by Carly Schorman
Back in 2009, for those of you who don’t remember, a major moment in Arizona music history took place – the When in AZ compilation came to life. More than fifty Arizona acts covering favorite tracks from other Arizona musicians are featured on this one massive collection that has persisted in the hearts and minds of local listeners, elevating the compilation above that of mere ephemera to a lasting marker of both time and place.
I mean, on When in AZ. Volume 1, you have a Yellow Minute recording of “Dot Dot Dot” which was a What Laura Says song, Lonna Kelley covering Treasure Mammal’s “Everybody’s A Winner”, The Liars Handshake performing AJJ’s “Let’s Get Murdered”, Black Carl covering Kinch, Fatigo, Colorstore, Truckers on Speed, Back Ted N-Ted, Kirkwood Dellinger, Courtney Marie Andrews, Gospel Claws, Former Friends of Young Americans… Gah! I’d better stop before this gets weird. You just have to check out Volume 1 for yourself here.
But we’re not here to talk about what happened way back when. Phoenix musician Nick Kizer, the man-behind-the-movement who provided the organizational force to get this project off the ground all those years ago, is ready to do it all over again.
That’s right, folks. When in AZ. Volume 2 is getting underway this year.
The When in AZ project not only offers musicians the opportunity to pay tribute to their favorite locally-penned songs, but it’s also a way of introducing their sound to new audiences. And, the entire endeavor is a not-for-profit effort that donates proceeds from the project to local children’s charities. So it’s good music and for a good cause. That’s our favorite combo.
And now, it’s time for a disclaimer. We, at YabYum, are part of the organizing effort for When in AZ – the 2017 edition – not for any monetary gain but because we think this project is pretty rad. We covered the first compilation back in ’09 and we watched it live on as a memento of the artists that make the wondrously vivid and diverse music scene of Arizona.
Along with our senior editorial team (me’n Mark), Nick will be joined this time ’round by Sarah Ventre of KJZZ and Girls Rock Phoenix, music writer and cultural phenomena Mitchell Hillman, musician Erick Pineda of Citrus Clouds, and audio-engineer Jalipaz of Audioconfusion, who will be offering a special rate for artists looking to record a single at the studio for the compilation.
Now, you’re hopefully starting to wonder how to get involved with When in AZ, Round Two.
Well, if you live in Arizona, just record a cover of another Arizonan’s song: past or present. Keep in mind, you’ll need to ask that artist for permission. Then send it in (to email@example.com). That’s it. That’s the genius of Kizer’s project. It captures the NOW of Arizona music in a fresh way and without subjecting entries to a “review board” to select the “best” which usually just means a few people picking out their favorites. [ Disclaimer 2: We’re not pointing fingers. We, at YabYum, openly acknowledge picking favorites. It’s called being a critic.]
If your band (or you) record a cover and send it in, we’ll include it. Now, before any troll decides they can exploit that previous statement to an annoying personal end, we reserve the right to not let you muck it up for the rest of us. All joking aside though, When in AZ seeks to encapsulate music in this place, at this time, so we want to hear from all you splendid music-makers that share this desert state.
When in AZ mastermind Nick Kizer took some time to answer a few questions about the project to help give folks a better idea of where it came from and where it’s going.
YabYum: What first inspired you to start When In AZ?
Nick Kizer: In 2009, when I was a younger dude and more active in the music scene with my band, Babaluca, we would often “shoot the shit” with other musicians after gigs. We were always talking about how AZ talent would leave the state for LA or New York once reaching a certain level of popularity. The concept was intended to be a snap shot of the scene at the time, hence the title, “When in AZ”.
Please tell us a little about the first compilation? How many artists appeared on it? When was it released? Did other people help you pull it all together?
The compilation was open to any AZ musician who wanted to cover a song by another AZ musician or band. It was a novel idea and the largest Arizona-based music compilation at the time. There were 50+ artists that recorded songs for When in AZ. The 2009 release was followed up with a multi-venue showcase at local spots such as Trunk Space, Rhythm Room, Modified Arts and Hard Rock Cafe. All proceeds from sales of the compilation and the shows went to music based charities for children’s programs in need of instruments.
I received so much help from other musicians, venue owners, local audio engineers, and media. A big shout out to my friend Laci Lester who helped me put together the first comp.
It’s been seven years since you put out the compilation. What made you decide to take up the project again?
I have had so many friends and musicians ask me about it over the years. It feels like the right time to make it happen again and I think I have a good group of people working on it with me. It’s going to be epic.
Please tell us a little about the review process for submissions (or lack thereof) so artists looking to submit have an idea about what they should expect.
Similar to the first comp, I invite any Arizona-based musician to participate. In the first compilation we received a lot of rock and electronic submission. We are interested in expanding genres for this volume. No one who submitted last time was rejected. I think that made it very special.
So, what are the basic guidelines for artists looking to submit?
The main requirement is that they get permission from the artist they want to cover. That is pretty easy. From there they recorded the cover song by any means they have. We are working with Audioconfusion recording studio to make an affordable/quality option for artists that need help. We will also master the compilation once all the songs are received. The deadline to submit a song is August 1st.
You booked some pretty ambitious shows to celebrate the launch of the first compilation. Do you plan on hosting similar events for the reboot?
The shows are an important part of When in AZ. We will probably do something similar at multiple venues around town or maybe a festival this time around. Details are still being worked out. All I know is it is going to be fun.
Submissions are now open.