Interview with Collin McLoughlin; Auditioned for “The Voice” last night!
How about one for the ladies this time, huh? Pop music is the lifeblood of the music industry, and seemingly always has been. There are so many artists and groups striving for mainstream success that we often find ourselves inundated with a barrage of similar sounding, similar dressing, vain glorious divas (guys and girls) who think they have what it takes to conquer Billboard magazine. Most won’t, try as they might. But for the fans that like their pop sensibility with a strong dose of drive, ambition, and talent, be thankful you have cats like Collin McLoughlin out here making a go of it.
I met Collin while attending NYU for my Masters in Music Business (yes, they have such a thing), and not only is he an incredible talent, but a humble and sincere man as well. Trying to forge new ground with his catchy songs, good guy looks, and charm, Collin decided to exit the program to continue his musical pursuits full time, and is making new friends and fans wherever he performs. He is a rare talent in a flooded marketplace, and if musical awards were based on friendliness and sincerity, he’d already have a platinum record on his wall.
A hardworking and constant producer, you can watch any number of his original compositions and cover tunes on his Youtube channel, and he’ll hopefully be hitting a city near you in the near future. Successfully opening for acts like Lupe Fiasco, Wale, K’naan, and Fabulous among others, Collin’s crossover appeal and catchiness is something to behold. I managed to speak with Collin to discuss his beginnings, current output, his thoughts on the music business, and his plans for the future.
G- What’s up, Collin and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! It’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to talk… What has been going on this past year?
C- Not too much, man. I’ve just been working on my next project and getting the next phase of stuff ready to go. Pretty much keeping this train moving!
G- So why don’t you go ahead and tell us about the new project, man. You’re on to something else now, huh?
C- Yea it’s interesting. I think the biggest thing for an artist like me to try and get into the industry and make a real career out of this is you have to bring something that’s fresh and different and, at the same time, you have to be able to latch on to the sensibilities that people like when they listen to music. This new project is a really cool middle ground of a bunch of different things that are popular and relevant, and it’s a unique spin on all of them that sort of puts it into a new place that, if I do it properly, could lead to some serious exposure and help me make a lot of new fans.
G- Alright that’s awesome! Now is this a band type thing, or is it you solo again?
C- It’s me solo again. I mean it’s a very produced record… It’s a very interesting concept. It’s like if you were to combine Edward Maya or some of the more instrumental house guys that use actual instruments on top of more acoustic singer/songwriter approach. So the way I’ve been explaining it is if you were to combine aspects of John Mayer and David Guetta into one thing. It’s never really either one of them, it’s sort of both, but it’s an interesting new blend that I think people will find refreshing.
G- Dude that’s wild… You don’t get 2 names like that are bigger in their respective genres than those two, so get to it… Very good!
C- Working on it.
G-So you’re still a young guy, but everyone starts somewhere. When did you first start writing and performing music, and what got you into it in the first place?
C- The first time I started writing songs was probably the end of high school. I was writing guitar based tracks in the singer/songwriter vain. I was really inspired by Maroon 5 and John Mayer and Jeff Buckley, and the whole singer/songwriter movement when it was especially big and all over the radio.
When it really turned into high gear was when I went away to college at Colgate. I ended up linking up with a bunch of guys that had a crunk/crossover/hip hop group called Sonically Young…
G- (laughing) Nice!
C- It was kind of like N.E.R.D. but it was more hip hop. It was vocal hooks, it was raps, dirty synth electronic beats with hard hip hop drums. It was really fun and cool! I ended up linking up with them randomly and they wanted me to join it legitimately. So we made 2 songs, and the second song we made ended up catching on at our school, and that led us to get the chance to open for Lupe Fiasco. We entered a battle of the bands and ended up winning based on that song.
G- Right on, dude. Crunk hip hop is always fun, so maybe we can do a B-sides and rarities album in the future, or something along those lines?
C- (laughs) It was really fun, and it was also great to perform. We got to play some big shows, and that kind of music with that kind of energy level was really fun to play live.
G- Yea not too many people can stand still in front of a crunk artist. But you, as a solo artist, get them rocking pretty good in your own right. Another cool thing is every time I ever saw you, you were always working on, or talking about working on, new material during our conversations together in Bobst Library… We even started it right off like that today. What are you going to be releasing that under “Collin McLoughlin,” or do you have another name for the project?
C- It’s going to be released under my name as of now. I actually auditioned for season 3 of The Voice, and my audition is going to be airing in the next few weeks, so my exposure is definitely going to be magnified, at least in the short term, so I’m going to try to capitalize on that at the moment and put it out with my full name and see if we can make some noise!
G- That’s sweet! Now, I have to be honest… I’ve never seen the show, but can you tell us what channel it’s on and when it’s going to be airing?
C- The show is on at 8pm on Mondays and Tuesday on NBC.
G- Nice. I’ll make sure I’m in front of a TV when that goes on and that’ll be my introduction to the show! So, amidst all of the writing, when will you be heading back out on the road? Do you have any headlining or opening slots coming up that we can check out?
C- I have a headlining show coming up in November at The Studio @ Webster Hall. Right now, I am trying to take time to get this project ready. I want to make sure it’s tightened up and ready to go after all this Voice stuff airs and hopefully people see my audition on TV. I want to make sure I have the material ready and people are hungry. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle if you don’t keep it up.
I’m going to put that out and as soon as it’s done, I’m going to try to book some shows nationwide, and I have a lot of European fans as well, so I’m going to try to make it over to Europe as soon as I can.
G- Dude that would be so awesome! Let us know… We’ll have to keep in contact and get you up to Syracuse. There’s a lot of colleges around here and I think you’d do well here… Don’t forget the small spots!
C- I won’t!
G- You write some super catchy, pop friendly jams. Where did you find the inspiration to write your new material, and how often would you say you write and record a new track?
C- I write and record a new track, or at least a portion of one, almost everyday… If you don’t consistently write, and don’t consistently try to create, you can lose your edge a little bit… I’m always trying to make sure I’m staying on top on the creative mindset… I’ve written hundreds of songs in my life. I haven’t put out as many but, like anything else, the way I look at it is the first hundred songs weren’t even worth listening to because they weren’t good enough (laughs). You have to build up that base.
G- Right on. Now, since we were students together studying music business (for better or for worse), what are your feelings about the larger music industry at this time? Do you feel that it is in peril or simply being reorganized revolutionized by tech and digital?
C- I don’t think it’ll ever come back to where it was simply because the media that is available to an average person now is totally different from the way it was. I mean, even look at the internet… The amount of things that people can do on the Internet, in general, is near limitless… I think there is more stuff for people to do, and its distracted them from staying focused entirely on music like they used to be.
But at the same time, I’m really excited… My own story couldn’t have happen 15 years ago. I’ve met with major labels and a lot of them just want you to keep sending them music, and they’ll tell you you’re great, but at the end of the day they don’t make a move, and it becomes up to you and your own personal drive and ambition to make sure that you can make noise and make a career on your own… I’m making these albums in my bedroom learning from producers on Youtube. I think it’s creating an awesome new generation of musicians that really can and understand how to do everything.
I think, from a creative standpoint, a lot of the barriers to entry, in terms of what’s cool, have went out a little bit. Look at Frank Ocean, a guy that made this incredible album that the label wasn’t even going to put out!
C- And he was able to put it out on his own and it turned out to be great! He brought a new product that people were craving and was interesting, and I think there are a lot more stories like this to come.
G- Yea that’s excellent. Frank his headlining at ATP next weekend, too! You can do it yourself, folks. DIY or die! Work hard and you might just make it happen for yourself!
So on to non-nerdy stuff… What should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you hit the road? What should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
C- That’s what is going to be really exciting for me. I’m in the process of creating a really cool, innovative live show that’s going to be almost a hybrid performance dj set mixed together.
It’s going to be like a dj set, but I’m going to have my live instruments on stages and I’m going to have my vocals not playing on the song, and I ‘m going to be able to float in between famous tracks that are out now and make mash-ups live, on top of singing my own stuff. It’s going to be this constantly evolving and changing shows that, if I do it properly, I’ll be able to change it every time… You won’t ever see me do the same set because it’ll always be evolving. That’s what makes it fun and exciting I think!
G- So you are really going to be pushing the limits of your show, I take it?
C- Yea. The way that music is now, you need to evolve and make something interesting that no one else is doing, or you need to just take a seat… It’s definitely a risky move, but I think it’s going to be exciting… If I can do it well, and I think I can, then I think it’ll be something that people will like.
G- And I‘m sure they will!
Make sure to keep an eye out for Collin McLoughlin in the future, and check out what he’s all about at the websites below!