I had an incredible couple of days and only now getting a little bit of rest. Next week I still have some vocals to finish for my Russian record and then I am off to London.
Joe's Pub performance was a grand time for me and it seemed to really connect with the audience, as well. It was sold out and people were so nice. I think I have become a better performer since the last time I sang here. New Yorkers are a tough crowd, they are very sophisticated and demanding.
I loved being part of the Prototype Festival. Unfortunately my buddy Timur the Tenor couldn't join me on the Odi et Amo duet at Joe's. I would have liked that because our performance at the LuEsther Lounge together was quite something. I think being paired up with another singer of an operatic background on a pop-ish duet makes me get louder and more dramatic/operatic than usual, and that it turn fires him up... and off we go into the stratosphere of vocal omnipotence;)
There are so many things I want to add to my live set, though. Electric guitar is going to become a permanent part of it, as I work on this in February, once I am back. Choreography...
But it's important to realize that I have come a long way as a performer in these last two years since the very advent of the first Beatrix Runs songs.
Before that I was in Portugal, and I loved it. I would like to go back. I love the sound of the Portuguese language. It is soft, hard, romantic but unpretentious at the same time. It is cozy. French is beautiful, but it's difficult and twisty on the tongue. Italian - my first love - is open, honest and gorgeous like a sunlit cathedral. Of course there are many dialects of Italian, too. Portuguese is like cuddling under a blanket with a loved one, knowing that there are tasty things to eat in the kitchen and the day is stretching in front of you, lazy and welcoming.
I performed in London at the Elgin in Notting Hill. Unfortunately, my throat was not great, and I started coughing mid-set. I was not sure I could go on. Fortunately for me, I had my magic tea with me, the crowd was supportive and kind - and I went on to do all the songs, even the 'big' ones.
Missy Washington, aka i102fly, made me a special little something to wear for this show:
At this point, I am waiting until tomorrow to see how I feel and if I don't feel better, I'll go to a French doctor and probably end up on more antibiotics. Let's hope not. But I have rehearsing to do, and a TED performance next week - Tuesday.
Right now I am working with a French stage visual effects wizard Cyrille Brissot. He and I are going to TED together and we're preparing something special for my show there.
Anyway, just a few minutes ago I got an email that my song 'Meant' will be featured on tonight's season premiere episode of So You Think You Can Dance. Wow! I will have to watch! Very excited. Over the past year I have received so many emails from people who used 'Dreamer' as their dance song - for recitals, flag routines - you name it. I do like that show a lot. Every time I have watched it I have walked away with a firm decision to take up dancing again. Er....OK, soon.
Unfortunately no celebratory glass of wine for me tonight. I have been sick with strep throat. Let me tell you: don't get it. I don't know how I picked it up, but chances are it was at the elementary school where we did our first Dreamer to Hero Art & Music Workshop a week and a half ago.
The workshop was done as a collaboration with my designer and art partner in crime Missy Washington of i102fly - she did the art portion of the event, while I did - guess? - the musical part of it, obviously. The kids were 8-9 years old and there were about 20 of them.
Halfway through the workshop I recorded the kids singing a part for my new song HERO. Yes, the one with the choir at the end. After that, Missy led them in an arts and crafts endevour.
Let me tell you: who needs high end gadgets or materials? She brought supplies from a Re-Use outlet and we made Superhero Machines from cardboard, discarded plastic, CDs, old packaging and other bits and pieces. The idea was to show them that sometimes even though you don't have the ultimate raw material/situation/resources to work with, you can still come out on top, be creative and come up with something amazing - and that applies to everything in life, in my opinion. The kids made some really incredible things and it was really inspiring to watch them.
We had a brilliant time and I can't wait to do it again. It was also filmed (by my friend Julien Lasseur), so in the next week or so we will post the video summary of the event.
Here is myself, two young Dreamers and Missy of i102fly.
A good time was had by all.
Speaking of the Choir for HERO: a huge thank you to all who submitted their recordings and videos. We had plenty recordings and the choir is sounding great! We may still ask fans for more videos, but we may be ok, too, we'll have to cut to song and see what happens. The best part about it is that for the first time I have engaged my fans in something active and something collaborative. It generated so much positive energy - I am definitely doing to do this again.
Later that week we also shot a little video for the acoustic version of a new song called Dragonslayer. The song is in the electronica genre and one of the ones I have been producing myself recently. I am pretty proud of it. The acoustic version works really well, too. Here is a still from the shoot:
So now there are all sorts of videos in the pipeline.
However it was that weekend that I got very sick. I tried my best to stay off the antibiotics, but it turned out that I had strep throat, and it was rather virulent. It was so bad that I felt a slight sore throat Sunday morning and by Sunday night I had no voice whatsoever.
I did all my natural remedies, as usual and they helped a lot - but after a week in bed I was still in pretty bad shape. As much as I try to avoid medication (due to a very negative experience in the past I may speak about here later sometime) I had to give in and take one because now it's less than two weeks before I leave for Europe - my London show is on the 30th - and then Paris - and then TED Global. There's lots to do and I can't just keep riding this infection out.
Fortunately the antibiotic seems to be doing its job and I am better, except for a nasty cough that comes and goes, so no singing for another few days.
And now back to work.
Here is also a photo from my photoshoot with Belathee Photography a couple of weeks ago. Those girls are so good! And so fun to be around! Can't wait to work with them again.
First, I have a new furry friend. She arrived one day and I saw her skulking around the yard - very shy and unsure. I fed her some tuna. Over the next two weeks, she kept coming back, getting closer and closer until I was able to pet her. She turned out to be a little affectionate kitty, who loves cuddling, even though she is a bit skittish. She became my personal 'hot water bottle' and we spent a number of hours just relaxing and cuddling together. I had not realized how much I missed having a cat around.
Finally, as it was very cold, she started sleeping inside the house. At that point I decided to take her to the vet, to check her out and make sure she was spayed and had all her shots. When we arrived there, he scanned her - and lo and behold: she 'beeped'. Yes, she had a chip and a previous owner.
I was very embarassed because instead of feeling relieved, I burst into tears and had to put on my sun glasses. I drove home, inconsolate, and made the phone call to the owner - who actually turned out to be out of the country!
Anyway, fast forward to a couple of weeks later. It turned out that the guy who originally adopted her found out - the hard way - that he was extremely allergic to cats. He had to give her back. In that place, there were other cats and apparently they kept beating her up. In fact, I could see that: she is a lover, more than fighter - anyway, she must have run away and found me, instead. He was relieved that I was willing to keep her and even showed up at my place with ten pounds of cat food, her health certificate and a cat carrier. Happy ending.
And here is Ponyo (yes, that's her new name) looking very smug, cuddling up:
I also went to Sundance for the first time and performed there. I met a multitude of interesting and lovely people and got to drive around Utah. I almost hit a deer. I got lost a couple of times. I did see a couple of films, but mostly spent time exploring. I would like to come back next year. I watched a Korean film called Jiseul which tells the story of 1948 Jeju Massacre in Korea and some 120 villagers who hid in a cave for 60 days from soldiers who were under shoot-to-kill orders. It was a beautiful film, but I had to walk out after the first 30 minutes when rapes and killings started. I am a softy.
Ok, to change the subject: I have been invited to perform at the TED Global Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June. It is a huge honor. I am incredibly intimidated. But seriously, I performed at TED here, in Long Beach last year, but it was a late night unofficial performance. This is going to be part of the official line-up, alongside with the speakers, and I will get a chance to collaborate with other artists who have been invited. Can't wait to get the list and more details. And I LOVE Scotland.
I am also performing in Moscow, March 8th! At a beautiful venue called Oldich. Believe it or not, this is my first official concert in Moscow. It is timely, because I have been putting together my Russian EP, too - yes, five original songs in Russian.
If you have friends in Moscow, let them know about this performance. I am excited!
And - I just came back from somewhere completely different. Anguilla... place where pirates hid their treasure years ago and noone has found it yet.
I have also been playing guitar quite a bit - both acoustic and electric.
OK, back to work on new songs. They are shaping up just fine, but there is still quite a bit of work to be done.
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':
The City can't decide whether it wants it to rain or not. After the deluge of yesterday, it is still pondering, so I did get rained on a couple of times throughout the day, but it was very minor. All in all, I do prefer this weather to the stifling heat of yesterday.
Obviously it's all about me, so theretofore I brought the rain to NYC, didn't I? Anecdotal evidence: when I was in Austin, performing, we arrived to heat and three-month draught. Within 12 hours of my arrival, a thunderstorm came to pass (short, but effective), and the day was saved.
Maybe not all my doing, but a girl can feel important: why not?
After getting rained on and finding refuge in a French bar:
I found shoes! Fortunately for me, it's sales season. Gloves, shoes, flower dress and NYC is my oyster...err... apple. Right??
Tomorrow is my performance and I am in the mood. Let's do this. Tonight I'll read some poetry and try to imagine what it is going to be like when I come and stay in NYC for a whole month, doing a residency - it's in the plans - being here certainly makes me want to dress up and strut a lot more than Los Angeles ever has. It could be dangerous! But life is short. Why not?
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. (Michelangelo)
...and so just before the tour was over - and I had two shows left - my body said "STOP. NO FURTHER. OR ELSE".
I started running a high fever, my throat was in agony, and standing up for long periods of time was a luxury I was no longer able to afford. I went to a doctor in Tucson, who examined me, prescribed me antibiotics and kindly informed me that I should consider NOT singing in the coming two days, if I wanted to get away with my vocal cords intact, and especially if I had more concerts scheduled in the upcoming weeks (which I do).
And so after a minor emotional breakdown (I HATE canceling things, I dislike being weak, and I detest giving in to circumstances), I had to not-so-graciously concede.
Body always wins.
I am home, in bed, catching up on emails, sleep, movies and mediocre BBC crime series, which are curiously satisfying. Guitar practice awaits, as do all the important chores.... but....but....not quite yet.
I am back and spending some time with my guitar.. as it is raining outside. Southern California really needed rain, apparently. I am not at all sorry it came back with me from Northern California. We drove across the state together, seemingly.
The video for Meant is almost finished, another tour has been scheduled for May, and the iTunes acoustic session release is coming up soon.
A brand new website is in the works - and we will soon start unveiling the story of Beatrix: which is the story behind the record. It will be premiered online in different formats throughout the rest of this year.
I performed at the El Rey theater last night, together with Michael Valerio on acoustic bass, who is my occasional MD and one of my favorite people and musicians all in one. I had not played at the El Rey Theater for almost a year, so it was a welcome return to home turf, so to speak, and an opportunity to observe my own progress. Yes, there has definitely been progress.
It was also very rewarding to see some of the new fans. There was one boy who was 14. There was a mother with her daughter who was 10. There were some older people, and a whole group of feisty and lovely women in their late 30's.
We drove all day from San Francisco. This tour has been all about driving around in a van - not the most comfortable or luxurious endeavor you can imagine, but strangely satisfying, as well - I get to catch up on all my reading, some language stuff (Chinese, hello??!!) and also meditation.
Furthermore, I think there is something in the movement that appeals to my restless nature and keeps the inner critic calm. After all, we are going somewhere, therefore we are not idle; therefore there is hope for a new development, other routes, something exciting around the corner.
Perhaps that is that, then. I would make a lousy housewife or librarian, most likely, because when I am still in one place for too long, I get anxious. When I get anxious, I am starting to inhabit my own head a bit too much, and that, in turn, makes me more anxious. Maybe I was a sailor in a past life. Or a mercenary. Or maybe a traveling potion maker or juggler, who sang.
Or maybe I am just young:)
However, it is not a coincidence that the story of Beatrix Runs - the story of time-traveling adventure behind the album - is very much a mirror of my own story up until now.
It is a story of struggle, searching for one's identity, adventure and, above all, coming to realize that life is an alchemical process.
We are in Vancouver and it's beautiful. The last time I was here was a few years ago, and it was with a boyfriend (who is no longer my boyfriend).
There is a strange thing about going places with someone you are truly in love with vs. someone who are 'kind of' into. It's really very different. I don't even remember much of Vancouver back then.
I don't think I was in love with him.
And then, there is this third way - going somewhere on your own or with a great friend, like I am doing on these tour stints. Missy's enthusiasm for life, people and all things never stops to astonish me and warm my heart. She helps me get past the moments when my Russian cynicism or melancholy kick in. And more than anything, exploring these new cities makes me feel like I am 12 all over again - in a good way.
I think I must be on the right track recently, because more and more things that happen in my life feel like they were meant to be - or have already happened. I also often find myself thinking or talking of something, only to look up and see the words printed on someone's T-shirt - or hear the words of a song that match the mood of the conversation - things like that. Synchronicity.
Tonight I perform in Canada for the first time. Another first. There are a lot of those for me these days.
Vancouver is full of cherry blossom trees in flower. They are like white pieces of heaven throughout the city. They make me want to go to Japan soon.
Yes, buoyant - I love this word - it is one of my favorites in English - and I have been waiting to use it in the recent days, so here is my opportunity.
In case you are wondering: buoyancy is a good thing.
The video shoot went so well. We had such a difficult time making everything come together in a very short time - but come together it did. Last night, as we opened some champagne, the feeling was of that best (in my opinion) variety of satisfaction when, against all odds and through ups and downs, the pieces of the puzzle fit in a beautiful pattern and the final result is almost more than what you expected of the best possible outcome.
I learned that I can act - and now I actually want to take some acting lessons because I found myself enjoying it, quite unexpectedly. Who knew!
I have so much to look forward to - and for once - I am not afraid. I have no idea what the future will bring- but I have done so much already. I have given 2012 my full and undivided attention. The music is out there. The story of Beatrix will grow and spread far and wide. And a vital emotional piece of it - Meant - and the video, which we shot as part of the larger story - will be out there soon, as well.
Tomorrow we are flying to Seattle and driving to Vancouver to perform. I am opening for an amazing group - James - and it's a string of 10 dates this time, terminating in San Diego on April 19th.