Some of you may know Haley Johnsen from when she was a semi-finalist on American Idol in 2012, but there is more to her than a powerful emotive voice and rockin’ guitar skills. Not only is Haley a force to be reckoned with but she’s also a role model for future boss ladies & a huge advocate for all ages music.
With two singles recently released, "Lift Me Up" and "Close to You", Haley is continuing to tour all over the states with bands like Wolfchild, The Wind and The Wave and Sawyer Fredericks. Still, even on long tours, Haley Johnsen stays connected to her local community in Portland. How does she do it? The Crush took an exclusive interview to learn a thing or two from the songwriter.
Congrats on releasing your new singles! Should we expect another full length soon?
Thank you! Absolutely…I have SO many new songs that I am just aching to get in the studio and record. My goal is to definitely have my first full length LP out by next year!
You've been on tour a lot this year! How did you get started in the touring world?
Honestly, it has just been a few connections that have enabled me to tour all over the country in the last year! I met my now Seattle based manager a few year ago and most of the tours I have gone on are with bands that he manages. If it wasn’t for Seattle based band, Wolfchild, I may not have been introduced to his connections and been able to tour the U.S with The Wind and the Wave, and Sawyer Fredericks. When it comes down to it, it really is all about who you know and if your music is a good match for that bands audience, which it was!
What is the most rewarding thing about being on the road?
Oh man, being on the road is like being in a time warp or different dimension. I would say the most rewarding thing about being on the road is bonding with the people that you are on the road with. Getting to experience a new city everyday with them, work beside them, watch them perform. You learn SO much from each other and just feel a lot more comfortable being vulnerable. When it comes to touring, performing, and selling your brand, there is no time for BS. I would also have to say that meeting new fans and gauging each new audience is a huge rush. You never know what to expect. Some nights, it might seem like you fell flat in your performance and then ONE new fan will come up to you at the end of the night, buy your CD, and tell you that one song moved them to tears and inspired them to make a change. So for me, to put it simply, touring is about CONNECTING!
What is the hardest part about touring? How can artists prepare themselves for it?
The hardest thing about touring is just the behind the scenes work that happens before and after you perform. You have to load all your gear in, set up all your merch, keep track of everything, play your show, keep a friendly face, tear down, making sure you don't forget anything, and finally have your beer or whatever and go to bed at like 2 am. It’s a wacky schedule and I have been physically and emotionally exhausted at times during tour. It is also VERY hard to be away from a partner for so many weeks in a row. Learning how to communicate while being on the road is in art form.
The world of pop music is laced with hidden gems. Around every corner, hiding behind the big radio hits and sometimes mediocre chart toppers, are new arrivals to the scene, sporting unknown names and fresh appeal. When digging into one of these findings, a rush of excitement washes over the listener. In the best of these moments, hearing these songs for the first time can feel like listening to the future.
Joyeur are a relatively new arrival on the scene, and their freshest single “Fast As You Can” is a bright gemstone of pop music. The brainchild of producer Anna Feller and songwriter Joelle Corey, Joyeur’s “FAYC” is a booming pop cut, lush with unique productions and tribal rhythms, and an anthemic chorus to tie it all together, worming itself into your ear. It’s an exciting thing to hear, as it’s polished pop surface seems to be begging for a spot on radio charts in the near future.
“FAYC” isn’t Joyeur’s only venture thus far, though. And it’s certainly not a fluke. The duo are in high-gear, ready to premiere new music within the coming days, and are scheduled to make their official debut with an EP, titled LIFEAFTER, this October. Like this first single, the full EP packs in plenty more ear-catching moments, exceptional pop flavors, and endlessly repeatable plays.
With so much on the horizon for the duo, #WomenCrush Music caught up with Anna and Joelle to discuss their origins, inspirations, and the creation of “Fast As You Can…”
Prior to forming Joyeur together, what projects were you individually involved with?
Joelle Corey: I was rather a closeted creator before we met. Anna spent a lot of time at the piano and although she was producing other artists and I was getting into the studio as well, we were both still coming into ourselves as artists. Our collaboration was the one that instilled artistic confidence in each of us and really brought each of us to life.
Anna, you have experience as a classical pianist. How has that aided or affected your skill in production?
Anna Feller: This is a great question! I started learning as a child, so reading and playing music became second nature to me. Understanding the language of music, the complicity of rhythmical patterns, different arrangements, understanding how instruments work and their limitations has helped me to be able to express myself musically. I am a strong believer in the phrase "learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist".
What were some of your inspirations in production on "Fast As You Can?”
Anna: I was very inspired by Afro-House music at the time I produced FAYC. The rhythmical patterns and how they shifted from one section to the other really made me feel something. I wanted to make something raw and intense, yet playful. I knew Jo would love the trumpet because she is a fan of horns and live instrumentation. In my mind, I was like “I have to make Jo like it” and that inspired me to add the trumpet.
Along with the production, what inspired the songwriting and topics explored on the track?
Joelle: From its inception, this primal, almost trap-like beat had one topic ingrained in its DNA: movement. I felt it from the moment I heard it. The lyrics poured out. I was going through a rough relationship in which I felt I was always chasing my man. Unknowingly, I think I channeled that and found power in normalizing unrequited love and obsession. At the end of the song, you hear enthusiastic layered vocals which very quickly return to a whisper. I think that’s me trying to keep my cool with so much brewing inside.
As a conscientious songwriter, you will be faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, you need to write a song that is likable and catchy since you need people to respond to it positively. After all, songwriting and performing is your bread and butter. On the other, you still want to be able to produce lyrics that have meaning and resonate with people.
Now, when you take a look at some of the catchiest songs on the charts, it might feel like you can’t actually reconcile these two elements. Despite this, it is possible – just as long as you know how. The article below deals with how you can create a harmonious balance between appealing and meaningful:
Repetition is Key - But Do It Properly
Let’s face it, one of the things that make a catchy song memorable is the fact that there tends to be a great deal of repetition. Now, some songs may simply repeat phrases or words over and over again. While this will help your listeners remember the lyrics, it isn’t an effective technique if you want to write an evocative song.
This brings us to the question – how can you create repetition and patterns without being a sellout? Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to do this. The first thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of reiteration and patterns. For example, let’s take a look at the lyrics to Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and focus on the chorus here.
Here you get, “take another little piece of my heart”, “break another little bit of my heart”, and “have another little piece of my heart”. While she is technically repeating the lyrics, she is doing it in a way that creates a lot more imagery by simply switching up the first part of the phrases. At the same time, due to the echoing lyrics, it is an easy chorus to remember. You, too, can utilize such a tactic.
Follow a Popular Structure
People like things they find familiar – this is why you will notice that some of the most popular tracks use a song structure that is easily recognizable. So, when writing a song, there are two guidelines to abide by. You can either choose ABABCB or AABA. Here, A is the verse, B is the chorus, and C is the bridge. As long as you stick with this format, you will find that people gravitate towards your track more easily.
Another trick you can use is to create a contrast between the verse and the chorus. So, opt for deeper, more meaningful lyrics in the verse and round it off with a catchy, punchy chorus. This will help balance out the elements beautifully and also make your song more interesting to boot. It is something you should think about when experimenting with melodies on your instrument as well.
The real trick to writing a catchy song is to keep it short and simple. So, it is a good idea to keep your song under four minutes if you really want it to catch on with your audience. Closer to three minutes might be even better if you can manage it.
However, just because you have to keep your song short and to the point doesn’t mean that you have to forego emotion. What you need to do is to find a simpler way of expressing your feelings. So, it is a good idea to stay away from big words that will put people off. Rather, use words that tug at your heartstrings and create images in your mind.
Have Fun With It
You can talk about an important topic and still have a lot of fun with it. Take Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, for example – it is an incredibly powerful song about a woman demanding equal treatment. At the same time, it is so much fun to sing and belt out. This is because the melodies and lyrics make it an upbeat track. So, the next time you want to tackle something that is significant but not necessarily heavy, keep in mind that there is more than one way to do it.
This article should make it easier for you to write a catchy song that also has a lot of meaning. Thus, you will be able to reach audiences’ hearts while also ensuring that they don’t stop singing your songs.
Guest Post by: Natalie Landecker
Natalie grew up in a household filled with singing and music. So, it wasn’t all that surprising when she gravitated towards the guitar at a young age and never looked back. These days, Natalie is focused on turning her passion into a career. She also loves reaching out to other music lovers and bonding over songs and instruments. Visit her at her site theguitarpal.com
Watching Kingsley blow up in the Portland music scene over the past year has been such an honor. Not only is she one hell of an entrepreneurial spirit, but she’s an intuitive songwriter, vocalist and knowledgeable musician. From experience, I know it is not easy living a double life as an artist and industry professional. From being head of marketing at Double Tee and Roseland Theater, one of the most well-respected music venues in Portland, to being on the same bill with Elise Trouw, and Sawyer and Sara Niemietz, this boss-lady is one to watch. I sat down with her to learn how she does it all.
What's it like to have to balance a full time leadership position in the industry and a rising artist career?
Some days are hell and other days it doesn't feel like work. My favorite part about my day job is that it is in the music world, every day I am doing something at my "day job" that helps build up Kingsley. I get to bounce ideas off talent buyers that have been in the biz for 15+ years and get the real scoop from them. Down side is having to work around a 9-5 schedule. Luckily my job is in the music world and they know I am trying to build my singer career and are flexible with me leaving the office as needed.
How do you stay inspired to write music? How do you avoid burnout?
I write about things that happen in my life - I am inspired everyday by the relations that I have and the things that happen in my day. I don't think I've ever gotten burnt out because my song book is my dairy and I got a lot of shit I am working out in my song book hahaha! Some might say my therapist should read my songbook hahaha! Maybeeeeeeeee, maybe not!
People say that the Portland pop music scene hasn't quite taken off yet. How do you feel about the scene and how has it affected Kingsley?
It has!! It's just not a strong scene for locals - it forces you to reach out to promoters to try to join on a bill with a pop act touring through PDX. Most people want a stripped down solo set if you aren't on a pop bill, but it's hard to showcase what you can do as a pop artist with only a guitar. I went to a shit ton of open mics with my backing track on my iPhone. Most people loved it--and some of them hated it. In the end, if you want to do pop, you gotta try hard in PDX.
Since your debut release in June, you've played so many great shows! What is next for Kingsley?
I will be releasing music viddddddsssss!!! “Vibe” should be coming out around Aug 30th and “I Am Because I Am” will come out in late September. I am also collaborating with people on new music that should be coming out later this year! I am also gearing up to go on tour in Europe Summer of 2019.
Do you have any predictions about what will happen in the next few years in terms of the industry here?
I predict the fusion of Jazz/Hip-Hop is the new genre emerging and it’s going to take TF over! Common and Robert Glasper’s collab is the first of many!
What local ladies are in your top played on Spotify? Or anyone in particular you love going to see live?
Haley Johnsen (of course), and Lenore. I’m excited to see Noah Cyrus in October at the Wonder Ballroom - probably as close to Miley as I'll get! Chelsea Culter is coming, I'd love to open for her - shes a bad B!
What is your advice for local artists trying to break out of the Portland scene?
Don't think you can do it all on your own. Find as many mentors in the scene and get advice and help! Collaborate with people that are trying to rise up too. You don't need to work with someone that is 10 steps ahead of you to have success--networking with someone that is at the same level can advance you both at the same time!
You've collaborated with a lot of different producers, most recently Volldrauf, for your cover of "Seek Bromance" by Avicii and your original song "Human." What is the importance of creating a strong varied team as a rising artist? How has working with different co-writers, producers, visual artists, etc. added to your career?
If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes the world to create a successful artist. I think having a strong team with a variety of skills makes it a hell of a lot easier to achieve this dream. I can get all that I need to create a song or album from the people I surround myself around. I love working with other people; collaboration is the best thing I've done in my career thus far. It was hard to allow room for other ideas, but the outcome is much greater than my pride. I am beyond thankful for everyone that has helped me thus far: family, friends, musicians, producers, photographers, graphic designers, bookers, and all of my fans. Without them, I could not be Kingsley.
You can join Kingsley on her journey at @itskingsleymus (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and by following her on Spotify. Stay tuned for the music video release for her single “Vibe” next month! For now, watch a live performance of her track "Might Not Make It" and listen to her music and other talented boss-ladies in our Blog playlist below.
Interview by: Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov
Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov is the founder and executive directress for #WomenCrush Music. When she’s not leading the #WCM team, she’s coaching artists on how to live their best lives via her business DIA Music Coaching and travelling the world with her hubby and chiweenie pup. She currently resides in NYC and you can follow her at @mrsbossladywcm.
The industry of pop music can perhaps be best represented as an iceberg. To the casual listener, the spectacle of it all is the whole show. Larger than life personas, bubbly music, and the single star at the center of it all. It’s a blissful, sparkling, simply fun lifestyle. But beneath the surface, there’s much more to be found.
London-born songwriter Vicky Warwick has long lived as part of the vast underground of the pop industry iceberg. As a session musician and bassist for English production team Xenomania, Warwick has garnered years of experience behind the scenes in the industry.
As a 12 year old kid in the UK, Warwick, desperate to play the drums, eventually found her niche with the bass guitar. She’s been playing ever since and, after practicing and dedicating herself to the art, was told by a music teacher that a career in the field should be highly considered. Warwick took this advice to heart, and went to music college at the age of 18. Two years into her studies, Xenomania reached out and offered her a paying job as a session musician. She was only 20 years old.
“It was such an insane grounding in the music industry,” Warwick says. “It was crazy to have a salary job and also music industry job experience. They were trying to be like the modern Motown era, big country house in England, with lots of different rooms with a writer and beat maker in every room basically. It was wild.
“At that point, I was just there as a bass player, but it was a great insight into how life might be as a writer.”
Though life as a session musician struck well with Warwick and gave her a front row seat into the inner workings of the industry, the craving for her own artistic ventures was insatiable. In addition to putting down bass for artists in the studio, Warwick also found her place as a touring musician. In 2015, she hopped on a US tour with pop sensation Charli XCX. While traveling from city to city with Charli and her bandmates, any free time found was dedicated to writing her own music. At the time though, plans for her originals were unclear.
“It takes so much time to do your own music,” Warwick says. “And that’s what I found especially touring with Charli. At that time, I was spending all of my free time writing music whenever I could. I was just kind of writing music, but didn’t know what it was for necessarily. But eventually it seemed to make sense that I should do something.”
With plenty of originals and a thirst for more, Warwick uprooted herself from London and made the move to Brooklyn, NYC. After so many years working in the UK, the difference between the industry workings there and in the US were plentiful.
“In Europe, London is the center of everything,” Warwick says. “To where in America, it’s kind of split between New York, Nashville, and LA. And there’s kind of different music going on in each city.”
Luckily for her, the scene in New York proved to be the perfect fit for her musical endeavors: “New York is so creative. I feel constantly inspired here. Everybody is going for their wildest ideas. People aren’t afraid to express themselves at all. They’re very confident and forward. There’s such a great creative community living here in Brooklyn.”
With a creative community behind her and a fresh spark of inspiration, Warwick took the next step into solidifying her legacy with a solo career in the pop field. Hence, AINSLIE was born.
Lizzy Plapinger, the woman behind the LPX moniker, has made her return with a brand new single, “Might Not Make It Home.” However, a return may not be the right word. Plapinger really never left, and she’s been busy as ever.
As co-founder of the record label Neon Gold, Plapinger has found projects to fill her spare time in the gaps of her own music as LPX and as front-woman for alt-pop duo MS MR. Neon Gold, celebrating its 10 year anniversary, has planned an extravagant celebration in New York, dubbed Neon Gold X. The celebratory event will feature performances from LPX herself, as well as from Neon Gold label-mates The Knocks, Broods, and Marina and the Diamonds, who will be making her long awaited return after the release of Froot in 2015.
Not only this, but Plapinger has taken it upon herself to put her foot forward for women in music by curating the all female Saturday lineup for All Things Go Fall Classic. The festival in Washington, DC will feature performances from Maggie Rogers, Billie Eilish, Jessie Reyez, and more (including Plapinger herself once again).
With so many projects to helm, it’s no question Plapinger has been busy. Yet in between it all, she still found time to make her own, solo return.
“Might Not Make It Home” is the lead single from her follow up EP to this year’s Bolt in the Blue. The single, co-written with Caroline Smith and Phoebe Ryan, is a monstrous return, a euphoric rock track topped with a glossy pop texture. It’s a combination that Plapinger has seemed to master. Not only has this pop rock perfection been explored on MS MR’s previous albums, by Plapinger has utilized her solo work as LPX to polish it to it’s shiniest.
Bolt in the Blue featured tracks like “Tightrope” and “Slide” that mastered this flavor, and “Might Not Make It Home” is a worthy successor. Along with the track itself, Plapinger released an accompanying music video, an 80s home video montage of LPX performing and exploring in the night streets of the city, basked in neon glow. It’s a perfect fit for the tone of the track, and totes an air of nostalgia along with it.
Though Plapinger has never really stopped giving to the world of music with her many projects at hand, LPX’s official single return is an exciting prospect. With a brand new EP on it’s way, new music is just around the corner, and it’s sure to be just as shiny, and just as punchy, as all of her work has promised.
Find LPX at both Neon Gold X in NYC on September 29th (tickets available here) as well as on the Saturday lineup of All Things Go Fall Classic in Washington, DC on October 6th (tickets for that here). Watch the brand new video for “Might Not Make It Home” below.
Article by: Brendan Swogger
Brendan Swogger is a music writer and college student in Portland, OR. He is the Creative Director for The Crush blog. You can follow him on IG and Twitter @indiealtpdx
As a vocal coach for decades, Isaac Honig, the founder of CLYOR, has noticed how common it is for young and aspiring singers to overlook the importance of their vocal health. If practice makes perfect, how could you practice too much? Well, you can, and there are some other factors that demand consideration too, especially at the earliest stages.
It’s important to remember that the habits we go over here aren’t just to make you a better singer tomorrow. Rather, they form a mentality that will ensure your voice stays reliable for the length of your career. Otherwise, you could look back later on and wish you had.
I'm not quite sure you can blame hydration for making a performance great, but a lack of hydration has broken many performances. It's easy to find out exactly how much water you should be consuming every day based on your lifestyle, age, weight, and other factors using online tools. (Here’s one from Slender Kitchen!) Being aware of what dehydrates you is important for pre-performance consumption, even multiple days in advance. And when you are on stage, have water handy!
Be Compassionate to Your Passion
What would you do if you weren't a singer? Let's both agree that we don't want to find out. That's why it is imperative to limit the amount of time you spend exerting your voice. On top of your weekly lessons—be they online, in person, or on your own—you should be practicing at least fifteen minutes and up to an hour per day depending on your progress and level. This depends on the individual, but if you are not on vocal rest, staying sharp is crucial. Otherwise, you could sound "sharp" on stage!
Consider Your Diet and Overall Health
Exercise and proper diet don't just make you look better, they make you feel and sing better too. Dairy products lead to mucus buildup; alcohol and salty foods actively dehydrate; coffee and spiciness can be throat irritants; carbonation causes gas; and icy cold drinks are constricting. Avoid all of the above.
But sometimes, you can't avoid it all. Frankly, some things just can't be sacrificed either. And unexpected dryness, irritations, or even a slight bug can come out of nowhere. We've all been there. My advice? Grab a bottle of CLYOR's Voice37 for those moments where you need a vocal booster in a pinch!
Don't Be Afraid to Rest
You want singing to be your livelihood. Maybe it already is! Which is why you shouldn't be afraid to take a break from using your voice from time to time. It avoids causing permanent damage you can't detect until later on. If you notice any discomfort or strain: stop, don't force it. Taking a three-day break from any speaking can be smart for your voice in both the short- and long-term. And when you do need to talk while on vocal rest, talk normally. Little known fact: whispering is actually worse for your voice!
Go for Better
No matter what your art, it's easy to fall into the trap of simply doing the work every day rather than figuring out the best ways to improve your skills. This is where a vocal coach is going to be hugely beneficial. As long as you're actively learning and mastering new repertoires, switching up your vocal habits to improve verbal dexterity, and work to understand the different approaches of warm ups, workouts, and repertoire, you'll get better rather than maintain your current level.
Where to Start
Looking for exciting and supportive insights and training? Of course you are! It's the only way to improve in ways you know are effective and professional.
Well, you're in luck!
Reserve your spot at August 2018's WomenCrushNYC Studios vs. Live Performance Workshop on Friday, August 17 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM for. It's hosted by The Vocal Workout, located at 580 Broadway, Suite #304.
BONUS: As a sponsor of the event, we're giving out free CLYOR to all attendees too.
If you're an aspiring female singer in the area, you don't want to pass this up. We can’t wait to see you (and hear you) there!
The team at CLYOR is passionate about the past, present, and future of singing. It's why we've developed three, chemical-free formulas to both support vocal health and heighten a singer's sound. It's also why we've cultivated a small but avid community of passionate singers on Instagram, where you'll find tips, insights, and more. Passionate about singing? Enhance your natural talent with an all-natural vocal booster at Clyor.com, and follow us at @MoreClyor to get a daily dose of inspiration, tailored towards pushing your career forward.
We all know the feeling: stomach dropping through the floor, heart racing, and the room looks just a little too bright. If you have chosen the wonderful and chaotic path to being a performer, the nerves that come along with those important gigs are unavoidable and, dare I say, important. Nerves make you focus a little harder, and play with a touch of intensity that makes the audience stop and watch. Being nervous means your performance matters to you.
For me, however, the nerves hit perhaps a little more than most. After a childhood full of performing classical music, as I approached my mid-teens, the idea of being on stage for some reason filled me with anxiety. Where I had previously felt excitement, I felt dread. The nights leading up to a performance would be restless, ironically making any practice unfocused and pointless, inevitably setting me up for failure on performance day. As the performance anxiety distracted me, my playing became more likely to go wrong, making the lead up to the next performance even more anxiety-inducing, and so on in an awful chain reaction.
Eventually, I decided performing was clearly not for me. I loved playing music, but what was the point if I could never share it with an audience? I relinquished all hopes of pursuing music, going to university to study liberal arts instead. In hindsight, I do not regret this choice at all; I think if I hadn’t taken a break from music I never would have discovered exactly how much it means to me. I started realizing this less than a year into my degree. The nagging feeling that something was missing told me to pick up my guitar and start singing quietly in the student room. Nothing can clear my mind as well as playing music does, and I had missed that process far more than I had realised. The separation forced me to recognise that it doesn’t matter if music isn’t a “viable career choice” for me; it only matters that I play whenever I want to. Once I’d restarted, I wanted to play all the time!
One night, I drunkenly pulled the guitar out in front of a couple of friends to sing a song that I had written. My friends complimented my playing, telling me I should try some local open mics. A few months later, I finally accepted my friends’ encouragement to share the music that meant so much to me. I went along to an open mic, every bone in my body shaking with nerves, my voice wobbling, everything I played a little too fast and quiet. It wasn’t quite a disastrous performance, but certainly wasn’t how I wanted my songs to debut!
After that night, the question was: what next? I knew I was struggling with crushing performance anxiety bad enough to make performances stressful and unenjoyable; but I also knew I simply needed to perform in order to share my music. In London, I signed up for a busking competition that involved performing to the passing public almost every day for two weeks. To prepare, I immediately got to Googling, and it turns out: performance anxiety is much more common than you might think! Adele once said in an interview with Rolling Stone that she is “scared of audiences,” and supposedly turned down a headline slot at Glastonbury because of her stage fright. Lorde also is “totally reduced by nerves…completely crushed by feelings of all kinds.” Ringo Starr, despite decades of fame and performing, openly suffers with performance anxiety constantly: “There have been times that I just wanted to go back to bed as I just get so nervous.” Suddenly, my own performance anxiety didn’t feel so isolating. Still, my fears needed to be faced, and I needed to figure out how best to do this for myself.
I have found a couple of ways to get past the anxiety. Now, although still nerve-wracking, performances are completely doable. Here was what worked for me:
First, reflect on what it is that is making you so anxious about performing. For me, it came down to perfectionism. If I was in front of an audience, I wanted to play every note perfectly. Realistically, that wasn’t going to happen. Not every note of every performance I ever did was going to be beautiful. I had to retrain my thinking to remind myself that there is room for mistakes, or even just an average performance. I had to practice just giving myself a break!
Visualization techniques have helped me the most, and work terrifically for retraining your mind. You can do research to see what might work for you, but here is a rundown of my process: Whenever I find myself getting worked up about a performance, I imagine myself walking up in front of the audience. I question what might go wrong and why I’m getting myself worked up about it. For instance, I might trip or I might forget the words. Then I question what would happen if these things do occur: I trip, we laugh, I play anyway. I forget the words, I maybe hum a little section until the chorus, I laugh, I play anyway. Neither of these unlikely scenarios would be the end of the world--in fact, these things have happened to me and, as you can see, the world didn’t end.
Next, I imagine walking up in front of the audience and playing at my very best. I think of some of my favorite performers that I have seen live, and remind myself that they probably also get nervous, and mess up, and I think they’re amazing anyway. It’s their music I love, I don’t care if they’re perfect. I try to apply that same mindset toward myself.
Here are some more practical tips that helped me the most:
3) If you’re a big coffee drinker, like me, try just having decaf on performance days. The caffeine speeds everything up, including anxiety!
4) Drink plenty of water the day of, but then don’t drink too much just before the actual performance. I used to down gallons of water before a show, then get worried about needing a wee half way through! It actually takes about four hours for any water you drink to reach your vocal chords, so a few sips of water before going on stage are enough.
5) Take some deep breaths, right into your belly. After just ten seconds doing this, you’ll feel a difference.
6) If you’re very nervous, play to a light, or a brick on the wall that you can see behind your audience. Focus all your energy on playing to this one unimportant object and forget the people in front of it.
7) Just do it. The more you get up there and play, the less scary it will feel. Play to your friends, play to your family, play to random passers-by, until you can just do it. Busking is great for this. Everyone walking past is gone before you know it, so if you mess up you’ll never see them again anyway.
Finally, 8) know that no one remembers the bad performances.
No one cares if you mess up. Humans are generally quite nice creatures. We stop and listen and maybe smile if we like what you’re doing. If you’re excellent, then we remember you! If not, we just carry on, and even the worst performances are usually forgotten within the week. So why waste time worrying about being bad when you can just focus your energy on being brilliant?
About the Author
Rosie Ash is a busker from London, England. Having started out as a multi-instrumentalist, she now travels around the UK as a singer-songwriter, sharing her music with anyone who is willing listen. You can follow her @RosieAshMusic on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Listen to some of her songs and covers here: https://soundcloud.com/annaroseash
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