Let me explain. I’m deep in a year-long program with Rubicon Artist Development called Rubicon Gold. It’s for folks like me who want to keep focused on our musical goals and “next level” it. It’s self-paced and guided by my producer and great friend Daniel Barrett. There’s reading, check-ins, goal setting, vision and values assessment, and lots of positive encouragement.

It’s actually changed the entire action plan for my music in the past five months…or at least helped me embrace it. I’ve always been fascinated with commercial music and music business, and I unabashedly love popular music, and now I want to write it. I want to meet people who write it, write with them, write it alone, get cuts, chart things, see my name in the “songwriter” slot of the Grammy nominations, have my songs in the background of your favorite TV shows. Working with Gold and Dan has helped me work this out, and now I’m starting to take steps to do this. I have a trip planned to Los Angeles in April and while I feel a little bit like a freshman on the first day of class, I already have a few things lined up to make this trip a good one, and it’s just the start.

You may also recall that I have blogged about Dan’s book before – The Remembering Process. Dan taught this to me years ago – and I recommend you get the book. The jist is a technique beyond positive visualization to make proactive change happen in your life. Instead of thinking about the future, you actually REMEMBER the outcome you want as if it already happened. It works and it’s FUN.

Dan challenged us Gold program folks to make a video about how the year is working out for us, so I decided to apply The Remembering Process and post my interview with Oprah after my success as a popular songwriter in the year 2025. I know, I haven’t aged a day and neither has O. (She said I can call her “O”). Here it is…as you can see, I’ve had some good stuff happen.

Check out Rubicon Gold here, and Daniel Barrett here!


Daniel Barrett and Mark Hallman

EP 3 is almost done and in my hands. I spent a super enjoyable day at Congress House Studio in Austin with Mark Hallman and Dan last week. Mark is a super producer himself, and known as one of the best mastering studios around amen. It was neat to see the process. Mastering takes all the tracks and puts their sounds in context with each other – so one song is not louder than another and you’re not turning your stereo up for the soft ones and down for the louder songs. EQ, gain, and compression are adjusted so everything sounds good as a whole project.

Artwork is almost done…I’ll post that soon!

EP 3 Update time!

The holidays made us all take a bit of a break on the record making front, which was fine. Things are picking up again and I had a meeting with Emily Shirley this week about artwork. This is one of my favorite parts of the process because really, I don’t have to do anything. I kept a Pinterest board of images I liked over the past few months that I thought might supply some sort of vibe for Emily to work from. That was really the extent of my work here. We had a great chat and Emily now goes off and does her art voodoo and I get to see what she comes up with. Super fun.

Dan also just sent me the last two rough mixes of songs, meaning I have a pretty good idea of the whole EP. It sounds awesome. We’ll keep mixing and we have one more meeting in early February to kind of sort things out. Progress!

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What a week! Dan and I spent 2 more days in the studio. There was lots of singing from me, a bass part by Eric Holden, all manner of fun things from Dan, and then Susan came in and sang a really cool part on a tune called “Middle of My Chest.” She even added a “doot doot doot” line that totally works. What a blast.

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I’m listening to an unmixed version of that very song that Dan sent over right now, and this might sound weird coming from the writer of the songs, but I am so impressed with the trajectory of this album. It’s different. It is folk, pop, rootsy, rock, electronic. All of those components are on the album thus far and all of them speak to various facets of my musical passions. Dan is really outdoing himself on producing these songs, and I am lucky because he knows me so well and he gets the vision of what I want to do with them.

What do I want to do with these songs? This is where I gratefully acknowledge that my Kickstarter is 111% funded right now. AMAZING. Dan gets paid for his hard work, Emily gets paid for her (what I am sure will be amazing) artwork, copies will be printed, all that goodness.

Since we’re OVER-FUNDED, however, it’s giving me new goals. Since I could not be more thrilled with the sound of this album…I can say with complete confidence I think some of our larger goals can actually do something here. One of the discussions Dan and I had before starting was placements…meaning I want these tunes to be in TV shows and movies. Grey’s Anatomy has kind of been our go-to example because they pick a lot of folkies and songwriters, but overall it’s making Dan angle his production to that type of sound. It’s a little more pop, it’s got some edge. It’s still 100% me, but these songs have things to do so we’re dressing them up nicely.

One of the things I’d love to do with the overage money is get a membership to TAXI, which is how a lot of placements happen in this business. I’ve not done it before and now is the time with these new songs.

I’d also love to investigate a publicist for some promotion. These songs can be on the radio, and getting reviews and write-ups would also help this whole operation be a success. TAXI is $300 for a year’s membership and while I have not found a publicist yet, campaigns can be $1000 up to well, a lot of thousands depending on length and the publicist. A stretch goal on Kickstarter would be $9200 to cover those things and KS fees. And REAL stretch goal would be $10,000 because that’s a great number.

I’m putting this out there because if you’re on the fence of not pre-ordering and just waiting to get the album when it comes out, having this pre-order money will take these songs a long ways to finding a bigger place in the world. I have never been so dang confident about something that has come out of my mouth.

Here’s the link to the Kickstarter. Pre-order for as little as 5 bucks, tell your friends, be a part of what I hope is a long, successful journey for these songs!

Kids. I am not even kidding. We are having such an amazing time making this EP. If you all like it 1/8 as much as we have loved making it, you will dig it. I think you will.

Right now, as I type, Dan is playing some killer electric guitar on the fastest, rockingest, most uptempo song on the album. And it’s got some different electronic sounds happening on it, too…as Dan just told me, “This is when Folk meets Gaga.” He’s pretty right.

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I cannot express how thrilled I am (but watch me try to express it) about the direction of this EP. It’s got my acoustic guitar on it, which is the backbone of everything I do. It’s strong on electric guitar sounds, which is what I grew up on and love. Then there’s this love for pop music I have been shy about expressing but have had for about 4-5 years now. We are throwing all these things in and it sounds like meeeeeeee! Phew. Onward.

Get in on the Kickstarter here – there’s still time! I’m doing special sneak peeks for backers and of course you get this thing the first possible chance when it’s done!

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First things first…I am Kickstartering my new EP and it is officially LAUNCHED! Let me take a moment to say: “AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

It feels good to get that out because I had a heck of a time wrapping my brain around it. Kickstarter is a wonderful resource for musicians. Basically, for an indie artist (i.e. not backed by major label money), the typical way of making a record is paying up front for everything, either out of pocket or putting things on lots of credit cards. The producer needs to get paid, the mixer, the mastering engineer, the graphic artist for the artwork, the company who prints the physical CDs…all of those people need to be paid. The artist would then hope and pray their sales after the release would make up for the cost and then some.

It’s a model that works but…it’s stressful. Along came Kickstarter and shifted the paradigm. Now artists can ask their community for support before the album is made, so that the expense is not so mind-blowing up front. There’s also the awesome component of bonuses for backers, so the artist can customize packages and offer really unique stuff as a thank you. Yay!

So I’ll say upfront, I was so nervous about making my own video talking about the project. I have made lots of funny and clever things in the past, many of them with Susan Gibson or Elizabeth Wills, or just because I was messing around. Whatever it was, the pressure of attaching it to a piece of art I was working on, or the fact that I grew up Midwestern and Midwesterners are sometimes (SOME OF US) bad about asking for help (but we will ALWAYS bring something to the potluck)…I was having a heck of a time with my video. I mulled it over for MONTHS. I did a draft and I sent it around to a few trusted people (THANK YOU Amy, Anna, Susan, and Heather!). The feedback came back…”Hey, you can do better.” AUGH.

At which point I reverted to 6th grader fist clenching defiance and yelled (to no one except my Lady Gaga poster) “I DON’T WANNA!” But I knew they were right. I could do better, and I needed help. (Thank you Heather…she’s done it before so she’s a Kickstarter pro and also tells me what’s what).

I went over to Susan’s house, mostly to whine and eat brownies, and Susan is awesome and offered to help (she also provided aforementioned brownies). We made a date to meet the next day and do the video. And we did, and it made such a difference to have a friend to help.

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This is the A Team!

It made sense. It always makes a difference to have a buddy to help. Whether it’s making a video, making an album (I couldn’t do anything on the level of what this is going to sound like without Dan), or gathering a whole group of supporters to make this thing happen with joy and humor and good intentions. As stoic and self-reliant as I’d like to be, I’m no island…and it is absolutely okay to ask and receive help. That’s kind of what making it through life on this planet is about.

So here I am, asking that if you dig the music or the blog or the videos or all of it…pre-order this new album. It’s gonna rawk, and I want you to be in on it. I really appreciate it! Be a backer here!

I have to say first of all, my post title made me think of that 4 Non-Blondes song What’s Up, which for YEARS I thought was called “What’s Going On?” because that’s kind of the hook. But no, it’s called What’s Up? Anyway…

Firstly I want to say a big thanks to Brian Thompson over at The DIY Daily Podcast for using my song Resurrection Buzz all week long in his show. I can’t think of a cooler thing to be associated with because his podcast is full of inspiration and thoughtfulness. Check it out. Here’s the September 24th episode:

The other big thing is…I am about to launch the Kickstarter project for MY NEW EP which I START RECORDING NEXT MONTH OH GOOD GRIEF. I am simultaneously excited and really scared, because Kickstarters are those things where it’s ALL OR NOTHING (in all caps like that) and what if I don’t pick the right amount to ask for or maybe people won’t pay attention or…all of the things that freak me out in the middle of the night when I’m hugging my body pillow and practicing breathing exercises.

And then really, as my friends have been telling me…positive thinking rules the world, and I am fortunate to know a lot of nice, supportive people. What I do know is the songs on deck for EP 3 are the best I have ever written. Put that on a Times Square billboard and light it up, because I can stand behind that. Dan’s studio is full of amazing gear and we have some really cool people in mind to play on it, so…it’s going to rock. It will rock. So will the Kickstarter. Get ready.

Over the years I have had several conversations with Dan about finding a style, a personal sense of fashion, a Thing, if you will. I think we all go through stages of Things…some folks stick with one and some change a lot. Some people don’t give it a thought and some obsess. However you do it, you do come out with your own identifiable and predictable markings, to put a biological bent on it.

Dan has shared with me some of his process, and described how he pinpointed a few folks out there in the world that he wanted to emulate for his personal style…choosing icons is a big help in narrowing down what you’re looking for. Theoretically you will be drawn to things that suit your personality, which is a big first step. There’s a lot of options out there. A LOT…and I have looked at a lot of them. I have quickly dismissed a ton of them. Figuring out which ones I like, however, took a while.

A lot of times I’ll admit to accidentally dressing how I do. My identifiable markings have been flip flops and ironic tee shirts for quite some time, and while I don’t plan to give those up completely, it’s been gnawing on me lately to figure something else out that suits the various situations I find myself in. I operate as a business professional, a tour manager, a singer-songwriter, a twenty-something, a nerd, and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment.

I do know I’m too lazy to switch looks in those different contexts. I’m not going to step into a phone booth after I play a set and switch to tour manager clothes. Nope. Whatever I’m working with has to fit all those contexts, which will ideally end up reflecting the core of who I am. This sounds heavy but it’s actually a lot of fun. I spent some time this weekend figuring it out.

First I gutted my closet of stuff I hadn’t worn in a long time and had no intention of wearing again. I also got rid of quite a few t-shirts. Some were a little too ironic. I kept quite a few, but one goal is to be more selective so that the t-shirt is a choice and not an obligation.

Then I found the holy grail for this particular project…Evernote. You can clip things like links and photos and save them in folders online to refer to later.  Brilliance.  I started by picking my Big Three…people whose style I love but isn’t too far out of my reach. I’m not here to copy, just adapt. This made it a little easier to be open to possibilities. My Three surprised me but I’m happy with them.

1. Kathleen Edwards. Folk-rocker extraordinaire. Canadian. Pretty simple. Wears t-shirts.  Scarves. Kicks butt and takes names.  Cool shoes. I’m in.

2. Terri Hendrix. I almost feel like I’m cheating because I know Terri personally, but she is always wearing something cool. Her accessories are always perfect. She always makes a statement at her shows via her fashion.

Terri Hendrix
Photo by Kingsnake!

3. Wild Card! I figured I had to go Hollywood with one of these, because the alternate route would be Politician and no one wants that. I was standing in line to check out at Target the other day and suddenly found my third…Portia de Rossi. I knew her from being on the hilarious and tragically short-lived Arrested Development and Better Off Ted series, and I knew her as a pretty glam red carpet walking star. The photo I saw in the tabloid was one of those creepy paparazzi on the street things, and the ensemble was simply cool…boots, hoodie, bracelet, everything looked pretty low key but worked.  Look at the one below…t-shirt…BLAZER!  Brilliant.  I don’t know if I can pull of that pointy of a shoe.

Anyway, this is a work in progress.  Mostly because I have bookmarked a ton of shoes on Zappos.com and can’t afford them yet.  I’m sure I’ll find some other things to draw from.  I noted almost everyone I dig wears a lot of scarves.  I may have to move to a colder climate to maximize my love of layering and desire to wear scarves.  Who knows.

The point?  Regardless of whether you’re in it for stage wear or business wear or you just want to know what to wear…this is a fun exercise.  It can lead you down some unexpected roads.

I guess the last point is, when seeking inspiration, you can look at the tabloid photos but don’t touch them or read them or buy them.

Well, not the bad ones. Kick those bad connections to the curb before they suck the life out of you.

I’m talking about the mental filing cabinet of folks you know, because it’s really fun to flick through the files every so often and pull out two people and stick them together. Good friends do that for me and I try and do it for them.

I was musing today on the connection of Dan at Rubicon and my ex-neighbor, Jim. Jim moved to Austin about 6 months after I did and we became fast friends because we both play guitar. He plays fancy things like jazz and he reads notes and stuff. He was also working as a carpenter, and eventually he started his own company.

Dan met Jim along the way of course so flash forward to now and Jim just finished a gorgeous renovation to the Rubicon Studio. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but there used to be no window there. Now we have full vision between every room in the studio for tracking, and a much more open space that feels right. Even the doors have windows! He also built the awesome porch out front that we sit on all the time.

Rubicon Recording Studio

Point being, I might have easily just referenced Jim in my filing cabinet first under “friend” and “guitarist”…but that’s not the extent of Jim at all. Makes me want to go back and personally inventory everyone I know, just to make sure I’m not missing their talent. Life is cool.

Mojo Plug

PS: Dan also had a Mojo connection put in. We can literally plug in and dial in more mojo. Sometimes you need that.