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Conversations With Thomas Dolby and Lindi Ortega, Plus Exclusives From Brett Dennen and Eric Hall

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photo credit: Bruce + Jana

A Conversation with Thomas Dolby

Mike Ragogna: Hi Thomas, how are you?

Thomas Dolby: Hello Mike, I'm okay.

MR: Are you here? Are you in England? On your boat?

TD: I'm in the Bay area. I'm actually on a boat in the harbor in Tiburron.

MR: Well, what's nice about that is that is leads us right into your latest project, The Invisible Lighthouse.

TD: Oh, it does, indeed, yes.

MR: Let's just jump right into that. This is really a special project for you. Your film, The Invisible Lighthouse, has already received a few awards and you're taking that on a twenty-day tour of historic arthouse cinemas and independent film festivals. Now, you've always used multi-media but what made you want to document that particular lighthouse? What did it mean to you?

TD: By the way, we say "transmedia" these days, Mike.

MR: I stand transcorrected!

TD: [laughs] It's the same thing, it just sounds a bit less nineties. So this particular lighthouse in England I've seen flashing on my bedroom walls since I was a little boy and I found out last year that they were going to close it down because its foundations are being threatened with erosion from The North Sea and also the general trend is toward decommisioning lighthouses because ships don't really need them these days because of SatNav. When I found this out, it made me very sad initially because it had such strong memories for me and I decided I needed to document it in some way. I'd made an album and I'd made a game that we've talked about in the past and we decided to try a new medium, which was film. I had very little experience in the area other than doing some of my early music videos, but I sort of taught myself and I bought an affordable video kit, which now, of course, like everything else, professional quality has come down the street level so it lets DIY people like myself dive in and mess around with stuff without the need for a crew and a budget and shooting permits and things like that.

MR: Additionally, you used some interesting technology to record the project such as drones, and you did it in a clandestine way. Why was that?

TD: The lighthouse was on an island, which was formerly owned by the ministry of defense and they did all sorts of experimental weapons tests in there throughout the twentieth century. They don't like people to go wandering around out there because there are unexploded bombs, and it's ecologically a very unusual piece of land. There are all sorts of botanical gems that live out there and they don't want people wandering around. So I got very little cooperation, really, from the authorities, and that's what gave me the idea of doing this kind of clandestine commando raid. I found that you can get spy cameras and so on and I bought a bunch of them and I stuck them on my speedboat and put them on sticks and walked around the island. I had this remote-controlled quadracopter with a little HD camera in it that you'd fly from an iPhone. I had a very narrow window just after dawn when I could shoot and I figured if I got arrested or something, I'd just keep the cameras rolling and hopefully integrate it. So I got some really special footage and you'll see the way it works on film. It overall climaxes with the island, but it explores some childhood memories and the unreliability of them and how we sort of amplify our childhood memories. But the climax on the island is just a King Lear-type crisis of conscience and memory.

MR: Beautiful, Thomas. Now that its been decomissioned, does this motivate you to get people together to salvage it as a historical landmark?

TD: There's little that can be done with that one because it is eventually going to fall into the sea. There've been eleven lighthouses recorded on the island and they've all fallen under the waves. However, in the USA, there are thousands of lighthouses around the coast here and there is a doomsday list of forty-six that are at peril from either erosion or vandalism. So I do want to use this tour to draw attention to those. Some of them are passing into the private domain, being turned into residences or bed and breakfasts or whatever, but the problem is that they're under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard and they're nothing but a drain on resources since they're navigationally unnecessary now. But I just feel like most people that you meet have a memory of one lighthouse or another. They're so evocative and so comforting somehow. It just seems very sad that we would let these slip away.

MR: In addition to the film, I'm imagining that the presentations you'll be making will be accompanied by music.

TD: Yes, definitely. When I perform live, I project the film and we create the soundtrack entirely live on stage. I'm playing an instrumental score and I'm singing half a dozen songs, many of which relate to the area. My accomplice Blake Leyh is a world-class sound designer and he's doing live Foley effects. Foley is things like footsteps and the rustling of leaves and cloth and things like that.

MR: So again, there you are employing new technologies to express your creativity. At this point, do you seek it out or does it seek you out?

TD: I think, really, I love being at the cusp of something. Fifteen or twenty years ago, music technology got cheap enough that now people could make records in their back room and distribute them over the internet. That completely changed the music business. Up to that point, the record companies had been the gatekeepers because in order to make a record and get it out, there was only one way to do that--with a record contract, which filtered out a lot of people who may have been the next Lennon or McCartney or not. But technology changed all of that and so it's hugely liberating to a lot of artists. There's a lot of music happening now, some of it's very mediocre, but there are also some diamonds in the rough that we may never had heard otherwise. The same thing is now happening with film and video because for a couple of grand, you can buy a DSLR camera, which is capable of making feature films. At some of these film festivals I've been to, I've seen ninety minute features that have been made by a bunch of friends who got together and maxed out their credit cards, wrote scripts and went out and made movies. Specifically, many of them are zombie movies, but they'll be more diverse over time. My story is a very personal story and if I had to get it funded through a studio, it probably never would've gotten hold.

MR: Obviously you had a great time creating this work and it was an adventure as are a lot of the things that you and I talk about. What are you looking at for the future now that you're an award-winning filmmaker?

TD: I'm not headed to Hollywood to pitch feature film ideas. [laughs] I like the maverick aspect of it, that I'm able to do it without anybody breathing down my neck. So I may do more, I may look for other people's stories that I can tell. But if I go back to doing creative projects based on my own music, I now have a new string to my bow, which is that there can be a film component to it. Video is a very powerful viral medium on the internet; it's probably the most powerful. Additionally, some of these cinemas that I'm going to I'm finding are willing to open up to new formats, more theatrical events, and be more of a community-friendly kind of venue where they're taking out their seats and installing leather sofas; you can bring a panini and a glass of wine with you and do your wifi. They want to set themselves apart from the mass-market movie theater in a strip mall.

MR: As it's getting more comfortable for everybody, do you feel that there's perhaps another technology that's evolving out of the maverick approach to filmmaking?

TD: I think it would certainly happen and I think there are probably young filmmakers with some great ideas that we're going to see that work, and they're going to defy categorization and pigeonholing that we're used to in film and TV.

MR: And with film schools, the way they teach has to be evolving, changing with respect to these new innovations.

TD: Yeah, I think it makes film school more valuable because although the consumer world is changing very fast, filmmaking fundamentals still apply. The ability to frame and compose and set up your shots and edit, all of those fundamentals are still important. It's also the same in music if you want to go to school for learning music. You can pick up iPhone synthesizers in your own time, but you might want to go to school to learn analog mixers and tape machines because those fundamentals are still at the heart of it.

MR: It seems we're reached a point where everybody has gotten pretty comfortable bringing newer technologies into their households.

TD: Well, yeah, they used to say that one in three American households had a guitar. At least one in three now have got an iPhone app, which is capable of making a film or a record. The thing about the music industry is that despite their woes about all of us dipping into their profitability, at the end of the day, they should be very happy because they have to remember that even when they were hugely profitable, ninety percent of what they made was a loss and was basically underwritten by the occasional hit. They had no idea of how successful something was going to be, so they just threw some of songs up on the wall to see what would stick. The advantage of everybody doing it themselves at a certain level ought to be that Hollywood and the record industry can see what's going to be popular with the public before they pull the trigger on it and start spending big bucks on it. I do always think there will be an extra level of commercialism, which can only be attained by a handful of small companies that really have their arms around that level of marketing and distribution. But at the end of the day, their possibilities should be better than ever because instead of wasting the cost of the ninety percent to find out what's going to fly, they can focus their marketing efforts on stuff they knew is going to be popular. Does that make sense?

MR: Yes. And also it seems like the culture will naturally streamline itself as well. How many more millions of videos are going to be able to go up on YouTube? There'll be some learning curve for everybody and some place where this is all going. Now you're somebody who gives TED talks, so you're very much in touch with the latest technologies in the latest circles. Doesn't it feel like something major has been boiling up technology-wise over the last few years?

TD: Oh, hopefully. Hopefully, we'll get past this period where we're sort of on the cusp of seeing these technologies and a disintermediation of the old way of doing things, which is such a threat. I think that what will follow on once the dust settles is something new that many of us hadn't anticipated. I'm sort of a glass half full guy and I would much rather be the one who jumps in there and tries to take creative advantage of the changes rather than sit back and moan about how the old ways are dying out.

MR: Spoken like a true innovator! May I ask you, are you also going to put out a physical soundtrack or a download of the music of The Invisible Lighthouse?

TD: For now, the only way to see the film is to come and see the show. It's evolving all the time, even on our tour bus we're making changes night to night and integrating new things. When the tour is over, I'm going to think about a way to put it out commercially, but that would actually mean drawing a line under it and calling it finished, and that would be a bit of a shame.

MR: Hey, during the tour, is there creative improvisation on stage?

TD: Yeah, there is definitely some fluidity with it. I've only done two shows so far with the Foley artist Blake Leyh, and he's got lots of great ideas, so we're going to carry on trying to mold the thing over time.

MR: Oh, to be at that twentieth performance.

TD: Exactly.

MR: Thomas I always ask you this, let's do it again. What advice do you have for new artists?

TD: I almost feel like they don't need my advice because it's such a wide world for them to explore without needing to pay for an A&R man. But I think the thing is the conventional advice from the old guard in the film industry is, "Oh, it's all about the arc of story." I actually don't think that's the case. I think that today's generation have, in a way, gotten beyond merely story telling and they've gotten into just being in the moment. In a game, you create the moment yourself with the context and there doesn't need to be the through line of a story. So in my film, it's almost like the workings of your mind. Your private thoughts don't have a linear storyline, they jump around, you get free association. My film has a lot more of that than a conventional film story arc.

MR: Sweet. What cities are you visiting during the tour?

TD: I'm looking forward to going all across the country.

MR: Are you looking forward to playing a couple of these places because of sentimental reasons or whatever?

TD: I like playing old theatres like The Royal in Detroit, really because they just have a sense of history to them and it just seems very appropriate given the subject matter of Lighthouse. I hope that the USA will take notice because I think the lighthouses around the coast... In a young country, history is not something that you stumble across every day. I think there's such a history and a legacy with the lighthouses that watched over and withheld invasions and weathered hurricanes and sea battles and so on, I just hope we can save American lighthouses.

MR: Yeah, and to many, lighthouses represent so much more than their history as well.

TD: They're very comforting, because you know how reassuring they've been to sailors and fishermen. In our case, it's like talking about the great beacon light of hope. I think the beam from a lighthouse is what it conjures up.

MR: Thomas, thank you very much for the time and all the best with the project. I can't wait to see it.

TD: It was nice talking to you.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

BRETT DENNEN'S "WHEN WE WERE YOUNG" EXCLUSIVE

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photo credit: Ben Moon

According to Brett Dennen...

"When I was a kid, we used to have dance parties in the living room whenever we had family over. We would take our shoes off and dance in our socks on the wood floor to one of my parents' records. The adults wood dance too. This was the kind of imagery that I went to when writing the song. As though I were one of the adults. One of my aunts or uncles, dancing with the kids, sliding around in socks on the hardwood floor with the stereo cranked. I don't even remember the song. But I remember the dancing. That expression, itself is the anthem for the young and the young at heart. And that's what I want this song to be."

TOUR DATES:

October 25 Austin, TX Central Presbyterian Church
October 27 Mobile, AL Soul Kitchen
October 28 Charleston, SC Music Farm
October 29 Wilmington, NC Ziggy's By The Sea
October 30 Asheville, NC The Grey Eagle
November 1 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
November 2 New York, NY Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
November 4 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe at Old National Centre
November 5 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall
November 6 Ann Arbor, MI Blind Pig
November 8 Madison, WI Majestic Theatre
November 9 Minneapolis, MN Cedar Cultural Center
November 11 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
November 12 Salt Lake City, UT The State Room
November 15 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern
November 16 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour
November 18 San Francisco, CA The Independent
November 20 Boise, ID Egyptian Theatre
November 22 Portland, OR Aladdin Theater
November 23 Seattle, WA The Triple Door

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A Converation with Lindi Ortega

Mike Ragogna: Lindi!

Lindi Ortega: Mike, how are you doing?

MR: All's swell, how are you?

LO: I'm well. I had a crazy night of karaoke last night but I'm doing good.

MR: Oh, I want to hear all about it! What songs did you sing?

LO: I was doing some of the oldies last night, like "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" and "Be My Baby."

MR: I imagine you would relate to a lot of the girl groups.

LO: Yeah, I did do a couple of other ones, too. I did "Wild Horses" by Rolling Stones.

MR: So a fun time was had by all and you'll probably do a karaoke version of Tin Star for people to sing along with, right?

LO: That would be cool. It'd be kind of neat to show up at a karaoke bar and my song is there.

MR: Okay then, let's at least sing Tin Star's praises! It seems to contain the concept of the struggle artists have to go through. You wouldn't know anything about that.

LO: Oh, not me. It's only taken me a hundred years to get to where I am so I wouldn't have a clue. [laughs] It's totally something that I know well and also something, the parallels of a struggling artist living in a city filled with stars, is what Nashville is to me. It's very interesting being here. It really struck a chord with me, especially because I'm kind of at a level now where things are starting to happen in places, which is lovely, but I can very much relate because I still do have those shows around town. I can very much relate to the struggling artists and the people that are playing for tips and stuff like that, so I thought I would write a song in tribute to the people in this city and anywhere who are out there doing their passion, something creative as a labor of love. They might not get the fame or the glory for it; it's really about the level of what they do.

MR: Emphasizing that theme, you're relating the experience to yourself in "All These Cats."

LO: Yes, that's right. That one's a little more sassy than "Tin Star." It's kind of in the same vein as a song from my first record called "I'm No Elvis Presley." When you play shows and showcases and stuff, sometimes you have people that try to intimidate you or stare you down and make you feel like you don't belong there. That was a song that I wrote just to say, "You know what? I'm here, it took me a while to get here, and I'm not going anywhere." So that was a sassy little number.

MR: Nice. Lindi, you kind of do put out sassy little albums. Little Red Boots and Cigarettes And Truckstops aren't exactly, "Hi, I'm a gentle, frail flower."

LO: [laughs] That's true.

MR: "Songs About" has an interesting concept behind it. What are your favorite kinds of songs? When you hear something, what moves you?

LO: Gosh, I love all songs. I think music is what helps us, or it helps me, anyway, get through life. Whenever I'm feeling happy, I love to put on a happy song; whenever I'm feeling sad, I put on a sad song and I feel like the songs speak to me and help me through those moments. So that song, "Songs About," is really about all of those songs that I've written and the themes that I've written about. I'm just talking about how I'm writing from the soul and how it's coming from a real place. The last line is, "Songs from the soul, because that's all I know." That's what I've been trying to convey to people. It's not put on, it's not a show. I'm being me and I'm trying to relate my experiences because I want to show people that are feeling lonely that they're not the only ones that are feeling like that. People that are feeling sad are not the only ones. It was really just a song to say, "Hey, this is real."

MR: With "Waiting For My Luck To Change," you sum up, nicely, the concept of getting over your troubles since "...the sun is shining above the clouds."

LO: That's true, yeah, and I actually got the idea for that song while I was flying. I do a lot of flying because I tour all the time and I noticed that every time I get above the clouds, the sun is always shining and I just thought that was a beautiful thing. I think it's beautiful that you can rise above the clouds like that. Everybody's encountered moments of bad luck in their life and sometimes people are down and out. I wrote that song for people that are looking to turn their luck around and have a bit of positivity.

MR: In "Lived And Died Alone," you're using a concept, which is a little unusual to try to prove a point. Would you go into that, what spurred that on?

LO: Sometimes I sit and think about things that I'm not sure other people sit and think about, or maybe they do, but I write about them. I was thinking about people who spend their whole lives lonely, people who maybe their parents died when they were young and they didn't have family and they just spent their whole lives alone and they died alone and nobody came to their funerals and I was just thinking about how sad that was. I just wanted to write a love song for those people to let them know that I'm thinking about them even if they're no longer here. It was just a love song to all the people who lived and died alone.

MR: You mentioned touring before. What is that like these days and what have you been doing since the last album?

LO: Touring my butt off, playing a lot of festivals. My summer was kind of filled with festivals, which is so great. I do American and Canadian festivals and the Canadian festivals make you do these Songwriter in the Round things with other artists that come to the festival and it's really cool because you get introduced to the artists and sometimes you get to collaborate with them on stage, so that was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed doing that and I really enjoyed discovering some great new talent at these festivals. Another thing I did was I went to Scandinavia and I played a bunch of shows. I did Norway and Denmark and Sweden, and that was a lot of fun. I got to play some really great places and do some great sightseeing out there. We did some unconventional things. Instead of staying in hotels, we stayed on a boat and we stayed in a cabin in the woods. It was really quite an adventure. I've been having a lot of fun touring around and continually writing and being inspired. I bought a piano recently, so I'm writing a bunch of piano songs and re-imagining some cover tunes on the piano and making ballads of them, putting them up on Youtube for people to see. So yeah, I've just been having good, creative fun.

MR: How did you approach the songwriting on this album differently from, let's say, your last album, Cigarettes And Truck Stops?

LO: We had a new producer and a new set of musicians and I think it's always cool to do that because it breathes new life into the music and the songs. I told you I wrote a couple of songs on the piano that ended up being on the record and I think when you get new instruments, it inspires you to write in different ways. Also, it was really great to work with Dave Koz who's done Jason Isbell and Secret Sisters and Shooter Jennings. To have him and his way of interpreting my songs, I think made it a little different than the last two records, things like adding strings on "Tin Star," which gave it a seventies country feel, which is something I wouldn't have thought of, but he suggested it and we put it on and it made so much sense to me. I think also coming back to talking about being a musician in my life and where I'm at and touring and of course sprinkling that and dispersing that and other themes, which I've touched on in my other albums--romance and heartache and love. But I wanted to write again about being an artist--well "artist" is a funny word--being a musician and traveling and what life is like and what it's like to struggle and to sacrifice for something that you love and what it's like when you reach those forks in the road, situations that make it a little bit different. You either let it get the better of you or you charge on and it's about charging on and keeping going.

MR: What do you think of all these rave reviews that are happening? Are you believing it? Are you buying your own press?

LO: [laughs] I don't know, I just do what I do. I realize music is a very subjective thing, so not everyone is going to love what you do, and I'm very grateful that some people do and some people get it and they enjoy my music and people come to my shows. It's so nice to see that. When you tour, you can go out there and you can find a market for what you do and you don't necessarily have to have a hit song on the radio or be super famous for that kind of thing to occur. You just bring your music to the people and you can find an audience for it. I'm so glad that I've been able to do that.

MR: Maybe part of the reason is simply because you're not following the conventional paradigm for "country," although you're being accepted by people who love country music, proving your point in that way.

LO: Yeah, thank you. One of my favorite artists is Johnny Cash and I definitely look to him, career-wise, as a beacon for how I would love to come across musically because I feel like his music is respected by all genres, from hip-hop to punk to rock to country, and I think he's more than just a "country" artist. It's so great to be transcending like that and I hope that my music can do the same thing.

MR: I think using Johnny Cash is a great example of somebody who did it his way regardless of what the charts were, et cetera. Right on.

LO: Thanks. One of Hank Williams' most well-known songs was "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." A lot of people might have thought that was a hit for him, but it wasn't at all during his lifetime. It only ever reached forty-three on the Billboard charts and that wasn't till a dozen years after his death. I truly feel that everybody seems to be so focused on hits these days but I think it's beyond that. For me, it's important to try and reach people and connect with people with my words and what I'm trying to say and evoke some kind of emotion. Hopefully, that transcends and down the road, people might remember my songs and that might happen to me. I don't know, maybe not in my lifetime, but I don't know. Maybe, maybe not, but I aim for that.

MR: Hey, it's time for the traditional question. What advice do you have for new artists?

LO: For new artists? Gosh. I'd just say be you. Be you. Always be you and believe in you. That's what I say. Be you, be the best you you can be. [laughs]

MR: Is that what Lindi Ortega did?

LO: Yeah, I do my best to be myself. The music that I make is inspired by the music that I love and it comes from my heart and it comes from me. So I would hope that the new artists out there are writing from their heart as well because I think that's the best music.

MR: So what's your prediction for Lindi Ortega's 2014?

LO: What happens? I wish I was a fortune teller and I could tell you. I can only say this: I am perpetually inspired and I am always writing and I have so many ideas for projects and things that I want to do for projects that I hope will come to fruition in the next few years. I would love to do a duet album with a bunch of artists and co-write duets or do some covers or something like that. That's one plan I'd love to do. I think there are a couple of music videos in the future for this record. I'm actually pretty sure that there's one for "Tin Star," I know because I just shot it, so it will come out soon. I can predict that with accuracy. You know what? I bet you there's going to be another record coming up here because I cannot stop writing songs. I'm kind of addicted to it.

MR: At what point do you want to do the live album? Are you looking at that down the road, too?

LO: Yeah, I was discussing that with my team about trying to get people to come out and record the live shows and sort of do a span of the three albums that I have out now and maybe throw some covers in on that, too. So that's definitely something I would very much love to do and I hope that I get to do that soon.

MR: Anything we need to know about Lindi Ortega that we haven't discovered in our last three interviews?

LO: Anything you need to know?

MR: You know, your secret passion for Gummi Bears and Circus Peanuts.

LO: [laughs] My secret passion is storm chasing. I want to be a storm chaser! There's this guy named Reed Timmer who's a known storm chaser and I've been harrassing him on Twitter to let me go storm chasing with him in his car called "The Dominator" that he can drive into a tornado. I said if I had my version of "The Dominator" it would be called "The Dominatrix" and it would slap those tornadoes back into the sky.

MR: And of course you'd have your big red boot emblem on the back.

LO: Exactly! And I kind of want to dress like a super hero when I'm doing it as a storm chaser in my dominatrix car. I think I should do a tornado alley tour and just do songs about storms and all the proceeds from that tour and the album would go to helping victims of tornadoes.

MR: Oh, look at that! You mentioned storm chasing, The Dominatrix and superheroes, which has to lead us so to what the heck are you dressing up as this Halloween?

LO: What I go as every Halloween, which is a Dia De Los Muertos character. I just dress like a skeleton. If you couldn't tell by my song "Lived And Died Alone," I'm obsessed with skeletons and skulls and cemeteries. I've kind of got this weird morbid fascination with things like that.

MR: So you see every Tim Burton movie, I'd imagine?

LO: Yeah, I love Tim Burton, I think he's great. I love him a lot.

MR: Tim Burton...Lindi Ortega. You've gotta check out her music, dude. I've said too much. Lindi, it's always great to talk with you and I appreciate the time. All the best with the new album and your tour and your Dia De Los Muertos costume.

LO: Are you doing well? Nobody ever asks you, I bet.

MR: [laughs] Yeah, I know. What's up with that. Thank you for asking, Lindi! I'm doing very well. I'm about to go on a smooth jazz cruise to Mexico.

LO: Wow, that sounds amazing! I want to go on a music cruise, especially to Mexico! Tell all the Mexicans I say, "Hello," because I feel like I'm related to them. My dad's Mexican, so every time I see a Mexican person, I want to hug them. I feel like they're my brothers and sisters. So tell them that their sister says hello.

MR: Each and every one, you got it. Lindi! All the best with everything.

LO: You too, take care, Mike.

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

ERIC HALL'S "MY WORLD" EXCLUSIVE

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photo credit: Jamal Momone

According to Eric Hall...

"I feel that 'My World' will bring back the fun that music has been missing. It will also push music in a more creative direction that people have been waiting to hear."

The scoop...

While studying classical flute and alto sax in Jazz Studies, Eric caught the attention of Mary J. Blige's Musical Director Loren Dawson. Building a friendship with Loren gained his trust and respect, eventually earning Eric, his brother Danny, and long time friend Adam Burton an invitation to tour with Mary. The trio formed a Horn Section called DEA Horns, an acronym for their names (Danny, Eric, Adam). From there they toured and have played with Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Madonna, Kid Capri, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Jaheim, Ray Chew, Juelz Santana, Method Man, Diddy, Snoop Dogg, Jeremih, Chrisette Michelle, Shaggy, Sean Kingston, Slim from 112, Chico De Barge, Estelle, Melissa Ford, Fantasia, Regina Belle, Terrnece J, Ben E. King, Camron, Jim Jones, BeBe Winans, Cece Winans, Ne?Yo, Yolanda Adams, Keyshia Cole, Fred Hammond, Ledisi, Richard Smallwood, Cheryl Crow, James Taylor, Sheila E. Shirley Ceasar, Trey Songz, Marsha Ambrosious, Bob Mintzer, Joan Jett, Kid Kudi, Lionel Richie,Valerie Simpson, Mary Mary, Blitz The Ambassador, Sting, Carly Rae Jepsen, and many more.

FYI, in 2012, Eric teamed up with Kid Capri to produce the remix for Madonna's song "Masterpiece" off her album "MDNA." Currently, Eric and DEA Horns are touring with R&B mega star Trey Songz.