4 Weeks ’til #FAWM2021

Today, the first Monday of the new year marks 4 weeks until the beginning of FAWM. And I think, for me this year, that means creating an album of remixes using some Latina House samples I’ve purchased from Sonic Academy.

Remember that TV show “Semi-Homemade” where Sandra, I think was her name, took some sort of dish already kinda made but then added her own touch to it? Well, that’s the kind of cook I am. In fact, I’m discovering that I’m also really digging the concept when it comes to music. At least for now.

So for the next 4 weeks, I’m going to be preparing for that. Gathering my samples, translating/rewriting lyrics, etc. for song ideas. That means I won’t have time to continue editing SNTG during the week. Instead, I’ll be posting my chapters on this blog over the weekend. Stay tuned for Chapter 1.

In the meantime, here’s a piece of a song that I’m working on remixing. Next step: recording the lyrics in English.

“To Be Absolutely Ridiculous is Better Than Absolutely Boring”

As I work through my list of what I’d like to accomplish in 2021 (music vs writing), thinking I must choose one and that theme (or brand) must be reflected throughout (do I use the author photo or the producer photo, do I use kathyholmes.net or screamiebirds.com?), I’ve decided to do both, be both, and to follow my bliss after reading this quote from Write Naked.

 

Music Production, Writing, Reading… Running Out of Coping Mechanisms

Watching videos of people enjoying the Christmas festivities at Disney World, well, I can’t help but feel a little jealous. With California’s strict reopening guidelines and Disneyland’s reluctance to open up any of the parks (i.e., Knott’s Berry Farm) until now, and the cruising industry’s slow road to recovery, Nevada getting close to lockdown again, well, I’m going a little crazy. I mean, who isn’t, right?

I’ve spent these last 8 months at home working on music, switching back and forth between Ableton Live and Logic Pro, the latter due to the 10.5 updates. And now with news of Ableton Live 11 coming out soon, well, there’s even more for me to dive into. But there’s also a lot of stress with all of that learning and it wears me out. So I’ve taken time to read and even work on a couple of manuscripts I’ve started writing. But nothing, really, after all these months, is really working toward peace of mind. Prayers and positivity help, of course, but when there’s an underlying or maybe not so underlying crisis happening, it’s really hard to escape.

I think many of us felt a bit of relief when Biden won, even if we weren’t big Biden supporters, if only because, in my case, I did not want to sit back and watch the lunatic, aka the Narcissist for another 4 years. His behavior since the election validates everything I know about Narcissists. And once you’ve had an experience up close with one, you don’t need a psychology degree to get it. Maybe you get it even more than somebody who has just studied it. Experience is a great teacher.

So with heavy handed governors issuing mandates (sometimes necessary, but, perhaps, not done in the best way) and a lunatic for a president, it’s like reliving a dysfunctional childhood all over again. The artist’s spiritual life and food and drink and rearranging the furniture a zillion times helps for a while, but I’m running out of coping mechanisms.

Today’s joy, though, was picking up my latest copy of Electronic Musician. Just reading the masthead made me smile, reminding me of my early days in San Francisco working in production on Mac User magazine. So cool to see my name listed as Production Manager. That took me to McGraw-Hill Publishing in Berkeley, but the most fascinating part of that was sharing the building with a music studio and seeing a glimpse of artists like MC Hammer getting out of the limo. The MC Hammer dancers lived in an apartment complex down the street from mine.

And so, when all is said and done and things are back to normal and I can cruise the high seas and relive my childhood at Disneyland, well, in the end, it’s all about the art, the music, and the spiritual journey I am on.

Do You Feel Like I (We) Do?

Had a fabulous start to the Road Rally – really awesome to “hang out” with fellow musicians. The highlight, so far, was the “Production Master Class with Karl Richardson,” the guy who produced so many huge disco acts like the Bee Gees (not to mention Eric Clapton).

But I think as today dawns, we Americans are all feeling the same no matter which candidate we’ve voted/are voting for. And then this song started running through my head, because, for me, life is all about music and no matter what happens, I’ll still have that.

As a producer, I just love how this song comes together. To me, this song is so perfect in so many ways. (Remember when we could groove together like this?)

Do You Feel Like We Do (Peter Framptom)

Taxi A&R Road Rally Prequel Starts Today

As a member of Taxi A&R for 3 years now, I must confess this will be my first Road Rally mostly because it’s being held online this year, like most other conferences. I’d hoped to get to it live in Los Angeles for the past 2 years but the first year we were living in Florida and last year we were building a house in Las Vegas and it just didn’t work out.

What’s different about this year, other than being held online is that there are 3 days of “prequels” anybody can tune into for free – you don’t have to be a member.

If you’re interested, just go to the Taxi A&R YouTube channel here. Let me know what you think.

“Keep It Movin'” (#50/90 Challenge for #MusicMonday Kickoff)

My plan was to wait for October to do a blocktober/vlogtober deal, but I couldn’t wait. So last week I posted a video/blog post for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” for #Writer #WineWednesday and today I’m kicking off my first #MusicMonday with a video highlighting my 50/90 kickoff song, “Keep it Movin.”

I started off 50/90 with that song because the song prompt was about introducing yourself and I think “Keep it Movin” is a great introduction to me because (a) I love a dance club beat and (b) We need to keep moving forward no matter what life throws at you.

Of course it’s accompanied by some biker video from Mount Charleston (one hour from the #LasVegas Strip) and I couldn’t help but mention my two novels that feature a Las Vegas setting, “French Martini” and “Lucky’s Last Chance.”

It’s a lot to take in, but I’m hoping you will find something there that you like.

Have a good Monday!
Keep it Movin’

 

My 75K YouTube Experiment: Lucky’s Last Chance Collab with Screamie Birds

Ever since CruiseTipsTV mentioned they were doing “Vlogtoberfest” again this October, I started thinking about whether I should do it, too, to promote my music. I have never done a “vlogtoberfest” – only a “blogtoberfest.” But during this pandemic, my original travel channel started getting noticed and one video in particular – Oasis of the Seas now has over 75K views! That’s humongous for me!

The photo below shows the views, as of today, for video created in March (beginning of Pandemic):

So, I created a video featuring the rerelease of Lucky’s Last Chance (previously known as The Tom Jones Club) with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” a Screamie Birds EDM song created during 50/90. And I uploaded it to my original travel channel now revamped as Screamie Birds, as well as my Kathy Holmes youtube channel, which had absolutely no videos whatsoever.

I’m curious to see how the song will perform – one on a more established site (albeit, pretty small) with varied content or a brand new site with targeted content. Or will it matter at all? (PS – It performed better on the already established channel so I deleted the “new” one.

Link to Lucky’s Last Chance/I Wanna Dance with Somebody Collab:

Screamie Birds

 

Screamie Birds Music on Internet Radio (#50/90)

One of the members of our 50/90 community hosts an internet radio show podcast on Spanish Rock Shot Radio. And he’s including some music from some of our 50/90 creations, including Space Disco Party, a Screamie Birds track.

You can play it here. Note: Screamie Birds is track #22:

First 3 Songs for #50/90 (#House #Music #Production)

My approach for 50/90 this year isn’t to see how many songs I can bang out in 90 days. Instead, I’m trying to see how many different styles of “House” music I can “master” and, therefore, focus on the genre and the quality of my productions in Ableton Live and Logic Pro X.

So far, here are the 3 songs I’ve written/produced/posted on 50/90 via SoundCloud:

Keep It Movin’ (Classic House)

Space Disco Party (Space Disco)

Catch the Moment (Deep House)

 

 

New Beginnings (#50/90 #poem #lyrics)

Yes, it’s the 4th of July, Independence Day for the U.S. but also the first day of 50/90 (the write 50 songs in 90 days challenge). And so a poem came to mind during the night, raw, for sure, but, inspired by “The Making of Frozen II” on Disney Plus, I post it as part of the process of 50/90.

New Beginnings

Surrender the old
Trust in the beginning
Embracing the new
In spite of the blues
These words to the wise
My fears not disguised

This time feels different
Body older and fragile
Relying on me no longer
My spirit is stronger
The old self-reliance
Becomes a castle of silence

My heart beats a longing
For what I know not
Showing up and suited
Desire deeply rooted
Stories and sounds on keyboards I write
What the muse whispers to me in the night

Gearing up for 50/90

Fifty-ninety begins July 4th and lasts through September 30. The challenge is to create 50 songs in 90 days. I think it will be an awesome way to focus.

Yesterday, I posted on my travel blog some thoughts about my childhood and how when we visited my step dad’s family in California’s Central Valley, I would leave the women behind in the living room talking about babies to sit with the men on the front porch talking trash about drinking, the neighbors, and other stuff I can’t remember while making home-made ice cream.

Anyway, that got me to thinking about how hanging out with musicians in places like FAWM and 50/90 and Sonic Academy is like hanging out with the guys on the front porch. While there are women there, the majority are men. And that’s more than okay.

I also notice that when I’m involved in podcasts and live videos in these communities, we focus on the music. Nothing else exists other than a passing comment about having more time to create music. There’s no politics. And it’s so refreshing.

So I’m thinking that maybe if I focus on the next 90 days, that when it’s over, all of this might be over. Or in a better place than where we are now. And if not, October brings Rocktober and November brings National Solo Album Month (NaSoAlMo), the music version of NaNoWriMo (instead of writing a novel in a month, you write an album). Maybe *then* it will be over. If not, then there’s Christmas and New Year’s and then maybe it will be over or mostly over in 2021.

 

Discovering Sound Design

(This may be repetitive for those who have read this blog for some time, but in a nutshell, this is the background to my music journey.)

I’ve always loved singing – even from a young age. My mother tells the story of me, smudge on cheek, sitting on the front porch singing with my step dad while he played guitar – me having no idea what the lyrics were to the song. Later, I performed in the school choir and sang as a soloist. I played an electric organ I got for my 7th birthday. Later, I moved on to piano and when groups like the Beatles were all the rage, I even played a few chords on the guitar.

I was stumped by three things.

Being told:

  • You have a great ear for music
  • Your writing is poetic, almost lyrical in rhythm

The first one was said by my school music teacher and later, my vocal coach in Las Vegas (he appeared in Mamma Mia), and the second was my literary agent when she signed me for Real Women Wear Red.

Thinking:

  • My favorite words in 1st Grade were “said” and “David”
  • My favorite songs had stripper-like drums

Later, when I met my father, he said “All my kids play the drums” and then it all fell into place. That explained some of my favorite songs, and, of course, the “d” in those words sounded like a drum – lol!

I also discovered my grandmother wrote poetry. Ah… I started putting it all together, pursuing songwriting and got a new music keyboard. But something wasn’t quite coming together. Then, as I started studying music production, first GarageBand, then LogicPro, and now Ableton Live, I realized how much I loved “sound” – it’s something more than just music.

I recently purchased Kick2 and Ana2 from Sonic Academy, learning deeper levels of sound design. And I absolutely love it! This is so bringing me out of the doldrums this weird time in our world has brought to us.

This also brings up questions, such as:

  • Should I do 50/90 this year?
  • Will I renew my TAXI A&R membership?

Neither seem all that focused on the kind of music and/or sounds I’m creating. Perhaps it’s time to reassess my goals.

Juggling the Arts During #Covid-19 #AtHome

Before Covid-19, I pretty much spent most of my time in my home studio/office, so staying at home isn’t that new to me. But I felt like I had to make a choice between pursuing music and writing fiction. They seemed to use different parts of my brain, and I felt like I couldn’t juggle them all that well. That I *must* choose one in order to be successful.

Now I’ve realized during this time that it’s too difficult to focus on just one. My brain is more scattered right now. So how do I turn this into something good? Well, I’m not only pursuing both writing (brain) and music (ears), but also creating videos (visual), embracing three of my senses, instead of just one. Besides, how do I know which one might take off more than the other? Diversification seems wise to me now.

So, how do I determine which one to work on when? I suit up and show up. I let the muse decide.

What projects am I working on in particular?

  • Editing my manuscript in progress
  • Gaining skills in music production through classes
  • Producing my FAWM album and writing music for TAXI listings
  • Creating videos from a variety of trips to Disneyland, Disney World, and Cruises

The latter idea was spurned on when I noticed our 22-second video of Oasis of the Seas started getting crazy views (at least for us with a brand new channel).

At last count, it’s over 15K. You can check it out here. While you’re there, please subscribe. 🙂

Also, check out our Travel Adventures blog, including our adventures in moving/house building.

Anyway, just uploading that one video started me thinking about creating/uploading more videos and I’ve discovered I really enjoy it because I’m also a visual artist, not just audio and cerebral.

What have you discovered about yourself and what you enjoy that took you by surprise?

 

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon, the Book, the Poem, the Tour, and Now the Song (#FAWM)

You may recall that I’d just finished a publicity tour for my psychological suspense novel, Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon at the end of 2019 before starting FAWM on February 1st. Well, during the tour, I’d written a poem about the book here.

So, naturally, I turned that into a song for FAWM 2020. Check it out. I hope you like it – the song, poem, the tour, and the book. 🙂

#1 EDM Artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation

Wow! The thing I thought would never happen happened! Screamie Birds is now the #1 EDM artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation.

I’ve bounced around between #2 and #10, but mostly keeping steady at #2. Last week I went from #2 to #3. But now, for the first time I’m the #1 EDM artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation. I thought it would never happen! So stoked! Time to create some music!

Blogmas, Day 30: End-of-Year Ableton Live Progress (#blogmas)

Many of you blogging this blogmas have mentioned the books you’ve enjoyed reading over the holidays. And in the past, that might have been me, too, especially if you mean fiction. But this year I’ve been cramming learning Ableton Live, taking tutorials and reading non fiction books. Gearing up for FAWM (“February Album Writing Month”), I guess

Logic Pro X is my DAW of choice but as an EDM producer, I wanted to learn Ableton Live. It seems so suited to the music genre. But it’s been quite a struggle in some ways, in others it’s been a breeze. I think that’s because each DAW specializes in different areas. I can sit down and start creating a song right away in Logic Pro, in Ableton, it seems the simplest things are the most difficult. But when it comes to mastering more of the advanced features in music production, Ableton seems to do it much more easily.

And while I’ve been madly applying myself to music tutorials for Ableton, I stumbled upon some really cool ones for Logic Pro, too, and have learned some interesting things I’m quite excited about. What to do, what to do? Ableton Live or Logic Pro? Well, I suppose I really don’t have to choose because I imagine it’s good for a producer to know more than one DAW. The real choice is which one do I use in the moment? lol!

There are a lot of tutorials out there, but it can be challenging following along. Sometimes they use third party plug-ins that you don’t have or their techniques zip past you so fast, you can’t possibly keep up. I’ve probably tried dozens just on one site. Anyway, here’s a sample song I managed to figure out in Ableton Live (via Groove3) from programming drums and synths to mixing and adding special effects such as EQ, reverb, and automation.

Blogmas, Day 24: War of Art (#blogmas)

War of Art by Steven Pressfield was one of the books circling the Writing Community back when I first started writing. For some reason, I recently dug it out (on Kindle) and reread it. And then I downloaded the follow-up book Do the Work. I highly recommend it if you have any desire at all about pursuing art as a profession instead of a hobby or anything in-between.

I’ve been juggling writing and music, unsure about how to pursue which one. Is one my profession and the other hobby or both professions or both hobbies? What do I really want to accomplish with either?

One reason I did the December book tour for Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon and #Blogmas featuring all of my books, was to see if I could get my writing career back moving in the forward direction it had been moving before social media and the new algorithm, before the saturation of other books and writers, before fantasy and vampires and erotica took over the world (or whatever it was that halted that forward momentum), to see how serious readers and the Universe are about me as a writer. But, perhaps, the real reason for the turn was to turn me toward my real calling, which just might be music.

I’ve tried to pursue both, but I really think you need to choose one or the other if you’re going to pursue any as a profession. Besides the tours, as a good-bye salute, I’ve also made sure all of my books are available in paperback as well as Kindle. Some had only been available in digital form. I guess I’m wrapping things up to prepare the way to move on.

Of course, if the world clamors for my books on Amazon, breathing new life into my writing career, okay, then I’ll get that message to keep providing new books. Otherwise, I’m going to assume music is my future calling and 2020 is the time to go all in.

 

2019: the Year of Many Firsts for Me in Music

It’s that time of year when we start looking back over the year to see how we did in whatever we’d hoped to pursue or accomplish at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve the year before.

So, as I start to look back on 2018, I realize there were many firsts for me musically. And while February may have brought my second FAWM, July through September enticed me to try my first 50/90 (write 50 songs in 90 days challenge). During that time, I even took on the challenge of trying out Ableton Live 10 (Standard Version). I’m now upgrading to Suite with so much more to learn yet.

All of that was so much fun, making friends and sharing music with other musicians, I couldn’t resist participating in my first Rocktober (Rock cover songs done your way) in October. Now I’m counting down to the next FAWM, looking forward to meeting up with some of my new friends, to see what they’re doing musically, and to see how far I hope to come by February.

Listening to some of the songs I wrote/produced this year, one of my favorites is Pop the Clutch:

In the Studio Discovering a New Path and Identity

Woke up to another beautiful sunny day here in Las Vegas and that means waking up early this time of year. The dawn begins to break a little before 5 am and by 6, I can no longer stay in bed. I climb down the stairs from the third floor, stopping off on the second floor to grab a cup of coffee before continuing on to my first floor studio.

I log onto my Mac and continue with a Master Class on Electronic Dance Music, which I absolutely love and have loved since my Disco days. Playing around with sound triggers the knowledge I now have about my father and that side of a musical family – the family I did not know growing up. People did that more back then – when the couple split, that was the end of the father and “hello, step dad” who was now dad (sometimes you didn’t know he wasn’t your dad), and you used his last name.” Good-bye identity.

But that is old news. What strikes me today as I play around with sounds for an Electro Pop song is that knowing I have an “ear for music,” (told to me throughout my school years and later by my Las Vegas vocal coach, who happened to be starring in “Mamma Mia” on stage), was how lonely it was for me to have these gifts but not really understand them, unable to embrace my true identity because I was surrounded by strangers who were family. Strangers because my mother and half-siblings did not have these gifts, although to his credit, my step dad played the guitar. Ironically, he was the most supportive of my music. But my mother and siblings seemed to want to down play my musical gifts. Subtly, of course. 😮

So here I am, decades later, having met and discovered my family and my identity, pursuing my love for music, embracing all that I am. It’s a thrill, a triumph, but with a sense of loss and regret of the choices that others made for me. And why I’m such an advocate for children, whether adopted or conceived through sperm and egg donors or anything that has gotten in the way of children not knowing who they truly are. It’s an outrage!

Over ten years ago (closer to fifteen now), I wrote and published my story in Myths of the Fatherless, but I think it’s needed even more today.

In the Studio: Electro Pop song in progress