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New Video – Birdsong 8.24.10

Posted by Sound Semantics in at the drop of a hat, interwebs, music video.
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As promised!

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Inspiration: Suggestions? and Suggestions! 8.20.10

Posted by Sound Semantics in (not our) shows, allie's thoughts, inspiration.
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Nobody likes a whiner who doesn’t take steps to make things better.

I went on and on about feeling stuck and unsure how to move forward. I will now indulge in a brief update about what I’m doing to try to rekindle the flame, so to speak, and get moving. These are things that have worked for me before. These are things I’d recommend to anybody struggling to keep their artistic selves alive through a creative drought.

I would *love* to hear what your strategy is.
How do you keep yourself going?

Here’s my starter list…

  • Get inspired!
    There’s nothing to get me moving like hearing/seeing/reading/watching/understanding the products of other inspiration artists. This week I’ve been listening to some new music during the slow hours at work, courtesy of npr music’s First Listen … including S. Carey’s “All We Grow” and Ray LaMontagne’s “God Willin’ And The Creek Don’t Rise”.Β  Calling the albums “inspiring” seems insufficient, and calling them “music porn” seems inappropriate… so I guess they are somewhere in between. I don’t think they deserve a review from me because I’m not eloquent enough… but I do think they deserve a listen when you have time to check them out.Β  Also, reading is great!! I had forgotten or neglected the wonderful feeling I get from a great book. I recently read Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, whose writing I love. A lot. What are you reading? Listening to?
  • Get playing!
    Just because I’m self-exploring doesn’t mean we can’t stage-explore at the same time. The process of playing is incredibly cathartic and educating–both in practice and on stage, in different ways. We’re playing this Saturday morning at the Alberta Street Fair, and again for Labor Day weekend in Corvallis and then in Portland. It will be great to play for friends and strangers. From a performer perspective, I’m excited because it’s been a while and I love it. From a more personal perspective, I’m excited to step on the stage having accepted the challenge I’ve posed to myself–that is, to get back in the game, and more importantly get my heart back in it. πŸ™‚Β  (By the way, you’ll find info for those three shows on our website.)
  • Get connected!
    Some of the best lessons I’ve learned don’t come from my own head, but come from watching other artists (or really, other humans) do what they love, sharing experiences with them, and learning as much as I can from the exchange. I have a tendency to shrink and hide when things are getting a little scary or uncertain. Screw that! I will laugh in the face of being busy, broke and frustrated, and I will get out there and participate in the community I love, the community that supports my passions. Even when I’m feeling shy. What better time to challenge myself! I wrote a bit about the music we heard and will hear this week at the bottom of the post.
  • CREATE!
    One of the hardest parts of the ‘funk’ is being afraid to face it. But.. let me reiterate possibly the most direct part of this post… screw that! I’m going to write more, and I don’t just mean these rambling blogs. This is an official statement. Next time I hear Eran’s guitar through the basement floor, I won’t put a pillow over my head and go to sleep. I’ll be a part of it! It’s been a while since I trusted myself enough but I’m tired of waiting. (By the way, I should mention that Eran is kicking-my-ass in the create department. He’s almost done with that animated video for Birdsong and we can’t wait to show it to you guys πŸ™‚ )

In summary:
-I’m done whining!
-What do you do when you’re searching for inspiration?
-There’s a ton of great music out there, esp. in Portland.. esp. this week!
-I LOVE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!

Thanks for reading. ‘Til next time… 
❀ allie

Music & Shows
Earlier this week we heard some friends (old and new) play at The Know.Β Β  We came for Rainbow Jive Hammer, who opened up the evening. Their whole set was fun but I have to say I’m a sucker for “The Money” and “About Burning Bridges.” They could play those two songs 5 times each and I’d stay for the whole set. We were treated then to Cloud’s Rest, friends of a friend who were on tour from San Francisco. It feels great to support a touring band, knowing first hand how meaningful every friendly face is when you’re away from town. The lovely/trippy cello sounds caught my attention, clever lyrics kept it (“Sh!t Got Jacked” might be my favorite). I hope the rest of their journey goes well and that they make it back sometime. Night ended with A Cautionary Tale, whose name I’ve been hearing/reading for a while but hadn’t seen live until this week. They played a great set–accessible but never boring, original with a beautiful mix of sounds. I hope I get to hear them again soon when I’m more awake and can make it through to the very end.

Last night we heard Elke Robitaille play at East Burn. What a beautiful voice, and she & JP even managed to save my favorite song, “I’m Doing Fine,” for after we arrived. Thanks Elke πŸ™‚Β  These two are really kind, and a lot of fun to listen to. Experiencing somebody else’s enjoyment of their own craft is the most convincing selling point for me, the audience member. Second to good music, which they have.

This weekend we’re going out to the Portland Folk Festival on Sunday to hear some of folk’s finest. On my wish-list: Thao & Mirah, Laura Gibson, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, and hopefully lots of other folks who I may never have heard before. I guess that links back in to “get inspired.” πŸ™‚

Oh oh oh! And this is a bit off in the distance compared to the rest of the post, but on August 28th our friend Dillon Warnek will be coming down from the Seattle area to play at The Waypost here in Portland. If you didn’t hear him at out CD release (or even if you did), I strongly encourage you to come out for a coffee for a beer and listen with us. We’re not the only people who like him. Apparently The Seattle Weekly is catching on toΒ  “baby-faced Warnek,” too.

“I’m feeling scattered…” 8.10.10

Posted by Sound Semantics in allie's thoughts.
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Alright, guys. Time to get personal.

Lately it seems that, on an average weekday, my creative energy peaks… or, tries to peak… around 11am – 12pm. At this time, on an average weekday, I’m on the phone, in a meeting, or waiting to be on the phone, or in a meeting. I appreciate my job, and I like it, and I feel lucky to be working to support music, and able to pay the bills and all. But I sure wish my creative clock would reset itself and give me the extra boost when I actually have free time and attention to dedicate to the cause.

I’ve been having a hard time being creative, channeling my thoughts and energy. I don’t have any illusions that I’m being original. Writers’ block has been around for a while. But this is a strange kind of block for me. Because actually, I can do it, if I want to. I can write lyrics, I can put the pieces of a song together, I can sing a harmony or (surprise) write a blog. The block isn’t completely stopping the process. But it’s stopping the fun of it.

For example: fun and games on the tour, made into a blog. Good times, good feelings, good fun.

When Sound Semantics was born, I found it thrilling and engaging to be in a position where I could both contribute my existing knowledge and learn new things at the same time. The best parts of college all over again! I was constantly busy, meeting people, creating music, developing ideas, while still managing to keep things functioning, organized, productive and all that. I was juggling, and I love juggling! (Ok, I can’t juggle in real life, but you get the idea.) The business side of things–maintaining a schedule, recordkeeping, emails–was just as fun for me as the creative side of things–arranging Eran’s old songs for evolving lineup, writing new songs, finding my voice and learning how to use it in a new setting.

I think I got carried away.

The ‘business’ has kind of sucked the life out of the fun for me. The process of creation is so much more than creating when you’re trying to market yourself. That’s not news for anybody who has ever put their heart into their work. Especially not for any kind of artist trying to make a living. I knew it from the minute we started. What I didn’t realize, I suppose, was how hard it would be to find the right balance.

Time is precious. So is energy and inspiration. I’ve been spending a whole lot of time and energy working to make people… you guys… know about and believe in what we’re doing. Turns out, I haven’t been spending nearly enough time believing in myself and what we’re doing.

One of my favorite moments of collaboration. A great musical memory. Allie, Joe, Jack and Eran at The Waypost, November 2009. Photo by Ara Roselani.

There’s a strong case here for having somebody to help with the “business,” take on some of the management responsibility so there’s more free time and energy for creativity. Collaboration–the shared process of creating, developing, producing and eventually releasing what’s been created–is currently one of my great weaknesses, and missing pieces. It’s strange to think about, since some of the most rewarding experiences of my little life so far (musical and otherwise) have been collaborative. I never wanted to be on stage alone, always wanted to sing in choir in college rather than by myself. I like to bring my bits and pieces and throw them in the dish with everybody else’s, excited to see what comes out. So why is collaboration missing? What’s so hard about this?

Well I’m only guessing at this point. I still have some exploring to do. But I think it has to do with the belief and value backing up what I’m throwing in. If I don’t believe in me and what I have to offer, then it’s not so much fun as it is scary, worrying. I’ve spent a lot of time organizing alphabetizing and spreadsheeting all the steps you take after the dish is made. Contacts, promotion, and all that. In the meantime, I left dinner in the oven too long and now it’s burnt. Burnt out.

Oooookay that was a painfully long metaphor. But I think I’ve made the point. It’s time to redirect a little bit of focus inward. Figure out what’s working and what’s not. Come back to what used to be the “easy” part and allow it to be fun and easy again. And then turn around and offer up what I find with renewed confidence & excitement.

From the upcoming animated video for Birdsong

Eran’s been working on a music video for “Birdsong.” We often interpret our songs with different spins on the lyrics. In this case though, I think we agree that there is a current of continued renewal, the cycle of creation and development, persisting even in the face of frustration and uncertainty. I think my rambling thoughts fit right into that theme. It’s time to find my steady ground so I can move forward. And I’m excited to start the process. πŸ™‚

❀ allie

PS…. This was a pretty long and weighty post compared to recent updates. Never fear. I haven’t lost my sense of humor. Here’s an endlessly hilarious Oatmeal comic about customer service. Note: Includes some foul language, much truth and lots of laughter.http://theoatmeal.com/comics/computers

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