Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thank You!

I have been really feeling the love from all the Tears For Fears and Psych fans. Thank you all so much for all the big internet hugs! I heart Curt and James, too. Both of them, along with everyone around them, especially Arlene, Maggie, Dulé and Tim have been real game changers in my newly-started music career. It is a wonderful feeling to know people believe in you. :)


Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy MerryNewYearsBirthdaysmas, Curt!

A few days after Curt Smith's 50th birthday, I said to James Roday, "Man, we should have done a song for him!" Well, that idea eventually turned into a real thing. James chose the song, I started with a first draft, James added input, and we just went back and forth via email about our ideas 'til we had something that we were happy with. This song is, of course, all vocal. If you had told me two years ago that I would be doing a trip-hop a cappella song with James Roday for Curt Smith, I would have laughed... HARD.

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

Enrolling In A Job Training Program

After months of being in the dark about how much unemployment time I have left, I finally got through to a representative. It turns out, if you ask the automated system to tell you your last payment received & go through a few hoops, there's an option to reach a representative that ACTUALLY WORKS (3 minute wait!) unlike the rest of the options to reach a representative throughout their ridiculous rat maze of BS that leads to being hung up on every time. You can actually hear the automated voice flipping you off as it says, "please try again later."

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.