Ben Lovett Spotlight

From Musical Scores To Debut Album

Ben Lovett Spotlight

I first starting recording bands, giving people the impression I was an engineer, simply because I’d spent my college tuition on recording equipment. ~Lovett

Ben Lovett, no not the guy from Mumford & Sons, but the one famous for composing musical scores for films, has finally released his debut album called 'Highway Collection' (available now on iTunes). The album also includes a series of musical hook ups from bands like The Avett Brothers, The Mars Volta, and Cursive to Spiritualized and The Sonos Quartet.

Lovett's phenomenal debut album is like a road trip...a diary of the adventures of the open road. Lovett describes it like this: " [I was] chasing these songs across the country...seeking out friends and musicians from one coast to the other to help pull them into focus. I wasn’t aware at first we were starting a band or making an album, it just happened along the way. I had nowhere to be and anywhere to go so I lived out of my car and drove wherever it went, and the only thing that seemed worth doing then was anything I hadn’t done before. I had never attempted making a record of my own songs so that’s what I attempted to do. Each song here is a different part of another life, and each time there was different group of people around to make it, some were lovers, some were strangers, but all were friends by the end of it. I’m not even sure I got the names of all the people who participated but I got most of them. Not one song was recorded all in one place, but most of it was found along the road somewhere between California and Florida with a few stops in between and at some point I would up back in Georgia and found the last piece I was looking for was right back where I started." 

'Highway Collection' is an eclectic offering that brings you on a musical journey that covers a lot of ground and a lot of musical styles. It solidifies Lovett's talent for songwriting and producing. With each listen I find something different every single time that catches my attention. And the songs? Well they stay with you for a long time.

Needless to say this album has been on repeat a lot on my iPod the last few weeks.

“Heartattack” is the second single and the music video shows us that the big day of required love can be a fun-loving rock party without all that over-the-top mushy stuff. It's a full-out foot-stomping dance party...just the way we like. (For those big on the random cameo appearances in videos, “Heartattack” features indie film actress Amy Seimetz, multi Grammy award-winning Country star Dierks Bentley and of course, the abominable snowman from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer).

Lovett’s first music video for “Eye Of The Storm” was an epic undertaking in that it took nearly a full year to produce...

You can follow Ben Lovett on Twitter @thebenlovett


2011 CWC Awards

The 2011 Recipients

2011 CWC Awards

On Monday, April 4, 2011 the CWC Annual Awards Gala Dinner will take place at the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel in Ottawa.

Canadian Women In Communications is a national, bilingual organization dedicated to the career advancement of women in the communications and technology sectors through strategic networking, targeted professional development and meaningful recognition.

Two local Ottawa women are recipients of the CWC Leadership Excellence Awards, in the Leader category. Janice McDonald, President, and Mary Jelley, Ottawa Regional Manager, Warner Music Canada.

Both Mary and Janice have been setting the Capital Region on fire for women in the communication sector there. They have organized programs for professionals, novices and the aspiring alike, helping to encourage mentoring, networking, and a commitment to ongoing education and career development.

Both are successful and seasoned business women, so they know what women need to progress professionally in the industry. They want to see more women in senior and decision-making positions in the many communications-related businesses and government offices in the Ottawa area. They’re making sure CWC is one of the places that’s helping them get there.

I had an opportunity to ask Janice McDonald about her involvement with CWC, social media and advice for upcoming graduates entering the Communication sector.

1. What is it about the CWC that you find so important?

CWC is a national organization that is dedicated to the advancement of women in the communications industry in canada. It is celebrating 20 years in this role and offers women networking opportunities, career advancement and meaningful recognition. I am personally dedicated to CWC because I think it is an outstanding organization and Stephanie Mackendrick is a great leader.

2. Why was it so important for you to revitalize the CWC in the Ottawa-Gatineau region?

I have been involved with CWC for over 5 years. I was Vice-Chair and stepped into the Chair role three years ago when Kath Thompson (former Music Director and Assistant Program Director for CKQB in Ottawa), who got me involved, moved to Calgary.

I recruited Mary Jelley from Warner Music to join and we built a strong team of leading industry professionals for our regional board. Convergence in the industry makes Ottawa-Gatineau even more important as a region with government, high tech and media presence all strongly represented in Ottawa.

I have just joined the Executive Committee and the National Board for CWC and I am excited with the opportunity to increase my participation in this organization.

3. Over the years the business of communications has changed dramatically, especially with the introduction of social media - how important is it for women entering the communications/business field to embrace social media and make it a part of their daily environment?

Social media as a whole continues to grow in importance and impact in business. Particularly for those in communications, it is very essential to be well versed in the various aspects of social media. CWC offers career advancement scholarships in areas like social media...another benefit of joining.

I was one of the lucky recipients of a scholarship in digital new media several years ago at the Banff New Media Institute with 20 other women from across the country. We got an inside scoop on the future from experts and it has been very helpful.

4. How important is the networking aspect between women in helping develop and further their careers?

Personally I find that networking can be very beneficial when you focus on relationships, developing them in person and online. Particularly if you take a collaborative in, "how can we help each other?". That is the best starting point.

5. For women graduating from college/university and entering the work environment and looking at the communications/business field - any pieces of advice on embarking in their careers?

For new graduates, my suggestion would be to get involved in your industry...volunteer...join CWC! It's a great way to meet different people in various positions in your industry. Volunteering also offers you the chance to expand your network, increase your skills, try new things and in my experience, is very rewarding!

6. Within your own industry that you work in - what has been the biggest change you've seen in the last five years?

A big change in communications and in business is the impact of the increased speed of information. The good news and bad news travels fast and you need to be ready. First by listening and monitoring, and then by having a plan for what you hear online. Customers, colleagues, stakeholders...everyone wants answers fast. The demand for information, the volume of information and speed by which we receive it...all of it puts additional pressure on those involved.


Alexx Calise

Spotlight On The Entertainment Columnist Turned Rocker Chick

Alexx Calise

You know when you come across one of those songs that makes you want to pick up a hair brush and start belting out the lyrics...all while imagining your singing on stage? Like total rock star moment?

Well that's 'Break Me' by Alexx Calise. It also reminds me of a certain somebody I may or may not have dated. But I digress.

I had a chance to hook up with Alexx in between some tour dates and we talked her about her music idols, days as an entertainment columnist and Chad Michael Murray.

You are obviously a rock chick at heart....growing up what music did you listen to (influences)?

Actually, I grew up listening to all kinds of music thanks to my mom and dad. Growing up, they'd play us a wide array of different music throughout the day on the stereo--everything from the Stones to Bela Fleck. As the years went on, I got more and more into music and took the initiative to educate myself even further about blues, jazz, rock and grunge.

As a kid, I'd say my biggest musical influences were silverchair, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Johnny Lang, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson. I know it sounds like a weird mixture of genres, but then again, they say variety is the spice of life.

What is about writing/performing that turns you on and makes you so passionate about music?

Honestly, I don't know exactly what it is, but I definitely feel it every time I'm on stage and whenever I get into that "zone" when I'm writing a song. Those feelings are unlike anything I've ever experienced, and so incredibly special.

Music has always been a means of facilitating my writing, and I mean that in the best possible way. It gives me the chance to speak (I'm naturally very quiet and shy), because I don't always know what to say outside of a song.

You were featured in the book 'How To Succeed As A Female Guitarist' (Vivian Clement) the mom's out there who have daughters who have that dream of releasing their inner rock star...any words of advice for them about entering the world of music? 

Firstly, I'd say that you absolutely NEED to be in it for the love of music. The way that the music world is portrayed on TV isn't at all what it's like in actuality. It's a long, hard road, the money isn't always there (just look at how much illegal downloading goes on for example--there aren't many ways of making money in music aside from that other than touring and licensing, which are equally hard to break into), and no one is going to care about your career as much as you do. It's a game of chance, so take the journey only if at the end of the day you're doing it purely for yourself.

Secondly, practice, practice, practice. If you want to have a long, sustainable career in music, you need to constantly and consistently hone your craft. You have to be ready for that call, be it an audition, or a last minute gig or appearance. Take pride in yourself and everything you do, and always be the best musician you can be.

Thirdly, develop a thick skin. This is a necessity. There is so much rejection in this business, so you need to get used to hearing "no". This is not a reflection of you as a person or you as an artist. You may just not be what someone is looking for at the time, or they may just not know what to do with you. You need to use that negativity or rejection as fuel. Write a song about it, practice extra hard, do whatever you have to do to not let it affect you or make you fall apart.

What female musicians do you look up to?

While my musician idols are primarily male, I am a big fan of Beth Hart. She's a supremely talented (though underrated) vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with an amazing, gritty voice and heart wrenching lyrics. I haven't seen anyone perform with that much passion and intensity in a very long time.

I also really love Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins.

Anyone out there you'd like to collaborate with?

I'd love to work with a pretty vast array of people. I'm a huge fan of silverchair, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers, Trent Reznor, Jack White, Justin Timberlake...the list is endless. There are so many talented people out there who I really admire and would be absolutely jazzed to work with for their originality, production skills, lyric writing...

Thankfully, I've had the privilege of working with 2 of my favorite musicians already, including Luigie Gonzalez and Dennis Morehouse, so I already feel pretty damn lucky.

Love the track 'Break Me'...the minute I heard it, I instantly thought of an ex-boyfriend from back in the day. What is the song about for you?

Well, you hit the nail on the head. "Break Me" is about a toxic relationship I had with someone a few years ago. However, it's a triumphant song that illustrates the importance of standing up for yourself and being a strong person in an otherwise unstable situation.

I'm not bitter though, despite what you may take away from the song. I write songs as a catharsis; I'm not harboring all kinds of bad energy toward anyone or anything. I just need to get it all down so I don't become a bitter, miserable person.

How into the social media are you in using it as a tool to promote your music (FB, Twitter, YouTube MySpace etc)?

I'm into Facebook because it's simple to use and more direct than some of the other social networking sites. I also like all the apps it has for bands, like Demand It and Reverb Nation. It helps you keep track of all your fans and shows. I'm a bit of an addict though, I'll admit. No matter how silly my posts may be, I always have to check up and see who responded to them. It's like a nervous tick.

You used to work as an entertainment columnist...and now the tables have turned and people are writing columns/blogs about you....does it still seem surreal at times that you are the subject being written about?

Yes, definitely. Alternatively, I now know how it feels to be ripped to shreds, haha! I did it to several poor artists myself when I was a columnist, so I guess you can say I got a taste of my own medicine.

For the most part though, all kidding aside, a lot of the writers who have done features on me in the past have been awesome, and have kept in touch throughout the years. I feel incredibly lucky and honored that people find me interesting enough to write about. Little do they know I'm a complete hermit and a huge dork, haha!

What's the weirdest rumour you've heard about yourself?

I wouldn't say it's weird necessarily, but everyone seems to think I was born in Florida. While I lived in Florida most of my life, I was actually born in Staten Island, NY. Just thought I'd clear that up for everybody. :)

You are ridiculously busy...the music aside you've also appeared in books, TV ads, documentaries, DVD series and your work with the charity P.A.C.E...well let's just say it leaves little time for just relaxing and doing nothing but let's say you did have a free 24 hours to yourself, what would be your ideal blissful day?

Well, I've come to realize over the years that completely relaxing is pretty much out of the question in that I'm always a ball of nerves and a complete workaholic, but ideally, sleeping in, writing some music, and catching a movie would be a pretty blissful day for me.

Your track 'Morning Pill' was featured in a One Tree Hill promo - so I have to ask would you rather...James Lafferty (Nathan Scott), Antwon Tanner (Skills), Lee Norris (Mouth McFadden) or Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis)?

Actually, none. Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) is the one that did it for me while he was on the show. Purely for superficial reasons though, haha. And yes, he is that good looking in person. I can attest to this as I jogged next to him one day at LA Fitness (he made me look like crap by the way--he ran about 5 miles more than I did without breaking a sweat). :)

Your top must have beauty products?

My MAC Studiofix Foundation, my MAC Pro Longwear lipstick in Lasting Lust, any old black eye pencil, and my Dermologica face mask. That sounds snooty, doesn't it? Haha!

When you hit the road for gigs...what three things can't you leave home without?

My computer, a good book, and my iPod. If you don't have at least one of those, then have fun counting cows and out of state license plates. :)

Favourite curse word?

Bad as it sounds (and for everyone out there, I don't condone these words), I'd have to say the "s" and "f" words because they are multifarious, and can be used as nouns, verbs or adjectives.

What's up next for you?

I'll be doing a re-release of my album, "In Avanti" (which will also include a new song and be made available at all major online retailers), I'll be doing some West Coast touring with my band, and I'll soon be attending the LA premier for the movie, "LA, I Hate You," which features my new song, "Release Me".

You can find out more about Alexx Calise by checking out her website.