Let’s have some fun!

Image

Dear Indie Girl, 

Happy Friday.  I hope your weekend plans are shaping up nicely.  James and I are headed up north in just a few hours to spend time with family and to sit and relax for 3 whole days!  GLORIOUS.  

Recent weeks have been filled with lots of ups and downs.  I’ve been trying to soak up as much information as I can about booking and promoting shows.  I’ve been booking for our band for a while now, and it’s gone well.  I’m just trying to set a clear path out in front of our feet so we know where we’re going.  

I can get so overwhelmed with businessy things.  I was talking with my friend Mallory the other day (she’s in a band called The Rough & Tumble check them out!).  We were talking about how easy it is to get swept up in the work of the music business.  As Indie girls in bands, we book, promote, and fund our own bands and projects… but we’re artists.  We’re not business people.  We didn’t dream of spending hours emailing venues and networking at shows for new contacts when we were kids!  If someone had told me I’d be doing that when I grew up I probably would have chosen something else to do.  We do it because we love music, and we want to do all we can to succeed. But pretty soon, the business end of music takes over the creative end of music and you wake up one day and realize it’s been 4 months since you last sat down to write a song, or you can’t remember the last time you last sat down to write a song.  It’s exhausting.  

But if it means we get to share our original music with new people at our next gig… we’ll do it.  We’ll labor for the miracle of music and how it connects people.  

James keeps reminding me that I need to put writing music first.  I’ve been resisting this, and I don’t really know why.  I think it’s anxiety.  Because I’m not great at being a business woman, I spend more time working in that area so to improve it and less time working on music.  The problem is, I very quickly begin resenting music because of the business.  Why?  Because I stop having fun.  

I think I forget to have fun, actually.  I forget that I’m supposed to have fun.  That a part of making great music is the joy in creating.  People are drawn to that.  When they sense that you love what you do, and you do it well, I think it’s magnetic.  People will want to know why you’re having so much fun, and want to be a part of that.

So I’ve made a decision, and it’s not an easy one.  But I’ve decided I’m going to have fun.   Weird, right?  

I’m reading these two books side by side.  They’re both on writing. One is called “The War of Art”.  The other is called, “Take Joy”.  “The War of Art” compares art (specifically, the art of writing) to War.  The enemy is resistance.  That invisible force that distracts you, frustrates you, and does pretty much anything to keep you from doing your art. This is an interesting and compelling concept, I think.  At least I thought.  Until this morning.  The section I was reading this morning talked about being a soldier.  Pressfield (author), says artists need to know how to be miserable, much like soldiers.  He went on to describe how terrible being a soldier is and how being a writer is similar.  My stomach turned.  Why would anyone want to be an artist or a writer if this were true?  I get what he’s saying, I think.  Being a writer for a living is not an easy job, and you need to get used to that idea.  For a long time, it doesn’t get easy.  Maybe it never will.  

The other book, “Take Joy” is about taking joy in writing.  Yolen (Author) says, you need to enjoy writing because you may never get published, you may be the only reader- so you might as well make sure you enjoy what you’re reading.  

I’m much more drawn to the second idea, aren’t you?  I’d rather take joy in what I do everyday, or else sooner or later, I’m just going to give up.   

Bottom line: Booking, promoting, managing a band is important work.  But it’s useless if your music sucks.  The first killer of my music is stress and anxiety.  But when I make writing music one of the first things I do in a day, my skills as a writer are sharpened daily, and everything else is a little bit easier.  

Let’s have some fun!

Love, 

Kelsey

Advertisements

And then there were two…

 

1045203_10200775221797510_1307652978_n

 

Dear Indie Girl,

Did you ever dream of having a band when you grew up?  At first, I just wanted to sing.  I got in trouble at school for singing too much… like, all the time.  I once had a major argument with Emily, the girl who sat next to me in 6th grade, because I had been singing all day and no matter how many times she asked me to stop, I couldn’t.  It got nasty, as girl fights do. No hair pulling, just lots of name calling… and she said she wished that I would be sent to China… for real.  I apologized over and over.  The next day she greeted me with the biggest smile and a hug and said nothing further on the matter of my singing.

You understand, don’t you?  I couldn’t stop singing.  It was like breathing.  I didn’t even know I was singing and that the whole classroom of students trying to work on their assignments could hear me.  It was a part of me.

Then, when I went away to Cornerstone University to major in music, I began to get this vision of a band.  This idea of a small group of friends I could rely on to work alongside me and help me do what I was called to do.  Sing.  Write.  Perform.

We’ve talked about this before.  The challenges of keeping band members.  I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing musicians who are far more talented than me!  I admire their knowledge and skill, and they make me want to be better.  Try as I might, I can’t seem to keep them.  Our pal, Garrett Stier, who has been playing with us for about a year, has stepped down as our drummer.  There’s no hard feelings at all.  He is a worship leader and life was getting too busy for him to stay committed at the level he would have liked.  I’ve talked with other lead musicians like myself who struggle with the same thing, band members coming and going,  so at least I know it’s not just me.  Now, I’m not a perfect band leader, life gets busy, and I slip up, but I have not yet given up on the idea.

I am so blessed to have my friend Sarah Main play with me!  She has been with me for over a year now, and it’s been great!  And maybe that’s all we need to be right now.  Just two gals, singing and playing and standing up to the darkness.

My friend Amanda Vernon (another local Indie Girl) and I were talking recently, and she gave me her two cents on the matter of finding the right band.  She said, “I feel like a band relationship is very much like a dating relationship.  You have to lay out your expectations with clear communication from the very beginning or you’ll be in trouble.”  This really struck me.  It’s so true!  Maybe the reason my search for a band has failed is because, not unlike the dating experience for many of us (or like it was for me), I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but I’m sure I’ll know it when I see it (hear it).  I confess, this thinking has caused some communication failures.  Since I don’t know what I’m looking for, I cannot clearly lay out expectations the way I need to (also not unlike my dating experiences).

The other night, I was thinking.  What if we stopped forcing this idea of a traditional band setup?  What if we decided we were a collective?  I’ve been a part of collectives before, and if we’re not careful we could find the same pitfalls we’ve found looking for a band.  Lack of communication, unclear roles, and such…  but the beauty is that it doesn’t have to look one certain way in order for the whole group to be represented.  It’s a collaboration of any or all parts of the whole group.  And it could have a name bigger than my own.  Because that’s the real desire, I think.  I want to be a part of something bigger than myself.  This is just an idea.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  For now, Sarah and I will keep digging in to find the right path for our music.  I hope you’ll stick with us through the ebb and flow of life.

Love,

Kelsey

P.S.

That kickstarter fund raiser I was telling you about last week was SUCCESSFUL!  Thanks for your support!  Sarah and I recorded in front of a studio audience on Friday, and will be getting in touch with our backers soon to send them their rewards!  Our new EP, Thinking of You, will be released in November.

P.P.S.

If you’d like catch a show of ours, Sarah and I will be playing at Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake, MI on August 24th.  Tickets are $18 in advance, $22 day of the show.  You can order tickets and find more details HERE.

Recording!

Recording!

Dear Indie Girl,

Last week we talked about the songs on our upcoming EP, Thinking of You, and I mentioned our fund raising process through kickstarter. Well, we made it! Because of your generous pledges, we’ve passed our goal by $145 and we’ve still got one day left to get more pledges in!

Our original goal was $1200, and that goes directly to the cost of recording at Groovebox Studios in Detroit. Any money beyond that will go to help us pay for printing and duplicating the CD which is quite a hefty bill as well! If you want to help us out in paying for printing and duplication you still have until Thursday night at 11:59pm to pledge-> http://kck.st/18zUjMU

I just wanted to pass along a thank you note to all who have pledged and showed support! Sarah and I are really excited about this project! It’ll be nice to have a recording more like our live performances which are often just the two of us.

We really hope you enjoy this project, and remember, this will be released in November, so if you can’t pledge now, look for the release in the fall.

Sorry this is such a short note. I promise to write more next week!

Love,
Kelsey

Thinking of You

 

 

Image

*Artwork for our upcoming EP by James Pray

 

Dear Indie Girl,

I wanna talk to you about some new songs.  For those that know my music, I’m sort of known for break-up songs, and songs to raise awareness about human trafficking.  My friend Sarah and I are about to record some new songs that don’t fit either of those categories.  Next week, we hope to record at Groovebox Studios in Detroit, a whole collection of LOVE songs and a couple of spiritual songs.  

My favorite is called The Medicine of a Simple Love.  In my mind, it embodies joy.  The first few years of marriage can be pretty rough, but they’re also known as the “honeymoon” phase.  Many of you know, I got married a couple of years ago, and this was inspired by the joy that I have experienced in the midst of some of those challenges.    

Take Our Time was written as a gift for my husband on the day we got engaged.  He proposed on our joint birthday party.  My gift to him was a song, his gift to me was a ring and … tennis shoes:)

Before I was madly in love with this guy, I was not sure what to think.  James and I met because his mom picked me out of a crowd at church one Sunday.  NO JOKE.  I wasn’t even living in Grand Rapids at the time, I was visiting my friend Annie and went to church with her family.  This woman stopped me in the aisle and said, “You look just like the woman my son has been drawing since he was in high school!”  What do you say to that?!  I think I said something like, “What?!”  Anyway James and I became facebook friends and decided to meet like a week later after emailing like everyday.  James claims it was love at first sight for him.  I thought he was cute, but I had been burned in relationships.  It took me a little bit of time to decide how I felt about him.  But I knew he was not like any other guy I had dated.  I knew he was a good man.  I knew he would take care of me.  And as we went out on dates I was slowly, but surely, wooed by the geeky awkwardness and lack of charm that clothed this complete gentleness and faithfulness that is James Pray (yup Pray is my legal name).  So I wrote this song, Together, about that season when you’re not exactly sure where things are going, but you have a feeling it’s somewhere good.  

Mercy is a special tune inspired by James’ grandmother, Char.  We were invited over for a family dinner one night.  After dinner we sat around the table talking.  She got everyone’s attention and told us this story of seeing a beam of light come straight down from the sky, and how she felt it was God’s blessing on a new season in her life, and our life as a family.  

There are 3 more songs like these ones that are gonna be on this recording.  I’m really excited to get in the studio.  It’s gonna be a little different than what we’ve done before since we’re not recording full band.  It’ll be just me (acoustic guitar and lead vocals) and Sarah (keyboard and background vocals). 

We’re actually running a Kickstarter campaign right now to fund this project and we have a week left to reach $1200 or we won’t be able to record!  Check out the kickstarter link to lend some support! http://kck.st/18zUjMU

I can’t wait for the opportunity to share these songs with you!  

Love, 

Kelsey