Birthday

My birthday is coming up. I don’t know what to do or how to celebrate under the current circumstances. So I’m asking you if you could make a donation for me.

Jezebel made a handy list of places to donate.

Here are some other places to donate that I personally believe contribute to society.

SIMS Foundation

CASH Music

EFF – Electronic Frontier Foundation

Majal.org

Thanks!

Rocks At My Head

Election night was difficult. I found myself watching the news with my husband and oldest son as the results came in. Immediately, I saw how many states were turning red and I began to sob uncontrollably. I was on Facebook and Twitter too reading the comments and feeling quite terrified about the future. I swore loudly, “FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!”  I felt defeated. I went upstairs to sleep.

About 1:30AM, my husband came to bed and I asked him who won.

“Trump.”

I started crying again. I was inconsolable. When I drifted back to sleep, I was awoken by the sounds of either fireworks or gun shots. It was unsettling. I live in Texas so really it could be either.

I woke up at 6AM and just sat in bed feeling alone. Very alone.

My oldest son came in and asked who won the election. He didn’t feel like going to school. We didn’t want to send him or our other two kids to school. It felt so pointless.

Some times memories pour into my mind. I remember being fairly young in elementary school and having these 2 girls that lived across the street, Natalie and Gina who I played with. They were my “friends” and one day they decided not to be my friends. I suspect that they didn’t like me because of my ethnic background. On that day, they decided to throw rocks at me. I can’t even remember why exactly except they didn’t like me anymore. I stood there for whatever reason not wanting to runaway. On that day, another girl was there and decided to throw rocks at the them instead of me. She hit Natalie in the head and her head started bleeding, Natalie’s mom told me to get my mom, the nurse.

My mom cleaned Natalie’s head. The parents asked what happened I’m sure. I don’t recall what I said. I remember the feelings I had — sadness, confusion, otherness.

This is how I feel post election all over again. Sadness, confusion, and otherness. But rather than hiding or walking from threat. I want to face it head on. I don’t just want to protest. I want to make a difference.

We all need to make a difference in small ways. Somebody could get hurt and you have to be there to get help or support in their times of need. That’s what is sticking out in my mind. We’re lucky to live in a time where we can find like-minded people on the internet. Lift each other up right now.

Organize, strategize, and let’s get to work. Our family and friends need us. Maybe you don’t have the strength right now. Self-care is super important too. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Remember to keep your eye on the things that need to get done. We need to create a safe equal society for all Americans and be a beacon of goodness in the world.

I Love What I Do and I Want My Kids to Know It

I work in the live music industry and I’m a mom. When I first really dug into this career, it was about going out and listening to music and jumping into the music scene. This was great — I could feed the kids dinner and even if my mister worked late, I could still get to the venue at 9 or 9:30PM and be good to go. It felt very Gwen Stefani-like.

As my children have gotten older, I’ve become more committed to staying in this industry, but it’s kinda difficult to explain to my kids what I do exactly. It’s hard to wake up at 6:30 AM and get them ready for school when sometimes I stay out till 2 AM. It’s also a little strange to be like “nah, we can’t go to Mary’s birthday party because we are camping at a music festival this weekend.”

This is my life and I’m doing my best to reconcile the divide between these two very different lifestyles to maintain my authenticity. I want my children to see the work I do and know their mom works and doesn’t just go out to party, and her work is just as important as the work dad does. It is a kinda weird lifestyle.

My own mother was the breadwinner. She was an immigrant and came to New York in 1968 to work as a nurse. She hated nursing but it paid the bills. I never wanted to have to do a job that I hated. Ingrained in my DNA is the desire to work hard and passionately and serve others. Yeah, I know, cheesy, but it’s my truth.

For a long time, I tried to avoid bringing up the fact that I was a mom. It’s just kinda awkward. I’ve observed that people try to label you a certain way and make decisions about who you are and what you should be. Recently I’ve decided, man, fuck it. My kids are awesome. They are well-behaved for the most part, sweet, funny, and cool.

Even more recently, I took on a larger role at a music festival. I’d been working hard and I wanted them to experience it. The festival, Sound on Sound Fest, took place at Sherwood Forest Faire in McDade, TX this past weekend. The setting was serene and magical. We took them out with the intention of camping overnight on Saturday. They were into it for the most part. They were most excited about the turkey legs and getting treats—the music not so much. I got to introduce them to many of the people I work with. I’m showing them a little of my world and having them get out of their comfort zones. It was pretty special, although they might not get it yet.

A lot of women, understandably, have made a choice not to pursue a family if they’re in the music industry. I wish that I had more of a support system or a mentor that could guide me through navigating this ride of pursuing a career in music and also being a mom. Until I meet more people,  I’m working on just being my own cheerleader. I know what’s right for me and I’m determined to stick it out. I want my kids to see their mom not just work at a job, but create a career. Plus, I get shit done.

Heartbreaker

I wrote an original, called “Heartbreaker.” This is a power pop /pop punk. Writing a song is hard for me because I’m not proficient at a lot of instruments, because I write on the bass. I asked a friend, Zach, if he’d help me. I had a lot of trouble with my gear and getting a signal. He recorded guitar like a champ.

We used GarageBand. I prefer using something I feel comfortable playing around due to time limitations. Time limitations are a big obstacle to this project. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been mostly structuring out the beat, getting the timing sequenced, and figuring out how to optimize sound. This is an exciting project. It is a personal project.

What I have learned is that projects take planning, and execution, and planning again, and more execution. Some times you have an idea of what you want, but to execute the plan takes time or requires skills that I might not have. For instance, I realized at a certain point that I don’t lack the understanding, but I need time and patience. I also think failure is a good lesson. I failed to execute an aspect of the project therefore I have to delete my mistake and go back and fix it.

Heartbreaker is kinda an ode to all the pretty boys out there that need and crave the attention of girls, and the wariness that comes with dealing with them. These are the boys…and sometimes men that will flirt mercilessly. *Sigh* sometimes you can call them danger boys.

This project is an experiment of sorts to find out what it takes to promote yourself as a musician. You create something; you want it to get heard. I want to see if it gets heard or played. Do people really engage with free music or do they just ignore it like the rest of the self-promotion out there. Do my friends and family even care?  I don’t know…but hopefully I can learn something useful in the process.

“Don’t Peggy Olsen Me, Motherfuckers” —Neko Case

I was at SXSW with a badge this year, and it was quite an experience. Most panels that I attended had older, white men using a lot of buzz words. Yet one of the panels that stood out, was The Rise of the Female Entrepreneur in Music. It was inspiring to see so many accomplished women sharing their experiences so frankly.

As I learn about the music industry and business, I sometimes lack courage. Often, I try to fake it or some times I just straight up avoid situations because of this. I wanted to ask so many questions, but decided to ask confidence. These women were bad asses. So I asked, “How do you work on confidence?” Their response was that you have to build yourself up and basically work on it. This is all starting to be clear to me. I’m learning to advocate for myself. I have to believe in myself and keep trying. Sometimes I fail, and sometimes I don’t.

Katy Goodman of La Sera was featured in an article about learning to code and being an indie rock star. If you follow her on twitter, you probably know that she’s being doing projects over the past few years. Goodman also recently joined CASH Music. In my opinion, this is some totally fantastic news. She’s the kind of rock star that is very dynamic. I find it really inspiring that she took up coding and she’s also pursuing her music career.

I want to see stories of women pursuing coding, business, music, or anything to be heard. Their stories feed my own passion. I don’t want to be a *just* a women trying to break into the business side of music. Or just a brown girl. I don’t want to be marginalized. Here is a rallying cry that Neko Case tweeted out almost a year ago. It rings true.

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Creating a Sustainable Music Industry

We’ve outgrown the conversation about record labels and now we’re trying stuff out to see what sticks: Soundcloud, Spotify, Bandcamp. The new trend emerging is subscriptions, which regularly crowdfund an artist, a musician, a content creator. It’s a good thing. Paying people for their work is a good thing, and certainly an improvement over pirating music.

At the same time, I don’t think this is the answer to the problems within the music industry. It’s a patch on an air mattress deflating every night when you really need a bed and a good night’s sleep. I don’t think it solves the fundamental problem: people don’t value purchasing music or paying to see bands.

The music industry is very segmented; it’s music, e-commerce, live concerts, merchandise, it’s parts of something but not the whole. Solving this problem is going to take more than analyzing one area and attempting to fix it. Well, how do we make music sustainable? You have to look at music like holistically to make it sustainable.

An artist like St. Vincent, is a great example. She’s genuinely talented. She makes amazingly well-crafted recordings of her music. She works with good teams of PR and marketing people, booking agents, and managers. She collaborates with people she admires. She has integrity and doesn’t even represent herself as a solo artist. She performs as St. Vincent with a backing band. What this indicates is that it takes teams of people to get things done.

This past September, I went to a Fest/Conference in Portland. This conference gave me an opportunity to interact with people I admire. It was strange because what I’ve done is small so far. What I found myself doing was approaching a CEO of the company I respected, telling him that I liked his speech, and babbling at him about the things that still need to get done. I wanted to get across to him was that his platform for supporting bands was excellent, but we need more. My message to him that it isn’t enough to sell music. At least, it was my point, but I was so nervous I don’t know if it got conveyed.

Bands are touring more to make up for the lack of music sales, and there is a lot of competition. We need to cross promote the shows, the music, the merch, and the bands in a way that cuts through the noise. I worked as a booking agent in Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S. and it’s a grassroots, bust your ass to get it done kinda of work. It’s thankless and it’s exhausting. Facebook and Twitter aren’t enough for marketing, posters only reach so far, print ads are really pricey for DIY places. And we need these DIY places…we need small venues. Artists need a place to start playing and developing their skills. We need an integrative solution to this problem and we need passionate people with skills,  DIY values, and the startup mentality to do it. The music industry is not a single organization. It’s different parts moving along the same pathway, so there is not a simple solution. I am hopeful that we’re moving in the right direction.