Well what a year it has been. So much done, learned, experienced. A lot of inner storms weathered - some more easily than others.
At the end of this year I am not at all where I thought I would be when I imagined it a year ago.
But I am certainly not the person I was a year ago, either.
I have performed, traveled, made videos, tested personal limits of all kinds, acquired new friends and fans, cried, laughed till my stomach hurt, sang till my throat could take no more, doubted myself, felt invincible, written new songs and then had to rewrite everything, including my life.
I have learned that there are no gurantees except personal inner strength and faith in what you can do. The only constants in life are your habits: good and bad. People will change, life will change, your body may decide it has had it and needs rest, but if you're alive on the inside and trust yourself, you can take any risk - with any outcome - and still come out on top, just because you took the plunge.
Fear may keep you safe for a while, but it won't save you from your own 'what ifs'.
I think I wrote a while back how sometimes it appears that different people are made of different materials. Wood, steel. Plaster. Stone. Put wood in the fire and it will burn. Put steel in the fire and it will get stronger.
But there is more to that. I believe now that we all 'transmute' over time. We change - sometimes back and forth - and you could have started out as steel, but when hurt or tired, you may become glass for a while, feeling like anything could shatter you. You hide and bide your time, but eventually you feel stronger and now you are not thin and brittle like the surface of a wineglass, ready to break at any given moment, but a sturdy glass door. You are ready to leave your safe cupboard and face the world. Maybe not go out into it just yet, but make yourself visible and vulnerable to a degree.
I often felt very brittle and rather fragile over this past year. I would rise up to challenges, but on the inside, my self doubt kept alive by finding ways to deny me the pleasure of achievement. I would tell myself: 'yes, I did it, but... I could have prepared more. I should have done better. I didn't do my best'.
Strangely enough, as many things fell away towards the end of this year, I feel the strongest I have in a very long time. I don't feel diminished by my perceived "failures", like I would have in the past. I feel - well, for the first time in a long, long time, I feel like I could be a sword. Steel. Or a rapier of a kind. Fine steel, bendable, but strong and sharp.
I am also the hand that wields it.
You see, life is dangerous. Living life as it should be lived, in my opinion, is dangerous. When you plan, hope, strive, you open yourself up to a giddy sense of freedom and possibility, but also to a chance that you will fail miserably. You could be broken. Shattered. Discouraged. But if you stay safe and never push your limits, you will never know what you might have been otherwise.
Today Los Angeles is cold and it started out being around 40 degrees farenheit this morning. Not common for Southern California, but I love it. It's crisp and I can smell wood burning somewhere. The sun is warming everything up. It does feel like the end of the year.
We are about to put my new Store page up on my website, and in the next few weeks you can expect a lot of Beatrix Map updates. The story goes on... 2013 feels like it will be an amazing year.
And as we passed through Utah a couple of weeks ago, we shot a very silly, but happy video to my Christmas cover of 'Marshmallow World':
Here is the complete demo of the French cover I have done recently, Ma Préférence by Julien Clerc. I wouldn't say that his style of music is very close to mine, but this is a brilliant song and I intend to make it part of my performing repertoire - I love the harmonic changes and the message. I am also translating it into English and Russian.
I added an intro from a classic French film (can you guess which one?) Hint: Gerard Depardieu is in it. Although, fair to say he is in almost EVERY French film of the recent 40 years. That man gets around.
Here is the translation, as promised. This is a very literal one because I didn't try to write something here that would be more poetic.. yet.. as in real lyrics, so it doesn't flow well at all, but it is good enough to get an idea. The actual translated lyrics, as I hear them in my head, would carry the message across, but would not be the same words...
I love this song and its basic concept that sometimes, contrary to popular thought, others do not necessarily see better or are able to judge more accurately when it comes to our own lives and who we want in them. Sometimes it's best to withhold judgment, because there may be something there we do not see or would not value for ourselves, and yet it is everything to another person.
The original of the song is about her. When I did the cover, I switched it to him, and I think it makes it almost even more poignant.
I know that you don't approve of him
and his way of showing that he belongs to me
you fall silent around us
and yet, I choose him
Yes, I know - this air of indifference that's his defence
It often offends you
But when we are surrounded by my friends made of porcelain
I know where his failure lies.
Yes I know - you don't believe that I can be faithful to him
and you are already speaking of him in past tense
But he really is what I want.
You should believe me when I say
that I am the only one who can tell when he is cold
he only has eyes for me
and incidentally, he loves my uncertainty
while I love his solitude.
I know that you don't approve of him
and his way of showing that he belongs to me
you fall silent around us
and yet - he is my lucky charm
I choose him.
He is what I want.
It is windy outside. i am hungry. I have been singing, writing, singing again, and now it's time for some British TV crime drama. Life is good. Next week I go to Russia!
On another note, I received an mp3 of elementary school recital performance of my song Dreamer: as performed by 2nd-5th graders. It seriously made my day!
So this is my cover of a Tears for Fears song. I do love them - I am going to cover more of their songs, but this is a start. I love this song's starkness and the intensity of the lyrics.
"Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down)"
I have been busy - finally on a roll and spending most of my time working on music, instead of moping or thinking of 'what ifs?' or 'if I had only' etc.
I pulled out some older songs and now I am adding bits and pieces to them - mostly vocal arrangements - but there will be others, like my first ever remixes and such.
I decided to do it in a semi-public kind of manner - my fans seem to appreciate being able to see the process. Perhaps some things need to only see light of day when they are exactly the way they should be - some songs are like that - but now that my actual record is out, I feel like *that* is the measure by which I may get judged - and so sharing things that are NOT quite perfect and are in progress is not only easier for me, but somewhat rewarding - working on music by yourself can get to be a lonely process.
Plus - I have so much music, so many songs, and so much material begging to see the light of day in one form or another. The old trick of announcing something so you create an expectation and a deadline for yourself does work. This way, when a song makes it out there and I announce that it is being worked on, in fact, now I *have* to do something about it. It is a good thing because it makes me finish things, rather than flit on to the next attraction.
Also, I am a perfectionist at heart. That means that oftentimes it is so easy for me to see/hear flaws in something I have made that just one more reason - and it will never see the light of day - or I will keep it back because something BETTER is on the way - or - well you know what I mean.
At this point in my life I am starting to see that some intelligent editing and holding back is certainly necessary - but I *have* reached a certain level of skill and quality. My songs, my music, my singing and other skills will always keep getting better with practice, time and persistent application. So holding material back because some day it will get so much BETTER - well, it was a valid reason five years ago, but not quite so much anymore.
Yesterday was a solar eclipse. A friend of mine who is a professional astrologer tells me it's a harbinger of New Times: letting of of the things that are no longer necessary or working in your life; situations that are holding you back, fears, even people who may no longer be your match.
I don't quite know what to make of it, but if it is true in any way I would like to welcome this new era with open arms. This time, instead of crying over my edition of Rilke's 'Letters To a Young Poet', I will be submerged in all things musical - whether at the piano, my computer, figuring out bits of new software for recording/arranging - playing guitar - mastering the looping machine (FINALLY!!!) - or wrestling down the Puccini aria I want to sing soon.
And I did a brand new cover! This one is a very subdued version of a Tears For Fears B side: Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down). I think I managed to imbue it with all the angst of the last few weeks. Perhaps it's best it stays there now...
This weekend I got to wear my Flower Boots. Yes. Perhaps I am going to make them a big part of this new era. Wouldn't you?
I am overdue on a number of things, one of which is calling my mom, who is in Russia. I miss her.
It has been a difficult time, emotionally. Perhaps it is time to turn to some literary friends I have acquired over the years. And so I do... to one man who is always with me, because of his words - well you guessed who it is:
..Love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away, you write, and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.
And if what is near you is far away, then your vastness is already among the stars and is very great; be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend.
Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.
Avoid providing material for the drama, that is always stretched tight between parent and children; it uses up much of the children's strength and wastes the love of the elders, which acts and warms even if it doesn't comprehend.
Don't ask for any advice from them and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.
(rainer maria rilke, Letters to a Young Poet)
I am learning a lot these days - about myself, my limits, desires and true needs.
The good thing is that the music is flowing freely - I have a full album's material's worth on my iPhone - and that's just my iPhone.
I feel like a phase is ending and another beginning, but I am still in between. It's not the most comfortable place to be, because I like certainty. But perhaps that's just it: learning to be in that place, with patience - that is the lesson.
It appears to me that many of the people I know are having a similar experience. Or perhaps, once again, I am just seeing the world through my own little private lens, that just so happens to be a bit foggy these days.
I am doing, however, some good work. There are some interesting covers in progress, as well as originals. I am also wrangling with software and cables. Eck! I hate cables. But, alas, they are necessary in sound engineering of any kind.
Here is a bit of a cover I am putting together. It is a French song I have loved for a while now. I think I'll do another version with English lyrics... well, I'll have to WRITE them first, but it will be a pleasure. And then I'll have to remix it for sure, it's too gorgeous of a melody, it has to go over beats, too.
It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living.
Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing.
That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream. And we don't know what it was.
We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens.
And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside.
The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it "happens" (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being.
And that is necessary. It is necessary - and toward this point our development will move, little by little - that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us.
It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them.
Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun's motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space.
Yes, that is definitely me today.
Mission for the rest of 2012 is to learn to walk a careful line between smugness and a sort of magnanimous noblesse oblige. And own it.
Yes I know I have been remiss in my blogging.
But you see, everything has been moving so fast. And not in one straight line, either.
In fact, my new hero of the day is Philippe Petit - whose brilliant talk I caught at the TED Conference (that one deserves a blog entry all its own) this past week. He is a tight rope walker and also a juggler.
February was one such month, where I felt what it may be like to be him. Ah, but you see, he chose that life and that rush of adrenaline. He willingly walked on a wire between the Word Trade Center Towers years ago.
Whereas I - well, I make music. All I want is to make more music. And I like peaceful life. Or so I keep telling myself, but the fact of the matter is: it is not necessarily true. And as much as I bemoan it sometimes when events go definitely south or even off the known map, I did choose this life. I chose a life of last minute opportunities, ups and downs, not-quite-coincidences, half-victories, bright lights, early mornings on the plane-fall-asleep-on-my-feet-is-my-voice-going-yet performances.
So there it is: the truth. I am an adventurer at heart.
And this week I get to perform at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, opening for none other than Sinead O'Connor. It is only now starting to sink in, as I am typing this entry, and I have not even packed yet - while tomorrow I get on the plane. I have to do laundry, do some sound mixing, run errands, pack, and maybe even sleep.
So for now - and I know it is a cop-out of the highest order - I am posting here my most recent email update I just sent out to the Elizaveta e-mail list. Please bear with me:) I will have plenty time to write on the plane...
Hello my dears,
It has been a pretty fast paced few weeks since the release of Beatrix Runs. And looks like it will go on that way for a while! If you are in the UK, I will be performing five concerts in the coming two weeks, opening for the legendary Sinead O'Connor. The links to buy tickets can all be found HERE.
But it doesn't end there. Come April, I will be on tour of the West Coast in the USA, opening for the amazing band James. We will be starting in Vancouver, and hit Seattle, San Francisco, Portland and others - 10 concerts in all!
We are also prepping for the official music video shoot for 'Meant'. I performed and recorded the exclusiveiTunes acoustic session on Valentine's Day, to be released in April, as well (with string quintet and more!) - and guess what! The physical release is also coming up! I am excited because Missy Washington of i102fly outdid herself in designing the amazing packaging, which will hold clues and a special map for the Beatrix story (as some of you already know, there is a story behind the record, which will be unveiled online in the coming months).
We are also working on launching the new and much improved interactive Elizaveta.com - also in the weeks coming up.
As always, I am doing covers and posting them for your viewing and downloading pleasure - like this cover of one of my favorite Irving Berlin songs, which we put to footage from the film classic City Lights (I am obsessed with Charlie Chaplin!). We just shot some great footage for Home Sessions, to go up on YouTube in the next two weeks!
Thank you, thank you and thank you for listening, supporting, commenting and spreading the word about Beatrix Runs! Please keep sharing the videos, covers and the songs!
Lots of love,
We are frantically packing up and jumping in the van. Yes, a van. I am so tired and completely bleary-eyed, but excited. Tonight I perform in New York City.
"Beatrix Runs" debuted at #24 on iTunes, and climbed to #16.
I have no words to express, really, how I feel. This album means so much to me and was crafted with so much love and care. I gave my everything into the process, and both Greg (my producer) and I really felt we made something special. And it appears that the world at large agrees with us. And it makes me want to cry (in the best possible way).
I hope the album will continue to connect with people and really get to fly. If you are reading this, please share the iTunes link (above) with your friends, loved ones, co-workers and classmates. After all, it's how the word gets out - not through commercial exposure or promotion. And I don't have those luxuries. But who needs them, when I have such listeners as you?
And here is something I did just before leaving for the tour - another cover. This is Irving Berlin's 'The Song Is Ended (But The Melody Lingers On).
Enjoy. I hope my melodies continue to linger on for a bit longer..