Song Dissection: Invisible

From the CD: Hearts For Bullets
Music programming, lyrics & vocals: Jennifer Parkin
Production, mixing, mastering: Sebastian Komor

Hearts for Bullets (cover)

Lyrics:

I sit next to you
You look the other way
You saw me falter for one second of the day
Why am I so invisible to you?
Sometimes I hate you more than you could ever hate yourself

But I love you would do anything for you
You don’t even see that I’m in pain
Frustration became humiliation
Waiting outside for you in the pouring rain

What’s left of my self worth you crushed it in your hand
Wicked game to torture me because you can
You toy with me then pull back
We’re never synched in time, we blew that
The sad thing I’ve done the same before to someone else

I tried so hard to be someone
I never was nobody
I tried too hard to play this game
I never was the winner

The Dissection & how song brainstorming works:

Something I found interesting about this song:  at 136 Beats Per Minute this track has the highest BPM of all the songs on Hearts For Bullets, making it the “fastest” tempo song on the CD even though it really doesn’t seem like it is! An “average” (if you can call them that) Ayria song falls into the 125-135 BPM Range.  Examples:  125BPM (Disease) – 127BPM (My Revenge On The World), 130 – (100 Transmissions) – 132 (Six Seconds).   Just to compare.

This song was such an odd one for me to develop to be honest.  It went through such big transformations and incarnations from the concept to completion.   Starting as a simple synth loop I recorded, it was originally a ballad! To dissect this song, instead of focusing on the final demo versions of the song that were passed off for production, I’m going to go back even earlier, to the rougher stages of inception, and take you to the brainstorming stage of how I came up with vocal ideas and lyrics that started with a simple recorded loop.

When I start to write a song, I don’t repeat the exact same processes each time.  Sometimes I start with the sequencer – using Reason software for you techies! – building on synths and a basic percussion loop. Other times I’ll start playing notes on my keyboard or I even start with my guitar. The guitar is my primary writing tool and first instrument I learned to play, though not very well! For this song in particular, I was playing around on my keyboard, THE Nord Lead 2 (remember kids: fancy gear and toys will not magically give you the ability to write better songs! But they are shiny and fun to play with!!). I just play random stuff, trying to come up with an idea, a melody or a vocal idea that would inspire me to develop a song out of.  I want to point out that I’m not technically trained, I know some stuff, but I’ve been blessed with a pretty good ear, able to figure out what sounds good, and write harmonies, which I inherited all from my dad who played a wicked guitar and had music flowing through his veins. For this song in particular, I was recording myself just playing the keyboard and I ended up getting stuck on these 3 notes: D,F,B-flat.  This is that recording of me doing some live synth brainstorming from the original session, nothing particularly fancy or interesting, just to show how simple an idea can start! :

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Invisible_Nord_Brainstorming.mp3[/podcast]

Then, I turned on the microphone and just started singing over this, to capture anything that came out of me.  I sometimes do this and sit there for a long period of time.  I try and let myself go and sometimes not even real words come out of me because I haven’t written any real lyrics at this point yet, and have no idea what I’m singing about! Sometime the notes go way off because I’m not sure myself which way to take the melody in the moment.  This experimentation is full of lots of misses and fails, but then the few parts that stand out to me, eventually become pieces of the song.  Having recorded every idea, no matter how good or bad, means I can go back, analyze it and then refine, tweak and develop a song from it.

So, once I decided this had potential to turn into a song,  I created some basic percussion and sequenced the notes into a very rough and simple loop. At this point in the brainstorming phase, I’m not yet ready to flesh sounds out until there is a worthwhile song idea shaping up. The rough loop is basically a tool for me to develop vocal melodies and potential structure further.  To me, the most important element of song writing, and my main passion, is the vocal melodies.  I actually found a solid 5 minute recording of this loop where I was singing randomly over it to get ideas.  Here were the two most interesting vocal clips that came out of the session, you can hear some of the song it’s to become in these clips, but not all of these ideas were used or developed further. I can’t believe I’m sharing this very early brainstorming phase of the recording with you guys because it’s so very rough, and, as I mentioned above, it’s still more of a ballad here, than the danceable  electro song it became!  You’ll notice, compared to the final recording, that my vocals sound  lazy.  This is because I’m actually sitting there trying to feel inspiration and get a melody from the loop and have no idea what’s going to come out. This is how I brainstorm.  Nothing is polished here, but that’s the point!  The way I record final vocals is obviously much different since I know what’s supposed to come out, with the lyrics and melodies 100% done.  When I record brainstorm sessions or complete a demo, I always slap on a mod delay and chorus effect in Cubase so even they have some moodiness:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Ayria-Invisible-brainstorm-1.mp3[/podcast]

You can hear the randomness of this whole process and what I filter through. Some of these vocals are unintelligible!  Enjoy! Hahaha ;) :

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Ayria-Invisible-brainstorm-21.mp3[/podcast]

I don’t know exactly when and why I made the decision to scrap the ballad approach and pick it up to a fairly fast tempo song but over time as I worked out the full structure to this song, it became more of an electro-pop track. The structure for this complete song that I developed stayed the same in the final produced versions, but, of course, in production, Seb transitioned this song to something almost commercial sounding which blew me away with delight at how slick it turned out! When I passed the production kit to Seb, which includes all the files that make up the demo song so it can be produced (raw vocals, midi, separated instrument file), I said: “This song is structured like a pop song! The influence is electro/80’s while still having a darker, grittier edge.”  From there, he added that main synth lead in the song as well as some other great synth layers and beefed up the percussion. I’m sure he could write a chapter on production, but that’s a completely different beast! Here’s a clip of the final produced version, obviously VERY different from the brainstorming and I’ve skipped a lot of steps in between that got us to here, but I wanted to show how dramatically a song can change and develop from it’s inception:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Invisible-produced-clip.mp3[/podcast]

Yes, but what’s this song all about?  The Lyrics:

Verse 1:

This song turned out to be a classic tale about young love and feeling rejected by the object of your affection.  Trying to gain their attention, love and respect but realizing that all attempts have been futile and you remain invisible to them. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they completely relate to this song, and it’s their favourite track.  Both comments that touch me.  The line “You saw me falter for one second of the day”.  I’m not sure I totally landed that exactly how I wanted to.  In my mind, it’s about the one time that person does see you, it unfortunately happens to be a moment of weakness when you screw up. “Sometimes I hate you more than you could ever hate yourself”. I just love this line, it’s so painful and harsh and you could hear it’s beginnings in the very early demo stages.  It’s self explanatory.

The Pre-Chorus:

“But I love you, would do anything for you but you don’t even see that I’m in pain. Frustration became humiliation waiting outside for you in the pouring rain.”

I just wanted to point out a moment of self-growth I had in song writing!  This song was the first in all of my history that I developed a “pre-chorus” in a song.  This song structure element wasn’t something I’d ever experimented with or even thought about before.  I heard a song do it once and thought, “Hey, that part is really effective!  A complete change in melodies preceeding the chorus! I want to try that!”. I was proud of myself for expanding and introducing a new element to my song writing.

Chorus: Rain!

If you know me, you may know that I love rain.  I’ve wanted to work rain into an Ayria song forever and here, I really got to belt it out.  Plus the imagery of someone humiliated, standing outside in the pouring rain, waiting for someone who’s probably not going to show up.  It was just so sad.

RAW VOCAL SHARE:  Here’s the raw, unaffected final vocals that were produced in this song. I thought you guys might find this neat since you only ever hear the vocals in the music.  This is the last minute of the song and there are multiple layers going on.  There were 6 vocal tracks in the production kit, which means 6 wav files that layer together to complete all the vocals in this song.
Final Raw vocals:
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Invisible_raw_vocals_Layered-2.mp3[/podcast]

The Bridge? (I think that’s what this is):  “tried so hard to be someone

I don’t know what this part is really.  It’s a transition before verse number 2, and acts as a bridge later in the song. I’m just not sure a bridge typically makes an appearance in a song more than once?  I took a pop-music history class in University and I don’t remember this coming up to be honest. I love the lyrics here with the life is a game and I’m never the winner analogy and the “never was nobody” sadness of trying so hard but never getting to be what you want, in either life, or noticed in the eyes of another. This song is not exactly autobiographical, but as always, I can’t help but inject honest parts of myself into it.

Verse #2:

Favourite vocals: “a wicked game to torture me because you can” when you love someone that much, and they know it, they can take advantage of that.  Also the “sad thing is, I’ve done the same before to someone else”.  This has been true in my life personally where I know I’ve put someone through what I’m going through now.  It’s karma.  Everyone wants who or what they can’t have. An awesome production element in the second verse that I want to point out, is during the “you toy with me, then pull back”. Seb put a break that sounds like the music starts going backwards “pulling back”. It only lasts for a second, but keeps it interesting.

My thoughts on playing this song live:

It has an awesome energy to it.  My flaw in structuring this song, from a live perspective, is that I NEVER STOP SINGING!!  That’s right. There are no musical gaps in this song once my vocals come in, making this song difficult to perform live.  Also, pulling off the “tried so hard to be someone, never was nobody” even the recording was done on separate layers so I wouldn’t have to sing more than one repetition at a time. There’s not a lot of space to breathe, especially difficult going right into the second verse! It was in the set list for the full European Tour I just came home from and my keyboardist for Europe, Justin, LOVED playing the parts live, but it’s slightly challenging to sing, move, dance and breathe all at once in this song!  Which is weird because I tried to keep in mind the element of live shows when I worked on Hearts For Bullets because I knew that touring was such a big part of what I do! Here’s a clip of us playing it live in Dortmund, Germany in December 2009, and if you’ve seen me live before, you know this isn’t a fraction of how much I usually move around, but honestly, I was pacing myself to make sure I could pull off the singing, and NOT pass out.  Did I mention how hot it is up on stage too? Excuses, excuses!

Thanks Josaustsoest for posting this video!  If you can’t see it, click here:
Ayria performing Invisible Live in Dortmund, Germany (Dec 2009)

Here’s my obligatory pimp on where you can buy the song “Invisible” or the full “Hearts For Bullets” CD.  This link takes you to my web shop where I personally sign and send you stuff:

Or you can purchase the song or full CD digitally from iTunes:

I’m sure you have felt invisible at some point in your life and can relate to the frustration portrayed in this song!?

3 songs down now!  Let me know if you guys have any other questions or ideas you’d like me to cover for future songs. As each song is unique, I’m trying different approaches for each one ;)

Jennifer

Ayria style: arm stuff & my love of jelly bracelets

Ayria arms from Flicker Photo Shoot

Ayria arms from Flicker Photo Shoot

Welcome to my first entry where I discuss elements of the “Ayria style”.  I want to post semi-regulary a mix of different topics from music (of course) to touring, inspiration, etc.  So, I have no idea how this will all turn out, but for this post I thought it might be fun to post about the elements that go into the look that I’ve cultivated for the stage. Having toured quite a bit now (I’ve been on the road about 3 months out of a year for the past 3 years), I’ve learned that everything I need to pack, needs to get compartmentalized so I don’t forget anything.  All the stuff I’ve been piling  on my arms has made them a signature part of my look I guess, but a more important self-discovery is that that I’ve realized that I feel completely naked and incomplete if I haven’t put this stuff on my arms before getting on stage! It’s become an obsession, a weird sense of security (maybe a disorder of some kind, who knows ;)) Through the years some of these arm pieces have been on tour and onstage with me since I started Ayria, which makes this kind of a historical collection of little things I’ve amassed since the beginning of my touring advenures! So, I hope you enjoy this post which showcases what I pack on tour that’s just for my arms alone plus any stories behind them.

I guess it all started with my obsession for black jelly bracelets and from there grew to more bracelets,  cuffs, gloves, bicep bands, etc.  and I’ve even lost a LOT of stuff on the road too so the collection was actually larger before. Losing stuff is a part of touring. It just happens when you’re packing up your stuff every night in different cities backstage, hotels, busses, etc. (Luckily, none of my accessories are expensive!) Here is a picture of how the arm gear gets stored and packed:

arms in bags

Ayria - arms in bags

Yes, those are giant plastic zip-lock baggies.  This was one amazing tip I learned from Jessica of the Cruxshadows while touring with them.  She has this insanely organized system of putting things into plastic baggies.  Not only can you reduce the space things take up by pushing the air out, but it also makes things easier to find and keeps clean outfits separate from dirty ones.  I of course was the only one on tour that had a baggie just for arm accessories, but anyways,  Pictured are the 2 bags I store at home, one is labelled “Ayria Arms” and the other bag is “Ayria – Back Up Arms”. I know. Crazy stuff.  I only bring one of the bags on tour, but this shows how much crap I have that I even have back up arm accessories not in the main rotation! ;)  Here is the content of the “Ayria Arms” bag laid out for everyone to see:

arms on display

Ayria - arms on display

There are 4 componets that make up my arm accessories: # 1: Jelly bracelets.  Here in this picture I have over 80 black ones.  A few noteable ones were the gifts I got like the “Deathguild” ones from one of my favourite club nights in San Francisco, California, and the Cruxshadows one that I got while on the road with them (I have a pink one too that I couldn’t find, typical), plus some of them are from fans that give them to me at shows.

Jelly Bracelets

Ayria - Jelly Bracelets

2. Bicep Bands: These get pulled up over my massive muscles ;) The one on the right with the zipper is famously from the cover of the “Flicker” CD (below is a pic of me wearing it during the”Flicker” photo shoot) and was made by my friend Amy in Seattle, along with the army green heart ones.  The pink Plastik Wrap logo is visible in there too.  The rest I was crafty (or cheap) and just made from pieces of  cut up fishnets and interesting tights that got holes in them and needed to be recycled to a higher purpose.

Biceps

Ayria - Biceps

Ayria Flicker photo shoot - showing off bicep band

Ayria Flicker photo shoot - showing off bicep band

3. Gloves: No real stories for these, kind of boring (but still very important).  Mainly just bought at places like Hot Topic in the U.S. and Ardene or Claires while I’m home here in Toronto.

gloves

Ayria - gloves

4. Other wrist accessories: studded bracelets, cuffs, rhinestone bracelets. I bought the pink studded one in San Francisco on Haight street.  Bracelets sometimes become my souvenirs of a city!  I’m quite the collector of arm stuff!

more stuff

Ayria - more arm stuff

bracelets and fishnet arms

Ayria - bracelets and fishnet arms

My all time favourite “wrist accessory” is pictured below and is an elastic lace wrist cuff I got when Ayria had the privledge of playing in Japan.  I needed a souvenir from Harajuku and thought this was lovely!  It has a bow, studs on the lace, a chain, safety pins and a hilarious tag:

Japan wrist decoration

Ayria - Japan wrist decoration

Japan wrist decoration - tag

Japan wrist decoration - tag

The back of the tag cracks me up and I’m considering titling some songs from my next CD based on this.  Like several things in Japan, something got lost in translation.  They had a whole culture of hard core punk rock fashion, but Japanese culture was so positive and not rebellious that it all comes out kind of funny.  For example, a knock off Sex Pistols shirt where instead of printing lyrics “No Future For You!” it said “Good Future For You!” In a totally bad ass font!  It was awesome and hilarious! I ♥ Japan so much (but that’s a whole other story I should do!)

Wow, never knew I could have so much to say about arm accessories! Thanks for reading the first instalment dedicated to other things making up the Ayria world and aesthetics.   Since I’ve dedicated this year to working as a musician working on the new material, I’m trying to look for creative ways to generate a bit more income, while trying to offer those who already have all the music, some neat little keepsakes.  So, here’s the deal, if you enjoyed reading my blog and want to have a little piece of Ayria history, if you donate any amount of your choice (minimum of  $5.00 please – so I can cover  the costs), I will personally send you one of my jelly bracelets pictured above (Gasp! Yes, I’m going to part with some of them), with a fishnet bow with a signed tag, plus a card with a personalized message to you all as pictured below ;)


Ayria Bracelet Offer

Ayria Bracelet Offer

Ok, so I’ve shared one of my obsessions with you (I ♥ jelly bracelets)…. what’s your obsession? ;)

Much love,

Jennifer

Song Dissection: Bad List

BAD LIST
From the CD: Hearts For Bullets
Music programming, lyrics & vocals: Jennifer Parkin
Production, mixing, mastering: Sebastian Komor

Lyrics:

Somehow it feels I’m getting more frustrated
With every tongue tied, wild eyed, overrated
Narcissistic self absorbed spawn of a generation bored

Want to see you vulnerable
I am not your equal
Ruling with an iron fist
And you are on my bad list
A routine casualty
Razor sharp beauty queens
Bridges built are bridges burned
You will get what you deserve.

And now I think I’m done caring
Too many mindless self obsessed overbearing
Misogynistic, plastic hearts. Can’t wait to see you torn apart.

What did they do?
Made you so awful
Why do you say?
The stupid things you do
The ones you’ve hurt
I hope they hurt you too
The things you’ve done
Will eat away at you

You’ve made this list
You won’t be missed
You’ll have to learn
Some things you don’t deserve

The Dissection:

I was actually surprised when I went back through all of the working files for this song to realize that it took exactly one year from it’s beginning to it’s glorious finish.  That may seem like a long time to finish one track that comes in at just under 4 minutes but during this period,  I was working full time, trying to work on music in the evenings and any spared moment I could find, and also went on 3 different tours that took me to faraway places such as the U.S.A. and Europe!  When working on music, I tend to work on lots of songs simultaneously meaning the full “Hearts For Bullets” was all being worked on in various stages, all taking about 2 years to complete every detail.  I use a draft approach where songs will go through various lyrics and structure tweaks until I’m happy with them. I can’t create a song in one day.  I need to step back, sleep on things, listen again, re-work and re-peat the cycle.

“Bad List” is one of my favourite songs from this CD and that’s why it’s placed as track #1 on “Hearts For Bullets”. There is a science to ordering songs on a CD. I guess this concept has become less important in this digital age as listeners don’t often hear a full CD in order anymore.  Hearing single songs is more the norm now, which is fine, but I miss the days when you’d put a CD in and listen to it start to finish, anticipating each track.   So, back to the science of old-school track ordering:  track #1 should be a strong and immediate song that will instantly grab the listener and draw them in.  I personally felt that this was THE one.  Musically, It blends so many elements that I personally love including a strong gritty bass synth line, a big beat, loud crunchy snares and vocals somewhere between chanty but slick enough that you can hear them. I know it’s not one of my more complex songs lyrically, it’s fuelled by anger, frustration and a bit of good old fashioned passive aggressiveness but I thought the very straightforward lyrical approach was effective for this song to make it catchy.

Who is on your Bad List?

We all have a Bad  List. Don’t’ lie I know you do! It’s a list of those jerks that have done you, or the world around you wrong.  It’s those individuals that, if you could, you’d just like to smack and say “what’s wrong with you?”, or better yet, you’d love to sit back and watch their world come crashing down around them in a big mess and it would be totally what they deserve.  Now, if you’ve met me personally, this all sounds very shocking coming from sweet little me!  I’m not a mean or spiteful person, I swear! But I do like to express my darker self through music occasionally and  this song simply allowed me to vent some frustrations using a simple concept of having a “Bad List” but to avoid getting myself into trouble, I’m not going to print names… ;)

Lyrics & Words (plus a bit of venting..):

“Generation Bored”:  This was the original working title for this song which is from a lyric in the song “You’re all spawn of a Generation Bored”.  This became my term for those negative individuals (usually hanging out online) participating in circular arguments, ripping each other apart, being rude and mean to each other,  doing nothing seemingly positive or good with their time, etc.  It occurred to me how bored our generation must be for this to be a regular acceptable way of life.  The other title I now give this this song is “sound-check song!”  It’s the song I always check levels with on tour because of the dynamics.  I also have great tour memories associated with band members of The Cruxshadows singing along to this song , making up dances and even doing a surprise guest appearance with me on stage in Hannover and Hamburg, Germany in December, 2009.

“Misogynistic, self absorbed”: One of my pet peeves is to hear a comment like: “I hate female vocals in electronic/industrial/<insert hip genre classification of the moment here> music!” These people are on my bad list.  It’s unclear what they hate exactly, is it ethereal vocals, gothy, rock style, contemporary  pop styled, distorted or effected until it sounds like a man, cookie monster or killer alien robot from another planet? Or do they hate that it’s a woman singing at all?  It’s a big category to hate, it’s sexist and it bugs me.  Anywyas, to focus on the positive: the musicians, artists, awesome people I’ve worked with and met over the years have been such creative, talented, passionate, and open minded people. I respect them not because they are men, or women, that shouldn’t matter. They are on my “Awesome List” which is longer than my “Bad List” ;)

The rest of the lyrics, I think are pretty self explanatory but if you have questions about the meaning or motivation behind a specific lyric, please just comment here and I’ll reply to you!

Creative Process:

I want to share how do my lyrical brainstorming.  For every CD I work on, I buy a pretty little notebook (or two) that I use to jot my thoughts, ideas and eventually attempt structuring my final lyrics for a song. Yes, I’m old fashioned and I find actually writing with a pen and paper helps me stay outside of the lines!  I found some ramblings that eventually became some of the lyrics to “Bad List”. I know it’s hard to read. My hand writing is terrible at best but I thought it was kind of neat to share this part of the process that never gets to see the light of day and (big surprise) there’s even stars in my brainstorming. So predictable.

My Beautiful Mess of rough lyrics

My Beautiful Mess of rough lyrics

My Beautiful Mess of Words Part 2

My Beautiful Mess of Words Part 2

Production:

The produced song used some of the the origianal synths and demo elements, but Seb of course used his studio magic to make things sound bigger and better.  Here are clips of  the two main incarnations of the demos along with a clip of the finished produced version:

This was my very first demo file of this song.  It captured the main loop of the gritty synth that the rest of the song was based on:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Bad-List_ROUGH_DEMO_STOMPY1.mp3[/podcast]

This version was a bit more flushed out.  I got my good friend and keyboardist Joe Byer from the band v01d to help me add some sweet moog synth and other sounds. The vibe was a bit more electro-y.

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Bad-List_ROUGH_DEMO_ELECTRO1.mp3[/podcast]

I wanted the song to be somewhere between the above 2.  Here’s the final produced version that captured the perfect blend of stompy and electro.  You can hear the chorus in here too. Seb worked on creating a layer of synth sounds for the chorus that would lift  it up a notch and make it stand apart from the bass synth in the verse that runs through most of the song:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Bad-List_Produced_verse11.mp3[/podcast]

Ending Thought:  “The things you’ve done, will eat away at you”

If you’ve enjoyed reading this, and want to contribute to my 2010 journey and mission, as a musician working towards finishing the new CD, please check out my shop (I personally ship & sign anything you want)

OR you can purchase the mp3 of “Bad List” from iTunes for a mere dollar here:

Next Friday I’ll post another song dissection but I’m not yet sure which song I’ll do.  If you missed the first one, check out “1000 Transmissions” from last week!

So, what type of people or behaviours make your Bad List?

Jennifer

Song Dissection: 1000 Transmissions

From the CD: Hearts For Bullets
Music programming, lyrics & vocals: Jennifer Parkin
Production, mixing, mastering: Sebastian Komor
Hearts for Bullets (cover)

This is my first dissection of a song from this release and it happens to be one of the most emotional tracks for me, but I went for it and I’m here bearing my soul about the making of this song to the fans that care, appreciate the music, and wanted to know more :) I don’t go too much into production details here, since that’s better left to Seb, but I do discuss some of the additions, and I do discuss the motivation, lyrics, melodies, some of my favourite parts and share some clips as well as personal memories. I hope you enjoy!

Lyrics:

Just when I think it’s getting better, I relapse back to this place where the scenery has changed and it’s terrifying.  How can I go back, when it’s much too late.

Piece by piece, bit by bit, my heart aches and I feel sick.  There’s things you say, and things you can’t. Things you threw away and things you want back.  The fact that I’ve lost you erases all my sanity.  Seriously, how could anyone carry on like this? I’ll never look at things the same because of you.  I’ll never get that moment back I shared with you.

It only hurts when I remember.  I know you’re trying to make it better.

Bit by bit, my heart breaks. Your voice repeats and I can’t take it anymore.  Don’t compromise, save yourself, I’ll always be here. Don’t say goodbye, I’m not through with you. Don’t compromise. Don’t say goodbye. I’ve tried and tried, my head is full of memories and sleepless nights, an endless cycle. I’ve tried and tried but these thoughts just drag me down.

It only hurts when I remember.  I know you’re trying to make it better.

I can not steer this ship without you.  There’s no light guiding me to shore. I’m just left drowning in these nightmares, where will I go? I don’t know.  Let it go. Can’t let you go.  Let it go.

The Dissection:

I wrote this song about 2 months after my dad passed away in 2007 and it was also one of the last songs I had written for Hearts For Bullets.  Out of all the stages of grief, I had just passed the numb and in-denial phase and was in the full blown anger phase after losing him.  A lot of people  have interpreted this song as an angry break up song, and it’s definitely not, but I hope people can, and have used this song however they need to help them deal with their own situations of loss and anger.  The experience of losing my father was one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with and has forever changed me.  Something I haven’t shared with many people about that time, was that I was at the hospital and held my dad’s hand as he passed away in July of 2007.  I have never been the same since that moment.   My life was hell for several months after that and this song  captures the aftermath of being left behind and left to deal with the confusing emotions of grief and loss.  I need to say, I can listen back to this song now and not be overwhelmed.  I’ve long since passed the anger phase, and when I perform it live, I find it a powerful, energetic piece that is actually a lot of fun to play!  I use the anger behind it still, but it comes from a different place within me. If that makes any sense?

I always give the songs I’m working on, random titles until something better comes up or sometimes the working title sticks.  I went through two working titles for this track.  First, was “The God Particle” after watching a documentary on T.V. about the hypothetical particle to explain the origins of all mass in the Universe, ok,  so I thought that sounded pretty cool.  I later found out a few other bands already had songs titled this.. we all must have been watching the discovery channel that day! But it didn’t connect to the song’s content either so I later changed the title to “Alive In Pieces” which, does describe my own state during that period, and to be honest, I can’t remember why I decided to change it from that, but in the end, I decided on something more relevant to my father “1000 Transmissions” came from the fact that my dad’s main hobby (obsession), was operating short wave radios.  In an attempt to further bond with him when I was 18, I studied to get my license as well… so, yes, I’m a licensed shortwave (HAM) radio operator and yes, I always made nerdy jokes about this! ;)

Having shared the theme of this song with you, I really doubt I have to further analyze all of the lyrics as I think they are pretty obvious but I do want to explain a few parts though:

The Bridge:

“I can not steer this ship without you.  There’s no light guiding me to shore. I’m just left drowning in these nightmares, where will I go? I don’t know.  Let it go. Can’t let you go.  Let it go.”

My father loved boats and fishing and we always had some kind of fishing boat that we’d take camping when I was young, out on the waters of Lakes Huron, Ontario or the up to the Ottawa river where we used to go camping.  I wanted to write a boat analogy in the song.  Musically, the reverse piano in the bridge was all Seb’s idea that came in the production stage, it was completely transfomed in production, and I absolutely LOVED the change, and thought it brought much more sadness and needed softness to it.  My demo was much more chaotic and just percussive. The first clip is my rough demo before production so you can see how it was transformed by production:

A rough Demo of the bridge – 1000 Transmissions (before production):
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Rough_Demo_1000_Transmissions_Bridge.mp3[/podcast]

Bridge – 1000 Transmissions (after final production):
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/blog/1000_transmissions/1000_Transmissions_Bridge.mp3[/podcast]

after the bridge, I personally loved the progression of those notes of the bass synth (while I sing “let it go, I can’t let you go”) since when I wrote it, I felt it captured what I felt when I used to listen to 90’s industrial music.  Again, I can’t speak about all the production details that Seb did, but a few things that stand out to me in this track were the added layers of static noise to the full track which thickened up the song, fit the harsher sound, and complimented the “1000 Transmissions” theme.  I honestly gave Seb this demo a bit incomplete since I had no idea how to finish off this song after those notes in the bridge part! I had just hit a wall completely.  He added about a minute to the ending of that song including the last powerful break that I loved:

1000 Tranmissions – break down into outtro:
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/1000_Transmissions_end_break.mp3[/podcast]

The Chorus:

“It only hurts when I remember.  I know you’re trying to make it better”.  I was, at the time, constantly remembering of course, and the second phrase was directed at the rest of the world and my family who were all trying to help overcome grief as best as they could.  Musically, it’s not my usual style of chorus progression, since it was so simple and short but it summed up everything so perfectly with just a subtle change. It was important to me to mainly keep the driving bass synth and stompy percussion constant until the bridge.

Verse:

“My head is full of memories and sleepless nights, an endless cycle. I’ve tried and tried but these thoughts just drag me down.”  This describes late 2007 where I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, afraid of dreaming.  Musically, I want to point out that I loved and was surprised by the desperation in my voice in the recording during the: “sleepless nights, an endless cycle” part.  It came out accidentally in the demo before final recording (meaning it was pure emotion) and it reminded me of , again early 90’s style of vocals (think Nine Inch Nails even) which is a cool thing.   The distortion effect adds to the desperation and a tiny moment that Seb added that I adored, is right after the first phrase “Bit by bit, my heart breaks” there is a distorted sound that to me, sounds like a demon saying “LIAR!” it struck me and I sometimes mouth that word when I perform it live. Here’s a clip of the verse so you can hear everything for yourself:

1000_Transmissions_Verse 2:
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/1000_Transmissions_Verse2.mp3[/podcast]

I wanted to point out another very very subtle vocal effect in this verse (since I just love vocoding). If you just listened to the clip of the second verse, there is a second layer of vocals present that are vocoded under the more prominent distorted layer. It’s very quiet but it gives it such a nice thickness. I just found this clip going through my old files and I’m posting it is so you can hear what vocoded vocals sound like on their own:

Vocals: An example of vocoding effect used in 1000 Transmissions:
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/0-Vocoder.mp3[/podcast]

CD Liner Notes:  “This CD is dedicated to my Dad who gave me the gift of music and who I know is still here with me”

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dad_and_me

Yeah, that’s me and my dad, proving I’ve been wearing pink for years! ;)
So, now that I’ve shared this deeply personal part of my world with you,  and knowing that I’m currently a struggling musician working here in Toronto on my new CD (hint, hint), if you haven’t already, please consider purchasing the CD through my website (I will sign it and include a personalized note for you, etc):

OR please purchase the mp3 of “1000 Transmisions” directly from iTunes for a mere dollar through this link:

Thanks for reading! Not sure which track I’ll dissect next week yet…

Jennifer

Dissecting Hearts For Bullets

Hearts for Bullets (cover)

This winter has definitely had many ups and downs.  I came back from a steady stream of European touring lasting from October – early January and once I had recovered, I found myself feeling a bit lost, which is a weird feeling when you’re finally home.  I am excited for a bunch of things coming up later this spring, but in January, I came home to not having a “real-grown-up-job” for the first time.  I had taken one too many leaves of absence at my last place of employment (which I completely understood since I was off for a total of  3 months in  2008 and 2 months  in 2009 before I even decided to leave in October).  I’m unable to hunt for work right now since I have a month tour coming up in June, I’ve declared 2010 a period to focus on myself and music!  My last CD “Hearts For Bullets” came out in the fall of 2008, meaning it’s been a year and half since my last release and until January, I hadn’t started working on any new music!  I was creatively drained for the year of 2009.  I really wasn’t feeling motivated musically, and wanted to take a necessary break while I focussed on my day-job (which was, when I was there, all consuming) and touring instead (I played close to 70 shows last year in Canada, the U.S.A., UK, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Greece).  I don’t regret any choices I’ve made as of now, and I’m not complaining about my current situation since I’m getting to do this thing I love to do, but I know it will  be a bit of a tough time financially  but I know I’ll be alright and I’m really looking forward to the future challenges and possibilities!

It’s now mid April, 2010 and I’ve been concentrating on working on demos for the upcoming CD which is still untitled.  I’m proud to say that I’m about 8 demos in.  Now these “demos” are all in various states of progress,  with some being  completely finished song structures and all lyrics and vocals and some only the first 1.5 minute loop with rough lyrics in place that I need to further develop,  but still, I’m happy and excited where the new stuff will lead me and where production (by none other than the amazing Seb Komor who also produced “Hearts For Bullets”) could take these demos.  I admit to myself  that getting this far on music this year would have never been possible if I were at my last job since I work on music slow enough as it is

Even though I find the process of creating music incredibly personal, I want to document parts of my journey and share a bit of what’s going on.  I think that in order to move forward,  it’s important to remember where I came from so, I thought dissecting the songs from Hearts For Bullets would remind me where I was at in my life and help me remember the work that went into the songs.  It would also give me a chance to let you into my world a little bit since I sometimes get asked what inspired certain songs,  and what they are about and I’ve been bad at posting stuff regularly.  It won’t be in any particular order and some songs will have more stories and explanation behind them than others, but I do want to try and post a write up weekly for the 12 tracks on Hearts For Bullets. My first song for this Friday will be the deeply personal and very stompy track: “1000 Transmissions”.. stay tuned.. yes, pun intended ;)

♥ Jenn

2009: My year in review (Part 1: January – June)

First off, Happy New Year to everyone!  Here’s a few pics of me kicking off 2010 in Dusseldorf, Germany having just ended the “Quick Silver” European tour with the Cruxshadows with my keyboardist for the European tour, Justin Pogue (who has also played live with me at DragonCon and a few dates on the 2008 U.S. tour). But I’ll write more about that tour in part 2!

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I’m going to break the year up a bit and start with the first 6 months. After a 3 month long tour of the U.S.A. with the Cruxshadows finishing up the last quarter of 2008, in comparison, 2009 started relatively quiet, I went back to my “real” life and full time job in Toronto and basically hibernated for the winter. I made the time to catch up with friends (I had been out of the country for 3 months!), go clubbing and go to shows that came through. Not a lot happened on the Ayria front until April when we played Toronto at the DarkRave on April 4th. So, here’s a timeline of my 2009 to recap some of the highlights and some memories of my year.

January/February/March 2009:
- fairly low key period. Went back to work, recovered from the three months of solid touring the U.S.A., had a Battlestar Galactica party for the series finale.. yep.
- Recorded a cover version of Depeche Mode’s “In Your Room”. I did a full write up about this last winter and how my actual room inspired me . The write up is complete with pictures of me in my room (sample below), and an mp3 clip of the cover (read here): http://kittenflug.livejournal.com/58788.html


- hung out with friends, went clubbing and went to some shows (Combichrist and The Presets):
Meeting fans at Savage Garden - Clubbing in Toronto

Meeting fans at Savage Garden – Out Clubbing (January, 2009) YAY! Renata

Meeting fans while attending the Combichrist show in February.

Meeting fans while attending the Combichrist show @ the Operahouse in February (hi Lazarus!)

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Hanging out before going out to Basement club with my friends (Steph, Alana, Joe & I – January)

April 2009
- Ayria’s first show of 2009 and it’s a hometown show in Toronto at the Dark Rave:
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- There’s a link to several great shots from this show linked here (credit: Dylar Pillar):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dylerpillar/sets/72157616306825539/

Here’s some pics after the show with friends (left to right: Steph, Matt and Lukas)
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May 2009
- My birthday kicks off this month, my favourite of all months. I had a Hello Kitty themed party with custom made hello kitty cupcakes, kitty décor and temporary tattoos and grab boxes (sigh, I will never grow up!)

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Went for drinks, me showing off my new pink sharpies ;)

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me styling it up with some kind of kitty-tini beverage ;)

- Kinetik Festival (May 14th): My drummer Mike had made the trip up to Toronto and from there, we (complete with both keyboard players Joe and Jeff) made the trip to Montreal for our appearance at the Kinetik Festival. Saw tons of friends old and new and as always, I love hanging out in Montreal! My friend Stephanie “Blepharisma” put together an awesome promotional video for me to promote our performance at Kinetik.  I’m attempting some kind of dance in it…

- I also did a promotional photo shoot with the talented Alas Vera showing off my Plastik Wrap clothing, new pink hair with a hint of New Orleans.  Here’s a link to all 10 shots:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=117946&id=14321604993

I really wish I had pictures of the perfomance showing all 4 members up on stage but sadly I don’t. I also wish I had more pics of just haning out with friends from that weekend but I’m horrible at remembering to take pictures while on tours and at shows so I’m often relying on others to take pictures and share them with me!

- Kicked off the Ayria Canadian tour hitting London, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton & Calgary taking us into June:

Hanging out in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on a beautiful day in early June.

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Me with a polar bear in Winnepeg, Manitoba

June 2009
- Returned from the Canadian tour on June 8th, had to work for 2 weeks while simultaneously preparing for departure to Los Angeles to start the VNV Nation – Faith Power and Glory Tour as a support act.. much fun ensued.. but that will be in Part 2.

PART 2: COMING NEXT WEEK
If you have any decent pictures from July-December 2009 you want to share, or to be included in the upcoming blog, please send pics or a link to jennifer@ayria.com

Upcoming European Tour with The Cruxshadows (November & December 2009)

I’ve only been back for a week after touring Europe with the always amazing VNV Nation (and the completely insane Straftanz). I haven’t really even had time to recap how awesome it was to be on tour with those guys (<3) and how much we all loved the shows in the UK, Holland, Belgium and Greece!  Now, I’m already preparing to leave for Germany again!  I’ll be flying back into Hamburg two weeks from today to embark on my next European adventure supporting The Cruxshadows!  I’ve toured with them extensively in the U.S.A. in 2007/2008 so it seems fitting to make the journey together over the Atlantic this time.  I’m very excited for this upcoming tour, and hope my European friends and fans can make it out to a gig to support and say hi to me!  It isn’t often that I get to Europe (before this year, we made it over in 2007 for a short tour with Angelspit and Ego Likeness) so come out and please share these tour dates with all of your friends!  NOTE: if you saw us last month, our set length will be longer on this tour so we’ll be playing more songs!

Tickets for German dates only: www.ticket69.de (check the local venues for other ticketing information)
The Cruxshadows Pages:
http://www.cruxshadows.com/frame.html
http://www.myspace.com/cruxshadows

The Cruxshadows & Ayria
(Presented by Sonic Seducer & musix)

20 Nov 2009 Dresden, Germany Strasse E
21 Nov 2009 Magdeburg, Germany Factory
22 Nov 2009 Bremen, Germany Tivoli
24 Nov 2009 Osnabrück, Germany Lagerhalle
25 Nov 2009 Aschaffenburg, Germany Colos Saal
27 Nov 2009 Sheffield, United Kingdom Corporation
29 Nov 2009 Leeds, United Kingdom The Cockpit
30 Nov 2009 York, United Kingdom York Fibbers
1 Dec 2009 Sunderland, United Kingdom Independent
2 Dec 2009 Liverpool, United Kingdom Masque
3 Dec 2009 Manchester, United Kingdom Moholive 1
4 Dec 2009 Birmingham, United Kingdom Eddie’s Rock Club
5 Dec 2009 London, United Kingdom O2 Academy Islington
8 Dec 2009 Nürnberg, Germany Der Hirsch
11 Dec 2009 Rome, Italy Black Out Club
12 Dec 2009 Florence, Italy Siddhartha
15 Dec 2009 Zürich, Switzerland Abart
18 Dec 2009 Saarbrücken, Germany Festhalle Saarbrücken-Brebach
19 Dec 2009 Leipzig, Germany Theaterfabrik
20 Dec 2009 Erfurt, Germany Centrum
21 Dec 2009 Berlin, Germany K17
22 Dec 2009 Hannover, Germany MusikZentrum
23 Dec 2009 Hamburg, Germany Logo
28 Dec 2009 Bruchsal, Germany Fabrik Bruchsal
29 Dec 2009 (New Date!) Dortmund, Germany FZW
30 Dec 2009 Regensburg, Germany Alte Mälzerei

(More dates to be added)

Memories: December 2008 with The Cruxshadows, Ayria & I:Scintilla in Atlanta, GA

The Cruxshadows, Ayria, I:Scintilla in Atlanta, GA, December 2008

The Cruxshadows, Ayria, I:Scintilla in Atlanta, GA, December 2008

Atlanta Dragon*Con

The Crowd at Dragon Con!

The Crowd at Dragon Con!

Dragon*Con Loves Ayria! The Crowd in Atlanta, GA, Sept 6th 2009 (click to see it BIG!)

We were the last band of the evening on Sunday!!

Jenn as a goth, lolita, anime girl

Gothic lolita anime Jenn from Ayria

This past weekend I attended Dragon*Con in Atlanta with approximately 35,000 other fans of science fiction (literature, film and T.V), anime, horror, gaming, fantasy, etc. This was my first time not only performing a show at the Con but also my first time ever attending. I had wanted to for a few years now, having heard nothing but amazing things about it. I packed up my costumes, and everything I needed for the Ayria concert that would be happening on the last official night of the con, woke up at 5:00 am on Friday and got to the Toronto airport for my flight to Atlanta. Unfortunately, my flight ended up being over 3 hours delayed, which cut into my Friday time but everything worked out ok in the end.

My friend Sarah, who was helping me at the Con for the weekend picked me up at the airport. Our first stop was to figure out where the Ayria merch table would be. Upon our arrival, one of my helpers, Angela met us to help us set up. Let me just say right now that I could not have done this weekend without my Ayria helpers. 15 volunteers that ran the Ayria merch table, taking shifts for 24 hours a day for 3.5 days. They were incredible! Thank you: Angela (the star table cloth rocked!), Brittany, Kellie, Alan, Tammy, Kevin, Bernardo, Louis, Raymond, Laura & Adam, Nicketas, Michelle, April and mangopork. There was also a team of about 30 people who helped flyer to promote the show, you guys absolutely ROCK and there’s too many to list but special thanks to Lucky and Vintu who between the two, must have distributed over 3,000 flyers on their own!

Once we checked in to the hotel, I got ready for Friday night where I dressed up as “gothic-lolita-anime Jenn” with a pink PVC dress made by Artifice Clothing. I was scheduled to do a panel on the state of the goth scene (slightly difficult, I’m not really goth but I met some great people there). Later that night, I was scheduled as the special guest at Funcom’s Anarchy Online gaming party where they played my music and announced the show. Those Funcom guys were great and so nice to hang out with.

Sarah ("Lady Luck") and Jennifer  Saturday at Dragon Con

Jenn's self portrait - Saturday Outfit

Self portrait – Jenn from Ayria

Saturday was much of the same, hanging out at the con, signing merch for fans, taking pictures, staring at all the amazing costumes and having a lot of fun! Saturday I went dressed again as an anime, lolita character again (yeah, I really love that look!) but this time in black and white. Clothing again was made by Artifice Clothing. Highlight of Saturday was seeing my friends from the Cruxshadows play to a packed house! We toured with them in the fall of 2008 and I hadn’t seen them since last December. It was great seeing their show again!

Skipping to Sunday, the night we were to play, I was a bit nervous since the size of the concert room was HUGE. In the video’s I’m posting below, you can see there are projection screens that are half-way back in the room, that are actually playing the concert for the seated area in the back! It’s really impressive. We were the last performance of the night and we went on quite late since the party never really stops at the Con! I was blown away at how many people were there to see us live, who were energetic and ready to dance! We had the place jumping, singing, chanting and of course, making up their own dances. My favourite was the weird bird like dance that caught on during the song “Cutting” about 20 people were doing this because one row of guys started it! I even stopped in the song to ask “What is this?” Classic. This was the first show ever where the waving arms was not started by us on stage! The fans all started doing it in sync on their own, so I asked them if I could film them doing it (clip below). I loved every minute of the show, the fans did too and I fed off of their energy. I’d love to return to play again, but we’ll have to wait and see. For now, I have my memories of the weekend making me very happy. Thank you to everyone involved in this fabulous con! The organizers, the tech team at the show (and to think, not even a soundcheck! Not bad ;) , thanks to Plastik Wrap for making our stage outfits and my Sunday Con outfit. and I have to especially thank the incredible fans who helped out and those of you who attended the show, I have one question for you: Have your feet recovered yet? There’s a gallery below to see a few more images.

I flew home yesterday night (Monday, Sept 8th) and I’m completely exhausted but it was worth every moment! My question to those of you who attended our show: Have your feet stopped hurting?

Much love and until next time!

<3
Jennifer

Ayria @ Dragon*Con – Crowd waving for “Disease”


Can’t see the embedded video? Click here!

Dragon*Con loves Ayria – crowd during the show


Can’t see the embedded video? Click here!

SET LIST:

  • Intro
  • Bad List
  • Six Seconds
  • Horrible Dream
  • Analog Trash
  • Red Shift
  • Blue Alice
  • Cutting
  • Invisible
  • My Device
  • Disease
  • The Gun Song
  • 1000 Transmissions
  • Girl On the Floor
  • Encore: It’s Been Fun
  • My Revenge On The World
Self portrait - Jenn from Ayria The crowd for the Ayria show - Dragon Con, Atlanta, GA Sept 6th, 2009
Sarah ("Lady Luck") and Jenn from Ayria Jennifer and Tammy (one of the super hero merch helpers)
Kevin at the Ayria Merch Table (one of the amazing helpers) Jenn as a goth, lolita, anime girl
Jenn with the "More Cowbell" guy.  My favourite costume of the Con! Jenn and Voni (she flyered for this show like CRAZY!)