Showing posts with label Dahlia Seed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dahlia Seed. Show all posts

May 16, 2016

Dahlia Seed's ‘Survived By’ Turns 20

Our second release.
Dahlia Seed was a five piece American indie rock/post-hardcore band that existed from 1992 until 1996. I was the singer, the second guitar player in our earliest incarnation, and one of the songwriters. May 17th, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of our album Survived By . There are no delusions of grandeur here. I don't think anyone is waiting for this history to be delivered. This is a personal landmark I wanted to scrapbook because I am relatively certain it would not happen otherwise. 

I am just one person so this is just my portion of the Dahlia Seed story.

The album was recorded in just 3 days at Studio Red in Philadelphia, PA. We picked this studio because it was affordable, relatively close by, and bands we loved like Helium, Lilys, Versus, and Madder Rose had also recorded there. We recorded very late into the evening and then slept on the studio floor for a few hours each morning. Exhausted and in various stages of hungover or drunk, we recorded and rough mixed 12 songs in a matter of days. This is why my voice sounds so blown out and raw for every song. I had no idea how important rest, hydration, or vocal warm ups were back them. At least there were cheesesteaks

This was the summer of 1995, nearly a year before the recording was actually released.
The songs found on Survived By came together under admittedly ridiculous circumstances that were 100% by my own doing. In1993 I decided my life was in desperate need of change and reflection. I cut off my hair, broke up with my first serious boyfriend, and left New Jersey for Seattle where I basically knew no one. My family, my whole world, was entirely based around the tri-state area so when I was offered a job at C/Z Records, I jumped at the opportunity to start anew. I wanted a life do over but I also wanted to continue playing music with Dahlia Seed. Amazingly the band agreed to a bi-coastal existence. 
Rex seated behind me at our one and only show in Seattle.

I wrote and then recorded guitar parts on my answering machine using a guitar pick jammed into the record button to keep it going past the usual "Leave a message at the beep" timeframe. I mailed these barely discernable cassettes back east and then the rest of the band morphed my lo-fi musings into finished songs. Sometimes they kept my songs nearly as is but most often they restructured the material so it better fit their playing style. They would record their practices and then send music back to me on cassettes; my reworked songs in addition to their new songs. The final step brought me back to my answering machine. I would write vocals to these live practice tapes by singing along to them while playing through my apartment stereo. If it sounds ludicrous and like a painfully drawn out process, it was. We never recorded demos using a 4 track so this disjointed muddy back and forth was how much of Survived By was written. I will forever have a soft spot for care packages delivered via the U.S. Postal Service because it was how I stayed connected to the most important people in my life during all of the '90s and it usually meant new music awaited my ears. 

Greg joins us in Seattle, green shirt.

As a relatively new guitar player I had two key influences who lived in Seattle that showed me things like guitar tunings and new to me chords. Greg Anderson was my boyfriend and a member of Engine Kid . I have him to thank for introducing me to D tuning - amazingly appropriate as he is the king of low end doom currently in  Sunn O))) . I saw Engine Kid perform regularly, toured with them as a roadie for a bit, and then in 1995 our bands played a small number of shows together on the east coast. Rex Ritter from Jessamine was another key inspiration. He patiently played guitar along with me (we also recording an unreleased single at Dub Narcotic ), teaching me the art of not over-playing. From Rex I learned that space can be as powerful as filling a song with notes. It took me nearly 3 months of couchsurfing in Seattle before I settled into a permanent home. My small circle of friends who offered up their homes to me also included the band Silkworm . I saw them play live as often as possible and it was always an incredible gift. They fit together immaculately. Their performances were a captivating dialog unfolding between the members. I remain inspired by all of these musicians/friends to this day. Among this entire group of people, every one of our homes had musical instruments in it and they were always in reach. Music was everywhere for me in Seattle from 1993 to 1996.

Tim from Silkworm and I with Joel in the back.

Consistent bi-coastal travel would not have been possible if it were not for my father who had accrued a massive amount of frequent flyer miles over the span of his career. I traveled back to the East Coast to practice our new songs and play shows remarkably often. I maintained this back and forth for several years but after the death of my brother Peter and the growing activity of our band, I moved back to New Jersey. I bounced from couch to couch: Ira & Georgia 's from Yo La Tengo as their cat sitter while they toured overseas , Lyle from Das Damen 's, Pier Platter s' record store owner Bill who was touring with Sonic Youth / Stereolab/ Blonde Redhead , Dahlia Seed members parent's house, and Katie's from Spin Art . I even lived at a hotel for a few days just outside the Holland Tunnel (low point) all the while working at Pier Platters in Hoboken part time and playing with Dahlia Seed the rest of the time. It was exciting to return back home with so much happening for our band but it was also a stressful time in my life. I felt lost. I hated being homeless. I was in a volatile relationship. I had no future mapped out that included anything but music. My mild panic anxiety grew into wild anxiety. I began cutting myself, not just on stage with my fingernails, but privately as well. I felt like all control in my life had vanished and pulling at my arms until they bled was my way of making sure I was still human while distracting myself from what felt like walls closing in. Our band's posthumous collection entitled "Please Excuse All the Blood" was a black humor nod to my self inflicted injuries and an ode to Dead from Mayhem's suicide note. Don't worry, I knew I wasn't okay and therapy was eventually sought.

Dahlia Seed meets Garden Variety and friends in Los Angeles 1996.

Dahlia Seed went through a series of members but at the core were Chris Skelly (guitar), Darin Galgano (drums), and Brian Getkin (bass). They all had grown up together in the New York hardcore / thrash scene. I had initially seen a classified ad for a band in 1990 (Danny Derella from Underdog's project) who was looking for a female singer and also happened to be friends with Chris. When I showed up to try out for my first band ever, there was an intervention of sorts. Chris who happened to be there that evening talked me out of playing with them. He told me he was putting together his own band and that I should join them instead. We became fast friends and after a few false starts, Dahlia Seed (named after a girl named Dahlia who talked about splitting herself opening and seeds coming out) was a fully formed band by 1992. The role of our second guitar changed quite a few times during our short existence. I was the first however I can't sing and play guitar to save my life. Jon Procopio of Dunebuggy (now Unbutton) replaced me and he was then followed by Mike O'Keefe. We landed on Kevin McManus for our final year together. 

L to R Darin, Brian, me, Mike, Chris

Musically our band had a large spectrum of influences. We were an entire band of passionate music fans and we loved a lot of different kinds of music. Our long van rides were a mix of every possible genre. As songwriters we started as a more melodic indie pop songs but as the years passed, we developed a much heavier sound and lost a chunk of our earliest fans along this journey because of it (also blowing out chances at a record deal with Mammoth Records). We all loved the angsty guitar bands coming out of San Diego (all things Rick Froberg related), New York's Chavez, but we also worshipped the Dischord Records catalog as well as metal, hardcore, shoegaze, and jangle pop. I was especially keen on bands from Chapel Hill (Archers, Superchunk, Polvo, Small) and much of what was coming out of the Northwest from Seaweed, Sunny Day, to the Treepeople,  Lync and Unwound. I have never been a strong guitar player (writing songs, yes, executing them on guitar gracefully, not so much) so as much as I would love to say I was copying any of these bands, I simply couldn't. Whatever we sounded like was a happy accident as we mailed tapes back and forth and tried to make sense of the lo-fi recordings made in our living rooms and practice spaces. As our style developed, we alienated ourselves at the same time. We grew too heavy to be considered an indie-pop band (like Velocity Girl or Tsunami) but we were too melodic to be embraced by the hardcore fans who were moving towards something closer to metal and farther from what bands like Quicksand were also exploring. Just a few years later melodic, heavy music grew into a beloved genre but by that point Dahlia Seed was over. Our band never really found a niche for ourselves so instead earning herds of fans the way bands like At The Drive-In did, we became a cult favorite to a dedicated few. The saving grace to our lack of fitting in anywhere was playing often with regional bands like Garden Variety and Weston who became like second extended members of our family. I am still so grateful for those friendships and bonds. 

I have written regularly in notebooks since grade school so I have amassed a large amount of material to shape into song lyrics (maybe 30 books total to this day). The lyrics to all of the songs on Survived By were deeply personal. They reflect a chemically imbalanced person living far from home trying to make sense of an adult world filled with loss, unhealthy relationships, abuse, misdirection, and depression. I had no idea how to cope with any of it yet. I think the song "Jet Spin" sums it up best for me. It was an amusement park ride a few blocks from my apartment in Seattle at the base of the Space Needle. Emotionally I felt like I was stuck on that ride every day so to take ownership of my manic swings, I turned it into a song. The lyrics to "Jet Spin" were also inspired by a Robert Frank photo ("sick of goodbyes") who grieving after the death of his daughter, went on a similar healing journey.  "LET ME OFF NOW PLEASE!"

I grew up obsessed with singing (mostly to the Annie soundtrack and Beatles records) but when it came time to try to sing in a band post high school, I had no idea how do actually do it. I sang along to records I loved for practice ( Babes in Toyland, Soulside, Jawbox, Lunachicks, The Fluid, and Mudhoney ) but Bjork was and still is the one vocalist I am most in awe of. I love having her voice as a reminder of what is possible. I still can't believe the emotion she communicates through her attack, breaths, and melody choices. It was from dissecting the songs found in my record collection that I pieced together how a song is structured and applied these ideas to the songs we were writing. I had no background in music theory. I never took lessons. I still have no idea how to write a single note of music but from listening carefully to bands that interested me, I formed my own interpretation of how I wanted to express myself in song form. Trial and error over many years turned helped me eventually develop my own style. 

Troubleman Unlimited released Survived By in May 17th, 1996. That summer we hit the road to complete our first, last, and only full U.S. tour. It went as well as you might imagine when a relatively unknown band books the shows though friends of friends and print ads in a few underground fanzines.  Anyone in a small, struggling band will tell you the same thing. Your patience will be tested to biblical proportions. No one  or nothing could possibly prepare you for the rollercoaster ride that is touring. There is intense sleep deprivation. Money is usually lost, not made. Without an income and long hours on the road, your meals are often whatever you find in racks at a gas station. Down time is filled with things that aren't healthy for you (drugs, drinking, late nights with people you wouldn't normally spend time with, and junk food). Your tour van AKA your mobile home is filthy, cramped, and breaks down often. Showering becomes a distant memory. The people who were kind enough to offer you their floor to sleep on often had homes so dirty you were scared to put your sleeping bag down anywhere. For me and the lack of a proper PA on most nights took a toll on my body. 

My throat began to bleed from yelling night after night to be heard. We had to cancel a series of shows just to allow my voice time to recover only for me to destroy it again the next performance. It was an ugly cycle. My instrument was no longer operational and it caused a huge strain on everyone.  

Lastly close quarters for months at a time can make the closest of friends want to kill each other and  Dahlia Seed did not survive long after this tour. In fairness the tour also had some incredible high points but for every high point: splashing in the Pacific Ocean with some of the Ebullition crew, exploring all corners of America, meeting peers only previously read about in zines or listened to on record, and the private world that is created among members all placed in the tour bubble, BUT there were just as many lows: being paid in spoiled oranges after the opening band played for two hours and didn't leave any time for anyone else to play, grueling Texas heat that softened the tires on the van, absurdly long drives between shows that no band should ever safely attempt, showing up to play only to discover the kid who booked your show a few months earlier totally spaced. Up. Down. Up. Down. If you ever want to know what it feels like to be a manic person, I highly suggest a few months on the road as a barely known band. 

We played our final show at Maxwell's in Hoboken, N.J. on August 15th,1996. We have not played together as Dahlia Seed or performed any of those songs together ever since. Survived By is long out of print in physical format but it lives on via this Bandcamp page. 

The sold out crowd at our final show at Maxwell's, so many of whom I still call friends.

I don't think when I joined Dahlia Seed I could have guessed what playing in a serious band would bring me. I eventually found self confidence (or at least accepting not everyone will love you and you better get used to it). I found my voice and learned the value of collaboration / surrender of ego. I had the opportunity to create art that I believed in that also reflected our moral compass. The unfortunate flip to this was the more I stood up for myself and my values, the more I was called difficult, a bitch, a diva, and so many worse things. I was frowned upon for not being a riot grrrl by many of my female peers but also not taken seriously by many of my male peers because of the ridiculous attitude that women didn't belong in hardcore. The reality was that because I was a woman in a very claustrophobic male-centric scene, I was considered less capable and less talented than my male counterparts. When you feel chronically disrespected, sexualized when when men doing the same exact things were not, endlessly on the defense, hungry for respect, and paranoid because you are waiting for the next bad thing to happen to you or the band, you eventually crack. I cracked. 

Maybe surprisingly, I still have no regrets. None. 

Omar from At The Drive In with a Survived By inspired tattoo.
The band was my transition from child to adult. It taught me that failure is how we grow. I met and played alongside so many inspiring people who remain friends of mine to this day. Dahlia Seed continues to open doors for me which almost seems impossible two decades later. Most of all I feel very fortunate to have band members who treated me as an equal creative partner. We worked so easily together when it came to writing music that every practice was equal parts laughter to music. As harsh as outsiders could be about our music, my band members protected me like a family, better than my own family. This kind of support enabled me to to create art in a comfortable environment with others and is the foundation for all the music I have ever made since. There is no personal or artistic growth without a safe, respectful, and loving environment to experiment in, I was fortunate to have that when I really needed it the most. Without Dahlia Seed, there would be no me in 2016. When I celebrate Survived By 20 years later, I am also celebrating the bridge that connects the past to my proud present tense.  

April 14, 2014

4. You Are Not Alone : Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast

Part 1.

If I am going to write honestly and openly about my lifelong passion for underground music, I have a series of life changing traumas I should share. I have rarely spoken of these events to my closest of friends and I have never written them down for anyone to read. The truth of my early life is even largely unknown to my extended family, so I am certain this very personal post will be a shocking one for many.

My desire to withdraw from the mainstream and make music my permanent alternate universe happened when my body was violated and abused by men I trusted.

I was molested by my father multiple times before the age of 11. It is impossible to express what this level of betrayal feels like when it came from a person who was supposed to define trust and offer me boundless protection. A child’s safe place should be their home and in their parent’s care but I lived in dread of mine. By the time I had the courage to finally tell my mother about it, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I couldn't bring myself to add to her grief so I opted to keep this terrible secret to myself. Being a victim of molestation by my father has remained my painful secret for over 30 years.

The world around me collapsed as a preteen and in turn music became my primary escape. Mainstream Pop music however suddenly sounded insincere and felt meaningless. The top 40 radio I was raised on represented a poisoned youth for me so I was quickly driven to find something new and different. I was dedicated to finding music that sounded as raw and emotional as I felt: tortured, angry, sad, wounded, weird, and dramatic. I was and wanted to hear all of these things. When you are trapped in a threatening environment, music can have miraculous powers to transform you elsewhere. I quickly became obsessed with finding music that fulfilled this need and I found that solace with Modern Rock.

By the end of grade school (8th grade) I wanted to spend as little time at home in the same space with my father so I worked a part time job from the moment I legally could. It was there I was sexually assaulted multiple times by a male co-worker who was just a few years older than me. As many victims of abuse will tell you there is a fear that somehow you must have deserved it and although this was the farthest thing from the truth, it prevented me from telling others about it. And just like that, another place I once considered safe, was suddenly a threat to my body. The fear of judgment by others and my attacker's revenge outweighed my courage to seek help.  

The following year I briefly had a boyfriend who was a senior at my high school. After just a few weeks of going out, he date raped me on Valentine’s Day. Then after dropping me off at home that same evening, he never spoke to me again. School, the one place a kid with no place has to call their own became just another place where a man had taken advantage of me in the most unforgivable way possible. The burden of carrying yet another terrible secret ate away at my insides. By the end of my freshmen year in high school I was suffering from ulcer like symptoms. I also suffered from severe panic and anxiety for the next two decades and it continues to be a lingering issue for me today. As a young teen I lived with depression, shame, and bitter frustration because every environment I was stuck in left me feeling utterly powerless and abused.

At this dismal point in my life, truly the only thing I had as a 15 year girl old in crisis mode was my faith music. These newly discovered non-mainstream musicians sounded and looked far outside the safety zone of the average Pop star but it was the most average people in the world that had taken advantage of me. "Normal" was officially dead to me.  I could have let my anger and hate win or I could have gone into survival mode and found peace. I chose the latter. Music helped me transcend my body and most importantly it made me feel less alone during a time when I didn't know of other people like me. Before the internet as a kid who was dependent on parents or school buses to take them places, my options for real freedom in suburban N.J. were limited. I built a comfort bubble by avidly collecting music that separated me from everyone else I knew. It makes sense. When you feel different, like an outcast, you naturally seek out things that personify this. The few things I did have control over like clothes, books, film,art, and music is exactly how I chose to redefine myself.

Today I live in the present. I cannot change what has already taken place. All I can do is work on healing myself and continue to grow. These experiences have made me more sensitive, compassionate, expanded my emotional pallet, and most importantly, helped me find forgiveness where I never thought I could. I know exactly how strong I am. I can endure the worst of times and survive. It is painfully unfortunate that these traumatic events have happened to me but it is reassuring to know I made it through. I have worked very hard to come this far and I am proud that these poisonous  people didn't ruin all of humanity for me. I can honestly say I feel lucky to be the person I am today and have so many tremendous people in my life who have helped me reach this point. I am filled with love, joy, and hope. I want anyone who has been through something this awful to know it is possible to recover. There is no exact healing timeline or steps since each person and experience is unique but it is possible. The first step is knowing you are not to blame. The second step is offering yourself unconditional love and patience as you begin your path towards healing. If the numbers are correct, about one third of the American female population has been sexually abused, so as lonely as the feeling can be, you are far from alone.

People who have not been a victim of molestation or sexual assault often have a hard time understanding how a person could not seek immediate help after something like it takes place. The reality is that young people, especially children, can’t be expected to know how to handle something this traumatic. Mentally and emotionally it is an especially complex thing to digest when you are attacked by someone you know. These brutal experiences can cloud the mind. Terror and shame creep in and suddenly common sense and logic have been replaced. It can be difficult to know how to talk to strangers openly about something like this and it can be even harder to try and tell friends about it when there is a good chance they know the person who you are naming as your attacker. This is why so many girls and woman remain silent.

If there is one thing I would like to ask of others if they hear stories like this from loved ones, it is not to judge the person who has survived this devastating experience. It is never appropriate to tell someone they should have done something differently before or after they were abused. Listen and be supportive. Don’t confuse the victim for the catalyst of the crime.

Part 2.

I have gone through many channels of therapy as an adult but the best tool for healing turned out to be singing in a band. I joined Dahlia Seed in my early twenties and it was then I was finally able to explore my emotions and no longer suppress them. For the first time in my life I was able to share my insides publicly. There was nothing more empowering than this. I could scream and vent in ways I never dared to before.

During my early 20’s I also tore my skin by scratching it severely; often performing shows with my arms pouring blood. I was cutting  (I only learned later in life that this compulsion had a name) , a subconscious effort to expel my demons and take control of my body when other’s had robbed me of that privilege . On a more dramatic level, seeing my skin bleed reminded me that I was human when internally I felt anything but for so many years. What few people understand is that this ugly period of self exploration helped me regain my self esteem and strength. To be even more specific, I finally owned myself again. From the outside we were just a band with an intense singer but it was a thousand times more important to me than that. If you listen to these old Dahlia Seed records, you can hear it not just in my words, but in every note I sang.  (The final DS release entitled Please Excuse All the Blood maybe makes more sense now) I thankfully grew out of my bloodletting practices but singing remains a very important, positive emotional outlet for me. This remains true as a member Positive No today.

One of my least favorite questions about my singing style to this day is “Why do you sound so angry?” The truth is I have spent my entire adult life recovering from a stolen childhood and taking my body back. My voice tells that story; a resilient woman with a wounded child at her core. I am not angry. This is me breaking the silence.

For more information and for those seeking help:

To Start at the beginning of my Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast, go here

January 10, 2014

Positive No Mini Tour (RVA/Philly/NYC/DC)

I can't decide what all I am most excited about.

I am touring with a band for the first time since 1996. Playing in a band again that I love and can't wait to tour with. Playing with so many spectacular bands in the span of 4 days or that all of the shows take place on before 10 PM. You are welcome working world that has to get up early the next day! Seeing old friends. Making new friends. See you in February!

The link to our tour invite page is here.

Thursday - 2/13 - Strange Matter - Richmond, VA w/ Hunters & Bleeding Rainbow EARLY SHOW 6PM !

Friday - 2/14 - Safety Meeting - Philadelphia, PA w/No Other, Amanda X, & True Gold EARLY SHOW 8PM !

Saturday - 2/15 - Grand Victory - Brooklyn, NY w/Ancient Sky EARLY SHOW 8PM !

Sunday 2/16 - Galaxy Hut - Arlington, VA w/Mittenfields 

Here is a look at us live only hopefully for these shows I won't have a sprained toe, ankle, and knee as I did for this one. 

May 10, 2013

Positive No : Powers of Ten : New Song Alert!

You can read more about the song here.

"Powers of Ten" will be a part of a 5 song EP we are in the middle of recording with J Robbins at his studio Magpie Cage. This 12" record / digital long player will be available through my record label Little Black Cloud later this summer.

May 4, 2012

Playing with Harry Partch

Not the man, but his one of a kind instruments! This website is brilliant; not only does it display all of his various creations in one place BUT you can play them all via your computer. You can see and hear first hand what this "philosophic music-man seduced into carpentry" has crafted and explore the microtonal scale system he was so obsessed with. I have played around with 5 of 6 of them so far and I swear to you, the unique tones you create with just a stroke of a key will make you feel like a member of Boards of Canada or an avant-Asian orchestra. I am obsessed with this wonderful site and am so please I stumbled across this last night when looking up crychord, an instrument he made and I named a Dahlia Seed song after (my old band).

If you aren't familiar with this American composer, inventor of instruments, theorist, ex hobo, and visionary, check out this BBC documentary. (And I salute the BBC for having the best documentaries on every possible subject. I swear I watch a different one a day!) 

May 2, 2012

Powers of Ten

My new band has posted a new song tonight! The band is called Positive No and the song is called "Powers of Ten". You can listen to it here. Positive No is my better half Kenny on guitar, me singing, and on these first three demos a fella from L.A. named Jody on drums. Kenny and I do all the songwriting together.

We used these first three demos to find local Richmonders to play with and we almost have our line up secured. Our new local drummer is Willis Thompson who plays in / has played in a ton of bands but I guess the best known of these is Tao with the Get Down Stay Down (Kill Rock Stars). More news on our bass player soon!

Lyrically "Powers of Ten" is an ode to some thinkers, philosophers, and artists I admire : Carl Sagan, Alan Watts, Charles and Ray Eames.

April 16, 2012

Thank You

Here is a recap I did about the Dunebuggy record release party (album streets tomorrow!) on my record label site.  To the left is a picture Keith, myself, and Jon  from Dunebuggy. As I said in my other blog post, I think this is the first time we have all been together since the mid '90s. The location of the party was also significant, a bar in NYC called Hi-Fi that was once called Brownies. Brownies was considered THE venue for small bands to play in New York at the time so it seemed only appropriate to celebrate the long over due release of this music at a place that supported us all back in the day.

Below is a picture of Rizzo, me, and Roman from Garden Variety with Keith Werwa of Number 2 fanzine fame hiding in the back.  If you know our band history you will know that basically Garden Variety and Dahlia Seed were BFFs back in the '90s and both of our bands also happened to break up around the same time. This was the first time we have all been in the same room together since maybe the late '90s and my heart practically exploded with joy to have us all together again.

March 7, 2012

Dunebuggy Record Release Party : NYC

Hello friends! 
    If you find yourself in NYC on Friday, April 13th please drop by our free Dunebuggy record release party to say hello. In case you forgot, I run a small record label called Little Black Cloud Records and our next release is coming out in April. 
Dunebuggy's LP comes out via Little Black Cloud Records on 4/17 and you are cordially invited to their listening party that is taking place 4 days sooner than their official street date. You will not only b e among the first people on the planet to hear all of these these songs ,you will also have the opportunity to buy their record, hob nob with the band, and hear a DJ set including some of our favorite '90s indie bands. 

Come celebrate the long awaited release (like 17 years!) from Dunebuggy, a posthumous collection in LP form that marks the first time many of these songs have ever been heard. Those that have been previously released feature alternate recordings or mixes and all tracks have been freshly re-mastered. Not only will we be playing the record for all to hear for the first time, but we will also have it available for purchase for $20. For those who buy this record at the event they will also be given an extra special bonus prize. The records are limited to just 100 copies and come on white vinyl so needless to say they are VERY LIMITED. Attending this party will give you the best chances of actually getting your hands on a copy. Founding Dunebuggy members Jon-Michael Procopio and Keith Renna will be in attendance too, making this the next best thing to a reunion show. 

If the release of their incredible music isn't enough, the party will be held at our favorite East Village bar Hi-Fi (AKA THE Hi-Fi BAR) which to many of us old timers might be better known as the location of NYC's seminal indie rock venue Brownies (RIP). Who could ask for a better, more appropriate location for this record release. 

And the icing on the cake? DJ's Lightning's Girls (Little Black Cloud Records owner) and KJC (the label's art director) will also be Djing their most beloved '90s indie Pop records (vinyl!) in the vein of The Lemonheads, Blake Babies, Helium, Beat Happening, Built To Spill, Pavement, ETC.

We would love to turn this fantastical record release party for Dunebuggy into a reunion of sorts for those of you who grew up in the NJ/NY/CT indie Rock / Pop scene in the '90s who probably also grew up going to shows (and playing shows at Brownies).

band link 
hi-hi link
label link  
youtube link 

February 10, 2012

Pleasure in Pain : The Return to Making Music

Remember that time I was struck by a car while crossing the street?

That was nearly six months ago and my journey (polite code for hell and back) to return to my old self has been a long and arduous one. I don't care about the scars I have on my body or that I spent months learning to walk again without the support of a cane. I have gotten used to my utter fear of walking outside and I remind myself often that it is a miracle I can walk at all so feeling safe when I cross streets or parking lots doesn't take priority. So what if living a few doors down from the accident site has made living the apartment I have lived in for a decade unbearable. These are all things I am still trying to make peace with but what has been the toughest part of these months has been a terrifying experience that I haven't discussed openly until now.

A brain injury was something I initially thought I had escaped.  Because I never hit my head during the accident, I never spoke to doctors about the possibility of a serious concussion. In the hours and first few days after something as traumatic as your body being stuck by a car, you feel a strange combination of being out of your body (because it is so incredibly surreal to have something like this happen) and very much trapped in your body because every little movement that used to be easy is so longer possible and your body feels like a burden. Adrenalin takes over your very being for the first day (fight or flight feeling times a million). You are put on all sorts of pain drugs (not to mention the weirdness of tubes and drips stuck in your body). And the final strangeness? Being in a hospital at all. I found it nearly impossible to rest there as it is a scary, strange environment where people were coming and going from my room at all hours. It isn't until you return to the normalcy of your home, the comfort and safety of your own bed, that you can begin to really assess what has happened to you and how you feel compared to the last time time you were home and your old unbroken self. 

It was lying in my own bed many days later that I realized how fuzzy my head felt. Without pain pills and in the peace of my bedroom it was my head that suddenly radiated the most pain. And so began my battle with a variety of symptoms relating to a brain injury that was later decided by experts in the field came from my head being rattled severely when my body was tossed on and off of the car. (much like the kind of injury football players suffer from). For 4 months I lived with torturous migraines, memory failures, and intense fogginess that made the general act of thinking straight a difficult task. It was during this time period that I was mysteriously and surprisingly let go from my full time job so to add to the nightmare of my recovery process, I was in constant chronic pain and suddenly unemployed. (and living without health insurance so my insane medical bills are just a footnote to this personal hell) I have to be honest here, while I revel in the fact that I am still alive and truly appreciate this gift, when I was stripped of the power to think straight and living with the debilitating side effects from a concussion like headaches every day, it felt like my life was over. 

With migraines comes a sensitivity to light and sound. For those of you who know me, sound is my life. Music isn't just a part of my life, it defines me. Imagine waking up one day and your head hurts so much that that even gentle soothing tones resonate inside you like pin pricks. The pain was often so severe that whatever I was hearing couldn't register with me properly at all. And what aspects of my life did this change affect? Everything. My work. (music industry = all day sounds) My weekly radio show (more music). My home life. (where my record collection of thousands of records live). My social life. (loud live bands, noisy crowds, and DJs felt like a grenade had gone off between my ears). My record label. (more music!). Alone time. (I hated being in my own body)

And the most frustrating? Me as a recording artist silenced. The freedom to express myself creatively in a way that I have dedicated my entire adult life to was erased on August 30th. I have been trying to rebuild this missing person in me ever since. I began making music in the early '90s and the thought of this part of me going away forever feels worse than being hit by a car. 

Even as recently as a month ago, recording and making music was not something I could do with ease. While the migraines and confusion associated with a major concussion are behind me (although I still battle headaches occasionally) I am still dealing with the inability to handle certain kinds of tones, sounds, and loud volumes. This makes the act of placing headphones on my head to record and work on music for extended period of times extremely difficult. This makes playing songs back to really listen to my pitch, attack, and timing often agony. There is also no denying that being extra sensitive to sounds not only changed how often I can work on music but the kind of music I can work on. Now that certain frequencies and tones literally pain me, I find myself working on music that reflects the tones that appeal to my head. Remarkably I have found ways around these endless hurdles but on some days it has been enough of a heartbreaking struggle that I have wanted to give up. What I have learned about myself since is that I am not quitter. I am determined to push through this and not let the negligence of reckless driver strip me of my passion in life. 

It took me a half a year to get back to this point but I am proud to have finished not one but two new songs; one under my solo moniker and one under Positive No, a home recording project I do with my boyfriend Kenny. (also the man behind the incredible love, care and support that helped me heal post accident). Writing and recording music has played an interesting and important role in my healing process. It helps test and use my memory while forcing me to sharpen my problem solving skills. Best of all it is a return to something that brings me deep satisfaction and joy. I have no idea if I will be able to handle playing live and loud again, no less if my memory will allow me to recall the lyrics to a whole set list of songs but the fear of this unknown won't stop me from at least trying. If the end result means I just record music at home in a controlled setting that is kind to my ears and head, so be it. 

The good news is 2012 is the year I became an artist again.

January 31, 2012

The Nolan Gate

Do you like Voivod? How about KARP laced with Failure, Slayer, Breadwinner, Prong, Don Cab, and Drive Like Jehu ?(Just to name a few things that come to mind when I listen to Nolan Gate.) If any of those bands mean anything to you, then please take the time to check out The Nolan Gate who hail from the NJ/ NYC area. They have a bandcamp page and their newest release costs only $2 to download.

My favorite two tracks are Alchemy and Grinding .

Full disclosure, the drummer from my old band Dahlia Seed is the drummer in The Nolan Gate (Darin Galgano) and I have played shows with / been on a split 7" with the members previous band Mothman but I would be singing their praises regardless of knowing them. I love Metal that you can't pin down with one easy tag and these guys appeal to me as a fan of heavy music that clearly comes from a variety of influences outside of the Metal realm.

January 9, 2012

Yo Yo A Go Go 1994

This past weekend I finally had a chance to check out the Karp documentary. (thumbs up)

This film got me thinking about the mid '90s and the time I spent living in Seattle / visiting Olympia, WA. I moved to the Northwest to find myself (gag) and discover what I was really made of when taken out of the comfort zone of where I grew up. I was originally from N.J. but when I was offered a job at C/Z Records in a shiny new city across the country, off I went. The extra absurd aspect of this move was that I remained in my East Coast band Dahlia Seed too. From 1994 to 1996 I was making trips back and forth between coasts to record and tour. It wasn't easy but this is how our band operated for years.

Dahlia Seed had not yet toured nationally but it was my friend Michelle Noel who was instrumental in getting us a slot on the epic Yo Yo A Go Go Festival that took place in Olympia, WA in 1994. This performance was going to be our introduction to the left coast. In short, this show was a BIG DEAL.

Check out the line up that year. (sorry, I know this poster is hard to read)

The plan was for the rest of the band to fly to Seattle and we would play Yo Yo together but it was foiled when circumstances led to the band not being able to afford the trip. So there we were with a once in a lifetime slot in an amazing fest but with only one member to play it, the singer, me.

While I play guitar and sing, I am truly terrible at doing both at the same time (and a below average guitar player to boot) so playing this massive show solo was not an option for me. Last minute, I begged a friend who worked a C/Z with me to learn a few of the Dahlia Seed songs I had written and together we would perform a few of them as a two piece, he on guitar and me just singing.

We practiced but nothing can really prepare you for the nerves that kick in when you play a massive show. Our day time slot was not nearly as packed as the nighttime shows but the venue holds up to 2500 people. So people or not, the theater is an intimidating and LARGE space. Dahlia Seed was a small DIY band that played to rooms with maybe, MAYBE a few hundred of people, so playing a show of this size was both exciting and terrifying for me. Not only because this was the biggest show I had ever played or the fact that I was so far from my home but because I was going to be performing without the comfort of my actual band. The bill says Dahlia Seed performed but this isn't 100% accurate. It was me and a tall drink of water who was willing to play guitar for me.

Michael (whom I met when he joined the C/Z Records family as an intern) was such an amazing sport to learn a few songs written by people he didn't know and then perform them at for what I suspect was also the biggest show he has ever played in his life. We spent a few weeks meeting in his living room practicing  unplugged the Dahlia Seed songs I knew how to play on guitar and trying to imagine how it all would sound in a giant space, electrified. We truthfully had no idea what we were in for. He was from Arizona, I was from New Jersey. We had zero context or experience to know what it was like to play the Capital Theater in Olympia.

In an effort to win over the crowd (suspecting that we needed a little extra to help to win people over) we picked up a box of cookies from the Olympia Brewery. Fun fact : Olympia Beer made and sold cookies. When we took the stage, we stood there for a minute in awe of it all (and me wearing a baseball jersey sent from Dahlia Seed guitar player Chris). Michael then as planned threw out cookies into the audience. Fun fact number 2 - Michael had such a great arm that he could wing cookies all the way back into the balcony. Fun Fact number 3 - bribing the audience with baked treats never hurts.

You would think I would have a perfect memory of the biggest show I have ever played but honestly, I don't. The experience was so big, so overwhelming, that it all gets a little hazy after we stepped into the middle of the stage. I didn't really have the experience as a musician to handle the pressure of that moment confidently. We didn't have a total melt down but it wasn't a flawless performance either. Mistake were made. We were clumsy but we made through the whole set and enjoyed ourselves immensely. I would like to believe there was some sort of charm to our performance (hooray for cookies!) but I can't begin to guess what it was like to listen to or watch from a stranger's perspective. The crowd was kind to us. They clapped, made us feel welcome, and it was almost as if they seemed nervous for us. As awkward as it all was, it was an absolutely positive experience that I still can't believe I was a part of. And even more amazingly, thank you person I don't know for actually having a photo and placing in on the internet of what still remains the biggest show I have ever played in my life. Maybe not played perfectly, but dang it, I still played it!

PS: We didn't make the cut on the music compilation of that year's fest but trust me, it was for the best.

June 13, 2011

Ringfinger Ponders Heidegger

I know, I know. It has been a while but the one positive thing I can say about my unemployment stint is that it has given me time to work on some new music AKA Ringfinger returns. I have been on the other side of the music industry for so long that I have almost forgotten about the part of me that makes my own music. I have been so focused on my career of selling other people's art that it has been genuine pleasure to revisit my artistic side.

Here is the link to my demo for a new Ringfinger song that I have been working on for the past month.. I wanted to stray away from percussion heavy writing to see what happens when I rely less on beats and more on melodies and found sounds.

My goal is to finish a Ringfinger record (at least the demos for) by the end of this Summer and if things go as I hope they will, there will be more songs to share in the months to come.