INTERVIEW: Michael Lockwood

Deko Entertainment is excited to be partnering with producer/guitarist Michael Lockwood (Aimee Mann, Carly Simon, Fiona Apple, Susanna Hoffs, Ben Taylor) and help launch his new label Sparkle Plenty Records. Deko will be working with Michael on a series of collaborations over the next year with the first being the single “Unkind” from Bird Streets (with Aimee Mann on bass). This is the first new music in three years from John Brodeur’s project is an epic breakup song marked by unflinching self-reflection. “This was one of the first things I started writing after my wife and I separated,” says Brodeur. “It’s about taking a broader look at a difficult situation, and owning up to one’s role in making that situation difficult. It’s probably the most honest thing I’ve ever written–an apology by way of an admission.”

Producer-guitarist and Aimee Mann associate Michael Lockwood helmed the recording. “I met
Michael through some mutual friends in Los Angeles,” says Brodeur, “and he played guitar on a
couple of our live shows there. We hit it off great and I was already a fan of his work, so it just
made sense to record something together.” In turn, Lockwood enlisted Mann herself to play
bass, along with some of her longtime band members, including Patrick Warren, whose
gorgeous string arrangement, in tandem with Lockwood’s fluid and melodic guitar lines, give an
emotional lift to Brodeur’s weary, longing vocal.

The mix, by Grammy winner Michael Brauer (Coldplay, John Mayer) helps guide “Unkind”
through its dynamic peaks and valleys, creating a remarkably cohesive and affecting piece–all
the more remarkable considering the entire recording was produced during lockdown, with none
of the players ever in the same room. “Unkind” is the inaugural release for Lockwood’s brand new label, Sparkle Plenty Records, and the first glimpse of the forthcoming second Bird Streets LP, due out this fall.

We get to sit with Michael to talk about the single and more!

1. What was the driving force or inspiration behind the launch of Sparkle Plenty Records, and how did Deko Entertainment play a role in that?

We want to create a home where artists feel safe, and they can experiment and make the album they need to make. My focus is to place the importance back on the song, the singer/songwriter. Bird Streets was a perfect choice; as I worked with John, I sang his praises to everyone I knew. I so badly wanted to make something happen for him. It turns out that I needed to look no further than myself and Jeff Keller to make that happen. Most of my musical history has been supporting the singer/songwriter. I have had the good fortune to work with so many incredible songwriters, and John Brodeur belongs there with the best of them.

Deko has been so helpful, and they have an incredible report with Jeff. Things happen fast and furious. They are just a text away, and that is such a breath of fresh air. I could not be happier with the way things are working out.

2. How was the process of starting up this venture? Do things feel a lot different today regarding the overall landscape of the music industry than they were, say, ten years ago?

 Oddly in the middle of the Pandemic, this slowly gelled together. Jeff Keller had reached out to me via Insta while writing and recording for Francis Devout & the New Spiritualists, an Indie music project I had put together with the talented Grant Nobleman. We had just placed songs that were featured on “The Young & The Restless and an independent thriller “As the Village Sleeps.” Jeff and I had zoom calls every couple of weeks for months, and at some point, it was decided he would manage me, and the rest is, well… recent history. Jeff secured a record deal for me with Deko Entertainment, and soon after, he and I created Sparkle Plenty. A vehicle for me to get my projects out and into the wild.

As most people know, the music business has radically changed over the years and even more now. It doesn’t resemble what it once was. Do I think that’s a bad thing? 

No, actually, it’s pretty freeing, and in conversation with Bruce & Charlie from Deko Entertainment, we started talking about how we bring this outside the box? That is going to be an ongoing discussion. My focus for the moment is to create or ferret out quality music and get it to the people.

 3. Is the label looking to sign more acts in addition to John? Or are there any other exciting collaborations in the works for the future?

Priority one is to put together some exciting collaborations. We have quite a few things in the works. Old and new. Our focus recently has been on John Brodeur’s Bird Streets. Their latest single, “Unkind,” was just released. We should see the release of a full-length LP late this year. That will include some incredible musical contributions from a slew of fantastic musicians who all share the love of John’s writing.

Our following single will be the first new music in over 20 years from L.A. eighties darlings, Lions & Ghosts,  who released two critically acclaimed albums for EMI America in 1987 & 1989. 

We are in the throes of putting together collaborations for an upcoming tribute album showcasing the songwriting of Aimee Mann. Stay tuned for some special surprises.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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