Tag Archives: Michael Kratz

This blog is made from blood, sweat, and tears

Amanda and I don’t use the blog to tout successes very often. We want to write about being fans, and the blogs come from our own experiences. This post is personal, in that aspect.

Not too long ago, I wrote a bit of a review for a musician from Denmark named Michael Kratz. He had released a song back in July that he worked on with Dom. I wrote about it because I am a fan of Dom’s, and kind of forgot about it. Michael contacted me a couple of weeks later to thank me, and then ask if I’d be willing to get another one of his songs early and then blog about it since this new song also featured Dom.

I was overjoyed. I appreciated that Michael really asked for my help and trusted me with his music. I am not an author or a journalist. I am a fan. A blogger. Not many people take that seriously.  I jumped at the opportunity, and listened to the song hundreds of times before writing. (I’ve learned my lesson well, thanks to Duran Duran and our friend Lori Majewski.) I published the blog and hoped it would be taken well.

It’s kind of weird to admit that as a woman in my 40’s, I own a fan blog. Part hobby, part “full-time job that I wish were a paying one”, Amanda and I have operated the blog for seven years now. My own big dream was to have this blog lead to something that I could make into a career. I had no idea how, or what – which has always been my problem – so it is no surprise that Daily Duranie is still very much my “volunteer work”. We pay to host this site, which isn’t super cheap. We travel on our own dime, pay to go to shows, and all that stuff.  I spend a lot of time working on this site. In fact, even right now I should be working on “homeschool” with my youngest, but instead I’m writing and we’ll do school a bit later today than normal. As for money, I don’t want to think about how much we spend right now, because I will truly have a panic attack, so I won’t. Yes, we pay to write about Duran Duran. Does that make us a joke? To some, probably.

I’m pretty unsure of myself on even the best of days. My self-confidence isn’t the greatest. Lately I’ve been battling a case of the insecurities. I read things, and then have a really hard time letting go.  I’ve gotten better about it, but I still have a long way to go.  Additionally, I have a very hard time seeing and admitting to myself the good things the blog has done. It’s easier to see and believe the bad things I read and hear about the blog, and even myself as a person, I guess.

Today though, I received a message that really made a difference.  It turns out that Michael was offered record deals in two countries, and in both cases the label mentioned MY article specifically. The best part is that he wanted me to know, so he messaged me today. I’m still beaming, because it feels good to see wonderful things happen to genuinely hard-working people. I’m sure the blog played no more than the tiniest part in his record deals, but the fact that he wanted me to know warms my heart in a way I really needed.

I know that most people don’t really care about a fan site. Hell, we have a hard time getting anyone—even most of the band’s backing players, to take us seriously enough to even fill out a Q&A so that we can in turn promote them and their own careers—so I get it. By the same token, it is not just fans that read and follow Daily Duranie. We have music producers, other bands, news magazines, radio and TV show hosts, authors, and even record labels following and reading, and I’m proud of that.

Today though, I am so pleased to know that a genuinely kind and incredibly talented person I met as a result of this very blog is in the middle of making his own dreams come true. Michael thanked me for writing, but the truth is, I need to thank him for taking me seriously and trusting me with the product of his own blood, sweat, and tears. That, my friends, is anything but a joke.

-R

“What Did I…” (Feat. Dom Brown): Authentically Michael Kratz!

Amanda and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful fellow fans, and people we would have likely never crossed paths with otherwise. Recently, another such moment occurred when Amanda texted me while I was camping in the middle of a forest in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington (shout out for wi-fi!), letting me know that Dom was a featured guitar player for a new song by someone named Michael Kratz out of Denmark. I diligently downloaded the song when I got home, and enjoyed the slight flashback to the 80s in the process. I blogged about it, and assumed that would be the end of the story, right?

Wrong.

A few weeks later, I got an email from Michael himself, thanking me for writing about it, and offering me the chance to get an early copy of another unreleased song that also features Dom.

First of all, I have to tell you that Michael is the real deal. He’s a very nice guy, with a fantastic career to boot. I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of him prior to August of this year, but like most other things in life—the more you know, the more you recognize you really don’t know.  Secondly, Michael Kratz is a Duranie. Who knew?!? (turns out, a lot of Duran fans did. I’m just a bit late to the party, as usual!)  I promptly asked Michael if he’d be willing to do a short Q&A for me since I know next to nothing about him, to which he agreed, and it wasn’t long after that I had new music and a Q&A in my inbox greeting me.

If I had to sum up Michael in one word,  it would be “authentic”. He is genuine in every sense, including his approach to music, which he describes as “old school”.  His sound gives a loud shout out to the 1980’s, and Michael embraces this.

“I think my sound is pretty old-school. After many years in the music business I figured out, that I must be honest to myself and my roots. I have released several albums with different bands, but it was difficult for me to relate to the way the music was produced.”

He likes to call his brand of music West Coast, and if you think back to bands like Toto, Michael McDonald, Richard Marx, Marc Jordan…and I’d even add a bit of Cutting Crew to that list…his music fits in very well in that lineup.  Rather than try to be something he’s not, he found a producer, namely Kasper Viinburg (and his father Ole Viinburg) who understood and appreciated the sound he was trying to attain. I think any of us who have been around for the entire evolution of Duran Duran recognize how difficult it can be to find a producer that is equal parts of push and pull (pushing to reach new levels, pulling the authentic, real sound out).

Having grown up on the west coast, I certainly heard a lot of that music on the radio.  If you take a look at my iTunes, you’ll see quite a bit of that in my library as evidence. It isn’t a stretch for me to listen to “What Did I…”.  As I listen to the opening notes, I can’t help  but think of Richard Marx, in the same way that I thought of Toto or Michael McDonald when I heard “Never Take Us Alive”.  While sure, the sound isn’t necessarily pulse-pounding, state-of-the-art EDM, it is clear, authentic, and real, which I appreciate.  Dom’s guitar gives the melody a modern edge without completely blowing the song out of the water. There’s something to be said in this day and age for music that holds true to the roots of the writer while seeking to be contemporary. “What Did I…” hits all of those notes. A little something more I picked up on after listening several times— Dom’s blues influence is evident. I challenge anyone to give this a listen, and then take “Please, Please” from Dom’s Blue to Brown for a spin. The similarities are there for the taking.

Overall, I’m thrilled to help out a fellow Duranie. There’s a part of me that finds a certain poetic justice in the fact that once again, it’s Duran Duran’s music that brings people together. I may have never heard of Michael had Dom never recorded with him. Yet here I am, writing about how like many of us, Michael recorded Sing Blue Silver from TV back in 1985, and he rewound and played “Save a Prayer” over and over again because he loved the song so much. Who hasn’t done that with their own favorite song or band member?  Michael has also had the chance to see the band quite a bit over the years, although because he’s a musician in his own right, he’s missed opportunities. Michael cites a story that only seems familiar to me because my overall luck has been similar.

“Back in 2008 when DD played in Odense (DK), I was playing in a venue right next to the stage. I got to see the support act (Saybia) and 10 minutes before DD should enter the stage I had to leave for my own soundcheck. So while tuning my drums I could hear the band’s starter, The Valley, and I couldn’t go out to see them. That was a bad day!”

While we’re on common ground as far as being fans goes, I can’t say I’ve ever missed a DD concert because a gig of my own was happening at the same time! Then there’s meeting and recording with a fellow musician who just happens to tour with Duran Duran…

“I just wrote him [Dom Brown] an email one Sunday afternoon.  I sent him some tracks and we talked about styles etc. and agreed to meet in October last year. My producer and I stayed with Dom at his studio for two days and we did two songs (“Never Take Us Alive” and “What Did I ..?”. He is very nice and it was very easy to work with him.”

Michael Kratz is one hard-working musician. “What Did I…” is due out tomorrow, so grab your copy!  His new album, Live Your Life, which includes “What Did I…”, is due out October 26. In addition to Dom, Michael worked Steve Lukather of Toto, Michael Landau (Michael Jackson, Richard Marx), and David Garfield (George Benson).  He describes the album as ranging from the classic pop/rock vibe heard in “What Did I…” to a more modern Brit-pop, which intrigues me.  He also has re-recorded his first album, Cross that Line, which was just released, and then on November 30, he will release a double live-album that was recorded in February of 2017.

If being hard-working in the studio isn’t enough, Michael is also easy to connect with online. He’s no slouch to social media, and MANY Duranies have already found him on Facebook as well. (I dare say that I know of a guitar player that could learn a little something about self-promotion from him)

I want to thank Michael for pushing me to get back in touch with my own roots. Since first hearing his music, I find myself gravitating to my old Cutting Crew and Toto albums, which has been a refreshing change of pace. There’s something about the authenticity in the music that I’ve been enjoying, and it’s good to hear someone like Michael staying true to himself. The fact that he’s also a Duranie is a bonus! I look forward to staying in touch and keeping up-to-date with what he’s working on.

“What Did I…” and “Never Take Us Alive” are available on all digital platforms worldwide (“What Did I…” drops tomorrow!), and they’re also available as CD’s from Michael’s website http://www.michaelkratz.net.

If you want to connect with Michael Kratz (and I really think you should!), check him out:

Michael on Facebook

Michael on Twitter

Michael on Instagram

-R

 

 

 

 

 

Never Take Us Alive feat. Dom Brown

Anyone heard the latest single from Michael Kratz featuring Dom titled “Never Take Us Alive”?

Interestingly enough, we didn’t hear about the single from Dom himself, but instead we caught it “through the grapevine”, and Amanda alerted me while I was…yes again…deep in the forests of Southern Washington. It is a miracle I had cell coverage, but no wi-fi, and unless I wanted to risk life and limb downloading it while using our (VERY!) limited data plan that has to be split between five family members, I had to wait until I got home to download and listen.

I tweeted Dom a few times about this, trying to get him to come out from under his rock (or out of his studio) to share the news of the single, to no avail. Turns out, I think he’s traveling. Having a holiday with family, as if that’s a thing or something. <wink> I did finally see a tweet from him announcing the song on release day, and that was it.

Seems to me he needs a PR person, or at least someone well-versed in social media to help him with this stuff. I know Dom works a lot outside of his Duran Duran touring, and produces for a lot of people. Seems to me he could really publicize far more than he is in order to help make a bigger name for himself…but what do I know? I merely write a daily, very-well read, fan blog that Amanda and I built from the ground up.

Did I mention that I work for cheap? 😀

I digress…

I’m bad with names sometimes, but I couldn’t make a connection to Michael Kratz. So I searched for some basic information. Turns out, Michael Kratz is Danish, and has done session work over the years. He has several albums out in a style called west coast—a style attributed to the coast on which I live in America—and I’ve never heard of it before now.  According to westcoast.dk, it’s a style that emphasizes melody, harmonics and arrangement. When I listen to Michael’s music, I hear heavy 1980s pop with lush electronic backing. It vaguely reminds me of some electronic musicians I’ve seen that tend to play small venues, and it’s usually just themselves and their keyboard set-up, but Michael’s work seems a bit more complex with far more dimension. It’s still very pop compared to anything on our radio these days.

I have a feeling that west coast music is one of those styles that is popular in other parts of the world, unbeknownst to those of us who live here…and so the rest of the world might think everything we listen to here in California sounds that way. Kind of like how most of the country (if not the world) thinks we all surf every day or have lunch with celebrities. Newsflash: we don’t. I haven’t been on a surf board since I was in my late teens, and using the word “on” is exaggerating, if you understand what I mean. I’m trying to remember the last time I saw a celebrity anywhere near me, and unless we’re talking Duran Duran….I think Teemu Selanne is the only one I can brag about. His daughter and mine were preschool chums, and my youngest is now nine.

Aside from being puzzled as to why Dom didn’t take full advantage of those of us who would buy nearly anything he’s worked on, I was happy to hear some new music from him. I wasn’t really ready for the full blast back to 1987 or 1988 when I listened to “Never Take Us Alive”, though, I must admit. That took more than one listen to warm up to, and I don’t want to pan Michael (or Dom) for that, it’s the style – and it’s just very different from what I might hear on any of our radio stations in the US right now.  Dom’s guitar cuts right through the melody, adding much-needed “guts and groove”, and he sounds like he’s having a lot of fun playing it too, which I appreciate.

Yes, “Never Take Us Alive”  is about as pop as you can get, reminding me of when I worked at (dating myself here) Millers Outpost (google it – the store was famous for having a denim “wall” in the back of the store and carried Levi’s 501s, an American clothing staple) in 1988. We had a stereo system in the store that played what felt like a revolving track of late 80s pop. Not a single The Cure or Duran Duran song to be heard, with endless hours of Lionel Richie, Steve Winwood, Terence Trent D’Arby (if I ever hear “Wishing Well” again…), Jermaine Stewart, Richard Marx, and so on. You get the idea. I quit working there after three very long months. I wonder why?

Rambling again…this is what happens when someone stays up until after 1am, watching The Killers concert stream from Las Vegas, I suppose. I need coffee.

Regardless, after many listens, I’ve decided the tune is catchy, and I’m starting to find myself humming the tune and knowing some of the words. Dom’s guitar adds exactly the right touch, and I love hearing his groove in the background, adding backbone and structure to a song that I have to admit would be incredibly shallow otherwise. It is worth the $1.29 download just to hear what he’s worked on. Sometimes it is easy to forget that Dom is a very accomplished session guitarist because he’s been with Duran Duran for so long.  I will brag about him to anyone who will listen (or read!) and say that his session playing has improved a hundred-fold since I first started checking him out. I can hear the emotion and enjoyment in his playing, which can be challenging to do as a session player.

I only wish he’d let some of us help him publicize and brag about him a bit more!

-R

Get your copy of Michael Kratz “Never Take Us Alive” on iTunes! Click on the photo to go to iTunes.