I think that the music business just like most industries
is constantly changing and we must adapt in order to stay current. Technology is allowing more and more people to use their own creativity and express themselves. I think it’s an amazing time to create music and people have more access to it than ever before. The business models have changed, opportunities are now coming from non-traditional sources and “The” record deal is not as prominent as it used to be. Independent music artists have a lot more tools today than ever before. @__XLA
Episode #367 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax : http://www.blogtalkradio.com/avaliveradio/2016/09/28/episode-367-ava-live-radio-behind-the-music-with-jacqueline-jax
GETTING TO KNOW XLA
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio
XLA (Pronounced excela)
I think that the music business just like most industries
is constantly changing and we must adapt in order to stay current. Technology is allowing more and more people to use their own creativity and express themselves. I think it’s an amazing time to create music and people have more access to it than ever before. The business models have changed, opportunities are now coming from non-traditional sources and “The” record deal is not as prominent as it used to be. Independent music artists have a lot more tools today than ever before. The challenge is to be able to connect the dots in a way that allows us to continue our cycle of creation and reach our audience.
I find it easier to get international support than it is to get local support.
There is a lot of opportunities when it comes to the music business at an international level but it doesn’t necessarily translate to a better quality of life on a local scale. We have to be concerned with currency exchanges, varying performance rights, delayed royalty payments, touring expenses and the cost of gaining endlessly “more” visibility versus the ability to be paid for what we do. We need more Canadian media to stand behind Canadian artists “From Here”; pun intended! Local commercial Radio / TV stations stick to their quotas and leave little room for our freshly squeezed local fruit (content), making it so that anyone who is serious about making it big will most likely need to export their music and reverse engineer their marketing strategy. I’ve seen many artists do this in the past but I feel that things are slowly changing and more professionals are beginning to appreciate the value and quality of our local talent. I just find it funny how I would end up travelling all the way to France to meet music professionals who live only a drive away from my hometown!
Releasing a single is a great way to test the waters in preparation for an EP or an LP.
You can write 100 songs but if you don’t spend a reasonable amount of time and resources perfecting your work and the marketing for it, you’re music might stop at the gatekeepers. Having a radio tell you that your music is not compatible with their format is different than them telling you that the production is horrific. I had a country radio station once say: “Wow, the song and music video are terrific, but we unfortunately, don’t play that format”. The difference is that if your music is original and well produced, you will eventually find a radio that plays your format or they might even suggest a few simple changes so that it fits, but if it is a major quality issue…you’re out of luck! Recording a single can also help get the ball rolling and give people the opportunity to hear your music faster without being locked in your basement for a year and have invested your life’s savings. What I like about having an album is that you can begin to build your show and have a repertoire. Basically I like both avenues but it’s not always feasible to record a full-length album with all the marketing it requires. For me, it would depend on whether I can complete the project within a reasonable time frame and with a reasonable ROI.
Social media is such a powerful tool when you use it in the right way.
You might say wait a minute .. is there even a right way to use social media ?! What I mean is that if you are spending too much time on it without focus, it can defeat the purpose; but I think its important to give your fans more than one way they can engage and connect with you. Investing some time and money in learning the nature of each platform and knowing how to best share your content and when, is probably the most valuable thing you can do. In the end, people need to be able to connect with the artist and feel as though they are part of the culture that surrounds their music. I’ve helped many businesses and artists with Internet marketing and it has led me to specialize in Search Engine Optimization. Social media is definitely something that every artist needs as part of his or her arsenal.
I do keep track of trends when I create music
but they’re not the building blocks over which I build my career. I like to think that a good song is like a good recipe of soup with just the right ingredients … but what if the world is craving chicken wings? It’s a balance that every artist needs to find for him or herself. Learning to get out of our comfort zone is definitely good practice. At times you’ll find it much easier to ride the wave rather than oppose it. In the end, I make choices that fit my personality because I know I’ll have more conviction but either way … Get cooking!
I stay focused, keep learning and maintain a strong belief
in my ultimate vision. I constantly feed my mind with positive things and I don’t let negativity live around me or within me. I like the quote: “To be great at something, one must first be good at it, to be good, one must first be bad at it”. I believe in doing what you love and excelling at it. Once you’ve made the decision to pursue something as a career, then everything else is about building and failing forward. A mentor of mine once said: “if you’re not embarrassed about your first release, you didn’t start early enough!” I read biographies about people I admire to give me courage and I take guidance from my mentors.
I work towards building a life that I see my self-loving.
It takes discipline, hard work and dedication. I try to stay ahead of the curve and share my talent with the world. Living life on my own terms also means being able to spend time with family and being able to do what I feel is important for me. We only have one life to live so we better make it count.
For me, it would have to be Michael Jackson.
I just feel like he was a friend. I would have his portrait hanging over top of my piano when I would write music and I felt like his spirit was with me. I could look at him and see a different expression in his face whenever I would sit at the piano and play. It inspired me. I would want to spend 5 minutes with him because I think that just making that connection would be such a powerful experience.
It all started with « Chopsticks » and that old « knuckle song » that no one can name!
When I was five years old, my babysitter Sheila who was a church pianist would let me poke around on her upright piano. Just like most 5 year olds, I had no clue what I was doing but I loved doing it! My uncle Fred would put on a Michael Jackson record in his basement and everyone would watch me jump and slide to that famous “Billy Jean” beat. He taught me a few chords on his acoustic guitar and I would listen to him play along to Spanish music like the « Gypsy Kings ». I just loved that song in the movie « Desperado » with Antonio Banderas, when he knocks out the bad guy with his guitar singing « Cancion del Mariachi ». My dad always paid careful attention to my natural talents growing up. I’ll never forget the first Casio keyboard he bought me with all the bells and whistles that technology could offer at that time. The concept of recording on separate tracks amazed me. It meant I could go further with my creativity and develop song-writing skills. He later bought me a Vantage electric guitar with a Crate amp and then Royce drums on my sixteenth birthday; I couldn’t be happier. I just remember recording on cassettes and recording overdubs on the playback with an annoying wobble sound my ghetto blaster would make. I began to make music with my childhood friend G and became a DJ for our high school. I went to a French Canadian school in Ottawa growing up and I would love to write French poetry between classes. One day my basketball coach gave me a Dubmatique CD and said listen to this. It was the biggest French Canadian hip-hop group at that time. The artist Disoul from the group inspired me with his incredible finesse, his rich rhymes and his fluid rhythmic patterns. I continued my education in Electrical Engineering and Business at the University of Ottawa and during that time I won the Popstar competition. After graduation, I went full time into music and I was awarded artist grants from the Ontario Arts Council. That was truly the biggest support I got in the early stages of my career and I’ll forever be grateful to the OAC for it. I started an independent record label after that and I was personally invited by the director of the professional association of songwriters (APCM) to become a member. I was nominated “Best Discovery” along with a few other nominations at the “Gala Trille Or” Music Awards and I began to travel to different countries to gain more international visibility.
Music made me feel like I was in the zone…it was an escape from mediocrity.
I remember one day when I was maybe 10 years old,
I was sitting in a Hard Rock Café in Orlando, Florida Universal Studios with my family on vacation. There was a band playing that night and the vibe was incredible as the lead guitarist jumped in with an exhilarating guitar solo. The audience was cheering on and the sound cut through the room like an array of colorful spray painted frequencies. I just remember becoming so focused and absorbed by the world of music at that very moment and feeling like I was in “the zone”. Right there and then, I thought to myself … “ I wanna do that! ”. Years later, here I am.
“From Here” by Ticli & Gas Feat XLA
The song “From Here” is an international collaboration
with Italian DJs / Producers Ticli & Gas that was signed with Spanish EDM Label Blanco y Negro. It’s all about that gut feeling inside of us that knows we are capable of doing great things. It pieces together the puzzle of life revealing the grand scheme of things in a world blurred by human nature. It’s also about “feeling the way” and trusting oneself towards our ultimate destiny. Pretty deep huh ?! Telling the story in the music video, XLA awakens on the edge of the ocean with no past or future and no memory to rely on. He begins to have powerful visions of people living in different parts of the world as he reads into their stories led by his own intuition along a path of discovery. The lyrics of the chorus “It all seems smaller From Here” hold the meaning that all our differences appear much smaller when we “zoom out” in life and that we are all connected through our joys and our sorrows. There is a contrast being made between the different scenes where the video describes how one person’s reality is another person’s fiction and vice versa. For example, there’s a scene with a little girl doing cartwheels on the ground compared with a skydiver in mid-air. The song is essentially about freeing ourselves from the fear of letting go so that we can connect with our inner greatness. I had the pleasure of filming the music video in Canada with an old time friend and talented director of photography Moussa Fadoul. At first I didn’t want to be in the music video but the Italian producers thought that I should be the one to narrate the story as the singer. We travelled between Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal and captured some of the most incredibly authentic moments with little planning and mostly intuition. The old man with the dog in the video was a poor man that lived in my neighbourhood. He played the role of the retired veteran pilot and the realness in his natural facial expression and clothing was simply heart stopping. The video was directed and produced under my production & digital marketing company XWide Tidals.
It feels as though the song just wrote itself
and simply unfolded at the tip of my pen. I often write songs that are given meaning later on in life when I look back. I guess you can say it has less of a “back story” and more of a “front story”! It was great to be working with the Italians Ticli & Gas and I always love working with my old friend G in Studio. All of us have such great chemistry. There is a behind the scenes with some fun commentary as well:
I like to think of music as being a living thing that evolves with us.
It helps to imagine that if I put the song in a time capsule and open it years later, I would still be able to connect with it. In the words of Bob Marley, it would “Stand the Test of Time”. One could only hope to write songs that are timeless. For me, the single “From Here” is the kind of song that I would be able to look back on and it would still be relevant. If I were to describe what people could expect from my music I’d have to say that I put everything into it and to expect the unexpected! Every new step forward is a rejuvenating experience for me and I like to share that with my audience. It’s like an ocean of possibilities and I want to keep growing.
It’s a special feeling to see how my little nephews ages 1, 3 and 14 all sing the song
and watch the music video on repeat. On the other hand, I’ve had an older age group of people express to me how they’ve enjoyed it. I had no idea it would appeal to such a diverse age group but I’ve always enjoyed writing music that everyone can connect with.
I was born in Kingston, Canada, raised in Ottawa,
lived in Montreal and am now back in the nations capital. Each city has its charm but if you’re in Ottawa you should visit the parliament in the night time during the summer. There is an amazing sound and light show that tells the story of Canada with incredible visual effects. The Nepean Point (Astrolab) just behind the National Gallery of Canada downtown is another great place to see. I would go there to get inspired and write songs. The special thing about it is that it is the highest point of the city where the water separates the province of Ontario and Québec. There is an outdoor stage on a hill and the national capital commission (NCC) coordinates events their during the summer. Montreal is another amazing city full of musical talent and there are a lot of festivities. The summer is packed with events like the International Jazz Festival, Grand Prix, Blues Fest and many more. It’s very eclectic and there is lots of diversity.
Social Media Links:
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/XLAOFFICIAL
Label Website: http://www.xwidetidals.com