SOSspotlight gives us a chance to showcase the things we enjoy and think you should know about.
This week is our good friend Drew DeFour. Drew is a songwriter and all round good egg based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He regularly tours the US and Europe as a solo artist as well as being one of America’s foremost duelling piano players.
To find out more about Drew go to www.DrewDeFour.com
SOS: What was the last project you worked on?
"Humanist Pop" - music a la The Band with lyrics that support my current life’s thesis of "Health, Happiness, and Sustainability" (Humanism). I recorded the album with some of the most talented live/session musicians from my days at University of Michigan: Joe Dart, Theo Katzman, Tomek Miernowski, and Woody Goss. Not to mention guest vocalist Kin Curran who is not only a stone cold fox, but a fantastic singer. The band played the whole album live in the studio over 2 days and I recorded the vocals in my home studio later on. Mixed by Geoff Michael and Mastered by Devin Kerr, I’m very happy with the result!
SOS: What was the last record you bought and why?
Well, my wife bought me “Small Change” by Tom Waits on vinyl… very cool. She knew it was my favorite Tom Waits album from the 70’s - the perfect combination of his Beat Poet/Jazz style with some incredibly beautiful ballads like “Tom Traubert’s Blues (4 Sheets the Wind in Copehagen)” and “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart.” This is one of the best records ever made in terms of consistently great songs, great performances (all done live in a sound studio in Hollywood with Waits, a sax/bass/drums Jazz Trio, and a symphony), and flow. Super happy with the purchase, super happy I’m married to such a thoughtful and tasteful woman.
SOS: If you could work with one artist, dead or alive (performer, writer, producer etc) who would it be?
How about besides Tom Waits, because that’s too obvious?
Performer: ?uestlove from The Roots. He is what all computers will always be trying to emulate in terms of creating a “Groove” (metronomic time is robotic, human groove is… well human).
Writer: I’d want to work with Trey Parker from South Park on anything (Comedy, Music, etc.) He is probably my favorite living writer and one of the most evolved moral thinkers of our time.
Producer: Greg Dulli from The Afghan Whigs. I could write an essay on why he’s a beautiful human being.
(I know you said ONE artist… but that’s not fair).
SOS: what is your favourite musical tool? Instrument, pedal, processor?
Piano… I’ve played it so long it’s almost an extension of myself. When I need to express anything, I get on the piano and I can say it. It’s taken literally 28 of my 31 years of life to get this way and I still improve every year, but it’s truly the instrument I can communicate most eloquently with - though I do play guitar, bass, drums, mandolin, harmonica, etc. Piano is THE instrument for me.
SOS: What is your earliest musical memory?
I remember singing “Somewhere Out There” from “An American Tail” in Greektown, Detroit when I was 5 I think - these guys were making fudge in front of a large group of people and they were singing and they asked if anyone could sing so I volunteered to sing my favorite song at the time. I’d find out years later that it was written by James Horner who is one of my favorite movie composers (“Field of Dreams” is such a beautiful score, and for every guy out there who thinks they are crying every time they watch it JUST because of the relationship between Kevin Costner and his dad at the end of the movie… well, don’t forget that incredible music building in the background, that’s probably what gets to ME every time).
SOS: In your opinion, what song that you have heard is “perfect”; you’d never change a thing?
Once again, let’s just not include EVERY Beatles song…
So, probably “Somewhere” by Bernstein/Soundheim. That song has melody, chord changes, and perfectly eloquent lyrics that will probably always be relevant to the human race as long as we exist.
Interview by Dan Cooper
We here at SOS Studio are all about collaboration. We write and record a new song every week and we have exciting things happening over on SOSstudio.co which will enable us to help bring other musicians’ ideas to life by recording for them.
Now we are beginning a new feature called ‘SOSspotlight’. It gives us a chance to showcase the things we enjoy and and that we think you should know about; new sounds we have come across, new bits of tech we like use. Perhaps the most exciting thing about SOSspotlight is the fact that we get to draw attention to other artists and persons of interest in the industry so that you get to realise how great they are and become more aware of their work.
We will be talking to writers, composers, producers…anyone who has anything to say about their creative endeavours. Perhaps even you?
If you have something to shout about, or even if you don’t, and just want a chance to tell us a little more about yourself get in touch. We love new friends and enjoy helping to promote their work.
SOSspotight starts tomorrow the first artist in the spotlight is Drew De Four. A fantastic singer/songwriter and one of the best duelling piano players in America.
Our friend Rachel Potter is successful. There is no doubt about it. She has appeared on Broadway and in musical theatre in some incredible roles, she has appeared on national TV in the US on the X-Factor and is a talented songwriter. Now she producing her own album, and she needs our help.
We here at SOS Studio believe that anyone who works that hard and do that kind of work is a huge success. However, we are different to most people who buy music, go to the theatre or watch TV. We understand the journey that each and every performer, producer, writer…whatever they are, makes before you see them or hear them or their work. Often it is not glamorous or lucrative but damn hard work and sometimes financially unrewarding.
Rachel recently gave her followers an insight into the world ‘behind the curtain’. She wrote a piece explaining that when it comes to success, perception is different to reality and success certainly cannot be equated to fame.
Because of this shiny perception television gives, some folks think because I was on a tv show for a moment, that my life must now be easy and every door open to me. This is just not the truth. In fact, quite the opposite. I’m still bartending to pay the bills, living paycheck to paycheck.
In fact, I am pretty sure if you ask Rachel, or anyone in the industry who is worth anything, they have no desire to be famous. Rachel’s popularity and exposure on a national platform is merely a by product of her hard work to succeed. She merely wants to write good songs and let them be heard. That is the true essence of any performer, not to want to be ‘seen’ or ‘famous’ but to create. To create and be able to to what they have worked their whole life to do.
People’s assumption is that because you have seen them on TV, they must be rich and have a massive entourage of people behind them to do all the work for them. For Rachel, like so many others, this is not the case.
I am an unsigned, independent artist, which means I pay for EVERYTHING I do. Touring, albums, paying musicians, merch, music videos. It’s all on my shoulders to make this dream happen, until hopefully one day- someone will take financial reigns. Until then, I’m a one woman army!
But she wouldn’t want it any other way. None of us would. If a truly great and honest performer wanted it all to happen over night they would have given up years ago. There is not enough space in an already over populated industry for people who are not willing to work for it.
Rachel is working hard at the moment to produce her album. It is not an easy process and she needs help. We all have the chance to be a part of something right from the start here. We can see this album unfold in front of us as she records it through Pledge Music. And not only that, but part of the proceeds that are collected will be donated to charity so not only are you helping new music and an emerging artist but giving something back as well.
We urge you to pledge to help Rachel. Not just because it helps her but because of what it represents. We are all able to sit at home every week and see these talented artists perform on X-Factor, for example or listen to songs on the radio but when it comes down to it, where does it come from? If you want to be able to hear a diverse, vibrant range of music then we should not always go for what the major labels offer us. Independent artists are where it is at! They are the grass roots. They are the pioneers putting not just their wallets on the line but their hearts and souls.
You can pre-order Rachel’s album ‘Not So Black and White’ for the price of a beer or two and it won’t give you a hangover.
Click here to find out more.
By Dan Cooper for SOS Studio