The Future of Music

Our economy is constantly changing and the music industry along with it. From my own personal consumer experience and growing up in the age of the internet, I can tell you that I am one of those people who directly contributed to the failure of the music industry. I was one of those people who download massive amounts of music off of services like Limewire and Bittorrent. Even as laws slowly caught up with the changes in technology, I too changed. I went from downloading music to streaming it online. For the most part, I have stopped paying for albums unless I love them.

As I started doing my own research into the music industry, I found that the only real victims were the artists themselves. They essentially had to sell everything they made to their record labels in order to give them the exposure they needed to make it big. Some record labels went as far as a sue the artists under them when their records didn’t perform to their impossible standards in the failing music industry.

A few years back, I used a service called Grooveshark, which did not help the artists in the music industry at all. These days, I have a subscription for Spotify which at least give some royalties to the artist every time you play a song of theirs. I use this streaming service to listen to music and when I find a record that I love, I will go out of my way to buy the vinyl of it, go to concerts, and purchase band merchandise. This is how I show my support of the artist. Fun fact, vinyl record sales outperformed CD sales the last three years in a row.

I am not every fond of the big three record labels. While I understand that they need to make money in order to keep the artists producing music, I cannot abide by their business practices. Have you ever seen a recording contract? They are almost as big as the Canadian criminal code! You need to be a lawyer in order to read them. I have my own limited experience with contracts since I work for Disney but these recording contract make my little paper work look like a parent permission slip for a field trip.

When I was thinking of going into the music industry a few years back, I made sure to get a feel for what I would be getting myself into. I researched all the different methods of recording, songwriting, and production before figuring out that I didn’t have the passion it took to get off my butt. I did record one song that I co-wrote with my roommate. She’s an amazing singer and sings with a choir. I can read, write, and record basic music. We put our two heads together and wrote this song and we recorded it at the local music school with the help of a friend who was studying there. This was about six years ago and I haven’t really done anything with it since that time.

I learned to play the guitar (not well), the bass, and keyboard. I learned the basics of recording on my own personal computer, I can certainly help someone else record a demo if they wanted to. I even brushed up on my music theory from what I learned in grade school and private lessons as a teen. I love music and everything to do with it. Even though I have tremendous stage fright, it’s only the pre-performance that bothers me. While actually performing, I am just fine, exhilarated even. I have made some amazing mistake while performing what should have traumatized me but I can only look back at them and laugh.

I think that the future of music industry will be determined by my generation. We love music and we will continue to want to hear new music. If we want to continue to enjoy new music, we will need to figure out a way to balance between purchasing music and supporting the artists. With changes in the release of digital content, we can buy directly from the artists, we can help them fund their recording process, and we can help them to fund a tour so that we can hear them directly. The record label isn’t as necessary as I used to be but it still has a place. Services like Spotify, Bandcamp, and to a limited degree iTunes/Google Play/Amazon will all have their place in the future of the music industry. I can’t wait till we see exclusive recording deals with digital media moguls like iTunes or Spotify. If Netflix can produce their own exclusive content, than we can certainly see Spotify do that one day. If I were a recording artist, I would go with Spotify and other streaming services over that of one of the big three.

~ Clara

The Darkness in Me Sees the Darkness in You

Be still my little black heart, I saw the two most amazing announcements today. The first was I came across a trailer for American Satan, a film about a band that is trying to make it on the Sunset strip but end up in a Fustian deal in their weakest moment. It stars the lead singer of Black Veil Brides, Andy Biersack (also known as Andy Black). The film comes out on Friday, October 13th and I will go see it, even if I go alone.

The second announcement was that Black Veil Brides are going on tour in the spring and will be in Vancouver in February. I am going to see them, I bought the tickets this morning as soon as they went on pre-sale. This band has been on my list of bands I need to see for four years now. Ever since I listened to the album, “Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones”, I have been a fan of this rock band. There is just the right level of darkness and light in their music that I am captivated by it.

Now, I will admit that when I first saw the look of the band, Black Veil Brides, back in 2011(ish), I was a little turned off by the obvious pageantry I saw there. I had heard enough rock metal bands that sucked that I wasn’t about to let the image of the band sell me alone. I eventually broke down and decided that I needed to give them an honest listen. I was floored by the quality I found there. Something similar happened to me when I eventually gave My Chemical Romance a listening to. While I don’t love all of the work that Black Veil Brides have created, I respect them on a much deeper level.

I respect them in the same way I respect artists like Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper. Speaking of Marilyn Manson, he’s got new work coming out too! What attracts me to artist who dance with the darker side is the honesty of the lyrics. There’s less pop repetitiveness to them and though touch on topics most people are uncomfortable talking about. Everything from fighting personal demons, suicide, death, political oppression, and anger. There’s a reason why youth tend to be attracted to rock and metal music, they are given so little latitude for dealing with their polarizing emotions in an effort to control them better, to keep them from making mistakes that will affect their whole lives. I remember being a teenager all too well.

In my late twenties, I had something of a resurgence of adolescent rebellion come out of me. I cut my hair into a mohawk, I dyed it crazy colors, I got my lip pierced, and I dressed like a punk. I also picked up some bad habits like smoking, drinking whisky, and back talking to my leadership team at work. It was a strange time for me, I was dealing with so much grief in my life that the only place I felt I could go was into my shell and make myself as approachable as I could.

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Here’s a picture of me in that glorious rebellion

Now, coming out the other side of that, I still feel that pull towards self destructive behaviours but it’s tempered now. Believe it or not, injuring myself and then finding yoga to help recover, might have actually saved my life. I am still prone to existential crisis on what feels like a monthly basis. It’s been worse the last few months since my break up but I have better ways of dealing with it because of yoga and self reflection.

No one cares what you go through, as much as people say they do. At the end of the day, they really only care about themselves. Learning to be selfish with yourself and giving into what you need in order to deal with your life, is hard for others to understand. I had a friend tell me that my writing in order to deal with my break up made her feel uncomfortable and my first reaction was, “I actually don’t care what you feel, it’s not about you.” Then I got to thinking about what I was writing and decided that maybe there needed to be a different venue for me to write about it. I took it offline and back into my journal because like I said before, no one cares how you feel, not really.

When artists like the band Black Veil Brides produce their music, they are giving up a piece of themselves to be put on display for everyone to see, hear, and feel. If you feel anything come up while listening to their music, than they have accomplished what every musician hopes for, to make a connection with you through their music. Music has been a medium by which people have connected since the first songs were sung around the fires of our ancestors.

It broke my heart a little when my ex told me he didn’t feel any connection to music of any kind. He would listen to music but he would not connect with it. He couldn’t feel anything from it. I often wondered if it was because he himself was emotionally closed off. There was only one time the two years we were together that I saw an emotional reaction from him other than guilt and that was when he told me about a fairly traumatizing experience he and his ex went through.

Music for me, is all about connection. I feel connected to others when I share my love of it. I feel connected when I am in the heat of a mosh pit, trashing around. I get moments of euphoria when I hear the harmony of chords and lyrics come together. This is why I can’t pick a genre of music that I like best because I love it all. I wrote before about listening to country music and how that wasn’t normal for me. This week I am listening to rock and metal. I feel pulled to different music depending on my mood. When I need to calm my angry soul, I need music like that of the Black Veil Brides to remind me that I am not alone in what I am feeling and that it’s okay for me to feel the way I do.

~Clara

Of Heritage and Language

I went to university for a long, long time and during that experience, I learned one very important lesson and that is that language always precedes culture. What does that mean and why is it important? To give the short explanation, you need to have a common language in which to communicate with other humans. Once you have a common language, you can then develop a culture out of it.

If you want to destroy a culture, you simply have to stop the language from being spoken and replace it with another. This is the core to the eradication of many human cultures by colonization. How do you revive a lost culture? You revive the language and allow it to grow and evolve again.

I have been watching Outlander over the last few months. The story is at the point where the British are imposing laws that ultimately destroy the Scottish culture and one of the ways they do it is by outlawing the use of the Gaelic language. Good thing for the Scots, the British were never able to fully eradicate the language. There is a strong revival movement to recover this ancient language and bring it back into the twenty first century.

Gaelic is a complicated language, similar to English in that it has words from other languages in it, such as Norse, Celtic, French, and Latin. There are only eighteen letters in the Gaelic alphabet and their syntax is similar to that of German, same as English.

Watching Outlander, there’s a lot of Gaelic spoken in it. I have always been interested in the Celts and their history. I sometimes get caught up looking up articles about the Celts on wikipedia. I love seeing their art and the archaeological sites that have been reconstructed. I spend hours reading over Celtic legends and stories.

This past summer, my family had a reunion. We started doing these about three years ago at the old summer home in Sicamous, the one my great grandmother used to own. We started talking about the origins of the Clan Munro and I brought up some points about our earliest known ancestor who emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1818 from Inverness, Scotland. Unfortunately, there is no record of his family in Scotland and given the time period, it’s very likely that he was one of the many Scots that was affected by the Highland Clearances of the late eighteenth century. He would have been born after the battle of Culloden. Now, many of the Munro’s stayed out of the Jacobite rising but the overall impact of that rebellion on the Scottish people, is still being felt today.

My grandmother came from the Camerons and they were part supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie and thus were some of the first to be affected when the rebellion failed. My grandmother grew up poor in the middle of Glasgow in the 1930’s, she just celebrated her ninety third birthday this past week. She never learned Gaelic because it was too late for her to do so by the time it became okay to learn the language again. Because my ancestors lost their language, my family lost part of their culture. So many other descendants of immigrants lost their cultural heritage due to losing their language.

I have been looking into learning Gaelic online for my own personal studies. I wish that it was a language more readily spoken where I live so that I could meet others and learn by conversation. To me, learning this ancient language and getting a feel for what it was used for in the celtic past, is a way for me to reconnect with my ancestors in a modern age. Not to mention, it would be helpful in reading text documents that use a lot of Gaelic in them. Moreover, I would like to be a part of bring back that part of my cultural heritage that has been mostly lost.

When I read the motto of the Munro Clan, I want to know what it really means. “Dread God” doesn’t sound very friendly and I have a feeling that it was more to inspire fear in the enemies of the Munro Clan but I also think there’s more to those words than the literal. Then there’s the Cameron’s mottos “Mo Righ ‘s Mo Dhuchaich” – “For King and Country” and “Aonaibh Ri Chéile” – “Let Us Unite”, which you can tell was changed after the Jacobite rebellion. Both of the mottos are in Gaelic and have deeper meanings to those who say them. For my mother’s family, the Kennedy Clan, they have the motto “Avise la Fin” – “Consider the end” which is French. I like the Munro one the best because of its obvious fear invoking quality. I actual want to make up hoodies with the crest on it with the motto to hand out at the next family reunion. Could you imagine thirty some odd Munros walking around town branding their Scottish heritage in style, it’s the next best thing to us all getting kilts in plaid.

I am a little sad that all of my family heritages stop at the end of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1746. We can’t trace any of the lines back farther than that because the records stop. The only way now for me to research further, would be to go back to Scotland and do the hard genealogy document recovery required. Now, I know there’s lots of resources available in Scotland but very few of them have been posted online for me to look through. Lucky for me, I have a good starting point with the records of immigration in Nova Scotia. It’s a life goal of mine to make a trip to Scotland and do a little digging. I would actually like to spend a good month there going around from place to place. I have a feeling I will get to it later in life.

~Clara of the Clan Munro

NaNoWriMo is coming

For the last few years, I have been trying my damnedest to finish a book for National Novel Writing Month. I haven’t been able to do it yet but this year, I think I will start on the prep for it early. Seeing as how, I don’t have a lot of major commitments in my life at this time, I can give myself the space to do this.

I have had a few characters and plot ideas banging around in my head for a long time. I also have some ideas for some non-fiction writing that I wouldn’t mind getting out on the table. One of which is a modern pagan how-to book. My other option would be to post on my blog every day for a month and write 1667 words a day. I suppose I could start that anytime as practice for doing a daily count.

The most challenging part will be making sure that I carve out the couple of hours I need to write the 1667 words. I can’t cheat by starting the word count now. However, I can start the practice of finding time. I don’t exactly have an excuse for not finding the time. I already cancelled my Netflix account (I already found a free streaming site that’s better anyways) and I have been making sure to spend at least a couple hours after work not looking at a screen. The phone time is starting to be cut down, I could take the next step and keep it out of my room, I have this bad habit of reading on it before bed. I know that the blue light is not good for my brain and sleep in general but I am pretty sure I have an addiction to it. I can talk about screen addition later, I am sure a few people have this problem.

NaNoWriMo is an excellent example of a habit building process. You need 30 days to build a new habit. It sounds easy but by the time you get to week three, it become much harder to keep up the energy. This past summer I tried my own exercise to build up a meditation and yoga practice. It worked well for the first two weeks but on the third week, I ran into a snag because I was on vacation. So, if you are going to do NaNoWriMo, don’t plan a vacation in the middle of it. That goes for any habit building process.

This will be the year that I finish, this will be the year that I build up the habit (if I keep up this, I will make it happen).

~Clara

Hometowns

I sometimes think about how I should have spent more time developing friendships with the people I grew up with. I don’t mean my close friends from high school, I mean the ones that I have known from day care and preschool. I guess now that I am older and I see how these people have grown and changed, I wish I had spent more time keeping in contact with them. To my credit, when I left my hometown fourteen years ago, I was under the impression that I had already spent the first eighteen years of my life with these people, it was time to get away for a while. I look back now and I might have been a bit too harsh about it.

We were all so green to the big wide world. Even though we had all been through some hard times and lost good friends, we didn’t really understand what was in store for us when we left the boundaries of Sicamous. I went off to get a higher education, others went off to get jobs in the oil industry, some stayed at home to raise families but we all have changed so much from who we were when we left.

There are times when I come back to my hometown and sit on one of the old stone picnic tables at Silver Sands Beach Park and look out over the water and remember the days I spent there as a child and later as a teen. I think about how we used to cheer each other on when someone grew the courage to jump off one of the bridges or how we would compete to see who could stay on the logs the longest as we rolled them. Those logs are gone now but the memory of them still remains.

Sometimes, I go back to the ice arena where I spent so many hours learning to skate. The moment I walk in through those double doors on the right hand side, I smell the scent of the ice and it brings me back to watching friends play hockey, to hours spent learning to dance on the ice, and to my first love and how we used to make out in secret while I should have been practising. Out of curiosity, I found that ginger haired boy on social media just to see what kind of a man he grew up to be. He still looks  like he did the last time I saw him, maybe with a little less red hair but his smile is the same.

There’s something special about having a hometown to come back to. Even though all of my close friends have moved away, I still feel their presents when I come home. I drive along those old back country lanes and think about how we used to take the long way home just to have those precious minutes together away from our parents. I walk to the cafes we used to hang out and sit with an Italian Soda and remember our silly conversations about boys and who was caught making out with who. We didn’t have a clue about what love really was back then but we sure understood heartbreak and unrequited feelings.

Today, I love being able to see who ended up with who and the families they created. I have been pleasantly surprised by some of them and others, not so much. What I wouldn’t do to hear about how some of those stories played out. Facebook has been great for seeing what people are up to these days. I would like to meet up with some of those people that I didn’t keep up my childhood friendships with but I think that the time for those relationships is long gone.

About a year ago, one of those childhood friends reached out to me in a Facebook message. She said some kind words about what she thinks of what I have been doing with my life. I really appreciated those words and it made me think of all the things I would like to say to all the people I lost touch with. I recently reached out to one of those people to tell him how proud I am of him and what he’s done with his life. I wasn’t sure if he would be receptive to my message but he surprised me by returning the sentiments.

I look at all of these people who I didn’t always get along with as a teen and I can’t help but be proud of all of them. From the ones who started their own businesses, To the ones who work long days in remote places, to the ones in the energy industry, to the ones who became teachers and researchers, to the ones who thrived in professional sports, to the ones who dedicate themselves to raising their children, to those who follow their dreams and travel around the world. I honestly wish them all the best as they strive to make a life for themselves wherever they are now and hope that they look back on our shared childhood in the hometown we grew up in with as much fondness as I do.

~Clara

#ThrowbackThursday on Spotify

I am having a serious case of nostalgia listening to today’s #ThrowbackThursday on Spotify. All of the songs on the list today are from the late 90’s and my teenage years. Like I wasn’t having enough of that by reconnecting to old high school classmates in the last few weeks, now I have the playlist to my teens to go with it.

I can remember some of these songs playing in the gym during class and lunch hour while my friends and I sat up on the bleachers.

~Clara

Poetry

Have you ever read poetry for the sake of just reading it and not because someone told you that you had to? Most of my experience with poetry is that of English literary classes in high school and university. The teachers and professors had us read the poems and then they told us what the poem was about and what she should learn from it. This style of teaching always left me with a bad taste in my mouth regarding poetry. I didn’t like someone telling me what I was supposed to get from the poem, I wanted to have my own experience with it. It’s the same with music, movies, and novels.

As the years have gone by and I have my a personal study of songs and lyrics, I have learned one very important lesson about poetry as a result. It doesn’t matter what other people think the meaning of the poem is, all that really matters is what you get from it. I read a great line from a musician that I admire and it was that once songs are created, they no longer belong to the artist; they belong to the world. Songs, like poems, take on a life of their own once they are written down.

There’s a lot of great poetry in our world that has been mostly forgotten about. Poetry to me is the highest form of expression and something that I struggle to create on my own. I know all the literary tricks you can use to create a good poem but I lack the discipline to make it happen. Poetry would be the last thing I would ever share publically because to me, it’s incredibly personal. I don’t write poetry for others, I write it for me. I suppose that if I were to write a poem for someone else, I would share it with them and hope that they understand the barest of its meaning to me.

We all have a language of our own that means something to only us. Words carry weight to us depending on our experience with them. Take the most complicated word in the English language, love. This word inspires all of the emotions that we are capable of. It’s a simple word but it carries so much meaning behind it. Other words like lust, hate, and fear can all be associated with it but love transcends all of them for that deeper meaning of connection between people. We all know what love means to us and yet all of us have a different opinion on what that meaning is.

There’s a poet on Instagram that I follow named Atticus. He writes simple poems, often about love. The medium of Instagram is good for short poems like the ones he writes. If you read them as a long collection, you might see a longer story of love, loss, and redemption. Each poem is a little snapshot of life in a single post. There’s no real need to make a longer discussion about each one since it is just a snippet of emotion, here now, gone in a flash. He uses not only words to convey emotion but also font and photography.

'Break' #atticuspoetry #atticus #poetry #poem #loveherwild #break #heart

A post shared by ATTICUS (@atticuspoetry) on

I have grown a special appreciation for the use of font in visual style for language.

Even if it is the difference between bold and italic:

Love

Love

The difference in fonts creates a different feel of expressions. Bold is harder and stands out while italic is softer and subtle. These are just two examples of font but there are hundreds of different fonts out there and each of them has its own emotion or meaning to express.

I am in the process of finding new poetry to read and contemplate. If you have any suggestions for poems or poets that you should like to share with me, I would love to read them. Please comment with your favorites.

~Clara

For the Love of a Good Book

autum-fall-indie-hipster-books-leafs-autumn-leaves-reading-cute-bootsReading has always been an escape for me. I can remember summer vacations where I would spend all day on the beach reading my newest obsession. I eat through books in just a few days. I don’t tend to re-read books as I feel like there’s just so many out there that I can’t get to them all.

I have actually started writing down the books that I want to finish reading in my lifetime. The books on these lists are more classical. While I love modern science fiction and fantasy, I have been drawn to the more classical literature lately. On the top of my reading list is “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell. I have been drawn to American Historical fiction for a while now, ever since the first time I read “Tom Sawyer” in elementary school. There’s something romantic about reading about an era that long since been forgotten.

I enjoy reading both physical and digital books. Reading on my tablet, allows me to leave notes as I come across them in the book and I tend to read faster but there’s something about the feel of the pages in a real book that makes me feel cozy and nostalgic. As the days grow darker sooner, my desire to cuddle up in a blanket on my couch with a cup of hot apple cider and a book get’s stronger. There’s something magical about following a set of characters as they grow and change throughout a book.

Literature is one of the ways that humans can express their thoughts, desires, and passions. It’s also one of the best ways to find common ground between people. Language allows us to share our culture with each other. Stories are how we can share our life experiences with each other. I think it’s why I enjoy writing blogs so much. It’s my way of sharing my life with others in a way that’s relatable. I don’t know if I will ever write a book or get published but writing a blog is a way for me to share my love of the written word that’s affordable for everyone. The only thing is costs me is time and energy.

I have a reading list that you can check out here. It’s filled with books and authors that I have always wanted to read. I will be updating this page as I finish up the books. I hope to also do a little write up on the ones I finish so that you can see what I learned from them.

I am also always on the lookout for other books and poems to read, if you have any suggestions for me, please post them in the comments below.

~Clara

A Change in the Air

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Have you felt it yet, the cool crisp change in the air at night? Here in Kelowna, BC, Canada, our mornings are starting to feel a little cooler, the first yellow leaves are starting to fall, and the squash are finally ripening. All of these things signal that Autumn is almost here.

September is the start to the harvest season in the valley, we have a rich harvest of apples, pears, grapes, and tree nuts. I cannot wait to be able to enjoy the walnuts from the tree in my front yard. My dad took a few of those nuts and has started growing them in at my family home.

Fall marks the time of the year when I am starting to ready my yard for the winter, when my inner squirrel takes over and stores food, and my desire to start knitting kicks into full gear. I have enjoyed a summer filled with travelling, visits with family, and weddings. I am ready for a relaxing fall filled with lazy walks with my pumpkin spiced latte (yeah, I love those drinks) and my dog in cute sweaters.

As much as I am anticipating the gifts of Autumn, it is still warm out during the day here. I can see the week cooling off but it’s still nice out. The smoke from the fires is starting to fade and the air is breathable again. I think one of the reasons this summer has gone by so quickly is because I had to hide inside so much of it. I used those evenings to go take yoga classes, take my dog to the dog park, hanging out on my patio, and reading some novels that I have always wanted to.

I have also been hanging out with friends, having dinners, and just catching up. I was really happy to be able to see most of my friends this summer at weddings and gatherings. I have missed being with them. Our lives have been taking totally different directions and it’s only natural that we don’t see one another as often as we would like. We actually have to schedule in events so that we do see one another or else the time just gets away on us.

A couple weeks back, one of my friends moved away because he got a teaching job in another town that’s four hours away. He and his family will be leaving our little group. He’s just one in many who had to leave because work took them elsewhere. This is how things go and we were so lucky to have had the times we all did. I don’t think this is goodbye forever, I think we will see them for visits in the future but our time will always be short.

Time is a funny thing, when you are young, you think you have all the time in the world and when you are older, you don’t think you have enough of it. While we may all live to be in our eighties, some of us won’t and that makes this time in our younger years all that more important. When we are sitting in our old age homes, thinking back on our thirties, I hope we all have good memories to reflect back on. We can think about all those games we played, those times drinking at parties, having philosophical conversations, solving the world’s problems, and words of encouragement.

Change is in the air for sure but there’s still lots of warm weather left to enjoy. While I might not be going swimming, the trails are still there. I have not been hiking much since May since it’s been too dangerous but my favorite trail is open again. I will have to strap on my boots this weekend and take a walk along familiar trails and enjoy the reward of a good hike as I sit on the top of the mountain.

~Clara