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In Which I Participate in “Community Service”

I bet you are thinking, “Mandala? Doing community service? WHAT could she POSSIBLY have done?!?!”

It’s not what you think! Let me start at the beginning.

Diagon Alley is a Chicago-based band made up of some ridiculously talented musicians. I always look forward to their Tuesday night Twitter antics, known as Tuesday Night Community Service (TNCS) and was excited when they asked me to be one of their interviewees.

The premise is simple: the first part of the interview is about the musician’s current projects. In the second part, Diagon Alley gets personal. The third part is the lightning round: questions are fired off faster than answers can be returned. Want to see what it’s all about? I’ve transcribed my TNCS experience below.

*Note* Like with any instant messaging conversation, the questions and answers often get a little out of order. Inevitably, someone is typing an answer while another question or comment is being fired back. I took the liberty of making a few minor adjustments to the actual order in which a few of these comments appeared to make it less confusing. I didn’t omit anything; I just tried to keep comments on one subject matter together.

*Second Note* Diagon Alley IS a punk rock band. There are a couple of bad words and some toilet humor, so be warned if you take offence to such things.

Here we go…

Diagon Alley: Welcome to Tuesday Night Community Service.

Diagon Alley: Tonight we will be interviewing the very lovely @MandalaSongs Everyone follow and tune in!

Me: @DiagonAlleyBand Lovely? Why, thank you!

Diagon Alley: But of course.

Diagon Alley: Hey! How’s it going on this wonderful evening?

Me: It’s going very well! So glad to be a part of this tonight!! 🙂

Me: Just for the occasion, I dug out my cup from The Dungeon in NOLA. That was a crazy night with you guys & @DrearyInferi WTB!

Me: (Wrock the Boat)

Diagon Alley: Haa! You want to talk about Nola eh?

Me: I might plead the fifth depending on what you ask 😉

Diagon Alley: See the thing is..none of us can remember a single thing. We were just..home.

Me: I woke up to find I had my pic taken with Col. Sanders. Don’t remember that #WitheringsFact

Diagon Alley: Thats hot. Did you get some chicken?

Me: I wish I could remember! I think not. 😦

Diagon Alley: Now this story just took a shitty turn..

Diagon Alley: We are honored you have joined us. So what have you been up to? New songs? Shows? Tell us good things.

Me: My most recent project was a rather dark, piano-based, 5 song EP available only as a physical CD http://mandalasongs.com

Me: Going old school NO DIGITAL! j/k

Diagon Alley: Why you messing with us?

Diagon Alley: We will be stealing a copy as soon as we see you!

Me: You got it!!!

Me: I also am having a digital download sale over at http://witherwings.bandcamp.com

Me: http://witherwings.bandcamp.com is the only place to find my first Witherwings CD “Swept Away” in a digital format.

Diagon Alley: Any shows in the near future?

Me: I am working on a show for 2014 ATM. But that’s a tad into the future. I just had a baby in November, so no shows yet.

Me: I am SO open to doing shows, but I just didn’t plan on anything for the near future. Are you inviting me out to Chicago?

Diagon Alley: Excellent! Congratulations! That is all wonderful news!

Me: This kiddo is already really into music. I’m going to start training him to back me up very soon.

Diagon Alley: Family bands rule! 🙂

Me: No way! I think he will bring in the ladies to the merch table. He’s a cutie pie!

**editor’s note** I thought the comment “Now this story just took a shitty turn..” was a baby poop joke and so responded with the comment above. My bad.

Diagon Alley: Are you ready to get down to the nitty-gritty?

Me: YES!

Diagon Alley: Haaa awesome.

Diagon Alley: What’s your favorite song to do gardening to? We rock out Kenny Loggins.

Me: Green Day!

Diagon Alley: Who’s that?

Me: Some Environmental band I dunno.

Diagon Alley: They have a cool name. We are thinking of taking that name. You can be in the band.

Me: Sold. I miss being in a band!

Diagon Alley: We just started one. We are called Green Day.

Me: we are going to have so many fans already!

Diagon Alley: Yes. Are songs rock the fuck out!

Diagon Alley: How nitty-gritty do you get?

Me: Well we already established the baby poo factor. That’s pretty gritty!

Diagon Alley: What foot do you put your sock on first?

Me: Left

Diagon Alley: Try the right tomorrow. See what happens.

Me: That’s crazy talk. Too wild for me.

Diagon Alley: What do you do with the poo?

Me: Flush it because we are all hip and with it and use these cool hybrid environmentally sound diapers

Diagon Alley: Like the car?

Me: Yes. Also with no gas.

Diagon Alley: What’s your favorite breakfast cereal and why? Please also note and show your work.

Me: Damn, I was going to run down to the kitchen, and take a pic, but I ate it all! I stocked up on Count Chocula! ALLL GONE.

Diagon Alley: This is now a problem.

Me: I even looked to see if I had a pic of a box on my phone. I love it that much – I thought for sure I would have taken a pic

Me: Instead I will give you this pic of an omelette I once made.

omelete

Diagon Alley: We want omelets

Me: I will make some for our first band practice as Green Day.

Diagon Alley: How will you handle your breakfast

Me: I recently learned to make oatmeal with chocolate chips. See a trend?

Diagon Alley: The trend is set.

Diagon Alley: How does there color purple make you feel?

Me: I’m afraid I never saw that movie.

Diagon Alley: Did you read the book? Oprah is in it.

Me: Oprah WROTE it. You see her all the time in Chicago, right?

Diagon Alley: She buys weed from us. Cuki isn’t allowed within 100 feet of her. Old shit.

Diagon Alley:  Sooo. Are you ready for the lightning round?

Me: I sure hope so… I mean… BRING IT!

Diagon Alley: Pizza or Tacos?

Me: tacos

Diagon Alley: live or memorex?

Me: memorex

Diagon Alley: trolling or fly fishing?

Me: trolling on the net baby

Diagon Alley: Leather or micro-fiber?

Me: Leather

Diagon Alley: Overalls or Suspernders?

Me: neither

Diagon Alley: Dolphin or Porpoise?

Me: dolphin. people always confuse those two…

Diagon Alley: Polka or Waltz?

Me: POLKA

Diagon Alley: Butler or bartender?

Me: Bartender

Diagon Alley: Dark Grey or Light Grey?

Me: dark

Diagon Alley: Menthol or Full-flavor?

Me: cough cough neither

Diagon Alley: Grey or Gray?

Diagon Alley: Pj’s or Snuggie?

Me: pjs

Diagon Alley: Foot or Feet?

Me: It’s good to have two

Diagon Alley: Fight or Flight?

Me: I’m BUCKBEAK!

Diagon Alley: Baby Ruth or snickers?

Me: Snickers

Diagon Alley: Compression or Extrusion?

Me: Extruder!

Diagon Alley: Sharpie or dry-erase?

Me: Permanent!

Diagon Alley: Flour or Flower?

Me: flower

Diagon Alley: Cotton candy or a bag of sugar?

Me: both! Pour them in my mouth!

Diagon Alley: Pigeon-towed or Bow-legged?

Diagon Alley: Herpes or Hemmorhoids?

Diagon Alley: Raviolli or Rotini?

Me: yum

Diagon Alley: Cacti or Porcupine?

Me: I love animals

Diagon Alley: Desert or Ocean?

Me: always the water

Diagon Alley: York or New York?

Me: NEW YORK!

Diagon Alley: Dreamsicle or Fudgesicle?

Me: rOCKET pOP

Diagon Alley: Skidmark or Pee Stain?

Me: You are gross

Diagon Alley: Space Shuttle or Space Station?

Me: Don’t make me cry. I no longer have a choice!

Diagon Alley: Skynard or Allman Brothers?

Me: Freebird!

Diagon Alley: Fries or tots?

Me: tots

Diagon Alley: Beer or Shots?

Me: wine

Diagon Alley: Salt or Pepper?

Me: salt

Diagon Alley: 🙂 or 😀

Diagon Alley: Orange Soda or Grape Soda?

Me: Grape

Diagon Alley: Convection oven or microwave over?

Me: We have one that’s BOTH

Diagon Alley: Pandora or Spotify?

Me: Spotify gives me money

Diagon Alley: Handsome or Pretty?

Diagon Alley: Burps or Farts?

Me: burps

Diagon Alley: Bus or Train?

Me: train

Diagon Alley: Him or……

Diagon Alley: ….or himBFxLrPeCcAAIuIk.jpg:large

Me: GGGARRRRRRRRR DON’T SHOW ME THSES THINGS

Diagon Alley: Jekyll or Hyde?

Me: Hyde

Diagon Alley: Slow or Fast?

Diagon Alley: speed of light, or speed of sound

Me: sound. Love me a sonic boom!

Diagon Alley: sabb or volvo

Me: Neither

Diagon Alley: Trampled by elephants or Strangled by snakes?

Me: Elephants. Execpt for that one guy who got smothered by poo.

Diagon Alley: darth vader, or dark helmet

Me: That’s not fair

Diagon Alley: “take my hand”, or “when a man loves a woman”

Diagon Alley: Genesis or Apocalypse?

Diagon Alley: alligator or shark

Me: shark

Diagon Alley: blue or yellow

Diagon Alley: candy or chocolate

Me: ALL OF IT

Diagon Alley: Genesis or Phil Collins solo?

Me: Genesis

Diagon Alley: blondes or brunettes

Me: BLONDE

Diagon Alley: jumping or flying

Me: FLYING

Diagon Alley: wipe the seat clockwise, or counterclockwise

Me: You guys know to wipe? That is so awesome!

Diagon Alley: Genesis or Peter Gabriel solo?

Me: Peter!

Diagon Alley: have wrong size shoe, or wrong size underwear

Me: Ew. Harder to loose the shoe.

Diagon Alley: Giving money for the homeless or buy beer for the homeless?

Me: Well they might just buy beer. Eliminate the middle man

Diagon Alley: colonoscapy or a tummy tuck

Me: There is a poo theme here.

Diagon Alley: smoke 13 cigarettes or drink 13 beers in a row

Me: Beer.

Diagon Alley: Last one! Sausage fingers or Crooked talon toes?

Me: WHAT THE I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT IS.

Me: *panting*

Diagon Alley: We would like to thank the very wonderful @MandalaSongs for joining us tonight. We had a blast! Thank you.

Me: No, Thank YOU!!! That was a blast!!!

Me: See you guys this weekend for band practice. What do you want in your omelets?


Announcing My New Album, “Momentarily Distracted”

I have been meaning to post an update, but I have been so busy that I felt like I could not properly express all of my emotions.

I finished recording and editing my CD, sent it off to be printed, and it is now in my hands. It looks and sounds great.

I opened one and listened to it yesterday, and was surprised to find myself getting emotional about it. Writing these songs was a very different experience for me than it was with other albums and projects. Whether or not an album had a theme, I always tried to stay true to my source material, but it was a must to also make each song personal. This time around, there was no theme. This is not a CD about vampires or about witches and wizards.

I’ve not talked much about it on social media, but I am pregnant, and there is something about bringing a little baby into the world that made me want to dig deep and release a lot of darkness before the day I meet him or her. Some of the songs will not be easy to listen to. When I listened to the CD yesterday after having some distance from it, it was sort of hard for ME to listen to. In fact, I feel a little like Tori Amos as I enter into the uncomfortable territory as she often does with her songs.

I am very proud of this album. It is an EP, but it is a power-packed five songs, and I hope you enjoy them. I hope that people can relate to the songs and maybe feel the release that I did by writing and recording them.

I will be performing these songs live for the first time tonight here in DC and then tomorrow in Greensboro, North Carolina where I will also have the CDs for sale. On-line sales will start on Monday, and I will post an update here with that link when they go live. You can listen to short clips of two of the songs right now on my Website. The songs are called “Momentarily Distracted” and “Wrong.”

*UPDATE*  You can now purchase the CD from the shop on my Website!


My Thoughts on Amanda Palmer and Musicians Playing for Free

In the last couple of days I have seen many people posting about the recent controversy involving Amanda Palmer.

On August 21st, Amanda put out a call for volunteer musicians to join her and her band-mates on stage in every city of her tour. She offers to pay them in beer, t-shirts and hugs.

Several news outlets such as Prefix and Digital Music News have published articles either bashing this practice or talking about how people are bashing this practice in light of the huge amount of money she raised using Kickstarter. There are some pretty harsh replies in the comments.

But when I read the articles, I was not outraged. I didn’t see the fault in this request.

I thought from the headlines that I would be upset. After all, I am a musician who has had to play plenty of shows for no pay. Instead I was given the meager compensation of being allowed to operate a merchandise table, sometimes only during my set. I was even asked to play a show this past summer at a very large convention where my perks were so non-existent, I was not even privileged enough to be able to attend the convention!

Needless to say, I turned that one down.

I am lucky that my fans are generous and I usually make enough to cover gas and tolls, and can stash a little away for my next big equipment purchase (I am so close to getting new monitor speakers for the studio!!!)

I get the outrage though. I get that musicians are insulted that somehow people expect them to perform for free while everyone else involved in a production gets paid. I am not sure how or when this started, but it seems pretty common these days.

In fact, a former band-mate of mine, who has a new band and is playing regular (paid) gigs, recently posted a response he wrote to a request for his band to play for free. I might have clapped after reading it. I certainly shared it with anyone who would read it. This is what he posted on his facebook page:

Got an e-mail asking The StraightJackets to play a corporate affair…for free. They promised us “exposure” via their website and videos posted on YouTube that would be far more valuable.

Oh, by the way, they wanted us to bring the PA, too!

My response:

Thanks for contacting The StraightJackets.

Corporate shows start at $1500. Outside shows cost $1000 more because of the added PA necessary.

We will add your event to our calendar which gets THOUSANDS of hits and will add videos from the show to our video page giving you incredible exposure for your product. Literally millions of hits per month. You will have more clients than you have product for. That will more than offset the fee we charge to play for your event.

What…you don’t think that the exposure is worth the money?

Neither do we.

But, we are glad to provide you with this exposure since you have asked us to rehearse until we are good enough to be in demand, buy a full PA big enough to handle an outdoor event, travel to your event, set up our PA, play for your event and entertain your clients and friends, tear down, and load out our gear for you…all for free. I guess you are also wanting us to be skilled, talented, and professional, also for free.

Sorry.

You don’t give your pools away for free and we don’t give our music away for free, especially to corporations. You will be paying someone to pick up the garbage for your event, the least you can do is pay the musicians, too.

Good luck on your upcoming venture.

Stuart

So yeah, if this email got me all riled up, you would think I would be outraged by Amanda Palmer, right? Nope. Why? Because if I was reading Amanda Palmer’s blog, it would be because I was a huge fan. And if one of my favorite musicians gave me the chance to play with her on stage in my home town, I would take it without a thought. Beer, a t-shirt, and a hug as payment? Bonus.

She has a paid band backing her up. This call for volunteers is a way to incorporate her fans into her art. It is something she is known for. There is a reason she has a HUGE following and can do spontaneous shows and pack the place.

The controversy apparently arose from the fact that she raised a huge amount of money from Kickstarter. They wonder if she has all this cash, why can’t she pay these musicians?

I think people are missing the point.

Yeah, she did raise over a million dollars from Kickstarter, but since she breaks down where that money is going in her blog it is clear to see that this money is allocated to her amazing Kickstarter rewards and to creating and distributing the album. It has nothing to do with whether or not she has money left over to pay musicians; she IS paying her touring band. Instead, it is about her fans having a once-in-a-lifetime experience to become a part of her show rather than just watching it from afar.

So yes, I think musicians should be paid, but sometimes you take a freebie because it is something that is so cool, you just can’t pass it up. It might even lead to a future paying gig. There is a big difference between being asked to be the main entertainment for a private party and asking if any fans would like to be a part of their favorite musician’s show.

So you just keep doing what you are doing, Amanda Palmer.

***UPDATE*** (9/20/2012)

Digital Music News posted an article yesterday called Amanda Palmer Agrees to Pay Guest Musicians. The article quotes the blog, but does NOT post a link to it. I always like to read things in their entity, so I searched for it on my own, and now you can read it for yourself.

While searching, I also located a blog from September 14th that further explains Amanda’s personal experiences with volunteering or having to pay her own way, and the benefits she received from it.  For example, I learned about an experience she had with her former band:

“…sometimes even paying for my own travel for the privilege of playing with my idols. (the dresden dolls lost a lot of money in order to travel around opening up for nine inch nails. and good lord, were we grateful to lose that money…it won us a huge bunch of fans).”

Amanda makes many, many good points about how different things work for different artists, no matter how famous or how obscure. I really recommend reading it!

My opinion on the matter still remains that there are situations in which I volunteer my time, and others in which I do not. I guess it depends on whether or not I feel I am being taken advantage of, or if perhaps I am gaining some sort of advantage (even if small) for doing so. Only good can come of her decision to pay these musicians, but I still do not fault her for asking for volunteers. After all, I am in the middle of recording a CD at the moment, and where would I be if I didn’t have musician friends who were willing to work for peanuts?! The good will comes back around, my friends.


I Am Giving Away FREE Stuff!

You guys are so supportive and so complimentary and I appreciate you more than you know. Can you help me tell the rest of the world about my music?

As a HUGE thank you, I am giving away some cool stuff to the people who write positive reviews of my albums on Amazon.com

You have two weeks (until Friday August 19th at 11pm EST), so get writing!

Here is what you can get:

The first TWO (2) people to post a positive review of ~W~ “On Lighter and Darker Matters” on Amazon.com get:

  • A limited-edition white Buckbeak Witherwings logo shirt (I only have 1 of each size: M, L and XL so get your review posted ASAP for the best selection)
  • A ~W~ postcard
  • A ~W~ button

The THIRD and FOURTH (3rd & 4th) people to post a positive review of ~W~ “On Lighter and Darker Matters” on Amazon.com get:

  • A ~W~ key chain
  • A ~W~ postcard
  • A ~W~ button

The FIFTH and SIXTH (5th and 6th) people to post a positive review of ~W~ “On Lighter and Darker Matters” on Amazon.com get:

  • A ~W~ postcard
  • A ~W~ button

—————————————————————————————————————————–

The first THREE (3) people to post a positive review of Mandala at Twilight’s “The Soundtrack to Your Demise” on Amazon.com get:

  • A Mandala at Twilight t-shirt made by Twilight Tees. The shirts feature an apple with opalescent red ink and say “Mandala at Twilight: Twilight-Inspired ROCK.” These come in all sizes from S to XXXL in both ladies and womens fits.
  • A Mandala at Twilight postcard

(if you find you are the 7th or 8th or… 27th person to post, well, that is a problem I would be happy to have. I will send you something too. )

Here are the links to the two albums on Amazon:

Witherwings “On Lighter and Darker Matters”

Mandala at Twilight “The Soundtrack to Your Demise”

So you posted the review. YAY!!!

Now what?

Are you on facebook? Send your address to me in a private message. Only here on wordpress or seeing this from twitter? Email your address to me: fanmail@mandalasongs.com  Thanks so much everyone!!! I cannot wait to see what you guys think of the albums!


Upcoming Shows and New Merchandise

It is amazing how much time I have been spending everyday doing something relating to my music business.

Several Portland, Oregon DJs have expressed interest in my Mandala at Twilight music and I have been re-mixing many of the tracks to be better suited for club play. My albums tend to be mixed vocal-heavy, and that just does not translate as well to the dance floor. I have had to retrain my ear to mix the songs so that the bass and percussion are a little higher than normal to sound corectly mixed when played in a club.

Next, I have been spending many, many back-breaking (okay, maybe back-irritating) hours making new Witherwings t-shirts.  Each is hand made and I love them. I found a really great silver fabric paint that is opaque and looks good on dark shirts. The holographic glitter has these shirts making rainbows in the sun. They are a dream.

Why the new merch? Well I have a couple of big shows coming up and I wanted to have something new for my fans. In just over a week I will be performing in Bethlehem, Pensylvania at an event called Incendio 2011. Twenty two bands confirmed over two days. It is going to be some much fun. I have seen pics of the performance space and I am really excited about it.  June 10th and 11th (I perform as Witherwings on day 2.) Here is a link with more info: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=206457176033637 I performed at this event last year and I really recommended you check it out if you can!

I am also organizing a HUGE event in Orlando scheduled for July 23rd. It is going to be a very unique night in that it will be a combined art show and rock concert. The details are almost ready to be announced, so save the date if you are anywhere near Central Florida mid-July! There will be a show in North Carolina the night before on the 22nd, and I will get you those details as soon as I have them.

Want more details about upcoming shows? Want a shirt? Want a CD or a digital download? All you can ever want to know and more can be found at: http://mandalasongs.com/index

Okay, off to clean glitter off my dog. It is everywhere.