Big City Cowgirl Interview

Big City Cowgirl Interview
Today, we are speaking with NYC’s Big City Cowgirl. How did you get into music? I credit my family for its love of music and creative genes for getting me into music. My parents have a large difference in age so they both loved their own types of music. As a result, I was exposed to all styles of music and I incorporate all of those styles into the songs I write. The more a person hears, the more diverse they become in terms of songwriting so I am blessed to have that background. My uncle, Mel Mendelssohn, may he rest in peace, played the recorder and he used to compose classical and other orchestral music, and then find musicians to play his compositions with him on Long Island. He actually put on productions. His drive for music was also a part of me. I also had an elementary choir director who convinced me to really push myself vocally and pursue music. But the bottom line is that I feel like music has always been a part of my soul and that’s undeniable. Even when I took a hiatus from it to try to “save the world,” my music appreciation never left me. If it’s in you, it’s in you, and it will find a way to haunt you until it gets out. So, after starting a family and working as a public interest lawyer, I decided to give into those musical fires inside me by songwriting again. Having a toddler who was into music from the day she was born didn’t hurt either. She loves to make up tunes all of the time and I encourage her “songwriting.”

What are some of the highlights of your career so far? The highlights of my career have been being recognized though fan appreciation, being told that my songs connected with people, being told that my songs have been the inspiration for people to make positive changes in their life, and having one of my songs sung to me while I was traveling on the NYC subway system.
A number of people assist with bringing your music to reality; what is the general feeling when you get into the studio to record music? Being in the studio is an awesome experience because I am around people who have the same goal as me – to make my song as good as it can be. When I get into the studio to record, I am both nervous and excited, because every song I write is my baby and I want so badly to nurture so it can grow into a great song. My songs are my creation but yes, I do have people assisting me because you have to have a team that gives you advice and appreciates what you are trying to do. I have very strong feelings about how I want my songs to be and I express them without hesitation. I’m blessed to have people around me who understand that, but also come up with great suggestions – of course, they always know that’s it is me that has the final say. That being said, I do take people’s suggestions and integrate them into my songs. I use ideas from anyone who wants to throw them out there to me. Two of the people whose suggestions I value the most use are my amazing producer, Mike Epstein – who has been in the business forever, plays in bands, and owns Dare Studios where I record – and Andrew Nadien, my illustrious keyboardist – who plays numerous instruments, plays in bands, and is actually a music teacher!

You have a new song and video – Game of Love. Can you give us a brief behind the scenes? I wrote the song on my guitar but immediately knew it was a piano song. It was important to keep some elements of country but I felt like the song could also be adult contemporary or R&B – or even a Broadway type song – so I wanted it to be piano forward. I don’t limit myself when it comes to writing. I write what comes naturally so I went with it. The song, for me, is about pondering the amorphous concept of love. It could really be about anyone who has had love kick them in the butt, but gotten through it. As they say, it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all, but it’s hard to overcome those horrible feelings when love fails. The video was my concept and creation. I chose Asharoken, Long Island, as the backdrop for the video because my in-laws live there and I have spent many nice summer afternoons there. It’s a seaside town and I thought that the ocean in all its grandeur would make a wonderful background. The day we did the video, there was supposed to be a hurricane and I thought I might have to cancel, but the hurricane didn’t hit us. Instead, it created magnificent wind that tossed my hair around and made the ocean tumultuous with waves. I wanted to go bigger with my videos than before and, in order to do that, I wanted to have me singing with other actors playing parts. I was able to find two enormously talented young actors named Jaleena Cozzo and Jeff Towle, who were able to capture my concept through action – in the first verse, having a romantic love affair and in the second verse, having a horrible breakup – it’s not easy to go from acting all lovey dovey one hour and fighting the next – but they did it and they did it well. Even the hound dog was a hired hand, Bud Laufer! My crew, Mike & Hillary Epstein, were not only wonderful at capturing the chemistry of Jaleena and Jeff, but also great at helping to direct the action. Then Kevin Kane of Kevin Kane Photography showed up and he took drone footage for me – which was really his last minute idea and which helped enormously in making the video on a grander scale. All of these wonderful talents worked in sync – and I even was able to sneak in some family – my mom, Susan Mendelson, my mother-in-law, Janet Tocano and my daughter, Lydia, into the mix. Many people have watched the video and all have different ideas of what is actually going on or what the video is meant to say – and it is incredibly gratifying that everyone has their own perceptions about it – because it means that I’ve got people thinking. And there are hidden messages and metaphors in the imagery which I hope people find. I really hope that the song is able to move people and possibly get some people through a rough time in love if they are going through a breakup.
Which artists are the greatest influences for you and your music? Since I’m into all sorts of genres, the artists who have influenced me run the gamut. I don’t know if there is any one who has had the greatest influence on my music. I do love the country music artists of the 1980’s and 1990’s, the kind you hear on Sirius XM’s Prime Country. But my country influences have also included Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, and Kenny Chesney. The bottom line, though, is that I have listened to, and learned from, classical, rock, dance, jazz, pop, punk, reggae, etc.. Any great songwriter will influence me – even musical theatre lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz!
What about online social media services are different from the traditional face to face meeting and performances that musicians utilize? In today’s industry, to get a face-to-face meeting is practically impossible. Performances are great and the connection to people when performing is exhilarating. However, social media services are a fabulous vehicle to get your music out to the general public in a big way because everyone is obsessed with social media. So whereas only local people could hear your music at one time or you had to find creative ways to get the interest of industry people, you could literally explode on social media and make it on your own, or get the interest of industry tastemakers through creating a huge buzz online.
How can interested NeuFutur readers purchase your music? My music can be purchased through Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay, Rdio, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube, Shazam, Beats/Media.Net and Microsoft Groove. If NeuFutur readers want to check out the songs by hearing them first, they can access them on ReverbNation, Soundcloud, and by watching my videos on YouTube. My website, bigcitycowgirl.com, has links to the songs and to the videos. I’m also selling merchandize through Café Press.Your readers can follow me on Twitter too – I don’t just tweet about my music, I tweet about everything!

Thank you so much for your time. Finally, do you have any additional thoughts about life, faith, and the universe for our readers? Everything happens for a reason. Try to see the positives of your life. Never let others sway you with their negativity and toxicity. Every day is a blessing so appreciate it and act that way. If you stay true to your music, you will always be able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day – whether or not you succeed in the literal sense. Music will always be a part of you so give it the respect it deserves. Opinions are like assholes – everyone has one – try to sort through to see whose opinions are worth your time. Stay focused. Never give up on your dreams. Be who you are and the rest will follow. Stay positive, stay strong, and count your blessings.

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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