Eric's song, "Wake Me in Paris," was a semi-finalist in the 2017 International Songwriting Competition. It is currently a semi-finalist in the 2018 Unsigned Only competition. As Sons of the Golden West, in 2016 his CD received college radio airplay. Eric's music has appeared in over 200 TV episodes on major networks, including NBC and MTV.
Sons of the Golden West produces indie rock, Americana, singer/songwriter, alt-country and pop rock. Need a complete backing band? Eric sings and plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, lap steel, banjo, ukulele, keys, drums, and percussion.
You can find a list of TV credits at www.sotgw.com or www.ericbutterfieldmusic.com
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Interview with Sons of the Golden West
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Listen carefully. Listen again, and hear the accompaniment in my mind's ear. I serve the song and look for those magic moments.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: They ask if I write lyrics, because although they've written lyrics and I'm doing the music (and singing), they worry that perhaps the lyrics could be better. The answer is, yes, I have written hundreds of songs. And, yes, if I have your permission, I will make minor changes for the sake of rhythm, flow of language, and sometimes word choice. Of course, you can always request that the original lyric be used, and that's OK too.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I really enjoy the songwriting of Ryan Adams, Wilco, Son Volt, Elliott Smith, The Shins, The Decemberists, Gram Parsons, Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Neko Case, Johnny Cash, Andrew Bird, Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Folds, REM, The Replacements, 16 Horsepower, Uncle Tupelo, Hank Williams Sr., Yo La Tengo, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, Pixies, Big Star, Pell Mell, Interpol, and way too many others to mention.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Almost daily, I am recording original songs and instrumental compositions for a music production company and various music libraries. Most recently, I recorded the lead vocal for a client's demo. In addition to endless virtual instruments, these I play in the real world: Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel, keys, melodica, banjo, ukulele, bass, drums, and percussion. I am a perpetual songwriter and lyricist.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I recently released an EP, "Oh, California!" by Sons of the Golden West. I am currently in the studio recording a couple singles, while simultaneously working on two follow-up albums: one of songs, the other of instrumental music. And there are always, quite literally, a couple hundred recorded song ideas awaiting attention.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both. While I love the convenience of digital, music demands the right sound. That's why I have a rack with a tube mic pre, an outboard compressor/limiter, a tube EQ, and an effects unit (not to mention guitar pedals on the floor).
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: You'll be happy with the results. I have not had a client return a project. If something's not right, I'll fix it. I am very good at what I do. But I don't pretend to do absolutely everything under the sun. If I don't think I'm the right person for your project, I'll tell you. I won't waste your time trying to be something I'm not. Your music deserves the best player for your style and needs.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Writing, playing and recording music. What could be better?
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What kind of music do you like that you want your music to resemble without exactly mimicking? Is there a genre outside of the obvious that you might want to subtly make its way into your music? Do I have permission to subtly alter your lyrics to better fit the rhythm of the music I've written?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Be clear about what you want, and don't be afraid to ask for it. Bad communication will likely result in disappointment. I've never had a client turn down my creation, and have received very high marks for my communication and my productions. I put the client first, and I don't go down a road if I'm not sure the client wants to try it. I ask questions before I start, and will ask for clarification along the way to make sure you get what you want. It's your baby.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Assuming this desert island has no electricity, I'd take my acoustic guitar, classical guitar, ukulele, banjo, and drum set.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Music has always been a big part of my life. And I've played many shows in many bands over the years. But in 2008, at a fork in my career path, I began a concerted effort to build a career producing music for TV, film and advertising. So far, my music has appeared in more than 180 TV episodes, and been played during hockey pregame shows in Madison Square Garden.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: While I've done a number of vocal tracks for customers, the full song productions I've done have brought the most pleasure -- particularly those where I played a hand in rewriting some of the music and lyrics. Having a client who is thrilled with a full band recording of their song (having never heard it properly recorded as such) is very gratifying. Helping someone bring their song to fruition is the best.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Nuanced singer/songwriter and indie rock with an Americana undercurrent.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Ryan Adams. I simply love his songwriting.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Don't rush it. Go for the overall feel, not chopped-up perfection.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: For full songs with vocals, I usually am writing singer/songwriter tunes with a strong Americana, indie rock, alt country, or power pop influence. I am always working on a wide variety of genres for a music production company, which also can include jazz, easy listening, and orchestral indie pop, etc.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I think songwriting is my strongest skill, the ability to create a mood and to convey it in a uniquely told story. I love clever lyrics -- as long as they're not trying too hard.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Good melodic sense and judgement. I seek melodic and rhythmic phrases that complete a song, to help it say what it wants to say. Knowing when to shut up and let it breathe is key, to add dynamics and contrast. It's all about the song and the message. And, speaking of the message, I am also very experienced in helping a lyricist streamline what they want to say, for clarity (I have a degree in English Literature, with an emphasis in creative writing).
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I record in Pro Tools with a vast array of top-notch plugins and microphones, such as Sennheiser MD 421 II, Shure SM57, and AKG C414. I use a tube mic pre, outboard compressor/limiter, and tube EQ.