Copyright © 2009 by Neil C. Obremski. These are exclusive interviews conducted by Stephanie Schoppert for FanSiter in 2009. MP3 files belong to individual copyright owners and used with their permission; they may be downloaded and played but not redistributed.
Andrew Belle is great new talent hitting the stage and his beautiful lyrics and melodies have a strong impact on anyone who hears them. More than just a pretty face this singer hopes to make the world a better place through his music, and all we can say is that he is well on his way.
How/when did you get into music?
Well I've been playing in and out of bands throughout high school and college, but it wasn't until I graduated a few years ago that I decided I wanted to go the route of a solo artist/singer songwriter. I started writing songs on an acoustic guitar and began playing anywhere and everywhere they would let me throughout the Chicagoland area. Bars, restaurants, coffeeshops, bookstores…anywhere.
Who are your biggest influences?
Well influences come and go, but I guess some stay longer than others. Ive always loved Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows, and early on I was really influenced by the song writing style of Jesse Lacey of Brand New and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. Lately, for my most recent record I was really influenced by artists like Greg Laswell, Landon Pigg, and Coldplay.
If you had to pick, which of your songs is your favorite and why?
From my ep, my favorite song is probably I'll be your Breeze because it came out EXACTLY how I had heard it in my head 1 year earlier when I wrote it on my guitar in my bedroom. It was a great feeling to capture exactly what I was going for (which is actually a pretty hard thing to do sometimes)
You recently released your first EP, how do you feel it is being received?
I think its going really well. We released it exactly 1 year ago and since then we've had several television and film placements. Initially my goal, was to sell all of my initial print order of 1000 cds before the year was up and we completed that goal a while ago…
What do you feel is the strongest aspect of the EP? What do you think makes it stand out?
Probably that first track, I'll be your Breeze. I'm so glad we have that as the 1st song because it grabs your attention and sets the tone for the rest of the record.
Are you working on a full album now? What can be expected from it?
The full album The Ladder is being mixed and mastered right now. I am so very happy with it. It takes where we started with the EP and takes it to the next level. My song writing has developed more and I think my vocal ability has strengthened and improved as well. And from a creative/production standpoint, I think it is something really special.
We heard that you are going to be touring with Ten Out of Tenn this fall, are you excited?
Ya know, I saw the TOT tour last summer when they came through Chicago. I had never really heard of any of the artists and I was so blown away by how unbelievably talented they all were. All I kept thinking was 'man, THIS is something I would LOVE to be a part of someday'. And literally like 12 months later, here I am, gearing up to head out on tour with them. I am SOOO excited!!
What is the craziest thing you've done while on tour?
Eh, nothing too crazy, but a few weeks ago we had a show in Nashville on a Monday night and had to be in Chicago for a daytime MTV battle of the bands type contest at 8am the next morning. We drove all night and got ZERO sleep before we had to play in front of 2000 people. I was so dead tired I had to wear sunglasses the whole time to hide my swollen and red eyes ha. But we ended up winning the contest so it was worth it!
When not performing what do you like to do?
Hanging out with family and friends just like anyone else I guess. I LOVE football season, so I'll watch as much football as I can to make up for the games I miss when im traveling. I also really love cooking or finding new restaurants.
What was it like growing up?
It was great. Pretty normal life…suburbs, sports, school, awkward encounters w/ the opposite sex haha.
Who is your biggest inspiration to succeed?
My family. I really want to make them proud in my accomplishments and achievements as I progress into the different stages of my career.
As an emerging artist what do you think about file sharing and musicians giving away music free online?
I think its great. It was hard for me at first to bite the bullet and give my music away because you work so hard on something and spend some much time and money…its hard to just be like 'ok, here ya go' but once you do, you realize the long term benefits are so much rewarding than any limited short term gains could ever be.
What is your favorite television show? Are there any that you like to follow every week?
LOST for sure. Gosh that show is just the epitome of everything a tv show should be. The acting, the writing, the story… it's literally perfect.
We know you can sing and play guitar, any other talents we should be aware of?
I can jump abnormally high, haha. I used to rebound and block shots like it was my job when I played basketball in high school. I loved it!
What movie have you seen enough times that you probably know all the words?
Either Kurt Russell's Big Trouble in Little China or Jack Nicholson's As Good As It Gets…2 very different movies but I could recite those things in my sleep.
Give us a quote, by you or anyone else, just something that tends to stick in your head.
"do what makes you happy and the rest will fall into place…" -my grandfather
Scot Sax is well acquainted with the music biz though at times it may consider him a stranger. Throughout his life in music he has been about as diverse as you can get. From being the lead singer for the rock band Wanderlust to co-writing the Grammy award winning song "Like We Never Loved at All" sung by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw he has been around the block. Currently you will find him writing and playing alongside Sharon Little while working on his own solo career.
Stephanie Schoppert: So I thought we would start with Wanderlust and then sort of move forward from there. So the first thing with Wunderlust is where did the name come from?
Scot Sax: Wanderlust came from the Paul McCartney song of the same name. I'm a pretty big Paul McCartney fan and his album Tug of War has a song on there called Wanderlust. It just popped into my head and I thought it was just a perfect band name and there were no other bands with that name. Since then a couple of bands have stolen it but we were at least among the very first to have that name. It's a German word that means "longing of travel" and that's what we wanted to do. We were a band from Philadelphia and we really wanted to split town and take some chances so the name fit, it was simple and that was it.
Stephanie: One of your songs with Wanderlust was entitled "I Walked" can you tell me a little bit more about it?
Scot: The one thing musically I remember was that a lot of my songs were kind of like sweet and melodic, which in '94 it was still like the Nirvana wannabe fans were sort of the biggest fans in radio and a lot of grunge stuff was still kinda going on. So I was just getting really frustrated and wondering how I could really get somewhere with my music without really changing it, but I wanted to kinda prove that I could rock out and have like an edgier sound to it but still have like the pop part of it. So I tried to write a kind of growly type riff because I was trying to figure out how my music would fit in the aftermath of grunge and my music wasn't anything like that. So musically that's where that song came from. But lyrically, I think I remember my brother telling me that when things got really intense he would just go out at night and take a walk and that just was in my head somewhere. The only other key to that song was one of my favorite movies was Repo Man with Emilo Estevez and there's a scene where he's walking in the middle of the night and just shouting out all the stuff that is bothering him and it's a really intense scene. And that sort of all must have been rolling around in my head and that song came out.
Stephanie: That's really cool.
Scot: Yeah I remember it felt really good. I always had a hard time writing songs for my voice and that was the first time that I felt really good singing it and that it worked for my voice.
Stephanie: So is that why you decided to focus on songwriting for awhile?
Scot: Well from that point I was doing the band thing and the rockstar thing. But I decided to write with a lot of different people because I just kept writing songs that maybe were not right for my voice but somebody else singing them sounded great. I thought it was a detriment to only write for myself because I could only sing certain types of songs. But yeah I enjoy getting to write songs how I want to write them and then having somebody else sing them. I think anybody that can write consistently then that is a gift and that it would not be right only write for myself and not share, because there are a lot of good singers out there that could use some songs. It's been good for me. I'm glad I did that eventually.
Stephanie: Which of your musical endeavors have been your favorite or the most fruitful I should say. You've got a couple of bands, your own solo career and songwriting, which do you prefer?
Scot: I don't know… The songwriting really is great the first two minutes after you a good song or a song you're happy with is the best part and then after that it's just a song that you've written. It's a very intense moment but it doesn't really last that long. It's great to have the song once you have it but it's really the day of that is the most exhilarating. So that's quick and it goes away. But I think any situation where I've been in a band and I can tour and there's enough support for me either through a record company or fans or whatever, and I can get on stage every night or every other night in front of a crowd is exhilarating. For me, the most exciting probably has been you know the early days of Wunderlust when we first got signed and we were on tour with Collective Soul and we were playing for about 3,000 people a night for two months and it was just amazing and hearing our song on the radio was amazing. Since then the only thing that has equaled that, topped that is I now write and perform with Sharon Little who is with CBS records and we toured last year with Robert Plant and Allison Krause and that I would have to say had definitely been the highlight of my life. Just meeting them, getting to know them, being in front of 10,000 people a night for two months was just unbelievable. So much fun.
Stephanie: I wanted to know a little bit about your new album that is coming out.
Scot: Oh yeah. It's called "Maybe Charlene Fusco Was Right." That was my third grade classmate and I was goofing around as I usually was and everybody knew I wanted to be a rockstar when I got older, but she thought I was funny and she said, with her mouth full of braces, "You should be a comedian" and then this past couple of years when I've been having difficulties in the music business sometimes…I was like you know what? Maybe Charlene Fusco was right and that seemed to fit perfectly with kind of the theme of the album which was about not growing up, growing up, refusing to grow up, refusing to acknowledge that I'm not growing up…all that stuff. So it's kinda like that. Stylistically some songs sound like my days with Wunderlust and some songs sound more like folk-y country-ish stuff. It's all different. You know when I make my own records, I don't really care about style, I just sorta do it, whatever fits the song. And I'm not like on any record label right now, I mean Sharon and I are on CBS but we made so that she's signed them and I'm not. If I was then I wouldn't be able to make this record. When I work with her we do all the stuff for the label but when I make my own stuff and there is nobody I have to answer to. Obviously a lot less people are going to hear it but at least the people that hear it are hearing it exactly the way I wanted it to be. It's really fun to do that and I'm glad that I am able to do it. I have my own studio at home and a bunch of instruments and I just sort of wrote the songs real fast and played them quickly and threw it all down. Started in January and I finished a couple months ago and now it's out. It's like a digital release, I didn't make any hard copy cds it's just like Amazon and iTunes.com. Like I'm not gigging enough on my own, I'm always performing with Sharon and I don't sell my cd's there, so I figured why even do that whole thing and all that stuff. People for the most part, who know about me, are going to buy it online.
Stephanie: So do you have a favorite song that you've written?
Scot: Like ever? That's a pretty good question. From the new album I really like Travel Agent a lot. It came out just like I wanted it to, which is not an easy task. Probably on the Wunderlust album Troubled Man has always been one of my favorites. I would say maybe that song, Troubled Man.
Stephanie: Now there is a pretty big gap between your solo albums, is there a reason for that?
Scot: When I did the first Scot Sax album, that was actually supposed to be a whole different kind of album and that was put out by Not Lame which is a pop label out in Colorado. I love them dearly, they have really helped me keep in touch with fans, keep the music flowing. But at the time I turned in a very introspective and intense record and I don't think it was pop-y enough for their tastes so they kinda said, do you have other stuff that is more Pop-y and I said I actually do, so I kinda peppered it in with that. So I did that and then after that I got signed to Curb Records with my band Feel, and that was a long process again, being with a label. I mean it took six months to negotiate that record deal, six months just for lawyers to negotiate the deal. It took two weeks to record the album and then we were on the road off and on for about a year and one of our songs called "Got Your Name on It" actually charted, so we had a little action here and there with a couple of songs. Then it took probably a year or two to get off the label and that's why it takes so long. And you can't release anything while you are on a label or they are going own it. You can't even play certain songs, like I also had a publishing deal with Curb Records, so whatever song they heard of mine they were going to own. Then Faith Hill and Tim McGraw recorded the song I wrote with John Rich and it was a great great experience. It was nice to be able to pay any bills I had, buy a house and become like an adult and that's what I did. And then I started playing with Sharon and then I just sorta like wrote this and I was like oh, well I've got my home studio and I'm not on a label so last year I did it's called While She was Working. I do like that album a lot. That has actually one of my favorite songs on there called "Maybe You're Lost" which has become a favorite among my fans it seems. But I like that song. But we're off to L.A. and I'm thinking while I'm out there I might bring my music to some folks and maybe I can do something on an Indie label that wants to release it.
Stephanie: So how did Feel come about?
Scot: Well I had like the Scot Sax solo album thing and then right about that time I had a song on the American Pie Soundtrack and then I went to the U.K. for that and then I came back and I just okay my life in a really weird place right now, I just had song in the movie, I'm being called bachelor number 1, I'm kinda losing the plot here I'm not sure what I'm doing. So I decided to put a band together, carefully and slowly with people I really wanted to play with, which is sorta what I did with Wunderlust. And we decided to play a few shows and one of the shows was booked for September 14th and this was in 2001. So we're getting ready to split L.A. and just go do some shows in New York and Philadelphia and 9/11 came and the whole world was upside down. And these shows that were just sorta to kick off a new band of mine became this really really intense experience, I mean genuinely intense experience obviously because of the times. But I really felt for the first time that why I write music and it all hit me so hard and especially playing in Grenwich Village in New York, four days after 9/11. And all these people that weren't, I mean some of them were fans and stuff but most of them were people that really needed to get out, stop watching the news, and go see a band. It was really really, I'll never forget that experience, it was a moment in time, everybody had a moment in time in their own way. And on the way back, we drove, we drove across country because all the planes were grounded, we decided to call the band Feel . Which sounds kinda sexy but it's really, this feels like something to us and just feeling the music again and that's kinda how that all started. And then we got the deal with Curb Records and I really really wanted that record to be great. I worked hard on the album, I wanted the music to be great, the words to be great and I'm really proud of it. And that kinda led to ultimately, after all is said and done, I gave it everything I had, we toured and had some success but knowing you could put that much into it and give it your best and it is still that difficult to break through to the masses or enough to really keep a career going. I was like wow I think maybe I'll do something else at this point. But that lasted for a good couple of years.
Stephanie: So you talk a lot about songwriting, do you ever get frustrated that most of the credit for songs goes to the artists and not to the writers?
Scot: I never realized it until…well you know what I never really experienced that too much, I mean I experience a little bit with Sharon now and we'll play a show and she'll have fans come up to her and say "Oh my god I love your songs and blah blah" and Sharon's really sweet and she always gives me credit where credit is due and all that, but for the most part they just figure who's ever singing it, they came up with what they're singing. So there are times after a show where I feel like, you know, unnoticed and it feels a little weird but I'm a big boy I can handle it. But the one time that kinda bothered me, somebody set me a clip of John Rich, the guy I wrote the Faith Hill/ Tim McGraw song with, it was a clip of him on the radio and he just referred to me as the guy that played piano on the demo. And I was like Wow, that's really really not cool because not only did I play all the instruments on the demo which is pretty much what Faith Hill and Tim McGraw's producer copped on the record. I played all the drum solos, I busted my ass on that demo, but I wrote a lot of that song. And I'm just happy that I did that and completely thrilled with the success of the song, I just…for a fellow songwriter to pull that, that was weird. I could see maybe like an ego artist just wanting to soak up the glory but I was like wow that's pretty cutthroat and he knows that's not true. John Rich is one of the most successful writers of all time, especially in country, but such a success but I was thinking he's got so many other accolades, throw a lesser known writer a bone you know? That was the one time it really kinda hurt. Other than that it's not too bad, for the most part I wind up singing the stuff I write, But it is interesting, I find myself doing that too, you know people who don't know music will figure Whitney Houston wrote "I'll Always Love You." I guess who cares as long as it's out there. You just have to have a thick skin as people always say in this business and as a writer, if you're calling yourself a writer then you're a behind the scenes guy. If you're a singer-songwriter then you're on the scene. You gotta decide what you are and be happy with that. So when I'm on a project and I'm just the writer then I have to not be the 14 year old kid that is trying to show off at the talent show and be mature enough to go, you're the writer and that's who you are. Like I've had a thing where the managers complain that they were mentioned enough in an interview with did. I was like You're the manager, who talks about the manager in an interview? It's the whole idea that they are behind the scenes making things happen, So I think it's important that everybody knows what their job is and if you want to be in the spotlight, you know be in the spotlight.
Stephanie: So you talk about writing with Sharon Little a lot. Has that influenced your music?
Scot: It just sort of pulls like a soulful side of my music out a lot more. My writing has changed a lot in that I sorta kept that, it kinda changed but I used to want to write songs like that but I never had an outlet for it. I grew up in Philadelphia and it's a very soulful town and as much as I'm a pop guy, the soulful thing is in my blood but I never sang soulfully enough to make it work. So when I started writing with Sharon the songs were coming out of me so quickly and so many, you know I just couldn't stop writing because it was a part of my songwriting that I never got a chance to do. And I've held by my whole life from even trying those kinda songs so every time we get together we come up with something that feels really fresh and it's affected my songwriting with her and other people. I have another artist that I kinda discovered named Jordon Banks and I think he's going to be a special dude. He's a really great soulful singer and I love writing with him. So when I'm not doing that and I go back to writing the stuff I usually do like on my newest album it just makes my pop-ier stuff that much pop-ier. So it's been a great influence writing more soulful stuff, stuff that's a little heavier a little more minor key.
Stephanie: So do you have anything planned for the future or do you just take things as they go?
Scot: Well like I said right now we're heading to L.A. we're doing this record with Don Was, he's a really big producer and it's just a complete thrill for us. He did like the last five Rolling Stones albums. To sit next to somebody like that and produce something that I've co-written is extremely exciting. And that's what's going on right now. And as far as strictly my own stuff, I dunno. Like I said I'm going to see while we're out in L.A. if there's any labels that into what I do and see if they wanna sorta help me along and get my music out there. I'd love to be able to get out there. My music with Sharon has been on a lot of TV shows, I would love to be able to get that for myself as well. So I'm gonna try it, so at least from where I'm going from it's a good spot to try and make that happen. So I'm just going to keep on moving forward and seeing what I pick up on the way.
Working Class Foodies
Working Class Foodies is a weekly webshow appearing on HungryNation.tv. This great series shows how to make fun and easy recipes for the bargain price of $8 (or less!) per person in New York. This show tells you how to take what's in season and available at the local market and turn it into great food that everyone will love!
Check out Episodes at WorkingClassFoodies.com
Stephanie Schoppert: How did WCF start?
Rebecca Lando: About 8 months ago, I approached my friend, Kathleen Grace, about producing a webseries that revolved around the idea of showing that local and seasonal food is affordable. At the time, Kathy was a freelance producer with Next New Networks. Originally, we planned to produce the show and have someone else host it, but it really felt like something we should be involved in. We shot a spec with the two of us in it, and then Kathy was hired full-time as the VP of Programming at Next New Networks, and we both kind of realized that the show would make the most sense if it were my brother, Max, and me. Max and I are both really passionate about eating locally and seasonally, and we've always worked best together in the kitchen. It was the most obvious choice all along, and I think the episodes prove that it was the best choice.
Stephanie: Who does what for the show?
Rebecca: I produce the show - set up 'guest cooks', like this week's (10/12) episode with Theo Peck, co-founder of TheFoodExperiments.com and a former chef at Blue Hill-Stone Barns (NY), Fore St (ME), and Hugo's (ME). Max and I come up with the concept for each episode together, and we write the blogs together. I edit the episodes with the help of my intern at Next New Networks, Brittany DeLillo, and the episodes are all shot by Kit Pennebaker, a really fantastic cinematographer. He's really the reason for the show's success; if he didn't make the food look amazing every time, I don't think people would keep watching!
Stephanie: Where do you get the ideas for the recipes?
Rebecca: The best place for inspiration is the farm stands at the Greenmarket. I've always loved going to the market with absolutely no idea what I'll get, and letting the market shop for me. We also use everything from blogs to newspaper articles to cookbooks and magazines to the menus at our favorite restaurants for inspiration. But we like to mix up our sources: In our next episode, airing on 10/19, we make a cake from an old family recipe; the episode after that, airing on 10/26, we'll make two recipes, one from Gourmet Magazine, and one from a favorite chef, Dan Barber of Blue Hill.
Stephanie: Where did you get the idea to make meals for under $8?
Rebecca: In New York City, at least, it's hard to dine out for under $8 a person, even for lunch, and that's just if you hit up the salad bar around the corner. We love restaurants that buy locally and cook seasonally, but most Americans can't afford the prices. There's so much good food being produced by small farmers all over the country, and it's ours - yours - for the taking. We want to help you find it, and just as importantly, show you how easy it is to cook at home. Frankly, a lot of the stuff we cook comes out to less than $5/person, but we wanted to keep the goal reasonable as much of the time as possible.
Stephanie: Do you really like everything you make?
Rebecca: So far, yes! Actually, we have a bit of a disaster recipe in an upcoming episode - it was a bad surprise and a serious disappointment, considering where the recipe came from. We're going to ask the fans to help us out, let us know what they think went wrong - and then I'm going to have to try it again to see if I can't make it come out better the 2nd time around.
Stephanie: How long does it normally take to put together an episode?
Rebecca: About 3-4 days, depending on how 'dense' an episode it is.
Stephanie: Any cooking mishaps?
Rebecca: Well, the aforementioned 'disaster recipe'. I feel awful calling it that, since I love the recipe's source. I'm actually kind of hoping the mishap turns out to be all my fault! That episode will air 10/26, by the way, for anyone curious.
Stephanie: Do you get all of your food from outdoor/farmerâ€™s markets?
Rebecca: As much as we can, yes. Things like flour and sugar, we obviously get from the grocery store, but we use local honey and local maple syrup. And obviously, my coffee's not exactly grown in New Jersey, but I love Gorilla Coffee, which is Fair Trade, encourages sustainable farming, and is roasted in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Stephanie: What is your favorite food?
Rebecca: Mussels! The way we made them on the show, steamed in Belgian beer, and served with a big, crusty hunk of bread or a pile of fries. But I'll eat them just about any way.
Stephanie: Have you always enjoyed cooking?
Stephanie: What is your advice for people just learning to cook?
Rebecca: You're in your kitchen, making your food. Cooking is a great way to pamper yourself. Don't sweat the recipe; unless you're baking, measurements don't have to be exact. Have fun, relax, and be creative. Add that extra clove of garlic; skip the black pepper if you hate it. And don't be afraid to use salt and fat - the two things that make every dish delicious.
Stephanie: What has been your favorite thing to cook so far?
Rebecca: The mussels, because they're my favorite food; the bratwursts with Theo Peck, because it was a huge honor to have him cook with us, and it was a recipe we might never have tried on our own; and the cake in next week's episode, because I really love baking.
Check out New Episodes every Monday!
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