A couple tracks I've been working on lately.
Here's the second draft take of Sugar. I'm looking forward to grabbing a few more clips in the near future for a few of the rougher spots. Special thanks to Ryan McKenzie for producing another of my projects at my whim, and Querra Tatsuoka for having assembled the tools to make it happen.
Querra saves the day. She bought me a new laptop because mine is on the fritz and I need to be able to do video editing and because she's the best sister ever.
Only content will make me content. Here's what I'm up to.
Stage fright comes from a fear of messing up, hence Guideline #1. Whatever the reason you're going on stage, it's probably not worth the stress you're putting into it.
1) Play a Character
So I'm willing to say that this sounds like a psychological nightmare, and feel free to let me know if you feel the same.
Figure out what character you're playing once you look out at those people before you get to the front of the stage. Whether you want to be cool as a cucumber or you want to let your nerves show in positive excitement, or you feel awkward, anything. Just flaunt it.
2) Beat Them to the Punch
More true facts from Naomi: 20% of all people are haters, and even usually cool folks have a tendency to be dickish when they've had a bad day. Chances are someone is making fun of you right now. So stop giving a f*ck. Haters are already hating. That's what they do. There's no reason to suddenly get worried about them being buttholes when we already know for a fact that those people exist. So just let it go.
2b) Redirect (Bonus Point)
In a worst case scenario, it's nice to have a backup plan in place. So I often make sure I have someone else to blame, even when it's obviously my fault, because I think it's funny to jokingly pretend as much.
Accidentally inhaled water? "Tastes like roofies."
Almost tripped? "I could probably sue, but I won't because I love *insert venue name*"
Forgot what you were gonna say? "Well if
3) Get Uncomfortable
We're talking at least a room full of people? Anyone would be uncomfortable with that many eyes on them, so celebrate it.
There will be times when you're just not funny or your foot wobbles on a cable you didn't see and you almost fall.
In most cases, the only thing that's affected by an awkward moment on stage is our egos.
Whatever the reason you're going on stage, it's probably not worth the stress you're putting into it. There will be times when you're just not funny or your foot wobbles on a cable you didn't see and you almost fall.
One of the questions I'm asked most often is "how do you just GO up in front of all of those PEOPLE?"
Stage fright isn't something I have to fight with very often, though I have problems with it during non-music related situations. For some reason, speaking to large groups of people intimidates me. Here's how I deal with it.
Guideline #1: DON'T MESS UP
If you're well prepared, you can account for the issues that people (well, okay, just me probably) run into most often. Those are:
1) Staying Hydrated
Having a bottle of water on hand is a good plan, but the problem with that is your voice doesn't just immediately get lubed up from taking a sip before you go on stage. According to people on the internet, it takes about 45 minutes for your body to process fluids and get hydrated. Another good rule of thumb is if your pee is clear, you're hydrated, if it's super yellow, you need to get some water in you. If you know you HAVE to get hydrated RIGHT NOW, don't drink anything with dairy, alcohol, or caffeine in it, as those things dry you out, or in dairy's case, cause you to produce more phlegm which isn't that fun to sing through either.
This one time during American Idol I had to bite my tongue till I oversalivated to get my throat to not feel like sandpaper right before I was supposed to sing because there was no water around for reasons.
So I guess there's always that option.
Takeaway: DRINK THAT SH*T
2) Faking it Till You're Making It
True Facts from Naomi: 90% of the crowd had no idea you messed up before you pulled that face, or said "oh f*ck" over the microphone, or started floundering because you lost your train of thought. Learning to overcome the kneejerk reaction of beating yourself up just because you messed up one time is one of the biggest ways to get comfortable onstage.
I've trained myself to smile whenever I'm messing up (my voice cracked on a note, my bass was out of tune, or I almost twisted my ankle in 4.5 inch heels, doesn't matter, I'm probably grinning like an idiot). If you need inspiration on how to do this, pay attention to people around you or on the radio. Be aware of how someone stumbles, and picks themselves back up again, whether it's saying a word wrong three times in a row, forgetting lyrics, or just physically tripping. Then, watch yourself in daily life in those awkward situations, and start trying to consciously process those moments with positivity.
I'm pretty sure we need to start teaching this to children.
Takeaway: PLAN TO GIGGLE AT YOURSELF
3) Practice Correctly
There are a lot of ways to get information into your brain. Repeating your performance over and over again from beginning to end might not be what you need. This is so important I'm already planning another post for it. Click here to read more.
In November of 2013, I decided that I was going to make an album, for myself, by musicians of my choosing, of my original songs. This was a big deal.
Now, I like to consider myself a very giving person. I tend to put the needs of others before my own, and often end up neglecting my life while climbing mountains for others. I've started to move out of it, as it's understandably had some negative effects on my growth, but it has been a way of life for me for quite some time. I went to college, but that was for my parents. I almost failed multiple classes because I was helping out friends with their homework and then ended up with no time to do my own. I've been in bands where I have no real say, but bring my all to the table. I gave my time to help others learn material so they didn't have to feel less than adequate when we performed the songs.
This album was the first big thing that I'd ever decided to do in memory that was an entirely selfish endeavor. I decided to call it Flight of the Dragon, the name of an album my dad had made during my pre-teen years but had never really gotten "out there". I couldn't afford to pay my musicians fairly up front, and told all of them so. I planned and plotted and made a campaign, my lovely family, friends, and fans all footing the bill for this adventure through the Kickstarter. We made the amount necessary to start the project, and many celebrations were had.
And then I got sick. For months.
I couldn't figure out what the problem was. I'd stopped smoking in March 2013, and managed to curb the appetite for nicotine with an e-cig that I swore by. I had halted the loss of vocal range and the daily morning routine of getting yesterday's tar to settle. I had started eating well, cut out dairy and most grains, started exercising. Cleaned the mold from the apartment that was probably my fault for putting my furniture just a little too close to the outside walls. I supplemented, took tinctures, and did nasal rinses most days.
It's important to note that the impact that singing at half power for months had on me was enormous. I felt like there was nothing I could do to forward my album in the meantime if I didn't have my voice. People would tell me how good I sounded but every time I sang I imagined I could feel my vocal chords getting a little more damaged. I was able to push through singing at my local gigs, but I couldn't step in front of a studio mic without wanting to cry from how congested I sounded. I felt like I couldn't ask musicians to play on drum tracks with no vocals to lead dynamics. Every time I thought about the album and the people who support me and give me their love and ask when it's coming out, I would break down.
And no matter what I did, I couldn't get better. I had a constant drip and a slight cough or scratchy throat that nothing seemed to fix. Allergy pills made me exhausted and emotionally frail, and one day I finally remembered that Obamacare had kicked in so I made an appointment. After deciding to stop using the e-cig as a last resort and getting an allergy test, I finally found out that I'm rather severely allergic to dust mites.
So to cut it short (er), I finally have my voice back, and things are finally going to start getting done.
I awake from my depressed slumber, if you will, realizing that I need to very quickly find a studio mic, learn how to use an editing program, schedule my musicians to come record with me, and finally get some shit done.
This is not an excuse. But I feel like the people who have supported me, through a pledge on Kickstarter or by sharing my videos on Facebook, have a right to know what has been going on for me. I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself, but I'm finally in a place where I'm going to be making positive things happen.
Thanks for reading.
Dear person who has nothing better to do than read blatherings about my life:
Thank you for coming. I appreciate you being here, and it warms my heart that you care enough to keep reading for whatever reason this may strike your fancy. I would like to warn you that you may not like what you read here. You may disagree, and that's okay. You may decide that you don't want to hire me, or be my fan anymore, and that's okay too, although I would have to disagree with your decision.
I am a person. I have thoughts. I am not especially private, in fact I tend to be just the opposite. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and it doesn't always feel like the best idea.
While I conduct myself professionally, and almost exclusively non-politically on stage or working in general, when I'm online or off-duty, as it were, I ask questions that can sometimes ruffle feathers. This is a choice I make not for the purpose of ruffling feathers, but to attempt to impart a positive change in the world.
Music is what I do, and in many cases, I do it well. Many people enjoy my performances, and I love it when they do. But I don't think that it's the only reason I was put in this world.
There are other things I do. I am a creative person by nature, I make things of kinds, be it food or paintings, poems and songs, articles of clothing and other accessories, I create. I also like to create positive change. This is also something I do. But sometimes a thought I think is a positive one causes someone to be offended. That is what I would like to address today.
I have opinions on some sensitive topics, ones that people don't usually discuss, sometimes because they are considered taboo, or not appropriate in general. Some of those opinions are considered controversial, or even radical, by society at large.
I have rules in the ways I converse on these subjects. I never insult people personally, or bring their character into question. I don't laugh at people for having different opinions than I do, but rather ask questions to help us both understand each other's perspectives as best we can. Regardless of how I approach certain topics, some people just read what I say and decide to disassociate by that alone, which allows me no recourse in trying to regain their friendship.
I have carefully considered the problem, and made a decision accordingly; I will not change my opinions for the comfort of political or philosophical leanings of people who may forward my career.
The prospect of an ally, when overshadowed by the obvious negatives I see in the relationship makes them no longer relevant to me. I have chosen to make difficult decisions regarding my integrity on this note. Changing my image and choosing to not approach these topics would be better in the long run, especially on a macro scale. Music is a dog eat dog business. If I change my opinion in a few years, but it's on record online that I felt another way in the past, it could come back to bite me in the ass. Many people encourage me to take this route, but I respectfully continue to say no. I am who I am, and if I don't like it, I will change. If people disagree with my thoughts, and choose to disassociate, that's a risk I'm consciously taking, whether they be fan, client, or friend.
If someone really appreciates what I do, they will see through any disagreements of a philosophical nature and support me anyway. I've actually seen this happen once already, overtly. Sometimes I make verbal missteps and I end up offending someone on accident. While in a perfect world, I would be able to have a conversation with the person in question, the reality is that sometimes people do not appreciate feeling offended, to the point that they choose to disassociate with me.
Part of my own defined purpose in life is making people comfortable in being uncomfortable. Discomfort is one of the biggest reasons that people are against change. I hope to continue challenging that, because to me, offense is really just someone's way of saying you made them uncomfortable.
by Jesse Folsom, "At What Cost Truth?"
I just finished draining some of the king of beers from my magical shapechanging stiffy sausage and it occurred to me, "Why, when all of us must occasionally produce this pale mustard cocktail, does anyone bother with pride?" Well, the wording was new, but the thought has been roiling about in my hairy jello mold for much of the day.
Some people think they need pride to feel good about themselves. After all, if you didn't take pride in your accomplishments, possessions, abilities, and associations, why would you feel good about yourself at all? Of course, such a conception not only makes your self-worth contingent on your perceived superiority over others, but leaves it vulnerable to the inevitable encounter with someone superior to you.
"Wait just one darned-tootin' minute!" I hear you say, "My pride isn't a comparison to others! It's just about me! Me me me me Me ME MEEEEEE!"
O rly? So, if you take pride in your grades, it isn't because they are above average? If you take pride in your car, it isn't because it's an expensive model? If you take pride in your athletic abilities, it's not because they're better than the norm? Let's be real, here. Nobody takes pride in the average or the universal. They take pride in the exceptional. The things few have or have done.
So, yeah, having pride is basically the same as considering yourself superior to other people. But, some people are okay with that, right? We live in a meritocracy. If we were all equal, we'd all have the same amount of money. Let's just ignore the racism inherent in that statement, given racial disparities of wealth in this country and this world. Or, you know, just the idea that when people are poor it's their fault.
But then, the ugliness of a belief doesn't actually speak to its truth or lack thereof. Let us take the typical successful person in this country, say, a mid-level employee at Apple.
Surely you, as an employee at Apple, applied yourself in school and got a good degree. You truly proved your capacity to thrive in an institutionalized setting, submitting to the authority of strangers. You are tasked with designing computers and phones. Note, I say design, not make, since the making is done in third-world sweatshops essentially staffed by slaves. You spend the better part of your waking life on the job, giving it your time and energy. You sell your slave-built product to the teeming masses, largely also working in jobs that involve selling, designing, or managing goods made by other exploited people.
Your reward, after you pay your taxes that help support wars of aggression against brown people, is a nice hefty paycheck. It helps pay for your palatial house and fancy car, in which you drive past the homeless every day. You have two kids who you send to private school. And, goddamn it, you deserve every penny, right? Right?
That, or a kick in the teeth. Of course, the fact that successful Americans don't really deserve to be proud is hardly proof that there is nothing you should be proud of. What if, you're, like, Mother Theresa or something?
Well, there is the strange dynamic of doing good things for other people so you feel like you're better than other people.
But none of these are the real reason that having pride is a bad idea. The real reason is because of what pride does.
Pride distorts your vision of the world. Say you are smart and got good grades in school. Say you're in the top 1% of intelligence. That isn't saying a lot in a room full of scientists or doctors. Yet, in the world you come from, you are the smartest person around. With pride, you can come to have an inflated view of your own opinion. You think you're hot shit. And when someone disagrees with you, you don't really listen, because you are the smartest motherfucker you know. Or so you think. And you have to think it, because that is what your sense of self-worth depends upon. We build identities based on pride, and being humbled is therefore shattering.
Or take the example of the big TV. What happens when you encounter someone who doesn't bother owning a TV? Someone who thinks it's a waste of time? If you are matter-of-fact about your TV, you just have different tastes, but if you have pride in your TV, that's an insult. It is saying that one of the things that you feel supports your value as a human being is worthless. You will be hurt, or even angry. Or, you will despise them and disregard them and their opinion as worthless.
Pride builds external things, things that are temporary and fallible, into aspects of your identity. When you take pride in a TV, losing that TV is devastating, because it is like losing part of yourself. When your intelligence fails to solve a problem, when you are wrong, it is as if you have failed. Your perception of your own worth is diminished when you face the limits of your abilities. Even worse, it can send you into heights of folly, making you deceive yourself, or in the case of physical tasks, even injure yourself, because you cannot accept those limitations.
And you will have to, eventually, fall into these follies, because the boost of pride is temporary. Because it is like a drug. Because as you use the ability or show off the thing you take pride in, you will encounter others more able or with better things than you. And pride cannot abide being second best. So you will push, and obsess, and hate the ones better than you, and lie to yourself and hurt yourself. For pride.
Yet, you do not need pride for a sense of self-worth. You can find worth in the commonalities we share, in the essence of you, rather than the trappings and appearances that you merely associate with you. Self-worth without pride is compassion, because it only really works when you extend your esteem to the essence within us all. Maybe try it sometime. Just look at yourself without all the titles and things and capacities and past deeds and opinions, at the very core awareness within you. And love it. And realize, as you do, that everyone else has that same alert little being wondering at their core.
Naomi T is going to audition for The Voice on July 13th in Austin, Texas.
She and her husband have some meager amounts of cash on hand, but as musicians and freelance writers, the cash flow can be pretty iffy.
If you or someone you know would be willing to contribute to their travel fund, we're looking to accumulate an amount of cash that will allow Naomi T to bring her husband Jesse to Austin as her security team, moral support, and geographical sense.
We're hoping for a total of about $1000.
Disclosure of what we're hoping to use the donated money for: