It’s been a while since I’ve really sat down to talk with y’all. My last blog post was a whopping TWO MONTHS AGO! In these last two months my life has taken a turn for the weird. Like anyone’s journey I have faced the tumultuous downs and elevated highs of a younger twenty-something. I have performed incredible shows that prove to me that no matter how difficult this road it, it is 100% worth it! I have also hit unfathomable lows that have made me almost consider giving up my Minnesota life and trying things anew in Kansas.
In light of those complete polar opposites, I have two topics I would like to focus on today: Shabbat, and Protecting your image.
Similar to my highs and lows, Shabbat, and Protecting your Image come once again as complete polar opposites, not only in perspective, but in of fields completely different plains. How in the earth can these two have anything to do with each other?
Shabbat for me has always been a semi-sacred day. Growing up it was a gift at the end of a long week. During my elementary days I ALWAYS loved going to school! My friends were there, I would be myself without judgement, and I got to test out killer style choices~ Junior High was a completely different ball game where none of my friends were there, I didn’t feel like I ever fit in, and my style morphed into something an introverted manga-girl who doesn’t see the light of day. High School was a MECA of acceptance but came at the price of so much homework and crammed schedules that I couldn’t enjoy the weekend anymore.
Going back to those elementary days when Friday was still beautiful, pure, and full of adventures waiting to unfold with the promise of Saturday morning cartoons, I had a tradition. After school my mother would pick me up and we would either grocery shop for dinner or head home in order to make our family meal. I would help her with either cooking, cleaning, or yelling at my brothers to get the HELL out of our way. At the dinner table we would sing our traditional grace (and the non-traditional one that always made us giggle) and go around and say what we were thankful for. We would then light the Shabbat candles and bask in the beautiful light that cleared the way for a new and exciting week.
Once the plates of spaghetti and meatballs were cleared away my mother and I would then try on a multitude of different outfits, looking for that PERFECT one to head to synagogue in. I usually picked out something sparkly that aimed to wow while my mother would seek out beautiful fabrics, rich velvets, and many a shawls and graceful earrings to complete her ensemble.
After (much arguing about having to go to services) we would drag my begrudging siblings (and occasionally my moody self) to services, which in the Jewish tradition, always started a few minutes behind schedule. I would sing to my hearts content all of the beautiful prayers and hymns that I still know like the back of my hand. Once services concluded the other kids of the synagogue would race around the building like bats out of hell, stealing all of the candies and other goodies we could sneak out of the reception. Parents would pluck out children by groups as families started vacating the premises and my brothers and I started our ritual chant, “MOOOOMMMM! LET’S GOOOO!!!! Everyone else is gone! I’m BOOOOREEEDDD!!”
Once the exhaustion (and annoyance) settled into my parents we would scramble back into the car and head to our second tradition: Folk Dancing.
My father has been an avid folk dancer since he was 17 and has enjoyed traditional folk dances from all over the world. We would join his and my mothers friends to participate in whatever the style was for this week. While I shyly sat in the corner and overlooked the dancing I was always taken aback by their presence and perfect precision to the songs.
The next morning I would wake up (usually around 7) to crowd around our families 6″ black and white television screen to horde all of the cartoons we possible could take in. On special Saturdays, my father and I would sit down at the table and circle all of the interesting looking garage sales and track out our plan. At these garage sales I found everything from ceramic frogs, to random decorations that hang in my new adult apartment, to even my first guitar.
So what do I do to celebrate my more modern traditions? Not much as of late. The whole month of September (and the bulk of October) I worked Friday nights until well after midnight. Other Fridays since then have been delegated to going out to shows, staying in with the comfort of my Netflix, or working. I no longer make today sacred, which I find a real and complete shame. In order to change that, today I decided to have a rest day. I slept in, enjoyed time with my kitten, and after work I’ll go out with a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time.
I’m learning how to make Shabbat sacred once more. I may not be perfect at it, but I’m learning to rest once again.
Protecting Your Image
In the music industry your image is absolutely EVERYTHING. Much to the dismay of millions of musicians who wish the industry to be entirely about music, instead of what image to sell it through. This is an incredibly important issue as its stance has drastically changed since money was poured through the industry in the mid 70s. Many today see it as a vanity, pure and simple. So what do I believe?
I’m torn. On one hand I believe that music SHOULD be judged by its sound, composition, and point of view, rather than what the artist is wearing, why they are wearing it, and what their fashion reflects on current trends. On the other hand, I have brought up in a world where image is everything and by ignoring that aspect, you are cutting yourself short to succeed.
Instead I try for an equal balance. I strive to make my songs complicated, diverse, and speaking to many issues that personally fulfill me. I also present an image not crafted by trends in the hope of catching on, but inspired by my inner 4-year-old and what she would have wanted to perform on stage in.
Protecting your image also goes hand and hand with how you present yourself, in, and out of business.
I recently heard a former colleague go on a long filled rant that can be summed up to: You shouldn’t judge me for how I act when I’m not pursuing business, the partying side of me, and my business side are two COMPLETELY different entities!
I was taken aback by this comment because I completely disagree. So much of today’s music industry is centered on how you conduct yourself. You can be the most brilliant business entity to have taken over the industry, but if you then turn around present a sloppy party girl/boy side when you’re off the clock, you’re selling yourself short. Instead of focusing on all of the amazing progress you have made, others will simply judge you on how you conducted yourself out in public.
Being a savvy artist today means learning how to find your balance. For me it means going to as many shows as I can, networking my ass off, making business decisions without second guessing, and always presenting a professional front. I get sloppy like everyone else, but I work as hard as I can to not let that side show, especially when my career is on the line.
Making sure that I don’t get sloppy comes full circle around when trying to plan in a day of rest, aka Shabbat.
It all comes down to taking care of yourself. If you’re organizing your schedule in a way that prevents you from eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising, working enough to pay your bills, and acting in activities that make you personally fulfilled, than you’re not going to be able to perform your best.
When you can’t perform your best then your business senses aren’t fully alert, and you miss out on opportunities.
The music industry is grueling to say the least, but by first focusing energy on your basic needs, which branch out to every other aspect of your career, you can learn to keep yourself from being overwhelmed.
I hope this post was helpful to all of my fellow artists and musicians. If you have a topic you would like me to discuss in next weeks post, please make sure to leave your suggestions in the comments below!