Napping: 101

Napping on the beach during my video shoot for my single 'Fabulous'

Napping on the beach during my video shoot for my single ‘Fabulous’

I tried to write a clever blog about something, well, clever. But all I could think about was lying down to take the most magnificent nap EVER. Yes. I love napping! Sometimes I even double up. I find too that I come up with my best song ideas while I’m in the space between being awake and drifting off into dream land. So I count it as ‘work’ sometimes and even schedule it into my day.

Some people think it’s hard to nap because by the time they fall asleep they have to wake up. I used to be one of those people until I learned the cardinal rules of napping.

Napping 101:

1) Go to the washroom right before you lay down.

2) Wear something comfortable. Even if it’s your birthday suit.

3) Make sure you are at the correct temperature, wether it be adding blankets, taking some off, or adjusting the thermostat.

4) DON’T THINK ABOUT ANYTHING EXCITING!! If you find yourself thinking about a work problem or making ‘the list’ over and over again in your head. Then write it down IMMEDIATELY so you can stop thinking about it.

5) If step 4, which is the most important step is hindering nap time, meditate on a word or sentence. My favourites are ‘Breathe’ or ‘Don’t think, Just breathe.’

6) If Step 4 & 5 are not working, and those exciting thoughts are still getting to you. Remind yourself that you are a creature of habit. So whatever’s bothering you now will be there when you wake up. So put it on the shelf while you rest and can deal with it after you’ve charged up your batteries.

7) Allow yourself time for a nap. I prefer, 15 minutes to fall asleep, 1 hour sleeping,15 minutes to wake up.

8) When you are going to wake up. WAKE UP! Don’t lie there for another hour, that’s a surefire way to make yourself groggy and then you will have a hard time falling asleep at bedtime.

9) Have a cup of herbal tea, or a big glass of water to get yourself fully awake and avoid being drowsy for the rest of the day.

10) If you don’t have the time to nap, then take a half hour to do some deep stretches, or sit quietly and rest your eyes. This will leave you feeling equally as refreshed!

Well, I hope that helpzZZzzzzz……. ;)

Record Breaking Studio Day!

Hanging out in the Mixing Room while they were setting up the mic's!

Hanging out in the Mixing Room while they were setting up the mic’s!

Wow! Yesterday I had a record breaking studio day! No lie! I recorded awesomely performed lead vocals for the 5 songs on my upcoming EP, as well as a few background vocals. Still have some work left to do, the rest of the background vocals, and I have a Cello player coming in to do some string arrangements. But all in all the tracks are shaping up nicely! I’m so excited to share them with you all and even more excited to get to planning the music video concepts. :D

My producer and sound engineer were equally impressed with the durability of my voice, and they commented saying ‘not many people can record 5 leads in one day, and actually have them sound label quality!’ I was really flattered because they’ve both worked with some bigger artists in Nashville, so their opinions have some serious weight to them. It got me thinking, maybe I did a few things differently than most singers in the days leading up to my session. So I thought I’d share them with you!

1) Technique! If you have proper vocal technique your voice won’t tire as easily. Your vocal chords shouldn’t have ANY strain on them, EVER! It’s bad for your chords and can cause damage.

2) Practice! I practiced my vocal technique and the songs I would be singing 6 days a week during the months that lead to my session. If you are well rehearsed you can bang songs out pretty fast because you already have made the performance mistakes in your spare time. This way you’re not burning studio dollars trying to figure out line delivery on the spot. This will also give you an opportunity to arrange your songs in order from easiest, to hardest, to most tiring. Because you’ve practiced them you will know and be able to prepare for that. That’s what I did ;)

3) Diet! I don’t mean watching your waistline. In the week that lead up to my session I had minimal wine (I’m an artist… I need some wine!) NO COFFEE (or caffeinated beverages), minimal dairy, sugar, and wheat/wheat products. These foods/drinks in excess can make you tired, deplete your immune system, dry out your vocal chords and make you phlegmy. During my session I only ate oatmeal and almond butter. I know.. WEIRD! But oatmeal sticks with you, has no sugar and doesn’t create much phlegm, the almond butter helps sustain you because it has some protein. This makes your breaks less frequent AND shorter because you have less recovery time after food breaks due to phlegm. Another aid after food breaks, as well as throughout the day to keep my voice fresh, was herbal tea. I chose to sip on Breath Deep, Eaters Digest and Throat Coat all day long!

4) Sleep and Health! I was well rested, and took oil of oregano as well as plenty of vitamins and supplements to make sure I was healthy and strong come performance time in the weeks that lead up to my session.

5) No Stress! On performance days I’m usually a stress case. But to make sure that this time I wasn’t, I got up 4 hours before my session so I could wake up, get ready, have breakfast (oatmeal and almond butter…), and get to the studio in plenty of time so I wasn’t feeling rushed or stressed at all!

Well, that’s all! I hope some of this helps any singers out there who are looking to maximize studio rental time. Being an indie artist means that your studio dollars come out of your own pocket, so you want to make sure they’re being spent wisely, right?

DIY Easy and Strong No Sew Sequin Application

Hey Everyone! I mentioned my DIY sequin project I was working on on Instagram and someone asked me how I did it. So I thought I’d make a little tutorial to share with you all! It’s super easy, and sometimes even a bit relaxing. Save this project for the end of the day to do with a glass of wine while listening to your favourite music and your creation will turn out even more creative!

My Latest Stage Creation!

My Latest Stage Creation!

I forgot to tell you in the video to let your project dry for 7-10 days before washing. Then hand wash only and hang (or lay flat with a towel between the fabric layers) to dry.

Enjoy! :)

Literally Letting Fate Decide

As I’m sure you ALL know I’ve been having trouble deciding on which songs to record for my EP. So, I decided to literally let fate decide. I got my selection down to 9 songs that I couldn’t decide between. They were all equally strong contenders. I wrote all the names down on a piece of paper, tore each name off and rolled it up into a tiny ball. Then took a few deep breaths and stared down for a few minutes before making my selection of 5.

Just some paper balls.... That hold all the answers!

Just some paper balls….

At first I thought, what if I choose the wrong songs? Then I remembered a game that we used to play when we were kids and couldn’t decide between 2 things. Someone would hold the 2 items behind their back, make us pick a hand and then ask, ‘Which one do you wish it was?’ Then you had to answer right away, because that was the one that you truly desired. So the thought of an instant moment of clarity gave me comfort!

I took a deep breath, feeling the thrill of finally deciding on which songs to record, and then the fact that I was letting fate decide made it all the more exciting. I mean, I have control of EVERYTHING when it comes to my music. So giving that up was huge!

The final selection that fate gave so kindly to me!

The final selection that fate so kindly gave to me!

The songs that were drawn were: Endless Summer, Body Language, Hanging By A Thread, Champagne and Natural Disaster.

I was surprisingly pleased by the selection and didn’t want to exchange any of them. I had been deliberating between Endless Summer and Breathless, knowing that I had to choose one or the other. Body Language and 10,000 Ways to Love Me were another two I couldn’t decide between. Fall in Love All Over Again was one that I loved very much, but rated poorly in my test pool, so I wanted to select it but wasn’t sure if it was a wise decision. And I loved Nostalgia but one of my requirements for this EP was that each song had to have remix potential, and I just couldn’t hear it for that one.

So, I can’t help but wonder, if I hadn’t chosen pieces of paper from a tin jar lid, and had chosen them based on pro’s and cons lists, endless hours of thinking, worrying and hoping I’d made the right decision… Would I have ended up with the same song selection anyways? Do we really have control over everything or is it just an illusion that we create for ourselves to give us comfort?

From now on I feel like I will literally let fate decide, where it applies of course! ;)

The EP: The Fabulous Edition and Kisses 4 CANFAR

It may come as a surprise to you all, but I haven’t had a full EP up for sale on iTunes… EVER! Reason being, when I officially released my debut EP instead of putting it up for sale I decided to give it out in exchange for a pay what you can donation to CANFAR (The Canadian Foundation for Aids Research) Which officially launched a year ago to coincide with the 2014 Kisses 4 CANFAR Campaign.

Until the end of February I will donate 10% of my EP sales to the 2015 Kisses 4 CANFAR Campaign

Until the end of February I will donate 10% of my EP sales to the 2015 Kisses 4 CANFAR Campaign

My decision to fundraise for CANFAR was based on my effort to give back to the community that had given so much to me. I won’t elaborate too much here, because you all know how I got my start performing in the Toronto drag scene. (If you don’t and would like to, read my post ‘Creating a Smash Hit, Performing Live’ for more insight on my journey) When I started spending more time in the Toronto LGBT community it dawned on me that HIV/AIDS was something that was effecting so many people, but no one talked about it. In fact, I felt like it was taboo and it was something to be avoided at all costs during conversation. I mean, chatting about an incurable disease isn’t the best dinner conversation, right? Well, it might not be incurable for much longer… CANFAR is working to not only help people live with HIV through research, they have found a vaccine to reduce and sometimes even prevent the progression of HIV. That’s amazing news, but not many people know about it. It seems to me that the main reason people are afraid to talk about HIV/AIDS is because we are still afraid of the disease. Yes, it is a scary thing, but it isn’t unbeatable. Through research CANFAR is working every day to find our AIDS free future. However, a huge part of an AIDS free future is education on prevention. And the only way to educate yourself is to open up the conversation. So, educate yourself on how to prevent HIV/AIDS, and then educate others.

To celebrate the launch of my first official EP release on iTunes, for the rest of February I will donate 10% of my EP sales to the 2015 Kisses 4 CANFAR Campaign. And, just so you know, this is ‘The Fabulous Edition’ -because I have a few extra songs on there ;) If you donated and received my EP the first time around, you can also purchase the bonus tracks individually.

The EP: The Fabulous Edition iTunes Purchase Link:

http://itunes.apple.com/album/id966364988

Educate Yourself, CANFAR HIV/AIDS FAQ’s:

http://www.canfar.com/faqs

Music, Dining Room Tables, and Dolls, Oh My!

Filming an Acoustic set at the Hard Rock Cafe last year for Rogers TV.

Filming an Acoustic set at the Hard Rock Cafe last year for Rogers TV.

Ages 5-8 I went through a SERIOUS stuffed animal and baby doll phase. I had about 30 that I would keep on my bed and in rotation, so that none of them felt left out, I would let 5 sleep in my bed with me and then switch to the next 5 until I had gone through all 30. Then I would start at the beginning again. I know… It’s insane now that I think back on it. I also used to think that the dining room table had feelings. I cried when my parents sold it to get a new one because I thought it would think that we didn’t love it any more. (I think I actually hugged it goodbye…) BUT that’s a story for another day, that I’m not sure I can even explain…

Recently, I’ve been trying really hard to whittle down my songs from 50 to 5 for this upcoming EP. And it’s been way harder than I expected. I remember thinking when I first started writing that I would know instinctively which songs would be ‘the ones’ to go on the final EP. But honestly, it’s like I’m 8 years old again choosing my favourite dolls to cuddle with at bedtime.

Finally, I managed to cut the 50 down to 12 songs that I feel are strongest. However, being an independent artist, I can’t afford to fully produce an album, the budget is strictly for an EP. So, I’m considering releasing an acoustic album of those 12 and only fully producing the final 5 for the EP. What are your thoughts? Should I do it? ;)

Vinyl or Vault?

Hello everyone! As you might know from my recent facebook posts, I am working on recording another EP! Yay! :D

My last EP was a collective of all my singles that I had released when I was feeling my way through the jungle, experimenting with sounds and finding my footing in the LGBT community. I didn’t even put it up for sale when I released it, instead I gave it out in exchange for a pay what you can donation to CANFAR (the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research).

This time I have a better understanding of who I am as an artist. But, I need your help! I have written so many songs over the past few months preparing to get into the studio, that I now have to whittle my list of 50 down to ONLY 5 SONGS!! Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to listen to all 50, I have weeded out the majority and narrowed it down to 2 ‘Rounds’. (Each round will have approximately 10 songs)

Round 1: The idea is for you all to listen when you have a moment, decide if you like the song, and then let me know how you hear the song in it’s finished format with your minds ear. So be creative! All suggestions are accepted and none will be judged. I want to create a fun sharing environment for you all to be able to help with the creation of this EP. If you don’t like a lyric and think it should be changed, if you hate the title, if you think it’s too long, if you think it should be sped up, slowed down, dance production, country production, pop/dance/country/electro/blues fusion production, tell me! Anything goes! All suggestions will be taken into account, and I will be so happy to do it!

Round 2: I had a few close contenders that I need a bit more time to reconsider and ‘un-vault’ in this round.

You can hear all the eligible demo’s from ‘Round 1‘ in the music player below.

So tell me, Vinyl or Vault?