January 20, 2017
Originally from Arkansas, Kim Swink has lived in NYC for more than 20 years where she works in film and television production. As a freelance writer, producer and director her clients include HBO, Comedy Central, The Independent Film Channel and Sesame Workshop.
In 2013, Kim returned home to Arkansas to produce and direct her first feature film, Valley Inn, based on her screenplay and co-directed by her husband, Chris Spencer. While producing the film’s soundtrack of exclusively Arkansas music & artists (including Academy Award-winning actress, Mary Steenburgen and American Idol-winner, Kris Allen who co-wrote the original song, Love in a Small Town, for the movie), Kim met singer-songwriters Amy Garland Angel, Mandy Mcbryde and Bonnie Montgomery, who would later form The Wildflower Revue, whose debut album Kim and Chris produced in summer 2016 under their media company This Machine Inc.
Chris Spencer was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand.
After high school, he moved to the US and enrolled at NYU in New York City as an urban design major with a minor in photography and French. He just wanted to take art history classes but we all know there’s no future in that.
He fell sideways into television. It was either serendipity or a terrible mistake but his luck held when he ended up at HBO on the cusp of their meteoric rise in the television pantheon. He was the head of marketing creative for the last many years of his time there and executive produced campaigns for The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Band of Brothers and Game of Thrones, among many others.
Since leaving HBO, Spencer has co-directed a feature film, ‘Valley Inn’ with his wife Kim Swink, the film’s writer, producer and director. Also, he has worked as a creative director for several ad agencies, producing work for Ford Motors and other clients; as well as heading up National Geographic’s promotion & marketing campaign for the upcoming series, Genius, by executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.
Along with Swink, Spencer is now turning his attention toward music, recently producing the debut release from the Little Rock-based trio, The Wildflower Revue. He always wanted to be in the band. This will have to do.
The Wildflower Revue will be having their debut CD release party tomorrow night at the Dreamland Ballroom in downtown Little Rock. The party is sold out but for those attending the new CD will be available there or you can order online at CDBaby.com and on The Wildflowers Revue Facebook . Read a Q&A with the band. Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[0:00:03.2] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Be sure to stay tuned till the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:16.6] KM: Thank you, Tim. You’re listening to KABF Radio in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m Kerry McCoy and it’s time for me to get all up in your business. Before I do, I want to give a shout out to RJ Martino from iProv who subbed for me last week. Thank you, RJ. His guest, Roland Delgado, an American mixed martial artist. He’s a bad, bad guy and he has a gym called the West Side MMA and I wanted to have him on and talk to him and RJ beat me to it.
[0:00:49.1] TB: He scooped yah.
[0:00:49.6] KM: He scooped me. Than you, RJ Martino and Roland for coming on last week. I heard it was a great show.
40 years ago with just $400 I started Arkansas Flag & Banner. Since then it’s morphed into simply flagandbanner.com with sales nearing 4 million. That’s worth saying again. I started Arkansas Flag & Banner with just $400 and today we have sales nearing 4 million. I started by selling flags door-to-door, then went to telemarketing, next, mail ordering, and catalog sales, and today we rely heavily on the internet.
In addition, over the last 40 years, I’ve navigated Flag & Banner through two recessions and two wars. When people find out I’m that women who owns Arkansas Flag & Banner they often say, “Oh, I’ve heard about,” and begin asking me business advice. I amaze even myself with all the knowledge I’ve gained.
If you call me for advice, or my guest, you will not be given textbook answers or theory, but you will be given candid advice from real-world experience. Be prepared for the truth. It’s not always easy to hear. For instance, you may not want to hear this. In business, there are very few overnight successes. Starting and owning a business takes persistence, perseverance, and patience.
When I started Arkansas Flag & Banner, I supplemented my income by waitressing all while I pedaled my flags door-to-door. After nine years. Did you hear me? Nine years of working a part-time job, the company began to grow and solely support me. My first hire was a bookkeeper. My first expansion was to begin the manufacturing of custom flags. The next decade ushered in Desert Storm War, flags were scarce, so a screen printing department was hardly built to meet the consumers’ demands.
In addition to sales and manufacturing, Flag & Banner now has a purchasing department, a shipping department, a technology department, marketing department, call center, and retail store, and I spearheaded each of these developments. My experience is deep and wide and my advice is free. I hope you’ll take advantage of this unique opportunity by calling or emailing me on today’s show.
Before we start taking calls, I want to introduce the people at the table. We have Tim Bowen, our technician, who will be taking your calls and pushing the buttons. Say hello, Tim.
[0:03:12.0] TB: Hello, Tim.
[0:03:12.7] KM: My guests today are New Yorkers and multimedia producers, Kim Swink and her husband, Chris Spencer. Though Kim has lived in New York for 20 years, she was reared in Arkansas and Chris hails from New Zealand. You’ll recognize his accent.
They’ll in Little Rock today to promote and celebrate the release of a CD which they produced for the new trio called The Wild Flower Review, starring Amy Garland, Mandy McBryde, and Bonnie Montgomery. Kim Swink is a freelance writer, producer and director. Her clients include HBO, Comedy Central, The Independent Film Channel, and Sesame Workshop.
Chris Spencer worked at HBO during its meteoric rise in television. HBO did have a meteoric rise. He served as an executive producer on such notable shows as — Are you ready? Sex in the City, The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Band of Brothers and, yes, The Game of Thrones.
[0:04:18.6] TB: I’m a huge fan. I love Game of Thrones.
[0:04:22.7] KM: In 2013, Kim wrote, produced and director her first feature film called Valley Inn right here in Arkansas and Chris served as her co-director. While producing the film soundtrack of, exclusively, Arkansas musicians including Academy award-winning actress, Mary Steenburgen and American Idol winner Chris Allen, Kim met singer, songwriters Amy Garland, Mandy McBryde and Bonnie Montgomery who in the summer of 2015 formed a trio, called it the Wild Flower Review. It is Chris and Kim’s media company, This Machine Inc. that produced the Wild Flower Review’s first CD that is being released tomorrow at the Dreamland Ballroom and we’re here today to talk about the business of film production, record production and share some never before heard tracks of the new Wildflower Review CD.
Welcome to the table, entrepreneurs, husband and wife also, Kim Swink and Chris Spencer.
[0:05:23.0] KS: Hi.
[0:05:23.7] CS: Hi. Thank you very much. Actually, I should probably correct my HBO credit. I was the executive producer of the marketing creative for those shows. I was the marketer in charge or bringing those shows to the public.
[0:05:37.1] KM: That one little word makes a difference.
[0:05:39.0] CS: I wish I was the executive producer of Game of Thrones. Believe me.
[0:05:42.4] KM: Executive producer of the marketing —
[0:05:43.3] KS: Everything that promoted the shows.
[0:05:45.7] KM: You got to be good at promoting this new CD that you’ve got to do.
[0:05:48.8] CS: We’ll see.
[0:05:50.2] KM: It’s a very impressive resume, both of y’all.
[0:05:53.1] CS: Thank you.
[0:05:53.0] KS: His’ especially.
[0:05:54.3] KM: Tell us how you feel about your first work. Isn’t this your first work on a CD?
[0:05:59.3] KS: Well, it’s kind of my second, because I did the soundtrack of the film Valley Inn, our film that we did together. A lot of that was producing original music like the one Mary Steenburgen and Chris Allen co-wrote for us and several songs that Little Rock musician and writer, Jeff Coleman, wrote just for the movie. A few others were — How I met Amy, Mandy and Bonnie — I already met them, but how do I knew that we should do something with the three of them as a group was they each had an individual song on the soundtrack and then I asked them together to do a hymn that I needed then that I wanted real kind of country harmony, and it was so great. It turned out so great that I kept pushing Chris to, “Let’s do a record with them.” He kept saying, “I’m not a record producer,” and I knew that he could because he’s amazing at music.
[0:06:57.7] CS: She said, “We are now.”
[0:06:59.2] KS: Yeah. When I finished the soundtrack I walked in, he was in the bathroom brushing his teeth, and when I finished doing everything that would then have actual CDs of the soundtrack mailed to me, it was like from disc makers. I walked in to the bathroom and said, “Now, we’re record producers. Now, you need to do that record with the girls.”
[0:07:21.4] KM: Was that the music that you’d finished producing for your film or the music —
[0:07:24.3] KS: Yeah. When I finished the soundtrack.
[0:07:28.0] KM: For the film.
[0:07:28.5] KS: For the film and was going to have actual records, CDs, then I said, “Okay. If I can do that and end up with a box of a thousand CDs, then we’re record producers. What else is there to do?”
[0:07:44.0] KM: What do you think, Chris? What do you think about being a record producer? Do they still call it a record producer even though it’s CDs?
[0:07:49.8] CS: They still do call that a record producer, and the first and most interesting thing about it was when I sat in the studio for day one, I thought to myself, “All those years of sitting around listening to music and being told that I was a lazy bum, are finally going to pay off, because when you’re producing records, what you have is a pair of ears first and foremost. Anybody can do this if you got the right ears. That was sort of my first thought about getting into the studio with these guys.
The parallels between producing music and, say, directing talent on a film set are very similar. You have talent with varying degrees of confidence and they want somebody to tell them, “We can do this. This is going to be great. This is going to be all right.” It’s a very similar process to directing on set. I went from very uncomfortable about this to actually sort of settling in to a group, because directing on set is something I know how to do.
[0:08:49.9] KM: I never thought about it being so similar, but it’s the same talents with the same insecurities and they really just want you to listen and then do what?
[0:08:59.1] CS: And then try to bring their vision to light. Quite often, this is a vision that they have a hard time articulating. You are there as sort of a translation vehicle as well as some other things, but you’re there to listen to interpret and to sort of put the artist through some sort of realistic filter so that you end up with an object in your hands that will make sense to people when you play it to them.
[0:09:23.6] KM: Let’s listen to one of the tracks on the CD. Which one do we want to do first? We talked about one —
[0:09:30.0] CS: Yeah. Let’s listen to Bad News, the first track, because it really immediately shows you what gorgeous harmonies the three of them have. The three of them are naturally harmonious. When the three of them start to sing, they lock into a harmony and you’ll hear it right away.
[0:09:45.1] KS: It’s amazing. They’re just gorgeous together.
[0:09:47.5]TB: All right. Here we go. First track of the new album.
[0:11:50.6] KM: Wow! Their harmony is almost like family.
[0:11:54.4] CS: That’s a lovely way to put it.
[0:11:56.4] KM: It does. Like the new way families can harmonize like nobody else can. Who’s song is this originally?
[0:12:04.6] KS: Traditional song. It’s a public domain, old, old, mountain song. Nobody knows who wrote it. Probably the most famous recorded version of it is Johnny Cash. Did it a long time ago, decades ago, obviously.
[0:12:20.0] CS: The interesting thing about it is with a song like Bad News, it’s traditionally sung by a man. It’s great to switch the — To flip the gender switch and have these women stand up and take on that sort of role of, “I’m bad news. You better watch out for me. Here I come.” We thought it was a beautiful way to lead the record because it’s a portent or a gateway to everything that’s about to be heard.
[0:12:46.6] KM: Did they pick the song or did you all suggest it?
[0:12:49.3] KS: Actually, I found this really great website. There was a guy — I’ll try to keep this brief. There was a guy, I’m pretty sure it was Max Hunter but I’d have to double check that, who was a traveling salesman in the 50s and 60s and his territory was kind of the Ozark, Missouri and Arkansas, and he started meeting all of these incredibly rural people who would be playing the banjo on their porch or whatever. He started carrying a reel-to-reel tape recorder and he recoded hundreds and hundreds of people just doing these. He was archiving all these traditional mountain songs that nobody knew what the origin was. A lot of them probably came from Ireland and came out over from other countries with immigrants. He kept all these things and eventually donated all these reel-to-reels to the University of Missouri Springfield and they have put them online. You can actually go into that archive and click on these songs and it will be Joe Fred McCoy on a certain data, Little Rock. They went as far as Little Rock and Hot Springs, but mostly it was Northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri, and just hundreds of public domain songs and some of them just sung acapella by just an off key elderly woman. He just wanted to know what the songs were and then he painstakingly transcribed them into compositions. He also did the music, the cheap music for them.
[0:14:35.6] KM: What a passion this man has.
[0:14:37.0] KS: Yeah. It was amazing.
[0:14:38.2] KM: And a lot of time on his hands.
[0:14:39.6] KS: I found that and I just started clicking through and listening to these people that are just — It’s like frozen in time.
[0:14:45.6] CS: It’s a gold mine.
[0:14:46.6] KS: Bad News was one that —
[0:14:48.9] KM: Your ears came into — You used your ears. Did you listen with her on all these different songs to pick up?
[0:14:54.2] CS: We did. We spent a bit of time listening to stuff. We found a lot of good material on there, but that one really stood out.
[0:15:01.1] KS: It just seemed like a badass, if I can say that on the radio.
[0:15:05.3] KM: You can say that on KABS Radio.
[0:15:07.0] KS: — Show for them.
[0:15:09.1] KM: You think about authors of books doing a lot of research, but in your business you have to do a lot of research.
[0:15:15.4] KS: Oh, yeah. Especially — I had to research the business of music being a record company because we had never done that.
[0:15:26.6] KM: You heard the Wildflowers while you were reviewing and looking for music for your film.
[0:15:32.3] KS: Yeah. They weren’t a group yet. I’ve met them each individually.
[0:15:37.2] KM: How did you learn about them?
[0:15:39.1] KS: The first one I met was Amy Garland —
[0:15:41.5] KM: Angel.
[0:15:42.4] KS: Angel, who I was introduced to you by Lisa Coleman who I just, by chance, met and her husband, Jeff Coleman is a musician. She introduced me to him and he ended up doing quite a few original songs for the film. He wrote them specifically for the film.
[0:15:58.1] CS: Another brilliant, brilliant Arkansan musician, by the way.
[0:16:01.4] KS: He literally just cranked out perfect songs.
[0:16:01.8] KM: Don’t we have a lot of brilliant people in Arkansas. It’s like the old Austin, Texas, isn’t it?
[0:16:07.6] CS: Let’s just take a beat on that, if you don’t mind, because we spent a lot of time working in New York and L.A. and as people who’re working in the creative community in those places, and forgive me for saying this out loud, Arkansas is not top of mind when you think about sort of a creative hub, but our experience both on the movie and in the music community is that Arkansas, through its history, by the way, is a heart bed of musical and other creative arts activity. It is incredible down here. How many talented people are playing out in the town every night of the week, people who will blow you away.
[0:16:48.7] KM: Shh! Don’t tell anybody.
[0:16:50.9] CS: I know now. Now I know.
[0:16:53.4] KM: I feel that way about Little Rock, Arkansas all the time.
[0:16:56.5] KS: I think more and more people are figuring that out. More and more films are being shot down here.
[0:17:02.5] KM: Yes.
[0:17:03.3] KS: I think people are starting to catch on to the talent that’s in this state, all over the state, Northwest Arkansas, down at El Dorado is incredible, and Little Rock, Central Arkansas, Conway, all those —
[0:17:16.1] KM: You didn’t have any problems making a film here as far as —
[0:17:18.8] KS: No.
[0:17:19.2] KM: Okay. As far as state rules or laws.
[0:17:23.0] KS: I don’t know. The film commission and all is very helpful when me made the film. I think I may not be updated on this, but they did lower or do away with the film incentives at least temporarily, but I think they may have those back which definitely helps bring filming, but they were in place when we made our films.
[0:17:42.7] KM: I want to hear some more music, but before we do let’s remind everybody why you’re in town. Tell us why you’re in town.
[0:17:48.2] CS: Well, we have the distinct privilege of premiering the Wildflowers Record release tomorrow night at the Dreamland Ballroom and we are so excited to be in that venue, in a venue with such a storied history. The fact that Amy, Mandy and Bonnie are going to stand on that stage, a stage that’s hosted, Ray Charles, Louis Jourdan, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and on and on, that they will get on the back of that musical line and stand on the shoulders of those giants and go out and play on that stage is going to be a beautiful experience and we could not have found a better place to do this and just to be able to really say to everybody in the community here, these three women have arrived. They made a great record. They’re a great live band. They have incredible musicians and we are going to rock the house tomorrow the night.
[0:18:38.7] KS: Yeah, I just want to — That it’s celebrating the release of their debut record, but it is also a benefit for Dreamland Ballroom which is undergoing amazing renovations to try to hang on to and bring back this piece of magical history, and we’re so happy to be involved in that. We didn’t even realize the history of it when we saw photos of it. Chris is the one who just became dead-set on that being the place that this release party was going to be, because he didn’t want just the typical music venue.
[0:19:19.7] KM: Well, it won’t be typical, and Dreamland appreciates the fundraising that you’re doing because some of the proceeds are going to the renovation of the Dreamland Ballroom. Thank you very much.
[0:19:28.0] KS: Yeah. We’re so happy to be part of that.
[0:19:29.7] KM: Let’s pick another song. I know the listeners are dying to hear it. Which one did we decide, two, or did we want to jump to — Or did we want to do the last song, or do we want to do the one you like, Tim?
[0:19:41.1] TB: I’d let the producers decide.
[0:19:42.2] CS: We have one more song, or two more songs?
[0:19:43.7] KM: I think we have two more songs.
[0:19:44.6] TB: There’s two more songs.
[0:19:45.2] CS: Why don’t we play a little bit of Don’t Call It Country, which is the song that probably has the most commercial appeal, I think. You could argue that.
[0:19:52.4] KS: Of the original songs.
[0:19:53.4] CS: Of the originals.
[0:19:54.2] KM: Are any of the songs that they’re writing —
[0:19:56.0] KS: They wrote all 10 of them. Only three are cover songs.
[0:20:00.2] KM: Okay. We’ll talk about that when we get back.
[0:20:02.2] TB: Don’t Call It Country. Enjoy.
[0:22:50.4] KM: There you go. That is nice. I think I call that country. Did they write that song or is that a remake?
[0:22:59.8] KS: Yeah, Amy and Mandy wrote it, and they wrote it kind of as a compliant or protest against the so-called country, things that are really like pop county and it’s not real country to them. Then Mandy and one of the articles that just came out this week, I think in Arkansas Times, there was a quote from her saying, “That’s what we were doing, and then we ended up writing country pop song.” When we heard it and started working on it, we said, “Oh, that’s the radio hit. That’s the one that could be played on all the country radio stations.”
[0:23:38.7] CS: It is. We want to walk that one around Nashville and hope someone will buy it.
[0:23:43.6] KM: Oh, wow! Tell us about that. How do you do that?
[0:23:47.7] CS: We’re sort of finding that out as we go. Everything about being in the music industry is something that we find out the day that it’s happening.
[0:23:53.3] KS: We’re not going to literally walk around Nashville until someone buys it.
[0:23:57.1] CS: I might.
[0:23:57.8] KS: For one thing, they’ve already got two songs that the record is not even been released and we’ve already got two songs that have been licensed to be on an episode of Tyler Perry’s new series. It’s on TLC.
[0:24:12.0] KM: Is that because of your connections?
[0:24:13.5] KS: — called Too Close. It is, it’s because of the wonderful — The guy who is wonderful, who was our music supervisor on Valley Inn. He does all of Tyler Perry’s music supervisions.
[0:24:26.2] KM: It is kind of who you know.
[0:24:27.4] CS: Are we allowed to say his name?
[0:24:28.7] KS: I’m going to say it because he deserves the credit, but I hesitate to just because I don’t want him to be inundated with from musicians wanting to get their music license.
[0:24:43.9] KM: Okay. Don’t say it. We don’t need any
[0:24:45.0] KS: No. I’m going to say it. It’s Joel High and he’s amazing. He’s music supervisor on the movie Monster’s Ball and all of Tyler Perry’s movies, other non-Tyler Perry movies and he does all of Tyler’s —
[0:24:59.9] KM: If they can’t come, like [inaudible 0:25:02.4] can’t, because he’s probably working, they can get the CD.
[0:25:05.3] KS: Yes. Starting tomorrow. It’s being released tomorrow. Be available at cdbaby.com/cd/thewildflowerreview. That’s our exact website.
[0:25:21.2] KM: Landing page.
[0:25:21.9] KS: You can buy either a physical CD or a download of it starting tomorrow, the release date. It takes about a week to two weeks after it’s on CD Baby for it to be on iTunes. It will be available on Amazon. I have to bring a list to know where all.
[0:25:41.8] KM: Oh, sure. After a week you can get it on iTunes.
[0:25:44.7] KS: A week to two weeks. iTunes has their own process that is sometimes can take — The most would be two weeks.
[0:25:52.5] KM: Talk to me about the business of getting on CD Baby and iTunes and Amazon. Is that a big deal?
[0:25:59.4] KS: It’s not anymore, which is why I was able to walk in to the bathroom and say to Chris, “We’re record producers now,” because websites like — First, we go to discmakers.com and everything’s done digitally. You upload the music. They do their quality check. You upload all the information, then you upload the artwork, which I want to give a shout out to Isaac Alexander who’s also a musician who’s going to be singing in our created choir tomorrow night on a couple of the songs. Isaac is also an amazing graphic designers and he designed the CD artwork.
[0:26:41.1] CS: He’s from Arkansas.
[0:26:42.2] KS: He’s from Little Rock. You upload the artwork and you’re able to talk on the phone with them constantly, all these websites. That just happens to be the one I used for our soundtrack and for this.
[0:26:57.1] KM: You upload your music on to —
[0:26:58.4] KS: You do it all — You don’t have to be a manufacturing facility. You do it all online —
[0:27:06.6] KM: Then they send it to you, and then they’ll mail you the CD.
[0:27:09.0] KS: Yeah, they send you — Then you order your CDs and they get them done very quickly, so we gave you one of the CDs. Then you can choose to distribute through their partner CD Baby, and I chose that rather than trying to get it on all those individual things myself.
[0:27:30.0] KM: They distribute it for you. That’s why it takes a week.
[0:27:33.1] KS: Yeah, you only have to do the registration with CD Baby then and then they send it on to all the partners, which are iTunes, Amazon.
[0:27:43.2] KM: Then they get a percentage, I guess, of everything that sells?
[0:27:45.6] KS: Yeah, and it’s not that much.
[0:27:49.5] KM: Anybody can get published, I guess.
[0:27:52.3] KS: It’s serious do it yourself DIY. There’s a bit DIY distribution conference of musician conference in Nashville every year in August, and I’m going to go to that just to learn more about the distribution.
[0:28:09.0] KM: Because you don’t do enough.
[0:28:10.4] KS: Yeah, because I don’t have enough on my to-do-list.
[0:28:12.9] KM: Her husband is laughing. Chris is laughing.
[0:28:16.3] CS: You should see her to-do-list. It’s truly frightening.
[0:28:19.8] KM: What about the Wildflower? I know you met each of these girls individually. How did you figure out they all sang together, and what about their singing did you fall in love with?
[0:28:31.7] CS: They’ve known each other for a while and have been friends, but it’s Kim’s movie that really brought them together as a musical unit, as a trio. The amazing thing about this trio that if you take each women individually, and Amy Garland Angel, you have somebody with a very earthy, bluesy, rootsy tone and she’s got kind of a bottom in to her vocals. She’s incredible soulful.
[0:28:55.9] KS: That good Bonnie Raitt kind of raspy voice.
[0:29:00.7] CS: She’s got that earthiness. Then you have Bonnie Montgomery who has an incredible range. Bonnie is a trained opera singer. She’s written opera about the early life of Bill Clinton. That’s playing around right now. Her vocal abilities are world-class.
Then you have Mandy who’s got this really beautiful kind of midrange and has a very sort of longing kind of melancholy quality to her vocals, and you put these three different voices together and something absolutely beautiful happens with that alchemy.
[0:29:39.3] KS: Yeah. Mandy has just got that pure, like an Emmylou Harris kind of purity to her voice.
[0:29:44.6] KM: I think of her as innocent.
[0:29:46.6] KS: Yeah, a purity.
[0:29:47.0] KM: I don’t know why.
[0:29:49.0] KS: She’s just sweet, sweet as anything. They all are.
[0:29:54.1] KM: Did they decide to be the Wildflower because of you, or did they decide —
[0:30:02.7] KS: They decided to take it to a level that was beyond just hanging out on one of their porches and playing and drinking beer.
[0:30:12.9] KM: Being an Arkansas, a real Arkansan?
[0:30:14.8] KS: Yeah. They decided to take it to like a professional level.
[0:30:14.8] KM: They decided or you decided?
[0:30:23.1] CS: We encouraged.
[0:30:24.1] KS: Yeah. We started right away. Well, I started trying to talk Chris into — That’s when he was saying, “I’m not a record producer,” and I kept telling them, “I want Chris to produce a record for you.” They got kind of serious about and they were starting to write some songs together and then they were calling themselves the Wildflowers, which is what they were going to be called. When we started recording, and I wanted to do a Facebook page for them, that’s when we found out that there’s a fairly successful band called The Wildflowers, so we had to change it to the Wildflower Review, which we liked anyways.
Yeah, they got a big show at Ron Robinson and sold it out and they weren’t even really kind of — It was their real official thing as a group. They were still calling themselves The Wildflowers.
[0:31:13.8] KM: It was encouraging and validated kind of who they were. What, Chris? He’s about to say something.
[0:31:18.9] CS: The thing is the origin story of the whole thing is kind of interesting too and very Arkansan. We started out going to visit them at Amy’s Cabin, which is by the Red River in the middle of Rural Arkansas.
[0:31:32.9] KS: Well, when we knew we were doing the record. Yeah, we had a writing retreat for five days of the Little Red —
[0:31:38.0] CS: We literally sat around the fireplace while they kind of worked on their songs.
[0:31:43.5] KS: In the outdoor file, like the fire pit. It was awesome.
[0:31:46.8] CS: Kind of watched them kind of bring the beginnings of these songs together and then we sort of started to chime in, “What about this for this song? What about that for that one?” We sort of became a melded unit really kind of around the fireplace. The way I’d like to think of it is that they sort of took the music from music they could stand around and play in their bare feet to, now, music that they probably have to wear shoes to actually go play.
[0:32:11.7] KM: Nobel boots.
[0:32:11.6] KS: That’s a very Arkansan way.
[0:32:13.7] KM: They’re going to wear boots. They’re not going to wear — I know those girls. They all wear cowboy boots.
[0:32:18.5] KS: Kicking boots.
[0:32:20.9] KM: Let’s play another song and then we’ll come back and talk about what y’all’s business side of it is.
[0:32:27.4] CS: Why don’t we play one of the covers, because the thing that they do really well is that they can take something and expect it from somebody else and make it their own. As a former punk rock guy, I really wanted them to do a punk cover, and this is the song that they have always wanted to sing.
[0:32:43.9] TB: All right. Here you go. Enjoy it.
[0:35:32.9] TB: All right.
[0:35:34.2] KM: Wow! Yeah, that was different. That was a different take on talking head — What’s the name of that song?
[0:35:40.3] KS: Psychokelly.
[0:35:40.9] KM: Psychokelly. Yeah, that’s a different spin. Right then you heard Bonnie, trained opera singer singing in —
[0:35:48.7] CS: I was Bonnie’s very amateurish French coach for that vocal session.
[0:35:55.3] KM: Oh, yeah! That’s right. You have a degree in French. Don’t you?
[0:35:58.1] CS: From a million years ago.
[0:36:00.3] KM: I didn’t put that in your bio when I read —
[0:36:01.7] CS: I wrote the French part out phonetically on paper and she got it exactly right.
[0:36:07.1] KM: To do opera, and she’s a trained opera singer, you have to know German, French and Italian, don’t you? Is that correct?
[0:36:13.9] CS: You at least know — You have to know how to pronounce those.
[0:36:15.9] KS: Yeah, you have to be able to read it phonetically, I guess.
[0:36:20.4] KM: Oh, okay. You helped with their names. We’ve talked about that. What do you think? Chris you said something earlier about — I said do you — Do you think you’re going to be a record producer and do this again? You said —
[0:36:35.0] CS: Well, I’ll tell you what. If I could do that for living, that’s all I’d want to do from here on out. I think — I think I always wanted to be in a band, and I’m never going to be in a band. This is a close as I can get, because I’m standing in the middle of, say, the Wildflower Review and they do something and I go, “Oh, okay. That’s good. Shall we do another one?” At that moment I realized, “Wow! I’m in the middle of this.” It’s the most beautiful feeling in the world especially when you’re working people who are talented and passionate and who care about what they’re doing, because they had all the integrity. I just have the encouragement.
[0:37:18.0] KM: Being a film producer, I was going to come back and talk to you about exactly what your role is and you have to do a lot of research to pick out songs. You have to be a coach, you said, a confidence coach during the recording. It sounds like you have to speak a little French.
Then since you have an experience in marketing, do the producers usually go on to the marketing side of it also? Is that what you’re going to do?
[0:37:44.2] KS: No, but we’re acting as a label as well. That’s what the label would do, but sans a bonafide label, we’re doing that as well.
[0:37:57.9] CS: We might as well do that as well.
[0:37:59.4] KM: What do you say is a bonafide label?
[0:38:02.0] KS: I said Sans. Like Lou having signed with Universal Recording. This machine is — I think has the label.
[0:38:11.7] KM: That is the label.
[0:38:13.1] TB: That’s a Woody Guthrie reference.
[0:38:14.5] KS: Yes. Absolutely.
[0:38:15.4] CS: Well done. You get 10 points for that one.
[0:38:18.8] KM: Yeah. Nobody would get that. What’s the reference?
[0:38:21.6] TB: On his guitar he would write —
[0:38:23.5] CS: This machine kills fascists.
[0:38:25.4] TB: That’s right.
[0:38:25.8] KS: Meaning music can overcome the worst.
[0:38:30.9] KM: Oh, boy. Yeah, you need to explain that, because that was on my list of questions to ask you. What does the name This Machine Kills Fascists. Now, I get it. It’s this machine ink because you’re going against the man.
[0:38:45.1] KS: Yeah. Even though the ink kind of —
[0:38:48.8] CS: It’s a little irony in ink —
[0:38:50.5] KS: There’s a little irony, but hopefully that we create will be —
[0:38:55.8] KM: Yeah. You’re incorporated with the man, but — You said something about you have a creative choir tomorrow night. What does that mean?
[0:39:03.9] KS: Yeah. Amy and the girls have put together — I think it was Chris’ idea originally that there’s a couple of songs that have a gospel feel to them, Ain’t No Grave and With Grace. I’m not sure. There may be some other songs the choir is going to sing with, but Chris wanted a big gospel — Not big, but a gospel choir to back them up and really fill out those songs, and Amy has pulled together — I’m sorry, Mandy and Bonnie, a few also were involved.
[0:39:38.2] KM: I know Charlotte is in the choir.
[0:39:39.0] KS: Yeah. I have the list. I can pull it up.
[0:39:43.9] KM: An then your friend you said.
[0:39:44.2] KS: Isaac Alexander is doing it. Brad, and Amy Williams.
[0:39:49.7] KM: How many people are going to be on the stage?
[0:39:51.0] KS: Brad of the Salty Dogs. It is an all-star show tomorrow night of Little Rock talent, because the fact that Brad Williams and Isaac Alexander and these other amazing artists in their own right are willing to be the backup choir because they love Amy and Mandy and Bonnie so much and we’ll have pretty much the entire Salty — I guess, we do. The entire band of the Salty Dogs. Nick Devlin plays the guitar for the Wildflower Review. Brad singing. It’s amazing.
[0:40:32.3] KM: It’s such a loving community.
[0:40:35.9] KS: I just can’t get over how amazing everyone is. Everyone — Because you can’t just wear one creative hat, I guess, and make a living. Isaac has its own career. He’s going to sing with them and then he’s a graphic artist who did our CD cover artwork beautifully. Everyone wears several creative hats.
[0:41:03.0] KM: What’s next for you? This is a big deal. You’re going to sell the CD down in Nashville and Chris is going to walk —
[0:41:09.5] KS: Walk and knock in doors.
[0:41:10.8] KM: Chris is going to walk door-to-door —
[0:41:13.6] CS: The rest is just all cash. Cash, cash, cash.
[0:41:16.5] KM: Then what is next for y’all?
[0:41:17.7] KS: We’re just go rake in the millions.
[0:41:19.8] KM: You said something this has been one of your most favorite creative jobs you’ve ever had. What are you going to do next?
[0:41:25.1] CS: We’d like to do more music. We’re just trying to figure out what to do with that, but Arkansas seems like a good place to start.
[0:41:35.0] KS: We need at least one assistant before we go the next — Because it’s just been like two person show on the business end of this.
[0:41:43.7] KM: Are you thinking about hiring somebody?
[0:41:45.7] KS: We’d have to hire someone at least freelance of part-time to get through. We need to anyway.
[0:41:54.1] KM: Do you work right out of your home?
[0:41:54.6] KS: We’re still doing television all the time and we really need an assistance anyway.
[0:41:59.4] KM: What are you working on now for TV?
[0:42:00.3] KM: Yeah, we work out for our home. Chris can tell what he’s working on right now. It’s exciting.
[0:42:04.4] CS: I’m working as a consultant for Nat Geo.
[0:42:06.5] KM: For what?
[0:42:07.7] CS: For the National Geographic channel.
[0:42:09.2] KM: Oh, I saw that you did some work with them.
[0:42:10.6] CS: Yeah. I’ve been down in D.C. doing some work for them. They are getting into the scripted drama content business and they’re doing a beautiful show with Ron Howard, and Imagine Entertainment with Jeffrey Rush as Albert Einstein and it is a beautiful piece of work. I’m helping them with that.
[0:42:29.0] KS: He’s overseeing that. He always undersells himself. He’s overseeing all of the marketing and promotion of that.
[0:42:35.7] CS: Having been through the HBO experience and kind of seeing when a network really comes into its own, and now I’m shilling for Nat Geo. I tell you, they’re a network on the verge. They’re an incredible network. Brilliant people and I’m really lucky to be involved. That’s what I’m doing on the commerce side of things, because one thing we did not mention is that music is vow of poverty.
[0:42:58.9] KS: Right now, the only way.
[0:43:01.0] CS: If you’re a musician or if you’re a producer of music, for all but the very few, it is a vow of poverty, so you better love it.
[0:43:06.7] KM: If you hit it big, you hit it good.
[0:43:08.7] CS: That’s right.
[0:43:09.1] KS: Yeah, and we’re going to go for that. Go for the big, or at least the medium.
[0:43:14.2] KM: What are you going to do, Kim?
[0:43:15.7] KS: Well, I work with Chris on — I basically production coordinate and production manage, script edits.
[0:43:24.6] CS: He’s the brand body operation.
[0:43:25.1] KS: I don’t do so much producing in television myself anymore. I did it freelance for so many years and when you’re freelance you work way more days and hours than someone who is on staff at a network because as a freelancer you get that disease where you can’t say no because you think then you’ll never get another call so you way overbook yourself. I really wore myself out doing it. A lot of productions with Sesame Workshop where I’d have 40 4-year-old kids that I was directing and just things that really through 20 years of doing it just wore me out so I’m really just working with Chris in this machine.
[0:44:09.7] KM: You work out of your home. You work out of your home.
[0:44:13.4] KS: Aha. In New York.
[0:44:13.5] KM: If you did hire somebody you would probably — They work out of their home or would they have to come to your house and work in your home?
[0:44:21.3] KS: No. They would not need to work in our home, but everything can be done so remotely now.
[0:44:28.1] KM: And just do it by the job.
[0:44:30.4] KS: Yeah. An assistant would be the first thing, and like you said with Flag & Banner, a bookkeeper. We have obviously our own bookkeeper, but we’re going to have to get someone specifically for this machine.
[0:44:46.1] KM: That’s a waste of a talented person’s time.
[0:44:48.9] KS: What is?
[0:44:49.8] KM: Bookkeeping. You need to have a bookkeeper.
[0:44:52.7] KS: Oh, you mean a waste of my time.
[0:44:54.0] KM: Yes. It is absolutely a waste of your time.
[0:44:57.4] KS: I wouldn’t even be able to waste my time doing it because I’m just not that — I don’t have that kind of head.
[0:45:01.9] KM: Do you recommend your career to other people? I don’t know a lot of producers out there. Do you recommend your career? We have some —
[0:45:08.6] KS: Yeah. I’ve had fun for a long time and so does Chris. It’s hard work. It’s harder than you think.
[0:45:16.2] CS: It’s hard work. It is a difficult club to get into, especially the film and television side of it. There’s like a — It’s sort of like a velvet rope situation. Once you’re inside it’s fantastic. The amazing thing about, say, working in television marketing is that you’re sitting there with a show like The Sopranos, nobody knows about it. Their name doesn’t mean anything to them, and you’re charged with this job of you’re the person or you’re part of the group that’s going to introduce this thing to the world and you have this tremendous opportunity in front of you. You know the thing is incredible, now it’s up to you to do something about it. You get to sort of hit launch on something that is going to go right around the world. That is a real thrill.
When you get in tight with these kinds of incredible projects where amazing people are doing their best work and you get to kind of bring that out, it is an incredibly rewarding experience.
[0:46:14.2] KS: Yeah. These shows and producers know the value of the marketing promotion. If you’re working in marketing and promotion you get to be intimately involved with the shows. Chris has shot with the cast of — He’s directed the cast of Game of Thrones and Sopranos and all of those people in promos and trailers and things that were not just being cut from the show. He’s been involved with all those people.
[0:46:45.4] KM: You can’t be a producer here, or do you have to move to New York? Did you all made it in New York?
[0:46:51.2] CS: You probably have to be in one of the bigger television markets if you want to work on a thing like that. There’s a lot of great local stuff going on now.
[0:46:59.1] KM: Sounds like it.
[0:46:59.7] KS: Chris use a lot of Barry Pointer. Barry Pointer, who engineered our record, he’s amazing, at Pointer Recording. When Chris was at HBO for years, for 10 years, if they needed original music he’d call Barry up, tell him the feel he wanted, and Barry would compose something. A lot of Barry’s music was on HBO.
[0:47:21.9] CS: It was on the HBO, a lot of the HBO theme stuff. Barry Pointer is a state treasure. Everybody in Arkansas and elsewhere should know about this guy.
[0:47:33.2] KS: Everyone in music in Arkansas does know about him.
[0:47:36.9] CS: Barry Pointer is a musician himself. He has a long musical history in the state and he is a recording engineer and a mixer and he is a brilliant artist who brings the best out in people with this gorgeous sounding record that sounds just right and it sounds just right because Barry is brilliant —
[0:47:59.5] KS: Barry has dog ears as Chris would —
[0:48:01.0] CS: Yeah. I’d call him dog ears. He’d go, “Did you hear that? She was flat.” I’d go, “I hear nothing. It sounded great to me.”
[0:48:09.2] KS: He’d say, “No. Got to do it again.” That record is pristine.
[0:48:11.4] KM: We’ve got a film producer who I think has got a movie that was at the Golden Globe, that Rachel movie.
[0:48:20.1] CS: What? Moonlight?
[0:48:22.0] KS: Oh, Loving.
[0:48:22.0] CS: Oh, loving. That’s right.
[0:48:23.8] KM: That’s Arkansas movie.
[0:48:25.6] KS: Yeah. I don’t know if was shot in Arkansas, but now I’m going to blank —
[0:48:28.7] KM: It’s an Arkansas producer.
[0:48:31.3] KS: He did Mud. Jeff — Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I’m — Nichols. Jeff Nichols. Yes, very successful —
[0:48:37.0] KM: Good job.
[0:48:38.0] KS: He’s famous now.
[0:48:40.1] KM: He’s from Arkansas also, and I think he — I wonder if he started in —
[0:48:42.6] KS: He did Mud in Arkansas with Matthew McConaughey.
[0:48:45.8] KM: How’s your film doing?
[0:48:48.1] KS: It’s doing well. We didn’t do a theatrical release. It’s a very low budget. Very low budget. It’s an independent film, but Walmart bought it.
[0:49:01.0] KM: Oh, good!
[0:49:02.7] KS: Yeah. Really, for a low budget independent film, it’s doing quite well.
[0:49:08.6] KM: You started this CD that’s being released tomorrow. You started it in 2015, and it’s 2016. Did it take all year? We’ve got three minutes left. Did it take all year to put the CD together? It was really 2017, but you started the film — Started the CD —
[0:49:24.5] CS: We started working on this record in the summertime —
[0:49:26.7] KM: Of 2015.
[0:49:27.5] CS: Of 2016.
[0:49:28.6] KS: I made a typo.
[0:49:30.6] KM: Oh! So it didn’t take very long.
[0:49:31.9] KS: In the spring of 2016.
[0:49:35.6] CS: We came down to Arkansas every weekend and worked on it.
[0:49:38.7] KM: Y’all were obsessed. Y’all just worked obsessively about it.
[0:49:41.1] CS: We took out the Barry Pointer’s life. His wife never saw him for the entire summer.
[0:49:47.2] KM: You want to give a nice shout out to her?
[0:49:48.6] CS: Yes, Robin Pointer gets a gold staff with just putting up with these bunch of hooligans that showed up every weekend.
[0:49:54.4] KS: Well, it was just weekends that we worked. We took over Barry oo the weekends, which is when she would have seen him.
[0:49:59.3] KM: Chris and Kim, y’all have birthed a new CD. You’re now record producers and you own your own company. Here’s a cigar for birthing —
[0:50:07.2] KS: Oh! A cigar.
[0:50:08.3] CS: Fantastic. Thank you so much.
[0:50:09.3] KM: You’re welcome. That came from the Humidor Room at Colonial Wine & Spirits on Markham Street in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m so glad to meet y’all. Really, y’all are an amazing couple. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow night.
[0:50:19.9] KS: Thank you.
[0:50:20.6] CS: Thank you very much.
[0:50:21.7] KM: We’ve got a few tickets left, not very many. They need to go on Eventbrite right now if they want to buy some.
[0:50:27.9] KS: I think there’s maybe 20 on Evenbrite.
[0:50:30.3] KM: They can come buy the CDs tomorrow night at Dreamland. Tim, you’ll be selling them at the door, right? Even if they can’t get in, they can come and buy them at the door.
[0:50:38.2] KS: That’s true. Yeah, we can have a big box of them at the door and you can get them hot of the presses.
[0:50:43.3] KM: Boy! Yeah. Also, they will be available on cdbaby.com tomorrow starting tomorrow. Today you got to hear a little bit of the music. Thank you very much for sharing that with the listeners.
[0:50:55.0] KS: Thank you.
[0:50:56.0] KM: Again, my guest today were record producers, Kim Swink and her husband, Chris Spencer. If you’d like a copy of the Wildflower Review CD it will be available tomorrow.
My guest next week is Rich Cosgrove, owner of Whole Hog Café. I hope he’ll bring us some. We’ll be talking barbeque and business, two of my favorite things. Add blues in there and we’d be done, barbeque business and blues.
Also, if you have a great entrepreneur story and you would like to share it, I would love to hear from you. Send a brief a bio and your contact into to —
[0:51:31.1] TB: Questions@upyourbusiness.org.
[0:51:33.4] KM: And someone will be in touch. Finally, to our listeners, thank you for spending time with me. If you think this program has been about you, you’re right, but it’s also about me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiring or enlightening and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence, or your life.
I’m Kerry McCoy, and I’ll see you next Friday at 2 p.m. on KABF Radio in Little Rock, Arkansas. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:52:10.1] TB: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Want to hear today’s program again or want someone else to benefit from it? Jot this down. Within 48 hours the podcast will be available at flagandbanner.com. Click the tab labeled “Radio Show”, there you’ll find today’s segments with links to resources you heard discussed on this program. Kerry’s goal: to help you live the American Dream.