A copy of an interview I did for a friend's research paper for Music and Business Management. Enjoy.
• Name of Artist/Band? (Include all band members names and instruments played.)
I have two of them. “J:10” (solo project), and “Vatica” (side project)
• Is your stage name trademarked?
I own the written copyright for “Vatica,” as well as “J:10 Studios,” which is my publishing name, and identity brand.
• Have you registered your songs for copyright protection with the U.S. Copyright Office (www.copyright.gov)?
Yes, as well as an electronic ID number (for tax purposes), and my music is protected and written under ASCAP.
• Have any of your songs been published? (If so, by whom?)
By published, if you mean officially released, then yes. Two albums, and another soon to be released.
• What is your music background? (Who are you and your bandmembers? Tell your story.)
I have been in two alternative/experimental rock bands, which I maintain a relationship with members of both currently. My solo work pretty much stems from the original ideas that never really fit into previous bands’ criteria. I still collaborate with ex-band members. I don’t like to put limitations on art.
• Do you have a written ‘band agreement’?
We each retain our own publishing rights. Meaning, if you write a part with me, we share that, however if there were a certain song or title, or particular arrangement that deserved it’s own attention, the author (writer) takes full credit for that part. As for money, that’s handled diplomatically, depending on numerous circumstances. You have to make for certain that credit is awarded where it is due, always.
• Why do you want to record and release your own music? (Be very honest.)
Being a fan of music, as well as art, I have always aimed to inspire and give back, just the same way I am inspired when I see something of another artist’s. Also, I enjoy doing it. It’s a release, a way to get lost in your thoughts, share a viewpoint, and of course, to vent. It’s definitely fun to have an audience, and “move” a crowd, onstage. Pure adrenaline!
• What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
I’ve always believed the basis of every song deals with love and heartbreak. Though, that’s not always the case, it is more than not. Having said that, my lyrics and music typically deal with deep-seeded emotions, my philosophy, and sometimes make-believe. It’s not always my intent to define a song of my own, I think that the listener should be able to decide what the song’s about to them.
• Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process.)
I have written poetry since 7th grade. Many of the first few songs I wrote were about a particular love interest I had. Now, I tend to write in metaphors, and allow other people to enjoy it on whatever level they wish to adhere to. I like to write about the things I’m not always allowed to say.
• Who are your musical influences? (Site specific examples.)
When I was about 5, my cousin gave my first record, on vinyl, Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” This was when MJ went “rock.” A few years later, I was jamming to Guns N’ Roses, hard rock and 90’s hip-hop. Anything that was on MTV in the early 90’s, when they actually covered music and live shows. As time went on, I got real into metal, and played in a few heavy bands. After living in LA, I came home more rounded. I can get into anything legit, and not on the radio. (MGMT, Mickey Avalon, At The Drive-In, Kid Cudi, Brand New, and so many more. These are the things that currently come to mind). I think the band “Glassjaw,” (Long Island, NY) is superior on every level to any rock band I have ever heard.
• How do you describe your music to people?
People tend to say they hear a lot of GN’R influence in my vocals, and when I scream and do the heavy-vocals, I hear I sound a lot like Marilyn Manson. It only makes sense, because that was also a huge influence for me. I also liken the solo stuff to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. He has basically kept the band together, with various members and electronic musical devices for over 20 years. When I jam with my other 2 bands (Vatica, and Fiendish), we tend to have sounds reminiscent of Deftones, Every Time I Die, Pantera, and maybe even some early Metallica (thrash metal).
• What image do you think your music conveys?
Danger, or a sense of alarm. Maybe even pseudo-intellectual jibberish, at times. And of course, there are a some very light sexual undertones. If you allow yourself to, you will find them.
• What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)
I made the decision to go back to school and finish my Graphic Design degree, but as I approach that goal, I find myself heavily involved with some major local promotion. I have been promoting and designing for several bands in my “musical absence,” which I plan to announce a return in the upcoming days. I’m going to continue working on my solo project, and also there may be a surprise return with a former band in the works. Don’t call it a comeback.
• What are your long-term career goals?
Graphic Design. Working with other artists and musicians, helping with their brand identities, and hopefully to continue recording and performing.
• How would you define the word “success”?
I used to think it was about money. I’m starting to believe it’s more about happiness, and finding a way to make things work, and making yourself and those closest to you happy.
• Are you looking for an independent label deal or a major label deal? (Why?)
I would accept an indie-deal, if the distribution was there. I would avoid a major-label deal, unless I could afford a good lawyer.
• What live performance experience have you had? (Any industry showcases?)
Just one? I’m not sure of the question, but every performance I’ve had has been packed with emotion and intensity. I once chugged 2 beers on my 21st birthday, just before running onstage, and almost threw up on the first note. That was embarrassing. I’ve fallen off stage twice in the same night. I also remember looking out from the Madison Theater, and seeing all of my friends, family, and the girl I was dating at the time, and realizing that having the band right behind me, I was at the extreme moment of happiness. Being onstage is always an adrenaline rush. I always get nervous, every time. And those are always my best shows.
• Have you recorded any previous CDs or posted any audio files on the Internet? (What type of recording process did you use? Who produced your recording?)
We went into the studio (Group Effort Studio), worked with Sound Engineer, Bill Gwynne, and recorded the first Fiendish record (“Cruel & Unusual”). We recorded everything digitally. All the drums and guitars were live, and we sampled every note and symbol off our drummer’s kit, and sampled those into the album. All of the guitars were live (metronome), and the vocals were mostly raw, with some minor vocal effects.
Of course, we posted it on Myspace, PureVolume.com, and several other streaming websites.
• How did you sell your CD’s/Audio Files? (Consignment? Live sales? iTunes et al, Distributor?)
We sold our CD at all of our shows, and word of mouth. This was in 2004-2005, and there are of course many more outlets for distribution. We moved just under one thousand units (CDs) in only one year. There is likely going to be a re-release of that album, and it will be available on iTunes, and on my personal website.
• What instruments do you play, and why did you choose them?
I’m most recognized as a metal frontman. Basically, its my job to represent the band, provide a tactful voice to what we do, both in the lyrics, as well as promotional opportunities. When we go onstage, I have to amp up the crowd, make sure everyone from front to back is receiving our message. I enjoy this job.
I like to pick up the guitar and play, as well. I have always been attracted to the guitar, since I was like 5. I remember seeing a red electric one at Johnny’s Toy Store in a glass case, and begging my mom to buy it for me for Christmas. I also recall visiting my uncle’s house, out in the country. They would play guitar and have jam sessions, and I guess those are some of my earliest memories as a child. As it turns out, most all of my uncles played music, and in bands. I’m even related to Bob “The Bear” Hite (singer, bass player for the band, Canned Heat, who played at the first Woodstock). I guess I was exposed to music at an early age.
I was finally given my first real guitar by my mother when I was 13. I still have it, a dark purple and white Fender Squire. Since then, I learned to play the acoustic guitar, and dabbled a little with the bass guitar. I prefer to play rhythm sections, and arrange my own music. I can read guitar tablature, but not sheet music. I really love writing my own songs, and especially when I’m able to give more accomplished guitarists my music, and have them polish it up and enhance it for songwriting purposes. I’m humble, and I leave the serious playing to those who are more experienced. I just like to play for myself, and again, to accommodate my own song ideas.
• What are you currently doing with your music?
I am coming off of a one-year hiatus from playing music. After returning home from Los Angeles, I have put all of my dedication into my Graphic Design and Marketing skills, and really took the past year to think about where I wanted to go, as a local musician.
I just worked with Josh (guitarist, Fiendish) over the past weekend, and we recorded a new song, which we hope to finish and release soon. It will be the first official band release since March 2005.
My other band, Vatica has also been in hibernation mode. We have plans to finish recording our EP, and release it as well. We’ve gone through a few lineup changes since last year, but things are definitely in the works.
And of course, my solo work is always being produced independently. I do this on my own free time. I like the fact that I have several projects going on at once, and that each of these projects have been planted, and watered throughout recent years. I anticipate and fully believe these projects will see the light of day, but only at the right time.
I always wanted to find success with a large record label, but after learning things throughout the past 8 or so years, I no longer wish to sell everything I’ve worked so hard for over to a label, which to me, is represented by a group of people who only care about numbers, and not my art. So, I now own the publishing rights and copyright to J:10 Studios, which will be the label that my work will be released under.