Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Here we are at Boogie Wonderland and it is so…much…fun!

It's been rather crazy round these parts over the last few months so I figured it's time to take a moment and share some of the fun and frenzy. But before I get to the mad recapping, I wanted to announce that you can download all three of my albums from my BandCamp page for free.  So have at it!

Okay, time to recap!  In my October post, I mentioned my crazy Halloween costumes that I made that were inspired by one of my favorite films, Amadeus. And in September's post I mentioned the IndepenDance show and shared some of my previous dance creations. But it looks like I missed quite a few events so let's go way back to September and begin with the epic event known as Interchange, a weekend filled with live shows, public speakers, and family friendly events to help bring our diverse community together.

One of the events during that weekend was the Interchange Remix Runway Show which showcased a whole heaping of incredible talent including singers and dancers and genuinely fun folks all on a stage setup just across the stream from the Bozeman Public Library. There were food vendors and twinkling lights hung all around the grove and a fabulous crowd that braved the chilly night to witness the awesomeness in all its flashy-tastic glory. So needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to perform my cowgirl burlesque number in the show!

that's Vanna Visceral so graciously donning the cow costume
That's me looking like a goofball along with Vanna Visceral in disguise.  I originally performed this number in The Visceral Show, but I did tweak my costume for this appearance by adding chaps, more sparkly bits, and switching our red bull costume for a giant black and white cow costume. Since the costume didn't have udders (seriously?) I made some myself. I also added a pocket behind the udders so Vanna could reach in and toss confetti in between the rubbing of her udders. It was so silly and fun and such a glorious night!  Thank you, Interchange!

In October, some of the choreographers from the IndepenDance performance were invited to take part in a special evening raising awareness for local charities and nonprofits.  The event was called "It's All About Giving" and featured performances in the Emerson theater and also in their ballroom with tasty treats and booths for viewing the work of each of the participating groups.  I was thrilled to be able to perform in Stevie Peterson's "Off to the Races" once again, and also perform my own piece "Pristine".  Here's a video of Pristine from the dress rehearsal. We're so androidy!

A huge thank you to the ladies of IndepenDance for helping to organize this event and to the folks of It's All About Giving for making this night possible and for making us feel so special throughout the rehearsals and on performance night!

Later that month, Rob and I had the wonderful opportunity to perform live at the Goth Ball right here in Bozeman. It's an annual party that is open to the public and features goth, industrial, and alternative music spun by local DJs. It was held at the Eagles which has a fabulous ballroom with a stage and an INCREDIBLE sound system. There was a great crowd with folks decked out in their darkest and gothiest attire.  Here's Rob and I in our costumes for the performance:

I had made my gown over the summer so nothing new needed to be sewn for it. For Rob's, I modified an 18th century style costume that I already owned. It originally had an attached vest that snapped the coat closed, but the snaps were big and goofy and the coat was too big overall, so I removed the "vest" and just altered the front so it's an open front coat.

We had two sets that night, each one was about twenty minutes. We played the first one rather early to a smaller crowd.  During my first song I was stricken with an almost immediate dry mouth so singing was a challenge that entire first set.  Not cool.  Even with drinking water between songs I felt like I had swallowed cotton.  After that set, I drank a ton of water to make sure that didn't happen again. Thankfully, the second set went off without a hitch!  Huzzah! It was such a fun night and we met so many wonderful people! Thank you to everyone who made this event possible and for all of the lovely people who attended!  It was a blast!

In November, we were honored to be invited to perform live during The Cottonwood Club's "The Future is Female" art event.  The Cottonwood Club hosts art shows and parties usually once a month in a basement space near downtown Bozeman.  Artists are invited to show their work and the public is invited to peruse the awesomeness and meet the artists. For this event, female artists from all over Montana and beyond submitted their work for consideration.  We were so excited and set to work on our costumes right away.  Since this was a themed event, Rob and I went with an overall pink palette.

For our costumes, Rob wore a white lab coat, white loafers, a pink tie, and painted his nails pink. I decided to make a new headpiece and skirt to complement my hot pink corset that I had made years ago. The skirt is from a prom dress that I bought for $10 a year ago, but never got around to altering. The headpiece was made from a headband, sparkly pink foam (for the cupcake liner), snow fluff (cotton bunting to mimic icing), a purple boa, three large feathers, a pink sparkly Christmas pick, a red cherry (made from cotton wrapped with red fabric and dipped in red glitter), and lots of cotton for filling the cupcake liner.  I also used some wooden skewers to help keep the snow fluff from shifting around on top of the liner. Oh, and I used a spray adhesive to add glitter to the entire icing fluff. That's one sparkly cupcake!

I was also excited to be able to show a video that I had created last summer that incorporated elements of Rob's original music videos along with some other unused footage from our filming sessions back in 2014. The video ran for approximately thirty minutes and was looped throughout the evening's event. It was originally created as a backup projection during Rob's live Sergeant Sawtooth shows, but this was the first official premiere!  Here are some screenshots.

The night was a great success and there were many new faces as well as familiar faces that made us feel very loved! Thank you to Dalton and The Cottonwood Club for this amazing opportunity!

Also in November, my new track "Hannibal" was included in the amazing compilation 33 Goth Bands You Should Know II released by Gothic Rock Magazine. How cool is that?  I was so freakin' excited to be included!  You can download the song and all of the incredible tracks featuring bands from around the world for free right now and right here:

In case you didn't know, I am a HUGE fan of the now cancelled show Hannibal.  Apparently NBC wasn't getting enough viewers, but it is an absolute travesty that a show this artistic and strange and beautiful and bizarre couldn't move to another network. So sad. I'm still sad.  So my song Hannibal is inspired by the show. If I had oodles of time I'd create a music video using clips from the show. That totally needs to happen. I should probably put that on my to do list.  This track will also appear on my fourth upcoming album Feast of Villains.

pause to appreciate those paws

In December, I was invited to perform burlesque for the Open Range restaurant's 1920s themed Repeal Party. Everyone as encouraged to dress in their flapper and gangster finest while charlestoning the night away to live music and fabulous themed libations.  For this appearance, I put together two burlesque numbers that would fit the bill.

My first act of the night was a champagne themed number called "Cheers!" complete with golden goddess wings, a large green fan, balloons that looked like champagne bubbles, and a champagne headpiece. For this costume, I wore a green, gold, and black costume that I had made.  Some of the pieces I had constructed years ago, but I did revamp the corset with a few new tweaks. The headpiece was brand spanking new. I created the champagne bottle out of sparkly foam then used cotton and gold star accents for the popped cork effect. The champagne glass is plastic and I filled it with silver and gold glitter. I used cotton on top of it so it looked all bubbly. I also used part of a green boa and tall green and black feathers as accents.  It was definitely a little tricky to keep this headpiece still on top of the wig and there was a malfunction late in the performance, but hopefully everyone was more distracted by my sparkly underthings to notice! I also incorporated balloons filled with confetti which was a new fun twist for me and now it's my absolute favorite trick!

My second number I called "Red Hot" which utilizes a large red fan, long red boa arm attachments, and confetti filled balloons as props.  This one required another new headpiece and some new underthings. You can't see the bra and panties, but they are covered in red, orange, and yellow sequin flames. Sizzle sizzle! The other costume pieces I already had in storage including the corset and removable skirt. The headpiece I constructed by using Christmas picks (these were in the shapes of leaves, but looked like flames to me), part of a red boa, and some red sequin trim, all glued and wired to a headband. It was one hell of a hotly totsy event!  Thank you, Open Range! You were the cat's meow!

Throughout the rest of December, I had the opportunity to photograph three amazing dance performances.  Holiday season is always Nutcracker season and Bozeman has plenty of dance extravaganzas to suit everyone.  The first show of the season was Main Street Dance Theatre's annual Twas the Night Before Christmas, which follows the story of a little girl who asks Santa to bring gifts from all over the world for her family.  

The next show was The Dance Center's annual Nutcracker in a Nutshell, which is a condensed version of the Nutcracker with their own unique spin on the tale. This year's storyline featured a little girl who brings her Nutcracker doll to her uncle, the toymaker.  After being enchanted by the toys in his shop, Clara falls asleep and witnesses the battle with the rat king with her transformed Nutcracker, then visits the land of the sweets. The performance concludes with a stunning and magical dance of the snowflakes.

The Yellowstone Ballet Company's annual performance of their Nutcracker took a more whimsical approach this year and combined the usual tale with the dastardly Grinch from Dr. Seuss. The production was set in Whoville where the Grinch mischievously appears throughout the performance, fighting the prince in place of the rat king, but he eventually has a change of heart and joins Mary Lou Who on her journey to the land of the sweets. Their guest artists are always exceptional and this year's performance was an absolute treat!

Thus concludes 2015.  And what an adventurous year it was!  Happy New Year!

There were no performances or events in January which gave me a wonderful opportunity to dive into more creative projects.  Highlights of the month included my discovery of the cool photo app Enlight, photographing Rob's stunning daughter, and working on my next music album.

So with Enlight, you can apply some really artistic filters, lighting effects, backgrounds, borders, brushes, gradients, layers, even text to your photos. You can import them directly from your iPhone camera or your Dropbox.  As far as I can tell, they export at the same resolution that you import them and they do not overwrite the originals.  I tweaked a few of my photos that were first edited in Photoshop and Lightroom, then imported them into Enlight, then exported them back to Photoshop.  Here's what the before and after photos look like.  The before photos are on the left with the Enlight versions on the right.  I'm definitely hooked!

I discovered Enlight from one of those "best of 2015" apps lists online. It only costs a few bucks, but it is totally worth it if you're looking to add some really artsy fartsy effects or just want to snazzy up your iPhone pics.

Which leads me to my next photo project!  Before heading off for a semester in Amsterdam, Rob's daughter changed her blonde locks to a whimsical silvery purple so we had a photoshoot to capture the magic and celebrate her transformation! Here are some of the pics of Monica in all her radiant beauty.

In the musical realm, I'm currently working on my fourth album "Feast of Villains" and I will be working on it throughout February.  So far it's been almost three years in the making.  I'm desperately trying to get it finished up for a March release, but it's been a challenge. Some of the songs I wrote almost two years ago and revisiting them again is rather frustrating. It's the curse of the process, I guess. You write something and you feel triumphant, telling yourself that you love it, that it works, that it's final and ready for release. Then you work on other songs and when you revisit that earlier one you question "what the hell was I thinking? this sucks!". Then you start tinkering with it. And tinkering some more.  Then you question, is it even worth it?  It still basically sucks. Then you get distracted by making other songs and abandon it again. Then you realize that maybe it just needs a little more love. Then you decide, no, it's crap.  It's dead to me.  And then you discover that you've wasted so much time trying to make the heaping pile of doodoo work.  Ah, tis the curse of creation, I guess.

Out of this back and forth misery, I have created some newer songs and I think they're coming along rather nicely. Guess we'll see if any more land in the doodoo pile.  Okay, back to work on the tunes!

Opening quote: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)