Thanks for being in my life and on my mind. I probably miss you and hope that you are well, and if we haven’t met yet, I still wish you good health and clarity; when you are well you are a sun, so treat yourself nicely please.. Get a massage // Pet a goat // s t r e t c h.
Here is part II of my essay. Hope you enjoy~~!
The Performer: Part II
Why do I play shows, dammit?
There are two key moments I want you to remember from my previous essay (Part I):
- I feel a gloomy sense of “why” before every show. Why do I do this. I carry an unmistakable heavy heart.
- My first show was on my birthday last year and was a beautiful disaster.
My first show — i was human back then: I was nervous as all Hades, alone without a band, in front of many eyeballs, just me and my sounds. Here are some things that happened during the show:
- My guitar wasn’t tuned because of a really crazy story involving faulty electronics and a white lie. Had to stop my first song: “sorry guys, my guitar is lying to you”.
- I stopped another song twice (two times) and never finished it, due to an unexpected EQing issue.
- I experienced the ever disorienting “not being able to hear myself” scenario due to a lack of monitors, which means I was mostly scream singing.
- My sampler’s volume was incredibly low because of electronic issues. This left my phat beats at hibernation mode, instead of the desired ferocious bear stage. Not ideal for head bobbing.
There’s a huge difference in how a seasoned performer and a novice performer deals with live blunders: the difference is that a novice lets it show. A single human on stage, amplified, can ideally become the focal point of a space. More than that, he/she becomes the energy source, the gravitational pull, the celestial light bulb, the 7 pound gum on the shoe. So naturally, when a performer looks uncomfortable on stage, we feel uncomfortable for them ! “Oh no” drops the heart as it hurriedly sends compassionate heat waves across our chests. You know the feeling when you watch someone feel public shame: almost immediately our eyebrows gather in solidarity, mirroring the outline of an old, dead oak. We, as an audience, look for cues from our performers; cues on how we should feel. We want to be lead into the feeling: ‘hey. Psst. is there joy here in your wall of sound? Is your musical nostalgia a self-pitying affair or is there beauty in the small sadnessess? Should I be thinking about my mother in angst or is it even her fault?’ A good performer can give us answers to questions that have been phrased and rephrased in our minds for decades. Or maybe they just give us permission to finally let go. I have been learning about this new role of mine, as a ~performer~, in the traditional way: the hard one.
My first show was the best show I’ve ever played. It allowed me to experience every emotion possible on stage, including: sadness, fear, anger, disappointment, utter relief, joy and finally, it allowed me to be me. I became comfortable accepting my mistakes. My very public mistakes. Here’s a moment for you: want to know the true character of a person? Give them a microphone and an audience, then create an unexpected problem (e.g. turn off the mic for a few seconds). Watch closely and listen in, because they will do either one of two things: they will either diffuse the situation by taking responsibility, or they will blame someone else (often the sound person). The illusion of losing power or control in a public space: that’s how you know who you’re dealing with. This learning moment has happened to me many times over the past year, and boy does that come in handy. I think i’m growing, you guys.
As a performer, I keep saying this in my head: don’t be a selfish leader. Don’t look into the lake and fall in. Don’t buy into your own marketing, that’s rule #5 in human. Be a person that makes people feel good because we’re in this together, not because we gathered here today to witness the miracle of you. Why the hell do I play shows? Because people ask me to. They see merit in my audible cave paintings. They see my scratches on the walls and they bob their heads to them and think about life. I cannot express how honored I am that people want me to play in front of their heads and hearts. In this way I am encouraged to be myself and to share some ideas that I think are interesting. How could I say no to that?
I still carry a heavy heart to each show; and that spotlight, that damn spotlight keeps trying to separate me from my tribe~! But I know better, and I know better than to let a feeling rule me. We have a choice up there on the physical stage as we do in our own personal theater of the mind: we can let our hearts get torn in the blender each night, with each dark passing judgement (the judgement of strangers, peers, or family), or we can let go of the outside noise and try and make peace from within. Working on this one is humbling and very non-linear, with ups and downs and many diagonals; However, if I was given the task of condensing my advice to a charming yet reductive bumper sticker, I would design a rectangle with these two simple words: give fearlessly.
— End of Part II —
Stay tuned for Part III
It’s May, and I’m artist of the month on the Deli Mag site. That’s really nice but more importantly, I got the chance to express some thoughts on china, materialism, various social issues, and cesaria evora.
My interview went exactly like this:
I wrote an essay about my recent experience performing. Hope it’s fun for you, enjoy:
Why do I play shows?
“The cliché of what a rock star is – there’s something elitist about it. I never related to that. I’m an entertainer. I think of it as, you’re performing for people. It’s not a self-glorification thing.” – Beck
So, wait: do you believe him? Maybe you’re at that point in your cortical growth where you’re doubting the smooth talkers; figure heads have been letting us down for ages, and preachers lie all the time. Ever met an idol of yours? I’d avoid it. I’d also avoid the word idol, when possible. We’re surrounded by marketers and makeup, but I always try to remember what musician, author, and drag queen Rupaul said: we’re all born naked and all the rest is drag. And all the rest is drag.
Let that ring. C00L.
So what should we believe? It’d be nice to believe Beck, but if you’re finding this hard to accomplish, try trading belief for the next best thing: acceptance. Accepting, in this case, means listening to Beck’s words, letting them drape our brain like a red velvet scarf (ah yes performing “FOR the people”, not just for the “ego”). I’ve become more tolerant to the idea of ‘not practicing what we preach’. I’ve traded my stubbornness for acceptance.
So what? We’re trying, that’s all we could ever do. It’s much better to preach something nice and not to practice it, than many alternative scenarios, like preaching something negative while also practicing it. Like over-glorifying materialism as a means to lasting happiness, or sean hannity’s face. Not even going to capitalize his name. If you find that offensive please stop reading these words, go outside, grab a human body and beg them for a hug. You deserve one, friend.
I accept what Beck is saying even if it’s not true, and I accept it because I want to believe it is true. It seems like the healthiest way to think about performance. I’m tempted to state that the word ‘healthy’ does not belong in the same sentence as the word ‘performance.’ Honestly, the mere desire to perform is quite disturbing. Before I inspire eyebrow raises and severe finger pointing, I’d like to make a clear distinction between “acting” performances and “music” performances. Acting, in most cases, involves becoming something other than yourself. Relinquishing all responsibility of one’s actions, allowing a strange freedom to be someone bad, good, funny, despicable, all the while completely escaping the reality of one’s own heart. It could be read as submissive behavior: submitting to the character, the writer, the director, the camera, the eyeballs in the room. It could also be read as powerful: a good liar is always powerful to some degree. In a way, actors are benign con artists: there’s an unmistakable charm to them, a spark (not to be confused by real life), an emptiness. // There is always an emptiness when avoiding the truth. I have here for you a related and distracting gum theory: I am convinced that 75% of gum chewing is an attempt at avoiding some sort of wicked truth. In other words, an attempt at quieting down a reality, curbing a sugar fix, avoiding a brush or even dinner altogether. Gum is heavy, despite its apparent casualness. Gum is emptiness. I mean, what the hell is gum? We’re not meant to swallow it, is it even food stuffs? Oh and also lying never works. Chewy.
Ok ok new-age gum analysis aside, one point cannot be ignored: it is strange to want to be a con artist. It is strange to want to escape yourself, in a room full of watchful, judgeful* eyes. It is just plain strange. Seeking approval? Partially. Seeking love? always. Seeking art? Definitely. Finding love? Evidently and unfortunately, no. A need that cannot be met smells a little like still water in a cup inside of an abandoned karaoke bar: sick and alone.
Music performances: unlike acting, we associate music performances with a vulnerability that comes directly from an honest source. Raw spots. You. And like any language, music is an expressed desire to relate to others. To make friends, to talk to gods, to let out a shout, to share the feels. Unlike Estonian, everybody speaks music ! We feel in our hearts and on our skin the intention of a piece of beautiful music. A good musical performance is well thought out, well executed, confident, cohesive. A great musical performance is when the musician lets you in on the moment of creation. The moment of art. Stay with me: it is undeniable, it is them. There’s no acting, there’s certainly no escaping now, and sometimes it’s almost painful to watch, like at your wedding, when your best friend tells you they’ve never seen you this happy. “He can see that??” you think to yourself; of course he can see that. Of course we can tell. I like this idea for musical performances, the honesty, the raw onions. Crunchy.
I am new to this performance thing. I’m still making sense of it all, the how, the who and the haunting and eye rolling why. Why? Why am I doing this.
I ask myself this question every time I have a show. In fact, the day before a show I plunge into this mindset jam-packed with one heavy heart and a couple of audible sighs. Why do I do this?
I wasn’t born to act. I never experienced a day dream in which i became someone else on a mood-lit stage, in front of humans. When it came to public speaking (or any scenario that consisted of the amplification of my voice in front of people), I wanted one of two scenarios: a funny joke to break tension, or some useful insight — simply put, I wanted to be me. This deduction of wanting to be me took longer than one can imagine, but here we are, there, further along the self reflection river. So why do I play shows?
I started playing my own music, by myself, this past summer. That’s 9 months ago // I’m a new mom. I’m watching my baby learn how to open her eyes. I know she recognizes me because every time I pick her up she makes the same sounds// In fact I played my first show on my birthday, July 24 2014. It was a coincidence by all accounts, and a healthy one at that: a slice of sympathy birthday quiche was served, enough to feed every one. The rather intimate audience of roughly 25 people included some old and new friends. It was lovely, in theory. However, and we all know this to be true, beginnings are always quite rough. If I had the tools to use statistics and cross reference facts, I would conclude that this show that I played on my birthday, my very first show of original songs – friends and smiles aplenty – was, in reality, an utter analog and digital disaster.
–End of part one–
*Not a word; but words are made by people. Step one.
This was nice. This. ahem. media,etc.
Playing shows. I have words about it, I have thoughts. I’m performing, which….. why? why am I doing this? The short answer is people are asking, and I want to be there for them. If anybody is enjoying my music, I am grateful. I’m writing a 3 part essay about this topic, I’m told it’s compelling. I want to be there for you.
Lots of shows in April and May, please come if you want to hear music and feel nice. They’re here.
Hope you’re having a beautiful day. Tell someone you love them
Early October, @ Little Berlin, Philadelphia.
I started the show as a wave but quickly, evidently, I turned into a particle among an impressive line of similarly minded particles; Party Particles we called ourselves. Had a blast with my light homies as well as with the other bands, Supermagical and Ne-Hi. Thanks, light !
Now I’m working on a music video for my song If You Want to Fight. Editing should be done within 2 weeks, and along side the video i’ll make the song available for free download because sharing.
Share stuff forever. Be assured that if you share, things will come back to you. Strange things with thoughts and feelings and couches. yeahh