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In the mind of Nate

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jack of all trades

If you have read the past few posts I have made you may start to realize that being a musical artist isn't always about writing and performing music. Especially if you are a DIY or an independent artist. You have to be your own booking agent, manager, tour manager, publicist and sometimes even your own record label. These dual roles or "wearing many hats" is not easy and sometimes your performance can suffer as a result of it. Many managers also have law degrees, but do not practice. However their education in law helps them read and write contracts for their clients in order to be more effective as representation to their clients. If you would like more information on this topic, I suggest reading this book on Music Law. Here is a musical fact you may not know: Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis & the News actually managed the band he created.

Dual roles in music are so common that nobody even gives them a second thought. How bands do you know engineer their own albums? or book their own tours? How many musicians do you know that are also Djs? Obviously these dual roles are necessary for success and easier to do on your own then to hire someone else to do the other tasks. In my own experience I ended up booking shows for other bands to keep in the loop before my band was ready to go out and perform. I continued to do so, and it came in handy when we were starting to do shows and tour. In an ideal situation a band can delegate certain responsibilities to each member. For Example, the drummer deals with booking shows and provides the rehearsal space, the bass player designs the flyers and merchandise,the guitar player runs the mailing list and promotes the shows,and the singer has the van that takes everyone to the gigs,etc. This way the band operates like a well oiled machine and everyone is able to pitch in and not have too many irons in the fire that prevent them from performing to the best of their abilities.

All of my experience learning the business side of music which includes booking shows,learning publicity,and design is what made me feel I was ready to form my own label, Forever Autumn Records. I also learned how to do video editing from my partner Charles Cudd. I put all of my hats on at once so to speak and created this video to raise funds for our label. We hope enjoy it and please visit our Indie Gogo campaign

Thanks again for reading please enjoy, Nate :

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Behind the Booth: an indepth look into the world of the DJ Featuring interviews with DJs Ian Fford & Alex Von Nihil

As you probably guessed, this entry is dedicated to the DJ or Disc Jockey. Technically they are not musicians, however they are a big part of the music industry and club circuits. They can also help further a musical artist's career by playing their music on their show or during their club sets. So it's a good a idea for bands to work along side of and cross promote Djs (as I stated in the past the business is give and take, you should help those when you can). I mentioned in previous entries most radio play is handle through a radio promoter, however it is in most cases ultimately the Dj that decides what songs get airplay. Like musicians, these Guys and Ladies usually focus on a specific genre of music and in many cases develop a style and personality to add flair to their overall appeal. In some cases have even established a certain "rockstar" status by making a name for themselves after years of spinning at events geared towards the genre they chose to spin. For those who may think that they are simply pressing some buttons and playing other people's music, this is certainly not the case. A Dj can make or break an event by having a sense of what the crowd wants to hear (which goes beyond simply taking some requests) in order to keep the crowd dancing. Djs also need to develop skills such as Beat Matching creating a well rehearsed set list of songs that are appropriate and the same or relatively close in sound and BPM (Beats Per Minute), and most certainly have to keep abreast of new music that is becoming popular.

I for one have not Djed before, however I have been researching the skills necessary to become a DJ and maybe one day you may end up seeing me a take the leap from the stage to the DJ booth. I have also been taking note of specific traits of certain Djs. For example, years ago I noticed that one DJ that was a Resident (meaning the permanent Dj for a particular weekly or monthly event) would always end his set with the song "Once in a lifetime" by Wolfsheim so often in those days that My friends & I knew that it was time to get ready to leave when we heard it. I even coined a new take on an old phrase by saying "It ain't over til Ian plays Once in a lifetime".

The Ian that I am referring to is none other than the legendary Ian Fford himself. Ian was kind enough to add his expertise in Djing to this entry (in order to prevent all of you from reading my blabbering on & on about a topic I am just learning about myself). I decided to ask Ian some questions about Djing, that may take the mystery out the magic of Djing. Here is what he had to say:

Nate: What made you decide to start djing?

Ian: "I started as a hobby, making mixed tapes for practically everyone. I was asked to do a "live mix tape" at a party, and it went from there. When I moved home from college, I ended up with a gig and have pretty much been spinning ever since.

Nate: Types of music do you spin?

Ian: "These days I play Techno, Club House, Trance and still play at alternative parties playing EBM, Synthpop, and 80's."

Nate: What do you listen to?

Ian: "Almost everything. Depends on the mood. Anything from Bach to The Cure, Dance Music to Ambient. Oldies, new stuff, reggae… you name it, I give it a try. I'm not too fond of most current pop music as the formulas have become even more predictable than ever, but some of it lends itself to good remixing."

Nate: What are your methods of working a floor to get people dancing?

Ian: "Tough question since its mostly by feel. I have to sense where the energy is at the time I start. If its early and quiet, then I play either something laid back so people can drink some, or requests. If its already busy, I start where the party is and move it in my direction."

Nate: How have changes in technology effected how you dj?

Ian: "I've always been the first kid on the block with new DJ technology. I had the first dual CD player in my area, and started early in the laptop DJ game. I find that these have expanded my ability to deliver a good performance. Its important to me, though, that I started with vinyl and CD mixing because there's a certain 'human' feel to beat matchin that straight-up computer mixing lacks. I like to keep the energy feeling organic. Digital music delivers unprecedented access to new music, its both overwhelming and indispensable. Instead of 4 crates of records, I can now bring a hundred thousand tracks to a club and find what I want instantly. Strangely, even with that much music, I very often get requests that I don't have. so internet access allows me to buy tracks while I'm live, and that's pretty cool."

Nate: What equipment do you use currently?

Ian: "I'm spinning with Traktor 2.6, a Hercules RMX that I've tweaked to run 4 decks and all effects. Sometimes I use a Novation Launchpad and slave Ableton to Traktor, but that's tricky so I don't do it often.

Nate: How do you discover new music & how do you decide what new music to include in your sets?

Ian: "The usual - YouTube, promos, blogs. radio, internet radio, live shows, word-of-mouth, random searches. These days its like going to a candy store - you can't eat all the candy, you can't even taste all the candy, so you just try what you can and see what you like… and listen to others tell you what they like.

Nate:What are some of your favorite events & places you have spun in the past?

Ian:The Bank, Mother, Webster Hall, Downtime, Splash, The Pyramid, Club Hell(Providence), Club 2686 (Levittown) and all top the list of favorite venues. The last night of The Bank was the best party ever! Brazil and London are fun because I'm not from there so I can do what I want"

Nate: Cant't argue with that,I was at the last night of the Bank too. Most Djs do not focus on stage presence, but I've noticed you have an interesting look, how did you create it?

Ian: "Once I realized I look best in white, it was easy."

Nate: What advice can you give anyone interested in or just starting to spin?

Ian: "Learn to mix without the computer doing it for you. If you're serious about it, keep at it because your opportunity will come. Don't be discouraged when you have a bad night, just take the bad with the good. Love what you're doing and people will sense that."

Well, there you have it from a veteran Dj, Thanks for your time Ian. I hope this next Dj read what Ian said and took some notes. He is a newer Dj on the scene and I felt it was a good idea to get his perspective for those of you just starting out or thinking of beginning to Dj. His Name is Alex Von Nihil, who you may know from DeadAudio.com and their NYC events.

Nate: What made you decide to start djing?

Alex: Kind of a difficult question. I think ever since I started attending the goth events and realizing that there are actually people who listen to the same music I do and organize parties for it, (in turn introducing me to new bands) I really felt like I could bring something to the table. And while you're behind those decks, you kind of have the crowd under your spell, so to speak and you, in a way control the room.

Nate: When did you start Djing, and who taught you to spin?

Alex: My first actual gig was a DeadAudio.com live broadcast on Superbowl Sunday in 2013 that Emily Anne Smykal aka Dj Decapatatrix invited me to, which answers your next question, Emily was the one that taught me. My first actual live gig in front of a crowd was May 9th Velocity at Gussy's bar (The 2nd to last one we had there before we moved to Delancey)

Nate: What type(s) of music do you spin and at what events have you spun?

Alex: At Velocity I usually open with goth, deathrock, and darkwave, sometimes throwing in some indie so I tend to get a bit experimental. When I do prime time or post-prime time I usually play a lot of old and new industrial, ebm, and anything on a fast and heavy side. at Fiend and Waveform I played a lot of punk and new wave with and old school goth. But I've been venturing outside the scene lately spinning between bands at Lacey Allure's Shake rattle rock & Roll where I spin mostly rockabilly, punk and some oldies.

Nate: What are some of the hardest things about being a new dj have you encountered?

Alex: "The hardest thing about being a new DJ I'd say is probably knowing exactly what to spin and when to keep the crowd moving. As I've mentioned before, you're the one keeping the floor alive and moving but you have to balance between keeping it fresh and yet at the same time not too surprising. At times your next song can clear the entire floor, and at times, it can get more people up on their feet. It's always an experience"

Nate: What events and cities do you hope to spin at in the future?

Alex: "Hmm the events I'd want to do one day? I've just done Arkham which is one of my favorite parties in New York and the first one where I began to make friends, which was great and very successful. In the future I'd maybe like to do Defcon and Necropolis. Also I love the idea of spinning between bands which is what I do at some of the events. Not sure which cities since I have not yet ventured outside of NYC but I get invites from folks in California which look quite enticing.

Well there you have it, I hope this gave you a more in depth look into Djing and maybe inspires you to give this art a spin (no pun intended). For the music video this week, I chose a song that was selected by request earlier in the week. Special thanks to Dj Ian Fford, Alex Von Nihil, Dj Decapatatrix, Dead Audio,Dj Dahlia, & Flashbang. Maybe i'll see you at the club tonight. Wherever you end up, have fun & be safe and look out next week for a very special entry. . Enjoy the rest of the weekend,Nate

And of course the track I will always associate with my days of dancing at Albion to Ian Fford's set.

And another request for the Metal crowd:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cool your engines

Hello again everybody, this entry I will be focusing on running a smarter campaign to avoid the backlash overdoing your promotions or (worse case scenario) being labeled a "Spammer". Yes, people do throw that and many other terms around too loosely, we all do. And I admit I have been guilty of overdoing posts in the past. But instead of defending myself and starting arguments I decided to evaluate how I was going about spreading the word about my music and this blog while sharing what I learned with you. Your goal when being on social media is not just to get people into your music music but also, entertaining them or engaging them with an interesting post, like a picture you took or asking them a question about a music related topic. Make it interactive and not just about you, people will respond more and, to quote Bill Cosby but you may even learn thing or two (Hey Hey Hey).

Yes it can be nerve racking to think that so many bands are out their posting their music and your album may get buried. So you may feel that tweeting every 30 seconds and or posting to facebook every hour on the hour will increase the amount of people that know about your band. That may work however, your goal is to get people to listen to your music, not to annoy them by posting everywhere constantly and making it so their feeds or timelines are littered with your updates. It will do more harm than good and essentially be a waste of YOURtime, which could be spent practicing or writing music. This goes along the lines of common courtesy and being excepting of other people's views. Not to mention that when you do this, it appears that you are just all about yourself or your own music and nobody wants to be involved with an artist that is self absorbed. This is especially important when dealing with social media, you need to know if your Facebook post is appropriate for the group you are posting in. Why post in a group that focuses on local events in an area, when you don't even live there? or a different style of music than what you play? It's ok to be in that group and comment (NOT argue) on the posts that others submit because that in the long run will do you more good than posting an unwanted post that most likely will annoy people. REMEMBER: Go where you are celebrated, take note of what people and groups are most receptive to you and focus on them. You are not on social media to pick fights or get involved in drama of any kind, You are there to make friends and spread the word about your music. Also try and avoid posting about anything that could cause an argument such as: religion,politics,race, or any other sensitive topic. It may cause you to lose support and not everyone who likes your music will agree with your views on the world, and it is their right to feel how ever they want. It is not your place to have an opinion on it either and why should you? (are you a musician or a Psychologist?). I'd rather have someone who disagrees with me 100% on the state of the world as a fan, than make an enemy because I had to get my two cents in, bit your tongue and go write a song.

If you have your sights set on keeping a band going for years to come, you should always be looking ahead and thinking of how you will be able to branch out. For me, I see social media as an icebreaker, just way to get people to be aware of my music. And I know, some people will really like and some will really hate and every other opinion in between. But either way I just keep creating music and if I do get a compliment or a message from a new fan, I thank that person in kind and talk to them briefly about things such as their favorite bands or where they goto see shows. That will go further than posting 50 times a day to the same group. You are selling yourself and your music, and most will remember a polite and friendly encounter and will be more likely to support you. Just like in real life situations, if you are pushy, or self centered you will turn people off. Especially if it is your first encounter with this person. Kinda of like the guy that goes to parties and introduces himself like this: " Hi, I'm John, I'm in a band". Let people get to know you and discover for themselves that you are in a band. The way I see it is eventually you will be able to do professional promotions, such as reviews of your album or ads, and after "priming" the public with your shows, and social media posts. You want people be able to open a magazine and say: "oh, yeah I know these guys, I'm friends with them on facebook". This way your hard earned money that went into buying that ad paid off because you already promoted smartly when you had no budget to do so. People will always buy something they are familiar with, over something they are have never heard of before. Think about, you buy a soda and I'm sure just the word soda made you think of Cocoa-Cola or Coke. A long lasting name that has been around forever. That's why "knock offs" are so much less expensive and sell less.

There are still several free ways to get people interested in you and your band without the risk of being labeled a nuisance. Like I stated in my last post, it is good to see and hear other bands, we are all in this together and people who play music understand the work you put into your music, so it is easier to be friends other musicians in most case(I'm sure you are aware that plenty of bands get a "God complex" over just a few great shows, let them think that, just don't get in their way when they are in front of mirror,lol) Being organized will also help with this as well, for example when I get a new follower on Twitter I like to send them a "welcome tweet", and actually hashtagging the word welcome along with #music ,#nyc,etc and adding some links to where they can hear our music and so forth. That way they see that we are aware that they follwed us and so they can download our music, see our You Tube videos, and like us on Facebook. I saved that preset tweet in my email drafts, becasue I know it will be used again and again. However, If I got 10 new followers I send one or two the welcome tweet (usually the one with the most followers, yes it is being and opportunist, but no one is perfect) and send the rest I sent them a direct message. Also, I retweet for other bands and followers too. It's a big world out there and there are many bands that share your goals that you could learn from and vice versa if you take the blinders off and take a listen, and share with those who are receptive to you. It is great to be driven and enthusiastic about you are doing, but the music business is very give and take and those who take with out giving back eventually end up being marked lose friends and contacts, Don't be that Guy or Girl. Many bigger names have played in other bands, fronted by other people and so and so forth (Robert Smith of the Cure for example played guitar for Siouxsie and the banshees). There are so many people that have come in and out of my projects that played with other people, and if you sit and think about that's how most bands are.

Thanks again for reading, I hope all of you saw where I was going with this one and will promote more effectively. Please enjoy the song that inspired the name of this post and in the next post, the video will be chosen from a reader, by request. You'll see why. Best always, Nate