Is the magic and mystery of a performer and / or artist dimmed when they come across in a ‘down to earth’ fashion and make you feel so comfortable that you can approach them like an old friend?
When can you say ‘no’ without inner doubts as you battle the old foolish desire of wanting to be ‘accepted’ and ‘loved’?
What are the things that take you away from your creative center and what are the things that only do so in appearances? Which can as is said, be deceptive…..
There is only so much time and so much energy and as I sit at an unfamiliar computer writing this on a strange keyboard, I ask myself about the nature of comfort and famiiarity and the discomfort and the strange and what it means to be alive and what it means to see and what it means to hear and breathe and eat and let the restlessness of creation just be restless….
At our first concert in Copenhagen, we performed in an open field in the late afternoon before a nude audience. While we were setting up, people bounded and ‘bounced’….. in front of the stage playing frisbee. ….I was singing during the show and my eyes happened to look directly at a very elderly man sitting crosslegged in front of me who had large hanging hairy breasts.
Public nudity is not the norm in the U.S. and our ideas of how things ‘are’ were questioned by that experience just as it was by our 1986-7 excursion into Eastern Europe . I can still see in my mind the massive RED flags hanging from the buildings as we pulled into Prague at dawn………Being a touring rock musician gives you a very different experience of life and exposes you to numerous cultures. You are then part of an elite tribe and you are not like other people. The musicians reading this who have toured for years know what I am saying.
Tonight’s thoughts are for you, my tribe.
Monday June 19
Francis Ford Coppola : “If you are a serious artist, your work will be about you. There’s no other way.” I haven’t posted for several days because I have had a lot to absorb after attending CMJ on Friday and Saturday as well as numerous emais to my friends and mentors around the world. (You know who you are!) ………..It was especially terrific this weekend to talk with Megan Frampton of CMJ network and Amy Leavell from Capricorn Records. (Photos from CMJ on the site soon) It was also cool to read in the June 19 issue of the CMJ, Pellet’s (Relapse Records) list of favorite recent records which included Swans ” Various Failures ” compilation. Thanks, Pellet! ********************************************************************** Oh yeah— the SECURE ordering system is now done. Thanks so much to Todd the God Zino. ********************************************************************* Back to CMJ, I have been thinking about how to expand The Living Jarboe as a label because it is the only one that seems to define what I do. I am my own brand and what I do is BOLD. I do feel an alignment with Tom Waits and Tricky and PJHarvey for example, and certainly their intensity is not licensed to one particular record label/company. If I had a label where I was looking to sign other artists, I know what it would be about and the type of artist I would promote. It would be like the original days of Island or Virgin when companies had a distinct profile and you could buy every new release on that label with total faith that you would dig it. And at the same time, I would do my best to encourage and bring out the individual artist’s vision and not just impose my own.
I’m going to be doing some of my own ‘market research’ via the Swans subscription list. In fact, its already started. SO if you wanna be included, sign up!
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The responses to that last Artery were wonderful and actually….enlightening. I can’t thank you enough guys. Whatever sex you are…
Last night in my walk around the golf course on the Path especially for walkers, joggers, there were a group of Moslem women speaking Arabic dressed all in black from head to toe in this intense heat. (We are having a drought down here too.) It was surreal in the context of scantily clad runners speeding by to find these women strolling along. Tonight, two beautiful African men with skin the color of darkest blue ran by me speaking French. Later on, I heard Japanese as three Bjork-ish young girls in silver running outfits passed by… The other night, three hometown black women called out to me as I blasted past, “OOOOOH. Wobble wobble. OOOOOOH shake it shake it ! Bootie! ” (not sure how to spell that actually..).. Anyway, the point I’m geting to is : this can be a cool town and I love that Path!
On a different subject, as some of you know, The Living Jarboe was planning on performing at the big (40,000 paying fans over three days)Treffen Festival in Leipzig Germany this June. Well, I didn’t go and I was sad until I heard two days ago from Joseph Budenholzer (Backworld) who was there to perform about the SCANDEL. The promotors stole over a million dollars and ran away and are now wanted by Interpol. No one got paid and all the bands lost a lot of money . Joe will be writing about this on his website which you can find on my links page…but THIS SUCKS.
…………………………………… I’ll be at CMJ Change Music this weekend. Reports to come….
This is for the people who took the time out to post on the guestbook today. I carefully read what you wrote and I sincerely appreciate it.
So tonight, I am “going from the sublime to the ..” you name it:
Today was damn hot in Atlanta ——–and Renee (beautiful and talented singer and musician – bassplayer for the NYC Work In Progress ‘Living Jarboe’ show this last January) and I took a walk in the blazing sun through an intown neighborhood in the early – early – early stages of renewal. This was my first time to visit this area. Renee may be moving there…………. So as we are walking along sweating like pigs, (I had to throw this expression in as coincidentally I had just enjoyed a yum sandwich called “The Blind Pig” at a cafe ..) , a vibrant sexual comment was declared in our direction as we passed by some ‘heavy’ looking neighborhood guys (speculating about the shade of hair located in a private area of the female anatomy if you must know)… …I asked Renee what she thought was the motive behind the comment. She and I are perhaps similiar in that I am the type to analyze and reflect on this sort of thing instead of saying something sassy back ………She said the comment was to ‘objectify’ women. So I want to ask you guys out there reading this: what exactly DOES it mean in your opinion when a guy says stuff like this to a woman on the street? I mean, is it to impress his friends? And what if he is alone when he says it? Does it means something else if the skin color is different? Do some men think a woman is actually aroused by the comment?
(please post on the guestbook if you care to respond on this one!)
And I think my eyelids are sunburned.
So tonight, I’m wishing I had a big hug from you and you look into me with love. ….What is it like where you are? Is there music playing? What are you feeling? Frequently I think I feel things too deeply. I was thinking today about my brother who died when I was only twenty. I still think of him all the time and the emptiness left in me when he died, has never left. SOmetimes I think this is why I need music. And why some people say they can hear so much emotion in my voice…… DO we ever get over the insecurity we had as a child? If we were bullied, or unpopular, do we have a fear of being alone or left behind as the ‘laughing hipsters’ leave us in the dirt? How easy is it to be alone and LIKE it? What does it take to have so much self love that you don’t ‘need’ anyone else….you can take them or leave them because you don’t really care. What about being cold as a result of past rejection and hurt? Is it an advantage to be cold and unfeeling as a result of the discipline to make yourself that way? To make yourself invulnerable…… What about inadvertantly setting yourself up to be punished by another person? Does that happen?
I want to hear your emotional survival methods/secrets. Share them with me.
The guestbook on this site waits for you.
6/11 Several nights ago, I attended the Atlanta show of the current Dead Voices On Air/ Legendary Pink Dots tour. Not only did I enjoy seeing Mark Spybey again, but I met for the first time -Edward Kaspel , who was a soft-spoken gentleman who got a spontaneous big hug from me when he said he had always wanted to meet me….Photos of us were taken in the dressing room after the show and will soon be up on this site.
CMJ Change Music comes to Atlanta this week and as I was given a ‘premium pass,” I will be attending as an audience member as many ‘music and the internet’ panel discussions as energy permits….
The evenings are still pleasant and cool here. I lie out in my big hammock gently swaying between the Japanese Maple and the Magnolia. Here I am under the stars in the clear sky. I wear a satin slip —and look up at the fireflies hovering in the tall trees. Candles, incense, red wine and the cicadas…..
************************************* Oh and Thanks to those on the guestbook for their feedback about the Blackmouth project…..Both John’s and Brett’s sites can be accessed from my links page….
Last night, an unexpected treat- a last minute invitation to a new production of the Mozart opera Cosi fan tutte, the delightfully perverse comedy . A terrific performance by The Atlanta Opera. Also a brief visit to the home of friends who never fail to inspire me. Tomorrow night, I’m looking forward to seeing my friend Mark Spybey in town with his project DVOA -touring with The Legendary Pink Dots.
Something began to happen to me internally when I was in Japan and as a result, the songs I wrote there are going to be some of the most beautiful ones on Disburden Disciple.
I am slowly and cautiously finding and allowing beauty and romantic love back into my life and the shock has been the realization that even though they are also a part of life and indeed beautiful, I no longer want or feel a need to literally live with and surround myself with images of death and decay. There is also a need and appreciation for simplicity and minimalism. I’m going for long walks almost every evening in a park nearby and I even feel intense joy emerging inside although I fear it because all extremes of emotion are ‘honey on a razor’s edge’ and they are all temporary.
Every week, I receive email and packages and letters from all over the world from people who say my music and also Swans – has had an impact on their life. This is not a reason to make music but it is one reason to take a deep breath and look around me and close my eyes and remember.
28 May —- Satin covered knee-pads are available at the altar . Memorial Day weekend. Atlanta. The city is glorious. Driving in the pickup truck is a pleasure. Everyone but seemingly half a dozen other people have left the city for their summer weekend place on St Simon’s Island off the Georgia coast , the Florida beaches , or the North Georgia mountains. Yours truly has been enjoying such lovely American pastimes like mowing the lawn, making lemonade, swinging in my hammock at dusk , and seeing a movie at the mall. ….. I truly enjoy such simple incredibly old-fashioned activities. And I have to say that after a life of seeking out the new ,the dangerous, the ultra-intense…it makes sense to me that I find simple things to be nurturing and exquisite. I have had so many lives already. Been so many different women. …And life’s diversity offers a balance……. There are jars of alcohol with black snakes floating in the bottom available in a Tokyo night spot I was in recently , outrageous toothless fat strippers in the Atlanta nightspot, Claremont Lounge , and the same Japanese Privet bushes are in my front yard as are artfully arranged inside a trendy nouvelle cuisine Tokyo restaurant. ..Balance is all around….. —When ‘cutting edge’ is an effort, it’s the same pose as unquestioning conformity because it is that person’s time to embrace the sanction of desperation, the cheap thrill and artifice. And only the individual can know when healing can begin……for some–desperation , artifice, and thrill-seeking IS the altar of their inexorable religion. Making music and writing are absolute essentials to my life in this world. They aren’t activities in which I engage. They are as necessary in who I am as the breath I take in my lungs…. And healing is a solitary process.
x J ————————————————————————— ——-
I saw a new book tonight : Melody Maker- History Of 20th Century Popular Music (Bloomsbury Press). It contains passages about Swans. Tonight I have been thinking about how important it is to take time out to reflect on what kind of person we have become. There are blind spots that others can see but that we ourselves cannot. This is a painful process. It is essential to let down ones’s defense mechanisms to see more clearly and let the truth in. But you have to have trust in that person in order to take what they show you as real.
Conversely, sometimes the person that you least expect it from is deeply insecure and frustrated. So frustrated that something you would never think would set them off lights the fuse and you get burned in the process.
Every time we enter into the bond of intimacy with another human being, we invite a mirror held closely up to our own selves that may not reflect what we want to see.
I can only decide to believe that I will not grow as a person unless I face this mirror and I can only feel the burning as necessary to new flesh and new beginnings.
My life has been a combination of ‘suffering’ I consciously or subconsciously decided to inflict upon myself as well as the cowardice of sometimes taking the path of least resistance in order to try and avoid suffering. I don’t like sarcasm and interpersonal conflict and yet it is there waiting for me even when I least expect it.
Some thoughts: Don’t whine and complain to anyone. You are not entitled. Have a thicker skin when it comes to criticism and decide if that person is actually offering you the privledge of ‘the mirror’ and revealing something about yourself that you just may need to see –instead of becoming defensive.
And yet—be careful and honest with yourself when you get deeply involved with another person. Your life is precious. Do not let their disease infect you. Its okay to walk away. Maybe you wish things were different and you are full of guilt and remorse and you feel you cannot go on without them. These are universal. Many people have felt this way before you. YOU have probably felt this way before. ………………………….. ………………………………………………………………… …………………………….
This jet-lag is crushing…
Returned home to find the rosebush M.G. planted for me in full bloom in the front yard.
Read first review of Blackmouth today in Outburn magazine. My first entirely pro-tools project. All vocals sound files into the Mac. Got a letter from MG where he says this is the only way he wants to record in the future for his own recordings, including The Angels Of Light .
The recording artist must now wear many hats. Sometimes, I dream of the luxury of focusing on writing and performing the music instead of all the other aspects to being a self-employed self-product and the business and technical aspects therein.
I met someone in Tokyo who told me the internet was damaging the indie labels and not increasing the profile of the artist at all and that the major labels are only stronger for the internet. In my case, the internet has allowed me the privilege of making available my work directly to the people who want it and bypassing the middlemen of the industry altogether.
I want to believe in the power of artist controlled websites and to debunk the myth that you have to get on a major to advance your work and your profile. One of my favorite artists, Tricky, was dropped by the major he was on. Need I say more about the majors? The internet should be about networking and giving artists freedom to do their work and get out from under the thumb of the music business. To do this, of course, you have to get people to be aware of and come to your website. I am still learning how to do this. I think it is a marriage of print ads and promotion and other traditional factors in addition to the net. But things will never go back to where they were when the artist was crippled by the music business machine. I don’t want to sound naive . I am far from bohemian or socialistic. I am not even that idealistic. However, I am aware and informed and realize it is still hard work. Nothing is handed to you on a platter. Too many musicians feel entitled. M.G. always reminded me that you have to work hard and expect nothing in return. I say you have to create your OWN ‘return.’
A Hopi-Indian inspired song that came to me in a dream after a day of visiting Temples in Japan is the next and final recording to take its place on Disburden Disciple. I will be in New York in June to record it.