Posts tagged ‘music scene’

June 8, 2008

Fear of a 9-5

A lot of people state “because I don’t ever want to have a real job” first when asked why they want to be in a rock band that “makes it”. That is the wrong answer to be someone’s number one answer. The first answer should be “because I love creating and performing music”. It’s okay to not want a “real” job and it’s okay to have that answer on your list. But it shouldn’t be on the top. I notice that the people who state this as their main/only reason, are usually sucky musicians and annoying people in general. (Same thing with musicians who state “to get laid” as their number one reason).

Plus, I have to say, I actually like working in an office. I didn’t think I would when I was younger. I, too, was scared of having a real job a few years back. But I have to say, it’s not so bad and there is something satisfying about stability (well, nothing is stable in this economy). I guess that’s because I work for a company I like with mostly people who are rad. I might not feel that way if I worked for some other companies.
And I still get to work on music when I go home, so that’s fine with me.

And most of my friends are in the music scene, which is great. It’s nice to acquaint yourself with those who have similar interests and passions. But when you’re constantly around people who talk about music and the business and never talk to people who are doing different things in their lives even just once in a while, it can get a little tedious. But if you have a chance to get away from it and are around people who are interested in other things, then you can appreciate the music scene people more when you do hang out with them.

Just my take on it. I’m not saying I wouldn’t choose playing Saturday Night Live over clocking in at the office. But I’m not going to slit my wrists over it, either.

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May 22, 2007

Women in Rock, Groupies in Rock

Wow, I was looking through my computer and going through old files.  I came across this long “editorial” or whatever you want to call it. I don’t think I’ve ever posted this, so here it is. Keep in mind that while I still feel the same way, a lot has changed in my life since I wrote this circa 2005.  I’m not in a band right now, I don’t eat ramen/Campbell’s soup (because they usually have MSG), and I’m actually sick of being poor. I’m going back to school in the fall and trying to do the “real job” thing.  Anyway, here it is:

Women in Rock, Groupies in Rock
As a female musician, I’ve always had a majority of males being my closest friends. Sure, I have hundreds of girl friends, but they’re mostly acquaintances. It’s been like that since I was in high school and it confused the hell out of my parents (how many guys are you dating? you’re not dating them? but why do you hang out so much? how can you guys be so close if you’re not “together”?)

Truth is, I can’t understand how most females look at life. I don’t hate. I just can’t RELATE.  I can’t relate to their attitudes towards certain things. This didn’t really come to light for me until I became a part of the Baltimore local music scene.

While I was focusing my entire life on music – turning down good jobs because it wouldn’t fit with the band’s schedule, living off ramen and campbell’s soup, and still driving the same 93 volvo I’ve had since I was sixteen (but loving it because the means justified the ends),  other females who swear their entire life is about music, but who mean that in a totally different way and haven’t put any sacrifice into it, makes me not understand them.

I’ve lived and breathed music my entire life. I’ve always used the saying that I’m better at expressing myself with music than with words since I learned to read music before I learned to read English. I was so young when I started out that I don’t even remember the learning process. While everyone else in school was going to the mall all the time, going to dances, or getting stoned every day, my life was totally different. I was taking piano lessons, theory lessons, group lessons. I missed very few days of school due to illness;  the majority of the school I missed was because I had some competition or judging to attend. I’ve performed more often as a classical musician than I have in any rock  band I’ve been in, and I’ve played probably around 100 shows in rock bands. There were times where it bothered me that I was missing out on the social aspect of growing up. The overwhelming majority of my friends were all people who were in our circle of pianists. And while that was the reason I gave up being in music school, I don’t regret having been in it because I knew I was focusing on something richer. Something that I loved. Something that had meaning.

So when I became a part of the Baltimore local music scene a few years ago, I slowly got more and more annoyed by things.  I got annoyed at girls who claimed that music was their life.  Music wasn’t their life!  Hanging on to the hot band of the moment and trying to date a member of the band was their goal. I’m not talking about girls whose friends are mostly guys in bands and so by default, of course they’re going to end up with guys in bands more often than not. It’s those girls whose “passion” and “focus” in life is to chase down anyone in any band and to get “close” to them for superficial reasons. Those girls who, if a non-musician were to do something to her or have a certain lifestyle, immediately break up with and call a jerk. But if it’s someone who’s a local celebrity, it’s not even an issue. It’s those girls who are obsessed with darker music, so they dress “goth”, but then when that’s not what’s big in the scene, they suddenly and overnight become an emo kid. I could never relate why a girl would focus their life on chasing down musicians when if they put even half that energy into starting their own band, they would probably fill whatever void they’re trying to fill. And then they’d be fighting off their own guys who want them! I can’t relate to these girls at allllll. I can’t understand anyone whose only “passion” in life is who they are going to get with. They don’t have any hobbies, talents, or real interests in anything of substance. It’s fine to want to be with someone. But if that’s all your life is about, there’s something missing. Besides, what do you really have to offer someone if you don’t have a good personality and traits of your own?

I know this is not all females in the music scene here, but the truth is it’s definitely the overwhelming majority. I always hear girls talk about how badly they want to be in a band. But they have no dedication to it. If they actually end up to the point of being in a band, they don’t want to put the work and complete sacrifice that goes into it. They don’t want to be a musician, they want to be recognized. There’s a difference.

It’s like what Oprah Winfrey said once in one of her shows. When she was starting out and was a local news anchor, she told her agent she wanted to be an actress. And her agent said to her No, you don’t want to be an actress. You want to be a celebrity. There’s a difference. Do you really want to live in New York as a waitress making crappy money while constantly going to auditions and getting turned down? And Oprah said she realized her agent was right and that she stopped focusing on that. Because she realized that who she is now is what her dream was all along. That was what she loved focusing her life on at that time.  But back then, there wasn’t much fame in it.

The very few female friends I’ve had, the friendship didn’t last very long. Most of them didn’t end in big fights or anything. It was more of a …. they were interested in someone in my band, or someone our band was closely connected to – like another band we played with often…. and “coincidentally” after hanging out for a while, they’d tell me that they’d been wanting to meet that guy before they’d met me. And once they got what they wanted or they moved on to the next big band in Baltimore, I’d stop hearing from them. And of course hindsight is 20/20 and now it makes me even more cautious of who I befriend.

And again, I know this is not the majority of females. And this is not me dissing music fans in general. I know that there would be no scene if it weren’t for the fans. But it’s those who I don’t really consider real fans. For example, I’m a fan of great visual artwork. I have very little talent in it myself, so when I see someone else’s work it fascinates me and I love it. And certain artworks can help me zone out or help me deal with someone that’s going on in my own life. But I’m not going to befriend all the artists just so I can date them. Does that make any sense?

But one day, I really started to think about it. Because the few other females that I can relate to have all said to me that they’ve had the same issues that I have. So I know it’s not me. And I started to wonder why things were the way the were.

Then I thought about the whole “women in rock” thing. Yes, there are a ton of women in rock music. It’s just that most aren’t mainstream. If you don’t spit out superficial crap like Avril Lavigne or Gwen Stefani (who really aren’t “rock” stars in my book), unfortunately there’s not a big audience for you in America. But, while there’s a ton of amazingly talented women in music, it’s still mostly males in this industry.

It’s definitely a change for me. When I was in music school, there were hardly any males. As a matter of fact, if a new guy came into the school, us girls were almost amazed. Since most of us were friends with each other more than people in school, the 2% of guys there were the only guys we knew.  But then when I got into my rebellious teenage years and was in a few crappy high school bands that don’t last, it was the other way around.

And I realized that a big reason there are more men in ROCK music, is because of people’s attitudes, especially parents. I had a stage mother. VERY involved in every aspect of school and piano. She is an amazingly talented classical musician, but she grew up in an extremely poor, rural part of South Korea, so there weren’t many opportunities for her. Her big dream for me was to become this famous concert pianist and play Carnegie Hall some day. In fact, it was her pushing me too hard that made me want to quit. Sure I wanted it, but she wanted it more than I did.

So you’d think that when I started playing out in bands, then playing solo, then playing back out in a band again – and doing well, that she’d be so happy, right? Happy that I’d once again focused my entire life on creating music. WRONG. She was so angry! Why was I doing music that wasn’t “real” music? Why was I in a field that is so unstable and there is no guarantee of becoming “successful”? Why would I be so stupid to take such a huge risk when before I was headed down the path to going to like a prestigious college for music and then through that I could become a professional concert musician. Why would I give up such a stable and sure shot for something that’s soooo not?

Because success to me isn’t defied in money or label status or anything like that. Success to me is being happy with what you’re doing. Knowing that you’re touching others. And being able to be proud of what your music is and what it’s about. Being able to express yourself. Even though I’d only been in a band that was “only” successful in the mid-atlantic region, to me I was accomplishing everything I had wanted and was happy as hell. We got to perform constantly to different crowds in different areas. We had a loyal fanbase. And truly the greatest thing was hearing personally from others that they could relate to us. Or that I inspired them to start taking piano lessons. Or girls telling me I inspired them to start a rock band of their own.

Sure, money is GREAT. It would certainly solve a lot of my problems. But I’d rather be poor and doing what I love than making a ton of money but hating my life. My friend Dan from a Freudian Slip put it best when he said: “I’d rather be poor and love what I’m doing. Practicing with my band, recording an album, and performing for people. There’s people that work their whole lives to make a ton of money just so they can get that two weeks of vacation. For what? To go to Bermuda and hang out with old people? I’m living a vacation everyday of my life”.

But parents are a lot less anxious about a male going out and living an unstable life and doing “crazy” things than with a girl. Parents are much more protective of their daughters. You can take the same parents who have a son who’s sacrificing his life for whatever dream and while they might not have had that in mind for him, they’re supportive. The same parents have a daughter who tells them she wants a guitar for her birthday. They think it’s some kind of phase and then, like two years later when they finally decide to buy her the guitar because she’s still interested in it, they think that’s the end of it. But then when she starts hanging out with other musicians and jamming out, they get concerned. They want to know more about these people she’s hanging out with. Then if she actually joins a band and spends all her time on that, they start to put their foot down. What about college? What about becoming a doctor? It’s like they’d rather have their teenage daughter out at the mall hanging out with boys, eating Dairy Queen, and trying on the latest M-A-C Makeup products than be a musician. Oh no, that would be the death of her!

I was kicked out of the house when I was a teenager one night out of nowhere, mainly because my mother was sick and tired of the whole band thing. And while I was extremely upset, I felt free. I was like now that I’ve been put in this crappy situation, I’m going to make the best of it. And since I can do whatever I want, I have the freedom to focus on my music. AND I DID. I think in hindsight that getting kicked out was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because it made me realize it was the only thing I had. I was doing the music thing and going to school at the same time, but since that wasn’t a possibility anymore, I just focused everything on just the music. And I wasn’t under my parents strict supervision so if I wasn’t kicked out, I wouldn’t have networked and found the people who became my peers and who became my band mates.

So basically to sum it up, I think that the reason that a lot of females are not in bands, has a lot to do with not getting the support they deserve. Not all girls, of course, some really just don’t care about the music and just care about people’s status. But I think usually you can tell the ones who really know about music, but just don’t know how to play it.

But I also think that’s why, in my opinion, the percentage of women in rock that are so passionate and talented is higher than  the percentage of men.  If you have to fight off everyone getting in your way more than men, if you have to fight not just society’s view of you but your loved ones as well, it means you reaaalllly, truly want it badly. And because you had to work ten times harder than the guy next to you, not only to get to where you are, but to prove that you’re an above average musician and that you deserve to be doing this, you’re usually going to be damn good at it.

January 25, 2007

Talking Head club in Baltimore closing down

Original entry: http://cherryteresa.greatestjournal.com/2007/01/25/

http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=13181

I knew the Talking Head was closed. But I heard different stories other than what’s in this City Paper article. I heard most often that it was being torn down to build apartments. Some people said the city forced the owner to shut it down to build the apartments. Other people said that he was offered a bunch of money to close it down so that another company could turn it into apartments and charge high rent.

It just goes to show how you never really know what’s going on for sure.

December 28, 2006

Holidays

Original entry and comments: http://cherryteresa.greatestjournal.com/2006/12/28/

I didn’t do anything too exciting this year but I can’t complain. On Christmas, I went over to my mother’s and had dinner. It was good to spend time with her. And I talked to some relatives I hadn’t spoken with in a long time over the phone.

I almost didn’t go to my mother’s because I have been sick and I wasn’t feeling well on Christmas. I had to take a nap before I went there and I didn’t stay long because it hurt to even sit up. For more than two and half weeks now I’ve been sick and in pain. I have an infection that spread to my neck, shoulders, back, spine (spine is the most painful area with this illness), and even into my thighs, legs, and arms.

I do feel like I am getting better though. Slowly. I just hope that I am feeling better or at least decent by New Years Eve. If I have to stay home, I will be very angry! I bought tickets to see Lennex/Agents of the Sun at Fletchers. It should be a good show!

December 7, 2006

I’m in a disco band

Original entry and comments: http://cherryteresa.greatestjournal.com/2006/12/07/

The beginning of last week, I posted a bulletin on MySpace.com that I was in a funk/disco cover band that’s seeking a female singer. I got a bunch of messages from people going “HUH?!” So let me explain the deal.
Yes, I’m in a band now. We juuuust started working on stuff and that’s why you didn’t know.
No, we’re not being sexist. The reason why we want a female singer is because our guitarist (who’s male) is also singing. But there are a lot of disco songs that were performed by females and have lyrics that refer to being feminine subjects, so that’s why. We want a singer who can really sing well and sing the high notes. Anyone who’s ever heard me sing or even talk knows that I have a deeper voice so there’s no way I could do that. So basically some songs will have male vocals, some will have female, and some will have both.

And here’s what I want to make clear:
Why am I in a cover band?! I’ll be honest, at first when I was asked, I said no. But being in a cover band is a way to make money. For those of you who don’t know, most original bands lose money. Sure you usually get paid to play gigs but that usually doesn’t even cover the amount of money you’ve paid into for studio time, practice space, gas money driving to play out of state shows, merchandise, etc. And plus a lot of gigs you may get paid little or nothing because you are getting something bigger in return – such as you might be opening up for some big national act, or the show will be aired on the radio, or the show is guaranteed to have a big audience. I certainly never played in a band before for the money which is obvious when you know that I lost more money that I’ve even earned for being a musician. I’ve always done it for the love of the music. But at this time, I’m playing music for both the love of the music and to make some money.
As I stated a few months ago, I do not have a keyboard that I can use to perform on anymore; I just have a practice keyboard. (Go down a few entries on my journal and you will see the explanation on this). One of the huge obstacles I have in ever being in a serious band again is that I need to save up hundreds of dollars to get gear again. And when you consider the tens of thousands of dollars of debt I have from being sick, that’s going to take years to happen.
I am lucky enough and our vocalist/guitarist is nice enough to have offered me to use his keyboard for this band. So problem solved on that one! I can play out using his keyboard. And hopefully I will eventually save up some money to put toward buying myself one. Before you point the finger at me and call me a sell-out, thnk about this. I am making money doing something that I love. There are many musicians who make extra money by doing illegal things such as selling drugs whether as a full-time job or on the side. Then there are those who will do things they might not like such as working long hours at a high paying job they don’t like or even stripping. (I’m not saying people shouldn’t strip. I’m just saying that there are those who hate it but stay in the business for the money). Would I be called a sell out if I were doing any of those things for money? Probably not as likely as being called a sell out for being in a cover band. Sure I am adjusting to what the bar owners want but at least I am still doing what I enjoy. (Plus I actually like disco and funk music).
I also realized that until I find a band or find people to start a band that I really get along with musically, personally, “professionally”, etc. (and I am picky), I can still be out there performing. And while yeah part of it will be unfulfilling because I won’t get to be very creative (considering none of us are writing anything), there are still a lot of great things about this band. We just started practicing a couple weeks ago, and already we are getting along well. And I’m lucky in the fact that again I am in a band where every musician is very talented. (There is no weak link or person who is just there because we needed someone who plays “fill in the blank”. Unless you count myself haha). I actually like practice, I find it very fulfilling and I think it helps keep me centered. Then there’s the fact that the places we’re more than likely going to be playing are places that have built-in audiences/regular followings. So while we’re still going to bring our friends to shows, there’s no pressure to bring a certain amount of people. There’s also no pressure of having a CD done by a period of time since we’re a cover band. There’s also a lot of pressure taken away because this is something we’re doing for the fun of it. It’s not like we’re trying to make a name for ourselves or we have to question what direction we’re headed or if the band is going somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong. I like going into the studio. I like building up a following. I like having band merch and all that other stuff. But in a way, it will nice to just concentrate on playing rather than other things such as the business aspect of the music business.

Before you go off on me about how it’s messed up or backwards that most unsigned original bands lose money while cover bands make money (if you do it the right way), realize this: I know it’s messed up! But I don’t make the rules.
Also, my opinion still stays the same about orignal bands doing covers. Original bands should only do a small amount of covers. They should be really picky about what they cover. And the cover should sound like the artist who’s covering it while still doing justice to the original version. (For example: Johnny Cash did a cover of the song “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. But many Cash fans had no idea it was a cover because the song sounded like a song he would have written/performed usually. But the cover did not – in my opinion – do an injustice to the original version. And many Nine Inch Nail fans give Cash the thumbs up on his version). If your covers stick out like sore thumbs, if they are songs that anyone could tell is a cover because it doesn’t sound anything like your other songs, you’re doing it the wrong way. Also, if most crowds have little interest in your originals, but get pumped up when you peform a cover, you probably need to work on your originals or perhaps play different venues.
I don’t think that original bands should throw in a ton of covers in their set. I don’t normally like some of these half original/half cover bands. Pick what you want to be! If you want to stay an original band, then be selective with your covers or just don’t do any covers at all. If you really enjoy doing the covers (and especially if the covers sound like the original and not your band), then consider just being in a cover band.
(I’m not dissing the original bands who will sometimes play two or three hour sets at clubs they don’t usually play to make some extra cash and have to throw in several covers).

Moral of this long entry is that I’m in a disco/funk cover band and that doesn’t make me a hypocrite. And whenever I get a keyboard and meet the right people in the future, I will also be in an original band at the same time. And if it wasn’t for this cover band, I might not ever even have the chance to be in an original band again or at least not anytime soon. If you have a problem with that or would like to call me a sell-out then I suggest you buy me new gear yourself or raise money to pay my medical debt. Don’t want to? Didn’t think so. So shut it!

September 26, 2006

What I’ve been up to lately…

Original entry and comments: http://cherryteresa.greatestjournal.com/2006/09/26/

Well, surprisingly some people actually still check this journal to see if I update it. Due to some personal issues, I don’t have the internet at my apartment for the time being and haven’t for the past few months. But I do have internet access elsewhere so I will still update this from time to time. Just not as much as before. Thanks to those who do actually take the time to read my blog! 🙂

Let me just take a minute to answer some questions I’ve been getting a lot from people to clear some things up.

First of all, my health much better. I’m still not completely well and according to my doctors I probably won’t ever be well until I hit menopause – then I will have a whole host of other issues, of course! But compared to how I was before my second surgery, I feel like a million bucks. Now if only I could feel like I used to a couple years ago before all of this got really bad, I’d feel like a billion bucks. But you know, I shouldn’t complain because there are many people who have worse things they are going through. I just started being able to work again a couple months ago, which is something I couldn’t do before – not even a non-physical desk job. But now I can and I am and I feel like my life is starting to get back into a routine again.

My health still is up and down and at this point there is no way that I can commit to being in any type of serious band that plays out regularly, records, and all that good stuff. It’s just hard to predict how I’ll be feeling on a given day and I still have to go to pain management once a month along with other doctors every couple of months. The pain has only reduced it hasn’t gone away like I wish it would. It does break my heart that I am getting older and while time is slipping away, I can only stand back and be an observer. (Well, I’m not old. I’m turning 25 on October 25th, but these days I’m considered to have just a little bit of time left in the music business).

I really want to be out there in the music scene once again. And I feel soo weird just having a day job. Before this, I had a job with either: a band and/or a boyfriend and/or school and/or other commitments or lessons. But I just have a job now and that’s how a lot of people live their lives. And I’m not knocking those people but I don’t know how they do it! I have been so stressed out. Yes, that’s right – not having enough things to do makes me stress out. I can’t just sit still but I really have to for once in my life. For other people, this would be joyous and relaxing but not for me.
I’m so bored! Now I think I know why some people are so obsessed with being in a relationship and aren’t comfortable being single even for a minute. They end up with someone not so great because they think that’s better than being single, which isn’t good. But that’s a whole other story for another time…

As of a few weeks ago I’ve started going back out again and it feels great to see everyone again and see a lot of the bands in this area that I’ve grown to love. It has been weird just going to a show. With no flyers to hand out, no show dates to push on people, with no tickets to sell nor a CD to let people know about. You’d think that would feel great and relaxing. It is for the first few minutes. Just being able to: watch a band’s set, listen to their songs, and not worry about your own upcoming show. But when you see someone else out there promoting their band you just really miss your old life. At least that’s how it is for me.

And there is something else that happened that I don’t even like to admit. It makes me so sad! I had to sell my Yamaha S-80 and my Alesis amp. I didn’t want to, of course. It was either sell those or get evicted. If I got evicted, I’d end up having no place to put the keyboard anyway, so if I didn’t sell them I’d be homeless and and have no keyboard. So I had to sell it. With all the medical debt that I have now from being sick and on top of that not being able to work for about a year, it’s going to take me forever to save up enough money for a new keyboard. I still practice and write on my really crappy Kawaii keyboard. It’s better than nothing but it only has like three octaves, with voices that aren’t great, a bad feel to it, and I couldn’t ever use it to perform or even really jam out unless it was with acoustic instruments. I can’t hook it up to an amp (even if I still had an amp but I don’t even have that anymore!)

So basically to sum up the answers to the questions I’m getting a lot… Yes I’m a lot better but I’m still not “well”. And yes I’m still making music. I never quit. I was forced to be on a hiatus. I’m just not out there like I was before. But I hope and I am fighting to come back again when things get better. I have to get a lot better healthwise and if that happens then I still will be saving up to buy my equipment again. I just have to be patient. I am not a patient person so it’s going to be tough.

Please keep your emails coming. I love hearing from everyone.

Here is something random I found on a friend’s Myspace page.