Derek Bishop is Blending up Some truly Diverse Melodies

I have interviewed Derek Bishop a few times now and I always enjoy checking in with him. I have had the pleasure of seeing him perform live and am very happy to call him a friend. His music has always reminded me of a mixture of Donna Summer mixed with a little Liza Minnelli. He is a true showman so his live performances are always a treat. His new album was done the old fashioned way and I think he may be on to something! I hope you enjoy the interview and encourage you to check out his all of his music- new and old. If you live in the New York area, be sure to check him out live if you can too!

Q: Your sound is such a combination of styles that it is actually quite unique. It’s been described as bubbly, fun, electro, pop, blues, and more. How would YOU describe it?

Derek Bishop: I haven’t really found the perfect description. For me, the goal was to take everything I loved about the music I grew up with and toss it all into a blender and then pour that into some highly-caffeinated, über-catchy beverage and share it with the world. I think it’s fun for someone to listen to the tunes and hear things that are a subtle flashback to the past. Yet the influences are extremely diverse: 70s Disco, The Muppet show, Broadway musicals, the Partridge Family, and of course, the best of 80s synthpop.  I want the songs to be a feast for the ears, and I want the listener to walk away really feeling like they just been treated something fun and unique.

Q: With the new album, I know you took it back a bit & used some retro techniques. How was that for you?

DB: That was really thrilling and quite the exercise.  We recorded the album LIVE and to tape, which was so old-school. This meant we all had to be on our game musically because each song was done in one take.  I used a ton of very vintage keyboards as the base of the album’s sound.  I think it gave it a wonderfully fresh sound combining the retro with the added bonus of today’s technology.

Q: We have a few mutual friends in the business and one of them, Brett Gleason, has played with you in the past and at your album release show. In an industry that can be quite competitive, it must be refreshing to be able to work with friends live and on albums and know them for so long. What’s your take on that?

DB: All the people that worked on the album were either old dear friends, or people that I felt an immediate trust with.  That’s REALLY important in collaboration.  Otherwise, you end up trying micromanage everything and that’s exhausting.  True collaboration in my mind is trusting someone to take your songs and bring the best of their talents and skills into the mix.  In doing so, they take your music to a whole new place — and that’s extremely rewarding to be a part of!

Q: If you could have lived in any other time, which would you have liked to experience as an artist?

DB: Between the music, all the great instruments and the fashions, I would have been in my perfect element in the 70s. Loving that era is probably why I continually try to recreate it with my music.  I find it such a creative time and so musically diverse too. That was before technology really took over.  Back then you still needed talent and skill, nowadays, you can get by with just a laptop and some photoshop.

Q: I like to ask this to everyone lately, What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

DB: The one thing I can’t live without is a piano!  (or some sort of keyboard.) Playing and rehearing is the best de-stressor I’ve ever found. I’m in my own little heaving when I’m at the piano.  The thing I’d like to do away with is texts. I really despise text messages.  I do not enjoy all those bings, and chimes letting you know you are continually tethered to everyone.  There’s a sense of “answer me now” that comes along with text messaging – and I’m not a fan of that.  I’d rather talk to you on the phone – or even better: in person!

Q: What’s up next for Derek Bishop?

DB: I’ve got several shows throughout the summer.  I’ll be playing in DC, July 18th at Tree House Lounge; NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall, Friday, August 7th at 8pm; my first ever “hometown” show, August 18th at the Rives Theatre in Martinsville, VA; and then in Wilmington, NC at the Calico Room on Aug 20th.  Along with those shows, I also have a brand new music video coming out for “Shutting Down” in a couple weeks.

Q: Where can we go to find you online and get your music?

DB: It’s everywhere!  Amazon, itunes, Google… Here are some shortcuts:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bicycling-in-quicksand/id963256008

http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Quicksand-Derek-Bishop/dp/B00SW67LR4/

https://derekbishopmusic.bandcamp.com/album/bicycling-in-quicksand

or at my website: http://derekbishop.net/store.html

Q: Do you have a favorite song on this album and a favorite to perform live from all of your work?

DB: My favorite song on the album is called “AUTOMATIC.”  It’s the song that really captures the sonic wackiness, the fun we had making the album, as well as the serious & sweet message.  That song has it all.  Plus, we mushed up so much of the 70s and 80s into that song.  It really reflects some lovely vintage sounds.  When we are playing the songs live, I really do enjoy “BAGGAGE” – as it just gets everyone up and dancing.  Plus, it’s fun (and technically difficult) to play well, so I love that challenge!

Q: What would you say to other artists who are out there struggling to juggle their craft and doing what they have to do to sustain themselves? How do you balance and juggle? Any helpful tips or advice.

DB: Stay focused and don’t give up.  If you believe in your talent, then just keep making product — and do what you do best.  Practice and get better.  Work on your skill sets and do your best to network with everyone.  It can take a long time and it’s easy to loose your drive — but don’t stop the determination.  If it’s something you really want to do, give up your leisure time, work those daytime jobs to help supplement the income, and become your best cheerleader.  You have to believe in yourself…and get used to not sleeping much!

Be sure to follow Derek EVERYWHERE to keep up with all he is doing:

www.derekbishop.net

https://www.facebook.com/DerekBishopMusic

https://twitter.com/MrDerekBishop

http://instagram.com/derekbishopmusic

https://www.youtube.com/user/DerekBishopMusic/videos

Brett Gleason ‘Calculated’ Official Video

I have had the pleasure of seeing Brett Gleason perform live on a number of occasions.   I have had the honor of interviewing him on a few occasions as well.  His music is such an interesting combination of literature, pain, and a little whimsy.  His video for ‘Calculated’ is something I am proud to share with you.

Derek Bishop Is More Than Just a Piano Man

To say that Derek Bishop is a musician or a keyboard player does not do this performer justice.  Derek Bishop is an experience on stage that one should treat themselves to.  The first time I saw Derek perform, I was impressed, intrigued, and delighted.  His showmanship perfectly compliments the lyrics and melodies of his songs.  I have had the privilege of seeing Derek perform in the NYC area and am so happy to be able to introduce you all to him.

Q: Did music help you to be more comfortable about coming out?

A: It didn’t necessarily make me more comfortable, but it gave me a platform to work through a lot of turbulent emotions.  And that platform provided me with some great songs and a much-needed cathartic outlet — which I feel very fortunate to have had.  One of my favorite songs of my album, “HARVEY” is specifically about coming out.  I think it will always be a favorite because of how that time in my life shaped me. It’s also the song where I get the title of my CD, “Resistance is Beautiful” — which is a lyric that is very telling about that era of my history.
Take a listen: http://soundcloud.com/derekbishop/harvey

Q: You describe yourself as “maker of melodies and odd odes.” Who and what sounds inspire you most?

A: I love ear candy.  I love sounds, instruments and arrangements that are different from what we normally hear in a song.  I want to create music that is “ear-catching.”  I work hard to give each of my songs a sound and a pallet that is unique combining elements that one might not usually put together.  In terms of what inspires me, it could be anything from finding an old xylophone in a junk shop and wanting to try implementing that into a disco song — or just hearing two songs back to back from two different eras and wanting to figure out how it would sound to merge those decades together into something fresh. Inspiration can come from anywhere: reading, bike riding, seeing someone good-looking walk down the street… And I don’t care if that inspiration ends up in lyrical or melodic form.  I just take it when it comes and run with it.

Q: Your music incorporates new sounds as well as old.  Would you say you are an old soul?

A: Although I love many a vintage thing from days gone by, I really don’t think I’m an old soul. I’m way too trusting and naive   A few songs on my album are about being lost, clueless and letting time and opportunities pass me by. I would hope that if I were an old soul, I’d be a little more quick to pick up what’s going on. That said, I am a smart guy who has the reward of past experiences on my side to help me guide through the future.

Q: What artists would you like to work with? Besides Brett Gleason, of course! :)

A: I would like a one-on-one with Butch Walker discussing music production and stage singing stamina (I think he’s just amazing!). I would love to record some songs with Christine McVie in a vintage-sort-of-way, using only Wurlies, Rhodes and B3s (she plays them beautifully…and I miss her voice!)  I would like to co-write a lyric or two with Amiee Mann. (She’s so smart and dry in her writing.)  I‘d love to sing harmonies with the fellas from The Kin. (The way their voices intertwine is a modern day alchemy.) And I’d like to do anything musically with Stevie Nicks… Heck, I’d be happy just to hang out with her! Lunch..tea…what ever she prefers! I’m available!

Q: I have been privileged to see you perform live. It is quite a performance. Do you see yourself as equal parts showman & musician? Any aspirations to act?

A: Thank you so much for saying that.  I’m truly thrilled you liked my show!  Honestly, I just try and put on a show that is equal parts musical and visual.  I want to make sure that I not only sing well, but I’m well-rehearsed on the piano. And I always consider what I will wear. I’m on stage, so I don’t want to just look like I’m hanging out on the sofa.  As a keyboardist, I’m somewhat trapped behind the piano, so I do make a concerted effort to make sure my show is more than just “guy-at-a-piano”.  When I see a show that I really enjoy — one that inspires me — I take mental notes because I want to ensure I do something similar at my gigs.  I want to entertain…but I have no aspirations to act.  Though I certainly enjoy making the music videos. Lip syncing and emoting to my own tunes is all the acting I care to do.

Q: Along those lines, is Derek Bishop the man the same as Derek Bishop the performer? Beyonce has her stage persona, Sasha Fierce, do you have one as well?

A: I have no alter ego. I’m just a little more confident on stage because I have melodies (and sometimes a drummer) to back me up.  Pretty much, I am the same fella on and off stage. I even dress the same. My songs are rooted in my experiences and history, so I want to share those as honestly as possible.  I don’t want to put on a mask that could cover anything up.

Q: Where can we find you online? Purchase your music, connect with you?

A: Online, I’m at www.derekbishop.net
You can find and purchase my music at Amazon ( www.amazon.com/Resistance-Beautiful-Derek-Bishop )
and Itunes ( http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/resistance-is-beautiful/id444180412 )

Socially, I’m most active on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr
https://twitter.com/MrDerekBishop
http://www.facebook.com/DerekBishopMusic
http://mrderekbishop.tumblr.com/

And be sure to check out my videos on youtube. (i’m working on a new one right now!)
http://www.youtube.com/user/DerekBishopMusic

Q: What do you think of shows like American Idol, The Voice, and X Factor? Do they help artists? Are they beneficial to the industry, in your opinion?

A: I believe they can occasionally help the occasional artist, but mostly they just create fast disposable entertainment. These shows are not about fostering talent, they are about ratings.  I don’t think they are beneficial to the artist nor the industry, because they aren’t looking for long-term talent.  The time frame these shows run on is just too fast. You cant grow a fan base at the rate these shows play out. Every now and then someone makes a big splash…so if you’re Carrie Underwood, then congrats to you.  If you’re one of the other winners or runners up, often times you are forgotten in a few weeks.  And then it’s in-with-the-new, out-with-the-old. It’s not about creating art or artists, it’s about creating quick commerce.

Q: What are some of your favorite songs to perform? Why?

A: When I’m performing for myself, I’ll put on some old Ben Folds Five tunes and play along. That’s an excellent finger workout! If I want a good vocal workout, I’ll sing along to my favorite Butch Walker tunes. (He’s got a range and nuance that I find inspiring.) In terms though of performing live for others, I tend to do well covering Fleetwood Mac tunes, since I’ve been playing them for 25 years!  But my favorite songs to play live are my own.  I’m still proud and in love with all the tunes off my CD, “Resistance is Beautiful” — and playing them live (either with a band or solo) gives me great joy.  My top songs off the CD are “Why Hold On”, “Thinking About You,” “Pass Me By,” and “Jackpot.”  Playing my own songs means they are constantly evolving – the arrangements always changing.  I love that.  The difference between how these songs are performed live and how they were originally recorded is huge. I find that exciting as a performer and as someone who loves these tunes.

Q: What’s up next for Derek Bishop?

A: Right now I’m about 75% finished writing songs for my next album.  I’m planning to record it early this winter and even before that I’m going to perform them live several times with a full band.  Where the last CD sounded like a nod to the 1970′s, these new songs will be a more 80′s influenced.  I’m going to be using a lot of synthesizers in the recording (mostly the very vintage ones I’ve had since I was 12!)  I also want to take advantage of all the really talented friends I have and use them throughout the recording!  Of course I’ll also be making some really fun wacky videos as well.  In the mean time, I’m going to do my best to keep promoting my current CD, which I still believe has a lot of life in it!

 

Brett Gleason: Thawing Nicely

I have been friends with Brett Gleason for a few years now and have always marveled at his music.  His lyrics are deeper than many other artists.  They seem to have a storybook quality, I often equate them to content in a great novel.  I enjoy watching him perform and am always excited to be able to actually have a conversation with him.  His playful intelligence is refreshing as well as eye opening.

I hope you enjoy the following Q & A session as much as I did and that you find a new artist to become a fan of in the process.

Q: To begin, can you give us a little about your background? How long have you been interested in music? Did you know from early on that you had such talent?

A:  I grew up on Long Island, splitting my time between sports and music, mostly piano and gymnastics. I played clarinet in the orchestra, studied jazz guitar for one year, classical another before having the conviction at 13 to be a songwriter and performer.   It was years before I had the courage to ‘come out’ with this ambition and I’m still trying to prove myself.

Q:  I have personally always described your work as literature set to music.  Where does that “extra” literary element come from? 

A: Thank you, that’s a beautiful compliment.  Nothing’s more powerful than the pairing of words and sound. I love fiction and seriously studied it with the hopes of being a novelist but my temperament and skill set seem better suited for immediacy of music. There are however, many similarities in composing music and fiction mainly, the passage of time and their ability to manipulate emotions.

Q: What emotions and images would you like to know you are evoking in your fans when they listen to your music?

A: Complex and contradictory emotions: I believe in the inherent duality of everything, for better and worse.

Q: Your first CD, The Dissonance was comprised of some serious material, as is Destruction and The Thawing.  Ever think about doing a pop/dance number? :)

A: Ha, not personally but I’d love someone to do a dance remix of my work.  I like taking things out of context, could be very ironic.

 Q:  Seriously, I know Tori Amos is a big influence on you.  Who else influences you and why?

A: Tori’s been a huge inspiration in my piano playing, helping me to embrace it as the centerpiece of my sound.  In terms of songwriting, the biggest influencers are ‘The Smashing Pumpkins’.  I was obsessed with their entire catalogue throughout my teens and remain in awe; I love their larger than life sound and ambition.  My production is however, built off of the NIN/Trent Reznor philosophy that a song can be both bruising and vulnerable, abrasive and beautiful.

Continue reading “Brett Gleason: Thawing Nicely” »

Top2Bottom & Everything in Between

Some things are just meant to be. This I know for sure.  After meeting Harold and Andrew, one quickly realizes that they were meant to be “somebodies” AND they were meant to do it together.  Although different personalities, they compliment each other perfectly while raising the energy in any room they occupy.  I had been following them on twitter under their show account, @Top2BottomBoys for a while and I remember immediately liking their profile. The first line reads, “Opinions; everyone’s got one, too bad OURS is the ONLY one that counts.”  C’mon, that’s bold and funny.  Of course, I liked them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/Top2BottomBoys but I never thought it would all lead to this article.  You know what they say, NEVER say NEVER.

I was at the 140 Twitter Conference in NYC when I got a tweet from them saying they would like to have me on their show. Flattered, thrilled, but not one to let an opportunity pass me by, especially lately, I immediately asked them if I could sit with them for an interview.  When they arrived, I realized we had all been at the NOH8 Campaign photo shoot in NYC in May.  I guess fate intended for us to meet one way or the other.

Let me tell you a little about Harold (seated, right)  and Andrew (standing, left).  Harold is all about fashion, having fun, enjoying the night life. Andrew, while still very fashionable, is more about the self help, yoga, and hasn’t had as much time to party.  He’s an early riser while Harold would prefer to sleep in.  Although, I have a feeling if Andrew had the time, he knows how to stir up some trouble.

As far as Top2Bottom, it will be premiering on Monday, July 11th at 9pm as a part of Top Shelf Network.  It will be a show about everything from NY nightlife to self help to fashion, and more.  I think of them as a sassy Oprah and Gayle.  The unique part of Top2Bottom and Top Shelf Network, is that it is tied into merchandise & charity. You can visit their online store to buy items with show logos and their events will all be centered around various charities.

We were also joined by Eleni and Demetra, co-founders of Top Shelf Network as well as hosts of Sweet and Vicious. The Sweet and Vicious podcast is featured on the iTunes what’s hot for new and worthy podcasts. Monday, June 27th was their live premier and I was right there to enjoy every Sweet and Vicious moment!   Read the conversation after the jump:

Continue reading “Top2Bottom & Everything in Between” »