Pianos Can Sing Too: A Quick Look into Pop Piano Covers

It’s not every day that we get to hear piano renditions of hit songs. All we hear on the radio these days in the way of individual instrumental solos are classical pieces or a 10-second solo in another song. That’s why you should check out these two accomplished Gigmor pianists, Michael Bogomolny and David Galvan, both experienced cover artists, in their fantastic covers of popular songs. First, here is a stylish video of Bogomolny covering Santa Esmeralda’s “You’re My Everything.”

 

 

Now, watch Galvan in his impressively multi-dimensional take on Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, in the form of a medley. Not only does he make it sound as though there are four hands playing the piano rather than two, he also manages to capture the essence and bounce of Chance the Rapper’s style and sway. Somehow, he manipulates the keys, adds his own style and rhythms, but never steers to far from Chance’s iconic beats. Galvan’s seemingly effortless performance is bound to make you do a slight double take.

 

 

Now, let’s bring it back to Bogomolny. With this song, you might remember it the best as a soulful, powerful John Legend hit – maybe one of his most famous and well-known. It graced the hit radio stations for months and got stuck in the heads of many, many, people at some point in time. However, here we have something different. Bogomolny captures the style of Legend in this cover of “All of Me,” but adds his own style to deepen the experience of a piano cover of a pop song. The emotion from the original lyrics sings through his hands, and tells its own story of the overwhelming pain of love – all vibrating up from the keys.

 

 

If that was not enough, take a look at one more great cover by David Galvan. He covers Drake’s “Too Good,” but takes it to a whole new level. Not only does he radiate Drake’s sounds, but he adds a completely new dimension only achievable by closely examining the melody on piano. Listen as he, like in the other videos, manages to sing the lyrics through his emotive playing and passionate rhythmic precision.

 

 

If you enjoyed that or are interested in more of their works, please check out both David and Michael on Gigmor. Hopefully you got a small taste of the world of pop music brought down to basics by some sweet, simple strokes of the keys.

 

Feature – Solo Costa Rican Artist Meli Malavasi

Gigmor artist, Costa Rican singer, Meli Malavasi, often combines rock and punk with the elegant smoothness of Latin vocals to create songs that are undeniably catchy and attention-grabbing. However, some of her works carry slow harmonies mixing with modern, syncopated guitar and drum rhythms that sway and pulse with passion. Check out “No Vuelvas Mas” which means “Do Not Return Anymore.”

 

 

Meli’s talents extend over a large musical range and across two languages. She is an accomplished songwriter, and writes songs both in Spanish and in English. Her versatility as an artist and songwriter has taken her far already. She was the winner of the International Songwriting Competition, in which she beat out over 20,000 other songwriters. Here she is singing “Open Your Eyes” at the Holiday Inn, Burbank.

 

 

Meli is already an accomplished performer, as she has performed in many notable venues such as The Mint, House of Blues, Amara Cafe, The Hotel Cafe, The Gibson Showroom, Levitt Pavilion, and many others. She also was given the opportunity to participate in The BMI/Warner- Chappell Songwriting Camp at the Gibson Showroom, and got to have some of her songs placed in TV shows “Bad Girls Club” and “American Pickers.” She was awarded with “Best Female Dance & World Artist” at the Indie Music Channel Awards. Malavasi is very flexible and versatile in her music, and often covers songs. Check her out performing “Invisible Sun,” a song by The Police, live at Drumfest in Costa Rica.

 

 

Most recently, Meli has worked on finishing her new Latin EP, Girasol. The album, now available on Soundcloud, was produced by Emmanuel Briceno, Musical Director from the 21-time Grammy Award Winning Band “Juanes.” It is comprised solely of emotional Spanish songs, driven by her multi-dimensional voice and graceful timbre. Though her previous music-both her originals and covers-was explicative of her talent, Girasol does it on a completely new level. Even if you do not speak or understand Spanish well enough to hear and absorb her lyrics, her emotional vocal style tells its own powerful story; with these songs, even if you don’t understand, you understand.

 

Be sure to check out Meli’s profile on Gigmor, check out her social media, and listen to her new EP. She has a few upcoming performances in Los Angeles, so for those interested living in LA or visiting soon, be on the lookout for Meli Malavasi and her unique style!

 

EMERGING ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: LA band Mainman

Today, we’re featuring Gigmor artist, Mainman, an Indie/Alternative group based in Los Angeles, California. Mainman found their sound by combining indie/psychedelic rock with surf and turf funk to create a repertoire of sundry tunes. The band’s song list includes a combination of originals and covers, each bringing a distinct new blend of sound. Check out their hit song “WWH” and the official music video that throws us back to the psychedelic visual-tint that we didn’t know we missed.

 

 

The band consists of four members. Lead singer Morgan Demeter’s voice is emotionally agitated and dimensional but soothing to the ear. He is backed by former Bear On Fire members; Chris Mintz-Plasse brings a smooth, steady yet moody foundation with the bass, while Nick Chamian sings along with Demeter on his guitar in his epic solos and consistently rich sound. The Hammerheads’ Ryan Dean’s command and ease with the drums binds together the group in performance, marrying the complication of sounds into a cohesive mix and makes the unexpected sound simple. Watch them playing “Feeling” live, “jammin’ in the van” in Ventura, CA back in May 2017.

 


Mainman is a fairly new group to the music scene – Wikipedia still hasn’t updated Mint-Plasse’s band-affiliation from his old one. Nevertheless, these guys are venturing into the music scene together with years of individual experience and a general love for making music. All of them are Los Angeles natives and still live in Southern California, a perfect hub for their style of music. They like to experiment and learn, and fluctuate between innovative original songs and some fun covers, and even some mixing. Listen to their “Vilify” mixed with their cover of Kendrick Lamar’s popular “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” performed at a small private concert, featuring their friend
Quintin ArsNova Pooler​ on keyboards.

 

 

Want more of their smooth, psychedelic, melancholy funk? Follow Mainman on Gigmor to get access to their music, social media pages, and gigging history so you can know when their next concert is. If you’re going to be in Los Angeles on January 12th come to Mainman’s show at the Satellite (buy your tickets here)! 

 

The other side of the show: an interview with Mindi Pelletier, a tour manager and music industry veteran

Gigmor was able to sit down and have a chat with Mindi Pelletier, a music industry veteran, who has worked as a tour manager for acts like the Dixie Chicks, Bette Midler, Tori Amos, and Stevie Nicks. She spoke to Gigmor about her background in the industry, how she got her footing in tour management, what changes she has seen over the past two decades, and a little bit of advice for up and coming artists today.

Mindi, it’s exciting to talk to a music industry veteran who has seen so much change and talent over the past two decades. Want to begin by telling me a little bit about your background in the music industry, and then more into how you got your start in tour management?

I grew up in a small town in Oregon, and we didn’t have a lot of live music or concert venues. In high school, my sister and I used to drive to either Portland or Seattle where we saw a number of different concerts and shows. I think it was an ACDC concert where something went wrong on stage — a pyro-related malfunction or something — and all of these people swarmed from the back onto the stage and fixed it. The show stopped for about a minute, but they came out and saved the show. That’s probably the first moment where I was exposed to this line of work and had that initial thought of “hey, that’s pretty cool.”

I also grew up in the era of MTV and was really inspired by the making of music videos at the time. I ended up attending the Art Institute after high school to pursue the music video production path, and there I met people who were also entering the music industry or who were already in it. Breaking into the world of music video production wasn’t super easy to do and I ended up taking a job at a friend’s stage hand company. From the very first day, it was tough; but I was hooked. And from there I just started working for his company. The company grew over time— going from 30 of us to over 250 people. I started being pulled into new or different roles that needed to be filled at the company and, although a lot of the time I didn’t know what I was doing, I was happy to be doing it. And I was learning a lot and no one had to know how little I knew going into it. I did that for years in Seattle and worked also in local production and other small jobs that introduced me to a lot of people on the road.

When did your work as a tour manager begin?

Bonnie Raitt came through once, and by that time I had bought a van and some other equipment that allowed me to act as a freelance production assistant and tour manager. I ended up driving Bonnie around for about a week while she was in town and then from there she asked me to go on the road with her as her assistant. From there on it’s been word of mouth, and a whole other new list of little production jobs, that taught me how to do things like production coordination and road management.

Then in 1999, I started as the tour manager for the Dixie Chicks. I acted as the band’s assistant and road manager, and I’ve been working with them for about 17 years now. A year or two after I started with the Dixie Chicks I started working with Tori Amos and then after that, I started to work with Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac on the production side of things.

Which do you prefer: production or tour management?

My heart is more in the tour management side. I think I’m better at doing the overall big picture logistics of putting on a show, and I’ve found that I work really well with female artists and communicating with them.

Where have you seen challenges for yourself and other women on the touring and production side of the music industry?

When I first started out on this career path there weren’t a lot of women and it felt very pigeonholed in terms of what you could and could not do — women were supposed to be wardrobe or catering or a production coordinator  — and that was kind of all that people looked at you (as a woman) to do. I grew out of those positions in the beginning. They are very skilled positions in their own right but I knew I needed to keep going and do other things. Working with the Dixie Chicks really allowed for me to do that. I was lucky because we all kind of grew up together: when I jumped into working with Dixie Chicks it was both my and the band’s first arena tour. We were all encouraging one another and the band always promoted from within, so I was able to grow and learn a lot.

It’s getting better but, sadly, it still comes up where people will not hire me because I am a woman. I no longer take jobs if people are unsure if I can handle it because I’m a woman. I’ve chosen to surround myself with people who embrace me as everything that I am.

What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your job?

If you don’t work on the production side of things you don’t realize how much work goes into every little thing, and I find it super rewarding when I come in with an artist during the afternoon prior to a show and everything is ready to go. You could have faced four or five different crises before the artists even got there — like a flood in a dressing room or something. That’s actually happened to me once, and we had to take out all of the carpets and put in new ones. Or sometimes you will have to load in twenty trucks in one day to a venue, and you have to get it done while racing against the clock.

Are you constantly exhausted? It sounds like you should be.

Well, yes. But it’s part of the job and I’m used to it. Sometimes there will be three shows in a row, like from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver. The show ends 2 AM, you’re back on the bus, maybe have a cocktail and then sleep for three or four hours until you have to get back up the next morning and start going again. It’s a grind. My grind is multifaceted though: sometimes I’m working as a sort of therapist for my acts and team by trying to make sure that everyone is in a good head space before they get on stage.

One of the things I learned early on is the show must go on. And sometimes that means sacrificing a couple days of sleep in order to guarantee that. It’s definitely better than it used to be, but a lot of the time that depends on the artist you work for. Everyone that I have worked with has been great and really works to create a family out of their staff and team so that everyone can take care of each other.  I have seen it not be like that on the other side.

How do you see your passion for music play into your job?

My passion for music is definitely what got me interested in my chosen career path but being in this industry for so long can make you a little bit jaded. I’m used to just walking in the back door — it would feel weird to walk in the front!

But it definitely did happen a couple of years back where I sort of lost some of my passion for music for a while. I had to start going to more shows and local music events when I am home or going to see other artists that I know when I’m on the road. Rarely, however, will I find myself actually watching a show. You have to keep that going, though — that passion for music. You have to force yourself to get out there and keep those juices flowing for the live music without focusing on the logistics behind it all i.e. how the lighting works or why they did this or that.

It’s not easy, though, and I definitely feel as though I got pretty jaded from all of that. I’m starting to do more and more of that, though, and I’m really trying to force myself to venture back into music and the discovery of it.

From your unique, more touring-focused perspective where do you think you’ve seen the most change in the industry over the past two decades?

Well with the rise of downloadable music and streaming services, you can’t sell your music the same anymore. And from my perspective, or from what I’ve seen, touring is no longer an option for artists. You have to do it in order to make money because you can’t really make money selling records like you could before. This change in how people are making money has also changed the music industry into more of a business. There is now more accounting, more multitasking within a job.

Albums aren’t as synced up with touring as they once were. For example, I worked on a tour with the Dixie Chicks that was in no way connected to an album release. A lot of artists have started doing that. But the reality of that too is that most artists who can tour so much have to have some sort of stationed following. Like when I work with Stevie Nicks — she tours because she loves it and she loves to keep her team busy. She is like your awesome cool aunt that employs you and feeds you tequila sometimes. There are tours, by the way, where you feel like it’s no longer a job.

Another thing I’ve noticed is the loss of ma and pa promoters, the small promotion companies that you build relationships with when you’re touring, a lot of those aren’t around anymore because it has become extremely corporate. I feel like that is one of the saddest changes that I have noticed; there were promoters that people used to work with in towns when they came through for years and years and they are just not there anymore. And because the music industry is so heavily focused on relationships and knowing people, you feel the change here. It’s more corporate, and you can feel it.

That is really sad to me, honestly.

It is, it’s sad but it does make space for people who couldn’t get out there before to get out there and have their music heard. That’s the benefit.

Have you had some time to look at the Gigmor site? Do you have any initial thoughts?

On the artist level, I think it has to be very convenient to have all of that information at their fingertips instead of having to cold call venues and contacts to get a gig — I think Gigmor is really going to help with that. It’s got to be so helpful — for both the artist and the venue — to have all of that information in a one-stop-shop.

The hard part has got to be getting everyone to use it, especially those who are more old school. That’s a road block that even I have seen in my job. But I think that you can work around it, and I definitely think that Gigmor has the power to do that.

Do you have any advice for anyone joining the music industry?

That’s tough because everything is so different from when I started but I would say that, for artists, you’ve got to work the social media.  I think you’ve really got to figure that out, and then you have to tour and have people see you. And hopefully, you are opening for a band that exposes you to some kind of larger audience.

On the production side of it, I think you’ve got to start locally, be willing to do anything, and maintain a positive attitude. I can’t stress enough how important it can be to have people that are pleasant to work with.  You also can’t expect to just jump into the industry and get the job that I have right off the bat. You can’t be a snob about the jobs that you are going to have to do in order to earn your seat at the table.

The journey and promoting of the 21st century independent artist: a conversation with Kevin Wright of Ramsay Mulholland Events

Gigmor sat down with Kevin Wright, the man running the show in the Marketing and Artist Development department at Ramsay Mulholland Events in Los Angeles. Kevin offered some insight into how to be successful as an independent artist and how he and the rest of the team at Ramsay Mulholland Events are working to better the promotions process for musicians today.

People generally describe music promotion as a thing of the past, but it seems like you and the team at Ramsey Mulholland have found a way around that. Tell me a little bit more about exactly what Ramsey Mulholland does.

Yes, of course! So we’re sort of set up in two different halves: accessible artist development for independent and local artists or entrepreneurs and the second is college-based touring and education.

Ok, let’s begin with that first part — what does artist development mean at Ramsay Mulholland?

What I saw when I was working at the label was that there wasn’t much we could do for people. The biggest artists are staying home anyways and doing their own thing — so what we noticed at the record label was that no matter how fast we move or how nimble we are, we can’t connect to the culture as efficiently as those who just are already in those cities and are currently experiencing that culture. Nashville, Austin, Atlanta, Chicago — they’ve all blown up, and the people who have grown from those places are choosing to stay there. Working at a record label taught me that and led me to decide that, well, maybe we should just switch the model. We started looking for artists who are just working on themselves in the space that they are from in specific areas across the United States. I wanted to take what I had learned as a label scout and give it to those independent artists and entrepreneurs throughout the United States so that they could reach a viable level of fame on their own. We are also trying to show them what they need and what they don’t.

So what does your interpretation of artists development and showcase entail?

It includes an artist meet-up and showcase. We saw that old model — where you get in front of a scout and anything could happen — and decided to flip it on its head a little bit where we act as the scouts that people get in front of but then we tell them what we think they should be working on to get noticed. We also try to get to know and work with artists before we get there and when we get there — until we leave honestly — just because the time we spend there will be so limited. We want to be able to speak of them and their act as well or as fully as possible because there is only so much we can do and say based on one specific performance. The more interaction and consumption of the artist, the better.

So the initial college tour will include thirty cities. We have invited artists, producers, DJs, managers, booking agents, and anybody that’s around the music scene in those cities to those events and we want to bring them together to connect and network. It’s 30 cities and about 10-12 artists for each.

What’s the college-based portion of your efforts entail?

It’s essentially the same thing as the artist development work we are doing — it’s a showcase and music meet-up. When I saw the guys trying to put the showcases together I remembered my time as a scout. I remembered people coming up to me when they were trying to put events together and using me as a scout at that time. They would go through the immense hassle of having to put an event together. And I remember wishing that when I was in college that there would have been an opportunity like this. I would have loved to have gotten involved — and I had the necessary skill set but no where to put it! So the idea of these showcases was sort of born out of that — they are not just for college artists, they are for the entrepreneurs and the business students as well. And the best part about it, honestly, is that it is for them and by them, with them being the college students who understand the community and music scenes around them.

From September through December of this year we are doing local showcases and then from January to May we are going to do the college showcases.

What is it behind all of this kind of work that drives you to do it?

Some of it comes from fighting for the independent artist but it’s also that the industry is changing super rapidly. It’s all changing so fast; I consider myself a student of the game and how it once was and what it will be due to the internet and the different ways by which we now as a culture consume music.

Everybody knows the artist, but what I learned when I got into the industry I learned that there are people behind the scenes — individuals like a Clive Davis or a David Geffen— that are 100 times bigger than you could ever imagine. For every one superstar that you could imagine they’ve got ten or twenty underneath their belt. Those guys are the real special ones, but the power there has been reduced over time. But that sort of power has been reduced, and now the artist almost has to create it on their own. The A&R men and women of the past were buying and then funding independent labels. I love that — they were removing the economic burden of these independent labels so that artists could have all the space to capture their work. They were funding them to have artistic freedom which is something that we hope to replicate on these college tours.

I wanted to bring that into the 21st-century music scene. All of these college kids think that they should be working towards a record label and how to suit those record labels in some way — and I’m trying to communicate to them and the entrepreneurs or business students around them that that old form is dead. The music industry is a changing game, and I want to relay those changes to these kids so that they and all their talent can react accordingly.

Everyone seems to have a doldrum outlook on the music industry. But you seem to have a hopeful outlook on it all, despite the criticisms of the masses. Why are you hopeful?

I remain super hopeful about the music industry, you’re dead-on. The music industry is healthier than it has ever been; there are more options for everybody and there are more ways to make money than ever before. In the transition, you had to lose some. You had to break a lot of eggs to make this omelette. But I really believe that it’s better and more inclusive than it has ever been. And it’s growing pretty rapidly. Most of us, us being the industry people, have to figure out how it is that our audiences are finding music now. It’s still pretty vague how people are consuming and looking for music, but we are getting better.

What’s even better about the current reality in the music industry is that it is a meritocracy. So if it’s great it’s going to survive and if it’s not it’s going to die quickly because that what the public decided.

What is some of the best advice you could give to struggling artists based on your perspective of the music industry?

I think that the most important thing is take the time and do your homework. I have my own label and that’s where I’m pulling this understanding from. It always starts with the music; everything starts with the music. People always come in and ask me: how are we going to promote this? And what about PR? And to all of that I always tell them to just go and make the music and you’ll be surprised how many opportunities come your way.

So one, make the music. And then two, do your homework. There are so many good songs that go out and no one is working to make sure that you are collecting royalties. It costs $9 to put a single out on TuneCore. It’s not that hard to get your songs out on Spotify, and SoundCloud is great too; but always do your homework because there are so many good opportunities online right now that can help you be more successful.

Any other specific recommendations that you would offer to up-and-coming artists? 

I would tell individuals to learn what TuneCore is, and learn what distribution is or label promotion, too. It’s not that hard to have your songs out there and seen by the public, but do your homework so that you can guarantee that you are getting the most out of every outing or performance you do. If you have a song on YouTube that gets one million or 100,000 views and you don’t do your homework, you’re likely to not make a single dime from it.

There was one duo that I developed outside of a label were two brothers who were really active on Vine. They had 300 million and 600 million in their number of Vine views and they just weren’t putting it on YouTube. I put a bunch of their Vine videos together and used their cellphone to do a sort of intro; we put that up on YouTube and now they have a new record deal at 17 and 18 years old. From that post too they got a deal with YouTube and their multi-channel network — they were doing all of the hard work but they weren’t doing the homework.

It sounds like a lot of your tour is focusing on smaller cities in the United States that still have a vibrant music scene but aren’t necessarily that immediate go-to place that a lot of people would consider. This is intentional, I assume. Why is that?

You have to make your music palatable, and I always think that you should start small and capture the attention of that small city. If you can capture the attention on that smaller stage, you can then take it to another, more major level. Someone like a Bryson Tiller who is from Louisville, Kentucky where everyone in Kentucky knew exactly who he was. Then, when you’re entering the New York or Los Angeles scenes, you’ve got far more people consuming your music but a foundation of fans to fall back on.