When I was little, I thought a person’s career was programmed into them at birth. It never occurred to me that we each have a degree of choice when it comes to what we do for a living. As far as I knew when I was four, chefs are born chefs, comedians are born comedians, and scientists are born scientists – and I was sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was born to be a rockstar.
I had my doctor phase, and then I thought I’d be a visual artist, or maybe a writer. (Far as I can tell, that’s the closest I ever came to accurately predicting my career.) But in the back of my mind, the music was always there, beckoning to me. Calling my name. There are already pianos out there that I’m going to play for huge crowds someday, I used to think, shivering in anticipation.
And I knew in my soul I’d get recognized, eventually.
I waited for the opportunity to come knocking on my door.
No one was knocking.
I went to a huge pretentious arts university in Southern California.
My doorstep remained empty.
In my first year as an undergrad, I failed to hook a big-time producer or talent agent into my world, and my music stayed obscure, gathering just a few listens from friends on Soundcloud. So, I came back home to Colorado, heartbroken because my dream of publishing and performing music was seemingly shattered. (Actually, I came home because I got mono, but that part of the story isn’t as sexy.) But I just knew the music I’d written was good.
And, as I’ve been realizing recently, I also know that no one is going to hear it unless I put it out into the world myself. Regina Spektor says that some of us are performers, and some of us are part of the audience. “It’s not your choice, it’s how you’re built, it’s in the blueprints of your soul.”
So I bought a microphone last month.
“Borrowing” the mic stand that I accidentally ended up with in my last breakup (you know what? He got my TV and my Kindle, so screw him), I set up a little recording studio in my bedroom at my parents’ house. I’ve got a rug to absorb echoes, a little $7 pop filter, and a laptop with a free music editing program. And I’ve been recording my songs.
It’s rewarding, but it’s hard.
There’s a lot of ambient noise on the farm where I live: family moving around, strong Colorado winds, goats bleating. (Check out the new album by Zoe Plait, featuring the lovely ungulate sounds of Clayton the goat.) But with the help of amateur YouTube tutorials, I’m learning to edit background noise out of my recordings, make them loud and pretty, and even mix tracks by myself. The joy I feel when I finally hit that high note and play it back to myself from the recording is worth all the frustration. It’s better than anything.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to perform my songs in front of the cheering masses, or if my soon-to-be-released EP will only accumulate a dozen listens on Bandcamp, most of them from my grandma (love you, Grandma). But the messages in the songs are so important to me, and the story of love they tell is one I’ve been trying to spread into the world since I was a child. I have to get them out of me. If I don’t, I’ll never know what might have happened if I had.
October Morning, my first EP, will be available on Bandcamp on October 17th, 2018.
Sing us out, Regina.
“Something to being one of the many
Who get to sing the songs on the jukebox,
Who get to stay awake all night
And dream half of the day.
Something to waking up in a new town,
Something to playing songs for a new crowd,
Something to being surrounded by others
And not alone by yourself.”