Saturday, January 25, 2014

CP's Suggestions for Writing Bios (For DJS & Performers)

Ahhh late January. Summer dreams are slipping into collective realms over here. For MANY of my artist friends the season of summer fest gig-conjuring and bio-updating is upon us. As someone who's written one or two bios and read about ten thousand, I figured I'd share some thoughts and techniques. Who knows, perhaps someone may notice and find it helpful. Some may also notice my not-so-sneaky alteriour motives from a hot bed of nerdiness, but heyyy. Whatcha goin' do. :)

Ok so before we get into my suggestions, I'll come out with my personal preferences up front. I'm VERY interested in seeing fresh semantics when it comes to referring to (and defining) the different nuances within "festival” or “bass” culture. Personally, I'm not actually a huge fan of either of those terms, nor EDM nor rave nor "underground"; although I have definitely used them in my writing for lack of better options. Ya gotta establish at least SOME frame of reference right? But in general I find that they are just wayyyy too broad and subjective now to be used effectively to paint a picture on their own. I think maybe that's why people are using words like "boutique" to describe some festivals now... a little more descriptive. Same with genres. No-one wants to be locked into a genre anyway, hence all the DJs who suddenly “defy genre” in bios nowadays.  Honestly I feel like saying that is sometimes worse than picking a genre, especially if unaccompanied by anything qualitative, because it don't really give us ANY information. As our world/movement continues to grow and diversify, I for one would love to see more energy and audacity in how people describe and write about it. Like, just try stuff. Who cares if it doesn't catch on? Gotta start somewhere. My fingers are crossed for quicker evolution there, and, as much as possible, perhaps eventually the dissolution of wide categories or broad genre-like terms entirely in favour of more specific, evocative ones. That'd be my dreamworld. Of sass. Let's try something new shall we?

Now that I've been fully up front about that, I'd like to present to you a couple quick suggestions and techniques for assembling your DJ / performer / artist bio.

I often suggest that the first thing anyone does when writing a bio is put away the computer. OMG I KNOW, CRAZY!!! :) But honestly, staring at the blank computer page just makes my own mind go – well.. blank, which kind of makes sense, when you think about it. So just trust me and close it for a sec.

Now take a minute to think about a few of the things I'm about to list in the next paragraph, and then call a friend. Preferably someone who doesn't really know much about the scene, like your day-job co-worker or your mom or someone. Explain to them that this is an exercise. Get them on the phone or go for a walk and find a cool spot to sit and talk to them for a minute.

Try to forget for a moment that you're writing a bio. Now, in everyday language, start describing to them how you envision your performances in the same way you would as if you were inviting them to come check one out. Describe everything to them... the tone of the event, the type of vibe it is, what kind of environment, what kind of people are there. Imagine this as your ideal-type situation and NOT necessarily at the fest you're applying for or any event in particular. Describe exactly what you'd envision as far where you'd be playing, colours and lighting in the room, what people are wearing, are they dancing / nodding / chilling? The time of day, the general mindframe everyone is in; what their feelings are in your perfect world. If it's a couple different scenarios, that's ok too. (Burlesque dancers, don't forget to fantasize in the vintage elements here.. what about the historical influences? What aspects of your persona's lifestyle and preferred era are relevant here? Think like your alter-ego).

If you're the kind of person where your music or performance is the soundtrack or accompaniment to some sort of image or story in your mind – like a robot fight or a slow-motion strut or afternoon high-tea or the early morning pensive spliff or the hot moment in the backseat of a car... tell those stories too. (Well, maybe don't describe the backseat of a car story if you are using your mom). But describe all of that via phone or in person with your phone recording you.

AFTER you're totally done describing each element verbally - then -- you guessed it – go back over the recording and write down all the descriptive words you were using. Transcribe or translate all the adjectives and elements you touched on, even if they weren't totally perfect. Then start choosing your favourites, looking for the most most evocative words. Then - switch back to bio-mode. See what works within that list of words and descriptions that you can apply to your "style" of djing or performing. DON'T WORRY about describing things perfectly or whether people will know exactly what you mean. It's ok – and often preferable – to leave room for interpretation. The bios I love the most use words that refer to the pacing, vibe, colours and energies of the music or act itself. Like "crisp" "lush" "layered" "bright" “nostalgic” "tense" "bare" “dark” “glowing” “dreamy” “climatic” "dramatic" “hard” etc etc... allows the reader to translate the connotations of sound and texture and colour into an impression. "Low Indigo" is a great example of that (shouts Michael Red), also the words that make up the SHAHdjs anagram: Smooth Hard Aggressively Happy. So perfect for a drum'n'bass crew.

If you're less verbal or get stuck, think of one of your blabby/”talker”/ friends like me, heh heh, who could describe that stuff TO YOU while you record or transcribe THEM. But only do this after you've tried it yourself at least once. No one knows you better than you. And don't worry, no one has to hear it. We live in a digital age where you can record, use and delete that shit with three touches. Why not make use eh?

Also if you are less verbal and more of a visual creature... remember, graphics and photographs are your tools. Be DELIBERATE. What kind of images do your selections evoke? Or vice-versa? Jacob Frumlater's tumblr is a good example of that. Very deliberate aesthetic vibe. Or the Sanctums shirts, or really anything Sergio Levels does. On the lighter side, I love MC DevonThinkTank's choice of images and photoshops. So evocative of his vibe... like, what does that picture sound like? That guy looks hilarious, smart and FUN! I want to hear him do his thing. (Be careful of course about respecting people's work.. sharing is caring on blogs / FB pages but make sure to give credit. If you want to use an image to promote yourself as part of an application you should have the rights to it or explicit permission from the artist). If your image is awesome and complex you can usually get away with keeping your bio simpler... short and sweet. In fact, concise is usually better. I'm still working on that. :) 
MC Think Tank's Awesome Photoshopped Bio Pic

Basically anytime anyone puts some energy and care into choosing or curating descriptives while allowing room for evolution and curiosity – activating the imagination a little -- a bio comes to life. Now think about how much more interesting and less limiting it is to do THAT instead of pointing to some other frame of reference that is constantly diversifying or shifting anyway. “Funk” or “dubstep” or "neo-burlesque", for example. Think of how DRAMATIC the way those words' definitions have evolved over the past 5 years and how they continue to differ among “tribes”. ;) Words like that could mean so many things... and besides, EVERYONE ELSE is using them. Meh.

I'm not saying you have to ditch your genre terms altogether. I'm just pointing out that using more universally established adjectives keeps your promo accessible and attractive to peeps newer to the movement. Music “heads” aside, the terms “intelligent” or “future” are maybe helpful for people who have a frame of reference for the kind of music being described that way at like, this exact moment. However, those words don't always help those who might still be a little unclear what that means exactly. SHOCKER: There are WAY MORE people than you might think who are nodding and dropping those terms when they actually don't know what the fuck they are talking about. Including me although I will NEVER ADMIT THAT outside of this blog post. And let me tell you, my friends who don't really know/care what “future” means still make for a damn good dance floor crew ummmmkay... so don't forget to try to peak their interest. Use some genuinely enticing words, not just "cool" ones. 

On a very-much related note - I see a lot of up-and-comers wanting to appeal to said “heads” and their friends / role-models or potential party organizers in their bios. I would suggest not to worry about that as much. Honestly from what I understand of the application process for a festival, the bio is gravy. Your application is actually more about your tracks and mixes as well as time-slots and flow - what spots they are they looking to fill? What other styles have they booked already? Also don't underestimate professionalism. The completeness and error-free-ness of your application, along with any reputation you may have for being integral/responsible, how easy you are to work with, and YOUR DRAW, are all part of the consideration game. Now - if you are building a draw and don't necessarily have the luxury of people already associating your name with certain sounds or the quality of a signifier/label, I would suggest your sounds or video will do most of the talking as far as the booker is concerned. Your bio, again, therefore needs to focus on drawing people to your set and helping you stand out once you have the gig. So worry less about listing every headliner that played on the stage you played last year. Worry more about using words that are pragmatic and will appeal or make sense to a wide array of people so they come check it out. Then next year, or the year after, the experience people associate with your name or your new label/crew name will slowly qualify you.

Make DAMN SURE to have someone smarty-pants proof-read for grammar and spelling. Bad spelling, punctuation and grammar are THE WORST. If you put twenty hours into your mix or video and you can't put an hour into your grammar... FAIL. Just send it to your nerdy friend who loves doing that shit. Also, nothing wrong with hiring someone or trading with someone to write something for you. I hear a lot of writers like music and I hear DJs collect a lot of it, eh? EH??? :)

Another super important thing -- KEEP YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS FACTUAL. Stay away from “Vancouver's top party-rockin' DJ” or “Canada's top burlesque dancer” and other such self-given titles. They are an eye-roll bonanza. If you have released music, thrown events, hosted a radio show, moderated a relevant group, won awards, etc etc, by ALL MEANS - those are great things to mention. Or use quotes from reputable people in your scene. Lola Frost's CV website is a great example of that. But let the facts suggest how important or “top” you are. Don't decide for yourself. It kinda ruins your credibility when you don't have hard facts to back up your claims. 

OK AND ONE MORE NOTE just because it's driving me crazy... can we all try some other words in addition to “getting excited” when posting or promoting events? I see it over and over and over and over again and I know its hard to come up with alternatives but actually.. well, it's not really that hard. It may be true that you're "excited" and I know it's the easiest option, but I challenge you to take a sec and use something else once and awhile... I fear the repetition of a word in people's feeds makes it slowly lose its effectiveness. And then NO ONE will be excited. Ever. :) How about: 

eagerly anticipating
looking forward to
feeling vibes for this
fired up
revved up
peeing my pants
doing a happy dance
can't effin' wait
etc etc etc

To conclude, the gist of what I want to point out is this: language is a beautiful art-form --- much like music, painting, fashion, photography, etc. I'm not saying everyone needs to have works of art for their bios; what I am saying is that it's an opportunity that deserves a bit of thought. Don't to be afraid to apply your creativity and uniqueness. Does that make sense? In our community, bios, blogs, site copy, artist names and song titles and lyrics are the main opportunities the we have to exercise the written word, and its a huge element of the arts... so take advantage! We now have so many more tools at our fingertips to even out the playing field a little when it comes to spelling, and our current times offer MAD flexibility around new words and styles --- emoticons and text terms have revolutionized “acceptable” language. Basically a person can now create a their own vernacular and writing style... things don't have to be so “correct” anymore.

If you're still like, "meh.. writing", think of it as an opportunity to activate someone whose passion IS or maybe COULD BE writing. Keep your eyes peeled... these people are EVERYWHERE and they are not always up front about it. A good clue is if they read a lot. :) If anyone is looking for help, Stephanie Sara Leia (an editor at AdBusters) is genuinely passionate about helping artists rep their word. There's also Holly McGowan, an up-and-coming free-lance writer in our community who is PUMPED to write bios if anyone is interested. 

Happy bio-ing dahhhhhhhhhhlinks! hope some of this is helpful. :)


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kitten Make-Outs and Hippie Realness


Fair. It's been a hot minute since I've revved the ol' pull cord on this blog. I needed to take a step back and do some that there personal work don't-ya-know, not the least of which included channeling all my writing-type juice into journaling. Apparently, or so they told me, you're supposed to do that kind of shit in a totally unbiased way like, NOT involving the idea that other people will be reading it. I was like, GASP!! WHILE NO ONE'S PAYING ATTENTION??? RIDICULOUS. What's the POINT even?? :) Hahahaha. Needless to say I soon remembered "the point", and it worked its magic, among other things. Now I'm feeling like the new year has come, the energy has shifted and I'm closing the page on an extremely important and transformative year of my life. Snake business INDEED. 

In the meantime did upload a spanky new website (as noted in my last post below almost a year ago) in which I posted a few press releases and newsletters. You can still see them if you click to my site in the menu bar above and then hit the NEWS tab. I really only did about one editorial post, which I'm copy-posting here just cuz I think it's funny and still pretty true. Reading it now I can see clearly that it's me giving myself permission to fully step into this upward shift in consciousness, and trying to work out how that was gonna fit into my sassy-ass bitch ways. The first step was language. It's always language. For me semantics is a key magic power (as you'll read about in my next post about writing bios) so my language did change quite a bit after this and continues to evolve into new depths of showgrrrl hippie realness lingo. It was and continues to be hilarious I feel. Robert Downey Jr, Cherry's spirit animal, agrees.

Looking forward to letting the words flow once more here... also to doing some video blogging! Got me a fancy new HD camera type thingy so I can talk at you too!! As an important introduction, please observe this amazing video of my hot friend Leiah Droptryx's two kittens making out. 

CRITICAL STUFF HERE FOLKS. Ohhhh we're gonna have fun this year. I can feel it. 

All the lurrrrve,



From April 3rd, 2013:
Sup Sasspots!

Important announcement. 

To commemorate my 32nd year upon planet Earth, I'd like to publicly announcing my official life / runway category for Spring/Summer 2013: Crystal Precious: Serving Hippie Realness.
That's right bitches. It's full-on fucking hippie-diva-huntie city up in this piece. And I'm not talking about excuses to do a shit-ton of hallucinogens or to try to get laid, cuz although that stuff can certainly be part of the process, I think I'm now past that part... and actually I don't need excuses for any of that shit. I'll just do it. But now we're getting into the deep shit. Like REALNESS. So like, in my self-proclaiming CP-style diva-twerked self-encouragement of healing stuff, loving nature & like, being conscious of like, consciousness and shit, I hereby declare a general shift in that direction.
Prepare yourselves for harmonized backstage chanting of diva "power" songs (MIA's "Bad Girls" is a SSB fave at the mo), newstyle creature medicine-speak to go along with our super-cute animal costumes and such expressions as "Spirit says ___ Huntie!! " accompanied by ultra dramatic finger-wagging. ("Spirit says follow your damn heart Huntie!!''; "Spirit says let's recycle all these empty champagne bottles!!" etc. etc.) 

I say if it's from the heart, and its not misconstrued or disrespectful appropriation. Again: its REALNESS. I say why NOT have fresh and entertaining ways of bringing spiritual language into our every day lives? And WITHOUT associating it with the somber, dramatic sensationalism and negative stereotypes normally associated with "new age" culture? Fuck all that shit, that's not how we do. Some frontin' bad rap's not gonna stop me from aligning my effin' chakras. I think its total bullshit that people write off one of the most important aspects of life because of misrepresentation, other peoples' possible eccentricities or lack of authenticity. Every culture's had their own twist on many of the same belief systems for thousands of years... why the fuck can't we? Let's have as much fun with it as we do with everything else. 

I feel it's important. AND IT'S HAPPENING.  FYI. SO THERE. 
Announcement complete.

With warmest regards, ultra hot pink sassvibes and pure love,
Crystal Fucking Precious

Image by Tiffany Ireland / Make-up by Teresa Bussey of Dead Heaven

Monday, January 20, 2014

Saturn, Tron & 2010. Fin.

K so first thing's first: Tron.

My official stance is as follows: yes, the eye candy IS worth all the sentimental bullshit plot torture you have to endure to get to the cool parts. Cuz the cool action special effects parts are PRETTTTY fucking cool, and you know I've been living at a rave for the past 80 years so I'm not easily amused by just ANY lazer and glow-stripe combo (ps: what's up with holiday blockbusters trying to look like raves? RRRRRRRiiiiight).

Anyway. EVERYONE knows that a) Jeff Bridges is KING (seriously, although to be fair, pretty much the best parts of him in this movie are when he channels The Dude) and b) robot/iso chicks are HAWT, especially if they look like Lola Frost and are almost as physically apt (almost). Observe:

Cory of Tron - (HAWTTT)

Lola Frost of Sweet Soul Burlesque (HAWTTT):


Having said all that the cool action parts are still a little too few and far between for my liking, so make sure to only take a MILD hallucinogenic as opposed to a strong one because otherwise the romantic plot crap will KILL YOU. It's wayyyyy too slow and you'll hurt your brain trying to follow it (it's shoddy and to be honest, altogether unnecessary).

My advice would be to take like, a quarter of a hit of mild acid and to bring someone to make out with during the slow parts... so it would be like: watch fun trippy movie, wow video-game robot bikes are rad and awesome, oh fuck crappy plot moment... k make-out-make-out-handjob-whatever-make-out. Oh look! The movie's at fun part again. Repeat. Yeah I think that'd pretty much be the ideal way to do Tron. Might do that again this week actually if I can dig up the right partner in crime. ;)

In the meantime I got to lay out a bunch at some friends' LOVELY family home and gratefully chill out a bit, as well as eat, get stoned, watch copious Entourage reruns and embellish various costume bits. Been reflecting on the whole Saturn Returns thing that's been pretty much steering my life for the past year and a half and thinking it's been so NEEDED. Like for real. Even though it began with horrible horrible mind and faith-shattering betrayal (always fun) as well as personal AND professional upheaval (also super fun)... I must admit that things REALLY HAVE eventually worked out for the best. My life is very different than it was then, in a very very good way. Imagine that, those damn planets and stars were RIGHT. AGAIN. Sheesh. It's almost like this PATTERN or something. Heh heh.

Don't think I'm quite out of the woods yet though... still tying up loose ends and de-clogging. After Dollhouse I did an initial shit sweep but I'm scraping the next layer now... for the next three days it's all about admitting that the things I don't touch are the things I don't use and hence, the things I don't need. I want to get RID of them. BYE BYE. Massive purge-a-thon. DVDS. CDs. Crafty bits that are SO DEAD and wayy behind me. Fucking clothes I've been pretending to wear but don't ever. Books I haven't read in a decade. Accessories that have been accessorizing the space in my jewelry boxes more than my tits. BORING. Want some? Hit me up. I'm done. Make way for the newness. Newness likes space dammit.

Speakin' of newness I've also been thinkin' on some 2011 resolutions. Oh yeah, GUESS WHAT: I'm SOOOO not the kinda bitch that worries about what I'm NOT gonna do. FUCK THAT SHIT. Instead, here's some shit I AM gonna do. It's my....

Crystal Precious' 2011 New Year's Resolutions TOP TEN LIST!!!!
By Crystal Precious.

1. Release a record. Not sure if it's gonna be the Striphop EP or full-length album, prolly EP. Depends on how many tracks I can get to the point of feeling really fucking great about. Either way it's going in your earholes by summer, so help me god.

2. Learn to sew. At least to the point where I can do my own reconstruction and alterations. Honestly how hard can this fucking shit be? I'm not retarded right? I mean, when I THINK of the hilarious steez level this could take me to, I can almost forget about all of my previous sewing machine failures (some of which admittedly made my friends laugh like nitrus'd hyenas). Apparently though there is this cute place in Vancouver called Spool of Thread that gives lessons and they don't know about any of my prior disaster projects. It could be a whole new clean slate!!! I'm doing it. What's the worst that could happen? My stitches fall out and my clothes fall off... oh BOO-FUCKING-HOO. Like that's never happened before.

3. Focus on quality social encounters instead of quantity. I LOVE MY FRIENDS. So why are we screaming at each other over stacks 20 inch subs every time we see each other instead of every OTHER time? Honestly. Conversation and creation. More. Together. Now. With cheese.

4. Do a 30-Day Yoga Challenge. I've never done one before and it looks hard. Hey, I like things that are hard.

5. Get tattooed for my 30th birthday this April (I'm an Aries bitch). Wings & feathers and colour and sass. For REAL. Milestones have been reached, decisions have been made. I'm a showgrrl for life. Time to make it permanent and known. Shwa: get yer gun out.

6. Go to Burning Man. I will have my ticket by the end of January or February and I will put it on my fridge so I see it every time I hit the dairy thingy. I'm not sure who I'm going with or where I'm staying, but I'm feeling like it will be a primarily solo mission once I'm there. And I'm going. I'm READY. Rites of Passage INDEED, uh... only the story of my fucking life for the past two years. Whenever I close my eyes it's like this little picture book I've seen before and there's this little character of me running through the playa in a frog outfit. Jumping up and down occasionally. Very cute. Must make real. Ribbit!

7. Continue to remove or limit interaction with all people, projects and things that are not serving my greater purpose of RAISING OVERALL WORLD SASS LEVELS. This is a very important mission I feel. No one must distract me with anything sass-sucking. And to be clear, this doesn't mean removing people that challenge me, just people who disrespect me. Guess what? NO PIE FOR YOU.

8. SING MORE. Every day. Every single, living breathing day. Singing. Let's go.

9. Love deeply, truly, fiercely, passionately. DEEPLY DAMMIT. Just LOVE and just let all my lovely little loves be what they are, and to love them for that and feel grateful for them. Yeah yeah, I'm a fucking hippie. We've been over this. Not to get all Whitney but uhh.... gonna give myself a lotta love this year. And every year after that. Forever. And ever. Cuz when it comes right down to it, everything else is gravy. Really, really hot, tasty gravy perhaps... but gravy all the same. (Mmmm. Gravy.)

10. Finish my goddamn Summer of Sass blog, for FUCK'S SAKE. Two biggest installs are coming up: Shambles and Acapulco... actually I'm pretty stoked I've left them for gray weather when I lavish in dreams of sun cause they'll gimme a good hit of those this month. The new CP cruiser (aka Britney) hasn't gone out nearly enough this month. Although I have to say rollin' around in a sweater and chucks for X-mas sure didn't piss me off. Sorry Wpg, the West Coast kiiiinda has you beat there... even if we don't have M&M Meat Shops. Missed that shit this year, natch, not gonna lie ;)

And so... those are my 2011 resolutions. With that and a hot hair flip flourish I say, "Peace out 2010!!! It's been real." And it has. But I'm not sad about the changes cuz I made 'em, I wanted 'em, whether the means was tough or not. The journey is the meat of it ain't it? Just like when we were kids, gotta eat your spinach to get to dessert... and then you realize that spinach is actually kinda tasty. If you put pepper on it.

Our show at the Keefer on Thursday (click here for detes) is gonna be KILLER, hopefully Tristan doesn't come as close to burning the place down this week as last week (I'm so serious though, come down and I'll tell you the story)... and then NYE is going to be SO SO SO killer, I'm so stoked. I get to do sassy cabaret numbers at Chambar with Hebegebe and then walk a couple blocks down to W2 Lights NYE to rave hard with all the crews... yess!!!!! Awww yeah. My fave combo fo' shiz. Looking forward particularly to some of the grimier hiphop shit, been feeling that A LOT lately (SHOCKER, I know). Particularly looking forward to dancing HARD in LOTS of glitter to Max Ulis & Self Evident, Mr. Michael Red (whom I haven't seen play in FOREVER, so excited), Bevvy Swift and the Librarian.... making bass face and bending my knees already. I like it deep n' delicious. Like cake.

K gotta get the sequins in a row. I'm gonna get rid of a whole truckload of shit, I've decided. Startiiiiiing NOW.

2011: Warm me up baby. Let's get down. I'm open.

big loves