Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Peasants with Feathers

Hello once again everybody, I recently asked an old acquaintance of mine, going by the stage name of Peasants with Feathers to do an interview for this here blog, and he happily agreed to do so... so without any further ado, here it is... yet another Gnoyze exclusive for the likes of you all out there in the blogosphere!

Peasants with Feathers Logo Image

PS: Can you explain the origin behind your stage name?

PWF: Peasants With Feathers is a name i just woke up one day and said to myself peasants with feathers, uhh wow that sounds really good... poor people (Peasants ) rising/flying to the top, gaining fame, recognition, making it big, that sort of thing.

PS: How long have you been a DJ?

PWF: I actually started off as a DJ when I was in 7th grade...this was back in 1989. I DJ'd 'til the summer of 1994, where I jumped on a PC looking for sounds and ways to create music through Midi Programs, and then eventually with more sophisticated programs.

PS: Describe for us your musical background... what artists inspire you the most, and how did you get involved in music?

PWF: I think I was inspired by my mom, who would blast the radio with 60's and 70's music. That hippy/disco music got me hyper. I once got so excited that I decided to take my big wheel around the block by myself. I was about four or something like that; all i remember was getting in big trouble. But besides that um... people like Mantronix, The Fat Boys, Freestyle, Street Wars, Breakin', Guns N' Roses, wow too much to mention... lisss umm... J.J. Fad, basically everything I heard inspired me to what I did. You may have noticed the word "did" for I am currently retired from music and everything you hear that seems new is all prerecorded. I have been to the future and beyond, where I'm from there is no music, only silence. " Silence is the Ultimate Music " quote by Peasants With Feathers! (remember me when it happens)

PS: In your opinion, do you believe that a DJ needs to have a musical upbringing (meaning a musical education) or do you think that anybody with an appreciation for syncopated beats can do what you're doing?

PWF: I think that if your desire goes beyond what you consider music, only then can you appreciate music itself. This meaning, if you love music more than anything else around you, you can totally be free of criticism, or being afraid of rejection, or wanting others to hear your music basically to get feedback. So the answer is: no, you do not need a musical background, and yes anyone can make music.

PS: What's your opinion about the local music scene? Do you think it's more catered to DJ's such as yourself or do you feel that there's still room for live acts?

PWF: The local music scene is very much alive and kicking hard. People push it because they are afraid of it finishing. They don't want to succumb to just going to the movies, and eating dinner, and dates and stuff...they want to go, see, and hear live acts, and DJ's, and performances. There is still plenty of room for everyone and if there isn't room, we (the ones) who have made it, will always make way for the new.

PS: Explain your involvement with The Creature Tweaker Council... are you one of its original members?

PWF: The Creature Tweaker Council is a one way street of sound developers and I have provided the invisible road.

PS: That kind of sounds like there's some bad blood between you two, would you care to elaborate a little more upon that statement?

PWF: The one way street means that once you become a member of The Creature Tweaker Council, there is no getting out. Nobody leaves the council, they only take what they have learned and use it to make bigger and better things. I am in no way mad at anyone, in fact I'm proud of the success that many of the members are making.

PS: Do you consider music as an art form, meaning... is it an overall experimentation with sound, or is it just too heavily founded upon a set order/structure/rules or whatever it is that defines it as such?

PWF: To me sound has no rules, no measures, no ends, no beginnings. It is alive and dead simultaneously, it is neither art, nor music. Sound only has meaning to me. I love these types of questions because it brings people to question whether I am human or not.

Peasants with Feathers Image

PS: Describe for us the creative process that you go through when you conjure up a new piece of music... how does the piece evolve and how do you know when its finished?

PWF: I get sounds from various places I can't mention. I used to use a program called Renoise; it's a tracking program. I also used Fruity Loops to mix sounds, and finally Sound Forge to render and alter sounds; folders and folders of VST Plug-ins. If you don't know how to add them to the software you are using, do some research. Much of what you can possibly learn is on the internet, and the rest is in your brain. My laptops are my hard drives, I will one day give them away as I see many artist give away CD's these days. I hope all of you are alive to see that day.

PS: How different can a mixed song be when its performed live as opposed to when its put together in a home studio?

PWF: I personally spend about two weeks in advance preparing a one hour mix of different genres of music to play at a club called PS14 every Friday night. So, I love it that I don't have to worry about messing up a mix, or sound quality, or anything like that so you can say I'm the safe kinda DJ/Composer/Artist/Musician/Actor/Title/Title/Title...

PS: Do you rely upon stage theatrics when it comes to live shows, or does your act rely more upon the music you produce... or is it a little bit of both?

PWF: People come to see me and I force feed them my music. There is a big difference between my live performance and my DJ'ing for a venue or a club or an arena.

PS: What's the difference? Is it in your approach to the songs you arrange, or does it involve some other type of element?

PWF: My live performances are my music while DJ'ing consists of Bass, Freestyle, Dubstep, Pop, and various others (genres) that I mix together weeks before a gig. Usually every Friday at PS14 (Flamingo Fridays). If you wanna know where I'll be, check my MySpace schedule. I also have to make appearances, signings, school, meetings, movies, videos, photo shoots, out of town events, and meetings that kill me. I need new interns if anyone is interstead.

PS: How would you rate the importance of online social sites when it comes down to putting the word out about your music?

PWF: Social sites are extremely important, 95% of my day involves netcializing*. Emails, Blogs, Music, Food, Sleep, Sex, Study, Word of Mouth, Clubs, Raves, Bars, Venues, Flyers, Events, School, Clothing, Love, Meetings, Laughter, Sex, Pics, Videos, VJ's, DJ's, Sex, Work, Sleep... The most important one is sleep, and it doesn't even matter when you do it. For instance going to sleep at 7pm and waking up at 3am. You will never guess who does that!

PS: As a music artist, do you find it hard to get people to listen to what you're doing, or do you rely more upon the success of your last venue to spread through word of mouth to attract more people?

PWF: People only come to my shows to be around me, and to hear what I'm going to play next, because they haven't heard it before, some love it and some hate it but they still love me for me because I treat everyone as if i truly did have a brother or sister.

PS: Where do you see yourself, as far as your music is concerned, in the next couple of years?

PWF: I have done it all... I am just waiting for rest of the world to catch up. I love all of you... Thanks, Mr.Peasants With Feathers.

PS: Okay, and finally... the other thing I would like to know for the benefit of my readers, is where can the public-at-large find more of your work online?

PWF: My work is rarely online, except when I change a song on my MySpace page. I don't make CD's, and I don't usually put out music. You're just going to have to wait until you see a flyer that says Live Performance on it. Then you'll say: "Oh! That's what he sounds like!" and then stay, or go.

Well, there you have it folks, Peasants with Feathers; a true eccentric and very eclectic musical genius! Please be sure to check out one of his live performances whenever you can. This has been P.S. Elliott (AKA: Dr. Gonzo XXVII) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog.

* FYI: Netcializing is a combination of the words networking and socializing. Yes indeed, this is yet another milestone for the popularity of the American English language! Enjoy...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Interview with Boxwood

A couple of nights ago I ventured on over to the Annex to catch RadioBoxer's Radio Drama show, hoping to play the part of a would be visual projectionist to maybe provide some additional visuals for the group's special event. Knowing me, of course, plans usually wind up falling apart on me at the last minute...especially when something as odd as temporarily misplacing one's cell phone (in the freaking closet out of all places!) tends to keep one's mind awfully preoccupied! And far be it from me to contact anybody in advance as to what I'm about to do, for I'm just a spur of the moment kind of a guy! So what essentially happened there was that I showed up way over prepared (as usual) and possibly even a wee bit overdressed for the occasion...so after about an hour of standing around the place, still worrying as to the whereabouts of my phone, and getting some photographs taken (which I ludicrously deemed some potentially incriminating evidence) I chose to bail. What else can I say? I was already feeling out of place and about as useful as a third or fifth wheel on the motorbike, and/or automobile of your choice! However, while I was there I ran into a musician by the name of Jose, whom I had met at a previous RadioBoxer engagement. It turns out that Jose was set to be the opening act for the night's event, which prompted me to ask him if he'd be interested in doing an interview for this blog. He agreed, but unfortunately, I didn't plan ahead that far enough (especially after the whole unexpected mishap of my temporarily misplaced phone) and simply didn't bring my handy little digital recording device along. So I opted to conduct the interview via email instead. So here it goes, my interview with Jose from the musical act Boxwood. Enjoy!

Boxwood Image

PS: What are your musical influences? Is Pink Floyd by any chance a source of influence behind the song There's a Fire? The intro bears a slight resemblance to (or actually a cross between) Heartbeat, Pig Meat from the Zabriskie Point soundtrack and Time from Dark Side of the Moon.

BW: I would say the only influence I can think of behind There's a Fire would be an album I was listening to at the time called The Blacks are Home by The Blacks. This is probably not a helpful reference due to its obscurity but I find it necessary to mention it because Print and the singer, Jared McGuinness' solo project The Blacks are musical influences but unfortunately no longer around due to Jared's passing last year. My musical influences are many and usually counterweight each other. Radiohead, John Vanderslice and Xiu Xiu are more obvious ones. Less obvious would be Arab on Radar, Mission of Burma, and Black Dice. Big Star, Guided by Voices, Bowie, Beatles, Tom Waits, and Neutral Milk Hotel are all major influences. It never fails to amaze me on how many great bands/eras there are to discover. As your musical taste broadens more doors open. You get into things you couldn't have years before. Discovery and rediscovery.

PS: Where did you get the name Boxwood from? Is there any significant meaning behind that random choice of words?

BW: Boxwood was the name of a tape I made of my first 4-track recordings. It ended up sticking. I just combined two words I thought were catchy and looked it up later. It turns out it's an evergreen shrub. Commonly use as hedges. Sometimes designed to make patterns. The roots can be sculpted. I liked the imagery.

PS: Do you consider yourself more of a wordsmith or a technical mixer/looper of sounds?

BW: Both. They both compliment each other. I switch rolls depending on what the song needs. A simple, straightforward acoustic + vocal song need to be carried by the lyrics and/or delivery. When the arrangements become more the focus the words play a supporting role and the song becomes more of a sonic issue.

PS: Can you tell us a bit how your unique stage set up works?

BW: I guess the simplified version of the set up goes like this. Miked floor toms, vocals and acoustic guitar are fed into my peddle board. An RC-50 Loopstation sends the sound to either an arrangement of amps and speakers to the right of me or left of me or both.

PS: Most musicians find it challenging to recreate the sounds that they develop in the studio in a live stage setting; sometimes it's vice versa... do you by any chance share in that same struggle?

BW: I try not to hold my songs sacred. If a recorded song doesn't translate well live I change it and make it work. Some of the long drawn out songs that take a while to build up work well in a live situation because your watching it being created. It may not be as effective when it pops up in a playlist.

PS: How would you best define the type of music that you're creating?

BW: I don't know. Essentially it's pop. I guess you can say it's pop experimental. On my MySpace (profile) I dubbed it as Tropical Garage :) I hope that catches on.

PS: How many instruments do you play on record? And how dramatically does this differ from your live sound applications?

BW: I'll play whatever is necessary on record. It won't be virtuoso but it'll have a charm to it. It doesn't affect me live because as a solo performer there's only so much I can bring with me so like I said earlier I'll change a song to make it work live and vice versa.

PS: What prompted your decision to get into the music business?

BW: Well, I don't think it was a decision. Everything just led to it. It's music or anything else creative. I just like making things. I went to art school and found myself writing songs more than making paintings. Eventually one took the place of the other. The process is the same. It's easier with audio and melody to create the illusion of something huge as opposed to gathering the funds and resources to make a huge installation piece; one you can immerse yourself in. I suppose the latter would have been more ambitious, especially if I coupled the two...

PS: Do you regard your music as just a hobby or is it something you would consider doing professionally?

BW: It's definitely not a hobby. I sought out a dead end job in opposed to a career path to pay my bills so that I can focus on music. Doing something you thoroughly enjoy everyday and approaching every new song/project with enthusiasm has to lead to something good, even if it's not music.

PS: You're originally Long Island... is it hard for you to adjust to the climate down here?

BW: No, not really, although, I do miss the seasons. I've been here three years and this is the first year I actually feel the subtle nuances of the seasons. Before it was just hot. I actually did my last two years of high school here before moving back to New York for college. I've been back and forth between the two to visit my folks so Florida is not alien to me.

PS: And as a follow up to that question, what do you think of the scene down here, as far as underground and/or mainstream music is concerned?

BW: Not sure yet. You get spoiled living in New York, specifically Brooklyn where it's a very conducive environment for musicians or artists. Everyone's in the same boat and you don't have to go far to find what your looking for and there's a lot of it. Down here you really have to dig. I've met some really cool people and some great bands but nothing really feels like a scene. At least not yet, I don't go out much.

PS: Can you describe how the creative process works itself out for you when you're creating music, like for instance how do you create a song and how do you know when it's finished, etc.?

BW: It varies. Lately, with the loop peddle, I've been looping random non descriptive notes then try to make them into something by filling in the gaps. You can usually find a way to make it work, then you tweak it. Usually, whether this is the writing process or not, the entire song is flushed out vocals and everything but no words, sort of like Sigur Rós, then I record it on a mini tape player and listen to it then chisel out word from the gibberish. That usually kick starts a direction or subject matter and gives me a template. This, i think, helps you not force in lyrics that just don't go with or help the music. The gibberish tells you what it needs. The trick is getting the most mileage/substance out of a few words. Again, it depends on the song. Sometimes I add or extend notes to accommodate the lyrics if the lyrics are the focus.

PS: Finally, besides MySpace, do you have any other places online where people can check out your music?

BW: Yeah, you can also find me online at pollenrecords.com and on iTunes. Pollen Records is a label my friends in NY and I put together to present our music more professionally.

Well, there you have it folks! This has been P.S. Elliott or Dr. Gonzo XXVII (whichever comes first!) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog.

Rimsky's Defend the Castle Album Review

Hey again boys and girls, this is Dr. Gonzo II again...this time reviewing an album that I had purchased not so long ago at the Annex by Rimsky, which is an EP entitled: Defend the Castle. So without any further ado, here goes...

Rimsky Defend the Castle Album Image

False Confidence kicks off the album with its Kinks style guitar riffs and catchy pop lyrics. It's like rock n' roll at its finest, pure, fun, and simple! Rimsky himself spares no expense when it comes to lavish overproduction; as a matter of fact...his approach to mixing is that of a very old school approach; all the mics up against the amplifiers, everything recorded live, and no excuses! Serious musicians need only apply here, folks!

Libra sounds like something out of the Cheap Trick or Thin Lizzy catalogue. Very 70's style arena rock. If it wasn't for the fact that Rimsky is a local, I could have sworn that he was originally from Detroit Rock City! I even had to check my computer to make sure that I still had a CD player on board, for I even went as far as attempting to rewind the tape, thinking it was an eight track machine or something! And may I add that nowhere else, in this day and age, can you hear a very poignant chorus of "Ooooh, ooooh-ooh-oooh's!" adorning the likes of a very clever number such as this one!

The title track Defend the Castle springs up a myriad of likened artists. For a few bars, Rimsky sounds like Al Jardine doing his part for a Beach Boys' standard, but the progression of the song may be the direct consequence of throwing Tommy James and the Shondells, The Flaming Lips, and maybe even a bit of Eddie Van Halen's solo on Michael Jackson's Beat It into a musical blender and seeing what the outcome of it all is...and in this particular case, it's a great near three minute musical romp!

Silver Spoon is hands down my personal favorite off of this album. Lyrically, it's a very honest, satirical view on the struggles of a modern day musician having to deal with the industry while pleasing his fans, and perhaps not selling out in the process. "Everyone's in business, but I don't seem to have a clue... and all the hands are shakin' but I don't know how to make a move!" sings Rimsky. This has downright got to be the most brilliant phrase that I've seen (or heard) in a long time. It's amazing how the industry tends to settle for the more bland pop romanticism that saturates the airwaves in this day and age, and how people regard it as soulful or inspiring, when one can easily find some more honesty/truth/or whatever it is in the heart of underground indie. He then continues with: "Everything's a game, and no one wants to tell the truth, so we keep on hurtin' and smile because there's nothing new, step up here defenseless 'cause no one's going to get to you, and you're so far inside I don't think that love can rescue you!" I need not say more here, but it can all best be summed up in just these two or three (or maybe even four) words: Very fucking brilliant, indeed!

I Can't Picture Another Girl concludes the album, with its Elvis Costello-esque approach fueled with some really inspiring guitar licks possibly influenced by David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust era glam rock. Is that Mick Ronson in your pocket, or are you just happy to be playing here? You can almost smell the tubes burning the tweed off of the amplifiers on this track! This track can best be defined as something out of the 50's doo wop concert hall rock category. Dance hall days are back again indeed! Be sure to pick up your copy of Rimsky's Defend the Castle!

This has been P.S. Elliott (AKA: Dr. Gonzo XXVII) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog. Rock on, meng!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Random Thoughts with Natalie Brown

Hey again everybody, months back (or should I say almost a year ago? I can't really say for sure since for all obvious and/or somewhat hitherto semi-educational purposes I seemed to have lost track of time.) Anyways, I came across a MySpace profile for singer/artist/performer Natalie Brown and added her to my friends list. I didn't think much of it at the time; that was, until I saw a message of hers on the status and mood field which I felt compelled to answer, because it was one of those random questions that she throws out every now and again to network with her fans. And I was really surprised when she took the time from her extremely busy schedule to respond to my rather off-the-cuff comedic quip to whatever it was she was asking at the time (again, forgive me, but I seem to have lost track of what exactly it was that I said since it was so long ago...way before I even had this blog up and running!). Later on, when I was in the process of adding friends (up the wazoo and beyond) to the now defunct T-Central MySpace profile , I chose to conjure up a slide show for her (which is now defunct as well due to copyright issues and her recent signing to a major label and whatnot since it used a sample from her song It's A Beautiful Day), which she really dug, so now I'm happy to announce that she agreed to do an interview for this blog, and so here it is, for your eyes only...Enjoy!

PS: How did you get started in the music business?

NB: I performed in choirs from a very young age and then lead worship in churches as a teen. From there I got my first taste of recording and liked it a lot! I moved to the US to do a Gospel tour and from there decided I wanted to pursue a secular career. I became a session vocalist and signed with an Independent label. The label decided not to release my album, so I teamed up with the producer of that album and we released it on our own imprint. That’s the very nutshell story of how I got into the business.

PS: At what age would you say that you discovered that you had a talent, or natural ability to do what you do best? (i.e. sing, perform, etc.)

NB: At about eight years old people started to take notice of my voice and said it was special. I really didn’t pay attention to this until my teens when I sort of woke up to this and began to take it quite seriously. I’ve always performed really. Since the age of five I have been acting or singing even earlier if you count in dressing up and putting on plays and shows for anyone within ear or eye shot!

PS: How many instruments do you play? And were you classically trained or self taught?

NB: I play one instrument, my voice. I grew up performing in choirs and musical theatre, so I never had truly formal training until I studied the Speech Level Singing method with Dave Stroud in San Francisco. I studied with Dave, Seth Riggs and Lorna Emata Goodwin for about two to three years. That’s the extent of my training besides some rudimentary piano and theory, but I definitely would not call myself a piano player by any means!

PS: In your bio, you mention that you're originally from Canada. Can I ask you how living here has changed or challenged your perception about America?

NB: Yes I am from Canada and recently moved back to Toronto full time. Wow, this is a very complex question and I feel like trying to give you a paragraph answer would just not be sufficient. If you want to try to be something in the US there is a market to attempt it. The downside to the US is that there a zillion people striving for the Milk and Honey and not everyone will get it. Having seen the US in the 90’s and 2000’s and living through two administrations and the ushering of the latest one (I went to the inauguration and moved a few days later)... all I can say is that I’m fortunate to have learned a lot from the US and to take that knowledge with me wherever it is I go in the future.

PS: And as a follow up to that question, what is your opinion on health care reform down here in the states? Do you think that the current administration is doing enough to get the ball rolling in terms of creating a better health care system that works for everybody, or do you think that we still have a long way to go?

NB: I really can’t comment on what I feel that the Obama administration is doing in terms of Health Care reform as I have not lived physically in the US since the inauguration and have not been as attentive to the releases put out by the White House. I think there are so many problems and fires raging in the social, political and economic spheres within the US and that it must be incredibly difficult to do anything effectively when there are so many competing opinions. I will say that I believe that there should be a standard level of Health Care provided to all citizens (not to be, as we’ve recently heard, confused with “Socialism”). Healthy people make for happier and more productive people and this in turn boosts an economy. I’ve been a resident of the US without access to affordable Health Care, and I certainly would not wish this on anyone. Again, this is another question that one could write an entire piece on, but I will say that I think the US has a way to go on Health Care reform. It will be up to the people and the government to see that the Health Care situation is taken care of in an effective and efficient manner. There needs to be a healthy balance between a safety net for the people, free market flexibility for businesses, and everything reasonably in between. There seems to be a clamoring from interest groups for one extreme or another.

PS: Can you tell us why there was such a long wait between your first album Let the Candle Burn and Random Thoughts

Natalie Brown Image 1
Let the Candle Burn
Released 2000

NB: Lots happened during the eight years between releases! This business is full of paths that you least expect to go down. One path that I ventured off onto was writing music for Film and TV licensing. That was something that I really enjoyed and still do now and I spent some time developing my publishing company and learning that side of the music business.

During the time between releases there were also some deals offered that I ended up not accepting and also some joint ventures that I explored. At the end of the last negotiation, I realized that nobody really knew how to release my music properly except for Jeremy (manager) and I. After 2007 I decided no more entertaining these deals and going through meetings and paperwork, more meetings, new teams (because people were laid off like mad!) and more paperwork. I just wanted to make and release my music and I realized that I could best do that (for now) as an Indie artist.

It’s really interesting because there were Major and Indie artists out in 2000/2001 that were quite popular, and they had a few years of a run, and now they have just disappeared. I’ve seen so many people come and go and get burned out on music altogether. I’ve always envisioned my career to be a lifelong one. I see myself doing this fifty years from now, and I realize that there is a real danger in some commercial music pursuits because often times your run is very short or you just get so utterly jaded from what you go through that you throw the towel in and leave the game. I want to always be making and releasing music and so I have decided to do that on my terms.

PS: In your opinion, how much would you say that the sound you were producing back then differs from the songs you're producing nowadays? Would you say you've matured more as a vocalist/performer or as a songwriter/lyricist?

NB: I think there is always a “Natalie-ness” to everything I do. I feel like the songs on Random Thoughts are a progression from Let the Candle Burn, but the sound is still me. I think I definitely played with more styles on the new album and definitely explored some different topics and yes, as anyone would as they practice their craft; I’ve matured as a performer, writer and also as a person.

PS: Speaking of which, what do you regard yourself more as? A singer or a songwriter? Or is it a little bit of both?

NB: I regard myself a vocalist first and writer second. What I write tends to lean towards the poetic realm, so songwriting is something that I have had to work hard to learn as I’ve progressed in my career. I really do love to write songs and it is definitely an integral part of my artist self, but my natural talent is to be a vocalist.

PS: Are there any new projects on the horizon?

NB: Just working the release of Random Thoughts online and looking towards some live shows next year.

PS: When can we expect to see a new album, or perhaps even a single release type of offering from you?

NB: I release music when I feel led to and don’t really go by any sort of set release agenda. I can’t set an agenda on my creativity. I can say that it won’t be another eight years for a new album, but I really can’t say with any firmness when the next release will be. I philosophically don’t believe in releasing singles. That format of releasing music is not for me. I see my works in ‘bodies’ which are contained in the format of albums. This is a very personal view I hold, but I’m very adamant about it. In my view, singles are really for major label artists who are able to push them through radio and the machine that handles all that goes along with it. I don’t promote my songs to terrestrial radio and I feel that if someone wants a ‘single’ then can purchase whatever ‘single’ they may want from one of my albums on iTunes or Amazon Digital.

PS: If it were not for music, what else would you see yourself doing for a living?

NB: I’d be a professional beach explorer! I’m not really sure what I would do but some other crafts I enjoy are acting, jewelry making and digital art. Maybe I would have pursued one of those. I’m at heart, a creative person, so it would have to be a profession where I could use my creativity.

PS: Can you tell us what being a performer is like? Meaning, do you feel more at home (or natural) on the stage nowadays, or do you still get the occasional bout of stage fright every now and then?

NB: Being a performer is an enormous privilege for me and something that came naturally to me from my earliest days. To be able to present my songs to people and have them enjoy them is mind-blowing to me. As for where I feel at home, I would have to say that I’m very comfortable on stage, but I’m pretty comfortable in the studio. I love both environments for different reasons. It’s interesting you bring up stage fright. I was performing at a Jazz festival some years ago and Bobby McFerrin was there and I had the chance to sit down and pick his brain for a few moments. He told me that the day I do not get butterflies before I go on stage is the day I should take a long break from performing. The butterflies give you the edge.

PS: Which artists (be they musical, literary, visual, etc.) would you say have the most profound influence on your work?

NB: This is always difficult for me to answer because I have such a broad range of influences. In all honesty, the thing that influences my work the most is life, experience and my constant search to understand humans and this world. But if I have to answer this question with specific artistic influences, I would have to say that Annie Lennox, Mozart, Gladys Knight, Elton John, Billy Joel, classic Whitney and Mariah would be the musicians I connected to as a child. I’m an avid reader and I always get inspired by literature. I have pages and pages of ideas I’ve written down from my journeys through literature. I enjoy movies and get ideas from that medium. I would say that music, film and literature are my biggest art influences. As I’ve grown up, I’ve been exposed to so much more artistry and I can’t even begin to list names as it would take volumes. I basically read, watch and listen to anything I can and I also watch life happen around me. All of that inspires me to write and create.

PS: Are there any artists out there that you would one day like to collaborate or perform together with? If so, would you care to share it with us?

NB: Some artists I’d like to collaborate or perform with would be the ones below (for right now anyway!). Well known artists like: Gladys Knight, Alicia Keys, Chrisette Michele, Teena Marie, Common and Mos Def. And on the Indie tip, I’d like to work with: Ni Taylor, Adama, L*A*W, and Barry Southgate.

PS: How do you personally rate the importance of social sites such as MySpace, Facebook and/or Twitter when it comes to getting the word out about what you do as a musician?

NB: Honestly, I think social networks are huge, especially for Indie musicians who don’t have access to mainstream media exposure to become known by. I’ve been promoting my music online since 1997. This was before I even had an album out. The net has been huge for me to be able to spread the word and meet people who connect with what I do. Before Social Networking all we really had were forums and a handful of Online Music Distribution sites, and it was harder to spread the word to non-musicians specifically. MySpace blasted those doors open and since then it’s just been rapid fire growth and expansion which I welcome with open arms!

PS: Also, do you feel as though, that the dependence of artists to get visibility on the market through the use of the internet, in this day and age, may actually cause a disconnect between them and the audience? Like for example... why should people go to a Natalie Brown concert, when they can stay home and check out on YouTube or something?

NB: It’s interesting you say this because I feel the opposite. I feel that I have an even closer connection with my fans because of the internet. I think that this closer connection compels them even more to come and see me live. The beauty of something like UStream or YouTube is that I can get my show to people in other places or countries where I just would not be able to travel physically to. So I see these internet driven tools as a connector, not as isolators. True fans are going to come to see my shows no matter what, and I’m all for the true fans!

PS: Can you name what type of approach you have towards marketing yourself? Is it a do-it-yourself kind of a deal, or are you relying on outside help at the moment?

NB: We do everything in house here at our label. I do have a super web person that I work with and when I can’t tend to my site or I need some help she is there for me, but it’s usually myself or Jeremy doing everything from the social network stuff to the PR. We’re basically a two person team doing the work of ten departments! Thankfully we have a very strong work ethic and a real passion for what we are doing. This helps us go the extra mile!

PS: Explain the advantage that an artist who has their own publishing company has over others out there that are not aware of this type of business...

NB: To generalize, music publishing companies are set up to exploit musical compositions for commercial purposes.

Keep in mind that income from album/single sales is different from music licensing “sales”.

Music publishing deals with compositions (songs) only. The role of a publisher is to exploit the compositions and pitch them for use in television, film, recordings, musical theater etc. You don’t have to run a publishing company yourself to have your songs pitched. Some artists will seek out a publishing deal and assign this promotion/pitch task to that company, but to do this you usually assign a percentage of your publishing in exchange for the work done by the publisher and then you would only be paid your writer share. Royalties on songs are div'ied up into two halves: 50% writer, 50% publisher. The beauty of owning your own publishing company and doing all of the grunt work is that when your song is used in a commercial manner, you get the publisher cut and the writer cut, so you earn more money.

Publishing is a rather in depth subject, so I would suggest that if someone wants to know more info, they should Google “what does a music publisher do” and you will come up with answers to this question. I also offer a listing of books on the subject on my music business resource site Music Business 101 here:

http://musicbusiness101.info/books/music-publishing.html

PS: What do you see yourself doing in the next couple of years?

NB: I see myself increasing my fan base using the internet, doing some live shows, possibly doing a live DVD, delving into some more video stuff and writing and releasing more music.

Natalie Brown Image 2
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For more information on Natalie Brown, check out her website at Natalie-Brown.com. This has been P.S. Elliott (AKA: Dr. Gonzo XXVII) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog. Peace (frog) out!

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