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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Sammy Brue Social Media (click to view)

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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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Meresha’s Social Media Links (click to view)

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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