RSS

How Do You Organizing Your Creativity?

If you’re a scatterbrain in the Danny Katz tradition, your draft lyrics, poems, sketches, etc. end up all over the place – in truncated text messages, Word files, emails, post-it notes and even scattered across several lipstick covered alcohol-stained cocktail napkins (don’t judge).

As much as I enjoy the lyric writing process I find that I spend a good amount of time organizing and culling lyrics to try to make something seamless out of the jigsaw mess that is my mind.

Melodies fortunately gel quicker and more organically for me. But lyrics? Hello hot mess. And while at one point I had a nice little folder of finalized and draft lyrics on my desktop, it then crashed. Go figure.

So… how do you organize your creativity?

 
 

Tags: , , ,

Music Made Me Insane

As a musician you might think I love being surrounded by music all the time and that music always brings me happiness. That was for the most part true until spending the past 6 months here in Tokyo. I mean — don’t get me wrong. I still love making and listening to music, but Tokyo has proven to me that when used in the wrong way, music can destroy you. Here’s my Top 10 list of the ways music used in Tokyo can crush your soul and make dolphins cry:

10. Coldstone – Yes, that Coldstone. From what I recall in the good ol’ U.S. of A., the staff will sing only when you tip them, which means often – though not always. At the Tokyo Coldstone, however, the staff sings for each customer while they’re preparing your ice cream. To their credit, they do ask “Do you mind if we sing?” Unfortunately most Japanese don’t want to be “rude” so they just nod “ok” and then the insanity begins. Sure, it’s entertaining at first – I can just hear some Japanese girl squeal “kawaii!!” (cute!!) like an ice-pick in my head – but it quickly descends into some quasi-Disney version of hell, where you’re surrounded by singers with English pronunciation so horrible that you’re left wondering what they’re singing beyond “happy!” and “smile!” You then notice that their blush is totally overdone and that they (men and women) look like cheap whores. And you’re probably there on a date with your wife who isn’t putting out anymore because she’s too busy raising your spoiled children… Incidentally, I went with a friend who very sternly said “NO!” when asked if they could sing. It was an absolutely amazing moment. They blushed. They awkwardly bowed. They looked down at the ice-cream in front of them and pondered questions like “why am I here?!” And for one glorious moment, Japan Inc. came to a grinding halt.

9. Right Wing Military Vans – Japan’s extreme right wing goons have this unfortunate habit of driving around in white or black vans blasting military music accompanied by announcements extolling the virtues of a “pure” Japan free of certain immigrants, foreigners, space aliens, etc. Given how annoying they are, I highly doubt they’re going to get any new recruits through their daily public service “announcements”. Seriously? If they want to recruit they should just get an anime girl with pink hair and giant boobies to flirt with wealthy captains of industry. She can then ask them to switch their political affiliation from moderate right winger to hard-core right winger/crypto-fascist conservative. Now – the music itself isn’t all that bad if you have a thing for military dirges but it’s SO LOUD plus with the announcements all the time I just want to cry. Even better is when the police escort them around like they’re BFF. Can I get a WTF? Thank you.

8. 7/11 – When you walk into any 7/11 convenience store here – and they are everywhere – you get assaulted by ::[bell-bell-bell]:: (as if the doors automatically opening don’t cue the staff that someone has entered) matched with cries of “Welcome!” You then notice that the store jingle “7/11 good feeling!!” is playing over and over and over interspersed with occasional rings, bird chirps and other random noises. If you listen closely you can make out a whisper of “would you like to play a game? How about Global Thermonuclear War?” from the ATM innocently glowing in the corner of the store.

On an aside, the 7/11 near my office is staffed by four crazies who – combined with the aforementioned soundtrack – might drive me to start drowning my morning Wheaties in warm sake: (1) “The crazy grandmother” – She mutters “welcome!” to no one in particular repeatedly while staring out the window as if remembering her childhood in a rice paddy. When she does notice you she speaks as if she’s jacked on speed. So HAPPY!! So DERANGED! Lord, get this woman back on her meds. Please. (2) “The gay magician” – This character is painfully skinny and flamboyantly gay. He likes to return change to you with a series of hand motions like he’s performing parlor tricks. (3) “The cartman” – This guy sounds just like a Japanese version of Cartman from Southpark. His voice can make paint peel. (4) “The brute” – Built like a linebacker she has all the grace of a hippo in a tutu.

7. The Life Department Store Jingle – Near my apartment is LIFE, an oddly named frumpy answer to the all-purpose higher-end department stores you find in more desirable parts of Tokyo (I live two stations north of Ikebukuro station – shit is country). Think of LIFE as K-Mart’s neglected step-child. Shopping there on weeknights is a decidedly understated affair but Sunday nights, thanks be to Jesus, they BLAST their stupid jingle on 6 different tape machines hidden throughout the grocery section. The jingle is about 30 seconds of pure torture – singers sounding like kids high on helium. If all 6 machines played the song at once, it might be tolerable but they’re Never. In. Sync. 6 machines! 6 Times the Insanity! The 6th level of Dante’s inferno!

6. Auld Lang Syne – This once-beautiful melody always signified closure on the year just passed and a deliriously optimistic (and shitfaced) look forward to the year ahead. But Japan has taken all the punch out of it… it’s played every time a business closes for the evening. The gym? Auld Lang Syne. The grocery store? Auld Lang Syne. The Pachinko (gambling) parlor? Auld Lang Syne… with an announcement in English saying “Thank you for shopping at our business. We hope to see you again soon!” As I have yet to see a non-Japanese person play Pachinko, I cannot for the life of me figure out why this announcement is in English – and further why it mentions shopping…

5. Gym Music – Music at the gym is not in of itself a bad thing. It can definitely help make workouts go by faster and, if the beat is good, motivate you to push harder. But at my local gym well… something’s not quite right. Perhaps it’s not just the music alone, but the juxtaposition of mediocre music and a very specific demographic. You see… if you mistakenly gaze into the aerobics room you will turn to a pillar of salt while leopard-print spandex-clad Japanese grandmothers do aerobics to dance remixes of such musical “gems” (vomit) as Celine Dion’s “Titanic” theme. Then afterwards they all mount stretching machines that closely resemble a mechanical bull/sex toy, rock back and forth on them in reckless abandon while lyrics such as “I wanna go down on you / taste your ice cream / in my mouth…” play on the gym speakers. I wish I was making this shit up folks.

4. Love Hotels – Yes I’ve been in them. Don’t judge. If you lived in an apartment made of timber with walls as thin as toilet paper, you would do the same. And if being in a hotel that exists solely for the purpose of having sex doesn’t bother you, the décor and music just might. Or so I hope. First, the visual inanity – upon entering you are confronted with any (or all) of the following: a Christmas tree, a bridal dress (that can be yours if you have 50 gazillion points – like every other business here Love Hotels allow you to accrue points on a point card which you can later redeem for gifts), a display case of hello kitty products (if you’re a slut you can get the whole collection in just one week!), plaster dogs dressed in wedding outfits, statues of Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, wrought iron farm animals and pretty much anything else you can conjure up while high.

How about the music that goes with the disturbing clusterf*ck visuals? More often than not Disney melodies played on a music box! To me it’s just downright creepy but this being Japan… In any event, if the lobby music (or that bridal dress!) doesn’t inspire you enough to get it on, each room is equipped with a television (for viewing porn or… the news?) and a karaoke machine (??)

My favorite love hotel (from which I am now banned – don’t ask) was a “Caribbean” themed one, replete with oversized parrot sculptures and fake coconut trees. While the lobby was remarkably free of music-box Disney melodies, once in the room we could not turn off the praise reggae soundtrack. There was something painfully amusing about getting it on while being immersed in refrains of “Lord save us! Lord save us!” Thinking we could escape from it in the bathroom, we were met with traditional Japanese post-war era songs. Wth, Japan.

3. Tofu Trucks – As Tokyo suffers under yet another summer of hell (Rain! Humidity! Mold! Body Odor!) I can feel my brain melting out my ear. I thought I had totally lost it a few weeks ago when I started hearing two notes over-and-over again on what sounded like a harmonica. Like a mosquito buzzing in my ear, I couldn’t quite find it and swat it. I couldn’t even tell if it was coming through my office window or from the depths of hell, those notes sound eerily like the theme to Jaws. The other day I was out getting lunch and heard it again. If you buy it they will come. I seriously thought the mothership had come to claim me. Or that a shark was about to jump through the pavement and maul me. I swung around ready to defend myself and saw a small Japanese woman pulling along a cart of tofu as she blew on what could best be described as a rinky-dink-plastic shofar. I was not amused. I have yet to try the tofu. It had better taste like Skittles and make me shit glitter.

2. Trucks Making Left Turns – Ok, I get it. Safety is important. People don’t kill people, trucks kill people. But is it really necessary every time a truck is turning left for it to blast an announcement that goes “[musical bells] The truck is turning left. Be careful! [musical bells] The truck is turning left. Be careful! [musical bells] The truck is turning…” … ::Danny hadoukens truck::

1. Door closing jingles – On many of Tokyo’s commuter trains and subways, music is played to advise passengers that the train doors are closing, as if we can’t tell by the “Be careful! The doors are closing!” announcements shouted multiple times. While door closing jingles are, I suppose, cute in theory there’s only so many times one can hear the Astro Boy theme song at Takadanobaba Station before wanting to light Astro Boy on fire. I’ve caught myself humming these door closing jingles as I go about my day, occasionally stopping to think “Who sings this song and how did it get stuck in my head? Oh that’s right – it’s the door closing jingle from Zoshigaya station?!?! FML!” This is not a good thing, trust me. It means I am losing my mind.

And there you have it, folks. Come visit 🙂 But be sure to pack your iPod and your earplugs!

How about your life – what are some ways that music has driven you bonkers (and I don’t mean that positively)?

Danny

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Does your organization represent a shamisen ensemble or an orchestra?

Today was our annual shamisen performance at the Brooklyn Botanic
Garden’s Cherry Blossom Festival.  Rehearsing our pieces reminded me
how challenging it is for our ensemble to perform together.  Not only
do we usually practice just one on one with our teacher (only rehearsing 4 times as a complete ensemble), we also function without a conductor.

In an orchestra, the conductor keeps the ensemble together.  They’re
almost always on a platform elevated so all members of the ensemble
can see them and follow.  By comparison, we have to pick up on subtle
body language from our key shamisen and koto players who are seated in
and performing as ensemble members.

Mind you – were we a small group, e.g. a string quartet, this wouldn’t
be such a big deal.  But when you’re dealing with 30 people, this proves to be quite challenging.

But each year we pull through with relatively few glitches.  And I think
this occurs for two reasons.

The first is that the key shamisen and koto player guide us rather than hold us to a strict baton rhythm.  What this means is that we REALLY have to listen to each other.  All the time.

At the risk of possibly oversimplifying (and because I’ve been reading
a shitload of business books lately), it’s like a business with
horizontal leadership, where the leadership consists of talented
listeners and gentle leaders.  And I think it works because we’re all
deeply committed to our ensemble (why else would we spent up to 15
hours in a given day preparing for one 5 minute performance?)

Does your organization represent a shamisen ensemble or an orchestra?
Which do you think is better?

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Music of Things

Today’s blog post title owes itself to the excellent debut CD by my music buddy John-Flor Sisante (www.myspace.com/johnflor).  You owe it to yourself to get “The Music of Things!”

Today I noticed myself humming a new melody over the sound of the late night subway workers doing track repairs.  Their repeated hammering provided the rhythmic background.

Thought it a bit odd that subway construction would lend itself to a melody.

What’s the most unusual place you’ve found yourself humming?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 28, 2008 in Inspiration, Rhythm, Songwriting

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Your MySpace? My YourSpace?

In theory, I embrace technological changes that allow me to get my music to the most people the fastest way possible. But unlike many younger musicians who seem to adopt these innovations immediately, I tend to jump on the bandwagon a bit late and almost always after something’s gone “viral.” Case in point – I only created a MySpace page when more than half the musicians I know had already joined and raved about it. And Facebook took me even longer to cave on. Now they’re both the lifeblood of my promotions, go figure.

Why did it take me so long to adopt these two platforms? Because I’m concerned that in being so plugged into the latest internet trend I’ll lose perspective on what’s most important to me – writing and performing music. All the promotion and spamming in the world isn’t going to be too useful if your songs suck. And I’m wary of our “quick-fix” culture, with shows like American Idol perpetuating the myth that just by entering you’ll have an overnight chance at fame (and by implication – a career in the music industry).Case in point – does anyone even remember who the fuck Taylor Hicks is?

I think though that what’s happened with all the musicians on MySpace and YouTube reflects a cultural tendency that favors instant gratification and fame over hard work, e.g. Thinking that getting into American Idol is all you need to “make it.” And I think my reason for holding off is I’d like to pretend that this has nothing to do with my being technologically challenged (my 65 year old mother who remembers the bombs destroying her town of Kumamoto, Japan got a palm pilot a year before me!) And while there’s plenty of positive things to come out of Internet innovation (just see how quickly some bands have climbed the charts once they went viral on YouTube and/or MySpace), I wonder if this new Internet heavy presence is becoming a substitute for face to face communications and the communal experience of live music performances.

A few months back, Fast Company magazine had a debate between two designers, one who said that the touch screen interface will come to be integrated into our daily lives without resistance.The other said that no digital interface can take the place of a live, tactile experience. He ended by posing a question along the lines of “what will you respond to more – a bouquet of freshly cut flower, or an email attaching a picture of flowers?” So in this context, is watching a performance on a screen ever the same or as rewarding as seeing live music?(Maybe Madonna was onto something when she decided to go with LiveNation – a live concert promoter – instead of renewing her contract with Warner.)

It’s interesting to see how interfacing with technology to promote music can bring out the best and worst in musicians’ insatiable egos, and how the rush to get more and more “friends” is often seen as a legit substitute for common sense, basic courtesy and organically building your fan base. Another attempt at the quick-fix. For example, I’ve gotten so many MySpace friend requests from musicians who don’t send a message, who never follow up and who seem to be requesting me arbitrarily just to up their numbers – to wit, just in one hour alone I got friend requests from a heavy metal band, a hip-hop record label and a country band – and one even got angry when I try to communicate with them. When I asked the metal group how they found me, their reply? “Oh, I don’t know. Listen to our music!” to which my thought was “Hmm. Go f*ck yourself?”

Perhaps a good comparison to the problem with musicians and MySpace (or in the larger context – the integration of the Internet into our lived) is that we’re doing the online equivalent of walking into a bar, seeing someone we like, shoving our business card down their pants without any introduction, promptly leaving the bar and then wondering why they never call to ask us out on a date! Before you think me trying to be above the fray- I admit I’m just as guilty of being cyber-etiquette challenged as anyone else I’ve met. And from a practical standpoint, it’s hard to spam or leave the identical comment to people when you see them face to face.But with the anonymity of the internet, I’m especially wary of not bringing real world etiquette to the Internet as anyone else, especially the way I handle my happy holidays MySpace comments. Copy and paste, anyone? I mean – I’ve got 100+ messages to reply to on MySpace that I probably won’t be able to get even close to answering for another month. Yes, it’s rude, I know. But if I get any less sleep than I am now, I won’t be able to function. So to clarify – I don’t wish to blame any musicians for how they conduct themselves on the Internet. Staying in touch with 500+ people on top of a day job is impossible.

But I think the best lesson learned from this is that it’s all the more evident with technological advents how important it is to do the legwork and pay your dues, and how to build relationships with your fans one conversation at a time.

While I’m excited by how these new tools allow us musicians to reach fans without some big monolithic corporate label behind us, I always find myself wanting to adopt technological advances after a l guess I’m a lil bit of a curmudgeon in this regard.

Anyways, a poorly edited entry. Apologies for that. Guess I’ve been spending too much time on YouTube :-X

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2008 in Music, New media

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Strangely Beautiful…er? 2? The Prequel?

My commute to and from work has introduced me to all of New York City’s crazies, e.g.: the woman  dressed to the nines who picked her nose and farted half the train ride, the guy who wanted me to be his fake bf to make his current bf jealous, the girl who had the most horrific speed dating experience ever, the prom queen wannabes, the woman with no less than 6 bags of Whole Foods – on a rush hour train mind you, the guy that was convinced he was Superman of Johnson City, TN, etc. 

Definitely some humorous ditties there. 

The album will also have its fair share of emo-tastical songs as well, since the possibility of giving the city I love a little break to move with my bf  to Cali is definitely on the horizon.  So ya know… Songs about love, loss and home. 

I’ve already drafted 30 songs which I’ll hopefully start recording demos of on YouTube this year and then hit the studio in early ’09.  At least at this point, I’m envisioning a musical mish-mash in the Beck tradition… except with some neo-soul, beatboxing, trip-hop, enka, chamber pop, pop punk and big band thrown in for good measure.  And maybe some more shamisen and a Japanese music ensemble *TWANG*

But all that being said, if “More Than Meets the Ear” does partiicularly well, I might be on the road promoting it, in which case the next album may not happen until ’11. 

That is unless there’s a sugar daddy/mommy reading this who wants to donate 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 1, 2008 in Music, transformers

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Brooklyn 2 Beantown – Concert at B.U.

This morning found me getting off the subway at 53rd/Lex and walking 4 avenues and 10 blocks while carrying two backpacks, a guitar, three coffees, a box of Dunkin Donuts munchkins and a partridge in a pear tree.  En route to Matt Sia’s (www.myspace.com/mattsia) apartment, I looked fracking ridiculous.  But several munchkins later he, his fiancé Marisa, buddy Rob Lara (http://www.myspace.com/roblara) and I were on our way.  No major hitches until I, as C.S.N. – Chief Spaztic Navigator, mixed up I-84E and West, I believe.  The exits are no less than 15+ minutes apart.  So if you miss your exit, oh well… you’re F*CKED.

Despite my inability to comprehend the most basic of directions, we eventually managed to make it to Cambridge when we hit a car (not Rob’s fault, the other driver was taking a left onto two lanes of oncoming traffic, appearing to intentionally slow down when Rob laid on the horn and breaks).  What ensued post accident was an amusing exchange between two American-born Filipinos and a considerably older, fobby Chinese-American couple.  Fortunately, the police officer that came by was very patient and even-handed about everything (despite looking painfully ridonkulous in an oversized, poofie hat, Starwars Storm trooper boots, chewing gum like a COW and also talking with the thickest Bahstahn accent I have EVAH heard).  On several occasions he had to tell the old Asian woman to “go back to your CAHHH!” since she kept attempting to peer over the officer’s shoulder and change the story around.

I’m sure the police officer returned to his precinct with some interesting stories… “Hey Joe!  You’ll never guess what I had to take care of today.  How many Chinese does it take to…”  ::drum roll/cymbal crash::

We eventually met the rest of the “roaming Asian mafia” (as I dubbed the 8 of us) and headed over to Matt’s sister’s apartment.  While the rest of the gang went to 5 o’clock mass, Annarei D. and I (the Agnostic and the Jew) watched “13 Ghosts” while I hid behind a mountain of pillows.  Wow – if you want to see a movie that’s bizarrely awful AND gross, so much so that it ends up being cultishly campy, then this is the movie for you.  No matter how hard I tried while watching it, I could not shake the image of Tony Shalhoub, who’s the main actor in the movie, portraying any character other than Monk.

Prepping the B.U. show was a blur of tuning, sound checking and catching up with Alfa Garcia (www.myspace.com/alfa), who I haven’t spoke to in months.  She opened the event performing material from her forthcoming album (which you MUST listen to – it’s awesome).  Her growth as a songwriter over the past few years has been profound, and I was honored that she invited me to the stage to perform two songs with her.  Matt Sia’s set followed.  I’m always floored by how cool and collected he is on stage – a true folky (albeit one with a fine understanding of how to use a loop pedal!), just having a nice conversation with the crowd.  He invited Jay Legaspi (www.myspace.com/jaylegaspi) and Rob up on stage for a great cover of Tenacious D’s “Tribute (The Greatest Song In The World)” and then Jay joined on stage to beatbox for another one of Matt’s songs.

While enjoying their set, I tried to gauge the audience based on what they reacted best to.  I decided to start my set with my 80s cartoon theme song medley, which everyone sang along to except when I got to the theme song for “Jem.”  Apparently only gay audiences know that one!  I then played my Missy Elliott/John Denver fusion version of “Work It,” followed by my ode to the joys and pitfalls of internet dating, “Even I’ve Got Standards.”  This was followed by a debut of “Arcee” from my forthcoming “More Than Meets the Ear: (Selections from) Transformers the Musical,” then I continued with an emo moment – “You’ve Just Begun to Discover.”  In case I wasn’t campy enough, I ended the set with “Karma Chameleon.”

Upon concluding my set it occurred to me just how unfiltered a set it was.  If you’ve seen me perform live, you know I swear like a sailor.  (Heck, you can see it in my blogging, too.)  At a divey bar in the East Village, that’s all good and fine, but when you’re performing for a predominantly Filipino/Filipino-American audience, there are undoubtedly some audience members who are good and churchy.  Hope I didn’t offend anyone!!!  Well, too much at least 🙂

For Jay Legaspi’s set, he introduced a Talk Box – perhaps best known from the weird vocal intro riff to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.”  Despite this neat gadget, the audience was quite subdued throughout his set until Matt Pana (http://www.myspace.com/panapresents) guest bucket-drummed for a song.  The banter between Jay and Matt reminded me of the banter when I’ve performed with my sister.  I’ll be rambling on about some story behind a song and she’ll interject with “Danny – nobody cares.”  I think at one point, Matt said something to the effect of “Uh, Jay?  Just play the song…”

Matty P. (www.myspace.com/mattpereyra), a Berkley College of Music senior, entertained with an all original set.  While played on acoustic guitar, his songs would definitely fit with a rock band.  Seeing his confidence on stage got me wondering where I’d be with my music career had I gone to Berkeley instead of Sarah Lawrence, where I chose to major in the murky scrubland between Asian/Asian-American Studies and Queer Theory, instead of pursuing a music or performance studies major.

I was reminded how much I enjoy performing for college audiences tonight.  They possess this rare combination of awkwardness, sincerity and idealism.  Performing for them reminds me of how I saw the world 10+ years ago, and how, while I wouldn’t trade anything for what the real word has taught me since, I’d like to be able to see it again. That’s to say that while time has taught me to roll with life’s punches, I sometimes long for the burning energy and almost blind idealism I had when I was 19.  And I think that longing is part of the reason I enjoy sharing the stage with younger performers, or if they’re older, then performers who are young at heart.

In earlier ramblings, I’ve reflected on the challenges that come with presenting oneself or having oneself be presented as an Asian-American singer/songwriter as well as the challenges that come with playing to predominantly Asian-American audiences.  Those challenges being what they are, I was particular struck by how diverse the musical styles were that we presented at B.U. And I was further struck by how almost all of the songs performed were about universal themes, rather than any sort of stereotypical Asian-American themes, e.g. the immigrant experience, experiences with racism, experiences with stereotyping, etc.  Not that there’s anything wrong with songs that cover those themes; protest and political songs definitely have their value and I think they can be important to one’s finding their artistic voice – if you don’t know yourself, how can you write for others?

But seeing what went down at B.U., I’m curious if the “Asian-American music scene” might be growing in tandem with the larger Asian-American population, and the political empowerment that goes along with growing numbers.  What I mean by this is if we are at a stage in the Asian-American community’s voice where talking about identity isn’t essential anymore.  As the Asian-American music scene evolves and defines itself, there might be less of a desire to write and perform songs that are specific to the collective Asian-American experience.  Or there might be MORE of a collective desire.  Iunno…  I guess time will tell.  And I’m sure I will return to this topic again and again as I try to sort it out.

But while I’m rambling about collective experiences, I think something a lot of touring musicians contend with is the issue of where “home” is for them (regardless of ethnic and cultural upbringing).  I certainly return to this question time and time again – and I’m not even on the road that much!  Playing this show pushed that question to the forefront.

Years ago, I asked my mom what she considers to be home, since although born and raised in Japan, she’s lived more than half of her life in the U.S.  Now a practicing Jew, she hasn’t relinquished her Japanese citizenship for an American one.  When I asked her what she felt home to be, she said something to the effect of “home being something that’s inside of you and that’s shaped by your life experiences.”

As we drove through Boston, I kept looking out the window thinking “I could live here…” but would it ever truly become home?  New York definitely feels like home; with the exception of a year living in Japan, I’ve lived within a 40 mile radius of NYC my entire life.  Yet home for me has been shaped by PEOPLE.  Home is someplace I feel I belong, where I meet groups of people with whom I have a shared set of experiences.  What was reinforced playing B.U. was that the more I perform outside of New York, and the further I get from the people who have made this feel like home, the more important it is to find a sense of home wherever I am – by being able to connection with complete strangers and to achieve something like small-town feel wherever my touring takes me.

I think the small town feel appear to me in particular because I grew up in the suburb of Scarsdale.  While the population of 20,000 doesn’t sound like a small town, it had a small town feel- most people knew each other in one capacity or another.  Now it may be partly growing up and/or partly the culture of NYC, but since moving from Scarsdale to the city itself, I’ve learned to connect with people intensely for a moment, knowing full well it might be days, weeks, months and possibly even years before our paths will cross again.  And while there are plenty of amazing people here that I’d love to get to know better, I’ve come to accept that there’s not enough time.  The ability to connect on the go and still feel part of a larger community is particularly important to my surviving away from the geographically specific home off NYC but it’s a skill I’ve been learning BECAUSE I live in NYC.

At the same time, I think in order to articulate what home really is, I may need to leave it, for long periods of time.  Rob Lara and I spoke at length on our ride back to NYC about his and Matt’s experiences growing up in Marquette, Michigan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquette,_Michigan).  They both left behind an amazing town to be in the thick of NYC’s insanity, but have somehow managed to still be small town boys at heart.  Why did they leave?  Perhaps Matt explains it best in song “Marquette.”  I think the lyrics speak for themselves.

Marquette, MI

by Matt Sia

Cold outside, it’s so
Rust-orange sun inside a periwinkle glow
Fifteenth Hole

Coming back, I understand now
How much more I do appreciate this town
Miss those sounds

Chorus:
Silence breaks away from the stone wall along the lake
And the air is sweeter than it’s ever been
With every breath, I take in memories of way back when
I left this place long ago
Now I’m home
I’m home

I’m paintin’ the rock tonight
The island fog is lifting, making for a perfect drive
Red and white

Cruising third at 3 a.m. over icy roads of sand and snow
Things have change and all the same, I let them fade
But still I’ll keep these memories not to return
Until I’d grown enough to see

Stars instead of lights
Cricket sounds instead of honking horns and sirens fill the night
Dragonflies

Chorus:
Silence breaks away from the stone wall along the lake
And the air is sweeter than it’s ever been
With every breath, I take in memories of way back when
I left this place long ago
Now I’m home
I’m home
I’m home