Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Secret Musician #2 REVEALED!

Man, one of my favorite things about my job as it stands is that I get to mess around with music more than I thought humanly possible. I love finding new music, and I love making music, and when I can combine the two with book-making, well. I felt rather cheeky last year when I approached musicians about possibly setting some of Shiver's lyrics to music, and I was thrilled when both of the artists I asked said yes. One of them, as readers will already recall, was Jonas & Plunkett (Their version is here).

The other musician is one that I found, in a backwards way, through my writing. I had done a school visit at a Northern Virginia high school back when Lament came out (so, 2008. I was a baby writer). The creative writing teacher asked me if I wanted to come to the senior high's open mic night. Apparently, students felt free to climb on stage and share music, poetry, and whatever else could be shared on a stage.

I wanted to say no.

I have been a musician for a very long time and I have been to enough open mic nights to know that, generally, they are painful things. They are like family reunions. The concept seems great. But they always go on and on and someone always gets food poisoning. But I was a baby writer, so I agreed.

And shock of shocks, it was not painful. In fact, it was the opposite. In fact, there was a musician there I was so sure was going to be famous someday that I wrote his name on my hand with my signing Sharpie so I would remember to google him in a few years.

And that's Secret Musician #2. I tracked him down, nearly three years later, and found out that he was just working on recording an album. I asked him if he would be interested in recording a version of "Summer Girl." And he said yes. A couple months later found us in the studio, me recording my music for the FOREVER trailer, and he recording "Summer Girl."

I'm very pleased to be able to share Sulaiman Azimi's version of "Summer Girl." I wanted to do a proper video teaser of it, but I caught a cold at BEA, and I am feeling indolent and terrible. I am actually wearing an orange t-shirt and a purple plaid button down at the moment, and if that doesn't convince you of my dreadful feelings, I don't know what will. So instead of doing something new, I remixed my very first stop-motion project, with Sulaiman's song attached.

If you love it, PLEASE support Sulaiman by going to itunes or Bandcamp and buying it (you can get it for 50% off at Bandcamp using the code 'forever'). And do follow him on twitter (@sulaimonster) or check out his website: www.sulaimanazimi.com so that you can keep tabs on when his album comes out. He'll also be at the launch party in Tyson's Corner, VA, for FOREVER.

Hope you guys love it, and I'll leave you with a very brief Q/A with him!

MAGGIE: I approached you pretty much out of the blue about Shiver. I remember thinking “this guy is going to think I’m such a stalker.” What was really going through your head when you got that e-mail?

SULAIMAN: I was just surprised you remembered my name from an open mic so long ago. I replied to your email with a picture of Shiver and Linger and a receipt next to it, haha. I couldn't find Shiver or Linger at Barnes and Noble until I found like 30 of them on their own separate shelf. At that point I was thinking "Whoa." I was and still am very excited about the putting music to these wonderful books.

MAGGIE: Well, "Sulaiman" is sort of impossible to forget. Sort of like "Stiefvater." Something about starting with an S and being hard to spell. So, I know that you read SHIVER before you started writing the music for “Summer Girl.” How much did your reading inform your composition process?

I kept coming back to the first ten or so pages. I wrote the music based off of a feeling I got from the beginning of the book. By the time I got to the "Summer Girl" lyrics, it was done. I got to hear a song in my head when reading that part.

MAGGIE: Which is amusing to me, because that's how I wrote the lyrics — by inventing a tune in my head while I stared at the computer screen, and then writing lyrics for it. So I reckon that makes you the second person ever to read that page that way. Talk to me about how you compose. I tend to start writing almost all my tunes while standing at my kitchen counter, but I understand this is not the only way.

SULAIMAN: You won't believe me, but I wrote "Summer Girl" in my kitchen. And you're right, its not the only way because I write songs in every room in my house, except the laundry room.

I would believe you, on both counts. It's a universal truth that proximity to cookie dough increases creativity and proximity to laundry detergent squelches it. I notice that you share some Sam-like features. Do you think that you’re like him, at all? Also, will you ever shave that beard?

SULAIMAN: Yeah, we're both totally adorable and we play the guitar. I was sad to find out he doesn't have a beard though. I definitely thought that since he's a wolf and all that'd make sense. I trimmed mine a week ago, I'm feeling pretty good about it.

MAGGIE: What’s next for Sulaiman Azimi?

We're working hard on a record and "Summer Girl" will be featured on it! The album is called The Music of Sulaiman Azimi and it's due this Summer 2011. It'll be available alongside "Summer Girl" at SULAIMANAZIMI.COM (bookmark it!) and please follow me TWITTER.COM/SULAIMONSTER for some hilarity. I want to thank y'all for the opportunity of putting Summer Girl to life.
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