You may recall that I’d just finished a publicity tour for my psychological suspense novel, Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon at the end of 2019 before starting FAWM on February 1st. Well, during the tour, I’d written a poem about the book here.
Wow! The thing I thought would never happen happened! Screamie Birds is now the #1 EDM artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation.
I’ve bounced around between #2 and #10, but mostly keeping steady at #2. Last week I went from #2 to #3. But now, for the first time I’m the #1 EDM artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation. I thought it would never happen! So stoked! Time to create some music!
Many of you blogging this blogmas have mentioned the books you’ve enjoyed reading over the holidays. And in the past, that might have been me, too, especially if you mean fiction. But this year I’ve been cramming learning Ableton Live, taking tutorials and reading non fiction books. Gearing up for FAWM (“February Album Writing Month”), I guess
Logic Pro X is my DAW of choice but as an EDM producer, I wanted to learn Ableton Live. It seems so suited to the music genre. But it’s been quite a struggle in some ways, in others it’s been a breeze. I think that’s because each DAW specializes in different areas. I can sit down and start creating a song right away in Logic Pro, in Ableton, it seems the simplest things are the most difficult. But when it comes to mastering more of the advanced features in music production, Ableton seems to do it much more easily.
And while I’ve been madly applying myself to music tutorials for Ableton, I stumbled upon some really cool ones for Logic Pro, too, and have learned some interesting things I’m quite excited about. What to do, what to do? Ableton Live or Logic Pro? Well, I suppose I really don’t have to choose because I imagine it’s good for a producer to know more than one DAW. The real choice is which one do I use in the moment? lol!
There are a lot of tutorials out there, but it can be challenging following along. Sometimes they use third party plug-ins that you don’t have or their techniques zip past you so fast, you can’t possibly keep up. I’ve probably tried dozens just on one site. Anyway, here’s a sample song I managed to figure out in Ableton Live (via Groove3) from programming drums and synths to mixing and adding special effects such as EQ, reverb, and automation.
War of Art by Steven Pressfield was one of the books circling the Writing Community back when I first started writing. For some reason, I recently dug it out (on Kindle) and reread it. And then I downloaded the follow-up book Do the Work. I highly recommend it if you have any desire at all about pursuing art as a profession instead of a hobby or anything in-between.
I’ve been juggling writing and music, unsure about how to pursue which one. Is one my profession and the other hobby or both professions or both hobbies? What do I really want to accomplish with either?
One reason I did the December book tour for Déjà Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon and #Blogmas featuring all of my books, was to see if I could get my writing career back moving in the forward direction it had been moving before social media and the new algorithm, before the saturation of other books and writers, before fantasy and vampires and erotica took over the world (or whatever it was that halted that forward momentum), to see how serious readers and the Universe are about me as a writer. But, perhaps, the real reason for the turn was to turn me toward my real calling, which just might be music.
I’ve tried to pursue both, but I really think you need to choose one or the other if you’re going to pursue any as a profession. Besides the tours, as a good-bye salute, I’ve also made sure all of my books are available in paperback as well as Kindle. Some had only been available in digital form. I guess I’m wrapping things up to prepare the way to move on.
Of course, if the world clamors for my books on Amazon, breathing new life into my writing career, okay, then I’ll get that message to keep providing new books. Otherwise, I’m going to assume music is my future calling and 2020 is the time to go all in.
It’s that time of year when we start looking back over the year to see how we did in whatever we’d hoped to pursue or accomplish at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve the year before.
So, as I start to look back on 2018, I realize there were many firsts for me musically. And while February may have brought my second FAWM, July through September enticed me to try my first 50/90 (write 50 songs in 90 days challenge). During that time, I even took on the challenge of trying out Ableton Live 10 (Standard Version). I’m now upgrading to Suite with so much more to learn yet.
All of that was so much fun, making friends and sharing music with other musicians, I couldn’t resist participating in my first Rocktober (Rock cover songs done your way) in October. Now I’m counting down to the next FAWM, looking forward to meeting up with some of my new friends, to see what they’re doing musically, and to see how far I hope to come by February.
Listening to some of the songs I wrote/produced this year, one of my favorites is Pop the Clutch:
Just returned from a birthday trip to SoCal, so I’m a little behind with 50/90 (50 songs in 90 days), but thought I’d post my 5th and favorite song (so far). Check it out:
Woke up to another beautiful sunny day here in Las Vegas and that means waking up early this time of year. The dawn begins to break a little before 5 am and by 6, I can no longer stay in bed. I climb down the stairs from the third floor, stopping off on the second floor to grab a cup of coffee before continuing on to my first floor studio.
I log onto my Mac and continue with a Master Class on Electronic Dance Music, which I absolutely love and have loved since my Disco days. Playing around with sound triggers the knowledge I now have about my father and that side of a musical family – the family I did not know growing up. People did that more back then – when the couple split, that was the end of the father and “hello, step dad” who was now dad (sometimes you didn’t know he wasn’t your dad), and you used his last name.” Good-bye identity.
But that is old news. What strikes me today as I play around with sounds for an Electro Pop song is that knowing I have an “ear for music,” (told to me throughout my school years and later by my Las Vegas vocal coach, who happened to be starring in “Mamma Mia” on stage), was how lonely it was for me to have these gifts but not really understand them, unable to embrace my true identity because I was surrounded by strangers who were family. Strangers because my mother and half-siblings did not have these gifts, although to his credit, my step dad played the guitar. Ironically, he was the most supportive of my music. But my mother and siblings seemed to want to down play my musical gifts. Subtly, of course. 😮
So here I am, decades later, having met and discovered my family and my identity, pursuing my love for music, embracing all that I am. It’s a thrill, a triumph, but with a sense of loss and regret of the choices that others made for me. And why I’m such an advocate for children, whether adopted or conceived through sperm and egg donors or anything that has gotten in the way of children not knowing who they truly are. It’s an outrage!
Over ten years ago (closer to fifteen now), I wrote and published my story in Myths of the Fatherless, but I think it’s needed even more today.
In the Studio: Electro Pop song in progress
Story and Music by Kathy Holmes
I love making book trailers, using visuals and making my own music to give a peek into a story I also wrote. L.A. Nights is available as a standalone short story or as part of the Cougars in Cabo anthology. For more information, see SHORT STORIES under the BOOKS menu.
I wrote this song when we were living in Florida. We were having lunch at La Fiesta, the most Southern California Mexican restaurant in the New Smyrna Beach/Daytona area and I was soaking up the atmosphere, the Mexican music, and the “Mexican Margarita,” as they called it. It was my favorite, if not a bit strong.
A Native Californian, I was so homesick for the West Coast so I took a drink and said, “Tequila, Take Me Home.” That became a song.
So when Taxi A&R had a listing for “drinking songs,” I submitted it. Well, it was not forwarded. But after last night’s episode where they played many of the submissions and we got to vote +1 or -1 as to whether we thought it should be forwarded, I realized my mistake. It was not a “drinking song” in the real meaning of that. It was more of a homesick song – lol!
I have a couple of other drinking songs that would have been more appropriate but they need some work. But it might be good to do the work now because you never know when they might just have another call for that kind of song.
Another song I wrote for FAWM this year is now live on Spotify: I Want To, a bit experimental in electronica. Hope you like (add me to your playlist) and follow me.
(This is just an excerpt. To hear the entire song, log into your Spotify account to play it.)
I’m pretty sure I won’t really be doing NaNoWriMo – oh, sure, I’ll continue to write the tome I seem to be working on when the mood strikes, ie, a scene or emotion comes to me that I must write down. Maybe because these days music is my main focus. And that is quite a juggling act.
In Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, published by Berklee Press, it says this about writing lyrics upfront, right in the introduction, the first page of the book:
You will have no trouble learning about lyric structure. It is simple, just like juggling. When a juggler keeps four balls in the air at once it may seem like magic, but there is no magic involved. The juggler learned by throwing one ball up and catching it, throwing and catching, stopping and starting the motion; always gaining greater control over the movement of the ball. Then came two balls, then three, throwing and catching, stopping and starting, with greater and greater control.
As a lyricist, you must learn to juggle four balls.
1. How many phrases does it have?
2. How long is each phrase?
3. What is the rhythm of each phrase?
4. How are rhymes arranged?
And that’s just the lyrics. Then there’s the music, and music production. Each piece requires great skill, learning the craft, and practice. And then they all must work together – prosody, that’s what it’s all about.
The Flame, Leonard Cohen’s last book of poetry (and more), arrives on Friday. I can’t wait to read it, especially after reading some of the poems in the sample. I got the hard cover because some books should be read in print.
I love that his songs started out as poems. My first song submitted for professional feedback to a NY Broadway composer started out as a poem and he led me down the path to making it a song.
In Nashville, “writing to title” co-write sessions are scheduled – they have nothing to do with poetry but the good news is everybody in the room gets songwriter credit. (Two NSAI mentors loved one of my “hooks” but somehow my story wasn’t the usual Nashville story and it didn’t go anywhere).
In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter by Shelly Peiken, she laments today’s songwriter in L.A. being relegated to “topliner” – the person who is called in to write the melody or lyric or maybe just a hook or phrase. The “producer” provides the “backing track” and gets 50% of writing credit and the rest is divvied up according to some sort of formula.
But you know what? This is what you get when a society decides that humans can be created the same way – sperm donor meets egg donor meets surrogate and somehow the couple who purchases all of this genetic material becomes the “parents” and a “family” is created.
I don’t see much difference in creating a human and in creating a song today. Very sad with many consequences with this type of thinking. But that’s the world people have shouted into being. At least for now. I pray that people will come to their senses some day.
I experienced my first FAWM (February Album Writing Month) this year and going in, I thought it would be like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – you post your words but nobody sees them). But for FAWM, the whole point is to write an album and get comments, collab, and connect with other musicians.
This has turned out to be so cool! Some people are still hanging around and posting more comments so I peek in now and then to see what some are saying about my music and to discover other people’s music.
The interesting thing to me is that the two songs I thought were just too far out there have been getting compared to David Bowie (and Laurie Anderson) so I guess I’m not too strange after all. 🙂
Take a listen for yourself – strictly work tapes:
Wise Woman (Wisest Woman I Would Ever Know)
I Missed the Train
We’re just about halfway through FAWM (February Album Writing Month – similar to NaNoWriMo for novelists), and I’m getting clarity on where I’d like to move forward in music and it comes as no surprise really. EDM. Electronic Dance Music or maybe just Electronic Music.
It’s a natural fit. I started my career in electronic publishing in San Francisco back in the day when that was the new shiny thing. I totally loved it. And it took me to Silicon Valley. Writing about technology. That led to writing novels. And now it seems I’ve come full circle with Electronic Music.
I earned a certificate in “Modern Musicianship,” including music production, which is so cool because I use my technology expertise and blend it with my love/gifts in music.
To kick this off, I’ve enrolled in a Synthesizer class and I can’t wait to get started!
One comment I got for one the songs I was experimenting with Synth I posted on FAWM:
It’s cool to see this type of songwriting with this production. I like how experimental the synths sound.
My first song, Everybody Lies, isn’t quite EDM but it shows signs of moving onto that path. So now I know what kind of music to work on for my first album.