Linda Septien has worked with endless amounts of youthful talent since her start as a talent coach and owner of Septien Entertainment Group in 1986. Based in Dallas, Texas, Septien’s vast knowledge of what it takes to be a star has inspired and launched the careers of some of today’s biggest stars like Beyoncé, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez. MEB writer Emma Guido luckily got the opportunity to interview Septien and get the inside info on talent coaching, her best students, and how to be a successful artist!
MEB: You founded your music-training group, Septien Entertainment Group, back in 1986. What can you tell us about your past and how it led you to your career?
Linda: I was a fully-functioning opera diva that thought I could do it all. So, I traveled to Nashville to show the world how great I was in commercial music also; whereupon the producer told me, “You suck.” My diva heart couldn’t take it. How could that be, when I just returned from Italy singing my heart out and getting great ovations? He stated simply, “You have no entertainment value in your voice!” I had no clue what that meant, which is why I didn’t have it, I suppose. I set out to find it, found it, and made a full career out of teaching others.
Who were your biggest musical influences growing up and how did they inspire you as you worked towards your career?
My parents are both musicians, as well as my sister and every pet that I grew up with, because my mother would teach them to sing as well. I love ragtime, I love the Beatles, I loved hard rock (Iron Butterfly being my favorite), I loved Ella, and many blues and gospel singers. But I most loved BB King, who I got to play for my prom.
You have worked with some really incredible names in today’s pop music industry like Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. How does it feel to see how far the people you have worked with have gone in the music industry?
You are only as good as the last person you launched or else you haven’t kept up enough in the industry. So, I am proud for them being such great examples of success, but I also know that we have more to come!
How would you explain your job to someone who has no knowledge of talent coaches and their tasks?
My job is to first learn how someone else learns. When you discover that key piece, you can then go to the next step and build on the talent they presently have. Then you swoop in and give them what they don’t know and you do it day in and out, keep track of them, push them, pick them up when things fall apart, and continue to create in them something like NO ONE else, I find their brand through their vocals, body movement, fashion, hair, and communication, then I introduce them to top leaders in the field of music and see how I did.
What are some of your best experiences as a talent coach?
Kidz Bop is one of my favorites because I create their shows and get to see lots of young kids interact with what has been created. It is self-satisfying not only because I can see our creation come to life, but I also get to work with kids. That’s my favorite.
Who has been your favorite artist to work with and why?
My present artist Rudi Aliza. She is amazing! Can do anything, sing anything, and perform anything. She is over-the-top entertaining. She is the next person we are launching.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being located in Dallas, Texas?
Advantages are many. It is less expensive which affords us the ability to have 15,000 square feet of artist development space. It is centrally located between Miami, New York, and L.A. where I go once a month. There are many corporations in Dallas, which allow us to maintain over 20 gigs per month, per year! Los Angeles is still the place to be in music. Every day there is something in music that is offered that you can attend in L.A. and we do not have that advantage here. It is better NOT to be from L.A as an artist. For some reason, producers and labels would rather think they “discovered” you in some remote bar or gig, rather than realizing you are in L.A. conveniently waiting for them to call.
When you first meet a student, how does the introductory class go about?
Every student goes through an evaluation with me or with another teacher trained in SEG method. The evaluation lasts 1.5 hours and the singer receives an in depth 5 page run down of strengths and weaknesses including voice disorders, pitch, diaphragm, vocal shaping ability, songwriting capability, and 70 other points.
From your experience, what is it that makes a musician stand out in the industry?
Can’t define that unless I see it. Then I know. Given everyone is a great singer, great songwriter, and great instrumentalist, the next thing is the X factor, which does exist in ALL businesses.
You have worked with a lot of very young artists in your career. It can be argued that having a career as a musician/performer at a young age is not the best way for a child/teen to grow up. How do you feel about this opinion?
I completely disagree. Keep in mind, my advice to start young does not necessarily mean to break young. But anyone who believes a gymnast should not start young, or a dancer, or baseball player, or a singer, has not been educated in the trending of body movement or throat muscles. The younger you start, the more automated you become which allows you to work on more intricate skills that give you that 1% factor or the X factor. Anyone that questions this theory needs to read “The Talent Code”. Some younger artists would simply rather perform than play in a sandbox, while others need the physical day-to-day interaction with friends. My observation is that most successful musicians had a not-so-hot childhood because they didn’t want the day-to-day interaction with others and were made fun of because of this desire, which strays from the “norm”.
What advice do you have for aspiring stars and musicians who are trying to break out in the industry?
What a question to ask a voice coach and talent finder! Training is the ONLY way. For one, you SEE your competition every day. We have over 300 singers and you can tell who is working the hardest! Train until you are like no other, stand out as no one else can, work harder than anyone else, and grow skin thicker than anyone else so that failure is a catalyst, not a death sentence to your future.