In honor of Wakey!Wakey!’s new single, “Homeless Poets,” and our REDEFINING:Talent panel tonight during Advertising Week, we sat down with Wakey!Wakey!’s Michael Grubbs, who was at our last Redefining panel, REDEFINING:Music back in July to ask him what it felt like to perform again with his old friend and AD Club Member Gene Back, how the digital landscape has affected the music industry, what his definition of bravery is, and more.
You participated in AD Club’s REDEFINING:Music panel in July alongside Mike Byrne, Rani Vaz, Chad Hopenwasser and Jeff Rossi. What was the most surprising or interesting thing you heard during that conversation? And how was it performing with your old friend (and AD Club member) Gene Back?
The most surprising thing about the panel to me was how cool the panelists were. As a musician that is constantly submitting to these faceless organizations, it was nice to put a face on them, and have that face be a lot more like mine than I expected. I’ve actually become friends and hung out recently with some of the panel. Gene is an amazing musician and violinist. I always knew he was more into the creator side than the live side of music, which is crazy because he’s such a talented performer! It’s always nice to steal him back for an hour of live fun.
From your perspective, how has the evolution of technology affected the music industry?
P2P music sharing has really changed the whole game, both for better and worse. It definitely made a major set of problems for music creators, but it also made a lot of opportunities. For instance, I have a studio 2 feet from my living room couch now…
When it comes to brand/musician collaboration, what are your general rules for connecting with brands that align with your image?
Like 99% of musicians out there I just don’t have the option to be too picky when it comes to exposure. One of my main battles as a human is to make a living and feed my family. I obviously wouldn’t make my music the theme song for something that I consider evil. After that I can’t be too precious though. You also never know what door will be opened by an ad for what might not be considered one of the hippest products. Look at Chairlift. One of the coolest bands around in my opinion, but they sold the hell out of those Pampers!
In your own words, how do you define bravery?
Anything I give other than the most broad definition here will sound snarky. I could say that bravery is signing a lesser known artist that’s not on a major label to a coke campaign, but we all really know that the right answer is being a fireman.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve seen in the music industry in terms of brand/artist collaboration?
You have a new single “Homeless Poets” that launched this month. If you could hand-pick any brand to collaborate with in the debut, who would it be and why?
You look at the history of bands getting break out syncs, and it rarely happens twice with the same product. It’s almost like a company breaks a band, then they can’t replicate it. If I was managing a band I’d say the big three categories are Hip Tech, Cars, and a Holiday film. You get one of each and you’re exposed to a huge part of the population. I can’t guess what car will be cool this winter though. I haven’t owned one in 18 years.
What would you say to artists who consider brand partnerships to be “selling out”?
Can I borrow some money from your trust fund?
Where do you find inspiration?
I think a lot of times films and great TV can be extremely inspiring, but those things usually fall flat when you try to execute. For a song to be really great I think it has to come from a real life feeling that comes from personal experience and really lives in you. That’s why break up albums can really nail it sometimes.
What are three things about you that people don’t know?
I really like Bach’s string quartets, but I also really like hip hop and Katy Perry. My dog can get me a beer out of the refrigerator if I ask him nicely and have treats on hand. Also I have an EP that’s coming out Sept 25th on The End Records and they should get it immediately!
To purchase “Homeless Poets” click here!