Sunday, November 8, 2009

A year in the life...

What a difference a year makes!

A year ago, if you had told me what was going to happen, I surely wouldn’t have believed you.

Dec 2008: My father (and only parent that I knew) passes on Christmas day. Dearest friends happen to be in the same city that day and they take us out for Christmas supper. Everything is surreal. Within a couple of weeks, my best friend has her first child. We spend 21 days straight cleaning up my father's apartment, in the worst snow Vancouver has seen in years. The last day of the cleaning, I fly to NY and spend Jan in NY, sifting through the emotions of what has just transpired, as my newly born godson reminds me of the beauty and miracle of life. I come back to the West Coast, take some time out to just “be”. This doesn’t happen. I go through a period of limbo, darkness – and find my way back to one of the greatest teachers I ever had the honour of working with, David M Smith of Fantastic Space Enterprises.

I take an 8-week performer based / core conditioning course that challenges me to a whole new level of thinking. Something in me tells me that I must take hold and keep moving forward. So, I write out my new business plan. I put on my game face and just get out there again. My first real Canadian tour in August.

And that, my friends, was a turning point.

I came back from August and realized that we needed a change. A very big change. Many reasons behind it, and to cut the story down to one more sentence, we pack up our stuff, rent a U-Haul, and drive across Canada to find our next studio space and Canadian home. Canada is a blessed country. It is vast, it is beautiful, and it is now a place I am even more proud of than I ever was before.

We have landed.

Where exactly, I prefer to keep that private, but I have landed in the Maritimes and have found the most beautiful space to build our Canadian home and studio.

So, folks, if you told me last year that I’d be here right now, I would have laughed and told you that you were nuts. Imagine what can happen in the next year!

When you hold something in your mind and in your heart, you can make it happen, even if all the little excuses keep flying around your ears - don't listen to them, do what's right for you, be patient and persistent.

Life is simply too short not to be truly alive. - Rose

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The promise of the affair

My freshly washed long ash-blonde hair reflects back at me as I watch my face in my favorite pine-framed mirror. I’ve had that mirror since I first moved out on my own, years ago, a vivacious young girl who was ready to take on the entire world. Brush the back parts. Brush the front parts. I once heard that you should brush your hair a 100 times each day so that the oils are distributed evenly from the tips to the ends. Brush the inside. Brush the outside. Brush the front parts. I wonder what it would be like if I brushed my bangs towards my nose. Brush. Brush, part to the right side. Then I part it to the left side.

In that moment, I recognize a little girl who once had flowing sunshine hair, who had such vigor and zest for life, that if you plugged her into a power grid, she’d light up every bulb in every house of Vancouver. The little girl who, no matter what obstacle or craziness that life threw her way, had a way of always seeing tomorrow, always knowing that things would work out. Her childhood journal entries would always end with, “Here’s hoping tomorrow’s a better day”.

Then, I feel him. There’s a warmth that enters the room – if I could see him, he would be standing right behind me, just so that I could see him in the corner of the mirror. His presence and the comfort of him being there hits me like a brick wall – I realize just how much I miss him. The tears start to flow and, like the little girl who is lost, scared, and alone – I realize just how alone I am without him. I speak clearly to him, inbetween the sobs of grief. He wants me to carry on, wants me to be strong and fearless and keep pushing forward. He is quiet and calm in his presence, knowing that this is my journey and my lesson, and my time to grow. My skin hurts so much from all this growth. A new skin, a new body, a new mind – so much to regenerate.

It is time. All my life, I have wanted to move, and now it is time. I look at the boxes, half packed, waiting for my command to close them. I am leaving everything I have built here, all my community and what I am familiar with, and leaving this comfort for something that has always haunted me in its calling.

New York has always been a great lover over the years, but will it want me as a long term partner? We soon start a new phase in our relationship, where I hope to discover that my affair with this city is more than just a ten-year fling, with one lover promising to always leave the stagnant relationship they are currently in, to be with the promises of richness and depth that the other affair brings.

I have always promised my lover that I would leave my beloved Pacific ocean for the darkness and edge of the Atlantic. I have always spoken the truth in my love for him, and that if I left my ocean, would his have me? I’m moving in. Will our relationship stand the test of time? Will he grow tired of my quirks? How I squeeze the toothpaste tube before each brush? How my blonde hair turns blonder in the summertime and darker in the fall? Will he love me for who I am? He has always promised to.

There’s only one way to find out – and that’s by simply doing it. It’s not courage, or fearlessness, but rather, a deep madness that drives me away from the warm winters and comfortable solitude I enjoy here – in fact, as adventurous as I am, I also have moments of honest fear – what lay beyond the grey fog of music and adventure when one embarks on such a change?

You see, I know myself well enough to know that I never look back. This is my fear. They say you can never come home. But I believe it’s simply that you don’t ever come home, because home is something you always take with you and build wherever you are. That is the gypsy and the adventurer in me speaking.

This breakup with the West Coast has been a long time in the making. Don’t get me wrong – I will always love her. She has nurtured and loved me, she has caressed me like no lover could. She has inpsired my music with her winds and with her ocean. But she has also been a stagnant and superficial lover at times, taunting me with her promises of longevity – with every drink of every wave, she would promise more fortune and adventure – only to be a longwinded statement that would bear no fruit. Her youth shows her to be uncultivated at times and her maturity at times too much like a pubescent teenager.

Now, of course, her mother, and her mother’s mother - well, those are the ancient spirits that I will truly miss. I will miss the winter winds, the tallest trees, the dance of my eagles, the way the stars sit in this sky. I will miss the whispers of the arbutus trees, and the wisdom of the people that have survived her. I will miss the little parts of Asia that I have come to revere as my own, and the tribes that I have come to know here – I will be meeting and learning of new ones, for sure. But I gain comfort in knowing that we will share the moon and a common thread of water, as I move forward in my journey towards the Atlantic.

And then I think of my father again. How he must have felt when he left his homeland for the first time, on a cattle train, uncertain of where he would be taken. Uncertain whether or not he would ever see his home or family again. And then, when he escaped the camps for good, how much pain he must have felt to leave his homeland for South Africa, then England, and then finally, Canada. How he dealt with the fear of starting over again – truly starting over again. New culture, new language, and of course, to be the “German” during an era where being even remotely connected to that culture was a mark of the Devil himself. How could my father have picked up and left it all, to finally end up as far away as Vancouver, to start all over again?

I realize how silly I must seem to him right now. Here, his little girl, finally ready to move away for good, finally has every opportunity to do so, but she is momentarily stopped in her mirror because she knows that one of her only ties to her father is the West Coast. By leaving here, I am also leaving behind the last memories I have of him and of being with him. And I don’t want to lose those memories. And then I cry some more. But I know that at least now he can travel with me everywhere I go and I have no reason to fear the unknown. After a few obligatory tissues, I brush my hair one more time, leaving my bangs to fall where they may. -


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Apologies – On tour in Western Canada. My right hand and arm have been in reserve for playing music and NOT for typing! Re-activated an old injury, and tonight is the first night I can type a little. Need to rest my arm enough so that i can play out the rest of this month.

But i had to write something. My best friend’s father passed unexpectedly, traumatically, and suddenly - just a few days ago. It has reopened my own wounds surrounding my father's death, and my heart just wants to wrap itself around hers and protect her from having to feel this. But, this is part of each of our experiences, and I had to write something to honour this event.

I've entitled this poem - "Library" - in reference to something that was said at the memorial by the Reverend. He noted how our lives had 2 bookends around it - birth and death, and I realized that none of us know how many books are in the middle, none of us reveal all the books we've collected, and when we pass, no one alone can read all the books. So, yes, a new metaphor for life now exists in my metaphoric mindspace. I dedicate this to all of us that have lost a loved one in traumatic and unexpected circumstances.
- R

(Sidenote: When trying to help a friend out by taking them to a movie after dealing with a death in the family, please don’t take them to District 9 like I did tonight. Had to turn on my Tarantino switch for that one. Good movie, but just really BAD timing on my part. I owe her at least a week of romantic comedies now. )

Her Library

Lined up against the wall
Flags of warriors
You were one

Book ends of life
you collected your library
They read what they can now

There will always be secrets
Tall brick walls
Mahogany shelves filled with
cigar smoke
and mirrors,
Larger than life

Books in shadow
Observed in respect
You were human
In retrospect

Speak to me with strength
and lessons learned
Ready to guide her
you have crossed over
and now,

Pages disintegrate,
Vines flourish,
the last sunset reaches the last branch
Reaching for the last book to hide

You have saved one for her, though
It holds a father’s love
And cannot be rewritten

She has just begun to read it
she will not let it leave
the most precious of spaces

A new book lives
forever more
in her library.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sunsets, Moonlight, Gratitude & Tribe

Ferry to Nanaimo. July 2nd, 2009 - thoughts for today.


Today I just finished an amazing 2 month course called Core Conditioning @ Fantastic Space - for any of you interested in taking some amazing professional and personal development courses. Vancouver, BC Canada. Instructor: David MacMurray Smith – By far the best instructor I’ve had the opportunity to work with.

As I’m writing this blog - currently listening to:
- Imogen Heap: Goodnight and Go, Headlock,
- Dave Matthews Band: Crash

Sunsets, Moonlight, Gratitude & Tribe

Took the first ferry out this morning at 6:20am. Currently on the last ferry, - - left Horseshoe Bay at 9:35pm.

Today is a rare gem, aspects of which I must write about so as to imprint it onto my memory until my end days. I truly lived, loved, received, gave, experienced, shared, cried, laughed, spoke my mind, and thrived. I pray that you have many day-gems for your memories. And if one doesn’t come to mind straight away, I pray that my day can be a reminder of those moments in life that are more valuable than time itself.

And tonight I am filled with so much gratitude that my heart hurts. It actually hurts. And that’s ok – I’ve finally figured out that my heart is there to remind me to laugh and love and grieve – all at the same time. And I am twisting myself into each emotion trying to tag what I’m feeling tonight. Nope. All of the above – still everything. Hmmmm.

So I walk. Top deck. Warm evening summer wind mixed with dancing moonlight against a gently rocking ocean and a mandarin sunset. First around the boat once to clear my breath. Second time around the deck to find my pace. It begins slowly, and by the third time round, my stride is a relaxed heartbeat pace – and I realize I am in meditation.

I can almost see the whole Man in the moon. For years I would watch this moon – many times as a young girl with my father, as he would pull out the largest binoculars and we would watch the moon from a little window off the side of our house. The moon has always intrigued me. A male image inside of a female symbol. Transition upon transition, ebb and flow of our collective waters, balance of light and darkness – all captured in one solitary moon.

The slightly warm wind supports my body as I walk into it and around it and behind it and infront of it. It reminds me that air is liquid and as the sun begins to set – there is this incredible dance between the reds and oranges – and as I come around the front of the boat – there’s the moon again in her own sunlight. It is a truly magical night.

I walk and walk and walk and walk. And then, I finally find the emotion. It’s simple joy. Joy. Wow. There’s one I haven’t felt for a long time.

I follow the thread into my heart.

There are points in life where one meets a kindred spirit. We learn, laugh, exchange, perhaps share an ebb and flow, or perhaps two or three – and perhaps we sail together for a season or two, or maybe even decades. Sometimes we grow apart or continue to sail together – and life around us expands and contracts as natural as breath and storm.

Then there are spirits we meet that are part of our tribe. I am beginning to see a difference –their eyes are our eyes – somehow understanding is intrinsic in our natures and words hold no need. Years can pass before we meet, or perhaps we are entwined in a daily dance – but there is a deep connection that cannot be explained in any logical or outwardly fashion.

Our tribe – sometimes scattered – sometimes part of the biological family we came into – and many times not – I define as those spirits we have shared endless lifetimes with and have somehow managed to find each other and guide each other in this one. (sidenote – ‘lifetimes’ is a term I use loosely – haven’t really been able to grasp or define that yet – but feel as if there is a timelessness to the word that makes the concept of this connection much stronger)

My tribe is a dynamic sphere of souls intertwined with other glorious spheres, so beautifully intertwined in this dance we call life. My sphere is one that is strong, filled with all shades of colour, light and dark, and at the core of my sphere I am connected with spirits that are so dear to my heart – and I wish I could tell you why or how these spirits live in the core of my heart – but they are there and for the rest of my life will always be cherished and appreciated. For my tribe, I want to help them cross over to the other side when it is time for them. I would bend time for them if I could.

See, I never had a distinct ‘tribe’ that I felt truly connected to. I was always the freak, the weird one, the runt, the girl that was too short, too small, too wrong, too this or too that. I never felt accepted by any group – and was actually totally OK with this. I really do enjoy my own company – yup, am definitely a Leo, eh? I suppose all I’ve ever been able to depend or trust has been myself. As I grew older, I held many friends, but then began redefining the term itself. Now, as time continues to teach me to refine and redefine, I find myself allowing the term “friend” to still associate with my kindred spirit clan. But those that are timeless connections, the ones who I laugh the heartiest with – those souls are my tribe. And that number is very very small.

In my journey of discovery, I find that I actually do love many people – but not necessarily their behaviour. I find that I connect with so many cultures, shapes, sizes, smiles, experiences – and yet, through all that, there has always been a loneliness on my own boat – that is, until I discovered elements of my tribe. And slowly, I feel like the more I accept myself, the more tribe I am coming into finding. Funny that, eh?

So, as I finish my final walk – I lean against the rail and watch the moonlight and the first stars appearing - I thank the guides that have come into my life.

To my core tribe - I hold you in my heart over lifetimes – I gladly expand my space to hold you and am grateful that we share in this dance. May our spheres dance forever. You have my authenticity and loyalty.

To those who are kindred spirits – I gladly raise my sail and journey as far as the winds take us, I invite adventure, experience and wisdom. You have my sincerity and friendship.

To those that I have yet to meet – may our futures be filled with a fullness of experience – and may we meet in this lifetime. You have my openness and willingness to learn.

- R

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Inherently Perfect

Inherently Perfect

It’s not all blood and sorrow
And it’s not all yellow sun
The world I live is full of colour
And hermits everyone
Each pair of hands a purpose
And each set of eyes a view
The wind can blow me down
Or push me through
The tears I cried today
Are memories forgotten
And as I laugh again
I laugh with you
And how my fingers slow
At words beyond my pace
How voice reveals
My soul displaced
As waves together
Storms bring joy
And child forever
You can work beside me
We’ll dance till dawn
And quietly sing our
Sorrowful songs

For them - I would give my life
For you - I would carry your pain
For me - I would know my tribe
For us – let’s ride this train

I’d give my heart
For one chance to hold yours
I’ll carry your sight
When you have none more
Listening to love in flight
A world inherently perfect
gives me no meaning
leaves me no goodbye
when our paths entwine
let ebb and flow
as waves and wind
and child who knows
no other way

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Part Two: A week in the life... aka, My crush on Dave Matthews

The passions within our choices:

Over the last decade, our industry has changed dramatically. Understatement. That's like saying "Atlantis has had a minor flooding."

As artists, we have had to find alternative sources of income (whether it be from our art, or in my case, from TV Film placement, or computer software work), in order to feed our passons. Alternative distribution, alternative merchandising, alternative performance venues.

And yet, Art manages to always find a way to the audience. Maybe it takes longer, and like an unstoppable river, it manages to sneak out and present itself.

On that point, there are moments where I wish I had a choice to NOT do music or pursue my artistic endeavours. I don’t have that choice. This can be a difficult thing to explain.

Music and creative ventures (including writing, acting, ) are what I was placed here to do. There is no door #2 for me. Trust me, I’ve tried. Every time I try to deviate from music or my art, it only makes me physically sick and seriously so.

When I’m pursuing my music, or my writing – I feel like I am fulfilling my purpose here on earth and that the time I have been given is so precious and is only to be used for this. And as I grow older, this feeling just becomes stronger. Those of us who pursue our art purpose our whole lives, really do wish we could just choose something else sometimes. It’s all-consuming, all-day, all-night, what I breathe, what I need to do to live. Otherwise, and I mean this seriously, I wither and die.

I wish I could be fulfilled and happy with the M-F job and have 2 kids and a couple of dogs with a house. I really do. But that’s someone else's dream, path, journey and not mine. When one honours one’s purpose, we have a much greater chance of fulfillment, especially when it comes to that last breath (and honours is spelled with a U in Canada). And sure as hell - what I envision on my deathbed is what drives me the most, and has ever since I was a kid: My last breath will be something along the lines of “Yeah, I lived as fully and as full of purpose as I could. And damn, the food was great. And man, i wish I could hear Satellite of Crash by Dave Matthews just once more.”

EPILOGUE: DAVE MATTHEWS ROCKS One of my musical dreams is to write and produce music like Peter Gabriel or Dave Matthews. AND I really admire artists like Dave Matthews – he seems as if he is a good person (ie, anti-Diva) as well as an incredible writer and performer – have you heard his latest album? BUY IT. Stop reading and run to Starbucks (sorry, didn’t mean to shamelessly plug the coffee chain – but that’s where I bought it) and grab a mocha (definitely shameless plug coming up though) and the Matthews album. It kicks ASS. Totally amazing performances, and the songs “Squirm” track 8, and the last track, track 13 ( You and Me) – are my current favorites… It’s a rich album, filled with subtleties… and of course I’m totally in love with Matthews and the amazing talented and genius drummer (and writer), Carter Beauford…

Truly orgasmic playing. (Hoping he might wanna be my boyfriend someday… Actually… hmm. STRIKE that thought. Have dated 2 drummers. Even if he is so damn talented.. the stigma of drummer has left a bad taste in my mouth. Hence why I got smart and married an orgasmically talented bass guy)

Anyways, what I hear on their latest album is what I aspire to write and eventually produce myself one day.

So, folks, my upcoming Standby album will be beautiful, it will be heartfelt and strong, but at the same time, I’ve really only just begun. Rev your engines…. Here I come world. Thank you for allowing me to share.

Love and Peace – R

A week in the life of an indie artist - Part One

Part One: A week in the life of an indie artist (aka HERE I COME WORLD). Well. Grab a tea and have a read. Today's blog is separated into 2 parts so that you can come back and read as desired.

Part one of HERE I COME WORLD Brought to you by the gremlins of time.

Hello there my dedicated reader and in most cases, friend.

“Self,” I says, “How is it possible that a whole week can fly by and here it is again, Saturday.”

So, I thought I’d look back at what this last week held for me and share with you what a typical week seems to be like lately: Let’s approach it first from a strictly mathematical time management angle: -

  • 10 – 12 hrs / wk for physical training (ie, strength training, movement work, yoga cardio) – critical for me to be able to perform, as well as live till I’m 130. -
  • 6 – 8 hrs for vocal training and rehearsal / wk-
  • 49 hrs: 7 hrs / night: Sleep – although this totally varies from 4 to 8 -
  • Writing time – I could write all day every day, but his last week, amidst all the other stuff, was able to pull out about 5 song ideas, and finished 1 more, so around 6 hrs -
  • Connecting with Friends and family - this past week there's been a lot more of that. Can't quantify the hours at the moment.
  • Production time that I was directly involved in – about 8 - 10 hrs-
  • Travel time – about 18-20 hrs last week (but there’s a lot I get done on the ferry, such as, this blog – so this overlaps with admin and marketing and lyric rewrites)-
  • Administrative time (Song registration, press list compilations, grants, database admin, graphics, organizing, phoning contacts & tour planning) – about 25 hrs, and I do have some help with this now. (Thank you M, Lala, R and L.)-
  • Other: Food prep, face to face meetings, R&R time, internet surfing and research, hardcopy industry reading, attending MusicBC Seminars – about 25 or so hours. -
  • Health care stuff: Osteopathic / sports massage. / dentist (seen too much of her lately – catching up on about 7 years –so the tooth work is almost done and no more sugar allowed for me). Couple hours. -
Ok, I forgot laundry, showers, toilet time, and meditation and simply thinking… I do indeed get time to do that, and in fact, usually mix all that in with my administrative days - so it's all good.

SO, today, I'll be back in my little studio - working on some new electronica pieces... hoping to find a blend of Imogen Heap perhaps with a sprinkle of Jamiroquoi or maybe a dash of Portoise Head.

MY DREAM is to make you wiggle your jiggle.. or cry. One of the two. No inbetweens. Ok, ok, I do enjoy the happy ballads of love - in fact, I'm quite addicted to writing those. But I also dream of the day where I can hire a 12 piece band (includes a horn section, a string section, world beat percussionist) and do a live-off-the-floor KICK ass session. My dream has always been to make music that makes you wanna move every cell of your body – music that not only makes us think and feel (like the introspective stuff), but stuff that makes us wanna get off our butts and LIVE.

That’s the kind of music I LOVE writing and performing. But when it comes to production, we have been really wanting live musicians to be a part of this – as much as I do LOVE digital, (and I really do love digital work) unfortunately NOTHING , and I mean, NOTHING, can replace the energy of a live performance. But who pays for it? See, an indie artist these days has to be creative in business and figure out ways to stretch their production dollar and pay rent at the same time. Now, of course LOYAL FANS (like you) are what it’s ALL about. Without you guys, we wouldn’t even be able to buy our Mr. Noodles and frozen peas (easy to cook while showering).

I propose that there is such as thing as bridging the needs of corporate fiduciary duty along with the needs of art. Not sure how yet, but am working on that. Silly me, but I have faith that authentic art still has a strong place in our current world. Another blog perhaps. An indie artist CAN make a good living (not rock star perks, but better than showering with Mr. Noodles) and a good living that can pay rent and afford a reasonable quality of life. It’s all about using our creativity towards the business end of things. Learn, research, and know how to approach the business of our industry. One cannot be lazy and apathetic and expect that one will be “discovered”. Only those that really put their all into it, and that also means the business end of things, will and DO succeed. Those that have great fans (such as YOU reading), those artists that recognize they really are the ambassadors for their own music - And those that cultivate and grow their fan base as well as their relationship with industry cats such as media and music directors and music supes – THOSE artists WILL succeed. Get management if you can, but don’t expect the manager to do it all. And as for that major label deal – my strongest recommendation is to let that fantasy go – I’ve found that there’s a LOT of value in remaining indie and unsigned. Yet another blog.

With that said, if one is in the industry expecting to only pursue a $$$ killing, then that person is also in the wrong industry. (Might I suggest water management or commodities?) If money is the ONLY driver, then there is limited chances that that person will have any longevity in their career – mainly because their heart and soul is in the wrong place. I believe this applies to almost every industry.

Frankly, if we took everyone in the world, shook us all up in a little box, and then said to each one “Go and pursue only what you feel you are here to do with the time you have left” – then I get the feeling that the passionate accountants would find themselves in the art of numbers, as much as the passionate lawyers still would be pursuing the art of justice. We all have our purpose(s) here. And those of us that live with purpose make tons of sacrifices that other people would see as sacrifices, but to us, are simply things we do in order to fill the purpose of our lives. And I don’t just mean the “I can’t afford the latest Gucci purse”, I mean real sacrifices that are relatively large, but when compared to our life passion and pursuits, are worth it and relatively small. And back to the business of music.

Well, like any other industry, business is truly about relationships, and most of us who have been doing this for a while can spot an opportunistic ladder climber miles away. And THAT’s not to say that an artist must not be opportunistic to some degree. But I’d prefer to define a positive and honest opportunistic and creative attitude as “SAAVY”. An indie artist must be business savvy as well as talented as well as creative in business and willing to do what it takes (short of a blowjob) to accomplish his or her dreams. And, yes, I’m sad that we can’t all just focus on our art, like we “used” to. But then I also argue, most artists in the past would have had some type of sponsor (the Church, anyone?) and at least now we are more free to pursue exactly the art we want, and not what is forced down our throats. YEAAAAH INDIE! We have freedom like never before, and yes, freedom comes with responsibility and sacrifice.

- R.