Breaking Out of “Cave Syndrome” with the Help of Tommy Bahama

After over a year of isolation, writing and producing music in my home studio, I had a feeling I would find it difficult to get back to “normal” life. I’d remembered how during a time in the Bay Area in-between jobs, I found it difficult to leave Fremont to commute to San Jose. And after this past year when my world shrank even more, I would not be surprised if I struggled to go out for fun.

We’d gone to SoCal a few times for special events at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland, but I kept finding reasons not to go out to a restaurant here in Las Vegas. Rich kept making reservations at Tommy Bahama, but I talked him into ordering in from various places instead.

But when I found myself sitting in the garage Friday afternoon waiting for Rich to finish his work day in his upstairs office, reading about “Cave Syndrome,” I knew it was time to take steps.

Rich made another reservation at Tommy’s and we actually went. But walking to the restaurant from the parking garage, passing strangers wearing the usual masks, I wondered if I was truly ready. Had this thing changed me forever, leaving me in a mental haze where all of life seems a bit dim?

But as soon as we were seated, we noticed that unlike Disney, we were not required to sit there wearing masks until our food arrived, and, unlike Disney, our server was mask free (allowed if vaccinated), my heart leapt with joy! Suddenly, life was feeling a lot rosier, the fog began to lift. And by the time my Blood Orange Margarita and Rich’s Key Lime Martini arrived, I was downright ecstatic!

I began to feel hopeful that there is, indeed, life after Covid, that I can do the WDW trip, and that maybe even our November cruise is possible! It was quite a watershed moment.

How Silicon Valley Prepared Me for Book and Music Production

Reading It’s All About Him, written by Alan Jackson’s wife, Denise, I’m thinking how when I heard “Here in the Real World,” back in 1992, working in book production at a Silicon Valley high-tech firm, I thought he’d really made it. But when the song came out in 1990, he was far from making it at all. Living in a tiny basement apartment in Nashville with a pregnant wife, “Here in the Real World” was the second song his label had released and it was unclear whether they would keep him or drop him.

I started thinking about how successful I felt in Silicon Valley when I moved into technical writing, earning writing and publishing awards from the “Society of Technical Publications.” I sometimes say I got my PhD in that world, and, for the most part, it was a really awesome fit for me: the companies I worked for, the people I worked with (eventually marrying one of my co-workers), and the opportunities it brought me.

I would later grow wearing of that stressful, high-pressure day-to-day life, Las Vegas became my relaxing getaway, wondering what it would be like to be a cocktail waitress – lol! Eventually, my heart would start leading me to more creative pursuits.

I began writing fiction, starting with short stories as part of the well-known  “The Writer’s Loft” program in Chicago. I moved into fiction and by the time I wrote my third novel, Real Women Wear Red, at the height of the Chick Lit boom, I got an agent, and was offered a publishing contract.

Long story short, when the Indie author movement started going strong, I was able to use my book production skills to publish as an Indie author. I’ve done better as an Indie than I did when I was with publishers, certainly, the smaller publishers.

But then that market became oversaturated and I kept dreaming of my first love, music. In my youth, I didn’t pursue music as an artist because I knew you had to be spectacular to make it and while I’d sung a bit here and there, I wasn’t spectacular by a long shot. And I didn’t know of any other music path, at least not one I was interested in.

Fast forward to today with the ability to produce your own music in your own studio. Now I see that those same book production skills (with a propensity toward software) I learned in Silicon Valley help me now with continuing to learn new music production skills.

Push2 is the latest instrument I’m learning and with that and my Novation Launchkey keyboard, I’m hoping to advance more in more in creating my own melodies, instead of relying on loops and samples. Recently, a collab partner from FAWM told me he wants to release one of our songs commercially, but the melody was not copyright free so we could not use it. Between his piano skills and my production skills, I think we’ve come up with something we can use instead.

I have no idea where music will take me, even if it’s just the thrill of making it for myself, but I’m excited when I think about how far I’ve come from Silicon Valley production editor to producing my own music.

 

For the Love of Music (Production)

I suppose I could have gone back to school to complete a degree but I had gotten so far without it. Perhaps if I’d wanted to change careers, it might have been worth it. But to go through all that time, effort, and money to continue doing what I was doing already didn’t seem worth it. Just to make other people happy and to avoid those awkward interview questions, certainly not.

For one thing, the only thing I really wanted to do was to make music and through targeting specific classes, training, and certificate programs, I’ve been able to learn what I need to know. That’s how I got as far as I did in Silicon Valley in the first place. Truth be told, I loved my work more when I was in book production – so much more creative than technical writing.

And so music production is where I’ve landed in the music world. And I absolutely love it.

Push2 Has Stolen My Heart in My New Red Studio #Ableton

Ableton Live’s Push2 arrived last Friday and my first order of business was to rearrange my studio. First, I got a small, corner desk to replace the tri-level monster I thought I had to have.

Unfortunately, this bedroom in this house is smaller than I’m used to. I got out the tape measure and it is not the 10×10.1 feet the floorplan showed. It was supposed to be .1” larger than hubby’s next door. As it turns out, his is larger so we switched rooms. I left him the large desk because smaller spaces don’t bother him the way they do me.

Anyway, his office with the large desk looks so professional, compared to the dining room table he was using. And that room has always had more of a masculine feel with the dark grey drapes and chair. It’s perfect for him.

So, not only did I get the bigger room, but a smaller, corner desk was what I was after, along with red drapes, red bookcase, and red chair. I am so pleased.

And then I was ready to install Push2 and start playing with it (with some tutorial guidance via Sonic Academy). I am having a blast! So much so that I totally hated spending some time editing the third book of the “Real Women Wear Red” trilogy yesterday morning. (Now you see why my studio is decorated in red – lol!)

Don’t know if I will get back to editing since I’d like to really know what I’m doing with Push2 by the time 50/90 begins in July. Besides, my heart just isn’t into writing fiction these days. That time may be behind me now. Now it’s all about the music!

The next step, I think, is to get this table I saw on Wayfair to replace the low bench. Then I can have a place for my third keyboard instead of it sitting on the chair. The red chair may not fit if I do, though. I may have to keep looking for the right thing.

Last Track Before Push 2 #Ableton #Music #Producer

I finally did it – ordered Push 2! It’s on its way. In the meantime, I’m finishing up some tutorials highlighting the new features on Ableton Live 11.

To experiment, I started playing around with some Disco sounds and came up with this track – it may be the last track I create in Ableton 11 before getting Push 2. Curious what I will do with Push 2, but the part that I find the most intriguing is the drum sequencer. We’ll see how it goes…

And then there’s that Dub/Techno riff I mentioned earlier… perhaps that will be the first track using Push 2.

 

“Never Met a Machine I Didn’t Like”

Will Rogers may have said, “I never met a man I didn’t like,” but my mother once said, “I never met a machine I didn’t like.”

Reading some of the “End of Absence” book I mentioned in my previous post, I realized a couple of things:

  1. The problem today isn’t the internet, it’s social media
  2. How you perceive problems today is who you are

In illustrating the “problem” today, the author tells the story of babies used to pinching an iPad to gain a bigger view and doing the same thing to a newspaper or magazine, as if that’s a problem.

The truth is, I do the same thing when I’m using a laptop. So used to mobile devices, I automatically expect the same thing on a laptop. Besides, when the baby gets older, he’ll know the difference between a paperback and an iPad. And no doubt they will still be around. After all, vinyl records have made a comeback when people thought they were gone for good.

I believe in human nature, and if all this technology creates a problem in the future, they’ll figure it out.

As for kids texting each other when they’re sitting next to each other, perceiving it as a need for companionship without the hassles of real-life people, I have to say that maybe that is a valid solution in today’s crowded, super busy world. If you know history or have watched movies set in the past or have read historical fiction, you’re aware of the “mountain” men who struggled when this country began to be populated. They increasingly sought out the wilderness, going to Alaska, etc.

So maybe texting each other, even in the same room is okay if you’re not neglecting other people in the room. Introverts react to today differently than extroverts.

Artists (writers, musicians, painters, etc) may react differently, too.

I’m definitely an introvert and have been using computers since 1976, unlike most people of my generation who reluctantly started using computers only when “forced” to.

I’m probably more comfortable behind a computer than sitting in a group of people I’m expected to interact with. But no worries there, I remember my mother, a business machines major back in the 1950s, once said, “I never met a machine I didn’t like.” We teased her about that and she laughed, a bit embarrassed. But oh so telling.

People are different and we all react to today’s technology differently. I, personally think the problem is social media, not technology. I’m absolutely thrilled how technology has given me the opportunity to create electronic dance music. I may be older and do not have kids so I don’t always know what’s going on with them, but my music is one way I connect with younger people. And I love that.

Words to Live By

I’m often torn between focusing on writing novels and producing music. As if I must make a choice. And even though I know I don’t have to choose, not choosing does present a challenge of focus. Sometimes it’s difficult to be good at anything if you’re not focused on one thing.

However, my husband reminded me of this Erma Bombeck quote:


These are definitely words I want to live by.

“Everybody Lies” – Sneak Peek Short Story and Song Now on Amazon and YouTube

After my “Everybody Lies” House Remix, I created a video highlighting the song and the short story called “Everybody Lies,” which is a peek into a novel called Everybody Lies. The short story that kicks off the novel was super hot with agents. When I was making the submission rounds, that opening often garnered full manuscript requests, which was pretty exciting.

The novel is now being edited but if you want to know when it will be released, you can sign up here.

EVERYBODY LIES

Forty-year-old Sherry Boyd has never really grown up. She’s living life in a fantasy, in a world where life is played out in a Hollywood musical. The stories she heard about the father she has never met, how her parents met when her mother worked as an usher at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and of her charismatic father performing on stage have fed her own dreams to follow in her fantasy father’s footsteps.

Trouble is, Sherry is dreaming her life away instead of following her passion. When she finds herself floundering in Florida after following her latest lover, Matt, from San Francisco to Key West, she knows that something has to change. Not knowing how to dig herself out of her latest mess, she continues to repeat her mistakes of singing in jazz joints and hanging out with musicians until she finally realizes she has to confront the lies from the past to face the future.

Guest Appearances:

Monterey Jack from the Real Women Wear Red and Real Women Sing the Blues

Babs from Letters on Balboa Island

“Uncle Frankie” from Letters on Balboa Island

EVERYBODY LIES Now Available as a Short Story peek for your Kindle.

“Best of FAWM” Album Now on BandCamp

Did I tell you how I kept thinking about uploading an album on Bandcamp back when it was a plug-in on WordPress.com? Well, I finally got around to finishing the album and uploaded it on Bandcamp, but now it’s no longer a thing on WordPress. Sheesh! Oh well, at least I got it done – lol!

And here it is:

My First Podcast: Cruise Ship Night Life

Missing cruise ship night life? Okay, so maybe you’re missing night life of any kind. But cruise ship nightlife is pretty much all the night life I do. Or did. So I created a dance track using a few of the new tracks I created during FAWM, and upload it to YouTube. It was so much fun making – both the DJ track and the YouTube video. Hope you enjoy!

You can find it on YouTube by searching for Screamie Birds Studios or by clicking the link below:

To cruise virtually, check out my two novels set on cruise ships:

Real Women Wear Red and Real Women Sing the Blues.

Thanks for listening to my first podcast from my WordPress blog at kathyholmes.net.

 

EDM: For Those Who Connect With Sound, Not Lyrics (#EDM #Music #Producer #Novelist #WritingCommunity)

I read this tweet (no, I haven’t quite deleted my Twitter account, although I do try to keep my peeks to a minimum), and this thought resonated with me. It explains so much. Especially when I realized I liked the sound of words, not the words themselves. This goes way back to the first grade. I loved the word “said” and the name “David” – the “d” sounds like a drum in my head.

When I met my father later in life (I may or may not have met him when I was a small child), he said, “All my kids play the drums.” Bingo! Then my life started to make sense. The more I connect with music (especially EDM – Electronic Dance Music in case you don’t know), the more I understand myself.

But when my literary agent told me my writing had a “poetic, almost lyrical rhythm to it,” I wondered what that meant. My father’s family were all musicians (guitarists, keyboardists, drummers, bassists, etc), going back to time immemorial, and my grandmother wrote poetry, I thought that must mean I was supposed to be a songwriter. Lyrics must be my thing. And so I enrolled in a modern musician certificate program starting with songwriting. I ended up realizing the difference between poems and lyrics and that it takes a special skill to translate those words into words that go with music. That was not my gift.

My gift that I’m exploring is sound design. I have so much to learn but I absolutely love it! One of my uncles was a sound engineer and so that makes sense. I may also be a storyteller, but not through lyrics. I have good family direction. My uncle said, “Now that you know you’re a Holmes, you’re gonna wanna pay attention to music.” And my dad said, “Keep writing. You must fulfill your destiny.”

And so I continue to juggle both. One gives me a break from the other, refreshing me for both. I may resist that, but I think I need that.

 

Music Production, Writing, Reading… Running Out of Coping Mechanisms

Watching videos of people enjoying the Christmas festivities at Disney World, well, I can’t help but feel a little jealous. With California’s strict reopening guidelines and Disneyland’s reluctance to open up any of the parks (i.e., Knott’s Berry Farm) until now, and the cruising industry’s slow road to recovery, Nevada getting close to lockdown again, well, I’m going a little crazy. I mean, who isn’t, right?

I’ve spent these last 8 months at home working on music, switching back and forth between Ableton Live and Logic Pro, the latter due to the 10.5 updates. And now with news of Ableton Live 11 coming out soon, well, there’s even more for me to dive into. But there’s also a lot of stress with all of that learning and it wears me out. So I’ve taken time to read and even work on a couple of manuscripts I’ve started writing. But nothing, really, after all these months, is really working toward peace of mind. Prayers and positivity help, of course, but when there’s an underlying or maybe not so underlying crisis happening, it’s really hard to escape.

I think many of us felt a bit of relief when Biden won, even if we weren’t big Biden supporters, if only because, in my case, I did not want to sit back and watch the lunatic, aka the Narcissist for another 4 years. His behavior since the election validates everything I know about Narcissists. And once you’ve had an experience up close with one, you don’t need a psychology degree to get it. Maybe you get it even more than somebody who has just studied it. Experience is a great teacher.

So with heavy handed governors issuing mandates (sometimes necessary, but, perhaps, not done in the best way) and a lunatic for a president, it’s like reliving a dysfunctional childhood all over again. The artist’s spiritual life and food and drink and rearranging the furniture a zillion times helps for a while, but I’m running out of coping mechanisms.

Today’s joy, though, was picking up my latest copy of Electronic Musician. Just reading the masthead made me smile, reminding me of my early days in San Francisco working in production on Mac User magazine. So cool to see my name listed as Production Manager. That took me to McGraw-Hill Publishing in Berkeley, but the most fascinating part of that was sharing the building with a music studio and seeing a glimpse of artists like MC Hammer getting out of the limo. The MC Hammer dancers lived in an apartment complex down the street from mine.

And so, when all is said and done and things are back to normal and I can cruise the high seas and relive my childhood at Disneyland, well, in the end, it’s all about the art, the music, and the spiritual journey I am on.

Ableton Live 11 vs. Logic Pro 10.5 (#music #production #Logic #Ableton)

This time last year toward the end of 50/90, I got Ableton Live 10 Suite. I was curious about some of the more accessible features to me, at least more accessible than Logic Pro X, the DAW I’d been using since I started music production. But then Logic updated LPX to 10.5 with some amazing features. That left me reeling. Now which DAW would I use? Logic or Live? I’ve been scurrying between the two ever since, trying to find my definitive answer. I really want to commit to just one DAW.

Then this morning, my email was filled with announcements of Ableton Live 10 updating to Live 11. I got up at first light, made some coffee, and jumped on YouTube to watch some videos. When I mentioned on one that I couldn’t decide which one to commit to, he made a car analogy of which one do you feel more comfortable jumping in and taking for a spin (or something like that).

My problem is this: starting a Project in Logic Pro is like me grabbing the keys to my Black Challenger and heading down the open desert roads, radio blasting, wind blowing in my hair. I’m having a great time, thinking I know what I’m doing. Until I look at this shifty knob that’s just sort of added on for those who know what to do with it. And I don’t. And I’m afraid if I allow myself to try it out, I’ll blow it up.

Starting a project in Ableton, for me, is like cranking up a VW Bug (funny, they both happen to be made in Germany and my husband’s last name is German), and shifting it into gear (a bit awkward, but by the time I’m headed down the road, I’m feeling like I know everything about it, and I could even change the oil) – lol!

LP 10.5 gave us some cool Ableton features. Ableton 11 is giving us some cool LP features. So now I have no idea which DAW to commit to. But I need to figure it out before Ableton 11 is released. And before I buy Push2. I wonder if Push would push me over the edge.

Do You Feel Like I (We) Do?

Had a fabulous start to the Road Rally – really awesome to “hang out” with fellow musicians. The highlight, so far, was the “Production Master Class with Karl Richardson,” the guy who produced so many huge disco acts like the Bee Gees (not to mention Eric Clapton).

But I think as today dawns, we Americans are all feeling the same no matter which candidate we’ve voted/are voting for. And then this song started running through my head, because, for me, life is all about music and no matter what happens, I’ll still have that.

As a producer, I just love how this song comes together. To me, this song is so perfect in so many ways. (Remember when we could groove together like this?)

Do You Feel Like We Do (Peter Framptom)

Taxi A&R Road Rally Prequel Starts Today

As a member of Taxi A&R for 3 years now, I must confess this will be my first Road Rally mostly because it’s being held online this year, like most other conferences. I’d hoped to get to it live in Los Angeles for the past 2 years but the first year we were living in Florida and last year we were building a house in Las Vegas and it just didn’t work out.

What’s different about this year, other than being held online is that there are 3 days of “prequels” anybody can tune into for free – you don’t have to be a member.

If you’re interested, just go to the Taxi A&R YouTube channel here. Let me know what you think.

First Day of #Free – Lucky’s Last Chance (#Romance #Kindle #Novel #LasVegas #Wine #50/90)

Today is the first day of five days of #Free for Lucky’s Last Chance (#Kindle), part of the “Viva Las Vegas” series. It was originally released as The Tom Jones Club, but when I got my publishing rights back, I changed the name/cover.

Click now to go to download page.

Also, check out the video I made for Lucky’s Last Chance using, accompanied by my EDM track I created during #50/90, ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody” – the perfect song to represent this Pandemic year, as one person said.

 

Cougars in Cabo (Where #Fiction Meets #EDM Meets #YouTube) #WriterWednesday

For this week’s #WriterWednesday, I’ve created a marriage between Cougars in Cabo, my anthology of short stories, with “Catch the Moment,” an EDM song I created during #50/90, and footage from cruising into Cabo on one of our cruises to Mexico.

That was so much fun! I’m starting to get into this. And I realize how much I love doing all 3: writing stories, creating music, and capturing video from our travels.

I so appreciate you stopping by the blog. And, If you like today’s post, please also like and subscribe on my YouTube channel. Thank you!

“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’

 

I Wanna Dance With Somebody (#50/90)

For song #4 of the 50/90 Challenge (2020), I chose to do a Classic House track, and I must say it’s my favorite. Or maybe each current song is my favorite, right? And after I received some invaluable feedback from a professional DJ, I made a couple of edits and reposted it on SoundCloud. I may continue to work on it as I gain more skills or just might start with something new. Anyway, here is where I am on the producer track: