John & Brittany: Crowd funding done right

Hello everybody!

 The beginning of this entry will be somewhat nostalgic. You know, we have been thinking. When the internet became available for masses in the early 90’s, we have been the first ones in our high schools to realize that a new era has begun. Nobody else but us (and that included our IT teachers!) paid attention to the first appearing forums, fans gatherings, web rings and early fan made HTML websites that would make your hair stand on their ends if you have seen them today. There was no Youtube, no Facebook, no Google and Twitter has not yet been invented. Mind you! Yahoo was just starting up and Altavista was the place to go. To listen to the new music, we had to stay up till 4 am and listen to Atlantic 252 (in Poland!) or Z-rock top 40 to record the songs from the radio while covering the speakers with our pillows and trying not to wake up our parents and neighbours. The bands we loved were as distant as the galaxy far, far away. We gathered and treasured every piece of information, a press article and interview we laid our hands on. If somebody would have told me back then that soon we would be able to know what the artists had for lunch or what they wore on their way to the dentist, I would have laughed. Celebrity gossips do not make us laugh at all but I hope you get the point. 15 years ago music industry was a magical thing. It was a different realm, million miles from you, ruled by the CD, record companies and The Billboard. Fans were important of course, after all they were the source of income for the industry, but they had little to say. As you know, things have changed. A lot.

John & Brittany ‘s Poster for the Kickstarter campaign. Used with permission

Some would say they have changed for the worse, some would say they’ve changed for the better. After several years of running e-commerce and social media campaigns for various artists and video games industry, we stand in the middle. We have seen the good, the bad and the (really) ugly side of this business. Since opening of the blog in 2009, we have been asked many times why do we keep on going. If you want to know, it’s because we love what we do. Maybe it’s because the good surpasses the bad. Or maybe because the fans are finally in control. And how much power they have!

John and Brittany, picture used with permission.
Please visit their website at:

Fan campaigns, pledge campaigns, Internet collective funding, fundraisers, crowd funding or whatever you want to call those projects, are on the raise. It’s not our intention to explain how the social funding works; you all know it by now. However, an effective campaign must be run properly to succeed. It must be well prepared, thought out and promoted. Without it, your campaign will fail and you will find yourself in a situation where you won’t be able to deliver what you promised. Believe us – broken trust has been the death sentence to many brilliant projects. What can you do? Learn from the best. Ladies and gentlemen – please take a look at the stellar example of a campaign that has been prepared right – and it pays off (literally!). Let us introduce you to John Faye and Brittany Rotondo – of Philadelphia duo John & Brittany.


Don’t be angry, we are not stating the obvious. Before you even start thinking about gathering funds for your project, you will need a website. Forget about WordPress blog or Facebook page – they won’t do. Build a proper website with several sections, pictures, drawings, links and everything else that will help you explain who you are and why you need the support. Being lazy will turn away the prospective funders.  A single logo with the link to your Myspace/Youtube page is a suicide move. If you are in a band and the management is running your website, make sure they listen to you, otherwise fire them. Myspace is not popular anymore, anyway. You don’t want to hang out with the old news, do you? 😀

John & Brittany’s website. Screenshot by Rita Dabrowicz

John and Brittany know how to attract the attention. Their website has all the right buttons and all the hot stuff. The information about their campaign is also displayed in the centre – all eyes on it! You can pay them a visit and see for yourself:

2. Social media

Facebook: God may have given us rock and roll, but Mark Zuckenberg gave us Facebook. It’s free so use it. You have several options here: you can create groups, community pages, or a profile. If you have a personal wall, make sure your friends and visitors know about it. Don’t be afraid to advertise yourself – the more people know about you, the better (but forget about spamming). Also give credits to photographers and fans. Talk to them, exchange opinions, post videos and snapshots. Have fun, but stay in control. Only you know how the campaign should look like and stick to your plan. A sense of humour is a great marketing tool as well. Did you know that John and Brittany write songs about robbing banks? Now you do!

J & B’s official Facebook page. Screenshot by Rita Dabrowicz

John and Brittany profile:
John’s profile:
Brittany’s profile

Events: The great thing about Facebook is that it allows you to create a multiple events and link them to your profile or community page. They are super easy to manage: you can activate and close them as you please, add and remove applications and you even see how many people you invited and how many have replied. Once you have several events, they make a nice little timeline too. Oh, and you won’t forget the dates either, Facebook will remind you that your event is getting closer.

Facebook’s event page for the Kickstarter campaign. Screenshot by Rita Dabrowicz

You can join John and Brittan’s Kickstarter fundraiser effort here:!/events/390393977672789/

Youtube: Youtube channel for a music projects is a must have. Make it look professional and clean. Again, something that should be obvious for all but it’s not always the case. Do not use band pictures/album covers as backgrounds here, it makes your channel look terrible and it’s hard to read anything. If you must, use graphic program and make them semi transparent or darker. On their channel, John and Brittany post special videos made especially for the Kickstarter event and acoustic covers – a perfect treat for their fans, as you will not find them anywhere else.  Updates are being posted every week- they build the interest in the band and make the people come back for more. This is how you do it!

John and Brittany’s channel on Youtube. Screenshot by Rita Dabrowicz

Official channel for John and Britany:

Please take a closer look at the official trailer for the Kickstarter campaign prepared by the incredible duo. It can be viewed here:

Twitter: Twitter took the world by storm by offering short message service that can be sent and exchanged with others. You can post everything you wish: from simple hellos to announcements and business statements. Twitter golden rule is: be quick, straightforward and to the point, as you have limited amount of characters you can use. The life span of Twitter message is 20 minutes. It doesn’t disappear and will be visible on your own “wall” but this is how long it takes for a message to go out of the main page. When campaigning, you may want to post messages every few hours, especially in the last days of your fundraiser, just to remind people and build up the tension. You can also follow all your fav artists, newspaper, music magazines, industry people as well and even re-tweet their messages to your profile. Twitter is a great tool but must be used systematically. Posting once every few months will make you look bad. Really bad.

John Faye’s personal Twitter account used to promote the campaign. Screenshot by Rita Dabrowicz

There is also another good thing about Twitter. It works like good old IRC channel (remember that medium anybody?) It incorporates topics into “channels” that can be easily accessed with a hash-tag (#). Millions of channels exist inside the Twitterverse, some are popular, some are hardly used. It is good to know which ones to use to reach your audience. In our endeavours, we tend to use several groups:

–     General:  #Music #RockMusic #Alternative #Rock #Indie #KickStarter
–     Emotive: #RockOn #MusicthatIlove #KickAss  #HornsUp
–      Activity-based: #NowListening #NowPlaying #MusicIListenTo

Once you are set up on Twitter, you will be able to come up with your own tags or will discover new ones, but if you don’t know where to start, you are welcomed to use ours. Don’t forget to shorten links to save space in your messages. For that you can use

John’s ever bust Twitter page:!/johnkfaye

Reverbnation – Reverbnation is a social network for music industry professionals. If you are promoting your band, setting a profile here can be very useful. It not only links you to two million other users, but also helps you to gather all useful information in one single place: Youtube subscribers, Facebook fans and likes, song & video plays and many others. Reverbnation allows you to contact prospective venues and clubs managers as well to book a gig. If you are successful, a map will be added to your profile showing your fans the quickest way to your concert.   Special button called “book the band” makes it easier for others to approach you too – the communication works in both ways! Another great bonus is the press section – you can post quotes from interviews or newspaper reviews to show where your name appeared in print. John and Brittany’s page on Reverbnation has been called one of the best among new coming bands.

Revebnation’s profile for John and Brittany. Screenshot by Rita Dabrowicz

Please take a closer look how the proper profile should look like:

3. The Campaign

All right, let’s say you have website and several social profiles ready. Now it’s time to present your idea to the world. The first rule is to choose a reliable website that won’t make people think that you are a scam artist. You have several options here like: PledgeMusic (, Kickstarter (, Sellaband ( or Artistshare ( to name a few.

John and Brittany decided on Kickstarter as it fitted them perfectly. Browse the Internet and look for reviews from other artists. Do not decide on a website just because a friend of yours recommended it. Be certain that this is what you want – we have seen a great campaign going down the drain just because the manager thought it will be a splendid idea. It wasn’t and it returned to bite the poor fellows in the rear.

Screens from the Kickstarter fundraiser trailer taken by Rita Dabrowicz

If you can finance the project yourself – do it! There is no need to collect the money from others when you have the funds. It will be quicker and will save you a lot of grief. The same goes if you have already acquired sponsors earlier. When people find out you had the money to pay for the project in the first place, the whole idea of community support falls through. In short – do it only if you really miss the vital funds. Take note that most campaigns work on the all – or – nothing basis. You either raise 100% and you receive the funds, or you wont receive them at all (if your targets are not met) hence it is important to really promote it. Sitting around and waiting for a miracle won’t do. It will only turn those who involved themselves into the campaign sour, your fan base will be divided or feel betrayed and in the end whatever was built, will crumble like a house of cards.

Main page of John and Brittany Kickstarter campaign. Screenshot by Rita Dabrowicz

John and Brittany know exactly what they want and they went for it. The results? Over 7,650 $ raised in nearly three weeks (remember – not every website will give information how much money were collected. PledgeMusic for example will only display % results of your campaign). Please take a look at the screen shot of their main Kickstarter page. It includes a very detailed bio, description of the whole project and the terms and conditions: what can you “buy” from the band, when the product will be delivered (estimated delivery) and how the band can fulfil their obligations (within 150 miles of Philadelphia or anywhere in the Continental US if you want the VIP package). The rules are clear and the band won’t have to worry how to transport their gear if the VIP living room gig is purchased by the Arctic explorers 😀

Their campaign can be seen here:

John and Brittany’s campaign is featured on the main page of Kickstarter website. Screenshot by Malicia Dabrowicz

When your campaign becomes popular with the public, it can be placed at the first page of your chosen site. You’ll need a bit of luck with that but crowd founding websites are looking for successful stories so drop them a line of your achievements. John and Britt have been chosen as their campaign had an excellent start. We have taken a screenshot when they appeared in Discover New Music section on Kickstarter.

Staff members chose John and Brittany’s campaign as their favourite. We cannot blame them! Screenshot by Malicia Dabrowicz

The second screenshot was taken when the campaign has been picked by the Kickstarter staff. We do not know how can you influence them to be picked up (maybe send them a cake?) but it is considered a true honour. Staff picks up three finished and three ongoing campaigns for every city and the artists are displayed under the Discovery tab.

Campaign updates: Crowd founding is all about updates. They are the heart and soul of the whole project and without them your readers will forget that the campaign is still ongoing. Make sure you have something interesting to say at least once every two weeks. Adding pictures and videos will make them look even better. What ever you do, don’t post a single sentence updates – you know why and we hope we don’t have to explain!

John posts an update on Kickstarter campaign page, thanking fans for the support.
Screenshot by Malicia Dabrowicz

John and Brittany posted a long and detailed update with big thanks to those who donated.

John’s full entry can be found here:

4. Store

You do not have to be a professional musician to sell your music. Opening an Internet store with your music can generate more funds for your big project and help people to become familiar with your previous albums (if you have them!). John & Brittany’s songs can be downloaded on iTunes. Go and buy them before they are replaced with something new!

John and Brittany’s iTunes store. Screenshot by Rita Dabrowicz

We hope you enjoyed this small report regarding crowd financing as it stands today. Perhaps it will inspire you to promote your favourite musicians better. Mal and Rita would like in this point to pay respect to the heroes who started the whole trend of self-financing, before self-financing was cool. There is a band that paved the road 12 years ago, when nobody even dreamt of Pledge Music and Kick Starters.

Thank you Marillion 😀

Please return soon as we have spoken with John and Brittany and we will be posting their confessions online very soon!

Rita and Mal

Interview logs: Bones Padilla

Hello girls and guys!

Some time ago, when we spoke to John Bechdel of Ascension of  The Watchers, several people asked if there was the possibility for us to interview other members of  the band: those full time and those who played during the live shows. The answer is: of course there is the possibility! After all, we have the access to Internet and Facebook 🙂 Several emails were exchanged and here is the result. Please read on and return here sooon – we are only starting to have fun!!

Interview with Bones Padilla

The drum genius, Bones Padilla is an incredibly humble and kind person. For more than 20 years, his drumming skills and techniques helped to shape the Industrial genre and influenced many bands and musicians. When approached about his achievements, his response was: “I’m only performing on stage!” We have caught up with Bones to talk about his past with Ascension of The Watchers, the legendary Still Life Decay, moving across the US and leading a happily married life in California.

Vanadian Avenue: You are a living legend of the NYC metal scene. However, younger fans of Ascension of The Watchers might not know where you played before joining the band. Can you introduce yourself to those who just started listening to your music?

Bones Padilla: My name is Bones (no Star Trek references please)… I played drums in Still Life Decay, Canibals, GASNYC and DeSade… I’ve been playing drums since I was 18… I was the drumtech for the band Biohazard from 93’-95’.

Vanadian Avenue: You joined AoTW as a drummer in 2008, replacing Fade Kainer. Tell us who recruited you?

Bones Padilla: Burton originally had Vinny Signorelli (Unsane and Swans fame) lined up to be the drummer but he was on tour in Europe at the time so Burton asked me as a favor to fill in for the shows he had lined up… I couldn’t say no…

Vanadian Avenue: Did you enjoy the tour? Any fond memories from performing on stage with Burton C Bell, John Bechdel and Edu Mussi?

Bones Padilla: Performing at the COSM Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in NYC was really cool… It was the record release party performance… The vibe was different from your ordinary gig…

Vanadian Avenue: What kit did you use for drumming with AoTW?

Bones Padilla: I use a Gretsch Catalina Club Rock kit which I still have to this day…

Vanadian Avenue: Were there any specific pieces you used to create the ambient beats?

Bones Padilla: I’m not an official member of the band so I had no part in the writing process. However, for the live shows, I used some china bells to replicate one section of the song “Residual Presence”, played brushes on “Canon For My Beloved” and used a lot of tambourine for the back beats…

Interview with Bones Padilla, page 2

Vanadian Avenue: What were some of the inspirations you gathered from for creating the beats for AoTW?

Bones Padilla: See answer above…

Vanadian Avenue: Do you remember an exact date when you joined Aotw? Where did you play the first gig?

Bones Padilla: The first show I did with AOTW was at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors gallery in New York. I didn’t “join” AOTW, I just filled in. Here are the dates I did with them:

Feb. 18 – New York, NY – Chapel of Sacred Mirrors

Feb. 19 – Washington, DC – The Red and The Black

Feb. 20 – Passaic, NJ – Loop Lounge

Feb. 21 – Philadelphia, PA – The Khyber

This was back in 2008. I met my wife in October of the same year.

Vanadian Avenue: You, Fade Kainer and Alex Terhune seem to know each other very well. You have performed with them plus Edu Mussi in Still Life Decay. Although much more heavy and noisy, it carries the spirit of AoTW.

Bones Padilla: Thanks for the compliment… Still Life Decay was all out industrial… We put on a killer live show everywhere we played… Fade, Edu, Alex and myself are the original members of SLD for 5 years…

Vanadian Avenue: We have always wanted to ask about the video to song “Detach” (from Still Life Decay) directed by Zina Brown.Burton plays a mad scientist and you and Fade Kainer serve as objects of some gruesome experiments. Must have been a lot of fun.

Bones Padilla: The majority of the video took place in one evening at our friend job’s warehouse… That part of the shoot took all night long and most of us went straight back to work after filming wrapped up… The rest of the scenes took place over the course of a few weeks…Burton had fun playing the scientist… All 4 of us were the “lab rats” meeting an untimely demise…

Vanadian Avenue: There was also a short lived and mysterious project called “Echoes and Shadows”. Can you tell us what is the status of this band? Did you know that all releases of E&S are completely out of print and unavailable to purchase?

Bones Padilla: Echoes and Shadows were born out of the ashes of Still Life Decay. Two months after forming E&S, we had our first 2 shows opening for New Model Army in NYC. We have opened for them a few more times after that as well. Since then, Edu had been busy recording “Numinosum” inEl Paso. E&S has since been put to rest. I’m very grateful to all the fans that purchased the album and CD versions. I don’t know if the music will be released again. For the time being MySpace is the only place to hear it.

Vanadian Avenue: You have played withBurton, Alex, and Edu in three different groups. If there would be a chance to hit the road with AoTW again, would you give it a shot?

Bones Padilla: If the logistics were correct, absolutely I would do it again… I had a blast doing those shows…

Vanadian Avenue: Recently you relocated from the East Coast toSan Francisco where you live with your wife, a famous burlesque star, Sparkly Devil. Have you ever thought of joining forces with her and creating an artistic project together?

Bones Padilla: I’m the sound guy for her show “Curvicious Cabaret” and have made several guest appearances in her acts onstage as a man-prop…Eventually she wants me to play drums onstage during one of her performances.

Vanadian Avenue: Are you working on any new music? What can we expect of Bones in the nearest future?

Bones Padilla: I’m playing with my band here inSan Francisco for 3 years now. We recently acquired a new vocalist so we have yet to come up with a new name. Stay tuned for more on that.

Vanadian Avenue: Is there anything you would like to tell your fans?

Bones Padilla: Thank you to all the fans of the bands I’ve played in… I hope you like the new material I’m working on with my band… I promise to have a new band name soon and share our music with you guys… Take care!!!

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you so much for answering our questions!

Bones Padilla: Thank you!!!

Interview by Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz and David J Mazur
Layout by Rita Dabrowicz
Pictures used with permission, live shots by Ryan Speth (

You can see the PDF version of this interview here:

PDF version at Issu:


A big thank you goes to Bones and his lovely wife, Sparkly Devil, who made this interview possible. Without their time and dedication, multiple corrections and changes, we would have never finished this little project.

As with other interviews, please do not “borrow”, re-post or post it anywhere else without or written consent. This is a very time consuming hobby. We work hard to bring you the best interviews and to make them look aesthetically pleasing, but they take a lot of our free time and it’s sad to see them go viral – not even our names are usually given! Please write an email to ask, it takes a mere second! Thank you and the address is: rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.


Rita and Mal and David

************************* Update  2013.05.28 ************************


Yesterday, May 27th 2013, our brother, band member and dear friend, Bones Padilla and his beautiful wife Sparkly, have been in an automobile accident. We understand that Bones is currently in medically induced coma at Standford Hospital but is showing signs of improvement. Sparkly has left us for Olympus leaving a void in our hearts. There’s very little we can say at this moment.  Please say a prayer for Bones and Sparkly.
There has been a fund set up to cover any legal/health costs, so please donate! Even if you can spare just a single dollar, all donations matter!  We are heartbroken, shocked and confused at this very moment.

Thank you kindly from the bottoms of our hearts,
Rita, Mal and David

Bones and his wife in the happy times. this is how we will remember them forever :( Picture from their official Facebook page.

Bones and his wife in the happy times. This is how we will remember them forever 😦 Picture from their official Facebook page.

************************* Update  2013.06.05 ************************
We are making another update to the blog. We have been given two press releases regarding the incident and we wish to share them with everybody who was coming here to read our updates in recent weeks (and that was quite a big amount of people – thank you all for your concern for Bones and his well being). If you need to share the releases, please do so. If you know any media that can pick up the story, especially the memorial fund, be sure they get their facts right and that they read the releases as well.

Release 1: Raul `Bones` Padilla


Following a tragic accident that claimed the life of his wife, Sarah Klein, a well known burlesque dancer that performed under the name “Sparkly Devil”, the driver of the vehicle, Raul Padilla (known as Bones) is making progress towards a recovery.

Through a message from a local bay area hospital, he stated that he is overwhelmed by the support he has received.

At this time, the family requests privacy to allow Mr. Padilla time to focus on his health. For further information or comment, please contact Steve Hamilton at

Release 2: Sarah `Sparkly Devil` Klein


 On Sunday morning May 26, 2013 just after 2:05AM, a tragic accident south of San Francisco, CA claimed the life of an international icon in the burlesque scene. Sarah Klein, 36, of San Mateo, CA, who performed under the name “Sparkly Devil” was in a 1995 Honda Del Sol driven by her husband, Raul “Bones” Padilla, on their way home after a show in San Francisco. Mr. Padilla lost control of the vehicle, which struck the center divider on US-101 southbound, the vehicle came to rest in the fast lane facing the wrong direction where it was struck head on by a party bus. Mrs. Klein was killed instantly and Mr. Padilla remains in intensive care following the accident. It is not known exactly what caused Mr. Padilla to lose control initially. This is currently being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.

Sarah was an amazing performer, and an even better friend. She will be missed by all that had the honor of knowing her. Many have been touched by this amazing couple’s generosity and love.

 Unfortunately, insurance is insufficient to the task of covering all of the expenses incurred by Raul and the family of Sarah Klein. If you are interested in making a donation to help, please follow this link for donation instructions:

For more information about the career and achievements of Sarah “Sparkly Devil” Klein, please contact Steve Hamilton –

Raul and Sarah on their wedding photoshoot. Photo taken from their Facebook page.

Raul and Sarah on their wedding photoshoot. Photo taken from their Facebook page.

Recent updates can be also found on Ascension of The Watchers official Facebook page, since Bones was a drummer of the project.
************************* Update  2013.06.30 ************************

We are amazed by the care and support Bones Padilla is receiving. The interview is read daily and we get new people coming to the blog to learn on Bones` condition. So we have decided to make another short update. Bones is now at home, after more than a month spent in the hospital. With his friends and family around him, he will make full if slow recovery. He is sometimes on Facebook and if you want to send him a message please do so by following this link:

We have also decided to share some screenshots from Ascension of the Watchers Facebook page, showing the amount of love and care from his fans. This is something truly inspiring and we want to show the world what amazing fans Bones has.

Facebook screenshot 1

Facebook screenshot 1

Facebook screenshot 2

Facebook screenshot 2

Facebook screenshot 3

Facebook screenshot 3

Thank you for reading and coming back for the updates.

You people make this job worth every effort!

************************* Update  2013.07.17 ************************

It was a truly dark month, but there’s a silver lining. Finally we can report something optimistic. On July 5th, 2013 Bones posted this image of himself on his Facebook page. As you can see he is still in a vulnerable state but nothing can crush his incredible spirit. He is still defiant and fighting with all his might, against all odds.

Photo taken from Bones official Facebook page

Photo taken from Bones official Facebook page

We have spoken to him a day later and passed all the words from the fans. We also informed him that people come to this blog in search of news about his condition.

His message is brief but he is grateful:

“Wow. I’m truly lucky to have friends like you guys. Thank you so much for all your love and support.”

He is also promising that:

“I will never stop fighting…”

And since a screenshot is worth a thousand words, see for yourselves:

Message from the Man

Message from the Man

Please spread the word and keep your horns raised for the man.

************************* Update  2013.09.06 ************************

Another update because good news are never enough! On Tuesday, Bones underwent his last operation. It went well, but now he will have to remain home for 6-8 weeks. His ankle is wrapped in a split and bandaged. Bones` spirit remains high and he is very much back to his old self: he says he is now under “house arrest”, got rid of the wheel chair and moves around on crutches. Yes, he is rock `n` roll and you can learn from him a thing or two about endurance. He’s also a rebel, wearing all those white bandages after Labor Day 😉

We remain in awe how strong Bones is and we are grateful to still have him with us.

The `before` shot

The `before` shot

The `after` shot

The `after` shot

Images are courtesy of the man himself.
We will be checking on how people can still make donations to Bones recovery fund, so please stay tuned.



Malicia, Dave and Rita

Interview Logs: Renata Lino

Hello rock and roll souls!

Say hello to June! This month will be super busy for as we are preparing several extraordinary treats for you all! Let’s us start with introducing you to lovely Renata Lino – one of the hottest up-and-coming female photographers in rock and metal! We have to admit, we spoken to many, truly inspirational people, but rarely we have a pleasure to meet such an extraordinary person! Renata is not only working full time, contributes to three very popular websites, writing reviews and articles, but she also travels all over the Europe to take pictures. Her hard work has paid off: her skills and great eye for compositions are universally admired – and rightly so! We met Renata in the Fall of 2011 during the campaign for City of Fire, where she contributed her picture of Burton C Bell from Fear Factory’s gig. She also gave us a book with her pictures as a prize for COF fans. Our co-operation was so great and smooth, that we decided to come back and learn more about her. Hope you will enjoy this conversation as much as we  had!
Thank you Renata. You simply rock (and roll!)

Interview with Renata, page 1


 Renata Lino is one of the Internet’s best recognized music photographers. In the last 16 years, she covered hundreds of shows, took thousands of pictures and literally befriended the biggest names in the rock and metal business.  Her skills, passion for her work and never ending smile melted the hearts of the countless band members. We spoke about the private photo sessions, the best and the worst concert scenarios and the fun of being in the middle of the photographic pit!

Vanadian Avenue: You work full time, take photos, write reviews and run your own blog. We would like to know how you manage all that (or at east know the brand of coffee that keeps you awake).

Renata Lino: Well, on my deviantART gallery I’m still posting pics taken in December and I have two CD reviews in waiting for over a month, so I guess I’m not managing it that well after all, lol. But I know what you mean. First, my day job is as a secretary. Meaning that I’m on the computer all the time and many times I can update my blog while I’m at the office (hope my boss won’t read this…). This is a passion I have, so I spend most of my free time with it. The gig reports have priority – I usually write the first version up to 48 hours after the concert (I say first because I write for three other websites. If I cover a certain event on behalf of one of them, I obviously post it there first, and later, when I have the time, in my blog). The CD reviews I choose to write are usually of bands that I like/know well, so it’s easier to write about them. But most of the times I review CD that are assigned to me, by those other websites I’ve mentioned – bands that I’m not familiar with or not even heard about ever. That is not so easy and sometimes it may take a while. But using your own words, it’s manageable 😉 And yes, I still have time to hang with my friends. About the coffee, I’m not very picky on the brand – it just has to be strong, and I take it black with no sugar ;))

Interview with Renata, page 2

Vanadian Avenue: Juggling so many tasks makes it impossible to squeeze you into one particular job description. If you were to give yourself a label you would be a blogger, a gig photographer or a music journalist.

Renata Lino: I think music photo-journalist is the best. I love to take pics, but right after that comes the love for writing. That’s why I started a blog instead of my own photography page (besides, I already have deviantART for that). But in a blog I can post photos AND my writings/reports.

Vanadian Avenue: Female photographers are rare. What attracted you to this job?

Renata Lino: You think so? ‘Cause I know many 😉 It all started with my passion for music. I just wanted to keep memories of the concerts I’d been to. I think the first live pics I took were in 1996… but then I became best friends with a girl who had taken a professional course in photography. As all I wanted was “memories”, and her photos were obviously better than mine, I stopped shooting for some time, keeping copies of her work. But then she got a complicated job, she missed a lot of concerts… I had to do it myself. And that’s when it got serious, eh, eh. I wanted to be better at it and suddenly it wasn’t just for the sake of memories but for the sake of photography, concert photography itself. It was in 2005 that I started to take my crappy camera to the concerts again and one year later I started looking for better cameras and photography tips on how to take better shots.


Interview with Renata, page 3

Vanadian Avenue: A girl with a camera surrounded by long haired guys. How do you manage to survive in the mosh pit?

Renata Lino: A short girl, don’t forget that, ah, ah. My trick is to stand literally in the front row, where I can support myself against the metal barriers or the stage itself when the biggest mess starts. I’ve earned some bruises along the way, broke my upper lip and, worst of it all, a stupid inccident with a stagediver broke my left knee. But in 20 years of concerts, I can that’s a quite good injury statistics.

Vanadian Avenue: Now, be honest, does the job pay?

Renata Lino: If we’re talking about money, definitely not. If I get an official press pass, then I don’t pay for the ticket, so that’s some money I save. But sometimes I don’t get a pass – I go because I REALLY want to see the show and so I pay like everybody else. Of course I still take my compact camera and then write about the show anyway – it’s an addiction. But if we’re talking about satisfaction and personal fulfillment, then totally yes 🙂

Interview with Renata, page 4

Vanadian Avenue:  Let’s play a game: the Good, the First, and the Ugly. Tell us about the first picture you ever took, your favorite one and the worst you have ever taken.

Renata Lino: Damn, just when I thought this interview was a piece of cake… (laughs). Let’s see, the first picture… I THINK (big emphasis on “think”) it was of a local underground band called Blasphemy. The first one I was officially asked to do was Web, that I’m sure of – but just because I was friends with the guitar player, not because I was a great photographer.

Naming one favorite is really, really unfair. I have many of them, ah,ah. Some because of the “technical quality”, some because of the captured moment, and some because of what that concert in particular meant for me… But okay, I’ll try to pick one. Probably the one of Mas (Samaël) where I caught him mid-air in one of his jumps! For those who don’t know, Mas is “the heavy metal cheerleader” – he jumps non-stop in every concert. Last October when they played here, I tried sooooooo hard to catch him in the air! And I finallly did, in one of the last songs. So that must be a fave, for the all the effort it took, lol.

Interview with Renata, page 5

Now the worst… there are a lot of those too, ah, ah. So I’ll choose one that made me sad and frustrated at the same time. Deathstars, when they opened for Korn in 2008. They’re one of my top bands, and I made it to the front row… but it was useless as I only had a crappy compact camera and the lights were all red… a total “photographic disaster”. The 69 Eyes inSalzburg, the year before, also sucked dish water. Amazing concert, but my pics turned out total trash.

Vanadian Avenue: Can you tell us the craziest thing that happened to you while taking pictures during a gig?

Renata Lino: Apart from breaking my knee when this total idiot jumped from the stage and landed on me? I was photographing a thrash metal band called Pitch Black, and was so concentrated on it that I didn’t see the guy until he literally hit me…

The cover of Renata’s book. If you’d like to order a copy of it, please contact Renata. She will get it sorted for ya!

I don’t know. A lot of funny things happened, but not exactly “crazy”. But one thing that made ME crazy with joy was when Bobby Blitz from Overkill posed for me! I was the only girl in the photopit, so I guess that helped, ah, ah. On the song “Fuck You” he turned to me and raised his middle finger. He only put it down when I nodded to him, as if saying “done!” The pic was awful in the end. I wasn’t in the best position to catch a good light, and I got so nervous that it came out totally unfocused. But of course I kept it – Bobby posed for ME 😉

Inside of Renata’s “Front row memories” book

Vanadian Avenue: Many photographers are afraid to publish their materials on blogs due to copyrights issues. On the contrary, you proudly showcase whole sets from various gigs you covered. What is your opinion on the exchange of information on the Internet and the rights of the artists?

Renata Lino: I’m not a professional. This is just something I enjoy immensely. So I feel thrilled when people leave all kinds of nice words. But for that, they need to actually SEE my work! If I don’t share it, how on Earth will I hear that feedback?!

I once found on Blabbermouth a picture I took of Roland Johansson (ex-Sonic Syndicate). It clearly had been “stolen” from my gallery on deviantART, as the frame with my signature had been removed. Okay, that wasn’t very nice. But I don’t share my pics in order to be famous. And if a complete stranger thought that one of my pics was good enough to be included in some news article, which made me proud, not mad.  I guess it’s different when you’re trying to make a living out of it. Or if you’re trying to“be a star”. Posting some other person’s work as your own is obviously completely wrong – but plagiarism has always been there, way before internet. Now if some one uses your work on social networks or forums just because he/she liked the photo… I honestly don’t see any harm in that. But like I said, I’m just speaking for myself, someone who’s not looking for profit or prestige. I’m not the best person to be asked about this.

Another look at the pictures inside “Front row memories” book

Vanadian Avenue: You are also self publishing books with your works. We have one and it does impress. How important is to you to keep your portfolio varied?

Renata Lino: Once again thank you for asking me for one of those! It was a real honour 🙂 But I print photobooks because nowadays it’s all digital! I miss picking an album from the shelf and browse its pages with the printed photos on it! Everything is in the computer. And okay, we have digital photo frames now, but it’s not the same thing. So I choose my best photos and make these books. Sometimes I make some smaller ones to offer as gifts. But it’s mostly for myself, and then, of course, I’ll show them to my friends. And the variety is just to remember me that I REALLY go to a lot of different concerts, ah, ah.

Vanadian Avenue: What advice would you give to people who would like to become music photographers? Where should they start?

Renata Lino: Well, it’s always good to check some basic tutorials. I don’t mean a full photography course (I never took any!). But it’s helpful if you know how to set your camera when, for instance, you have too much light or none at all – that kind of thing. But remember this is all theory. Especially in a concert, where the conditions keep changing all the time, the most important thing is to know your camera, how it works best in each circumstance. I’ve dealt with a few different ones and trust me – they all react differently under the same conditions. So get the basic theory but then do aLOT of experiments.

Vanadian Avenue: You seem to enjoy surprising people. Let us just mention your legendary seasonal cards. Members of Pantera used to send Christmas cards with some witty messages (“Money’s short, times are hard, here’s your fucking Christmas card”). Yours reads: “Every season is good to rock” and it features Santa shredding a Fender. What else can we expect form you in the future?

Renata’s (in)famous Christmas card. You want one? Order her book! 🙂

Renata Lino: Ah, ah, my “famous” cards! Yes, that’s another passion of mine. Like you said, I like to surprise people and make them smile. And I think a personalized card, on Christmaas, birthday or some other special occasion, is the best way of doing so. My cards are always related to the person’s interests – that’s why yours had an image and message related to rock/metal music 😉 Sometimes I also adapt private jokes. I remember a friend of mine once mistaking the name of a place with another one, so my card for him had Santa looking for that place on a map… So let’s see what I come up next for you, girls! My drawing skills aren’t exactly brilliant, so I obviously search for images on Google. And when my friends like movies/actors or bands that I never photographed before, I also have to use other photographer’s works. Maybe that’s why I’m not that big on the whole copyright issue…

Santa is rocking inside Renata’s handmade Christmas card. It comes with an autograph!

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you for answering our questions

Renata Lino: Thank you!!

Interview and design by Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz
All pictures: Renata Lino, all rights reserved

You can find the PDF version of this article here:

Issu version can be found here:

Important links: – Renata Lino’s on Facebook  –  Renata’s Deviantart profile  –  Renata’s blog about music  – you can read Renata’s articles here – another website where Renata’s a member of staff

Thank you for reading out conversation with Renata. Please remember, do not copy or repost any part of the interview or any of the pictures Renata kindly gave us permission to use to illustrate the interview. All of us work really hard and we do not appreciate when we find our work “borrowed” anywhere else.
If you’d like to contact us please write to: rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.

Hold tight to your seats, soon we will be back with yet another interview that going to rock you all hard!

Can’t wait? Be back really, really soon!
All the best,

Rita, Mal and Renata!