Interviewing indie music artists

February 14, 2010 at 3:36 am (Musings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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.

~Jason

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10 years of waiting for…Dawn Langstroth

September 18, 2009 at 1:07 am (Indie Artists, Music Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dawn Langstroth exclusive article (The Examiner)

Written by: Jason Chu

http://bit.ly/2a6dqw

Dawn Langstroth "Highwire" will release Sept. 25th, 2009

Dawn Langstroth "Highwire" will be released Sept. 25th, 2009

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Beth Moore Performances & the Peter James Project

August 24, 2009 at 9:20 pm (Music Reviews, Unsigned Artists) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Beth Moore Band

The Beth Moore Band (photographer: Brad Moore)

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.

Beth Moore

Beth Moore (photographer: Brad Moore)

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

http://www.linkedin.com/in/chodidee

http://www.google.com/profiles/Jason.Chu18

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Rubberheadbanditz

May 30, 2009 at 1:05 am (Music Reviews, Unsigned Artists) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

http://www.myspace.com/rubberheadbanditz

http://www.youtube.com/user/rubberheadbandit

Name:  Rubberheadbanditz (Hovedstaden, Denmark)

Genre: Electro/Pop/Rock

Major/Indie/Unsigned: Unsigned

Album:

Released:

Overall Rating (out of 4): 3

Musicality – They produce a very rhythmic sound, with thudding punchy basslines, weaving guitar lead licks, and catchy vocals. I love the variety of sounds that mix together from real instruments to synthesized sounds. For example, they use the tambourine (works well!), in other tracks they use monkey sounds and even a cash register opening closing. Very creative songwriters!

Singing – Clear vocals make all the lyrics simple to hear. They have strong singing vocals, but not only that, they mix it up with rap rhyming, talking, and even a little beat boxing. You will not be bored by the vocals.

Lyrics – Entertaining, humorous, and witty. These guys sing about regular issues that everyone deals with (i.e. money problems, stress, etc.), however, these guys put a fun spin on these themes. Just listen to a their songs, you’ll know what I mean.

Flow/Rhythm – Rubberheadbanditz definitely have a funky groove that is very catchy. I’m sure it would get a whole lot of people dancing, jumping and partying to.

Freshness – Oh yeah, they have a fresh sound. I would say their sound is pretty unique and the closest similar musician that I can think off the top my head would be: Fatboy Slim and maybe Beck. It calls down to would listeners want to listen to their music repeated times, and I’m pretty confident they would playing it over and over in their Ipod’s.

Technicality/Recording – A very professional sound, especially considering all the effects, samples, and real instruments that they had to mix together.

Visuals – Rubberheadbanditz are just beginning their marketing and branding on the internet. They have a good Myspace page, however, they could spruce it up with some more graphics and visuals, but a good start. As well, they just started their own Youtube channel in April 2009. So, they are getting their music out there, it’s just a matter of time before people catch on. I just encourage them to keep performing, writing new music, putting more music on the internet, and maybe start an internet “street team”.

Top 2 Songs:

1. Revolution! (Crazy beat boxing with funky sonic jumping track, with Zack de la Rocha sounding vocals) Unfortunately no videos or live performances of this song yet!

2. Stress (Super catchy tune, rhythmic bass & beats, and the vocals tell an interesting story)

2. Remember Me (Funky synth bass groove, catchy vocals, and of course tambourines!)

~ Jason Chu

@Chodidees

http://www.myspace.com/chodidee

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Elyse and the Aftermath

May 24, 2009 at 3:01 am (Music Reviews, Unsigned Artists) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

http://www.myspace.com/elyseandtheaftermath

http://www.youtube.com/user/ElyseHaren

http://twitter.com/Elyse411

Name: Elyse and the Aftermath

Genre: Pop/Rock/Alternative

Major/Indie/Unsigned: Unsigned

Album: Shut up and Listen!

Released: August 2008

Overall Rating (out of 4): 2.5

Musicality – The band plays in an understated way, but it’s solid. Nice keyboard work in the songs, I would encourage using them more! The vocals definitely take center stage with Elyse and the Aftermath. The sound of the band sort of reminds me of “Heart”.

Singing – Elyse has a great voice, very strong & clear for rock bands (Her singing sounds a bit like Bif Naked, just less edge though). The background vocals are good, but they could use some more and maybe even add in harmonies.

Lyrics – Straight forward, no hidden agenda to the songs. Crystal clear rock lyrics!

Flow/Rhythm – This one is tricky, they are mid – tempo rock (neither too fast/heavy, or too slow/ballad-like), that can make it tougher to breakthrough (my observation is that the heavier rock or pop-like bands have an easier way).

Freshness – It’s good! I just would probably spruce up the backing band sound, maybe add a little more distinction on the guitar leads, and punch up the riffs.

Technicality/Recording – Excellent, a good clear mix.

Visuals – Elyse has a good Youtube channel set up with a lot of videos, which is great for fans. The band’s Myspace page is really good, and has all the features that any major label artist would have! As far as image, the Myspace page made think they were going to be goth band, which they’re not, however, that’s minor quibbles! Plus Elyse has a Twitter account, so you can keep up with the band and their next moves!

Top #2 Songs:

1. One Photograph (Very catchy, love the singing lyrics, and it is just a good rock song!)

2. Damaged (Great song & lyrics, they perform it well!)

~ Jason Chu

@Chodidees

http://www.myspace.com/chodidee

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Todd Carey

May 21, 2009 at 5:39 pm (Indie Artists, Music Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

http://www.toddcareymusic.com/

http://www.myspace.com/toddcarey

Name: Todd Carey

Genre:  Acoustic/Pop/Rock

Major/Indie/Unsigned: Indie (probably not for long!)

Album: Elevate (2003), Revolving World (2005), Watching Waiting (2007)

Released: New album coming in 2009

Overall Rating (out of 4): 3

Musicality – Top notch! I think he used studio musicians and friends as well as himself, so of course it sounds good! When you’re solo artist, it’s hard to get your backing band together. I wonder if he composed all the arrangements? They are very good, catchy, and poppy in all the right places!

Singing – He has a very good & clear voice, and it is easy to hear his lyrics. He’s got a bit of bluesy/jazzy/touch of country feel in his pop singing, which gives it an interesting mix (a hybrid sound). Again, the music as a package is well worth hearing over and over again.

Lyrics – His lyrics are fine for pop songs, easy to follow, and easy to learn and sing-along too!

Freshness – Freshness is hard to do especially when you are in the acoustic/pop/rock mode (as there are so many musicians doing that angle), however, Todd brings a nice package in his sound. The music is always positive, and it draws you in, makes you want to listen to it more. Plus there is enough diversity of songs (not all sounding the same), that keep you from being bored.

Technicality/Recording – Awesome, as pro sounding as I can think of in an Indie artist. Equalized to accentuate to the best of effect for all the instruments mixing with the vocals. Superb!

Visuals – His Myspace page is pro, very top notch (check it out!). His official website is equally excellent (check the links at the top of this article). It’s obvious Todd has put a lot of thought and work into his online presentation, which will only help him develop that core following that he deserves. Not only that, Todd Carey has a Youtube channel (hitting all the bases & online markets). Todd could do with a little more content on Youtube in order to increase his following there. Amazing job Todd, the marketing will pay off!

Top 2 Songs:

1. Smile w Sara Bareilles (A great ballad duet, harmonies, great song!) – I couldn’t find any video links with Todd Carey & Sara Bareilles, so I chose two other songs.

2. Watching Waiting (Great song, of longing, hope, and love – full version on Myspace link)

2.Back Off Baby (Love the topic of the song & how he sings it! The lyrics are so good! It’s awesome!)

~ Jason Chu

@Chodidees

http://www.myspace.com/chodidee

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