What Do You Do When Your Lover Hates Your Art?

What Do You Do When Your Lover Hates Your Art?

So I have this problem.  Not really a problem, it’s just…I guess…a bummer.

My girlfriend doesn’t like the new song I’ve been working on.

This tune has been milling around in my head for the past few weeks.  I stumbled on a melody that I enjoyed, sang it all day in the car, and got the gumption to wrap a song around it and record it.

And now I can’t stop listening to it!  But there are a couple of things I need to address before actually releasing it, which include re-recording the lead vocal.

Many who have given me feedback on my music say “John, your stuff is really good, but sometimes your lead vocal seems forced,” or “it seems like you’re trying to hit all the notes,” or “it feels like you’re concerned with being perfect instead of just singing.”

Those are tough pills to swallow, because I don’t really know when my vocal is done until someone else tells me it is.  Being that I produce my work myself, I have no way of knowing if my work is truly done.

And how do I know when it’s actually good??

Yes, I want to hit all of the notes, but I also understand that feeling and emotion can sometimes get lost in the process of striving for perfection.

I’m at a point where I don’t know whether my vocal is good, or what I should even do with the tune — my queen doesn’t like the song, and her opinion matters to me.

According to her, I should not release the song under my own name, or I should try to sell it to another artist.  She says she hates my new song for the same reasons that I don’t like Sia’s music.  And a huge part of the reason I don’t like Sia’s music is because I have learned how today’s hit songs get made…

I just finished reading a book two weeks ago called The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook.  The book explains that the majority of major label producers and writers today utilize a method Seabrook calls “track-and-hook” — a (hopefully) compelling music bed is created and vocal melodies and hooks are paired to match, or vice-versa.  There are teams of writers who work on songs together, trying to add the best beats, melodies, and “top lines” (the vocal hooks that are the most memorable).

The most successful top-liners generally sing the lead vocal on the demo versions of the songs they are attempting to sell to a recording artist.  In many cases, their performance is, in fact, better than that of the artist who ultimately records and releases the song.  But, these top-liners are kept in their place by the powers that be in the music industry (not pretty enough, skinny enough, buff enough, young enough, and on and on and on).

And then all of a sudden, came Sia, swinging from her chandelier.

Sia cut her teeth in Australia, but her bands failed to break through to the mainstream.  So she moved to NYC and became a top-liner, crafting hits for today’s biggest stars before creating her worldwide solo success.  Her writing credits include “Pretty Hurts” for Beyoncé, “Perfume” for Britney Spears, “Boy Problems” for Carly Rae Jepsen, and “Double Rainbow” for Katy Perry.  She’s fantastically talented, has a gift with words, and her voice is powerful.

I hear potential in Sia’s work in the same fashion as I did Lady Gaga’s music when I first heard it.  I thought, “Okay, you’re obviously talented.  And now that you’ve hooked everyone with your catchy pop stuff, the next album had better be the real deal.”

The issue I have with Sia is that, to me, her music sounds like a bunch of top-lined demos, waiting to find an artist to re-record them.  Much of the time it sounds like she’s mumbling words so the artist can put their own inflection on them later, or pretending to sound like Rihanna…which is incredibly ironic, since Rihanna probably had to figure out how to sound like Sia when she recorded “Diamonds”, since Sia wrote it!

One successful top-liner has a particular way of working: she goes into a recording studio and listens to several beats and music beds pre-produced for the session by the rest of the writing and production team; once she hears something that moves her, she enter the vocal booth and makes noises along with the music, trying to find the right emotional impact; then, after the basic pattern and melody are established, she improvises different lyrics on the spot, or reads from her notes of one-liners and couplets, trying to find The One.

This top-liner’s name is Ester Dean.  You may have heard of some of her songs: Ciara’s “Drop It Low”; Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”, “Only Girl (In the World)”, “What’s My Name”, and “S&M”; Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” and “Turn Me On”; and “Firework” for Katy Perry.

They figured out the formula.  They figured out how to craft a song in such a way that after repeat listens, you actually like it.  At first you may hate it, but after you hear it a bunch of times, you may like it.

Then again, the opposite is true in the case of my queen and my newest song.

When the person who loves you the most and supports you in your endeavors doesn’t like the work you’re doing, does that mean you shouldn’t share it with the rest of the world??

Frankly, I feel as though I need to release it, simply because she hates it.  I’m not sure about you, but I hate most pop music that comes out.

But they keep playing it, and people keep streaming it.  Some people — not nearly as many as who stream it, but some people — keep buying it.  And both go to the concerts.

So if I hate most of the songs on the radio, but they’re incredibly popular with millions of others…and if there are many unsung heroes behind the scenes, writing songs, and creating today’s hits…why can’t I follow my muse from time to time and create a pure pop song for the sheer enjoyment of it??

No, this particular tune doesn’t have a whole lot of substance to it.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of depth and meaning.  But why is that a problem, considering that most of the songs I’ve written throughout my 20+ years of songwriting do have depth and meaning?  Why is it a problem for me to make one pure pop song?

Hell, maybe I’ll make ten more!  Do ten pure pop songs outweigh the value (or take away from the value) of the hundreds of other songs in my songwriting catalog which have depth and meaning, and interesting chord changes, and intricate melodies, and multiple vocal harmonies, and an orchestra’s worth of tracks and instruments??

Sometimes it’s okay to just like a pure and simple pop song.

Unless of course, you’re a rock and roller, in which case you may be called a faggot or a sellout for liking something that doesn’t fit the mold of what’s “acceptable” in the rock scene.  A scene which rails against the use of computers and digital technology in the creation of music.

Maybe the reason I’m so fearful to create and release a pure pop song is…I fear that it will alienate people who enjoy my other music.  I don’t want that to happen.  I want to be able to create music whenever I want, based on the inspiration I get from my muse.

And my muse speaks to me randomly.  It happens all the time.  It doesn’t even have to relate to music.  It could be an interaction with a person, a news article I read online, a book I am reading or have read, a movie; it could be anything.

For example, the sound of an ambulance siren in Budapest, Hungary that I heard as I was strolling through the city on a day off while on tour last year.  Noticing the rhythm and the melody, I immediately opened up my voice memo app and captured them, so that when I got somewhere I could create music again, I could take that sound I heard and put it in a song, or rearrange it.

Or whatever I want, because while there are some rules when it comes to making music, there really are no rules when it comes to making music.  No limits.

That’s how the world works for me: anything and everything can be an inspiration to create.  So I’m not making this pure pop song as a way of selling out (or buying in).  I’m not making it so that I can get clicks and likes and shares all that stuff.  Those things are nice, but I would like to believe that they are a byproduct of making quality art.

But “quality art” is subjective, and the subject of this particular song is about going out to the club with your friends, catching a stranger’s glance from across the dance floor, and falling in love at first sight.  Can’t get more cliché than that, can you??

(“You’re going to be 35 next week.  When have your friends ever picked you up to go to the club??” my lady says.)

AND, the song only has four chords — D, E, F# minor, and A; and they cycle over and over for the entire song.  The chord progression does not change, and yet the song builds and builds, as do most of my songs.

(“You say Sia’s songs are the same thing over and over, but so is this song.  Don’t be a hypocrite.” she elaborates.)

With my music, I try to take you somewhere.  I try to transport you through time, over the course of a few minutes, and escort you on a journey.  Music is the only art form that can do that.

Visual art, as stunning and amazing as it can be…once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.  You see a tattoo or you see a painting, and you’ve seen it.  It’s over.  But a piece of music, it takes time to unfold.  You have to sit there — have to pay attention — if you really want to get the depth and meaning.

Or don’t.  Either way’s fine.  Some music is just there for background noise.  Many artists even pride themselves on being essentially background noise for the party.

Most of my songs, I don’t want them to just be background noise.  I want them to be the songs that you spin when times are tough, to remind you to keep going, to persevere, to never give up, and to believe in yourself and believe in your dreams and achieve something.

But this particular song, the purest pop song I’ve ever written, is simply ear candy.  It may get stuck in your head, because the melody is memorable and you can sing it and sing it and sing it, and not get bored with it.

I speak from experience: though the song hasn’t yet spent a month in the universe, it’s one of those that I can’t stop singing.  It is physically gratifying to me to sing this melody and the words the way they are.  It feels good on my tongue, in my throat, in my chest, and in my stomach when I vocalize the sounds which make up the words and melody for this tune.

So I’m going to recut the vocal.  I’m going to mix this song, and I’m going to do it as quickly as possible and get it on Spotify.  Because I think that there are going to be a lot more people that simply enjoy the song for what it is, rather than hate it for what it is.

Because what is it at the end of the day?  It’s just a song.  Just another song out there in the ether.

But it could become a party anthem.  It may make you sing.  It could be a song that gets the club jumping.  It could be a song that makes two strangers fall in love and become best friends.  Who knows?  Maybe it’ll just lead to a couple of one-night stands or random hook-ups.

Understand: if it affects you — if it causes a reaction — it’s done its job.

This song moved my girlfriend to hate it and call me a hypocrite.  I wonder what everyone else is going to think of it…

But first I have to sing it again, better than last time.

P.S. My new album has finally been mastered, and is currently being prepared for release on Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, Tidal, BandCamp, and iTunes.  It’s all happening. 🙂

Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Join the fan club: Become a Bullfighter

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2018 John Kay, All rights reserved.


My First Negative Review

I woke up sick as a dog this morning, and had the following message waiting for me in my inbox…

“so, here I go finally…

“I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t like your solo material and I believe it has nothing to do with me being narrow-minded (at least I wouldn’t describe myself like this)…

“what I hear is a professionally recorded and produced material without soul. please don’t get me wrong (I might be wrong and this won’t be the first time) but I got the impression that you wanted to please everyone… the sound is right, the words are right, but the magic is just not happening…

“one expression comes to my mind: comfort zone

“hope you don’t get this wrong! (and who am I to judge anyway?) talk later, take care…”


To which I responded…


You are literally the only person who has told me that they didn’t like *any* of my solo material out of the nearly 300 people with whom I’ve been corresponding over the past two months.

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to get back to me with a negative review. My thought is that others may feel the same as you, but are too “nice” and don’t want to hurt my feelings or something.

Do I think you’re wrong?? Hell no. The truth about my music is that whatever it is to you, it is to YOU. I tell people all the time: music is like wine — if you like it, it’s good. You just don’t prefer this bottle of wine, and that’s cool.

As far as the material being professionally recorded and produced, you’re damn right: I performed 99% of the parts, and engineered and recorded the album myself. I paid thousands of dollars for a major-label mixer to mix the tunes, and they’ll be mastered by the guy who did Nirvana’s “Nevermind”. So, yeah, it’s gonna be professionally produced, as will any music I release publicly.

Pleasing everyone? You’re right again. I’m a people-pleaser, but I’ve been training myself to follow my instincts more and not worry as much about what others think.

Regarding soul, I have to agree with you, in part; I believe my vocal performances could have been better in many respects. I’ve been getting lots of great feedback about my voice, but there have been some folks who like the music and say that they felt my vocal was a little hesitant.

Plus, the songs aren’t mastered yet, so it’s tough to assess their overall impact. I’m confident that some additional mojo will rise out of the work once it is truly finished.

“Comfort zone”? That one perplexes me because, frankly, these were some of the most uncomfortable songs I’ve ever recorded…

My experiences making music up until recently were completely informed by rock and roll of some type (punk, metal, etc.). The thing is, I’m interested in, and informed and shaped by, many many different genres. My songwriting is all over the place. Rather than viewing my album as simply a collection of different songs that say “Look what I can do!”, I see it as a representation of my musical diversity. I have a large palette of colors, and I enjoy painting with all of them.

And lyrically speaking, these songs have some of the most honest, deep, and personal content I’ve ever written. It’s about my life and the people I’ve known and been connected to. Just putting the words on paper took a certain amount of courage; to sing them into a microphone, more; and to give them away in an unfinished state for people to criticize, the most.

I really appreciate you getting back to me with a negative review. I know that everyone isn’t going to like my music, and I’m fine with that. I just want to know why.

Thanks again!

If you’re interested in hearing my album to judge for yourself, send your email address to [blog] [at] [therealjohnkay] [dot][com] and I will hook you up.

P.S. These songs were all recorded in 2012, and since then I have made a point to really focus on my vocal performance and let my “true voice” come through.  A better example of where I’m at now is my most recent song, “No More”.

Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Join the fan club: Become a Bullfighter

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2018 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Welcome back

Wow.  Almost a year since I’ve written on here.  2014 was a whirlwind touring with Koffin Kats; long tours, Europe, met some amazing people, ate and drank well, learned lots, made new friends, played great music, saw many smiles, had tons of laughs.  Being in the band is a real treat, and I’m really looking forward to our plans for 2015.

I’ll get back to updating more often.  I’ve been kind of slacking in that department, and it’s just because I haven’t made time for it.  That changes.  My plan from here on out is to update once a week.  Updates may be short, or they could be long, insightful and on point, or rambling and the product of inebriation.  Either way, I’ll be after it regularly.  It’s important that we talk.

Things are popping here at home while Koffin Kats take a break to work on new material (and for Eric to get hitched; congratulations!).  The boys are working on shirts and patches, and I’m currently beginning production on a new EP, which will be available as soon as possible.  I’ve already got a couple tunes you can download, and the ones I’m working on now will be up when they’re ready.  Also, I’m getting geared up for the upcoming tour with Reverend Horton Heat in April, and Easter in Las Vegas should be awesome.

More to come later, but for now I’m just here to say “I’m here.”  Talk soon.


P.S. I plan to have my full-length solo album mastered within the next couple of months.  Details on that soon, and you can download the first track from the album here.

Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Join the fan club: Become a Bullfighter

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2018 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Koffin Kats March 2014 Tour — Update #3 (Austin, Laredo, Harlingen, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Springfield, Grand Rapids)

Hey-o! Here’s the final update from the road on our two-week March tour, and our one-off show with Mustard Plug this past weekend!

After being treated to a delicious bacon and eggs breakfast in Beaumont, Texas (thanks, Alicia!), we hit the highway to Austin, Texas. Once we got through the crazy rush hour traffic in downtown Austin, we pulled up to the night’s venue, The Lost Well.

Just another manic(ure) Monday.  On the way to Austin, TX.
Just another manic(ure) Monday. On the way to Austin, TX.

The Lost Well is another DIY rock and roll venue with a relatively small stage (not as small as the stage in Laredo, Texas, but we’ll get to that soon). Vic and I set up our rigs, and then I immediately got to work changing Angel’s strings and cleaning off the residue of sweat and beer that inevitably ends up getting on her. Strings tuned and stretched, I helped myself to some of the wonderful homemade lasagna provided for us.

Our show that night had a really good turnout and crowd response, especially considering Austin had just hosted their annual South By Southwest festival; it was a Monday night; and it was St. Patrick’s Day. The audience included several longtime friends and fans of The Koffin Kats, who warmed up to me quickly and had much positive feedback. Post show, we went to our friend Alyssa’s house and hung out for a bit, smoking and drinking. Soon enough, my tiredness hit me and I retired to the bus for a good sleep.

Morning came sooner than expected (time flies when you’re having fun), and after brushing my teeth we left Alyssa’s to get to a local Ford dealership where our buddy Steve from the band Klax works. Steve is a gearhead, and really knows his way around diesel engines, so we tapped him to help us work out a couple kinks with our bus. While the bus was being worked on, we went to grab a bite to eat at Logan’s Roadhouse, then walked around Cabela’s for a bit. We had more time to kill while the bus was in the shop, so we hit up Wal-Mart and Vic purchased a Panama hat for the outdoor work he’ll be doing this spring/summer.

Ready for sunny weather in Austin, TX.
Ready for sunny weather in Austin, TX.

Eric and I treated ourselves to milkshakes at Sonic, and we walked back to the dealership to scoop us the bus and travel to Laredo, Texas. Vic drove us the whole way to Laredo, since Eric and I were passed out having sugar dreams. Our arrival at the venue, On The Rocks, was a bit early, so we spent a little time walking around town, eventually stopping to look across the Rio Grande and the border into Mexico. Back at the venue, the opening band (Scarecrow) was chilling outside, and we all sat around and chatted for a bit about band dealings and music stuff.

On The Rocks is a narrow venue, with a stage so small it required Vic and I to set up our rigs directly in front of Eric’s drum kit. In fact, there wasn’t enough room to store our gear inside the venue, so while Scarecrow was playing we staged our stuff outside on the sidewalk. Once on stage, Vic and I each had about a 3’x2’ area in which to perform, but we made the most of it. The crowd was incredibly responsive, and the fans made their appreciation known throughout the night. They were truly grateful for us coming to Laredo, and encouraged us to not only come back, but to book shows in Mexico, too. Someday!

We had hotel rooms that night in Laredo at a local Motel 6. That’s right; I said r-o-o-m-s, plural. Each of us had our own hotel room in which to sleep and do whatever dudes do when they’re alone in a hotel room. It was refreshing to sleep in a bed, even though the bed was a little stiff.

I feel like Motel 6’s amenities are a direct reflection of the nonchalance in the voice of their spokesman in their commercials; everything was just annoying enough to not be too annoying, but noticeable: the bed was a little stiff, but not too stiff; the towels were slightly scratchy, but not so scratchy that you couldn’t use them; the TV was small, but not so small you couldn’t enjoy it; the bedding was thin, but not so thin you couldn’t keep warm. Then again, we were in a Motel 6 in Laredo, Texas. (In other news, I’m really good at using colons and semicolons.)

After a morning shower, we left for Harlingen, Texas. Seriously, I had to ask the boys “What did we do between leaving Laredo and arriving in Harlingen?” It turns out all we did was drive and take naps. Fine by me! We got to the Harlingen venue, The Hop Shop, with plenty of time to spare, so we…took another nap. God, we’re old.

The Hop Shop in Harlingen, TX.
The Hop Shop in Harlingen, TX.

Loaded in, The Hop Shop treated us to barbecued chicken and ribs, which were great. Full of protein, we greeted the fans and friends who were filling the venue quickly. We took the stage (read: the floor), and the crowd went nuts. Fans were jostling for a better view, since we were slightly obscured by a half wall, and people were knocking into each other and having a blast. They even coerced us into two encores!

Who are you calling "chicken"???
Who are you calling “chicken”???

Once we departed The Hop Shop, we drove to Corpus Christi and parked at another Wal-Mart to catch some Zzzz. Up and at ‘em the next day, we made the short trek to San Antonio and parked outside the venue, Korova. Our buddy John met up with us and treated us to lunch at Bill Miller BBQ. The food was delicious, and we were quite grateful. Lunch consumed, we went for a walk around downtown San Antonio, stopping for ice cream and cigars along the way. We went to the Alamo and strolled along the riverwalk, which was very pleasant. I remarked to the boys that I felt like I was on vacation; the weather was perfect, and the scenery was lovely. We returned to the bus and, you guessed it, took another old man nap.

Got 'em.  Smokin' 'em.  In San Antonio, TX.  Post-lunch.  Pre-nap.
Got ’em. Smokin’ ’em. In San Antonio, TX. Post-lunch. Pre-nap.

That’s really been our routine on this tour: wake up, breakfast, gym, drive/nap, lunch, walk around with an ice cream or milkshake, nap, load in, set up/change strings, hang out at the merch table, perform, hang out at the merch table, tear down, load out, drive to where we’re staying, sleep; rinse, repeat. I’ve loved every minute of it!


We loaded in, and after setting up my rig I immediately went to work changing strings on both Angel and McFly, my blue sparkle Sensei from Reverend Guitars. Strings changed and stretched, I moseyed to the merch table and hung out, meeting and greeting friends and fans. I even autographed the skin of several people in order for them to turn my signature into tattoos. I sure hope they know what “permanent” means! I’ve never been asked to do that before, and it’s proving to be less rare than I would imagine. Koffin Kats fans are awesome, and I’m honored that someone would want my name on their body, especially since we’re not dating. Ha!

The crowd at Korova in San Antonio, TX.
The crowd at Korova in San Antonio, TX.

The crowd at Korova was fantastic, all up at the front of the stage and eager for the show. The stage was, in my opinion, the perfect size for the show we like to put on, and I was able to engage with the audience much more than at previous shows. This was the first show at which I felt brave enough to take my shirt off and perform, and did so later in the set to much appreciation from the females in the audience — I see you, ladies! 😉 We came back on stage and did a two-song encore of “A Darker Place” and “Needles and Blades,” then we were mobbed at the merch table for pictures and autographs.

The last of the friends and fans left after the venue had closed, and we packed up and headed to our friend Luis’s house. Luis and his wife had an amazing spread of food waiting for us, including this phenomenal macaroni and cheese with bacon and chicken. It was some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. We stayed up for a bit, drinking and chatting, then passed out in our respective areas.

Looks like our bus stole the show in San Antonio, TX.
Looks like our bus stole the show in San Antonio, TX.

The next morning, we were fed breakfast and a cinnamon cheesecake concoction that made us all feel nice and full, ready for the drive ahead. Before breakfast, Vic took some time to make some adjustments to the pedalboard enclosure he built for me. Now I can see the digital readout without having to crouch down and look inside the enclosure, which makes for a much smoother transition between songs. Breakfast finished, we departed the company of Luis and his family, and made for the nearest Buc-ee’s so Eric could buy us some beef jerky for the road.

Breakfast with friends in San Antonio, TX.
Breakfast with friends in San Antonio, TX.

Our destination was Fort Worth, Texas. We arrived a couple of hours early and walked around town, stopping at a liquor store where we purchased a bottle of Herman Marshall pure Texas bourbon. The distiller was at the store offering samples, and this whiskey was quite smooth and flavorful. We ate at Freebirds World Burrito, and I made sure their restroom felt my wrath on two occasions within two hours.

On the road to Fort Worth, Texas. Eric is making full use of his degree from Nap So Hard University.
On the road to Fort Worth, Texas. Eric is making full use of his degree from Nap So Hard University.

We loaded in at Lola’s and hung out at the merch table, like we do. The place filled up very quickly, and there was hardly room to move inside the venue, even during the opening bands, which is awesome. While the first acts were performing, I was able to meet a bunch of friends of the band, all nice people. We chatted and got to know one another for a bit, and then it was time to play. The crowd was incredibly energetic and moved throughout the entire set. Ladies in the front row were begging me to take my shirt off, and I obliged.

You know, a good, smelly saloon . . . is my favorite place in the world.
You know, a good, smelly saloon . . . is my favorite place in the world.

The performance at Lola’s was one of the strongest we had during this tour. Vic came up to me after the show, shook my hand and told me, “You’re owning it.” I was speechless and grateful. After we packed up our gear, we went to an IHOP to eat some food with Fort Worth friends before heading out on the road for the eight-hour drive to Springfield, Missouri.

Lola's was ready.
Lola’s was ready.


After parking at the venue (Outland Ballroom), we trekked to a local market for a healthy late lunch. Once lunch was finished, we went to the bus and took a short nap before loading in. Load-in at Outland Ballroom is somewhat painstaking; all gear needs to be brought up a long, steep ramp, which leads to the rear of the venue. We set up and had an awesome sound check. (I could actually hear my guitar while playing!)

Honoring Grandpa by wearing his hat and chewing on a toothpick in Springfield, MO.
Honoring Grandpa by wearing his hat and chewing on a toothpick in Springfield, MO.

This show was a fitting end to my first tour as guitarist for Koffin Kats: We were on a big stage with a great sound system and solid engineer, we had our buddies Brutally Frank (Joplin, Missouri) and Gutter Ghouls (Detroit, Michigan) opening the show for us, and many longtime fans and friends of the band were in attendance. The crowd was highly engaged, and women were grabbing at my junk every time I made my way to the front of the stage (I am NOT a piece of meat, ladies! :-D).

If this van's a rockin' . . . it's just Ballman getting more merch out of the trailer.  In Springfield, MO.
If this van’s a rockin’ . . . it’s just Ballman getting more merch out of the trailer. In Springfield, MO.

When the last of our friends and fans had left and with the trailer packed, we began the long drive home to Detroit. We got home in the middle of the afternoon, and I immediately set to work preparing Stu Stu Studio for my clients’ arrival that evening. The following week would be filled with ten-hour recording sessions and sleeping.

Almost home.
Almost home.

This past Saturday, we played with our buddies Mustard Plug at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The venue layout is awesome, and it has a wonderful sound system. We loaded in while the sun was still shining then walked to a local dive bar for dinner. Upon returning to the venue, I changed Angel’s strings and hung out with our people.

This was the first opportunity that my girlfriend Jackie, Vic’s girlfriend Liz, and Eric’s brother Michael had to see me perform. They each were very complimentary toward me, and even though the damned clip on my guitar’s wireless transmitter broke halfway through the show (!!!), it was a successful night.

The Red Queen and I at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, MI.
The Red Queen and me at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, MI.

After we finished at the venue, Jackie and I went to a late night coffee shop before boarding the Megabus to Chicago, where I write this now.  I’m working on learning all of the old material so we can add more old songs to the set if we want.

Study materials.
Study materials.

When the band first approached me about playing guitar for the group, I was fearful that my skill set wasn’t at the level necessary, and doubtful of my ability to play the lead solos accurately and smoothly. I busted my ass for days practicing the songs and solos over and over and over, building calluses and developing muscle memory. Though I still have a flub here and there, I feel extremely comfortable in my new role, and I absolutely love performing with Vic and Eric. Our vibe is great, and everyone is telling us that I fit right in with the band. This opportunity has dramatically changed my life for the better, and I am so thankful to have been chosen for this position.

I also want to thank those of you who read these posts and follow the band in everything we do. To those of you whom I’ve met, I look forward to seeing you the next time we’re in your area. To those of you whom I’ve yet to meet, don’t be shy; I’m quite approachable, and though I may occasionally forget your name, I appreciate you and your support for the group. You are why I get up on stage every night.

I just can’t wait to get on the road again . . .



Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Join the fan club: Become a Bullfighter

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
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Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2018 John Kay, All rights reserved.

It’s All About the Songs: New Year, New Journey, pt. 3

It’s all about these songs . . .

Outside of being temporarily distracted by an 8-year career in retail sales management, my life’s entire focus has been on creating and performing original music.

Someday, Mom . . .

Brief background: Natural inclinations drew me toward the drums before the age of 2.  In 5th grade I formed my first rock band, while also playing in every school band from elementary through high school which featured drums of any kind; orchestra, marching, jazz, musicals, etc.  My various bands over the years have been performing publicly since I was 13, and have recorded and released several full-length albums and EPs over the last 20 years, including many of my original songs.

In 2005, I built a makeshift recording studio in my basement in an attempt to record my original music.  I was able to record several demos of my songs, and subsequently discovered a passion for producing and audio engineering over the course of a few years.  I decided to leave my cushy and safe retail management job, move to Arizona and attend The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences to truly learn the craft of audio engineering and music production.  After graduating from CRAS and returning home to Detroit, I set up my studio and began my career as a freelance producer/engineer.

Studio portrait
Welcome to Stu Stu Studio. Would you like a fresh pot of coffee??

In Fall 2011, when browsing in the Music section of a bookstore, I discovered a book called Zen and the Art of Mixing; the author — a major-label record producer and mixing engineer — uses the psuedonym “Mixerman.”  Upon reading the first few pages of the book, I felt as though it was written specifically for me.  Regarding music production and studio clientele, not only did it reinforce and validate several beliefs of mine which I had previously doubted, it answered my burning questions about the mixing process and how to achieve the best possible production.  I affectionately refer to the book for guidance and to refresh my mind when mixing for myself or my clients — I even answer some of my clients’ questions by going over to the shelf, grabbing the book and reading a passage!

The overall message of the book: it’s all about the songs.

The book that changed my music — and my clients’ music — for the better.

Recently, Mixerman posted on his Facebook page, saying he had time to mix a project, and that someone should definitely contact him.  For the past 7 months I’ve been writing, recording, and making rough mixes of the songs that will comprise my first album as a solo artist.  (Click these links to read about the earlier parts of this journey: Part I, Part II.)  Since I happen to have an album to mix, I sent him a message, not knowing what to expect.  We began corresponding online and then via text the next day, resulting in his request for two rough mixes of my songs.  I sent him a medium-tempo softer indie/pop tune, and a flowing track which builds into driving rock.  Forty minutes later, while in a recording session with a client, I received a text from him:

“I love them.  The rocking track is fucking awesome.  Very cool.  Also, it’s obviously well recorded.  So, I’m certainly interested in talking to you about mixing the project.  Call me when you’re done tonight.”

Upon discussing the scope of the songs to be mixed — and my non-existing budget — Mixerman asked me to send him the roughs of every song to be included on the album.  I did so that night and woke up to receive an email from him which included the following:

“Dude. This album is fucking great. I mean, like I love it. You’re a talented motherfucker and on all fronts. I mean, your drum tones are killer. Well done on the recordings on the whole . . .

I was floored and freaked out; simultaneously elated.  Suddenly, I found myself blessed with an amazing opportunity: a major-label mixing engineer is willing to mix my project at an excellent rate — NOW — and assist me in seeing the project through the mastering process and ultimately onto the vinyl I plan to release!!  YIPPIE!!

I’m just — gulp —  thousands of dollars short of the budget.

Gotta start somewhere!

Over the past few days, I’ve sought counsel from family and friends, clients and colleagues, asking their feelings on the subject and how I should proceed.  The response has been unanimous: have him mix my album, whatever it takes.  And, get a Kickstarter.com fund-raising campaign up and running ASAP because . . .

It’s all about the songs.

The lyrics and messages in the songs on this album are those anyone can relate to: dealing with people; loving (and leaving) the city you grew up in; liberation from a cheating lover; acceptance of loss; personal growth; new and rekindled loves; pursuing goals in spite of fear and ridicule; sexy bartenders; enlightenment.

After hosting several private preview sessions in my studio over the past few months (in order to gain critical feedback), listeners have been hard-pressed to choose their least favorite song on my album.  One after another, these songs elicit an emotional response.  Texts and Facebook messages with remarks such as “I can’t get your songs out of my head,” “When can I hear those songs again?” and “Make sure you let me know when you start your Kickstarter campaign!” have been sent to me with regular consistency since the beginning of the year.

I am pleased to announce that my Kickstarter campaign is finally up and running!  Click here to check it out and watch the video!!

I’m incredibly excited for the opportunity to present these songs to everyone in the best possible production.  I believe that the messages contained in these songs are important in our current culture, and need to be heard right now.  With Mixerman’s help, these songs are going to be delivered at the highest possible quality.

Thank you for reading this.  I appreciate you.


Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Join the fan club: Become a Bullfighter

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2018 John Kay, All rights reserved.

Is Your ‘Producer’ Ruining Your Band’s Potential?

Is Your ‘Producer’ Ruining Your Band’s Potential?

“The scene sucks.”

“We need to fix the scene.”

“What’s wrong with the scene?”

If you are involved in a local music community in some way, regardless of your particular city or area, you have probably heard the above phrases and other similar sentiments.  Spoken by your friends in bands, their fans, the people that work in bars and music venues — and perhaps yourself — people are very eager to express their concern and love for “the scene”.

Based on my experiences, the burning question that keeps the people who are truly passionate about their musical craft or their support for independent musicians up at night is: Why?  Why does “the scene suck”?  Why does it need fixing?  What is the cause of the problem?

[NOTE: I personally don’t think anyone’s scene “sucks”.  I’m sure that there are some “suck-y” scenes out there, but more often than not I find that “the scene” is just fine, and it’s actually the lack of true community that really sucks.]

Can anyone, myself included, confidently pinpoint exactly why “the scene sucks”?  Not likely.  Many will claim that they have the answer.  Personally, I think the truth about why “the scene sucks” is more complicated than a one-answer summation, and those who claim to have one are drinking Drano®.

I’m going to attempt to illustrate my belief that a major contributor to why “the scene” suffers — and new/young/up-and-coming bands ultimately fail — is the audio engineer’s decision to manipulate a mediocre or less-than-mediocre band’s recorded performance into a near-perfect production.  In this situation, the band is given a false representation of their actual abilities, and because of this, a distorted perception of the band is created both in the audience’s mind and in the minds of the band members themselves.  When the band is unable to reproduce the performance quality and sound of the final recorded production — sometimes, not even coming close — the audience, other bands and even venues disconnect from the band.

The argument: when a band is recorded and represented accurately, their strengths and weaknesses will be exposed, causing them to either work harder at practicing and do better next time when they go into the studio, or receive negative feedback and quit; either outcome helps “the scene”, because both outcomes tell the truth about that band, their abilities and their true passion for their craft.

With all of this being said, consider the following…

“Let’s make a record!”

Imagine your typical local rock band, consisting of a vocalist, two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer.  They’ve written six songs, and performed at a few shows in and around their home town, mostly for a handful of their friends and family, who support them almost unconditionally.  Based on the feedback from their audience, they decide they want to pay to record their six songs in a professional recording studio.  They go online and look in their city’s weekly magazines for advertisements for a local recording studio.  They call one of the studios listed, and are immediately able to schedule as many days as they think they’ll need with one of the in-house studio engineers.

The band shows up to the studio to record their songs.  While recording, a few realities become immediately apparent:

– The band’s equipment is at the consumer- or “pro-sumer” level.
– The drummer has never learned how to tune drums, and tunes them poorly.
– The drummer has difficulty playing in time and/or to a click track.
– The drummer hits inconsistently during their performance.
– The bassist and drummer do not perform as a proper rhythm section.
– The bassist and guitarists do not know how to properly tune and intonate their guitars.
– The bassist and guitarists have a poor sense of timing.
– The vocalist is unable to perform consistently in time and on pitch.

Let’s say that the engineer continues to record the band, just as they were hired to do.  The engineer endures the poor tuning, lackluster performances, wrong notes, off-timing and pitch issues, and records everything the band needs to complete their six songs, just so long as the band understands they’re paying for it.  Once the band leaves, the engineer begins working on something we affectionately refer to in the audio industry as “polishing a turd”.


“Fix it in the mix!”

Starting with drums, the engineer aligns the drummer’s performance to a grid, making it appear as though the drummer performed perfectly in time, almost like a machine.  Since the drummer’s kit sounded poor, the drums are replaced with pre-recorded drums from different studios around the world, making it appear as though the drummer has a professional, well-tuned drum set.

Moving onto bass and guitars, since they were poorly tuned and intonated — and poorly performed — the engineer uses his studio’s collection of guitars and amplifiers and personally re-records the parts for the band, generally without their advance permission and/or knowledge.  (Believe it or not, this absolutely happens, and occurs commonly.)

When it comes to the vocals, the engineer corrects the timing and pitch of the vocalist where necessary — and at many times, where unnecessary — making it appear as though the vocalist sang “in the pocket” and with near-perfect command of their pitch.

Once the above operations are completed and the mixes of the songs are to the engineer’s liking, the band is invited into the studio to hear their recordings mixed for the first time.

“It’s studio magic!”

Upon hearing playback of the first song, the band can’t believe their ears.

“Wow!  It sounds amazing!!” one of the band members says.  “My drums sound incredible!”  “Man, what did you do to get our guitars to sound so good?”

“Studio magic,” the engineer replies.

The band leaves with their CD in hand, incredibly excited.  They listen to the CD for the whole drive home, as loud as their car — perhaps their parents’ car — will allow before the speakers rupture.  They text their friends and family and tell them how awesome their CD is, and that they can’t wait for everyone to hear it.  They start talking about booking their CD release show, and how much merchandise they’re going to sell.  They talk about touring.

They believe they are going to realize their dreams.

When they get home, they invite their best friends over to listen to the CD, and they are blown away at how great the band sounds.  The band shows other friends and family the CD, and everyone exclaims at how good the CD sounds and what a great job the band did.  Everyone that hears the CD is extremely proud of the band, and champions their new recording to anyone that will listen.

“I can’t wait to play this stuff LIVE!”

The band books their CD release show on a Saturday night at a well-known local venue with other local bands, and engage in promoting the show aggressively.  They sell tickets.  They make events on their social media sites and get several people to click “Attending”.  Local radio stations play their music in the weeks prior to the show based on the strength of the recording.  The buzz for the show grows and grows, and the band is more excited than ever.

The day of the show arrives and the venue is packed.  It’s obvious that the band put in a lot of work to ensure the success of the show.  They bought a banner with their name on it to hang behind the drummer.  They spent money on new t-shirts to have for sale.  They ordered 1,000 CDs, which — unbeknownst to the audience — arrived the morning of the show, just in time.   This is obviously a very important night for them, and they worked as hard as they could to make it successful.

Out of the 200 people in attendance, 100 people showed up to see the band releasing their CD that night.  They heard the CD, and listened to it several times in anticipation of the live performance, even on the way to the show.  The band takes the stage to a roar from the crowd, and begins to perform all of the material from their brand new CD.

Halfway through the first song, it is immediately apparent that something isn’t right…but only to the audience.

– The drummer has difficulty performing in time, speeding up and slowing down.
– The drums themselves sound thin and/or dead.
– The bassist and guitarists have a hard time playing in sync with the drummer.
– The guitarists are out of tune with each other, and possibly their instrument itself.
– The vocalist has timing issues, and the singing sounds “out of key”.

“Dude, that was our best show yet!”

Meanwhile, the band on stage is having the time of their lives.  They were able to get free drinks from the venue before playing, since they had so many people show up to see them, and they’re feeling pretty good as they perform.  Their significant others and friends and family are in the front of the audience, singing every word that they know back to them at the top of their lungs.  The band itself has an amazing energy and excitement level that they’ve never displayed on stage before.  They sell almost 50 CDs.  They believe it is their best show yet.

After the CD release show, they book a string of shows a few weeks apart in order to play out more and sell more CDs.  At the next show they play, they have close to 50 people there to see them.  They don’t mind the drop in attendance because “it’s not as big of an event as a CD release, and anyway, it’s twice as many people as we normally get to come out to a show.”

At the next show, around 30 people attend.  “But it was a weekday, not a Friday or Saturday, so lower attendance is to be expected,” the band believes.  Just under 25 people attend the next show, so the band decides they need another new t-shirt to entice fans to come back out to see them…and they deplete their band fund.  At the next show, on a Saturday night at a venue close to where they and their friends and family live, less than 15 people attend.  The band performs…angrily.

“This scene sucks, man!  It SUCKS!”

The band doesn’t understand what’s happening.  They don’t understand why people aren’t coming out to their shows.  They don’t understand why other bands they’ve played shows with don’t come out to see them or encourage others to check them out and support them.  When they text their friends and family asking if they’ll be at upcoming shows, many of the texts aren’t responded to.  People aren’t “liking” or commenting on their social media posts, and those that do are the ones that were doing so long before the band entered the studio.

The band decides to put a call out to their music community and tells them to “support the scene”.  They talk about venues and how people don’t go out to shows as much because they aren’t allowed to smoke indoors, or because the drinks are too expensive.  They talk about how shows that require bands to sell tickets are a scam, even though they’ve done a ticket show before.  They have band meetings and talk about potentially changing their band’s name, or their logo, and any other things they can think of.

They play some more shows to small audiences, mostly consisting of the same people that supported them before the recording process for their CD began. They still have over 900 CDs in their inventory.  They feel disheartened.  They feel like they wasted their time.  They blame “the scene” and everyone in it who doesn’t come to their shows, buy their merchandise or post about them online.

Ultimately, the band breaks up, and a couple of the members decide to continue on and form a new band.  They write six songs, and perform at a few shows locally, mostly for a handful of their friends and family, who support them almost unconditionally.  Based on the feedback from their audience, they decide they want to pay to record their six songs in a professional recording studio.  Since the last engineer they recorded with made them sound so amazing, they go back to work with them again…

The band shows up to the studio to record their songs.  While recording, a few realities become immediately apparent


“I can’t believe it!”

Most bands and musicians I have the pleasure to know and work with are incredibly passionate.  They sacrifice money, jobs, relationships, possessions, their credit rating and more in order to pursue a dream of a successful, lasting career in the music industry.  In my opinion — and the opinion of comedian, Eddie Izzard — the biggest thing that keeps a band or artist working and sacrificing in order to realize their dream of “making it” is…


Belief is the fire inside the artist’s belly that keeps them focused on the prize, keeps them from giving up, keeps them from listening to the naysayers and forging on toward the greatness they know they will ultimately achieve.

Many musicians acquire their belief in their musical abilities from their parents.  Some get it from other family members or their friends.  Some gravitated toward music naturally on their own, and developed the belief in their abilities over time.  Some have been influenced by all of the above.

I truly feel that at the moment an audio engineer discovers the true nature of the band they will be recording, it is their duty to capture that band’s performance as accurately and professionally as possible, and showcase the band in the best possible light, based on the band’s current skill set; or encourage the band to rehearse more, and offer advice and tips to help them become better musicians and a tighter band.  Either way, the band wins, because they are being told the truth about themselves.

When the audio engineer decides to record a mediocre band knowing that later on everything will be replaced with professionally pre-recorded instruments, re-recorded or “fixed in the mix,” the engineer is doing the band — and the local music community — a huge disservice.

They are creating false beliefs for the band, the band’s audience and anyone else who hears the recording.

“Help!  I’ve been robbed!”

Most people learn how to get better at something from two sources: mistakes and mentors.  For the most part, when people make mistakes they become embarrassed, and they do their best to not repeat the same mistake again.  Mentors help us by pointing out our mistakes constructively — or telling us of the mistakes they have made — in an effort to get us to become better at whatever it is we’re doing.

Q: How did the audio engineer in the story above mentor the band during the recording process?

A: They didn’t; they just took what the band gave them without counsel.

Q: What mistakes were left on the recordings for the band to hear over and over again, embarrassing them into practicing harder at their craft and rehearsing more as a band?

A: None; the mistakes were erased and replaced with the use of technology and the engineer’s knowhow.

Because of this, the band believes that what they recorded is what is on the record, and can’t believe that the reason they are floundering and unable to get people to come to their shows is because of their personal and collective musical and performance abilities, when in fact that is the case in many, many circumstances.

Studies have shown that in order to become a “master” at a particular craft it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice.  To break that down, if a musician practiced their instrument for an hour every single day without fail it would take them over 27 years to become a “master”.

When a mediocre recording is manipulated to near-perfection through the use of the readily available technology, the musicians in the band are being robbed of their 10,000 hours of practice, and consequently being robbed of their ability to become a “master”.

“The truth will set you free, but at first…it may piss you off.”

Audio engineers can do almost anything to perfect and enhance otherwise mediocre performances, thanks to the technological advancements in digital recording and their immediate availability in retail stores and online.  It is up to professional audio engineers with quality standards not to coddle or deceive their clients, but to expose them to the harsh truths about their abilities and their skill set.  Whether that toughens their skin or sends them scurrying away isn’t the engineer’s problem.

While we are able to understand and appreciate that many engineers have bills and expenses related to their studio and their career, and need to generate steady income, does the need for money excuse them from accepting the great responsibility they have to their clients and musical community?  Should a professional audio engineer with extensive knowledge in recording, songwriting, arrangement, mixing and production simply stay silent while recording a poor performance and manipulate it near to perfection while the band is away, ultimately giving them an inaccurate representation of their work, simply because the studio bills have to be paid?

My belief is when audio engineers decide to placate their clients instead of telling them the truth, they impede the  short- and long-term improvement of the skill set of the musicians, and the fallout from that impediment is something that really, truly hurts “the scene”.

I’m trying to assert that the recording engineer is the first/last line of defense in accurately representing a band to the public, and when they just take the band’s money and “polish the turd”, the band (and scene) ultimately suffers.


Thanks for reading.


Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com

Join the fan club: Become a Bullfighter

Website: https://therealjohnkay.com
Music: Spotify Artist Page
Podcast: Get After It w/ John Kay on iTunes
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2018 John Kay, All rights reserved.


Act Like An Ant: How to Get Big Projects Done

There is excitement in the air, and it has been following me for at least two weeks now…

I said I was going to be posting here demos of songs that I have been considering for placement on my debut solo record, and I had full intention of doing so.  However, that plan has changed.

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine stopped by the recording studio to share some of his first batch of home-brewed beer and get my opinion and feedback on it.  (It was delicious!)  We spent the time chatting about his brewing process and life in general, and then cued up some of the songs I had planned on posting here.  I didn’t know the order in which to play them, so I sequenced them in the order I felt may work as a 10-song album.

For those who don’t know me, or have a preconceived notion as to how I perceive my own music, I’m my own worst critic.  I absolutely hate playing my music for other people to listen to while I’m in the same room.  I’d prefer to give them a CD or send them a file to listen to at their convenience and get back to me.  Personally, when an artist is playing their music for me, I feel a pressure — likely self-imposed — to not say anything negative about their work, regardless of its merit.  I mean, when you get down to it, music and all forms of art are generally very personal, and songs are a musician’s creative babies — only the cruel would tell someone they have an ugly baby.

Sometimes it’s even hard for me to listen to the music that I produce myself!  Knowing exactly how it was performed, recorded and captured; how it was edited and mixed; where all of the “mistakes” are, all of these things are in my mind as I listen to a song I’ve created, and I can’t listen past them and appreciate the song.  I always know where I could have done better.  So, I’ll put on a song with the intent to listen to it and discover what needs to be done, get about 30-45 seconds into the tune and turn it off because I feel as though there are so many things that need to be done, and I’ve done so much already.  (“Maybe I should just start over…”)

OR, I’ll be listening to a song and doubt my skills on instruments that aren’t necessarily my forte such as bass, guitar or vocals.  I’ll question my arrangements.  I’ll question my performances, and the way they were captured.  (“Should I re-record this or that part..??”)  I’ll question the advice and wisdom of my musical colleagues.  I’ll question everything, because…there is no excuse to not make whatever you are passionate about as great as it can possibly become.

In light of this, I told my friend “Now, I need you to be perfectly frank about these songs, please.  If you think a song sucks, or something is out of whack, I need you to let me know so I can make it better.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” he replied, “We’re friends.  I know I can tell you the truth, no matter how painful.”

I pressed play, and held my breath.

45 minutes later, my buddy and I sat in silence and looked at each other.  He was just sitting there smiling at me.  I asked what he thought, and he said, “Other than the one thing I mentioned in the last song, and the ones you said still need to be mixed, I wouldn’t change anything!  It’s got a good flow, and I love how your songs just get bigger and bigger!

“The first side starts out chill and relaxed, and still has good, positive energy.  Then the album gets a little darker, but at that point in the album you’re ready for it.  Then you start side two with a cool love song, then that one big, epic track — I love that song!  Then you bring it back down a little bit before the big climax at the end of the album, which is awesome, by the way!  I think the whole thing is great, man!”

Out of some sort of sense of shame, I hadn’t listened to any of the songs the whole way through since I first gave them each a rough mix weeks or even months ago.

I knew the tunes I’d roughed out on my own needed work, and was fearful that upon listening to them that I would want to scrap and rework most of them.  I was lost in sea of songs and lyrics and melodies and choruses and arrangements and ideas.  I had everything there in front of me, and no clue which way to go next.

I needed someone else to sit in the room with me and listen to what I thought would work in order to see if my intuitions were correct.  Best-selling author and management expert Ken Blanchard has famously said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”  Without honest, constructive feedback, you don’t know where your growth opportunities are, and if you’re not growing, you’re dying.  Based on the feedback I’ve received so far, following my intuition seems to be working positively.

But I don’t just go on the word of one person before I move forward with my endeavors.

I have a sort of guideline I follow regarding when to believe the opinion or conjecture of others: if one person says it, they may be full of shit; if two persons who don’t know each other say it, it may be hearsay; if three or more persons say it, it’s the Bible, and I run with it until it’s challenged later, if at all.

So, I had a client and singer-songwriter buddy of mine come over and have the same listening experience as my brewmeister friend, whose guitars we used to record my client’s previous album with his band.  Other than that, these two dudes do not know each other, and have varying musical tastes.

To my surprise, I received the near exact same feedback from each of them!

My fear was that the songs would sound disjointed from one another, due to having different genres represented throughout the catalog of tunes I’ve written in the past 6 months.  Once I was forced to sit through a listen of these 10 songs without stopping, without adjusting something in the mix in the middle of a song and starting again, without “fixing” the “mistakes” and hearing an objective first impression from two people whom I consider qualified to criticize music, I found what I had hoped would happen from the outset.

I have found that my album has essentially finished itself.  Yes, even before it’s mixed.

Think of an ant farm: when you first buy an ant farm, you essentially have a transparent box of sand.  Then, you add the ants, and they immediately get to work.  Each ant grabs a single grain of sand and marches it from one area of the farm to another.  One by one, grain by grain, the ants slowly build the foundation of their new home.  A few weeks later, after paying little attention to the progress of the ants, you look up to find an entire network of tunnels and caves; the ants have built a city in just a few short weeks, grain by grain, little by little, one day at a time.


Can you see how this principle can be applied to your life??  If you have a goal or task in your personal or professional life that seems daunting or otherwise impossible, start working on it just a little bit…today!

Act like an ant, and work at your task just a little bit every day, and before you know it, you’ll accomplish what you set out to do!

SO!  The final overdub sessions will be completed within the next couple of weeks; a photo shoot will take place on May 4, followed by a meeting with a music video producer to discuss locations and treatments for the video for the first single; a Kickstarter or IndieGogo campaign will be launched to raise the funds necessary for having the album mastered professionally and reproduced on vinyl, and rehearsals will begin for the debut show with a full band.

Over the next month or so, the wheels will begin churning…

There is excitement in the air!!

Thanks so much for reading.


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Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

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