“Keep It Movin'” (#50/90 Challenge for #MusicMonday Kickoff)

My plan was to wait for October to do a blocktober/vlogtober deal, but I couldn’t wait. So last week I posted a video/blog post for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” for #Writer #WineWednesday and today I’m kicking off my first #MusicMonday with a video highlighting my 50/90 kickoff song, “Keep it Movin.”

I started off 50/90 with that song because the song prompt was about introducing yourself and I think “Keep it Movin” is a great introduction to me because (a) I love a dance club beat and (b) We need to keep moving forward no matter what life throws at you.

Of course it’s accompanied by some biker video from Mount Charleston (one hour from the #LasVegas Strip) and I couldn’t help but mention my two novels that feature a Las Vegas setting, “French Martini” and “Lucky’s Last Chance.”

It’s a lot to take in, but I’m hoping you will find something there that you like.

Have a good Monday!
Keep it Movin’

 

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.

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon, the Book, the Poem, the Tour, and Now the Song (#FAWM)

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.

So, naturally, I turned that into a song for FAWM 2020. Check it out. I hope you like it – the song, poem, the tour, and the book. 🙂

#1 EDM Artist in Las Vegas on Reverbnation

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!

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.

Blogmas, Day 26: Starving Artist vs Thriving Artist (#blogmas)

Blogmas was so much fun, I, like many of you, have decided to extend it for a little bit longer. And as I grapple with plans for 2020 (as many of you), I’ve been doing a lot of mad reading.

My current read is Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins, and I’ve made some interesting discoveries as he makes many points about the “starving artist” vs the “thriving artist.”

Like maybe I don’t have to choose and shouldn’t choose between going all in with music or writing. I should be pursuing both. I can’t seem to help myself anyway, so I may as well give myself permission. The real challenge, I think, is getting up-to-speed on the music so that I can juggle both.

Here are a couple of insightful quotes I found:

Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill.

Starving Artists believe that to make a living you must make money off your art. But Thriving Artists don’t just live off their art. Like good investors, they keep diverse portfolios, relying on multiple income streams to make a living. Rarely do they go all in on any single area of work. The challenge, then, is knowing what investments to make and when.

Good advice, I think. The thing is, I can’t really stand over either one and demand it pay off. I do the work, put it out there, and then the return on my investment comes as a surprise when I least expect it. My job as an artist is to suit up and show up.

 

Dig in and Hold On (#lyrics #poem #50/90)

Fifty Ninety (50 songs in 90 days) is starting in a couple of days so it’s time to start writing poems in more of a song form for potential songs.

I’ve been quiet for too long
Sitting at the library reading those books
Writing in my diary dodging those looks
Gotta show ‘em who I am
Show ‘em what I’ve got
Not gotta lie down, I’m way too strong

Stomp, stomp, scream and shout
Let your inner diva out

Dig in and hold on
It’s time to make some noise
Stuck in my head for way too long
Pedal to the medal, come on, girls, let’s race some boys

I dug out old photographs of my old boyfriends
The ones he “made” me throw away
Instead I hid them along with my dignity
Jonesing for a second chance
now he’s down and out
Begging for some money I could lend no doubt

Stomp, stomp, scream and shout
Let your inner diva out

Dig in and hold on
It’s time to make some noise
Stuck in my head for way too long
Pedal to the medal, come on, girls, let’s race some boys

Not gonna feel guilty
He had more than a second chance
Running through women, drugs, and money
Laughing like the truth was so funny

Stomp, stomp, scream and shout
Let your inner diva out

Dig in and hold on
It’s time to make some noise
Stuck in my head for way too long
Pedal to the medal, come on, girls, let’s race some boys

Stomp, stomp, scream and shout
Let your inner diva out

Dig in and hold on
It’s time to make some noise
Stuck in my head for way too long
Pedal to the medal, come on, girls, let’s race some boys

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.

Tequila, Take Me Home

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.

I Freakin’ Love Music Production

So I started my Silicon Valley career in book production working for San Francisco publishers and printers before I segued to high tech companies in San Jose. Unfortunately, production departments were eventually incorporated into technical writing so I was forced to do both. But I’ve always had a thing for production. And now it’s music production.

You know how you can’t seem to avoid people on Facebook who follow some site called “I freakin’ love science” (to put it nicely). Well, I freakin’ love music production. I can’t resist watching videos of music producers working in their studios. Oh, yeah, Loopcloud isn’t bad either.

Check out this video about the latest version of Loopcloud.

Heavenly Holmes Band (Musical Family Story and Testimony)

I grew up up without knowing my father or my father’s family. It’s complicated. But my maternal grandmother was a staunch Jehovah’s Witness and my father’s family were Baptists and she wasn’t about to hand me over to the Baptists. How ironic I should become Catholic. 🙂

Anyway, when I came into contact with my father and his family in my 40s, my Uncle Don said:

“Now that you know you’re a Holmes, you’re going to want to pay attention to music.”

And he began to tell me the family stories and the talents of the family I had never known.

Along about the same time, my literary agent said:

“Your writing has a poetic, almost lyrical rhythm to it.”

What did that mean? Poetic? Me? Lyrical? Really? But I had heard that my paternal grandmother wrote poetry and my grandfather was a musician, so I started to look at my love of music and this lyrical rhythm I apparently had to see what I might do about it. That was the beginning of my serious pursuit of music, including songwriting.

As the story goes, my great grandfather made musical instruments and, of course, then, he could play all of them. My grandfather played the keys and sang in a band (besides, being a pitcher for the Memphis Chicks), my uncles and dad either sang and/or played various instruments, from guitar to drums to bass to the keyboard.

In school, I’d heard that I had a musical ear. My vocal coach in Las Vegas (who had appeared in Mamma Mia on stage), said I had a great ear for music. Anyway, back to music in school, I sang in the choir, solo’d and played the organ, piano, guitar, and violin in fits and starts. The constant for me was singing – that was my favorite part. And as a modern musician, I’ve discovered that, like great grandpa, I love to arrange an assortment of instruments through music production – I absolutely love that!

All of that family except for one younger uncle are gone now so I like to think that some day I’ll play and sing with the Heavenly Holmes Band. (For more about Uncle Ron’s musical talent, check out his obituary).

Listening to Travis Greene this afternoon, I’m calling on the Heavenly Holmes Band to be my prayer warriors and all play and sing this song together:

 

 

FAWM 2019 (Original Songs)

Today is the last day of FAWM (February Album Writing Month) 2019 and I finished all 14 songs. Songwriters have different goals for FAWM but it’s a time to experiment, get creative, try different things.

This was my second FAWM and it went a lot better than my first. I’m making progress – yay! I noticed that I did a lot more EDM than before and I’m thinking that’s turning into my strong suit.

Here’s my playlist for FAWM 2019.

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.

 

 

The November Unplugging Experiment

I managed to unplug from social media and blogging for the month of November but I’m not quite sure of the results. Perhaps it’s too soon. But I can say I did more reading, took more classes in electronic music production, learned more songs on my music keyboard, and wrote more lyrics by unplugging.

December finds me halfway across the country in another cross-country move. The new house will give me a casita for a dedicated music studio, which I’m very excited about. This reinforces my belief that I’m supposed to be focusing on music at this stage of my life. I’m certainly being equipped. Now it’s up to me to do the work.

There’s so much more I long to learn and do and accomplish when it comes to music. I’m hungry for it. I’ve got so much lost time to make up for by neglecting it for so many years. I urge you to never give up pursuing your art. But there’s a specific time for everything. Perhaps only now am I ready for this.

And thinking now about how all of you reading this blog and I are connecting in some artistic way inspires me more than I can say.

#Blogtoberfest Day 26: Unplugging in November

Instead of doing #NaNoWriMo in November, I’m going to unplug – at least somewhat. What I will not be doing (or trying not to):

  • Blogging
  • Reading on Kindle
  • Watching travel videos on Youtube (okay, maybe once a week)
  • Sleeping with my iPhone
  • Playing gin rummy on my iPad

What I hope I will be doing:

  • Practicing the keys
  • Writing songs and/or fiction
  • Reading paperbacks and/or hard cover books
  • Going to Barnes & Noble
  • Visiting the Guitar Center

I also plan to delete my LinkedIn account. I only returned because the old Lynda.com was now part of LinkedIn and they forced me to rejoin LinkedIn to access it. Each time I renew for another month, they change how they work. Now you have to use iTunes to manage your payments, which I try to avoid as often as possible. iTunes – ugh! I”d like to delete LinkedIn immediately, but I still have access to classes for most of November.

Except for Twitter, I’ve deleted my other social media accounts. Even the word “social media” creeps me out – lol!

Ah, but then there’s YouTube. I subscribe to several travel Vloggers, but I’ve noticed that by watching their travel experiences, my travel experience is diminished. It’s helpful to read about places you might visit, but YouTube vlogs kinda take away the surprise, those things you stumble upon which make your experience so much richer.

And I really dislike all the begging to subscribe and share and donate money. I definitely think I need to avoid travel vloggers. At first I thought that might be the hardest thing for me to give up, but it’s getting old and I’m not enjoying the videos as much.

I have no idea how November might change me, but I hope to update you all in December.