Real Deal Alert…Sellaband's Ariel
There are now over 9000 artist profiles on Sellaband, each one representing the aspirations of unsigned and relatively unknown artists and their hopes of crowd-sourcing a recording budget through what comes down to a pre-sale of 5000 units. Music lovers looking for their next obsession can search the Sellaband website by genre but the the magnitude of the roster in combination with some artists designating themselves loosely under multiple genres can make finding new music daunting for users new to the site. Successful attention-getting is limited only by the promotional acumen of the artists themselves and, as in the wild, the competitors seduce, dress-up in colorful feathers, wave both arms in the air and offer all manner of incentives in luring that precious ten-dollar bill from the grasp of potential fans. Everything and anything goes but one tactic is either overlooked or is perhaps understandably beyond the abilities of many of the 9000.
As stated in my Sellaband Tribune article, sincerity can be the deciding factor in determining what is meaningful music. With only an audio file or youtube clip in evidence it is impossible to know an artist’s true motives or if the song and performance actually portray who that person was at the moment the record button was depressed. Many artists struggle through their developmental stages wondering if they should adapt to a target audience, create a financially beneficial persona or become the next (fill in the blank). The music resulting from these experiments might be executed with skill but the question of identity being left unanswered makes a sincere performance improbable. Lacking the ability to deliver the knockout punch with transparent honesty, many otherwise very capable artists are just not ready to be handed the studio keys…not just yet anyway.
Ariel is…ready that is. Ariel breaks a lot of rules. Who she is and what she has to say can be drastically different from track to track. One moment she is a disco queen, another a glam-rocker. She’ll belt a straight up rock song and follow it with a club dance track. She’s all over the genre spectrum and at first glance might give the impression that she’s not ready to commit to a specific character. But in every case, whether it’s the dance mix vibe of “Pleasure” the 80′s Brit-pop flavored “Play Me” or the sneering “Little Miss Hyperactive” Ariel is convincingly in the moment with fierce sincerity. She is more than a chameleon in that she doesn’t merely take on the appearance of her surroundings, she makes them convincingly her own.
Not everyone is cut out to be a star. Imagine your high school math teacher in Elvis’ peacock jump suit or your family doctor in full Bootsy Collins regalia. And what about the Pope’s get up? It takes brass balls to think you belong in that league…balls, hard work, commitment and the ability to convey your message with sincerity and not a hint of self-consciousness. Ariel’s public persona indicates that she has a strong belief in herself as a star and this is the secret ingredient that can’t be bought or taught.
I assume that Ariel’s Sellaband profile tracks are self-produced with home recording equipment. While the quality is understandably demo level, her vision goes beyond the capabilities of her home studio. Her thematic ideas, arrangements and orchestral sense is panoramic and elegant. She doesn’t overreach herself by attempting to make finished masters but her taste and artistic intent are obvious. Ariel has done well to let us hear her potential via strong singing and emotional delivery and leaves the heavyweight production hi-jinx for the day she hits the studio with her budget in the bank.
Ariel’s strengths are most apparent as a performing artist. Her vocal ability approaches the qualities and skills of some of the best female singers. She has Ann Wilson’s knack for building a phrase to a point at which you wonder if she has the gas to follow through and then laying you out with a hard left to the ear. She has the impeccable enunciation and playful aristocratic gender bending twist of performers like Annie Lennox and David Bowie. The angst of a young Grace Slick and the wide-eyed poignancy of vintage Martha Davis are also apparent. But Ariel’s skills don’t end when she steps away from the the microphone. Her self-made videos indicate that she has a strong sense of visual performance as well. She uses color, drama and seduction effectively in creating artistic images that can be sexy without being overt. Where other artists might fill the screen with the obvious cleavage and keester shots, Ariel’s minimalist approach gets the point across with her face and hands, a bit of body paint, some black lights and commitment to her character of the moment.
With the recording technology available today, many artists have taken upon their shoulders the responsibilities formerly shared by a production team made up of musicians, songwriters, arrangers, producers and engineers. With the advent of social networking, artists have added the positions of marketing director and promotions manager to their job descriptions. But just having the tools doesn’t necessarily mean one can actually execute a competently recorded product of merit and the internet is rammed full of mediocre low budget productions masquerading as music. Sellaband offers artists a forum to display their artistic potential via demo recordings and generate a recording budget to realize their potential by collaborating with professionals.
Of the 9000-plus artists on Sellaband, some are ready, some are developing fast and most are years away from becoming viable recording artists. Ariel gives the impression that she means what she says, no matter how she is dressed, what she is saying or how she says it. It’s no small feat to show star power with an mp3 and a youtube video but this is what Ariel has accomplished. Her tracks show curiousity, diversity, development and above all, sincerity. There is no doubt that, given a budget, great songs and a hip production team that shares her vision and intensity, she is ready to lead the way in creating a memorable album.