FEATURE STORY: GETTING TO KNOW MUSIC AND FILM COMPOSER, NICK DOLAN

nick dolan

Nick Dolan is the guy that makes the magic happen. Those lovely melodies that you heard on your favorite indie pop song, he is probably behind it. Nick is experienced in many genres of music such as Jazz, Classical, Rock, and R&B. He loves his craft creating music, but he is a versatile composer. Not only does he work as an arranger, but Nick also is a songwriter, music editor, copyist, and orchestrator. He’s always looking for new things to try and new tasks to learn to master.

However, all of this musical knowledge did not come overnight. Nick discovered music by the age of 10 when he picked up his first guitar.  After participating in high school bands and choirs, Nick found his niche. He studied music at the University of Oregon and after that, he discovered a new passion for film. He eventually left Oregon to study Film Scoring at Berklee Collee of Music. There he was able to study some of the great composers including Richard Davis, Sheldon Mirowitz, and Jack Perricone, just to name a few.

Nick is also the member of the National Society of Leadership and Success Outstanding Musicianship at Berklee College of Music. It is evident that Nick Dolan is a man that takes his work seriously and absolutely loves what he does.

I got a chance to chat with Nick Dolan about his accomplishments as a composer, his potential career as an artist, and what is next for him.

Lawanda Johnson: So Nick, you have an impressive resume. Congrats on all of your accomplishments. Name one thing that you would like to achieve within the next year or two.

Nick DolanThanks, I’m grateful to have had the privilege of working with some great people in my short career. One thing I’m working on right now that I’ve never done before is writing for video games; I have little experience in the field but it seems like a great crossover from writing cinematically for a film.

LJ: Talk about your upbringing and musical influences.

ND: I started playing guitar when I was 10, but even before that I was pretending to write notes on paper, conduct to the radio and had an unusual understanding of how melody works. In high school, I performed on a weekly basis in our school’s guitar ensembles, jazz big band, and later our men’s choir. I was largely influenced by rock legends like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Jimi Hendrix when I was younger, but became influenced by jazz greats and even classical guitarists by the end of high school. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I realized I wanted to write for film, which made Berklee College of Music a perfect place for me to study. Since my days at Berklee, I’m now influenced by anyone from Prokofiev and John Williams to Sondheim and The Roots.

LJ: You are diverse in all genres. What is your most favorite to produce?

ND: I love music that tells a story, which is why I love writing music for visual media like film, but if a song is powerful enough to evoke an emotion or get people dancing I’m always excited to work on it, whatever genre it may be.

LJ: You are a songwriter. Have you thought about penning for some indie artists? Or pursuing a career as an artist with your choir experience.

ND: I actually do more behind-the-scenes stuff with my songwriting, I may write a song for an artist or take someone’s melody or lyrics and produce the structure and instrumentation for the song. I like working that way, the artists and performers are the ones who will take it to the next level and bring it to life, which is the fun part for me.

LJ: Name one song you wish you would have written and produced. Why?

ND: It’s kind of funny, but I think I would pick the song Mind Shift by the Japanese group World Order. I’m not a huge J-Pop fan, but the song has a lot of elements to it that are interesting, like strings, electronic sounds, and vocal arranging, which would be a fun challenge. Plus, I think the synchronized walking music video is pretty impressive.

LJ: What’s a random fact about you that no one knows?

ND: I have a mild chocolate allergy, which has never stopped me from enjoying it.

LJ:  What’s next for you?

ND: I’m currently working with a songwriter to help add some finishing touches to their song, and I’m waiting to receive video for a film noir/comedy TV pilot that I’ll be writing the music for.

LJ: Anything you would like to share with Limerence’s audience.

ND: I always love meeting new people, if anyone is interested in the film/game scoring or music business, I’m happy to answer questions. Just visit my website and send me an email.

For more information about Nick Dolan, check out his website.

New Face on the Scene: Camay

Camay is an artist, lyricist, and songwriter. The young emcee is reaching new heights in the music industry and is taking the world by storm with her gritty storytelling, monster bars, and strong image. Her look is different from other female emcees and artists. She’s one of the guys but can handle her own in the male dominated music scene. She impressed many with her debut mixtape, A Drug Dealer’s Dream. The hip hop industry embraced her with open arms and now it is her time to show everyone that she has what it takes to make it. Her new EP, Judge Me may be some of her best work yet. Her first single, Judge Me is a hard hitter track that talks about the hypocrisy in the world. Her second single So High was placed on the semi-finalist list for the International Songwriters Contests, out of sixteen thousand other participants. Camay is a real emcee. Camay is here to win it.

I got the opportunity to talk to Camay about her musical upbringing, and her EP, Judge Me.

camay

Lawanda Johnson: Talk more about your musical upbringing.

Camay: I was raised in a household filled with music. Both of my parents are very musically inclined, but [never made a career out of it]. They chose the family life instead.  My mom used MTV to keep me occupied as a baby.

LJ: Your latest single Judge Me is the truth. A lot of people are afraid to talk about taboo issues and often keep secrets from others and themselves. What made you write this song? What was going on at the time that made you think this is what the music industry needed to hear?

Camay: Thanks. Honestly, I wrote the track in ’09 when I was actually being judged literally, I was having run-ins with the law and mentally I was in a ‘me against the world’ state. I don’t make music according to what I think people need to hear; I just write what I feel. That track is more relevant now than it was in ’09 in my perspective. But at the time me feeling judged made me want to respond in the same manner by judging back, which is obviously hypocritical and that’s the real point of the record.

LJ: Talk more on your Judge Me EP. How did you prep for the EP?

Camay: I’m constantly writing music, so really the project was being worked on before I even consciously decided it was. It was originally called Red Mic Special; we had the artwork done and everything, but while we were shooting the video for  Judge Me, we caught some really powerful stills that became the cover for the project.

Overall the producers on the project were on board when I said I wanted to drop some new music. There was no point in keeping [the music] to myself.

*Check out Camay’s music video. for her single, Judge Me.

LJ: Describe your music and style in three words.

Camay: Real, raw, rap.

LJ: What’s next for Camay?

Camay: Shooting visuals for the rest of the songs on the EP… Judge Me set the bar kinda high for the rest. I have performances coming up for this spring/summer … I just wanna stay busy but with enough time to still create.

For more information on Camay: http://www.camaymusic.com/

SIX QUESTIONS FOR CARLY JO JACKSON

CARLY JO JACKSON

Carly Jo Jackson is a new indie artist from Florida with a dream to achieve and a message to share.  Just a young woman, Carly is wise beyond her years.  The self-proclaimed acoustic pop songstress just released her first CD, The World at My Feet, which is full of songs based on her real experiences with life, loss, and love. Often, people compare her to Colbie Caillat or Taylor Swift, but she has her own style with a more bluesy sound to add to the mix.  When she’s not singing, writing great music, or jamming on her guitar, she is a student at Florida Atlantic University. Carly is above the pressure of trying to sound, look, or be a certain way in the music industry; she is making her own lane creating music that she loves and really connect with. Carly is pure talent.

I got the chance to speak with Carly Jo about her CD, The World at My Feet, her experience on The Voice, and what’s next for her.

Lawanda Johnson: Congratulations on releasing your first CD. It is quite impressive.  Let’s talk about the preparation for World at My Feet and some of your inspiration behind the project.

Carly Jo: I feel like I have been preparing for this CD all my life!  I have been composing lyrics since I was able to write – my childhood journals are full of lyrics and dreams of being a singer.  But the songs in World at My Feet were all written right after getting my first guitar for my 16th birthday in 2009, which was a very emotional time in my life.  The guitar was therapy for me, allowing me to pour my heart out in song.

I had the great fortune of being discovered by start-up record label, Arch Productions, just a year after getting my guitar when I was singing at a friend of my parents’ birthday party.  They were looking for a young artist that they could record and mentor and I was the lucky person in the right place at the right time!  I was very fortunate that they found me and were willing to invest in me; not many artists get this opportunity so quickly and at such a young age. The lesson learned – get yourself out there and perform, no matter how small or unimportant the event, you never know who is listening!
 
LJ: My favorite song is This is Goodbye. Describe your thoughts when writing this song.

CJ: Thank you, I am so glad you like it!  I wrote this song in the middle of recording when we already had 5 songs picked for the CD, but Arch Productions thought it was powerful so we did the last minute switch.  Writing this song was the ultimate therapy session.  I found out the night before writing it that my boyfriend of almost two years cheated on me.  I got up early the next morning and just let all my anger pour out in the song.  I know the lyrics are a little vicious, but writing them helped me come to grips with my feelings and emotions and made me strong so that I could move on with my life.  As angry as the song is, in the bridge, it speaks to one of the toughest things when ending a relationship.  Over the course of the years, I had also become close to the boyfriend’s family and it was heartbreaking that the relationship with the family was going to have to end also.  I think any “girl done wrong” can relate to the lyrics of this song.

LJ: You were an Orlando finalist for The Voice. Talk more about your experience.

CJ: Actually I had to sign an agreement to not discuss the details, but the overall experience was amazing and it was a great honor to make it as far as I did – the step just before the Blind Auditions – and to be recognized for my singing.  I got to skip to the front of the line, so to speak, because they found me on the internet and invited me in for an audition. So I didn’t have to wait in the long lines and go through some of the grueling first stages of the audition.  This really speaks to the power of the internet and the importance it is to create a presence on the web.

LJ: What was the last concert that you’ve been to in the past month?

CJ: I haven’t been to a concert in the last month, but my last concert was one of my old favorites — Blink 182.   I really enjoy and am influenced by a wide range of music genres. One of the most influential concerts I have been to lately, about 4 or 5 months ago, was Bonnie Raitt.  I love her bluesy style and the way she commands the stage and interacts with the audience.  I hope to have a career like hers that stands the test of time.

Even though not a concert, earlier this month I took a trip to Nashville and was able to enjoy some incredible indie music.  I also got to sing at Writer’s Nights at the Bluebird Café and the Commodore Grill. That trip made me realize that there a lot of incredibly talented people out there trying to do the same thing I want to do and that to make it, I am going to really have to stand out and be myself.

LJ: If you could make a playlist of your favorite 5 songs, what would they be?

This list definitely changes every day (maybe even every hour) depending on my mood!  But at this moment that list would be:

Tracy Chapman- Fast Car
Andy Grammar- Head Up
Caitlyn Smith- Come Alive
Sublime- Sweet Honey
Slightly Stoopid- Closer to the Sun

LJ: What’s next for you?

CJ: I am in college and plan to continue, but my heart is really in my music, performing, and making a name for myself in the business.  The sensible side of me says to finish college but my heart wants me to focus 100 percent on my music.  I plan to spend this summer working on my music, and hopefully get a band to back me up when performing live, then make a decision about the fall.  I am taking it all one day at a time and will see where things go from there.  From my lyrics in my song Oh Yeah: “I am young and I got the world at my feet!”

Check out Carly Jo Jackson’s music, updates, and shows here: http://www.carlyjojackson.com

New Face on the Scene: Interview with Stateside

There is a new name in the indie post-hardcore music scene, who are ranking up on the Reverb Nation’s Top 20 Charts. Members Mike Tarry (vocals), Chip Su (guitar), Phil Zepeda (guitar), Jeff Meiers (bass) and Eliran Malakov (drums), collectively known as Stateside, have just finished their debut album, Stand Clear of Closing Doors, which will release on Feb. 7th and are optimistic about 2012. Their style, which they refer to as Poppy Hardcore Rock fuses an alternative sound with a taste of punk intensity. Rocking hard on their first single, Thoughts of Decadence, Stateside gives listeners the most ultimate rock experience. These guys have headlined at Webster Hall and played along with acts such as Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, I Am the Avalanche and Burn Halo. Stateside will be sticking around for a while in the music scene as their fans increase and their music expands. Now let the party start!  Stateside will have an exclusive listening party on AOL for their debut album. Stay tuned.

I had a chat with Stateside about their debut album, Stand Clear of Closing Doors, their favorite songs, and their future goals.

stateside

How did you guys form Stateside?

What started from a mesh of friends, roommates, co-workers and drinking buddies was boiled down to make up Stateside. The name is a term used by soldiers abroad.

Who are some of your musical influences?

A Day to Remember, Thrice, Brand New, Paramore, Silverstein

Your debut album is releasing in Feb 2012. How long did it take you guys to finish the album?

It took us about a year. Front to back it is an evolution of Stateside -musically and lyrically. We experimented with different directions throughout the year. We hope to carry over our progress into our future releases.

What are some your future goals?

We are doing an east coast tour this year. If other opportunities opened, we would love to do more touring.

Fun Fact:

Off the debut album, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Chip’s  favorite song is Make your Move. Jeff’s favorite is Out of Mind and Phil’s favorite track is Highs, Lows, and Everything Else.

Stateside would like to hear from you. Shoot them a message on Facebook (facebook.com/stateside.band) and they will always write back!
For more information: www.statesidesnyc.com

Catch one of their upcoming shows:

Tuesday, February 7th- New York NY – The Studio at Webster Hall

Thursday, March 29th– New York NY – Sullivan Hall

Saturday, March 31st– Blackwood NJ – Whiteman Square Men’s Club

Saturday, April 29th – Teaneck NJ – Mexicali Live

Saturday, May 19th – Atlantic City NJ – Le Grand Fromage

Interview with L.A Native Beat Smith

beat smith

Beat Smith is a very talented artist with a different style that includes hip-hop and R&B. Some might see Beat Smith as a rapper, but he is more than that. There is more to his story and his music. With Beat Smith’s latest mixtape, Souled Out, listeners and fans can see a more serious and sexy side to him. Beat Smith writes on personal experiences and tells stories with positive messages. I got a chance to speak with Beat Smith about his mixtape Souled Out, upcoming plans and his future goals.

Lawanda Johnson: What’s the story behind the name Beat Smith?

Beat Smith: “I originally started as a producer so the name is a little more relevant to production. I guess by being an artist, I got the concept of the old school Black Smith. So I kind of got that concept as far as musically by creating my own music from scratch. When I do production, I don’t really use too many samples. Once I started to become an artist, it just kind of developed into itself. So it came from the concept of creating songs and music from scratch. So once I started becoming an artist, the persona kind of developed.”

LJ: What made you decide to do that crossover from being a producer to becoming an artist?

BS: “It was because of a lot of personal choices in my life. My first love is always the production. I always wanted to be a producer. My co-partner of my indie label is El Debarge Jr. I actually started off as doing a lot of production for him. I was the producer and he was the artist. So that’s how it started off. Then we went our separate ways doing different things in music. That’s when I started to get my own style and eventually I was comfortable developing who I was as an artist. Then I went through some personal things that kind of drove me to the next level as an artist.”

LJ: Ok. I have to say that I really enjoyed your mixtape, Souled Out. I love the realness of it and the honest lyrics behind every song. So let’s talk about Souled Out.

BS: “Thank you. Well, it’s a different style of music. For starters, I don’t really consider myself as a rapper. I am an artist. There’s a fine line between the two. I have a style that’s geared to women. I include a lot of R&B influence on my tracks. As far as rap-based, I am more Hip-Hop. With this mixtape, I just wanted to do something different than a usual R&B style that I used to put out there. Souled Out was titled from the meaning that at some point a lot of artists sell out when they are given a certain point of popularity. At the time Souled Out, it’s not about me selling out, but it’s like I’m giving the listeners all of my soul. Like giving all the soul that I have to my fans. That’s the concept of Souled Out. I just wanted it to be strongly hip-hop based also and for the females as well.”

LJ: Why did you choose those prominent people for the interludes such as Maya Angelou and Michael Jordan for an example?

BS: “Those are important messages. The interlude is related to the songs that come after it. I wanted to do a variety of interests people have in society. Some people are more in tune to watch sports. Others are acquired to watch CNN or T.V. Everybody is in their own field. I choose people that stand out and not based on their careers, but as a person. All of these people like Michael Jordan and Maya Angelou inspire me. I look at those interludes in the same way. Basically, the concept of the interludes is to say something that I necessary couldn’t say but it relates to the song and my message in the song.”

LJ: I really liked that. So, Best Trouble Ever has to be one of my favorite tracks on this mixtape. Explain the concept of that song.

BS: “Wow, thank you! I really appreciate that. Well, Best Trouble Ever was actually made for a girl that I was talking to at the time. A lot of artists out here look for inspiration in a variety of things. It could be work, money or sports. That particular song was sort of a inside joke between us. I called her The Best Trouble Ever because she was really an interesting female, but also some trouble. You see the realness of a person and see all their flaws but you are skeptical at times. But you still see the good in that person. You know what I mean (laughs). That was the concept of it. I also found that the Poetic Justice interlude was on there too and that was a perfect fit for that song. Then the Maya Angelou interlude came after and it came all together.”

LJ: (Laughs). I definitely can relate to that. So, Beat Smith, where will you be in the next five years?

BS: “Hopefully on tour. I would love to complete a tour. I want to do national and international as far as touring. I like to go out and see different places. I have a lot of fans that accumulated online. Touring is what I would like to accomplish. As a producer, I always wanted to do production. My goal is to establish a network with other artists and so forth and so forth. Every artist has that one point, where you are like Lil Wayne where you grind really hard for 10 or 15 years or you are that artist where you have that 5-year-shine and then have to move on to something else. I’m not saying that I won’t excel or be eliminated as an artist, but at the same time, I really wanted to fall back on production. That has always been my drive. I think I might go back to production at some point. I will be able to build a connection and network with other artists and producers.”

LJ: That’s great! I wish you the best with that. Have you done any shows lately?

BS: “I have been doing various shows in the L.A area. I just recently got in contact with a promotion company a couple of months ago. I did a show with them; I did a show at the Dragon Fly. Then I did another show at the Plush Lounge (Key Club.) I plan on doing more local shows to get a local fan base. Also, I would like to set up a tour for some opening acts, possibly some college tours. Then expand from local to states to nationwide.”

LJ: Well, I am glad that I did this interview with you, Beat Smith. Good luck and best success!

BS: Thank you. I appreciate it!

To get updates on Beat Smith:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/BeatSmith-13eatSmith/191500774194957
Twitter: http://twitter.com/13eatSmith