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Wednesday, February 28th
The Hot Sweat
Hana Pestle
Hana Pestle
Ernie Halter is one of the brightest in indie music today. Coming off another appearance on The Rock Boat, now having finished its 9th year, Halter is poised for even bigger things in 2009. His album, 'Starting Over' is an 11-track journey into Ernie's musical and personal soul and is one of the best indie albums of 2008. In her Hot Seat debut, Michelle took a few minutes to sit down with the indie singer-songwriter who shares the same space with acts like Sister Hazel and Pat McGee Band.

Michelle - I’m here with Ernie Halter. He’s a singer/songwriter based out of California. Thanks for being with us, Ernie!
Ernie - Thanks for having me!

Michelle - I really want to talk about your newest album, Starting Over, which I got a chance to listen to and I think it’s incredible. It hit stores Aug. 5, 2008. Can you tell us a little bit about this album?
Ernie - Sure, let’s start from the beginning. I had kind of a hard year as far as some emotional roller-coaster type things. I was married and witnessed the “un-marriage,” I guess you would say. It’s an awful thing to go through a separation, and a lot of the record was written during that time. I also have a beautiful son who’s a year old now. There’s always a give and take in life, as usual. I wrote the record during this year and it was really hard for me. However, I felt like as a writer, I’ve become as honest as I’ve ever been. I feel like it was more of a personal record for me than any other I’ve previously worked on. Hence the title, Starting Over. Though not every song is literally about my separation or my son, it was written during that time and is a piece of who I was at that moment.

Michelle - Well it’s an optimistic title, I think.
Ernie - It is optimistic. It’s not so much about the negatives that I went through as it is an optimistic outlook.

Michelle Fantus- You said this was your most personal record yet. I read that you had a very personal, creative way of connecting with your fans through the recording process. Can you explain how you did that?
Ernie Halter – Yeah! One thing I do that I don’t see a lot of other artists doing is a lot of live streaming on the web through my Myspace and Facebook. I’ve streamed live shows but never streamed the recording process and to my knowledge, no one else has ever. So we brought a laptop into the studio and had a live stream going continually while we were making the record, so that fans who wanted to see how it was being made could see what we were doing (or not doing). And the reason I decided to do this is because as a musician, I’m more of a live player than anything else. I feel way more at home on a stage than at the studio. So, me bringing the fans into the studio was a way to make it feel more live to me and also a way to thank them. I also got to see the record being made through their eyes.

Michelle - Well that’s definitely an innovative way to record and I haven’t heard of anyone else doing that before. Speaking of streaming, I’ve seen your fun cover videos on your YouTube site (Check them out! http://www.youtube.com/user/ernell42). Is this another way you connect with your fans?
Ernie - It’s half gimmicky, in the sense that it gets fans I wouldn’t have had. People may not know who I am and may stumble across my page after searching for someone else and then they’ll find my music. And it’s worked! But I think it’s really fun. I pick songs that are just different. They’re not going to be copies of songs, they’re going to be arrangements of songs in ways you may not usually hear and I feel that that’s where the artistry and the creativity come. It’s fun to take a song like Miley Cyrus and play around with it.

Michelle - I love watching them! Well more importantly are your original songs that are recorded on your albums, which fans get to hear during your live shows. I know you’re your around a lot -- what is your favorite city to perform in?
Ernie - Well, some cities I like to perform in just because I do well there. I like New York a lot. You’re from New York aren’t you?

Michelle - I am!
Ernie - I really like it. It’s always a fun crowd. Next to LA it’s one of my better cities, plus it’s really fun and I always assume I’m going to see the sunrise when I play in NY. I have a lot of friends there and really love it. I also really like the south; I have a passion for fried food, cheap beer, country music. I can’t get enough of Nashville because I have a lot of really good friends there. Atlanta and Lafayette, Louisiana are always fun… too much fun. I just love it all. I have good friends pretty much wherever I am and I love making music. There are so many great places I’ve been and so many great people I’ve met. That’s just life being on the road and I can’t wait to get back out and see people I haven’t seen in a while.

Michelle - Well since you play all over the place, hopefully some of our readers will come on out to a show! Is there anything else you’d like to tell our Musiqtone readers?
Ernie - I’m just really proud of the fact that the record went well for being an artist that’s not signed to a major label. I have a great label I’m signed to out of NY called Rock Ridge, and it’s a tight organization, a tight team with them, us, the fans, and the record (which peaked to #98 on the overall Itunes chart and #22 on rock album chart when it was released). It’s a statement for fans to be able to make something like that happen to artist they like. I really appreciate it and I just want to say ‘thank you.’

Michelle - Well thank you so much for your time, Ernie. We really appreciate it and good luck on your future tours!
Ernie - Thank you! I hope to see you in NY!

Michelle - Definitely.

Rachel DodsonMichelle Fantus is a staff writer in the East Coast region at Musiqtone. You can reach her at michellefantus@musiqtone.com.

(C) 2009 Musiqtone. All Rights Reserved. Any part of this interview cannot be used without written express consent from both the representatives of Ernie Halter and Musiqtone.
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