Friendly Friday #1 - Drew De Four

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Friendly Friday is our new series in which we get to know some of our fellow artists a little better.The idea is simple.  We give them 6 questions to answer and they answer them!

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First up 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

imageSOS Studio is an international network of professional studio musicians, composers, vocalists, lyricists, and mixers collaborating remotely to provide custom creative content for clients and guest artists.
Visit SOSstudio.co for more information

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Dan Cooper is an actor, musician and long time collaborator with SOS Studio.  Often found travelling the world, banging on drums and playing guitar.
@SirDanielCooper

New Blog Series - Friendly Fridays

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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.  Being as friendly as we are means we have picked up some pretty interesting and talented friends along the way so we thought we would share them with you.

We are beginning a new feature called ‘Friendly Fridays’.  Each week we catch up with one of our friends from the industry and ask them a few questions to find out a little more about them and what they are working on.

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.

Friendly Friday starts tomorrow and our first friend is Drew De Four.  A fantastic singer/songwriter and one of the best duelling piano players in America.

Here’s our 6th song of the summer!  A beautiful folksy ballad coming your way from our founder, Jordan Woods-Robinson, with lyrics by long-time collaborator, Cynthia Woods.  Check out their story below.

SOS: What were your main influences for writing this song?
JWR: All of my early songs were written as a Mother/Song team. I would write music on my Mom’s guitar, an Ovation, (that eventually snapped at the neck because I didn’t know to change the strings) and she would write poetry and lyrics. Through the years, we’ve continued to collaborate but, when she came to me with these lyrics, I got really excited.  They’re written about our farm in the hills of Tennessee that has served as an animal rescue refuge for the past 30 years.  The farm has seen and cared for countless animals, from household pets to exotic animals, and my Mom is the heart and soul of the place.  

SOS: Has this idea been in your head for a while or did you think it up especially for SOS?
JWR: When she gave me the lyrics, she said that she was inspired by Sting’s “Fields of Gold.”  I started out writing with that in mind but it quickly took on a life of its own, as these things do.  I wanted it to have a nice folk feel to it and I wanted the song to feel like a hug, a circle of protection, a force field.  With my Mom’s lyrics in place, I sat down and had this written in a couple of hours.  

SOS: Given that this is a collaboration, were there any surprises with the final production from how you envisioned it?
JWR: I told the collaborators about the “Fields of Gold” reference and I love where they took it.  I would certainly put them on the same mixtape.  

SOS: Describe your experience of making music with people who are not even in the same room as you?
JWR: This was my first time working with Ben Levy as a mixer and I think he did a fantastic job.  He has a great ear and the very first mix he shared with me was nearly ready.  He is a great storyteller with his mix and that allowed me to just step in and help sculpt a couple of moments.

SOS: Do you have a website where our audience may go to hear more of your music?
JWR: The majority of the songs I’ve written recently are on SongsOnSunday.com but I also have a bluegrass album, Red Haired Boy, available on iTunes.

Interview by: Dan Cooper

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The latest song in our Summer session is from Shannon Fayth.  This is Shannon’s second tune this Summer and it is just as brilliant as her first.

It’s a soulful rocking tune mixed by one of our newest collaborators, Dave Traver.  You’ve heard him on bass guitar already this session but this is his first time ‘behind the desk’ for us.

SOS: What were your main influences for writing this song?
SF: This song was written 7 years ago. I had just moved to Florida, and I think I was having a little trouble adjusting to a new place. I had no musical contacts, no friends and the situation really got me down, a feeling that resonated in me from times past.

SOS: Has this idea been in your head for a while or did you think it up especially for SOS?
SF: My song ideas happen in the moment that I pick up an instrument and write it, usually because of a strong feeling. In the case of this song the feeling for me was loss. None of my songs are crafted per-say. It is more of an organic happening than a cognizant doing. I open my mouth and I write down the words and melody that best match how I feel.

SOS: Given that this is a collaboration, were there any surprises with the final production from how you envisioned it?
SF: I was especially nervous about this song because it was such a personal one for me. I like to hide behind themes and concepts so I don’t leave myself to exposed when it comes to lyrics. So when I released it to the community of collaborators I was nervous that it was too personal and somehow the song would not be received well. The exact opposite happened, the final product is amazing and exceeded my expectations. I love it.

SOS: Describe your experience of making music with people who are not even in the same room as you?
SF: It is kinda like falling backwards and hoping someone catches you. There is a trust that others will contribute to ones music that enhances and conveys the emotion and energy of the song, but also allows the collaborator themselves to contribute their own interpretation of how they themselves experience the song.

SOS: You can keep up to date with Shannon on twitter @ShannonFayth

Interview By Dan Cooper

imageSOS Studio is an international network of professional studio musicians, composers, vocalists, lyricists, and mixers collaborating remotely to provide custom creative content for clients and guest artists.
Visit SOSstudio.co for more information
imageDan Cooper is an actor, musician and long time collaborator with SOS Studio.  Often found travelling the world, banging on drums and playing guitar.
@SirDanielCooper

Rachel Potter: ‘Fame’ = Success?

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.

Support music!

By Dan Cooper for SOS Studio

imageDan Cooper is an actor, musician and long time collaborator with SOS Studio.  Often found travelling the world, banging on drums and playing guitar.
@SirDanielCooper

The fourth song in our Summer, is a thoughtful, folky tune from Ben Levy. A new collaborator with SOS, Ben wrote this beautiful ballad and had the following to say about it:

SOS: What were your main influences for writing this song?

BL: If the ocean is raging, and theres a massive storm, and it’s too far to swim or sail back to land, the only option is to dive down. At some point, if you go deep enough, it’s calm. That was the idea behind this tune. 2 people stuck in the middle of the ocean, and it’s not going to end well, but instead of fighting it, they embrace it, and go peacefully.

SOS: Has this idea been in your head for a while or did you think it up especially for SOS?

BL: The chords have been in my head forever, and once I knew I had a deadline, I knew I needed to come up with something. The chords on changes in the song now are very different than what I started with. But after playing them over and over, trying to get a song out of them, they slowly changed into the form that you hear in Rougher Seas.

SOS: Given that this is a collaboration were there any surprises with the final production from how you envisioned it?

BL: I was very surprised when Cory sent me the mix. It’s so elegant and soft, much different than the folk, jangley version I sent out. The difference between the two are night and day, in the best possible way. It leaves so much to the imagination, letting the lead instruments just sort of dance around the song. It’s a great take on the song, props to Cory for exploring that vision.

If you want to learn more about Ben’s work as a studio engineer, then visit his website at www.benjaminalanlevy.com/

Instantly one of our favorites, Ben is sure to have a great career with SOS.

Thanks for listening!

imageSOS Studio is an international network of professional studio musicians, composers, vocalists, lyricists, and mixers collaborating remotely to provide custom creative content for clients and guest artists.
Visit SOSstudio.co for more information

imageDan Cooper is an actor, musician and long time collaborator with SOS Studio.  Often found travelling the world, banging on drums and playing guitar.
@SirDanielCooper

This week’s offering, the third in our current session in which we create a new song each week, comes from actor, musician and Songs on Sunday Founder, Jordan Woods-Robinson.

SOS: What were your main influences for writing this song?

JWR: My songwriting usually starts with a certain chord or rhythm I like, then the melody forms on top of that.  With this song, I was playing around with some tuning options on my guitar and I settled on this drone.  A melody of ooh’s and aah’s quickly turned into “And I see the sky fallin’ like a cannonball.”  That’s where the song lived for quite a while, with just that 1 line.  Then I had to create a world around that line that would support it and make sense.  In the end, the lyrics are about a man who is emotionally driven, so much that his emotions usually shape how he sees the world, and his only way to see things clearly is by connecting with his loved one.  

SOS: Has this idea been in your head for a while or did you think it up especially for SOS? 

JWR: The basic chords and melody for the chorus came to mind a while back but, for the most part, this song was written specifically for the SOS collaboration.  I hit a bit of a dead end with where it should go so I wanted to send it out to these awesome collaborators to see where they would take it.

SOS: Given that this is a collaboration were there any surprises with the final production from how you envisioned it?

JWR: I’m so excited with how this song turned out!  When I wrote it, it sounded great in my head but then I hit a dead end when I started recording it.  I couldn’t figure out where to take it next so, when I sent it to the collaborators, it was very bare bones with just my voice and an acoustic guitar.  When I heard the final mix, I was so excited to hear how many different ideas were laid down that would never have even crossed my mind.  The SOS process totally took this song to the next level!

SOS: Describe your experience of making music with people who are not even in the same room as you?

JWR: If I’d had this service when I was growing up and first starting to write music, it would have completely changed how I view the music scene.  I can fake a lot of instruments but there is something so amazing about knowing that each person who lays down a track is a master of that instrument.  So you’re going to get the best possible version from their mind.  And I think that’s the main thing… If I were doing this myself, all the tracks would be from my mind so they would all start to sound similar.  Working with collaborators spread out all over, we’re taking all the best ideas and putting them into one song.

SOS: Do you have a website where our audience may go to hear more of your music?

JWR: The majority of the songs I’ve written recently are on SongsOnSunday.com but I also have a bluegrass album, Red Haired Boy, available on iTunes.

imageSOS Studio is an international network of professional studio musicians, composers, vocalists, lyricists, and mixers collaborating remotely to provide custom creative content for clients and guest artists.
Visit SOSstudio.co for more information



imageDan Cooper is an actor, musician and long time collaborator with SOS Studio.  Often found travelling the world, banging on drums and playing guitar.
@SirDanielCooper
This week’s offering, the second in our current session, comes from actor, musician and Songs on Sunday collaborator, Dan Cooper.
As always all of the tracks you hear are recorded by a network of musicians who have professional recording studios and are a part of www.SOSstudio.co 

SOS: What were your main influences for writing this song?
DC: I had been listening to a lot of Justin Townes Earle when I wrote this.  I like his often simple melodies, uncomplicated structures and the real ‘live’ sounding production of his records.  It made me want to do something similar.
SOS: Has this idea been in your head for a while or did you think it up especially for SOS? 
DC: I first thought up the idea about a year ago and in the time since then it has taken on a few different forms. I had demoed is a few times myself before putting up for Songs on Sunday just to see what I could do with it.  I was very excited to get input from some great musicians.

SOS: Given that this is a collaboration were there any surprises with the final production from how you envisioned it?
DC: The song does actually sound quite different to how I imagined it when I wrote it, but I love it. Having fresh sets of ears and eyes on a song sometimes throws up some wonderful creations, things I would never have thought of. The song is totally true to my original idea and the tone I wanted but it has been taken in a direction I don’t think I would have found on my own.
SOS: Describe your experience of making music with people who are not even in the same room as you?
DC: I find it extremely fulfilling.  It is certainly a very different experience to working in the same studio but it is such a convenient way to work and the end result has the potential to be so much richer than if I had recorded this in a studio.  For me to have got all these musicians in one place at the same time would have been incredibly difficult, not to mention expensive.  I also enjoy the anticipation of waiting for each new track that people contribute to see what they come up with.

imageSOS Studio is an international network of professional studio musicians, composers, vocalists, lyricists, and mixers collaborating remotely to provide custom creative content for clients and guest artists.
Visit SOSstudio.co for more information

This week marks the first of our 14-week session in which we will write, record, mix, and post a new song each week.  All of the tracks you hear are recorded by a network of musicians who have professional recording studios and are a part of www.SOSstudio.co.

Our first song comes from a friend and frequent collaborator, Shannon Fayth.

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Here’s a short Q&A regarding her latest track, Homesick Devil.

SOS: What were your main influences for writing this song?

SF: The letters from my grandfather to my grandmother really inspired the writing. It was such an intense time In history. My grandfather was a part of an elite squad of three who were parachuted in the night to a specific location in Germany. They  were then responsible for finding the main railroad hub that was feeding Germany lay bombs and then had to get the hell out. He told stories of having to lie on his back under the train station house not moving for days at a time waiting for the German soldiers to leave. If he was outside he would focus on one star that he imagined my grandma was looking at, too. He had not met my grandma in person yet. These letters were their courtship, and when he came home he married her. Every lyric in the song is a quote or expanded idea from a letter. 

SOS: Can you describe the process of making music with people who are not even in the same room as you?

SF: The idea really came from writing a series of songs based upon the 100’s of letters I have. I envisioned  a very jazzy approach. I used verbiage and melody that I could hear Billy Holiday singing. The music in my head never matches to what the collaborative group creates, but that is also the beauty of it. I have to be open to other artists’ influences and ideas. This can create an amazing collaboration. The real job is with the mixing, in my opinion. 

Interview by Dan Cooper
To hear more from Shannon Fayth, visit http://www.reverbnation.com/shannonfayth.

imageSOS Studio is an international network of professional studio musicians, composers, vocalists, lyricists, and mixers collaborating remotely to provide custom creative content for clients and guest artists.
Visit SOSstudio.co for more information



imageDan Cooper is an actor, musician and long time collaborator with SOS Studio.  Often found travelling the world, banging on drums and playing guitar.
@SirDanielCooper
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