Blog & Thoughts: An Indie Artist's Journey

Melting Freezing Thawing  

Been quiet for a while. A long while.

2020 was going to be the year I busted out my second album.  Had a game plan and everything. I remember sending P a note in January titled “Weather 2020 - Let’s do this!”

I don’t create songs for fun, but to express angst, frustration, doubt or pain. It’s how I’ve processed the world since I was 12.  I rely on the tidy format of a song to package and distill my visceral reaction to unpleasant events in my life.  With my first release, I hoped in some small way to help others currently struggling through similar situations process how they feel.  

We squeaked in a few sessions in 2020 before the world started melting down then abruptly froze in stasis. Singing and coproducing songs are not activities conducive to zoom. Tried one in person session in the summer for a very specific song (cover for a potential sync submission) which required extra planning and safety precautions. But despite this glimmer of progress, I just could not continue.

While most of my new songs are just as vitriolic and cathartic as those on Cubicle Zombie, dealing with death, sexism, politics, relationships… these struggles seem trivial given what we’ve all just been through. Right now they feel like dropped coins, relics from a bygone era, frozen in a thick layer of ice.  As the world starts to thaw, I don’t know if I’ll recover them.  



Social Media Break (continued) 

I've taken a long break from social media over the past few months.  Uninstalled Twitter and Facebook from my phone.  I was emotionally drained after the chaos at the end of last year.  Couple that with major surgery for my mother (and the looming possibility of losing my other parent), and I needed to conserve my emotional resources this spring.     

It's been refreshing and healthy for me, but counterproductive for the music.  My streams have dropped off.  I haven't connected with my fans.  I squandered opportunities from the attention I received at release.  Kicking myself.  But my mental health was the priority.   

Peter and I are taking a studio break this summer due to conflicting schedules.   I'm torn between promoting Cubicle Zombie / finding my fans, or focusing on the album in process (which is about 35% complete).   I'd rather do the latter (comfortable! songwriting! art!) versus the former (new and scary! awkward self-promotion! stupid fucking branding and buzzwords!).  

At some point, I'll see you back on social media.  



The Art of Process Podcast 

I cannot recommend this podcast enough.  I'm an Aimee Mann fan ('Til Tuesday's Everything's Different Now album will be forever burned into my brain), so I was intrigued when I saw it pop up on Twitter a while back.  I'm not much of a podcast person, as I prefer to spend my commutes/workouts listening to music or practicing my own.  But as the name implies, The Art of Process is about the creative process.  Creativity is not just this mythical lightning bolt.  It's a combination of practice, observation and pattern recognition.  It's fears and channeling those fears.  It's working through the doubt and trusting in the process itself.  It's been fascinating to hear how some of these patterns transcend the medium (she and Ted Leo have interviewed comedians, musicians, physical artists and even critics), but I've taken lessons from every one of these podcasts.

Listen!  Seriously!  

Thank You Cards 

I posted this on social media, but feel the need to include this here as well.

6 months ago today, Cubicle Zombie was released into the wild. Last night, I spent a few hours hand-writing thank you cards to the radio stations that have supported & spun the album....but I ran out of cards about halfway through my list!  Until I really sat down to go through this exercise, I didn’t realize how much support this debut EP from a totally unknown artist has received. 

Have I been too focused on the new album, or too distracted by streams? Too often we get caught up in the numbers and lose sight of the humans behind them. 

For anyone I miss (or who gets a card a little late), THANK YOU for supporting independent music!

Inequality / War Stories 

This is a little delayed, but I feel the need to document it.

The night before heading back to Minneapolis to bury my father, I stayed over with my sister and her husband (airport logistics and whatnot).  After a meal of delicious Thai food and too many gingery drinks while perched in the kitchen, we got into an impassioned discussion about sexual harassment and inequality.  My sister and I traded war stories about harassment, including experiences with bosses calling us drunk on Valentine's Day and peers cornering us in our cars to profess attraction during a lunch run.  My brother-in-law listened to these stories in amazement.  To his credit, he shared stories about how his male peers believe men and women are equal, and how the things my sister and I were sharing were outside the realm of possibility for these guys.  

It made me realize that most women go through this, and most men are still blind to it.  It's getting better, but slowly.  Sometimes we play along because our survival is at stake; it's easier to just flirt back then to risk retaliation.  But we're all tired of playing this game.  On the plane ride back from Minneapolis, I started channeling these sentiments into a song for the next album.