In our latest edition of Inside The Industry, Editor Maria Gironas had the opportunity to speak with Chantilly Wryck (singer/songwriter) and Andrew West (music publishing, Razor & Tie Records), two of the leading organizers of the New York-based industry event Noise Collective. They discuss how they work to bring the NY music community closer together, what goes into planning the events, advice for up-and-coming students and musicians, and much more.
Maria: Can you guys introduce yourselves and tell me a little bit about what you do at your respective industries?
Chantilly: My name is Chantilly and I’m a songwriter/singer for a number of years. I’m also a music teacher and blogger. I got involved with the Noise Collective to meet more people and help along with all the other amazing founding members to bring the music community in New York closer together.
Andrew West: I started interning at a record label called Razor & Tie about two years ago. I’m currently doing the A&R for the publishing side of the company and the owner’s assistant as well. We handle a lot of metal and rock bands. I’ve been doing that for a couple of years. Within that period, I met the original members of Noise Collective about two years ago as well. My friend Damon [Bodine] was the founder and I met him two years ago. New York is a bit saturated with bands and we wanted to do something original and fresh. It seemed like a great idea, so I was on board from the start. I wanted to bring bands and people who haven’t heard of the music before into one place.
Maria: Can you describe what Noise Collective essentially is and how often you guys meet?
Chantilly: Noise Collective got started because the New York music industry, especially from a musician’s perspective, is a hard place to develop relationships. We wanted to make a no-stress environment for musicians and industry to hang out in and talk to anybody without an air of exclusivity. We just wanted a place where everybody can come together.
Andrew: Coming from the industry side, it’s great because you have booking agents, managers and promoters that come out. It’s a way to find other people and music, especially singer/songwriters and bands on how to develop their own careers, how to book shows, hire managers, etc. Even though the internet is a beast of its own, it’s a lot better to gain advice from people who are in the same room as you. On the industry side, it’s great. You get to meet a ton of new bands and singer/songwriters and hear new music. It all comes together. That’s what I get out of it personally and a lot of people would agree that it’s a great thing to have, especially in a city like New York. It can be so tough because there are millions of bands out there.
Chantilly: Touching on what I said about the face-to-face connection, that’s especially important in today’s industry where so much is on the internet and connections happen that way. It’s important for people to see each other.
Maria: That leads into my other question – as far as The Noise Collective for you two personally, can you name a certain interaction that sticks out to you?
Chantilly: I can be an introverted person sometimes and it’s hard to force myself to go and meet people despite being a singer/songwriter and playing shows. A couple Noise Collectives ago, I was having a panic attack like, “oh my god, there’s so many people.” I got overwhelmed, but it turned out to be the best Noise Collective ever. Every person I talked to, I had met before and they made me feel totally comfortable. Everything was okay and there weren’t stressful reactions. I guess I can’t pinpoint one specific instance, but everyone I talked to was so receptive, awesome and genuine.
Andrew: I’m naturally shy, but I love meeting people. I try to meet as many people as I can on a weekly basis. We have this thing called “The Playlist”. That’s when bands can come in and submit their own music. The music for the night are bands from New York City that submit their music to get played. Last Noise Collective, I was talking to a band and they stopped mid-conversation like “What?! This is my band being played right now.” Those are the types of things that make it worthwhile in the end, especially when bands get to hear themselves in an area with a lot of people and industry [folks] around. We’ve been doing it for a year and a half now, so there are many times where you meet people and become really great friends. I’ve become great friends with multiple people in the past year and a half doing this which is really great. Every Noise Collective is a little different as we keep bringing out different people.
Maria: What goes into planning Noise Collective events?
Andrew: We’ve done a lot of testing of ideas and how they work. We meet every Sunday for about three to four hours. It can get overwhelming if you don’t plan it because as soon as you’re done with one, you have to plan the next one. For this month, we are teaming up with Catalyst [Publicity Group] to spotlight their bands. We meet up and figure out what we can do different to keep people excited. We have launched a new website to keep people informed on what is happening in the industry. The website is a cross between Billboard and Vice and are slowly getting a team built regarding that. Every month is the same regarding figuring out what bands we can bring in, what music can we play, what spotlight guest can we have that could be ranging from a manager or booking agent. We try to plan that out, then we have the mailing list and a facebook event a few weeks prior to the event happening. We’re starting to get sponsors involved. Catalyst is our first one, but we are reaching out to more of the tech side like Spotify and Shazam.
Chantilly: Some months, we try to do different things. We had a holiday event where we had speed networking where there were 16 people in the music industry (booking, A&R). There were sign-ups where people would have a certain amount of time giving their pitch and then move on to the next person. We also do things like giveaways – for instance on Christmas, someone could bring things from their band that they think someone would want and at the end of the night, people would draw to take things. Just looking for new things to get people excited about the events.
Andrew: It’s the same idea every time, so it’s not too hard collecting the whole idea of it. It’s just thinking of things every month whether it be a change of venue. We have an event for CMJ and planning to do it again this year. It’s just about switching things up every now and then to keep interest in our events.
Maria: One thing I hear from friends that go is that Noise Collective is unique in that it takes away the misconception that people in the industry are mean people who don’t want to help. How do you guys feel about the possible misconception about the music industry and how Noise Collective breaks down that barrier?
Andrew: It definitely does have that misconception. It goes back to six/seven years ago when I was in a band. The issue is a lot of people are super nice, but they don’t return your emails – not because it’s anyone’s fault, but because there are millions of bands out there. It’s hard to get in touch with everyone through email and it’s less personal. Once you’re in a room together, it’s completely different. You have one-on-one time where you can give advice. It just seems like that on my side because you may not have the time to get to everyone’s email. It’s something that I’ve definitely been working on. Sometimes it’s hard, but with Noise Collective, everyone knows that people are going to be there to hang out and talk. After a while, they realize that the majority of the music industry is really nice.
Chantilly: That’s one thing I’ve developed a consciousness about, especially coming from the songwriter side. Before I started working with everybody, I found that Noise Collective is extremely helpful. You would go to places like shows or CMJ/conferences and music industry people where these mythological creatures that you would have to hunt down and try to get their emails. When I started working closely with people from the music industry, they aren’t these people who are far above you. The majority of them are normal people with jobs that get overwhelmed with the sheer number of requests. It gives a different perspective and demystifies the whole process which I found helpful.
Maria: From an industry and singer/songwriter perspective, what do you guys feel is the best advice for an upcoming student or person looking to break in the industry?
Chantilly: My advice is that there are no shortcuts for a band or songwriter. If you don’t have something to offer when you are meeting these people – it’s not necessarily you. Always work to be better, whatever that means to you. Always try to reach the next level by questioning your art and figuring out if it could sound the best that it can. The next bit of advice is to just keep at it and do what you can with every chunk and bit that you can do at a time.
Andrew: From an industry perspective, the best advice that I can give – everyone told me to start interning junior year, but I think you should start earlier than that, freshman or sophomore year at any music company. Keep up to date with the style of music that you like by reading Billboard or any music blog. See who books them, manages them, if they are involved with a management company and reach out to them. As long as you go into a company and know about the type of music that you like, it shouldn’t be impossible. I always get the question, “How do you start interning?” Read up on the things you like to read and look at the bands you like and what do they need? I did three or four internships. It will pay off, especially if you’re passionate about music.
Maria: Going into my final two questions, with the Noise Collective, how could anyone get involved?
Andrew: We are looking for members all the time to help us grow and expand. We just launched in Buffalo in June. I joined because I went to the first three or four events and they saw that I was passionate. Any person who shows that type of mentality, we would love to have them on the Noise team. There are seven or eight of us now, but we are always looking to expand.
Chantilly: Yeah, right now we have a core group of people who have either been there from the beginning or are consistently around the event. A lot of times we ask people to be involved that have been coming to the events that we notice are really interested in what we do and hungry to be involved to help out the music community. We have had people cycle through, but we are looking for people to stay and do the work.
Maria: One big question I have regarding the modern state of the music industry regarding you two: Andrew, do you think that people can still start their own labels and be able to be successful from that aspect? From a singer/songwriter perspective, Chantilly, how do you feel that’s changed in the past year alone?
Chantilly: I don’t really know how to answer that. I know that a lot of people are still finding success with that by signing publishing deals or they could have a great solo career with touring a lot. With what I’ve been hearing through Andrew and Noise Collective staff is that you want to get involved with a producer because they are always on the lookout for new tracks. Working with people and working with producers may be helpful.
Andrew: From the industry perspective regarding people starting their own labels and finding success – absolutely. I can draw from the Warped Tour perspective. A lot of those labels – the music speaks first. Pure Noise Records has just been signing bands that are amazing and selling albums because people are involved in that brand. Jake [Round, founder] just knows great music. All these new labels find a way to make it work. As long as the music is there and you give it 110% – it will happen and people will buy the music. It doesn’t matter what genre it’s in. It’s tough with illegal downloading and streaming where we are finding how to pay artists and labels through that. I’m very excited about the future of new labels and music.
Maria: Final Questions, for anyone reading this interview – why should I go to the Noise Collective?
Chantilly: We strive so much to have that air of non-exclusivity. We really try hard to break down those barriers and make sure that people have that genuine connection with each other. Not just exchanging business cards. You can walk up to anybody at the event and just introduce yourself without it being weird or awkward. I’ve tried going to other events and people look at me like a stranger. Sometimes New York isn’t that type of place, but at Noise Collective you can do that and meet anybody there.
Andrew: The reason to go is the same reason we started it. I moved to New York two years ago and didn’t really know anyone. I’ve met so many nice people. Nobody is going to turn you away at a Noise Collective event. If you like music and are passionate about something that you do – it doesn’t have to be music, It could be anything that you can find common ground on. People are going to accept you as yourself. It’s very easy to meet people who are really friendly at a Noise Collective event because it’s what we branded it as.
Chantilly: There’s always the potential to meet new people, but also a lot of the same people come back. If you come to a lot of the events, there are usually some familiar faces. That, for me is how a lot of my connections formed at this event. You just see the same people again and again and you develop a friendship. That is very comforting.
Andrew: If you see someone sitting alone, we make sure to introduce ourselves, “Hey have you met my friend, he plays drums for this band.” It’s very easy to find someone who has common ground and could help them in the long run.
The latest Noise Collective event, hosted by The Catalyst Publicity Group, is taking place this evening at 8 pm. It is a free event that includes artists, promoters, record label representatives, and many more folks from all corners of the music industry. If you are in NYC or in the area this evening, we highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to meet some fantastic people and get your own name out there!
You can find more information on the flyer below and via the Facebook event listing.