by Madalyn Sklar
What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?
Life experiences are a driving force in my music. I write about things that I've experienced. I also create characters and tell stories with my music. I first started taking piano lessons when I was 5. From a young age...about 6 or 7...I wanted to have a career in the arts & entertainment world. In college, I decided to major in music, and I've been a career musician ever since.
Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.
I don't have a set style. I compose classical music, and my songwriting ranges from piano pop to jazz to rock to hip-hop to punk. I describe the music on my latest release, "Eclectic," as "Multi-Genre Swirled Pop for the Independent-Minded."
Hmmm...three musicians I'm inspired by...there's so many! If I had to choose, I would probably say Chopin, Tori Amos, and They Might Be Giants. I pick Chopin because of the passion, emotion, and virtuosity that is in his music. Tori Amos is a big influence, because she released "Little Earthquakes" at a time when I was starting to take songwriting seriously. For me, she opened the door to what is possible for the piano as a rock instrument. I've always loved how They Might Be Giants can shift and morph genres, so they are a huge influence as well.
What's your ideal venue atmosphere?
I really liked the Elbo Room in Chicago. The vibe there was really good, and the sound was excellent. People were attentive, yet still having fun. I'd like the prestige and glamour of performing at Carnegie Hall, but sometimes the perfect place to play is a small club with a great sound engineer.
Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.
My first professional gig was at age 11, playing pipe organ at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, IL. Throughout grade school, high school, and college, I would play pipe organ for churches and classical/jazz standards for private parties. To this day, I still play churches and private parties, as well as teach piano lessons.
After college, when I first started performing as a songwriter, I lived in Springfield, but after a year, I moved to Arizona. There I attended the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Science. I interned at BMG Entertainment and Epitaph Records in Los Angeles. Then I moved back to Arizona and held various industry jobs, including a dance remix company, a staging company, and a few radio stations. All the while, I continued to perform in bands and as a solo singer/songwriter.
After my son was born in 2007, we moved to the Chicago area. After being on hiatus for 2 years, I decided to release my album, "Eclectic," and I'm starting to perform out more and write new material.
How would you describe the music scene in your area?
The Chicago music scene is phenomenal. You can find musicians who play virtually any genre of music. I've just started to have live performances here, but everybody seems really supportive and friendly. There is a genuine love for music in Chicago.
What was the inspiration for your latest release?
In 2007, I released the "Last, But Not Least" EP soon after my son was born, but never really promoted it. I took a 2-year hiatus from releasing new music to take care of my infant son, but I still wrote songs here and there, plus I had some older songs that I'd never released. I just decided to release this hodge podge of songs with different musical styles, and I thought "Eclectic" was the perfect name.
What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?
Your music is the most important thing. Make sure your music sounds great, and each song is exactly how you want it. Make sure you are well rehearsed and warmed up before going into the studio. Be sure to have extra strings, drum sticks, drum heads, etc. in case they break. Practice playing with headphones.
What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?
Their knowledge of the industry and their mindset. You have to know how the business operates. So many times, artists get taken advantage of because they do not understand how the industry works. Having a good working knowledge of the music business and being able to understand legalese are tools that will take you far. Also, mindset is very important. You have to be a trooper. Be prepared for rejection, but be self-confident at the same time. It's not a simple task!
Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.
I'm guessing at least once a month or so I just feel like giving it all up and walking away. It's a frustrating business. I read a quote one time that said something like, "When the feeling to give up is the strongest, victory is just around the corner." I remind myself of this quote all the time. Another thing I've been doing lately is concentrating on "little victories," taking small steps toward the larger goal...accomplishing little things and concentrating on the moment…not where I think I should be, but where I am.
What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don't give up?
I recently read, "Music Success in Nine Weeks" by Ariel Hyatt, and one thing she suggests is writing down in a journal five things you accomplish each day. This is a fantastic technique. When you feel like you are not getting anywhere, you can read through the journal and see all the things you have accomplished. It's very self-affirming!
Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.
I am working on composing 20 instrumentals for my next project. I'm hoping to write an instrumental a week from the beginning of October through the end of March. I'll release the digital album online ONLY sometime in 2011. I'm also starting to brainstorm for my next full-length CD release, slated for 2012.
What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?
Besides getting to perform in Texas and Pennsylvania for GoGirls events, I've gained a lot of knowledge about the indie music scene from GoGirls and met some wonderful musicians. When I lived in Phoenix, I would host the GoGirlsMusicFest, and it felt great to help charitable organizations by rocking out! Lots of memories!
Links to Mary Lemanski:
Copyright © 2010 GoGirlsMusic.com
Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 14 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.
You can reach Madalyn at MadalynSklar.com
or madalynsklar AT gmail.com