An Authentic Producer

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After finding myself in some tough positions on this journey, the search for a production team became fraught with some intrepidation. Many Artists lose the only hard-earned investment they have on a production that gets carried away to an end that is gravely short of fulfilling their vision for their project, or even worse, to no end at all. I was asked more than once, “Why don’t you produce your own record?” Right. I barely know Garage Band, and at the time I was told that the learning curve to make my own quality recordings was stiff. I felt certain that kind of endeavor would have been much more discouraging than it’s worth and it would have taken my focus away from my singular purpose of songwriting. So I began a long process of reaching out to producers, studio owners, and audio-engineers in my local area, and sending original music samples all over the place, until I had production scenarios anywhere from $50.00/hour to $5000/song, with audio engineers from age 26 to 60+.

At first, the very humble Nick Bariluk with his small studio in the sticks of Danbury, Connecticut, seemed like a least likely candidate. But I found Nick to be a rare gem. His small studio was fantastically outfitted and his character and skill proved itself in no time. Nick was totally professional and grounded from the beginning of our interactions. He possessed an evident energy and excitement over my project that was not over-the-top, but on par with its size and nature. It wasn’t easy to find that balance in addition to someone who would take me seriously and instill a trust with me from the get-go; someone who cared more about my vision than his own.

It is important to know some of a Producer’s affiliations to establish his credibility. However, Nick never opened our initial dialogues with name-dropping. It took several weeks to happen upon findings that Nick had a touring and recording history with the Police, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, and an invite from Tina Turner, as well as a band that had hit songs of its own. In addition to hanging out with the likes of Simon & Garfunkel’s Manager, I’m sure Nick has more untold stories that I will dig up over time.

So how did I find Nick?

First, I looked for consistent and easy communication from earliest interactions. Because of past injuries, it was of utmost importance to look for someone who demonstrated transparency and reliability. COMMUNICATION is that which everything else in the relationship is built upon and was of utmost importance on my search for the right guy. Nick read ALL of my emails and texts, not the first couple sentences, and addressed them in full. He listened intently and patiently to my ADHD meanderings about my vision and tried hard to employ them. When it came to employing my musical ideas, he did so readily instead of trying to compete with his own. Once he “got” me, he developed a sense for my taste and tried to build on it with his own ideas. And he always had an ego-less way about presenting his stuff to me, full of openness to make changes I requested or try different ideas on each piece. Once communication and money-related issues were established and forth-going, the project could fly.

Second, speaking of MONEY, the past taught me to look for someone who did not insist on having control over it. Though there is nothing uncommon about paying a reasonable up-front deposit and negotiating written agreements, I appreciated the fact that Nick did not require that. (By the way, I’ve learned that many people in our litigation culture who promise a money-back guarantee, even in writing, may have a lawyer ready to legally shove satisfaction down their clients’ throats rather than true intent to refund or create genuine satisfaction. Be careful!).  I never signed a contract or paid a large up front deposit. Fees paid to other parties did not pass through Nick’s hands. Though Nick brought in and scheduled musicians, he never insisted on using his people; and I, as the Artist and paying client, negotiated and paid each party independently. I loved the freedom in the whole process.

Third, I looked for someone who could play me his previous productions without hesitation. By the way, I was never his only client. He worked a couple other projects along side of mine and had regular gigs as well.

Fourth, I was happy to find in Nick someone who took pride in his studio and equipment as an investment with a growing vision for future expansion. Though his studio houses some of the best vocal mics on the market, Nick took no offense to my choice to test out a vintage mic from another studio. His stuff more than compared.

I consider this next point a bonus and an important part of Nick’s character: I was pleased to find Nick as someone who was not afraid to prioritize the truly important things in life, putting them ahead of my project when necessary, to keep his heart, soul, and mind in a good place, free from regrets that could also have become mine.

It is a privilege and honor to have worked with Nick and to be able to share his awesome work with you through my project. I would refer Nick to any artist of any age. Thank you for everything Nick! I hope all these lovely readers will buy our record so we can record more!

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My Story

Here is a letter I just completed to a generous Screenwriter who wants to submit my music to a large Indie label management company (her Son is a manager).  I think it kind of says all about where I’ve been, where I am now, and maybe where I’m going… the Photo is of My house in Prague. We rented the top floor. Read the history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Mysliveček;  My schnoodle, Sgt Pepper is in the photo- we’ll blog about him later…)

Hello Screenwriter and Happy Holidays!

What a wonderful privilege to have met you at [our mutual friend’s] show.  It was so kind of you to express interest in my music and offer to share it with your Son at MAKE YOU FAMOUS Label Co. (MYF) !  I happen to know of another Adult Contemporary Female Artist similar to me that was recently signed by MYF. Prior to MYF’s offer, the Artist made a sizeable monthly investment of her own with a social media management company who helped her to achieve significant connections and exposure to a targeted audience and an exploding social media following. I mention this because your Son should know that I am at GROUND ZERO and have made NO investment in any sort of assistance thus far. As the New Year approaches I am heavily contemplating this as I have worked tirelessly behind the computer to set-up a sparce but thoughtfully designed online presence, and I would like to keep adding and filling up new platforms with quality content, bookings, and an increasing following. I will take any help I can get as I’d love to get away from the computer now, and back to the piano and the venues!  He should also know that I have a large catalogue of songs, only 6 of which were fully produced, and I am open to other signed Artists using my material. 

My Story: My first fully produced record, VELVETEEN, was inspired and written in the old medieval “City of Dreams”: Prague, Czech Republic. While living in Prague as an American expat I had a prime opportunity to reside on Prague’s “classical music row” and process all of the natural emotions that go with drastic life change. In that novel setting, the convergence of atmosphere and unique personal circumstances became a kind of destiny as I found that real writing was a gift, and almost unintentional, just like the treasure trove of musical influences I’ve collected over the years.

After several months of composing, I intrepidly tested my music on the tourist thoroughfare outside of my building as a street musician.  To my surprise, small crowds gathered, and soon I was receiving invites from local establishments to play evening gigs. This continued until my departure from Prague upon my last performance: A corporate event where I entertained executives with 2.5 hours of original music in the Hilton’s Riverfront grand lobby and received an award for my art. In stolen attendance were local noteworthy musicians such as Greg Darling (Julian Lennon band) and Dan Reed of Dan Reed Network. My next engagement could have been a TV spot on a Czech Designer’s grand opening event, but the opportunity was lost due to a sudden move back to the US. All of this took place in about a year and a half.

As a Screenwriter, you might be interested to hear that listeners have described my songs as emotionally stirring, with classic, sort of epic stories told with a comedic spin or picturesque metaphor. I humbly receive music comparisons to Kate Bush influenced artists, such as Tori Amos and I feel delighted and peacefull when I hear the word most often used to describe my music: “Beautiful” (what music should be). …. I quote a letter I received from an attendee after my last performance: “… tears were streaming down my face.  Your voice is so healing.  Thank you.” For me this is what it’s all about.

As this endeavor has evolved, my formulating mission statement is becoming something like this: I want to repair breaches with this music; to positively break, rebuild, and restore with timely, seasoned messages put to deeply carving melody. [Hint: lyric below.]

I have worked with some great mentors and musicians, and found myself in amazing places with amazing people in my short journey thus far; none of these experiences could I have purposely orchestrated.  Meeting you is one of numerous “non-coincidences” along this path that have propelled, supported, and insured that this music will spread and fulfill its cosmic purpose in my own life and the lives of its listeners.   Thank you again for your support and for sharing my music with your Son at MYF!

Lyric from a forthcoming title:

“…They pour plaster into molds making…concrete souls,

       I take my rock and chisel, and I carve to the middle

I’m calling for help from the heavens above

Dancing on the earth for rain and pulling down the stars to fill the

Hole in your pocket and the scars we’re made of

I’m a half-empty jar, but there’s

A hand in my glove

A hand in my glove

A hand in my glove…”

The Mud Shoot

Originally inspired by the “stick in the mud” lyric in Crazy, I could also apply the mud photos to the pristine Velveteen Rabbit who had to get down and dirty on her journey to becoming real. Hair and make-up were self-applied, dress purchased from the local Goodwill; and a big thank you to my good friend, Gina Little, who has a hobby-like interest in photography and took the pictures for fun, catching good shots between ew’s, ugh’s, and lots of laughter.