Songwriter’s Monthly

Diane Birch Straight No Chaser West Coast Songwriters

July ’10, #126

Editor’s Notes
Welcome to July! For me, late June into July has always suffered the same fate as late January into February. There’s such a frantic pace and mad rush in the preceding months (graduation, recitals, vacation plans, etc.) that when the meat of July actually hits, it’s kind of timeless, you’re not actually keeping track of the days any more, they are just kind of . . . passing by. But July is not a time for relaxing, it’s a time for doing: working in the garden, cutting the grass, maintaining the pool, going to the beach, writing a new song. Writing a new song?! Who writes music in the summer? Summer is a time for reading and listening, not writing and creating. Summer is great for performing and touring, but not writing. Which is why I want to challenge you with . . .

The Most Difficult Songwriting Contest . . .

The rules are simple, before Labor Day 2010 you must write AND demo AND submit a brand new song to Songwriter’s Monthly. You can email it or send a link to where it’s posted, but it has to be done BEFORE Labor Day. And it has to be something that was written after July 2010! The contest is open to amateurs AND professionals, no one will be excluded. The winning song will receive Stone Temple Pilots latest CD (courtesy of Atlantic Records) and a write-up in Songwriter’s Monthly detailing the experience of writing the hardest song of your career! (So keep notes/dates that clearly prove the song was written this summer so you don’t get disqualified!) Thanks for reading (and writing)! Allen (

Editor’s Notes (Addendum!)
This issue grew like a beast and I (almost) lost control. Okay, maybe I did loose control, just a little. You wouldn’t believe the amount of material I had to cut! Please forgive any and all typos that you might find this month. We actually used a couple of proofreaders, but the sheer volume of material contained within these virtual pages and the quick turnaround probably means a few typos slipped by. Also, please do not feel like you have to read the entire issue in one sitting! Feel free to come back often (or download). The main reason for this addendum is to slip in a condensed Table Of Contents so you know exactly what’s in these pages and where it can be found. So, without further rambling . . .

Table Of Contents
Songwriting Contest - 2 Alyse Black: Hold Onto This - 4 Diane Birch: “Magic View” - 5 Cathy Wagner: The Music Festival Experience - 12 Michelle Lewis: Broken - 14 Anya Marina: Slow & Steady Seduction, Phase II - 16 True Stories: Confessions Of A Pop Star - 18 Ian Crombie: West Coast Songwriters - 19 Christina Aguilera: Bionic - 26 Alexandra Patsavas: Eclipse Soundtrack - 28 Nadia Ali: Fantasy - 30 Zara Taylor: Found - 30 Straight No Chaser: A Cappella Summer - 31 Dr. Demento: Update - 38 A Rocket To The Moon: “Like We Used To” - 38 Hanson: In The Moment - 39 Philadelphia Songwriters Project: Contest Winners - 47 Camera Can’t Lie: Video - 48 Jordan Tyler & The Northern Lights: Pardon Me - 49 Vegas With Randolph: Vegas With Randolph - 50 David Fiorenza: Creative Destruction - 52 Mountain Stage NewSong Contest - 53 Heidi McKee: Difference - 54 Blackhart Strangelove: Don’t Set Yourself On Fire - 56 Kimberley Locke: “Strobelight” - 57 Back Issues - 58

Alyse Black has an almost mystical beauty to her voice. Her phrasing curls seductively and trails off like a wisp of lover’s breath on a winter night while her pure and delicate tones enchant with the prowess of a skilled sorceress. Tracks like “Up In The Air (Not Too Late)” and “Super Hero” display the artist’s flair for writing catchy, yet original melody lines while “Both Ways (Dream Of You)” and “B-17 Bomber Girl” show off her riveting storytelling style that is directly pulled from her own life experiences. Alyse pays incredible attention to detail in both her imagery and her performance. Her lyrical portraits will draw themselves across your mind in indelible ink and become part of your life. “Willowing” is one of the most intense songs on the album. Black’s purring melody writhes within an exotic, swirling musical elixir as she sings about being caught “willowing.” “‘Willowing’ came from a late night over my piano with a glass of red wine in hand,” Alyse revealed. “I think it speaks to people on a really deep level, cutting through in a very visceral way, so sensual and powerful that I . . . I can't even explain it.” Black’s music hits with the impact of a well-timed whisper and the irresistible force of a primal urge. She has crafted a mesmerizing album that plays — quite alluringly — with light and shadows. id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0 &tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F %252Fhold-onto-this%252Fid332404951%253Fuo %253D4%2526partnerId%253D30

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

photo by Melodie McDaniel

Diane Birch
“Magic View”
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Diane Birch is a gifted writer and performer who has a penchant for drenching her Brill Building gems in a soulful gospel elixir. Her debut album entitled B IBLE B ELT came out a little over a year ago and Songwriter’s Monthly caught up with this intriguing and occasionally offbeat personality during her first headlining tour. “This is really nice,” Diane replied when asked how it felt to be headlining a tour. “I mean, the main thing is it’s a lot more fun seeing people actually responding to my music as opposed to trying to convince people who don’t know your music at all. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot more freeing and I can do my own thing.” Birch is a lean, almost lanky, young woman who carries herself with a curious grace. She is elegant and presents herself with the poise of a bygone era, but when she moves, she exhibits the cool and rhythmic swagger of a seasoned jazz player. She is not adverse to thinking of herself as an “old soul.” In fact, Diane eagerly shares the fact that she used to believe she was actually from a different century. “I was a Goth and I was kind of convinced I was from the 18th century. I was into vampires and so I used to go out at night and—” “Do you still believe you are a vampire?” I interrupted. Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

“I was into vampires and so I used to go out at night and—”

“Yeah, a little bit,” she smiled devilishly before continuing. “I used to go out and tell my parents I was going out with friends. Sometimes when I’d come home, they’d be waiting up for me and they’d get freaked out

the one who inspired that song because of a series of emails she’d sent to me about the way I was living my life, she didn’t agree . . .” Yet on another level Birch admitted, “The song was also me talking to me. I realized that even if you’re completely different and you are the black sheep, what your parents kind of subscribe to, that rubs off a little bit on you, too. My parents whole thing in life is they don’t want to offend, they just always want to keep the peace and I tend to want to be that way, too . . . but sometimes you really need to say it how it is and maybe ruffle a few feathers.”

“Sometimes you really need to say it how it is and maybe ruffle a few feathers.”
because I will have changed my outfit into some kind of really crazy vampire get-up and they would be very frightened at that point.” It’s important to point out that Diane’s father was a preacher and she grew up spending a lot of time in church. In fact, the reason she titled her debut album BIBLE BELT was because the Bible “was kind of the forefront of the household and it was much like a belt that was too tight, very restricting.” One of the tracks on the album is called “Don’t Wait Up.” With lines like “I said to the preacher standing at my door” and “don’t wait up for me cause you ain’t gonna like what you see,” it’s fairly obvious to see the inspiration behind that song. However, other tracks like “Rise Up” are deceptively obvious. On one level, the rousing track was inspired by her mom. “My mom has a tendency to be a little narrow-minded at times,” Diane expressed. “She was Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Birch’s alluring eyes are wide, open and more than a bit captivating, ye t a p a r t o f t h e m r e m a i n s partially obscured by her bangs. Her songwriting displays very similar qualities. On the surface, her lyrics appear to be autobiographical pages ripped directly from her restrictive upbringing. However, quite often, there is a deeper meaning — something going on behind the story — and it is this aspect that allows Birch’s songs to resonate with such a wide audience. Recently, Diane’s song, “Valentino,” gathered quite a bit of attention on the web due to the wildly creative video that was created to accompany the music [See: http://]. She explained, “Valentino was my imaginary friend as a teenager. He was also my muse. The song is inspired by Valentino, but it’s really about the transition between childhood and adulthood. When you’re a child, you’re just kind of free to flow anywhere, your brain goes anywhere, and you start imagining all kinds of

On the set of “Valentino.” “I don’t write on command,” Diane noted. “It has to be an inspirational thing or I just don’t feel that it’s really . . . authentic. And I write everything together, I write music, melody and lyrics pretty much simultaneously, everything kind of feeds off the other parts, when I’m writing.” Birch tries not to spend too much time on lyrics. She’s not a big fan of rewriting. “Sometimes when I go back and I try to write lyrics it ends up being too wordy. Once I start thinking too much, it always turns sour, so I try to keep a childlike perspective when writing, you know? It’s all about gut.”

“Valentino was my imaginary friend as a teenager. He was also my muse.”
crazy stuff. Then you start growing up and you start censoring your thoughts, you become a lot more logical, a lot more rational and realistic. ‘Valentino’ is really about that transitional phase of life.” Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

The Story Behind: “Rewind”
“Rewind” was inspired by a situation. I’d broken up with somebody and ran into him about six months later in a coffee shop and he was with his new girlfriend. She was really nice then I went home later that day and I was like, “Did I totally f*** up?! Did I make a mistake?!” But at the same time I knew I’d made the right decision, it was just that moment of ego. I channeled that feeling and based the whole song off of that moment of “Did I mess up?!” When I wrote that song, It actually sounded very different, it’s the only song that changed during the recording process. It’s probably the oldest song on the record — I wrote it in 2006 — and at the time it had a different style, it was the same melody, pretty much, but it was very Cold Play-esque. Everybody loved the song, but we didn’t really think it matched the rest of the record. I thought to myself what if I changed it, what if I came up with a different piano riff? We were at the recording studio and I ran over to the piano and I was like, “Give me a second, give me a second!” I went to the piano and I started playing that riff. The piano was recorded a few takes after that, so when I’m playing the piano on the recording it’s pretty much what I came up with on the spot.

She continued, “Also, I think there’s a way that a word sounds, a tonal flow, the overall vibe that it creates from the sound of it. Sometimes that’s just as important as the meaning of the word, itself. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking, ‘Oh does that make sense?’ I just sort of say it and let it come out very organically, I don’t do a lot of e d i t i n g . T h e s e s o n g s a r e p r e t ty straightforward and they are all really autobiographical, but hopefully they also have depth. I don’t think something has to be complicated in order for it to be meaningful or have depth.” Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

This album is very straightforward and very honest.”

“I don’t actually know why I play the way I do, it’s always a mystery to me,” she responded when asked about her style and influences. “I guess I just sort of evolved my style over time and I sort of play what comes naturally. I spent a lot of time playing piano bars and there’s a lot of really interesting chords and colors and shapes in those standards, but . . .” She thought for a moment, then decided, “Sometimes there’s a method, but there’s no method with me, it’s just kind of like how I ended up.” When asked if she had a favorite track on the album, Diane immediately cited a song that could have been labeled a bonus track because of the way it stands apart from the rest of the album.

As far as her piano playing, Diane revealed, “I’m the worst reader ever! I don’t really regret it because for what I do, it’s much better to have an ear than to be able to sight read — my ear’s pretty sharp, I just need to hear it, then I can play it.” Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

“My favorite song on the album is ‘Magic View’ because it’s very personal. I wrote that pretty soon after moving to New York — I felt really inspired by the city. The style of the song is a departure from a lot of the other styles on the album and it’s very honest. It represents another side of me, musically, that I didn’t explore on the record just because I didn’t want to make it . . . well, the label didn’t want me to make an album filled with sad, mopey songs. But that’s really where my head was at at the time. Over the course of performing with this album and promoting it, I’ve developed much more of a rhythmical inclination and now I’m really enjoying

“Once I start thinking too much, it always turns sour, so I try to keep a childlike perspective when writing . . .”
the uptempo stuff, but at the time it was a struggle because ‘Magic View’ was just where I wanted everything to be. It’s like my little grain of freedom,” she grinned. “This is what I’m going to hang onto, this little granule of this sound, because that is what I was really feeling at the time.” “I do have a lot of music that is a lot darker and very different from what is on this album, but when I looked at all the things I wanted to say I realized that you can’t say everything about yourself on one album,” she continued. “These songs seemed to kind of fit into a body of work, so the other influences and the other types of areas that I’d like to venture into, they can come on another album.” “The songs on B IBLE B ELT are all different takes on my own life,” Diane concluded. “There’s a lot of consistencies and Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

probably recurring things just because it’s all about me, it’s all about my own struggles in my own head. A lot of my influence is based in church hymns and the religious terminology has really influenced my lyrics. I’m not religious now and the record is definitely not religious in any way, but it’s all these things that were instilled in me at a very young age, they just have not gone anywhere, they are still there, so as opposed to rebelling against it and running away from it and trying to be something I’m not, I decided I might as well just embrace it. This album is very straightforward and very honest.” For more information on Diane Birch, visit:

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Cathy Wagner
The Music Festival Experience
I think everyone agrees with me when I say that summer is great. The weather ’s nice, there’s an extra something in the air that brightens everyone’s days just a little bit, there’s a hint more time for some R&R, etc. Simply put, there’s always something fun to do, and as far as music is concerned, summer is my favorite time of year because of its amazing music festivals. It seems to me that in recent years, music festivals have been gaining popularity around the country. Between Coachella in Southern California, to Bonnaroo in Tennessee, to Lollapalooza Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126 in Chicago, it no longer matters where in the country you’re located – there will always be a festival nearby for your viewing pleasure. This seriously excites me. I’ve been to my fair share of festivals over the years, but there are definitely still a few that I am aching to attend (and with more and more popping up every year, I don’t see that changing anytime soon). For example, the line-up for the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco blows my m i n d e v e r y y e a r, a s w e l l a s Bumbershoot in Seattle. The greatest thing about music festivals is the ability to see so many performers

in one area at one time. There is a certain amount of sacrifice when artists you want to see are playing simultaneously on two different stages, but the fact that you can spend a day (or two, or four) in one location, basking in the music of bands you love and bands you have yet to fall in love with, is incredible. Something is to be said about the people who attend these festivals, too. I’ve noticed that people who put aside the time to attend a music festival are generally some of the most genuine and friendly fans of music I’ve ever met in my life. I’m not quite sure what that may mean, other than the possibility that being fully immersed in music unites people in a way that casual music experiences can’t fully grasp. But, I digress . . . This year’s festival of choice for me was Bonnaroo, which meant four days of camping out in tents with thousands upon thousands of unshowered, hippie-esque indie folks in the heart of Tennessee. It was my first Bonnaroo experience, and after something like that, it’s safe to say I’m a changed woman. Sure, it was disgustingly hot outside. Sure, I had to shower 3 times after I got home in order to wash off all of the dirt, sunscreen, and bug spray. I even got mud all over my favorite white shirt and stained it to ruins! But, I also got something from the experience — more live music than I knew what to do with (highlights including Blitzen Trapper, She & Him, Kings of Leon, Kevin Devine, and the always funny Conan O’Brien), and one of the best corn dogs Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

"After waiting for 4 hours in line to see Conan O'Brien in person, I had to settle for watching him via live video feed on a separate stage. Can you blame me for frowning?" I’ve ever had in my life. If I could encourage you to do one thing, it would be to attend at least one music festival if you ever get the chance. It doesn’t matter if it’s big (like a four day Bonnaroo) or small (like a one day Warped Tour or Lillith Fair that just so happens to be coming through your town), the experience still holds true — good music, good people, and one hell of a sunburn. If you could put together your own music festival, what bands would you ensure made it onto the bill? Email me at and let me know!

Michelle Lewis BROKEN
Remember those butterflies that exploded and darted frantically about in your stomach when you had your first crush? Remember that gentle yet intense thrill you felt moments before your first kiss? That’s what happens when you listen to Michelle’s music. All those overwhelming, quiet-moment feelings

that wash over your body and leave you in a tingly bliss emerge as she softly sings about love, hurt and loneliness. The title track is a look back at a relationship that didn’t work out. Part confession, part realization, the song hits with the blunt force of honesty.

When asked if she truly felt “broken” Michelle responded, “Who hasn't had their heart broken, or felt not good enough? I've always written songs that are personal to me, but my hope is that they have the same affect on the listener.”

“Who hasn't had their heart broken, or felt not good enough?”

“No matter how many people you have in your life, you are always left with yourself.”

Of the next song on the EP, “Lonely Life,” Lewis initially denied that she was truly lonely when writing it. “It came to me more as a sad cowboy song. It’s a song that realizes there is

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126 a lot of sorrow in the world, one that knows no matter how many people you have in your life, you are always left with yourself.” After less than a moment, Michelle recalled, “It's funny, I just realized that I wrote that song when I was on the road, completely alone, in an empty, dark house.” However, as moving as the first two tracks are, it’s the third song which is sprinkled with such imagery and detail that it’s impossible not to find yourself forming an emotional bond with the title character. “Unlike the other two songs on the EP, ‘Breakfast At Tiffany's’ does tell a very specific story,” Michelle revealed. “When you are honest and write about something you know, it comes through, and the song is better for it. Lewis concluded, “I think the reason that these songs work is because people can relate to them.” id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tm pid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F %252Fbroken%252Fid350721370%253Fuo %253D4%2526partnerId%253D30

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126


Anya Marina
“Anya Marina’s latest album, SLOW & STEADY SEDUCTION, PHASE II, is a tightly honed collection of winking pop gems and slyly sexy rock and roll that showcases this newcomer’s deft melodic sensibility and wryly humorous lyrical point of view.” Suburban Roads Magazine, Editor, Cathy Wagner, had a chance to talk with Anya. In this crossover feature, Songwriter’s Monthly is running an excerpt which focuses on a key point in Anya’s career that led her to making a vital change in her life that allowed her to focus on her music. Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

by Cathy Wagner
Cathy Wagner: What pushed you to make the switch from being a DJ to focusing on performing? Anya Marina: It was a really gradual process, it was definitely not an overnight thing. I had been doing both and balancing both for a really long time, and then I did what I always do whenever I'm faced with a challenge like that: I waited until the absolute last moment, to where I was just about to have a nervous breakdown because I couldn't juggle anymore. I said to myself, "Okay, something's gotta get cut out." I was waiting for

and an extremely generous reaction. C : Wo u l d y o u e v e r consider going back into DJing again? A: Oh yeah! I'm still on the payroll! Technically, I'm still an employee. I'll always have that to fall back on, and I'll always have a love of radio. In a way I feel like all of those needs or desires that were met for me through radio are being met now on the road tenfold. Everything from flipcam videos, which are an art form to me because I have so much fun making those things, to performing every night on stage, to meeting people after the show, to formulating what I'm going to talk or sing about that night. I'm getting all of those needs met, and if ever that stops — knock on wood that it doesn't — I'll know that I always have those skills to fall back on. I can always do a satellite radio talk show . . . To read the rest of Cathy’s interview, visit: interviews/amarina.html

the moment where I said, "This is ridiculous." Showing up to work 5 or 10 minutes late every day was just not going to fly and asking for all this time off to drive up to LA to meet with people wasn't going to work. I was asking for my vacation time early so I could go on tour — I would never actually take vacations, I would just use my vacation time to go tour. It was fine with me, but at a certain point, I was starting to feel like I was burning the candle at both ends. It came down to one tearful conversation with my boss where I was like, "I really don't want to do this because this is my dream job, but I have to because I'm going crazy!" It was really great when he said, "If yo u d o n ' t t a ke a l e ave o f absence, or quit, or try this, I'm going to fire you, because I know how much this means to you." It was really surprising Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

TRUE STORIES! Confessions Of A Pop Star
What you are about to read is a true account, only the names have been omitted to protect the parties involved . . . “Sometimes with a young artist, they are really not the writers, they are just in the room while the song is being written. No one would ever want to admit that, especially to you because you’re specifically a songwriting magazine. I know from coming out on a major label with all of my peers during that era with that type of pop music . . . a lot of those artist were just in the room, they wouldn’t know the first thing about rhyming or melody.”

“I remember the first time I wrote with [Hit Songwriter] — she wrote [Mega-Pop Star's] [Number 1 Song] . . . And I remember the first time I wrote with her for my major label debut, she literally was like, ‘Bring your diary, I want to read it.’ I was like, ‘What?!’ But she just said, ‘Oh, shut up and bring it, I’m not going to tell anybody what’s in it.’ She went through my notebook and she just pulled material from that.” “I was still in my early days of learning how to collaborate . . . how to express myself to a co-writer and have the confidence to say, ‘I have an idea, I think it’s good and I really believe in it.’ Remember, you’re around all these people who are twice your age, they are so seasoned and they have all these hits that they’ve already written . . . it’s intimidating! [Hit Songwriter] knew what she was doing buy saying. ‘Give me your diary and just shut up and let me read it.’ I love that. I love that she did that! I haven’t thought about that in years and years . . . I’m totally going to email her today and remind her! But, yes, that’s how it really works with a younger artist.”

Ian Crombie
West Coast Songwriters
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

West Coast Songwriters was started by Michael Silversher and Patricia (Patty) Silversher in 1979 with hopes of both creating ways to market songs and creating a support group to help songwriters write better songs. A couple of years after launching the

“There’s nobody doing the level of events that we are doing . . .”
organization, the Silvershers moved to go work for Disney where they wrote music for such programs as DuckTales, The Little Mermaid, Winnie The Pooh, and VeggieTales. “There’s nobody doing the level of events that we are doing,” Ian Crombie, Executive Director of West Coast Songwriters began. “We do fifteen to twenty events every month . . . and we’ve been presenting these events on a weekly basis for the last thirty years. Which is pretty incredible if you think about it.” And it is incredible! Even the calendars of such organizations as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or NARAS might seem empty by comparison. Running a group this active requires a dedication and a personal sacrifice that few would be able to offer let alone maintain. Ian Crombie has been doing it since 1988! Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126 Ian released his first record in England in 1967. He visited the United States in 1980 while on tour. About a year after going back to England, Crombie returned to the States, this time to stay. “One story goes into another and what happened was I ended up going to the yellow pages and I saw there was a songwriter association. I called them up and started attending events and pitching songs,” Ian explained. “I was asked to take over the reins, just temporarily . . . and here we are 22 years later! Sometimes that’s how it works. Initially, I didn’t even know if I wanted the job, I didn’t even know what the job was, but I’m one of those kinds of people that if I fully immerse myself in something, I’ll figure it out.”

And that’s exactly what Ian did, he “fully immersed” himself in the West Coast Songwriters association. According to one press statement: “With [Ian Crombie’s] leadership, WCS has grown to one of the most active songwriter associations in the United States.” In 2008, Music Connection Magazine named Ian as one of the Top 50 “Innovators, Iconoclasts,

in a guest to review material. We hold the sessions in Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area and Hollywood, but you can also mail songs in, you don’t have to be there in person.” Ian expressed his excitement for the fairly new Skype sessions that the group has been trying out. Through Skype, Ian can set up sessions with

House Concert with Sara Bareilles Groundbreakers and Guiding Lights” of the year. “We have so many things that we do where people can be involved,” Crombie pointed out. “We have song screening sessions every month where we bring Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126 industry professionals that otherwise would have been impossible due to time and travel constraints. WSC also offers numerous contests, songwriting classes, songwriter s h o w c a s e s , Wo r k s - i n - P r o g r e s s

S e s s i o n s , a n e w s l e t t e r, a m u s i c conference and more. But Ian is quick to divert the praise away from himself. Almost immediately he started touting the merits of the other people involved in the organization. “I am supported by an incredible team of volunteers. When I talked to John Brahney who used to run LASS [Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase], he said they disappeared because they didn’t have the depth of volunteers that we have. This organization has a life of its own. I’m sure things that I have done have affected the way things have gone, but it’s just the pure energy of everybody t h a t ’s i n v o l v e d , e v e r y b o d y w h o volunteers and gives to this organization, that’s what makes it what it is! It’s the sum of everybody.”

“It is amazing, it really is,” he continued. “When a manager drops out from one of our events, we don’t just plug anybody in there.”

“It’s just the pure energy of everybody that’s involved . . . that’s what makes it what it is!”
Crombie went on to single out WCS’s Publicity and Promotions Director, Alison Williams. “Alison has been a friend for a long time, she’s just a great person, plus I knew her husband when he worked at Windham Hill Records. When I had to make suggestions on who I thought should come on the board, I chose Ali.” “I feel really good that we have great people who are part of this organization because this organization

Steven Memmel Intimate Workshop

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for so many hands doing so many things,” Ian reiterated. But still, for all the wonderful volunteers, Ian is continually faced with some tough career decisions and sacrifices. When asked if the demands of his position have caused him to neglect his own c a r e e r, h e j o k e d , “ I ’ m a procrastinator by nature, so I could use that excuse.” “I don’t have to be at every event now because we have all the volunteers set up,” he noted with a more serious tone, “but I’m in touch with everybody and I’m still very hands-on. We have a class this weekend with Steve Seskin and Bonnie Hayes and I’ll be there to make sure it starts off properly . . . but then I’ll probably run out and grab sandwiches so that they’ll have lunch, too. Nothing is beneath me as far as I’m concerned.” After a moment’s reflection, Ian seemed t o r e a l i z e , “ Yo u know, I p rob ab l y have the most amount of connections that probably anybody could ever have and yet I don’t take advantage of them because it’s not something that I feel comfortable doing.”

Martin Atkins Seminar Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Ian added, “But I think that what usually happens is, if you don’t try and pitch to someone, they’ll say, ‘Don’t you write?’ Which is a different way to do it than to be handing people your songs.” And not surprisingly, that’s loosely the philosophy behind WCS’s single most important event: the annual West Coast Songwriters Music Conference [September 10th through 12th at Foothill College in Los Altos, California].

guests from the attendees out of respect for the guests, but we’ve found that it’s actually better this way. You

“The beauty of our conference is it’s up close and personal.”
can still police it, but if you let everybody hang out together and talk, the guests enjoy it just as much as the attendees.”

A relaxed lunch with time to network and make friends.

“The beauty of our conference,” Ian stated, “is it’s up close and personal. You’re not scrambling to try and meet everyone, you actually sit down and eat with the same people who are listening to your songs and giving seminars, it’s very grassroots in that respect. We’ve had some amazing guests over the years: Lamont Dozier, Mike Reid, Allen Shamblin and all these incredible songwriters. We used to separate the Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

“ B e s i d e s , desperate is ugly. People can get really desperate about songwriting and it just brings out a different person. Our thing is to relax, enjoy and talk. You don’t even have to talk about songwriting, just talk to the guests as if they are someone you’re just meeting. And it doesn’t even have to be about songwriting! But it will come around to songwriting because that’s what you do, that’s the connection between both of you, just don’t force it.” “We’ll have around 50 guests for that event,” Crombie informed. “We fly

people in from Nashville, L.A. and sometimes New York, as well. Peter Yarrow was just confirmed! He is going to be performing somewhere close to where our conference is, so that’s why we were able to lock him in. We always look at who is touring and who is in the area that we can bring in.” As far as genres represented at the conference, Ian stated, “We try to keep it as open as possible because people do write in all styles. We call it a ‘music’ conference because we didn’t want people to think it’s just about songs, although that’s the core of it. We have people who write Children’s music, people who write Liturgical music, music for tv and film . . . there’s no one style. The bond between all of us is that we all write songs or we all write music. We e a c h h a v e our own goal as to what we would like to do within that realm, which is why we try to bring in people from as many different areas as possible.” “It ’s a lot of work. As soon as one conference ends, we start working on the one for the following year because it takes that long to set all of these things up.”

As previously stated, it takes a special kind of person to put in so many hours to continually achieve such grand accomplishments. “The thing is, you see, I obviously don’t care enough about money,” Ian laughed. “I really feel that I was put on this planet to help people and I really enjoy doing what I do which is giving people advice and feedback and carrying on these events.” For more information on West Coast Songwriters and their upcoming Music Conference [September 10th through 12th], visit: You can also find the West Coast Songwriters on facebook.

Songwriters Panel

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Photo: Alix Malka

Christina Aguilera BIONIC RCA Records
Notice: This album contains adult content. Christina is back with a vengeance! BIONIC is new territory for the sonic vixen. Aguilera pushes her vocals deeper and explores a rather unexpected tech turn in the production. The result is an intense album that is perhaps the most cohesive artistic vision of her career. Christina stated, “Working on this album with so many talented artists and producers that I admire was really an amazing experience. The artists I chose to work with added so many unique sonic layers to BIONIC. My intention was to step into their world and what they do combined with my own vision and sound.” Surprisingly, a unity emerges out of the vast and seemingly chaotic assemblage of collaborators that ranges from Polow Da Don to Ladytron to Linda Perry. Aguilera blends an impressive array of buzzes, whirls, hums, loops, autotune and samples with breathtakingly organic material to create a staggering double-take synthesis of flesh and machine.

The overtly exhibitionist nature of the album is unapologetically presented. Christina’s sexuality isn’t cute or coyly hinted at this time around, it’s thrown in your face with an “If you don’t like it then f*** you” attitude as directly stated in “Not Myself Tonight.” “Woohoo,” though reminiscent of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” in it’s upbeat cheer-rap flavor, is more so about female anatomy than it is an expression of excitement. And if there’s any uncertainty as to what’s going on in this album, “Sex For Breakfast” says it all with lines like “Won’t let you sleep, I gotta satisfy my needs” — and that’s one of the tamer expressions of carnal desire on the track.

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Photo: Alix Malka

T h e c l a s s y, i n s p i r i n g a n d chillingly beautiful, “Lift Me Up,” is a definite high point on the record. A magical swirl of organic techno supports Aguilera’s unparalleled vocals. “I was able to explore and create a fresh, sexy feel using both electronic and organic elements with subject matter ranging from playful to introspective,” Christina noted. There is a superhuman confidence in tracks like “Prima Donna,” “My Girls,” and “Vanity.” H o w e v e r, d e s p i t e t h e overwhelming and, at times, rather graphic sexuality that is the lyrical theme of the album, a careful listener might wonder if there’s a hint of social commentary going on behind the words. Also, the way the album ends hints at the possibility that the album is not entirely what it seems to be on the surface. BIONIC is a bold, sexually explicit record that’s packed with surprises and fresh beats. Christina concluded, “I am so excited for my fans to hear the new sound. It is something I don’t think anyone will expect.” id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0& tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F %252Fbionic%252Fid371784453%253Fuo %253D4%2526partnerId%253D30

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Photo: Tom Beard

Various Artists THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE Atlantic Records
A blockbuster movie needs a blockbuster soundtrack. And who better to call on than Alexandra Patsavas. This latest musical addition to the “saga” is a intriguing spread offering a wide assortment of darker, brittle-edged tunes.

Florence + The Machine

Muse Patsavas has a reputation for not only delivering quality music to projects, but for exposing indie artists to the mainstream. Besides Twilight, Alexandra has worked on Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C., Gossip Girl, Mad Men, and Rescue Me. She is cited as playing an “influential role in the development of” such artists as The Killers, The Fray, Modest Fanfarlo Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Howard Shore Mouse and many others. Her Chop Shop Records is home to The Republic Tigers, The Little Ones, Anya Marina [see Anya’s interview with Cathy Wagner elsewhere in this issue], Marina And The Diamonds, and, of c o u r s e , t h e “ Tw i l i g h t ” soundtracks. Patsavas stated, “This soundtrack is our best example to date of our unique combination of major acts that are world renowned and wonderful new discoveries for many people.” Fo r m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n a n d goodies (such as videos, featured artists, news, tweets, etc.) concerning THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE soundtrack, be sure to visit: id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid= 0&tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F %252Fthe-twilight-saga-eclipse % 2 5 2 F i d 3 7 2 5 4 9 2 8 9 % 2 5 3 F u o %253D4%2526partnerId%253D30

Cee-Lo Green

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Trance Singles
Nadia Ali (Morgan Page Remix) FANTASY Smile In Bed
On its own, Nadia’s “Fantasy” is a heartfelt track that offers a stirring emotional experience, a quietly intoxicating sonic desire. Morgan page’s remix elevates the track to a level that lifts Ali to the summit with a fresh sound that positions her at the top of the genre. The remix introduces an edge that doesn’t alter the artist’s vision, but instead sharpens it with a determined precision. Nadia’s sultry voice hits with a refocused and refined sensuality that invigorates and enthralls. Powerful, precise and achingly passionate. id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=18 26& %252Fus%252Falbum%252Ffound-roger-shah-mix %252Fid373569110%253Fi%253D373569122%2526uo %253D6%2526partnerId%253D30

Sunlounger/Zara Taylor FOUND Magic Island Records
Roger Shah has teamed up with Zara Taylor once again to offer a exciting, hypnotic whisper that serves as a fiercely satisfying follow-up to “Lost.” Shah’s gently throbbing music pulsates with a quiet intensity that allows Zara to drape her silken vocals atop with a captivating tenderness. The track gradually swells adding delicate textures and wispy layers of techno wizardry until the chorus unfolds into a lush, swirling vortex of Taylor’s blazingly sweet and passionate voice intertwined with Shah’s everwhirling synths. id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid= 1 8 2 6 & R D _ P A R M 1 = h t t p % 2 5 3 A % 2 5 2 F %253D30

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Straight No Chaser

A Cappella Summer
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Back in April of 2010, Songwriter’s Monthly was invited to a rather spectacular press conference/private concert at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event featured the ten-man a cappella band known as Straight No Chaser. Following are e xc e r p t s a n d a c c o u n t s t h a t w i l l hopefully not only offer you a look into the a cappella phenomenon known as Straight No Chaser, but will also give you an idea of what the actual event was like. Enjoy! The afternoon began with David Spatz, host of the Emmy Award-winning series Curtain Call, taking the stage at Harrah’s lavish concert venue. David informed the attendees that 2010 i s H a r ra h ’s 3 0 t h anniversary and to help celebrate they would be featuring a very special production show. “A show like this has never been done before on a long term basis in Atlantic City,” David explained, “It’s very unique.” Spatz introduced Jay Snowden, senior vice president and general manager for Harrah's Resort and Showboat CasinoHotel. “When the concept first crossed my desk as a ten-person a cappella show, I had to be sold, right?” Jay admitted. “So I jumped online and I did the youtube, I did a little research on these guys and found out not only do they have great voices, but these guys have a great story!” Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

After a brief anecdote of literally making Straight No Chaser sing for their supper, Jay handed the mic back to David. “A little bit of background before we bring these guys out. As Jay mentioned, they came together in 1996 at Indiana University. They formed an a cappella group, ten guys. In 1999, faced with the prospect of graduation, they put in place a system to choose their successors. They graduated and went on their way. In 2006 they were invited to return to Indiana University for a reunion of the original ensemble and they did. Well right around that same time, somebody found a clip of theirs from a 1998 concert and put it up on youtube . . . You know the expression going viral? That’s just what that video did! They were offered a recording contract. They are just waiting for their third album called WITH A TWIST to drop on April 13th. Then they are going out on a 54 city, 60 day tour in April and May before they come here and open an 8 week run, on July 2nd. Ladies and gentlemen for their preview of their debut in Atlantic City, would you please welcome, Atco/Atlantic recording artists Straight No Chaser!” Straight No Chaser took the stage and performed a series of astounding covers that included “Signed, Sealed,

“I put the file online and I let the guys see it and the next thing you know we have eleven million views on it.”

Delivered I’m Yours,” ”I’m Yours/ Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “ U n d e r T h e B r i d g e .” A f t e r t h e thunderous applause died down, the band introduced themselves and the press conference portion of the program began. *** David Spatz, Host: Here’s how the press conference portion is going to work: I’ll start off by asking a question, we’ll open it up to the media here, we’ve also got Miranda Harper of Dan Klores Communications over there on the laptop — she’ll be taking the questions from the internet. You guys ready to rock and roll, here? Straight No Chaser: Absolutely! Host: Let me ask you this question, you got back together in 2006 for a reunion of the original Straight No Chaser, someone put that video up on youtube . . . how much would you say that your success since 2006 has been a product of the internet? SNC: How about 100%! It was Randy [Stine] who really put the video online, so we’re going to let him answer the question . . . Randy from SNC: Yeah, originally I just put that up. I mean, we had these old betamax video tapes of our concert we’d done, none of us had ever seen it, none of us had a betamax player, so I had it transfered and I put the file online and I let the guys see it and the next thing you know we have eleven million views on it. Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Host: I’m sure you didn’t expect it to go viral, how did people find out about it? Was it your core fans, from ’96?

“The name No Chaser originally came from a Thelonious Monk jazz song . . .”
SNC: I got phone calls from Crain’s Chicago Business, Wall Street Journal, all wanting to interview me and ask me, how did you do it? I said I didn’t do anything, there was no story . . . of course none of them wanted to have the interview. Host: Questions from our friends in the media here in the concert venue? Do we have any questions? Media: Where did the name come from and does it have an affirmation of your sexual preference? SNC: Way to come right out of the gate with that one! SNC: Welcome To Atlantic City, we’ll be working here all summer! SNC: Wow, uhm . . SNC: The name Straight No Chaser originally came from a Thelonious Monk jazz song . . . I don’t know where your head was at, but we’re all musicians up here . . . it just happened to work in college and it kind of went with our

philosophy. We all kind of got into a cappella because Dan [Ponce] promised we’d meet girls . . . so we’re still waiting for that. Host: Miranda, question from the internet? I n t e r n e t : Ye a h , I h a v e s e v e ra l questions here. The first one actually comes from Jenny in New Orleans and she wanted to know, you guys have all been together as a group for how long now and how did you find each other? SNC: The group started back in 1996. Dan Ponce, the guy in the middle there, he had heard about different a cappella groups all over the country at other schools and at some schools it was even up to a couple dozen groups, but at IU there was only one or two, so we got together, the ten of us in ’96. We were together in college for about three years until most of us graduated and went on our ways. We kept the group there, we auditioned new guys so if you go back to Indiana now, there’s still ten

guys hanging out there, doing what we did. They are all 18 and 19 years old, we went our separate ways, put this to bed for the most part. In 2007, we got a call from the CEO from Atlantic Records and here we are today singing at Atlantic City. Host: I have a follow up question. You say, 2007 you got a call from Atlantic Records, they wanted to sign you to a recording contract, was there a point, was there a defining moment when you ten decided alright, we’re going to quit our day jobs and do this full time? SNC: There was actually. When we first signed with Atlantic, we all had full time jobs, we were living across the country, obviously we’d been apart since graduating in 1999 and we weren’t really sure we wanted to leave our full time jobs to do this professionally. A cappella is a very niche genre of music, we weren’t really sure if the public would embrace it. But after our album, our debut album, actually it was a Christmas album called H OLIDAY

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SPIRITS, that went to number one on iTunes and on Amazon, we all kind of looked at each other and said, “You know this is something that has serious p o t e n t i a l .” I t w a s a f t e r t h a t moment . . . this wasn’t a number one on holiday chart, this was number one over Britney Spears a n d K a n y e We s t , Coldplay . . . Media: I know you guys do a lot of philanthropic work, with music education, can you talk about some of the projects you’re working on or some things that you plan to work on locally in the community?

reconstructing it with your own Straight No Chaser twist like adding “Over the Rainbow” in the middle of a song? SNC: That’s something that we’re trying to get people to understand about our music. WITH A TWIST, that’s the album, we’re basically taking a song that you know from radio and giving it the old Straight No Chaser spin on it. What we do is we all just come together . . . that “Under The Bridge” song is a song that I heard in the barber shop and everyone was bobbing their head so I said, “Guys this would be kind of a cool song for us to do as a group.” That ’s how w e get our musi c, everybody brings music that they listen to on the radio, “Let’s try and do this a cappella.” So we’re already twisting it up by singing it a cappella, but we like to give it a little extra something that you’ve never heard before. Media: Did anything change or tweak when you went into a studio with a producer as opposed to live? SNC: Sure. Atlantic Records is our record label and we’ve worked with several people there. You know, most

“A cappella is a very niche genre of music, we weren’t really sure if the public would embrace it . . .”

SNC: Absolutely! You know, all ten of us grew up singing, playing in a band and everything, elementary through high school. Something that’s really bothering us now is, now that we’re in a tougher economy a lot of programs in schools are getting cut and usually the first thing to go is music. That doesn’t sit very well with any of us, so what we’re doing is, the front row ticket sale proceeds for Atlantic City are going to be donated to local music programs to help keep them afloat. Host: How do you go about d ec o ns t r u c t i n g a s o n g a n d t hen Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

people who are producers in the music industry haven’t really worked with a cappella groups before, so actually we’ve worked with a gentleman named Deke Sharon [Ed. Note: Deke and his ground-breaking a cappella band, The House Jacks, were featured in Songwriter’s Monthly way back in the mid ’90’s]. Deke is a member of a professional a cappella group and was also responsible for the production of The Sing-Off show that was on NBC this past holiday season. There’s a couple of us who generally do the arrangements and all of us have input into how the song comes out, but its always nice to have a fres h s e t o f e a r s outside, especially someone as experience as the people from Atlantic Records and as Deke Sharon to sort of bring it to the next level. We’d like to think we could do it ourselves — I think most bands would — but it’s always fantastic to work with professionals in the music industry. Media: Among the ten of you is there anybody who takes the lead or is it all indians and no chiefs? SNC: Why didn’t she say all chiefs?

Internet: This is from Jill in Philadelphia and she wants to know what you’re doing special for the performance this summer in Atlantic City. Is it all new material? What can she expect to see when she comes down to the performance? SNC: I believe the show is going to be called Songs Of The Decades, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to give a little slice of a cappella music from the 50s and the 60s and 70s so when people come here, they can kind of take a trip down memory lane, hear some Doo Wop stuff, hear some Motown, hear some 80s hits. Some of the songs we’ve already prepared and some of the songs we’re going to be working on the next couple of months. Host: This is just fascinating, the dynamic here, do you split up into little cliques? Are some guys friendlier with others . . . SNC: We call them alliances [laughing]. SNC: if something goes wrong in the group, we have a general rule to blame Randy. Internet: David, I have another great question here and this is from Ryan and he said, “You guys are really funny, would you ever consider doing a television series? Something like Glee? SNC: Hey ABC, CBS, NBC . . . hi!!!

“We’re going to bring something that people have never seen before . . .”

SNC: We have a couple main directors in the group, Dan’s our music director as well as Walter Chase as well as Ryan [Ahlwardt] . . . whosever arrangement it is takes the helm, takes the lead. We all consider ourselves chiefs, but we should be more indians. Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

SNC: We all started in a choir called The Singing Hoosiers at Indianan University and we happen to know, actually, that Glee was created by an alumni . . . if you’re out there. Media: So, when a contract was put in front of you to be in residency here at t he ama z i n g H a r ra h ’s Re s o r t al l summer . . . with everything that they have to offer, was this an exciting moment for you guys?! I know that signing with Atlantic was a very exciting moment also, but how does this categorize? SNC: It was an easy decision. Atlantic City: we got the beach, a little bit of gambling, a great theater and we get to do whatever songs we want? That’s a no-brainer.

SNC: We’re so excited to be here and we want to take the opportunity to thank Jay and his staff for treating us like kings. You’re gonna get a great show. You know, when you hear “a cappella,” a lot of people might think Barbershop Quartet, maybe some people think Boyz II Men, some Doo Wo p , b u t w e ’ r e g o i n g t o b r i n g something that people have never seen before to this show, this summer it’s going to be great! SNC: We’re working on our Jersey Shore nicknames as we speak. Host: We’ll take one last question. Internet: I have a question from Megan in Rhode Island and she wanted to know if you guys had any advice for people who wanted to start their own a cappella group or for singing in general. SNC: Just put a clip up on youtube . . . and then wait ten years . . . and it will happen! *** Straight No Chaser wrapped up the event with a rousing rendition of “HiDe-Ho.” For more information on Straight No Chaser, including a look at their brand new video for SNC’s version of “Tainted Love” visit:

h t t p : / / c l i c k . l i n k s y n e r g y. c o m / f s - b i n / s t a t ? id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0& tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F %252Fwith-a-twist%252Fid363655053%253Fuo %253D4%2526partnerId%253D30

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“Like We Used To”

Songwriter’s Monthly cover story, May 2010, A Rocket To The Moon recently released the official video for “Like We Used To.” The video is as smartly executed as the lyrics, definitely worth clicking the still above to watch. A Rocket To The Moon is currently opening a few shows for this month’s cover story [Hanson]. For more information on the band or their upcoming shows, visit:

Demented News
Despite the fact that he’s leaving radio, the demented Doctor recently sent an uplifting message to Songwriter’s Monthly: “The radio show is winding down, but we continue on the internet, as we have for several years. A new show is posted every Saturday at: Stay deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemented! -Dr Demento” Photo:Mark Takeuchi, Courtesy Rhino Records, Inc. http://

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If you’re a fan, you don’t just like Hanson’s music, you admire and respect the individuals. There’s always been something that has set these guys apart: a depth, a unity, a focus, an understanding, and a purpose. The latest album is no exception. SHOUT IT O UT is an upbeat, soul-inspired masterpiece that some critics have already called the band’s best offering yet. The promotional video depicts this album as “the soundtrack for living in the moment” and you’d have a hard time coming up with a better, more Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

In The Moment
this celebratory record.

a c c u r a t e description of

“It’s a really upbeat record, it’s a very fast-paced album,” Isaac stated. “A song like [the opening] ‘Waiting For This’ is just about getting out there and doing something that you’ve been holding back from doing all this time. In some form or another, it’s saying to people, ‘Stop waiting around . . . it’s time to do it! Now is the time, don’t wait for a better day, make today the better day.’”

“Albums are an interesting thing because they can take on a life of their own and they’re meant to capture, I think, a p e r i o d ,” Ta y l o r theorized. “As a band, for the last couple albums, we’ve consciously asked ourselves, ‘What do we sound like? What do we sound like as players? Not as songwriters, not as singers, not how tricky can we get with cool layered parts, but what do we sound like as a band?’” Taylor continued, “The last two albums have been a little more rock/ pop, a little straighter, so we really kind of had a hankering for more pocket, more R&B.” “I think that 50’s and 60’s soul music has always been a huge part of our influence and part of our musical tapestry from the beginning,” Isaac pointed out.

“Albums are an interesting thing because they can take on a life of their own . . .”

together . . . and then the layers of the horns and that kind of stuff, but it’s all built on this bedrock of an old school band playing together.” One element that sets SHOUT IT OUT apart from other Hanson albums is the emphasis on piano.

Taylor agreed, “Yeah, I’d say that. This record probably has more keyboard than any other record. Whenever you add keyboard to

“I think it was also just coming from a point of view of reaching a bit of a new plateau as a band,” Taylor elaborated. “This record just needed to just be a little more celebratory. It’s not trying to be what it’s not, it is about songs and it’s also very, very live. The core of the record is really us in a room playing Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

something it immediately makes it less rock and more R&B. The latest quick quick synopsis of our sound — which still doesn’t actually capture it completely — is we’re a ‘soul-inspired pop/rock band.’ I think we’re more similar to a 70’s rock band than any other particular category. 70’s rock bands have harmonies and they have some groove. Take The Doobie Brothers and Three Dog Night, these are

The Story Behind: “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’”
“It’s such a period type of pocket. There’s no snare on the whole song, it’s like this old R&B type of a thing where the rhythm is percussion and bass, it’s not a rock arrangement. The story of that song is we were at a point where we were singing songs in between soundchecks while on tour for T HE WALK. ‘Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’’ came into being because we just needed to sing a little bit more bluesy, a little bit more soul-inspired because thats the kind of stuff that really just clicked with us first, it’s really where our heartbeat is. So when we were finishing writing Thinking ‘Bout Somethin,’’ we thought it would be nice to have the deep-cut listeners be able to catch a dedication to what we were feeling and singing about . . When all of a sudden you catch lines like, “If you’re not to proud to beg, I can give you some respect,” and then you hear a reference to ‘I Thank You’ by Sam and Dave, and then when it says ‘Listen up to what I say’ you know it’s o b v i o u s l y ‘ Te l l M e What I Say.’ There are things that you do partly for yourself and partly for the music geeks out there. You have those layers so it doesn’t all happen on a first listen, hopefully you go deeper and then you go ‘Oh, I get it!’” — Taylor

probably the closest thing to what we sound like. I think this record brings it back to the essence a little more.”

“I think this record brings it back to the essence a little more.”
Another, much more obvious aspect of SHOUT IT OUT that provides a significantly different shading to the Hanson sound is the addition of a horn section. It should be noted, however, that the horns don’ t actually change the music, instead they enhance it, help to explain what it is. As Taylor put it: “I really like to draw and paint and with painting, sometimes you could do a whole landscape and literally just one drop

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of red . . . or one key white line across the horizon makes you go, “Oh, yeah, I see what that is.” And that’s what I feel like we did by adding the h o r n s . We h a d l a i d t h e foundation for the record and

The Story Behind: The “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’” Video
“We’ve always been enormous fans of THE BLUES BROTHERS movie . . . not just the movie specifically, but one of the things that makes the movie so great is that the music is so great! Then add on to that being a musician and having this ridiculous kind of slapstick humor . . . it was right up our alley! I think probably the first time I saw that movie was when I was about 12 years old and I’ve watched it consistently ever since. We were talking about music video ideas and we knew if we were going to do a video for this song, it really had to send the same kind of visual message as the song sends musically. It had to give people a context for where we were coming from musically with this record and with this song. Taylor was watching Youtube clips and he came into the office where Zac and I were sitting and he said, “Guys you gotta watch this, check this out!” He was playing ‘Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’” and it worked perfectly with that scene from THE BLUES BROTHERS, it looked like the song was made for that movie, it seemed to sync up perfectly. So we started chasing down people to get involved in helping us make that a reality. We wanted to make this video as close to the original movie as we could. In addition to that, we then decided that we had to build the music store . . . so we built that set inside of our office.” — Isaac Video link: watch?v=TmG0DqhfDbY Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10,

“We’re a ‘soul-inspired pop/rock band.”
when you hear the horns, hopefully you realize, ‘Okay, this is what they meant to do, it’s meant to be a record that emphasizes those grooves.’” Isaac added, “ I can’t imagine the record without [the horns] because we did it without the horn section and then went back in and said, ‘You know w h a t , t h e r e ’s s o m e t h i n g missing.’ Once the horns were

what it was played on. When you’re singing in the shower, you’re not singing the production, you’re singing the song.” Isaac noted, “You’re always trying to do better and always feeling like there are things that you want to say, music that you want to make that you haven’t made before. One of the things that was unique and really exciting for me about the making of this record was something about it felt like some of our earliest records that we’d ever made. I’m talking about our early independent records where we were in a garage with some

arranged and put on the record, it came to life in a whole new way.” “I don’ t think anyone could accuse Hanson of b e i n g t r e n d y,” Ta y l o r joked. “There’s always pressure of ‘Have you heard the latest Lady GaGa song?’ Even the greatest bands of all times did disco songs in the 70s! And we love all kinds of music. We g e n u i n e l y would like to write or produce things that are far different from what we do as a band, but it has to come back to the song because that’s the thing that lasts beyond how it was recorded and

“I don’t think anyone could accuse Hanson of being trendy . . .”

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engineer person making our music. It felt really free and really honest. I think we had gone through a lot as a band with UNDERNEATH and with THE WALK and it had been a very intense process. We felt a lot of personal things that needed to be done like starting a label and doing the one mile barefoot walks and things of that nature, it just felt like we’d done all of those things. We had cut our own path for ourselves and it was time to enjoy and, for lack of a better way to say it, celebrate, rejoice in the f ac t t h a t w e had kind of

“It’s okay to dance in the street . . . because that’s something we need.”

made it through all the chaos. We’d survived leaving a record company and almost 150 — I think it might be over that at this point — one mile barefoot walks to raise money to help build schools and drill wells and things of that nature. It’s a new period for us, a new place for this band, and it feels fresh because it feels like those early records, it feels like it is 100% our vision with no strings attached.” Even the artwork was part of the band’s vision. Isaac continued, “We had a concept of having more of a hand-drawn kind of quality to the record from a very early point in the

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

The Story Behind: “Me, Myself and I”
“That song was almost the very last thing we recorded. There is kind of a tradition that I didn’t realize till we found ourselves at the end of the record without that song. We wanted to make this record shorter and tighter than the last album and when we found ourselves at the end, we realized it just didn’t feel complete. There always seems to be a pensive organic moment, a song that is just really a statement about what we do at our essence: we write songs and we sing together. That is the core of what we do. ‘Me, Myself and I’ is about the kind of bittersweet quest that we go on, it is really just about bringing the whole record back to center because we wanted to have a true sort of core ‘us’ moment. There’s a lot of meaning behind the lyrics, but the song is the capstone of the album. If you don’t like it, then there’s only so many things to point your finger at because it’s just three voices and a piano. Anyway, it was a capstone because we all sort of breathed a sigh that said ‘Okay, we put it all on there, we put the right elements that capture us today, this is a Hanson record.’” — Taylor Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

process. We just felt like we wanted our art to be in every way, shape and form an expression of our band and

our music. One of the best ways to do that was for us to literally make as much of the art and to do as much of the design . . . not just, This is my vision help me execute this designer/ graphic artist person.’ We have always been really hands on, but we

“We had cut our own path for ourselves and it was time to enjoy and, for lack of a better way to say it, celebrate.”

It’s okay to dance in the street . . . because that’s something we need.” For more information on Hanson, visit:

just felt like we just needed to take it a whole other step further and so all those icons and everything else you see on the website, that’s stuff that Taylor, Zac or I actually drew. I think that the art and the music reflect a similar kind of feeling of spontaneity and honesty and also a little bit of playfulness, but in some cases a little bit of edginess.” In conclusion, Taylor expressed, “It’s always hard to hit everything, but I will say that the spirit and the message behind the record is . . . really it’s a call to action, to sort of find your color, so to speak, to not be afraid to pursue what’s going on in the moment. The last album was more about the steady climb, the journey, but this is a record about our experience right now! S HOUT I T O UT is saying, “Look, life is short and you should probably roll the windows down and turn this up. Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

“It’s a call to action, to sort of find your color, so to speak, to not be afraid to pursue what’s going on in the moment.”
Acknowledgement: Songwriter’s Monthly would like to thank Gina Miller for her help in writing this article. id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0 &tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F %252Fshout-it-out%252Fid374390300%253Fuo %253D4%2526partnerId%253D30

Contest Winners!
“On May 23 at Brownie's 23 East in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 13 deserving finalists played before a packed, appreciative and attentive audience, and a celebrity panel of judges. Four Artists and two Alternates (Damon Hamilton, Julie Clark) claimed the top prizes of a summer tour, but all 13 gained new fans, were heard by major music industry people and will undoubtedly get multiple opportunities just by having played this show.” — Dena, The Philadelphia Songwriters Project (For details, visit:
Photo by Austin Art thefleetingends johnnymiles1 Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Camera Can’t Lie
h t t p : / / w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = t 4 V N r 3 k c g P U & f e a t u r e = p l a y e r _ e m b e d d e d #! http:// w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = t 4 V N r 3 k c g P U & f e a t u r e = p l a y e r _ e m b e d d e d #! http:// w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = t 4 V N r 3 k c g P U & f e a t u r e = p l a y e r _ e m b e d d e d #! http:// w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = t 4 V N r 3 k c g P U & f e a t u r e = p l a y e r _ e m b e d d e d #! http:// w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v=t4VNr3kcgPU&feature=player_embedded#!http:// w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = t 4 V N r 3 k c g P U & f e a t u r e = p l a y e r _ e m b e d d e d #! http:// w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = t 4 V N r 3 k c g P U & f e a t u r e = p l a y e r _ e m b e d d e d #! http:// w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v = t 4 V N r 3 k c g P U & f e a t u r e = p l a y e r _ e m b e d d e d #! http:// w w w . y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v=t4VNr3kcgPU&feature=player_embedded#!

Eric Arjes from Camera Can't Lie - Airplanes (B.O.B. Cover)
In a message on Camera Can’t Lie’s website, Eric writes: “Someone asked me to cover something out of the box and this is what I came up with. Its a really great track by a new artist in the Atlantic family (and it features an amazing and seasoned female ALSO in the Atlantic family). Please excuse my freedom with the lyrics as I am not a rapper.” [Note: You can view the video simply by clicking on the picture above.] Camera Can’t Lie formed while its three members — Eric Arjes, Kyle Lindsay and Josh Bendell — were in high school. Hailing from a small Midwestern town, the band navigated towards music, joining the school symphony, jazz ensembles and chorus. Despite their classical training, Camera Can’t Lie’s biggest musical inspiration came from ’90s radio. The band is currently on tour throughout the entire summer. To find out when they will be near you, check out: Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights PARDON ME F-Stop Music
Raucous Southern Gypsy rock that sizzles hotter than the asphalt in Texas during a mid-summer heat wave! Seriously! Imagine The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Kid Rock, JET and Molly Hatchet all playing in the same room and trying furiously to outdo each other. That’s what Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights bring to the table. Take the blazing title track, “Pardon Me.” It scorches a fierce and fiery path from the speakers directly to your eardrums. “Lyrically, it's a song about the power of music,” Tyler noted. “a challenge to the oversaturated, over-stimulated, and dangerously safe condition of music in our present time.” But that’s only part of it. This flexible ensemble can also tone it down to a Brian Wilson-esque moment or kick back with a magnificent power ballad. The aforementioned Wilson moment arrives on a track called “Ladybird” which Tyler stated “is conceptually an invocation to a creative muse. I wanted to include an invocation similar to that of what you see in Shakespeare and many other poets’ works.” Regarding his music, Tyler concluded, “Because my life inspires my work, my songs have been and always will be a direct testament to my life at the point at which I wrote them; almost like a journal.” id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid= 0&tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F %252Fpardon-me%252Fid365246387%253Fuo %253D4%2526partnerId%253D30

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Vegas With Randolph VEGAS WITH RANDOLPH Caged Giant Records
John Ratts and Eric Kern have been friends and songwriting partners since high school. “We wrote and 4-track recorded hundreds of songs together in our earliest years and performed many of them in our short-lived first band “Wayfarer,” informed Eric. The pair eventually separated to pursue separate musical projects . . . only to reunite and refocus s e v e ra l y e a r s l a t e r. With the help of Dan Aylestock, David Purol and Brock Harris, the group focused on melodic rock songs John and Eric had always wanted to record. VEGAS WITH RANDOLPH is a gem of an album featuring a wide variety delightfully crafted tunes that rely on engaging 60’s and 70’s styled melodies, blissful rhythms and cover impressively fresh lyrical territory. One of the standout songs is the s i n g l e -w o r t hy, i n f e c t i o u s a n d

buoyant “Happy.” These guys have a real skill when it comes to delivering an uplifting and truly satisfying chorus. The piano-driven “Arizona Blue” features a much more tender, almost pensive approach. The imagery is sharp and memorable while the hook is brilliantly crafted and placed in the most dynamic location in the song. Nice writing! The most impressive aspect of the album, is the epic “Longplay.” John

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outline the concept: “‘Longplay’ was largely a collection of small pieces or music we called ‘snippets.’ We really liked them, but had not developed them into songs in their own right.” “We identified the ones we liked, but found we had too many for the project unless we decided to put out a double CD. Instead of dropping a few on the floor, we had the novel idea of stringing them together into a single recording.” Eric added: “We were intrigued with the challenge and uniqueness of recording a multi-song Suite – certainly ABBEY ROAD side 2 and other such efforts were probably in the back of our mind somewhere. ‘Longplay’ is one of our favorite parts of the CD, and it was one of the most fun to create (certainly challenging to make some of the tempo transitions).” John agreed: “Knitting the songs together was some of the best fun we’ve ever had – so much so that we intend to copy that idea in a shorter fashion on our next album. Look for the song entitled ‘Shortplay’ on our next release, although we have not spent any time working on it yet.”

The Story Behind: The Band’s Name
Several old buddies from high school (including a couple in the band) were planning a reunion/ get-together/long weekend thing with guys whom we'd seldom get to hang with — such as our colorful friend "Randolph" — in a place like that [Vegas]. It was sure to be a once in a lifetime experience. U n f o r t u n a t e l y, f o r va r i o u s reasons the trip fell apart and has never been rescheduled . . . but the could-have-beens still i n t r i g u e u s ! " Ve g a s W i t h Randolph" is the great misadventure that never was.


id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826 & %252Fartist%252Fvegas-with-randolph %252Fid316438399%253Fuo%253D6%2526partnerId%253D30

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The music industry is constantly changing. Not only is the music evolving into different variations of existing genres, but the method of the consumers purchasing music continues to change. Technology has always made this possible. Record players were able to spin LP’s or 45’s and the automobile, once reserved for the AM and then FM station, started to come equipped with 8-track players, then cassettes and eventually CD players. Some of us have seen all of these creative changes, known as creative destruction. The most popular transformation for music is the iPods. This device has revolutionized the way we purchase and listen to our music. Creative destruction will continue to evolve as companies like Apple and others develop new technologies. I’m not telling you this is good or bad, what I am concerned about is surviving in an environment that changes faster than I would like. My old habits die hard. Where can I buy my physical CD’s? Where is the local retail music store? Sure there are independent stores struggling to survive and they have their Record Store Day once a year, but the brick and mortar retail music stores are closing . . . or have closed. Tower Records, from its opening in 1960, dominated major cities throughout the US until the final store closed in 2006. Tower still has a web presence though. E v e n companies that are full of cash from other business e n t i t i e s David Fiorenza h a v e closed their doors. Virgin Megastores closed their last retail music shop in June 2009. The industry completely destructed when Amazon, with no brick and mortar presence, became the largest retailer of CD and download sales. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Borders and Barnes & Noble all have music sections in their stores, but the shelf space dwindles every year with the continued popularity of downloadable music. Apple iTunes is responsible for 28% of all music purchased in the US and there are at least 70 other similar sites, such as Rhapsody and Napster. This creative destruction and my search for independent retail stores have brought this process full circle. There has been a 100% increase in LP record sales in the last two years. The two million units of LP’s sold are still far less than the 86 million online sales, but this shows some demand shifting. Even hip clothing stores are carrying LP’s and record players once again. Urban Outfitters, a staple

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

among the city universities in Philadelphia, has an entire section of their store dedicated to the LP coming back as a form of listening to music. CD sales have been decreasing the last nine years and LP sales will continue to rise. The group Radiohead’s last release was made available on LP format. It sold an astounding 61,000 copies as an album. These are groundbreaking numbers considering an artist who releases product as an LP prints about 5,000 copies as a collectors item for their fans. There are many factors to consider when releasing your product to your fans as an LP. This format presents c hal l e n g e s f o r t h e a rt i s t , t he i r management and their public relations specialist. There are only a handful of LP pressing plants in the US and usually minimum orders are 1,000. Shipping and handling is more expensive as the product is larger than the CD and obviously larger than downloading an entire CD from a site like Amazon. This will eliminate many artists with small budgets. I do foresee more creative destruction as technology continues in the 21st century. I will be checking back with you in 10 or 15 years and writing to tell you of my quest for the CD as this format could become obsolete. David Fiorenza is part of the duo F i o r e n z a - D o w l i n . is their site. He is also an Economics Professor at Villanova University. Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

The Ninth Annual Mountain Stage NewSong Contest
To enter, click: The winner of this year's NewSong Contest gets the following: • The chance to record a 5-song EP produced and engineered by Grammy-winning producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Norah Jones). • A performance on an internationally broadcast Mountain Stage (NPR) show. • 1,000 copies of the completed disc.

NewSong is an independent music organization with the following twofold mission: • To build a supportive community of performers and songwriters across all genres of music and levels of skill. • To identify the truly exceptional artists within this community and to work closely with them to develop their careers and introduce their music to a broader, international audience.

Photo: Sheri Lowen

Heidi McKee’s album, DIFFERENCE, opens with a tense, staccato strum that echos the stress of typical dayto-day pressures. Her sweet vocals quickly join in, resting lightly atop the guitar like a silk ribbon. By the time the chorus hits, the song has blossomed into a gloriously uplifting proclamation of comfort. And that turns out to be an important theme of the album, taking the things that happen in life — some that don’t seem to make sense or even appear to be cruel — and managing to find comfort. “I am a black belt with United Karate and our instructor Mr. Ben Kiker had lost his daughter Kerri Kiker in a tragic car accident,” Heidi informed when asked about the title track. “We are very close to this family and they are amazing people. During Kerri's funeral Mr. Ben Kiker stood up during this tragic time and used it for God’s glory. He proclaimed how he loved the Lord. He used it to witness God’s kingdom. At that moment I turned to the person sitting next to me and said ‘Thats the Difference when you have the Holy Spirit.’ I wrote the song ‘Difference’ that night.” id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826 & %252Falbum%252Fone-truth%252Fid312447535%253Fi %253D312447585%2526uo%253D6%2526partnerId%253D30

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“ Wr o n g To o L o n g ” i s a n o t h e r inspiring track. In it, Heidi examines the sentiment of “If it feels good, maybe I’ll be free” as it applies to beliefs and religion. One of the most uplifting songs on the album is the reverent, “Stand Amazed.” The gently flowing piano elegantly supports McKee’s sweeping, graceful melody. “I perform at contemporary services, but I also perform in the secular market, as well,” she pointed out. “My music is more spiritual and uplifting so its really being embraced outside of the standard Christian market.” “Church and bands are welcome to perform these songs,” she added. “I’m open to any way of getting the message of hope out there.” “The main mission we support from D IFFERENCE is which was established in honor of Kerri. They build churches and shelters and provide hope. I am trying to get more exposure so we can help build a new church.” The last two tracks on the album feature Heidi’s children: Jacqueline, Robert and Faith. “My kids have performed with me since we began playing,” McKee noted. “People love them. When I play alone, people are like ‘ W h e r e a r e t h e k i d s ? !’ I t m a d e t h e demographic on this CD range from 5 to 70 . . . its awesome!”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Blackhart Strangelove DON’T SET YOURSELF ON FIRE
This 4-song EP is saturated in atmosphere. The lonely, dusty twang of guitars, mournful horns and the delectable flavor of other more exotic instruments combine with inventive arrangements to form a wonderfully shadowed foundation beneath Laura Wendling’s pristine vocals. Imagine entering a long-abandoned southern church alone, only to feel the curious prickling along the back of your neck, warning you that you are not alone. Of the particularly dark opening track, songwriter Mark Dixon notes, “‘Kill Your Love’ is a general commentary on the fickle nature of love and the (usually) disastrous consequences of infidelity.” “She Wasn’t Sorry” jogs along at a tense pace that somehow manages to evoke the feeling of being chased . . . or stalked. Blackhart Strangelove’s music is oddly compelling. The band has the enviable ability to draw you in until you are fully immersed in their vibrant world filled with twilight wonders. Even though you might feel a little unease, you will not want to leave because you’ll want to absorb the entire experience. id=hyTjEIK1pMo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tm pid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F %252Fkill-your-love%252Fid346417989%253Fi %253D346418001%2526uo%253D4%2526partnerId %253D30

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Kimberley Locke STROBELIGHT - THE REMIXES Dream Merchant 21 Entertainment, Inc.
Since American Idol, Kimberley Locke has released a string of successful projects, each showcasing a slightly different aspect of Locke’s remarkable voice. With “Strobelight” Kimberley has hit a new high, executing a flawless vocal precision that combines the best qualities of Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin and Madonna into one high-energy, soul-filled dance track. Instead of immediately focusing on a new album, Kimberley and Randy Jackson plan to take advantage of iTunes’ single-driven market. “We’ll do a new single every six to eight months and maybe do an a l b u m d o w n t h e l i n e ,” Kimberley informed. “Strobelight” exhibits Locke’s impressive ability to flit playfully about an invigorating verse only to pounce into the chorus with the lethal grace of a panther, sending thrill-shivers racing up and down your spine. The track is pure audio elation. Randy and Kimberley really nailed it with this one. Looking forward to whatever this dynamic team comes up with next!

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. . . For those who missed earlier issues of

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