Sunday, February 7, 2016

Vanessa Campagna

Vanessa Campagna’s star is rising fast as she crosses lines from classical to country to pop
(Nashville, TN). Vanessa Campagna has sung with symphonies, she has shared the stage with Reba and Blake Shelton and Loretta Lynn, she can and does belt pop and rock with the best of them, she has been on Star Search, she wrote the music for an Oscar-winning film, and has herself been the subject of a PBS documentary. And that is only the beginning of the career of a 22-year old woman the press has called a “vocal powerhouse”, a “precociously gifted entertainer” and a “singer reminiscent of a  young Celine Dion”.  I can attest to every single one of those adjectives – I saw her recently live at an exclusive WorldArts concert and could feel the electricity flowing from her every note and gesture. Music FridayLive! was able to talk to her the next day after she arrived home in Nashville.
R360. You are  back home now. Are you in the midst of a songwriting project – I understand that songs do get written in Nashville?
VC. Yes.  I am actually from Pittsburg Pennsylvania.  I moved to Nashville a year ago when I got a publishing deal right out of high school.  I was flying back and forth for that whole period to write songs so I decided I need to move here and I did.  I love it here. I am writing and recording songs for myself and for other artists.  That is what I am doing here in Tennessee.
R360. How did WorldArts in LA find you? They only showcase the best talent, so it is an honor. Do they have spies in Nashville?
VC. I started working with Desmond Child, who wrote “Livin on a Prayer” and “Living the Vida Loca” for Ricky Martin, and songs for Katy Perry, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Kiss and others. He lives here in Nashville and we got introduced through a mutual friends and he said he wanted to work with me and he started picking out shows for me to sing at the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards – the  La Musa Awards --  in Miami. World Arts is a sponsor and I became a WorldArts talent through that show. WorldArts is amazing- a free platform for musicians to showcase their talent. I love it.

R360. In the intro, I listed some of your accomplishments – classical singer, country western singer/songwriter, big-stage rock-pop musician.  Was crossing all those lines – except country and rock which are essentially the same thing now – from singing with symphonies to singing music you can dance to; was that  difficult or did it just come naturally to you?
VC. You know, it is not hard for me to cross over.  I have been singing since I was 5 years old and I am 22 now and it is just like singing is my life – my second nature. I started with a country band when I was younger and then I started touring and it was intertwined.  I would sing with a country band on Friday and then on Saturday with the symphony and on Sunday, I was singing oldies like Connie Francis and Doris Day. I love all kinds of music and if I can relate to it, I can put everything I have into it.
R360. You seem to have acquired a bit of a Southern accent when you sing country. Where did that come from?
VC. I have always had a little twang in my voice because my dad played country music and I heard it a lot. But it is has become more prominent since I moved here because everyone around me has a Southern twang.  People hear me and say “oh no, are you are Southern now!”
R360. I can understand them asking that question when I hear you sing country. You were singing classically under the direction of  the late Marvin Hamlisch, a classical composer/conductor/director,  and now you are writing songs in Nashville, so I can understand your friends surprise at your Southern accent. Do you ever take out your classical music and sing it?
VC. I do. I perform a lot with symphonies.  I just did the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Christmas Pops concert, so I went home to Pittsburgh for that.  I performed on that and I also did a tribute to Marvin Hamlisch a couple of years ago. I did a Christmas show too. When I performed at the Latin Music Awards that was with the Miami Orchestra, so I am still very involved in the classical side of things.  Being around that so much growing, up you can really hear it in the music I am making now – big string sections and very cinematic sounds.
R360. It also accounts for the pictures of you in the fabulous gowns in symphony halls.  Now, your song “What’s It Gonna Take?” is great up-to-date modern pop rock, although there is a bit of country if you listen close. did you write it?
VC. I wrote it with two friends of mine, Derek George and Chuck Jones, both big Nashville songwriters. Both of them have written for some of the greats and I was very honored to write with them – that was the first song that I ever wrote with them and now I write with them regularly.

R360. Something that came through dramatically in your live show is your connection to the audience. You talked with them naturally, directly and personally.  Is that just you, or have you studied stage presence over the years and perfected that?
VC. I am very comfortable on stage. If there are only 5 people in the audience I would probably be nervous, but when there are like, 300, I am fine.  I have performed before 20,000 to 30,000 people and it is just natural…I get so excited to be out there that I don’t have any nervousness. It just comes naturally for me.  I have been performing on stage since I was very young and one of the people I worked was Walt Maddox, an original member of the Marcels who recorded many hits like “Blue Moon”.  He always said to me that you can be a great singer, but you need to be an amazing performer. I remember that for every single show that is a huge thing that makes me what I am today as a performer.
R360. Let me ask you about songwriting. Nashville has a reputation as a songwriting factory - another successful singer/songwriter I know spent a couple of years there and said she learned songwriting in Nashville and music in Los Angeles – that there is a format you learn in Nashville that gives you a template for a certain genre, then you come to LA, forget the template and learn to write all kinds of music. What do you say to that?
VC. I think it is different for each artist. I started writing songs when I was 11, but I thought they probably won’t mean anything because being a singer was first for me – and it still is.  But then I had a showcase in Nashville and some people there loved my songwriting and offered me a publishing deal. Through that deal, I met people who were way, way more seasoned than I was. I learned the craft much better and since then every single co-write that I have is a new learning experience. So I have learned a ton about music and also a ton about songwriting. It is different for each artist.
R360. What is the difference between writing songs for yourself and writing for others.
VC. For me, it is what kind of music I am writing. If I am going to write a pop song, lyrics are sometimes more simple, diverse, or extreme. If I am writing for a country artist, I write to fit that genre. I was part of an EDM  songwriting camp and I wrote only a chorus and a pre-chorus and a verse. For country you have to write the whole song and really explain it. For pop, the words don’t always have to make sense – they just have to sound cool.
R360. Do you agree that country and rock have become essentially the same thing?
VC. Yes, and there is even a little hip hop in country now. I didn’t grow up in the classic country era, so I only know what is happening right now, so morphing it together is kind of easy.
R360. Your song, “How Was I To Know?” strikes a deep chord in any listener’s heart. The hook is addictive, the sentiment is familiar yet personal, the delivery is stunning.  How did that come about—and how do you describe it in terms of your own development?
VC. It is funny you ask because that is the only song I did not write, but there is a personal story behind it for me. That song was written by a good friend of mine about his ex-girlfriend, who was my best friend. He was so heartbroken he was totally in this place of “I was planning my life with you and you were planning on walking away”. I remember my best friend saying he played that song for her when they began speaking after the breakup and it was so emotional for her. I told her I wanted to record it on my album and she said she didn’t want anyone to sing it but me.

R360. That is why it is such a great song.
VC. It is a very relatable song – everybody can relate to the heartbreak. Music is therapy.
R360. Was success so early good or bad for you?
VC. That is a very good question. I think in my case was good for me. My parents made sure I had a balanced life.  Early success allowed me to meet many great people and work with them. It was a good thing for me.
R360. Are you bilingual?
VC. I can sing in English and Spanish, but I can’t speak Spanish.
R360. Vanessa, thank you for talking with us.  Will you be back in LA?
VC.  I don’t know yet, but when I have a show, I will post it all over my social media and on the WorldArts website.
Get social with Vanessa Campagna
LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan
@Music FridayLive!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pet Sun

Release: hailing from somewhere between Hamilton and The Gates of Hades, Pet Sun are a band of self-proclaimed Rock N Roll Heathens whose only goal is to unearth your inner demons as they entrance you with their doom-laden garage tracks. 

Over the past year Pet Sun have been mercilessly spreading their ferociously wild stage show town to town playing for all the headbangers throughout the Canadian and American landscapes, sharing stages with bands such as The Black Lips, Together Pangea, King Khan and BBQ Show, and The Wytches.

Musically Pet Sun mix some of the darkest and lightest sounds of the Heavy Rock canon to create gritty grunge and pop infused sound waves, giving birth to their own personal fuzzed out brand of rock n roll. This is evident in their past releases (Serpent Buzz EP, Feel Like I’m Going Away EP) and even more prominent in their most recent work; the melodic ’Never Quit’, a grungy ear-worm of a track with drums massive enough to wake Bonzo up from a deep sleep. Their latest EP,Shade Driver, (released on December 4th 2015), offers a collection of looming stoner garage tracks detailing the band's visceral inner conflicts. The EP will be followed shortly by the band's self-titled debut LP in early 2016.

Pet Sun is Stephane Senecal-Tremblay (vocals, guitar), Sam Rashid (guitar), Nic Arbour (bass), and Parth Jain (drums).

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Maggie Szabo

Release: A soulful Canadian singer who’s won over audiences worldwide, with 13 million views on YouTube, Maggie Szabo comes from small town Ontario and is now an accomplished singer/performer living and working in Los Angeles.

Maggie honed her craft at a young age in her hometown of Dundas. Following her high school graduation, she moved to Nashville to continue the quest to improve her writing and performing. Her original sound, infused with soulful pop melodies, secured Maggie a record deal with Linus Entertainment in Ontario. Her debut pop album Now Hear Me Out was released in November 2012. All songs were co-written by Maggie, with production by Justin Gray (Joss Stone), Gavin Bradley (Nelly Furtado) and Tanya Leah.

The single Lovesick was released to heavy rotation on Canadian airwaves, and Maggie was named Bell Media’s Emerging Artist—personally chosen by famed blogger Perez Hilton as his “Can YOU Sing?” contest winner. He hailed Maggie as a superstar on the rise.

Since living in Los Angeles, Maggie has performed to sold-out shows at the infamous Viper Room, House of Blues, and famed venue the Hotel Café. She also wrote and recorded her song Tidal Waves and Hurricanes. The music video premiered exclusively by Ryan Seacrest and has garnered great reviews from media and fans. Maggie also won the 2014 Toronto Independent Music Award in the category for Best Pop, and most recently was the Pop/Top40 winner for the International Songwriting Competition.

Aside from having her original music placed in many notable film and TV projects, Maggie has recently landed two co-written songs and is the featured vocalist on the upcoming album for German electronic DJ, Schiller, who has so far sold 7 million albums worldwide. The album is scheduled to release in early 2016. Her current single Forgive and Forget is out now.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

NAMM 2016

NAMM 2016 opens: More Creativity, more Technology, more global and a search for new business models.
(Anaheim, CA.) The largest NAMM ever opened today in the Anaheim Convention Center, across the street from Disneyland,  and was as a packed as a Star Wars sneak preview at midnight.  A NAMM staffer told me that he stopped counting the number of attendees at 90,000 – and that didn’t include media, security and many, many chocolate chip cookies. As usual, the convention center and surrounding hotels were awash with artists, producers, technicians and executives  who were ready to play, party and market.
It is no wonder that NAMM 2016 is the largest ever – the music industry is a growing again. Recorded music  sales jumped to $17 billion in 2015, up from $15 billion in 2014.  This is good news for an industry that reached 27.3 billion in 1999. Although most of that increase came from digital sales and streaming, the thousands of companies that provide musicians the tools to write, record, play and sell music competed to be at NAMM, which ran out of floor space for industry booths.  

While the highlight of the day was the Music Life Award given to Graham Nash at the NAMM Breakfast of Champions and his concert in the evening at the Nissan Stage, a walk through the miles of aisles of NAMM 2016 offered a glimpse of where the creative side of music is heading. Technologies abounded, even more than usual. From ever more sophisticated and compact lighting and sound systems, to guitar accessories and larger pedal  boxes to hold them and power supplies to run them and instruments that made sound from touch and movement, the engineering side of live music was definitely cutting edge. But just plain – and many fancy – instruments also held sway. Joining the queens of guitar making – Fender and Gibson, were many fine guitar makers, each with display walls of different models and  expert players to demonstrate them or enjoy the hands-on testing that often became jams.  Same with drums, brass, violins, pianos and keyboards.

Attendees were also able to get their hands on instruments from around the world, as international manufacturers dominated parts of NAMM Show, especially China, Argentina and Germany. A lush room of Latin drums with a wall of cajones throbbed all day as percussion artists sampled the gear. A quiet room with thick carpets, a Champagne bar and white leather couches displayed grand, baby grand and upright pianos as well as keyboards from Japan, China, Europe and the US drew both pop and classical players.
The hundreds of business workshops and presentations on market music touched in one way or another on the shifts taking place in the music industry, primarily from physical and downloads to streaming and the pressure this puts on artists and how that will move up the line to impact instrument makers, and other music product and service companies.  New business models popped up in the discussions- touring, scoring ads and film and TV, YouTube ads next to music videos, online concert fees.  One company,, chose NAMM 2016 to launch a new global music/video business model designed with advice from  a number of advisors, including Waddy Wachtel of Stevie Nicks, Bunny Brunel of Herbie Hancock and rock photographer Rob Shanaham. Wachtel, Brunel and Shanaham were on hand for the launch press conference and reception.
Tomorrow promises to be even more packed  and exciting with a TEC Tracks Session on “Building a Band in the Digital Age: Audio Rhythm Project” featuring Police drummer and founder Stewart Copeland and Public Enemy bassist Brian Hardgroove, the She Rocks Awards, and the 2016 Imagine Party  for the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus Featuring Dr. John & The Nite Trippers.

LA Correspondent
Patrick O'Hefferan
@Music FridayLive!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ian Erix

Release: Ian Erix is a global artist who is making his mark in the music industry. Getting his professional start in New York as a DJ/MC at the extraordinarily young age of 9 and signing his first record deal at  the mere age of 16, Erix' style and meaningful and relatable lyrics have inspired fans around the world.  Your readers will want to know about the wild and provocative  journey that has taken him from his humble home in New York all four corners of the globe. His highly anticipated upcoming album “Misfit Mind” is set to drop early this year and is expected to set his already impressive career trajectory even higher.

With his platform sneakers, multi-colored hair and trademark sunglasses, you won’t confuse him with anybody else on the music scene right now. His eccentric fashion sense parallels his Electro Punk Pop music style. Ian’s music has racked up over 20 million plays online, which has landed him on several Top 10 charts on 3 continents. His single “Shangri-La” has 2 and a half million plays on Vevo and broke into YouTube's Top 40 pop charts in Europe.

Currently in the U.S., he just wrapped up shooting his "Graffiti On My Heart” Quadrilogy which will be one of the highlights from his upcoming album release. This unique promo release consists of a short film broken up into a 4 part music video that will be set to 4 different songs. While each song tells a very different story, ranging from pain and loss and a fractured spirit to rebellion and anti-conformity, this is a venture that Ian holds close to his heart. His new album is loaded with inspirational, heartrending, feel good tunes that people in every stage of life can enjoy.

Additionally, Ian will be portraying an animated character in a new video game created by some of the same developers involved in the famed Guitar Hero franchise. The music based game will feature two new musical tracks from Erix and the game is expected to be released cross-platform for Wii, Xbox and PlayStation gaming systems.
Ian has embarked on several promotional tours throughout his career. This past summer he went on a 22 city European tour where he attended some of the most famous pop culture events and EDM festivals, traveling to cities like Spain, Belgium, Finland, Greece and Israel to name a few. Erix hosted “The Drop”, an exclusive 10 episode series for VEVO TV highlighting the world of music festivals while giving viewers a backstage, private pass into the lives of some of the hottest and well respected A-listers in the EDM, pop music, and pop culture realm.

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Andy Metz

Release: Chicago singer-songwriter Andy Metz has dropped his first full-length album in seven years. Delusions, which features the timely single “Guns” and the standout tracks “Where We Belong,” “Santa Fe” and “Old Man.”

Andy Metz is a Chicago-based, Seattle-raised songwriter who sings tightly constructed folk songs that vary between the earnest and irreverent. Despite his roots, Andy grew up less as a product of grunge and more a product of "Lump," which has informed his songwriting sensibilities as they've swung from hard rock (Hero Monster Zero) to hip hop (8090). In any genre, Andy's songwriting style is chorus-driven and intended to produce songs that take up residence in your brain long after the track ends.

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