Zo Rane“With a previous album, we relied very heavily on digital media, and found that most people now want to have a physical copy of the album, which goes against everything we’re being told. So yes the industry is challenging and knowing what is the right move and not is far from clear. ” – @zo_rane

Episode #283 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax

Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW ZO RANE
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

Music business…
The music industry has its challenges from the point of view of a solo musician. Social media is a big part of gaining new fans, and leaving it to one person is certainly challenging. With a previous album, we relied very heavily on digital media, and found that most people now want to have a physical copy of the album, which goes against everything we’re being told. So yes the industry is challenging and knowing what is the right move and not is far from clear.

Social media…
is a great source for reaching new audiences all over the world. Touring isn’t really the only way to get yourself heard. Soundcloud, YouTube, and Twitter have changed the makeup of marketing for musicians. For example I have fans in California, New York, and even Dubai. It’s really wild actually. The most challenging part to social media is the time and effort or routine one has to get into to be able to get enough out of it. Being a solo artist really highlights that, because it’s you and only you doing it.

Singles vs an album…
Talk about the differences in your marketing strategy to support your preference.
I prefer the release of an album because you’re able to develop different moods, sounds, and messages. With singles you get one shot and you won’t necessarily grab the attention of the listener in the same way an album can. On the flip side of that, singles do allow for immediate fan recruitment because they don’t have to listen to 45 plus minutes but only 4 minutes.

I also think through an album you can develop more and experiment more. My current album has a number of genres on it, mostly they all relate in some fashion but there’s also a lot of variety. I like to think that an album is the novel, while a single is just one chapter. An album has its rise and fall, its climax and resolution.

Marketing really requires the use of both release types. You need to have some variety for listeners who land on your website. Fans what to hear more which helps push the marketing of the album. But again the single is what can drive the audience to the rest of the album. I’m trying to keep a good balance within the marketing to highlight both positives. Hence why I was lucky enough to get this opportunity to highlight a single and hopefully the rest of the album as well.

Being current and trendy…
Being marketable is important in many ways for musicians, thus being trendy has become a staple in selling songs. I don’t really think trending is necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t really spur on the shifts and progression of music. It instead promotes doing what is hot now and not what could be hot next. I really believe that if your music is something unique and appealing you’ve probably treaded the fine line of trendy and groundbreaking.

I am most afraid of…
I am most afraid of being stuck doing something I don’t enjoy or not ever being able to do something I enjoy. Not being able to play, write, record, and preform music would be terrible and soul crushing.

My personal definition of success is..
I think success can be measured in a number of ways, but the one point that will always standout is doing something no one thinks is possible.
I think my biggest success story thus far is creating this new album Red Sky. I know those close to me knew I could do it, but I think I may have had doubts about being able to complete an entire album by myself. Being able to present this complete work, my complete vision of the songs is really something I find to be my own personal success.

My over all goal for my life & career is…
To never feel like I’m working. I want to do something I truly love and that thing is music.

3 Ways that I challenge myself…
1) To always be creative. It will help remove the box around me
2) To never say never. The opportunities may never be straight forward so its worth taking risks
3) To always be positive. Even if things aren’t going the way I think they should, staying positive can keep me moving forward.

I always had musical influences around me…
and I found I always gravitated towards music in some form or another. For example there was this recording my father and I did when I was 3 or 4 years old (I was the backing vocals in the chorus), and sadly its long lost now but I can definitely say I was into music early. I began playing drums when I was a kid (my first drum kit wound up in the hands of the drummer for Three Days Grace oddly) and then moved towards guitar when I was 13. I love how music just connects to the soul and spirit. I’d say that’s what keeps me in it.

Come On Baby…
The lyrics for “Come On Baby” came out of just the title phrase. I can’t recall specifically why I wrote down the line “come on baby, come on now” but it spurred on the creation of the song. I was also at the time tinkering with a new pedal from Sonuss called the Wahoo, and I found this rhythmic filter that was really wild, mostly because you could strike one chord and it would beep and boop out this pattern like a drum track. I added a dotted 8th note delay to help speed the rhythm up a little bit and that’s the basis for the guitar. So I had the lyric idea and the verse worked out which led to the chorus coming along as a change of sequence.

I also really wanted to create some space on the track, so for the solo I used a tremolo pedal that can also pan. So when I say: “here comes the show” you get this great sweeping phaser sound all around your head. Then I used an octave pedal to do the solo, which has a sped up version of the panning; it can only be heard best when I ramp the octave pedal up. It was just a really cool sound and mixed really well in production. The message of the song is to take a chance on something that may seem a little strange or counter culture. To take a step towards tearing down the walls that surround us and enjoy the show it creates. I guess you could say it’s a call to action in some sense? I think the chorus line “ooh ooh baby don’t you go, its the time and place I got to show, come on baby, baby don’t you go, its the time and place I got to show” really describes it best.

Oddly enough I always envision a music video of people dancing in a kinda strange peculiar way when I hear the song…

My debut album Red Sky is…
a collection of songs ranging in influences and styles. It’s also an album that really is trying to show that our world has become extremely difficult, dysfunctional and loveless. I don’t want to make it seem like its a depressing album or a political album, because it’s not at all, but it has a message, a meaning that I believe is extremely important for people to consider. Let me break down the tracks a little to help explain.

The track sequence really tells a story in two parts. I open with “Hold Me” which describes the challenges one can face when one desires another person deeply and profoundly. The line “I can move, when you hold me” really covers the feeling many people can feel, that deep rooted love for another person that can almost paralyze you when you’re without them. The second track “Hey Lady” is the story of two lovers who have found themselves caught in a battle of loving the other person even when it seems impossible. I guess you could say it’s a lovers quarrel put into song. The third track “Open” is a song that has great deal of meaning in the lyrics and sound scape. The search for clarity and self realization is something I think I found in this piece. It’s one of my favorites on the album.

The fourth track “Come On Baby” which I’ve described already, also continues the story of two people searching to break down the falls of conformity. The fifth track “Follow Me” breaks away from the first string of songs and establishes the transition to the final five songs on the album. Here I was inspired to write about the search for fame and fortune and how the selling of ones soul “for fame and gold” will always lead to the destruction of life. The sixth song “Bitter Wine” carries forward the lesson learned in “Follow Me” and questions whether the lesson can be learned and the path fixed. It’s also a bit of a play on the 1960‘s rock sound. The seventh song and title track for the album “Red Sky” is a song about hope. The chorus “see the world in green and blue, see the shadows when they cover you, break through to the other side, don’t you ever just run and hide” really conveys the message of this song and the album. Song number eight on the album is “Wake Up”. This is very much a political song, challenging people to take into perspective what they really have when they leave this reality. Have they done things for good or for bad? Have they woken up to the world around them or have they stayed a walking dead? The ninth song “Snow White” is, well, I might leave this one to the audience for interpretation. I don’t want to spoil it. Lastly, “Love” ends the album on a single thought; where is the love, because I still believe in its existence.

What I also really love about this album is the ability to put it on repeat and have the albums end fuse with its beginning. The story has a perfect loop factor. Though let me make sure no one thinks this was a concept album, because it really is not. The album was recorded over 2 years and it wasn’t until the end and a few different song placements that I finally found the right story, or for that matter even heard a story.

I really hope that this album reaches people and they enjoy it. I believe music is a truly natural and organic item that can connect with people from all walks of life. I also believe that we as musicians tap into some sort of external energy that drives these creative compositions.
I also really wanted to bring back some level of diversity to the album world. I think things have become very much singles driven and not album focused. Each song is different from the previous or the next, and I’m hoping the audience will say “I think that’s my favorite” after each song.
In terms of spreading the word about this album, it’s available on all major downloading sites like iTunes and most streaming services like Spotify. I’m really doing the “hit-the-pavement” approach and connecting with potential fans through social media like Titter and Facebook. I also have a website where fans can read a short bio about me, listen to tracks, keep up to date on news, read a blog about my gear and production style, and also get in contact or request shows.

I live in Toronto, Ontario Canada….
Toronto is the largest city in Canada sporting some three million people, and is very culturally diverse. As a result the music scene is absolutely crazy here, with a wide variety of sounds. There a a great deal of places to go for entertainment including sporting events and a number of concert venues. One of my favorite activities is to get outside and enjoy the weather in any shape it provides.

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
This is a bit of a tricky question…. Two names stand out most: Jimmy Page and John Frusciante. They both have had a great deal of influence on my concept of music, arrangement and writing. Page helped develop my knowledge and ear for production among the classic riffs he pumped out, while Frusciante developed my sense of rhythm, breaks and changes in playing/writing. I think if I met either of those two it would be a highlight for sure.

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