2018 – The Year of Buzz

We're thankful for all the organizations that help us spread the word this year

Reflecting back on 2018, there’s so much to be thankful for; so many people to be thankful for.  But to understand 2018, I really have to give credit where it’s due.  A few years ago, before I made Halo Askew a “legit” business, I adopted a couple philosophies from someone who’s made himself accessible to ask advice from:

1.   D.T.O. – Do The Opposite (but be smart about it).
2.  Always have something else to sell.
3.  Find someone who is more successful than yourself and ask them what they need.
4.  Always say yes.

Martin Atkins (PiL, Nine Inch Nails, Pigface)

Granted, I probably apply these ideas slightly outside of his normal context, but I don’t think he’d disagree that my application isn’t off base.  My personal music preferences usually lie in the Industrial category, but most of the buzz I have comes from Euro-Pop love songs.  Also, I don’t use social media for calls-to-action or to perpetuate a “persona”; I use it for everyday life (which drives my manager absolutely bonkers).  I never invested in a lot of merch (I stopped printing CD’s and now provide USB bracelets).  My highest selling product: Me!  My “something else” is providing audio technician and engineering services for large format events and productions (I’m a proud member of IATSE – the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).  And then for the last three years, I teamed up with Kim Cameron (who definitely fits under #3) and no matter what music-related service she needs, I say yes.   I consider DJing to be my “weakest link,” but when Kim offers me a stage, I say yes.  When she asks for a conventional Ragga track, I say yes.  When the shop foreman at Sound Associates asks if I can build a keyboard summing solution or a theatrical reading audio reinforcement system, I say yes. (It never fails that I find out it’s a high-profile gig after-the-fact).

Ok.  I’ll be honest.  I felt I needed that intro because of how many times, THIS YEAR ALONE, I’ve had to defend my business decisions to people who really thought I’m doing things “wrong” and I kinda realized that maybe I had done a piss poor job at connecting the dots in a more obvious way.  Here we go.  Hope that helps. 

Highlights of 2018

It sounds a little ridiculous, but I had some amazeballs gigs this year.

I headed up and mixed a theatrical reading of an upcoming jukebox musical by Britney Spears.  I was hired by David Weiser (Weisersound) to assist in providing keyboard support for Universal/NBC‘s Emmy Award Winning, Grammy Nominated “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.”  The super-sexy, super-swank, Cirque du Soleil-owned venue, Heart Ibiza, plastered my name (literally) all over Ibiza Town, Spain, and hosted Kim Cameron, myself, and Rocky On Percussion on their dope stage as special guests of the Ibiza Burlesque Festival.  Oh, and I was the Audio Assistant for Gettin’ The Band Back Together on Broadway.

Three tracks I produced this year (and their music videos) were given recognition by the Global Music Awards, the Latitude Film Awards, the European Independent Film Awards, and the Orlando Film Festival, while around sixteen international, independent film associations, including the Forwardian Film Society, honored Scumbag by Mars Roberge; a film that included my track with Elaine Benavides, Liquid Bluez.  There’s nothing that makes an eyeball bulge a little more than seeing your show supported by Pete fucking Tong‘s International Music Summit (sit in on a Skype call with Deadmau5 and his and Calvin Harris‘s manager: check).  Then there was that cool interview with Italy’s leading Lifestyle publication, Livein Style Magazine.

Against all odds, and with the help of my newly hired (and fellow CRAS grad) assistant, Lauren Neidenberg, I was able to DJ and perform at the Amsterdam Dance Event, Netherlands, hosted by Kashmir Lounge DJ Cafe.  At that show, I debuted Drive With Me (To The Edge of Space), an eccentric track, with eccentric remixes, with two of the women that I’ve worked with since we were in diapers, Wendi Hughes and Elaine Benavides, which went on to rank #25 in the Top 100 Progressive House charts at Beatport.  

The biggest music distributor in China, TenCent, picked up a couple, super weird Ambient tracks and placed them at five Chinese record labels, a major theme park placed a track in one of their halloween themed attractions, and I’m ending 2018 with a newly signed band, Ten Cent Toys, hired for another Universal/NBC live in concert production, and producing music for an upcoming animated children’s feature film (there’s rumor of voice over action on this one).  

And now, is that stupid call-to-action that I hate so much:

Does following a guy who works in professional entertainment AND talks about his step-kids, science experiments, and awesome lamb-chop recipes sound like something you’d be ok with?  

Follow my personal Facebook: @haloaskew.  

Do you like Industrial, House, Ambient, and Euro-Pop songs?

Please follow me on Spotify: Kris “Halo” Pierce or, if you’re feeling adventurous, check out my playlist, Halo Askew Entertainment, for a few hundred hours of music that I’m proud to a part of.

That’s A Wrap! – October

I’m back home in New Jersey after a whirlwind of appearances, parties, screenings, gigs, and general shenanigans abroad and domestic.  For me, it was successful on multiple fronts and I’m looking forward to exploring some of the new partnerships and friendships that were forged through-out.

Guitars Over Guns

Guitars Over Guns

Starting in Miami, I visited Citrus Grove Middle School with Kim Cameron and participated in a talk about how sometimes you have to be able to write a song without your normal instruments handy.  I got them stomping, and clapping, and shouting “YEAH!” on the eight beat, pumping out a kick and snare from Ableton, a quick bass line, and we were off making a song on the fly.  Afterwards, I was able to share some keyboard mentorship with four kids, with a focus on scales and finger placement.

Susan G. Komen’s More Than Pink Walk

Kim and I were joined at Bayfront Park by Sean Gould on guitar and Kenneth Metzker on percussion.  The audio technician nerd in me was excited to perform through an audio reinforcement system that was bigger than the last Broadway show I worked on.  “Oliver the Octopus” from Kim’s book series, Seaper Powers, came up on stage for the last song and danced with us.  I think the biggest lesson I learned was to remember to pack shorts and swimming trunks when traveling to Miami Beach.  You’d think this would be a given.

Forwardian Film Festival

The next day, I headed over to Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, to the Forwardian Film Festival where they were screening a movie that I have some music in called, Scumbag.  The film was given an Honorable Mention for best feature.

 

Amsterdam

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This was my second year attending the annual Amsterdam Dance Event and I was stoked to start off the week with a DJ set at Kashmir Lounge DJ Cafe.  The DJ booth was brand new and my set was it’s maiden voyage.  It was really satisfying to introduce my Insomnia House remix of Drive With Me (To The Edge of Space) and somewhat relieved to hear it settle nicely into a live DJ set.  Kim was supposed to sing over two tracks, but we ended up sacrificing the Extended Dub Mix of Share My Pillow to resolving mic issues.  Without skipping a beat mixing the set, we were able to get a working mic to her for Spin Me Ever After.

DJ Halo and Kim Cameron

The chill, laid-back coffeeshop vibe is a really appropriate environment for the type of house and leftfield tracks that tend to populate my DJ sets.  Even though I had prepped a setlist, I found myself veering off-script and just going with the flow for a little under an hour.  Which, let’s be honest, just isn’t enough time to really take the musical journey.  We walked away with an open invitation to return and I’m looking forward to having a “home” to go to whenever I  visit Amsterdam.

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The rest of our time in Amsterdam was centered around the conference and business meetings.  I met with a distributing company that will work in conjunction with my primary distributor, Label-Worx, to enter the Chinese and Korean markets with boots-on-the-ground marketing support in those countries in addition to their major social media platforms.

Both of those markets are experiencing an exciting discovery and avid consumption of electronic music and I’m looking forward to exploring those areas of the world.  With this company comes a platform to finally get all the major digital online stores into one dashboard for maintenance and customization.  More specific details will come soon.

I also talked to Soundtrust about partnering with them to extend and help manage my royalty collection capabilities in Europe, which is a pretty large market for Halo Askew.  It really is a “looking at the global picture” time for me.

 

Emerging technologies panel

While I appreciate the International Music Summit, I find the panels at ADE to be more relevant and interesting.  While Pete Tong keeps a wall between speakers and audience in Ibiza, all the moderators and guest speakers are really approachable and friendly at this conference.  The only shame was it’d be Murphy’s Law that all the panels you wanted to see were happening at the same time.  The ex-CEO of Beatport loved Courtney’s enthusiasm and gifted her a swank ADE scarf and button.

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Half the fun of Amsterdam and ADE is hanging with friends.  Courtney is my sister-from-another-mister whom I’ve known for forever and a half, and after seeing one of the final shows of Gettin’ The Band Back Together we hatched a plan for her to come on this adventure.  Pretty much everything I know about DJing comes from her.  Having her along was really the  proverbial icing on the cake.

Kris Courtney and Steve

It was kinda mind blowing how many people we ended up running into from our lives in New York and Florida.  Got to hang out with Sameer (there’s an epic Basement Jaxx in Central Park story with him to be told).  We also met up with long-time friend, Steve Graham, who was spinning at a comfortable sake bar.  Business aside, this was a great time to catch up and see a ton of friends I’ve made across the Atlantic; our fearless ambassador to Europe, Mike Lemaich, Carl from Wideboys, DJ Toka, DJ Max, Mila Falls, and Lilly Palmer.

I’ve been engaged with Label-Worx since I was managing No Filtr Ltd and so good to finally meet Connor and James, in person, after working with them for so many years through the interwebs.

Orbital at Pardisio

I’d have to say, seeing Orbital live at Paradiso was a real highlight.  Standing room only.  Really nostalgic to hear tracks like Halcyon; a real throwback to my twenties when I was discovering something other than industrial with all the feels.

What would be more appropriate for an electronic music conference?  Why, all the gear porn!

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Orlando Film Festival

On Sunday, Oct 21, I headed to Orlando to attend the Orlando Film Festival, where our animated music video for Scattered was screened with 350 film presentations and nominated for Best Music Video.  It was fun to see it on the big screen and hear the track translate well in a movie theater setting.

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I can’t say enough how much I enjoy working, performing, and globe trotting with Kim.  She gives me the space to explore and experiment both in the studio and on stage.  She lets me fuck up and learn.  Here’s to many more!

Well, that’s it for October!