While trying to decide which arbitrary topic to ramble on about in my first blog post, I stumbled upon a question I could not find the answer to: how much truth should I reveal? Ignoring the obvious things that should keep me from having a blog- my inability to keep a routine, lack of experience, lack of confidence because these things don’t matter- , ?? I wondered what was appropriate to share while still remaining neutral about things that divide us as a community and rank us based on popularity. I do not mind that I will drive grammar freaks insane- usually i don’t even capitalize my i’s but i will in this blog. I guess. But I must be wary of how vulnerable I make myself, being in the public eye and having aspirations to succeed in the music industry. My personal Facebook page became a battleground for politics, or as some of us call them Real Life Problems We Face Everyday In Society. I stopped making statement posts or hilarious jokes that might piss off people who disagree with me, at my mom’s urging. She was looking out for my well-being and sanity, as some of the arguments got nasty and I was bullied and humiliated. Certain happenings caused a rift in my relationship with a few members of the local community, and I suddenly had real reason to think that people hated me (an idea I’ve had since childhood but now is a reasonable thing to decide is true). But what was more abundant than the naysayers were the people who messaged me privately and said positive things. They either offered their support when I seemed to need it, or thanked me for the support I’d given them for bringing attention to problems they struggle with that go unnoticed, oppression they experience, or beliefs they feel scared to say themselves. The emotional gratitude-the responses I received because of my unapologetic Facebook posts- sparked an inspiration for me to continue speaking the truths that are ignored and perpetuated in society and also more specifically in the music industry. But I realized something important, after many salty experiences, car-ride day-dreams, and heart-to-hearts with my fiance Myles who can make me see through my emotional haze of opinions to a vision or solution. I need to be well-read and clear of facts in order to encourage people to see things in a different light if they have oppressive beliefs, and to support marginalized groups without speaking for them, as I have a lot of privilege and am blessed in many ways where others are not. I came to the conclusion that this new habit of speaking out about my experiences could help craft the thing that was missing in my music career: a good story. And this is an authentic one. What’s funny is that I had been hinting at it all along through confessional lyrics that were somewhat cryptic while still screaming for validation about my feelings and relationships, but I needed a more enthusiastic approach to telling the world who I am and what I’ve experienced.
The paradox of my newly confirmed Backstory is that its existence is to help me reach wider audiences through my music, performances, and public happenings, but the truths it conveys do not appeal to (and to be quite honest, seek to dismantle) the very ladder I aspire to climb. The importance of a “story” first came to my attention when reading Ari Herstand’s incredible book How to Make It in the New Music Business. I refer to this book as “my bible”, and since it entered my life two years ago, I have been fixing the holes in my tender music career, which at the level it’s plateaued at may look at surface level to many as a “hobby.” When my band broke up, I didn’t feel that I had an identity in the local music scene. I battled my insecurities by recording and touring as a solo artist, and with the information and tips in Ari’s book, I worked to find my way into the circuit of known artists- I just wanted to GROW and experience the traction that all the artists in my area seemed to gain over the years while I went through the same cycles. I needed to stand out. I am a relatively outgoing person- admittedly quite impulsive at times- and I am loud and obnoxious and my presence in the room is always known. But on stage, or in the corner of a coffee shop, with my guitar, and my broken microphone stand, my personality died and was masked by my bruised ego shouting out insults to my own head about why I should give up or that nobody cares. Sometimes I would play a certain part that usually had distortion, without it because I thought it might bother people. I would skip a song on the setlist that I was excited to play and just wrote but didn’t want to freak anyone out with its content or strange progression. With the realization that people cherish authenticity, I am learning that I need to remember the people that reach out to me and thank me or to wish me luck and success. I am the same person confessing through song in a bar to an audience as I am when I assure someone they aren’t alone through a social media encounter. But back to why my posts are taboo: my opinions and views don’t always align with the people In Charge of Who’s Cool. The music industry, like society as a whole, consists mainly of men. My insistence on standing up for myself and other underrepresented groups has a small effect on the systemic white patriarchy, but it is enough to upset people who fear the change in the status quo. It has affected my presence and reputation in the local music scene, and on the internet has moved some to unfollow me (and letting me know they were doing so beforehand), block me, harass me, make counter-posts about me that make fun of me with memes and pictures… one time a dude who I considered a good acquaintance of mine and I assumed a moral person recorded a mock video of a song I wrote about my childhood trauma and posted it in a thread on my wall. I do believe him when he says that he didn’t know of the content, but I still am baffled by the low blows and irrelevant things people do when their morality is questioned and they are offended by the very idea that their position and successes are due to anything but their own hard work. My real “story” was told recently on my Facebook page, and people were very supportive. The trolls had gone away. People were moved, or so they said, by my spilling my guts. Some sent messages saying they could relate; no one trolled me. But even so, it is my belief that many people have been turned off by the time they get to this part of the blog post. Many of those people who may come across me and my opinions will not want to work with me. Establishments have and will disagree with me and my agenda, and I have to accept the backlash if I want to make a point.
Are you still reading? Cool, let’s watch the journey of the Story vs the System unfold. Somehow, I have to use the System to tell my Story and use my Story to change the System. Hypocritical? I think so. Narcissistic? Wicked. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing and I will never be afraid to admit it.