But with the challenge of wanting to make a totally livable wage of just her vocal career, Meredith knows something would have to change. She reminds herself that “what I think is not that great, people would still love.” When we asked about the possibility of performing more, she reminisced about her time in Germany with Christopher Von Deylen (aka Schiller). She notes how that was “without a doubt the most validating and most wonderful and fun experience in my whole life,” as the event that allowed to self-identify as a singer. Getting paid to perform as a vocalist though? That proved to be entirely more difficult.
We know that many of you out there are also trying to make a career in dance music so we asked Meredith for advice to aspiring vocalists. First thing, be fearless: “There’s really no one that’s out of your league.” If you have a song, send it to people. If you want to work with someone, get in touch. Her introduction to Boom Jinx came only after she e-mailed Jono Grant, Paavo Siljamäki, and Tony McGuinness of Above and Beyond. And although her original intent was to work with Above & Beyond, Jono got back to her within a few hours and put her in touch with Øistein. It doesn’t matter how unknown you are; “In fact, they prefer that you not be known because they’d rather be the ones to discover you. So, just send it.” To this point though, Meredith does caution that some male producers get very possessive. Even though they might be working with 5 other vocalists, they want you to be exclusive.
And although she realized that her own selectivity was sometimes prohibitive, she still strongly encouraged people not to go out and put their names on everything.
“I would definitely advise that people don’t just do it to do it. If the song is not moving you, if it’s not inspiring to you, don’t try to make it work just because you want to have a dance track out there. Wait until it really hits you in the feels.”
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they’re tough and related to money. “Young people need to know they are allowed to ask [for money upfront]. But, that they also need to keep in mind with the label they are working with.” Obviously, if you are working with a bedroom label run by one or two people, they aren’t going to have the budget to pay you a lot (or at all) up front. But if you’re working with an artist releasing something on a major label, you should be paid immediately for your services, and expect somewhere in the range of $300-1000 per track. And, it’s worth noting that the size of your advance has as much to do with the notoriety of the producer as the size of the label.
As for the recording side of things goes, develop a recording relationship with someone who is dedicated enough to learn your style. Just like with producers, finding the right recording engineer is crucial in getting everything to sound right. And even though it’s easier than ever to record yourself, for many people, Meredith included, this is not the best option. As she puts it, “If I taught myself to lay down my own vocals I would just keep trying and trying, never quite knowing if I found that right sound.”
And while you’re waiting for that magical piece to come, it would be well worth it to acquaint yourself with the Vocalist Songwriters Alliance. For anyone looking to break into the industry, this group is a serious asset. Founded by Antonia Lucas and regularly touted by bigwigs Audrey Gallagher and Cristina Soto, The VSA will help you with everything you could imagine: From what to ask for in an advance to looking over writing up contracts to warning you of scummy labels and producers. It’s a great forum for dance music writers to compare notes, look at weird contracts, and build a community.
As we wrapped up, Meredith was kind enough to let us in on what’s next. With the Classics Only Tour finished up, Josh Gabriel has a bit more free time on his hands and as we know, is looking to get more tracks produced. So, for all you Winter Kills fans out there, stay tuned. We were also treated to a sneak preview of You Are – her incredibly powerful “fuck you, super mega breakup anthem” produced by Noah Neiman, due out on Enhanced Progressive before the end of the year. You can also expect an original with Kevin Wild & Judah after the success of their remix of The Dark. Beyond that, Meredith hopes to find herself working on some super nostalgic tunes; you know, that old school dreamy trance that all the veterans made. And, if she has her way, she’ll eventually get around to a downtempo project, teach herself piano, and produce an acoustic album. Dreaming big has worked for her so far, why stop now?
If you want to hear Meredith’s work played out in the club, you can bet that will happen this Saturday at Foundation when Boom Jinx comes to town. And while we certainly can’t promise anything, you might just get to hear those vocals live.
Are you trying to break into the scene? We want to know! Tell us about your struggles and successes below in the comments or on Facebook.
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