The Power of the Crowd


 

 

It’s the last 6 days of the Kickstarter campaign to fund my next album. We’re in the home stretch. I am currently at $22,000 of my $30,000 minimum goal. $30,000 is the absolute minimum to record and release the album to Kickstarter backers. Reaching a higher goal would grant me the ability to tour, make videos, and record even more music.

Today I did some calculations based on reaching my minimum goal of $30,000 and my dream goal of $50,000.

I am not famous, but I do have fans. Twitter, Facebook and my email list put that number at about 5,000. That’s not many people human population wise. But the small may be mighty!

Since 677 wonderful people have already backed the project (THANK YOU!!) I’ve based my calculations on 4,323 (5,000 – 677).

If 4,323 of you wonderful people back my project for $2 (get a digital download of the whole album for $2) I will have enough to record and release my album to Kickstarter backers.

If 4,323 of you extra super amazingly wonderful back my album for $7 I will have enough to reach my dream goal, tour, make videos, breathe, eat, and make more music.

$2 would be great.

$7 would be amazing.

That isn’t much money when it’s broken down that way. That is the power of the crowd.

Your power.

 

 

 

This is how I feel about my new album, and about your support!

 
 
Gratuitous celebrity endorsement:

 
 
 
 
p.s. I have evacuated from my NY apartment that was on the border of the flood zone. I’m staying with friends in a no-flood zone. The winds are getting a bit gusty. The storm surge has already begun. I have pancake mix and maple syrup. And whiskey. Hoping for the best.

Stage Fright

It happens. To me. Probably to you. And it also happens to very successful people who spend lots of time on stage. Last night Neil Gaiman tweeted:

 

 

It made me think of all the times I have had stage fright. Sometimes it’s a little fluttering feeling. Sometimes it’s waves of nausea. Sometimes it is a terrible voice in my head that tells me I am an untalented attention seeker who is wasting people’s time.

That voice is the worst.

It got to a point a few years ago where I would become severely depressed just before every performance. It wasn’t the fluttery, slightly anxious but excited feeling. It wasn’t even the gut wrenching nausea. It was just the voice of doom telling me I sucked. Sucked. SUCKED. And that I should probably just die. For the good of humanity.

Pretty much exactly the opposite of what should be going through one’s mind before performing.

So I made a little meditation for myself. I find a quiet space. Close my eyes. I breathe. I tell myself I can feel all the anxiety, fear, self-loathing later on. Don’t try to stop it or quell it because those feelings are like weeds and will come back stronger. So I just put those feelings to the side. I remember that when I was feeling better about things I put myself on a path that led me to this place where I am about to get on a stage. And that at this moment it really doesn’t matter how I feel because now my time belongs to my audience. They believe in me, and they trust me. So I should trust them.

It helps me to take that moment. To take the fear and shame and whatever else and just leave them there for later. It helps me to think about the audience and what I can do for them instead of being locked in my own little cycle of misery. After the show those negative feelings never come back. They seem to only exist to try to stop me, once I’ve done the thing they lose interest.

And this meditation is helping now because I have been extremely anxious about releasing my first single next week along the Kickstarter for the album. Doing things in public always induces these feelings. So I just remember to:

– Breathe.

– Keep following the path that a happier, healthier you put you on.

– Know that everyone – no matter how famous or successful – can get stage fright. Or cold feet. Or doubts.

– Put the negative feelings aside for later instead of trying to stop them now.

– This moment isn’t about you, it’s about your audience. Trust them.

– Breathe.

 

 

 

I often wonder what things other performers do to get over that awkward lump of fright that happens. I also wonder what the actual benefit is of this kind of fear. I spend a lot of time wondering about things…

 

 

 

Things I did in 2011

2011 was a year of collaborations and innovation for me. With projects that caused ripples in the music industry and projects that got me working with some wonderfully talented people.

I started my year in Australia with Meredith Yayanos and Jim Batt. And then…

– I wrote a song for Twitter:
 


 

– I toured Australia with Amanda Palmer:
 

 
– Released my “Rap of Tasmania” in answer to Amanda’s “Map of Tasmania.”

– Played a residency in Melbourne, Australia.

– Launched a Kickstarter for “I Have Your Heart” – animated film short film set to my song “The Organ Donor’s March”
 

 

– Did a small US Tour – That tour was so poorly attended I came up with a new tour strategy: Pre-Sold Shows

 

 

The pre-sold show strategy changed the world. Just a tiny bit. I was on BBC World’s Service Radio, CNN Money, Boing Boing, which all started when I wrote a guest post for WarrenEllis.com
 

– I got printed out in 3D by MakerBot and I wrote them a song:
  

– Then I released my first 7″ record. It’s lavender. It’s really pretty.

– Released a music video by Jim Batt:
 

 
– Back in Australia I put together a band and wrote songs for the next album. HOLY FUCK. AMAZING. Next year is all about the next album.

 
– Then I did the pre-sold US tour.
 
– I wrote about Occupy Wall Street for Coilhouse.
 
– My OWS videos got played on The Daily Show and Rachel Maddow’s show.
 
– Made friends with a wild turkey on Thanksgiving:
 

 

– Released an OWS inspired song. It is dubtstep. It is different. 


 

– Released “New York City” with Molly Crabapple 


 

– Released “Music For Stray Days” with Juan Santapau (with violins by Meredith Yayanos.) 


 

– Wrote 20 custom songs:
 


 

– Made a music video in Janice Cable’s bed:
 

 

There are things I have left out, some on purpose and some not. Some good, some less good.

 

 

 

People who contributed to my wonderful year:

 

Jim Batt, Molly Crabapple, Meredith Yayanos, Oliver Boekbinder, Kate Rannells, Shannon Marshall, RoseAnn Fino, Karina Cetin, Bri Olson, Melissa Dowell, Malcolm Doherty, Kate Black, Katelan Foisy, Jessica Bloom, Audrey Penven, SF Slim, Nicole Aptekar, Warren Ellis, Clare Saint Clare, Mikelangelo, Sean Francis, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Oh gods this list is going to be long… Autumn Adamme, my family, Janice Cable, Fred Harper, Travis Louis, The Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band, David Rule, Anthony Cleave, Jess Daly, the entire Batt family, the turkey I met on Thanksgiving,  Lachlan, Murray Lorden, Cynthia Von Buhler, Occupy Wall Street, Bonnie Dennis, Ted Thibodeau, Christopher Daly, Nathalie Boisard Beudin, Salvador, Elizabeth Zibilich, Robert Starnes, Ramona Cat, Helen Gillet, Rita Burkholder (Helen Keller’s Ukulele), Teetering Bulb, Chris Grady, Myles Boisen, Hope Kodman, Laura Kidd (She Makes War), Jesse Von Doom, Myrrh Larsen, there are so many more… I’m stopping now, but if you are reading this then you probably belong on this list. I love you.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Where in the world – Sydney, Australia

Good morning! Or afternoon, or evening or whatever it is for you.

I’m in Sydney, Australia, sitting in a living room in a house filled with international surfers who are speaking Portuguese and German. The view from this house is incredible, it reminds me that being next to the ocean makes me a better person. Waves and rocks and ocean wind. Horizon without obstruction. Nature being itself; powerful, ever changing, intense.

I came here on Wednesday to rap with Amanda Palmer at the Sydney Opera House.

This is what I look like while waiting for a suitcase.

I had some very sparkly ladies on stage with me, they worked out a whole dance to ‘Map of Tasmania’ and included some special moves for my rap.

My very favorite part of the evening is that Neil Gaiman paid me a compliment. It isn’t the first compliment Neil has ever paid me, but this one was special. As a writer, and a lover of language, Neil is someone who knows the value of words. He is not given to hyperbole the way that most of us are. He does not describe everything as “epic” or “amazing” or “fantastic” (I describe things that way all the time  – I have become stuck in the tantalizing honey of the hyperbole trap of our modern culture.) Neil says things are ‘nice’ or ‘rather nice’ or ‘lovely.’ He talks the same way he reads, in a very deliberate way. He uses words the way they are meant to be used, to mean the things they actually mean and he is very easy to understand.

But after our gig at the Sydney opera House Neil said,

“I really enjoyed your rap tonight. You killed it.”

And I was so flattered and flustered that I said something like, “Thank you. I had fun killing it. Killing is fun. I like killing…”

***

Last night Amanda and I played a very special house show for about 40 people. It as intimate and rare and great. Before we played we ate and everyone went around the table and introduced themselves. Amanda said we should all state our deepest fear as well. And that was brilliant, it made us all vulnerable and powerful at the same time.

The concept of a ‘deepest fear’ is interesting. There are so many to choose from: visceral, physical, animal instinct kind of fears, like the fear of spiders or being eaten alive by lions (one of mine.)
Or emotional, philosophical, modern day fears, like being mediocre, getting stuck in a dead end job and never reaching the dream. And they are all real, all deep, all scary.

I said I was afraid of performing solo – which is true. And then I sang. And then Amanda sang. And then we took this picture with the group:

***

Sydney is a very beautiful city. I’m having a great time. I rapped (I RAPPED!) at the SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE – probably the world’s most recognizable venue. I’m palling around with wonderful, kind, creative, intelligent people. I just released an album. I have a really wonderful partner who matches me intellectually, creatively, intuitively, emotionally, physically. And he’s SO cute:

And sometimes I look like this:

I have to list these things for myself. To remind myself to look at the wonderful things I have. Because one of my deepest fears is that nothing will ever be enough, that I will be too busy reaching for the next shiny red apple to notice the juicy ripe peach that’s in my mouth. I always want more. And striving is a wonderful thing, reaching for the stars is grand, but not if you miss the life while you’re living it.

And sometimes I move too fast, reach too far, want too much to see that HOLY HELL: my life is fantastic.

Sure, things can always be better. Truth is, album sales are slow, I am COMPLETELY out of money – in the super scary, pit of nausea, heart aching anxiety, way. My computer is on its last legs and hardly ever concedes to connect to the internet for long enough to post photos or write blogs. And I may never be able to afford touring again.

But those things are all part of my job. Because I consider it the job of the artist to live on the edge. The edge of sanity, the too scary, too much, too close, too hard edge. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s loneliness, sometimes it’s the art itself. And being out of money and scared and still moving forward even if it means not eating, or losing everything, is the edge that I am on.

And the view from here is AMAZINGLY EPIC and rather nice, as well:

***

All photos by Jim Batt (except the BBQ photo. And the photo of him, which I took.)

Exceptions, and Random Movie Times

Zip. Zip. Zoom. Trying to keep up with all the emails. Falling behind.

Getting some lovely buzz on my little EP/first chapter of my album.

Neil Gaiman’s tweets helped steer some people my way. And today Warren Ellis blogged about The Impossible Girl. Fun times!

I am now sitting in bed – though sleep is many hours away (I also call bed, “the office,”) under a pile of sequin dresses. Fun times!

I’m staying in Carmel, CA with my father. My two year old sister is very excited to see me. She ‘helps’ me cook, and type; she tries to take my pants off while I stand in the kitchen; she sticks her hand down my shirt (after looking down it to see what’s in there;) bites my thighs; sticks her finger up my nose; and squirts herself in the eye with Windex. Then she laughs as I hold her under the tap to rinse her eyes out. Fun times!

I taught her how to pounce on people. And how to jump on all the furniture – a skill which has helped me get as far as I have in the world today.

I’m not really a “kid person” – as a general rule – but she’s a pretty fantastic little person and I make exceptions for the exceptional (smartest thing I’ve EVER said.)

**Random Movie Times**

This is a short silent film clip I made with Jim Batt while I was in Melbourne, Australia last month making 5 music videos. This clip is for Jim’s Ghostlight Project which is a collaboration with four other artists of various mediums – it’s really good.

Every day of the week, Monday through Friday, a new post gets added. Monday’s are the days that Jim adds a new silent film clip, Tuesday is music, Wednesday is a photograph, Thursday is a graphic of some sort – usually a film poster, and Friday is a written piece (a scrap of script, a journal entry from an insane actor…) The project is really interesting and I was very excited to be part of it. Jim is very talented, as evidenced. Kim is very silly, as evidenced. Enjoy!