Push to Start

Starranko

When I heard the opening keyboard arpeggios of Push to Start by Domingos Muekalia Jr. aka Starranko I instantly fell in love with the song. Amazing what a few notes can do. Yep, I was already hooked before The Hook, the lyrical hook, even started.

The vocal has yet another melodic line behind it that I love almost as much as the first one. It’s reminiscent of an old New Order melody. Need I say more?

Eminem’s 8 Mile—the movie and the record—R. Kelly, Kanya West . . . rap artists amaze me. The sheer amount of words they use blows me away, as does the gymnastic phrasing common to so many of their songs.

It’s the subtle phrasing of some of the lyrics in Push to Start that made me want to listen to the song over and over. Just the way Starranko says, “Push to Start”, the slight bend to the words, that little bit of curve—that’s what I love, that’s what’s irresistible to me. And the story behind Push to Start is just as vital. Domingos Muekalia told me,

“The inspiration for the song came over this past summer when I was going to quit making music. But when I went over to Portugal to visit my family I felt this strong connection with music and the country as a whole and felt a rebirth. As I was over there I had the beat with me and began writing lyrics to it and kind of just went from there.”

Starranko I’m so glad you didn’t quit music, and I’m just going to say something to you and all the writers and musicians reading this—

Never give up.

You may need new inspiration, but that’s not hard to find. Just come here. Or look out your window. Or in your journal. Watch a movie.

Whatever it takes. As an encouraging editor once said to me, KEEP GOING.

Domingos Muekalia Jr. was born and raised in Falls Church, VA and says he has “a burning passion for music of all genres, except country—sorry that I’m not sorry about that.” He’s been inspired by Michael Jackson, Kanye West, Nirvana, Jay Z, Tupac, Biggie, Eminiem, and Radiohead. He says he “tries to blend different genres and sounds into a unique style that is all my own.” He succeeds.

So go ahead. Push to start.

We pull up off the lot where that button at?
It’s Push to Start!
Haters talkin shit wanna put a bullet in my heart
We pull up off the lot where that button at?
it’s push to start!
Haters talkin shit, wanna put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
These haters talking shit wanna put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
These haters talking shit
wanna put a bullet in my heart!

Bro I got tenacity coupled by veracity that gave me the audacity to make my own odd ass city
You still with me come and get me, you know life ain’t really fair wanna have a nightmare ight then I’ll take you there
Now you see who I be skinnier B.I.G.
May as well be waldo y’all can’t even find me!
Come try me I’ll lay you down kindly
career need an I.V.
bitch stay hiding
Rap like an M4 or semi automatic
slow down the flow to make this shit more dramatic
Put this on my life i be killin every stanza
you’ll see who’s the boss but I am not tony danza
Yeah I be the man huh?
niggaz know the plan duh
takin over the game so put that in your planner
See so many pigs got me feel in like an angry bird
catapulting to the top with like each and every word
clearing every hurdle
flowing like I’m squirtle
I’m a strain on your brain like a mental girdle
Deck your halls with my balls
I’m join balls to walls
with the beast of music sheets yeah we came from churches falls
paint it black very vivid like a picture
only thing that got more verses is the holy scripture
yeah take a picture swag gin every day just
know I got the most art call me Amadeus

Hook: We pull up off the lot where that button at?
It’s Push to Start!
Haters talkin shit wanna put a bullet in my heart
We pull up off the lot where that button at?
it’s push to start!
Haters talkin shit, wanna put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
These haters talking shit wanna put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
put a bullet in my heart
These haters talking shit
wanna put a bullet in my heart!

When I rap like this niggaz cease to exist
but they can find peace in the other haters midst
when I rhyme and rip mothafuckas gonna trip
like they got two feet “that’s some clever shit”
Cuz my thoughts stay full in the spot where we mobbin
pull up on a nigga like he Christopher Robin
No change, I only carry bills
Competition’s alive, I’d rather kill they’re wills
Gawddamn I am who I am
if you don’t like that then run and tell the man
but this is my time nigga welcome to my avenue
wealth and good health are the only things that I accrue
Im just a nigga certified as certifiable
bring the fight to you it dont matter if Im liable
Lord like Tolkien Rings like Jordan
wanna duke it out mothatfucka bring the sword then

Star3
Click the pic to go to find Starranko on iTunes. Thanks.

Sirene

I was very excited to find a song entitled Sirene in the Sirenstories SoundCloud recently!

I hope you enjoy this atmospheric soundscape from French digital art-folk duo Les Reves.

The opening of Sirene is dramatic, orchestral, but after a moment I am plunged beneath the soundwaves into an unknown world. The cries of gulls reach me where I float, perhaps towards or away from a dream, and soon the sound of voices carries down to me as well, a man, a woman . . . Sirens.

Halfway through the piece a rhythm track gives me something to hold onto, or so I think, until between the percussion and Hannah Hardy‘s lovely mysterious vocals, I become hypnotized . . ..

Regretfully I return  from my journey when a gong sounds and Sirene comes to an end.

Hannah Hardy is not only a Siren but an eclectic artist.

Untitled

‘Praline’s discovery’ 2011 Acrylic and glitter paint on vintage linen

Please visit her gallery, http://www.hannahhardyart.com

Me and my big monster 2011

The Visual Music of Kamil Vojnar

Sirenstories usually features music, but after I came across several pieces online by visual artist Kamil Vojnar, I really wanted to write about his gorgeous work. I say wanted to because I did want to, and I tried, but I’m so enamored by his images, I’m  finger-tied. It seems I care too much.

This is the first piece by Kamil Vojnar that I fell in love with. In. Love.

I was searching for an image to represent Sirenstories, not this blog, but the YA trilogy of the same name that I’m writing. This spring I’ll be working with an editor who will help me shape and polish the first book, and someone suggested I use kickstarter to fund the work. But I needed an image to attract people to my project.

When I found Kamil’s Siren standing above the beach, I gasped in recognition. He is one of the characters from my trilogy.

But I don’t think  that would please Kamil Vojnar. Even if I created the most memorable character in literary history, even if I made him heroic, and brilliant, clever, and magical, Kamil would not be happy because that would mean the pinning down of one of his images, something that is not meant to be. The essence of Vojnar’s work is light and movement.

I’ve rewritten this post a dozen times, and I’ve cut nearly all that I thought I wanted to say. I’ve spent hours online pouring over  websites that feature Vojnar’s stunning pieces as well as information about him and his exhibits, but I couldn’t find the words I needed. They all sound stiff compared to his ethereal images. Music would describe his work best I think, or a poem might be able to, if it were read by someone with a complicated, beautiful voice, and it was endless.

Kamil and I have exchanged a series of emails, and he was kind enough to allow me to use the above image for my project, but now that I’ve learned so much about him, that almost seems wrong. It is all too easy to commercialize Kamil’s work, because it is instantly enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean that his art is easy. His work has darkness in its depths, and its light creates haunting shadows. Kamil Vojnar is a fine artist, and although his work has a fleeting quality—or perhaps that quality belongs to the moments portrayed—it is not meant for fleeting purposes. His pieces are full of unanswered questions, restlessness hidden inside stillness, and sorrow that will not be resolved. We’ve all heard music that makes us ache. There is something here we cannot obtain, something unknowable, perhaps unthinkable, possibly unbearable.

Obviously Kamil can’t upload his pieces to the Sirenstories Soundcloud, but he knew that I would be writing this post, or trying to. I think he will appreciate my frustration in trying to find the right words.

Kamil Vojnar‘s website is a beautiful, evocative place to visit. No matter what kind of artist you are, you will find inspiration there starting with an ephemeral series of images that seem to melt into one another. Each image vanishes into the next and there is no ‘button’ on his site to click back to this series of pictures. I think that perfectly represents the art of Kamil Vojnar. Each piece is a moment from a dream, captured but not contained. Each image murmurs, possibility . . . and the viewer wonders, what has just happened? What will happen next?

Please click on the image above to give yourself the gift of a journey into Kamil Vojnar‘s sensual and sorrowful world.

Tanguy Dairaine used Kamil’s images to create this video for French pop star Patricia Kaas, which she used on her 2009 tour. The video was projected on a giant screen behind her while she sang her intimate song, Une Derniere Fois.

The Best Teachers are Sirens

Meet Mrs. McGee . . .

A total Siren, right?

Mrs. McGee is the teacher featured in What Do You Want to Be? a new picture book written by Beth Carter and illustrated by Leo Silva.

I ‘met’ Beth on author David Harrison‘s wonderful blog about two years ago. At that time, I was going to his blog almost every day for inspiration. David has written over eighty children’s books and runs a Word of the Month poetry contest on his site that’s great fun. If you need inspiration, I suggest you try it, the word prompt will get your pen moving. For me, the experience was more about community than contest, and I felt like my poems had a home on David’s site even though they were all really works in progress.

When she found out that What Do You Want to Be? was going to be published, Beth, who lives in Missouri, asked me if I would write a song to go along with her book. I said yes, and last weekend I went up to Woodstock with #MySonIs5 to record the track that What Do You Want to Be? inspired. Hope you enjoy it!

Here are a few pics of #MySonIs5 recording his part at Kevin Salem‘s studio in Woodstock.

After a while, what starts out as fun in the studio becomes work, and even #MySonIs5 begins to feel the pressure . . .

Finally he finishes, and takes a bow. #MySonIs5 has stamina in the studio and—what? What did you just ask me? Did I actually make him listen to old Grateful Dead on the drive home from Woodstock? Um.

Click on the pic of Mrs. McGee to get a copy of Beth Carter‘s book for your kids. If they like the song, tell Beth and she’ll probably send you a copy, or come back and listen any time here on Sirenstories.

To learn more about Beth Carter, visit her blog, Banter with Beth

What Do You Want To Be?  Song lyrics

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

When I arrived at school today

My teacher smiled and said let’s play

Join me in a circle on the floor

She asked us all what we held dear

The people we loved to be near

And what we thought the future held in store

She gave us crayons & pens & pads

She said, no answer’s wrong or bad

Just think my friends then think a little more

Use pictures, words; free thoughts like birds

Express yourself and you’ll be heard

You’ll learn in part what you are all here for

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me (I don’t know!)

A baker or a builder,                          

Or a swimmer in the sea

A mommy having babies (Maybe!)

Or a maybe a daddy

A dentist, doctor, artist, author                              

Teacher, Forest ranger, or you might like to sing . . . (I’d like that!)

You can do anything!  (Definitely.)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

An astronaut, a lawyer

Or a farmer growing trees (Next stop outer space!)

The president, a fireman

A keeper keeping bees

A dancer, banker, preacher, painter

Help save things are endangered (Yeah, like pandas!) maybe you’ll sew . . .

You can give it a go!  (I think I might want to think about this . . .)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee (A baseball player!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?  (A candy maker!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

(A cow!)

(I just want to be me.)


Some Inspiration for All of You Sirens

Sirens, how do you fill the well?

Singers, songwriters, authors, painters, I’m sure all of you artists have ways to inspire yourselves when inspiration doesn’t strike like lightning, but if you need something new, you might enjoy Body of Writing.

At the 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, author Patricia Lee Gauch talked about “letting go into story”. When she quoted Yeats’ poem The Circus Animals’ Desertion and spoke of the “rag-and-bone shop of the heart” and how we must go there for inspiration, her message went straight to my heart. I knew it was time for me to create a workshop that connected two of my great loves, yoga and writing.

Developing a workshop combining yoga and writing had been a dream of mine for years. Starting last winter, I began to carefully design a class series that would combine yoga postures, yogic breathing techniques, creative writing exercises, meditation, visualization, and readings, in ways that would inspire participants to get their pens moving and encourage them to open to the wisdom of their bodies.

I also drew from my own personal experiences over the years in art, music, drama, and yoga workshops, incorporating Deep Diving techniques I learned from artists as diverse as Olympia Dukakis, Rosanne Cash, and Julia Cameron, as well as instructors from The Metropolitan Opera Guild and aesthetic education classes at Julliard.

Finally, in May of 2011, I offered the first version of Body of Writing. The classes I created were one and a half hours long and met once a week at River Road Books in Fair Haven, N.J. Over seven weeks I witnessed the thrilling process of people discovering the stories their bodies carried. Some were obvious, like the tale of a twisted ankle in Paris, the stiffness lingering years later, evoking memories whenever it rained, and stories begging to be told. Others were hidden, stories secret even to those who held them. Working together like seekers of buried treasure, we began to dig.

I was introduced to yoga at age twelve, and according to my father, I sang before I could talk. For many years I taught people of all ages and abilities music, placing the emphasis on songwriting when I could. My last position included teaching students who were suicidal and homicidal. Music and lyrics were a wonderful way to connect with those kids, but to help their teachers I used yoga.

One of the most important concepts of Kripalu yoga, the style that I’ve studied more than any other, is the idea of letting go. In other words, allowing things to be just as they are, including who you are, with the idea that everything is really okay already. Cultivating this kind of acceptance one learns to have compassion for oneself, and thus for one’s story.

Kripalu yoga is the style I teach, but I draw from many other traditions as well. Most styles of yoga have certain aspects in common, such as the idea that yoga is a practice for the body, mind, and spirit. Body of Writing simply adds another dimension: story.

Body of Writing can help you find the stories you hold within and teach you how to allow yourself to release them onto the page without criticism or judgment.

Of course later, you’ll have to edit. Now that’s a wicked posture to hold.

Body of Writing will be offered Saturday Sept. 24th & Sunday Sept. 25th noon—5:30 pm as an intensive two-day workshop at Brahma Yoga Spa in Sea Bright, N.J.

For more info: http://www.mimicross.com

To learn more about Kripalu yoga and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, visit http://www.kripalu.org

Check out the ‘About’ page on this blog to learn why I’m qualified to create and teach Body of Writing.

The Fighter

Sydney-based singer/songwriter Dan Schaumann‘s The Fighter begins with an almost languid guitar intro—beautifully played—making the opening of The Fighter sounds more like a lover.

Half a minute into the song the tempo picks up, and just under the minute mark Dan’s voice comes in, delicious Aussie accent and all.

The verses are gorgeous with the tail end of the first sounding like Elliott Smith has stopped by, and the end of the second giving us the on ramp to a chorus that, when it comes, kicks up the energy level of the tune so that you finally hear the song is indeed about a fighter. I love this slow reveal, and I found myself wondering if fighting with this guy would be so bad.




Dan Schaumann comes close to speaking at times, a singing style that I love and prize because it shows the singer is inhabiting his body and not just his head. Stories and passions come from the body and Dan’s style conveys a from-the-gut honesty.

Dan is soon to release his debut album, A Thousand Days Beneath The Sun. Recorded and produced in Brisbane by James North Productions, it consists of thirteen self-penned tracks which predominantly reflect the rapturous, romantic and remorseful emotions experienced while residing in England for 15 months during 2008-2009 – over 16,000 kilometres away from home in Australia.

This song, The Fighter, refers to the state of emotional turmoil brought on by fighting excessively hard to hold onto a past love which has passed the point of salvage. Eventually, even the greatest fighter has to call it a day and move on.

The Fighter

Oh the fighter with his heaven in his heart and his hell to behold 
His desire is to remedy the scar of the flame to her soul 
Oh denier with the heaviness imparted he dreams he could change 
Cruel reminders of the innocence of love vs the means to remain

Persevere 
Through your tears 
Learn your lesson well

Oh the hour, will it speed or will it burn with a laboured old fuse 
Not an answer to the plead, a deafly ear and a reason to lose 
Oh the fighter will he stay or will he stray far away from his means 
All the while through her silence and his tears he will conquer with the thrill of her nightmares

Oh the fighter 
Oh the fighter 
Oh the fighter 
Oh the fighter

Oh the fighter will end it before it’s repaired 
The fighter surrenders and shows that he cares 
The fighter will end it before it’s repaired 
The fighter surrenders and shows that he cares

Dan’s got a great website, click on the photo above to visit. Click on the pic below to go to his fb page.
I’m looking forward to reading Dan’s blog posts about his ghosts and dreams of electricity.
I might even browse his photos of toilets.
Hmm.
Maybe I’ll just keep listening to The Fighter instead.
Good luck with A Thousand Days Beneath The Sun Dan, and  thank you for sharing your music with Sirenstories.
Hope your tour brings you to Asbury Park.