Exploring a Sound That Highlights the Past and Present

Passenger Profile: Margot Blanche

By Kenny Kerner
taxi member success margot blanche
Studied vocals with an opera teacher? Classically trained? Lived in Hong Kong for 17 years? Writes R&B/Soul music? What? Are you hooked already? Here's the story of Margot Blanche, this month's TAXI Passenger Profile:

How long did you live in Hong Kong and what are your remembrances of it? Where else have you lived?

I lived in Hong Kong for about 17 years and moved to New York to pursue my music career. I love Hong Kong and it was a fantastic place growing up. On the musical end of things however, there were not very many opportunities for me to evolve and learn more about music and the music business beyond the classical arena. I've also lived in the Philippines for two years, which was a great experience as well.

Your bio says that one of your vocal instructors was an opera soprano. What was that like? Were you into opera?

I'm still a huge opera fan! There's no other vocal style that requires more discipline, training, and skill than singing opera. Studying it was really great to lay down the foundation of healthy vocal technique such as breathing, vocal control and pronunciation. I studied a lot of Italian coloratura soprano pieces with long runs and nimble vocals which ended up being great practice for all the R&B/Blues licks and ad-libs you hear on most of my songs.

When did you realize you wanted to have a career in music? What was it that led you to this decision?

When I made the transition from classical music to R&B/Soul it was like Pandora's Box opened for me and I realized this was really something that I wanted to do professionally and share my music and my voice with others. I was greatly inspired by legendary soul artists who had intensity and conviction in their performances and who moved their audience on another level emotionally. I wanted to be that kind of artist who makes an impact on audiences with the material, the performance, and the songwriting. I was 16-years-old when I decided that I wanted to be a professional musician and started singing live at local Hong Kong venues, showcases, talent competitions, and even a school musical to get experience performing live.

Was your family supportive of this decision or did they want you to seek a more traditional career?

My family is incredibly supportive of this decision and has always been there to help me and support me. It was my mom's idea to record my first demo CD when I was 15-years-old. My dad always wanted me to continue in the classical arena, but I think he understands now that contemporary music is the way that I am able to truly express myself and where I am happiest.

Do you remember the very first original song you wrote? How old were you when you wrote it, what was it called, and was it any good?

The first original song I wrote was called "Wonderland." I wrote it when I was about 16 and it was a song that was inspired by the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" using inspiration from Alice in Wonderland. Looking back now, it was a great writing exercise.

Tell us about the CD you are working on now? What kind of music is it and who are you working with?

I'm so excited to be writing, co-producing, and recording my first full-length album. As a starry eyed teenager, I was always waiting for the big magic record deal to fall on my lap so I could create my own record. But now I see beyond that and for the first time, I'm holding the reins in making my artistic and musical dreams come to life. This album is going to be 100% me since everything from the ground up was conceived and is being written by myself. All the material is very personal and reflects where I've been and where I am going as an artist and as a person.

I've been working remotely with two very talented producers, one from Ohio and the other in California, who have really grasped the concept and who are working really hard with me to get this material to be the best it can be. The sound is inspired by the style and sounds of the 1920s through 1950s. I love big bands, brass band sounds, and live instrumentation from that era. I think there are many artists out there who are exploring the retro, nostalgic side of soul music while others are venturing into Motown, 60s and 70s style music.

For this album, I'm not looking to create a scrapbook of sounds of the past that are remixed and produced to sound like an old Billie or Dinah album. What I am really interested in is exploring a sound that highlights certain attributes of those vintage records and blends them in with beats and innovation of today's music and production techniques. I think that it will be a very interesting and a fresh perspective.

How did you first hear about TAXI?

I first heard about TAXI through a recording magazine. I'm not exactly sure which one it was because I frequently pick up recording magazines and see advertisements about TAXI and I figured it looked very professional and was definitely worth a try.

Why did you join?

I joined because I was interested in the prospect of having my songs and my voice heard by industry professionals and getting the opportunity to be presented to companies that were specifically seeking and requesting submissions from TAXI.

How has TAXI helped your career?

I have had several of my songs forwarded to companies and labels for further review. I always check to have my songs reviewed by TAXI prior to releasing them to the general audience. I find that the reviews that I have received have been extremely insightful and helpful in finalizing and polishing my existing songs.

Has your perception of the music industry changed since joining TAXI? If so, how?

I think it's incredibly competitive out there and although TAXI is a fantastic tool for any artist and musician looking for a deal. I believe artists have to take the initiative to make their aspirations and dreams come to life. Nobody wants to invest in an artist who won't invest in him/herself. Especially in this day and age of the Internet, computer recording software, and all the tools there are out there for Indie artists, we've really got a great opportunity to make the most of it and put ourselves out there.

What are your plans for the rest of 2008?

Right now I'm gearing up with my band to start performing the live circuit in New York City with my new material. It's going to be lots of fun and the musicians I am working with are really talented and great to work with. Upon completion of this album, I am teaming up with a company, which will help me promote and provide exposure for this album and to shop it around to the right people. It's going to be a fun year and I am so excited about it!

And we here at TAXI are also excited for you. We hope you'll keep in touch and let us know how the tour is going. Thanks, Margot.

We're always supportive of all TAXI members!

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