Friday, June 25, 2010
Humble…easy on the eyes…strong loyal fan base…and an incredible appreciation for Duran Duran. Jake Niemi has been lucky enough to be one of the few to enter a web-based song contest and walk away with his songs, Lush, Last Second, and Anthem of Zeroes, being played internationally in the UK and Spain and the U.S. This well spoken gentleman discusses his humble beginnings to the genesis of Behind Those Beautiful Eyes, to his gracious view of Duran Duran. Jake agreed to an interview with Ladyaslan of Duran Duran to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and what he feels is important to him and the music, here is the interview.
LadyaslanDDTTRH: Tell us a little bit about yourself...let's talk about the ABC Radio Networks Best Pop Artist and the Effigy Award...
Jake Niemi: Well in 2008, my manager Nikki from Bliss This Media suggested that I enter my songs on a website called Fame Games Radio, then an affiliate of ABC Radio Networks (they have recently switched affiliates, as far as I know). The website holds an ongoing competition for unsigned artists to get their music heard. If the songs garner enough attention online, then radio airplay results. Plus, other exposure and benefits come into play. Three of my songs, “Lush,” “Last Second” and “Anthem of the Zeroes” ended up being repeatedly featured on the radio program internationally in 3 countries (USA, UK and Spain) and online across the globe. The network went on to feature my song “Anthem of the Zeroes” in their Global Breakthrough Top 20, and many times I was a featured artist on the Fame Games home page. In January 2009, they announced that I had won “Best Pop Artist” during their “Effigy Awards 2008” broadcast live on the radio. I believe God has had a Plan for my career and He spoke to me only a week before the award was given, saying He was about to move and that I should get ready for it. I really didn’t expect the award but I was quite honored to be heard and respected by Tony Cowell (world renowned broadcaster and author, brother of American Idol’s most popularly tough judge Simon Cowell), the legendary multi-platinum Grammy winner Lionel Richie, other experts and the wonderful staff at Fame Games. I largely owe so much of the publicity I received in the months to follow—from both fans and industry people alike—to the staff at the MMI/Meer Music studios that runs these programs. I’m just a big kid with a longstanding dream of making it in the seemingly impossible music business. That’s finally starting to take shape. I’ve worked hard for decades but it’s paying off and I’m appreciating the recognition. I don’t think anyone knows just what we go through unless you’re an artist who has tried. If the difficulty of making it doesn’t break you, and you somehow make it, you’re beyond blessed. That’s sadly not the case for so many struggling artists and my heart will always be with them.
LadyaslanDDTTRH: What is your favorite Duran Duran video and song?
Jake Niemi: I love a lot of their songs. My favorite song by them is “Come Undone.” It’s one of these magical masterpieces that I can always turn on and it takes me into a dream world. The video was the perfect supplement to the song’s vibe. The song is pristine in every way: hooky and melodic vocal line, undeniably catchy chord progression, amazing words, emotional, and let’s not forget the stellar production. The drum line was clearly inspired by my favorite drum loop, “Ashley’s Roach clip” which has been used as an inspiration in many ways by bands, artists and rappers alike on radio tunes you’d swear you’d heard before they came out. Clearly, that’s where that line in the lyrics came from. Milli Vanilli used the loop incessantly (I still like them regardless of the lip-syncing debacle) but countless others used it like PM Dawn (“Set Adrift on Memory Bliss”), EMF (“Unbelievable”) and others. Beats inspired by that loop (from an old song by Soul Searchers) seem to turn to gold—err, I should say: platinum. I have a couple songs inspired by it and plan to record more. One such is on my MySpace called, “Steal Me A Piece of You.” Go check it out www.myspace.com/niemimusic.
Ladyaslan DDTTRH: Have you found a record label to call home as of yet? Who would you like to be a part of and why?
Jake Niemi: Good question. No but I’m really close, I think to a deal with a division of one of the Big Four. I won’t say which one so as not to jinx my connections. I think my dream has always been to be on the Universal Music Group (UMG) umbrella, because of the word. Also my favorite movie “Breakfast Club” from 1985 (one of my fav years for music also) has their logo at the intro. I think “universal” describes what I want to be as an artist. I grew up with Michael Jackson and Madonna doing soda commercials, in the ‘MTV actually doing music videos’ days, when I believe pop culture was fully alive and at an all-time high. I want to personally usher back in the vibe of that era. I aim to do so with my music and I’m hoping to eventually generate the worldwide hype to go along with it. I kind of want to “bring the 80’s back” because today’s kids don’t realize what they’re missing. But as far as the original question, I’m still unsigned and loving it. Every artist dreams of being swooped up by a label. That doesn’t happen, though. It’s a well-known fallacy. You have to create a huge buzz for yourself and then let the labels actually come to you. The other way around never works—something I learned the hard way years ago. And that is, if you even need or want their help by that point. I’m in the process of trying to do what I call “pull an
Owl City” and build up a huge fan base to then be in a good bargaining position once a contract is placed on the conference table in front of me. I’ve already turned down multiple publishing and record deals, if that gives you any idea… I’ve quintupled my fan base since 2009 and now have more fans on MySpace than Backstreet Boys, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
LadyaslanDDTTRH: What contributions and influences do you feel Duran Duran contributed to the world of music and fashion and social awareness in the past 30 yrs?
Jake Niemi: I think Duran Duran has that same 80’s excitement and hype in them (even in the 1990’s material) that I was referring to a moment ago. And I believe they helped keep that sound and feeling alive. The term “magic” is one of my favorite words and ideals. My music would not be the same had I never heard, “Come Undone,” honestly. And I remember jamming out to “Hungry like the Wolf” when I was little, sitting in front of the Top 40 Radio wondering how all that was being done. (Later, I would work as a radio “jock” with some of the same DJ’s I heard as a kid at some top 40 stations, as an adult—a step which led me to stay obsessed with pop music and culture.)
LadyaslanDDTTRH: What is the story of Behind Those Beautiful Eyes?
Jake Niemi: I’d tell you but I’d have to kill you. Just kidding. Well, well, well… wouldn’t you like to know what makes me tick? Ha-ha, no, in all seriousness I still remember the morning I wrote that song. It was like the song WANTED out of me, and wouldn’t let me rest until I wrote it. Seriously that’s how it went. (Anna Nalick said it best: “2am and I’m still awake writing a song. If I get it all down on paper it’s no longer inside of me threatening the life it belongs to” in her smash Breathe [2am].) Behind Those Beautiful Eyes has been one of the most popular songs among fans for a while possibly tied with Lush. But the story isn’t as important as the irony that the lyrics and emotion of that song represent. Speaking of universal, I’d say it’s a feeling everyone can identify with, but one people don’t usually touch upon quite that way. I love irony, as does God (clearly) which is a driving force behind the charismatic and mysterious energy I bring to all the music I create. “How do I stop breathing? … How do I forget you when I wouldn’t want to in a million years? How do I erase your perfect face from my mind.” Think about the intellectually clashing nature of such concepts, and yet how readily identifiable that very rationale is. I think that is why the song stands out, because we all have that moment at one point or many points in our lives. Another song that has the same heart-wrenching ‘twist the knife’ kind of emotion that I love right now is, “Perfect” by Hedley. I think that should be song of the year and needs to hit Billboard #1 like yesterday. It says, “I’m not perfect but I’m still learning… I’m not alive if I’m lonely so please don’t leave… Was it something I said? Or just my personality?” I’m like, Whoa! Chills, goose bumps, arm hairs standing straight up. We’ve all been there, and that is what makes perfect ‘Pop.’ That and a killer melody which “Perfect” also has. Go, Hedley!
LadyaslanDDTTRH: Tell us about Last Summer, who are they and how are you connected to them?
Last Summer from Swartz Creek, MI is clearly one of the most commercially viable acts that I’ve had the pleasure of producing music with. Front man Damon McKenzie has one of the most powerful and accurate set of pipes I’ve ever heard. And that counts vocalists I’ve met and vocalists I’ve never met. I mean, period, one of the best I’ve EVER heard. He sounds like his voice has been pitch corrected even when he’s just goofing around. Impeccable pitch, power and stage presence, that guy has. And his sense for catchy melodies is out of this world. I think I’m sitting on a couple “living legend” type projects right now, and they’re one of them. The other is LaToya Kennedy from Chicago (originally from Saginaw, MI). (Hands down the best vocalist I know.) One of the things that set these two apart from other bands and artists I’ve worked with—besides their talent—up to this point is that they are both very driven both in terms of playing live shows and promoting their work. I love all the people I work with, though, and I don’t take on any acts without commercial appeal.
LadyaslanDDTTRH: If you could remake a Duran Duran song which one would it be and why?
Jake Niemi: At the risk of redundancy, I’d be remiss not to say, “Come Undone.” I think I explained why pretty well earlier. My music would never be the same without that song. It’s one that I can never get tired of, and I believe a song that helped define the sound of the 90’s. Pretty powerful stuff…
LadyaslanDDTTRH: Have any upcoming news about yourself....live gig dates....
Jake Niemi: Well, I am actually heading down to Nashville next month to work with my new mentor, a 45X+ Platinum songwriter named Andrew Fromm whose sickeningly endless list of success stories includes Backstreet Boys, N Sync, Selena Gomez, and Britney… He currently has the #9 and climbing song on the Billboard CCM chart and its bizarre trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this guy texts me sometimes—let alone that he respects my work. I remember those artists who had the Max Martin/Rami sound from the late 90’s.
I have come to appreciate where a lot of their infectious hooks come from, which led the acts to be now-legendary. And it’s songwriters like Andrew Fromm that make that happen. With him as my musical guide, I’m producing demos of his songwriting for some notable acts including 33 Miles (INO Records), Nick Carter (of BSB on Jive Records), and Kelly Clarkson (Queen of American Idol, on RCA/Sony Records). But I’m just excited about sitting down at a piano and penning some future potential hits with the guy more than anything. We have some other really huge contacts that are planning to be a part of a potential major label solo debut for me, including Evan “Kidd” Bogart who has been one of the biggest Billboard hit makers and won a Grammy for co-writing Beyonce’s “Halo” with Ryan Tedder.
I want to give kudos to my entire Street Team including the President Andi and the VP Trish who are doing a phenomenal job with helping me build a huge fan base around the world. (Trish actually introduced Andrew Fromm to my MySpace page initially.) And all the fans that have supported me up to this point, I owe it all to you. I vow to be an “Artist for the People.” That’s my brand. I have a passion for compassion that supersedes even my intense love for music. We owe it all to The Man Upstairs lest anyone should boast. ;)
Please follow DDTTRH on Twitter! @DDTTRH
Posted by ddrockhall at 6:04 AM
Friday, June 18, 2010
Scarlet Soho is the brainchild of vocalist James Knights and synth sidekick Scarlet, with the live set-up completed by Stuart Key. The band are fresh off the road from shows with the likes of Delays, IAMX and Razorlight, and armed with their new single 'Speak Your Mind' and second album 'Warpaint', continue to headline dates across the UK and Europe. In recent press: “Scarlet Soho's synth-drenched take on New Romanticism, plus their astonishing work ethic, mean that they can only get bigger this year.” Record Collector
Scarlet Soho’s James Knights, sat with Ladyaslan and spoke of the band and being on the road and the ever growing campaign Duran Duran to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame~
Ladyaslan DDTTRH: What was it like to play with IAMX and Razorlight?
Scarlet Soho: PLAYING WITH IAMX WAS A REAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR US. WE HAD NEVER TOURED OUTSIDE OF THE UK BEFORE AND DIDN'T REALLY KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT OF THE EUROPEAN CROWDS. WE HAVE FANS AND FRIENDS THAT HAVE STUCK WITH US PURELY FROM PLAYING THOSE 4 DATES IN GERMANY. WE FOUND IT QUITE STRANGE AS WE ARE USED TO BEING A CLOSE-KNIT LITTLE FAMILY ON THE ROAD AND (ASIDE FROM JAMES AND MYSELF) WE RARELY ARGUE AT ALL. AFTER THE FIRST DATE IN HAMBURG IAMX HAD SACKED THEIR TOUR MANAGER?! VERY ODD. THE SHOWS WERE FUN THOUGH, WE PLAYED REALLY WELL AND TURNED QUITE A FEW HEADS WHICH WAS WONDERFUL!
PLAYING WITH RAZORLIGHT WAS ALSO AN INTERESTING EXPERIENCE AS WE HAD NEVER TOURED WITH A BAND WHERE THE SINGER DIDN'T BOTHER SHOWING UP FOR SOUNDCHECK... JUST STROLLED IN FOR THE SHOW, NOT MIXING WITH ANYONE.WE'RE CLOSE AS A BAND WHEN WE TOUR
Ladyaslan DDTRH: What contributions and influences do you feel Duran Duran contributed to the world of music and fashion and social awareness?
Scarlet Soho: I THINK THEY MARRIED THE ELECTRONICS AND POP SIDE OF THINGS INCREDIBLY WELL. AND FOR A BRITISH BAND THEY REALLY MADE AN IMPRESSION ON THE REST OF THE WORLD. THEY KIND OF ERADICATED THE IDEA THAT BRITISH PEOPLE ARE A LITTLE BIT DULL AND HAVE TERRIBLE FASHION SENSE.
Ladyaslan DDTTRH: How did your band get penned "the UK's number 1 underground electro-pop extravaganza"?
Scarlet Soho: BECAUSE WE ARE
Ladyaslan DDTTRH: What are your favorite Duran Duran song(s) and / or video(s)?
Scarlet Soho: I REALLY LIKE 'THE CHAUFFEUR' ACTUALLY. ALTHOUGH 'PLANET EARTH' HOLDS A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART AS WE USED TO COVER IT IN THE VERY VERY EARLY DAYS OF THE BAND.
Ladyaslan DDTTRH: what was it like to work with Flock of Seagulls?
Scarlet Soho: IT WAS AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY. IT WAS A TOUR THAT WE DIDN'T THINK WE'D GET. WE DID A LOAD OF SHOWS WITH THEM IN THE UK BEFORE HEADING OUT TO EUROPE WITH ZOOT WOMAN. A LOVELY BUNCH OF PEOPLE. THE ONLY ORIGINAL MEMBER IS THE SINGER SO WE WEREN'T SURE HOW BUSY THE SHOWS WOULD BE. WE SHOULDN'T'VE WORRIED, EVERY SHOW WAS REALLY FULL AND THE CROWD WERE TOTALLY ENTHUSIASTIC. A LOT OF TEENAGE BOYS AS APPARENTLY ONE OF THEIR TRACKS WAS USED ON 'VICE CITY' COMPUTER GAME(?!) I CAN'T ADMIT TO KNOWING MUCH ABOUT THIS. IT WAS A REALLY LAID BACK ATTITUDE ON THE ROAD AS THEY ARE A LOT OLDER THAN US. WE HEARD SOME STORIES THOUGH... THINGS I CANNOT DIVULGE!!!
Ladyaslan DDTTRH: If you could remake a Duran Duran song, which one would it be?
Scarlet Soho: NOW I CAN ACTUALLY PLAY BASS I'D BE UP FOR GIVING 'PLANET EARTH' ANOTHER TRY!
Ladyaslan DDTTRH: Tell us about your label Major Records, how did they find you?
Scarlet Soho: MAJOR PUT OUT OUR 2ND ALBUM. WE'RE JUST FINISHING UP THE PROMOTIONAL WORK FOR THAT NOW WITH A FEW DATES ACROSS EUROPE THEN WE ARE ENDING ONE CHAPTER AND STARTING ANOTHER. ALBUM NUMBER 3 IS ALMOST SET TO GO - STUDIO IS BOOKED, SONGS ARE WRITTEN! MAJOR FOUND US THROUGH THE IAMX SHOWS REALLY. THEY CAME TO SEE US IN LONDON A COUPLE OF TIMES AFTERWARDS, HANDS WERE SHAKEN, CONTRACTS WERE SIGNED, AND WINE WAS DRUNK. DONE
Follow Scarlet Soho:
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Posted by ddrockhall at 4:32 AM
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Your Vegas are an English rock band from Leeds, England, currently based in New York City. The band comprises Coyle Girelli (vocals, guitar), Mat Steel (guitar, vocals), Mark Heaton (keyboards, guitar, vocals), Jon Langford (bass) and Mal Taylor (drums).
Girelli, Steel and Langford started playing music together while attending Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley, West Yorkshire. Their first band was called Orka but they later changed their name to Salvadore. In December 2004 they joined forces with Heaton, a friend from the vibrant Leeds music scene and enlisted the services of Taylor, an old school friend, and formed Your Vegas.
Coyle Girelli has been quoted in many texts in regards to the genesis of Your Vegas and here is what he had to say about it:
How does a band from a little town outside of Leeds end up going by the name Your Vegas? “It was one of our first songs,” says the band’s singer Coyle Girelli. “Your Vegas seemed to sum us up. It’s about escaping to a different place, wherever that is.”
Escape, along with brotherhood, is at the core of Your Vegas. Four of the five band members grew up in a small suburb of Leeds called Otley. Forming a band came naturally; according to Girelli. “There aren’t many people in Otley. You find three other people near the same age into music, you’re probably going to meet up and form a band.”
At first, the concept of escape simply meant finding a sound. The group started out as a grungy, Nirvana-influenced group, but that slowly changed. A keyboardist was added; the music opened up. “Making a racket turned into thinking about songs,” says guitarist Mat Steel, who offers up U2 and Depeche Mode as influences (as for contemporaries, he mentions Coldplay and The Killers and Duran Duran).
In 2008, the band was continuously on the road across the US and Canada as they completed six major north American tours. After supporting The Bravery on two tours, they opened up for Duran Duran on their 2008 Red Carpet Massacre Tour of North America throughout April and May and then again during the second leg of the tour in December. *Ladyaslan was at this show in Orlando at the New UCF Arena and it was a GREAT show and Your Vegas had the auidence on their feet dancing, they had put out an incredible vibe to start the evening for us; and that is when me and my fellow Duranies knew we had found a kick ass new band to add to our music repitore~
Your Vegas took time out of their busy schedule to sit with Ladyaslan and discuss the campaign: Duran Duran to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their new album, which is getting ready to drop in the Fall of 2010; here’s the interview~
LadyaslanDDTTRH: What was it like to tour with Duran Duran on the RCM tour in 2008? What is your fondest memory?
Your Vegas: It was an amazing experience touring twice with Duran Duran in 2008. As a band just starting out in the industry, being around them and able to watch them every night gave us invaluable insight into just what it takes to be a band still selling out huge venues, still influential and still relevant after over 30 years...and most importantly still having fun and still enjoying it. They're also amazing guys and made it very easy for us.
I think my fondest memory is the last show of the first tour when we played at Central Park in New York. It was a special setting, an amazing show and to walk off stage to a round of applause from a band that had inspired me throughout most of my life was very special.
LadyaslanDDTTRH: You have a Wikipedia article, but as it is easy to edit I was wondering if there is anything about you and your band mates (fact or fiction) that you would like to see added to your bio?
Your Vegas: Hmmm? Let me think. I once witnessed Mal Taylor tackle World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf in a charity football match we played in for Hollywood United over in LA. I never ever in my life thought I would witness such an insult to the 'beautiful game' ha-ha!
LadyaslanDDTTRH: What is your favorite Duran Duran video and song?
Your Vegas: My favourite video is probably Rio. It's simply one of the best videos of all time. The song, Rio, is classic and instantly recognizable. It’s full of life, colour, and limitless energy and fun. The video is totally random and suits the song perfectly. I think my favorite Duran Duran song is Girls on Film. Actually, it depends on my mood...Girls on Film or Come Undone.
LadyaslanDDTTRH: Had Duran Duran inspired any of the band members and if so what area of your music did they inspire?
Your Vegas: Yeh! They are a big influence on our music and our sense of being a band. They wrote the blueprint for being a fashion conscious band with an edge that rocks hard but that has a pop sensibility at its core. I'd say we fit somewhere in that world.
LadyaslanDDTTRH: What are you plans for the future…anything you would like to share?
Your Vegas: Thank you for taking the time to include us in this. We're working hard here in New York on finishing our second record that will be out in the fall this year so look out for plenty more tour dates coming up at the end of summer, new singles, videos, and live streams…the works!!
To follow Your Vegas:
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Posted by ddrockhall at 6:41 AM