Goodbye July or “What I Did While Trying to Make Disneyland Dining Reservations”

This is the story of how I wrote yesterday’s poem and turned it into a song early this morning while trying to make Disneyland dining reservations.

The night before last I was awake during the night looking at the calendar on my iPhone trying to make Disneyland dining reservations (which is such a crapshoot these days), realizing I couldn’t make September ressies for at least one more day, if I was lucky. Staring at the month of July, I was thinking about how July may be my least favorite month – certainly living in the hotter states I’ve lived in like Southern Nevada and Central Florida. Will July ever end?

I then jotted down those lyrics.

Last night I was awake during the night doing the same staring at the calendar thing, trying again to snag Disneyland dining reservations, and I thought, “I must write the music for those lyrics.” I did snag some ressies, so then I got up at around 4 am and recorded this song, trying not to sing too loudly so I wouldn’t awaken my husband and cats – lol!

It was a lot of fun and came out better than I thought it would. Hope you enjoy!

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.

From “House” to “Dub” “Techno”: Discovering New Sounds in Ableton Live 11

I’m really getting into Ableton Live 11 and during one of my projects, I discovered this “Dub Techno” sample, and I really dig it. Hoping to flesh out a whole track based on this.

And here I thought I was a “House” girl only.

 

Screamie Birds St. Paddy House Party

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In honor of the occasion, I put together a playlist of some of my favorite tracks I’ve created during 50/90 and FAWM. This time I used Ableton Live 11 to produce the track and, let me tell you, it was far more producer friendly than Logic Pro, although I do kinda like creating in Logic.

Hope you enjoy!

The Last of Social Media

Several years ago I finally empowered myself to finally completely sever my relationship with Facebook and have never been happier making that decision. Instagram was easier to walk away from. Twitter has been more difficult. I deactivate/activate my account several times a month these days. In December, I almost made it through the month, going from deactivate to delete. At the last minute, I logged back in to keep the account. Maybe because I’ve had it since 2005.

YouTube is another problem I’m having (especially during this time of isolation). To be specific, I’m having difficulty unsubscribing from all of those travel vlogs like Disney and cruising. I unsubscribe and then resubscribe, “needing” to peek in to see what they’re up to now and then. On a daily basis. Especially when there are Disney or Knotts events coming up. But really? I’m not sure I can stand that level of stupidity and self-absorption any more.

One vlogger said recently that they were in no hurry to upload their Knotts Boysenberry Festival because most of the other West Coast vloggers were in Disney World. Okay, so you’re only in this to be first I guess. Not to provide content your viewers are interested in. Vloggers just care about getting hits associated with being first out there in some grand competition (to, hopefully, make money).

Unsubscribe…

Okay, so the next test will be if I can delete my YouTube channel. It’s a mishmash of Disney, cruising, travel, book trailers, and music. I’ve been trying to focus more on music but I have a feeling the subscribers I do have are there for Disney and cruising and not my books and music. But right before the pandemic, one of my cruise videos went viral (for me) and got 87K views in practically no time. Hard to delete it now…

But, perhaps, if I finally take that final step, deleting Twitter and YouTube, I’ll actually be able to juggle writing books and music instead of feeling like I must choose one because I don’t have the bandwidth to do both. Maybe I do have the bandwidth if I don’t waste it on meaningless unsocial social media.

But what if I need Twitter to promote my next book… I read that, and I know this to be true, you don’t really sell books on Twitter or any social media. Social media is really just a lie.

FAWM 2021 is in the House

So I finished FAWM 2021 (14 songs in 28 days) – not only finished it but finished early! I’m stunned. This may be a first. What was my secret? Music – creating music is my lifeline, giving me focus during these difficult times.

I know a lot of people are depressed now – many of us struggle with depression during ordinary times and these extraordinary times have added to our struggle. Our normal coping mechanisms have been unavailable to us.

For me, it’s mostly situational and, normally, I would take trips, change up my routine or make plans to change things. But that has been pretty impossible with the world shut down. Even my quick trips to California were not possible during the holidays when hotels were not taking reservations for “non essential” travel.

So I’ve focused on the good things that have come my way during this time, appreciate this special time my husband and I have had together with both of us working at home, ordering food delivery from favorite restaurants more than we would have before. Maybe stocking the bar more than usual – lol! Heck, I’m even starting to enjoy the masks and having more personal space in public.

True, I still have trouble sleeping and I find myself doing it in shifts. With way too much time with anxious thoughts or just lying awake with no thoughts interesting enough to engage me – I think that’s the worst part. Just lying there awake!

Thankfully, FAWM gave me a lot of focus and an opportunity to try new music skills, experimenting with new sounds and arrangements. Still, I finished early, but that’s okay because Ableton 11 drops Tuesday. I’m ready to go!

2021 FAWM: Variations on the House

FAWM 2021: Day 11, Song #7

Okay, so I’m definitely ahead of schedule for FAWM (February Album Writing Month) – 14 songs in 28 days. Actually, I’m halfway there! Yes!! And Ableton announced Ableton 11 is dropping on the 23rd so I’d like to finish FAWM before then so I can start playing around.

Anyway, track #7 is my version of a Rock EDM, although I have to say I prefer EDM remixes of classic rock songs and must try my own. Search on Spotify for “Classic EDM” if you’re interested. If you’re looking for my latest FAWM playlist, check out this SoundCloud link:

 

Ableton Live 11 vs Logic Pro 10.6 vs Writing vs 2021 (#NewYearGoals)

This is what I’m faced with as we head toward 2021, not coming quite fast enough it seems. The holidays seem to drag on, this year more than usual, and we all so want life to return to normal. Enough already!

I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle giving enough attention to my writing career and my songwriting/music producer career, still in its infant days of launching.

Ableton Live 11 is reported to be coming out in early 2021, whatever that means. I’m still trying to learn all the Logic 10.5/10.6 features.

This has been the common theme over the past year or two: how to write marketable novels and music in a way that honors both. The “kick as” writing books act as if all you’re doing is writing and the to-do list is enormous. So how do you do both? One must be the frontrunner.

So do I decide that first? Which is the frontrunner: “writing” or “songwriting.” Music or books. EDM or fiction. It probably doesn’t seem that important to worry about Ableton vs Logic if I’m putting writing in the foreground. Or does it?

I’m on the list for the Ableton 11 upgrade, which comes with a discount if I pre-order. But does it make sense to spend that money if I’m going to focus more on writing fiction? Shouldn’t I invest that money in the marketing of my books? Besides, I’m kinda loving Logic Pro 10.5/6.

To be honest, I see more of a fruitful career path in writing fiction, although I’ve been neglecting it in a big way lately to focus on music. Do I keep pushing, going all-in with music (I have tons of tutorials I need to get to) or pick up the pieces of my latest wip and kickstart my life as an author?

Yep, this is what I’m dealing with. This is how my mind has been rambling and why I haven’t been posting here as often as I used to. Any advice? Did you say, “Pick one and move on already?” or maybe it was “Sit butt in chair and just do both!” lol!

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.

I Thought I Loved Words…

I’ve been using the iPad so much that I now have sore shoulders, sore arms, sore neck, and it hurts to sleep. So I’m swearing off the iPad. I read that this is a thing now, especially for women, this difficulty using an iPad without pain.

I use it for so many things. What will I do with myself if I can’t use it? I even use it to read. Snap! Why not get some audio books? I tried some samples and I liked it. Not for fiction but non fiction. Listening to a book on writing craft was fun. Until they spoke of their love of words.

I remember when I thought I loved words. I love the idea of words. I love the idea of getting back to writing words. But I really love the *sound* of words. No wonder I’m enjoying audio books. But I shouldn’t be listening to audio books on writing craft. Not when I love the *sound* of words. No, no, this brings me back to my love for music, the thing I’ve been running from for so much of my life. And the thing I thought I’d been running toward in recent years.

Resistance. It’s still a thing.

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.

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:

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.