Monday, January 4, 2010

But I Digress

It occurred to me that one usually becomes aware of 'famous' people once they've made it but there's little observation about how the process develops from its early stages, which is why I thought it would be worth documenting even though it has nothing to do with this blog.

I'm not talking about myself here but rather about my son who, last week, was recognized on the street for the first time. Reportedly, he was walking around in San Francisco when someone called out, "Hey!" He turned, and the person asked, "Are you from San Diego?" "Yeah," my son confirmed. "Are you in Witt?" "Yeah." "Are you Jesse Kranzler?" Indeed.

(A few weeks earlier, my husband was on business in Germany and as part of making small talk, a lawyer asked him about his kids. He mentioned that one son is a sports writer (I'll have opportunity to boast about him, too) and the other is a musician. The lawyer probed further. "What type of music?" My husband replied, "I doubt you'd be familiar with it; it's called 'Math Rock.'" "I love math rock. What's the name of the band?" It was highly unlikely that a lawyer in Europe would know about a fledgling San Diego band, but my husband responded, "Witt." "Oh,my god. You're Jesse Kranzler's father?") It turns out that Math Rock is more popular in Europe than in the U.S., and Witt's first CD has sold well there. In fact, they're planning a European tour this summer.

For a number of years I was known around Jesse's Middle School and High School as 'Jesse's Mom,' which was delightful, but I found it interesting that at his high school graduation, parents of fellow students and teachers, alike, wanted to have their pictures taken with him so that they could, some day, say that they knew Jesse 'back when.' All of this embarrassed Jesse, who is by nature shy, to no end but he graciously accommodated these requests and then made a hasty retreat from the scene. While we'd watched (when we permitted to observe) him develop into a musician (the fact that he also composed many of the band, Witt's, music had completely eluded us) and become the band's manager, we hadn't thought about him potentially becoming 'famous.' He was clear in his intention to focus on the music Business, specifically to become the Artistic Director for a band, like a Producer, though he began performing increasingly often, both with Witt and with other bands both in San Diego and New York. He has also recorded with quite a few bands (I have no idea which ones but apparently he's on about 30 different recordings at the moment) and seems to spend almost every night during the school year in a recording studio.

His music has been played on various radio stations, though we'd always learned of this after the fact, but last night he sent a text message, "Turn on 94.9." We rushed out to the car and went to the channel,and while the music sounded familiar, there were lyrics, which isn't consistent with his band's style of play, "Math Rock." (It turned out that the guy who'd recorded it for them applied or superimposed or whatever-the-appropriate-verb-is, some other band's lyrics over a portion of their music, which happened to work.) When the music continued sans lyrics we knew it was definitely Witt's. Jesse was surprised only that the station played the entire 6-minute song.

Between getting radio play; being named one of the top eight math rock bands in Europe; being named in a Wikipedia entry about 'math rock'; beginning to sell out their shows; and being recognized abroad and on the street, he seems to be on his way (albeit reluctantly) to what other people might call 'fame.' My husband and I are grateful that he remains focused on his school work -- he's a freshman in NYU's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music within Tisch School of the Arts (Lady Gaga is a dropout from this program), and is so serious about his music that he's not likely (we pray) to get involved with the stereotypical problems that afflict musician, such as drugs and other reckless behaviors. We think that Jesse has enough sense of himself that he doesn't have a need to 'fit in' by doing something stupid, and so far all of the friends and acquaintances that we've met who are also musicians seem similarly focused.

I guess this is how it all starts.

Thanks for indulging me in bragging about my son. (Go to their website to hear their music and see scheduled shows)

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