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Interview With Allison Kugel By Chris 29/10/07
Allison Kugel runs Allison Dawn PR and also writes articles and does interviews on PR.com. She gave some really great answers and if you want to get into that field of work read on
Allison Dawn PR
1. How did you get into publicity?
I tripped and fell into publicity, lol. I started off as an entrepreneur, importing and exporting various products and publicizing my products on my own, in lieu of using a PR firm. I happened to get great results and I started booking placements in magazines and newspapers and booking segments on broadcast news and talk shows. Eventually I did an interview on a nationally syndicated radio show called Start Up Nation and then Entrepreneur Magazine did a story on me. From there I began getting a lot of requests for business and marketing consulting. At first I would just help people for free, chatting on the phone and emailing people back. It got way out of hand so I decided, “Why not make a business out of it?”
2. Are you happy how things have gone for you so far?
Overall I feel blessed to make money on my own terms with an entity that I created, and on my own time.
3. What are the biggest challenges you face as a publicist?
Many times you are the bad guy because you have to protect your client and in some strange way, many times you have to protect a member of the media in order to maintain that relationship. It can become a series of very hairy phone calls, but ultimately there is a lot of satisfaction in helping someone to achieve their dreams and grow their business.
4. Why did you start your company Allison Dawn PR?
Allison Dawn PR is this cool compilation of all things creative. I created an outlet where I can produce creative work on a regular basis. I produce, direct and style photo shoots, I come up with marketing concepts and graphic design ideas, I write people’s stories and I work with the media. Forming my company gave me what I wanted out of life, professionally speaking.
5. Who has been the hardest client to work with?
Ah! I aint naming names! 🙂 The hardest clients are the ones who don’t allow you to do your job. When someone puts themselves in my hands and sets me free I can really take that ball and run with it. When someone micro manages, they get you tied up in minutia and that’s not good for anyone.
6. Why do you think people are so obsessed with celebrities?
I don’t really know exactly. My best guess would be that people fantasize and rationalize that a famous person lives an airbrushed, glossy life that’s just an endless string of parties, premieres, photo shoots and over the top romances because that’s what the tabloids try to sell us. That’s the bill of goods they want you to buy. It’s not true. We’re all just people trying as best as we can to ride life’s ups and downs and be happy.
7. How do you prepare when doing interviews?
I study, I Google, I research… you can never have too much information. I really learn and begin to appreciate the person’s life and then I will write questions very stream of consciousness as they pop into my head. Sometimes I will pop up in bed at 3am with 5 more questions swimming in my head and I have to go to my office and jot them down. Right before the interview I make a mental note of the flow and content I want for the interview and then I just pray that my intention for the interview comes across to the person I am interviewing. I hope that they can feel my appreciation for their story and that they can feel that my questions are coming from a pure place.
8. What has been the highlight for your company so far?
I love, love, love producing photo shoots! I love the casting, crewing, styling, and directing. I love my little creative teams that I have worked with. My favorite photographers are Ralph Lliteras and Robert Milazzo. My favorite makeup artist is Julie Engleton. My favorite model to direct is a girl named Jessica Hinton. I love my little team of people. Another fun moment was a story I did with adult star Jenna Jameson. Excerpts from our conversation blasted all over the U.S. like a scud missile. That was a good day. I like trouble! Haha. Another favorite moment was a segment I put together for Good Morning America where a deserving couple who were pregnant at the time with triplets won a free baby nursery makeover.
9. Who would you most like to work with?
It’s always easiest to promote what you enjoy. I enjoy anything geared towards children, animals, health and the arts. The environment is a cause I would love to promote as well. I crave substance and I tend to chafe against shallowness and material things.
10. What would be your ultimate goal for the company?
A roster of clients that I would gladly represent for free if I could.
11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a publicist
and also run their own company?
This advice would apply to anyone, not just someone looking to go into publicity. Follow your creative impulses and inspired thoughts and act on them, and definitely don’t wait for someone else’s permission to do what you want to do.
12. What’s in your stereo at the moment?
Billy Joel, Tupac Shakur, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez’s Spanish music, Kanye West, Poison, Tommy Lee, Enya. My taste is so eclectic.
13. What do enjoying do when not working?
I live a pretty low key life but a very peaceful life. I spend time with my boyfriend and my dog. I love to cook and bake, watch countless DVDs, meditate and spend time with family. I also love road trips. I just got back from traveling up and down the east coast of the United States. Last night I had dinner in Brunswick, Georgia and this afternoon I had lunch in Fayatville, North Carolina. The other day I was in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I literally just walked in the door a few hours ago.
14. What has been you greatest triumph/success so far?
My greatest successes have nothing to do with work.
15. How do you chose the people you want to interview?
I choose to interview people who have something to say. it’s not enough to just be famous. If you don’t have something to say it falls flat on me and I’m not interested. I have actually turned down interviews with celebrities because how many times can you ask someone about their TV show? I don’t always have the final say, because sometimes it comes down to web traffic and business, but I am very vocal about pieces I believe in and making them happen. If I am inspired by a book, a film, a piece of music or whatever the case may be, I will literally hunt that person down and ask for an interview and then I try to ask the questions that anyone would love to ask that person if they were given that opportunity.
16. What inspires you to write the articles you do?
I am obsessed with people’s life stories! Even as a child, I would read a lot of biographies as opposed to novels or storybooks. I think that every one of us has a story and we can all learn from one another through sharing.
17. Is there anything you would like to write an article on but afraid to do so?
I’m not afraid, my editor is! lol. I had to push to write a story on holistic treatments for cancer, on the struggles of raising girls to have high self esteem in a male dominated world, on ills of animal products. I beg and kick and scream and try to push things though that I believe in, because at the end of the day, that’s why I write. I can be pretty convincing and I was able to get the powers that be to allow me to post a compilation of my poetry on PR.com. It was posted and then yanked down a week later when some people took offense to them.
18. What do you do when an interview doesn’t go the way you planned it to?
Well you do your research and you have your list of questions, but that is the fall back. If you have to go by the questions, it’s a bad interview. You hope that the conversation takes on a life of its own and you just go on each other’s energy. Sometimes you get someone who is very guarded, or they have a set agenda and when you try to appeal to their humanity that get flustered and freeze up. Sometimes, like in life, there just isn’t that spark of chemistry. You try to make jokes and come at it from different angles to loosen the person up and…nothing! It’s like, “Hey…is this thing on?!” Haha. Luckily I have had many more great experiences then bad ones, and in many of my interviews me and the other person have made magic together.
19. What do you try and focus on when writing articles?
I focus on my readership and I focus on my three magic words, which are to entertain, educate and inspire. Those are three things I strive for with every article. As far as I am concerned the work isn’t done if it doesn’t mesh with those three words.
20. What are your thoughts on celebrity gossip websites who try to force
gay people to come out?
I don’t really have any thoughts on that and I don’t understand the whole “coming out” thing. Just be what you are. No need to advertise your sexuality, whether you are straight or gay, just live your life. And the whole outing people thing is ridiculous. It’s none of anyone’s business and it serves no purpose except to make life hard for someone who isn’t ready to make that public.
21. Have you ever regretted doing an interview and going, “I wish I hadn’t done that?”
No way! I can honestly say I love my entire body of work. Each interview is like a child. You love something different about each of them. Even interviews where the other person and I didn’t get along, the finished product is still an interesting read. When I interviewed Gene Simmons from KISS, I didn’t like him and I’m pretty sure he didn’t like me either. We didn’t get along. He kept trying to push my buttons by trying to dehumanize women and just being arrogant. I detest arrogance! So I really didn’t enjoy the editing process and when it was complete I was happy to be done with it. Then I got these phone calls from people saying it was a great read. So there you go.
22. What kind of interview would you most like to do?
I love talking to people in the arts but I would really like to start interviewing some politicians and activists and people who just have their nose to the grindstone and are doing noble things to better our world.
23. How did you get involved with PR.com?
I have known Jason, the owner of PR.com, for five years now. When we first met he casually mentioned that he invested in Internet domain names and that he had recently acquired the name “PR.com” and was just kind of sitting on it, and I was like, “Are you nuts?! You need to do something with that name!” I can be very pushy when I get inspired :). I kept bugging him and finally he sat down and came up with the concept of an all inclusive promotional website that could be multi media with company profiles, press release distribution, product listings and articles. I was there every step of the way. A staff was hired and everything came together. He knew I was a writer and he had read some of my published work, and he asked me to come on board to write. I had all of these ideas and he said, “Go for it!” I was really given free reign to develop the articles section as I saw fit. It was an amazing gift. We were two forces that were meant to come together. I opened doors for him and he opened doors for me.
Picture © Mindy Joyce.
Interview With James Tuttle from Telescreen By Chris 13/10/07
Telescreen is a fantastic new band from America who I thought were worthy of publicity. Their music rocks.
1. How did the band form?
Codeseven broke up in the summer of 2005 and we all needed a break from each other. We all just happened to be at the same show one night last year and started talking about music and decided that we felt like it was all left unfinished. We wanted to make a name change and add a new singer to the mix and treat this more like a brand new project than codeseven with a new singer, so we decided on Jared Draughon from Classic Case who is an old friend of ours to front this project.
2. Are you happy how things have turned out so far?
Without a doubt yes. I feel like this is more complete and so many ideas that we have wanted to get out from the past are actually happening this go around. Its a very visual style band and really needs to be seen in a live setting to get the full scope of what were trying to do.
3. Who were your influences?
Hmmmm. I cant speak for everybody but for me its alot of soundtrack music and National Public Radio along with bands like God Speed You Black Emperor, Failure and U2. I would also say what NIN and Pink Floyd do with there live shows is a huge inspiration.
4. Are you happy so far with the responses from the new song?
Yeah, you know some people want to hear Codeseven which this isn’t. Its a new band that just happens to have most of the line up from c7. Overall yes its been positive and I couldn’t be happier.
5. Has it been hard getting gigs for the band?
No not really. As of now we have played 3 shows and have a tour coming up in a few weeks which we are all really excited about with He Is Legend. We have a few more shows after that booked which will finish out the year for us and then start planning on next year and how much we want to tour.
6. How have responses been at the shows you have been playing so far?
Its been so good its kinda scary. When you see the show you really don’t expect to see what we are doing when you go to a venue to see live music. Its more like going to see a movie. Its hard to explain so hear is a link for one of our songs from our first show which can explain it better then i can. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRjIWRGarrg
7. Any releases in the pipeline?
Yes. Real soon I think. Its going to be a very unconventional way to release an album and hope to have all the details about it on our myspace page by the latest Halloween night.
8. What has inspired the bands sound?
Passion for just creating what we want to hear is the number one rule in our band and for me, our last band is the inspiration for our sound and current mindset. We always try not to have a sound to push for but instead just do it and see what happens when you hit the record button.
9. What is on your stereo at the moment?
Radiohead – In Rainbows
10. What are some of your favorite musical artists/bands?
Right now in North Carolina I’m really pumped on a band called Giant that everyone should check out and M83 from France.
11. What is next for the band?
Get our music out for people to check out as soon as possible and then will start touring in support of it.
Thanks for your time any last words
Well…… thanks for interviewing us and I hope we can make it over to your side of the world as soon as possible. James
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Interview With Lydia Phillips By Chris 2/10/07
Lydia Phillips is something really special, when I first saw the poster for launch gig I wanted to know more, so I looked her up and what I heard blew me away. So expect a review soon and yes I will be putting my money where my mouth is and I will be seeing her live next week. She is simply something really special.
So read on
1.How did you get into music?
I started singing around the time I started talking. I used to sit in the backseat of the car as a little kid singing along to Andrew Lloyd Webber tapes and imagining I was on stage. And it just kinda stuck.
2. Who were your idols growing up?
Artists who wrote lyrics carefully. I liked Jewel’s earlier albums, Natalie Merchant, that kind of thing.
3. Who were your influences?
Sarah McLachlan has been a huge influence, as has Natalie Merchant.
4. Are you happy with the responses from the ep?
Yes, so far we’ve had really positive feedback – hoping for more responses in the coming weeks as we’re launching the EP on Thursday 18th October.
5. How was the recording process for the album?
I was lucky enough to record with a great group of musos – a very enthusiastic and very talented group. It was a steep learning curve for me but our producer was good at both listening and suggesting.
6. Has the internet helped with your music?
For sure. It’s really exciting to get feedback from listeners in other states and countries and to feel that independent artists can connect with audiences without the middle man.
7. Do you think tools like MySpace are useful?
Absolutely. Myspace is great for developing an audience but also for discovering other artists who I wouldn’t otherwise hear.
8. Is it hard to get radio to play your music?
We’ve only begun seeking airplay recently, but so far it’s going well. The hardest part is trying to tune in and catch it when it’s on air!
9. Have you had much response from radio?
We’ve had good responses from community radio so far – will keep you posted!
10. Are you happy the way that Hibiscus January has turned out?
Yeah I am. I’ve been working on the release for a year on and off, and I’m really happy with the sound. That said, the band and I have already changed some of the tracks, and it’s exciting to see how the songs evolve.
11. What is your favourite venue to play at?
I really enjoyed playing shows at Manchester Lane a few times – it’s got a real warmth to it and the crowds were great.
12. Who would you most like to record a song with and play with?
At the moment, Ryan Adams. I’d like to duo with a male singer and I love the way his simple piano ballads morph into these beautiful orchestral pieces.
13. What is on your stereo at the moment?
Currently Simon Imrei (who’s supporting us at our EP launch), Josh Rouse and Pete Yorn.
14. What are some of your favourite musical artists/bands?
Oh god there’s heaps! Catherine Feeny, Amos Lee, Oasis, Ryan Adams, Damien Rice, Liz Stringer, Pete Yorn, Abra Moore, James Morrison, Sarah McLachlan, Jeff Buckley to name a few. But I also love pianists/composers from the early 20th century, particularly the Russians and Eastern Europeans.
15. What has been the highlight so far?
I think holding the finished EP in my hand. It’s a cliché, but as I oversaw all stages of production as an independent artist, it’s great to have the tangible product to represent the year’s work. It’s exciting to put it out there and we can now start thinking about growing and evolving, having laid some foundations and done the documenting.