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Discouraged Artist Thoughts

Friday February 3rd 2017

This blog is an honest reflection of my life. No fancy talk. No falsehoods.

This morning I was just sitting and staring at the manuscript for my synopsis of the play and I couldn’t think of anything to write. I wrote a little, but I felt like a complete idiot. Yesterday I felt like I had a great plot, now I feel like I have nothing. It’s not true, but it is how I feel. I get so discouraged when Thoth reads my stories and challenges and questions my choices. He’s only trying to help me, but I feel broken down and worthless. I’m lucky to have his help, most people have to figure this stuff out on their own. I cried I was so frustrated. I made the vlog today to be as long as needed. People don’t watch it anyway, so why do I care to make it short and entertaining? It’s only for me and Thoth. I also got up late, so I didn’t have as much time to work on the things I wanted to work on.

We got to the park and I was prepared for no one to stop and watch us, like yesterday. I felt completely invisible. That’s how I feel when we’re not prayforming. To my surprise, two young men passing us asked, “When are you starting?” It was Robert, an actor who came to see us last year in Balboa Park and said, “You’ve given me inspiration for the entire year.” I was so flattered. I saw our friend D., who gave me a very sweet hug. I asked him, “What is the point of life?” and he said, “There is no point. Only that which we assign to it.” Thoth agrees. We assign prayformance and each other as our reason to live, so I guess that’s the point.

As we began singing, people did not stop. For the second piece, people stood on the other side of the railing, watching from a distance. That is never good. When people watch us with some barrier between us and them, there is no interaction or support, just us giving our music away to them and them taking without giving anything back. It’s energy depleting. People don’t think about it. I couldn’t smile. During our third song, a little girl with her family stood stock still within a feet of us. Her mother knelt down next to her, also very close, clapping her hands. We felt crowded and I felt very objectified. The last two days I’ve been remembering a quote Erik says in my favorite book Phantom by Susan Kay. “I no longer had to prostitute my skills in order to eat.” That’s what I felt like. We’re prostituting our skill in order to survive, and we’re not even being duly compensated for our service. I love singing in public, but it is our livelihood. Sometimes I’m absolutely terrified we won’t be able to live anymore doing this.

Robert and his friend came to watch us, as did Pascual, during our new piece, “Bird Song” (which we improvised on for almost 8 minutes). I left the entire, uncut version of it on the vlog. A bunch of people stopped to watch. When fans come and stand near us to watch without fear, it gives permission for other people to do the same. A bunch of people came up to us afterwards to us, speechless. They couldn’t understand how they could have just stumbled upon something so beautiful. One man wanted to know who we were and what we did other then this, as if we must be famous or something. We’re famous in a certain way, but that’s from street performing all over the world just the two of us for the past 8 years. We just happen to be really f**king talented and good at what we do. That’s all. Haven’t been discovered yet, nor will we likely ever be. Probably only when we’re long gone will the world truly understand what we’re doing.

I felt much better after that song. Robert said he loves my blog because it talks about the struggles of being an artist. “If you guys are still doing this and performing your opera, then I have no excuse!” he said. That was interesting to hear. I imagine our life would be an inspiration to others, but people don’t say that much. Despite all the difficulties of making art in this world, we still go out and do it every day together and we don’t give up. Most of the time I feel like people don’t give a flying f***. I finished feeling much better then I did when we started. I hope I can get some work done on my synopsis tomorrow. i can’t give up on it. Our friend Chris wrote to me yesterday:

Hi Lila!
So awesome that you are forcing yourself to work on your play and work out these ideas! Good for you! As always I have such respect for you as an artist. Don’t stop writing. I wish you all the best!

Just a little encouragement is so helpful!

 

All I Can F***king Do is DO THE WORK!!!!!!

You know what, F*CK IT! I’m a person who sings music no one has heard before in public parks and I’m living in a world that doesn’t give a SH*T about it, but at least I’m f*ucking doing something!!!!!!! At least I’m trying to do something noble and giving and good! People’s lack of care doesn’t stop me from being immensely successful at it either!!! I’m a f*cking artist! I make art! I try to inspire people! I AM FREE! I wish more people supported it, but ah well! That won’t stop me from doing it, regardless! I can’t control what people are going to do. We are doing more than most people!! Anyone can enjoy what I do, and frankly, they should count themselves lucky!! Every person who ever had or will see us perform live in public is one lucky mother f*cker! In history, people will wish they could have been in their shoes!! People should be falling over each other to help us and house us and put on shows for us, but they don’t! We do it our f*cking selves, and we’re the better for it! I’m proud that we do!! If you wanna do something right, you’ve gotta do it yourself, G o d  d a m n  i t 

The only way to do anything with heart in it, especially these days, is to do it yourself. Most people are too concerned with making financial gain over making anything with soul. We are not. We sacrifice for our heart work, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t successful in our own way. In order to follow your own carved out path, you have to go and do it, and do it fearlessly, and not compare ourselves to the status quo. Just go and do stuff!!! A lot of people won’t get it. That’s fine. (Some do though. We cherish those people. They are special.) I don’t listen to anyone who dissuades me. I don’t let that stop me. We need more brave artists in this world; people who are willing to stick their necks out for art and truth and beauty. That’s what makes life worth living. Not money and fancy houses and cars and that bull s*it! Wake up people! Get your heads out of your butts!  Support art and music and goodness!

We are incredibly successful for being street performers! We get ourselves around the world by ourselves! We are doing enough, giving enough and working hard enough. I get feisty like this because it’s just Thoth and me against the world it seems. It’s so rare for people to stand up for us. Those who do are really special people!( THANK YOU!) We are two people fighting an uphill battle to create a life that is different from any person in this world! We go out and share our art and our music with as many people as we can. People should be grateful, instead of judgmental and mean and condescending as they sometimes are. Thank god that rarely happens!

The best thing to be done is to try and create as much as I can and not think about how little support we have. It’s depressing and debilitating. It’s not how much anyone cares, it’s the work we produce that really matters. I’m a human being and I want to be loved, but creativity is the only thing I can do that gets me through my dark feelings. All artists feel this. I’m not alone. I’m  brave enough to write about it and be vulnerable. It’s can be debilitating to put things out there day after day, year after year and to look too closely at how little energy is received than the energy that is given to do it. It’s a given. Artists give more than they get back. Only the lucky ones, the overrated ones, get more than they give. That is the nature of being an artist, but we don’t have to like it. We want to be loved. We want our work to be appreciated. We are sensitive and vulnerable to criticism. All we want is love and support.

I wish we had more support, but really, F**K IT. That doesn’t stop us from being successful and making beautiful art and music anyway! We don’t need lots of support to do what we do. It would be nice to have more of it, but we can survive without it. When people come see us perform, it makes all the difference for me. There are a handful of people who care enough to make our life feel less lonely and help us in the beautiful ways they do. From giving us a place to stay or coming to see us prayform, to simply commenting on our vlogs and on this blog and supporting us on social media. We can’t do indoor shows or tour with a band, but we can go out to the park and sing every day and support ourselves through that. That is a blessing. Our friends who love us make all the difference. I do wish more people loved us, but F**K it! Some do, and for that I am grateful. We’d need many, many more people like them in order to be more successful, but we don’t have that. We had a handful of supporters, and that makes our life magic, even in the smallest ways. When friends come to see us in the park and stay for the entire time and talk to us afterwards, we feel loved. I wish we had more fans, but F**K it! The few fans we do have do love us and appreciate what we do deeply.

I wish we could perform indoors more often, but F**K it! We don’t have to in order to survive. We do fine performing in public! At least we have that. There is something beautiful about giving our art away and random strangers give back to us out of genuine love of what we do and not by cohesion or force. We are free in public. We are actually pretty famous in Balboa Park and other places we play! We don’t have the influence to get people to come to indoor shows. I actually don’t know how to get people to come to indoor shows. The beauty of public performance is we don’t have to worry if people will come. They always do. It is a much humbler was to perform. I constantly have to look in the mirror of humility by performing in public. That’s why I have so much pride, because I have to believe what we are doing is important, even if it many not seem to be. It is for me. It is for Thoth. It is for those people who truly understand what we’re doing. You know who you are. Thank you.

I wish people supported the vlogs and the blog more, but F**K that too! Despite how frustrating it is at times, it’s not stopping me from making them. I’m doing it for myself. I can’t make people support us more. I can only do the work every day. Work and create and do stuff!!! It is shocking how some people feel entitled to taking our art and giving nothing back, but it shouldn’t surprise me. We are a naturally selfish society. I will always give. I will always hope for people’s generosity. I will never give up. F**k those who think anything other than good things for the work we do. Thank you to those who truly see us and appreciate us. I cannot make anyone like us or respond to us. I can’t control people’s actions. I can only do good works and be a good person. That is all.

 

I ‘ M F E I S T Y T O D A Y

Saturday January 21st 2017

I made three, count them THREE VLOGS today. Not that it matters or anyone cares! It’s actually amazing pathetic how much free, beautiful art we give to people and get so little back for it. I think that will always be the case. We’re lucky we make enough to survive. We are public servants who are not duly compensated for our work. We give and give and give. I think some day it’s got to change. People have got to open their f**king eyes and say “Hey wow, you guys are giving a lot! We should support you more!” Yeah, I know. We’re not the most important thing in the world. People have their own lives and problems to attend to. People are busy. Blah. Blah. Blah. No one owes us their attention or money because we share all this beautiful music. Who cares right? Yeah exactly. Who does care? Why should anyone care about us? There are many more important things to care about. There’s that EVIL ORANGE CLOWN MAN for example. We should be paying attention to him, right? Not us poor stupid ARTISTS. Who cares about us? Who cares about goodness and beauty and giving when evil now has the most powerful position in the world! What does free art matter! Oh right! It matters because in history people will be in awe of those who gave their art to the world and got nothing back and they’ll laugh at that crazy orange dictator. They’ll wonder how those artists kept going, kept making art, kept doing something giving and beautiful when no one gave a s**t, just as they marvel at the artists of the past who died with nothing for their art.

I know that our success would mean a change has occurred in the world. The world is completely backwards now. Those who give beauty and do good works are ignored while those who thieve and hurt and mock are given the largest amount of power and attention. It’s absolutely disgusting honestly. The world would need to make a huge switch. I know people are hungry for what we do. I know people love our music. I know what we do is beautiful. I am proud of what I do with my life, but I am sicked at how invisible we are. I make art and share our work simply because I must. It is not for now. It is for history. No I don’t have a big f**king ego about what we do. I’m forced every day to look straight in the face how little anyone cares. Everything I share, everything we do, is seen and supported by so few people. If we had a million people like our biggest and most devoted fans (you know who you are) we would be able to do the things we’ve always dreamed of. We cannot now. We can travel and perform in public resonant spaces. I am grateful for what that gives us, but we are capable of so much more. Having to look daily at my insignificance sometimes becomes too painful. I know what we are and what we are capable of, and we are not doing that. We are surviving, creating the only way we can. We have no other way to share our music or live other then performing it in public for anyone who will listen. I want us to have more options. We are worthy of it.

We are worthy of attention. We are doing something beautiful and completely unique in the whole world. I want to perform our operas indoors and tour the world with an entourage of helpers, our band and a chamber orchestra, as well as other artists and unusual performers to collaborate with. I want us to sing in churches. I want us to be legitimized by and be given thanks by all the public places we have performed in. I want us to have a theater space/school in which to develop new works. I want us to have million of subscribers on our Youtube channel. I want us to have contact with other unique artists of the world. I want us to be able to put on the shows as beautiful and amazing as we can imagine, with no limit to budget. The magic and beauty of what we do now is we manage to make raw art and beauty with nothing but our own willpower. No one makes it possible but us ourselves. Almost everything stands against us being successful. We could stop tomorrow and only a few people would blink an eye for a moment. There is nothing pushing us onward but our love and our need to put out into the world what does not exist.

I am grateful for my husband for holding me up, as he is grateful for me. We push each other forward, despite the darkness all around us, which will eat us alive if we let it. Thinking about the state of the world right now too much leads us down a dark path. At least we have our work. It’s all we have. We have a few dedicated fans. We appreciate them more then they know. Those who are reading this, for example, I appreciate so much. I don’t know what else to do. I am doing what I can. Being creating, being a good person, trying to be patient, being loving and giving. That is all we can do. Just keep going forward. Feel what I feel. Get it out in writing and in words and push onward forward. Don’t give up. Let those few special people’s love for us and our work be enough. Let ourselves, our work, what we are doing, be enough. We are enough. We are worthy of what we dream of.

We are Alone, Together, Doing This Work

Photo by Dan Rubin

Photo by Dan Rubin

I love prayforming. It feels good to sing in front of an audience. I love surprising passers by in the street with our music. I love bringing something unique and beautiful into unassuming ears and eyes. Hearing cheering applause and “bravo’s” after we sing is a fantastic feeling. Seeing how much I’ve improved as a musician and as a person is liberating. I love being with Thoth every day. Singing with him, dancing with him, being in each others presence. He always finds ways to make me smile and show how much he loves me. We are closer and more in love then we ever have been before. Traveling and constantly being in new places is tough, but it’s good for my mind. I’d go nuts if we settled down. We get to share our music with more people this way.

While all of this is true, and I am grateful we have found a way to make music, I have realized recently that performing in public is the only way we can do what we do. We can’t perform indoors unless people come around us who can make that possible, which rarely happens. I realized this in the last few weeks when I tried to set up an indoor show for us in London at the end of August. It didn’t work out. The venue cost too much and we had no way of getting people to attend. Why would we? Nobody knows us there. Maybe some people do, but there is no way of reaching them. It’s not that we don’t want to perform indoors, it’s that we have no way of doing so.

We’ve been doing this for almost 8 years together and our fan base is very small. Within each city we go to and for how many performances we do in that time, so few people actually make the effort to come out and see us. Why would we expect otherwise? We’re not famous, and they’re busy with their lives. Makes sense. Our audiences are mostly people who have never seen our work before, and most will probably rarely think of us again after watching us, until they stumble upon us again. We do meet people during almost every prayformance that recognize us from somewhere else. That makes us feel kind of famous, but it’s because our sound is so unique anyone who has heard us before will recognize us anywhere. A few people even seem to consistently watch our vlogs or read our blogs, but in order for us to be able to perform indoors, we need thousands, if not millions of people paying attention to our work consistently, and I just don’t know how to do that. Unless fame or some kind of large success happened, which is honestly unlikely, us being two talented artists (among millions) starting from the bottom up.

Sure, we’re doing our best with the resources we have. Sure, we’re doing something unique that no one else does. Sure, we do hundreds of shows a year and travel as much as we can. Sure, we’re both well trained and skilled musicians. However, we are fiercely independent and do things our own way. Going the “traditional” route is against our core values. We’re artists. We don’t cater to people’s tastes or beg people to come see us perform. We make art. That’s one big reason we perform in public like we do. We just want to play. This is the only way to do that as far as either of us know. At least we get to perform a lot.

The thing is that we have been very successful as street performers. We could live this way for the rest of our lives and we’d be OK, but I want so much more for us. I want us to have a touring show of our opera with a small band (hand drummer, bassist, maybe a string quartet), dancers, actors and circus performers and a crew. We know people who could do this, but we don’t have the money or the resources to make it happen, and it would be idiotic to try and do something like that on our own, as I learned by trying to do the London show.

After trying and failing to put on the show, I’ve realized no one is going to help us in the long term. It’s either sink or swim with Tribal Baroque. We’re on our own. It’s always been that way for us. We’ve had to pull ourselves up from our boot straps from day one. Nobody paid for us to fly to Europe or travel around back in 2009, or any time since. We have to pave our own way. We have friends, but they are scattered throughout the world and we have no means to bring them all together to help us. I know we have people out there who believe in us, but for the most part, we feel very isolated and alone doing this work. We need to have a community for success to happen for us.

The awareness (which is always at the front of my mind) that my hopes and dreams for Tribal Baroque may never come true in our lifetimes is debilitating for me. We stare that reality dead in the face day by day, and have to try our best to be strong and do the best we can and never ever give up. I want us to have more ease and less fear in our life. Sometimes people say, “I KNOW you will have success.” and I believe them, while other times it feels like it’s wishful thinking. The cold, hard fact is we have to take care of ourselves, and we do. We have turned our backs on the world and basically said “F**k it. We’re just going to make music.” The incredible thing is despite all of this we manage to do this work by ourselves. It’s actually f***ing amazing. We will never stop doing this work, even if the world never manages to catch up with us.