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

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:

Love you all.

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?


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.

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.


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

Notes between two year-long challenges…

Hello 🙂

So there is a reason these things are called CHALLENGES.  I am finding myself really not ready for another year long challenge.  I am tearing up right now in fact.  Something in me shifted so deeply in the last one…that I became comfortable being seen, as I am.  Nothing to hold back, nothing to hide really, and it became fun, but not without a whirlwind of emotions that demonstrated to me the reason I’d held back being so open in the first place.

So now I’m about to embark on a harder-for-me challenge…as it involves pacing the work, not just showing up every day and sharing any ol thing.  I’ve lost an ability to schedule out projects somehow, maybe without a supervisor “forcing” me towards a deadline (internal “good student” who only does work for the rewards from others?)  I don’t know.  It’s broken my heart over the years, to see myself care so much about certain songs and projects and then give up on completing them, so easily.  Giving up became my middle name.  But I haven’t had to come to terms with it.  By calling all the projects “slated” – for some future date.  Despite the constant increase of piled up projects, it never occurred to me how unlikely it’d be to magically change personality types and start finishing everything.


Hence challenge #2.  It felt too unfinished to have a free-spirited challenge year, of writing so much, but then continuing to be afraid of my Bandcamp and formal album releasing, continuing to never release anything, or rarely, and just keep “slating” things for the “future.”  I expect this will be a year of a lot of tears, a lot of resistance, a lot of old feelings bubbling up.  The main thing I’m reminded of right now is how when I put over a year’s worth of work and hope into my first real studio release, I a) butchered the release (didn’t know anything about how to hype it up, how to line up a release party venue, didn’t know about press releases or contacting press in general, and more), and b) I felt that even among friends and family it wasn’t a very big deal overall.  Like a moment of “yay you finally did it!” followed by life as usual.  Which made me really question the purpose of all that work.  It didn’t lead to a recording career, it didn’t even lead to very many people listening to the music.  And I think – if I’m really honest – that feeling translated into “failure” for me.   I know in my heart that it’s just a saturated low-paying “industry” (no offense to the music “industry,” but industry implies people being paid – and most musicians are not, or far less than minimum wage) and I’ve learned a lot about releasing since…but it still is a hard pill to swallow, that musicians all over the world are doing an insane amount of low-paid or unpaid work, every day, to share music and culture and entertainment and deep emotions, and very very few of us get to do it beyond hobby status despite all these efforts.  That feeling was so overwhelming, and has been bubbling back up…especially since I invested $200,000 into arts-related grad school right after college, on the hope of financial success, which is a terrible strategy and I really think young kids shouldn’t be allowed to do that.  If I could go back in time, that’s one thing I’d change…cause it would help me pop the fame/money dream a lot younger (I am trying to pop it now, embracing my lo-fi love of music…how I’d rather release lo-fi music than no music at all).

So writing all this has only made me feel weepier…which is to say, I think this will be a useful process.

In my life, I have journalled so extensively …and kept it all to myself.  I knew that starting this challenge I would want to share the journey with anyone interested in experiencing it.  Or watching me experience it.  But I didn’t want to get lost in cute videos and being silly again, because YouTube is addictive for me 🙂 And while I like that…there are some deeper themes that really make me cry, about this world and industry, that I think will be safer to share this way.

So welcome to Blog post #1 of the 2nd 12-month challenge…
Or rather the “test blog”…
I don’t know how I feel, still, about being so transparent with the world.
But at the same time…I feel like I read too many articles in my mid-20s about what to say and what not to say.  How to be this and not that.  How to not mess up.  And I think my mind is a tangle of BS rules that haven’t served me and have only made me hide in a bubble.

And I just don’t think they are true.

Do you really want to watch me flail for another decade, trying to imitate successful people and not do the wrong thing, or is being myself more interesting?  (I know I’m wordy but I still think it’s more interesting…)

I dunno.  Hope you all look inward today and find what it is you’re looking for…or what it is you actually are…and then just be that.  Most everything else is just clouds and fluff…meaningless on our deathbeds, I think.

xo Jessica

Day 364!


Writing one last time to ask for your support!   Today is Day 364 of my 365 Day Songwriting Challenge.  I’ve made friends and too many magical moments to count, and tried to share them all with you – to the best of my scrappy ability (still had to work and be a person this year, doing anything daily for a year IS as hard as it sounds).

If you enjoy my music and want to support this year of hard unpaid work, there are two ways you can do this!

PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/jessicaintherainbow
I am always so grateful to grow this little team of diehard supporters – some who love me for my music, others who just love me for me and see how much this means to me.  Your support here means you get little insider messages and gifts from me, from unreleased mp3s to packages in the mail.

KICKSTARTER:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jitr/12-albums-or-eps-in-12-months
This fundraiser ends tomorrow and honestly it doesn’t look like it’s going to make it, or even close.  But I’m raising $2,120 for next years 12 albums/eps in 12 months challenge…because who releases 12 albums/eps in a year?  I think I’m going to be overwhelmed with the hidden costs of that and I don’t make much extra per year as a piano/songwriting teacher, so I’m trying to be proactive on the front end.  And your donation here REALLY just buys you little goodies 🙂 (tshirt, CD, 15 min piano lesson, etc)

Thank you all again for your support, for listening, for the likes and loves on posts and shares…I feel like I’m finally becoming my real musical self and it feels pretty cool, starving artist or otherwise.

Love and hugs xo

365 Day Songwriting Challenge:
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