Groove with the Funk: Gussie Miller

Sit down, get ready, and tune in to this artist’s smooth bass lines, and lively horns and let fantastic vocalist Gussie Miller wrap you up in quite a mood. Listen here to his band’s upbeat and funky song, “What More Can I Say.”

 

 

Gussie Miller has been in the entertainment industry from the time he was a child. His background in music comes from his time growing up in a musical family. Early in his life he was taken under the wing of some notable studios and came to understand the workings of commercials, TV and film production. From then on, he branched into the music world. He went on tour as a background singer for some pretty famous artists, such as Cher, Lavern Baker, and Seal. His voice is on tracks with these artists, as well as others such as Marcus Miller, Gino Vannelli, and break out artists Jessica Celious and Lance Todd, among many others. Watch him here rocking out with famous actress Janelle Monae at the Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood.

 

 

If you listen to Gussie’s voice, you can just hear the years of experience he carries. His melodies are smooth, and articulate, but never boring. And check out his range – it’s pretty incredible. Many of his songs begin in slower, deeper, lower melodic lines and ascend until you don’t think that Gussie could sing any higher. His vocals drip with talent, hard work, and sheer enjoyment. You can hear him smiling in his voice while he hits high notes none of us could even imagine reaching. Most of his tracks display his sheer, natural gift and extraordinary control of his vocal chords. Listen closely to how much he commands control of pitch and places pieces of vibrato perfectly in each line. Here’s him performing “Give it All” for the NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest.

 

 

In addition to his features on multiple albums with other artists, Gussie has also had some of his music played on various TV shows and movies, such as Cop Rock, South of Sunset, Family Matters, Doogie Howser M.D., I Think I Love My Wife, and Everybody Hates Chris. Gussie, however, in all of his years as an accomplished professional musician, had not released an album until 2016. However, he finally released his self-produced album Forever Plan that year on the Artis Musicai label, which he recorded with “Motown engineer” Ralph Sutton. The album is an amazing collection of songs, all different, but never going too far from Gussie’s distinct sound. Listen to this recording of Gussie singing “Wantin’ You,” from Forever Plan, in a live rehearsal with his band.

 

 

Gussie’s work for Forever Plan paid off. It’s now available on multiple online streaming platforms, and is for sale on many online music-selling companies such as Amazon Music, eMusic, iTunes and GooglePlay. Gussie is currently working on live shows and touring, but is excited for 2018, when he plans to release his next CD. Watch out for him around Los Angeles, check out his page, and try to see him live. Guaranteed, you will not be disappointed, and furthermore, you won’t be able to stop bouncing your head to the smooth, jazzy, funky beats he’ll glue right into your head.

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.