Interviews with Music Fans (Part 1 of 3)

Jenney and Johnny at Granada Theater (Dallas)

Interviews with Music Fans

Interviews with Music Fans

I don’t think any of us can imagine our life without music.  For most people it’s a constant part of the day.  Music helps pull us through hard times, makes us realize that other have been through the same things we have, brings back our happiest memories and shows us there is incredible beauty here on this world. You’re here because you either create or listen to music. Without music fans and supporters, none of this would be possible.  If no one went to the Beatles early shows they’d be shipbuilders and plant workers in Liverpool still.  Without true supporters attending shows, buying music, sharing music with their friends then we’d be living in a world with no music and no on wants that.

These are some the strongest music supporters I know from all over the world.  They have, collectively, stayed up to watch live streams of local music shows in Dallas that ended at Midnight while living in Germany (do the Math on that!), showed up at rehearsals, set up house shows and done PR for bands, given up their couches or extra bedrooms to traveling bands, traveled from Vancouver to Austin, TX annually to support musicians they like, ran the merchandise table at shows etc.  Without passionate people like  this, it would not be possible to make a living as an independent musician.  I have so many interviews that I’m breaking this into 2 parts 3 parts! (these are so great but just 3 make for a good post.  It will be nice to spread these out)

Lona (Dallas, TX)

Interviews with music fans

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Lona: I grew up north of Philadelphia and was exposed to many types of music.  The music I initially gravitated toward was Motown, R&B, and Jazz, and of course, Rock ‘n Roll. Most of my high school friends were primarily into Rock ‘n Roll, and my parents didn’t listen to much music in our home on a regular basis. Philly has always had many GREAT musicians and plenty of great places to go listen.

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Lona: No, but when I was growing up, I always wanted to play the piano. I do own a Native American drum and some rattles, but only play them for ceremonial purposes.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Lona: Gosh, that is easier for me to think in weekly terms.  A slow week for me would be one, but it is usually more like 2-5 a week.

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Lona: Live music doesn’t always give me the ‘hit’ I’m seeking, even if the performance is on the highest level, but when it does, for me it can be one of the highest forms of meditation.  It seems to ‘hit’ at that moment when everyone is riding the same wave of energy.  It can literally take me on a natural HIGH that is addicting.  Even if I don’t reach it, I always remember how it feels and continually seek it and want MORE.  Many things can get in the way of my not reaching the ultimate high.  It can be as easy as my inability to tune in and forget the day’s annoyances, or failing to remain in the moment.  It can be that the band members don’t quite reach that place of combined energy and aren’t in sync.  It can simply be the distractions from other people chattering in the room, or the imbalance of sound.  For me it is such an honor and a THRILL to witness the MAGIC that sometimes happens during live musical performances, that is even more special than recorded music because of the ENERGY WAVE that can happen.  Having said that, even when I’m unable to reach my musical “high” it usually makes me feel a lot better than when I walked in the room.  I also listen to recorded music all the time, as well, and cannot imagine my life without it.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Lona: YES, and sometimes even MORE SO.
Our Scattered Words: What do you hear in the instrumental music that draws you in?
Lona: I hear the individual instruments and even the silence between the notes.  Of all the instruments, my ear seems to be most drawn to and resonate most with the piano, but I hear them ALL and appreciate them ALL.  I also appreciate the difference one without the other can make.  Case in point, I was listening to these awesome players one evening.  Nothing seemed to be missing until the bass player showed up late and joined in.  WOW!  I didn’t realize it was even missing until he started playing.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Lona: Not the same, but still can be AMAZING and in my case, needed daily.  Depending on the recording, and listening environment, it can get close to the same as live.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Lona: Of course.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Lona: Yes, and it is always amazing to me just how appreciative and friendly most musicians truly are when all I do is show up to receive the magic of their gifts.  It supports a personal belief that I have that the biggest gift you can give someone is to focus on their highest gifts, for what we focus on expands.  It is amazing how much that helps raise people’s consciousness and costs nothing and takes very little effort.  One of the highest compliments I receive fairly often is, “We always seem to play better when you are in the room.”

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Lona: The same things I try to do … let the cares of the day go, get in the groove of the moment and do what they can to get in on the wave of their fellow musicians.  For them, it seems they need to trust in themselves and their learned abilities and trust and allow the magic to happen.  To take that one step further, if they can focus a little on how great the other players are, it lifts them up, as well.  The same thing holds true when they are thinking they suck, for they will often not disappoint.  People feel it whether words are spoken or not.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Lona: That they can learn to appreciate music they aren’t naturally drawn to, and that exposure is the key.  After enough exposure to all, they will realize which ones they are drawn to and resonate with.  People forget that music can literally transform one’s mood and it is GOOD FOR THEIR SOUL. It can be like a tuning fork for the entire body.  So it is essentially good for the mind, body and spirit.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Lona: To quote Wendell Sneed who would always conclude every weekly DMA “Jazz in the Atrium” performance with “We hope we have helped you find your groove, but If you haven’t … tough!”  LOL … So I say, FIND YOUR GROOVE and GROOVE OFTEN!

Dieter (Bremen, Germany)

Interviews with music fans

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Dieter: Music was always part of my life, when looking back on any periods or events of my history they are always connected to the music I was listening to at that time. After I retired seven years ago occupying with music became a passion, the matter of my day.

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Dieter: I would love to do that and I tried it when I was younger but I don’t have the musical skills, even the mouth organ that was the gift of a friend refused to produce pleasant melodies.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Dieter: At least five or six nowadays, depending on the number of interesting artists playing in my city. In addition, I watch the live webcast from a venue in London, The Bedford, two or three times the week.

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Dieter: A tough question, because music effects me in so many ways, at first it’s the background of everything I do, you won’t catch a moment without music in this house. There is a music genre for every kind of mood, jazz, folk, rock, pop, classic, whatever I feel, there is a rhythm for that emotion, to express or to overcome the feeling.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Dieter: It is mainly the instrumental music that affects me. Rhythm and melody catch my attention, thus, the instruments and as also a voice as an musical instrument influence me at first, the lyrics always come on second place when judging a song. Mostly, it’s a piano chord, a guitar riff, a sax solo or the beauty of a voice that makes me love a song.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Dieter: Listening to recorded music and experiencing a live gig are two very different things to me. The atmosphere of a concert, how the musicians connect to the audience are effecting me a lot. In general, I’m easier impressed by music played live, really live, not recorded live.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Dieter: Certainly, how can I forget singing “Smoke on the Water” on my 18th birthday! The songs of CCR are firmly connected to the hours after high school, Five Hand Reel’s live performance of “Wee Wee German Lairdie” with my time as a bartender, Tina’s “Nutbush City Limits” with my days in the Navy, Werner Lämmerhirt’s “Angie” with the one big love…

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Dieter: The musicians I support live far away from here, we are exchanging friendly words on Facebook but never became closer friends.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Dieter: Hehehe, at least know the name of the city you’re playing in! Well, I don’t know and just have some word for the audience: The key to experience a nice live gig is to pay attention, respect the artist and don’t talk during the performance.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Dieter: Music is a basis for connecting people, I learned to know much more interesting people through sharing musical interests than any other aspect of life… and that without having any musical skills myself.

I close with the words of my favorite author Nick Hornby: “And mostly all I have to say about these songs is that I love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don’t like them as much as I do.”

Carolyn (Philadelphia, PA)
Interviews with music fans

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Carolyn: I think I’ve just grown up being exposed to different music.  I remember whenever I’d ride with my parents there was always different music in the car; Paul Simon, The Beatles, Jimmy Buffett…just many different genres.  If I stayed with my grandparents, I remember my grandma playing the piano or her organ everyday and singing.  Music has just always been around in some form.

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Carolyn: Does the recorder count?  There are several phases I’ve gone through in life where I’ve wanted to learn an instrument, but have never been able to sit down and focus on learning it properly. I almost learned the flute, piano and guitar, but I only really ever learned to play the recorder in like 3rd grade because I had to.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Carolyn: Too many to count! I go to a minimum of 2 a month, so you can do the math!

Our Scattered Words: How does music affect you at an emotional level?
Carolyn: There are some albums that I have that can just be my soundtrack to whenever I’m feeling down.  Some lyrics that just hit you right where you didn’t see coming, stick with you and make you feel that someone else is feeling what you’re feeling and telling you it’s going to be ok.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Carolyn: For the most part, no.  Sometimes I do like to have a good Vivaldi session though.  I think for the most part I just like to hear the whole package.  I can appreciate instrumental music for what it’s worth, but I feel it doesn’t hold my attention as long as something with lyrics.  Lyrics give me something to follow, memorize and think about.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Carolyn: I think they both have their own appealing elements.  I always find it interesting to see how an artist is going to carry over a recorded version of a song into a live performance.  Sometime they decide to strip it down instead or change elements, so you there’s that sense of surprise in a live performance I think in comparison to recorded songs.  Someone can add as many effects and edits to a recorded version to make it stand out and play on repeat, but pulling something off live in an effective way I think is a huge part of a someone’s career to be memorable.  The way I see it..recorded music is what you can have in the presence, but seeing something live is what you’re really going to take with you.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Carolyn: Absolutely!  There are always those songs that seem to come on at the time you need them and that moment just sticks with you.   “Amazing Grace” is always one I associate with my grandfather’s funeral, so that one has a sad memory for me despite being an uplifting song.  “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day was the first song that came on the radio after my last day of summer camp when I was younger, after going to the same place since I was little it was a good way to cap things off and one of those moments I vividly remember.  There are also those songs from movies or TV that stand in your memory too.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Carolyn: After knowing a handful of them for a few years now it’s hard to not become friends.  You all can easily connect on a level because of working with music.  You build trust and friendships and can bounce ideas and advice off each other.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Carolyn: Interaction is key.  Obviously everyone is there to hear your music (unless they’re the rude people who are just there to talk) but there should be that level of “getting to know you” during the performance too.  Getting people involved and feeling like they’re let in on the show I think is something that helps to draw people in more.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Carolyn: I think the first thing that comes to mind is the level of respect at a show.  It takes a lot for someone to get up on a stage and pour their hearts out to a crowd of people.  It always baffles me when people pay to come into a show and then all they do is spend their time talking over the people around them having a conversation with people or texting on their phone while someone is performing.  Just think of how you would feel the other way around…

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Carolyn: It just is!  For some people like me, music is the only thing that gets me through the day.  It’s therapy, something that can get you through hard times, highlight good times, connect people, it’s something universal.

Thank for for supporting music, creating music, reading about music how ever it is that you’re involved! Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Thanks also for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words.

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Caleb Hawley

Caleb Hawley

Caleb Hawley (photo by Don Razniewski)

Caleb Hawley

Minneapolis to Berklee College to Harlem.  That’s the path Caleb Hawley has taken and you hear all of that in Caleb Hawley’s music.  Prince, Dylan, Jazz, Soul. A voice that earned him a spot on American Idol.  I heard about Caleb through mutual friends for a few years and listened some.  This morning was the first time I listened all the way through his full album, ‘Caleb Hawley’. (can’t wait for all of you to have the chance to hear this!!) He sounds natural and genuine in the updated, soul sound material. I’ve heard other contemporary singers record material like this because they love it, but never really find that authentic place that truly connects a singer and band to the truth of that music. They end up sounding like a mediocre lounge band or an album that belongs on an infomercial.  But, that’s not the case with Caleb.  He truly connects, sings and writes this material very genuinely. I really enjoyed listening through this morning

Caleb Hawley
Current City or Home Town: Harlem, NY originally from Minneapolis, MN
Record Label: Independent, baby!
Most recent release: ‘We All Got Problems’ – 2010

Brief Intro/Bio
Independent Harlem based soul singer & songwriter who grew up in the ‘burbs of Minneapolis surrounded by the sounds of Prince & Bob Dylan. Influenced hugely by the two, taking thought provoking lyrics & funky grooves & blends them together as well as possible.

OSW: What is your songwriting/composing process?
Caleb Hawley: Usually I have two stacks. One stack is of musical ideas, the other is of lyrics. I think of them at separate times, because usually musical inspiration comes to me when I’m practicing and lyrical inspiration comes to me when I’m out and about, observing people and contemplating my life. Typically I take from each pile and try to mix and match the vibes and moods that fit each other best. Then I either extend or whittle the lyrics into a place that fits the musical idea best. I hardly ever write them both at the same time.

OSW: What are you most proud of?
Caleb Hawley: My most recent unreleased album. It’s the most “me” recording I’ve ever done and just hope I can find a good home for it in order to release it.

OSW: How does someone go from a degree in Jazz Composition to American Idol?
Caleb Hawley: I chose Jazz Comp while at Berklee because I was super interested in arranging. I’ve used the skills I developed there in my recordings as you will hear. I think my passion for jazz was a little higher at the time I attended school there, but the degree was still a great supplement for the music I’m making nowadays.

OSW: What did you learn from the American Idol experience?
Caleb Hawley: Hmm.. That reality TV isn’t reality? That’s probably the most rewarding knowledge I gained there. As a person who struggled with a need to strive and make it to the “top”, it’s nice to know that the “top” is mostly just a game and a facade played on others not in the biz. On a more positive note, I made a lot of great friends there and also learned how to push myself to really learn a song in less than 24 hours… and attempt dance moves with it : )

OSW: Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Caleb Hawley: Definitely revise them over and over. The idea usually comes quick. I try my best to spill it out on the page as fast as possible and revise later, but that can be tough. When I get excited about a line it’s hard not to revise it in the moment. It’s a balance though, cause I wanna continue the thought at the same time before I forget it, but also make the revisions before I forget those as well.

OSW: What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Caleb Hawley:
“I found myself face down in the ditch
Booze in my hair
Blood on my lips
A picture of you, holding a picture of me
In the pocket of my blue jeans”

 – Ray Lamontagne “Jolene”

 To me this portrays is the best imagery I’ve ever heard. There are three scenes in one, which is pretty amazing to me.

OSW: Is rhyming still important?
Caleb Hawley: Yes and no, for lack of a better answer. Some people say perfect rhyme is the only rhyme. In musical theater that may be true, because you really need to hear the dictation as an audience as it goes by fast. On a record, people can always check the liner notes or lyric websites to find out exactly what you’re saying, so I think being abstract works a little better in that case. As long as it’s not cheesy and too predictable, I’ll always go with the rhyme. It’s the really predictable rhymes that I attempt to stay away from.OSW: What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Caleb Hawley: Make your songs dramatic. And if you’re gonna use an ideas that has been done a million times, like a love song, find your own original twist. Always depends on the style you’re writing in, but don’t be afraid to take some risks.

OSW: If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Caleb Hawley: ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered” album. Not only is it my favorite Stevie record but it’s one of the few he used the funk bro’s on. I’d love to sit in the room with James Jamerson & Stevie Wonder at the same time. That would teach me more than a Berklee degree easily.
(OSW Note- from that album, this is one of my all-time favorite cover songs.  Stevie completely makes it his own and that distorted Clav sound kills me)

OSW: If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Caleb Hawley: Eminem. I’d love to hear how much he actually revises his internal rhyming, or if it just comes that natural to him. I’d also be curious why if he is so graphic just to get a rise, or if it’s genuinely him. Either way, it’s still brilliant in my opinion.

Caleb Hawley on the Web
Website
CD Baby
Twitter
Facebook
YouTube (search)
Soundcloud

Also, this is important people, you can get a FREE Sampler by Caleb Hawley at Noisetrade for a limited time. Please check it out.

No bonus material page this time.  Completely my error.  I let the whole interview slip through without making sure I had 3 videos for his songwriting playlist.  But, I will share a couple videos of Caleb + you got the Stevie video above.

“Little Miss Sunshine” (Official Lyric Video)“Let a Little Love In” (Live in Studio)Important stuff

If you’re enjoying these interviews; please follow the blog and Facebook page. Also, share both of these with your music loving friends.  Let me know on the Facebook page if there is anyone you think I should interview and…..
even more importantly

BUY music by these musicians.

Please don’t just go stream the songs.  If you enjoy the interview and the musician, certainly use streaming to preview their tracks but then buy it if you like it.  They need sales of their music, merchandise and people at their shows to continue making the music you love. Buying directly from them at shows is always the best option, then buying from their website if possible.   This is really important stuff people.Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week.