By Sheryl Aronson
Erica Olsen walked into the Granville Restaurant sparkling with enthusiasm and a welcoming smile. The on-air television host for CBS2 and KCAL9’s Music Moment exudes a heart-felt passion and serious commitment to provide a platform for exposing Los Angeles audiences to emerging musicians. The genres of music are diverse, the ages of the artists run the gamut, yet all the bands must capture the special essence decided by Erica Olsen and her Executive Producer, Robert Dourisboure.
The Hollywood 360 sat down with Erica Olsen and discussed the everyday operations of CBS2 and KCAL9’s Music Minute Program.
Sheryl Aronson: Let’s talk about the Music Minute. A fabulous opportunity for musicians. What is the history?
Erica Olsen: About two years ago, Mercedes Benz came to us and said we’re really interested in music…for five or six years we were producing music shows with emerging artists at that time, and having success with them. So we thought what if we did a short format piece weekly, Monday through Friday, in order for people to get a taste of an artist every single night. Then Jack In the Box loved it so much that they took over and sponsor it currently.”
Sheryl Aronson: What time slots does the Music Minute run?
Erica Olsen: It runs on a late night time slot, it runs after Steven Colbert,CBS2 and then on KCAL9 right around 7:30 mark. It’s great television exposure, but it also lives on-line so the short tv piece gets extended. When it goes on-line you get the full performance of the artist. It’s something artists can share, use for themselves. Some artists have never done a music video before, we pride ourselves on creating great content, so it’s now this great piece they utilize and share.
Sheryl Aronson: Who are on your team?
Erica Olsen: My team is as follows:
Executive Producer – Robert Dourisboure
Producer for 1/2 hour music shows – Amy Weissenberg
Director of Photography – Glenn Shimada
Director of Marketing – Stacia Burke
Robert Dourisboure is the music curator for the series. He’s a LA native and has been obsessed with music even since he’s been a little kid. For him it’s a passion project as well. He loves researching new bands, as do I. Now we’ve become this great duo. We’ll find a pitchfork review or a we’ll hear about a small band that opens up for a known band. We are careful for crafting a diverse, talented group of artists for this. We have an amazing camera man Glenn Shimada, who really understands the band’s live performance aspect. So as we are shooting, he’s got this great eye to show the emotion behind the performance as well.
Sheryl Aronson: How did your career develop?
Erica Olsen: In the back of my mind I always knew I wanted to be in entertainment, but I had no journalism background. I thought I am a quick learn and a hard worker, so maybe somebody will give me a shot. I found a temp agency that only worked with entertainment companies, and wouldn’t you know, the first hire was CBS2 and KCAL9. I went in as a sales assistant and from there grew within the company. In one year I transitioned to the marketing department, because I knew I wanted to be a part of more creative side of things. This producer/editor I worked with asked if I wanted to be on camera? I had taken acting classes in college and I thought… why not. It was a So Cal Chevy commercial and I had a big pickup truck…I was from Nebraska…it was a perfect fit. I had such a ball with it. Then that blossomed into a career of hosting on air for CBS. I’ve been a television host since 2007.
Sheryl Aronson: What was your first hosting job?
Erica Olsen: They sent me to Australia to do a half hour television show. We went to Sidney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and it was a spectacular first run. I’ve been pounding the pavement ever since.
All of the custom content that airs on CBS2 and KCAL9, I am typically involved with and it’s more lifestyle and entertainment events.
Sheryl Aronson: How did you decide you wanted to specialize in music?
Erica Olsen: I’ve always been passionate about music because I grew up in a music family. My grandfather was a professional singer and classically trained. He toured all over the United States. He was such a fan of the Arts and he tried to bring that to Hastings, Nebraska. He had Marian Anderson, the famous opera singer come through and perform at his house. We had a Stradivarius violin come through that was on loan…my grandfather wanted to introduce culture to all of us. My grandmother was an organist at our church, my mother was a singer and I was a classically trained pianist.
Sheryl Aronson: It sounds like you were being groomed for this career back then.
Erica Olsen: It’s funny how the past comes together and connects to future events.
Sheryl Aronson: What exactly is the Music Minute? I’ve watched your videos and they run longer than a minute.
Erica Olsen: When you see a full performance of a song, you get more character out of a band and a better understanding of their sound. I love to watch musicians perform and we combine that with interviews that captivates and excites people to want to hear more.
Sheryl Aronson: How do feel about the different genres of music and the bands that have been on the Music Minute?
Erica Olsen: There’s been country musicians, jazz musicians, Delta blues musicians, pop musicians, but the interesting thing I notice more and more is that there is no specific genre the musicians want to put themselves in. They feel that they are tapping into everything that is available to them. For example, Kamasi Washington is a jazz musician, saxophonist and composer and is under the Flying Lotus label – Kamasi was on Kendrick Lamar’s album that won all the Grammys. He is a mixture of jazz, post- op, blues and rock. Hiatus Kaiyote was an interesting jazz band out of Australia, Cellars, or her real name, Alle Norton, was a sound engineer who is a bedroom pop musician, experimental music. Sam Outlaw is a country musician with a Beach Boys’ vibe in there. All these different artists are innovative and visually appealing.
Sheryl Aronson: You are an Emmy nominated on air host for your show. Please talk about the Emmy nominations.
Erica Olsen: We just got word we have been nominated for our Lexus Night Out show, which is our second Emmy nomination. We were nominated for our 2014 and 2015 shows. Robert Dourisboure, Executive Producer, Amy Weissenberg, producer and I work as a production team for Lexus around the Grammy’s. This is similar in content to Music Minute because we are featuring emerging artists. The show last year included The One and Only-PPLMVR, and trust me, they are the One and Only. They were dressed up as Yetis. They were in costume and in character the entire time. They don’t speak…so my interview consisted of them grunting at me, and me deciphering what they were saying. They are unbelievable musicians in the Psychedelic Rock genre.
Sheryl Aronson: What’s the most exciting aspect of what you do as a Producer for the Music Minute?
Erica Olsen: Every aspect is exciting because we will go into a sound check… where there’s excitement before the big night, or go into the recording studio with the musicians. We want to have the opportunity to be with them in vulnerable moments, private moments, which lends itself to a more unique shoot.
Everything about music excites me. Everybody can tap into music emotionally… it gives you that experience to deal with pain or excitement, with love or happiness… it’s a personal thing for people. If the artists are willing to put themselves out there with their craft, that’s what we want to capture on the Music Minute.