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steve oliver
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  July 2008  
Steve Oliver interview page 3

Smitty:  And what really demonstrates that is—and I hope everybody gets this project, because if you don’t, you’re truly missing something—but when you get it, watch the “behind-the-scenes” part of the DVD first because that really shows the true passion and love and all the exciting things that went into making this great DVD, and it really helps, I think, the audience see how much fun you’re having making this DVD and what it does for yourself as well as the fans.

SO:  Right, absolutely, and I thought that was a big thing for me when we were discussing putting the DVD together, was to have a behind-the-scenes in it because I really believe in that.  I’m a big fan of behind-the-scenes when I watch an artist because I really believe that it embraces what they do, and what I’m doing is kinda different and a lotta people don’t really know what we’re doing, so I believe so much in telling people what we’re doing.  So they know, and that’s part of the reason of making this DVD is to show people what we’re doing and really bring it to the fore so they can understand.  It’s not “Oh, yeah, we’re just gonna play and whatever happens happens,” but we’re triggering all these sounds, we’re doing all these things, and it needs to be explained and seen more than if we just recorded a regular CD.  You would never know.

Smitty:  Yeah, exactly.

SO:  And so that was the big mission of mine as an artist, to show people what we’re doing.

Smitty:  Yeah, and one of the things I appreciate is the work that Tom Emmi did with this DVD.  The quality of the DVD is outstanding and the whole structure of it is just unbelievably great.

SO:  Oh, thank you.  Yes, I agree.  I mean, it’s very easy to navigate and it’s also done in 5.1, so all you 5.1 surround sound people enjoy that.  And George Landress mixed it.  He’s a great engineer.  I’ve worked with George on my last, gosh, pretty much he’s done every album I’ve done.  He’s mixed or been involved in engineering.  And on this project, working with George Landress again on this whole project—he actually was there recording it live when we were doing it and then he took the masters home and mixed it and then I came in and we did the 5.1 mix and he did the 5.1 mix in his studio.  We had so much fun doing the 5.1 and putting the sonic, you know, like all my guitar synths are coming behind you and in the back of the speakers and the guitars in the front and then the basses in the center, and we just had a blast putting all the percussion in different areas.  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  Yeah, it’s so cool, and then you’ve got a couple of great bonus tracks on here.  One is “This Fire” and the other one is “On the Upside.”  We hear about music projects with bonus tracks all the time. But I think these are special and I think you had something really special in mind that is different from just “All right, let’s throw a couple of bonus tracks on there and hope people buy it.”

SO:  Yeah.  No, I believe in giving the public as much as they deserve, as much music as possible, and part of the reason I wanted to have a couple of studio tracks is because I kind of show where we’re going for the future, so that’s what “This Fire” is about.  It’s a vocal tune and 50% of the show is vocals, lyric singing too, and then also I wanted to have a smooth jazz track too that we could put out, which actually did pretty well at radio this year, and yeah, so I wanted to kind of cross-pollinate everything and keep that diversity going as for me as an artist.

Smitty:  Yeah, I just want to name some of the songs on here, some of my favorites.  I love “Chips and Salsa” and I’m sure a lot of people do.

SO:  Oh, thanks.  Yeah, that’s a fun one.

Smitty:  Yeah, and “Wings of Spring” is one of my favorites.  “Fearless.”  They’re songs that really just rise above and demonstrate your musicianship.  “Feeling Good” is one of my favorites.  Of course, everybody loves “High Noon.”  (Both laugh.)

SO:  Yeah.  Oh, thank you.

Smitty:  And I still love one of the oldie but goodies, “I Know.”  That’s a great track.

SO:  Yeah, a lotta people always request that at the shows and I took it out of my set, gosh, I think after the first or the second album came out and I never played it that much, but everybody always requested that song and it really touched them, so we really wanted to add it.  And what’s really cool about it is this version is just me and Humberto playing live.  And it came out so organic and I really liked that version that we did on the live DVD, and that’s the other thing, is all these songs from the previous albums, we totally rearranged and did different things to them and that’s the beauty of doing it live.  It’s like a whole ‘nother record even though some of the songs are on the other records or other CD’s, but one of my favorites, actually, is I really enjoyed the two songs that segue together, “Sojourn” and “Fearless.”  There’s something about—because that’s kind of the direction I’m heading in vocally is that tune “Fearless” is one of my faves and that’s kind of where I’m heading, kind of a pop/world music vibe with lyric singing, and I’m real excited about heading in that direction, like Sting, Peter Gabriel kind of vibe.

Smitty:  Yeah, and it kind of reminded me a little bit of Al Jarreau.  (Laughs.)

SO:  Oh, really?

Smitty:  Yeah, and I love that bass sound with “Fearless.”

SO:  Yeah, you know, that’s me playing everything live.  I mean, I’m triggering the bass and the guitar and singing, and then the orchestra sounds, I’m adding those, so it’s like you would never know, I mean, if you didn’t watch that.  Yeah, we’re playing that live.  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  It is so cool, man.

SO:  Oh, thank you.

Smitty:  Everything about this is just a fantastic project and you’ve made some changes along the way.  Man, you’ve got a deal with NuGroove.

SO:  Yeah, we just signed with NuGroove and they have Sony Red distribution, which is fantastic, and we’re very excited.  They’ve been great and we just look forward to working with them on future projects and all kinds of things.

Smitty:  Yeah, and you’ve got new management now, you’ve just made all kinds of changes, and changes are good.

SO:  Absolutely.

Smitty:  And I think changes, especially when you’re making decisions for your career or your life, I think changes are victorious.

SO:  Absolutely.  I couldn’t agree more because, yeah, you gotta keep moving forward.  I mean, at least that’s my thinking.  Just keep moving forward and sometimes people don’t wanna move forward, so and then you just—you want to work with people that believe in your same philosophies, obviously, because that’s the only way it works.

Smitty:  Exactly.  Well, I think you’ve made some great changes in your career and to put this project together that really says that Steve Oliver’s moving forward, he’s in control of his life and his music, and you have the options in your hand to make these great changes.

SO:  Oh, absolutely, and I think more now, I think all artists right now should be artists.  They should think, you know, about what they wanna do, what kind of music do they wanna do?  And that’s, to me, what a true artist is all about, not just like we always see American Idol and they’re singers.  Some of them are artists, but they’re singers, and I believe in artists.  I’ve always loved the singer-songwriters, the Joni Mitchells, the John Mayers, Billy Joels, Elton Johns.  They wrote their music, they wrote their own, and they had something to say, and I’m a big fan of that, so I’m always doing that as an artist, and it’s really hard now to be an artist because there’s a lot going against it because the industry wants a little more control of you.  They don’t want you kinda doing your thing, unfortunately, but there’s definitely ways to get out there so you can be an artist.

Smitty:  Yes, and I think you’re doing that and I applaud you for it and really enjoy watching you and watching your career just take off and just move forward at such a very cool pace.

SO:  Oh, thank you.  Yeah, we’re working hard every day.  (Laughs.)  Aren’t we all, huh?

Smitty:  Aren’t we all? Yes!  And I just wanna say something about your music that I noticed and that’s the chordal structures and changes that you have within your music, and I think that, too, is a key to reaching an audience because you reach an audience with great melodies and fantastic rhythms.  Those chordal changes, I think, are just something that is on the tip of our emotions of anticipation.

SO:  Oh, man, well, thanks for acknowledging that because, yeah, to me, that’s exactly what I think about, is I hear movements of changes and chord changes and, I mean, that moves people.  You could go from like a B minor to just to a C sharp minor 7 flat 5 and you just have a feeling when you play those two together or whatever.  You’re being creative and there’s something about that that really excites me.  When I hear a change, I hear a melody.  And then I hear a melody, and how they all work together and it’s magical.

Smitty:  Well, Steve, I truly agree wholeheartedly and you have such a can’t-be-denied attitude and that same vibe that I appreciate, and I just wanna say keep your flava strong, keep doing what you’re doing, and I certainly hope that everyone gets an opportunity to order this and get this great DVD/CD set because it is truly fantastic.

SO:  Oh, thank you, thank you.  It was a joy to make and the love is there to be seen and to be felt, and that was the whole mission.

Smitty:  So how can people get this project?

SO:  Oh, man, it’s gonna be released, actually, June 24th in all the stores and it’s gonna be online, it’s gonna be on iTunes, it’s gonna be at our Web site,  You can order it early, actually, before the release date, from our site direct.  And on the 24th it’ll be everywhere.  Amazon to Barnes & Noble to Borders.

Smitty:  All right, man.  This is fantastic.  Well, it’s great that you have all these outlets where people can readily get it because this has gotta be in everyone’s collection because it’s that good.

SO:  Oh, thank you.  You know, I would hope so.  I hope people will like it. (Laughs.)

Smitty:  And then to complement that, this is my personal endorsement that everyone should get out and see this live too because your live performances are second to none.So I’m just excited for you and I say to myself sometimes, “He’s come a long way from doing weddings and touring with Bamboo Forest and Steve Reid to where he is now.  This is just amazing.”  And you know, Steve, I truly think that you have a whole lot more in front of you, so brace yourself.

SO:  Oh, thank you.  Yeah, we’re forward thinking all the time.

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