Entrepreneurial Musician Interview

I was recently interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts, The Entrepreneurial Musician! I've actually blogged about this show before, because I think it's an amazing resource for professional musicians trying to make a living in the current world.

My conversation with the host, Andrew Hitz, was quite honest, so I wanted to share the episode with you. I've done lots of interviews before, but this one struck me as a really great one, because the host has a knack for sussing out the right questions, getting to the heart of each issue, and highlighting important points.

TEM122: Chrysanthe Tan on Being Yourself as an Artist, Killing It on Patreon and Tips for Better Time Management

 

Here's a smattering of things we covered:

  • Being yourself, for better or for worse
  • The three traditional paths for classical musicians (and why they weren't for me)
  • How I got my first gig
  • Being a perpetual college dropout (and return-er)
  • Patreon vulnerability and lessons
  • My obsession with career/business coaches
  • Time management tips

iTunes
SoundCloud
Stitcher

Show notes

Cambodian Dance Memory

I’m so happy that my mom unearthed this pic.

When I was young, I used to study Cambodian classical dance on the weekends. I didn’t fully appreciate how lucky I was to be under the tutelage of master Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. Every Saturday, she would tie me into my green kben and guide my hands and fingers to stretch farther, move slower. As hard as I tried, I could not move as slowly as my teacher.

Some of the older kids were better. And there seemed to be a marked difference between those of us who were still struggling and searching versus those who just “got it.” Something in their minds and bodies had clicked. It wasn’t pure movement; it was mind and attitude. Those who had “it” moved with a reverent gravity that I couldn’t understand. They seemed to be submerged in invisible water; as they moved, lowered, extended their arms, rocked their bodies back and forth, tapped their big toes on the ground sighing with intention, their limbs were met with liquid resistance. Two inches of movement felt like two miles, smooth, steady, and slow. I envied them.

Greek dance was completely different. I studied Greek dance during the weekdays. It was faster, footwork-fancy, focused on forward motion. Stretching didn’t matter. Core strength didn’t matter. Cardio stamina did.

These polar distinctions are how I used to categorize the two arts in my mind. Cambodian: slow, steady, detailed. Greek: fast, forward, broad. But in reality, both modes have their macros and micros. Both have their fasts, slows, boisterous, plaintive, and narrative moments. Not unlike most arts I can think of.

Anyway, just a random memory for #tbt

My book club made me read "Eat Pray Love," and it's pretty much the worst.

 Wanna suffer through it? Here's an  Amazon link.

Wanna suffer through it? Here's an Amazon link.

*Deep breath*

Elizabeth Gilbert is not a bad writer. In fact, there are certain metaphors, turns of phrase, and structural elements in this book that delight me. She shines in the short form, and dare I say it is obvious that the bulk of her experience prior to writing this book was as a freelance journalist for popular magazines (SPIN, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Allure). This is not a bad thing. I love writers who excel at the short form and find a way to turn it into long form.

But the content is a hot mess. Where do I start? Is it her objectification of the Asian countries to which she travels? The reductive cultural observations? Her cavalier attitude toward those she comes in contact with? Perhaps what got me was her whining about being so tall and blonde (poor thing) that she doesn't blend in during her travels. "Tall and blond and pink-complexioned, I am less a chameleon than a flamingo," she laments. Gilbert recalls her time in China, where apparently everyone stared and a child burst into tears upon looking at her like she was a "pink-faced yellow-headed phantom person." "I hated this about China," she says, and that is that, smugly ending the paragraph with so-called wit.

Oh, maybe it's the time she calls someone a "homo."

Or maybe it's the fact that she went to India to find spiritual enlightenment. I mean, how "white Western lady" classic is that? At this point, an apologist or optimist might be thinking, Ok, so this is where her fallacious starting point was, but maybe Gilbert evolves? Spoiler: The book offers no true, critical reflection on the problematic attitudes that carry her to and through her trip.

I won't fill this review up with all the specific words, sentences, and paragraphs that made me shake my head. You can probably just Google "everything wrong with eat pray love" and find examples yourself. Or fun idea: Read the book and turn it into a drinking game! You'll need to clear your schedule for 3 days in order to nurse the catastrophic hangover.

Eat Pray Love is the novelized embodiment of every crappy inspirational meme, narcissistic blog, "let's slum it just for fun" theme party, and destination luxury yoga trip in a third world country. It is yet another example of everything that's wrong with the cavalier, white, privileged, meme-culture feminism that's so prevalent today. I am not knocking feminism, by the way; just this specific brand of ignorant, white-centric, cis-centric, self-absorbed feminism.

And for what it's worth, I am also not knocking people who were generally inspired by this book to go on self-discovery trips. That's fine. I understand wanting to shake up one's routine, cleanse the soul, get a fresh start, and exorcize demons. But there's a way to do it more critically, humbly, and sensitively. 

Full quote from above, just for kicks:

People who are the right height and complexion that they kind of look halfway normal wherever they go--in Turkey they just might be Turks, in Mexico they are suddenly Mexican, in Spain they could be mistaken for a Basque, in Northern Africa they can sometimes pass for Arab...I don't have these qualities. First off, I don't blend. Tall and blond and pink-complexioned, I am less a chameleon than a flamingo. Everywhere I go but Dusseldorf, I stand out garishly. When I was in China, women used to come up to me on the street and point me out to their children as though I were some escaped zoo animal. And their children--who had never seen anything quite like this pink-faced yellow-headed phantom person--would often burst into tears at the sight of me. I really hated that about China.

Note: This review originally appeared on Goodreads.

What would be the perfect birthday gift for an INTJ?

People are always wondering: How do you please an INTJ? We are deemed difficult, particularly when it comes to social convention. If you have no idea what an INTJ is, this would be a good time to read about the Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI) here. Birthdays can be confusing for the loved ones of INTJs, because we seem to be impossible to please, leaving friends and family feeling like they did something wrong or that we are ungrateful. On the contrary, we can be absurdly easy to please. Perhaps this list can elucidate.

As an INTJ, these are gifts I would love:

  • Nothing. Zero. Really, from most people, I would prefer no gift. No gift means no obligation or social cues of reciprocity to navigate.
  • A nice, genuine email.
  • Something personal, handmade, or tiny but meaningful.
  • Sharing something of mine online with a positive testimonial (Ex: my latest song, music video, my Patreon, album, blog post, things like that). Only do this if you mean it though! Insincerity is extremely distasteful.
  • Gift card to a grocery store I frequent.
  • Costco gift card.
  • Amazon gift card.
  • Gift card to a reasonably-priced store I buy clothes from (it’s a short list).
  • Paid/complimentary subscription to a service I use or want to use.
  • A specific thing I have stated definitively that I want.
  • A piece of musical/recording equipment (whether it’s an expensive microphone, software, or even just an XLR cable). Gift cards to music retailers like Guitar Center or Sweetwater are great too. Or just paying for a bow rehair or set of new violin strings.
  • A really cool or useful tech-related gadget, perhaps something I won’t readily splurge on myself. Smaller/less expensive things work great too. (Ideas: mirrorless camera, latest Amazon Echo, latest Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, a “smart home” product such as Hue or Nest, battery charger, tripod, extension cord).
  • A really cool or useful kitchen-related gadget, perhaps something I won’t readily splurge on myself (Ideas: Yonanas machine). Inexpensive things work amazingly too; I’d be thrilled to receive a 6-pack of paper towels, a few sweet potatoes, because it’s practical and I will definitely use it.
  • A computer or phone accessory (Ideas: new Apple earbuds, lightning cable, MacBook charger, converter for one of the ports).
  • A prepaid deep tissue massage with my one and only therapist (I really need it, but I don’t let myself spend money on it very often, and thus a gift card or voucher for a massage would be a really nice thing for someone to do).
  • Something fun that I would probably never consider spending money on (Ideas: handheld video game console,
  • If you’re gonna try giving something out of left field, for the love of god, please include a gift receipt.
  • The gift of exoneration from a social event or other protocol. For example, if it makes you feel good to call me on my birthday, just know that I will not answer. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. But a lovely gift would be to leave a message and state in the message that I am under no obligation to respond.
  • Overall guidelines: Think practical. Think no pressure on the recipient. Don’t create too much work for

These are things I do not appreciate:

  • Flowers. Any plants in general, really. I don’t want anything I have to take care of, because it’s hard enough taking care of myself.
  • Greeting cards, unless they are really special or specific or very personalized. I don’t need more crap taking up space. If you have something heartfelt to tell me, you don’t need to put it in a card (though you can, if it’s actually a specialized message); I love receiving birthday emails more than anything.
  • The “gift” of someone’s presence. This includes parties or even taking me out to lunch. I simply don’t want those things; they’re much more a burden than a gift.
  • Jewelry, unless there’s a very specific, purposeful, or unique reason.
  • Books. Again, unless you specifically know I want that book (and in that format).
  • Decorations or tchotchkes, unless I’ve specifically mentioned that I want the item.
  • Food or drinks. I don’t need cool or special food. I already have my own routine down pat, and it would be a waste of money/time plus force me outside of my comfort zone and put pressure on me to like what you’ve given me.
  • Humorous gifts.
  • Anything that creates work for me, whether it’s taking care of the gift, needing to buy a ton of accessories for it to work, having to undergo extensive training in order to use the product, etc. Exception: If you know for a fact that I want this thing and am ready to commit to it.

Final thoughts:

  • I realize this may sound intimidating. And I realize you may “mess up” and give a “wrong gift,” but as long as you don’t put any pressure on the INTJ recipient, it’s all good! We probably won’t remember the gift anyway, but we’ll remember if you were just gracious and chill. Personally, it only sticks out to me negatively if I’m guilt-tripped, pressured into liking something, or if the gift giver continually reminds me of the “wonderful gift” they gave me.
  • Also, I realize this looks like a list of really expensive stuff. But I can’t emphasize enough that NO PRESENT is often the best present of all. Cheap and practical = wonderful.
  • Sometimes, a completely random, unexpected gift just works. *Shrug.*

An excerpt from this post was originally published on Quora

Are Lesbians Attracted to Men?

Someone asked on Quora:
"Are lesbians attracted to men?"

Some of the other answers:

I think there's more nuance.
Here are my thoughts (as a queer nonbinary femme/lesbian):

Lesbians are not primarily attracted to men, but they certainly can be.

There are many reasons, but the reason I want to focus on right now is this: We cannot determine another person’s gender solely based on our interpretation of how they look. This is where the argument should end, really.

A lesbian may see and be attracted to a person they assume is a woman, but the other person may not be a woman. This actually happens all the time. It has happened with me, and it has happened with many of my friends. I know tons of lesbians who have dated trans guys (and nonbinary and genderqueer folks, who are also not women; I mention nonbinary folks here, because many of the answers to this question are oversimplifying the “lesbian” definition and insisting it means sole attraction to women, period). For what it’s worth, I also know lesbians who have been attracted to or been with cis guys. The possibility always exists. In case anyone reading this tries to protest and make excuses or caveats for gender presentation/expression, just hold your breath. Yes, it still “counts” if the man has a stereotypically feminine expression. Yes, it still counts if the lesbian in question reads the man as a woman. Assuming gender is always a dubious risk; one should never be confident of their uninformed (by the person) assessment.

Finally, labels are self-determined approximations of identity. The details of my definition and reality of “lesbian” may not coincide exactly with yours. And that’s A-okay.

Let me know your thoughts!

Can an Autistic Person Look Normal?

Someone on Quora asked "Can you be autistic and look normal?" This was my response:

  1. Clarification: Do you mean “Can an autistic person go through everyday life without people noticing they are autistic?” If so, then yes. It is possible. It depends on the person and the context.
  2. On invisiblization: However…is this a good thing? I am an autistic person who often slips under people’s radar. It kind of sucks. There are definitely some privileges to passing like I do (i.e. not being an immediate target for anti-autistic or anti-disability hate), but there are many disadvantages that make it really hard to move through social, professional, and family circles without feeling like a burden or a liar.
  3. Personal examples:
    1. I am a professional musician/composer/performer who has learned to perform my ass off, both on stage and in life — when I have spoons. By studying other people motions and interactions intently, I have been able to pass as neurotypical in many circles...but again, only when I have spoons to keep up the act. Because I can “act so normal” sometimes, the moments I can’t hold it in anymore are much worse, both personally and in terms of other peoples’ reactions to them. I just come off as being as asshole, being super rude, dramatic, lying, etc.
    2. Generally, though, I come off as a weird/blunt/humorless/not-emotionally-in-touch/selfish person to many people. People think that before reading me as autistic. So…yes, I look “normal but mean” to others. I’d rather people know that I’m autistic and well-intentioned and just have a different way of moving through life.
    3. If you saw me in a short spurt, or even in a public video, Instagram, or onstage, you would not think I was mean or cold. You may even think I’m warm and engaging. Like I said, I’m a performer. I know to always ask about the other person, smile and nod, say certain things, do certain things, and plaster on certain facial expressions. It’s not natural. But it doesn’t mean I don’t want to connect with the other person. If I’m feeling more talkative or pressured to talk, I often end up asking a person two zillion tiny follow-up questions on seemingly insignificant details of their stories, and it’s 1. how I get through a conversation in the easiest way possible, and 2. part of my nature to need all of the details in order to build a cohesive story, opinion, and response. There’s usually no purpose to knowing all the details; it’s just mentally stimulating, and I prefer to hold onto facts rather than more nebulous things like feelings. When I’m relaxed and just enjoying someone’s company and I know they won’t judge my autistic ways, I often just stare off into space, say nothing, say too much, let my sentences trail out, disappear and come back, check my phone or do something with my hands while they’re talking, ask questions but then suddenly stop, sometimes don’t even face them, rarely laugh at their jokes, and I have a completely bleak/blank look on my face. I often don’t say goodbye and will just…walk away when I’m “done.” At the bottom of this post are two casual photos of me. The first is a pic of me genuinely feeling really happy and grateful. The second is a pic of me purposely evoking a “happy and grateful” expression for fans. It took a lot of shots for me to get the pose and the “activated sparkly eyes” thing down. Again, I’m not saying my positive feelings were fake; just that my real face wouldn’t visually convey that to others.
  4. Gender: Many people are starting to realize that females (and non-binary folks) may not present the same markers of autism that boys do, leading professional to miss their diagnosis. This article by Dr. Joel Schwartz is helpful. TL;DR version is that girls are more socially motivated (pressure, society etc) as a survival skill, so it’s more common for those of us (that are able to) to try really hard to develop and wear that socialized costume.

 

Hope some of this helped!

 I'm genuinely happy in this photo.

I'm genuinely happy in this photo.

 I am plastering on an intentional positive face here.

I am plastering on an intentional positive face here.

 

 

A Day with Nike

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Today was one of the coolest days ever. I had the honor of hanging out with the Nike Product Team, because I'm apparently the muse for a new running shoe. 😱 I performed for them, showed them my home studio, talked about my inspirations, running habits, what I look for in shoes, etc, and then (COOLEST PART) was asked to give detailed feedback of dozens of incredible color palettes, textures, and designs. Y'all know how much I love giving feedback and making my design and usability preferences known...I am one of the pickiest people in the world, after all! At the end, they gifted me with the most gorgeous new lightweight running shoes in a color I'm drooling over (all white).

 

 

🎈 Today was particularly meaningful for a few reasons:

1) I am passionate about running, so this was an opportunity to nerd out on my special interest. My passion for running isn't competitive, fitness, or performance-based. I love it for other reasons: the mental clarity, fresh air, agency, independence, fun, and depression-reducing effects it provides me.

2) I legitimately am brand loyal to Nike, so it's not like this was a random company I didn't care for. When it comes to running shoes, I have exclusively worn Nike Free Runs for the past 6 or 7 years. I just get new Free Runs whenever it's time for new shoes. I (like many autistic people) am very sensitive to bulk, clunky weight distribution and anything on athletic shoes that makes it obvious that I'm wearing an apparatus. It's sort of like tags on t shirts -- if I feel it, I'm bothered. If I'm unaware of my clothes, it's good. The first time I put on Nike Free Runs years ago, I almost cried because they were RIDICULOUSLY light; so light and aerodynamic that I couldn't tell I was wearing shoes. I remember being SO excited my first time doing a 10K in my Free Runs. It was the Santa Monica-Venice Holiday Run. These shoes made running a pure joy. (Btw I highly recommend them for any autistic or sensory-sensitive people or just anyone who needs a very comfortable shoe.)

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3) I got to share a glimpse of my life, my art, neighborhood, even talk about Star Wars and sweet potatoes and autism and how music helped me open up and find a voice to share with the world. I talked about my distaste for the Jedi council, my support of the EU-Legends transition, and my love for Anakin's complex darkness.

4) The 6 people I met with were each REALLY cool. It was highly stimulating to talk to them about their respective niches and roles within shoe design. One is the color person, another does texture, another sketches the 2D models, another translates it to 3D and facilities production, and two others lead the marketing campaign. But they are all a unified team that contributes their area of expertise. It's an art just like any other, and I really love witnessing that in contexts outside of my own.

Thank you so much for the honor of being part of this new shoe, and for the fulfilling day. ✨

New Year Rituals I ACTUALLY Stick To

I'm not huge on New Year's Resolutions (my god, so much pressure), but I do have a couple important rituals that have significantly improved my life, so I thought I'd share them with you!

RITUAL #1:  Positivity Jar

In 2013 and 2014, I did actual jars, but in 2015 and 2016, I migrated to small journals due to my heavy travels. Same concept though! Basically, all I do is write tiny positive things on a slip of paper or in the journal. I try to do at least one a day, or several a week. If I fall off the tracks, that's okay; there are some weeks I forget to write in it and then I end up writing 15 things at once. We're talking small stuff, like "I woke up well-rested today," "I'm looking forward to my massage," and "I'm so grateful to have a working heater this year."

RITUAL #2: Everything Journal

The Everything Journal (I made that name up today) is my creative secret weapon. I could talk forever about it. I can even trace snippets (or whole concepts) from my pieces to things I wrote, drew, or observed and documented in my journals. A lot of my text-based work comes from inspiration in there too. Basically, whenever I'm stuck, I have oodles of pages to mine for gems. I forgot to mention the big rule with these journals: They are not allowed to be perfect. I write in pen even though it means making mistakes. I just live with it and look back wistfully later on. If I write something that's actually promising, I will edit it on my computer and refine it there. Everything Journals are just a creative, freeing thing for me.

Bonus new ritual: This year, I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin's Happier Podcast to come up with a one-word theme for 2017. She and her sister/cohost Elizabeth suggest doing that instead of coming up with full-on resolutions, which I like. The theme I've decided to try on this year is "Follow-through," becuase I have trouble finishing the zillion threads I start, and I have a big case of artistic/inspirational overload (opposite of writer's block), which compels me to explore and expand things so much that I hate to just let them go and finish. There's always too much more potential for me. This year, I'd like to get better at wrapping things up. Here's the original podcast episode/blog post about one-word themes, if you want more background on the concept. The episode is only 5 minutes long, so I highly recommend!

If you have any more questions about the Positivity Jar or the Everything Journal rituals, let me know, and I can try to elucidate for you and help you start your own versions!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox,

Chrysanthe

My Rogue One Opinions [SPOILERS]

Watching this movie felt like a constant battle between being stuck in the old Star Wars tradition and deciding whether, and when, to embrace the new. Really, a lot of my experience was a series of inner whining mitigated by instant justification and rationalization as to why the change or choice was a good one. I'm glad I was able to enjoy a lot of the movie for its visceral coolness, but I was admittedly more analytical in my first viewing than I'd hoped to be.

Yep, this was a good one! 

No opening crawl made me sad at first, but I ended up respecting it and ultimately, loving the choice. Rogue One isn't an episode; it's a standalone film, so I'm glad it's not adhering to Star Wars standards for arbitrary reasons. The opening action prologue did the same work as an opening crawl would have done, and it did it better. Both would have been redundant.

I LOVE Chirrut. I think he represents everything that's right with the force. Everything I think the force should be, at least. There's been some debate as to whether or not he is strong with the force, or whether or not he's a Jedi. I don't think it matters if he's a Jedi. And I think it's obviously that he has some ability to harness the power of the force. I am not a huge fan of the dogmatic Jedi system with its black and white rules. 

Mon Mothma!!! She is awesome. That actor is great. Seeing her on screen made me giddy. I mean, how cool -- it's Mon Mothma!!!

The end was powerful. Delightful. There were points where I wasn't 100% sure about the movie, because I was watching with a cautious eye (and also there is more action in this movie than I like to have in movies), but the end won me over completely.

I was a little bothered by Darth Vader. Thought he should be taller. Something about his suit felt off. But then I realized his height isn't biological; Anakin wasn't that tall, after all...I mean, he has half limbs underneath the suit. Also, this is probably in my head, because it really doesn't seem like something Star Wars directors would gloss over. It's a pretty important detail, after all.

I love K2.

I really really like that everyone dies.

Okay, but how cool is Mon Mothma?

Jyn's "inspiring speech" is a little much, but that's okay. Also, she is very attractive to me. 

Tarkin is scary AF. 

Fan me wanted to see Palpatine for a split second (or just the back of his robes or something), but I don't think it was necessary. 

I'm a fan of the CGI stuff. Tarkin didn't distract me or bother me, even though the actor is dead. I thought it's cool that they were able to "resurrect" him for this movie.

I also really liked the CGI Princess Leia thingy at the end. Feel like this will be controversial, but *shrug* I liked it, and I almost cried from being so excited about it.

Visually, this movie did good work. I think they built an admirable visual scape that incorporated elements from both new and old trilogies, which helps to blend them together. The difference in technology and "looks" is one of the most jarring things for me when watching the old and new trilogy back to back, and this movie helps bridge that gap.

A lot of these opinions will obviously change. These are just initial fan reactions.

I know that the empire is purposely supposed to be more human-centric because Emperor Palpatine is fucked, but I do miss the relative lack of "aliens" AKA non-humans in the empire films. One thing I really do like about the prequels is how diverse the galaxy is in terms of species. 

However, this movie was more diverse within the human landscape, which was great!! I see why conservatives were boycotting the movie now. Lolololol.

I liked the planet subtitles. I feel like this will also be controversial because it's a new convention.

MUSTAFAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE. The birth of Vader. Obviously, this is where he'd have his castle. Nice shoutout to the original concept art too. I love Ralph McQuarrie.

The musical score was by far the most distracting part of this movie for me. I'm not saying it was bad, but it was extremely distracting because it wasn't what I'm used to, obviously. However, I think it is important that John Williams NOT do it. With the revival of the franchise this decade, it has become clear that Star Wars movies are going to continue to be a thing for a while, and let's be honest -- John Williams can't do it forever. He's old. He's tired. The franchise can't rely on him. It was a great move to make that movie now, so that when John Williams dies, it isn't a sudden blow to the Star Wars franchise. I'm glad the first non-John-composed live action film was an intentional, expected thing rather than a last resort due to Williams' death (Clone Wars movie was also non-John, but that wasn't remotely popular, nor was it good, and no one outside of geek world really talks about it. I was only of the only people I know who saw it when it came out.) Also, since Rogue One is a standalone film rather than an episode, a lot of these changes made more sense. I think they all assist in setting the stage for a little more creative freedom in the Star Wars films in the future. 

I'm not not saying the score was bad either. But seriously though, just because I'm not not saying it was bad, I still don't mean it was bad either. I need more space to consider it on its own, because for now, I can only judge it in the context of the old scores, which is more of a reactionary response. I will say though, that I think Michael Giacchino did an admirable job given all the constraints (both imposed and imagined, I'm sure). First of all, he only had a month to pull this shit off. So YIKES. Also...no pressure! It's just a Star Wars film! You're just going up against John Williams' legacy and going to endure the critique of a skillion diehard fans and nerds who will probably not be nice! I wouldn't have wanted his job, to be honest. There must have been enormous pressure to both fit into the "Star Wars-ian sound" and craft something new-ish, which doesn't sound like a dream creative project to me. 

I wish the orchestral musicians who recorded for this were listed in the credits, but it was probably some union thing. Idk. I'll ask Lorenz (who recorded on it). I hope there was a good reason for not listing them. 

HOW COOL WAS THE END THOUGH. SO GREAT. IT LEADS PERFECTLY INTO A NEW HOPE, WHICH IS THE MOST BADASS THING EVER I'M SO HAPPY.

It's Patron Celebration Month! (Get ready for gifts)

Note: This post will be continually updated throughout the month, so keep checking back to see what the new prizes are, and let me know what you want!

December is an extremely special month for me, because it's my marks my 1 year anniversary of joining Patreon. For lack of better words...being on Patreon has changed my life. Like holy shit, friends!

Being on Patreon has allowed me to open up and be more vulnerable. It has made me feel supported. It has pushed me to create interesting content, record more videos, share my personal moments and backstage secrets with people, and provide free music downloads and secret tracks. And it has given me a tiny bit of extra financial security. This is absolutely huge. My patrons on Patreon are vital to my actual day to day life, as both an artist and human in the real world. Needless to say, I am really, really freakin' grateful! 

Given the holidays, my 1-year Patreon anniversary, and the extreme gratitude I have for you, it only seems fitting to do a Patreon Celebration Month! 

What does this mean? It means that every single day this month of December, I'm going to do a giveaway! 

I'm hoping this both invites new people into my Patreon family as well as makes the existing family feel appreciated. 

So stay tuned here. Every day from 12/1-12/31 will bring a new gift, prize, thank you, or incentive for people to join my Patreon. Consider it a Patreon Advent Calendar that goes all the way until New Year 😉.  The giveaways and prizes will range from free music to postcards to personalized theme tunes to me drawing you as your favorite vegetable or writing a 3-line poem.

Patreon Advent Calendar

Day 1: All new patrons today get a free piece of sheet music! The choices include any of the individual Stories pieces here, or as a bonus option, you can even receive a score for my solo violin piece On the Other Hand (which isn't officially for sale yet). Existing patrons are eligible for this prize as well; just let me know what you'd like!

Day 2: I will draw you as a sweet potato.

Day 3: If you become my patron today, I will improvise on the violin for 30 seconds and dedicate it to you! (Will post/send you the video.)

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Everyone who is my patron by this day will be able to submit their favorite holiday song for me to play. I will make a video compilation of me playing snippets from all of the songs! 

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Ok, I'm super excited for this. Happy December!!
xo,
Xanthe

PS: In a perfect world, I would be over the moon if everyone who currently buys my music just became my patron for $1/month instead, then received all of my future music and art for "free." Financially speaking, this would also make it possible for me to literally make more music and better produced music more often, which would mean that my patrons get new stuff all the time. I'd like to no longer rely on things like iTunes, and I'd like my fans to be able to literally get everything I make on a rolling basis. When I say $1/month in my grand vision above, I actually really mean it. It's the power of the collective that matters most to me. It's having a million ants instead of one cockroach. It's everyone's voice and contribution being important, not just those of the rich donors and big grant-givers. I don't want one singular patron to bankroll me like the kings did in the days of Haydn and Beethoven. I want everyday people, because that's who my music is for most of all.

PPS: I currently have 37 patrons. If I can get to 100 patrons by December 31st, I will post a goofy video of me dancing to a ridiculous song. 🙈 Or I'll do something else that y'all request that's either super out of character for me or is an absurdly good gift to you all. This is in fine print at the bottom because I'm already scared lol.

Halfway through #NaMuCoWriMo!

 Pointless photo included solely to make this more visually interesting and to provide a thumbnail. 😂

Pointless photo included solely to make this more visually interesting and to provide a thumbnail. 😂

As you may know from my recent blog or my social media updates, I started a thing this month called NaMuCoWriMo (National Music Composition Writing Month). Basically, all that means is that I'm challenging myself to compose every day, no matter how crappy the output is. 

True to form, I have a zillion thoughts about this already, but I'll reserve the bulk of my reflection for my follow-up post at the end of the month. At the end of the month, I'll also post a list of what I worked on every day.

But I wanted to do a little check-in now that the month is over halfway over! It's been a GREAT experience so far.

My work has really been all over the place this month, and I mean that mostly in a good way. Because of the "rules" I put in place for myself (mainly not to stagnate in perfectionism), I've been a lot more willing to go outside of my usual boundaries. This means I've done more in Ableton, done more with visuals and space, worked on text, started things that didn't have a clear direction or destination. 

Some trends that have developed. I don't want to judge myself for them yet, instead choosing to (attempt to) focus on observing them neutrally. 

  1. Some days, I "finish" a draft. Other days, I do not. So far, I haven't gone back to fix or finish a lot of my compositions started this month, thus I have a lot of new incomplete things. This makes me slightly anxious but not nearly as much as usual.
  2. I really, really love working with text. I mean, I already knew this, but damn. I really really really do. 
  3. I am liking Ableton Live 1000% more than expected, and I actually think it'll be be a bigger part of my future. Here's a song called "Lament" that I made in there. I assembled the lament on the night of the devastating election, which also happened to be the day of my grandfather's funeral. 
  4. Writing myself etudes and beginner pieces has been really fun! I started learning marimba recently, so one of my compositions was an easy marimba etude to work on some 4-mallet intervals that I suck at. I'm actually totally into the idea of writing more beginner pieces for myself. Not even just beginning-level things. I'm going to start doing this for myself more with violin too, to work on specific things that crop up. Why didn't I think of this sooner?!
  5. It's been an interesting struggle figuring out the best way to notate experimental things.
  6. One piece I'm totally jazzed on is a collaboration with my friend Arthur Breur! We have never met, but we are "composition" friends online, and he is a fellow Patreon creator. I don't know too many composers on Patreon, so it's rad to have him there. We are writing a sonata for violin and piano together, sort of like the FAE sonata except totally different, of course. I want to collaborate with more Patreon artists in the next year, since there are so many creative, cool people on the platform, and Patreon is where I have the most fun with things creatively. So far, I've worked on initial melodies, and Arthur is in the process of coming up with harmonies.
  7. Related to the above point about my sonata collaboration with Arthur: Because he exclusively uses MuseScore for his composition notation, I downloaded it and will be using it for our sonata too. It's easier to share things that way, since it's an open source program that has easy online saving options. We tried sending back .xml files, but it was too clunky. I'm nervous but up for using this different platform (I'm normally a Sibelius person). In the past, I probably would have stressed about changing my routine in any way, but this month has freed me up a lot. 
  8. NaMuCoWriMo has made me even more obsessed with Patreon, to be honest. Since I've been trying a lot of new weird things this month, it's nice to have a safe place to share half-finished and vulnerable works. Most of the things I've done this month are definitely not polished enough to share with the public yet, haha. So if any of my patrons are reading this, thank you for being so receptive and in for this ride! (If you want to be one of them, you're of course welcome to join at any time! It's literally just $1 a month for the the secret updates.)

Stay tuned to hear my further developed thoughts and the day-by-day breakdown of what I actually worked on every day this month! 


Anyone wanna do NaMuCoWriMo with me?

This post is for my fellow composers and creatives who feel the unbearable weight of inertia as much as I do.

I'll speak for myself here: This is really uncomfortable to admit, but I have trouble working. It sucks. I'm a composer and yet I spend more time languishing, planning, fretting, troubleshooting, shooting down my own ideas, and feeling guilty than I actually do composing. It's a hard truth, but I gotta accept it. Both my greatest strength and weakness is my mastery of the art of deliberation. 

I'm tired of it, or at least I need a break from it this month. I have dozens of personal projects and pieces in progress, a lot of great opportunities scheduled for the next 6 months, and more commissions lined up right now than I've ever had in my life (YAY)! -- These are all blessings, of course, but, well...now I have to (get to) actually do them.

I'll get to the point: A lot of writers I know participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every November, and I would like to do a composer-y spin-off of that. NaMuCoWriMo, if you will. (That's National Music/Composition Writing Month, if that wasn't obvious.)

I'm sure someone else can come up with a better title, but NaMuCoWriMo sounds generic enough to be flexible. I want to use the month of November to do one composition per day. It doesn't have to be an epic, big, real thing. I'm thinking little exercises, various challenges and prompts to get me out of my comfort zone. If I have a week-long project in mind, that's fine too, as long as I'm making sufficient tangible progress every day. I'm posting this blog for accountability. If I write the intention, it becomes more real, right? 

***This post has already changed 3 times, from NaMuWriMo to NaCoWriMo, and now NaMuCoWriMo, due to it being uncharted territory on Twitter, which makes it easier to hashtag and accurately check up on each other's progress.***

Here are some guidelines and general thoughts for myself this month:

  1. I must compose every day.
  2. I must produce "something to show for it." It can be a scratch recording, a sheet of handwritten paper, a page in Sibelius, a 1-minute Ableton file, really does not matter. 
  3. Nothing I compose has to be "good." 
  4. Ok, because I know I won't listen to the previous rule, I hereby give myself express permission to write REALLY CRAPPY STUFF. This will make me more comfortable exploring new territory.
  5. I'm not going to be concerned with "what is music?" and "does this count as music?" or "is this a serious work?" or any genre or other nitpicky bullshit. I don't care about weird standards like "50 bars of notation" or "5 minute run-time" or whatever. 
  6. I don't have to post my creations on my blog, but hey, I might from time to time! I think it would be really cool to document these terrible little compositions, but I also don't want to impose another ritual on myself, since I'm busy enough already. So I'm gonna go with no imposition for now. I'll just see how I feel as it goes.
  7. I'm actually probably going to be sharing this stuff on my Patreon, because I do want to share, but I don't necessarily want everything public. Become a patron here
  8. Oh, I'm allowed one day off per week. So if I really really need to skip a day, I will.
  9. Re-evaluate these guidelines from time to time and shift anything that isn't working well.
  10. I'm absolutely positive that I'm going to want to change one of the guidelines. Totally cool and good.
  11. If you want to join me, cool. If I'm totally alone in this, cool. But let me know if you do do it! Maybe we can just post on a group or thread or use the #NaCoWriMo hashtag on Twitter/FB just to say "I did my thing today."
  12. I was really back and forth between NaMuWriMo and NaCoWriMo, but idk, I guess my flavor of the minute is now Co (composition) rather than Mu (music), because I hate boxing myself into a genre too much (lol). ***edit: As you can see above, the people joining me on Twitter have persuaded me to use NaMuCoWriMo, for hashtagging reasons. 😉

The hardest thing about this will be shushing the deliberation monster that turns me into this absurd perfectocrastinator. I'm going to really need to embrace self-acceptance and "let it be" and "just let the piece go." It is in that spirit that I took the super snazzy photo of myself at the top of the post. Literally me now, just looking oh so fashionable and put together as I write this blog. I hope my mini-compositions this month espouse the vibe of that photo -- unpolished, unplanned, and unedited, but at the end of the day, totally fine.

Trends, Video Games, and Fandoms - September Podcast Picks

Happy International Podcast Day! As someone who's obsessed with podcasts, I'm surprised I haven't done more podcast posts. As someone also obsessed with reviewing things (and generally having opinions), I'm doubly shocked I haven't done more podcast reviews. I figure it's because I listen to so many damn podcasts so damn often that it's hard to keep track of them. Luckily, I remember some of this month's highlights, so I'm going to share my recent episode picks below. No particular order.

 

1) If you want something fun, surprising, and short.

99% Invisible #229: The Trend Forecast
Length: 17:41
Listen from their website 
Subscribe on iTunes 

This episode introduces Worth Global Style Network (WGSN), the company that predicts fashion trends. Turns out, WGSN is the secret weapon of the mass market. Pretty much every retailer, news outlet, and marketer relies on this company's trend predictions in order to stay current. All of this is incredibly fascinating. And it's not just about clothing, shoes, and hair trends; it's also food, behavior, technology, packaging trends, and more. Statistics and complex future projections play a major role in style prediction. This episode is a stimulating brain massage.

 

2) If you're a member of any fandom and have feelings. 

Full of Sith: Fixing Fandom - Ending Bullying and Gatekeeping
Length: 59:44
Listen on their website
Subscribe on iTunes

As almost any fan of anything knows, fandoms can be intense. What starts as a mutual love for a book or movie often becomes a pissing contest dead set on weeding out those with unpopular opinions, gaps in their knowledge, or newer points of entry. This episode is technically on a Star Wars podcast, but it's actually a very general discussion with panelists spanning different nerd worlds and perspectives. A lot of interesting points are raised here, including why gatekeeping may exist and be "important" for some people in the first place.

 

3) If you want riveting, well-reported, really fucking important.

This American Life #562: The Problem We All Live With
Length: 58:43
Listen on their website
Subscribe on iTunes

This one is about desegregation in schools (yes, in modern times). While all of the other podcasts mentioned in this post are fascinating, delightful, stimulating, educational, THIS one is like...super super important AND interesting. And it's not boring either, which I know is sometimes the danger when sitting down to specifically consume "something important." But I promise this isn't like that. You won't sit through it and think "I'm being a good citizen by listening to this" You will be riveted. And infuriated. I wish more people knew about these stories. Content warning: There are some intense, verbal moments of anti-black racism from parents at the recorded school district meeting. 

 

4) If you like playing games on your phone and/or if you struggle with anxiety, depression, or addiction.

Note to Self: The Secret to Making Video Games Good For You
Length: 26:29
Listen on their website
Subscribe on iTunes

When people talk about technology, I'm used to hearing skepticism, fear, and dismay. And negative conversation surrounding video games has been around since even before smartphones. As an unabashed technology lover, I always love a good discussion about the positive byproducts of tech, and this episode definitely provides that, complete with concrete research and tips on how can use games as a way of self-help and mood regulation. Lots of great points here, and a truly delightful listen, so I hope even the stodgiest of technophobes give it a try!

 

5) If you're an artist/musician who could use a quick pep talk.

The Entrepreneurial Musician #63: TEM Short: The Number One Trap For Artists
Length: 11:50
Listen on their website
Subscribe on iTunes

Be yourself. Don't listen to the haters. Don't send yourself into a spiral of self-judgment based on a couple less than perfect reviews. Just do you. I know this isn't new advice to anyone, but host Andrew Hitz does a good job quickly demonstrating how silly these vicious traps are and encouraging us artists to continue trucking on. Worked for me.

Anakin is My Hero

 Anakin "testing out" her spiffy new hammock...

Anakin "testing out" her spiffy new hammock...

As I mentioned in my Debating Free-Feeding My Cat post a few months ago, I've been a bit concerned with Anakin. This concern sparked a huge "Enrich Anakin's Life" Project this summer, not only in regards to food, but with her environment as well. Suffice to say I've bought a billion cat things, returned about 75% of them, repurposed household items, put in maybe 50 hours of research, and experimented with food, play, litter, care, and more. It's been a thing.

When I was offered this spiffy cat hammock in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the opportunity. I've always wanted a hammock for Ani! Watching Anakin lounge like a queen in her own autonomous hammock while I sit peacefully on the couch is kind of the dream. I mean, it would make such a good Instagram photo.

This particular hammock was a really soft material, and I appreciated how versatile it was. Its straps and clips are pretty easy to finagle and affix to various furniture, containers, or whatever fixtures people have in their houses. It's sturdy as well, so I definitely wasn't worried that Anakin would rip through the material or anything. Plus, it's machine washable...

This could have been so perfect for us...

But alas, Anakin was not into it. Even when I placed treats inside of the hammock, she would find a way to eat the treat right off the surface without going in there.

When I simply spread the hammock out flat on the couch, though, she was all about it! I suppose it's kind of hard to deny a soft, plush, warm surface when you're a cat, and this hammock was at least certainly that.

But...what about my fantasy!? 

At the end of the day, Anakin's gonna do whatever she wants to do, and dammit, that's why I like her so much.

To be honest, my cat is kind of my hero, and I'm not joking when I say that I actively remind myself to "be more like Anakin" quite frequently. I mean, the cat just lives her life, makes her needs known when she has them, outsmarts her assailants when they're trying to do things to her (like take her to the vet), and can stay quiet and still for hours when she just feels like chilling.

Not everyone likes her or gets her, but she's great. The cat is great.

PS: I should add that of course, this doesn't mean Anakin will always dislike all hammocks, but something about this particular combination of hammock-adjacent environmental details and events conspired to preclude us from making the hammock dream a reality at this time. With more persistence, at a different time, in a different place, perhaps it would have worked. That said, it truly is a nice product, so I am gifting it to one of my good cat friends.

PPS: If you're interested in a nice, versatile cat hammock, here's the link to this particular one. They have a money back guarantee, so you can definitely send it back if your cat pulls an Ani!

✌🏼

Portals: A poetry preview from my new album

Homecoming, my new album of musical poetry, will feature woven layers of acoustic violin and spoken word poetry. Below is the poem that goes with track 2, "Portals," which I wrote after being inspired by the beautiful doors on the island of Syros. Here is a rough video captured at a live demo presentation I gave at the Syros Sound/Word Residency.

 Doors in Ano Syros, Greece

Doors in Ano Syros, Greece

Portals

First day here, I’m staying at a local’s house. The night is warm for exploring.

I take a picture of the front door before heading out.

A clue.

To find my way back.

I love the doors on this island, Syros. Can’t stop taking pictures.

There’s a royal blue one, a dark bold wood, turquoise with brass handle. Even chipped edges look just right against stark white walls.

Every house begins with a door.

Every door is a portal to a house.

Portal to a home.

I think about my own apartment door, identical to the hundreds of other doors in my building.
Is my door a portal too?

Last month, two neighbors mistook my door for theirs. In the middle of the night, I heard the clanking, scraping of misfit key entering lock.

This would not happen here in Syros.

Not to the faded aubergine nor the freshly-painted tangerine.
Not to the shy lavender or pastel pink with periwinkle trim…

How do I make my door a portal? What if a portal only happens when a house becomes a home?

I have a ways to go.

Is home really a home if it has one hundred clones?

 

-----

This work was written by Chrysanthe Tan during Syros Sound Meetings' Sound / Word Residency (Ano Syros, Greece, July 2016).

-----

 

I'm able to make art for a living thanks to my wonderful patrons! If you'd like to support my music for $1/month, plus receive free downloads, sheet music, virtual hangouts, behind the scenes, and more, click here!

 

Olympians and Ice-Cream

The 2016 Rio Olympics ended last week, and I have all the feels. Why?

Because of something I accidentally saw on TV.

It was a morning news show, and there was a cheesy montage of US Olympic athletes telling everyone what they were going to do when they got home from Rio. Some of the responses:

  • eat ice-cream
  • sleep for two weeks straight
  • have a pizza night with my family
  • hug my dogs
  • rest
  • go to a spa
  • get a massage
  • settle into my beautiful new apartment
  • go on vacation

 

Maybe it was the peppy editing. Maybe it was the my own longing to do things on that list. Maybe it being in a different time zone at the crack of dawn. Maybe it was Simone Biles with a huge grin on her face as she said she wanted to be pampered. (Maybe it was Simone Biles in general?) 

But I think what really stuck with me was the inherent personal acknowledgement in their answers. The combination of glee + exhaustion + longing for comfort + a healthy dose of "I deserve this."

Regardless of medals or wins, each of the athletes Rio put in an extraordinary amount of work, lived dedication and sacrifice for years, and had just gone through something huge, transformative, exhausting, epic.

So what were they going to do when they got home? Freakin' rest, get a massage, and eat ice-cream! Treat themselves.

Treat themselves. Okay, that's definitely what made me emotional. That self-acknowledgement. The feeling deserving of something. Celebration of self. What I didn't detect in any answers (thank you, cleverly manipulative TV editing) was a hint of guilt. There was no "well...I should be training more, but I'm going to take a week off" or "I feel bad about taking a break but my coach is making me get over my injury."

Ah, I am so, so bad at celebrating myself! It is very hard for me to notice when I've achieved something worthy of celebration. (I know, I know, we shouldn't tie self-acknowledgement with external markers of success, and that's a pervasive problem in our shallow, capitalist, overly-work-driven society, etc., etc., I GET it, but...)  I'm not sure when I can take breaks, pretty much ever. My last true day off was on March 11th (my birthday), and wow it was the best day ever, but I had to mentally prepare for a month in order to ensure I'd be guilt-free.

I'm currently typing this post on a Saturday morning, and I see on Facebook that my friend proudly has nothing planned for the weekend but a Netflix binge and reading marathon. Talk about true goals. I love that. Wonder if it'll ever be possible for me. 

Here's the good news: I am actually getting SO much better at acknowledging myself (SO MUCH BETTER)!  But that cheesy Olympic montage is going to stick with me for a long time. I shall look back at it for inspiration, validation, and motivation in my continuing self-care and self-celebration efforts. Also, I sincerely hope that Laurie Hernandez enjoyed her family pizza night and that Simone Biles had the best spa day of her entire life.

xo,

Xanthe

PS: I am fairly certain that my Facebook friend is more evolved than I am, as I recently heard on the Happier Podcast that it's important to give oneself treats that aren't tied to accomplishment. That giving oneself "just because" treats every now and then actually makes us work more happily and productively. It makes us instinctively know that we are fine and taken care of. I also learned from one of my favorite books, The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, that willpower is a finite resource that we can deplete and run out of. Just more food for thought.

 

17 Notes to Self: Greece Edition

Most touristy photo possible. No selfie stick required! 😉

Holy moly, I went to Greece & it was ALL OF THE THINGS & then I got back and didn't know how to process it until weeks after my return, so that said...I don't mind that this blog post is 3 weeks late, because let's face it: 

It takes time to separate real lessons from nostalgia.

So please remember this stuff, future Chrysanthe:

  1. Pack more shirts next time you travel in the summer. Fewer jackets.
  2. If you have an absurdly large suitcase, make sure your AirBnb apartment has an elevator -- or at least not a perilous, narrow, marble spiral suitcase.
  3. Embrace JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). Remember how you skipped the final group outing, and how it was totally okay. You saved yourself from developing insidious, unintentional resentment, and your non-participation didn't affect your relationship with your colleagues. 
  4. Whipping out your violin and jamming with the performing musicians at a cafe is never a bad idea, especially if it's a Vamvakaris song.
  5. Remember how upset you were about the slow album progress at first. Then fast forward to the final days when you had all those new revelations and ideas that wouldn't have been possible to implement had you rushed the process. Stop freaking out about productivity the whole time.
  6. Just accept the siesta hours. They're not gonna go away, no matter how much you wish they would. Seriously though, Syros is a ghost town from 1-5pm, and there's no use fighting it.
  7. Pay attention to the status of your luggage at international layovers. Apparently, bags don't always automatically meet you at your destination. Thank god for the one incredible Philadelphia Airport employee who gave my suitcase a second chance to make it through with me.
  8. Bringing Lysol spray, a power strip, Tupperware, and tons of batteries = the best idea ever. Good job. Pat yourself on the back and do it again, always.
  9. Set small, manageable, imaginable goals, because it's really easy to feel disappointed and lost when you're deep in the middle of work. You're never sure if you're living up to your expectations if you don't set a realistic, concrete expectation to begin with. You always fall into the vicious cycle of progress without acknowledgment, which certainly contributes to your rampant artistic malaise and insecurity.
  10. People don't ALWAYS suck. Remember that you actually had some nice moments. Highlights: learning Greek phrases from my colleagues, interviewing people about home/having a couple of unexpectedly deep offshoot conversations sparked by that, randomly hanging out with the drunk Greek band at Apano Hora. 
  11. Never forget the time you got really lost on your run and found your way back operating on pure instincts (!?!?). Your instincts aren't always broken after all!
  12. No matter how hot the climate of your destination is, dress for the Arctic on the plane.
  13. Always have cash on hand for cabs. Drivers don't always take card like they do in the US.
  14. Remind my cat-sitter that he should refill the litter when it gets low...I shall never make this mistake again...
  15. Staying with an AirBnb host who is actually present can be nice if you're new to a city and want insider tips. I learned so much from Eugenia, my Syros host, and she even came to my presentation at the residency!
  16. Speaking of presentation, why do you always think you're a terrible public speaker and articulator? You walk around telling everyone you can't talk, you're too awkward, no one will understand your gibberish, but maybe it's time to acknowledge that sometimes you're actually very good? Your Syros residency presentation is where you found the sweet spot in terms of preparation + confidence + trust in the moment. You were certainly prepared -- that's for damn sure -- but not over prepared. Your material was very strong. You had all the goods, so there was no need to feel like an imposter. And your usually annoying tendency to think everything to death came in handy when having to speak about your process and inspiration. (I have acquired a few minutes of footage from the presentation, which I'll be privately sharing with my patrons.)
  17. Being in a different time zone than everyone back home is the best thing ever. I LOVE BEING OUT OF REACH and missing out on live updates. I wouldn't want to be without internet at all, of course, but catching up with things on my own time is really one of the secrets to calmness.

If you're curious for some footage from the Syros Sound/Word Residency, here are several video diaries I posted during the trip. They are linked here in chronological order. 

Carob tree, yellow split peas, midnight snack hunt, impromptu drunk musician hang

Ocean views, Greek coffee, emo art thoughts, cats, vegan food.

Cats, class, colleagues, cooking, emo art thoughts

Mysterious rye bread, Greek coffee, musical preview, midnight Vamvakaris concert

Sanitizer, salepi, spoken word, sleepy composers, deadly delicious rye bread

Water, hills, bread, split peas, work, emo art thoughts

Last day of the residency, colleague presentations, group improv performance

Athens, Acropolis, travel lessons, perilous staircase

For more blog posts about this trip and my new (in progress) album, click here.

Stream this short film

Last year, I worked on a very special project, a short film called Vámonos. I don't like to score films very often, but as soon as I saw the rough cut of this in a screening, I fell in love. I even shed a tear (and I don't shed tears even during Pixar movies). I was so enthralled that I was too nervous to speak with the director, because the other composers in the room all wanted to speak with him as well. I escaped the screening and took my awkward self to the bathroom to hide, figuring there was no way I'd get to work on it. 

I hate falling in love with things, because that means admitting I want and care, AKA setting myself up for disappointment. But I couldn't deny it; this film was both beautiful and important.

Not only does Vámonos center the stories of queer, Latinx young people, but the cast & crew is also comprised of LGBTIQ people of color. I wish more media and entertainment were like this.

To cut a long story short, I ended up having the honor of scoring the film. My dear friend and duo partner, Sean Hayward, played the guitar on it. The film made a successful debut on the festival circuit, and I'm very pleased to finally share that Vámonos is now available for free streaming on PBS Indies! So if you have 12 minutes to spare...

Click here to stream the film.

 CREDITS 

TRIVIA: Moira was recently the cinematographer for the new Tegan and Sara music video, and Marvin is the creator & director of the upcoming America Ferrera web series Gente-fied, which some of the Vámonos cast is also a part of! Rad people.

xo,

Xanthe

Note: This post originally appeared on Patreon.

Doors as Portals to Home

One of the first things I noticed upon arrival in Syros was how uniquely beautiful each door is. I love walking and taking photos while I admire the wide plethora of colors and constructions: faded turquoise, royal blue, bold dark wood, forest green, a shy lavender, pastel pink with periwinkle…

Seeing all these doors has added a new dimension to my thoughts about what makes a home, as doors are portals to a home.

My first day in Syros (when I was staying elsewhere on the island), I took a photo of my host’s front door as a way to remind myself which house to come back to at night. I do this everywhere I travel.

My apartment door in Los Angeles is identical to the door of hundreds of other units on the premises. Last month, a confused couple tried to open my door with their own key simply because they mistook my door for theirs.

This would not happen in Syros.

I’m not sure where these thoughts are going, but my brain is spinning, thinking about doors being portals, signifiers, symbols, invitations to a home. What does it mean if your portals looks identical to all the other portals? How important is differentiation or customizability in establishing home?

Is a home really a home if it has one hundred clones?

For what it’s worth, the day after my neighbors tried to enter my unit, I went out and bought a doormat. I think it helps. Perhaps my subconscious already knows how to make a home.

This post originally appeared on the Sound/Word residency blog.


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8 Mindsets That Are Keeping You Broke (& What to Do About Them)

You’ve got the talent. You’ve got the drive. You’ve worked long and hard on your craft. You have complex thoughts. Creative ideas. Hell, people even like your music!

So you’re making a decent living, right?

Cue collective sigh.

If you’re struggling to make money from your music, you’re not alone. However, you’re not doomed to this fate.

Read and comment on the rest of this article at iCadenza's blog! I enjoyed writing this and hope it helps some fellow musicians.