meta-scriptThe Genius Of Dan Nigro: The Producer Of The Year Nominee On Olivia Rodrigo's 'GUTS' & Why His Success "Doesn't Feel Real" |
Dan Nigro press photo 2024
Dan Nigro

Photo: Shervin Lainez


The Genius Of Dan Nigro: The Producer Of The Year Nominee On Olivia Rodrigo's 'GUTS' & Why His Success "Doesn't Feel Real"

Celebrating his first Producer Of The Year nod at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Dan Nigro details how he's become the creative whisperer for pop's most vulnerable stars, from Olivia Rodrigo to Chappell Roan.

GRAMMYs/Jan 23, 2024 - 06:38 pm

Few artist-producer collaborations in contemporary pop music have been as successful as Olivia Rodrigo and Dan Nigro. Since the singer burst onto the scene with her record-breaking debut single, "drivers license" in 2021, she's been an unstoppable force, with three No. 1s, a streak of Top 10 singles, and three GRAMMYs — and Nigro has been integral in that success.

The Long Island, New York native has solely produced or co-produced every song Rodrigo has released to date, as well as co-writing the majority alongside the superstar. Following the blockbuster success of Rodrigo's debut album, 2021's SOUR, the two struck again with the equally industry-shaking follow-up, 2023's GUTS

Like its predecessor, GUTS scored Rodrigo and Nigro multiple GRAMMY nominations, including Album Of The Year and both Song and Record Of The Year for the scathing lead single, "vampire." But for Nigro, the 2024 GRAMMY nominations are even more special: his work earned a nod for Producer Of The Year (Non-Classical).

And while he may be Rodrigo's right-hand man, it's far from his only acclaimed collaboration. Nigro's production and songwriting on Irish singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy's 2022 album, Sonder, and rising pop star Chappell Roan's debut LP, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, also helped him land the honor. 

In fact, Nigro's path to his Producer Of The Year nomination is more than a decade in the making — embodying as many surprise twists and turns as the music he's now known for. 

After his initial taste of industry success in the midst of the early-00s pop-punk scene as a member of the band As Tall as Lions, Nigro landed his first big break as a behind-the-scenes impresario with a McDonald's jingle. A string of high-profile collaborations materialized in the next few years, with the likes of Sky Ferreira, Kylie Minogue and Carly Rae Jepsen

Through that evolution, Nigro gained a reputation as a whisperer for tender singer/songwriters known for their candid lyrics. And along with Rodrigo, he's lately become a go-to producer/co-wrote for Conan Gray, Caroline Polachek and the aforementioned Roan.

Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYS, Nigro detailed his unique path and creative process to, also offering an inside look inside making one of the biggest albums of 2023.

2024 GRAMMYs: Explore More & Meet The Nominees

The path of your career in music has been unique. Was this end result always a goal?

It definitely wasn't. It's interesting because I did an interview with [the podcast] And The Writer is… a couple years ago, and it was cool to have so many people reach out to me after that, and relating to it, and feeling like they were on the same journey. But where I ended up is not where I thought. 

When I moved out to L.A., honestly my goal was to just be able to make a life making music and be happy. The thought of being nominated for GRAMMYs or having No. 1 songs wasn't the goal. My only thought was, If I can make music for commercials, I'll be able to pay my rent doing that. That was the dream, just to make enough money to sustain myself as a musician. 

Along with developing a universe of artists around you, along the way you also developed your own sound. Was that something you consciously nurtured, or did it naturally evolve?

It definitely evolved over time. It's learning new things every day and making music with new people and finding new ways to be inspired by other people and other music. Like anything, you take the best of what you learn and put it in your arsenal — like how a person might mic an acoustic guitar a certain way, or how another person focuses on lyrics more so than melody. 

Everybody has their different ways of making music and what's important to them. So you take what makes sense and resonates with you. But hopefully, it's an ever-evolving sound. 

Read More: Here Are The Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical GRAMMY Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs

When it comes to the GRAMMY nominations for GUTS, which one is most meaningful to you? Producer Of The Year?

Probably. To be honest, I was so shocked when I heard [we were nominated]. I'm nervous and an anxious person already, so I just didn't watch when they announced them. I was like, I don't want to know what's happening. Somebody will call me.

I went out for a walk with my wife, Emily, and my baby, Saoirse, and when we went out the front door, a FaceTime came through from Olivia. She was like, "Congratulations!" I was like, "Cool. For what?!" 

She was so pumped and crying. I really didn't think it was going to happen, because you're getting nominated by a group of peers. It's so subjective and you have no clue what's going to happen. 

I think what's forgotten is that when you started working with Olivia on her breakout song, "driver's license," and debut album, SOUR, is that you as a team weren't chasing any trends; you created what you both thought these songs should sound like. Now we have so many artists chasing that very sound you helped popularize, from diary-like lyrics to utilizing actual instruments, the latter of which you and her brought back to the charts. Can you describe how you built on that for GUTS?

That's the greatest thing about Olivia, I have to give her that credit. I say this to everyone I work with, and maybe it's cliché, but you're really only as good as the artist that you're working with. But I remember at times in the beginning thinking to myself, "Wow, we are literally using all live instruments." 

For GUTS, we did a couple of those songs live, which came from Olivia telling me what she wanted the songs to sound like and feel like. I remember having to take a step back and be like, "Wow, we have one of the biggest artists in the world and she wants it to be recorded live." 

She [wanted] the authenticity and the push and pull of the music. I just thought, "We're going to need to do this live." That's fun to do, but I had never done it with her or a big pop artist before. 

I remember we went in to record "all american b—" and "ballad of a homeschooled girl." We went into the studio, had the musicians there, and I had it all mapped out in a Pro-Tools sketch, like a really bad demo. But we didn't know if we'd actually achieve it or come back two days later and say, "Wow, that was a waste of money and time." 

What was so exciting for me was when GUTS took shape, because that session was so successful. Me and my engineer Dave [Schiffman] looked at each other afterwards like, "Wow, after only three days we got a lot." I was shocked it all really worked out. 

When I was back in my home studio and listened to it with fresh ears a week later, I was like, "This feels good!" The songs that were the missing links to the record were there. 

I sent Olivia "ballad of a homeschooled girl" and she was like, "It's incredible, I love it!" So we were good — she loves it, and I love it.

How did you record Olivia's vocals? It seems to me like her voice has a sort-of lo-fi filter. Maybe a cheaper microphone, for lack of a better descriptor. 

For a couple of the songs, I put an effect on her to make it sound like that, but we actually recorded it on a very fancy mic. But it's a plug-in in Pro-Tools, I think it's called Vintage Vinyl from a company that made it sound like it was recorded in the 60s or something. I wish I could say we used an old vintage mic on that, but we didn't.

**Whether SOUR or GUTS, you recorded the majority of the album in your home studio. Are you careful to not mix it up so much by going to a fancier place with a whole set-up, entourage, etc?** 

It was intentional. We enjoyed making SOUR, and it felt like a special moment for both of us in our lives, and it was all done in the home studio. So we decided very early on, Why would we want to change that up just because we're more successful now? 

Olivia said, "I want to make it in your garage again, I like writing songs in there." But when we worked on SOUR, I lived here while we were making it, but I don't anymore. It's the same place, but now the entire house is the studio. The only thing that's changed is that one of the bedrooms that was my bedroom is the live room with a drum set, organ and piano. The garage itself is only 180 sq feet.

How does the energy of a song reveal itself? Listening to your productions, some of them are subtle and others explode with energy. Meanwhile, you're also known to vacillate with a single song going from demure to a wild burst in seconds. 

Everyone has different interpretations about what makes a great song, and one of the first bands I got obsessed with listening to the production of a song was Queen. I loved how they took you on this journey. 

I always feel weird when music is singular. I know some people produce songs that are one thing the whole way through, and we obviously make songs like that as well, but I think it's important on a lot of records to have a few songs where you go on a journey. If you listen to the first half of a song you couldn't tell what the last half would sound like. 

People talk all the time about "passive listening music," and I don't like making that. I want to make music for people to listen to with intent, and you go on that journey. I hope we make more songs that do that because those are always my favorite. 

Read More: 2024 GRAMMYs Performers: Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, And Olivia Rodrigo Announced

SOUR could have been a once-in-a-career moment for everybody involved. And people always say having a breakout like that is easier than making a huge success again because it so rarely happens. How did you grapple with expectations when it came to working on the follow-up?

It was really hard for both Olivia and I. We're really good at balancing each other out — when one person was feeling down and negative, the other tries to get them out of a hole and vice versa. It's hard to not let the voices get in your head with expectations or what you think people would think and really make what you just want to make. 

It actually took us a long time to get to the point where we both felt comfortable that we made the music we just wanted to make, and get enough confidence. In the beginning of making the record, you feel imposter syndrome: Will I ever do that again? What even is that to be done again?  

But we came back to the simple fact that we made songs we like to make and we'll do that again — and to find solace in the fact that if it's not as big as SOUR, it doesn't really matter, because we're making music we like. And you hope people follow you on your journey along the way.

From Olivia to Conan Gray and Chappell Roan, all of the artists you work with are known for the raw, unfiltered honesty in their lyrics. How did you become a creative whisperer for this specific style?

I don't know what makes them want to work with me half the time. I'm so slow and more indecisive than the artist can be. 

I approach it with a band mentality. We're in it together. And maybe that's my strength or my weakness, but I want to be involved. I want to know why an artist likes a song or doesn't; I see the kind of gray areas. 

To me, there's so much nuance in between what makes a song good — like if it's one little part that makes it special and nurturing that to make it bigger. I think that's what I bring to the table; helping these artists see their vision and seeing if we as a group find something special in a song. 

For example, I might try five different types of production on it. It's about that feeling when you know there's something there, but it's about getting it onto the tape to make it feel special sometimes. It's a journey, but I think a lot of people don't like to do it like that, for some reason. They record something quickly and decide then and there, "That's it" and it's very black and white. 

"vampire" is nominated for Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year. What can you tell me about the evolution of that track?

It was one of the hardest songs on the album to make. Olivia brought in the original idea for it, which was basically a verse and a chorus in January 2023, after she wrote it [that] last December.  

She was nervous to play them for me. I remember listening to it by myself and when the tag came in at the time, which was different. The original line was "Bloodsucker, famef—er, love me like a vampire." When I heard the "famef—er" I was like, "Oh! That was cool." From there, we workshopped it. 

I loved the idea, but I thought there were some things that could be improved upon. So we spent that whole day just trying out all these little intricacies, changing lyrics here and there. It was a slow evolution. 

At the time, Olivia had been off the internet, but she wound up posting a little teaser clip. We actually worked on it on the anniversary [of when] "driver's license" came out. But we both liked it a lot and were excited. 

My initial thought was that it was a ballad, so later on the initial demo I recorded some drums and a guitar and it was a full ballad. When I played it for Olivia two days later, she was like, "No. I don't like it." So then I switched it to double-time and put a kick in and made it more intense, which she loved, which began a whole other process of trying to figure out how to arc the song, because it builds and builds and builds. Then we had to figure out how to arc the vocal performance, then we made the bridge weeks later and every time we worked out we got more and more close. 

I remember we had a meeting where we played it for her management. It wasn't done and the transitions weren't fully realized yet, but I remember that we were [still] excited about it. They were just like, "Yeah… sounds like three songs in one? Interesting." 

We were so disappointed at the meeting… We thought this was good! So we worked on it more and the next time we played it for people that's when everybody got excited about it. There are so many versions of the song, I can't even count them. But maybe one day we'll put together a folder of all of them.

Read More: 5 Lessons Olivia Rodrigo Learned On 'GUTS'

"ballad of a homeschooled girl" is also nominated for Best Rock Song. Was that always designed as a high-energy rock song?

For the genesis of the song, the verse and the chorus, we wrote it the very first day we got to Electric Lady Studios in New York City. We were hanging out in the lounge and talking about what we wanted to do when we were there with a whole week booked out. 

I had an acoustic guitar in my hand. She said, "I want to write a song that feels like this" and I picked up a guitar, played some chords and she just started singing. Within 10 minutes, we wrote it and had a Voice Note of it and forgot about it. 

It wasn't until months later when we were writing and writing without doing any production, it got to the point where we decided we should put together some real demos for people. I put together a demo of it and she was shocked and loved it, and it spiraled from there.

Take me through the evolution of another favorite from the album, "Get Him Back!"

We also wrote that one at Electric Lady on an acoustic guitar. The bridge was originally the verse. "I wanna key his car…"  "That was our original verse. But we wrote it, wrote the chorus, had the song and I recorded a scratch demo. Olivia didn't like it and said, "I don't know if that's the right verse." 

It wasn't until weeks later when I said, "What if we made the old verse the bridge?" And we were like, "Wow, that actually works way better than the original!" But it took us a long time to realize that was the path of the song. 

How does it feel going from making commercial jingles to having such a monumental impact on American popular music, not to mention these GRAMMY nominations?

It feels pretty good. I will admit that. It doesn't feel real sometimes, but it's pretty awesome. 

Olivia is a real special person, and I feel very fortunate that I get to make music with her. We're really just trying to have fun making music. 

Loving Olivia Rodrigo's "Vampire"? Check Out 15 Songs By Alanis Morissette, Miley Cyrus & More That Reclaim The Breakup Narrative

Photo of a gold GRAMMY trophy against a black background with white lights.
GRAMMY Award statue

Photo: Jathan Campbell


How Much Is A GRAMMY Worth? 7 Facts To Know About The GRAMMY Award Trophy

Here are seven facts to know about the actual cost and worth of a GRAMMY trophy, presented once a year by the Recording Academy at the GRAMMY Awards.

GRAMMYs/May 1, 2024 - 04:23 pm

Since 1959, the GRAMMY Award has been music’s most coveted honor. Each year at the annual GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists are recognized for their musical excellence by their peers. Their lives are forever changed — so are their career trajectories. And when you have questions about the GRAMMYs, we have answers.

Here are seven facts to know about the value of the GRAMMY trophy.

How Much Does A GRAMMY Trophy Cost To Make?

The cost to produce a GRAMMY Award trophy, including labor and materials, is nearly $800. Bob Graves, who cast the original GRAMMY mold inside his garage in 1958, passed on his legacy to John Billings, his neighbor, in 1983. Billings, also known as "The GRAMMY Man," designed the current model in use, which debuted in 1991.

How Long Does It Take To Make A GRAMMY Trophy?

Billings and his crew work on making GRAMMY trophies throughout the year. Each GRAMMY is handmade, and each GRAMMY Award trophy takes 15 hours to produce. 

Where Are The GRAMMY Trophies Made?

While Los Angeles is the headquarters of the Recording Academy and the GRAMMYs, and regularly the home of the annual GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY trophies are produced at Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado, about 800 miles away from L.A.

Is The GRAMMY Award Made Of Real Gold?

GRAMMY Awards are made of a trademarked alloy called "Grammium" — a secret zinc alloy — and are plated with 24-karat gold.

How Many GRAMMY Trophies Are Made Per Year?

Approximately 600-800 GRAMMY Award trophies are produced per year. This includes both GRAMMY Awards and Latin GRAMMY Awards for the two Academies; the number of GRAMMYs manufactured each year always depends on the number of winners and Categories we award across both award shows.

Fun fact: The two GRAMMY trophies have different-colored bases. The GRAMMY Award has a black base, while the Latin GRAMMY Award has a burgundy base.

Photos: Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images; Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

How Much Does A GRAMMY Weigh?

The GRAMMY trophy weighs approximately 5 pounds. The trophy's height is 9-and-a-half inches. The trophy's width is nearly 6 inches by 6 inches.

What Is The True Value Of A GRAMMY?

Winning a GRAMMY, and even just being nominated for a GRAMMY, has an immeasurable positive impact on the nominated and winning artists. It opens up new career avenues, builds global awareness of artists, and ultimately solidifies a creator’s place in history. Since the GRAMMY Award is the only peer-voted award in music, this means artists are recognized, awarded and celebrated by those in their fields and industries, ultimately making the value of a GRAMMY truly priceless and immeasurable.

In an interview featured in the 2024 GRAMMYs program book, two-time GRAMMY winner Lauren Daigle spoke of the value and impact of a GRAMMY Award. "Time has passed since I got my [first] GRAMMYs, but the rooms that I am now able to sit in, with some of the most incredible writers, producers and performers on the planet, is truly the greatest gift of all." 

"Once you have that credential, it's a different certification. It definitely holds weight," two-time GRAMMY winner Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter of the Roots added. "It's a huge stamp as far as branding, businesswise, achievement-wise and in every regard. What the GRAMMY means to people, fans and artists is ever-evolving." 

As Billboard explains, artists will often see significant boosts in album sales and streaming numbers after winning a GRAMMY or performing on the GRAMMY stage. This is known as the "GRAMMY Effect," an industry phenomenon in which a GRAMMY accolade directly influences the music biz and the wider popular culture. 

For new artists in particular, the "GRAMMY Effect" has immensely helped rising creators reach new professional heights. Samara Joy, who won the GRAMMY for Best New Artist at the 2023 GRAMMYs, saw a 989% boost in sales and a 670% increase in on-demand streams for her album Linger Awhile, which won the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album that same night. H.E.R., a former Best New Artist nominee, saw a massive 6,771% increase in song sales for her hit “I Can’t Breathe” on the day it won the GRAMMY for Song Of The Year at the 2021 GRAMMYs, compared to the day before, Rolling Stone reports

Throughout the decades, past Best New Artist winners have continued to dominate the music industry and charts since taking home the GRAMMY gold — and continue to do so to this day. Recently, Best New Artist winners dominated the music industry and charts in 2023: Billie Eilish (2020 winner) sold 2 million equivalent album units, Olivia Rodrigo (2022 winner) sold 2.1 million equivalent album units, and Adele (2009 winner) sold 1.3 million equivalent album units. Elsewhere, past Best New Artist winners have gone on to star in major Hollywood blockbusters (Dua Lipa); headline arena tours and sign major brand deals (Megan Thee Stallion); become LGBTIA+ icons (Sam Smith); and reach multiplatinum status (John Legend).

Most recently, several winners, nominees and performers at the 2024 GRAMMYs saw significant bumps in U.S. streams and sales: Tracy Chapman's classic, GRAMMY-winning single "Fast Car," which she performed alongside Luke Combs, returned to the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time since 1988, when the song was originally released, according to Billboard. Fellow icon Joni Mitchell saw her ‘60s classic “Both Sides, Now,” hit the top 10 on the Digital Song Sales chart, Billboard reports.

In addition to financial gains, artists also experience significant professional wins as a result of their GRAMMY accolades. For instance, after she won the GRAMMY for Best Reggae Album for Rapture at the 2020 GRAMMYs, Koffee signed a U.S. record deal; after his first GRAMMYs in 2014, Kendrick Lamar saw a 349% increase in his Instagram following, Billboard reports. 

Visit our interactive GRAMMY Awards Journey page to learn more about the GRAMMY Awards and the voting process behind the annual ceremony.

2024 GRAMMYs: See The Full Winners & Nominees List

AAPI Month Playlist 2024 Hero
(From left) ATEEZ, YOASOBI, Peggy Gou, Kanon of Atarashi Gakko!, Diljit Dosanjh, Laufey

Photos: KQ Entertainment; KATO SHUMPEI; Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images; Medios y Media/Getty Images; Presley Ann/Getty Images for Coachella; Lauren Kim


Leap Into AAPI Month 2024 With A Playlist Featuring Laufey, Diljit Dosanjh, & Peggy Gou

Celebrate AAPI artists this May with a genre-spanning playlist spotlighting festival headliners and up-and-coming musicians. From Korean hip-hop to Icelandic jazz-pop, listen to some of the most exciting artists from the Asian diaspora.

GRAMMYs/May 1, 2024 - 02:47 pm

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to welcome AAPI Month in full blossom. From rising musical artists to inspiring community leaders, it’s essential to recognize AAPI members of the artistic world and their achievements.

While AAPI Month is a U.S. holiday, the Recording Academy takes a global approach in celebrating artists and creators from across the Asian and Asian American diaspora. This aligns with the Recording Academy's growing mission to expand its reach on a global scale and celebrate international creators outside of the U.S.  

Musicians of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander heritage have not only helped establish the music industry, but have transformed it. From Diljit Dosanjh being the first artist to play a Coachella set entirely in Punjabi to Laufey winning a GRAMMY for her jazz-inspired pop, AAPI artists continue to influence music by both honoring tradition and reshaping modern standards.

It’s thrilling to see AAPI musicians continue to take centerstage — from Atarashi Gakko! to Tiger JK’s memorable sets at Coachella, to surprise appearances from Olivia Rodrigo, Dominic Fike, and Towa Bird. As festival season gets underway, examples of the AAPI starpower from every corner of the world abound.

As one of many ways to celebrate AAPI Month, listen to the playlist below — as a reminder to give AAPI musicians not just their May flowers, but their flowers all year-round!

Chappell Roan at Coachella 2024 Weekend 1
Chappell Roan performs during Weekend 1 of Coachella 2024.

Photo: Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images


Chappell Roan's Big Year: The 'Midwest Princess' Examines How She Became A Pop "Feminomenon"

Just after Chappell Roan made her festival debut at Coachella, hear from the pop starlet about some of the defining moments of her career thus far — and how it all helped earn her a spot at one of music's biggest fests.

GRAMMYs/Apr 19, 2024 - 07:49 pm

Before this year, Chappell Roan had never even been to Coachella. Now, not only can she say she's attended — she's performed in the desert, too. 

Roan played an evening set on the Gobi Stage on April 12, and is set to return for Weekend 2. Fans clad in everything from cowboy boots, Sandy Liang-inspired bows and, perhaps most importantly, jorts, gathered to celebrate their shared love of Roan's radiance, karmic kink and gay cowgirl doctrine.  

Throughout her performance, bubbles breezed through the air as Roan belted out her infectious (and aptly titled) track "Femininomenon," which speaks to lover girls forced to live in an online-dating hellscape. "Ladies, you know what I mean?/ And you know what you need and so does he/ But does it happen? No!" Following collective screams of pure joy, the already enlivened crowd roused to match Roan beat-for-beat, shouting back in perfect unison, "Well, what we really need is a femininomenon!" 

In an era of bedroom pop and sad-girl music, Roan has been hailed by both critics and fans for bringing fun back to pop music. Along with her staunch sense of self, Roan's penchant for explicit lyrics that are equally parts introspective and horny makes her dance-pop anthems all the more infectious. 

Roan's ambitiously experimental debut album, 2023's The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, cemented her status as one of the most exciting pop stars on the rise. While she only recently landed her first single on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Good Luck, Babe!," her rapidly growing fan base — and an opening slot on Olivia Rodrigo's sold-out GUTS World Tour — indicate that she's on her way to superstardom.

Perhaps part of Roan's magic is that it was all on her own terms. After parting ways with her first label, Atlantic Records, she built a loyal following as an independent artist before signing with Island Records last year. Even as a major label artist, she's determined to only do things her way; her indefatigable commitment to her craft — as well as writing her own rules when it comes to fashion and makeup — is precisely why her fans are so enraptured by both her music and persona. 

Her fearlessness was on full display during her first Coachella set, where the words emblazoned on her bodysuit read "Eat Me." She talks the talk, and walks the walk (in fabulous, knee-high boots, of course), matching her unabashed aesthetic with equally bold career moves; for one, the openers for her headlining tour are local drag queens.

With eyeliner winged to the heavens, near-perfect vocal stability and fiery curls ablaze, Roan's shimmering Coachella Weekend 1 performance proved that her stage presence is equally dynamic. And if she had any doubters, she had one thing to say to them: "B—, I know you're watching!" 

In between rehearsals for her Coachella debut, Roan took a look back on her journey to one of music's most coveted stages. Below, hear from Roan about five of the most impactful milestones in her career — so far. 

Releasing Her Debut Album, The Rise And Fall Of A Midwest Princess

I ended up signing [with Island Records in 2023] because this project honestly got too big to be independent anymore. I just wasn't willing to give up anything, any creative control or for any amount of money. 

Being an independent artist was really special because I proved to myself that I could do all these hard things that I had never done. I built it with an entire friend group and many, many years of work. So it wasn't just me, but it proved a lot to me.

It proved I can make it through hard circumstances — with no money. You truly can. You do not need a label to do a lot of what an artist's career requires. You don't need a label to put on your own show, or make a music video, or even write a song, or find creative people. You don't need that s—t. I mean, a label is just money, you know? You don't need a lot of money to do this. To make it grow is, I think, where it takes a lot of money. That's what was difficult.

Music allows me to express anything, even things that I've never experienced before. It allows me to express queerness, even if it was only daydreams at that point. It allows me to express parts of me that I'm not even ready to accept yet.

I don't give a f— if you don't  f— with the music. You don't have to come to the concert. That's the whole point of it. You don't have to like it. I think throughout the year, I'm like, "What can I get away with?" Because right now it's pretty tame for what it is like to be a gay artist. But I just want to push it to see how far can I go — with the most controversial outfits or things to rile people up. I'm not really afraid to do that.

Having a song [like "Casual] with the lyric, "Knee deep in the passenger seat/ And you're eating me out," and it's being considered to go to radio. That's kind of a big thing to get away with. 

It's not even that big of a thing. What's that song? Is it Flo Rida? That's like, "Can you blow my whistle, baby/ whistle baby." Okay, that's obviously about like a f—ing blowjob. [Laughs.] No one cares about that. To me, I'm like, Let's talk about eating out on the radio. I actually think it has to be bleeped, but still, if I can get away with it, that's cool.

Feeling Financial Freedom & Stability

Not making money at all just sucked. But I learned how to do my own makeup and bedazzle and sew a little bit. I think that the scrappiness came from [the idea that] it's scrappy if it's fun. 

I think that's what kept me going — because if this wasn't fun, I would not even be here. But it was scrappy and fun, and it was with my friends. It didn't feel dire. I was also just working at a coffee shop, and I was a nanny, and I was working at a donut shop. I was doing part time jobs all on the side too. So it was all just rough [in the beginning].

I have freedom because now [singing] is my full-time job. It provides for me now. As the project grows, I can do bigger shows and be like, I want outfit changes now, and I want more lights, and I want confetti. I can afford confetti now! 

It's about expanding the universe in a thoughtful way. And not just like throwing a s— ton of money at things to make things look expensive or wear all this designer s— for no reason. 

I just try to look at how we are starting to gain momentum financially and see how can I intentionally use that to, one, pay the team in a way where they're not bare bones anymore, and two, [ask ourselves] how can we honor this project and this album and the queer community? Can we pay drag queens more? Can we bring drag on the road? Now, financially, doors have opened where we can walk through them with love and intention. Just recklessly, throwing money at s— to see if it works. 

Opening Olivia Rodrigo's Arena Tour

Olivia [Rodrigo] just asked. It was official, we went through our management. But I was like, Oh my God

Preparing a 40-minute set is a different vibe than headlining, obviously. You are going out to an audience that is not there for you and doesn't necessarily care if you're there or not.

This is, like, my fourth or fifth artist I've opened for. But for an arena tour, I just needed to gather my nerves. I think that's the difference between any other show. Like, F—, there's 20,000 people out there right now. I've never performed in front of that many people. I don't know what this emotion is, and I just have to tame it right now.

Standing Up For Herself Creatively, Even When There's Pushback

I stand up for myself, I would say, every day. Sometimes, you get this opportunity, a huge opportunity with a lot of money on the table. [Yet,] I'm just like, That just doesn't make sense creatively. That doesn't align with my values. I'm not doing that. 

One huge creative decision was I stood up and pushed the entire headlining Midwest Princess tour back to the fall. The album was supposed to come out while we were on tour. I was like, "This is a horrible idea!" 

That caused a big ruckus, but it ended up being fine, and I was right. I'm usually right. [Laughs.] It's like a mother with her kid — a mother knows best. I feel like [that] when it comes to the integrity of my project.

I know how it is to not be able to afford a ticket or even f—ing food. A concert ticket, a lot of times, means multiple meals for someone. I get it, I couldn't afford some artists' tickets. That's why it's really important to me to try to keep them as low as I can and my merch as low as I can. 

There's pushback of ticket prices being low and we're playing rooms that are so expensive. The fee to even play them is so expensive. So, you have to raise the ticket prices to just even be able to afford to play the room. There's always an argument [with my team] there, every tour. I'm in control of stuff and if I'm saying this is how it's going to be —- it's just going to be that way.

Performing At Coachella For The First Time 

[After the first weekend of Coachella] I am feeling very relieved. I was so stressed about many things. How is the outfit going to work? Will the crowd really be engaged? It went so well, I have no qualms with anything. I loved every second of it.

It feels like I am partying with [my fans]. I am not performing to them; I’m performing with them. [I want people to remember] a really fun, freeing show. Very campy but very meaningful too. 

4 Ways Olivia Rodrigo's GUTS World Tour Shows A New Side Of The Pop Princess

Photo of Noah Kahan (L) and Olivia Rodrigo (R) perform during the GUTS World Tour in New York City
Noah Kahan (L) and Olivia Rodrigo (R) perform during the GUTS World Tour in New York City

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation


10 Record Store Day 2024 Releases We're Excited About: The Beatles, Notorious B.I.G. & More

In honor of Record Store Day 2024, which falls on April 20, learn about 10 limited, exclusive drops to watch out for when browsing your local participating record store.

GRAMMYs/Apr 18, 2024 - 02:20 pm

From vinyl records by the 1975 and U2, to album reissues and previously unreleased music, record stores around the world are stocking limited and exclusive releases for Record Store Day 2024

The first Record Store Day kicked off in 2008 and every year since, the event supporting independently owned record stores has grown exponentially. On Record Store Day 2024, which falls on April 20, there will be more than 300 special releases available from artists as diverse as  the Beatles and Buena Vista Social Club. 

In honor of Record Store Day 2024 on April 20, here are 10 limited and exclusive drops to watch out for when browsing your local participating record store. 

David Bowie — Waiting in the Sky (Before The Starman Came To Earth

British glam rocker David Bowie was a starman and an icon. Throughout his career, he won five GRAMMY Awards and was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. 

On RSD 2024, Bowie's estate is dialing it back to his Ziggy Stardust days to make Waiting in the Sky (Before The Starman Came To Earth) available for the first time. The record features recordings of Bowie's sessions at Trident Studios in 1971, and many songs from those sessions would be polished for his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

The tracklisting for Waiting in the Sky differs from Ziggy Stardust and features four songs that didn’t make the final album.

Talking Heads — Live at WCOZ 77

New York City-based outfit Talking Heads defined the sound of new wave in the late '70s and into the next decade. For their massive influence, the group received two GRAMMY nominations and was later honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021.

While promoting their debut album Talking Heads: 77, the quartet recorded a live performance for the New Albany, Pennsylvania radio station WCOZ in 1977. The Live at WCOZ 77 LP will include 14 songs from that performance at Northern Studios, including seven that will be released for the first time. Among the previously unheard cuts are "Love Goes To A Building On Fire" and "Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town." During that session, Talking Heads also performed songs like "Psycho Killer" and "Pulled Up."

The Doors — Live at Konserthuset, Stockholm, September 20, 1968

The Doors were at the forefront of the psychedelic rock movement of the 1960s and early '70s. One of Jim Morrison's most epic performances with the band will be available on vinyl for the first time. 

Live at Konserthuset, Stockholm, September 20, 1968 includes recordings from a radio broadcast that was never commercially released. The 3-LP release includes performances of songs from the Doors’ first three albums, including 1967’s self-titled and Strange Days. In addition to performing their classics like "Light My Fire" and "You're Lost Little Girl," the Doors and Morrison also covered "Mack the Knife" and Barret Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" live during this session. 

Dwight Yoakam — The Beginning And Then Some: The Albums of the '80s

Over the course of his 40-year career, country music icon Dwight Yoakam has received 18 GRAMMY nominations and won two golden gramophones for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1994 and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals in 2000.

On Record Store Day 2024, Yoakam will celebrate the first chapter of his legacy with a new box set: The Beginning And Then Some: The Albums of the '80s. His debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. and 1987’s Hillbilly Deluxe will be included in the collection alongside exclusive disc full of rarities and demos. The 4-LP set includes his classics like "Honky Tonk Man," "Little Ways," and "Streets of Bakersfield." The box set will also be available to purchase on CD.  

The Beatles — The Beatles Limited Edition RSD3 Turntable

Beatlemania swept across the U.S. following the Beatles’ first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in February 1964, setting the stage for the British Invasion. With The Beatles Limited Edition RSD3 Turntable, the band will celebrate their iconic run of appearances on Sullivan’s TV program throughout that year.

The box set will include a Beatles-styled turntable and four 3-inch records. Among those records are the hits "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "Till There Was You," "She Loves You," and "I Saw Her Standing There," which the Beatles performed on Sullivan's TV across several appearances. 

Among 23 GRAMMY nominations, the Beatles won seven golden gramophones. In 2014, the Recording Academy honored them with the Lifetime Achievement Award.   

Olivia Rodrigo and Noah Kahan — From The BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge LP

Olivia Rodrigo and Noah Kahan are two of the biggest pop stars in the world right now — Rodrigo hitting the stage with No Doubt at Coachella and near the end of her global GUTS Tour; Kahan fresh off a Best New Artist nomination at the 2024 GRAMMYs. Now, they're teaming up for the split single From The BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge LP, a release culled from each artist's "BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge" sessions. 

The special vinyl release will include Rodrigo's live cover of Kahan's breakout hit "Stick Season." The single also includes Kahan’s cover of Rodrigo’s song "Lacy" from her second album, GUTS. This month, they performed the song live together on Rodrigo’s Guts World Tour stop in Madison Square Garden.  

Buena Vista Social Club — Buena Vista Social Club

Influential Cuban group Buena Vista Social Club popularized genres and sounds from their country, including son cubano, bolero, guajira, and danzón. Buena Vista Social Club's landmark self-titled LP won the GRAMMY for Best Tropical Latin Album in 1998.

The following year, a documentary was released that captured two of the band's live performances in New York City and Amsterdam. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the documentary, the Buena Vista Social Club album will be released on a limited edition gold vinyl with remastered audio and bonus tracks.

Buena Vista Social Club is one of the 10 recordings to be newly inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame as part of the 2024 inductee class.

Danny Ocean — 54+1

Venezuelan reggaeton star Danny Ocean broke through on a global level in 2016 with his self-produced debut single "Me Rehúso," a heartbreaking track inspired by Ocean fleeing Venezuela due to the country's economic instability and the lover he had left behind. 

With "Me Rehúso," Ocean became the first solo Latin artist to surpass one billion streams on Spotify, on the platform with a single song. "Me Rehúso" was included on his 2019 debut album 54+1, which will be released on vinyl for the first time for Record Store Day.

Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters — Skanking With The Upsetter

Jamaican producer Lee "Scratch" Perry pioneered dub music in the 1960s and '70s. Perry received five GRAMMY nominations in his lifetime, including winning Best Reggae Album in 2003 for Jamaican E.T.

To celebrate the legacy of Perry's earliest dub recordings, a limited edition run of his 2004 album Skanking With The Upsetter will be released on Record Store Day. His joint LP with his house band the Upsetters will be pressed on transparent yellow vinyl. Among the rare dub tracks on the album are "Bucky Skank," "Seven & Three Quarters (Skank)," and "IPA Skank." 

Read more: Lee "Scratch" Perry Documentary Director Sets The Record Straight On The Reggae Icon's Legacy — Including A Big Misconception About Bob Marley

Notorious B.I.G. — Ready To Die: The Instrumentals

The Notorious B.I.G. helped define the sound of East Coast rap in the '90s. Though he was tragically murdered in 1997, his legacy continues to live on through his two albums. 

During his lifetime, the Notorious B.I.G. dropped his 1994 debut album Ready to Die, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest hip-hop releases of all-time. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the album (originally released in September '94), his estate will release Ready To Die: The Instrumentals. The limited edition vinyl will include select cuts from the LP like his hits "Big Poppa," "One More Chance/Stay With Me," and "Juicy." The album helped him garner his first GRAMMY nomination in 1996 for Best Rap Solo Performance. The Notorious B.I.G. received an additional three nominations after his death in 1998. 

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