GET OUT THERE AND ROCK THE VOTE!
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Friday, August 10, 2012
One summer I visited my grandparents and we went to a mall (because that's what you did in the 90s!) and I walked into a record store carrying my DD song books. The store owner said, "You look like a gal who could appreciate this" and handed me two DD fan club folders FILLED with fan club zines, posters, official membership cards, lyric sheets, pictures... as you can imagine, I nearly cried. I still have all that stuff, safely stored away at my parents house. I was so excited, I showed it all to my grandmother and I remember her saying, "Janice, honey... do you know what this song is about? Skin Trade? Do you know what that means?" haa haa! I had an inkling (not much!), but I could care less. It was all about the music and way Simon sings.
On my 18th birthday I went to my very first Duran Duran concert. August 18th, 1993. I had just finished school and made it to the other side of a 2-year long battle with a rare and debilitating muscle disease. Just the fact that I was once again strong enough to stand (and even kind of dance!) was HUGE for me. When Simon sang Come Undone, "Happy birthday to you..." I remember welling up because it was seriously a very happy birthday for me.
Fast forward.... Last year I did one of my tweets to the twitter gods asking to work with a list of my male vocalist heroes. Of course, Simon was on the list. To my surprise, he RESPONDED. I told him I had just worked with Curt Smith from Tears For Fears, I sent him a link to The Smiths Project. He listened and tweeted his followers about it and STARTED FOLLOWING ME. You can imagine the happy dance in my kitchen at 2am as this was happening while my family was fast asleep!
I asked him if I were to do a DD cover, what would he pick? and he chose "We Need You." I was currently in the middle of creating Patchwork Life so it took me nearly a year to complete his song request. Creating an entire song with just my voice takes a LONG time. I was already staying up til 3am every night and simply could not move any faster on it. Simon was so nice though. I apologized for taking so long and he told me, "Take all the time you need, dear." He let me send him all my CDs to his house in England and, in general, has just been a very supportive guy over the past year. He even tweeted his followers when Patchwork Life came out. I can't say enough nice things about him. He's just a truly stand-up guy.
When I found out DD was playing in my city, I asked if I could give him the finished cover song in person. As luck would have it, he went off twitter for a few weeks while on tour so I wasn't sure it was going to happen. But the day before the show, he told me he had tickets and passes for me. OMFG! So last night my boyfriend Josh and I went to the Mountain Winery, got our passes, called the number to find out where we meet (Oh hi Janice, you're Simon's friend, right? *dies*) and attempted to breathe as I waited in a converted wine cellar waiting room. When Simon came in, he walked straight to me and gave me a big ol' hug and my nervousness disappeared instantly. We talked for a bit and I gave him my cover of We Need You. This is a special song to him, so I hope I did him proud with my cover. (I know you all want to hear the song and, believe me, you will get to... soon. I just want to know the band has listened to it first. OH, the suspense!)
Then we got to take pics with the band. Simon introduced the band to me and told them that I've worked with Curt Smith and created The Smiths Project. It was so amazing to meet Nick, Roger and John and shake their hands!
The rest of the night was spent singing and dancing at the show. One week shy of 19 years since my 18th birthday Duran Duran concert, I welled up again when Simon sang, "Happy birthday to you.." Never in my wildest dreams, in all the years that I've listened to them, did I ever think someday THEY would be listening to me.
Monday, August 6, 2012
My personal goal as I contemplate my live performances is to someday be worthy of opening for TFF. Even if that particular opportunity never happens, it's positive energy in the right direction. If there's something I've learned well over the past few years, it's this: if you concentrate on a worthy goal, and put in the hard work for it, good things will happen. They might be unexpected good things out of left field, but they will happen. Guaranteed.
Our docs are here:
Curt and Janice, sitting in a tree...
Thursday, July 26, 2012
"Those of you who keep an eye (probably from a safe distance) on the music, photos etc that I place on Facebook, Twitter and the like will probably know the name Janice Whaley already. If I keep posting her songs - and I do - it's because I think she's genuinely extraordinary. And now I have a blog, I can go into more detail about why. (Mu-ha-ha, *twirls moustache*, *ties wife to railway line*...)Continue reading article and check out his pics of my music and videos here:
I won't include too much biographical detail here, because Janice has written and blogged extensively - and fascinatingly - about how she got started on her highly individual way of making music. Suffice to say, that when she decided to give it a try, she was armed with two key weapons: a gorgeous and heroically versatile voice, along with a devillish way with a laptop home studio.
The voice is crucial, because Janice's speciality is 'a cappella' - that is, music performed without instruments. Some of you may think of barber-shop quartets, others human beatboxes. This is something else entirely. Giving full reign to her genius for electronica, Janice bends, shapes, loops and layers her voice into an orchestra - to the point where, even though you KNOW the sounds you're hearing are all vocals, you just can't quite believe it."
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Send a small handwritten note of congratulations, (just 2-3 inches like a business card, so there's room for everyone!) I will collect them over the next few months.
No deadline yet. Once RDS announces the re-opening, I'll let you know of the deadline and then I'll get a few Psych fans to affix the notes on a poster that we can send to RDS.
Be as creative as you want with your note! Any kind of paper is fine, just keep in mind the poster might be rolled into a poster tube and/or framed so rigid/textured paper or objects glued on paper might not work well.
Send you note to:
P.O. Box 51405
San Jose, CA 95121
I volunteered my po box so that you could post it anywhere you want without worrying about sending out a fan's actual mailing address. Feel free to share this post!
I love watching people come together in a positive way. I'm a big fan of theater and the sense of community that surrounds the art form so am thrilled to be a part of sending some positive juju to RDS, a deserving group of people who are doing great things to strengthen and build up the LA theater community.
Carrot Cake Ice Cream
Creamy ice cream that tastes like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. YUM.
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked over night to soften
2 8-ounces Galaxy Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative
1 cup carrot juice
1 cup of soy milk
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp imitation butter extract
24 hours prior to making ice cream, put ice cream maker's canister in the freezer and cover raw cashews with water to soak in fridge.
Next day, drain cashews and put them in a food processor. Process until they turn to fine crumbs. Add brown sugar and half of the carrot juice and process again until smooth and creamy. Add remaining ingredients and blend until completely smooth. (If using a small food processor, blend in half the cream cheese and soy milk at a time, pour the batches into a bowl and stir to combine.)
Place the ice cream mixture in the refrigerator and let it chill for 2 hours.
Freeze the ice cream mixture according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Place the soft ice cream in the freezer and chill 2 hours before serving.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
When I was about 5 years old, I loved to sing along to a the Broadway musical Annie on record. I'd bring all my stuffed animals to the living room, line them all up on the couch, and sing to my captive audience every day. One day, my dad came home with a little box. He handed it to me and I opened it to find this microphone inside. He showed me how to plug it into the stereo so I could hear my voice over the recording. I must have used it every day for years.
This was also the first mic I used when I started creating my "multi-track" recordings as a teenager. I'd sing into a tape recorder, then *using a second tape recorder* I'd record myself playing the first recording while singing another. I built up lots of interesting layers that way. Lots of white noise. Lots of love.
I'm really grateful my parents acknowledged the things that were interesting to me and it's something I'm now doing for my son. Who knows which of the things he likes now will be the thing that sticks. It's interesting to think he may already know exactly what he wants to be when he grows up. I know I did. I started plunking out the melodies I heard around me on the piano when I was 2. There was never a doubt that I would be a musician from even further back than I can remember. 35 years later, the desire burns brighter than ever.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
A response to the guy who told me downloading my music for free is not a loss because it's imaginary money I never had in the first place.
Sure, digital files don't seem as tangible as physically stealing an item from the store, but is it lawful to download company's digital work files without their consent and/or upload them to the internet without consequence? Wouldn't you be "stealing information?" STEALING.
The future that awaits me is a very real END TO THE MUSIC if everyone takes my music for free. Even if I want to just "do it for the love of music" it won't be an option if I have to spend all my time doing some other job to survive. In my precarious case, if I can't be paid for all the work I've done, it absolutely stops any more music from happening. It's not selfish to be compensated for the thousands of dollars spent on equipment and thousands of hours I worked over the past few years to create that music.
Album sales are what I use to feed my family. I'm not a record company, I'm not rolling in money like Gaga, I'm just a real person who spends real time on my real art. If you can look me and my 5 year old son in the eye, reach into my wallet and take out $10, while at the same time telling me you really love my music, you are no fan, you are just a selfish person.
To put it simply, how would you feel if people expected you to work very hard on something FOR FREE forever? How many facebook "likes" would it take before you got resentful that none of those people actually bought the music or gave a shit about how hard you work for THEIR benefit?
Music theft is bleeding the body dry and still expecting the heart to beat.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Over the past few weeks, I've been spending more more time contemplating live performance. I'll be starting out with a very stripped-down, MTV-Unplugged-style scenario with just voice, a piano and a looper for creating all my layered vocals (strings, drums, etc!). Live performance will consist of new arrangements of Smiths Project/original tunes and be a unique experience unto itself.
But here's the BIG question-
Out of 71 Smiths Project songs to choose from, which ones would you like to hear live?
What's on your Top Ten Smiths Project Songs List?
Comment below and there's a good chance your requests could become a reality. :)
Friday, June 8, 2012
Having the chance to record 2 hours worth of new material to work with yesterday (courtesy of my son being content to quietly draw pictures while I recorded), the missing pieces of the arrangement have fallen into place. Everything is where I want it, but now the "clean up" begins.
Clean up means I go through every layer and take out breaths, coughs, & neighbor's mariachi music, then I EQ/pan the whole song to add space and clarity. With 50 layers of voice competing for the same frequency range, EQ is a critical step. Once it's all cleaned up I can do more mixing add a little flare with drum fills, and fun little extras.
Lots of hours to go, but I'm really excited to show it to you. My god, last night I was literally jumping for joy when all the pieces came together.
Here is Duran Duran's We Need You:
One of the kickstarter rewards for Patchwork Life at the "Producer" level was a cover song of their choice. I'm thrilled to say two people took me up on it and I'm now working on Memories Fade by Tears For Fears for Rebekah Soboski, and Mary Jane's Last Dance by Tom Petty for Arielle Roberts. So far, I'm just getting the basic structure down but the style is starting to take shape. I've had months to mull them over in my head while Patchwork Life was in its final stages of manufacturing and being shipped out. I have great things planned for these songs!
I want to thank Arielle for giving me an excuse to sing "Oh my my, oh hell yes, honey put on that party dress" Super sexy.
And yes, I HAVE noticed this is my second Tears for Fears cover request off The Hurting album. I do believe people are trying to tell me something. :) Here's a wonderful live version of Memories Fade. Look how cute those boys are!
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Patchwork Life is released today! I just wanted to say thank you all so much for your sweet comments and emails, and for helping me spread the word about it. I’m so proud of how it turned out and I’m so glad that you all love it as much as I do. Click here to buy your copy TODAY! It's also on iTunes! (Pst, you can also ask your local record shop to order it for the store!)
The first review of Patchwork Life hit the internet yesterday courtesy of Adrian Ainsworth who sent in a review to UK's The Word. In it he says,
“On the first few listens, you wonder how she does it. And by then, the fact that it's mostly a capella takes a back seat to the sheer power of the songs. Each track is intricate and hypnotic."
Read the rest here. Thanks Adrian!
For the release of Patchwork Life, I decided this past weekend that I should make a video for one of the songs. Dontcha just love last minute ideas? I chose “It’s Not You, It’s Me” because of how well it's been received by early listeners. It’s definitely one of my favorites from the album and one of my favorites to sing as well.
This song is very much about singing my inner thoughts and feelings, so for the video, I wanted to have a "silent me" and a "singing me" projected onto my face as if you are seeing my inner thoughts. The only problem was: I don’t have a projector. Or a dedicated video camera, for that matter. But what I DID have was a Cannon G7 camera w/ video capabilities…. And believe it or not, I had everything I needed to make my own projector. I made it out of a cardboard box, my son’s magnifying glass, and my cell phone. Technology is a wonderful thing. Over the course of two middle-of-the-nights and armed with a few simple tools, I made this video. Enjoy!
Behold the projector! You can make one, too.
Monday, April 23, 2012
To pre-order, click the buy link above and select Digital or Eco-Friendly CD Wallet from the Pre-Order page. Bandcamp will give you these five songs right now and the rest on May 24th. Physical CDs also ship May 24th.
Today starts the official pre-order for Patchwork Life. I'm so excited to share it with everyone. It's been over a year in the making and I'm so happy with how it has turned out. Most every track was composed with nothing but my voice as the sound source, although I did branch out a little and use a few other samples like piano and drum stick clicks present in the song below called Megalodon.
Many of these songs were ideas that have been floating around in my head for years, some actually have previous recording attempts but were never completed. As with The Smiths Project, I started with the recorded track or musical seeds that I had, and began building off of them. After a few layers of voice, I turn off the original recording so that the real creative process can begin. Each layer of vocals adds a new twits to the recording and takes it further down a path that I could not have imagined. It's really interesting to me to listen to the music take shape because, even in it's most thought out form, it always ends up somewhere new. It's a very organic process, building upon each previous thought until I have something that I feel is done.
There is a general pattern to the songwriting process where I start out very enthusiastic for a few days, get lost in the wilderness for months, and then suddenly the path is found and I realize I'm in my own back yard. There is always a moment where I know the song is done. It's not anything I can put my finger on, I just work on a song until I get that "it's done!" feeling.
Last year, I was able to create 71 songs in one year because I had the luxury of childcare, this year was a different story. The entire album was created while watching my 5 year old. Comparing the process of completing the 71 songs last year to the new songs of Patchwork Life, I'd have to say these 12 songs were much more difficult. The stress of completing songs on a deadline is very different than the stress of not being able to work on the songs. The music was recorded in the wee hours of the morning and the editing/arranging took place at the dining room table, on the front porch, on the couch, where ever I could edit and keep an eye on my son. Honestly, the thing I am most proud of about these new songs is that they got finished at all.
The music is a little bit more experimental and polished than The Smiths Project, although I'd argue that much of it is very similar to last year's work, just with new melodies that you've never heard before. With The Smiths Project, I think I was able to bring people into a more experimental genre than what they would normally listen to, but the familiar melodies were there to ease the shy into the experience. With Patchwork Life, there are no familiar melodies to cling to and I feel there is a little bit more of a leap of faith people need to take in order to give the music a listen. I have faith that these songs can and will grow on even the least experimental of listeners. I have already received great reviews from the kickstarter backers who received advanced copies of the music. I know there is nothing like it. It is filled with true emotions and my passion for music. The strong melodies will take your imagination to new places. Walk around for a bit and soak in the landscape.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Do it to support DIY musicians. Do it for super-creative projects. Do it for the love of Curt Smith. Do it because James Roday wants you to. Do it for baby porcupines.
Here is the latest embroidered art piece for the album, an embroidered ProTools session:
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
These songs were constructed in hundreds of layers in a computer over months and months and I've been trying to wrap my brain around how might accomplish performing these songs live. Not an easy task. So, this piece of gear will connect my voice to Ableton Live and give me instant access to effects and -a big one for me- it will let me instantly drop my voice down several octaves for bass lines. Ableton is meant for constructing loops and arrangements on the fly in a live setting. Between all this new gear, I'm hopping to be able to work up some interesting arrangements for live performance. Now all I have to do is figure out all this new equipment!
Here is my current gear for live performance:
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
The plan was to meet up before Christmas to record James's vocals but Christmas was just too hectic, so we moved it to January. Yesterday, in fact. And I had this *silly idea* that my five year old son Jaden and I would pick up James at the airport without incident (He was SO excited to meet James from "The Smart Man Show"), and we would have a relaxed, fun day at the recording studio. The Gods had other plans. As I got to the airport, my son barfed up banana alll over the back seat. Not being prepared for THAT, I had nothing to clean him up with. So we parked and I took him into an airport bathroom. Then we picked up James in my freshly-barfed-in car. WELCOME TO SAN JOSE! Jaden continued barfing all the way back home. I left James to wander my house and take in the myriad of odd collectibles while I hosed down the car and kid. James was SUCH a good sport about the whole thing!
And THEN we went to Bill Hare's recording studio. (And Jaden barfed a little.)
The actual recording session was smooth sailing. Everything sounded great and James's vocals were perfect. The mastering took no time at all thanks to Bill and visiting engineer Danny Ozment's lightning-speed ProTools skillz. Meanwhile, the newly recovered Jaden was happily playing with Bill's cats and asking James, "Can you stay with us for a zillion days?" and "OH HEY! Where's GUS!!"
"Mom, do we have to give the Smart Man back? I want to keep him!" Well, Jaden, I think we'll let James go home this time. He's probably had enough fun for one day. :/
So, here at last is our song for Curt Smith!
We love you, Curt!! Thank you for being such an awesome and inspirational person in our lives. You *could* choose to be the type of famous rock star who doesn't interact with fans but you embrace us, care about the new people you meet, and continuously put good energy into the universe. We are all the richer for having you in our lives.
Janice and James
Thanks to Revital for making a behind the scenes video out of the footage I sent her!
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I have been so worried about the future and upset by the idea that I'd have to give up music to work a desk job again. It's been my lifelong dream to be a musician and, after giving up on myself for years, I've come this far with music in just the last two years. It would be devastating to give up now. But between full-time work, commuting, cooking, cleaning and being a fully engaged parent, there just simply is NOT enough time to fit in a music career.
And even when I resigned myself to going back to my old life's routine, I couldn't get a job. I have skills. I scored 100% on my temping agency tests for all levels of office and software skills. I've worked full time since I was 17- fast food, walmarts, law offices, video game developers, universitys, non profits, Fortune 500 corporations... I've been a graphic designer, web designer, database designer... I've scraped the gum off the bottom of Carl's Jr booths while taking drive-through orders at the same time. I'm not a slacker. I am currently the hardest working unemployed person you ever met. But I can't get anyone to even respond to my resumes or emails.
In the back of my mind, there is a tape on automatic loop that says, "How are you going to survive on zero dollars? What happens when we're out of food, money and options? What are you going to do!!!!" I'm 36 years old and went from having a good paying job for years, to now- dangerously close to being unable to care for my 5 year old son. He went without insurance or doctor visits for over a year. I still have no insurance. It wakes me in the middle of the night and makes me search craigslist for jobs. It keeps me working on my album 'til 3am almost every night hoping that *something* will happen when it's done. It will get picked up by someone... It will get played somewhere important... *Something* about what I'm doing will matter to someone besides just me- and it will bring me a little money to survive. I hope. I hope. I hope.
Two years ago for Christmas, I asked for ProTools software and it changed my life. Going back to music and blindly stumbling into what turned into The Smiths Project was the best thing that ever happened to me on a personal and emotional level. This year for Christmas, my family got together and bought me a new Kaoss pad to replace the one that broke right before the last gig I did. (Good thing I can pull a pretty great spontaneous piano/vocal version out of my ass when needed!) I also bought a basic version of Ableton Live with a controller pad to see if I can figure out a live performance version of these songs that normally take months to create in ProTools. I haven't even been able to connect the gear yet. There's just too much going on and I can't physically do anything else. And in the back of my mind, I am constantly worrying about getting a job.
Things have been stressful. A few months back, I received a letter from the Unemployment Office that said, "Your unemployment benefits have been exhausted. You are not eligible for any further benefits at this time." It came as a complete surprise because I was still within the 99 allotted weeks. I couldn't stop crying. When Josh came home from work, I couldn't tell him without bursting into tears. We went to Target and the supermarkets near by and I started applying for jobs that very night. The next few days, we didn't talk very much- we were too worried about the future. Two weeks later, a letter from Unemployment showed up asking me to fill out my weekly claim form. I did, and the unemployment money was somehow, thankfully, back. But ever since then, I've been worried about when the next "surprise! You're SCREWED!" letter would arrive. Still applying for jobs...
Back to this morning. The HUMAN BEING at the Unemployment Office explained to me that I was finishing the unemployment claim from years ago (long before there were 99 weeks available, but somehow those weeks had been extended.) And THAT is what just ended. In fact, my unemployment claim from October 2010 (when I lost my job) has *just now kicked in* and I have 99 weeks to look for work & join a job training program. I, honestly, nearly fainted. I've been given the incredible gift of time to change my life. A chance to live my dream of being a full time musician.
It is with great big tears of relief that I am excited to announce:
Ladies and gentlemen, I have just enrolled myself in the Janice Is A Touring Musician job training program.
I can feel my shoulders relaxing from their upright-and-locked position as I type.