Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lots of Text and Lots of Context; or, What I've Been Up To

Once again I’ve stayed up into the wee hours of the morning. How do I always end up doing that? At this point I might as well stay awake since I’m already three hours into Saturday.

I suppose my lack of sleep could be due to a number of things. It could be that I’m in the middle of packing up my mother’s house so it can be put on the market. It could also be that I’ve put myself into isolation to work on my album.
How silly do I sound? “My album”? I don’t think I’m at that level of accomplishment yet to speak like that. I know it’s a statement of fact, but describing it makes it sound so professional and I’ve only been performing since July. I suppose this is part of the problem with why I haven’t been doing more since then.
Recently, my friend Bryan Bruchman (who I mention by full name because you may Google him and see he is awesome at photography and blogging among other things) took some photos of me that I could use for promotional use. He was, as he generally is, all about the idea that my music aspirations are worth pursuing. We took photos, they look awesome, and I’ve been using them everywhere, most recently on the main page of my new website layout:


I’ve become a bit agoraphobic while cleaning out mom’s house. I spend my days up my to elbows in bad memories as I sort and throw away and pack over a decade’s worth of things. It’s exhausting and I can’t muster enough energy to go to the grocery store most days, let alone drive into Portland. So when Bryan recently had an evening birthday party at a bar on the East End it took a lot of my energy to haul myself out of the house and into the rainy night to drive over there. I sat there, nodded off every once in a while, and eventually people filtered out until there was a handful of partiers left milling around. Bryan was, by then, quite drunk; I was, myself, sober but exhausted, which amounts to being drunk after a certain point. Somehow this created the perfect conditions for a twenty minute one-on-one chat about my future. Basically, to put it crudely, he verbally kicked my ass about not doing more with my music. And he’s right—I’m really not pushing it and considering it’s what I want to do with my life and I know I wouldn’t really be good at anything else I should be trying harder to put myself out there. So this is my way of doing it—by locking myself up in a suburban home and recording take after take of every song until I feel it’s ready (something I never did before, which is why all previously released songs had lead vocals that were done in one take, which doesn’t always turn out the best). It sucks and it’s lonely, but I have faith the final product will be gorgeous.

On a similar note, I’ve been invited back to perform as Lady Gaga with the For Your Pleasure Burlesque in May. I’m thankful for the opportunity for a few reasons but mainly because of this fact about Portland: Absolutely no one who goes to a show will criticize the performance that they see.
It’s a strange and somewhat unsettling thing, actually. How can an artist of any sort grow without seeing the reactions of others to their art? There may be variations, genres, etc. that go into what form the art takes, but within that category there are good and bad examples. I job shadowed a music critic once and he told me that the way you write a review is that you determine which category/genre the artist is putting themselves in and then you measure them by the standards of that genre. It’s really that simple.
My genre is more or less punk cabaret, so I look to theater of various styles and artists like Amanda Palmer, Meow Meow, and Marcella Puppini to see if I’m on track with my music and performance. I don’t expect the audience who accidently stumbles upon my shows to know who any of those people are, but I know my own genre well enough to know if someone’s critique is valid or is trying to conform what I’m doing to something outside of my goal. If you’re curious, here are examples of each other people above:
Amanda Palmer:

Meow Meow:

Marcella Puppini:

So far I have not, by the standards of my genre, put on a good show in either my Lady Gaga or Aubin performances. I think other people know this but are too nice to tell me, which is frustrating, even though it would be painful to hear it (I’m still young enough to more than occasionally blur the lines between personal attack and artistic criticism. In art school, I developed a facial twitch that came around whenever my drawings were critiqued, but then again I’m pretty high strung anyway). So, to combat this, I’ve watched videos of my performances and decided that my problems are actually just one problem: I have no idea what to do with myself other than sing. I just stand there and look awkward. I’m pretty fortunate, actually, because that problem can be solved by planning the hell out of however much time I’ve been allotted.
To return to my point about my Lady Gaga performance, the last one, while impressive to people who can’t see themselves donning a wig and singing Gaga, was waaaaaay below my standards. I did the bare minimum of everything and it’s my own damn fault. Which is why I’m taking the two months I have left before the show to choreograph like there’s no tomorrow. I want a resulting performance that Gaga herself would be impressed with. Wish me luck—I’m no dancer, but I’ll try my best.
Well, that was an awful lot of text. I haven’t got many photo or video links to upload, but if you care to, you may check out my new song “(You’re A) Backstabber,” which is now up on my MySpace here:

Until the next blog (which will hopefully be about my alum being done) I hope you’re all doing well and I look forward to meeting you in the world outside this house in about a month.



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