Sept. 5, 2018. Sometimes you have things to say. Sometimes you don’t. For Danny O.
Until next time. xo.
August 23, 2018. Sometimes you have things to say. Sometimes you don’t. The trick is figuring out when you do and when you don’t. So much has changed in the industry, and how we’re working in terms of releases, but, as a group of musicians, we’re still doing things the same way. The same convictions. We play live. A lot. We write. We practice. We release content. We have something coming very soon (in a month). It’s a live video. It’s a reimagine of an old song of ours. “Stop”. So, my Mom weirdly emailed me the other morning. The email heading said “Dan Achen.” In her book club, she is reading Tom Wilson’s book “Beautiful Scars.” The email said “Came across a name you know well” and attached was this:
I was just thinking of Dan the day earlier. Strangely. (?!) Dan kicked everyone out of the studio when it was time to record my vocals for Shades of Grey. Like even Michael. Everyone. Dan’s name is a name I know well. Stop was one of those songs he worked with me on. Reimagining it to release a live video was a process. We have had this video planned for months, Vanessa, Carolyn, and myself. We were searching for inspo. Also arrangement ideas. Visuals. Back-ups. Feel. While working Monday night, I thought of the Chet Faker/Nick Murphy live versions of “I’m Into You” and “Talk Is Cheap” he did at WFUV.
They are such bare versions of his tracks, that only the melodies carry them. The minimalism is almost claustrophobic. To strip something down so much that only the melodies, and vocals remain. That’s what Dan wanted in the studio with me. He wanted good vocals. Then you can build. I can’t think of a better book end to “Stop” then this. It will be out soon. Until next time. xo.
August 11, 2017.
Making an album start to finish is a long process. It just is. Some days I think it’s exciting, other days, like today, I do not. (I’m silently laughing right now. It’s hard to judge tone here). So this video is for a song titled “For the night.” It’s a new one. I had the choir girls come over, for a rehearsal, and we banged this one out in a couple hours. It’s live. Just a few takes. For those of you who have been following this blog, this song is what came of my post from May 21, 2015. Yep. That’s a long motherfucking time. So, making an album from start to finish is a long process. It was going to be an EP. Maybe it still will be. But it’s not looking like it at this point. The songs (including Sadie, Till Death Do You Part, and this one), that would be included on an EP are staying there, but, the project didn’t seem complete. Which is another real motherfucker. I’m silently laughing. So instead of waiting to release material, I decided to release demos, videos, and continue with this blog, as an extension of it. Again, one more time with feeling, a real motherfucker. The songs change from format to format, live, and being recorded properly, so it will keep the integrity of the project intact. God willing. If you’ve seen us live in the last year, you’ve probably heard this song. I am sure you wouldn’t notice my freudian slip, which I left in. I seriously never know what to write in these posts. I wanted the content to be honest, but also interesting. As I was planning on releasing this, I of course, left this until the final hour. The video is uploading as we speak. A former artist rep of ours did encourage me to start this blog during our Sellaband time, and if I was going to do it, I was going to DO it. So while I was editing this, I thought, “God damn, I fucked up the words.” I reference “Magents” in this song (from “North Sea”), and I say (every time but in this video), “I know I’ve said before that I’m in so much trouble, and I don’t know how to get out of it.” In “Magnets” I sing “but still I’m in so much fucking trouble.” Here, I switched it to “and I don’t know how to get next to it.” Ugh. It was the best take too. We left the live audio intact, with little editing. If you can’t do it live, you can’t do it on a recording, no matter how much recording software there is. That’s important to us. No auto tune, no quantize. There is NOTHING wrong with using that if it is your bag, and we absolutely edit the crap out of our stuff, but, in the last decade and a half, it’s all I can hear. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. So going with that sentiment, I left our pitch discrepancies, timing, and alternate word choices, intact. If you read that post from May 21st, and then every one after, that freudian slip was just that. Not an actual mistake at all. A real mother…
Until next time. xo.
April 7, 2017. I was casually skimming the posts regarding the new songs, in anticipation of writing another post. My Sadie post from December was a little lacklustre, and I thought maybe I should try harder, or do better in some way. I realized I was trusting my gut. Everything that I needed to say regarding the songs, I said. My posts from Oct. 29th, and Sept. 6th or 2015 are what became of this new demo I posted below. It’s called Till Death Do You Part. I honestly can’t think of anything else to say about it. My Sadie post, for those who are wondering? May 31st, 2015.
Until next time. xo.
Dec. 11, 2016. *Okay, I was tired, and realized I should have edited this further. Here it is in its edited glory: I started Sadie when I was in college. All I had was the chorus, and I would play it over and over again. I loved it. I couldn’t use it. I kept it. Fast forward to Supercrawl last year. I was with Josh and K, and we went to go see Royal Canoe, (Andrew was there too, but I’m getting to that…) in the pouring rain. Royal Canoe’s set got rained out. Bummer. So obviously, we hung around, “yelling” at Royal Canoe (you know, cheering and such), hoping they would take the stage. They didn’t. Thankfully the whole festival wasn’t cancelled. Just Royal Canoe. You know, like, one of our collective favourite bands. Whatever. But after we wandered to the main stage, and The Sadies were playing. For whatever reason, my brain started playing that chord progression from college, and I went home, and finished Sadie. Totally unrelated to that great band. I ended up using the original chorus as the verse, and writing a totally new chorus. This is just a demo version, without most of the instrumentation for our next release (yet to be started, or titled).
Until next time.
Oct. 29, 2015. I am trying to do things that scare me. Not because of Halloween, but how apt. So, last night I found myself playing an open mic for the first time, at The Baltimore House, which is a venue I have been many times. I wanted to test my songs out. You know, can they stand on their own two feet? I was scared shitless, but I did it anyway. The reception was lovely, as I went alone, but left with some new acquaintances. So this really sweet girl came up to me, and we got talking, and weirdly, like she read my mind, said, “yeah, I like the number 3, because my birthday is December 3rd,” as I was thinking the same thing. I said, “Pardon? That’s my birthday too. This is fucking insane.” And then her and I got on the topic of coincidences. She seems to think there aren’t any. It got me thinking about someone who has been lingering in my thoughts for some time. The amount of coincidences that surround him are astounding. But perhaps they are just that. I watched a documentary on TVO about the power of the brain, and really we know so little about how our brains work. (To watch it click here). Even our realities can be called into question because it’s a matter of perspective, filtered by our grey matter. Maybe my brain is choosing to see more. I decided to explore this a little more for hours today. (My Mom caught me…)
I really am trying to write very differently, and I wanted to try to see things from his perspective this time. It’s the antithesis to “The Hope,” which is also about him. I am sure he has no idea what’s been going on, and I just thought, “well brain, he’s a good person, and the world is better with him in it. Write about that.” I just decided after months, and months of fighting how I felt, to just embrace it. I am just going to learn how to live with the feelings, and I’m okay with that. As long as he’s happy, I am glad. I mean, really, what else can you do? Until next time. xo
Oct. 10, 2015: “let us sing a final verse. Lovers dance it unrehearsed, the beating of their hearts is an ovation for God. This name we give to it all wherein the names all dissolve and turn into the one true love.” Sarah Slean.
Have you ever been hit so hard that it takes time to comprehend what just happened? It was so fast, and you didn’t see it coming? Your mind is reeling trying to figure out just how it occured? That is what happened two Sunday’s ago. I was talking to a good friend, and he asked me why I am writing this. I mean, why document my writing process? The answer was simple. Many years ago I read the book “Piece by Piece” by Tori Amos and Ann Powers. I have read that book so many times, I actually have lost count. In it, Tori was documenting her album “The Beekeeper”. Her struggles and documentation really helped me in my writing process. I mean, her and I have very different styles and approaches, but that didn’t matter. It inspired me.
So, when we were at a gig in Den Haag, Fantine, a beautiful Brazilian singer-songwriter who played with us that night, pulled me aside and she said “Deanna. You have to tell more stories about the songs. When you did, it pulled everyone in. The Dutch love storytelling”. I always figured, “Shut-up and play”, but clearly I was wrong, gladly so. Coupled with this moment in Den Haag, and “Piece by Piece”, I figured if the stories and inspirations behind the songs might help just one person then I was happy with that. Clearly I struggle, and I am a painfully slow writer. Maybe that might make a difference for someone? Maybe not. It’s hard to say. I always hope that it might. So with that being said, two Sunday’s ago I was humbled in a way I have never been. I am a very skeptical person by nature, and have a hard time with faith and belief. I have always been searching for something, but never found religion to be the answer (which is a personal choice, again, no disrespect if you do believe it is). I was strangely compelled to listen to the album “Land and Sea” by Sarah Slean, which came out in 2011, but I never listened to it until a few weeks ago. She made a series of vignettes from the studio, and a friend and I spent a Sunday watching them. In the final Episode, Sarah discusses the lyrical thread to the Sea portion of the double album:
At 5:41 in the video, she says “let us sing a final verse. Lovers dance it unrehearsed, the beating of their hearts is an ovation for God. This name we give to it all wherein the names all dissolve and turn into the one true love”. When she said it I started crying. My friend and I didn’t speak. He just held me. He has been trying to tell me this for some time, that there are things bigger then us. Whether you call it God, or love, it’s there, and it can be trusted. I do believe this now. It took a long time for me to have faith in anything other then myself (how awful to admit out loud), but I was humbled that day. I mean really humbled. It’s funny how sometimes you get exactly what you need when you need it. Even if you don’t want it (I’m surprised I didn’t quote The Stones here). I am currently working on a song right now, and this moment changed the trajectory of the lyrics. They now come from a place of understanding and acceptance. Love has a funny way of changing a perspective.
Until next time. xo.
Sept. 6, 2015
It’s hard going outside of yourself. But sometimes, you just get so sick of yourself, and your point of view that you feel a need to. I have really been experimenting with how I write lyrics, and I have been looking around me for stories to tell. Stories that are not my own. So in the midst of this, I had a revelation of sorts after a conversation with my sister about men in very unhappy relationships with no way out. She said “yeah, they never leave. It’s so sad when they are so obviously miserable.” With infidelity in the headlines so much lately, it got me thinking how universal this is, and how we as a society really don’t want to talk about how marriage as an institution is failing. I believe in marriage too. But something is going wrong here. And I’m not just talking about the divorce rates, which are sky high, I am talking about the rates of infidelity, and depression which are also at alarmingly high rates in North America. It got me thinking of how many times I have seen this in my day to day life. Men get a very bad wrap in society (often, rightfully so), but there is an insidious double standard going on with way too many of the men in my life. Women who must control everything. I mean, EVERYTHING; from finances, to when and where they are “allowed” to go out, their friends, checking their phone, e-mail, and social media accounts, and the list goes on and on. As a woman, I am ashamed that so many of us are so insecure that we are lead to this behaviour. I think it’s abusive. We’re talking good guys here. Ones who don’t do anything to deserve this kind of mistrust. It always drives me crazy when these women are around, and pretend that we all don’t know what’s going on. Sweet as pie to your face. We (I am talking a group of guys here) talk when their partners are not around, and they are completely different. I have even had guy friends tell me that their partners have asked them never to say things about what is going on to anyone, and I was sworn to secrecy. When I said to my bud “well, I’m not like that”, his response? “Dee you’re a super hot dude.” I guess… but it just breaks my heart to see so many men suffering like this. Being blamed for everything, when honestly, it’s always 50/50. One of my guy friends went so far as to ask me to speak to their significant other about my opinions on the matter. Yeah, like that would have gone over well. I’m already kinda a guy. What these women don’t understand, is that it’s soul crushing to their partners. They tense up the minute they are around. I mean, it’s visible. The silly thing is that a cheater will cheat whether you have their passwords or not, trust me I know. I have been cheated on, and I had NO idea. Granted, I never checked up, but still if I had, he would have hid it all the same. Control is just a illusion. An illusion to make someone feel superior to another, and to have someone be subservient to them. Nothing more. I mean, I can’t say anything about it either because you have to support people’s life choices, but sometimes I just want to scream, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! LEAVE NOW!!” There is so much more to life then settling down until you die because you are afraid to be alone, or you think your kids will be happier in the long run, or you don’t want to “rock the boat”. It’s especially bad in your circle of friends when everyone is talking about it, and no one knows what to say. It’s just uncomfortable all around. I know this song I am working on won’t make a whole lot of difference, because let’s face it, you have to want things to change in order for things to change, and deciding to do nothing for your own happiness is a choice for everything to stay the same for the rest of your life. But just so you know, I am rooting for you, in all kinds of ways. Until next time. xo.
August 25, 2015: “Nothing will work unless you do.” -Maya Angelou
Umm, so I thought I would start learning how to engineer. You know, between working, and everything else. So, I have discussed Dan at length on this page, and how working with him is a dream. We have had the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented and wonderful people throughout the years (Michael Chambers, and the whole Catherine crew, and the seriously talented Kori Pop), but Dan and I have established a bond that is truly special. Dan has a home studio, and his “day job” consists of creating commercial, TV, film, and video game music. This guy knows his p’s and q’s. He is such a wonderful, helpful, and supportive person. I told him what I was up to, and I said “Hey man. Can I come over and pay you to teach me how to engineer a project from bottom to top?” His response? “Yeah man, come on over, what program and interface are you using?” He wouldn’t accept any form of payment. I had to settle with giving him a gift card. Dan… So what was to be an afternoon, turned into 6 hours of lessons. I showed him what I had started (with my memory of what we did last year, and also taking classes while in school), and we got started. He laughed at my “percussion” parts, which consisted of me banging on various objects… like my piano bench, while playing the keys at the same time. That didn’t make the cut in the end. I wonder why? We went in depth, manipulating things, and discussing ratios, filters, and editing features. I would be lying if I didn’t say how much I am enjoying tearing my hair out. It’s a process. Of course, because it’s Dan, we ended up having a few coffee breaks. Him and I got on the topic of dreams, and what they mean subconsciously. I have had a few dreams about Dan over the years, and I had one last year about his “package”. Oh god! It wasn’t a sex dream or anything! He likes to bring it up whenever I see him! Ha! It was a flattering dream for him let’s just say 😉 We were talking about it, and I told him what I think it means. I think it means that he is what I would define as a “real man”. Someone who is honest, secure with themselves, respectful to their partner, kind, and honourable. I told him how much I respect him for that. That’s what I think the dream meant. We talked about how Andrew, Justin, Josh, and a few other of our friends are also like this. It’s why we all get along I guess? “Birds of a feather…” as they say. He really appreciated me saying that. Well, as far as my “progress”, I am almost done my first “proper” demo. I mean I record every time I sit down to write, but not like this. I am working up the nerve to send it to Andrew. I always send him the tunes first. He has heard this one, as we have worked on it just the two of us before. But still… wish me luck!
Until next time. xo.
August 13, 2015:
“There’s a coffee stain around your eye. And lines that I don’t recognize. Everything changed from being okay, the night that you came home so late. I knew by the time on the stove, that you were no longer mine alone. I guess we’re all just out on loan, and everybody is only their own.” -Sarah Harmer
It’s strange how things just pop into your head sometimes. I have been working for weeks on a few new songs. Trying to figure out what to say has been the hardest part this time around. Lyrics are tricky. Music has never been a problem for me, I can play all the day is long. Most of it is utter crap, but I still do it. Lyrics are so much harder. I was heading into the shower today, mulling over the last few weeks in my head, and the song “Coffee Stain” by Sarah Harmer sprang up out of nowhere. I got that album as a surprise gift from my man at the time, and I really loved it. Especially this song. It’s true. We can never belong to anyone but ourselves, and we choose to be with people, or not. The song is about betrayal. Of course, after the last few months, the fact that my subconscious would choose that particular song is of no surprise to me. The brain is truly incredible. No small coincidence. Life is funny like that. Ha ha… Sometimes you are ready for things and sometimes you are not. I always have so much hope. Hope that things happen for a reason, and hope that it will get better. I also always trust. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. I am no stage five clinger (fuck I still love Wedding Crashers…), when people tell me things, I believe them, no questions asked. It’s always so disappointing when you put so much faith into someone, and you find out how utterly wrong you were. I am never ready for that. I also know that I am not alone in this. Everyone gets the shit end of the stick sometimes. This stuff is pretty relatable and universal. We are who we are, and I don’t want to live my life in constant worry or panic that people are lying to me. I want to treat people with respect, and if they give it back, awesome. This coincides with a song I finished last week, that I haven’t decided what the title is yet. I think it’s going to be called “New Definition.” It’s about not being disappointed anymore. There are people out there who do the right thing. At least I hope for it. For someone to restore my faith in people, and that not everyone is completely selfish (let’s face it, we are all to a certain extent). I guess I have been re-defining a few things lately.
Until, until. xo.
May 31, 2015:
“No one laughs at God in a hospital. No one laughs at God in a war. No one’s laughing at God. When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor.” Regina Spektor.
One of my students and I had a really insightful conversation last week during his piano lesson. His friend recently lost his sister in a horrific car accident, and he was explaining how the grieving process was affecting their family. People deal in various ways, as we know. I told him about the Regina Spektor song “Laughing with”, and how it’s funny how people turn to all kinds of things when they can’t explain why something horrible happened. Why? Sometimes I don’t even know. I did the best I could with him. How can you explain to a young person, with their whole life ahead of them that sometimes bad things happen for no reason? There lies the reason to believe in something more. What that something is, is not for me to decide for you, or to explain. Believing that perhaps, things happen for a reason, even when we struggle to find meaning or understanding, when left on our knees begging why? Why this? Why now? What for? Even if that bigger picture is so far from view that it seems it will never come into focus. I will save the talk of lessons, or learning from mistakes here. All we can do after tragedies like this is to find a way to live with the heartache. To live with the hole and mend it. My life is worth it. Your life is worth it, whatever that hurt was. We all carry them, none greater or lesser than the other. The ultimate goal is to achieve happiness amongst the shit. I find myself not praying or asking for things anymore. I have found happiness. I found a way to just simply appreciate my little life. My crazy cat and dog, my home, my friends, and family, and music. What else is there?
Until next time. xo
May 21, 2015:
“I think sexuality is a window into someone’s soul.”
I was always taught never to discuss politics, religion, or sexuality, at dinner parties, as it is in poor taste. Since I have already discussed the two former topics, I figured it was time to discuss the latter. Poor taste indeed. I have been knee deep in writing new material. When I am in the thick of it, I am in the thick of it. Nothing else interests me at the moment. It seems I have so very much to talk about, (or sing about). I was discussing certain things (as have been relayed in this little blog) with Josh at length, and he said “I hate to say it, but use it. Write some killer songs.” We’ll see if they’re killer. They’re started nonetheless. When I was talking to Josh, I told him the new direction; musically, and also directionally. With every new crop of songs, I anchor them with a loose direction. That keeps me focused on the sound. It keeps me focused on what the fuck I am going for. It keeps me focused, and it keeps me honest. This time around, for whatever reason I am very influenced by my shitty funk piano playing (seriously, I am not being modest in the slight), and whatever crazy effects I can make on my bitching Korg. Fuck I love that thing. Andrew and I got together, just the two of us a few weeks back, and we hooked up my Korg to his guitar effects board (with more pedals than I can count), and we worked. I played him the bare songs, and then told him what I was going for. Andrew never flinched. He always knows what I am talking about. He hears without hearing, if that makes sense? I gave him the reference track, and then he ran with it. He never gives himself enough credit for how good he really is at arranging. I mean my tracks on the piano, sounded NOTHING like what I was going for. I just want to shake my ass. I want songs to shake my ass too. Hard to do on a piano alone, I admit. But, somehow when I left, it was there. So back to my conversation with Josh, I promise this will come together eventually (I wish I had the Scottish storytelling gift of my Father, but sadly, I do not). When Josh and I were discussing the new content, I told him I am not writing a sad record. I already did that. No, this is something new entirely. It’s a celebration I guess. A celebration of what? Ha! I don’t know, but he smiled at me all the same. I know it’s so goddamn cliché to say, but I am not the same person I was a year ago, and it’s affected me more than I originally thought. I am sewing up the pieces of myself, and taking a harsh look in the mirror after avoiding it for so long. So is it all fun and dancing? Of course not, nothing is wholly one thing or another, but it’s honest at least. Like anyone would ever accuse me of being dishonest at this point… Because I can’t seem to keep my fat mouth shut, the first few songs deal with sexuality head on. It’s such a polarizing topic, that I am treading lightly. I feel that sexuality is an integral part of who we are. It is as natural as eating, sleeping, thinking, or talking. And yet, there is so much shame: shame around our bodies and sexuality in general. I am talking about healthy, respectful attitudes towards the subject. And as this year has gone for me, I have learned it all begins and ends with yourself. Everything always does (as annoying as this is for me to admit most days). I do not feel any shame on the matter. It’s a nice place to be. Just respecting others as much as I (finally) respect myself. To put in bluntly: if you’re going to come to my house, you better give it your all and I will do the same, or don’t come at all. Pun intended. I mean that in all kinds of ways, in music, attitudes, and also relationships. It’s a good jumping off place for the songs. Starts are good.
Until next time. Xo.
March 14, 2015:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”
We had a rehearsal last night, as we do every Friday pretty much, and we worked on the song “Foolish” for quite awhile. Trina and Justin were working out a harmonized cello and guitar part, and it sounds killer. Justin is the fucking man. He also started playing this little lick on the guitar (that mimics Trina’s cello part) which came from my vocal line. At the end of the song there is a gang vocal part, where the lyrics are:
“You are too cool, was it worth it? You missed the point aren’t you foolish.”
I wrote the harmonies in all 5ths and octaves to make it sound like a schoolyard chant. When Justin said he played that line on the guitar like kids yelling in a playground, I was so happy to hear that sentiment came across… What time is it? You guessed it; Story time. Another one of my choir girls and I were talking about “Foolish” just a couple days ago. This one is her favourite. Of course, as I have already said, the girls all ask what the songs are about, and so since this song is about bullying, I thought it was a very good story to share. Unfortunately, so many of us are affected by bullying, whether it is as children or adults. The chant at the end is all the kids who were bullied calling out their tormentors. Reverse bullying I guess? We had a whole group of us singing on this at the end, and all of us, in some form or another, were bullied. I will not share their stories, as I want to respect their privacy, but I can share what this song is about from my perspective. I must admit, this song is about a couple different situations. Firstly it was about a friendship I had with someone who sadly, cared way too much about keeping up appearances; to the point where they were consumed with popularity and “fame” over everything else, including our friendship. I still love this person deeply, but it is impossible to trust someone who is consumed with false appearances and little else. People will sell their souls for that shit. I’ve seen it. I personally don’t think any of that is what truly matters in life. I don’t think it’s worth selling out everyone and everything you believe in. Although, to each their own as they say. Like I said, I still love this person. When I was discussing this with my lovely Basement choir gal, she reiterated that she sees this way too often in school. She understands on a deep level, because she has been picked on herself, by “popular” mean girls. We did discuss that often mean girls are insecure themselves, which is what usually spurs on such attacks (because my student is actually quite popular herself). Although that is a common fact, that doesn’t make anyone feel better on either side. It is what it is. I don’t have any answers, just sympathy for both parties. Both need to do some healing and soul searching to come back from it. What I can say for sure, is that bullies never win, and it never lasts. So whether you’re a bully, a former bully, are being bullied, or were bullied, please take solace in the fact that “love always wins” (thanks again Mr. friend). Not hatred. Not insecurities. Not insults. Not keeping up pretentious appearances to look “cool”, whatever the fuck that means. I just hope if you ever were a bully or are one, that you think twice about what you’re trying to hide, because you can’t truly be happy. I choose to see the jar half full. I don’t think bullies are born, they are created. What I am thankful for now is every single mean person who as ever told lies about me, or anyone I love, has only made us stronger. Because anyone who truly loves you doesn’t believe it, and anyone else doesn’t matter. We can weather any storm. In the words of the amazing Fiona Apple, “keep on calling me names. Keep on. And I’ll keep kicking the crap till it’s gone.”
Until next time. Xo.
Feb. 23, 2015:
“The biggest hurdle is figuring out who your friends are. Your real friends.”-Eleanor Mondale
One of the Basement choir gals came to me last week, and said how much she loved “Bait and Switch.” She drove to Ottawa with her family, and she listened to the album to rehearse for the gig we have coming up, and she is the most excited to sing this one. It’s funny, Kori and I danced around Dan’s basement recording and screaming the back-ups (Dan was singing too, albeit more subdued then us) to this song. It just has an energy, and a feistiness that came across (fingers crossed) in the recording (as has been relayed to me anyway). So my lovely Choir member said to me “Deanna, what’s the story to that song again?” The girls ask me all the juicy stories behind the songs, and I will cop to some, but not all of them, and I don’t mention names. But I said, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” Surprise, surprise, I am still working on getting my childhood memories back, and some things are pretty fuzzy for me, but I remembered my first sleepover a couple months ago! I am digressing, I know… so this song is a pretty fucking saucy call out to someone in my life who very badly tries to use me (and the band). I am always happy to help and share anything I have learned, but I draw the line when people are not willing to work for things, and unabashedly expect things to fall in their laps. Not cute at all. If there is one thing I am proud of (and everyone in this band feels the same), it is that we don’t give a shit who you are, or who you think you are. We only care about two things: are you a good person, and can you fucking play? And if you can’t, or you are not, are you willing to work for it? We are willing to work, and we may not be successful comparatively, but everything we have, we earned on our own backs. And I would say most of us musicians out there are the same as us; hard working folks, sharing and helping each other. There are unfortunately those who do not work, or even try for that matter. They give musicians a bad name. This song is about one person who shall remain nameless, who only calls me for my “contacts”, and only wants to talk to me to find out how I “do things”. Ugh. Gross. I have obliged this person, because I don’t really care. There are no secrets. I send lots of e-mail, I practice a lot, the band gets together a lot, and we work hard. It’s not rocket science. But when I found out they used my name to try to get a gig, I had to put my foot down. First of all, like, who the fuck are we? And second of all, that is so not cool. Especially when they didn’t even check with me first. It was really embarrassing to be honest. I was embarrassed for her, and I sat her down very kindly and told her that all you have is your reputation, and that you have to earn that. It is not given. I thought she got it when she left. But I have heard otherwise. Oh well, you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. It just made me appreciate my family and real friends even more because I never have to ask them to be there, and they never expect anything from me. We just are. I have been slowly weeding out the people who don’t really make an actual effort to be in my life. Because at a certain point I was giving and giving, and certain people were taking and taking, and there was no balance. None. I am realizing, that although I am sad to have to let some people go, that my feelings matter too, and if someone won’t make a real effort to be in my life, then I shouldn’t feel obligated to do the same. It doesn’t mean there has to be bad blood. It’s just part of life. You can’t make everyone happy, and not everyone is going to make you happy. That’s Bait and Switch in a nutshell.
Until next time. xo
Feb. 1, 2015: “I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.”
– David Attenborough
Exploring. An interesting concept. As I have relayed several times over in this blog, I am writing what inspires, and motivates me (and with permission, my lovely bandmates) as a writer and player. I am currently sitting watching the snowstorm swirl by as it does, and it gave me the idea to talk about how much nature, the weather, and a true love of exploration drives so much of the music. It’s strange how something as simple as the weather can change the mood of a song I am working on. People who know me well know that I always listen to certain albums when the seasons change. The same is the case for pieces I am writing. It is no secret that I walk every day, rain, shine, sleet, hail, or snow, and usually I listen to demos that I have recorded. There is something different that happens when I listen to the songs outdoors. They tend to make more sense to me for some odd reason that I still don’t understand. Obviously, nature was a huge driving force behind “North Sea” because we named it after a sea after all. This was entirely intentional. We as humans can manipulate so many things, but nature is not one of them. When we were together as a band looking out over the North Sea, we knew you just can’t fuck with the sea. You just can’t. Nothing will humble you more than nature; especially when Mother Nature is raging. When we were flying home from our first jaunt into Europe, we flew over Greenland (the pilots like to point this out every time if the day is clear enough). Andrew is so sweet, he woke me up because he knows how fascinated I am with the North and Iceland (which is not Greenland we know, but he thought I would appreciate the beauty nonetheless), and took a picture for me. When he woke me, I stared at him and I said “Andrew. I finally understand Bjork. I finally get it.” Andrew gave me a strange smile, as he does, and we all went back to half sleep. We had a hell of a bender, and were all worse for wear that flight home. I don’t know what the hell happened on that trip, but I was so incredibly moved to listen to Bjork. It may have been because we played with a guy from Iceland who once played with Bjork? I am not sure really. I had never listened, like I do now, to Bjork before 2012. As soon as I got home, I got as many Bjork albums as I could get. It’s a good thing that my best friend Kori was (is) a HUGE Bjork fan in high school, and gave me so much to listen to. I just devoured it. I have to be honest; I can’t always listen to everything (we all have those days. Raw days). Her music is challenging, and difficult emotionally at times, as much as it is beautiful, and interesting. Around this time, I came across the Documentary “When Björk Met Attenborough.” It really changed the way I looked at songwriting. In literature nature can be as much as an element as characters, why would music be any different? My Dad’s a retired English teacher, he would not be thrilled that I never considered that… sorry again Dad! In this documentary, Bjork and the legendary David Attenborough explore nature and music, specifically on Bjork’s album “Biophilia”.
“When Björk Met Attenborough: is a one-hour-long documentary, which follows Björk and naturalist David Attenborough as they investigate and discuss connections between music and nature. Narrated by Tilda Swinton and inspired by Björk’s technological project Biophilia – for which Attenborough provided a spoken introduction – the film is a unique encounter between two of the most iconic thinkers of our time.”
For those of you shut in from the snowstorm tonight, if you have an hour, this is worth the watch.
Until next time. Xo.
Jan. 11, 2015: “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing…” -Thomas Jefferson
I couldn’t sleep again last night. I have been plagued with insomnia since I was a little girl. I have a busy mind. I meditate every day now, but I can’t seem to quiet my monkey mind (as my Buddhist monk friend Bhante would say). That’s the point, though. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey (I am sure Mr. good friend of mine will love that. How many more cliché’s can I fit into this post?). On the bright side, I don’t mind being up before sunrise. I turned on the news and was filled with incredible amounts of respect for the people of France standing in solidarity for their freedoms. Gosh, it’s so amazing to see how humankind can rise up against such terrible circumstances. So, I was discussing this with a good friend, who possibly sleeps less then me, and we got on the topic of adversity. I am in no way, shape, or form comparing my experiences to those who have endured terrible atrocities, but I think we can all relate on some level. Whether big or small, I think all of us experience a point in our lives where we say “enough is enough” and stand the fuck up, or at least want to. Since I am writing about the new album, and its influences, I thought it was time to write about “Can’t be Saved”. It ushered in my rebellion. Albeit a small, personal rebellion, but a rebellion nonetheless. I was a victim of childhood abuse, and when I was three I “turned”, as has been described to me by my wonderful family (who didn’t know what was going on). I turned into a really bad kid. I acted out in all kinds of ways. I was always in trouble. Although, on a lighter note, some of that trouble was so much fun! I would do it again in a heartbeat 😉 So, since I was raised Catholic (I like to say I’m a recovering Catholic. To those of you who are religious, I have so much respect for your beliefs. I have a minor in Religious studies for Pete’s sake! I mean no disrespect. Please believe whatever you want. I am just not going to lie about how I feel on the matter), you are to confess your sins every so often. I went to a Catholic high school called St. Mary’s. They had priests come to give confession (where you confess your sins in exchange for forgiveness), and we were all made to go. So, I did what all “good” Catholics do. I made stuff up so as to not say the really bad stuff, but to not look like I was lying (you all know you did it). I thought I did okay, and then you know what the priest said to me? “You’re a real bad girl”. “You need to pray for forgiveness”. So I kneeled and tried to get through the hundred or so Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s he gave me as penance. My friends were laughing at me for how long I was kneeling there. I never got through all of them. I laughed it off at the time, but it really hurt me. I just thought, “how does everyone know I’m no good?” I have carried this with me for so long it became ingrained. When I started writing “Can’t be Saved” the music came to me first, and then all of a sudden, BAM! It hit me. The words to the bridge came quickly:
“I know it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But you can’t un-hear the thoughts of all the things that are said. Bless me Father for I have sinned. You gave me a dozen prayers to say to repent. ‘You’re a bad girl’. I don’t think you like. I’m a bad girl, I don’t think I mind. No God of mine wants me down on my knees begging forgiveness for supposed acts I won’t take back.”
This was my giant “fuck you” to anyone holding me down, and to myself for believing it. It is never okay for someone to guilt you, or put you down in any way, shape, or form. I lived a very long time believing that this was just how relationships are. It wasn’t until a good peep came into my life (and my beautiful family, and close friends have taught me this as well), that I realized that no one has the right to hold you down. Ever. Honestly, I would not be writing this without this good guy inspiring me, and so now I sit here in his position telling you reading this that you are fucking worth it. I believe that you deserve better. Most of us do. I don’t have all the answers, and neither does Eric (although he thinks he does), but this is what I know for sure. To quote this dude again “You have to fight for what you deserve”.
Until next time. Xo.
Dec. 14, 2014: “Just become love.” -My friend who shall remain nameless.
Okay, so the other day I was going through my dreams from the previous night with my friend. I asked him what he thought of the dream I had. He said, “What do you think it means?” I said “I think maybe it means I am ready to move on from this year.” He then said “no.” I said, “Yeah, you’re probably right. I still have a lot of work to do.” Then he said, “Deanna you’re not ready. You’re FUCKING ready.” Oh, always with a flare for the dramatic. He’s right. I am. I was talking to Kori, and we laughed at how awesome 2014 was. We dubbed it “the year of the party”. We were being cheeky of course. Kori who is ever the optimist then said, “Deanna, it was a great year. Look at what happened.” She’s right. It’s been a trying year, but I am so grateful for it. It’s funny, I was reading through this blog the other day (and I found some spelling mistakes… sorry Dad!), and I thought “I know that girl”. I just want to hug her and tell her that it’s going to be okay. I am just not her anymore. It’s been nine and a half months, and in a way an eternity, but I did it. I got through. I wake up every morning grateful. Grateful for every single person and thing in my life. I recorded this little thank-you video for a friend, who has been by my side the whole time. Even when it got really ugly. I asked him if I could tell his story, which why I listen to him so intently. He gave his blessing. One of my very low days, he said “Deanna, quitting is not an option. I quit once.” This stopped my dead in my tracks. You see, He is gay, and he was in the closet. He unfortunately was caught with another man before he was ready to come out, and what ensued following that was heartbreaking. It still makes me cry when I think about it. He became suicidal, and lost all will to fight for himself. He knows what it is to give up and not love yourself. It’s his mission to let us all know that giving up is not an option. Just like he said: “When you fight for what you deserve, it will inspire many.”
I dedicate this video to my friend. One of the bravest people I have ever known. I love you dude, even though we’re just a couple of creeps.
Until next time. xo.
Dec. 7, 2014:
No rest for the wicked. Who needs sleep when you play with people like this
Just some rehearsal pics courtesy of Josh. We warmed up with some Fleetwood Mac, then played some North Sea tunes. We then started work on the next batch of songs. I know, I know, we haven’t even released North Sea yet. But honestly, working gets me up at night. Seriously, I will get my ass out of bed to write if I have an idea. I really look up to Josh and Andrew (and T of course, she wants to hook up her cello to the effects board). They have turned me onto all kinds of cool music, and they have been so supportive of the new song fragments. We may or may not have spent hours on one song… I have a new love in life. Making crazy sounds on whatever I can get my hands on. Andrew is lending me his pedal board. He was giving me some lessons. I would be lying if I didn’t say that this has slightly taken over my life right now. This weekend Josh and I are getting together exclusively to make noise on his little fatty (his Moog). At some point at rehearsal we all switched instruments, and I was playing bass, and Josh was on keys, then by some miracle, Andrew was on the keys/effects, I was on the kit, and Josh was back on bass. Truth, I don’t know how it happened. It doesn’t matter. We just go for it, and whatever happens happens. So by 12:30 we figured we would head out to Augusta street for a drink. Then Royal Canoe happened:
Josh, Andrew, and Rodrigues (and a bunch of other friends) go to Hillside every year, and they saw Royal Canoe. Josh wanted to show me the kinds of things they are doing, especially with vocal effects (because on Magnets I have a vocal/guitar solo). Needless to say, by 2:30, we didn’t grab a drink. Then we fell down a Youtube hole, which was quite fun. Our band sleepovers are really becoming a thing… We are hoping to get a new set up and running. I am sure we will have some things to share very soon. Until next time xo.
Nov. 21, 2014:
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ― John Lennon
Until next time. xo.
Nov. 6, 2014:
Okay, so it is no secret that we don’t like band pictures. At all. But we understand that you need to have them for a new album, and so we just wanted to get them done as quickly as possible. My sister Alycia knows how we are, and so when Andrew suggested that we show up at Josh’s place and walk around, she followed and took as many pictures as possible in the hope that something would be useable. These pictures I am posting are the outtakes. They are not pretty: The first picture is Andrew and I acting. Trina actually thought we were pointing at something, and Josh wasn’t listening to us at all. Why we thought this was appropriate for an album cover is beyond me? The next picture is us laughing at ourselves after the pointing pose. We quickly realized that was a no go. The next picture needs explaining. Josh got a new nick name: Tender Balls. I am not a liberty to say why in this blog. Poor old tender balls couldn’t jump… (This reminds me of the Beastie Boys song Root Down. “because I’ve got the flow where I grab my dick and say oh my God, that’s the funky shit.”) Next, I wanted a “thinker” pose. I stole that from SNL. There is a very funny Will Ferrell sketch where Will poses in the thinker pose, and then the stinker pose. We did both. I will spare you the stinker pose pics. I was the only one doing it. Gross.
Trina’s daughter’s were off to the side while we were taking these pictures. Tessa, Trina’s oldest, was yelling out pose ideas, and she showed us this one. We had to oblige. Again, Look at Josh’s face! Poor tender balls… We actually started racing after that. It is a known fact that we all have very short attention spans, and we just started running around like a bunch of idiots after about 10 minutes. Then because we’re so old, we got out of breath and sat down on the Teeter Totter. This game was called knock off the boys. It didn’t work. Then I started telling dirty jokes… By the time we got to the swings, we were pretty tuckered out and called it a job well done. We set the bar low.
Thanks to everyone for all the support of the new website design and album art. We have been working really hard, and we’re so happy to share it with you all and the new album. Until next time. xo.
Oct. 16, 2014:
“When a good man and a good woman can’t find the good in each other, then a good man and a good woman will bring out the worst in the other. The bad in each other.” -Feist
Thank-you so much to the wonderful Justin Sawicki for singing and playing on this track with me. Also, thank-you to Magic Dan for having us over and for filming us on his fancy new iPhone.
A good friend Phil once said to me “Deanna, when it’s over, it’s over.” That’s a tough sentence to hear, and it’s an even tougher sentence to accept. No song that I have ever written has been harder for me to both write and sing then “Stay”. It’s the last song I wrote for the album, but it took months of work. I sung the first line “Hold me like you wanna stay” and knew this was it, but unfortunately I also knew it was it. Relationships are tricky business. It’s funny, people might think I am strange, but I still consider exes of all varities to be friends, even after everything. One in particular has been very supportive. In fact, I have considered not posting, or deleting much of it, and he (along with my family, and friends) have been very insistent that I honour my truth. I told him I was writing this, and he was very proud of me. Sometimes you have a thousand reasons to stay together. You get along, you have fun, you are friends, I mean what else can you ask for? Of all the thousands of reasons to stay, there is really only one reason to leave. Unfortunately that reason trumps all the others. It’s the knowledge deep in your gut that things aren’t right. It’s the stuff that keeps you up at night. You can try and try, but your heart always knows, no matter what you try to do to force it. I have made some tough decisions. I stand by my decision. Life is full of them. At the end of the day I chose to do what is right and ultimately what was right for my own happiness. I guess that’s all we can do. Until next time. xo.
Oct. 14, 2014:
“Fuck being humble. Brag.” -Josh Kohler
I know I have said it a thousand times, and I will say it a thousand more. I am absolutely in love with my band mates. These are the kinds of texts we send each other. It is in reference to the album of course. Since this was a group effort, we have all chipped in our 2 cents regarding the final mixes, and have started on mastering notes. Lots of texts, phone calls, and e-mails have gone around. Everyone had their say, and man, we fucking work well together. It’s lovely. So I’m fucking bragging. I have never in my life been involved in the mastering process, and when Dan asked me to get reference tracks ready, I almost had a heart attack. Then, because it’s me, I got really, REALLY, into it. At the risk of sounding vulgar (like I care at this point), this is the shit that turns me right on. I am still nervous, but also excited to work. The final mix tweaks are being completed, and then we’re mastering ASAP. Eeek! So now for the fun bits. The album artwork is already completed, but we are doing band photos this weekend, with my sister again running the show. We are doing them at Josh’s, which he is of course, making food. Andrew wanted Candid’s. So we said “cool”. I want them done quick and dirty, because the second we try to pose, we revert to elementary school, and then there are no usable pictures. Seriously. For “All Things” we had only one picture that we all looked alright in. SO when we were trouble shooting the album pictures, within 2 e-mails, Trina was offering to bring chocolate sauce, and I, nipple tassels. Yeah, this may all go South quickly. Lord knows we will try! I am looking forward to updating the site, getting the new, er, um, “Bio” up that Josh and I wrote, and getting some new music up soon. Thanks for all your patience everyone.
Oh, I almost forgot! Here are some photos and video from our “Bait and Switch” sessions. That’s magic Dan on EBow. And that’s Kori on some effects orb thingy. That’s not the technical name of course. To say that shit got weird fast is an understatement, but we managed to get some cool sounds on there. I also got to scream! Like I was on a roller coaster! I am talking on the track. Fun, fun indeed.
Until next time. xo
Sept. 25. 2014: Josh got me this book for my Birthday this year (along with some albums).
Last year for my Birthday he gave me over 20 albums to listen to. He did his research. He only gave me albums I didn’t have, minus one Wilco album. He didn’t know Andrew already gave it to me. It was Josh who first turned me onto the Talking Heads years ago. I did play in a cover band called Artfag that played “Once in a Lifetime”, and I do credit Lou (the singer of the band) with introducing me to all kinds of new music, including my growing appreciation for the Talking Heads. As I am discussing the various album influences in this blog, the song “Once in a Lifetime” really sums up how I have been feeling the last several years. “And you may ask yourself well, how did I get here? Letting the days go by… Same as it ever was…” Out of this song came my inspiration for the song “North Sea”. Here is a copy of those lyrics:
I have shit handwriting, sorry. The original is even worse… I have several working copies of my lyric sheets as they change, and my memory is terrible. I digress. Again… Okay, story time. In 2012 we were fortunate enough to go on the tinniest tour of Holland and Germany, where we were able to meet so many of our lovely supporters (you guys know who you are, and we love you tons and tons). I spent a year planning this tour by myself, and I had never even been on a plane. Talk about insanity. Because Trina, Josh, Andrew, and Adrian are such lovely and easy going people, it turned out to be such a wonderful experience. When you love what you’re doing, and are fortunate enough to be around great people, you can make anything work. I just didn’t want it to seem like I am bragging that I planned the smallest tour of all time… Okay, and now we’re back! So, while we were there we learned so much about the Dutch people and their culture. All of those influences made it onto this album. It’s funny, after we got back home, I flipped on the T.V., and what was on? A documentary about the Dutch levee systems (another side note, one of my favourite songs of all time is “When The Levee Breaks”. Man, does Led Zeppelin IV get any better? Needless to say, I was hooked watching a doc. on levees). Holland lives under constant threat of the North Sea flooding basically the entire country as it’s below sea level, and is also sinking due to the amount of water pumped out to expand their land. In 1953 there was a devastating flood that is still a source of pain to the Dutch today. After the 1953 flood, they re-built, and created one of engineering’s most advanced marvels: a system to keep the North Sea out. The friends we have made over there are some of the most amazing people we have ever met. You would never know that these people are living in such potentially dangerous surroundings. They really make the best of what they’ve got. I wrote this song for them, and I wrote it for all of us who need a reminder that limitations are only in our minds. If they can make that work, then I guess I can figure it out, you know what I mean? We were able to go back to Europe in 2013 and play “North Sea”. That meant alot to us. Sorry this post was so wordy. I thought I would try something different? Until next time. Xo.
Sept. 22, 2014:
“Almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk too… only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.” –Joe Versus the Volcano.
I have been sorting through albums upon albums of reference material from Josh for my funk lessons. It’s funny how lost I get in the new music I am listening to. So lost that I walk into tables, and forget about mundane things like eating and sleeping (I’m kidding, sorta), and yet feel so at home and at peace (I am resisting the urge to write “found”, but I just did it anyways). I don’t know what it is about music, but it inspires me to live in a state of constant amazement (thanks Joe versus the Volcano). Any style, or genre really. The older I get the less and less I care about what category someone says that music should be in, or that someone may find some of my musical choices pretentious or pedestrian. I am just always on the lookout to be inspired, and I never know what that will be until I am in the same room as it. You just know when you know. Over the years I have taken up several instruments and/or lessons in seemingly “strange” genres or instruments to expand my playing, and also because it’s so fucking fun. I really do love a challenge. When Kori, Dan, and I were working Friday, he said that the better you are as a musician, the more likely you are to be lonely because you spend so much time working on your craft. I guess that’s true in my case. Sometimes to my detriment, I admit. So bringing it back around to my funk lessons, I really am very bad. I love being bad at things sometimes (because I HATE when I can’t do something well). It reminds me to keep working, and that if I put time into it, I can get some semblance of something happening. These lessons always inspire the next project, which I have already started… good lord Deanna… Am I writing a fusion record? No. But the references are there like good spices in a recipe. You can taste a hint of it. These new songs are a bit spicy. We all know how much I love hot sauce (Josh, Barbsi, and T all like it hot too). You know, today I listened to “First time long time” on repeat: and it made me think about a boyfriend I had. He was the first person to really turn me onto fusion. He is much older then me (as I used to tease him), and he is an incredible drummer. I looked up to him in many ways. He gave me lessons all the time (snare work lessons to be precise). I learned a lot from him in the short time we were together. He challenged me, partly because we were so different. I had also never had someone pursue me quite like him. I am very shy and could never be as bold as him, and I now really admire that quality. I didn’t give him enough credit at the time. Maybe I should thank him sometime? I mean on our first date he wouldn’t tell me where we were going, and ended up driving me to a famous Jazz club in Toronto. Talk about a show off! I am sure he would be pleased at how into Medeski, Martin & Wood I am now. Regarding my lessons, I hope I never stop being bad at things. It keeps me trying, learning, and it keeps me going. In terms of album updates we are so close… I have a really nice video coming of the song “Stay” with the very lovely Justin Sawicki, but until then, thanks for reading. Xo.
Sept. 4, 2014:
First round of mixes. Done! Or as Dan would say “Doneski”. Here are some pics from various days. Kori also took a video that I am debating on posting. The first bunch are of us recording background vocals. There were more of us on hand for this, but you get the sense with these pics that we were all business… Look how smart and serious Andrew and I look… talking vocals and such. Except we were most likely talking about wieners. I am talking about sausages you sick bastards. Ah ha, just kidding. Mostly. Okay, so Andrew LOVES to be the band creep (and I am a distant second to his creep-ness). That’s why we call him WUBS (weird Uncle Barbsi… I gave that sucker to him, and it kinda stuck). So this pic encapsulates Andrew being a creep. It also caught me in my common practice of nose picking. I. Can’t. Get. Enough. Trina gets mad at us for ruining every picture. Truth, this is the nicest one of the bunch. Let’s just be thankful that everyone is wearing pants here. Let’s not get started on Josh pictures… Next is Kori playing Tambo, and framing our faces with it. Notice my large mug of coffee. Dear coffee, I love you. Let’s make some memories.
*Okay, so I am posting the video. Kori edited it so nicely. There are only five people reading this blog anyways, so you already know how goofy I am. Kori took this a few weeks ago when we were mixing. Kori always marvels at how many ways I can say “Faaack” both in negative and positive ways. Here are four examples: I love you Mom!!
Almost done! Until next time. xo.
August 29, 2014:
If a picture speaks a thousand words…
We have been adding the finishing touches to the album, and mixing it. This is how mixing looks. It’s not exciting folks!
Dan Rodrigues, the Barry White of hand claps:
And now a series of pictures titled “Shit we did behind Dan’s back”:
Finally. I invented a game called “Whose hand?” The rules are you drink some wine turn off the lights and guess “whose hand?”. Kori pointed out it’s always my hand… maybe one day it will be a two player game. (Trina wants to play with me. That’s why I love her).
Almost done! Until next time. xo.
August 26, 2014: “When you fight for what you deserve it will inspire many” –My crazy friend Eric.
Thanks to the Basement Choir: Kori, Jess, and Amanda. xo.
My friend really kicked me in the ass today. Those of you who have been following this blog know that I have been sharing what has made up this album. I have realized that so much goes into the music, that sometimes I forget that it’s still evolving, and that the music gives as much to me as I to it. I am going to talk about the song “The Hope” in this post. I have to be honest, I wrote this song mostly sobbing on the floor. I have made many mistakes in my life. I am sure many of you out there feel the same as me, and I am not complaining, but I do need to own it. One of my biggest mistakes is putting everyone’s needs and wants ahead of my own. I always try to “do the right thing” by everyone else. The problem is that in making everyone else happy, I let myself down. In the past I had painted myself into a corner that I couldn’t get out of, and I felt trapped by obligation and situation. My bud then said to me “Deanna, when you fight for what you deserve it will inspire many.” Honestly, this irritated me to no end, because he was right. I try for everyone else but myself because I have thought so little of myself. Fucking fun times. I have tried for so long to ignore, and shut down my feelings because I was afraid. I am afraid. The problem with that is that the feelings don’t just leave because you want them too. I know I can’t go back and change my foolish behaviour, but I can own my truth now. My truth is that I have lived for a very long time afraid to let anyone in, and all I have to show for it is a bunch of songs. Don’t get me wrong, I love these songs. I am here writing this because this song revealed these insights to me today (along with my bud of course). If I can inspire just one of you to live for yourself and learn from my past, then this was worth it. I don’t have any answers I guess. I am trying. That’s all we can do. Until next time. Xo.
August 21, 2014:
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” -Michael J. Fox
Weeks ago my sister Alycia requested that I cover Bedroom Hymns by the great Florence + The Machine. Both of my sisters love Florence + The Machine so much, and I really wanted to do a good job for them. I unfortunately wasn’t doing a good job of the arrangement, and then it occurred to me that if I combined Bedroom Hymns and The Drumming Song, it would kick up my arrangement some. Plus, my sister Carolyn loves “Lungs”, so that way I got both of my sisters favourites into one song. Again, I know nothing compares to the original versions of these songs. They are covered with much respect and love. Thanks to my sister Alycia for filming.
Until next time. xo.
August 10, 2014:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela.
Be the light. xo.
August 7, 2014
Fun with Wigs:
Okay, so I am just about to head out to Dan’s, but Kori sent me some pics that she dared me to post! I never turn down a dare 😉 Please don’t be offended with what I am about to post. We are way too silly, and also I am kinda gross sometimes (as are the rest of us in this band). I mean no offence. I am not even going to go into all the nicknames. Usually we keep these kinds of photos to ourselves… what can I say? You have been warned. I am sorry Mom!
Until next time. xo
August 5, 2014
Guitars and Talk Show Host (caution, long post!):
Dan is an incredible musician in many ways, but his principal instrument is guitar. Kori and I also play guitar, kinda sorta, so the three of us tag teamed the guitar parts (in terms of writing the parts, Dan is the best player to record them). Last week Dan nailed the guitar parts for “Stay”, and “Can’t Be Saved”. Below are the pictures from that session. Kori took these, and if you look really carefully she hid some words in the first 3 pictures. Kori and I love secret messages. I still can’t find one to be honest? The next picture is the cabinet that Dan and Andrew made together. We had to use it on the record!
Last night we tackled the guitar parts for “Magnets” and “Wayne”. I am going to focus this post on “Magnets”, as it is the second track I wrote for the album, and it has substantial guitar parts. We fussed with it for a bit. Story time! Again… For this album I wanted to push my writing. I pushed myself in every way I possibly could. I tore the parts apart, recorded demos of them, and I would walk every morning listening to the demos from the day before. Then I would go back to Fred (my piano) and rework them. This album is rhythm centric. Basic rhythm. Stuff to stomp your feet too. I had a smattering of percussion instruments thrown around my little work space, and my thighs and stomach are now permanently bruised from all the body percussion. I was so frustrated in every way writing like this. It wasn’t what I was used too. Which was the point! Don’t worry, I am not complaining in the least. Just sharing where these songs came from. I know I created this environment, but man, was it exhausting! I also pushed myself to be more honest then I ever had lyrically and emotionally. I just felt naked, frustrated, and beat up. That is the environment we created for “Magnets” sonically. It never resolves. As I write this, I am so excited for you all to hear the end result! We got some really neat stuff. Our inspiration song was “Talk Show Host”. There is something so unsettling about this song, but also sexy and raw.
Also, last night, Kori and Dan recorded some vocals on her phone, and then ran that through a guitar pick up. I took my hand experimenting as well. Guess what I am getting? A pedal board! I digress…
Here is a little video of us experimenting with effects:
Until next time. xo
August 2, 2014
Okay, so we are putting the finishing touches on the album, and I have some amazing stuff to post, hopefully tomorrow, of Dan laying it down. We were to be recording guitar for “Magents” and “Wayne” last night, but I got stuck in terrible long weekend traffic, construction, and a bridge closure. What normally would take me 15 minutes to drive, took me over an hour. I got to Kori’s, and we decided to cancel our session, not knowing how long it would take to get to Dan’s (it was already late at this point). So, Kori and I decided to make a little acoustic video of “Not Tonight”.
We’ll be resuming tonight. Until next time. xo.
July 22, 2014
It’s all about the little things:
We have been busy. It’s crunch time, and we have been working on the album almost everyday. Trina was in again working hard Friday, and we had a blast. That girl can car dance like nobody’s business. We are having a monster session tomorrow recording the backing vocals, and gang vocals. We have assemebled quite the vocal team for this bad boy. So, the boys and I wanted to tighten up our harmonies and we had a rehearsal Sunday, where these pics were taken. We usually will rehearse all day, and then cook together at several points (everyone usually brings something), and we hang out and listen to our latest musical obsessions. This was our second break of the day, where we had a couple beers, ate an awesome quinoa lentil salad made by Josh (he is such a good cook), burned some lovely incense, and listened to Andrew’s new favourite band:
If you listen carefully, there is a red headed woman reference. I dig that. It reminded me so much of my favourite Band of Gypsys song “Who Knows” (Fucking Hendrix… yes I am dancing right now. Too bad I am a terrible dancer).
Life really is about the little things. Spending time playing with these guys is a pleasure that I don’t even think I can express in words. Life is as good as you make it. Now I have got to go practice my funk piano… seriously. My lessons are going okay. I mean, I still suck, but Josh has a bunch of Medeski, Martin, & Wood for me tomorrow, maybe it will help? I do hope so.
Until next time. xo.
July 11, 2014
Deanna by request, and The Basement Choir:
Okay, so I know that nothing compares to the original version of West Coast by Lana Del Rey, but I was asked to try my hand at it, and this was my best attempt. I would like to thank a couple buds for pushing me for weeks to get a video of this. It was fun working on it! Also, thank-you to Alycia for filming, doing my hair, and convincing me to put some lipstick on! I am sure it’s obvious how nervous I was… covering other people’s material is tricky business! I hope I did it justice.
So many of you know that several months ago I (Deanna) put together a little choir of some of my vocal students called The Basement Choir (because we literally rehearse in my basement where my little teaching/music studio is). They performed a couple of gigs with us, and I know that some of you were curious about how they sounded. We had a rehearsal yesterday, and we decided to shoot a quick video of their favourite song “Magents”. I am so proud of these lovely ladies. The Basement Choir consists of Emma, Vanessa, Emma, and Carolyn. Great job girls!
P.s. sorry I got a little filter crazy when editing the video.
Until next time. xo
July 8, 2014
Well, here is the editing team in all it’s tired glory. We are having a blast though! Oh Dan! His face says it all. What a special person. I am so glad to call him a close friend now. All morning I kept asking for a Dan sandwich (which is just a three way hug), but Dan thought I wanted him to make me a sandwich, like I was commanding him “Dan. Sandwich!” We had a good laugh over that one! So on our epic break on Friday we took this pic. Now why did we have an epic break? Well, Kori and I had sugar. I have given up refined sugar because I have been quite ill (side note: I have more food intolerances then I can count). I am sure you can imagine how hyper we got when I ate refined sugar for the first time in months. Wowzers. It was really nice though. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Everything in moderation I always say. We got so much work done on Friday, but there is still more to do. We are a bit over schedule, but we are still going to be able to release our album in September as promised. We tend to set deadlines as a loose guide to keep things moving, but we don’t loose too much sleep if we go over time. Especially when the extra work we are putting in makes the end result so much better. Well, that’s the hope anyway.
Okay, so I get really, really, proud of my friends. I just can’t help it. I just need to share what an incredible person Dan is for a minute. This picture might not look like much now, but Dan is currently creating his own effects pedal. I would go into more detail if I understood what he was talking about, but it’s incredibly complicated for my pea brain. What has me so proud is that Dan looked at what he wanted to create and didn’t take no for an answer. He just thought, well if this pedal doesn’t exist, then I will make one. It’s not a ego project for Dan (not that there’s anything wrong with that either). There are so many people in this world who look around them and see possibility. I hope to join his ranks someday too. Until next time. xo
June 8, 2014
Chello? Bad pun. Sorry:
Vocals are done! Trina likes to record her cello parts last, as her instrument is fretless, tuning is a high priority. She needs to be playing to the finished vocals, as we arrange and write her parts to work alongside the vocal lines. It’s always so exciting when T gets in the studio. The tunes sound so bare without her. She really is the secret sauce. Piri piri if we are being precise. She just got started, but she nailed “Magnets” and “Not Tonight” (which are the first two songs that were written for this album). Trina is a very hard worker, and in the studio our favourite thing to say is “Power through”! She just does take after take. Basically she is a machine. Trina deserves some major props because she is also a Mom to Tessa, and almost 6 month old Eva. So, being in a band and having kids means flexibility! It’s not glamourous folks (I am sure any parent will tell you that). So who came to the session? Eva did! Who was the babysitter? I was! Poor Eva.
I would come in and out to listen to the takes with Eva strapped to me. I wrote this little lullaby a few months ago that I sang to her, and she actually went to sleep! There is even photographic evidence. As many of you know, Josh also has two little ones (Zoey, and newborn Evelyn). I think that many people think that having kids means that you can’t be a musician, or that you have to “grow up” whatever that means. Does it make things harder? Yeah. But, life makes things harder whether you have kids or not! We’re not the kind of band who waits for the perfect storm. We just take it as it comes. Dirty diapers, nap times, and all. Kids also make life better. So we schedule everything around these little munchkins. They are at our rehearsals, and often gigs if they are not too late. They are just as much a part of our little band family as we are. Also our partners, close family, friends, and supporters are too! Any of you reading this are aware of that I am sure 😉 The machine will be back at it this week a couple times at least. Until next time. xo
May 31, 2014
Embracing my inner shithead:
We were busy this week. Busy is good. We got in a few sessions, and we finished the key parts. Dan lubed up the Wurli pedal, and I did whatever it is I do. It was such a pleasure to play the real thing. To be honest my first couple passes weren’t great. Dan said “don’t worry, you’re just getting used to an unfamiliar keyboard”. The player in me said “fuck that”. I don’t like waiting. I am such a shithead sometimes (Kori loves to call me this), and I really don’t like when I can’t do something well. I will literally sit until I get it. It is a terribly annoying personality trait. Well, I embraced my inner shithead, and lo and behold, I got it. On my 3rd take of the morning, Dan turned to me and said “Monster take”. It’s funny beause after a show one night, Josh started calling me “Monster”. Most likely due to the fact I slightly scream my face off. I seriously don’t know why anyone likes us? I digress. We finished “Love me Right” and “Not Tonight” on the Wurli. Which concludes the key portion of the album. Over half way there!
This picture pretty much sums up my entire Friday. Left hand on hip to stop my finger twiddling problem (it’s hard for me to keep my fingers still. Years of playing piano I guess?), singing take after take. We got 7 of the 10 tracks totally done. Vocals. How do I begin? I know. Story time. I was driving with my Dad the other day, and we were talking about life (I know, vague). I can’t remember what I said exactly, but he started laughing and he said “Dee. You were never going to be anything else. I named you after a singer afterall”. This is true. He changed my name without telling my Mom at the hospital to Deanna (after Deanna Durbin the singer) after he saw me. Needless to say, my Mom got to name my sister whatever she wanted when she was born. I really have never done anything else. I had a slight lisp and a stutter growing up. I am also a ginger, and really shy. So you can just imagine how popular I was! Ha! I could barely get a sentence out. Singing and playing piano were the only places I felt like I could finally communicate how I felt on every level. I could be completely honest. It was my saving grace. This is not an incredibly unique story, I am sure many of you can relate in some way. I guess what I am getting at is the honesty of the performances of these songs was the most important thing we had to capture. For whatever reason, I can focus when I am singing in ways I cannot in other aspects of my life, and I think we got it. Fingers crossed. Until next time. xo.
May 23, 2014
Well, Dan and I had the day to ourselves Thursday, and on the agenda? To finish the keys. Not a small task. We finished up 8 tracks, and had to stop for the Wurli tracks. Dan has to lube up the pedal for next time. Insert gratuitous innuendo here. I certainly did. We all know I love clever innuendo. Or, not so clever. I am very immature. So there’s not much exciting stuff to report when you spend all morning, day, and evening tracking. I would say the most interesting parts of the day were the coffee breaks with Mr. Rodrigues. There were a few. Dan and I LOVE coffee. Dan went to school with us (Mohawk College music program), and then he got his behind into Berklee. I got schooled Thursday. Then when he was done schooling me, he flipped me over and schooled me again. It was so lovely to sit with someone who knows so much more then me about everything. He really took the time to teach and explain. I never felt any lack of patience from his end. On our coffee breaks we talked about the usual. Music, life, and everything in between. Then when his lovely gilfriend Katie came home, she added to the wonderful company. He played for me an amazing artist that he also turned Andrew onto. Sufjan Stevens. He looked at me and said “I think you’ll like this”. He was very right. I cried right there. I am a serious loser. He then said “I have to show you something, I think you’ll like it too”. Dan is very inspired by visual art. This video is so smart, and visually creative. I thought maybe some of you might appreciate it? I do love sharing what I stumble across in the hope that someone might get something special from the find. I know I always do when people share things. Sappy Deanna is unleashed… I would be lying if getting this personal doesn’t scare the crap out of me. As many of you know, sharing is not my thing. Anyone who has ever tried to really know me will tell you that. Baby steps I guess? I know I’m not alone in this. Go therapy! I hope next time I come up with something more interesting to talk about? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s very good how much we got done on Thursday! Hopefully you enjoy the videos. Until next time. xo.
May 19, 2014
As the caption suggests, it was Organ Thursday at Dan’s. We first finished the final key part with Cornelius on a song called “The Hope”, and then worked on “North Sea” and “Foolish” which have significant organ parts. Dan is such an artist when it comes to timbre, and we worked at finding the right tone for each manual. Dan gets all the credit for that. I know what I like and don’t like sonically, but he is a serious wizard at picking out what I was saying and making it happen on the organ. We also got some heavy bass pedal action happening. You don’t want to mess with the bass pedal. It’s the right amount of clean and dirty if that makes sense? Josh and I always, and I do mean always, want more dirt. He’s pumped about more bass parts. Then there’s the cello. More bass again. Josh will often yell out at rehearsal, “I think we need more bass”. Cheeky Josh. I have the sudden urge to sing “been spending most our lives living in a [bass players] paradise” (Dangerous Minds anyone? Sorry, my inner nerd just came out. Like it ever really leaves). I wish I was a better organ player and could use my feet as is intended, but everything I play with my feet sounds horrible! Actually horrible. Kori and Dan were laughing out loud at me because for a split second I thought I could play it with my feet. Yeah, no. So my hands did the trick just fine. They always do… thanks for reading. xo.
May 12, 2014
Well after several busy months of writing and pre-production we have started recording. We have a tight schedule set and will be done by the end of June! We were at Dan’s studio this last weekend where we recorded the bass and drums, along with the ghosts (Deanna’s scratch key and vocal parts). We did record the ghosts earlier, but they were, er, um, lost… Everything went really well, and now we will be recording the keyboard parts this week. Speaking of keyboards. I was caught cheating on Fred (my piano) and Cornelius Korg (my keyboard) with this cute little Wurli. Shush, don’t tell!! If I am being really honest, my only true goal in life is to move to the country and buy a house with a barn, so that I can convert this barn into a jam space. I would then own several keyboards. A girl can dream right? Josh, Andrew, and Trina are waiting for me to make this happen! They would never leave. Maybe I should hold off. Lol! Here are a few snaps from the weekend.
Top pictures: Andrew setting up, without his “Off the Wall” hat. Josh, up early, It’s a miracle! Me and the Wurli. “Breakfast beer is the most important beer of the Day” -Dan Rodrigues. Josh after he just said “I always look good”. The English Muff’n, which I love because it sounds so dirty! The wiz kids, Kori and Dan.
The bottom pictures: Dan’s new baby, the Copper Phone mic. She’s a beauty! Kori and Dan did a really cool mic set up where when recording the drums, they did the usual set-up with the kit, but then got a really great room tone from upstairs in the hallway, and then also another really awesome tone from the Copper Phone in the room as well. I get to use this sucker for my vocals too. We are over the moon about it. The next picture is Josh standing. That was also a miracle. It’s kind of a joke with the band that once Josh sits down, and plays Primus, the night is over. He sat down 10 minutes in, and started the Primus 20 minutes after that. God help us. The final pic is the himalayan salt lamp. We had not one but three for this session. One in my vocal and keyboard closet and two in the main room. It’s essential. Well, sort of, for Kor and Dan. Josh says it’s essential when I am contained in a seperate room. What a guy!
I can’t even begin to describe how grateful we all are to get to do this album. Thank-you so much to everyone who has been cheering us on. It means so much that I can’t even put it into words. I’ll be updating this sucker with what we have been up to, and thank-you for the interest! xo
Jan. 20, 2014. Pre-Production:
Hello there. I hope that everyone is well, and that you are getting back into the swing of things after the holiday’s. We wanted to give you all a little album update. We are currently in pre-production for the next couple weeks, and things are really going great! We are very happy to be adding to our team with this album, and are excited to announce that we are wokring with producer, engineer, and musician extraordinaire Kori Pop. Also, we will be working with the incredibly talented Dan Rodrigues, Michael Chambers, and Alycia Wells for later aspects of the album. We are so excited to be able to show you all what we have been working on.
As promised, we have a couple fun pics and a seriously questionable video inserted below.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Kori Pop.
During our session last night, I was not so sure about this cat picture.
Also, because we wanted to show you just how serious, and focused we are, we have a short video of the new invention that I, Dee created. It’s called the Bun Shaker (patent pending). I just inserted the shaker into my hair bun so that my hands were free to play the keys. I don’t mean to brag, but I think I am onto something huge.
Just kidding. I am aware how ridiculous this is…