50/90 (2020) Playlist

My goal for 50/90 this year was to work on my craft, moving forward in my EDM skills using the new features of Logic Pro X 10.5 and Ableton Live. So now I’m pretty much wrapping it up, although 50/90 officially goes through September. I’ve received a lot of awesome feedback, both praise and critique and I cherish my 50/90 community.

I’ve created a playlist with the tracks I produced this year, although I’m working on one more collab, so I may or may not add it to the list, mostly because I’ve been keeping my collabs on the 50/90 site as they involve other musicians, and we’ve been kinda mixing genres just for fun. Or I may add them…

So here it is, the 50/90 playlist for 2020:

First 3 Songs for #50/90 (#House #Music #Production)

My approach for 50/90 this year isn’t to see how many songs I can bang out in 90 days. Instead, I’m trying to see how many different styles of “House” music I can “master” and, therefore, focus on the genre and the quality of my productions in Ableton Live and Logic Pro X.

So far, here are the 3 songs I’ve written/produced/posted on 50/90 via SoundCloud:

Keep It Movin’ (Classic House)

Space Disco Party (Space Disco)

Catch the Moment (Deep House)

 

 

New Beginnings (#50/90 #poem #lyrics)

Yes, it’s the 4th of July, Independence Day for the U.S. but also the first day of 50/90 (the write 50 songs in 90 days challenge). And so a poem came to mind during the night, raw, for sure, but, inspired by “The Making of Frozen II” on Disney Plus, I post it as part of the process of 50/90.

New Beginnings

Surrender the old
Trust in the beginning
Embracing the new
In spite of the blues
These words to the wise
My fears not disguised

This time feels different
Body older and fragile
Relying on me no longer
My spirit is stronger
The old self-reliance
Becomes a castle of silence

My heart beats a longing
For what I know not
Showing up and suited
Desire deeply rooted
Stories and sounds on keyboards I write
What the muse whispers to me in the night

Gearing up for 50/90

Fifty-ninety begins July 4th and lasts through September 30. The challenge is to create 50 songs in 90 days. I think it will be an awesome way to focus.

Yesterday, I posted on my travel blog some thoughts about my childhood and how when we visited my step dad’s family in California’s Central Valley, I would leave the women behind in the living room talking about babies to sit with the men on the front porch talking trash about drinking, the neighbors, and other stuff I can’t remember while making home-made ice cream.

Anyway, that got me to thinking about how hanging out with musicians in places like FAWM and 50/90 and Sonic Academy is like hanging out with the guys on the front porch. While there are women there, the majority are men. And that’s more than okay.

I also notice that when I’m involved in podcasts and live videos in these communities, we focus on the music. Nothing else exists other than a passing comment about having more time to create music. There’s no politics. And it’s so refreshing.

So I’m thinking that maybe if I focus on the next 90 days, that when it’s over, all of this might be over. Or in a better place than where we are now. And if not, October brings Rocktober and November brings National Solo Album Month (NaSoAlMo), the music version of NaNoWriMo (instead of writing a novel in a month, you write an album). Maybe *then* it will be over. If not, then there’s Christmas and New Year’s and then maybe it will be over or mostly over in 2021.

 

Disco Queen to Queen of Beats (#EDM #music #producer)

Okay, so my latest toy is Kick 2 by Sonic Academy. Paired with Logic Pro X 10.5, well, I’m in beat heaven!

I used to joke that I was a Disco Queen, fell madly in love with disco the first time I walked into Earthquake Ethel’s and the pulsating beat led me to one of the three dance floors. (We didn’t take many photos back then, so this is the closest pic I can find from that era.)

So, it comes as no surprise, really, to find myself into EDM (Electronic Dance Music), especially because I’ve been involved professionally with electronic production since those early disco days. First in publishing, now in music.

Funny how people were determined to kill disco. Funny also how romance writers were determined to kill chick lit. Both my favorite genres. Well, I guess it’s true. I do seem to march to a different drummer, which means:

To act independently, differ in conduct or ideas from most others.

As Henry David Thoreau said in Walden (1854): “If a man(woman) does not keep pace with his(her) companions, perhaps it is because he(she) hears a different drummer.”

Discovering Sound Design

(This may be repetitive for those who have read this blog for some time, but in a nutshell, this is the background to my music journey.)

I’ve always loved singing – even from a young age. My mother tells the story of me, smudge on cheek, sitting on the front porch singing with my step dad while he played guitar – me having no idea what the lyrics were to the song. Later, I performed in the school choir and sang as a soloist. I played an electric organ I got for my 7th birthday. Later, I moved on to piano and when groups like the Beatles were all the rage, I even played a few chords on the guitar.

I was stumped by three things.

Being told:

  • You have a great ear for music
  • Your writing is poetic, almost lyrical in rhythm

The first one was said by my school music teacher and later, my vocal coach in Las Vegas (he appeared in Mamma Mia), and the second was my literary agent when she signed me for Real Women Wear Red.

Thinking:

  • My favorite words in 1st Grade were “said” and “David”
  • My favorite songs had stripper-like drums

Later, when I met my father, he said “All my kids play the drums” and then it all fell into place. That explained some of my favorite songs, and, of course, the “d” in those words sounded like a drum – lol!

I also discovered my grandmother wrote poetry. Ah… I started putting it all together, pursuing songwriting and got a new music keyboard. But something wasn’t quite coming together. Then, as I started studying music production, first GarageBand, then LogicPro, and now Ableton Live, I realized how much I loved “sound” – it’s something more than just music.

I recently purchased Kick2 and Ana2 from Sonic Academy, learning deeper levels of sound design. And I absolutely love it! This is so bringing me out of the doldrums this weird time in our world has brought to us.

This also brings up questions, such as:

  • Should I do 50/90 this year?
  • Will I renew my TAXI A&R membership?

Neither seem all that focused on the kind of music and/or sounds I’m creating. Perhaps it’s time to reassess my goals.

Blogmas, Day 30: End-of-Year Ableton Live Progress (#blogmas)

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.

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.

April is Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo #CampNaNoWriMo)

I’ve been gearing up for writing 30 poems in 30 days for #NaPoWriMo this April but I’ve just learned of #CampNaNoWriMo (April version of #NaNoWriMo–Novel Writing Month). Something has got to give! After #FAWM (February Album Writing Month), I’ve decided that perhaps I should give my ears a break and write a novel and poetry instead. I can gear back up for 50/90 (50 Songs in 90 Days) from July-October.

I’ve never been a fan of these writing challenges before but, somehow, where I am in life is leading me to loving them.

I’d just joined TAXI, I still have two months of NSAI membership, recently enrolled in a Logic Pro X Music Production class and got some new killer speakers, so I am feeling a bit guilty about putting music aside to focus on other writing. But, I tell myself, it’s only for one month. I still have time for 50/90, and I still have time for the TAXI Road Rally in November.

Let’s see how this year plays out.