The Band Famous
They are TBF. They made the band famous. When they say we made "the band famous", they mean that literally. They are the first band in the world to self-produce & self-release an entire album of improvised material via an app they programmed, deployed, and maintained themselves. We have conducted an interview with them.
Are you the first software developers releasing your music via an app?
Yes, to our knowledge and research, and according to general consensus and popular belief.
We are the first band to have all three founding members – Norell, Zander, and Terry – sharing web and application development skills in common, among other artistic interests and hobbies.
We may also be the first band with a renowned artist and body painter as one of the founding members, being Zander aka Jacob Alexander Figueroa.
We - at first meeting, on July 26th, 2013 - did an improvised jam session that, unbeknownst to Zander and I during the process, was simultaneously live streamed on the Internet. So to our knowledge we are also the first band to have filmed our own birth. It was a hilarious surprise that was revealed at the conclusion of our spontaneous jam session.
That glorious day marked the birth of, and the making of the band famous.
So, you could say we are a band of many firsts; the band famous just sort of manifested and came to be. Zander and I were reuniting with a dear friend, who invited us to meet his good friend, Terry. The man behind the man behind the machine is who brought us all together.
As we later found out, Terry was actually a member in the audience for the X Fashion Show Zander and I produced in Minneapolis of 2011, back when I was only a solo artist dreaming of making music professionally, singing a cappella on stage, debuting my very first original song, “Adaptation”, along with a couple of songs in tribute to Amy Winehouse, who had passed around the time. Zander and I had met under the most artistic of terms, with him being his rock star body painter self, and me modeling as one of his many human canvases during an art exhibition titled “High Seas Heaven”. I was transformed into a mermaid that night, one of my childhood dreams; and we have worked alongside each other ever since, dating as far back as that first night working together in August of 2010.
It wasn’t until July of 2013 that Zander, Terry, and I would all officially meet, share good conversation, good food, and perhaps the best of all, good music. Little could we predict how magical of chemistry we would have, we just jammed and developed, inspired by our synergy and love for creating.
How challenging was it to self-produce and self-release an entire album? What work was involved?
Norell: It was the good kind of challenge, you know? By creating improvised material, you really go in with little expectations, because you can’t possibly know what to expect, except that you are about to have a very creative, expressionistic experience. When the outcome of that can be something that you actually enjoy listening to after – that is a great reward. I imagine it’s what riding a rainbow must feel like.
Terry: The studio powertool is the mixing board. That’s where 24 channels are committed to 8 busses, or tracks. Typically track 1 is the Simmons brain in mono, on 2 the Moog monosynth is the bass. Keyboards are submixed to stereo each with it’s own effects printed to tape. The lead vocal gets it’s own dry track and the harmonizer takes two more tracks. The last track will be a miked instrument or noise generator. Mixdown is done on a smaller board. I need meters and faders and knobs. The computer is only used for editing the master. This recording method lets the moment of inspiration be fully produced as it happens. Editing overdubs in order to create perfection is just more clicking than I can take. The mouse is not a musical instrument!
Zander: A lot of times I spent time listening, other times I hummed what I would want to hear with what I was hearing in that moment, and then making a decision to feel that out on an organ, a guitar, or whatever instrument happened to be close by.
We would start with the tempo usually, and start building some elements of sound, to which I would pair various assortments of lyrics and compositions I had developed or began developing.
Choosing which songs would make the cut for the album was no easy task. We have many “B-tracks” that didn’t make the cut, some of which we’ve released for free streaming on our website.
The production and release of the The Band Famous apps were very challenging and tedious, but it is a liberating and rewarding experience overall.
Prior to meeting Terry, Zander and I had been developing several prototype apps without any official name, but all with the same concepts growing into what would become the TBF app. The Band Famous was deployed first to the iPhone App Store in May of 2014. We celebrated our app release party on Friday the 13th, June 13th, 2014, performing several of the songs from Last Words in the Annex Room at historic Gay 90s venue in downtown Minneapolis. It would take us about another year to finish making the app available cross-platform for Android, the process of which we would liken to translating German to French.
We adapted and applied our programming knowledge with the aid of schooling, but were also self-taught along the way with research and trial and error. It was meticulous and incredibly challenging at times, but so worth it. We attempted crowd funding with Kickstarter in 2014 to expedite the process of finishing our development of “The Band Famous” for Android. Funds would also help us make a professional-grade high-definition music video, and funnel into the completion of our 2nd album Awakening, a tribute album. We had many obstacles and adversities arise in the midst of our campaign and were unable to meet our funding goal as a result, but at least we can say we tried. Even better that we can say that despite trying and failing, we still succeeded.
We succeeded in making the band famous available cross-platform for iOS and Android as we set out to do, as well as producing a high-definition music video, which was an entirely DIY production from start to finish.
“Promises” was cast, directed, edited, and produced entirely by Zander and I. We filmed with our Sony a7, and did post production in Adobe Premiere Pro. We have almost finished our 2nd album, but we still have a bit of work to do, as we haven’t accepted any record deals yet, so we are still doing all of the work ourselves.
We wanted a way to make our music accessible, so we always knew we would make our app free to begin with. The reach you have with the app market is exponential. We want to give everyone a chance to hear our music, watch us grow, and give us feedback, sharing perspectives along the way. By making our app free, people may download and enjoy our album, art, and media in our own virtual venue. By self-producing and self-releasing our entire album as an interactive app, we give our fans and friends the ability and option to help make the band famous. All one must do is “write a review”. With every review on the iPhone App Store and the Android Google Play Store, our fans and friends are making “The Band Famous”, too, because we check the reviews often, as our audience will help shape the future of TBF!
Our debut album Last Words is what we call a “smart album” because it lives on your smartphone and gives our audience our music offline. No data or wifi is required to listen to our songs once you download the app. This was imperative to us, with data being limited for some, and with others having poor service with their phone plan. We trademarked our musical and artistic performance, our “in-app concerts” and the TBF platform. We beat Spotify, Facebook, and other heavy-hitters in doing so. In a way we feel we, as underdogs, have stuck it to the man, and all for the love of music and art and apps.
What kind of music does your first album belongs to? Which genre?
We all worked on Last Words together over several sessions of improvisation. Mixdowns and meltdowns ensued and we took what we felt were the diamonds of the rough. Some tracks went down the path of being more EDM [electronic dance music], such as “You Came To Me”, but still carrying and reflecting our love and influence of The Beatles; while a couple other tracks were more – as a guest guitarist, Edwin P. Scherr endearingly knick-named me after a pretty epic improvised jam – Miss “Björk Against the Machine” [Björk meets Rage Against The Machine, for anyone who has missed out on these two gems].
Some songs are more upbeat and fun, others, more haunting; some were more electronic, and others more raw and acoustic. The best way to describe our music and sounds of our first album is alternative, although we also get “progressive rock”, and according to one of our heroes, comedian Tom Green, “an industrial metal band? What is it more of a pop, pop industrial alternative band?”
What are your plans for the future? What about the next album?
Once we finish our 2nd album Awakening, we look forward to performing more shows. We have definitely been longing to get into performance mode, but we aren’t ready to do that until we feel we have finished phase 2 of production mode! We are also working on another DIY music video for another song off of Awakening. In a perfect world, we will be celebrating our 2nd album release with a show in the Twin Cities (where our band was birthed!) to kickoff our very own national tour. We are building a small team for booking shows in various states and our goal is to tour at least several major cities. Since we broke out onto the scene in such an unconventional way, showing the world a taste of our innovative side, this time around for our 2nd album release we are going to see what it’s like to do it the conventional way, with a commercial release via iTunes Apple Music, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, and at least everywhere we have already commercially released “Promises”, a single off of Awakening.
We are also looking forward to pushing out some exciting new updates for both of our apps! Time is a constraint, especially when we are but a couple of individuals wearing so many hats, it is most definitely a constant balancing act, but we tend to feel we get things done right because we are doing them ourselves.
Who are the key people in this unique project? What are the strengths of your team?
At this place and time, the key people in this unique project are Jacob Alexander Figueroa aka Zander and I, Norell.
Terry will always be a member of the band in the sense that we will never kick him out, but until teleportation is invented, or we can talk him into joining us in California, we remain limited in visits and jam sessions altogether.
Jacob Alexander Figueroa is producer, and I am co-producer. He is a violinist, and truly a multi-instrumentalist, and while I like to occasionally jam on guitar, flute, and synthesizers, my specialty and primary focus is in vocals and lyrics.
We run our own domain www.bandfamous.com, and maintain our websites, as well as both the native app for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch (“the band famous”) and “the band famous” for Android.
We also make our own music videos, and do most of our own photography. Although we do occasionally collaborate with others, we like owning and flexing our creative rights.
We are committed and diligent; we have unshakable faith in our dreams and ideals, for as long as we breathe air on this planet we call home, we will never stop creating. We are so grateful for our fans and friends along with us for the journey!Disclaimer: "Promises" is Rated R, and may be considered NSFW.
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