I wanna hold you but…

Holding singing lessons, I’ve read up on things bad for the voice. Tomato, chocolate, red wine, coffee, salty foods. So I’ve avoided it. Leading not only to me not hitting the high note I usually hit at rehearsals yesterday (the brilliant sound is coming, thank you for asking), but also leaving mr Doctor worried about my low blood pressure (105/65). I have a body that thrives on poison. I’m not sure how to feel about that…

Anyways, knock on wood, there are wonderful people coming to my aid in the putting it all together, simply by daring to ask. I remember this one special thing I really wanted for the album, and so I asked someone where she got the help. She told me: “Well, it was already in the building, ask <…person I am friends with on facebook, made it easier…> but I don’t think you can borrow it/rent it and take it outside the building.” So I asked the person, saying “well, people thought you’d say no, but there’s never been harm in asking”. Getting the reply: “Of course, you can borrow it for free, let me just check that there’s no hold-up”. See. Never listen to that kinda stuff. Because… well, there IS no harm in asking! And you may be surprised! I’m not any more. I was in the beginning. Now I just know that the answer can be just about anything, and has nothing to do with the attitude I’ve met first hand.

Friends my age are still impressed by people coming together to help out good music. And I realized why I hadn’t been so “daring” starting up. I didn’t ask, and that attitude was all around me. So I’m telling you so it doesn’t take you that long to learn about this 😉

You want what you can’t have

There’s something to be said about how inspired you get when you just can’t play.

Procrastination works, it works fine, you have all these “have-to”‘s and you sit down playing instead, it’s very effective. There’s even a science in how you can get things done if you’re a procrastinator, very psychological 😉

But also, like now, when I have a cold. I mean, my fingers just ached for the piano when I had to lay down and rest with the fever. And now, when that’s gone, my voice won’t carry for a long period of time. And I just wanna sing. Wife A said: “It’s weird how much you wanna sing when the throat won’t let you!”. It’s pretty universal. I did swallow an unusual amount of tea (two cups, a lot for me) and unusually small amount of coffee (two cups, again, it’s me we’re talking about) and went rehearsing today. Of course taking it easy. I aints stupid. But how I had longed for it. And yes, we had to do it in intervals but it’s shaping up nicely 🙂

I can even tell you, when I was recording the first album, I was doing all these demos when a big cold struck. And I was making Like the girls on TV. I produced and put as many instruments on as I could before the urge to put demo song on took over. To this day it scratches my throat when I listen to it. I can just feel the pain. It really is one of the few song recordings I’ve made where the voice didn’t work with me at all, I have techniques where I can sing even when I get pretty hoarse, but that time… The voice was really going. I kept it as a dub underneath the “real” vocals, so those of you with good ears and knowledge of production can hear it if you listen carefully.

When I moved to Hultsfred to study music engineering I had another “can’t”-situation. I moved up early to adjust to the new surroundings, and my friends braught up the keyboard for me six weeks later. I was drumming things. Playing pretend piano on the table and the matress on the floor. I looked as insane as I was probably going. Some of my best songs were written up there. Partly becuase of that, partly procrastinating when there was math studies 😉 I was alone in a big house with only forest and squirrels outside when I wasn’t going to school, with the exception of friends and a classmate hanging out when I studied, and inbetween. So sure, that frequenzy of songwriting wasn’t even a challenge to tune in. Sorta like the “radio” was there and I only had to press the “on” button with the frequenzy ready.

Back to the present, it didn’t help that I put my Rufus DVD “All I want” on the other night as I’ve been listening to Want One and Want Two which the DVD accompanied. Wickedly inspiring, whatever album you fancy he’s still a master songwriter with an effortlessnes envied by Elton John and Sting (who appeared on the DVD, whoop whoop). And there’s Loudon Wainwright. And there’s Kate McGarrigle (<3 RIP). And there’s Martha talking about her stupid older brother annoying her when he pounded away at the piano at 14 (hmmm, do I recognize that kind of sibling comments? :P). And there’s this skinny 15-year-old with a perfect pitch. And there’s this grown man talking like a big 12-year-old (again, that I recognize) and I can’t believe he’s a dad now. She must be living on jelly beans (hint hint reference) if he doesn’t eat them all. And there’s this man, finally you see this grown man (positive grown up, usually that’s a negative adjective for me) when he says: “And I said look I’m gay to the record company, and I said I wasn’t going to hide it.” ❤ Only 10 yrs ago that was tough, still is, but tougher then, so exceptionally brave.

Watching him in the early days recording casette tapes, watching him later recording in a big studio… Oh yeah, no matter what he releases (I’m not fond of the new Best Of) there’s still this wicked inspiration to get just from watching him. I feel like a fab little gay boy listening to him. I know how that sounds but I love it.

Anyway, I did take my feather pen and sit by the piano for a while after watching that. Easing in to it. I mean, we don’t want to shock the voice and all that when it’s back on full track again, do we? 😉

Image

Image

Image

Judging by the music…

Spent the weekend gigging and judging a music contest for teenagers. I initially accepted because, honestly, I wanted to give it a go. Knowing music and history, maybe I’d make a great contribution. And it was pretty smooth sailing, there was concencus among the jury and we worked swiftly and easily together, but maaaan, I hated the judging part. I mean… Not just because I’ve been at the receiving end, but also, to judge fairly, you may have to critisize artists that have great potential, maybe greater than the winners. Me, I was old enough to know that in live competitions, i just have to enjoy playing live and putting on MY show, because artists like me and Tori Amos are NEVER gonna win these things, we speak to a certain audience, we’re not public entertainment like that. But these are teenagers. And I don’t feel like stopping the next great thing in its tracks. Hopefully they get so pissed off they work even harder towards brilliance, I’m not sure I’ll be doing this again. Remember that, competitors, you never know what that jury is really thinking about you and your future!

20140315-235836.jpg

Out in the cold…

… or rather… out from a cold! It’s one of those stubborn ones where you’re still well enough to be up walking, but shouldn’t work or drive a fork truck. Me, I’m a rebel, so while I don’t own a fork truck at least I get the more tedious parts of my work done, you know, the ones where you really just need to sit down and “do it”. Marketing, album arrangements (ie chasing people down and e-mailing), and more fun stuff like writing instrument parts, although melodica is not ideal as you need to be able to breathe through your nose with that one.

Using a mix of whiskey, cold medicine and ginger, true to form as a musician. Eating raw garlic purifies the blood, but you better wait ’til your alone for your friends and family’s sake 😉

20140314-163503.jpg

The dark night of the soul

“The dark night of the soul” is a poem by mystic John of The Cross, mainly it speaks of spiritual awakening, wandering in complete darkness and pain, purifying yourself until you find yourself on the other side. Sort of a soul purgatory. Suffer through it and you will be in a better place than ever in relation to the transcendent. There are numerous references to it in pop culture, and many see it as a sorta methaphore applicable to our life in general, when bad things happen, how we sometimes have to walk the dark night of the soul to carry on.

I see it as seizing to resist a wave that’s gonna wash over you anyway, and much slower if you don’t just let it. Unhappiness, and I am not talking mental ilnesses now, I’m talking about what we all have and feel at times, is a bit of a stigma. We only show and focus on perfection and happiness in social media. We’re supposed to drown the feel-bad out. Using coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, self help excersizes, therapy, medicine, pretty things, work, walks, workouts and self help books. OK, so some of these things are not bad. I even encourage them in healthy doses.

But when you suffer a loss like heartbreak, death of a family member/friend, or something similar, I mean… at least I need that Dark Night. Those few days where I just let go. I’m not saying not working or doing things that need to be done, but accepting that you might lay down on the sopha for a while and break into ugly cry. Feeling like you’re never gonna be happy again. Allowing yourself to feel that utter ache and saying: “Hey, I can’t take this any more, I give up, I leave this to chance/god/earth/the powers/the energies/insertyourbeliefhere because I sure as hell can’t fight it anymore” When I allow this, it usually takes me days to recover, not weeks or months (well, depending on what happened) and usually things that have been gnawing in my subconscious gets released and disappears as well. A mood cleanser, not counting the release of your sorrow. It works. If I don’t have to, I try not to be around people those days. Not for my sake. Not for the so-I-can-ugly-cry sake. But I am… shall we say “ynklig” (puny on the border of pathetic) those days, total buzz kill, neurotic, feeling unloved by dogs (ask my friend who visited this monday and got a perfect sample) and humans alike. Hey, it needs to come gushing out if I want it gone.

Because of the recent events I’ve already told you about, I’ve had a few of those days. They might have been fewer but I avoided splurting it out over my family who visited (sorry friend, that you got the blast, you arrived at point break), I’m still stupid enough to resist a while, even though I damn well know it’s a good thing. Because, lets face it, no one likes pain. Inoculations may be important at times, but we still don’t like to get them, right? A good thing is I find myself completely in the frequency of the creative world I’ve been talking about the days after it’s over. So I write, doodle, compose and create for whole days. Don’t get me wrong, it’s better to be in a good place and tune in to the frequency like someone with skilled fingers turning a radio knob, but hey, might as well make good use of it when it’s here, wouldn’t you agree? So I light the insence and get cracking. I go to rehearsals (had a lovely one today with talks of colonisation on mars) and get cracking. I watch films, listen to music and I just feel like I can do something with all of it. I create at work and at home.

I do recommend you read this poem. Even if you’re not spiritual, it’s eerily familiar. John of the Cross, Dark night of the soul.

Just to get all the references to it. I know Sparklehorse included it in a song and I do realize there’s a contradiction here as Linkous killed himself. But it’s worth a listen. And the poem’s worth a read. If anything, it gives you hope. After all, when there’s no hope left, you can’t even get to that level of ache, sadness and sense of loss.

I do promise my next post is gonna be a brighter one, the creative fingers wanted to do this post right now. I just wanted to shine a light on the poem, for those of you who haven’t heard it or it’s interpretation, or those of you who have heard the references and tried to figure them out 🙂

20140305-010950.jpg

Everybody hurts

Right now that’s the very definition of truth. A friend of mine died last thursday, a teacher, someone I owe a lot. Watching the fireworks in Skara new years 2011/2012, me and artist friend K met him and his then wife enjoying the spectacle as well. We were invited up to their place for a little wine and snacks and New Year’s talk. I was frustrated at the time as I was between drummers, and couldn’t find a steady one, hardly a temporary one. I’d been looking for a long time and I was like: “I’m too different. I’ve worked my way up to my level without, you know, the ‘status’ and ‘hits’ that make people wanna work with you.” to which he replied: “Ah, come on, Maria, you can’t do anything different than what comes out of you, and the world needs more different music, doesn’t it? Better you love what you do and make something unusual, gives you a hell of a lot more of a chance.” “Yeah, I guess”. “And I’ve got a number here for a kid who loves music and is a wicked drummer”. I took the number, waited for a day or two after new years and after a few deep breaths I gave the drummer a ring. And I play with him to this day, calling him my own personal metronome. He and the bass player are seriously my little music family, occasionally visited by a distant cousin putting guitar or violin or choir in the mix 😉

Most recently he put me in contact with my excellent boxing girls in the Ponies video. And come thursday, there was just this big picture of him in my newsfeed with a R.I.P under it. I just froze. And right after that I had singing lessons. I had to push it out of my mind. It had to wait. I couldn’t have a trembling voice or let the sadness take over, students (of any age) are insecure enough and beeing met by a sad face not knowing why is very demotivating. I kept the lessons before breaks going longer than usual. I couldn’t be left alone too long with my own thoughts.

On the way home I screamed in the car (the only place you can scream really when you live in an apartment) but I had buried the tears a little too deep. So I put on Big Fish and… release…

What I saw when I met this person was someone who inspired a lot of students, who surrounded himself with creativity and creative people, someone who was supposed to be around for a long time. It felt very unreal. Still does. If I knew this was going to happen, I would’ve thanked him properly for helping me out as much as he did. But you never know, do you? I guess we should get better at telling people these things. You never know when it’s too late.