“It seems everything is in a flux right now. Borders and methods are changing, but the old powers that be (big labels and such) still run the show to an extent, and old rules are still regarded as law ” – @JakeGreenBand
Live Interview October 15- 9am et: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/avaliveradio/2015/10/16/episode-266-ava-live-radio-behind-the-music-with-jacqueline-jax
GETTING TO KNOW JAKE GREEN
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio
It seems everything is in a flux right now. Borders and methods are changing, but the old powers that be (big labels and such) still run the show to an extent, and old rules are still regarded as law and “the right way” of doing things in many aspects, even if they don’t make alot of sense in the world of today (like copyright laws that are based on country borders when the internet has none).
The pros are obvious…
Anyone can, with very few means, make some very high quality recordings and put their music into the world. It gives a lot of artistic freedom, and means that an indie musician can shape her career herself.
The cons are related, because when everyone can put their music into the world, there is no filter, and the market gets saturated much faster. There is so much clutter out there it’s very hard to cut through, since everyone is trying to get ahead and be heard. In the old days there was a filter. If it didn’t have quality or that special something, the record companies wouldn’t invest in it, and it wouldn’t get heard. Today it seems the big labels still have the power since they have all the contacts and promotion budgets, so they pretty much decide what will become a hit and get airplay, while everyone else struggles for the last few procent.
Pitfalls & Hurdles…
I try my best to better myself and my band continually, and keep working. Also I try to realize the things I’m not good at, and get talented people to work with us. We’ve been fortunate enough to get both management, booking, publishing and distribution partners who help us get our affairs in order. =)
We also have had so much help from talented friends with anything from advice, reference to a possibly business partner, to graphics design and video production. No one can do everything by themselves, and finding the right people to cover the areas you’re weak at is important.
The direct and personalized contact with fans and supports. The speed of which you can reach out to people and they can reach out to you. It’s extremely satisfying to get a request for a CD from the other side of the globe a day after it’s been released.
Challenges to overcome…
Well sheer information overload I guess. It’s hard to get active and do regular updates on ALL social media platforms without repeating yourself and posting the same stuff over and over again. I only recently started getting with other platforms than Facebook and it’s a different way of doing things that I have to get used to. Also trying to figure out how and when to post to best reach people is really hard. Sometimes you post something you think is really important and no one seems to notice, but the picture of you making a face in the rehearsal studio gets comments and shares galore. =)
Singles vs an album…
It seems the new thing – at least in the popular music scene is releasing singles, getting ridiculously famous, win awards and play festivals – and then releasing an album later as almost an afterthought.
In the blues scene, an album is a way to show that you’re serious. A single is fine, but the general attitude is “Oh, that’s pretty good. Where’s the rest?”. =)
I know people in other genres that play 15-30 minute shows. We play 3×45 minutes most of the time, and 1,5 hours at festivals. A single isn’t going to show our range well enough.
We do an album to present ourselves and show the repertoire and style we bring, in order to book shows and tours and festivals. I’m not sure if it’s possible to generate enough hype in the blues scene with a single to get anywhere, but I doubt it. One of the artists lately who has had most success generating hype, is Gary Clark Jr – and he just released his second album.
Hehe, marketing strategy sounds a lot fancier than I feel my plans have been. =)
Basically we need to get heard and need to book shows and get on tour. That’s what is going to generate the income we need to pay our bills and afford the next album, so now the album is out, we need to get people to hear it and get promoters and bookers to show an interest in us. We have some very talented people that we’re lucky to have working with us, that help us out with the things we are not good at – such as planning, marketing, booking and so on.
My personal definition of success is..
I generally say, any night I play and gain at least one new fan, has been a great night. If you play and manage to touch someone, you’ve done well.
One story that comes to mind is quite a horrible one. Some friends of mine had a baby that only lived for 3 hours due to birth complications, and asked me to play and sing a lullaby at the funeral, as they lowered the sad little casket into the grave. It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but it helped create a beautiful memory and they were very happy I did it. That’s one story I’m pretty proud of.
My over all goal for my life & career is…
To live off playing my music and generally being happy. My main reason for quitting my job and trying to make a living off playing music, was to spend more time on that which makes me happy, and less time on stuff that just earns me money. To slowly and steadily build a carreer that can sustain me. I don’t want or need or dream of becoming a superstar and earning billions overnight.
Don’t get me wrong, If it happens I won’t complain, but making a living doing my own thing is the goal.=)
3 Ways that I challenge myself and how each one moves me forward towards my goal.
1) Constantly working on new songs. From writing down lyric ideas on my phone, getting out of bed to sing a melody into my recorder at 4am, humming a bass line into my phone while waiting for the bus, to recording progress in the rehearsal studio and testing out new material on open mic nights and jam sessions.
2) Frequently recording audio and video at live shows to find out what we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing right. You can learn so much from listening and watching yourself, and even if most people think it’s very uncomfortable in the beginning, the gain is worth it.
3) Trying to learn about the music industry, figuring out my strengths and weaknesses and constantly working to better myself, my band and the processes that help us forward.
And last but not least, attending other peoples live shows and supporting my friends bands. No one can make it all alone out here. We’re all in this together and we don’t really need to compete since we’re all doing our own thing. It’ll be a very cold and lonely place at the top, if you have clawed your way there by stepping on other people.
My best friend played guitar…
but what pushed me over the brink so to speak, was when my mom brought home “Gary Moore – Still got the blues” on vinyl when I was 11, and when I heard the sounds he could make with a guitar, I thought to myself “I need to know how to do that”. All in all I guess my mom is responsible for feeding me with great music impressions when I was a kid. Janis Joplin, Elvis, BB King, all of them.
Well basically it’s about how people are different and choose different paths in their lives, and that you need to find your own and be true to yourself. I originally had the idea to write a song to see if I could sing with a Tom Waitsy growl, and I think it worked out alright. I’m often asked if it’s a Tom Waits cover, but it IS written by me. =) I decided to quit my job through 15 years as a computer programmer 2½ years ago, to pursue a career living off my music, so I guess that qualifies since we then started working on the album.
We have always been a live band…
I’ve been playing live for over 20 years (started at the jam when I was 16), and the big challenge for us was to make choices on how we would get the live sound of the band translated into an album. There is an edge and rawness to a live performance that relies on more than just the audio impression, which cannot be translated into an album – which is why live performances will always be important – the direct connection between a band and the audience. But we still wanted to bring as much of that feeling into the album as well.
So something IS going to get lost in translation. On the other hand you don’t have the restraints on an album that you do live as a blues rock trio, and we allowed ourselves to advantage of that – but only where it benefited the song. I sing some secondary vocals on “I want”, and we had our friend Lasse Storgaard do some hammond organ and rhodes tracks on 3 of the songs. We didn’t want to go all out mental with all the possibilities, we still wanted to keep it mostly in the trio domain so we kept the amount of overdubs to a minimum. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be good enough. It has to have edges and a rawness to it, but it also has to have quality. A blend of craftsmanship and talent. Something we can listen to in 3 years and go “Man that still sounds good”.
We have a very thriving music scene here in Copenhagen…
Lots of styles and lots of very talented players and singers. It seems that because Denmark is rather small and the amount of venues is rather limited, the competition is pretty hard and people get very good at what they do.
I’ve been playing at Mojo Blues Bar for over 20 years, and it is still to this day (and maybe even more so) the best live music bar around. They have live music 365 days a year, which is quite spectacular especially when you consider it’s been here for over 30 years.
I still – after 20 years – attend the blues jam at Mojo, every Thursday, as often as I can. It’s both an opportunity to hang out with the other musicians, play songs I don’t usually play, or even test out new material to see if it holds water live. Something about standing on stage with people who might not know you and haven’t played with you before, and having to make things work that still gives a thrill. It’s also a way to keep in touch with the other musicians around town and hear how and what everyone is doing.
I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
I don’t really have any heroes as such – or maybe I just have too many people I respect and admire to be able to pinpoint anyone in particular. I’ve been lucky to meet and even share the stage with a lot of very talented and wonderful people, and I hope I get to do more of that in the future.
That said I would love to spend any amount of time with my dad who died a few years ago from very aggressive brain cancer. He was an inspiration and my best friend and I miss him every day.
I don’t know. Certainly there are people who seem to try too hard, where they end up being a cliché of themselves. I just play the music I myself would like to hear regardless of trends, and focus on making quality. Trends come and go, but a good song is a good song no matter what genre or style, and will transcend time and borders.
I am most afraid of…
No one caring. It’s one of those irrational fears that all your work will be in vain somehow. I challenge myself with stepping outside my comfort zone, such as playing on the street – which is a lesson in humility but also has the potential for instant gratification if someone stops even for a moment to listen. Unlike playing a concert at a venue where people already showed their interesting by coming to hear you, most people don’t give a damn about you in the street. So getting someone to stop in their busy schedule on the street to give you their attention is quite special.
It takes some getting used to the indifference from most people when you play on the street, but if you give it your all, you will reach someone and learn an important lesson about perseverance. =)