The clip below is from the filming of my music video for Impossible Love. We shot the video in 2009 and that Summer we won Best Music Video at the Just Plain Folks Awards in Nashville. We shot it on a $250 budget, which included gas for my car (which was also our power generator), and food for my volunteer cast/crew.
I have played the piano since I was a toddler. I’ve been taking lessons since I was 5. I’ve treated the piano like it was an extension of my own body since I was a kid. I studied music on scholarship from Berklee College of Music and to this day, I have never had my own piano. The piano in this video is the first and only piano I have ever owned, and it was immediately donated to this art project. I got it for free from a church. They said it was “un-playable”, although they certainly have no idea what un-playable means.
Regardless, the music video is the artwork of director, Brandon Nicholas and cinematographer, James Mann. Destroying a piano was not my idea, although, in the finished product, it looks amazing. The piano then went on to be in the movie Desert Son, another Nicholas/Mann project which you can watch instantly on netflix!
Anyway, that is the story of this piano. I think it got a lot more love from us than it did sitting and collecting dust in the church basement we rescued it from, but the video still pisses people off. I hope you hate this video of me smashing it as much as everyone else on the internet does! By the way, when we really start beating it up, it’s not for fun. It’s for close-up shots of the pieces flying everywhere. This is extremely dangerous. Do not try this at home.
Below is also the official “Making Of” video as well as the award-winning finished product! Also included is a preview for Desert Son. See if you can spot the piano! Enjoy!
I am a musician and my boyfriend is a comedian. We’re both pursuing art as a career and therefore, eating plain spaghetti most nights. The other night we were talking about how we worried we had “peaked” early on in our careers. This is, of course, ridiculous because both of us are far more capable and talented now than we were even 18 months ago. The concern is born from an awareness that as kids in college, the only expectations being held up to us was to “make the most out of the experience” in the hopes of becoming something someday. I know this is true for me. I went to Berklee College of Music where all you do is play music all day and all night and the only thing expected of you is to show up and give it everything you’ve got, and oh yeah, to become hugely famous someday to make a $100,000 music education “worth it”.
It’s easy to feel like you’ve peaked when you have been spoiled by being around some of the most talented people on the planet playing music 24 hours a day with no other worry or care in the world. Doing what we want everyday with no financial obligations is as close to “making it” as Max and I have come.. so far.
Being an artist is hard. Er. Let me re-phrase. Being an artist is great and special and unique and a useful outlet. Relying on art to support yourself and basing your identity on the success of your career as an artist is hard. Max and I are both in agreement that if we turned out to be 40-somthings still working a “Plan B” job, only doing art when we have a free weekend or evening, and staying in the same art scene our entire lives, then we would be incredibly disappointed and equally suicidal.
For those in our breed, not succeeding isn’t an option.
So we both work our butts off to work towards the next step that will bring our reputation another inch closer to being who it is we’re trying to be. However, when faced with this question you oftentimes get when meeting face-to-face with the occasional person who just might be the one to give you a break, a lot of us do not have a clear answer.
“What do you want?”
Why is it so hard for us to be honest with this question? Why does it always stop us dead in our tracks?
Could it really be as simple as lining out what you want? I think it is. I think that a lot of artists struggle not because they can’t move forward, but because they don’t know where they want to go. Decide. And if you are under the notion that becoming rich and famous is selling out, then it is my personal opinion that you are wrong. Saying that you want your art to provide for your family, to send your kids to college, to give you options in time of financial crisis such as being faced with an unexpected medical need, this is not selling out.
But I digress.
In my career thus far, this has become one of the most important things I have come to understand: Don’t be afraid of what you want. Don’t be afraid to admit what you want. Don’t deny what you want because you don’t believe it is the “right” thing to want. If you pursue what you think is the “right” thing to want, then you are not allowing your art to take you where your heart wants to be. Your goals don’t need to be the same as mine, or John Mayer’s or Mother Teresa’s. I’m telling you this because we all need to free ourselves from that expectation. Seriously. I don’t want you jumping off a building in 20 years because you worked all these years and never got what you wanted.
I’ll go first.
Here’s what I want. I want to be a great songwriter. I want my name to be on the list when people name off names like Beth Nelson Chapman and Carol King. I want to be able to fill a venue. I want people to want to hear my songs and get excited when I release new music. I want other people to record my songs and for it to grant them success in their own album sales. I want to be respected among my peers as an incredible, capable, and dedicated member of the music community. I don’t want to need this second job to pay the bills. I want my music alone to be able to support me. There it is.
I moved to Los Angeles a few weeks ago. And not one day should pass when I do not think about what I want and what I can do on that day to get me closer to this goal.
I’m a believer that you can have anything you want. Material or not. But if you can’t admit that you can have whatever you want and you alone are 100% in control of your own success (you’re in control. not the guy who asks what you want. not the guy who didn’t come to your show. you.), then you’re destined to constantly be put in a position to be let down, unfulfilled, and unimpressed with yourself.
So why is it so hard to answer the “what do you want” question? Because it makes you accountable for getting it. We become a little blinded by being in a market and trying to fit the mold of what other people need at that moment. Hop-scotching from being what one company wants to what another label wants as a way to build a career is exhausting and tough. Answering this question means that we get to be what we want and therefore, we are the only thing stopping us or aiding us in getting it.
So i just booked my first gig in L.A. because I want to perform and I want other people to watch. It took one day of deciding that was what needed to be done. More to come.