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 funny thing is at the Examiner website, my topic is Canadian music, which is a large and broad topic, however, I’m not allowed to write about anything else. This of course leaves out many great musicians/indie bands out there. So, I’ll use this blog to put up some cool new “foreign” music that I’m not allowed print at the Examiner.com/Canada.
You know that saying, “when you least expect it, you get it!”, well that saying goes far in explaining how I got introduced to this next band’s music. Normally, it’s myself trolling through the internet, music sites, listening to songs, looking for that group that just shines & sparkles. Oftentimes it’s few and far between. This time the band, found me on Twitter. I usually find my way listening to most of what people send me, but realistically I only time to write about a certain number of acts.
There are many ways to look at indie: just starting out & trying to find their sound; those that are starting to turn heads & have the talent, and are gigging like mad to make it (at this time they are pretty much ready); Indie/underground groups that have been around so long that they are very respected, but shameful they didn’t break through into the mainstream.
I would class the Junior League band in the second category, as they certainly are up and coming, but they bring a throwback roots/americana/country/acoustic sound. The Lissy Rosemount (the singer) stands out from the pack as her soulful voice that is truly unique, & the band has that polished sound that comes with many performances together. Anyway, you can check out their videos for yourselves. I chose: South Carolina Blues and Kiss You In The Morning b/c. they are more their “music videos”, the other clips are more raw performances.
Junior League Band- South Carolina Blues
Junior League Band – Kiss You In The Morning
If you want to see more, or leave a comment with them, check out these links:
Junior League Band’s Official Homepage: http://www.juniorleagueband.com/
Junior League Band’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/JuniorLeague
Junior League Band’s Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/juniorleagueband
Junior League Band’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/JrLeagueBand2
Dawn Langstroth exclusive article (The Examiner)
Written by: Jason Chu
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:
Halifax, Nova Scotia
~ 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)
Name: The Myriad
Major/Indie/Unsigned: E1 Entertainment (Formerly Koch Records)/Epic Records
Album: With Arrows, With Poise
Overall Rating (out of 4): 3
Musicality – This is a band that likes to challenge themselves with their music. They create interesting variations and layers to their songs, which add a delicious texture and makes the music always interesting. Also, you notice they mix with some sampled electronic sounds, but never overdo it to take away from their indie rock sound.
Singing – Jeremy’s vocals are subtle, but have a distinct character in his voice, almost a bit like Thom Yorke of Radiohead (meaning softer sounding breathy tenor vocals). I like how he doesn’t try to over sing, but has a good voice and knows how to use it. I would find it a little more interesting if he could vary his vocal dynamics and tones, just to bring some variety and liven up the vocals at times. As well, in the few tracks where they made the keyboard a focus, it really added a missing element (middle) with it’s melodies and chords. I wish the keyboards would be in more songs.
Lyrics – Their lyrics are very poetic and you need to search a little for the meanings to make sense to you (thinker’s lyrics). Even with the lyrics on a sheet, it would still take a few listens to adequately understand what “The Myriad” is saying. That’s a compliment.
Flow/Rhythm – Mellow/chill/cool/indie rock is what comes to mind when I think of “The Myriad’s” music. It’s music you would chill to, or even study to, and read a book to. I would almost think they are a slightly more rock sounding “Coldplay”. So, they do have a quieter vibe, but it works.
Freshness – It is pretty decent, but I think you need to be careful with the chill rock/alternative/indie sound. There are just so many people doing that style that you need really have some strong qualities in different areas to stand out.
Technicality/Recording – I’m not sold on the recording here. I think the engineers could have done a better job with the mixing. For example, i think most songs mix the instruments in a way that doesn’t maximize the best sound for the listener. The drum cymbals completely drown out the vocals, and the instruments cover the vocals a bit, which isn’t the greatest if you are a “lyrics” listener. But I’m just being nit-picky! All in all, great music!
Visuals – Top notch Myspace page. Excellent Youtube channel. Their homepage for the band is very good! No complaints on the online presence/marketing. The only thing is if they get twittering/tweeting, it will help them even more!
Top #2 Songs:
1. A Thousand Winters Melting (Just a great song, musically, lyrically, and it makes you feel good when you hear it!) – Unfortunately there was no video/live performance that I could find of this song. So I’ll choose a third.
2. You waste time like a grandfather clock (A great mix of rhythms, effects, dynamics, and amazing lyrics – just a compelling song; one that I would want to listen to multiple times).
2. A Clean Shot (A well balanced track, a bit New Wave-like, driving drums & bass, catchy vocals)
~ Jason Chu
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
Name: Princess Superstar
Genre: Visual/Experimental/Zouk/Flip Flop
Major/Indie/Unsigned: The Corrupt Conglomerate Inc. (Indie)
Album: Mitch Better Get My Bunny (Demo tape, 1994), Strictly Platinum (1995), CEO (1997), Last of the Great 20th Century Composers (2000), Princess Superstar Is (2001), My Machine (2005), The Best of Princess Superstar (2007)
Released: Grandmaster Flash – The Bridge: Concept Of A Culture (Compilation of artists) March 2009
Overall Rating (out of 4): 3.5
Musicality – Princess Superstar is experimental to say the least! Her music transitions through genres of music within a song. Mixing her DJ techniques to add twists to conventional beats. The backing samples and effects are just the right amount without overdoing it. Her breakdowns, bridges, and interludes always seem to progress the song and take it somewhere. It’s great when you see artists really improve over time when you look at his/her body of work. Full marks here.
Singing/Lyrics – Her raps, rhymes, and lyrics are ridiculously good! Her rhymes are so funny and intelligent, yet they are tight and on point. She really knows how write a song and rhyme that is distinctly her, nobody else could say it the same way.
Flow/Rhythm – The tunes are very creative hip hop that is slightly outside of mainstream, which means she really experiments with her songs to show her wide range of skills (DJ/emcee/rapper). Kudos!
Freshness – She definitely has an original style and ultra creative music that mixes elements of hip hop/old school/DJ work to make a unique hybrid sound.
Technicality/Recording – Solid recordings, but some songs are mixed to different levels to vary the sound. It’s interesting experimenting, but sometimes the quieter songs lose some crispness, but oh well.
Visuals – As far as I know, she doesn’t have a Youtube page, however, her many fans have posted videos of her performances. On Myspace she has a great page with songs, links, updates and some real cool pictures! She also has her own website (all web links at the top), which she shares more songs, but most importantly has a blog that she posts in regularly (i.e. healthy food eating stuff, etc.). Finally, she has twitter too!
Top 2 Songs:
Very difficult to choose 2 top songs, since every song is pretty good, but since I have to, I decided to choose these 2 songs
1. My Machine (An amazing track with a cool bass/beat rhythms mixed with her super high quality rhymes, lyrics, and rapping) Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any video of this song.
2. Perfect (Exceeder) – Mason vs. Princess Superstar (Just an amazing remix of a song where the original was superb already! This song shows more of her DJ qualities)
2. Bad Babysitter (Uses a real cool jazzy hip hop loop. A very interesting funny lyrics, with a goofy video to go with it!)
~ Jason Chu
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.