Friday, March 29, 2013

Repost if u like reposting

I think we can all agree that I suck at blogging. No? You beg to differ, you say? Don't be so hard on yourself, Lainey, you decry? Your rakish charms must get you very far, indeed. But my self-flagellation shan't be repressed by your sweet lies, or your good looks for that matter. To further substantiate my claim, I present to the court a post wholly unworthy of anyone's time.

I am very organized. I have a list of things I'm supposed to do, and I even look at it sometimes - right before I put it under a pile of crumpled paper and inextricably tangled usb cables and cry. Today, I prioritized photoshopping this, having been inspired by seeing for the first time what I can only imagine is a meme so old, and so bastardized by the ubiquitous forces of mediocrity, that it has since passed from viral to overuse to internet-meme-poster-generator to ironic-use-acceptable back to totally-uncool again. I'm late to the party, but I brought some 2 Buck Chuck and a roach from 2004. You're welcome, internet.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Kickstar

You guys. We fucking DID IT.

The hardest part is over. Now the next part is even harder. Wait... what? I don't have to make sense anymore, people, I GOT NINE THOUSAND DOLLAZ.

J/k. If anything, having this money makes me more culpable - to be organized, to be a good accountant, to work hard, to meet deadlines, to be transparent in my process, to create a masterpiece, and - of course - to save the world. All of which is my ardent intent.

Seriously, though, we met our goal thanks to an incredibly generous community of friends both old and new. The support we've received is astonishing. I'm still reeling a bit from the whole adventure, both from the utter madness of my campaigning fervor and "strategy" (I recently found myself commenting on Facebook "Why fight the mammocentricity of consumption, I always say," and in spite of never having said that before, I guess I espouse this glib idiom, at least in action) and the... well, shock of having so many people believe in and actively support something I'm trying to do. I'll be honest, there were some moments my faith was tested and desperation set in during the campaign (see below).  But we made a final push at the end, and much like a small yappy dog with a Twitter account and thumbs, I harassed everyone in my networks with adorably irritating high-pitched tenacity. Hopefully the urge to dropkick me was minimal and has since faded to something more along the lines of just putting me back in the purse.

actual promotional materials from the campaign: "your 'support' is essential!"
A couple of days before our campaign ended, I wrote a song about my Kickstarter experience, specifically on my feelings about having two days left and being only about halfway there with funds. I decided to make a frenetic video for it, so I stayed up most of the last night of our campaign and shot some idiotic and, okay, risqué footage. Most of it was me dressing up in ridiculous costumes and ad libbing. At around 2am, after breaking down the set-up and taking off my make-up, it was brought to my attention that the memory card had been full - checking it, I realized that I lost about half of what I shot. So I set everything up and shot it again. Went to bed, woke up early, edited it at breakneck speed the next morning/afternoon, and put it up about an hour before the campaign was up. It's gotten a surprisingly good response so far and, according to some, "may live on as an anthem for anxious Kickstarters everywhere"! Wow.

Woe to those whose anthems are written by me.




I have no regrets! Except maybe the ass tattoo scene.

I am happy and grateful and so excited to move forward.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Musics of Bent Wit Cabaret


Well, this is it. The last week of this dang Kickstarter Campaign. I'm either in shock or somebody slipped me a mickey, because at the moment I feel pretty calm.

I'm offering a new donor reward this week, and I wanted to say a few words about it.

Back in 2009, a couple of crazy artist friends of mine decided to produce a monthly series of themed shows called "Bent Wit Cabaret." The format: consummate variety. The cast: rotating. The spirit: demented.

I was lucky enough to be asked to be part of what they called the "Corps" performers - a small group of Boston artists from different performance genres who wrote and performed interstitial bits, ensemble numbers, and solo pieces for each show. I proudly represented music. And, possibly, weirdness. With the awe-inspiring talents of Sugar Dish, Femme Brulee, and the show's creators Karin Webb and Jill/Petey Gibson, we made a lot of people uncomfortable, some people excited, and probably gave someone a boner along the way (is that classic "cult" status?). Whatever it was, it was magic. Magic boners!








In the following couple of years, hilarity ensued. And drama. Possibly blackouts. Working on this show got me through some of my worst times. I was given carte blanche to explore my weirdest, dumbest ideas. I put everything I had into bringing each absurd concept we came up with to fruition. And from cat abortions to musical blow up doll qvc infomercials, to fruition they came.

And then it was over.

So now I have this pile of ridiculous music that I - painstakingly, as ever - created. Where does it go? It belongs to something that is no more. It belongs to unicorns. Except that they (unicorns) are real. But it has no obvious place...

Until now! I've decided to release everything in its current state as a sort of demo-style compilation: The Musics of Bent Wit Cabaret. A bargain at any price, I'm offering it as a package on Kickstarter (ends this Saturday OH CRAP) for a mere $35. You'll also get a copy of the new SchoolTree album. YOU LITERALLY CANNOT LOSE.

ApocaLips logo by Robyn Giragosian
Included on this collection will be songs like Baby I Got a Bomb Shelter. This tune was written for "Bent Wit: Apocalypse", in which the Corps formed a Spice Girls-ish girl band called ApocaLips.

Also included will be Meowmory, from Cats by Cats, the Mewsical. This piece launched my career as a Catsinger, and is generally considered* to be the decisive contribution to the genre.

You'll also hear hits like Three Lovin' Holes, I'm Different (from Abortion, the Musical), Mystery Boobs, Doin' it Just to Do it, Goin' Mainstream, and many more.

So order now. You don't have to be a unicorn. Just a lover of weird. I guess you could be both.

*by everyone, ever.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baygondoo

I am totally dealing awesomely with everything. The following video is proof.




FAQ


Did you record the music in this video?
Yes.

Why did you record the music in this video?
Because the Devil told me to.

How did you come to be so friendly with the Devil?
Oh, I don't know... right place, right time, I guess.

I will die if I don't have the song featured in this video. What do I have to do to get it?
You can go here and download it for free.

Is this really what it's like in your home studio?
Yes. Every day.

Can you help me to Baygondoo?
Yes! If you donate to my Kickstarter campaign, I will show you the ways of the Baygondoo.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Sharing is Scaring

pic by Philip Doyle
SchoolTree, listening back @ Dimension Sound Studios (photo by Philip Doyle)

Well, the time has come to show some evidence that I've been working on this album. (And I totally have been, especially if you consider banging my head against hard things and fml-ing work.) I'm reluctant to admit it, but the sharing part is harder than I thought it'd be... There are some days that my ears just don't work. Today is one of them. It's like a kaleidoscope effect, and everything just sounds wrong or inverted or, um... kaleidoscopic. I can't make decisions on these days.

But I believe in this record, just like I believe in unicorns (they are fucking real, you guys), and I can report without hesitation that no funhouse-ear-effect has shaken that in the slightest.

And on good days, this recording sounds phenomenal. We rehearsed our balls off before going into the studio, and we played our balls off when we were in there. I think the chemistry of the ensemble has been captured. All the raw materials are there. The task now is to maintain that feel throughout overdubs and production, and mix the hell outta this bitch, while refining and perfecting each tune to its ideal form, inasmuch as such a thing is possible on this Earthly plane.

dimension sound
notes from Dimension Sound session, p1

dimension sound
page 2
schooltree recording at dimension sound
The experience was pretty good for everyone. (photo by Philip Doyle)

The tracks are in a raw state right now. We've been spending our time listening back, picking takes, comping when necessary. I've begun some minor editing. I've also done some quick-and-dirty in-the-box (ahem) mixing along the way to make everything more listenable while we take inventory; compression, eq, reverbs and delays, etc. This also helps me to map out some of the hardware processing I'll be doing once overdubs are finished.

My friends and past collaborators tend to eventually be made aware of certain traits of mine as an artist/producer: I'm a perfectionist, and I'm extremely private about works-in-progress. These are not always helpful things, and are probably pretty annoying to aforementioned collaborators. And even though I'd like to think I'm talented enough to merit tolerance, if not amnesty, of some eccentricities, I need to make some improvements on this. So I'm going to throw myself at this wall and see if I can break on through to the other side. Yeah.

I made a quick album preview yesterday with excerpts from all the tunes, flaws and all. I planned to post it today. And even though listening to it is making me want to stab myself in the eye, I'm going to do it. I AM DOING IT. It's all about expanding the comfort zone, right? BARF

They are not ready! I am not ready! Here we go.




Please spread the word about our Kickstarter campaign to make this album happen. 12 days left to go. Eep.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rainy Rules

Rawr. Billy Idol feels today is optimal for a wet wedding.

I was feeling kind of mopey today, what with it being so rainy and darker than midnight under a blanket in a black hole with velvet curtains directed by David Lynch (dark, right?) and all. You can just smell the anguish of weddings on rainy June Saturdays (which smells like sugar, beer, and wet taffeta, btw). After all, there's practically nothing more ironic*. Plus, nobody liked my joke about it being a nice day for a "wet wedding". At least not as much as I liked it. But that is often enough the case with my jokes.

Then I remembered the internet. "I will hang out with my friend the internet," I thought. I checked Twitter, which I do sporadically and not particularly strategically. I'm spending a little time working on my remedial social media skills every day and checking feverishly for results, but as my wry friend Brendan Burns points out, it's a little like going to the gym one day and afterwards being like "where are my MUSCLES?!" My muscles are en route. I must be patient.

Anyway, it was on Twitter that I discovered a nice little endorsement of my Kickstarter campaign (which I would be remiss if I let a day pass without mentioning) on an awesome music-nerd blog called Spinningplatters.com that happened a couple of days ago:

Amanda Palmer Has Enough Money: Here’s 5 Music Kickstarters to Support Now


D'oh! Better late (but not like "dead" late) than never, I'm excited to learn these guys exist, not to mention that they know that I exist.

And now I feel better. That is all.

*if by "ironic" you mean "nothing about this is ironic".

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kickstarter: Do I Have to Pay Taxes or What?


If you're anything like me, you didn't think about taxes before you started your Kickstarter project. When you wandered into the obligatory Amazon Payments Business account sign-up in blissful ignorance, you might have felt a slight twinge in your atrophied money-stuff-awareness gland. But it was only at the start of the dreaded tax profile information-extraction that questions began to arise. Questions like 
"Wait... what?" and
"Errrrr...?" 

Dumb-struck at the mention of a form, the 1099-K form, to be exact - at which point Amazon lets you know that they have to report all accounts exceeding $20,000 or 200 transactions to the IRS - you finally got around to doing a Google search for "kickstarter taxes," all the while toggling between tabs to check if Big Brother could somehow see you through the internet and judge your presumably protracted list of unknown transgressions against the government. But getting a straight answer about how to actually handle taxes with funds raised via Kickstarter wasn't easy. The authoritative results were sparse and vague, and otherwise, largely speculative. Kickstarter's FAQ essentially answered your question "why do I have to enter my tax information on Amazon?" with a resounding "because you have to." Even Amazon's copious FAQ on the details of its reporting regulations coldly turned away your question of the practical implications of this form like a coughing orphan in some city where there are lots of coughing orphans. The onus is on you, they implied, go wipe off your face and figure it out, you little scamp.

Okay, admittedly, taxes aren't my strong suit. Some of my extremely talented and put-together friends had already set up 501(c)s prior to beginning their projects (and therefore enjoyed tax-exempt status). But I imagine I represent some significant cross-section of the chronically disorganized starry-eyed-artist-trying-to-have-it-all contingent. So here are the results of my reading so far.

Precedent has yet to be established. The IRS hasn't published any specific guidance pertaining to funds raised via crowdfunding. A consensus, though, seems to be that this money needs to be reported one way or the other under pre-existing rules of small business operation. I changed my search keywords to the more-encompassing "crowdfunding taxes," and got some better results, including this informative blog post. Ultimately, there are three taxable ways crowd-sourced funds can be categorized: Sales Tax, Income Tax (most likely option), or Gifts (least likely). Dailycrowdsource.com adds Equity to this list, which seems to be the small business option, contingent upon the implementation of the JOBS Act.

So what are the real-world implications of this? If you report your funds as income, keeping diligent records of expenses (including donor rewards/incentives) those expenses will be tax-deductible, according to this helpful article. If the project operates at a loss (which mine is likely to, if it succeeds), you may not end up owing much at all.

So, there is paperwork. But there is also hope.

Was this helpful? Annoying? Too many words? In the wrong language? Tell me about your feelings and/or check out my Kickstarter campaign, still in progress.