The first few weeks at Clouded go great. Jonathan teaches me how to use Quickbooks to enter and pay bills, and create invoices. Learning how to determine which of the nine companies each bill or invoice should be attached to is the hardest part of the job. Jonathan doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on it either, I get the feeling that if he doesn’t know for sure, he guesses.
Laura’s official title is Office Manager, but she is really Seth’s personal assistant. She was the first employee he hired when Sylvie started to taste huge success and has been working with him for nearly ten years. She’s short, shorter than me even, so she can’t be more than about five feet tall. She’s got flawless skin and beautiful long, thick black hair that hangs down to the middle of her back, for which she credits her Korean heritage. I’ve been jealous of her hair since the first time I met her when I interviewed for my internship. She comes in with it wet most mornings. It dries stick straight, shiny and beautiful looking, regardless of how humid it is outside. She tells me my first day that whoever is the first one in each morning has to start the coffee. Most of the time, that will be me.
“I don’t drink coffee,” I tell her. I’ve tried, but never developed a taste for it. I often think that if I did drink coffee I’d have an easier time keeping up with my schedule.
“It doesn’t matter whether you drink it or not. The person who turns off the alarm starts the coffee.” The look on her face tells me that this isn’t open for discussion, so I pay close attention as she shows me how Seth likes it made.
Jonathan is twenty two, just six months older than me. He and Seth never talk about how they met, or how Jonathan came to work at Clouded, but Laura once hinted that Seth offered the job as a favor to Jonathan’s father. She never said why. Jonathan’s baby face, short brown hair that sticks up in the back no matter how many times he tries to smooth it down with his hand, and the button down shirts tucked into chinos that he wears everyday make him look like a little boy dressed up for church. He married his high school sweet heart two weeks after they graduated and has a three-year-old son who looks exactly like him. Jonathan was hired as the in-house accountant for all of the Clouded companies but he had started doing some of the day-to-day artist management almost immediately.
Eventually he took over management of TheBrass, a band from California that makes marching band music sound cool. There are thirteen guys between the ages of 18 and 27. They have a full brass section that compliments the typical drums/bass/guitar/piano lineup of most rock bands. The key to their success is their drum line. In the middle of their concerts the music stops, they each strap on a drum, and perform some of the most amazing sequences I have ever heard. TheBrass has been one of my favorite bands for the last three years. As an intern I had hoped I would get to meet at least one of the members, but they are stationed in California and rarely visit Nashville.
He also helps out with the last three singer-songwriters leftover from the Sylvie days. Working with young songwriters was her forte, and Seth let most of them go when he re-incorportated and began to focus on bands like Revolver and TheBrass. Those left: Peter Jones, Ashley Johnson, and a rapper called, Blue Jay, have all had success as songwriters, but none are content. They want to be performers themselves. Seth keeps them on because they have potential and they don’t require a huge amount of attention. Josh and Jonathan each pitch in whenever there is work to be done that can’t be delegated to an intern.
I don’t see Seth very much. He spends most of his days in meetings with record labels and booking agents. Usually he’s in the office only an hour or so, barking orders at Laura and periodically asking other employees for updates. He spends most of his in-office time with Jonathan. I assume they’re talking about Shreds.
I end up sitting at the reception desk. Nicole, who had been the receptionist, had been let go right after Christmas, but no on will say why. When I try to ask about it, I get vague answers and the subject is quickly changed.