Kelowna’s Jayson Bendera has jumped on board for the ride of his life.
“All of a sudden I’m a hot commodity,” said the 32-year-old.
“I mean, I’m still working at a tire shop (Save Big on Tires), but in the last month I’ve been discovered, gone to L.A. for an audition with one of the biggest producers in the music business, signed a contract, and I’m going back to L.A. on the 17th to record an EP and hopefully become a star.”
The uber-catchy pop-rock song Running From Your Love will be on the EP and could very well be Bendera’s breakout hit.
“I finished writing that song the morning of my audition,” he said. “When music is in me, it just has to come out of me.”
Bendera will also perform Running From Your Love on Thursday night at Doc Willoughby’s Pub in downtown Kelowna in an intimate concert that’s billed as a showcase before he jets off to L.A. Tickets cost $10 at SelectYourTickets.com.
This story actually starts Oct. 4 in the tire shop.
Kelowna’s Randy Lennon comes in to buy tires and starts talking with Bendera.
Bendera makes a joke about the Johnny Cash tribute show he used to do in Edmonton when he dabbled in singing, dancing and acting.
It comes out that Lennon, now affiliated with Visland Media in Kelowna and host of the Biz 1 on 1 interview that airs on Bloomberg TV Canada, used to be a recording artist manager in the 1980s and ’90s. In fact, Lennon represented Tim Feehan, the singer who won the 1987 Juno for most promising male artist.
Bendera keeps an upright piano at the tire shop with a big wheel rim as a bench, so he sings for Lennon two of his original songs: Punched In Love and Say You Love Me.
“It was amazing. I’ve not been so blown away by a new artist since 1984 when I saw a strange girl in a cowboy outfit called k.d. lang at a tiny lounge in Edmonton,” said Lennon.
“I’ve been out of the music business for a long time and had no intention of getting back into it, but I was compelled to get Jayson to L.A.”
The two arrange for Lennon to drop by a rehearsal of Bendera’s makeshift band four days later in a little space above a barbershop in West Kelowna.
Lennon is again astounded and calls his old friend Chester Aldridge in L.A., who owns U.S. Equity Holdings, a company that incubates, finances and manages ventures in health care, technology, renewable energy and entertainment.
The entertainment division includes producers who’ve worked with the likes of Beyonce, Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, Cher, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
Aldridge takes Lennon’s word for it that Bendera is star material and tells them to get down to L.A.
This is Oct. 9, only five days after Lennon and Bendera’s first meeting.
Bendera doesn’t have a passport, so on Oct. 10 he rushes to Surrey to get one and is on a plane with Lennon on Oct. 11.
Landing in L.A., Bendera is inspired to finish writing the song that’s been knocking around in his head, Running From Your Love.
He sings it for Aldridge as soon as they get to his office, and Aldridge starts spitballing about how Bendera might be Elton John meets Justin Timberlake or an edgier Ed Sheeran.
Aldridge immediately sets up a meeting with music producer Olivier Bassil, who does a lot of work with producer David Foster and thus artists like Ariana Grande, Jason Derulo, Ne-Yo and Michael Buble.
They head over to Bassil’s house, where Bendera runs through a 16-song set that bounces from Punched In Love and Sentimental Feeling to Hello You and Running From Your Love as a finale.
“It’s surreal at this point. Everyone is so pumped,” said Bendera.
“Plans are made to go out to dinner. But Olivier can’t make it, so me and Randy and Chester and his girlfriend, Sir Angel Romero and his wife, and Walter Afanasieff and his wife go.”
Afanasieff, who was known as Baby Love in the 1980s, is the music producer who worked with Mariah Carey for years and won the 2000 Grammy for Celine Dion’s Titanic movie theme song, My Heart Will Go On.
“I definitely get the feeling I’m in L.A. and with these people for a reason,” said Bendera.
Later that morning, Bendera is signing a five-year contract with Aldridge’s company for recording artist management.
Bendera and Lennon are on a plane back to Kelowna later that day.
Bendera explains everything to his wife, who wasn’t too hot about being left alone with their two young children while he swanned off to California.
She came around, he returned to work at Save Big On Tires and plans were finalized for a return trip to L.A. on Nov. 17.
“I’m actually going to be staying with Olivier and we’re going to be locked in a studio, creating a masterpiece,” said Bendera.
“The five-song EP will definitely have Running From Your Love on it with a couple of other upbeat pop-rock songs, an edgier rock song and a ballad. Olivier will be the producer, but I’m hoping Walter may drop by to produce the ballad.”