Interviews & Profiles

Interview by Francis Tanneur

Sharyn Maceren @Freestyle Music dot Com

Well, Sharyn I’m very happy to do this interview. I’ve been following you since the beginning of your singing career as The S Factor, and I was always wondering when you would release your first album. You finally did it last August. How do you feel now after all theses months of hard work?

Every day is a surprise for me because I am still working (on promoting this album.) Every chance that I have to meet with fans, though, gives me a better idea on how much the album is connecting with the people and it’s in those moments that I feel the most reward. 

Before we talk about your album in detail, I would really appreciate it if you could tell our readers: “Who is Sharyn Maceren?” LOL.

I am a singer/songwriter from the San Francisco Bay Area. I was born in the city of San Francisco and have lived in different parts of the Bay Area growing up. I’m a Filipino-American and as far as age goes… let’s just say… I’m not as young as I look. (laughing) I was born on February 26, which makes me a Pisces, and if you know anything about Pisces… it’s that we all love to be creative.  

Is Sharyn Maceren your real name?

Pretty much. It’s just been re-touched a little bit.

So, what is it? I know Sharyn, I’m too curious!!! LOL

That’s it. Sharyn Maceren. It’s 99.9% close to my actual given name but I can’t say much more than that. (giggling) Sorry, Francis. I like to keep you guessing.

Sharyn Maceren @Freestyle Music dot Com
Sharyn Maceren @Freestyle Music dot Com

You started your singing career with a song called “Hard to get”. How did you get involved on this project? Who were exactly the members of The S Factor’s band?

I met with producer Sam Maxion and worked with him for a year on songs that I wrote, including “Mystery”, “You’re My Everything”, “Who Loves You”, “I Think He Knows” and “Hard to Get”. After our contract was over, I decided to leave the company for personal reasons. By the time I stopped working with him, he released the single and named me “The S Factor”. I never planned on using another name besides my own… so calling me “The S Factor” was all his idea.

The S Factor actually isn’t a band. I was the only vocalist and he was the only producer. Since I left, Sam currently owns the name “The S Factor” and when he uses it now, he adds the name of the featured vocalist.

When the single “Hard to get” was out on the American market in 1997 you were a teenager. What was your reaction when it started to have heavy rotations on your local radio stations but also in the rest of the USA, to finally become a huge Freestyle hit?

Honestly, my reaction to it was mixed. On one hand, it was nice to know that my music was able to be so successful on radio and retail and with the general public… but on the other hand, I was never really recognized for my efforts (as a vocalist or as a songwriter). I mean, to this day, there are probably a bunch of people who are fans of “The S Factor” but have no ideas of who Sharyn Maceren is. It was hard to deal with because my art is really an extension of who I am. When I’d hear the radio and the DJ would say, “And that was ‘The S Factor’, it almost made me feel like it wasn’t me.

Sharyn Maceren @Freestyle Music dot Com
Sharyn Maceren @Freestyle Music dot Com

What was the reaction of your friends and relatives when they heard about your success? Did their behavior change?

My friends and relatives were really cool about my music. If anything, they would just proud of me and tell me all about the times they’d hear me on the radio and stuff like that. Yeah, to this day, everyone around me has remained the same. I’m kinda waiting for the day when their behavior will change. (giggling) Nah, but seriously, they’re cool.

How did you manage to balance school and the studio?

It was hard because, like my album title, I was ALWAYS dreaming about making records. If you look at some of my notes in class, you’d probably see a list of tracks in order because I even imagined how I’d want my tracks listed. I dreamed of everything.  You name it… how many pages of the booklet… the cover… the producers that I’d want to work with. I dreamed of it all. Where the class notes were supposed to be written, I don’t know.

When you began to sing, why did you choose Freestyle Music?

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a Pop/R&B singer like Mariah (Carey). However, when I met up with Sam, he wanted to steer me into the direction of Freestyle music. I personally didn’t listen to a lot of Freestyle music except for the Cover Girls and Sweet Sensation. However, I kept writing and one of the songs that I came up with that year was “Hard to Get”. Since then, I have seen that it has gotten a big following from the Freestyle community. Because of that, I decided to continue making songs for them in addition to other types of music that I like.

Do you have a personal definition of what Freestyle music is?

Yes. Because it’s a personal definition, that means I’m not speaking for everybody… okay? (I know how all us Freestyle fans have our ideas) but to me, Freestyle music is a song with a strong melody and hard beats and a lot of emotion. It’s like a love song from the streets.

Sharyn Maceren @Freestyle Music dot Com

Many Freestylers and also a few artists I talked to said that it’s very difficult to forget Freestyle music once you start listening to it. Do you have the same feeling? Is Freestyle music part of your life each single day?

It is because it’s a music that I love. All types of music are part of my every day life. Freestyle music is just becoming to be a bigger part since a big portion of my fan base is there. Since I like to keep in touch and interact with the people who listen to my music, it increases my knowledge of what’s going on and encourages me to continue making music that they like.

In 2000, you made a new deal with Captaur Records, a label from San Francisco. This is also the first single under your name. Could you tell us how you met the owners and producers of this label Mario Bonilla and Jeremy Davis? Why did you decide to work with them?

I met with Mario and Jeremy after high school. Mario was going to school for Business and Jeremy was going to school for Anthropology but both were heavily interested in music. They wanted to start their own record label and knew that I had a single already so they asked me if I was interested in signing a deal with them. Having been through what I’ve been through in the past, I learned a lot in a short period of time. By then, I really knew what I was getting into and I knew what to expect from a label that I wanted to work with. They were both very music-business savvy and both very hardworking. I knew that if we worked together, we’d be able to make some noise.

This single “One and one” was produced and remixed by Joe C. Grandberg? Could you talk about this mutual collaboration?
You also did together the track “A little more time”. Sincerely, I think that Joe Grandberg really contributed to your notoriety. Do you think I’m exaggerating when I have this kind of words? :-)

Jeremy and Mario were talking with distributors for the album and one of them had slipped us a demo CD of work produced by Joe Grandberg. I had actually had the chance to speak with him a couple years prior to that but I just been through the “Hard to Get” ordeal and I didn’t feel like dealing with music at that time. So, it was strange because I remembered him and I was just flabbergasted by his work. I told the guys, “I have to work with him!” and lucky for me, I had the chance.

Sharyn Maceren @Freestyle Music dot Com

Since then, Joe was just down to share his talent with me and I can’t forget that. His talent and generosity definitely helped me get to where I am today.

The single “One and One” is certainly one of my favorite songs. In your opinion, why didn’t it receive the success it deserved?

Well, it might not have received a lot of commercial success (like getting a lot of radio airplay and things of that nature) but whenever you’re on an indie label, you just try to keep giving the songs the opportunity to be heard and Mario and Jeremy certainly helped me with that.

However, we were all pretty happy with the way things went with “One and One” because they were able to sell all copies of the single. We broadened my fan base with all the performances that we did and the single got play on stations from Cali to New York to even Europe.

For me, I was able to do shows where people sang “One and One” along with me. Fans online also noted that “One and One” was one of their favorites for that year. Lastly, the work that we did on that project helped me get to where I am today… so I look at all the little things and feel like we did a good job. As long as we’re doing as much as we can, I don’t really look into the “Why didn’ts?” and the “How comes?”

The year 2002 appears certainly as one of your most successful and exhausting years of your young singing career for many reasons: You met and you decided to work with one of the most famous and respected Californian Freestyle producers Glenn Gutierrez; you released two singles (“In Just One Night” and “When the Record Spins”, your second single); and your first full-length album “Always dreamin’” and all the while, you have been doing a bunch of live performances. My first question will be simple: “How did you manage to do that? Any particular secret that you would accept to reveal to your fans? Please Sharyn, I want to know your secret…(laughing).

The secret is… my team. It takes every single person in my team to help me continue working and promoting and traveling and making sure everything is in order. Sometimes, I forget… but someone up there is watching me and says, “Okay, I’mma show you what it’s like when they’re not here.” And, then I’m like, “Whew. Let me recognize!”

Sometimes, we do shows day after day… and you need your booking agent to help you with your shows and then you need your road manager to help make sure that all the things you need are there. You need your dancers to make your show big and bad… and you need your label and promo team to help represent and get everything in order in every other level. Everyone makes a difference in helping me to do what I need to do and it’s because of them that I am able to promote like crazy.

Is it true that you met Glenn Gutierrez during one of your live performances in Cali?

Well, let’s see. The whole story goes like this. I was already working on completing my album when I was on Captaur (Records). I was working on songs with Joe (Grandberg) and somewhere along the line, was approached by Dadgel Atabay (best known for his works with Buffy and Stevie B.)

He was planning to work on his own project and asked if I wanted to work with him and I was like, “Okay… but only if you work with me on my project, too.” (giggles) So, we end up working on a couple of tracks when I guess (from what I hear from Glenn) he starts telling his industry friends, including Glenn, about me as an artist. At this time, Glenn had already formed Planet Hype (record label) and during a LIVE on-air interview with Delicious D on KSJS, Glenn had heard me singing “Hard to Get” acapella on the air. There was also a LIVE chat going on so when I wasn’t on the radio, I would go to the computer in the station and chat with the fans that were online. Glenn was there and said that he wanted to talk about music… and that’s how it all began.

Note: I used three of the tracks that Joe produced on the album but wasn’t able to use any of the tracks that Dadgel and I worked on because he had just gotten his family circle a little bit bigger and he became busy. But if he’s reading this… (you owe me, Dadg!) (laughing)

Sharyn & Stevie B @Freestyle Musid dot Com

Sharyn & Christina Marie @ Freestyle Music dot Com

Before your meeting with Glenn Gutierrez, what was your knowledge of his previous works? I mean, do you know all that he did for Freestyle music in the past?

No. I didn’t know about all of his works with artists like Stevie B, Jaya and others. My knowledge of his previous works started with Jocelyn’s “Lovely” album. At that time, I started paying attention to credits and I noticed that he wrote a lot and produced a lot on the album. On the “Jocelyn” album, I loved the work he did on “Do You Miss Me”- and “If I’m Falling In Love” in addition to everything else. After that, I fell in love with M:G’s “Make A Little Noise” album and I seriously thought that he was the one of the only producers left that I wanted to work with. Asides from being a genius in the production world, I was actually in awe of his songwriting skills.

You mutually decided to work together. Why?

Sharyn: It was a dream of mine to work with him. Why not? (smiles)

Glenn Gutierrez: I've always wanted to work with someone like Sharyn, and a lot of fortunate coincidences occurred to bring us together at this point. As Planet Hype developed into a label and production company, I needed to find an artist who was talented, driven, marketable, not already signed, and wanted to do this kind of music. That's an extremely rare package. Without gushing too much, Sharyn is all that and more. Her ability to write and learn quickly and have enabled us to go beyond anything I'd imagined.

You are both determined people and you know perfectly and exactly what you want, musically speaking. How did you decide the musical orientation and how did you figure what would be the best for this album? Did you make some compromises? How was it to work during the recording of this album?

Sharyn: Glenn was cool. I was so set in my mind with how I wanted this album to go and he respected that. I basically brought in all the songs that I wanted to use for the album. I’d tell him how I’d want each song to sound like and what styles I wanted to incorporate. Sometimes, I’d tell him what drum pattern I’d like for the song. Sometimes I’d tell him what bass line I’d like to use. Other times, he might figure out what lead to add or what style to try instead. He really complimented what I was trying to do and I think that’s how we were able to work so well together. He listened to what I had to say and helped to bring out my ideas in its finest form.

Beyond all that, it was fun working together but it was just a lot of time management because we only had two months to really work on the album and I really wanted to have at least 14 tracks on there (not including remixes) so… every day became an all-nighter. I practically slept in the studio because every day was filled with recording and producing. Sometimes, when Glenn would be working on certain things, I would be creating my album booklet (which I loved doing, by the way) but it was still work and everything had to be clean. Man, when that album was completed… it was like, “Yeah! I can sleep for once.” (giggling)

Glenn: It may have been a surprise for both of us at the beginning, but we work extremely well together. Even though we can talk about any song on the same level, most of our focus falls into different areas when creating new music. At first, I trusted Sharyn because I recognized her talent and because she is her own core demographic. She may have trusted me because of my prior work. As we pieced together each song for the album, Sharyn would have an idea for the style (being the songwriter), and I did my best to make that idea happen or push it higher. When you can work this closely, without stepping on each others' toes, you don't have to compromise. In fact, the only real issues we've ever run into are time and travel, since she lives far away by car or train.

Sharyn, could you describe in a few lines Glenn Gutierrez? And Glenn, could you do the same thing?

Sharyn: Glenn’s funny. Witty actually… Glenn is a combination of a brilliant mind, a generous heart and a joyful soul. He’s a great friend to have in addition to being a wicked partner in the studio.

Glenn: I've already run through the technical list, so I'll just add that Sharyn is the kind of person you'd want to work with for the rest of your career. Great personality, good head on her shoulders, and an honest humility. I'm very lucky to have met her, let alone be working with her.

Do you have any story about the recording of this album?

Sharyn: Hmm… One day out of the entire recording process, Glenn decides that we should take time out and just do something out of the workplace so we decide to watch Star Wars: Attack of the Clones on the first night that it played. So, like I said, every day we worked was pretty much like a 19 hour day and we had already been recording… but we took a break to watch the showing. The movie played at midnight and it was over by 2AM. Afterwards, we headed back to the studio and had to record “Ain’t No Love”. I don’t think I had enough to eat that day and I was extremely tired but we had to record the vocals. So the entire time that I was recording, I was just like “I hope I don’t pass out.”

Glenn: While tracking vocals for Rainbow, Sharyn said she wanted to try a small talking part. I said "go ahead, Elvis!" and started recording. When we got to that part, I heard "It was telling me" on the monitors, then a distant laugh. I looked into the vocal room and couldn't see Sharyn, but I could still hear her laughing hysterically. I stood up so I could see better... She was curled up on the floor. Eventually, we both stopped laughing long enough to track that part again, but I think we used that first take. And what's the best way to get sexy, breathy vocals for an intimate song? Go see a Star Wars premiere at midnight before-hand, then start tracking at 3 am! Would “Ain't No Love” be the same if we'd recorded it prior to Yoda's big fight scene? No one knows...

Thanx Glenn for your cool and friendly intervention on Sharyn’s interview.

It's an honor to intervene. :-) Thank you for your support, Francis!

Sharyn, your first-length album “Always dreamin’” is out on Planet Hype in last August. What was your first impression when you heard the whole CD?

I was nervous. I mean, the album came out just the way that I wanted it to but I kept listening to it over and over, trying to imagine how someone might react to it for the first time.

Sharyn, imagine for just a brief instant that you are a salesgirl. What would you say about the album to sell it as well as possible?

I probably wouldn’t say anything. I’d probably just direct them to the listening station and let the music speak for itself.

You did a wonderful album that should please every Freestyler. The success of this album is due to both the quality of the songs and the production. It is also due to the refreshing sound that you and Glenn have created for us.

I mean the Freestyle songs are mostly oriented to the West Coast Freestyle genre but nevertheless your style does sound the same? How did you work on this sound?

I think, as it is with most artists, you absorb the sounds that are around you and you combine it with all the sounds that you love. It’s a very organic thing. Because the music comes from your heart, you don’t really work on the end result. It just becomes. When your music is a part of you, it will always reflect your sound because there’s an element that only you can give. Being from the West Coast, the diverse styles of music that have been played on stations like WILD 94.9 have definitely been an influence.

The way you sing is very original and unique. You especially use a certain sensuality when you’re singing. Is it the Sharyn Maceren trademark?

Hmm… I never thought about it. Honestly, I have no idea how my voice comes across to other people but I only hope that the passion that I have while I’m singing comes through in the records.

Sharyn Maceren &  Angelina @Freestyle Music dot Com

I was a little bit surprised to do not see any duet in your album. Which artist, you would love to do a duet with?

As far as Freestyle/Dance artists go, I’d love to work with Angelina and M:G. I’ve always been a fan of their music, their styles, and their voices. On top of that, I’ve always heard good things about them. This year, I’ve had the opportunity to meet both of them and everything I heard was true. They’re both very cool. They are definitely my choices. As far as other types of music, I’d like to work with Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani and Nelly Furtado. Their styles are off the hook. I really dig how they express their individuality in their music...

What is your main goal in the music industry, and most particularly in Freestyle music?

My main goal in the music industry is to have my music heard by as many people possible. I live, love, and breathe music and I have chosen this to be my career so I would like for it to be successful. As far as Freestyle music goes, my main goal is to continue bringing to the table what I feel represents Freestyle for me.     

Who have been your main influences in Freestyle music, but also in Music in general?

My main influences in Freestyle music have been The Cover Girls and Sweet Sensation. I remember hearing “Show Me” for the first time and just LOVING it. To this day, I still feel the same way about it. That’s the way I feel about both their first albums. I just loved them and I think that “In Just One Night” was like my little tribute to both of those groups. In other types of music, my main influence was Mariah Carey because I was a fan of every album she did. She was also a songwriter on top of being a powerful vocalist and I’ve always appreciated artists that wrote their own material.

Sharyn & Shannon @Freestyle Music dot Com

What is your “all time favorite” Freestyle song? Why?

I think it is “Show Me” by the Cover Girls… There’s no reason why. When you have a favorite song… there are no words to describe why it gives you shivers and brings you to ecstasy. It just does.

Do you have any particular message to give to the Freestyle community and to your fans?

Yeah… You guys are so cool and I love you all. I feel so at home being able to chitchat with you guys on the boards and I love reading your e-mails so thank you to everyone who keeps in touch. The Freestyle Community is off the hook. We all have love for the styles that have been around and continue to come around and we all just gotta be thankful that there is still so much passion. Everyone has got different opinions but it’s all good. One of my favorite quotes is that you can’t please everyone. Still, it’s fun to know that we have a common bond and that the community is getting its voice heard. I know I’m listening.

What advice or message would you give to future artists?

Simple. Be educated about the business. Surround yourself with people you respect and trust to be on your team. Study your craft. Pray and love what you do. When you love what you do, obstacles never seem as hard.

Sharyn Maceren @Freestyle Music dot Com Is it true that you would love to become a model?

Where’d you hear that from? (giggles) My main focus creativity-wise right now is in music. If someone hired me to be a spokes model or if there was a project that gave me good exposure, I would be down to do it… but it is not a career that I dream of pursuing. The thing that gets people confused is that I got involved to work with David Tan of .We were able to work together where I was able to use his images for promotional material and he was able to use my images for his highly visited website. I was a fan of his work and was fortunate that he wanted to have me on his site. Through that, I was able to use his work for a lot of the photos that are in my album booklet, on my website and on flyers and stuff of that nature. His work is dope! I hope I can work with him again…

One of your other centers of interest is photography. Why did you put so many snapshots in your album? This is the first time that I saw so many pix of an artist in his own album. Are you also interested by this art?

Yes, I love all types of art. Photography, drawing, graphic design…. Because of that, I was very interested in designing my own album booklet and the guys at Planet Hype were cool with that. I personally love photographs so since I had a lot of pictures in my archives, I decided to make a collage that would include new pictures, old pictures and pictures that displayed the things that I loved… like a sunset, flowers, treasured jewelry and my dogs (giggles) I had to put them in there. I figured a lot of people probably like photographs as much as I do and I tried to find a way to fit a bunch of em in there… and still make it look pretty. In the pages where I laid out the lyrics, I thought it would be a fun idea to make little album covers of each song so that the reader could also have a visual to match with the music.

As a fan, I’m the first to say that it was a great idea Sharyn!

Thank you, Francis… (smiling)

What are your favorite hobbies?

My favorite hobbies are writing, playing the piano, surfing the net, lounging, traveling, reading magazines (!), buying CDs, and anything creative.

If you have to describe yourself in a few lines, what would say about you?Hmm… I’m really silly. I feel like I’m a down to earth person… I like to treat everyone I meet with respect and have found that’s the best way to get it in return. I like to laugh a lot (so people tell me.) When I go out with my friends, they say I’m the life of the party… Thing is, I’m usually just chillin’ at home. I’m in love with love, music, nature and all beautiful and simple things that bring true joy.

Anything else you want to talk about?

I just want to say thank you to all the people who have touched my life in a positive way. Every single person who has taken the time to share their thoughts with me on how the music has connected with them makes everything that I have to do… worth it. Also, to all the fans who haven’t got the album yet, “Whattaya waiting for?” (winks)

And to all the people who don’t know how to get to my online home, all you gotta do is go to your browser, type in  and come on in. My home is your home. You’re always welcome and I wanna see you there!

Thank you so much Sharyn for accepting this interview.

Thank you, Francis. I had fun.

I appreciate you for being real in your reviews and for giving light to the new music that is being brought to the Freestyle Community. Much luv * 



Interviews & Profiles