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Monday, January 29, 2024

Record Shopping

Hoyt Emerick Boy George High Hat
Hoyt Emerick (Age 18) Holding a Boy George CD 

Here's a young 18-year-old Hoyt holding his record store find of the day. It's Boy George's album Tense Nervous Headache. Here in the United States, it's more commonly known as High Hat with some track listing variations. We've adored this album since it came out so finding an alternative import version on CD was a special treat. The disc is loaded with some beautiful tracks. To this day, it still surprises me that Don't Cry wasn't a top-10 hit for the Boy. Fortunately, Don't Take My Mind on a Trip was a minor hit for him on the US R&B Billboard Charts. 

Record shopping was a huge part of our lives back in the 1980s, 1990s, and even 2000s. Shopping for rare imports and missing pieces in our already huge record collection was an exciting experience for us. It was better than hunting for Easter Eggs. It's hard to describe the feeling that we would get when finding a rare piece that we didn't even know existed. Those of you who know, know. It was a thrilling time in music. We'd hunt for rare B-sides, 12" mixes, promotional items, and even alternative cover art sleeves from some of our favorite artists. We sought after artists like Culture Club, The Thompson Twins, Dead or Alive, Duran Duran, Bananarama, SAW, Pet Shop Boys, Sam Fox, Stevie Nicks, Crystal Gayle, Kim Wilde, and Sylvia just to name a few. 

It's sometimes strange for me to think of how much time and money we spent doing this activity. We'd even drive to far-away towns, go to record conventions, and use mail-order catalogs to acquire these rare items. In a time before the internet, if you wanted to hear music that wasn't on the radio you had to buy it. Receiving a mix tape from a friend was the best. You got to discover new music that they hand-selected just for you.

The state of the music industry and record business today admittedly puzzles me. Sure, it's amazing to be able to listen to absolutely anything that your heart desires at any given time. You have the world's complete music catalog at your fingertips. Future generations aren't going to believe that we collected music by pressing it to a physical format. Streaming is here to give us the instant gratification that we all crave. 

Big love, Carly xoxo 🍬🍎🟦

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Picture it. New York City, 1997. (Midnight In Chelsea)

Carly Emerick Cranberrys or SixPence None The Richer (1996)
Carly Emerick Living in Manhattan's Chelsea Region (1997)

Picture it. New York City, 1997. 

Here I am all doe-eyed but street smart trying to make my songwriting dreams a reality. I was 24 years old and living in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. I lived directly across from the notorious Hotel Chelsea. (Remember Sid and Nancy?) I was lucky enough to have a friend who was able to get me into this very small but quaint penthouse studio apartment. I was struggling just to pay the rent so I had no money to furnish it. I slept on the floor in a blue sleeping bag. However, I did have my music-making equipment set up and that was all that I needed. 

Behind me is my trusted CrossWave synthesizer the Ensoniq SQ-80. It's been my main go-to bread-and-butter synth ever since I purchased it. With its easy-to-understand built-in midi sequencer, I still find myself today composing on it. I have to admit, however, that I spend more time these days composing in Pro Tools.  

My look here is influenced by rock bands like The Cranberries and Sixpence None the Richer. Pamela Anderson was big on Baywatch and having tiny eyebrows was the trend. Around my neck is a Swatch watch. I wore it so much that the wristband broke. However, even then that didn't stop me from wearing it. I found a string that fit through the screw holes and wore it like a useful fashion accessory. My watch became my necklace. It was just another testament to how broke I was. 

One night, after fumbling over a few piano chords, I found myself having writer's block. So I decided to go out and grab a bite. I needed to get some fresh air. When I got back in, the doorman at the front desk was all a buzz about Jon Bon Jovi filming right across the street from us. I excitedly got into the elevator with my sandwich in hand and pressed the top floor. I knew that I had the perfect view of the street and the hotel from my window. From there, I could easily see Jon. The film crew had him lit up and bathed in light. He was at the window just strumming away on his guitar. Behind him was the brightly lit Hotel Chelsea neon sign. It reminded me of how close and yet how far away I was from success. The irony wasn't lost on me.

There I was looking out my window at one of the biggest rockstars on the planet. He was making a tremendous living making music yet here I was barely able to make ends meet. Not only were we on opposite sides of the street, we were on opposite sides of success. I sat there watching him play feeling sorry for myself. 

A few months later, while browsing titles at a record store, Jon's new CD single "Midnight At Chelsea" caught my eye. I walked over to the import section and picked it up. I immediately thought, oh so this must be the song for the music video that he was filming that night. I stared at the black and white stark cover art. I couldn't help but notice that Jon looked unhappy. Then I took note that the jacket that he was wearing on the cover was very similar to the one that I wore. I sighed and thought to myself maybe we're not as worlds apart as I initially thought. I turned the CD over to see the track listing and read that it was from his new album called Destination Anywhere. If Jon Bon Jovi seemed as lost as I was then maybe there was still hope for me yet.

Big love, Carly xoxo 🍬🍎🟦

Midnight In Chelsea Jon Bon Jovi CD Single
For reference, here's a picture of that
Jon Bon Jovi CD that I mentioned in this post.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Candy Apple Blue Is Celebrating an Anniversary With Nick Bramlett

Candy Apple Blue with Nick Bramlett pop rock vocalist
Candy Apple Blue With Pop-Rock Vocalist Nick Bramlett

This year marks our 10th anniversary of working with pop-rock vocalist Nick Bramlett.

To say that we enjoy working with Nick would be an understatement. Nick is uniquely gifted and a real powerhouse of a singer. He brings our compositions to life by pouring his heart and soul into his vocal performances. 

We first recorded with Nick back in 2014. After hearing that we were looking for a guest vocalist to sing on Detonator, a mutual friend introduced us. The first time I heard Nick doing his warm-ups, I knew he had a special talent. 

I often tell Nick that his singing voice reminds me of the male version of Christina Aguilera. It could be because they are both from Pittsburgh, PA and have similar intonations. Nick's vocal runs are out of this world! His vibrato is beautiful and he really sinks his teeth into the material we give him. Nick is a passionate singer and a passionate person. His vocal performance on our forthcoming record I Wanna Party, for example, encompasses everything that I've mentioned here! 🎉

Happy 10th-anniversary, Nick! Candy Apple Blue loves YOU!

Sincerely, Carly 🍬🍎🟦

Friday, January 26, 2024

We Used a Vocoder on I Wanna Party

Vocoder Effect Plug-In Vocodex Image-Line
Image-Line's Vocoder Effect Plug-In Vocodex

We used a vocoder on our 2022 song Graphic Equalizer. It was the first time we used this effect in our music. Hoyt and I loved the way it sounded so we decided to use it again on our forthcoming single I Wanna Party. 

The use of vocoders in electronic music is nothing new but for us it is. Vocoders were used a lot in early 1980s dance music. Many of you might remember it was used in the unforgettable hook of Michael Jackson's P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing). Stevie Wonder also used it in his sentimental ballad I Just Called To Say I Love You. And surely anyone enthusiastic about pop music remembers Daft Punk used it on their international big hit Get Lucky.

Pictured here is an early 1970s vocoder that was custom-built for the electronic music band Kraftwerk. Fortunately, these days many great VST options exist in the digital domain. I used a great plug-in by Image-Line called Vocodex to achieve the sound I was looking for.

It only took me a few hours to learn how to use this effect in our own music. I ran Nick's voice through it using a carrier synth and the end result sounds just fantastic. There's something futuristic yet deliciously retro about it. Our producer Matt Pop loved it so much that he decided to open the song with this fun element. 

Big love, Carly xoxo 🍬🍎🟦

Thursday, January 25, 2024

We Sing the Praises of Matt Pop

Matt Pop Record Producer Remix Matt Pop Mix
Matt Pop Record Producer / Remixer (2018)

We often sing the praises of a record producer that we feel very privileged to work with. His name is Matt Pop. The highs that this man is musically able to reach absolutely astound me. It would normally take a team of ten people to achieve the sound that he's able to accomplish on his own. 

Matt is remarkably gifted and detail-oriented. He dissects melody, harmony, and chord structure then puts it all back together again. The sonic choices that he makes with his reverb, delay, and use of compression are always the right ones. His synthesizer programming is just out of this world! His rhythmic tracks are always danceable and delightful. 

Getting the various elements of a song to play nicely together can be very tricky. Every decision he makes is a thoughtful one based on how well the audio relates to each other in the mix. Matt makes it all sound like a breeze. He's got an excellent ear for what makes pop music work. He's both an outstanding mixing and mastering engineer. This is a rare feat in its own right. Mastering music can be difficult. It's a delicate and artful science.

Like all great record producers that came before him, Matt Pop has a signature sound. He leaves his fingerprints on everything that he touches and everything that he touches turns to gold. His mixes are a musical feast for the ears. They are always artistic, unique, and fresh. 

Matt doesn't always agree to take on and produce every song that we send his way. Not only is he very much in demand but his standards are also very high. When he says yes to producing one of our songs, I know we've written a great composition and have recorded a great vocal. 

I wanted to take this moment to proudly announce to you that Matt Pop has once again delivered to us another winner! 🏆 He's produced our forthcoming single I Wanna Party and it's an absolute banger!

If you like radio-friendly sing-along pop music then you're in for a real treat! This latest offering is an excellent example of all the things that I've mentioned here. 

We've got the right song, the right vocalist, and the right producer. I Wanna Party is a winner baby! 🎉

The release date and track listing will be announced soon.

Big love, 💞 Carly 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Well, Color Me Hoyt!

Hoyt Emerick (1991)
Hoyt Emerick (1991)

Well, Color Me Hoyt! The year was 1991 and Hoyt was just 17 years old in this picture. Color Me Badd was in the top ten with their big hit, All For Love. Hoyt's metropolitan look was totally in vogue. His pants are mauve colored. Mauve was really big in early 1990s & 1980s fashion. Oversized colorful clothing was the trend. Hoyt is certainly looking stylish here and serving us some GQ magazine realness! Go, Hoyt!

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Wait A Minute Baby

Carly Emerick Candy Apple Blue (1992)
Carly Emerick (1992) in Shadyside, Pittsburgh PA

Here's a shot of me taken back in 1992. I was living in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood at the time. It was exciting living and working in the city. I worked at a grocery store called The Food Gallery as a cashier. It was just right down the street from where I lived so I could walk to work. 

The guy who bagged the groceries for me was a huge Fleetwood Mac fan and so was I. We'd often have philosophical debates over who was a better songwriter Stevie Nicks or Lindsey Buckingham. I always championed for Stevie Nicks. "Wait a minute baby. Stay with me a while. Said you'd give me light but you never told me about the fire."

Big love, Carly xoxo 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Hoyt Emerick Serving 1990s Selfie Realness

Hoyt Emerick of Candy Apple Blue Serving 1990s Selfie Realness
Hoyt Emerick Serving 1990s Selfie Realness

Here's a young Hoyt serving 1990s selfie realness. All you needed was a bathroom mirror and a 35mm camera. Oh yeah, you also needed a whole lot of patience as it would take weeks to get your film developed and sent back to you by snail mail. Oh yeah, you also had to remember to check (✔) the box if you wanted doubles. Lastly, did you want a glossy or a matte finish? Oh, the trials and tribulations of it all. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

A Touch Too Much (Piano & Vocal Mix)

I always know when Hoyt and I compose a good song. If a melody works with just a simple piano and vocal then I know it's going to be a winner all dressed up in a full-blown music production. Such was the case when we composed A Touch Too Much last year. 

Once we had the essential bare bones of the composition worked out we then had to address how it should be produced. If you listen to this simple piano and vocal mix of A Touch Too Much you can easily hear how it could have gone in the direction of a ballad instead of the dance track that it became. 

There's magic in the air when the right song, the right vocalist, and the right music production all come together! Nick Bramlett sang this song with so much heart and conviction. He aced this vocal performance. We were smart to call on our Matt Pop for this one. His music production skills lifted this song into the stratosphere.  

We couldn't be more proud of A Touch Too Much. 

Big love, Carly xoxo

Flashback Photo: Us in Pittsburgh's South Side Neighborhood

Candy Apple Blue with Shauna (1992)
Candy Apple Blue with Shauna (1992)

Here we are back in 1992 with the legendary, talented, warm-hearted, and gorgeous Shawna (aka Katt) in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood. We had just strolled out of the Beehive Coffeehouse after a nice chat. We took this photo right before we jumped into our cars and said goodbye.

I have so many great memories from this time. I was 20 years old. We were all so young and we had so much ambition. To be LGBT in the early 1990's was no joke. The world and Pittsburgh was a very different place. We battled our way through it by looking stunning and keeping our chin up! 

Big love, Carly xoxo

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

More About "I Won't Say Adieu"

Synth-pop band The Inertia Case (1997) Elton Lin Hoyt Emerick Carly Emerick
The Inertia Case (1997) Elton Lin, Hoyt Emerick, and Carly Emerick

Just yesterday, a friend reminded me of a song from our back catalog that Hoyt and I composed called I Won't Say Adieu. This Inertia Case song got a second life because it was covered and used in an indie film directed by Casper Andreas. We would often close our live sets with this song and it was always so well received. 

Back when we wrote I Won't Say Adieu in the late 1990s, Hoyt had just gotten back from a trip to France. For those of you who don't know, Adieu is a French word meaning "goodbye". I remember being excited about the title that we came up with. We already had a song called Between Love and Goodbye, so I thought that was a clever way to use the word again without sounding too redundant. 

I remember writing the bass line for this song and thinking; "oh, this is good". We worked tirelessly and passionately on the lyrics. The song had a universal larger-than-life feeling to it. There was something almost magical about the way the key signature, chords, bass line, lyrics, and tempo all came together. It was almost like the sky had opened up and a thunderbolt came down to light our path. This song felt important. It quickly became a fan favorite in our inner circle. 

We were getting ready to shop ourselves to the major labels by putting together a demo tape of our best 4 tracks. We all believed in I Won't Say Adieu. So for the first time in The Inertia Case history, we paid an outside audio engineer to help us achieve a more professional sound. Before this time, we had always demoed our songs by ourselves using a portable Tascam 4-Track tape machine.  

I will always remember Hoyt, Elton, and I dishing out almost $1,000 to try to properly record that song. In 1997, a thousand dollars might as well have been $10,000 to us. It was a mountain of money, but we were willing and ready to invest in our musical future. Sadly, this endeavor proved to be fruitless. The slow-moving recording process left us all feeling tired and artistically drained. This "professional" demo didn't capture the real spirit of the song and we ultimately disliked the results of this recording. So we never used it. 

Lately, I've been thinking a brand new Candy Apple Blue version of I Won't Say Adieu could be in the cards. I know, after all of these years of experience, that Hoyt and I could give our old song a new life. 

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me. I have many more stories to share. 

Big love, Carly xoxo

Monday, January 15, 2024

The Inertia Case (1997) Promotional Band Pic

The Inertia Case 1997 Band Promotional Pic
The Inertia Case (1997) Band Promotional Pic

We started getting serious about music-making while living in New York City. After all, we moved to NYC to pursue our dreams. So back in 1997, we formed our first band The Inertia Case. 

Hoyt and I both knew that singing wasn't really in the cards for us. We were strong enough to recognize our own weakness. We were passionate about songwriting but lousy singers. So, we knew that we had to find a qualified lead singer.

We placed an ad in The Village Voice looking for one. After countless unfruitful auditions, we finally found a musical kinship with vocalist, Elton Lin (currently of the band Notorious MSG). 

Elton's voice is so magical and angelic. He has a remarkable gift. He's also a wonderful human being. We became fast friends and developed a great working relationship. Together, the three of us worked hard on our craft. During this time we wrote our signature song, Between Love and Goodbye. That song always got the greatest response from the crowd, when we would play it live. 

Drawing inspiration from our personal musical favorites at the time (e.g. Erasure, ABBA, Stevie Nicks, Depeche Mode & Yazoo) we managed to produce and record a whole album's worth of material. We eventually released a self-produced best-of EP that is on all the streaming platforms if you're curious to hear it.

I look back on these days with so much fondness. If only we had the deep pockets of a major record label behind us. I feel confident that we could have made it big time. 

Big love, Carly xoxo 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

A Young Hoyt Sporting White Blonde Hair

Hoyt Emerick Candy Apple Blue White Blonde Hair
A young Hoyt Emerick sporting a black leather jacket and white blonde hair. 

Back in our late teens and early 20s, Hoyt and I would often get into competitions over who could achieve the blondest hair color. I have great memories of us sitting in the sun with our bleach caps on. We used the sun's heat to help speed along the bleaching process.

This time around Hoyt won! His hair came out the palest shade of blonde. Expressing ourselves with hair and make-up was an important part of our aesthetic. As you can see here, Hoyt would sometimes draw his goatee on with an eyeliner. It was very cool.

I remember taking this photo and thinking that this one's gonna come out great. We were very much into photography when we were younger. I'm surprised that neither of us made it into a profession. 

Big love, Carly xoxo

Friday, January 12, 2024

Carly Emerick of Candy Apple Blue Age 21 (1993)

Carly Emerick of Candy Apple Blue Age 21 (1993)
Carly Emerick of Candy Apple Blue Age 21 (1993)

Here I am at the tender young age of 21. The year was 1993. When I was younger, I always loved playing around with my hair color. I can truly confess that I was a hair color addict. I even went to cosmetology school to learn more about it. 

I always enjoyed changing up my look and hair color played a big part in my metamorphosis. I would go from blonde to black and then to red sometimes all within the same year. I remember watching Molly Ringwald's Fresh Horses and thinking I wanted to try to achieve the same red color that she had in that movie. I think I aced it.

Red can be a tricky hair color because of the laws of science. The small molecules found in this artificial pigment easily rinse out after only a few shampoos. It wasn't long before this hair color faded and I was golden blonde again.  

Big love, Carly xoxo

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Candy Apple Blue in Astoria, NY (1994)

Intergalactic Candy Apple Blue Astoria NY 1994
Candy Apple Blue in Astoria, NY (1994)

 Here we are back in 1994! We had just moved to New York and our lives were about to change forever! Hoyt was 20 years old and I was 22. We had always dreamed of moving to NYC and starting a band. This intergalactic version of Candy Apple Blue was us breaking out of our small town and expressing our creative souls. It was us against the world!

As young adults, we barely had any money. Instead of catching a private taxi, we would have to catch the N train subway to get into the city. On this night we were headed to town when some blue-collared idiot screamed out of his car window at us; "Hey, you freaks, go back to Manhattan where you belong!". I remember this moment clearly as a bell. It's like the universe was finally saying to us; "You're home. You finally have a place where you belong." When we would dress like this in Pittsburgh, we often heard much worse derogatory comments screamed out at us. They were much too graphic and much too hurtful to be repeated here.

In NYC, we were celebrated club kids. We NEVER had to wait in line to get into the clubs. We'd be pulled from the line and guided in if we tried to get in line. The red carpet was rolled out right in front of us. It felt great! We felt like we finally arrived. 

Being on a tight budget meant we'd have to hit the thrift stores hard to create new outfits to wear. I believe Hoyt's wrist cuffs are actual welding gear. You know the kind used when blowtorching to prevent sparks from backsplashing and burning you. I didn't have a chocker chain then but I did have a very long necklace that I wrapped around my neck to give the same look. Our outrageous makeup application was far from par for the course. 

I look back on these days with so much fondness. We were young, wild, and free. Our songwriting was improving and we felt like anything was possible.

Big love, Carly xoxo

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

I've Always Loved Bridges

Hoyt Emerick Pittsburgh Bridge
Hoyt Emerick Pittsburgh Bridge (Early 1990s)

 I've always loved old bridges and Pittsburgh certainly has some beautiful ones! The ironwork on this old crumbling bridge is just gorgeous. This pic was taken back in the early 1990's. A time before smartphones. - Hoyt

Monday, January 8, 2024

Hoyt with Aimee Mann (1993)

Aimee Mann of 'Til Tuesday Hoyt Emerick of Candy Apple Blue (1993)
Aimee Mann of 'Til Tuesday with Hoyt Emerick of Candy Apple Blue (1993)

Aimee Mann of 'Til Tuesday fame has always been one of my favorite singer-songwriters. Her music has always deeply touched my creative soul. She composes with brutal honesty. Songs like I've Had It, Calling It Quits, J For Jules, 4th Of July, Save Me, Why Must I, You Could Make A Killing, and Coming Up Close have always pulled on my teenage angst heartstrings. 

This photo of us together was taken back in 1993 in Pittsburgh, PA, when she was touring for her debut solo album Whatever. I was lucky enough to meet her and be graced by her kindness. She was a very warm and wonderful person. I distinctly remember us talking about our similar haircuts and ultra-bleached blonde hair colors. We look like we can be brother and sister in this picture.

I'll be seeing her again at the end of February. She's back on tour and I'm excited about it. It's hard to believe that this photo was taken over 30 years ago. In many ways, it feels just like yesterday, and in some other ways, it feels like a lifetime ago. - Hoyt

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Candy Apple Blue Behind the Old High School (1993)


Candy Apple Blue behind the old high school. 1993
Candy Apple Blue Behind the Old High School (1993)

Here we are back in 1993 behind our old high school. We were modeling like our lives depended on it! 

We often heard from people back then... "You should be a model!" Although we were never professional models, we do have the photographic evidence to prove that we aspired for greatness.

Thank you for walking down memory lane with us! ~ Carly xoxo

#candyappleblue #highschool

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Hoyt in Drag (1993)


Hoyt Drag 1993 Chanel Lipstick Givenchy Earrings LGBT
Hoyt in Drag (1993)

Here's Hoyt in drag from back in 1993! He was getting ready to go to a drag show at the Pegasus in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Before he left, I managed to snag a few photographs of him getting ready.

I was excited about it because I just bought a brand new role of Kodak black and white 35 mm film for my Nikon camera. Back in 1993, Anna Nicole Smith was huge with her Guess ad campaigns. Herb Ritz was the most popular photographer in the world. So, this photograph is highly influenced by that period. 

I think Hoyt looks absolutely stunning in drag! He's giving me strong Marilyn Monroe vibes. Maybe he's even serving a little Linda Evangelista!? Was Hoyt a label queen back in the day? You tell me. He's wearing a stunning shade of Chanel lipstick and sporting a pair of bold over-the-top Givenchy earrings. The crushed black velvet dress and dinner evening gloves were extravagant in every way. Hoyt was one classy bitch!

I say it's tens across the board! Then again, I might be a little biased because I was the photographer and my brother was the model. 📷 - Carly

#photography #blackandwhite #givenchy #chanel #drag #dragqueen #lgbt #herstory #candyappleblue #hoyt