You Sing, I Write: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last Day to Nominate YSIW for SXSW!

Today is the last day of February, which means it's also the final day to nominate me for SoundCtrl and Pepsico's contest to win travel and lodgings to SXSW! I know a few days ago I was close to the 50 minimum votes, but I'm sure the more I have the better chance I have to winning and covering SXSW for you!

I thought I'd share part of the interview I had with SoundCtrl just so you know more about me and how my passion for music journalism began.

Why and how did you get involved in the music industry?

I decided to become a music journalist after covering a Gavin DeGraw concert my sophomore year of college. I still remember it perfectly. I was standing in the front row, notebook and pen in one hand, digital camera in the other and I just remember thinking, “If I could do this the rest of my life I would!” Gavin was my first impromptu band interview, I just walked up to him after the show and asked him a few questions for the school paper.

My remaining time at Rutgers was spent writing for the entertainment section, interning at JANE Magazine, MTV News and eventually Rolling Stone. I’d cover and interview every band that came to Rutgers and pitched them to my internships. While I was a journalism major and always knew I wanted to write, it wasn’t until his concert that it hit me that I could actually do this for a living. Since graduating, I started up my blog, managed a band and act as a publicist for artists I truly believe in. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Glad to report that this excitement for covering shows and interviewing bands has never faded. I still can't believe all the festivals I've attended and bands I've met the past two years! I just relived everything in photos yesterday when Wendy uploaded her flickr page. Feel free to check out photos of All Points West, CMA Festival, Graceland, touring with Army of Me and The Used and some of my interviews here.

If you haven't voted for me yet, you still have a few hours left! To nominate me, click here.
Be sure to list the nominee name as Annie Reuter
Web site

Make sure you click on the confirmation email after your vote so it registers. Thanks for all your support over the past two years, it means the world!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Song of the Week: "Hurricane"

I received an email about NeedToBreathe a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love with their music. Reminiscent to Kings of Leon, the band blends emotional acoustic folk rock with a hint of country.

NeedToBreathe will be hitting the road next week for The Won't Turn Back Tour so be sure to visit MySpace for tour dates and watch their latest video for "Hurricane" below. I'd love to know what you think!

Watch an acoustic performance of "The Outsiders" below.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Q&A with Erica Nicole on

Last week I interviewed country singer Erica Nicole for's SXSW coverage. By far one of the most friendly musicians I have spoken with, Erica Nicole filled me in on her excitement of being the first artist to rerecord Dirty Dancing hit "Hungry Eyes," her plans for SXSW and love of country music.

"Country music is addictive. There's something about it that people just connect with. You feel the pain, you feel the happiness. You feel the tragedy, you feel the excitement. It's one of a kind. Country has always been me and there ain't nothing wrong with a pair of old boots and a cowboy hat," she said.

Read my interview with Erica Nicole here. And be sure to listen to her breathtaking version of "Hungry Eyes" on her Web site (track 4).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

John Mayer at Madiston Square Garden Tonight!

Well, I'm pretty certain you all are aware of my love for John Mayer by now. Despite his controversial interviews in Playboy and Rolling Stone over the past few months, you cannot deny his guitar skills and prowess as a songwriter.

I'm psyched to be attending his concert tonight at Madison Square Garden. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for up to the minute coverage. I'll try not to gush too much. Keep your fingers crossed for a video interview in the future!

Watch below for clip one of Mayer on VH1 "Storytellers" as he talks of being misunderstood and performs "No Such Thing."

Related Links:
John Mayer Debuts Tracks Off New Album at Secret Brooklyn Show
John Mayer Tells All At Z100's Z-Lounge
John Mayer, Colbie Caillat and Brett Dennen Impress in New Jersey
Blast From the Past: John Mayer Concert Review on

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Sing, I Write Featured on SoundCtrl!

I'm happy to report an interview with me was just featured on SoundCtrl's blog! Being a contender for their FlashFwd partnership with Pepsico to win a free trip to SXSW, I just found out I'm almost up to 50 votes!

To learn about me, the blog and how I describe myself in 140 characters (believe me, a lot tougher question than you'd think), you can read the complete interview on SoundCtrl here. And, if you'd still like to nominate me to win a trip to Texas to cover the SXSW Music festival, you have until Sunday! If the interview didn't entice you enough, feel free to read my coverage from last year.

To nominate me, click here.
Be sure to list the nominee name as Annie Reuter
Web site

Make sure you click on the confirmation email after your vote so it registers.

Thanks so much for supporting me!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Band of the Week: The Bloodsugars

Brooklyn-based band The Bloodsugars craft catchy synth-pop melodies that are bound to have every listener dancing along. Having been compared to Phoenix and Neon Indian, the band is quickly making a name for themselves. While numerous critics rave about their "pop sensibilities" it doesn't hurt that single, "The Pedestrian Boogie" was featured as NPR Song Of The Day in January.

Frontman Jason Rabinowitz and keyboardist Matt Katz met in college, where they "bonded over music and emotion," listening to records in their dorm rooms. The duo began making music and soon after, Brendan O'Grady and Kenneth Salters joined, filling out the group as it is known today. "Each member brings something essential to the music," Katz said.

He wasn't lying. The Bloodsugars' combined knowledge of jazz, soul, Turkish garage, French house and pop give them their distinct sound. Whether it's their hand clapping stomp throughout "The Pedestrian Boogie" or Rabinowitz's hypnotic singing style and "woah-oh-oh's" on "Self Control," the band's feel good electro pop just makes you want to dance.

Debut full-length album, I Can't Go On, I'll Go On, sets them apart from the numerous up-and-coming indie bands out there. The Bloodsugars' keyboard infused tracks and spot-on percussion and bass beats keep the listener intrigued. According to Rabinowitz, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On is "a modern prom playlist." Interwoven with tales questioning life, love and the loss of self control, the band gets their point across creatively.

A press release states that the album was written during a time of personal difficulty for the band. As a result, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On is about remembering there is always something to celebrate, even in the face of major adversity. After listening closely, this is evident to the listener. Lucky for us, it's bands like The Bloodsugars that provide a much needed escape. One can only wonder what their next album will conquer.

Be on the lookout for The Bloodsugars in March at South By Southwest. For more on the band, visit them on MySpace and listen to a stream of "Light at the End of the Tunnel" here.

Recommended: For fans of Phoenix, Neon Indian, Owl City.

Related Links:
Artist of the Week: Griffin Anthony
Band of the Week: Nikki & Rich
Band of the Week: The N Result
Artist of the Week: Michael Nappi

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Poll of the Week: Do You Still Use MySpace?

This past Wednesday, I attended a music panel my friend and colleague David Chaitt was speaking at. The guest speakers included Chaitt, Manger of Social Distribution at Oddcast, blogger and freelance social media strategist, Hayley Cammarata, Digital/Strategic Marketing and Product Manager at Decca Label Group/Universal Music Group, and Eric de Fontenay, Editor-In-Chief & Publisher of MusicDish.

The majority of the two hour panel covered social media and how bands can use the Internet to promote their music. While I'll admit I was pretty proficient in all the topics discussed, one comment that particularly stuck out to me was MySpace is dead. I posted a question on Twitter and had an overwhelming response from fellow music journalists as well as bands who still rely greatly on MySpace. Although applications within Twitter and Facebook help bands market themselves, in my opinion MySpace is still a huge contributor to getting an artists' music heard. What do you think? I want to know in this week's poll.

Feel free to vote on the sidebar and leave comments if you feel MySpace's influence is dwindling and if so, why? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll leave you with some quotes from the panel below.

"People are going to connect because you're a storyteller. Be true to your creation and who you are." — Eric de Fontenay

"If you're presenting things of value people will reciprocate. You're doing what you love and that's all that matters." — David Chaitt

"Find sites you're comfortable with that fit in your genre and engage fans that way." — Hayley Cammarata

"Social media is for connecting with fans, not for selling stuff. The golden rule of marketing is no one cares about you, they care about themselves. It's all about how you engage people." — Eric de Fontenay

"If you are an artist and you respond to someone, they'll see that and they'll know there's a real person on the other side of the computer. It feels good for a fan to know that they're noticed. " — David Chaitt

"It's important to know your audience. Stick with your audience and market to them." — Hayley Cammarata

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Song Addiction: Country Music Edition

If you don't know by now, I've become a hardcore country music fan ever since attending the CMA Music Festival last June in Nashville. While chatting with up-and-coming country singer Erica Nicole today (check out her breathtaking version of "Hungry Eyes" on her Web site), we both agreed on how country music has this addictive quality where you can completely feel the pain, happiness, tragedy and sorrow within the song. Maybe that's why I love the genre so much.

Yesterday, Taylor Swift's music video for "Fearless" debuted on and I've had Josh Turner's latest single "Why Don't We Just Dance" on repeat all week. Listening to Lady Antebellum is always a good time too, so rather than choose one of my country favorites this week I have three for you to check out. Enjoy!

Taylor Swift "Fearless"

Josh Turner "Why Don't We Just Dance"

Lady Antebellum "Lookin' For a Good Time"

Related Links:
Q&A with Taylor Swift
Q&A with Lady Antebellum
CMA 2009: Six Artists To Watch
Hundreds of Fans Camp Out to Meet Taylor Swift

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1 Week Left to Nominate You Sing, I Write to Attend SXSW!

Earlier this month I told you about SoundCtrl and PepsiCo's Flash Fwd initiative. A campaign to honor people using technology, social and digital media to reshape the music industry, you can vote for innovators in the music field and 5 winners will receive travel and lodging to the SXSW Interactive Festival!

I attended South By Southwest last year and discovered numerous up-and-coming bands and know a lot of you really enjoyed my coverage. If you'd like me to make the trip to Austin, Texas, for SXSW this year you can nominate me to attend! To find out more info and nominate me, click here.

Be sure to list the nominee name as Annie Reuter
Web site

Make sure you click on the confirmation email after your vote so it registers.

Thank you for your support the past two years. I'll be sure to interview all the bands you request if I win!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blast From the Past: Q&A with Kris Roe of The Ataris

This past weekend I stumbled on my journal from college. Curious to see if my thoughts and passions had changed over the years, I picked it up and started reading. I was quickly taken back in time to my senior year of college while interning at JANE Magazine and later MTV News.

I'm glad to report the feelings of excitement haven't faded when it comes to interviewing some of my favorite bands and discovering new artists. I came across one entry that particularly struck me. It was spring semester of my senior year and I was covering Rutgers' annual Springfest concert with my friend and colleague Monica Rozenfeld. The Ataris were playing and I was determined to get an interview with frontman Kris Roe. I already had questions prepared, but never heard back from management so I decided to take matters into my own hands and just ask around.

After a few attempts we ran into a band member who said he'd talk to Kris about an interview. Kris gave us the green light and five minutes later we were in the boys locker room, sitting on the floor and chatting with him. I still remember the feeling of pure excitement walking out of the locker room after having asked one of my favorite bands everything I wanted to know. That night I wrote about my experience:

"This is exactly what I want to do with my life. Find & interview & write about bands — get their real life answers to questions! That's my dream."

Four years later, I'm glad its the same dream. You can read an excerpt from my interview here on Rutgers' Daily Targum Web site, and I'll paste it below as well.

When was the last time you performed? What happened with your old drummer?
October of 2004, we played our last show in Florida, some random show we flew down to do for Halloween. I just remember it was one of those things that we didn't know if it would be our last show as that band. It was me, John, Mike and our old drummer Chris. It came at a point where the band felt like it was very limited.

I didn't enjoy playing music with our drummer anymore. He really wanted different things from me. He wanted to be the hugest rock band in the world, whereas I just wanted to get in a van and play shows with my friends and have fun. I didn't really feel like we had a friendship bond anymore. And our bass player went off the deep end and got involved in things that I wasn't so proud of. I hated seeing my friends succumb to those things, and it's like tough love. I had to be like, you know, this band's here for you if you want it, but you've got to sort your life out first. A year went by and I never talked to him, so obviously he chose the other elements over me and over this band, and it happens.

What is to be expected of your new CD released in July? Is the sound similar to your previous record?
It's completely different. At first it sounds like a different band. Musically its way more um, ah, I don't really know. There are seven people in the band, there's three guitars, cello, keyboards, and we got a new drummer and a new bass player. It's more dreamy, spacey, like a big wall of sound. It's more akin to all the British bands, like Radiohead, Muse, Snow Patrol, and Doves. We came to a point where I don't really feel the music we were creating was the music I listen to and the music that I wanted to represent me. I think that we just kind of had to step outside ourselves and be like, you know what do we really want to do and what do we feel feels really honest. And we just started writing a bunch of songs and eventually after two years off with a year of writing, rehearsing, and recording, the record just kind of wrote itself.

Where do you get your inspiration for your songs?
Lyrically, this album is like a story about questioning yourself. There's a lot of existentialist thought in it, about how in life there is so much more out there. It's my question of myself asking what is out there in this world and what is beyond this world. The title of the album is Welcome the Night and it's based on this concept that to me, everything in this earth and this planet is in transit and everything prior to our lives and after our lives is darkness.

Is there any venue or audience that you hated playing for?
Usually, it's all pretty good, as long as people keep an open mind and don't like to shout for stupid songs. Occasionally, you'll get the one random punker guy. I've learned to ignore them. Back in the early days I would get kind of irate and stupid. I broke my hand getting in a fight with a kid because he threw some shit at me, and I never did that shit again. Just don't let people get to you. One time in Australia I got pegged in the head with a bottle and I was like fuck it I'm just gonna keep playing because I knew it was the night of some Australian soccer championship. I knew it was some crazy, pissed off soccer fan and I knew he could kick me to shreds. So I was, like, I'm just gonna deal with it. If you don't call attention to it usually people will just go on about their business.

How is it playing for a student crowd?
Playing colleges is always a good opportunity to bring your music to people that sometimes wouldn't often get the chance to hear it. Because usually when you're so absorbed with studying and probably a lot of partying I would assume as well, the music seems to take a secondary position in your life. Whereas a nerd like me, all I do is listen to music and pretty much sleep in all day and play music.

Is it a lot different from Warped Tour and headlining shows?
Yeah, I just feel the crowds are a little bit more narrow-minded [at Warped Tour]. I think that Warped Tour is more of a young audience and they already have their mind made up a bit more, whereas at colleges are a little bit more collective and willing to listen to more different and daring things.

Related Links:
Q&A with Kris Roe of the Ataris: Part 1
Q&A with Kris Roe of the Ataris: Part 2
The Ataris' "Blue Skies, Broken Hearts" Acoustic Tour Hits New Jersey
Song of the Week: "Boys of Summer"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Artist of the Week: Griffin Anthony

If Griffin Anthony's debut full-length, Crazy Ways, is any indication of his staying power, there is no doubt we'll be hearing more from this singer-songwriter in the upcoming months. While he refers to his music as "Acoustic SouP," or an intriguing blend of soul and pop, traces of jazz and blues influence can also be heard.

Recorded in Miami, Nashville and New York alongside Grammy-winning engineer, Charles Dye (Ricky Martin, J-Lo), Crazy Ways has been garnering attention by music fans, critics and label executives. It can't hurt that he has shared the stage with notable musicians including James Taylor, David Cook, Gin Blossoms, Citizen Cope, Matt Nathanson, The Steve Miller Band, Erin McCarley and more.

The New York-based singer-songwriter brings to mind early Gavin DeGraw and Jack Johnson with his soft vocals and light guitar strumming. Anthony's blues inspired melodies and captivating voice intrigue the listener. Whether he's telling a girl to move on throughout "Let Go" ("Let go/Get up and go and snip the chord to the anchor that binds you") or confirming "It's not me it's you" on "Be Honest," he gets his point across.

Tracks like "Hurry Up" are sultry and seductive with slow percussion giving the song a jazzy feel while "Be Honest" has an instrumental interlude bringing to mind a jam band. The title track switches gears with a slow rap feature that is reminiscent to that of Jason Mraz. Always offering listeners something new, Anthony impresses on his full-length release.

Crazy Ways has much versatility throughout. Whether he's singing of new love or questioning life, Griffin Anthony provides much light. Watch his performance of "Sleepy Sunday" below and for more, be sure to visit him on MySpace.

Recommended: For fans of Jack Johnson, Gavin DeGraw, Jason Mraz.

Related Links:
Band of the Week: Nikki & Rich
Band of the Week: The N Result
Artist of the Week: Michael Nappi
Artist of the Week: Akiva

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I know I'm a bit late and the day's almost over but as promised, I thought I'd create a post with some readers favorite Valentine's Day songs as well as a few of my own. Hope you all spent the day with your loved ones! And to all my fellow singles out there, I have some songs for you too.

Jason Mraz — "I'm Yours"

Mariah Carey — "Always Be My Baby"

Al Green — "Let's Stay Together"

And, for all my single ladies:

Beyonce's — "Single Ladies"

For the fellas...

Michael Buble's — "Haven't Met You Yet"

And the song I currently can't get out of my head...

Taylor Swift's "Today Was A Fairytale"

What do you think of the list? Any songs I missed? I'll add them to next year's!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How the Gossip Sites Get the News Wrong

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

This week has been eventful for You Sing, I Write. My friend and colleague over at Seventeen Magazine alerted me to Perez Hilton's latest "scoop" on Boys Like Girls frontman Martin Johnson crushing on Taylor Swift. At first I thought, "Cool. He must have read my article." But after reading his post I realized, Perez didn't just read my interview — he PLAGIARIZED it.

After doing some digging, a friend alerted me to an article from OK! Magazine. It seems they developed the false story a few days ago to which Perez then picked up. Neither cited my original article and both were inaccurate with their quotes.

You see, it'd be one thing to exaggerate an article. Let's face it, we all know none of the gossip sites are actually factual. But to completely steal someone's work and not even attribute the quotes correctly is unprofessional and just plain sloppy. Both OK! and Perez claim Johnson said, "Taylor Swift is the perfect human being. She’s great. She’s such a nice, wholehearted, sweet girl, and she’s the biggest superstar in the world. My mom would be stoked if I brought her home."

If you read my interview with the band from Jingle Ball, he never said this. Drummer John Keefe did. I wish this was the end of the debacle. Sadly, it isn't. Turns out Johnson's mom died after her battle with cancer a few years back. His fans took to Perez's site to sling insults while Johnson simply tweeted "perez needs to check his sources." and later, "obviously 100% of the american male population has a crush on taylor, but unfortunately I don't have a mom to bring her home to."

At the end of the day, this was a learning experience. And, while suing Perez Hilton and OK! Magazine isn't realistic, I'm proud that I know enough about plagiarism and fact checking and came out the reliable source. Whoever says blogs aren't the place to get the latest news must not be reading You Sing, I Write!

My request for all those gossip sites: get your facts straight and give credit where credit is due.

What are your thoughts? Do you read gossip sites to get music news? How would you have reacted in this situation?

Related Links:
Q&A with Boys Like Girls
Q&A with Taylor Swift
Hundreds of Fans Camp Out to Meet Taylor Swift
CMA 2009: Six Artists To Watch

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mat Kearney Live at Ramapo Tonight

I'll be catching Mat Kearney tonight at Ramapo College with my cousins and covering it on Twitter if you'd like to follow along. I rated his New York performance last year as one my top 5 concerts of 2009 and am psyched to see his set tonight! His latest release, City of Black & White is easily one of my most listened to albums of 2009 and my cousin shares the same sentiments.

Every now and then a band sings a song that really hits home. Maybe something major is going on in your life, making you take a step back and reassess things. Perhaps you're just confused as to the direction you're headed and a simple three minute song clarifies it all for you. If you are really lucky, a friend or family member feels exactly the same way. This is partly why I'm so excited to share tonight with my cousins.

Last year, a few days before my birthday, I received by far the nicest message anyone could ever say to me via text. My cousin is going to kill me for typing this up, but (being part Italian) I have TONS of cousins so most likely he will still remain (somewhat) anonymous. I thought I'd share it with you all since many of you have been following my adventures since day one and are practically family already.

"Hey Annie what's up, I've been reading your blog and it's awesome. I can't wait until your name is published in a HUGE MAGAZINE, because I know it will be, and I just wanted to ask you if you ever interview Mat Kearney again just let me know please. I really want you to tell him how much he influenced my life and how amazing his lyrics are, they really touched me. But above him, I care more about you. I can't wait until I see the words 'Annie Reuter, editor in chief' in the 'Rolling Stone' magazine. Good luck I love you."

Every now and then when I start to rethink this crazy life of mine as a music journalist I reread this text and it puts life back into perspective. I can't wait to enjoy the show tonight as a music fan, and most importantly with my family.

Feel free to follow the show tonight on Twitter. For more on Mat Kearney, visit his Web site. If you haven't listened to my interview with Mat, click here to learn about his latest album, writing process and stories behind the songs. For his view on writing about personal relationships, being an opening act and advice to aspiring musicians, click here.

Related Links:
Q&A with Mat Kearney
Album Review: Mat Kearney's "City of Black & White"
Mat Kearney: Nashville Troubadour
So Long 2009, Bring on 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Q&A with Basia Bulat Featured on!

I recently spoke with Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat for AOL Music and's South By Southwest coverage. The site has a pretty ambitious goal of interviewing and featuring all 2,000 bands that will be attending SXSW in Austin, Texas, this March.

For my complete Q&A with Basia Bulat, click here. Be sure to watch her powerful performance of "Gold Rush," the first single off her latest album, Heart of My Own below. And those of you attending SXSW, be sure to check out one of her four showcases!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Band of the Week: Nikki & Rich

Yesterday, a friend invited me to see Nikki & Rich's set at Highline Ballroom. Unfortunately, I couldn't make the trek to NYC, but I gave the band a listen on MySpace and was impressed with what I heard. While they've been dubbed retro pop, the band describes their sound as "Lauryn Hill meets The Supremes while hanging out with Alicia Keys listening to Outkast 'Hey Yah.'" Clever, and pretty accurate. What do you think?

With a soulful 1960s vibe, the duo blends American Bandstand-era pop music with addictive vocals and catchy percussion beats. "Cat and Mouse" is just a glimpse into what is sure to be a successful future for Nikki & Rich. Beginning with music and lyrics from the Shangri-Las' 1965 hit, "Give Him A Great Big Kiss," Nikki Leonti's powerful voice brings to mind Diana Ross' classic singing-style as well as that of contemporary singer-songwriter Duffy.

Singing of her "man-eating game" on "Next Best Thing," Leonti seduces the listener with her deep vocals. "Do you know the reason why I left/I was bored/I'm sorry but it just takes a little more to hold my attention," she sings introducing the song. A tale of not settling and breaking hearts, the story involves a girl who has been scorned. "Nice girls always finish last/A guy wants a bitch so they feel like the man."

The band's music has been featured on Entourage and have critics and fans alike raving. I think we'll be hearing a lot more from this duo in the near future. Take a listen to them on MySpace and watch the videos below to learn more on Nikki & Rich. Keep your ears pealed for an album release later this year.

Related Links:
Band of the Week: The N Result
Artist of the Week: Michael Nappi
Artist of the Week: Akiva
Artist of the Week: David Ryan Harris

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Song of the Week: "Valentine"

As Valentine's Day approaches (this Sunday for those of you that need reminding!), I've been receiving endless emails of Valentine-related MP3's and EPs artists are releasing in the upcoming days. I reached out to my Twitter followers as to what some of their favorite Valentine's Day songs are and received some great suggestions!

My favorite was from Joseph Bayot — "Valentine" by Kina Grannis. With beautiful airy vocals that recall Colbie Caillat and soothing guitar strumming, I've had the song on repeat all night. Listen to "Valentine" below. Love to know what you think!

What are some of your favorite Valentine's Day songs? I'll post an entry Sunday with your suggestions and maybe a few of my own.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Q&A with Dion Roy

While he's been compared to Ben Gibbard and Jamie Walters, Dion Roy manages to make his own mark on the music scene. I chatted with the bassist turned singer-songwriter after catching his set at Highline Ballroom where he opened for Ryan Cabrera.

Roy filled me in on his transition to frontman, what it's like having his song featured in a national ad campaign and his songwriting process. "That’s why I write music. I enjoy doing it. I enjoy giving people, even if it’s three or four minutes, a way to feel better or a way to relate." Read on to find out more about Dion Roy and be sure to visit him on MySpace.

You originally played bass in another band. What made you decide to switch roles and become a singer? Was it a big transition for you?
I played in bands and I was a bass player. As time went on I was becoming less and less of a bass player and began writing melodies on bass that could have been the vocal line. I started to write more of the songs. I always played a little bit of guitar. At a certain point, when I wasn’t getting credit for writing songs it became annoying dealing with the band situation. I said, “You know what? I think I have a decent voice and I know how to play guitar. I’m going to give it a shot. Why the hell not?” That was about a year and a half ago and I’ve been at it since June. We’ve played a lot of shows since June and it moved pretty quickly after that.

You recorded your first solo album in June. How was that experience?

It was really tough. There were 10 songs on there that were widdled down from 25 or 26 and it was more of an undertaking than I thought it would be because I played bass and most of the guitar, I even sequenced some of the drums on it. Half of that album was me in my home studio and the other half, the ones with live drums; I did in a studio in New York. The mixing and mastering is insane with how much money and time has to go into it for me to be happy with it and feel that it’s presentable enough for the masses. I learned to become a songwriter on that album.

Since then, I’ve grown as a songwriter significantly. The new EP that I’m working on is going to be four or five songs, maybe six. Four full ones and two acoustics. I’m doing half the amount of songs because I want to spend double the time on them. Not having a five piece band makes the process a little bit longer, but it’s coming along. It should be done in a couple months.

What can fans expect from it?

One of the songs that are going to be on the new EP was one of the first things I wrote, it just got developed a little bit more. In general, it’s going to be a little less ballad-y. It’s going to be more upbeat. The tempos on all the songs are quite a bit higher than some of the stuff off the first album. The first album was very personal. A lot of the content of it had to do with my own life and situations that I’d been going through for a long time. I feel like I got that out of the way and I’m writing about new ideas and other stories. That’s what you can expect.

Pete joined the band in June right after the album came out and his influence is going to be on it too. He sings a lot of backup harmonies. We’re integrating that to give it a Guster-esque sound on the vocals. We’re really getting into the harmonies and making them more a part of the song.

I wanted to ask you about “Wants It.” I know it’s been featured in some films.
“Wants It” is the song everybody likes. It’s also the song we’ve played the most. We’ve played it on the TV shows and it genuinely attracts the widest audience. Actually, “Reconsider,” has the most name brand association. It’s been featured on a Huggies Pull-Ups commercial. “Wants It” was used for a couple indie films.

How did that come about?
It just got picked. It was unmixed, unfinished and it was just a concept and I uploaded it to one of the music placement companies and they randomly picked it, which I was really surprised about. One of the few ways we can still make money as a musician. People are not making money from album sales anymore; they’re making it all on merch and shows. I read somewhere that six percent of a major label artist’s income comes from album sales. The rest comes from touring and merch.

It’s really a harsh environment when you’re indie. I do it because I love it, but even some of the more successful bands out there are still broke. They don’t tour with a full band because there’s not enough money to pay a drummer or tour bus. Something has to change soon. I think you’re seeing that a little bit now when online radio stations are starting to pay for streaming music. There is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

Being a musician is a constant struggle. What motivates you to wake up every day and continue making music?
People relate to my stuff. I get at least a couple emails a day saying, “I get it. I get ‘Wants It.’ I get ‘You Can’t Take.’ It really moves me.” That’s why I write music. I enjoy doing it. I enjoy giving people, even if it’s three or four minutes, a way to feel better or a way to relate. Every interaction you have, people want to relate to something or feel part of something. I enjoy letting people feel like they’re part of something. I take a big interest in my fans too. I try to answer every single Twitter, Facebook, MySpace message. It’s getting a little out of control now. I spend about an hour-in-a-half a day just responding to stuff. I think that’s a good part of it. People are buying tickets for shows and they’re not even coming. They’ll be on the West Coast, but they’ll buy a ticket anyway. It’s kind of cool. People tend to give back if you treat them well and that’s what I plan to do.

What’s your songwriting process like?
There are a couple different ways it happens. Sometimes I’ll think of a really cool lyric and I’ll email it to myself. Sometimes I’ll write an entire song based around that. “Gray,” which is on the new album, I liked “She’s made of gray.” I liked the way that color associated with someone I knew and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to write a song about that.” If I have a guitar in my hands for 30 minutes I’ll write at least one or two melodies. I have more ideas recorded on my phone than I can count right now. I’d love a chance to finish all of them. I usually wind up picking one out of five and developing it because I’m so picky. I don’t want to put out a million songs that are pretty good. I’d rather put out six or seven that are undeniably catchy.

I use my BlackBerry voice recorder. That’s usually the first step if I’m just noodling around on guitar. In my home studio I’ll lay down guitar and lay down vocals, put in a synthesized drum beat if it needs it, lay some bass or synth parts and get the skeleton of a song together and listen to it for a couple of days and see if I like it. If it lasts that long, then I start gigging and playing the song to see how people react to it. And, if people really like it then it gets recorded.

I read that you don’t like to tell the stories behind your songs.
I’m a pretty private guy. I don’t like to reveal specific things about me. I think it ruins it for people if they know exactly what it’s about. People can listen to a song like “You Can’t Take.” I’ll tell you it’s a very specific situation for me. But, anybody that’s been pissed off at somebody or wronged by somebody is going to be able to relate to that. I prefer them to draw their own conclusions. When people see art they take away different things. I like to be a little vague to keep it interesting.

Is there a certain song you’ve written that means more to you than others?
“You Can’t Take” I accomplished something for myself with that song. That was a situation that was super hard for me to deal with. Just not having control. Most people think it’s a romantic situation, but it’s actually not at all for me personally. I feel like I got it off my chest. It’s there and resolves certain things for me. “You Can’t Take” and “Wants It.”

“Wants It” is actually a collection of different relationships I’ve been in. It sounds at first glance that I’m heartbroken. If you listen or read the rest of the lyrics it shows how I was heartbroken but when she decided to come back into your life it was like, “See you later.” Those are pretty personal and are closest to me and songs I’ll definitely be playing throughout my career.

When you introduced one of your songs, you said that it’s about a girl and how most of your songs are. Are you ever afraid to reveal too much in your songwriting because maybe that girl will hear it?
Knock on wood, I haven’t had too much drama over the past couple years. They are all old situations based on things I went through and I’ve moved past. Getting specific with them now is almost like talking about something that happened in grade school. It seems silly to get specific with it now. The new EP is going to be very, very specific and much more current. I don’t know if it’s going to be like Songs About Jane by Maroon 5 where they were very clear about someone in particular. But, it’s going to be a little more specific. Rather than encompassing years of my life into an album, it will be more current and things I’ve experienced in the past year or less. I might get a little bit more revealing. We’ll see.

Would you rather someone hear you first on your CD or see you perform live?
I would say the CD just because … you saw me at Highline Ballroom and the sound is amazing there so I could hear my instruments and nothing was feeding back and I was in a good spot. That’s a good show and people connect live with things more. They can see emotion. They can see the human aspect of it a little more. Would I take a crappy sound system live versus a CD? I’d go with a CD any day. For the right room with the right crowd is great. A noisy sports bar where people are watching the game eating buffalo wings, then maybe not. I’d like to know that from my fans. I should ask them. I’d be curious to know.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Song of the Week: "Dreams"

If you haven't listened to Brandi Carlile yet, you should. After seeing her phenomenal performance last night at Monmouth University's Pollak Theatre, I walked away in complete awe. Not only is she a pitch-perfect singer, she can rock the guitar and her onstage banter with the audience is always comical.

Whether she was telling the crowd her stories of working with Elton John (he turned her onto Kings of Leon) and her mother's love for the band ("One of the top 5 things you never want to hear your mom sing is 'Sex on Fire'") or covering impeccable American standards like Patsy Cline's "You Belong To Me," and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," she captured the crowd's attention wholeheartedly.

This week's song of the week is Carlile's first single off her latest release, Give Up the Ghost. For all of you wondering what "Dreams" is about, she filled me in last night: "It's a song that's inspired by sex dreams. That's basically what it is. They can be really inspiring." I have to admit, I've never been told that in an interview. Watch the video for "Dreams" below and be sure to catch Brandi on the road and touring with Lilith Fair this summer!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Nominate You Sing, I Write to Attend SXSW!

Wednesday night at the SoundCtrl event I found out about the Flash Fwd endeavor they're putting together with the help of Pepsi Music. It's a campaign to honor people using technology, social and digital media to reshape the music industry. Basically, you vote for innovators in the music field and winners will receive travel and lodging to the SXSW Interactive Festival!

I know many of you loved my South By Southwest coverage last year and have been eagerly asking me about my attendance this year. Unfortunately, having five weddings coming up (including being in four!) I've opted against traveling to festivals since most of my money is going to my site relaunch and wedding festivities. But, if you REALLY want me to go you can nominate me to attend! Find more info below:

"You are invited to nominate and vote on individuals, groups and organizations for this award. Nominees are people you think are having a meaningful impact on the future of music through the innovative application of online and/or mobile technology. To become a finalist, each nominee must a minimum of 50 votes. Voting is now live and closes the last week in February. Do your part & nominate your favorite company or fellow innovator and tell us why their ideas FlashFWD. Five winners will be determined by an anonymous voting process by the SoundCtrl board members and announced the 1st week in March. Winners will receive travel and lodging to the SXSW Interactive Festival and will be recognized at the inaugural FlashFWD event on March 16th."

I just need 50 votes to be in the running, so if you'd like me to attend SXSW you can enter me here. Be sure to list the nominee name as Annie Reuter, Web site and Email Thank you for your support!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Roots ?uestlove Talks Music, Branding and Artist Survival at Social Media Week

Photo Credit: Emily Tan

The Roots’ ?uestlove was on hand last night for Sound Ctrl’s Social Media Week music panel in New York. Held at the former Tower Record building, the night’s discussion provided commentary on the trading and bartering currencies among artists, corporations and labels in today’s constantly changing music scene.

?uestlove touched upon everything from commercializing and licensing of music to industry troubles. “Business and art and commerce are a dirty combination. I’ll put it this way, I don’t think I would necessarily say, ‘I’m going to write this song and it’s going to be the Phillies World Series song and then I’m going to perform it when they win the World Series.’” Alluding to “Empire State of Mind,” he joked with the audience: “I’m not going to say anyone else did: cough: Jay-Z. If he wants to celebrate steroids, good let him.”

With the record industry in shambles ?uestlove addressed artists’ needs to branch out and not solely depend on label support. “I’m amazed at artists I meet that strictly rely on the label and nothing else,” he said. “I have to produce other people’s records. I have to drum on other people’s records. I have to write in other magazines. I have to DJ, blog. I have to be as ubiquitous as I could be. Initially, I guess we wanted to be so spread out that the label wouldn’t drop us. We never technically depended on record sale revenue for our personal survival. Artists have to change their mentality. It’s 2010 you’re going to have to become a little more creative than, ‘Yo, man I spit!’ Can you blog? Can you teach a class? You’re going to have to do a lot more than spit.”

Despite the downturn within the music industry, ?uestlove remains hopeful. Witnessing the “visual tsunami that has washed over the music industry,” during the Grammy Awards, he is convinced the business is changing for the better. “I can clearly see now that labels are more or less the middlemen. If you were to tell me Mariah Carey, for a specific amount of money, will create a project that will lead people to Pepsi’s Web site where you can get 10 new Mariah Carey songs – I clearly see that’s the future. Who knows, maybe the next Roots album will be brought to you by Downy or Raid roach spray. I’m serious. It’s going to go to that. Any bug spray people, tweet me up.”

As for his Twitter addiction, ?uestlove admits a few companies have approached him. “That’s when it starts to get scary because someone is dangling a million dollar carrot in front of your face and it’s the angel and devil on your shoulder. I’ve yet to consider how powerful my Twitter brand is. My computer is always at my side on the set of the show, in rehearsal, on the tour bus. I like to run my mouth. I like one liners. I usually use my Twitter account to try to put people onto new music. I use SwiftFM to give you access to a lot of exclusive stuff that you haven’t heard before. I haven’t sold out to Twitter yet. But I will.”

While the future of the music industry and social media’s role is open to question, the artist’s influence is far from extinct. “It’s quite possible and actually achievable for you to be an artist and to make music that inspires people and for you to also realize that this is a business. If you don’t realize that this is a business it’s the equivalent of trying to cross FDR without looking both ways.”

Moderated by new media strategist James Andrews, additional panelists included Sr. Marketing Manager of PepsiCo Andrew Katz and co-founder of Uncensored Interview Marisa Bangash.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Video Interview with Orianthi

Photo and video credit: Wendy Hu

A few weeks ago I featured my full interview with guitar goddess Orianthi. She's played with all the guitar greats including Carlos Santana, Steve Vai and of course no one can forget her jaw-dropping performance in Michael Jackson's This Is It film.

I met up with the 24-year-old Australian virtuoso when she was in New York promoting her debut album, Believe, and performing for fans. While she began playing guitar at the age of six, being a female guitarist hasn’t always been easy.

“Guitar is a guy’s thing. I’d get picked on a lot and school wasn’t exactly the easiest time,” Orianthi said. “Actually, my teacher told me I should play the harp, it’s more feminine. It’s kind of like being a male ballerina in a way … I loved playing guitar so much that I stuck at it. I just want to inspire more girls to pick it up and stick at it and believe in themselves with whatever they do. You just have to follow down your path.”

Watch my video interview with Orianthi below to learn more about her passion for guitar, what it was like to perform with Santana and her experience working with Michael Jackson.

For the complete transcription, click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Artist of the Week: Justin James

Not everyone has a near death experience and is given a second chance. However, this is the case for California-based singer-songwriter Justin James. After an encounter with a tiger shark left him bleeding to death on a South American beach, multiple blood transfusions and hundreds of stitches later, James found himself bedridden for a long year of recovery. Lucky to be alive, but understandably frustrated, an acoustic guitar gifted to him by his grandmother helped revive James’ longing for life, surf and music.

Definitely a life changing event, the encounter refocused his outlook on life. “It’s crazy to digest,” he writes on his Web site. “That’s why I spend my life now chasing what I love the most: traveling, surfing and playing music.”

Listeners can hear this passion on his latest release, Perfect Sometimes. Produced by Andrew Williams (Five for Fighting) and Mikal Blue (Colbie Callait, One Republic), Perfect Sometimes is a stand out release that one can find himself listening to for hours on repeat. While his easy-going and effortless singing style begs comparisons to that of Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz and fellow California songstress Colbie Caillat, his music has been making a distinct impact on its own. Hit single, “California” earned James a “Best Male Vocalist” nod at the 2007 Los Angeles Music Awards which eventually brought him to Japan, where it peaked at number 5 on the Top 40 chart.

The laid-back title track, “Perfect Sometimes,” kicks off the 11-song release. Featuring ukulele legend Jake Shimabukuro, the listener is taken on a journey with James’ accompanying soothing vocals. While his delicate guitar picking is reminiscent to Jack Johnson, it is his vivid lyrical description that transforms the listener to a tropical island complete with an orange tree, sun and sand. Not always an easy feat for a singer, the listener can actually picture himself at the beach – feet in the sand and the ocean waves reverberating in his ears.

What is perhaps most striking of the album is that James’ voice is so relaxing and comforting, making it easy for one to get lost in the music. Singing of love, hope and heartache, his stories are moving and relatable while each track segues effortlessly into the next.

On “Deeper Waters” James sings of a former love and not wanting to see her “with another man.” Trying to find solace, James sings, “Just remember how our story starts/Even when the lights are dark/Even when we’re worlds apart/Even when you’re falling hard/ There’s deeper waters/Even when you’re feeling lost/And the rain is falling soft/Even when you’re hanging on/There’s deeper waters.” With light piano, percussion and James’ poignant vocals this is just one of the many stand out ballads featured on Perfect Sometimes.

“Missed Again” picks up speed after “Deeper Waters.” His lyrics are incredibly honest, the listener easily feeling the emotion throughout the track. With more upbeat guitar accompaniment and percussion, it’s easy to picture James in a concert setting.

Songs like “You Don’t Know Me” talk of long distance love, which tends to be a theme throughout Perfect Sometimes. “Know that I’ve been gone for so long/But you can never get left behind/Far from you but you’re in my heart/You will be through in time/Find some trust/Let’s hope that you believed in us/You think you know it all/I need you to believe in me,” he sings.

“Moonlight” switches gears and sounds like a classic song that could have been sung by the older greats like Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. A more mature feel, James sings, “Surrender to moonlight tonight/Your eyes tempt me gently to your side.” With soaring string accompaniment, “Moonlight” is one of the album’s hidden gems.

One of the last tracks on Perfect Sometimes, James sings, “All I want to be is forever free/Running with the wind,” on “Running With the Wind.” Singing in a deeper voice than heard on previous tracks, the emotional ballad proves James’ staying power. Such a versatile release, Perfect Sometimes is sure to bring the California surfer plenty of years catching waves on the music scene.

Related Links:
Band of the Week: The N Result
Artist of the Week: Michael Nappi
Artist of the Week: Akiva
Artist of the Week: David Ryan Harris


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