First, I want to thank those of you who follow me here on WordPress. I know that many of you here suffer with health issues like I do, and the main reason you follow me is because we have that in common. I also hope that I have gained fans and followers of my music, so much of which comes straight out of my struggles with my illnesses. First and foremost, I am a musician. That’s where my heart is and, really, if you don’t want to hear/read me ramble on about my music and why you should listen to it (and support independent artists in general), you pretty much shouldn’t be here (just sayin’ it like it is). So, saying that, I want to go on to say that I really do appreciate my readers, watchers and listeners, and sincerely hope you will stick with me.
**(For those of you who would rather watch and listen to a vlog version of this post, here you go…otherwise, keep reading.)**
Inspiration has struck for doing a series of posts about obscure/independent/unsigned musicians (other than myself), in an effort to make more people aware of the talent that is out there amongst us lesser knowns. So, I am beginning ‘Project: Now Hear This (Music & Musicians You Should Know)‘ in order to spotlight the treasures that dwell amongst you. Because, they are worth knowing about.
Now, in doing this, I know that musical tastes vary immensely. But, I will try to provide something for everyone…well, for most people, anyway (if you like grunge metal, move on now). Thus, I will have categories for genres, so that if you really aren’t interested in a certain genre, you can skip that one if you must. However, I encourage you to check out all the artists that I will be sharing over the coming posts; you may surprise yourself by finding you like something in a genre you never could imagine liking. Hey, it happens all the time. Music is like that, and so many of my fellow artists cross genre barriers all the time (I do it on purpose). So, don’t count something or someone out just because you’ve never liked a particular genre before. Try to keep an open mind, and heart!
Now, this is simply an introductory post to whet your appetite for what I plan on sharing as an ongoing series – an advertisement for future posts, as it were (I’ve also written it for myself, in order to solidify the inspiration and importance of doing this) . So, as I say, stay tuned. Watch this space. And, get ready to Now Hear This!
Some people require a visual. Some are more auditory. Others still prefer the written word. This vlog/blog post has it all.
I actually have a friend who prefers my vlog posts, where I TALK, more than she does listening to what I – and many others feel – is the considerably better use of my voice.
Personally, despite having a good vocabulary, I find it difficult to verbalise my thoughts and feelings. I am unable to put these things into SPEECH. So, I put them in songs (one uses a different part of the brain when one sings than when one talks… this is the reason why some people who have suffered severe strokes, rendered speechless, can sing just fine…it is also why a stutterer can sing perfectly and clearly) or in visual art which illustrates how I’m feeling.
I find talking overrated. When I’m forced to speak, I do so…but, it’s rarely willingly. And, inevitably, I never end up saying what I really want and need to get across. It’s very frustrating. I don’t stutter badly, but I have elements of the problem. Speech is just hard work.
Of course, the problem with art, in any form, is that once it’s ‘out there’ it’s open to all sorts of interpretation. You see, hear, read and feel it through YOUR filter.
Sigh. It is the human condition.
But, I continue to try to communicate, for what it’s worth.
Life is hard. One could say, life is hard as speaking, and life with ANY chronic illness is a prison. Here’s an animation illustrating the daily struggles and dreams thereof:
This next video is a music video… I’m not explaining it. Just watch and listen.
And, ending on a fun note. One of my grandfather’s favourite jokes was about a guy who needed to pass his school exams, but he was woefully stupid. His teacher, trying to be kind to him, decided to help him out by marking him a passing grade if he could spell just one word correctly. The teacher thought about it and realised that the student was too dumb to even get one word right, so decided to let him pass if he could just get ONE LETTER of one word right. The teacher thought that, surely, even this idiot could at least get one letter in a word correct. So, the teacher said to his student, ‘Spell the word coffee.’ The student replied, ‘K.A.U.P.H.Y. ‘
And, thus, I give you this:
May your coffee be good and may you always be heard.
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.
While success continues to elude me, I continue on because:
It’s sort of like breathing. I’m a wreck at life. I don’t like it (life, that is). It annoys me (and that’s on a good day – the rest of the time I detest it). And, yet, I keep breathing… it’s that thing I do. But, unlike life, I am good at making music. Talent, I have. But, talent means so little in this business. I do this when there is no real reason to other than the compulsion to do it. If I could stop myself breathing, oh I would. One day I may figure out the way to do that. Until then, apparently, I’m going to continue making music.
At the moment, I’m getting in touch with the tribal; I’ve gone native. It feels right. It feels now. It feels ancient and now. Sometimes, I picture myself sitting against a tree in Queen’s Park or somewhere, with my hat off on the ground (to collect any stray change a kind passerby might give), playing my wooden flutes to the wind. I doubt that I will actually take up busking any time soon, but that’s the visual in my imagination right now as I compose pieces layered with driving rhythym, accented by the haunting sound of my “second voice“.
I’m not releasing any more music (not putting out any more to sell, that is). What’s out there is out there (on bandcamp, cd baby, amazon and i-tunes). It is failing to fly off the virtual shelves. I will continue to share some of my new stuff online (and if and when gigging comes back into the picture), but it isn’t worth the amount of time (blood, sweat and literal tears) and money (I don’t get my money back, let alone make any on what I put out there) that it takes to produce and distribute if people aren’t going to buy it. It’s good stuff, but there’s too much competition and far too much apathy. I’m trying not to be bitter. Did I mention, life sucks?
I am always grateful for those who do enjoy my stuff. So, as I say, the stuff will still be there, but no new albums or singles.
I spent time this morning on another stab at an exercise in futility: uploading yet another song, one of my best (or so I’m told) to BBC Introducing. I’ll wait to hear that it’s been listened to…and then remain hopeful for a few days until I realise that, just like all the other times, they don’t want me.
Screw it. I’m breathing. And thus…I can’t escape it. I’m driven to do it, to make music whether anyone else is interested in what I have to offer. It’s beautiful. It just is. It allows me occupy the present moment and almost, nearly (as close as I get except maybe during orgasm), to enjoy it (the present, the moment, that is).
It used to be all about my voice. I finally realised, it’s bigger. I’m not just a vocalist. I’m a musician. I make music. I’m not a failure at making music. I successfully do the making thereof. I’m a failure at getting discovered/heard/famous. I’m a failure at making my passion and what I am good at pay my bills and contribute to the financial needs of myself and family. But, making music? At making clever, unique, versatile and pretty damn awesome music? At that… I’m a colossal success.
Perhaps, after I’m dead, my music will be discovered. Perhaps it never will and it will die with me. But, whatever the case, I’m making it because I don’t sing the song, it sings me. I don’t play the music, it plays me. And in it… in it is something pure and beautiful, something untainted, something that – for a moment – can make me feel like fucked-up-me is contributing something beautiful to this world…for a moment. And, I must do it. Like breathing, it’s a compulsion.
This is the piece that I composed as a thank you to the dear friend who sent me the gift of a second voice – my Native American wooden flutes. I have this set to play automatically so that, if you have the volume up on whatever circuity device you are reading this on, you can listen while you read. If you like what you hear, why not check out my other stuff? Thank you for reading and listening.