A talk with Whatabout Music’s Dave Bianchi
As many podcasters and bloggers know, IODA Promonet is a content producers best friend as it provides new and interesting music of various genres to listen and showcase. That’s how I learned about Dave Bianchi in 2007 while producing the Mandrake Society Radio podcast. Well, three solo releases later and several more from artists around the world on his imprints, Whatabout Music, and Whatabout Jazz, Dave took the time to answer a few questions for me via email about his work.
First, freely download these three tracks to get a taste. The links below the downloads are online places where you can buy the full CD/download.
GLM: You were in radio production as well as music, right?
DB: Yes, when I lived in LA and NY, I produced a number of different syndicated radio programs. Rockline and Modern Rock Live was my beginning in radio, then I went on to create and produce a national show with Alice Cooper, for classic rock radio stations in the US and Canada. It was fun, and there was a certain element of creativity that was fulfilled, but my goal was always to somehow make a transition into music production. It served its purpose for the 12 years I worked for big companies, but radio can’t compare to what I’m doing now with my own studio and label.
GLM: Your recordings are an experience in listening. From your whispers and your varied instrument choices to the large group crescendos that break off into dub, it’s really a joy to listen to. Do you go into the studio with each production mapped out or do you let the mood of the song dictate while in the studio?
DB: I have the unique opportunity as a producer to work with hundreds of musicians throughout the year. When I write a song, I usually start with one instrument, whether guitar, piano, or vibraphone. But as the song develops in the studio, the ideas of arrangement start to come, and I pick and choose the musicians I feel are right for the particular song. On my second album Baby Disco, there were songs that i recorded with a mini ‘orchestra’ of up to 21 musicians to create what i heard in my head. Then there are songs on my third album, The Suburbs of Salt, that only consisted of 3 people. Then on my first EP, Onion, I played all the instruments myself. As you say, the song usually dictates where it wants to go once I’m in the studio, and quickly becomes clear where it will end…
GLM: What was (or is) happening with the music communities in Spain that you decided to set up shop there instead of the States?
DB: In the states (at least in LA and NY) my experience with trying to produce music was always frustrating. It seemed the motives of most musicians were to ‘get a record deal’ or ‘make it big,’ or music was so closely tied to fashion or a ‘scene’ that trying to do anything different wasn’t easy. Of course, that was the mid 90s when record deals still existed. When I finally left the States, I found such a different attitude in Barcelona, which really is a creative haven in Europe. Musicians and artists flock to the city because there is a thriving under-current of truly alternative art. This is what has inspired me, and given me the energy to continue to produce music that constantly challenges and teaches me.
GLM: You have the Whatabout Music imprint, as well as the Whatabout Jazz imprint. What is it about jazz that you felt deserved its own space?
DB: I’ve always been a huge fan of jazz music. I grew up listening to jazz, thanks to my parents. In Barcelona there is a very strong jazz community which is quite open minded, and has been supportive of my label and myself as a producer. It wouldn’t feel right to ignore this side of my musical influence
GLM: I first found out about your music via IODA Promonet (your current distributor) and subsquently bought the Onion EP. What media outlet has the most impact on Whatabout Music awareness and sales: independent/online radio (Pandora, Spotify), podcasts/blogs, or mainstream radio (in US or in Spain)?
DB: First of all, IODA is great. They do manage to get your music into the hands of people who are willing to listen. There are now 25 bands on the label, most of which live in Barcelona. For us, Spotify has been really cool, as it generates some money for the artists, and is used by almost everyone in Spain. Of course, the blogging and podcasting community (yourself included) has been incredibly supportive of Whatabout Music. Sometimes it can feel like the digital music world is oversaturated with choices, and I can’t imagine how hard it could be to put together a podcast once a week when there is so much free music to download, and you could broadcast for 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Yet we have had tremendous support. I like to think that even within the vastness of online music, good music still finds its way into the hands of bloggers and podcasters. Or maybe we’re just lucky