Hello World.

making something 

 

if there is anything you should know about me it is that i often start cute new hobbies, like this blog, get busy (or forget) and stop. but sometimes i get bored and revisit them, like right now. 

so this past year i've been writing and recording and i've definitely dropped hints about it but here it is for real: i am putting out new music very very soon!! i'm sooo excited for you to hear it... and i guess the point of this post is to dissect just what that sentence means to me. i think i've said or written it about a million times over the years and the more i think about it the more i think it is a worthless way of saying what i am actually feeling. i think every time i say it it loses more meaning. i'm realizing it's pretty ridiculous to attach the most superficial sentence i could possibly put together to music that i'm trying to make extremely honestly.

 so let's break this down like we're high schoolers in an advanced english class... 

 

"i'm sooo excited for you to hear it"

"i'm sooo excited":

first of all, the amount of "o"s in the word "sooo" is absolute bullshit. i'm aware my extra vowels aren't convincing me or anyone else of just HOW excited i am but i use them anyway. so from this we learn i'm banking on excessive letter usage to spice up my language just like a seventh grade girl sending that carefully crafted "heyyyy" text, because obviously the extra y's make it more casual.

now let's take a minute to talk about the word "excited". what a fucking lazy choice. "excited" could be exchanged for any of the following:

i am sooo ______

-anxious

-scared shitless

-fucking stoked

-eager to share the thing i've so carefully worked on

-proud of what i made

-glad i've finished recording this project

-incredibly sad i've finished recording this project

-confident in every decision i made

-rethinking every decision i made

but more honestly, it's all of those things at the same time.

 

"for you to hear it":

obviously i make music so you can hear it, but when i'm actually in the process of making it i don't like to think about that at all. it's so easy to get caught up in what other people think that it runs the risk of strangling the creativity and honesty out of you. i have spent a lot of my life way too concerned about what everyone else thinks of me. getting preoccupied with what other people think of the things you do, the things you say, the things you wear, or the things you make can become dangerously paralyzing. this time around making music has become a space that i get to take up all by myself, a place i get to make the thing that makes ME most excited. i realize this is kind of counterintuitive in an industry all about audience response and approval, but i really do find that writing specifically and honestly without fear of judgement creates the most relatable product. the hope is that by making something i truly love, someone else will love it too.

it can feel like i'm constantly worrying about what someone else might think of what i'm doing, what i'm saying, or how i look, and 


my favorite part of all of this is simply making the thing. it's taking the little feeling in my stomach, the melody in my head, and the words on the tip of my tongue and putting that puzzle together in a way that makes sense to me. when that happens you end up with a project you're super proud of and often at the same time a little scared of.

there will be more soon on the details of this release but most importantly i want you to know i am so close to sharing something that i really love, i am anxious, i am eager, and "i am sooo excited for you to hear it."

 

Ava

 

 

Making My Way Downtown  

HI FRIENDS. Welcome back!

 

So I've been in a bit of a writing slump lately. Everything I've tried to write doesn't go anywhere and I'm left with a bunch of starts to things that never end. I've gotten advice before to "just keep writing anyway" which is absolutely true, but I find that shifting what you're doing a little is even more effective. For instance, I started this blog. This obviously isn't songwriting but I have no doubt that exercising a different part of my mind is helping stretch my songwriting muscle. 

My favorite thing to do when I get stuck in slumps like this is to completely bury myself in music I didn't write; listen to it over and over again, learn to play it, study the lyrics, etc. Live and breathe someone else's creations for a little while and try to figure out the world they're writing about. Some sort of writing will inevitably come out of you if you're surrounding yourself with content you love. And even if it's shit, you have to write it. Keep the river running with water. It doesn't have to be crystal clear, but keep it moving. Keep the water running even if it's dirty and polluted, because one day you will get around to cleaning it up.

So I was starting to go through this process by immersing myself in the music of an artist I used to LOVE as a kid, Vanessa Carlton. Now, before you sarcastically start singing "A Thousand Miles"  I urge you to listen to her first album Be Not Nobody and imagine hearing that album for the first time at seven years old. That's what happened to me. It was the coolest thing in my little world to see a girl sitting at the piano with her long dark hair falling onto the keys singing emotional and angsty songs (sound familiar?) I had never seen anything like that before, and honestly those types of artists are few and far between now. 

Though young and naive, this album is authentic and raw. Listening to it now I realize she has songs like Wanted which is basically Lorde's Liability fifteen years earlier. With the lyrics "I am more than you will see, I am more than you will need, I am more than you will see, more than wanted" growing with intensity each time it's sung with a pounding left hand figure on the piano, how could you not fall in love with this song? 

During this time of sinking into her 2002 catalogue, I realized I hadn't heard any of Vanessa Carlton's new music and went searching. I found an interview of her talking about how she felt she hadn't truly found her sound until her 2011 album Rabbits On The Run. So of course, I went to find it immediately. The first track had me hooked, and honestly I didn't make it to the rest of the album for a good twenty minutes because I listened to that first track so many times.

It is a song called Carousel. I was simultaneously mad I had never heard it before and elated to be hearing it for the first time. The melody and harmonic changes aren't complex, it's mostly variations of I  IV  V but it evokes this nostalgic feeling that convinces me I've heard this song before.  The rhythm of the lyrics leaves no wasted space in the song. Each section lifts you right into the next. Every second is a well crafted dance between the melody and the rhythm of the words. The chorus is a simple major scale played under soaring vocals with the beautiful lyric "All you'll hear is the music, and beauty stands before you, love comes back around again, it's a carousel my friend." 

This song, to me, was so contagious. I listened to different versions of it for an hour straight and then I got this feeling that I just had to write a song. It's similar to the feeling of nausea followed by the realization that once you vomit you're going to feel so much better. And within an hour of sitting down at the piano I had started and finally finished the first song I have finished in months. It rarely ever happens like that which is why I always appreciate when it does. 

If you think I'm overreacting about how good Carousel is then I'll leave you with this; Stevie Nicks loves and recorded this song. Of course I did an insane amount of research on this song because I fell so head over heels in love with it. I learned that not only are Stevie Nicks and Vanessa Carlton are really close, but Carousel was Nicks' mother's favorite song. When her mother died she recorded a version of it with Vanessa. So if you don't want to take how beautiful this song is from the girl sitting in a cafe writing a blog, for God's sake take it from the woman who wrote Rhiannon.

Drown yourself in music, art, and creativity when you're feeling burnt out and stuck. Eat it all up until you're stuffed because eventually you'll vomit, brush your teeth, and feel better.  

 

Until next time

xxxx

Ava 

 

 

 

 

Oh my Lorde 

Hi everyone.

Welcome to my brand new blog. I decided I wanted to talk a bit more about my favorite music, new and old, because my music wouldn't exist without it. I haven't written like this in years so it'll probably take a few weeks to get back into the practice of disciplined writing but I'm going to take a stab at it anyway.

disclaimer: I am by no means a critic, journalist, or trained writer in this medium. BUT I think about this shit every day and want to share with you. Please feel free to interact by commenting, sending me YOUR favorite music (or original music), and/or correcting my grammar. Here we go. 

 

So of course I had to start by addressing the album currently ruling my life, Lorde's Melodrama. It's been less than a week since it's release and I can't get enough of it. The artistry tangled into this album is unlike what I've seen in pop music in recent years. The musical, lyrical, and sonic themes reoccur throughout the record, weaving in and out like a vine linking these tracks together. It's been a while since I've sat down and listened to a pop album top to bottom and felt that was the way it was made to be listened to, like a book with chapters, or a journey with a destination. When I go back to listen to the album it's hard to isolate certain tracks. I want to listen to it from beginning to end over and over again. That's a true testament to the meticulous writing in this album. 

Let's talk about the brilliance of the title, Melodrama. One thing I love about songwriting is the ability to freeze feelings into little three minute moments. Often this translates as dramatic because there's no time to be wishy washy or doubtful. You've got three minutes to make your case so you're gunna want to choose your words deliberately and intentionally. Songwriting often cuts out all the "fluff". (The same fluff our high school English teachers specifically told us not to put in our essays but we all did anyway.) Songwriting is certain, direct, and purposeful. In many cases, including Lorde's, this translates to heightened reality, a drama that makes the littlest sound, feeling, or word feel huge.

To me, songwriting is overreacting. It's refusing to move on. It's holding a grudge. It's framing and illuminating the thoughts you get embarrassed you had ten minutes after thinking them. It's taking moments that you'd otherwise let go and putting them in print, forever immortalizing them. It's fucking melodramatic. 

 

lets get specific: 

I could write about every single track on this album but I will only talk about a few of my favorites at the moment (deep tracks only, we all know Green Light is and will always be THE fucking jam)

Liability

if you ever wanted to know exactly what a heart breaking into a million pieces sounds like, listen to this song. The stripped down track is just a dampened piano and chilling vocal but it feels as huge as her synth and rhythm based tracks. The feeling of being "a little much for everyone" is so isolating and yet so universal. I could talk about how intimate and vulnerable this track is, or you could go listen to it because describing it doesn't come close to doing it justice. 

Writer in the Dark

This song is the writer's anthem. The lyrics "Now she's gunna play and sing and lock you in her heart" is exactly the immortalization I mentioned earlier. I can't help but think this line is a bit of a nod to the stereotype of a female songwriter. We've seen this issue addressed in recent years a la Taylor Swift and her song Blank Space (she will be getting her own blog post eventually, don't worry). The "crazy" ex-girlfriend title is an obvious double standard often thrown on female singer-songwriters who write about love and loss. Lorde has no time for that bullshit. It's not "overly emotional" to write a song like this, it's honest. And she committed by doing it so unapologetically. I love this lyric and how she owns the internalization of her heartbreak and addresses the repurposing of it into songs. She sings of it as a strength when many talk of it as a weakness.

Lorde's pre-choruses are basically choruses and I'm not mad about it. The refrain "Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark" accompanied by single bass notes in the piano is probably my favorite part of this song. The simplicity draws you in before the doubled vocal on the actual chorus, "I am my mother's child" accompanied by full chords and strings. She really plays with the dynamics of this track in such simple ways that hits super hard. 

Supercut

A reoccurring lyrical theme in this album is the phrase "in my head" or "in my mind". I love the little glimpses we get into the vibrant, electric, pounding world inside Lorde's head. In Supercut we, again, get to see her unique perspective of the world. She even goes as far as taking all effects off her vocal toward the end of the song singing "in my head" with a dry sound making the listener feel like they're in the room (maybe even in her head) with her, really getting as close as you can without physically being there. 

The best part of the song has to be during the second pre-chorus (Lorde is the unofficial "goddess of the pre-chorus") Under the lyric "In your car, the radio up" she has a driving synth and drum that cuts out completely during the last beat when the vocal stops. That relief of empty space is everything. It's the breath of fresh air we didn't know we needed but are so glad we got. 

 

Thank you Lorde, for sharing your candid, authentic, and melodramatic moments. Please keep them coming. Lorde and her album have come into the pop scene and become the breath of fresh air in a room I didn't realize I was having trouble breathing in. 

 

until next time 

xxxx

Ava 

 

 

 

 

Summary

writing shit (important & unimportant) for anyone who will read it