Heyyy. Here’s a little blog entry for ya, or for myself, I honestly don’t know who I’m talking to anymore.
Long and easy work week. Lots of emotions, lots of time to work through them, lots of stress I think that’s what people call this…
To stress yourself out for a dying industry, I honestly don’t know what or why I’m doing any of this. I’m just a ball or bucket of stress lately and I will not see a penny from this and it’s not fun I want to just watch Netflix and cry for centuries, all the people walking both ways for water, all the people starving, my luxuries, my easy treetop perch, my tree to sing in or on or whatever metaphor I’m on right now…
I miss last year’s challenge when every other day I could phone something in, half-ass some strange YouTube video that you could barely hear, just to say “i did it” at the end. Trying extra hard some days, if it was fun, but mostly not. Just a song. Just the fun creative part.
Now I feel compared to. Compared to my own past albums, compared to other people every time I use the word “release” – I’m “releasing” an album. It’s like, no you’re not, you’re doing a challenge…that’s apples to oranges, you’re cheapening the word Jess.
But I AM doing a challenge, and I can’t tour these albums, cuz I’m too busy, and I wouldn’t want to tour half of them or more, cuz I haven’t REALLY finished a REAL one in ages…since Misfits or maybe Childhood…I mean Survival Skills was polished too, and great, in my little humble personal opinion, it is good songs, but it is old songs that bring m e pain so I wouldn’t tour that. And who tours or plans a music video for songs they wrote in Elementary School. I mean, I was planning that, but the balls got dropped, kids and families were making clips for me and I followed up a bunch but it fell thru, for now anyway, and maybe that’s for the best…
The music video addition to the challenge is/was pretty epic.
I also failed on my “walk every day” challenge. Been off that for about a month. Or two.
It’s been hard. I don’t know how to have such a split focus anymore. Albums, recording, performing, preparing for shows, being in a band, focusing on new members, adding temporary members to my solo project, teaching piano, running a business, doing accounting and bookkeeping, being my own boss, promoting, making sure I’m doing enough to earn a living, always feeling a few steps behind.
I think I don’t like this challenge. I think I’m trying to “use it”, as an opportunity. Why am I so afraid of myself, my natural self, in the arts – i.e. sans challenge?
Because I’m disappointed that I’m not like others who are succeeding.
I see kids write albums in childhood and just release em.
People write angry or punky or sad songs in their teens and 20s and just make bands and practice and FOCUS and go for it. They just do it. Maybe they change then, or outgrow it, but it’s not this thing they wanted that they then STIFLED. That’s my reality. My whole life’s reality, after 6th grade. Things I wanted to be or become and stifled. I don’t know how to stop telling that story. I guess I am wanting to do this. I want to do this blog. I want to release these albums…maybe skipping months if I’m tired, make up my own rules, why not!? I mean, I released two albums already this month – More Survival Skills, and a preorder for Chicago Albums 3-12, but I decided they don’t count (AHHHHHHHHHHH! why?!?) I don’t know if this is because they weren’t the one I “slated”…I don’t know what I think anymore. I think I just need less PAST stuff up on my page. I need something new or newish before tomorrow night ends.
If it’s a few days late, maybe I’ll be okay with that.
These rules. This game. What is it? I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself!
This blog is for posterity, so I never forget how hard this challenge is. It’s awful. I hate it. It’s like having a job but the job is just showing up for myself finally, not getting paid for it. Just following through finally on the albums I wanted to release for forever but kept letting whole YEARS tick by,.
Did you know I also want to finally finish scoring my old original musical that I wrote in college? It has a lead sheet and script but no piano score, cuz I always play piano when its produced. And there’s recordings of all the songs…but that’s the next “past” thing, after the 130 songs on “Chicago” are finished releasing (I have until November 22, cuz of pre-order timelines/limitations, and they are too scrappy to release as is, so I’m having to add filters to smooth out the sound, albeit more lo-fi but that’s okay…but it’s time consuming work, I hope to have motivation to finish it but I keep wanting to avoid all this work whenever I don’t “have to” do it…i.e. not a final week of a month…my own standards keep lowering and lowering…like I have no real ambition or hope for this to mean anything other than “hey look, this is how to be prolific” and maybe I can lead more workshops on writers’ block…at this point, I’d be happy helping kids write musicals again, running CAMMPs, something I developed years ago i.e. Create-A-Mini-Musical-Play…it was fun and helped pass on my love of creativity…if I could travel around and inspire and help people create in this way, or via creativity workshops or talks on self-esteem and blasting thru PTSD using creativity…I’d love this. This is what I really want at this point. To talk to others, to help, to lead, to inspire…my music is so weird and insular, I have never really developed a huge fan base or even really a small one…some die-hard fans here and there…but I just don’t understand what people want, or how to be what they need, even tho I feel like I have so much to give. This world just breaks me. It breaks my spirit. So many people have tried to help me be more commercial or successful, and honestly I just don’t think I have it in me to figure out what is successful in this world, or how to pretend to care about those things…
I wonder if other failures have woken up one day and suddenly realized that was the team they are on.
I was an A student all through school, won competitions, scholarships, special awards, creativy ones, had what felt like a Midas touch for awhile…everything musical, so long as I didn’t have to run the business part, if I could swoop in and music direct or lead kids or write songs, and others could make it businessy and successful, then I was gold. This went on so long, even my musical in college was a resounding success. But I worked on it for over a year, focused, and with love. Like the few albums I went all out on.
But even in the case of the musical, which I’ve produced multiple times, it always went well because I was in places with resources and had help. A youth group that loved me, a school (university, later grad school, all their resources, or the high school I was an accompanist at, which allowed me to create programs and extra-curriculars…)
I have always needed help. With anything that involves organizing, structure, systems, etc. I honestly need an assistant, to learn how to market and promote and be a business…but there’s just no money coming in, and its a catch 22 because no money WILL come in I’m guessing without an assistant.
Well I guess I’m not pretending anymore…did you know I’d like to be more successful?
I think I act a good game, that it doesn’t matter to me, cuz when I’m around all of you I hug and smile and TRULY do just feel loved that a few people came…or more. But in my heart, home alone, it hurts to not sell records, to love my own music so much and feel like its a faucet to a gift that’s all sparkly like unicorns, but when I look at the world I understand that without polish or branding or help, it’s too messy and weird to be palateable to strangers. And this is where I normally say “and that’s okay.”
I think when I’m not working hard it IS okay.
I think that’s a catch 22 / chicken egg thing too… in that, the reason I stopped working hard is partly because my quiet solo weird music wasn’t catching on. Playing with cloudlight is partly a dream because I’m with others who infuse it with their energy, and the mix of us is pretty sparkly…and its good, and it catches on more than I do alone it seems. Power in numbers and all that. And I like that. And it doesn’t hurt myself esteem anymore for that to be true. At first when we made that band, I felt weird about how much more attention it was getting than I ever did solo. But honestly, I feel a pull and a magic with Bryan, and I love harmonizing, so that love and joy in singing those songs – even the saddest ones – probably ripples out into the room.
So that is nice.
And honestly learning that I might want to focus more on paying work, if I’m going to work THIS hard, isn’t the worst thing to be learning. I want to complete this challenge, and I’m glad for all these past songs to have a place to live on the interwebs, and it was SUPER educational singing them again and playing them…but it also made me feel REALLY current.
Like so current, like all that past is a wisp of smoke, a puff of nothingness, a sentence, a void…just , gone, let go. Like that. Done.
So now, to have 115 more Chicago songs to clean up, just to say “look I made all this” just so people believe me when I say “I write hundreds of songs a year and have since 2014, and maybe 50 a year since 2008” they’ll be like “well duh, obviously that’s true cuz look at all that crap you have online”…whereas before I was so scared to be out here that you would never know I was prolific except for me talking about it. Which was annoying. And HAHA I’m sure this is far less annoying (lol haha jk its annoying I’m sure…maybe not to anyone who reads this far).
I’m tired and “backed up” and have been meaning to post since my week of two shows and Girls Rock volunteering in Grand Rapids…all that crying, performing with sunglasses…I think I’ll go on my social media and find all my super serious posts from the last week and a half or two, and post em here for posterity, cuz I went thru some really heavy sh*t and didn’t write about it here, and I feel like I’m becoming a different person and I think its been alarming those closest to me, but it’s like snakeskin, it’s just falling off and I’m being my inside-me and I don’t know, it’s not scary to me but I see how it could be scary to some who know me as someone who is historically good at holding it all together a little more privately. I don’t want to be a spectacle, but I can’t help it right now…this challenge is too hard and I can feel the energy backing up when I don’t write about it.
But to anyone I know casually, or in a professional setting, I am still the same me…this is just a weird journal splattering thing I’m doing while getting through this “release an album a month for a year” challenge. It hurts. Like I feel like I’m going against nature. These are supposed to be birthed, so to speak…and I’m pushing, way too hard, and trying too much, but trying not to try, cuz I hate the sound of trying…but I just …I don’t know what else to do. I have to finish this challenge. I didn’t know it’d be this hard. I didn’t know I’d be inspired to release all this PAST STUFF!?!!? I didn’t know the boxes of stuff in my house pre-2014 would bother me so much, fear of seeing old stuff pre-divorce, from other dark times…I just didn’t know. I guess I should have slated 12 specific albums. Instead I keep letting the mood of the month decide, and my sis moving and family visiting flashed me back so hard…and it all started with those dang songs I love from 1st thru 7th grade. That Childhood album is probably the most important one to date, for this challenge anyway. Those songs were my everything at that age. I mean I loved art and dancing and so many things, but that became my identity, especially in 5th grade. Performing original songs. I had such good self-esteem back then…puberty was so messed up for me. Did I say that already? Yes, like 10 or 100 times? Okay, well…I don’t assume people read these so please forgive me.
I think that’s it for tonight. I want to finish this album tomorrow, or close…and I hope it turns out okay, but to be honest, it’s getting boring spending SO much energy on albums I can’t even send to the local radio station because at the base of them are those lo-fi recordings from last year’s 365. “If only” I’d used a better mic or pro studio all last year. About to release a new Friend Ship – with all these great collaborations – but it’s a little handheld recorder for part of it, with some background sounds, like “Misfits, in love with the World” and I ran out of time to edit as much as I did for that one. So the levels aren’t perfect. I did SO much work on Misfits, and I love it SO much, only to realize I can’t send it to radio or charge much for it – because even with all that crafted polish, it’s still DIY lo-fi and you can’t fix that if the source recordings are like that (like field recordings, almost impossible to make perfect or clean enough for radio then). And I LOVE those songs, so it makes me sad…and motivates me to start recording things that are much cleaner. Even my album from last November that was made in a weekend is cleaner, because the original source recordings are made in a studio. No stray sounds, good mic placements, etc.
I feel motivated. I wonder why I need to “learn for myself.” Parents, this is why you should let kids make their own mistakes. People always tried to talk me out of my lo-fi love, but it made me want to rebel against them…I liked the sound of lo-fi and still do. But some of my favorite lo-fi musicians sound just as good if not better when all polished up. So I think if I’m gonna work so hard, I wanna have something I can show for it – that I can sell and send off and really be proud of and feel is professional. I’ll still finish this challenge, including all the lo-fi gems “slated” for upcoming albums (vol 1 is cute, and vol 5/6 is sad but hopeful in a weird way…I think that’s it, plus the Friend Ships, there are two more after this one…oh and a restoration project from December 2015…sh*t I guess its a lot of restoration…maybe I’ll change my mind, I don’t know if I can handle this much work for no purpose…unless I found all my fellow lofi lovers somehow! that’d be a dream! I know there are fans of lofi stuff, but lofi lullabies? weird piano/keyboard/space sound/street sound/noise and quiet singing existential ditties? i dunno…I wish I knew my genre so I could tag correctly, I feel like the more I make up my own genre, the less I know where I belong…existential pop + dream folk is my recent tag, sometimes bedroom pop, or freak folk…but i don’t feel like a freak…those kids are cooler than me, I’m just weird, tho honestly i don’t feel weird, mostly i think anyone not being like me, sharing everything and creating things all the time, is weird…but i guess its weird if you’re weird and think you’re not weird, so i guess i’m weird, i think i just don’t WANT to be weird, i’d rather be normal or accepted by normal people, or liked by all, but also i want to do whatever i want even if its weird and have that be considered cool or normal or inspire others to do the same things…and i guess its weird to even have that expectation or hope, i should just be okay to do my own thing, but i never have been okay with that, it feels lonely, like i’m some weird island, when that’s not what i’m trying to be, i’m trying to connect with all of you, and be liked…well, if i’m honest, every time i’m liked i’m liked really passionately, and it usually overwhelms me and then i accidentally push those people away, especially my super fans, and i don’t mean to, i just get overwhelmed, like i don’t know how to be or what to say, like i always fully engage but then get exhausted…cuz i only talk this much to clear something out of me, not to take more in, or inspire more to be said, especially not by me…this is me trying to let something go, not start a conversation).
What a mess. Sorry, world. I would do better if I could. I *could* go on medication, but then I couldn’t write. Or not as much, or with as many swirls and doodles. And I love swirls and doodles.
Maybe I’ll sew stuffed animals again soon. Did you see that, in 2011, from the kids’ album with my ex? We – I mean I – made stuffed animals, and stuffed magnets, and all kinds of cute merch. Don’t look it up, it’s dead – I gave him the rights to the album. But maybe I’ll make new characters someday. Maybe I’m so sad this month cuz I’ve only really been eyeball deep in old sad songs (high school years thru mid 20s…oh and late 20s/early 30s last week with the Chicago albums). Maybe I need to move on and really hear other sounds…really lighten up again…kids music, christmas music, or just these friend ships.
OR I should stick to the slated plan and work on Tiny traumas, adding up (or ‘out of body, in your skin’) next month. At least those are current trauma songs. Ugg…
Saying a prayer right now. I hope this is helping someone, more than just me. I get the overall feeling this will help me more in hindsight, than while going thru it. Love to the world. Sorry again that I’m so down right now. xo Jessica