Feelings…oh and I released an album today <3

Hello there.  This challenge, whew.  So far so good but it might have been silly to line-up the official first release with my birthday.  Feeling lots of things about getting older and having had it take so long to be myself, when I see 20 year olds seeming more themselves than I ever was (I was preoccupied with success and money and finding a career in music back then, now I’m a mostly-contented piano/songwriting teacher, accepting that my work is how I eat and pay my bills, while my “real” work in the world – no offense to my students – is releasing and sharing and creating music…the world just doesn’t pay a real yearly salary for that gift, and I’m okay with that now, though I still love to complain about it as I know there are probably millions of people like me – musicians, artists, poets, dancers, etc – who are not okay with it yet, and it’s a painful path of self-acceptance AND world-acceptance to get to a place of being okay with the fact that being a hobbiest DOESN’T MEAN you failed (wanted to change this to “doesn’t necessarily mean” and then said F*!% that, and rewrote it the original way I thought it in ALL CAPS), it means the world is a complicated commercial business adventure and most art is not practical or commercial.  And THAT’S OKAY.  THAT’S OKAY.  I wish I could get bigger and bigger with my font to break through to you, creative artistic person reading this.  IT’S OKAY.  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU.  YOU ARE PERFECT AND BEAUTIFUL AND MAGICAL AND FULL OF FREE AND CREATIVE EXPRESSION, AND IT IS THE WORLD THAT IS NOT MAGICAL, OR LACKING IN MAGIC OR BELIEF IN YOU.  People don’t know what they need so they wait for commercials or loud people or salespeople to tell them what will make them happy, and those people often don’t really care about making other people happy, they care about lining their wallets – and heck I do too, but I’ve found other ways to do it.  So when I share this music with you, you can trust me when I say, something out there wants me to share this music – despite it’s complete lack of commercial appeal – and perhaps there is something in it for you.  Some seed of knowing, that has been given to me, that maybe I can give to you through these songs.

But maybe not.  Maybe just read some lyrics, if you don’t like my musical style but you like the way I think.  It is all in there.  Every seed of how I think, and how I have let go of this world, is in my albums – the last two especially (the “sloppiest” ones).  Let go.  Letting go is the best thing.

I love my nieces and nephews and brother and sister and parents and boyfriend and friends more than I can describe to you.  They are unbelievably precious to me and if I could round them all up in one place and hug them every day, I would.  I truly would.  So letting go does not mean not caring.  I think it somehow has allowed me to care more.  I sense that this world is oversaturating all of us.  There are too many problems to fix, too many paths to go down, too many ways to show we care reminding us all the ways we are not caring enough.  And we are SHORT-CIRCUITING, getting by.  It is overwhelming and exhausting.  Also not to mention, all the disappointments, the ways we get our hopes up, the ways we try and fail and leave things and situations with a sense that we could have done more, could have done better, could have tried harder, could have been kinder, could have put ourselves aside, etc. on and on.  Infinity.  Ad nauseum.  THERE IS NO END TO THIS.  Here anyway.

Soooooo …come live on a cloud with me?

Love who you love, be who you are, say what you know, what is true for you.  Give what you can, let go when you can’t.  That’s all I know.  Love you all so much, especially (sorry to say this, it feels mean, but it is just true for all of us I think) the ones who make me feel seen and heard and understood on the deepest of levels.  I can’t imagine this life without having met you all.  It has been tragically painful for me, waking up year after year and realizing I haven’t been being myself.  Trauma will do that to you.  But I am grateful to be here, to be always becoming, and helping others ‘become.’

Oh and it’s my birthday, so if you like me, or if you want to give me a present, please just listen to my newest album.  First release of 12 over these next 12 months.  The challenge came in my head because I felt overwhelmed by all the ‘content’ created in the 365 challenge, but that none of it would be listenable as albums.  So the 2nd 12-month challenge was born. (I say it that way because of my favorite number, 212).

Here’s the link:
https://jessicaintherainbow.bandcamp.com/album/365-days-vol-7-or-misfits-in-love-with-the-world

Love you all.
Jessica

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Letting go of the need to have real downtime…

I was just thinking today, about how Bryan (my boyfriend) and I used to go to Family Video and get gummi candy and watch videos and fill time with nothing and everything and it was glorious and unformed and unnecessary and WONDERFUL.

Lately we’ve been so full to the brim that we don’t have time for more than the tenderest of passing moments – and they are tender and kind and full of love – but those breaks in the clouds where there’s infinite nothing, that’s been gone awhile. Since the 365 challenge I imagine. And for the month and a half sans challenge (Feb 12th to April 1st) I mostly was just dreading this year’s challenge…it’s so much work. And yet I wonder if the lack of any real motivation to finish work, and the love of the expanse of nothing, is exactly what makes my career feel so steady in its stillness.

So here I am, unfolding and doing and doing and doing…and I don’t feel still, and I don’t feel steady either. Tomorrow (Thursday) I’ll be on WYCE/GR Live (88.1 for locals, or streaming at grcmc.org at noon)…and this alone used to make me unable to function for a week. But in this case, I have a national touring artist coming to play a house show at our house the very next day…and today and yesterday I’ve been trying to get back into working on the album, plus we had cloudlight practice, I’ve been teaching all my lessons, we had a 3-hr bar music gig on Sunday that we prepped 20+ hours for the previous week, before that tons of work on this release, before that before that before that… it’s like scuba diving but not being sure what the source of air will be, or if you’ll need more sleep than usual, or like mountain climbing and the air is getting thinner and you didn’t take that into account (that you won’t have the same energy and breath support as usual). I lost my voice a bit from that bar gig and have to sing live on the radio tomorrow, and that alone would have had me in a panic a year ago…now it’s all just like water, washing over me, meaning everything and meaning very little at the same time.

If this sounds grandiose it’s cuz the shift to this new way of experiencing life has felt ridiculously significant to me…grandiose really. It’s not me. It IS me because I’m living it, and it’s WHY I’m doing this super-self-pushy challenge of releasing an album a month, but it’s not me as in it’s not a me I’ve ever been and I don’t know how to be it.

I promised myself that this year, since there’s no “Thoughts on Day whatever” videos to track time and progress like there were in 365…that I’d blog whenever I felt something bubble up like this. In this case it’s stress, stress and more stress. A kind of unresolveable stress because I’ve barely factored in time to come up for air.

My birthday is coming up soon, and I’m understanding rich people lately…how they work crazy hard and then go on lavish vacations. I’ve never gone on lavish vacations, or vacations at all really. Tours mixed with family visits mostly. Or the occasional weekend away, but almost never with a hotel. But this Saturday right after Johanna leaves we’re jettin outta town for a night…work hard, play hard? Even if “play” just means walking in a different downtown, eating somewhere else, swimming in a hotel pool or hot tub, or driving in nature, I need it. I feel it in my bones, they are aching for the pressure to let up a little.

Bryan wonders why I don’t just let up the pressure when I feel like that.

Okay…there it is. The sentence that made me cry. There’s always one. I never know when it will come when I start writing but invariably it’s always there, waiting to be discovered. It’s like gold to me, figuring out what it is that is causing stress or existential pain, unpacking it, taking it out, turning it around, looking at it until it’s not real or not the same…I’m always changed when I move through it instead of avoiding it. Changed in a good way 🙂

Okay so why don’t I let up the pressure if this is a self-imposed challenge?

Standards.

I’m already embarrassed that I’ll be putting ANYTHING up on my Bandcamp that’s lo-fi. I personally LOVE lo-fi scrappy music (i.e. “Messy Jessie” was my nickname) I find it cute in a home movies way, in a quirky getting-to-know-an-artist way. I couldn’t love it more. But there is an obvious flaw to it, and it’s easy to attack or make fun of, for anyone who DOESN’T love that style/kind of music. i.e. why is it so “bad” (sloppy) or why is she releasing these? they’re not ready yet, or “if only she’d fix x, y, z, q, potato, sunset, etc, these songs would be great [okay][listenable]”….

So I may love lo-fi music.

But I know most people don’t. So I’m afraid of those people. I’m afraid how much it will hurt to hear these words, or sense them. AND I know what it’s like to be a A+ student, from my whole childhood, and part of me feels like lo-fi music is cheating. Or getting Cs.

But I tried to raise a couple thousand to release some of these, and I’ve tried to make extra $$ in the past, and it just doesn’t feel meant to be…I think I’m meant to face this silly fear. I mean I already “released” 365 lo-fi songs last year. There’s just something though about doing it so INTENTIONALLY.

It also brings me face-to-face with how average my “best” may be. Like I’ve worked and worked on these 7 tracks to release next week, but they are still sloppy in many ways…I dunno. All this. This. This is why I’m not letting myself relax. It’s like my favorite kids’ book – “The Monster at The End of This Book” – where Grover panics every time you turn a page. I feel days ticking down. I said I’d release this first one on my bday, and each day I relax in my downtime instead of work, is one less day to work, which is one day sloppier that this album will be…and I’m afraid of who I may NATURALLY want to be, and not trusting the flow of the universe, that maybe wouldn’t have allowed me to have this inspiration if it knew I’d kill myself stresswise trying to “make” it happen.

Allow.
Allowing.
That’s what I want to do, and be.

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ADDENDUM: I’m a super wordy person, and this is a grotesque and terrifying experiment, sharing my journally thought process so publicly.  “Why not just not do it then?”  I don’t know.  Feels like I should.  Feels like it is a necessary compliment to releasing so much more music than usual, having a shareable place to process what it’s feeling like.  Maybe it’s foolish or crazy, to share so much without a purpose or expectation for why I’m sharing this…but there you go.  I don’t know.  And yet I’m guessing this will break the stress a little and my motivation will surge and clarify…something about sharing or journalling or talking with my sis or other close loved ones about heavy thinky stuff always does that for me.  Hope you all find ways to navigate your tangly stuff too.  xo Jessica

p.s. for those who can’t help but worry about me when I share so much, this could all be show stress…a radio show followed by opening for freaking Johanna Warren the next day, knowing I have to clean the house, prep my set, manage 20 other details still, and teach my students, is probably flooding my veins with its too-much-ness.  So anyway, love to you all, who care about these moods of mine. xo again lol.

everyday things… or “how i lose motivation”

Hello 🙂 I have been very excited to keep working on the remaining six songs, since releasing the first one on Sunday…however this is where life gets me.

I took on a few extra gigs this week – both outside of my comfort zone, one for kids (2 hour-long sets at the GRCM) and one for adults at a brewery (3 hours of music, including lots of covers).  While I’m excited about both, the time involved in prep for these is far more than my original 30-45 sets at more traditional music venues.  So I’m putting my enthusiasm on hold.

If I’m honest, this has happened A LOT on my life and recording career.  Like I get so excited to work, but the real world – i.e. things with deadlines or pay or that are strong expectations from others – take precedent and bump my work to the side.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a timely comment from someone I value…like “why are you recording another album already?”  And it’ll be enough to make me question and wonder about my strange prolific process, and think there are other things I “should” be doing.

I seem to be happiest when I treat this like a very time-consuming but very joy-filled hobby.

And when I keep my schedule open enough to really make time for it.

But historically, saying NO to anything has been nearly impossible for me.

Half the reason I introvert so fiercely is probably because if you remove yourself from the center of things, groups, relationships, etc – then fewer people ask things of you.  And when fewer people ask things of you, there’s much less to say NO to.

Sooooo maybe you relate?  I promised myself I would share the nitty-gritty of this process…and I am feeling anxious today because of Too Many Things.  And I want them all to go well.  But the one LOUDLY singing its song in my heart is HEY JESS, GET BACK UP IN THE STUDIO AND LAY DOWN ALL THOSE EXTRA PARTS YOU MADE UP IN THE CAR YESTERDAY! 🙂 🙂 🙂 (I listen back while driving, and ‘hear’ other parts in my head…it’s best to go to the studio soon after and add em while excited, otherwise they pile up and it starts to become an overwhelming monster of ‘slated’ work…plus that feeling of not prioritizing myself and this music starts to eat away at it, til I feel discouraged and sad, and that feeling in the studio is gross…)

Maybe after this gig tomorrow morning.  And practice tomorrow night for Sunday’s gig.  So Thursday.  I’m committing to Thursday 🙂  xoxo Jessica

p.s. if you have kids and live in GR, tomorrow at 11am and 1pm I’ll be singing a kid-friendly set (twice, same set!) at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum!!  So excited for this…the last time I played a kid-friendly set was the morning of Ladyfest at GH ArtWalk, and it became one of the top five performing experiences of my life, which is saying a lot cuz I’m probably up to 500+ shows by now. ❤ ❤ ❤ See you tomorrow!  Cover songs will include rainbows.

April 1st, the second challenge begins.

Jessicaintherainbowalbumcoverfinal.jpg

So I just released the first album into the world…and I feel a mix of emotions but mostly pleasant ones.  Here it is: https://jessicaintherainbow.bandcamp.com/album/365-days-vol-7-or-misfits-in-love-with-the-world

I’ll write more later I’m sure…rushing off to a busy day with Bry’s family, but if you’d like to read some feelings about the process, or the meaning behind the title, or if you’d like to hear a song from the album right now (free to stream, or available to download with a $2 preorder), visit my Bandcamp.  I wrote the liner notes late last night, in addition to typing up all the lyrics.  Album art by my dear friend and fellow tender-hearted misfit, Ryan Wyrick.  You can follow his work on Instagram at @tendermadegoods.

Thanks for following along!  The full album will release on April 17th. Bye for now! xo Jessica