Heartache and Strength
Week ending 9/20/98
My four year romantic relationship has come to an end. It's been a month now and I'm trying to adjust. Some days I feel on top of the world, some nights I feel totally alone. Learning how to deal with each new challenge that life brings has given me strength. I realize I'm a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. Still, I miss him...
Did I drive him away? Was I too much for him? Did I take him for granted? It's over and I can't change the past. What's done is done. We had an amazing ride together. We loved each other passionately, supported each other's dreams, taught each other what we thought we knew, worked together on projects, created and performed music together, lived together, laughed and learned so much together.
Now we go on our separate paths - as if our time was only supposed to be as long as it
was. Now he leaves the country in search of his piece of the world...and I go in search of
After A Long Absence...
Week ending 6/28/98
Sorry I haven't written in a while. I've been keeping hand written journals off and on my whole life. The only problem with starting them is that you feel guilty when you're not writing them!
Speaking writing, I've written a new song called "Closed" which is strong. It is bluesy and I can belt it out with emotion. I've performed it a few times and it feels good.
While it is unproductive to focus on where the present work will lead and how long it will take to get "there", I can't help trying to visualize my future. I want more than anything to be playing constantly, touring the world, making awesome records, writing wonderful material, performing in front of large audiences that know my work...and getting paid for it. Right now, everything I do costs money. When doing "original" music, the assumption is "unless you're packing in the house, you play for free." There are no guarantees at clubs and if you play with a band you have to make sure their expenses and fees are covered. How does a girl with her guitar and her dream move ahead? I work to pay for it all but it's hard. I keep going because I love it and I couldn't imagine not creating and performing music. It makes me happy as I progress...I know it will pay off for me, but when?
I express all of this not for anyone to feel sorry for me or take pity on me...God no! I'm sure many people out there have a dream, have been working hard at it, and get frustrated along the way. Am I doing enough? Am I wasting too much time? Do I accept every "deal" that comes my way even if I am skeptical of the people or the situation? I have to be careful and make smart decisions because I have only one career...but analyzing it too much can drive me crazy!
Perhaps I'm not persistent enough with people who can help me. I'm not really a hounder. I called the music editor at Time Out Magazine and asked her if I could come down to her office and play her a 3-minute acoustic song..."I know if you hear me, you'll want to hear more. If that's not convenient, meet me downstairs and I'll play for you in the lobby or out on the street." I thought that was showing persistence....she laughed in my face and told me that was not their policy and hung up. There was a time when writers really wanted to scope out talent...on the street! This is what I mean about not having the power I need behind me. It's tough. Every minute there's another female singer/songwriter popping up on the charts. People who see me play tell me to hang in there. "You'll make it. I know it!" I hear that Sarah McLachlan became more humble as she got more successful. I see that in her and I truly respect it. That's the way I will be...I know it!
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Meeting Christopher Reeve
Week Ending 4/19/98
Bill Greenberg is a 50-year-old lawyer who would chuck it all for
opportunity to play his music every night of the week. His wife, Martha,
works at Pace University in Pleasantville, NY. She organized a benefit
concert for the Christopher Reeve Foundation which allowed her husband's band
(Bill's Band) to be featured at the Wilcox Gymnasium at Pace University.
Tickets were sold at $15 each and they raised over $4,000. Bill wanted an
opening act that wasn't a band. He heard of me, came to a gig to check me
out, and both he and his wife approved. I would come up without my band and
play for about 30 minutes.
So, last Friday night, I took the train to White Plains, rehearsed Bob Dylan's
"Forever Young" with Bill and his son which would be the closing number and
headed to the campus Adam, who is playing with Bill, was accompanying me on
the bass guitar. Jamie arrived with the video camera, CD's, and a p.o.p.
display to hold them which he designed. Bill arranged for a professional
sound company to do the sound and lights. The stage was large and it looked
like 250 people were about to pour in. Bill's son, Michael, was to perform
three of his songs on acoustic guitar first. The students at Pace University
had apparently been playing "Rolling Wave" on their radio station. They were
excited I was there. It felt nice to be recognized.
Just before the show, Christopher Reeve was wheeled in. I got a chill. Many
people were photographing and talking to him. He was with his aid and took a
space on the side. The show began. One of the students warmed up the
audience and introduced each act.
I wore my long black dress, walked out with confidence, said hello and how
happy I was to be there and began playing. The sound person couldn't get the
best level on my guitar but my voice resonated incredibly well. The audience
was silently attentive and cheered loudly after the first song, "Red."
Playing so many noisy NYC clubs, it was a treat to be on a large stage with
decent sound and an appreciative crowd. When I played "Rolling Wave" I heard
a few little girls in the front singing along to the chorus by the second time
around. Good sign that it was catchy! I really gave it my all and it came
back to me.
After the show, Christopher Reeve was presented with a check to his
foundation. He came down front and spoke. The crowd quieted and leaned
"In 1984," he began "there was no research or funding for AIDS. It was the
unknown disease that was growing rapidly. People rallied and demanded action
from the government. They raised money and awareness. Similarly, diseases of
the spinal chord and central nervous system need research and funding. It
doesn't matter if you have $4, $400, $4,000 or $400,000, making a contribution
is what is important. What you all have done tonight together means more to
me than you could ever know." I was moved to tears when he said that. He was
Again, there was a crowd and television crew around him, but I moved forward
in hopes of talking to him. Someone who ran it saw me and told everyone to
clear a path for me. I walked up to him and introduced myself.
"It is such an honor to meet you," I told him.
"I really enjoyed your music," he responded.
"Thank you so much. I need to mention that when you were filming "Somewhere
in Time" you stayed with my close friend's family, The Haddens."
"Oh, my gosh!" he remembered instantly. "On Mackinac Island."
"Yes, well they all say hello. Mr. Reeve, I would like to give you a copy of
my CD that I signed for you."
I made a gesture to give to it to his aid but he then said, "Oh, that's so
nice. Just stick it under my hand."
So, I lifted his right hand up, slid my CD underneath, and placed his hand on
top of it. That was a chilling moment I'll never forget. Watching him talk
to others with my music staring up at him was awesome.
Christopher Reeve is such an inspiration to us all. Here he is getting out,
being appreciative to people, and making a difference. He chooses his words
carefully. He is intelligent, thoughtful, sincere, and motivated. There is a
decent possibility that he and countless others could walk again after spinal
injuries. Research and funding are the keys to these open doors. I was so
happy to be a part of this incredibly rewarding event. God, I wish him good
The show was a plus for me personally as well. We sold a bunch of CD's and
the college radio station, WRPW, wants to arrange another booking for me and
my band in the fall. Things seem to be coming together nicely, and it's all
from letting something grow and develop at its own pace. Now I'm at a whole
other level of professionalism
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Good Gigs, Growing Up In The South, and Time
Week Ending 4/5/98
This has been a very productive week. Two great things came through. One, Bill Greenberg, who Adam plays with, came and saw a show. He is a part of an upcoming benefit for The Christopher Reeve Foundation held at Pace Uiversity on April 17th. He loved my performance and asked if I would do a 20 minute solo acoustic performance. Christopher Reeve will be present. I am honored and excited about this event. I've been a fan of his ever since "Somewhere In Time" and of course the Superman movies. I have been even more moved by his spirit and courage since his accident that paralyzed him. My friend James Sampliner is friendly with his wife, Dana, through theater work and says they are an absolutely amazing couple and individuals.
Secondly, a student at Vassar College called and said he loved my CD and invited me to play over Parents Weekend (April 25th) doing a concert in the Chapel. Last year Ani Difranco performed. He's trying to get Mary Lou Lord which I would open for if it goes through.
I went to Vassar which is why I thought of sending it to them, hoping the connection would at least get someone to listen. I first sent it to the Director of Campus Activities, Ray Parker, who was there when I was there. He liked it, asked for another package to send to William Morris and said he'd pass it along to the students and encourage them to listen. Beyond that, he could not promise anything. Well, luckily, they loved it and want to do an interview over their radio station when I get there. We are sending a box of CD's to the college book store and will make up posters. I'm so excited!!
All this talk about Vassar makes me think of my time there. Growing up in Atlanta, I yearned to get out of the South and have northern experience. My aunt and uncle lived in New York, my parents lived there, and everyone in my family always talked about New York. Living and making it there was like totally "it" for me. So, I wanted to go to a school that was co-ed, small, liberal, no frat system or football team, had a good Drama Department (loved acting), an artistic community, and located near New York City. Vassar was a top school and fit all the criteria. My grades were okay, not great but not bad, but my SAT's were below average. So, I thought I needed to do everything possible to heighten my application. I included an audio tape of four songs I sang and wrote. I also sent a video tape of me doing karate and flew up and had a good interview. Surprisingly, they accepeted me early decision.
When I got my housing assignment in the mail, I remember feeling disappointed. It said I was living in a dorm called "Jewitt." In Atlanta, I attended a private "Christian Preparatory School." Teachers of any kind had to sign a piece of paper saying they believed in Jesus Christ. Each year we'd have Christian Emphasis week where we all assembled each day for 45 minutes and heard lectures from ministers, teachers, born-again Christians, talking about being saved, being condemned to hell for not accepting Jesus, etc. I am Jewish. Naturally, I hated this aspect of the school. I was singing songsabout Jesus for hours per week in a select chorus and I was basically being told I was going to hell while praying to a God that wasn't accepted in my religion.
My parents wanted me to have the best education possible. The public schools were not up to par with the folks and this school had a great reputation as an educational institution. The problem is, education is a part of the environment and more than reading, writing, and arithmatic.
Being Jewish was part of a minority many people condemned. I wasn't around many other Jewish people. So when I read that I was going to live in "Jewitt" the first thing I thought was, "How could they have known I was Jewish? And why are they putting all the Jews in one dorm?" Little did I know, Jewitt was the last name of someone famous at Vassar whom the dorm was named after!
As I'm writing all this history of my life down for any future reader, I am keenly aware of the relationship among time, space, and events occuring.
What is time? We try and measure seconds and days going forward but what happens after something has happened? Unless it is recorded somehow or there is evidence, how does anyone else ever know that something has occured? How many faces have inhabited this earth and how different were their lives because of the time period they were in? Can you go back in time? without aging or getting younger?
My grandmother, Meemaw, for instance, lived a long life. I knew her in her later years. When she was a child, she had a mother, father, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins - people I would never meet or know intimately. But they lived full lives - loved, lossed, gave birth, and then died. I remember my Meemaw's voice, her frown, her smile, her cute laugh that turned into a loud cackle. Her dimple on her right cheek, her wrinkled skin - the fact that people said she used to be a redhead, but I only knew her with white hair. Even her annoying behavior, I remember like never knowing when to stop, driving my Dad crazy at the dinner table by eating everyone else's food or eating more than she could stomach because since the Depression she could never stand not to see an empty plate. But the fact is, that today she is gone - her voice never to be heard again as far as we absolutely know. Without photos, we wouldn't know what she looked like, without videos or an audio tape, we wouldn't know the sound of her voice. And without letters from her, we wouldn't know her thoughts or her handwriting. Those are the traces that are left - forever, because she will not interact with others here that are alive. But we are here because of her. And other things happened because of her.
Last night, I sat down at the piano and wrote a song about time. I rarely can actually sit down and write something from beginning to end in one night. My writing is different at the piano than at the guitar. The subject matter inspired me and I already had the beginning of the song in my head. The melody starts low and slow in tempo then jumps higher with more arpeggiations in the arrangement. I think it's an awesome song and I can't stop singing it! Some lyrics to it are...
Time gets lost
Seconds fly into the dark
I need a way to prove that you were here
Memories can often disappear
I'm wondering what's real...
Time gets lost
Seconds fly into the dark
Recording every line is not the way to save it
But I can learn a lot from yesterday
Now it's gone away
now it's gone away...
AND THE SONG GOES ON FROM HERE...
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I work part-time in a large company doing graphics. It's a great job because I can create my own schedule. It leaves time for my music. I usually work 3-4 days a week.
Anyway, there was a huge lay-off of 700 people in the company. Needless to say, there was tension in the air. People who had been there for their entire careers were getting the axe. Most of the place is full of open cube areas. Very few people have their own private offices. I sit in a front cube diagonal from a nice man's office. I say he's nice, not because I actually had conversations with him, but because I watched how he interacted with his team. Very respectful, encouraging, and everyone would say how great a guy he was. Well, news came around that he was one of the ones who got laid off. I come into the office late and stay later than usual. I remember being there around 6:30. Most everyone on that floor had gone except for the man, quietly packing his things. I tried to imagine what he was going through. He'd been there a long time, working late, putting in the hours, bringing his work home with him. Suddenly, someone tells him he's not needed anymore. Boom. That's it, with no control of the situation.
A week went by. He went on vacation. I thought about it. I started to write a song from the perspective of someone who'd been fired. I got stuck. The man came back to get the rest of his things. I asked if I could talk to him, told him I was a songwriter and wondered if I could talk to him because I was writing a song. He said, "Sure, I'll talk to you." So, I asked him what it felt like. He gave me a range of emotions one goes through - from the initial shock, to being defensive, needing to have an explanation, anger, acceptance...he seemed okay which is why he could talk about it...
So, tonight, I began to work on my new song, called "20 years."
Last gig I did another new song called "Final Stages" (for lack of a better
title). It's an upbeat tune that felt good. I'm getting some really beautiful e-mails from people who have been listening to my CD. It mean so much when people actually quote my lyrics, telling me how much they can relate to the words...and can't get the music out of their heads!
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The Chili Party
Week Ending 3/8/98
I had two separate veggie chili parties this week. The first one was for all the musicians and contributors of the CD. Veggie Chili is easy and reasonable to serve a lot of people. Well, I expected about 30 folks over...and only ten showed. I made a huge pot of chili and had a ton of ingredience left over. I also made a bread basket full of Knorr spinach dip and guacamoli.
It was a nice party. People appreciated the food. I toasted everyone and thanked them for their work. Abe Unger, who played classical guitar on "Just Be" is also a Rabbi. He put on his yamacha and said a prayer or blessing for CD as something that you've worked hard on and is now beginning. I enjoyed that.
Well, I had so much food I had to have another party. I invited about 40 people (with one day notice). I had 20 people come. I loved it. My apartment is perfect for parties. Since I've been here a while, I held on to it and it's large and rent stabilized. In New York City, it's a major find! The living room is spacious, cozy, colorful with the separate eat-in kitchen off to the right. So people congregate on the futon couch and chairs around the glass coffee table, on the piano bench and spill into the kitchen. My friend, Choi, brought her adorable nine month old baby. Monica came with two girlfriends, Tim (my friend who I worked with a while ago) and his boyfriend Alex, Anamarie and Dirk (longtime pals who recently got married after being together for seven years), Stephanie, Johanna and Tracy - (newer friends), John N., Ted, John M. (more Adam friends), Anty -who I went to college with, Leslie (who I worked with at A&E), James Sampliner (who thought the musician party was that night and happened to show up two days later for another party), Jamie, Roman (musician friend), and my high school friend, Jon.
The chili was awesome. I had a huge pot of it with rice, plenty of dip, cookies, coffee, cake. Everyone brought drink so the refrigerator was stocked. My kind of party. Conversation everywhere, baby crawling or being passed around, candles lit, people sitting on the floor, on the couch,
standing, eating, laughing... I want to host regular potluck
conversation and monolgue parties...meaning, the first half is conversation and eating and
then the second half is where people individually share something that they created, was
moved by, annoyed or angered by or wanted to share with the group - like a song, poem,
photograph, painting, drawing, letter, e-mail, book, newspaper or magazine article,
object, thought - just one thing to talk about or present per party.
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Fighting Fear & Doubt
Week Ending 3/1/98
Oh, God...The feelings of insecurity are coming over me again. I haven't felt them in a while and they are not welcome at my table!...The insecurities are not tied with my ability to do good work...but rather about my wit and ability to get it out there! It's overwhelms me. Right now I'm sitting at my desk at my temp job working on the computer taking existing financial presentations and changing colors on charts and graphs, making fonts the correct size and feelings like I'm wasting my valuable time! I should be playing, playing, playing all the time! I get annoyed with myself feeling like I could and should be doing more to jump start my career. Adam and Jamie are great but we need our world to expand. I mean one person may look at me and think I have a lot going for me or I've come a long way...but then I look up at other artists who are so visible and audible and I think, "Jesus I have such a long way to go...how am I going to get there?"
Women songmakers are out there like never before. It is inspiring and even jolting. I just read an article about Toni Braxton who sold millions of records, yet is declaring bankruptcy. She has no real control of her career since her record company, La Face Records, controls the money. They made her a star but at what price? When she signed on the dotted line, did she get in over her head? She made a bad deal for herself in the beginning when she needed them most and now it is costing her.
I respect people like Ani DiFranco so much for just going, going, going, working, working, working, not looking back, not having some master plan, and letting things develop as they have for her. As a result, she has built up her own company around her music and it is thriving as well as any record company I know of. She has said it is not about being a rock star, but rather putting out good music on her own terms. And luckily, she has help from people that are devoted to working for her...and let's face it...they figured out the music business on their own...all must be smart people who get her product out there, book her in clubs constantly, advertise intelligently and fulfill the demand of her growing fan base. Whether or not she likes it, she is a star in her own right by working her ass off and retaining control of her music and her life. I sent her my CD which contains "Dear Ani" - a letter to her.
Could I do that? Would it be a bad thing if I got signed to a reputable record company and let them help me get my music out there? I mean there's Sarah McLachlan, Paula Cole, Jewel, Joan Osborne, Indigo Girls- all with the backing of big companies putting out music that seems very 'themselves'. How would I know for sure I was a record company's priority? Would I get totally screwed financially? How do I even position myself properly with a record company? How do I get more gigs? Set up tours? Pay for it all? I definitely want help to deal with the little things like bookings, selling CD's, and feeling like there is movement. There's always the question of how much are you willing to give up to get where you want to be? And then there's the question of where do you want to be? I'm not Ani DiFranco. I'm Lezlee. I have to find my own way and maybe it won't be as grand as her path has been, but it will be mine. I like having a degree of control, but I also think it would be great to have a manager who can be hands on in setting up shit for me so that all I have to do is focus on creating and performing my music. The business stuff weighs me down.
It's funny...now that I have this CD, there are even more questions and challenges to overcome. Like now what? Like people assuming they can just go to a record store and buy it. Like people asking me "When am I going to hear you on the radio?" It's a huge thing - this music business. In order for me to have a record in stores I would need a distributor and money for promotion because what's the point of having it in stores if no one has heard of me. At this point I'm trying to sell enough on my own somehow to earn back the cost of what we put into it while using the CD properly to get to the next level...
Stay positive, Lezlee. Don't think too much!!! It's music. It's fun. Don't fuck yourself over by wasting time with negative energy. It all stems from you. What you give off is what you get back. Don't do it. Not now!!
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Playing Atlanta / The CD's Here!
Week ending 2/23/98
Last weekend was full of excitement. Adam, Gabe and I flew down to Atlanta, GA to do two very different and special shows at acoustic venue, Eddie's Attic. (Thank you Air Trans for sponsoring our flights). I was greeted by my brother holding a big article about me in the Atlanta newspaper. "This is my sister!" he kept shouting, telling everyone at the airport. It was cute.
The first was Friday evening opening up for nationally known act Billy Pilgrim. They are really big in the South. It was their farewell show, so needless to say it was a zoo! They let 180 people in and turned away 150. Luckily, I had faxed a list of 38 of my own people who I knew were coming.
It was a tough crowd because there was a lot of talking. Most were there to see Billy Pilgrim. We did well, though, and many people were into it. It was nice to be home and play for my longtime friends and family who really hadn't seen me in this situation. Many were pleasantly surprised and I felt good about it. Billy Pilgrim were great and they played for about three hours. We manually made some CD's and sold a bunch at the show.
The second show was the Sunday afternoon Make a Wish Jam to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation. It was much calmer. We played two songs only but to a captive audience (including the local news). It was so rewarding being there, reading about the organization and the kids that it helps. I was honored to be a part of it. Hats off to Stephanie Nelson at MAW who organized it.
I just have to say once again how important voice lessons and voice exercises are. I was sick as a dog the whole weekend, nasal congestion, bronchial crap, coughing etc....but when I sang, you wouldn't have known it. I bypass my nose completely when I sing now because I'm singing properly. Therman, my teacher, said that once you become a professional, you must rely on technique to get you through. I now understand what he meant.
THE CD SHIPMENT IS DONE!!! Jamie drove out to Long Island to pick them up and they look great!! How cool to see it in shrink wrap staring back at me. We sold some at the gig tonight. It was really cool to see the imprint design on the CD itself since I saw the booklet already. I signed CD's that people bought. Can't wait to hear some reactions.
The calls of congratulations are coming in from those who purchased the CD. It's so wonderful to hear my friends, who have always been supportive, tell me how proud they are. My friend, Astrid, Sharon, and Tim tell me it's in their CD player and they keep pressing 'play' nonstop! Different people have different favorite songs, too, which is interesting. Both Astrid and Sharon particularly love "Seduce Me With Your Words." Women can relate I think. Astrid got like five of her co-workers to buy a copy. Anyone out there who wants to spread the word is welcome!
It's important to keep the momentum going with everything. I know when things are lull I tend to think too much which can get me down. I like to feel movement, internal and external, at all times.
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'Just Being' Explained
Week Ending February 8, 1998
I have learned more in this past year than in any other that I can remember. Want to know what? Here goes...
1) I've learned how to take my work seriously without taking myself too seriously
2) When I first came to town, I was trying to survive in New York City on my own, determined to live here, spending valuable time worrying about what I was "doing" and wondering if I was "supposed to be." I had the drive to succeed without the fire to channel it properly. Maybe I figured there was plenty of time...I was so young it didn't matter. As a result, I couldn't focus properly on working to make music. I was looking at the top of the mountain without taking small steps to get there. after some time had passed, I began to focus but I had a lot of unresolved anger inside of me. My music reflected this. I was searching for my voice, moving through different styles, living somewhat outside myself. This past year, I feel I have more to say. I have settled into myself, stopped trying to do too many things and prove how worthy I was, and learned how to just be comfortable with being me.
Calling my CD "Just Being" is appropriate because it reflects a state of mind that I have recently been in to complete these songs and this work. My work is more interesting today because of the living I've done. I sing and write from a different, more whole perspective today and have so much more to offer. I am not trying to be a Spice Girl. I'm just trying to be me.
3) I've learned that my job is to create from my imagination and present that creation as best as I can. What matters to me is the process of working and the experience of shaping of that work. As long as I'm in the moment, I will have no fears. Fears come when I look back or look forward. Hopefully, I will gain more recognition, but as long as I'm continuing on this path I'm doing my job well. I don't have fear of failure the way I used to. Likewise I don't have fear of success either. I don't particularly like the words "success and failure" very much because it defines people in terms that are bias. I've been reading an incredible book called "Art and Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland which talks a lot about the difficulties artists face and the fears they must confront. I can relate so well to this book, having battled fears of my own which I know will resurface throughout my life.
4) I think of myself more as a part of the general human race rather than a part from others. I feel that every single person's life is interesting. No matter how different we think we are, there are common emotions that cross all barriers; love, loss, remorse, worry, longing, hatred, anger, fear, pity, unselfishness, selfishness, and the desire to survive at all costs. We all search for identity, our purpose in life, our dreams. We all want a degree of power and control over our lives. We all want something to look forward to, miss our parents, worry about our children, hate rejection, and love being in love. We all want to have fun, be spontaneous, creative and enjoy laughter. The point is, that every bad day I've ever had, someone has had worse. Every exciting invigorating experience I've had, someone has experienced even more. My experiences are personal to me which is why they are unique to me but it is comforting to know that beyond class, race, cultural and socioeconomic differences, a feeling has no visual character. It exists within all of us. Understanding this, helps me in my songwriting. I used to write from a narrow perspective. Now I think more universally.
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My Enchanting Subway Encounter
Week Ending January 25, 1998
Wednesday, January 21 1998
The thing I love about New York is the variety of people I come in contact with randomly.
Today, on the subway, a man sat next to me. I couldn't help peering down at a small photo book he was looking at - a woman with the man holding a newborn with another child. The setting looked sunny and nice. I turned to him and said, "Are these your children?" He smiled and said yes. He told me they were in Australia where his wife is from. Then he flipped to a picture of a nice arched building with cafe umbrellas below on the side. He was standing with an apron on smiling. Trees were green, sun shining.
"This was my business. I owned a restaurant in Sidney and we leased the space below from a church. It was doing well but in the renewal lease the church took away the outdoor space and gave us the upper indoor area. But in Sidney, it is very hot and no one wants to eat inside. We took the church to court and won, but the church wouldn't pay us commission. We would have had to spend $20,000 more in legal fees. And so, we lost everything. When I left Australia, my son was 3 months old. Now he's 5 months old. I'm now working here in advertising...it's a good job. I'll go visit my family probably in June. I want them to move here but my wife would rather be there. It's better for women with medical expenses and such."
Just then my stop came and I had to get off. I thanked him for the story. I got out and the picture of his beautiful red haired wife was instilled in my head. How ironic that the church, a religious organization that is is supposed to bring people together, was ultimately responsible for the separation of a family.
The man lost all his money but not his spirit. He was remarkably cheerful and carried around his family photos in an small album everywhere so he can look at them throughout his day. I was so touched by this.
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Mixing The Record
Week Ending January 18, 1998
WEEK OF MIXING!!
Monday, January 12 -
Woke up at 12:41 - Jamie called from his car phone. I stumbled to the bathroom in a daze trying to "process it all." Got back in bed and wrote the previous pages in my journal.
1:30pm - Shower and dress
2:00-2:40pm - Voice lesson with Therman. Exercises as usual in the beginning. I had a lot of unwanted flem in my throat (charming). At 2:25pm he let me sing the first measure of "Dear Ani" for comments since I'd be recording it later. He pointed out I was going in to falsetto instead of head voice. I didn't know the difference and he explained that head voice and chest voice are connected but falsetto is separate and sounds different and not as used in pop music. He explained it like a genius and it was totally helpful.
3:15-4pm - I rushed to meet Lara and Rebecca of Optimum Design. I worked with Lara and Doyle Graphics and it was then she offered to design my CD artwork pro bono. So, I took her up on it. My god am I impressed with her. She's like 26yrs old running her own Graphic Design company with 15 employees in a huge office space in midtown.
5pm - Arrived at As Is ready to record "Dear Ani" with Adam. We did several really good takes.
8pm - I rerecorded "Crazy" lead and background vocals. Left the studio early - around 1:00am. Ad and Jamie stayed until god knows when.
Tuesday, January 13
Last minute edits and transfers were done today before mix session at 8pm. I got going around 1:00pm - called J.P. Morgan where I've been temping and asked if I could not come in this week due to mixing. They were cool. Awesome situation I have there!
1:30pm - Took the bus down to 48th Street to pick up pro-audio dats. Stopped by AKY to get blank cassettes.
3:00pm - Arrived at studio.
5:00pm - Sam arrived with the contact sheets. I literally freaked out with excitement. Best shots of me ever! What an eye he has for composition, lighting, capturing moods. He snapped 6 rolls and I swear each role has at least four keepers. They're all different as well which is good. Yeah! I found a cover photo!
8pm - finished packing and went to Shelter Island Sound.
Ray Martin is the mix engineer. We've been here all night long. Here's what he has to do for each song:
1) First, Ray spent hours getting sounds of instruments peaked
2) Ray went through the song and inserted mutes where the instrument on that track is not playing. This is so you don't hear the hiss from the tape when it's not being played. It's important not to cut off the breath on the vocal track before the words come in.
3) Level rides on instruments. For instance, Adam is riding the B-3 Hammond part in places where he wants it louder or softer.
4) Adjust the overall levels of everything. Print to 1/2" tape. Do several "mixes" such as instrumentals, vocal up, vocal down etc.
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In The Recording Studio
Week Ending January 11, 1998
1/1/98 - It's a New Year - 1998 and I am excited to be alive with many things to look forward to. My CD is close to completion. We've mapped out a regimented schedule to make the most of each day and each hour. The people we've been speaking to have all said to focus on the most important thing, the music and all else will fall into place. Adam and Jamie have been nonstop working. There is so much to do! We still have to record background vocals...I've asked a few singer friends. I think it will be richer with different voices, both male and female on certain songs. In past recordings I've sang background parts but it will be nice to have a variety. I have to re-sing a lead vocal part, we have to record the live songs, fill in some missing musical parts and then spend nine days mixing! Our end date is January 18th. I'm responsible for getting the CD artwork together and getting the actual CD's pressed up. I'm going to need them for a big show I'm doing down in Atlanta the middle of February. Yikes!
1/3/98 - My show last night at Sidewalk Cafe went well. Adam played bass and Gabe played electric guitar so we had a trio. Hannah got another gig playing with a band called Battershell. I need to look for another bassist and a good drummer. Surrounding myself with excellent players when I play live is my goal. I'm an average guitarist, because I haven't been playing very long. So, it will only push me and the music to higher degrees with musicians who are much better players than I am.
Most singer/songwriters, because they are primarily solo artists, need to pay the musicians in their band a set amount of money when they do a gig. Good ones deserve to be paid. One of the reasons I strip down the sound at gigs is because of the lack of funds. I want to play often mainly to get my songs and myself out there. As a result, I've gotten much stronger as a performer. A gig like Sidewalk doesn't charge a cover. Lach, the MC, goes around with a tip jar which is great. People have been quite generous, some giving $10 and $20 bills. We made a total of $100 which is the same amount that I got at Brownies a few weeks ago and they charged a cover! The thing is, if I have to pay good musicians at least $50 per gig, I need to bring in at least $150 to break even with a full band. So, without a drummer, I was able to break even at Sidewalk and right now that is fine with me! One day soon, when I have a booking agent, there will be guarantees that clubs will have to pay. But for now, many clubs under-compensate the artists and there's not much you can do or say without blackballing yourself..and is it worth it? When I do a big showcase at a bigger venue, it will be worth the monetary investment. Some gigs are more prominent than others. Right now, I just want to play so being able to do that every few weeks is heaven.
1/5/98 - I miss just hanging out with friends, doing normal stuff like going to the movies and going out to dinner. My close friend, Astrid, went to visit her family in Germany. She'll be gone until the end of the month. It is easy to hang with her because she lives close and she makes the effort to come over or meet me at the studio. I need to have a party so I can see people I care about. I hate just seeing them at gigs. For one thing, it feels egotistical and for another, after a show, I want to spend quality time with people but there doesn't seem to be enough time to go around.
Sunday, January 11, 1998 -
I just have to document this day because it was pretty unbelievable.
12:15 - I was the first person at the studio today. When I unlocked the door, I didn't hear the normal beeping of the alarm, so I went in without turning it off, took off my coat, and riiinnnnnggg!!! When the alarm company called, I didn't know the password. The police came and then Adam came and we must have convinced them we weren't criminals - just idiots. Jason Paige came in to do background vocals with Adam on several songs. I slapped some makeup on, grabbed my guitar and went off with Sam who was going to take pictures of me - casual shots outdoors. We had a lot of fun walking through the meat packing district and the West Village. He snapped a few at different cool shadowy spots. It was a crisp clear day and it felt good to be outside!
5:00pm - Parted with Sam, grabbed food and headed back to the studio. Adam was just finishing up with Jason. We were planning on singing "Dear Ani" - piano/vocal
5:30pm - I warmed up to my vocal exercise tape
6:00pm - I forgot to mention that earlier, before I left, the club next door was having a party and the fucking dance music was blaring like crazy. I asked the guards the schedule - a party from 11am-6pm and then a break until 10pm. So, there was supposed to be a window of four hours. At 6pm, the music was still blaring, The guards said they'd stop any minute. Jamie came back at 6pm and began setting mics around the piano. I began to feel rushed. Adam and I were working out the song and he was just learning and figuring out some possible chord substitutions. The music stopped but people were walking around. We sang through the song to get levels but at :730pm the music started up again and I freaked out! I had asked Jamie the day before to find out the club's schedule. Maybe I was blaming him for not checking it out earlier in the week but I started screaming a wailing like a 3year old having a tantrum. They refused to work with me. Adam dealt with me, as he usually does when I'm out of control, talking firmly and constantly, speaking rationally. Sometimes I just lose it for a little while and then I'm fine. It's not cool and it happens less and less as time goes on but I know I need to work on "it" . Anyway, as it turned out, we weren't getting a full sound from the piano and decided to do it tomorrow.
8:15pm - Gabe arrives. First, he puts an acoustic part I wanted on the verses of Rolling Wave. Then we set up to record "4 Things" together.
9:00pm - Andrew Simons and Charlotte arrive as "audience members" for the live performance of "4 Things." There's a snare and brushes Andrew is a drummer. I notice he sounds great just playing along lightly out of habit. I suggest we try him also on the stripped down tune. So, the three of us record live the song together doing several full takes which have a lot of energy. The only thing is, I sound less "relaxed" as other tunes - maybe because of my mood earlier.
10:3pm - The theramin player arrives. We're done recording so he records parts over "Crazy." Jamie's wanted to add Theramin to this song since the first time we recorded it over two years ago. I talk to Andrew and Charlotte before they leave and then go type lyrics on computer for the artwork.
11:15pm - James Sampliner arrives to continue exotic percussion parts. Gabe finishes guitar parts which sound great. He slept on the couch through the theramin player.
11:45pm - James begins with Rolling Wave - doubling a tambourine.
12:15-12:45pm - James, Adam and I as a chorus sing backgrounds on the chorus of Rolling Wave.
1:00-2:00am - James continues with subtle bells then we move on to One Second. 2:00am- James begins figuring out a part on verses using kalimbe. Jamie says we have 10 minutes to figure out something or we're moving on. He does figure out something cool. We go through the rest of the songs thinking about what is needed that's left to do.
3:30am - James leaves. We listen to "Seduce Me..." I'm not happy with Jason's background parts. I liked when Adam sang simple ones at the gig - his vocal quality worked nicely. We set up for him to begin singing. We're a bit on edge at this point. Adam starts to sing choruses and I piss him off. Jamie says he really needs to sleep and feels overwhelmed.
4:15-5:00am - Jamie and Adam go through their list of every detail that is outstanding and give it a realistic time frame. Mixing is supposed to happen on Tuesday. Is that possible? Tomorrow is chock full of shit to do. The To Do list is hour by hour, minute by minute, filled with exactly what needs to be done, who is doing what etc. Organization is the only way to get this done well. Sleep time!
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