Friday, January 31, 2014

Musician, Artist, and Snakes

I really think of myself as a "musician", not just a singer or singer/songwriter. It took me a while to get clear about that. I play piano, harmonica, percussion, I write write songs, I can write charts and read charts, I can lead a band and I like to get immersed inside the music when I sing. This is why I've never been comfortable with the word "diva" or "chick singer." "Diva" indicates self absorption, insensitiveness to others, and a disregard of the musicians you're playing with. The phrase "chick singer" is often used by male musicians in the local wedding band and corporate party band circuit when they refer to the female singer in the band. The phrase indicates the the woman isn't very intelligent about music, keys of songs, and other technicalities about the music. But the sensitive artist and "musician" in me has never been able to resonate to those phrases. I've always felt different than just a singer. I am a musician. My voice is just one of my instruments.

This experience in the studio producing my solo album is amazing and is certainly letting the "musician" in me flourish and shine. Writing the charts, working with the musicians in the studio, rehearsing the band, and discussing the intricacies inside the music are all at play. I feel at home. It is my home, where I belong.

Laying down basic tracks in this last week( drums, bass and keyboards), we all put our heads, hearts and souls into every song to find where the song would live. The bass player, an incredibly gifted musician, has one of the most uncannily accurate instincts about music that I've ever worked with. When a song wasn't grooving or not locked in, he always had a suggestion that helped solve the problem and opened the song up or let it settle into where it's home lives. He said "every song has it's heartbeat and you have to find it." I love that! That phrase will stay with me.

This is just one of the lovely lessons that this marvelous process has taught me. I'm sure I'll be writing about many of the lessons in days and weeks to come. There's nothing like leaning into the edges of something that really challenges you to help you grow. It's glorious. A book that has a great impact on me is "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer. In it he talks about "leaning into your edges." He says "Life creates situations that push you to your edges, all with the effect of removing what is blocked inside of you." That "when you approach the edges, you feel insecurity, jealousy, fear, or self-consciousness." 

I had to pull out all of my courage and warrior stances to take on the edges I pushed up against. To face the demons that wanted to creep up and sabotage me, that wanted me to believe "I wasn't good enough" "my songs aren't good enough" or "the album will be awful." I woke up every day at 3am with paralyzingly electric snakes swirling in my stomach. These weren't just butterflies, these were snakes. And my head was buzzing with anxieties, fears and worries about tempos, grooves, choices, and time. I was "catastrophizing." Which to me means, certain that the worst case scenario will happen. My irrational fears about the future become absolute undeniable, inevitable truth in my mind. This experience was bringing up all of these old thought patterns and insecurities, and it felt like they were being exorcized out of me. But they didn't go quietly, they had to put up a fight. I was being thrust up against hard edges

Singer says, "This is how great beings live. When you are trained, like a great athlete, to immediately relax through your edges when they get hit, then it's all over. You realize that you will always be fine. Nothing can every bother you except your edges, and now you know what to do with them. You end up loving your edges because they point your way to freedom. All you have to do is constantly relax and lean into them."

So rather than cowering and giving in to the fear and demons that the edges were bring up, I looked them in the eye, refused to give them the power, and just kept moving forward. We learn what we need to learn by going where we need to go.

We got basic tracks to 8 songs in 3 days. We used every moment in the studio to it's fullest. I am filled with appreciation for the ability to do such a project, and create art with such wonderful people. And we were all in the control room with big smiles on our faces grooving to the sounds that were playing back from our sessions. What an exhilarating experience. And a big nod to the loving and luminous spirit that was a silent but very powerful presence that was always by our side.

Now in the weeks to come, we'll be building the record. The adventure continues...

every moment grateful,
ak





Sunday, January 26, 2014

What Life Expects...



I often immerse myself in inspirational books and articles. They help me keep my head about me,  keep my heart in the right space, and keep my soul anchored as I bring songs into the world. A particularly powerful book just had a fierce impact on my life. It's Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning." An incredibly powerful book for teaching how not to be run by your circumstances but to choose your reaction to all of life's twists, turns, tragedies, and struggles. One quote that really struck a soul cord in me and a resonate chord as well was the following quote:

"We had to learn ourselves and teach others that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us." 

I am about to embark on my first self produced solo album. We're set to record 10 of my original songs. These are all songs that I wrote myself on piano. I couldn't be more thrilled, excited, energized, fired up, inspired and terrified all at the same time. I've got my dream band, a fantastic studio, and all of the rehearsals seem to indicate that the songs will all flourish under the red light.

But one can never be sure or certain and that's what makes the creative process so constantly edgy. You never know you just have to go! Ready, set ...GO!

But every time I feel like running and hiding, I remember that quote and it helps me keep on going. It helps me remember that to contribute something of meaning to the world, with your heart and soul leading the way, is to be aligned with your purpose as a human being.

Music humbles me and honors my soul and I'm so thankful to be on this journey.

every moment grateful,
ak