Saturday, April 27, 2013

I'm under the covers, sick with a flu. I had a horrific, albeit hugely liberating realization this week about my life, but it was a little more than my body could handle in one go....

Ever since I started digging in the dirt, trying to find out what happened to me to make my life what it had become, I've often felt like I'm trying to solve a riddle, a case, a detective story of sorts. A number of times I have already felt like I'd figured out "whodunnit", but this week proved to me that I still had more left to uncover. I feel like I'm at the crux of it now though, and that perhaps I have now solved the case..? Except, who knows... Judging by my earlier experiences, there's always more. A sub-plot maybe? One that I didn't realize existed before?

But the story goes on. I am still alive and the adventure continues. It's a different story now, as I, the main character, see the other characters quite unlike I ever saw them before.... My road leads towards bigger and better things, (and once I get over this flu) I am stronger and more clear-headed than ever.

Bad news can be good news, if it reveals a truth long concealed. The truth was there all along anyway; I was just not ready to see it yet. I see it now. I do.

"Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear."
Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, April 20, 2013

These next couple of months will be a time of much growth for me as a musician. In addition to my own 3-city mini-tour in May, I will also be singing backing vocals for my label-mate and friend Melissa Giges at a concert here in New York. Plus, in June I'll be taking the stage with another artist and close friend of mine. Lots of cool stuff, for which I am already learning valuable new skills!

Now that I'm starting to collaborate with other artists, I'm realizing how little of that I've actually done in my 20-year career in the music business. I was very isolated before, both in my life and my career, but I am decisively changing that now, as I am finally in full control of my lifework... It is really fun now to feel like my label-mates are also becoming a kind of chosen family for me. We all help each other out in each others' projects, and I think we are all growing rapidly from the collaborations.

I was speaking to a successful artist-friend of mine last summer about how hard it is to become close friends with other artists. The separation had always been each of our experience, and together we were wondering why that was: jealousy, competition, what? In my case, I've found some answers now, almost a year later. In learning to trust myself and my personal boundaries more and more, I am increasingly willing myself to let people get closer to me. So my problem wasn't really with other artists, it was with people in general.

Yes, many of us creative types come from challenging family-backgrounds and that may create complicated personality traits. But I've found that once I started working on my own "character defects", making friends and getting closer to other people, artists or non-artists, has become easier all the time. Thus, I am now able to tap into a highly precious resource: collaborations..! My theme for today is conveniently dramatized below in a scene from Bugs Bunny:

Elmer Fudd: "There's something screwy around here!"
Bugs Bunny: "Eh, could be you, Doc.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I've just spent the whole day shooting a Finnish TV-show, and I have to say, I'm exhausted! I've never done a show quite like this before, and the day was full of firsts. Man, learning new stuff can be tiring...! I feel pretty proud of myself though, as I think I was more myself than I've ever been with the cameras rolling. I've always been really anxious and nervous when I've done TV, and this felt quite different. The film crew was a fun group of people and I felt quite relaxed and in my own element. I'm sure there's always room for improvement, but I do think I would actually recognize myself on this show. Nice!

The crew and I will continue tomorrow for another full day, thus I'll keep my blog on the short side, as I want to make sure I get the rest I so obviously need. It's a matter of experience though: things do get a lot easier (and less fatiguing) the more you do them. I do hope that there are many more projects like this in my future. For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I enjoy doing it. Perhaps it is because for the first time in my life I am ready for it. 

"The readiness is all"
--William Shakespeare, Hamlet and Christopher Nolan, Dark Knight Rises

Saturday, April 6, 2013

For the last year or so, I've been getting together monthly for 'Artist Night' with two friends of mine: one a poet, the other a musician and recording artist. In these get-togethers we have been sharing with each other our most recent oeuvres, whether in poetry, music or other area of art, followed by discussion, constructive criticism and/or workshopping. I owe a great debt of gratitude to these friends for helping me with a number of lyrical and structural choices in the songs on my upcoming album. They have truly been helpful to me, as I believe, I have also been to them.

These Artist Nights have become a dreaded and revered monthly occurrence for each of us, as they push us to create and subsequently present our new creations to each other. These are often still in a vulnerable, raw phase... I myself have written a number of songs specifically because of the pressure of wanting to perform something new for my two friends. But, this is a very good sort of pressure. Also, in this room, I fear not getting hurt or ridiculed, as I trust both of these artists immensely. There is a feeling of equality and mutual respect, without which this sort of thing would in fact not even work.

Last night's Artist Night was different for me. I decided to bring into the room a new challenge I am facing. After performing for my whole artistic life as a vocalist only, I am now taking the steps to become a singer-songwriter who plays guitar (and piano) on stage. This perhaps seems like a simple transition, but it is actually...well...a Thing. I am so used to moving, dancing, swaying, flinging my arms around, crouching, grabbing the mic, the microphone stand, or both.... But now, with the guitar, doing any of that stuff looks distracting, in addition to mostly being impossible anyway. But this I wasn't quite so aware of before last night.

After performing a song to my friends last night, they helpfully expressed to me that swaying and moving like I do with the guitar is not such a great idea. Hehe... As I've practiced at home, it had not occurred to me that my movements on stage will be severely limited by the microphone, which will not be moving with me when I play the guitar. Also, apparently it looks kinda weird.... I tried it over, this time with a mic and a stand, and it started looking a hell of a lot better.

My point here is two-fold. One: there's a lot more to think about than one would expect, when it comes to the simple act of starting to play an instrument on stage. I have much to learn. The second point is this: how awesome to have friends helping me along the way..! How wonderful it is to finally trust others; how rewarding it is to be brave enough to give and to receive. It has taken much emotional work on my part to open myself up like this to other people, but I'm thankful that I have. The world in my eyes is friendlier than it has ever been.

“You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh