Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eva Kathryn, Not Your Typical Artist

Most girls when they are young play with Barbie dolls are have tea parties. That sounds pretty typical of most young ladies, wouldn't you say. How many start writing their own musical compositions before turning 10 years old? Well, you usually don't unless you're 20 year old Eva Kathryn. You see, Eva was obsessed with music scores at a very early age. She would go to Saturday matinees and then come back some and sit at the piano and and try to recreate the amazing music that she had just heard mere hours before. She could, after a little persistence, play by ear what she had just experienced in the theatre. Not bad for such a young person.

Her obsession slowly began to get noticed. She actually had a connection with another musician who had seen some pretty big hits during his career with his group Kansas. You remember them from the 70s with such hits as "Dust In The Wind" and "Carry On Our Wayward Son"? Seems that both Eva and Kerry Livgren go to the same church in pun intended there. "I approached Kerry one day and told him that I wanted him to record the most amazing songs ever and I told him that they were mine. I told him that I wanted to record in his studio and he said that we would see. My mom actually told me to keep bugging him until he said yes. Kerry and I have been friends for a while and he has been like a mentor to me both musically and spiritually. He even referred me to my acting manager, Bill Evans, about 3 years ago," said Eva.

How does such a young person approach songwriting when they should be watching cartoons? "I usually write when I am pissed off. When you're numb, the emotions that come out are pretty intense. I just tinker around with a melody and the words just start to come out. I just love Celine Dion and her arrangements. My mom actually bought me a karaoke CD of hers when I was real little and I loved to put on concerts to it. Today my tastes are little more diverse. I love progressive rock with groups like Underoath and Dream Theater. I would love to work with David Foster someday. He is such an amazing person."

Eva's music will draw comparisons to many of today's women in music, but after listening closely you see that this young talent is very diverse and how so much to offer. She is reminiscent of Alicia Keyes on her song "Somebody" yet her song "It Was You" has almost an operatic or show tune feel similar to Phantom Of The Opera. Where does she see herself 5 years down the road? "I want to be doing what I am doing for the right reasons. It's not about the money. I have always wanted to be a songwriter for Disney movies. I would also love to compose scores with some of the greats. You have to stay humble and remember why you are doing this. Too many people tend to lose focus on that in their careers."

Of course, my last question was the one where you are stranded on a desert island with only one CD, what would you want to have with you? "Wow, tough one to call. It would have to be that makes me feel alive. Probably anything by a band called Emery. They have great songwriting and the music gets you pumped up and screaming."

Eva told me that her CD should hopefully be ready sometime in 2009. She currently has a 5 song demo that is available. She is an amazing talent and a truly gifted songwriter and vocalist. Check her out on MySpace or her website. With her hard work and persistency, hopefully she will not get lost in the shuffle in the turbulent music industry that is upon us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blake Lewis Marches To The Beatbox Of A Different Drummer

It's funny how millions dream of auditioning for American Idol. Season 6 runner up Blake Lewis wasn't even going to audition because he did not find the show very appealing. A friend suggested to him to audition and he did so with a beatbox version of Seal's "Crazy" and then did an offscreen version of Maroon 5 "Sunday Morning" and wowed the judges.

Blakes's originality and his beat box skills were a breath of fresh air to the shows rather formulated and calculated format.His version of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name" showcased his gift for taking an classic tune and reworking it into a new, revitalized version. Bon Jovi, who was their mentor the week he did the song, said that Blake was quote "rolling the dice" on his risky performance. It was a risk that payed off as he floored the judges and the viewing audience alike.

Blake was runner up that season to winner Jordan Sparks and he began to work on his debut Cd release. He already had many songs ready for the Cd even before the season had ended. He was signed to Arista and released his debut entitled "A.D.D. Audio Day Dream" in December 2007. The bad news was that he was dropped just 6 months later in June of 2008. I asked Blake about the reasons behind the split. "I think I got a bum rap. I didn't have as much creative control over the Cd as I had wished. I love to produce and I probably did 50% to 70% of my debut, but i think it was just the wrong label to sign with."

The Cd is a mix of Blake's diversity. It seems to have an 80s vibes to it, along with funk, techno and dance. The Cd begins with a track called "Silence is Golden" and concludes with another entitled "But I Choose Noise." The surprising part is that there is not alot of beat boxing on it, his signature style that got him noticed on Idol. One of the stand out tracks is called "Know My Name" which is about a crush of his on Natalie Portman.

I asked Blake how he felt about all of the changes in the music industry and if they were a part of the early release from his contract like alot of other Idol contestants. " I think that I-tunes has ruined the industry. Whoever came up with the concept of I-tunes obviously has never been a musician who had to promote their own shows and make their own fliers and stuff like that. The price point is too low on each song. The artist does not make alot off of each Cd that is sold. They should have set it a little higher. The whole downloading aspect has taken the human element out of it. The little indie stores are becoming a things of the past and I hate that. I miss going into record stores and looking through bins of music."

"I really love creating new music and pushing the envelope. On Idol, I was thankful to be able to experiment and show that to so many people at one time, but they were controlling. I wasn't allowed to do as much creative arranging as I would have liked to. I love being out on the road and touring. It is alot of hard work. I like to stay after the shows and see all of the fans that stick around. I usually get on my bus afterwards and work on my Facebook or MySpace pages. It takes a while for me to unwind and I usually watch one or two movies before I go to sleep. I'm a big movie buff," stated Blake.

Blake has been writing a ton of material and actually has enough for two otr three Cd's. He is shooting for a March or April of 2009 release for his next cd. he recently did a cover of A Flock Of Seagulls "I Ran" which raced up the I-tunes chart to number 4. Blake seems to harbor a little bit of resentment towards the industry. He is such a creative person with so much passion towards to creations, it is easy to see why he gets frustrated with the industry trying to control him. It's like an artist creating a picture on canvas and someone coming by and saying it needs more yellow or you have too much red. Music is art and Blake is a very talented and gifted artist. I hope the industry with all of its regulation does not snuff out his creative fire or discourage him.