Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts (Michael Jackson)

Last week the music world lost one of its biggest stars of all-time. Say what you want about his personal history, but musically Michael Jackson was untouchable. Time will tell just how influential his music was…but personally I already know. I spent countless hours as a kid dancing around my room to the tune of “Bad” and “Smooth Criminal,” or singing my heart out to “Man in the Mirror.” He was the ultimate performer and the world will miss him. Monday Morning Thoughts this week is a list of my favorite MJ songs as well as some of his great quotes…


10) “Scream”
9) “Beat It”
8) “The Way You Make Me Feel”
7) “Smooth Criminal”
6) “I’ll Be There”
5) “Thriller”
4) “Billie Jean”
3) “Bad”
2) “Man in the Mirror”
1) “Black or White”


I wake up from dreams and go "Wow, put this down on paper." The whole thing is strange. You hear the words, everything is right there in front of your face . . .”

“The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.”

“In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.”

- Michael Jackson

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Week in L.A.!!!!!

Just a quick update before this week gets a little hectic:

The band and I will be making our L.A. debut this week and next.
We have 2 shows in the area. The first is tonight at the Dakota Lounge in Santa Monica. We're opeining for the band Eloise's CD release party. We go on tonight at 8:30pm.

And then next week is our first big show in Hollywood at Genghis Cohen! We're really looking forward to this one as it's our first headling show in L.A. We promise it'll be a lot of fun.

Hope to see you there!

And if not I'm sure they'll be something to say about them in Monday Morning Thoughts :)

For more info on the venues and shows go here:
http://www.dakotalounge.com/
http://www.genghiscohen.com/music.html




"They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
- Andy Warhol

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts (Father's Day)

There's a lot going on at the moment, which is a good thing. A lot of studio time and shows are coming up this week and next. I hope things keep moving forward like they've been...


* I had a great father’s day. I respect my dad more than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s great to have a day to honor him, as well as all fathers.

* The band and I will be making our L.A. debut this week and next. This Thursday the L.A. based band Eloise asked us to play with them for their album release party at the Dakota Lounge in Santa Monica. Then next Thursday we’ll be headlining our own show at Genghis Cohen in West Hollywood! I’m pretty excited about both. More info about these later this week.

* For the first time this weekend I had Potato Wedges at a restaurant where the bacon was hidden UNDER the cheese instead of on top. What a pleasant surprise that was.

* Sometimes people just amaze me. During our show on Friday in San Diego a guy and his son walked right up to our drummer on the stage, Brian, and began trying to ask him questions about how the Cajon(a big box-like drum) he was playing worked. IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR SET! Brian was nice enough to tell them we were about to play another song and we got on with playing…but then they just stood there at the foot of the stage about 2 feet from Brian and watched him play. I guess he’s just that amazing.

* A business idea I thought of last week… “Music Lessons for Athletes”, or something of the sort. I think the reason I took so long to get into music was the fact that I was intimidated by it for so long. I thought it was only for people in “Band” or something like that. And being in sports my whole life, there was this stigma that “piano lessons” or “voice lessons” were un-cool or dorky, which is dumb. It’s too bad I didn’t start sooner. Not that I would open a music lesson company ONLY for athletes or whatever. But maybe a place that appealed to them more. As a kid I would’ve been more likely to take lessons from someone who was more like myself and ALSO played guitar rather then a music major and all that(which is great). It’s just less intimidating at the start. Like I said…this was just a daydreaming idea haha…but who knows…

* For a good read about conquering small goals one at a time, read here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/

* I hope everyone has a great week.


"Every increase in your knowledge is a simultaneous decrease. You learn and you unlearn at the same time. A new certainty is a new doubt as well."
-Brian Eno

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts (I Try to Laugh)

It's graduation time, and though I don't have any of my own to attend...many of my family and friends do. The one thing I love about graduations are the speeches. They're usually pretty hit or miss, but every so often somebody will say something that is so spot-on, so perfect for the moment that it's quite moving. For this Monday's thoughts I've compiled the thoughts that others have given on Graduation Day:



…You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.


…So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.

-J.K Rowling (at Harvard 2008)




"…Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

…Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish
-Steve Jobs (Stanford, 2005)




"…It doesn't matter that your dream came true if you spent your whole life sleeping..."

"…Think of the world as a big glass of water with some salt in it. You have a choice. You can try to pick out all the salt or you can keep pouring in more water so eventually it gets less bitter. As you begin your new journey, you can try to remove everything that you find distasteful in the world, or you can just pour in more love. It's the only thing that the more you give away, the more you have."
Jerry Zucker (U. of Wisconsin, 2003)


"There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says 'Morning, boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
-David Foster Wallace ( Kenyon College, 2005)



"Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen, I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh."
-Anna Quindlen (Pulitzer Prized winning author, Villanova, 2005

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Paradise

I’ve been asked many times before, “Wouldn’t it be great to win the lottery”? or, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to write a hit song, get rich, and just hang out”?

My initial reaction… absolutely! Send me the check! I’ll take a free pass for a while. Get “Free Parking” (last Monopoly reference I promise). Wouldn’t life be better if you could wake up every morning whenever your bones felt completely rested? Spend hours each day lounging on a beach while the waves crashed softly in the background?

Ya that'd be nice. But that’s just a great vacation.

Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE A GREAT VACATION. And I would gladly accept the benefits of a “hit song” anytime (like I said, send the check).

But in all honesty, getting rich quick and then twiddling my thumbs sounds fun for a while. I’d have a hell of a time… but not forever. To me, sitting around not really doing anything, beach or wherever, would become as mundane as sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day…there’s really no difference. Except the tan maybe.

Derek Sivers puts it nicely… “We all need some time off. A change of scene and pace. Silence and solace if we’re stressed. Reckless adrenaline if we’re in a rut.

But for those of us who think that an eternal escape from work would be paradise, don’t forget that we all need a playground…”

My real and constant vacation is in learning and doing new things. Even if I did win the lottery I’d still NEED to do something that excites me.

We all want to do things that add value. We want to get better and be better people. That’s why we volunteer, go back to school, start businesses, visit with family, and run marathons. Because it makes us feel good. Makes us feel alive.

That wouldn’t turn off just because you hit the jackpot.

My ultimate paradise is more a chord progression than a remote beach in Figi.


“If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert.”
Australian psychiatrist W. Béran Wolfe



And by the way… if you do win the lottery we should go to Vegas…

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Words of Wisdom

It’s been a little over a year and a half since I started seriously pursuing music. Up to this point the experience has been nothing short of unbelievable. But after a CD release, TV shows, concerts, newspaper articles, YouTube videos…and Twitter, there’s 2 things I know for certain:

1) I have a long long long way to go before I REALLY achieve anything of lasting value in the world of music.
2) I would be nowhere near where I am if it weren’t for the generous help and advice of others both in and outside the music industry.

I know everyone has to make their own way in their careers, “carve your own path” so to speak…but it doesn’t hurt to look at how others got to where they are. Especially those you highly respect.

This is just some of the advice I’ve received about music/life in the last couple of years from music professionals, friends, family, and random people along the way. The advice below has helped me begin carving my own path. It isn't the “Go to this website and follow these 7 steps” type of advice. These are things that last more then a website set-up or marketing plan. Those things can be figured out with time.

I don’t want to sound overly mushy and “Tony Robbins-ish” in this post, but these are things I truly believe in and try to implement daily. I hope you find them useful or slightly inspiring yourself:



“Have Fun”!
I’ve heard this quite a bit and think it comes first and foremost. If you don’t truly enjoy what you are doing, regardless of whether you’re making money or not, STOP. Life’s just too short to spend years and years trudging along unhappily.


“You have to be Exceptional”
One of the world’s most influential thinkers on modern-day marketing, Seth Godin, once wrote about creating a product or art:
You’ll know when you’re on to something special, because people will love it so much they’ll tell everyone.
If people aren’t telling their friends about it yet, don’t waste time marketing it. Instead, keep improving until they are.
Sell one. Find one person who trusts you and sell him a copy. Does he love it? Is he excited enough to tell ten friends because it helps them, not because it helps you? If not, you must stop what you’re doing and start over.”


“You create your own luck”
I believe that sometimes in life you can “catch a lucky break,” something just happens by pure chance or coincidence. I tell everyone who beats me in Monopoly that they were just “lucky”. But most of the time, luck is a byproduct of something you’ve done to EARN that luck. People who sit around and wait for their “big break” are far less likely to be “lucky” then those out there working on their craft all the time. Think about anyone you respect who’s been successful at what they do…none of them got there by sitting around waiting for a producer, photographer, or CEO to call out of the blue and offer them the chance of a lifetime. They went and got it.


“Look people in the eye and say ‘thank you’ ”
I know this sounds so simple, but you’d be surprised at how many people (especially in music) just don’t do this. It takes no skill or talent to be appreciative of the people who have helped you in anyway. And the thing is…people remember those things and will continue to help you down the road.


“Remember people’s names”
I for one am HORRIBLE at this…but I really do try. As many have told me, this is a really big deal and obviously goes hand-in-hand with the point above. There are so many “Secrets to Networking” and “How to Impress People” books available… but I believe following the last 2 points covers most if not all you really need to know. The rest is just minor details.


“Picture where ‘whatever it is you’re doing today’ will lead you in 5 years”
This is hard for me to do, because ultimately, you just don’t know. You have hopes and dreams of where your art or job will lead you…but life is just so unpredictable. A fellow musician, who has been in the industry for a long time, told me this is one of the best ways to move your life in the direction you want. He said… “Are the people, jobs, and things you do daily taking you where you wanna go”?


“Rock the shit out of places”
Excuse the language, but this is one of the better pieces of advice I’ve received. It doesn’t matter how many people come to a show, or who’s in the room…rock the shit out of the place. This obviously carries over to anything in life…do it well… wait not “well”… exceptional. You just never know who’s listening.


There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
- Beverly Sills

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts (Catch-22)

I’m just coming back from a much needed and much appreciated week-long vacation. Life’s a little “up in the air” at the moment because job eliminations will be taking place at my work this week. Some things you just can’t control. But some you can. I’ve got my coffee and I’ve got my thoughts:


* On Saturday I performed at what I said last week was a “Special Event.” The event was a 16 yr old girl’s birthday party and it turned out to be one of the more gratifying shows I’ve done thus far in my career(I know that sounds odd, but it was great). She had about 50 friends and family members at the party and all of them were courteous enough to give me their full attention for the hour that I performed. A lot of them knew the songs(which was cool) and the birthday girl came on stage and sang a couple with me as well. Overall it was a good time. It’s too bad the kids got all pissy when I tried to charge them $10 a piece at the end of the night :)

* I wrote a post last week about having my CD sold in a store for the first time (you can read it below). I talked about the path I took to get it there. What I forgot to mention in the post, is how appreciative I am of everyone who has helped me along the way. It sounds cliché, but I really would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for the people like you who come to the shows, buy CD’s and T-Shirts, help get me on TV and in newspapers, and read this Blog. I just can’t and never will be able to do all that on my own. I truly thank you and hope to have you around for years to come.

* In the past few months I’ve received quite a few pieces of advice from people in the music industry about the best way to carve out your own career path. I’m going to write a blog soon that speaks about this advice. Though it’ll be tailored toward music, the insights and advice should benefit anyone currently working toward some goal.

* I’m not a movie critic and you probably don’t come to me for a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs- down” on any particular film…but “The Hangover” is pretty damn funny. That’s all I’ll say.

* I never want a big corner office.

* This weekend I heard one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar… “First Cut is the Deepest”…the Sheryl Crow version. It made me laugh because my roommate at the time, Kyle, absolutely hated the song…I would play it as loud and as often as I could for him.

* I hope you get to do something that pushes your boundaries this week.



At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut tells his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.

Heller said, “Yes, but I have something he will never have: Enough.”
-
From Derek Sivers’ blog

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bad (2nd Spin Records)

When I was a little kid I remember listening to the old records my mom and dad would play on lazy Sunday afternoons. I'd just lay there and drift away to the sounds coming out of that old record player while the rest of the family took a nap or read. It wasn't long until I knew every song by Elton John, Michael McDonald, The Beatles, James Taylor, and yes...Michael Jackson. I'd proudly sing along to every line like it was my own and pretend  I was on stage in front of thousands of people, sweeping them off their feet with my powerful lyrics. I thought I was in fact "Bad."

I wanted to be those artists. I wanted to capture people's imagination with a melody or lyric...But I was also 10 and liked basketball, baseball cards, the girl who sat next to me in the 4th grade, and sporting a mullet(years later I would figure out the mullet was working against me getting the girl, thanks a lot mom).

Flash forward about 9 years... I'm a freshman at Chapman University trying to decide which elective class to take during the Spring Semester. I had just finished my first long and stressful season of college basketball and wanted to take a class that was fun and easy, something I could basically go to half the time and still get an A in. I scroll through the list of GE classes and finally just pick one without a whole lot of thought..."Screw it" I said, I'll just try this one:

Intro to Guitar 100

Maybe it was life's way of circling back. Maybe it was just dumb luck. Probably a little of both. But from the moment I first strummed my guitar in that class I wanted to write those songs again. There was something so fascinating in the sound of those chords. Something real I couldn't quite describe. I didn't care if I looked stupid in front of my basketball buddies for carrying a guitar around campus...I was hooked... and I NEVER missed a class(well maybe one or two but that's just not as dramatic).

Flash forward 5 about years... It's last Sunday afternoon. The band and I are jamming to our new song "Something Good" in the middle of Second Spin Records...life is good. Then after the show the store manager comes up to me and says, "We'll sell your record in the store if you'd like us to"? 

I try to pretend like it's no big deal, try to act cool. I try not to act like the kid who used to rock out by himself to Michael Jackson with his mullet when no one was watching. Or the kid who would get a fake guitar from Chucky Cheese's and pretended he was in Aerosmith. Or the kid who would spend hours upon hours in his garage working on his voice so he could muster up enough courage to sing his own songs in front of people...

"Oh sure that'd be great", I say.(very cooly, I might add)

I give her some information. They make the little plastic divider with my name on it...MY NAME ON IT...and that's that. We shake hands and I'm gone.

I walk out of the store and try to hide my smile, but I just can't. It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and I'm dreaming again.  

If you go down to Second Spin Records and browse the aisles you'll find all the classics... Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones...and yes, Michael Jackson.

And in the same section, if you look hard enough, somewhere between Damien Rice and Deathcab For Cutie, you can find "Oxford Street."

And that feels pretty cool... feels pretty,"Bad."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Monday Morning Thoughts(On Another Tuesday)

I apologize for another day-late post. I'm on vacation right now and just getting a chance to collect my thoughts. This past weekend was unbelievable. Bonfires, shows, seeing old friends, and a day-trip to an old town where my Grandmother grew up...life is good.

* Music still remains such a mystery to me...Yesterday I spent 2 hours working on a new song and made very little progress. Then my brother and I started fooling around on the guitar and piano for 5 minutes and BAM!... we have a song we're both really excited about called "Better Days." I'll never figure music out, and in a way...I think that's the best thing about it.

* I truly believe that Monopoly teaches you everything you need to know about a person and life. I played it with family and friends about 5 times this weekend(we party) and had forgotten how much I enjoy that game. Competition, deals, chances, BOARDWALK, Free Parking, fighting, forgiveness, laughter, hatred(for 10 minutes), greed, stamina, love(money), and on and on. WHAT A GAME!  I'm a fairly terrible loser during board games so I apologize to my family and friends for the swearing and derogatory comments. I do actually love you Mom.

*I'll write about this more in an upcoming post, but 2nd Spin Records is now carrying my first album "Oxford Street" in their store! I'm gonna go back and take a picture of it on the shelf in a week because...holy shit I have a record in a store! I'm so thankful for everything that's happened in music thus far and try not to take even these little things for granted. Please feel free to go purchase one if you're in the Costa Mesa area :)

* WARNING: EMO MOMENT...I was on a road in the middle of the desert this weekend and noticed that the view in my rearview mirror looked exactly the same as the view out my windshield. How often can we say that in life? EMO MOMENT OVER.

* I'm performing at a "Special Event" this weekend. I won't say what it is yet because it's supposed to be a surprise...but I think it'll be pretty comical and a lot fun. I'll let you know about it next week.

* Now that I have a full band, people have asked me if I'll change the name of the band for live shows. So instead of  just "Dan Krikorian", maybe "The Dan Krikorian Band"  or "Dan Krikorian and the (fill in the blank). I guess we'll see what we come up with. I feel like my band is trying to overthrow me but that may just be me.

* I'm heading to the studio as soon as I'm done with this post. I'll be doing the vocals on about 3 songs today, which will move us ever closer to the completion of the album. 

Have a great week everyone.


"The poem the reader reads may be better than that which the writer wrote. 
Try to make things that can become better than what you thought you were doing."

  -Brian Eno