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

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

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

photo by Melodie McDaniel

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 Birch is a lean, almost lanky, young
asked how it felt to be headlining a woman who carries herself with a
tour. “I mean, the main thing is it’s a curious grace. She is elegant and
lot more fun seeing people actually presents herself with the poise of a
responding to my music as opposed to bygone era, but when she moves, she
trying to convince people who don’t exhibits the cool and rhythmic swagger
know your music at all. It’s a lot of fun, of a seasoned jazz player. She is not
it’s a lot more freeing and I can do my adverse to thinking of herself as an “old
own thing.” soul.” In fact, Diane eagerly shares the
fact that she used
to believe she was
“I was into actually from a
vampires and so I different century.
used to go out at
“I was a Goth and
night 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
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
“Yeah, a little bit,” she smiled devilishly the one who inspired that song because
before continuing. of a series of emails she’d sent to me
about the way I was living my life, she
“I used to go out and tell my parents I didn’t agree . . .”
was going out with friends. Sometimes
when I’d come home, they’d be waiting Yet on another level Birch admitted,
up for me and they’d get freaked out “The song was also me talking to me. I
realized that even if you’re completely
“Sometimes you different and you are the black sheep,
really need to say it what your parents kind of subscribe to,
that rubs off a little bit on you, too. My
how it is and maybe parents whole thing in life is they don’t
ruffle a few want to offend, they just always want
feathers.” to keep the peace and I tend to want to
be that way, too . . . but sometimes
because I will have changed my outfit you really need to say it how it is and
into some kind of really crazy vampire maybe ruffle a few feathers.”
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 On the set of “Valentino.”
inspired by Valentino, but it’s really
about the transition between childhood “I don’t write on command,” Diane
and adulthood. When you’re a child, noted. “It has to be an inspirational
you’re just kind of free to flow thing or I just don’t feel that it’s
anywhere, your brain goes anywhere, really . . . authentic. And I write
and you start imagining all kinds of everything together, I write music,
melody and lyrics pretty much
“Valentino was my simultaneously, everything kind of
feeds off the other parts, when I’m
imaginary friend as a
teenager. He was
also my muse.” Birch tries not to spend too much time
on lyrics. She’s not a big fan of
crazy stuff. Then you start growing up rewriting. “Sometimes when I go back
and you start censoring your thoughts, and I try to write lyrics it ends up being
you become a lot more logical, a lot too wordy. Once I start thinking too
more rational and realistic. ‘Valentino’ much, it always turns sour, so I try to
is really about that transitional phase of keep a childlike perspective when
life.” writing, you know? It’s all about gut.”
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
The Story Behind:
“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.
She continued, “Also, I think there’s a Everybody loved the song, but we
way that a word sounds, a tonal flow, didn’t really think it matched the
the overall vibe that it creates from the rest of the record. I thought to
sound of it. Sometimes that’s just as myself what if I changed it, what if
important as the meaning of the word, I came up with a different piano
itself. I don’t spend a lot of time riff? We were at the recording
thinking, ‘Oh does that make sense?’ I studio and I ran over to the piano
just sort of say it and let it come out and I was like, “Give me a second,
very organically, I don’t do a lot of give me a second!” I went to the
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 piano and I started playing that riff.
straightforward and they are all really The piano was recorded a few
autobiographical, but hopefully they takes after that, so when I’m
also have depth. I don’t think playing the piano on the recording
something has to be complicated in it’s pretty much what I came up
order for it to be meaningful or have with on the spot.
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
“I don’t actually know why I play
the way I do, it’s always a mystery
This album
to me,” she responded when asked
is very about her style and influences. “I
straightforward guess I just sort of evolved my
and very style over time and I sort of play
what comes naturally. I spent a lot
honest.” 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.

“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
As far as her piano playing, Diane didn’t want me to make an album filled
revealed, “I’m the worst reader ever! I with sad, mopey songs. But that’s
don’t really regret it because for what I really where my head was at at the
do, it’s much better to have an ear than time. Over the course of performing
to be able to sight read — my ear’s with this album and promoting it, I’ve
pretty sharp, I just need to hear it, developed much more of a rhythmical
then I can play it.” inclination and now I’m really enjoying
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
probably recurring things just because
“Once I start it’s all about me, it’s all about my own
struggles in my own head. A lot of my
thinking too much, it
influence is based in church hymns and
always turns sour, so the religious terminology has really
I try to keep a influenced my lyrics. I’m not religious
childlike perspective now and the record is definitely not
religious in any way, but it’s all these
when writing . . .” things that were instilled in me at a
very young age, they just have not
the uptempo stuff, but at the time it gone anywhere, they are still there, so
was a struggle because ‘Magic View’ as opposed to rebelling against it and
was just where I wanted everything to running away from it and trying to be
be. It’s like my little grain of freedom,” something I’m not, I decided I might as
she grinned. “This is what I’m going to well just embrace it. This album is very
hang onto, this little granule of this straightforward and very honest.”
sound, because that is what I was
really feeling at the time.” For more information on Diane Birch,
“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

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

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

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 "After waiting for 4 hours in line to
digress . . . see Conan O'Brien in person, I had
to settle for watching him via live
This year’s festival of choice for me video feed on a separate stage. Can
was Bonnaroo, which meant four days you blame me for frowning?"
of camping out in tents with
thousands upon thousands of I’ve ever had in my life.
unshowered, hippie-esque indie folks in
the heart of Tennessee. It was my first If I could encourage you to do one
Bonnaroo experience, and after thing, it would be to attend at least one
something like that, it’s safe to say I’m music festival if you ever get the
a changed woman. Sure, it was chance. It doesn’t matter if it’s big (like
disgustingly hot outside. Sure, I had to a four day Bonnaroo) or small (like a
shower 3 times after I got home in one day Warped Tour or Lillith Fair that
order to wash off all of the dirt, just so happens to be coming through
sunscreen, and bug spray. I even got your town), the experience still holds
mud all over my favorite white shirt true — good music, good people, and
and stained it to ruins! But, I also got one hell of a sunburn.
something from the experience — more
live music than I knew what to do with If you could put together your own
(highlights including Blitzen Trapper, music festival, what bands would you
She & Him, Kings of Leon, Kevin ensure made it onto the bill? Email me
Devine, and the always funny Conan at and let
O’Brien), and one of the best corn dogs me know!

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Michelle Lewis
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. “Who hasn't
The title track is a look back at a had their heart
relationship that didn’t work out. Part
confession, part realization, the song hits broken, or felt
with the blunt force of honesty. not good
When asked if she truly felt “broken” enough?”
Michelle responded, “Who hasn't had
heart broken, or felt not good enough?

“No matter how I've always written songs that are

personal to me, but my hope is that
many people they have the same affect on the
you have in
your life, you Of the next song on the EP, “Lonely
Life,” Lewis initially denied that she
are always left was truly lonely when writing it. “It
came to me more as a sad cowboy
with yourself.” 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

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126


Marina by Cathy Wagner

“Anya Marina’s latest album, SLOW & Cathy Wagner: What pushed you to
STEADY SEDUCTION, PHASE II, is a make the switch from being a DJ to
tightly honed collection of winking pop focusing on performing?
gems and slyly sexy rock and roll that
showcases this newcomer’s deft Anya Marina: It was a really gradual
melodic sensibility and wryly process, it was definitely not an
humorous lyrical point of view.” overnight thing. I had been doing both
and balancing both for a really long
Suburban Roads Magazine, Editor, time, and then I did what I always do
Cathy Wagner, had a chance to talk whenever I'm faced with a challenge
with Anya. In this crossover feature, like that: I waited until the absolute
Songwriter’s Monthly is running an last moment, to where I was just
excerpt which focuses on a key point about to have a nervous breakdown
in Anya’s career that led her to making because I couldn't juggle anymore. I
a vital change in her life that allowed said to myself, "Okay, something's
her to focus on her music. gotta get cut out." I was waiting for

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

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
the moment where I said, "This is are an art form to me because I have
ridiculous." Showing up to work 5 or so much fun making those things, to
10 minutes late every day was just not performing every night on stage, to
going to fly and asking for all this time meeting people after the show, to
off to drive up to LA to meet with formulating what I'm going to talk or
people wasn't going to work. I was sing about that night. I'm getting all of
asking for my vacation time early so I those needs met, and if ever that
could go on tour — I would never stops — knock on wood that it doesn't
actually take vacations, I would just — I'll know that I always have those
use my vacation time to go tour. It skills to fall back on. I can always do a
was fine with me, but at a certain satellite radio talk show . . .
point, I was starting to feel like I was
burning the candle at both ends. It To read the rest of Cathy’s interview,
came down to one tearful conversation visit:
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 interviews/amarina.html
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

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.”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

West Coast
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

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.

Ian released his first record in England

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

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

And that’s exactly what Ian did, he in a guest to review material. We hold
“fully immersed” himself in the West the sessions in Portland, the San
Coast Songwriters association. Francisco Bay Area and Hollywood, but
According to one press statement: you can also mail songs in, you don’t
“With [Ian Crombie’s] leadership, WCS have to be there in person.”
has grown to one of the most active
songwriter associations in the United Ian expressed his excitement for the
States.” In 2008, Music Connection fairly new Skype sessions that the
Magazine named Ian as one of the Top group has been trying out. Through
50 “Innovators, Iconoclasts, Skype, Ian can set up sessions with

House Concert with Sara Bareilles

Groundbreakers and Guiding Lights” of industry professionals that otherwise

the year. would have been impossible due to
time and travel constraints.
“We have so many things that we do
where people can be involved,” Crombie WSC also offers numerous contests,
pointed out. “We have song screening songwriting classes, songwriter
sessions every month where we bring s h o w c a s e s , Wo r k s - i n - P r o g r e s s

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

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 “It is amazing, it really is,” he
conference and more. continued. “When a manager drops out
from one of our events, we don’t just
But Ian is quick to divert the praise plug anybody in there.”
away from himself. Almost immediately
he started touting the merits of the
other people involved in the
organization. “I am supported by an “It’s just the
incredible team of volunteers. When I
talked to John Brahney who used to run
pure energy of
LASS [Los Angeles Songwriters everybody that’s
Showcase], he said they disappeared
because they didn’t have the depth of involved . . .
volunteers that we have. This
organization has a life of its own. I’m
that’s what
sure things that I have done have makes it what
affected the way things have gone, but
it’s just the pure energy of everybody it is!”
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 Crombie went on to single out WCS’s
it is! It’s the sum of everybody.” 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
Steven Memmel Intimate Workshop because this

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 re-
flection, 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 con-
nections that
probably anybody
could ever have and
yet I don’t take
advantage of them
because it’s not
Martin Atkins Seminar something that I feel
comfortable doing.”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Ian added, “But I think that what guests from the attendees out of
usually happens is, if you don’t try and respect for the guests, but we’ve found
pitch to someone, they’ll say, ‘Don’t that it’s actually better this way. You
you write?’ Which is a different way to
do it than to be handing people your
songs.” “The beauty of
And not surprisingly, that’s loosely the our conference
philosophy behind WCS’s single most
important event: the annual West Coast is it’s up close
Songwriters Music Conference
[September 10th through 12th at
and personal.”
Foothill College in Los Altos, California].
can still police it,
but if you let
A relaxed lunch with time to network
everybody hang
and make friends.
out together and
talk, the guests
enjoy it just as
much as the

“ 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
“The beauty of our conference,” Ian even have to talk about songwriting,
stated, “is it’s up close and personal. just talk to the guests as if they are
You’re not scrambling to try and meet someone you’re just meeting. And it
everyone, you actually sit down and eat doesn’t even have to be about
with the same people who are listening songwriting! But it will come around to
to your songs and giving seminars, it’s songwriting because that’s what you
very grassroots in that respect. We’ve do, that’s the connection between both
had some amazing guests over the of you, just don’t force it.”
years: Lamont Dozier, Mike Reid, Allen
Shamblin and all these incredible “We’ll have around 50 guests for that
songwriters. We used to separate the event,” Crombie informed. “We fly

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

people in from Nashville, L.A. and As previously stated, it takes a special
sometimes New York, as well. Peter kind of person to put in so many hours
Yarrow was just confirmed! He is going to continually achieve such grand
to be performing somewhere close to accomplishments. “The thing is, you
where our conference is, so that’s why see, I obviously don’t care enough
we were able to lock him in. We always about money,” Ian laughed. “I really
look at who is touring and who is in the feel that I was put on this planet to
area that we can bring in.” help people and I really enjoy doing
what I do which is giving people advice
As far as genres represented at the and feedback and carrying on these
conference, Ian stated, “We try to keep events.”
it as open as possible because people
do write in all styles. We call it a ‘music’ For more information on West Coast
conference because we didn’t want Songwriters and their upcoming Music
people to think it’s just about songs, Conference [September 10th through
although that’s the core of it. We have 12th], visit:
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 You can also find the West Coast
we all write songs or we all write music. Songwriters on facebook.
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

“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 Songwriters Panel
things up.”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Photo: Alix Malka

Christina Aguilera
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.

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

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.”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Photo: Tom Beard
Various Artists
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


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

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 Cee-Lo Green
c o u r s e , t h e “ Tw i l i g h t ”

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:
% 2 5 2 F i d 3 7 2 5 4 9 2 8 9 % 2 5 3 F u o

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
Trance Singles
Nadia Ali
(Morgan Page Remix)
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

Sunlounger/Zara Taylor remix introduces an edge that
doesn’t alter the artist’s vision, but
FOUND instead sharpens it with a
Magic Island Records determined precision. Nadia’s sultry
voice hits with a refocused and
Roger Shah has teamed up with refined sensuality that invigorates
Zara Taylor once again to offer a and enthralls. Powerful, precise
exciting, hypnotic whisper that and achingly passionate.
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 ever-

whirling synths.
1 8 2 6 & R D _ P A R M 1 = h t t p % 2 5 3 A % 2 5 2 F


Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Straight No

A Cappella
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
Back in April of 2010, Songwriter’s After a brief anecdote of literally
Monthly was invited to a rather making Straight No Chaser sing for
spectacular press conference/private their supper, Jay handed the mic back
concert at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic to David.
City, New Jersey. The event featured
the ten-man a cappella band known as “A little bit of background before we
Straight No Chaser. Following are bring these guys out. As Jay
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 mentioned, they came together in 1996
hopefully not only offer you a look into at Indiana University. They formed an a
the a cappella phenomenon known as cappella group, ten guys. In 1999,
Straight No Chaser, but will also give faced with the prospect of graduation,
you an idea of what the actual event they put in place a system to choose
was like. Enjoy! their successors.
They graduated and
The afternoon began “I put the file went on their way.
with David Spatz, In 2006 they were
host of the Emmy online and I let invited to return to
Award-winning Indiana University
series Curtain Call, the guys see it and for a reunion of the
taking the stage at
Harrah’s lavish
the next thing you original ensemble
and they did. Well
concert venue. David know we have right around that
informed the same time,
attendees that 2010 eleven million somebody found a
i s H a r ra h ’s 3 0 t h
anniversary and to
views on it.” clip of theirs from a
1998 concert and
help celebrate they put it up on
would be featuring a very special youtube . . . You know the expression
production show. “A show like this has going viral? That’s just what that video
never been done before on a long term did! They were offered a recording
basis in Atlantic City,” David explained, contract. They are just waiting for their
“It’s very unique.” third album called WITH A TWIST to
drop on April 13th. Then they are going
Spatz introduced Jay Snowden, senior out on a 54 city, 60 day tour in April
vice president and general manager for and May before they come here and
Harrah's Resort and Showboat Casino- open an 8 week run, on July 2nd.
Hotel. “When the concept first crossed Ladies and gentlemen for their preview
my desk as a ten-person a cappella of their debut in Atlantic City, would
show, I had to be sold, right?” Jay you please welcome, Atco/Atlantic
admitted. “So I jumped online and I did recording artists Straight No Chaser!”
the youtube, I did a little research on
these guys and found out not only do Straight No Chaser took the stage and
they have great voices, but these guys performed a series of astounding
have a great story!” covers that included “Signed, Sealed,
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
Delivered I’m Yours,” ”I’m Yours/ Host: I’m sure you didn’t expect it to
Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and go viral, how did people find out about
“ U n d e r T h e B r i d g e .” A f t e r t h e it? Was it your core fans, from ’96?
thunderous applause died down, the
band introduced themselves and the
press conference portion of the “The name No
program began.
Chaser originally
*** came from a
David Spatz, Host: Here’s how the Thelonious Monk
press conference portion is going to
work: I’ll start off by asking a question,
jazz song . . .”
we’ll open it up to the media here,
we’ve also got Miranda Harper of Dan SNC: I got phone calls from Crain’s
Klores Communications over there on Chicago Business, Wall Street Journal,
the laptop — she’ll be taking the all wanting to interview me and ask
questions from the internet. You guys me, how did you do it? I said I didn’t
ready to rock and roll, here? do anything, there was no story . . . of
course none of them wanted to have
Straight No Chaser: Absolutely! the interview.

Host: Let me ask you this question, Host: Questions from our friends in the
you got back together in 2006 for a media here in the concert venue? Do
reunion of the original Straight No we have any questions?
Chaser, someone put that video up on
youtube . . . how much would you say Media: Where did the name come from
that your success since 2006 has been and does it have an affirmation of your
a product of the internet? sexual preference?

SNC: How about 100%! It was Randy SNC: Way to come right out of the gate
[Stine] who really put the video online, with that one!
so we’re going to let him answer the
question . . . SNC: Welcome To Atlantic City, we’ll be
working here all summer!
Randy from SNC: Yeah, originally I
just put that up. I mean, we had these SNC: Wow, uhm . .
old betamax video tapes of our concert
we’d done, none of us had ever seen it, SNC: The name Straight No Chaser
none of us had a betamax player, so I originally came from a Thelonious Monk
had it transfered and I put the file jazz song . . . I don’t know where your
online and I let the guys see it and the head was at, but we’re all musicians up
next thing you know we have eleven here . . . it just happened to work in
million views on it. college and it kind of went with our
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
philosophy. We all kind of got into a guys hanging out there, doing what we
cappella because Dan [Ponce] promised did. They are all 18 and 19 years old,
we’d meet girls . . . so we’re still we went our separate ways, put this to
waiting for that. bed for the most part. In 2007, we got
a call from the CEO from Atlantic
Host: Miranda, question from the Records and here we are today singing
internet? at Atlantic City.

I n t e r n e t : Ye a h , I h a v e s e v e ra l Host: I have a follow up question. You

questions here. The first one actually say, 2007 you got a call from Atlantic
comes from Jenny in New Orleans and Records, they wanted to sign you to a
she wanted to know, you guys have all recording contract, was there a point,
been together as a group for how long was there a defining moment when you
now and how did you find each other? ten decided alright, we’re going to quit
our day jobs and do this full time?
SNC: The group started back in 1996.
Dan Ponce, the guy in the middle there, SNC: There was actually. When we first
he had heard about different a cappella signed with Atlantic, we all had full time
groups all over the country at other jobs, we were living across the country,
schools and at some schools it was obviously we’d been apart since
even up to a couple dozen groups, but graduating in 1999 and we weren’t
at IU there was only one or two, so we really sure we wanted to leave our full
got together, the ten of us in ’96. We time jobs to do this professionally. A
were together in college for about three cappella is a very niche genre of music,
years until most of us graduated and we weren’t really sure if the public
went on our ways. We kept the group would embrace it. But after our album,
there, we auditioned new guys so if you our debut album, actually it was a
go back to Indiana now, there’s still ten Christmas album called H OLIDAY

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

SPIRITS, that went to number one on reconstructing it with your own Straight
iTunes and on Amazon, we all kind of No Chaser twist like adding “Over the
looked at each other and said, “You Rainbow” in the middle of a song?
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 SNC: That’s something that we’re
moment . . . this wasn’t a number one trying to get people to understand
on holiday chart, this was number one about our music. WITH A TWIST, that’s
over Britney Spears the album, we’re
a n d K a n y e We s t , basically taking a
Coldplay . . . “A cappella is a song that you know
from radio and
Media: I know you very niche genre of giving it the old
guys do a lot of
philanthropic work,
music, we weren’t Straight No Chaser
spin on it. What we
with music really sure if the do is we all just
education, can you come together . . .
talk about some of public would that “Under The
the projects you’re
working on or some
embrace it . . .” Bridge” song is a
song that I heard
things that you plan in the barber shop
to work on locally in the community? and everyone was bobbing their head
so I said, “Guys this would be kind of a
SNC: Absolutely! You know, all ten of cool song for us to do as a group.”
us grew up singing, playing in a band That ’s how w e get our musi c,
and everything, elementary through everybody brings music that they listen
high school. Something that’s really to on the radio, “Let’s try and do this a
bothering us now is, now that we’re in cappella.” So we’re already twisting it
a tougher economy a lot of programs in up by singing it a cappella, but we like
schools are getting cut and usually the to give it a little extra something that
first thing to go is music. That doesn’t you’ve never heard before.
sit very well with any of us, so what
we’re doing is, the front row ticket sale Media: Did anything change or tweak
proceeds for Atlantic City are going to when you went into a studio with a
be donated to local music programs to producer as opposed to live?
help keep them afloat.
SNC: Sure. Atlantic Records is our
Host: How do you go about record label and we’ve worked with
d ec o ns t r u c t i n g a s o n g a n d t hen several people there. You know, most

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

people who are producers in the music Internet: This is from Jill in
industry haven’t really worked with a Philadelphia and she wants to know
cappella groups before, so actually what you’re doing special for the
we’ve worked with a gentleman named performance this summer in Atlantic
Deke Sharon [Ed. Note: Deke and his City. Is it all new material? What can
ground-breaking a cappella band, The she expect to see when she comes
House Jacks, were featured in down to the performance?
Songwriter’s Monthly way back in the
mid ’90’s]. Deke is a member of a SNC: I believe the show is going to be
professional a cappella group and was called Songs Of The Decades, so
also responsible for the production of what we’re going to do is we’re going
The Sing-Off show that to give a little slice of a
was on NBC this past cappella music from the
holiday season. There’s “We’re going 50s and the 60s and 70s
a couple of us who
generally do the
to bring so when people come
here, they can kind of
arrangements and all of something that take a trip down memory
us have input into how lane, hear some Doo Wop
the song comes out, but people have stuff, hear some Motown,
its always nice to have hear some 80s hits.
a fres h s e t o f e a r s never seen Some of the songs we’ve
outside, especially
someone as experience
before . . .” already prepared and
some of the songs we’re
as the people from going to be working on
Atlantic Records and as Deke Sharon to the next couple of months.
sort of bring it to the next level. We’d
like to think we could do it ourselves — Host: This is just fascinating, the
I think most bands would — but it’s dynamic here, do you split up into little
always fantastic to work with cliques? Are some guys friendlier with
professionals in the music industry. others . . .

Media: Among the ten of you is there SNC: We call them alliances [laughing].
anybody who takes the lead or is it all
indians and no chiefs? SNC: if something goes wrong in the
group, we have a general rule to blame
SNC: Why didn’t she say all chiefs? Randy.

SNC: We have a couple main directors Internet: David, I have another great
in the group, Dan’s our music director question here and this is from Ryan and
as well as Walter Chase as well as Ryan he said, “You guys are really funny,
[Ahlwardt] . . . whosever arrangement would you ever consider doing a
it is takes the helm, takes the lead. We television series? Something like Glee?
all consider ourselves chiefs, but we
should be more indians. SNC: Hey ABC, CBS, NBC . . . hi!!!
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
SNC: We all started in a choir called SNC: We’re so excited to be here and
The Singing Hoosiers at Indianan we want to take the opportunity to
University and we happen to know, thank Jay and his staff for treating us
actually, that Glee was created by an like kings. You’re gonna get a great
alumni . . . if you’re out there. show. You know, when you hear “a
cappella,” a lot of people might think
Media: So, when a contract was put in Barbershop Quartet, maybe some
front of you to be in residency here at people think Boyz II Men, some Doo
t he ama z i n g H a r ra h ’s Re s o r t al l Wo p , b u t w e ’ r e g o i n g t o b r i n g
summer . . . with everything that they something that people have never seen
have to offer, was this an exciting before to this show, this summer it’s
moment for you guys?! I know that going to be great!
signing with Atlantic was a very exciting
moment also, but how does this SNC: We’re working on our Jersey
categorize? Shore nicknames as we speak.

SNC: It was an easy decision. Atlantic Host: We’ll take one last question.
City: we got the beach, a little bit of
gambling, a great theater and we get to Internet: I have a question from
do whatever songs we want? That’s a Megan in Rhode Island and she wanted
no-brainer. 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


Straight No Chaser
wrapped up the event with
a rousing rendition of “Hi-

For more information on

Straight No Chaser,
including a look at their
brand new video for SNC’s
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 ?
version of “Tainted Love”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

“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://
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
In The
If you’re a fan,
you don’t just
like Hanson’s music, you admire and this celebratory record.
a c c u r a t e
description of

respect the individuals. There’s always

been something that has set these “It’s a really upbeat record, it’s a very
guys apart: a depth, a unity, a focus, fast-paced album,” Isaac stated. “A
an understanding, and a purpose. The song like [the opening] ‘Waiting For
latest album is no exception. SHOUT IT This’ is just about getting out there
O UT is an upbeat, soul-inspired and doing something that you’ve been
masterpiece that some critics have holding back from doing all this time.
already called the band’s best offering In some form or another, it’s saying to
yet. The promotional video depicts this people, ‘Stop waiting around . . . it’s
album as “the soundtrack for living in time to do it! Now is the time, don’t
the moment” and you’d have a hard wait for a better day, make today the
time coming up with a better, more better day.’”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

“Albums are an interesting thing together . . . and then the layers of the
because they can take on a life of their horns and that kind of stuff, but it’s all
own and they’re meant built on this bedrock
to capture, I think, a
p e r i o d ,” Ta y l o r
“Albums are an of an old school band
playing together.”
theorized. “As a band, interesting thing
for the last couple One element that sets
albums, we’ve because they can SHOUT IT OUT apart
consciously asked from other Hanson
ourselves, ‘What do we take on a life of albums is the
sound like? What do
we sound like as
their own . . .” emphasis on piano.

players? Not as Taylor agreed, “Yeah,

songwriters, not as singers, not how I’d say that. This record probably has
tricky can we get with cool layered more keyboard than any other record.
parts, but what do we sound like as a Whenever you add keyboard to

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 something it immediately makes it less
beginning,” Isaac pointed out. rock and more R&B. The latest quick
quick synopsis of our sound — which
“I think it was also just coming from a still doesn’t actually capture it
point of view of reaching a bit of a new completely — is we’re a ‘soul-inspired
plateau as a band,” Taylor elaborated. pop/rock band.’ I think we’re more
“This record just needed to just be a similar to a 70’s rock band than any
little more celebratory. It’s not trying to other particular category. 70’s rock
be what it’s not, it is about songs and bands have harmonies and they have
it’s also very, very live. The core of the some groove. Take The Doobie Brothers
record is really us in a room playing and Three Dog Night, these are
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
probably the closest thing to what
The Story Behind: we sound like. I think this record
“Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’” brings it back to the essence a little
“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
“I think this
the rhythm is percussion and bass, it’s record brings it
not a rock arrangement. The story of
that song is we were at a point where back to the
we were singing songs in between
soundchecks while on tour for T HE essence a little
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 Another, much more obvious aspect
kind of stuff that really just clicked with of SHOUT IT OUT that provides a
us first, it’s really where our heartbeat significantly different shading to the
is. So when we were finishing writing Hanson sound is the addition of a
Thinking ‘Bout Somethin,’’ we thought it horn section. It should be noted,
would be nice to have the deep-cut however, that the horns don’ t
listeners be able to catch a dedication to actually change the music, instead
what we were feeling and singing they enhance it, help to explain what
about . . When all of a sudden you catch it is.
lines like, “If you’re not to proud to beg,
I can give you some respect,” and then As Taylor put it: “I really like to draw
you hear a reference to ‘I Thank You’ by and paint and with painting,
Sam and Dave, and then when it says sometimes you could do a whole
‘Listen up to what I say’ you know it’s landscape and literally just one drop
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

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

of red . . . or one key white
line across the horizon makes The Story Behind:
you go, “Oh, yeah, I see what The “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’”
that is.” And that’s what I feel Video
like we did by adding the
h o r n s . We h a d l a i d t h e “We’ve always been enormous fans of THE
foundation for the record and 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!
“We’re a Then add on to that being a musician and
‘soul-inspired having this ridiculous kind of slapstick
humor . . . it was right up our alley! I think
pop/rock probably the first time I saw that movie was
when I was about 12 years old and I’ve watched
band.” it consistently ever since. We were talking about
music video ideas and we knew if we were going
when you hear the horns, to do a video for this song, it really had to send
hopefully you realize, ‘Okay, the same kind of visual message as the song
this is what they meant to do, sends musically. It had to give people a context
it’s meant to be a record that for where we were coming from musically with
emphasizes those grooves.’” this record and with this song. Taylor was
watching Youtube clips and he came into the
Isaac added, “ I can’t imagine office where Zac and I were sitting and he said,
the record without [the horns] “Guys you gotta watch this, check this out!” He
because we did it without the was playing ‘Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’” and it
horn section and then went worked perfectly with that scene from THE
back in and said, ‘You know BLUES BROTHERS, it looked like the song was
w h a t , t h e r e ’s s o m e t h i n g made for that movie, it seemed to sync up
missing.’ Once the horns were 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:

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10,

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
arranged and put on the make that you haven’t
record, it came to life in a made before. One of the
whole new way.” “I don’t think things that was unique
and really exciting for me
“I don’ t think anyone anyone could about the making of this
could accuse Hanson of
b e i n g t r e n d y,” Ta y l o r
accuse record was something
about it felt like some of
joked. “There’s always Hanson of our earliest records that
pressure of ‘Have you we’d ever made. I’m
heard the latest Lady being talking about our early
GaGa song?’ Even the independent records
greatest bands of all times trendy . . .” where we were in a
did disco songs in the 70s! garage with some
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
Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
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
engineer person making fresh because it feels like
our music. It felt really “It’s okay to those early records, it
free and really honest. I feels like it is 100% our
think we had gone dance in the vision with no strings
through a lot as a band
with UNDERNEATH and with street . . . attached.”

THE WALK and it had been

a very intense process.
because Even the artwork was part
of the band’s vision. Isaac
We felt a lot of personal that’s continued, “We had a
things that needed to be concept of having more of
done like starting a label something a hand-drawn kind of
and doing the one mile
barefoot walks and things
we need.” quality to the record from
a very early point in the
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,
rejoice in the
f ac t t h a t w e
had kind of

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

process. We just felt like we wanted
The Story Behind: our art to be in every way, shape and
“Me, Myself and I” form an expression of our band and
“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 our music. One of the best ways to do
essence: we write songs and we sing that was for us to literally make as
together. That is the core of what we much of the art and to do as much of
do. ‘Me, Myself and I’ is about the kind the design . . . not just, This is my
of bittersweet quest that we go on, it is vision help me execute this designer/
really just about bringing the whole graphic artist person.’ We have
record back to center because we always been really hands on, but we
wanted to have a true sort of core ‘us’
moment. There’s a lot of meaning “We had cut our
behind the lyrics, but the song is the
capstone of the album. If you don’t like own path for
it, then there’s only so many things to
point your finger at because it’s just ourselves and it
three voices and a piano. Anyway, it
was a capstone because we all sort of
was time to enjoy
breathed a sigh that said ‘Okay, we put and, for lack of a
it all on there, we put the right elements
that capture us today, this is a Hanson better way to say
— Taylor
it, celebrate.”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

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

For more information on Hanson, visit:

“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
just felt like we just needed to take it a
whole other step further and so all
the moment.”
those icons and everything else you see Acknowledgement: Songwriter’s
on the website, that’s stuff that Taylor, Monthly would like to thank Gina Miller
Zac or I actually drew. I think that the for her help in writing this article.
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

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

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 ?
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 ?

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
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 over-
saturated, 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.”

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

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 buoyant “Happy.” These guys have
Harris, the group focused on a real skill when it comes to
melodic rock songs John and Eric delivering an uplifting and truly
had always wanted to record. satisfying chorus.

VEGAS WITH RANDOLPH is a gem of The piano-driven “Arizona Blue”

an album featuring a wide variety features a much more tender,
delightfully crafted tunes that rely almost pensive approach. The
on engaging 60’s and 70’s styled imagery is sharp and memorable
melodies, blissful rhythms and while the hook is brilliantly crafted
cover impressively fresh lyrical and placed in the most dynamic
territory. location in the song. Nice writing!

One of the standout songs is the The most impressive aspect of 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 album, is the epic “Longplay.” John

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
outline the concept: “‘Longplay’
was largely a collection of small The Story Behind:
pieces or music we called The Band’s Name
‘snippets.’ We really liked them, but
Several old buddies from high
had not developed them into songs
school (including a couple in the
in their own right.”
band) were planning a reunion/
get-together/long weekend
“We identified the ones we liked,
thing with guys whom we'd
but found we had too many for the
seldom get to hang with — such
project unless we decided to put
as our colorful friend
out a double CD. Instead of
"Randolph" — in a place like
dropping a few on the floor, we had
that [Vegas]. It was sure to be
the novel idea of stringing them
a once in a lifetime experience.
together into a single recording.”
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
Eric added: “We were intrigued
has never been rescheduled . . .
with the challenge and uniqueness
but the could-have-beens still
of recording a multi-song Suite –
i n t r i g u e u s ! " Ve g a s W i t h
certainly ABBEY ROAD side 2 and
Randolph" is the great
other such efforts were probably in
misadventure that never was.
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.”



Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

The music industry is constantly presence
changing. Not only is the music though.
evolving into different variations of E v e n
existing genres, but the method of the companies
consumers purchasing music that are
continues to change. Technology has full of cash
always made this possible. Record from other
players were able to spin LP’s or 45’s business
and the automobile, once reserved for e n t i t i e s David Fiorenza
the AM and then FM station, started to h a v e
come equipped with 8-track players, closed their doors. Virgin Megastores
then cassettes and eventually CD closed their last retail music shop in
players. Some of us have seen all of June 2009.
these creative changes, known as
creative destruction. The industry completely destructed
when Amazon, with no brick and
The most popular transformation for mortar presence, became the largest
music is the iPods. This device has retailer of CD and download sales.
revolutionized the way we purchase Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Borders
and listen to our music. Creative and Barnes & Noble all have music
destruction will continue to evolve as sections in their stores, but the shelf
companies like Apple and others space dwindles every year with the
develop new technologies. I’m not continued popularity of downloadable
telling you this is good or bad, what I music. Apple iTunes is responsible for
am concerned about is surviving in an 28% of all music purchased in the US
environment that changes faster than and there are at least 70 other similar
I would like. My old habits die hard. sites, such as Rhapsody and Napster.

Where can I buy my physical CD’s? This creative destruction and my

Where is the local retail music store? search for independent retail stores
Sure there are independent stores have brought this process full circle.
struggling to survive and they have There has been a 100% increase in LP
their Record Store Day once a year, record sales in the last two years. The
but the brick and mortar retail music two million units of LP’s sold are still
stores are closing . . . or have closed. far less than the 86 million online
Tower Records, from its opening in sales, but this shows some demand
1960, dominated major cities shifting. Even hip clothing stores are
throughout the US until the final store carrying LP’s and record players once
closed in 2006. Tower still has a web 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 The Ninth Annual
astounding 61,000 copies as an Mountain Stage NewSong
album. These are groundbreaking Contest
numbers considering an artist who
releases product as an LP prints about To enter, click:
5,000 copies as a collectors item for
their fans.
The winner of this year's NewSong
There are many factors to consider Contest gets the following:
when releasing your product to your • The chance to record a 5-song EP
fans as an LP. This format presents produced and engineered by
c hal l e n g e s f o r t h e a rt i s t , t he i r Grammy-winning producer Jacquire
management and their public relations King (Kings of Leon, Norah Jones).
specialist. There are only a handful of • A performance on an
LP pressing plants in the US and internationally broadcast Mountain
usually minimum orders are 1,000. Stage (NPR) show.
Shipping and handling is more • 1,000 copies of the completed disc.
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 NewSong is an independent music
technology continues in the 21st organization with the following two-
century. I will be checking back with fold mission:
you in 10 or 15 years and writing to • To build a supportive community of
tell you of my quest for the CD as this performers and songwriters across
format could become obsolete. all genres of music and levels of skill.
• To identify the truly exceptional
David Fiorenza is part of the duo artists within this community and to
F i o r e n z a - D o w l i n . work closely with them to develop their careers and introduce their
is their site. He is also an Economics music to a broader, international
Professor at Villanova University. audience.

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Photo: Sheri Lowen

Heidi McKee
Heidi McKee’s album, DIFFERENCE,
opens with a tense, staccato strum
that echos the stress of typical day-
to-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.”



Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
“ 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

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
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
“She Wasn’t Sorry” jogs along
at a tense pace that somehow

manages to evoke the feeling

of being chased . . . or

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.

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126
Kimberley Locke
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

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 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 ?

forward to whatever this

p i d = 1 8 2 6 & R D _ PA R M 1 = h t t p % 2 5 3 A % 2 5 2 F
% 2 5 2 F s t r o b e l i g h t - t h e - r e m i x e s

dynamic team comes up


with next!

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126

Previously . . . For those who missed earlier issues of

Songwriter’s Monthly, just click on the cover of your choice pictured below.
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Monthly-Jan-10-121- Brigitte Zarie
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Issue Jan. ’10, #121
Dec-09-120 Dec. ’09, #120

April ‘10 Feb. ‘10 Jan. ‘10 Dec. ‘09

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Nov. ‘10 Oct. ‘10 Sept. ’09 Sept. ’09 SE

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’10, #126