ECLECTIC ARTS

ECLECTIC ARTS

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bleachbear - "Cowboy Movie Star" CD Review!


Bleachbear

"Cowboy Movie Star"

Review

 

Anyone that's been reading Eclectic Arts knows I've been covering a ton of live shows this year.  I actually have a list that will be posted online soon just to show the scope and range of the shows covered thus far.

 

Music reviews are something I don't do nearly as much anymore.  I could do capsule reviews like I used to do but those become tedious and honestly they don't do much for the reader.  So, when I do a music release review, there is something of note with that particular artist.  In other words - pay attention folks!



The second release from Bleachbear, "Cowboy Movie Star", has been in the works for quite some time.  Tigerlily, Bird, and Emiko are making a statement with this album.  Their brand of dream pop music is quite evident on this release but with some changes from their debut, "Lost Parade".  Every artist matures as their careers move forward, some more than others.  If you are a young person (teen band), I would say the changes are even more profound.  These changes are reflected on the changes between the two Bleachbear releases.

 

The band has been growing as musicians and as people.  They've been playing shows all around the Seattle area between the two releases and it shows.  "Cowboy Movie Star" is a more straightforward, focused band effort than their debut.  The overall style is gritty, definitely more mature, but it isn't such a drastic change that you don't recognize the band.  It's a natural growth that makes perfect sense.

 

A very live production on the record, it is reminiscent of a garage rock style - no coincidence considering Kurt Bloch (of The Fastbacks fame) produced the record.  While this style gives the listener a great idea of what the band sounds like live, I do feel some of the tunes could use more production polish to fit the style of music.  I would love to see a remix in the future of tunes from both releases with said production polish.

 


The trio has crafted a better follow up to their debut than most artists.  The sophomore slump is nowhere evident here.  From the opening strains of, "The Love Detectives" and, "Boy", to the last notes of the title track, "Cowboy Movie Star", the album flows from strength to strength.  There are two songs that are a little on the below average scale to these ears but that's because the other tunes are so strong. 

 

The harmonies and instrumentation are strong showing that the band is becoming more and more confident in their abilities.  The song, "26", reflects an interesting mix of styles for the band.  I truly feel this song could be the springboard to a third album reflecting the same style.

 


"Waltzing In The Dark" slows things to mid tempo.  A beautiful title with a nostalgic vibe, this tune flows right into "Flash Mob" which reminds me a little bit of a tune that could of fit on their debut, "Lost Parade".

 

The one two punch of single, "Sunken Submarine" and video single, "Somnium" are next.  I don't care what anyone says, amateur or professional opinion, these two songs should be pushed by management to break the band in the international market.  You read that here first. 

 

The album concludes with the 50's inspired "I Don't Know", "Circus", and the title track.  There are ten songs in all on this sophomore effort.  A fold out digipak presentation to boot! 

 


Bleachbear is producing clean, infectious pop music that could easily take off.  "Cowboy Movie Star" swings from dream pop to carefully constructed introspective tunes that harken back to a bye gone era.

 


I am still of the mindset that with the right push, management, etc, Bleachbear could be playing their music to thousands of fans.  The question is - what is the priority?  Being teenagers with bright futures, this period of being in a band could become nothing but memories in their adult lives.  Or, it could be the start of something grand that builds beyond their wildest expectations.

 

It's quite the dilemma for sure.  What the future holds for the band, only they know.  For the time being, buy a copy of, "Cowboy Movie Star", and ponder the dilemma with me. 

 

Cheers!

Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts Magazine

Photo credit:  Seattle Next Door - Taken on 7/24/16 in Ballard, WA




Official Music Video for:  "Somnium"




Bleachbear performing, "26", LIVE on 7/24/16 in Seattle, WA

  




Video Interview - from 4/23/15

 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Vienna Teng Returns To Seattle - Gig Review July 11, 2016


Vienna Teng

Seattle, WA
6:30pm (early show)

July 11, 2016





I was looking forward to this show more than usual.  Why you ask?  I honestly didn't think I'd get the chance to see Vienna Teng perform live in Seattle again.  The amazing singer-songwriter has been forging her way into a new non-music career for the last few years with only a smattering of music news here and there.  Her last tour that stopped in Seattle was in 2013.  When I saw that she was playing a handful of shows in July, I did a double take and then once I realized this wasn't a joke, I was stoked!

 


I did a short video interview in a darkly lit green room prior to Vienna's early set at the Columbia City Theater (see below).  This interview in some ways brings things full circle for Eclectic Arts.  Vienna was the first phone interview I ever did.  The first artist I interviewed twice prior.  And now this would be a total of three interviews with Vienna.  Eclectic Arts has changed somewhat in those years from 2011 to 2016. 

 


So, this review is more a capsule of the evening - not a blow by blow account.  Between this review and the video interview, I think the bases are covered in Vienna's current world.

 

Performing solo, Vienna pulled requests from a bucket to create her set list as she went along.  I'm sure a set of songs were already rehearsed so some of the requests were coincidental and some truly were tunes she hadn't played in a long time.  Starting off with "Antebellum", the sold out crowd was treated to a wide variety of tunes, new and old, from Vienna's catalog.

 


I watched the show from upstairs in the guest area/mixing board which was unique.  Oddly enough, one of the other guests knew my uncle!  Small world! 

 

The Columbia City Theater is intimate, an old landmark building from Seattle's past, it was a perfect place to hear Vienna's music.  Both the early and late shows were sold out. 




From "Landsailor" to "City Hall" and every other song performed, I couldn't help but feel a little sad that this amazing performer won't be going full time back into music.  Music will always be a part of her path, but how that intersects (or doesn't) with her current endeavors remains to be seen.  In the end, I'm glad I got a chance to see her perform again here in Seattle as I'm sure all the other fans were too.

 

Here's hoping we hear new music and/or more shows somewhere down the road. 

 

Cheers!

Mark

EA

 
Official Website


Video Interview with Vienna Prior To The Show:










Ne Obliviscaris - Devour Me - Gig Review - Seattle, WA July 18, 2016


Ne Obliviscaris

Black Crown Initiate

Starkill

@ The Crocodile


Seattle, WA

July 18, 2016

 



One of the best aspects of doing the magazine is that I get exposed to bands that are new to me.  I first heard Ne Obliviscaris as the opener for Cradle of Filth on their US tour back in February of this year.  They play self-proclaimed extreme melodic metal.  A six piece from Australia, featuring duel vocalists, guitars, bass and drums, they play musician's metal.  On Monday evening at The Crocodile in Seattle, WA, it was clear there was a mix of fans - many who are probably musicians like myself and people that hang out in the Bell Town area of Seattle. 

 

This was the first headlining tour for Ne Obliviscaris.  Joining them on this tour were Black Crown Initiate and Starkill.  A great package of bands that feature musicians that can play their instruments, the evening was set up not to disappoint.

 


Starkill took the stage first to start the evening off right.  A four piece that played a brand of metal that was at times reminiscent of European styled extreme metal, the band played with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm.  There was definitely an older metal flavor to their music which I appreciated.  The band went over well with the crowd with their 30 minute set. 



Next up was Black Crown Initiate.  A five piece of really unique, brutal, metal, they are a hard band to describe.  Strong musicianship mixed with a pummeling style all their own, the pit broke wide open while they played.  They definitely had fans in attendance and the crowd grew when they took the stage.  An intense set of tunes, they got the crowd going.  They could headline their own show next time they come to town for sure.




After a brief change over, Ne Obliviscaris got themselves into position on the Crocodile stage.  The atmosphere in the room changed as the band launched into their brand of metal.  The first thing that struck me about the band (much like the first time I saw them) is that there is no weak link in the band.  They have some incredible musicians in the band!  The mix of clean and growled vocals works very well to my ears.  I'm sure the more mainstream listener would prefer to leave out the growls but to me it brings me back to the European bands from the early to mid 90's that had the contrasting vocal styles. 




I've heard people complain that NeO's songs are too long.  I would argue that many of their tunes are built upon creating a mood, a foundational piece that brings the listener on a rollercoaster journey of discovery.  Those kind of songs need time to build, breathe, and change.  I never felt the band was overplaying on any of their tunes.  "Forget Not" was a particular stand out for me as I've always dug the tune.




My only minor criticism would be for Cygnus (bass) and Benjamin (guitars) - the lefties - to show a bit more emotion when they play.  Their expressionless faces were like they were studying for an exam or something.  I understand they’re playing difficult material but every now and then, smile, frown, stick your tongue out, anything, really.  Again, this is a very minor thing I noticed during the set. 




The band killed it in Seattle!  They are definitely on the rise.  With the continued touring of the US and abroad, their fanbase is only going to grow.  Here's to the future - Seattle will not forget Ne Obliviscaris.


Cheers!

Mark

EA

 
Facebook: Ne Obliviscaris

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Metal Resistance Arrives In Seattle - Babymetal Gig Review! July 12, 2016 Showbox SoDo Seattle, WA







Babymetal
 Showbox SoDo
Seattle, WA
July 12, 2016

The suspension of disbelief is common when one watches films.  To let your imagination run wild while suppressing the logical aspect of your mind that says what you are watching is an impossibility such as when E.T. flies in the sky with Elliott on his bike, this would be a prime example of the suspension of disbelief.

Why do I bring this concept up in a concert review?  When it comes to Japan's biggest musical export in years, Babymetal, some concert goers need to get into that headspace where you are just there for the spectacle of it all, to let loose and just enjoy the experience.

Babymetal have divided the metal community since their inception.  Why you may ask?  A J-pop trio of teenage girls that are an offshoot from their first group (Sakura Gakuin), backed by a four piece live metal band (Kami Band).  Singing in their native Japanese, dancing through tight choreography as headbanging music bleeds from the speakers, they are a dichotomy of musical genres.


Metalheads are a fickle bunch.  Always have been.  They are also one of the most dedicated fanbases in all of music.  I went to my first show in 1979 (KISS).  My second show was in 1982 (AC/DC).  My third show was also in 1982 (Scorpions with special guests Iron Maiden).  I've lost count of how many shows I've been to since.  Metal back then was about going against the grain, against the mainstream culture, and forging your own path.

Pop music was considered the complete antithesis of heavy metal.  Manufactured, at times lip-synched, with no "real" talent to speak of, many a metalhead loathed the acts they saw on MTV back in the day or heard on their local radio station.

Babymetal have taken aspects of well-known metal bands for inspiration.  X Japan, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Behemoth, and Darkthrone just to name a few.

So, the thought of putting these two adversarial genres together would be pure blasphemy, not to mention the addition of teenage girls in cute outfits you might see at Sakura Con, this concept would surely enrage the diehard metal fan.

Not me.


The show on Tuesday brought out such a wide diverse crowd that one would have to be completely ignorant to not acknowledge that this concert was beyond a mere gig at the Showox SoDo.  It was an international event!

If you're purely a metal fan, you're probably one of the skeptics.  A small part of me understands the naysayers when it comes to Babymetal.  I love metal but I like many other genres of music, too.  I went through a long K Pop period (not to be confused with J Pop) as well.  I saw X Japan in 2010 here in Seattle.  At the end of the day, what I like is no better nor worse than what you like, musically.  Music is a personal journey.  What resonates with you is all that matters if you ask me.       

If you're an anime and manga fan, you were probably interested as soon as you first heard of Babymetal in 2010.  While I'm not a huge fan of either, I am familiar with some of the more mainstream aspects of both.  Also, being Japanese American, I do share some common knowledge of my ancestor’s beliefs and culture.

And if you have a fascination with Japanese culture, then you sponge up anything new that comes from the land of the rising sun.


The majority of the fans waiting outside of the Showbox SoDo were hardcore fans.  There were some fence sitters and still others that were tagging along with their friends or significant others that brought them to the show, but overall it might as well of been a Babymetal convention waiting in downtown Seattle.

Being a long time metal and overall music fan, I was coming into the show a fan of the band.  I am certainly not on the level of the diehard fans that traveled from cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Portland, and Tokyo to follow the band down this last string of west coast dates.  You know the ones - they speak (some) Japanese, they have their membership to "The One" fan club, they know every detail and fact about Sumetal, Yuimetal, and Moametal that it'll make your head spin.  The fan that dresses up as a member of the Kami Band or the fan that has to pick from their collection of tour shirts to display the right shirt for the evening so all the other diehard fans notice.  These fans were in Seattle in mass quantities!  And I'll tell you - I loved it! 

There's nothing like going to a sold out concert where the communal aspect is evident, where the entire crowd is just counting down the minutes before their favorite band takes the stage.  Where you talk to the fan next to you only to realize they drove 5 hours to get to the show while the fan next to them just flew into Sea-Tac (Seattle Tacoma) airport last night to be at the show to the VIP folks that paid the extra money to get a laminate, an exclusive merchandise item, and early access to the merch table and floor access nearest the stage. 

The energy in the air as I made my way through the sodo (south of downtown Seattle for you non-local readers) area of Seattle on Tuesday afternoon was undeniable.  I found parking on the street (free parking!) and made my way to the Showbox SoDo.

Since I was on the guest list for this show, I knew the drill to get my ticket.  I have to get it from the box office once will call opens.  Since the doors weren't until 8pm, I had a feeling I would be waiting until 8pm to get my ticket. 

Having arrived around 5:30pm, I managed to find a venue worker who told me exactly what I thought - I would have to get my ticket at will call and meanwhile I would have to wait in the general admission line.

The line at this time for the show was split two ways.  There was a VIP line that was split into two directions facing each other to the main doors of the club in the middle.  Behind the south end of one of those VIP lines is where the general admission line started.  For the general admission line, I was around the 30th person in line I'm guessing.  Not too bad.  Eventually the line snaked down 1st Avenue and around the block and down Holgate.

The VIP line had flags lined up on the railings with some of these fans having been there since the night before (!) I was told.  There are photos on social media depicting the fans that were there first, then the fans that came later on Tuesday morning, and then the general admission line that grew and grew. 

Two and a half hours to wait until the doors open then one hour until show time.  The weather was cool, even by Seattle standards for mid-July, but that made it perfect for waiting outside.

Around two hours later, a venue worker moved all the first general admission line folks behind the VIP line on the north end of the club, divided only to keep space open to the main doors of the club.  There was confusion as to whether we were going into the lounge entrance (21+) or going in after the VIP's went in first.  Eventually we found out we were going into the lounge entrance.  They escorted those under 21 to suitable places in line in the other general admission line further down 1st Avenue.  This all seemed fine as I've gone through the lounge entrance before.  However, about 8 people in front of me they closed the lounge doors completely.  Questions and panic started to set in with our line as people, some of whom traveled from Japan, didn't understand what was going on.  Heck neither did I!

Before anything escalated, a strategy by venue staff was announced.  We would be going in right after the VIP lines and then the second general admission line would go in after us.  A completely fair solution!  I have to hand it to the Showbox SoDo staff - during all this confusion, they were polite as they got many demanding questions, confused questions, and many upset glares if people were going to lose their spots in line.  They handed out 21+ wristbands as soon as you arrived to speed up the process as well.  Kudos folks!

A little after 8pm, the doors opened, the VIPs went in first, I got my guest list ticket from will call (thank the Fox God it was there - thanks Aaron!!!), and in I went.  The VIP's were lined up at the merch tables while I made a line straight for the stage.  I was one person away from the barricade on the right hand side (Moametal's side).  Cool I thought to myself - now I just have to wait an hour until the event begins!


I briefly saw that there were three t-shirts, a hoodie, a hat, a wristband, and I believe vinyl of "Metal Resistance" available at the merch table.  I would take my chances and see what was still left after the show.

As 9pm approached, the club was packed but apparently there was still a line outside.  I had friends that were stuck in that line and they were wondering if the band had started yet since they were still outside.  They hadn't.  I'm guessing this may be why the band started late - to let the fans outside get into the club. 

Where I was waiting people were looking at their phones.  9:15pm came and went.  9:30pm came and went.  Then the lights went out and the roar from the crowd set the tone perfectly.

The "Episode IV" narrative was blasted over the PA as the crowd pushed forward to get as close to the stage as possible.  The Kami Band came out first, gesturing to the crowd, before taking their places on the back part of the stage.


Launching into the opening strains of, "BABYMETAL DEATH", Sumetal, Yuimetal, and Moametal came out from the left side of the stage to take their places during the opening track.  As they went into their trademarked choreography, the enthusiastic crowd mirrored their hand and vocal gestures which are customary at every Babymetal show.

The pit started up behind me, in varying degrees during the course of the show, shoving some people into my back.  Crowd surfing was allowed so the venue staff was busy all night long helping people over the barricade.  They also handed out cold water bottles to fans in the front - a nice touch Showbox Sodo.  It was appreciated!

Being one person away from the stage, it was just amazing watching the girls sing and dance during the first few tunes.  Speaking of which, instead of putting it at the end of the set, the second song of the night was, "Gimme Chocolate!!" - arguably the most known song of the band - by the casual fan, that is.  The signature choreography from the video was replicated with such precision on stage, along with that heavy ass guitar riff; the crowd was just eating it up!


The set contained a mix of songs from their debut album, "Babymetal" and the second album, "Metal Resistance".  "Awadama Fever" and "Catch Me If You Can" were next with the Kami Band playing intros/solos before the tune.  Let me tell you - any metal fan would of enjoyed the Kami Band.  Some of Japan's top metal musicians, the band was tight, heavy, and enjoyable as heck to watch and listen to.  Guitarists Mikio and Takyoshi were shredding with the best of them.  Drummer Hideki pummeled the drums with plenty of double bass.  Six string bassist BOH sported the letters USA on the back of his corpse painted style head by the way.

"Amore" and "Sis. Anger" came next from the new album.  Sumetal sounded strong throughout the night.  Yes, she was singing.  Yuimetal and Moametal were also singing or "screaming" as they're credited.  As a whole there was a backing track at times (for keyboards, growl vocals, background harmonies, and other effects) but this is commonplace these days.  Either the soundman at the board triggers the backing sounds or the drummer does from a laptop or something similar.  The fact that they were singing alone sets the girls apart from the usual guide vocal pop artists.

I'd also add in that with all the singing and dancing, especially in those outfits, under hot lights, the girls were visibly sweaty during their performance.  They rocked out, in their own way, just like you'd see at any metal gig.


"Meta Taro", "Megitsune", and "KARATE" were given the live treatment next.  "KARATE" being the first official video from the new album, the tune sounded great live!  Again, the choreography from the music video was displayed on stage.  You know what I'd love to see?  I'd love to see Babymetal fans doing parts of the choreography en masse at the shows from the videos.  Imagine an entire floor leaning back from the opening parts of "Gimme Chocolate!!" or the air fists from the beginning of "KARATE" - food for thought folks.  I know my uncoordinated self couldn't do a whole song worth of choreography but parts I could - well, maybe.  But I digress.

The main set ended with the one two punch of "Road of Resistance" and "THE ONE (English Version)".  The girls exited the stage along with the Kami Band.  After much cheering and chanting, the Kami Band returned.

Launching into "Ijime, Dame, Zettai", the heavy tune rocked the Showbox SoDo as the encore for the night with Babymetal giving it everything they had.  After their customary "See You!" from the stage, Sumetal, Yuimetal, and Moametal left the stage with the Kami Band shortly thereafter.

The lights came up and many a fan in the front just stood there, exhausted in the best possible way from the show, letting it all sink in.  I was sweaty just like everyone else at the show.  My clothes sticking to me in all the wrong places, par for the course for a great show!


As a magazine reporter, I could of arrived later in the evening, stood in the back or way off to the side of the venue, but that's no way to take in this kind of show.  You need to be IN it if you know what I mean.  Granted I'm a fan as well but I'm an old fan with a questionable back.  My days of being in the pit or squished up in the front at these shows on a regular basis is becoming a thing of the past for sure.  But for certain shows, again, I feel I need to be in amongst the fans, experiencing what they're experiencing in the front as a collective force of energy. 

All in all we got twelve songs in Seattle, WA.  Everyone always wants more songs but I don't think anyone left the venue disappointed.  The hardcore fans were happy.  The fence sitters were no longer on the fence - convinced that they belong as a part of THE ONE as The Fox God dictates the force that is Babymetal throughout the universe!

This show was one for the books, folks.  The band only has a few US shows left before they play some spectacular gigs in Japan to close Episode IV.  What Episode V has in store, only the Fox God knows.  But here's hoping the Fox God brings Babymetal back to the US, and more importantly, back to Seattle, WA!  

Cheers!
Mark D. Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts




All Photo Usage Courtesy Of and Approved by: Babymetal, Amuse Inc, and Justin Borucki





Miscellaneous Notes:



*I've been speculating where would Babymetal play should they return to Seattle?  They need a venue that has a general admission floor which eliminates venues like The Moore (which is the most logical next step up).  I suppose The Paramount would be the next stop as they can make the floor general admission.  More than twice the capacity of the Showbox SoDo, this would be an interesting venue choice.  I'll see them anywhere they play.  Here's hoping they come back, period.



*I said more than once but kudos to the Showbox SoDo staff.  I'm sure they get criticized all the time but in my opinion they were on point Tuesday night.   



*The merchandise was standard concert prices which was nice to see.  They could of charged double and the rabid fans would of paid it.  $30 US for a t-shirt.  $50 for the hoodie.  I did manage to get a shirt after the show so the limit of 2 per design seems to be helping spread the merchandise around.



*Social media follows this band around like nothing I've ever seen.  It was like a freaking journal of posts before, during, and after the show from all over the world.



*Thank you to Aaron for getting me on the guest list.  The man put up with my incessant messages about this show since February.  Again, thank you Aaron!



*Thank you to all the fans I met at the show from around the country and world.  Such a nice, informed group of people.  With all that's been going on in the world, it was so nice to see how a large group of diverse strangers could come together for a common purpose - to enjoy Babymetal!


Friday, July 8, 2016

Eclectic Arts - The Interview July 2016


Eclectic Arts - Into The Fray We Go

July 2016

 

Questions by Miz Deliverance

 

Answers by Mark Sugiyama - Creator/Editor of Eclectic Arts

 


Miz D:  Hi Mark.  Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

MS:  Sure thing.  Thank you for the opportunity!

 

Q: What inspired you to persue creating an online arts magazine?

A:  Well, first, Eclectic Arts started out as nothing.  I mean it wasn't even an idea back in 2010.  I was corresponding with a band from the Czech Republic.  I thought after reading through the emails that other fans might want to read this exchange.  At the time, I wasn't into blogs or things of that nature.  So, the thought was perhaps I could get enough material together to publish a hard copy magazine.  I already had contacts around the world so getting the magazine distributed wasn't an issue.  Usually, it's exactly the opposite.  Someone pours their heart and soul into a magazine but they can't figure out how to get it distributed.  I had the network but I didn't have the magazine (laughs). 

 

In any event, I contacted a few bands, labels, and distros in the underground and lo and behold many of them were into the idea of doing an interview for my then untitled magazine.  It was all based on trust. 

 

The process of putting together a hard copy magazine was daunting.  It's time consuming, skill oriented, and it takes money.  Time I had, skills not so much, and money definitely not.  I did the best I could with the first issue of the magazine.  A little known fact is that the first two issues were supposed to be issue one.  It was too expensive to publish the first magazine at 100 pages so I basically split it into two issues.  They were a work in progress.  I wasn't satisfied with them but it was great to see the fruits of my labors in 2011.  Issue three was another step as EA evolved.  I went color for the first time.  That issue was also on glossy paper.  The costs basically doubled but I wanted to improve EA with each issue. 

 

I ran into an issue with money so the hard copy version went on hiatus.  In the mean time, I had the blog up basically as a means to report what was going on with the print version.  Eventually, it just became too cumbersome to get another print issue together so everything went into the blog.

 

I can honestly say that here, in 2016, I still don't care for the blog.  It may be time to make an actual site for EA.  And I have vowed to put out another print copy of EA as well before I call it quits.

 

Q:  How did you come up with the name Eclectic Arts?

A:  I really wrestled with the name.  I think there's a paper around my place that has the different names I was considering.  None of them really captured what I wanted EA to be.  I've always said I had an eclectic taste in music so that's where the first part came from.  Arts is what I always wanted EA to cover - not just music.  Film, television, writers, painters, basically anything I consider artistic.  Now, some of the interviews have been a stretch in terms of how they relate to being artistic but at this point in my career, I don't really give a shit.  I'm just doing what I want to do. 

 

I'm still not pleased with the name.  My photography name worked as soon as I figured it out.  But EA is passable for now.  I may change it if I get the site together.  We'll see.  It's becoming a known entity online so it may not make any sense to change the name at this point.

 

Q:  How do you procure your music interviews?  What is the first thing you do and what is your process?

A:  If it's a known artist, I will look for a publicist or PR contact.  If it's a local or up and coming artist, I will usually reach out to them directly.  Usually at the same time, I do some searches online to see what I can learn about said artist. 

 

For every yes by an artist, there are several no's or don't even hear from's.  It's a frustrating process when you're starting out.  Much like when you need experience for a job yet you don't have experience yet, procuring interviews takes time.  You have to start with smaller artists to hone your craft.  Then work your way up the ladder. 

 

Q:  Did anyone teach you to conduct interviews?

A:  Nope.  I suppose I've been fortunate that my previous jobs have prepared me for the interviews that I do with EA.  Besides developing interpersonal skills, I am still a fan at heart.  The combination really creates an interesting mix when I conduct my interviews.  I am constantly striving to produce an interview that I, as a fan, would want to read or watch.  I don't want to hear the same old questions asked.  I don't want to look like I haven't done my homework.  I want to honor the artist's time and I want to honor the reader/viewers time as well.

 

Q:  How much research do you do prior to your interviews?

A:  It depends on the subject.  If a certain artist is known to be a difficult interview, I will research every current interview I can get my hands on.  These days most are video interviews but there are print ones, too.  I will look at official sites, social media, and fan sites to get as much information as I can. 

 

If it's an artist that I already am a fan of, I will still do research but will gauge how much based on my current knowledge of the artist.  If I'm lacking, I will of course do more research vs if I feel I'm good to go, then I'll cut back on the research.

 

Also, on top of all this, it depends on how much lead time I have prior to the interview.  Some interviews have happened very quickly and some have been switched the day of so I have had to pivot and readjust my questions.

 

Q:  Who would be your dream interview?

A:  It changes day to day.  I would love to sit down with Sly Stallone.  I think he's a really misunderstood Hollywood icon.  People associate him with his roles as Rocky or John Rambo.  But, those are characters.  He is an actor, writer, director, and producer.  I'm also a fan of his work so he's up there on the list.

 

Musically, Steve Harris from Iron Maiden.  Maiden are one of the earliest influences on me.  KISS precede them but I don't think speaking to Gene or Paul would be that interesting to me as they've veered so far from who they once were, I've stopped caring what they're up to.  Maiden haven't changed. 

 

I would put Annie Lennox at the top of the list, too.  She was a huge influence on me (as was Dave Stewart) in the 80's.  While I was a metal head, the Eurythmics really spun me in a different direction.

 

From a PR standpoint, President Obama would be interesting and intimidating just because of who he is. 

 

From those that we've lost over the years, Gary Moore would be my number one interview quest.  But, that will never happen (sigh).

 

Q:  How many crew members do you use when doing a video interview?

A:  It's usually myself and an assistant.  If I have more involved gear, then possibly three people total.  And, if logistically it doesn't work out, then just myself.

 

Q:  Do you have staff to help with the online magazine?

A:  Right now I am flying solo for the most part - video interviews usually involve myself and an assistant.  Ditto convention coverage.  Various people have helped with the magazine over the years.  From contributing art work, music reviews, columns, convention coverage, and assisting with the video interviews but the bulk of the work is handled by your's truly.  I would love to expand the staff as there is a lot more I could do with other people involved on a consistent basis.

 

Q:  How do you format the magazine?

A:  Poorly (laughs).  I did the layouts for all the hard copy issues.  Mind you, I have no background in such things and it shows.  But, progress was made as each issue was released. 

 

I handle all details of the blog as well. 

 

Q:  If someone wanted to start an online magazine, what advice would you give them?

A:  Question yourself and your motivation.  What I mean by that is do a gut check about what you want from your magazine.  Have a plan of attack.  Your drive better be unrelenting as well.  I'd add you need a thick skin to deal with some of the people in the business - particularly the film side of things. 

 

Once you know what you want your magazine to look like (goals) - then comes the hard part of figuring out how to make it a reality.  Again, start with smaller interviews - email, phone, or in person.  Build up your interviewing skills.  If you're on the shy or introverted side, you'll have to step outside of your comfort zone in order to become a decent interviewer.  There's no way around it.  I've seen some video interviews that were painful to watch.  I felt bad for the interviewer and bad for the artist being interviewed.  Basically, be honest with yourself.  Read/watch your interviews and decide what worked, what didn't, and what would you do differently next time.  Everyone starts somewhere but you should never be satisfied with your work.  That attitude will drive you to work harder, smarter, and you'll start to come into your own with your end product.

 

Q:  Is there a lot of competition between online zines in the music industry?

A:  You know I really don't think so.  There are so many people doing something similar that there really isn't time for competition in the direct sense.  There is no secret to getting interview access.  Finding the right contact person(s) may take some time but once you do, and you deliver, then you'll be in the good graces of the right people.  Then, the next interview you want to do with one of their artists, will be a step easier to secure. 

 

Be politely persistent.  If you ever utter the phrase, "do you know who I am?"  That's when you need a good kick in the ass to come down off your high horse (laughs).

 

At the end of the day, everyone has a job to do.  If you're doing yours, and treating people with respect, you'll be just fine.

 

Q:  What other type of art does your zine feature besides music?

A:  Film, television, craft breweries, artists (traditional and digital), etc.  Like I mentioned earlier, if I feel it's artistic to me, I'll run with it.  EA is as selfish as possible meaning I won't interview someone just to do it.  At the end of the day, I'm the boss, and I want to read or watch interviews with artists that I enjoy on some level. 

 

Q:  Is it possible to make a career out of doing an online magazine?

A:  I honestly don't know.  For me, I never set out to make EA my career.  It was mostly a journey to explore all the artistic things that fascinated me since my younger years.  There are online music sites that have sponsor ads and such that keep their doors open. 

 

I can say that the work I've put into EA has paid off in many ways, not necessarily monetarily, but here I am five years later interviewing and covering some of my favorite artists ever!

 

Q:  Have you ever had an interview that was tough, awkward, or temperamental?

A:  Yes!  The toughest interview thus far was also my first video interview:  Doyle.  He is known to be very straightforward and gives very short answers.  He speaks his mind as well.  If he doesn’t like a question, he'll tell you flat out.  I would say interviewing him for my very first video interview was intimidating and nerve wracking at the same time for sure.

 

He was a great interview in the end.  I over prepared and at the time I managed to get one of the longest interview of the tour.  So, I'm proud of that interview - it has the most views of any of the video interviews I've done so far as well.

 

Q:  Do you have a time frame for when EA will have its own site?

A:  I've been doing some research and I would really like to have EA as a full site before the end of 2016.  I'm mostly likely going to revamp/scale down my photography site Seattle Next Door and focus more of my energy and finances on EA.

 

Q:  What are the difference between creating a blog VS a full website?

A:  A blog should really be a part of a full site in my opinion.  Just like when I first started EA, I wanted to put in the work and do a hard copy version.  A full site requires a lot of work and it also requires the webmaster to constantly update the site to keep viewers coming back.  A blog requires little work or at least mine doesn't (laughs).

 

Once EA becomes a full site, I fully plan to incorporate the blog into the site.

 

Q:  Thank you for allowing me to pick your brain about the ins and outs of online magazine publishing.  We are grateful that you do this and look forward to future issues!

A;  Thank you so much for taking the time to check out Eclectic Arts.  I appreciate it!