music

MEETING ZARA LARSSON

At the beginning of 2016, I was scanning new releases on Spotify and came across a song that had a great beat and featured an awesome voice! Lush Life, by Zara Larsson,  immediately was added to my playlist and became my go to jam on car rides.

Soon after my discovery, Zara visited Boston for radio promo. Despite my best attempts, I was not able to “win my way in,”  However, I hoped that with her talent, a tour back to Boston would be scheduled soon; giving me another chance to meet her.

Fast forward to the end of 2016 and Zara Larsson announced that she would join Clean Bandit and Starley on a North American tour! I was so excited. However, with the amazing lineup, tickets for the show went very fast. So fast, that I didn’t get one! It was the radio promo scenario all over again. Despite my previous disappointing experience,  I was determined to meet her.

On the day of the concert, I arrived at the venue with minutes to spare. All the performers were delayed in soundchecking due to radio promo! The delay worked in my favor and provided an opportunity to see Grace, Luke and Jack from Clean Bandit and Starley, who were all extremely sweet and a pleasure to meet.

With only an hour to spare, Zara Larsson emerged from her tour bus. As she entered the venue, she smiled and waved. She noted she would stop after; but I was skeptical knowing from experience that even the nicest performers aren’t always able to keep such promises. Not feeling confident in the promise, I began to pack up my bag before the performance even started. I was ready to head out when I heard, “Hey Girl!” I looked up and saw Zara walking over to ME! She signed her new album as other fans began to gather. She was just as gracious with them. Before she returned to her bus, she asked me if she would see me inside and I explained that  I wasn’t able to get a ticket to the sold out show. Without hesitation, her and her team handed me a ticket. I accepted and Zara took one  last photo and headed back on the bus.

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The concert was one giant dance party and was one of the best concerts I have gone to. Zara glided through riffs and kept up with her backup dancers.

The encounter and performance left me in awe and made me an even bigger fan.

Thank you to Zara Larsson!

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MEETING CHARLIE PUTH

I love being on top of the new music trends, As a grapher, I’ve found this passion to be incredibly useful. For example, you know Charlie Puth a.k.a.  the guy who sings two of the biggest songs on the radio today (See You Again and Marvin Gaye); well I met him three years ago on the streets of Boston; a result of my constant surfing on the web to find the next new music trend.

One night while enjoying some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies, I was doing my daily surf of the web and stumbled across a YouTube video of a kid named Charlie covering a song called Lemonade by A.J. Rafael. I was blown away by his vocals and his interpretation of the song. Needing to hear more, I immediately went to his channel to watch his other videos. He had original raps, parodies, and a few videos from when he was signed to Ellen Degeneres’  eleveneleven record label. In one of his videos, he mentioned that he had been at Berklee in Boston and I thought wouldn’t it be funny if I bumped into him one day on the streets of Boston.

Then one rainy fall day I was camped outside the player’s entrance at Fenway. The players weren’t in the best of moods and the rain seemed to be dampening the possibility of some “good” graphing. I was just about ready to give up when I saw a group of kids walking up the street. At first, I thought nothing of it, but at second glance I realized that the kid in the middle looked an awful lot like the super talented musician on YouTube I had viewed months earlier.

I realized that the kid in the middle was in fact Charlie Puth and he was walking directly towards me. I started debating whether to ask him for a picture or autograph, because he was not really a celebrity quite yet. However, I had a feeling this kid could be really big one day. I decided to go ask. He was definitely caught off guard, but grateful that I had recognized him. We talked a bit, I took a quick picture, he signed an autograph, and we headed our separate ways on the streets of Boston.  

Now in 2015 the kid that I met at Fenway about 3 years ago is signed to a major record label, gets played on the radio at least once every 20 minutes and autograph requests are no longer out of the ordinary but more difficult to get. I am so grateful to have met him and to have been able to talk with him without assistants whisking him away to the next location. From what I’ve heard though, Charlie is just as humble as he was that rainy fall day in Boston.

Me and Charlie Puth

Meeting Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood

 I remember long car rides with the windows down and songs like “Friends In Low Places”  and “How Do I Live Without You” blasting from the speakers. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood pretty much provided the soundtrack for my family’s summer vacations. If you had told me back then that I would ever get the chance to meet both of them, I would think you were crazy, but in fact you’d be right!

When I heard that Garth and Trisha were going to be in Boston for a six show engagement for the first time in about 15 years, I was ecstatic and wanted to try to meet them. Naïve me did not realize that pretty much everyone else in Boston had the same idea. I mean they had sold out the biggest venue in Boston six shows in a row! If I had any chance of meeting them I was going to have to put every research skill I had ever learned to the test and be completely tuned into social media.

It was show day number two and nobody had met the two of them yet. They had seen them, but there were no bragging tweets; which may sound like a negative thing, but for ‘graphers it is very important. 

We had an idea of where they might be staying and waited around to see if we would see either of them. After a few hours with no signs we were ready to give up. Before officially throwing in the towel, I decided to check to see if anyone had tweeted anything new. As I scrolled through my phone I came across a tweet from someone who said something about being excited to meet Garth today at an event. I instantly went to searching the internet. After a few minutes, I found an event at one of the local universities, but we only had a half an hour before it ended and we had to get there by train. We ran and got to the train just as it was pulling into the station. We hoped on and arrived at our destination with 15 minutes to spare.

When we arrived, everything was quiet. The event location looked empty, there was no security, and no other ‘graphers. We started to get nervous, but all those fears disappeared when we stumbled across a black SUV parked at one of the doors.

Within a few minutes the door swung open. One by one, people started to file out staring at the selfies on their phones with huge smiles on their faces. Garth and Trisha were taking pictures with everyone who came to the event; so we knew we had a while to wait.

As the last of the guests came out, Trisha and Garth trailed behind them surrounded by their security. We called them over and they obliged. They we extremely nice and signed for all of us and took pictures. They even took the time to talk to each of us. I told them about how I loved their music and Trisha’s cooking show.

As I walked back to the train station to return home, I couldn’t help but smile at what a crazy and wonderful day it had been. All the waiting, research, and emotions had all been worth it. 

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood

MEETING IGGY AZALEA

In early 2014 I stumbled across an old video of a rapper who went by the name Iggy Azalea. To say she was “good” was an understatement. She was incredible! I spent the rest of the day listening to her mixtape and watching her videos; both professionally produced and those she had produced on her own. After my Iggy marathon, I stopped and wondered how I hadn’t heard of her before. Immediately, I set off to buy her EP.

A few months later, she began posting to her Twitter how she was creating a new music video for her track, Fancy, that would include fans as extras and was inspired by the 90s cult movie classic, Clueless. I was so frustrated that I didn’t live closer to LA so I could be in the video. Once the video was done, she asked the fans to hold off posting pictures related to the video in an effort to increase the impact of the release. Then on the morning of March 4th I checked YouTube just before class looking for her new video and found no trace of it. However by the time I returned, the video had gone live and Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook had all gone crazy for this “new” rapper and her new video. I smiled to myself and thought she was finally getting the attention she deserved.

Flash forward a month later on April 23rd.  I’m was standing outside the Boston venue where she would perform. The rain was coming down pretty hard and a crowd of about 20 people had gathered. Normally, rain and crowds are a deal breaker for even the most accommodating of artists; so I was getting super worried that she wouldn’t stop for an autograph or picture. A tour bus pulled up beside us and a security guard walked over. He explained that if we all stayed calm and organized that we would all meet Iggy. She got right off the bus and began taking pictures with every single person waiting even as the rain came pouring down. She took time with each fan thanking them for their support. No part of the encounter was rushed and she made each fan feel important.

As she finished taking pictures she waved, said thank you, and walked inside. I was still in shock. I couldn’t believe that I had finally met this person that I had admired and the fact that she was nicer than I ever could have imagined made it even better. She was so appreciative of her fans. Even to this day, she responds to fans regularly on Twitter.  Iggy certainly is that same wonderful talent I found on a random YouTube search.

Iggy Azalea, thank you for continuing to turn out great music and for being so wonderful to your fans.

Congratulations on your success. You deserve it!

Iggy Azalea

The Karma in Karmin

Think back to three years ago. A Boston based duo named Karmin has just released a cover video that is going viral and gaining the attention of people all over the world; including me.

As others were, I was impressed by the talent of the girl, Amy Heidemann and the guy, Nick Noonan, but was especially impressed by how they had taken a hit rap song and made a version that was unique, but still adhered to the original.

Before Karmin brought their act to the radio and television, they offered a small, free performance at a store in Boston. With their growing popularity, I had this intuitive feeling that this could be one of the last times that an opportunity like this would present itself and I was determined to go.

I did go to the concert; along with about 40 to 50 other fans and friends of the duo. They played covers and originals and gave a brilliant performance.

After the performance, Karmin did a meet and greet with everyone who had come out. I really admired how much time they spent with each person, learning their name, thanking them for coming, and just making each and every one of us feel special. It soon came to be my turn.

Earlier that week, I had decided that I wanted to give them a unique gift to show them how much their music meant to me.  I ended up creating a mosaic portrait made completely out of magazine pieces and I presented them with a copy. They were so appreciative. They signed the original for me and even tweeted out a picture of my artwork. They could not have been nicer.

Me & Karmin

Me & Karmin

Me being interviewed by Karmin.

Me being interviewed by Karmin.

Flash forward three years to a few weeks ago. Karmin was returning to Boston for a sold-out show. I had become an even bigger fan since the first time I had saw them and had collected all their CDs and magazine covers. I decided to try to meet them again. After a few hours, they arrived. They gave me a hug, took a picture with me, and signed everything I had, but one thing they did reaffirmed why I was a huge fan of theirs.

When Amy first saw me she asked me how I’d been and mentioned the portrait that I had given them years earlier.  I will admit, I teared up a little over the fact that even after all that time had passed, after all the notoriety they had received, and all the people they had met, they still remembered me. They still remembered Boston, their fans, and where everything started.  For these reason and more, Karmin will always be my favorite duo!

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Meeting Bastille

I had discovered Bastille a while ago while scouring the internet for new music. When I found out that they were coming to Boston I was ecstatic and began planning right away.

I arrived to the venue in the morning in the hopes that I would catch the band going into sound-check. As the minutes and hours ticked by, I realized that I had broken one of the cardinal rules of graphing; do your research. I had no idea that the band was doing press for most of the day and would not be there until late.

4:30 p.m. arrived and I had almost given up when I saw a quick glimpse of a red coat climbing up the hill. No it couldn’t be…oh, but it was. They had walked from their hotel; which we discovered was only around the corner.

I ran toward them and politely asked for an autograph. Their security proceeded to say no. Then, suddenly, one of the most amazing things happened. The door was locked. The band was stuck outside with us.

In the five or so minutes they stood waiting in the cold for the door to be unlocked,  I was able to get Kyle, Will, and Dan to sign my CD. Dan even took two pictures with me because my first picture came out blurry.

Even after a long wait and a few mistakes, the day turned out to be a success.

Dan Smith-Bastille