April 8th, 2011
|12:23 am - Going on tour, need venue (NOT A BAR) in Phoenix this weekend|
[Edit: I played at Copper Star Coffee last night in Phoenix and it was rad, small crowd but the random strangers who were there LOVED me and bought tons of CDs from me. And I'm playing Bookmans in Mesa on 4/18 at 7 pm, again acoustic acacella. Phew.]
Tomorrow I'm leaving for a tour, my main destination being the Oklahoma Steampunk Expo in Oklahoma City, April 15-17. I'm playing a house concert in Dallas 4/13 and have an all-ages show in LA on my way back, 4/21.
I have no venue in Arizona this weekend. I had two people over there trying to book one for me, and I have a strong fanbase in the Phoenix area where I'll be staying, but still, nothing. I am willing to play *literally anywhere* that's reasonably physically comfortable and isn't a noisy bar. I mean, mansion, mausoleum, middle school, mosque... seriously anywhere. I do not need to make money aside from merch and tips since I'm on my way to a gig that should pay.
I have a tentative spot in Mesa on 4/18 on my way back, so that's something at least, but I'm there for two nights this weekend, 4/9 and 4/10 and really just wanted to play for some people.
Here's a present to thank you for reading this. It's an Unwoman remix of a Peter Gabriel cover of an Arcade Fire song. I made this so I could dance along at home but it would be rad to see a real bellydancer take this on.
March 1st, 2011
|05:40 pm - Final UK tour recap|
The second half was much better than the first. I would say I'm glad I went, but I still believe it was a huge mistake. If that makes sense. It was, you know, character-building, or something.
I lost a ton of money. I expected to lose money but gain fans. I lost more money and gained fewer fans than I'd hoped. The audiences were exactly the same size as my audiences stateside -- 20-50 people, usually on the lower side -- I have practically zero draw anywhere I go. But they were more attentive and quiet than most audiences over here. I didn't have the experience anywhere of playing for a noisy bar, that was nice. Of course I refuse to do that over here either, anymore.
I left my original hosts shortly after writing the last public entry on here. We had a misunderstanding. I was fevered and sick and went to stay with a friend of a friend. He miraculously welcomed me and made chili for me and set me up in his little guest room. The next night I was feeling slightly better and made it out to our London gig, and resolved to be pleasant and gracious because otherwise there would be more drama with original hosts. We made up and from that point on got along great. The show went OK.
Basically every show, the performance went great and the turnout was disappointing. My problem of having near-zero draw did not magically disappear overseas.
The next day, Thursday, we met on the train to Newcastle. Newcastle may have been my funnest show. I was losing my voice but I pulled it off for my short set. I had my best bit of onstage me-soundguy banter ever. For the tour I'd planned five different covers, one for each area I was playing in. For Newcastle I introduced The Police's "Wrapped Around Your Finger" saying, this song is by an artist from Newcastle. The sound guy said, "me!" I said, "he's known to practice tantric sex" (I was *finally* starting to get my mojo back and feeling a little saucy) and he said "ME!" and I said, "thank you SO much for saying that! I haven't decided who to go home with tonight." (pause, wait for it) "and I have a really short attention span, so I know it's not you!" (after the set he was very sweet and said he did not mind the ribbing.) Unwomanizer Deotriese came all the way from Edinburgh to see the show and it was lovely to meet her, she even brought me gluten-free treats. I tried to get her to sing on stage in my place when I lost my voice, but she was chicken.
The next day we went to Manchester and had an off night. After a nap I wake up to our host playing some weird as hell music in the next room. It's the band Pin-Up Went Down, who are amazingly schizophrenic. Like. Then we went for some amazing curry in Eccles. Saturday was to be our Manchester show, and our host was awesome enough to organize an outing in Chinatown for Thai food and the art museum and invite a bunch of the local goths. It was so great socializing with all the people and I made a few new friends who will be my online friends forever. Our show that night was our last one and it was a little emotional, but I think I played well. Especially because of getting to actually meet the people there, I think Manchester was my favorite. (Though the Geordie accents in Newcastle were so hot.)
I had an off day in London on the Monday and went to the Tate Modern alone. It was my third museum of the trip and possibly my favorite, though possible just because I was on my own. I love going to museums alone -- I get to look at what I want to look at, write my own notes. My London host made amazing Paella and we went to sleep early and he walked me to the tube station the next morning, early, and I flew home. I am really, really glad to be home.
I would do some things differently when I do it again, which I intend to in 10 years or so, and possibly turn a profit.
February 8th, 2011
|04:24 am - UK trip recap so far|
I have been in England for 5 days now. It has been pretty brutal and miserable and I have not been treating myself well. But today I'm taking a chill day in TyLean's flat where I'm staying and recovering from a cold that threatens sinus infection by watching streaming British comedy and laying around.
For the first two days I barely slept. For the next two days I barely ate. It was massive anxiety that caused these things. I was not expecting being this stressed. But I feel stupid for being surprised by this: I am never anxious about performing well, I am always anxious about logistics, about getting to a soundcheck in time and with all the equipment working. Since that's ratcheted up about 400% for this trip compared to a domestic minitour, of course I am much more stressed. And the jet lag, and the tight schedules of making trains, make it so much worse.
I have played two shows so far -- Brighton Saturday night, and Wakefield Sunday night. Despite feeling not at all my best, I pulled off the actual performances quite well, I think. Audience response was great at both. Unfortunately in Brighton I had to run off to catch a train right after my set and had to miss Bitter Ruin (who based on their soundcheck are completely amazing) and didn't get to sell many CDs. The audience in Wakefield was small and more accustomed to metal, but they were really polite and receptive anyway and given the attendance I did OK in sales. It was webcast and my mom got to see it which makes me happy. And I didn't lose my voice till the last song. I blame being cold and hungry and homeless in the drizzle in Brighton the day before, also the not eating or sleeping, for the cold I got that night.
When I woke up yesterday with a high fever, sicker than I'd been in at least a year, I was hysterically afraid I would die in the freezing howling wind as we were homeless in Wakefield till our train back to London that night. I realized my trying and hoping and wishing to save/make money on the trip was totally futile and I needed to set the bar at returning alive and relatively unscathed. The day wasn't as bad as I'd feared and it passed quickly, TyLean and I camped out in a Wetherspoons, buying small breakfasts and sneaking in naps in the lounge upstairs till they kicked us out, then we sheltered in a mall and went to retrieve our gear from the night before's venue who'd let us stow it there. We made it back to Walthamstow, which is North London, late last night as planned, and I got my first good night's sleep in a week. I feel better today though definitely still sick. I have a ridiculous amount of snot and congestion but I'm drinking tons of herbal tea and taking the maximum recommended dose of real pseudoephedrine (which should be an oxymoron but isn't). I will certainly survive but I am less sure how great my voice will be for my remaining shows. Today it's completely shot and it usually takes up to a week to recover when it's been like this.
Other than being on stage, highlights have included our trip to the British Museum Friday (longer than the 2 hours I got to spend there as a youth on a chaperoned trip once, still not enough to see the whole thing well, but good fun) and a goth club that night. I *love* goth clubbing in strange new cities, noting the differences and universalities of the experience. The playlist at Inferno was not amazing, in fact they repeated the SAME Siouxsie and Sisters of Mercy songs during the night so clearly the DJs don't pay attention to each other's set lists, but it was nice to hear less EBM overall, more classic goth & industrial rock. They did not play my requests for my favorite newish Death Guild hits, The Knife's "We Share Our Mother's Health" or Florence and the Machine's "Heavy In Your Arms." No one made a pass at me, but a tosser in a flannel shirt asked ME of all people if he looked out of place there, so I guess at least to him I looked like I belonged, hah. Only 3 people were dressed steampunk. The dancing style was the same -- there was even a shirtless man in shades just like the guy in SF around 10 years ago. I danced a lot despite being exhausted.
The rest of the trip should be much more comfortable for me -- day off today, show in London (at Battersea Barge) tomorrow which will be low stress to get to. Then Newcastle and Manchester, and at both of those places we actually have people to stay with so we won't be homeless at all.
The unknown for the remaining 3 shows is how well my voice will be, but worrying about that can't help a thing. I have tea, slippery elm lozenges, and throat spray, and I will use them. I wish I had the time and strength to enjoy exploring the country more. I kept thinking when I was in Brighton how if I were feeling OK, as I feel every day at home, I would be enjoying being lost in strange drizzly cities. I hope I'm feeling OK by next Monday, the day off I have before my flight back early Tuesday.
January 16th, 2011
|09:44 pm - Upcoming Shows, UK edition|
These shows are all on the embedded google calendar on http://unwoman.com but I feel like no one looks at those, so this is a facebook event link summary.
OK, first, I am playing one show in SF, the night before I leave for London.
Feb 1, Hotel Utah, me & Felix (Heavy Sugar Duo) and Eliza Rickman. Also one other band we're waiting to hear back from.
Feb 2 I head to London and I arrive Feb 3. My amazing hostess and fellow songstress TyLean will be showing me around Britain and performing with me at all but the Brighton show below:
Feb 5, fabulous steampunk night with Bitter Ruin, show starts at 8 pm.
Feb 6, Unwoman & TyLean in Wakefield
*Feb 9, Unwoman & TyLean in London at Battersea Barge
Advance tickets recommended, here: http://www.tylean.com/
Feb 10, Unwoman & TyLean at Hyem in Newcastle UK (just added)
Feb 12 Unpretention in Manchester (fundraiser for the Booth Centre)
*if you are between locations & unsure which to attend, I recommend this event -- the venue is lovely and we should have time to each play a very full set. Though the other events are cheaper.
When I get back to the states I have several steampunk events this Spring -- Nova Albion in Santa Clara, Gaslight Gathering in San Diego, and Oklahoma Steampunk Exposition -- at which I'll be a featured performer. It's going to be a big year for me full of travel and fun!
January 3rd, 2011
|12:46 pm - Trip recap & 2010 earnings pie chart|
I had a fabulous time in Seattle this weekend. The trip was a perfect chaotic ending to a glorious year. Every band I play with has a different chemistry and is fantastically fun. Abney Park is absolutely no exception, and they pull in a crowd that's really receptive to what I do, too, so it was huge that I got to open the show with a solo set (which Laela the Violist joined on as well).
Here's a video of "Letters" which I'd played with them before. I also played on 3 other songs with them (4 if you include Auld Lang Syne), which was pretty thrilling for me. Despite the unfamiliar rental cello I was really proud how my playing turned out (it's hard to hear on the videos.)
My outfit was pretty amazing if I do say so myself, and once a few more photos are posted I hope to talk a little about it. I had had way too much booze at Thursday's rehearsal and had a refreshingly sober NYE experience.
Saturday daytime went with Nathan, Alyssa, Mark, Beth and Dana and Jay (and Libby met us later) to Mishu the capitol hill boutique, then the Underground Seattle Tour which was informative, cold and darkly hilarious and kinda long. Then was another show, put on by Classical Revolution, at the Rendezvous/Jewelbox. It was low-key but lovely. Overall, a terrific trip.
I'm kind of a nerd, and since I felt like sitting on the couch for a while after my flight back to SF yesterday, I decided to finish up my earnings spreadsheets for 2010. (After each gig I record in a google doc spreadsheet how much I made in fees, tips, or music sales, and periodically also collect my bandcamp earnings.)
I wanted to see if I hit my projection from the beginning of the year -- that I'd make 2x as much on music as I had in 2009. There's no way I could have predicted this, and the individual sectors would have been different if I'd lined it up (I assumed I would make more money touring with other bands -- that never happened, and I couldn't have anticipated the AFP bump or just how important Bandcamp and Kickstarter would be) but I totally nailed it -- I made 108% more on music in 2010 than 2009.
For some weird reason I feel like including the real number is TMI, but it works out to much less than I made with my dayjob. However, although it's not enough to afford rent in San Francisco, and my expenses were higher this year too, I'm really pleased that it grew as much as I'd hoped. A significant financial difference this year than I'd expected, too, was that I was way better at living cheaply than I'd predicted and my savings did not run out as soon as I'd feared.
I am fortunate among independent musicians in a few ways. 1) My skills are versatile, and I have a lot to offer other musicians while also 2) writing and producing my own music which means a small, steady stream of passive income as my older releases continue to sell while I'm off traveling and such. And 3) I can move back in with my parents who live in the East Bay and live comfortably and still come into SF a few times a week for rehearsals and social visits. Also 4) I am scrappy and resourceful and LOVE playing music for people under almost any circumstances.
I am doing just that (#3), moving out of SF in less than 3 weeks. If I had been much more successful (by a factor of 2 at least) I wouldn't have to; if I'd been much less successful I'd be heading back to corporate work with my tail sadly between my legs. Or heading off a cliff. I am not unhappy about this move, in fact I'm really looking forward to the pressure being off so I don't have to consider selling myself in ways I don't really want to.
Assuming I make near the same amount this year (I am not projecting an increase in income, but I suspect my music expenses will be less) I won't have to dip into my savings any further and I may be able to save up enough for a new laptop which I need badly if I want to make my live shows even better-sounding (though of course, with an even higher chance of electronics failure, probably.)
December 29th, 2010
|11:53 pm - Travel cello fail and massive procrastination guilt|
UPDATE 12 pm 12/30
Captain Robert and Nathaniel Johnstone are the bomb-diggity and I think everything is solved. Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone! I am out the door now, wishing for pleasant TSA passage. :/
UPDATE 9 am 12/30:
1. if I haven't gotten an offer for a bow case by 10 AM I am trying Cremona. If they do not have one I will use a rental/borrowed bow in Seattle.
2. if I haven't gotten an offer for a cello to borrow by 1:00 pm Nathan is sweet enough to inquire after a rental cello for me. Either way I will bring my pickup up even though it's kind of a pain to install/uninstall.
my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I've made a huge mistake. I have a massively important show in Seattle on Friday, am leaving tomorrow, and am now scrambling to find a cello to play.
I need these things:
1. in San Francisco, before 11:00 am 12/30, a bow case. I probably need to own one, and would be happy to buy one, and maybe Cremona Strings who open at 10 am have one they'd sell me.
2. in Seattle, a cello that I can play Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. Ideally one with a pickup, or an electric cello. I don't care if it's a good cello, it would be nice if it's a decent one. Nathan (Abney Park bandmate & musical friend) is being so awesome and looking into renting one for the weekend when shops open up there, tomorrow, and I'm going to see if someone through Classical Revolution knows someone with a cello they aren't using, or something, that I can borrow.
The last time I played my electric cello it sounded OK (in Phoenix). I planned to take it to Seattle tomorrow. It's pretty expensive to check my acoustic cello in its flight case (and worrisome to let it out of my sight) and though it must be legally free to gate-check musical instruments, it's impossible for me to maneuver the cello in its flight case, plus luggage, through a terminal.
I put off practicing with the electric because it doesn't feel as good to play, but I dug it out tonight at 10 PM and plugged it in, and was horrified to find that either the proprietary cable or the pickup-bridge were failing, cutting in and out.
Though the electric cello was made in Seattle (Jensen, traveler model), I have no hope of getting parts fixed or replaced before tomorrow night's rehearsal (and of course, shows Friday and Saturday.) If I knew for sure what it was, and if I'd tried it out last night, I could have called some shops and found a replacement cable. Since I don't even know if the cable is the problem, though, I don't want to carry the electric up (with all the security hoo-ha about what the end pin is, etc) with such a dismal outlook on it working out.
I want to take my bow up because my bow is awesome, though I'll be fine using another bow if I can't get a case in the morning.
I feel extremely stupid and negative right now. I guess if Friday night's show weren't such a big deal, which is a good thing, I wouldn't be so bothered. It probably doesn't help that I saw Black Swan today (instead of packing) and everything is tinged with this paranoid certainty that anything I'm excited about will end in tears.
I'd help people out if they were visiting SF and had similar circumstances.
December 1st, 2010
|09:55 pm - Something to prove and nothing to lose|
This is a long-overdue outpouring. I've had too much gin tonight.
I wanted for so many years to not want to be famous. The artists (musicians, poets, actors) I respected were reluctant spotlight subjects, reticent to share; I could never respect the talentless heiress famous for being famous. When I was twenty (almost exactly ten years ago) I picked the name Unwoman in solidarity with an imagined underground rebel community I *wanted* to be a part of. I was a TMI-spewer and wannabe troublemaker. Then I met my future exhusband who, while acting outwardly supportive, somehow made me feel like all my dreams were petty and worthless. I would like to blame 9/11 for our relationship. I clung. I chased the red flags it took me years to see. Eventually I became cloistered and embodied the Protestant work ethic. I worked for other people. Dayjob, and family -- a child I loved like a best friend, for whom I was not allowed maternal feelings and who was ripped from me bitterly, as punishment, without even a goodbye, when I decided to reclaim my body. The partner irretrievably in debt even while making three times my salary, who would never, ever admit he was wrong about anything. His goal was that I recognize my passions as merely a hobby and behave like a decent American wife and save my body just for him.
(In case you can't tell, I am still recovering from that horrible divorce and the ways I was muzzled. I was not allowed to tell my story. He made me feel guilt like no one should feel, and still it was not enough, yet as soon as he found my replacement just a few months after I finally decisively left (the girl I tried on wedding dresses with, an exfriend without even the decency to tell me -- come on girls, chicks before dicks, right?!) he acted like he'd won some great prize yet somehow I was just as guilty and cruel as when he'd told me I ruined his life as I walked out the door. But there are no winners in divorce, just survivors.)
I worry that everything I do is because I have something to prove. Then I wonder at my motivations from the beginning. But really, isn't it only natural that I'm compelled to *communicate* with other people through my music? Isn't that the point, to connect to people with my songs the way that songs have touched me? "Don't forget the songs that made you cry, and the songs that saved your life?"
All of this is to say, I probably need your help more than I've said before. I need more people listening to me, knowing who I am. I desperately need respect for what I put into this. So that is my confession, that I'm a little bit desperate. I went into this thing ten years ago, guns blazing, full of hope, and that hope was promptly and justly crushed as I didn't know what the hell I was doing as a self-published musician, or who I was and what I wanted, or that my desire for serious romance was a hindrance, and now I'm trying the same exact thing and just counting on the idea that I'm ten years better than I was then because even in the darkest years of my slightly terrorized domestic existence I kept playing and writing and producing. Thank you, thank you, me of the past for sticking with it. (But, uh, honey, couldn't you have been just a little firmer or better disciplined or more willing to say no?)
This is not friends-only because I don't want any secrets. I want to be transparent about my weaknesses or humanity or whatever it is that makes me want what I don't have. (Hello, wikileaks, I have learned from your example on a tiny individual scale.) How else could anyone learn from my mistakes?
I plan to put together a list of ways you folks can help me (with getting other gigs and such; I am not quite yet making enough money to afford San Francisco rent), in the next few weeks, but for now, just including a song on a mixtape once in a while, or talking about a song of mine that you like on facebook or twitter is all I ask. This link, http://unwoman.bandcamp.com/, and the fact that the three albums on the top row are free (pay-what-you-want), should be a good start.
November 24th, 2010
|06:35 pm - Tiny updates on a zillion things|
I like to think of myself as capable of blogging about my life, but apparently I am too busy living it and no longer have the diary habit I used to.
So, little micro updates:
- I finished my remix album and am titling it Unremembered. It can be downloaded *for free* here! http://unwoman.bandcamp.com/album/unremembered Also, the bullet-shaped USB drives are almost gone. The physical CD order has been placed and I'll have those in stock in just a couple weeks.
- Doc's iPhone/iPad album is out too! We sent our stuff to press together, so we'll probably do some kind of twofer package with our albums. I sang on a few tracks (the above, I wrote the words too) and even played fake iPad cello on one!
- SteamCon happened last weekend in Seattle and it was fabulous. I played solo at the cabaret, had an outlaw banjo duel with Nathaniel Johnstone, played on one Abney Park show at the big concert, and played on a bunch of Blackbird Orchestra songs. Then a few of us musicians went and talked on a panel about steampunk music hosted by Jordan of Sepiachord (who also wrangled all the music for the weekend.) I met a bunch of fabulous people, discovered some artists (Ashia Grzesik, fellow singing cellist based in Portland, was of particular interest, also a really cool lady) and sold some merch, and I think I'm going to use most of that money for some tattoos in a few weeks.
- Romplr, the free remix iPhone app from my former dayjob, on which I have two exclusive songs, has gotten an update and looks even shinier. I will try to post a video demo of that very soon, but I am not sure how long my tracks will be available on there, so you should get it now if you can. Download the app here and find my kits under "freestyle mode." The app is on the Ovi store too.
- Upcoming events: Sunday 11/28 Eliza Rickman opening for Zoe Boekbinder at Amnesia; 11/30 live ustream concert; Sunday 12/05 Heavy Sugar Duo at Gilman St; New Years Eve solo opening set for big huge Abney Park Circus at the End of the World event in Seattle.
October 12th, 2010
|01:24 pm - Funding the dance remix album|
Wow, it's been up for an hour and it's already 1/3 funded! Anyway, here's the kickstarter page to get me cash for mastering and a small press run of my upcoming dance remix album. For just $3 pledge you'll get download codes before the general public would.
And here's a lil 3-song teaser for remixes.
October 1st, 2010
|08:16 am - Our 48-hour film project|
Don't know how much I mentioned on here, but a few months ago I participated in http://www.48hourfilm.com/sanfrancisco/
This is what we did:
Matrón from Matt Waters on Vimeo.
I joined a team, The Center For Kids Who Can't Film Good*, met with them, read some lines, but wanted to do music. They had a band doing music already, so it ended up the only musical contribution I made were the orchestra hits when the names pop up (you'll see.) But two of the other actors from the meet-up didn't arrive on Saturday, and no one else in the crew wanted to act (some did anyway) so I got a pretty important role. This was before any acting training and I'm actually reasonably pleased with my work, considering what a tight timeline we had. It was a fantastic experience and a great group of people, none of whom I'd met beforehand.
*I always appreciate a Zoolander reference