*Note: Eric Dick conducted our live interview session while Celleste sent in her responses via email correspondence.
Co-writer and producer Eric Dick joins us for some delicious coffee from Marmalade Cafe at the Malibu Country Mart to discuss his and his partner Celleste‘s anthemic single “We Go On (California Strong),” their work with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, and not being afraid to share your voice for the greater good.
You’ve recently released your single with Celleste “We Go On (California Strong)” in support of the rebuilding efforts after the devastating aftermath of the wildfires here in Southern California. Apart from its clear story from the lyrical perspective, how did you decide on the instrumental elements that you chose to include, as well as the tempo since it’s upbeat for a song of that nature?
Eric Dick: The idea was for “We Go On” to be a big powerful anthem. The content is very lyrically driven, so it’s all about the vocals standing out in front and was really the essence of the production behind it. Everything else was kind of put in to do its job, but there’s nothing really extravagant sticking out, or being highlighted, or taking precedence over anything. It’s really all about focusing vocals and big drums, and that’s what an anthem is about for me and was why we went in that direction.
I felt like because there was an epic-ness to it that it really put more of an importance to make you actually listen to these lyrics, especially for those that live in the areas of California that were affected by the fires.
Eric: That was the idea, just to focus on the words and what the song is really about. It was about getting a message across in a big, like you said, epic way.
Yeah! And would you care to share with us little sneak peek on what you guys are working on?
Eric: We were working on stuff when we got here. We actually just moved here about a year and a half ago.
Oh cool! From where?
Huge weather change! *laughs*
Eric: Huge, but a good huge. *laughs* So yeah, we started some songs before we left Canada, but we also had some other ideas in the works that we were working on last year. The idea was to release singles and EPs like any other artist does, and in the middle of that creative process, the fires happened. So we asked ourselves, ‘What can we do about this?’ and it took us on a different journey than what we had originally planned. So in terms of any sneak peeks, right now “We Go On” has the spotlight, but at the same time we’re going back to our original plan of releasing singles. There will be a new song soon, and another one after that, and another one after that!
Yeah! And you guys recently did a charity event with the song as well.
Eric: Yeah, which was also a big feat. We didn’t have much time to plan it, and considering that we’ve only been in Malibu for about a year, we were just absolutely blown away by the amount of people that came to support. Celleste performed her upcoming single during the event, and we also had a silent auction to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. There was a great turnout, great food, overall a great night!
I’m glad that it was successful!
Eric: Yeah! It was a great first event, and it’s just the beginning! We forged this partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, and they created a fund in our name called the We Go On Fund, in which all the money raised from these fundraising events, video circulation, donations, and everything else will go into that fund. This was just the first of many events with them, and we want to take it on the road and do other events in different places affected by fires or natural disasters.
That’s so great that you want to use the song and the partnership to shed awareness and hope to other communities! We are stronger together!
Eric: Yes we are!
I feel like a lot of artists nowadays seem to be more open in regards to their thoughts on political agendas, environmentalism, and even just their own personal experiences. How do you feel about that proposed trend?
Eric: I actually just read an article on Mark Wahlberg who said that actors should stay out of politics, so it’s funny that you ask that question. Celleste and I always felt that we would have a voice and that we would have our own foundation, or do something in that nature, to use that voice for good. Artists and entertainers are in a position where they can help and raise awareness because people know who they are, people look up to them, and they have a built-in fan base of people listening to them. Celleste and I both believe it’s an important thing to use our voice for good, and that there’s a lot of good to be done for sure.
Absolutely! And I feel like for artists that should be the end goal, right? To have a positive impact on their audience.
Eric: Yes, absolutely!
How would you say that the recording process for “We Go On” was similar or different than that of your past work? Or even your future work?
Eric: That’s a good question! I would say that it’s different because we recorded this in a house before the fires had hit. It was a small bedroom set up by a guy who does professional studio work, really basic setup, but it turned out that the room had amazing sonic qualities to it. After we were done we said, ‘Wow! This room sounds really good!’ and I think it was the best sounding room I had ever worked in. Something that was different for me personally, I ended up mixing and mastering it in that same room, and for me, it’s one of the best sounding things I’ve ever done. Usually I would go out and have it mastered by someone else, whatever the case may be, but in this case, it was start to finish in that room. Another thing that was unique about it was that it was the only song done in that room before the fires hit.
Oh my god!
Eric: Yeah. It was almost like that song had its own studio.
That’s so crazy to hear, especially with the subject matter of the song. It’s kind of crazy and ironic in a way.
Eric: Yeah, luckily we were just sort of forced out of the house and it didn’t burn to the ground. But yes, it was a little funny that it was the only thing we did there. I’m so happy with the way it came out.
Hopefully one day. From the ashes we will rebuild.
Eric: Yes, exactly. Oh yeah, it’s all there. It will all come back in time.
So getting into a broader sense of the music industry, right now modern music listening tends to be focused on not only on the streaming aspect, but also on single releases and shorter EP releases as opposed to longer albums. Why do you think that’s kind of the trend nowadays?
Eric: Trends are trends I think, but a bit of it still has to do with the attention span of people. I mean, I watch a lot of people streaming their music, and sometimes they can’t even get through more than a minute of a song. They’ll start listening to one, and then all of a sudden they say, ‘Oh wait, I wanna listen to this!’ and then go to the next one. So with the whole shorter releases thing, I think that it’s just a trend. It’ll work for some people, of course, but I think that it’ll die out and then eventually people will want more. Someone’s going to make it their ‘thing’ to only release albums, and what would be cool is to have it where there won’t be any separate songs on it. Like, someone’s gonna come out with an album that’s one track that consists of a bunch of songs, so if you wanna hear your favorite song then you’ve got to listen to it all the way until you get to it or you’ve got to fast forward. Someone’s probably gonna do something like that, and it’ll change the way people listen to music, and be the newest, coolest thing. But in a nutshell, trends are trends and evolve with time.
So if you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with, who would you choose and what would you name your tour?
Eric: Ah, this is a question for Celleste, and I think that it should be directed at her. She’s really the front-woman of the project, and I don’t want to answer for her. I don’t even think I’d even be able to choose three artists to go on tour with. *laughs*
That’s a hard question, there are so many great performers that I love, but Justin Timberlake is my favorite male performer and I would absolutely love to share the stage with him. Beyoncé, to me, is the best performer of all time, so it would be an honor to work with her as well. Then it gets complicated…who to pick: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars? I can’t [choose]! They’re all amazing artists that I admire who put on incredible shows. So I think I’ll have to go with the Queen herself – Madonna, and I guess there’s no need to explain why! As for the name of the tour, well, it would clearly be called ‘The Dream Tour!’– Celleste
Would like to share your thoughts on if female singer-songwriters have pressures placed on them to be a certain way in order to have a successful career?
Eric: I’d say that she [Celleste] knows that it exists, especially when you’re doing pop music. There are certain expectations and stuff like that, but she’s always tried to stay away from that. There’s always a fine line between keeping up and being up to date with all the trends in music, and then being yourself. I think she’s already walked that line very carefully and properly. Again, I’d have to have her answer that question for herself, but that’s my outside perspective.
I think people are freer than ever nowadays to be themselves, and I think that being yourself is the most powerful and daring thing a person can be.
Now you mentioned that you guys are new to California coming from Canada. What would you say are some differences or similarities in regards to the music scenes? Especially in comparison to L.A.?
Eric: Oh there’s huge differences. Obviously, there’s a lot is happening in L.A. all the time, and even though there’s a big music scene in Montreal, it’s still very different. Half of it is French and half of it is English, so there’s a lot of mixed stuff going on music-wise. And really, if you want to do stuff that’s gonna reach a major amount of people, you want to be doing it out in L.A., that’s a sure thing. We actually chose Malibu because we were drawn here magnetically. The logical thing would have been to settle in L.A. and be around all the stuff going on there, but for some reason when we first came over to this side we said, ‘We’ve gotta be here!’ Moving to Malibu is what got us in contact with the fires and made this song possible, and it completely changed our lives this year. We were just following our hearts and this is where it took us. But back to the question, yes, there are a lot of differences, and we’ve even made different choices musically due to those differences.
So social media has pretty much taken over as the main form of marketing nowadays whether we like to admit it or not. Would you say that it has helped independent artists to make a name for themselves or do you think it makes it harder?
Eric: I don’t think it’s the main form per se, I think it’s what everyone says it is or wants it to be.
Perhaps it’s the ‘easiest’ form?
Eric: I think it’s easily accessible to the mainstream, whereas, buying a billboard on Sunset Boulevard just isn’t that accessible for an independent artist. Instagram, and social media in general, are very accessible, but I wouldn’t call those the main form of marketing. I think a lot of artists focus just on social media and think, ‘I’ll put it on Facebook, I’ll put it on Instagram, I’ll tweet about it as much as I can, and I’m gonna make it!’ I think social media is really only 25% of the marketing these days, but there’s still a lot of tactics to consider whether you want to refer to them as ‘old school’ or not, like street teams or phone calls or press. Sitting here with you doing an interview is also a type of marketing that helps gets your name out.
Do you feel that heavily partaking in social media adds a pressure to portray yourselves in certain ways to your audience? Or maybe feeling like you always have to have something going on in order to keep the buzz afloat?
Eric: What I like about her social media from an artist standpoint is that she discovered her own voice. Her posts, and all her positivity and everything, is really a reflection of her and who she is on a personal level. It’s not someone who’s fake. I understand that you’ve gotta take selfies sometimes, even though it’s not a normal part of anyone’s life. You’ve gotta do these things because people like to see your face and see what you’re doing, but there’s a way to do it that she’s found that I really admire. It’s just like writing a book, or writing a song, or anything. It’s finding your own voice, and that’s what’s gonna show through.
Absolutely! And you both are also involved in film making apart from music. If you could create any type of film right now at this very moment in time, what type of concept would you do?
I LOVE sci-fi movies, but time-traveling is my favorite subject. I must have seen Back to the Future 2 at least 20 times! I’m fascinated by the intricate storylines, and a great example is the series Dark on Netflix I just finished watching season 2 – incredible!– Celleste
And film and music intertwine pretty frequently whether we realize it or not. Do you feel that a song could easily make or break a scene?
Eric: Oh absolutely! I’ve seen lots of movie and TV scenes where the music choice just completely ruins it, but I’ve also seen others where the music steals the show because it’s just so good. I will choose to see certain films because I know who the composer is and I know there’s something moving about the film if they chose to do it. I try to watch the movie through their eyes and understand what they’re thinking musically.
How do you balance your personal life with your professional life?
Eric: You balance it with delicacy and with effort. It’s hard and challenging for sure, but I think we do a great job at it.
Art is a major part of our relationship, and since we share every aspect of our careers, the personal parts and professional parts often intertwine without really realizing it. But when work takes up a lot of space, we make sure to take breaks. We’ll go to the beach, go for a drive, make ourselves a nice dinner, enjoy a nice conversation… and of course what do we often end up talking about? Work! Lol!– Celleste
If you could give your younger self some advice in regards to what you’ve experienced so far with music, or life in general, what kind of advice would you give?
Eric: To not worry too much and to trust myself more, which I do now. My younger self definitely could have used that advice. *laughs* That’s my answer, I won’t answer that for Celleste.
Trust yourself and follow your heart and intuition. Whatever people may say or think about you, always listen to your inner voice. Only you truly know what’s best for you.
I think we definitely spend more time worrying about other things than it really matters.
Eric: Yeah, you have to learn how to let go and let someone else help you. You can also take someone else’s advice, but you have to know why you’re going to take that advice. You have to ask yourself, ‘Do you need that advice?’ Just basic things like that should make you want to listen to your little voice really, really strongly. I feel like my little voice was always there from a very young age, but if I didn’t have the support system, like friends or family, telling me to listen to that voice then I may have missed out on some opportunities. I learned it as I got older, and I’m definitely thankful that I did!
Life is full of lessons! Always learning every day!
What do you hope that Celleste’s audience will take away from her music?
Eric: I know from Celleste‘s perspective, she wants to make people feel good, smile, reflect, and feel whatever they feel from the music. From my perspective, it’s music that becomes a part of what’s happening in that moment. It’s a very existential way to look at things, but when I listen to songs that I loved like ten or fifteen years ago, I remember all of the moments that they represented. I think if our music can be a part of people’s lives and move them in that kind of way that would be amazing. We’ve had fans that have written to us saying things like ‘I’ve been through a rough time,’ or ‘I just lost my dad,’ or something like that, and then saying ‘this song really pulled me through.’ That’s what you do your art for, to make people feel good and help them in some way.
That’s why music is such a universal connector, especially now.
Eric: Not only is it therapeutic for the artist, but you also hope that it processes in some way to the listener. I hope that her music does that. From a producer’s point of view, we still want those same goals. Somebody came up to me at the last event and said, ‘Man, those drums, they really got to me!’ It’s fun to hear that people like the way it sounds and say that it moved them in some way. I listen to music that way, so it’s great when I hear that.
Yeah! And last question, apart from new music, what other big and exciting things should we be expecting from you guys?
We just started working with a Malibu-based company called Curtco Media. They are launching many new podcasts over the next year, and Eric and I are supplying the music, and themes for many of the shows. And in the next few months, I’ll be releasing some new singles and videos. At the same time, we have lots planned for “We Go On (California Strong)” as far as fundraising. Right now we’re working on getting the “We Go On” merch into a few stores across L.A. (all profits go directly to our fund at Habitat For Humanity), and we’re also reaching out to cities and towns throughout California that were affected by fires, to help them with our efforts in whatever way we can. I tend to keep my plate pretty full, as I’m a project driven person. I’ve also got ideas for films, documentaries, TV shows, book projects, you name it! There’s so much I want to accomplish in my life, I might need a second life or two to make it all happen! Lol.– Celleste
Eric: I think that “We Go On (California Strong)” is gonna bring a lot of interesting moments for us, but will also do a lot of good for people. Celleste made it on the cover of one newspaper, and had a big feature on another newspaper, and I think that people are getting behind the cause of it. Working with Habitat For Humanity has been a great thing, and that will surely open some doors as well. I mean, from us as artists, I think it’s music, it’s videos, it’s live shows, just a little bit of everything. This project has a full other arc that it’s gonna do, and it’s been kind of fun to be doing both things at once. I mean, I could have said that we’re going on the road with the circus, but nothing that wild is happening for us.*laughs*
You never know, it could happen. We are in Southern California. The opportunity could easily present itself. *laughs*
Eric: You never know what’s gonna happen next!
To donate to the We Go On Fund for Habitat For Humanity, head to www.WeGoOn.org.
About Marmalade Cafe – Malibu:
Marmalade Café is very much the happenin’ place to be for delicious California-themed cuisine in one of Southern California’s most beloved beach cities – Malibu. Located at the adorable outdoor shopping center, Malibu Country Mart, it’s one of two shops that offers coffee options of the local nature, and boy, does it really hold its own against the likes of Starbucks and The Coffee Bean Tea & Leaf (which are both also located in the mall). I got myself a wonderfully creamy Hazelnut Latte, and to be honest, if it wasn’t peak beach tourism season, I totally would have gotten a table and ordered myself something scrumptious to devour, even if it meant needing to choose between all of the items on their eclectic Brunch menu. While spending a fair amount of time at Marmalade Café wasn’t in the cards that particular day, it left a memorable impression on me with its welcoming log cabin design elements showcased on its exterior, and their wonderfully classic home-y interior display. But don’t worry though, Malibu Country Mart has an abundance of outdoor seating at the ready so you have plenty of opportunity to enjoy your delicious caffeinated beverage while soaking up the rays and beach vibes.