I’m writing this to help me remember, but also as a guide for you to get some ideas on interviewing musicians.
1) Most indie musicians love writers b/c. it gives them more exposure, attention, contacts, etc. Knowing this will give you some confidence, be patient, positive, brief (don’t waste their time) – meaning, be direct and clear when you ask them for an interview.
2) You’re already at the show, you see the singer. Be proactive! You have to create your own breaks, stories…so go find them. Don’t waste a chance if your gut says go talk to THAT band.
3) At a show, you can approach in many ways, but always be respectful & handing over a nice looking business card, always looks good. State that you are writer, right off the bat, so they’ll probably get that you are there wanting to interview or get a quote for an article.
4) Nowadays, contacting a band through a website is actually a decent way to go. I have scored most of my interviews writing a direct e-mail to their official website, Myspace, Twitter, even Facebook. Social media does work for writers to connect with the artist….really!!
At first I would write comments & stuff on their site, and then the artists sometimes would comment back..huh? So, the more it happened, I thought, why not? E-mail directly and see if they want to talk, the worst they can do is say no or ignore your message. For example, if I get a response, I usually either try to meet when they next come to town, or I try to do a phone interview & set it up.
*The hardest thing about doing an interview is setting a suitable day & time. It can be frustrating if they have to re-schedule, etc., however, this comes back to the patience thing. If you want to interview an artist, it’s still awesome to have to interview, even if you have to wait a long time. But be persistent and patient. Remind yourself that musicians are busy, practicing, recording new stuff, so be prepared for example, if they say come to show I’ll talk with you after the show, and the show ends at 2am…you stay till 2am happily & do that interview to your best.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go through their indie record label reps, & that’s fine. You will probably have to go that route if they’re a big “indie artist”.
O.K. this blog is getting horrendously long, I could tell you a lot more things, so I might in a continuation blog.
The Examiner: article written by ~ Jason Chu
Dear New Celebrity Twitter users,
I mean this with the best intentions, but if you are fairly famous, and you haven’t gotten on Twitter already, you probably will have a bunch fakers with accounts posing as you. The trouble is, they will have a lot more followers than you. So how do you get yourself (the real celebrity) past the fakes you are posing as you, and get to be a “Verified account?”.
These tips and helpful hints are just observations I came across over my research (I used to write exclusively on Celeb Twitters). Also, I tried to put myself in “your shoes”, and realized that Twitter is not the easiest thing to use at first, so I can understand your dilemma.
The following tips are in random order:
a) If you are the real deal, you must know other “real deal” celebrities as friends. Contact them and see if they have a twitter account (doing this ensures you get their real account, and not follow a fake). Then start tweeting with those famous friends online. Most celebrities don’t tweet to regular folk so much, so to see a celeb tweet you shows that you could be who you say you are.
b) Following on point a) have your celeb friends tweet to their followers, “Hey everybody, you gotta follow my friend -insert your name here- cause they’re the best! (will get you a whole truckload of followers/being promoted by a celeb)
c) There are many applications to attach your twitter account with updates to another website to show up on the home page. So if you have a Myspace, Official Youtube channel, Facebook fan page, and your own home website, you can attach/link your new twitter badges to those webpages. It’s pretty much impossible for a “faker” to add their twitter to your official site (without your user/password), so if you did add your Twitter account to those pages, it would be strong proof that you are the “real deal”. On the other hand, you could just write the twitter account link on these pages, and that would work well too!
d) Contact the Twitter’s twitter –> @Twitter or look for an e-mail to contact them & verify who you are. To be honest, Twitter doesn’t seem to verify any celeb with less than 10,000 followers, so might have to employ regular tactics till than 🙂
e) Put up recent pictures – this will gain you a lot of followers. Celebrities currently favor Twitphoto, but some use Twitpic as well (just go to their websites and sign up). This is tricky! Any photo on the internet can be copied, and uploaded on Twitpic (probably Twitphoto too), this allows fakers to impersonate you further by using photos already out there on the net.
e2) For example, if you tweet: “In the studio working on blah blah song” and you take a picture in the studio, this will help prove you are not a fake (b/c. this photo wouldn’t be on google, and basically nobody could go in your studio and take a picture of you unless you okayed it). So the point is: take a picture that helps prove you are who you say you are, and put it up on Twitpic or Twitphoto.
f) If you’re into using U-stream or other forms of live video via internet, you can tweet this, & totally give your followers full belief it’s you b/c. why else would you tweet & than go & online for streaming video?
G) Talk about your upcoming projects, songs, shows, videos, whatever, but nothing that would be breaking confidentiality with your employer. What this does is builds trust between the fans & you. As well they’ll be like this must be who he/she says they are b/c. they keep giving this accurate info. So than fans retweet to their followers, and like a balloon needing helium, your twitter account will fly up in the air as the “real deal”.
H) If you do these things, I guarantee more people will believe you are the real celebrity account, and you will gain a fair number of followers, and you would have a better chance of getting verified (be pro-active and write @Twitter, or other twitter accounts.
O.k. that’s all I can think of right now, but if you want to reach me for further advice, you can reach me at:
The Toronto Independent Music Awards (T.I.M.A.’s) occurred in late June, and Beth Moore was one of the acts playing that night, and an article was supposed to be written at the time. In typical independent writing/blogging fashion, it didn’t quite get done, however, it lead me to her next show on August 11th, 2009 at Mitzi’s Sister in Toronto.
First of all, who is Beth Moore? We surely aren’t talking about the pop/punk mega-star “Pink” whom we all know Beth Moore is her non stage name. Well, Canadian local, Beth Moore is an indie/folk singer/songwriter who mixes many styles most notably indie rock, folk, Americana, Blues, etc. About two years ago, was when I first heard Beth’s music and I could tell right then, she had a unique sound and a strong voice. Over the past couple years we’ve kept in touch on Facebook and from time to time I’ve heard her new songs posted online, and am impressed by her developing musical style.
Remembering that night at the T.I.M.A.’s was special as Beth Moore played live with a full backing band, which was unusual to see (she plays solo acoustic most nights). So, I grabbed my note pad (not taking my laptop into a bar/club) and scribbled a bunch of notes throughout the night.
I came a little early to ensure I wouldn’t miss her performance and happened to see a great rock band Japhy that was getting the energy of the intimate crowd quite high. At about 10:50pm Beth Moore took to the stage, and I was excited to hear her perform live.
They were introduced as, “The Beth Moore Band.” They brought a mix of sounds and styles, but one thing was unmistakable, Beth’s fiery power vocals. Again, after hearing her mostly singing soft acoustic lullaby guitar numbers, it was quite jarring and impressive to hear her let loose on a song. The band was solid and definitely filled out the sound. She has a unique vocal style and voice that would be comparable to: Sarah McLachlan, Sinead O’Connor, and a healthy dose of Ben Harper. The keyboards in this group really add another element to their sound. The real emphasis is on Beth’s vocal talents mixed with the interesting songwriting and lyrics of their music. Anyway, in their half hour set they showed a lot versatility with their band and the music.
To show support, Beth Moore was having another show on August 11th, 2009 at Mitzi’s Sister in Toronto, which i went to. Also, on the bill was the Peter James project. Beth played first, and again she played solo acoustic, but what missing from the bigger band experience was the funny performer side of Beth Moore. Her jokes and stories made great interludes between songs and kept it memorable and interesting. It’s doubtful anyone one there will forget her “Mandarin 10 hr gig” story. She debuted some her new songs live and they were all well crafted songs, but sometimes wondered what the song would sound like with the backing band. Anyhow check out the video links below to see Beth Moore play live at Mitzi’s Sister.
The Peter James Project is an Irish/New Zealand/Toronto mix band that plays a pop/rock/ska sound with influences like: Crowded House, The Smiths, and the Dave Matthews Band. As luck would have it, though traffic caused me to be late by half an hour, I missed none of the shows. The HD camera was brought for some filming, but it was uncharged, however, some footage was still captured of Beth Moore and the Peter James Project. The Peter James project was technically crisp and band had their chops down. Peter James vocals were crystal clear and the lyrics were easy to follow. Take a look and listen.
By: Jason Chu
Interview Questions for Esm ée Denters with Tweeple Magazine (06/25/09)
Interviewer: Jason Chu (Writer/Contributer), Karen Pentke (Contributer/Notes)
*In a conference call by phone, Esmée and I talked about a range of topics, from family, to Justin Timberlake, advice she’d give others, etc. Since it was a long distance phone call, we did not have a device to record the interview for playback later, so we (Karen and I) relied on memories of the call, and our notes. After each question there are two sets of responses: the text that is bolded is from my paraphrased memory/writing, and the jot notes points belong to Karen’s handiwork. They always say two heads are better than one! Thanks so much Karen for all the help!
- 1. How do you think you will deal with being on the road/away from your family for so long? On tour?
*Esmee: It will be difficult, miss family, but the people she’s with on tour is like family.
– I will keep in touch via email/phone calls
– It keeps me in control to stay in contact with them
- 2. How do you not get so overwhelmed by all the attention/business that has changed your life with being a successful singer performer. How do stay grounded, and not let other things change who you are.
*Esmee: I’m the same person as I always have been
– I’m excited about all of it
– All the attention can get “weird”
– “I’m just Esmee”
– Family keeps me inline and grounded
– Happy with everyone who is working with me, they work very hard.
- 3. Once you were getting attention on Youtube, how did you get discovered by Justin Timberlake? Can you tell us that story
*Esmee: Lot’s of record companies/labels started calling me, and Justin too…he invited me to a concert, and I met him backstage, and played a song on the piano “How come U don’t call me anymore.” It was an old song I’d had done for years, and because there was a piano – it was a good song to do/play.
– Youtube, I had record labels calling me, I thought it was like a joke at first.
– Management then called me, I met with them and JT wanted to meet with me. I went to JT’s Chicago concert, met him backstage, sang a song on piano.
– 1 month later I was signed!
– I chose to play that Prince song b/c “It’s a great song!” and I knew how to play it on piano
- 4. How much a big brother mentor figure has Justin Timberlake been you since you started working together? It seems that he has had a very positive effect on your development as an artist. Tell me how Justin has helped you?
*Esmee: It’s funny because it’s almost exactly as you said. He has been a big brother to me, showing me things, about the music business.
– Older brother figure to me
– I look up to him, and aspire to be like him as an artist
– I wrote a lot of my songs on my album, JT had input on my record as well
– “What better person to learn from than Justin Timberlake?!”
– JT tested me to see if I had what it took/handle to perform, he got me to perform with him even before my record was recorded
– He wants the best for me
Does he push you or does he kinda know what you need in order to grow?
*Esmee: Yes, he challenges me like the first time I went on stage to perform in front of thousands. It forces me to rise to the challenge.
- 5. It has been said, that you are the first Youtube artist to go from a Youtube channel directly to performing on a major stage (with Justin Timberlake). Seeing as you are a Youtube veteran, what advice could you give the thousands of teenage girls who look up to you from around the world, who are now trying to emulate what you did (film themselves singing cover tunes).
*Esmee: I have been around music my whole life, singing, playing, so I encourage them to keep at it, practice, if it what they want, to go after it, make videos, etc.
– “Dare to put yourself out there, to do what you love, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t happen the 1st time around… it can happen in many ways”
– i.e. Talent shows, YouTube etc.
Album related Questions
- 6. Just wondering, I have been in a choir & have been around music my whole life. Your voice is amazing, it is a gift. So, I wondered did you have any musical training or played any instruments whiled growing up in the Netherlands
*Esmee: Actually only once did my parents sign me up for vocal lessons, but it didn’t work out. Now, that I’m signed and doing this as a career, I do have a vocal coach/teacher/instructor who is helping with my voice. His name is Dave Straut
– Since I was a little girl I have always wanted to be a singer
– It was too expensive for training lessons
– I listened at home to many of my fav. Artists, from listening really
– Now, after being signed I have a vocal trainer: Dave Straut
– Helps to take care of my vocals – thank goodness
Esmee: I’m so thankful that in the years I was untrained I didn’t do any serious damage to my voice when singing.
- 7. You said in your Making of the Outta Here video, that it was difficult to sing, what do mean by that musically?
*Esmee: It was just different than any kind of song I’m sung before, it was a different style, so I had to get used to it, practice it till I got it!
– Song was challenging to sing at first, more of a “Rock way” music
– But eventually, listening to it now, I see that “I made it my own”
– I said to myself – “I know I can do it now”
- 8. It seems your tour is going across Europe this summer, when do you plan on coming over to North America?
*Esmee: Oh we will be coming to the U.S. and I would really like to come to Canada too! Canada is one of the first places to catch onto my music.
*Jason: We in Canada really like international music
*Esmee: We will definitely come over to U.S./North America on a tour before the end of 2009. No specific dates yet.
– I am signed for North America, once after Euro tour over
– I will be there before the end of 2009
– I was in Toronto 4 months ago – I liked it a lot
– Looking forward to going back to Canada – (T.O.) “It’s clean, nice and modern”.
- 9. I quote from your writing on your Myspace page, –
Hi, my name is Esmée. I’m 20 and from wherever you are reading this, no matter how far away or what country you live in, we are now… connected. My question is…what do mean we are now connected. Does have anything to do with Twitter, Myspace, Youtube, Facebook, etc., etc.?
*Esmee: Yes that we are all connected now, it’s so easy to stay in contact, e-mail, youtube, I read my fans messages.
– b/c internet everyone has access for ex. To my videos
– I am here b/c of my fans – (fans) “They made it happen!”
– Keep connected to my fan’s websites – they root for me – “I want to make them proud and do my very best.”
- 10. When you sang Follow My Lead onstage with Justin Timberlake what was that experience like? Was the recording just a live recording or did you redo one in studio?
*Esmee: It was so amazing, sort of surreal because I’d never been on stage like that, seeing Justin interacting with other musicians/artists, and singing and dancing. I found it hard to believe that I was standing next to (people in her pictures).
– JT did charity concert and invited me there (flew me over)
– My 1st time performing on stage
– To think all these famous people like 50 Cent, Liona Lewis – “
– All these icons! It was great!”
– It was Live recording
Closer/Finishing Interview Questions
- 11. Who are favourite actors/celebrities?
*Esmee: Jaime Foxx – he is so funny and talented, etc.
– Jamie Fox – my fav. Movie is Ray – he was amazing!
– Like also that he is a singer and actor
- 12. Do you plan release/make music & albums in your native Dutch language, as some others do?
*Esmee: I don’t yet, at this point in my career, I’m just excited to go out on tour and perform.
– In the future – “Outta Here” has been recorded in Fin, or a foreign language
- 13. What does Esmee Denters like to do in her free time, when she is not making mega selling music hit songs?
*Esmee: Same as everybody else, I like to hang out with my friends, go out to restaurants, watch movies, go shopping, make videos for my Youtube channel.
– “Normal stuff”… like going to movies with friends, having dinner, shopping etc.
- 14. What are you look forward to the most on your upcoming tour of Europe?
*Esmee: I can’t wait to just perform onstage. The opportunity to get up close to the fans, and see them. I appreciate them wanting to come see.
“Getting my music out there”
Jason: *Thank you so much for doing this interview with us here at Tweeplemagazine, and I hope you like the article I wrote about you! Yesterday!
Jason Chu (@Chodidees)