If you’re a “regular” here at Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend, or if you follow me on Twitter, then you know I prefer to do things unconventionally. Terra Naomi‘s new album, To Know I’m OK, came about unconventionally as well.
When I met Terra more than a year ago, she had a very clear vision of how she wanted this album to sound, even before all the songs were written. She knew she wanted John Alagia (Rachel Yamagata, Brett Dennen, Ben Folds Five, David Gray, Liz Phair, Jason Mraz) to produce the album. She was free from a major-label deal so she could do things differently, not beholden to anyone but herself. At the same time, she was also keenly aware that she no longer had the major-label resources to record and release her second album, and if she forgot about that for a moment, somebody was there telling her it couldn’t be done.
Photo by Ben Watts
Determined to make her vision a reality, Terra ignored the naysayers and set forth on a path to record and release To Know I’m OK, without compromise. Terra raised the recording budget via a direct to fan engagement campaign with PledgeMusic and then approached John Alagia to produce the album. Upon hearing the music and Terra’s plans for releasing the album, Alagia agreed. The result? “This is the album I’ve always wanted to make,” Terra says.
Terra is also going about releasing the album independently, partnering with technology companies and passionate audience communities. As she did with PledgeMusic, Terra continues to go directly to fans, reaching them in unique ways, and including them in the process. Terra partnered with Hipstamatic, engaging their passionate community and incorporating user-submitted Hipstamatic photos as the centerpiece of her video for “You For Me”. She’s working with Klout, providing unique offerings to their influencers, as well as partnering with music and lifestyle bloggers.
Photo by Ben Watts
To Know I’m OK will be available tomorrow, Tuesday June 21st, and I wanted to do something special in honor of its release. I considered interviewing Terra about the songs and the recording process. I thought it might be fun to drink with Terra. Actually, I knew that was fun, having done it previously. Other ideas that crossed my mind were: going behind the scenes with Terra and producer John Alagia during the recording process, posting random outtakes from the studio, sharing footage nobody knew I was recording, and posting full streams of some of the songs on the album. I even considered showing the recording process through the eyes of Terra’s dog, Elliott Osito. I’m of the belief that we can have it all, so below, you will find everything mentioned above.
I hope you enjoy this track-by-track video exploration of Terra Naomi: To Know I’m OK.
It’s time for a listening party
1. You For Me
Michael Chaves, Sean Hurley, Brad Conrad, John Alagia, Victor Indrizzo lend a hand to Terra Naomi during the recording of “You For Me”
Terra’s dog, Elliott, lends his tail during the making of “You For Me”
Listen to “You For Me” (Full Stream)
2. If I Could Stay
Terra performs “If I Could Stay” at a private house party
3. Not Sorry
Terra discusses the re-recording of “Not Sorry”
Listen to the new version of “Not Sorry” from To Know I’m OK
4. Everybody Knows
Terra, John Alagia, Brad Conrad, Zac Rae, Victor Indrizzo, Sean Hurley, and Michael Chaves working out “Everybody Knows” in the studio
Recording “Everybody Knows”
Listen to “Everybody Knows” Album Version (Full Stream)
5. Someday Soon
Terra, producer John Alagia, Brad Conrad, Zac Rae, Michael Chaves, Victor Indrizzo, and Sean Hurley listening to their initial recordings of “Someday Soon”
6. I’ll Be Waiting
Terra discusses the meaning of “I’ll Be Waiting” during our “interview” at Malibu Wines
Recording “I’ll Be Waiting”
Listen to “I’ll Be Waiting” (Full Stream)
I’ll Be Waiting:
7. Take Time
Terra does a special performance of “Take Time” for Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend:
Inspired by a man who dumped her:
Listen to “Take Time” (Full Stream)
8. To Know I’m OK
Listen to the title track from Terra’s new album, “To Know I’m OK” (full stream)
To Know I’m Ok:
Terra’s dog, Elliott Osito, gives his notes on the album
Finally, after a long day in the studio, John Alagia and Michael Chaves had these parting words for Terra:
Among the “others” was a Miike Snow show. My experience of that show was the epitome of everything that is resulting in things such as promoters and ticket retailers posting large revenue losses, quarter after quarter. I don’t recall specifically the exact mark-up, but it was something like 42% of the total per ticket cost was service charges (possibly even more than that). Then, what do you get inside? You find yourself experiencing a show, surrounded by people who are there almost as some kind of status symbol or fashion statement. They could afford tickets, they were able to get tickets to “the hottest show” that night – they exuded superiority. It didn’t feel like it was about the music; it felt like it was about ego. Not everyone embodied this attitude, of course, but plenty did.
In my opinion, music should be accessible, democratic, accepting, and connecting. What I found disheartening about that show is that, for the most part, it was the opposite of all those things. The live music business (artists included) let their egos take the wheel because, for a moment, live music was the cash-positive side of the music business. In an attempt to exploit that momentum, they lost sight of the most important thing — the experience.
At the point you lose my friends and me – people who have been seeing live music (sometimes multiple shows per night), every night of the week, for more than a decade, you should consider examining your business. We are the “super fans,” the ones who will travel around the world to see a great show, and if you’re not engaging us, how do you expect to engage the “casual fan”?
At about the same time I became disillusioned with the experience of live music, my camera (which previously allowed me to capture exceptional quality videos) broke. So, for the past several months, I’ve been experiencing live music without concern about capturing the experience for those who couldn’t be there. Instead, I was more grounded in the experience, with the people who could be there. Ironically, my inability to document the experience greatly supported my resurfacing to document the experience. Which is where I am now, after they tore down The Wall.
When Roger Waters announced he’d be touring The Wall, it made the top of my list of “shows to see”. Then, there was that incident of defacing the Elliott Smith memorial tribute wall in Silverlake to promote Roger Waters: The Wall. Once I heard that, I decided not to attend the show. I do not believe you need to compromise the art or memorial of another in order to promote your own. Nor do I believe you should record a shitty cover song, for the same reasons (but that’s a topic for another day). Waters later apologized, by the way.
Monday came around and my Twitter stream was full of accolades about The Wall. I had plans Monday night and would not have been able to attend the show anyway. Tuesday rolled around – same thing. Wednesday morning I was kicking myself for missing this show. Based on what everybody was saying, this was a fully immersive live music experience like the ones I’d been missing (especially since Nine Inch Nails stopped touring and Radiohead had been quiet).
Wednesday night I had dinner with a friend of mine who is also a manager at Redlight Management. He’s been seeing live music for decades and, like me, has traveled around the world for music. “Roger Waters The Wall is the best show I’ve ever seen! Not just a music show – a real SHOW!” he exclaimed. . . Shit.
“I can’t believe I missed it!!” I replied, defeated.
“He’s playing again Sunday and tickets are available,” my friend informed me. That’s all it took. I resolved to go to the show Sunday, no matter what.
Saturday I saw my friend, Deborah. If there is a handful of people who have been to more live shows than I, Deborah is one of them. “You have to go see The Wall! It’s the best show I’ve seen. . . ”
Ok, ok, I get it, I’m going.
Sunday, following an amazing day of philosophizing, relaxing, and spending time with friends, I headed to Staples Center to experience this highly-anticipated show. Now, my expectations were set very high, so it would be easy to fall short, but that didn’t happen.
Experiencing The Wall
Everything – the inefficient system of getting people through metal detectors and into the show, the pre-show music, long lines for the men’s bathroom and no lines for the women’s room, amazing pastrami sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies, generations of families in attendance – was part of the experience. It felt less like a concert and more like a pilgrimage to a festival or any shared experience with a heightened level of consciousness among everyone in attendance. People knew they were in for something special.
The show began, and as the band played “The Wall” front to back (because that’s how it was with vinyl), a wall was literally built in front of the audience. Bricks were added with intention, one by one, and then images were projected on The Wall. At one point, you could almost feel the dirty breeze of the train rushing by. There was a plane crash. There were larger-than-life puppets that danced and hovered over the crowd. An intricate story was told and no matter where you were sitting, you were enveloped in the experience.
The experience was expansive, the vibe unifying and community-building. There was a set break between “side A” and “side B,” during which we were invited into the ABC corporate box seats. The “walls” of exclusivity were truly torn down and we watched a good portion of the second set from this upgraded vantage point.
Was Roger Waters: The Wall an expensive ticket? Yes. Was the experience worth it? Yes.
Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend is back (with a new camera).