Hello there from heat stricken New England, but I am not complaining as winter is around the corner. So I would like to congratulate Rachel Platten as being the next big thing with “Fight Song.” It is as if all radio execs got together and decided to make her a star. She is an inspiration on how you can do it too. So in music news, SoundExchange announced that it has paid more than $3 billion in digital royalties to recording artists and record labels since the organization became a wholly independent non-profit in 2003. This monumental achievement signifies the explosive growth of the digital radio space and the crucial role digital radio plays in the music revenue ecosystem. In other music news, New data from Juniper Research has found that revenue generated through ad-based music streaming is set to exceed $1 Billion by 2017, up from $782 Million in 2015, despite the declining numbers of players offering ‘freemium’ services. But on the other hand, Juniper also found that the music industry has reached a critical point in its digital evolution with the download market experiencing its first decline in 2014. The download market has long been at the forefront of the digital transformation; however, following its recent struggle, the market is forecast to continue its global decline with the music industry instead turning to the potential of streaming. So this week we have a musician that I have been excited to post all weekend – BJ Smith. BJ has created a musical career most can dream of but he shows us that he is far from done, and we are thankful for that. BJ has an amazing new album out ‘Real Life Issues’ and it a classic, smooth, and contagious collection of music. Join us today as we get to hang with BJ Smith and talk about the album, the drougnt in California, keeping his vocals healthy, and so much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and how is your summer going?
BJ: I’m in my backyard sitting on my Lounge Chair Poolside, one of the places I feel inspiration and like to write at. My Summer has been exhilarating because I’ve just been in a creative self empowering mode and it seems that the universe has opened up for me.
Stoli: Being that you are based in California, have you been effected by the drought?
BJ: Yes, if anything, we’re all effected by the drought just based off of awareness alone. I’ve done my own share to cut back, fixing a dripping faucet, faulty sprinklers, and watering my lawn less, but besides it being hot I think the bigger question is who’s using the abundance of the water? Is it residential and commercial usage, or is it our farmers here that feed most of our nation and parts of the world? Californians will really believe in the drought when we start to lose an abundance of food, when there’s no bottled water at the grocery store and when we start receiving water rations house by house from our governor.
Stoli: At what age did you realize that you had a gift for music and when did it become more than a hobby?
BJ: I think I noticed about the 3rd grade in elementary school. Although I was musically inclined sooner, I was somewhat of a class clown. But after singing “Ben” by Michael Jackson in a school talent show I noticed different treatment from teachers and classmates. That was a turning point for me.
Stoli: When you were starting out were your friends and family support you and have you dealt with haters?
BJ: As a kid, I was grounded quite a bit by my very strict Parents. I lost luxuries like TV, Telephone, and hanging out with friends! But despite that, they allowed me to still play my instruments. We had an organ, drums and a sax, in the house and I played them all and sang songs. My parents were always supportive and whenever we had company over, they’d make me sing and play for them, so I guess they kinda showed me off. There were two impactful moments of haters I experienced.
First, was in high school, because I was involved in Band, Drama, & Chorus. Most guys at my school got teased or labelled for doing this but I was also a High School League & C.I.F. Masters Wrestling Champion so many treaded lightly on the jokes!
Secondly, earlier when I was involved with another recording artist signed to Sony, I had my aspirations of being an Artist. I went to a few meeting with some Major Labels, and I got constructive criticisms like, “Can you make a song like Luther”? You got anything that sounds like R-Kelly, and right then it hit me, labels aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel, they just wanna dress it with low profile tires or some piece of glitter, but they basically want the same thing over again. I always knew I was enough, and I just needed to continue on my journey honing my craft and eventually I’d find myself as the Artist I knew I was, and I’d find, my home or someone would invite me into theirs!Back then and even now, labels aren’t looking for a reason to sign you, there looking for all the reasons not to sign you!
Stoli: You work with many musicians. What do you look for most when working with another musician?
BJ: I look for Cohesive, Creativity! Regardless to whether I’m seeing another musician or Artist perform, Or whether I want to collaborate on a song or if we’re just gigging together, and/or just plainly talking about music, there’s always something to learn from someone else, so you should always keep your heart, mind, body & soul open to receive that gift. Also, always try to connect on some level with that musician, creative moments and vibe can never be duplicated.
Stoli: I love your album, ‘Real Life Issues.’ How long were you writing/recording that album and how is the response so far?
For Purchase: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id934516962
BJ: Some of these songs were written years ago, which reflected a stage, a phase, a moment, or a chapter in life that I tucked away for safe keeping, or I even left unfinished missing a bridge, a hook, or even a verse. Other songs were written just for this project that fit the the storyline of this prequel within my legacy of works. I have many many songs and at times for whatever reasons, some Artists go back and dig through the crates of notepads, records, CDs, D.A.T.s and files of tracks and listen to older material maybe to inspire a fresh idea, or to catalogue your library of works and then all of the sudden, you stumble across a little Gem. Simultaneously while on my quest to dive back into my solo project, I got my band together we went into Skip Sailors Studios, and the energy and the vibe was so incredible, that we tracked 70% of our live performances for the Album in two days. Then I completed my vocals and the other three songs at Tribe Sound with my producer Les Pierce.
Regarding the response towards this Album, it’s been Incredibly Positive! Everyday I’m receiving either a message from a fan, or I’m reading a positive review, or I’m honored and blessed to be doing a Q & A like this one. This Album came together based on a culmination of topics in the news, social media, and life experiences that just kept popping up in my mind and/or with my friends issues. It seemed that everyone was dealing with issues after the honey moon phase of their relationship had passed. So I started off calling it “After the Honeymoon”. I even wrote a song with that title, but after I started measuring the cohesiveness of the entire Album, because that was important to me, I realized that these relationship issues that I wrote about, were in everyone’s life regardless of sex, adulthood age, or gender. These were real life issues that existed 100 years before I was born, and they’ll still exist beyond 100 years after I’ve passed. If you’ve lived life a little, and had the opportunity to lust, or fall in or out of love or remain in love, you’ve already experienced Real Life issues. Hopefully you’ll all relate to this Album or some of the songs, and every time I hear one more person likes it, I’m gracious, thankful, and honored to do something meaningful for a friend or a stranger.
Stoli: What song on the album is very personal to you and offer some background as well?
BJ: As an Artist, all of the songs are personal to me because they are an expression of my inner thoughts, feelings, and true emotions. They were either sparked by an event or a moment in my life, or in someone else’s life. Although I’m singing from my perspective as a man to a woman, these are all Unisex songs because the lyrical content perspective can be flipped, as men and women have dealt with this. If you listen to this Album in its entirety, you’ll find that it takes you on a journey of Love, Lust, Romance, Heartbreak, and the tangent of forgiveness through unconditional love. And hope. It’s just an emotional odyssey of Love.
To give honorable mention to a few songs:
“Nothing Come Between Us” – Basically reflects upon the tangent of true unconditional love that should exist no matter what occurs within a relationship. Whether you both agree or disagree, you should be able to meet half way to achieve the combined same goal agreed between you both, which is ultimate Love! Sometimes one has to fight harder than the other to get the point across but who cares if the end result is understanding, respecting, and fulfilling each other’s definition of true love and allowing nothing to come between you!
“If There is Love” – Is a journey of uncertainty that needs answers! I once had a spoiled, hot headed girlfriend, who needed to work on her communication skills a bit. When ever there was a ripple in our relationship, she was quick to shut down and bounce. I soon discovered the pattern of communicating with her, which was like learning calculus. So while writing this that chapter in our book relationships for dummies, I learned to just leave her alone, let her miss me a little bit and everything would be fine. But of course this got old quick, and it wasn’t fine with me ever as I consider myself to be a communicator. I always try to see the positive out of life and I loved her and believed she loved me at times based on what I understood about her definition of love, but I was never sure if she matched or could ever match my intensity. I kept an open door policy with her, and when she tripped out, I ignored the drama and let her come and go as she pleased. Eventually this wasn’t working for me, I didn’t like the fact that she seemed to only operate between 75 – 90%, when I was giving 150%. She could have at least kept it 100. I got tired of the uncertainty of knowing if there is love? I just wanted to know, there is love or there isn’t. I eventually left never knowing….
“Time to Cry” – Was the closure, reflection, and the aftermath of the journey through the uncertainty of if there is love. Once I closed the door as many of us end a chapter of a specific event in our lives, we move forward. I knew the open door policy had ended, and I now truly finally needed time to cry. The door was closed and if that person came back knocking, my tears had already answered the question of whether I’d open the door or not.
“The Otherside” – Reflects on waking up Sober after you’ve been drunk on Love, and it’s back to facing a few of the many challenges in life. That old saying my dad used to tell me “the grass isn’t always greener on the Otherside” isn’t always true? Sometimes it is greener! During a time when life seemed simple, like when you were a kid or a teenager. If you were lucky, mom and dad always had food in the fridge, clothes on your. back, and a roof over your head. Then you grew up, left home, and had to fend for yourself and deal with the ups and downs of the realities of everyday life. There’s a lot of issues and responsibilities that every adult has to navigate through, that we all must survive!
Stoli: At what time of day or mind set do you feel the most creative?
BJ: I like late night, and early morning. Usually in the morning as I wake, I like to meditate on a clear mind my goals and objectives and validate my positive thoughts. I also like to do this at night as the world quiets down, however I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to jot down a song idea quite a bit. For the most part, I can pretty much enter an environment and bring myself to a creative state of mind and complete the task at hand.
Stoli: I have been married now over 8 years. Can you offer guys like me some advice to keep my woman feigning for my loving?
BJ: I’m no Dr Ruth, or Dr Phil, but I’d say, know exactly who you are today, and let your woman know. And you should find out and know who she is. Hopefully she’s asked you this same question? Have the courage, and continued willingness to adjust, regroup, reset, and evolve through life together. Never close the channels of communication and most importantly remember about yourself what she fell in love with, and if you don’t know, ask her. And finally remember what floats her boat, and do that often with a bit of masculine tease involved…. Hopefully she won’t leave.
Stoli: Your voice enters my ears like an expensive Scotch. How do you keep your vocals in top shape both in studio and live?
BJ: I work at it constantly. Your voice is like a muscle, but you don’t go to the gym to work it out. I’ve had several vocal coaches and vocal influences, but I was Lucky enough to meet what I call the Jedi Master of Voice building, Gary Catona. Gary taught me a unique vocal style of training my voice that’s contributed to many assets of my sound, tone, and range.
Stoli: Where you @ online and where can we follow you online?
BJ: Please go to my website: http://www.bjsmithmusic.com all of my media links are there so just click on them, but just in case,