Happy Pride! –  Online Celebrations in a COVID-19 World

To me there is nothing better than going to a Pride Parade and celebration. I attended my first Pride March and Pride celebration in Winnipeg in the mid 1990’s.  The parade was small because, Winnipeg’s out-gay community was pretty small at the time.  Back then there was a well established amount of homophobia in the city.  Even though Winnipeg had elected Glen Murray (Canada’s first openly-gay Mayor) in 1998 Winnipeg is a city in the Canadian Prairies and that area was somewhat conservative.  Everyone knows with time comes with change. The Winnipeg LGBTQ+ community has really grown and has been able to change the hearts and minds of those who were previously intolerant.  We’ve come a long way baby!

When I moved to Vancouver a few years later Pride took on a whole new meaning.  Vancouver is a much larger city and the gay scene was different.  First off there are a lot more gay bars and a lot more alternative night clubs that were gay-friendly. In the mid 2000’s I met Matthew Presidente through a friend I was seeing casually who was a manager at a gay bar called Numbers Cabaret. 

Numbers 2007

At the time Matthew was hosting and performing every Tuesday at Numbers and my friend said I should audition for Matthew’s show because he was always looking for new musicians to add to the show.  So, I decided to meet Matthew, audition, Matthew scheduled me to perform not too long after that and we have been friends and collaborators ever since.

 

Victoria Pride 2007

With encouragement and connections within the Vancouver Pride Society Matthew helped me get gigs to perform at the East Side Pride Celebration, New West Pride and the main Vancouver Pride celebration.

Vancouver Pride 2012

I would also back Matthew on guitar and vocals during his MANY Vancouver Pride performance slots over the years.

Performing at Pride with Matthew became an annual tradition and even when I lived in San Francisco I would travel to Vancouver for Pride to support Matthew. I also had the chance to perform with Matthew during the closing ceremony for the Out Games that were held in Vancouver in 2011, that was special! So, over the years I have looked forward to sharing the stage with him at this time of the year.

 

Out Games 2011

Now it’s 2020 and with the pandemic came the changes to the things that we would previously take for granted….this year’s Pride Parade and celebration.

Matthew reached out to me in early July. The show would go on.  Matthew said that he was just given the opportunity to do a pre-recorded set for the Calgary Pride online celebration and he would like for me to join him in a stripped-down performance of our song “Leather & Love”.  I told him I would be more than happy to do it.   

He also mentioned that he had decided to produce a “World is Watching- Post Pride Episode” and asked if I wanted to record a couple videos for it and I automatically said yes.  Matthew and I agreed that the perfect songs would be “Get Into The Smalltown Boy” (a clever Bronski Beat-Madonna mashup we created a few years ago) and “Love Machine” a blues/rock song I had written about picking up people in Bars that I was itching to turn into an electronic song.  I must say…this would be exciting!

We had already recorded an arrangement for “Get Into The Small Town Boy” a few years back. The beat for the early version came from a vintage Roland 303 GrooveBox.  I took it upon myself to create a fresh arrangement that had an electronic-disco feel to it. The new arrangement took a week to complete. I was happy with the arrangement we recorded a scratch track and sent it to Matthew to track his parts. Perfect!  Now I could work on Love Machine.

I began to work on the new arrangement for Love Machine  and then the unthinkable happened….we ended up being ordered by the Berlin Health Authority to be quarantined. Why? Because we were at a show at a bar on July 17th and someone at the show ended up testing positive for the Coronavirus 5 days later. We got tested and had to stay in quarantine from July 25th-July 31st so, we had a hell of a lot of time on our hands to finish the “Love Machine” arrangement, record, mix and and film videos for “Leather & Love” plus the “Get Into the Smalltown Boy” mashup.


“Love Machine” was finished on July 26th so, we would be ready to (once again) rearrange the apartment, so we could convert the living room into a mini-film studio to begin filming Monday, July 26th.  All of the songs would be shot at night so there would be a “club feel” to each video also, it’s easier to control lighting when the sun isn’t involved.  The shooting and  editing schedule was as follows:

  • July 27th from 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.: Shoot video & record vocals for “Love Machine”
  • July 28th from 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.: Shoot video & record vocals for “Leather & Love”
  • July 29th from 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.: Edit Video and final vocal for “Leather & Love”, send audio and video to Matthew for his final edit for the Pride Calgary video
  • July 29th from 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.: Shoot video & record vocals for “Get Into The Smalltown Boy” & shoot B-Camera footage for “Love Machine”
  • July 30th-August 1st – Mix Matthew & Tara‘s vocal tracks for “Get Into The Smalltown Boy” & “Love Machine” plus, edit the videos for each song.  
  • August 2nd at 5:00 a.m. – Finish final edits, video rendering and submit videos to Matthew.

Once again Don and I could not watch Matthew’s “WIW-Post-Pride” episode when the premier happened on Monday August 3rd at 8:00 p.m. (PST) due to the 9 hour time difference but, we were able to watch it on Tuesday, August 4th and we loved it!  Everyone did some fantastic performances (you must watch the Kylie Minogue Medley – Matthew Presidente & Wanting Moi!)

So Happy Pride Everyone where ever in the world you may be!

“What do we want?  Cocktails!  

When do we want them?Now!

Why do we want them? Because it’s 5 O’clock somewhere!”

-Anonymous 

Cheers!

TCT

 

Happy Canada Day! –  Online Celebrations in a COVID-19 World

Happy Canada Day!

To all of my international followers July 1st, Canada Day,  is the celebration of my birth nation’s birthday. It’s a day that is full of music, fun, friends and fireworks.  In Berlin the Canadian Embassy and an organization called the DKG (Deutsch-Kanadische Gesellschaft/German-Canadian Society) have put together large Canada Day celebrations over the years.  There are usually a few thousand people that attend. You can find Canadian favourites like Poutine (care of The Poutine Kitchen), Montreal Style Smoked Meat Sandwiches and you can wash the food down with a spicy caesar  or Canadian beers like Molson, Labatt and Mousehead.  There will also be Canadian comics and musicians that would entertain the audience to fill the afternoon.  This year’s Canada Day celebration in Berlin would be different because of the Corona Virus…this year’s celebration would be online.

In early June I was approached by the DKG to do a video for the online Canada Day celebration.  The song had to be family friendly (gulp) with some French lyrics if possible.  I thought to myself that my song “Le Louvre” would be perfect!  As an extra special feature I wanted to have Matthew Presidente from Vancouver play keys and  backing vocals on the song 🙂 

I reached out to Matthew to let him know about the Canada-Day in Germany gig and wanted to know if he would be able to record  his performance so I can add it to the ‘Le Louvre” video.   He said; “Yes” right away and then asked me if I could do a Canadian cover song for his “World is Watching – Canada Day” Youtube episode and I said; “I would love to record Ahead By A Century by the Tragically Hip”.  Now Don and I would have to shoot two videos which wasn’t a terrible task for us for we had shot so many concert videos for the “World is Watching” YouTube series.   Piece of cake!

On Sunday June 14th we prepared and sent a scratch track to Matthew.  His turn around is the stuff of legend!  He recorded the vocal and keys tracks, shot the video and sent the files back to us the next day. 

On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 16th (my birthday) we proceed to rearrange our 60 square meter (600 square feet) apartment to make room for lighting, 2 stationary cameras and a Candian themed backdrop with a bottle of red wine as a prop.   I wore a hometown black “Winnipeg” t-shirt and a Beret on my head.  As soon as we finished shooting a few off-the-floor takes that we felt good about we shut our film set down and we departed to the pub to celebrate my birthday.   The rest of the week Don would concentrate on mixing the vocals,  instruments and then editing the video.

The next song/video to be recorded and shot is a cover of the Tragically Hip’s 1996 song “Ahead by a Century”.  I must admit that I have never been big fan of “The Hip” (it wasn’t my type of music at that time).   I began to gain  appreciation for them when living in San Francisco  I watched “The Hip’s” final farewell concert at an Irish bar in Noe Valley (a district in San Francisco) that hosted a special Canada night for the global CBC broadcast.
The concert was on August 20th, 2016. The crowd in the bar was so emotional during the show and I admit I cried with the audience. During the show I looked forward to watching The Hip play two songs for the last time:  “New Orleans is Sinking” and “Ahead by a Century”.  It was a truly Canadian moment for us while living in the United States.

The original song is a very simple stripped-down song so, I decided this time I would build an arrangement on my own from scratch.   I didn’t want my arrangement for this song to be a “copy” of the original but, close enough and to add something of my own to it.  My arrangement had to honour Gord Downie  and respect  the original. Rest in peace Gord.  I sent the arrangement with a scratch vocal to Matthew and once again he had sent his vocal, piano and video files to us in less than twenty-four hours.  

Next we proceeded to tear apart our apartment to make room for lighting, two stationary cameras and this time we did a Pride themed backdrop.  We shot my off-the-floor vocal and guitar and next Don worked  feverishly to mix the track and edit the video.  We had the final cut ready and sent to Matthew within days.

 

Matthew’s “WIW-Canada Day Episode” (link below) would premier on Monday, June 29th at 8:00 p.m. (PDT) meant that it would air in Central European Time (CET) Tuesday, July 30th at 5:00 a.m. so, needles to day Don and I could not watch the show and participate in the live chat in real time.  We watched it the afternoon of Tuesday the 30th and we loved it!  It was so wonderful to see all our of our singer/songwriter friends doing their covers/interpretations of famous Candian songs. 🙂

On July 1st we watched my first musical contribution to a Canada day in Germany
(online) celebration!  The video for “Le Louvre” was one of the last performances before the online feed went to the “United we Stream” DJ set.  I must say Ben McLean was a wonderful online host and I was so very happy to be a part of the celebration.

As a side note…in July the DKG reached out to me in regards to doing an interview for their online/email publication and I gladly agreed to participate. You can see the interview on the DKG Website

It’s time for a cocktail. 

Cheers!

TCT  

“This is How We Like To Play” ;-)

Hey there!

Saved by a hair appointment, no more COVID-19 roots! 

I decided to write this blog entry after “World is Watching” episode 08 (Season Finale) premiered because I am gearing this post to be more like a postmortem/reflection of the whole house concert and collaboration process. Here we go!

The songs I chose to perform for the “World is Watching” episode 8 (aka The Season Finale) were “Love Will Tear Us Apart” a Joy Division cover and “Leather & Love – Berlin Darkroom Dance Mix Featuring Matthew Presidente.  The reason why these songs were chosen is because both songs have a long and vast history with myself, Matthew Presidente and Don.  Don has had a concept for shooting “Love Will Tear Us Apart” for a long time and this was the perfect time for Don’s visual concept to come to life.

My love for Joy Division & New Order…a brief history.

 “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is a song by the Manchester Post Punk band Joy Division.  I think I first heard the song in 1988 on a mixed tape that was given to me by a friend and coincidentally the tape also had a New Order song called “Blue Monday” on it.  At this time in my life I was getting these great mixtapes with bands like Depeche Mode, Erasure, Yaz (Yazoo if you’re outside of Canada), The Smiths, The Cure and S-Express and I was falling in love with alternative/electronic music. When I had heard both “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Blue Monday” I fell in love with them immediately not knowing that the two bands were related to each other.  

I discovered the history of both these bands in 1990 and It drew me ever closer to what all the members would do.  I have been a fan of all members in and out of the two bands.  Peter Hook would do projects like “Revenge”, “Monaco” and later on “Peter Hook & the Light” & also also recently collaborated with Gorrillaz.   Bernard Sumner would be a part of the projects “Electronic”, Bad Lieutenant, and he would also do guest vocals for electronic bands 808 State & the Chemical Brothers.  Stephen Morris & Gillian Gilbert would also do a separate project called “The Other Two”.

As a side note…Peter Hook has not been a part of New Order for years.  I have met him on a few occasions at his Peter Hook & the Light shows and at a book tour stop in San Francisco for “Substance: Inside New Order”.  I have seen New Order with and without Peter Hook as a member.  I have not met the other members of New Order (I would like to…some day.).

In 2008 Photographer, Video and Film Director Anton Corbjon released a film about Joy Division called “Control”.  In my opinion the film is an absolute masterpiece and after I watched the film I knew I had to cover “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.   

In regards to covering a much beloved and sacred song like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (also like “Enjoy the Silence”) I felt I had to dive deep into what was in my own heart.  Would the song be like the original which is a song you can dance to at 120 bpm or would it be a melancholy slow ballad to reflect my feelings about a brilliant lyricist taken from us too soon.  In the end I would go with a reflective melancholy ballad.  I proposed this idea to Matthew and he was totally onboard to play piano/synth and backing vocals on the cover.   When I brainstormed my idea for the cover with Don he immediately had a concept. For you see, Don is a guy with an eye for design. 🙂

Don’s had a design concept for the video.  I would be dressed in black and lit to appear in void.  Matthew would be lit in a similar manner and added to the video like a ghost.  Since we currently don’t have ability to rent spaces due to COVID-19 we would have to settle with our at home DIY film studio!

Don moved our living room furniture for space, rigged the space with a series of lighting stands and truss poles and hung black curtains as a backdrop.  We set the mic stand in the center, riggaed a spotlight on me.  I was dressed in a two piece outfit to look like a solid back gown, long back gloves and a small hat with a mesh “black widow” face cover attached. 

We filmed multiple takes of my live performance.  Once again we selected the best single take and sent it to Matthew to record his parts. Don spoke to Matthew and described the lighting and “stage” setup required so he could match his living room film set to ours.  

When Matthew sent his footage to Don we immediately looked at the video and as usual Matthew did not disappoint.  The feel from my footage and his matched perfectly and then it was time for Don to Utilize Final Cut Pro to edit it all together.

The end result was brilliant and haunting.  

The second song I had to film for episode 8 was “Leather & Love”.  So, Matthew Presidente and I wrote “Leather & Love” and he released it on his 2017 album titled “Every Single Sin”.  The song is about Matthew’s first adventure he encountered (with Don & I) at the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco.  

The sound of the original song on the album has a Roland 303 GrooveBox, piano, synth supported with a little electric guitar (from me).  The vocal is a he/she duet. We managed to record the track in our home studio and it sat on the shelf for a while. In 2017 Matthew released the original version of Leather and Love as part of his album “Every Single Sin”… Seem appropriate.

In 2019 Matthew released the album “Matthew Presidente with The Boys”. The album is a compilation of Matthew’s favorite songs he has written over the years.  The songs were re-recorded with the band and “Leather & Love” was rerecorded and added to the album.  The album has a “rock” sound which is a little of a departure from his previous work.

That album  “Matthew Presidente with The Boys” got me thinking about rerecording “Leather & Love” with a twist.  My plan was to rewrite some of the lyrics to reflect our times together in Berlin and rerecord the song as a dance mix. I approached Matthew with the idea and once again he loved the idea and he was totally onboard!   After reworking the song it was ready to be rerecorded & filmed for Episode 8 and as a plus, the finger I sliced up a few weeks ago was 95% healed so, I could play guitar again. 

Once again Don staged the apartment accordingly and I dressed up like I would for a night at the KitKat Club in Berlin.  We recorded and filmed our part, sent the files to Matthew via Dropbox.

Matthew sent back his recording and video footage so, Don could work his Final Cut Pro magic.  Matthew also wanted to do his version of Leather & Love with the Band so, it was agreed that episode 8 would open with Leather and Love (with the band) and my version of “Leather and Love – Berlin Darkroom Mix (featuring Matthew Presidente)” would be the closing song for the episode.

 

 

“World is Watching” episode 08 (Season Finale) premiered on Youtube Monday, May 11th at 8:00 p.m. (pacfic) and due to the 9 hour time difference the episode premiered in Berlin on Tuesday, May 12th at 5:00a.m. (CET). 

The Sun Rising in the East!

Don and I made the decision to stay awake and watch the premier with everyone on Canada’s West Coast to watch the show and participate in the Youtube live chat.  This decision might have messed up our sleep for the week but, it was totally worth it.  It was really wonderful being a part of the live Youtube chat with all of our friends in Vancouver who were also watching the premier.  

Coming to the end of the show after “Leather & Love” played there was an unexpected encore by Matthew.  Matthew’s father had passed away a few days before episode 8’s premier and Matthew is a person that will push forward because his mantra is “the show must go on.”  On the piano solo Matthew played Simon & Garfunkel’s song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and dedicated it to his dearly departed father Captain Peter Tobias Presidente.  Don and I knew Matthew’s father and we really liked him so, at 6:30 am (Berlin time) Matthew’s performance brought us to tears.

To close a moment of time in this blog…

I have to say I really enjoyed participating in Matthew President’s the “World is Watching” house concert Series. It’s been a lot of fun recording, filming and collaborating. Don has really enjoyed filming, producing and editing. I have been so productive in the past 8 weeks and I could not ask for anything better to do during a pandemic. You can see the full series here on YouTube.

Now that season one has come to a close I am looking at starting my own at home Youtube variety show.  I am currently contemplating a few formats that are on the table.  I will keep all of you posted. 🙂

So, for all of you out there that decided to take a moment to read this blog I hope you all stay safe and stay healthy!

It’s time for a gin martini… Cheers!

TCT  

 

Covering a Depeche Mode Standard: “Enjoy the Silence”

Life in self isolation in the time of the Corona Virus continues in Berlin.  I have adopted a hybrid French Ninja look when outside the home since it complies with the mask requirements.  As you know by now I have been involved with a home performance YouTube project created by my dear friend and fellow musician Matthew Presidente .  Don and I usually can’t watch the premieres of the “World is Watching” Youtube because, it launches Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. Pacific  which, for us, is Tuesday at 5:00 a.m. in Berlin.  We are NOT morning people and 5:00 am is when we like to go to be and not wake up! Those who know us can attest to our vampire hours. The nine hour time difference makes creating & collaborating with Matthew (who is located on the West Coast of Canada) easy because I am literally always ahead.  But again I digress.  So long story short Don and I will watch each new “World is Watching” episode on Tuesday at noon with a coffee in hand.  

On Tuesday April 28th as Don and I were watching episode 6 and the Youtube live chat during the show.  It’s always fun to watch the comments people make on the live chat as they are watching the show.  Most of the people watching & participating on the live chat are our friends in Vancouver (we miss them a lot).  During the live chat close to the end of the show we see a request for some “Synth Pop”.  The conversation went a little like this:

“Glauber Baldo​: Try some Synthpop, like Depeche Mode, VNV Nation or my favorite New Order

Matthew Presidente​: Depeche Mode is a great idea – – – @Tara?

Vereor11: ​Yes! this is my depeche mode request!

If you don’t already know, I am a HUGE Depeche Mode fan.  I have been a fan since 1988 and to date I have seen the band 14 times live. I have seen Dave Gahan solo “Paper Monsters” tour (2003) and I attended Alan Wilder’s Recoil Selected tour in Seattle.  I have also met past band members: Alan Wilder & Vince Clark and I have met current members: Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher.  The only member of DM I have not yet met is the elusive Dave Gahan.

In the past I have toyed with the idea of forming a Depeche Mode tribute project or covering Depeche Mode songs, getting the rights and releasing them.  This request made me wrestle with these eternal questions: What Depeche Mode song should I cover?  Should I cover a song that I love but, people would not know or should I do what I would call a “Depeche Mode Standard”?  In the end I went with covering the  standard that almost everyone would know “Enjoy the Silence”. In my humble opinion “Violator” is the BEST Depeche Mode album and “Enjoy the Silence” is the BEST Depeche Mode single (I love it so much I even have the Violator Rose surrounded by a mustard yellow tattooed on my back. I know that many fans may or will disagree with me but, I stand by my statement. 

Covering a favorite band always makes me nervous. First off I want to make sure I can do the song vocally and “Enjoy the Silence” is one of the few Depeche Mode songs sung by Dave Gahan I can actually sing.  You see Dave Gahan is a Baritone (two octaves lower than middle C) and I am a Mezzo-Soprano (A3 just below middle C-A5 two octaves higher than Middle C) so, for most of the Depeche Mode songs that are sung by him are usually too low for me to match up in a mid to Soprano range. For some reason “Enjoy the Silence” is one of those few songs sung by a man who has a thick baritone voice that fits my vocal range. 

The next thing that makes me nervous is arranging the song.  In my opinion I want the song to sound close to the original but also not be a carbon copy of the original.  I also want to choose sounds that emulate the song that don’t sound cheezie (I’d love to be able to find the original sounds/samples used on the song but, I don’t have the time for that).  I started arranging the song by choosing the beat first, the sounds for the bass melody line second, and the synth instruments that give the sound a rich feeling after that.  That took about two days to complete.  My next step was to record a scratch vocal track with the beats that I could send to Matthew so, he could lay down his piano track, backing vocal and film his best take to send back as a package to Don and myself.  This is the process for all our songs we have been producing for the show.

The next stage was for me to record my lead vocal & film the performance.   For my costume I decided to emulate the late 80’s/early 90’s fashion meaning: I dressed in black, wore one of my Depeche Mode concert shirts (it’s from the Global Spirit tour), got out a Leather Blazer style jacket, loaded up with all of my Depeche Mode Pins and last but not least I got my “Martin Gore’esque” black bowler hat out not only to have that “look” but also to hide my Corona Virus Quarantine hair (oh my god do I need a haircut.).

As I got my look together Don transformed our apartment’s living room into our Corona Virus Quarantine recording/filming studio.  Because this was a day shoot we wanted the look of the studio to focus on the synthesizers and midi controllers because of the songs Syth primary sound.  

After we had finished setting the stage and I was in costume and ready to go.  Filming my lead vocal and syth performance took 7 takes in total to perfect.  After recording and filming Don and I will sit down and choose the best  performance to use for the final mix.  This time it was take number 7 (lucky 7!).  For this and all the other songs in the project we use a single “off the floor” take.  What that means is we record the vocal and instrument as well as the video in a single take.  We do multiple takes and pick the best one to use for the final video. No editing, overdubs or mixing between takes.  This adds to the authenticity of the performance of a “live” show. Now Don will do a final mix of all the audio, midi and vocal tracks including Matthews and then sync the tracks to the video.  Syncing and editing video is time consuming and takes a lot of patience.  Don uses Final Cut Pro for editing video and this time Don was having fun playing around with all of the visual filters the software has to offer.  After has completed all of the video editing we send the finished video to Matthew so he can add it into the show.  In the end I really hope the audience likes my version of “Enjoy the Silence”.  I plan on releasing the version in the coming weeks.

Other songs I participated in included “Homo for the Holidays” and “Hey Jude” by the Beatles.  Both songs had been requested. Hey jude was requested by a fan but, “Homo for the Holidays” was requested by someone close to Matthew…his Father.

Matthew’s Father is currently in a managed care facility in the Lower Mainland.  Because of the Coronavirus lockdown Matthew had not been able to see his father but, there are staff members of the facility that have access to iPads & wifi so, the staff would bring and iPad to Matthew’s father’s room and screen “World is Watching”.   After watching an episode Matthew’s father requested a Christmas song so, we decided we should do a “tongue-in-cheek” queer Christmas song we wrote years ago called “Homo for the Holidays”.   We got our Santa hats out and “ham & cheesed” the whole performance up.  It was a hoot to record and film (I even got the triangle out)

‘World is Watching” episode 07 premiered on Monday, May 4th (May the 4th Be With You!).

So, for all of you out there that decided to take a moment to read this blog I hope you all stay safe and stay healthy!

It’s time for a glass of wine and decide if I should get Don to cut my hair!

Cheers!

TCT  

Why? Why? Why…am I so accident prone? And “Tequila Boom Boom!”

The second last week of April (the week of April 20th) I was excited and I wanted to start the week strong.  On Monday april 20th I woke up early, had breakfast, did a workout, watched a video for an online technical music production course I am taking through Coursera (I highly recommend their online education courses).  I felt so proactive I wanted to shout out; “Everythings Coming Up Tara!” and then the unthinkable happened….I damn well cut the top of the middle finger of my left hand with a dull serrated knife.  And this cut was deep.  


As I am over the kitchen sink screaming, running the wound under cold water Don runs into the kitchen, gets me to calm down and gets our first aid kit.  I have to say Don was awesome!  He got me to apply pressure to the wound, he bandaged it up and then he got online to search for a clinic for me to go to so, I could see a doctor because I could possibly need stitches.  Lets be honest no one wants to go to a hospital during a pandemic so a medical physician can look at at deep cut…there are more pressing medical issues in a pandemic.  I digress….

Don has been to a really nice (private) medical clinic in the Ku’damm area so, he reached out to the clinic to inquire if they would see me.  They said yes, so we hopped on the S-bahn and made our way to the clinic.  When we arrived, I filled out the necessary paperwork, and the receptionist told me the wait would be an hour (as a side note…I have waited longer to see doctors at a clinic..I’m Canadian!  I’m kidding…I love Canada’s healthcare system.) so, I waited patiently to see a physician.   When I saw the doctor she was nice, spoke excellent english and as she took a look at the wound (which had stopped bleeding) she said; “I don’t think this will need stitches but since this is not my specialty, I’ll call our in-house surgeon to take a look at it for a second opinion.”.  The surgeon came down, she looked at it and confirmed that I did not need stitches.  So, they bandaged me up, told me not to use the finger (meaning…I can’t play the guitar”) and sent me on my way.  

Did this hamper my ability to play the guitar? Yes.  Can I play another instrument with my right hand? Yes! I am musically saved because I can play my synthesizer and a… 

Matthew reached out to us that even because, he saw photos of my bandaged hand plastered all over my social media.  We had to figure out what songs we could do together for “World is Watching” episode 6 and since I could not play the guitar we would have to strategize a workaround.  Matthew suggested I could sing backing vocals on one of his songs called “Why Why Why” which is a beautiful song about riding a BC Ferry back to Vancouver from Vancouver Island and the beauty of British Columbia (I have always loved singing that song!).  Don suggested we try to find a triangle for me to play  and we actually found a friend who could donate one for this musical cause.  Ta Daa ships bell!


The original song I could contribute for the episode would would be “Facciola State of Mind (Sticky Dance Floor Mix)”. Why?  It’s a dance track and I would only have to do a keyboard line because, the majority of the track is in the can.  Even Matthew would only have to contribute cool sounds to the song.   Now for the story behind the “Tequila Boom Boom!”. 

 

“Facciola State of Mind” is a song I wrote for a friend named Aurora Facciola and she owns an Italian wine bar/restaurant in Kreuzberg called “Facciola” and marketing hashtag for her establishment is #FacciolaStateofMind.  Sometimes she’ll have a food theme night and on one particular evening the menu theme was Mexican and when you do Mexican food you MUST include shots of tequila!  Don and I were there for Mexican night and as I consumed tequila a lyric came to my head; “Auroa shouts boom boom, drink tequila boom boom” and I came  up with a short melody for the lyric.  Auroa liked it so, at the end of the evening we (the people & staff in the wine bar) were all singing “Auroa shouts boom boom drink,  tequila boom boom”.  The lyric stuck!

A few months later (around January 2019) Facciola was celebrating it’s 4th year anniversary so, I decided to write a song called “Facciola State of Mind” as a gift.  The original version of the song (available on all streaming platforms) is very rock/blues oriented and half way through the  “Tequila Boom Boom” is a highlight of the song.  For Facciola’s 5 year anniversary (January 2020) I decided to make “Facciola State of Mind” a dance track as a gift.  So, the song would be perfect addition to the “World is Watching You” set list!  For the video shoot I shot tequila and Matthew did a few shots of tequila. And we even got Aurora and her fiancé Anna to film themselves doing shots so, Don could edit them into the video.

As Matthew and I were promoting teaser for “World is Watching” Episode 6 we suggested all who watch the premier on Youtube should do tequila shots with us!  Episode 6 premiered on Youtube on Monday, April 27th and the drinking shots concept was a hit!  Talk about interactive.

 

I am still pissed  I cut my hand but, I am glad I could share this story with you.  So, for all of you out there that decided to take a moment to read this blog I hope you all stay safe and stay healthy!

It’s time for a glass of wine and search for a new hair salon via google. 😉

Cheers!

TCT  

 

A Tribute to a Life Taken From Us Too Soon

As I mentioned in my last post we lost a dear friend of ours named Kacie Wallace (12/19/1986-04/12/2020).  Don and I learned about her death on April 13th and in the days that passed it was revealed (by a member’s post) that she had stage 4 liver disease and she had died in her sleep.  

My heart has felt heavy all week because she was taken from us much too young.  But, she’s not the only friend of mine that has passed away far too young due to natural causes, missadventure (a.k.a accidental overdose) or suicide.  I have known far too many people that are now ghosts that walk among us.

This week’s “World is Watching You” (Episode 05) is taking a more somber note.  For the tribute Matthew Presidente is going to compile video footage & photographs from the shows he & Kacie performed over the years.  He also wants to do a version of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and he wants many of the artists that have performed on his show to sing a verse of the song, sing
the choruses, submit the files and footage  to him and he’ll edit it all together.  This takes me back to the shows we did together when we (Don & I) lived in Vancouver because,  Hallelujah was our go-to all inclusive encore song. 

The song I chose for episode 05 is a song I wrote not too long after Don and I moved to San Francisco titled I’m “Only Human”.  It was actually the first song I wrote in San Francisco and it’s a song about leaving all of your loved ones behind because you have the chance to embark on a new opportunity & adventure.  In this case it was my small tribute to Kacie Wallace because she & I  did lose touch for a few years when Don & I lived in San Francisco.  I am glad Kacie and I were able to reconnect in 2019.   I also decided to sing a version of the show’s opening song called “The World is Watching You”.

I have found that during these times where it feels like “Death is Everywhere” (credit- Martin L. Gore from Depeche Mode) sometimes you have to take a look around and love those around you. So, for all of you out there that decided to take a moment to read this blog I hope you all stay safe and stay healthy!

It’s time for a glass of wine. 😉

Cheers!

TCT  

 

The Show Must Go On!

Filming and recording songs for Matthew Presidente’s weekly at home concert series “World is Watching” has been a delightful project to be a part of and a great distraction away from the Corona Virus & isolation.  The notion that two (sometimes) three songs have to be recorded for a deadline has given Don & myself reasons not to sit on the couch and “twiddle our thumbs”. 

This week we are filming & tracking songs for “World is Watching” episode 04!  The songs are “Under the Midnight Sky” (an original by myself) and “Sucha Shame” (a Matthew Presidente original off of his 2015 release “Every Single Sin”).  Matthew will be backing me on piano & vocals and I will be backing Mathhew with Guitar & vocals. 

To record and film Don literally turns our apartment into a filming and recording studio.  During a shoot Don will set up two stationary cameras (for two separate angles) while a
third camera is handheld, he arranges the perfect lighting for the mood of the song and also, to match the lighting in Matthew’s apartment for seamless editing.  We really want you (the audience) to feel like I am in Matthew’s apartment in Vancouver performing together.  Don also makes it so recording the song is as seamless as it sounds.  He sets up my recording/stage area so my microphone, in-ear monitors and guitar are connected to his recording workstation for recording. After a couple shows he has the set up down to a science. 

The process of long distance collaboration has been wonderful.   When we are working on one of my songs I’ll have the track ready, we will record & film my lead, choose the best take, send the Logic music files & video files to Matthew by using “Dropbox” (it’s so easy).  When Matthew receives the files he’ll record his backing vocal, piano track & film the take and then he’ll send it back to us for editing.  After we have edited my song & video we’ll send the final cut back to Matthew so, he can add the song/video to the show. The process usually takes 8-10 hours to complete.  The process is reversed when I am performing backing on one of his tracks.

I know Episode 4 will be fantastic!  Also,  today my online “Tip Jar” has been launched via Paypal!  If you like my work please donate.  Links to the are available on my website and my Soundcloud artist page. 

On a sad note on April 13th, 2020 we received news that our friend and fellow performer Kacie Wallace passed away (not COVID-19 related).  She was a fantastic jazz singer and a wonderful person.  I shared many Vancouver stages with her  and she will be missed.    

As a side note: Since Kacie Wallace’s death was so sudden a tribute could not be added to “World is Watching You” episode 04 so, a tribute to her will be added to “World is Watching You” episode 05.  

So, for all of you out there that decided to take a moment to read this blog I hope you all stay safe and stay healthy!

It’s time for a glass of wine. 😉

Cheers!

TCT  

 

The First Weeks in Social Isolation

With Berlin in full social distancing and quarantine mode options to perform live have become  non-existent. Fortunately with a home studio and a partner who is a total techie the possibilities to make music and videos were endless.

Matthew Presidente, one of my best friends & favourite musicians to collaborate with, decided to start a concert series on Youtube called “World is Watching”.  The concept for this weekly Youtube series is to collaborate and do duets with artists/musicians and connect with audiences  The show is pre-recorded and video edited since there are a lot of people involved each week and a no budget facebook live stream can be unreliable and very poor quality.  Matthew reached out to me mid-March to be a part of the show and I immediately said yes.  So, Matthew began working on “World is Watching” in Vancouver on March 18th. Don and I quickly converted our apartment in Berlin into a recording/filming studio to record & film my backing tracks for two of Matthew’s songs “Gracious” & “Valentines Day”. All of the artists/musical guests invited to participate put a little elbow grease and love into the project!  “World is Watching” Episode 01 premiered on Matthew President’s Youtube Monday, March 23rd at 8:00 p.m. (Pacific).

 

At the same time our friends Steffen Roll & Nina Severin from “Only You Interviews” decided to reach out to the Berlin creative community in regards to starting a new interview series on artists in isolation. This interview series is focusing on how people in different communities are coping with the new reality that comes with a pandemic, isolation and quarantine.  Both Steffen & Nina reached out to me to do an interview and (of course) I said yes.  My interview titled Tara C. Taylor | “because that artist is hungry” | #corona premiered on Youtube on Wednesday, April 1st!

On April 1st Don and I got back to work on three songs for “World is Watching” episode 03. This time Matthew collaborated with backing vocals & piano on “Le Louver” (an original by me),  Please, Please, Please Let me get what I want (a cover by The Smiths) and I tracked backing vocals for an original song by Matthew titled “Glamour”.   Needless to say there is a great deal of effort to produce three videos with multiple camera angles and live off the floor recording with people on two different continents! Don figures it takes about 8-10 hours per final song.  Once again all of the artists/musical guests invited to participate put a ton of work and love into the project and it premiered on Youtube on Monday, April 6th at 8:00 p.m. (pacific).

It’s time for a glass of wine. 😉

Cheers and stay healthy!

 

 

My Blog for the New Order – Isolation

Welcome to my blog!  

I have wanted to write a blog for a while and I feel that during this time of isolation due to Coronavirus/COVID-19 would be a good moment to blog about my creative activities, my thoughts & feelings. All this on my website, my platform free of advertising, “news” feeds, privacy breaches, personal data harvesting and clickbait!

I hope you take the time to join me on this introspective & creative journey.

A little backstory…..

2020 started out as an optimistic year.  I had a few gigs lined up, I was sending application packages out to various music festivals and there were plans in the works to tour parts of my home country Canada in the summer.  Then…everything changed.

Don  (my husband/Sound Engineer/partner in crime) and I were in self imposed isolation that started at the beginning of March due to a (non-coronavirus) nasty cold virus we both had. Around mid-March we were over our colds we actually had a chance to meet go out for beers and food with a friend at The Lir Pub one of our favourite local pubs in the Tiergarten-Mitte area in Berlin.

The  city was uneasy with the news of the pandemic spreading but life was still somewhat normal. We did notice that the pub had fewer guests and at around midnight the city
decided to notify bars that thye could only have 50 guests. Lockdown was starting to pick-up pace.

 

The next night I performed at the Tiki Heart Cocktail Bar & Cafe in Kreuzberg (it was a really fun show! Also, if you are on Facebook the performance was live streamed by Pet Rocks
Music). That would be my last show in Berlin as the city’s lockdown was certain.

 

Since the lockdown the gigs I have scheduled have been cancelled and the majority of the festivals I had applied to have been cancelled indefinitely.  Also, I had been planning on travelling to Canada for a short tour would not be happening due to quarantine restrictions.

So, what does one do when the bars are closed, stages are silent, isolation is mandated, travel is restricted and the world as we know it has shut down? You connect with your other creative friends online and you improvise!  

As the saying goes: “The Show Must Go On”

Words that I live by.

Stay healthy and be safe.

Prost!