissing U” because I wrote that about a guy I really do
Q. Do you help to
write the songs that you sing?
A. I write some of
them and then some of them I co-write, and then some of them I just hear
because somebody sends it to me or a friend of mine writes it and I really end
up liking it. So I’m kind of all over
Q. How is singing
different from acting for you? Which do
you like better?
A. I think they’re really different. With acting, I’ve been doing it longer. I mean, I’ve been singing since I was little
but I had never been on stage and actually performed. So with acting I feel more comfortable I
think, but I like the feeling of getting a little nervous before shows and
before going on stage. And also, with
acting you’re playing a character, and with singing, you’re yourself, so I like
that about acting.
Q. Would you like to
be a movie actress? Are there any plans
to make an iCarly movie?
A. You know, we’ve
talked about making an iCarly movie that would be in theaters and, I don’t
know, maybe for the show’s finale we could end up doing that — I think it
would be really fun.
Q. Do you have any
A. I do. I have my dog – she’s here with me right now
– her name is Pearl,
she’s a poodle, and then I have a cat.
What about you? Do you have pets?
Q. Yeah, her name is
Snowball, and she’s small and white and she’s really fluffy and she loves to
play with me.
A. Oh, how cute! I love dogs, they’re my favorite animals.
Q. Who inspires
you? Is there anything you’d like to
tell other kids to inspire them?
A. Who inspires
me? Well, as far as acting and singing,
I really love Kate Winslett and I love Gwen Stefani. Um, and then, probably my mom. I would love to inspire people, I think
that’s really an honor, that would be great.
I met Gwen Stefani once, and I literally couldn’t speak. I think she’s amazing.
Q. How do your
parents feel about you acting?
A. I think at first
my parents didn’t really want me to do it.
My mother actually had a friend whose daughter had gone on some
auditions, and we made friends. I was so
little but I started going on auditions, and I don’t think my parents would do
it more than once or twice, but I just kept going and going, and then everything
just started to happen. So, I don’t
know, I think they’re still kind of shocked by the whole thing, but they’re
Q. Do you have any
brothers or sisters?
A. I don’t – I’m an
only child – I always thought my dog was like my sister. It can get a little boring – my next door
neighbor is my age, so we hang out together.
Q. Who is your best
A. My best friend is
my next door neighbor. Her name is Nina,
and she’s lived next door to me since I was five. And I don’t know – we just do everything
Q. Does Nina come to
A. Yeah. She’s been on the iCarly set a lot, and
because I’m going on tour and I’m going to be away for about a month or so,
she’s going to come on the bus for a week of it, and then she’s going to be at
all the LA shows.
Q. Did you make any
new friends with the iCarly characters or guest stars?
A. Yeah, I feel like
it’s sort of like high school. People
always say “Are you bummed that you didn’t get to go to high school,” but it’s
kind of like that. I mean, we have cute
guys on the show sometimes, and all the girls on the show whisper about
them. And I meet people all the time
that I end up being friends with, that are on the show for an episode. So it’s pretty cool.
Q. You and Neville on
iCarly are enemies, but are you friends in real life.
A. (Laughs) Yeah, in real life, he’s pretty much a
genius. He writes novels and he’s like
his character if his character wasn’t evil.
Q. Are you glad
A. Yeah, I am. I think if I were in school with my friends,
I’d probably be wishing that I was acting.
It’s kind of funny though, because I fell into it – so I’m not sure if I
would have ended up doing it if that hadn’t happened – but I really love it.
Q. Do you like Jerry
Trainor as your brother?
A. Yeah, I feel like
he is my brother a little in real life, ‘cause if I ever have a problem, I
would call him. I’m a big night owl and
I stay up really late, so I always text him when I’m at home watching movies
and stuff. And he’s always telling me
about good music. He’s just really,
really fun. And he taught me how to
Q. Is it the same
with Drake Bell, in Drake and Josh?
A. Yeah, well, I
actually just saw Drake because he’s going to come to some of my shows on tour,
because I’m going to be playing the iCarly theme song. He’s going to be coming up on stage and
playing with me. It was really fun to
see him, because I hadn’t seen him in maybe six months or so and I miss him.
Q. Do you play any
A. I do – I play
guitar. I started playing guitar when I
was eight, and then I stopped for a year, and then I started again.
Q. What songs are you
going to be singing at the concert?
A. We’re going to be
doing about fourteen songs. We’re going
to do my new single, “Dancing Crazy,” and we’re going the iCarly theme song,
and all the songs off of my “Sparks Fly” album and a couple of new songs.
Q. Thanks for doing
this interview. Do you often get
interviewed by kids?
A. No, I think that’s
so cool. I think you’re a great
interviewer, by the way. I really hope
that you can come to the show and I’ll get to meet you – that would be
great! I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, so I’m really
looking forward to it!