Sooo…what’s going on here, anyway?

I’ve been avoiding this question for quite a while, but in a nutshell: SoundCloud has changed a lot since I started this blog, and it’s grown increasingly difficult and time consuming to post other people’s music here, although that’s why I originally created Sirenstories.com.

As a new mom and aspiring novelist, I was missing my first love: music. So I started this blog to inspire myself to seek out new independent artists. And I think I did a pretty good job. There’s a LOT of great music posted on this site. My goal was to accept every song uploaded to the Sirenstories SoundCloud, find something I loved about it, and share.

The blog was a delightful diversion for me, as well as a way to give back. A way to discover new independent artists, amazing songs, and gorgeous composed music.

But now, because of the changes on SoundCloud, and in my own life, I’m officially moving on from the original Sirenstories.com format. From here, I’m not sure how the blog will evolve—but I don’t want to just let it go.

So hopefully sometime soon, I’ll start updating links, and continuing to connect with musicians and authors whose work I admire. But for today, here’s some work of my own. My first book trailer. Please click on the pic below to watch, and if you have a sec, let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you. I hope you enjoy this small peek into Cate and David’s world…

And until we meet again, I hope you take good care of each other, and work for what you want. You know what I’m talking about.

Love,

Mimi

Cate sitting w guitar on lake copy.jpg

The Tree

 

JC 2

A bleakness of mood that evokes Nick Drake.

Phrasing that raises the specter of Jeff Buckley.

British songwriter and photographer J.C. Wrightson’s stark songs are instantly ear catching. Deceptively simple on first listen, they are minimalist in nature, and grainy in texture, and it is there, in that bit of a blur, that you feel the rub: Wrightson’s songs are not as simple as they sound, not simply sad, not simply vulnerable. They are those things, but they are also something more. A finger crooking, not so much in invitation, but to indicate direction: it is here, look here, in the seam of the song. Listen to the words, and also, listen to the words that are missing.

Something existential this way comes, disguised as an emo neo folk song.

J.C. Wrightson’s brief Twitter bio mentions that he’s living in Stockholm, but that’s pretty much all I know about his personal life. I started this post months ago, and tonight Wrightson’s website is down, so I can’t include the bio that I’d made a note about, the one that I apparently thought was, “as romantic as they come.”

Hopefully I can find out more about J.C. Wrightson in the future and update this post, but I’ve already waited too long to get this song up. Here’s The Tree, recorded live in Carlisle, UK. After you listen to it, you may want to check out the music video below. Nothing is Forever had me holding my breath, waiting to see what would happen—and so much happens, and nothing happens. Beautiful, and heartbreaking, and like The Tree, the video for Nothing is Forever is deceptively simple, and a killer. 

 

Hooked

Hookedbill

Today I’m featuring a different sort of Siren, New York City playwright Danielle Burby. The opening night of her new play Hooked is sold out, but if you’re lucky you may still be able to get tickets to one of the other nine performances at Bare Bones Theater Company.

Danielle is a writer-in-residence at Dramatic Question Theatre Company. She’s also a literary agent. When I asked Danielle about the inspiration behind Hooked, she generously provided the following about the play, and her creative process.

Hooked is about a three roommates in their early twenties—one a hopeless romantic, one with a hidden past, and one with a fear of attachment, as they navigate the world of modern-day dating, love, and friendship. For twenty somethings, casual sex is an expectation; it’s the price of admission. The hookup culture is a mentality that informs how people approach everything from one-night stands to romance. I wanted to examine how different characters with conflicting desires and priorities react to this strict set of cultural rules. Hooked explores how this plays out in one weekend that changes everything. I actually started writing this play for fun when I was a junior in college and, my senior year, it morphed into a much bigger project that my school went on to produce. That version of the play is so different from the one that Bare Bones is producing that it feels like a completely different show to me at this point. The characters are the same, as is the overarching plot (for the most part), but the actual scenes and dialogue, are almost completely new. I think a real turning point was when I decided to add a bit of a ticking clock and condense it all to one weekend. Before that, even though the same things happened, it sprawled over months. I like it a lot better this way. This play went through years of revisions, which was sometimes fun and sometimes painful. The actors are definitely breathing new life into the show for me. Sitting in on the rehearsals is so entertaining, although I always feel a little silly when I laugh at my own dialogue. I can’t help it, they make it really funny.”

Hear that writers? YEARS of revision. And let’s not forget, a ticking clock. Pace is so important, and Hooked zips right along. After reading the script, I asked Danielle if I could post a bit of dialogue—the way I usually post lyrics here on Sirenstories. This is the part Danielle chose. Love it.

TESS:
Okay, how about while we wait I tell you about the guy I went home with last Saturday?
EMMA:
You told me about him already. With the whiskey?
TESS:
No not him. That was Friday. I’m talking about the guy from Saturday. The one with the plaid shirt?
EMMA:
No you didn’t!
TESS:
Ok. Well. We go back to his place-which is a pigsty by the way-and we’re messing around and he’s a really good kisser and I’m like, this is going to be amazing and then he goes, “I don’t have a condom so we’re going to have to do this raw dog.”
EMMA
He didn’t!
TESS:
He did.
EMMA:
Oh my god I can’t believe he actually said that! You didn’t though, right?
TESS:
I’m not stupid Em. I was like, “Well you’d better find one because there’s no way we’re doing it without.” So, and this is no joke, he literally put on his boxers, took a pillow to cover, you know, his area, and ran out into the hallway knocking on doors and asking people if they could spare a condom.
EMMA:
Oh my god! How does this crazy stuff always happen to you?
TESS:
I have no idea.
EMMA:
Did he end up finding one?
TESS:
Well, this guy down the hall lost his keys and cell phone at the club and couldn’t get into his apartment, but he had a ton of condoms-which he definitely didn’t need, by the way-and so he said we could have as many as we wanted as long as we let him sleep on the couch.
EMMA:
And did you?
TESS:
Yeah, why not? It was a pretty good deal all around.
EMMA:
But, you had sex while a random stranger was asleep on the couch?
TESS:
Hon, if I’m willing to have sex with a guy I’ve just met why would I have a problem with a drunken stranger in the next room while I do it? At least we got the condoms!
EMMA:
You’ve got a point. (Beat) So was it good?
TESS:
(Overplaying it a bit.)
So. So. Good.
EMMA:
Lucky.

Check out Kyle Grant, Stephanie Kaltsas, Marina Montes, Miriam Korn, and Ravi Tawney, the cast of Hooked.

Jeff Bennett is the director of Hooked, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, opening night is sold out. Apparently this is one of the best pre-sales experiences ever at Bare Bones—congratulations Danielle! And congratulations to the cast and director as well. Break a leg, Sirens!

You can connect with Danielle Burby on twitter and fb.

French Trailer Music — To Defeat Them All

Jonathan Mayer

I knew if I said French, you wouldn’t be able to resist . . .

Born into a family of artists and musicians, French composer Jonathan Mayer studied violin as a child, then in high school moved on to electric guitar. But it was when he first heard the music of John Williams that Mayer discovered his passion for film music. Movies like Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park inspired Mayer first, and only a few years ago, he discovered that he “could play an orchestra” by himself with soundbanks.

In our back and forth, Jonathan Mayer told me that originally, he composed for fan films—which made me think of authors who’ve honed their writing skills on fan fiction. Then he wrote music for companies who needed it for educational trailers. Now, he’s branching out into commercials and Android video games, and recently an agency in New York contacted him about using his music for TV.

Love this screen shot of To Defeat Them All

Screen Shot To Defeat Them All

We’re quite lucky to have caught Jonathan Mayer at this stage. He ended our last email conversation by saying,

“Here i am now, very busy, but that’s what i looked for.”

Then he apologized for his English, but I found it charming.

Mayer was generous enough to contribute several pieces to the Sirenstories SoundCloud and he sent me a couple of tracks privately, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to his music. Epic, mysterious, bold, moving—it’s all deep and dramatic. In other words, excellent writing music.

SInce it was so hard to decide what to post, I’m adding one more of Mayer’s pieces for your listening pleasure—the name alone made me love it: Biocode.

Those who speak geek might like to know that on Biocode, Mayer uses Spectrasonics omnisphere, Projectsam orchestral brass, EWQL stormdrum 2, symphobia 2 and cinematic strings.

I’m a musician and all but—yikes.

 

Jonathan Mayer

Musicians and composers, please connect with Jonathan Mayer on his facebook page.

Thank you.

 

The Commuters

COMMUTERS

As I Make My Way starts with a scratchy guitar riff that morphs into a burst of late Beatlesque sound then moves into a groove that for some reason, although it’s slower, makes me thing of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend. Maybe it’s not the rhythm, maybe it’s the lo-fi production, (which I love), or that rough around the edges guitar part, but I swear, there’s a little bit of Sweet’s megahit in there.

And then, As I Make My Way is nothing but The Commuters, with their very own pop/rock, anthemic sound. And even though it’s a band sound, the mix never gets crowded, never becomes a wall of music, and stays refreshingly lo-fi—that hint of Sweet’s Girlfriend, all grown up, and possibly holding a U2 CD in her hands—with vocals that are sometimes tough, sometimes tender, always honest. Grounded.

I’m seeing light from the other side of morning
Reflected light from the other side of day
I’m seeing light from the other side of morning
I’m seeing light, my mind is blown away

…My mind is blown away — away
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I watch the world from the other side of owning
The things I’ve held, I’ve let them go away
I watch the world from the other side of owning
I watch the world, desires have slipped away

…Desires have slipped away — away
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I’m on a journey, I’ve got my faith
I don’t have to worry about my fate
The planets align as the will dictates
I’m writing it out as I make my way

I walk through time with a different understanding
Embracing what I see along the way
I walk though time with a different understanding
I’ll figure it out, as I make my way

…as I make my way — my way
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I’m on a journey, I’ve got my faith
I don’t have to worry about my fate
The planets align as the will dictates
I’m writing it out as I make my way…

Siren Zeeshan Zaidi, frontman and founder of The Commuters, was generous enough to share the story behind As I Make My Way.

“This song is about the vision I had all my life of becoming a professional musician and just going for it. I’d been in and around the music industry much of my life, but had put my own musical dreams on the back burner. One day I was deep in thought and said to myself: Some day I will die. And when that day comes I don’t want to look back on my life and kick myself for not doing what deep down inside I’ve always wanted to do. So the song is about that moment, and going for it, and not worrying too much about outcomes — about giving it your all and just trusting that things will work out as they are supposed to.

Ironically, even though this was the obvious first single, in the studio, this was one of the last songs to come together. It was lagging a bit behind the other songs and I wasn’t sure if it would even make the album. Then one day I said to Uri — let’s take a cue from the song itself and lay down some cool parts, starting with a great intro, without caring too much about how it turns out. Just let it go. So then I came up with the two guitar parts you hear in the intro and put them down, and Uri was messing around with a keyboard and came up with the really killer synth riff, as well as the scratchy sound at the beginning.
Felt a lot like magic.”

And sounds a lot like magic. So glad The Commuters got it down.

The Commuters are: Zeeshan Zaidi (Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Songwriter, Co-Producer), Uri Djemal (Guitar, Keyboards, Co-Producer), Ben Zwerin (Bass), and Paul Amorese (Drums). Their full 11 song album Rescue was mastered by White Stripes/Ryan Adams collaborator Fred Kevorkian and includes Take a Step Back, a gorgeous ballad that I’m particularly in love with. Rescue is available on bandcamp so you can easily choose the tracks you want, or get the entire album, which is what I recommend.

The music video for As I Make My Way is of the Day In A Life variety, but what makes it so interesting, besides the fact that it uses the band’s hometown of NYC as a backdrop, is that it shows Zeeshan Zaidi as the start of the day not as a musician, but as The Man In The Gray Flannel suit tech entrepreneur that he is in his ‘other’ life.

Using Music to Protest Mountain Removal

2:3 Goat

Stream of Conscience from the New York City based band 2/3 Goat (pronounced: Two-Thirds Goat) is more than just a great bluegrass song with an edge, it’s a powerful protest song in the vein of the legendary Pete Seeger.

And that’s it. I don’t want to waste another second on words. You must listen to this track, and then please, spread the word.

Music has the power to change the world, and I hope the metrobilly of 2/3 Goat does exactly that.

Although I don’t often post video, I’m including the music video for Stream of Conscience here, because it’s amazing, and because it will show you what mountain top removal mining looks like, if you don’t already know. Plus, it gave me goosebumps. I’m happy that 2/3 Goat found Sirenstories, and proud to feature their music on the blog.

A few words about the video from 2/3 Goat:

“Protest footage (courtesy of Jordan Freeman) is from the March on Blair Mountain, a march to save historic Blair Mountain from being demolished by mountaintop removal. The 2 men on the sign: Sid Hatfield, sheriff of Matewan, WV, and his deputy Ed Chambers. The pro-unioners were shot and killed on the steps of the courthouse while awaiting trial. This led to the Battle of Blair Mtn (1921). 2/3 Goat is against the destruction of any Mountains. They are all part of our rich history and our livelihood.”

Stream of Conscience is the title track to the second album from 2/3 Goat, and was recorded entirely on vintage equipment. Get Stream of Conscience here.

Learn more about 2/3 Goat and earn yourself some karma points by liking their fb page, thank you!

Boy Meets Girl. Cities Burn.

Soundtracks can be a great source of inspiration for writers.

If you’re writing a scene today with a lot of conflict, check out Final Battle (The Gates of Kronos) by Peter Mor. Final Battle is a minute and a half of epic drama, perfect for book three of your paranormal trilogy, when good and evil go at it.

Dotted with hits of quirky synth sound that come in for the first time around the fifteen second mark, you can use Final Battle as the background music for your YA dystopian, too, or to help you get that sci-fi novel you’ve been thinking of out of your head and onto the page. Focus on the vigorous strings if your characters need to flee, or the sustained brass part if you’re writing your hero. The insistent, driving drums guarantee you’ll have a sweeping setting if you let your muse listen to Final Battle and allow her to have her way, although she might talk you into writing a historical novel, something you promised yourself you’d never do, because it’s just too much work.

Peter Mor was born in Volos, Greece, and comes from a musical family. He began classical guitar lessons at the conservatory at age seven, but his favorite instrument is the electric guitar. I’m pretty sure he loves movies, and Sirens. This pic was on his site.

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