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Jennifer Grassman

Recording Artist + Author + Mommy

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Behind The Scenes

And so, it begins …

After over two years of musical silence, we are finally gearing up to finish production on my next album. Continue reading “And so, it begins …”

I Don’t Have Fans, I Have a Listenership: The Complexities of an Artistic Demographic

Water color “Library Cat” by Craig Roffler. Click the image to read his blog.

I’ve never liked calling the people who love my music “fans.” That three-letter-word makes me think of those screaming hordes of ditsy girls who swooned over The Beatles. Fans buy stuff even if it’s crummy. Fans have crushes on celebrities they’ll probably never meet. Fans quote artists even if the quote is completely asinine. Fans get their butts autographed.

Niki Minaj has fans. Justin Beiber has fans. Even Grumpy Cat has fans. Fans are fanatics, and their fanaticism is often fleeting. My listeners are not fans. While very dedicated in a thoughtful and appreciative way, they hold me to a higher standard of artistic integrity, and I respect that.

When I was sixteen I used to dream about going on whirlwind tours performing in front of thousands of people at venues across the globe. Now that I’m “grown up,” I’d much rather sit at home with my cats, listening to Celtic music, and writing songs or reading a good book. I watch PBS Masterpiece shows, own a Kindle, occasionally scrapbook, and when my toddler wants a drink, she asks for, “Tea?”

My listeners are the same way. The majority of them blog regularly, love animals, sip wine, read books (if not write them), and know who I’m quoting when I say, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

Yes, my music does sound a bit like Tori Amos’, Vienna Teng’s, Loreena McKennitt’s, or Sarah McLachlan’s, but my listeners aren’t necessarily listeners of those artists too. In fact, they may listen to everything from Handel’s Messiah to Blind Guardian. Why? Because they’re not “fans” in the pop culture sense of the word. They are purveyors of interesting things. They are discerning art collectors of an assortment of items from printed literature to replica LOTR swords. They are self-educators hungry to experience and learn about new things. They want to know what beer from Holland tastes like, and how to eat with chopsticks. They like rainy days, rescuing stray cats, volunteering in artistic endeavors, and attending the Renaissance Fair and Comic Con in full costume.

They are often creators themselves.

And that, my friends, is what an artistic demographic looks like. It isn’t cookie-cutter. It isn’t an audience you can reach by promoting “radio-ready” songs on Clear Channel or plastering your logo on a cheap junior’s department clothing line. It’s something new. Something different. Something beautifully messy and complex … and I love it!

Once Upon A Time Gets Sci-Fi & Spooky!

Elowyn, 2 months old!

Waking up next to this beautiful baby girl is always the highlight of my day. If she’s not peacefully sleeping like a little angel, she’s kicking and giggling and smiling at me with wide blue eyes and rosy cheeks.

It’s been a while since my last blog so I thought I’d fill you in on Once Upon A Time album production progress.

Firstly, my good friend and producer, Michael Thompson of Ivory Tower Productions, has sent me a number of amazing tracks to review for the Once Upon A Time (Part 1) album!!! Each of the songs on the album are inspired by classic literature and poetry (plus a few very select classic movies).

I sincerely can’t wait for you to hear how amazing it all sounds. We’ve got …

  • Agatha, which you’ve probably heard on YouTube (there’s a live performance of it from a couple years back which I’ll embed below).
  • Crocus Garden, which was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and author PG Wodehouse and has a Gothic, For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite, feel to it.
  • Damsel in Distress was inspired by Casablanca and has a powerful angst reminiscent of Tori Amos’ Cornflake Girl days.
  • Icarus was inspired by Greek mythology and features oboe by my friend Elisa Halaand.
  • And don’t let the title fool you, because Silence Of The Lambs is actually inspired by The Book Of Revelation more so than the Thomas Harris horror novel (although it has some Hannibalesk ‘Easter eggs’ in it). It’s definitely one of the darkest songs on the album, and while it is technically about a serial killer (or killers), it’s probably not what you think (o;
  • Madman came out really beautifully and is absolutely a tearjerker. It’s more of an autobiographical song. In fact … well … I have some ideas for crowd sourced projects, but I’ll save that for later!
  • Out Of The Silent Planet is inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy and it has kind of a vintage sci-fi sound to it a-la David Bowie’s Major Tom.
  • Finally, Whittled came out absolutely amazing! It’s one of those songs I originally thought would just be piano and vocal, but then Mike worked his magic and turned it into a stirringly beautiful orchestral piece.

Overall, we’re taking the music in a really unusual new direction that I think you guys will love. We kind of got back to my roots (if I can say that after only 3 CDs) making this a more acoustically driven album. But this time we’re accentuating the drama with classical guitar, oboe, wine glasses (yes, wine glasses), and effects to create an eclectic Celtic/Industrial feel. It’s very unique and VERY theatrical.

Anyway, we’re adding some instrumentation and working on mixing the album now. Then we have to master it, and then … YOU WILL HEAR IT!!!

Hope you have an awesome weekend (o:

Jennifer

My Ingenious, Creative, & Slightly Nefarious Plot To Take Over The World!

“Siren Song” (2009) by one of my favorite artists, Clifford Bailey.

Here’s What We Know:

My music is most popular with people who love literature, art, theater, culture, attending posh events like house concerts and wine tastings, and giving patronage to charities such as museums, art galleries, and performing arts societies. They still buy physical albums and collect “special editions” of their favorite CDs, books, and films. Another random fact: They tend to love animals.

A second demographic my music tends to appeal to falls within the conservative and/or Christian crowd, and it’s made up of people who are looking for music that has a positive message (i.e. not saturated with sex, drugs, violence, and narcissism), yet isn’t cookie cutter “worship music” like you’d typically hear on mainstream Christian radio.

My music is artsy. And positive. And dark. But still positive. (You know what I’m trying to say.)

So. Here’s my ingenious, creative, and slightly nefarious plot to take over the world (and you’re totally invited to help out! I’m going to need a posse to make this happen). We shall …

Target #1: MUSIC VIDEOS: LISTENER MADE + CROWD SOURCED

  • Select a song or 2 for listeners, theatrical peeps, film gurus, and animators to make their own music videos and photo collages for. Viewers can vote. Figure out some sort of prize for the winner. Possibly a pet turtle named Bullet Bill. Scratch that. Maybe an interview in my Washington Times Communities column? Whatever the prize, the winner’s video will be deemed an “official” Jennifer Grassman music video and be featured everywhere I can feature it.
  • Make 1 or 2 crowd-sourced collage videos using submitted film snippets, photography, and other visual art from listeners.
  • Team up with Kaitlin Grassman of Penny Electric to shoot 2-5 more awesomeful music videos.

Target #2: DEVELOP A UNIQUE CONCERT EXPERIENCE

  • Perform during the intermission or opening of a theatrical play, ballet, or other performing arts show.
  • Book a concert series at a cool museum, winery, or art gallery.
  • Coordinate some wildly creative shows that feature a ballerina, or painter, or magician, or rhythmic gymnast, or fire juggler … Make each concert (or at least one song during each concert) into a performance art piece (i.e. a memorable experience). Give people something to talk about!

Target #3: SATALLITE RADIO & NPR

  • Tap into Satellite Radio. Find some artsy shows that would compliment my music and work on networking with the music directors.
  • Begin stalking cool NPR peeps.

Target #4: THE BLOGIVERSE {YES. WE SHALL TAKE THAT OVER TOO}

  • Indeed. I shall blog. Just like I’m doing now. And I shall write interesting things. Things about music, babies, cats, and also pastries, because I love pastries and baking.
  • I shall also trade blog posts with other artsy, musical, bookworm, writer people like myself so we can offer our readerships a greater and more interesting variety of posts.

So … who’s with me?!?! I need a posse to help me brainstorm and make this stuff happen. We will convene  for top secret meetings on Skype.  It will be fun!  And you can help with as much or as little as often as you want. We’ll be very informal yet relatively organized and generally goal oriented.  Firstly, what shall we call our posse? I’m open to ideas.

Please comment below with your thoughts, questions, feedback, suggestions, and tips on how I can hit the above targets with Annie Oakley precision and poise.  Thanks!  I’m excited!

Love,

Jennifer

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