Sound and Substance | Songwriting and Music Production
Sound and Substance is a podcast for independent musicians, artists and producers who want to improve their songwriting, performance, production and strategy. John Steen interviews people in the music industry and offers helpful advice and inspiration for indie artists and producers who want to get their mind right to succeed with their art.
Joshua Crispin's (aka Generdyn) dad gave him a challenge to make money from music in 6 months. He did it in 3. At 21 years old, he's placed music in trailers for Marvel, Disney, Paramount and many other major motion pictures.
Michael Kanne of Northern National has the mentality that you have to make things happen. While many artists and bands make their music and hope to get noticed, Michael hustles day in and day out to create his own opportunities.
In this interview we go over how in Northern National's first year as a band, they've already gotten gigs and opportunities that a lot of bands wait 3-5 years to get. We talk about how he reaches out to blog, how to spread awareness on social media without pissing people off and also some songwriting considerations if you're living in the pop genre.
For any musicians or artist who struggles with the motivation to make stuff happen and get involved in the business aspect of your art, this might be a great interview to put things in perspective.
Lorenzo is a producer, songwriter and mixing engineer currently living in London, UK. He's worked with artists, producers and ad campaigns like Lana Del Rey, Martin Terefe and McDonald's.
Lorenzo and John first met when they were interning at Kensaltown Studios in Notting Hill, UK. At Kensaltown, Lorenzo ended up sticking around and learning from mega producers Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall, Shawn Mendes) and Sacha Skarbek (Adele, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey) and eventually developing his own name as a producer.
John and Lorenzo have a very interesting conversation on the role of formal music education in reality, and how feel and emotion is so much more important in succeeding as a musician and producer. This episode is encouraging for emerging artist or producers that haven't had the fancy internship or education that some musicians get in their journey.
I’m pumped to have Michaelangelo L’acqua on the show today. Michaelangelo is a musician, DJ, producer and an international music lifestyle curator. In 1999 he was hired by Tom Ford to create the music identity for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent and create the musical direction for the runways of Milan, Paris and New York.
He also executive produced the Nat King Cole Re:Generations project on EMI Records, which featured will.I.am, Cee Lo Green and Nas.
He went on to become the Global Music Director for the W Hotel Group, and continues to evolve and combine his passions into interesting career opportunities.
The interesting part about his story to me is that he overcame so much challenge and rejection, like teachers considering him mentally-challenged instead of simply dyslexic, or how his mentor early on shut down his dream of being a pro guitar player. Yet he pushed forward with his passions and developed an attitude of, “Not if, but when”, which has propelled him forward to create a career that many would envy and gain inspiration from.
We discuss a lot, but here are some sample topics:
Dealing with rejection
Staying true to your vision as an artist, not pleasing the masses
Evolution as an artist and musician
Feeling like an impostor even when others view you as a success
From graphic design to shooting for clients like Justin Bieber, Adidas, Burton and Walmart, Nick Onken shares his journey of following his "creative resonance" as a photographer. He also runs the podcast Shop Talk Radio for creative entrepreneurs. Nick originally started in Seattle doing graphic design work. After a life-changing trip to Africa and the encouragement of a friend, Nick decided his greatest passion was in photography. Climbing through a lot of the same struggles as indie musicians, Nick had to spend several years learning and honing his craft, to the point where he now works with clients such as Justin Bieber, Toyota, Adidas, Walmart, and many others. I really wanted to have Nick on because he can identify with the struggles and passion of being a creative entrepreneur. One of Nick’s greatest priorities is “creative resonance”, which is choosing projects that you personally are passionate about and resonate with so that you can make connections that matter, and be fulfilled as an artist.
We touch on:
Transitioning full-time into your passion
Lifestyle considerations of choosing a path
Working for free
How to learn your craft
Balancing commerce and art
Is passion bunk or for real?
Be sure to check out Nick's podcast Shop Talk Radio, and I hope you enjoy the show!
West Stephenson has been a professional musician for over 16 years and is currently both a freelance bass player in Dallas, TX and member of the band The Funky Knuckles. Wes is a very educated and skillful musician and has a few pointers for how to assemble a band, making a living as an independent musician and how to hustle and better your craft.
I wanted to bring Wes on to show that you don't have to be a megastar to make a living in music for an extended period of time. Wes is loving playing locally as well as touring with The Funky Knuckles, and has some valuable things to say.
After an exciting arrival with a viral video to accompany his debut single, "Human Man," beguiling new pop artist, Johnny Stimson, shows no signs of slowing down. Stimson has since unleashed three additional hits with "Daddy's Money," "Here We Go Again" and "SO.GOOD." All four tracks rose organically to the top of The Hype Machine's highly respected Pop Chart and, after a personal hat tip on their socials, are proving that he is here to make "major waves" (Idolator) on the pop scene.
In the past year alone, Stimson has been featured on GRAMMY.com, MTV Buzzworthy, Refinery29, Pop Justice, Nylon Magazine, and dozens of high profile blogs and web outlets. GRAMMY.com calls his songs "elegant," with the "theatrical yet sincere vulnerability of great pop." His music is "infectious" (MTV Buzzworthy), and "makes you want to groove out" (Baeble Music).
Influenced by artists ranging from Prince to Justice, Stimson possesses a unique, stratospheric voice that captures the soul of a Motown favorite and the contemporary style and appeal of Daft Punk. Stimsonʼs songwriting harnesses the cornerstones of hit records – strong vocals, enticing melodies, and memorable hooks.
Johnny's songs have been featured in national promotion during 2013 for ABC's new series "Trophy Wife," The CW's premiere of "The Vampire Diaries," and DIRECTV's signature first original series "Rogue." On the tour front, Stimson headlined DIRECTV & Aloft Hotels' "Road to Rogue" tour, a national Living Water tour across 17 college locations, and a Southeast US tour across 7 states. He has been a featured performer to packed venues at multiple SXSW showcases, and has played to full houses at Gibson Showroom and Brooklyn Bowl in New York, Living Social's 918F Street in Washington D.C., and House of Blues and School Night at Bardot in Los Angeles.