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Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

Jayme Dawicki’s Polished Piano-Pop

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The irony of MTV's ongoing music-video purge is that it may have actually created more opportunities for independent musicians than a decade of "TRL" ever did. With so many hours of reality programming to soundtrack, MTV has turned toward small and emerging artists for songs.

No Milwaukee-area singer/songwriter has benefited more from MTV's aggressive song licensing than Jayme Dawicki, who in the past eight months has lent five songs-one half of her 2008 album Shatter Queen-to different incarnations of "The Real World." Most recently her song "Here I Go" appeared in the January season premiere of "The Real World: Brooklyn."

"It's been so awesome," Dawicki says of the song placements. "When MTV features your song on a program, the screen shows your name and everything, and if you go to MTV's Web site, it gives you more information about the artist. It's just so incredible to be watching something on TV and see your name come up and wonder how many people must be seeing that."

The TV exposure gave Dawicki's career a quick boost.

"I've seen a lot more people requesting me as their MySpace friend and buying my album and my songs online," she says. "It's definitely helped build up my career outside the Milwaukee area. I have fans around the country now."
A longtime member and proponent of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry, which opened local doors for her when she won the organization's 2006 award for top female vocalist, Dawicki points to an impulsive 2007 trip to Austin's South by Southwest music conference as the turning point in her career.

"What I learned was, if I was serious about doing this, that I had to take both my music and my business to the next level," Dawicki explains. "At that point I had a CD, but it was just something I put together with a friend without any real production. It was just me singing and playing acoustic. It was what I could do and afford at the time, but I knew that to go anywhere I needed to spend the money on a producer and a full-production CD."

And so for Shatter Queen, Dawicki went to Seattle's Imperative Studios with producer Daniel Mendez, who had recorded with acts like Dashboard Confessional and Duran Duran. At Dawicki's request, Mendez pushed the songstress hard, forcing her to tear apart songs she'd been performing for years in order to reconstruct them with fuller, more pointed arrangements. The resulting record has less in common with the coffeehouse confessionals of Dawicki's debut than the bright, lavish piano-pop of Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson-it's easy to see why MTV has taken to it.

The record's exposure has pushed Dawicki closer to her ultimate goal of being able to perform and tour full-time. "That's what I'm working toward," she says, "and I'm getting there, slowly but surely."

Dawicki plans on touring her way back down to South by Southwest this March, but not before a pair of Milwaukee shows. She plays as part of an 8 p.m. bill at Shank Hall on Saturday, Feb. 7, with Chapman Party of Five, and then at Caroline's on Feb. 24 at one of her regular Chick Singer Night appearances.

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