About to embark on Album #2 (+feelings)

Hello…so I’m feeling a lot of things but mostly happy and wordy and teachy/preachy and this emotion or slew of emotions always turns on me.  Like, right now, I’ve shared so much on my friends’ facebook pages that you’d think my life is an open book.  Maybe it is at times, but not all the time.  Maybe this year it will be, all this blogging.  But I feel a strange push of energy and I THINK it’s coming from the fact that 4 shows this month being done now (all with their 10-20 hrs of prep each), I’m feeling the push of excitement to finally have time and space in my brain to REALLY dream about this year’s project…and the connections and collaborations are all melding together and I’m just getting really freaking excited to create so much.  It’ll be weird and polished and scrappy, in varying amounts, and involve working with more friends than I EVER have.  Which is scary and thrilling all at once.  Good thrilling.

Soooo here I am on what feels like too much coffee but it’s really just rest and sleep and time to dream meets one cup of coffee, and making to-do lists and existing as I am, I feel like I’m bouncing off the walls, having this free day to imagine and dream and get things done…  that’s what my skin feels like when I’m happy, and maybe you relate, how this can turn on you if not utilized well?  Like when I’ve had all this energy in the past, I often would get decision paralysis, and then not do anything “constructive” and by the end of the day, feel like I didn’t choose any one thing, and be frustrated and mopey about my projects.  These deadlines that I’ve put in place – the next ones being May 9th, May 12th, and May 20th, are staring me in the face (pre-release, video release, album release, all birthdays of friends, old and new ❤ which is fitting for my “friends” album…)

Here’s a little bit that I wrote about this upcoming project on my Patreon a few days ago…(if you want to be in my little secret private fan club, I give away stuff there and share more, or try to, or at least share things sooner like previews of songs on albums… it starts at $2/month http://www.patreon.com/jessicaintherainbow )

This past album, album 1 of 12 this year, was focused on some heavy themes…ways I’ve loved the world even when it felt like it didn’t love me back (i.e. hence ‘Misfits’).

This next album is focused on the abundance I keep finding all around me…even as a misfit I feel like I have a little tribe, or rather a ship of friends, haha, a “Friend Ship” if you will.  The more I’ve looked for it, the more I’ve found it’s always been there.  I feel more lifted up than ever, just learning what to pay attention to.

Soooo this next release will be a restored collection of many of the collaborations from 365 (for those who know Michigan music, there are ones with Fiona Dickinson, Micah from Breathe Owl Breathe, Jes Kramer, Tom Hymn, Bryan of cloudlight, Maddie Jackson, Van Lente, and more :), and maybe some older ones too, pre-365!  And even a new one or two possibly, if time allows.  

I’m calling it Friend Ship vol 1 because I hope to make a 2nd one someday that is fully in-studio and the highest audio quality possible.  But for now focusing on lo-fi stuff keeps me moving forward.  And I just plain like the sound of it if I’m honest.  Maybe you do too 🙂

That’s what is on my plate now.  I feel like I’ve had about 2 days to calm down, and relax and reconnect and re-observe what’s working and what isn’t, and I’ve (unfortunately?) used it mostly to make to-do lists and dream more about all these projects and write people about collaborations.  Like I’m a LITTLE worried already that this year of albums may leave me feeling less rested than usual, which I hope isn’t harmful for my health.

But if I’m honest, I have a TERRIBLE habit of thinking I *should* rest when I really don’t want to, and then all this hyper-excited energy would just turn on myself…when I force myself to chill when I really want to dream and work and create.  It definitely swings the other way too.  Some professionals call this “bipolar II” (less severe than Bipolar I, usually super-high-functioning and sometimes hard to detect, common in creatives and often manageable with self-care) – I did try meds once, for about 2 years, because of a really really bad (abusive) living situation at the time.  So I really needed something to keep me saner.  But over time I discovered that those meds made it so I couldn’t write songs, couldn’t really journal, or even dream properly.  In my case, since I build my life around creativity, that trade off wasn’t worth it.  So instead I’ve learned to work with the highs and lows, and honestly creating more has been an incredible solution.  That and having a *very* stable living environment.  Like truly no surprises.  I think people with my traits have a hard time finding the right partner, and I personally can’t imagine the unpredictability of something like motherhood or wild roommates.  So if you struggle with these things, my heart is with you.

So all this energy is because, I imagine, like a flood I’ve been identifying all the things I’ve put on hold – new biz cards, new tshirts, new stickers, new cases, plus I have determined the next two weeks to be the time to check in extra with my patrons, which includes sending out thoughtful lil packages and other extras, motivational videos, and something about shifting from a show-based to-do list, i.e. each show had a list for the week of the show and obvious concrete goals, to shifting back to a vague no-timeline based to-do list, is sending my mind into a cloud of “which thing to do first!” which feels very dreamy and exciting and scary and leaves a LOT of potential for me to let myself down.

And if I’m really honest, I’ve let myself down most of my life.

I don’t share about this much but I have lots of trauma in my past, and digging out from under it has been a lifelong journey so far.  I’m lucky to feel mostly hopeful and optimistic considering what I’ve been through.  And I hate talking about it because I know many other people with similar circumstances aren’t at this point or may never be.  I feel genuinely hardwired for joy, and all the bad experiences did a good job obscuring that, but underneath it all something in me has been pushing to get back there.

I dunno.  I wish I could, instead of blogging, just go around to all the people who’ve ever read anything I’ve written, and give them a hug and say it’s gonna be okay, even if it really isn’t for everybody.  Because hope has been the most transformative thing in my life.  I wish everybody had hope, or joy, but I know they don’t.

Okay well, I said I’d blog alongside this weirdo challenge.  I feel pretty freakin weird about this one, and want to sort of delete it.  But my desire to talk about just about anything is so strong right now, and it’s something that definitely gets in the way of my work ethic and creative process, or is a strange piece of it that I’ve yet to understand…like this too-many-words thing, followed by feeling unnoticed, can be misinterpreted by inner-child-me as unloved or un-needed, when really it’s just that I’m taking up a lot of freaking airwaves and I know that.  And I know that when I feel like this, I need to a) find a way to focus and get work done or b) remember to reach out to loved ones and REALLY listen to them.  Because honestly much of this hyper energy is LOVE, and I love all the people who’ve been surrounding me, and that love and joy feels overwhelming, and I should probably turn that love VERY directly onto those people who engendered these feelings in me in the first place.

Thank you to all who have made me feel so loved lately.  This month has been one of the most difficult and work-intensive of my self-motivated creative life, and it has also been the most eye-opening, enlightening, redirecting, clarifying and moving.  Like I literally feel moved to a different point on my own personal timeline, this month has felt like my usual 6-months feeling.  Sigh, if that’s what this challenge will be like, then I don’t know WHO I’ll be a year from now!!!  That’s scary and overwhelming in a weird way, hence, I’m guessing, all these feelings.

Anyway, love to all, xo and thanks for listening and sharing your truths.
Jessica

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1st homemade music video of 12 (tonight) + feelings…

Hey there…It’s been such a busy week and a half.  Opening for Johanna Warren in our home, my parents visiting from Minnesota, hosting and attending informal birthday hootenanies, prepping multiple shows with full band, including one this Thursday at Harmony Hall (GR), releasing an album, plus teaching, tons of other research/work… some have asked me why I take all this on (unlike some people who are paid lots of money to do so much stuff…) but that’s a story for another day.  Or maybe I’ve told it already, who knows.

I’m really writing today because I’m doing the finishing touches on a little music video I made during the 365 but didn’t have time to release with the song it was intended for, due to that darn “get everything done in the same day” phenomenon I used to live by for a year.  Wow, still can’t believe I put that stress and pressure on myself daily.  It definitely helped me get used to working harder but whew, glad that’s over.

Still I now have all these deadlines in my head for this year’s project, as I like releasing things on days that are important to me, in honor of people who are important to me.  So far I’ve done my oldest nephew’s birthday and my own, and today I would like to release the first music video in honor of my oldest niece, even though I’ve already released an album on her birthday (the day of her actual birth that is!)

It feels appropriate to have this first month be a month of sharing in honor of my oldest niece and nephew as I imagine much of being a first-born (two different families) is about being a leader, finding a path, and forging it.  I see it in first-born children (actual children and adult children) everywhere.

So as a middle child I’ve always admired these traits and been unsure how to find them in myself…I tend towards some classic “blame on being a middle child” stuff (i.e. people pleaser, indecisive, deer in headlights), so this newest forging-ahead year of challenges is me recognizing a way I haven’t been who I wanted to be (an OPENLY prolific lo-fi artist with crap tons of releases, rather than a closeted one, lost in wishing…), and just becoming it.

This song, and this music video, is all about what it feels like to follow your own internal compass.  I worry sometimes that it appears I’m preaching a one-size-fits-all approach to “letting go” and “being yourself” and “sharing your truth” but I deeply believe that not everyone is meant to be prolific and sloppy haha (duh).  I think that’s just part of MY compass.  Yours may be cautious planning for 5 years with one big moment of release.  Or, to the non-musician or artist friends, other variations on being not-so-public and a little or a lot more crafted and intentional.  I know this weird sharing of all my goofy faces and owl mugs and laughing alone and being giddy and joyful at making songs may seem strange to some, or all.  But I can’t help but have identified SO CLEARLY that this is who I’m meant to be…if “meant to be” even means anything.  I guess a parallel for non-fatalists is…it’s who I WANT to be.  I like sloppy funny quirky cool or dorky lo-fi things.  I like bizarre art and fanciful, whimsical creative types.  I like people who break the mold and push the boundaries and make their own rules.  I’ve always liked it, since being a literature major in college.  And at the music conservatory.  I always got a thrill learning about the weirdos and the non-conformists.  So fatalistic or not, I’m becoming who I feel I am on the inside, which may just be a reflection of what I’ve loved most in my life.  And I hope you all do the same, and I imagine that yours will look VERY different from mine…so as the song is about, I hope seeing my truth doesn’t distract you from finding yours.

Love to all, xoxo
Jessica

p.s. I will probably release the video around 11pm…as I’m running late for work. Bye!

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

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.

<>

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