Travel Whiplash

I’ve been back home for 2 days and I have just like, been so so so tired. I’m hoping it’ll go away soon, but it’s just so strange: it hit me so suddenly! I was fine while traveling, voice, body, brain all ok. But as soon as I get home, I crash. Wake up the next day and throat is all scratchy and icky and I try to sing and bleeeh it just does not turn out good. So I figured the day after traveling was no big deal, on Thursday, it’ll be fine! But nope – my throat still feels icky, and I have been trying all of the remedies and stuff I know to fix it. I decided to just practice today (I didn’t yesterday) and see if that helped me get back into the singing groove, and it did in a way – my throat felt less tense and strained mid-way through practice, so I’m hoping tomorrow it’ll be ok. After singing, I had some of my vocal tea and that helped a little too.

I was planning to do a certain cover for Halloween, but I think if that doesn’t work out tonight or tomorrow, I’ll release a track I’ve been working on that’s more on the eerie side. That is, if I get the demos for it done lol. I just want this post travel funk to go away, I really don’t like it!

Do you have any tips for getting out of a meh phase after a long trip away from home? I’d love any advice I can get!

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DIY Musicians Conference Experience

I’m writing this post from my hotel – I’ve been in the Illinois/Chicago area since last Thursday due to some business (and some hanging out with a friend XD) and one of those business trips, was going to the first DIY Musicians Convention sponsored by CD Baby. Basically, it was a convention geared specifically for DIY Indi artists, and every panel was focused on how to book tours, design your album covers, have successful album releases etc etc, and doing it all the grassroots way. This is the way I have, and will be building my career, so my Momager and I decided to go for networking and the panels and snizzy. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was expecting going to this thing, and I definitely wasn’t expecting to want to mingle and network because I’m a shy person. But after being there for a few of the panels, and seeing everyone interacting with each other, I just had to jump in and talk to people! It was so much fun talking to other artists. One of my favorite things was telling people I did Celtic music, and having them know what I was talking about genre-wise haha. So many times I get “…What’s Celtic music?”. I got to talk to people who had released albums, who had been touring for a while, who did so many different genres of music, and no one was stuck up or anything! I was so amazed at how supportive everyone was of each other, how no one was trying to one up each other and just everyone wanted to help everyone succeed in what they were doing, and were generally interested in the music people said they were doing/performed.

Another awesome thing? The people who were giving the panels just gave an open floor to everyone there to ask questions and stuff. Like they were standing in the hallways just chilling, or in the lounge, and when you stopped to ask them things they gave really in depth advice, and even gave their cards saying they’d be willing to help out if you contacted them after the Con. Just a really great environment, and I really can’t wait until next year’s convention. Unfortunately, I was only able to go to one day due to hotel mixups (the hotel saying they had a shuttle that would go places it did not -_-) so next year I definitely want to book a hotel closer, or in the place the hotel is being held so I don’t have to deal with travel to downtown Chicago and just can be there to enjoy it haha.

A lot more happened this weekend! But that shall be for a different blog post! This convention really got me geared up and ready to go back home, and go even more full throttle into making my career progress! When I get back home, I’m going to start working on the original I was working on before I left, and start recording the project for that video game song that I also was recording before I left. Plus stuff for my YouTube Channel…just so excited to get back, and get going! Rawr!

Finding Your Artist Identity

With so many ways to release your music, and so many different genres of music being popular, it’s hard to decide what genre you want to go into, or what sub-genre you’d like to focus on, what genre you truly love singing. When you say you’re going to do one thing, someone always brings up the question “What audience does that have?”. They’re trying to help, but hearing that question just adds to the already mounting frustration you have been experiencing while trying to pin point exactly what it is you like to sing. When, in actuality, you knew what you’ve wanted to sing all along.

YouTube is a great place to not only find videos now, but music as well. With YouTube, came cover artists, who sing anything from pop songs, to remixing movie soundtracks, to singing new arrangements of music from video games. YouTube is a great resource to us artists, but if you don’t know expressly what you want to sing, it can sort of be hard sifting through things. Your brain instantly goes to “Oh, I see this person has this many views, I’ll cover this stuff!” your brain never wonders how long they have had their channels up, and what makes them stand out as opposed to other artists. Is it the songs their singing? Their upload schedule? Their video quality? All of the above?

I’ve been struggling with my artist identity for a while. Originally, I just wanted to sing video game songs, then moved to singing those, songs from movies, and songs from TV. Then, I circled back to just wanting to sing video game songs, and Celtic-style songs that I like to sing. Classical, soprano songs, that sort of thing. Just anything I can put a Celtic spin on, along with my original works and fan arrangements, and covers of video game songs. And honestly? This is what I wanted to do from the beginning, and just thought no one would want to listen. But I’m happiest when doing this – like, who cares if I don’t get the most YouTube views right now? I’m singing songs I love, and working on arranging both original and fan works that I also hold dear to my heart. Views will come, and when they do they will be people who genuinely like to listen to my music, and who will hopefully stay fans. I realized this when just searching through YouTube for different video game music artists, and seeing them sticking to their genres (piano, Celtic, folk etc etc) and still performing and working with music they love. I was like “Awesome! So it is doable” and never looked back. Sometimes, wanting to post different things on my YouTube channel crosses my mind, since I do sing other things in other genres but…I shall simply do those for fun and post them elsewhere. They are great songs to sing, don’t get me wrong, but they just aren’t part of the type of professional artist I’d like to be.

So yeah: I think, for the most part, I have found my artist identity. I gotta say I’m very happy with it! I haven’t been this happy with my music in a long time: I’ve always gotten frustrated with trying to please the masses in a way, but now that I’ve committed to this path I notice I still have people listening to my music, it hasn’t alienated them at all from listening! What a relief! I guess I was worried about nothing, right? Now to keep on keeping on!

Sins of the Father Cover

So remember last week how I pretty much went on about how much I loved Sins of the Father from Metal Gear Solid V? Surprise Surprise: I covered it! Can listen to it on my YouTube or my Soundcloud, but below shall be the YouTube link. Hope you enjoy it, and if you do, leave a comment on the video!

Sins of the Father Studio version and Live version Analysis

So I get obsessed with songs and recently I’ve been super obsessed with Sins of the Father from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Like, I have never played a Metal Gear game in my life, but I freaking adore every vocal song from the series. So of course, when I first heard Sins of the Father, I was hooked! Recently, I found Donna Burke singing it live, and noticed some differences between her singing it in the studio, and singing it live. Her technique is simply spectacular: Like major props, she has such great pipes! I just wanted to break down the difference in her technique between studio and live because I found it super interesting how she modified certain sections of the song so she didn’t strain her voice. I’ll link both versions below!

Note: I can’t find the full version of the studio version on YouTube. There’s a verse missing in this version.

The first thing I noticed in the live version, as opposed to the studio is some sections, she pushes her vocals a bit more, and others, she holds back. In the studio version, it’s all pretty powerhouse, but the “Pride feeds their blackened hearts” that whole section, I noticed she reserves her vocals a bit. Does it make it any less powerful? I don’t think so – in fact, I found it super interesting that it didn’t detract from the song at all, but added another layer of intensity that wasn’t there in the original. Made it feel a bit more intense, because after that verse she goes into the belt of “The sins never die, can’t wash this blood off my hands” and it just really added an extra layer to the whole performance. The intro “Whoahos” the chestier ones her voice cracked a little, so she held back a bit on those, too. But being a person who has been working on covering this, those are so difficult to do and I am so impressed that she does them so well in both versions! Girl has major lung capacity, that’s for sure!

I thought it was cool how on the “Renounce what made you” instead of missing her timing on “Words that kill” that overlaps in the original, she just said “You” quickly and then went to “Words that kill” that section I was particularly curious as to how she’d do it, and I hadn’t even thought of doing that as an option because the “Made you” line is held out decently long. Liked seeing her do that work around! Just really love her artistry overall in this song.

Overall, I think the major differences are just being more subdued in the live version in those sections I mentioned before. The studio version, the only real subdued parts are the first two “Whoahos” in head voice for the opening and closing sections. Regardless of what version, I am just totally in awe of Donna Burke’s skills – I had never heard her until I heard her sing in the Metal Gear series, and am now a huge fan of hers! Now to hunt down more things she’s done…

Writing Short – My Fate: Atropos

Prompt: I can’t believe I still have this on my computer, but years and years ago I had this story concept that was going to revolve around the 3 Fates of Greek Mythology. The concept was that, the trio started human and this story was supposed to be how they got damned to Hades to be the Fates. I only got this section done before completely scrapping the idea, because I hadn’t plotted it out to a degree that I could successfully complete the story, but I may revisit this idea as a radioplay script one day! I forgot how long ago this was – but I want to say it was 2007 or 2008 that I wrote this.

Without further ado, here’s the short! This section was going to be from Atropos point of view.

Prompt: I can’t believe I still have this on my computer, but years and years ago I had this story concept that was going to revolve around the 3 Fates of Greek Mythology. The concept was that, the trio started human and this story was supposed to be how they got damned to Hades to be the Fates. I only got this section done before completely scrapping the idea, because I hadn’t plotted it out to a degree that I could successfully complete the story, but I may revisit this idea as a radioplay script one day! I forgot how long ago this was – but I want to say it was 2007 or 2008 that I wrote this.

Without further ado, here’s the short! This section was going to be from Atropos point of view.

I:I:I:I:I:I:
Fate.

This word has plagued me for centuries. I am one who loathes it, unlike my fellow man. Those others believe that fate is destiny, that it is unchanging. I spat on those who worshiped such a theory. What would the existence of mortals be if their lives were predetermined by the Gods.

If fate was not just a concept, not a foolish notion then I cared not. Even if fate was in play, it would not plague me. Those who wished to challenge me with such harassy would pay dearly for their mistakes. No one would dare decide my destiny, or challenge the fact that I was not in agreement with the peasants who wandered Athens aimlessly. I would not be challenged by anyone, not even the Gods.

I was filled with pride. My heart would not weaver with its beliefs. It also would not allow others to speak illy of them. If anyone dared cross me, I would strike them down with the power bestowed upon me by Hecate. It was this pride, this foolishness that gave me immortality. Many believe that this is a blessing; therefore, I wish to spit on them once more. My immortality is nothing but a curse. My pride cost me freedom. Now I am doomed to reside in the birthplace of fire.

My tale is not a tragic one. The consequences of my mortal actions were great, but necessary. Such a man did not deserve to live. I enjoyed watching his life, his entire world be destroyed simply by poisoning the mind of another. Unfortunately, the Gods were watching; and thus, I was damned to this fate.

Perhaps you should enjoy the tale of my banishment. I suppose I shall tell you if simply to retain my sanity. My tale begins, on a warm summer day in Athens.

My Song Writing Process

I know a lot of people write in a different way, so I figured I’d outline how I write my lyrics! I have a few different ways I go about things – it really depends on what comes to me first. I’ve seen some people say they do like, an idea board or something to outline the song, but I’ve tried doing that and it super didn’t work for me. It worked for maybe like, one song, but it was a song that I was making for a pre-existing video game score so it was a lot easier for me to just write down certain emotion’s and roll with it. But for original stuff? Doesn’t work for me. My brain is far too disorganized for stuff like that!

First thing I do before coming up with any songs, is coming up with an outline for a few song concepts. I get inspired by things around me – usually nature, and different life motifs – like a random thought that crosses my mind, or a story that I just think of that I go “Oh, I could spin that into a story”. I love songs that tell stories, as opposed to more dance and pop sounding things that are more structured around over-arching themes, so first thing I do once I think of a concept is outline the story that will take place. I brainstorm a few outcomes for the ending, but make sure I have a solid middle, beginning, and end (or multiple endings) for the story before writing. After that, I usually go straight to writing the lyrics, get those all done and then think of a melody to the lyrics and sing it out loud. If some lyrics don’t fit the melody structure at that point, I go to the lines that are sticking out and re-write them so they flow more easily in the melody. There’s been a few times where I’ve come up with the melody before writing the lyrics, but that’s been rare – I find it a bit more difficult to write lyrics when you have a melody structure you’re trying to fit into, but I tried it nevertheless and got the lyrics done. Haven’t recorded that demo yet, so we’ll see how that goes! But none of this happens for me until I finish my first step – which is the story plotting and outline. Pretty much, I treat my lyric writing like I treat my script and novel writing and it works well for me.

When I’m trying to come up with my background instrumentation, I really just sort of…wing it. I have the lead vocal melody charted out beforehand, and just sing things until I find something I like that would fit behind said melody. This phase for me is a loooot of trial and error, and I always just record a really rough demo of the lead vocal to have as the backdrop for my arranging. This is one of my favorite parts honestly, because it’s a lot of creative trial and error.

And that’s pretty much how I do it! I record everything that I think I would possibly use, mix, then listen, then see if I want to add anything else, or tweek things for the song. Sit on the track for a few days, and if I can listen to it without going “Eww!” to a certain section, I am done with it!

What about you, do you have a writing process you like to employ for your projects? I’d love to hear in the comments!