How Silicon Valley Prepared Me for Book and Music Production

Reading It’s All About Him, written by Alan Jackson’s wife, Denise, I’m thinking how when I heard “Here in the Real World,” back in 1992, working in book production at a Silicon Valley high-tech firm, I thought he’d really made it. But when the song came out in 1990, he was far from making it at all. Living in a tiny basement apartment in Nashville with a pregnant wife, “Here in the Real World” was the second song his label had released and it was unclear whether they would keep him or drop him.

I started thinking about how successful I felt in Silicon Valley when I moved into technical writing, earning writing and publishing awards from the “Society of Technical Publications.” I sometimes say I got my PhD in that world, and, for the most part, it was a really awesome fit for me: the companies I worked for, the people I worked with (eventually marrying one of my co-workers), and the opportunities it brought me.

I would later grow wearing of that stressful, high-pressure day-to-day life, Las Vegas became my relaxing getaway, wondering what it would be like to be a cocktail waitress – lol! Eventually, my heart would start leading me to more creative pursuits.

I began writing fiction, starting with short stories as part of the well-known  “The Writer’s Loft” program in Chicago. I moved into fiction and by the time I wrote my third novel, Real Women Wear Red, at the height of the Chick Lit boom, I got an agent, and was offered a publishing contract.

Long story short, when the Indie author movement started going strong, I was able to use my book production skills to publish as an Indie author. I’ve done better as an Indie than I did when I was with publishers, certainly, the smaller publishers.

But then that market became oversaturated and I kept dreaming of my first love, music. In my youth, I didn’t pursue music as an artist because I knew you had to be spectacular to make it and while I’d sung a bit here and there, I wasn’t spectacular by a long shot. And I didn’t know of any other music path, at least not one I was interested in.

Fast forward to today with the ability to produce your own music in your own studio. Now I see that those same book production skills (with a propensity toward software) I learned in Silicon Valley help me now with continuing to learn new music production skills.

Push2 is the latest instrument I’m learning and with that and my Novation Launchkey keyboard, I’m hoping to advance more in more in creating my own melodies, instead of relying on loops and samples. Recently, a collab partner from FAWM told me he wants to release one of our songs commercially, but the melody was not copyright free so we could not use it. Between his piano skills and my production skills, I think we’ve come up with something we can use instead.

I have no idea where music will take me, even if it’s just the thrill of making it for myself, but I’m excited when I think about how far I’ve come from Silicon Valley production editor to producing my own music.

 

“Everybody Lies House Remix” (#House #Disco #EDM) on Spotify and Bandcamp

I’ve been thinking for some time about remixing my song “Everybody Lies” as a dance track replacing the previous version on Spotify. I’ve also been thinking about Bandcamp for some time, especially when I noticed a Bandcamp plugin for my WordPress site.

I finally get around to doing both, but, alas, the plugin is no longer available on WordPress. Figures – lol! Anyway, it was still enough motivation to upload my first song of the “Best of FAWM” album on Bandcamp (song also listed in sidebar).

Btw, this is my “Everybody Lies” – apparently, there is at least one other song with that title – lol!

 

 

Screamie Birds St. Paddy House Party

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In honor of the occasion, I put together a playlist of some of my favorite tracks I’ve created during 50/90 and FAWM. This time I used Ableton Live 11 to produce the track and, let me tell you, it was far more producer friendly than Logic Pro, although I do kinda like creating in Logic.

Hope you enjoy!

Missing Cruise Ship Night Life? #dance #music #cruise

Missing cruise ship night life? Okay, so maybe you’re missing night life of any kind. But cruise ship nightlife is pretty much all the night life I do. Or did. So I created a dance track using a few of the new tracks I created during FAWM, and upload it to YouTube. It was so much fun making – both the DJ track and the YouTube video. Hope you enjoy!

You can find it on YouTube by searching for Screamie Birds Studios or by clicking the link below:

To cruise virtually, check out my two novels set on cruise ships:

Real Women Wear Red and Real Women Sing the Blues.

Thanks for listening to my first podcast from my WordPress blog at kathyholmes.net.

 

FAWM 21 House Playlist on MixCloud

After a bit of nudging by my fellow FAWMERS, I put together a DJ track of my favorite House songs I created/produced for FAWM 21 and uploaded it to MixCloud. I definitely think I may be moving toward the DJ path. I’m looking forward to creating more playlists of remixes and original tracks. It’s just so darn much fun!

FAWM 2021 is in the House

So I finished FAWM 2021 (14 songs in 28 days) – not only finished it but finished early! I’m stunned. This may be a first. What was my secret? Music – creating music is my lifeline, giving me focus during these difficult times.

I know a lot of people are depressed now – many of us struggle with depression during ordinary times and these extraordinary times have added to our struggle. Our normal coping mechanisms have been unavailable to us.

For me, it’s mostly situational and, normally, I would take trips, change up my routine or make plans to change things. But that has been pretty impossible with the world shut down. Even my quick trips to California were not possible during the holidays when hotels were not taking reservations for “non essential” travel.

So I’ve focused on the good things that have come my way during this time, appreciate this special time my husband and I have had together with both of us working at home, ordering food delivery from favorite restaurants more than we would have before. Maybe stocking the bar more than usual – lol! Heck, I’m even starting to enjoy the masks and having more personal space in public.

True, I still have trouble sleeping and I find myself doing it in shifts. With way too much time with anxious thoughts or just lying awake with no thoughts interesting enough to engage me – I think that’s the worst part. Just lying there awake!

Thankfully, FAWM gave me a lot of focus and an opportunity to try new music skills, experimenting with new sounds and arrangements. Still, I finished early, but that’s okay because Ableton 11 drops Tuesday. I’m ready to go!

2021 FAWM: Variations on the House

FAWM 2021: Day 11, Song #7

Okay, so I’m definitely ahead of schedule for FAWM (February Album Writing Month) – 14 songs in 28 days. Actually, I’m halfway there! Yes!! And Ableton announced Ableton 11 is dropping on the 23rd so I’d like to finish FAWM before then so I can start playing around.

Anyway, track #7 is my version of a Rock EDM, although I have to say I prefer EDM remixes of classic rock songs and must try my own. Search on Spotify for “Classic EDM” if you’re interested. If you’re looking for my latest FAWM playlist, check out this SoundCloud link:

 

Music Playing on an Endless Loop in my Head

Musicians, tell me, when you’re working on a song, does it play on an endless loop in your head? If so, how do you cope? I asked my Bass playing uncle about that one time and he said there’s nothing to be done. Yikes! Maybe I should skip this music stuff and return to writing fiction, although sometimes my sentences would play on a loop, too, especially when editing.

But I so love music. And the loop doesn’t even have to be running when I’m working on a song. Just listening to music will do that to me, especially the songs I love most and get stuck in my head.

I’m starting to realize the truth to what my father said when we were getting to know each other that “All my kids play the drums.” That was such an epiphany for me!

At first I was content programming drums in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), but now that I have a new Launchkey, I find myself drumming right before bed. I come upstairs and I can’t resist the colorful “Vegas mode” (yes, it’s really called that) lights, sit down in front of my keyboard and start drumming.

I’m starting to exhaust myself and FAWM hasn’t even started yet (February 1).

 

 

Chasing the Muse at 5 a.m.

It’s 5 a.m. and my head full of song ideas feels like it’s about to burst. The muse is calling quite inconveniently. I’d love to obey and sit in my music studio and start belting out some lyrics while fingering some piano chords. But that would disrupt the household – my husband who is sleeping before getting up to start his work day (at home) and the cats (one cat loves to sing along with me). Even without hubby now working full-time at home during this global situation, it wouldn’t be kind to start blasting music at this hour – lol!

The countdown to FAWM is upon me and I don’t feel prepared. Every song I write to keep my skills limber seems to suck! I have imposter syndrome – lol. I’m starting to feel like Brandi, the leading lady in “She’s Not That Good” (my wip I’m editing and posting bits of here).

I don’t feel comfortable wailing in my studio with my husband sitting in the next room over working. We’re a close couple but I’m used to having the house to myself during the day. Perhaps I should sit and edit my novel instead of music right now. It’s a quieter endeavor I can do any time, night or day, alone or in a crowd. Life was simpler before music. Ha!

This time last year we were building a new home, living in a rental much to be desired but the saving grace was the casita – a separate building I used for my studio. I could blast music any time, night or day. Wow! That was awesome! The best part about that rental house. It was perfect for FAWM.

I woke up with so many musical ideas, but they’re starting to fade. This is really frustrating. But they probably weren’t that good – they just seemed like it at 5 a.m.

At best, I can write this blog post, write notes to myself or work on lyrics, I suppose. But as I read this back, it sounds like one big whining session, and I’m so sorry for that.

But, wait, I’ve started to work on a song using my DAW and headphones and I think I’m onto something. So, yeah, it’s always best to find some way to catch what the muse is throwing your way, no matter the circumstances.

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.