Two weeks ago my Grandfather passed away. I went to Louisiana to be with my family and celebrate his life. He was an inspiring person that would deserve a book’s length description on the lives he helped and the ways he fought for justice. I can’t do him justice in such a casual forum, but his death is worth mentioning as a preface to the 2 weeks that followed.
I spent 4 and a half days in Baton Rouge with family within arms reach. My Mom organized all of the logistics of getting herself, myself, and my sister to Louisiana. If you know me, you know that it is a rare occasion for my siblings and I to all be in one place, much less for me to have all my siblings AND both my parents. Because of the circumstances, cherishing the company of family and extended family was the theme of the week. I was without my laptop and phone for most of this time.
When I returned to Los Angeles, I felt like I could take on anything. I was inspired after hearing stories of my Grandfather all weekend, and I was recharged after a few days away from work and being loved on constantly by family from all directions. I came back to Los Angeles ready to take on the world, and promptly fell flat on my face less than 2 days after being back.
As many of you know, I started a company this past year to help enable me to pursue music while also keeping food on the table. For a long time, I’ve fought with the idea of doing anything aside from art as not giving your art everything you can. However, after living on almost nothing in Los Angeles for 3 years, I saw an opportunity to continue to do my music, not rely on someone else “finding me” and “making me” into something in order to “make it in the industry” and therefore be able to then eat! The industry is horse poop and everyone knows it, and the only possibility I saw to keep pursing music aggressively, is for me not to go down with their crappy ship, and therefore not depend on it to potentially live better. I want to do music. I just also want to be accountable for feeding myself.
Starting a social media company with Max helped me to take ownership over my own financial situation and not be a martyr for my art. However, after landing back in Los Angeles last Sunday night and spending 2 straight days in front of a computer screen, it was painfully clear that I hadn’t thought things through quite thoroughly enough.
Anyone who is feeling off balance and unhappy, I strongly suggest you do what I did next.
I made a list of everything I need in order to be a complete, happy, balanced, productive, and creative person. If I’m not all of those things, then I’m really any of those things. For me, this list included exercise, uninterrupted time to write, time at the piano and outdoors, etc. I also made a list of the company’s needs including work hours, time to take care of organizational tasks, time for meetings and phone calls, etc., I then spent a good part of the rest of the week organizing this into an actual schedule on my Google Calendar. For all of the things on my “to-do” list, I further organized it into “Today” “Tomorrow” “This Week” and “Next Week”. That way, I can be more realistic when telling people when I can have something done. I always say “today” or “tomorrow” because I CAN. However, I can’t keep doing it because I’m not as excited about the job when I don’t make time for the other things that are important to me, and if I’m not excited, I can’t do anything very well.
I finished up the week with a show at Molly Malone’s on Sunday night. I opened the night for The Long Holidays and Oak Street Blues. Because of the activities of these past two weeks, the show was not promoted on my end as heavily as I normally do, and as a result, at the beginning of the set, I was playing to the other bands and a couple of my loyal supporters.
Because I was playing alone, the light was so direct and bright, I couldn’t see the audience at all, and with the help of Richard (the sound man) being TOTALLY ON, I was able to go somewhere else and be mostly oblivious to the size of the crowd. It was just piano and vocal, so I was able to take a lot of space and time with my delivery, and the room was silent during each song. The only way I could even tell anyone was there was the applause break between songs. A few songs in, the applause breaks began to represent a larger audience, and at the end of the set the room was mostly full. I couldn’t believe how many people had come in so quietly and politely and joined me in that moment! It was a life-affirming thing to know I could still take myself to that place, and occasionally bring someone else with me.