Oh Christmas Tree!

“It’s late in the evening, the sun has gone down.   The neighborhood is quiet but I hear the sounds.”  I spent the weekend working on It’s a Lonely Christmas Without You.   I somehow managed to delete my project files and had to recreate it, which was a good opportunity to make some changes and I’m pleased with the outcome.  I hope your loved ones are near to you this Christmas. If not, wherever they are I pray they’re safe and sound.

Dance More!

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I took the time to re-edit and remix this project and this is the latest version.

Though I was born in Ashland, Kentucky, I grew up in South Florida where music and dancing is a large part of the culture, salsa dancing in particular and finding a club whose live band has a horn section is a common thing.  Hence my love of horns, Latin rhythms and dancing.

As a songwriter I address a variety of topics, but sometimes I like to keep it light, fun and simple.  Life is beautiful so dance more!

 

Civil Twilight

This is my first go at producing for another songwriter.  I met Carey Seward at the Fox and Goose in Sacramento.  Carey’s from Alaska and I was immediately struck with the quality of her songwriting and the uniqueness of her material.  She was only here for a short while so we chose to record two songs, Civil Twilight and So You’ve Been Told.

Civil Twilight was a term I’d never heard before.  It’s “is the brightest phase of twilight, when the sun is less than 6° below the horizon.”  It’s legal to drive without your headlights on in civil twilight.

Lyrics:

Winter sure was long and dark I felt the freeze in every part
fire burned down to the weakest little ember.
You can see right through me caving in and I wonder
what happened to all my friends
I’ve been down that hole since last November.

But I can hear the river ice a breaking
smash me up and carry me away
Icy water naked freezing shaking
with empty hands and debts I just can’t pay

Well the sun has turned it up to civil twilight
the dark ain’t gone, just waiting in the hall
so let summer burn it off, no I really don’t want to talk.
we can leave the lights off til the fall.

Verse2
Biking to the riverside the sun so bright nowhere to hide
we both are plump and pale and scared of other
supposed to have something to say but my mind is blank I’m not okay
I need meat and fire and beer and all my brothers.

For the orchestration I wanted to create a simple warm sound which I obtained with two alternating cello lines, one plucked and lower and the other a more legato line on top.  I wanted crisp clean cymbal sounds, a water dropping type of effect and a simple vocal harmony to reflect the awakening of spring and the fragility and tenderness of this piece.  I kept the bass sweet and simple as well.

Producing for another artist was a wonderful experience and gives me some options for what to do with myself further down the road.

Thanks Carey!
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Carey on Soundcloud

Carey on Bandcamp

Carey on Itunes

Blue Lonely Without You….

“On the radio… On the radio-O”

“Day and night, you’ve done me wrong.
Left me captured and aching my tender heart breaking.
this pain has lasted so long.

I’m so blue lonely without you
blue lonely without you.
blue lonely without you.

The trumpet from the corner
sings a likeness of you.
The moon has gone, she hides her face
maybe patience can change my fate.

I’m so blue lonely without you
blue lonely without you.

The streetlamp shines her soft light
in the darkness of my pain.
I thought I saw your silhouette
how your memory remains.”

This song was born out of jam session I attended in downtown Sacramento.  We kept returning to the theme and I came up with the words and refined it over time to what you hear now.  I’m thrilled to see Blue Lonely getting airplay on Vittek Tape and Records in Italy, Adelaide’s Coast 88.7 FM, Londrina Hits in South America, KTEQ FM, RSU Radio, Bundaberg Community Radio and Smooth Jazz South Florida to name a few.  Hello Oceania!  Thank you to Stephen Wrench and the team at Musik and Film for getting my material out on the airwaves.

You can purchase Blue Lonely via these links:

Blue Lonely on Amazon

Blue Lonely on ITunes

I’m working on a new blues song now, “She Learns The Hard Way” and I look forward to getting you more of my music!  Thanks for the support.  Stay safe and stay tuned!

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Blog image used under creative commons license 2.0

Tips for Musicians Who Work Day Jobs

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Tips for musicians who work day jobs:

1. Return to gratitude as frequently as possible.  Gratitude expands the heart and opens possibilities whereas resentment, frustration and discontent block creative flow.
2. Downplay gossip, it eats the soul and fuels discontent so avoid it at all costs.
3. Find a couple of good friend coworkers who appreciate all of your talents and your super hard working nature.  This is especially important if they make you laugh or bring out your silly side.
4. Try to catalog the funny office moments that may fuel or spark a song (Johnny with the weird gesticulations).  There’s a ton of great relating examples in the workplace.  What can be culled from those lessons and applied towards your craft?
5. Know that you’re setting a powerful example for your child (if you have children) as a responsible parent who remains dedicated to the craft.
6. Know that people in the community respect you.  Most people give up their dream along the way but you have found a way to contribute to and work with society without sacrificing your artistic integrity.
7. Find the aspects of the job you do like and try to grow those areas and minimize the annoyances if possible.
8. Return to number one.
9. Fake it til you make it.
10. Retire as soon as possible.  Focus on your plan for the future and manifesting your personal goals.

I have enormous respect for musicians who continue to do what they’ve got to do to support their families. Ultimately I’d like to see a better balance and monetary infusion for artists, in the form of generous grants.., something! Until then you’re a fierce soldier of your craft!

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Featured image used under a creative commons 2.0 license from Flickr
Photo by Paul Hudson 

Blurred Lines in the Music Business (Mimicry and Risk Aversion)

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Marvin Gaye’s family won the lawsuit to the tune of 7.5 million dollars.  So now Thicke and Williams have to pony up the loot. I’m a songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist and producer who strives for originality.  Now nothing in songwriting is purely original.  Most of us stick to the Western scale system and use I, IV, V as the root of our music.   Different formula’s for different styles but the fundamental platform in which we write a song has been an established paradigm for years.  So then what’s the problem? The business wants Mimicry! Repetition and for you to make it sound familiar!  One need only look to Glam Metal to see the obvious….lol.

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Making music is a huge business where ridiculous profits are possible (not probable for most).  Promoting the new and unique is akin to risk taking and like any big business, they’re risk averse.  They want to continue to reap profits from a proven method.  It’s understandable.  Fear of losing one’s paycheck is enough to incentivize them to want to err on the side of caution, so everything soon starts to sound the same.  Follow the rules, sound like someone popular, get to the hook fast, have production that sounds like the pro-sounds that the major houses put out.  One of the best examples of this is the Nashville sound, which has pretty much ruined country music.  The commercially produced music coming out of Nashville is sounding like pre-packaged meals, looks great on the outside, but inside it’s bland.  As long as the standard operating paradigm for the music business continues to be “do what has been done before,” we’ll continue to see judgements such as this.

We love songwriting for the framework, it’s like you’re given free range to roam within a certain set of rules and boundaries.  But there’s nothing new in the universe, so being creative is a challenge.  As a voice student, I was taught to never try to sound like anyone else, but to discover and cultivate my own sound.  The same approach applies to my songwriting craft.  I sonically isolate myself from popular music or even any music at all when I’m creating and let the words drive the melody.  Even with all safeguards, it’s still possible to end up with something that may sound a bit like something else.

To intentionally create music that sounds like something else flies in the face of true artistry, but we can’t help but wonder if the jury had really been peers of Thicke and Williams (meaning a jury of fellow songwriters) would the outcome have been the same?  I can easily distinguish the cowbell rhythm differences, and other major differences, but could the jury?

I use a submission service to place my music and I’d like to give you a little taste of my last rejection from Warner as it demonstrates this paradigm: “Hi Kally, First I want to say you are a true artist/writer.  I admire when an artist is not afraid to do something new.  The problem is, we work with straight middle America pop and RnB.  I wouldn’t know where to begin to place your project so for that reason, I have to pass.  If in the future I receive an opportunity that fits your style of music I’ll reach out to you.”  I’ll take the rejection over watering down my artistic integrity any day.

I’d be willing to bet that many artists get worn down over time and eventually bend to what the business wants, which is guaranteed profits.  It would be all to easy to sacrifice that integrity for the idea of “success” which is something every composer/producer must face.

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