While politicians and economists debate the future of varying industries in the US, one American product is recognized and valued across the globe with no signs of a decline in growth rate or harmful impact on the planet’s future. The film and music communities in the United States are perceived as having the most established infrastructure and continue to expand every year. This is a beacon which calls out to the most gifted and industrious artists the world has to offer. The opportunity is a bit of a dichotomy. The talent and tenacity required to become a recognized and lauded artist in the US is immense, a fact which is overwhelming to the vast majority of those seeking a creative profession. Yet for those determined and possessing the ability, success in America often guarantees the same in the rest of the world. It’s a proving ground that calls out to many people from many different countries. Producer/Engineer (& musician) Angel Alexis Rodriguez de la Parra left a thriving career in Mexico to become a part of the LA music scene which created such notable artists as Neil Young, The Doors, Van Halen, Beck, and countless others. Marty Crown (born Aliya Tazhikulova) had a burgeoning reputation in her native Kazakhstan but understood that a career as a singer/artist in the US could quickly propel her music into the stratosphere. It’s likely that most Americans are numb to the truth that they live in what is likely the upper strata of the creative industry, a fact not overlooked by Angel and Crown. The two collaborated on Crown’s album “Hologram” which was released in the Spring of 2017 on the record label “Silver Gun Records.”
Already a sensation in her native Kazakhstan, Marty was the winner of Samsung’s EDGE Fest and has been featured in Harpers Bazar, ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and online magazine Vlast.
She moved to the U.S. in 2016 to further her indie-pop career under Silver Gun Records. Her music video from “Hologram” has already received more than 40K plays. The album was made in Russia, Kazakhstan, and finished in Angel’s Silverlake recording studio (an artist prominent area of Los Angeles). As producer/engineer for “Hologram”, Angel helped Marty create a concept visually and sonically that truly resonated with her vision as an artist. The album has been a huge success in Russia and Kazakhstan, increasing Marty’s fan base and international recognition. Simply being immersed in the US gives “street cred” to artist such as Crown but more importantly, it allows them to connect with other creative individuals who can emphasize their strengths. Marty confirms, “When I first met Angel Alexis I instantly knew I had found the right producer. While reflecting on his successful track record, it has to be said though, that Alexis is very much looking always towards the future and is fully involved with his artists. What I love about him is that he is always providing the opportunity for independent and unsigned acts to make it in today’s industry. As artists we greatly benefit from the help that Alexis, with his extensive record production and mixing experience, is able to provide.”
The international nature of “Hologram” led to its unique sound and simultaneously created some challenges for Angel. Marty began making the record while she was living in Kazakhstan, before ever meeting Angel. She was collaborating with DJ’s and beat makers on demos. They would send the tracks to Marty via email so she could start writing melodies and lyrics over the music. Some of these people are from Russia and others from Kazakhstan but thanks to the Internet, collaborations can essentially happen in real time from any location in the world. Alexis explains, “Marty’s album ‘Hologram’ is mostly electronic so there were not a lot of real instruments being recorded. All the vocals done in Kazakhstan were just demo recordings, not professional recordings; it was just a way of capturing the ideas and to start building the tracks. Each artist works and writes differently but the way Marty works is that she will have different people make beats and tracks for her and then she will write a song to those tracks. When Marty came to me in LA she had all of these Demos and tracks that were made in Russia and Kazakhstan but they were not even close to being finished. They were essentially rough ideas and parts of songs that would eventually become full length structured songs. My job began by picking out the best parts of all these demos, the ones which we would then start making into solid records. Once we fixed and structured the demos, we worked on the lyrics and melodies. We recorded all the master vocals at my studio. I mixed the entire album at my studio. This was a very important part of making the record ambient, wide, and deep sounding.”
Because of the somewhat fragmented approach to making “Hologram” piecing the entire album together was like working on a huge puzzle. There were so many good ideas that it was sometimes hard to pick and make good decisions. Because Marty’s native language is Russian, Angel helped her to focus on pronunciation for this English record. Beyond this, he viewed his role as producer/engineer to make the experience as comfortable for her as possible. Angel notes, “The psychological part of recording is more important to me than talking about signing techniques and vocal coaching. You have to get your artists in the right zone to get a really good performance out of them. When I have people recording vocals I talk to them about the meaning of the song and try to get them to connect with the feeling they had when they first wrote the song. This brings out the feeling in the performance and makes it honest and meaningful. There is no art if it there is no meaning behind it. You can have a perfectly ‘on pitch’ vocal doing some crazy runs but if there is no real emotion and meaning to it…it’s just noise & not music. It’s all about the intention.” To accompany the release, Angel also coproduced a video for Marty with Marty Olec (director/co-producer). As a music producer and engineer who truly believes in Marty’s music, he wanted to make sure she was able to follow her vision through.
Angel epitomizes what Americans want to believe about themselves and their country; that it provides the opportunity for people who want to come here to contribute and work hard to achieve their dreams. No one dreams bigger than artists. This producer/engineer has repeatedly proven to himself and the music community that those who wish to make a positive difference can do so through aiding others with a dream themselves.