2016 – Portrait of the Artist

I have an annual tradition where toward the end of the year I deep clean my apartment and purge everything I don’t use.  Year after year I slowly work myself toward being a minimalist.

If you come across an item you’re not sure about while you’re in the process of decluttering there is a three-question system you use:

  1. Do you actively use it?
  2. Do you need it?
  3. Do you love it?

I’ve been doing this for a while, so most things need two or more yeses to stay.

This year what struck me as I started cleaning out my ever-dwindling cabinets is that they are not full of “things” anymore. They are full of the people I used to be, or people I wish I was.

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kat downs

My Music Education Project

Truth:  Even though I’ve been a musician my whole life, I don’t listen to a lot of music.  Never have. Mostly because I always have music playing in my head, so sometimes I really can’t because it sounds like two radios playing at once.  Yuck.

In school, I was trained in Classical music.  The history of it, where it came from, how it evolved, branched out, church vs. secular and all that… but I never studied rock music.  Or really any modern music outside of the “played-by-a-symphony” area.  Mainly because I never planned on being a rock musician.  Funny how that worked out.  (Now I know why I felt like I never quite fit in.  Haha – retrospect is awesome. )

So, recently I decided that I wanted to educate myself since this is my career and all, so I poked around online and from several different places put together a list of the 100 “greatest albums of all time” that I want to listen to before my birthday – which is September 17th, by the way.  Gifts are always welcome.  🙂

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Sit Kitty Sit

How to Play to an Empty Room

It happens more often than you might think.  Especially when you’re playing in a brand new city.  Maybe they didn’t book a local band, or maybe they cancelled at the last second.  Maybe you’re playing on a Monday, or the venue down the street has a huge sold out show.  Or maybe you only got the gig about a day ago. Or the venue forgot you were coming, or…or…or…

At times during an interview, or when I’m chatting with someone I’ll get the question “what’s your one piece of advice for musicians just starting out?”

It’s a legit question.  Typically I’ve spouted some kind of “do it because you love it” or “just don’t quit” type comments, which are kind of lame pieces of advice, but now I finally feel like I have a legit answer. What’s my piece of advice for musicians starting out?

“Learn how to play to an empty room”
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Mike Thompson

An Interview with Mike Thompson of Sit Kitty Sit

I believe there is no way you can ever really know someone all the way. They will always do something you didn’t expect, say something you never saw coming, make a choice that shocks you. Well, eventually they will.

Now, I feel like I know this guy. But in most interviews we get these days people tend to ask same-ish questions. When did you start playing drums? How did you develop your sound? Who are your musical heroes?

But for me, who you ARE shapes the art you make even more than who you listen to. So I decided to interview my Musical-Soul-Mate myself and let him shock me. And he did. Enjoy.

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At the SKS Studio

Life, The Universe, and Time Management

The Virgo is trying something new this month.

I began by actually sitting down and writing out my job description.  I included all the tasks I own from the most obvious (Create Music) to the most mundane (Prepare food for the week).   I also made sure I included all the stuff I always WANT to do, but feel like I don’t ever have enough time to do (Creative Writing,  Arts ‘n Crafts – because who else is going to make hand crafted decoder rings and SKS buttons?).

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Dear Music,

Dear Music,

It has been you and me as long as I can remember.  I remember you singing me to sleep inside my head while I sucked on my blanket, and whispering to me while I tinkered on my Mom’s piano, and hypnotizing me with the sound of the church choir.  I remember the first few times you made my body vibrate in that way you do when that chord progression is *just* right (chills!).  Anything I picked up you made it possible for me to play.  Any tune you sent I could immediately sing.  You and I walking together is so natural that I never gave it a second thought.  I thought everyone was like this.

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