MarilynMusic, made of up songwriting duo Casey Conrad and Michael Gaines, currently has numerous wonderful, but unreleased tracks under its belt. With everything from teasing, taunting dance tracks to deeply heartfelt ballads, MarilynMusic's songs come in just about every genre you can think of from pop to reggae, R&B to country, and more. The music certainly has a story to tell, and so do the two men behind it. They each draw inspiration from a lifetime spent in the music and entertainment industry that began in early childhood. Between the two of them, they have worked in every aspect of the entertainment industry including television, film, off Broadway shows, and playing studio sessions. In recent years, however, Conrad and Gaines shifted their focus to composing and producing music, and the results are astounding. In Part I of my article on MarilynMusic, it's my pleasure to introduce you to Michael Gaines.
Michael Gaines' entire family, it seems, is or was involved in the music industry in one way or another. Gaines had two very successful song writing uncles, and a grandfather who owned one of the first recording studios in New York City. His mother was a New York session singer and contractor for over 30 years. She was Burt Bacharach's vocal director for many years, singing on all of his major recordings. Over the course of his life, he has participated in practically every conceivable part of the entertainment industry and he started early. He began studying dance at age five, performed at age seven at the Carnegie Recital Hall, and attended the American School of Ballet, appearing as the prince in the NYC Ballet production of the Nutcracker at twelve. He also performed in numerous television commercials, shows and voiceovers. Gaines' earliest memory of performing in a TV commercial was the first Kit Kat commercial ever aired. He was seven. He also modeled for various magazines including Harper's Bazaar.
"I guess I've been in show business since before I was born," said Gaines. "I literally grew up in the many recording and television studios of New York mostly waiting for my mother or often working myself. My father also had an extensive career as a producer/actor/writer."
Gaines went on to study music through high school, then at North Texas State and later the Manhattan School of Music in 1973 and 1974. After school, he followed his family to LA to try his hand in the film industry. He began as a production assistant at Chartoff / Winkler Films and worked on movies like Raging Bull, Rocky 2 and The Right Stuff. Gaines moved up in the ranks, securing a position as story editor for Koch/Kirkwood Productions working on "The Pope of Greenwich Village" and eventually began writing and selling his own film and TV projects to studios like Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros. Gaines recently co-produced the film "Wednesday Again" and is an Executive Producer of a pilot currently being set up both on the internet, and cable television. He also plans to produce the film "The Auctioneer" soon.
During his career, Gaines has worked with legendary stars like Merv Griffin, Juliet Prowse, George Balanchine, Robert Deniro, Mickey Rourke and many others. But despite his success in film and television, music was always his first calling. He became very close to his stepfather (his mother's second husband) songwriter/producer Bob Wells, who taught him about music publishing. When Wells became ill, he entrusted his extensive, very successful catalog to Gaines and left the catalog to the Gaines family when he passed away in 1999, which allowed him to pursue a career writing music.
Addressing where his inspiration comes from, he says, "I had a teacher who was a great influence on me who said that if you wait for inspiration when writing or creating anything, you might wait a very long time. He said one must sit down and do the work. I heard that Woody Allen starts writing at six o'clock in the morning and sits there until at least ten even if nothing comes out. I'm a musician, I'm not up at six a.m., but I understand the commitment. I feel that talking about the creative process or trying to capture it in words is a waste of time because it's so intangible to begin with. But I will say that New York City is a place that's inspirational to me. There are more interesting things and people on one block in New York City than in a ten mile radius anywhere else."
When asked what the worst advice was he'd ever been given, he responds "All of the advice has been good as long as I was smart enough not to take it all. What I'm focused on now is happiness, health, making more music, doing good deeds and good work in the future."
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