MICHAEL GUINN TALKS TMA wins, AND HIS OWN MUSIC STYLE

Michael, you won best music this September 2019 at the Tracks Music Awards. How do you feel?

I feel very honored, especially after checking out some of the other winners this month! 

How would you describe your own music, you own style?

This is always a tough question. I suppose my music mainly falls into the contemporary classical category, but I prefer to think of my pieces as songs that are simply arranged orchestrally. They might have vocals or not, but they tend to rely on larger instrumental forces for their impact.

However, I also compose a lot of music that mixes orchestral and electronic atmospheres. This is the main incentive behind a work like ‘Inner Vibration’.

Here we have a piece that starts off with an electronic ostinato, and when the strings and human voice enter as accompaniment, it produces a kind of musical shock

despite the fact that what follows is more organic– the strings and the human voice. ‘Inner Vibration’ has only three tracks on it– computer-generated (the electronic ostinato at the outset), organically-generated (the strings) and body-generated (the human voice). Music comes from this inner vibration of our spirit– our urge to create something that aligns with universal vibrations.

My work is very often inspired by literary and artistic works as well. I have just recently finished putting together a film called ‘Todesfuge’, which is a piece I made for a piano trio to accompany the poem of Paul Celan as read by the author himself. The film itself is a very rapid stream-of-consciousness illustration of his poem, which is based on his own experience of living in a Nazi concentration camp in Romania during World War II. I have submitted it to a few festivals in Europe and the U.S., so it will be interesting to see how it makes out.

What made you submit your work to the TMA – Tracks Music Awards in the first place? Looking for recognition, promotion, buzz?

Yes, of course all of those things are appealing for artists! Most artists believe that their work should have a larger audience, and

TMA is especially intriguing to submit to because they are open to such a vast array of genres and styles. So many music festivals these days are centered on popular genres, so it’s refreshing to have festivals like TMA for composers like me whose music falls into the more niche categories.

‘Inner Vibration’, for example, is very difficult to categorize, so getting it into just the right music festival is a challenge. So I’m grateful for festivals like TMA for providing a platform for a work like this that normally goes underexposed.


Have you won any other prize or recognition for your music?

Yes, actually one of those was from TMA. My song “Nineveh’s Burning” won for best lyrics at TMA in August 2017. That particular song did quite well at many film and music festivals globally, mainly due to a wonderful video for it by the Polish director Lukasz Pytlik and a standout performance by actor Michał Przybysz.

The song is the prologue for my musical/ opera based on the Epic of Gilgamesh, which I am still at work on. It has become the main project for my Ph.D. in Music Composition at Bath Spa University in England, where I now live.

You have a new Music Video, using your track Inner Vibration, can you tell us more about it?

The video is done in only five shots. The first is a shot of film leader with a lifeline on a screen superimposed on it. The heartbeat depicted is this physical inner vibration, and then there are four shots of astral travel as that inner vibration moves out into space seeking a universal equivalent. The footage was licensed from some obviously very talented animators, so I’m proud to have it up on YouTube. 

What are you up to now, what is your next project?

My current project is my musical based on the Epic of Gilgamesh. I’ve been at it for several years, and it’s roughly 75% finished at this point. I’m not rushing through with its composition because I want it to be as perfect as can be. The story is humanity’s oldest extant story– about 4000 years old or so. There is an artistic responsibility to make sure that the music and the interpretation live up to such a story, but I’m doing my best. And now that I am working on it with such great performers and collaborators in my Ph.D. program at Bath Spa, I am confident that we will produce a worthy work together.

Brika’s got some good Karma

Briana Alexa, known as Brika (pronounced “bree-kuh”), is an alternative singer-songwriter born and raised in Miami, Florida to Cuban-American parents. Her music, which has captivated audiences globally, is vibrant and melancholy, running the gamut of human emotions. A musician since the tender age of three, Brika’s intensely creative nature has been apparent from the start, in her childhood years of songwriting all the way to Voice Memos, her professional debut, recorded with esteemed producer Julio Reyes Copello. Her music has been ranked highly on Spotify charts and earned her placements on numerous playlists, in addition to general acclaim for what critics termed “incisively sharp, beautifully orchestrated pop music.”

Fabio Bertagnolli talks melody, recognition, and scoring

Fabio, you won best music back in September 2017. What are up to now to get into the new year ?
I am currently composing the score for a short film. I have also been writing music for Velvet Green Music, a production music library based in Los Angeles. These days I have received a proposal to write the music for a TV mini-series, and I have some more projects in the horizon for the next coming months.

Cool ! How would you describe your own music, you own style?
Melody for me is really important.

“I often look for passionate and emotional melodies, supported by harmonies that I would describe as tonal,”

but with the introduction of innovative elements and the fusion of different genres. Recently somebody defined my music as “embracing a postmodern aesthetic without separation from the traditional fundamentals.”

What made you submit your work to the ATMA in the first place ? Looking for recognition, promotion, buzz?
I would say a little of everything you said. And the beauty of the ATMA is that you can submit a great variety of genres, so there is recognition and promotion for every kind of music.

Have you won any other prize or recognition for your music?
Yes. I won the Honorable Mention Awards at the “Film Scoring Competition at the Indie Gathering International Film Festival” with the score of a trailer, the Bronze Medal at the “Global Music Awards” with “Paradise”, a piece for orchestra. I have been waiting for the results of a couple of other composition competitions in Europe, where I am already in the semifinals. Furthermore I have also placed three other pieces in the semifinals (two) and final (one) of the ATMA !

Way to go… Listening to your Soundcloud, the piano seems to have a central place in your work. Is that correct ? How do you relate to that instrument?
For sure piano has an important role in my music. Piano is my first love, and I am a classical trained pianist.

“This instrument also helps me in my creative process: I often sketch my musical ideas on the piano and then I orchestrate them.”

I am also a trombone player and I love the versatility of this instrument. I know… I am a strange combination of a pianist, a trombonist and a composer.

You worked on two short films. When were involved in the process: only after the film is completed, or before the shooting?
As far as the first film (a documentary), I started working on it in the post production phase. I have been lucky enough to have the complete trust of the director, who gave me a great liberty for the choice of the genre of music, instrumentation, etc. Regarding the second film (a comedy), I have started my collaboration with the director since the beginning. I had the opportunity to read the script before the shooting, so I could start thinking of the music even before seeing any scene of the film.

 

Who would be the composers you like and that may have influenced your work?
That is a hard question, I like so many composers so different one from each other. If I need to choose some, I would say Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss, Rachmaninov for the concert music. For the film music, I love John Williams (who doesn’t?), James Horner and Thomas Newman.

Lital Yohay to perform live on stage during festival on May 2nd, Los Angeles

Artist Lital Yohay, ATMA winner Best Independent Artist June 2017 with “Travelling Back in Time”, will perform live on May 2nd during the annual Talent Factory event.

She will sing her songs “Change” and “Solo Girl”, and will be given her Award Certificate in hands.

Two Road Theater, 4348 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604. Doors 7:30.
Tickets : EventBrite.

CHECK LITAL YOHAY ON :

Facebook

Soundcloud

Deezer

Itunes 

Amazon 

Spotify

YouTube

Twitter

Instagram

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

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 !

 

SONY DSC

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.

 

SONY DSC

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.

 

French Star AUREGAN WINS Twice at the tracks music awards


Singer songwriter Auregan won Best Country Song last week with her song “Shelter in the Storm” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

 According to our Judges cards, Auregan took the song to the final win thanks to her voice and her “delicate and strong” performance.

Born in France, singer songwriter and composer Auregan recently took a smooth turn towards country music after an immensely successful career in France and Europe, with her album “Rock Movie” and its follow up “Tortuga”. 

Jeremy Campagne, a long time guitar player for Auregan, explains “It felt natural for her to evolve as an artist from cetic rock to country music. That’s something she wanted to pursue for a long time”. As a matter of fact, country music finds its roots in Irish music, and most of the tunes we listen to everyday on the Highway and Sirius Xm come from a long Celtic musical tradition.

Auregan in the studio.

The French singer shares with us: “my name Auregan can translate to ‘Born from the sun’ or to ‘Golden Voice’”.

No surprise then to hear Auregan’s golden voice singing with Country Music legend Billy Ray Cyrus on “Shelter in the Storm”.

“Billy just recorded his new album Change My Mind” says Auregan, “which is just the perfect balance between road vibes, country groove, and modern, heartfelt music. I just released my album Tortuga”.

“Billy listened to Auregan’s work and he loved it” says Auregan’s promoter Emma Malkovich, “he was really excited to work with her. He picked her and they picked the song together” she adds.

When asked what drew her to want to work with Miley Cyrus’ father and “Achy Breaky Heart” singer, Auregan drops: “his voice. I’ve always loved Billy’s deep voice, and I felt both our voice would really, really match”.

The song was recorded part in Los Angeles, and part in Paris. “Working with Billy was amazing. But I have to say working with Brandon Friesen was equally satisfying”.

Brandon Friesen is an American, Grammy Award nominated and multi-Juno Award winning music producer and audio engineer. His body of work include recordings with Avril Lavigne, Nickelback, Mötley Crüe and producing shows starring Justin Bieber, Kesha, Selena Gomez.

Auregan working in studio with producer Brandon Friesen.

“Brandon and I discussed a lot before stepping into the studio. We were looking for the right performance, the right sound” shares Auregan. 

“The pre-production got her working on the song in Los Angeles, London and Paris” adds Malkovich. “The journey she made with Billy Ray Cyrus and Brandon Friesen helped them grow the song into what it became. This is the only duo Billy Ray Cyrus ever made with a non-American artist”.

Auregan working in studio with producer Brandon Friesen.

“A French girl doing Country Music? It’s bonkers” drops producer Brandon Friesen. “She is a first class musician, you can feel that when she’s in the booth” he adds. “Her approach to music was something like I never heard before. She knows the genre through and through, she knows the songs” concludes Friesen.

Auregan’s website, Instagram, Apple Music.


“Shelter in the Storm” was reviewed by our panel of international Judges including Grammy Award Winners producers and nominees, multi-awarded artists, established managers and musicians.

James Bell

We track the best.