INTERVIEW WITH ED DONNELLY FOR THE EIY HANDBOOK
ED DONNELLY, 41 (Los Angeles, CA)
YEARS IN MUSIC: 29
ON THE WEB: aderra.net // catchacannonball.com // addressphotoblog.blogspot.com
CURRENT PROJECTS: Company – Aderra; Bands – Julia Albert, E.D. Bored and The Bandaleros
ROLES: Tyrant, Drums, Guitar/vox
PAST PROJECTS: When I was 15 I started my first DIY record label, WHOA Records, with the band I was in, in Philadelphia; Eggfoot Records – 20 years! Our 20th record comes out this year; since I was 12 I have been in an endless stream of bands, some crappy, some almost awesome. I have produced 30 or 40 records for a wide range of indie acts and I have written and recorded music for several hundred TV commercials.
WHAT FIRST GOT YOU INTERESTED IN MUSIC AS MORE THAN JUST SOMETHING ON THE RADIO? The Clash’s “Clampdown.” There is a little guitar lick during the second verse that electrified my soul the first time I heard it. I knew that I immediately needed to play guitar.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE MOMENT YOU FIGURED OUT WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE? When I was 15 I got a four-track recorder that ran on cassette tape. I started recording in my parents’ basement and quickly realized that I wanted to make records. I spent a LOT of time listening to music on my Walkman, picking apart how the tracks were mixed and what the producer and artist had done to make a great song even greater.
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS WHEN YOU FIRST GOT STARTED? Rock out, make out, cash out.
HAVE YOU ACHIEVED THOSE GOALS? Occasionally.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS NOW? HOW HAVE THEY CHANGED? Build a strong company working with great people, help artists make a living playing music, work on projects that are aiming to be timeless. Parenthood and age of course give you a broader, wiser (I hope) perspective on how to accomplish your goals in a way that is sustainable.
WERE YOU ALWAYS ON THE PATH THAT YOU’RE ON NOW? A winding path, but still on it. For ten years, I went to work for a tech company and had much less time for music. But I traveled extensively and got to see local musicians in pretty interesting spots that inspired me to keep creating, and more importantly, emphasized how much power there is in playing live with a group of people. I also got to pick up some cool instruments along the way: an Oud, Darbuka, Harmonium and a few fish skin/mother of pearl tambourines.
WHAT HAVE YOU HAD TO SACRIFICE? The type of financial security that accompanies a nine-to-five type job.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU ON A DAILY BASIS? Playing with my kid, loud guitars, voices singing in harmony.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR SUCCESS HAS COME FROM LUCK? TALENT? HARD WORK? Hard Work 95%, Talent 3%, Luck 2%.
HOW HAVE YOU MEASURED YOUR SUCCESS THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER? In music, whether I am playing or producing, success is always measured by my personal satisfaction with the end result.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS? Creating art or a relationship that deeply resonates with another person.
IF YOU’RE NO LONGER INVOLVED WITH MUSIC THE WAY YOU ONCE WERE, WHAT MADE YOU STOP? Unfortunately, I do not get the opportunity to play live much these days because I am so busy working. The good news is that I get to see a lot of live shows when we are out recording them for Aderra.
DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS? Yes, of course. Over the past 30 years, I should have spent much more time playing music and not always working so hard.
DO YOU THINK THE BEST BANDS IN THE WORLD GET FAMOUS OR STAY UNDISCOVERED? Both. People have a very personal, emotional relationship with music. When they hear a song or performance that touches them it resonates very deeply. Sometimes this happens collectively with soccer stadiums full of people, sometimes it is a solo cellist playing a small recital.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE (as-of-yet) UNDISCOVERED BANDS? YES! (To be fair, Aderra is working with some of these folks.) yOya, Killola, Terminal VI, Doc and Ryan, Oh Darling, Family of the Year, L.A. Tight, Femke, Delta Rose. I am sure I am forgetting a few.
Read Ed’s answers to 50 questions about music and the music business in the EIY HANDBOOK, available in print or eBook version at www.earnityourself.com
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