music is life, music is breath, music is us

Archive for October, 2013

Bodyjar’s “Role Model” album: A Review


Bodyjar is one of those bands that know how to write a good song. You know those kinds of songs that hook you and you keep singing the chorus over and over again? The truth is, these dudes from Australia sound only like them, and that is impressive. How many bands can you say truly have their own unique sound? Cameron Baines (lead vox/guitar) and crew have been making punk music fans in their homeland and abroad (remember, I’m a Yank) pump their fists in the air for so many years. Bodyjar truly made a name for themselves as legends of the Aussie punk scene, and eventually I got to hear them and they forever became a part of my life.

One day, though, the band decided to say goodbye.

I was devastated. These guys were there in some rough times for me.

But they came back.

“Role Model” is a return to the tone that made them famous (their previous album, “Bodyjar,” was a departure from that sound…but it kicked ass too). Fast and solid rhythm in the drums, soaring hooks in the vocals, memorable guitar licks, and locked in bass lines. I have listened to this album numerous times, and tried to compare it against their previous work, and man these guys may even be better than ever. That time away allowed for other projects, and most likely a rejuvenation of the creative energy. Every single track has its own unique take on the original sound, yet the album flows with the utmost continuity. By the end of the album, you have a huge smile on your face because you know you spent your time wisely listening to “Role Model.”

Punk and melody are not two things you always see together, but Bodyjar has always set themselves apart by this combination. They are phenomenal musicians, and write about life as it happens. No one can teach you how to play life, and you feel that they have lived every millisecond of the words in these tracks.

You will not be wasting your money with a purchase of this record. Even if you have never listened to them before, pick a copy up of “Role Model” and see why it is such a huge deal for these bros from Australia to be back.

Guys, welcome back. What a wonderful thing it is to have you back.

Bodyjar can be found at: and



Part 2 of conversation with rock musician Nickie Sallivan

(click this link, then another link to get the interview)

Cheers. Be sure to visit the band site

Conversation with Russian singer/songwriter Nickie Sallivan of Anglia Band


This afternoon I spoke for a while with a guy whose music I shared recently here on Mixolydian. Nickie and I spoke about music, the industry, various music scenes, and how to make better connections in the business. It was morning in Russia while it was 2:00 PM for me (oh time zones….)

I put the interview in two parts. I enjoyed talking with Nickie, and I hope you enjoy listening.


(click this link, then another link to get the interview)

An Interview with Singer Joyce Sims



(Some time ago I was introduced to the music of Joyce Sims. She has had much experience in the club world getting her music played, but never quite got the crossover that she truly deserved. She’s back and fighting. I dig it, you should dig it to. Have fun-Derek)

Derek Kortepeter: So first off, tell me about your new single “Tonight?” I really enjoy the groove and it is pretty catchy, what went into creating it?

Joyce Sims: My new single “Tonight” is an up – tempo, R&B/Dance track with a touch of soul. It was my first time doing a co-write and working with a new producer. We went in the studio and started to vibe off of each other. I wanted to create a song that had a catchy hook and told a little love story. What you hear in “Tonight” is our finished product.


D.K.: What would you say is your perspective is now as an artist compared to when “Come Into My Life” was released? How have you grown musically or otherwise?

J.S.: My Perspective as an Artist now is that I’m in control of my career. When my first album “Come Into My Life” was release the record label controlled almost everything pertaining to my music. Now I run my own label “August Rose Records” and I make the decisions from the song choice to the producers. I have a great team of people working with me as well. I couldn’t do all the work that is in involved in releasing a record by myself.


D.K.: Who would you consider to be influences for you musically? Who inspires you to keep going when the creative rivers runs dry?

J.S.: Stevie Wonder is one of my biggest musical influences. His music is timeless.So much soul and his message is universal. Everyday living inspires me to write, and supplies me with all the stories I need to be inspired.

D.K.: How does one navigate the music industry nowadays? I know so many artists that struggle because it seems like every second you turn around and everything has imploded. How do you keep with the shifting tides of this difficult industry?

J.S.: I think to navigate in the music industry today you need a good plan and stick to it. I think more important than anything is having a passion for what you are doing. Technology has afforded many Artist the opportunities record and market their own music. I trick is to educate yourself to the services available to you, and surround yourself with a great team of people who are all plugging for you.


D.K.:  Where do you want your music to be heard, solely in a club setting or beyond as a cross-over?

J.S.: I want my music to be heard everywhere. Music is universal and I want my music heard all over the universe.

D.K.:  So the UK is your workplace of choice nowadays. How does the experience affect you differently than being in the States?

J.S.: Recording in the UK is cool. When I’m in the UK time is a factor. In the recording studio I know I only have so much time to get the tracks done. I think I’m more focused and excited about working with new people. In the states I’m a little more laid back because I’m home.

D.K.: Do you have any advice for up and coming singers?

J.S.: My advice for up and coming singers is to learn your craft and take care of the business. Do a lot of networking, meeting that one right person can change your life. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your vision. Be unique to who you are, and develop your own style.


D.K.: Do you have a specific formula for music creation, or does it sort of flow out of your consciousness?

J.S.: I don’t have a specific method to my writing, but I always stick to the title of the song and build my story around it.

D.K.: What else can we expect from you in the coming months?

J.S.: In the coming months I’ll be back in the UK promoting my new single “Tonight”. I will also return to the recording studio to finish my forth-coming album for release in 2014. I’ll be shooting the video for the new single as well.

D.K.: Anything else you would like to say before this interview ends?

J.S.: Thank you so much for supporting my music. Peace & Blessings.

Joyce can be found at

A conversation with my buddy Alex DePue (oh yeah, he was also nominated for a GRAMMY alongside Steve Vai…)


( A little while ago I had a chat with my friend and fellow musician Alex DePue. Alex is a versatile musician, able to fiddle, play classical or rock or really anything you throw at him for the violin. Our chat covered his time with Steve Vai, his current creative projects, piracy, and much more. Have fun reading, I had fun doing this-Derek).

Derek Kortepeter

Alright. So first off I just want to know what you have been up to lately as far as music is concerned?

Alex DePue

Well. I have been producing/mixing The DePue Brothers Band Christmas recording. That has been my main objective over the course of the last two months (this month, make it three) and we’re mixing our way into Christmas recording history, man. No one knows that, yet… but like, Mannheim Steamroller? That’s the kind of happiness we’re talkin’ ’bout here. Alongside that, my duo, “DePue/De Hoyos” has been performing all over the country and have recently picked up a new agent… as well as new management! So, things is great! Just as beautiful as life can offer.

Derek Kortepeter

So for people out there who don’t know, what is the musical goal of the Depue/De Hoyos duo? What are you trying to bring to the table creatively?

Alex DePue

What we have together is a sound yet unparalleled. It is comprised of an authentic Mexican drive, add the rather American rocked out fiddle… and then you’ve really got something to write Grandma about.

Derek Kortepeter

You know that’s all that matters. This brings up an interesting idea in my ethnomusicologist brain. What is the challenge to musicians that are trained in completely different traditions culturally in playing together? I mean, I see all the time how different people approach fusion, and for some it is quite difficult.

Alex DePue

That’s a great question.

The main challenge is in getting the other party (be it Miguel or I) to understand and/or interpret grooves which are indeed “foreign” to the other. For example, Miguel and I were out one night after the gig here in Mexico, and over the sound system came this really HOT band… but the bass player sounded totally drunk to me. I said, “Miguel, is that bassist drunk?! Like, why is he avoiding the downbeat?!” It was at that point I learned from Miguel about the style of music we were hearing… called “Huapango”. It is a style indeed native to Mexico and felt in groups of three, yet the bass actually plays only on the second and third beats! After having that knowledge, I then could truly appreciate that “foreign” groove for the beauty it demonstrates! Until that point, I could not make sense of the madness I was hearing.


The same becomes true whenever Miguel is subjected to my “foreign” grooves. Even something that, to us, is considered nothing more than child’s play (say, a 4/4 rock groove)… for him, this becomes a huge mountain to climb in not only understanding the groove, but then executing it in such a way as to lead the listener to believe he has been performing THIS style for decades… and this is very important, of course! We don’t want Billy Joel’s, “The Stranger” coming across to our listeners as originating from Mexico! But, and inevitably, some of that feel (Latin-ish) does bleed in… yet, after thoroughly understanding the groove, when this “bleed-in” does happen, it’s just delicious! There cannot be the exclusion of our separate heritages within any of our arrangements… or we would not possess the intrinsically different sound being admired right now by so many!

Derek Kortepeter

Yeah I see that in my own music. I use the Japanese concept of Ma, where silence is important to give the concept of “negative space” but when western ears hear it they sometimes think my piece stopped abruptly (laughs). So let me ask you, since we are on the topic of different music styles coming together, how do you manage fiddling, classical, rock and other styles as one musician? It is pretty normal for composers like me, but classically trained violinists not as much?

Alex DePue

It is certainly NOT as much! For sure! As a matter of fact, I would say that I am one of the “pioneers” in demonstrating that all styles can live within the one player. This may be why I’m schizophrenic as well…(laughs).

In any case, I was the FIRST Classically trained violinist to appear on the national “fiddle” competition circuit. Suddenly, the “fiddle contest world” was very perplexed! They were hearing their own tunes from so long ago, suddenly amped up on steroids! So, needless to say, I did quite well in the competition circuit! And, although they have since caught onto my game, I won just about everything there was to win before they did. All they knew was, “Holy crap, who is THAT?!” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was using those same Classical chops to infiltrate and dominate every other style of music that appealed to me on a personal level. If I could do it with a style for which I was not so fond, i.e., “Contest Fiddle”… or, God forbid, the holier than thou, “TEXAS” fiddling?! Then, I could very easily integrate those chops into rock (which I love, of course), jazz (love it), bluegrass (like it a lot) and/or you name it… I can play it.

I realize this all sounds rather arrogant. And I don’t mind… I worked hard; I paid my “dues”, even ending up on the streets to do so… and the end result? Alex DePue thank you very much.

My most recent recording, All 4 1, is being hailed as the most diverse and eclectic fiddle/violin album ever recorded.

Derek Kortepeter

Doesn’t sound arrogant at all, you’re a badass (laughs), I’ve witnessed that personally. Speaking of seeing you live, I first became aware of you when you toured with Steve Vai in 2007. He is one of my biggest influences for guitar playing, and in all honesty Sound Theories was the album that made me start my journey of auto-didactic composition. I didn’t have any “formal” instruction until last year at UCLA. Since that concert was really the best concert I have ever been to, I know you so there’s no need to suck up (laughs), can you describe what it was like to be a musician in the string theories band? I know Vai’s music can be extremely complex in both meter and melodic passages, not to mention he is kind of a perfectionist, so did that present a unique challenge?


Alex DePue

Patience. Patience with myself as a musician. Rehearsing with Vai is very demanding and on a very personal level as a musician. You get to test your own boundaries and/or “limitations” with a musician of Steve’s caliber. Yet, he is always such a patient teacher/coach. Our rehearsals for the European leg of the tour were longer than the actual tour! We banged out the show ten hours (minimum) per day, six days per week for a full month before we called that show “ready” and the rewards for that kind of hard work and effort continue to pay off… not so much in the form of monetary success… but more so in exactly how much I can expect out of myself musically with regard to all of my musical endeavors. Rehearsing and touring with Steve Vai is not unlike a musical boot camp! Steve is an absolute delight to work with and my favorite story to tell (besides the actual story of the audition) is… after say… the second day of rehearsal… the band was hot, sweaty and tired from learning the Grammy-nominated tune, Now We Run… ten hours straight of intricate rhythms and technically demanding musical lines. I’m on my way out the door to go back to the hotel in LA when Steve stops me and hands me “tomorrow’s material” which was (not kidding) about an inch and a half thick of manuscript. He looks me in the eyeball with the same expression on his face you can see (and I remember well at age 14) from the 1986 movie, “Crossroads” in which he played the co-starring role of Jack Butler… and says, “So you’ll have this under your fingers by tomorrow morning, right?” (Alex laughs). How can you deny that face? My reply was, “Of course, Sir.” and then I spent the entire night practicing and got up at 5:00 AM the next morning to continue practicing before yet another ten-hour day of slamming out the new material with the band.

Derek Kortepeter

Yeah “Now We Run” is insane. Super complex meter, what like 21/16?, and various melodic runs that just blow your mind. I pity the fool that has to learn that (laughs).

Alex DePue


Derek Kortepeter

So what is your practice regimen on a normal day? I know that may help some musicians reading this.

Alex DePue

I wish you had asked me that question in 1989! (Laughs).

At that time, I would get up before school to get that first hour in. Scales, meditation (with instrument), maybe even get to the etude of the week… then off to school. At school (public), I had figured out a way to co-ordinate my schedule not so much according to their rules, but rather… my wants. There were the “required” classes, yes. So, I did those of course. But, during the school day, there were opportunities to practice, I noticed, that very quickly made themselves clear. “Study Hall”, just for example. Like, who ever actually STUDIES during Study Hall? Pass. DePue, you get to practice in the bathroom. YES! Lunch, same story. Back then, each semester we also had a “free period”. Pass. DePue is in the bathroom again. *The acoustics were FABULOUS in the bathroom. I would use that time to be sure my friend brought the girl I liked most… to walk by and overhear the music coming from the bathroom… ya know. By “accident”. (Laughs).

After school, I’d get in another quick hour before hitting the books… then dinner. Then, off to practice that last hour. And that last hour, Derek… absolute magic! After an athlete has warmed up all day for the race in the evening… that’s what it is like for the violinist to perform, as well… when the violinist really turns into “Super-person”. It’s during that third hour of practice.

At this stage in the game (2013), it’s really more about just saying “hello” to the instrument on a daily basis… keep the chops fresh. Weekly performances with my guitar friend, Miguel De Hoyos, also help to not only keep my own playing past the point of presentable, but also keeps the duo nice and tight. With a pretty full roster of students during the week, it’s not only a joy, it’s also a reason to keep the violin in my hands. All day. Either I’m demonstrating for the student, or waiting (pacing patiently, practicing whatever it was I had just taught)… before the next student rings in.

That much, combined with my current performance/recording schedule, keeps me right where I need to be.

Derek Kortepeter

So what would you say has grounded you as a musician and artist, especially when the times get tough?

Alex DePue

There’s this funny thing that happens when you turn 40. Your “give a crap” meter drops considerably low all of a sudden. You realize, at age 40, that you actually will NOT be living forever… you are NOT bulletproof, and that if you plan to “make hay”, as they say… then you’d better just get to it. At age 40, your radar for “what the neighbors will think” just vanishes into thin air. At age 40, you’re well tuned-in to the difference between right and wrong, and not only that, you become liberated as to the level of freedom you feel whenever you smell bs of any kind. Your soap box becomes elevated, you do rely upon your experience, and you toot that horn loudly. Reading back on this paragraph, I realize now, for example, that I SHOULD have been saying, “I” and not “you”.

The most humbling, most grounding thought…

And it depends upon what kind of “tough” you’re asking about, there… like, the skill set used to get through a death in the family, let’s say… is waaaaaay different than the skills used to… oh, I don’t know… find shelter on a cold night on the streets of Atlantic City.

Derek Kortepeter

So do you have any artistic ideas in your head that have yet to come to fruition?

Alex DePue

I do, but if I told you, David Garrett would steal it.

Derek Kortepeter

(laughs) I’m paranoid too when it comes to things like that

Alex DePue

I’m totally serious, though. Garrett has just blatantly thieved many of my own arrangements. His management put him in the spotlight just after my Youtube video went viral doing MJ’s, “Smooth Criminal”… so then they dressed him to look like me, styled his hair like mine, and released his first hit… which was none other than, you guessed it… Smooth Criminal, by Michael Jackson.

Derek Kortepeter

Damn, seriously? That’s hella messed up man.

Alex DePue

It can all be verified. And we’re talking note for note thievery. His HUUUUUUUGE hit (Smooth Criminal) was lifted NOTE FOR NOTE… from my viral video.

Derek Kortepeter

That isn’t right. No way no how. Well you heard it here readers, David Garrett is a music-stealing prick!

How do you handle something like that? I mean my composition mentor James Newton had a sample of his music stolen by the Beastie Boys and he sued (it was actually a pretty big deal, was covered by NPR and other places. The judge ruled against him, which opened the floodgates for jazz musicians to get screwed over by artists with bigger legal teams hired by record labels.) Joe Satriani had “If I Could Fly” ripped off by Coldplay for “Viva La Vida” and so on. It isn’t uncommon, but all the more wrong.

Alex DePue

I don’t mind going public with the David Garrett story. Not one bit.

My brothers were more pissed than I was… I just don’t have time or money to hire lawyers and go after a huge machine like Garrett. If he can look himself in the mirror and feel good about that, so can I.

And they KNOW that I don’t have the time or money! So, there ya go.

Derek Kortepeter

Oh I intend to bro, but I mean like do you just dive into your art more to give people like that the finger?

Alex DePue

Well, it becomes a helpless battle even in that regard. It’s disappointing and denigrating to have that as part of my story at all. It is just plain wrong and unfair.

Derek Kortepeter

Yeah I’m a composer and if someone did that to me I don’t know what I’d do, some big Hollywood composer steals my melody or harmonies. I’d buy a crowbar (laughs)

Alex DePue

Here’s a quick excerpt from my own latest blog:

“I was patient while I literally sat and watched David Garrett (probably not Mr. Garrett himself, but someone else who is much smarter) STEAL my intellectual property right off of the internet and create a career for himself out of nothing but a modest education as a classical violinist. Note for note, from my own improvised (on the spot) arrangement of Michael Jackson’s, “Smooth Criminal”, posted on Youtube well before David Garrett’s first hit was released, ummm… what was it? Oh, yeah… Michael Jackson’s, “Smooth Criminal”!! Now David Garrett is a bazillionaire and I still drive my 1994 Mercury Mystique. Which is fine. I love my life! If there ends up being not any reason for me to ever leave my home here in Mexico again? That would be just more than fine with me!”

Derek Kortepeter

That’s a really good attitude to have, really it is. So on a lighter note, where is the Depue/De Hoyos duo playing in the coming months?

Alex DePue

We have a new agent and we’ve been crushing showcases from coast to coast… the offers are coming in, and we’re climbing that proverbial ladder, man. Stay tuned because DePue/DeHoyos and/or the DePue Brothers Band WILL be coming to YOUR town soon!

Derek Kortepeter

Cool man, well I know you are a busy dude and I appreciate your time and I really enjoyed the conversation.

Interview with Splinter Cell Conviction/Blacklist composer Michael Nielsen


(I became acquainted with my friend Michael Nielsen a few years ago. I can tell you he is the nicest guy, and along with his writing partner Kaveh Cohen, he creates some really fantastic music. He is in the most literal sense an industry heavy hitter, especially with regards to writing music for movie trailers. He also composes for other media forms, most notably video games like Splinter Cell: Conviction…which is where I first heard of him. It doesn’t hurt that he is a fellow UCLA Bruin like me🙂 I now present to you an interview with him. Enjoy-Derek).

Derek Kortepeter: I truly appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. So tell me how you and Kaveh became writing partners?

Michael Nielsen: Hi Derek.  It’s my pleasure.  Kaveh and I were friends long before we started Ninja Tracks together.  At the time, Kaveh was doing a lot of scoring work, and I was doing record production.  We had a very complimentary skill set.  

D.K.: How did you decide on composition as your avenue of music involvement as opposed to something such as performance or academic disciplines like musicology or music history? What is your background with music?

M.N.: I was in a few bands out of college, but I was never very comfortable in that role.  I always felt much more at home in the studio.  I like the complete control over every element that you have in the studio.   I’m very passionate about the hyper detailing, layering and texturing that you can do in the studio.  That’s not to say trying to get everything ‘perfect’.  The really interesting stuff is getting the right balance of perfection vs. live human feeling, or precision vs. chaos. I never really considered an academic career in music.  I always felt pulled to create something music or art.

D.K.: This blog is known to give quite a bit of attention to music from video games, as a composer and academic it is something I am very passionate about. I actually became acquainted with your work via Splinter Cell: Conviction (Splinter Cell is one of my all-time favorite game series), can you talk about how you became approached to do the score for that game? Also what was the overall experience like working on such a celebrated franchise?

M.N.:  We were very excited to be a part of the Splinter Cell franchise.  Both Kaveh and I were fans of the game since the original Splinter Cell came out.  The team we worked with at Ubisoft was amazing, had great ideas, and they were really open to our ideas as well.  They wanted to make a very cinematic game, and we wanted to create a score that pushed that to the next level.  We recorded the orchestra for the game at Warner Scoring Stage in LA.


Splinter Cell: Blacklist was just released, and we scored the Spy’s vs Merc’s.  It was a really nice opportunity to expand upon the Conviction theme.  We were creating a distinct soundscape for each side.  So the Spy’s had a more organic palette with a lot of GuitarViol.  That’s handmade custom instrument that’s a hybrid cello / guitar.   It’s a very emotive instrument.  The Merc’s had a much more tech and electronic distorted palette.


Conviction had an emotional story with a lot of stealth, juxtaposed with intense bursts of action.  Blacklist Spy’s vs Merc’s is all about the tension, and racing against time, and waiting for someone to attack you from a shadow, or from above.

D.K.: What is a typical day as you work; do you choose separate sections of a piece to work on? How do you come to the conclusions artistically with portions such as melody, harmony, orchestration etc.?

M.N.:  I like to get in pretty early and dive right in, coffee in hand, ha!   Kaveh and I have worked together for so long, that there’s very little ego in deciding who will do what.  Sometimes it’s decided by who’s most excited about taking a particular piece, sometimes it’s something that plays to one of our strengths.  Other times it’s based on scheduling… and if we really can’t decide, we’re always fine to work on it together. As it is, our control rooms are right next to each other, so when we work with the door open, or if you walk by, you get to hear how the cues are coming along.  It’s funny.  Sometimes, I’ll hear something from the other room, and will just yell over something like, “OH!  THAT’S COOL!  I don’t know what you’re doing next door, but keep doing it!”


Kaveh and I are usually very aligned in terms of vibe and sensibility.  So if we have a melody or theme that we’re working on we both like, we’ll run with it.   It will usually become clear if we nailed it, or if we need to keep exploring.  It’s more of a feeling.  If you come in the next day, and you’re still excited to hear it, that’s a pretty good sign.  We recently scored the Spirit Guard Udyr comic, and title theme for the League of Legends online game.  When we started, we didn’t have a lot to go on, as we were all still doing a bit of sonic exploration.  So we worked up a couple short theme bits and settled on a concept.  Later we felt like the theme needed more gravitas and emotion, so we composed a big orchestral theme for Udyr.  Finally, the Udyr theme ended up being a combination of the original idea, the epic emotional theme, and a more aggressive movement… he’s a warrior after all.  Udyr is a complicated guy!

D.K.: You guys do quite a bit of trailer music (for films such as The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, The Bourne Legacy, The Avengers,  and  The Amazing Spider-Man), what are the challenges in composing for that genre? Is there more freedom artistically?

M.N.: There’s a lot of freedom in most of the trailer work.  That said, you still have to win over music supervisors, editors, producers, studio execs, and test audiences.  So while you’re working on a particular project, it’s important to maintain the integrity of the music while still addressing the needs of the client.   You’re squeezing in a LOT of story into a 2 minute trailer, so while picture is being manipulated, sometimes you have to alter whole sections of a melody, or you’re have to deal with strange meters.  Sometimes you are given very unmusical requests that, as the composer, you have to translate into something that really works.

D.K.: With the different forms of media you write for (film, TV, video games), what would you say are the biggest differences in composing for each?

M.N.:  It’s hard to generalize about each, because each project is so different.   The commonality between them is that you’re trying to subtly, and sometimes NOT so subtly, guide the viewer or gamer to an emotional reaction.   Each project presents its own challenges to achieving that.

D.K.: What music would you say has influenced your writing in the past, and what music influences you now?

M.N.:  I’ve always been a fan of popular music, and I’ve always loved soundtracks, and scores.  My music has always been a combination of those influences.   More recently, I’ve been trying to discover ways to simplify my music, while still keeping the same impact.   That’s a tough thing to do.  Sometimes more IS more!  (smiles)

D.K.: What type of gear do you two utilize for composing, recording etc.?

M.N.: We have very similar rigs.  It’s important for us to be compatible with each other.  I recently did the upgrade to Logic Pro X, which was a bit rocky at first, but after a couple updates, it’s coming together nicely.  We’ve been Logic users for many years.  There are tons of libraries, including many gigs of custom sample recording that we’ve done for ourselves.  We have a large rig of Apogee Symphony i/o, Barefoot monitors, Lexicon and Bricasti reverbs, and tons of outboard EQ’s, compressors.  Tons of plugins.  I’m very fond of UAD and Waves.  But it’s a great time for software.  There’s so many good plugins.

D.K.: Are there any standout experiences you have had as industry insiders that made you take a step back and say “wow, I really get to do this for a living?”

M.N.: Every time we record live orchestra is a really standout experience.  To have 100 world class musicians performing your music is a spectacular experience; to say the least.

D.K.: Do you have any particular musicians or directors that you would love to write for? Kind of like a dream list?

M.N.: Dream list… I’d love to be a fly on the wall when John Williams is composing.

D.K.: To all the composers out there (myself included even though I have asked Michael once about this), what advice do you have? What does it take to get work in such a cutthroat and often unforgiving industry?

M.N.: I think you have to be able to do everything well.  You can’t just write nice music and expect to be able to compete.  You have to write, produce, engineer, plus manage your career.  You just have to be ready for anything and everything they’ll throw at you.  There’s even a lot of free plugins out there, that may not be as pretty looking as a UAD plugin, but they have tons of character and sound great.

D.K.: Any upcoming creative projects you guys have lined up that you want to talk about?

Splinter Cell: Blacklist just came out with a soundtrack.  Our website is:, and our Facebook is:  There’s lots of up to date info there.

D.K.: Before we close this interview is there anything else you would like to say to the readers?

M.N.: It’s easy to forget the music behind the visuals… so, thanks for listening!


Interview with British Pop Singer Caleidra



(Everyone who reads this blog knows I love all kinds of music. I was presented with an interesting opportunity to interview a young pop singer from England. I listened to her music and noticed a strong ability in her voice and understanding of music even though she was still a teenager. I also found out that she was pretty much an instant hit in her home country, getting discovered via a song she wrote for school…only to then be featured in media such as The Independent, BBC Radio, and the Guardian among others. Caleidra is wise beyond her years, and I see a bright future ahead of her. Cheers-Derek)

Derek Kortepeter: So what music are you writing nowadays, stylistically speaking?

Caleidra: My latest EP, ‘Another Day’, is about relationships from the initial meeting (I Should’ve Known), to are we together or splitting up (Start Again), the depths of break up (‘Another Day’) to finally coming through the other side fighting back (Ask Me Why) – so a real rollercoaster of emotions and all based on real life.

Stylistically, the EP is predominantly pop, and ranges from guitar/ukulele based almost folk-pop, to electro-pop, then a piano based ballad and finally rock-pop, so really taking a stylistic journey through the pop genre. An Italian magazine recently described me as ‘sweet without pretence’, the second bit is definitely true, not sure about the first though. Some of the sound comes from the people I’m working with, like Jud Mahoney who has worked with Chris Brown and Michael Jackson, and John McLaughlin/Dave Thomas Jr who have worked with Mark Owen from Take That, Westlife, Busted, 911, Echo and the Bunnymen and Shane McGowan from the Pogues. The songs are as I intended when I wrote them, I didn’t have to compromise and John himself said I was one of the youngest people he’d worked with where he didn’t feel it necessary to change any of the songs.

D.K.: What can you tell me about the EP that is planned for release in October?

Caleidra: Even though I’m only just seventeen, “Another Day” is an EP that was written over a long period of time. One of its tracks was one of the first I wrote, called “Ask Me Why” from back when I was fourteen, and the latest song “I Should’ve Known” was written very late on last year. The EP addresses the many emotions you feel in a relationship, from energy and excitement shown in “Start Again” to the sadness expressed in “Another Day”. It came together in Glasgow and New York with some amazing people: John McLaughlin, Dave Thomas Jr and Jud Mahoney and I’m really happy with the way it sounds. It’s going to be released on 13th October 2013 and I’m massively excited for everyone to finally hear it!

D.K.: Most people use the term “overnight sensation” in a poetic sense, but you were in the most literal sense of the term. Was it a shock to the system to all of a sudden to have your name in the papers?

Caleidra:  Absolutely, but a wonderful shock. I wrote a song called “With You” for my music GCSE coursework. I played it to my teacher and classmates, who loved it, which was amazing enough for me. It was posted on YouTube and the next thing I knew, a record label were interested in releasing it! It’s been crazy since then, being on ITV many times, playing live on BBC radio, in all the national newspapers and teen magazines and led to me meeting some amazing people including my current producer, John McLaughlin and the team behind my latest video who have worked on Coronation Street and Doctor Who!

D.K.: Who are your musical influences?

Caleidra: Avril Lavigne has to be one because her song “Complicated” was the first modern pop song I heard and it was one that I sang constantly for what must have been years. I think Avril Lavigne was the artist who planted the idea in my head that I wanted to go into music.

Taylor Swift is a singer who I have listened to for almost the entirety of my teens. She is definitely a musician who I want to emulate in that she is massively involved in the creation of every single one of her songs.

In 2008, I went to watch Coldplay while they were on their Viva La Vida tour and it was the most amazing show I have ever seen. It was exciting and colourful and Chris Martin was unbelievably energetic. Coldplay are a massive influence to me because I am always working to show as much energy as they did when I’m on stage.

D.K.: I’ve read that you are a multi-instrumentalist, do you happen to have a preference for one instrument or is it an equal passion for all instruments?

Caleidra: I can play the guitar and ukulele, but my main instrument is the piano. I have written songs on guitar, but most of my songs come when playing the piano. You have everything there, bass, harmony and melody.

D.K.: Did you always know that music was the lifestyle for you?

Caleidra: I’ve been playing the piano since I was around six, and started singing lessons just a few years later. When I reached nine, I realized the only thing I ever wanted to do was to perform. I won a trophy at school when I was 14 for being the best overall musician in my age group, which was amazing because there were so many talented pupils and that gave me a lot of confidence. There is something wonderful about the journey a song takes, from seeing or feeling something in your life, writing this in music and lyrics, the arrangement, then into the studio to record, the video and hearing it on the radio or seeing it on TV – this is a wonderful moment because you are finally sharing that with people and making a connection. Playing live you get to see the effect of that connection and it is the best moment.

D.K.: How do you go about writing your songs?

Caleidra: Often I’m at school and see or hear a comment or an argument and that gives me a lyrical idea and forms the structure of the song. I might get a musical idea also, but often I’ll sit at the piano and almost hear the song before I play it. It has been said that the creative process is one of discovery. The song is there, you just have to find it.

D.K.: What are some of the most memorable venues you have performed in thus far?

 Caleidra: The first live concert you play is always the scariest. So playing the party in the park was really exciting and playing in front of my friends made it more so, but it was an amazing experience and playing an outdoor festival is magical. The Roadhouse in Manchester was great, where Coldplay and Muse had played years earlier as well as the DryLive which was formed by Factory Records and New Order, so amazing history there and I could sense that.  My most recent concert was just a few weeks ago at the Salford Music Festival and was the largest festival ever held by them, so being part of that was special and the band were fantastic that night.

D.K.: Can you tell me about the musicians in your band?

Caleidra: On keyboards is my brother, Adam. He is an amazing musician himself and some songs I’ve co-written with him will be on my LP coming out next year. On Bass is Byron Wilson and guitar is Paddy Nicholson, graduates of the Leeds College of Music and great musicians and great fun to work with. On drums also is the punk member of the band, Reece Gibson who loves his tattoos and sometimes Mohican, never stops talking and great fun.

D.K.: You’re still a teenager, so do get to have some normalcy (hang out with friends/family etc.) which is so important to experience in those years?

Caleidra : Absolutely. I’m still at school which keeps me grounded. I remember reading about George Clooney that he still played basketball with his school mates when he could. I’d never want to lose touch with my friends and after all, where would I get my inspiration?

D.K.: Anything else you want to say before we close?

Caleidra: Thanks for giving me this opportunity and if people want to hear more and be part of my journey they can find more below. I love it when people contact me, so please tweet or message me.