Welcome to the MazzMuse Recording Project Kickstarter Campaign! We are all here today because something that has been a long time coming is finally upon us: I am making record of the music I have been performing for the past six years! With a little (a LOT!!) of help from my friends this is going to be an inspiring ride and I'm so glad you're here to find out more about how you can join me on that ride!
The MazzMuse Recording Project is twofold; since there are two sides to the MazzMuse experience, there will be two CDs when all is said and done: A "MazzMuse - The Band" CD (produced by Vernon Reid, renowned guitarist for the band Living Color to be released in June 2014) and a "Solo MazzMuse" CD (produced by Suphala, to be released in September 2014)
Please keep reading for more information on my relationship to the music, and to the people I'll be making the music with, as well as to listen to some music samples and find out the background on some of the rewards. And of course, please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
And remember: if I don't hit my goal, I get absolutely nothing. So please, pass this along to as many people as you can! This music is for all of you!
THANK YOU for your interest and support!
I'VE BEEN A SIDE-PERSON FOR A WHILE...NOW I'M FRONT AND CENTER!
Many of you know me as a performer in other people's projects (check this video, posted with permission from Howard Fishman):
Over the past 13 years, you've seen me play with Howard Fishman, Burnt Sugar, The Yohimbe Brothers, Valerie June, Vernon Reid, Suphala, James "Blood" Ulmer, several Irish rock bands over the years (The McCabes, Trigger), Kanye West, Whitney Houston, etc...
As a side person, I've:
- been on the Late Show with David Letterman
- the Tonight Show with Jay Leno
- traveled to five different countries in Africa as a cultural ambassador for the US Department of State
- been to Suriname also as a cultural ambassador
- done festivals all over Europe, The United States and Canada
- performed in all of the great halls and public arts spaces in NYC (Carnegie, Avery Fischer, Alice Tully, Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center, the Lincoln Center Atrium, Symphony Space, Live at the New York Public Library) as well as other well established venues around the world, including The Royal Albert Hall (London), The Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), The Palace of Arts (MŰVÉSZETEK PALOTÁJA, or MUPA – Budapest), and Bimhuis (Amsterdam)
- appeared in the popular anti-fracking documentary, "Dear Governor Cuomo", in concert alongside Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, Citizen Cope, Medeski Martin and Wood, Dan Zanes and many more
I love collaboration - and throughout all of this, my own personal music has been percolating.
That's a major part of what this project is all about: exploring this other creative side. The other major part? Answering the call – your call – to produce music of my own!
WHY TWO CDs?
These two recordings have been rolled into one project because, while the styles are quite different from each other, the material for them came about at a very specific time in my life; MazzMuse - The Band is very much an extension of Solo MazzMuse. About 90% of the music for these recordings was written during the same period and it all expresses a lot of what I was experiencing at that time.
MazzMuse - The Band
In 2011, I had the pleasure and honor of performing at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival with the amazingly talented Karma Mayet Johnson in her Blues Opera "Indigo". It afforded me the opportunity to witness and be a part of a most moving experience - the performance itself - and in a most inspiring setting - the festival - and further inspired me to take the compositions I had come up with that simply could not be performed as a solo artist and finally put together a band in order to perform these works. I applied for the festival, was accepted, and quickly began putting together a band of killer musicians for the occasion. In 2012 we drove halfway across the country and rocked out so hard, I could not turn back. Not then, not ever.
I have been performing with some serious badasses and I'd love to shout them out here as they'll be working on the band CD with me. :)
For this recording I'll be collaborating with Vernon Reid, renowned guitarist for the band Living Color and visionary producer. Vernon and I have a great rapport. Having worked together in the past (on his first Yohimbe Bros. record, also in the context of Burnt Sugar, as well as having recorded and performed together in other contexts), there is a great synergy in the way that we think about the music that I feel will be beautifully and powerfully expressed in the making of this CD. His ideas in the preproduction phase have already inspired and focused me in a way that I really love and I am so looking forward to being in the studio with him and the band!
When my previous band Brazz Tree split, I felt the need to make music in a very different way than I had so far. I also had a bit of "collaboration" burnout and wanted to see what it would be like to make music without having to run it by "the committee". So I bought a loop pedal and began experimenting on my own, recording bits and pieces of ideas for use at a later date. Occasionally a song would come to me fully formed and that was always a gift but mostly I just began keeping record of the many ideas that were tumbling out of my mind.
In the Spring of 2011, I was approached by the assistant of a producer at the Today Show who said that her boss had seen me perform and wanted to put me on the Easter morning show.
Here's me performing my tune Molten on the Today Show:
Of course I jumped at the opportunity but didn't realize that I really wasn't prepared for what was to come mere moments after the show aired: if people had been interested in hearing a recording from me before that day, they were positively clamoring for music to purchase after that! So I released two singles - live performances of a couple of my tunes. Molten was one of them. Melancholy Baby was another:
Recording for this part of the project is underway as we speak. I have the pleasure of collaborating with the inimitable producer and tabla player Suphala (who just recently released her own beautiful CD). We have played together countless times over the years and I'm on her last three releases, so I know what she can do! I'm so excited that I get to have some of that magic on my own record now!
Your contributions to this recording project will go directly toward the production and promotional costs of putting together the two CDs. This is the absolute bare minimum I would require to put out a gorgeous looking and sounding set of art of the highest quality. Costs include:
- The band and guest artists
- Studio time and space
- Mixing and Mastering the recordings
- Designing the artwork and liner notes
- Printing the artwork and liner notes
- Pressing the CDs
- Printing posters
- Getting your rewards out to you!
Anything I make beyond the goal of $16,000 will go towards:
- Pressing special, limited edition Vinyl editions of the recordings
- The three-month publicity campaign I plan to run in order to ensure these recordings reach every possible corner of the world
- Touring the solo AND band projects in support of the recordings
The World Martial Arts Center
I'm so excited that, through the generosity of Sabumnim D. Herbert, I am able to offer as part of the Rewards for supporting my project, a free, 30-day trial membership at the World Martial Arts Center (which includes other goodies that you'll have to find out about when you sign up!) during which time the backer and I will get to work out together and explore the mind expanding and body-strengthening art of HapKiDo. The value of this particular reward truly goes WAY beyond what I am asking for here.
As many of you know, I train in a style of martial arts called HapKiDo. My journey as a martial artist began about 17 years ago, when I pulled a number out of the phone book (remember the olden days when we used phone books to find goods and services??) and ended up speaking directly to Master (Sabumnim) David Herbert. I had dialed two other numbers before his but the first sounded more like a gym than a center for serious martial arts training, and the person who answered the phone of the second number I called was rather condescending and he just rubbed me the wrong way when we spoke. So I called the third number, had a straightforward conversation with Sabumnim (the Korean term for Master of the School) and thought "Ok. I'm going to try this out."
A friend and I were supposed to go together but she flaked out at the last minute so I ended up going by myself. I got there early and observed the end of a class - it looked like fun so I got a uniform, and took, not one but TWO (do you see a pattern here?) trial classes back to back. You could say I had a lot of energy but also something about it just clicked for me. I really fell in love. Not only with the art form, but with the school and Sabumnim himself. I went every day, spending hours at a time there. I had a 3-year hiatus where I traveled and basically just took a break, but when I came back it was like picking up where I left off. Now they are like my family.
I became a 1st Degree Black Belt instructor at the World Martial Arts Center in the Spring of 2009. By the Fall of 2009, I earned my senior stripe, officially making me 1st Dan Sunbai ("Senior" 1st Degree Black Belt) at the school, recognized by the World Pro Hapkido Federation.
Aside from music, HapKiDo is my passion and there's nowhere else I'd rather practice it than with the incredible students and instructors at the World Martial Arts Center. There's nothing like hard work that feels fun, surrounded by people who are very serious about their art, yet don't take themselves too seriously. And many of these people are quite accomplished in all kinds of fields. It just goes to show: learn how to be a warrior (not just a fighter) and you can do ANYTHING!
The school is beautiful, classes are for all levels, all body types, all ages; students have a safe place to learn very quickly (you can learn so much in just ONE class, just imagine what you'll do within a month!)
Risks and challenges
The challenge as I see it is time constraint. The people I am making music with are all heavy professionals who have about a gazillion other things that they are involved in. So I'm planning to turn their limited availability into a strength. It ensures that the process will not drag on if there are a finite amount of days when people are available to work.
Also, I am a touring artist myself, so finding the time to make sure the recording and packaging is of the best quality can be a challenge, so I'm building in *more* than enough time to get it all done by staggering the deadlines for the two recordings; setting the Band's CD halfway through 2014. and then the Solo CD three months after that.
The recording for the Band CD will be done by the end of December, 2013 and, all said and done with mixing and mastering is estimated to be done by the end of January 2014, so CDs (and Vinyl if we raise more than the goal!) for that can be pressed and ready to go as early as March 2014. But as I have said previously, I would like to do a significant PR campaign to blast the arrival of the CDs, and I also want to allow a little wiggle room for any possible unexpected setbacks, so I've set the Band CD release date for June 2014 in order to ensure that I will have the time to make it all happen.
To ensure that each recording gets the full time that it needs to be produced to perfection and properly promoted, I have decided to stagger the release dates. So the Solo MazzMuse CD is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2014.
Aside from the delicate balance of timing, the real challenge before me seems to lie in the raising of the funds to begin the process. I am looking forward to meeting that challenge with you all!
Phew! Thank you for reading all the way through this page. And again, please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns you may have!
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