SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Victory Dance ‘Memphis’ Music Video Review & Exclusive Interview

The newest storm to land on the SMC Spotlight is being touted by us to the world as a turbulent catapulting meteoroid direct from New York City – they are known as Victory Dance. The five-member band comprised of Kenny Collette (vocals/guitar), Bobby Kay (bass/vocals), Jason Krebs (keyboards/vocals), Chris Tsaganeas (drums), Are Jay Helton (guitar), come from separate established career backgrounds and have now combined forces to make up the resounding boom sound you hear today. Their past credentials have earned them major label deals with Universal Republic Records, sharing the stage with prestigious bands like The Roots, and a string of Vans Warped Tour dates. Indeed, this is a band that we predict going the whole distance with their music career and we are thrilled to bring them to our prestigious SMC Spotlight platform. Their sound is completely addicting complete with a stage presence that commands immediate attention – it will knock the socks off anyone watching. Legit.

Only days ago, the band released their new video ‘Memphis’ (see video below) off their album The Spectrum and it’s a true reflection of the combustible energy-type sound we feel these boys are capable of bringing to a packed stadium during the Super Bowl. Upon first listen, you’ll understand exactly what I mean. The vocals remind me of a mix between Owl City and Imagine Dragons and when combined with melodies that are upbeat, thunderous, and impactful, it becomes the audible magic that makes this dynamic band come alive.

In addition to the sound, the Memphis music video reflects the well-crafted vision in the creative minds of these exceptionally talented artists. Filmed primarily in a spacious stark-white warehouse in Keyport, New Jersey and various areas throughout Brooklyn and Jersey City, it offers a glimpse into the kind of intense energy these boys create together during live performances. In addition to the band’s accomplishments, I was happy to learn that personal pursuits outside the band are of environmental and mental health nature. In light of the recent passing of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, Kenny Collette has been actively engaging in public speaking events for suicide and mental health awareness. With our own involvement with Morgan’s Mission, an organization formed around this very subject, we have much respect for Collette’s passion on this subject.

If SMC is the first place you are hearing Victory Dance, just remember you heard them here first. We have been consistently showcasing high caliber talent on our Spotlight for the last 2 years since its inception and having Victory Dance on our platform supports this statement. We look forward to also following this bands’ career journey through our rapidly growing SMC Spotlight series, a signature that SMC readers have come to expect when we begin showcasing exceptional bands like Victory Dance.

Be sure to subscribe to the bands’ socials below and subscribe to our SMC Spotlight to stay informed on when we will be showcasing the band again!

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Victory Dance
Photo courtesy: Victory Dance

SMC Spotlight Exclusiv Interview | Victory Dance | August 2017

SMC – Hello gentlemen! We are thrilled to have you on our Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Spotlight! Since this is our first time profiling you on our site, can you tell us a few things about yourselves in relation to your music background?

Bobby:  We get around! Chris and I go the furthest back. We played in a heavy alternative band in high school. We crossed paths with Kenny on the NJ band circuit while he was in some progressive, post-hardcore bands that saw some bigger tours. Chris later joined a country band that Jay was in, and they eventually started a pop band they brought me into. That saw some major label success, until we disbanded and the 3 of us started Victory Dance. We were linked back up with Kenny through a mutual friend. Then Are Jay had been around the Nashville music scene since he’s from Tennessee, and he moved up to New York to start fresh. We connected through social media and the band took form.

SMC – Today, your single ‘Memphis’ has launched – can you tell us which platforms fans can find it on?

Bobby: Spotify, itunes, SoundCloud, BandCamp, and YouTube.

SMC – I was blown away by your sound! I also loved the teasers you gave leading up until the release of ‘Memphis’. Can you tell us what is most important to convey in your branding?

Bobby: Thanks! The thing about the Memphis video is the plot is pretty subtle. We wanted the promo of it to expand on the plot. I always liked how 30 Seconds to Mars uses video as an extension of a song or record. There’s a twist at the end of the music video, and all the teasers allude to that. We’re also a sucker for theatrics so it was fun to build some suspense.

SMC – Where was your video for Memphis filmed? (actual location)

Bobby: The bulk of it was filmed at a warehouse in Keyport NJ. Then some other shots at apartments in Brooklyn and Jersey City.

SMC – Who was the creative team behind the video creation?

Bobby: You’re looking at it. We developed the concept and I directed the video. We worked with a good friend and really talented DP, Anthony from ANS Studios in Dumont, NJ.

SMC – Can you tell us what you have been doing career-wise from your last release to the new music released today?

Bobby: We’ve been working with a producer, Oliver Straus at Mission Sound in Brooklyn, on some music that we’re really excited about. We’ve also been making some changes to our live show to kick it up another notch.

SMC – I read in your (website) bio that you all possess a ‘give no shits’ attitude…can you embellish where that is applied?

Kenny: Ha ha. Yes, the “give no shits” attitude has to do with where we derive our musical influences, and apply them to our sound and live show. We all come from a very diverse background in music and sometimes applying that to your music can either result in a cluster fuck or in beautiful chaos. I think we’ve managed to implement all of that into our sound and live setting without being too critical on if we are “over doing it” or blending everything together perfectly.

Bobby: I just think we were giving away far too many shits in prior projects and we all felt it was time to keep our shits for ourselves.

SMC – I have seen that there has been much success for each of you individually prior to becoming Victory Dance. Can you tell us which experiences are most memorable for you and why?

Bobby: How much time do you have? There are a ton of war stories, but the first one that comes to mind for me is from a prior band Chris, Jay, and I were in. We played a festival in Philly with The Roots, and then they invited us to join them down in Birmingham, Alabama for an outdoor festival. We take the stage in 100+ degrees and like 7,000% humidity. Jay’s laptop wouldn’t work because of the heat, the sound guy blew our monitors on stage so we couldn’t hear anything, and the air was so thick we couldn’t breathe by the second song. But we were in front of a few thousand people and we did our thing. It was a real lesson in work ethic and definitely a standout moment.

Kenny:  Yes. In between touring/writing for Victory Dance I set out to release a solo record that tackled mental health issues, a subject in which I’m very passionate about. To my surprise an interview I did with Florida State University was picked up by USA Today and featured on their site. That was a memorable moment for me…

SMC – I saw in your One sheet that there is a fall tour scheduled….do you have any dates lined up yet?

Bobby: We could tell you but then we’d have to…you know. Follow us to stay tuned.

SMC – Will there be an album release in 2017?

Bobby – There won’t be a full album release, but we’re really excited to release a few singles through the rest of the year. No two are similar and we’re psyched for everyone to hear.

SMC – What do you think defines being truly successful in the music industry today?

Bobby: I think holding people’s attention is a measure of success in any industry today. In music, artists that keep fans engaged and interested for the long term are the successes.

Kenny: I think everyone’s definition of success is measured differently. For me success in the music industry is having my music heard, recognized and used as a therapeutic outlet for someone who may not have the ability to communicate their emotions to a doctor, but is able to allow my words and our music guide them through their life journeys. If I can have some monetary success out of being a musician as well…great. If not, it’s not the end of the world. If you have to remind yourself why you’re making music to begin with every single time then in my opinion you’re doing this all wrong.

SMC – You have been compared to Imagine Dragons and Jack White, yet I hear ‘Owl City’ – have you ever been told that before?

Kenny: Yes, I’ve heard Owl City mentioned a couple times, more recently though.

Bobby: Yea, we’ve been compared to some artists that are so vastly different it’s almost unsettling. Our EP the Spectrum was named that because it covered a wide range of sounds and human emotions. We have our faults, but no one has ever accused us of being a band where every song sounds the same.

SMC – What would you say is your signature style?

Bobby: It’s tough to come up with a definition of our style/sound. We’re best known for having a high energy show that’s more than just a list of our songs. You’ll have to come see for yourself!

SMC – Who does all the song-writing for your music?

Bobby: It’s a full band effort. Most of the lyrics come from Kenny, and the music often arranged by Jay and myself, but the entire band gets their hands dirty on every song.

SMC – What is the song-writing process like – which instruments do you create on?

Bobby: We have a pretty modern writing style in that we trade a lot of ideas through the computer. It’s a game of telephone a lot of the time where you send an idea out and it comes back completely different. It’s a fun unpredictable way of writing collaboratively.

SMC – What has been the greatest hurdle in getting ‘Victory Dance’ kickstarted?

Bobby: The man holding us down! Just kidding. The music industry landscape is always changing now, so navigating it is more complicated than ever. Luckily now we’ve aligned with the right team who have more foresight for that than we do. We’re lucky.

SMC – What has been your greatest triumph so far?

Bobby: One time at a show Kenny and I stopped everything and had a yoga competition to see who could hold a crow pose longer. I won…

SMC – What plans do you have for creative projects in the near future aside from music making?

Bobby: We’re getting tour dates locked down. We have videos coming along with our next few singles and so we’re developing those ideas and getting production rolling while we continue to write.

SMC – Are you involved in any charities or are there any causes that are close to your heart?

Kenny: I’m very passionate about suicide prevention and awareness. When I’m not with Victory Dance I’m usually participating in speaking events for mental health awareness. And Chris is also active with To Write Love on Her Arms which is a charity working on the same issues. And he’s also one of those dudes growing an awkward ‘stache for Movemeber, which is a focus on men’s health and prostate cancer.

Bobby: I’m largely focused on environmental issues. Any downtime from the band I’m working on sustainability efforts.

SMC – What is a deal breaker in terms of what you aren’t willing to do when it comes to the success of your career?

Bobby: We’d never kill a unicorn.

SMC – Ha Ha! Fair comment! What are your thoughts on the recent passing of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington? What do you think is the most important thing a Musician can do to gain balance in their lifestyle?

Bobby: We’ve lost so many beloved artists in the last year or so. These two were the biggest impact on me, and I think I can say for most of us in the band. Everyone’s situation is different and I don’t think there’s a blanket answer to finding balance. We hope that from the horror of these losses comes some awareness to the issue of suicide.

Kenny: Unfortunately, being in the music industry can be very brutal and impactful to one’s psyche. I think in order to sustain a healthy mental state, musicians need to prioritize allowing themselves to be with family more, and give themselves the opportunity to have personal time. The music industry sets standards that make it hard for an artist to have that work/life balance, and it really can affect the artist drastically as we’ve seen and are continuing to see. Music will always be here. Creativity will never die. Let’s take this one step at a time, stop going 100 miles/hr and getting lost in this vicious cycle.

SMC – What is a fond memory that sticks out in your mind that was the ‘AH HA’ moment when you knew you were destined for a career in music?

Bobby: I think there are ongoing moments that reinforce your passion. I’ve always liked provocative art. My first album I bought myself was ‘Doggystyle’. That exposed me to a world I didn’t know. Nirvana taught me how to lose inhibition. I saw Muse live and was simultaneously inspired and humbled.  And then there are the moments on stage where you connect with people. All these things keep us going. Plus, AI is going to rapidly put everyone out of jobs and for the first time in history music might actually be the safe career!

SMC – Which Social Media platform is your favorite?

Bobby: Instagram. Pretty sure that goes for all of us.

SMC – What is the most daring or badass move you’ve ever made in terms of your career?

Bobby: Hmm. Chris slept with a leprechaun. I’m not sure if it helped our career at all in the long run though.

Kenny: Joining Victory Dance after being known for being in post-hardcore bands ha-ha

SMC – Can you tell us about a memorable fan experience?

Bobby: We met a girl in Baltimore who fell in love with the band. She was so upset our next tour didn’t have a Baltimore date that she threw a party, booked the venue and had us come play the party on our off day.

SMC – Where are most of your fans located?

Bobby: We’re homegrown. We’re picked up many fans/friends along the way but the bulk is in NJ/NY.

SMC – Which country has been most supportive of your music?

Bobby: We’ve got some love out of Belgium I think, but US for sure.

SMC – Who would you like to ‘shout out’ or thank for being supportive of your careers?

Bobby: Thanks to everyone who’s been open to a band they hadn’t heard yet. Thanks to our families for support. Thanks to our Manager Stephanie Rachel for her unparalleled hustle. And thanks to SMC for your support!

SMC – How about family? Have you all gotten a lot of family support?

Bobby: Absolutely. A career in music is challenging for a family, but we have great ones who make that easier.

SMC – Okay, final question: Can you tell us what career you would have all chosen if it weren’t a career in music?

Kenny: I would’ve gone into the veterinary industry. I love animals and that line of work.

Bobby: Well, Chris is a legit attorney. So, we are not a band to mess with! Jay has a degree in music composition and still writes for commercials so that’s an easy one. I’d probably be hanging with Elon Musk working on some bad ass tech to save the world. AreJay’s been in school for film so maybe he’d be a director, or maybe a spokesman for hair products.  

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Victory Dance Photo Courtesy: Victory Dance

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SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Sammy Brue ‘I Am Nice’ Exclusive Interview & Album Review

By Candice Anne Marshall

If I had to capture the kind of magic in a bottle that would equate to Ogden, Utah-based Singer/Songwriter Sammy Brue, it would go something like this: you can’t. There is only one Sammy Brue and the kind of magic he creates stirs the deepest of human emotions through intrinsically written lyrics and harmonies that you will never hear anywhere else. Even his very persona has a calm, casual presence offstage but turns into a guitar shredding flurry on stage completely unaware of the alluring effect he has on his audience. In that moment, it’s just the maestro and his guitar: all this – within minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I have carefully observed Brue on social media and he is extremely interactive with his fans, gracious with media, and completely down to earth even when performing alongside his idol Justin Townes Earle (son of music legend Steve Earle). In fact, I am confident that it is this very persona combined with exceptional talent that impressed Earle when Brue asked to ‘play a few songs for him’ at one of his shows. ‘We stayed in touch ever since,’ he said to me in a recent discussion. It’s things like this which lead to Brue win a recording deal with New West Entertainment, home of such Americana icons as Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle and John Hiatt.

This doesn’t surprise me, Earle being an exceptional Musician himself, would want to enlist exceptional talent for his ‘Kids In The Street’ tour. Brue has left enough of an impression on me that I am confident in saying: there will never be another like him. In fact, I am 100% confident he will go the full nine yards with his music career and I honestly don’t see that taking long either. He has already laid some serious touring tracks with Earle and has also appeared on his album ‘Single Mothers Absent Fathers‘. His penchant for bringing back a true ‘Americana’ sound through his music and live performances complete with his unique look sire true showmanship that is impossible to replicate.

I review and meet many people in the music industry but the last time I can recall ever spending more than three days researching an indie band or Artist this in-depth was Palaye Royale. My standards are high – It’s rare that I will spend more than a day researching a subject before their interview. However, with the kind of impression this young Artist has left already in the relatively short term of his career, it would be a disservice not to.

On June 16th, 2017, Brue released his debut album ‘I Am Nice’, a 12-track assortment of beautifully crafted songs that are guaranteed to blaze the trail for his future in the industry. The harmonies throughout are smooth – bringing me back to a time when the likes of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, and Elvis were blazing their own trails bringing the house down on the Ed Sullivan show and the Grand Ole Opry. The beats and guitar rhythms are unforgettable but it is truly Brue’s voice that is the unique element here – just when you think the first few beats of each song can’t get any better, enter the bewitching vocals of Sammy Brue. Yeah, that’s the kind of magic I am talking about.

Sammy Brue isn’t just a Musician, he’s an out of this world experience.

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Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

Exclusive Interview | Sammy Brue | July 2017

SMC – Hello Sammy and welcome to the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Spotlight! I have had a chance to research your background and I see so many impressive accomplishments in a relatively short period of time. Let’s begin with your most recent: touring with Justin Townes Earle – what was that experience like for you?

Sammy – Touring with Justin has been something I wanted to do for a long time. He has been a huge influence in my music and a constant support, so have this be my first tour was an honor.

SMC – Can you tell us what one of your best memories was while touring with Justin?

Sammy – Justin plays a lot bigger venue than I’m used to. So, I think being able to play those stages made a big impact on me. Also watching Justin handle his business was great. Learned a lot from him.

SMC – The connection with fellow artist Justin Townes Earle came after you played for him at one of his shows, correct? Can you tell us which songs you played for him and what his reaction/advice was to you after that?

Sammy – I remember him being pretty enthusiastic the first time I played him one of my songs. I think he was just stoked I was writing instead of doing covers like every other teenager on YouTube, but he also doesn’t hold back when he thinks I’m going in the wrong direction. I’m not sure what the first song I played for him was, but it was probably about Woody Guthrie.

SMC – Listening to your music is a genuinely moving experience – your songs are authentic and well written. Do you do all the writing of your music?

Sammy – Yeah, so far, I have had limited co-writing experience. My writing style is so abstract that writing with someone else is tricky. I do have some writing sessions in LA coming up so I hope I can pull it together.

SMC – Can you tell us how you can about the ‘theme’ of your album? Did the ‘theme’ come first or was it the songwriting that lead to the theme?

Sammy – I’m not sure there is a particular “theme” to the album other than I wanted it to sound like it was recorded in Muscle Shoals. It feels like we got that. We were choosing from about 25 songs that could go together. In the end, I wanted to have a mix of songs that weren’t all the same and showed a bit of diversity.

SMC – I found it really interesting to read in your bio that you gravitated to an acoustic guitar more than the electric guitar your father gifted to you. Can you tell us what you feel the acoustic has brought to your songwriting more than the electric guitar did?

Sammy – First, I’m not an acoustic snob. I love the electric and the legends that play them. There are about 5 different ones hanging in my studio that I use to write with. That being said, the acoustic guitar feels more honest to me. I can’t get away with as much on an acoustic so I have to really work hard for it. The sound it gives takes me to a different place artistically too. The hollow notes that won’t sustain make you work more.

SMC – I saw that you recently lopped off your locks for charity and you plan on continuing to do this. That’s very impressive – I have a true appreciation for people who aren’t afraid to change their personal image for the sake of humanity. Can you tell us which charity this was for and why it is dear to your heart?

Sammy – I donated my hair to Locks of Love through my mom’s salon she works at. They treat the hair and send it off to people free of charge when they donate. I just wanted to do something for someone else. I see a lot of people around that are going through chemotherapy and I just felt like as a human, I should do this. My grandmother Mary died of cancer long before I was around and it would have been cool if I could have done it for her, but I can’t. I did write the song “Once a Lover” for her though.

Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

SMC –  Let’s go back to your songs – they are very relationship based. Have you ever been told that you write from the perspective of someone, say, 20 or 30 years older than you? I am blown away!

Sammy – I’m influenced by the lives of the people around me. I really didn’t hang out with kids my age until just a little while ago, so most of the time I was around people 20 or 30 years older than me. Their stories are fascinating too. They’ve seen way more pain and struggles than I have. Reading about people like Woody or Leadbelly living in their time seems more interesting than 2017 where we contemplate what movie to go see, or where should we eat tonight. Watching someone go through a divorce or losing their job and home has more emotion to it.

SMC – I saw your live performance/Vlog on your YouTube channel for your performance at the Red Butte Garden Show. You seem to immerse yourself completely when you are performing live. Can you tell us what exactly you are feeling when you are performing live? You seem to be in a little bubble all your own and it’s rather impressive to see this!

Sammy – You have one shot to get through to a crowd when you play your songs. They feel if you are scared or don’t want to be there. This means you have to let it all out and get to your soul in your songs if you want them to feel it. I write these songs and they mean a lot to me so they deserve my best. It also hurts more when you put it out there and it’s rejected too. If I see people just talking or on their phones I feel like I didn’t do my job and I let those people and the song down. That’s the hard part. I know if I’m present or not during a performance and I’m my harshest critic. So, I try.

SMC – I am guessing that you are not shy about getting out in public and performing but which do you prefer more: recording and songwriting or being out on the road?

Sammy – It depends. Recording with incredible musicians and producers in Muscle Shoals is going to be tough to beat, but the right venue with the right crowd, it just becomes a spiritual experience. When you can feel their eyes on you and the only other thing is maybe the clink of glasses from the bar, and everyone is present, that touches my soul.

SMC – How did you win your recording deal with New West? I saw this in your bio and wondered if this was a contest thing or if it was a word of mouth thing….

Sammy – I don’t think “win” is the word I would use. I earned it by sacrificing everything to chase a dream. I had a goal written down for several years that I wanted a record deal before I turned 15 and was dedicated to it. I wrote the best songs I could and when I had the opportunity to play those songs, I didn’t waste it.

 

SMC – Which song off your new album ‘I Am Nice’ is your personal favorite and why?

Sammy – I don’t know that I have a favorite. I always gravitate to “Once a Lover” because it’s personal to me. It was for my grandmother. Going to be tough to beat that.

SMC – What comes easiest to you: the words or the melodies?

Sammy – Depends on the day and depends on the song.

SMC – Can you tell us what success means to you personally?

Sammy – Not really. I know that I’ve had success than a lot of artists in this business already, but I’m not ready to stop pushing for more ground. I get to make music and play all over the place for money. That’s a cool thing and sounds a lot like success.

SMC – What is a deal-breaker for you professionally?

Sammy – Making souls music just for profit. I want to make what feels like something to me. It has to move me in some way or another.

SMC – What brand of guitar is your go-to when songwriting?

Sammy – I’ve been playing guitars made by The Loar for years and have a nice collection now. The company has been so supportive for a long time and I love their instruments. I have a couple of Fender electrics too, but when I signed my record deal I went and bought a vintage Martin 00-18 that fits me like a glove. It just depends on the mood I’m in really.

SMC – What will you not part with and why?

Sammy – My very first Load guitar. I carried that thing around everywhere when I was starting out and had everyone I loved sign it. It hangs in the studio now so I don’t rub the signatures off. Justin was the first person I had sign it.

SMC – How do you feel you have evolved personally from your previous recordings to your latest?

Sammy – I’m more open to criticism about my songs and listening to other people’s ideas on how to improve them. Especially when it comes from some of the artists I’ve been able to work with.

SMC – What ‘sound’ do you gravitate to personally?

Sammy – Is Etta James a sound? Because that captivates me.

SMC – I saw that you grew up listening to the greats (I did too!) – What do you feel you have extracted from each in terms of cultivating your own sound?

Sammy – It’s authentic. Everything starts there and leads you to areas of possibilities. I was looking for Leadbelly videos and found Kurt Cobain. That’s why I start there.

Sammy Brue
Photo courtesy: Management | Sammy Brue

SMC – Can you tell us what your family’s thoughts are on your music career and how they have supported you along the way? Tell us about a memory that stands out for you….

Sammy – My dad is the one that taught me how to work hard and strategize a plan when it comes to music. He has done everything in his power to help me reach those goals too. He believes in me more than anyone and picks me up when I need it. My sisters and mom have sacrificed so much to help too. At one point, we sold our house and moved to Nashville to make this happen. Everyone believes in me and I can never repay them.

SMC – In terms of your peers/friends – I have read that you are a still a typical ‘teenager’ and enjoy things like video games and skateboarding. Have you been able to remain grounded and personable with your peers while still killing it in the career aspect of your life?

Sammy – I think one feeds the other. The more time with friends, the more life experience I get. The more success in music, the more fun me and my friends have. It’s a good balance.

SMC – What impresses you in the music industry?

Sammy – Artists that grind. When I see an Artist who has great songs and just can’t catch a break, but they keep going I love it. A lot of them don’t have a team of people helping out so they do their own booking and are their own manager. Those guys blow me away because of their love of it and dedication.

SMC – You were born in Oregon but now live in Utah – Where do you feel the music scene is strongest?

Sammy – Portland Oregon has had a great music scene for a long time now. Some of my favorite acts like Portugal The Man and The Shins live up there so I absolutely love it there. Utah just hasn’t had the light shining down on them like that. I’m pretty sure that will change pretty soon though. Too many good acts just in my home town of Ogden for it to stay hidden.

SMC – Can you tell us what the next 3-6 months look like for you in terms of your music and tour?

Sammy – Not really. I don’t get too involved in that. I just wait for them to tell me where we go next. I’m sure it will have a lot of writing and playing songs. I know I have Americana Fest coming up and a week in LA doing some co-writing too.

SMC – Are you already working on more music?

Sammy – I’m always working on new music. I think I have about 30 some songs to choose from for my next album already. There’s a lot of half written songs too. I can’t not write when I’m home or have time off.

SMC – How long did it take you to write ‘I Am Nice’?

Sammy – Well the first 2 songs that came out as single are “I’m Not Your Man” and “I Know” one of them was the second song I ever wrote and the other I wrote 2 weeks before we went in the studio.

SMC – You have a vast range of sounds on this album – in terms of a genre, which do you gravitate more to?

Sammy – It depends on the day. Sometimes I write something like “I Never Said” and then that afternoon I’ll be writing something like “Covered in Blood”. I don’t think I gravitate one way or the other. I did them both.

SMC – Who would you call your ‘go-to team’ in terms of production?

Sammy – I’ve only been produced by John Paul White (The Civil Wars) and Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes) so for now, they are my go-to guys. I can’t thank them enough.

SMC – Who is your go-to team for the creation of your videos?

Sammy – I’m always looking for creative video people.

SMC – Have you received radio play? Which stations would you like to give a shout-out to?

Sammy – I know that some of my songs are getting radio play, but I don’t know which ones or where unfortunately. Here in UT our local station KRCL has been spinning me so I thank them with all my heart.

SMC – We have many influential industry peers watching our site and sourcing out new Artists all the time. We have seen some seriously talented Artists receive radio play globally as a result of being discovered on our platform. Who can these peers reach out to for radio play?

Sammy – New West Records has done a great job with this. They handle all of that.

SMC – We would like to begin an SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series on you as we have with many of the Artists that we work with. This means we will chronologically follow along with your career in a documented series of interviews. Are you open to this?

Sammy – Sure. If you don’t get bored of me.

SMC – Okay, last question: Can you tell us where your focus is in terms of your career in the next year?

Sammy – I’m just going to tour this album and hope it does good enough to get me back to the studio for a follow-up. Thanks for the interview.

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SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Stephen David Brooks ‘Flytrap’ Director & Writer Exclusive Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

There’s a new King in town and he is known as Los Angeles-based Writer/Director/Special FX mastermind Stephen David Brooks. I mean this quite literally. After watching the 2-hour sci-for thriller ‘Flytrap‘, a film that was well received on the film festival circuit, I am convinced that Brooks is the next creative film genius of our time. I spoke at length with Brooks a few days ago about some of his upcoming projects, his views on the film industry and his time working with horror book Novelist Stephen King. This is truly one of the most unique individuals I have met thus far, and it is apparent in this most recent film – its script is inventive, dynamic in visuals, and strong in composition. It comes as no surprise to me either that King elected Brooks to be the screenplay writer for his film adaptation of the book ‘The Mangler’. This earned him a place on King’s short list of “King Approved” Screenwriters.

‘Flytrap’ is full of humorous, chilling, and edge-of-your-seat dramatic performances delivered by Jeremy Crutchley, Ina-Alice Kopp, complete with epic creepiness by ‘whistle blowing’ Jonah Blechman. Overall musical score is by Simon Boswell with dance sequence and end titles by The Tearaways which add a unique balance between paranoia (the synopsis) and normalcy. The film is directed by Brooks and produced by Tamara Sayiner (Ellen Degeneres Show) and is a true reflection of this sophisticated and audacious film prodigy. I can not even compare him to any other because there absolutely is no comparison – Brooks walks to the beat of his own unique drum and it is this that will make his films a truly memorable work of art.

You can catch the thriller on most major media platforms since it has already circulated the Film Festival scene throughout 2016 earning Brooks several prestigious awards. Stephens films have screened & won audience & Jury awards at: ECU The European Independent Film Festival, The Chelsea Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, Dances With Films, The Monaco Independent Film Festival, The Idyllwild Festival of Cinema, Ramsgate International Film & Television Festival, Festival du Film de Strasbourg, and The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

In speaking about future projects, the idea of SMC being involved in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ editorial came up and Brooks was all for it, ‘Do that for my next film, sounds fantastic!’ We look forward to continuing our journey by documenting his career through our SMC Spotlight series and we begin with our exclusive interview today.

Enjoy this Director’s reel below and ‘Flytrap’ preview, sit back, grab a coffee and enjoy. We guarantee this IS the beginnings of a genius at work!

By Candice Anne Marshall

SMC – Hello Stephen! Welcome to the SMC Spotlight! We were thrilled when our friend Mr. Mike Rogers connected us. This interview has been a long time coming and we are so excited to dig into the questions here. First, can you tell us what your connection is to Mike?

Stephen – Happy to be here. I met Mike through John Ferriter. Mike was playing some Tearaways songs on his Japanese radio show and had questions about film festival strategies and sales for his film Ghost Roads. So, John turned him on to me. 

SMC – Mike also informed me that you are a multi-award winner at some of the most prestigious film festivals! Can you tell us which was most memorable for you and why?

Stephen – I have four festivals that stand out, each with a unique set of wonderful memories. ECU The European Independent Film Festival in Paris, The Chelsea Film Festival in the heart of New York City, the F.A.S.H. festival in Los Angeles, and the charming Ramsgate International Film and Television Festival in Ramsgate UK. ECU screened my first feature HEADS N TAILZ so I have a special place in my heart for festival founder Scott Hillier and everyone there. That’s why I chose ECU to be the site for the World Premiere of my second feature film FLYTRAP. The people running it are top notch film lovers and are very supportive of independent filmmakers. Plus, the festival is in Paris in early April. Nice time to be in Paris!

SMC – Your credentials as a Director/Writer are astounding. I have read that you have also worked with Horror Novelist Stephen King – can you tell us how that came about?

Stephen – That was my first professional writing job. I was hired to adapt Stephen King’s short story THE MANGLER. And Stephen King had script approval. So…no pressure.

I had supervised Visual Effects for director Tobe Hooper. He and I had a great working relationship so when he and his producers obtained the rights to Stephen King’s short story he called me to see if I’d like to pitch him my take on the adaptation. Tobe loved my pitch and called Stephen King. Next morning, I get a call from Tobe informing me Stephen King loved the pitch as well. So, I was hired to write the first draft. Six months and 44 drafts later we were in Johannesburg South Africa shooting. I went along as the Screenwriter/2nd Unit Director/Visual Effects Supervisor.

Brooks (right) on the set of Stephen King’s ‘The Mangler’ with Ted Levine (left, Silence of the Lambs)
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC -What was your experience working with King like? Can you tell us of one that is most memorable?

Stephen – It was actually a dream working with him. He understands the psychological aspects of horror better than anyone. We went back and forth on dozens of drafts of the script until he gave it his stamp of approval. He’s a perfectionist but one who knows exactly what he wants. Brilliant mind.

The most memorable moment happened when Stephen King screened the film. The short story is 5 pages long so I had to add a lot of detail that needed to be Stephen Kingesque but wasn’t actually in the original work. As he was watching the film he kept asking “Was that me?” and oftentimes Tobe would say “No man. That was Brooks.” No higher complement than that. Stephen King couldn’t tell what I wrote from what he wrote.

SMC – You then went on to seek your own adventures in Directing and writing – can you tell us what kinds of themes and stories you gravitate toward most?

Stephen – I gravitate towards characters who are out of their depth, in a situation they couldn’t have imagined and when we first meet them, have no idea how to extricate themselves.  Then again, I think that’s the basis of all drama. That sense of being out of our depth and unsure how to proceed to make things right. We’re all imperfect creatures and exploring that imperfection through drama is how we discover who we are as human beings.

SMC – As a writer myself, I know that we writers are a very eclectic group and our imaginations are pretty intense at times – tell me, are you also an insomniac too? Most of us are…. if so, what keeps you up?

Stephen – I have never had insomnia. I can sleep anywhere. On a plane. On a train. In a moving car. And some of my best ideas have come to me in dreams.

SMC – You and I have tried so often to connect by phone to no avail – our schedules are intense! Can you tell us what project you are working on at present?

Stephen – Well I’m quite superstitious about announcing anything too soon. Waiting for all the pieces to be forced into place. Let’s just say one film is intended to be an iconic holiday classic, like LOVE, ACTUALLY and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. This film has a heart. A big heart. Another film will bring a beloved character back to the big screen. And another is the beginning of a Young Adult mega franchise…When I can say more I’ll let you know.

SMC – Before we get into discussion on your film ‘Flytrap’, can you tell us what it’s really like being among some of the world’s greatest screenwriters in Hollywood? Have you collaborated with any?

Stephen – I know some of those writing greats but have not collaborated with any of them. We screenwriters tend to be solo creatures.

SMC – Your bio on your website says that you have been ‘mentored by Oscar winners John Dykstra & Richard Edlund’ (Star Wars) – can you tell us what that experience was like and what the most important thing you absorbed in your experience being mentored by them?

Stephen – John Dykstra taught me to always have a backup plan for any specific shot or scene. He was so right! Things oftentimes go wrong during the intensity of production and having a ready backup plan has saved the day more than once.

Richard really taught me how to view dailies with a critical eye. That man sees absolutely everything. It’s astounding.

I also had a third mentor in my Visual Effects days…Harrison Ellenshaw. Harrison taught me another valuable lesson…one I have dubbed “The Harrison Ellenshaw Rule.” That is…everything will change. Go with the flow. Filmmaking is as much about reading the tea leaves as it is turning adversity into an advantage.

And in the end. IT. WILL. ALL. CHANGE. Sage advice.

SMC – What, in your opinion, makes a film ‘great’?

Stephen – For me it all comes from the characters. Do they have identifiable problems? Do they deal with those problems in a realistic way? Are the characters driving the story? Are there some larger more universal thematic issues being explored? Is the film well executed? If the answer to all those is “yes” then you probably have a great film. Ultimately, it’s the test of time. If we’re still watching a film 50 years later. It must be great.

Brooks speaking at the European Independent Film Festival
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – I see you have also shot music videos as well. Can you tell us which projects you have worked on past or present that are most memorable and why?

Stephen – Back in my Visual Effects days I worked on an Ozzie Osbourne video. “No More Tears.” That was a blast. Ozzie, what a character.

I directed a couple of videos for The Tearaways: ”Bash” and “Hello Isla Vista.” I loved capturing the exuberance of The Tearaways sound.

I’m now working with Rochelle Vincente Von K on a new video for her song “Deal Me In.” Rochelle is an Austrian Australian recording artist from London now based in LA. Very exciting stuff. We’re exploring an amplified cinematic visual style not usually seen in music videos.

SMC – What do you think makes your art stand out among the rest in your field?

Stephen – I’m just true to my point of view. I trust my gut. I have a very specific idea how the universe works and I use that as my guiding light when creating.

I don’t over think what I’m doing. Rather I feel my way through it. When I’m writing I can feel when a situation, or line of dialog is right. When directing Actors, I can feel when a moment is right. All I can say is…Everything I do is very “me” as those who know me well can attest. My sensibility. My sense of humor. My sense of irony.

SMC – Let’s get into your film ‘Flytrap’ – I watched the trailer on your website – wow! It’s intense! Can you tell us where you conceived the storyline for this film?

Stephen – FLYTRAP came to me like all my ideas…BOOM. There it is. A complete concept just pops into my brain. There’s no method to it. The initial idea is pure inspiration. Then I have to craft the idea into a story and a script. That’s where the hard work comes in.

SMC – As for the Actors in your film, can you tell us whose performance most blew you away in terms of final result?

Stephen – I had worked with Jeremy Crutchley before. He was in THE MANGLER. So, I knew he’d be great. Although Ina-Alice Kopp and I knew each other we hadn’t worked together. But having discussed another project at some length I had a good idea what she could do. And she did not disappoint!

Billy ‘Sly’ Williams and I have worked together on three films. He is my Robert DeNiro. So, I knew he’d knock it out of the park.

The big surprise was Jonah Blechman’s portrayal of Gilligan. I had met him once. I thought he seemed perfect for the role but I didn’t really see his genius until the first day of shooting. His look. The creepy whistle thing he did. He absolutely blew me away.

Brooks (left) with Ina Alice Kopp (right) at the ‘Flytrap’ World Premiere
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – Can you tell us where the public can see this film in the film festival circuit?

Stephen – We’re finished playing festivals. FLYTRAP is in wide distribution and can be seen on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Japan, Google Play, iTunes, and Fandango Now. And we recently sold the film to China so it will be available on various platforms there in the very near future.

SMC – Your bio states:

‘Stephen’s films have screened & won audience & Jury awards at: ECU The European Independent Film Festival, The Chelsea Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, Dances With Films, The Monaco Independent Film Festival, The Idyllwild Festival of Cinema, Ramsgate International Film & Television Festival, Festival du Film de Strasbourg, and The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.’

Can you tell us which award ceremony/win stands out to you the most and which film it was for?

Stephen – I hate to pick and choose. Every festival award is a gift and a special moment. But the win at The Chelsea Film Festival was quite memorable. It was the end of the ceremony and they had given out all the awards. FLYTRAP was nominated but didn’t win. Fine you can’t win them all. And as everybody got up to leave the theater the lovely Ingrid Jean-Baptiste, founder of the festival, steps up to the podium and announces there is one more award. And the Special Jury Prize goes to FLYTRAP. I was floored. What a great moment!

SMC – I also noted that there’s some ‘Tearaways’ music included in this film. As you are aware, we recently interviewed John Ferriter for our SMC Spotlight. Can you tell us of your connection to John and what projects you have worked on together?

Stephen – Well that’s no coincidence! I went to high school with Greg Brallier of The Tearaways. So, I see most of their Southern California gigs. I had also seen John Ferriter’s band The Stingrays back in the day. So when John re-joined The Tearaways John and I re-connected.

I needed 3 songs for the dance sequence in FLYTRAP. John said he’d send me the new Tearaways CD’s The Earle Mankey Sessions Volume IV and VII. I got the CD’s at 8 am the next morning. Played them and found two absolutely perfect songs on Volume VII: “Keep Your Knickers On,” “I Love The Blues,” and then on Volume IV I found “The Last Goodbye.” I mean it is as if they were written for the film. They were thematically and rhythmically perfect.

Then I discovered the song “I Love My Life” on the Volume IV CD and realized it is the perfect end titles music. Sometimes when it’s meant to be it just works out. And this was the perfect marriage of film and music.

SMC – What do you feel is the most important thing to be ‘equipped with’ in terms of pitching an idea/concept to potential investors for your art?

Stephen – Passion. Period. Yes, you have to know the structure of a pitch and you have to have a compelling story. But if you don’t go into the pitch absolutely convinced it will be the best film/tv show ever then you’ll get nowhere. And you have at most 30 seconds to make an impression. If you fail in the first thirty you won’t last the next couple of minutes.

SMC – I saw that you shot this film in California in a matter of only 12 days! In my personal opinion, some of the greatest films or projects that I have seen have been produced in a very short time-frame. What are your thoughts on this?

Stephen – There is something to be said for working fast. I think the energy level you create on set having to shoot 10-12 pages a day shows up on the screen. There’s an intensity there that translates.

SMC – Can you tell me who your ‘dream team’ is or who you would like them to be?

Stephen – John Ferriter, Jamie Angelise and Rana Joy Glickman…I’m already working with them!

SMC – What do you want to aspire to?

Stephen – I’d love to make a cinema classic. A CASABLANCA. Or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. A timeless story set against an epic struggle. Intimate and sweeping at the same time. I’ve got a few ideas…

SMC – Which of your other projects are you particularly fond of and why?

Stephen – My first feature HEADS N TAILZ stands out. I mean it was my first! And making a feature is infinitely more complicated than making a short. I’m very proud of that film. It did play festivals and win some awards. And there seems to be renewed interest in it…

I’m also proud of my short BINKY which I shot before FLYTRAP. It stars two of my actors from HEADS N TAILZ: Billy ‘Sly’ Williams and Lucy Jenner (Lucia Ballard). That film also won some awards including a Best Actress accolade for Lucia. BINKY is being distributed by Shorts.TV and can be seen online, via Amazon and iTunes as well as on select cable and satellite channels.

Last year I directed a short called IRIS. I didn’t write or cast the project which is a first for me. But it turned out really nicely. And has already won a Remi at Worldfest Houston. Other film festival screenings are in the future but we can’t announce anything specific just yet.

I recently directed a short called BURN BABY, BURN with the Irish sensation Emma Pyne. The film was an experiment in minimalism. Emma wrote it, produced it, and stars in it. I directed and shot it. No crew. We’ll be screening at a festival in LA this November…stay tuned.

Genius at work – Brooks on the set of his film ‘Headz n Tailz’
Photo Courtesy: Stephen David Brooks

SMC – If you had a chance to do anything in your career over again, what would that be and why?

Stephen – I don’t dwell on the past. I learn from it. Learn from my mistakes then move on. I’m always moving forward. Never looking backward.

SMC – What do you measure success in the film industry by?

Stephen – There are two parts to my answer. First, how your work effects the audience. You can make them feel bad or make them feel good. Make them feel afraid or make them feel loved. I’d rather go for the positive emotional response. Have them walk out of the theater feeling better about themselves and their fellow human beings. That’s success to me on a creative level.

On a professional level, success it’s all about box-office. If you make the industry a lot of money then you will earn the clout to get more projects off the ground. That’s a win/win for me.

And I don’t think the professional and creative definitions of success are mutually exclusive. You can have both.

SMC – What is the greatest compliment you have received to date from an industry peer?

Stephen – “I want to work with people who know what they’re doing. Like you.” Producer Rana Joy Glickman September 17th, 2015

SMC –  Let’s go way back: what was the pivotal point in your youth which lead to or was a result of where you are today in the film industry?

Stephen – When I was very young my parents took me to a re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I had seen films and TV shows before, of course, but that film made me keenly aware that there is a vision behind what is on screen. I started to make movies, read about movies, and think about movies. It became my obsession.

SMC – Where do you think there are difference between the music and film industries? What do you think there are similarities?

Stephen – Both are tough but I think the music business is much harder. Touring is brutal. Much more exhausting than being on location shooting a movie.

Artists in both industries are judged by the amount of money they make for the business interests. In that sense, both are quite similar.

SMC – What is a ‘deal breaker’ for you?

Stephen – That’s an interesting question. Showbiz is a full contact sport. Everyone gets knocked around and kicked to the carpet from time to time. That’s business as usual. For me I’d have to say a personal attack on my team or an attempt to subvert the team would be a possible deal breaker. I’ve been personally attacked but have a heavy-duty Teflon skin. So it doesn’t bother me. But to try to attack or attempt to influence me by attacking a member of my team? That’s way over the line.

We live and die by our working and personal relationships. It’s all about teams and allies. You have to defend them to the bitter end even if it means walking away from a project. There will always be another opportunity. But there will never be another core team. A truly broken relationship can never be repaired.

SMC – What five things impress you (this can be in relation to anything and includes the film industry)?

Stephen- Loyalty. When a person chooses an individual relationship over personal or professional gain…to me that’s golden. And in my experience very, very rare. Relationships are permanent. Or at least they should be. Professional gain is temporary and fleeting. The personal capital of a relationship is worth more than all the gold in the world.

Unfettered intelligence. By that I mean someone who can always view a situation with an open and analytical mind. Think outside the box and find a unique understanding of a problem. Every day something (or many things) will go wrong and it takes an unusually agile mind to keep everything on track.

The ability to say: “I was wrong.” You’d be amazed how many people there are inside and outside of the industry who simply will never admit a mistake. They’ll deflect. Blame others or simply double down on the error. I do say to people when I first start working with them “I don’t care if you make a mistake. We all make mistakes. Just let me know when and what happened and let’s find a solution.” For me the cover up is always worse than the crime.

I am impressed with anyone who can take criticism at face value and not take it personally. There is nothing absolute in the creative world. There are an infinite number of ways to tell a story or define a moment. And all of us, writers, directors, producers, actors, and musicians need to be able to accept a note or a comment and not become defensive about it.

I’m impressed by superstars who stay grounded. Very easy to be a movie star or rock & roll icon and lose yourself and your sense of humanity. Easy to lose themselves in their public persona. I’ve met both those who can and cannot handle stardom. The ones who can are rare gems.

SMC – What is the most positive experience you have had in your career where you felt like it was an ‘Ah Ha’ moment?

Stephen – My first 2nd Unit Directing job on SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION. Usually 2nd Unit is just establishing shots of buildings, car drive-bys, shots that do not involve the principal actors. In the low budget world 2nd Unit also involves finishing scenes when the director has to move on to another location. Or shooting entire scenes when the schedule requires it.

This was my first opportunity to direct professional actors. And my first two actors where Academy Award Nominees…So, again, no pressure! I had to direct Melinda Dillon who was nominated for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and Brad Dourif who was nominated for ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.

First up was Melinda. She played a ghost-like character who came back from the dead. So, there was a supernatural element to the scene. I setup the shot. And we did Take 1. It didn’t work. So, I walk over to Melinda and made a suggestion. I don’t’ remember what I said. I walked back behind camera and did Take 2. It didn’t work either.

I remember the next moments very clearly. As I walked away from camera towards Melinda the world slowed down and I was hit with a horrible realization: This is my moment. I want to be a director and I can’t get a performance out of an Academy Award Nominated actress? What the hell am I going to do…?

Then just as I reached Melinda it hit me like a bolt of the blue. I said, “You’re the wicked witch of the West.” Her eyes lit up. I knew she got it. I hurried back to camera and called action. Take 3 was perfect. “Ah ha” I thought. I can do this…

SMC – We would definitely like to begin a well-documented and chronicled SMC Spotlight Numbered Series on your career journey – what are your thoughts on this?

Stephen – Let’s do it!

SMC – Okay, final question:

Can you tell us what the next 6-12 months look like for you in terms of wrapping up current projects and new ones?

Stephen – FLYTRAP is in the rear-view mirror so all my energy will be projected forward. I’ll be moving one of my film projects from the development to the production stage. I just don’t know which one yet…Such is showbiz…

SMC – Thank you Stephen!

Stephen – Thank you!

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SMC SPOTLIGHT SERIES NO. 2 | MEGHAN PATRICK ‘BE COUNTRY WITH ME’ REVIEW & EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

By Candice Marshall

Canada has a new reigning Country Music Queen and she resides deep in the heart of Nashville. Ontario-born Meghan Patrick is her name and she is proof that Canada can ‘bring it’ to the country music industry in terms of originality, creativity and exceptional talent. The latest video release from her album Grace and Grit, ‘Be Country With Me’(see below), is a deeply romantic return to this songbirds’ roots and intense love for the lush Countryside. No doubt, with lyrics like ‘Baby let’s take a ride, down to the countryside, where crickets sing a lullaby and make it our song and leave behind the city lights’…sung so sweetly and with depth, who would not want to imagine themselves being swept away to the countryside? The lyrics are solid in this one supported by profound, unique vocals that cannot be compared to anyone in Country Music History.

We interviewed Patrick last summer when her album was just about to launch and we predicted then that this was just the beginning of the trail she would blaze in Country Music. Since, she has relocated to Nashville, and just recently completed another album which we anticipate will take this lovely nightingale to superstar status. She was recently asked to perform live with Keith Urban on Canada Day onstage at the Timmins, Ontario “Stars and Thunder” International Fireworks Competition & Music Festival for a duet of his hit single “We Were Us.” (see press release below our interview). We are not surprised in the least: Patrick is unique and incomparable and that is just what will make her remembered in the Country Music hall of fame history right up there with the likes of Shania Twain, Terri Clark, and Beverley Mahood.

Recently, we caught up with Patrick in a phone interview just prior to a show and here’s what she had to say:

Photo Courtesy: Warner Music Canada

SMC Exclusive Interview | Meghan Patrick | July 5th, 2017

SMC – Hi Meghan! Let’s get right into this – Congratulations first of all on your CMAOntario Awards!

Meghan – Thank you!

SMC – I’m looking at a photo of you with all of these (awards) and it looks like you have your hands full! (laughs) What was your reaction?

Meghan – It was pretty overwhelming. I just kept trying to remind myself to just live in the moment and enjoy it.

SMC – I saw your fourth of July post – have you moved to Nashville now?

Meghan – Yes, I’m living here full-time now.

SMC – Good for you!

Meghan – Yeah, it’s great. It’s the place to be for me.

SMC – And you brought your dog of course?

Meghan – Yes of Course! She’s my girl!

SMC – What do you have plans for in the next three to six months now that you are in Nashville?

Meghan – Well right now, my time is pretty occupied. I am really only here during the week because I have a lot of festivals going on. (see tour list below with press release) Most weekends I’m flying in to festivals. When I am here, I’m either sleeping or writing (laughs). I just got out of the studio with my new record so I’m finished recording. We’re working on mixes right now so I have some new music coming soon which I’m very excited about.

SMC – Yeah, that is exciting!

Meghan – Yeah! Other than that, I’m just going to keep writing and playing my festivals this summer.

SMC – Which festivals are you performing in this summer?

Meghan – I will be in Kingston next weekend playing with Rascal Flatts and Aaron Pritchett. There’s a bunch, I don’t know them all off the top of my head but they are on my website www.meghanpatrick.com if anyone wants to find out.

SMC – Wonderful. We will definitely check it out and post it with this interview. I know you have been to Nashville many times, but what is your experience actually living there now?

Meghan – I love that I’m surrounded by creative people, Musicians, just everything…..my life here revolves around music which I love.

SMC – True! Now, you mentioned new music…when can we expect that to be released?

Meghan – We haven’t set a released date as of yet, but I can say that we will have something out (whether it’s the album or a single) by the end of the year.

SMC – ‘Be Country With Me’ is absolutely stunning. I fell in love with it.

Meghan – Thank you so much!

SMC – I can really feel that you put a lot of heart into that song. It brings me to my roots here in Alberta and growing up in the country. What was the premise for it when writing the song?

Meghan – It was the idea of introducing someone who doesn’t really know much about the country or living out there. It’s like kind of introducing them with the thought of ‘This is where I’m from and this is why I love it and if you just give it a chance, you’re going to love it too.’ I think there’s a lot about being out in the country that’s very romantic, so it’s a very romantic song. It just feels good to sing it.

SMC – The video is astounding. Who can you credit to your team for the making of it?

Meghan – The Edde Brothers. We filmed that in Nashville – they produced and directed it. They were great – it was a really fun day.

SMC – Just touching briefly again on your new album – ‘Be Country With Me’ – can we expect a lot of the same kind of tone throughout the new music?

Meghan – Yes. I definitely think that sonically and musically speaking, a lot of the new stuff will be similar to that. You’re going to hear some new sounds and deeper into things…it’s not a huge departure from what I was doing on the first album. I just think I’ve grown a lot as a writer and an Artist. I’m excited to see what people think about it.

SMC – I can see that too. Even from the last time we interviewed which was about a year ago, I can see the evolvement. You’ve definitely gone a ‘step up’. What kind of feedback have you gotten from your peers in terms of that?

Meghan – It’s been great because the songs on the record that I had hoped the audience would love were the ones that the audience really took to. One of the best complements that I have gotten is that ‘there’s nobody out there that sounds like you right now. You’re doing something different and something unique’. That’s been really important to me because I’m always true to myself and to know that other people recognize what I’m doing – that’s great!

Photo Courtesy: Warner Music Canada

SMC – Someone had asked me the other day what you’re like and I said, ‘She’s our new Shania Twain!’

Meghan – I’ll take that! (laughs)

SMC – I am really proud to say that it’s nice to see something new in Nashville from Canada….we are all super proud of you here.

Meghan – Awe thank you, I appreciate that.

SMC – Do we have any duets coming up on the new album?

Meghan – Nothing like that on this album. It didn’t work out that way but I’m sure there will be in the future.

SMC – Speaking of duets…I received a photo of you from your management team of you with Keith Urban. What was that experience like for you (performing live with Keith)?

Meghan – It was amazing. He is a super inspiring and talented Artist. It was a great crowd, it was Canada Day, so…it was awesome!

SMC – So Keith was one of the Artists participating in the Canada 150 event?

Meghan – Yeah – I was the opening Artist with Johnny Reid and Keith Urban. I was asked prior to the event to do a duet with him.

SMC – So who has been the most memorable duet live performance for you?

Meghan – That would be it for me.

SMC – In terms of tour, are you looking at opening for others or headlining?

Meghan – Well, I’d love to be an opening act on some bigger tours but eventually I’d like to headline my own tour.

SMC – Well I honestly see you headlining fairly quickly…

Meghan – Well, thank you.

SMC – Are you looking at touring mainly in the states or will there be some dates up here in Canada too?

Meghan – I’m going to be doing a little bit of both. I’m actually just doing a show in Georgia tonight so I’ll have to get going for that but yes, there is a little bit of both.

SMC – Can you tell us a few things about yourself that no one else really knows?

Meghan – Well I am ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of girl…I can’t really think off the top of my head…I’m pretty open on what I’m about really….

SMC – Well thank you for your time girl, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat!

Meghan – No problem! Thank you!

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Meghan Patrick & Keith Urban at the Timmins “Stars and Thunder” International Fireworks Competition & Music Festival
Photo Courtesy: Warner Music Canada

Warner Music Canada Press Release | July 4th, 2017

July 4, 2017 – Warner Music Recording artist Meghan Patrick celebrated Canada Day by joining country superstar Keith Urban on stage at the Timmins “Stars and Thunder” International Fireworks Competition & Music Festival for a duet of his hit single “We Were Us.”  Meghan was personally invited by Urban to perform Miranda Lambert’s part of the hit song. Earlier in the day, she warmed up the crowd with a string of her own hits. Fans who missed the performance can check out a video shot from the side of the stage (see below).

Of the opportunity to perform with Urban, Meghan Patrick says “It was one of those perfect moments. Keith was so kind and down to earth, and to be able sing such a great song with him in front of 25,000 people on Canada Day as the sun set was about as good as it gets!”

In addition to the big performance in Timmins, Meghan also performed to festival crowds in London and Dauphin this holiday weekend.  She will spend the rest of the summer continuing her run of Canadian festival performances.   Please see below for a full list of tour dates, or keep up with all things Meghan Patrick by following her on TwitterInstagram and Facebook, and YouTube.

Meghan Patrick Tour Dates

July 14, 2017 Craven, SK Country Thunder Music Festival
July 15, 2017 Calgary, AB Nashville North
July 22, 2017 Haldimand, ON Hagersville Rocks Music Festival
August 11 2017 Little Current ON Manitoulin Country Fest
August 19 2017 Havelock On Havelock Country Jamboree
August 20 2017 Toronto On CNE
August 24 2017 Lucknow On Lucknow Country Fest
Photo Courtesy: Warner Music Canada

Meghan Patrick Bio

Born and raised in Bowmanville, Ontario, Meghan Patrick has dedicated her entire life to music, wanting it to be more than just a passion. “I was drawn to playing guitar so I could start writing music to go along with the words I was writing. I wanted to be self-sufficient as a creative artist.”  It wasn’t long until Meghan had mastered both electric and acoustic guitar as well as the banjo.

Prior to setting out as a solo artist, Meghan was the lead singer of the popular roots act The Stone Sparrows. A newgrass/bluegrass band, The Stone Sparrows released an EP and a full-length album before the members parted ways amicably in 2013 after playing their second Boots and Hearts Festival.

Meghan has quickly made a name for herself since signing to Warner Music Canada.  She has recently signed a publishing deal with Olé Nashville.  Her debut album, Grace and Grit is set to be on April 29th.  To make this album, Meghan traveled to a number of studios in Canada and America, including the capital city of country music, Nashville.  On the way, she worked with producers Justin Niebank (Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes), Vince Gill, Chris Baseford (Nickelback, Avril Lavigne) and Carly McKillip.  To add even more star power to her debut Meghan brought in a few more big names, including multiple Grammy nominee Joe Nichols who duets with her on “Still Loving You,” and fellow Canadian Chad Kroeger, who co-wrote and produced her forthcoming debut single “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” along with several other cuts on the album.

In addition to Kroeger, Grace and Grit features an impressive list of co-writers, which includes Rodney Clawson (CMA Songwriter of the Year, ACM Song of the Year and Grammy Nominated), Gord Bamford, Chantal Kreviazuk, Marty Dodson, Patricia Conroy, Bruce Wallace, Buddy Owen, Steve Smith, Anthony Anderson, Phil Barton, Phil O’Donnell and Andrew Allan.  What’s more, superstar engineer Justin Niebank, who has mixed for the likes of Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton and Hunter Hayes has mixed the entire record.

The songs Meghan writes are about real-life situations and are both personal and autobiographical. They are story songs, but they are her stories which infuse the material with an authenticity and sincerity that is palpable.

“I have to feel connected to the music, especially when I am playing live. The emotions I write about are real and audiences know when you are being true to yourself. Performing my own music and forming a bond with my audience is what I do this for. And that’s the most enjoyable thing in the world.”

 

SMC Spotlight Series No. 4 | Dan Davidson ‘Say We Did’ Review & Exclusive Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

Just as I suspected, Country Music Rising Star, Edmonton based Dan Davidson has launched yet another gold single today with his newest single ‘Say We Did’. Let’s start with that video though…. once again Davidson manages to stretch the traditional ‘country music video’ boundaries by going completely left field with this latest production. The cast and crew assembled in blistering 31-degree Celsius heat among the Hoodoos of Drumheller, Alberta fully prepared to melt their faces off (literally) for the sake of running around in polyester costumes, playing instruments and living out their love for Star Trek. This might seem like a wild choice for a Canadian Country Musician considering most have videos filmed in wheat field/tractor variety, but I assure you, this isn’t a wild choice for Dan Davidson whose wicked sense of humor and personality shines through here. In fact, the last several videos have seen Davidson in a moose costume performing live with his furry friend creatures or walking the streets of Tokyo in an all-white Cowboy ensemble unabashedly playing his guitar for an unsuspecting crowd of Asian onlookers. There isn’t anything like this on the planet and fans have come to expect this originality as a Dan Davidson trademark and staple and it’s a wild ride. For this alone, I feel the man is genius.

We have had several Spotlight features with Davidson going back to June 2015 where his very well-received debut single as a Country Music Artist was ‘Unkiss Her’. This was followed by ‘Found’ in March 2016, and ‘Barn Burner’ in October 2016. Although the single releases have been spread out, all the traction and attention they have received on radio and press, (including radio tours and live performances) there really hasn’t been a slack moment for this up and coming Country Music Legend.

In addition to his own thriving music career, Davidson is responsible for shaping the music careers of many well-known Artists in the Edmonton community via HandsUp Music along with his partner in crime Mr. Ari Rhodes. I have personally seen Davidson behind-the-scenes at many live performances for his Artists such as Bryan Finlay and Lexi Strate making sure that their equipment is running smoothly for their shows or even helping to orchestrate video shoots for them. He is a mecca of knowledge within the music community in Edmonton and has even written several successful grants for many Musicians in order to complete many of their own video projects. The man wears many hats and for those who don’t know and are just discovering him for the first time today, Davidson has also fronted the Canadian Rock Band Tupelo Honey for several years prior to his recent success in his solo project. You will want to check that out too!

With the new single ‘Say We Did’ out today, I am confident that this is going to be yet another well-received, unique feel-good hit we have come to know from this Artist. Klingons and Borgs in polyester suits aside, this truly iconic, fun, ‘Dan Davidson’ sound in its instrumental composition and lyrical strength. When we look at his work with Tupelo Honey, this song has shades of that ‘Halo’  grandiosity with a Country Music twist and I am very happy to hear it. This translates to a truly original sound that cannot be emulated: legendary. While Davidson is presently sowing the seeds in the music industry with hit after hit, he is simultaneously leading up to a full-length album (fall, 2017) which we are confident will blow the lid off this combustible musical force making Dan Davidson a global household name.

Be ready world, the Dan Davidson storm is coming!

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | Dan Davidson | July 2017

SMC – Dan! We are thrilled to have you on our SMC SPOTLIGHT again! We have been following your career since June of 2015 when our contributor Randy Wayne Belt interviewed you for our platform. Since, we have had you featured three times in our Spotlight Numbered Series. What are your thoughts on us chronicling your career journey as Dan Davidson?

Dan – I really appreciate all the support! Its nice to have you guys on board from the start 🙂 Hopefully I can keep giving you something to talk about!

SMC – We have always been tapped into your new releases and with the release of ‘Say We Did’ today, can you tell us what you are most excited about with this release?

Dan Well this song is something that was really strategically complicated from a creative standpoint. I wanted to give radio something familiar (the upbeat front porch sound of Found and Barn Burner) yet something new and different to show I’m not just a one trick pony. I’m really confident that my producer and I nailed it on this one. I’m happy to get material out that really sounds like me. I feel that most of my songs aren’t just tunes that could be interchangeable with other artists, its something I’m proud of.

SMC – All week prior to the video launch of the single, we saw some pretty wicked sneak peeks of a Start Trek clad cast and crew…. can you tell us how the idea for this video came about?

Dan – Its just another worst “best idea ever”! Travis (the director), Russ (the assistant director) and I had some really crazy concepts planned for this. More travel related videos but thought, again, we should switch it up. Be spontaneous and unpredictable. We all love Star Trek and somehow got on the topic of buying costumes as a joke. Then it all kind of clicked in for us – we needed to do a spoof in the most DIY possible.

SMC – It was all shot in your garage and your wife couldn’t park in it for a week…. did she at least get flowers or a nice dinner out? (laughs) All kidding aside, your videos have become quite personal and homegrown… can you tell us why you have continued this trend?

Dan – Haha well, she gets a cameo in the video and hopefully her sacrifice helps to bring about a successful single and some sales money haha! Yea I think there are FAR too many riverbanks, dirt roads, wheat fields, and bars in country video. Videos are a real chance for me to communicate my personality and set my self apart. I’m definitely not one to fear straying from the norm. I think it’s a major strength of mine. I have the indie freedom to really do whatever I want – so I’m going to ride that out!

SMC – All your music videos are pretty epic to be honest. Epic and quite funny! Is this the signature ‘Dan Davidson’ style we can come to expect in future videos?

Dan – 100% I love it! Its fun for me. Its also great to hang out with all my creative friends and make some memories as professional grown up children.

SMC – Who is the creative team behind the video?

Dan – The video and concept was written by Travis Nesbitt, Russ Dawson, and myself. It was all shot by Trav and Russ as well.

SMC – The song itself is a genuinely pretty song with that classic upbeat sound we have come to know. Is this another co-write with Clayton Bellamy?

Dan – Nope, this one was co-written by Dave Thompson (remember Wave in the 90s? Yea him. We call him Dwave), and also with Travis Wood (Tim Hicks, James Barker Band)

SMC – What would you say is your unique Dan Davidson ‘signature’?

Dan – I’d say just honest music, with a little personality, and an indie DIY touch.

SMC – When you are about to embark on writing and production of a new single, what is your process?

Dan – Well for this one, I headed down to Nashville to write for a week. Landed a pretty good tune with a co-write, then looked at a list of about 30 songs with my publisher, radio team, and producer and narrowed it down. From there, I sent the demo to my producer and we began to fumble with the keys and tempos. Then we starting working on the arrangement. From there I began tracking a guide vocal. After that we started getting all the instruments in place, then I recorded my final vocals from my studio in Edmonton and sent them to my producer Jeff in Toronto.

SMC – I read recently that your previous single ‘Found’ is only 1000 streams away from being a Canadian Gold single! We are thrilled to see this happening for you! Can you tell us which song has been receiving the most attention so far (aside from ‘Say We Did’ today)?

Dan – Not 1000 streams, but 1000-unit single sales (150 streams = 1 sale). So a combination of streaming and sales equaling 1000. Yea its pretty crazy – basically unheard of for an indie artist to land a gold record. Its definitely a career milestone for me! Well Found definitely was the song that broke through. Other than that, Barn Burner is really the only song out! (Which also was top 20 and a major success for me!)

SMC – When we look at having a successful ‘summer release’ when, in your opinion, is the perfect time to launch a new single, EP, or full-length album?

Dan – There is never a good time in Canada anymore – but that doesn’t stop me. Found went out during ratings and Barn Burner went out before Christmas…both terrible times to go. Right now we are competing against more great CanCon than I’ve ever seen. Space is limited but I think we will see some great support out there J

SMC – What has been your best social media strategy so far?

Dan – Make great content, and keep giving people something to talk about.

SMC – Which social media platform is your favorite to interact with your fans on?

Dan – Instagram.

SMC – Do you always launch a video at the same time the single is released to all major music platforms?

Dan – Not really, Found and Barn Burner came out a few months after the song was out. This time we are trying to use the video to leverage attention for the single so we decided to go at the same time.

SMC – Can you share with us what the outcome was for the ‘Dan Davidson’ guitar contest and what it was all about….

Dan – It was a contest to help spread the word about MusiCounts (an organization that helps to bring music and music education to kids across Canada that couldn’t always afford it). I talked to people and radio stations all across the country and raised some great awareness for the cause! A kid from Stony Plain AB won the guitar last week.

SMC – You have recently won Country Recording of the Year for your single ‘Found’ at the Edmonton Music Awards last week! Congrats! With the Canadian Country Music Awards around the corner, do know yet if you have been nominated?

Dan – I’m still in the running in the 2nd ballot, we find out if I’m a nominee in any category on July 12th I believe!

SMC –  I read somewhere that 2017 will be the year of ‘Dan Davidson’ – what are your thoughts on claims like that? (see: Canadian Beats year in review (here)

Dan – Well I sure hope so! I try my best to keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing without worrying about what everyone else is up to. I think that’s the best strategy for success!

SMC – Speaking of Awards ceremonies and the awards themselves, what are your thoughts on the decisions of the Country Music Association in terms of who wins, etc.? Do you think there is a trend among different awards ceremonies as in: of one gets chosen for one category in one award ceremony, they are likely to get chosen for the others in the same category for other ceremonies in the same year?

Dan – Hmm id never really put any thought into it. I think the CCMA has a great reputation as an organization that really focus’ on credibility and accountability. Hard to find a better award organization that that. The good thing is nominees are essentially selected by their peers – so If I was picked for multiple categories I would just consider it a major honor.

SMC- Do you think that Country Music today is evolving to a new sound or do you think there will be a resurgence of a classic country sound?

Dan – I think the country scene makes room for every kind of country artist. There are trends that will come and go, but for the most part the awareness of country music and the breadth of the fan base is bigger and better than ever. I just hope that continues.

SMC – I know that I have asked you before why you chose a career in Country Music – now that you have progressed further into your career, can you tell me what your feelings are on making this career decision today?

Dan – Never once looked back. It was the best musical decision I’ve made in my 13-year career so far.

SMC – Again, I would like to talk a moment about your band Tupelo Honey – I saw that the Edmonton Oilers have supported your single ‘Can’t Stop’ – LOVE the tune! Is there anything coming down the pipe new music-wise for the band? SMC- How have your Tupelo Honey band members been supportive of your solo career?

Dan – Nothing new coming down the pipe. We have a bunch of B sides recorded that maybe well release to fans one day – but no plans just yet! The guys have been amazing. That’s the thing about making music with your best buds, there is nothing but support. 2 of the guys (Greg on drums, and Tyler on guitar) that are playing with me now. My show has evolved in such a positive way because of their contributions.

We were all so surprised and pumped up to see that we were the pump up music for the playoffs! All of our phones were exploding with texts.

SMC – I have seen so many Artists keeping consistent with their music and social media yet some never seem to make it to radio or get the support they deserve at the best of times. What do you feel is the disconnect on issues like this?

Dan – Radio is a tricky animal. There are tonnes of cool artists that don’t get radio play – sometimes its about the style, sometimes its about the song (often cool music isn’t ‘hit’ music), sometimes its about politics and team. Radio can’t play everyone, its very competitive. I don’t really have the answer to tell you the truth, I’ve found something that works for me after doing this for well over a decade but there is no real “right way”.

SMC – Where have you felt you have made the best career decision so far in your solo career?

Dan – Just doing what I do, having fun, making music with people I love and trust.

SMC – Indeed you have also been involved in the careers of so many up and coming and currently popular Artists in the Edmonton area – have you been still able to maintain grant writing and production work via Hands Up Music/Studio?

Dan – I basically hate grant writing, so I only do it for me and a few other artists I’m involved in BUT I still work tirelessly with Hands Up! Music. Ari and I have produced a tonne of great records this year (Ill have to tell ya about a few!). Hands Up! Is going strong and growing rapidly!

SMC – Which of your current Artists would you recommend for an SMC Spotlight next?

Dan – Lexi Strate is always amazing. She’s the real deal, such a cool sound. As for other production gigs – my fav EP we’ve produced lately is The Sissy Fits – its like a gritty Spice Girls meets punk rock.

SMC – We have seen you do sooooo much hard work behind the scenes for other Artists…. where do you find the energy for it?! (laughs)

Dan – I don’t know! I guess I just like to be busy and help people connect the dots that I was able to connect. Passing that karma down the line!

SMC – In terms of your Music Peers, who has been the most supportive of your career strides (aside from your management team)?

Dan – Jeff Dalziel my producer has been with me for 13 years and has produced essentially every professional recording attached to my name. We do whatever we can to continually help and support each other’s businesses. Also Bill Miller who I talk about often. Bill goes the extra mile, well beyond radio promotion. He’s a great sounding board and work horse. My publishers Red Brick Songs are so fully invested in this with me as well. The outpouring of support from my industry friends is paramount to my success.

SMC – Which radio stations have been quick to promote and support your new music?

Dan – Country 93.3 in Fort Mac, JRFM in Vancouver, KX96 in Oshawa, Real Country 95.5 in Red Deer, Country 94 in St. John, and CFCW have been great for early support!

SMC – What are your thoughts on other music platforms (for promotional purposes) like Spotify and Pandora as opposed to traditional radio playlists and shows?

Dan – It’s amazing. Its listener driven, no advertising. Its about organic trends and tastes. To me its not one or the other though. Artists should strive for both if their music fits.

SMC – I have enjoyed seeing your vlogs! They are pretty entertaining (laughs) – where can your fans find them posted and can they subscribe to them?

Dan – Instagram.com/itsdandavidson and Facebook.com/dandavidsonmusic

SMC – You played at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto to a sold-out crowd alongside Chase Rice! Can you tell us if you have any future concert dates or festival dates we can watch out for?

Dan – Sure do!

Peace River, Alberta PEACEFEST W/ Jojo Mason & Aaron Pritchett 07/07/17 12 Foot Davis Events Park 8:00pm
Fort McMurray, AB WILD WEST COUNTRY FEST – W/ WBU & Road Hammers 07/08/17 Snye Point Park 8:00pm
Calgary, Alberta CALGARY STAMPEDE – Headline 07/09/17 Ranchmans 8:00pm
Sevenpersons , AB QUONSET DAYS W/ James Barker Band & Rivertown Saints 07/22/17 Quonset Days Grounds 8:00pm
Edmonton, AB K-DAYS – W/ Corb Lund 07/23/17 K-Days South Stage 8:00pm
Mattawa, Ontario VOYAGEUR DAYS W/ The Road Hammers 07/28/17 Mattawa Museum Grounds 8:00pm
Sarnia, Onatario BLUEWATER BORDER FEST W/ Aaron Goodvin 07/29/17 Centennial Park 8:00pm
Dawson Creek, BC DAWSON CREEK STAMPEDE – Headline 08/11/17 Dawson Creek Stampede 8:00pm
Dawson Creek, BC DAWSON CREEK STAMPEDE – Headline 08/12/17 Dawson Creek Stampede 8:00pm

 

SMC – Will you be performing at Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta again this year?

Dan – No, I wish! I played 2 years in a row. They need a break! Haha

SMC – What is your favorite live performance so far as Dan Davidson?

Dan – London Music Hall W/ Chase Rice earlier this year. It was like an ACDC video. There were people hanging off everything and everyone was screaming the words!

SMC – Are we going to see a full-length album soon?

Dan – I’d say shortly after CCMAs in September we can expect a release!

SMC – Alright – last question: (I don’t think I have ever asked you this on before either)

Can you tell us one thing about yourself as a Musician that you feel sets you apart from your music peers?

Dan – That’s a tough one. My peers are pretty diverse! I’m not sure if I have a good answer. I’m hoping that fans don’t have the answer either. I don’t want what I do to be a gimmick – I’m hoping there is a music brand and a certain something that no one can quick put their finger on that sets me apart. I think that’s how you know its real.

Thanks Dan! It’s always wonderful when we can connect! Keep up with the awesome!

Check out the video for ‘Say We Did’ below!


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Photo Courtesy: Dan Davidson

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O’neill Hudson | SMC Exclusive Artist Interview Series No. 1 ‘Lucky’

By Candice Anne Marshall

On June 16th, 2017, Los Angeles-based Singer-Songwriter O’neill Hudson walked onto the world music stage under her new project and hasn’t looked back. In the short span of approximately 2 weeks, she has managed to enrapture thousands of her loyal fans (old & new) with launch of her debut single ‘Lucky’ on all major music platforms. What followed is the equivalent to one discovering a beautiful waterfall in the middle of a lush forest on a midsummer’s day: magical, refreshing, exquisite, and a welcome sight and sound. And that’s just her vocals. When we add in the exquisitely romantic lyrics (originally written for her husband), we have THE wedding song of the summer and more than likely, for infinity…it’s that good!

O’Neill began debuting her new single opening for her older brother, Reeve Carney on his ‘Youth Is Wasted’ tour recently, and the reception was exactly what we predicted: fans were gushing and clambering to hear the song just ‘one more time’ on social media platforms. In fact, friends of the songbird have also begun submitting videos to her with beautifully choreographed dance moves inspired by O’neills’ bewitching vocals. One fan even sent in a video with their preschool children singing ‘Lucky’ acapella! It’s that contagious and that memorable. (check out O’neill’s Instagram @oneillhudsonsings) These kinds of fan interactions demonstrate that this is a song that inspires people to sing along, create, dance, and even dream. O’neill maintains her authenticity with gracious responses such as, ‘I can hardly express my thankfulness for you all following me on here + your unbelievably sweet remarks on ‘Lucky’ – I feel like these times are pinch me moments’ and ‘You guys!! I am so overwhelmed by the support on ‘Lucky’ – it feels like a dream. I am so thankful that this song (which means so much to me) has connected us. I’m so excited for this new journey’.

Can we say ‘AMEN!’?

The earlier part of O’neill’s career, music written under the name ‘Paris Carney’ included sensual, leading-edge alternative ballads that laid the groundwork for her new project: ‘O’Neill Hudson’. After listening to the new single in comparison to her earlier work, one can audibly hear that O’Neill is ‘Paris Carney’, evolved. The singer songwriter began as a back-up singer for her equally talented brother Reeve (Carney), Jonas Brothers and most recently, Hailee Steinfeld. Soon after, with the support of family and friends, she began delving into her own art which prompts us again to raise our hands with another emphatic ‘AMEN!’

Although ‘Lucky’ is the first single under the O’neill name, we are confident that this is the very rich, mellifluous beginnings of what this Artist is capable of. Her cultivated vocals are O’neill and I am confident that this is the kind of Artist who does everything on point in terms of lyric/instrumental compatibility, while remaining original, authentic, and beautifully flawless in her final composition.

O’neill has already consented for SMC to begin a Spotlight Numbered Series where we will begin documenting her career journey on our SMC SPOTLIGHT and in the wake of her success with ‘Lucky’, we are already anticipating her next single!

Have a listen to ‘Lucky’ & read our exclusive interview below:

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O’neill Hudson
Photo courtesy: O’neill Hudson

Starlight Music Chronicles SMC Exclusive Interview | O’neill Hudson

SMC – Hello O’neill! Welcome to the SMC SPOTLIGHT! I am going to get right into this – off the hop, I want to say that your new single ‘Lucky’ is an ASTOUNDING entry into the industry under your new project O’neill Hudson. Before we get into talk on your new song, let’s go further back: you’ve been a musician for a few years now. Can you tell us what your other projects were/are?

O’neill – Hi! Thank you so much! I’ve been singing my entire life truly, and grew up doing demos for my dad. I professionally started as a backup singer for my brother Reeve 12 years ago. I’ve also sung background for the Jonas Brothers and most recently Hailee Steinfeld. I’ve written songs for TV/FILM and co-wrote Youtuber Bethany Mota‘s debut single ” Need you right now”.

SMC – I was on Spotify looking back at some of your previous music under your Paris Carney name. There’s some pretty fantastic tunes! Can you tell us how you have evolved from Paris Carney to O’neill Hudson and which project you are focusing on more long-term?

O’neill – Ah thank you! I am very proud of my other released material (under my maiden name, Paris Carney) but I felt like there was a side of me that wasn’t being heard in that style, that’s why I started writing for “O’neill”. I love singing and telling stories and I wasn’t feeling like I could fully do that…I also wanted everything to be authentic and real from the messages to the production. I’m definitely focusing on “O’neill Hudson” but I wanted the ability to go back and work on some more of my older stuff down the line.

Photo courtesy of O’neill Hudson

SMC – Can you tell us about the stage name O’neill Hudson? Where is it derived from? I saw somewhere that part of it was a name your mother was going to give you?

O’neill – O’neill is my middle name and I’ve always loved it so much. I was named after a close friend of my parents “Norris O’neill” who worked in commercial jingle business with my dad in NYC. He’s also my brother Zanes God-father, but Norris passed away before I was born, so I was named in his honor. “Hudson” was the name my parents had picked for me before I was born, because they thought I was going to be a boy. I also always loved that name + I’m from NYC and loved the Hudson River connection!

SMC – You come from a family with exceptional music talent, can you tell us how they inspired you or vice versa?

O’neill – I think we inspire each other by watching each other live and listening to eachothers’ recordings… We have similar inclinations and it’s cool to hear them / see them and then also exciting when something unexpected happens vocally, lyrically or production wise.

SMC – I saw that you had some very successful live performances opening recently for your brother Reeve. Can you tell me what your thoughts are on the response you received when you sang ‘Lucky’ live?

O’neill – It honestly feels surreal getting to sing “Lucky” live, really all my new songs. I’ve been working on this project for 2 years and only the co-writers and producers and my family have really experienced them. Singing “Lucky” live does feel especially special because of the meaning behind the song, having people connect to it was my dream.

SMC – Do you plan on any more future touring dates with or without Reeve? (Come to Canada!)

O’neill – I most definitely intend on touring very soon and I LOVE Canada- I would be so honored to play there!

SMC – What kind of feedback have you gotten from your family on your new single?

O’neill – My family has been so supportive and encouraging (really always! Ha ha) – I think they recognize my passion and ownership of this project, which has been really cool and validating.

SMC – What has the online support been like in terms of your fans?

O’neill – It has been truly unreal – I have been so moved by people’s support and love for the song – That is all you can ever hope for as an artist and songwriter. I just hope it continues to reach more people!

SMC – What has the media support been like?

O’neill – Nylon magazine online was amazing to just include my song in their best songs of the week, but otherwise my only other media support has been through my incredibly talented friends and family 🙂 I’ve been doing this all very grass-rootsy.

SMC – Often, when we find an Artist we see with a very promising future, we like to follow and chronicle their career as they reach milestones in their careers. We do this by way of a SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series. Would you be open to us supporting you by way of interviews and reviews on our site as you continue on your journey?

O’neill – Of course! 🙂

SMC – Okay, let’s get into the topic of your new single ‘Lucky’…first off, I have to say ‘WOW’, lady, you have the voice of an Angel. (my review of the single will be posted above). I assume that this song was written for your husband correct?

O’neill – Ah thank you SO much! And YES! I wrote this as a love letter to my husband. It started with the chorus’ lines and the first line of the song “I hit the jackpot” and I brought it to my co-writer Wendy Wang (who also ended up producing the version that I released) …the rest flowed out in about 2 hours. I still cry when I listen to the lyrics because they are so true! I come from a divorced family and to find a love like I’ve found is so remarkable 🙂

Photo courtesy: O’neill Hudson

SMC – When was this song written and why was it chosen as your debut under the O’Neill Hudson name?

O’neill – The song was written on Feb 24th, 2016. I chose it as my first single because the meaning was so special to me and everyone that heard the demo seemed to have this deep connection with its message, so I knew it had to be the one 🙂

SMC – Have you been approached by Radio yet for ‘Lucky’? I can list at least six stations who will want to play this song! I should connect you….

O’neill – I haven’t! But I would LOVE that so much! 🙂

SMC – When you sit back and look at the kind of responses you have gotten for ‘Lucky’, can you tell us what thoughts roll through your mind as you’re reading the comments from friends, family and fans?

O’neill – It almost feels like an out of body experience ha ha! I think because I hoped and prayed it would resonate with people, but actually seeing it resonate with people is so powerful to me.

SMC – What do you think makes a Musician ‘successful’ in the music industry?

Oh man…So many things… It really feels like ” right place, right time”. There are so many ways to “make it” now a days. You could make yourself crazy thinking about it. I know, for me, I just want to make art to make art at this point – and then pray that “success” comes from that place.

SMC – Where is your greatest global fan base located?

Hmmm… I’m not sure – I wanna say South America? They are so sweet and passionate there!

SMC – Can we expect another single soon? You MUST keep them coming. Please do keep us in the loop on upcoming music.

O’neill – Yes! I’m not positive when, but it may be coming very soon 🙂 I will definitely keep you posted!

SMC – Speaking of future music and style, can we expect recordings to be thematically or compositionally congruent to ‘Lucky’? This is a different sound from your music as Paris Carney.

O’neill – Yes! This project is all about organic sounds – Nothing MIDI 🙂

SMC – Are you touring on any festival circuits this summer?

O’neill – Not that I know of yet, but I’m hoping soon!

SMC – I have seen that you have also been supportive of your mother’s jewelry line ‘Fables’ and we have featured some of her most prominent pieces on the front page of our website. Can you tell me which is your favorite piece and why?

O’neill – I’ve been loving the “Good Luck Charm” charm necklace (I’m wearing it in my single artwork) – Really ever since I wrote “Lucky” I’ve been drawn to it. Also, her “Smiley face ring” – Her jewelry is all unbelievable.

SMC – Your husband Greg (Garboswky) is bassist for Jonas Brothers and has toured extensively with the band. How did the two of you meet and what is his thoughts on your new single?

O’neill – Yes! He actually works on their management team now. We met at a karaoke bar through mutual friends in 2009. When I first played him Lucky, he got choked up – which made me so emotional / happy 🙂

SMC – Aside From the talent you are surrounded with in terms of your family and friends, I still see you as a bright light whose talent stands alone and apart from the crowd. You are truly unique. Have you ever heard this from any industry peers before?

O’neill – Wow – that is so kind! I’ve struggled a lot with insecurity in the past (still do, of course!) but when it came to this project I found such strength and confidence – I am just so passionate about it and I think that is what shines through at the end… That makes me so happy!

SMC – What was the most flattering compliment you have ever received in terms of your music?

O’neill – My main inspirations for this project were Jeff Buckeley and Areosmith and two separate people heard “Lucky” and without me telling them the inspiration said it reminded them of those people and I about lost my mind with happiness.

SMC – What are your thoughts/experiences on/of the music industry in general?

O’neill – I think I know a little too much… Ha ha! It’s so complicated and complex, I love knowing people that make music because they love it.

SMC – How do you feel you differ I in terms of your Brothers Zane and Reeve in terms of your own projects?

O’neill – I think I have a little more “pop” music in my background, which may come through here and there, that’s where all the spice girls and Britney Spears listening sessions shine though, ha ha.

SMC – How do you feel you are similar to your siblings?

O’neill – I think we all have similar vocal tones and also, we are all obsessed with Areosmith “nine lives”. We also love a good vocal harmony arrangement!

SMC – Can you tell us where your most memorable live performance has been and why?

O’neill – This past mini tour for sure! I’ve done a lot of background singing in amazing places – but singing my own songs in a style that is so authentic to me is unreal.

SMC – Are there any specific charities or non-profit organizations you have a passion for or whom you support? If so, why?

O’neill – That is such a wonderful question. I feel passionate about people feeling loved and heard, for that reason I love giving back to the homeless in Los Angeles. I’ve also always had a heart for those with special needs and I want to get more connected in a way to give back in a bigger way.

SMC – Can you tell us what a typical day in the life of O’neill Hudson is like?

O’neill – I have a literal obsession with coffee, soooo, I’d pick up almond milk latte from a coffee shop near me (usually to meet a friend) …before that possibly go to my fav workout “Pop Physique” and then usually I’ll go to a writing or recording session to follow! I also probably watch too much TV in the day… I was obsessed with “This is us” and want “Lucky” or one of my songs to be in it soooo badly!

SMC – I have read articles that speak of your wit and charm. I have found that you come from a family of pretty charming and witty individuals. (The Honeymooners Art Carney is her great Uncle!) What would you say is your greatest personality trait and your weakest?

O’neill – Aww that is so sweet! I think it usually is a good thing because I love to make people feel comfortable… I do however have serious trust issues, so it’s kind of an interesting internal combination.

SMC – Let’s talk more fashion: aside from wearing gorgeous jewelry pieces from your mother’s line, what are your go-to’s in terms of clothing and ensemble?

O’neill – I do mix it up quite a bit, but I love vintage tees or silk shirts and different denims (Paige denim is my favorite) and I’ve also been obsessed with pointy toe flat booties.

SMC – Most often, we ask the Artists in our interviews who their ‘go-to’ team is in terms of Music production, Music Video Production, Management, and PR. Can you tell us who your team is?

O’neill – Aw yes! Don Miggs, Kevin Held and Wendy Wang are my current dream team! Lydia Murrty took my single artwork/ did all of my photography. I also have a lot of help from friends who have gone above and beyond to make my dreams come true so far… I’m still in need of someone in PR though 🙂

SMC – Which music platform do you prefer to promote your music: Spotify, Radio, SoundCloud, CD Baby, or Pandora?

O’neill – I love them all! I do tend to go to Spotify because I know it’s cheap and or free to access so much music…I really just want my music to be shared as much as possible.

SMC – Aside from family, which Artist or Artists in the industry are you inspired most by and why?

O’neill – Jeff Buckeley, Areosmith, Carole King, Joni Mitchell. I love all of them for different reasons from songwriting, to vocal ability, to the way they emote. New ones include…Andy Shauf, Lucius, and Big Thief.

SMC – Many people can Google an individual to find out more about their background, but we like to ask this question in our interviews: can you tell us 5 things about yourself that no one (or barely anyone) knows about you?

O’neill – I love God, Coffee, my husband, my family, I love listening / talking through stuff with people.. And obviously I love music and singing and songwriting… That’s 8 whoops…ha ha!

SMC – Where do you see your career in 6 months to a year from now?

O’neill –  I hope to be on tour seeing people singing along to songs I wrote… My dream is also to sing “Lucky” on dancing with the stars and Jimmy Fallon. Ha ha!

SMC – Are there any other projects you have coming up that you can tell us about?

O’neill – This is my main focus right now… But I do have a side project with two of my songwriting friends that may be released somewhat soon 😉

SMC – Alright, final question – Can you tell us five things in your life at present you are grateful for and why?

O’neill – God, my husband, my family, friends and my first song “Lucky” being out… I am truly so Lucky and blessed.

Thank-you Paris! We look forward to supporting you on our SMC SPOTLIGHT platform and we wish you a world of success in your new venture as O’Neill Hudson!

O’neill Hudson
Photo by Lydia Murrty
Photo courtesy of: O’neill Hudson

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O’neill Hudson
‘Lucky’ Album cover by Lydia Murrty

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Meresha | ‘Enter The Dreamland’ EP Review & Exclusive Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview Florida-based three-time Billboard top 40 charting Artist and voting member in the Grammy process (as part of The Recording Academy) Meresha on the Indie Music Monday platform. Last Friday she launched her new EP ‘Enter The Dreamland’ and has already received rave reviews from fans and media globally. Popularity aside, Meresha has impressed me with her ability to remain grounded, focused, and consistent both personally and professionally.There are no airs about this young lady -whether she is performing in front of thousands of her fans or just chilling on the beach meditating, she continues to remain personable and authentic. This is apparent on all of her social media and in her art. Even in the wake of her success on the Billboard charts previous (let’s not count the fact that she was placed between Adele and Justin Bieber right off the hop!), she continues to strive for excellence (and continuing to remain authentic) with her new content, and ‘Enter The Dreamland’ is the result.

When we breakdown the five-song EP, each track can best be described as a sacred work of art. Nothing about Meresha’s art is of the ‘cookie cutter’ sort we hear these days and the production work from multi-Grammy Award Winner Joe Chiccarelli (whose work includes Elton John, Beck, Christina Perri, Glenn Frey to name a few) supports my statement.

Here’s a break-down of ‘ENTER THE DREAMLAND’:

Enter The Dreamland – is ethereal, lush, and vibrant. Modern sound and gentle vocals make this a powerful piece that should be heard loud and on your best speaker system. And probably at night. It’s like capturing a unicorn in a jar – magical and combustible.

Stardust – Take a trip into outer space with this number. Essentially, Meresha considers herself an Alien and this is most definitely the club sound of the summer. It is fast, fun, and throbs in the veins.

Jungle Potion – is a follow up from Stardust with some sensational instrumental pieces woven throughout. Not my most favorite number but still a quality track.

Violet Night – Now THIS is the sweet spot on the album in my opinion. This song pulls from Meresha’s Spanish roots lyrically and instrumentally while still making this something fresh. I believe it was LIGHTS who I discovered in 2008 when they began making their debut into the Canadian music scene and this single reminds me of that ‘Drive My Soul’ vibe. Side note: Lights has over a million active fans and followers globally – Meresha is already well on her way there. I predict big things from this track in the future of Meresha’s career.

Lights Out – The final song on this track is sensual in its composition lyrically and vocally. In our interview (below) Meresha said that she will leave interpretation to the listener on this song, but for this listener, this is a sexy little number that leaves this album on a positive note.

More please, Meresha!

Meresha
Photo courtesy of Meresha

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | MERESHA ‘Enter The Dreamland’

SMC – Hello Meresha! Welcome to Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC)! I have previously interviewed you on Indie Music Monday but for the sake of our readers here on SMC, can you please tell us a little about yourself: where you are from, your age, what got you started in music?

Meresha – Hi Candice.  Thanks for asking me back!

I’m a (musical) artist, vegan & alien luver.  I was born in Europe and am now US East Coast-based. Some suspect I’m actually an alien, but I don’t comment on rumors.

I wrote my first song when I was 12, and recorded it about 8 years ago in a CD booth in South Florida.

SMC – Your new album ‘Enter The Dreamland’ is just stunning! I especially like the song ‘Violet Night’. There are a lot of ethereal influences woven throughout the lyrics and even in the instrumentation. Can you tell us why this theme?

Meresha – Sometimes you have to open your eyes to see the beauty around you.  We get so wrapped up in the everyday that we often miss it.  As I write:

“I have found the puzzle piece

it is right in front of me”

 this was always meant to be

our eyes open galaxies”

SMC – You just launched (June 11th, 2017) your video for ‘Enter The Dreamland’. Can you tell us who the creative team was behind this video?

Meresha – For this video, I worked once again with David Rousseau and his team.  He was the Director of my “New Revolution” video.  David has done a lot of amazing work including videos with billions of views for acts like PitBull, Magic!, Enrique Iglesias and Shakira.  Despite all his success, he is really down to earth and very practical in getting great footage.  His team was amazing managing a shoot in 2 stunning locations 90 minutes away from each other, all in one (very long) day.

SMC – “Lights Out” is also another beautiful song – I feel this is going to be one of those power songs that make it big off an album. What is the song about?

Meresha – Thanks!  “Lights Out” was the last song I wrote for the album.  I’ll leave interpretation of the song to the listener.   Some might hear something sensual, others something spiritual, while others something else.  This can change too depending on when you are listening.

SMC – Which is your favorite song off this album and why?

Meresha – I’ve lived with all 5 songs for a while. Some I originally wrote over a year ago, and kept working on them. Hard to pick a favorite, though I guess you always love most the last thing you did, like “Lights Out”.  Mainly, though, I’m just excited that I can finally share my work with the world.

SMC – Your album art is gorgeous! I did see that you like to involve your fans in the decision-making process on your album art – can you tell us what the best advice was and how it helped you make a final decision?

Meresha – Picking album art is hard.  In this case, there were probably over 100 different ideas and mock-ups.  I had ideas submitted from different people.  I shared the base picture and let them manipulate it, or have it inspire some original art.  A few hundred fans gave detailed comments and helped steer me on the final choice.  I’m really glad you like it, but it really was a team effort.   The whole team deserves any credit.

SMC –I am very happy to have been introduced to your sound via Walter Hargrave at Indie Music Monday! What is the typical reaction you get from people hearing your sound for the first time?

Meresha – I’ve heard people say that my music was deeper and more interesting than they were expecting.  Guess that is a good thing.

SMC – How impressive to land on the Billboard Top 40 charts three times! Can you tell us where you were and how you reacted when you landed on it the first time?

Meresha – I did not really believe it when I got the first reports.  I entered the charts the first time right in between Adele and Justin Bieber.  That’s something that is really hard for an Indie artist to do.  Label artists have armies supporting them.  I guess the secret is to have some guerilla tactics.  I sent every single station that could play my music a handwritten individual note and a CD that looked like a vinyl 45, and asked for their support. Maybe the personal touch and a bit of being different helped get their attention.  In any case, I was grateful so many stations took the risk to play the music of a new Indie artist.

Meresha
Photo courtesy Meresha

SMC – Who has been the most supportive of your career other than family?

Meresha – My high school Performing Arts (and Spanish) teacher Mrs. Salivar. I changed High School Sophomore year.  It was not an easy transition for me.  As a vegan, artsy type I did not always fit in.  Mrs. Salivar, though, immediately got me involved in the arts – dancing, singing, performing.  Think I had 12 roles in the variety show my first year.  She continues to help.  She even helped improve the wording in my first song in Spanish “Juntos”.

SMC – When you are songwriting, where do you go to for inspiration?

Meresha – My inspiration comes from many sources – from nature, my travels, things I experience and things I observe.  Books I read like those of Haruki Murakami also take me to new places, and awaken my imagination.

SMC – You have performed alongside Adam Lambert and Third Eye Blind – what was that experience like?

Meresha – That was amazing.  It was my biggest show up to that point.  With headliners like that, I had a built-in crowd.  Since it was in Boca Raton, not too far away from where I went to High School, there were a lot of people too who I knew in the audience.  Middle and High Schoolers from my school even organized a flash mob for my song “New Revolution” with some of them on stage.  It was a memorable night.

Meresha – Was also great to meet the other musicians.  Spent the most time with Adam and his band who were on after us, and had a dressing room across from ours.  They are good people who put on a great show which I got to watch from behind the scenes.  Seeing how the audience reacted from Adam’s perspective was very cool.

SMC – Let’s talk about your song ‘Juntos’ which released late last year – the lyrics are in Spanish correct? I definitely hear Latin influences in this new album.

Meresha – Right.  “Juntos” is my first song in Spanish, but not my last.  I’ve spent time in Costa Rica, Cuba, Spain & Mexico and love Latin culture.  Maybe I’ll do a duet at some point with a Latin artist.   Some of the sounds from my travels in Latin countries and the Caribbean can be heard on the EP, especially in songs like “Jungle Potion”. 

SMC – What has been the media response to your music in terms of Radio and Entertainment websites and blogs? Have there been any other Media platforms who have lined up an interview or promotion to coincide with your release?

Meresha – I’ve been blessed by getting the support of media who support Indie artists.  I really appreciate that they take the time to write about us and share our music.  It is all about getting your message out to as many people as you can.  Some journalists that wrote about me before are covering the “Enter the Dreamland” launch.  New sites are covering me too for the first time (like yours), which is very cool.

As far as radio goes, I’ve gotten support from market-leading stations like WRMF and music people like Kid Kelly at Sirius XM.  My music has been played on Indie, college and commercial stations.  While streaming has taken off, radio remains a way many people discover new artists.

SMC – Can you recall an interview that was most memorable to you and why?

Meresha – I did an interview on live TV on Cape Cod a while back.  I was still pumped after playing a live concert on the station.  Not sure everything I said was coherent, but I do remember that I really enjoyed it. 

SMC – What has the support been like among your peers?

Meresha – What I notice is that artists tend to be very supportive of each other.  There are a lot of us, and it is important to shout out when one of your fellow artists is doing amazing things and shine a light on them.  If all of us do it, the best will be found.

SMC – Can you list at least 5 talents/hobbies aside from your music career we don’t know about?

Meresha – Besides Just Dance on the Xbox?  I love languages – have studied 6 and can say I speak 3.   Travel is a passion.  I’ve been across parts of Europe and Latin America.  Asia is next on my list.  Whenever I can, I do different sports like running, paddle boarding, blading, etc.

SMC – Can you tell us what a normal day in your life would be like? Many young people idolize Musicians but they don’t often know what goes on behind the scenes and how tough the music industry can be….

Meresha – I work on my art every day.  Most of my day is filled with learning about music, playing instruments and Deejay-ing.  I write music when I can, and otherwise try to absorb new inspirations.  I’m on a bunch of social media platforms and try to stay in touch with as many fans and supporters as I can every day.  Really, there is more that you could do to advance your music every day than is humanly possible to do.  Think the people who make it and build a career are working on those things all the time.

Meresha
The Artist in her true element Photo courtesy Meresha

SMC – What kinds of pressures are there for you in keeping to a schedule in terms of your creative recording process and execution of your music to the masses?

Meresha – While there is some pressure to keep creating new music, as an Indie you have freedoms which keeps this to a lower level.  You can create whatever music you want and release it when you want, in whatever form you want.  If something doesn’t work, you can take it down, or just try again.  You won’t get kicked off the Label for failure.  You are the label.

SMC – Are there any tour plans for the remainder of 2017? Any festivals you will be attending during the summer months?

Meresha – I played SunFest last month, which was amazing.  Some video from that is on Meresha.com.  Probably 40,000 heard me debut “Enter the Dreamland” and “Stardust” together with 6 other songs.

Some other individual Festivals are in the works.  Right now, I do not have a tour planned, but it would be great to open for a more established artist I respect, at some point soon.

SMC – Where do you find your fanbase is the most concentrated in terms of countries?

Meresha – My launch June 23 is global, though right now I’m focusing on the US and Canada.  I’ve been as high at #6 on the iTunes Pop Album pre-order chart in the States in the last days.  This week, we are also presenting “Enter the Dreamland” to Canadian radio.  It will be my first time going for radio play there.  Will be interesting to see if my music resonates there.

I do have fans internationally including quite a few in Latin America, Japan/Asia, Australia and Europe.  I hope to be able to tour there some time soon. 

SMC – Which radio stations would you like to acknowledge in this interview and give a shout out to?

Meresha – WRMF is a hometown station in Florida that took a chance on me.  Not only did they play my song “My love has come” on air among the first stations in the US, but they also invited me to play their big yearly No Snow Ball with 1000s of attendees.  To get that kind of support as an Indie artist is amazing.

SMC – Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting process?

Meresha – I keep a notebook of ideas which I something go back to.  New songs start in various places, sometimes with a melody or set of notes, sometimes with lyrics.  There isn’t one way that they get created.  Even when I record songs, I sometimes come back to them several times and rearrange them before they are ready.

SMC – What instrument do you create your music on?

Meresha – I have a David Smith Prophet ’12 Keyboard on which I do most of my composing.  I’m also working on creating a live show with just me and my Prophet.

SMC – Can you tell us what tour life is like and which were your most memorable live performances?

Meresha – I flew many miles once to see Paramore in the Chicago House of Blues.  I arrived early, went to their restaurant hours before, and somehow managed to convince them to let me in the music hall with the first fans.  I saw Hayley and the guys in the front row of the Mosh pit.  It was amazing.

Last year, I co-Headlined a House of Blues show.  I know that some of the people there came out specially to see me live.  It’s now my job to create memories for them.  That’s what keeps me going.

SunFest last month will certainly be one that I remember for a long time.  Getting such a huge crowd to hear my music, some for the first time, and partying to it was great.

SMC – What does success mean to you?

Meresha – Success is enjoying what you do.  I’m working hard to make music that thing.  The jury is still out on whether I can build a sustainable career and live from my music, but being able to stay on the path would itself be a success.

SMC – Okay, final question Meresha – can you tell us five things you would like to see happen in terms of your new album release and its success in the next 3-6 months?

Meresha –

  1. Grammy
  2. MTV music award
  3. Billboard Top 10 hit
  4. Global tour
  5. Collaboration with someone cool.

Yeah, I know, probably not going to happen, but if you can dream it, you can do it. 

Come join me on the adventure!

Meresha during one of her recent live performances.
Photo courtesy Meresha

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John Ferriter | Exclusive Interview: The Tearaways ‘Esquire’ & The Alternative | Series No.1

by Candice Anne Marshall

Earlier this month, my friend Mr. Mike Rogers (WhatTheFunday InterFM897 Radio) introduced me to his friend and peer, Los Angeles-based Mr. John Ferriter. As I always do when meeting an industry peer, I began doing my research and quickly discovered that John is a man of many talents. He is the mastermind behind highly successful television shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’, ‘On Air With Ryan Seacrest’, and ‘Project Runway’ to name a few. His career span includes working as a Talent Agent with The William Morris Agency, Octagon, and later, his own venture, The Alternative.

Ferriter has worked with the entertainment industries most notable individuals like Piers Morgan (also a close friend of his), Garth Brooks, Ryan Seacrest, Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly (to name a few), and some of his earlier clients include supermodel Claudia Schiffer and Jerry Garcia. In addition to managing his impressive client roster with The Alternative, John’s current projects include landing deals for world famous DJ Rodney Bingenheimer known as The Mayor of the Sunset Strip in L.A. (more on that later) and his own successful Music career with The Tearaways (more on that later too).

After initial introductions (thanks Mike!), John and I arranged for an in-depth interview covering his career span, music, and personal life. ‘Nothing is off limits’ was his response to my inquiry on sensitive subject matter. In fact, he even divulged on the future of Rodney Bingenheimers’ career (under his wing at The Alternative), his thoughts on his career change from The William Morris Agency to The Alternative, and the extreme passion for his art (a night owl like me – often creatives don’t sleep much). This is one of the most candid and entertaining interviews I have had to date where we cover many insightful, relevant, and interesting topics.

This is the first installment in our SMC SPOTLIGHT Numbered Series where we will continue to track and follow John’s career. So, if you feel left like you’re left wanting more at the end of this feature, know that this is just the first chapter in our journey with the entertainment industry legend known as Mr. John Ferriter. Enjoy!

Note: Following the interview below, I’ve included my review of the new Tearaways album ‘Esquire’ track by track complete with summary.

John Ferriter
Photo by: Colin Mathew

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | John Ferriter June 20, 2017

SMC – Hello John! Welcome to the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) SPOTLIGHT! Let’s get right into it – you have quite an extensive career so we will break it down into sections here. Before we do that, can you tell us how you came to know Mike Rogers?

John – I actually met Mike Rogers in the early 80’s when he was the lead singer for a Punk Rock band called The Rotters. He was in the band with Phester Swollen and he was singing a song called “Sit On My Face Stevie Nix”. It was a classic and I played it on my radio show on KCSB many, many times.

Television Producer/Talent Representative

SMC – I was watching a YouTube video on your website ‘The Alternative’ where you are interviewed by Hollywood Immersive. In it, you spoke about working with The William Morris Agency. Can you tell us which accomplishments you feel were your greatest while working there?

John – In my 19 years at William Morris, there were many highs and many lows. The best part of the job was that I never experienced the same day twice.  Conversely most days felt like a broken play, so you learned to think on your feet and improvise. But the greatest accomplishments were when you made the seemingly impossible become possible and when you saw the moments where clients were able to realize their dreams.

SMC – You are behind many well-known television shows such as ‘The Biggest Loser’, ‘Project Runway’, and ‘On Air with Ryan Seacrest’ to name a few. Can you tell us what your process is in terms of ‘packaging’ these shows?

John – When packaging shows, I always tried to bring together proprietary elements that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. That’s why I’ve always been so partial to talent.  There is only one Ryan Seacrest. There is only one Garth Brooks, one Dick Clark, one Piers Morgan, one Dr. Drew, One Carrie Keagan, so when you have an opportunity to build shows around really talented people with great concepts and you target the marketplace accordingly you can meet with a greater degree of success.

SMC – Can you tell us of a time when you felt there was a client that was unprepared, or not ready for the kind of work you expected of them?

John – Many clients are unprepared in general and unprepared for success. As an Artist, your life can change in an instant, so I tell them to act like they’ve already had success.  But too many are unprepared. See it and Realize it and it can happen if they are willing to work for it.

SMC – While with The William Morris Agency, can you tell us which project made you feel exceptionally proud?

John – At William Morris I was proud of all my projects. That being said, all of the work I did with Garth Brooks, Piers Morgan, Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest, Nancy O’Dell, The Spice Girls, Hanson were quite fulfilling. I sold “Blue Collar Comedy”, “Biggest Loser”, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, “The Man Show”, “Project Runway”, “Biggest Loser” and about 300 other projects while at WMA. I was very proud of the Tsunami Benefit we put together in seven days that generated millions for the victim. I packaged the first Radio Music Awards and it’s now been cloned 50 times. I feel good about that.

SMC – Your transition into your own Agency ‘The Alternative’ followed working with The William Morris Agency and Octagon, can you tell us how that came about and why?

John – I was unceremoniously locked out of WME after the WMA and Endeavor merger because I was the only board member who voted against the merger. It was a bad deal and I voted to support the rank and file. The new boss used it against me. I don’t think I ever would have left the agency but I was given no choice. I signed a five-year deal with Octagon, a division of the Public Company Interpublic Group, and built a successful entertainment division. I sold and produced the Arsenio Hall Show, Garth Brooks last network series, was nominated for an Emmy for producing the Teen Bullying series “It Gets Better”, won an award from Planned Parenthood for Best Documentary for “I’m Positive” and launched a couple of docu-series. I realized that representing people and working at a Public Company are in direct conflict and I opened to launch my own Management Production shingle, THE ALTERNATIVE, when my five-year deal with Octagon expired.  No regrets at all.

SMC – Can you tell us which of your clients with The Alternative you have enjoyed working with the most and why?

John – Wow, at the Alternative I love them all! Seriously, Piers Morgan, Glenn Weiss, Nancy O’Dell, Mike Wolfe, Clem Burke, Rodney Bingenheimer, Carrie Keagan, Brian Copeland, Mark Walberg, The Beach Boys, JoJo Wright, Ari Afsar, The Tearaways, Millie Courtney, Paige Davis, Mark McGrath, The Calling, The Fulcos…. How much time do you have? It’s a privilege to work with such talent people.

SMC – You gave advice in your interview with Hollywood Immersive about how individuals should appear in their first meetings with your agency in terms of professionalism. Can you share some more insight on that with our readers?

John – Well just blow me away in the first 120 seconds. I don’t look for clients. I look for partners who are or who want to be stars. Shy doesn’t play, so make an instant impression. Also, don’t bring your problems into the room.

SMC – I saw in the ‘About’ section of your website, it states: ‘WE ARE PLEASED TO INTRODUCE AND WORK WITH THE MOST NOTABLE ENTERTAINERS IN THE INDUSTRY. WE DO THIS WITH EXPERIENCE, INSIGHT AND PASSION.’ Can you tell us what determines who is a ‘notable’ in the industry? What are your standards?

John – Great people, great projects, great attitudes. That’s where we start. I also like category leaders. But I look for people who will listen and who want it all. My standards are really about the character of the person, not that the person is a character.

SMC – You have just taken the famous Mayor of the Sunset Strip ‘Rodney Bingenheimer’ under your wing, can you tell us how that came about? When will you be able to reveal what projects/deals you have coming up for him? (can you tell we are excited about this?)

John – I have listened to Rodney on the Roq since 1978. I met him over the years, have loved what he has done for so many, many people. Clem Burke (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Drummer for Blondie, and the man who has played with us the last year) introduced me to a different side of Rodney. I learned Rodney was a deeply sensitive caring person who loves music and musicians. I heard Kroq was dropping his show (new management decision) so I called Rodney and offered to manage him for free and told him I would get him on the air within a month.  We just closed a great deal for Rodney to continue his show, Sunday nights in primetime on Sirius Radio on Little Steven’s Underground Garage Channel 21. One of my proudest deals ever because Rodney deserves to be National and I want everyone to experience what has made me happy for 39 years.

SMC – I have worked with some smaller newspapers and have a passion for Journalism in all its forms. One of your clients is Piers Morgan and I have to say, I admire that you have taken individuals not only from the entertainment industry, but also those who are behind the broadcasting of major world events. Can you tell us how this relationship began?

John – My relationship with Piers began over a bottle of inexpensive French Bordeaux at a party at Lady Caroline Michel’s flat in London and he’s become one of my closest and most trusted friends. I also shared the most expensive French Bordeaux with him the night we signed the big CNN contract. I’d take a bullet for him. We’re that close, and he’s that good.

SMC – You also have worked with Garth Brooks. Can you tell us what your best or most memorable experience was in working with him?

John – I love Garth Brooks. Greatest country artist of all time and up in the top three with Paul McCartney and John Lennon in my opinion. My greatest experience with Garth was in Vegas when I was producing his One Man Show Thanksgiving CBS Special with him. I suggested he put his Cowboy Hat back on for one of the numbers and he refused. Right before the show, he looked at me and said “ok, I will do it. If it doesn’t work, it’s your fault. If it does, I’m taking all the credit.”  It did, and after the crowd went crazy he looked my way and winked at me. He’s simply the best.

SMC – Can you tell us of a time where you were in complete awe of an industry peer/client?

John – Every day I am in awe of people in the business. Too many stories to tell, but I am in awe of any person who can balance a successful family, marriage and career. I’m envious.

SMC – At the end of the day we are all human. Can you tell us of an experience with a client or industry peer that made you see them in a different light aside from their celebrity status?

John – I’ve seen so many human sides. Clients who go through divorces who have to walk onto a set and smile like there’s no tomorrow while I know their heart is breaking. Many come to mind.

SMC – Have you ever had a real friendship develop with any of your clients?

John – I’ve had many friendships with clients. Piers Morgan, Glenn Weiss, Nancy O’Dell, James Ray, many, many, many. I’ve also had close friendships break up when clients look at me as their servant. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

SMC – In terms of your clients, what do you feel are the key factors in being successful in the entertainment industry?

John – Success in the industry – if you are a woman, know where you want to go and look fabulous when you get there! (Thank you, Leeza Gibbons, for that!). In general – success comes via hard work and preparation. Also, you need to trust your team. Without trust there will be failure.

The Tearaways
Photo – Collin Mathew Photography Liverpool

The Tearaways

SMC – Let’s begin with your connection to Rodney. Rodney is a legend and a true pioneer in the music industry in terms of discovering the ‘who’s who’ (such as Bowie, Blondie, etc.) I am aware that you have your own music career, The Tearaways as well. Can you tell us how supportive Rodney has been of your music?

John – Rodney Bingenheimer has always been a supporter. He started playing “Girls Who Love Cars” off of the Earle Mankey Sessions: Vol. IV CD and then he jumped on a number of other songs. He has gotten behind “Name That Tune”, “John Wayne”, “Bash”, “That’s Rock!”, “Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio”, “I Love My Life”, “We Don’t Talk We Text” many, many tunes. Our new Christmas song “Helluva Christmas” will be on his new Christmas CD. What can I say, the man’s a tastemaker!

SMC – Your new album ‘Esquire’ is a ton of fun! There are a lot of vintage rock influences woven throughout the lyrics and even in the instrumentation. Can you tell us what it was like to collaborate with some of the industry’s most notable such as Clem Burke?

John – Esquire” is a label of love. John Finseth (founder of the Tearaways in 1981 at 17) and I wrote about thirty songs along with Greg Brallier and we just tried to create a record that we would want to listen to over and over. Clem came in after I met him with the Empty Hearts and played about thirty shows with us last summer and fall and this winter. He came up and started recording and we watched it grow into something special. We also did some work with Jeffrey Foskett from the Beach Boys on Name That Tune (the theme to the new game show). We’ve been friends for years, and fans of Jeffrey’s and that was a thrill.

SMC – Which is your personal favorite song off this album and why?

John – My favorite song is one of five – “BASH” is just an old-fashioned romp and puts me in a good mood whenever I hear it. Hey we mention, Bash, IPO, The Rave-Ups, The 3 O’clock, Chesterfield Kings…. I mean, come on! “That’s Rock!” Is an autobiography of our early Santa Barbara days, “Much Too Old To Feel This Young” was inspired by Garth Brooks and his song “Much too Young to feel this damn old”, “I’m Just Trying to be nice” is the quintessential breakup song (it’s not you…. it’s really you!”) and “If I Had It” (just great vocals by Fin and Greg). I do the first ever Tearaway rap/Meatloaf rip off bit as well).

SMC – The album art is dynamic! David Russo is the brilliance behind the artwork on it and he has quite an impressive roster of accomplishments also. Can you tell us how he came up with the theme for it?

John – I met David through a mutual friend. Loved him and his work. We conversed for a couple of years and I just called and asked if we could use the vibe and characters from “What A Great Life” (WAGL) which he created. He said yes. The cover and design were all David.  I love it!!!!

SMC – When you are songwriting, where do you go to for inspiration?

John – As a songwriter I just look for inspiration. I have my favorites, but it starts with an idea and a melody for me. But it’s important to me that everyone be able to hum our songs. Mike Rogers told me that Japanese audience hum the Tearaways’ songs. That makes me feel really good.

SMC – The albums’ credits include this phrase: ‘A lot of sacrifice went into making this record so we hope you enjoy it and appreciate the spirit within which it is presented to the world’. We often hear how much has been put into the work by the Artists we support. Can you tell us what YOUR meaning behind that phrase is?

John – We loved making the record. We love the songs. We collaborated, we fought, we compromised but at the end of each song we high fived, hugged each other and shook hands. Being in a band is like being married to five of your ex-wives at the same time. But it’s as great high as I’ve ever experienced when it works. So, we are saying… “We love this, we hope you do to, and if you don’t love it we aren’t going to quit anytime soon!

SMC – I especially had deep appreciation for this phrase (also on the album credits): ‘When you’ve topped 40 in age, you can never be in the top 40 on the Pop Charts, but you can always be Top 40 in Life.’ With that being said, what would you say is an accomplishment that you are all proud of (aside from the album, of course)?

John- I am proud that a bunch of guys in their fifties can still rock, and sing and play with passion and that we all have our hair and none of us are grossly out of shape. I’m 57, but I feel 27! And playing with Clem makes me feel invincible. Fin is 53 but has the stamina of a 16-year-old in the studio. It’s a thrill to do this, while still having a very time intensive day job.

SMC – What has been the media response to your music in terms of Radio and Entertainment websites and blogs?

John – Knock on wood, the response to our music has been very strong. I just hope more people hear it. But we are gaining fans daily and that’s an amazing feeling.

SMC – What has the support been like among your peers? Family?

John – Our families have been wonderful and wonderfully supportive for the most part.  Unfortunately, my wife left me during the recording of this record. We will write about that on the next record! But hey, sometimes Bad things have to happen for the right things to happen.So, love is out there somewhere!!

SMC – Are there any tour plans for the remainder of 2017? Any festivals you will be attending during the summer months?

John – Yes. We are playing in Ireland and England in August and September. Also, a lot of California dates in September and October and November. We have two new Christmas songs that are done and we will push them hard this fall and winter. We played the Malibu Guitar Festival for the second year in a row. It was great. We would love to play more festivals!!

SMC – Where do you find your fanbase is the most concentrated in terms of countries and age groups?

John – Our fan base is early twenties to Sixties. More women than men. California, the UK, some Scandinavian countries and Australia. Slowly but surely, by the time we’re 80, look out!!

SMC – Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting process?

John – I write constantly. If I come up with an idea I write it down. I then usually write late at night or early in the morning. If I start a song I finish it. Then I bring it to the guys. But I also love to co-write with others and help them elevate their ideas and concepts. Lyrics are easy for me. Melodies are easy. I need help with arrangements.

SMC – What instrument do you create your music on?

John – I write almost exclusively on Guitar. I recently wrote two songs that started on my trusty old Hofner Club bass (A Little Bit of Love and King of “F” Mountain).

SMC – You have all played impressive venues in the USA and England, can you tell us which is your favorite and why?

John – My favorite venue is the Cavern in Liverpool. Because it’s the Cavern and the Beatles played there. The staff at the Cavern is World class. In Dublin, I love “Whelan’s”. In Santa Barbara, I love “Soho”. I’ve always loved “Molly Malone’s” and “The Troubadour in Los Angeles. I’ve always wanted to play “The Roxy”. But I will play anywhere with a stage and a great PA.

SMC – What is the reception like when you play live? Which were your most memorable live performances?

John – We played to 40,000 people in Liverpool one year. We opened with a Ramones song and they went nuts. It was magic.  People really seem to like the band know. We also played a show in Long Beach at the Petroleum Club to about 20 people and I loved it. Old people got up and danced. It was cool.

SMC – Can you tell us what your experience was like working with Earle Mankey?

John – I’ve worked with Earle Mankey going back to 1988. He is a collaborator, a great producer, engineer and I am thankful to call him a friend. He’s talented and compassionate. So, I feel good when I work with him. Earle been berry, berry good to The Tearaways!

SMC – Tom Hanks and Piers Morgan are huge fans of your art – can you tell us what their responses are to the new album?

John – Tom Hanks booked the Tearaways a number of times before I rejoined the band. Piers has been an ardent supporter coming to shows and tweeting in support of us. Piers does the voice of “James Bond” in our song “James Bond”. That’s cool!

SMC – I read in your band bio that ‘Recent TV appearances include NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, Tribune and The Arsenio Hall Show’…wow! Which experience was most memorable?

John – Any TV is memorable. Love it all. They can see us, they can hear us too! I’m in!

SMC – Will there be more creating in the next few years for The Tearaways?

John – We released “Esquire” May 29th, we have the next record in the can. We have two new Christmas songs and we will perform on the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Lots of Tearaway action coming to you!

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Personal Life

SMC – Aside from being a successful Television Producer, Artist and Talent Representative, what other characteristics or hobbies do you have?

John – I love animals. I love dogs. I help with dog rescues. I like all animals, but I love dogs. They are loyal, smart, they trust us, they are loyal. My goal in life is to be the person my dog thinks I am.

SMC – Who has been the most supportive of your career(s) other than family?

John – I have some friends and associates who have really supported us. It takes an infrastructure of love and support to make a band work. We’ve been blessed.

SMC – Can you recall an interview that was most memorable to you and why?

John – I loved my Hollywood Immersive” interviews and my talk/interview at UCSB a couple of years ago.

SMC – Can you list at least 5 talents/hobbies aside from your music career we don’t know about?

John – I play Tennis. I read avidly. I listen to music avidly. I love TV. It’s not the boob tube, it’s the Groove Tube to me. I love Tea. I really love Tea. I also love the News. I’m a news junkie.

SMC – Can you tell us what a normal day in your life would be like? Many of our readers idolize a celebrities’ life, but they don’t often know what goes on behind the scenes and how tough the industry can be….

John – I don’t have a normal day. I get up and all hell breaks loose. Every day since August 21st, 1991. I like it!

SMC – What kinds of pressures are there for you personally in keeping to a schedule in terms of your career(s)?

John – Many pressures. The industry kills relationships. If you are with someone who isn’t in the industry they don’t understand why you are a slave to your clients. If they are in the industry, they are jealous of your clients. Next, I will be a monk. Also, the hours put a strain on fitness. I work hard now to stay in shape. I want to live longer.

SMC – What kinds of charities or organizations do you personally support and why?

John – I support many dog rescues, but It’s a Dog’s Life in particular. I support a lot of AIDS Charities, Autism Charities, the SPCA and the like. Animals need our help. So, I go there first.

SMC – Can you tell us of a time where you were involved in a project and it just didn’t ‘feel right’? How did you handle it?

John – This happens every day unfortunately. Recently someone was disrespectful to my partner Jamie. He screamed “Do you know who I am?” I said “Yes, the guy that I just dropped.” I have no tolerance for Temporary people who make permanent decisions.

SMC – What does the term ‘truly successful’ mean to you?

John – Knowing that you’ve done things to change people’s lives forever in positive things. I call it Psychic Income!

SMC – Final question – if there was one thing in your life you could go back and ‘do over’ again, what would it be and why/why not?

John – I would have gotten up on stage at the Goleta Community Center and I would have sung “Sit On my Face Stevie Nix” with Mike Rogers.

SMC – Thank you John!

John – Thank you!!!

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Album Review

Bash – Right out of the barn gates (complete with lampshade on the head and party animals in tow), ‘Bash’ is a thrill-ride throwback to sunny beach days with the convertible top rolled down. The single word to describe this song has already been occupied by its title – a true reflection of this super catchy piece infused with guitar riffs and smashing drums that deliver like a punchy, warm, attack.

If I Had It – Now this tune is smooth as silk: the intro grabs my attention immediately and leads into instrumentation that takes me back to the music I coveted as a young girl listening to dynamic classic Rock songs on the turntable. It’s fun from start to finish. You can audibly hear these guys having a blast in the recording process of this song and listening to it allows you to be a part of it, almost as if you are there. Listen LOUD.

Hello Isla Vita – This is the song you hear in those movies where the little country girl arrives in the big city: it’s awe-inspiring. The magnificence is heard in the thunderous drums and gentle vocals throughout marking this ballad as the song you want to listen to when you are looking for adventure on a Friday night. Keep it in your weekend playlist for sure.

I Quit My Job – The lyrics here are laced with honesty throughout and is a true ode to the beach boy days where songs were executed with that gentle feel-good vibe. I give credit to the vocals in this one which are mellow but powerful in their impact. I recommend this one for cruising one a warm sunny day.

That’s Rock – We pick up the pace again with this track that is strategically placed halfway through the album. After the ‘Hello Isla Vita’ and ‘I Quit My Job’ mellow vibe, ‘That’s Rock’ picks up the pace with a groovy beat topped with impressive vocals. This song brings the party right back into the album.

My Bad – Ohhhhhh where do I begin with this slick number? The lyrics are strong right off the get-go. The instrumentation flows very well throughout and supports the steady authoritative vocals heard throughout. I envision a ride down sunset strip on a motorcycle when I hear this number.

Much Too Old To Feel This Young – If you want to get to the heartbeat of this album, this song is the one. The gentle tones in the vocals on this one illuminates the heart and soul. The song is perfectly placed in terms of the track order in this album as it gives the listener a true taste of how this band demonstrates a 360 degree turn in their style and instrumental composition.

Good Luck Lovin – What a fun one. The party continues with the catchy lyrics in this tune which, I feel, is an ode to The Beatles Cavern Club era days. The vocals are on point and the instrumentation is super catchy.  I think this one would be fantastic to hear live!

Find Another Fool – is a slower ballad that has a very slight ‘Bon Jovi’ style in the vocals and mood. I am talking the ‘Living on a Prayer’ variety here. Backup vocals on this are a perfect fit throughout and make this a unique composition. I quite like this one a lot.

I’m Just Trying To Be Nice – Hello Sir Paul McCartney! This is a gorgeous number and probably, my favorite off this album. I mean it, this album definitely touches on the scope of all eras of classic Rock and ‘I’m Just Trying To Be Nice’ is captivating in its overall composition. They lyrics, vocals, instrumentation – all of it is completely on point. Classic British Rock and Pop influences play a primary role here.

Name That Tune – Back we go to California! This is a short ballad that fares well among the 1960’s groovy pool party crowd. Can you see it? Once you have heard the song, you’ll know what I mean. Definitely a must for a playlist suitable to this nature.

Any Better Than This – The final song on this album is like the bow on a present: a complete picture of the who, what, when, where, and why of The Tearaways: they have been there, done that and there’s no regrets. This is a very heart-warming number.

Summary

Here’s my description of this album in its entirety: These boys are no strangers to this industry and it’s apparent in their cultivated sound. Listening to ‘Esquire’ is the kind of experience where you walk away feeling closer to these incredibly talented Musicians. They have exposed their hearts and souls vividly and authentically to their fans, comparable to them inviting you into their homes, having a couple of beers and shooting the breeze. It’s a warm, familiar, and fun feeling that leaves you satisfied long after the visit. Who doesn’t walk away from something like that feeling fantastic. That’s The Tearaways sound. Well done gentlemen!

People, have you bought the album yet? Get on it! 

Check out their live performance on Brian Copeland below:

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John Ferriter Social Media Links (click to view)

The Alternative Website

Twitter

The Tearaways Social Media (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Spotify

YouTube

iTunes

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The Tearaways Album Art by David Russo Photo Supplied by John Ferriter
The Tearaways Album Art by David Russo Photo Supplied by John Ferriter

The Tearaways Album Credits

THE TEARAWAYS –  “DW Hofner, Martin Gibson, Ludwig Rickenbacker, Marshall Gretsch, Earle Hammond & Vox Fender, esq.”

BASH

IF I HAD IT

HELLO ISLA VISTA

I QUIT MY JOB

THAT’S ROCK!

MY BAD

MUCH TOO OLD TO FEEL THIS YOUNG

GOOD LUCK LOVIN’

FIND ANOTHER FOOL

I’M JUST TRYING TO BE NICE

NAME THAT TUNE

ANY BETTER THAN THIS

Produced by Earle Mankey/John Finseth/John Ferriter

all songs John Ferriter/John Finseth/Greg Brallier/Clem Burke c. 2016/2017

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music ASCAP / Clem Burke Music ASCAP

except “BASH” – John Ferriter/John Finseth/Greg Brallier/Clem Burke/David Hekhouse c. 2016

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music ASCAP / Clem Burke Music ASCAP

except “NAME THAT TUNE” – John Ferriter/John Finseth/Jeffrey Foskett/Ralph Rubenstein/Clem Burke c. 2014

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music, ASCAP/Fos Q Music, ASCAP/Clem Burke Music, ASCAP

“I’M JUST TRYING TO BE NICE” – John Ferriter/John Finseth/Greg Brallier/John Ordazzo c. 2016

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music, ASCAP

“Whatever Happened To Rock And Roll Radio” by Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Joey Ramone c. 1979

“MUCH TOO OLD TO FEEL THIS YOUNG” c. 2015

“FIND ANOTHER FOOL” c. 2015

“ANY BETTER THAN THIS” c. 2012

John Ferriter/John Finseth/Greg Brallier

Feretic Music, ASCAP / Magma Music, ASCAP

THE TEARAWAYS

John Finseth – Guitar, Bass, Keys, Percussion & Vocals

Greg Brallier – guitar & vocals

David Hekhouse – guitar & vocals

John Ferriter – bass, guitar & vocals

with Clem Burke – drums & percussion

Additional instruments – Joel Mankey – horns, woodwinds, cool noises

The Tearaways are endorsed by Hofner Guitars

The Tearaways use Vintage Vox Amps, Vintage Fender Amps, Marshall Amps,  Hi-Watt Amps, Ampeg Amps, Hofner Basses & Guitars, Gibson Guitars, Rickenbacker Guitars, Fender Guitars, Martin Guitars, Gretsch Guitars, Silvertone Guitars, DW Drums, Gretsch Drums, Vox, Korg & Hammond organs, Human hand-claps, just about anything else in the studio that you can shake or hit

CD design and original artwork for the Tearaways by David Russo (WAGL =. WHAT A GREAT LIFE)

CD photographs courtesy of Collin Mathew Photography Liverpool, Ian Hanson Photography Liverpool, Joanne A. Calitri Beat artist Santa Barbara California and Martyn Daniel Still Image – we thank you all for your amazing work and friendship

A lot of sacrifice went into making this record so we hope you enjoy it and appreciate the spirit within which it is presented to the world.  Special thanks go out to our families and friends for their loyalty, love and support. All of our former bandmates for tolerating us and inspiring us to play and to all others who have inspired us in some way.

And a very special thanks to Earle & Jeri Mankey, John Ordazzo, Piers Morgan, Jamie Gruttemeyer, Rodney Bingenheimer from Rodney on the Roq, KROQ, KTYD, Alan Goldman, Patricia Kramer, Lin Aubochon, Billy Butler BBC Merseyside,  Mike Rogers WhatTheFunDay, Radio365 Network, Jeffrey Foskett, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Ron Dante, Bo Donaldson, Kenny Aronoff, Robin DiMaggio, Jimmy Paxson, David Raymond,  Eddie Munoz, Joel Mankey, Jesse Benenati, Perry Benenati, Daniel Orias, Stephen David Brooks, Jim Yukich, Cindy Kona, Ralph Rubenstein, Noah Rubenstein, Matthew & Gunnar Nelson, Mark McGrath, Charles and Mary Rook, Thomas Repicci, Merwyn Belin, Robert Matheu, Bob Hannam, Chantal Reeder, Marc Platt, Lianne Curtis, Millie Courtney, Robert Courtney, Bill Heckle, Jon Keats & theteam at the Cavern Liverpool The Greatest Club in the World, Blondie, the Empty Hearts , the International Swingers & Split Squad for loaning Clem to us, The Beatles, Chandler, Carly, Marc Chardon Rogers, Nick Wass, Cathy Harrison & Rob Olson from Hofner, Jim Lombard, Charles &  Mary Rook, Bootleg Blondie, Paddy, John, Bob Horrocks, Tony Barbados and Liverpool elite, Candy Kayne, Elizabeth M. Adger, our friends from Imperial Guitars, Norman’s Rare Guitars & Guitar Center, The Beatles, The Ramones, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Tom Petty, The Spoilers, The Rotters, The Jetsons, Trik, The Stingrays, 5 Cool What, The Pranks, Reverie, Aston Martin, Toyota, Mercedes, Honda, Ford, Chevrolet, Mr. & Mrs. Dog, Christine Brallier, Jack Brallier, Loretta Finseth, Dakota Finseth, Jade Finseth, Mack Finseth, Dave Humes, Tony Cook, Steve Heller, Mike & Jessica Lambert, the little Twerp, Cam Dafoe, Lisa Hekhouse, Cari Hekhouse, Shane Hekhouse, Kyle Hekhouse & the Ferriters,

Dedicated to E.L. Woody & Alan Massengale & every kid who has a dream to play an instrument or sing in public

In loving memory – of our family members who remain with us only in spirit & Timothy Bryson

“When you’ve topped 40 in age, you can never be in the top 40 on the Pop Charts, but you can always be Top 40 in Life.”

The Tearaways are represented by John Ferriter & Jamie Gruttemeyer at The Alternative

Olivia Penalva | SMC’s Teen Artist of the Year, ArtistMax, and ‘I Choose This Love’

In June 2016, Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) ran our first Artist of the Year (AOY) event with Adult and Teen Categories. The response to our event was astounding with final vote counts for all Artists in the thousands. Now, with the SMC Artist of the Year Season II amping up, we will be saying hello to a new Artist and our goodbyes to current ones: IAMWARFACE and Miss Olivia Penalva. But with all the mayhem that is about to go down in the next 2 weeks, our Artists of the Year will always be held in high regard and supported by the SMC platform. They are SMC Family, after all. In fact, when we look to the future of SMC and our annual events and the global attention within the industry, it would not be too far of a stretch to say we are considering a five and ten year Artist of the Year concert series. More on that later….

In the time that British Columbia based Olivia Penalva has reigned as SMC’s Teen Artist of the Year, she has launched an EP, performed across Canada live on several radio shows, launched several music videos, did a cover of The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’ which landed in a TV commercial in Greece, and has even attended an ArtistMax (www.artistmax.org) weekend in Los Angeles where she met with Award Winning Producer Ken Caillat and Award-Winning Artist David Foster. Part of the win as AOY on our platform was a VIP Scholarship to the ArtistMax event where Olivia was mentored by these industry peers (more on that in our interview below).

Recently, Olivia launched her new single ‘I Choose This Love’ a brilliant co-write with Robin Ghosh (more on that below too) over a David’s Tea and Smarties (yes, really!). The song is about how love pulls us through some of the most challenging times of our lives and is an absolute MUST for your playlists. In fact, we have added the song already to our Spotify playlists ‘SMC Editor’s Favorites’ and ‘SMC Spotlight Artists’.

In reviewing this single, I can say that this song is Olivia, evolved. Her earlier singles like ‘Ferris Wheel’ and ‘Outshine The Stars’ while inspirational and fun in their make – up (it was Ferris Wheel where I discovered Olivia after all in a Reverbnation contest SMC ran with Bongo Boy TV), ‘I Choose This Love’ is a step up for Olivia in terms of a more mature lyrical progression. Her strong vocal ability is never a disappointment in all of her music – it is consistent and fluid throughout. However, in ‘I Choose This Love’, you can audibly hear how she’s grown into her own and just like fine wine, she keeps getting better.

The video for ‘I Choose This Love’ is also evident of Olivia’s personal growth with a theme demonstrating the struggles and triumphs that a gay couple face in their heterosexual environment that surrounds them. Acceptance and disapproval are heavily woven throughout and lend power to the purpose of this song. I applaud Olivia for having compassion and fearlessness beyond her years in terms of addressing real issues in society today through her music such as in ‘Outshine The Stars’, a song about self-confidence and celebrating our uniqueness. Similarly, ‘I Choose This Love’ isn’t a video you would expect from someone so young in an industry primarily saturated with Artists focused on egocentric career advancement. It boils down to one thing: this is Olivia, and she will always dance to the beat of her own drum in terms of her music: she is fearless, selfless, and unafraid to make change in the world. Her goals are personally driven and not industry based meaning, she addresses the real issues in our world and not just what the music industry typically expects of someone so talented and young: a flowery, over the top ‘all about me’ glamour video. This is the stuff that makes an Artist celebrated by us on the SMC platform simply for their ability to adapt to their environment with grace, consistency, and integrity. She continues to be a beacon of light and hope to disadvantaged groups in society through her music – how can we not all applaud that?

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SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | Olivia Penalva

SMC – Hello Olivia! We have so much to talk about since our last interview! Let’s begin with your run as our TEEN Artist of the Year (AOY) – what was your experience like?

Olivia – Hi Candice, so great of you to do another interview with me. I am always grateful for these opportunities. It for sure was so amazing to have won AOY! Aside from the great spotlight you did of me and my music, I got other interviews and media attention and support throughout the year, not to mention the bragging rightsJ.

SMC – One of the benefits of becoming the TEEN AOY was being awarded a VIP Scholarship to the ArtistMax 3-day event in Los Angeles. You attended in late March 2017 – can you tell us about your experience with the weekend?

Olivia – That was definitely a fantastic prize to win. I got to go to LA and spend three intensive days working with very talented industry professionals and meet other artists. I had a terrific time. I was pretty nervous and not sure what to expect but enjoyed it, learnt lots, and made some nice friends as well.

SMC – We saw that you also met Grammy Award Winning Artist David Foster while you were there! Can you tell us what advice he gave that you took with you?

Olivia – Pretty cool to have met him. He is a legend. Basically he was straightforward and told us how hard this business is, which is probably better than sugar coating it.

SMC – What was it like to meet with our industry friends Ken Caillat and Bridge Gardiner?

Olivia – Bridge is super sweet and definitely made the weekend what it was. She seems to really enjoy these mentorship weekends and working with us artists. Ken Caillat is also a legend, and it is inspiring to be mentored by someone who worked with Fleetwood Mac and other greats.

Olivia Penalva, bottom row, far left, at the ArtistMax event in March 2017 where she met with Award Winning Producer Ken Caillat and Award Winning Composer David Foster. Photo Credit: ArtistMax

 

SMC – If you were asked why you would recommend the ArtistMax program, what would you say to someone wanting an understanding of the program?

Olivia – I would definitely suggest it to those artists who have not had a lot of songwriting experience, or who have not collaborated much with other artists. We were put in groups and had to come up with a song and perform it at the end. Working with 5 other artists for one main goal like that can be difficult, as everyone has a different opinion or style for what they see. It was pretty intensive. Also great for artists who have not had much if any studio time, as we got to record in the studio with Ken Caillat and his team. Though I have had quite a bit of experience with songwriting and working in the studio, I did enjoy working with other artists my age and collaborating together. We also worked with a vocal coach (Colbie Caillat’s) and a performance coach, and got to meet industry reps and managers. All in all it was a positive and rewarding experience. Thank you so much Candice for that!

SMC- Now let’s get into your Music – your new single ‘I Choose This Love’ is just beautiful in composition and sound. Did you write the lyrics for this song?

Olivia – Yes, I wrote this song last summer as an acoustic track with my favorite songwriter, Robin Ghosh. We write most of my songs together. I have written with several others, but Robin and I just seem to click and usually it is the songs we wrote together that I end up releasing.

SMC – Can you tell us five things about the making of this song that no one knows about? (they can be fun facts)

Olivia – Ha ha well I think the idea literally popped into Robin’s brain at like 3 in the morning, so later that day when we sat down to write, he told me about his idea, and a couple hours later, we had the song. I think we may have been eating smarties and drinking David’s tea when we wrote it… And I am pretty sure I had a candle burning in my studio to create the mood J. When we were talking about the song, we were thinking about how love gets you through stuff. Whether it be love of a partner, a parent, a friend, a child, and that being there for someone no matter what is what everyone is looking for.

SMC – What has the media support been like for this single so far?

Olivia – I have the best publicist who does an amazing job of getting my music some media attention, whether it be blogs, or interviews. Often from that the social medial support can spiral with shares on Facebook or twitter. This time Spotify actually added it at the time of the release to a new pop music playlist, which was awesome because it got me over 60,000 streams.

SMC – What was the fan support like when you released this single?

Olivia – I have some great loyal fans who like my music, so they were quick to comment on You Tube on my lyric video for the song that came out at the same time. I also had great support as I mentioned on Spotify and even SoundCloud, where I have a decent number of steady followers.

SMC – The video is equally as gorgeous as the song – who is the creative team behind the video?

Olivia – I am really proud of this video. It tells the love story that this song is all about. I have to give major credits to my Videographer Lee Watkins of LMW Photos. We were initially brainstorming for a video with all kinds of different love, but realized how difficult that could be in less than three minutes, and so we decided to focus on one love story and the ups and downs of that. The two main characters are actually friends of ours and did such a great job of sharing their love story and their dreams. Lee directed and filmed this over three days, and the results are so emotional and inspiring. Everyone in the video is from Vernon, and everyone just stepped up and either acted in it, or gave us locations to film at. We had an amazing team in front of and behind the camera.

SMC – Where and who produced this song?

Olivia – This song was ultimately produced by a young man named Alex Klingle, a Vancouver BC based music producer, composer, and sound designer who has his music roots in electronic dance. My manager met him at a music event and played him the track, and Alex was on board.

SMC – Who is your ‘go-to’ dream team?

Olivia – Well first of all, I have the best team ever!!! So not sure if I would need to dream one up, unless you are taking about song writing – Ed Sheeran all the way!! A duet with him would be pretty nice. Seriously though, I do have a great team and they are there for me whenever I need them, from my managers Andrew Allen & Julia Allen, to my writing partner Robin Ghosh, my Radio Promoter Scott Clements, my Videographer and Photographer Lee Watkins, my Publicist Sera Roadnight, and my beauty team, Brit Fisher and Jessie Voss.

SMC – What are your thoughts on being the only TEEN to have been supported as Artist of the Year on our Platform? We moved to an ‘adult only’ competition for Season II of these events….

Olivia – Well I would have to say AMAZING!!! And thank you! It is hard to be an artist, let alone a teen artist, as somehow our age always plays against us. I have often heard, too young, music is too young, not fit for the demographic, and make yourself look older… But instead I believe in myself and my art, and I write what I know, which changes as I grow up, and people respond to my music, so for those platforms that do support us teens, I am truly grateful.

SMC – We have seven Judges for the Artist of the Year event this month – Last year, we had five from various categories. Can you tell us if and what your connection was to last years’ Judges?

Olivia – Wow, that is a lot of judges. Well I can thank Candice for sure as she actually discovered me through another competition that my Ferris Wheel video won, through an SMC sponsored Bongo Boy video competition. Through the ‘SMC Artist of the Month Competition’, I got to know Randy Wayne Belt, frontman for Barley Station, who is super supportive of my music and even wrote a super nice article about it also.

SMC – I have seen that your single ‘Skyline’ was added to many radio shows last fall – can you tell us which stations you would like to acknowledge in this interview for their consistent support?

Olivia – I can’t believe how well Skyline did. It was chosen for the month of October 2016 as Bell Media’s iHeartRadio’s Future star at CHR, then chosen again in November for iHeartRadio’s Future Star at Hot AC and AC Radio. So it played across Canada on all Virgin Radio Stations across Canada, and SUN FM here in BC, Chum FM in Toronto, all of which was just so amazing. It also got played by several other stations, many of which are in Ontario and who have been great supporters like 103.1 FM in London Fresh, FM in Kitchener, Mix FM in Belleville, and Kiss FM and the Jump FM in Ottawa, to name a few. The Maritimes have also been good to me with spins from CING FM in Hamilton, CKCW FM in Moncton, the list goes on… I am so grateful to all of the stations who took a chance on me and hope they will continue to want to support me with my new single I Choose This Love.

SMC – Where do you feel the focus is with regards to your management team in terms of getting your music promoted to the masses?

I Choose This LoveI think it is to just keep on doing what we are doing, trying to put out good music that my publicist and radio promoter can get out to radio and social media.

SMC – Do you feel that platforms like Spotify or Pandora are the way of the future in terms of music play and getting your music in high rotation?

Olivia – It seems to be the way. Most of my music sales are from Spotify. ITunes is the no longer the favorite platform, and I guess platforms like Spotify do make it easier and I guess cheaper for listeners to find and compile playlists. I have a decent following on Spotify with almost 860,000 streams of my music. Spotify also create cool playlists and I have been lucky enough to have had Skyline Madlucky Remix included last year on a workout playlist, and I Choose This Love on a new music playlist.

SMC – We consider you to be a part of the SMC Family now and we will be looking at the possibilities of hosting a SMC Concert for charity in the next 5-10 years. What are your thoughts on that?

Olivia – Well thank you do much for thinking of me that way. I am honored and would love to be a part of your charity event!

SMC – Recently, Limehead Radio in the UK has reached out to SMC and have expressed interest in supporting the Artists on our platform – what do you think about being supported on a multi-media platform?

Olivia – I think that is fantastic. This industry gets harder and harder and so any support that one platform can get or give to another is valuable. Internet radio is getting popular as it is free for its listeners and often will play non top 40 tunes and indie artists, so a great platform for emerging artists to get heard.

SMC – Which Social Media Platform is your favorite?

Olivia – Personally I love Snapchat and Instagram. For music, twitter and Facebook still seem to be more popular, and of course the most effective is You Tube. This year I hit 1,000,000 views on YT and am almost at 10,000 subscribers. It is a great way to get noticed for your covers and then you hope your fans will like your originals too. You never know where a cover might lead. Last fall I did a cover of Every Breath You Take with a fellow artist, and randomly it was pitched by Universal to a client of their in Greece, and now it plays on a commercial on Greece. This has really helped my YT channel growth as I have a lot of new fans who either found me through Shazam of the commercial, or looked me up on YT. Very cool to have a growing fan base in another country.

SMC – Do you work all of your Social Media or does someone do it for you?

Olivia – I do it all myself, which means that sometimes I get behind in posting and sharing stuff, and thanking my fans for their love and support. I plan to use the summer to catch up and get on top of it.

SMC – What has been the best experience in your career to date?

Olivia – Wow, there are so many. Meeting and performing with Andrew Allen back in 2013, working with Brian West on Ferris Wheel, writing at the Toby Gad Studios in 2014 on Forgettable, being at the She’s the One comp in Ottawa 2014, Artistmax 2017, being on a billboard in Edmonton, winning iHeartRadio Future Star 2016. I feel very lucky for it all.

SMC – What has been a not so pleasant experience in your career to date?

Olivia – Radio visits where the MD or PD doesn’t seem really interested or asks some very hard questions. You feel so fortunate to be able to be welcomed into their stations and work so hard to show them your music, but sometimes it just doesn’t click and you have to be okay with that too.

SMC – Can you tell us which competitions you have won in the last five years? Which was your favorite?

Olivia – I have been in quite a few and made it pretty far, like top ten She’s the one at the Ottawa Blues Fest, winning top EP at the Independent Music Awards for Weightless 2016, top Holiday Song for Christmas For Two at the Independent Music awards 2016, Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 Video cover for H.O.L.Y. 2016, Ferris Wheel 1st Runner up in Radio Airplay Summer Music Comp 2015,  top 15 finalist in the International Song Writing Competition for Fight For You 2015, Artist of the Month and then TEEN Artist of the Year with SMC 2016. It felt great to get the results I did in all of them, but I can say winning the SMC Artist of the Year 2016 that was a real compliment as I was up against some real talent, and the prize to go to ArtistMax was so valuable, and SMC has since been just such wonderful supporters of my music.

SMC – How do you feel music competitions help Artists?

Olivia – First it gets the artist and their music out there for others to see. It also gives the artist confidence to put themselves out there. Winning feels very validating, but you also learn not to beat yourself up to much if you don’t win. Public votes are hard as it can really depend on many people an artists can rally to vote for them, and judge voted ones are very satisfying given that industry professionals validate your work. At the end of the day music is very subjective, and you have to take the negative that may come out of a competition and work harder and make your music better.

SMC – How do you feel about the kinds of Grants and Funding options available to Artists in Canada as opposed to other countries? Do you feel Canadians are at an advantage over other countries?

Olivia – I can’t speak for what is out there in other countries, but I can say that there are lots of grants available to Canadian Artists, you just have to know where to look, and work hard to put an application together to get them as you are up against other determined artist. Factor Canada gives away several grants a year for emerging artists, for marketing, for song production, etc. Storyhive gives away grants for music videos, I know the British Columbia, Canadian Government also now has grants for Artists. The application process can be overwhelming and using a grant writer often helps the process. I have been fortunate to have received a couple Factor grants and am so grateful for them as they are helping me continue my music journey.

SMC – Can you tell us about your song for the Salvation Army titled ‘Fight For You’? How do you hope to benefit this organization through this song?

Olivia – When I released the song in 2013, I was inspired to do something as that particular year we had a very cold winter and I just could not imagine what it must be like to have no home or shelter to go to. I knew that my impact would be small, but felt that whatever I could do I would do. So, I decided to annually donate any proceeds of the sale of Fight For You to the Salvation Army. We have had a couple good years where I was able to donate a couple hundred dollars a year. I hope to continue to give back where and how I can through my music.

SMC – You have a really cool section on  your website titled, “These are a few of my favorite things’ – some of those things listed in the menu are: Little White Lies, David’s Tea, Fluevog Shoes, Lush, Quay Australia, wildflower cases, Nars, Kylie Cosmetics, Aritzia, and mAAJI. Have any of these companies stepped up to become sponsors of your music?

Olivia – That would be a dream come true!!! Not at the moment, but of course I would welcome any opportunity. I am a big online browser of beauty and fashion goods. I love Pinterest as you can see so many beautiful things. And I love to write about those things, so I thought why not have a page on my website where fans can see what I am all about. I always have an online shopping cart full of items that I will never actually end up buying, but just love to look at clothes and makeup.

SMC – I see you have some tours coming up as well! Can you tell us the where and when of each date?

Olivia – Yes, I am excited to be touring a bit this summer. I will start of the summer on June 23rd in Edmonton at the ‘Edmonton Chante Festival’ at la Cite Francophone at 7:15 pm celebrating Canada’s 150 years. Then on June 24th I am performing at the ‘Works Art & Design Festival’ at Winston Churchill Square at 3:45 pm. I am also doing a cool local venue at ‘Predator Ridge on the Patio’ from 5:00 – 7:00 pm on June 27. Then off to New Westminster to perform at a Canada Day celebration at Queens Park at 11:35 am, then some private concerts until early August where I will do a sweet local event called ‘Jammin For Justice’ Wednesday August 2, from 12:00 – 1:30. Then back to Vancouver August 11 to perform at ‘Coquitlam’s Summer Concert Series’ where you can find me at 7 pm at the ‘Towne Centre Park Plaza’ Stage. And maybe a few more here and there.

SMC – Do you have any tours planned for the fall and winter months?

Olivia – I do have a couple private events in the fall, but not much else planned yet as I will be in my final year of school, and I like to use the fall and winter months to work on songwriting and potential releases, but I am always open to performing any time of the year if my schedule permits it.

SMC – Can you tell us about the possibility of an album or EP release in the near future?

Olivia – Yes well for sure a new single coming end of the summer, then working on potentially a full length album for next year. I have a lot of songwriting plans so hopefully something good will come out of it all!

SMC – Last question: If I were not pursuing a career as a Musician, I would be…….

Olivia – An interior designer!

SMC – Well Thank You Olivia! It has been a pleasure having you on our platform the last year as our TEEN Artist of the Year – we wish you all the best going forward!

Olivia – Thank you so much for your continued support. I truly appreciate it.

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Olivia’s Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube

iTunes

 

 

The Fontaines | SPOTLIGHT Series No.4 | ‘Two Bodies’ Exclusive Interview

In February 2017, Los Angeles-based Iconic Band ‘The Fontaines’ dropped their single ‘Evaporate’ on iTunes and are once again waking up the Music Industry demonstrating their incredible talent and consistently accelerating career toward the next level of fabulous. In fact, this is a band whose notoriety has been duly noted by the ‘who’s who’ in the industry such as Famous Radio Hosts Rodney Bingenheimer (KROQ – Rodney on the Roq in Los Angeles) and Mike Rogers (WhatTheFunday Inter FM Radio in Japan). The Fontaines had their (unreleased yet – we are waiting!) upcoming new single ‘Mercury’ spun on Bingenheimers’ last show ever on June 5th alongside the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Bangles, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Moon Kids (another SMC fave), Elvis Costello, Van Halen, and Blondie. Bingenheimer is the legend responsible for discovering and spinning many of these bands (including Bowie!) in the early stages of their careers so THAT’S our indication of just how cool these cats are. See why we call them Iconic?

Today, the band has released their newest single ‘Two Bodies’ to iTunes following the succession of their single ‘Vacant’ (April 2017, reviewed on The Chronicles here) just in time for summer. The song is yet another result of this bands’ ability to create something we all want to hear 365 days of the year and can be summed up in one word: Extraordinary. Let’s break that down to the effervescent sexy, seductive, and lilting vocals of Charlotte Fontaine who carries off lyrics that are equally as suggestive and powerful ‘Two bodies in motion…’. This wickedly talented frontwoman of the band has a style that has engraved The Fontaines’ sound into music history and into the hands of iconic radio and media platforms worldwide. In fact, the bands’ website goes by the address THATFONTAINESSOUND.com, a truly unique sound created with the epic guitar riffs of Hank Fontaine and Daniel Zuker (Bassist) complete with a beat that makes you move your feet by Drummer Chrystian Kaplan.

We are always awaiting the release of new music, and it looks like the wait will be not much longer – their upcoming single ‘Mercury’ will launch by the end of summer 2017. Following the successful launch of last Junes ‘ii’ EP and with the hint of a new full-length album on the horizon, we can’t wait! Even if your first listen of this iconic band is today, prepare yourself for something one of a kind and completely addictive also known as: The Fontaines.

We took a moment to chat with Charlotte Fontaine in an exclusive interview below:

SMC SPOTLIGHT! Exclusive Interview | The Fontaines ‘Two Bodies’ June 6th, 2017

SMC – Here we are again with another Numbered Series on our SMC SPOTLIGHT platform. This is number four for The Fontaines! Can you tell us what your connection to SMC and your experience to date with our media platform?

Charlotte – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again-Candice’s support of our music has been incredible and so encouraging. It’s because of people like Candice that I continue making music.

SMC – We were so thrilled to see you on the roster for the great Rodney Bingenheimer’s last show on KROQ (Los Angeles). So many legends have been on his show – can you tell us how you met with Rodney and what your thoughts are on ‘The Mayor of the Sunset Strip’?

Charlotte – Rodney’s a legend! I can’t believe he played us twice on his final KROQ show. What an absolute honor.

SMC – If you could give a shout-out to Rodney here, what would you like to say?

Charlotte – Thank you for playing us and for the sugar free cookies.

SMC – When can we expect to see your single ‘Mercury’ (as played on Rodney Bingeheimers last show on KROQ) hit iTunes? I am already wanting it on my playlist! (laughs)

Charlotte – Mercury’s gonna be released by the end of the summer!

SMC – Now let’s get into some discussion on your single ‘Two Bodies’ released today: I see that there seems to be a trend with the releases and I recall the last time we spoke, that another album was imminent…will ‘Vacant’, ‘Evaporate’, and now ‘Two Bodies’ be on the album?

Charlotte – We actually will be putting out two EP’s that were recorded a while ago that do not include any of these new singles.

SMC – One thing I have learned about The Fontaines is that you are never predictable. Can you tell us what kind of feedback you have received from industry peers in terms of your individuality as a band?

Charlotte – Thank you! I think that unpredictability is a sign of growing, which is all I ever want to be doing as a musician and as a person.

SMC – That was so nice to see you had included Rodney in your ‘Two Bodies’ video! Speaking of the video (and all your videos for that matter), can you tell us what the inspiration is behind this video?

Charlotte – The biggest inspiration for our “Two Bodies” video was a lack of budget! We shot it in a warehouse that’s being converted to our friend Zach’s new recording studio (Big Bad Sound LA), and on Hank’s iPhone. I love how dramatic the video turned out.

SMC – I have also noticed a trend on your YouTube channel: the ‘Trashy Version’ of your upcoming releases. I had a chuckle when I saw that. Can you tell us what the trend is there in giving these videos that title?

Charlotte – We decided to shoot some acoustic type performances one day but our camera guy bailed last minute. So, I took out my iPhone and started shooting us selfie-style. Thus began the “trashy” series.

SMC – I have mentioned before that I feel your music and brand speaks for itself. Some of the greatest Musicians really don’t have to sell themselves short or be aggressive and pushy with their Music. What are your thoughts on that?

Charlotte – Living in LA gives you the opportunity to perform any night of the week, for entirely different groups of people. Plus, you can go to Canter’s deli and meet Rodney Bingenheimer.

SMC – What are your thoughts on the kind of music that comes from the east coast – is there a bit of a different vibe that westerners create in their music as opposed to what is produced in the east?

Charlotte – I honestly haven’t experienced their music scene half as much as the one here on the west coast, so I can’t quite say.

SMC – Since we last spoke, ‘Evaporate’ was the topic for discussion. You have also released ‘Vacant’, a brilliant song! Can you tell me what was the inspiration behind this song? Was it a personal experience?

Charlotte – “Vacant” is about creepy guys at the bar who you can tell a million times “I’m not interested” or “I have a boyfriend” or “I’m married to my cat” and they’ll still keep pursuing you.

SMC – The video for ‘Vacant’ was pretty on point. (laughs) On a serious note: whose idea was it for the theme?

Charlotte – The girl featured in the video, our friend Fiona, actually directed it and came up with the entire concept. I think her work is brilliant and so unique.

SMC – When it comes to the creation of your music, do you find that you all have that ‘ah-ha’ moment when you begin to produce and record it?

Charlotte – With every song there’s either an “a-ha” moment or a “this is awful! we gotta drop this!” moment. Funny thing is when two different people experience different ones with the same song…

SMC – We are looking at doing a Social Media takeover for SMC in the near future. You are SMC Royalty in our opinion and want to have you hosted on our Social Media for a full day. Tell us of the kind of creative things you would like to do if we are able to facilitate this?

Charlotte – Royalty! I can’t wait to tell our mom we’re royalty. We’d love to take over the social media for starlight for a day!

SMC – Can you tell us what other cool gigs you have coming up for the summer months?

Charlotte – We’re playing a festival in August called “Musikfest” in Bethlehem, PA, and we’re booking some east coast shows around that!

SMC – You also released another video to your YouTube channel last week ‘F Buddy Holly (Voice Memo)’ which is soooo pleasing to the ears. Can you tell us if this song will also be included on the new album?

Charlotte – ‘F Buddy Holly’ was just a voice memo we recorded onto my phone one random day last year with our friend Scott from the band Street Joy, so we just put it up on YouTube for fun.

SMC – Can you tell me a little bit about the title of the song and what it means ‘F Buddy Holly’?

Charlotte – “F Buddy Holly” was just us censoring ourselves. It’s just a pun. I recall listening to a lot of Buddy Holly that day. But that’s me every day…

SMC –Ha ha! I thought as much. I really like that you have registered your social media and website as ‘That Fontaine’s Sound’, yet another unique little nuance we have come to know and love. What do you think are some of the most important things a band can do for themselves in terms of brand awareness and marketing their sound?

Charlotte – Biggest advice I have is to come up with a band name and spell it in the most unusual way possible… the amount of trouble we and friends of ours have gone through with other people under the same name…

SMC – Can you tell us who your go-to is in terms of Media platforms and collaborations in getting your new music out?

Charlotte – Right now I’m on a YouTube kick. I’m posting vlogs of our everyday life on their once a week as well as releasing new songs or “trashy versions” of songs on there.

SMC – Where do you think the music world is headed in terms of Radio? Many are saying that Spotify playlists are the way of the future. You have been listed on our Playlists ‘SMC SPOTLIGHT ARTISTS’ and ‘SMC EDITORS FAVORITES’. I also see that you have close to 18,000 monthly listeners! What do you think the benefits are for being placed in Spotify playlists?

Charlotte – Spotify has been incredible for us. At one point when “Evaporate” first came out we had 37,000 monthly listeners… Their playlists are just a convenient way for people to hear new music, all of my friends go there for new tunes.

SMC – How long have you been on Spotify?

Charlotte- Probably about a year?

SMC – We are really beginning to push our Spotify playlists for the Artists that we support and are quite happy with the response we have gotten from industry peers. We are even thinking of compiling a Christmas playlist as well in the month of November. What do you feel the public wants in terms of a great playlist?

Charlotte – The public probably wants what I want from a playlist-high energy, then maybe some slow jams, and a build back up to some fun hits at the end!

SMC – Finish this sentence: If I were not a part of The Fontaines, I would be ______________.

Charlotte – If I weren’t part of The Fontaines I would…still be going to Fontaines shows (winks).

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Band Members

Charlotte Fontaine (Vocalist)

Hank Fontaine (Backup Vocalist, Guitarist)

Daniel Zuker (Bassist)

Chrystian Kaplan (Drummer)

Biography

The Fontaines are a brother-sister duo based in Los Angeles, California.  Charlotte Fontaine (vocals) and Hank Fontaine (guitar) began writing new-wave influenced rock songs after growing up all over the world as kids.  The siblings are backed by Chrystian Kaplan (drums) and Daniel Zuker (bass) live and in the studio.

In 2016 The Fontaines performed at music festivals including Savannah Stopover, Canadian Music Week, Broke LA, and Make Music Pasadena.  In June, the band released their new EP, “ii,” which has gotten airplay on KROQ in Los Angeles.  The band is currently finishing up their debut full-length album, set for release in 2017.

The Fontaines Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Spotify

iTunes

YouTube

Bandcamp