My Soul’s Voice

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, and much has happened since my last entry. I honestly haven’t been too inspired to write as nothing really felt worth writing about in my life since I moved to the Bay Area. I love it here and it feels like home, but personally, my life was just kind of meandering as I tried to figure out what my next chapter in life would look like. I can see that next chapter now, and I am bursting with inspiration and energy. My friend Kirsten once said when she picked up a flute after years of not playing, “my soul has a voice again.”  I love that she said this because I completely understand it. It’s how I feel right now.

Many moons ago, I had a very bad experience with audio engineering in college. It left me with many demons holding me in their grip. I had a “mentor” who had a bit of a sadistic glee in cutting people down. He would give me an “A” or “B” on a paper but mock my writing style on the margins like, “Gee, can you use that word one more time?” He would write after a series of put downs, “see me after class” and when I’d see him, he’d get mad that I approached him and point to the nearest exit without a word to tell me get me the fuck out of his sight. He basically told me I was an idiot who had no business doing engineering. What made everything such a mindfuck is he’d pretend to like you and believe in you one minute and then destroy you the next.  In short, he was a damaged performer and not a teacher – everyone loved him until the curtain came down. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until fairly recently, despite other students telling me as much at the time.

To be fair, I was not the best student. I was certainly not the worst and I did muddle through and get my degree, but I can see why a teacher would have been dismissive of me at that point in my life. I was fighting against severe depression and anxiety, and just getting out of bed was a challenge. I didn’t have the energy to be a Hermione or a cheerleader, and I certainly didn’t have the energy to study or practice daily for hours on end. I want to be clear that my failure is 100% MY failure; it’s not on my asshole instructor. All I can say is he gave a living, breathing voice to the doubts and fears I already had in my head. When that happens, it’s a lot easier to believe that they are true.

So that is the background. From that point until about 8 or so months ago, I absolutely believed I had no aptitude for engineering. Okay – maybe I didn’t absolutely believe it, because 8 months ago I saw that Chabot College offered an Audio Recording class and something stirred within me. I felt a need to right the wrongs of the past and truly test myself. I deserved a real shot at this thing, and bonus! unlike my original experience, you actually got to work in a studio and touch shit. It wasn’t “write on a white board and memorize these frequencies”, it was actual hands-on stuff. I promised myself that I would take everything one day and one challenge at a time. I didn’t dare to dream, I just wanted to try my best and see what happened.

As last semester went on, the voice in my head started morphing. This is basically a sampling of thoughts through the course these past two semesters:

  • “This console is huge and intimidating; if I can learn even half of it, that will be amazing.”
  • “This makes sense.”
  • “This is fun.”
  • “Maybe I don’t suck at this.”
  • “I could do this all day.”
  • “I’m like Kirsten – my soul has a voice again.”
  • “I think I’m actually pretty good at this, but the real test will be next semester.”
  • “I can’t believe how much I’ve learned”
  • “I have so much to learn, but this is amazing.”
  • “I hope I’m in charge of the console on this upcoming session.”
  • “I am in a zone.”
  • “I have to do this for a living.”
  • “I may be the best student in class.”
  • Finally, after this past Friday, “maybe I’m not the best student in class, but I have a lot going for me and I am damn close to being at the top. Time to get to work.”

Of course, I’m not perfect no matter how much I want to be. There have been a few hiccups, and sometimes it takes me a minute to latch on to a concept. But? That’s okay. Why is it okay? BECAUSE THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING AND FUN! I have not been this happy or inspired in a very long time. As you know, I love writing music, but this is even better; where songwriting is mostly subjective, engineering is objective and subjective. It’s both science and magic. One part of you is reaching up to the heavens, the other part of you is reaching into the earth and you become a conduit for something that can be exceptionally beautiful. How amazing is that? I am so grateful I am experiencing this. And I’m pretty good! Holy shit.

This is pure joy. I hope to god after this class I’m able to intern and find work so I can keep doing this and feeding my soul.

I always close out these posts with a “moral of the story” thing, don’t I? This one is pretty obvious: what have you failed at? What eats away at you a little because it feels like unfinished business? It is there waiting for you. It’s a wall that says, “I dare you to try and climb me again. Here’s a rope: you can hang yourself with it or you can use it to pull yourself up, but for god’s sake, do something. I dare you.

Screw the rope; it’s time to blow that wall the hell up.

 

**Note: I have no idea how often I will be posting, so I’ve simplified the format of the blog and I’m probably going to rearrange my posts so my favorites and the most popular ones in the archives are the most accessible.

The Elephant in the Room: Here’s Where I Unleash My Music

Note: I’m putting the music on top so you don’t have to read and be like, “just get on with it already!” But if you want some info and background, please read below the widget. BTW, the widget started to look chopped off in my browser – if you only see one song, scroll and the second one is there too. I have no idea why it’s doing that…Also?
HELP! GAHH! I’m trying to figure out what I want to do in terms of offering these to download. I would like to start out simply offering to sell these as single downloads for a cheap price – just something to help me offset fees, save up for better gear, etc. I feel really presumptuous asking people to pay, but…I should, right? Should I? I’m new at this and I have no freaking clue what I should be doing. I’m researching things like CDBaby and ReverbNation’s services, and I’m not sure they fit what I’m looking for at this point. So...if any of you have experience with these services and are willing to offer advice, feel free to leave me a comment below or email me (submissions@themenacingkitten.com) Thanks!

 

 

People have told me that they appreciate how vulnerable I’ve been on this blog. I’ve talked to you about my depression, my social anxiety, dealing with my father’s death and my reluctance to let people into my life. I’ve touched on songwriting and music in some of these posts, but until now it’s been the elephant in the room. Talking about most of the things I struggle with never felt all that vulnerable to me. Music? Well, this is a true vulnerability for me. This feels like a release of control, and I’m a little terrified.

Why am I terrified? I talked to Chris about this a while ago: you’d think that people hating my stuff would be the biggest fear. It’s not. Hate is an emotional response, and it means I created something that triggered an intense emotional reaction. A moment of rupture. Art! Um, yay? Seriously though – I know what I’ve created isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I’m mentally prepared for that. So what is it?

Apathy.

This is something that is in my bones. It has been a part of me since I could barely talk, and it’s the thing that both carried me through hard times and broke me. My biggest fear is to unleash this piece of me and no one cares. Okay – some of you care, because you’re my friends and family. But I mean, what if no one cares? Like, people listen to it and think, “gee that’s nice; soooo…what’s for dinner?” And they never play it again. They leave it behind and it’s meaningless. Again, I expect that to happen to some people, but I am terrified that will happen to all the people. Why? Because I care so much. This stuff is me. What you are seeing here is the ultimate vulnerability.

After Chris bought me my keyboard and my hands found their way to a new song, I wanted to cry. I was so removed from the theory of it all, I wasn’t even sure what key I was writing in, but like I did when I was a little girl, I trusted my ears and the little atrophied hamster in my brain hopped back on a wheel and started running. This note has to go here, that note has to go there where is this melody coming from wordsaredanicnginmyheadand…ta da! Song. It was a shitty song, but it was a start. In time it led to other songs, like these two:

NOWHERE LEFT TO RUN
I just wrote and recorded this on Friday, and I liked it so much it replaced what I originally intended to post. This is an odd one in that the main keyboard riff is a take on something I wrote when I was 14 and appeared in a song I wrote when I was 19. I normally am unable to recycle my stuff, but the riff haunted me a little and begged for a new melody, lyrics and structure. I am really, really happy with the lyrics in this song; despite the serious subject matter at the core of it, they were a shitload of fun to write. I mean, how often can you incorporate Publisher’s Clearinghouse into a song? There’s something special and magic-y about this song (at least to me) and I am excited to share it.

BLACK TO ALABASTER
Yes, I want to be a magician. Here’s my theory for how I could achieve magic:

Well-written song + solid recording + ??? = MAGIC!

I’m working off of mostly old, crappy gear in my house. My mic is roughly 16 years old, I only have GarageBand (which Chris messed around with to keep the integrity of some of the sounds that morphed or disappeared over the years), and I also really suck at mixing things. I have like, zero aptitude for the technical side of music. I see more than five knobs on a soundboard and I turn into Rain Man after he burns toast. But, this song is somehow working for me. Perhaps it’s so new I haven’t had a chance to imagine how it should sound. It’s not perfect. It’s just a simple piano and voice demo and has some clear areas where it could be better, but I’m happy with it. It feels a little magic-y for me.

Anyway, here’s my heart and soul. I hope you like it. I have roughly 20 songs I’m working on right now, so as I get them to an acceptable level and they don’t suck, I’ll be adding more. Thank you for listening and letting me share this with you. Sincerely.