My Response to “Where Are the Female Voices From This Community?”

I’ve seen several blogs asking “where are the female voices from this community?”

I posted a blog over on Tumblr, since that is where most of this dialogue is taking place.

It is the opinion of one female wizard rocker. I realize that what I have to say sounds nothing like the blogs I’ve read from other wrockers. I am not sure if that is good or bad.

I can only speak for myself, and there was really nothing for me to post other than, “Well I am not completely surprised.”

That, however, does not make much of a sound-bite or quote.

If you are interested you can read the entire thing on my Tumblr page.

I will leave you with these questions though: Should we have done more to try changing these potentially dangerous situations? Was there anything we could have done? Is there something we in the community can do better in the future? Perhaps the ladies who are now speaking out have made us more aware, and more likely to say something if we see something inappropriate happening.

Advertisements

My “Lucky” Valentine

The wait is finally over! You voted and I delivered!

Poll Results

I am pleased to present to you the video for “Lucky.” I had a blast making it.

I got a bit delayed by the construction of the puppet theatre and by moving across the country, but I finally finished it last week.

Cleveland ConCoction, a SciFi, comic, and gaming convention that I will be performing at in May, has been so kind to me that I let them exclusively premier it a couple of days ago. Now I am sharing it with the rest of the world.

Consider this video my Valentine’s Day Thank You to all of you who voted and patiently waited for it!

Enjoy! ❤


Life’s Toolbox, Introspection, and Why I Write Songs

I realized something this morning. Every person goes through life with a toolbox. We pick up tools as we go along and others are passed down from our parents. The key to a happy life, and to being a solid parent, is to periodically go through the toolbox and check to see if some of the older tools are broken, and if so, determine if they can be mended. If not, perhaps they can be thrown away.

We’ve already inherited some baggage from our parents and picked up bad habits along the way. It’s best to get rid of that stuff before we start building the toolboxes for the next generation.

We will never be perfect and we will always have a few things we wish we’d done differently. However, if we make every attempt to be mindful of our thoughts, actions, and reactions, we can hope to make our children’s lives that much more stable than our own.

I realize this isn’t overtly about music and may seem out of context, but writing lyrics is one way for me to dig deep, pull out all of my junk, take a close look at it, and attempt to purge what is old, useless, or even harmful.

It can be an uncomfortable process, but the introspection is worth it in the end.


Help Me Determine My Next Music Video!

I am really pleased with my newest album “Momentarily Distracted” and would like to make a music video. I would LOVE YOUR HELP!

Of these three songs, which song would YOU most like to see a music video for?

This poll will be active for a month (until Sept 8th) but I could start on the video sooner if I see the results leaning dramatically in favor of one song.

*UPDATE* The poll is now closed. Here are the results:

Poll Results

Need to re-familiarize yourself with the songs? Here you go!

If you would like to purchase the album, just click on the bc logo on the right-hand side of the player! 🙂


In Which the Ringlords Interview Me

Saturday night I was honored to do a live chat interview with the Ringlords.™ We talked about music and books and music about books. From my first band, to my beginnings in wizard rock, to future projects (Wheel of Time rock!?!?!) we covered it all.

The Ringlords

Ringlords.™

Here is a transcript of the conversation:

{Please note that due to a bit of a lag, a few of the answers got separated from their questions. I put them back together here for ease of reading. I left nothing out and left all typos in place.}

Ringlords™: All ready to begin ?

Me: YESSSS! I see things now!

Me: You know, the page looked really weird. I thought it was becasue i was used to the phone app, but I think it was a freak alt-universe Ringlords page!

Me: Is this mic on? *tap tap tap*

Me: Hello hello?

Ringlords™: So, Mandala , Tell us a little about your new record

Me: I am really excited about a five-song EP I worked on at the end of last year called “Momentarily Distracted.” It is, in many ways, quite a departure from my other music projects.

Me: You can listen to it here! http://mandalasongs.bandcamp.com/

{Note: I am embedding a player here since a player appeared in the comment, though this shows only the first song}

Me: It has a very different feel from my other two projects: Witherwings and Mandala at Twilight. I basically get right to the heart of some very raw emotions with the lyrics and sparse musical arrangements. Piano and vocals dominate this album, with a couple of songs being backed by a classic trio of piano, drums and bass.

Ringlords™: very cool … we were amazed to see Vick Degiorgio listed on the credits … awesome musician

Me: He really is! He and I go way back! Let’s tag him.

Ringlords™: by wild coincidence Vick apparently knows Sue Martin who is friends with our Chicago crowd from waaay back

Me: Vick Degiorgio and I met in 2002. He was playing bass at a show for a friend of his and we got to talking when I was waiting to buy a CD. He invited me to his weekly music group and the rest is history.

Me: That history is that I performed in a band (that Vick was in) called SusieCool and the Coolotees from 2033-2009. This group of very experienced musicians took me under their wing to sing harmonies and ended up letting me sing lead on quite a few songs. They asked me to fill out the band right before they were to tape a poilet for a tv show that was to be an Orlando version of Austin City Limits. It never got picked up but it turned into some of the best years of my life. Before that performance they put me though “Crappy-Bar Boot Camp” where we played every dive in the city of Orlando 6 or seven nights a week (late into the night when I had to work the next day) until the taping of the show. They wanted to make sure I sounded, looked, and felt like I was a PART of the band and not the new girl. That was the best education I could have ever asked for as a musician and a performer. I earned my place on the stage, that’s for sure.

Me: Ha! I am not a time lord. 2003 NOT 2033.

Me: A name that might be more familiar to your followers though, is Russ Benoit. He played drums on two tracks on this album. You might know him as The Creevy Crisis.

Me: Gotta love the wrock family. I am so happy he played on the songs despite them NOT being wizard rock this time around.

Ringlords™: Yeah, Russ was working on a film, wasn’t he ?

Ringlords™: We understand that one of the songs on your new record has a literary background

Me: Lag…. gaaaahhh.

Me: Yeah, so though this is not a wrock album, or an album with a vampire lit theme, I could stray too far from my love of books!

Me: *couldn’t BIG DIFFERENCE

Ringlords™: Yes… for those of you unfamiliar with FB’s poor programming, anything that does not make them money is treated poorly

Me: “Wrong” is inspired by “The Taker” by Alma Katsu. It is the first of three books, but only the first two have been published. I was drawn to the horribly selfish deeds of the main character, Lanny. She falls in love with the boy in her town that all the girls are in love with. She does some pretty terrible things to try to make him hers. As the story goes on, she is made immortal and makes him immortal against his will to be with her forever. But he doesn’t want to be immortal. He does not love her with the same intensity that she loves him, and the big catch: only she can kill him – and he is begging her to. That is where the book begins… at the end, so to speak.

Me: What drew me to her and her situation is that, despite what sounds here like a very selfish character, is really a very complex woman who you come to sympathize with and like. It is a GREAT story. Oh and there is SO. MUCH. MORE. One word/character: Adair. Yeowza!

Ringlords™: You have quite the literary roots in your music … Tell us how you got into the wizarding sound …

Me: I attended a HP convention in 2007 I think. ANYONE? 2007? Called Phoenix Rising.

Me: It was not my first exposure to wizard rock, that was a Harry and the Potters concert the year before. But PR was the first time I thought that wrock might be for me. After returning home, and going on MySpace and seeing how supportive the community was, I really felt safe to try writing music on my own for the first time.

Me: Goggle confirms May 2007.

Me: I posted my first songs onto MySpace in October of 2007 and I have not stopped writing and performing!

Ringlords™: … and there’s was a clip we saw of you rocking with the Imperial Troopers

Ringlords™: Lessee if we can scare up the vid … hang on

Me: Ha! The Mandalorian Mercs!! They were so much fun. I love mixing with other fandoms. (I am a HUGE Star Wars fan, BTW.)

Me: I use a pic of that performance on my Witherwings band page.

Me:

 

Ringlords™: YES !! the very one !

Ringlords™: LOL! … very suave !

Ringlords™: Is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with that you haven’t tried ?

Me: I really love the Wheel of Time series, but my friend Pattie Beavensaid she would go postal if ever there was WoT Rock. I fear she might be serious so I have not attempted any. DON’T SPOIL THE LAST BOOK FOR ME ANYONE!!!

Ringlords™: Robert Jordan humm ? … we always wanted to see a band based on Heinlein … you should try something like that …

Me:  I’ve read a few Heinlein books… Other than Witherwings, I cannot see dedicating an entire album to one book or author. Books will always influence me though. as they do many musicians!

Ringlords™: So, where are you headed next ?

Me: I’m really just focused on now. I’ve got a new little baby here and he is keeping me quite busy. He loves music though so I can do shows. Lining up one for the Friedricksbrg VA area in the fall right now. Working on booking for 2014 as well.
I’ve worked on some new lyrics here and there but nothing polished.

Ringlords™: Ahh, bringing up baby … That’s gotta put the pressure on you … how do you handle juggling home and gigs?

Me: My husband helps me out a lot at shows. He is merch boy/Daddy extraordinaire!

Ringlords™: Do you get nervous before a performance ? & how do you handle a mistake when you are playing ?

Me: I do get nervous, but it is also a rush.
As for mistakes… Ha! I am like the story of George Washington announcing “I cannot tell a lie! I chopped down a cherry tree!” I usually announce it. “Whoops my bad!” “Whoa what was THAT!?” Luckily I’ve performed long enough that if I forgot the words, I am able to vamp and just keep playing until I can bring that part aroiund again and start over. Or I just make up words or sing about forgetting words. I don’t get upset about it. Unless I am trying to video the performance. But then again, there is a video of me forgetting the lyrics to “Malfoy” that I posted on Youtube. That was harder though because I was singing to an iPod. Then you cannot vamp. I just made fun of myself and started over. Let me find the video.

Me:

 
It comes about a minute in.

Ringlords™: How often and for how long do you practice?

Me: I really “cram” before a show.I get in ruts sometimes, and other times I regularly practice once a day. By that I mean spend time on music whether playing or writing. Baby has made that irregular though. Speaking of baby… sounds like I am needed…

Ringlords™: that’s our cue to wrap it up here … we want to thank Mandala for hanging out with us this evening and struggling through FB’s wony behaviors … be sure to pick up a copy of her new record at that Bandcamp link up above

Me: This has been really fun, guys! Thanks so much for having me and promoting the album. I am SO SO proud of it. $5 on b

Me: bandcamp

Me: Whoops! http://mandalasongs.bandcamp.com/

Me: Ha! Well i posted it again. 🙂 Thanks so much! Have a great weekend everyone!

Me: ❤

Ringlords™: And keep an eye on this page … we plan to bring you an interview with a certain author one of these days coming up


New Bandcamp Player Embeds

Looks like bandcamp has some snazzy new players to use on various social media platforms. Checking out the one for wordpress…

I just love bandcamp. They are so artist friendly. Really, if you are a musician, you should consider using this great site. If you are not a musician, but love music, this is the BEST way you can support your favorite musicians: they get to keep what you pay, and there are no start-up fees. Win/win.


Sexism and Being a Female Musician

A friend recently posted a blog that reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago at a sci-fi convention. I was not sure whether to chalk this event up to sexism in music, or just being new to that particular crowd.

The friend who posted the blog was Steph Anderson. She was moved to post her experiences with sexism in music after reading an article on BuzzFeed. What got my attention on this subject was that she and I have similar backgrounds. We both write and perform music about Harry Potter as well as about other topics that lend themselves to performing at sci-fi conventions.

My experience occurred at a convention whose theme changed yearly, and this particular year it was horror. All the guests and musical performances, known as filk, were horror-related. I performed as Mandala at Twilight, my vampire-themed music project.

I was excited to see that there was a song writing contest and eagerly entered it. I signed up an hour before the competition was to start and when I showed up at show time, there were only three other entrants. Two were male and one was female.

The audience was not huge, but there were people in attendance who were familiar with my vampire songs as well as my Harry Potter-themed music. Other audience members were familiar with my fellow songwriters because these filkers had been either performing at or attending this con over the years. I suspected that one of the contestants was recruited at the last minute to bulk up the number of competitors because, right before this musician performed his song, he admitted that he had just written it an hour before. It kind of sounded like he had.

After all four of us performed and while the judges were deliberating, the people I spoke with in the audience thought I had the first place award in the bag. I wasn’t sure about first place, but the one guy had a 10 minute-long song with about 15 verses, which made me start to daydream part-way through. His song was also a cappella, which it seems would not go over well with judges since a song is composed of more than lyrics and a melody; it also has accompanying music. Mr. Last Minute’s song was fair, and the other woman’s song was good, but I worried for her that her off-key performance would color the opinions of the judges. My song was more pop than traditional filk songs, but I figured a catchy lyrical hook, in addition to the fact that my song contained music, would help it to do well against the other song-writers given everything I just described.

The awards were handed out and I heard a few murmurs of surprise from the people sitting behind me. First place went to 15-verse guy, second place went to Mr. Last Minute, I placed third, and the other woman got fourth/last place. Someone behind me leaned forward and whispered that they were really surprised I did not get first place.

I was not too surprised. I figured that the two men were very active in the filk community in this area and that this familiarity may have played a role in the decisions of the judges. I thought, well they know me now, maybe next time.

After the room cleared out and I made my way into the hall, one of the judges approached me. She was the only female judge on the panel. She said she gave me the highest score and couldn’t understand why the other judges scored me as low as they did.

To this day I still do not know if it was that I was new to the scene, or more specifically, not in the “old boys” club. Neither should make a difference in a song-writing competition.

Art is subjective. Even if I really did think I was the best songwriter in the world, which I DO NOT, there is no way to know what will resonate with someone. I will never know for sure why the judges voted the way they did. At least third place looks snazzy if you don’t know it was out of four contestants. I got a nifty prize and was happy to get a few new fans, including the female judge who gave me her CD later that evening. What counts is that I enjoyed myself.

I just wish that the blatant sexism that we see all around didn’t force me to question if certain things don’t work out because I legitimately didn’t deserve them or simply because of my gender.