Sometimes, I have ideas that are bigger than my wallet and I want to see them come to life.
There are a few lucky artists out there who seem to have endless casks of money. Perhaps this is all smoke and mirrors because so far I have not met a single one of them. Each of us finds money in our own way but I don’t think that money should be the arbiter of who gets to make art. I am turning to crowd-funding now because I have an idea that is bigger than myself, bigger than my bank account, and bigger than I can handle. That is why I am turning to crowd-funding. I want this project to be huge. I want to engage each and every person who invests in this work and make it theirs just as much as mine.
Why would you support me? Why would you support any artist? I know that I support other artists because they expand the world around me. My fellow artists inspire me with their courage and ingenuity. Even when I do not actively enjoy another artist’s work, I am happier to live in a world where at least it is created. How could I not feel compelled to be a part of creation? How could you ever resist the pull of a new idea?
My project is called Metalalia and it is an immersive story telling experience featuring re-imagined fairytales alongside original music and art. It’s aim is to tell stories that do justice to those who may not have been protagonists in the past and use all of the tools we have at our disposal to tell a good tale. I am working with a fantastic author and a team of visual artists to bring these stories to life. Sound good? You can support Metalalia by clicking here. Thank you a million times, thank!
My friend Unwoman (aka Erica) is a cellist and singer of incredible talent with a voluminous catalogue. She tours regularly at steam punk conventions and has had several successful Kickstarters for her albums of original work. Today, she tweeted this:
“Seriously considering getting a “real job” in a few months. I’ll never stop playing, but fulltime musicianhood is losing its charm.”
This sparked a whole long conversation thread which you can find on her Twitter account about why she was looking for a job and what it meant to be a “professional” musician as opposed to a hobbyist. This struck me close to my heart, as I discovered that her ex-husband had told her that being a musician wasn’t a real occupation because she wasn’t making money. I had the same conversation with my mom who, for all her good intentions, told me that my career in music didn’t exist shortly before I went on tour in the UK. This was a blow to my ego and to my sense of who I am because I define myself as first and foremost a musician. You see, my mom is a brilliant linear thinker. She is a retired lawyer who is stellar at connecting the dots from point A to B but not at reinventing the alphabet. She was defining a career as something that makes you money and by that definition, my music career can so far afford me little, while my “day job” as a therapist and a tutor supports me and enables me to make music in the first place. While I understood her point and her concern for her daughter who was about to jet off across the planet, it made me really question what it meant to be a professional musician.
I consider myself a professional musician primarily because I release music regularly. More importantly, I set out my musical goals every few months and I strive to achieve them. Over the last 6 months, my goals were to license a song, release a music video and to tour in the UK. I totally released my video Remember This and went on the BEST TOUR EVER in the UK. I am still working hard on that first goal, checking out music listings and chatting with other artists who have licensed their songs, researching who is working on what project to know where to send my music. I am currently writing music for a friend’s library to practice writing cues as well. I take my goals as seriously as I would tasks set out for me at a “traditional” job and I am meticulous and organized in my approach to them (thanks to the powers of Google docs and my friends for keeping me sane). I honestly have no idea if I am going to accomplish my goal of licensing a song but I do know that I am going to go after it with the power of a thousand fiery suns and you best bet I am outlining my goals for the upcoming months as well.
It frustrates me to no end when people think that being a musician entails sitting around navel gazing and sometimes picking up an instrument. Worse yet, that you have to be some sort of a starving artist or martyr to your art to have it be worthwhile. I don’t want to have to make my music out of desperation and that’s why I don’t think there is a conflict between being a professional musician and a professional whatever else you do as a day job. If your job affords you the time, energy, and mental wherewithal to make music, then why is it considered shameful?
Why would it make me, or Unwoman, seen as less of a musician to say we have a day job? Does it simply ruin the fantasy of it all to know that when we aren’t playing songs we might just be…doing something else? It reminds me of the first time you run into your teacher outside of school and realize OH SHIT SHE DOES NOT LIVE IN MY CLASSROOM? *mind blow*
If our occupations are not necessarily defined by monetary gain, how do we define them? Does it have to do with self perception or that of others? Why are we so intent on picking only one definition for ourselves anyway and why is it so bruising when someone misjudges? Why do people not consider being a musician a real job in the first place? I frankly work harder at music than in any other area of my life. I am incredibly fortunate to have the privilege to engage in music as much as I do and to work the day jobs that I do. That said though, why do I have to define myself by only one of those aspect of my life and why would you?
Happy birthday to me! I am so excited to share my brand new space witch songs with you. These are the tunes that came about when this little piano player started bonding with her laptop. They are the signs of many things to come. Please listen, download (for free off Bandcamp!), and share the space witch love.
When I was but a wee little space witch, I went to a summer program at Oxford to study psychology and music. It was my first taste of freedom and I relished every delicious moment. I fell in love with a boy named Justinian who was the closest approximation of Holden Caulfield crossed with a nerdy history buff. I felt more myself than I had ever felt in my young life while strolling through Christchurch Meadows and writing papers at Pembroke.
14 years later, I got to stroll through Christchurch Meadows again, this time with the freezing wind in my hair and Alex by my side. I felt like I somehow closed a temporal circle that had opened long ago, when I was just starting to share my music with other people and come out of my shell a bit. I played my very first show in Oxford, performing two songs at the talent show there. I still remember Justinian holding my hand before I played to quell my nerves, hugging me afterwards as I was shaking with the adrenaline of the extraordinary fear I felt playing songs so personal for an audience. I am still grateful for those gestures and it’s still scary to play my songs but it is worth it, ever so worth it.
I was really excited to be invited to sing and play at Ornithocracy, my very first LARP event. For those who think that LARP-ing is just throwing imaginary lightning bolts at one another in a forest, you are only like, 90% wrong. The mythological story lines that lay behind the characters and plot of Ornithocracy were fascinating and the attention to costuming and mannerisms was delightfully intriguing as well. I had the super easy job of playing a dreamer who had fallen asleep on the job as a lounge singer. As such, I got to pretend I was talking to entities in my own dream and sing songs with them. At the beginning of the game, someone handed me a ukulele apropos of nothing, and I strummed and sang and chatted and admired those around me. One character told me he appreciated the sorrow in my voice as he was a torturer and another told me that the beauty in my songs springs from my appreciation for darkness. The whole experience was incredibly dreamlike and left a lasting mark on the role that sadness and the unconscious play into my song writing.
Completely not LARP related, but I want to make sure to give a shout out to Alex’ best friend Webster who made us a fantastic traditional English breakfast and served it to us in bed. Seriously. Amazing.
It’s really cold in Scotland. As a Los Angeleno, weather is a thing I often read about but rarely experience. I had packed warm clothing for the trip but short of wearing a terrifying ski mask, there is nothing that I can do to keep my face warm in the winter and thus I end up as a sniffling poorly acclimatized mess with a numb nose. This did not deter me from being so excited that whenever I could feel my face I would smile and say something incredibly erudite, like OH MY GOD, I AM IN EDINBURGH.
I played at a night called the Antihoot in Henry’s Cellar Bar, a cozy open mic style evening tucked away in a cute basement pub. To say the talent varied would be an understatement. There was a man drunkenly reading his college poetry from 2007, slurring each word as he gazed cross eyed into the audience. He later tried to flirt with me by telling me my eyes were like diamonds, or at least that’s what I thought he said, because I could understand maybe every 6th word out of his mouth. On the other side of the spectrum, there was this unassuming older woman who busted out some of the best slide guitar I have ever heard and sang some seriously gritty gorgeous blues.
That night, Alex and I crashed in a friend’s flat, as he had a nice spare music room. It was so cold that we took all the cushions off the couches and put them on the floor next to the radiator, where we curled up for an impromptu slumber party with out laptops and jackets and fuzzy blankets and the best candy car I have ever eaten…Jaffa orange fondant with dark chocolate over it. WHAT.
We survived the night and lived to tell the tale. I might still have traces of the sugar left in my bloodstream from that candy bar. It was intense.
Stay tuned for the final UK tour blog, complete with new details on the fairytale project, shout outs from Neil Gaiman and the triumphant return of the carbs.
Why did no one tell me that touring is the most fun, exhausting, ridiculous, delightful thing to do in the whole world? Oh wait, they did. Pretty much every tour recap I have ever read says that. If you already know this to be true, carry on browsing. If you want to read about the fantastic people I met in the UK and about all the carbs I ate, continue reading the first installment of my UK adventures.
Alex met me at the airport and immediately got me a coffee. For those who don’t know, we are working on a top secret fairy tale project together. More on THAT later. After I was properly caffeinated, we went adventuring in London, which was gorgeous and all lit up for Christmas. We went to a vegetarian restaurant where I couldn’t for the life of me understand the waiter and I then managed to lock myself in the bathroom of a Pret a Manger thereby missed seeing Tom Hiddleston. I consoled myself with some sort of carbohydrate, most likely a croissant. This was the start of a beautiful tour trend. Event occurs. Eat a carb. Repeat. Alex took me to his favorite vintage clothing shop where I picked up a great dress to wear for shows and then we set up camp with Becca, our wonderful and gracious London hostess.
I played at the Bedford Theatre the next evening. It sort of looks like a venue would look if one put the Hotel Cafe and The Globe Theatre into the same place, which means it was lovely and cozy.
I was the first one on and felt the same stage fright I had when I first started performing out, the feeling that I was going to somehow simultaneously vomit in my shoes and die on stage. Though my voice may have quavered on the first few notes, I did not die, nor did I vomit. In fact, the audience was quite attentive and many signed up on my mailing list after and bought my music. This was the start of the whole “audiences are awesome on tour” phenomenon. All of this made me so happy I ate some chips and took this photo in the green room.
We took the train down to Brighton and this is how I learned that trains apparently make me narcoleptic. As an insomniac, this is somehow relieving to know that at least something puts me reliably to sleep. It is also relieving that Alex did not in fact take a photograph of me falling asleep on the train while typing on my iPad.
Upon arriving, we wandered through the Lanes and met up with friends from Manchester. We also ate the most decadent meal I think I have ever consumed. It was so rich that even after a walk to the coast, I actually fell asleep in a chair (not a train!) once we arrived at the venue that evening. Alex did not photograph this magical moment either.
That night, I played my favorite gig of the tour at The Brunswick Pub. The event was called Indie Noir and I shared the bill with some of the best musicians.
After the show, we went back for drinks at Taylor from Emberhoney’s house. The only thing better than playing with these talented artists was getting to chat with them late into the night, in an awesome home studio nonetheless. Alex and I went back to Mishkin of BirdEatsBaby’s home where we were treated to a super comfy couch bed and a pair of mischievous pugs who insisted on pouncing on us all night long. Laura of She Makes War turned up for brunch in the morning and I got to hang out with her and Mishkin. Honestly, my favorite part of tour really was having moments like this, times where I was across the world and at home with my fellow musicians, cozied up in a kitchen commiserating and laughing about our strange lives. I was sad to leave to catch the train to Oxford, but I had a LARP event to play and nostalgia to revisit…