Anna Bulbrook, Kerry Brown, Natasha Bedingfield, Linda Perry and Monica Zhang
Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Linda Perry, Natasha Bedingfield & More Talk Creating A Collaborative Community For Female Artists At The GRAMMY Museum
In an hourlong talk during GRAMMY Week 2020, the panel discussed the necessity for artists to feel safe and supported, the rapidly changing music industry and Perry's company, We Are Hear
Excitement percolated through the air yesterday afternoon at the "Creating A Collaborative Community for Artists" panel at the GRAMMY Museum where GRAMMY Award-nominated singer/songwriter/musician and record producer Linda Perry, GRAMMY Award winner British pop singer/songwriter Natasha Bedingfield and attorney Monica Zhang (Reed Smith) took the stage for a discussion moderated by Anna Bulbrook (musician and founder of women-led festival and collective Girlschool).
In an hourlong talk, they talked about their youth, the necessity for artists to feel safe and supported, the rapidly changing music industry and Perry's company We Are Hear - the record label, publishing and management company she co-founded with her business partner Kerry Brown to which Bedingfield is signed.
Though Bedingfield signed her first record deal 16 years ago, when she was just 22 years old, she said she still vividly remembers her days busking on street corners at Christmastime, making no money. "I grew up with not a lot of money. It really sucks to grow up with no money and to feel beholden to people. The feeling of finally making money gave me a lot of self-confidence. I remember having student debt and feeling like it was crippling and never wanting to be in that position again." In fact, Bedingfield’s first job was stacking shelves at a pharmacy when she was just 11 years old.
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Perry said that when she was 14 years old, she worked on the docks of San Diego sanding the bottoms of and refurbishing boats. When she got a little older and began working at fast-food chains, she said she’d inevitably be fired for giving her punk rocker friends free food through the drive-thru window. She recalled her first moneymaking gig in San Diego when she showed up at a lesbian bar and convinced the owner not only to let her perform but also to let Perry keep a percentage of the door's ticket sales. “She thinks ‘She’s not going to bring in anybody’ but I ended up promoting that show so hardcore that I ended up making $750 as my first pay in 1989, and that’s a lot of money.” She said that the first money garnering show was a fluke and that it took years before she began to make really good money.
As to why she started We Are Hear, Perry stressed the importance of honoring artists. "We wanted to create something that was creative, for artists to feel their vision was being heard, that we can help execute their ideas and basically be a good mentor or creative partner. All we want to do is create a community and empower all these creatives and put it in a place where people feel safe and supported."
Perry said when she sat down to start her company, which currently has just one male artist (Pete Molinari) signed to its roster, her intentions weren't deliberately women-oriented. She said she’s just organically gravitated towards women. "We didn’t think about it, like, ‘Let’s be a chick label.’ It just kind of happened and it’s kind of cool, but it wasn’t on purpose that our roster and company is very female-fronted. The artists who were showing up had a sensibility about them that was strong. We felt creatively connected and we felt like this is something we can stand behind. That’s all we look for. We’re not looking for whether you have a pussy or a dick or whatever. We're looking for who can we get together with and advance and get creative with and succeed and it happened to be women."
As soon as Perry finished speaking, the crowd broke into applause and hoots.
Accordingly, Bedingfield said she switched from a major record label to We Are Hear due to having grown increasingly disheartened with her situation. "I had always been on a major label and I had great success in that structure, but there was a lot of fear in these big corporations. They could sense things were changing and they couldn’t figure out what the new way of listening to music is. I was getting a lot of that frustration of being at big corporations that weren’t able to put their fingers on the pulse to figure it out. They’d just get new executives thinking that maybe the solution is to get a shiny new businessman. There was an emphasis on a savior, finding someone who’s gonna save us. I was feeling a lot of frustration within that system and I asked my label to let me go but, as soon as I left my label, it was, ‘Oh no, I’m out on my own.' That’s scary. I’m a team person. I love writing songs and I love singing onstage, but I need a great team and when I heard Linda started her label and management team, it felt like such a good fit."
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A visionary and strong leader, Perry described herself as "macho" and said she was "born very aggressive." She said an abusive background helped her to become stronger, more focused and driven. "I just have a very strong...There’s a very sad and angry emotion that hums and rumbles through my body and that has always been my guide, my fuel, my mentor, my love, my villain, all of it. It’s helped guide me constantly to make these decisions I’ve made in my life."
Bedingfield finds solace, inspiration and strength in Perry. "We focus on those who don’t love us and people who say awful things. But there are signposts and good people around so it’s about being able to receive that. Linda’s been that at this stage of my life. I’m standing up and finding my power and she’s like, ‘Yes and you can even do more. Don’t settle."
We Are Hear’s attorney, Zhang, whom Perry described as incredibly "smart, cool, and a badass," was equally effusive about Perry. "Linda's an inspiration for me because she really, really believes in the artists and the creators."
Much to the delight of the audience, midway through the panel, Bedingfield treated the crowd to a two-song acoustic performance: her hit single "Unwritten," for which she won a GRAMMY Award for Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2007, and "King of the World," a new song she co-wrote with Perry.
Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Take Over The GRAMMY Museum
Hip-hop duo discuss their career beginnings and creating their GRAMMY-nominated album The Heist
Current seven-time GRAMMY nominees Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, along with their manager Zach Quillen, recently participated in an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's A Conversation With series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, the hip-hop duo and Quillen discussed the beginning of the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' career, having creative control over their work and recording their GRAMMY-nominated Album Of The Year, The Heist.
"I met somebody [who] had the same dedication as me, [who] put everything into the music, everything into the craft," said Ben Haggerty (aka Macklemore) regarding meeting Lewis. "I wanted a career and Ryan was somebody [who] had the same discipline and sacrificed everything."
"I think it took a little while before it became clear to me who [Macklemore] was going to be," said Lewis. "I think the first indication of that was with the song 'Otherside' from the VS. Redux EP]. … That song … embodied so much. It was a story nobody was telling. … It was just somebody who was dying to be on the mike and to say something."
Seattle-based rapper Macklemore and DJ/producer Lewis have been making music fans take notice since they released their debut EP, 2009's The VS. EP. They followed with VS. Redux, which reached No. 7 on the iTunes Hip-Hop chart. The duo made waves in 2011 with the release of their hit single "Can't Hold Us" featuring Ray Dalton. The next year Macklemore was featured on the cover of XXL Magazine's coveted freshman class issue, and Rolling Stone dubbed the duo an "indie rags-to-riches" success story.
Released in 2012, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' debut studio album, The Heist, reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, propelled by the No. 1 hits "Can't Hold Us" and "Thrift Shop," the latter of which reached multi-platinum status and remained on top of the charts for six weeks. The album garnered a nomination for Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album at the 56th GRAMMY Awards, while "Thrift Shop" earned a nod for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. The duo's Top 20 hit "Same Love" featuring Mary Lambert earned a nomination for Song Of The Year and has been adopted by some as a pro-equality anthem. The duo garnered additional nominations for Best New Artist and Best Music Video for "Can't Hold Us."
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Icons Of The Music Industry: Ken Ehrlich (Jan. 14) and A Conversation With Peter Guralnick (Jan. 15).
Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures Exhibit Will Showcase The Surf-Rock Icons' Impact On Pop Culture
The exhibit, opening Dec. 7, will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run" and more
Influential instrumental rock band The Ventures are getting their own exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles that will showcase the band's impact on pop culture since the release of their massive hit "Walk, Don't Run" 60 years ago.
The Rock Hall of Fame inductees and Billboard chart-toppers have become especially iconic in the surf-rock world, known for its reverb-loaded guitar sound, for songs like "Wipeout," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Walk, Don't Run." The Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures exhibit opening Dec. 7 will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run," a Fender Limited Edition Ventures Signature guitars, rare photos and other items from their career spanning six decades and 250 albums.
“It’s such an honor to have an exhibit dedicated to The Ventures at the GRAMMY Museum and be recognized for our impact on music history,” said Don Wilson, a founding member of the band, in a statement. "I like to think that, because we ‘Venturized’ the music we recorded and played, we made it instantly recognizable as being The Ventures. We continue to do that, even today."
Don Wilson, Gerry McGee, Bob Spalding, and Leon Taylor are current band members. On Jan. 9, Taylor's widow and former Fiona Taylor, Ventures associated musician Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and others will be in conversation with GRAMMY Museum Artistic Director Scott Goldman about the band's journey into becoming the most successful instrumental rock band in history at the Clive Davis Theater.
"The Ventures have inspired generations of musicians during their storied six-decade career, motivating many artists to follow in their footsteps and start their own projects," said Michael Sticka, GRAMMY Museum President. "As a music museum, we aim to shine a light on music education, and we applaud the Ventures for earning their honorary title of 'the band that launched a thousand bands.' Many thanks to the Ventures and their families for letting us feature items from this important era in music history."
The exhibit will run Dec. 7–Aug. 3, 2020 at the GRAMMY Museum.
Scott Goldman and Julia Michaels
Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com
Julia Michaels Deconstructs "Issues," Writing Songs | "Required Listening" Podcast
Go inside the bright mind of one of pop's most promising singer/songwriters and learn about her songwriting process, her transition to the spotlight and the three female artists she admires
Julia Michaels' career has soared within the past year. Already a talented songwriter with writing credits such as Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran, and Fifth Harmony to her name, Michaels took a leap of faith with the release of her third solo EP, 2017's Nervous System.
Though Michaels has admitted to being nervous about moving to the forefront as an artist in her own right, the gamble paid off. The single "Issues" went gangbusters all the way to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and her EP cracked the Top 50. Plus, the Davenport, Iowa, native scored two nominations for the 60th GRAMMY Awards: Song Of The Year for "Issues" and Best New Artist.
What makes Michaels tick musically, how did she overcome her trepidation and why does she rely on feelings to guide her songwriting?
"It depends on the person. A lot of the times I'll just talk to them [first]," said Michaels regarding collaborating with other artists. "I mean we're all human. We all cry the same. We all bleed the same. So I try to make people feel as comfortable as possible to be able to tell me things, even if the artist that I'm with doesn't write, just having them talk is lyrics in itself. You know, them explaining their day or expressing how they feel. It's like, "That's amazing ... if that's how you're feeling we should write that.'"
As a matter of fact, Michaels told the host of "Required Listening," GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Scott Goldman, that she lets her feelings pilot her songwriting instead of traditional conventions — a process that has yielded gems such as "Issues."
"I'm not that calculated when I write," said Michaels. "I'm all heart when I write so I don't think about the algorithm of a song or the mathematics of a song. I just think, 'This feels good to me,' and just kind of go with that."
When peppered by Goldman with a question about coming into the limelight as a recording artist, Michaels was quick to point out that she has benefitted from plenty of help and encouragement.
"I think a lot of people have helped me get there," said Michaels. "My manager, Beka Tischker, she's been with me for six years. She's always believed in me. … And this year a lot of people have come into my life. I mean even my band — Dan Kanter, who's my guitar player … he's been with me since the beginning of the artist transition. I can't even do it without him at this point. ... There's a lot of people in my life, especially this year, that have made me feel comfortable and confident."
Speaking of confidence, Michaels has taken cues from plenty of her self-assured peers. She cited three artists, in particular, who have inspired her career path.
"I'm not that calculated when I write. I'm all heart." — Julia Michaels
"[Pink is] a bad***," said Michaels. "I love Fiona Apple. I love a lot of artists that are not afraid to say what they want to say. I love artists that write their own music. Laura Marling — she's very much from her point of view, very much whatever she wants to do. And plus her voice is so haunting and beautiful."
"Required Listening" launched on GRAMMY Sunday, Jan. 28, with the first episode featuring an in-depth conversation with GRAMMY winners Imagine Dragons and the second detailing "The Defiant Ones" with Allen Hughes and Jimmy Iovine.
DJ Khaled, Samantha Smith and John Legend
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs
DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend take home Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards
DJ Khaled, featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend, has won Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher" at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. The single was featured on DJ Khaled's 2019 album Father of Asahd and featured Hussle's vocals and Legend on the piano. DJ Khaled predicted the track would win a GRAMMY.
"I even told him, 'We're going to win a GRAMMY.' Because that's how I feel about my album," DJ Khaled told Billboard. "I really feel like not only is this my biggest, this is very special."
After the release of the song and music video -- which was filmed before Hussle's death in March -- DJ Khaled announced all proceeds from "Higher" will go to Hussle's children.
DJ Khaled and co. beat out fellow category nominees Lil Baby & Gunna ("Drip Too Hard"), Lil Nas X ("Panini"), Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch ("Ballin") and Young Thug featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott ("The London"). Hussle earned a second posthumous award at the 62nd GRAMMYs for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle."
Along with Legend and DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG paid tribute to Hussle during the telecast, which concluded with "Higher."
Check out the complete 62nd GRAMMY Awards nominees and winners list here.