PAM TAYLOR TALKS ‘STEAL YOUR HEART’, SOCIAL MEDIA & DREAM SHOWS 212

Since releasing her first album Hot Mess in 2012, Pam Taylor has been compared to the likes of Janis Joplin and earned herself growing support from fans and critics alike. Currently on a UK tour in support of her new album Steal Your Heart which is due out next month, Pam took time out of her hectic schedule to chat dream shows, song-writing style and her ultimate ambition.

TITL: Which bands and artists would you say have influenced your sound the most since you started out?

Pam Taylor: I’ve been thinking on this question and it’s hard to pinpoint. My music is probably an amalgam of all the music I’ve ever heard growing up so it’s hard to narrow it down to certain band or artist. Certain genres have definitely influenced my sound, like rock, soul, blues, country…the roots. Roots music is just that…a blend of American music and that is my sound.

TITL: Which band or artist are you most often compared to and do you mind such comparisons?

PT: I’ve heard Janis Joplin the most, but not in the sense that we have the same sound, but the same energy, inflections and mostly, stage presence.  I always am honored to be compared to one of the greatest icons of all time. We both had many afflictions that probably gave us more in common than anyone knows. Luckily, I survived.

TITL: How would you say your song-writing and performance style has changed since you released your first album, Hot Mess, in 2012?

PT: My life experience has definitely changed my song-writing since Hot Mess. As an artist and a human in general, I hope to always be evolving. My music has more focus today with a message of healing, overcoming obstacles and self-love and sharing the stories behind the songs is something new since Hot Mess. It all happened by accident. The first time I shared what I was going through when I wrote a particular song, it had such an impact on the audience, I knew it was something that I had to keep doing in my live performances. This has made all the difference.

TITL: You suffered a ruptured disc in 2013 which caused you considerable pain. How did your path back to health impact the music you’ve since gone on to make?

PT: I experienced first-hand the healing powers of energy and positive thinking and I knew that this was something not unique to me. We all have inside us the power to cause disease in our own bodies or healing and so that message is intertwined in my music today for that reason. It’s an important time for people to realize what they have control over and what they don’t. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Music heals and has been used for centuries in all cultures for that same reason. It’s just gotten lost in translation. Music is the common thread and I’m here to “spread the thread.”

PT: How would you sum up your new album Steal Your Heart in a few words?

It’s a personal yet universal testament of the path to loving oneself.

TITL: The album is driven by the message and idea of loving and being yourself. Given the recent difficulties around the world particularly with LGBTQ communities and the recent clashes in Charlottesville, that’s quite a bold statement to make, wouldn’t you say, or is that ultimately why you wanted to do it?

PT: Like the statement before… Steal Your Heart is a personal testament. I wrote these songs as a way for me to heal. Writing for me, is cheaper and more effective than therapy.  I am not ignorant to the world’s issues but my philosophy is this… what you focus on you bring to you so for me to stay positive I focus my attention on the things that are going good in the world and I tend to bring more of that into my life. I don’t watch the news, I don’t share negative things on social media and I am definitely not political.  The law of attraction is a real thing. This is ultimately why I wanted to do it….to give myself something positive to focus on and to share with the world. In my experience, this is the only true way to affect change.

TITL: Do you have a favourite track and if so, which is it and why?

PT: All of my songs have a special place in my heart but I would have to say “Mountain” is my favorite. It has become my anthem. I wrote it to help get me out of depression and I compare my inner struggles with that of a mountain. Under the earth’s surface, there are struggles and harsh environments that we couldn’t survive but it pushes the mountains to rise and this is the message behind this song; to take your struggles, things that would normally break you, and use them to build yourself up, as a foundation to rise above. My frans (friend + fan) really love this one. I’ve had frans paint me pictures of mountains and one even got a tattoo of a mountain. The positive effect it’s had on others is why it’s become one of my favorites.

TITL: You’ve received considerable critical acclaim over the years but which comment/message, either from a critic or a fan have you been most touched by?

PT: To hear that my songs are getting people through tough times is so fulfilling. This is why I wanted to record this record now. I had a fran reach out to ask me if I had a song(s) to share with her daughter about strength and grace because she had gotten bullied at school and the fact that she thought of me and my music made my heart sing. This is why I do what I do.

TITL: You’re currently on a UK tour – how are you finding the audiences? Any highlights so far?

PT: It’s just getting started but so far, the audiences have been very appreciative, enthusiastic and respectful. Before I left to go on this tour, I did a show for my hometown in a small brewery and it was packed, which was awesome, but they were chatting with each other so loudly that I could hardly hear myself sing.  I tried not to let it get me down because I still needed to deliver the message to the folks that were trying to hear but it was really hard for me. My first gig in the UK was in a small venue much like the brewery, packed with even more people but you could hear a pin drop while I was telling my stories and singing…that is until the end when they clapped and cheered with great enthusiasm. I feel more appreciated here, that’s for sure. I look forward to experiencing how the rest of the world embraces me. It’s off to a fabulous start.

TITL: You’ve opened for John Primer and Debbie Davies among others, but if you could support any band or artist, living or dead, who would they be and why?

PT: Have you ever heard of the 27 club? Well, if I could share the stage with just half the folks in that club, it would be the gig of a lifetime. I got sober at 25 and didn’t start performing until I was 27. Luckily for me, I got all the struggles with drugs, alcohol and other damaging personal afflictions out of the way before any fame or other by-products of being a well-known musician came into play. I couldn’t imagine doing what I do and having the typical rock-star lifestyle to go along with it. Being under the microscope while dealing with demons….no way!! Janis, Jimi, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse…they were larger than life and had such an impact on the world in just their short 27 years here. To be on a stage with them, or to just warm a crowd up for them would be surreal.  Could you imagine that gig!?!! I am working on a song called “27 Survived” and it’s a reflection into that comparison. Overcoming, surviving…carrying the torch.

TITL: To what extent has social media impacted your career and would you agree it’s been and continues to be a more positive than negative tool for those in the industry?

PT: Social media was definitely a gateway for me and I feel it really catapulted my career.  I use it to network, investigate venues, and just to put myself out there. It’s an easy way to stay connected to my frans too. I have never had a negative experience with any of it…maybe just trying to navigate all the updates. I always think it’s funny when I see people saying things like, “taking time off Facebook, it’s too much drama” because my philosophy is “wherever you go, there you are.” Social media is like everything else – you get out of it what you put in it.

TITL: What else does this year have in store for you?

PT: I have some great gigs coming up on this world tour including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on Aug 25-26th, ending up in Israel for my CD release party at Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv on September 23rd.  I can’t believe I’m kicking it off in the Holy Land. I’m still pinching myself. Who knows what else this year has in store!  I do see lots of love, more personal freedom and adventure…that’s for sure.

TITL: Where would you like to see yourself three years from now and what’s your ultimate ambition? What would you have to achieve in order to happily call it a day?

PT: When you make plans, God laughs, is the saying that comes to mind.  If you’d have told me this would be my life 3 years ago,  I would have never believed you and probably laughed in your face. My ultimate ambition is to share my music with as many people as possible and to continue to grow as a human, and as an artist in general.  This world tour has opened my eyes to more possibilities than I ever dreamt of. I don’t have an endgame really; I just want to continue “Spreading the Thread” and let people know how awesome they are.  Let’s see where that takes me. Ask me again in 3 three years. Until then…I’ll be the light, give the love, share the music.

Pam Taylor plays Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 25th & 26th, the Cellar Bar (Ruzz’s Guitar Blues Revue) in Devizes on September 1st and Downend Tavern (Bristol Blues Clubhouse) on September 5th. For more information, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter. Steal Your Heart is out on September 22nd and available for pre-order now. You can check out a promo for the collection below.

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REVIEW: THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS – AMERICA 36

Five years in the making, Thirty Seconds To Mars’ new album ‘America’, which Jared promoted this week by hitch-hiking his way across his home country as part of an event called #MarsAcrossAmerica, is most certainly a considerable shift away from what members of the Echelon have heard from the trio (though current duo) over the years. But is this said shift good or bad?

Beginning with “Walk On Water” which introduced both old and new fans alike to the bands’ new rather electro-edged sound, ‘America’ starts off well, especially given that the rather radio friendly “Dangerous Night” follows on from it.

“Rescue Me” ups the tempo somewhat, and with its toe-tapping, body swaying rhythm, combined with Jared’s rough edged vocal, it’s just over three and a half minutes of enjoyable considerably upbeat rock, and the simplistic chorus in particular will work well when – or if – its performed on their current Monolith tour.

Prior to the release of the album, the band gave a sneak peak of one of the album’s collaborations, with A$AP Rocky. Having watched said sneak peak, this reviewer personally felt his involvement was random and pointless. Fortunately however, and for reasons unknown, he doesn’t feature on my (likely all UK albums) version and with the song performed for the most part in a breathy, almost dream-like manner, it would most likely have been completely ruined with Rocky’s inclusion.

The “Monolith” instrumental, AKA track 5, doesn’t really serve any purpose, however it does lead into the album’s one collaboration that REALLY does work – that of Jared and Halsey on “Love Is Madness” – one of the darker tracks, but not the darkest, on the album. She compliments Jared perfectly, enhancing the song and its sultry mood/feel to the point where it easily stands out as a highlight of the collection.

“Great Wide Open” is an inspiring track, and one that’s perfect to listen to when you’re out discovering yourself or exploring this world we live in, or most likely, doing both at the same time. It’s the type of song you can see playing behind a montage of a person’s life, as their friends and family pay tribute to or celebrate them in some form or another, and with that in mind, it’s one of the album’s strongest, and most emotive, pieces.

Mixing simple electronic hooks, plenty of synth and a chorus which, it could be argued, is rather understated, “Hail To The Victor” almost flashes back to the ‘Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams’ era of the band, perhaps included to draw that chapter to an undeniable close. The darkest, deepest number on the album comes in the form of “Dawn Will Rise.” With lyrics including “Come and hit me, strike me while I’m down” and “Fortunes fade in time, I must change or die.”, it’s certainly not a track to listen to if you are in a good mood, as its sombre, almost depressing tone, matched by Jared’s almost defeated vocal performance, will soon shatter said mood to pieces.

If there’s any real surprise on the album, it’s Shannon’s Leto’s vocal on “Remedy.” It’s raw and stripped back in comparison to any track that has come before and comes after it. There’s an organic feel to the song, and Shannon’s performance, although different, is so in a phenomenally good way, and he’s no doubt going to find himself requested to play it live.

The chorus of “Oh Oh Oh”, on “Live Like A Dream”, in a nice touch from the band, was recorded at one of their Camp Mars events, and serves as an audible reminder for those who were there of the project they were involved in (though it’s unlikely they knew what it was for at the time) and the fun they had, while for other members of the Echelon, it’s a nice throwback to the ‘This Is War’ era when many of them featured on that album, having participated in ‘summits’ around the world.

“Rider” has so far proved to be quite a strong, albeit new, inclusion to the band’s tour setlist, and with its rising crescendo as the piece nears its end, it’s quite stirring and powerful. Meanwhile, on the deluxe edition of the album, the acoustic, choir-inclusive version of “Walk On Water” might lack the energy of the original, but with the electronics removed, it brings Jared’s genuine vocal ability to the forefront again, and such has been considerably lacking up to this point.

With remixes growing in popularity, it’s not that surprising to find the band have included 2, the first being a R3hab remix of “Walk On Water.” For those who like a more dance-like and continued electro-feel to their songs, it’s not a bad version by any means, but it’s not the best remix ever made either, and the Cheat Codes remix of “Dangerous Night” doesn’t fare that much better.

Despite the new sound and styles with which the band have experimented on this collection, ‘America’ is still at its heart, very much a Thirty Seconds To Mars album, and if the social media reaction is anything to go by, it’s proving a hit with their huge following. Yes there are tracks on the album that don’t quite work as well as they should, like the remixes, but for the majority, lyrically and instrumentally, it’s a considerably solid piece of work that fans hopefully won’t have to wait another five years for in order to hear its follow-up.

KAYO WASHIO OF JAPAN’S WOWOW BROADCAST NETWORK TALKS HANDLING PROJECTS & PRESSURE 46

As the head of US Operations for what has been described as Japan’s version of HBO, WOWOW, Kayo Washio is used to working under pressure and alongside some of the biggest names in the business. With five projects currently in development, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Kayo to talk about how much the broadcast industry has changed and continues to evolve, the acquisition she’s most proud of and her advice for anyone looking to follow in her footsteps.

TITL: What is it about broadcasting that encouraged you to make it a career path and how did you get started?

Kayo Washio: I have a relative who worked for the U.N. in New York City and was a licensed attorney who passed the New York State Bar. She was born and raised in Japan, like I was. Because of her, I wanted to be an international attorney, starting from the time I was in high school.  When I enrolled and attended University, I selected International Law as my major. While studying, I learned that law practice and enforcement has a lot of gray areas and I soon came to the realization that this was not the field I could spend a lifetime working in. At that time, while I was in the midst thinking of what I truly loved to do, I discovered a unique ‘unknown’ person who accomplished a remarkable feat, and thought it would make for a great interview feature for an outlet. I arranged a job interview for myself with a TV broadcaster to become a reporter/creator and to make a program for reporting on this great figure I discovered – in Japan, you don’t need to work for a company that relates to your major at your college. This experience allowed me to begin working for WOWOW right after I graduated university.

TITL: It could be argued that, like film, the broadcasting industry is dominated by men. With that in mind, how much, or little, of a struggle has it been for you to pave your way and make a name for yourself as well as you have in recent years? Are you seeing a rise in the number of women joining the business and if so, does such please you?

KW: Having worked for an established ‘old guard’ type of Japanese company for about 20 years and working in Japan for about 15 years before moving to Los Angeles, I can say I have much more freedom and flexibility here in U.S. The entertainment industry in the U.S. is much, much, much less dominated by men compared to Japan.

There are many cultural and business rules in Japan that play into gender inequality. Some of you might realize that we exchange business cards by holding our card with both hands when we meet a new person – right at the onset of the meeting before having any conversation. The order in which cards are exchanged is important, and rules dictate that you should exchange cards with the person with the highest title, which in Japan is normally the oldest man. I’ve often seen the awkward situation here in the U.S. where senior executives try to exchange a business card with an American older male first, even if a female has higher position.

I understand it’s very difficult, but eventually I would like to have a society where we do not need to talk about these gender disparity issues. Like most, I just want to work with talented people who I enjoy collaborating with – regardless of gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, etc. Life is short and we are all one human race.

TITL: For those who don’t understand the way in which broadcasting and its companies work, what are the main objectives of your job as the head of U.S. Operations?

KW: Basically, the objective of my job is to secure the best content – films, TV series, special award shows, concerts, etc. – for our service in Japan. WOWOW has established and maintained tremendous relationships with studios, networks and content rights holders for about the last 30 years, which positions us well to make great acquisitions. Growing and nurturing these relationships in the U.S. is so important for a foreign company like WOWOW. I am diligent in trying to foster even more relationships through an open and transparent exchange of information with new companies on a daily basis and explore new relationships not only from the sales side, but also on the production side through our co-production projects. This all dovetails another very important objective – building the WOWOW brand name here in the U.S.

TITL: Is there one aspect of your job you like more than any other or do you just enjoy the different every day challenges that come your way?

KW: I love waking up every day to the opportunity of working with very talented creators and artists. These kinds of opportunities have motivated me to keep aiming high and stoke my passion for the next hit project! I’m always mobile too. I’m not a type of person who can sit in an office from 9-6 every single day.

In Japan, most companies have a job rotation system whereby every 3-5 years employees are transferred to a different department within the company and assigned new job duties without any reason. Because of this system, Japanese people are used to working with various titles. But here in the U.S., more value is placed on experience, expertise and relationships and how these are built over time by working in the same field. I very much prefer the American approach on this front.

TITL: WOWOW is essentially the Japan version of HBO – how do you feel about the comparisons, and would you agree with them?

KW: While there is a difference in brand name recognition worldwide, where HBO is bigger and more widely recognized, I think HBO and WOWOW are alike in that the two companies strive to be the preeminent suppliers of premium content.

Comparing WOWOW with HBO is not an apples to apples comparison though. The base systems are different. In Japan, people don’t need to pay any fees to watch network TV and many households still do not carry cable nor satellite. WOWOW as a business is not worried about chord cutting in the same way HBO and other television channels have been, but are intelligently adapting to now. Viewers would have been able to subscribe to WOWOW directly since the launch of our service in 1991.

Systems aside, when it comes to programming, I think WOWOW has similar programming selection criteria to HBO, and that is a great thing for audiences who expect the best quality of movies, TV series and events. As a premium pay television service, we would like to show only best quality content from all over the world to our subscribers. For example, we broadcast movies that have had great box office results in Japan from all major studios and also great quality movies from all over the world such as awarded films at film festivals.

WOWOW curates the best content in each area. We have aired four major tennis tournaments, since we consider them the premiere tennis events; licensed the best American shows every year; produced top original documentaries and TV series, which were created with very talented Japanese creators and Japanese artists; and started doing co-productions five years ago to produce our original programs with international creators and artists.

TITL: Your job has allowed you to work with Martin Scorsese and executive produce his documentary “The New York Review of Books: A 50 Year Argument.” How did you get involved with that project and how did you find working with such a highly respected individual?

KW: It was through my relationship with a sales agent whom I worked with on the documentary “Cathedrals of Culture.” She informed me that Martin Scorsese was coming to Berlin at the time I was there for the world premiere of ‘Cathedrals”, and that he would be giving a presentation about his next passion project. So naturally, I rearranged my travel to attend his presentation and began thinking about ways to structure working together. I had twice interviewed Martin before, for my program in Japan, but of course this was a totally different interaction and I was very excited about this opportunity.

Martin Scorsese is fascinating and truly brilliant. I don’t know how he handles all the things he has going on in his world. He remembers every detail of everything he has seen and done and knows how he should handle every deal and circumstance!!! His knowledge of movies is second to none. For example, I learned quickly that he has more knowledgeable of Japanese films and Japanese directors than me. I was also fascinated with the fact that he doesn’t create any walls between himself and newcomers in the business. He treats everyone equally – with respect. That says a lot about his character and composition. I really hope I can join another project of his again in the near future!

TITL: You’ve also handled negotiations for projects involving Robert Redford, Wim Wenders and others. Given the pressure you must feel in those situations, how do you stay focused and relaxed? 

KW: In these situations my feelings were more of excitement than pressure! I of course knew all about the legendary Robert Redford and Wim Wenders before I started to work on the project. I just felt that if I joined their project, I would rather enjoy the experience and be fully immersed and contribute rather than be shy and passive! One thing I’ve always kept in mind since the first day I started as a producer is that I want all people who work with me to want to work with me again, even after challenging times like a hard negotiation or having creative differences. This is my goal for everybody who has worked with me. I hope they felt that way too.

TITL: Is there any one of projects/acquisitions you’re particularly proud of? If so, which is and why?

KW: Producing a film or event is so difficult that I feel a great sense of accomplishment with all the projects I have had the privilege to be involved in, and am proud of every one! If I have to single out one project though, I would say a small mini-documentary about Baz Luhrmann was especially gratifying for me. This was a passion project of mine in 2003 and WOWOW at the time couldn’t understand why I would produce this particular documentary. But I felt it was necessary for me to introduce our subscribers to Baz Luhrmannn’s vision and his unique way of thinking, as well as the people surrounding him in his private studio. I really felt this program would inspire WOWOW viewers and encourage them to purse their dreams.

I remember telling my boss at the time that I would put my own money into producing this program, but I needed to have a slot for broadcasting it. In the end, I got a very small budget approved by WOWOW, which is still the lowest budget I’ve ever had to work with, and we made a great documentary. To this day, I watch this program whenever I have difficulties because it reminds me where I came from and encourages me to enjoy the process, even if it’s very tough, to achieve my goals.

TITL: Are there any projects or negotiations underway you can tell me about?

KW: This is a very exciting time at WOWOW as I have five projects currently in development. I can’t reveal many details just yet, other than to say they will all be narrative features. I think audiences will be excited when we make the announcements very soon!

TITL: With the rise in social media and illegal streaming sites, are you finding your job any harder to do in terms of being able to get a good deal for clients and broadcasters who fret about audience figures and the like?

KW: This is a great question. The situation stemming from evolving technologies definitely costs us more than before and forces us to spend much more time dealing with agreements and recognizing and addressing new technology related components. Generally speaking, Japan is as advanced technologically as any nation, but it seems our problems and the serious issues that arise are at a lower volume compared to other technically advanced countries.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps and aim for a career such as yours? What three things would you say they need in order to get their foot in the door?

KW: You have to be strong enough and confident enough to really be yourself and should try to enjoy every step of the journey to realizing your dreams. Everyone’s experiences and encounters will ultimately be useful. Life is like a circle! Now you might see your experiences and encounters like many dots, but in the near future these dots will be dot-line and then will be continuous line!

Three things are 1.) Really get to know yourself well – meaning know your strong points (what you are best at) and also your weak points. 2.) Don’t be afraid to take chances, but be well prepared to take chances since you don’t know when they come 3.) Building trusting relationships with people you would like to work

TITL: Finally then, where do you see the future of broadcasting going in the years to come, and what would you most like to see the industry take on board/bring to fruition for both those in the industry and TV/film fans?

KW: One thing that never changes is that “great content” has staying power. It will live on forever. The only thing that will change is how it is consumed – from a big screen to a small watch. Talented PEOPLE have, and will be, the key to the creation of great content. AI cannot create content with the warmth of people. We have to keep creating great content but consider which type of content to fit which type of media.

For more information on WOWOW, visit the website.