"The Power of Music"

Last November, I did an interview with A Beautiful Perspective where they asked Rob Cavallo, Matt Pinfield, Mondo Cozmo, Mike Xavier, Grandson and myself questions about music. When they asked me about the power of music, I was already feeling beat down by life as a musician. 

See, when I first started singing & performing, I was maybe 16 years old.

I barely knew what I wanted to wear on any given day, so you could imagine how I felt about defining myself as an artist. I wasn't there yet. I was heavily into collaborating with others, because I thought all I could do was sing and write lyrics. I was working with some really talented and incredibly genius people, which really solidified my place as co-collaborator. I thought "I could never write a song. I'm not smart enough. I wasn't trained in music like these guys." I mean, I was a dancer whose life and brainpower was dedicated to dance since I was 3 years old. I figured I had missed the boat for becoming a well-rounded songwriter. It also didn't help that the people I was working with were young, talented jazz musicians who really knew that they were all of those things. 

So I continued on, working so closely with others that it wasn't fully my work. I had been so convinced that I wasn't capable. I wrote songs, but left them unheard. I dreamt of performances, but never executed them because I was afraid of what the people I was working with would think. It wasn't until last year that I finally got so tired of being treated unfairly, mainly by older men, that I knew I had to take things into my own hands or I would go insane. But I knew I couldn't do it on my own yet. So I stuck around and took notes.

In the meantime, I went into my voice memos & found a song I had started to write a few years ago. It was simple, but it immediately brought me back to when I wrote it. I could feel all the heartache and I could see the visuals I was wanting to convey. Despite every thought in my head telling me I shouldn't move forward with the song, I did anyway.

I finished writing "Flora" & started to record it.

After maybe 6 months of second-guessing, taking it to collaborators only to end up disliking the end product and stuffing the song away, I finally got it done. I kept my head down & wrote and recorded everything you hear on that song on my own. I felt so proud. I'm truly in love with what I created and now I'm taking that independence and applying it to all other aspects of my life. Especially into my performances (coming soon ;). 

Looking back on that interview and seeing how far I've come in only 7 months, I had a new perspective.

  When someone makes you feel like you aren’t good enough, smart enough, even old enough because of your age, gender, sexual preference, race or appearance, you can tell them to fuck off. Or you can do what I do. At first, ignore them. Then begin to watch.

As I’m watching, I’m learning every single thing I can about what this person does, whether it’s playing bass, writing a song, changing a tire, whatever. I watch & let them say or think whatever they want about who I am as a young woman. At this point it doesn’t hurt me (well, it always kind of does). Because in a few months, I’m able to say “Remember when you treated me like I was stupid? Well, now I can do this on my own.” And then I write a song so others don't have to feel that way in the future.

The power of music can get someone out of bed. It can make someone feel they are good enough. It empowers women, people of color, the 🏳️‍🌈 community to be unafraid of being themselves. 

There is no reason to feel afraid of being you.

If someone’s making you feel like you’re incapable, it probably means that they know you’re MORE than capable, which scares them. Don’t let their fucked up insecurities knock you down. Get up, learn everything you can until you can move yourself into a healthier environment, even if that environment is completely by yourself for a little bit. Sometimes you have to really learn who YOU are before you can work with others again. Then, write a song. Or be kind to the new person at work. Do everything you can to make sure you don’t make someone else feel inferior to you. Nurture your creativity while respecting others.


I'll elaborate more on how I wrote "By The Light" & "Flora" soon!

The lyrics behind "Hummingbird."

The lyrics behind "Hummingbird."

I always try to stay pretty ambiguous when it comes to my lyrics. I do it so more people can find connections to my songs. So when people hear Hummingbird, they think of a love story, which to be fair, was the original meaning for me. But as life changed, so did my personal connection to the song.  

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Boredom (blog #2)

Being entertained all of the time should be a good thing, right?

Wrong, and I learned that the hard way. As a culture, we've been "blessed" with the world in our pockets, happiness in a rectangle and the ability to feel everything and nothing at once. I hadn't even noticed how such an every day thing was affecting me.

I guess that's the point, though.

Morning, day and night I had something to look at. I mean, we are all doing that exact thing all of the time. Completely normal, right? I was set in my own ways until I heard this on a drive home:

This TED Talk about boredom was truly fascinating. I highly suggest watching or listening. Long story short, putting down your phone gives your brain room to actually THINK. Simple, but so complicated. 

"I could sense that my programming was loading up again."

After listening to this talk, I started to remember what it used to be like to do nothing.

I used to sit in my room staring at the wall while listening to music for hours. I would WRITE in a journal about how I was feeling. I mean, I was actually letting myself feel. 

I was constantly bored, but I always did something about it.

Now, boredom is unheard of. It's almost shocking to see a person alone at a restaurant just sitting there. One of the biggest issues that stems from that is a lack of creativity and originality. 

New ideas are being tucked away. The tool we have been given for sharing new ideas is now being used for stunting creative growth. 

So I put my phone down. The creativity didn't spark immediately, of course. That's just ridiculous. No, I honestly had to wait for my brain to reboot. I'm sure that my use of a computer metaphor shows that I'm not completely changed yet, but I could sense that my programming was loading up again. 

I stopped using my phone as a boredom vice. When I'd eat, I'd think. When I'd lay in bed, I'd think. When I drove, I'd think. I gave my brain room to work, and it did. 

Since then, I've filled half of a journal, reunited with my piano and I've reduced my feelings related to depression and anxiety. 

Is this to say that phones are evil robots taking over our brains?

No, of course not. The point is that we are in control of our own selves.

There are things that feel so good, but can be addictive. We need to listen to our brains and bodies. They are constantly telling us how they are doing, but if we are tuning them out, there's no way to address what's wrong. 

So put the phone down, just for a moment. See how it feels to connect with YOURSELF again.

Daydreams (blog #1)

Let's explore DAYDREAMS!

OK GO - How to find a wonderful idea   

This TED Talk really has had an effect on me lately. I never paid much attention to how daydreams can make or break an artist, but there is something about the way Damian Kulash embraces his daydreaming that has truly inspired me to take a second look at my inner thoughts.

Artists are some of the most self-doubting people. A person who tends to zone out and drift away to fantasy places might come off as weird or unfocused to a teacher, parent or significant other. That type of judgement can suffocate an artist's main source of creativity and inspiration, creating so much self-doubt in the daydreamer that they immediately start to shut down those thoughts, making it difficult to create.

In the beginning of this video/podcast, Damian talks about how he finds ideas in his zone outs. He describes how he often finds himself shifting focus between both of his eyes, or moving his head ever so slightly so a plant sticks out of his wife's head like a ponytail. These are pretty common experiences for a daydreamer, but these aren't just trances to him, they're ideas. He builds on top of what he sees and turns these playful visions into something bigger. By using his every day fantasies to fuel his artistic fires, he his tapping into a part of his brain most of us rarely think about using.

So how is this inspiring me in my day-to-day life?

Well, I, too find myself staring into the depths of space quite often, but my daydreams aren't as visual. They are more of elaborate stories from an alternate universe.

For example:
Today in the car, I counted 15 abandoned traffic cones on the side of the road. Which got me thinking, "Are these ordinary traffic cones? Or are they explosives, cameras, secret messages, or just the guys from Toy Story making a move?"  Now, normally a thought like this would exit my mind as quickly as it entered, but this time, I held onto those fantasies and explored all the different songs and stories I could create from my imaginative drive home. I spent the entire car ride asking Siri to take down notes for me, and when I finally got home, I had pages full of notes to work with.

This is a great exercise for creativity, but remember, this is where self-doubtcomes into play. Even trying to find the words to explain how a traffic cone can take up that much space in my brain is extremely difficult. If it's confusing to me to begin with, how will it make any sort of sense to someone else?

But guess what, there will always be people who will have a hard time tapping into their own imagination in order to understand the art that you're making. It's unfortunate for them, but we make art so that maybe one day, your creation will spark imagination in someone who thought they had lost their artistic fire a long time ago. 

So next time someone brings negative attention to your daydreaming, stick your thumb out in front of your eyes and squish them like the tiny bug they are and then make something out of that experience.