2019: the Year of Many Firsts for Me in Music

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:

In the Studio Discovering a New Path and Identity

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

 

L.A. Nights Book Trailer is Live

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.

Music vs. Fiction: Music Always Wins #amwriting #songwriting

January has just begun and already I’m in trouble. Choosing to focus on writing and music, I realize I must designate one as the priority because both of them take enormous skill and time and focus to succeed. Sure, I can pursue both, but I must choose which will be number one in my life. I keep returning to this truth for me.

Music always wins. And now I have a separate designated studio in my home, which is great because then the cats can’t chew the wires. 🙂

But songwriting still counts as writing, right? Will that be enough or will I have to fit in fiction, too? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Besides, I can always write fiction during breaks from music because you always need breaks, right? But there are just so many pieces to a song, including vocal warmups, as Shelly Peiken writes about in her latest blog post here.

 

 

You’re Somebody Else (Warming Up for #2019)

We all have goals we set for the new year, and I’m setting goals for both writing and songwriting, I’ve been struggling with how to juggle both but I find that instead of saying I’ll do music in the morning and writing in the afternoon or vice verse, I just have to go where the muse leads me – as long as it leads me somewhere on a daily (M-F) basis.

The best way I know to start warming up with music is to do some rehearsal vocals as a singalong cover song. So as I was rearranging the kitchen cabinets (have I told you how tiny this kitchen is?) in the Vegas house, I heard this song on Spotify and just had to do my thing with it.

So, here it is, warming up with “You’re Somebody Else” (Flora Cash).

#Blogtoberfest Day 23: Why I Won’t Be Doing #NaNoWriMo

As hard as I’ve tried to get back into writing fiction – taking a class from the Las Vegas chapter of RWA and reading No Plot, No Problem – to motivate myself to join NaNoWriMo for the month of November, I just can’t do it. I’m too far gone when it comes to music these days and I’m dreaming of upgrading my studio.


(Photo: iPhone snap from Sweeetwater Ad in Electronic Musician magazine)

#Blogtoberfest Day 5: Social Media Makes You Stupid

I believe that people aren’t normally stupid. Dysfunction, inauthenticity makes people look stupid. Social media actually makes people do stupid. It dulls your brain, your thinking ability, lessens your communication/people skills.

Take writing, for example. It’s often been said that you need to exercise your writing muscle and write every day or most days to stay strong. So inactivity weakens that writing muscle. And if you’re inactively writing because you’re sharing photos and likes on social media, your brain becomes lazy.

And so I sit here day after day this October unable to focus on writing a scene. It’s like when I first started writing, only worse. Back then, it took me all day to actually sit down and write a scene. I had good intentions of starting my writing day int he morning. But I couldn’t get anything out of my head until about 4 p.m.

Now I’d be happy if I could do that. Instead, my brain is jello, my attention span is ridiculously short. It’s easier to flip through youtube channels, peek into Twitter, and play a game on my iPad. I might read, but even that seems like a challenge – all of that focus on understanding content.

This is sad and must come to an end. I must sit down  and write every day to get that flabby writing muscle in shape. Even music has become a crutch – it’s easier to open up Logic Pro and start auditioning Apple loops or keyboard a few midi notes.

Maybe that’s what #Blogtoberfest is all about for me – getting my writing muscle back in shape. A daily blog post is the warm-up, hopefully leading to writing a sentence, a paragraph, a page, three pages maybe. That used to come so easily. But one thing I’m noticing is that I feel such peace when I’m sitting down and actually writing something… anything.

 

“All My Kids Play the Drums”

“All my kids play the drums,” my father said during the early days of discovery after we made our first adult contact. (My father was serving in the Naval Air Force overseas when I was born and before he returned home, my mother had broken up with him via a “Dear John” letter and  married somebody else.)

Anyway, back to the drums. This was quite an illuminating moment for me because drums had always been my “guilty secret.” I mean, what kind of nice girl loves the music to the “Stripper” as played on that Gillette commercial? lol! Me, that’s who. I could never understand this draw to the drums until that moment.

I’d discovered my family’s whereabouts through the Internet before social media existed. The first contact was with one of my father’s brothers. He was the one who said, “Welcome to the family. Now that you know you’re a Holmes, you’re going to want to pay attention to music.”

I’d always loved music, sang in the school choir, even soloed, had taken piano lessons, become quite bored with the scales, my step dad taught me a few chords on the guitar, and the school music teacher insisted I take some kind of instrument because I had such a great “ear.” I chose the violin – ick! If only I’d known the drums were my instrument – lol! Or at least beats as this former Disco queen is discovering all kinds of EDM.

 

#NaPoWriMo, #CampNanoWriMo, #LogicProX: Making Tough Choices

The closer it gets to April 1st, the more overwhelmed I am about trying to do CampNano (novel), NaPo (poems), and  LogicProX (music production) classes. It ain’t gonna happen. 🙂

Something’s gotta give and it’s going to be CampNano. Ouch! I have such mixed feelings about it. I’ve been trying to write both music and novels but, really, they use two different sides of the brain and it’s tough switching back and forth.

Oh sure, I sometimes see a scene and I’ll write it down and that’s fine. And sometimes writing is not only a much needed break but a break from so much technology. (Learning signal flow in Logic Pro reminds me of Mixed Signal Design Flow back at Cadence in the glory days so yes, I can do it eventually). But I don’t think I can sign up to officially pursue it all at once. Not really.