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 26: Starving Artist vs Thriving Artist (#blogmas)

Blogmas was so much fun, I, like many of you, have decided to extend it for a little bit longer. And as I grapple with plans for 2020 (as many of you), I’ve been doing a lot of mad reading.

My current read is Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins, and I’ve made some interesting discoveries as he makes many points about the “starving artist” vs the “thriving artist.”

Like maybe I don’t have to choose and shouldn’t choose between going all in with music or writing. I should be pursuing both. I can’t seem to help myself anyway, so I may as well give myself permission. The real challenge, I think, is getting up-to-speed on the music so that I can juggle both.

Here are a couple of insightful quotes I found:

Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill.

Starving Artists believe that to make a living you must make money off your art. But Thriving Artists don’t just live off their art. Like good investors, they keep diverse portfolios, relying on multiple income streams to make a living. Rarely do they go all in on any single area of work. The challenge, then, is knowing what investments to make and when.

Good advice, I think. The thing is, I can’t really stand over either one and demand it pay off. I do the work, put it out there, and then the return on my investment comes as a surprise when I least expect it. My job as an artist is to suit up and show up.

 

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.

 

Blogmas, Day 21: 2020 Hopes and Dreams (#blogmas)

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would write about my hopes and dreams for 2020 and what’s changing and what’s not. But all I can think about now is that my dream for 2020 is about a house. And getting through this in-between place.

The place in-between is almost always a tough place to be. Long nights, fitful sleep, trying not to dream too much about the future. Writing middle-of-the-night poetry.

Just when I think I cannot endure yet another countdown, another new build (oh, woe is me, right?), okay, maybe in my defense I will say that we just went through this two years ago. Two years ago we’d just moved into our new house in Florida. Yep, after selling our house in Vegas, we moved clear across the country, squeezing our stuff and our little family of four (two are cats) into a small apartment in Florida.

For seven months there we were, bedroom dresser in the kitchen (bedroom was too small), boxes packed in storage, hauling our groceries to the third floor dodging lightning and thunder. And then halfway through the build, watching, watching, watching, evacuating to Nashville (Hurricane Irma), watching, watching, watching. It seemed like the process took forever. And now here we are back in Las Vegas waiting for a another new house to begin again. Yes, woe is me. What a problem to have, right? But we all have our daily struggles.

The real problem is what you have to live in during that in-between place. This place is rather funky. That’s one way to put it. The one saving grace was the casita I was using for my studio. Not just my own space inside the house where I could set up my own writing and music studio, but it was outside the house in a separate building. I loved that space. My space. But now it’s got problems making it practically unusable. We’ve put in a work request. But will they fix it? And when? Ah, yes, that is the question.

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember leaving our first brand new home when I was six and moving to a new city near the beach in Southern California. We were living in a small apartment waiting for another new house to be built. I celebrated my seventh birthday in that apartment, that apartment where I got my first electric organ. I had that thing for years. I don’t remember now what happened to it.

Anyway, as a kid, I didn’t notice how hard it was to live in a temporary place while waiting for the new house to build. As a kid, I remember the excitement of touring the new house in framing and choosing my bedroom. As I kid, I remember the apartment swimming pool where I learned to swim (where I cracked my chin on the side of the pool and had to get stitches.) But I also remember my mother struggling with the in-between situation, especially when the landlord complained about my brother and me being too nosy or throwing paper out the slider or something that kids do, right? Ha!

I remember other people’s new builds. Like when my step dad’s sisters were building new houses on their ranch properties in the Central Valley. Talk about scary places to live. They seemed like rundown shacks to me. I didn’t even want to visit them there. But I also remember the brand new beautiful homes they built and the fun times we had visiting them over the years throughout their lives. I even wrote a song about one of them, and called it “Road 24.”

I see looking back that even the in-between times are good. The Florida apartment I thought I’d never endure? Well now I look back and hold onto those memories because Skipper was still with us back then. He celebrated his 18th birthday in the new house and loved it so but now he’s gone and so my memories of him blessed that Florida apartment. In that Florida apartment he was still with us.

I wonder now why we moved to Florida if we were just going to move back to Vegas. If we hadn’t left, we’d still be living in our comfortable house and not going through all of this. But we’d have also missed out on that amazing two-year Florida adventure. And I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that.

So I try to be patient, enjoy the moments and the memories we’re making in this “in-between” place, and look expectantly toward the future, the new house in 2020, setting up my new studio where I will be, hopefully, making music, making memories, and writing stories. I can’t really choose between writing and music after all.