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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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


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.


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!


Grovel and Beg (or Support Music!)

Did you know it costs an artist $50 a year to have one album up on iTunes and Amazon?

One of the two albums I have on those sites is up for renewal in 5 days.

If you have ever considered buying one of my albums or just a song or two, now is the time to do so.

I recently reposted a tweet that said “How come people won’t pay $9.99 for an album that took months to make, but have no problem paying $6 for a fatty Starbucks drink?”  This is so true, and so sad.

I would love your support, but I would be happy knowing that this post inspired you to any CD of any artist out there.

Support Music!

But… if you want to by something of mine, here are all the links:

For my latest Witherwings CD (sassy, sultry, bluesy rock):

http://www.amazon.com/On-Lighter-and-Darker-Matters/dp/B003Z4FQP2/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312422889&sr=301-1

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/on-lighter-and-darker-matters/id386604210?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

For Mandala at Twilight (angsty, yet melodic industrial/synth-rock):

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soundtrack-to-Your-Demise/dp/B00499AHZG/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312423792&sr=301-1

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-soundtrack-to-your-demise/id400255201?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

If you leave a positive comment on Amazon in the “Customer Reviews” section I will post a HUGE public thank you here, on fb and twitter!


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.