The calm fight

I must admit, the reason I haven’t put up the march 8th as a gig yet (it’s coming, I just need to get a moment of updates between work) is there’s been some trouble. And here’s where your calm psyche that you have to have as an artist comes through. The first arranger went : “Oh no, you have musicians? And there’s a man there? On international woman’s day?? I don’t know?!” And as I got these news this week, I just calmly talked to her over the phone. “I respect this decision of only girls, I’m no stranger to it, my first album was just like that, although I had to give some men credit for production and stuff, just good manners. But I wanna put on a good show. And one of my musicians happens to be male and I enjoy working with him and my female bass player, we’re just synched and love eachother.” I was calm. I didn’t go bonkers because of bad communication. I just explained calmly and tried to keep a good mood. And it turns out, when I went to “the powers that be” on the gig, asking for their number it was no trouble. They had the same thoughts I had: “Hey, there are men coming to this international women’s day thing and you have an act with a man and women who wants to support it, it’s perfect. And you, the main artist, is female. Awesome. The most important thing is your show”

All I can say is obstacles are gonna come at any time. Don’t freak out. Explain calmly and happily your thoughts around it. Most of the time, no one will be in your way. The times they are… well, maybe it wasn’t that good, know what I mean? I believe in loving your musicians and them loving and supporting your stuff, and that is always more important than them happening to be gay/female/underdogs themselves. I think it’s more telling that I spoke of musicians, and the answer was: “You’re gonna have a bunch of males on stage?” Er… well… I didn’t know musician was male. Heck, gonna have to give up the piano, then πŸ˜‰

Four digits

Usually, as a piano player, I like to talk about five digits. However, I’m happy about my four digit right now! While a lot of then are Swedish and we don’t all listen to melodifestivalen, I think I owe it a lot to running the ad in the US and UK as well. The music does resonate better in the Tori Amos/Joni Mitchell/ Pj harvey/ kate bush
homelands πŸ™‚

20140226-223938.jpg

This weeks singing lesson

From your very own crazy self proclaimed voice teacher! πŸ˜‰ I find it funny doing a post like this when I’ve only held like 5 lessons, but as I’ve said before, I’m crazy good at research and learn quickly.

Lana Del Rey… oh… yeah, I think most people have opinions if they’ve had a little listen. Haunting, cookie, weird, out there, angel, not-much-what-is-all-the-fuss-about, brilliant, different. I can see why any one of these things would pop up in your head, my own opinions aside.

My own opinion; there sure are some haunting melodies that get stuck in my head. I have a problem with the self deprecation in the lyrics. All about the guy, all about almost being his trophy, how nothing is worth anything without that person. Beautiful some might say, I just don’t like the way she puts it in the lyrics. I would like to see more of her. Her favourite perfume, if his dick tastes like pepsi cola, at least what kind of perfume she likes on him, you know… πŸ˜‰ And when I’ve heard one song it’s like I’ve heard them all. Haunts me the first time, not the second and third. That sorta thing.

My current beef is as a voice coach, coming with her statement: “I have had no plastic surgery whatsoever, I just sing with pouty lips”. The beef is not with the plastic surgery or the obvious lie about having it. I can’t blame or shame anyone in this day and age for getting plastic surgery or lying about it. There are souch double standards and weird norms in any society when it comes to beauty. You’re supposed to look perfect yet you should be ashamed if you are not naturally born with it. And lets face it, she did it to create a new persona and image, a new career, and a much more successful one than the one of Liz Garret (her birth name and first attempt at music).

But I gave my singing students: “Video Games” this week for one good reason. I first had to tell them: “God, no, don’t sing it with pouty lips, that’s not the way to do it.” Because your vocal chords are not really your throat, even though it feels like it. They are in line with the throat, but go horizontally up and in line with your jaw. The sound comes out of the throat, that’s about it, leaving your tounge position very important. So when you pout your lips singing, you strain them and can even damage them. Foooo on you Lana for encouraging this! πŸ˜›

The key to her relatively strong voice and sounding like a half drunk cigarette smoking fifteen year old is holding your jaw as still as possible, letting your throat let out the tone without the tounge in the way and shaping the words simply by relaxing everything. The key is put simply: novocaine jaw. I demonstrated to the students, first singing pouty, then singing novocaine jaw. They agreed it was eerily more like Lana when I hardly moved the bottom bite. It’s a good excersize for later singing, just understanding the relaxing of the throat.Β  And that’s why I gave them that homework for a week. Not to make them all mini-Reys going on with half drunk singing, but just practising holding it still and where the tounge should be. That’s your biggest crook when it comes to not hitting a high note strongly. You tense up and the tounge gets in the way. So one week of Novocaine jaw is probably a good lesson.

Miss Rey, with all do respect, don’t go saying those things! Big beef, biiiig beef! // a five-week-therefore-expert-voice-coach! πŸ˜‰

Image

Image

Image

Image
I’m all natural, me! πŸ˜‰

Superstition and living windshield wipers

I can’t eat a ginger bread cookie without trying to break it in three first. For those of you who don’t know, when you knock on it and it splits into three it means you get a wish, at least according to Swedish tradition. I can’t place keys on a table and I throw salt over my shoulder for luck (hence me being unusually organized for an artist and hoovering at least once a week πŸ˜‰ )

When we drove to rehearsals for the new stuff today the need to change my windshield wipers became painfully obvious as parts of it was flapping shredded in the wind. But closing in to LidkΓΆping, listening to Rufus Wainwright (he makes me feel strange things and nostalgia for places I haven’t even been, he’s magic) they flapped in perfect harmony and rythm with the music. And I was like: “Oooh, I can’t replace it now, he/she has musicality!” And that’s what I do. I name all my major big tech stuff and little stuff. I felt sorry for my tea kettle when it screamed on the stove and sorry when the whistle broke and he/she couldn’t express hear heated agony any more. Throwing it in the trash was a challenge.

I do realize this causes you problems, giving life to inanimate objects. And in the brain, I know they’re not alive. But in my heart, in the special songwriting place I go, they… sorta… are… And when you think about it, it does good things. It makes me more careful with them, more prone to fixing them rather than the “buy ‘n’ throw” mentality we have today. Don’t get me wrong. When it needs to be chucked, it’s chucked. I’m not a hoarder. But when it needs to get fixed, it also gets fixed.

And the songwriting part of me thrives with this. Do you know how many analogies you can come up with when you think of a tea kettle screaming because it’s gotten too hot? Do you know how strong the symbology gets when you settle in superstition for a minute? Again, me brain not stupid in. But a stupid heart is pretty awesome. It breaks easily, true, but it heals and grows much faster too. You need that non-stupid brain to collaborate with that, though, I’m not gonna lie. When Screamy mc non-Scream kettle had done his thing he needed to be chucked, and by then my senses had told me it was just a broken tea kettle. My bass player, Silja, drew a bunny in the snow on my balcony table while Sweden was still covered in white. We talked about it being one of Lenka’s (my bunny and on the cover of Animalic) buds and how she would maybe fall in love with him. Then he melted away and we both made a sad face. But a line like “bunny’s buddy melts away, he says my love I couldn’t stay” is just golden in a poem or a song.

So I’m keeping this quality of mine. Watch out. You never know which one is gonna be about the windshield wiper. And oh yeah, it’s still getting chucked. Rufus lover or no, I need you to do your job, dude πŸ˜‰

20140217-234305.jpg

A valentine for everyone

She’s gonna get into politics now, oh yes πŸ˜‰

Seeing a rainbow three days in a row, including yesterday on Valentine’s Day, got me thinking about love and Sotji. “The olympics?” you say “is it not against a musician’s nature to be into sports?” Yes. Yes it is. Don’t worry. I’ve watched the occasional game at work because kiddo loves watching sport and running people, so I know how the men did in ice-skating, but not much more. I’m talking about the rainbow flag of course.

So, according to Putin, it’s OK to be gay but not in the open. You can’t talk about it or display your emotions openly. Here’s the harm in that; people need people. Can’t you just see me standing in the rain going all Barbara Streisand on you? People need people because people need to talk. They need to not be cooked up in an apartment or house only there free to be themselves, all the while feeling the shame of what they are doing. Because that is what happens. When you talk to no one, and all around you there is just: “You are disgusting and shameful”, it’s extremely hard to resist, even if you are an intelligent, confident person. A partner may be a good support and fend it off like a champion for a very long time, but something creeps in.

Here’s what happens when you can talk in the open; you realize there are more people out there like you. No matter what your problem or whatever you are unsure about, you are never really alone. Maybe you don’t have a big crowd cheering you on, but you have people that can become your crowd, people you can surround yourself with that become your frame of reality. We are meant to be in packs. Big ones, small ones, but we are herd animals, we really are.

That’s really the reason I’m well nowadays. Well, that and taking walks and cutting down on drinking and stress when I feel the depressive thoughts and moves come a-knocking. Doing things slowly and being present. Because I know I’m not this freak alone in my situation. And knowing that, I get less nervous and focus on myself in a healthy way (depression is focus on you in an unhealthy way, sorta from the outside). I’m probs more open than a lot are about my feelz. But that’s because they scare me so little and I don’t feel ashamed. I’ve had good responses from people scared that they were alone too, saying I really helped them out. Bet they don’t know they help me out at the same time.

I’m not talking about revealing private things (heh heh), but I do get personal. And there’s a difference. I might tell you I am sad but I won’t tell you why/who/what. I might shout my feministic chants but I won’t tell you who/what triggered it. And no, I won’t do the “I hate a certain person, they’re such an ass!!” (the cryptic fb classic) either. I save that for me (except hate is a waste of time, so not much there either) and the people I have better contact with outside of the public eye. They get my stories, they get most of me. I guess you can say; I can get personal a lot, but private (hi hi) with a few.

And that is important. And while you, simply because you love a person, can be called digusting and horrible, you need your private, your partner, to tell you that you are wonderful. And find those people arround you who say: “Hey, how’s the love going? You love someone? I wish I did” or “I do too, wow!” While it is important to believe in yourself and love yourself for who you are, there’s a reason gay people feel so relieved when they come out (siiigh, I hope that word disappears, it’s just love). They are heartbroken by relatives disowning them, but take solace in the people that cheer them on. Those are the people they need to have in their world, as they are finally themselves.

I go back to what I said about depression. Depression is looking at yourself from the outside in an unhealthy way. And not being able to be out and open and being yourself, except for in private, forces you to look at yourself from the outside a lot of the time. Seeing what the outside sees: a monster. How can you not get depressed and thoroughly unhappy from that? That is what I mean by personal. Stamming from the word “person”, which you are, in all your glory, being yourself.

I love that some competitors in the Olympics wear the rainbow flag in support. There is comfort in that. Comfort for the people that have to keep hidden, that someone performs an act in support of them in front of millions of people. This is what the public eye can do for you when we want to get open and personal in a place where you are not allowed to be. I pray we don’t have to even comment on everyone’s right to love in the next Olympics.

Image

I spent my Valentine’s Day with my misstress for 20 yrs, the piano. Now that’s a steady relationship!

More rehearsals

We’re just fitting them in whenever we can now. We are all very focused and want to do the best job we can, so any time off is rehearsal time. We developed the drums a little more today, and the bass. Suprisingly, I played the piano/key parts just as I did on the demos, so I didn’t have to work on that too much. There was a time when I had to, I worked really hard on the demos and tried to get small doozies and stuff to make an effect, and five months later, I had to listen to them intently again to be able to do them. But as you develop with your instrument, that’s not needed as much. You’d think I’d always be able to do them from day one since I wrote them but let me tell you, that is no guarantee. Though I get surprised outbursts when I play live: “You can really play like that!” and my reply is “honey, who do you think wrote it?” it’s only the last few years that I can back that boasting up. So if you recognize yourself in this: believe me, the more you play, the better you get. Sounds obvious but isn’t always.

I am very fortunate to work with the musicians I work with. Having listened intently to music, others and my own, I feel almost confident in fields like trumpet, flute, strings, and of course keyboards. Even the bass. But drums? Oh baby. While I instruct Silja in “eights and climbs” and sing her notes I instruct Robin in: “eeer, a little more ducka duck tish, a little less garunk tiiish”. Not that I don’t have a clear image of what I want. Not that I don’t hear it in my head. Not that I haven’t done my research and know all the different parts of a drum kit and the names. It just doesn’t translate from my head that way. It’s almost comical.

I’ve had the same problem with guitar. The guitarist on Animalic looked like he wanted to slap me when my only instructions were: “Baywatch guitar… er… like a melody, like a shrimp (a sorta description of guitar playing in Swedish but very loose and open to interpretation). Someone once told me: “If you gave me those instructions I’d slap you”, but fortunately, musician on musician violence is illegal in Sweden, in spite of some old laws πŸ˜‰ … But if some could!… oh yeah…Β  We got through it. After all, one of the ABBAs is able to write symphonies without being able to write or read a single note.

I am learning as I go. In the meantime it’s good to have someone in tune with your head, getting your music and just knowing your instructions and your language. And musicians talking pets (we all have them) during coffee breaks and seals on the run in BorΓ₯s (you’re gonna have to ask me ;D). One day I’ll probably just get up there and give every expert the right lingo. In the meantime, I’m happy working with experts who get mine…Image
How the not-in-tune-musicians probably view me…

Rehearsals for 2014

They are on the go! πŸ˜€

We met up yesterday, quite a day. Morning offered something quite different, so going “rock star” in the evening was both needed and strange.

Rehearsals for march 8th, but also forming the intentions of the new album. Quite a ride. We are under more time pressure this time for different reasons, but personally I am pretty used to mixing the extra work (non-music) with music, using every quiet and free moment to do the music stuff and read up. Not saying I wouldn’t wanna do music full time. I’d love to tour extensively like Tori Amos. But hard work has never been an obstacle. Stress isn’t a factor in that way, many call me “Prozac girl” because I am so calm no matter what I do. I do admit, the non-music work suffers, but I am lucky to have people and bosses in my life that accept that. Of course I wanna do it all good, but if something suffers, it’s the non-music part, and I have that opportunity. If I didn’t, I might be more stressed out, but hell to the no on making less music. It grounds and centers me.

I have previously mentioned that I have by my own accord taken less other-work and more music work, not making as much money. I do realize that you can’t go “screw it all for my dream” and I haven’t cut down so much I can’t live. It’s a little less clothes shopping, a little more food and music. It just feeds me more. It’s a balance and I know it’s not always possible. But if and when, to the extent you can, do the work you love instead of consuming more. It’s always gonna make you feel more peaceful at the end of the month.

20140210-212248.jpg

The new gig

I started doing both singing and piano lessons this year and so far, so good πŸ™‚ I was a bit apprehensive at first since I did take singing lessons as young (or teenager, I’m still pretty young ;D), but the voice has sort of just developed on its own the past 10 years and while I master a lot of techniques and have a good strong range, I have no idea how I do what I do. I can even do the occasional growl, activate three voices at the same time, and I have awesome fun doing the “Joni Mitchell chest voice/ head voice break”. I just don’t know how I do it. “Errr, I have a whiskey shot and then I sing?”

But after researching exercizes and the voice I was actually giving the students “aha” moments from day one, something you always strive for as a teacher. And having fun doing it, because when it’s something personal, a biological instrument like the voice, and it’s notably improving, the students faces really light up. And guess what? Some of my stuff comes easier after trying the exercizes, so watch out, there might be some Christina Aguilera wailing on the next album!!

Faces lit up even more this week, as I braught them the homework. Being who I am, I bet it comes as no surprise that I love Frozen. Hands down the best animated Disney yet. Fantastic story, music, and of course the female portraits! So I thought: “I’ll sneak some empowering in here, I’ll give them ‘Let it go’. A few hadn’t seen it, but thought the song seemed exciting anyway, but the ones who had seen it! Oh boy, the reactions! And I love that young girls are embracing the film too, I think that’s very encouraging. I went to get the sheet music, said: “Have you seen Frozen?” and the ones who had went: “Ahhh ohhhh, yeaaaah, ooooh, please tell me it’s Le…” “Here you go” I handed them “Let it Go”… : “YEEEEESSS!!”

I swear, I had three of those exact reactions. Really looking forward to the energy next week! πŸ™‚

Recommend Frozen in everyway. It’s not just pretty damn feministic, it’s also cute, funny, wonderful and with a story and music to match!

Posting some of the Universeum photos below. The best ones were the fence and glass less ones, but I did get a good one of a depressed poisonous frog that I’m keeping to myself cause he looks so sad I might depress you πŸ˜‰ The shark tank is brill, tho!

Image

Image

Image

Image

IMG_0275

November 1st, 2013 @ 20:51:56
Frozen pic from rotoscopers

Happy Imbolc!

2:nd of february, where winter starts to lift, and with the thawing these few days I think that might be true! πŸ™‚

Started my saturday very non-musician like, got up at 8 a.m (whaaa, there’s an 8 a.m saturday?), loaded up with coffee and got driving on a messy, slushy road. Found a parking in mid Gothenburg (a miracle in itself) and waited for Silja and her non-synced trams. Just assumed I’d be the late one because I was taking the car so that’s why I left so early. The irony.

Anyway, our errand was being big kids at Universeum! Oooh, how I love the splashing animals, tiny monkeys and fell especially in love with the tucan with the michael jackson hair who was posing happily. And the skΓ€ggdopping of course, looks like the new one is gonna be just as social as awesome late, great Glufse. Great veggie alternatives in the cafe. For two big kids, this was awesome! We walked out with toys from the shop, of course. I got a mini-slinky and a spaceman magnifying glass. Took some awesome photos with the proper camera I might put up later, really purrdy πŸ™‚

Night with the wife meant drinking game; swipe the drink when there’s a key change in Melodifestivalen. We got pretty hammered…

Also got some pressies from Almira and baby Theo. Almira gave me a beautiful, glittery corset from Victoria’s secret which I will treasure always, although I can’t for the life of me figure out how I’m gonna put it on πŸ˜‰ Maybe there’s a reason women gave them up 200 yrs ago…

Today was all about gathering the strength from the fun I’ve had and refill the motivation. See, it doesn’t always have to be super special, 500 miles from you and luxurious. Artists need to live a lot to gather inspiration but as long as you love it, it can be happening in the backyard. Happy Imbolc and let the light in! πŸ™‚

20140203-000756.jpg

20140203-000820.jpg