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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 December 9th, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

A couple of years ago, I went to a friend’s house and she showed Sean and me the movie “Coraline“. Produced by Laika, this stop-motion animated film had it all: A beautiful original score, talented voice acting, masterful animation, beautiful shot and art direction, and oh yeah, it was based on a story written by Neil Gaiman. The movie has some differences from the story (because of course), but it is one of my most favorite things ever. And I can really, really relate to Coraline’s relationship with her parents.

In the movie, they never examine the Ghost Children’s backgrounds, and in the book, the Ghost Children are completely different. So I sort of had to take some liberties to write this song, but I did base the verses off the apparent time periods of the movie Ghost Children. As she’s babbling to the character Wybie, Coraline describes the Ghost Children as “…this pioneer girl, then Huck Finn Jr., then it was this Little Rascals chick…” So given that information, I guessed.

The first girl would have come west on the Oregon Trail, most likely, which is well-known for being fraught with peril. (In case you missed it, that reference was a joke, but seriously, the Oregon Trail was no picnic.)

The boy I figured might have been born to a father who was a lumberjack, and possibly, due to difficult times or just a naturally mean demeanor, abusive. I can see a little boy yearning for escapism like that provided by the Other Mother because of such a scenario. And this might be more of a modern-day train of thought, but how many rough, tough, burly men do you know that are comfortable with their sons playing with dolls?

And the third ghost was likely growing up during the Great Depression. That’s definitely cause for wanting some escapism right there. She might have been too young to fully understand what was going on (“And an odd, malignant misery”), but children are very perceptive.

This song came for me while I was at work one day. It was one of those that came tumbling out of my head. It was just in time for Halloween in 2012. There’s a recording of it up on Wax Chaotic’s ReverbNation profile from a concert we performed in December of 2012. The keyboard voice was chosen because it sounded sort of like a music box, and that seemed wholly appropriate.

I love this song. And yes, apparently I think that breathing is for wimps.


Hush and Shush
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

She sells you pretty promises
With wonders, treats, and games galore,
Knowing no matter how she gives,
That you’ll always want more.
A treat my father thought he found
Turned out to be a spy,
And they only know I disappeared—
But they’ll never know why.

I admit that I was foolish,
But the journey West was hard—
My mother and two brothers
Didn’t make it quite this far.
I yearned to find a perfect world,
But didn’t factor in the cost,
Then I took the chance to reunite
With loved ones I had lost.

       Hush and shush
       Or the Beldam will hear you—
       You’re a fly in her web,
       Don’t let her come near you
       With her needle and thread,
       Don’t believe what she’s said,
       And don’t let her sew the buttons
       Like we did.

Between the pines and firs
And the redwoods grown for centuries,
I played at war with other boys,
And pushed against my boundaries.
It wasn’t quite refusal
To follow given rules,
It was more of an escape route
From a father cold and cruel.

Then I found myself revealing
An escape that was quite different,
And to my great joy and delight,
She said it could be permanent.
I don’t recall my name,
But here, behind the mirrored glass,
I remember my true mommy
And wonder how she is.

       Hush and shush
       Or the Beldam will hear you—
       You’re a fly in her web,
       Don’t let her come near you
       With her needle and thread,
       Don’t believe what she’s said,
       And don’t let her sew the buttons
       Like we did.

I grew up in misty mountains
Where the rain is filled with mystery,
With my parents and my sister—
And an odd, malignant misery.
I had imagination,
And not a whole lot more,
Until I found the world of wonder
Through that tiny, wooden door.

I was trapped just like the others,
And like them, I yearn to run,
But we cannot leave this prison world
Until our favor’s done.
Oh, find us, girl, and free us fast,
And we’ll help get you home,
And be smart, for even if you win,
She’ll never let you go.

       Hush and shush
       Or the Beldam will hear you—
       You’re a fly in her web,
       Don’t let her come near you
       With her needle and thread,
       Don’t believe what she’s said,
       And don’t let her sew the buttons
       Like we did.

       Hush and shush, Mistress,
       Hush and shush, Mistress,
       Hush and shush…shhh…



Published September 23rd, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

A reminder, Wax Chaotic is currently running a fundraiser for our 2014 tour. Several of our rewards involve studio recordings of new songs, and as this is the studio that will be producing those recordings, I thought I would share the lyrics for those new songs.

The songs we’re offering at various reward levels are:

“In Another Castle” and “Bridge” are currently available for your listening pleasure on YouTube, and the lyrics were posted with their videos. So here are the lyrics for “MWAHAHAHA!”.


We Are Filkers
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I’ve loved making music ever since I was a tot,
And I’m no Julie Andrews, but I think I do all right.
I lucked into a fannish family of sympathetic thought—
We stay up making music well into the night.
But I think that I was sheltered in those bardic rings.
I never realized “filk” is a four-letter word.
Some folks are really rude (not to mention other things),
Like it’s not a viable way to be a nerd.

I see some geek musicians with their noses in the air,
Insulted when they are filkers named.
“Filkers aren’t musicians!” they stubbornly declare,
So…ok. Sure. Let’s play that little game.

       We
       Are
       Filkers,
       And we’re just wannabes.
       Our talent lies in
       Pretending we’re real musicians.
       We
       Are
       Filkers,
       We take ourselves too seriously—
       We’re freakish upstarts
       With way too much ambition.

Warning: Names have been changed to protect the awesome.

Kelley is a teacher at university.
Her first love was music, at an early age.
She has a Doctorate of Musicology,
And has never felt awkward on a stage.
She has perfect pitch and loves to sing,
She keeps time better than a metronome,
And one of her most favorite things
Is hosting bardics at her home.

She’s a massive of fan of fantastic fiction,
And dragons are her favorite mythic beast.
You may find all this incongruous,
But it isn’t that uncommon in the least!

        ‘Cause we
       Are
       Filkers,
       And we’re just wannabes.
       Our talent lies in
       Pretending we’re real musicians.
       We
       Are
       Filkers,
       We take ourselves too seriously—
       We’re freakish upstarts
       With way too much ambition.

Andrew got his first guitar at the tender age of seven,
Now he’s played for almost thirty years.
Instrument stores are little bits of heaven,
And what he does on his guitar would reduce you to tears.
When his day job’s schedule allows,
He makes the rounds to all the filk cons.
He loves the closeness filking endows
So much stays in circle until dawn.

He has two collections of which he’s very proud:
Instruments, and novels set in space.
He’d have a hundred more of each if his house allowed,
So with filkers, he’s never out of place.

       We
       Are
       Filkers,
       And we’re just wannabes.
       Our talent lies in
       Pretending we’re real musicians.
       We
       Are
       Filkers,
       We take ourselves too seriously—
       We’re freakish upstarts
       With way too much ambition.

Nancy’s been a filker since 1982
When a cousin took her to a bardic ring.
After that first evening, she knew this love was true,
And since then she’s been hosting her own ‘sings.
She doesn’t play an instrument, she can’t hold a tune,
But she has a passion for the music all the same.
Talent’s not the point, though others may impugn;
There’s always different ways to play a game.

So before you write us off, I still have this to say,
And I hope that you’ll stop making this mistake:
Musicianship is not about how well you play,
It’s about how much you love the music that you make.

       Yes, we
       Are
       Filkers,
       And guess what? So are you!
       If you sing songs of
       Science-fiction or fantasy.
       We
       Are
       Filkers,
       We’re musicians, too,
       And…like it or not…
       We’re all part
       Of one big family.


This song is filled with pure, unabashed snark. I wrote it in response to a very annoying and sadly pervasive attitude within the fannish community, present not only among non-musicians, but also among those who are musically inclined. As it says in the song, “filk” is apparently a four-letter word in certain areas. (For those who don’t know, “filk” is essentially the folk music of science-fiction and fantasy fandom, but it can and does span multiple genres).

Filkers are viewed negatively because there are many of us who, to borrow a line, sing without a voice. I have talked before about how I feel about the opinion that those who cannot sing well, shouldn’t sing at all. If a filker isn’t talented enough to conceivably go pro, then they’re not allowed to enjoy performing—they’re an embarrassment to fandom, so let’s just sweep them under the carpet and get them out of the way.

Also, anyone who identifies as a filker is, by association, not a real musician and therefore couldn’t possibly have any talent to speak of. And there are many professional fannish musicians who turn somersaults to avoid being associated with filk and filkers because, well, they are real musicians, thank you very much.

Both of these ideas are, if you’ll pardon my language, complete and utter bullshit. Some of the most talented musicians I have ever heard are filkers. And some of the best musicians I have ever had the privilege of sharing space with couldn’t hold a tune in a bucket—but like the song says, talent isn’t the point. Music is the point. And I think that some of the people who inspired this song would do well to remember that.

This song is also available on the thumb drive introduced at the “Over the Border” package.



Published September 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

A reminder, Wax Chaotic is currently running a fundraiser for our 2014 tour. Several of our rewards involve studio recordings of new songs, and as this is the studio that will be producing those recordings, I thought I would share the lyrics for those new songs.

The songs we’re offering at various reward levels are:

“In Another Castle” and “Bridge” are currently available for your listening pleasure on YouTube, and the lyrics were posted with their videos. So here are the lyrics for “Coat of Scars”.


Coat of Scars
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

       I have scars.
       They’re pictures only I can see
       Drawn in fine lines like the roots of a tree,
       They braid with the timeline ‘til they
       Look like me
       I can never,
       Don’t know if I want to be
       Free
       From my scars.

There’s a mass of tangled lines…
If you squint, you’ll see traces of
Careworn and loveable faces—
Look harder and you’ll see the signs
Of the architects behind my façade.
They take and they scheme,
They think this is chess, and I, the pawn,
Without realizing I’ve begun to move on—
Freedom is my greatest dream.
And they are the stuff of which nightmares are made.

       I have scars.
       They’re pictures only I can see
       Drawn in fine lines like the roots of a tree,
       They braid with the timeline ‘til they
       Look like me
       I can never,
       Don’t know if I want to be
       Free
       From my scars.

Some scars hide under the skin…
We all know from school
Our fellows can be so cruel,
And some games we never can win
When those in charge set us up to fail.
These scars fade more each day,
But still, they contribute to who I am.
I still can’t quite understand
Why we treat each other that way,
And why kindness does not prevail.

       I have scars.
       They’re pictures only I can see
       Drawn in fine lines like the roots of a tree,
       They braid with the timeline ‘til they
       Look like me
       I can never,
       Don’t know if I want to be
       Free
       From my scars.

I’ve drawn many lines of my own…
I ignore intuition
And forego all inhibition—
My mistakes cut me right to the bone,
And all too often haunt me at night.
Regret is a dangerous game.
Sometimes it’s hard not to dwell;
Obsessing only creates a living hell.
I’m drawn like a moth to a flame—
I try to release instead and take flight.

       I have scars.
       They’re pictures only I can see
       Drawn in fine lines like the roots of a tree,
       They braid with the timeline ‘til they
       Look like me
       I can never,
       Don’t know if I want to be
       Free
       From my scars.

Now see the other side of the coin:
When the storm has been weathered,
Our strength and our mettle are tempered,
And we can much better enjoin
Our fears to lose their control.
This is how we learn,
Through failure and pain we can grow,
To rise high, we must start off low—
And reborn from that in which we burn,
We find ourselves a little closer to whole.

       I have scars.
       They’re pictures only I can see
       Drawn in fine lines like the roots of a tree,
       They braid with the timeline ‘til they
       Look like me
       I can never,
       Don’t know if I want to be
       Free
       From my scars.

               I know they won’t likely erase,
               That they’re part of my very being.
               But I temper them by seeing
               Where their root lines have left a trace.
               The lines are all here,
               Scattered and clear,
               Upon my

       Coat of scars.
       They’re pictures only I can see
       Drawn in fine lines like the roots of a tree,
       They braided with the timeline ‘til they
       Looked like me
       I can never,
       Don’t know if I want to be
       Free
       From my scars.


This song is ultimately bound for inclusion on “[untitled]“. It is perhaps one of the most personal things I have ever written. It is also an attempt for me to examine some negative aspects in my life while at the same time acknowledging that, while negative, they are completely necessary. I would not be the person I am today without having been all those people before, and having gone through all the things I’ve been through. And overall, I’m usually pretty happy with the person I am right now. There are two sides to every coin. This is my effort to express appreciation for the darker side.

This song is available on a Wax Chaotic branded thumb drive starting at the “Over the Border” package, along with four other studio recordings of unreleased songs.



Published September 8th, 2013 at 8:48 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

Wax Chaotic is currently running a fundraiser for our 2014 tour. Several of our rewards involve studio recordings of new songs, and as this is the studio that will be producing those recordings, I thought I would share the lyrics for those new songs.

The songs we’re offering at various reward levels are:

  • In Another Castle
  • MWAHAHAHA!
  • Coat of Scars
  • We are Filkers
  • Bridge
  • From Steel

“In Another Castle” and “Bridge” are currently available for your listening pleasure on YouTube, and the lyrics were posted with their videos. So here are the lyrics for “MWAHAHAHA!”.


MWAHAHAHA!
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

Thanks to the media, no one takes me seriously—
I can threaten, I can intimidate, but they just grin their stupid grins.
I’m tired of my reputation being marred so egregiously,
And I’m sick of how the bad guy never wins.

If I had a dollar for every mocking laugh,
Then oh, what an army of minions I could raise!
If you think you’ve got it bad, then you don’t know the half
Of it, ‘cause it’s not easy being an evil genius these days.

So I set about to prove that I’m comic villain bad,
And there’ve been a few—erm, roadblocks—on the way.
The burn marks are all gone now (mostly), and while that’s pretty rad,
I’m still working on my self-esteem as I say…

       MWAHAHAHA
       On my way down the
               Hidden stair—
       MWAHAHAHA
       To the projects that a-
               Wait me there.
       It’s clear to me
       My victory
       Will happen just as planned—
       They laugh and write me off,
       But should know better than to scoff—
       What part of
       MWAHAHAHA
       Don’t they understand?

“Money is power”, or at least that’s what they say,
So I spent several months planning for a major bank withdrawal.
Getting in, I knew, would for me be child’s play,
Thanks to this nifty gizmo I made that lets me walk through walls.

In retrospect, I should have fully tested it—instead, I jumped the gun,
And found myself not in the vault, but an alternate reality.
So far it hasn’t proven true two heads are better than one,
But maybe that’s because the second belongs to another me.

Thank evil I’ve got brains—who needs experience?—
At least I’m never plagued by guys in spandex underpants.
If I can only overcome my own incompetence,
Then maybe someday I’ll have half a chance.

       MWAHAHAHA
       On my way down the
               Hidden stair—
       MWAHAHAHA
       To the projects that a-
               Wait me there.
       It’s clear to me
       My victory
       Will happen just as planned—
       They laugh and write me off,
       But should know better than to scoff—
       What part of
       MWAHAHAHA
       Don’t they understand?

There was a time I worked to hold a monument for ransom,
Thinking surely that would be a way to put myself in power.
I gave them my demands and stood outside the Louvre, within each hand some
Nozzles that would blast the thing, and gave the world an hour.

Helicopters cordoned off the sky, while police were on the ground.
Members of the fourth estate tried to observe my every move.
All was going well, despite my timer counting down,
And if I didn’t win, well, at least my true nature I could prove.

Finally the word came down—quel suprise, they thought I was a joke.
I hit the switches on my cannons, ready to realize my dreams.
But what happened afterward was only ridicule and smoke…
…yeah, you don’t want to know what happened when I crossed the streams.

       But still I say
       MWAHAHAHA
       On my way down the
               Hidden stair—
       MWAHAHAHA
       To the projects that a-
               Wait me there.
       It’s clear to me
       My victory
       Will happen just as planned—
       They laugh and write me off,
       But should know better than to scoff—
       What part of
       MWAHAHAHA
       Don’t they understand?

Once I set about to terrorize New York City with a ray
That would allow me to control anyone I fired it upon.
I dreamed of city officials doing anything I’d say,
Thus at long last ushering in my new world order’s dawn.

In tests, the gadget worked without a hitch! …on mice…
But the human brain is more complex than those of lesser creatures.
So for now I’ve put my mind control ray on ice
Until I can add to it a few more…helpful…features.

But I’m learning from my failures, and this one particularly,
Though I’ll never forgive myself for the havoc I set free.
It’s not hard to see the flaws when they’re viewed lenticularly,
But it figures I’d be behind the world’s fascination with reality TV.

…that’s kind of evil, right?

       And I say
       MWAHAHAHA
       On my way down the
               Hidden stair—
       MWAHAHAHA
       To the projects that a-
               Wait me there.
       It’s clear to me
       My victory
       Will happen just as planned—
       They laugh and write me off,
       But should know better than to scoff—
       What part of
       MWAHAHAHA
       Don’t they understand?

I’ve been resisting the urge to build a time machine
And travel forward in it to go ask myself some things.
I’d really like to know what “keep it simple, stupid” means,
But mostly I just want to see myself be King.

Or maybe I’d call myself Emperor. No, I know! Her Grand High and Mightiness, Ruler of the World and All Her Satellites, Enslaver of Mankind, Supreme Evil Genius Extraordinaire, Master of All She Surveys, Empress of All Things Chocolate, Supreme Monarch of the—

Guitarist: AHEM!

—right, sorry.

But anyway, it’s back to work at the good ol’ the drawing board—
I’ve a deadline to meet, and I’m running out of time.
I’ll give good use to all the data that the NSA has stored,
‘Cause I’m the only one who should be the next Napoleon of Crime!

(I bet he didn’t have OSHA breathing down his neck…)

Soon it will be time to unveil my latest creation—
All it needs is one last little test.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed it won’t lead to my own cremation—
Yes, it’d be nice if this one were more stable than the rest.

       And still I say
       MWAHAHAHA
       On my way down the
               Hidden stair—
       MWAHAHAHA
       To the projects that a-
               Wait me there.
       It’s clear to me
       My victory
       Will happen just as planned—
       They laugh and write me off,
       But should know better than to scoff—
       What part of
       MWAHAHAHA
       Don’t they understand?


This is intended to be a singalong, or laughalong if you will. There are twenty opportunities available, at time of writing, for you guys to send in your best evil laugh for inclusion on the studio recording of this track. I don’t often write things that are funny, so I’m really excited to get this song out into the world, and I’d love it if some of you joined me in getting it out there. The opportunity to participate in this track is available at the appropriately-named “Mad Scientist’s Convention” level, which is set at $50 and also comes with a free download of the finished track.

So practice your evil laugh (because that’s about standards, really), and join the Mad Scientist’s Convention!



Published August 5th, 2013 at 7:06 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

Whew. The Lyrics Dump Promotion is finally over. Well, ok, almost. Seven of the nine songs are recorded and released. Soon it will be time for a brea—

Nerts to that, time for the next project.

I mentioned that my next project would actually be TWO albums, and that is still very much the plan. Now that I’ve gotten a few kinks worked out, it’s time for the big reveal—what albums I’m going to be doing next, and what songs will be on them. The first one involves some old, familiar friends.

Album Name: Faces in the Fog

Track List

  1. Cold September Ground
  2. Kiss Me, Jak Frost
  3. The Garden
  4. Fall from Grace
  5. Runaway
  6. The Stallion and the Rose: The Choice
  7. By Blood
  8. Wet Velvet
  9. Jack the Ripper
  10. Stepping Stones
  11. The Stallion and the Rose: The Debt
  12. The Singing of Dragons
  13. 9 Lives
  14. Departure
  15. Hush and Shush
  16. A Flame that Burns in Darkness
  17. Gray One
  18. A Long Walk
  19. Faerie Dreams

If you’re noticing that a lot of that first one looks familiar, there’s a good reason for that. See, I made “Cold September Ground” sorta backwards. I made it before I knew what I was doing, for one, and I made it before I knew if anyone would really be interested in it. Well, people are. In fact, by my standards, people are pretty damn interested (you’ve all given me cause to keep making music, so I consider that pretty damn interested). There are things I wanted to do the first time around that I wasn’t able to do partially because of a lack of experience, but also because of a lack of time. CSG was a student project. I had to have it finished by a certain date in order to graduate from college. Now that I’m all graduated ‘n stuff, I wanted to take another crack at it. I didn’t do as well on it as I could have, and it’s actually made me kinda sad.

The CSG content will not be remixes. They will be entirely new recordings. What’s more, most of them will also have extra things thrown into the arrangements, if I have my way. For example: I originally wanted a violin part in “Jack the Ripper”. That wasn’t possible the first time around. Another example: The lead accompaniment in “9 Lives” was intended to be a chiptune. That also wasn’t possible. This time around, I can add in all that nifty stuff that didn’t make it into the final cuts the first time.

The reason why this album will be called “Faces in the Fog” and not something like “Cold September Ground Version 2.0″ is because of six additional tracks at the end that are essentially an EP. These are all new, though we’ve been doing “Hush and Shush” at Wax Chaotic concerts for some time. They still fit the theme of the original album, though, so I think they’ll work in nicely.

This redux/EP combo is actually the reason why I intend to do two albums at the same time. I’d feel kinda shitty if my next effort was essentially my first effort, just with some extra stuff thrown in (even if it’s lots of extra stuff, as I intend it to be). But I’d really like to get this one done. I do hope you all will bear with me.

Now for the next one.

Album Name: [untitled]

Track List

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

This one is a heckuva lot different from the other one. Its theme is, “Where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going”. It’s a lot more personal, and it’s something I need to get out. You’ll note that some of these songs were actually part of the Lyrics Dump Promotion, but there’s plenty of new content where those came from.

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.

Please note that with the exception of the CSG tracks, which I wish to keep in their original order, the track order of the EP and of “[untitled]” is still subject to change. I’ve put a lot of thought into the songs themselves, though, and so I feel pretty confident that this is what will be on each album. But I must confess that at least half of the material on “[untitled]” hasn’t been written yet. The ideas are clear enough in my mind that I could put names to them, but I’m still working on detailing the specifics.

Sean and I are going to be laying down the initial tracks for things around our practice and performance schedule, and we’re going to start in September. I’m hoping to have both of these albums ready to print no later but hopefully far earlier than the fall or winter of 2014. I’m still trying to decide what—if anything—I want to do in regards to crowdfunding for these projects, but given another announcement you’ll find a paragraph or two below, I’m thinking crowdfunding is likely going to happen. You’ll definitely hear about it if it does.

Because of this project, our tour for next year will be starting later than it normally does. Usually we take a break starting at the beginning of December and then head back out at the beginning of February. In 2014, our tour won’t begin until mid-April. The reason for this is that our day jobs don’t leave us with much time and energy during the week. That means that the weekends are our primary windows for recording, but that’s also when most of our shows are (SF cons especially). By adding an extra couple of months to our break, we hope to make a serious dent in the to-do list for these albums before we again set foot on the road.

And speaking of the tour…

We have decided that we want to release a Wax Chaotic album. It is intended to be a compilation of live performances from our 2014 tour, and we mean to call it “Vagabonds”. We don’t know yet what will be on it, but it seemed like a fun project to work on. (Don’t be afraid to weigh in—if there’s a song you’d like to hear on the album, let us know!).

If all goes well, it will be released either very late in 2014 or very early in 2015. So there’s three albums we’ve got on our to-do list for the next year and a half. We are nothing if not ambitious.

Now allow me to elaborate on what I mean by “if all goes well”.

One of the Super Secret Things we’ve been working on in the background is a fundraising project for our tour next year. The campaign is due to launch September 1st. If you’ve seen us this year doggedly getting video of our performances or asking you if we can record your feedback, this project is the reason why. We’re still keeping lots of the details under our hats for now, but since we have so many events in August, we figured it couldn’t hurt to start promoting our fundraising campaign now.

We’re doing this because the road is no longer whispering or muttering our names. It is practically screaming them. We want to be out in the world, seeing new places and making music for people. I know that for me personally, it is something that practically consumes my every waking thought. It follows me in my sleep, and it keeps me up at night. But in order to be as active next year as I want us to be, we’re going to need help. Thus, we’re having the fundraising campaign.

And I’m probably biased, but some of the backer rewards we’ve decided on are pretty awesome. We’re doing things like custom songwriting, “Wax Chaotic” branded thumb drives with unreleased studio versions of new songs, the chance to participate in a studio version of one of the new songs, artwork, autographed photos, autographed and handwritten lyrics sheets…the list goes on. The point is, we’re wracking our brains to think up all sorts of cool things we can to give you folks in exchange for your getting us out further from home next year.

We’ve been working since May or June of this year to start confirming shows for next year, and slowly they are beginning to cement themselves on the calendar. We even have a few of them to announce when the fundraiser actually launches. In the meanwhile, if anyone out there reading hosts house concerts or is in charge of programming for an SF con, Pagan festival, or other such event, please drop us a line.

Keep an eye here or on Facebook for more details upon the launch of this campaign.

But so that essentially means that Dragon Scale Studios will be producing three albums over the course of the next year and a half or so. And I’m pretty damn stoked about it! I hope you’ll be keeping an eye out for more updates as we’re able to share more information with you. We are so excited about everything that it’s impossible to describe. And you make it happen. You’re kinda awesome, huh?



Published May 24th, 2013 at 6:13 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

Greetings! For the uninitiated, my name is Katt McConnell and this is the blog for my recording studio, Dragon Scale Studios. It hasn’t been getting updated nearly as often as my other blog, but things are about to get a whole lot livelier around here.

Last year I ran a promotion called The Lyrics Dump in which I posted the lyrics to new songs to the blog once a month for nine months and then invited my readers to vote for which ones would get recorded in the studio. The results were that all nine songs are due to be recorded, and I’ve been working away at that project ever since. I wanted to have things released a lot sooner than they’re going to be—we’ve been hampered by noisy neighbor-owned lawnmowers outside the studio window (we don’t have soundproofing), day jobs, surgery, and other such things—but in the end I think the delay hasn’t been a terrible thing. Sean, my husband and the guitarist on all of these tracks and I have been busy touring as Wax Chaotic, and the experience has definitely done us some good. It’s helped shape the songs into what they’ve become for these recordings, and it’s given us a good feel for what we want them to be upon release.

But I am very excited to announce that the first of the nine Lyrics Dump songs should be released no later than Friday, May 31st (which is also coincidentally my birthday). Keep an eye out here and on the Facebook page for further information.

In addition to this new release, I have some other exciting things to announce! Firstly, something from the past. I had the honor of being Interfilk Guest at this year’s FilKONtario. I was intending to do a full blog about the con but then we had a Wax Chaotic concert at Penguicon the weekend afterward and when we got home I proceeded to get very busy working on a lot of things, most notably all this recording I mentioned. But suffice it to say that that was probably one of the best weekends of my life. The people were all utterly amazing, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and the entire affair was just very exciting to me. Endless thanks go to Interfilk for sending me up there, and to my friend Bill Sutton for convincing them it was a good idea to do so.

Next, something for the future.

I have decided what my next albums will be. Yes, albums plural. As in, I intend to work on and release two albums at the same time. One benefit of having a recording studio in your home is that you can do insane things like this. …and one of the downsides of having a recording studio in your home is that you can do insane things like this. I expect it will be an interesting project. I haven’t written out a formal timeline yet because we’re still in the midst of trying to get the Lyrics Dump songs out the metaphorical door, but I do hope to release these albums sometime in mid to late 2014. Album titles and track lists will be publicized once I have the last few kinks worked out (or in other words there’s a song I know I want on one of them that I don’t know the name of yet because I haven’t written it yet).

And while we’re talking about the future, Wax Chaotic has many more shows coming up this year. We’d really love to see you at any of them! We get to keep doing all this awesome stuff—creating and releasing studio recordings of original material, performing for people, making new friends, writing new music—because of you. So come out to a concert if you can and have fun with us!

I think that’s it for today then. Expect there to be more activity going on here for a little while, at least until all of the Lyrics Dump songs are out in the world. After that I might get quiet again while working on the mystery albums. In the meantime, I leave you with this. Enjoy!



Published November 22nd, 2012 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

It’s been an…interesting year. I’ve gone through a couple of major life changes, and not all of them were pleasant. But even in the midst of a shit storm, I do try to give some mind to what’s good in my life. Lately I’ve found myself really thinking about it—it’s the month for it, after all, at least here in the US—and I wanted to share those thoughts.


I don’t normally do this. I’m actually pretty cynical about Thanksgiving for a lot of reasons. But I owe a lot of amazing people a tremendous amount of thanks, so this year, here’s a list of what I’m thankful for. And being that this is a music blog, you’ll probably notice a theme.

I’m thankful for my band mates, for putting up with my idiosyncrasies, and for being there to share both the good and the bad times.

I’m thankful for the friends who are always ready and willing to share music. Any music. You guys, and the community we build around the music, are more important to me than I will ever be able to express.

I’m thankful for the friends who are willing to let me share my music, and who get excited about new pieces.

I’m thankful for the friend who asked, in an endearing, semi-silly, yet totally serious tone I can only imagine her mother uses, when she’d be seeing my name on the ballot for a Pegasus award.

I’m thankful for the friend who said she’d have voted for a song of mine if it had been on the ballot this year. (That seriously is such an honor that it almost made me cry.)

I’m thankful for the friend who gallivants around the Midwest on buses so she can see me at conventions.

I’m thankful for the friend who believed that something about me and how I look at music is cool enough that he convinced a bunch of really sweet people that it was a good idea to send me to Canada next year.

I’m thankful for the friend who brought us soup.

I’m thankful for the two friends whose generosity is always especially surprising.

I’m thankful for the doctor who diagnosed and then treated my GERD, and at whose direction my hernia was diagnosed. I’m thankful that I know that there are other health professionals who are ready and willing to help me get rid of both of those problems (and here’s hoping my insurance will approve things again).

I’m thankful for Kickstarter, and I’m more thankful for the generous people who made pledges for “Cold September Ground” and not only helped all this wonderful, terrifying, humbling craziness happen, but enabled me to graduate from college in grandiose style.

I’m thankful for all the new people—all the new listeners, all the convention programming people who’d never heard of us, all the new friends interested in what I’m doing with my life—who’ve joined the party.

I’m thankful for all the convention programming people in general, and also thankful for all of the sound crews who’ve done shows for us this past year and change.

I’m thankful for the friend who is a sound guy and always down for doing a gig.

I’m thankful for the joy I get from music even despite all the other shit that tries to get in the way.

And I’m thankful that I have people who believe in me even when I don’t believe very much in myself.

There are somewhere around 365 days in any given year. I am thankful for all of the above and more every day. Today I wanted to express my thanks, in no uncertain terms, for all I have and for all you all have given me. There are so many things that I am thankful for that I could never list everything. The above is just a small sampling. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it.



Published November 6th, 2012 at 5:56 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

Hi, folks! I know there might be some people reading here who aren’t on Wax Chaotic’s mailing list, so I wanted to let those in question know that our upcoming appearance at Starbase Indy has been CANCELLED.

If you were looking forward to seeing us there, fear not. Our talented friends at Archer Productions of Indianapolis are hooking us up with an end-of-year hurrah house concert at what is essentially the last minute. Needless to say, we can’t thank them enough.

So come help us bid a fond farewell to our 2012 tour. We hope to see you there!



Published October 23rd, 2012 at 5:02 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

Hello, everyone! As it’s getting closer to November 1st—which you might remember was the deadline I set to have all of the LD songs released by—you might be getting pretty excited. I’m pretty excited. But unfortunately, everything isn’t exactly going according to plan.

See, Sean and I live quite close to several neighbors. These neighbors, being people who are not gamers (read: Allergic to sunlight), like to do things like mow their lawns and play basketball in their driveways on the weekends. Since my studio is not soundproofed, this rather presents a problem. It’s interesting enough as it is trying to record in an unsoundproofed studio with our house being right on a busy street and all. But the activities of our neighbors have proved to be quite problematic

We have found, thankfully, that there is a window, albeit a narrow one, in which we can actually get some recording done. This window is from about 9:00 AM until about 11:00 AM on Sunday mornings. So we have been able to get a little work done on a couple of songs, but it’s been slow going.

This means that I will not be releasing anything on the first of next month as I’d intended. It also means that I might need to wait a little until it’s cold and/or wet enough that those crazy outdoors-going-type-people stay inside for the majority of the day on the weekends. But this project is still definitely at the top of my list of priorities, and we’re getting into the studio whenever we’re able to find a few hours. I just wanted to let everyone know what’s going on.

Other than that, I do actually have some things to report, but they’re going to have to wait for now. I am somehow busier than I was when I was working on my Capstone project—it frightens me that that’s actually possible—and must be off to attend to other things. In the meantime, thank you for reading, and for your continued support. And if you’re going to Starbase Indy late next month, come see Wax Chaotic! It’s our last show of the year, and we’d love to see you all for one last hurrah before we go on our winter break.



Published July 8th, 2012 at 4:03 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

I’m going to interrupt the chorus of crickets that’s taken over this blog to give you guys a bit of an update.

I got a full-time job at the end of March. It’s my first full-time job, and it’s taken quite a bit to get adjusted to it. But it’s a necessary thing if I want to be able to do things like pay off student loans and finance all of this craziness to which I have become accustomed. The bad part is that means that I don’t have nearly as much time for things that I’d like to have time for, including posting here. So I haven’t been able to do things like continue the How to Bard Series (but hopefully I’ll be able to get back to that soon). However. Although I haven’t been doing much with the blog lately, I have been doing a lot behind the scenes.

In addition to the new job, I’ve been working on some freelance graphic design projects. I was fortunate enough to be hired to work on the layout design for All In Good Time, Jen Midkiff’s first solo album. There’s another project in the works that I’m very excited to see in print. And I have the odd website here and there that’s also in production. (On that note, Wax Chaotic’s website is now live!)

And of course there’s been plenty of musical mischief going on. Soon there will be videos on YouTube of Wax Chaotic’s recent performance at InConJunction. We have another house concert coming up on July 14th, another convention concert at MuseCon, and we’re working on other house concerts for the year—and even some gigs for next year. On top of that, voting for the Lyrics Dump Promotion opens a week from tomorrow, and depending on how that goes, recording will begin soon afterward.

So I wanted to let everyone know that yes, I’m still here, yes, I’m still plotting and scheming with scansion and rhyme as my primary tools for deviance, and that the full-time job is why I’ve been so quiet. I miss posting here. I hope I’ll be able to do more of it more regularly sometime soon. In the meantime, thanks for being here to read this even though I’ve hardly published anything since March.



Published April 30th, 2012 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

At the end of the small set I and my friends performed as part of my Capstone project, I took questions from the audience. One of those questions, posed by my friend Brat, was “Would you be willing to make a theme song for my game?” She was referring to her own Capstone project.

My response to her question was a very confident and reassuring, “I will try!

She contacted me about it again in January. I was both pleased and nervous. I was pleased because it was my first song commission and I really wanted to take the project. But I was nervous because creativity has its own whims and I wasn’t sure I would be able to bend those whims to my will. But I took the project and Brat sent me some details for it.

These details mostly consisted of background on the game she was working on. I needed this information, of course, so that I had something to write about. And even so, it was really interesting writing this song. Usually when I write songs I have a much greater understanding of their background, whether it’s something I’m basing off my own life or off a book, TV show, et cetera. With this game, all I had were Brat’s notes and that was it. I felt a little bit like I was flying blind. Therefore, I resolved to fling some words at a sheet of paper and then see what she thought of them.

The Muses were merciful in this instance and I was able to get the first verse and a tune at the same time. And quickly, to boot. But I found after writing the first verse that I wasn’t able to think of anything else to write and that I needed more background. So I sent what I had to Brat for approval, which I got, and I also sent her a list of questions to try and suss out some other details so that I could finish the song.

And then Brat got sick.

As I’m sure everyone knows, being sick sucks. So It’s no wonder I didn’t hear back from her for a little while.

A month later she sent me the info I needed. I sat down and hammered out a second verse and managed a chorus. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure about the tune, but I sent the entirety of the lyrics off to Brat. She responded with enthusiasm, so I figured the next step was to take the song to my musical partners in crime to get it chorded and arranged. They knocked it out in the space of about an hour and a half, and they helped me figure out the last kink in the tune. When I say my bandmates constantly amaze me, this is the sort of thing I’m talking about.

So by this point it was the second week of March. Brat needed the song fully recorded, mixed, and mastered no later than April 6th. …yeah. Commence Operation Get This Bugger Recorded.

Sean and I spent the next week and a half running through the song at least once a night most nights (with the exception of the night of our concert as part of S(cubed)apalooza). Then it was time to start recording. I was very excited to get back into the studio (and am also very excited about my next opportunity).

This was Sean’s first time in the studio to record guitar. I’d shoved a microphone in front of his face before for “The Stallion and the Rose: The Debt” and “The Singing of Dragons”, but even so, I think he was still a bit nervous. It didn’t help that we haven’t really done any practicing with a metronome, but I always record with one. (And we’ll be making an effort to practice with one more often from now on.) But even so, he did an excellent job.

The main vocal was a cinch. It’s not perfect, but I try to recognize the fact that it’s not possible for anything to ever be perfect. Otherwise, I will drive myself insane trying to achieve the unattainable.

In the interim while I was waiting for my scheduled time with the other musicians I worked with, I laid down the tambourine and djembe parts. For the tambourine, I had recently acquired this nifty rig that bolts to a mic stand (or other similar apparatus) and holds the tambourine steady. I then hit the tambourine with timpani mallets (which are padded). It was a much better way of doing things. I had quite a bit more control over the instrument with this set-up. When I played tambourine for “Stepping Stones”, I was just shaking it, and it didn’t work nearly as well.

The djembe recording was pretty straightforward. I hope to someday have a kick mic to pick up those low frequencies better.

The next instrument I recorded was a real treat. I’d never recorded bass guitar before, let alone a purely electric bass. Ally helped me conscript our friend Stephen Luckett (whom I call “Anime”—long story, don’t ask), with whom she’d been in a band a few years ago. He was enthusiastic and very fun to work with. He was even barely hampered by the fact that my set-up currently doesn’t allow for echo during recording. So he couldn’t hear his part at all while he was playing.

He left the studio saying that when Ally had showed him the scratch recording, he wasn’t sure what his playing a bass part could add to it. But after listening to the current mix with his part added in, he understood why we thought bass was a good idea.

Lastly, I needed vocal harmonies. Ally was on board for those. She arranged them herself (in addition to Anime’s bass part) and knocked tracks for both parts out quite quickly. This was the first time I had recorded vocals for her, and as always, she’s fun to work with.

This is easily one of my most favorite songs I’ve written if only because it’s so much fun to perform. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoy performing it.

Buy it here


Surviving Through the Game
Lyrics by Katt McConnell, music by Katt McConnell with thanks to Wax Chaotic
Commissioned by Brat Conway for the game “The Chronicles of the Lost Dimensions”

It was always easier to hide,
To never turn to face the shadows
Behind
Or the monster inside…

My secrets should never be revealed,
For they’re dangerous to all those I
Love—
But now they can’t be concealed,
For the nightmare is real,
And the truth will at last be my shield!

       Some choose adventure
       Some are chosen by fate
       If I know what’s good for me I’ll choose
       To escape

       To some, it’s all about winning
       To some, it’s all wealth and fame
       Here, right now, it’s only about
       Surviving through the game.

You are not the only one that finds
They have a destiny that tangles and
Binds
With chains of many kinds…

If it kills me, by gods, I’ll follow through—
I’m not a hero, I just do what needs
Done.
But this I promise you:
Your fetters I’ll undo!
(And maybe I’ll save myself, too.)


Lyrics by Katt McConnell, music by Katt McConnell with thanks to Wax Chaotic
Performed by Wax Chaotic, feat. Stephen Luckett
Katt McConnell—Main vocal, percussion, engineering, mixing, mastering
Sean McConnell—Guitar
Allyson Clarkson—Vocal harmony arrangements and performance, bass guitar arrangement
Stephen Luckett—Bass



Published April 11th, 2012 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

In keeping with the habit I’ve cultivated of posting a con review after going to a con, here are my thoughts on MARCON. This one’s going to be a wee bit different from all the other ones I’ve posted, though.

Like all the others I’ve written about so far, however, this was a first-time convention experience. I’d never been to MARCON before, though I’d heard really great things about it from various friends and had always wanted to go some year (especially last year when Leslie Fish was the Music Guest of Honor…sigh).

Unlike all the other conventions I’ve reviewed, I saw very little of this one. The reason for this is that we vended at this con, which meant that I spent most of the weekend behind a table. Sean was with me—Ally stayed in Indy that weekend because of Easter commitments to her church—and our neighbors didn’t mind if we made a bit of music in our booth space. We also got to talk to some new people, and I got to see a couple of Ohio friends I don’t see very often.

MARCON does a couple of really nifty things that I haven’t seen at any other conventions. Number one, because we were dealers, we got to partake in snacky things. Every so often, people with trollies would make a circuit of the dealer’s room and offer us soda. As someone who doesn’t regularly drink soda, I wish they had had water on the trolley as well, but as someone who was in the mood for soda at the time, it worked out all right anyway. And they did have water in the corner of the room where they kept the soda when it wasn’t being distributed on trollies. They also had baked goods in that same corner that were there for the dealers to munch on.

The other thing I thought was nifty was the green room they had set up for panelists. There were seating areas for talking and relaxing, a special check-in table so panelists didn’t have to wait in a long line (vendors had a special check-in line, too), and oh yeah, more snacky things.

The convention staff were helpful and friendly, which is always a major plus. The hotel staffperson who helped us unload our car was very professional and helpful. And overall it was a good weekend.

But as always, there are downsides. Probably my biggest gripe is that we had to pay $8.00 a day to park. Of course, that’s not the convention’s fault and they have no control over it—and actually, $8.00 a day was the event rate, so being conventioneers meant we got to pay less.

The garage was also really confusing and the ceilings are low enough that I don’t recommend unloading anything out of a hatchback. Again, not the convention’s fault.

So there’s the con review for MARCON, such as it is. If we go back next year—which we might not due to it being on Easter weekend and Ally having prior commitments that weekend—I hope to be able to experience more of the programming.

As it was I sat for a bit in open filk, which was fun. It was good to see Peter Alway again, even if I didn’t get to talk to him much, and hear his dulcimer piece “May Damsels’ Dance”.

And of course there was our concert, made slightly weird by the fact that it was just Sean and myself. Not bad-weird, just different-weird. It was a lot of fun nonetheless. Our audience seemed into it. Three of our listeners even bought copies of “Cold September Ground” after the fact.

Oh, and I will have a v-blog of the weekend up at some point. But first I need to have the time to edit it. …yeah.

Thanks again to the friends who put us up for the weekend. You were a tremendous help, and it was fabulous to see you again.

Next stop: Penguicon



Published March 14th, 2012 at 9:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

Wow, it’s been quiet around here lately. Let’s fix that, shall we?

Since this blog and the entire Dragon Scale Studios website were created as part of the “Cold September Ground” project and that project is now completed, I thought it might be interesting to discuss what I’ve been up to these last few months. And perhaps more intriguing would be what I have planned for myself and for Dragon Scale Studios.

First off, if you’re here and the formatting seems a little wonky, I beg your indulgence. There are some styling things I need to take care of, and in the process of doing so things might get a bit messy around here.

After the album’s release on December 1st 2011, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I had an oh-shit moment and frantically scurried around getting everything read for Capstones. I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into anything much beyond those two dates, although I was keeping Wax Chaotic commitments in the back of my mind. So finally after Capstones, the tension broke a bit and I could relax and enjoy the holidays.

Since then I have been…being. It’s an existence with the potential for much more relaxation built into it. The last two months have had their stressful moments, but despite them I’ve been able to de-stress and get more and more of my brain back. And as my brain has started to come back, I’ve been working on things.

My first priority was to get the Kickstarter rewards out finally. And so I did. Way behind when I originally wanted to, but they say late is better than never. I took some photos of them to share!





Which reminds me. I still have some trinket boxes that need to be sent out and I haven’t been able to reach their intended recipients in order to get the addresses needed to ship them. If you’re reading this and you donated at any of the levels where the trinket box was a reward and you have NOT gotten your trinket box, please contact me! I want to get your goodies to you.

Other than that, I am currently in the midst of three freelance projects, two websites and one layout design. I am thoroughly enjoying them and I’m happy that I’m able to take them on. I was doing some freelance work during school but I was never able to take on as many projects as I wanted to because, well, school. I’m excited to release these projects into the world, and I hope that such will be possible soon.

I am also looking for a full-time job that will allow me to utilize the skills I learned in school. Because guess what? I am now officially a college graduate! I have my diploma and everything. And I will be participating in Commencement exercises this May. I’m pretty damn excited. And I keep getting thrown for a loop because at times it doesn’t feel like I graduated from high school almost seven years ago.

And I’m writing. Oh, am I writing. I’m mostly writing music, although I’m also working on some prose. One of the things I’ve been working on is actually a song commission for a friend’s Capstone project. She’s working on a video game and wanted me to create the theme song for it. This is my first song commission, and I’ve been having a blast. My Wax Chaotic partners in crime have been helping me with it and it sort of rocks. I’m very proud of this song. And I’m also pleased to announce that I will be releasing it as a single at the end of April once Capstones are over.

So, freelance projects, job hunting, music, fiction…

Not gonna lie. There’s be some time spent gaming. Skyrim, as you might recall, came out a few days after I sent my album off to the printer. I didn’t get as sucked into it as I was expecting to, amazingly enough—I chalk that up to the fact that I had other things, namely more music, that I wanted to work on—but I’ve been enjoying it.

And part of my work on more music has been scheduling concerts for Wax Chaotic. I intend to go more in depth about band-related things in another post, so for right now I’ll just say that I am indescribably excited about the people I get to work with and about the things I get to do with them.

So that about covers what I’ve been up to. Now it’s time for what I intend to do in the future.

As for myself, I intend to continue writing and creating. Over the course of the last year or so I’ve found two pieces of myself that were missing. I am a percussionist. And I am a performer. These parts of myself that have gotten next to no attention over the years and it is wonderful to finally be nurturing them.

I am also once again nurturing the part of me that loves to write lyrically. And I’m surprising myself. I’ve never really thought of myself as someone able to write music, yet now I’m doing it. Cautiously, carefully, and trying not to take anything for granted, but I’m doing it. And not only that, but people are enjoying my music. It’s humbling and awe-inspiring and a whole lot of other emotions that I have trouble putting into words. However, I can definitely, emphatically state that it’s fucking fun.

Also on my to-do list is finding a decent day job that will allow me to support myself and my family by doing things I love to do. I intend to continue taking on freelance design projects whenever I’m able. I intend to continue using my design talents to promote Wax Chaotic and our interests.

I do not, surprisingly enough, intend to sew. Sewing has been a major part of my life for years now. It’s a skill that, if employed in the right capacity, I still wouldn’t mind using to make my living. But sewing for my wedding seriously burned me out. It’s taken me some time to admit that to myself because I didn’t want it to be true. Unfortunately, however, what I want and what’s actually the reality are pretty different in this instance. And so it’s time for a break. The only sewing projects I intend to work on for the foreseeable future are existing commissions and Kickstarter corsets.

The other reason I’m going on a sewing hiatus is that I am finally fed up with the commercial pattern industry, specifically McCall’s, Simplicity, and Butterick. These companies produce barely any patterns for individuals my size and they don’t produce any costume patterns in my size. At least none that I’ve found and trust me, I’ve looked. Being that my interest in sewing is almost exclusively costuming-related, this presents a major hurdle for me.

But there’s one more reason that I need a break. And this last one’s a doozy.

For this we go back a few years. When I was a junior in high school, I began having problems with acid reflux. I self-medicated with over the counter acid reducers for years and they seemed to be managing the problem quite well. Then in 2009, my reflux began to get progressively worse and it’s been getting worse ever since. Last spring I had that cough for four and a half months that interfered with working on the album and took a toll on my sanity. (That is not hyperbole, either.) That was acid related. So my doctor sent me in for an upper endoscopy in November.

It turns out that I have a hiatal hernia. I layman’s terms, it means my stomach is protruding up through my diaphragm through the hole that the esophagus normally passes through, but through which the stomach isn’t supposed to go.

Yeah. Slight problem.

This means that corsets are a BIG no-no for me right now. Which means that I don’t want to spend any time making any more for myself if I don’t know when—or even if—I’ll be able to wear them again.

And actually that last reason for my sewing hiatus leads into the next thing I intend to do.

I’m quite tired of having a hernia, as you can probably imagine. It doesn’t actively hurt the way I’ve heard abdominal hernias do, so for that I’m quite thankful. As you’ve seen, however, it’s causing a lot of other problems. So I’ve made an appointment to talk to a surgeon about fixing the cause of those problems.

With that, I think this entry has gotten long enough. There’s my update. If you’ve cared to read it, I appreciate it. The next few blog entries I have planned will be more about the music, so if that’s mostly what you’re interested in, keep an eye out. You’ll get heads ups about them via Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time, remember to kick ass and take names. Someone has to, after all, and it might as well be you.



Published February 15th, 2012 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

This weekend was Capricon 2012 up in Wheeling, IL. It was also the start of Wax Chaotic’s 2012 road tour. I could not have asked for a better start to things.

This was my first Capricon, and also the first time I’d ever been to a four-day convention. I was surprised at the size of the convention and impressed at how smoothly things seemed to be running. I really didn’t attend many panels that weren’t music related, but just wandering around in the hallway I got the impression by all the signage and whatnot that Capricon is a well-oiled machine. That’s something that I always enjoy seeing as a convention attendee.

Most of what I did over the course of the weekend had to do with the music programming. Those in charge put together one heck of a program, which included concerts in the Capricon Café, open filk, other, longer concerts, and a (toast and) jam session on Sunday in the café. I’d like to thank everyone involved for not only putting together a great music program for the weekend, but also giving my bandmates and I a friendly, well-organized environment to get this year’s tour off to a good start. All three of us had an absolute blast. Special thanks go to Debbie Gates, one of those in charge, for inviting us to play in the café and giving us a way to justify coming to this awesome convention.

The other parts of the con that I participated in were pretty much just the consuite and the dealers’ room. I would enjoy having a wider selection of food to choose from next year, and also having more things that are less nibbly and more filling. But like the rest of the convention, the staffers in the consuite did an excellent job of organizing and then working that part of the con.

The dealers’ room had a lot of steampunk vendors. A lot. I almost want to say it had a bit too many steampunk vendors, but all of them had nifty things for sale and there was still a pretty wide variety of products that they were offering. But I know many conventions try to include a wide variety of dealers in their dealers’ rooms, so I suppose it seemed a little strange that there were so many steampunk vendors. There were also, I should note, at least two book vendors, one of whom appeared to deal exclusively or at least primarily in out of print editions, t-shirt vendors, toy vendors, game vendors, an artist with a really nifty display and some cool work, and a music vendor. Honestly, the music vendor got most of my monetary attention. This whole attending-multiple-conventions-a-year thing might be dangerous for my bank account–but I’m sure Roper won’t mind.

Aside from that, I attended a panel on hair braiding. That was fun and informative, even if everyone was a little not-quite-awake-yet.

I’m hoping we’ll be invited back to perform at Capricon next year. Either way, I’d like to go back for another four days of awesomeness.



Published January 3rd, 2012 at 10:31 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

Fine salutations at the dawn of another year, everyone! I hope that your holidays went as well as you could have wished them to. I’ve been enjoying the time to relax with my friends and family, but the wheel rolls ever onward. As such, it’s time to start looking ahead to what 2012 will bring. And if you’re a Mailing List subscriber, this information will seem slightly familiar.

Right now I would love your input. If you’ve been to any of my non-convention shows with my band, Wax Chaotic, you know that we like to raffle things off at them. It’s a chance for you to win prizes and it’s fun for us, too. Well this year we’re adding some new things to the raffle list and I need your help.

I would like to raffle off cards that will entitle the lucky winner to a free download of a track from “Cold September Ground”, but I want to know which of the album’s thirteen tracks are the most popular before I go generating a bunch of codes. So if you would be so kind as to go vote for your favorite track on the Facebook poll, I would greatly appreciate it. It will only take a moment, and you’ll be helping me out a great deal. You can find the poll here.

If you want to listen to the full tracks, they are available on my Bandcamp page. The player on the DSS website is not secure, so the samples there are no longer the full tracks.

I would really appreciate some input here, so please vote. It won’t take much of your time to share your opinion (although I suppose if you’re like my sister it might take you a minute or two to narrow down which one to vote for). Either way, thanks for helping out.

And lastly, keep an eye on the DSS Schedule page for upcoming Wax Chaotic performances! We’ll be bringing more live music your way starting in February.



Published December 13th, 2011 at 4:20 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

No, the two really aren’t related, but they happened on the same weekend. Therefore, they get blogged about in the same entry.

First off, Friday the 9th was the day of Capstone presentations. There were several other students aside from me who presented that evening. I was unfortunately unable to get around to see any of the other projects, so I hope things went well for everyone.

For those who don’t know, the way this worked is that I set up in my presentation space and attendees wandered around from room to room to look at all of the projects. It was an evening largely comprised of talking to people, some of whom I knew and some I didn’t, answering questions. It was much more fun than I’m making it sound.



Then at around 7pm, Sean, Ally, Ashley, and I headed downstairs into the auditorium to perform some songs from the album. The audience was wonderful and, as always, I had a lot of fun being on stage in front of people and singing my heart out. My friends Beth and Michael were kind enough to take video of the performance, which you can view on my new YouTube channel:
       Wet Velvet
       Fall from Grace
       9 Lives

And of course I have to thank the School of Informatics tech crew, who were, as always, wonderfully helpful.

Unfortunately, neither Crystal nor Gabrielle were able to make it that evening. Crystal was sick and Gabrielle is off kicking life’s ass on the road. (She has a really nifty blog over here.) But I was fortunate enough to have the help of my wonderfully talented husband Sean and my wonderfully talented friends Ally and Ashley. They stepped in pretty late in the game so that the show could go on, and I can’t thank them enough for it. And incidentally, you may recognize Ally’s name from the credits for flute on “The Garden” and vocal arrangements on “The Singing of Dragons”.

After that there was delicious, delicious pasta at Some Guys.

Honestly, I wish the day and evening could have lasted longer.

But time stands still for no (wo)man, and so the following day it was time to head down to Star Base Indy. Star Base Indy is a local science-fiction/Star Trek themed convention held on the eastern side of town. I’m familiar with the hotel from InConJunction, which is held in July, so it was a little odd being in the hotel when it was only thirty degrees outside.

This was my first year attending SBI. There wasn’t really much in the way of programming that interested me, but it was still fun to hang out and talk to people and to see all the creative costumes that the congoers had to offer. And there were many of them. I’ve never seen so many Klingons in my life (and it was awesome).

Despite not attending any of the programming, I can say that the program head did an amazing job. You may remember this woman from such other endeavors as “Kiss Me, Jak Frost”. So I may be a little biased. But nevertheless, it doesn’t change my opinion. Also, from a panelist’s perspective, Judy was wonderful to work with.

Crystal managed to kick the bug that had been bothering her, and on Saturday evening, she and I moderated open filk. I gather there hasn’t been much filking at SBI in past years, so the panel wasn’t very well attended. But Crys and I had fun and those who attended seemed to enjoy themselves. Plus another of my friends of whom I don’t see enough stopped by, and I got to hang out with her afterward.

The next morning, it was time for Wax Chaotic to take command of the bridge—er, stage. Well, both, really. They had constructed a really nifty set on the stage in main programming, and it resembled the bridge of the Enterprise. Well, sort of the Enterprises. I got the impression that it was an amalgamation of a few of them. Either way, it was pretty damn nifty to perform on the bridge of a star ship.

What wasn’t as nifty was that our concert was a ten am on Sunday, but I don’t hold that against madam Judy. She had a lot of balls to juggle, and that time slot was where the one with the Wax Chaotic label just happened to come down. I do hope that in the future we will be able to secure time slots that aren’t so early, however. Even if I do enjoy having an excuse to sleep in late for a couple of days after the convention is over.

Despite the unfortunate hour, the concert was a lot of fun. I saw toe tapping amongst the audience members, which is something that’s always really awesome for a musician to see. The lovely program head even took time out her busy schedule to come see us. And as an added bonus, the—well, I don’t remember what his official title was, but Rob Pyatt gave us an awesome introduction.

I hope to return to SBI again in the future and perform again. I don’t know that I will be going back next year, however, as I heard they are moving back to their accustomed time of Thanksgiving weekend, and, well…by that point in the year my sanity might benefit more from the atmosphere at ChamBanaCon. But we’ll see. Either way, I wish the SBI folks all the best and hope that anyone reading who’s into sci-fi will consider giving this convention some patronage. I think you’ll really enjoy all it has to offer you.



Published November 29th, 2011 at 4:09 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

This year was my first year attending ChamBanaCon, a little relax-a-con located in central Illinois. The idea is that you go to the convention and spend the whole weekend…relaxing. I had heard about it last year, but being in the middle of school and post-Thanksgiving stupor, plus not having enough money to go meant that I had to miss out. This year, however, Wax Chaotic was invited to perform by the lovely conchair, Brenda Sutton, and it’s hard to say no to the conchair. Especially when she’s Brenda. So I got to experience my first relax-a-con, and let me tell you, folks, I needed it.

ChamBanaCon had your usual convention attractions—panels, dealers room, consuite, room parties, banquet, filking, games, and variegated silliness all throughout the weekend. I thought I’d post a review of the con as I’ve been trying to do whilst touring with Wax Chaotic (I totally forgot to write one for OVFF, so I’ll do so now in two words: It. Rocked.) to try to encourage new people to attend next year’s con. Here, then, is my review of ChamBanaCon broken up by subject and listed in no particular order.

Panels
There really isn’t much I can say about this facet of the con, as I only went to one panel. That panel, however, was awesome. We had a NASA scientist talk to us and show us things. He even showed us some photographs—actual photographs—of the landscapes of Mars, Venus, and Mercury. Several of them were even taken, like, on the planet, as opposed to from orbit. I didn’t know they had photos like that, so I thought it was particularly mind-blowing. I gather that the rest of the panels were enjoyable, but as I said, I didn’t go to any of them.

Consuite and gaming
The consuite and the games room were one and the same, which I thought was fabulous. Sitting at a table Friday evening, munching foodz and drinking soda whilst playing a card game and intermittently carrying on conversations with total strangers, I suddenly realized why I felt instantly and totally at ease. See, I’ve been going to Regional Gatherings held by Mensa groups since I was quite young. These RGs, as Mensans call them, are engineered to be what ChamBanaCon is—it’s a weekend where you go and hang out with your friends, some of whom you only see once a year at that event, and catch up, be silly, relax, play games, and maybe take in a panel or two if the mood strikes you. I don’t quite get that feeling at other cons because they just aren’t as low-key, so it was nice to find a con where I did. This in and of itself is enough of a reason for me to want to go back next year even if I didn’t know that the guests would include Tanya Huff, Michael Longcor, and the Passavoys.

Phread and crew did a wonderful job of always making sure there were enough drinks and noms to keep a peckish congoer going, too. They even provided some crock-pot meal-like items, though I remember the selection being a bit slim for breakfast. There was, however, always coffee.

Banquet
While we’re on the subject of food, this seems like a good thing to talk about next. We did not go to the banquet. Instead, we went out to Miko Restaurant, a local teppanyaki/sushi/sit-down-and-eat-delicious-food place. The portions were generous, expertly prepared, and reasonably priced, and also just frickin’ gorgeous to sit there and stare at, the staff were friendly and went out of their way to be helpful, the building and atmosphere were comfortable and very conducive to eating and enjoying the company of friends, and the entire experience was overall fabulous. I would seriously drive two hours, which is about how far away they are from my house, just to enjoy another meal at Miko. We went there not once, but twice, and I want to eat there as often as possible during next year’s ChamBanaCon. If you enjoy Asian cuisine and live within a reasonable distance to Miko (note: To me that is apparently within two hours’ drive) go there, and go there often. Noms.

Room parties
The only one I was aware of was thrown by Barfleet, and I did not go. I went swimming at midnight instead. However, I gather it was fairly small, but pretty rockin’. Party on, dudes.

Dealers room
There were corsets and awesome little glass figurines and a Smith and books and games and various wonders to behold. I was sadly unable to spend any money there this year. But it was an awesome arrangement full of lots of vendors with some really neat stuff. I hope to be able to do more than window shop next year.

Art show
I did not go to this either—actually, I spent the majority of my weekend hanging out in the consuite playing games with my adventuring party—but I gather that it was less than well attended. Since I think art shows were awesome, I thought I would mention the less-than-optimal attendance so that the situation can hopefully be rectified next year. I mean, come on. One of the artists had a robot burlesque piece (that a member of my party swiftly snapped up). Awesome? I think so.

Filking
I only went to this for a little bit on Friday night. I’ve never been a big fan of attending chaos filks, which seems to be the way that Midwesterners prefer to do things, and I’ve finally decided that if it’s going to be chaos, I’d really rather just not go. It’s nothing against any of the attendees, at least not at this convention. The time I spent there Friday night was pleasant and enjoyable, and full of filky goodness. I just don’t work that well in chaos filk, so I elected to stay away on Saturday night and play games and go swimming and then go play more games and then go pass out instead. I do gather, however, that the open filk experience at ChamBanaCon was an enjoyable one, so don’t let the fact that I personally do not enjoy chaos filk in general lead you to believe that this con mistreats filkers in any way.

Since they’re music-related, the two concerts I attended are getting filed under this section. The first concert I attended, I attended because I was in it with Wax Chaotic. Our audience was great, and apparently not shy about giving feedback. My bandmates reported being told throughout the course of the weekend that our music was enjoyable. This is, of course, always nice to hear. I also had a lot of fun performing this concert (due largely to the epic win created by my bandmates, of course), even though not having a sound system was a little weird. The room was small enough and the acoustics such that it didn’t matter, however. It was actually fun being able to belt things without having to worry about putting strain on the audience’s ears or the sound tech’s nerves.

I also attended Tom Smith‘s concert, but I shouldn’t need to write at any length about what sort of experience that was (hint: Awesome).

Variegated silliness
There were giant, plush bananas standing to greet you as you entered the consuite. ‘Nuff said.

Hotel facilities
This hotel seemed to have one or two minor foibles—the skylight over the pool had a leak, which was made apparent by the rain that started on Saturday, and the toilet in our room had an internal leak that meant it was dripping and refilling pretty regularly—but everyone has their off days and I don’t feel a need to hold either of those two things against the hotel. The staff were friendly, the beds comfortable, the public restrooms very convenient to the con space, and the building itself very clean and well-kept. It was also right off the freeway and within walking distance of a gas station, which was very convenient on Saturday morning when I had to procure some Pepto Bismol for my sick husband. My overall experience at this hotel leads me to look forward to coming back there for ChamBanaCon 42.

So, my overall review.

ChamBanaCon is awesome. Go there next year. Bring friends. Join us.

And remember to always know where your towel is.



Published October 27th, 2011 at 2:53 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

So, it’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve been busy! The album is very near completion, and I’ve been working on it like a madwoman these last few weeks. My self-imposed deadline for having all of the project’s various components off to the printer is November 10th. So here’s hoping.

In the meantime, I wanted to plug the next milestone for “Cold September Ground”. You might remember that the website says pre-orders for the album begin on November 1st. This is indeed the case! That’s not that far away, so mark your calendars. And remember that the first one hundred pre-orders come with a free* limited edition 11″ / 17″ poster!

And as a reminder, the release date for the album is December 1st. Backers who contributed to the Early Bird package and up will get free digital downloads of every track on the album starting November 24th. I’ll be contacting you with more information regarding that.

And lastly, I am in the process of working on another long-term project. The Muses have been speaking to me, and so I’ve been writing some new songs over the course of the last ever. Some of you have already heard one or two of them in sets with my band, Wax Chaotic. The rest of the songs are still largely in the works at the moment, and I intend to really bend my will to them once I graduate and have my brain back.

What does this mean for you? Well, I like to show off my music, and so I’ve come up with a plan. Over the course of the next few months, keep an eye out for blog entries tagged “Lyrics Dump”. I’ll be sharing the lyrics of new songs as I get them ready to be published. Then sometime during the summer of 2012, voting will open. You can think of the voting like pre-ordering. Each vote will cost $1. Each song that gets at least ten votes will be recorded and made available for download. As I said, voting is like pre-ordering, so voters will be automatically entitled to download whatever song(s) they voted for. After that, each track will be available for digital purchase for $1.

If I were the only person who would be involved in this project, I’d just say to hell with it and just go ahead and record the singles to offer for sale. But since I’m going to have to involve other musicians—transcriptionists, accompanists, vocalists, et cetera—I would like to know that I have a way to compensate them for their time before they dedicate it to the project.

I’m going to try and work more of the non-CSG songs into sets with Wax Chaotic, so keep an eye out for our shows. The next scheduled one, by the by, is at Chambanacon on Thanksgiving weekend. We hope to see you there!

It’s hard to believe that my printer deadline is right around the corner. I’m so excited to show everyone all the hard work that’s gone into this album, and I hope you’ll get as much enjoyment out of it as my friends and I have over the course of the last year. And don’t forget if you’re local to the Indianapolis area to come check out the School of Informatics Capstones, where I and lots of other awesome people will be presenting our Capstone projects. We’ll be in the IT Building at 535 W. Michigan Street on Friday, December 9th from 4 to 8pm. It’s going to be one heck of an evening.

Until next time, signing off.





*Unfortunately there is some fine print here. The poster is free, but I’ll need you to pay for shipping. Sorry, folks!



Published June 2nd, 2011 at 11:35 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

That’s right folks, my band Wax Chaotic and I are performing at this year’s InConJunction here in Indy! We will have tons of swag with us (possibly including t-shirts) and you can enter into a drawing for a free copy of “Cold September Ground”. So come find us at InCon, Indy’s science-fiction and fantasy convention! See InCon’s Schedule page for more information. Hope to see you there!