Friday, June 22, 2012

Director In The Sky


We started small, taking tentative little steps forward, dipping our toes in the water, making sure the temperature felt o.k. While we busied ourselves with band practices and local performances, my dad kept an eye out for opportunities outside of our small town. He never tried to play the part of "super manager-dad", the character you hear about who paces back and forth in the kitchen in his sweat pants, cigarette dangling from his lips, cell phone tucked between his shoulder and earlobe. He simply loved us. We told him the dream we held for ourselves, deep in our hearts as starry eyed pre-teens, and he listened. 

He quickly located a music conference in Los Angeles called "Taxi", a company that takes independent writers' songs and "supposedly" finds placement for them in movies and video games etc… He called the conference an opportunity. Dia and I called it…something else, but regardless, my father never failed to drill home the reasons why we so desperately needed to attend these events, "You never know who you'll meet…"

 Dia and I enjoyed ourselves. We met a few friends, developed a crush or two on a few young fellow songwriters, and didn't take much of what any of the "industry experts" said too seriously. That is to say, until we attended the last panel of the event which consisted of all the songwriters bringing along their little demo cds to the show to be judged. We shyly handed our demo up to the intimidating panel of judges. Four "professionals" shared the judgement duties in order to comb through the anxious crowd quicker. We ended up with a pleasant looking woman. "She won't be too hard on us" I whispered to Dia before we stepped up to the plate. She smiled down at us, popped on her cd player's headphones, and proceeded to listen to our masterpiece with a totally blank expression. Dia and I squeezed each other's palms and shared a quick nervous glance. 

After about 30 seconds into the track, she set the headphones down and gave us her two cents, which we didn't quite know to accept as bad news or good news. "I don't know if it's just because I've been listening to really bad music all afternoon…but I think this is really great!" My dad pounced on the opportunity to go for the hard close of his sales pitch. He reiterated all of the details of our short history as a huge local hit, buttering up some of the details for effect. She handed us our cd back. My dad gave her our card. He shuffled Dia and I out of the conference room. Once we passed through the double doors, he leaned in between us with a glimmer in his eyes, "She's the one! She's the reason we came!"

I know you've all heard the advice: "It's all about the connections". I've heard this so many times, my stomach churns on cue when I hear the phrase. So please, save yourself from hurling when I say, "It's all about connections!" That being said, I'm sorry to explain further that this advice sort of turns out to be fruitless at best. 

You see, you can't go out yourself and find these so-called "connections". They find YOU.

Just like my dad said, she did call as if prompted by some mighty director watching the scene from the clouds above shouting to his production assistants, "O.K. They've just unpacked their bags, and they are so exhausted. Ring telephone NOW!" That call marked the beginning of an adventure which included in no particular order, a real demo cd complete with real studio musicians, a meeting with a major record label (woohoo!), professional photos, a signed management deal. A whirlwind of a journey which ended up being the first of many false starts. Success is never an easy road. Wish I could have yelled up to that director in the sky, "Come on, man! Throw us a bone, already!" to which he would have shouted back in fury, "What in the Hell do you think that just was?!"


Well, where's the "calm before the storm you mentioned in your previous blog?" you ask. 

A scene took place. A small, biting blip in my memory. Before the new manager lady would take on Dia and I as her clients, she flew out to Utah to watch an intimate performance of "Jade Harbor". She shook her head after the show. "The band has to go." she said softly. One of the biggest regrets I have in this life is letting them go. Did we not understand loyalty back then? Did we not understand heart? I guess not. We allowed fiery visions of fame and fortune to get the best of us. So we wrapped up our little band in a little paper boat, set them in the water, and watched them float away.

I wouldn't call our experience with her a "failure". She shared a kindness and hope with us that  set Dia and I in the right direction. One time, she drove us out to the west coast. Dia and I sat on the sands with hopeful eyes as we sang our simple melodies to the passing skateboarders and toned, sun-tanned mothers pushing strollers. Our manger lady dropped the only lonely dollars into our beat up guitar case. She was the only soul on the beach who bobbed her head and listened to what we sang and actually enjoyed what she heard. She believed in us, but as only the big directer in the sky knows, the timing wasn't right. 

"Cut! Change scene!"

Honestly,
Meg

22 comments:

  1. You are such a great writer! I really enjoy reading your blogs.

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  2. I can envision the anticipation in you and Dia's hopeful eyes. I'm sure you both have learned so much from the experiences you've had along the way. And, your parents sound very cool to be so supportive of all of you girls. I just love hearing your stories about your musical journey. I look forward to hearing some more of that older music too, Meg =]

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  3. loving this story! never knew all these details. i was wondering, what song did she listen to?

    and p.s.
    i saw in the other comments about how people are giving jimmy a hard time. i hope not!! i would like to think the MaD boardies/fans are more accommodating than that. jeebs!

    p.p.s.
    aloha bot is awesome! think a guy could rock it??

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    1. It was a pop song called "Seems Like". We were trying to be like Avril Lavigne at the time. I don't think we've ever released it, and please DON'T ask me to! ha ha. It's embarrassing:)

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    2. YES! Pleas release the old song (or songs). That would be awesome and I'm sure your fans would love you even more for it. I never got to hear any Jade Harbor stuff.

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  4. "It's all about connections!" It's true that you can't make a meaningful connection all by yourself--because it takes another person who *sees* you AND is willing to complete the connection.

    But first you have to take the initiative and create an opportunity by making yourself available to be seen (or heard) and found, and that's what your wise dad did when he dragged you and Dia to that conference.

    Does it work every time? Certainly not, but you increase the odds of making a connection every time you put yourself out there. And you have to overcome any embarassment or fear of rejection.

    I think your dad and the manager lady were giving you girls valuable training to prepare you for the life ahead. You probably didn't see it that way at the time (what kid does?) and it sounds corny, but those experiences made you girls the achievers that you are today.

    Thanks so much for giving us fans your insights!

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    1. P.S.: Meg, thank you for posting about your beginnings as a musician and about the dedication it takes to go from then to now. It irritates me to no end how so many people think that once you've been on television or cut an album, you've got it made for life. Yeah, right.

      I am reminded of an interesting coaching session from Season 2 of The Voice when contestant Jesse Campbell asked Lionel Richie how to ensure longevity as a music artist:

      http://www.nbc.com/the-voice/video/jesse-campbell-prepares-for-battle/1389303

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    2. So true. So true. Thanks for sharing that video:)

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    3. P.S. I love your comments! I get insight from everyone on here as well!

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  5. I love how you point out that sometimes we're too busy asking "the director in the sky" for favors, that we don't recognize the ones we're already given. I do that all too much.
    excited for the next chapter of the story :)

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  6. This is really great to get a first person perspective on what it takes to become a musician. I find this adventure really exciting to read. How did it feel to put yourself out there? Must have been scary. It must have been really hard to day goodbye to Jade Harper. Do you still keep in contact with any of the members? I'm excited to hear about how yours and Dia's lives continued into the making of Meg & Dia.
    -Bilal

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    1. Sometimes we run into the lead guitarist in our home town. I've seen him at a show or two. He started another band. They are fantastic. He's such a talented dude. I think that having Dia's support as a sister going through the same thing really helped a lot to keep us up when things were down. We are lucky in that sense.

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    2. That's very cool to hear. I'm glad he is in a band doing what he loves to do. Can I get a name? :) I love how close you and your sister is. My sister and I are very close too. I don't know what I would do without her.
      -Bilal

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  7. So very well written. I like how you have related your different entries/stories like scenes in a movie.

    Why does success always come from a series of failures? Is it too much to ask the “director in the sky” for just for one overnight success in your case? Dreams come at price, I guess.

    One thing that still perplexes me is why did you guys name the band “Jade Harbor”? Is the name significant or just sounded good to you? Some one hinted that it might be a restaurant or street name where you formed the band; I dunno.

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    1. It's been so long, I can't remember where the name originated. I think part of the reason was because my little sister's name is Jade, and then I think we came across the full name online. I think that some of the comments above are right. All the failures show you the ropes as you go along. Nobody knows everything when they first start something new. Some people get their big break right out of the gate. I guess that's lucky. Guess we weren't...in the beginning.

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  8. Another great "scene" Meg. You should put these together and make a book;I would buy it! :)

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    1. Actually...that might be in the works. We'll see:)

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    2. I would totally buy it too :))

      StayBeautifulMeg!

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  9. Wait... I know this story!!!LOL. Great reading...Waiting for more:)

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  10. You and Dia were squeezing each others hands anxiously. You guys were/are adorable. :)

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  11. I just love reading your blog. You're not only talented in writing songs but also in telling your fans about your life..:)
    I think everyone's very glad about that, because... for example for me you & your sister are one of my fav. role models, hehe, &.. on this way I can get to know you more.. Somehow that' s an honor for everyone who's loving your music and these things..:>
    (I hope my english' s not to embarassing & you understood me a little, haha :D)
    xx ♥

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