Farewell to Lofish Studios

The time has come to say good-bye. Lofish Studios, our little joint on 28th street, is shutting its doors for good with its last recording day on January 20th.

Walter and I started this thing, oh, 17 years or so ago in our living room, and it morphed a few times, moved locations a few times and settled in for a respectable 11 years on this last spot.

But gentrification doesn't stop for anyone, and after seeing several other studios go out of business due to its voracious appetite, our home away from home is going down the same road.

It's the same old story, heard by the proverbial campfire so many times before: building gets sold, new owners triple the rent and kapow - you're out. Many people asked us why we don't simply move somewhere else. Relocate. Well, we DID move. We DID relocate. To this place, 11 years ago. But back then we got incredibly lucky, and circumstances aligned so we could actually afford to take this place over. Now things are very different in the commercial real estate industry.

In 1998 Walter and I went to buy a computer, and a scanner, and a color printer. And a CD duplicator that could burn ONE CD in - wait for it - double the playing time! Since we were the only ones among our jazz musician friends who had all of this awesome equipment and a prehistoric version of Photoshop, our friends asked if they could use our little burner to make some demos, clobber together a CD cover to get gigs. And voila - Lofish Productions was born. Back then it was lacking the Inc, that came later. As did the studio, when the storefront facility below our apartment became available. For a while we had our own 3-story empire going down on Eldridge Street. The CD duplication business thrived for about 3 years, until it got killed dead by 9/11 and the rise of personal computers that actually came with CD burners.

But by that time we had already built a small studio in the back of the storefront, with a live room in the basement that you could only reach through a pee stained trap door on the sidewalk outside the building. It was funky, it was musty, it was glorious.

When landlord issues forced us out of that place I combed through Craigslist over and over until I stumbled on the ad for a studio on 28th street. It was love at first sight. I remember laying down on the floor of studio A, listening to the silence and feeling at peace.

The studio has had its ups and downs, like any business. But we survived year in and year out, even the crash of 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession. A lot of that was due to a great team of engineers who quite frankly worked their asses off attempting to make every session a success. And of course, you, our clients. Without you, your continued patronage and loyalty to the studio none of this would have been possible.

So I thank you, the people who chose to come to Lofish and create their magic here. I thank you for your inspiration, your craziness, your art. I thank you for continuing to believe in your music, and for continuing to be creators in an environment that appears to be progressively less conducive to the arts. You have been great. Please continue to be the fabulous, colorful and bright beings that you are.

And finally I want to thank the Lofish team, past and present, most notably: Reed, Chris, MP, Kathryn, Sean, Jabbath, Alex, John, Shachar, and Mike.  I salute you for digging your heels in, keeping Lofish up and running, and doing thousands of sessions, small and large, with the famous and infamous. You guys rocked this house.


Elisabeth and Walter

Humidiflyer for the Traveling Vocalist? Absolutely!

Last December I undertook the most amount of flying within a short period yet: New York - Frankfurt - Tokyo - Munich - New York. Needless to say that, as a paranoid vocalist, I was concerned about the effects of so much flying on my voice. Like every other vocalist on the planet I have suffered through the aftereffects of flying. Especially after a transatlantic flight, the voice feels dry and scratchy and generally doesn't arrive wherever I am until at least 24 hours and several gallons of water later.

Then a friend posted something about Humidiflyer on facebook. I thought it was interesting but also stupid. Who would want to wear a mask that makes you look like you're in the final stages of some horrible disease or out to scare small children for 8 or 10 or 20 hours?

But as the trip loomed I decided to hell with scruples about vanity and questioning looks and ordered me one of these things. It does truly look horrifying but once I got past that it did  improve my overall well being during and after the flight. None of the horrible papery feeling in my throat, the hoarseness and dryness that always comes with a long flight. In fact, I had contracted a coughy/hoarseness-y virus 2 days before I left and was somewhat freaked out about it. I mean, who wants to fly halfway around the world and not be able to sing, once there? But because the Humidiflyer mask captures the moisture of one's own breath and filters the 'fresh' air one breathes in, my cough actually improved during the flight.

Here are some facts about the Humidiflyer mask:
  • One mask covers you for 100 hours of flying. After that you have to buy a new mask, or you can also buy them in larger quantities
  • You can't just get a replacement filter for the mask (I asked the man himself, Paul Aberhart, about it, and it's just not in the cards)
  • You can order the Humidiflyer mask here: www.humidiflyer.com They have distributors in various places. I got mine within 2 days. 
  • One mask costs about $57 (US), including delivery.  Price goes down if you buy 3 or more at once.
So, if you are a frequent flyer and a voice professional, and are on the fence about getting one of these masks, I'd highly recommend for you to get one. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments section below.  Happy travels!

Such Is This Love - Video and Lyrics

Last week I released the second video from our live recording session at Lofish Studios. See my blog posts on the topic for details: Birthday Girl - live video now on Youtube and A Terrifying and Gratifying Experience

In this post I will share the lyrics to my latest song, Such Is This Love.
Click below to view the LIVE video, with Walter Fischbacher - piano, Evan Gregor - bass, and Jordan Perlson - drums.

Such Is This Love

M/W: Elisabeth Lohninger

There are days when I miss you
much more than I can bear
and although I've never met you
I can always feel you there

You took up residence
way deep in my heart
And when I see your shadow laughing
I simply fall apart

But such is this love
with nowhere to go
you will always be my angel
I just wanted you to know

I'm releasing your ashes
the ones I've never burned
to become magic beings
to be free and to return

to live in my words
and the songs I write for you
to hear your pearls of laughter
in the music that comes through

Such is this love
with nowhere to go
you will always be my angel
I just wanted you to know

© 2013 Elisabeth Lohninger

Birthday Girl - live video now on Youtube

Here it is: the first of two songs I recorded/videotaped live at Lofish Studios with my band. This one is called "Birthday Girl", it's a new song of mine hitherto unreleased. It will very likely make it onto my next album, slated to be recorded in 2014, but so far, this video recording is its first glimpse of the big, wide world (apart from the live shows). Watch it/check out the lyrics below! Stay tuned for the second song from that session, "Such Is This Love", which will be released in a few weeks. To view my Youtube channel, please click here: Elisabeth Lohninger Youtube Channel

Elisabeth Lohninger - voice/words/music
Walter Fischbacher - piano
Evan Gregor - bass
Jordan Perlson - drums

MP Kuo - audio engineer
Blake Drummond - video editing
Kathryn Ourlian - lighting/video assistant

Recorded/shot at Lofish Studios, NYC

Birthday Girl

The morning dawned, and it was gonna be a beautiful day
Butterflies were nipping at your heart
And you had trouble keeping them at bay
A smile was on the verge of bursting onto your face
And like a foolish child you pressed your nose
Against the window of your special day

But extraordinary things
Are carried on fragile wings
And the slightest winds of change
Aan blow them away

Birthday Girl
You wanted love
But the more things change
The more they stay the same

You thought he might be stopping by with flowers or a rose
Or send a kiss on rushing clouds to touch your cheek
And say hello
But as the day wore on your fancies left you one by one
He would never be what you had dreamed
And you were still one of the lucky ones

So you tucked your smile away
For another rainy day
And went back to work
On being OK

Birthday Girl
You wanted love
But the more things change
The more they stay the same

© 2013 Elisabeth Lohninger. All Rights Reserved

A Terrifying and Gratifying Experience

As a professional vocalist/songwriter I have spent plenty of time in the studio, recording with a band, overdubbing my vocals, editing and mixing my albums. This year, for reasons as of yet unknown, I decided to up the ante a bit for myself, and instead of simply booking the studio and laying down some tracks of new material I had recently written I went for the LIVE Video Recording route.

Now I consider myself a pro in the recording environment, having done it for about 15 years with two fistfuls of albums to my name, and even owning my own recording studio. But I could not anticipate the terror I inflicted upon myself by doing an audio/video combo WITH A BAND! The sensation of being placed under a microscope to be inspected and possibly dissected from all angles clung to me like a panicked chihuahua. And that was BEFORE the lights came on.

I still think it's a great thing to do, because it's as close to the real thing as the audience can get without actually being at your show. However, you can't overdub. If one band member makes a mistake, you have to do the whole song again. If you hit a bum note, forget a lyric, have to swallow in the middle of a word - you guessed it: back to the top. There is no editing, no tuning, no fixing of things. You gotta get it right, or the whole thing ends in the virtual bin, never to see the light of day. And since everybody is on the clock around the clock in New York City, you don't want to waste anybody's time and money. 

A live audio/video recording experience appears to come down to this:

You have to make sure your make-up doesn't run.
You have to plead with whoever does the lighting to be kind to your face.
You have to ascertain which of the five (that's right, people: FIVE!) cameras is actually pointed directly at you.
You have to make sure the musicians know the tunes, have the right sheet music with the right chords etc.
And that they are actually in the frame of their very own cameras.
Do not wear any noisy jewellery! (Been there, done that.)
And THEN - you have to perform the song. Sing with feeling, with authenticity, with the correct lyrics, and on key. And make sure not to pull any weird faces while you do it. 

Sounds easy, right? Hmmmm...

In the end the session went really well, my musicians were stellar, and I got one take of each song in the can that I was reasonably happy with. Here's a shout out to Walter Fischbacher on piano, Evan Gregor on bass and Jordan Perlson on drums. These guys are top notch, excellent musicians who can lay it down like nobody's business and look good while doing it :)

I will let you know once the videos are up on Youtube. Should be soon!

Here's to new songs, and to stepping out of one's very own comfort zone!

The Platform Dilemma

I have always struggled with saying I was just one thing. Like - "I am a jazz vocalist." And then a voice in the back of my head would say, "Yes, but I am also a..." This condition has only been compounded by my book endeavor, or, as my husband calls it - a whole new front to fight at (as in: Art Is WAR!). And yet, somehow I can't help myself. I find that life is simply too short to be doing one thing only. I'm not saying that this is true for everybody. But for me this works. Sort of. Until I get into the realm of social media and the dreaded "Platform Building" that everybody in the blogosphere seems to be going on about. Well, here's the hitch I've encountered with that thing:

For obvious reasons I cannot stay on message.

When I write about my life as a musician the bibliophiles lose interest and start unfollowing me on Twitter. And when I describe my trials and tribulations as a first time novel writer I can just about see my fellow musicians' eyes glaze over with boredom, their attention pulled to something else, more exciting, more relatable.

What to do?

To be honest, I haven't sussed it out yet. For the moment I have resigned myself to a somewhat schizophrenic online presence: Facebook for the musicians and Twitter for the writers, with some overlapping occurrences. That's the best I can do for now. The blog does lean more toward the writer side, since I started to chronicle that journey here. But it is and very likely always will be a crossroads between these two passions of mine, because trust me: when that new album drops in 2014 you'll hear about it here!

So how about you? Are you in the same boat as me? And what's your solution to the Platform Building Dilemma, or PBD? Do you have a working strategy in place? Or do you just ignore the whole thing and get on with your life? Sound off below, I would love to learn from you.

A Case for the Manuscript Evaluation Report

After my vacation induced hiatus from this blog I'm back with an update on the process, the grand adventure that is the creation of my novel "Billie Lupescu: Wormhole".

After I finished this latest rewrite I submitted my book to an editor for a Manuscript Evaluation Report. The lady I found on the Editorial Freelancers Association website was very accommodating in squeezing me in to give me my report as soon as possible. Her name, by the way, is Lynnette Labelle, and you can find out more about her services HERE

What is a Manuscript Evaluation Report, you might ask. Here's what Ms. Labelle's website says on the subject:

When you order an evaluation report, I’ll peruse your manuscript, taking notes along the way.  I’ll look at your character development, the GMCs, plot structure, pacing, dialogue, narrative, voice, mechanics, and more.

The evaluation report states the strengths and weaknesses of a manuscript.  It doesn’t offer solutions to the problems, but that service is available under manuscript developmental copyediting or fiction writing coaching.

This service is perfect for the writer who has a hard time identifying flaws in his work but is capable of fixing the problem areas once they’ve been identified.

After I'd sent off my book, I went on vacation and tried to forget all about the manuscript, and the report, and the rewrites that would surely be a consequence of the report. 2 weeks of Mexican sun and an interesting intestinal virus later the report came via e-mail. I have to say, it was all that I needed it to be. Which doesn't mean that I liked what it said. But after I let Ms. Labelle's feedback gestate a bit in the back of my mind and got over myself and my aversion of yet another lengthy edit I cracked the manuscript open again and started looking at all the things she pointed out. Boy oh boy, did I need that report!

So now I'm back in there, changing things, adding things, deleting things, going through the check list from that report and generally improving my writing skills. I hope.

Bottom line is: I can only recommend this process, or using an editor even earlier in the game, if you can swing it financially. I got my book to the best place I could with the tools I had in hand. But Lynnette's feedback took the blinders off, so I could get a much better idea of what works and what doesn't.

Thank you, Ms. Labelle!