The Art of Anger
Updated: Jan 17
I’ve been on a productive spree lately, and my day job and in my music. My EP recording has been chugging along, I’m making progress and finishing songs and for the first time in a long time I’m starting to feel like I’m going to pull this thing off.
Today is payday so hallelujah I’m back in black, Cue the AC/DC. It’s my job to budget better and make sure it stays that way. By the grace of God I got my bank to refund all three $35 late fees I got, which was a pleasant surprise and saved me $105. I did have to spend a lot immediately though. I had to pay off what was overdrawn, my utility bill, my new apartment application fee (we’ll get into that later) and I finally picked up my Dandelion dress from the seamstress. (That ended up being more expensive than I anticipated.) Lucky for me this is my “bonus money” paycheck (the one on the part of the month where I don’t have to pay a majority of my bills) so I have a bit of breathing room. I need to make sure I’m being disciplined though. No ordering food for delivery, no impromptu pink drinks this month. I have a hair appointment coming up which will cost a good chunk of change, and I'm also shooting my cover art next weekend and I’ll have to pay someone to do my makeup. Lucky for me my roommate isn’t charging me for her photography (I helped with harmonies on her latest track) which is a huge burden lifted off me.
I’m also proud of how I’ve become a more seasoned recording artist. Today’s session proved a little more challenging vocally, but I didn’t let a rough start derail everything. I didn’t let my thoughts spiral and ruin the rest of the session. This is something that definitely would have happened a couple of years ago.
We were working on the second verse of my song “What I’ve Got.” The first verse came relatively easily last week, so I thought this session would go similarly. That wasn’t the case though. For some reason, the pitch and the energy just weren’t there. After doing a lot of takes and not feeling satisfied, we tabled that section and started working on something else.
At this point, a younger me would start feeling really insecure and getting down on myself, and this would cause the following takes to sound worse, which would make me feel even worse, and the whole thing would just spiral.
Instead, I made the choice to feel determined and to hype myself up. Telling yourself “come on, I know you can do it!” is really underrated, because it works.
After doing better on the other section, my producer comped together the verse from what we had. it was fine, but I knew it could be better. Having a solid version to fall back on gave me the confidence to attack that part again in order to fill in the missing pieces. This time my energy and pitch were there and we got what we needed to make the section strong.
Advice to other artists: your producer can make or break your music. Not only do they have to have a good ear, but they also need to be good at giving you directions, creating an environment that makes you feel safe enough to make mistakes and try different things creatively, and managing your emotions as the artist. Lucky for me, I got fired from an ice cream shop one night and met one who excelled in all of these things. We make a great team, and I always wonder what my musical journey would have looked like had I not gotten fired that morning. Life is crazy.
I'm hoping the rest of the month runs this smoothly. My anxiety is telling me something is bound to set me back but I’m trying my best to ignore that voice in my head. If we keep marching along smoothly and all goes according to plan I should be able to have everything done by my release date. Now all I need to do is plan the party.
I slept for an entire day today. It is now 2:12 am and I am finally finding some chill over a bowl of Alfredo pasta after freaking out all day between naps.
Everything with my EP is getting really real, which is exciting, but also scary. It’s really scary financially.
If I didn’t have a hair appointment this month, I’d have a bit of money going into my next paycheck. Instead, I’m going to have to clean myself out again.
Lately taking care of everything I need for my music project has felt like doing laundry. No matter how many loads I get done, it’s inevitable that there will be another. It’s a cycle that never ends.
I actually don’t even have enough to cover the cost of my hair this weekend, but my hairdresser (who I’ve been with for a long time) made a deal with me for the shoot, so I’ll be paying the rest of it Friday with an extra tip. The thing is, this Friday’s paycheck is going to my bills, so I really won’t have any money to spend on anything else until September 9th.
This also means I won’t have enough money to get my makeup done for the photo shoot, which is a bummer. I obviously want to look my best for these things and I have had professional makeup for every other shoot. I barely know how to do my own makeup so it really is a confidence boost when someone who knows what they’re doing does it for me. Of the two though, I guess I’d rather have my hair colored.
One solution I may have to this problem is taking out the loan I have been planning to take out to pay for the remainder of this project (marketing, press, music videos, etc.) this is really daunting. I am so close to paying off the original 10k I took out when I first moved here, so after paying so much off, it’s really demoralizing to be what feels like pretty much right back in the financial hole I started in.
When I first moved here I bet on myself a lot more recklessly. I was fresh out of college and hadn’t had a lot of full-time work experience or much experience paying my own bills. After almost four years here, I am still determined but do feel a lot more worn down. Back then my mindset was this: I moved to Nashville to make it in music so that is what I’m going to do. I need $10k to do that so I’m going to take this loan out and figure out the rest later. I didn’t care (or honestly fully understand) that it was a ridiculously high-interest rate. I didn’t care that I had to eat bean burritos every day because it was the only thing I could afford. Nothing was going to stop me.
This is the perfect example of wisdom not really being helpful. A lot of times all it gives you is more things to be anxious about.
I feel kind of bad about not being the person I was when I first got here. What happened to "whatever it takes?"
But the reality is the person I am today has been through a lot more than that person who just got here. I’ve survived a pandemic for crying out loud. I’ve had panic attacks, and I’ve had severe burnout. I know better than to push myself beyond my limits. Right now that hesitancy feels cowardly like I’m making excuses. Since when was it okay to believe in limits? Still, I’m trying to convince myself it will be better for my long-term success if I’m real with myself and put some boundaries on the sacrifices I’m willing to make for this.
I can’t be working two jobs anymore. I’ve learned all that does is create stress levels I can’t handle. What I can do is maybe throw in an extra job once or twice a week. I think I could handle waitressing two nonconsecutive days of the week if it means I’m able to pursue my music goals. This is a reasonable sacrifice. I’ve thought about freelancing but I’ve canceled enough side projects to know that if I am going to take on extra work to afford this, it needs to be one that doesn’t require much brain power. I need to save my creativity for my music.
I also need to have enough disposable income for a social life. I don’t need to do anything crazy, but I can’t drain myself so much that I’m stuck at home all day. That, much like burnout, takes too much of a toll on my mental health to be worth it in the long run. I need to be able to grab dinner or drinks with friends or do an activity or see a show.
I also need to have a comfortable living situation. Luckily, this is already taken care of. My roommate and I are moving out of our apartment this month and although the complex we're moving to isn’t as nice as our current one, it is still comfortable and cozy, has decent amenities, and most importantly, is not too far away from downtown. In fact, it is in East Nashville which is my favorite area of town and also where my boyfriend lives. This is a reasonable sacrifice.
I would never discourage any artist from going for their dream 100 percent because it did work for me when I first moved here. It got me where I am today. What I will say is, allow yourself some flexibility in what it means to “give it your all.” What you consider “your all” or what you are reasonably willing to give will probably evolve over time, and that’s ok. I want to believe that’s okay. I want to believe being willing to give less doesn’t make me any less determined ore brave, but maybe it makes me more strategic.
I don’t want to be making decisions reasonably based on fear. I don’t want to lose that recklessly determined part of myself. But I also have a better understanding now of what it takes to make it in the long run. Making it in music is a marathon, not a sprint. Some conservation is necessary. It doesn’t mean my desire to win has lessened, it just means I have a better grasp on what it really takes to make it to the finish line and I’m pacing myself accordingly.
So I got approved for the loan, and after emotionally processing the initial panic that comes with borrowing that much money, it was actually fairly easy to dive headfirst into professionally planning this EP rollout.
The first thing I did was pay my producer the remaining $2900 for the music itself. I didn’t want to have that sitting in my account tempting me to spend it before it gets to him. It felt good to tie up at least a small aspect of the many loose ends I have going into the final stretch of this project.
I then took the bits of free time I could find throughout my day to start building the other puzzle pieces of this release. I got in touch with a PR agency. I’ve looked into pitching for radio. I talked over my options with a videographer for a music video. I’ve been going back and forth with my session player to find a rehearsal date for the release show. Oh yeah, I found a venue for the release show if I forgot to mention that earlier.
I feel like I’ve got a table full of spinning tops, and it’s taking everything I have to keep up the momentum for all of them.
Most recently, we completed my cover art photoshoot. This was a huge hurdle to overcome because in the days leading up to it I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to afford to get my hair and makeup done. The day of, it had been thunderstorms all afternoon. I was very proud of myself for not freaking out. Maybe it’s my fully developed frontal lobes kicking in, but I just decided to surrender to the things I can’t control and actively chose to feel like I could make the best out of the situation and figure it out no matter what (even though I had no plan B and at this point still don’t know what I would have done.) I said a little prayer to my recently passed uncle and asked if there was any way to control the weather from the other side and if he could please do it or put in a good word with the big man. Everything cleared up by the time we went to go shoot and it’s comforting to think maybe he had something to do with it.
The photoshoot went great. There’s something extraordinary about finally seeing your ideas come to life in a tangible way. I’ve had this vision of what this EP was going to look and sound like, but you can never really be sure if the concept works in real life until you try it. Suddenly everything I’d imagined for the past two years was coming to life before me. This process is very stressful most of the time, but this moment was thrilling. If you’re an artist trying to pull off a big project, taking the time to soak in these special moments is very important for morale. It gives you the energy and courage to keep going.
I’ve got the artwork picked out for my two singles, but pp until recently (4 am today) I was not sure what my cover art was going to be. It’s a very important decision.
I narrowed my choices down to three pictures that I liked for different reasons. I then sought opinions from trusted friends.
The consensus was around a photo that had actually caught my eye from the start. It is arguably the most beautiful photo of the bunch, and that would have been perfect if that’s what I was going for.
But I realized a couple of minutes ago that it’s not what I was going for. Up until this moment, I was going to post the photos to social media and more or less let the public decide which photo was best, but I figured they would probably lean towards the pretty one too.
The problem with that, I realized, is a lot of these people are looking at these photos without the context of the music it’s representing, particularly the title track, Dandelion.
The first line of the song Dandelion is this, “pretty little flowers on a windowsill never looked like them cause you can’t sit still.”
The photo everyone liked may be the prettiest photo, but it is not capturing the spirit of the dandelion metaphor. I look more like a pretty little flower in that picture, and ironically it’s probably why people like it best.
I was up listening to my music instead of sleeping (as I do) and on a whim, I decided to listen to Dandelion, and take some time to look at each photo as the song played. Doing this exercise made it abundantly clear which photo captures the essence of the song, and the project as a whole.
The businesswomen in me sees a missed opportunity in not taking this decision to social media. I am missing out on a way to engage with my audience and build interest in the project. I’m still struggling with that as I type this. That voice is saying, “it’s just a picture. So what if you have to sacrifice a little bit of artistic integrity to bring people in and help the music be heard? Isn’t that worth it?"
Through this entire process, I am constantly having to walk the line between artist and business person. There are many instances where the businessperson wins, but this is not one of them.
I am being a very good businesswoman when it comes to managing my budget from this loan. There are a lot of things I'd like to do with this money that I know won’t be as effective in marketing my project (like wanting to buy ad space on the Nashville sign downtown or make four different music videos) but realistically, unless I miraculously acquire more ad spend, I can’t do it all. So I need to be disciplined and resourceful. I need to get the most bang for my buck.
I’ve got a lot of strategy and money backing the marketing of this project. Because I have the dollars dedicated to it already, I can afford to make one less TikTok in the name of my artistic integrity. I can sleep peacefully tonight (at 4:34 am) about making this decision.
Welp, I knew it couldn’t be that easy.
Today I woke up to a text from my producer and the conclusion of that conversation was that we will need to push back all of my release dates.
This is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, seeing nobody else knows these dates beside me, but it still feels like a bit of a failure. I can’t reschedule my release party because I’ve got family coming to town, so I will have to morph it into a “pre-release party.” That date is now going to be the release date of the second single.
I feel the anxiety creeping in again, that voice in my head saying that my project is never going to get finished or see the light of day. I’m doing my best to tune it out and carry on.
Today I also got a text from my drummer saying that he can no longer play my release show. Again, not the biggest deal in the world, he can find me a replacement, but it’s just another thing I need to figure out on top of all of the other things I need to finish up. It’s exhausting.
My session is canceled tonight because my producer needs to spend some time independently cleaning up the singles and preparing them for the mix and master. As much as I want to keep the ball rolling I’m feeling relieved. I’m tired. I’m going to take a nap now.
I don’t even know how to start this so I’m just gunna say it. I lost my day job today.
I’m so tired of this. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so defeated. I’m right on the brink of finishing my EP and this happens? Are you ******* kidding me?
All I ever do at these jobs is have good intentions and put my best foot forward. I go all in on whatever it is because I can’t help myself, I’m a passionate person and a hard worker, and it never matters. It never matters because this working world we live in is ****** up.
Do you know why I was fired? Because apparently, I wasn’t making work a priority. Well, **** you. Work shouldn’t be a priority. Living life should be a priority. Work is work, and as far as work goes, I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing and more, and it still wasn’t enough.
I felt all the emotions today, shock, sadness, pain, fear, but I think the one I’ve decided to settle on is rage. **** this. **** my stupid boss, **** that stupid company, and **** all the corporate overlords in this world who expect our life’s purpose to be making them rich so THEY don’t have to work but if we don't want to dedicate every waking moment to their bonus then WE'RE lazy? **** YOU.
I don’t want to be a part of it anymore and I’m not going to be. I’m not sure how, but I’m going to figure something out or I’m going to lose my mind. Maybe I’ll just dedicate myself to social media and try to become a full-time content creator. Maybe my EP will take off and I’ll get famous and won’t even have to worry about it, who knows? All I know is I can’t get back into this cycle. It does not work.
I want to burn it all down, but I’m just one person. The best thing I can do is go out and succeed on my own, and that’s what I plan to do.
I always tell myself these things are blessings in disguise. I try to remember when I got fired from the ice cream shop and thought my world was ending when in reality it was the universe aligning so that I could meet the producer who would bring my first four songs to life.
I feel very much like I’m back to where I was when I was new to Nashville. I’d just taken out a huge loan to do my music and I lost my job. I made it through then and I know I will make it through now. I’m just tired of having to do this. I don’t need the movie about my life to be this dramatic. I wouldn’t mind a bad review then if it means I get to experience some ease now.
What this is allowing me right now is more time to finish my EP, which is good. Maybe it was necessary, that’s what I’m choosing to believe. This needed to happen because something better than I could have ever imagined is coming.
As an artist in this scenario, you have to tell yourself these things and make yourself believe them because it would be so easy right now to just give it all up. So tell yourself this even if you don’t believe it entirely. Repeat it enough until you do.
Your day job should never be your priority in life, even if you aren’t an artist, but especially if you are. Our real job is so much bigger and so much more important than that.
Do you know what I did all day to help process these emotions instead of driving my car off a bridge? I blasted music. I blasted music that made me feel like I wasn’t alone, that sat with me through my pain, that burned with me through my anger, and that inspired me to keep going once the embers of the previous had subsided. That is why I do what I do, and in such a ****** up world, providing people that kind of release and empathy is the best thing you can do apart from actually changing things. But then again, you need something to inspire you to believe things can get better, and that’s where music comes in again.
I’m gonna ******* get there. I have no idea how but I am going to make it happen, even if it’s completely out of spite at this point because once again, **** them.
"dandelion, won’t you stop your crying, You were sent to brighten up the world my girl they’ll never hold you back" 💛
This is the first time since moving here that I honestly feel like I can’t handle this anymore.
Like even at my worst when I first moved here, there was still that firey part of me that was going to figure it out. That’s gone right now.
I’m supposed to be moving tomorrow and I haven’t packed anything. I’m not going to. It’s overwhelming.
I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to be anywhere. I don’t want to be anyone. I just wanna sit under my covers and be miserable by myself and I can’t even do that because I’m getting kicked out of my apartment.
The one upside to all of this ********* is the fact that it’s translating well into my music. Thankfully we left the one angry song and the one super sad song for recording last. I really thought the angry song was going to be challenging vocally and was concerned I wouldn’t bring the right energy to it, but this changed all that. We lit the room red and I closed the door behind me in the vocal booth and just let it all out. We breezed through it. In a year from now when I’ve hopefully mellowed out about this and am in a better place, I doubt I’ll be able to replicate that performance. You’ll hear it when it comes out…. If it ever comes out.
My release date is getting pushed back again. Taylor ******* Swift just announced she’s releasing her NEW album on October 21st, the new release date we planned.
Here’s why that’s a problem. For one, a lot of the fans that I have are huge swifties, that’s just a fact considering I’ve gained a lot of my following on TikTok doing Taylor swift related content. Between the two of us, they’re gonna be streaming her album nonstop. Hell, I’m going to be streaming her album nonstop.
The second issue is the fact that I’m investing a lot in press coverage. I am working with an agency so I can get coverage from more notable outlets (Like Rolling Stone for example) and earn verification on social media. Those big outlets will naturally be focused on writing articles about Taylor Swift’s new album so it’s less likely that I’ll be picked up. It’s hard enough for a small independent artist to be picked up even on a boring day, so this needs to be extremely strategic.
It was already incredibly nerve-wracking to take the loan money out to make this investment. At this point, it doesn’t even feel like it’s going to be worth it. At this point, I’m kind of wishing I just recorded the music and put it out without promo and just had fun with it. I have no idea how I’m going to pay for anything in the coming months if unemployment doesn’t kick in soon.
I don’t have the energy to go find another job. I don’t know what that job should even be. Nothing works. I have a lot of skills but for some reason, I can't figure out how to be a good worker. Maybe it's because I'm not supposed to be. This means I have to build something instead, and that is what I hopefully am doing, but I don't know how to pay to live in the meantime. This is why a lot of people in arts and entertainment that DO succeed do so because they had rich parents or connections in the industry to begin with.
I’m tired of all of this. I don’t want to do it anymore. Why does the world make being an artist so hard? All these galaxies and this is how we’ve decided to live?
**** that stupid company and that stupid job that, yeah, rightfully isn’t my priority. Looking back I’m upset I made it as much of a priority as I did because they didn’t deserve it. I made sacrifices for this company only for them to turn around and throw me away like trash.
Your time is your most valuable asset. Spend it on the people and things that will actually matter to you at the end of your life. Your job that capitalism forces you to have to exist shouldn’t be one of them. They’re a dime a dozen and no one above you at those places gives a single **** about your existence unless they can exploit it for profit.
I honestly want to quit music right now but I can’t quit because I literally am not good at anything else so there’s that.
So today isn’t better, but at least it’s functional. I was able to actually have some conversations/breakdowns with people close to me, and that seemed to help.
I have a tendency to bottle everything up and then it just comes out angry, which doesn’t help and isn’t fair. The thing is, kind of like in the movie Inside Out, sadness is necessary. It’s an alert to the people around you that something is wrong and they should offer love and support. The thing is, I don’t really like being helped. It makes me feel like a burden on people and I should just be able to take care of things myself. I’d never feel that way if roles were reversed, and I know that it doesn’t make sense, but that’s just how it feels natural.
I’ve got a long day ahead of me, and I’m probably going to feel like ****, but at least it feels doable, which wasn’t the case yesterday.
Oh also, I’m not going to quit music. That was a bit melodramatic of me to say, but it’s also a real thought that happened, so I had to include it. That’s the point of this anyway, that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows out here.
Once I’m moved into this new place, I think things will simmer back down. I’ve got a session on Friday. We’re gonna finish up making this music. I’m not going to pressure myself with deadlines anymore. It’s kind of symbolic of a new beginning.
I know at the end of the day all of this is a blessing in disguise somehow. The thing is I’m a bit tired of blessings in disguise. I'd like to just skip the disguise and go straight to the blessings from here on out. Do you hear that universe?
On the music front, my producer got the pedal steel recorded for two songs, which is cool. It’s all gonna come together. Maybe not how I originally planned and it may not be entirely what I wanted but it will come together one way or another. I just gotta keep going.
Sitting here stressed in my Uhaul and saw a homeless guy on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign. Puts things into perspective. I know all feelings are supposed to be valid or whatever, but the fact of the matter is things could be worse. I could be homeless. I’ll never be homeless. I should be feeling grateful to have a home and for everyone around me who would gladly step in if I ever fell that far.
The moment I walked into my old apartment all of that perspective vanished. I’m just resenting everything and everyone. I’m trying my best not to lash out at my friends. They don’t deserve it. So I’m just keeping quiet.
I’m alone now. Trying to pack things up. Slowly but surely. I look forward to the day that this day is a distant memory. Till then it’s going to be a long night. I’m more capable of facing it today than I was yesterday but that’s not saying much.
Soo… that was a lot. I bet a lot of you are probably feeling reasonably concerned about my well-being after reading that, so here comes the disclaimer. I'm not going to post something unless I already feel safe and on some level, moved beyond what I'm posting about.
When I started this blog I started it because I wanted it to paint a REAL picture of what chasing a dream in this world and in this business, looks like. Most of the time, whether it be on social media, in interviews, or carefully curated content on any medium, these things are airbrushed. Everyone around you seems to be succeeding all the time and making it work somehow, but I’m sure if my peers were to write their every thought down too, their diary would probably look similar to mine.
This **** is tough, and I started this blog because I didn’t want to sugarcoat that. I didn’t want to be another retouched story for people to read and feel like they could never measure up to. I want to be a reason people know it's hard but still decide to go for it.
It’s kind of like what I wrote in my song Rome. It’s a lot more eloquent with a poppy beat but I mean…
Sometimes I just wanna lay on the floor
Sometimes I don’t wanna try anymore
I’m lonely and I’m broke oh so far away from home
Sometimes I just wanna throw in the towel
I haven’t been myself in a while
I’m scared and unprepared…
And then of course the positive spin comes in.
One thing’s for sure… three years into this town even going through the worst of the worst at least I’m not lonely.
I have great people around me who are willing to help, even if I’m being moody or having a meltdown, that’s something I’m grateful for. That counts for something. It means everything.
Today was a lot better day. I even enjoyed myself for the first time in a long time.
After moving all of my things from point A to point B, the worst of the stress was over. Today was all about cleaning the old apartment, saying our final goodbye, and bringing back the rest of the remaining stuff.
When we were done my roommate and I treated ourselves to some well-deserved sushi. Our new place is a mess, but even just seeing our couch and our lightbulb in there, it’s already looking cozier and feeling more like home.
What’s exciting about this move is the fact that we’re finally living in our favorite neighborhood, East Nashville. I think I want to stay in this neighborhood from now on, it feels like a good fit.
As far as the music goes, I’m doing my best to pivot and adapt. That’s all I can do. I still have funding at my disposal, and at the very least I’ll have the music done along with a music video and a behind-the-song documentary. As of now, we do not have a release date and my full band show is canceled until further notice. At this point, I just want to focus on having fun and enjoying the process. This is why I didn’t originally want to announce a release date before everything was done anyway. I got too hung up on the project having a seasonal timeframe because it’s called Dandelion. I’ve decided now that doesn’t matter. We may not even release it until January. We’ll see.
All of this feels like an abrupt new beginning at a time I least expected it. I fully expected that I was going to have some financial security and that the big obstacles that faced my project were behind me. I just have to trust that these things are blessings in disguise. I have to remind myself I would have never met my producer if I didn’t get fired that day. Maybe this is just a dramatic way for things to align in my favor.
I’m not ready for what comes next, but I’m going there anyway. The only thing you can do in this business, and this life, is keep going. Even with so much doubt, so much unknown and so much at stake, that is what I am going to do, and I thank you for seeing me through.