Flossie Gateman

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to make friends along my musical journey.  Some of them have seen me play often at my concerts and others I have befriended me via the internet as far back as MySpace yet we still haven’t met.
When I was cycling through Japan on a training ride I was reflecting at how lucky I am and how supportive so many have been over the years to help me chase my dream.  I truly am blessed.  Some have given so much for the simple act of enjoying my music.  I want to acknowledge those people.  My idea here is to share with you those that have helped me out.  I won’t be able to get them all in and I apologize now if I miss you along the way.
Everyone, from the person who flew 1000’s of miles to see my show, you who shook my hand and said they enjoyed the concert, to the critic who gave me something important to think about and grow from and of course all of you in between, THANK YOU.


FLOSSIE GATEMAN.  
Living in Calgary Canada.

Every musician needs friends who believe in their music and offers friendship, encouraging words, and support.
Flossie Gateman is that and more.
I’ve never personally met her despite feeling like I know her and have become her friend for over 5 years. She is a team supporter for the great Canadian band Jo Hikk and they introduced us. She helped rally a large community of people to vote for me in an international contest that I was in with my album FUEL. Thanks to her and many others, I won.

Flossie is a passionate music lover with a big heart and she is highly motivated. She has done some very unselfish acts to help promote those musicians she believes in. I feel fortunate to consider her a friend and I want you all to know.

Thank you Flossie!

You’re friendship is not taken lightly.

Lyrics Lyrics Lyrics!

Lyrics lyrics lyrics!

It's still blank!

It’s still blank!

Why is it I find it so hard to find them!  My life is full of stuff happening all around me yet I can’t seem to write about it.  I decided to just start jotting down anything that comes to mind in this book and then start pulling out the parts that mean something to me.  Last album I was staying up all night the last days before recording because of the same problem.  This time I want some leeway so I can refine and rewrite a few more times.

I best get away from this blog and back to that area of my brain where the creativity sits.  Just have to find it first!

Making an Album is Sadly a Fond Memory

There is something ironically sad about looking back on fond memories.  They were so wonderful that you want to relive them.  But you can’t.  So you file them into a happy place and visit them from time to time.

I would love to jump on a plane bound for Australia again and say hello to the guys that made my 5th CD “THESE DAYS” a reality.  I’d like to walk down the same beaches that helped inspire lyrical ideas, or swap trivial stories with the locals, stare out the window of the downtown trams at the passer-by’s and of course, step back into the studio with the blokes who helped create the album.  Fond memories are usually moments you would love to experience again.

I could sing any lyrics and you wouldn't know!

I could sing any lyrics and you wouldn’t know!

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons making a CD is something I absolutely love.  It’s not just about the song.  It’s about the whole journey.  It’s about the hard work, the goal of making this dream a reality, the great friends that share the same interests, the challenges, the small details, the life long memories, and ultimately the final product.  Then you have it. All wrapped up and stored onto a compact disk in the palm on my hands.

That’s what’s left.

For me, “These Days”, isn’t just an album of tunes.  It’s a chapter in my life.  A challenge set out and completed.  It’s an idea that started with a chord on a guitar, a melody in my head, or a lyric stolen from a street sign. It’s a search for a cheap airplane ticket, it’s hotel rooms, a new city, new friends and a common goal.

Shibuya, Tokyo.  Promo pic.

Shibuya, Tokyo. Promo pic.

I see a million small tasks that I must do for my dream to finally become reality.   I see the inspiration of family and friends and above all, I see myself doing something that gives me a sense of self-accomplishment.   When it’s finally done, there is an immense satisfaction I hold but at the same time a yearning begins to do it all over again.  An addiction to the whole process.  A desire to be better.  The drugs have kicked in and I’ve started new memories.  I’ll be recording the newest CD in Nashville come August 2013.

Live at the Bunkakaikan

Live at the Bunkakaikan

How to write radio friendly songs.

Putting the final touches on an original song.

I wrote an article several years back (that I just added to this blog site) called “7 Steps to writing a song you’re proud of” and I was surprised at the amount of readers who found it.   In that article I talked mostly of “my” process on how to get a song from inside you out into one that you are happy of.

In this blog, I want to explain some common ideals that are present when trying to write songs to be commercially viable.   Please note that these views, while fairly standard, are just my opinion and they are not written in stone.  Many have bent these rules slightly and if you’re not interested in writing “radio friendly” songs, then this isn’t for you.

OK.  Let’s start.

To be clear, I have a love, hate relationship with radio.  Most of the really big stations are monopolized by major corporations and with payola’s and money running the show, it’s almost impossible for independent musicians to get heard.  However, thanks to the internet there are now many more opportunities for your music to get out there.  So, you have many chances to find fans.  But in order to do so, you should understand a few things.

1).  Most people are in a hurry.  And in today’s world, we get things given to us immediately.  So when writing a song, you should get to the Chorus as soon as possible.

2).  Intro’s should never be very long.  Again, people want the meat and not the salad.  I usually have a 4 bar intro and for the most part I recommend not going any longer than that.  Sometimes it’s even cool to start a song immediately with vocals.

3).  As I mentioned, get to the Chorus soon.  Sometimes doing 2 verses before the first Chorus is fine but make sure you don’t leave your fans waiting too long.  Unless the Chorus is to die for then they might be willing to forgive you.

4) Usually after the 2nd Chorus a common theme is to go into a bridge (a third and unique melody that goes slightly in a different direction musically and lyrically). It’s often refreshing for a listener to hear a bridge when it’s done right.  A great bridge often leads back into a final Chorus effortlessly.  Often the last chord in a bridge will be the 5th chord of the root (if the song is in D then the last chord in the bridge might be an A or A7 so when the Chorus hits, the listener is unconsciously relieved with the root chord D returning and therefore more punch when the Chorus comes back).

5).  I could write a lot on chords and chord changes but that’s a whole different blog.  Let me say that for the most part, 3 chord songs have made artists millions of dollars but there is something special about adding more color (chords).  You can often replace a major chord with its relative minor (for example turning G into Em etc).  Only you and your friends who are listening will know what works best for you song.  But don’t be afraid to try alternative chords underneath your melody. It might even make you find a better melody.  Experiment.

6).  The Golden Rule of radio?  Keep your songs short.  3 to 3 1/2 minutes is usually enough to get your song across.  Yes, Stairway to Heaven, American Pie, and Hotel California are classics and they’re long.  But how many others do you know of?   The listener and the radio equally don’t have time for songs like that.  If your song is over 4 minutes I bet it’s too long for both parties.

7). Here is just one example of what a song could look like:

a)  verse 1

b)  Chorus

c)  verse 2

d)  Chorus 2

e)  Bridge

f)  short solo over chorus or verse chord progression

g)  Last Chorus X 2

e)  ending

Sometimes you can have 2 verses before the first Chorus as I mentioned earlier.

8).  Lyrics.  This is tough.  Why are 95% of all the songs out there written about love?  Because that’s the emotion most songs bring.  You can bet, everything you’re going to write about has been written about.  The idea is to find a different way to say what has already been said.  Find a catch saying that captivates people and work a song around that.  Whether you hate country music or not, it is usually full of amazing lyrics.  Have a listen to the way the songs are penned.  Sometimes taking a common phrase and twisting it is popular  (For example, instead of “Better luck next time”, you could say “Better luck next guy”).          ….You get the idea.

So again, let me clarify that I’m just sharing my opinion.  Some of you might not agree with what I have to say here.  That’s fine.  At the end of the day, songwriting is a craft like guitar playing which requires a lot of work, a lot of hours, and a lot of heart.  You might have heard industry professionals say that until you’ve reached over 10,000 hours of practice in your craft, you’re not ready.  Granted some are just born good.  Most of us though, work at it.  Enjoy it though because it’s such a wonderful thing to do.

If you want, click on this link and download 20 of my songs for free(3 of these songs are in consideration for major motion pictures, another won best song of the month on ABC radio, and many have received radio play).  If you don’t mind me saying so – my latest release “THESE DAYS” has received a lot of praise from fans and critics alike.  Yes, I’m still trying to write a song that some 20 year old famous singer will buy but until then I’ll enjoy the process because I love it so.

I hope you write a song that you are really proud of.  Better yet, one that makes it on the radio.

~Kelly

Melbourne Australia. Songwriting.

Album #6 begins pre production.

Hiroshima showtime.

Song-writing, wrong-writing, and prolong-writing are what stages I am in at the moment.  If I don’t have a good song, then I shouldn’t bother making the next album.  Right now I feel I have around 3 songs that are possibilities for the new CD.  That leaves me with half a year to write another 7 or 8 worthy of being on an album.  It’s been really tough to find quality creative downtime this year.  It’s been busy to say the least.  I’m hoping if I can get some co-writing adventures going it could spark a fresh and burning fire of hot tunes.  I always want to make the new CD sound a little different from the last one but no matter how hard one tries; there are always elements of a song that are uniquely you.

I plan on working with Producer Greg Arnold again.  The established and credible songwriter/producer wants to make the next album with me in Nashville Tennessee.  Although, he is an Aussie, he has some solid connections with accomplished people in the industry there.  Another reason I MUST bring my game face with me.  But as I move quickly through life as a musician, the one thing I know that remains true in this crazy poor-mans industry is this:  It all starts with a great song.  It’s the peak of a mountain.  The rest flows naturally into the hands of fans or into a sea of mediocrity.

I yearn for the challenge and fear the failure equally.

…Sounds like a song in there somewhere….    😉    Hopefully an albums worth!

Giro de Hotaka bicycle race.

November 6th, 2011

It rained just once this week.  Yep, during race day of course.  Oh, and it rained hard.

I couldn’t sleep that night due to nerves and finally got out of bed at 4 a.m.  I arrived at my friends’ house at 5 and we drove to the race together talking strategy and pace. 

It was early, cold and wet and I was concerned about being able to ride the 120 km race (74.56 miles) in those conditions.  Because I work 7 days a week I haven’t had the time to ride over 100 KM all year.  Most of my rides are around 50 or 60 km (31 ~ 37 miles).  I knew I could do it but I wasn’t sure how sluggish I’d be. 

Giro de Hotaka. 7th Place.

This race was a little different from regular races and it doesn’t attract many pro riders.  In fact, out of the 128 riders there were only 2 at this event.  They were mostly using it for training I believe.  I think because we shared the roads with traffic and even had to stop at 1 or 2 traffic lights makes it less attractive.  However, when the awards were being handed out at the end, both pro riders agreed that it was one of the toughest courses they’ve ridden.  There is hardly a flat section to the race and if you’re not going down one side of a mountain, you are climbing the other. 

So, my plan was to start off with a comfortable pace and ride my own ride.  Let people pass me.  Don’t get competitive.  Save energy.  Finish!

The ride started with a 10 km (6.2 m) downhill and then 26 km (16.15 m) up and up and up.  There was an aid station at the top where I fueled up before going down the backside.  It was cold, wet and slippery with leafs and switch back corners but only one accident that I witnessed.  He went over a bank and into the river the poor guy!  I think only his pride was hurt though.

The last 20 km (12.4 m) was by far the toughest.  At the 100 km (62 m) mark the climb up Semene mountain pass to Katashina became really steep.  To my surprise those riders I let go ahead at the beginning were starting to appear in my sight.  Again, I just wanted to get up and over the hill but while doing so I passed a lot of riders.  I must confess when I finally reached the top and saw the tunnel I’d been praying for, I was bagged.  Then there was a nice 9 km downhill coast to get the legs back (somewhat) before having to do another grueling last 9 km climb to the finish.  How evil of them!

On the final 9 km I saw another 3 riders who I overtook.  The bike race brochure reads “120 km Giro De Hotaka”.  During the last stretch my bike computer was reading 118 as I climbed the tough grade.  I was thinking to myself,  “No, not another 2 km of this!  I don’t think I can do it.”   Then as I rounded the corner I saw the finish line in front of me at the 119 km mark.  That was a welcomed surprise (finishing 1 km earlier than I expected). 

I crossed over the line exhausted as they yelled out, “7th.   I said to them, “No, my race number is 98”.  And they said again, “No, you are in 7th place”.

Wow, that completely surprised me.  I figure I owe a big thanks to all my Dailymile friends for keeping me motivated and inspired.

Of course the 2 pro riders got first and second place respectfully and I should make it clear that they finished a good 30 minutes before I did!  Ha-ha

But heck, I’ll take lucky 7.

Click here for an earlier post I wrote about Giro de Hotaka.

Course and elevation.

Beautiful Fall bicyle race in Gunma Japan.

September/2009 Hey everyone!

September/2009
Hey everyone!

blck-wht-Kell-w-CameraHow are you doing? It’s been a while since I sent a newsletter out and I am surprised how quickly the time has past by. For most of you its summer and I hope you’ve been able to enjoy it. I was very busy the last two months and I performed over 30 shows. Half of those shows where at my reliable Theme Park where I’ve been gigging for years but the other half were made up of a wide variety of venues. One of my favorite places to perform is in a town called Kusatsu. It’s a beautiful place with many natural hot springs and visited by many Japanese throughout the year. I did a video blog while staying in my hotel there if you want to check it out.

I also went to Tochigi prefecture and shared the stage with two other bands at a cool place called Nemu Nemu. My good friend Hibiki and I drove there from Gunma and it took about an hour but it turned out to be a fun night. I played an acoustic set and tried out some of my new songs I might release on my next CD and the response was good.

On August 23rd I did a show at a new venue called “JHK”. It used to be a place for weddings but the owner converted it into a really funky place to perform live. After the show the owner turned on the Barbeque and poured ice cold beer and we all sat around sharing stories.

September has been really busy. I’ve got a foot inside the door of a bunch of projects.  For starters my friend Mark Clay and I are working on a very cool song he sent me called, “Dunkirk Spirit” that has a Celtic vibe to it. He also helped finish off a song of mine called, “What Have I Done”, and recorded his take on it with just a couple of acoustic guitars. Mark is generous enough to offer it to you exclusive on my website for free. You can find it here. Down the road I will attempt to record my version of it, too.  I’m also trying to finish up a song and  enter it in an annual songwriting contest that takes place in Japan.  I must have that song complete and submitted by the end of September.  I best buckle down and get on with it!

October 16th, a friend of mine Simon Smith is coming to visit me in Japan. He will be here for 5 days and is flying all the way from England. Some of my loyal supporters might know him from our small community. I’ve got a few  small shows lined up that I’ll be dragging him to. One of them is a venue I’ve never gigged at before so we’ll both be checking it out for the first time. (Simon, I hope you’re ready for a culture shock)

Aside from my music career, I’ve been cycling and training often. I road over 2500 km during the summer.  It’s getting dark earlier lately so I’m not able to ride as far. But ice hockey has started again and so now I’m doing that 2 to 3 times a week, too. If you want to go on an 8 minute bike ride with me, click here (but I warn you, it’s not too thrilling unless you like that sort of thing).

OK, I’ll sign off now. Sorry for the long delay from the last update. Hope you’re all well. Feel free to email and fill me in with what you’re up to. I’ll be sure to get back to you.

Until next time, take care.
Kelly