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About the tricky process of getting a new work visa

David Henriksson


So, to you who have followed this space before, welcome BACK to my blog! For the rest of you, just WELCOME! I’m going to do this in English sometimes to reach a wider audience, Google Translate works fine I guess but in a way it’s just easier for me to write it in English and not worry about corny translations. With that said…

I’ll start with a quick (re)introduction of myself - my name is David Henriksson and I’m a Swedish musician, mostly guitarist, living in Nashville, Tennessee since the summer of 2017. Quickly after I moved here, my career took off WAY quicker than I had imagined. Crazy stuff happened within just a few months, but you can read more about that in this interview here.

While working towards a new visa, David is also out touring almost every weekend. This is from a gig in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. (Photo: Sean Marshall)

I’m here on work visa, specifically for music, called an O1 visa. It’s also described as a visa for ”Aliens of Extraordinary Abilities”. In February next year, less than 4 months from now, my visa expires. Since I’ve had such a blast over here, I definitely want to get another visa to see what more the future might hold for me over here. To get a new visa I have to prove my ”extraordinary” accomplishments in several different ways, one way is that I’ll have to get recommendation letters signed by people in the music industry that I have some kind of professional relationship with.

Therefore, I have spent some time lately hitting up people I’ve gotten to know during my time in Nashville, to see if they wanna help out in this bureaucratic process to extend my stay here in ”Music City” – Nashville’s popular nickname. I’ll try to not make this seem just like bragging and name dropping, but rather be real about how this process works. Some very well respected and amazing musicians have been kind enough to agree to help out which I’ll be forever grateful for. If you don’t know who these people are, check them out as I’d rather tell you how I hooked up with them instead of what they’ve achieved. You’ll find that through our mutual friend name Google ;)

Left to right: David, Andreas Olsson from Swedish dance band ”Sannex”, Brent Mason

Brent Mason – I ran into him the first time during a recording session in April last year with my former boss, country singer Tracy Lawrence. After that I booked a guitar lesson with Brent, which ended up being mostly a relaxed hang where we chatted way more than we played guitar. Afterwards he bought me dinner and a beer. What a guy! He also recommended me to the position as lead guitarist for country singer Aaron Lewis (former singer of the rock band ”Staind” who’s sold 15 million records worldwide). Brent himself plays guitar on Aaron’s albums so the fact that he recommended me as the guitarist who would have to cover his parts live meant a whole lot. To be completely clear here, I didn’t end up taking this guy for a few different reasons. Brent’s willingness to help out with the letter for my visa application also shows what a nice guy he is!

With Vince Gill in his home studio (Photo: David Brawner)

Vince Gill – I met Vince a couple of times in the fall of 2017 when we both played the ”Grand Ole Opry” and the ”Ryman Auditorium” during the same nights. Vince complimented my guitar playing and I was starstrucked like never before haha! Recently, were reintroduced to each other by a mutual friend and when asked if he would help me out with a letter, Vince invited me and our mutual friend over to his house to hang out for a bit and gladly signed the letter. What a guy!

In the Cinderella Sound Studio with Bram Pemberton, Robert Reynolds and Al Perkins pictured 3rd, 2nd and 1st from the right. 

Brad Pemberton – We met while recording at one of Nashville’s oldest active recording studios called ”Cinderella Sound Studio”. Other musicians on this session were Robert Reynolds (former member of Grammy Award winning band ”The Mavericks”) and Al Perkins (also a Grammy winner who’s played on albums by Dolly Parton, Eagles, The Rolling Stones etc.)

I’d call myself quite damn lucky to have these kind of people in my corner while trying to get through this tricky process once again. The first time I applied for a visa we sent in more than 100 pages of documentation, now my lawyer says that we should aim for 300 pages this time. I’m glad there are other ways to prove my accomplishments than just recommendation letters. Otherwise I’d be VERY stressed to get 300 of them together before February haha!

More stories from Nashville and the visa process coming your way soon!

Cool panorama picture from Vince’s studio (Photo: David Henriksson)

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Se mina tidigare blogginlägg på Studio från september, 2018 och tidigare här!

Kolla in mig på:

Edited by David Henriksson


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  • Similar Content

    • By David Henriksson
      Det var dagen före Thanksgiving. Jag började precis må bättre efter att ha varit sjuk i nästan två veckor. Vid 18:30 fick jag ett sms från ett nummer jag inte kände igen. En producent som heter John skrev att de jobbade på en hiphop-version av ”Blue Christmas” (Elvis Presleys kända version släpptes 1957) som Billy Ray Cyrus och Young Buck skulle sjunga tillsammans. (In English at the bottom of the page).
      Billy Ray är Miley Cyrus pappa, han hade en enormt 90-talshit med ”Achy Breaky Heart” som sålde 9 miljoner exemplar bara i USA. Nyligen hade han ytterligare en enorm hit med en rappare, Lil Nas X, deras låt ”Old Town Road” har mer än 814 000 000 streams på Spotify och över 400 000 000 visningar på YouTube när detta skrivs. Young Buck var medlem i rapgruppen G-Unit med bl.a. 50 Cent för ungefär 15 år sedan. Om dessa herrar ville att jag skulle spela in lite hiphop-jul-gitarr, VARFÖR INTE?
      Young Buck till höger och 50 Cent till vänster
      John sa att de hade en förstärkare i studion så jag tog bara med mig ett par gitarrer och mitt pedalbord och beställde en Uber ut till Mount Juliet, ungefär 25 minuter öster om Nashville. När jag anlände till den stora ladan där studions finns gick jag in i kontrollrummet, hälsade på John och Young Buck och ytterligare ungefär 10 herrar som satt där inne, dimman av rök var den mest intensiva jag någonsin upplevt.
      De rökte inte tobak… De var alla exalterade, men på ett tillbakalutat sätt, över att jag var där och John bad mig att packa upp mina grejer i inspelningsrummet. Billy Ray hade ringt dem tidigare och visat över telefon vilket stuk han var ute efter. Gitarren spelade vad jag skulle beskriva som en långsam, bluesig Chuck Berry-inspired kompfigur. ”Jag älskar Chuck, det där kan jag lira utan problem. Men hur kommer detta funka över ett hiphop-beat?” var mina omedelbara tankar.

      Jag gick in till inspelningsrummet och såg att de hade en Behringer-förstärkare där inne. Trodde att jag aldrig skulle få ett dugligt sound haha, men efter bara lite rattande lät det faktiskt helt okej. Jag spelade in några tagningar med lite variationer på huvudriffet och frågade sen om de ville ha några kompletterande gitarrslingor. Young Buck ringde Billy Ray och visade det jag redan spelat in, Billy Ray älskade det och bad mig att spela riffet igen för honom över telefonen.
      Han var väldans exalterad och sa att jag ”kanaliserade Chuck”. Jag föreslog att lägga till en del från Elvis version av låten, där händer det i körarrangemanget men min idé var att spela det med ett distat elgitarr-sound istället. Billy Ray tyckte att det var en kanonbra plan eftersom, i alla fall enligt honom, denna låt är lika igenkänd för detta körarr som för Elvis leadsång. Jag gick tillbaka in i inspelningsrummet och spelade in några tagningar (i olika register) av denna körstämma på min gitarr.

      Kontrollrummet i Bradley’s Barn Studio där jag gjorde inspelningen
      När jag var klar med inspelningen berättade John, producenten, lite om historien runt denna studio. Den byggdes av hans farfar (eller morfar? Varför kan de inte ha separata ord som vi så logiskt har i det svenska språket…) som hette Owen Bradley. Han var en musiker och producent känd för sin enorma påverkan på countrymusikens utveckling som skedde i Nashville under 50- och 60-talet. Han och Chet Atkins anses var två av de huvudsakliga ”arkitekterna” bakom det som allmänt kallas ”The Nashville Sound”. Det var mer polerat och välproducerat jämfört med den tidigare, råare och mer folkmusik-lika countrymusiken.
      Owen Bradley drev även en inspelningsstudio i centrala Nashville, ursprungligen kallad ”Bradley’s Film & Recording Studio” och senare känd som ”Columbia Studio B”. Det var en väldigt framgångsrik studio och inspirerade många andra att starta deras verksamhet i samma område. Detta växte till vad som nu kallas ”Music Row”, ett par kvarter som anses vara hjärtar av Nashvilles underhållningsindustri. I detta område kan man idag finna kontoren till otaliga skivbolag, publishing-bolag, musiklicens-firmor, inspelningsstudios, videoproduktionsbolag och även företag som är kopplat till musikbranschen såsom radionätverk och radiostationer.

      Young Buck och Billy Ray Cyrus tillsammans i den kommande musikvideon
      Den här kvällen blev mycket mer intressant än jag hade anat. Jag pratade med, och spelade gitarr för, Billy Ray Cyrus över telefon. Jag träffade och hängde lite med Young Buck, 50 Cents gamla bandkompis. I insåg att det faktiskt går att få ett okej ljud ur en Behringer-stärkare. Jag lärde mig en del saker om historien runt Nashvilles musikindustri. En rätt unik, och väldigt minnesvärd, kväll här i Nashville.
      Over and out,
      Se mina tidigare blogginlägg på Studio från september, 2018 och tidigare här!
      Kolla in mig på:

      (Pre) Thanksgiving adventures in Nashville
      It was the day before Thanksgiving. I was just starting to feel better after being sick for almost two weeks. At 6:30pm I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. A producer named John wrote that they were working on a hiphop version of ”Blue Christmas” (famous version by Elvis Presley released in 1957) that Billy Ray Cyrus and Young Buck were gonna sing together.
      Billy Ray Cyrus is Miley’s dad, had the huge 90’s hit ”Achy Breaky Heart” that sold 9 million copies just in the US. He also just had another huge hit with another rapper, Lil Nas X, their song ”Old Town Road” has more than 814 000 000 streams on Spotify and over 400 000 000 views on YouTube right now. Young Buck was in the rap group G-Unit with 50 Cent about 15 years ago. I figured if they wanted me to lay down some hiphop Christmas guitar, WHY NOT?

      Young Buck to the right and 50 Cent to the left
      John said they had an amp in the studio so I just brought a couple of guitars and my pedalboard and jumped into an Uber to head out to Mount Juliet, about 25 minutes east of Nashville. After arriving at a big barn I walked into the mixing room, met the John and Young Buck and about 10 more guys sitting in there, the smoke cloud was more intense than anything I’ve ever experienced in the past. They weren’t smoking regular cigarettes...
      They were all excited, but in a mellow way, to have me there and asked me to set up my stuff in the tracking room. Billy Ray had called them earlier and showed over the phone what style he was looking for. The guitar part was kind of a slow, bluesy Chuck Berry-inspired thing. ”I love Chuck, I can totally do that. But how will this fit over a hip hop beat?” were my immediate thoughts.

      I went into the tracking room, saw they had a Behringer amp in there. Thought I’d never get a decent sound haha, but after just a little tweaking it sounded quite alright. I recorded a few takes with a little variation on the main riff and then asked the guys if they wanted some complimentary guitar parts.
      Young Buck called Billy Ray who loved my playing and asked to hear me play the main riff over the phone again, he seemed VERY excited and say I was ”channeling Chuck”. Then I suggested to add a part from Elvis’ version, originally it happens in the backing vocals arrangement but my idea was to play it with a distorted guitar sound instead. Billy Ray thought it was a great plan since, according to him, this is a song as recognizable for it’s backing vocal arrangement as for the lead vocals. I went into the tracking room and laid down a few versions of this vocal line on my guitar as well.

      The control room in Bradley’s Barn Studio where I did the recording
      When I was done with the recording John, the producer, told me a little bit of the history of the studio. It was built by his grandfather, a man named Owen Bradley. He was a musician and producer known for his huge impact on the country music sound that was developed in Nashville during the 50’s and 60’s. He and Chet Atkins are considered the two of the main architects behind this, also called ”the Nashville sound”. It was more polished and well produced compared to the older, rawer and more folksy country music.
      Owen Bradley also ran a recording studio in central Nashville, originally called ”Bradley’s Film & Recording Studios” and later renamed ”Columbia Studio B”. This was a very successful studio and inspired a lot of others to start their businesses in the same area. This is what’s now called ”Music Row”, a couple of streets considered to be the heart of the Nashville’s entertainment industry. In this area, one will find the offices of numerous record labels, publishing houses, music licensing firms, recording studios, video production houses, along with other businesses who serve the music industry, as well as radio networks, and radio stations.

      Young Buck and Billy Ray Cyrus together in the upcoming music video
      This evening turned out to be way more interesting than I had thought. I spoke to, and played guitar to, Billy Ray Cyrus over the phone. I met and hung out a bit with Young Buck, 50 Cent’s old band mate. I realized you can get a decent sound from a Behringer amp. I learned some stuff about the Nashville music industry’s history. A quite unique, and very memorable, evening here in Nashville.
      Over and out,
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      Check out my blog on studio.se here!
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    • By Andreas Hedberg
      David Henriksson ger en sammanfattning av Nashville och hans resor så här långt.
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