This is a bio I wrote for a recent songwriting contest called Searchlight, sponsored by CBC Radio. My first attempt at putting my songs “out there” after being hit by that wonderful train called motherhood. I really did feel like I had been physically hit by a train after labor and delivery, and this has since mellowed to a metaphorical train that hit my mind, emotions, and personality rendering all parts of me unrecognizeable compared to who I was before. Like most people who have been hit by trains, it has taken me a long time to recover and regain my equilibrium, hence the two year gap in the Music posts.
For a long time I played keyboards and sang in two really great Vancouver bands. The Feminists (2001-2008), which I formed and co-fronted, and Parlour Steps (2007-2010). Cool things happened in those bands. We toured across Canada and the U.S, played at NXNE, SXSW, and Bumbershoot, had an iTunes Single Of The Week international radio play and placements in film and tv.Both bands imploded when it became obvious that real success was on the horizon.
I finally realized it was pointless to blame other people for what I considered to be the greatest tragedy of my life. (Thankfully, I also realized that a band breaking up was not a great tragedy). It was a huge mistake to give my maximum effort to somebody else’s songs and somebody else’s band. I totally believed all that crap about “do what you love and the money will follow” and “if you can dream it, you will achieve it” Now I believe, sometimes things just don’t work out. And that talent has nothing to do with succeeding in music. It’s more about winning a mysterious lottery, somehow attracting someone with more money and power than you to take an interest in what you’re doing.
And so, after a long interlude of snarling “playing in bands ruined music for me”, I decided to start again and do what I should have done from the start: write my own songs, revel in the ease I feel when playing and singing beautiful lines, and make art because it brings me pleasure and it’s fun to do. And forget about being an entertainer and caring about the music industry. That is a time sucker that distracts from playing piano and singing.
Wow, she has a bad attitude you may say. Very well. I have a bad attitude. I do not schmooze very well. I suck at small talk and being fake with people I don’t really know but maybe I could use to advance my career in some way. I am excellent at big talk, but there is not much call for that, anywhere. I am neither a joiner nor an extrovert. I am done with being conventional and playing the game. Art is a personal statement. And it has to be authentic and real. It must reflect who you truly are, not what others think you should be.
I have no expectations. Mostly I operate on the assumption that nobody will read my words or listen to my music. That’s ok, because I love and need to do it regardless of an audience. I create songs, because I have something to say. I want you to listen. I felt something when I wrote the words and music. I want you to feel something when you listen. And that shared emotional experience between you and me through vibrating sound frequencies, that is what I love about music.
The song I’ve entered into Searchlight is called Every Single One, and it’s the first track from my debut EP as a solo artist. The band who performs it with me is amazing. You can read all about them on my enormous blog at http://www.alisonmaira.com.
Don’t think I wouldn’t appreciate getting a few hundred thousand votes and advancing in the Searchlight contest. I would love that. How wonderful it would be to have many ears listening to my songs and make new connections with like-minded human beings.
I can’t say it would improve my attitude, though.