What on earth is going on with the stifled artist? Where IS she?
I’m right here, folks. Haven’t forgotten about you, my cluster of readers and drive-by viewers. There hasn’t been a need so much for this outlet as of late.
What has been happening?
Remember when I used to lament the fact that I didn’t have enough artists/musicians/creative folk around me? Since that time, the universe has exploded with like-minded souls. Instead of practicing for hours in my apartment by the BART tracks, I practice in practice spaces up to three times a week with other musicians. I’ve finished recording two full albums, one on which I lent vocals and guitar to a killer krautrock/psychedelic band from the ’70s with a cult following, and the other with my bandmates in our own krautrock style band which will come out shortly. I am very proud of both projects, and put my heart and all my energy into them while still continuing to work at the library and cook all my own gluten-free food at home and try to have friendships and hiking excursions in the woods to clear my head.
The process of recording so much in the studio taught me a lot I didn’t know about music.
I am now at a point where I’m coming back to my own Kyrsten Bean project with new eyes and a bit of ennui. But I have such awesome, accommodating band mates who have helped me flesh out these songs of my own, (songs that likely were written merely to exorcise demons and may have served their purpose already, I can’t tell). I won’t abandon them. Except for the six weeks I’ll be on tour in October/November. Ah, yes, and on Thursday I meet with the Deputy of the county library about switching to more of a free range on-call library position to accommodate my tour schedule, as a permanent set schedule is not going to work. Fingers crossed! If not, I will have to put my library days behind me. Either way, music has become my full-time job. Funny how that snuck up on me. It’s a very good thing I lowered all of my expenses in the past year and like eating vegetarian one-pot meals.
A couple of years ago, I was spinning my wheels, all stretched out in a million different directions. I was doing kettlebell competitions, writing a column for a newspaper that ran five days a week, trying to record my own demo with a friend, working at the library and trying to bail the water out of a marriage that we finally decided had run its course. I was always tired and stressed out. My health was a mess, nervous system issues, insomnia, anxiety.
Since that time, I decided to stop focusing on so many projects. I pared down my life so that the library and music were my primary focus. I’ve helped with random projects here and there, done a few writing assignments, but have decided as a whole that I need to focus all of my energy on music.
About nine months ago, I put together a little demo with a friend who runs Brainsplitter Records in Oakland. I was stoked, and showed it to the three people who cared: My best girl friend, an old childhood friend and my ex-husband. It needed a lot of work on my end, in the songwriting department, but it was proof I had worked hard since the previous year when I had no idea how I was going to put together a demo on my own without a recording studio, a band or any money to do so.
Then, magically, two musicians (bass and drums) offered to let me use their practice space and help me with my songs. I had tried for two years to start a band with no luck, no one seemed to fit the project. But these dudes just GOT my songs and had the right dark, brooding spirit to their own instrumentation. They offered to be my self-titled band shortly after, and we played a great first show together at The Uptown in Oakland in May.
A few months later, I joined up with one of the krautrock projects I am in now, after a keyboard/guitar/vocal audition. A few months after that, I spent weeks in the studio working with legendary musicians with a lot of clout, contributing my lyrics and vocals and instrumentations on piano and guitar, helping with mixing, completely immersed…
Life is weird. But proof that if you believe you are meant to do something and you hold on with all your stamina…things can happen.