The Latest: What's your average workday like?
Harriet: At the risk of sounding like a blues tune, "I wake up every morning.." and drink my Noni Juice, go into the computer to check my email and my day has begun. I get tons of email. The entire staff of the record company I'm signed to (Evening Star Music Group) corresponds this way, and so does my book publisher (Blue Dolphin). In addition to them, most of my songwriting students and songwriters I consult with all over the world email me. Also,
The Latest: What parts of your work are the most demanding, in other words, the tough part of the job?
Harriet: I wear a lot of hats and I love all of them except one. I don't like trying to "get assignments." Most of the time I get called, rather than my making the call. I do not like selling myself. I like selling other people. And I do it constantly. But I don't like selling myself. I love DOING the work. I just don't like procuring it. Most of the film songs I've written have come to me through producers or directors knowing my work and either taking it off a CD or simply asking me to write something. Also, composers will frequently call me because they often hear about film projects before I might. I love to solve a dramatic problem of a film with a song. That's a challenge I really adore. Misha Segal is a brilliant composer/ songwriter and I've done a lot of film work with him. At other times, I've worked with film scorers who are not songwriters and I've helped them shape the melody and then I've written the lyric to that melody.
I also find the administrative side of things boring and difficult. Heellah Cohen, a professional organizer, keeps me from drowning in a sea of papers with weekly dreaded visits, which I always appreciate once she's walking out the door and I can go back to my creative life, in a more orderly environment.
The Latest: Could you describe what it's like to make an album?
Harriet: I write songs because I'm a songwriter. Some are right for me as an artist and some aren't. I will discuss the last two albums, because they are the most recent, and also because they were produced and directed by a master, Nik Venet. Nik would talk to me about subjects and inspire me to write about these subjects. For instance, he talked to me about the film, "Citizen Kane," and the concept that there's a "Rosebud" in everyone's life which becomes the fire for his or her creative passion. This idea hit home so directly that I decided to write the song. The same with "Dreaming of Casablanca," a song about romantic longing. During the seven years I worked with Nik, I wrote many more songs than we recorded. Other people have cut some of the songs that were not right for me. We recorded more songs than are currently on the CD. But the eleven songs that ended up on the CD "Rosebud," are all part of one big picture. It has largely to do with film, because I think in film analogies. I'm influenced by film and I frequently use film as a metaphor in this album. I also have a song called, "Patsy Cline," which is about two people missing each other in two different houses, both listening to Patsy Cline records.
When we recorded the CD, Nik had hired the best players I'd ever met, much less worked with -- Abe Laboriel on bass, Dean Parks on guitar, et al. He talked to the players about the songs and how the songs were a priority on this record. Then he handed out lyric sheets, before he handed out chord charts. He played my demo version at the keyboard, or asked me to play it at the piano, live. Then we all sat down and played it live. In most cases, the vocal I did there in that live session is what we used on the CD, rather than an overdubbed vocal. After that was done, we had Daryl S. come in and overdub violin and viola, Suzie Katayama overdubbed cello, Marty Rifkin added mandolin and pedal steel. Other instruments were also added including accordion, organ and some percussion. Then, my favorite part happened. Incredibly talented singers -- all songwriters -- came in to do the background vocals. Appearing also with me in live concert have been: Corwyn Travers, Jannel Rap and Gary Floyd, who sings two duets with me on the record. Steve Schalchlin also sings a duet with me on "Worn Around the Edges" a song I wrote with Arthur Hamilton (who wrote "Cry Me A River"). Then the mixing took place of all these tracks where all the instruments and voices were recorded. The mixing is, to a large extent, the engineer's job. Joe Robb, one of the vastly experienced owners of Cherokee Studios, mixed. When his two brothers would stand around him, it looked like a Robb convention. It was quite impressive.
The Latest: Would you say, at this point, your career has a team behind it or is it mostly you?
Harriet: I feel very fortunate to have a team of people excited about the future of my projects. Nik Venet has been the most instrumental person in my career and life for the last seven years. He passed away January 2nd of this year, but his legacy continues. The president of Evening*Star Music Group, Jeffrey Casey, is overseeing the whole picture in much the same way that Nik Venet would do. Nik mentored Jeffrey for seven years. Michelle Fox is chief operating officer at Evening*Star and I don't make a move without her. She handles all the logistics of touring and all day-to-day operations concerning my record and book. Michelle Vicary is head of marketing and promotions and she is in daily touch with the distributors of the product. Margaret Marston and Marie Siroonian are less visible but pivotal players in the company, having to do with distribution and marketing and investments. Blue Dolphin publishing is as interested in the new book's imminent release as I am. They have lots and lots of titles, but they treat me like I'm their only author, coming to my concerts and answering my daily deluge of email questions.
The Latest: What's your web site address for readers to reach you?
Harriet: I would sure enjoy hearing from the readers. My website address is www.harrietschock.com and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. It will have current information on my performing schedule, including details regarding my November 7th concert, ordering information on the book and a link to the record company website for ordering the CD. My mailing address is: 6230 Wilshire Blvd., #1267, L.A., CA 90048. I'd love to hear from readers with questions, comments, anything that might be on their minds. I feel very fortunate to be doing something for a living I love. I help other people rekindle their artistic dreams when I teach songwriting. That's one of my greatest thrills. Thank you, I've really enjoyed this.