Showing posts with label Ringfinger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ringfinger. Show all posts

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.

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 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.