Nov 4, 2015

You Deserve The Best

I ran my own record label for 7 years.

It was a constant source of anxiety - wanting to "succeed" on my own terms, to control my own destiny.  I could have spent those 7 years becoming a superior piano player, a better vocalist, a more refined songwriter.  Advancing my somewhat limited production skills.  Learning how to play a new instrument.  Doing more pull-ups.

Instead I chose to run a business.

I bit off way more than I could chew and my art suffered for it.  So did a few relationships.

Then a hurricane destroyed it all.

I became a musician again. 

I got into shape. Healthy body, healthy mind.  I started writing.  For therapy, for fun.  Friends and family encouraged me to continue.  "You should write a book."  We'll see.  But it was nice to hear those compliments, to hear the word "talented" from peers, from strangers.  It still is.  Most of all, it's nice to hear that people are affected by my words, my experiences.  

I released an album.  

First one of my own in 7 years.  First one since the storm.  No shows, no tour.  No press, no radio play.  No licensing deals, no favors.  No expectations.  I don't have an agent.  No manager, no PR company.  No assistant, no interns.  No one is out there peddling Ronnie Scalzo door-to-door while I continue to refine my art.  No one is teaching me synchronized dance moves or doing my makeup or setting up a tour.  No one is packing my CD into envelopes, filling out customs labels and waiting on long post office lines while I practice playing grace notes.

So it didn't matter that barely anyone cared.  I did it for me.  To close the door on the batshit crazy chapter of my life.  To exorcise a few demons.  To travel to new cities and make new adventures with new people.  To prove to myself that I could do it without someone else's money or someone else's help.

I made an album to see if I still cared about making music. 

And I do. 

I moved my piano into my apartment and practiced my balls off.  I learned how to play other songs besides my own.  I do my vocal exercises every day.   I wrote two new songs and finished two more.

Did I "succeed"?

I'm still up in the air on that.  I still feel like I'm not where I'm supposed to be - if that makes any sense.  Lots of things have happened in my life these past few years that don't make much sense.  Those events have taught me temperance, patience.  Acceptance.  I have been knocked the fuck down but not the fuck out.  I have rolled with the punches.  I have learned some hard lessons.  I have taken my lumps and become more resilient.  Braver.  Stronger.  Smarter.

I'm at my best.  I deserve this.  I hear someone I look up to say it all the time, to hundreds of thousands of people every day.  "You deserve happiness."

"You deserve the best."

So here we go again.  Four new songs - new babies.  No plan, no expectations.  Just pride.
I explored Seattle, I ventured to Tucson.  I played beautiful pianos in beautiful studios, I sang into vocal microphones more expensive than my car.  I ran through the desert listening to rough mixes and working on harmony lines.  I broke bread and shared a drink and a smoke with some music making dudes I had never met before and reunited with others I now call my friends.  I made love to analog synths.  I got to hear a trumpet player make my songs better.

I wrote two songs with my talented cousin Michael Celi, and strengthened a long-distance relationship that could have easily faded if not for a mutual admiration of each other's talent.  Cousin Mike and I share an empathy based on our unique and interesting journeys in the wake of our respective failures.

The music industry is not what it was when I began this journey.  But the passion still exists - to create, to collaborate, to share what you've made with the world and just let things happen.  I've seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears.  I still want to be part of that world.  I'm proud to say that I still am.

This new solo release will be out on iTunes and Amazon and all that jazz before the holidays.  No firm release date because what's the point?  Maybe you'll buy it, maybe you won't.  Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't.  Maybe you'll send it to your friend who likes punk rock, or your cousin who likes Faith No More or your sister who likes Radiohead or your co-worker who loves Beck.

Maybe you'll listen again and again, maybe you won't listen at all.  Maybe you'll be too busy listening to the new Justin Bieber, Adele and Coldplay albums.  

It doesn't matter what happens next.  The most important part has already happened.

I'll be performing live - for the first time in over 5 years - sometime soon on a stage somewhere, and with some good friends in support.  Maybe I'll go on a short tour next year instead of into a recording studio.  Maybe I'll learn how to play the trumpet.  I can open any door and walk through it and go exploring.

For now, it's time to get down to business.  Copyrights and ISRC codes and digital distro and publishing info.  Artwork and mixes and website and social networking updates.  I'll write some more about the making of these new songs, in this space and elsewhere.  I'll send the music out to all my friends in the radio biz and secretly hope that someone will get behind it.

I'll send it to Pitchfork and NPR and KEXP and KCRW and the few "tastemakers" out there who matter to me.  I'll get it on Spotify and make .0003 cents every time you give me a spin.  I'll do all the things I did for myself - and for others - for 7 years, but with no sense of urgency this time around.

I loved making these songs and I'm proud of the progress I've made.

Life is good.  Bald Freak Music still exists, it has just been transformed.  Just as I have.  For all of you who have been along for the ride since the beginning - or maybe jumped on along the way - the best I can do now that life is better is give you my best.  

These new tunes are it.  They represent my resurgence.  I can't wait for you to hear them.