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I am an indie artist - I write, produce and record my music on my own label Flower Army Records. Please remember that and purchase some of my music legally so I can continue making more of it - for you.
I've had a busy few weeks. The album is almost ready, it's being mixed, actually. Mixing is always so emotional and drives me crazy. All the weaknesses of the tracks become obvious, and sometimes you know exactly what needs to be done, while other times you are lost and are searching for the words in the dark, which must seriously frustrate my mixing engineer.
As I may have mentioned earlier, I sang a bunch of songs for Dragon Age Inqusition, which is a pretty cool role-playing video game. The songs were not part of the official soundtrack, but the fans of the game loved them so much, they kept asking the developers to release them separately. Lo and behold, Bioware, the game's developer gave in after a few months of the enthusiasm and is now releasing an official album:) There are ten songs. By the way, they just announced today that they are giving them away for free together with sheet music for two weeks, and also holding a fan contest. Get them HERE.
In the meantime, I filmed and recorded a couple of the songs I sang in-game, for your pleasure. The music and lyrics are by a good friend of mine, a very talented composer Raney Schockne:
And here is a song about a cheeky girl-warrior:
I had a fantastic show a week ago, here are a couple of pics:
So my birthday came and went, and now it's already the 4th day of 2015. Is it just me or time has sped up once again? I guess it's more important than ever to be mindful and present otherwise the time will just pass you by and one day you'll wake up, thinking: 'What is this? How did I get here? This is not the right place-person-house-country-job... what??'
That said, I have great hopes for 2015, but it all depends on me. Can I steer my ship proudly out of harbors into the open ocean? Can I navigate my way to the magical archipelago of Dreams? Well, you get the idea. No wonder I was obsessed with pirate and oceanography books when I was little. Life is travel. We journey through time and space, although in reality we may not be going anywhere at all. Some people need maps, others can do it by stars. Which one am I in the end?
In the meantime, I am working on the acoustic album once again, and it's almost finished. More on that and my collaboration with a really cool band on its first single later.
I am also almost done with my first Japanese language single, which is a duet. I know it took me ages, but I guess I am one of those people - I may not get to something for the longest time, but eventually I do get there. I suppose I am more of a tortoise than hare - a late bloomer.
Same thing with my Chinese effort - Odi et Amo in Chinese will be done and released by the end of this month.
Anyway, the good news is that I am going to post an acoustic video of an original or cover every week for the next couple of months leading up to the release of the acoustic album.
Here are the first two: Titanium (Sia + David Guetta)
I have loved this song for a while - it speaks to me in many ways, especially how much stronger I want to be in general. Titanium is also a very light material, you see - so although it's incredibly resistant, it's also not heavy, which is what makes it so special. Strength, but lightness of being - I have desired this state for a while now.
And here is Blank Space by Taylor Swift. When I first heard this song, I went immediately to check the lyrics to make sure I had not misheard. This song is incredibly dark, lyrically, It's about obsession and recurring destructive patterns of behavior. It's also about never really settling, not being able to fully engage, apart from the storm of initial attraction - and so you end up with a 'blank space' over and over again. The original is so upbeat that it's easy to miss this. I loved that too, since I also often couch sadness into jaunty melodies. Anyway, here is my take on it:
I got a little burned out and spent the last day and a half basically being a vegetable and watching a lot of Japanese animation. Yeah, I am a geek, what can I say. When I have time, I'll take good anime over pretty much any TV or film stuff. It's probably no surprise then, that my new version of Dreamer I just recorded in Japanese (live video to follow shortly) sounds like something from the opening credits of an anime.
I need to get back to work tomorrow and give it one big final push until Christmas and my birthday roll around in a week and a half's time.
The energy feels odd these days. There is a lot of tension in the air. It feels like systems and structures are either breaking down or are at their limits. There have been two big shoot-outs and hostage situations in the last 48 hours. Maybe I am also afraid whether I can live up to what 2015 has in store for me.
I am also worried about Russia and its economy. I feel terrible about Ukraine and where it's headed in 2015. I don't understand the glee I often encounter online, Twitter and Facebook when it comes to economical woes of countries. I don't find it funny when pundits compete with each other for the pithiest tweet on the subject. Don't people understand that at some level, *all* the rich and powerful of the world are always ok? It's the normal, regular people who suffer when a currency goes way down or when sanctions are applied. It's the old people who have to survive on their measly pensions - children who don't get proper healthcare or education - nurses and musicians who don't get paid - and so on.
I also don't understand blanket hate and derision. I don't understand when someone posts under my audio for 'Hero' a comment: "F**ck all Russians".
Anyway. I think it's time I took a long break from all news and internet-related things.
And here are a couple of videos we shot recently, when I was in the studio, recording.
This is 'Marshmallow World' - one of my fav Christmas songs:
We kind of went overboard with Santa hats, but hey - sometimes you just need to be silly.
And this is 'Silent Night', in Russian:
I am going to take a couple of days off internet and work on music. Enjoy and see you soon...x
I am writing this, while I am laying in bed. Southern California has been finally blessed by the weather gods and we got another storm, courtesy of Hawaii. The Pineapple Express is drenching the city and the L.A. river, for once, looks like a river. I am happy for the plants and the hills.
This was a long and pretty intense week, as I was also fighting off a cold. We shot and recorded a bunch more live videos, some of which will go up shortly. Christmas songs, yea. And others.
I recorded some songs on Dragon Age Inquisition (video game) and recently it's been fun getting all the positive feedback from the fans.
We also laid down some foundation for the official "Hero" video this weekend. Without revealing too much yet, this is going to be epic and so much fun. Hint: swords, storyboards, epic adventure and cloaks to be involved.
Here is one of the songs I sang for Dragon Age, by the way. It's quite fun and mischivious:
In any case, as I am writing this, the sun is coming out. I am feeling contented, although tired. There's a lot of work ahead before my birthday and the year's end. But I am feeling hopeful and accomplished. Hard work, passion and faith will get me there.
So, as a little heads up, I will be launching a brand new music side project soon. It's called Spy Satellites and it will be All Electro All The Time. What that means is that this will be my electronic music project. I am excited about it because it has a significantly different sound. We already have the first single in place, it's getting mixed, and we're looking to make a video for it very soon, too.
This morning I am rather grumpy because I dropped my iPhone into a cup of tea as I randomly woke up in the wee hours of the morning and was checking the time. Fingers crossed it will dry out and be as good as new - because it IS new - my old one was washed in the washing machine prior to my departure for Russia. I am never this clumsy, I have no idea what is happening.
I'll just choose to believe that something amazing is around the corner and this is a way to get any kinks out of the way. Yeah, yeah, I know. But I have to believe something other than that I have to get a new iPhone.
Last night's show in Moscow was very special. First and foremost, this was a great show for both myself and the guys. Secondly, this is my home turf - I grew up here. To perform in front of a few thousand people and win them over is something every artist dreams about, I suppose.
This was a proper way to finish off this year, so to speak. Now it's back to recording and focusing on music and planning for next year. My birthday is coming up, too.
The show in St. Petersburg was wonderful and terrifying. Wonderful because, well, any opportunity to perform my songs in front of many, many people is wonderful. Terrifying because I was having tech issues 2 minutes prior to my set, and then others IN my set. Fortunately they stopped. But having your microphone misfire in front of 8,000+ people is not something I care to do a lot unless I want to have an early stroke.
I am in Moscow now and it snowed a bit yesterday. Nothing to write home about, though. I was also fighting off an ear infection for a few days, and only now it seems like it's mostly gone away. I kept myself in denial about it because the last time I had one was when I was 11 or something - but after a couple of days of my ear being distinctly unhappy, I had to admit to myself there may be a problem.
All in all I pulled it off, but I am hoping to crush it day after tomorrow.
Also, I wasn't able to do my live broadcast with Bambuser because this train we took back to Moscow did NOT have wi fi. It was quaint and quite old and restored etc - but no whiff of wi fi anywhere. Oh well. I am thinking I should do it this Thursday before or after the next concert.
Yes, Thursday there's another big show, and it's a big deal for me - home turf and all - also quite a good way to finish up this year of Hero EP, touring Russia for the first time, releasing my own self produced project for the first time, all those things. To me, the year started last November when I was here and met with Bi-2 to collaborate, and then went to their huge show (at same venue we're performing at this week) and we decided to tour together.
A lot learned, a lot gained, for sure. That said, I am sitting here and as I am trying to be kind to myself in a 'good girl, you did a lot!' sort of way, I find myself failing and all I can think of is what I COULD and SHOULD have done, instead, how much MORE I could have accomplished. Oh well. I am also thinking about everything I should and must be doing NOW and this December. No warm and fuzzy holiday/birthday feelings for me this week, only thoughts of what I want to get done, recording and organization-wise.
Maybe it's something in the stars. Oftentimes, the feeling of my coming up short of my own potential immobilizes me. But now, I just become aware of what I need to do, and - although sometimes rather impatiently - I go and get it done.
Yes, it was a crazy, but rather good year. What did I learn?
Practice makes perfect.
Preparation, preparation, preparation.
Faith, discipline and courtesy.
Those are everything.
Oh and also laugh more. Appreciate others, let them know and give more of yourself. Nothing - and no one - is a given.
What's ahead? Music, music and more music. This coming year I want to travel, perform and live life to the fullest, without fear, without being stuck in my head. I feel like I am hatching, and maybe 3/4 out of my shell now. What's next? Maybe I'll just do my best and then see.
And for now, here's this: acoustic and a bit operatic;)
As to other things: almost finished with the Japanese EP, the Chinese recording - and the Hero full album has been pushed to spring, but as you can see, we are putting up more music and recordings in the meantime.
Dreamer has a Christmas version, too! Stay tuned...
I am sitting half dressed in the hotel room and about to get ready and go to perform.
I am in St. Petersburg. It is such a beautiful city, I wish I had a bit more time to go out and walk around. This city is very moody, though, even more than Moscow - right now the skies are gray, overcast and look like lead, hanging over the streets, really close to the ground. Anyway, usually I would still go out, armed with an espresso and brave the weather.
But I am fighting off a bit of a virus of some kind I picked up somewhere, so my energy has been somewhat limited. We came here via a night train. It left Moscow at midnight. It really is as romantic as it sounds, except there was no one special here to share my train compartment, so I drank my tea, listened to music in my headphones and stared out into the darkness, which pressed against the train windows.
After the show - I am opening for Bi-2 and then performing with them, as well - we catch another night train. I will try to do another Bambuser broadcast then. The train we took to come here had wi fi, so I am hoping this one will, too.
I also just posted a cover of a Russian song I love - it's called 'The Prayer" by Bi-2.
Hearts up on the roof
are breathing slowly before they leap
I can hear all your thoughts
All we care about has gone topsy-curvy
How can one say this, without breaking it, tearing it apart
We are a like a river, here for ages
like the words of a prayer
Everything, except love
our whole life - so far away
I am not alone
but I am no one without you
Ashes are light and weightless
you didn't notice the swift passage of time
the spell runs out and pearls become glass
How empty it is, on the inside
without mirages, without magic
We are here only for a moment
let it sound like the words of a prayer
Alright, so here is the window for Bambuser. I am planning on giving this a go and doing a live broadcast at 3PM PST, while I am on the night train, which is carrying me away into wide open spaces...