Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Night with Neil Sedaka

Neil Sedaka is a songwriting legend who's been in the game for 52 years. He's written somewhere between 800 to 900 songs since he was 13 years old and is still going strong. After seeing him in concert last weekend, I know I've found my songwriting hero.

He jumped and danced around the stage like a teenager, played 2 incredible new songs he recently wrote, and even brought his young grandchildren on stage to help him sing his hit Calendar Girl! You could tell he loves to perform and I paid close attention to how he engaged the crowd. The thing I love most though is his songs are simple and have happy melodies. I feel inspired to try my hand at a 50's style tune!

Neil has written songs for people including Connie Francis, Cher, Elton John, Captian & Tennille, ABBA, the Carpenters, Petula Clark, The Four Seasons, Neil Diamond, and many more. He was at the forefront of building the rock and roll sound (even though today his songs would be considered more pop rock).

When the Beatles hit the scene in 1964 and music was forever changed, Neil was one of the few male solo artists who didn't fade away. During that time, he wrote hits for Frank Sinatra (The Hungry Years), Elvis (Solitaire), Tom Jones (Puppet Man), The Monkees (When Love Comes Knockin At Your Door), and The 5th Dimension (Workin On A Groovy Thing).

In addition to all of this, the first music video ever produced was for Calendar Girl.
(Check out those outfits and dance moves!)
Let me know what you think!

Jessica Marciel (my vocal coach), Neil Sedaka, Me,
& Eric Bikales (talented piano player, writer, and friend)
A big thanks to Eric for showing us a great time. I can't wait to come back to Nashville!
Jessica, I'm so blessed to have been able to share such a lovely evening with you!

Here are more of Neil's songs to enjoy!

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Music Blog's Writing Team

Introducing The Music Blog's co-authors in crime.

Dayna Kovacic
2 years ago, in the midst of what she likes to call her little “quarter-life crisis”, Dayna discovered a path to singing and writing music she never thought was possible. It had been a childhood dream long forgotten. As her faith and musical ability grew in the months that followed, Dayna acquired a new found confidence. She fell in love with the song creating process and her 1st time in the studio was life changing. She has written and recorded songs with Grammy nominated songwriter and producer Christopher “Brody” Brown (Grenade – Bruno Mars & Forget You – Cee Lo Green) and continues her vocal training and guitar instruction under industry veteran’s Jessica Marciel and Vince Lauria. Her passion and hunger to learn about the music business drives her, and she is currently a registered ASCAP writer and publisher. To listen to Dayna’s music and read more on her story, check her out at http://www.daynakovacic.com/ 

Favorite band of all time - Huey Lewis and The News
Songwriting hero - Neil Sedaka
Most inspiring industry influencer - Alexandra Patsavas

Matt Castleman

Matt Castleman received his B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Northern Kentucky University and was awarded the 2010 Acclaim Award for Rising Star. Matt has been a professional actor since the age of nine and is a proud member of AFTRA.  His amazing wife, Catie, is a soldier in the U.S. Army. During her deployment to Iraq, Matt moved to Los Angeles and was offered representation by one of Hollywood’s top managers and agencies. Recently, Matt was accepted into the prestigious “Groundlings” improvisation school (alumni include Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Phil Hartman), as well as Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop. He has appeared in several commercials including Hyundai, NuvaRing, 2012 Summer Olympics, and Pepsi. He was cast in a Disney pilot, as well as an episode of CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful. Last year, Matt was offered the supporting lead role in the feature film “40 Miles”, which will air on HBO and in select theatres across the country!

In addition to film, Matt also has a strong passion for theatre, magic, and gymnastics. He was seen on stage at NKU as Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie (Cincinnati Entertainment Award Winner), Harold Bride in Titanic, Ben Holtz in the 2009 YES Festival World Premiere of Nightjars, Munkustrap in Cats, George Milton in Of Mice and Men, and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. Matt has many professional theatre credits including LeFou in Beauty and the Beast with Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Cloretta Powers in Church Girls, Umatilla USA, Riff in West Side Story with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Jim in I Love a Piano, Simon Zealotes in Jesus Christ Superstar, Jinx in Forever Plaid, and Anselmo in Man of La Mancha (at NKU and the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu, Romania) with the Commonwealth Theatre Company. During his time at NKU, Matt was also an acting teacher at Uptown Arts in Cincinnati, along with being an alumnus of NKU’s “This Side Up” Comedy Improvisation and Musical Theatre Tour Troupes. He can be found on the original cast recordings of Church Girls, Umatilla USA, Lovers and Burgertown. Matt has been a gymnast for 15 years and trained with the Academy of Artistic Gymnastics, Vandergriff, and Dynamo. Please visit www.mattcastleman.com for more information!

Suree Kang

Music surrounded Suree as a child, whether it was tinkering on the electric YAMAHA or listening to her uncle singing in broken English "love me tender" on his acoustic guitar. Like many Asians, her mother put her in piano lessons to try to make her more "well rounded". She admits this has all contributed to the passion she has for music. Originally from the suburbs of Michigan, she grew up listening to the local alternative radio station 89x as she and her brother would get ready for school in the mornings. This was what sparked her love for the alternative scene. Although her taste in music has expanded, she's still into the alternative, rock, and indie. Music to her is a stress reliever. It relaxes her, makes her happy, and motivates her...she calls it her only drug. She currently lives in Las Vegas and loves catching a live show or taking a random trip to a festival whenever she can.  

First CD- VS.-Pearl Jam
Currently Listening To- Metric, XX, Arcade Fire & Turin Brakes
Favorite Song at the Moment- Home-Edwarde Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

Jarod Morgan
Aka DJ Jayrod

Jayrod has been involved in the electronic dance scene in Las Vegas since 1999.  His greatest influence was DJ Ira who led the ranks in Las Vegas for some time with his scratch abilities and speed garage floor anthems.  When DJ Ira retired, Jarod was left with no other option but to hear speed garage music by ordering vinyl (yes vinyl not mp.3’s) from England, speed garage’s home.  The market demand for this genre of music was crazy with some rare vinyl records going for as much as $200 on ebay!  Within a couple years of mixing speed garage and drum n bass and learning scratch techniques from Las Vegas great, Presto One, Jayrod began showcasing his skills through Awol Production and Flizm Flozm events.  These were the promoters holding down the underground electronic dance scene in Las Vegas in the early 2000’s.  Jayrod quickly made a name for himself as a DJ who had the rarest speed garage vinyl and crafty scratch cutz showcased at all his performances.  In the mid 2000’s, he and a few others joined to create The Soundbwoy Engineers,  a group of aspiring DJ’s, artists, and promoters, and began hosting events that showcased the latest and greatest in the underground DJ community nationally.  This was in addition to breakdancer’s forming alliances with the Knucklehead Zoo, hosting bboy competitions at their events.  Members of the Knucklehead Zoo have progressed and had success with America’s Best dance Crew winners “Super Crew” as well as the infamous  “Jaberwookies”. 

Jayrod’s success has brought him to England, San Francisco, Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Hawaii to showcase his skills.  In 2005, he joined with DJ Kor and released 2 hit vinyl records in England, “Original Allstar” and “Shagadelik”.  Once dubstep hit the underground scene in 2007, Jayrod quickly adapted to the sound and started mixing dubstep tracks in his sets.  Jayrod currently residents at Smash Monthly, a dubstep/Bass music event that showcases international talent once a month. He's also a resident for all upcoming Awol Productions events.  He plays dubstep and electro house. Jayrod attends the massive music events put on by Insomniac (Electric Daisy Carnival, Nocturnal Wonderland, Together as One to name a few) and goes as far as traveling to Miami once a year for the Ultra Music Festival during the Winter Music Conference. Jayrod looks forward to some great reviews, excellent mixes, and pictures from the best events Vegas and the world has to offer. Bass music for life!

Andrea and Dan Shelton

Andrea and Dan are arguably two of the most hard core music lovers out there. When your wedding invitation is a concert ticket with a set list included, you walk down the aisle to Pink Floyd, and dance your first dance to Muse, you know there's music pumping through your veins. When they met, it was perfect musical fusion. These two travel the globe and attend some of the biggest festivals out there. Andrea's one of those people who knows the next cool sound and band before anyone else. One of her first jobs out of college was traveling around with the Warped Tour. Dan was raised in a musical family. His roots stem from performing in church as a young boy and evolved to starting a rock band in high school. Since then, he's played guitar for several bands. He's been fortunate to travel the world for his current job working in IT and still writes and records. For more info, check out Dan's first blog post - Who, What, Where, When, How

Welcome to the Team!

Who, What, Where, Why, How

Welcome to Dan’s corner of A Music Driven Life. What better way to start than to give you the run down on how I ended up on the site.

Who – Dan Shelton (a.k.a - polar bear, rod, guitar dan, danny warbux, and the list goes on) I had the pleasure of meeting Dayna through my wife Andrea a few years ago. I have played guitar in several bands – the most “successful” being a stint in quickening (www.myspace.com/quickening) where for a second I thought I may be able to make a career of this music thing (Ask me to send you the music video we did and you can see how it all went downhill) I have been lucky enough to travel the world extensively as part of my job (in IT) and be exposed to all different kinds of music and cultures. My love for music still has me traveling all over the world and seeing hundreds of bands a year.

What – Dayna and I share the same passion for music. Not only from enjoying other’s music, but also from writing and recording our own. I started at a young age performing in church and attending concerts from Christian artists. Once I reached high school I started going to rock shows in the Cleveland, OH area and started my own band with some guys from school.

Where – My wife Andrea and I live in Waterford, MI. It is also known as the North Pole – the northern most suburb from Detroit before you are in the sticks. I have friends all over the world that I met through traveling with my job that we go and visit occasionally. Nine times out of ten there is some sort of concert or music related activity associated with the visit. I tend to gravitate to people who have the same passions.

Why – As previously mentioned, Dayna and I have a real passion for music and we want to share this passion with others whether it be through recommending live shows or sharing new music with friends.

How – A Music Driven Life – Dayna approached me about contributing to her site a few months ago. What a great idea!!! I will update everyone on new music and shows that are a must.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

NOISETRADE - Free New Music Legally

Discover new bands trying to get heard and download free quality music at Noisetrade.com. Sure, you have to enter your e-mail in order to get the free downloads, but sometimes it's worth it for a complete album. In addition, you can listen to the tracks before committing. If you end up liking what you hear, why not receive updates from your new favorite bands? This site gives you reach to bands all over the world, from the UK to Australia.

Check out Scoundrels, a blues rock back from London, who's Louisiana swamp sounds are intoxicating. I really like the 2nd and 4th songs on their playlist.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meet Eklips, the French Beatboxer

Meet Eklips, the french beatboxer. I had the opportunity to see him at the Bacardi "Like it Live" event at Marquee Nightclub at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Talk about an artistic way to use your vocals! Eklips has a way of capturing your attention while leaving you thirsty for more. He definitely got the party started as a storm of people rushed the stage. Check out this video....

Monday, July 18, 2011

Festival Fun

Did you go to SXSW, Bonnaroo, or Coachella?

Nope, I was at Rock Im Park in Nuernberg, Germany. No Sprechen Sie Deustch?, not a problem at all. This years headliners included System of a Down, Cold Play, and Kings of Leon. I love the mix of artists you get at this festival. They always have a little old school, big names, super hardcore, punk, and electronic acts mixed in the line up. In my opinion, if you really want to get the full festival effect, you get off the "Main Stage" and check out the acts playing the Clubstage and Alternastage.

Want to check out more?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Music Supervision, Twilight, and a healthy Chop Shop Records obsession

More and more, today's music fans are turning to television shows and films as their best source for discovering new songs, artists, and bands. Because songs increase the appeal - and ratings- of a TV show or film, producers are adding more to their projects. (Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV - Robin Frederick)

Did you ever wonder how music ends up in our favorite TV shows and movies? Or even more, if there was actually a profession specializing in soundtrack creation where some blessed music lover gets to discover new talent AND still give us our classic song fix when required? This my friends, is the job of a music supervisor. Producers will seek out capable music supervisors who turn music into unique emotional connections watchers will identify scenes, personalities, or products with and remember.

In Robin Frederick's latest book mentioned above, she describes how the trend of songs replacing instrumental pieces or underscores is currently growing. In a single year, she calculates the TV and movie industry can use 17,000 songs or more!

In a world where more music is demanded, the music supervisor is a giant in the industry. Alexandra Patsavas, owner of Chop Shop Records and Music Supervision, was called one of the most powerful gatekeepers in the music industry on CNBC. -"One play on prime time and her music pick will jump to the top of the charts, downloaded by millions, taking a once obscure band and making it an overnight sensation."

So why am I so interested in Alex Patsavas and her company Chop Shop Records? First, her team has one of of the best music blogs out there. http://blog.chopshoprecords.com/
Second, they supervise the music for the Twilight movies.

After reading the Twilight Saga in Oct '09, I realized 4 to 5 of the songs I had just written and recorded with Brody Brown (songwriter/producer: Grenade-Bruno Mars and F*ck You!-Cee Lo Green) matched some of the themes in the 4th book, Breaking Dawn. Brody's manager at the time started working from his end to find out who we needed to submit to. I, however, took a different approach.

After coincidentally finding out I had a way into a private soundtrack party Alex was throwing at her house in Pasadena before New Moon (2nd installment of series) came out in theaters, I made it my mission to attend in stealth mode. Once my mission was completed however, I realized I had not planned out what I would do if I actually made it in... Long story short, I never properly introduced myself because I didn't want to get the person in trouble who had put me on the list. In addition, my cover was blown when my co-writer LeMel started asking Alex who she was as we were leaving. I was mortified! The guest list had been small in the first place, so she probably had already been asking herself who these two people were walking around her beautiful moonlit patio, eating her food, acting like they belonged there. (She did have the best ice cream sandwiches and gourmet hot dog stand there though...) If I ever have the privilege to meet her again, I am seriously apologizing.
The point is, I feel pulled towards this project. I know my sound is a little bit more pop than the usual Twilight sound, but something about how Brody uses a guitar in the songs makes me think it could work. Over the last year and a half, I've been able to copyright and ASCAP register everything. Seeing as I only found out I could sing and write two years ago, I think I'm ahead of the learning curve. Part 1 of Breaking Dawn is set to be in theaters Nov 18th. Here's a quick sneak peek.

Below are my songs with their respective themes to the movie. Let me know what you think. 

Feel It by Dayna

Home by Dayna
Bella's theme

Energy by Dayna
Bella and Edwards first time.

Livin A Lie by Dayna
Bella's internal struggle.

Ready 4 Love by Dayna
Jacob's theme.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jack & Jackie's Playlist

Everyday, 17 year old Jackie would come home from school and change out of her Catholic school uniform and put on her Michigan Bell uniform. She would always stop in a little coffee shop near her bus stop for a hot chocolate before going to work. One day, a man approached her in the coffee shop (a young man) and tapped her on the shoulder from behind. When she turned around, she saw he was wearing a tattered hat and tattered clothes. She recalls his sleeves looking like they had carrot juice all over them. He looked into her eyes and said, "I'm gonna marry you...I've been watching you." Naturally, Jackie's reaction was to quickly to leave and catch her bus.

The next day, as Jackie was waiting at the bus stop, the man pulled up in a big shiny red car with the top down. It had a continental wheel on the back. This time he looked a little better. It seems he had cleaned up before presenting himself to her again. 20 year old Jack asked Jackie if he could drive her to work. And folk's, that's how it all started.

Jack and Jackie both had a passion for music. They loved to dance, and my grandma seems to always have music playing in the house. I remember her playing records on an actual record player when I was younger. This play list consists of all my grandma and grandpa's favorite artists.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Rise of Dubstep: Interview w/Jarod Morgan

Las Vegas DJ Jarod Morgan was born in Southfield, Michigan. He spent the first half of his life in New York. Then at 14, his family moved west to Sin City.

Dubbed the Speed Garage DJ in the early 2000’s, Jarod’s love for bass eventually led him to become a Dubstep connoisseur. He gives credit to Chad Craig of AWOL Productions for giving him his first real break, exposing his skills as a DJ to the masses. AWOL’s event attendance averages anywhere from 2-3000 people per event. http://www.awayoflifeproductions.com/

Currently, Jarod’s two main residencies in Las Vegas include AWOL Production events and SMASH. SMASH is a Vegas Dubstep event that features at least one big A-list DJ every 4th Friday of the month hosted at the Aruba Lounge on Las Vegas Blvd between Sahara and Charleston.  

Jarod Morgan Interview
Jarod plays one of his new favorite tracks for us!

Skrillex- One of the DJ's catapulting Dubstep to the next level.
(Signed to Dead Mau5's label Mau5trap)
Surrender Nightclub's 1 Year Anniversary
June 1st 2011
At 24 secs you get a taste of the track he was currently working on "True Gangster".
It's well worth the wait ;-)

Me, Iva, and Jarod at Surrender

Here are more samples of Dubstep tracks. (I like vocals ;-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

ASCAP EXPO April 2011

At the end of April, ASCAP had it's annual "I Create Music Expo" in LA, showing once again they do so much more than just collect and distribute royalties for the music industry.

In a nutshell, the EXPO provides opportunities for anyone who creates music to attend workshops and seminars where some of the biggest leaders in the industry give tools and encouragement on how to make it. You can also sit in on jam sessions and hear some of the best songwriters sing/play the popular songs they've written. Steve Kipner singing his song "Genie in a Bottle" (sung by Christina Aguilera) with his son Friday night was hilarious. The last jam session on Saturday with Ingrid Michaelson, John Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls), and Chris Stapleton was amazing as well.

When I attended last year, I was a little overwhelmed being so new to everything. This year, I came prepared.

I signed up for a one on one session offered, and was able to sit down with one of these music professionals to ask anything and have my music heard. Mike Viola was my guy. (Songwriter, Producer - Amanda Leigh, "That Thing You Do" Film: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Get Him to the Greek)
It was cool because I'm really interested in music supervision. That is, how to get my songs heard by a music supervision company such as the Chop Shop, and placed in a movie, such as the next installment of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. Since he has written so many songs for film, that was my number one question. How does an independent singer songwriter get their songs to someone in a music supervision company and actually be heard without management? Even though he gave me his honest answer and told me that usually doesn't happen without knowing someone, I'm not discouraged. I've got a couple different angles I'm working on to accomplish my Twilight goal. (The story of how that specific goal was conceived is a whole other blog in itself) He did listen to a few of my songs though, and said he thought they were good and told me to keep writing.

There was also a round table lunch experience where every 15 minutes a new industry pro would come and talk to a different group of 8 people and answer questions. Not only did I get to interact with amazing people in the industry, but meeting the other people at my table was just as rewarding. If nothing else, the Expo is one of the best networking events I've ever been to.
Below are the pros my table had the privilege of speaking with (just to give an example of the quality of talent the Expo exposes you to):

Jennifer Blakeman -  SVP, Creative - Universal Music Publishing Group; Songwriter, Musician
Jon Lind - SVP, A&R – Hollywood Records & Songwriter – “Boogie Wonderland,” “Crazy for You,” “Save the Best for Last”  Currently Jon is the head of A&R at Hollywood Records where he oversees projects for platinum artists and pop superstars Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and more.
Emily White - Co-Founder, Artist Manager - Whitesmith Entertainment
Evan Taubenfeld - Songwriter, Producer - "Don't Tell Me," "Hot," "Innocence" Co-wrote many hit songs with Avril Lavigne and is the Chief Executive Officer of Big Evil Corp.

In addition to all the different sessions you can attend during the Expo, there are tons of music resource and equipment companies that have booths set up to check out the latest technology in music creation.

I was honored to meet Robin Frederick, who was there promoting her new book Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV. (I stumbled upon her booth upstairs after finishing my one on one session with Mike Viola. Coincidence? I think not.) Not only is she also the author of Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting:126 Proven techniques for Writing Songs That Sell, she is the head of A&R/Screener Team at TAXI, former Director of A&R and Production for a division of Rhino Records, has served on the board of the Recording Academy (the GRAMMY organization), and is past president of Los Angeles Woman in Music! She was super nice and we chatted for a few minutes about music supervision. She asked for some of my music, and I was excited to give her a CD I just happened to have on me. Of course, I had to get her book. I've been highlighting, tabbing, writing notes in it, and doing the suggested exercises ever since.  

Some of my favorite ASCAP sessions were the Pop/Rock Song Feedback, The ASCAP Advantage: How ASCAP Can Help Your Career, Beyond Marketing: Social Networking and Your Career, Murphy's Laws of Songwriting Meets FutureHit.DNA, and The Business of Being a Songwriter.

I reconnected with friends from last year and met so many new ones this year. One of my other musical goals is to collaborate with the people I've met and do a video blog on the journey, highlighting my friends and how we met at the Expo. I would love to stretch my writing ability into different genre's, working with all different types of people. However the person wants to work together, I hope to learn something new with each experience.

I have one piece of advice for anyone wanting to attend future ASCAP Expo's. Even though sometimes it might be intimidating to approach the pros after the sessions or in the halls, if you don't take a chance, you'll never know what could happen. Bring both CD's AND business cards. Some people WILL take your music. Others can not carry around 100 CD's with them all day, but will hopefully listen if you give them your info on a business card with a link to your music.

One thing my friend Millie said to me during the Expo that I'm passing onto to you is this- you have to have some kind of hook or interesting thing you can say to make yourself stand out when talking to the pros because they are being approached by so many hopeful music creators, it's hard to keep everyone straight. So have your 30 second to 2 minute elevator speeches ready and I hope to see you there next year!

It was cool to reconnect with songwriter Millie Hansen who I had met at the Expo the year before.

 Cameron's voice is AMAZING! And he's a pretty good songwriter too. The panel at the Pop/Rock feedback session dissected his song Made For You. Check out his band The Reel.
Their song Time of Your Life is one of my new favorites!
   Robin Federick was one of the nicest industry people I met during the Expo. Her book gives me a revelation every time I open it.

Here's a link to check out more on the 2011 ASCAP Expo.

This song is amazing!