Last year it was my honor to interview Andy for some of our first interviews for this blog. As of a couple months ago Andy is looking for work. I had a wonder phone conversation with him a day or two before the original interview came out. He sent me a CD with his music and I purchased handmade guitar strap for myself that he makes when he has extra time. Personally I have been impressed with his musical styling’s as well as his extensive musical background. He would be an asset to any band.
Check him out. Here is were you can find him.
Andrew Gemkow, his solo project is called, “Postcards from the Deathbed.” If you check out all the places on the web to find him you realize that one style of music is not in his vocabulary. Alternative, R&B, Rock, Folk, he has a wide variety of sounds out there, and all of it is great stuff.
His own Bio on ReverbNations says,
“Postcards from the Deathbed is the story of a man who has chosen to hide in plain sight through his use of music to make sense of the world around him and the events of his life that he cannot possibly understand. The purpose of all of this is to allow the truth to flow out though the vehicle of sound; the wording is carefully chosen to protect all who exist within the spaces of these electrons that bind us all as one existence. As the memories slip from the failing mind of an old man in his fate, these postcards may well serve to remind him of memories lost within the chaos of passing time.
The multiple sketches and refinements as they are released here are with the intent to show the evolution of understanding and acceptance of the self and the impact others have had upon his very being. These creations are a shelter within the soul from the storm that rages within the mind. This is me.”
We asked a few questions,
What or who inspired you?
Coming from a family of musicians, they have always been an exceptional source of inspiration to me. My great grandpa Rudy could play anything he heard on the concertina. My uncle Bob played drums in a wedding band. However, my greatest inspiration came from my uncle Ed. Shortly after I began learning violin, he had me stand up on a side table and play the first three songs I ever learned. When I finished, he gave me a dollar, saying, “Now you are a paid professional. It’s up to you to go as far as you want because you can be the best if you work at it.” I keep this in mind whenever I play music for someone else.
What instruments do you play and who manufactured them?
I play any stringed instrument. The physics of a vibrating string has fascinated me since my time studying with Nelle Meintz. She taught me harmonics. Later, when I learned to regulate pedal harps at Lyon and Healy, Peter Wiley introduced me to the bible of tonal physics by Hermann Helmholtz titled, ‘On the Sensation of Tone’.
The instruments I own have been carefully selected for their tonal characteristics and playability within the capabilities of my hands. Let’s just say that it’s unlikely I will ever buy an instrument off the internet.
I play a 2006 Fender Jaguar Bass that I have customized to suit my playing techniques. For example, I played about 30 different jag basses at the time before I selected the one that sounded and played best. It is strung with Thomastick flatwound strings and has a Hipshot D-tuner. I removed the pickguard and custom shaped a rosewood coverplate for the electronics pocket and added a thumb block to accommodate my right hand technique. Everything else is stock.
My guitar is a walnut 1979 Gibson SG. It was a factory “second” from the Norlin era that has had much work done to it over the years by Kagan and Gaines in Chicago and Northwest guitars. After a complete restoration in 2008, I stripped the original body finish to the natural wood and applied a hand-rubbed linseed oil finish. It has the stock “tarback” or T-top pick-up in the bridge and the stock “super humbucker” pickup in the bridge; split series/phase/parallel. Everything is stock except for a bison bone nut.
There are other instruments in the rack, but these two instruments define my sound.
What do you listen too?
My musical taste is eclectic. I listen to all forms of music. My preference is toward music that is innovative and isn’t an emulation of previous artists. “Sound-alikes” bore me. I do enjoy the recognition of an artist’s influences in their compositions; so long as their own style and personality is dominant in their sound.
I also listen intently to what other people are saying. Without this fundamental base in communication, the intent in my own compositions holds no merit.
What makes you happy? sad?
It took me a bit to think about this question. I’m pretty happy most of the time. When I’m not, it usually leads to 3am writing sessions until I can sleep again. It’s the only way that I know how to at least be completely truthful to myself. As long as I have truth, I have happiness. This doesn’t necessarily exclude sorrow, remorse or joy. Truth just happens to be the justification for experiencing all other emotions I feel.
Sadness has come from innumerable directions in my life. It is not an emotion I dwell upon for fear of becoming awash in its consumption. It’s emptiness is the very thing I avoid at all costs. It will have its place in time in its lesser forms, but holds no shelter from the night when it rolls in like a fog. I choose happiness for its limitless reward when continually shared. Sadness brought me nothing but a quick fix, hopelessness and death in all its forms.
But, if one thing makes me sad, it is those who may walk through this life having never known they are alive.
oh… and White Sox fans in a ‘shakin’ my head’ kinda way. Only because they suck so bad at being fans. That’s right, you 35th st. mutts. I said it
Insightful, raw, upcoming talent. Looking for more in the coming years.
Well, for me it started when my dad bought me a tape called bible break when I was 6. This was the first time I heard hip-hop and from that point on I was hooked. I started writing songs shortly their after.
With no way to record myself I decided to store all of my songs till I got old enough to buy equipment but as the years passed I started to have a love for something else in life that was basketball. Basketball became my life as I entered my teen years and lasted till I blow out my knee. I took this really hard because I almost forgot about music by this point-I mean I was so set on be coming a basketball player it was blinding me that I had other passions in my life.
By this time I’m 18 I dropped out of high school and was starting to rebuild that lost love of music again. It took a few year to decide that is was what I wanted to do not because it was a hard choice but I knew the road to making a living off of music is hard road to travel. Once I decide to do this I was going full out I started creating tracks for me to rap on and started save money to get equipment.
Now in my early twenties I was looking forward again and everything was full go for music I was meeting people that I still work if today. I would spend thousands of hours online looking for any info on how to create and produce music. During this Time I also moved back home to Cincinnati, OH because my grandma got sick and then it happened something that just crushed me to pieces. One of my biggest supports in my life was my grandma and in 2001 she died from cancer. I was so angry so mad at GOD for taking her that for the next 10 years I gave up Rapping. I felt that the main reason for me doing music was gone so why even try anymore but GOD on the other hand had a different plan.
After this I just filled my life with meaningless things just to pass the time, I end up getting a managers job at a restaurant for a little while but it didn’t work out and I quite. During this time my uncle at the age of 40 started going to college and tried to get me to go for over a year but I keep telling he I got a job and I didn’t need college. Well after quitting my job I ask my parents if I could move back home to go to college for music production.
So I went to college for 3 years and figured not I really didn’t need it. All of my professors would always ask me why am I in college for music production when I am already doing producing music? They told me these things after hearing the tracks I made for project and told me to just go find a record company and sell them my tracks.
Finally after loosing my house and mom getting laid off I ended up in Tennessee with my great family. And I stated “moving on” not only about my grandma but about I lot of issues I was dealing from my past this is where the Artist came back because I need a way to release what was trapped inside of me. All the emotion and feeling that I kept bottled up all those years I realize I had to let go because progressing in my life will never happen if I don’t release the issues I have. So this is where the Album comes in I haven’t set a date for its release just yet hopefully by May if all goes well. For those who have never heard my music you can listen to it over at reverbnation.com/mil1lion and all song are free downloads. I also would like to thank heishort for putting on her blog thank you so much and I will let people know about your blog GOD bless. M1n I’m out.
Thank for taking the time to talk about your passion. Good Luck!
How did you get started, little history bio basically?
My mother found me at a hospital in 1977 and filled the role of a vicarious artist, and so it all began! Seriously though, I got my start playing guitar and diversified from there. The piano is my main instrument and my forte, which helps me to write balanced compositions with a solid melodic platform.
What or who inspired you?
Bill Collectors, people with big houses and lots of cool stuff, that Nickleback song “Rock Star”. Mostly my inspiration came from film scores like those by John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park), Jerry Goldsmith (Star trek Movie themes, Poltergeist), and Alan Menken (numerous Disney movies) which always drove a scene beyond where the actors could take it emotionally.
What instruments do you play and who manufactured them?
I currently play a keyboard by Roland, acoustic guitar by Sigma, and any other instrument I can find time with!
What do you listen too?
Vulcan logic, my heart, the universe, oh and my two daughters begging for things I can’t afford…
What makes you happy? sad?
Happy: Skinny jeans on women, montages, root beer, cool people who interview me, and of course my family.
Sad: Movies where people lose a finger, when “The Wonders” broke up, and skinny jeans on men.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Try to ignore the endless TV theme song database in my head. There’s no reason to still remember the theme song to Webster or Buck Rodgers, it’s weird. Remember Air Wolf…? I DO!
If you could do anything you wanted what would it be?
Bungee jump from the moon. I haven’t found a cord long enough though…Among my career goals, I hope to compose soundtracks for major motion pictures…. Steven Spielberg, call me.
Anything else you think people don’t already know about you that you want to share?
I am a cancer survivor and it has shown me that life can be short. Live in the moment while planning for the future and go after your dreams no matter what stands in your way.
Have you got another album in the works and/or music videos?
I am constantly working on new songs and ideas, so check often! I also have a top secret project in the works, but you can’t see that yet.
Who manages you and how is that going?
My wife…um, it’s going great according to her!
I was born in the US but at the age of five I went with my mother to Germany, where I spent the next fifteen years. Living in Europe has allowed me to travel and explore other cultures which has formed my view of the world and shows itself in my music as well. It was during that time that the era of the synthesizer began and I discovered the great sounds of Analog Keyboards, starting with the Mini-Moog. I was utterly fascinated and though I had no formal musical training I taught myself and could not stop playing it. Musicians like Jean-Michael-Jarre and Vangelis were hitting the airwaves in Europe and taking me by storm. Through my step-father, who was in the event business, I attended and worked at large music festivals which also gave me a chance to experience Chris DeBurgh, the Scorpions, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, John Denver, Judas Priest, Dire Straits, Phil Collins, Madonna, Marillion and a number of others. They were my heroes, but I guess what impressed me most was the fact that these artists could unite a people so different from each other, in color, religion, politics and lifestyles – I understood that there are no borders for music, neither visible nor invisible ones.
At the age of 20 I returned to the US, wanting to meet my father, of whom I had no memory.He lived with his new family in Colorado, but the meeting turned out to be a disappointment. I moved to Denver, tried to re-built my life and eventually bought a keyboard again, which I have now, a Korg Triton Workstation 88 key with expansion boards. There is nothing I cannot do with it and I hope that it continues to serve me as well in the future.
For a few years I managed bands, and in that capacity I met countless musicians with real talent but no feeling for what the public wanted. None of them were prepared to change anything in their music to make the listener happy. It was so frustrating that I decided to try and write my own music to see if I couldn’t convey the things that are in my heart to a larger audience. I am probably an idealist, but with my songs I hope to bring people together and to make them forget their troubles or hate. At first it was only one song – “In My Dreams” – which took me six months to feel good about. That was in 2010. Then it became easier, “I Believe”, for example, was written in less than an hour. Now I often finish a song and I start writing two, three, four more. But the idea, that started it, was for me to see the difficulties of these bands and I found that I had no problem changing songs as long as the message within them was kept pure.
As I said, I was never trained in classical piano, I hear what I like and extrapolate from there, it has to be in tune with the words. I don’t have a great singing voice and lyrics are most important to me. I want to lift you up, I want to carry you when you’re down, I want you to have fun and enjoy your life or, on the other hand, give voice to the things in the world that I find wrong. That is my music, I play every day, I love it and want to get better at it, I want to open my heart and mind to strangers and find a connection. I have only now discovered the rewards of this, I have found friends all over the world and they tell me that they want to hear more. At this time I am in Germany promoting RP, but I can’t wait to get back to the US and finish some of my last songs for release. We are hoping that the 1st Album “Evolve” will be out by June. It is rather difficult for me to keep up with promoting, song writing and the travelling I have to do for work. We have no management and have to do everything ourselves, but it keeps me in touch with our fans out there. We are also talking about making a video and are trying to decide on the song. Money and time, of course, are our greatest problems at the moment and I don’t think we will overcome that anytime soon. We just started a MySpace site and also have a Facebook page and ReverbNation.
We would like to say thanks Reign Project and continued good luck.
I would like to introduce a manager today. He manages for the Billy K Band as well as a number of other artists. He too is an artist in his own right and he gave us some of his time to talk about being a manager.
What made you interested in doing this kind of work?
I have been interested in music and always been fascinated by talented performers and started back in grammar school, when my music teacher discovered my voice and music interest which grew into my first debut in Eastman School of Music in a choir where I performed on my first recording as a young boy titled “Children’s Plea for Peace”, and soundtrack for the Movie “Oliver”. After a few years at the age of 13 I got my first drum set and started my own group and played locally. Then after a 14 year run I as a rock vocalist and felt it was not enough. I started reading many books and attend many seminars for marketing and constantly stayed tuned into what was going on behind the scenes, this seem to interest me more, then babysitting musicians who were comfortable doing things on a local level. So I loaded up my bags and said I’m going to head to Nashville in hopes of being discovered, and when I arrived I knew no one, but found my way to Gilly’s Porch on Music Row, where I looked through the book and found a song to sing proudly and a talent scout came across me, he approached me and introduced me to a producer that turned out to be my guiding light in the music industry. As his right hand man I was his apprentice for many artist, for 12 years on Music Row, working on press kits, getting them to the studio on time, and matching songs with each different style, making sure the photos were done on time over seeing the artist and what was needed to get them performing, and traveling the states as a talent scout. I did not have a total interest in being an artist but always loved the behind the scene movement, so after 30 years of networking and making connections and the untimely death of my mentor and master trainer in 2000, I decided if I was going to help anyone else in this business I needed to wear out my own boots and shake enough hands to acquire a team that I could depend on that will do what they promised. So I had to record 48 records myself knowing that I had the team of true professionals that meant what they said , and said what they meant. The songs were liked and loved by many of the Nashville Recording Artist and the time was spent learning the business from all angles. As an A&R, artist, and a promotion director, by the time 30 years had passed it was time to allow the deserving artist a chance to play on the same field with the true professionals I had worked with and knew on a personal level. So I recorded my last CD “Time for Change” and started my own label with my partner based on my experience, which was the last piece of the puzzle. So now I’m older yet as I let the years sneak up quickly and decided to build my Label by producing and managing my own Artists from A TO Z, so that we can both be blessed with my goal in mind to run my own company, and Artist Management company feeling fortunate enough to see it from all sides of the coin making my experience valuable to upcoming deserving artists.
What are some of the pitfalls, and what the rewards are?
Many have asked the same questions about Pitfalls and Rewards although there are several pitfalls and many Rewards. I’ll point out a few to keep it brief.
One of the Pitfalls we sometimes don’t see coming is who and whom you are associated with, meaning if someone you are doing business with has been labeled a shark and practiced unfair dealing with others before you, and you do business with them unfortunately you wear the same suit, as a young artist I would say it’s not always the person you’re dealing with creditability, it’s the people’s people they are dealing with that can hurt you or enhance your chances as an Artist, so do your home work and check under all the rocks to make sure your on the right path.
Another Pitfall is Don’t get excited to play all your songs for anyone and anyone at songwriters nights, or conventions, or in public unless you are protected by your copyrights and you are affiliated with songwriters associations like ASCAP, BMI ,SESAC, SOCAN , see when you post many songs all over the net unprotected a songwriting professional will not steal the song but write around the song and steal the hook the most valuable part of your song. So be very careful about where you perform you own personal creations as many eyes await and ear are alert and you will lose all of what you have worked so hard to create.
Third but not at all the last Pitfall you will be faced with is if you don’t have the guidance or representation. Know that this is a Business and should be treated as any other business, this is your business and career just like being a Doctor school is important and staying educated in your field. Many Artists I have found want a manager, but don’t want to be managed. Letting your manager do what he has trained to do and working together by keeping communication open at all times is so important. If you think you can go do it alone then you don’t want to be managed so don’t bother signing an agreement you know you will not follow.
I say Know your Craft and then many doors of opportunity will open one lock after another, don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek attorney advice when this is most difficult business in the world and all contracts have hidden lines you may not notice without professional opinions.
The rewards come in many ways not only monetary value or dollar value from a successful production, but playing a part in someone else ‘s dream has its own reward knowing that the time taken to educate yourself being the messenger and laying on the finish line from exhaustion from a job well done with integrity. The point is to breathing life into a deserving talent to be shared with the world, touching one heart at a time. Changing someone’s bad day into a good day with some words story lines and melodies wow just being there at the right time is a reward that is priceless.
What are the hardest things to deal with?
I would say one of the hardest things to deal with would be keeping the upcoming artist on task, on time, and not babysitting unprofessional musicians, holding a job and playing at night till you make it so to speak.
Trying to make a living only by playing music feeding the family and staying focused without being taken off sides resisting the urge to give up. Growing into the career not being a victim of what you chose for your life. And then making your personal life work if you have a happy family at home then you can stay focused on your career. So keeping the 5 areas of balance in your life is the hardest.
If all is in place and balanced your career will flourish.
What do you do in your spare time?
What I do is not what a typical guy would do, mostly work 24/7 and find many to advance my career as a Manager, Recording Artist & Record label owner, by seeking out great songs for upcoming acts.
Network and attend music conventions staying active in all fields and tuned into the ever-changing markets in music, stay revitalized at all the new marketing opportunities and scouting out showcases of potential artist for consideration while constantly honing my craft.
Building a SUPER STAR takes time and strategy.
Knowing what moves to make first like a game of chess against the biggest in the world challenging and rewarding. Then spending time with my family and my son as young man growing up his talent is something I take with pride and devotion.
Thanking many for my blessings.
If you could do anything else, what would you like to try?
There is not anything else I would consider doing except build a musical empire and facility to school. Complete with a production and control room, recording studio, and video production company all under one roof to educate and groom our next generation of talent for years to come before I take my final dirt nap.
Knowing I was a meaningful specific in someone’s life and played a part in helping another dream realized.
Thanks to Rickey for his time.