Our FACE of Nashville today is the lovely Autumn House, Vice President, A&R at Capitol Records. Her family is a staple in Nashville with her dad, Gerry House, being a voice that many laughed to each morning on WSIX with Gerry House and the House Foundation. It’s no surprise that after college in Arizona, Autumn returned to Nashville and found her place on the other side of the radio: finding the talent that fills the musical airways. Her knack, hard work and instincts for finding breakthrough talent was rewarded last year with the promotion to VP, after 10 years at Capitol.
We have readers both in and out of the music industry. Can you tell us what A&R stands for and the full scope of your job?
A&R stands for artist and repertoire (French pronunciation optional). I look and listen for artist(s) to sign to the label, and once signed, help them make their records — i.e. listen to songs, work with production, scheduling, co-writing, etc. All things in regards to the recording process.
Being from Nashville, do you think the standard Nashvillian has a better understanding of music than residents of other cities?
Good question. I think we appreciate the art form more in Nashville. I think the Nashville music fan embraces the culture of our music and the music business. As my dad would say, “You can’t swing a cat and NOT hit a songwriter.” I’m sure most people have a songwriter friend which allows them a better understanding of the job and the business.
What do you encounter as the biggest misconception with the music business?
That most songwriters are driving Mercedes and retiring to their mansions. A very small percentage can actually retire from songwriting. Even a big copyright doesn’t earn as much as it once did. Also, it’s incredibly frustrating when anyone makes an argument that music should be “free.” I guarantee you it wasn’t “free” to make it.
Have you recently signed anyone that you can share your excitement about?
I’m very excited about Jon Pardi and Kelleigh Bannen. Both will have singles out after the new year. Jon is just a good time. Bakersfield meets Lower Broadway. If you love to dance at the honky tonks, Jon is for you. Kelleigh’s songwriting is just magical. She puts you right in the place she wants you to be through her lyrics, singing and emotion. And both are easy on the eyes.
Where is your favorite place in Nashville to listen to emerging talent?
Cannery Ballroom and 12th & Porter. I grew up sneaking into the Cannery for their Battle of the Bands and eating 12th & Porters’ Rasta Pasta. They both hold special places in my heart. But, honestly, they are all great. My favorite place is where and when I can find a parking space. I swear, none of the venues in town have enough parking!
I think your dad is hysterical and I still giggle about the lady at Phillips & Quarrels whom he overheard stating, “I must have a hammer” in that southern drawl. Did you inherit his sense of humor?
As a kid, I used to think, “What’s so funny? I don’t get it.” He was always doing or saying funny things, but he was “dad.” As I got older, I really learned to appreciate how smart and funny he is. I like to think we have the same sense of humor. We are very similar people. I’m often told that I’m just like him. We see the world the same way. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far.
Do you have a go-to restaurant in Nashville?
J. Alexander. We could throw a rock from our house and hit it. If we want cheap and quick, we go to El Stuffed Pepper on Harding.
Any must-have purchases for Fall/Winter 2011?
I just bought some tan wedge boots from Calypso St. Barths. I love them! Perfect for leggings or skinny jeans.
Are you dressing up for Halloween?
We are! I am beyond excited. My husband…not so much. I have had this crazy idea of going as square dancers since I can’t remember — just never had the perfect partner. Now I do, and we are going to a party in our gingham shirts. Side note: last year we dressed as white, fluffy bunnies. Big ears, fluffy tails, paws… the whole enchilada. We went bar hopping!
Here’s a loaded question for someone in your position: If you were having a dinner party this weekend, what would your playlist include?
Including all Capitol artists (of course), Michael Fienstein, Snow Patrol, The Stills, Ray Lamontagne, U2, Amos Lee and then a dance list for when the party really gets started.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Puerto Banos in Marbella, Spain, and Watercolor in Santa Rosa, FL.
Name three things (other than God and Family) that you can’t live without.
Lip gloss, music, and laughter.
For a behind-the-scenes look from Autumn’s photo shoot with Ashley Hylbert, click here!