“Songwriting is about taking an entire book and condensing it to 2 or 3 verses, a chorus and a bridge. ” Randy @BarleyStation
Listen in live interview August 26 8:20 pm et : http://www.blogtalkradio.com/avaliveradio/2015/08/27/episode-251-ava-live-radio-behind-the-music-with-jacqueline-jax
GETTING TO KNOW RANDY WAYNE BELT
by Jacqueline Jax
There are some changes in Barley Station already. We’ve had them before, so not much change soundwise except that I will be taking over all lead vocals for the most part. I already sing lead or lead harmony on most songs anyway. Brian has decided to play a lesser role and lend a more supportive hand, like some session work, some of his songwriting skills, etc., and he will be focusing more on furthering his education and Chinese studies.
So, having always been the engine behind Barley Station anyway, you’ll be hearing more of my voice from now on which is very versatile and my range is around 3 and a half octaves – more on a good day of doing background vocals for weeks at a time. Haha. Your voice is an instrument that you must keep in shape and practice!
It’s my voice you hear on songs as diverse as “Younger Summer Memories” to “10 Nights” to “No Breaking Ground” to “Dream You Lost”. Also, our drummer Steve might be doing a song contribution sometime as well if I can coax him into it! He has several really great songs that he’s hiding. haha. And he can sing them well enough.
But meanwhile, I am looking for players so that this can get back out on the road again. That’s a very difficult task to get the right players when you’re not in a major music capital, so patience is required, and we’ll mainly focus on just getting more music out there and continuing to build our fan base. I have a pretty huge catalogue of songs and am always writing new ones, so plenty to look forward to there.
But as for touring ,when the demand is great enough, then there will be the supply (tour). After playing well over 300 shows already in the last decade, I’m taking my time to get it right. It’s important that you LIKE your live sound more than just PLAYING live just for the sake of it. I remember reading about one very popular band that didn’t even tour until they sold a million records. So I’m not concerned about it at this point. When the time is right it’ll happen.
“I’ve Got News”…
In essence, the song is about learning to have thick skin and not worrying about what other people say, or gossip, or rumors that can be hurtful. The line “I’ve got you, and that’s gonna do it” is a way of saying, “No matter what people say, don’t let it affect you, because I have you, we have each other now, and that’s all that matters. Or to put it in other words mildly, “everyone can just go jump in a lake”.
The process of putting the song together was interesting for me because I was using a little different format. Instead of a sing-songy chorus I used more of a tagline-type approach with guitar riffs on the in betweens to drive it home. It’s really more of a rhythm based song at it’s core.
Doing the vocals was challenging because when I layed them down I was recovering from having lost my voice and was still getting it back. The result was a somewhat gritty type vocal performance, not unlike I have done before, but this time it was something that couldn’t be helped, but it really works with this song. I guess, behind the scenes, (isn’t this a behind the scenes interview? haha) it was an example of taking advantage of and making the most of a bad situation and making it work FOR you instead of against you.
The song gave a number of challenges in getting it right. As a perfectionist, it has to be just right you know. I knew it needed this or that, but couldn’t right away figure out what “this or that” was. I had to wait for it to hit me. And there are times when you just have to walk away from it for a while and go back to it with a fresh view. I did that. Because after being aggravated with the song for awhile, I realized I needed to think outside of the box more.
And then, the guitar sounds and bits and pieces all had to be carefully EQd and mixed so as not to hog up all those frequencies that you find guitars on. And my bass, being a semi-hollow body bass, is always a pain to EQ and getting it to set in the mix right is always a challenge, but I love a good challenge. It has a LOT of low end and can easily steal frequencies from vocals and drums and other low end sounds. So I’ve got to be careful in mixing and that bass guitar is sort of a signature sound for Barley Station. (Listen to the clip: https://www.reverbnation.com/barleystation/song/23992504-ive-got-news-clip )
there will be a lyric video soon I hope. As you know, I do music reviews/interviews/music journalism on the side, not only for artists in the A.V.A. Live Radio network but also as a contributor to Starlight Music Chronicles based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. And one of the artists I reviewed and interviewed there, Canadian recording artist Dan Davidson, has a totally fantastic lyrics video for his new single “Unkiss Her”.
When I talked to him about it I learned he made it himself and I told him it was so good I felt it set a new standard for lyrics videos. I told him I was borrowing some of his ideas! We chatted about how lyrics videos are a great idea for Indie artists with low to no budgets and how important it is to just get that song out there. And that’s so true! But an official type video? Maybe. We’ll see!
So “I’ve Got News” is turning out to be an appropriate title.
After only 4 days on the N1M (Number One Music) charts “I’ve Got News” has broken all of our previous records and popped up to #2 in the U.S.
And there’s other good news for it. The song was recently accepted to be on Bongo Boy Records
Compilation CD Volume 7 and it will be actively marketed to Asia via Bongo Boy Records with distribution with promotions in Asia (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, mainland China and more). It’s another great door opening for Barley Station
On the Horizon…
Besides the newest single, there are more lined up. I think the approach I will be taking will be to just keep putting out more singles at intervals and then before the end of the year or so, put them all together on the new album (an EP) perhaps with a couple unreleased songs. The first one will be an EP titled “Back There Somewhere” (and the artwork is already done and waiting) I may do this in volumes, like Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 rather than make fans wait long periods of time for full length studio LPs.
Let’s talk about music marketing…
Well, first I’ll say that it is important that you have a grasp of who your fan base is before anything else. There is so much to say but I’ll do my best to keep it short… but you know me. There are many ways to help do that. For instance, places like radioairplay.com have great tools to help you see who your fans or potential fans are. And it allow you to target who you are played to – channels with similar artists, etc.
I urged them for years to do a song by song target and they finally implemented that, which is good for bands like Barley station that cross between genres a bit and it’s also good for general songwriters to target more specifically. It was a good move they made. There are charts where you can compare and see what other artists those who have fanned you like. Very cool stuff. Once you get enough spins you begin to get more accurate info. After having close to 50,000 spins there, we have a really good idea which songs appeal to whom, and to whom we appeal to in general.
And there are other sites where you can see what genres or other artists your fans like. For us, there is a common thread among our fans with genres they like, though sometimes it varies, but generally it is Country Pop, Country Rock, Pop/Rock, Country Americana and Folk. Well that sounds a lot like Barley Station, so it’s pretty accurate. So yeah, you really need to know your fan base. And the best thing, above all, is just talking to them!
Now, I’ll give you my witty answer. Music marketing is obviously important. But I’m going to give you an honest answer. It used to be that this is something that labels would deal with, not so much the artist. But the business models have changed.
Now the artist is left with doing everything if they don’t have a separate label. Or they are at the mercy of a label that doesn’t quite have it down yet. Branding, marketing, making music, recording, socializing on media, you got the artist trying to do everything. You can’t make music when you’re thinking in business mode like that. To be honest, a lot of the best artists really don’t want to deal with this kind of stuff. And the best songwriters may just quit the business with their songs never heard. I’ve watched a lot go down because of this. The Beatles tried to do this with Apple (their label) and it wasn’t exactly a huge success. It failed. They should have just been making music with that kind of band you know? THEY said it, not me.
It can be stifling of the creativity of an artist. Not all, but a lot. It takes a very special person to be able to effectively do all these things. And the sad part is, that once you are doing this, you can easily lose site of the music and it starts to suck, unless you are that rare person that can dichotomize and seperate the business from the music when you are in creative mode. So what I’m saying is, marketing theory or planning is for the marketers not as much for the artist. But the artist needs to be mindful of it. To use some Star Wars dialogue: “Obi-Wan: But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future. Qui-Gon Jinn: But not at the expense of the moment.”
Artists create art and marketers find where there is demand for the art – or help the artist create the demand. So my marketing theory is get a lot of advice and let others help you so you can focus on writing, recording, playing, etc. If you have to be your own label, then outsource if you can. This might not be the expected answer, but there it is. Most truly artistic people generally don’t like marketers or marketing.
That’s why they do music, to escape the mundane world of the “day job” (marketing) haha If you can make it fun, that helps. If not, then it’s for someone else to do. Hire a marketing firm. Sit down with them and tell them who you are what you’re all about, and let them figure it all out.
So what’s our own plan? It’s a dichotomysticological secret!
With music industry business models always changing…
and no one perfect formula for today, I think it’s rather up to the artist to figure out what to do. I think going with always keeping fresh content is the best business model for today’s industry. Whereas this latest single “I’ve Got News” is a very earthy song, and reflects that both in its vocal delivery and the instrumentation, the next single is a song titled “Double Star” and is quite the opposite. “Double Star” is a more spacey and airy song with a completely different vocal delivery that reflects the more ethereal mood and subject of that song.
I won’t give that one away yet, but as always, with Barley Station, you just never know what you’ll get, but you always know it will be good and we make sure it is worth the wait. So watch for more singles to keep popping out and dropping, because there’s a lot of stuff in the works!
Favorite social media platform…
Facebook! (www.facebook.com/barleystation) It just allows more room and to say what you’re going to say. Being trapped into using 140 characters or less, like on twitter, is a bit stifling. It wasn’t really designed for serious deeper conversation. So Facebook wins hands down there. ha ha In a world that has been overcome with sound bites and one-liners, I’m still with the “hey, let’s have a normal conversation” crowd.
Just sharing what we’re doing or how we are doing it by pictures, paragraphs and print! We did a picture series on our rehearsal space not too long ago, and showed all the various pictures on the walls that show our influences. There was one with me sitting under a picture of Sid Barrett (old Pink Floyd) and Brian with Tori Amos behind him. An REM poster, a Bob Dylan Concert ticket. I thought those pictures were really interesting if the observing eye caught it.
What I love about being an indie artist..
Being able to be creative in the studio and taking the time to do it the way it should be done. If you’re lucky enough to be an indie artist with the knowledge and experience of recording or mixing, you don’t feel rushed for time in a paid timeslot in a studio. I think that’s why a lot of artists these days end up using auto-tune on their voices – and end up sounding robotic – because they are racing against the clock! They probably don’t really want to, but you can’t improve your singing by doing that. So the freedom of doing a vocal take until you have it with just the right mood, sound, style, and pitch, and all that, to me, is a big benefit!
The best advise I have ever received…
I know some people won’t like to hear this, because songs and lyrics are so personal, but… One of the best pieces of advise was this, don’t get too emotionally attached to your lyrics and song. What do I mean by that? I don’t mean don’t have emotion IN your lyrics or song, I mean don’t get so attached that you won’t change a bad line or overused phrase or lousy melody or even chop out a verse. Songwriting is about taking an entire book and condensing it to 2 or 3 verses, a chorus and a bridge, or something like that you know? So don’t be afraid to work it right. If you can’t do it without writing a novel you should become a novelist perhaps.
All this talk about being inspired to write a song in 15 minutes and it is perfect is mostly nonsense. I have had that happen but it’s really the exception and not the rule and the
exception proves the rule. Other advice? Never give up! And never give up your passion! That’s some of the best advice I’ve had so there you go.
One of my favorite past times is…
doing music reviews, as you may know. I don’t get to do as many as I’d like because, for me, it is very time consuming and I get so into it and learn as much as I can about each artist before I even start to write. I like to review things that just strike me as super special. I’ll do hours of research and then spend time contemplating how to approach the review and interview. When I can, I like to interview the artists as well and always think of a unique approach to letting people get to know the artist.
Everyone is unique and has something special about them and their music reflects that. And that’s how I approach it. I like to look for an angle. The questions I ask myself are things like: What is this artist all about? What makes them unique? Do they have a story to tell? A lot of artists are introverts and it can be hard to get it out of them. But being chiefly an introvert myself, I can usually find what makes people tick and I am easy to talk to, because I can relate. I think a lot of artists are like that, and best express themselves through their art and music.
I first got into this some years ago when I published a review for another artist that was on the same roster with my band at a radio promo company. I just did it for fun, but they liked it so much I ended up doing more, and it helped pay my way for promos. And I found I was pretty good at it. So now I’m doing stuff for various publications and blogs, etc., mostly freelance, as I am fiercely independent and don’t like people calling the shots on what I write.