Hello! The day I published the review of PHAVORS debut EP, I also received a message on Twitter asking if I was open to review another artist’s recent release. Christian rapper Paul Hernandez told me… More
This series is suppose to be about my favorite music producers, people who basically inspired me to study become one in college ten years ago. What I didn’t plan on was second guessing myself on whether or not Linda Perry is a producer. I knew she was a songwriter and musician in her own right, but I wasn’t so sure about the other part. Just before I started writing this post, I finally broke down and checked online to see if she is and everything says she is in face a producer.
Although I wanted everyone to be an established producer in these posts, I felt that in the end, it really didn’t matter if she was or wasn’t. I mostly knew her as a songwriter to artists such as P!nk and Christina Aguilera.
I didn’t write my first song until probably fifth grade, I didn’t even keep it because the words just kind of came at me all of a sudden and I wrote them on a small piece of paper. Some people would think they were poems, but I always found myself correcting everyone that they were songs, but then they would come back and ask if I had any music with it, and I’d say no. As most songwriters, they like to come up with the melody and music before figuring out the lyrics. I was the total opposite, but only by default, I can’t play any instruments and never really wanted to, so maybe they are poems after all!
For most of my middle school years, I was writing songs about what was feeling and going through during my preteen years. I still have folders upon folders of songs I wrote in classes and even at home too. I hardly ever look through them even though I want to keep them safe for later. I don’t quite know what or why I would want to do that because I was more abstract in my words back then; I hardly ever made a song specifically for one person and I definitely never put the person’s name I had in my mind while coming up with the lyrics. I was smart that way I guess!
I remember the first time I ever listened to “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. I always wished I could be that brave to release all of my emotions into creating something as wonderful as that song. I watched a documentary where Linda was discussing when she worked with her on second album “Stripped” back in 2002, and how she was teaching her how to let go and give herself up to the world and exposing feelings that we all feel at one point or another, and that obviously meant a lot to me in my teen years, leading up to high school. By the time, I became a freshman, I think I stopped writing them, and turned my attention to books. The last one I ever wrote was published on my old blog at the end of 2009 I think.
I do tend to like a person’s music better if they are the lead songwriter. I generally love what Linda has created for other artists, especially female singers. I have a slight obsession with singer-songwriters like Natasha Bedingfield, Halsey, Banks, Phoebe Ryan, Alessia Cara, Charlie Puth and Julia Michaels because I know they all have written songs. I hope one day I can help make my nephew understand why it’s important to start writing in a different platform; whether it’s blogging, bullet journaling, poetry, or songwriting. It’s a important habit to keep.
Have you ever written a song before? If you have, do you remember any specifics about the first one you wrote? Did you keep it?
So, a couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through Twitter and I don’t really follow a lot of writing accounts, although I have days were I want to go on a follow spree but I have to stop myself in my thoughts because I hardly saw this in the chaos of my timeline! The one account I do follow is called Magic Realism Bot. When I first started reading the various prompts, I realized there are a lot of fantasy and sci-fi but mid-2019, they started asking for other subject suggestions and I think that was my main reason why I haven’t unfollowed in the last few months or so!
After we left for my nephew’s party on the 13th, I fell asleep and when I got up I saw this writing prompt and was immediately inspired to write, but I chose to wait it out a bit to collect my mind because honestly I was fully awake when I saw it. Before I start telling you my story, I want to mention that I haven’t written anything since Christmas so I hope you can forgive me for the many, many mistakes you’ll probably see below. I also hope you enjoy it as well!
And now, here is the prompt:
“You wake up and realize you have turned into Lord Byron.”
Setting is Greece in 1824, Byron is very sick and slowly dying; he’s laying in a makeshift bed in his army’s camp alone. He is hallucinating after the bloodletting operations went unsuccessful for the second time.
“Where–where am I?”
“I should be with my mates.. on the grassy lands and making plans to attack our enemies.”
The hero, poet, soldier, womanizer is under strict orders to stay in his tent by his doctors. He thought the need to pray at first his illness appeared but he feared that God wouldn’t listen to his selfish cries. As sweat continued to pull down across his face and pain in his stomach became too much to ignore as time went on, he was without a clock or any of his exclusive pleasures to hide away from the shame inside. The longer the blood sat in his body, the more poison would spread and race to his heart. It would be its final resting place to infect and then he would be at peace, or at least he hoped he would.
Before this was to happen, he stirred in his bed covered in the now soaked blankets to keep warm, and closed his eyes reluctantly and fell into a deep sleep. He had hoped it wouldn’t be his last.
Suddenly the faint sounds of children giggling around him. A little girl playing with a long red ribbon, she’s running away from him with a smile across her face. “Wait, come back Augusta! I need you!” he shouted in his empty room. He never opened his eyes, hoping the girl would return if she knew he was asleep, instead the space became quiet again.
Bryon shifted in his bed again, this time turning on his left side, away from the slightly open flap of the tent and away from the curious eyes that would sometimes pear inside to see the non-flamboyant man withering in hell. Unbeknownst himself, he lifted his left arm to make room for the rest of his body and splitting the fresh stitches in the corner of his elbow. He was already experiencing strong pains, one more to add to the endless lists didn’t bother him.
“Oh yes, my Lord.” a seductive voice of an unknown woman appeared in the opposite corner. She was alone with him, enjoying each other’s company very much. A smirk emerged on his face in front of the vivid mirror in front of them. George saw himself in a glance and saw himself kissing a brunette maiden. He liked every hue as long as he was in control, that’s all he asked in their time together. This woman was different though. He knew she was adventurous but nothing could prepare him for the game she wanted to play.
“How about we take this off? Hmm?” He quietly spoke into her ear, and the slight nod reassured he could do anything he wanted with her.
She stood from the chair of the desk and furiously pulled his hands to her back but he continued the kissing on her neck. His fingers worked the way down the tight corset in her middle section of her body. After unlacing the last string away from the rough exterior, he tossed it to the floor. Now she was able to undress by herself now and this meant his hands could explore and wander around her body freely. Once every last garment was off, she turned attention back to him, but something was wrong.
A minute ago, the man was young and incredibly healthy. Now she stood in front of him in disgust. He looked as though they had just finished having sex as he was sweaty but the major difference was he looked miserable. He tried his best to keep standing but a sharp pain his stomach only grew worse and he couldn’t control his rage like she was the cause of it.
She wasn’t though.
The memory of having slept with Mary Shelley stayed playing over and over in his thoughts even after their little affair ended several years before. He remembered every feature, as she was quite the beauty back then as was he at the time too. He knew she was the woman in front of him. He looked down at his weakling body and thought of their ghost stories they read at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland. Could she picture him as her monster? Is this how she created him? Using the body of an worthless man like him right now?
As he tried to approach her one last time, the image of her naked body and the gold rimmed mirror on the wall behind her began fading away. The more steps he made, the quicker the reverie collapsed on itself. Colors of Mary ran through each other and created another landscape. This time the memories were harder to ignore because now he was in a field. He tried to focus on the ground and wondered if he was standing in the middle of a battlefield. The only thing that tore away from this notion was the piercing cry of a child. George squat down but this time not from the lingering pain he suffered.
The child was still screaming, but he had trouble concertating on the source behind it. And then, he yelled out, “Ada!” hoping that if it was in fact Ada in trouble, she would cry out for him again.
“Papa!” Ada returned the signal. The picture of his little girl flourished inside of him. He ran towards the direction she appeared to be in; all the while even more memories and of course overwhelming regrets sat inside his heart. He knew he had to save her. He tried to run faster but he would run out of breath and was forced to stop in his tracks. Ada never stopped shouting for him, nor did he in trying to catch up to her.
After running for a couple minutes, he saw a small child with lightly brown curls and dressed in the simplest dress. The ribbon in his first vision was attached to her hair in a beautiful bow and as he walked towards her, he soon realized this was not what it seemed at all.
He knew she was going to vanish like Mary had in the last flash of torture, this time he wouldn’t let it happen without speaking to her one last time.
“Ada!” Byron debating to walk closer to her, worrying that it would speed up the dreamscape again. “Come here sweetheart. Come over to me please.” He reached his arms out to her but she didn’t budge.
“Why didn’t you love me, Papa?” She spoke to him, never breaking eye contact with him. He was trapped in her gaze and it wasn’t like the moment he had Mary, as that was pure pleasure to him. This was a burden he longed to forget when he was alone.
“I do love you, my darling daughter.” Byron said to her as he fell to his knees. “You are mine. You always will be…” The pain in his body raptured inside and it was greater than any pain he experienced before. He just couldn’t tell if it was his heart braking or the infection finally hitting its destination, either way he knew his heart was dying.
“I love you Papa!” Ada said with a small wave and then suddenly the look on her face turned to black and Byron snapped out of his dreams. He grunted as he shot up in his bed and tried to turn away to the large bottle of bourbon and spilled out of the bed and landed hard on the dead grass underneath him.
He knew this was the end but he was angry at himself and the memories.
He never got to tell his daughter how much he loved her too. Even though he was obsessed with his booze, war and women. Nothing could take away the love he felt for his sweet daughter. Tears flew down his cheeks along with the sweat that never stopped when he fell down. He was in pain, emotionally, mentally, and physically. He hoped to live to write to Ada about how much she meant to him truly but it wasn’t to be.
George growled into the Earth, and spoke out loud for the last time. “…I love you…”
What do you think of this story?
Now I know it’s the first day of July, but since I added another week into my regular schedule, I thought posting the monthly playlist now would work out perfectly for me!
Since the death of George Floyd and the beginning of Black Lives Matter protests happening all over the world, a lot of musicians have been taking out their emotions into their music. For the most part, I have actually fallen in love with quite a bit lately. There were two specific tracks that were released earlier in the month. The first being “ROCKSTAR” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch. They remixed it for the BLM movement and what I really enjoyed about it was the fact that music wasn’t too loud, so you were forced to hear the lyrics from start to end. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of this but I thought it was just perfect!
The next song is “Love Is Gone” by G-Eazy. This one was a little bit more political forward compared to the other, but like with “ROCKSTAR” the music itself wasn’t as prominent as I would have liked on any other day. Gerald is speaking a lot of truths–actually every single song I listened to, had a lot of truths about our past and present, and whether we in fact deserve peace. I didn’t think he could sing, until about a month ago! When I say, it surprised me, it did. If you listen to his brand new album “Something’s Strange Here” you’ll find out that he has a pretty good singing voice. For those of you who have listened to it, please list your favorites in the comments.
Anyways, those are the only songs I have liked since everything began and I’m sure by the time this post goes live, there will be even more coming out and you know I’ve been adding them into my Spotify playlist.
Here are my Top 20 songs I enjoyed in the month of June!
Take Care Of You by Ella Henderson
Footprints On The Moon by Gabby Barrett
Dust and Bone by Syd Duran
I Love You’s by Hailee Steinfeld
OMG by Camila Cabello featuring Quavo
Martyr Of The Free World by Epica
Sleepwalking by DIAMANTE
Secrets by Written By Wolves
Burning Bridges by Delain
Not That Beautiful by Papa Roach
X by Jonas Brothers featuring KAROL G
Ballad of Terrasen by Victoria Carbol
You Should See Me In A Crown by Halocene
Cut The Cord by Shinedown
Like You’ll Never See Me Again by Alicia Keys
I Take What I Want by Unions
Have You Ever Brandy
I See Fire by Feuerschwanz
Show Stopper by Danity Kane
Revangels by Akoma
Towards the middle of the month, I had a strong urge to get back into one of my favorite genres ever: symphonic metal. The Dutch band Epica are working on their eighth record, and they have been posting short studio vlogs on YouTube. One afternoon I was so bored that I literally watched all five videos and ended up finding a full recording of a concert they did back in 2015, which is after they had released “The Quantum Enigma” and I have to say, it is such a spectacular album and one of my all-time favorite albums. Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping up with the band itself so when I saw they were on album #8, I was a bit shocked but excited at the same time!
After spending an hour and half listening to nothing but Epica, I made another playlist on Spotify for my favorite songs in the genre itself. I included a lot of albums I’ve listened in the past and picked out some tracks from other bands that I loved but didn’t really care for the whole album too! I’m pretty sure the playlist is over 200 songs by now! I’m not sharing it publicly though – it’s my own personal stash of music to enjoy by myself.
What were your listening to in June?
It has been an awful long time since I’ve done an album/EP review; even longer time since I’ve been asked to do it as well!
Back in mid-May, I was sent a message on my Instagram page from a duo called Phavors. At the time, they were just about to release an EP called “Petals” and wondered if I could write a review of it on my blog. They are my first group to be based in the U.S. to ask for my services, and even though I feel more comfortable talking about international music, I thought it would be fun for not only me, but for my audience too!
So, when the band sent me their pitch and link to the tracks included on the EP. They also included that they sound like Bon Iver but have elements of Billie Eilish, which is what sold me. I’m not a huge fan of folk music, even though I love singer-songwriters Dido, Celtic Woman, Sarah McLachlan, and The Civil Wars; I’m still pretty picky when it comes to the genre as a whole. However, I chose to look beyond that and focus my attention to Philip and Kayla’s work. I hadn’t listened to anything before I went to write this review, it’s just what I like to do for things such as this, that way I’m not overthinking my words as the music flowing in and out of my mini speaker.
The EP itself only comes with four songs, and the first happens to be the title track “Petals.” My first thought was how beautiful it was, the light sound of the acoustic guitar with Kayla’s soft vocals, were really nice. It reminded me of waking up early and wanting something soft and mellow to begin the day on the right foot. It’s a soothing song that suddenly made me really calm inside. It’s the perfect way to begin a short musical journey. And then we move onto, “Waste Time” and I’m not going to lie, I wanted to use the title as a pun, but I didn’t. I was good, but boy! It would’ve been perfect. One thing I liked about this, was we were finally able to hear Philip’s voice. He is definitely quieter than Kayla. I really liked the slight boop of bass in the beginning, it made me think the general sound would be a little different compared to the first and it is different. I had the same vibes I experienced in the previous, but the tempo is more upbeat and happier.
Third is “Water Is Still” and I was actually looking forward to this one. I had hoped it would sound calm; almost like you should expect to hear it at a spa. In a way, it was exactly how I hoped it would be, but thanks to the addition of electric guitars to the airy beat in the background it gave it a nice little change. It was the perfect instrumental for me. I was so happy to hear something like this, where there’s no vocals at all. It’s just a nice collection of soothing sounds together. Lastly, we have “Home” and to hear Kayla and Philip’s soft words come into focus and together was wonderful, but towards the end of it, everything grows louder and I really liked it.
I was genuinely surprised by this. There were moments when I thought of them sounding like artist Banks and British band London Grammar in a way, like the second track gave me a strong Banks vibe with Kayla’s cool voice, but the whole thing had a London Grammar type of flare. I find it a bit odd that I was half expecting everything to sound a bit like Dido, but they ended up sounding more modern, almost new age type of music that I am learning to fall in love with in the last few years. After I finished listening, I started searching on my Spotify playlists for more comforting type of music like Phavors. After what’s been going on with the world lately, I needed to escape my reality a little longer.
Have you heard of Phavors yet? If you have, do you have a favorite song? What were your thoughts on their new EP too?
For this week, the next music producer is going to be Scott Storch. Scott has always been at the top of my list of best composers and definitely the inspiration for this series. Dr. Dre, Rick Rubin, Timbaland, Scott and Joost van der Breok were the five I originally wanted to discuss for the entire summer but I didn’t think I would have enough material so I made a last minute decision to add a few more people to the list and that was the end of it.
Despite my love of him being a producer, I fell in love with his way to create a killer beat. A lot of people tend to forget that a producer are also the ones making the actual music too! Back when the network VH1 use to air those episodes of The Lives of Rich and Famous. Scott was selected to be featured in one of them and he gave everyone a sneak peak into the way he came up with three of the biggest songs in 2003-04. He would play snippets of 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” and “Just A Little Bit” and Fat Joe’s “Lean Back”. I always found it hilarious that while both of these rappers were feuding with each other, they were working with the same person who was helping them their music! Anyways, once I figured out how these songs were made, I was floored! I knew both “Candy Shop” and “Just A Little Bit” sounded similar, but I didn’t know how to explain what I was hearing; everybody would have thought I was overly obsessed because at that time I was a huge fun of 50 Cent.
Unfortunately, Scott sort of disappeared from the music world for a while. I think he finally came back out of the shadows in 2014 or sometime after that. I know he had produced songs for Fat Joe in the last year and recently released a brand new song helping carry out the reggaetón flavor, that I definitely enjoy hearing, in the summertime. The track is called “Fuego Del Calor” and it features Ozuna and Tyga. I honestly thought I wouldn’t really enjoy it, because when I want to listen to that type of music, I’d rather have someone who knows that genre in and out, and can make it sound completely different than the others on the radio. So, it was a surprise that I actually enjoyed the whole thing!
Do you know any Scott Storch albums he’s worked on in the past? What are your favorite songs ever?