Category Archives: Music

Making It In Music: From Covering Songs To Writing Them

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Making It In Music: From Covering Songs To Writing Them

If you love to play music, you probably started out playing covers of songs, whether you took part in lessons or got into the world of musicianship on a self-taught basis. Of course, if you find yourself wanting something more and you’re ready to start creating original tracks, then it can be hard to take the plunge in terms of putting pen to paper. While there are no ‘rules’ in terms of writing music, as creativity can’t be forced, there are ways in which you can hone in on your talents and start to create something original. Here are some pieces of advice to help you make a mark in the music world as a songwriter rather than a cover artist:

Understand the recording and production process:

When it comes to creating your own songs, writing something with a catchy melody and meaningful lyrics is only one part of the equation. In fact, being a musician with a beautiful singing voice and instrumental talent who performs well is also only a small part of the equation. You need to understand the recording and production process involved with creating music if you want your original tracks to really make their mark on listeners, and this involves more than simply turning on a mic and pressing ‘record’.

You need to ensure that the quality of the instruments being used and everything involved with the song has been honed to perfection, as it’s easy to capture every sound in a live environment, but not quite so much in a recorded environment. You might want to look into sites such as Box Tiger Music for help with choosing guitars or pianos based on reviews. It’s important that you strive to sound as good, if not better, than the top musicians in the industry before you’re anywhere near that status. That’s how you make it.

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He’s a babe! Shwing!

Jam:

Perhaps you understand the technicalities of music, but you just don’t feel creative or professional. While many big labels in the industry are full of songwriters and producers who have spent years learning how to create hit songs through observing what works, many musicians with a deep passion for the art of creating music want to ‘make it’ in a more organic way. If you’re much the same, then writing a catchy song which starts to turn heads and brings you attention in the music industry shouldn’t ever become a mechanical process. Instead of thinking about the simplistic chord progressions behind the biggest hits in history, you should just start jamming and see what happens.

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We all have the power to be creative. Whether you’re in a band or operating on a solo basis, just hit ‘record’, start messing around with your guitar, piano, voice, or whichever instrument you play, and see what happens. When you listen back to your five or ten minute jamming session later, you’ll likely hate a lot of it. However, there’s every chance that you’ll hear a gem in the form of a musical nugget which will really inspire you to form a fully-fledged song out of what was originally nothing more than a small riff or chord progression. Play around and see what happens, super star!

Featured Image By: Pexels

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Red Carpet Ready

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Hello everyone and happy Sunday! Tonight is the Grammy’s and you know what that means: a gathering of beautiful celebrities to celebrate sub par music! If you guys keep up to date on my Facebook page, you will know that I think the Grammy’s are kind of a joke. They didn’t always used to be that way to me, but over the years it just seems to have evolved into an award show for Top 40 hits that does little to celebrate the artists that are out there making music constantly without radio recognition. But, that’s just me. And despite not being the Grammy’s number one fan, I LOVE me a red carpet event because fashion.

Ahh, the red carpet. The glitz, the glamour, the style. I love it all. From ball gowns to barely there dresses, menswear and did he/she really just wear that? It all speaks to me. I have always been inspired by the fashion sense of some of my favorite celebrities so when I get to see them parade around on the red carpet right before my very eyes…AKA on the TV screen…it is such fun for me. Red carpet events give me a televised look book into what is hot this year and what is…ehhh – not so much.

The Grammy’s are an especially fun night in fashion because it is more down to earth than, say, the Oscars. Female celebrities will be seen breaking out the mini dresses and bright colors while the men can sport a more casual look and get away with it. In all honesty? After the red carpet, I usually turn the Grammy’s off. I know – shame on me. It’s just not my thing. However, you can catch me going gaga over the Oscars and Golden Globes anytime!

Anyways, after seeing all of the different clothes, styles, and choices that the red carpet brings, I am always left wondering how I would dress if I was given the opportunity to strut my stuff for the paparazzi. Well…for starters, I would need a gorgeous guy with his arm around my waist. Cue Jack White, please.

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(Image 1 from Mind Equals Blown. Image 2 from Music Of Business.)

Everyone who knows me knows that Jack White is my absolute dream man. I have his lyrics tattooed on my back, I have all of his albums from all of his bands and solo work, and I have loved him since childhood. Everything about him from his talent to staggering good looks is just perfect to me and it only makes sense to have a Grammy winner accompany me to the show!

A few things that I love about Mr. White are his strong opinions on everything from politics to The Black Keys. He knows himself well enough to be vocal about his likes and dislikes and, to me, that is so sexy. I have also really enjoyed watching his style develop over the years into what is now a very sharp and tailored red carpet persona. After the release of his 2014 album, Lazaretto (which also happens to be the song that I have lyrics tattooed from), you can see White venture away from his normal all black ensemble by incorporating patterned blazers into his look. One of which made its debut in the music video for Lazaretto.

So, how would I style my dream man, Jack White, for a night on the red carpet? It would look a little something like this:

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(Image 1 from Third Man Records. Image 2 from Most Stylish. Both blazers from Ali Express.)

When styling Jack White’s look, I was really inspired by both his album cover for Lazaretto as well as the music video for the song. I loved the deep teal suit that he sports on the album and thought that the Dolce & Gabbana suit seen above was a perfect match. However, I would have him ditch the top half of the suit for a black button down and one of the blazers (preferably the black and white one) in the pictures. This look would blend the worlds of the Lazaretto album cover and music video to a cool and cohesive red carpet look and I think that he would look just divine. All he needs to do is throw on one of his signature hats and he’s good to go!

It’s not like I picture Jack White in his underthings frequently (yeah right)…but what about his underthings? I would make sure that Mr. White is wearing the right undershirt as well as tightie whities (I had to) to prevent any red carpet mishaps. The last thing I want is my date picking at uncomfortable underoos all night! #embarassing So I would put my man in only the finest from Tommy John. Jack (since we’re on a first name basis) would be kept cool and comfortable in the Cool Cotton High V-Neck as well as the Second Skin Titanium Trunk seen below:

Now that I don’t have to worry about my date’s shirt untucking on the red carpet, what should I wear? Well, I’ve never been a glitzy, gown, glitter, and shimmer girl so you would be seeing me strutting down the runway in something menswear inspired. One of my all time favorite red carpet looks is from the 2015 Screen Actor’s Guild Awards a la Emma Stone. And I also love another Emma, as in Watson’s, take on menswear style so I would hope that I could find a happy marriage between the following looks:

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(Image 1 from US Magazine. Image 2 from Celebitchy)

Alright, you know what? I lied. Just give me Emma Stone’s outfit, please. It’s perfection. Just red carpet perfection that would be perfect for Lil Red. It is SO elegant, chic, sexy, and menswear and I really just can’t even. But…It’s missing something. A wacky pair of heels, methinks. So you would be seeing me on the runway in something like these blade runner babies because Lil Red doesn’t play it safe:

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(Shoes designed by Peter Popps.)

Now that Jack White and I are happily styled, happily dating and soon to be married, and very happily making out during the Grammy’s, all I have left for this post is a promo code for you lovelies! Ladies if you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day prezzie for your man. And gentlemen, if you’re looking for the perfect look to don on Valentine’s Day for your special someone, look no further than Tommy John. All of your underthings necessities are covered with this 20% off your order promo code seen below. Now get to shopping!

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So there you have it, my Red Carpet Ready styling tips for when I have some daydreaming to do! Who do you think is going to win big at the Grammy’s tonight? Who is your red carpet dream date? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Becoming An Audiophile Without Breaking The Bank

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Becoming An Audiophile Without Breaking The Bank

If you’re a music lover, then a pair of headphones and a cheap mini speaker in the corner of the room isn’t enough for you. An audiophile wants real quality. In the past, that might have been super expensive, between all of the hardware and the music collection your heart desires. Nowadays, however, it doesn’t have to have anywhere near that kind of impact on your wallet. Here, we’ll look at how you can tune into your inner music lover for a lot less.

Go Digital: You no longer have to fuss about setting up a huge system including a CD player, all of the connectors, and loads of speakers. Nowadays, you only need the power of your digital devices like your laptop, smartphone, tablet, and the right musical devices to connect to it. To that end, you want to look at high-quality Bluetooth speakers from places like Speaker Digital. Not only are Bluetooth speakers easily connected to all of those digital devices, but they require minimal wiring so you can transport that music setup of yours around the home for when you want to jam to your favorite tunes in a different setting. Some of the best Bluetooth speakers are backward compatible, too. So if you do have a vinyl player or CD system you want to hook up, you’re perfectly welcome to.

Get Smart With Your Placement: You don’t have to go buy hundreds of speakers to get the best room-filling sound, either. One can be enough. It’s all about where you place it and how you equalize it. This might require a bit of testing, but if you’re diligent, you can find the right setting. Just make sure that your speaker is placed in the best position in the room, where it’s not being cut off by corners of bookshelves or furniture. You want the sound to have as clear of a path of travel as possible. To make sure you’re calibrated to all of the highs and lows of the music so that nothing overlaps or drowns out the other parts of your music, it’s a good idea to use a bit of classical music as you equalize. Most famous pieces are diverse enough to give you an idea of how clear you can hear the individual parts of the music.

Stream, Don’t Buy: If you haven’t started using digital streaming methods of listening to music now, then you truly are missing out. Services like Spotify can offer you a library of thousands of your favorite songs. Nowadays, there’s a diverse market of different streaming services, so it’s true that you might not find some of your favorites all together on any one service. But if you don’t mind mixing and matching, it’s way cheaper than collecting CDs and even digital albums. You might want to spend a bit to get the ads out of the way, but that’s a small price to pay in comparison to purchasing every CD that you want to own.

Between cutting down on those once monumental hardware costs to getting all of your favorite tracks for less, it’s significantly easier to get your perfect audio setup. Just keep in mind the rules of speaker placement for the best possible quality with no distortion or blockages.

Featured Image By: Pixabay

Got The X Factor? Tips On How To Break Into The Music Industry

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Got The X Factor? Tips On How To Break Into The Music Industry

Got The X Factor? Tips On How To Break Into The Music Industry:

Love it or loathe it, The X Factor is back on our TV screens, which means just one thing; it’s the first signs of winter! Well, actually it means a few other things too. Namely, some great talent mixed with some dodgy talent. And the raging debate of whether The X Factor is a credible show to be on if you’re serious about singing. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, if you read entertainment news, it’s going to be hard to escape The X Factor for the next couple of months. So, if you are interested in a professional music career, I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you on your way to getting a break. And better still, none of them include having to sing in front of Simon Cowell.

Know The Business: In the old days, you could just be a talented singer or musician and if you got on a record label, the company would do the rest for you. Since LP’s went out the window and new technology took over, this just isn’t the case anymore. These days you have to prove yourself as an artist before a record label will consider signing you. This means getting to know the business inside and out. Set up your own gigs at local venues, write your own songs, promote yourself, and prove that you can produce an income from your music.

Create An Online Presence: One affordable way of marketing yourself and your music is to create an online presence. You can do this through YouTube or by setting up your own website. It is a crowded market, so you’ll also have to use social media, paid advertising, and SEO to make an impact. The best way to do this is to set up a professional website. There are many software packages out there that will enable you to do this in a relatively cheap way that still maintains a sleek and skilled look. 

Record and Create Your Own CD’s: If you’re performing in local pubs and venues, you will want to sell some of your merch. This is a great marketing opportunity. Invest in some time in a recording studio and you’re already setting yourself apart from the competition. Companies such as Nationwide Disc allow you to create stylish sleeves, wallets, and digipacks which will give you the competitive edge. These are ideal for handing out as promotions and selling at gigs. Investing in a professional photographer for a couple of hours will guarantee you get some stylish shots that you can use as artwork for your covers.

Get Your Music On Spotify: You don’t have to be a signed musician to get your music on Spotify. In fact, they really like independent artists. Spotify has over 60 million active monthly users so it’s one of the best marketing tools that you can implement. You can employ the services of a music distribution company to help get your music on Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes. If you are serious about becoming an artist, you’ll need to put in a lot of hard work. You’ll also need to be motivated and dedicated, not just to your talent but to the extra promotions that goes into making your music heard across the globe.

Where are all of my songbirds at? Feel free to provide the links to your work and Youtube channels in the comment section below! Much love. -Sarah

Featured Image Provided By: Unsplash.com

The Happiness Tag

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The Happiness Tag

Hey everyone and happy Thursday! I was recently nominated by my friend, Ellen, over at eclecticellen for The Happiness Tag and I’m so excited because I’ve never been before. Everyone please give her blog some loving, it’s fabulous! Thanks, Ellen! I think that this tag is great because it will be an awesome reminder of things that make me smile when I’m feeling low. It’s always nice to take a minute and think about all of the good things in your life no matter how you’re feeling so it was such a treat to be able to make this post. Check out the rules and then let’s get started:

The Rules:

  • List 5 things that make you happy.
  • List 5 songs that make you happy.
  • Nominate 5 people to do this tag.
  • Smile while you write this post.

Five Things That Make Me Happy:

  1. Drinking coffee during lunch over the weekend with my parents.
  2. Getting straight A’s for days in school because I love having proof of how hard I work.
  3. That warm fuzzy feeling that I get when I think about my summer internship on my college campus. I’M SO EXCITED!!
  4. Reading before bed every night. I’m reading the final book of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, and I’m sad but happy to finish it!
  5. Spending time with my family, friends, boyfriend, and dogs! ❤

Five Songs That Make Me Happy:

  1. Beautiful Day by U2
  2. Fuckin Problems by A$AP Rocky, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and 2 Chainz 😉
  3. Lazaretto by Jack White
  4. I’ll Believe In Anything by Wolf Parade
  5. Clocks by Coldplay

My Nominees (I’m only doing three):

Thank you so much again to Ellen for nominating me for my first Happiness Tag! This was such a fun post to do! And again, please be sure to check out Ellen’s blog! What makes you happy? What’s your favorite feel good song? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

John Patrick Halling

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John Patrick Halling

So nice I’ll share it twice! 🙂

lifewithlilred

Hellooo everyone and welcome to a very special article on lifewithlilred about an extremely talented artist that I had the pleasure of getting to know, Kent, Ohio blues musician, John Patrick Halling. I was lucky enough to sit down for a chat with John Patrick about his most recent tour, his performance style, and some of the corniest jokes you’ll ever hear in your life.

Those who frequent my page will know that I have literally no talent for music. I can’t sing, I can’t play any instruments other than three songs on the guitar, and I also have cried during every concert I’ve ever attended – but that’s neither here nor there. What I’m getting at is that I LOVE talking with musicians because they are skilled at something that I wish I could do. John Patrick was no exception. He was humble and genuine with the quick wit…

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John Patrick Halling

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John Patrick Halling

Hellooo everyone and welcome to a very special article on lifewithlilred about an extremely talented artist that I had the pleasure of getting to know, Kent, Ohio blues musician, John Patrick Halling. I was lucky enough to sit down for a chat with John Patrick about his most recent tour, his performance style, and some of the corniest jokes you’ll ever hear in your life.

Those who frequent my page will know that I have literally no talent for music. I can’t sing, I can’t play any instruments other than three songs on the guitar, and I also have cried during every concert I’ve ever attended – but that’s neither here nor there. What I’m getting at is that I LOVE talking with musicians because they are skilled at something that I wish I could do. John Patrick was no exception. He was humble and genuine with the quick wit of a seasoned performer. Take a look at part of the interview conducted by yours truly and listen along to the songs we discuss on his website.

Our chat began with some rapid fire questions about John’s most recent two month musical excursion, his Boy in the Water US tour, so let’s get to it:

  • Lil Red: What was your favorite place you traveled to?
  • John Patrick Halling: Well I’m from Kansas City, so playing there was a lot of fun. I loved Asheville, North Carolina which was a cool little hippie city, and Boulder, Colorado too.
  • LR: What was your favorite tourist activity you did?
  • JPH: I liked trying all of the different foods and craft beers, sight seeing, and hiking! I hiked ten to twelve national parks. For two weeks of my travels I hiked from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon.
  • LR: Favorite restaurant?
  • JPH: Oh, what was it’s name? The Mellow Mushroom. It was in the south. It was wood fired pizzas, there was a lot of vegan and vegetarian options, and a bunch of stuff on the walls…Not in the TGIFridays or Applebee’s way, in the cool way. The Mexican food in New Mexico and Arizona was also out of this world. (So jealous, mama loves Mexican food!)
  • LR: Favorite venue?
  • JPH: It was called the Purple Fiddle in Thomas, West Virginia. This place was cool because it had a hostel built into the venue where the performers could stay as well as a crowd that was pretty much built in too from all of the tourists and locals.
  • LR: Where would you like to go again?
  • JPH: Everywhere! Wyoming was beautiful and it was filled with the nicest people – they were exactly how you would picture people from Wyoming to be, in the best way possible. I am bummed that I didn’t make it out west, though.
  • LR: How many shows did you play?
  • JPH: Around thirty…I played to a few empty coffee shops. I also performed at open mics and found a few good places on the streets where I would set up shop and play. Pearl Street in Boulder was great for that and so was San Antonio and Asheville.
  • LR: How many miles did you travel?
  • JPH: I traveled 12,000 miles in two months. But 2,000 of those miles was probably me driving around not knowing where I was going. My GPS system broke down halfway through the trip so I had to buy a road map, which was actually hard to find. I had to map out my routes and rough it and if all else failed, I still had my phone! Being on the road is a glamorous thing.

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^^^ Pictured above: John striking a pose in the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming as well as a scenic pic he snapped while driving into Kansas City.

After having a spitfire session about the Boy in the Water tour, John and I moved on to discussing his music, his style, and his future plans for his career. Please don’t think that I use the word spitfire lightly, either. All of the questions above were asked and answered in a little over five minutes. Everyone tells me that I’m a very fast talker and I met my match with John Patrick! Turn his music up and let’s move on:

  • LR: Where did the title for your album Boy in the Water come from? Are you part merman?
  • JPH: Well now the secrets out! I tried a lot of different titles but they were all basic and boring. My cousins and I are big fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and in one of the opening scenes Elizabeth is standing on a boat and she sees Will Turner flailing in the ocean and she says “there’s a boy in the water”. So the album title is a tip of my cap to my family as well as whatever metaphorical symbolism it might mean.
  • LR: What was the first song you learned on the guitar?
  • JPH: “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream and some Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Since we’re sitting in a Starbucks, I like my coffee how I like my Eric Clapton greatest hits albums, with a little bit of Cream in it!
  • LR: I was a fan of your Hawthorne Heights reference in “If I Would’ve Known”, who are some of your musical influences?
  • JPH: Everything. Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Hendrix. I grew up on 90’s country. I had a Rasta phase in high school where I listened to a lot of Bob Marley. I had my punk phase where I played a bunch of Blink, Simple Plan, and Green Day.
  • LR: Your lyrics are very poetic, have you always liked to write or was that a talent you didn’t know you had?
  • JPH: A little bit of both. I loved history and English classes which involved a lot of writing. I was also always a performer because I’m the middle child who was always striving for attention! I was very into theater in high school and played in quite a few different bands so I think all of these things helped develop my writing style.
  • LR: I thought it was interesting how in “Siren Song” you portrayed the devil as a woman. Is that based on a particular situation?
  • JPH: Kind of, but it also goes back to mythology in general when mermaids would sing their siren songs to tempt men. Women have always been men’s number one vice, asides from beer and cigarettes. But I also feel like I lose myself in relationships very easily. I try to change myself for the person and make myself into what they want me to be instead of finding someone who accepts me for my vices…If that makes sense.
  • LR: It makes perfect sense. Because I have a lot of fashion bloggers tuning in, how would you describe your look when you’re playing a show?
  • JPH: I wear whatever doesn’t smell. No, I’m a big hat guy, I have three or four wide brimmed Brixtons and Stetsons that I love. I also wear a lot of boots. You’ll never see me in shorts though, I’m always in jeans…I woke up like this.
  • LR: You should be a comedian if your music career falls through.
  • JPH: I actually love telling jokes on stage. Why does Peter Pan always fly? Because he never lands. That joke never gets old. It’s got a good hook to it.
  • LR: So where do you see John Patrick Halling one year from now?
  • JPH: Hopefully on the road again. I’d like to start recording a new album in January or February and be out on another tour by August. I have about ten to fifteen songs to narrow down so I’m still deciding on if it will be an album or an EP.
  • LR: And finally, does the drinking ever end in downtown Kent?
  • JPH: Not when you’re drinking with your friends!

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^^^ Pictured above: Sporting a signature hat in Asheville, North Carolina and a view of the picturesque Arches National Park in Utah. (Can we just talk about how the sky in both pictures looks like something out of a story book? So amazing.)

Are you a fan of John Patrick Halling? You can reach out to him by:

  • Liking his page on Facebook
  • Following him on Twitter
  • Following him on Instagram
  • Emailing him at: johnpatrickhalling@yahoo.com

You can also listen to the album Boy in the Water on all of the following mediums:

I really can’t begin to tell you guys how much I enjoyed my time with the fantastic John Patrick Halling. The pleasure was truly all mine and I can’t wait to see him perform in the near future! Do you have any questions for John Patrick? What is your favorite song off of his album Boy in the Water? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah