17 October 2011

On Occasion, Fortune Smiles

So much in this world is random.  Take fame for instance.  For every famous actor, musician, artist, author, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of equally talented individuals who toil in obscurity. 

What makes those who become famous rise to the top?  Are they any more talented than those who are not famous?  I believe that it is a number of factors that all coincide in the right person at the right time in the right place that lead to fame and success in the entertainment industry. 

Some might call it fate, others happenstance, but nonetheless, a series of seemingly random events need to occur for someone to be discovered, packaged, and promoted in order to "hit it big."

For most musicians who work in non-popular genres (classical music, jazz, world music, etc.), "hitting it big" occurs on a much smaller scale.

What I'm trying to say, is that as a klezmer/world-music-fusion artist, success is relative. 

So . . . what brought on this line of thinking? 

Back in August, I got an email through my band's website (www.klezfactor.com) from the TV production company (Insight Productions) that was putting together the biographical segments for Canada's Walk of Fame induction ceremony.  Veronica Tennant,* the producer of the bio segment to honour author Mordecai Richler's** induction, had heard some of KlezFactor's music on the CBC Radio 3 website and decided that it fit what she was looking for.  The TV producers wanted to know if I would give them the rights to use chunks of a bunch of songs from both of our albums to accompany the video segment. 

As a big fan Richler's writing, my only answer was yes.  Later, I found out that the esteemed Canadian actor Christopher Plummer*** was narrating the segment.  All this will be televised next Sunday (October 23) at 8PM on the Global Television Network in Canada (no, it's not all around the world... that's just the name of the network). 

The result of this is that my music is going to be heard on a national television broadcast (with probable re-broadcasts at some point), reaching infinitely more people that it ever has before. 

It is a huge honour and validation to be associated with this project.  First, to be associated with an author like Richler, whose work I have enjoyed for years, is extremely flattering (although, thinking about it, I can see some similar themes in the approach to Jewish identity between his writing and my music, but that's for another blog).  Second, to have Christopher Plummer's voice over my music is goosebump inducing (although I have yet to see/hear the segment).  And third, it's pretty fucking awesome to have my songs heard on national television.

So far, the widest television exposure I've had was an episode of Kenny vs. Spenny^ where they didn't want to have to pay for rights, so we just played some "traditional" klezmer music.  In the case of Canada's Walk of Fame, it was all above board, with a nice, mainstream cheque to go along with it. 

It's funny.  When people want to you to do something for free, they tell you that it will be great exposure. When it's actually something that IS great exposure, they pay you for it. 

However, I have no illusions that this "exposure" will lead to anything, besides a nice entry on my CV.  The nature of reality is that our music will be heard and absorbed as part of the presentation, and then relegated to a memory.  Perhaps it will influence and become part of the sense memory that people have about Richler and take that away from their watching of show, but at most, we'll have a credit at the end of the show (which will roll by too fast for anyone to actually see).

Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of the work that I have done with KlezFactor (and plan to do more . . . keep reading over the coming months).  And I'm also very proud that our music was discovered randomly.  I'm very proud that Veronica Tennant, when scouting for music, reacted so strongly to what she heard of KlezFactor on CBC Radio 3. 

After all, that's why we do it.  All of us non-mainstream musicians toiling in obscurity make our music hoping to elicit as strong reactions in others as we get from ourselves.  For us, that's success.  The knowledge that others "get" our music. 

I'm about to experience the biggest "success" of my professional career, and almost no one except for my family, friends and you, dear readers, will know about it.  So while, on occasion, fortune smiles, it's more of a private, only-for-yourself kind of smile.  Like Mona Lisa's.  And that's not so bad, is it?


* for more on her, click here.
** for more on him, click here.
*** for more on him, click here.
^ Kenny vs. Spenny ran for about 5 years on a variety of networks and was syndicated internationally.  It was very much a niche tv show about two guys who had a (usually gross) contest each week.  Our episode was "Who is the better Jew?"  The show was made in what could be considered a guerilla style - very cheap, very fast and very off the cuff. 

No comments:

Post a Comment