NOTE: I originally wrote this in July of 2018. Republishing as it feels relevant again . So while preparing to do my annual site update, I have decided to I resurrect my Blog. In reviewing old posts I decided to keep this one and move it up the list. With that said... YES, I will be doing my loooong wordy blogs again! LOL These wheels never stop turning and I have words to share!
I'm having one of my moments... this will be long, but uhhhmmm, it's my blog so I can do that! LOL
Stepping into a space where I am UN-apolgetically saying what I want has got to be one of the yummiest things evah! Not accepting anything I don't really want, just to be nice, is no longer part of my program. I am getting good with making myself my main priority again in all areas of my life. But alas, even in that I am still not cut from a dyed in the egocentric wool, or silk or satin for that matter. Things with me are seldom all about me. But still, I know what I like, and what I want. And when it comes to what I want these days I speak up. Better to speak on things that you want than what you don't want. The "don't want" has a nasty way of being exactly what you get when you give it too much energy. SO, lets get into a current want shall we? The want for today is a sound. Rather the person that I know can give it to me. But this want comes with a wee bit of editorial...come have a seat, have a snack, and allow me to ramble and "chat" wictha for a moment.
Several years ago, I went into my website e-mail inbox and found an mp3 waiting for me. It was attached to one of thee most humble notes I have ever received! It also contained a remix permission request, that due to some gnarly legal issues, I could not grant. To be frank this was the second time something like this happened, but this one hit me right in the gut for some reason. It broke my heart that whilst being totally messed up about the matter, here I was being approached by someone who could do one of the things that I actually wanted done with it, and I had to say "no". Everything in me wanted to say "Yessssss!!!" But to keep this man out of a possible mess that I didn't create, I had to deny the request, as well as my WANT to allow something that I had wanted for soooo long. Sad isn't it? I was crushed! But I was also determined to win the long game and reclaim all of my stuff.
Note: When I speak of reclaiming, I mean this in the most savage sense...like I'm talking Ntozake Shange's acclaimed book "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf" level reclaiming "my stuff". Not just regarding music either, and I'm a patient woman.
Anyway, back to this request. The problem of that moment, is now dead and buried, and I challenge anyone to tell me different. FACT: I could always do what I wanted with that title legally, I chose to keep others out of it and let the clock run out, so I fell back. Lose a battle here and there, but WIN the war. I WIN, NEXT! So now I'm chomping at the bit to finally do what I want with it, and I have a hit list of who I want to get down with me on this. Some on the list I didn't even know were in my cards and that God/the Universe had already placed in my life. But, there is one that I can't stop looking for. He eludes me. He is goooood! I believe,I feel, that he is one of thee baddest DnB cats to ever make rooms shake. From what I gather, he dropped some seriously heavy choons, made some noise and then hit the wall that many of us do. As an Artist when you know where you're coming from and why, the last thing you expect is that your talent would be denied, or obstructed over politics. As one of my Musical Godfathers, David Camacho, is quoted saying; and I am paraphrasing "We are not politicians, we make and play music..." Never a truer word!
The fickle politics and misc shenanigans of this business can either be career making or career taking. And I don't believe anyone has yet to traverse the labyrinth of it to find out what is at the center of its logic. We just know it exists. The truest of heart, and the not so true of heart, go thru this politics and shenanigans thing all the time. I remember when it first happened to me; the frustration of realizing your work, work ethic, professionalism and integrity aren't always seen as virtues or assets, but problems to others. A cohort in the UK sensed it in one of my e-mails and said "Oh, you have finally hit that disillusioned place." He, a very well established Musician, knew it and could read it between the lines of what I wasn't saying. I was so touched that he cared to even acknowledge my feelings, that I let down my guard, put my pride to the side and admitted that he was right.
As we all know, any sign of humanity or weakness in this business can be seen as a bad thing, weakness. So at that moment as I read his words , I was simply glad to be able to just be human with someone who showed kindness and understanding simply to try and encourage me to not give up, to try and let it pass over me, reassure me that I would get thru it. He was right about all of that as well. People like him, and a rare few others, are why I speak up and reach out when I see that cloud moving in on or hovering around others, even if from a distance. As for this dude who I am looking for; well he didn't need anyone to call it out for him, he called it out himself on his Soundcloud page. Which he generously has left up full of free music.
Now here's a side point that I have to make before I go any further; any of us who have been around long enough know the major downsides to being in this business. Beyond poor accounting, unchecked intellectual property theft and flagrant contract infringements, there is the matter of spirit breaking. For those who are inspired to do this, there is a component to the way we are built that makes it possible for us to do what it is that we do. Yes, many of us have had formal training, have cut our teeth as professionals in our respective lanes since we were kids. But there is something that you can't learn, you either have it or you don't. You have got to have heart and soul to knit sound and words together that connect with people. You have to be vulnerable in some ways to convey that which evokes emotion from others. Whether your aim is to make people think, fall in love, rage against the machine, not feel alone or simply crank up to euphoric heights of ecstasy on the dance floor...you have to tap into places in yourself to draw from to do it. You have to be sensitive to yourself and others.
Existing in that creative space, far too often it can feel incredibly lonely, even while standing in crowded night clubs whilst your music plays over the best sound systems that world has to offer. Only you ever truly know what was behind a lyric or a particular instrument being soloed etc. Projects are jobs, they take time and energy and cost. But it is also personal on some level for most of us. No matter how cheesy or corny you think something is, I bet it has some kind of personal relevance to its creator. Even if just a happy frivolous memory of something a friend said off handed as a joke, that became an inside joke that became a lyric or a hook. Bits and pieces come from real references in your life. So its no wonder that if, or when you, and or your creation are treated as less than or as something to be trifled with for others amusement, profit and power trips, it can be spirit breaking. It happens all the time in all arenas,not just Arts and Entertainment.
Artists and our lot are expected to create and not feel or think beyond doing what we do. We are expected to be calm and respectful of others in the face of cavalier dismissive attitudes, ambitious power plays at our expense, and disrespect. But hey, it's just business right? Well yes and no. Real business is about the details. At its core ,It's about making sound decisions that will yield the highest returns and benefits on your investment of time, talent...skill and yes, money. Business is about getting in to the black and staying in the black with the least amount of bleeding money as possible to get there. It's about fiscal bottom lines at the end of the day. The rest, where the spirit breaking comes from, is about something else that I have yet to find an adequate word for, but the word is not "business" let alone good business. What I do know is that it can be devastating professionally and personally. I have known too many people over the years who have not merely left the business, but this world sans the money, respect or cache that they had rightfully earned. I know too many people who have created records that are called "Classics",and were treated as anything but the Classics that they truly are, or were in some cases. I have heard the frustration, the sadness, the pain in far too many conversations over the years. I have felt it myself, and it sucks! So yes, I go hard for my fellow Creatives! Maybe that makes me foolish and sentimental. Oh well, it is what it is, and I am who I am.
I know, first hand, the struggles of Artists and Producers who are doing this the right way. I know the stress and worry of Label heads, who use their last in some cases, to try to do the right thing by their Artists, Producers and Business partners. Bottom line, there are amazing people out here doing the right thing! In kind, we as a community...a global community, have got to collectively do right and better by all who are doing the right thing. BUY the music you say you love! Support the Artists and Producers and Labels who invest in Artists for the right reasons! Tell people NOW, while they are still here in the game ,and among us in this life, that you appreciate what they do! It makes a difference. As my Grandmother always said, don't wait till I'm gone to bring me flowers, give me my flowers while I'm here now to enjoy them. AMEN to that!
I go hard because I want to see all who deserve the best, get the best that life and business has to offer. Friendly competition is cute, and can be fun in fact. But supporting and encouraging others...it doesn't deplete or invalidate you or your own success, great or small. Imagine this, it increases it! The world has too many apathetic Takers,Users,Abusers, and Manipulators. Why be another one? If you know what you've got, you don't have to be pressed about what someone else is getting to the point that you try to stop their coins or soil their name. That behavior may stall others, may even turn people away from them for a time. But that maneuver says way more about you and your true character and confidence, or lack there of, than them. Plus the truth always comes out. Just sayin... Karma...Universal Law always has the last word.
I ride for, STAN over, and support mine. When it comes to this business, I see every other true heart out there... wordsmith, visual story teller, singer, beat maker, poet, musician, digital...organic...acoustic , all of the sound alchemists... all of the creative souls, as family. And I'll up the ante on that by saying, I don' even care if you like or love me and what I do or not, I'm not a hater because hate doesn't yield anything but more hate. If that's you're trip "Do you boo!" Maybe your journey calls for that kind of lesson. But mine doesn't. I am not, never have been or ever will be about that life. In fact, that sh*t motivates me to flip it into something useful, like putting in werk.
Again, for all my words and opinions the arena I'm rambling about this is what it is, this is a business. And its a business I respect and know very well from both sides, as Artist and Business Woman. Yet and still, I can't begin to tell you how personally sad it makes me to see truly talented professional creative souls hit that wall. For one, I know how painful that sh*t is. It hurts on a level that can't be explained and can only be understood by one who has had to heal from it. What's so bad about it is; you know you have everything that is required to go the distance. But the b.s. will have you feeling like the biggest failure ever. Meanwhile you are doing better than most, and you have the actual audience pushing you forward. You keep your hands clean, your professional intentions above board and your work TIGHT. And then "they" the Toxic types, step in and create doubt, imply that you are less than this one or that one, therefore who you are is not good enough. Even the most talented and self confident of us gets rocked by that mess. And you find that you are faced with a choice. The choice feels like no choice at all, but it becomes your only choice; acquiesce to whatever deal is required, or rebell, and deal with the backlash of saying "I don't bow down to anyone", then fallback and assess. That latter essentially means you disappear some, or you fade into obscurity and never return. The bravest of us go out with a bang, leaving bread crumbs of what could have been had they been given the room to grow and create, elevate. We leave behind MUSIC! We give it away, more often that not hiding it in plain site, almost camouflaged like video game Easter eggs that only the most hardcore players care to find, and we always do.
So here I am looking at a Soundcloud page of Easter eggs, listening to them one by one, wondering, where is he? Why can't I find him? Has he cooked up another Alias? Is he truly gone forever? I WANT him to show back up and do what he does. I'm in my feels! He doesn't even realize he holds the key to making a dream of mine come true. And all I am left to do is shake my head, listen and say "Damn..." But the really real is, I get it. And if he really has bounced, I can only respect his decision because I believe I know the feeling behind it. Many of us do. However, I am still a woman with a wish. This particular wish, among many other bright n happy wishes, is to have this dude cradle my voice in one of his nasty DnB tracks. I want him to SciFi me! lol
Over the years of being Remixed, I have heard my voice and words dropped into all kinds of sonic soups; Underground House, Latin House, Deep, Progressive, Chill, Ambient, NuJazz, NeoSoul. But the one thing I have always wanted and never gotten was this...my other proverbial audio love jones...DnB | Jungle. When all is said and done, perhaps its not meant to be. But what if it is? What if he is...was my DnB Production Prince Charming? At the least, what if he is a reminder of the Artist I was that came soooo close to having this wish come true at my beginning, but it didn't. All of the career and sound direction "What ifs" I have about that to this day. None the less, no matter why I am slightly fixated on his work, that mp3... one thing I have learned over the years of making music, and with life in general; there are some people that you meet, whether face to face or via music, that make your heart stop and take your breath away! You know that for whatever reason you had to cross paths. The experience feels like being the new kid in school or the first day at new job when you notice the first friendly face that smiles back at you, combined with that feeling of utter and complete giddiness! In an Industry full of colorful characters, where some are not so gracious, its a joy to meet these folks or their work as they tend to not be arrogant, or attention seeking. They tend to be humble, impressive, generous and decent. They have more right than most to boast as they are that damn good, yet they don't boast. They gently reach out just to say "Hi...my name is...this is what I do, hope you like it" sans demands....entitlement of your time or access to you. You listen and you lose all your mind before the first 16 bars have come and gone. They are the REAL DEAL, and you feel blessed that they even know your name or care what you think! They make you feel so small against the beauty,brightness and boldness of their creativity , and special all at the same time. It is one of the best feelings one creative soul can give to, and or receive from another. It is...wait for it...my favorite over used word...Magical! LOL
Where I stand today is very simple. I am acutely aware of many of my kind of Artists, Producers and Business folks out there. We bring all we have to the party and aren't always treated so well. As a result, we may retreat for a time, but because we are driven by so much more than a want for kudos, but rather the desire to do what we do as professionals and do it the right way, we eventually come back. We don't return quite the same as we are older, wiser and on ready. We are also more aware of ourselves, our talent and the business than we ever were before. We come back unshakeable because we know better than to listen to the negative that is not constructive, but rather purposefully meant to be destructive, spirit breaking. We know what we've got! We know our worth! So we kick the dust off of our shoes, accept where we will never be welcomed and move on to higher ground. In some cases we map out our own uncharted mountains to climb where we can plant our own flags at the top. Some times we move as a caravan, sometimes we move solo. Either way, the expedition to conquer new heights and feel fresh earth under our feet is a desire I can only call, undeniable. How I could go on and on, but I won't. You get the point.
I will never see, or hear about a fellow Creative soul that feels beaten down by the b.s. , and not reach out in some way. This is that; me reaching out to say, I see you, I hear you, and I know I can't be the only one who does. I hope you get back up and continue to rock peoples bodies and souls with your transcendent grooves. The world can use every ounce of what is REAL these days. Clipped wings heal... even broken wings heal. If I can do it, you can do it! There is no birdcage, therefore there is no closed cage door holding you back. Fly...
So, I'm gonna keep trying to track him down, Even if just to say "Hi! and Thank you for blessing me, and my work with your vibe." I consider it a beautiful gift. At one of the darkest moments in my career. All those year ago a virtual stranger, a lone light of hope and appreciation from afar gave me what I needed to commit to riding out that storm because there was something to look forward to if I could just let it pass peacefully. It has passed, and I will never forget. All of us who contribute to this business or any form of Art and Creative Expression, need to remember we are each potentially that for someone else at any given time. We have got to look out for one another!
AND while I'm already delving into folks treating one another better... above and beyond my want to see my fellow Creatives ROCK and succeed in their careers, I don't want you to quit because I want MORE good music and stuff as fan! At the same time, on a more serious, maybe even extreme and human note; I also want to see everyone one make it thru these trying times in tact physically, mentally and spiritually. We need to treat each other well, regardless of status, discography length, or bank. We are all just people trying to do what we each feel we are meant to do. Kindness and civility are free, don't cost anything, so don't be stingy or withholding with decency. Especially at a time when people are losing hope, feeling alone and giving up and letting go. You don't have to be friends, you don't have to roll with the same camp/clique, speak the same language, or like or dislike the same people. But damn, try to give a sh*t about your fellow humans a bit more. Know this; that smile or that "shade" that is "that one more thing" for some, has been the one more thing that may have helped someone keep going, or it was that one more thing that pushed someone over the edge. The shade part isn't so funny when you think about it that way is it? Call me outdated or lame if you wish for not participating in the madness, but I'm not trying to be apart of possibly pushing another human being over the edge of despair on the last bad day of their career or worse, their life. You don't know what people are walking around with weighing on their hearts. That's TRUTH, period. All smiling faces aren't happy, that smile might be all they can do not to cry. And if you are reading this and are feeling alone, discouraged, or misunderstood allow me: ((( HUGE HUG )))
Funny I started writing this as what was supposed to be a brief tongue in cheek plea for a Producer that I "met" along the way, to give me a holler. As I re-read it I realize, I just wrote an open Love Letter to my peoples, to the community, to our fallen, lost, and transitioned family members. And in some ways to myself... as the Church Ladies say, that's how the spirit works. And I say, that's how the spirit works thru you when you don't allow your spirit to get broken. Don't let anything or anyone break your spirit.
LOVE, LIGHT & PEACE ALL UP AND THRU ALWAYS,