Saturday, May 18th marks the debut of a side project I’ve been working on with guitarist, Pauli Gray, called Shot in the Dark. Pauli comes from a hard rock/punk perspective in his guitar playing and I of course am all about the synthesizer. We decided to meet in the middle with out influences, and so we’ve put together songs built on an electronic rhythm section with hard rock guitar to roughen up the edges. Vocals tend to be a bit punk and we’ve got touches of dark wave and industrial thrown in for good measure. The goal is to keep it high energy and fun. It all takes place at Wild Side West in San Francisco with a start time around 6 pm. It’s also a fundraiser for AIDS LifeCycle. It would be great to see you there!
Archive for the ‘Light Phases’ Category
Tags: AIDS Life Cycle, fund raiser, live music, Pauli Gray, San Francisco, Shot in the Dark
Tags: cynical, Facebook, gifts, Holiday, New Year, New Year's Resolutions, positive affimation
Goodbye, 2012. You were a pretty good year.
New Year’s Eve has always been a bittersweet event for me. I remain a creature of possibility. A hard, fast ending that involves a countdown followed by a melancholy tune rhetorically questioning if we should forgot the days that have gone by can reduce me to tears as I realize all that could have been won’t be. At least not this year. But then, poof, here comes 365 days of possibility, wonder, amazement. You can’t turn down a fresh start.
I’ve become a little more fluid in my thinking these days and have recognized possibilities and fresh starts are available almost any time or place, but it still feels good to demarcate the beginning and ending of 52 weeks. It makes it easier to look back and say things like, “That was the year my youngest son started school;” “That was the year my oldest son grew taller than me;” “That was the year I began to feel like if I put in the time and effort, I could really become a musician;” “That was that year I felt my life had come together and I became aware and amazed by how much love and beauty surrounds me.”
Actually I would never say that last sentence because it’s a little too New Age-y for me. One cannot thrive on the power of failure and fully embrace the positive affirmation. It seems to me positive affirmations are tossed around far too willy-nilly these days anyway, and often I sense there is a less than positive subtext beneath. In my cynical little blackened heart I feel that the much touted “I’m so blessed” Facebook status update translates into: “My life is soooo much better than yours.” Seriously, if Mother Theresa were alive and on Facebook she wouldn’t be posting how freakin’ blessed she is every 15 minutes! Get over yourselves, people! You’re trying too hard, and I’m pretty sure all those pictures of your family have been heavily retouched!
Ahem. I feel better now. But this does bring me to the obligatory list of New Year’s Resolution. My first resolution is to limit my Facebook time to one session per day (and preferably a session that lasts no more than 5 hours) or at the very least,to figure out how to turn off the status updates of the Facebook friends who annoy me. Beyond that, I should work on my self confidence, but then I realize I would never be able to do that, I just don’t have that kind of strength of character. So instead I have resolved to take up a bunch of low level bad habits (like not flossing twice a day or biting my nails) and then next year I can resolve to stop doing those things, which should be fairly easy to accomplish, thereby boosting my sense of self worth. Sometimes you have to look at the big picture with these resolutions. My final resolution is to have the mess from my New Year’s Eve party cleaned up by next New Year’s Eve.
Seriously though, I’m looking forward to a lot in 2013, including working on my second CD, playing music with the Debora Iyall Group (DIG for short), perhaps continuing a side project with my friend Pauli Gray, and of course spending lots of time with my kids who are growing up way faster than I thought possible.
For those of you who have stopped in and read my entries in 2012, thanks so much for reading. Hope you have a great 2013!
Tags: Deadmau5, demos, free, housewife, Massive, music, Native Instruments
A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed some really heavy bass synth sounds for a song I’m working on. I loves me some free VST Plugins, but thought I might broaden my horizons and check out free demos to see the range of what is out there. I came across Native Instruments’ Massive, immediately downloaded it , fired up Cubase and was ready to give it a whirl when my son called me into his room. He wanted to show me something he had created. I tried putting him off for a few minutes while I messed with a couple of the presets, but it became apparent he really wanted my attention so off I went.
After checking out my son’s latest Lego creation, I headed back towards the kitchen only to spy a basket of laundry I had collected a little earlier that day. I decided to be proactive and take the laundry down to the washing machine. Once I had the wash started I realized there was more laundry in the dryer. I’ve been working very hard to stay on top of things and not let it all pile up, so I took that laundry upstairs, folded it and put it away. In the process I came across a shirt that needed a button sewn back on. Well, there happened to be a few things in my “needs mending” pile, so I took all of that out to the living room, sat down and made necessary repairs. Now I felt really good about myself. I was getting things done!
I started towards the bedroom by way of the kitchen when I saw my laptop sitting there with an odd message on the screen. I immediately checked it out in fear that is was my virus protection software alerting me to some download doom. Nope. It was simply a message from Native Instruments telling me my thirty minute trial of Massive was up and thanking me for giving it a try. D’oh!
Tags: costumes, fremont, Halloween, live, music, performance, The Mojo Lounge
Tags: dance music, female, gear, girls, Grimes, keyboards, Lily Taylor, live, looping, MNDR, music, original, performer, producer, rise, singer, synth pop
When it comes to being a one-person band, a producer/performer if you will, it would appear that boys like their laptops and their big fancy light shows and us girls like our gizmos and gear. I don’t have a term for it yet, but I’m seeing a trend of female artists who aren’t quite electronica yet definitely use electronica elements in the creation of their music. I think I may be part of a genre and I’m in good company!
For myself, I got the notion of using a looper from watching guitarists and originally was planning to use my JamMan Loop Pedal with just a bass guitar, layering notes to build chords and rhythms. It didn’t quite gel for me and I put the whole thing away for a while. Somewhere between putting it away and pulling it out again to loop keys and drum machines, I encountered Lily Taylor and I think I would be remiss to not admit her performance style was an inspiration. Using a loop pedal, effects pedals, and Casio keyboard, Lily layers lush vocal harmonies over ambient synths to create hypnotic music. She is currently based out of Austin, TX, but seems to visit the San Francisco Bay Area on a regular basis to perform.
Poised on hitting the mainstream, Grimes is a Canadian artist who also performs with a keyboard, effects pedals and a sampler. Her vocals are lovely and ethereal, while her music ranges from ambient to pure pop. She recently performed on Jimmy Fallon and I’ll admit I was a bit sad to see they felt the need to dress up her performance with back up dancers and some special effects, but it was still a beautiful performance.
Finally, there is MNDR, which is actually a duo comprised of Amanda Warner and Peter Wade, but Warner performs solo. I’ve seen Warner perform with a synth and also with a guitar, but it seems she is focusing mostly on singing live. She reminds me a bit of Kim Wilde (of Kids in America fame) so I guess I’ve included her here just because I really like the music. She’s also opening for Duran Duran these days. I think I would like to be her when I grow up. Heh.
I recently realized that I am anti-laptop when it comes to music performance. It feels like a crutch to me, or maybe I just don’t want to compete on the same playing field as all the people who can kick serious a** with Ableton Live. I currently describe my music as having all the canned sounds of electronica and all the shaky timing of a garage band (ba-dump-ba), although in truth, I think my timing is pretty amazing considering I make most of my loops live on the fly.
Currently I’m beginning pre-production on my next recording project and also thinking I’d like to perform live again soon. This song, Lessons, performed at the Stork Club in February, will most likely be on my next CD. Check it out and enjoy.
Tags: Armandos, debora iyall, El Rio, live, music, Romeo Void, Zoid
April seems to be all about doing the work: tearing down my studio so I can get it water-proofed and remodeled; learning to be flexible with practice time and space when I don’t have a dedicated area; learning new material for upcoming shows. But I’m pretty sure it will all pay off, in some cases as soon as next month.
My biggest news is that I’m playing keys for Debora Iyall’s backing band. I’ve mentioned Debora in a previous post; she was the lead singer of Romeo Void, a seminal post-punk band from the 80′s. The whole situation seems a little too good to be true, so I’ve been very quiet about it, afraid I might jinx it in some way. However, we have a show coming up on Cinco de Mayo at Armandos in Martinez, CA so I guess it’s time to make it official.
And here’s a preview of some of the music you’ll be hearing if you make it out to the show:
A Jimi Hendrix tribute performed by the very talented Stev Ohanis (guitar), Dave Wenger (bass) and John Tucker (drums) will kick off the evening, and I’ll even play a few solo songs before the main event.
Tags: musicians, rehearsal space, secret studios, timeless, zombies
I went out to Secret Studios last night to meet up with my friend, Pauli, who hopefully will play a few songs with me at my next show (May 22 at El Rio, in case you’re wondering). I was late and he thought I had already cancelled, so I waited while he made the trek from his place in The Mission to Cesar Chavez. As I stood there in the hall with a pile of equipment at my feet, fumbling with my phone to pass the time, I realized that this was such a familiar situation in such a familiar place, that it felt timeless.
Before I knew it as Secret Studios, I knew the building as McCune Audio/Visual. I worked there for a few years, but not a contiguous few years. I think I may have quit twice before finally leaving for good. Secret Studios was already occupying the back of the building when it was McCune, but when McCune left, Secret Studios took over the rest of the warehouse area (the same area where I spent a lot of time wrapping cables, because the McCune warehouse manager didn’t know what to do with the secretary from upstairs who claimed she wanted to be a tech even though she couldn’t comfortably lift half of the equipment that needed to be hauled around for the job).
I’d been there a couple of times on auditions before I became a regular, traveling down the long halls of rehearsal space doors to meet with Karen, the singer/ guitarist with whom I formed The Little Things. When Karen needed to take a break from music to have a baby, I auditioned for Candy from Strangers, which lead me to the same door I waited by last night. Since then I’ve also rented out the hourly room for various projects.
I’ve watched bands load drum sets and amps into shabby vans in the parking lot, I’ve clumsily dragged my own equipment over the bumpy asphalt and dropped my keyboard on the loading ramp more than once (on one particular instance it was a choice between my keyboard or my mini skirt, and I chose the mini skirt. Either way, I was going to look stupid.) Sometimes it seems the musicians coming and going are ageless, sometimes they look like kids, and then sometimes, when I really look around everyone seems to be my age.
If there’s any secret left to Secret Studios, it certainly isn’t the security gate code, I think you could probably Google it if you had to. Maybe the real secret is that it is timeless. Some bands have practiced there forever; many bands have been born and died there, occasionally all in the same night. It holds the same psychic energy as say a dorm room, or a prison, or any space that is inhabited for a very specific purpose. Musicians come and go, but things don’t change much. The musical styles cycle through.
But the one thing that hangs in my mind each and every time I go to Secret Studios is “Man, this would be a kick ass setting for a zombie flick.” And it really would be. A poor unsuspecting singer on her way to the audition of lifetime doesn’t realize the zombie apocalypse is upon her. Suddenly she finds herself trapped in a maze of punk rock zombies, metal head zombies, goth zombies, swing band zombies – and half of the zombies she encounters aren’t even zombies yet. It practically writes itself!
Tags: bay area music, debora iyall, gabby la la, music, silent motif, stork club, the red devil lounge, The Stork Club, ziva hadar
Having spent most of January trying to shake off a nasty eye infection, I have found my way to February feeling and looking mostly normal. These past few weeks have been a string of happy collisions with some extraordinarily talented people. I often feel my universe expands and contracts in a cyclical fashion. For a while I will feel like I am working in a vacuum, completely isolated and then suddenly it all explodes, just like the big bang, and I am propelled into new space. And in that moment I realize that I’m part of something much larger, the amazing and eclectic San Francisco Bay Area music scene.
The lineup of artists playing with me at The Stork Club next Wednesday, February 22, exemplifies the variety of talent you can find in the Bay Area. In addition to my synth pop loops, there will be indie pop music played by the very talented Gabby La La and her new band, Snow Angel. Gabby La La is a multi-instrumentalist who has shared a stage with the likes of Les Claypool. I admire both her music and her fashion sense; she achieves in real life what I can only aspire to in avatar form in Second Life. Her new project, Snow Angel, is wonderfully melodic with dreamy harmonies.
Following Gabby La La will be Silent Motif, an ambient electronica trio lead by Robert Keller. I have seen them perform online and it was mesmerizing. Each band member was decked out in a glowing shirt, giving them an otherworldly presence that was reinforced by music that created alien soundscapes ranging from ethereal to cacophonous to (not quite) dance music and then back again.
Watch Silent Motif’s online performance
Ending the evening is Ziva Hadar, whose soulful pop reminds me a great deal of Nora Jones. Ziva, whose music combines several genres including pop, jazz and blues, has been creating a buzz in the Bay Area music scene for the past year or so. She’s just released an EP, Just Another Night.
Finally, I recently had the honor of sitting in on a rehearsal with Debora Iyall and her band. Best known as the lead singer of Romeo Void, Ms. Iyall has just released an EP, Singing Until Sunrise. Having grown up in the golden age of MTV, I vividly remember watching the videos of “Never Say Never” and “A Girl in Trouble”. Her lyrics and presence always seemed far more powerful and subversive than many of the mainstream female artists who claimed to be just that.
The songs on Singing Until Sunrise and Stay Strong, her full length CD released in 2010, have a much different energy than her work with Romeo Void, but the lyrics are still powerful and rich with imagery. She is playing with Storm Large at The Red Devil Lounge tomorrow evening.
Tags: 2011, 2012, New Year, resolutions, ridiculous, The Stork Club
2012 - so far so good. Sure, there’s already been a big earthquake in Japan and dead birds in Arkansas, but that doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end, or even worse, 2012 will just be a repeat of last year (unless God, like Hollywood, is sticking to what sells and just remaking the previous year because it tested so well in Encino).
My resolutions for this year include trying to stay positive, getting more sleep and exercise, practicing more and complaining less. Oh, and I resolve to be photographed while looking ridiculous more often, too!
New Year’s Eve