Sarah Jane Music, AKA Sarah Jane, the Aussie alt-rocker and popular Youtuber, is releasing a new album on Oct 23rd 2020 into the world.
Being a fan of her highly emotive tracks, I thought I’d see if I could grill her on the details around this new album, which I was lucky enough to hear in advance of its release.
Here is our conversation. Enjoy!
When did you record this album?
SJM: I started recording this album in September 2019 and finished it in early July 2020.
Where did you record this album?
SJM: I recording everything in my home studio! ( even the drums)
Who’s a part of this album, in terms of the recording of it?
SJM: I recorded everything myself except for the initial set up for the drums as my dad acted as the drum audio engineer. But apart from that, I recorded everything myself. I had a couple of different drummers feature on the album, I had my partner Ben play on ‘August’ & ‘Cut My Teeth’, I had ex-Violet Stones drummer Mate play on ‘Suffocate’ and lastly my dad played on ‘Poison’. All the other drum parts were played by me (as well as all the instruments)
Why did you record this album? 😀 (existential question)
SJM: haha! I have sooo many songs & I had been planning on releasing this album before I even released my debut album ‘Absence’. I knew I wanted this album to be bigger and have a full band on most of the tracks. But I guess I recorded the album cause I just have a lot of songs & I love producing my own stuff. It’s just fun and I get a really cool product at the end of it all.
What kind of gear did you use to record this album? ie. vocals, ie. drums, or whatever.. any type of gear you’d want to mention.
SJM: Firstly, I used my dad’ss huge Sleishman kit. I’m not really sure about all the details of it but it’s a super good kit. With the guitars, I also used my dad’s Fender Strat to record all the clean parts cause it sounds amazinggg and I just used my Fender Jag to record all the distorted parts! I recorded the guitars through the Modern Vintage Marshall head with a Marshall MX212A Cab.
For the majority of the electric guitar parts, I ran in through my sans amp pedal. The main distortion I used was the Biyang Fuzz Star as well as the classic Boss Distortion Ds-1 & the Rat Pro co.
For all the acoustic songs, I used my classic LAG guitar (which is featured in all my youtube covers), and in ‘Talk About It’ I used my trusty ‘Gypsy Rose’ Nylon guitar. And I recorded all the acoustic guitars AND all the vocals through a Behringer B1 Condenser Mic.
Do you feel that this is a concept album, or more a group of songs that you’ve been working on lately that just happened to get put on this album? How do you see the sequencing of the tracks and is there a sort of narrative going on?
SJM: Originally I had just thrown a bunch of songs in together and called in an album but during the early recording process, I started writing some new songs. I was going through some significant changes in my life and I guess the new songs were a way for me to express myself. In the end, I wouldn’t call it a concept album, but more of a ‘themed’ album in the way that they are a grouping of songs about different things but they were written around the same time. They all represent where I was and what I was feeling at that time.
This feels like a fairly doom-y album, or kinda like old school grunge style (ie. old school Nirvana or Silverchair, etc). Is this intentional or do you just happen to gravitate to the doomier subjects and song styles? ie. I notice there’s not really any fast songs on here.
SJM: I didn’t intentionally write it to sound like anything, it just comes out how it is haha. I guess I’ve been listening to some different bands and artists and my old influences are slowly washing away. I’ve been listening to a lot of Radiohead and Jeff Buckley lately so maybe that’s why there are not so many upbeat ones. I also suppose it ended up like this because when I write a song, I decide whether it would suit my band more & I guess I prefer making upbeat songs with my band rather than by myself. I sorta see it as different styles, if that makes sense.
Are you influenced by any specific bands from your country, either local or more famous?
SJM: There’s a band called ‘Tired Lion’ who are from Australia and they’ve been a big inspiration for me for years. I think that’s the only major one who has influenced me. I really gotta get more into Australian bands.
Do you like country music? This album has a bit of that twang-y acoustic guitar vibe happening.
SJM: uhhhh I wouldn’t say I do. I used to be obsessed with Taylor Swift when I was a teenager but that’s as far as that goes hahah
What do you hope to accomplish with this album? ie. plan to tour, plan to do anything special around its release?
SJM: I WISH I could tour but sadly that’s just not a possibility at the moment and probably not for a long time. I just want people to hear the album and hopefully connect with it on some level & I would love to be able to sell out on the CDs I have so I can hopefully step up to Vinyl for my next release! I don’t really have any SET goals I want to accomplish as I’ve already accomplished what I set to do which was, produce another album.
How has your Youtube channel’s growth and success influenced this album? Or even just the nature of the channel with all the covers and whatnot.
SJM: I guess my channel isn’t growing as much as it could right now as I haven’t uploaded a cover in a while. But I did try that for a bit at the same time as recording the album & it just took too much time and energy and the truth is I don’t enjoy doing covers as much anymore. It became a chore rather than something fun and therefore I didn’t put much effort into them. I’d rather put my time and energy into something I love doing and at the end of it I have this piece of music that’s all mine and it’s something I’m proud of. I’m just glad that a lot of people who found me by my covers are also supporting my own music and who are taking an interest in it. I’m really glad that my covers have paved me a way to reach out to a ton of people who otherwise wouldn’t ever have found my music.
Was this a hard record to record? (I mean in terms of like personally, psychologically, emotionally taxing, uhhh.. logistically, etc)
SJM: I wouldn’t say it was hard, just time-consuming. Some songs took a while to record but others took one or two takes. The vocals for the song ‘Marry’ were done in one take and the vocals for ‘Rest’ took me about 2 months to finish as I was never happy with them. I guess ‘Rest’ took the most out of me cause it was just so frustrating and I thought I was never going to get it right. If anything, it has been therapeutic. It feels so good finishing a project that I’m proud of. And it has cost me a fair amount of money to produce but I’ve been working a ‘day job’ for the last 2 years and I have been saving for this (and also my band’s album). Working in my home studio has cut costs drastically but it still costs to make merch, CDs, mixing/mastering, advertising, etc. It’s still all worth it in the end.
How do you feel about the way it turned out? Is it rocking epically enough or you? 🙂 (Sometimes artists hate their own albums, ya know, which is why I ask)
SJM: No no I’m super proud of it. It came out way better than I expected. A lot of the songs were going to be just acoustic but it completely changed in the recording process. That’s what I love about producing. The initial product is completely different from the end product. I love it. I’m very proud of this album.
What’s next for you?
SJM: I have so much planned! Next, I have my band’s album which should be released at the end of the year and I’m also working on two other projects with some different bandmates. I am also planning on working on one or two concept EP’s for my solo work next. There’s so much music I wanna make haha!
Not many people get to say their dad was a “super-producer”, but in the case of Stephan Plank, son of Conny Plank, it turns out to be true.
Who Is Conny Plank?
While “super-producer” might seem a rather nebulous term to apply to someone, it’s hard to think of a better-fitting way to describe Conny Plank, considering that musicians from around the world to record with him at his abode in Germany, where he had his studio for many years.
Many might call Rick Rubin, or Mutt Lange, two of rock’s big super-producers. Producers like Timbaland or Dr. Dre may have been referred to in such a way as well. Of course, what makes each of these producers “super” is different from one another, as they all have their fortes.
Conny Plank, and his motives for making music at the time that he was fervently doing so, are altogether different again from all the rest.
Conny, in his own way, is surely in the same stratum of certain legendary names in the music business, except he is less associated with mainstream music, never aiming for fame and glory so much as experimentation and purity of sound, so he has, as a result of not playing “the game”, a bit more mystique surrounding him, and credibility as an artist for endless miles.
In his home studio, Conny recorded some of the most sonically expressive, idiosyncratic, and experimental recordings ever to be pressed to vinyl, including many great krautrock albums by the likes of Neu!, Kraftwerk, Guru Guru, Night Sun, Can, and many more, some of whom were native to Germany.
Here’s an example of one of the many ground-breaking albums that Conny worked on, by Cluster (formerly Kluster). It is but one in an long lineage of albums with Conny Plank’s unique stamp of sonic engineering wizardry.
In addition to having a big impact on Krautrock and rock in general, Conny Plank was responsible for some of the earliest “ambient” albums (before the term was coined for such music) as Cluster & Eno, Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, and his wife Christa Fast even sang on Music For Airports by Eno, which could be considered one of the first, if not “the” first, album of this kind.
Conny recorded with many musicians who made their way to his studio from all corners of the globe, and then, from there, these musicians went on to have a deep and lasting impact on music and future musicians.
I’m referring to the likes of Devo in their early years, as well as the Eurythmics, Ultravox, Killing Joke, The Meteors, Kraan, Hunters & Collectors, A Flock of Seagulls, and dozens more artists, some more obscure, some more well-known.
One might wonder how Conny Plank was able to have such a prolific output for so many years and still manage to capture so much lightning in a bottle. To many, it is still somewhat of a mystery, and understandably so.
The recording of various artists went on until Conny’s untimely death in 1987 of laryngeal cancer.
Conny’s Son, Stephan Plank
While Conny lived, he worked tirelessly with band after band at his home studio, while his wife and only son watched him work, and provided a home life, if a somewhat unconventional one.
His son, Stephan, grew up in an atmosphere both strange and interesting, making playmates out of some of the odd house guests who would arrive, stay a while, and then eventually leave, perhaps never to return.
When Conny died suddenly in December of 1987, it was difficult for anyone to process; most of all his family, who was used to Conny being a rather indomitable spirit. Now he was gone.
Stephan was barely a teenager when Conny died, and so it took him a long time to process his death, and reach any kind of closure.
Indeed, it wasn’t until his 40’s that Stephan finally had the urge to look back at who Conny was, and make sense of his legacy as a creative force in the music industry.
This reflection lead him to the creation of his own documentary, called The Potential of Noise, which features interviews with a slew of musicians who knew Conny best, from working with him in the studio.
Here’s a trailer for the documentary, The Potential of Noise.
I caught up with Stephan on October 1st, 2019, to ask him questions about the documentary, his father and his music, and what his life his like now.
YC: Why did you make this documentary?
SP: In a sense, I was liberating myself of my father.I was 13 when my father died, and I grew up in the music industry.My mother then continued renting out the studio, and soon people were approaching me saying, “You’re the son of Conny, wow!”and I would think to myself, “…but I don’t know what he did. How should I reply to this?”
In a way, I made this film to clear this up this mystery, and give myself a chance to talk about it, and also reach a better understanding of my father.
YC: Did you know about his impact at that time?
SP: I suspected the impact. Growing up in the studio, all the people knowing about it…for me, it was not knowing what a producer did and how he worked that bugged me.”
YC: So you didn’t really know this – the extent of Conny’s influence – until you started making the documentary?
SP: Yes and no, growing up in the studio, I had seen how producers worked with different bands, but i didn’t know how Conny worked with bands and how he liberated their thinking. The interesting thing about the work of my father was that he did a lot of “first” albums, so he was an integral part in constituting the bands avatars or egos where his own ego became fused with the bands’ ego.
YC: Were musicians and bands just randomly coming to his studio, or did he somehow advertise for musicians to come to see him?
SP: His records were his calling cards. Lots of people at this time who were looking for a producer, would look at their record collection, and see that Conny had made many of their favourite albums, so they would come because of this.
YC: Was this localized to your area of Germany or were people coming from all over the world?
SP: Everywhere. For instance, Devo from America, Hunters & Collectors from Australia, and many others from around the world…they would hear something like Kraftwerk and Neu! and they wanted to come see him and learn his methods.
He was a lightning rod for bands who wanted to approach music differently.For instance, Devo first wanted to work with David Bowie, and then Brian Eno, who was a friend and frequent collaborator with Conny, so he brought Devo with him to visit Conny.
Ultimately, Brian Eno was thinking to shape Devo to be a little more pretty-sounding, but when Devo realized that Conny was like-minded to them in terms of anti-melody and embracing noise, they decided to work with him instead.
YC: How did Conny come to know Brian Eno?
SP: This was through Neu! that he met Brian, who came to our farmhouse to work on Music For Airports, which featured my mom singing some of the vocals on that album.
YC: All this happened obviously after Brian Eno’s Roxy Music days, but how was the connection made?
SP: Brian Eno heard Conny’s work through Neu!’s first album, which had an appeal to many British musicians.Some of these new Krautrock sounds that my dad was making were very interesting to many British musicians who were looking for a new type of sound at this time.
These Krautrock albums weren’t about “hit” singles, but more about a new mentality towards music.For instance, Michael Rother was in Kraftwerk and Neu!, and collaborated with Cluster, which lead him to Eno, and Music for Airports.
YC: There was not much like Eno’s Music For Airports at the time, really, right?This was a truly groundbreaking album.
SP: If anyone should be found guilty of launching “ambient” music, it should be Brian Eno and Michael Rother.
YC: Did you or do you now listen to any ambient music yourself?
SP: I listened to a lot of it growing up, and I think it’s very interesting to see how it all started.My father was born in 1940 and he grew up in the time of the 2nd World War.
He grew up in Kaiserslautern, or K-town, and this was a place which featured a lot of troop entertainment.My father was friends with a couple of G.I.’s so they’d take him to see some of this entertainment.There is a term in German – “icht” – and he said he was icht when he listened to this troop entertainment.
YC: So he appreciated this type of music a great deal.
SP: Yes, a lot. He loved big band music like Duke Ellington. There is actually a story about Duke Ellington involving my father, where Duke Ellington came to Cologne to do a concert, and he needed a rehearsal space, and my dad didn’t have his recording studio at the time (because he wasn’t yet a sound engineer), but he was working in one.
He asked the studio owner if he could have the Duke come to the studio and rehearse. Conny happened to be able to record this session, and then when Duke finished, he asked my father if he could hear the recording he made of his band, and when he heard it, he told him that he was doing “good sound” and that he liked what he heard.
This was the point where my father heard his hero say he was doing a good job, and then he felt like he could be a sound engineer – this encounter boosted his confidence.I wasn’t sure i this was a tall tale or not, because these things can be exaggerated, but then I went through the archive of our studio, and I found the Duke Ellington tape, which I then made into a vinyl release, and this is now available.
YC: When was this released?
SP: 4 years ago now.
YC: Did it see a big release?
SP: We released it worldwide, but the audience for obscure Duke Ellington releases now is a very specific group of music fans.Some people have even called me to tell me jokingly that Duke Ellington sounds even a bit Kraut-y on this release.
YC: Is there any truth to that?Does it sound sort of Kraut-y?
SP: I can’t hear it, but I like the idea.
YC: This would have been at the beginning of Conny’s career, and the end of Duke’s?
SP: Yes.This was recorded July 9th, 1970.Now it is available on Spotify.
YC: Ok, well I’ll have to check that out.So, once the studio became active and Conny had gone into the business of sound engineering more officially, at this point you were just there running around, being a kid.Did you think the environment you lived in was normal?
SP: Everything your parents do seems normal to you, because at first you have nothing to compare it to.For me, these slightly strange guests being around all the time was normal to me.And, as musicians are, they were very playful people, so they made good playmates for me.
YC: And these musicians would stay there for days, or weeks, while your dad worked in his studio?
SP: Yes, he worked constantly.
YC: Did you see him much?
SP: Well, he was right next door, but it was clear that this is where the big boys played.You have to realize, this was a time before digital looping was possible.
So they had to use tape loops, so they’d be setting up microphone stands all over the studio, which was very interesting-looking to a 5-year-old.So I wasn’t allowed to touch anything, or their work could be destroyed.Therefore, I wasn’t allowed in very often, or very rarely.
YC: At what point did you realize what was going on in there?
SP: Between 10-12 years old, I started to understand the concept of work.But there was no time to really ask my dad about the finer details of his work.
At that time, it just made more sense for him to focus on his work, rather than explain everything to me.I was aware that something interesting was happening, and I was aware that people wanted to meet my father, or to see some of the famous musicians who came there, like the Eurythmics, and to get their autograph.To me these were just normal people working with my father, not stars.
YC: Were you an only child?
YC: So were you very well-behaved then, or more of a brat?
SP: I was basically a brat.I was fighting for the attention of my parents. By the time I was becoming a teenager, although we did not know it, my father had cancer, and would die soon.He died December 6, 1987.
At the start of 1987, around Easter holidays, we went with the Eurythmics to records their Japan Live tour.I was taken along, because my father was very aware that his time with his family was becoming limited.Still, he was working like a madman.
YC: At what point did you realize he was nearing the end of his life?
SP: My parents were optimistic until the last second.I remember I was with some friends, because my father with in the hospital again, and on that Sunday I got a call saying my father had died, and so I came to the hospital to see my mother and brother.It was horrible.
YC: What happened next?
SP: My mother continued to rent out the home studio, and musicians continued to come there to record.It was a nice place, and had a lot of analog gear, and so it was still very attractive to musicians to come there.
Recording studios can often be a stressful place for musicians, because they may have gotten a record deal, and suddenly the pressure is on to make their greatest music in a limited amount of time. In other words, they would feel like the meter was running.
My father and my mother together built this place to ease musicians of this feeling.It wasn’t a fancy place.It appeared a little bit squalid, but this was by design, because it would release some of the musicians’ tensions about being in a studio in the first place.
And then, musicians could let go and really inhabit the music they were making.
YC: Was Conny a fan of live-off-the-floor recording?Is that the scenario musicians were in at his studio?
SP: Conny was a fan of live recording, and he had some movable walls on wheels which he could turn and move so musicians could see each other.He was also very adamant that bands recorded their first version of a song live.
They could do overdubs after, but the live feeling had to be captured.And he was very avid about sound quality.There was a particular way the my father liked the cords in his studio, to be the exact right length with no cable wasted or lying on the floor tangled up.
YC: He was just very organized with his cables?
SP: This was the magic of my father, the way he made the musicians less aware of the recording process just by arranging the cables in a particular way.My father’s goal was to help musicians to let go during their performance, and then he would catch these results, and he made it all seem easy.
YC: I guess Conny was always listening and tuned to the music even if the band didn’t think he was?
SP: Yes, Conny seemed relaxed and the band would also be relaxed, but if he heard a synthesizer reach a point where he knew it was the perfect tone for the song, he would stop the band and tell them to make sure to leave that synth at that setting, because he knew it sounded great.
He would say “Stop, don’t touch the knob again.You are precisely at the hot moment!”In other words, he could always recognize when the band was at the peak of their performance.
He wasn’t trying to force them to get there, but when they got there, he knew.If a band was not getting better as they continued, he knew they’d reached their peak at that point.
He was simply good at hearing when a band was playing their best, or if something special was happening.
YC: So he didn’t intimidate anyone like some producers might?
SP: My father was a little bit like a psychologist, who would ask you questions, and then not tell you anything.He was able to get a band to think about a concept, and then they would get ideas based on what he said.
He didn’t need to tell them anything, just get them thinking about things they weren’t thinking about before.This way, they could conceive an original idea.
YC: Was he trying to guide them, or manoeuvre these bands?
SP: He wasn’t trying to control them. He was just trying to get them to think about what they might want to become, but he didn’t tell them what was, because he himself didn’t know.
YC: Would you say most bands liked his methods as a producer?Were there any bands who didn’t appreciate his methods and left the studio?
SP: Most bands did like his methods, and after his death, he became more of a superhero of german production, and so it was hard to find anyone who would say anything remotely negative about him.
This is why I was thankful to Holger Czukay, who told me “Well, he probably wasn’t the perfect father…”Most people treated him, in the interviews, in a very reverent way, but Holger had the guts to just say exactly what he thought, the way he experienced it.
YC: Why did Holger do that?
SP: Well, Can and Holger were all about authenticity, and Holger realized who was asking him, and to be true, he had to say it like he felt it.He was afraid of nothing, basically, and you learn to live with the consequences.
YC: Did he witness it personally or was he just speculating?
SP: Holger just saw that it was him and my father, and then me and my mother.He knew the band was disturbing family time, but he also knew he wanted to do it because it was so much fun.
YC: How are you now with work?Has any of your father’s famous work ethic affected how you approach work?
SP: I feel like my parents gave me a gift.We all seem to rebel against our parents in some way, and luckily, I am able to rebel by reading night time stories to my daughters every night.
YC: So you are reacting to your parents mistakes in some way?
SP: Yes, I feel like we all, as parents, try to not make the same mistakes as our parents, but mistakes are unavoidable, so even if we avoid some of their mistakes, we will make new, original mistakes.
YC: Are there any qualities of your father you feel like you do exhibit?
SP: Well, I am still quite obsessive, especially with my work, but the fun thing about making this film was to see how my father became almost a spiritual father to some of these bands, because whereas their parents may no have been pleased that they were pursuing music as a career, my father was always very supportive, telling them how amazing he thought they were.
He said “Let’s make this great!” and they would accept him as a father figure.Whodini came to see my father from New York, and they met him, and they met me, and they told me they felt like I was their little brother.So, in a way, the interaction at the studio was one big family.
YC: Was there ever any band that your father didn’t particularly want to work with?
SP: He refused to work with U2.
YC: Why, because he didn’t like their music?
SP: My father said that he worked best as a medium between the artist and the tape.And he wouldn’t know what kind of consciousness he’d have to transfer with Mr. Bono.
YC: What does this mean?
SP: I can only say his words, I don’t know.I just think it’s interesting he called him Mr. Bono.
YC: Well it sounds like maybe your father couldn’t relate to the way that U2 approached him?
YC: Conny obviously had his own specific tastes when it came to sounds he liked, and he also helped to define certain tastes as well.
SP: Yes, and when he died, his life’s work was not compromised.He never reached a stage where he had to make recordings to make ends meet.He was 47 when he died, so this was early enough that he had yet to make any compromises.
YC: Basically it’s fair to say everything was going well and then he met an untimely end due to unexpected health issues.
SP: Yes.Conny is a bit of a mystery because most producers focus on one particular sound, but Conny’s favourite flavour was innovation, and he was thinking in terms of “If this is innovative, I will do it…”
YC: What became of all of his gear, like that mixing desk he made?
SP: It’s in London, and still earning its money at the moment.The last Franz Ferdinand and Hot Chip albums were recorded with it, so it’s still in use, with Dave Allan.I had the choice to put it in a museum, or I could give it to someone to work with it.So I chose to find someone who would use it.
YC: Was it a sentimental thing to have to take the rest of his studio apart?
SP: It was done out of need.When Conny died, we were 4 million euros in debt, and, in 2005, when my mother fell ill, we were 400 000 euros in debt.She somehow managed to fall out of the German health care system, so I had to pay for fixing her brain tumour in cash.
So things needed to be sold, and it eventually was mostly sold.There’s a shop in Hamburg, Germany, and it still has some of my dad’s gear, including our Hammond B5.Sometimes people want to buy it, and I will talk to them.If they are good people, I will sell it to them.
My father was never the sum of his equipment, but he was the sum of the ideas he planted in other musicians minds, which means he’s still out there in a way. I think that today my father’s idea of a nice setup might be a nice laptop, and some good converters.
He’d probably travel with a flight case.He might even have been glad to get rid of the studio eventually, because, to be honest, maintaining all of that analog gear can be a pain in the ass.You constantly need to tinker with it to keep it running.
YC: Like you said, he was into innovation, so he probably would have embraced phones and computers fully.
SP: My dad was really into technology, and he bought the first Macintosh computer available.
He bought it under the impression that he could record a musician in New York, and the quality would be good, which obviously wasn’t the case, but at that stage, people told him it would be possible. He was really on the cutting edge, always curious about it.
He had the first emulator, and he always said stuff like “Reset The Preset”to get the machines to go to the fringe places, the red part of the meter so it would groan a little bit.What happens when you get to the place where they’re not supposed to be.
YC: What would he think of the crappy production work out there today?
SP: He always liked well-producedmusic, and hated badly made music.I think the ratio of good to badly produced music has always been about the same.
YC: So he wasn’t really a snob then?
SP: No, not at all.There a german tradition called Karneval which is 4 weeks before easter. It’s a very christian / catholic thing, where everyone dresses funny and gets blind drunk.
There is a certain kind of music which goes with it.Very basic, in a good way.Conny loved the authenticity of it.He recorded Bläck Fööss, who only did carnival music.He really loved this music.
YC: It sounds like German party music… like polka?
SP: Yes. He loved the identity-finding moments, and he liked Europe a lot – the idea of it.Many bands from Europe would come to him and try to record something in English, and he would try to encourage them to sing in their own language.
These bands give identity to a whole country.When my dad had bands recording at our home, we would sit down to eat dinner, and I remember one of the sins was when a band said they wanted to sound like another band. This was not cool.My dad would say you are not born to be a copy.
YC: What would your dad do if a band really wanted to sound like another band in the studio while they were recording?
SP: Conny was very good at figuring out if a band wanted to sound like another band before they came in, and then pre-emptively not work with them.His goal was originality over anything else.
YC: Yes, which is why I like many of the bands your father had worked with – so many original bands. I was surprised at how many of these exceptional bands there were, when I saw the documentary you made.
SP: As a producer, Conny was very ego-less.Many producers have their particular flavour that they give to a band.Conny was called “Mr. Sound”, because his flavour was that the band sound like the band.
He said that every band gets the sound they deserve.My father really loved Prince, and his album Dirty Mind, and one of the musicians who came to the studio said he wanted to sound like Prince.
So my father said, if you want to sound like Prince, you need to sing like Prince. This musician really couldn’t pull of Prince.
YC: What is your job now?
SP: I do management for Nina Hagen and I’m making 2 more films. One is a documentary called The Truth About The Truth.
YC: Sounds cryptic, what’s it about?
SP: In your brain you have two buckets, one which holds information and one which holds truth.There’s a switch in your brain that decides where it goes.If the info gets into the truth bucket, we’ll be able to debate about it.I want to make a documentary about this mechanism that decides this.
YC: How’d you think of this idea?
SP: There’s a german word “zeitgeist”.In a way, this idea has been explored a lot already.Ad companies think they know how to implant the truth in someone’s mind, and I think that it’s interesting to make people more aware that someone is trying to do this.
I am working with Reto Caduff again, and we are currently gathering funds to help make the movie happen. I also have a start up company that I co founded called Re2you and we are trying to liberate people from technology, since Google and Apple sit on top of all the ecosystems.So we want to emancipate people from this.
YC: All that sounds good and I look forward to seeing the new films when they arrive. Thanks for chatting with me!
SP: Thank you!
Thanks for reading, if you have any comments or questions, pose them below!
As a fan of Twin Peaks, and specifically the music the show has produced over the years, Season 3 had me wondering, like many fans, about some of the musical acts that were featured at the Bang Bang Bar (commonly referred to as the Roadhouse). Many of these performers were indie acts, with a few exceptions.
The full list of musical performers who performed at the Bang Bang Bar during Season 3 include: Chromatics, The Cactus Blossoms, Au Revoir Simone, Trouble, Sharon Van Etten, Nine Inch Nails, Hudson Mohawke, Rebekah del Rio, Moby, Lissie, The Veils, Eddie Vedder, and Julee Cruise.
The Twin Peaks Season 3 Soundtrack expands on the above list with many other tracks from the show, with the overall musical effect of the entire track list being that of a tour de force.
The music of Twin Peaks has always been exceptional, with the main theme song written by Angelo Badalamenti even winning a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance back in 1991.
The music of Twin Peaks remains unique. In this article, I had the chance to interview one of the members of Au Revoir Simone, Heather D’Angelo, now a Bang Bang Bar band alum, and ask her about her own personal Twin Peaks experience. (skip to the interview)
But first, a bit of context…
About The Bang Bang Bar (The Roadhouse)
In Twin Peaks Seasons 1 and 2, the Roadhouse was established as a location on the show that fit into the nuanced plot written by David Lynch and Mark Frost, and would tie into the overall arc of the show sporadically, with drama between the shows’ characters playing out there from time to time.
The concept of the “Bang Bang Bar”, as it was referred to as more so in Season 3, was also the show’s musical center in seasons 1 and 2. However, Julee Cruise and her band were the only act we see play there during the first two seasons.
As viewers, we can only assume that Julee Cruise was only one act of many to pass through there, but we never get to see any other acts play. Perhaps this is something Lynch sought to correct in this latest season of Twin Peaks.
During the first two seasons, Julee appears there several times throughout the entire run of the show (including the movie prequel, “Fire Walk With Me”), playing her soft, angelic music juxtaposed against some dark, depraved drama taking place in the plot, creating a juxtaposition of both tranquility mixed with violence – an unsettling combination to be sure.
With the Roadhouse being such a seedy juncture in the Twin Peaks world, the idea of such a pure and unfettered sound of one such as Julee Cruise performing in such a dark place was and still is an unlikely proposition.
Fast forward 25 years…
Enter: Twin Peaks, Season 3
Enter Twin Peaks: Season 3 (The Return), aired in 2017. The plot picks up almost literally 25 years after the finale of Season 2, where Cooper becomes possessed by Bob and delivers his famous line: “How’s Annie?”
This final episode (called “Beyond Life and Death”) to a beloved TV series was not the ending many fans were hoping for, but that’s the way director David Lynch chose to end the show, when this final episode of Season 2 first aired on June 10, 1991.
The reasons for this ending to Season 2 were perplexing to fans, but no less perplexing than the entire run of the show itself up until that point, really.
Still, while hardcore Lynch fans always appreciate a good Lynch-ian twist, more casual (and probably less fanatical for absurdist cinema) fans of the show were left with mild cases of PTSD from watching their beloved Cooper become possessed by the ultimate evil, and then: roll credits.
Perhaps it had something to do with David Lynch not directing the majority of Season 2, and walking away from the show until the final episode, where he comes back with the express purpose to, in his own special way, put an end to the show he started.
As has been reported by various sources (ie. Vanity Fair), David Lynch hates Season 2 more than anyone else could, with the tousle-haired cinematic maverick having been quoted publicly as saying it flat out “sucked”.
Fans would have to wait until 2017 when Season 3 of Twin Peaks finally reached airwaves to see how things would get resolved, and many were likely hopeful that such a gut-wrenching finale would indeed see some sort of satisfying resolution, once Season 3 finally concluded.
Fans of Twin Peaks might have thought a positive outcome to be particularly imminent, considering this was David’s chance to right any directorial and plot-related wrongs done to the show throughout Season 2.
Well, did he? To answer this question would take us well beyond the scope of this article, and so at this time, let’s now return to the topic of…The Bang Bang Bar, and the music we hear there throughout Season 3.
Back To The Bang Bang
One thing that seemingly had not changed much in the world of Twin Peaks was the Bang Bang Bar.
In the world of Twin Peaks: Season 3, it was still the place in Twin Peaks where various seedy drama and nefarious subplots play out. But this time around, we’re treated to a variety of diverse musical acts.
It was as if the Bang Bang Bar was perhaps doing better business these days, busily booking more bands, and becoming an increasingly hipper place to be, which we, the viewers, we privy to seeing who would turn up week to week. For nostalgic fans, Julee Cruise and James Hurley both come back to the Bang Bang Bar to perform.
Otherwise, we were treated to some fresh faces at the good old Twin Peaks Roadhouse.
Cue: Au Revoir Simone, playing their tune, “A Violent Yet Flammable World”, from Season 3: Episode 9.
Au Revoir Simone
Some of the choices for bands who performed at the Bang Bang Bar during the run of Season 3 seemed to be more in line with the world of Twin Peaks that fans know, while other performers were more unexpected.
Au Revoir Simone, who perform on two episodes of the entire Season 3 run of the show , were at once a fitting, and yet somewhat unusual, choice.
Why fitting? Well, here we have, not 1, but 3 silky-voiced chanteuses playing ethereal, melancholic music in a slow, pulsating manner. This is enough, perhaps, to qualify them as a good fit for the rather happening, and yet fictional, venue.
Why unusual? It seems that in the intervening years between Seasons 2 and 3 of Twin Peaks, the always and forever-to-be stuck-in-the-past environs of the show have been forced to admit that yes, even in a seemingly timeless setting, time is passing.
Hence, Au Revoir Simone have their synths in tow, and there is no particular attention drawn to their synthpop nature. Perhaps now Twin Peaks is a world that has caught up to as far as the 1980’s, rather than being a throwback to the ’50’s or ’60’s.
(The interview begins…)
Interview with Heather D’Angelo of Au Revoir Simone
It seems that curiosity got the better of me. I felt the need to reach out to the bands who played at the Bang Bang Bar during the run of Twin Peaks: Season 3, in order to satisfy my fan-boyish urge to know more about these bands, and how they managed to appear on the show.
And so, here is my conversation with Heather D’Angelo, who is one third of Au Revoir Simone, discussing the bands’ appearance on the show and how it all came to pass. Enjoy!
When did you start writing music?
Au Revoir Simone started out as a cover band, actually, working on covers of 80’s and 90’s songs from different genres.We were just doing this for fun, as friends getting together and seeing how it went.
Back in the early 2000’s, we (Annie Hart, Erika Forster, and I) used to jam together, when we were all living in Brooklyn, and decided to form an all-girl keyboard band, since all of us played keyboards and we thought that all of us playing synths would be pretty entertaining. Eventually, each of us was armed with multiple synths – sometimes we’d have 9 going at once!
As far as our covers went, it turned out that our covers were too idiosyncratic to be just covers – they had their own sound – so that gave us the notion to start doing our own songs.And it all began there!
Eventually, we got enough material together for a little EP called Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation.
Weirdly enough, a Japanese label and a British label picked up the EP, but we didn’t get any attention in the US – no one cared.
Funny thing was that the Japanese label had an english name – Rallye, and the English label had a Japanese-sounding name – Moshi Moshi.
Moshi Moshi already were a well known indie label in England at this point, with bands like Hot Chip on their roster.They were the ones that kind of operate on a new level, by saying “Ok, you guys are going to work with this PR company, etc.”, giving us tips on how to be a bit more professional.
So how did these labels come across your music, which then lead to your encounter with David Lynch?
They became aware of us through an indie music blog from the early days of the internet.
My good friend, Matthew Perpetua, is like the godfather of the music blogs.I think he actually had the very first music blog out there on the web in the late 90’s, called Fluxblog. There may have been one other one at the time, as these things tend to pop up in the zeitgeist at around the same time, but he was definitely one of the first.
Fluxblog was very popular for indie music and Moshi Moshi used to read his blog. Matthew used to write about our band when we first started, as he was a big fan of synthpop, and indie acts, and so Moshi Moshi read one of his features on us.
Steven Bass and Michael McClatchey then got a hold of our EP, which, at the time, was something we were screen printing ourselves in Annie’s bedroom and trying to distribute ourselves.
By the time we got to our first actual mature album, The Bird of Music, that was put out by both Rallye and Moshi Moshi, which had proper artwork and distribution.
The Bird of Music is what eventually ended up in the hands of David Lynch in 2007.
How did that come about?
There was a really cool event going on at Barnes & Noble in New York for some time, where they’d promote an author and then pair that author up with a band.
A music supervisor for Barnes & Noble would seek out a band that they felt would match the author, and the author would do a reading from their new book, and a band would play during the reading, or between chapters.It was pretty cool.
The music supervisor at Barnes & Nobles was trying to get us to do one of these events for some time, but it wasn’t working out, as we were always on tour, or the timing just wasn’t right.
But one day the music supervisor called and told us that David Lynch was promoting a new book, at the time, called Catching the Big Fish, and she thought that our music would pair really well with his work.
The book was about meditation, and she thought we could play some of our more dreamy material.
So we said “yeah”, because this time it worked with our schedules, and plus, it sounded really cool, so we did it!
But it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for David’s sound supervisor, Dean Hurley, hadn’t heard our music, liked it, and passed it on to David, who also liked it.
So, we then met David at the actual Barnes and Noble event, where we played, and he read from his book.
(cue: a short clip from that show in 2007)
This was the beginning of your collaboration…which would have been about 10 years before Twin Peaks: Season 3 aired.
Yes. Back in 2007.
That’s pretty cool that you encountered him that way. His output is very varied, so to connect with him on a book reading is very cool. Were you aware of all of these things that he does at the time? For example, the books, the albums, the artwork, and so forth.
We were aware of him, generally speaking, but we didn’t know just how many things he was involved with.
The event at Barnes & Noble was amazing. That particular location of Barnes & Noble was something else – it was huge, like 4 or 5 storeys, and jam packed with people. Just a massive, massive, MASSIVE building.
And when he was there, it was unbelievable – every floor, just shoulder to shoulder people, all trying to catch a glimpse of him.
For those who weren’t on the top floor, there was kind of a play-by-play being piped through their sound system, like one big listening party, and everyone was there just soaking it up. It was then that we clued in to just how huge his fanbase actually is.
Were you into his stuff prior to this show?
Yeah, I really liked Blue Velvet, and his movies in general, but I wasn’t really a fanatic. Same with Annie and Erika – we just knew of him, as most people do. I had not watched Twin Peaks, though. It just never crossed my radar. I guess I was just too young.
I didn’t catch the show when it came out either, but a friend of mine recommended I watch Twin Peaks when I was in high school, so around ’95, as he thought it would be up my alley, and it was. Had you seen any of his other movies?
Some of them. I saw Mulholland Drive, which I enjoyed, and I was going to watch Inland Empire, but a friend of mine saw it and he was so traumatized by it, I didn’t really feel like watching it.
Yeah, Lynch seems to be very good at making very unsettling films that confuse and disturb people, as well as anticipating peoples’ expectations (especially fans) and then defying them. I couldn’t make it through Inland Empire either! That’s why I was wondering how Season 3 of Twin Peaks was going to turn out, considering his work seemed to be getting progressively more abstract.
Well, we have had the opportunity to collaborate with David several times over the years, since 2007, and so we were getting comfortable trusting his creative and aesthetic choices. For instance, we worked with him on a retrospective he did for his work in Paris at the Foundation Cartier.
(cue: video clip from that exhibition)
(interview…continued) He had rebuilt a setting from Eraserhead at the gallery, and we were to perform in this setting. So, he managed to incorporate our music into this production, and we were like, “Hell yeah!” and so we did it, and it was great!
Another time he invited us to play at Silencio, his private club in Paris. Again, this is a beautiful club with a red-draped stage, and he was gracious enough to invite us into his world, which we have always been more than happy to do.
(cue: Llorando scene, from Mullholand Drive, filmed at Silencio)
(back to the interview…)
Over the years, we’ve remained friends, and would visit him in L.A., checking in from time to time. He’s been very encouraging, incredibly sweet, and a great mentor to us.
Prior to the return of Twin Peaks, he was mentioning it would be good to work on something together, and we thought that would be great, although we weren’t counting on it.
We knew that historically, David has worked with Julee Cruise, Angelo Badalamenti, and so we weren’t really expecting to work on any major projects with him, per se. He seemed to have his inner circle of collaborators, and so we thought it was nice of him to suggest a collaboration, but, again, we weren’t expecting anything.
But then, we got the call from Dean Hurley, David’s longtime musical collaborator, who informed us that David was going to re-launch Twin Peaks, and was seeking out bands to be part of the show, and he was hoping we’d take part. Before we knew it, we’d said “yes” and we were part of the production.
We’d never really worked with David before in terms of being part of one of his movies, and so we didn’t really know what we were in for.
None of Au Revoir Simone were actors, but we flew to L.A., and we arrived at this house, that looked like a community center from the outside, and we found that they had recreated, in minute detail, the Bang Bang Bar. It was like, “Oh my god, I’m in the Roadhouse!” Even though, outside it was hot and sweaty, this set made you believe you were in the Pacific north west, like Washington state. It was insane!
There were extras everywhere, and everyone was dressed up like it was the ’90’s. There were a few other bands there, like the Chromatics, and the Cactus Blossoms, who were playing that day.
We had no idea what was going on. We didn’t know who was playing, or when, or how to dress. We had no guidance of what to wear, which was particularly odd because the fashion of Twin Peaks is so particular. We didn’t know which decade we were supposed to appear to be from. ’80’s? ’90’s? Now? Rock stars, or not? We didn’t know. We decided to just go with a “classic” look.
We knew he was going to ask us to do two of our songs, which we did. It was lip synched. This wasn’t like Saturday Night Live. We performed our songs, it didn’t take too long, and then we left. Time passed, we didn’t hear anything at first. Eventually, we heard from David, and he said “Great job!”, so we thought “Great!”
We were still very confused as to how this would all play out. We still didn’t know if he was going to be using the footage of us playing, or just use our recordings on the soundtrack. Would it be both songs, one song? Just a snippet?
We didn’t see how any of it turned out until the show aired. Eventually, we were told to keep our eyes open for Episodes 4 and 9. We saw it on TV like everyone else.
(cue: band playing their song, “Lark”, from their album, “The Bird of Music”, during Season 3: Episode 4 of Twin Peaks.
(back to the interview…)
For both episodes, I had Twin Peaks’ parties in San Francisco, but I told my friends that if I didn’t show up on screen, not to be surprised. We weren’t promised anything, so then when we did appear, and we had a fair bit of screen time, I was shocked!
Both songs were edited, but that made sense, for the purpose of the episode sequencing. Still, it was entirely a surprise that we even made it on the show at all!
I guess you didn’t get to sit down and watch the “dailies”, huh?
No, we are not from the film industry, so that didn’t even occur to us. There wasn’t even hair and make-up, so how we presented ourselves was completely up to us. Had there been a hair dangling in the wrong spot, I don’t know if David would have brought it up or not. It all happened so fast.
We had been on photo shoots before, where people fussed over our appearance a lot more than this instance. So that’s surprising, that we were now committed to tape for an iconic show like Twin Peaks, which will be seen by our children and children’s children, and we weren’t really prepped in any way for this. I just knew that we were performing, and David was there, behind the camera, capturing every bead of sweat.
Was the lip synching difficult? What kind of direction did he give you?
We weren’t given any direction, so we just tried to channel our best collective Julee Cruise vibe. We had basic instructions as to when to start lip synching, and that was about it.
You were saying there were other bands there at that point?
We saw some of the other bands, but we didn’t really see too many other bands. For the most part, we were just in and out. We heard there was a shoot for the other bands on another day, but we weren’t there for that.
Are any of you particularly influenced by Julee Cruise, what with the hushed, angelic vocals, and all that? Were you told to emulate her in any way for the show?
No, not at all. We are fans of hers, for sure – especially Erika – but there was no mention of us sounding like her, or us trying to sound like her.
Our influences are Stereolab, Bjork, Pavement, Air…Broadcast is a huge influence. I personally am very into Air and Stereolab.
Definitely, I love Pavement.
Are you guys formally trained musically in any way?
No, we’re all self-taught.
How do you come up with your songs, as a band?
We all have input in each others songs, although usually, someone writes a song, initially, and brings it in. That’s when we begin to shape the songs to fit Au Revoir Simone. Nothing is really off limits for discussion, and it ends up being an equal process in the end. No one has more representation in the band – it’s equal parts all three of us.
No creative differences? Wow, nice.
There are differences, but as a trio, there can always be a critical voice if someone is strongly against something, and we like it that way. We can push and pull the songs until we are all happy with the result, but it’s not always easy to come to a consensus. For instance, if someone doesn’t like a bassline, or some other musical element, we talk about it, until we can all agree on something.
How do you feel now that you are on the Lynch fan radar? Do you consider yourself to be on that radar?
Yes, we are aware that his fans are now paying more attention to us, with many of them being very passionate. It’s cool.
And how has that balanced out with your entire fanbase overall?
Well, our old school fans are the best! Like, if ever there’s any sort of hardcore Twin Peaks fans who don’t approve of us for some reason, our old school fans will jump to our defence. It doesn’t happen much, and besides, that’s just how it is on Youtube. People debate all the time. For instance, why did we get picked for the soundtrack and not some other “dreamy” sounding pop band? Maybe someone more like Julee Cruise should have been picked, some might say. All in all, everyone has their own opinion. We encourage discussion, and we appreciate different views.
Fair enough. Did you bump into any other cast members at all while you were there filming? I happened to watch some interview with Kyle MacLachlan, where he said that he didn’t even see any of the show until it was on the air, or really knew what was going to happen overall? Kind of amazing, since he was basically the show’s star.
It doesn’t surprise me. There’s an element of secrecy to all of this. Plus, I think that everything was shot individually. We didn’t really interact with the cast very much.
Did you talk to Mark Frost (Twin Peaks co-creator) at all?
No, I didn’t.
So you never read any of this Twin Peaks books – The Final Dossier or The Secret History of Twin Peaks?
No, I’ve just heard of them. Haven’t read them yet.
They’re interesting, if you are into the sort of “bigger picture” of Twin Peaks, and the mythology and sort of subterfuge that goes into the show. They act as companion pieces, and they’re really cool if a fan wants to dive deeper into that world, as they let you in on some of the more secretive elements. For any fans out there, I’d totally recommend them! But anyway, what happened after Season 3 wrapped up. What changed for Au Revoir Simone?
I have seen David twice since the show aired. One at the Festival of Disruption in Brooklyn, and another time back in L.A., after Season 3 had aired. When I saw him last, I had just watched all of the episodes of Season 3 and I had a million questions that I wanted to ask him. So it was hard to not geek out on Twin Peaks and ask him lots of questions. I did get a few things out of him, but generally, we didn’t talk about that much.
I did, however, mention to him how much I loved Episode 8, as it was so groundbreaking and probably the best thing to be aired on television ever. I had a chance to dork out with Dean Hurley, but he really doesn’t have the inside scoop on Twin Peaks either. No one but David and Mark know the whole story. It’s always fun to speculate, though.
How did you feel about the ending of Season 3?
I liked it. I am a fan of cliffhangers, though. Besides, if you expect anything by David to wrap up with a neat little bow, you’ll probably be disappointed. So I didn’t expect the show to end in any neat and tidy way. Which it didn’t.
Welcome to YTMS! Today we interview Bill Welychka about his career in broadcasting thus far, from his days at MuchMusic to the present (2019). But first, we must set the scene…
Canadian Music in the 1990’s
To some, the 1990’s seem like the distant past by this point, while others like myself still consider that time as being “not long ago”.
Part of the reason the ’90’s stand out in my memory as bright and vibrant was the 90’s music scene here in Canada.
(Here’s a clip – Ed.)
(BTW, television wasn’t all “grainy” in the ’90’s, but a lot of people recorded stuff off of TV with a VCR, onto a cassette tape, and that’s when it got grainy…then uploading it to Youtube makes it even grainy-er – Ed.)
Basically, if you were a teenager in the 1990’s (like I was), particularly in Canada, many consider this to be a heyday for music in a variety of forms.
“Alternative” music was taking over the radio, and music videos had already conquered television in the 1980’s. Music videos were in full rotation, playing around the clock.
In America, it was MTV that was the major television station featuring music, and in Canada, it was MuchMusic, AKA “The Nation’s Music Station”.
Keep in mind, the internet itself was just coming into existence around 1995, but if you were “logging on” to it, there was no YouTube, no Pirate’s Bay to rip songs off of, no iTunes – no nuthin’!
If you lived in Canada, and you were into music, ie. bands and such, MuchMusic was the TV station that you turned to for most things. Bands and music videos of all genres were featured on this channel, which was ummm.. channel 29, on my cable TV, if I remember correctly.
Here’s a picture of the MuchMusic building, home to much musical activity as well as unique features like “Breakfast Television”, and “Speakers Corner”. This highly recognizable building is located downtown Toronto.
This building, home to MuchMusic, also known as the CHUM-City building, or 299 Queen St. West, was (and still is) a fixture known to everyone in and around the greater metropolitan area.
I’d be remiss not to share with you a sample of what went on on Speakers Corner, which was part of the MuchMusic building, and which was (as far as I know) the original “vlog” platform back in the early 1990’s. Nothing I know of pre-dates it, as far as random people talking into a video camera goes.
As I was saying, there was basically nothing like this at the time, and, wouldn’t you know, this format basically is how the world operates now in 2019 via platforms like Youtube. Crazy, eh?!
Though it still exists today, I think many would agree that MuchMusic isn’t as culturally significant today as it was in the 1990’s. Really, how could it be? The music world is completely different now, in terms of who people turn to for their music. It certainly isn’t one television station, like it was back in the ’90’s.
Back then, everyone I know that liked music turned to MuchMusic at this time for the latest news on bands, music videos, and live concert information.
Today, there’s much less of a need for “music television” as the internet has taken over that role.
That said, back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, MuchMusic built its reputation as one of the coolest places in town, and anyone in the area would stop by, stare through the windows, trying to get a peek at what was happening.
Often times, there’d be a famous band or artist in the area, and they’d swing by MuchMusic and play some songs and talk to a VJ (video jockey) or interviewer. These two roles, as I recall, were often one and the same.
It was a very cool time and place to be, and, unlike certain venues which weren’t known for their overall friendliness, MuchMusic had a fairly welcoming vibe to it that drew visitors from all around the world to it.
(Here’s Weird Al posing with well known MuchMusic VJ, Master T. – Ed.)
Here’s a typical scene you’d see at MuchMusic, with a band playing in-studio (The Refreshments), and one of the hosts / VJs (video jockeys) interviewing them before and / or after their set. (Forgive the video quality, it was probably recorded on some old VHS tape, but it’s a good clip!)
Often there’d be people’s faces pressed up against the glass to watch the band, but you can’t see that here, because sometimes people weren’t aware of who was there, or it was elsewhere in the building, ie. not the front.
So, this was back in 1995, and this was a song you’d hear on the radio all the time.
Now, the long-haired guy casually chatting with the band here is Bill Welychka, one of Much’s main VJ’s from back in the day.
And, as it happens, I got a chance to ask him, now, in 2019, some questions about his time at MuchMusic during the late 1980’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s.
Before we dive into my Q&A with Bill, I want to mention that I watched a lot of MuchMusic during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and Bill was definitely a familiar face you’d see on there basically any day of the week.
There were many VJ’s who’d get air time at MuchMusic, and Bill, as I recall, was known for his gregarious nature and easy ability to talk to people and connect with them.
He was always laughing and doing some kind of zing-y back and forth with whichever musician or band was in town, pretty much regardless of their stature. Nothing really seemed to phase him. Even when he interviewed increasingly famous guests, he looked like he was having a good time.
To clarify, Bill wasn’t always joking around with his guests. If need be, he could buckle down and be a little more restrained, asking what seemed like un-rehearsed, topical questions that just came to him. Not sure how he did it. (but maybe we’ll find out in the interview…)
MuchMusic VJ’s, around this time, were known for “breaking the 4th wall”, as it were, and not coming across like boring straight-laced reporter-types to their interviewees, or their viewing audience.
The general feeling I got from watching MuchMusic around this time is that it must have been a blast to work there, with fun things happening all the time and lots of surprise guests.
This is kind of why I wanted to ask Bill what it was like to work at MuchMusic back at that time. Luckily, I was able to reach him and ask him some questions about his career in broadcasting, with regards to MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic, and beyond!
Enjoy our chat!
Prior to being on MuchMusic, what was your connection to or experience with music / interviewing?
I was the youngest of six kids so from grade 2 on, I had the advantage of listening to older brothers’ records like The Who, Led Zep, David Bowie and so many others.
As I got older, starting from age 11, I began my own collection of records and into high school music became a “badge” for me.
My tastes over many years changed, but it also grew – never forgetting what I learned.
My penchant for learning about new music and styles and history encompassed Blues, Rock, Glam, Hard Rock, Gospel, Metal, Folk, Alt-Rock, Country, Pop, New Wave, Goth, Punk, and so much more.
I was never a musician but music became a best friend and escape for those sensitive teen years.
I felt by the age of 18, I was a musicologist and knew everything I could about music, songs, lyrics, album covers etc.
When did you start working at MuchMusic and how did that happen?
1988. The week I graduated from Seneca College’s “Radio and TV Arts” program, I was accepted at MuchMusic as a video-editor, dubbing commercial video breaks and dubbing new videos from all the record labels that came into the building for our vast library.
(Here’s an old picture of what MuchMusic apparently looked like in the early to mid-80’s, found online – Ed.)
Prior to that, I was volunteering for a few months…college during day, home for a nap, volunteering at Much overnight, home for a sleep and back to school.
During that period I was also working part time at a bakery. I have always been blessed with a solid work ethic. Still have it!
When you arrived at MuchMusic, what was the scene like?
MuchMusic was THE GO TO destination for new and breaking music videos and artists and live interviews when I was in high school (mid 80s).
There were some music video shows on CBC and other Canadian channels but even at ages 16 or 17 I sensed a “corporate” fakeness to it all.
MuchMusic had a sense of cool and a ground-breaking vibe to it. Even before Much was launched, I was an avid viewer of “The New Music” on Toronto’s City-TV.
The MAN Moses Znaimer became a hero to me.
When I started at Much, the main VJs were Chris Ward, Steve Anthony, Erica Ehm, Michael Williams, Laurie Brown, Denise Donlon and Terry David Mulligan.
(here’s a clip of Terry David Mulligan interviewing Sarah McLaughlan – Ed.)
I watched these people navigate through live (and taped) interviews and I was enamoured but also learned a lot about timing, good questions, bad questions, research etc.
I started there shortly after the move to a huge TV factory/ empire at City/ Much to Queen St. West from what I understand was a tiny cramped building on Queen St. East.
There was a vibe of WOW for everyone in that new building. Creativity, ideas and passion was everywhere. It was new and standards were we being broken and new benchmarks were being set.
Did you replace anyone when you arrived on the scene at Much?
My whole gig before being on-air was editing and producing taped segments and hour specials. To this very day, my favourite thing about television is editing and producing.
Every person on-air in TV has their own personal story how they got there. It is the same with Much VJs. (Although, some won a contest to be on-air.)
It was unlike the US system of broadcasting…hire an agent, go for auditions bla bla.
My personal story was while dubbing all the new videos for Much’s library, there were all these new country artists breaking through. Steve Earle, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis and so many others and many new Canadian country artists releasing videos.
I submitted a proposal for a weekly Country music video show to the head of Much at the time (John Martin.)
Eventually “Outlaws n Heroes” was born on Much.
(here’s a clip of a promo for Outlaws and Heroes – Ed.)
I helped produce, interviewed many artists and edited features.
The show’s host went away on mat-leave, I filled in hosting and interviewing (First time on-air Nationally!), kept hosting and moved over to regular flow VJ duties when the show was cancelled because a new Country music station surfaced in Canada.
That was my entry to being on-air.
At what point did the whole “VJ” concept come into being, and were you personally part of that at all?
The term and role of VJ was well established before I got there.
Chris Ward I think was the first in Canada to be a “video-jockey”…throwing to music videos, interviewing guests, providing info. To me, he was THE GUY!!!
(Here’s a clip of Christopher Ward on-air throwing to a video – Ed.)
Steve Anthony did that but added to it with his brand of humour.
Denise Donlon added to the role with professionalism and a drive for relevance and issues. (She remains my biggest influence and role-model.)
The best part is I don’t think any one of us were reigned in or told how to act or how to dress.
Moses and our bosses let us be US.
I was never the cute one, silly one, nor stupid one. My goal was to show a passion for music and let the artist shine, and always hopefully appealing to passionate music followers.
I never called the audience “fans”. I have worked with many egos and quite frankly, many media people have egos.
Some VJs I have worked with thought they were more important than the artists they were interviewing. I always fought against that.
My whole thing over 30 years of broadcasting is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT part of the equation is the viewer.
They are doing us a favour by watching. Some in media believe they are doing the audience a favour by being on their TV screens. That attitude makes me want to vomit.
(here’s some clips of Bill Welychka on air doing his thing, a “Best of” – Ed.)
MuchMusic was known for not really being too “serious” as far as how the VJs interacted with the various guests, many of them rather famous. How did this go over, generally?
Many musicians have told me they absolutely loved our presentation of music far more than our counterparts in the US, MTV. We were less corporate and more fun. The artists knew it and so did the audience.
The best part for me was after a live interview, the artist not wanting to leave and continue to talk. Or wanting to hang out after the show.
There were a few times were the record label got mad at me on a Monday because after a big show on a Friday or Saturday, I would take the artist out after their gig…at their request! Hahahaha!!!
Collective Soul were late once for a gig after being in Toronto. I took them to a late night booze-can in Toronto. Not my fault!!!!
Was the group or cohort of VJ’s you were with basically a tight knit group who were friends outside of work, or was it not like that?
I have been asked this many times before. I think the audience would like to imagine a huge group of friends always hanging out.
No one was really like that, other than work functions. For me, I was mostly friends with behind-the-scenes people.
I have always had a close small group of loyal friends.
To this day, my best friends I have known have been for 30 or 40 years. I do still keep in touch with some Much co-workers through social media.
Who was the interviewee that most surprised you in some way, or one of?
I would hear horror stories about some interview subjects that I had to interview.
But ALWAYS, looking back I have met every single one of my heroes and have always produced great segments and even specials with every single one.
I have heard David Bowie was difficult, Madonna, Robbie Robertson, Oasis and so many others. I have interviewed these people and have spent a lot of time with them. They were absolute treasures!!!
Liam and Noel from Oasis are actually funny, entertaining, VERY SMART sweet lil puppy dogs.
(Here’s a clip of Bill talking to Noel back in ’98 – Ed.)
I have met all my idols and they were always amazing and genuine.
I am the luckiest and most grateful person I know.
When MuchMoreMusic came along, what was your thoughts on that, and did you understand the point of that?
I so welcomed MMM! A channel that played singer-songwriters, legends, adult-contemporary. Perhaps some progressive artists.
I envisioned a channel without incessant VJ chatter.
Let it be about cool music for music lovers! Age to me, didn’t matter. It’s about the music and the art and the creativity and the legends.
On paper it seemed obvious. The execution was eventually sloppy and misguided.
I jumped at the chance to be a part of it and was given that chance in 2000. I developed and created new shows while there.
I could do what I loved to do…travel, interview legends, produce, edit and host hour specials. The station went through some program directors and line producers that were out of their league.
It is a shame that MMM faded into oblivion when I left.
Hahahha…I am not saying it died when I left. I am saying I saw the writing on the wall with how music television was being presented and how new corporate bosses took over that didn’t understand music and I literally jumped ship.
That was when I left “entertainment” for good.
(Here’s a clip of Bill hosting a show with Prince as the guest on MuchMoreMusic, in 2004 – Ed.)
After leaving Much, then what happened next as far as your career went?
After leaving MM, I was at MMM for 5 years. I then took on a hosting duty in Edmonton at the newly re-branded City-TV…doing a Morning TV show.
I loved Edmonton for that year but I missed family and friends in Ontario. After a year in Edmonton, I took on a weather presenter position with A-Channel in Ottawa (a Chum owned station).
(I loved learning weather! It became a huge passion!)
A new owner for the station came in and a new manager started a major round of lay-offs. I saw many amazing talented people let go in Ottawa.
After 5 years there, after dodging a few bullets, a bullet found me. I was given a year package and could not work in TV in Canada for a limited time as per the package I agreed to.
My mother was dying of cancer that year I was off. It’s weird how things work! I had an entire year off to visit my mother in Barrie, On.
A lot of driving. A lot of spare time listening to music on long lonely drives.
A few months after her passing, I was offered a great job here in Kingston at CKWS-TV (A Corus Entertainment/ Global TV station.)
That was seven years ago and I freakin’ love Kingston! It is a beautiful, historic city with a vibrant music and arts scene.
I became a columnist for The Kingston Whig-Standard. I followed a dream of learning to pro-wrestle.
One of my favourite things about Kingston? I have renewed friendships with some of our boys from The Tragically Hip, after many interviews with them over the years…going back to 1995.
(Here’s a more recent clip where Bill takes a look at Canada’s house band, the pride of Kingston, Ontario – The Tragically Hip – Ed.)
(back to the chat! – Ed.)
I am loving life and work. For the first time in a very long time. The music industry has drastically changed since MM.
There are limited avenues for new artists to break-through and have exposure. Yes, YouTube is an avenue. But here in Kingston, it seems to me it has come full circle. I welcome new and established music acts on Global News Morning.
What I left has now come to me.
Life is grand!!!
Thanks for reading, y’all! If you have anything to add, leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!
Today I speak with Noam Haddad (aka Pianoam on Fiverr.com), a 21-year-old piano player from Tel Aviv, Israel who has, for a long time, been covering his favorite songs on the piano, where he now makes a nice side income by doing his favorite hobby.
Asking him about where he lives, Noam says of his home town: “Tel Aviv is a great place, being called the “city that never sleeps”. In any corner you can find bars, restaurants, museums, or something to do. It’s an amazing place to visit, and an even more amazing to live!”
I was interested to pick Noam’s brain about his techniques around covering songs on the piano, which he clearly has a talent. What’s the method to his madness? Is it easy? Can anyone do it? I set out to ask him these questions and learn more about his creative process.
Hi Noam, how long have you been playing piano?
Hey Dave! I’ve been playing piano for 11 years. I started playing when I was 10 years old.
You’ve been very focused on doing a lot of cover songs on the piano, is this true?
Yes. When I started play piano, I was learning with a teacher, who taught me mostly classical pieces.
Some years later, after I developed and became more experienced, I discovered the world of piano covers. And since then, most of my time with the piano is being dedicated for that.
What do you like about playing covers vs. playing original tunes?
So, one of the reasons I started making my own covers, was the simple fact that there is no sheet music for every song I want to play. I heard a song I really wanted to play, and I couldn’t play it, because I didn’t find sheet music for it.
After I progressed and learned more, I found out how great it is to give your own touch and style to the song you like. The satisfaction is seeing up the final product, which is a mix between the original song and the way your interpretation to it.
Do you remember some of the first songs you covered and why you covered them?
When I was 15 years old, I was really into rock and metal music. My favorite band was “Avenged Sevenfold”, and one of the first songs I covered was “So far away”, one of their most famous songs.
I listened to this song a lot, and also looked for different covers for this song in youtube- by different singers, all played by guitar and other instruments. One time I just decided to try and do it by my own, and I figured it- chord by chord.
In addition, I really liked some of Adele’s songs, and still, “All I ask” is one of my favorite songs to cover.
So you’re covering these songs by ear? Can you explain how you go about learning a song using just your ear and no sheet music or tablature?
Yes, I cover these songs by ear. So how do I do that? First, we need to understand that the one of the most important thing in songs, and especially in piano covers, is chords.
Chords are the driving force of the song, the thing that leads the song in a specific direction. There are different chords and different keys, and it’s really important to know most of the chords, in one key at least.
So as I said, chords are important, and the first thing I recommend in creating piano covers is finding the right chords. How do we do that?
1- If you don’t want to find it by yourself, there are some sites in internet which provides chords to famous songs.
2 – If you want to find it by yourself, or you don’t find the chords in internet, do it by yourself. I won’t explain it here, because it’s a very long topic.
But as a general recommendation, I would recommend finding the notes- in right hand- of the singer’s voice, and sometimes try to attach different chords to the right places, until you find the right chords.
It’s a long road at the beginning, but you become better and better.
So you record the melody first then, or at least find the melody first, before finding the chords?
I don’t record the melody separately. It means that I play the whole song at the same time.
About the question which thing I find first, the melody or the chords- it depends. Sometimes the chords are easier for me to find, sometimes the melody. But most of the time, it’s the mix of the two.
For instance, I can find how to play a specific part of the melody, and after that find the chords for this part. And in the next part of the song, I first find the chords, and only then find the melody related to those chords.
Aha. It sounds like you are covering all sorts of songs across many genres, both for professional and personal reasons. How long would you say the average cover takes you to a) figure out how to play it, and then b) record it?
So when I started playing covers of my own, each song took me days to cover – finding the melody, the chords, and how to play it right, was really hard and has been a new experience to me.
Now, after years of songs covering, I can learn how to play most of the songs completely after a few hours. Recording it isn’t really a problem, and it takes me less than a hour. In the record, though, it’s not so easy because you have to play it perfectly and not making any errors.
You do it all in one take? ie. one performance beginning to end? How many attempts do you usually need to make?
I almost always play it in one take, except for rare occasions where the song is really long, and I think a pause between the song parts will be better for my cover playing.
It takes me between 1-5 attempts normally.
What software are you using to record?
Actually, most of the time I’m not using any software at all. My electric piano supports usb port, which allows me to connect the hard disk to it and record songs straight to the hard disk. If, sometimes, I need to edit my piano track, I use “Audacity”.
So you’re saying you just use one track usually? Your recordings aren’t multi-tracked?
Exactly, 90 percent of the time I’m using only one track
So what tips would you suggest for people looking to get into the piano cover business like yourself?
So If someone is looking to get into the piano cover business, I would give him those tips:
*Don’t give up on classical pieces. Classical pieces are often beautiful to play, and also very educational for your music knowledge. In a way, playing classical pieces made me better at playing covers for regular songs.
*Try to find the chords by your own- at least at the beginning of your way- and not looking for it in interent. This music ability that you will require with this work will worth you a lot when you’ll progress. Look for chords pattern that you’ve already hear. You’ll see every day your progress.
*In the beginning, don’t look for the hardest songs, with a lot of chords and key changes. Cover songs that you like, make a lot of effort in them. Play the backing track with different melodies and learn how to make the same song to sound better each time.
Would you say weighted keys are a must for learning to play and covering songs? Or will any $5 keyboard do?
Well, I started learning with basic, simple electric piano. For learning the basics of music, you don’t need nothing beyond that.
Of course, if you’re already have a real piano it’s best to play at it. After you learn and progress, you will understand by your own that you need to get a better piano.
A better piano makes a better sound and provides all-around better experience. But for learning to play and cover songs? A simple electric piano is enough.
Although, keep in mind that a 5$ keyboard probably won’t be enough.
One of the single things I recommend to new players is buy a keyboard which supplies the “touch” utility, which means that with strong touch on the key you will get a strong, high sound, and with weak tough you will get a low sound. This is very important.
I guess this is similar to weighted keys, but not exactly the same. I guess the next question is, can you make a living off of doing this kind of work. I’m sure people who would want to enter this line of work are wondering that.
So Dave, this is a great question- and I’m actually asking this question for myself right now. In the last year covering songs was a hobby for me, hobby that finally is paying off. Still, I am far away from making a living off it.
Although, I am sure that every person that actually wants to to dedicate a lot for it, will be able to progress a lot and, maybe, make a living off it.
Anything else you might like to share with aspiring piano and keyboard players entering this field?
Yes. the simplest, yet one of the hardest to implement advice to you, is not to give up. You listen to amazing piano covers in Youtube, made by talented pianists which years of experience behind them, and you want to be like them.
So you start playing, and even after 2 days of playing, your piano cover sounds very basic- not similar to the cover you heard in Youtube. In this point most of the pianists give up, and comes back to their roots- playing from sheet music.
And this is what I don’t want you to do. Move on, continue to learn and develop. Before you’ll notice it, your covers will sound more amazing than you thought they could be 🙂
Liberty DeVitto has done pretty well for himself as a professional drummer over the past few decades.
His success story is as inspiring as any musician could hope for. DeVitto basically taught himself how to play drums, motivated by sheer enthusiasm for the instrument, at a young age, and worked his way into the music biz, where he has gone on to become one of the most respected and appreciated hired gun drummers out there.
This might explain why he appears in the 2017 documentary Hired Gun, which is about the best of the best musicians who are called upon for sessions with some of the world’s biggest musical artists, whether it be for a recording gig, or a touring gig of immense proportions.
Having drummed on dozens of records in all manner of styles, Liberty DeVitto has drummed for and with musicians like Carly Simon, Paul McCartney, Rick Wakeman, Meat Loaf, Karen Carpenter, Stevie Nicks, and, of course, Billy Joel, with whom he played with for 30 years, give or take.
Liberty is credited as having drummed on 150 million records sold worldwide!
Although his drumming style is quite varied, which is why he’s called upon by such a wide swath of musicians globally, I think it’s safe to say that Liberty is predominantly a rock drummer, and you can hear his punchy playing on most of the records he appears on.
Here’s one of the dozens of songs you’ve probably heard him playing on with Billy Joel from the classic album, 52nd Street, called “My Life”. Dig that snare sound!
These days, you can hear him rockin’ n’ rollin’ with his current band, the Slim Kings, who can be seen on tour these days around the country.
The Slim Kings are singer and guitarist Michael Sackler-Berner, R&B bassist Andy Attanasio, and DeVitto. They perform their own originals as a rhythm and blues power trio.
The Slim Kings are a workhorse band, and they love to get their groove on. Here is one of their more recent videos, for a song called Dangerous Place.
This band loves to play, above all else, and they get around. Here are the Slim Kings playing their song, “Colombian Money”, on the Artie Lange show.
As luck would have it, I got a chance to chat with DeVitto and ask him some questions around his recent exploits, and the something which is close to my heart as well, which is DRUMMING.
Please enjoy my little Q&A with Liberty DeVitto.
I would assume you prefer playing live to playing in the studio.Do you?
I actually like the studio better. I get to be two different people. One who plays the drums and then the other who listens back and decides if it’s good or not .
Yes I do, and in about a month we are doing the gala, and I will be playing with Trombone Shorty and Paul Shaffer.
Is there a “New York” style of drumming that you are aware of?If so, what are the characteristics of that style?
There are so many different cultures in NY, they all bring their own music. It is a very aggressive city and I think that comes out in ones playing.
If there was a band you could have jammed with from the past, who might it be…and why?
Traffic, I love Steve Winwood’s voice .
Has anyone ever called you a jazz drummer?Or jazzy?And, if they did, would that be a compliment or how would you take that?
The amount of jazz I can play can be heard on the song Zanzibar.
How often do you play drums these days, and in what context?Still playing with the The Lords of 52nd Street?
I live in Brooklyn so I don’t have drums in my apartment. I play when I am with my bands. I have two right now . The Lords of 52nd street, and the Slim Kings.
Do you still practice?
I do have a practice pad in the draw of my coffee table.
When you come up with a drum part for a song, do you try to make it simply fit in with the song, or do you purposely like to come up with challenging parts just to keep you on your toes?I say this because you seem to do both – play to the song, and also throw in cool embellishments at times.
I always play to the song.
If you see an opportunity for a drum solo or breakdown or even a timely fill in a song you’re playing with a band, but have yet to attempt it, do you say to the band “Look out guys, I’m gonna do something kind of crazy at around the half-way point?” or do you just spring it on the band mid-jam and let them react?
Yes and I have tried and failed!
Who are some of your favourite drummers?Or, is there a drummer whose work you come back to again and again that has really influenced you?
There are so many from the past. Right now I’m diggin Antonio Sanchez.
Is there a record that you can think of that has a drum sound that you’ve wanted to potentially imitate, but it’s so cool you think maybe you’ll never pull it off?
If there was a crappy old beat up drumset sitting there in front of you, and you had some time on your hands, would you a) sit down and play it, b) try to tune it and rearrange it and then play it, or c) ignore it and go do something else?
I’d try to play it .
Have you ever jammed with a heavy metal band, and if not, would you want to?And beyond that, could you?
In the documentary “Hired Gun “ I played with many metal guys.
What do you think of electronic music, ie. music that uses programmed beats and loops?Like, do you think it’s cool or an abomination?Side question – is there any electronic music on your computer or iPod / Spotify?
I don’t care for it and no.
How do you listen to music these days?The latest gadgets and doodads or dusty old vinyl? Cassettes? CD’s?
I listen on my iPod, also cds and mostly vinyl.
Is there a type of music that you’d like to get more into drumming-wise?Perhaps a style you’ve neglected over the years?
I have had a recent desire to learn bebop and big band.
Are you still connected to Camp Jam?Also, what do you like about connecting with the youth over music?You seem to have a passion for it.
I am not with Camp Jam any longer but I do enjoy talking to young people about music . I am part of a panel called “The Sessions” which fulfills that desire.
Do you like lighter or heavier sticks?You rock pretty hard, so I might guess…heavier ones to give it that extra whallop?
I use to use heavy sticks but have gone down to a 5A Promark.
When it comes to creating and selling royalty-free music online, I must admit that, until recently, I was only vaguely aware of the concept.
But, as a musician and someone who is always trying to explore new potential money-making ideas, there comes a time where such ideas enter your awareness and you ponder them. Sometimes even act on them.
Such was the case when I came across Diva Production Music, a Youtube channel that talks in depth about this very topic of making a sustainable business out of producing sought-after royalty-free music for the corporate world.
Back to him in a moment, as he is the subject of today’s article and interview. First a bit of context, if I may.
So, everyone who is of working age knows something of the “corporate world”, like it or not. As a musician, for a long time, just those two words together equated to “sellout”, and made me cringe slightly.
Same with my friends, too – we all hated the idea of the corporate world, and wanted to avoid it at all costs. To be honest, for me personally, that has equated to making music independently and seeing no income for my efforts for the past 20 years.
I also taught music, because, as they say, those can’t do, teach. A reductive definition to be sure, but somewhat true, I’ll admit.
But here we are in 2018, and, lets face it – everyone needs to make a living. Also, the music business has changed tremendously in the past 20 years. If you don’t know that, you must have been living under a rock.
Starting with the onset of the internet in about ’95, and then on P2P and file-sharing platforms like Napster and Limewire at the turn of the century, the control was forcibly taken away from those who run the music business, and “given back” to the people.
File “sharing” AKA theft (Lars was right all along) was in vogue and has been ever since.
The big music labels had to watch as everyone started simply taking everything that they had previously put a pricetag on, for free.
This of course went for movies, games, and everything else that could be turned into a file, and the entertainment industry tried their best to stop it. And continually failed.
Fast forward almost two decades. Independent musicians are now simultaneously more empowered to enter the world of entrepreneurship on their own terms, while at the same time far less attached to the idea of becoming a famous rock star one day.
This, I think, is not only because the “rock star” model was always somewhat of a lie, but also because there are many more options for starting actual legitimate online businesses open to individuals now that the age of the internet is beginning to mature slightly.
This is essentially where people like Daniel Carrizalez (AKA Diva Production Music) comes in to the story. Daniel is a musician, and has spent years honing his craft, composing songs and using all the gear he has at his disposal.
There came a point where he had to make a choice between using his skills as a musician to earn a living online, or earning his living in some other way (ie. a “real” job in an office or factory, perhaps).
The “rock star” notion was not something he was interested in, since it really is just a dream that comes true only once in a blue moon. It is not a viable career choice to a man with a wife, an 8-yr old daughter and a new baby.
So he began taking his music making abilities more “seriously”, if you will, in that he wanted to make music, but also he needed to earn a living.
Emphasis on the word need. Becoming aware of the new wave of internet marketing types, and jobs related to that field, Daniel began to explore his options.
One site that stood out to him in his search for potential job opportunities was Audiojungle.
Audiojungle is a sub section of the Envato Market, which is a much broader business that offers a multitude of services, one such being offering website themes and options to business owners.
The overarching concept of Envato, to my understanding, is to be able to hook up an online business person with whatever they need to help improve their own services.
Audiojungle, specifically, is a service that offers music to anyone who needs music for a commercial, or product of any kind, but lacks the musical element.
On Audiojungle, the music is pre-made by professionals (such as Diva Production Music ), and sold to those who are willing to pay for the license so that they can make use of it.
Without the license, if a person were to use this music, it would be considered stealing. With the purchase of a license (and there are various types), the buyer can now use the music they’ve purchased to use in their own project.
After watching some of Daniel’s content, I became more and more interested in the idea of using Audiojungle to make money with my music, and so I contacted him.
Luckily, he was willing to answer some of my burning questions on this matter. So, here is our interview. Enjoy!
Q: How long have you been making music?
A: I’ve been making music since I was a teenager, but composing and producing stock music only the last 4 years.
Q: What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
A: I enjoy all sorts of music, especially rock, alternative rock.
Q: What kind of music do you enjoy making?
A: I enjoying making a lot of acoustic guitar music and experiment with different elements. At the moment, I try to focus on making corporate music, the one that is required and is most popular for media projects.
Q: When did you become aware of Audiojungle?
A: In 2014, I did an extensive search on making and selling music online, and Audiojungle was one of the top marketplaces for that.
Q: Was it difficult to get started on Audiojungle? What’s the basic process for doing that?
A: Yes, it was difficult. I had no idea what stock music was and even though I knew all about music composition and production, I’d never done commercial music before.
The basic process involves setting up and author’s account and uploading your track. The music that you are uploading should reflect your strengths and ability to create more, quickly and effortlessly.
Q: What type of music do you specialize in making for Audiojungle?
A: I specialize in inspirational and feel-good music, particularly in the genres of rock, pop, folk and/or corporate.
Q: What type of gear setup do you have to make the tracks you make?
A: I am running ProTools on a Macbook pro laptop, use different WAVES plugins for the production of the music, an Eleven Rack as an interface, a SansAmp as a base preamp and a microphone preamp to record acoustic guitars. I also have a midi keyboard and a selection of different guitars, both electric and acoustic.
Q: How big is Audiojungle, community wise?
A: The community of Audiojungle is quite big and growing very fast.
Q: Is it competitive at all?
A: Yes, it is but the key here is not to compete but to create the best product for each and every project.I am a creator, NOT a competitor.
Q: Do you ever hear form Audiojungle for any reason or Envato for that matter?(ie. do you talk to a rep or is it hands off mostly)
A: There are no reps involved but if you need to contact support, there is a system available. But each author is on their own, and it is up to you to decide on your presentation and marketing of your music.
Q: How much of your work for Audiojungle is inspiration, how much is work work?
A: Inspiration comes after I start working on a new project. I believe that work is a good thing and inspiration comes from working on your craft. Inspiration, like motivation, will always let you down. One that creates cannot wait for inspiration to arrive; you find it only through working!
Q: What are their basic standards for whether a track is suitable for their platform?
A: Over the years, the bar has been raised higher and higher, both in composition and production. That means that the tracks uploaded and accepted back in 2010 most likely, will not be accepted now. The review process is very thorough nowadays and an author must continue to improve and polish their skills. The final result should be broadcast quality, like the music you hear on a TV commercial or YouTube ad.
Q: Who reviews the tracks submitted and how long does that process take?
A: There is a group ofreviewers in Audiojungle and the review time varies depending on the number of submissions. It can be anything from 7 days to 15 days for a song to be approved and up or sale.
Q: Who uses Audiojungle from the customer side, as far as your experience tells you?
A: Costumers are video-makers, film-makers, advertising companies and of course, YouTubers!
Q: What’s the price range of songs on Audiojungle?
A: A song can be sold based on the length of the music, starting from $12-15 to $19 for a standard license. The price will directly depend on the license purchased, for example, ie. broadcast license or film license.
Q: Does anyone try to pirate Audiojungle tracks that you know of?
A: Yes. I have personally heard and informed Audiojungle on tracks being used with the watermark.
Q: What kind of musicians do you think would be good authors on Audiojungle?
A: A good author on Audiojungle is any musician with the right mindset to be at the service of others, in this case, the other media makers and content creators.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
A: In order to become a successful stock music composer, we must be aware of the market’s needs, without comparing ourselves to other composers.
And…that about wraps things up here today! To learn more about Daniel and Diva Production Music, visit his Youtube channel here, and don’t forget to subscribe!
Today I spoke with Sarah Jane Curran, an alternative rocker and lead singer for the band The Violet Stones out of Sydney, Australia. I came across her music recently on Youtube (where she goes by Sarah Jane Music) and was impressed at all of the material on there, from original songs she’s written herself and with her band, as well as vlogs, live cuts, and a ton of cool covers of everyone’s favourite grunge rock classics (including weird B-sides and deep cuts).
Not only is Sarah a talented songwriter, but she can sing and pull off a number of different styles. Her channel is gaining momentum as I guess people like me stumble across her looking up old and new grunge style rock and metal, and her following grows as her band The Violet Stones do more gigs across Australia. A new album is also in the works. Here is our conversation which touches on a number of topics from this to that (and even *that*). Hope you dig it!
YC:Hey Sarah, how’s it going tonight?
SJM: It’s going pretty good thanks!
YC: Cool cool.So how’s the Australian music scene these days?
SJM: I don’t really have anything to compare it to honestly but I’ve just started playing around the scene last year and I think it is struggling a bit (mostly around the Sydney area). Although with bigger artists, I think it’s pretty good but it’s harder for smaller acts to get a following around here.
YC: Who’s big there now that everyone loves from the rock world…ermm.. Jet?
SJM: haha I don’t really hear about them tbh. But there’s this one band in particular called Tired Lion and they’re probably one of my favourite bands at the moment but they’re from Perth & I watched them gain more and more people at their shows every time they come back and they have a pretty decent following in every state I think.
SJM: Other bands that are big are bands like Violent Soho & Dune Rats. I guess that’s the sort of genre that is dominating the ‘alternative’ music scene at the moment. (Heavily influenced by grunge).
YC: Silverchair are done right? They’re like classic rock now i guess.. but they’re like a year younger than me so I remember when they came out I was like who are these little geeks? That was the second wave of grunge… post Cobain
SJM: haha the early Silverchair albums are probably a huge influence of Australian ‘grunge’. I’ve seen soooo many bands trying to be them
YC: And meanwhile they just wanted to be Helmet
SJM: If they were still around I’m sure they’d be one of the biggest bands here
YC: I think they were always slightly misunderstood in that they were more like Helmet than Nirvana but people just saw them as a mini Nirvana in the 90s
SJM:Yeah I never thought they sounded too similar to Nirvana but that’s what they’re sort of known for (for being the Australian Nirvana). My dad calls them ‘Nirvana in Pajamas’ hahahha
YC: awww.. cute. they’re a solid band.. I heard Daniel’s solo album and i thought it was half decent, even though it was like not rock at all as i recall. First few albums were pretty ass kicking. So your band.. is playing shows and such?
SJM: I actually saw Daniel Johns live! Yeah we are playing shows, and actually in the middle of recording our first album
YC: Daniel has a killer voice and rocks some mean riffs…anyway…How’s that going? I’m listening to Sheets of Denial.. pretty good for a demo…
SJM: It’s going pretty good, we’re getting our name out slowly amongst the Sydney scene. Thanks!
YC: I mean it sounds like not really a demo…how did you record that one?
SJM: We practice with an electric drum kit and plug our guitars straight into a console and it comes out into headphones that we all wear (so basically we can practice without making a lot of noise). And that demo was actually made I think the night we made the song, cause we record the songs so that we remember what we did ?
YC: Yeah. i can relate.. it’s easy to forget stuff…so wait that song has electronic drums?nahh
SJM: yeah it was recorded on an electric kit haha
YC: so what made you want to learn like 8 million covers?
SJM: hahah I guess in my early teens when I was just getting into Nirvana I decided to learn a lot of the songs cause you know, being able to play your favourite songs is pretty cool. So I did that and my friends and family were encouraging me to post them on youtube and I eventually did and people actually wanted more! I still post them because I guess it forces me to still learn songs even if I don’t feel like it and I guess it’s good for me to listen and try out new things with the covers
YC: lol yeah that makes sense…i mean having people pay attention helps motivation
SJM: yeah definitely hahah
YC: i’ve learned a lot of covers, but i can’t seem to get up the motivation to post them on my channel…i just post originals that no one listens to ? but you probably are aware that youtube’s algorithm kind of craves the stuff you’re doing.. ie. covers of famous songs…that’s how i came across you i think.. i was randomly looking up people covering Alice in Chains songs…
SJM: hahah yeah it really sucks how no one really cares that much about originals unless you’re already known for something else. Yeah, I guess thats part of the reason I do them still. Cause of course I don’t wanna always wanna do covers, I much rather play my own songs
YC: i’m in a band with a guy that actually despises doing covers. like, i’d be game to be in a covers band if it was cool covers. but he’s got a real hate for covers bands. cause it pushes original bands out of venues. he has a point i think
SJM: Yeah and theres a real market for cover bands over here.
YC: but people want covers…it pays the bar’s bills and shit
SJM: Yeah guess so, but it sucks. It’s really a hard market to break through in with your original music
YC: but your channel seems to be doing really well from what i can tell
SJM: Doing better than I ever expected like I had no idea what I did right
YC: well i do internet marketing for a living, so i know what i think you’re doing right
SJM: what did I do right then? hahah
YC: well…for one, youtube likes consistency. so you keep doing the same thing in the same format and that’s something youtube likes .. or like, the robots that control youtube. most people are unbelievably retarded and inconsistent
SJM: hahah yeah i knew that consistency was important, thats why I try upload once a week
YC: google / youtube likes to see a really consistent thing happening.. same look, same room, person, blah blah
SJM: ah cool thats good to know
YC: like if you’re too scatterbrained, and everything looks crazily different, youtube will be like “sorry bro”…it’s just like a theme, and also you’re not pissing off the family friendly part of the algorithm…and you’re a girl
YC: so the millions of freaks out there like girls as a rule…i’m not trying to say anything sexist lol but i mean.. it’s not my fault the world is sexist ? there’s probably some marketing thing where people trust girls more or something
SJM: No I know what you mean and I totally agree like I think people can’t get over the fact that a girl is singing and playing guitar on a System of a Down song. I think like 80% of my audience are dudes as well. think thats what my youtube stats say
YC: yeah.. it makes sense. well the other thing is musicians are notorious for not understanding marketing. it’s just not part of their mentality. so for instance the fact you can even interpret youtube stats .. or even know they exist. people in bands could give a fuck about that shit and when they do look at it, they don’t know what the fuck to make of it, and musicians from older generations are double screwed cause they just don’t get technology as it is today
SJM: hahah I think I’m very on top of things and very organized. Like I keep my band in order and I used to be the only one posted anything to our facebook page (they’ve started contributing more recently). my dads one of those people who doesn’t understand how to advertise or anything.
YC: yeah my band has a FB page but even i hate using it
SJM: it gets tiring but Facebooks been pretty good for my band. but I don’t think it does much for my youtube channel besides advertising and such
YC: i think it’s cool you have a really well rounded social media thing going on.. even on your youtube, you have the vlogs too, originals, covers, live shit
YC: it’s basically a sign that you and your band have your shit together
SJM: hahah I guess so
YC: so who are your biggest influences? i guess you’re big into Nirvana
SJM: yeah well I don’t really listen to them much now, but they’re basically my roots
YC: you’re covering b-sides and whatnot.. so not like.. average fan of Nevermind type thing. i notice with Nirvana you kind of sing the stuff he screams
SJM: um yeah. It’s because I can’t scream at the moment. I really want to though
YC: well you have the kind of voice that might get wrecked if you scream your lungs out
SJM: yeah I have tried and every time I do it, my throat hurts and thats not suppose to happen. But I got really into Korn recently..And other bands System of a down, Incubus, Hole, Foo Fighters, Tired Lion.
YC: how do you go about learning a korn song?
SJM: well its way more difficult since the guitarist use a 7 string so I basically find the tabs and have to transpose it into a way I can play it in standard
YC: yeah i was thinkin.. this isn’t standard. Who are some of your favourite players? like.. did you learn Korn because you’re obsessed with Fieldy? Fieldy crush?
SJM: haha nope I have a young Jonathon Davis crush. nah but I really love their songs and melodies and how its still heavy
YC: ah i see.. yeah chicks dig Jonathon
YC: I see your Cranberries cover got some traction eh
SJM: It did only after Dolores death though
YC: right.. yeah. who’s your fav guitar player at the moment?
SJM:I don’t really have favourite guitar players to be honest. I focus more on people’s ability to write songs and melodies
YC: yeah i feel ya on that.. it’s more about songs. so to tie it back to your album for a sec, when’s it gonna be done?
SJM: the bands album?
SJM: Should be done by the end of the year. We’re doing it diy so it doesnt really have a deadline or anything
YC: is there kind of a goal you have with this album? ie make it the heaviest fucking album of all time
SJM:We just want to get our stuff out there and have something to give to people when they ask us if we have an album or EP. Like we get asked after gigs often if we have anything released and we have to say no
YC: man.. you have nothing? for someone who records so much shit and does so much youtube, you should at least have something…….
SJM: That’s what we’re doing now hahah I guess because we didn’t know how we were gonna go about it like we’re broke and so we needed to find a cheaper option to record and we found it eventually. and we have demos and stuff out, enough to keep people somewhat interested
YC: so what do you give people? a USB? with demos? or nothing
SJM: Nah we don’t give them anything, they can just check out stuff online if they really wanted to
YC: hm well then! one more question – what are you recording stuff with ie. software?
SJM: We’re using Sonar X1. Basically my dads helping us out a lot with this and we’re just using what he has. We recorded the drums in a church and we had to set up everything from scratch and that was very interesting haha
YC: So you’re tracking things one by one, not doing live off the floor. that’s cool though, sounds like fun
SJM: nah we don’t have the set up for that and yeah it’s kinda good not having a deadline but also we just want it done. we kinda just want this album out of the way so we can start our next one because we like the new songs a lot more. just gotta do guitars, vocals and the mixing/mastering.
YC: Awesome.well it was cool to talk to ya.thanks for taking the time