Jared Cotter: American Idol Season 6

•April 15, 2010 • 1 Comment

 

Jared Cotter, origionally from Kew Gardens, N.Y, was the 16th finaliast on American Idol Season 6. He currently writes music, models and continues to work on his singing career. This interview was conducted through e-mail.

By: Courtney Khan

Courtney Khan (CK): When did you know you wanted to become a singer/performer?

Jared Cotter (JC): Growing up everyone in my family could sing, so I thought everyone could. But when I noticed in elementary school that I stood out a bit I really liked that feeling and wanted to do it forever.

CK: What drove you to try out for American Idol Season 6?

JC: It was honestly my mom that pushed me to go. I was waiting tables and really ready to give up. American Idol was just another audition but this time it worked out.

CK: How did you feel when you got your audition for American Idol and what song did you perform?

JC: I was very nervous! But I got through it, I sand “Lately” by Stevie Wonder.

CK: What kind of self-promotion were you doing before American Idol?

JC: I was performing everywhere I could and trying to do anything I could to be noticed. Open Mics, auditions, open-calls as a model. WHATEVER I could do.

CK: How do you promote yourself now and what type of public relations do you engage in to keep active in the entertainment industry?

JC: Now it’s a bit easier because I have managers and PR people J. I’m a correspondent for Good Day NY to talk about American Idol, I was a host on Fuse, I’m currently the host of the Challenge on MSG Varsity, and just recently signed a publishing deal after writing the #1 hit “Down” for singer Jay Sean. Keeping busy but I’m very happy.

CK: What is the most memorable moment you have thinking back from 2007 until now?

JC: I get to do a lot of cool things. Obviously being on American Idols tops the list but I’ve gotten to interview my favorite celebrities on Fuse and work with kids on the Challenge, but honestly the coolest thing for me has been to see Jay Sean perform “Down” which we wrote together at Madison Square Garden and everyone in there knew the words. Surreal Experience.

CK: What has been the biggest change in your life since you tried out for the show?

JC: Money! Haha, it’s good to get paid for what you do. Honestly my life is on the road to where I’ve always wanted it to be. So I’m just gonna keep drivin down this road until I’ve accomplished everything I’ve wanted.

Q & A with up-and-coming artist, Nicky Egan

•April 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By Carly Totten

With over 40,000 hits on her Myspace page, Nicky Egan is setting herself up as a prominent rising singer. The Bucks County, PA native is currently a senior studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Egan routinely plays shows in the Boston area, but she has also been on a West Coast tour as well as played at World Café Live in Philadelphia.

Carly Totten (CT): When did you first become interested in music?

Nicky Egan (NE): Music has always been a passion of mine for as far back as I can remember. I asked my parents if I could take piano lessons when I was 4, and have been playing since. I took an interest in singing when I was really little, always performing on my own and eventually began classical voice training when i was about 13. After about 3 years of lessons I moved more towards the jazz/blues spectrum, studying standards, and have since been singing mostly blues r&b and soul music.

CT: I remember singing with you in Women’s Choir and Concert Choir. Did you sing outside of school?

NE: I did sing outside of school. I began writing music when I was about 16 and was in a band outside of school called “Gibbus Groove”. We recorded a few songs and had a few shows, it was fun. I also used to go monthly to a local nursing home to sing old standards to the residents. I was in various other groups outside of school, including a few plays, the Eastern Division National Choir, and various competitions througout high school.

CT: What inspires you to write?

NE: For me, inspiration can come from anywhere when it comes to writing. Love is usually the easiest to write about simply because it evokes such strong emotion in people. So many of my songs are about that. I like to take on the stories of other people and characters as well, whether it be their personal life, love stories, its cool to write from someone else’s perspective. I try to write about what’s relevant to the world and people today, and I think thats reflected in a lot of my more political songs.

CT: Last year, you performed at THON, a dance marathon a Penn State, which serves to raise money for pediatric cancer research. How were you able to acquire that opportunity? What was it like?

NE: THON was a really great experience. I was lucky to get in contact with a friend I graduated high school with who was really involved in the planning on that year’s THON. He put me in touch with the entertainment coordinator who had us perform. There were probably about 10,000 people there on Saturday night when my band and I performed. I was pretty nervous leading up to the performance but once we started playing it was actually pretty funny because I realized that the people who were close to the stage had all been on their feet awake and dancing for 24 hours and were kind of like zombies when we were playing. But the crowd was still awesome and it definitely got my band some publicity around the college. It was a really inspiring experience. This year I am actually directing the first annual “Keeping the HeartB.E.A.T.”, inspired by THON, its an 8-hour dance marathon at my school, Berklee College of Music, featuring continuous live entertainment, with all proceeds going towards the Jimmy Fund, the fundraising branch of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

CT: How would you define your sound? What brought you to the point of being able to define your sound?

NE: Honestly right now I am still defining my sound, and I think that definition will continue to change as I grow as an artist. I am in the midst of finishing my first album, and the recording process has really allowed me to take a different, closer look at my writing and analyze my art in a new way, which has been really great. I guess I consider my genre to be soul. Soul music has always hit me the hardest and I’ve always felt most connected to that sound, so I think thats reflected in my music.

CT: What do you hope to accomplish after you graduate from Berklee?

NE: I am graduating this May from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production, which has been a really beneficial major. It focuses on commercial writing for every type of instrumentation from big bands to studio orchestras to your basic pop songs. Once I graduate I plan on focusing on my music full time, promoting my album and doing some freelance commercial writing.

CT: Your first album is coming out. What has the recording process been like? Do you plan to tour once it is finished?

NE: I am really excited to put out my first album. It has been a long, exciting process and a major growing experience for me as an artist. Its so different recording songs for a studio album as opposed to performing them live. We’ve been doing a lot of the recording independently and its been really fun. What I’m most excited about is having so many of my friends on the album. I’ve really tried to involve the many friends and artists that have influenced me over the past 4 years in Boston in the making the album. We are definitely trying to tour once it is done, at least down the eastcoast. We are planning on doing a few different cd release parties between Canada and D.C. The album, “Good People” will combine a mix of r&b rock and pop. It will be out this summer.

For more information about Nicky Egan and to listen to some of Egan’s music, visit www.myspace.com/NickyEgan.

A Chat with Urban Underclass

•April 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By Joe Cafone

Kevin Doucette, leader of the local New Jersey band, Urban Underclass, sits down and talks about his band’s career thus far.

Joe Cafone [JC]: How did you guys begin your journey in the realm of music?

Kevin Doucette [KD]: It was just me working at Target [the department store] then we found Tommy, who was our producer, and we started recording at his studio. Them we met Tim our bass player, then Fred, our rhythm guitarist, and eventually found Evan, our drummer. After we officially became a band we signed up with Jersey Records, who provided us with shows. Then we recorded our first CD entitled “Stay Away from Drugs and Disco,”  which are on sale at our live shows. Although we don’t have our music available for purchase online yet, you can check out samples on our Myspace page. We were at a pretty high point when we began to go through various band member changes. This lead to getting our current rhythm guitarist/singer, Chris Rieth and current bass player, Ian Lindsay. Playing at shows stated back up again and we are doing vastly better than ever before.

JC: How does the band work together as a whole with one another?

KD: The musicians all work off each other, we work really well together as a group. Whenever there are fights or arguments they end quite briefly, followed by joking ridicule of one another. When you get down to it, its really all about the music. We are only human. We don’t always see eye to eye, but we can compromise to get around that.

JC: How do you get your band name out to the public?

KD: We got our Myspace, Facebook, and we network with other bands. By networking we mean that we become friends with these other bands. They then pass on our band name onto others. Then they tell two friends, and they tell two friends. Its a lot of the word by mouth associations that get us a decent crowd. Because we aren’t super stars yet, the online sites only allow limited promotions, but we have had people comment that they’ve stumbled upon our music. So its not entirely useless and serves its purpose.

JC: What personally were your music influences?

KD: Well my favorite bands are Zebrahead, Joe Satriani, Mr. Bungle, Pink Floyd, Alice in Chains and I could go on, but these are a few that come to mind first. I’ve listened to all styles of music from Blues to Rock, Jazz to Reggae, etc. I liked all these pieces and genres so I pretty much “frankensteined” all of these music types so it became my own creation of music. I’ve come to expect people to come up to me an tell me that my music sounds similar to some of my favorite artists.

JC: What were your big achievements so far?

KD: We’ve played at legendary stages like Starland Ballroom, Webster Hall in New York City and the Stone Pony. Also when we put our first CD together, seeing all the hard work pressed into a nice neat CD was great. We felt proud of our accomplishment.

JC: Where do you see the band going in two years?

KD: We want to create more original and inspiring music, not watered down garbage. Play bigger shows, tour a lot and we hope to have another CD out sometime within the two years. We are going to start recording again and we’ll hopefully have a new album out by then. Until then we keep practicing to make sure we can all work in unison.

To see more of Urban Underclass, check out their Myspace.


Q&A with music publicist Brooke Black

•April 12, 2010 • 4 Comments

By Kaitlin MacRae

Brooke Black works for the media company Big Hassle in New York. Big Hassle represents music artists like Weezer, Manchester Orchestra, Ben Kweller, Minus the Bear and Switchfoot. The company also does management, licensing and online marketing.

Kaitlin MacRae (KM): What is your position at Big Hassle?

Brooke Black (BB): Publicist!

KM: What do you think about the state of the music industry?

BB: Tricky question. Where some things start to fail, others crop up. It will always be cyclical, and people will always find a way to get their music out there. There is certainly no shortage of talent out there at the moment, but keeping it together is tricky.

KM: What kinds of publicity methods does the company use to promote its artists?

BB: Everything. Print, Online, National, Regional, Tour, TV, Video Promotion, New Media, the list goes on.

KM: Do you think the rise of the Internet and the use of social media makes your job easier or more difficult?

BB: Yes and no. It’s great that with so many outlets the little guys are able to be heard more, but now it’s created such a fickle and quick turnover. It’s difficult to keep people’s attention these days unless you’re constantly giving them something new. It can be exhausting, but it’s entirely doable!

KM: Where do you think the future of publicity lies? Is it more in the hands of artists, companies like Big Hassle, record labels…?

BB: I think it needs to be more in the hands of artists, and they need to hire publicists as a full time, year-round thing, not just per album cycle. That format is starting to go out the window, and 6-8 month campaigns are making more and more sense. It comes down to finding someone that believes in your work that will continue to support you in all of the steps you take as an artist.

Jessica Simpson explores “The Price of Beauty”

•April 9, 2010 • 4 Comments

By: Courtney Khan

Six years after Jessica Simpson’s debut on reality TV with her ex-husband,Nick Lachey, she comes up with her own personal show about what other cultures consider to be beautiful including fashion trends, appearence and traditions.

The show debuted March 16 and in the opening of the show Jessica states “It’s a very blessed life that I live.”  Simpson is the epitome of what people think American’s may look like or what Americans think they should look like but her specific look is very oppposite of what other countries think is beautiful.  Her and two close friends go around the world to places such as Thailand and Uganda and immerse themseleves in the culture and explore what is considered to be beautiful in their societies.

Beauty is still a social “judgement” but it is fascinating to see what other people will do in their countries just to be beautiful and how different the ideas are from American ideas of what we find to be attractive.

Ricky Martin: Proud to be gay

•April 2, 2010 • 3 Comments

By Kaitlin MacRae

What I – including many others – have long suspected has been confirmed today by the man himself: Latino singer Ricky Martin is gay.

Martin, 38, decided to go public with this bit of personal information while writing his memoirs. The Puerto Rico native became a father via surrogate of twin boys in 2008.

He addressed the years of speculation on his official Web site, saying “These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed…”

He went on to say that he is a “fortunate homosexual man.”

Martin is most known for hits like “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and “She Bangs.”

I personally don’t believe this to be such shocking news, so I doubt this proclamation will negatively impact him in any way. Martin’s sexuality has long been debated, and although it truly is nobody’s business, this fact lies in the public interest. Martin’s fans will either be relieved to finally know the truth, or hurt that he kept the truth from them for so long.

Miley Cyrus Changes Tune

•April 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Miley Cyrus

By Carly Totten

Miley Cyrus’ recent turn on “American Idol” may have had some people wondering how a teenager could advise someone 12 years her senior; however, there is no denying Cyrus’ success.

Since she was 12, Cyrus has played the lead on the Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana,” and not only has its popularity soared but Cyrus has become the focus of a $1 billion empire. Now the series is heading into its fourth and final season because Cyrus wants to move on in her career. Her future career may or may not include music – the entire premise of “American Idol.”

“The more I make music that doesn’t truly inspire me, the more I feel like I’m blending in with everyone else,” said Cyrus. “So after this next album, I’m taking some time off.”

Instead of focusing on music, Cyrus wants to turn her focus to movies.  Ironically, her appearance on “American Idol” was timed perfectly to coincide with the release of her newest movie, “The Last Song.”  Although she wants to change her focus, “The Last Song” chronicles Cyrus portraying troubled teen singer, Ronnie Miller who moves to Georgia to spend more time with her father.

“[Ronnie is someone] who starts going down the wrong path,” said Cyrus. “It’s the story of how she finds her way to being happier and a better person through faith, love, and friendship.”

While on “American Idol,” Cyrus helped contestants to travel down the right path, and while doing so simultaneously changing her own life course in order to be taken as a serious actress. Although someone should not feel pressured to change who they are, it’s a good idea for Cyrus, like Ronnie, to go down a different path with her career if she plans to become something more than just another Disney starlet.