LIVE FREE OR DIE- my motto for my 28th year of life.
I promised myself that when I hit 28 I would never compromise myself again for anyone. So as I start this new album cycle, I’m the most excited I’ve ever been to create, because this time it’s going to be an outpouring of my purest art and authentic self, both musically and visually.
As a young malleable female artist, I fell victim to people in the biz who said things like, “you should be darker,” or, “sing harder,” or, “dress sexier,” or, “dress more feminine,” or, “sing happier songs,” or of course my favorite, “we need a radio smash.”
But I’m too old for that bullshit now, and fortunately just in time for my 28th birthday, I got the blessing from my team to do whatever the fuck I want. :-D
Sundance film festival overwhelmed Park City, UT, the city in which I reside, filling the streets with the Hollywood I had moved here to escape. After multiple performances and gifting lounges, I was exhausted and ready to hole up again in my cozy mountain home while the town continued in its frenzy.
My agent called inviting me to a dinner, which I initially turned down, but then she explained that photographer and film maker Anton Corbijn would be there, someone she thought I should know. Knowing the legendary talent that he is, I reconsidered, but I was still on the fence and leaning towards a fall onto my soft bed. I was leaving the following morning for a long, multi city trip including Detroit, LA, Hawaii, and New York, and I hadn’t packed a single thing. When my agent called back a few minutes later to inform me that Philip Seymour Hoffman would be there, my balance on that fence shifted and I fell right back onto the annoyingly busy Sundance streets. Not many people have the power to pull me away from bed like that. But, on the short list of my favorite movies of all time, there is one called “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” which is made so unrelentingly suspenseful by Hoffman’s guilt ridden character. Then of course there was his stunning Oscar winning performance as “Capote,” among many other characters including his often times smaller supporting roles in which he always managed to steal the show. Being such a huge fan of Hoffman’s, I didn’t want to miss the chance to meet him. I’m so glad I did too, because little did I know it would be my only chance to meet him.
I sat towards the middle of the table, Hoffman and his crew to the left, my crew to the right. I’m naturally shy and didn’t want to impose in conversation, so I kept to myself and to my crew all of dinner. As we walked out I was kicking myself for not introducing myself the WHOLE dinner, and now the night was over. Idiot. My agent asked if I got a chance to meet him and I said no, so she briefly introduced me. We shook hands and kindly said hello, but I knew that was it, I wasn’t going to have the introspective arty conversation with him I had been hoping for. Then something strange happened. Just after shaking hands, we turned to see that all of our people had left us standing there, alone together. Awkward, I thought. He was actually the one to break the awkward moment and asked me what I was doing at Sundance. We conversed for a few minutes, and he didn’t know me from Adam but he seemed to be more interested in what I had going on than talking about himself. When I told him I’d be on a plane to Detroit in the morning to work with Eminem, his eyes lit up. Our conversation was stunted when a mob of fans slowly creeped up around us. Someone asked him for a picture, and judging by the crowd behind them, wisely he declined. But a second person approached for a picture, which he took reluctantly, and as he suspected as soon as he was willing to take one picture, EVERYONE wanted a picture. Of course no one recognized me, so I instinctively went into security mode and started shuffling him out of the mob. Spotting and reuniting with my manager in the midst, together we hustled him into my white suburban that my assistant had just pulled up. He sat in my truck escaping the cold and hectic streets, and waited a while until his ride finally arrived. When they did, he turned to us and said, “You guys are saints for this,” then exited the vehicle. Not exactly the encounter I had been expecting, but then again it never is, is it? No more was really said or thought about that night, but I was happy to have had that experience.
Two weeks later as I slept in Hawaii on vacation, my mind a million miles away from anything work related, I had a dream. In my dream, I was in a coffee shop with Hoffman, and he was asking me for my phone number. It felt like another real life encounter, as if we had run into each other again and decided to exchange contact information this time.
When I awoke from the dream, I reached for my phone as usual to see what emails and texts I had missed during the night. There was only a single email from a friend, with the subject, “Philip Seymour Hoffman Found Dead.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. I can’t help but wonder why I dreamed about him that night. Was it that he visited me after he died? Do I have some kind of psychic power?And whatever the cause of my dream, is there a deeper meaning? The existentialist in me awakens as the great Philip Seymour Hoffman rests in peace.
Since 2010, I’ve been very curious about how I would feel about going into 2014… and now that it’s here, I feel extremely excited. For me, 2014 is all about freedom.
You see, in 2010 when high profile music opportunities came flooding back into my life, I made a pact to myself that I would embrace these opportunities and give them 100% of my energy, even if I had to make some compromises because I knew that if I DIDN’T try my best, I would resent myself. I also knew how rare it was that anyone ever gets a 2nd chance, and I didn’t take that lightly. However, in that pact, I gave myself a deadline. I said to myself that regardless of what point I am at in my career, by the time I turn 28, I am going to stop compromising and move into a new chapter in my life that is full of the deepest artistic and personal integrity. I swore I would never end up as a pathetic old woman living in Hollywood in a shitty one bedroom apartment, driving an old mercedes, still believing she could be a pop star. Well, I will be turning 28 this coming February, and I aim to keep that promise to myself.
This is where it gets exciting for me. In the past few years, there were things I did creatively that I was proud of, and other things I wasn’t so proud of. However, with what I did accomplished, I earned ultimate freedom. Part of that freedom comes from finally being able to afford it. You see, the only reason I ever wanted to make money was so that I could support myself in making more music because to me, the process of MAKING a song that I love is more rewarding than winning a Grammy. Now that I can afford the freedom to only make the music I want to, my music is going to take a different shape and I’m excited to see what happens. Another part of my freedom comes from the access I now have to talent. I went from having no means to record music, to now having access to the best producers, songwriters and artists in the world. But the most important part of my freedom comes from self awareness. When Marshall said to me, “Just be you,” I didn’t realize how hard it actually was to do that. But looking back at my life, it’s clear I’ve been more afraid of living as myself and letting the world see the real me, than death. I’ve finally figured out how to live in my own skin and not take it personally when people don’t approve. And because of that, I can finally love my life every day and feel fulfilled. I’m not just talking creatively, I’m talking about the whole big picture of who I am on a personal, intellectual, physical and spiritual level.
On another note, something strange happened to me during the 2nd half of 2013. Maybe it’s the hands of my biological clock injecting me with hormones, but this is the first year I’ve seriously thought about having kids. I may have talked casually about kids in the past, but I never really knew for sure if I wanted any. Music was always selfishly my #1 priority and the thought of kids scared me. But this year, there was a shift…and I think it’s tied to finally accepting myself for who I am and being happy with it, not constantly needing that approval from others, or from an audience. Music is slowly settling into a healthy spot at #2, while family is rising into the #1 spot…unconditional love is totally underrated, while the conditional love that comes with fame is sooooooo overrated. This leads me into my next point. Does anyone have any new years resolutions? I do. I’m going to stop drinking. I rang in the new year with sake and champagne, but that was the end of it for me. One reason is simply that recently I’ve noticed that when I drink, even if it’s just a glass or two of wine, I just don’t feel well. The other reason is that I just want to start clearing my body of toxins in case I do decide to do the whole kid thing anytime in the near future.
Last but not least, I must extend my gratitude the fans who supported my album and tour. It was so cool to see the looks on my label people’s faces when the album sold 5 times the amount first week what they were expecting. Tee hee. It was also soooooo cool to see your faces in the crowds singing along to my songs on tour. We sure had fun this year together, didn’t we?! I love you all so much. Happy New Year!
::Highlights from 2013::
April 7th- I performed “Coming Home” with Diddy on Wrestle Mania
July 9th- My album “Don’t Look Down” finally dropped
Summer of 2013- I hit the road on my first headlining US tour
Fall of 2013- I joined Kaskade on tour
Oct 1st- Moby dropped his album Innocents featuring a song with me called “The Last Day”
Nov 2nd- I performed on SNL with Eminem
Nov 5th- Eminem dropped his album The Marshall Mathers LP-2 featuring a song with me called “Asshole”