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Elena Berkovitch remixes Hans Zimmer

Can you tell us more about your winning song, how you created it, where does it come from ?

I had the idea to show my real “Time”, modern time from born until death with much of beautiful moments and totally stress. The time before death is pretty short and we have just a few seconds before „the gate of life“ will be closed.

Therefore the remix has a transition from the first almost classical orchestral part to the hard sounded dubstep part.

This is my first project in electronic (production) music, the remix of “TIME” by Hans Zimmer (the Soundtrack to the Film “Inception”). The Remix does not include the original samples or stems of Hans Zimmer, all of the instruments were played by me with the hardware controller and sound libraries.

It is not the first time you get selected to the American Tracks… How do you use your wins and selections to promote yourself ?

I’m just starting to use social networks to build my internet presence. So I shared a Link to the Facebook-Site of American Tracks Music Award and my image with laurel on Facebook and SoundCloud.

Now I plan my own internet site, where I will publish the link to your website under “awards“.

Cool ! As an artist, what are your goals, what are you aiming for ?

I have just graduated as an Audio Engineer (in SAE Institute) and now I learn and begin to compose music for films and TV. I’m looking for a way and for people to collaborate with and going this way together. This is my biggest dream, realizing it will make me completely happy.

 

What would be some of your references or influences ?

My russian and jewish roots and the folk music that my mother sang in my childhood influenced me.

 

 

At the age of 7, my sister gave an album of classical music to me. When I heard Beethoven’s symphony N 5, a thousand stars exploded in my mind…

… and I realized, that music is able to strongly influence me and that it has power. Later I played and sang jazz and blues songs with my bands at the age of 20 and the styles influenced my musical perception. And of course i have a big respect for the greatest composer of our time Hans Zimmer and his Remote Control Productions team. I hope someday to meet him.

Where can we find your music ? Spotify, Itunes … ? Give us the links !

I’m just starting now and have not published many of my productions yet. They are still “in box” waiting for great release, some titles you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/berkovitch

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Jackson Wells rises and shines

We have amazing artists coming to the American Tracks Music Awards. One of them is Jackson Wells. Jackson won artist revelation back in September 2017, and was again selected in December 2017. Way to go for 2018 now !

 

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You won artist revelation this September at the American Tracks contest. Congrats! You already got Finalist at the “Song of the Year” contest, and Semi-Finalist at Unsigned Only… It looks like your song has a great echo. Can you tell us more about the origin of the track? 

Sure! Originally the track came from a challenging period in my life. I always turn to writing music when I’m dealing with difficulties, because for me it continues to be a good way to cope with and understand what I am going through.

Most, if not all of my music, comes from real events I’m going through, for better or for worse.

Fallout was cathartic for me—I lost a best friend over a situation that hit me out of left field. Betrayal is a tough emotion to deal with, and I can’t tell you how important writing was toward processing that event.

 

You are NY born, but living in Nashville. Did you come down there in your search for rock’n’roll / country music? Do you feel Nashville still is the city for music opportunities?

Surprisingly, I didn’t move to Nashville to pursue music! I actually came because my family relocated due to a work relocation for my dad. But I did fall in love with performing and writing rock and country music living in Nashville, whereas in LA I concentrated only on pop music. I have had a lot of great mentors both in Nashville and in LA that have taught me so much over the years. I don’t think I would have the diversity I have now and would be the artist I am today without having lived in both locations. I do think that certain opportunities may be easier to pursue in Nashville, for instance if you are solely a country music artist, but I think LA holds equal opportunities for indie, rock, and pop artists. Nashville is definitely growing though in its scope of prospects for all kinds of artists. Americana is really on the rise.

 

Fall Out is the last song listed on your album Souvenirs & Secret Doors. And one of the last lyrics is “I HOPE ONE DAY YOU’LL FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKIN’ FOR”. What are you looking for with your music?

I just hope that my music brings something to others that matters to them, that it connects with them, when they listen to it, whether it be happiness, sadness, or whatever emotion is called for.

I think music, regardless of where you come from, bonds us all with simple truths. A lot of people have gone through the same things in life, and music allows us to voice that in a melodic way.

There is a saying, “When words fail, music speaks.” I can’t explain why music can touch so deeply, but I have always felt that it’s my best connection to people—much more so than a straightforward conversation, in my case. I’m more capable being honest and open in a song. Not that that’s ideal!

 

You published lately a song from Eric Church on your Facebook. Who are the artists that you would dream to work with, or that have an influence on your music?

Eric Church would certainly be one of them, because the way he connects with his fans is nothing short of amazing. I’ve looked up to him for years as far as how he works with his followers, and the way he organizes his shows as an experience for them. People go to shows to encounter moments. Jeffrey Steele is a master at this—his music comes from his heart, and his enthusiasm at sharing the stories behind the lyrics and connecting with the audience is remarkable. He’s honest, above all, and people can feel that. Along with those two, I would love to work with Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20. Rob’s music was something my parents and I bonded over on the car rides to school, and I’ve always loved the way he writes and produces quality content. Old songs, new songs—they just don’t age.

 

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Do you perform on stage? What are your next shows?

I do perform on stage–its probably my favorite thing about my job! I currently have some upcoming dates in China, which is where I spend about half of the year, both studying for my master’s degree and touring with my band. I’ve performed there for the past six years for audiences between 50 and 10,000, at festivals, live houses, and university campus concerts. I have a number of songs that were written in English, but I’ve translated the choruses into Chinese and that works out great. But I am currently putting some things on the books in the greater Nashville area too!

 

Black Mirror breaks records at the American Tracks

They took 3 wins out of 3 nominations in the September competition. They even got finalists against… Themselves. Boy, that’s a way to be 100% certain to get the trophy !
We had to know more about this dark and sensitive duet… Here is the Black Mirror interview for the ATMA.

Hi, can you tell us more about Black Mirror : are you a band, where does the name come from… What’s your backstory ?

We are Inés Bonet and Arsenio Cavada from Spain. We started back  in 2014 when we met accidentally, and as a game we made several spontaneous covers of songs by artists that we admired. We did it during our free time, it was fun but soon we felt need to start composing our own songs, writing our emotions and turning them into music. The musical connection between us was surprising and ideas began to emerge immediately.

We started to share them on social networks (SoundCloud, Youtube, Hispasonic …) enjoying the simple fact of creating, sharing and interacting with other people.

We are indeed a band, but an unusual band, we almost don´t see each other´s face, our inspiration and work process has always been mediated by distance,

behind a computer screen, swapping files, so Black Mirror is the dark surface of a display accidentally turned off when we are in front of it, it reflects us and makes us think about our life.

You just won at the American Tracks Music Awards (September edition) and you set a new record : you got 3 wins out of 3 nominations win Best  Lyrics, Best Independent Artist and Best International Song. How does that feel ?

We are grateful and surprised. It is an honor for us. We never thought that we could be selected among so many artists, particularly in an international competition. There are fantastic artists all over the world, in the shade, we appreciate that many people share with us this music passion and that there is so much talent everywhere.

These types of competitions are a perfect way to give a chance to all those who are out of those habitual ways.

So, thanks …

For that latest category (Best International Song) : you got finalist with Cloudy Day, competing against… Yourself, with another song “Satin Gloves”. This is a first in the ATMA history. You have to know the Judges votes for the tracks in an anonymous way. They noticed the same style and “brand” but you beat the competition. Are you used to that type of winning ?

In fact, it’s the first major prize we’ve won. It is really gratifying, also the fact that our own style is perceived in our music, that means that we are honest and coherent and that inevitably our music is impregnated with a unconscious own brand that is always printed in our songs.

How does your music come together ? What s your writing process, the way you compose ?

Black Mirror’s way of working is based on an individual work in our personal studios and exchange of digital files, which frequently include domestic noises, birds, dogs, crickets, etc. These imperfections make our music is, in addition to music, a capture of the circumstances that existed at that time, everything remains as it was, as a result of something that happened, a photo of the past.

Production goes hand in hand with composition in a linear additive work, a bidirectional input dialogue that lasts for a few days per track.  There is sometimes a real uncertainty about the end result, often unorthodox and unplanned, but that process produces unexpected fruits and it’s very gratifying artistically.

Cloudy Day, Half Life and My Innocence : are these tracks all part of the same album ? 

Cloudy Day and Half Life are songs from our album “No colours for Concern”, in fact we never had intentions or expectations of publishing any album, but one day the record label from Tenerife “El Hombre Bala Records” proposed us to edit an album with a selection of our songs. It was a surprise too…

My innocence was a song we made after the release of the album, and we think it has a new level of maturity.

Where can people by your music ?

Our album can be purchased in Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc.

Our music can be listened on SoundCloud and Youtube too.

Your music has some melancholy in it, beautiful melodies but also an obvious dark side of some sort. What are your influences or references ?

Of eclectic musical tastes, our influences are various and include classical music, the British pop of the 60s, Symphonic and progressive Rock, the American Folk and more recently the music developed by bands like Massive Attack, Portishead, Depeche Mode, so also we are influenced by Trip Hop and electronic music, in a more aromatic than formal way.

Do you perform on stage ? Have your concerts schedules for the months to come ?

We are not a usual band, we don’t even re-interpret our songs once they are finished.

What are your projects for 2018 ?

Our project is to continue having these moments of pleasure making music in the same way that until now, enjoying the process and without compromises that turn it into something unpleasant or overwhelming.

 

And here is the brand new video music of BLACK MIRROR : “Worms”, which is the first single from their new album.

 

Stefan K, very 1st score award winner, talks to us

Stefan K. (standing for Kristinkov) was our very first winner for a score, back in December 2016. He also submitted the same motnh with another track that got finalist… The same category, against himself !

We went back to him to get to know more about his music.

Stefan, you were one of the three winners of the inaugural edition of the American Tracks Music Awards, back in 2016 (score category). Do you remember submitting and why?

Yes, I remember submitting. At that point, RJTD had already received a few awards and was featured on a few film festivals.

I was browsing through the Filmfreeway for festivals accepting music scores, and found American Tracks Music Awards. And I thought that it would be an appropriate place to submit. I was not disappointed.

Later, it was included in my album of film music titled “1:31 AM”.

 

Do you consider RJTD like a classic or regular music score ? Or what’s its originality ?

Well, the film music genre is still young, so, I believe it is too early to determine what is classic in it and what is not. There are constant experiments going on. People are trying different things to better convey the message they want to deliver.

RJTD is definitely experimental in all aspects, and, like everything I do in music, it also combines and fuses elements from different styles.

In addition, it is written using the compositional technique that I am developing, which, I believe, is well suited for conveying different, even contrasting emotions. There are no “clean” emotions in real life. It is always mixed – happiness and pain, sadness and hope and so on. And in RJTD it needed to be funny and scary.

 

You have a solid music background. Can you tell us about you and your music path ?

I started studying music at 5. Then music school, music college, conservatory, university. I was and am performing and recording with many wonderful musicians, in different countries and in many different styles and situations. All this has definitely influenced my compositional style.

 

Do you perform on stage you own music or are you a performer for other bands?

Yes, both, but not as often lately…

 

You published many songs and tracks already. Where can we find them ?

My music can be found anywhere where people usually get their music. iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, iHeart Radio and so on.

 

Is there something special bounding you to music made for film?

Music in film tells a story. It is there, because there is something that cannot be told with other means – visuals, dialogues, sound effects. This is usually about emotion, emotional state, feelings.

I like to do this, especially in situation when music tells something different, and really influences viewers’ emotional response.

Besides, musically it allows doing things that are not possible, or not appropriate in other genres. Thus, this enables a composer to be as creative as possible, which is very rewarding.

What are your music plans and projects for the next months ?

Recently, I wrote a score for a series pilot – e very nice, fun and non-violent story, or a series of stories, if there will be a continuation, which is expected. If so, I will be working on that.

My new album titled “A.M.A (Ask Me Anything)” is coming out these days.

So, please, check it out when you have nothing else to do. It is a first full-length album featuring me as a composer and a clarinet player. I’ve nicknamed it “clarinet, like you never heard before”, because it features clarinet in many unusual situations, which was never done before. Not on one album, at least. I have plans for my next album, and a few interesting collaborations are in the works.

The pair behind “House of Disaster” talk their double win at the American Tracks

Sergio and Elena form the two-side faced artist behind the “House of Disaster” project. This August, they got selected to 4 different categories during the same competition, and eventually took home Artist Revelation and Best Music. What a run ! We had to get back to them for an interview…
House of Disaster is the first submitter to win two different categories in competition on the same edition at the American Tracks Music Awards. Many congratulations. Can you tell us more on who you are, and how both of you form “House of Disaster” ?
 
House of Disaster is an Italian’s production and artistic couple and Company with a very special collaboration. We are also a real couple in our Life. Sergio is the musical part of the group; he comes from the electronic music, he was an international DJ. Elena comes from the theatrical and artistic world. She studied at the “Liceo Artistico” and  worked as costume creator in several touristic villages. After that she developed her ability in make-up-FX :  she is able to create with her crafts several scenographic effects. Both involved in artistic world but in different ways. 
You won best music with “Towards Glory”. This award usually goes to musical tracks, or instrumentals within our contest. This is the first time is goes to a score / film music. How would you define your own music : music for films, or music in another way ?
 
The best definition for our music is “our  polyhedrical feel”.
It is simply the product of our emotions, our love for any artistic field and of our synergy in our private Life such as in working Life.
Fortunately we are able to produce several type of music and, for this reason It could be used for films, spots, cinema, TV, media…
You won Artist Revelation, which is a big deal, with another track : “Dark Angel”. What about the genesis of this track, and the album that comes with it ?
 
The title “Dark Angels” was inspired by our personal vision and dark universe. In fact some of our Friends told us that our love for the dark and horror world is always in contrast with our kindness in real Life. We are the angels of the dark art ! 
Are both of these tracks pertaining to existing films ? Short or features ? 
Only “Dark Angels” has been use for a small segment in our short “Le Ombre di Sheila” fully produced and directed by us. 
Following on that short film, “Le Ombre di Sheila” (The Shadows of Sheila). What is it about ?
This is a short film that touches a very important theme for young boys and girls who live in very self-righteous families. But when everything seems loose… Something supernatural happens. Every moment of the work has been spiced with our dark and horror touch. This is just like our signature.
What was the job each of you assumed in this project ?
Together we have been the mind and the arms of the entire project in the dame ways. We first wrote the screenplay, selected the actors after a big casting. We both directed the actors and the camera operator. Sergio oversaw the audio and Elena the makeup, costumes and scenography. Together we assumed the entire organization from the begining to the end of the set. Sergio then composed all the tracks and worked on the sound design with the help of Elena.

Checking on your website, you have a lot of music to listen to here, your “Colonne Sonore”. You seem pretty creative. How long does it take you to compose a track ?

There is no a fixed time to compose. It depends on the particular sensations during the moment I’m composing.
Generally for a complex track with a complex mix of instruments the timing is about 2/7 days.
We have been asked for a soundtrack for an USA horror serie and in 1 day I have completed the entire track. 
Can you tell us about some music references you may have ? Some role models ? And some films you look at your own personal classics ?
My inspiration is my life, my family in which I can find all my energy and effort. I think my music is something innovative and different, this is the reason why I can firmly say that it is not a copy of anyone or inspired by no-one than my personal feelings. 
What are your ongoing or soon to come projects ? 
We can only say that we are going to work to another cinematographic project, surely another album and a couple of other top secret projects. 
Sorry but we can’t be more detailed for the moment. 🙂

Molly Smith : Artist revelation, July 2017

Molly Smith won Artist Revelation at the ATMA this July, with her song Born to Fight.

Currently a student at Montverde Academy in Florida, she answered our questions following her win.

Molly, you won artist revelation this July at the American Tracks Music Awards. Is this your first award at all ? How do you feel about it ?

I am so honored to win the artist revelation award. It is so exciting to be recognized for my own personal song. I’ve won talent shows at my school and theater/vocal related awards but never anything for songwriting.

What are your artists references ? Your influences ?

A lot of my influences come from Ed Sheeran, Damien Rice, Jose Vanders, and Halsey. I love the lyrics that Halsey writes, she’s very visual and I try to write in that similar style. I’ve always been inspired by piano ballads by Tom Odell and Lewis Capaldi, which I think is why a lot of my music is mostly ballads. Born to Fight is one of my few more upbeat songs. Twenty One Pilots has also always been a favorite of mine because of the way they mix genres. I listen to every genre of music so I feel like this starts to show in my writing.

Lyrics of “Born to Fight” are kind of dark, with deep feelings and the urge of fighting back. But you are only 15, where doe that anger comes from ?

Teen angst of course! But actually, the song comes from a serious place of realizing that what I want to do with my life is very difficult and will be filled with obstacles. This song is for all the people who told me I wasn’t good enough or I wouldn’t succeed. The lyrics are basically saying to those people, “I’m gonna make it because I won’t stop working hard until I do.” Born to Fight also is sort of a song to myself, after coming out of some difficult teenage years, that I wasn’t born to give up. I made it through the hard times because I fought my way through it. That’s pretty much how the idea blossomed.

The music on the contrary is more down tempo, giving some space to the lyrics and the story you tell. Are you the composer of the track ?

I composed the piano, melody, lyrics, and bass for the track, but the piece was produced at a music summer camp called “Prodigy Camp.” I was really lucky to get to work with producer Andy Park, his drummer Sean (who did all the percussion and is really brilliant), and was mentored by Tyson Motsenbocker and Kris Orlowski. Chappell Roan, a brand new artist who just released an awesome single on Spotify, mentored me on lyrics as well.

I was so honored to work with such talented mentors and I really learned a lot through the whole process.

We had a lot of fun playing around with the percussion and got really out of the box. Some of the sounds in the song are a mic stand sliding up, drum sticks on concrete, and dropping rocks on the ground.

Is Mollywood the name of your band ?

Mollywood is actually a nickname my parents gave me as a child, but for now I am sticking with Molly Smith as my artist name. I don’t really have a band so I’m just more of an acoustic solo act right now. When I perform I love to play some of my other originals and covers where I can do a unique spin on the song.

Your soundcloud lists more than 10 original songs and about as much as covers. Do you have an album out, or singles, where can people buy / listen to it ?

My single “Born to Fight” will be on iTunes, Spotify, and other streaming services August 11th ! Some of my songs are on youtube, including my original “Broken” and the rest are on soundcloud for now.

Do you work on your music on an everyday basis ?

Music has always been a stress reliever for me, so just about every day I play guitar or piano for about an hour. Usually when I write it comes in chunks. I’ll maybe stay up all night writing a song but then I won’t write anything for two weeks. I try to just let it come naturally. If I don’t seem to have any ideas I’ll just work on a cover or music theory.

What are your plans for the near future ?

In the future I would love to work on professionally recording an EP. Labels these days seem to want artists already established on social media, so I’ll also be posting videos on youtube much more often. Other than that I just gotta keep writing!