Tag Archives: music blogs

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 www.karynellis.com (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!
Karyn

*****************************************************

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!

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Interview With Andrea Ramolo of Scarlett Jane

I met Andrea Ramolo when I played a show she was co-hosting in Parkdale, Toronto a couple years back (more about that series – Ladies in Waiting – in the interview below.) My first impression of her was that she was a total firestarter! Fun-loving, enthusiastic and at the same time, very focused on her music. She was heading out the next day for another dazzlingly large number of tour dates in support of her debut album, “Thank You for the Ride”.

To describe her music, I snagged this great quote from her website: “Musically, she’s been described as the antidote to too much Joni Mitchell, a tougher Dolly Parton a sexier Janis Joplin, but Andrea Ramolo has a soulful and sultry sound that’s all her own.”

Photograph of Andrea Ramolo

K: You’ve been called a “tireless road warrior”. A quick glance at your past tour dates, and one can see you’ve pretty much been everywhere in Canada! Where did it all start? What initially inspired you to make albums and take your music on the road?

A: I became really serious about music after a pretty intense career as a dancer and actor.  I was a later bloomer.  My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer while I was in university and I had just gotten out of a really long relationship so I picked up my dad’s old guitar, more out of therapeutic necessity… and started learning and writing my own songs.  Singing and storytelling have always been a big part of my life.  So the transition of becoming a songwriter happened pretty organically.

At the time, I worked at the infamous Orbit Room in Toronto owned by Alex Lifeson of Rush and really developed a close kinship with the incredible musical talents that came through there.  I learned about life on the road and life off the road, while sharpening my craft and writing more of my own songs.  And after another heartbreak it all sort of came together pretty quickly.  I needed to record my songs… and I had a plethora of talented musicians at my fingertips, so my first recording experience was fantastic.  

I released my first indie solo album in 2008 and wanted other listeners besides my friends and family to hear the tunes.  I wanted to play and to travel and get more inspired.  And so, I booked my first east coast tour and since that, I’ve pretty much been living out of a van for half of the year and travelling coast to coast and playing for audiences of 5 and audiences of 15,000.  It’s been quite a ride.

K: Sounds like it! How many shows *do* you play a year?

Image of Andrea Ramolo's CD artwork: The Shadows And The CracksA: Well I’ve released two solo albums- one in 2008 and one in 2011 – and within that time frame, I probably played around 150-200 shows a year.

I kept myself really busy.  It was almost like a self-imposed boot camp.  Living out of a van was not easy.  I like comfy beds and showers.  Most of us do.  But concentrating on nothing but music for 6 months straight, morning, noon, and night and playing almost every night of the week in a different town kicked me in the butt and really helped me evolve as a writer and performer.  It also gave me tons of material to write about.

I am just about to release my third album… this time with a project called Scarlett Jane with my good friend Cindy Doire.  We’ve been writing and recording and getting a team around us, so I have actually been pretty stationary since the fall, which is very new for me.  I have itchy feet and I don’t know what to do with myself half the time.  But I’m lucky to live in such an incredible city.  There’s a great scene going on in Toronto.  Scarlett Jane is going to be hitting the road in May and June, then doing the Home Routes Concert Series in the prairies in the fall before we head off to Mexico and Europe for some shows.  

K: What’s your favourite part of being a musician? The music? The touring? The fans? The lifestyle? The schedule?

A: Wow.  It’s everything really.  The music is the impetuous for it all of course… and it’s what sort of helps mould the lifestyle or the schedule or the touring.  I love being on stage with other musicians and sharing in creating something all together that moves people in one way or another.  I like collaborating.  And I feel more at ease on stage than I do in many social settings.  I also love songwriting.

[Songwriting is] painful at times and I find myself lying in the fetal position trying to come up with the best possible way to communicate this or that… musically and lyrically.  So it’s challenging and puts you in a very vulnerable place… but it’s so rewarding.  I also love all the beautiful strange misfits (like myself) who flock to this sort of lifestyle.  The night owls, who’d rather sing you a song than waste time talking about the weather, so to speak.  Life makes more sense to me in music and in songs.  And I feel like you can really get to know people intimately through their music.  It’s so revealing.  I guess I’ve always been a revealer… and one who is drawn to those who feel the need to reveal.

K: You and I met at Ladies in Waiting, a cool weekly music series that you, Cindy Doire, Sarah Burton, Faye Blais, and Sara Fitzpatrick created and ran in Toronto. I loved how you organized it: each show featured you and the other ladies trading off hosting duties depending on who was in town and / or away touring. And then you’d bring in special guests to play one off shows, with a focus on showcasing women musicians. That series seemed to act as both a bonding space for that community of women singer-songwriters and a homecoming for you whenever you were off the road.

A: Ladies in Waiting ran at Not My Dog for over a year every Monday night.  Monday became the new Friday and as you mentioned, all of us ladies, who are dear friends and supporters of one another, brought our new tunes to showcase.  What ended up happening was that we would all end up on stage with one another, singing impromptu harmonies, playing percussion, and just having an amazing time.  It was a great playground for trying out new material and jamming with new musicians.  And we developed quite a steady following.  We’ve had so many female (and some male) guests over that year, I can’t even remember them all.  Samantha Martin, Kayla Howran, Jadea Kelly, yourself of course, Trish Robb, Jenny Allen, Mel Brulee, Kristin Sweetland.  Man we know so many talented beauties.  

K: And speaking of creating / bonding, you mentioned earlier that you and Cindy Doire have started a new band together called Scarlett Jane.  How did that project come about? What was the inspiration for the name?

A: Cindy and I have been friends for years.  We fell in love with singing with one another the first time we met and over the next while, we’d write songs, guest on each other’s albums, team up for double bills, do short little tours when we had the time.  We were finding that we wouldn’t see each other for months and months except when our ferries criss crossed over the Atlantic, or when we’d plan to meet in the prairies for a coffee while we were on the road driving in opposite directions.

We’ve always had many of the same musical influences and the same sort of thing cranks us.  So it just made sense… and we’re really excited about the album and thrilled with the outcome.  We originally called ourselves Calamity Jane to allude to the dark country/folk noir sort of vibe that the new songs took on.  But we discovered that there are a few bands by that name around the globe… so we tossed and turned for months and really liked Jane but not on it’s own.  We are roommates so we would lie in bed and send phone messages to each other late at night with band name ideas.  It was driving us crazy.  Finally… we came up with Scarlett Jane and it stuck.  

Photograph of Scarlett Jane

Cindy Doire and Andrea Ramolo are Scarlett Jane

K: You and Cindy are both well-known for strong abilities and leadership as solo performers. What’s it been like working together as a band?  How do you deal with creative decisions? What’s your writing process like together?

A: We really work as a team and discuss any potential decision at length before jumping into something. We push each other as well… which is needed sometimes when you’re your own boss.  We actually have a great thing going and communicate very openly with one another.  We’re not always going to be on the same page with creative or business decisions… so we share our opinions, argue our points, and then end up coming to a consensus in the end.  We have our own process and it works for us.  Creatively, we’re of the mind that we write better together than apart.

And songwriting can be a very sensitive endeavour. Like with anything else, we’ll both create and share ideas and lines and melodies, etc… and eventually we put it all together and fine tune it.  Our debut album ‘Stranger’ was written on a writing retreat we forced ourselves to go on in Mexico.  Quite painful, I know. We had a blast.  We finished the album on a retreat in a cabin in the woods in Northern Ontario and in our apartment in downtown Toronto.  The songs came together really quickly because both of us had been saving tidbits of inspiration from our time apart.  And it was all perfect timing.  We both were mourning break ups and it’s really easy to create when you’re feeling so lost and low.  It kind of just pours out of you.  So it did.  Lucky enough we had each other to fall apart with, so it was easier to get back up.  The buffet and open bar at the resort in Mexico made it a bit easier as well. 

K: Cindy Doire is another fabulously seasoned touring aficionado. You mentioned Scarlett Jane will be hitting the road soon?

A: Yes.  We have about 40 dates booked across Canada commencing after our Toronto release show at the Dakota Tavern on Thursday, May 10th.  We’ll be touring with a full band out west and then as a duo out east.  We’re also doing the Dauphin Country Music Fest and Mariposa among Home Routes Concert Series and a few other great shows this summer.

K: You’re previewing your debut Scarlett Jane record “Stranger” on March 15th at the Dakota in Toronto. What can we look forward to with that show?

A: Unfortunately the album is not packaged yet.  But we’re really excited to showcase our new tunes in a great little spot with our new touring band.  We’re also shooting a simple single camera live music video that night.  The show starts at 10pm and tickets are $7 at the door.  We have Ryan Weber of the Weber Brothers playing piano, Justin Ruppel playing drums, and Greg Cockerill (whose band will be closing the night) playing lead guitar.  All members were involved to some degree with the album recording.  

K: For those of us outside of Toronto, how do we get our hands on the new album?

A: ‘Stranger’ will be available via our new web site www.scarlettjane.com, as well as on iTunes.  We’re not certain about who will be physically distributing it at this point, but I’m sure there will be other ways to get your hands on it.  And of course, my favourite way to sell albums is right off the stage after a live show.  CD’s make a great souvenir.  We’re also going to be re-releasing the album on vinyl at some point.  All these exciting plans.

K: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me, Andrea!

Lightening round: If you could bestow a superhero nickname on Cindy, what would it be? What superhero nickname would she give you?

Well… we sort of have these pseudo names. Hers is Bindy Boychuck… I forget where it came from. Mine is Audrey Rogers because I was once introduced and brought onto the stage at a show in Vancouver as that. I’m not quite sure how that came out of Andrea Ramolo, but I guess the initials are correct.

K: And finally… which time change do you prefer: Spring Forward or Fall Back? Why?

A: I’m one for moving forward so spring forward all the way.  I feel like I have so much more energy when spring is near.  I feel healthier and I really enjoy being outside.  Cold weather tends to keep me indoors and gives me a bit of the blues.  I crave sunshine and people out on the streets. Today was a gorgeous day and the sidewalks were so colourful.  

K: Lovely! Good luck with your show at the Dakota on March 15th and with the launch of your new Scarlett Jane album!


VISIT Scarlett Jane’s brand new website to hear music & find tour dates: www.scarlettjane.com

VISIT Andrea’s website: www.andrearamolo.com
FOLLOW Andrea on Twitter: www.twitter.com/andrearamolo

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Filed under Interviews, Music, Writing

Poor, Poor Baby (Wk 7)

I’m not going to lie to you. This week was a crash for me emotionally. I have been on a relentless pace since starting this Music Success in Nine Weeks challenge seven weeks ago. And I think the 16-hours days are finally catching up with me.

It’s been quite a ride. From the moment I took this challenge on, I have been inspired… nay… rushing to do the million and one things I have been meaning to do for AGES. Indicating, perhaps, one of reasons I put them off before now. There is just not enough time in the day to do all the organizational things I want to do and still play music. Instead, there are huge learning leaps with just about everything I’ve been taking on these past two months – redesigning/updating my website, making a music video, becoming a regular blogger and social media broadcaster and so on and so on. And when you’re an all or nothing gal like me, “all” – like the internet – is an ever growing universe.

What A Rollercoaster!
I thought this week would bring me a little rest. Make space for more music making. The task: look at ways to incorporate our mailing list into our social media plan. I have had an email list going for several years now. It is a healthy size, growing slowly but surely over time. I love that I can chat informally with fans and friends via my newsletters, and it’s always a gift when someone replies to me directly. I thought I would do the simple task of switching service providers to one with a few more cool features and a better sign up form — something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. And spend the rest of my week doing some prep work for my new recording.

Simple, right? All I had to do was (1) migrate the list, (2) write an email from the old platform saying “we’re moving” and (3) write an email from the new platform saying “we’ve moved”. Done, and onto the good stuff.

But nooooooooo. Technical difficulties abound!!!!!! It’s like I sat down to write a note on a piece of beautiful, crisp stationary, and I couldn’t find a single pen with ink in it anywhere in the house. I won’t bore you with more details of what went wonky, but let’s just say that instead of taking an afternoon, it’s been three days now of fussing with templates and broken links and blah blah blah. I’m finally ready to send out my note, and all the wind is *fffoooooooop* knocked out of me.

It’s time to throw myself a five-minute pity party!

Here’s what I do when I’m feeling low. When technical difficulties overwhelm me. When a new song I’m writing fizzles out after a verse and a chorus. When I get passed over for a festival spot or an award nomination. When I learn that that grant proposal I spent a week a half writing didn’t go through… when I’m feeling sad and alone in the world and quite certain that nobody gives a s*** about me or the arts… that’s when I call on a little “Poor Baby” time.

If I can call a friend with a sympathetic ear, that’s especially nice. But even if I can’t cuz it’s 3 am in the morning, and nobody I know is awake… I can still give myself a “poor baby”. Moan and bemoan all the choices I’ve ever made in my life. Woooaaaaaah!

You should try it too. Yes, I mean it. Whatever your loss is. Throw your fists up at the sky and wail “whyyyyyy meeeeeee?” Cry and gnash your teeth as you say “It’s not faaaaaair.” You are five years old… you are where the wild things are… you are having yourself a good old fashioned melt-down. Then, pat yourself and say, “poor baby”.

Rail out: “it’s not fair, everything sucks!”, then murmur softly “poor baby.” Don’t try fix anything, and don’t let anyone else tell you to buck up and quit blubbering. For five minutes, don’t compare yourself with anyone else in the world or with any one else’s sorrow. Just keep repeating “poor baby” until the sadness and frustration start to subside. After that, eat your supper. Maybe, just maybe you’ll be able to get on with the pleasures of living.

Yo Ellis, Get a Grip

I don’t care if it sounds self-indulgent. I don’t care if it’s “childish” and “irrational”. And I don’t care if it makes me a softie. Cuz what’s exactly what I want to be… soft. I don’t care if it sounds way out of proportion… a whole lot of poor baby over the small matter of a mailing list snafu.

It may be a simple exercise in improving the flow and delivery of my newsletter, but sometimes the smallest things become an existential crisis. When I’m nose-deep in technical problems, how quickly the questions rise up about my value as an artist: Are my songs any good? Do I have what it takes? How long can I keep up this pace? Does anybody really care enough about my music to make all this drudgery worth it?

That’s when I need to be kindest to myself. Like a mama rocking her fretful baby, her poor, poor baby.

Post script
Eventually I did get my list move sorted out. I even figured a work around for a glitch in the new platform (it wouldn’t let me add one particular link to my email in the way I wanted.) I have written the notes to let subscribers know what’s happening, and hopefully not too many people will be freaked out by the change and unsubscribe.

And this week I even received a couple of nice music nods… my video for How The Tiger Lost Her Roar was featured on the Songwriter’s Association of Canada (SAC)’s homepage. And I was also named “Larrivee Guitars’ Player of the Week” on their Facebook Fanpage. Like I said, it’s been a rollercoaster.

Post Post Script
Oh yeah, and I suppose I would be remiss if I did not invite you to subscribe to my newsletter. So, if you’d like to get my newsletters filled with upcoming events, exclusive content and shorter versions of this sort of philosophical musing directly in your inbox, be sure to sign up! :)


Next week: “Creating a Continuum Program”.
Look for my next blog update Monday March 5th.

For more about the blogging challenge I have embarked on for my 2012 New Year’s resolution, see my earlier posts:
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

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Filed under MSi9W3, Music, Writing

Interview with Kimi Lyn Smith (Wk 6 – 4 of 4)

I had the pleasure of meeting Kimi Lyn Smith this winter through the Music Success in Nine Weeks blogging challenge. My ears perked up immediately when I heard her song “Only With You” on her website, and I decided to find out more about what she’s up to musically…

Photo of Kimi Lyn Smith with her Guitar

KE: I love the song that’s up on your website, “Only With You”. It’s super catchy! I can hear Aimee Mann, KT Tunstall and Fiona Apple for sure. Is that an original tune?

KLS: Thank you so much! Yes, it’s an original, it’s one of my songs that has more of an alternative rock edge to it. Some of my other songs are more acoustic-instrument based and a bit more complex than this one.

KE: And it’s a demo for an upcoming album of yours, right? Tell me more about that project. Where are you recording it? Is it your first album? How can we get a copy?

KLS: Yes, it’s my first album and I’m recording it in my bedroom, but I have musicians based all over the world playing on it too. The wonders of the internet! Making the album is a fun process but it can’t happen overnight, so I plan to release at least one single before the album is complete. I’m still looking for more musicians to play on it, as well as someone to professionally mix and master it. As for getting a copy, anyone who’s interested in knowing about my future releases, including pre-release material like free mp3s, please do sign up for my newsletter via my website.

KE: You mention in your bio that you have done some co-writing. Who have you done that with? How did that/those come about? What was the process like?

KLS: I’m a big fan of co-writing. I love the magic of creating something that you or the other person would not have created on your own. I’ve always been open to collaborating. I even started a monthly co-writing and song feedback event called London Songwriters when I lived in the UK. It’s still going strong under the same format. I’ve met collaborators through that as well as online or down the local pub to write with.

The writing process is different every time, for example, sometimes I’ll sit alone in my room and write music to the lyrics someone has emailed me. Other times I’ll be in a room with one or more people and we’ll discuss the concept before experimenting with the various elements that make up a song. I find it fascinating when people play me a song they’ve finished when I’ve supplied only the lyrics. The beauty of it is that the situation and the outcomes are always variable when you’re writing with other people. I’ll be including at least two of my favourite collaborations on my album.

KE: How does the UK fit into your story…I notice you’re taking pre-orders in pounds!

KLS: After high school I decided to spend “a year” in France. Fast forward through 15 months of baguettes and cheese and I was ready to leave France but not ready to end the adventure. Fast forward through 15 years of living in the UK and I’d had a lot of great experiences and met a heck of a lot of musicians, and I was ready to go home at last. I relocated back to Toronto in 2011, soon after completing a Masters Degree in Songwriting at Bath Spa University.

Photo of Kimi Lyn SmithKE: What is the first cover tune you learned? Do you still play it?

KLS: It was ‘Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You’ from my late uncle’s Zeppelin guitar tab book. I wasn’t just learning the song, I was also learning the instrument. That song taught me fingerpicking and some chords. Then I discovered drop-D tuning and learned a bunch of Soundgarden and Nirvana songs by ear. After that I just wrote and played my own songs on guitar. No, I never play those cover tunes anymore. At open mics I like to play my own material.

KE: Very cool. So, I met you through an online blogging challenge that’s all about getting our heads around social media as artists. What motivated you to take on this challenge?

KLS: I joined the Songwriters Association of Canada shortly before I got back to TO, to make some contacts on this side of the pond. I found out about the challenge via one of their emailouts. It was coming up to the new year and I liked the idea of getting stuck into something structured to keep me motivated, plus I was keen to meet some fellow Canadian songwriters. I didn’t have huge expectations with regards to learning about social media. I felt I was already pretty savvy, but I was open to learning more – and by Jove, I have!

KE: And how’s the experience going for you so far? Social media: friend or foe?

KLS: I’m loving it. Social media is a wonderful thing. It’s crazy how small the world has become. The challenge is great because apart from meeting likeminded people, I’m learning about new platforms and various tips and tricks that interest me.

KE: One of things you talked about is about changing your stage name. Why did you decide to do that? How’s the new name feeling for you? I have to say I really like the name you picked: Kimi Lyn Smith. It rolls off the tongue!

KLS: I’d been going by Kim Smith but I felt it was too generic, so I decided to start using my full name, Kimi Lyn Smith. Apart from it not being the more common spelling, it’s pretty Google-friendly. It feels good to know I’m the only one out there. And now when I get a Google alert on my name, I know it’s about me and not one of the million other Kim Smiths. I still read the Kim Smith alerts every day though, I find it amusing to see what they’re all up to.

KE: What’s your favourite part of being a musician? The practising? The writing? The touring? The fans? The lifestyle? The organizing? The blogging (lol)?

KLS: I love being a musician, and I surround myself with other musicians, I think this is a pretty common practice. I see myself as a songwriter first and foremost, and a recording artist next. Though I’ve performed somewhat regularly in the past, it’s not something I’ve ever been wholly comfortable with. These days I’ll occasionally hop up onstage at an open mic to play a couple of tunes, but it’s not something I plan in advance. So for me, the best part of being a musician is the creative process. I enjoy writing and practising and recording. I love experimenting with production techniques and effects in Logic Pro. I’m always excited to delve more into the craft of songwriting. I don’t have to worry about getting gigs or compiling set lists or the rigours of touring. As for the blogging, I hope to develop my writing skills over time. My music is a big part of my self-identity and I’m happy being a slave to my creativity.

Photo of Kimi Lyn Smith with her Melodica

KE: I see that in addition to singing and guitar, you also play the melodica. Super fun! If you could magically know how to play another dream instrument, what would it be?

KLS: I would love to play the Hang. It’s a UFO-shaped descendent of the steelpan that you play with your hands. It’s a relatively new instrument and they’re really hard to get a hold of. I saw a guy playing one in front of the Abbey in Bath, UK. We had a chat and I bought his CD. I’d like to get my own Hang. I can see myself sitting alone on a grassy hilltop and playing it for hours and hours and just zoning out. Maybe one day!

KE: Sounds neat. I’m going to google it… ! One more question: rainy day or sunny day. Which do you like better and why?

KLS: After living in England for the past 15 years, I’ve got to say sunny. Despite the fact that one of my all-time favourite songs is ‘Only Happy When It Rains’ by Garbage, a little bit of sunshine sure does lift the spirits. And my Hang won’t get all rusty.

KE: Anything else you want to add?

KLS: Thank you Karyn, this has been really fun!

KE: And thank you for you time, Kimi Lyn! Good luck with the new recording. Can’t wait to hear it.

To learn more about Kimi Lyn’s music, VISIT www.kimilyn.com

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Interview with Sue Newberry of Sue Newberry & The Law (Wk 6 – 3 of 4)

I first met Sue Newberry a couple of years ago when we played a show together at the Spill in Peterborough Ontario (back then she was going by the moniker “Sioux Newberry”.) We spent a bunch of time together last summer – and dare I say we even became friends – when we were both participants in a four-day songwriting workshop at Island Mountain Arts in Wells, British Columbia. Dave Bidini led the workshop, and I forgot to ask but I bet Sue would agree with me that it was an awesome and fruitful experience. (An aside: Dave Bidini is facilitating it again this summer. For all you inspiring/aspiring songwriters, I highly recommend that you check out the IMA 2012 Songwriting Workshop.)

To describe Sue Newberry’s music, I love this quote that her brother David Newberry – a kick ass singer-songwriter himself – writes:

“I want to say that you sing pretty and powerfully, have a killer pop band that can rock, and are smart and poetic. I think thats a good set of messages to try and get across. Is ‘funrock’ a word? I hope so. It’s literate funrock. That’s what you do. Well.”

Photo of Sue Newberry Holding A Delicious Pie

K: Let’s talk about your name for a second here. What’s the story behind ‘Sioux’?

S: It was a nickname from a schoolmate many (15?) years ago. She spelled my name “Sioux” on letters we passed back and forth during class. It just stuck, and pretty soon my peers and teachers were using the spelling. When I was pursuing my university degree in theatre I found that the spelling of the name helped distinguish me in auditions, etc. After so many years I became really attached to the spelling and identifying myself with the pattern and the shape of the letters. It just made sense.

K: I see you are shifting over to Sue Newberry. How’s that going?

S: It’s such a small thing, but a big shift to make. I’m still transitioning all my online sites. I’ve never loved “______ and the ______” band names, but here we are. It seems to make sense for now.

K: Canada seems to have two distinct indie modes of music. Solo verses Band projects. Where do you sit in that dichotomy?

S: I sit in both seats! In the past I’ve played mostly solo, duets, in small projects. The last 3 years or so I’ve been fronting larger bands – our current band has 6 members. It’s super, and so interesting to me right now. I don’t write songs anymore for myself and my guitar, and instead start to conceive and write songs with a 6-person rock band in mind. Playing with a full band for the first time was like grasping the edges of my song and pulling it open, making room for so many sounds. For me, the band enables the expression of the idea and emotion of the song in ways that can’t exist when I’m playing solo. Lots of new challenges, but I’m loving the results.

K: What’s it been like working with a band? Have they been part of the writing process too?

S: We don’t have any set rules about how songs come about. Most often I approach a member of the band, or the band as a whole with a song I have written beginning to end, and we play it out, making changes as suggestions arise. We have tried writing or re-writing together as a group, but find it not as effective. I’m looking forward to continued experimentation.

K: We’re doing this social media blogging challenge together: a challenge that asks musicians to pull out their bullhorns and spend some (a lot?) of time digging into the marketing side of music. How do you keep yourself creatively engaged with your music while at the same time promoting it?

S: Deadlines! I find it essential that my creative time be structured in a way that has actual results in mind. Most of my songs come from a strong lyrical or melodic idea, and those will often come out of unstructured thinking or playing times, but the idea will wither out if I don’t eventually lock myself in a room and put the hard and frustrating work in of finishing the song. Deadlines are essential motivators for me, and for my creative engagement. That might sound backwards, but putting up structures helps me to immerse myself fully in a creative work time – or else the day-to-day will take over.

For example, I’m currently in-studio recording the last few songs of an EP that I started a while back. At the same time I’m working with a publicist, graphic designer, booking gigs, updating social media sites… it’s a very exciting but overwhelming time. I can honestly say that without set deadlines (such as a planned CD release) I would not have put in as much time as I have on my own and with the band over the last month doing the really important work at this time: getting the tunes together for this weekend’s studio session! (P.S. – I’m writing this after day one of recording — bed tracks are sounding great!)

Photo of Sue Newberry Playing Live

K: Can’t wait to hear it, Sue! So, you are smack in the middle of recording your album… that’s no light feat. Long days / nights that absorb most if not all of a person’s creative energy and care. And here you are doing this blog interview! Do you think self-promotion is a necessary evil of being an independent musician these days?

S: *laughs* I think it’s important for the artist have a handle on social media, and be up to date with how social media is connected to exposure, publicity, sales, ‘buzz’, etc — regardless of if the artist  is at the helm of promotion or not. An unexpected result that I started to find about halfway through this challenge is this: I’ve been spending so much time with the ‘other side’ of the music, which is the product that is being marketed (as opposed to the creative process). Somewhere amidst all the thoughts, research and action regarding self-promotion that has been dominating the last 6 weeks I’ve discovered and started to truly believe that the ‘product’ I have is actually something that is worth promoting. So in that way, it’s not an ‘evil’ at all – it’s a pretty great motivator. 

K: If you could delegate away one job as a musician, what would it be?

S: It can be really hard to let go of the reins when it comes to your own craft, and self-promoting that craft! I’ve been working at it, though, and seeing the benefits. Things like mailing out CDs and press kits is an extremely time-consuming job that is better left to someone who has more professional contacts anyway, to yield the best results!

K: You mentioned you were in the studio this past weekend… you’ve got a new project on the horizon! Your album is coming out! Tell me a little more about it. What’s it called? Where and with whom are you recording it? How do we get our hands on it?

S: I independently released a solo CD in 2008, as well as a duet CD with my brother David Newberry (2008). Both albums were toured from Ontario to PEI a few times. You can get a copy of the duets CD here:

www.cdbaby.com/cd/newberryvsnewberry

My upcoming 6-song EP is my first full-band project. It’s under the band name “Sue Newberry & The Law” and is a far step away from the folk/country/roots sound of my first two albums. It’s taken me a long time of playing, writing and touring to start to hone in on my specific strengths as a songwriter and performer. This new turn toward an more indie-rock-pop sound is feeling good with my writing style and voice. I’m really excited to be a part of a team project and we’re really looking forward to the release and tour. CDs will be available online this spring. Our website is currently under re-design and will be launched shortly before the CD release. “Like” our bandpage and you’ll be sure to hear about how to get your hands on a new CD!

www.facebook.com/siouxnewberryandthelaw

K: You’re doing some tour dates around Ontario this spring with your brother who’s also a musician. Sibling rivalry or revelry?

S: Revelry, in accordance with the specific definition:
rev·el/ˈrevəl/ [verb] Engage in lively and noisy festivities, esp. those that involve drinking and dancing.

(Here’s a list of their upcoming tour dates in Ontario.)

K: Awesome ~ a dictionary definition! You’re a gal after my own heart, Sue. And now a few random questions: what’s your favourite mode of travel? (Bus, train, car, plane, boat, bicycle, skateboard, luck dragon?)

S: I’ve been taking the MegaBus lately from Toronto to Kingston for TEN DOLLARS. Double decker! That’s been pretty sweet. I do enjoy (non hwy 401) driving. But all that is behind me now, since I’ve switched to travelling via Luck Dragon. It’s kinda like, our band’s “thing”.

Photo of Sue Newberry and The Law standing in an alley.

K: What are two lines from the cheesiest song you have ever written?

S: This question is awesome.

this glass won’t see me turn to stone
this face i see just can not be my own
this world around me can’t revolve
until all my problems have been soooolllllllllvvvveeedd
(courtney love growl-out ending)

K: Yeah!! What are two lines from the song you are most proud of?

S: Our song “The Law” on our new EP is a mysterious story about a hero running from the law… but why is she running? Lyrics are pithy and fun to sing. It starts:

If you believe what you read than I’m a
Sharp Shooter
but don’t be deceived, believe me,
I’m just going through some hard times
and don’t we all go through
hard times ?

K: Nice! You’re awesome, Sue. Thanks so much for talking with me. Good luck with finishing up and launching your EP!



LISTEN to the song: The Law
From Sue Newberry & The Law’s upcoming album.

Find Sue Newberry & The Law on the Web:
www.facebook.com/siouxnewberryandthelaw
www.twitter.com/siouxberrynew

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I’ve Looked At Blogs From Both Sides Now (Wk 6 – 1 of 4)

It’s week six of the blogging challenge. And since this week’s task is to look at the blogosphere itself… research and connect with interesting music bloggers and start getting word out about my music that way, I thought it would be fun to turn the task on its head and become a music blog for the week! I’m curious what it’s like from a blogger’s perspective to do music interviews and reviews. What are the questions they have for an artist? What makes a story, you know, *sparkly*. I also thought it would be cool to send a little love out by interviewing a couple of my fellow blogging challengees!

Photo of me working on my laptop

So earlier this week, I spoke with Tom Shea of Trio Arjento, Sue Newberry of Sue Newberry & The Laws and Kimi Lyn Smith to find out what’s going on their worlds.

Initially I thought I would post all three interviews today… a cornucopia of music and ideas for you, my faithful blog readers, to peruse through. But after chatting with each of these wonderful people and hearing their responses, I realizes that they each deserve their own day in the glow of the blog-sun. I will be posting Sue and Kim’s interviews separately over the next couple of days.

Today, may I present to you…
An interview with Tom Shea of Trio Arjento!


Next week: “Your Newsletter”.
Look for my next blog update Monday February 27th.

For more about the blogging challenge I have embarked on for my 2012 New Year’s resolution, see my earlier posts:
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.

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