Once upon a time, there was a writer who spent far too much time at work, spending a bit of his other time sleeping. Yes, me. That writer had the good fortune of having an interview with Hello, the Future about her new album, Giant Robot Album. It’s her first album featuring a full band (The Long Holidays) accompanying her music, and it sounds fantastic.
There are probably a dozen clever, snarky ways to lead into this interview, but I honestly feel like Blue (Nicole Dieker) kicked things off in a way far more entertaining than my humor can convey. As one final note before we launch into the interview: make sure you click the link, check out the music, and then buy the CD because it is brilliant. It’s especially enjoyable if you’d gotten to hear these songs before as it provides a chance to enjoy them with additional music. Really, I can’t do them justice without you having heard them. I should also point out that $8 is an absolute steal. Anyway, onto the interview!
[7/25/2013 11:32:17 PM] Nicole Dieker: Holla!
[7/25/2013 11:33:56 PM] Nicole Dieker: Yo!
[7/25/2013 11:34:03 PM] Nicole Dieker: Ask me anything!
[7/25/2013 11:34:06 PM] Phil Gorski: Hey! Thanks for taking the time to talk a bit about Giant Robot Album.
[7/25/2013 11:34:07 PM] Nicole Dieker: let’s text this!
[7/25/2013 11:34:09 PM] Nicole Dieker: You are very welcome!
[7/25/2013 11:34:14 PM] Nicole Dieker: always happy to talk about GRA.
[7/25/2013 11:34:38 PM] Phil Gorski: As you should be. It is, at the risk of starting things off full of references, indeed a triumph.
[7/25/2013 11:34:52 PM] Nicole Dieker: And you’re taking notes, so huge success.
[7/25/2013 11:36:36 PM] Phil Gorski: Yes. No cake, though. So, down to srs interview bsns. You’d had several albums out before GRA, but this was your first work in a studio, yes? What all lead up to GRA for you?
[7/25/2013 11:37:36 PM] Nicole Dieker: GRA is sort of my first work in a recording studio, yes. Sidekick and Other Songs was recorded in Neil Fein’s home studio, which is a professional recording space, but GRA was recorded in a full-fledged Los Angeles music recording studio.
[7/25/2013 11:38:49 PM] Nicole Dieker: What led up to GRA? I wanted to record some true-story songs, and I wanted to record with a band. I had been planning GRA for almost two years, actually; when I started planning I assumed it would just be me and my guitar, but by the time I was ready to record I knew I was ready to see what happened when I added other instruments.
[7/25/2013 11:39:04 PM] Nicole Dieker: As a singer-songwriter it’s too easy to decide to do everything yourself. I knew that I would improve by working with a band.
[7/25/2013 11:41:02 PM] Phil Gorski: And how was the experience of working with a band on the album, outside of working on it with just your guitar? Did it lead to the sort of end-results you were expecting?
[7/25/2013 11:41:38 PM] Phil Gorski: I ask this as someone familiar with your convention performances, mind you (it was brilliant hearing Giant Robot Song and others with a full band, however).
[7/25/2013 11:41:42 PM] Nicole Dieker: I didn’t go in with any specific end-result besides “I sure hope this sounds awesome!” I knew the band I was working with and trusted they would do some cool things with the arrangements, and they did all that and more.
[7/25/2013 11:42:19 PM] Nicole Dieker: Working with a band was great because it allowed all of us to experiment with multiple perspectives. We had a rule: you have to try every idea once.
[7/25/2013 11:42:35 PM] Nicole Dieker: So we would try a bunch of different ideas, and often the best one would be instantly obvious to the full group, so that’s the one we chose.
[7/25/2013 11:43:43 PM] Phil Gorski: Sounds like a really strong group dynamic, then. In light of more recent developments with your music, and perhaps this is a bit premature to ask, but can fans of Hello, The Future expect more of your work to feature collaborations with this, and perhaps other, bands?
[7/25/2013 11:44:33 PM] Nicole Dieker: I doubt I will be collaborating much more with The Long Holidays because they are Los Angeles-based and I will be moving to Seattle in August. However, there are many nerd bands in Seattle and I look forward to getting to know them. With any luck, collaborations will result!
[7/25/2013 11:46:44 PM] Phil Gorski: Excellent. I wish you the best of luck in that regard. Back to the songs on GRA; you chose ones that tie in with real-life experiences. Were there particular songs you chose over others, or was the final tracklist an easy choice to make?
[7/25/2013 11:47:39 PM] Nicole Dieker: I had the track list nearly completely set two years ago. I ended up adding three songs and removing two.
[7/25/2013 11:48:34 PM] Nicole Dieker: When I started, I didn’t specifically think of it as a “true story album,” but as I chose the bulk of the songs, I noticed that they had similar themes – all based on true experiences, instead of “I love Firefly, isn’t it great” – so I specifically shaped the album in that direction.
[7/25/2013 11:50:57 PM] Phil Gorski: So can fans of your work expect more music along the lines of Giant Robot Album, with stories harkening back to life experiences, more topical songs (I hestitate to say fandom music, but I imagine that could be a label as well), a mix of both…? What direction do you see your music going from here?
[7/25/2013 11:51:28 PM] Nicole Dieker: If I like it, I’ll write a song about it. That’s about all I can guarantee. 🙂
[7/25/2013 11:51:42 PM] Nicole Dieker: Or if it’s on my mind.
[7/25/2013 11:51:51 PM] Nicole Dieker: Or if you pay me to write it. I am not above getting paid for my work!
[7/25/2013 11:52:26 PM] Phil Gorski: Understandable enough. Passion makes for good art, but it does not amount to much in the way of food I’m afraid. So long as you continue to make music.
[7/25/2013 11:53:01 PM] Phil Gorski: Since we do have a couple moments, would you mind talking about more recent events, such as your going over the numbers of working in the music industry?
[7/25/2013 11:53:13 PM] Nicole Dieker: I love numbers!
[7/25/2013 11:53:20 PM] Nicole Dieker: As readers of my Tumblr know, I’ve been tracking what I earn every week.
[7/25/2013 11:53:42 PM] Nicole Dieker: I started doing this because I wanted to be very transparent about how much money could be made by a small- to mid-level performing musician.
[7/25/2013 11:54:13 PM] Nicole Dieker: As you also know, it’s either more or less money than you might expect, depending on your opinions of how much musicians make!
[7/25/2013 11:55:18 PM] Nicole Dieker: I specifically wrote yesterday about how the cost of any individual album or CD is nearly eaten completely by the cut of the profits that go out to Bandcamp, Paypal, etc. as well as the cost of production.
[7/25/2013 11:55:41 PM] Nicole Dieker: Most people like to pay around $8-10 for a CD. Few people are going to go to a convention and pay $20.
[7/25/2013 11:55:52 PM] Nicole Dieker: Some musicians are selling for $5 to try to convince people to buy.
[7/25/2013 11:56:01 PM] Nicole Dieker: All of this means you’re making very, very little profit.
[7/25/2013 11:56:24 PM] Nicole Dieker: You get large amounts of money at once (I can make $1,000 in a weekend at a convention) but all of that money gets funneled right back into your expenses.
[7/25/2013 11:56:31 PM] Nicole Dieker: Final question time!
[7/25/2013 11:57:18 PM] Phil Gorski: Any advice, given your more recent dealings with numbers and the music industry, for aspiring musicians? Artistis, in general?
[7/25/2013 11:57:37 PM] Nicole Dieker: If you are an aspiring musician or an aspiring artist:
[7/25/2013 11:57:40 PM] Nicole Dieker: Make things and share them.
[7/25/2013 11:57:48 PM] Nicole Dieker: Then make more things and share them.
[7/25/2013 11:57:58 PM] Nicole Dieker: If you are aspiring to make a career out of said art:
[7/25/2013 11:58:21 PM] Nicole Dieker: Understand that a lot of people who have artistic careers also do some other kind of work. That doesn’t mean they’re not artists.
[7/25/2013 11:59:13 PM] Nicole Dieker: Yes, take that risk and quit your job IF you have a plan. But make sure you have a plan. Make sure you’re already earning enough money with your art to pay the rent. Make sure you know when you’re throwing good money after bad.
[7/25/2013 11:59:43 PM] Nicole Dieker: There is an immense amount of work you can get done even if you have another job or other responsibilities.
[12:00:13 AM] Nicole Dieker: This is the standard sort of artistic advice. I believe everyone else has already said it, and better. 🙂
[12:00:35 AM] Nicole Dieker: Hey, gtg but THANK YOU.
[12:00:42 AM] Nicole Dieker: Let me know when the final interview is up and I’ll repost!
[12:01:23 AM] Phil Gorski: Absolutely. Thanks again for your time, and for making a brilliant album.
[12:01:29 AM] Nicole Dieker: Rock on, sir.
So there you have it. Giant Robot Album is available, it’s $8, and if you are indeed too lazy to scroll back up and click the link to buy GRA you can click here and go do so without over-exerting yourself.