David Bourgeois: A Man on the Move
Interview and story by Bob Girouard
In today’s highly competitive entertainment industry, success often depends on both the preparedness and the vibe (i.e. a look, sound, image or energy that separates the artist from the average public). Producer/drummer David Bourgeois has that vibe. His position as President and Creative Director of White Lake Music & Post (a full-service production facility: recording studios w/rehearsal space) and Bridge Road Entertainment (specializing in performing artist development) makes him a very unique and very busy man.
WLM&P (named after their home on White Lake in the Adirondacks) is not your average mom-and-pop business. David and his wife, Anna (herself a multi-talented individual in both the creative and business sides of the industry), have run the business since 2010 at their current location at 26 Vly Road in Colonie. Bridge Road Entertainment now has two artists signed exclusively to their roster: The sister-and-brother team of Jocelyn & Chris Arndt (who were featured at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah earlier this month) and Myron James, an indie-pop artist currently recording his debut album.
Nippertown recently sat down with David and Anna to discuss their hard-earned success and how it came about:
Q: Anna, let’s get to the how’s and why’s of this unique venture?
AB: Well, David has always worked in recording studios and written music, so it was a natural progression. We’ve worked together from the ground up, and we’ve been here since 2010. I went to school for radio, television and film. I also worked previously at the NBC affiliate in Utica and PBS here. I handle staff, payroll and human resources.
DB: Yes, I could NOT function without her.
AB: Well, yes you could, but nobody would get paid! (Laughs)
DB: Back when we started, I was hopping around as a producer and drummer for hire for anyone that would have me, including the talented Ted Hyland, who now works with me here and is a member of my staff. Anna and I have similar likes, especially regarding music and musicians. It wasn’t a grand master plan as much as it was an evolution. Prior to being at this location, we spent eleven years in Schenectady.
Q: How does someone who has, let’s say, “theatrical” aspirations qualify to become part of your infrastructure?
DB: One of my biggest frustrations over the years I’ve spent being a creative person, is that most of my ilk do not know anything about the business end. Bridge Road Entertainment began about four years ago when Anna and I decided to devote our attentions to real artist development; meaning, something that is driven from our investment in the artist.
I’d like to point out that the artist does not pay for this. We’ve leveraged all of our resources in lieu of an exclusive contract with that person or persons that blend Anna’s abilities with mine to create a complete package, or more appropriately, a complete artist. Unfortunately, BRE is currently limited to artists who we have signed with us. Ironically, I’m constantly on the phone with musicians across the country, and up the road I think that we may offer a suite of professional services. We have a lot of resources here, so if we can help steer somebody the right way, it’s something we’re definitely considering.
Again, our production facility is world-class. We not only can bring a random artist’s song to life, but we also produce quality music and sound production for such entities as Disney, HGTV, Discovery, etc. It’s all over the spectrum. Not to mention, we have an in-house marketing wing strictly for our artists, plus a private company, Big Picture Media, out of L.A. and New York, who are under contract as our publicists.
Q: How do you know if an aspiring artist qualifies for your mentorship?
DB: First of all, being an artist myself, I always have time to help point somebody in the right direction. As I said, recording-wise, we’re equipped to handle recording for a variety of bands and solo entities. We’re not cheap, but we can guide them through various aspects of that process. Management, however, and/or exclusivity are a whole other thing and only come with a great deal of forethought. It’s a really big decision of personal/professional time and monetary investment.
For example, I discovered Jocelyn Arndt, and her brother working in a beer tent at the Fonda fair, and she was simply, well, nothing short of breathtaking. It all began with a conversation with her mom and dad, then we invited her out to the studio because I really wanted to get to know her, her brother, and her whole family. Initially, we worked on a handshake and on her 18th birthday, we signed her.
Q: So, in your case, she not only found a business family but a social one as well?
DB: Funny, our business attorney once advised: “Remember, don’t get to close (personally) to your artists.” But for me, I can’t work any other way. It doesn’t work for me if I don’t genuinely care about the artist I work for. In fact, it makes me a better advocate for them. In the case of Jocelyn, I also serve as her drummer and musical director, and we tour all over the U.S.
NOTE: David and Anna are not the only energetic folks under the WLM&P/Bridge Road Entertainment umbrella. Their enthusiasm is shared by their employees. Christy Pronto, who since August, 2012 has served as their Administrative Director, also shared her thoughts with us.
Q: How did you come to work for David and Anna?
CB: I got my degree in Arts Administration and I worked in NYC at a modeling agency. I came back to the Capital district when my mom got ill. After some time, I wanted to get back into my field and that’s when I spotted an ad that David and Anna had placed. I went in for the interview, and the very next day I had the job. The rest is history… and I must say, I had never seen a facility this before; right here around the corner from me, locally. I’m all about accomplishments, and how could it not be inspiring? You’ve got two people with a dream, and now I’m part of that dream. It’s not a job; it’s what we can accomplish together. The sky’s the limit, and both Anna and David give me the opportunities to do it, and to grow with them.
DB: Our business is made up of not employees but contributors. That’s how we have to have it or it doesn’t work. So, we always look for folks who have strengths outside the norm. Christy is one of those people, and an invaluable asset.
In closing, I’d like to say that I’m an enormous supporter of both music and the Capital Region. We love living here, love the musical talent here, and again, want to emphasize…I’m always here to give advice to those who ask for it.
Bob Girouard is a long-time drummer and contributing writer for Modern Drummer and Classic Drummer magazines. He is also a member of the band Urban Gumbo, who recently celebrated their 25th anniversary with the release of their new album, “Hard Times for Love.”