Hello love birds,
So. It’s that special time of year again, where couples dole out extra doses of PDA, singles take it as an excuse to eat too much chocolate, and people who are in casual relationships get really uncomfortable. Last year I talked a lot about the worst relationship advice I’ve ever gotten, which you can read right here:
But this year I'm going to talk about the love of my life.
I love my job more than anything in the entire world. And I understand that my music career is a blip in the microcosm that is your life in a greater social hemisphere in this crazy world. But for me it is literally everything. There is no microcosm, no social hemisphere, no crazy world scenario because my crazy world is my music career.
My life has come to revolve around this tiny blip and I’m watching it grow (slowly yes, but it’s growing). On January 1st of 2018 I had 667 followers on Instagram, on January 1st of this year I had 2949, and that number is changing still. And let me describe to you why all of this is so magical to me.
I spent my entire life knowing I wanted to be in music. To write music, to sing music, to just get my hands on an instrument. When I was really little, I told my dad I was going to be on American Idol (give me some credit, it was the early 2000’s and American Idol was still a big deal). I wrote so many crappy songs as a kid. I remember my parents got me this album from Melissa O’Neil (she won the 3rd season of Canadian Idol in 2005) and I pulled out the album artwork and look at it, and that was the first time I realised that pop songs are structured into verses and choruses. It was revolutionary to my tiny 6-year-old brain.
My older sister told me a couple weeks ago that she remembers me writing music at our old house when we were little. We had this monster of an old IBM computer that sat in our basement, and my mom would open up Microsoft Word and I would type songs out one letter at a time and if anyone came into the basement I would scream bloody murder and cover up the screen with my tiny, child hands.
I remember the first time I took my crappy songs and printed them out and brought them up into my parents’ room and made my mom listen as I sang a capella songs that had no meaning (my mom is a saint). I printed out pages of meaningless lyrics and sang out of tune songs over and over again until she told me it was time for bed.
My older sister has this crappy Yamaha guitar that my parents bought her at Costco. I still play it at the cottage sometimes. It was collecting dust under her bed, so after school when I got home before my sister, I would sneak into her room and steal the guitar. I taught myself using YouTube videos and chord charts online. I was 11 years old. And I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I learned to play the guitar because I wanted to surprise them. I wanted it to be my secret until I had something concrete to show them. I learned to play guitar specifically so I could write music. I had a sole motivation to learn that instrument, I wanted to be able to bring it around with me and play music that I wrote rather than having to sing a capella in my mom’s bedroom. That year I played so much guitar that when I went to piano lessons my teacher complained she could hear my fingers clicking on the keys because the callouses on my fingers were so thick.
I pulled the guitar downstairs one evening and made my entire family sit in the living room and I played them the first song I ever wrote on an instrument. It was called “One More Time” and it sucked, but it ended with this line that said “If our time is a candle, then the wick is a stump in the wax” and I kind of still love that line. Maybe I’ll use it again one day and you’ll all know where it came from.
When I was 13, I wrote my first good song. I played it for my two sisters at our kitchen table and when I finished my younger sister looked at me and said, “that one isn’t bad actually”. That song was 100 or Less.
The first YouTube video I ever posted was (oh this is embarrassing) A CUP SONG MASH-UP, the most 2013 phrase ever. I have since put the video on “private” because I think I would vomit if anyone ever saw it. But you need to understand that it took me nearly 4 months to convince my dad to let me post it on YouTube because he thinks social media is a recipe for disaster. (It is, he’s right, but I wanted more than anything to be online)
At 15 I spent July at a summer camp. I brought the Yamaha guitar up with me and played songs on the porch during “rest hour” while everyone else slept. I played slow and quiet covers of Ed Sheeran and Jack Johnson while girls read in bunkbeds. I wrote Home that summer. At the end of July, I got in front of the camp to play it. It was maybe 150 people and I was so nervous I was shaking. I used to be afraid of jitters, but now I like them They’re kind of exciting, like butterflies before a first date.
The funny part is I still keep all my old lyrics. I have folders and notebooks and scrap papers all over my room. I keep notes on my phone and sticky notes and write in the margins of agendas. Because I’ve used lyrics I wrote when I was little and recycled them. If you’ve ever heard me play live, there’s a chorus you may have heard:
If this bus breaks down between where I am and you, I will find a way to walk…
And I wrote that the summer I was 15, the summer I wrote Home. I just didn’t know what the rest of the song would be yet.
And why this long-winded back story? Because I know for some people it feels like this whole music thing is some winging-it project, but it’s not. For me this has been not only a dream, but a work in progress since 6-year-old me figured out what a chorus is. It has been 15 years of writing music and piano lessons and musical theatre camp and choir competitions and vocal coaching and I can’t describe to you what even this little bit of movement means to me.
And here’s where we get REAL cheesy, so get out your nachos.
When I write music, everything makes sense. It feels like all my thoughts come in the wrong order; the beginning comes at the end, the middle comes at the beginning, and the end sometimes shows up in a different story. But when I write music, I get to clear all the space and place the thoughts one by one in the right order.
And if you’ve listened to me talk in person you probably get that because 99% of the time what I say is a tangent or out of place or from an earlier conversation. But when I write everything settles, and all the dust clears, and I can actually put words in the correct order and make something out of them.
So, I know I’ve said it before, but I again want to say thank you. Because I get to be in love everyday with this little blip. I just can’t wait to see it grow. Happy Valentine's Day.
From me, with love, to you,