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Kane is Able 

Asheville folkie Christine Kane does it her way

Since starting her record label Big Fat (now Firepink) to release her first CD, This Time Last Year, Christine Kane has hired a business coach. She's also hired a publicist and booking agent, and opened an office in Asheville's downtown business district. She's been a Borders bookstore "pick artist" in the Folk category, and has even agreed to play three shows in November with the North Carolina Dance Theatre, whose Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux has choreographed a ballet based on Kane's music that the Theatre hopes to take nationwide (check www.christinekane.com for more).

To hear Kane tell it, the whole thing started with little more than a few chords, a dream, and a wish to tell stories. Along the way, however, she's had to learn the lessons of an industry that too often divides talent into two categories: sharks and chum. Determined not to be eaten alive, Kane has made it a point to learn the business of music, an admission that in some circles might lead to accusations of selling her musical soul. As Kane sees it, she had no other choice. Once she ditched her 9-to-5 in favor of $175 rent and "tip gigs" at local bars and coffeeshops, there was no turning back. "Eat or be eaten," in other words.

Doubt Christine Kane all you want, but doubt her hunger at your own risk.

"Starting my own label, as with many independent musicians, was not a big conscious decision at first," Kane says. "When I was in my early 20s and released my first CD, I didn't even know what a record label was -- I was just writing songs. As a business and a record label and a booking agency and all the things that it is now, it's very easy to look at it and say "wow, how did you start this...entity?' when in fact it came about by default."

After releasing her debut, This Time Last Year, Kane decided that she wasn't suitably prepared to keep her foot in all the doors that had been opened to her. Taking a cue from friends in the business world, she decided that if she were committed to playing the game, she first must learn the rules.

"Right before Rain & Mud & Wild & Green came out, I started working with a business coach. It became very evident to me as a business owner and artist that I had a long way to go in the business area of my little company.

"My mantra was always this big, whiny, "all I ever wanted to do was write songs!' I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first started this. It's really snapped me awake in terms of not letting my emotions drive the bus all the time. In the songwriting and performing worlds, that sort of thing is fine -- a must. But when it came to the question of "is this really what I want to do for a living?', I needed to learn other ways to direct myself."

Kane insists that the biggest part of directing herself is to let the music direct itself: trust in the songs and the emotions they contain, and only good things can happen.

"If you've done the best you can with your work and your art, if you're feeling the album and what you're singing each night, I really think that a CD can have a way longer life than that first month the majors give you," Kane says. "For me, it took a year. That's when everything started happening. The majors suck the artist dry promoting one record, and if it doesn't "hit' within a month, they're all left with nothing. Think of Fleetwood Mac, and how many albums they released before they got really successful. That's just unheard of now.

"I just keep putting one foot forward. I've always come up against the same fears and doubts that everyone does when they chase their dreams. I never once came to this conclusion that "Oh, I've made it. Look at me!' There's always been a little small voice that tells me to keep going. I really believe that only you can choose if you're gonna fail. You're always gonna fall on your butt. However, it's only you who chooses if you get back up again."

Christine Kane will play the Evening Muse on Friday at 7pm and 9:30pm. Tickets are $12 in advance for each show, available at www.theeveningmuse.com

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