Someone asks what I do. I answer:

a) "I'm a software developer"
b) "I'm a fashion merchandising student"
c) "I'm a musician"

For me, all of the above are true. But which is the one I am most likely to say?

If you guessed (c), go to the head of the class.

(a) is what I do for a living. (b) is what I am doing in school. But (c) is who I am. It's how I see myself. And more and more, it's all I want to be.

When people ask that question, they're not usually asking who you are. They're not even asking what you do. They're asking what you do for a living, what you do for your primary income. Sometimes they will even phrase the question as "what do you do for a living." In many cases, what a person does for a living would also be their primary identity. But not in all cases. So really, it can be a problematic question. In my case, I appreciate what I do for a living because I like my job, I like to do it well, and I like my salary. But it feels irrelevant to me as an answer to a question about what I do, because asking what someone does is asking for at least a clue as to who they are.

Depending on who is asking, elaborating on "I am a musician" by saying that I play guitar and write songs for a rock band might earn me a dismissal. I'm not a trained musician. I didn't go to music school. I don't play for a symphony orchestra or even in a jazz combo. I can read music, but that's not what I do when I play rock and roll.

Saying you play rock and roll, unless you're at the level of someone like, say, Bono, is still somewhat akin to saying that you were an actor in Shakespeare's time. There's a reason the Globe Theatre was in Southwark, the disreputable south bank of the Thames. Even though rock music now rules much of the musical world, it's never going to get the respect that "real" forms of music get. (And thank goddess for that, because if it did it would cease to be rock music.)

Even though I have minimal formal training as a musician (do piano lessons when I was a child and trombone lessons in high school count?), I have a lifetime of experience. I have been playing and writing music since I was about nine. I have performed solo, in a duet, and in bands. I have played in original bands and cover bands. Original bands I have been in have had articles written about them and songs played on the radio. I have produced records.

My current band, Lisa's Hotcakes, is still a net consumer and not a producer of revenue. But we have been in existence for not even a year. We have played live several times. We have a show coming up next month and more in the works. We have just released our first recording, an EP called Love Hz, available as a digital download (not as cool a CD or especially vinyl these days, but still legitimate). We are a known quantity in certain circles around town, and slowly we are widening those circles.

I am more comfortable now with saying that I am a musician, or at least a guitar player and songwriter. It's not something I "identify as." It's what I am, because it's what I do. At times in the past, it has been more of a claimed identity than an actual one. It's all well and good to say you "identify as" something, but it's much better to actually be that something. There's a lot less 'splainin' to do. And the last thing I ever want to be is a poseuse.

Being a musician is what I have striven for, what I have worked for, and what I have achieved. But I am nowhere near done yet. I want the Hotcakes to keep doing better and better. You never know what will happen with a band, but we'll do our best. Beyond that, I want to expand my own musical horizons. I already write songs that aren't really right for the band, and I would like to turn that into a genuine songwriting career. That will require more writing, probably one or more co-writers to work with, and a lot of marketing. I would also like to produce music that is not my own. That will require even more work, possibly an internship and certainly a lot of learning. But the alternative is to wish that I had done all this. Much better to die knowing that you did or at least tried to do cool stuff rather than wishing you had.


Love Hz unbound

To stream the entire Love Hz EP by Lisa's Hotcakes:

"Don't Want You Back" is an eff-you song:

"Paralyzed" is a song about a woman in an abusive relationship from the point of view of a friend trying to help her:

Never quite sure what "Paradise" is about because Sweetie wrote it:

"Secrets" is about a friendship between two women:

You can download Love Hz for free (or the price of your choice) from our Bandcamp site.


I record, therefore I am

On Friday evening, October 12, my band Lisa's Hotcakes loaded equipment into a studio officially named the Hive Creative Labs but which everyone calls the Hive. We decided to record at the Hive with engineer Jesse Gander because every time we asked friends in bands for a recommendation, both the studio and Jesse came up. Among other things, he was said to be very fast, which we needed since we had booked only 20 hours and wanted to record four songs. Twenty hours might sound like a lot, but it's definitely not.

Thanks to our own preparation and Jesse's skill, we came out with five songs: a four-song EP called Love Hz and one bonus track. The EP is available for free on Bandcamp. Some people elect to pay us anyway. We send the bonus track to them.

I won't go into the whole process. It would not be interesting to anyone except musicians and recording studio geeks, of which I am both. It's demanding in a different way than playing live on stage. Our drummer and singer had never recorded songs before, and they came through with flying colours.

But please, listen, download, and share widely. We're a little band from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We do this for love. Someday maybe we'll do it for money, but at this point, we mostly want to be heard by as many people as possible.

I write software for a living. I am studying fashion merchandising because I love fashion but also with an eye toward practicality. But these days when someone asks me what I do, I say that I play guitar for Lisa's Hotcakes, or that I am a musician. Because even though I don't make my living playing music, a musician is what I am. It's the most "me" thing that I do. When I play, my guitar, my amp, and I become one. I play because I must. I sing because I must. I write songs because I must. And because there is nothing in the world I love more.



...does not make a blog audience's heart grow fonder.

I have been remiss! I haven't posted anything since the post about the Amanda Palmer experience. May I offer a couple of excuses?

One is that my high school class reunion was the weekend before last. Not saying which reunion it was, only that it ended with a zero. I had to fly all the way across the country and the border and then drive for a couple of hours to get there. I had been somewhat apprehensive. High school wasn't always the best time for me, and previous reunions had had their ups and downs. But this one was wonderful! Truly. And I reconnected with a woman who had always been a friend but now is among my besties. You know how much I value friendship.

Even the packed flights were OK. On one, I finished a song. On another, I read all of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. On the way back, I reread part of Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth. And got some much-needed sleep (sort of, it being airplane sleep).

Then this past weekend, I was in a recording studio with my band, Lisa's Hotcakes. Indeed, many days leading up to that weekend were taken up with rehearsals of various kinds and other related tasks (such as buying and changing guitar strings). We spent about 22 hours in the studio setting up, recording all the parts, and then mixing and mastering. That's hardly any time, but it's all we could afford right now. Fortunately, we were well prepared, and we were working with a great engineer, so we made very good use of the limited time. The result is a download-only EP called Love Hz, available for free (unless you want to pay) on our Bandcamp site. The initial response has been very encouraging!

Oh, and sprinkled in there were my Merchandising Fashion course and an assignment I finished at the last minute, since I am a horrible procrastinator. As well, I did a bit of volunteer work for Eco Fashion Week, and that's what is going to take up much of the rest of this week.

So I'll have to get back to you when I have time. I really want to. My brain thinks of all kinds of things to write about even when I don't have the time to sit down and compose a blog post.

One thing I've been thinking about came out of a post by someone whose blog I started following only recently. In her blog A Girl's Imagination, Lauren was thinking that her blog might lack focus. Well, I know mine does. It's a blog about whatever I like. Some people read those, especially if the writer is really good and/or funny, but it seems to me that it's usually a better idea to do a blog about one topic. So...should I split this blog into one about music, another about fashion (maybe restart my Tumblr blog, long wave, or continue one I did for my course assignment), perhaps one about politics and feminism? Or should I continue to be unfocused and call it being eclectic?