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Gray Areas: Eicher signs record deal for next release

JD Eicher’s new music will be released on a new label.

The Canfield singer-songwriter signed a record deal with AntiFragile Music. The first single, “Vacation,” will be released to streaming services on Friday and two more singles are set for release this year before the first album on Antifragile arrives, probably in early 2022.

“Back in November, we started to record a couple adid the whole masked-face, COVID studio experience. A lot of it was remote with the producer in L.A., doing Zoom calls and using an app that allows you to stream high-fidelity audio remotely. We were in Court Street (Recording Studio in Canfield) and working with him remotely.

“We took this initial handful of tunes, sending them around to music companies wondering if there might be interest and what that interest might look like. AntiFragile has a nice track record of taking independent artists and helping them build a career that’s more substantial. They were on the outreach list and Tom Sarig, head of the label, got right back to us. The term he used is positive alignment. We seemed to be on the same page.”

Sarig started the label in 2017 after working as an A&R executive for several major labels (Universal, Arista, MCA, A&M) and running the artist management company Esther Creative Group.

“He’s managed Cake, Lou Reed, Violent Femmes, alternative acts that had some mainstream success,” Eicher said. “He seems to understand crossing that divide.”

While staying based in the Mahoning Valley, Eicher has released several CDs, toured throughout the U.S. and Europe and organized his own mini music festival, JD’s Summer Songfest. He also created a four-song “soundtrack” and title song for Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling novel “Two by Two” and accompanied the author on a four-city book tour.

With the support of AntiFragile Music, Eicher said he hopes the label can help him broaden the reach of his music on the streaming services, improve his access to media outlets and help market his songs internationally.

Eicher said the new music marries the different paths of his recent EPs.

“Our last two releases were starkly different,” he said. “‘Court Street’ is more organic, natural sounding, lot of live performances for the band (Jim Merhaut, bass and backing vocals; and Dylan Kollat, drums and percussion). ‘Compass’ is more pop, songs like ‘Ain’t My Scene.’ This project very intentionally involved all of the producers on all those projects — Ryan Humbert and Mike Estok here and Bill Leffler in L.A. The goal was to marry some of the sonic advances into something more cohesive for this projects.”

The first single takes the organic approach of “Court Street” and layers it with synthesized sounds and big, distorted drums. Despite the title, “Vacation” isn’t a song about escape.

“It’s a little on the darker side,” Eicher said. “For that reason, the title felt good to me, maybe a little snarky.”

Eicher is playing some local / regional solo gigs — he’ll be at Quaker Steak & Lube in Austintown on Wednesday — but there’s enough uncertainty with COVID-19 to make planning a larger tour unfeasible right now. And after canceling in the event in 2020 and 2021, Eicher said he hopes JD’s Summer Songfest will be possible next year, but no planning has started yet.

“We’re still very much in the unknown. I’ve had gigs drop off (the schedule) in the fall. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to tour more formally in 2022.”

Andy Gray is the entertainment editor of Ticket. Write to him at agray@tribtoday.com

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