Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine

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Heart’s up



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More Than A Hero – find lyrics here!

Pre-orders and thank you CDs have all gone out to those who backed the making of the album during my crowdfunding campaign. As promised, here are the lyrics from the album…


Click HERE to read the lyrics.

And be sure to leave your thoughts about and interpretations of them in the comments sections. I’m curious! :) xo ke.

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Here’s hoping your St. Patrick’s Day is *SPECTACULAR*

Hope your St. Patrick's Day is *SPECTACULAR*

(These were a gift from the lovely and talented songstress, Rosemary Phelan! I love ‘em.)

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And now, some Valentine’s Day poems as rejected by Hallmark…

Roses are drying / Violets are pressed / I’m taking you out for pizza / I think you’re overdressed.

Roses are red / Violets are blue / I love you like a library book / that’s three weeks over due.

Roses are red / Violets are shrinking / When I asked you out / What ever was I thinking?

Reddest are thine roses / the violets, a most brilliant hue / do you want to read my poetry? / PLEASE say that you do…

Roses are red / Violets are blue / I have a crush on your friend / but I’ll settle for you.

Roses are red / The flu isn’t fair / If you barf in my bathroom / I’ll hold back your hair.

Roses are grumpy / Violets are a grouch / Quit hogging the bed / Or go sleep on the couch!


Hope you’re having a fine day full of love!

xo Karyn


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In The Studio: “More Than A Hero” Recording Sessions [photos]

In between takes.

Some snapshots from recent recording sessions for the new album! Photo credits go out to Evalyn Parry, who took all but one of the photos in the first five rows above, as well as some of the other ones throughout the gallery; and Mike Bourgeault, who added the choir shot! Click on any of the thumbnails below to pop open a carousel viewing gallery.


You’ll meet the band: Brian Kobayakawa (bass), Champagne James Robertson (electric guitar and banjitar ~ which is as it sounds: combination banjo and guitar) and Gary Craig (drums). Special guests Kerri Ough (backup vocals) and Bryden Baird (flugel horn). The lovely Don Kerr helming the console (producer / engineer, as well as handclaps, percussion and some backup vocals) and of course yours truly (singin’). Aren’t we a fabulous crew?

Hoping these photos capture for you the DYI / creative vibe of the studio. You’ll see Don putting the finishing touches on the isolation booth made from velvet curtains and old doors screwed into to the plywood ceiling and stuffed with sound foam around the cracks. The clutter box makes an appearance as do the superstar shades and the oddly named Yackie Ball.

The Echoplex and eight-track player may or may not show up in a final mix of the album, but I add them here for posterity since Don and I spent an afternoon one day noodling with acoustic sounds in an effort to come up with a loop for one of the tunes.

Oh, and David Hasselhoff pops by for a visit as well.

If you’d like to find out more about the project, including how to get involved as a backer of the album (pre-orders and more!), please visit:

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Ten Things I Learned from the Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge.

My first published article! It appears (in much shorter form) in SONGWRITERS Magazine (Volume 16 – Reference Edition 2012/2013).

I was invited to submit it based on my experiences of winning the first ever Canadian Social Media Challenge this past winter, which was hosted by the Songwriter’s Association of Canada.

Here is the full-length version:

Last December I arrived home from the bubbling energy burst of my first European tour, when I heard SAC was hosting the first ever Canadian Social Media Blogging Challenge. The challenge, based on the book “Music Success in Nine Weeks” by Arial Hyatt, offers a structured way to explore social media and other online activities (in particular, blogging) to engage audiences and grow careers as independent artists. The challenge sounded like the perfect antidote to my post-tour blahs and something to keep me busy over the winter months, so I signed up and cracked open the book to Chapter One: Setting Goals.

An amazing thing happened: as I worked through the weekly assignments I discovered I became more active and interested in clarifying the direction of my career. Instead of grumbly waiting for someone to swoop in and discover me, I knuckled down and got to it myself. Nine weeks later – after delving into a variety of topics such as how to better use Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and the trusty homepage – I concluded that marketing with social media was… fun! And also effective as a series of tools to help build a solid, professional foundation for my music.

For this issue of Songwriter’s Magazine, Lily Cheng (who was also one of my fellow blogging buddies) asked me to jot down a few things I learned by doing the challenge. Here are ten of them for your enjoyment, in no particular order.

(1) People love a good story. Talking about what moves you to curiosity about the world is much more engaging than hearing that you just released a new album. Everybody has just released a new album. You, on the other hand, are the only one with cool insights on how to make homemade soap using the flowers you picked by the side of the road. The fact that you made the soap in your tour van while driving to a festival in Kamloops is what makes the story gold. [Woah, that would be neat.]

(2) People also love a good picture. Simple tip: add visuals to your posts wherever possible. But not clip art. That’s just lazy. Check out wikipedia for interesting archival photos. Do word searches on google and see what comes up. Having said that, it is REALLY important that you make sure not to steal someone’s work. You hate it when someone downloads your songs from fileshare, right? Same goes for visual artists. Make it a habit to ensure the image is available for use under a Creative Commons license. [For more info: check out] Better yet, create your own images, photographs, videos and add those instead.

[Ed. note: Er… um… yeah. I’m breaking my own rule here by not posting any photos in this blog entry. But I’m trying to evoke the feel of print media here.]

(3) When posting an update on your blog or website, remember that some of your readers will be new to you and your music. Every entry you post will be the first thing that someone somewhere somehow stumbled upon while cruising about the web. You don’t have to rehash the minutiae of your birth place and musical upbringing, but it can be a good idea to provide some context for your post. I’m fond of including a one or two sentence summary along with links to previous posts at the bottom of each entry. This helps to familiarize your reader, and discourages them from bouncing away because they are confused.

(4) On the other hand, sometimes brevity is best.

(5) There will be technical difficulties. This will usually happen on the day of an important deadline, ie: your internet will cack out at the exact moment you need to upload one final image before sending out a newsletter to your mailing list about tonight’s last minute show you just got invited to play. Moments like this, I have learned, can provide the perfect opportunity to dig your teeth into larger existential questions of human frailty and frustration. They are also good times to refill your coffee mug and have a quick stretch on the porch.

(6) Your website is your home. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are your local cafes. They are excellent and necessary platforms, and great places to run into fans and friends. But cafes come and go, whereas at the end of the day with any luck your house is still standing. So don’t forget to spend time making your website awesome. Remember, too, to invite people to visit by creating posts on your website, then linking back to them from your status updates and tweets.

(7) Similarly, don’t be shy to ask people who take pictures and videos of you at your shows if you can have digital copies of the files to post on your youtube channel, eg, separate from their posts. As long as you give a person proper credit, they will likely be delighted to be included by name on your team!

(8) Speaking of feeling part of the team, take a moment to remember what it felt like when you fell in love with a favourite artist. You wanted to be connected; you wanted to be involved. Now that you are the artist that people are falling for, enjoy the interactive nature of online media! Let people connect. That’s the social in Social Media.

(9) Oh boy, this is a long list. Did I mention that it can be good to be succinct? For example, there is nothing cheesy about the 15-second pitch. (“Hi, I play [genre of music]. I sound like a cross between [well-known artist] and [well-known artist.]”) Some people feel boxed in by the “sounds like…” stuff, but it goes back to the idea of providing context. Please be more creative than my example, but keep it short and evocative. If you’re not sure what you sound like or what your strengths are as an artist, ask your friends and fans to help you out.

(10) Finally, and perhaps my favourite discovery while doing this blogging challenge: social media can give you an amazing sense of empowerment as an artist. You don’t have to wait for Billboard to write an article about you. If you have something to share, you can put it out there yourself. Create your own narrative as an artist, and maybe one day Billboard will pick up on the buzz. Maybe not. But regardless, you will still be actively engaged in doing your work. This is especially a good lesson for me because I admit that I am an approval junkie. I want people to like me… nay, love me and my music. Who doesn’t? But this desire for approval sometimes causes me to be passive: the hope that a “musical authority” will lift me up and validate my work. The brilliance of social media, and in particular blogging is that it gives you the ability to define your legitimacy as an artist on your own terms.

If you’d like to read more about the challenge, including my forays into the philosophical, check out my weekly entries from the challenge right here on my blog.

Pop by my website for a visit too:

Karyn Ellis moved from Parkdale (Toronto, Ontario) to the foothills of Cariboo Mountains of British Columbia in the winter of 2011. Now she lives by a river and two creeks writing playful, bittersweet indie-folk songs about every day wonders, beauty and hope.


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Interview with Justina Smith


Turn on images to see a photo of Justina Smith and me

At Robson Valley Music Festival
Photo by Doug Koyama.

I met visual artist Justina Smith at Robson Valley Music Festival two summers ago. She was sitting in the outdoor dining area ~ beside her on the table, a book brimming with notes and sketches and other fascinating bits of paper. We hung out together over lunch, and I discovered she’s a very cool cat. Since then we’ve kept in touch, and I’ve been following her work through her website:

When it came time to decide on artwork for my new album, I knew I wanted to commission an artist to create original paintings for the cover and insert. Justina immediately sprung to mind. I asked her, and she said yes… hurray! We are figuring out the design now, so it will be a month or two before I have a sneak preview to share with you. Meanwhile I thought it would be fun to introduce you to Justina Smith and some of the other folks who are the creative sparks behind the new album, More Than A Hero.

This past week, Justina and I had a virtual sit down over email to talk about her work. Justina Smith lives in Edmonton, Alberta.


K: You often paint animals wearing quirky expressions and / or human clothing. These are some of my favourites in your web gallery, and they first attracted me to your work. Where did the idea for those portraits come from? Is there a concept/meaning you are setting out to express with them?

Turn on images to see Clad In Plaid, a painting by Justina Smith

Clad In Plaid by Justina Smith

J: The anthropomorphized animals were actually inspired by my friend who happens to be a tattoo artist. He had given me the idea of animals in suits and so I painted some….and when people saw them, they loved them. I had a blast painting them so I started painting them in a variety of other clothes too…plaid shirts, lace collars, madmen style dresses. I like to challenge myself to paint new things, so I think about what animals I HAVEN’T painted yet…and then paint pictures of those. I have a little series planned for Christmas of animals in vintage hockey gear. I’m pretty excited to start on those!

K: How does a painting start? What sets off the spark of an idea?

Turn on images to see Open Cupboard, a painting by Justina Smith

Open Cupboard by Justina Smith

J: There are fewer things that DON’T spark ideas, but my inspiration comes from all over. Paintings I see in galleries, lyrics from songs, silly things I think of while on a dog walk, conversations with friends, or random people talking to me about my work and saying things like: “hey….have you ever thought of painting…….?” I have a book of ideas (the Great Book of Art I call it. I’m currently working on the 2nd edition) where I sketch things out, keep color swatches and palette samples and I also have an idea wall in my studio. It’s quite literally a wall that is slowly being covered by bits of paper with tiny sketches and notes on them. Most of the paper is bits of scrap from the chit printer at the cafe I work at. I tend to jot down an idea that comes to me while I’m working and then hang the little paper on the wall when I get home, so I can paint it later.

K: What’s the most unusual painting you’ve been commissioned for?

J: The most unusual commission to date? I guess it would have to be a painting I did of a dude’s old Chevy truck and vintage motorcycle. They both had the same off white/teal paint job, and he commissioned me to paint a picture of them on the same canvas. It got me interested in painting pictures with older vehicles in them… it’s not so strange now, I guess.

K: How about the coolest location you’ve found yourself painting?

J: I painted at my sister-in-laws wedding this past summer. Just in my watercolor travel sketchbook. But it was very cool capturing the moments of the ceremony as they happened. The finished sketches turned out awesome, and she loved them too.

K: If you could do a portrait session of your biggest hero (living or dead), who would it be?

Turn on images to see Sunflowers And Crates, a painting by Justina Smith

Sunflowers And Crates by Justina Smith

J: My biggest hero? Goodness! Creatively, I guess Emily Carr. I love how she painted how she wanted to paint….despite the lack of enthusiasm for her work in her hometown of Victoria. I admire how she would camp out in the BC coastal wilderness alone with her animals so she could paint and sketch and be immersed in the things she loved most…. the quiet and the trees…. the largeness of the West Coast. I love her writing and her painting. She was a double edged sword, that one!

K: We met two summers ago at Robson Valley Music Festival in Dunster, British Columbia; Doug Koyama pointed us out to each other, saying we looked like twins. Hahaha! It seems from reading your blog that you are often adventuring around from festival to festival with your sketch pad. Does that mean you a music fan? Would you say you feel camaraderie more towards musicians or other painters? How do you see music and painting linked together?

J: I have just started going to music festivals in the last 3 years. So far I have brought my sketchbook to the RVMF and the Edmonton Folk Festival. Like any trip I take my sketchbook on….it helps me capture the moments of the trip in a very tangible way for me. I see things better when I’m focused on drawing them. I always listen to music when I’m working in the studio. I either have my itunes up, or am listening to CBC radio 2 or CKUA. I have quite a few friends that are artists or musicians or both. I love hanging around creative people and environments of all types. Creativity begets MORE creativity….and for me, inspiration for painting comes from seeing and listening. For me, painting and music are firmly linked. For some of my other creative friends….even more so as they paint AND play instruments.

K: Sooooo… what’s your favourite colour? :)

J: My favorite color changes all the time. Right now, my favourite paint color is naples yellow. It’s a color that mimics low sunlight at this time of year. It’s beautiful. My favourite color to wear, is green. My favourite shoe color is red and my favourite dog colors are rust and black. (Rust for my golden retriever, Gershwin…and black for my border collie mix, Luke)

K: Sweet or savoury… which one and why?

J: Sweet AND savoury! Rose lemonade! Lime and rosemary macaroons! Pumpkin ale. Maple & bacon….in anything! Why choose? There are so many tasty options that involve BOTH!

K: Oh yah, you’re totally right! Yum! Okay, one more question…

K: If you had one super hero power, what would it be and why?

Turn on images to see Magpies In A Study, a painting by Justina Smith

Magpies In A Study by Justina Smith

J: Superhero power…..hmm…..the power to freeze time. Sometimes cool things happen to fast for me to draw them, or inconveniently I’m driving and seeing something cool whizzing by….and it’s happening too fast for me to capture it on paper properly.

K: That would be awesome! :) Thanks so much for sharing your time and thoughts in this interview, Justina. I’m excited about the new paintings!
Check out more of Justina Smith on her website:


This is the first interview in a series introducing you to the amazingly talented people behind my new album, More Than A Hero. Support the making of the new record… CLICK HERE to find out how you can Jump In ~ Be A Backer! xo Karyn


Filed under Interviews, More Than A Hero, Music

This Is Not A Boring Day

Sometimes the astrologers DO get it right.

I am currently at the Vancouver airport on a three-hour stop over en route to Toronto. Sitting outside the terminal, on this brilliantly sunny day flipping through The Province reading the comics, doing the sudoku puzzle, checking out my horoscope…

Turn on your images to see a photo: "This Is Not A Boring Day"

Friday we start rehearsals, and Monday I go into the studio to spend the next couple of weeks finishing up the tracking for the new album!!!!! There is a dreamlike quality to entering the recording process. After months of writing and prep work and requisite administrative to-do lists, I ought to pinch myself that in less than a week from now, I will be standing in front of a microphone articulating my emotional reaction to the new creations.

And even though I am severely underslept… a bi-product of my loathe-to-pack that kept me up until 3:30am last night… Yes, I AM feeling alive! And, yes! I’m loving the experience!! I should head back to that newspaper and get caught up on politics, on religion. Or maybe I’ll just read my book, The Piano Man’s Daughter by Timothy Findley, and enjoy the foreign country he has created inside the written word.


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Attention all Cowhands! Shooting Star is posted.

Yes, folks. That’s right! The latest addition to my Homemade Music Video Project (number four) is up on my youtube channel.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may recall earlier this spring I invited fans ‘n friends to send in video footage inspired by my tune, Shooting Star. In fact, you may be one of the people who sent stuff in. Hurray! Over twenty people were involved in creating the shiny, awesome footage you see in the finished video, which I edited together to become the latest addition to the Homemade Music Video Project.

There are horses, dancing, shooting stars, cowhands, cowbells… even a cardboard trombone! Enjoy! I for one felt many moments of teary glee throughout the editing process. Huge thanks goes out to the following shooting stars: Tania A, Laurie, Washboard Hank, Diane, Oscar, Bella, Talya, Joanna, Gautam, Guido T, Conny, David, Leslie, Tania S, Shannon, Andy, Kat, Jay, Ken, Guido O and Sonia!

And now, I present: Shooting Star: Homemade Music Video Project #4


Here are a couple of earlier blog posts about the making of Shooting Star:

Here are the Shooting Stars! [Photo Gallery]
I Want You To Be My Shooting Star. (Call for submissions.)

You can also read more about the Homemade Music Video Project here.

And why not Subscribe to my Youtube channel while you’re at it!


Filed under Music, videos

Yo Ellis…

Q: Haven’t heard from you in a while. What are you up to?

A: Back in BC after an amazing Ontario tour and a few days at the Rooster recording studio working with Don Kerr on the new album.

Now I’m here on day two of the Artswells Music Festival in Wells BC. The town is bustling alive with people, and music spilling out from buildings and people sitting on various patches of grass. I’ve removed myself from main street to chill out for awhile before meeting up to play some percussion and do some singing on Dave Newberry’s set at 8pm at the Tempest Church just up the street. I played at that venue this morning; the acoustics were amazing. It is gonna be fun to sing a little “Rock Bottom” and bang on the tambourine tonight.

Yesterday marked the ending of an amazing four day songwriting workshop, which was also held here in Wells. Dave Bidini and his band (Don, Paul & Kevin) were our trusty and brilliant facilitors/teachers. 18 writers + Dave and co. spent 7 hours a day in a room hanging out with a bunch of freshly written songs… teasing them apart, getting at the meat of the tunes. (Thus the need for the chill out this afternoon.) I am *deeply* inspired to challenge myself to craft better songs whenever/wherever I can. During the songwriting course I finished a new tune called “More Than A Hero”. Rock ‘n Roll! And definite album material. I have already had the opportunity to try it out live twice in front of Artswells audiences, and the song seems to be well received.

“If Harrison Ford had been on board
On the day you threw your keys out the window.
And if Johnny Cash had hid your stash
Would you have needed to make a crash landing.
Or would you still be flying?

I think it’s gonna take… more than a hero
I think it’s gonna take… more than a hero
I think it’s gonna take… more than a hero
I think it’s gonna take… more than a hero
to save you from yourself”

I also started writing a murder ballad (of all things!) this week about the daughter character “Lavinia” in Shakespeare’s play “Titus Andronicus” (Shakespeare’s most maligned play, and a terrible tragedy. Not sure I even dare read it. So I’ve been Cole’s Notes-ing it on the internet.) The tune is spooky, and I love it. I’m thinking I need to finish it because it would be a fine addition to the new record.

Q: Yo Ellis, are you ever going to finish that Shooting Star video any time soon?

A: Yes! Next week I finally have a breather from touring and recording and festivaling. First thing I’m going to do is sit down and edit that sweet little babe. Till then, it’s All things Artswells! See yah. xo k.

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“Uh oh!” [Video]

Link to youtube video of Cymbal Playing Monkey on Taloola's Cash Register

My heart leapt a little (okay… a LOT!) when I saw this cymbal playing monkey on the cash register at Taloola’s Cafe in Windsor Ontario. With the exception of a tap-dancing miniature pony, could this be any better a fit with Shooting Star?

Brian took this short video before our show last Friday night. For the rest of the tour every time one of us smiled or cracked a giggle, the other would turn and ask “Monkey?”. You can bet that was the reason why… resulting in several shuddering, guffaw meltdowns. (Speaking of meltdown: did I mention we were touring around Ontario in a non-AC Honda Civic during this huge heatwave?! Yes folks, some looooopiness occurred.)

I seriously contemplated going back the next day and offering the cafe $100 if I could please PLEASE keep this monkey! (Taloola folks, if you’re reading this… well, um… just saying!! ;-) )

PS, Monkey was fine in the end. Had a dislocated shoulder that, I was told, happens from time to time.

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Here are the Shooting Stars! [Photo Gallery]

Yesterday the last DVD arrived with footage on it for the Shooting Star video. Okay, I can tell you right now this is will be AWESOME FUN editing together the stuff that came in. The creativity and sense of wacky is GORGEOUS! Since it is probably going to be a few of weeks before I have a chance to finish the video, let me share with you readers some snap and screen shots from the submissions. A little taste of why I am so excited about this project! :)

Starting with… David F. from Thorold and his crew from Lake St.Peter (Ontario), who were the very first folks to send in footage.

Turn on your images to see: David, Andy and Leslie Cowpokin' in Lake St. Peter, Ontario

David, Andy and Leslie Cowpokin’ in Lake St. Peter, Ontario

Not only that, but I found this familiar face included in the files David sent me. Washboard Hank heard about my project through David I presume? – here he is… wearing full bells ‘n whistles!

Turn on your images to see a photo of The one and only Washboard Hank winding up.

The one and only Washboard Hank winding up!

Turn on your images to see another photo of Washboard Hank and his (cow) bells and whistles.

…to play his (cow) bells and whistles.

Next came footage from Guido T. & Conny S. This may have been the furthest footage traveled to get here – all the way from Dusseldorf, Germany! (Later, you’ll see a submission from Solingen, Germany too. I’ll have to double check the distance in google maps.) Here is an example of horse power not only under the hood, but behind the wheel too.

Turn on your images to see: Pony On The Autobahn (With Fuzzy Dice)

Pony On The Autobahn (With Fuzzy Dice)

A few days later, I received a memory stick full of footage from Toronto. Tania, Diane, Oscar, Shannon, Bella and Ken scripted several colourful scenes… an entire song’s worth… filmed them in a park in their “one-horse-town”. The memory stick included on-the-set photos too. Here are a bunch, starting with some shots of fabulous artwork by Oscar.

Turn on your images to see this drawing of a Sky Full of Stars!

Sky Full of Stars! (by Oscar Sza)

Turn on your images to see the drawing: Blazing Trail of Star

Blazing Trail of Star! (by Oscar Sza)

Turn on your images to see Chalk Drawing

Chalk Drawing (also by Oscar!)

Here is the whole gang (minus Tania, who is behind the camera.)

Turn on your images to see Parade in the Park

Parade in the Park!

Some close ups of the feature actors:

Turn on your images to see: Giddy Up Horsie Ride

Giddy Up Horsie Ride ~ Shannon & Bella

Turn on your images to see: With that awesome hat, Ken could also be called Oblio :)

Ken! (who with that awesome hat could also be called Oblio :))

Turn on your images to see Diane On The Set of The "One Horse Town"

Diane On The Set

Then I received this lovely postcard in the (e)mail, It’s from Guido O in Solingen, Germany…

Turn on your images to see: This was taken last November when I played there at Tom Bombadil's in Solingen

This was taken last November when I played there at Tom Bombadil’s in Solingen.

Next, Kat Leonard sent me some fabulous footage of her dancing around the stage one afternoon (By the way, Kat & I were co-participants in the blogging challenge I did this winter!). Here are a couple of screenshots:

Turn on your images to see: Kat Dance #1

Kat Dance #1

Turn on your images to see: Kat Dance #2

Kat Dance #2

Then Tania A. sent me some cool abstract footage of stars being lit up by a spot light and also a short clip of a pinwheel spinning. Here are some still captures of the shining stars:

Turn on your images to see: Tania's Glowing Star #1

Tania’s Glowing Star #1

Turn on your images to see: Tania's Glowing Star #2

Tania’s Glowing Star #1

A few days ago I received the penultimate submission from Laurie in Lilloet. That’s right folks, we’re home on the ranging with a bonafide cowgal and horse. [And yippee-yi-yeee, I used penultimate (meaning: second-to-last) in a sentence!]

Turn on your images to see: Laurie and her horse

Laurie and her horse

Turn on your images to see: It's to the range she's bound!

It’s to the range she’s bound!

Turn on your images to see: Beauty!


Yesterday I received the last submission. A delightful scene in which Jay F. dances around in his hallway. He also included this still photo on the DVD:

Turn on your images to see: Jay Showing Us The Words To Shooting Star

Jay Showing Us The Words To Shooting Star!


UPDATE: July 2012
Luckily for me, I’m a dawdler. I still hadn’t edited the video by the time I started my tour of southern Ontario this summer, so I was able to receive one last submission. After a fine and fun House Concert in London Ontario, I was talking with my host – Joanna – about the video project. She showed me the amazing, sparkly footage of her daughter, Talya, dancing with an aunt at a wedding. I asked if I could include it in the Shooting Star video, and she said yes! :-)

Screenshot from the HMVP Shooting Star video featuring Talya and her Sonia Aunty

Screenshot from the final video ~ Talya and her Sonia Aunty!


And there you have it! Horses, dancing, shooting stars cows and cowbells. Sheer awesomeness. Thanks again, I am so thrilled with what was sent in! And I can’t WAIT to see how it looks once everything is edited together.

So give me a few weeks here… I am thinking of editing the video while I’m on the train traveling across Canada in early June. [Aside: Once again I am taking part in VIA’s OnBoard Musician Program playing music on board in exchange for passage. Pretty sweet deal! When I’m not playing shows, eating or staring out the window at the prairies, I’ll let the rhythm of the wheels on the track evoke the gait of a horse. Hopefully inspiring some good creative editing.]

Okay. Give me a few weeks to post then. Till then… Wishin’ you far! :)


Filed under Music, Photo-of-the-Day, videos, Writing

Hopping Back On The Ol’ Hobby Horse

Random Thoughts Buzzing Around My Head Right Now

A bit of downtime happening here in my personal blogosphere. Maybe it is a much needed rest after the mara-blog-athon of this winter’s blogging challenge, where I lived and breathed this place. Although I am definitely proud to be crowned winner of the Canadian Social Media Blogging Challenge, turns out a girl needed a breather come spring.

Maybe it is the lulling effect of this gorgeous, warm weather we are having this May. Right now I can hear the chirp of birds echoing through the forest behind my house. (I can also hear the buzzing of mosquitoes waking up from their winter slumber. Less chirpy, that sound. *sigh*) But other than the bugs, wow… it has been stellar these past few days.

On the other hand, it could be the result of all the non-blog writing I’ve been doing lately. I seem to be existing in a vortex of deadlines for grant proposals, cold call emails and other administrative blah blahs. Ugh. In fact ~ ladies & gentlemen ~ right now I should be finishing up another proposal that is due this Friday – I am hoping for travel funds to return to Europe this fall. (Fingers-crossed please!) But, alas. I am not writing that. I am writing this.

Images of Mosquitoes

You could also look at these as bird food.

I know there are plenty of words out there / in my brain, but sometimes sitting in front of my laptop type-type-typing depletes me. Ever have that sensation? It is a weird, hollow feeling, and I simply cannot string two words together. Marshall McLuhen’s Medium is the Message. Maybe staring into a lightbulb (aka my computer screen) for hours is turning my brain to mush. A moth drawn to flame… zaaaap! (How meta… writing about how I’m having trouble writing!) What I really need to do is to stand up, step out into the yard and rub my feet into the freshly mowed grass. Reading a book and/or listening to music helps too.

Speaking of reading, I have been sitting outside on the front deck of my house catching up on my friend’s blog about her coast-to-coast bike trip across Canada. A gift to herself on her 40th birthday, she started out in Ucuelet BC two weeks and a half weeks ago and as of yesterday she had reached in Castlegar BC. Lucky for us, she has been diligently (and hilariously, in an understated sort of way) documenting her travels. I am inspired by the hugeness of her adventures! If you like bicycles and courageous women, you can follow Kate’s journey too by visiting her blog here:

Image of a Hobby Horse

Hobby Horse Fact: “Baron Charles von Drais patented the hobby or dandy horse in France in 1818. The hobby horse was a forerunner of the bicycle and was introduced into England in 1818 by coachmaker Denis Johnson, who took out the British patent.” No pedals. You propel it with your feet.

My bike’s still in Toronto, so I will only be hopping on the ol’ hobby horse figuratively today. Instead I will tear off my socks and go for that toe-hugging coolness of the grass that I mentioned earlier. Clear my brain. Get this darn proposal written…

PS, if you yourself need a little dose of chirping birds chirping, here is a lovely 9 1/2 min. video I found on Youtube through a random search. I didn’t upload this, but it sounds close to what I’m actually hearing (a little more rambunctious, perhaps.) I thought I’d share it with you to give an idea of what my day as been like so far and so that you can have a breather too!

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Caribou Salt Lick

Turn on your images if you want to see a photo of some Caribou

There is a herd of about 20 caribou that at certain times of the year live in the woods along a very narrow strip on the Barkerville Highway. This is near Wells in British Columbia.

I am told the caribou feast on lichen – that they are delicate nibblers of the wispy tendrils hanging off the evergreens. Every once in awhile you catch ghosts of them whispering through the trees.

But yesterday… there they were. Four bucksome caribou hanging out in the middle of the road. Licking salt, I presume.

Not playing music or writing songs, not emailing or being social online. Just licking salt.


May 16, 2012 · 12:43 pm

Here’s A Pretty Ribbon On That Blogging Challenge Wrap!

I logged in to Facebook early last week to discover the little earth icon in the navigation bar all lit up and a roll of “congratulations” in my newsfeed from fellow bloggers. And that, my friends, is how I found out I won the Canadian Social Media Blogging Challenge that I took part in this winter. Woo hoo! Social media in action.

I Never Was a Prom Queen, But…

Image of Two Bathing Beauties With Prize Cup

Imagine the trophy is a dozen roses and the hat is a tiara.

Given my love of all things shiny and my diva-esque nature, I immediately pictured myself among Pageant Queens accepting a bouquet of nailpolish-red roses in my arms, grinning cheek-to-cheek. Less Courtney Love, but still mascara running down my face** as I tearfully accept my sparkling tiara and sash ~ blowing kisses to the countless readers who have made my blog what it is today!! **This from the fact that the challenge was based on the book: Music Success In Nine Weeks!

Hahaha! But seriously, I am super glad I took part in the challenge, and I am honoured to be selected as its winner… thanks Songwriter’s Association of Canada (SAC) and thanks Ariel Hyatt for putting on this first ever Canadian version of the Music Success In Nine Weeks Blogging Challenge. A most excellent way to spend the start of 2012. And as it turns out I didn’t even have to wear a bathing suit to win the fabulous prizes.

Queen For a Day, But This is No “Royal We” Here

I’d like to send warm fuzzies out to my fellow participants for doing the challenge with me (with a special shout out going to Lily Cheng, who not only blogged with us but also facilitated the challenge. Thanks Lily!) We spent a concentrated nine weeks tackling topics and tasks related to social media. Collectively we set up a pretty substantial Canadian corner of new Facebook & twitter music accounts. We got comfy with Youtube and rss feeds – and then we blogged about it so that our fans could join us on the journey too.

PS Speaking of Youtube, you should totally subscribe to my channel! I started a “Homemade Music Video Project” during the challenge: my goal is to make homemade, no budget videos for all of my songs. Me editing them and everything! (There are three so far and more on the way.) Other fun stuff you can do: sign up for my mailing list, follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook. Hurray! Phew… is that… it?

Sixty of us started back in January. Out of that emerged a core group of about twenty singer-songwriters who stayed in to the end, supporting each other through the weekly to-do list. We had (and in fact still have) an active Facebook group where people shared their successes and their challenges of the business and posted information and support for each other. Several genuine friendships started through this challenge that have extended beyond the end date. I still pop into the group quite regularly to see what everyone’s up to and to soak up some extra love when I’m feeling out of sorts with my workload. The DIY model says we are autonomous in exercising creative and administrative control over our work, yes. It is also clear that the “social” in social media truly drives us humans. We need connection and community to thrive.

Vintage Photo of Three Bathing Beauties With Ukelele

Maybe that is one of the reasons blogging is so perfect in this day and age of friends & fans spread out across the globe. An artist’s blog is personal and self-directed and, yet it can be highly interactive too. Online connections are sometimes maligned as shallow, and for sure there can be a Pollyanna-ish-ness that can drive me nuts sometimes. However it seems to me that online relationships when properly nurtured can be pretty darn real too.

The Take Away

As songwriters, we are all-the-time creating narratives for ourselves and others to sing. But when it comes time to write ourselves into the world… that same creative glean can get muddied. (Okay, this might be a “royal we”.) One of the biggest take-aways for me from doing this blogging challenge was the shifting away from an emotional space of passive want: hoping someone will “discover” me [my music] and moving to that of an active space. Blogging is active. It is constructive. It is also relatively inexpensive to do. As a bonus, blogging is creative. You don’t need a record label or Billboard approval to share your thoughts and your work. You just need to trust in the strength of your creativity and your ability to connect. That, and a bit of time to jot it all down.

The Other Take-Aways

… are pretty awesome too! I look forward to talking with Ariel about the ten-week Cyber PR campaign. Can’t wait to find out what’s in store once my music goes out directly to her network of bloggers and podcasters. Will my work connect on that scale too? Thanks, Reverbnation, for their contribution to the amazing prize list, too. And I’ve already had a skype meeting with Dave Cool of Bandzoogle to discuss building a second website for my little indie record label, since I’ve already got (come visit!) I’ll let you folks know when the new one is up and running too.

Okay. Now… THAT’S a wrap of the blogging challenge. But, folks, you can be sure my musings will continue on. If you’re reading this somewhere other than on my blog — Letters To My Editor — do pop by for more posts. You can also subscribe while you’re there to get my upcoming posts directly in your inbox.

Till next time!


Missed the original postings? Here is the complete set of links to all nine weeks plus a pre-challenge warm-up:
Warm up: Does Anybody Ever Win These Things
Week 1: What The Mayans Can Teach Us About Setting Goals, Or…
Week 2: Hold the door, this elevator is going up!
Week 3: Home Sweet Homepage
Week 4: Social Media and the Theory of Everything
Week 5: Music Videos Are Not Dead! They’ve Just Gone North For The Winter.
Week 6: I’ve Looked At Blogs From Both Sides Now
Week 7: Poor, Poor Baby
Week 8: How much IS that doggy in the window?
Week 9: And That, Folks, Is A Wrap!


Filed under MSi9W3, Music, Writing

Hey, guess what?

I WON the blogging challenge! Sweet! And prizes too! Read all about it here:

(Not sure what I’m talking about? Click on WRITING > MSi9W3 in the navigation bar. It’ll take you to a week-by-week blog about the challenge.)

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And, so, um…

Ever had one of those days when you just don’t know what to say…?


Filed under random, videos, Writing

One Minute Moment: Always Nice To Get a Friendly Send Off When You Go On Tour

Busy these past few days sending out emails, booking a tour in Ontario in June/July and sending out early feelers for another European tour at the end of the year. Got me thinking about one of the very first times I went out on the road… the thrill, the glamour of setting out on day one.

Found this 60-second clip from a tour that Ann Vriend and I did in 2005… 2006…? We are on our way to Sudbury!! Um… after the bank, after Long and McQuade… and after fanfare from friends and friendly arm waves from the guy on the roof!

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I Want You To Be My Shooting Star

You still got time to show us yer cowboy!!!

Speaking of videos…. you may recall the idea for my Homemade Music Video Project is that I want to make videos for every song I’ve ever recorded / will record! (As many as I can, anyways!!) I’ve finished three, and now I’m thinking about what to do next…

Image of Running Horses

Grab your video cam / camera phone / iPhone or whatever way you have of creating moving pictures… and I want you to film yourself singing along with my tune “Shooting Star”. You can be as simple or as extravagant as you like! Costumes are great! Miniature ponies… well, you know how I feel about those. YES!

Then send your footage to me by May 1st! Once I’ve collected enough material, I will edit it together to make the coolest video ever!!!

You can either send the footage to me via dropbox by sending me an email to Or, you can stick the files on a DVD and mail it to:

Karyn Ellis
4025 Barkerville Highway
Quesnel BC V2J 6T8

(Let me know by email if you’re sending it to me this way so that I know to look for it!)

***Important Note***, before submitting be sure to click here to read and indicate you agree with the TERMS OF USE! (to make sure we’re on the same page about how I’m going to use your footage.)

A Couple of Tips:

  1. Your footage doesn’t have to be super pro or anything, but do try to make it the highest resolution you possibly can.
  2. Remember to use the sun or set up lamps so that we can see your lovely face!
  3. If you’re going to sing the song in your shot, play the tune while you’re filming and sing along to the track… that way your mouth movements will line up during editing!
  4. Don’t be afraid to move the camera closer to you.
  5. Be silly. Be serious. Dress up! Or just be yourself.
  6. Save the footage as .mov or .mpeg (or any file type that final cut pro x can deal with is groovy.) If you need help figuring out how to transfer files, you can try this page: Importing personal photos and videos from iOS devices to your computer (apple support) (I’m not much of a tech wizard myself, so if that doesn’t work, best to ask a buddy.)
  7. Speaking of photos, you can send a bunch of those too!
    • Dressing up like Kareoke Cowboys and singing along with the tune
    • Animated sequences
    • Singing puppets
    • Lasso-ing and juggling acts
    • Panning across a sunset landscape
    • Sitting in your kitchen drinking coffee
    • Sitting in your kitchen playing guitar
    • Group sing-a-longs (especially in the “you’re just what I needed” part)
    • Recreate the Ed Sullivan Show
    • Miniature ponies!

Click here for lyrics and a downloadable version of the song (feel free to set the price to 0.00 for a complimentary download.)

The more footage the merrier, so please share this call with your friends. Don’t feel like you have to send in tons of footage… even five seconds would be great! But please try to limit your submission to five minutes (one, maybe two passes of the song). It’s just me editing this stuff, and I want to have enough time to watch and pick from everyone’s submissions.

Oh my goodness. Typing this out, I’m getting more and more excited by the idea. My dear friends, get filming!!!! How cool is this going to be?

XO Karyn

PS, Having never tried anything like this before I anticipate there will be some interesting technical glitches along the way. Let’s help each other out as we figure our way through. It’s going to be tremendous.

PPS, Did you read and agree to the terms of use yet? Remember: Before I can use your footage, you need to CLICK HERE to read and indicate you agree to THE TERMS OF USE!


Filed under Music, videos