12th Annual New Age Song Vox Pop Winner
5th Annual World Fusion Album Finalist
5th Annual Film/TV Song Finalist
5th Annual New Age Song Finalist
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Record Label: Brontosaurus Records
Home Base: San Diego, California
Categories Entered: I entered a variety of categories, but the one I was nominated in was for New Age Song. I don’t usually think of my music as New Age, but I’ve noticed that a lot of people who like New Age music like my stuff, so I entered a likely song in that category, and lo and behold, I was nominated. The labels are all just marketing terms anyway, so I’ll take it!
Work Submitted: “The Open Door ”
Artists Featured: It’s all me on this one.
Label: Brontosaurus Records
Who are your influences?: Everyone who makes music, has ever made music, and will ever make music. And animals, and the wind, and stuff like that, too.
Describe your nominated work: This song began life as a kalimba duet. I like to think it alternates between a peaceful, quietly joyful feeling, and then opens up into a slightly more “mysterious” vibe.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: Kalimba, mountain dulcimer, electric and acoustic guitars, synth. The hand drums and other percussion are about 80% acoustic instruments, 20% samples. I’m not an acoustic purist. I’ll use anything that gets in my way to get the sounds I’m after. Other songs on my Music Bucket CD feature stylophone and various junk being played with drumsticks.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: On my song Yeah, I had recorded a dulcimer melody, then later, as I was recording a vocal part, I decided spontaneously to sing along with that melody at one point in the song. I’d never rehearsed it, and halfway through my singing the part, I realized I didn’t really know it, and I was going to screw it up. I started laughing, and I ended up keeping my laughter in the recording. Can’t get much happier than that!
How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: I work and I save a certain amount of money from every paycheck specifically for my music projects, just like a little kid saves money from his paper route to buy a bike or something. If I was worried about recouping my expenses – man, I’d be really worried.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The 12th IMAs?: I believe my music is unique and offers a rare experience to people who have the opportunity to hear it. That alone makes it valuable, whether or not I ever make a dime.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: I’d like to have one of my songs become the theme for some cool TV show, like Weeds, or Six Feet Under. I’d like Brian Eno to want to produce my albums. But really, as long as I’m making what I believe is worthwhile music, then I’m pretty happy.
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: Me leverage them? I thought you guys were going to promote me all year long if I win! Actually, I will notify the entire universe of my IMA honors, without fail, repeatedly, forever and ever and ever and ever.
Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: The first answer is easy – whoever is too tired to stand up. The second, slightly more serious answer is, anyone who is open-minded about music and/or in search of fresh, melodic, sounds – music that makes you feel good – those people are my potential fans. Sometimes people don’t even know they want this sort of thing, until they hear it.
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: I haven’t done any touring for a long time. But I do watch Survivor and American Idol. Does that count?
Who are your musical heroes & influences?: Beatles, Eno, Ray Davies, Penguin Café Orchestra, Mike Keneally, Joni Mitchell, NRBQ, Battles, Jules Shear, Richard Julian, Talking Heads, Ry Cooder, Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, Leonard Cohen, Don Henry, Rolling Stones, and innumerable others whose effects on me may not obviously discernable when you listen to my music, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in there. Writers: Tony Hillerman, Nick Hornby, Mark Twain, Christopher Buckley, Lauren Hillenbrand, Barbara Kingsolver, Dave Eggers, many, many others. Yes, I count writers as music influences, because they inspire me to create. Other non-musicians that inspire me: His Holiness the Dali Llama, Thich Naht Hanh.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: I love so many songs. I’m just happy they were written. Doesn’t really matter who wrote them. Well, it does, ’cause I’m interested in that sort of thing, but I don’t waste energy wishing I’d written them. Usually.
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: Anyone who knows me well enough to be familiar with my music knows I’ll give anything a listen. A while back I couldn’t get enough of Mike Stern’s Big Neighborhood. A few years ago it was Lefty Frizzell. Lately it’s been Lucinda Williams, Miles Davis – I could go on.
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: I buy it. Guess I’m old fashioned in that way. In addition to getting stuff off the Internet, sometimes I find good stuff in used record stores, garage sales and thrift stores.
How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: Y’r askin’ the wrong guy.
What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: It’s easy to rail against music you don’t like that becomes popular. Get over it. Artists that get bagged on by music critics obviously have tapped into something that a lot of people like, and yes, most of it doesn’t have too much to do with real music, but, big deal. You can bet that anyone who is successful in the music business has probably sacrificed quite a bit to be in that position, and they probably deserve our compassion more than our disgust! Anyway, there are a lot more important things to pay attention to in this life. If you don’t like the music you hear on the radio, you know what to do. There are plenty of other places you can find good music these days.
Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: Probably not, despite current trends. I mean, would you want to watch only one scene of a movie, or read one chapter of a book? My favorite artists manage to tap into my deepest feelings and thoughts and make me want to hear more of what they have to say. Collections of songs, formerly called “albums” are good for this sort of thing.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is… Actually, I like that sentence just the way it is.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: New CD coming out this summer.