ECLECTIC ARTS

ECLECTIC ARTS

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Introducing: Jennifer Kim!



Greetings one and all!

Here's a first for Eclectic Arts.  There is a phenomenon going on where YouTube is being used as a launching pad for many amateur artists to show their talent, gain fans, and perhaps even launch a career.  I happened upon a video of someone covering the Nightwish tune, "Dead Boy's Poem" and I was like whoa - who is this girl?

Some of the cover tunes I like better than others but you can definitely hear (and see) how talented this young artist is.

Those loyal readers of EA know that I support demo bands (remember demo TAPES?), those just starting out, etc.  If I hear potential, then my curiosity gets piqued, and then I'm off to the races.

I'd like to introduce the EA world to Ms. Jennifer Kim.  And right now is when the EA readers say, "who?"  Who indeed - read on.

Jennifer is a talented singer, musician, and songwriter, among other things.  She has been accepted to the Berklee School of Music this Fall (see crowd funding campaign at the end of the interview on how you can help).

This is her first interview conducted during July of 2014.  If I'm any judge of talent, it won't be her last.  ^_^

Cheers!
Mark
Eclectic Arts



EA:  Greetings Jenn!  Let's start at the beginning.  Where were you born?  Raised?  Currently reside?  What were you like as a child growing up?

Jenn: Hi Mark! I was born in Maryland and I’ve pretty much spent my entire life there up to now. Although, the usual response to that statement is, “Where are you really from” -  well, my mom is Thai, and my dad is Korean, so I guess you could say I’m half Thai and half Korean. I was a very mischievous kid, getting into all sorts of innocent trouble. I think that was due to my very curious and adventurous nature, always straying away from my parents when we were out, or venturing farther from our yard than was allowed.

EA:  When did you get involved with music?  What was your first instrument?  Have you taken lessons for voice, piano, etc?

Jenn: It was when I was still pretty young when I started playing piano. My parents had signed me up for private lessons with Debbie Gerrity, who would turn out to be my piano teacher for the next 12 years. It was with her that I gained the majority of my musical knowledge. When I was 11, I started playing the viola at school, and continued to play through middle and high school, although I never took any lessons for it. During high school was when I was the most involved with music. I was in almost every music ensemble I could be in – the symphonic orchestra, marching band, the jazz ensemble – and I played in several different county orchestras and bands as well. As for voice lessons, I took classical singing lessons for about a month last summer, which helped me a little, but I think what makes me improve my singing the most is just constantly singing, recording, and listening to my own voice.

EA:  Who are some of your early music influences (instrument, voice, etc)?

Jenn: While I was taking piano lessons growing up, I played a lot of classical music. My favorite pieces were by Rachmaninov and Beethoven, because I tended to like very powerful, dramatic, and emotional pieces. And although I didn’t play the music myself much, I think I was greatly influenced by video game music. Those songs that you hear while playing games when you’re younger stick with you even when you grow up. And it brings out a very special happiness from you. One of my favorite games, along with the music, when I was younger was PacMan World 2. I have so many good memories playing that game with my younger sister.

EA:  How did all of this You Tube work start for you?

Jenn: I remember seeing a cover video for the first time (it was of a Nightwish song), and I just felt like doing one myself. And there you go – my first video on YouTube. It would be quite a while until I uploaded my next video, another Nightwish cover. And after that, I kind of forgot about my channel for a while. It was in the summer of  2011 that I received a message in my YouTube inbox from another YouTube musician, Joe Atlan (who’s now my boyfriend!), saying that he wanted to help me in improving my channel. At first, I took it as kind of a spam message, so I initially ignored it haha! But some months later, I finally replied, and we started talking on Facebook. Since the beginning, he’s been my greatest support, encouragement, and source of inspiration. Without him, I would’ve never continued to make more videos. It’s because of him that my channel has been continuing to grow through time, so everyone can thank him for that!


EA:  For those old farts like me that are still fumbling our way through YouTube, what specifically did Joe do to help you improve your YouTube Channel?  Help me understand this YouTube phenomenon better.

Jenn: Haha it’s not that complicated once you know what you’re doing. I had no idea about how to market my videos or make my videos better. He gave me advice on things like tagging videos, which is very important when trying to gain your audience. You have to think about what people will search for, and how you’re going to direct the intended audience to your videos. He also gave advice on things like titling videos, what songs to cover that would be more successful, popularity and view wise, and technical things like audio and lighting. He also made me my channel banner, which I’ve kept until this year.

EA:  Some of your videos on YouTube are symphonic or progressive metal artists (Symphony X, Nightwish, etc).  What draws you to those bands?

Jenn: The first of those bands that I fell in love with was Nightwish. Up till then, I had never heard any music like it. I thought the combination of the band’s instruments, orchestral sounds, and Tarja’s operatic vocals was so beautiful and unique. The other bands that I’ve covered on my channel, like Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Blind Guardian, were all introduced to be by Joe, who has the MOST amazing taste in music. But then again, when you really can feel and understand music, it’s not that hard to hear pure beauty and art. I think in the genre of progressive metal is where I hear the most creative and boundary-pushing elements. And that’s what I think is one very important aspect to creating good music, not being inhibited by anything, such as what “genre” of music you are making. Another thing that draws me to those bands is that you can just hear how they are deeply connected to and passionate about their music. The artist is very ingrained into his own art, so his motivations are very important, as they are reflected in the music.

EA:  Has there been any cons to starting the YouTube page, uploading your videos, etc?  (like criticism from family, stalker types, etc?

Jenn:  I can’t really think of any negative things that have come from starting a YouTube channel. Of course, there will always be people who criticize your content, or just down-right insult you for no reason, but I think it’s a good thing to be able to not take those words too seriously, or let them bring you down. Seeing so many of those kinds of comments has made me stronger and more able to just ignore it and move on. I feel more sorry for those people because if that’s what they spend their free time doing, they must really not have anything else better to do. But the rest of the comments and feedback are so important to me. It lets me know I’m doing some things right, as well as where I should improve. The greatest thing about starting my channel of course was that it brought Joe to me, who is helping me be closer to my dreams and the person I want to be.


EA:  What are your dreams and aspirations?

Jenn: I think in the most general words, my dream is to be able to create and share music that reaches people deep within, that makes them relate to what they’re hearing. I want to create music that I feel the most connected to, music that comes from the very depths of my soul. And of course, I want as many people as possible to be able to experience the music I create. I just want to try and be the best musician and composer that I can be and put my heart and soul into creating music.


EA:  You're headed to Berklee to study music (congratulations by the way J  ).  What aspect of music will you be studying?  What do you hope to accomplish at Berklee?

Jenn: Thank you so much! I’m so excited about it. I plan on studying Film Scoring there, and minoring in Video Game Music. At Berklee, I just want to take advantage of all the opportunities that I’ll have and all the amazing musicians I will get to meet and work with. Berklee is, in my opinion, the best music school in the world that truly prepares you for a career in the music industry. And I plan on treating my time there as if it was the real music world because the professors teaching there have experience working in the music industry, and the students going there with me will eventually be working as well, so networking and professionalism will be a priority.

EA:  Do you have any favorite film composers?

Jenn: I think anyone who loves film soundtracks will say John Williams. He is an unbelievable composer, whose music is very diverse and unique. In the realm of video game music, I love Jeremy Soule’s work, particularly for some of the Elder Scrolls games. It just make the games’ atmosphere that much more magical. Of course I also really like Nobuo Uematsu, famous for his work with the Final Fantasy games.

EA:  What do you want to do once you're finished with college at Berklee?  

Jenn: I really want to write music for video games eventually. I think most people have experienced the magic of a video game, and how they can teleport you to another world. They make you experience something special, and they make you feel what a movie can make you feel, except it pushes it even further by adding a level of interactivity. And I think the music in a game is such an important element to that experience. It connects you to and expresses that world in a way that sticks with you long after you’ve stopped playing. Most people might not think of it this way, but video games are ART.

EA:  For those readers that aren't gamers, can you describe how video games are art in your opinion?

Jenn: Well, what makes art? Art comes about from a creative force within the souls of humans brought out through their skills and capabilities. Video games contain elements of what most people would consider “art” – visual media and music. The people who make video games are dedicated to their work. Their sole aim is for the experience of the player. They put so much into the details that will enhance the expression of what they want in that game, through how the setting and landscapes are, how the character looks, how the character interacts, and of course, how the music plays into the game. A truly good video game can have a big impact on you, especially while you are experiencing it yourself. Maybe when people are younger, they can’t appreciate video games for everything they are, but as they get older, I think most realize the profound effect and beauty of them.


EA:  So will you be working on the performance aspect of music (like playing live on stage, etc) or will you solely be focused on composing for video games?  It seems like it would be a shame if we didn't get to hear more of Jenn the performer VS Jenn the video game music composer. 

Jenn: Yeah, I’m definitely interested in developing as a performer, particularly, as a singer. If possible, I want to be able to take classes and lessons in singing at Berklee, just because I know that with the guidance of experienced professors and professionals, I can improve a lot more quickly and efficiently. Singing makes me feel something I don’t feel when I’m playing piano. There is a certain presence about being a singer, after all, that’s why singers are the “front men” of bands. They are the ones that connect the most with the audience and viewers. It’s also a position that could make you feel a bit more vulnerable than playing an instrument. It’s yourself that’s the instrument, and there’s nothing between you and the audience. But I think overcoming that vulnerability can feel quite exhilarating and freeing.

EA:  So, where do you take your YouTube channel from here?  Will you continue uploading videos once you're at Berklee or will the be put on hold?

Jenn: I definitely will continue uploading videos while I’m attending Berklee. If I study voice there, it’ll be another outlet where I can practice what I’m learning and document my progress, which my YouTube channel has been for me thus far. I would never consider stopping uploading videos. I feel almost as if it’s a small part-time job, a one that I love a lot, and feel very committed to. So yeah, you’ll be continuing to see videos from me : )

EA:  Have you and Joe collaborated on a video that's on your YouTube Channel?  What song would you like to collaborate on in the future?

Jenn: We have one song on my channel that we’ve done together (his own arrangement of Scarborough Fair), but on his channel, we’ve done quite a few together, such as covers of music from the Hobbit, Hearthstone (a Blizzard game), as well as his own original music. So far, we’ve mostly done more calm and serene music. I think I’d like to do something on a more epic and grand scale with him. Because I know what he’s capable of, I know it would be indeed very EPIC.

EA:  Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Jenn.  The last words are for you.

Jenn: Thank YOU for your interesting in interviewing me. This is actually the first interview I’ve ever done related to music and my YouTube channel. It’s been a good chance for me to access myself, what I’ve done, and where I’m going. As an artist, I think there’s a lot more for me to improve on and to explore. Well, artists are on a perpetual path of improvement and exploration. Maybe all people in general. But I really feel I’m on the right path now and I’m excited for whatever the future holds for me. Thanks again, Mark!

https://www.youtube.com/user/J3nnPK

Editor's Note:

Jennifer started a funding page to help her with the additional costs of attending a prestigious school like Berklee.  Even after securing a major scholarship, she still needs help for certain gear the college requires, etc.  Check out her page at: 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/jenn-pk-berklee-and-youtube/x/8259610
  
Every donation received (broken down by $ amount) receives something in return (all listed in detail on the page).  She is currently just over $500 on her way to her very reasonable goal of $2000.  Let's help this talented musician get there!

^_^

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Majesty Eternal - Eternal Majesty Interview

Greetings!
On this gray and showery Sunday, it seemed appropriate to publish a black metal artist's interview.  EA Issue #1 featured two black metal bands (among other artists) so it's kind of like going back to my roots to feature a black metal artist.
The horde in question, Etermal Majesty, hail from France.  Read on - as is - from 2012.
Cheers!
Mark
***

From War To Darkness - those in the underground know this release from the mighty Eternal Majesty (France)!  Having put out several demos, splits, and a live release prior - Eternal Majesty's first full length exploded on the scene back in 2003.  The follow up, 2006's "Wounds of Hatred and Slavery" showed a change in label and sound.  The last four years have been quiet on the Eternal Majesty front.  That is about to change!  - Interview by Mark

EA:  Greetings!  Instead of starting at the beginning, let's start with the present.  What is the current state of Eternal Majesty?  Are you still signed to Candlelight?  It seems after your sophomore effort, the band fell off the black metal map.  Please bring us up to date.

T:  Hi Mark!  Thorgon here.

Yes, we are very busy since this period with Candlelight records and we put EM on standby for different reasons.
Sagoth and I with our other bands, Martyr and Navint for other personal stuff.
I think we were also fed up with the Black Metal scene after recording the second album, but now after all this time we are ready to come back this year (2011) with a new record, nothing is signed for the moment so I cant tell you anything about the label.

EA:  After playing the shit out of "From War To Darkness", I found "Wounds of Hatred and Slavery" a bit of a let down.  There are moments where it sounds like Eternal Majesty to me but there are parts that are just uninspired.  When you look back on those two releases, now that some time has passed, what are your thoughts about both of them?

T:  The second album is less brutal and hateful than the first one, we wanted to make something more technical and more ambient than we did before. We also had problems during the recording and even today we are not satisfied with the "Wounds of hatred..." sound.
You can expect another evolution of the band for the next one.  We will see how people will react.  The only thing I can tell you is that we will not make the same mistakes that we did before for this new recording.

EA:  I understand that "From War To Darkness" featured re-recordings of demo material.  Is this correct?  Did that contribute to the change in sound from that release to "Wounds..."?  Did "Wounds..." feature any old material as well or was it all new compositions?

T:  Yes, that's right. All songs of "From War To Darkness" are old demo songs that we wanted to re-record in real studio conditions. We used to record by ourselves, and this is the first professional stuff out from the band. "Wounds of Hatred..." is composed of new tracks and 2 old tracks that we recorded one year before for the "Night Shadows" MCD.
For sure, composing new songs is the reason of Eternal Majesty's musical evolution.

EA:  In between your two full-length releases, you released a MCD "Night Shadows".  Was there any particular reason for releasing the MCD?  Was it to keep the Eternal Majesty name out there in the scene?  It seems the band could of waited and used some of that material on the "Wounds .." release.

T:  As I said before, we re-recorded two tracks from this MCD, "Don't Follow Me" and "Night Evilness".  This MCD was a manner to symbolize the desire of making and producing our music far from any trendy influences of the emerging black metal scene.

EA:  How did the band start in the early days?  Is it true that the band members are related (brothers or cousins)?  Has the lineup ever changed?  What were some of Eternal Majesty's early influences?

T:  Yes, it's true.  We are 4 blood brothers, and we started playing music together in the middle of the 90's.  The band's name and style changed 2 or 3 times to finally become Eternal Majesty.  The lineup never changed and will never change until we split.  Our early influences?  Dark throne, Emperor, Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Satyricon, Kult ov Azazel, Bathory, Mayhem, old Tiamat, and Moonspell.

EA:  Do you have any formal musical training?  How about the other members in the band?

T:  No formal musical training… we learned music by ourselves.

EA:  It's rather rare to see a band put out a live album prior to any full-length releases?  How did this come about?  Any plans to re-release the demos, split material, or the live album on CD?  I think there would be a demand for that in the underground.

T:  In those times, recording a live tape was just like recording a demo tape.  It was so difficult to record something in a studio that every material was good to spread your name and spread the Black Metal spirit.  This is how true underground music works…hardcore scene used to make the same.  For the moment no re-releases planned, a limited edition should stay limited, right?
If you really want old materials, most of our work is legally or illegally downloadable on the net, you can also check secondhand sites.

EA:  Back in the day, how important was playing live for the band?  The few videos I've seen you guys sounded monstrous live!

T:  Playing live was a real intense moment for us.  In those days, there were not so much shows than today, a Black Metal show was a real event!
Our last show was in 2003, and then we decided to stop.  Maybe the same desire of moving away from the scene for a while?
EA:  What is your personal ideology and that of Eternal Majesty?  Same?  Different?  Satanic?  National Socialist?

T:  Ideologies of the band are the same...anti religious. We never did Eternal Majesty for any political reasons.

EA:  With all of the mystique surrounding the French black metal scene in the earlier days (Les Legions Noires, etc), how does it compare to the scene now in 2010?

T:  I can’t tell you my feeling about the actual French scene because I don’t deal with it anymore.  The last person implicated in the scene I talked to was MKM (Aosoth/Antaeus) … not a really new-school guy!!

EA:  Are there bands that you feel warrant support - French or otherwise?

T:  We support the old ones we shared the stage and splits with: Antaeus, Aosoth, Temple of Baal, Merrimack, Krieg, Judas Iscariot…and other bands like Horna, Impiety, Kult ov Azazel, Mutiilation, Fornication, Thornspawn, Carpathian Forest…

EA:  Thank you for taking the time to do the interview.  Any last words?

T:  Hope you’ll be satisfied by my words and sorry again for not getting back to you sooner!
Thank you for the interview!
http:://www.muyspace.com/eternatlmajesty666

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Soldier Under Command - Michael Sweet Interview - Stryper

Greetings everyone!

I've been getting some great feedback on these "vault" interviews.  I was out of town last week so this interview will serve as the interview for last week and there will be another one released for this week!

One of the most underrated guitar duos in rock/metal, Michael Sweet and Oz Fox of Stryper, are currently touring in support of, "No More Hell To Pay", their new album full of original material.

This interview with Michael was conducted in March of 2012.  Again, everything was left as is (dates, etc).

Cheers!
Mark
EA


EA:  Greetings Mr. Michael Sweet!  Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.  I've been into Stryper since the 80's - having seen you on the Soldiers Tour (at the Paramount here in Seattle, WA w/Bloodgood opening) and the To Hell Tour (also at the Paramount where you filmed the "Free" video, with Hurricane opening). 

MS:  Thank you Mark.  That’s cool you were at the Free video shoot!

EA:  Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me for EA.  I really appreciate it.  Where are you based out of these days?  Still on the east coast or are you back in California

MS:   I’m living on the East Coast, Cape Cod to be exact.  The winters are a bit rough, but I love it out here.

EA:  There's so much to talk about.  Let's start with your new solo CD.  What can you tell me about it?

MS:  I’m really proud of this record.  I’m proud of all the recordings I or Stryper release, but this one is very special to me.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had the ability to pour my heart and soul into a solo album – probably since Truth was the last major solo-project release.   I’ve got some incredible special guests on this album including Kevin Max (former DC Talk, current Audio Adreneline) and Tony Harnell (former singer for TNT).  I wrote a song for my wife Lisa and sung it at our small wedding ceremony a couple of years ago.  I recorded that song and it’s on the album as well.  I’ve also been going to Nashville a lot writing for other artists, and one of the songs I co-wrote with Blair Daly (“Smile” for Uncle Kracker and “Stand” for Rascal Flatts) is on this album.  I can’t wait to get it out.  We’re shooting for an August release but no date has been set.

EA:  I also understand you're doing acoustic shows at churches, playing your solo material, Stryper tunes, and worship songs.  How did this come about and how have the shows gone so far?

MS:  As we talk, I’m actually in an airport heading to a solo show in Portland.  They are going great. I used to lead the music in worship services a few years back for my church and have always enjoyed playing acoustically in churches.  It’s cool because I play a pretty wide variety of stuff at these shows from Stryper classics, to my solo material, to some notable praise and worship songs.  I have a lot of different sides to me as an artist.  These story-tellers type acoustic shows are a side that I really enjoy.

EA:  I also saw recently that you will be traveling to Israel, and fans can purchase tickets to come along, is that correct?  What more can you tell me about this unique travel experience?

MS:  That’s correct.  I’ll be going on a tour of The Holy Land in January of 2013.  I’ve never been but always wanted to.  I think it’s limited to only 50 tickets.  I’m looking forward to touring Israel with some of our closest friends and fans.  People can find out more about it at http://www.israelthemetours.com/


EA:  And if that weren't enough, you also have your autobiography in the works?  Goodness when do you have time for anything else?  (laughs)  How long have you been working on the book?  When will it be coming out?  What prompted you to write an autobiography?

MS:  When you put it like that, yeah, I have been pretty busy indeed.  I like keeping busy though.  It’s just the way I am.  I’ve always got something I’m working on.  Ideally we are hoping to release this book simultaneously with my solo album.  We’re working fast and furious on it now.  Doug Van Pelt of HM Magazine is co-authoring it with me.  It’s a very honest book that basically chronicles my life and all that we’ve been through as a band, and me personally as well.  I think there will be some real eye-opening moments for the Stryper fans in this book, but I hope it’s a book that extends far beyond the Stryper fan base as well.  It’s really a human interest story of music, love, loss, and victory.  I’ve always wanted to tell my story and the timing just felt right for me to do this.  Bill Edwards at Big3 Records has always been hugely supportive of my career, both with Stryper and as a solo artist.  Big3 is releasing both the album and the book.

EA:  Switching gears a bit, ever since I've been into Stryper, which dates back to the "Soldiers Under Command" album, you've always been the main writer in the band.  Did that just happen naturally in the early days - you had the most material written so your songs ended up being on the albums?  I know Oz has written a few songs over the span of the band and Robert has contributed as well but nowhere near what you've written.

MS:  It happened very naturally.  I am a songwriter.  That’s what I do.  It’s a talent that God has blessed me with and I’m incredibly thankful for it.  I love writing songs and I don’t say this boastfully but it comes very naturally for me.  I can lock myself away in my home studio and write an entire record in a week or two.  Some writers write all the time, but I tend to write in spurts.  I write a lot, but it’s very focused.  When I get in writing mode, that’s what I do – write, write, and write.  And then other times I’m in touring mode, or business mode.  But when it comes time to do an album, writing songs for that album has always come very naturally to me – which is why I think I’ve enjoyed the process of writing with some of the best writers in Nashville.  I just love the process of songwriting.

EA:  Do you tend to write your songs on the piano or guitar or both?

MS:  Guitar.

EA:  Do you play any other instruments?

MS:  I play a mean kazoo.  You should hear me wail on a version of “When the Saints Come Marching Home” on the kazoo.  (laughing).  Yeah, I play other instruments than just guitar.  I do play piano and even some bass and drums, but I don’t pretend to be a virtuoso at those.  Guitar is my main instrument of course.

EA:  In the early days of Stryper, what were your goals as a band?  Did you achieve them?

MS:  We achieved them, and some.  We just wanted to share with the world our beliefs through music.  We wanted to take a stand for our beliefs, all the while never compromising the music.  We never set out to say “We want to sell X millions of records”.  No, we just wanted to make great music with an inspirational message and share it with as many people as possible.  It was really that simple.  It’s what we wanted to do then, and it’s what we do now.  We feel very blessed every time we get to go out and perform these songs for an audience and are incredibly thankful for the loyal legion of fans that have stuck by us through all these years.


EA:  I know when I was growing up, during the metal boom of the early 80's and beyond, Stryper was always in a tough position.  Being a Christian rock/metal band, you were an easy target for the naysayers - who tended to be people of the Faith more so than metal fans.  Were there ever times when the band thought, you know, this is just too much criticism, we should consider changing the message of the band? 

MS:  I don’t pay a lot of attention to the naysayers.  There will always be skeptics – and you’re right – they tend to be particularly prominent within the church, which has always seemed odd to me.  Back in the day we would have churches protesting outside our concerts.  It was crazy.  But we’d always go out and politely invite them to come to the show.  Surprisingly most of them had never seen a Stryper show and occasionally when we would get some of them to come in and see the show, they would realize how God was working with this band and lives were being changed.  But yes, generally speaking, I ignore the naysayers.  As long as I continue to follow the Lord and seek His wisdom, that’s who I answer to.

EA:  With "The Yellow and Black Attack", "Soldiers Under Command", and "To Hell With The Devil", the line up was solid it seemed.  But then prior to "To Hell With The Devil" being released, Timothy Gaines was out of the band for, what seemed, like only a few months.  I remember a promo ad for the album showed Tim's replacement. Can you elaborate on that period of time - what exactly happened?  I remember talking to one of my friends back then who was just shocked that Tim was gone.

MS:  Read my book when it comes out. (laughing).  It is a long story, but generally speaking, yes, Tim was out of the band for a very brief moment during that time.  And it just didn’t work out.  We were happy to have Tim back in the band.

EA:  Something I always wondered about as a fan was the switch of the original "To Hell With The Devil" cover - with the angels to the plain cover.  Even back then in the mid 80's, there were covers FAR more offensive than something like that I thought.  Was it your record label's idea to cave in and change it?  It's such a strong album cover that I never understood why it was changed.

MS:  There were certain stores that were refusing to carry the original artwork.  So yeah, the label decided to do an alternative cover so that it could be distributed more widely.  I agree though, compared to a lot of album covers, that “angel” cover was quite tame.  We could have put a half-naked girl on the cover and it would have been just fine, but an album cover showing the conflicts between good and evil was somehow too much for certain retailers to handle.

EA:  Looking back, how much pressure did you feel to follow up "To Hell With the Devil"?  Was the record label on you guys to produce something similar?  It seemed to me that "In God We Trust" was almost purposefully produced to get more airplay, more plays on MTV, etc.  Is that accurate or no?

MS:  I’m not sure it was pressure from the label or pressure we put on ourselves, or a combination of both.  But you have to remember, this was a time when radio and MTV literally could make or break your career.  It’s not like today where the fans get to chose what they want to hear through YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, etc.  In the late 80’s  radio and MTV determined which bands got heard and which ones didn’t, so if you wanted to be heard you were forced to produce albums that were appealing to those formats.

EA:  The next album, "Against The Law", received a fair amount of criticism and confusion from many long time fans.  I remember people saying that the band had abandoned their Christian message and roots which I thought was ridiculous.  Being a Christian isn't like a piece of clothing you put on and take off, it is who you are as a person.  Period.  It never changes.  To me, back then and today, I thought the band was just toning the message down but you certainly didn't abandon it.  What are you thoughts on that album and time period?

MS:  Not to sound like a broken record, but I will talk a lot about this period in my book.  I admit to it being a rough time for us personally and professionally.  And yes, we had taken a beating for so long from “the church” that it began to wear on us.  We didn’t abandon our faith nearly as much as we were removing ourselves from the “church” scene.  We’re only human, and you can only take so much beating before you finally say “Look.  We don’t live by your rules.  We answer to God, and only God.”  Yeah, we had a bit of a chip on our shoulders at that time, but it wasn’t with God.  All of that combined with the fact that the industry was changing.  Our style of music was fading nationwide.  We had gone from playing arenas to clubs.  It was rough times, no doubt.  And that probably came across in the music.

EA:  Now, here in 2012, what can you say about your departure from the band back after "Can't Stop The Rock" compilation came out?  What led up to it?

MS:  I get asked this question a lot.  All I can really say is that it felt like the right time to depart.  We had a good run and did some great things, and it was time for me to take a step away from it all.  But I’m a songwriter, so it wasn’t as if I wanted to stop music all together.  I did a couple of solo albums.  My first solo record had 5 radio hits on Christian radio and was received very well.  It sold a quarter of a million copies, which for a Christian album at the time was incredible numbers.  There was no one moment or something that happened where I said “That’s it.  I’m out of here.”  It was a process.  I felt my interest fading and I just knew it was time for me to step away for a while.

EA:  I know Robert, Oz, and Tim continued on as three piece briefly before calling it a day.  Then the band went into a lengthy hibernation.  What were you specifically doing during that time?  Is it true you were working as a park ranger for a time?

MS:  It is true.  Like I mentioned, I released a string of solo albums during that time as well.  But yes, my wife at the time had a family business and I worked as a park ranger there.  It was a cool job, but I never stopped writing. 


EA:  I bought a copy of the Limited Edition "To Hell…." back in 2000 that has the original artwork restored as well as your cover of "Winter Wonderland" as a bonus track.  I believe you were selling these directly to the fans, correct?  How did that reissue come about back then?

MS:  Wow, I had almost forgotten all about that re-issue.  It was licensed by another company who did a limited re-pressing that we sold through our website. 

EA:  When the band reunited at the first Stryper Expo back in 2000, was that the start of the second chapter so to speak?

MS:   That was a lot of fun.  And yes, was helpful in getting us playing together again.  It really ignited when about a year later I did a solo show in Puerto Rico and Sin Dizzy (with Tim and Oz) were on that bill as well.   We got together and did some songs that night and the place was packed.  It was several moments like that which  lead us to wanting to do more shows together.


EA:  Jumping to "The Covering" album - how was the response to it?  I personally liked a lot of the cover versions - some more than others.  But I thought it was a fun record that showed the bands roots. 

MS:  Thanks.  It was intended to be a fun album, so I’m glad you got that out of it.  These are bands that shaped our musical roots, and we wanted to do our best to pay homage to those acts.  The response to the album has been generally positive.  To your earlier point, there are the “naysayers” who like to criticize anything we do that is outside of their realm of comfort, but the naysayers were fewer than expected on this album.  I think by now, most people understand us.  We’re a rock band, with rock roots, and we didn’t become who we are by listening to the contemporary Christian music of the time.

EA:  One quick question about "Shout It Out Loud" (originally by KISS) on the record - was there ever any thought or discussion about having Oz do the Gene vocal parts - to trade off with you like they do on the original?  Just a fan question I have as I thought it would of made the song even cooler.

MS:   No, that wasn’t really something we discussed.  Oz is a great singer, no doubt, but we work best when harmonizing together.

EA:  Stryper played Seattle twice in the past few years (at El Corazon), both of which I couldn't make for various reasons that I was completely bummed about.  But, I know you're coming back in June.  What can the fans expect from this current crop of shows?

MS:  We play a lot of the Stryper classics along with some of the newer stuff, including some songs off The Covering.  The band is sounding as tight as ever.  We’re really happy with how we’ve found our groove. 

EA:  Michael, it's been such a pleasure interviewing you.  Is there anything you'd like to end the interview with?

MS:  I just want to thank all of your readers and our fans for their continued prayers and support of myself and Stryper.  We are all greatly appreciative of those who come to the shows, listen to our music, and hopefully share that music with others.  See ya on the road!

www.stryper.com

Thursday, July 3, 2014

They're Coming To Get You, Judith! Judith O'Dea Interview

Greetings!

I said there would be two interviews this week from the vaults.  Here is the second interview - with none other than Judith O'Dea - actress most known for playing Barbra in the original legendary horror film, "Night Of The Living Dead".

This interview was conducted in late 2011.

Happy and safe 4th of July to all!
Mark
EA

***


EA:  Greetings Ms. O'Dea.  Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.  I really appreciate it!  I'd like to start with your recent appearance at the 2011 ZomBcon here in Seattle, WA.  How was your overall experience at the convention?

JO:  I had an absolutely wonderful time.  The staff could not have been more accommodating and the fans were truly marvelous.  We shared many incredibly interesting conversations.   

EA:  Do you remember what your very first convention was?  

JO:  Boy, that’s a hard one for me.  I think it might have been the 25th anniversary show (Zombie Jamboree) in Pittsburgh.   

EA:  What do you like/dislike about conventions? 

JO:  I don’t dislike too much about conventions really, except maybe where our tables are placed within the venue.  Sometimes that placement just hasn’t worked well.  What I like best is meeting the fans and their families, and sharing interesting conversations.    


EA:  I attended your panel on Friday at ZomBcon and found you to be such a warm and gracious individual.  I truly enjoyed hearing your stories about Night (of The Living Dead) and working with George Romero.  Over your entire career that spans theater, film, television, and radio among other media, how do you keep your perspective in such a humble manner? 

JO:  I don’t quite know how to answer that.  Honestly, it is a thrill for me to know that there has been an enthusiastic audience for our movie all these years.  To be able to thank these wonderful people is very important to me.  Their support of NOTLD has truly changed my life.   

EA:  It was great to see someone with your extensive career so down to earth with the convention goers.
 
EA:  Something else that really stuck out to me during that panel was your voice - your enunciation was very, very pronounced.  It made the listener stand up and take notice.  I know you've worked with many companies regarding communications.  What can you tell me about your communication background as well as your communication business work as O'Dea Communications?   

JO:  At one point in my early school years, I wanted to study linguistics.  Voice, tone, placement, emphasis…the ability to communicate effectively through the spoken word has always been extremely important to me.  I never dreamed that this love for communications would end up providing a second wonderfully fulfilling career in conjunction with entertainment.  The opportunity to build that second career came in the early 80s when I was forced to find steady employment after a run of “The Sound of Music” had ended and there was no new role in sight.  Eventually, I found work at Hughes Aircraft Company.  People there found out about my background in entertainment and gave me the opportunity to help build an oral presentations training department.  I began teaching all kinds of employees and loved every minute of it.  Shortly before retiring in 2002, I created my own communications company called O’Dea Communications and continued corporate training for another eight years.  Now, O’Dea Communications is focused totally on my entertainment career.   

EA:  If I'm not mistaken, your career started out on the stage.  What do you love about the theater VS film or television? 

JO:  I love performing for a live audience.  The dynamic between actors and audience is different every performance.  I also love that one must build a story and character over two and a half hours in an evening rather than in the bits and bites that comprise film.  And yet, that ‘bits and bites’ way of working is one of the things I love about film, too – that one has to be able to build a consistent, honest, believable character in each scene that eventually translates to an edited whole.  Both mediums provide tremendous challenge.   

EA:  Do you have any plans to return to the stage? 

JO:  Oh, my, YES!  We have a wonderful theatre here in Flagstaff (Arizona).  I keep tabs on its audition notices hoping to find a role that fits my type. 

EA:  After all the time that has passed since the release of Night (of The Living Dead) and all of the questions you've been asked over the years regarding the film, why do you feel the film has lasted so long and is and always will be considered a classic?   

JO:  I believe timing has had a lot to do with the film’s longevity.  Coming out in 1968, when civil rights was such a prominent issue, using a black man and white woman as leads WITHOUT making any notice of ‘color,’ I felt was exceptional.  Also, the fact that no one survived was a most unusual ending for a horror film at that time.  Additionally, the excellent way George introduced the ‘horror’ right at the very beginning of the film, then built the intensity to such a devastating climax without extraneous material might also have contributed to the film’s long-lasting popularity. 


EA:  Do you ever get tired of being asked about Night (of The Living Dead)?  

JO:  Never!   

EA:  Do you ever have a fan come up to you to ask you a question about the film and in the back of your mind you're thinking, "goodness, here we go again - isn't there something else you can ask me"?  

JO:  Not really.  There are some questions that do get asked often though.  When I hear one of those, I just go with the flow and answer as if it had been asked for the very first time.  (many artists could take a courtesy cue from Ms. O'dea here - editor)

EA:  While most fans would say you're most well known for Night, what do you personally consider some of your favorite career moments or highlights?  

JO:  Ah, let’s see…one favorite moment that comes to mind was during a stage performance of “My Fair Lady.”  I had just finished singing I Could Have Danced All Night.  The audience broke into huge applause.  It kept going and going, even as I was changing costumes backstage for the next scene.  It was overwhelming – one of those magic moments for me on stage.

EA:  Have you been working consistently between acting work and your communication company since you started your career?  

JO:  Yes, I have been extremely fortunate to be able to do that.   

EA:  Or, were there breaks in there for personal reasons (such as family, etc)?  For those up and coming actors, voice personalities, etc, what advice do you have for them?  

JO:  Persevere, practice your craft, and audition whenever you can.  Have a backup plan for the low times.  My mom insisted I learn how to type.  That skill enabled me to make a living when no shows were on the horizon. 

EA:  What is something that fans of your work might be surprised to learn about you?  Such as a favorite hobby, past time, or particular interest?  

JO:  Hmmmm?  I love scuba diving all over the world.  Just got back from the Philippines where we saw some of the most amazing sea critters you’d ever hope to meet!

EA:  Thank you again Ms. O'Dea for taking the time to speak with me.  I truly appreciate it!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wild Wind Productions - Denise Korycki Interview

Greetings one and all!

As we here in the U.S. of A. gear up for our nations birthday this Friday the 4th, we here at EA are proud to bring you two new interviews this week!

The first is with Denise Korycki.  This interview was conducted in 2011 as I was really a big fan of Denise's directing work with the Cannibal Corpse DVD's.  I had an interview with Alex Webster scheduled not long after Denise's so this was a perfect one two punch.

And, yes, the Alex Webster interview will see the light of day as well!

Cheers!
Mark
EA


Q:  Greetings Denise!  Thank you for doing the interview.  Are you at home in Brooklyn or on the road?

A: I actually just got back from a trip to Stockholm, Sweden. On the last Cannibal Corpse DVD I did, "Global Evisceration", we traveled to ten different countries in two weeks – one of those countries was Sweden. We didn’t have much time, obviously, to spend in a lot of the countries we toured, so I decided to go back to Sweden to visit because I really liked the vibe there.

Q: I read your bio on the Wild Wind Production site.  Do you have any formal education in videography, filmmaking, etc?  What got you started?

A: I majored in a few different fields in college. Eventually, I decided to pursue a degree in Radio and Television Production. One of my teachers was a freelance producer at VH1. She recommended me for an internship there during my last year of college. The show I was working on, "Hollywood & Vinyl", was looking for a production assistant and after I graduated, they hired me immediately. The timing worked out great!

Q:  What are some of the things you learned, good and bad, about the industry during your internship?

A: When you’re a production intern, you have to do a lot of transcribing so I quickly discovered that people do not always speak as eloquently as we think they do; they fill their sentences with “ums” and “ahs” and “likes” and the editors / producers pull most of the stutters out to make them flow better. I learned that shadowing an experienced producer is the best way to learn how to be a good producer yourself.  There are some people who graduate from college and automatically think they are directors or producers, but, in reality, it takes time to hone your craft if you want longevity. 

Q: I absolutely love the two Cannibal Corpse DVD's you did.  They are in one word:  exhaustive.  You really have a knack for telling a story and editing a ton of footage to leave no stone unturned.  How did you get involved with CC and those two projects ("Centuries of Torment" and "Global Evisceration")?

A: Thank you for the kind words on the Cannibal DVDs! I’ve actually done 3 with them, if you include the “Making of…” that was released with the Evisceration Plague album. I love working with Cannibal Corpse!

I’ve always believed that behind every one story, lies a ton more stories. It was a really amazing process to watch all of these stories unfold throughout the making of the DVDs. It was a lot of work sifting through all the old footage. If I remember correctly, I think I had about 3 terabytes of footage for the Centuries DVD!

I met Cannibal back in 2006 while I was on The Sounds of the Underground tour shooting As I Lay Dying. That year, I was also working as the Series Producer of Fuse TV’s Uranium and we did an interview with Cannibal at Erik Rutan’s studio for “Kill”. In January 2007, I ran into Alex Webster at the NAMM convention in Anaheim, CA and we spoke about documenting the band. They wanted to do a tour documentary, but I thought it’d be great to document the band’s career since they had been around for so long. Metal Blade was super supportive and receptive to it all. The rest is, well, video history.

Q:  Who makes up your crew when you're working on a project such as the "Global Evisceration" DVD?  Can you give me a break down of your game plan when it comes to projects such as this?  Do you map out what you're going to be filming each day?

A: The crew on "Global Evisceration" was basically me. I produced, directed and shot the DVD. I edit the majority of the projects I work on as well, but also bring on a couple of different editors to help out towards the end. Jim Starace (www.mastervolume.com) and Lia Starace (www.splicegirlpost.com) have been editing with me since one of the first DVDs I did - Killswitch Engage “Set the World Ablaze”.

I don’t script anything out because you never know what will happen from day to day on tour.  Life on the road is unpredictable, so I basically just go with the flow and keep the camera rolling most of the day. I weave out all the uneventful parts when editing. My goal is to try to capture the honest moments and the personalities of each band member. I want the fans to really know what it’s like to go on tour with Cannibal. 

 (Denise filming Paul M. from Cannibal Corpse in Tel Aviv, Israel)

Q:  You've worked on several band projects, among other things.  If it were completely up to you, what would you be focused on in the future?  Films?  Band videos?  Documentaries?

A: I would absolutely love to focus on documentaries full time. I love uncovering the human story and by the human story, I do not mean a made up, crappy reality show.  I mean the true human story. I’m obsessed with autobiographies and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. It gives you a new perspective on life.

Q:  What kind of subjects would you like to tackle for these documentaries?

A: I don’t have a specific subject that I can say I’d like to focus on. The world is so vast; people are so inspiring. My passion lies in discovering and uncovering stories.  Your neighbor could be the subject of my next documentary, for all I know.

Q:  You've worked with some amazing artists (musicians, actors, etc).  There must be some great stories!  Can you tell me one that stands out?

A: Wow! That’s always such a hard question to narrow it down to one.  I can go on for months with stories. Some of them are “you had to be there” stories, some of them I can’t tell or I’d have to kill you… hmmm… Here’s a couple of them, although I must warn you – I’m way better at storytelling with video than I am with conveying it through words.

On the Cannibal tour we did last summer, we were at the Belgium airport at 6am. I was filming the guys wiping the crust out of their eyes, basically, when Rob pointed out that there was a Jesse Jackson “look alike” standing behind him. We were kind of tired and a bit delirious and laughing about how ironic that would be if it were Jesse Jackson… Just as we were talking about this guy, he walks up and, sure enough, it was him! To see Jesse Jackson chatting with Cannibal Corpse in Belgium at the airport at 6am was a bit surreal. I captured it on video – you can see it on Metal Blade TV’s site!

Another story – I was working at VH1 on a show called “The Rock Show”.  Ozzy was scheduled to be our guest. I had never met the Prince of Darkness before, so I was anxious and excited and nervous and overwhelmed – meeting Ozzy was going to be a dream come true! I was getting ready to head into the studio and all of a sudden there’s commotion on my TV. I caught the end of it before my TV cut out  - believe it or not, I didn’t have cable, I just had an antenna for reception. I quickly ran out of my house and jumped on the subway – had to get into Manhattan from Brooklyn to meet Ozzy and nothing was going to stop me! After all, this was the day, it was the day I was going to meet Ozzy! Turns out, that day would be significant for all the wrong reasons - it was September 11, 2001. Needless to say, Ozzy was on a bus back to Los Angeles by the time I got into the studio in Manhattan and learned what was actually happening.

Q:  Holy crap!  What a story!  Did you ever see the 9/11 documentary made by a pair of French brothers?  They were actually filming a probationary fireman going through his first year as a fireman.  They showed it on regular TV and then released a longer version on DVD.  They had footage from inside the towers that fateful day.

A: I actually have not seen that. I may have to put it on my Netflix queue. Honestly, it took a while before I was able to watch any footage about September 11th.  I’m fortunate enough to say I did not know anyone who died in the WTC, but the visuals I saw in real life have been burned in my brain for the last 10 years. Wow, it’s strange to think it’s been almost 10 years.

   (Denise filming a live event)

Q:  Who's on your bucket list of who'd you'd like to work with in the future?

A: I would LOVE to do a documentary on Suicidal Tendencies! They are one of my favorite bands of all time. I’d also love to do a documentary on Prince. I love his music and he fascinates the hell out of me. If anyone out there can make any of those happen, let me know!

Q:  Suicidal was one of the earlier bands to attract fans from different genres - punk, metal, ska, rap, etc.  What do you like about the band?

A: The music is killer! But, I must say that Mike Muir’s lyrics, basically, saved my life. I’ll never forget that feeling I had when I first listened to “How Will I Laugh…” I remember when I worked at MTV Networks, I would sit down for hours and watch old interviews with Mike. I can never get enough of his inspiring words.

Q:  Do you consider yourself a metal head?  You've worked with many metal bands thus far.

A: I consider myself a music head. Metal is dear to my heart and was one of my favorite genres of music growing up. It’s like family; it’s in my blood. But, good music is good music and I love all kinds – from Jackie Wilson to Pantera to Elliot Smith to Life of Agony.

Q:  When you're not working, what do you like to do for fun?

A: I go to see live shows about 2 or 3 times a week and watch tons of documentaries. And, honestly, work is fun for me! I work for fun. I know it’s hard to believe and it’s not always all roses, but it’s exhilarating to work. I try to shoot whenever I can. I like to capture moments in time. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to film shows in NYC without paying a venue fee, so I’ve been shooting less and less live shows over the years.

Q:  What are some of the highlights of your career thus far?

A: It’s a trip to think about the fact that I’ve met almost all the bands whose posters I used to hang on my walls when I was a kid. I’ve had the privilege of not only meeting them, but of developing lasting relationships with many of them as well. Also, being able to travel the world and experience music and cultures in so many different countries is something I never thought was possible. Meeting fans from all those places I’ve been to reinforces my belief that music is a universal language.

Q:  What projects are you working on now?

A: I’m actually working on a video for a charity organization called Watchlist. I’ve got a few things in mind for the rest of the year, but nothing is solidified yet.

Q:  Denise, thank you for taking the time today.  The last words are for you.

A; Thanks for all the support! Please keep buying music and DVDs and continue to support the arts. We are nothing without the fans. And true artists are fans themselves.
When I was a kid, I never thought a career like this was possible. But, as Ozzy once said in an interview I finally did with him on my birthday a few months after September 11th,  “don’t ever stop dreaming because dreams really do come true… sometimes…”