Home
Featured
Music
Reviews
Blog
About
Contact
Published December 9th, 2014 at 5:02 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I just added almost four hundred spam comments to the digital circular file, (including this gem–”If my problem was a Death Star, this article is a photon torpedo.”–someone doesn’t know their Wars from their Trek) so if you’re trying to make any legitimate replies to one of my posts, I’m sorry, but I probably just deleted it. Go ahead and try again if you like. I’m sorry that so many people feel the need to be assholes.

Work on current recording projects has been on a bit of an hiatus lately due to the recent holiday here in the States (our American Thanksgiving) and a family tragedy. My Husband the Fantastic Guitarist and I plan to get back to work on my upcoming album, “[untitled]“, this coming weekend. My next session with Barry Childs-Helton is either tomorrow or next Wednesday–I need to check my calendar, to which I do not currently have access. Either way, keep an eye on the studio Facebook page for more information as it becomes available.



Published October 12th, 2014 at 11:04 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

Well, you can probably guess from the title of this entry that I sadly haven’t much news for you regarding “[untitled]“. But I thought I would pass along what news I do have so that you at least know what’s been going on.

Wax Chaotic has been touring really heavily this year, which was our intention from the get-go. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to have “[untitled]” out at the same time as “Faces in the Fog”—I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it once we hit the road for the year. What I hadn’t really predicted was that not only would we be time-poor, but we would be exhausted both physically and mentally, as well. I think I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that such a thing would likely happen, but actually experiencing it is another matter.

So what time we have had to get into the studio has partially been spent decompressing from a very active touring season. To date, we’ve done nineteen shows in ten states and two countries. We still have two more shows scheduled for the year (which are thankfully local). It has been a whirlwind of fun, but it’s left us sadly little time to dedicate to recording for “[untitled]“.

After our most recent show in New Orleans, we were hoping to dedicate some more time to studio work. Our next show isn’t until November. We’ve been home for about a week, though, and we still haven’t been able to get anything done. Sean brought home con crud, which has left him too lethargic to work through the necessary practice sessions. I have been so exhausted from our travels that I barely have the energy for housework, and so stressed that even the thought of the same makes me want to run and hide. (I’m beginning to think I have some sort of undiagnosed anxiety disorder. And yes, I have already made an appointment to speak to someone regarding it.)

And just yesterday, we had to send our nineteen year-old cat off to the great beyond. So it’s been kind of a rough week.

But on the positive side, Sean’s cold appears to be waning. I’m not exactly feeling any more relaxed, but I’m trying to work on that. So maybe after this coming weekend, I might have some good news for everyone.

Again, I’m sorry that this project is taking so long. If anyone has any questions regarding other setbacks (eg., “Why is this CD still not finished?”) or our current timetable, you’re welcome to send them my way. I will do my best to keep you posted (though unless I have any BIG news to spread around, most of the progress-related updates will likely be posted to my Facebook page).

And if you’re reading this and have been eagerly awaiting the CD release party, don’t worry, it hasn’t happened yet, and you haven’t missed it. I will be making damn sure that all of the necessary parties are aware of its scheduled time and date when such have been arranged.

So your weary bards continue onward and hopefully studio-ward. We will complete this project, and it will be the best work we can manage. It’s just going to take longer than I really wanted it to, and for that I am incredibly sorry.



Published March 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

This song is a step back into the world of the fantastic. I do love writing my fictional tales in song form. Also, I have long been a writer of fictional prose, as well. In point of fact, there’s a series of novels I’ve been working on since the late 90s. Around the end of 2012, I once again got to work on one of the novels in that series, and I was absolutely consumed by the work. I think I spat out close to forty thousand words in about five or six days. It got to the point where, even when I was away from my computer and focusing on other tasks, part of my mind was always still in the storybook world. Of course I didn’t find myself transported into the world I had made, but still, the mental fixation was enough to inspire this song.

Thus far this album has songs on it to honor the darker shades of my past, the bright gleams of both past and present, and various passions and scars. It needed a song to honor The Writer. This is that song.

Getting Lost
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I started writing the other day,
A book that’s been long in the making.
Out through my fingers, the words found their way,
They consumed me in dreaming and waking.
I visited realms I wrought with my pen,
Their denizens, of my mind’s descent.
And though I’d step away now and again,
They would follow wherever I went.

       Just close your eyes,
       As you once more reprise:
       There is no reason to worry.

       It’s clear to me now—
       I see that somehow
       I’m getting lost in the story.

It began with events half-remembered,
Envisioned as though I’d been there.
I lived a life half-dismembered,
In the world of the real and that of my chair.
As any writer will tell you they do,
My characters had wills of their own.
But this was a bit different, and as the word count grew,
It got much harder to find my way home.

       Just close your eyes,
       As you once more reprise:
       There is no reason to worry.

       It’s clear to me now—
       I see that somehow
       I’m getting lost in the story.

Next came the waking visions,
The sightings of fantastical creatures.
Rendered with nature’s precision,
I knew their outlandish features.
The night I awoke and parts of my bed
Were swapped with wood wild and black,
I whimpered as I pulled the blankets over my head,
For I knew there was no turning back.

       Just close your eyes,
       As you once more reprise:
       There is no reason to worry.

       It’s clear to me now—
       I see that somehow
       I’m getting lost in the story.

Now in the mornings I waken
Confused, bewildered, afraid.
My grip on my sanity’s shaken,
For I’m now in the world that I made.
I’m not sure how I got here, or how to get home,
But this nightmare’s the worst that I’ve had.
If the gods hear my pleas in their heavenly dome,
Let it be that I’ve simply gone mad.

       Open your eyes
       To the alien skies—
       Now is the time to worry.

       I’m not in right now,
       Because some way, somehow,
       I’ve gotten lost in the story.

To read about Track 13, please visit the entry about “[untitled]“.

And please keep an eye out for further release information. We’re getting really close, now!



Published March 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To read about Track 10, please visit the entry about “Break Out“.

Given the theme of this album, its track list would not be complete without a song about the gloriously terrifying wonder that is being a musician. This vocation fills me with wonder and elation and fear and worry and every emotion within the range of human passion. I would not trade any of this for the world. And I am so lucky to have so many of you who care enough about this music I’m making that I get to keep making it.

So here’s to passions that consume us in the best way, that inspire us to reach for new heights, that keep our spirits burning with devotion and wonder even in the darkest of times.

Dancing in Flame (Tapestry of Me)
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I have laid myself open,
       in part and in whole,
Forgoing the safety of skin;

I have made self-exposure
       my primary goal,
Turning outward when I would turn in.

I have spread my arms wide
       as if thinking them wings,
And jumped only hoping to fly—

There’s a maddening fire
       making me do all these things,
And I’m happy to stoke it high.

       I bare my soul in note and verse
       Lest my heart split at the seams,
       And still I am always left to wonder
       What this aching means.

       Caught in a firestorm trepidation cannot tame,
       I am joyously dancing in flame.

The day is a race to see
       how much I get done,
How far I can make my flames spread.

There’s aren’t enough hours
       before the retreat of the sun
Signals that I must lay down my head.

Night heralds the crescendo
       of the deafening roar
That ignites the spark of my soul.

It builds the inferno ‘til
       when I sleep, anymore,
I am only just banking the coals.

       And every dream I bring to light,
       Every song that I create,
       Is a balm, a cage, a penance,
       Another scar crossed off the slate.

       Caught in a firestorm the rat race cannot tame,
       I am joyously dancing in flame.

               I…
               Am ever burning…
               Both fire, and smith.
               I…
               Am ever burning…
               A furnace fed by myth.

Not every fire
       burns to destroy—
Some fires burn to create.

So I pick up my pen
       and lift up my voice,
And singing, I conflagrate.

       They leave me gloriously broken,
       Makes me ache deliciously,
       These melodies that form the warp and weft
       Of the tapestry of me.

       Caught in a firestorm uncertainty cannot tame,
       I am joyously dancing in flame.



Published March 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

In late December, 1999, I was twelve. I left Cleveland, Ohio, where I was living at the time, to visit my dad in Indianapolis for the second week of my Christmas break. I know that at least one night during that week, we stayed at the house of two of his friends. I’ve long forgotten the reason why, but that’s not important. What is important is that that was the day I met the man who is now my husband.

I was instantly attracted to him, but shy. It didn’t help matters that I knew he was significantly older than me. So we got to know each other a little bit at my dad’s friends’ house—he was there because he was also friends with our hosts—and then I returned to Cleveland after New Year’s and didn’t think anything more about him.

See, at the time, I was in love—or thought I was in love—with a boy I knew through my mom’s primary social group. And I was a bit heartsick, because he was utterly uninterested. I did get over him. It helped that that following summer, after I turned thirteen, I once more went to Indianapolis to visit my dad, and this time, we were again staying at the same friends’ house.

Side track explanation time: My dad lived in Vermont at the time, but returned to Indy for his summer visitation, because this is where my sister and I are from, and thus, have a lot of friends and family here. Our dad also had a lot of friends there, so it was really best for everyone to just return to the familiar stomping grounds.

So my dad and I are staying with his friends, and their friend Sean is also often at the house because, well, he’s their friend. This time when we met, there were sparks. We knew that there really shouldn’t have been sparks—we discovered the age difference was actually ten years, not less than that, as Sean had thought (he mistook me for older). But we fell in love that summer, despite knowing we were in for a whole lotta heartache.

But five years later, I turned eighteen and returned to Indianapolis to live with him.

Five years after that, we were married.

And three years after that, I wrote this song for him as an anniversary present. I kept it secret for about six months, even going so far as to have a secret meeting with my good friend Cernowain Greenman of Greenman and the Muse to get the song chorded. Then at a house concert in August, a couple of weeks after our actual anniversary, Cern was nice enough to accompany me while I performed the song for Sean as a surprise. You can watch me sing it really terribly on YouTube. I hadn’t much time to practice the song with the guitar, so my performance was pretty shaky.

But that didn’t matter. It just mattered that Sean loved (and still loves) the song, and that I am so incredibly lucky to have a partner with whom I fall in love all over again every day.

In a Hundred Different Ways
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I packed up my dreams
       and took them with me that summer—
It’s been so long now,
I can’t recall
What all
Was on my mind.
But I never conceived
       what we would be to each other,
Or just what I’d be lucky enough to find.

       I couldn’t believe what was happening—
       That it was then, and it was you.
       I counted all the ways it was wrong
       And it was right,
       Then took a leap—and said, “I love you, too”.

               I cannot sound the depths
               Of the heart you stole away,
               And how I feel, mere language
               Cannot possibly convey.
               So you may never see it, love,
               But each and every day
               I fall for you all over again
               In a hundred different ways.

I hoped that love would be
       somewhere in my future.
I was content to wait
For the day
When it found its way
To me.
Loneliness is a difficult
       storm to weather,
But we each found a port in the endless sea.

       We knew what we were in for at first,
       That the difference and distance were great.
       But in the end, the time and heartache
       Were worth it,
       For good things always come to those who wait.

               I cannot sound the depths
               Of the heart you stole away,
               And how I feel, mere language
               Cannot possibly convey.
               So you may never see it, love,
               But each and every day
               I fall for you all over again
               In a hundred different ways.

So now here we are, together,
       some thirteen years later.
We’ve shown the ones
Who claimed
That time
Wasn’t on our side.
Nothing I am in my life
       will ever be greater
Than being the one you chose to be your bride.

       I don’t know what the future will bring,
       But it’s enough that I get to hold you today.
       We have a love that’s only common
       In fairytales,
       And that’s not something even time can take away.

               I cannot sound the depths
               Of the heart you stole away,
               And how I feel, mere language
               Cannot possibly convey.
               So you may never see it, love,
               But each and every day
               I fall for you all over again
               In a hundred different ways.



Published March 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To read about Track 7, please visit the entry about “Coat of Scars“.

This song is dedicated to the many cohorts I have had over the years, and all the craziness we’ve created together. I wanted to write a song for them, and also let them know just what they’ve meant to me. I am one for whom experiences are made more enjoyable, more meaningful, by having someone to share them with. So here is a song for all of my partners in crime.

Fun Fact: When I was younger, my primary group of friends lived in my dad’s neighborhood. They were right across the street, in fact. The activities described in this song are mostly things I did with them, and they included things like flinging naked Barbie dolls into a tree (whilst laughing maniacally the whole time), racing marshmallow Peeps in the Creek (winning was indeed determined by whichever melted the quickest), going for walks on the same creek when it was frozen solid, swimming in the same creek, playing in the rain and mud (what is it with kids and digging large holes in the yard, anyway?), and building couch forts.

Not mentioned is the game we used to play whenever the mosquito spraying truck would come through the neighborhood. It was this slow-moving thing with lots of lights and its own specific siren, so we always knew when it was coming. We would all run out and run after it, shouting, and keep running as fast as we could until we got to it…at which point, we would run from it shrieking in terror, sometimes rolling on the street in front of it (I did mention it was slow-moving), and just generally acting as though the world were ending.

…if I’m this strange as an adult, is it any wonder I was that strange as a child?

I can only wonder what that poor driver thought…

Partners in Crime
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

Our poor parents had no inkling
       Of just what it was they bore—
They somehow never imagined
       They could create such terror,
But we hit the wide world running
       With mischief in our eyes,
A talent for wreaking havoc,
       And a penchant for mud pies.

And when we met, we found a resonance
In the other, and we knew,
A kindred soul had come by chance,
And “just me” became “we two”,

       So let’s away, let’s away,
       There are legends for us to write!
       Let’s away, let’s away,
       For adventure is in our sights!
       We’ll spend the day in our own version
       Of once upon a time,
       Where the exploits often vary,
       But we’re always
       Partners in crime!

It may be ninety-seven,
       Or it may be ten below.
Whatever the weather,
       Back to The Creek we go.
When it’s froz’n, it’s time for walking,
       When it’s warm, let’s take a swim—
Hey, I’ve got some marshmallow birds:
       The first whose melts will win.

Later if I’m of the opinion,
And if everyone agrees,
That dress-up’s getting boring,
Then Barbie dolls belong in trees.

       So let’s away, let’s away,
       There are legends for us to write!
       Let’s away, let’s away,
       For adventure is in our sights!
       We’ll spend the day in our own version
       Of once upon a time,
       Where the exploits often vary,
       But we’re always
       Partners in crime!

               It’s the stories that we write together
               That make the world come alive,
               For nothing feeds my spirit
               Like the wonders we contrive.
               Adventuring is richer
               With a cohort by my side,
               To share in the experience,
               And match me stride for stride.

We have raided all the closets
       For every blanket long or short.
In conjunction with the sofa,
       They make a lovely fort.
In the hazy gloom we rest,
       And maybe have a snack.
Then later in the afternoon,
       Perhaps a tiger will attack.

Come go out and brave the downpour
So heavy I can’t see my nose,
We’ll carol at the thunder’s roar
And dance all day on dirty toes!

       So let’s away, let’s away,
       There are legends for us to write!
       Let’s away, let’s away,
       For adventure is in our sights!
       We’ll spend the day in our own version
       Of once upon a time,
       Where the exploits often vary,
       But we’re always
       Partners in crime!



Published February 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I am insanely lucky. There are, in my life, countless wonderful, loving people, whose affection for me and general awesomeness is as depthless as the elation it creates in me. They banish the shades and shadows of my past and grant me light to find my way forward. I would not be who I am without them. I owe all of them a great deal, and I can only hope that debt can be repaid by doing what I can to continue to be worthy of their esteem, and by paying it forward to other lostlings whose hearts have long been achingly empty.

This album had to contain a song for them. Yes, this song is directed at the women in my life; there are, to be sure, many men whom I hold in such high regard. But most of the strongest influences in my life have been women—sisters, mother figures, strong, (com)passionate women, chosen family and blood relatives alike—and so it was my natural instinct to write this song for them.

I love you all.

Lost Girls
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I sing of you, sister,
Of the light that you spread to my heart,
Of the wondrous warmth of your healing hands,
And the way they knead heartache apart.

I may have had some trouble finding my way to the light,
But bit by bit, you’ve shown me how,
Through needles and pins and thread late at night,
And every song to ease the pain,
Your crazy sense of humor and animated laughter,
And every dance in the rain.

I’m fortunate to have known you
And been part of the story of you.
So I sing of you now, my sister,
And the special mischief you brew.

       Somewhere, somehow, we were lost—
       Whether we strayed or were cast away.
       But somewhere, somehow, we found each other,
       And together, we’ve forged a new way,

       We’ve pointed our ship toward the fairest of weather,
       This motley crew of girls being
       Lost Girls
       Together.

I sing of you, my sister,
Of the light that you find in the dark,
Of the music in your everyday,
Of your brilliant, starlight spark.

You dare to love the joys savored by only a few,
And I exalt in the way that you love them.
With passion forever springing forth anew,
You teach me to love what I love without fear,
To delight in the learning as much as the knowing,
And to walk, though the way is unclear.

You constantly amaze me
With your loving, creative mind,
So I sing of you now, my sister,
As you knit with the ties that bind.

       Somewhere, somehow, we were lost—
       Whether we strayed or were cast away.
       But somewhere, somehow, we found each other,
       And together, we’ve forged a new way,

       We’ve pointed our ship toward the fairest of weather,
       This motley crew of girls being
       Lost Girls
       Together.

I sing of you, lady mothers,
Of the love that you give to us all,
Or the arms that offer us endless warmth
And catch us whenever we fall.

We are always inspired by your boundless strength and patience,
And you’re quick with a laugh or a smile;
Our love for you is as deep as the ages,
And we will all of us be very accomplished daughters
If we spread half as much good throughout the world
As we navigate its waters.

You teach me how to love,
And how to be loved in return.
So I sing of you now, lady mothers,
And all the lessons from you I have learned.

       Somewhere, somehow, we were lost—
       Whether we strayed or were cast away.
       But somewhere, somehow, we found each other,
       And together, we’ve forged a new way,

       We’ve pointed our ship toward the fairest of weather,
       This motley crew of girls being
       Lost Girls
       Together.

I sing of us all,
Sisters,
Mothers,
And daughters,
And however our paths may cross,
Of the stories written in scars,
Of the lessons learned from loss.

This family we comprise may not be without its flaws,
But I wouldn’t trade you for anything.
My life is woven with splendor because
I have the honor of you joining my story
And being part of the ones that you’re writing yourselves,
And of sharing the treasure and glory.

It’s a mutual miracle,
And it is no small thing that we do.
So I sing of you now, my ladies one and all,
And the adventures that we’ve been through.

       Somewhere, somehow, we were lost—
       Whether we strayed or were cast away.
       But somewhere, somehow, we found each other,
       And together, we’ve forged a new way,

       We’ve pointed our ship toward the fairest of weather,
       This motley crew of girls being
       Lost Girls
       Together.



Published February 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To read about Track 4, please visit the entry about “Buttons“.

This song pertains to a difficult subject, but it’s one that I really felt needed to be addressed.

Psychological abuse is a very real thing, though as with most invisible ailments, there are many who disregard it as being “all in your head”. …of course it is all in your head, and that’s the problem. Psychological abuse is someone deliberately pushing your buttons to manipulate you. It’s particularly insidious because on the outside, it looks as though the victim is overreacting when they go into meltdown mode. It transforms the victim into an overly-emotional, melodramatic drama queen, and the abuser into a victim. It can be difficult to explain to someone who’s never experienced it, and it’s almost impossible for someone to spot when they don’t know what it looks like.

It comes from a wide variety of sources. It comes from lovers, parents, friends, coworkers, employers, siblings. It has many faces. It has many means.

So I wanted to let the world know that yes, we are here. Yes, there are more of us than you realize. Yes, we need your love and support just as much as someone who was battered or sexually abused.

And I wanted to let the victims know that the abuse doesn’t have to define them. There is a way out of the sickness into a world not crippled by rot and infected by that evil. There does exist solid ground, and you can find your way to it. There is hope.

We are hard to see, but we are here. And more than that, we are here for you.

Hand-Me-Downs
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

               We’re hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’re products of
                       mind games and fear.
               We are the hand-me-downs,
               Picked apart and broken down,
               And left to mend the pieces…
                       …of ourselves.

Oh, the marks, they don’t show,
But every one of us knows
They can be scratched open
       like a scab.

Injuries are hard to heal
When we question if they were ever real—
And it’s so hard to cope when
       so many don’t understand

That not all abuse leaves visible signs,
Not all injuries are of the physical kind.
It’s high time, even if the scars are old,
That the truth be told,
       So the world will know
               That

               We’re hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’re products of
                       mind games and fear.
               We are the hand-me-downs,
               Picked apart and broken down,
               And left to mend the pieces…
                       …of ourselves.

Those of us who before have tried
To trust another in our lives
Now know trust never comes freely…
       it’s not a right.

For when our trust has been repaid
With lies, we can become their slaves—
The truth is always hardest to see
       by gaslight…

What from the outside seems like a normal conversation
Is really about control and manipulation.
They keep their victims under their thumb
So the realization can never come
       That we are not alone
               And that

               We’re hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’re products of
                       mind games and fear.
               We are the hand-me-downs,
               Picked apart and broken down,
               And left to mend the pieces…
                       …of ourselves.

There are systems in place
Whose signs are hard to trace,
But their workings wind tight and bind
       just like chains.

They know our frailties
And make our true realities
And they reshape our minds,
       so that we will forever remain.

We don’t notice them when they have us ensnared,
We can’t get out to see how they’ve had us impaired,
They just consume us as a flame burns a wick,
And numb any thought that they might be sick,
       And they make it so
               That

               We’re hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’re products of
                       mind games and fear.
               We are the hand-me-downs,
               Picked apart and broken down,
               And left to mend the pieces…
                       …of ourselves.

       This isn’t a subject many people will talk about.
       Some prefer to just pretend it’s not real.
       But I will sing, and if I have to, I will shout,
       If it means someone hurting can heal.

       Know loves, that you’re not alone…
       And know too that it can get better,

               For we may be hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’ve ended the games
                       and stopped the fear.
               We may be hand-me-downs,
               But as we may, somehow we’ve found
               A way to pick up the pieces
                       of ourselves.



Published February 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

This song is pure, unadulterated silliness (because there had to be some lighter material on this album).

Cats have been a major part of my life ever since I was born. My parents had several cats, and so, starting from the day they brought me home from the hospital, I have been around cats my entire life. There is nothing like being in love with a cat. And I do fall in love with my cats, sort of in the same way a parent might fall in love with their child. They are, to me, very much tiny people with four legs and fur. And they very definitely each have their own personality.

This song is about two of our cats: Sawyn, who is our youngest, and Morgan, who is our second youngest. Morgan is a longhaired tuxedo cat; by her build and fur, we’re pretty sure she’s at least part Maine coon. We got her off the street when she was a few months old, and she was quite antagonistic for most of the first year we had her. She’s especially stubborn, even for a cat, and I swear she has a legitimate case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder; she will do something you told her not to do just because you told her not to do it. So having her in the house was very difficult for a while, but I’m glad we worked through it. She’s starting to turn into a real sweetheart.

Her full name is Morgan le Fey, because she earned it, and we’ve nicknamed her Magpie because she will steal literally anything, even if it’s something that clearly has no interest whatsoever to a cat (like lettuce leaves or sugar snap peas…which she then plays with, because apparently the green stuff makes excellent toys). The first thing she did when we released her to socialize with the other cats was catch a mouse that had gotten into the house the same day. That ended with a thirty-minute play session with the corpse in the bathtub until she got bored.

The second cat mentioned in this song, Sawyn, we acquired when she was only eight weeks old. She was a tiny ball of tortie adorableness whose face mask made her look constantly worried. She ended up being sequestered for more than two weeks because she came to us with kennel cough, and she was pretty sick for a while. She did eventually get better, and the first thing she did when we released her into the rest of the house was go after Morgan.

Keep this in mind: At this point, Morgan was huge. As I said, we think she’s part Maine coon. She is a big cat, and there’s not an ounce of fat on her. Sawyn, on the other hand, was only about two and a half months old, and was suitably tiny on her own, not even in comparison to Morgan. But she took one look at this cat who was six times her size and decided the proper course of action was to pounce at and chase after this cat and try to play with her.

I will not lie, it was pretty hilarious to watch this tiny kitten put Morgan in her place. Part of the reason why Morgan got her name is because she enjoys terrorizing one of our middle-aged cats, who just happens to be named Gwynever. So Sawyn gave Morgan a taste of her own medicine, and the two became good friends. I think that’s actually a big part of the reason why Morgan’s mellowing out as nicely as she is.

But this period made for some really hilarious cat antics, some of which I have included in this song. And as any cat owner who’s ever had kittens can tell you, hyperactive kittens are a special kind of crazy.

So this is my song for two of my beloved fuzzlets, the title of which comes from my mom’s name for when cats become hyper. She says their crazed running about is caused by a wild hair stuck, erm, someplace.

Wild Hair time
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

It’s a lazy afternoon on a Saturday.
The cats that are asleep have the right idea.
We humans of the household
Knit or game our time away.
…but life is not as tranquil as it might appear.
For suddenly there’s thunder rolling up the basement stairs,
The sound of sharpened claws sliding on linoleum.
Then the whirlwind hits the living room as a streak of fuzzy black—
There ain’t no doubt about it, that time again has come.

       It’s Wild Hair Time,
       As my mother would say,
       Wild Hair Time
       When the hyper kitties play.
       I can’t believe their antics—
       Who knew cats could do gymnastics?
       Better guard the draperies,
       It’s Wild Hair Time.

Our yearling’s never been timid—no, she’s the bravest of our cats.
She’d climb the couch—or your pant leg—when she was barely weaned.
Now she’s climbing, paw by paw,
Up my chair back’s narrow slats,
No doubt plotting mayhem and mischief like a furry, little fiend.
Sure enough, she climbs onto my shoulders as I sit,
Tensing for a leap from her newfound higher ground.
I look and see her target: The cat one year her senior,
Who she gleefully ambushes without a sound.

       It’s Wild Hair Time,
       As my mother would say,
       Wild Hair Time
       When the hyper kitties play.
       I can’t believe their antics—
       Who knew cats could do gymnastics?
       Better watch where next you step,
       It’s Wild Hair Time.

The pouncing sends the youngest two around the living room,
Swatting, biting, kicking, rolling on the floor.
They stop to smooth some fur,
Because there’s always time to groom,
Then shortly, sure enough, the war begins once more.
Their tussles take them somewhere outside the area of my ken—
Next thing I know, I’ve cause to wish I wasn’t wearing shorts,
For I am once again a springboard for the yearling, to my surprise—
I didn’t see her coming, and I swear she teleports.

       It’s Wild Hair Time,
       As my mother would say,
       Wild Hair Time
       When the hyper kitties play.
       I can’t believe their antics—
       Who knew cats could do gymnastics?
       Better switch to lead-lined trousers,
       It’s Wild Hair Time.

Afternoon or evening, Wild Hair Time claims no hour,
So often times we’re treated to opera at 4 am.
They’re like capacitors with fur,
Surging before I’ve even had my shower,
And “anytime” is the right time for ruckus and for mayhem.
I’m just happy when their tails puff up to the size of mutant pine cones,
And the speed at which they run around alludes to what’s in store,
That neither frenzied fuzzlet was graced with human thumbs,
For they’re smart enough to understand what the doorknobs are for.

       It’s Wild Hair Time,
       As my mother would say,
       Wild Hair Time
       When the hyper kitties play.
       I can’t believe their antics—
       Who knew cats could do gymnastics?
       Be glad the doors don’t have levers,
       It’s Wild Hair Time.



Published February 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To read about Track 1, please visit the entry about “Cracked“.

This one is a little difficult to introduce. I’m not certain what to say about it. I could tell you that it’s yet another re-write of a poem I wrote in high school—I was quite a prolific writer in high school—but that fact is likely not especially interesting. I could go into detail about all of the ideas this song references…but some things are best left vague. Perhaps especially these things.

Just know that, in a way, it is better now.

Weekend Job
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

They never said it would be easy.
I guess you’ve had it harder than most.
I look at you today and see
Only potential’s ghost.
You used to be a superhero—
At least you were when I was nine—
I think that somehow despite all the bullshit,
At least one of us turned out fine.

       And though looking back is uncomfortable,
       I think finally, at least, I know why.
       Yeah, they never said it would be easy,
       But was it really that hard just to try?

               What can I be for you this week:
               A pet, a weapon, a pawn?
               Proof you’re not a total slob?
               I could appear for ego boosts,
               And otherwise stay gone—
               You tell me. I’m your weekend job.

Nothing’s opaque to a child.
I think you forgot what it was like
To feel that special kind of confusion,
That you somehow weren’t doing something right.
I know now it wasn’t my fault,
But children aren’t that unassuming.
And looking back now, it seems that, somehow,
There was always yet one more shoe looming.

       You never got it, I know—
       You still can’t quite grasp it today.
       For all your intelligence, you’re just too mulish,
       And will probably always be that way.

               What can I be for you this week:
               A pet, a weapon, a pawn?
               Proof you’re not a total slob?
               I could appear for ego boosts,
               And otherwise stay gone—
               You tell me. I’m your weekend job.

       All children will outgrow their parents,
       But this isn’t quite really the same.
       I forgive you for what you couldn’t help doing…
       But I just can’t keep playing your game.

               What can I be for you this week:
               A pet, a weapon, a pawn?
               Proof you’re not a total slob?
               I could appear for ego boosts,
               And otherwise stay gone—
               You tell me. I’m your weekend job.

               I was your weekend job.



Published January 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I’ve actually already talked about this album. That being the case, I’m going to filch a pertinent paragraph from the original post:

It has been suggested that I shouldn’t call this album “[untitled]” and simply leave it at that, that I should instead conceive a more descriptive name for it. But “[untitled]” is its name. The title track is the only one that fits into the category “Where I’m going”, and those of you familiar with the song will already be aware that it is one gigantic question mark. It is not more defined because I was not more defined when I wrote it, and this entire album is a much more personal and specific reflection of me than most of my other work. It is about history and questions and laughter and no few scars. It is me, laid open, picked apart by poetry, and threaded through melody. It is a journey through the Self. And I can’t wait to share it with you all.

I really can’t explain this album any better than I already have. So for now I will simply leave you with the now official track list. You’ll note that some of the song titles are hyperlinks. This is because those songs have already been discussed on this blog, and so, like the old “Cold September Ground” tracks now reincarnated on “Faces in the Fog”, don’t need to be detailed any further.

Thus, next week, this series continues with “Weekend Job”.

Track List

  1. Cracked
  2. Weekend Job
  3. Wild Hair Time
  4. Buttons
  5. Hand-Me-Downs
  6. Lost Girls
  7. Coat of Scars
  8. Partners in Crime
  9. In a Hundred Different Ways
  10. Break Out
  11. Dancing in Flame (Tapestry of Me)
  12. Getting Lost
  13. [untitled]


Published January 26th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

Read the other articles in this series:

  1. And So it Begins
  2. Going Pro
  3. Partners in Crime

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: I am not an audio person. Or at least I don’t think of myself as being one. I took to visual work very naturally, but doing audio work has always made me feel at least a little out of my depth. Don’t get me wrong—I have a decent ear. But messing with all of this stuff was, at least at one point, pretty far outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully, that didn’t stop me from doing it anyway.

Like the previous post in this series, I wanted to actually detail what it is I use in the process of making my music. In this case, we’re talking about the finished recordings of the actual music itself, so in this installment, it’s all about the hard- and software.

If I wanted to be really specific, I’d start babbling about my computer’s guts—the type and amount of RAM I’m using, my processor, my motherboard, blah blah blah. But I don’t know that my system contains anything super special, so instead, I’ll start by talking about my software.

While attending college, I learned audio engineering using Cakewalk Sonar, so that’s what I use in my own studio (though I have Producer 8.5, not any of the more recent versions). It’s not the most user-friendly program in existence, but it has some nifty features, and it more than gets the job done.

Interfacing between my software and my microphones, I have a MOTU UltraLite mk3 interface. The UltraLite doesn’t have very many inputs, but I’m a small studio, so I’ve yet to need more than two inputs at once.

And as for microphones, I have three that I use regularly. They are RØDE‘s NT1-A microphone, which is my primary vocal mic; Shure‘s Beta 52A kick drum mic, which I primarily use for micing the bottom of my djembe; and AKG Acoustics‘ D88S dynamic microphone, which I use for various and sundry things. Lately I’ve been using it to record my bodhran.

To hear what’s playing on the computer as I’m recording, I have a pair of Samson SR850 Professional Studio Reference Headphones. They’re pretty comfy, though they’re a bit large for me. My old pair of studio headphones fits better, but since it tends to make rattling and creaking noises, I rarely use them anymore. I don’t need them messing up the work I’m doing.

I conduct all mixing through a pair of Yamaha HS80M active studio speakers. I never mix through headphones, because I don’t feel that’s a very accurate method of mixing.

And once a song is recorded and mixed to my satisfaction, I will export it from Sonar and open it in Sound Forge to master it.

And there you have it. This week I’ve discussed my songwriting process, the work I do when I’m actually recording a song, what happens once a song is recorded, and the various tools I use to do it all. I hope it’s been as interesting to read as it was fun to write about.

On Monday you’ll get an introductory look at “[untitled]“, the second album in the studio’s current dual album project. Then throughout February and March, I’ll share more details on each track, all leading up to the album’s release date in mid-April. There may or may not be other posts interspersed with the “Meet ‘[untitled]‘” series, but for the next nine weeks, you will be treated to a minimum of one update a week concerning the current project. I hope you enjoy getting to know this new album, pre-release! “[untitled]” is a very personal project for me, and I’m really excited to finally get it out there.



Published January 25th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I typically like the main vocal parts in the songs I mix to be a bit more pronounced than the other instruments. There is definitely a balance I work toward—I don’t want the vocal to overpower the accompaniment, but it’s very important for me that every word be audible. The music I work on tends to be more lyric-driven than instrument-driven.

It’s also very important to me for all of the vocal parts to be in balance with each other. Given my issues with singing harmonies, I figure that if the vocal harmonies are so loud that I can sing with them, then the mix isn’t right.

I also like my percussion to be audible without being obtrusive. This can be especially tricky when dealing with things like tambourines and sleigh bells, which are very loud and very treble. They cut through the mix like a hot knife through butter, and I prefer them to be seasoning rather than the main course.

So when mixing any given track, I have numerous balls to juggle. This is exacerbated by the fact that I am a first soprano who likes to write songs that are in the second soprano or even alto range. I can hit the notes—just not loudly. My best volume comes out on the higher notes because that’s where my natural range is. So for the main vocal parts that have some lower notes, I work to make those lower notes stand out better without sounding weird. This is where one of my favorite tools comes in handy.

Write automation is a function in my recording software that plays with the dynamics of the tracks I’m working with. It’s actually possible to automate all sorts of things, but mostly I use it to automate volume. Maybe a vocal needs to be a bit louder on this phrase, or an instrument needs to be a bit quieter for two beats or so because it’s overpowering everything else in just one spot, but sounds great in the mix throughout the rest of the song. The idea is not to remove all the natural dynamics of the various instruments involved, but rather to get them to play nice together so that they are pleasing to listen to, and mix well with one another.

While in the midst of mixing, I will also run other processes over various parts of a song. The guitar recording gets cloned—meaning that there are now two instances in my file of the same guitar track—and one panned mostly to the left, and one panned mostly to the right. The main vocal stays at dead center unless I have reason to do otherwise, and everything else is panned to varying degrees of left, right, and center as necessary. For this part I mostly just do what I think sounds best.

I will also put a compression effect on some parts of the song. Compression helps things cut up through the mix and become more audible. This is especially useful for the main vocal recordings.

I may also EQ things if I want to bring out the higher or lower end of something. And for at least the main vocal, I’ll add some reverb to give it that polished studio sound. (I have no idea why this is the standard, but it does indeed seem to sound better that way. But a little reverb goes a long way.)

The trick with all of this, of course—all the cut-ins, all the write automation, and all the effects—is to make it sound natural. These tools and gizmos don’t do me any good if they make the finished product sound like anything other than a cohesive whole. And I try very hard to stay away from things like…*shudder*…pitch correction. I absolutely never use it on a main vocal recording, but I will use it on back-up harmonies if it’s necessary and not too extreme. Otherwise, if it takes a hundred takes to get something right, then it takes a hundred takes.

Once the song is mixed and sounds the way I want it to, I will play through the whole thing just to make sure that the Master bus isn’t clipping anywhere. Sound is additive, so the more parts you have playing simultaneously in a song, the louder it will be coming through the main output (or Master bus). If the Master is clipping anywhere, I’ll decrease the overall volume of the song by decreasing the volume of the Master. It might make things a bit quieter, but I’m about to fix that in a minute anyway.

Now it’s time to export the final mix, and switch software.

The second piece of software I use is handy as a mastering program. “Mastering” means different things from engineer to engineer, but for mean it means the following:

The first thing I do is shorten the amount of silence at the beginning of the track to be one second in length. Aside from helping to keep songs on an album from being spaced too close together, this gives CD players time to buffer the track. Then I will go to the end of the track and fade out the tail end as necessary, and possibly add a bit more silence if necessary.

Next it’s time to run a noise reduction filter on the track. This gets rid of aural detritus that is not necessarily noticeable until it’s removed. Removing it increases the overall quality of the track.

Next I will EQ the entire mix together, as opposed to the individual tracks that make up the mix. This is just sort of a final touch sort of tweak, and is not something I do unless I can produce a better quality recording with it. (In other words, if it ain’t necessary, it ain’t happenin’.)

And finally, I’ll run it through another filter that, in the program I use, is known as Wave Hammer. This is where I increase the overall volume of the song, which I mentioned a bit ago as “fixing” the decreasing of the overall volume of the song in the other piece of software. The way this works is that the Wave Hammer process first compresses the peaks in the song to create a more average volume level, and then maximizes and raises the overall volume of the track. So I end up with a fuller-sounding track.

Once every track on an album has gone through this process, I listen through all of them to check for a couple of things. First, I want to see if their volume is consistent from track to track. It’s annoying to have to keep changing the volume of a finished product because the tracks aren’t consistent. And second, I will listen to the silences between the tracks to see if they’re too long or too short. If they’re not right, I’ll alter them until they are, which is simply a matter of adding or subtracting silence in my mastering software.

And that’s the amount of work that goes into each and every song I record. It takes no small amount of time, and sometimes the process makes me want to tear my hair out, but overall I’m very happy that I know how to do this—to a standard that is entirely my own. I’m sure there are things I do that would drive a mainstream professional batty. But I know what works for me, and I know what sound I’m after, so that’s what counts.

Hopefully this was interesting to someone! Tomorrow I will post the long-time-coming end to the “How I Learned to Bard” series of posts, and then next week I’ll go back to posting only once a week, introducing each track on “[untitled]” in turn.



Published January 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

A song has been written, chorded, and practiced, and is now ready to be recorded. I start with rhythm guitar.

Both of Sean’s guitars are acoustic/electric guitars, which means I can plug them directly into my sound system. I used to also mic the sound hole of the guitar with a separate microphone, but I find that the tonality is much cleaner if I just use the sound produced by the guitar’s line in. So we plug the guitar in, get the software set up, and start recording.

We normally have to do multiple takes of the guitar. This is normal. Thankfully, since we are living in a digital age, the entire recording process is much easier. We start with a full take of the guitar. Barring any horrible mistakes, Sean will play the entire song through once. Then we listen to what we’ve got thus far and identify the areas we want to fix. (I will also keep a notepad and pen handy while we’re doing the initial take and write down the measure numbers of problem spots in the recording.) Once we’ve determined what needs to be re-done, we do what are called cut-ins.

Rather than have Sean play through the entirety of the guitar part again, I will start him a few measures before a part that I had to cut out. I press record, he plays along with what he’s already done, plays through the spot of silence where the bad part was cut out, and then I generally keep him going a few measures into the other side of the hole. He knows not to stop playing until I cut the recording, and I know not to cut the recording for series of holes that are really close together.

Once the cut-in recording is done, I have to massage the ends of the previous take and the new take together. It’s usually much easier than it sounds, because the software I use is pretty nifty. (More on that later—yes, I’m actually going to do the last “All this Crazy Audio Nonsense” post finally!) And that’s part of the reason why I have Sean play over some of what he’s already done. It makes things easier to splice the takes together. Also, if we were to just start the guitar right at the beginning of the hole, there would be an awkward bit of silence between cuts.

After finalizing the guitar recording, I record the main vocal part. This track often ends up being Swiss cheese, too, because sometimes it takes me numerous tries to get things the way I want them to be. When doing cut-ins for the vocal parts, I once again record over part of what I’ve already done. I’ve found that the breaths between phrases are much less awkward if they’re natural, and in order for them to sound natural to my ears, I have to sing at least part of the phrase before and the phrase after the one that I’m replacing.

Once the main vocal part is finalized, I will add the percussion. I know that this is especially backwards from the way that many recording engineers do things. They will often start with the percussion, but since I record the guitar with a metronome, it doesn’t much matter to me to do things in this order.

And once I’m happy with the percussion tracks, I will begin bringing in the outside musicians. They may be vocalists for harmony parts—my brain latches onto the melody of a song so stubbornly that I have a really difficult time singing harmony with something, and I have to have something to sing along with—or play other instruments like cello, harp, or bass guitar. I don’t generally have an order to which I’ll record these parts. They pretty much get done in whatever sequence is most convenient for the people performing the parts.

Recording a song in the studio is most definitely a multi-day process. Even if I didn’t need to bring in outside musicians, and Sean and I were able to perform all of the parts of a song ourselves (like some really fantastically awesome musicians I know of), we get burned out fairly quickly when working on audio projects. Most recording sessions last somewhere between three to four hours, depending on the work being done. At some point, all the sounds sort of bleed together and I just need to walk away and work on something else for a while.

But once all of the parts are recorded, it’s time to start tweaking them and shaping them into the finished track.



Published January 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

So now that I have the final drafts of the lyrics and melody for a new song, it’s time to talk to a guitarist. Usually I work with Sean or our friend Cern, with the occasional SOS sent up to my sister (who is sort of a musical genius) if I need something wrestled into submission at light speed.

We start with a sample recording of the pertinent parts of the song: One repetition of the verse melody, one repetition of the chorus melody, and one repetition of the middle eight melody, if the song has a middle eight (or a chorus, for that matter). This sample recording is ideally nice and slow so that the person working on the chords can hear what the heck I’m singing. I’ll also send them the lyrics for them to make notes on.

From there the process involves some sort of voodoo that frequently reaches over my head. As I said, I don’t really know much about music theory, and I know even less about playing guitar. I can learn songs by wrote all damn day, but ask me to pick a melody (or chords) out on a tonal instrument, and I’m flummoxed. I’m sure I could come to understand it with instruction. But currently, a fair amount of it is a bit beyond me.

But the guitarist will figure out what key it’s in, and from there we’ll both decide what chords sound best with the song. Sean and I arrange an intro and an outro as necessary, as well as the bits between whatever verse/chorus combination is going on, and a bridge if the song has a bridge.

And then it’s time to practice. And I mean practice. I like to practice, and frequently. For one, it gets me used to singing the song, and it gets Sean used to playing the song. And for two, it lets me get to know the song. I think about my phrasing and diction, I think about where I’m taking my breaths, I think about volume and other dynamics, I think about the emotions I’m putting behind my performance. All of this is very important for live performance, of course, and it’s also very important for studio recording, as well.

As when I’m singing live, I don’t want to just be a vocalist singing into a microphone. I want to be a performer engaging my audience. That’s a little harder to do when you’re not physically in front of people, but it’s also very important to consider that, unlike a live performance, a formal recording will (hopefully) be listened to over and over and over again, so it needs to be fun to listen to. It won’t be if I sound bored.

There really isn’t a precedent for how much time there is for us between learning a new song and going into the studio to record it. Most of the things we’ve recorded to date are songs we’ve had in our repertoire for a while and have had many, upon many, upon many chances to practice. I think the shortest period of time between learning and recording was for “Surviving through the Game”, and that was because of a pressing deadline. I typically find it useful to have more time to learn a song before making a recording of it.

One of the things we try to do as often as possible when practicing a song for recording is to practice the song in question with whatever metronome settings we’ll be using when we start laying down the tracks. The speed at which we perform a song differs from concert to concert when we play live—we’ll play slower or faster as the mood of the performance dictates. But in the studio, regularity is pretty important, especially if there will be other instruments included on the track.

As far as my methods for the making of an actual recording, that will have to wait until tomorrow.



Published January 22nd, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

This week I’m starting a new series in between “Meet ‘Faces in the Fog’” and “Meet ‘[untitled]‘”. It occurred to me that I’ve never gone into great detail about the process of writing and recording a song, and that said information may be of interest to someone out there. There are lots of ways to complete this process, and in this four-part series, I’ll be discussing how I do it. This series will update daily, unlike the other series posted on this blog, so if you want to just skip to the “[untitled]” content, check back on January 27th.

For me, every song begins with an idea. It might be a character, one or two words, a phrase, a setting, or an entire story arch that hits me at once, that serves as inspiration for a song. Once I’ve found something to write about, one of two things will happen next:

  1. All of the lyrics tumble out of my head all at once, with or without a tune
  2. I have to tease the lyrics out into the world over the course of days, weeks, months, or years (yes, I’ve had songs that took me that long to write), and they again either come with a tune, or I have to spend more time pondering that part of the puzzle

A very small number of my songs fall into that first category. “Hush and Shush” was one of those. The chorus—lyrics and melody—came to me pretty easily at work one day. I was toying around with it when I got home, and then while I was taking a shower, the last eight lines of the third verse came to me. The rest of the song followed shortly thereafter. Spitting out a song like that is its own unique type of craziness, and one that I very much enjoy.

But most of the songs I write come out piecemeal. I’ll get an idea, jot down some lyrics, maybe record a snippet of a tune idea, and then run out of inspiration for a time and have to move on to something else. This used to feel like a failure—I thought that if I couldn’t get the entirety of a song out at once, that that was a bad thing. (Also, I tend to get excited about new things I’ve written and want to share them immediately—it can be pretty agonizing to have to wait for an idea to fully formulate.) Now, though, I just recognize it as part of the process. The songs will come out when they want to, and in the case of some of my ideas, only when I’ve had enough experience with whatever it is I’m writing about.

So maybe I’ll take a week or a few months to write the lyrics for a song. If I didn’t have any ideas for a tune when I began writing the words, then I have to figure out something for that. I once thought it was impossible for me to write good melodies. Thankfully I now know that’s not true, although it can still be a little rough sometimes. I actually know very little about music theory, so my songwriting technique essentially equates to, “Sing things to myself until something good comes out”. It’s a bit slapdash, I suppose, but it seems to work reasonably well nevertheless.

Now it’s time for the fun bit. In the case of songs written in pieces, I am, of course, not writing the lyrics with the melody in mind. This usually requires tweaking the lyrics somewhere down the line, which isn’t a problem. The part that’s really awkward is getting my brain to properly wrap the tune around each verse in turn so that the song is consistent throughout. I’ve found that this is easier to do when I’m singing with a guitar or other accompaniment.

Which is a nice segue into tomorrow’s post, which will deal with putting chords to a new song.



Published January 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

Now that you’ve met the new songs that give “Faces in the Fog” its name, perhaps you might like to know when you can get your hands on a copy of not only it, but “[untitled]” as well. I’m very excited to finally tell you. See, we’ve been working on “Faces in the Fog” since September of last year, and work on “[untitled]” technically began during that crazy Lyrics Dump thing we did, so this announcement has been a long time coming. Feel free to do a little drum roll at your computer if you like…

“Faces in the Fog” will release on Friday, April 11th!

“[untitled]” will release either in June or July. I had intended to release them both at the same time, but it looks as though we need to push “[untitled]” back by a couple of months. But no matter! I would rather have it done well and released late than have it be on time, but not made the way it wants to be made. “Cold September Ground” taught me that lesson.

So for “Faces in the Fog”, digital copies of the album should be ready immediately via Bandcamp, while physical copies will ship on or around April 22nd. The reason for the delay is that Wax Chaotic’s tour starts on April 13th, and will be taking us to Chicago, Winnipeg, Canada, and then hopefully to Minneapolis before we return home and can actually start stuffing and shipping packages.

But that release date is not very far away at all. Thinking about it is actually making me a little dizzy.

But the title of this entry mentioned something about CD pre-orders. So get this: We’re already accepting them. Yes, you can reserve your copy of either or both albums almost three+ months before they’re due out. How? By making a pledge to my IndieGoGo campaign that will fund the printing and promotion of the albums. There are a few different reward levels available that effectively allow you to pre-order either or both CDs, depending on your preference, and if you feel like splurging a little, you can get some nifty, limited edition extras, to boot.

Important Things to Note:

1.) I will not be able to afford to create physical copies of either CD without the success of this fundraiser. Period. My primary source of income is currently freelance web and graphic design, and most of what I make is quickly gobbled up by making payments on my student loans.

2.) I need to be able to effectively promote these albums in order to sell them. That means touring and performing for people, ideally in a wide variety of places, so I can keep making new fans who like the music on the CDs, but don’t already have copies. To that end, my IndieGoGo campaign will have stretch goals. The initial goal is just the bare minimum I need to get the albums printed. To promote them, I have to reach my stretch goals. There will be nifty extras that become available whenever a stretch goal amount is met.

3.) I absolutely need your help. I need you to make a pledge to the campaign if you can (and if you were intending to pre-order one or both CDs anyway, this way we both win). Whether or not your financial situation allows you to become a backer, I need you to share this project with your friends and family. Don’t just hit “Share” on Facebook and spread the link around without any context—include a personal message to let your readers know why you think I’m worth their time and attention. It is crucial that you tell people this. How often do you click on random, non-contextualized links on social media sites?

I really cannot accomplish my goals without your help. So if you enjoy my music and want to get your hands on more of it, please do what you can to get my IndieGoGo campaign up to its goals.

In the meantime, the rest of this week will see the publishing of a new series of posts, called “From Composition to Completion”, in which I’ll be detailing the process by which my music gets made. If you’ve ever been curious about my songwriting process, or how it is a finished recording is created, you won’t want to miss this series.



Published January 13th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I wrote the original version of this song in high school. (How many songs do I have to my name now for which that is the case?) This song is about the loss of dreams, the loss of one’s sense of self, and the reclaiming of both of those things.

How many people do you know who talk about things they want to do, but aren’t doing, or who talk about things they wanted to do, but act as if they no longer have the chance to? This is a song for them. Life is not a thing that’s happening to you, it is a story that you have the power to write yourself. So don’t give up on your dreams. You need those to survive, to be human.

It is my hope that this song will help someone somewhere remember that, and reclaim dreams that they’ve lost.

Faerie Dreams
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

There was magic, once, in everything,
       from the sunset to the trees.
She watched it fall as snowflakes,
       heard it whisper on the breeze.
She knew that she belonged outside,
       to dream in rain or shine,
To make warfare over wild berries,
       and peace among the pines.

There was a dragon in the car port,
       and gremlins in the car,
A werewolf in the forest,
       and gnomes beneath the yard.
She dreamed them real, and many more,
       every night and day,
But of all the friends she played with,
       her favorite were the fey.

              And she built castles of moss and of stone,
              Decked with acorn caps and borrowed bones.
              And she peered through reality’s seams
              As she dreamed her faerie dreams.

She would lay out tiny clothes for them
       on their beds of cottonseed,
Elegant gowns of flower petals,
       walking sticks of reed.
Their feast ware was made of tiny shells
       she found around the creek,
Their statues, empty cicada hulls
       from summer’s burning peak.

But summer shortly faded,
       as all things pass with time.
She got caught up in the reason,
       but forgot about the rhyme.
Adulthood slowly stripped away
       the wonder from her eyes,
And she forgot that in dreaming,
       her inner peace resides.

              Now she builds credit and lives on her own,
              And works two jobs just to pay her student loans.
              But she must peer through maturity’s seams
              To reclaim her fairy dreams.

There was never time for daydreams
       for far too many years,
For she had obligations to fulfill,
       and far too many fears.
She had to scramble just to keep up,
       but it was never quite enough.
She tried to keep on pushing,
       she struggled to be tough.

Then one day her mother sent her
       a piece of artwork she had drawn.
There were fairies dancing ‘round
       in a ring upon the lawn.
It had been in her childhood
       that she had drawn the scene,
But it came from the past and rescued her
       like a long-forgotten key.

              Now she draws castles of moss and of stone
              That give her freedom and hope for tomorrow.
              And she remakes her reality’s seams
              With the help of her fairy dreams.

Next week there will be a very important post published! If you want to pre-order “Faces in the Fog” and/or “[untitled]“, you won’t want to miss it!



Published January 6th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To understand this song, you have to have seen the movie “Ink”. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll wait.



Have you seen it now?

Good.

I had the good fortune to see this movie when I was TAing at school one summer for one of those highschool-students-taking-a-college-course things. The instructor (who happens to be one of my favorite people for a variety of reasons) would assign the students their work and then put on a movie, because the days were pretty long and the background noise was nice. This movie utterly blew. My. Mind. I love every part of it, from the cinematography to the music to the VFX to the adorable woodenness of some of the acting. This movie is a piece of delicious, delicious art, and I knew I would have to write a song about it at some point.

This summer, I decided to do just that. This is a song for Liev, the Storyteller. I expect at some point there will be a song for Jacob, because there has to be a song for Jacob.


A Long Walk
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell
Based on the movie “Ink”

              It’s a long walk down that hallway,
              Even longer to find the key.
              It’s a long fall into numbness—
              But who knows what the end of the story may be?

I can tell from your scars your entry was painful—
A suicide, I’m guessing?
You know me—but not her?
Don’t remember what you were—
And you run from what you’re repressing.

       You think I’ve an army to cover my back,
       But I swear I’m completely alone.
       No one’s coming for me—there is no trap,
       For I came to find you on my own.

              It’s a long walk down that hallway,
              Even longer to find the key.
              It’s a long fall into numbness—
              But who knows what the end of the story may be?

This girl is your ticket to beauty and bliss—
Yet I see what you still deny.
You insist and pretend
She’s just a means to an end—
But why do I see guilt in your eyes?

       She means nothing to you, you say now and said then,
       She’s just a tool in this selfish endeavor…
       You can cover your face with your hood once again—
       But you can’t fight the truth forever.

              It’s a long walk down that hallway,
              Even longer to find the key.
              It’s a long fall into numbness—
              But who knows what the end of the story may be?

We will meet the Assembly in their hall of shadow,
Where innocence goes to drown.
You’re damned either way—
At least’s that’s what you say—
But this isn’t how it has to go down.

       Take one last look as time flows from my veins,
       Tell me you don’t feel something’s wrong.
       You thought I was here for the lioness in chains…
       But I was here for you both all along.

              It’s a long walk down that hallway,
              Even longer to find the key.
              It’s a long fall into numbness—
              But who knows what the end of the story may be?

                      This is what you will choose to be,
                      But there’s still time to write an alternate ending.
                      Look at that girl—tell me who you see—
                      And know there is no more time for pretending.

              It’s a long walk into memory,
              Made harder when shame won’t allow.
              It’s a long climb up to redemption,
              But you see now—yes…you…see…now…



Published December 30th, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I was given this book in high school, whereupon which I added it to my shelves and promptly forgot about it.

My first semester in college, I remembered that it existed, and read it. While I was sorry I waited so long to discover a superlative piece of fiction, I was pleased to discover that there was a sequel intended, and that it would be releasing a week after I finished the book. So it worked out.

This was one of those songs that I hadn’t intended to write (at least by my recollection), but that came out all the same. I love those. I love being so moved by a thought or idea, or in this case, another author’s work of fiction, that a song weaves itself together and pops out. And I really do recommend this series. I’ve been re-reading all the books as the newest one comes out, which isn’t a thing I normally do with books. Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to reread number four since it came out a couple of years ago…

And OH LOOK, number five is due out in May. Huzzah!


Gray One
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell
Based on The Green Rider by Kristen Britain

Ancient magic stirs that should never be released—
There’s a quiet, subtle sabotage to bring about the fall.
He bound us to his bidding with one and two apiece,
Now we all haunt the footsteps of the one who broke the Wall.

       The Gray One calls me…but I won’t answer,
       For I’m no pawn and I know my rightful track.
       The Gray One calls me—I hear him louder,
       Held in thrall by these arrows in my back.

He thinks me bound in servitude, but underestimates
The will of one determined to see a quest succeed.
He thinks he can control me, but ever more he waits,
For I must guide the footsteps of the one who’ll do the deed.

       The Gray One calls me…but I won’t answer,
       For I’m no pawn and I know my rightful track.
       The Gray One calls me—I hear him louder,
       Held in thrall by these arrows in my back.

It shouldn’t be her burden—but life is seldom fair,
Now she’s as much a part of this as I had ever been.
Torments lie ahead of her worse than I had had to bear,
For danger stalks the footsteps of the ones who wear the green.

       The Gray One calls me…but I won’t answer,
       For I’m no pawn and I know my rightful track.
       The Gray One calls me—I hear him louder,
       Held in thrall by these arrows in my back.

Somewhere down the road when the evil is revealed,
This girl will do my duty in my place.
And in her desperate hour will her magic be unsealed,
And the dead will speed the footsteps of the rider who must race.

       The Gray One calls me…but I won’t answer,
       For I’m no pawn and I know my rightful track.
       The Gray One calls me—I hear him louder,
       Held in thrall by these arrows in my back.

       Break the arrows…
       Break the arrows…