After months of planning, scouting for a studio and scheduling conflicts my friend Quimera and I finally decided on a date, time and location for a photoshoot, as she had pointed out to me many times before, that I really NEEEEEEDED to GET NEW PICTURES! (which was, of course, correct). So, last Wednesday was going to be THE day, Quimera was going to shlepp from Brighton Beach to the Upper East Side to prep me (numerous shades of delicate coloring on my face, and THE HAIR), and then we were going to take a cab to Skim Milk Studios, our photo studio of choice, with several clothing bags and Quimera's voluminous make-up kit in tow.
On Wednesday, of course, is snowed. Considerably - for New York City. If you live in the city you know that about an inch of snow (2.5 cm for my European readers) will essentially bring the city to a standstill. The subway will be delayed, because it runs above ground in places, and there will be NO CAB TO BE HAD, apart from the fact that under the circumstances it's probably safer and faster to walk than take a cab anyway.
Valiant warriors of the asphalt jungle that we were, we decided to plow on - quite literally, as it were. Quimera's train was - guess what - delayed. I could not put on a hat - and I ALWAYS wear a hat in snowy or even mildly chilly weather, because I am a paranoid, psycho-somatically inclined vocalist, and we hurried through the snowy mess on the Upper East Side, obsessing about the safety of my hair and make-up, sheltered underneath my tiny, rickety blue umbrella, and the additional train delays getting to the studio. Forty minutes behind schedule - an eternity by New York standards - we reached shore at Skim Milk Studios, where a very sweet assistant informed us after several tries that the flash light on the digital camera the studio provided was malfunctioning, and he had to call back the owner who had just left the premises.
In the end we did what we came to do, Quimera shot a gazillion photos of me, the weight of the camera rendering her right arm practically useless after about three hours of shooting - I swear she was listing to the right when we left, I dressed up, stripped down, dressed up again etc. It was fun, it was exhausting, and by the end of the session it had almost stopped snowing.
Thank you Quimera for being such a trooper! You were truly marvelous.
Once in a Blue Moon a constellation of people, circumstances and ideas comes together that enables the creation of something magical. As artists we like a good challenge and tend to just go with an idea, not knowing where it will lead, what it will become. We see a short piece of red string, grab it and pull, unearthing the next short piece, take a step, pull and so on. Patrick Rundbladh, the Swedish-Coney Island part of this constellation and an incredibly talented film music composer, presented me with the first piece of red string one sunny afternoon in the Summer of 09, when he played me a beautiful piece of piano music he had written. Would I like to write a song on top of that? Well, why not? He then played me the same track with a soprano sax playing on top of it, which was absolutely gorgeous! And here we find the Sweden-Stockholm connection in the shape of renowned soprano saxophonist Anders Paulsson. Anders and I have never met, but with the advent of internet technology we can just shoot audio files through the ether (or are they bounced into space and back down? I'm a bit hazy on the details), work on them on opposite ends of the Atlantic and have it all assembled back in Coney Island. I do hope to one day actually play with Mr. Paulsson, but I think this song we created over the last few months is a good start. It ended up being called "Hush Now". Today I heard the final, mastered mix (thank you Patrick!) and am very happy with it! It will soon be released in download format only, so stay tuned. Cheers!
Many "Do And Don't" lists have been compiled to help a human being cope with long distance flights, jet lag, dehydration and all the accompanying side effects (woolly feeling and brain fog in the scull, anyone?), and I dare say that vocalists are particularly afflicted by the effects of shooting through the skies in a tinny tube with 300+ strangers, checking several time zones and the odd ocean. Although many distractions are offered on a plane, from movies to food to liquor to the companionship of the Turkish grandma across the aisle brandishing photos of her loved ones and repeating the same words with varied intonations, the fact remains that air travel is hard on the body. Over the years my stockpile of in-flight tools and pre-flight medications has grown quite a bit, to the extent that I transform into The Mummy's little sister on an overnight flight, completely concealed underneath a protective layer of eye mask, mouth mask, ear plugs, hoodie and two of the flimsy airplane blankets, if I can get them. Oh, and do NOT forget the ever present scarf, lest I catch a draft of that poisonous recycled gas mixture they call air.
I've been told and have read many times that drinking alcohol on a plane is BAD BAD BAD for you. Which is probably true, but since I don't like sleeping pills (they give me the sluggish feeling of a sloth just raised from it's winter slumber) and I absolutely MUST close my eyes for 3 hours on a cross atlantic flight (my own personal rule), I like to take a couple of drinks combined with Melatonin. I also usually load up on anti-oxidants pre-flight in the hopes they might actually do something, like protect me from the classic post-flight cold or cough.
No matter what I do though, my voice just tends to be about a day late whenever I fly to Europe, which makes me think that my voice and my soul have entered into a pact that they would travel together forever, leaving me to arrive at my new location feeling stranded, voiceless and discombobulated for the first 24 hours . Nothing to do but rest, hydrate and - I know, counterproductive - have some espresso.