Searching For You

C.S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’

This is also why we listen to music. And, ‘if sad songs say so much’, as Elton John has rightly said, then my songs speak volumes.

This post is about me finding the right fan base for my music.  See, I know I’m not alone out there in what I suffer with major depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, chronic pain, suicidal thoughts and everything that goes along with these conditions. In writing this blog, and reading others, I have certain proof that I am not alone. And, yet, we are all uniquely alone in what we individually suffer. My music helps me to express and, in a very magical way, make beauty come from the horrific thing called life/existence. This is my gift. However, in another way, it complicates matters, because, with it, comes the intense frustration, anger, and sadness of not seeming to be able to get my music out there to the people it will most speak to and resonate with.

The thing is, I need a fan base—and I KNOW you’re out there, I’ve even spoken to a good number of you. Now, there are just a whole lot of people who aren’t ever going to like and support my music (even those who rave about my voice and talent), simply because they can’t relate to it.  I need to find those of you who will relate and find some comfort, expression and solidarity in what I do. I know I’m not alone, but I seem to keep pitching my music to the same people who don’t understand what I am going through in my daily life in general. In this way, I need a very specific audience. I know that audience does exist.  And, I truly believe it is an audience that NEEDS a musical voice.

I don’t want this post to just be some advertisement. And, I don’t want it to be me begging for people to check out my music like some sad failed loser of an indie artist. This is simply me putting out a search to see who’s out there in this Blogdom that my music might touch. ‘Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?’

Yes, I know that even for those of us with similar health problems, our musical tastes are not all going to be the same, of course…  but, if you are a music lover, just check my stuff out – if it vibes with you, then great. I do incorporate a wide range of styles in what I write and perform, so there’s a good chance that something I do will hit the spot.

I’ve just released a new studio album for digital download.  No, I am not giving it away for free (giving away my stuff in the past hasn’t helped me gain fans anyway). Musicians have bills to pay, like all craftsmen/craftswomen. I REALLY shouldn’t have to explain this, but in this day and age where musical talent can be faked with software and those of us with real gifts are left in an industry bankrupt and bereft, without a leg to stand on, many of us feel forced to give our lifeblood away in any desperate bid to get noticed. The thing is, most of us literally cannot afford to do it. I cannot afford to do it. Furthermore, it’s worth far more than the modest price I’ve put on it anyway.  I owe it to the other fine musicians and the exceptional producer I worked with to bring this piece of art and labour of love to completion to not just ‘give it away’, as if all our hard work meant nothing. Good music, real music… it costs something.  It costs those of us who make it – it should cost those of you who hear it. It’s part of the deal – it costs us all, but we ALL get so much in return…look at it as an investment. And, finding something you personally can relate to…well, that value cannot be understated or underrated.

So, this album isn’t a freebie, but you can listen to the tracks on bandcamp without paying; however, if you want to own the album and listen whenever and wherever you are, get the special bonus track and extra artwork, as well as support me as an artist (I’ll be eternally grateful), well, then, surely that makes the tiny monetary price a worthy investment.

Thank you for reading and listening. I hope I will hear from you soon.  Most of all, I hope (there’s that four letter word again) my music will reach who will most benefit from hearing it. I’ll finish here and let the songs speak for themselves.

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It’s A Borderline Thing

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So, yesterday’s post got me into some trouble with a friend. I wouldn’t have wanted to deliberately disturb or hurt my friend, of course.  But, hey, it does seem to be a borderline thing. We lose friends like leaves falling off trees.  It’s not easy being green and it isn’t easy being (and staying) a friend to a squishy brainer. People that don’t suffer with these conditions tend to misinterpret the actions of a borderline.  At first, it made me question whether I should be so open in this blog.  But, I appreciate knowing I’m not alone when I read other bloggers on here who also struggle with mental illness.  One blogger that I follow has shared things I haven’t dared share (they would make my friend run a mile – or several miles, in fact, and put up a giant wall and maybe get attack dogs), but I so appreciate that she has written of these things, because I can identify, and it’s a comfort to know I’m not alone in going through the situations she’s written so frankly about.

 

I’m happy to report that I didn’t lose this particular friend.  He’s decided to stick around for now, and hopefully long term.  But, I think I explained myself poorly last night when he came over and confronted me about what he felt to be ’emotional blackmail’.

 

All the borderlines are now nodding their heads.  This sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  We get accused of being emotionally manipulative.  We are extremely emotional, our feelings are overwhelming. And, when we can either no longer keep the mask in place and hold them in, or we simply choose – like on this blog – to express how we feel and what we are going through, it makes “the normals” uncomfortable and many feel they must rationalise it by accusing us of being this way just to control them. But, while I can’t speak for my fellow borderlines, I can say that I never intend to manipulate another person, and I feel that if THEY feel manipulated, then that’s more THEIR hang-up than mine. I’m sharing how I feel, not to get something out of anyone else, but to rant and rage at life as it is.  Sure, it’s great if the regular non-squishy brain types find the blog informative, if it dispels some stigma, if it softens a few negative opinions about those of us who struggle with chronic pain and mental illness, but that’s not the main reason I blog. This is my place where the mask can come off. And, yes, sometimes, the gloves come off, as well.  This my place to be brutal.  But, it’s not a brutality aimed to hurt anyone – it isn’t malicious, even when I am furiously angry at life – well, it might be malicious toward life itself, yes.  But, it isn’t a maliciousness aimed against any person in order to try and get my way.  It’s just me having a place to talk, to really talk, to bring it out in the open instead of suffering with it in silence.

 

So, some points:

1. When I post here, the farthest thing from my mind is how what I’m saying may pressure you into doing something for me. Again, if you feel that way, it might be an issue of your perception.  What it is NOT is my manipulation!

2. When I post here, as uncomfortable (or, in some cases, impossible) as it may be for some to understand, this is where I am right now. It isn’t something I chose. I am going to repeat that: it isn’t something I chose. The question is, should I choose to openly share about it.  And, as I say, that’s what I’ve been asking myself today: should I continue to post my experiences and feelings and how chronic illness, and life itself, affects me?  Or, should I stop?  Should I bury it.  Never expound on it. Only refer to it in songs that people can either ignore or choose to interpret in another way? This sounds harsh, but is your comfort more important than mine? I’m honestly – and, without malice – asking the question.

3. No, I don’t want to feel the way I do all the time, but I don’t think that my mental illness necessarily makes me wrong all the time. I do see a lot of things very differently, yes.  But, I’m not convinced that just because my brain is squishy means everything I think is messed up.  I am a creative person, and expressing myself here is an outlet, an unleashing and releasing.  It helps me, and sometimes it helps others, too.

 

So, maybe it’s a situation of, take the good with (what you consider) bad.  And, realise, this blog isn’t some sort of agenda to get my way.  It isn’t an act to get attention.  Sometimes, yes, it IS a cry for help (I’ll give you that one), and – though it might really scare you – I’m not alone in how I think and feel; there are many of us here.  We are sorry if we make you uncomfortable or feel threatened, but try not to judge or blame us – if you want to blame anything, then, like us, blame life, and rage against it a while with us, because it really is a bastard.

 

In other news, (pardon this bit of shameless plugging) I updated my bandcamp page, doing some sound edits, improving some bits here and there, and it’s all there waiting for you to discover. Now, shall I emotionally blackmail you to check out my music? Ha ha, ’tis a joke.  I want people to like my music and download it because they like it, not because they feel like they’ve been railroaded into buying something they don’t really want.  If you like the music, YAY. I work hard on it, and it is the very deepest expression of my soul.  And, yes, like all independent musicians, I can use all the support I can get.  So, if you haven’t checked out my music yet, give it a go.  If you’ve checked it out before, why not take another listen to see if there’s anything new you might have missed.  Oh, yeah, and of course, I could really use the validation. :p  There I go again. 😀

 

Here’s just one of the songs you’ll find there… listen:

 

 

 

Body and Soul

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Last year I embarked on a journey of – what I, a big Doctor Who fan, called – regeneration. Not actually being a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey (more’s the pity), it is an ongoing process rather than a blast of light and an instant transformation.

What began as a declaration of freedom from a group of confining and judgmental people, has evolved into a continuing discovery and expression of the real me, and what suits the real me.

I think that many of us who go the way of body art and modification aren’t merely rebels. Certainly there are individuals who fall into that category. But, for me, the outer transformation is a reflection of the inner person. This is me taking off the masks.

I’ve discovered blue hair suits me. The most natural thing in the world. If my soul had hair, it would be blue.

I’m a wild thing which has been royally fucked up by being born on this planet and forced to live here. I don’t cope or function well here. But, here I am, for now. And, as long as I am, I choose not to hide, but rather to express, this tattooed, pierced, blue-haired soul.

Baffled

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I envy them, and I honestly don’t understand.

Today has been one of those days where I’m in physical, mental and emotional pain. I’ve spent a good deal of it in bed, but also a significant amount of it in artistic endeavour and expression. There is pain, yes. But, thankfully, there is also creative flow – that, if nothing else, has given me something to post on my Facebook page…and here, of course.

There is comfort in that creative flow.

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I’m grateful for it, the art that takes an idea and gives it a form, a – for lack of a  much better word – life.

An imagination can torment. It can also create great beauty. And, sometimes, these things go hand in hand. At least, it’s something.

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Behind The Mask

We all wear masks. Sometimes you run into people who are convinced they want to see the real you. I always suspect this is like the person who says, “I really do want to know how you are”, but always ends up regretting asking the “how are you?” question if you are indeed honest with them about how you are doing. The only ones that can handle the people we are behind the masks we wear are the individuals who genuinely love us.

Only in the safety of real love can we begin to take the off our masks and confidently be ourselves with someone else. And, when I say love, I mean real lovebeyond a superficial affection that can change with the wind: love is a real, unchangable force. You either always love a person, or you never loved them at all. Love is constant. You can fall in and out of infatuation, you can fall in and out of lust, you can fall in and out of friendship, but you cannot fall in and out of love. And, anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves and everyone else.

The truth is, while we do wear masks to protect ourselves, we wear them just as much to protect the other people around us. Most people simply cannot cope with who we really are.

What are some of the masks you wear?

Sometimes a mask becomes so much a part of us that we begin to even accept ourselves better with the masks on. Most people don’t like themselves, let alone love themselves, so it can become easier to be fake with yourself, as well. I know I do it. Vulnerability and authenticity – even with oneself – don’t always come easy. However, most of the time, I am rather brutally honest about my warts and all – to myself, anyway – and I’ve chosen to be painfully honest in this blog. As one blogger I admire puts it, “put away your rainbow and be real.” I think it’s nearly as annoying to be superficially positive all the time as it is to be genuinely negative 100% of the time.  I don’t sugarcoat much of anything. I can afford to be rather transparent. But, I assure, I have protected you from a lot that is me. I notice that when I do dare to share a bit more of who I am, it isn’t well-received. People just ignore it all together because…as I say, they can’t handle it.  If it doesn’t compute, if it makes your brain go tilt, if it isn’t really relatable to a wide audience, then it doesn’t make for the best blogging fodder, does it? Certainly, the number of likes I get on some posts, as opposed to the total lack thereof on others, confirms my theory. Then, I always end up coming back to the question, “Why do I blog?” To answer that question I must go back to the tagline I wrote when I started this blog.

While I’d love to touch a wider audience, this blogging experience is for me to express…MYSELF. Whether YOU can handle it or not, whether you like it or not.  I do this for the sake of the fragile, broken, wreck of a person behind the mask.

No One Else But Me (Behind The Mask)

Take it off

Put it down

All of these pretences

Curious?

Do you want to know

Who dwells behind the defences?

You should walk away

You should understand

The walls are there to protect you

Just as much as they are there to protect me

Behind the mask, behind the mask

There’s nothing you want to see

Behind the mask, behind the mask

There’s nothing you want to be

Behind the mask, there’s nothing left but me

Nothing else but me

Look at me

Feel the pain

And all that longs for freedom

Can you stand

To hold my gaze –

The anguished eyes of the broken

Please don’t walk away

You should understand

The walls come down only by love

Take that chance and you’ll find out

Oh, you’ll learn

You must learn

Behind the mask, behind the mask

There’s all that’s left of me

Behind the mask, behind the mask

Desperate to be free

Behind the mask, just scared to be

No one else but me

 – © Autumn Dawn Leader

The Struggling Artist (Give Me A Chance)

The Struggling Artist (Give Me A Chance)

You get an eclectic mix in this blog, for sure. Because, I am an eclectic mix (and, those of you who follow my blog for pictures and/or witty quotes and/or thought-provoking messages, I ask you to forgive me for the shameless plugging; just wait a bit and I’m sure one or all of those things will make another appearance soon)… but, when it comes down to it, it all comes back to this here (and, so, I beg you to stay with me, please).

A couple of days ago, my husband decided to start a blog and begin posting some of his brilliant photography and artwork on WordPress because, he said, and I quote (hey, there’s your quote):

“There’s no point creating them if no one gets to see them.”

I feel that way about my music. And, in my struggle – and, in essence, my failure (I know, people dislike when I use that word, but get over it – call it what it is, dammit!) – to be heard, I have days when I just wonder why I continue to pay for a website that I really can’t afford if no one is discovering, enjoying and, yes, paying for my music. It is frustrating for the artist in me, and sometimes it’s downright so demoralising I cannot bear it. Today I stopped paying the $19.99 a month to ReverbNation for doing nothing for me (they’re supposed to promote me, distribute my music and gain me exposure…yeah). I still have my website (which I am loth to let go of at this time, but I wonder how long it will be… unless, oh, unless… sigh, it’s a dream, Autumn… no, Autumn, it’s not a dream, it’s a complete fantasyand yet, I still hope a fool’s hope). I know I’m not alone (not the only artist going through this). There is so much competition these days. It really isn’t anyone’s “fault” (or, if it is anyone’s, then it is everyone’s…); I am not placing blame and getting bitter (*twitch, twitch*), no, seriously and in complete honesty (having worked through those issues), I’m not trying to put a guilt trip on you (everyone) for not discovering my music and sharing it with the world (uh, yeah, more everyone).

So, this brings me to today and where I say with my husband, there’s no point in creating if we are not seen and heard. Ah, yes, notice I didn’t say, “if it isn’t seen and heard. For our art is the deepest expression of who WE ARE. To appreciate me is to appreciate my art; know me = know my music. And, so, I am giving people an opportunity to download one of my singles (Waterfall) and my album (Gloriously Autumnal) for FREE (that’s a whole album for free)! Now, when I say free, it is “name your price” – you can, if you choose, pay more than nothing for it (and, much appreciated if you do…it all goes to a good cause: paying my bills). Because, there they’ve been, just sitting on a virtual shelf, collecting virtual dust, and not being downloaded (and it breaks my heart and rips my soul to shreds…this is my very essence being ignored here). Why? Because people can’t be bothered and they are so spoiled for choice in the music world that my work gets completely lost in the mix. I’m asking for people to give it a chance. Like all music, it definitely won’t be EVERYONE’S cup of tea (I know and accept that). But, if you like it, you’ve discovered new music to speak to your heart. You have nothing to lose. And, we both have everything to gain. And, if you do like it, you may want to go ahead and purchase the single “Hope Breathing” (and, again, I would thank you muchly). So, over to you (everyone – and YOUI’m talking just to YOU – sitting there in front of your computer screen reading this, I see you); you can make a struggling artist’s day (week, month, year, really).  So, clickety-click that link at the top (which will take you to my Bandcamp site) and download some tunes. Thank you!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blogdom (of pictures, witty and poetic nonsense, and everything from thought-provoking rants to inspirational devotions), already in progress.

Do Not Attempt To Dissect Me From My Art…

“Do not attempt to dissect me from my art: my art is the very essence – the deepest and truest expression – of who I am.” – Autumn Dawn Leader

When I first created this quote/picture, I did it out of frustration with people attempting to “get me to see my worth and value apart from my talent”. That never goes over too well with any artist (in any medium), really. It’s not that we are (all) unaware, or refuse to acknowledge, the other (perhaps good) stuff that’s in us.  It’s that we (primarily) want to be perceived and known by our “deepest and truest expression”.  So, that’s what this quote is about. I said it for all musicians, singers, songwriters,  painters, sculpters, photographers, etc. – all artists, everywhere.