Acknowledgements for the Reconstruction EP

There were too many things to say to squeeze them onto a single insert page on a CD, so I am taking advantage of the space I have on this blog to list my acknowledgements and also to talk about the process of recording this album.

I will start with the acknowledgements to spare those who might not be interested in the technical details, though those details are cool, I swear! 😉

  • This album would not exist if it were not for the help and patience of my dear husband, and for the most laid-back (and super fantastic, seriously solidly sleeping) baby.
  • I want to thank my musician father for his feedback on songs when I thought the auditory “vision” was going astray. I love that we have music and songwriting in common.
  • I appreciate the graphic design advice given to me by my step-dad. This was rather tricky since he is not connected to the Internet and I had to describe to him, over the phone, what I wanted to accomplish on the album cover. Luckily he is a great (retired) designer, as well as a musician, so he gets it.
  • I am ever so grateful to my friend Jen Boone for helping with the photo shoot for the album cover. She is the first friend I made when we recently moved to Louisiana and we’ve not known each other very long. However, she was quick to lend a hand when I wanted to drive to an unfamiliar area of town to do a series of self portraits in front of an abandoned building. The word “abandoned” inspired a “YOU WANT TO GO ALONE AND TAKE THE BABY WHERE?” when I told my husband what I wanted to do. Jen was happy to babysit during the shoot, and to give me feedback on when the wind was blowing my dress just right. 🙂
  • And YOU. If you are reading this, it might be because you bought the album and saw the link to my blog. Thank you! Supporting musicians is what allows them to keep making more music. ❤

Other liner notes:

  • “Dusk to Dawn” originally appeared on my 2010 album The Soundtrack to Your Demise. Because that album is very different from the rest of my music, I thought it might be nice to attempt a dreamy piano version of the rhythmic, beat-heavy, and synth-driven original. I’m really happy with the piano arrangement.
  • The song title, “The Medium,” refers to a concept in the Legends of Muirwood series by Jeff Wheeler. Though this song is in fact about that concept, it is also about my general spiritual beliefs.
  • “Make Him Mine” is directly inspired by The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (written by Robert Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s passing.) If you’ve read the first three (of 14) books, you know whose point of view I am taking. It’s not spoiler-y, just in case you are avoiding spoilers.

Now for the technical stuff:

  • I am so very pleased to say that this album was recorded using entirely open source (FREE) software. I used Ardour 3 as my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and used Yoshimi and Qsampler for my MIDI sound fonts. I ran all these programs using 64-bit Ubuntu Studio 13.10, a Linux-based operating system (again, all free.)
  • For the beautiful grand piano sound, I used the open source Maestro Concert Grand piano sound font provided by Mats Helgesson.
  • I did not have any guest musicians appear on this album. I like to think I am rather resourceful at getting my keyboard (via MIDI) to sound as much like other instruments as possible. I try not to push those boundaries too hard though; I am still a piano player at heart.
  • My keyboard, an old Casio Privia, has a huge selection of drum presets, and it is amazing what a lot of time, patience, and clever editing can do to make boring, repetitive drum tracks a whole lot more interesting. For the record, in hindsight, it may have taken the same amount of time to just hire someone to play drums and record them. I ran into a few snags that had me searching dozens of presets for just the right boom/crash combo with a cymbal that was not too long and not too short. Painful.
  • If you are still reading this, you may enjoy some of my previous blogs about setting up my studio and using MIDI in Ardour. I also wrote a post on the specs of Ardour (though my blog post was written for the previous version of Ardour, it is still good for the basics.)

 

 

 

 

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Coming Soon!

Reconstruction: ComingSoon!

My new album!


A Look Into the Madness of a Mixing Musician?

Am I the only one who goes through tons of pieces of paper like this while mixing a CD? Am I just that OCD about it being as perfect as I can make it?

image


New Music Update

I’ve been working on new music everyday while the kiddo naps. I’ve been writing, recording, and editing the mix, which takes the most time of all three. After a month and a half of doing this 5-6 days a week, 2 hours a day, my five new songs have these percentages of being complete: 99%, 97%, 70%, 40%, and 1% (1% = stream of consciousness lyrical ideas in my notebook.)

I’m aiming to have an EP of new songs ready for Cleveland ConCoction at the end of May. Though I’ve been working on stuff every day, and doing some serious time management (ie. writing lyrics while waiting for the baby to fall asleep)I still have so much to do!

I need to keep plug plug plugging along. 🙂

 

 

 


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


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?