The four shows I played on the East Coast sold out. It was my first time in three of the four cities, and so it was a fantastic surprise.
I didn't get to see much of Boston - or Philadelphia - or VA, for that matter, because we were on a tight schedule. I was also sick when we left - and singing every night or so made it much worse.
Fortunately I only have another appearance tonight. I have to admit I am a bit exhausted right now.
Tomorrow we return to Los Angeles, and Monday I fly to Moscow, Russia, to perform at a private event. I get to spend one day with my mom after that, and return back to Los Angeles right away.
And then February 14th - session at Capitol Studios with string quintet! More about that later...
It appears that it's -20 celsius (which equals -4 Farenheit) in Moscow right now. I am trying not to think about that.
I am trying not to think about many things, actually. There is so much hanging in balance right now - my record's viability - my voice (yes my throat is not feeling great) - my ability to juggle everything, persevere and remain the calm and balanced captain of the ship... It is a little daunting.
But I tell you what: I have been receiving incredible messages and emails for the past week and going. It is really apparent that the record is connecting with people out there. And not only connecting, but inspiring them to speak of it to others. It is out in the world now, and it feels like it is now almost independent of me. It is almost as if Beatrix (the main character of the record's story) were coming more alive every day.
I have received an email from someone at the hospital, who was getting through a major injury and he wrote to tell me that my record was helping him through it. From someone else, whose elderly dad was going in for surgery. And many, many more.
And I received a fan email from China, written in strange but endearing English of someone who must have learned it through Western ads and commercial films, asking me for an autograph. The address was different, too - it actually included the room #, and the gate # - I couldn't help but flash back to the recent report on some electronics factories in China, where people live six to a room... But I hope not.
I will send that autograph when I return home.
All I can say to myself, I guess, is that when you are in the midst of an adventure, it never is a safe and cozy place. You can observe an adventure from afar, or read about it in a book - or watch it on-screen - but then you are not actively in it. The adventure of this year is only beginning for me, and if the rest of 2012 lives up to the past week, I will have to be on my toes and muster up all my strength, patience, endurance and imagination.
But - of course - the sense of wonder, as well: can't forget that.
It feels to me right now as if everyone is a bit more tense than usual. People are more easily offended, discouraged, angered and generally unbalanced. Is it just me? Or is the Year of the Water Dragon kicking in?
Happy New Year, everyone! I love dragons and I love water, so even if it might be sink or swim, I will keep singing, playing, writing, persevering - and steer my ship to the best of my ability.
So it has been a whirlwind kind of time since June, really.
We are in the process of posting the issues of Chronicles for September and October. So bear with us!
But here is the Very First One, from our trip to Chicago and Lollapalooza - Chronicles Issue #1.
You can click on it and expand it, by the way.
Designed by the inimitable Missy of i1o2fly, of course:)
So in the past month... I wrote two songs, got on a plane, flew to London, played two shows, flew to Madrid, saw my mother, walked up and down cobbled streets until I was utterly exhausted, flew back to London and then flew back to Los Angeles to play another show and then wrote another two songs. And followed up by producing & recording two covers, which we will post very soon.
Insert random naps and needless stressing out in between all of the above.
And now we are preparing for the release of the record. January 24th. 2012.
Photos, packaging, ideas, more songs.
Click HERE for info on Hotel Cafe December 1st and Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco for December 5th.
Oh - and Capitol Studios session with string quintet next month. It's for an exclusive iTunes release. To be filmed, as well. It is all acoustic, just me+piano+strings. What a treat. The footage and recordings will premiere around the same time as the record itself.
Here are some photos in no particular order - all taken by Missy of i102fly (except maybe the one of the croissant, but I could be mistaken):
Talented Allie Friend accompanied me on acoustic bass and he had great style, as well as a ferociously focused look on his face, while performing. We made a lovely pair, all in all.
Missy and I decided that we found our new motto for the Year 2012.
The beautiful Grande Dame of Morcheeba, who I opened for at Koko.
Our hotel was right in front of the Camden Lock. The only downside was that people kept partying until 530AM right underneath our windows. And singing. And drinking. And doing some more singing. And then crying and hugging each other, saying: 'it's ok, I am here for you, baby'...anyway, you get the picture.
And the most perfect thing in the world according to Missy and Myself. Every morning, in the local Italian cafe.
It was a whirlwind of a trip. We were only there for less than 48 hours. Missy, my art director, designer and 'everything' girl is starting to see how life of an artist on the road is pretty much defined by waking up at ungodly hours - such as, say, 430 AM to catch a flight at 630.
I am a morning person, so although I do sigh, I weather it a lot better than most would:) but Missy is not a morning person at all. Saturday morning had me filming her on my iPad, as she was struggling against the God of Slumber in her attempts to actually rise from the bed and become awake. It's a really cute video, but she is adamant no one will ever see it. I suggested it would make for great footage, especially with some suspenseful music thrown in for soundtrack. She was not too enthusiastic...
Anyway, I really liked what I saw of Austin. We did not get to see the bats, unfortunately, who apparently sleep under the bridge and swarm the skies around dusk. The closest to a bat we got was this plastic bat in our van:
As usual, Missy took a lot of great photos, and the issue of Chronicles will go up soon, although at this point we will probably combine it with my NYC trip/performances, which are next weekend.
I have to apologize for the delay in the publishing of Lollapalooza issue of Chronicles - but it has been such a hectic month and a half for all of us, with the shooting of the video, the upcoming release, performances and such, that we ended up running a bit behind on things.
It rained when we were there. Just a day before our arrival, my tour manager Abby warned us about the sweltering heat we were heading into... she even sent me a snapshot of weather on her iPhone, and it was all 96-98 degrees throughout the weekend.
Except when I arrived, an hour later it was sprinkling. After a refreshing rain, Austin was actually breezy and cool. Next day, I performed, and an hour later there was a thunderstorm. Bands were performing with umbrellas. But I don't think people minded so much, because this was the first rain after a months' long drought.
I singlehandedly took all the credit for the rain, of course. After all, it makes the flowers grow, does it not?:)
After running around in requisite golf carts, we were back at the airport, eating BBQ.
Another highlight of the festival: hearing Stevie Wonder's soundcheck. Alas, I did not get to see him do it, but hearing was amazing enough.
Did I ever tell you, by the way, that when I was 11, all I listened to, for weeks, was his 'Secret Life of Plants' record?
Here is the Team Flower Alchemist before I took the stage (Missy Washington, my art director, and moi):
Lindsey Green, who was the bass player, wore a perfect pair of Elton John sunglasses, and as you can see, we actually matched on-stage. I think I should take him on tour with me. But only if he wears those shades!
As I performed Saturday, people walking across the big, grassy field, kept trickling in, and when I lifted my head after a song, to look out, there were all these people gathered in front of the stage. It was a really special moment, because, really, it was the magic of music that brought them in. I felt like a real Siren, for a moment: making all those random sailors turn their ships (well, bring their folding chairs) towards my stage with the power of my song.
more pictures coming soon! In the E-Chronicles II.
hey, guess what? The record is donnnneeee!!
It was mastered yesterday.
I am in Moscow, visiting my mom. Right now, as I am typing this, sunshine is coming through the window, beckoning me. Clearly it's all about me, and I brought good weather to Mother Land!;-)
Stay tuned for more... I need to go hunt down some croissants stat.
Delta Airlines lost my luggage, too, but it arrived a day later, and was delivered to me, so all good things come to those who wait... including FULL RECORDS! Yes! It's a bit unreal, all this, although why it should feel so, I have no idea.
So as you may have gathered from one of my recent entries, I was going to collaborate with a lovely Chinese artist Sen. Here is her CD cover:
But no fear, she came down to LA for a couple of days and created a masterpiece of a Chinese lyric for my song Odi et Amo. And sang it, too! It sounded beautiful and gave me extra inspiration to keep learning Chinese (to be honest I have not been that good at it because my attention has been elsewhere).
Sen has an amazing voice, and her debut EP was produced by the brilliant Guy Sigsworth back in London. Actually it was through Guy that I got her contact information. And she is such a lovely spirit! And very, very talented. We had some fun communicating because my Chinese is non-existent, and her English is still in the learning stages. But she kept getting better and better! There is nothing more fun than having fits of giggles and using sign language over sushi, in my opinion. She did say that I was very quick at grasping the tonal nature of the language, as we both read through it, so hopefully it won't take me too long to learn the lyric and be able to sing it.
What I did not know was that unlike in spoken Chinese, the tonal nature of the language does not completely command the singing. What that means is, in Chinese you can have the same word, but depending on how you say it: with rising inflection, or falling, or -haha-rising AND falling, it becomes a different word.
However, with lyric writing, as apparently it should be done, ideally, if you write a Chinese lyric for an existing melody, you have a double job in front of you! Writing something that actually makes sense and works with the song, but ideally also pick the words that are by their tonal nature suited to the melody! So, if the melody is going up - use the rising inflection word, if the melody goes down, use the falling one... you get the picture.
Sen was very conscientious about the whole thing... she stayed up till 5 am to write the words, apparently:) And she wanted to do it the right way. As she informed me, very seriously, in a lot of pop music these days, writers slack off and do not follow the above rule. BUT - she said - the proper way of doing it is in matching the words to the melody, and that is how she went about it...
I can't wait to go visit Beijing now. If we lived close to each other, I think we would have become fast friends and collaborators. But thank goodness for the Internet! We are still going to collaborate. I have some very cool ideas, and I can't wait to take this futher...
Incidentally, as I was visiting her blog again, I saw that she posted the same pictures on there!
It is so lovely to make random connections that turn into these magical music and friendship moments. I look forward to many more.
Did you know.. when I was little I wanted to become a spaceship pilot? Obviously like a lot of kids. Then I got into diving and I thought being a deep sea diver on shipwrecks would be kind of neat. Especially on those with some sort of treasure.
As I found out shortly, when you dive those shipwrecks you have to give the treasure away.. hmm.. it can get a bit tricky legally. And it takes forever to get anywhere in a spaceship because, well, speed of light ain't that productive. So you never get to have any fun, really, because you're never going to get anywhere fun.
So, obviously, the only way open to my instant gratification-geared self was music.
It is hard for me to get perspective on things. I tend to focus on what I have not accomplished yet, and where I need to be, rather than where I am at the moment. As much as I have become much more of a 'glass half-full' person - well definitely more of that than your average Russian, I am sure - I am still very much a restless little Gypsy, always looking over that next hill.
The best way for me to gain perspective, without losing what I have, is traveling. I am guessing it is like that for many people.
Speaking of perspective, I came across this video below. I think it's pretty brilliant. I have at least two songs at the moment that speak of astronomy and mention planets, spaceships and constellations in some ways. Let's see: Orion, Gravity...hmmm...:)
And then there's always dessert - as big as an asteroid!
I think I may have had too much coffee this morning, while answering emails, and surfing the waves of the internet.
It is a good thing I don't watch television, because I do already have two addictions: one is coffee. The other is internet. The second one can take a lot of time and needs to be managed on day-to-day basis.
I am not counting music, because my relationship with it is long-standing and much too complex to be labeled an addiction.
London is gray today, the crisp sunshine of yesterday just a memory.
I have some music/vocal work to do, and unlike yesterday when I had meetings, today is quite open and free. And the grayness of the day is not really inviting me to go sightseeing.. so work it is. I brought a USB microphone with me, so productivity is on the menu. And maybe late afternoon it will be museum time. I have the British museum on my list, and there is a Paul Gauguin exhibition at the Tate.
I like the clip below. Although don't you think it's a bit emotionally manipulative? It's all so beautiful, crisp, aesthetically perfect. The kids and the old man alike. The landscapes. Doesn't it just make you want to grab a couple of wonderful Louis Vitton suitcases and set off on a trip? Mais bien sure! (perfect mate included, and everything incredibly photogenic).
But that is what commercials do, at their best, n'est ce pas? They insidiously provide an emotional and visual landscape to aspire to and measure reality against. That is why I do not watch TV. And I choose the films I see with care - or try to, at least, because sometimes I feel like visual fast food: doesn't everyone? But if I choose to be hypnotized, at least I like to pick the content..
There is frost in the air in ol' Blighty. Today is another one of those lovely - and very cold - sunny, clear days and I love it. The window of sunshine is rather small, and by 3 - 4 pm it starts becoming peach-coloured, hitting the roofs and brick buildings and painting everything in a slightly romantic hue.
I strolled down The Strand and took a circle around Trafalgar Square.
I started my morning with a lovely video I am posting below: it is a short anime, and a must watch. Pass it on to your friends. Somehow I think those who made it must have watched a lot of Miyazaki films.. It makes me think about the world around us we take for granted, and how every day should at least have a few moments dedicated to childlike wonder over the fact that we are here, alive, witness to so much beauty and magic.