Music Connection's Favorite Signings of 2015

AlfaAlfa
Label: Pacific Records
Management: Paul Condon, mgmt@alfa-music.com
Booking: mgmt@alfa-music.com
Publicity: Pacific Records
Web: alfa-music.com
A&R: Gary Hyde, gary@pacificrecords.com

Having a dedicated team behind you is a key component in an artist’s prospects for success. Even with her catchy mixture of folk with pop sensibilities, it wasn’t Pacific Records that started the conversation with Garcia and her team, but rather her manager Paul Condon who reached out to them. He was on a quest to find a label that he believed fit her philosophies and approach to her artistry when he discovered Pacific Records. Soon after contacting the label, Condon heard back and the rest is now history.

The label, which is looking to extend to a more global reach after conquering the local scene, outfitted the singer with a two-year, two-album deal that also includes a publishing contract. “I give them so much props because they pretty much gave me creative control with this record deal,” she said. “They basically said, ‘We like what you do and we just want you to keep doing it.’ That’s the kind of deal you want! You don’t want one where they like your look, but want you to write songs more like XYZ.”

Twitching Tongues 2Twitching Tongues
Label: Metal Blade Records
Band Members: Colin Young, vocals; Taylor Young, guitars,vocals, engineer.
Type of Music: Hardcore/Metal
Management: Mark Vieira - Good Fight Entertainment
Legal: N/A
Publicity: Austin Griswold, Austin@SecretServicePR.com; Vince Edwards - Metal Blade Records
Web: twitchingtongues.com
A&R: Brian Slagel

We love a band with this kind of loyalty. Hardcore-metal group Twitching Tongues have now released three full-length records—all on different labels. According the group’s co-creators, brothers Colin and Taylor Young, each label signing has been a stepping stone while giving back to the hardcore scene. Interestingly, the move to Metal Blade stirred no bad blood with their previous label.

“Late last year, Andy [Williams] of Every Time I Die got in the ear of [Metal Blade founder] Brian Slagel, and kept telling him, ‘You gotta check out this band,’” explains Colin. Twitching Tongues met with their then-current label who agreed it was a great opportunity. “[Metal Blade] asked us to meet backstage at a King Diamond show at the Wiltern Theatre in L.A. We got there, and it was like a total Waynes World Alice Cooper ‘We’re not worthy’ moment.” Less than an hour into negotiations, a deal was done. And in a strange twist, as part of the deal, the Young brothers requested their previous label, Closed Casket Activities, be involved in Twitching Tongues’ vinyl release of Disharmony. “It’s important,” proclaims Colin, “that regardless of our entrance to the metal world, we still stay connected and are involved as possible in hardcore.”

Mickey GuytonMickey Guyton
Label: Capitol Records
Management: Borman Entertainment with Steve Moir
Booking: Darin Murphy - CAA
Publicity: Lori.Christian@umusic.com
Web: MickeyGuyton.com/splash
A&R: Autumn House-Tallant

You gotta have a tough skin when it comes to facing rejection. Ask rising country singer Mickey Guyton. She was going to school in Los Angeles and on the verge of transferring or moving home to Texas when she ran into a friend who introduced her to Gary Borman, CEO of Borman Entertainment and manager for country star Keith Urban. In the “nicest way possible” Borman told Guyton, a budding songstress, that her songs weren’t any good. Rather than give up, Guyton went back to the drawing board and got a second chance. “It was the kickoff of CMA,” Guyton says, “and I flew to Nashville, got to his office and sang, and by the time I got to the riverfront, they offered me a record deal.”

That probably wouldn’t have happened if Guyton, now a Nashvillian, hadn’t toughened her skin working three jobs and facing constant rejection in Los Angeles. Her advice: “Do writers rounds. Nashville is a small community. I guarantee you can go anywhere, and the way actors and models are in L.A., that’s the way Nashville is for singers and songwriters and musicians. You can go anywhere and meet someone who is a songwriter. You have to let people know that’s what you do.”

Lost CoyoteLost Coyote
Label: Smile Records
Band Members: Brian C. Stewart, lead vocals, guitar; Chris Lawrence, steel, B Bender, 12- string guitars; Dusty Wakeman, bass; Bill Stewart, drums.
Management: Blue Rider Music
Web: something-music.com; smilerecords.homestead.com
A&R: Tony Valenziano

This Signing Story shows what can happen when a classic rock icon takes a shine to your material and offers to collaborate with you. That was the case when Phil Everly (half of the timeless pop duo the Everly Brothers) made that very proposition to L.A. studio session man and singer/songwriter/guitarist Brian C. Stewart. In 2013 they penned a dozen songs that, after Everly’s death in January of 2014, became the 2015 release Get Your Phil on Smile Records, a label with a power pop-oriented heritage (The Knack, Dave Mason, Berlin).

“When we were working together Phil told me that he had no complaints with his life at all,” recalls Stewart. “He said, ‘I will sing “Wake Up Little Susie” until the cows come home and be thankful to my soul for it. But for all the pats on the back and the awards I’ve gotten, I really wish people heard what I was doing now.’ Phil was my friend and with this record that’s what I’m trying to do.”

NEW X Ambassadors IMG_9219_comp_v2 Photo by Natalia MantiniX-Ambassadors
Label: KIDinaKORNER/Interscope
Management: Seth Kallen/This Fiction
Publicity: Lindsay Bailey, Lindsay@stuntcompany.com
Web: xambassadors.com
A&R: Alex da Kid

We love a great artist-development story. When cross-genre, Grammy-winning producer Alex da Kid (Imagine Dragons) began working intently in the studio with X-Ambassadors, he had not yet signed the band. And once the band did sign with his KIDinaKORNER (Interscope) label in 2013, it would be two years before their full-length release, VHS. “It’s not about a timeline, and this is not a vanity label,” says Alex. “I’m trying to create great artists.”

Based on a recommendation from Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds, who’d heard the band’s self-released EP, Alex did some research. “I went online and checked out all their videos, interviews, not just their music,” he says. “Chemistry is important, and I wanted to make sure it was there.” He then spent a couple of weeks in the studio, writing and eventually recording an EP, before a deal was offered and signed. Why two years for an album? Says Alex, “You only get one shot, once you put out a full release. If you throw them out too early, it can destroy everything.”

X-Ambassadors’ hit single “Renegades” was just certified platinum, marking sales and streams of one million in the United States alone.

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