“Understand”

I recorded this demo three years ago (!) and stumbled across it recently going through old files. Today seems like the right day to post it. I hope it resonates with anyone who participates in femininity and is struggling to get unstuck. I was trying to leave a job at the time, but now that I’ve rediscovered this I find myself thinking about it (the third verse especially) in a lot of contexts. (It feels a little strange to say that when I wrote it, but this feels much more to me like something I found than something I made.)

I’m throwing it onto Brooklyn Demos, because it is one, and I think it’s a nice companion to “Call Him Out” afterwards. Woo, empowerment songs!

 

New title, new cover!

Now that the EP’s been out a while and I’ve had a chance to hear how it gels, I’ve given it a new title and cover! I think this says a bit more about what’s inside 🙂

(fwiw, this means the old link […./season-one] won’t work. This is the thing!)

“Season One” (EP) is live!

[EDIT 10/18/2016: I’ve renamed the album and given it a new cover! An image of the old cover and reasoning is below; here are the new deets.]

Okay! I’ve been teasing this for a long time, and here it finally is: the first batch of songs from this year’s recording sessions. I… I have an EP!

Season One bigger.jpeg

There’s a lot I want to say about this, but in the interests of putting the darn thing online rather than sitting on it any longer, I’m going to wait on that. (I’m also thinking of saving the long writeups I usually do about each song for my Patreon supporters, once I set that up. Yeah! More big things!) In the meantime, here’s the little blurb from the bandcamp page:

Five of my favourites from the last few years. Are you a consent champ or a huge creep? Crazy about people – not into people at all – maybe just into birds? There’s a song here for you!

dedicated to Captain Awkward, for teaching me something worth saying

with deep thanks to Jason, Cooper, Kali, Kaley, Susan, Gabrielle, Tom Cunningham & the Manhattan Choral Ensemble, and everyone else who made life in New York such a growing experience,
my parents,
and Carmen, who told me to release this.

For real. Thank you all so much. Because of your support and encouragement, I’m treating this as a Real Thing much sooner than I might have otherwise. I could have just called this Toronto Demos (I was flirting with “tiyodamoz”, because… T.O. demos?), in line with my earlier Brooklyn Demos. But I was talking this over with my dear friend (& Toronto indie darling) Carmen Elle, and she said, “I dunno. Five self-released songs… that sounds to me like an EP. If you’re the one releasing them, you get to decide whether they’re demos or the real thing. And I encourage you to think of yourself as making the real thing.”

It took a lot of internal struggle, but that’s what I’m doing. I’d still like to make fancier studio recordings of some of these down the line, but this is what I’ve got right now. I’ve already got Seasons Two and Three planned out – and maybe by the time they’re out, I’ll be in a position to take my (and your) favourites from these EPs and put together a killer full-length.

That’s the plan. For now, enjoy these five!

<3,
Arden

“All Summer Song” (Beach Boys cover)

Here’s a treat to tide you-all over while I continue working up recordings of my own stuff: a Beach Boys cover with me on all the vocal and instrumental parts. I had a lot of fun making this, and I hope you enjoy it!

I put this together at the beginning of the summer, partly as an exercise and partly as a present for my friend Jason. Today seems like a good day to share it with you all: “We’ve been having fun all summer long,” the lyrics run, “Won’t be long till summertime is through!” Too true. I don’t know about where you are, but the weather is definitely turning in Toronto. Let’s enjoy these last few summer weeks!

xo
Arden

—Oh: a note on process! I made a lot of Beach Boys and Beatles multitracks like this at university (as I’m sure my roommates remember all too well). It was a great exercise: recording every single line of these brilliant arrangements taught me a lot about writing harmony parts. For the Beach Boys songs, I worked from the excellent transcriptions an LA musician named Alan Deane very generously prepared and shared for free on his website. Sadly, Deane died a number of years ago in a bicycle accident, and his PDFs are no longer available online. I was lucky enough to download his files before his sites went down, but I mourn their loss to the greater public. For Beatles fans, I recommend The Beatles – Complete Scores – an invaluable resource.

 

 

New Song: “Old Blue World” (2016 #MenkenMixtape)

Been a while! I’m excited to get things moving again with a new song I’m proud of. It’s my submission to this year’s #MenkenMixtape challenge: “Old Blue World”, a minor-key adaptation of “A Whole New World” (from Disney’s Aladdin) sung from the perspective of a powerless God looking down helplessly at the Earth we’ve ruined.

The basic idea of the #MenkenMixtape challenge is to take a song by Alan Menken (composer of, among others, Little Shop of HorrorsThe Little MermaidBeauty and the Beast, and Aladdin) and do… something with it! (The guidelines are pretty open.)

I was invited to participate in this contest by a lovely out-of-the-blue email from a fan who’d seen me play “Chaplin Had Gagmen” two years ago with the Bushwick Book Club. I was so touched — he even quoted his favourite lyrics back at me — and intrigued by the challenge. I like writing to a prompt; it’s the same reason I found the BBC so stimulating. And I liked the idea of playing with a song we’re all so familiar with.

Literally my first thought when I read the challenge’s instructions was, “Wouldn’t it be funny to do a sad rewrite of “A Whole New World”, called something like… “Old Ruined World”, in which God looks down helplessly at the world we’ve trashed?” I figured I’d come up with something less extreme, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.* So I ran with it! And I think going with extreme paid off.

I’m proud of a lot of things here — the arrangement, the performances, the little twists on original lyrics, even the ecological message — and I hope you dig it. Wish me luck!

*Also, since Disney movies played a much smaller role in my childhood than in many people’s, “A Whole New World” is one of the few Alan Menken songs that I know really well. It doesn’t hurt that it has such a neat internal-rhyme scheme, which was great fun to play within.

Old Blue World
I created the world,
Shining, shimmering, splendid;
Till the damage you men did,
This whole Earth was paradise.
Then I opened your eyes,
Set you loose on my Eden,
Let your hunger and greed in,
And the planet paid the price:

My old blue world!
This gorgeous Earth I made for you!
Now it’s a garbage heap —
I watch and weep
So helplessly from heaven…
My old blue world,
That used to be so whole and new!
Now it’s an open grave,
A broken slave,
And I can’t save this old blue world from you…

Unbelievable sights,
Irreplaceable fauna,
But y’all just take what you wanna,
And you never mind the means.
I look down from the sky,
Weak from lack of believers,
Watching you pull the levers
Of your suicide machines!

My old blue world…
And still there’s nothing I can do!
I made the sky and sea,
This galaxy,
But I can’t free this old blue world from you…

If I had the strength, I’d start again,
Another Earth, without the men!
A whole new world —
But this time, I’d stop on Day Five!
No humans anywhere —
This time I’d spare
The Earth from all you do!
No chance in hell I’d share my whole new world with you…
If I could only start this old blue world anew.

Show Report: “Something Real” Launch Party!

something_real

Last Saturday, something really cool happened! It all began last summer, when bad-ass YA novelist Heather Demetrios came to visit the Bushwick Book Club’s Phantom Tollbooth show. She had a book of her own launching in February, and wheels started to turn in her head. Soon she reached out to the BBClub, and before we knew it, five of us had been tapped to write new songs based on Something Real and play them at her launch party last weekend.

I had a blast — I’d enjoyed my advance copy of Something Real very much (funny, dark, very involving), and it was great to meet Heather and hear what my fellow BBCers had come up with.

There’s a video of me playing my song, which *gulp* I guess I should post here. I look like a super dork to myself, but the audience keeps laughing, so…I guess it was okay? It’s sung from the perspective of the protagonist, Chloe, about Patrick Sheldon, the dreamiest boy a girl could hope to crush on. (Lyrics below.)

Actually, I’m really proud of how well this one went over. Some songs I’m really confident about, but this wasn’t one of them. I was nervous about it right up until Saturday afternoon, when my awesome music-director housemate volunteered to coach me. (This is the same one, btw, who encouraged me to finish “Professor Arden”, so — I have a lot to be grateful for.)

But it went over like gangbusters! Heather really liked it, which thrills me — I’m proud I could capture her characters in a way she recognized. (I was very scrupulous: every single detail about him in the song is almost verbatim from the book.) The song even got a nice notice in this eyewitness account of the launch party by a YA devotee. Yay!

I’m thinking about making a recording, but in the meantime, enjoy the video!

wantwantwant (Patrick Sheldon)

There’s a word that I’m afraid of,
Starts with “l-” and ends with “-ove”,
And a boy who drives me wild
Who sits in back of me in gov;
Oh, I say that I don’t like him,
But I know I’m in denial,
‘Cause I get so shaky every time
He smiles that crooked smile;
— I wantwantwantwant him…
— Patrick Sheldon, have you seen him (!) —

Walking down the hallways
With his hands deep in his pockets,
With his long hair in his eyes,
And such direction in his walk, it’s
Almost more than I can take —
The patchy jeans, the thrift store shirts! —
My whole body starts to shake,
I want that boy so much it hurts!
— I wantwantwantwant him…
— Have you seen him — have you —

Can you picture me with Pat-
With Patrick Sheldon?
Oh god, just even saying that
Starts my heart meltin’!
…I have this dream, where he talks to me ‘bout 1984
Then takes me in his arms, and whispers, “Chloe, I want more”…

…But there’s not much sense in dreaming dreams
That never can come true,
‘Cause even if he said he wants me
(Which I’m sure he’ll never do),
Still, we come from different cultures,
And he’d never understand
About the cameras, and the Vultures,
And how everything’s pre-planned,
And even if he tried to join me,
I won’t let them lay a hand
On his…beautiful…emo-punk…anarchist…hipster…head;
— God, I wantwantwantwant him…
— Patrick Sheldon, have you seen that boy?!

2013 Christmas Single: “I Want An iPhone (Christmas Wish)” b/w “Professor Arden”

Happy holidays, everyone! Here’s my gift to you: an old-fashioned Christmas single.

The A-side is “I Want An iPhone (Christmas Wish)”. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll recognize this one — I posted a demo of it last January. My Garageband-fu has come so far since then! I’m especially proud of the dancey drum rhythm that plays at the beginning and under the choruses.

The B-side is “Professor Arden”, a strange little song about how I’m really pedantic and correct everyone’s grammar. I…I don’t really know where this one came from.

I was listening recently to Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter 3, which has songs on it called “Mr. Carter” and “Dr. Carter”, and I guess maybe that’s what prompted the title? Some credit (or blame) goes to my housemate Kaley, who, when I sang her the first verse, said, “You should keep writing this song. And the second verse needs to about how you correct everyone’s grammar.” So I did, and it was.

I bet she regrets that now, though, because since they heard the finished song, all my housemates keep involuntarily muttering “Here’s Professor Arden, come to lay shit down…” and then cursing me and this obnoxious song.

Lyrics after the jump. Continue reading