Category Archives: Soundtrack Files

First Gig

That potential gig I mentioned is actually happening. Performing next week at a bar in Itaewon called Link. Super stoked!

I have a whole 15-20 minute set to myself. I have 5 songs picked out to play, all but one of which I’ve written in Korea. So it will be a good send off for myself. And it will be good to burn some karma, and leave it here before I go.

The Next Level

I’ve finally reached the next level as a musician. I’ve been invited to perform a gig.

It’s now been about 5 years since I started writing music and performing open mics. Over the course of the last 5 years, I’ve performed at open mics in about 8 different cities, 1 national park,  and 1 foreign country. Seoul is the biggest city I’ve performed in, and while I’ve been here I’ve played at 3 different venues.

Last weekend, I performed at a monthly open mic in Itaewon. Afterwards one of the other performers came up and complimented my first song. He said the chorus really touched him. I appreciated the affirmation, because it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written so far. Have a listen here.

He recently opened up a bar in Itaewon and said he’s planning to have some music nights, and invited me to perform. I told him thanks, but I’m leaving next month. He said, he’s planning to have one in July and to email him to get in touch. As I left the bar, the bartender also complimented me and invited me to come back and book a show sometime.  2 invitations to have a gig in one night!

I’ve never had  a gig before, and partly it was because I never felt ready to. Writing music has always been a hobby and a therapeutic outlet for my emotions, so I’ve never felt the need to put myself out there beyond open mics. However, I feel like I’ve reached the point where I feel proud of enough of my songs that I would feel confident to play a whole set. So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll have my first gig before I leave this country.

Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s nice to know that I’ve reached the next level and I  actually feel confident enough about my own talent to feel like I deserve to be here.

What Are You?

On Sunday, I performed my first Slam Poem live.  My nerves always kick in while I’m in the middle of performing and afterwards I was so worked up my hands were shaking.

Damn, it felt good.

I’m already ready to recite it again. And I’m ready to go back next month to recite some more. I went directly home that night and read through all the poems I’d written on my secret blog for the last 6 months and already prepared and practiced three sets.

I’m grateful for the space Wordsmiths at Southside Parlor in Itaewon provided for my art. I almost didn’t get a chance to perform. When I walked in and tried to sign up, I was informed the list was full and I was supposed to have sent a message before hand to sign up. I was so devastated I started crying right there on the spot.

When I had called a few days ago, the staff told me I could just show up. I’d been practicing my poem for the last few days over and over in my apartment. The neighbors were probably wondering what I was screaming about and I was really looking forward to reciting my poem on this particular night.

I was too distraught to keep talking to the MC, so I quickly escaped to the back of the room, sat on a stool, and tried to compose myself as the tears continued streaming down my face.  Seeing how distraught I was, V quickly conferred with her co-host and they were able to shift the schedule and squeeze me in during the second act because one person had cancelled.

Thank you universe for creating whatever excuse it was that drew that other person away, leaving me an opportunity to take their place. I am also incredibly grateful for those two kind hosts at the event.

The universe had several bits of synchronicity in store for me on this particular Sunday evening. As I was walking up the steps, a little late because I’d gotten lost on my way there, I heard a song I recognized. I realized it was my friend L, who I’d met at my last open mic, performing. I thought it was serendipitous that we both ended up at the same open mic again.

I hadn’t been expecting to know anyone in the audience, but it turned out I actually knew two. During the break, M from AAJA came over and said hi. It was perfect timing because at that moment I had been wondering who I was going to ask to press play on my camera and audio recorder so I could film my poem. The universe graciously cast M for the role.  After the performance, M commented that as a former astronomer, he appreciated the galaxy metaphor.

I appreciated all the affirmations I received for my performance.

“You slammed it,” L told me as he shook my hand in congratulations. Others told me they couldn’t believe that was my first time reciting poetry. So this is what an art community feels like. Needless to say, I’ll be going back to the next one. And I’ll be certain to sign up ahead of time.

The Seoul Debut

I played my first open mic in Seoul this weekend. It was my first one in a big city. The level of performers was definitely higher caliber than any of my previous open mics. But I held my own.

I played three new songs. It was the first time I performed without looking at my music. Although I knew all the words and the chords by heart, I sat up there with my eyes closed, so I wouldn’t get distracted by the audience or my nerves. Closing my eyes helps me concentrate.

I have this saying I tell myself whenever I go to the 목욕탕

“If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.”

When you go to the sauna, you have to strip down completely naked and walk around the locker room into the bath area. When I first started going I was awkward about getting naked. But right before I would go in I would have to take my glasses off. Without my glasses, I’m practically blind. So I just started telling myself, “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” It was as if that one sentence was a magic spell, which when recited, made my fear of being naked evaporate.

Sometimes I apply my own advice to other situations. Like playing in front of an audience. If I just close my eyes, I can pretend no one is there in front of me. “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” I can focus on the chords and my fingers strumming the notes and the words coming out of my mouth. I can focus on just feeling the music.

I’d been wanting to find an open mic to play at to release some of my songs. I realized that when I write my songs, it’s my way of acknowledging my emotions and sitting with them. But it’s not enough to just acknowledge them by playing them over and over in my house and in my head.

When I sing my songs at an open mic, it’s my way of finally letting them go. I have to take that last step to loosen my grip on them and send them on their way.

Jumping In Blind

I’m finally starting the bike pilgrimage tomorrow! And I’m jumping in blind.

I won’t have data/wireless this month, so I won’t be able to check my location on naver maps or look up places to stay in the towns I come along. But I’m ok with that.

I’ve got a map of the bike trail and the trail is really well marked, so as long as I follow the signs and take things slow I’ll be fine. Plus this fits into the #Unplanning Project even better. I think pilgrimages are meant to be unplanned journeys anyway.

Since I won’t have wi-fi, I won’t be posting this week, but I’ll be sure to document my half thoughts along the way and share them when I get back.

When I realized this trip was happening, I remembered the song I wrote about a year ago now. I wrote it just before the first bike trip, because I remember singing it out loud along the way. It’ll be the soundtrack for this trip, too. It’s called Blind.

When we’re traveling down this lonely road
it can seem that we are blind
The road before us twists and turns
we’ve got to trust our feet to find-

Find our way
Down the right road
Find our way
Find our way down the right road

I’m trusting my feet to find my way
to my new home~
to my soul.
Because that’s my destination~ Seoul.
My soul.

But it’s not really about the destination.
It’s about the journey to get there.

Here’s to the journey!
Let’s 가자!
#unplanning

The Soundtrack of my life- I am my own dj

The other night as I was drifting off to sleep the chorus of The Last DJ by Tom Petty was playing through my head.

And there goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey

I realized I’m my own DJ. I can chose what soundtrack I want to play in my head.

Sometimes, though, the music fights back.

I wrote this song a few months ago called Voices. It’s about the internal voices in my head. A lot of times the loudest voices aren’t the ones I want to be listening to.

Every morning I wake up to the soundtrack
playing in between my ears.
When I listen to closely to the music,
I begin to drown in my tears.

For the last few months, I’ve been slowly working on turning down the volume of those voices of fear, shame, and the critic. The critic is probably the loudest of them all.

But my free spirit is strengthening her vocal chords more and more each day. And here is what she has to say today:

I am my own DJ.
I can play what I want to play
And say what I want to say.
Hey, hey, hey.