It seems that 2014, for me anyway, has really been a year for making records, writing songs and collaborating with some super talented local musicians and songwriters here in Los Angeles, the city I proudly call home. It’s been a little frustrating not being able to release anything but I can be an impatient little turd from time to time and nothings ready to come out yet anyway! If I look back over the year that’s past, it’s been one of the most creative and interesting years since I started putting records out. The industry has changed so much from when I first started playing music and dinosaurs roamed the earth. It’s not all bad like people make out. Honestly, when I signed my first deal, everyone you spoke to in the industry would talk about how fucked it was back then (199…something!) and It’s no different now. It does however look bad from the outside. It’s harder for younger musicians, yes, the album is dead, yup, but the whole industry has gone through a crazy digital transformation over the last decade or so and everyone is still trying to figure out how to monetize “the artist”.
The good news is that vinyl sales are stronger than ever, good indie labels are out selling the majors (on some acts that they throw a ton of money at and fail), recording is cost effective and a smart video can go viral instantly creating an audience that hopefully (in theory) a small percentage of those people will actually go and pay money to see that band or artist live. I certainly don’t have the answers on how to make it work nor does anyone else for that matter so the best thing to do is keep writing the best songs you can, making great records and working with a good team of people that share your vision. Punk rockers, indie pop and DIY bands and labels have always had this hard work ethic and complete control over every aspect of their art and it seems like any good band that breaks through these days shares that same belief.
Here in LA there are so many good examples of local labels and companies that nurture new talent and give musicians the chance to have a platform to be heard and actually make physical copies of records, tapes, CD’s and other interesting items to help promote their artists. Burger Records, Manimal Vinyl and Lolipop Records are a few examples of these “companies” that are self-sufficient and work to put on great local live events showcasing their artists and helping them out along the way.
Then, there are also a few local legends and champions of the local scene like Kevin Bronson (Buzzbands LA), Brad Roberts (Feed Your Head), Valida Carrol (KCRW/Desert Nights) and musicians like Joel Jerome (pictured below) who play, produce and support so much of the upcoming talent. Joel Jerome is an L.A. based singer/songwriter/producer who’s former band dios (aka diosmalos), were critically acclaimed psych-pop hailing from the Beach Boys and Redd Kross’ hometown of Hawthorne, California. Joel has become an acclaimed studio producer working with bands ranging from Cherry Glazer to La Sera (ex-Vivian Girls) and has also provided music for Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection (Lifted from Joel’s bio). When I first started working as a booker in LA Joel’s band, Babies on Acid, were one of the first bands I put on at La Cita in DTLA and he is also a regular performer at Harvard & Stone where I book now all these years later.
I’m not really sure where that rant came from but anyways back to business! So, the Sugarplum Fairies record has started and I’m pleased to say the song I wrote with Silvia Ryder, ‘Bonnie Brae’, will be featured on that record and we also recorded a Jackson C Frank cover that I mentioned in a previous blog. There’s no ETA on the album yet but I will keep y’all posted as things progress.
The debut Broken Arrow record has been a long process but I feel like it’ll be worth the wait. Brandi and I have been trying to narrow down the track list to one we’re both really happy with. We wanted the rest of the songs to sit well with the first single ‘Warning Signs’ which is mixed, mastered and ready to go. Our dear friend, bandmate and producer Paul Wilson (Snow Patrol) has been in Scotland so we recorded more backing tracks with Eric McCann and we’re going to crack on with all these songs throughout the holidays.
I should also mention the fact that we had the incredible Brady Leffler (pictured below) from Gold Star come in to play organ on ‘Warning Signs’ and really helped bring the track to life. All his parts were recorded at Sugarplum Fairies HQ also, so big shout out to Brady and Silvia, thank you both so much!
Finally, pre-production started at Bedrock Studios for my own solo EP planned for next year. Eric McCann (Producer) and Joel Patterson (drums) came into the studio with me to work on drums and bass parts for 7 songs. I have a lot of guests coming in to play on this next EP so I’m really excited to be working with all of these musicians I love and respect and I’m eager to see how it will all sound when it’s put together.
There’s a lot of good things to look forward to in 2015 and in the meantime a big thank you to anyone who has followed this blog, bought a record or come to a show this year. Happy Holidays!