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Trent Park On Crafting His New Music Video For "Fly," GRAMMY U & More

Trent Park

Photo: Robert R. Lopez

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Trent Park On Crafting His New Music Video For "Fly," GRAMMY U & More

The rising LGBTQ/Black indie artist also premieres a behind-the-scenes look at the COVID-compliant making of his visually arresting music video

GRAMMYs/Sep 16, 2020 - 08:01 pm

For independent artists fighting to find a following, build a buzz and continue to create during the pandemic, the show must go on. With the release of his visually stunning music video for "Fly," Trent Park has powered through, delivering fresh new sights and sounds while finding creative and thoughtful ways to collaborate within the many health restrictions the COVID era has brought. We caught up with the indie upstart and GRAMMY U alumnus to find out how he's adapted his writing process recently, take a peek at the making of "Fly" with the premiere of his exclusive behind-the-scenes video and hear what's next.

Where did the song "Fly" come from and why did you write it?

I twisted my writing style this past year so now I approach my melody/lyric writing not so much pen/paper but more like a rapper would. For "Fly" I looped eight bars of the song with just the main instruments (drums, pad, lead) and hopped in the recording booth right away and freestyled melody ideas. Before diving deeply into the production, I try to cut a vocal as soon as I can. This process is more fun and always gets better ideas and moves the songwriting session quicker than what I used to just sitting on the couch and overthinking what the song concept is or a rhyme scheme or whatever else. I leave it up to my immediate imagination/feel to lead the ideas rather than my mind. That freestyle led me to the concept of escape and words of exploration. The song’s verse starts “a little break needed time to get away”; those were the first words that came out so I rolled with that idea. The environment and unsettling situations of the world led me to this topic of wanting to get away, so I just leaned into it.

The song's music video is visually arresting. Can you tell us about the concept and the symbolism?

This is actually the third video I ever directed, so I’m always glad to hear that people enjoy the work. It’s funny because when I create the music, I usually see glimpses of what I want the music video to be. I saw a lot of blue when I wrote the song and I wanted the entire color palette of the visual to contain that element. The video treatment was made rather quickly, and my concept was focused on the idea of reality versus dream. I wanted there to be reveals within the music video to trick the eye of what is being seen. I was blessed to have a creative team that could bring my crazy visuals to life. I had a coffee with my production designer phenomenon Hudson Garcia and we geeked out over concepts and executions, I had hour long convos with my makeup artist Jordan Slack of how we could pull off gender ambiguous type looks, and constant check ins with my DP/co-director William Sikora III. All these conversations filtered my treatment into a reality of what we could pull off.

What was it like to film a COVID-compliant music video on a tight budget?

These times have been so difficult for me emotionally/financially, and the only healing I have been able to achieve is done through creating. I vowed to pair every song I release with a visual. My two biggest giants I had to face for this were budget and COVID. Coming from the music video production world allowed me an advantage of having the proper tools and wisdom to pre-produce my visuals with a fine-toothed comb. I have a lighting director David Goodman (the best in the business), who achieved over three certifications of COVID compliance within the workplace. He and I went over logistics, production schedule and venue layout to incorporate the proper strategy. We had a 2,300 square foot location at Nightview Studios where our mini crew of eight all had their own space, masks, sanitizer setups, plus proper signage, temp checks, assessment forms, etc.... The safety and comfort of my crew is a huge concern for me, so my team of coordinators spent extreme amounts of care to allow the set to be compliant.

The budget was my second giant that was super daunting. COVID hit me extremely hard financially, and I had pretty much the most compact budget ever (like think tiny then cut it in half). I utilized all my favors, became super creative with what I already had, plus I have probably the best team of creatives that support my art. My community really pulled together to help carry the stress of this. Being an indie artist with no management or label, every expense I have to carry, every creative idea filters through me, every comment of support/hate I read and respond to. It’s a lot! But the privilege of making music always reminds me of why I do it.

As a rising LGBTQ/Black indie artist, how did your experience with GRAMMY U help prepare you for the music industry?

GRAMMY U pulled back the curtain of music business mystique and allowed me access to music industry pros, top tier studios, and access to relationships that I have utilized to this day. I was able to see myself within an industry that I only saw on a screen or heard on the radio; GRAMMY U allowed me to see not only the red carpet lifestyle but behind the scenes. Seeing the humanity of the music business allowed me to envision myself within the creative lead roles that I didn’t have the example of prior. Being a Black/Mexican gay man, I understand deeply of not fitting in. GRAMMY U allowed me a community that shared my passion, encouraged me to grow, but also challenged me to keep being a better version of my art. GRAMMY U helped solidify within my routine to always giving back to the upcoming generation of artists. I hope I inspire with the art I make, but also hope to give any help I can so that the next batch of creators can avoid the road blocks I had to face.

What are you working on now, and what can your fans look forward to next from Trent Park?

I’m working on so much! I have a new haunted Christmas Carol called “River” which is a Joni Mitchell cover coming in October with a music video to pair it in November. I have some shoots set up to prepare for next year releases; I’m basically premiering a new song/visual every eight weeks. I also have some photo shoots scheduled with some amazing photographers that I always premiere on my Instagram and am flirting with the idea of having an outdoor COVID compliant music video screening of my newest work. So lots to do!

GRAMMY U’s “Music & Activism: Enacting Real Change” Envisions Industry’s Equitable Future

 

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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards