What’s it’s like for singers to talk to non-singers.

December 3, 2010 at 1:04 am (Music) (, , , )

My friend Marcy made this and it has gone totally, insanely (at least for something in the classical music world) viral.  I think EVERYBODY should watch this- singers because they’ll laugh their asses off, but moreso non-singers so they’ll know what we have to freaking put up with from their ilk.

Usually I hate these videos, because every single one I’ve seen follows the exact same format: one “normal” person, representing either a certain profession/viewpoint, or just being “everyman” to someone else, and another “annoying” person being totally unreasonable and asinine.  They are sometimes funny and sometimes not, but the thing that gets me is how one-sided and formulaic they are.

However, this one is just really, really, really good.  I have had SO many versions of this conversation, and getting most of these questions and comments is basically like being bludgeoned with a blunt object.  Over and over.  So I wanted to share for everyone’s sake.

I thought if I’m going to post it I should at least make some commentary:

“You have a nice voice” OMG.  I respond exactly the way the character does: “I should.”

“All operas are in Italian, right?” I hear this so much.  I guess you can’t blame people for not knowing that, though.

“Sing me a song from Lulu.  I’ll recognize it from commercials, maybe.”  This line had me ROFLing.  For those that don’t know, Lulu is a “modern” opera, essentially atonal, and the arias sound something like this:

I myself love the music, but “Sing me a song from Lulu” isn’t something you’d hear every day.  Still, it makes me wonder what that commercial would be selling… hmm…

“You sound like Sarah Brightman.” Yeah, take my word for it, never tell an opera singer this.  We know you mean it as a compliment, but- ouch.

“Pavarotti is my favorite opera singer.” Wow, I cannot tell you how many people who don’t know anything about opera but want to pretend they do say this.  Of course, Pavarotti was amazing and it’s totally cool to have him as your favorite singer, but if he’s the only opera singer you’ve ever heard of, just admit it.  Oh, also I love, “My favorite opera singers are Pavarotti and the other two guys in the Three Tenors.”  C’mon, if you’re gonna fake it, try harder.

“Just sing me a high note.” Arghh, this one is so annoying.  While I know many singers who use the “do for me for free what you do for a living right now” defense, I prefer to say, “I’m a professional, you have to pay me.  I’m expensive.”  Hey, you never know, maybe I’ll get twenty bucks out of it!

“I did not think they had opera there.”  I definitely hear this a lot.  If you don’t think your nearest small city has opera, google and check- and then GO TO IT!!

“It is a connection.”  Marcy was brilliant to put this in there, because people say it about everything they can think of.  We appreciate the thought, and if you legitimately have somebody who can get us somewhere we will be eternally grateful, but at the end of the day, we know how it works better than you do- trust us.  Oh, and I probably know more people who work at the Met than you do.

“You should be on American Idol.”  I hear this so much that I finally auditioned for them one year just so I had a comeback.

“You’re to skinny.”  This is a HUGE one, but the response in this is brilliant!!!!!!  Omg.  Usually I just pull out a copy of Opera News from my purse and show them the pics of the singers.

“That does not seem right.  I had no idea people were paid to sing in church.”  I can’t tell you how much I hear this.  So let me explain it in a new light.  Think of it this way: churches use both volunteers and professionals.  If you bring a specialized skill set, you get paid.  This includes construction workers, engineers, architechts (I am speaking from experience, my father used to be a church building consultant), organists, priests (!!)- and highly trained and experienced singers.  Not to mention, high-level liturgical choral singing requires its own skill set, apart from that of other classical singers (especially the ability to sight-read and to sing with no vibrato, which many opera singers can’t or won’t do).  I agree with Marcy’s response that church work has kept me away from my family during holidays- plus, forced me to give up Saturday nights out for as long as I can remember (as far back as high school).  That’s a big deal when all your friends are musicians.

I like how it sounds like she’s saying “I have worked at McDonald’s as a stripper.”

“I’m afraid I can’t.”  I love how people will rave about my singing to my face, then NOT buy my album- or come to any of my shows.  I guess I appreciate the compliments, but they would seem more sincere if there was some follow-up, even in the form of $10 towards a CD.

Some big ones that I would have included:

“You’re a singer?  You’re so lucky!!”  Some people seriously think you are just born with a great voice and then you audition for something and become successful.  Genetics do play a part.  Unfortunately you never really learn how much of a part until you’ve already invested your whole life in singing for years.

“I never go to the opera because I can’t understand what they’re singing about.”  They are SO surprised when I tell them there are subtitles.  I hope once I tell them, they are out of excuses and they go.

Have a great night everyone- and, GO TO THE OPERA!!!!

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This is Your Life, Martin Bisi!

November 6, 2009 at 3:39 am (Music) (, , )

I call it that because I keep wanting the people from the albums to walk in the room and be like, “HEYYYY!  Martin!  Remember that time when we did that thing?  That was so sweet!!” or “What do you mean, you don’t remember my wife’s name!?”

This is an auto-retrospective of the career of Martin Bisi, who produced my album, Toyshop, as well as produced, recorded, and mixed for many other luminaries besides me (such as: Sonic Youth, Swans, The Dresden Dolls, John Zorn, Bill Laswell, Foetus, Helmet, Boredoms, Herbie Hancock [Rockit], Africa Bambaata, Bootsy Collins and Brian Eno).  In this video, he disintigrates his wall-o-album-covers, representing notable records that he has worked on throughout his years in BC Studio.  The series below may seem long, but it’s really worth a watch if you have any interest in the history of rock and other popular music from the 1980’s to the present day.

And if you liked that, check out Martin’s music video for one of his own songs…


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RewBee’s World, my first Casilda

February 25, 2009 at 4:01 am (Music) (, , , , , , , )

Agh! It’s getting late, I haven’t really written in so long, and I have so much to talk about!!

First thing’s first, most urgently, tomorrow- I mean today- I’m going to be on an internet show!!!  My beloved girl and co-rocker chick Rew is co-host of a new Internet TV/Radio show, RewBee’s World (her band is RewBee, she is Rew and her bandmate is Bee).  They asked me to be on the second ever episode!  How cool is that?  You can either watch it live or catch it on YouTube later.  But I’m supposed to be interviewed at 4:45.  The show runs 4-6pm.

The “station” is called Arizzma Radio, and here’s the website where you can watch it. There’s even a cute pic of me with a bio and all.  Kenn of the Baghdaddios is listed too- I hope he’s there at the same time as me so we can hang out!  I was in his music video, you know.  Which apparently has been on TV because somebody told me they saw it.

So hopefully I get some sleep, and rock, and you watch it!

Sunday after church I sang Casilda in Gondoliers!  Yeah totally last minute.  It was a sing-a-long situation, like a DIY Messiah, but with Gilbert and Sullivan.  They have a group up in Westchester that does this regularly, but this is different- I don’t think the group even has a name, but the lady that runs it is president of the NY G&S Society. So, they contacted me Friday night at midnight to ask if I could sing Casilda, which I had never done, but I had done Gianetta (the other lead soprano role) back in Boston, so at least I was familiar with the music- and it was on book, so I didn’t have to memorize.  So of course I said yes!

It was sooo nice.  It was just with piano, people standing around in someone’s living room, but it was just the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I had been totally stressing, not because of the music, but because I knew I would be totally sleep deprived, which makes me CRANKY- I had worked late Friday and Saturday night, Saturday I had to wake up early for my FINAL NYCAA class (I love love love them but I don’t have the money for classes anymore- I’ll probably keep training in some way or another, when my finances are in order), and of course Sunday morning church which didn’t get out til 12:45.  My point being I was exTREMELY underslept, but the beauty of the music and the pleasure of singing (I sang all the chorus parts so there was no downtime)  was just so perfect, I didn’t even feel tired.

Lots of other stuff going on but I should go.  Talk to you all later!!

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Monica & Mabel up

February 10, 2009 at 12:30 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Hey everyone!

So I am busying myself as I plan for the future.  Still planning on getting out of here.  A couple options.  Moving to Europe the most reliable.  I could also just give up my apartment and tour long-term when my album comes out, but I don’t think any of my band members would go with me so that would be complicated.  Yeah, a couple possibilities.  Many projects.

I finally threw down a little demo of Monica’s Getting her Tits Done!  I know I said I was going to do that months ago, right?  I just am not so much at guitar, especially not lately.  When I used to play all the time like every day, I was comfortable playing out and stuff, but I am soooooo out of practice.  I barely touched my guitar for like a year after my surgery, and since the retirement home gig I pick it up occasionally but don’t have my skills back.

So here’s the secret link to the wav file: UPDATE: pro recording up here

Yeah it’s a messy recording but it’s just so you can see how the song goes. Let me know what you think!

Also, I kind of sort of got the Pirates DVD.  Part of it, at least.  The important thing is that I now have a YouTube video up of my Poor Wand’ring One.

I can’t say it’s 100% but for a live performance it’s pretty good!  (You try skipping and singing high staccati without breaking for breath!)  Oh and so you don’t have to check, it’s an F at the end.  I’d really had no idea it was that piercing.  It’s cool though, adds something to make my performance stand out.  Right?

I’m expending a lot of mental energy towards getting my album made.  I have one guy offering to produce a track for free ’cause he’s making a demo.  I’m looking into outsourcing/offshoring and have a lot of good potentials there, too.  But I also need to record.  Ross’s recording equipment is down, unfortunately.  And we need somewhere we can record with live drums anyways.  ‘Cause we’re professionals!  Actually there are a couple international studios who can record the instrumentals for me, so there are soooo many factors to consider.  I’m still trying to price out studios in the area, though, so everybody let me know if you know any really good, really affordable studios around NY, NJ, Long Island, etc.

OK you all have a great week now!  Talk to you soon.

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Updating the website

October 14, 2008 at 3:45 am (Music) (, , , )

Hey kids!

I feel like I spent all night in front of my computer.

I’m making some changes to my website.

First, I’m going to have it redesigned- by somebody else, this time!  Mine is okay, but it’s obviously a home-spun page that’s several years old.  (I programmed it myself from html.)  I found somebody I want to hire to improve it.

Secondly, I moved my photo page to Flickr. It looked nicer the way it was, but it took way too long to upload new photos, and the pages all took forever to load.  So I just made a new Flickr page with all my production photos etc, and linked to that.  Aggravatingly, I didn’t know you can’t make albums on Flickr.  (Sorry, you CAN, but only 3, and after that you have to pay.)  How messed up is that?  My personal pics are on Photobucket and I’m pretty sure they don’t have that rule.  But maybe they will change it one day, and in the meantime you can enjoy my pics here.

Next, I did the same thing with the video page- I already had a video page on YouTube so I just redirected my video page to there.  There will be more videos soon- I’ll be getting my Fledermaus DVD, and I also have a better quality version of Pagliacci I want to upload.

Finally, and probably most importantly to you, I finally figured out how to make a music page on Facebook. You can now be my fan on Facebook!  I don’t have music and stuff uploaded yet because I’m still awaiting verification (I had to send a scan of my passport?) but you know where to find that stuff anyways.  So please everyone who is on Facebook go to my music page and add me as a fan.

If you follow my twitter updates, you’ll know that yesterday I mentioned pulling out my guitar for the first time in ages.  I played for 10 minutes and my fingers were hurting.  Then that very night I get a request to play in a retirement home Wednesday (which I did like 2 years ago).  I couldn’t say no to the modest fee so I practiced tonight and decided, “Good enough!”

Also it looks like I’ll be singing in another American Landmark Festivals concert on Monday October 27th.  I don’t have the details yet or know what I’ll be singing but I’ll post the info when I have it.

Well that’s all I guess!

Love always,


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