While many of us simply watched the Grammy Awards broadcast on Sunday night (marveling over the Bruno/Sting/Rihanna/Marley performance, or Carrie Underwood's dress-as-video-screen), for others the Awards show is actually the culmination of something of a Grammy festival, with industry parties and get-togethers sprawling through the week and all over LA.
At one of these events, the fourth annual Social Media Rock Stars Summit, British ingénue Beaux Saunders performed thanks to her status as runner-up in the Hitlab Emerging Artist Competition, beating out some 1500 other entrants.
Good for her, right? You've likely never heard of her. But also good for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, producer and Portland native son Dan Snyder, who co-wrote and produced her lone single, the vampy jazz-age throwback "Ain't That Beautiful," as well as a number of other tracks that will form the basis of her debut album. Good, too, for the Studio's Jim Begley and Gateway Mastering's Adam Ayan, who mixed and mastered, respectively, Saunders's thus-far recorded works.
(Actually, Ayan had a pretty great night Sunday; he mastered Carrie Underwood's record, which took home a pair of Grammys.)
>> VIDEO: Beaux Saunders performs Dan Snyder's "Ain't That Beautiful" <<
Perhaps most interestingly, neither Snyder, Begley, nor Ayan has ever even met Saunders in person.
In fact, Snyder got together with Saunders in a most apropos way for the new age of the recording industry: Her manager found him on Twitter, thanks to an association with producer Chad Beatz (G-Unit). "I sent Chad a demo," Snyder says, over the phone from his home studio, "and he brought me under his wing. And so I worked with a few of his artists, who ended up getting signed to Dark Child and then Warner Brothers, and that just put me in the conversation on Twitter."
Snyder was looking to put his music industry degree from Northeastern to work, getting into a blend of co-writing and production that's functionally artist development, and he and Saunders hit it off. "I loved her voice," he said. "It was really interesting and different and there was room to not be that top-40 sound that's so recognizable." Once you hear her, you'll realize she certainly doesn't need much by way of Auto-Tune.
THE REACH OF PORTLAND Forest City native Dan Snyder wrote a winning song for up-and-coming British pop star Beaux Sanders.
Thus ensued a digital back-and-forth that's becoming fairly commonplace in the industry. "The first couple of tracks," says Snyder, "I composed and arranged and played everything, and then she would sit with it and come up with some top-line melodies and some lyrical ideas. She'd send me back the roughs of those, and then I would tweak some lyrics or some melodic parts and then we'd talk through Skype about what we've been hearing and what's working."
Once everything was a go, Saunders would head to a professional studio in London to record her vocals, which she'd then send back to Snyder for initial mixing into the "final" version of the song.