Getting Through 2013 With Music & Writing

careers, Culture, Interview, Music Business, Performance

I’m not superstitious, but 2013…really?

New Year’s Day 2013 had me trying to be optimistic. After all, I am fortunate. I have a home, wonderful family and friends, and had the opportunity to do freelance production and audio work for some great people I used to work with at my first job. (Exhibit A of the importance of staying in touch with people.)

However, I felt unhealthy and burdened. I’d been laid off in May 2012, and had continuously been told that I was an employer’s ‘second choice’, or told I would hear back from other companies that then left me hanging. But such is the job search these days. I was lucky to even have an interview for a job that actually paid, instead of being asked to go back to the drawing table as an intern again (it happens).

Then, in February, the tides appeared to have turned. I took a job slightly outside of my comfort zone, and at a commute close to two hours on public transit. I admit now that I immediately felt out of sorts, and had a bad feeling about it. I thought maybe it was the commute. I considered getting a car or moving closer…two things that would have put me in the hole financially. My friends and family advised against it. They didn’t think such a financial investment was a good idea for a job I had just started. It just so happened that my lease would be up for renewal soon, though. Perhaps they also saw how unhappy I was. I’m the type of person who loves to work, wants to have a career, and wants to do a good job. So, that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach didn’t bode well.

Well, it wasn’t something I ate. The company laid me off in a matter of only a few months. In the meantime, the Boston Marathon bombing had occurred, along with the subsequent manhunt in my neighborhood. And, you know, I started to write about what had happened that week, and deleted it. It makes me incredibly sad and frustrated at how many people in my life have loved ones who were seriously or fatally injured that day, and I felt truly helpless. But I don’t feel I have the right to dwell on it here. That energy should be taken to help, not to remind people or make them feel bad.

A week or so after that awful week, I was laid off from the job I had started in mid February. I was told I took it well, but I honestly was not surprised.

However, around this time something wonderful had happened in relation to creativity, music, and writing. Months before, I had found out that Creed Bratton was in the band The Grass Roots. I’m a big fan of music from that era, and considered trying to interview Bratton about his career. I’d started to focus my blog on careers in sounds and music, and wanted to complete a list of individuals to profile. I decided to have a running list, with an end goal of interviewing one of my favorite composers. Other goals were to interview a touring musician with one of my favorite groups, someone who worked on a film that was key to my childhood and career, and a drummer I admired. In the midst of everything, I didn’t think reaching out to Creed at the time would pan out.

Hark! What was that? A press release found its way to me, and days later I found myself setting up a phone call with Creed himself. I pitched the story to a few magazines, including Rolling Stone. I was told that they already had the story, but was so excited to have even gotten that far, I wasn’t bothered. It was going to be a great addition to the music career blog project.

This interview really lifted my spirits. It just so happened that Creed was in Boston when he phoned in, and getting ready to do another interview after with my Alma Mater, Emerson College. Hearing his story, and his struggles, made me feel a lot better about what had been going on with my job search. One of the best things he said to me?

“All those times in the thirty years where I didn’t have a pot to piss in and I was really wondering whether I was going to be able to eat the next day, I always found a way to get to my class…whatever group I was working with, and put up a scene, and always act. So, yes, my advice is-no matter what’s going on-find a way to keep doing it. Even though you say ‘well, what’s the point’? The point is…the point IS you’ve got to keep doing it. Because it will get better. Even if it doesn’t, you’re going to feel better about yourself. It’s not about saying ‘I gotta do this to be a success’. You do it because you love it. If you don’t do it because you love it, then you’re doing it for the wrong reason. That’s true, that’s very true. And I’m a living example of that. I didn’t hit it really big-well The Grass Roots, yeah sure. Forget about that. I was in my twenties. As far as an actor…I didn’t hit it until I was sixty. Think about that. Most people would give up.”

That story helped my blog out a ton, too. If you Google ‘Creed Bratton interview career’, it’s the first non video result. I’m ok with that!

A few weeks after that, I was going to see Muse for the second time. Except, this time, as part of the press. Waiting backstage with a bunch of large men made me suddenly realize how very short, female, and not tattooed I am. As we got up to the stage, a woman walked over to me and started chatting. She was warm, friendly, and asked about my blog and writing. She offered to help, since she was married to someone involved with the show. I was amazed at her generosity. NETWORKING. However, as we were blasted away by the music and then all press were ushered backstage again, I lost her in the crowd, along with her business card. Despite this, I am still in awe of how this was such a textbook example of networking…up until that point. But it got me to thinking of touring musicians, and the fact that profiling someone who’d toured with one of my favorite groups would be a great piece of the puzzle here.

I’d started to really get into Janelle Monáe’s music, and reached out to Brandon Gilliard. He was a wonderful resource, and it was awesome to see him perform with the Electric Lady herself this past October. It was also a remarkable event for the audience and band on that particular day!

By the end of May I had reached my 100th blog post, and over 1,000 followers, but still felt very low on the job front. But those 100 blog posts were important, because I started to get paid for writing for other sites. And you know what? Writing samples…well, they don’t write themselves! What would I have done without these freelance writing gigs as my production work was put on hold, and nobody in the foreseeable future would hire me full time?

In addition, I decided to write a post about a topic that had been bugging me for some time. I was surprised to see it picked up by other sites (even last week), and that it led to other writing offers. King Henry and his horses! What was going on?

By now I also had the wonderful support of a site that helped me get on my feet after I graduated and wanted to keep writing: Blast Magazine. I can’t say enough about the hard work and dedication of Mr. John Guilfoil!

By September, I found a corner of the music and film industry I had yet to explore, and a connection to one of my favorite childhood films. Going out on a limb, I emailed the composer from her LinkedIn contact info. To my surprise, she replied, and we worked on the interview and resources together for a month. It was a great experience.

That’s when it all started to come together. The post about temp score prompted a discussion about film score with Clint Mansell. I was very interested in his thoughts on this, and wanted to learn more about his scoring process. An interview was scheduled!

I was offered a new full time role the same week. Talk about timing.

What a year. In a nutshell, here is a huge thank you to everyone who helped with my writing, my goals, and my job search. One of the first interviews I had upon being laid off the first time was at a music organization. I ended up taking myself out of the interview process when the role was cut to part time (foolish on my behalf?). I’d met with a girl there who, when hearing about my search, commented on how important it was to stay attached to something creative and musical, something artistic, in our work. “We always find a way.” It’s true. In the meantime I’ve also enjoyed helping other people find jobs, helping recent graduates who have reached out, and finding answers to questions I wish I’d asked in school. After all, that’s part of the reason why I started this project!

The last month of 2013 has not been without its own trials, but I’m hopeful.

Gotta dance, gotta sing.
(Singing in the Rain, MGM)

2014, I’m looking at you! You seem awfully nice. I think we can work together quite well.

Photo credit 2013. Heck, yes, that’s my photo of a flower in an apple orchard.

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