Sunday, October 19, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
. . . begins an extremely well written and comprehensive article at Salon.com on recent developments in the music world.
Internet radio may seem dead, but . . . if Indie musicians play it right, it could be the beginning of a truly new world for Internet radio playing Indie music.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
photo by Kelly Kagan
Crowded lyrics resulting in moments of awkward timing, yet you keep coming back to listen some more. I can remember noticing these same 'flaws' in Bob Dylan's second album . . . and I kept listening to him too.
Due to her unique range, writing style, and style of delivery, Melanie Hersch, melaniehersch.com, has appeal that spans country, folk, rock and pop.
Her lyrics, sung with refreshingly intimate honesty, contain such immediately meaningful metaphors as "Rivers of regret run deep in my bones" - the feelings of an errant young bride-to-be in her balad, Orion; and , In a Resting Place, she sings, "throw my arms around my weakness, flood myself with gentleness". With her throaty, yet beautifully melodic voice, that just down right haunts you, she addicts you to her music, while warming you with her big smile, big friendly eyes, and ocassion country "Yee-Hee".
Her CD, Waiting for the Moment is only available on CDBaby for now, but she tells me her songs may be on iTunes soon as well. Give her a listen.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
On Sunday, February 24, 2007, I posted a lengthy blog entry reviewing Ysabellabrave, the YouTube singing sensation. Shortly after posting, I received a comment from MaryAnne (a/k/a Ysabellabrave) indicating she found the blog article insulting. I did not really see why; but since my role is that of Indie Music Promoter, rather than journalist, I responded by simply removing the blog entry. (I have no desire to antagonize indie artists.) After removal, MaryAnne posted another comment asking me to get in contact with her. So, I did. She wanted an opportunity to respond, even though the article had been removed. Long story short, that contact resulted in the following interview, which is published here in place of the original entry.
IndieMusicMan: MaryAnne, you have achieved what a lot of artists today are striving to achieve - you have become an Internet personality - a proverbial "overnight" success. You have done this by uploading home-made videos of yourself singing to YouTube. When and how did this get started? What was the first video that you posted on YouTube and what were the circumstances that led to your first video posting?
MaryAnne: Once I discovered I was able to sing well, I thought I might take a shot at American idol. I made a video singing "Mambo Italiano" sometime maybe last July or August. I was hoping those who don't live near me could hear me sing and tell me what they thought.
IndieMusicMan: When and how did you first discover that you were able to sing?
MaryAnne: An acquaintance was playing a karaoke video game, and he was such a poor singer I quipped “hey even I can sing better than that!” I gave it a shot and those watching looked awestruck. I said, “what?” I’m still kind of going, ‘what?’, to be frank.
IndieMusicMan: Would it be accurate to say that you, like many people, had done some singing in the shower and sounded pretty good to yourself – so you wanted to get some feedback from others to see if you had real talent?
MaryAnne: After the ‘karaoke game incident’, I was interested in singing. I liked how it felt to sing, and it sounded pleasant to my ears, but the reaction of anyone listening or watching was unbelievable to me. Basically I wanted to be in on what the big deal was, or maybe do something good with that effect I was apparently having. This brought about the idea for American Idol.
IndieMusicMan: Did you take a shot at American Idol, and if so, how did it go?
MaryAnne: American Idol was really horrible. I was told everything nice you could ever want to hear, but what I discovered about the show while I was there, to say nothing of my own personal disappointment, was extremely disheartening.
IndieMusicMan: Approximately how many videos have you posted on YouTube to date?
MaryAnne: I have 60 at this time, some speaking most singing.
IndieMusicMan: What is the fanbase that you have achieved. I have read that your videos have been viewed over 250,000 times and that you have over twenty thousand "friends" on YouTube. Is that accurate?
MaryAnne: My videos have been viewed, as of this moment, a grand total of 3,147,309 times. I currently have 17441 'subscribers', meaning people who have actively signed up to have a Youtube account and subscribed to my videos.
IndieMusicMan: Had you sung publicly or professionally before you began posting these videos?
MaryAnne: I had never sung publicly, no. Since the videos began, I have gone to karaoke places and sung in front of an audience, but nothing more.
IndieMusicMan: What kind of reaction have you gotten at the karaoke places? Similar to the reaction at YouTube?
MaryAnne: When I sing karaoke, the reaction is bizarre to me. I was singing karaoke in public before I made any videos. What struck me was that karaoke bars and such are generally loud, boisterous places. Lots of talking and ignoring the singer. However, when I sing, everyone shuts up and is still. The running joke with my friends is that it’s like the ‘Jeremy Spoke in Class’ video by Pearl Jam (funny if you know the video): everyone is just frozen. This has never ceased to be alarming. It is kind of fun now, though - if one person in the audience still is not looking at me or seems distracted, I can look at them and sing and they, too, shut up. This silent stillness erupts into applause and hoots at the finish (sometimes in the song, depending on the song), and it is WEIRD.
IndieMusicMan: Obviously, you have a similar effect on your video subscribers. What kind of equipment and software do you use to create your videos? Does anyone help you with them?
MaryAnne: I use a Kodak easyshare Z760 camera that also shoots moving images, a broken desk lamp, and karaoke discs playing on a karaoke player. That's it. No one helps me.
IndieMusicMan: What is your source of background music?
MaryAnne: I buy karaoke discs online and play them in a karaoke player.
IndieMusicMan: What, if anything, have you done to promote these videos other than just posting them on YouTube?
MaryAnne: I have done nothing to promote my videos. I usually remind my mom to look at them, though, and tell me what she thinks.
IndieMusicMan: So, what does your Mom usually think?
MaryAnne: Initially she didn’t see the big deal, really. This had me thinking, ah, see, everyone else is pulling my leg. However, as this time has gone by, she now insists I inform her with a direct link when there’s a new video. She is very excited by all of this.
IndieMusicMan: Ok, when you just said you have done nothing to promote your videos, I can hear jaws dropping among the readers. I network with a lot of very talented people who, despite working very hard to get their music noticed on the Internet, do not get anything near the results that you have gotten. I’m a fan of yours and I think you are very talented and charming, but no matter how talented one is, something has to happen to get their work noticed. Do you have any idea what happened that got your work noticed so?
MaryAnne: None. The only thing I know is that fans (I really don’t like that word) tell me all the time they play me at weddings, funerals, bars, work... this is, far as I have been informed ALL word of mouth.
IndieMusicMan: What advice would you have for a struggling artist trying to get noticed on the Internet?
MaryAnne: Don’t struggle. Just do what is right. Do what you gotta do so that if nothing comes of it you know you still did the right thing. I consider this all a miracle, literally - so I can take no credit for any of this, and am embarrassed to even give advice.
IndieMusicMan: After the numbers began to become significant, so that you knew something was happening here, what thought have you given to where you want all this to go?
MaryAnne: Wherever God wants, and I pray I’m willing to go with Him.
IndieMusicMan: Speaking of that, in addition to your YouTube presence, you also have a Live Journal at http://hisprophet.livejournal.com , with the caption “CHURCH of the HOLY CROSS”. I take it you are religious?
MaryAnne: Yes, I love the Lord.
IndieMusicMan: How long has your Live Journal space been up? How did that come about?
MaryAnne: I had a group of friends who had their own livejournals and it wasn’t long before I said, hey here is a place I can help people and be with them. It was a great ministry.
IndieMusicMan: I notice you said “was a great ministry”. Are you not going to continue that journal?
MaryAnne: Not sure. God wants me to sing right now and this is all taking up a ton of time.
IndieMusicMan: You also have some videos posted of your participation in the “Miss Horrofest Contest”. Tell us about that.
MaryAnne: It was an interesting experience.
IndieMusicMan: You have recently been the subject of a blog by Steve Huff and a New York Times blogger, Virginia Heffernan; as well as my own blog. All three pointed out what Ms. Heffernan refers to as the Ysabellabrave “livejournal/hisprophet/horrorfest nexus”. All three describe you as an actress of sorts. You, personally, were the first person to comment on all three blogs. You made it very clear in your comment to my blog that you took offense. My conclusion was that you were a talented and sexy singer and performer and that these things were not inconsistent with your other online identities in my opinion. I made the point that it didn’t matter whether you were exactly like you appeared to be in your videos, whether you were acting, or what your motives were in producing the videos. I concluded that these things did not matter because your performances were entertaining . . . and free – and that’s all that mattered to me. Help me to understand how and why that was offensive to you.
MaryAnne: It does matter. Even on Youtube, we are lied to often, we are fooled, tricked, bamboozled. People don’t mind acting or a show, but they want to know that it what is going on. If I say I’m the real deal and I’m not lying to anyone, that is the truth. Now people can decide they cannot believe me, people can say they don’t know whether to believe me and they don’t care, but to actively seek out to call me a liar or a potential liar matters. I am not going to read your article and think you are anything but a snake. You have two possible intentions: you are trying to be scandalous and get people into a frenzy for the sake of being interesting, or you want to prove me a liar when you don’t even have anything to go on but rumors, and rumors that have been proven false! I don’t respect either of these things. If I see you acting like this and there is a comment space, yes I will tell you the truth.
IndieMusicMan: You recently attended the YouTube “As One” gathering. I read somewhere, or perhaps it was in one of your videos, that you were not happy with that experience. What did you encounter at this gathering that caused you concern?
MaryAnne: I really didn’t care for how people think of their viewers. To many, youtube is a game where you use and abuse people, cause strife, make believe under the guise of reality, all for this abstract idea of ‘popularity’. I am disgusted everytime I come across someone who uses people, especially with carelessness and a mocking attitude.
IndieMusicMan: While you are a very talented singer, I see you as more than just a singer. I see you also as a very talented performance artist. The fact that you sing and sometimes talk in the style of early twentieth-century movie stars has, in my opinion, been one of the “hooks” that attracts people to your videos. My guess would be that you are an intelligent young woman, with some acting history, a great deal of talent, and a good feel for what makes a big hit on a venue like YouTube. To that extent, I suppose I accuse you of designing your success. But, those characteristics are admirable to me. You seem to think differently. What’s your point of view?
MaryAnne: It is simple. That’s it. I have this patchwork dress, it’s crazy looking, and whenever I wear it people want to know “where DID you get it!” Well shoot, I just sewed together a bunch of crazy material and now I have this crazy dress that I didn’t think anyone would enjoy but myself. Imagine someone accusing me of ‘designing my dress, knowing that people would think it famous brand and get so excited so I could reply ‘ooh I made it’!’. Ridiculous. I feel the same way about the singing. I have always talked this way, behaved the way I do. People forget I have got a life and I am a grown woman. I am also a good woman. I have not designed anything, I just put it together as it moves along. It speaks to me that people are pretty underhanded if they think someone claiming goodness and truth must be a lie – that to me is a revelation of that individual. But no matter how many times someone says it, it is not what I am like or ever will be.
IndieMusicMan: Focusing particularly on your offense to my describing your videos as sexy, you have at one point informed me that anyone who found your videos sexy “had issues”. You are an attractive woman in, I assume, your mid-twenties. You often stare into the camera. You often wink. You often toss your hair. In one video I watched, you tossed off your housecoat in the middle of the video and put your thumbs under the straps of your tee-shirt. You have a talking video where you lie in bed with your head on a silk –looking pillow and “pillow talk” in the manner of an early twentieth-century movie star. . . and then you get upset when someone observes that you are sexy. You will have to explain that one to me.
MaryAnne: Actually, I have never done a video ‘in my bed’. I am always in my living room, I think people are referring to my sofa. As for my explanation – I am not trying to be sexy, I do not consider myself sexy, so no I do not get it. I suppose you could say it is like thinking a flower or a bird is sexy. They’re just doing their thing, being what they are, and me too.
IndieMusicMan: Most female singers and performers consider it a compliment to be called sexy. Even if you aren’t trying to be sexy, why do you find the observation offensive?
MaryAnne: Because again it is assuming something, it is implying something. Some have said, I believe you have, too, that I ‘use my sexuality [for some end]’. When I wink, it is to say ‘isn’t this fun’! Not, ‘hey big boy’ or I don’t know what. I want people to have fun, to enjoy. To know it for as pure as it is. Children watch my videos and I love that. Folks in hospital, folks in orphanages, all kinds of beautiful people. I am singing for all kinds of people: you, kids, my own parents. Then someone says ‘you are sexy and you are using that’. No, no I am not.
IndieMusicMan: How much will you tell us about your personal life. What is your day job? What education do you have?
MaryAnne: I work at Yahoo as a business/fraud analyst. I am still in college.
IndieMusicMan: Given that employment, will you agree with me, as a general principle at least, that many things on the internet need to be questioned for authenticity?
MaryAnne: I think everything in the world ought to be questioned, from God to yourself. However, there are two points I would like to remind one of: at some point it is a matter of believing or not, and that as someone who has become an object of scrutiny due to others’ shortcomings and betrayals, continuous suspicion is tiring and totally undeserved.
IndieMusicMan: I was reading some comments to one of your recent videos on YouTube the other night and I noticed that someone guessed that you must have had good karma all your life. Your reply was “guess again”. I take it from that reply that you have had some bad experiences in your life. Anything that you are willing to share with us?
MaryAnne: Life is hard, find me someone who does not know that. You want to hear more, listen to my voice when I sing. If you have been where I’ve been, you will recognize the language.
IndieMusicMan: Not only did you comment on these blogs about you, but a number of your faithful viewers also commented, often angry and protective. Do you see yourself as an innocent, vulnerable young woman who needs to be protected?
MaryAnne: I am young, I believe no one is truly innocent because I am a Christian and I know what God says about that. But I can tell you I am what I say I am. I do not need anything from anyone, but boy do I love to see people being honorable and kind. I would protect them right back. These folks, they understand what I mean when I am offended that people pick up a flower, say, ‘it must be plastic, it must be arranged this way, there must be some hidden evil about it’ and we are all sitting here shouting IT IS A FLOWER, STUPID, PLEASE ENJOY IT OR GO AWAY.
IndieMusicMan: On that subject, if you continue to grow in popularity, what plans do you have to manage your career? If everything goes just the way you want it to, what do you want to get back from this?
MaryAnne: I don’t know exactly what God has in store, though I am starting to get an idea. If it is to be famous, or a singer, or not, or for it all to end tomorrow, I am ready to move with it. I want people to know they are not alone.
IndieMusicMan: Anything else you want to say before we wrap this up?
MaryAnne: Man am I pooped.