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!