’16 Soundtrack: January

Candi Pop

Photo by Say Cheese and Die at the launch of Candi Pop in Los Angeles.

I was probably dancing to either Spice Girls, *NSYNC or maybe S Club 7 in the above photo at Candi Pop, The Satellite‘s new monthly bubblegum pop dance party. That’s a far cry from what I listen to on a regular basis. Although, shout out to yung j for attending about eight *NSYNC concerts while in elementary school (thanks mom).

My music taste is diverse, but according to my Spotify Year In Music for 2015, these are my top genres:

Spotify Year In Music - Genres

Looks about right. I’m the type of person who falls in love with music that was probably first recorded in a garage and performed in a sweaty club in the UK by boys in tight jeans and short-sleeve collared shirts. Leather or denim jacket optional.

For the first month of 2016, my personal soundtrack includes a lot of music I discovered by falling down Spotify’s rabbit hole of related artists pages and recommendations from friends. Please enjoy and listen via my Spotify playlist, or by exploring the YouTube links below.

TRACKLISTING

I Wear Glasses” – Mating Ritual
Blanket” – Oh, Be Clever
You Are The Right One” – Sports
Beat Of My Drum” – Powers
Feels” – Swimm
UGH!” – The 1975
Foulbrood” – Two Inch Astronaut
It Hurts Until It Doesn’t” – Mothers
New In Town” – Little Boots
I Think I Like You” – sirenXX
Manufactured Love” – Michael Blume
BITE” – Troye Sivan
Good For You (MOONZz Redo) – MOONZz
Be Apart” – Porches
Blue Bucket Of Gold” – Gallant and Sufjan Stevens

I hope your ears are happy (the 1:25 section of “Manufactured Love” is dreamy, am I right?) If you have some tracks you’re eager to share, please tell me about them in the comments section.

Make Good Choices

Make-Good-Choices

“Make good choices,” I told myself on the first day of 2016. It was a stern and understanding resolution. Like most people, I evolve all year and make mini resolutions along the way as I recognize more about myself and my intentions. The start of each year is the most obvious time to feel more motivated to make changes. With the New Year comes a mindset that a person’s messy past will be tidied in order to march forward with a fresh hope for better things to come.

I welcome change every day. It’s daunting and can be frustrating when the process is slow, but it’s also undoubtedly worth it. I try my best to keep my positive mental attitude (PMA) in check. When life has its insufferable times, attempting to have a PMA helps me work through them.

Hello 2016. It’s me. I will continue to figure out how to make good choices when I:

~Rediscover and learn more skills
~Keep well (mentally and physically)
~Save those dolla dolla bills, y’all
~Let ghosts of my past free

Here’s a Pinterest board to visualize what I want my year to look like, and this wouldn’t be a “Jenay” post without some tunes.

Listen to my 2016 Vibes playlist on Spotify, or check it out below.

“Lessons” – SOHN
“begin again” – Purity Ring
“Bury It” – CHVRCHES
“Loudspeaker” – MUNA
“Ride” – twenty one pilots
“Eros” – Young The Giant
“Waves” – Kid Cadaver
“Days” – The Drums
“Adult Diversion” – Alvvays
“THE QUIET” – Troye Sivan
“Desire” – Years & Years
“U” – Mikky Ekko
“Two Way Street” – Kimbra
“What If” – Bombay Bicycle Club
“Love Me” – The 1975
“Do Better” – Say Anything
Golden Coast” – Allison Weiss
“Let’s Dance To Joy Division” – The Wombats
“Rebel Yell” – Waters
“Roses” – Angus & Julia Stone
“Can You Hear Me” – Dan Croll
“Resolution” – Matt Corby
“See Me” – Tei Shi
“Wait” -M83

15 Favorite Albums of 2015


Music impressed me this year. New Music Monday turned New Music Friday became a day I anticipated more than ever, and I was rarely let down. By April, I knew choosing my favorite albums of 2015 would be much more difficult than the previous year.

I’m not here to tell you the “best” albums of 2015, because in my opinion, there’s no such thing as making an objective decision on art that’s so deeply rooted in human emotion and interpretations. Plus I probably missed some brilliant, indie release that never really surfaced. So I will share my favorites out of the albums I looped repeatedly. These songs bookmark some significant moments, both good and bad, I had this year. I most definitely danced, had an epiphany, laughed, and cried while listening to them.

My list is alphabetized (by artist) below because I’m incapable of choosing an absolute favorite, and here’s a Spotify playlist for easy listening. Which albums did you cling to in 2015? Please share in the comments section!

25 – Adele

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California Nights – Best Coast

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Every Open Eye – CHVRCHES

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 Chaos And The Calm – James Bay

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You Should Be Here – Kehlani

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To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

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Crybaby – Melanie Martinez

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Time – Mikky Ekko

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Sponge Fingerz – New Beat Fund

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another eternity – Purity Ring

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Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens

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Glitterbug – The Wombats

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 Blurryface  – twenty one pilots

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VHS – X Ambassadors

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Communion – Years & Years

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I added an EP to this list as a bonus, because my friends in Kid Cadaver put out a great one this year. After being introduced to them and experiencing their live show, I quickly understood the appeal and became a supporter. These guys are a part of some great 2015 memories, including this music video I was a part of for their single “Keep Well.” I root for them and I hope you will too.

Roam – Kid Cadaver

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’15 Soundtrack: November

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I was at The Wiltern when a sea of people chanted, “We gon’ be alright,” with Kendrick Lamar. That moment of pure, positive energy in the venue woke me up. We all have our battles to fight. Some battles are more difficult than others, but they are all significant. As this year turns its final pages to end its chapter, I’ve acknowledged how much I’ve learned about myself in 2015. One alarming detail is that I’m not entirely sure who I am anymore. But once I had this ah-ha moment, I began to see my world more clearly and can now make moves to rediscover the kind of person I am and can be.

I shamefully admit that I compare myself to others quite often by analyzing their lives against my own. But I am nobody but myself. And when I try to push myself to be a certain way, I might actually be losing a part of what makes me Jenay. Life’s a strange journey of self-discovery. I think it’s a stressful, life-long mission that also has some gorgeous potential. Instead of spiraling into a panic of “WHO AM I THOUGH??” for the rest of my life, I’m trying to accept the intricacies of my identity by thinking of the journey as an opportunity to try new things, revisit what I loved as a child, and put this wonky little puzzle of my life together.

A few days ago during the Thanksgiving weekend, my family welcomed a new member, my baby cousin. It was love at first sight. It’s wild to feel so strongly about a person when you know nothing about them. In this case, he literally has no identity apart from his race and biological gender. I find it exciting because our family is able to witness his development as an individual from day 1. I find it fascinating to see how and why people become the way they are.

I’m already planning to be the auntie who discusses music with him, in hopes that he gains an appreciation for it. Music has played a huge role in molding who I am. This ’15 Soundtrack series documents which songs had an impact on my year, by month, which is one of my favorite aspects of it. I hope you enjoy the November playlist. As always, it’s available on Spotify, or you can click the video links below.

TRACKLISTING

Close To Me” – The Cure
Wanna Know” – Dan Croll
No No No” – Beirut
Mad Hatter” – Melanie Martinez
Alright” – Kendrick Lamar
Better” – Banks
Corner” – Night Beds
L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N” – Noah and the Whale
Valerie (Live at BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge)” – Amy Winehouse
River” – Leon Bridges
re:stacks” – Bon Iver
Take It Back” – Liza Anne
Search For More” – From Indian Lankes
Ship To Wreck” – Florence + The Machine
Where Are Ü Now” – Skrillex, Diplo and Justin Bieber

Drop a note in the comments section with songs you’re spinning lately.

Babe Vibes: Methods of Self-Care

Babe Vibes

What are “babe vibes” and where can I get some? Designer Kara Haupt developed Babe Vibes as a way to collaborate with other creative women to make publications and projects that exuded “energy, vulnerability, identity, and empowerment.” While perusing their site, I began to understand the power of living the babe lifestyle. I already had babe vibes, but neglected to recognize their true potential.

Methods of Self-Care

Photo by Mara Keller ::: Found on babevibes.com

Jodie Layne and Kara’s “Methods of Self-Care” zine intrigued me the most. I’ve thought a lot about self-care and what it means for me, but haven’t pinned down the best way to follow through with the action. I figured these two babes would have some words of wisdom.

Two pages in, tears puddled my bottom eyelids before stinging my cheeks. My hands covered my eyes as if I was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to see, although I was alone in my bed. “Why are you crying? Stop it, you wimp,” I scolded myself. Then I shut up. Why was I insulting myself? I was acting like a normal human and feeling perfectly acceptable emotions. It was 12:59am, the standard time I start to shake my head, knowing I should have fallen asleep an hour ago. But I’m a night owl and reading the zine affected me. As I turned into a weeping willow, I couldn’t sleep. I needed to acknowledge what I was feeling and understand why I was crying, because there was a reason.

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Identity crisis. Self-doubt. Feelings of not being good enough. Personally, all of this is a result of abandonment issues I developed at a young age (that’s a more complicated story for another time).  We all have our own internal struggles for different reasons, and there isn’t a one-size fits all solution. The “Methods of Self-Care” offers some tips to motivate its readers to take better care of themselves. The zine is both a hug and a swift kick in the butt. I want to share one of my favorite lines with you (provided by contributor Danika McClure who heard it from someone else):

“I do not have time to make other people happy when I am still learning how to make myself happy.”

This reminded me that it’s OK to put myself first, that it’s OK to ask for help, and that it’s perfectly OK to feel imperfect. Babes, we are beautiful works in progress.

I highly recommend exploring what Babe Vibes has to offer, and definitely read “Methods of Self-Care.” You can download it for free (!) or purchase a hard copy.

Cheers.

’15 Soundtrack: October

'15 Soundtrack: October

Self-care was at the top of my to-do list for October. It should have been at the top of my list from the get-go, but I misplaced my priorities. The art of “practice what you preach” isn’t exactly known for being easy to master, right? But I’m pretty over making excuses for myself. When I finally came to my senses, I made plans to move forward with some real changes, rather than just talking about change.

Now that I’m in a better headspace and have my priorities in check, life is on the up and up. There are so many things to be appreciative of and happy about, and the key is to find a method that doesn’t allow the good to be distorted by cracks in a reflection. As a constant in my life, music helps me look pass the cracks and stay focused. Below you can check out my ’15 Soundtrack for October. I hope you find at least a few songs to add to your own collections. You can listen to the playlist via my Spotify profile or the links below.

TRACKLISTING

Claws” – Kid Cadaver
Toothbrush” – DNCE (warning: low quality video)
Love Me” – The 1975
Cry For Me” – HUNNY
F-cking Boyfriend” – the bird and the bee
Catch” – Dresses
Good Way” – Allison Weiss
HELP” – The Front Bottoms
Dancing On Quicksand” – Bad Suns
1998” – Chet Faker, featuring Banks
Over You” – Allison Weiss
Cubism Dream” – Local Natives
Lose It” – Oh Wonder
Monday” – Matt Corby

Which artists have you been listening to lately? Share in the comments section.

The Fault In Running On Empty

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Photo by Shab Ferdowsi

2015 has been my year of “yes.” I wasn’t per se a “no” person before, but I have chosen to say “yes” to more invites and more opportunities in hopes of expanding my horizons, adding to my social circle, and being more present in people’s lives. My year of “yes” has developed oodles of new friendships, meaningful connections, and some unforgettable moments. It also spread me too thin. On October 10, 2015, I was officially running on empty.

My world is music. I work in the music industry. A large percentage of my friends work in music. My favorite pastime is attending shows. At shows, my attention and energy is focused on the music and performance in front of me, rather than the number of unread emails in my inbox or complex feelings that come with life’s woes. At shows, I regain my composure.

Kid Cadaver

Kid Cadaver at The Bootleg

The last few months have been difficult, so I’ve tried to balance my stress with the benefits of live music and the company of friends. I was in luck as a lot of friends were producing and playing free or $5 gigs. The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) set up camp in my brain and I was RSVP’ing “yes” to most of them with a determination to come through. The word “free” was an added bonus because that meant I wouldn’t be depleting my bank account. What I ended up depleting was my immune system.

During the end of September and beginning of October, I was making it to four or more shows a week, sometimes two shows in one night. Set times were typically around 10pm or later, keeping me out while the moon was high in the sky. I slept for (maybe) five hours a night. I couldn’t even sleep much during the weekends, because my internal clock had recently made me an early riser. I became the Energizer Bunny with no energy.

Refresh ::: Recharge

So it was October 10, and although I knew better, I decided to squeeze in eight hours of live music at two different shows. By the end of the day, my body waved its red flag. I spent the entire following week working from home, sick, and kicking myself for saying “yes” a few too many times. While I confined myself in my apartment for four days, apart from the occasional step outside to breathe some “fresh” Los Angeles air, I saw a silver lining in my predicament.  Despite enduring cold symptoms, a hellish migraine, and a cough that has left me with sore abs, I now feel more rested and calm thanks to ample amounts of water, Chinese medicine and sleep. Being sick gave me the isolation I didn’t know I needed.

Cafe Gratitude

After laying in bed and sitting on my living room floor for four days, yesterday I finally flew the coop. First stop was Cafe Gratitude for brunch and a short walk around Larchmont Village. It was an incredible feeling to be out and about again with good company. I still want to make the most of my year of “yes,” which I plan to carry over into 2016, but my health and finding a balance between work, play and life’s other units will be a priority. Keep well.

If you have a moment, here’s a good read from Fast Company:
How Solitude Can Change Your Brain In Profound Ways

’15 Soundtrack: September

'15 Soundtrack: September

Photo by Shab Ferdowsi

September felt like a boxing match and I was rolling with the punches. Adrenaline, pep talks, and live music helped me survive a beating. There were constant waves of exhaustion, injuries to the heart (what else is new), and my first true experience with an existential crisis. Not glamorous, but it’s the truth. Regardless, I do know IT WILL GET BETTER. I pinned a tweet of my previous statement on my feed as a reminder to myself and anyone who visits. It’s crucial to step back and realize that whatever crap you have to pick up, you’ll be able to dump that shit right in the trash and go on with your life.

Like I said above, I learned how to roll with the punches and I didn’t allow them to completely spoil September. I went to at least two shows a week (sometimes two shows in one night) and made it a point to see my friends every chance I had. I am in love with friendship. Make sure you support your friends and make it known that you appreciate them.

Now for the music. I’ve been hooked on the energy of CHVRCHES’ new tunes and I’m impressed with Halsey’s debut full length, especially the marketing of it. I’m still jamming to Melanie Martinez and Kid Cadaver all day, every day, and talking up a storm about Years & Years. I saw them again at The Wiltern recently and it was ace. So, I hope you enjoy this month’s ’15 Soundtrack as much as I enjoy it. You can listen to the playlist on Spotify, or check out the links below.

TRACKLISTING

Loudspeaker” – MUNA
F-Q-C #7” – Willow
Waves” – Kid Cadaver
Take Shelter” – Years & Years
Never Ending Circles” – CHVRCHES
Ties” – Years & Years
Coming Down” – Halsey
hold on”  – Lewis Watson (SBTRKT cover)
Clean” – The Japanese House
Bad Blood” – Ryan Adams (Taylor Swift cover)
I’m Yours” – Alessia Cara
What Do You Mean?” – Justin Bieber
It Will Come Back” – Hozier
Play Date” – Melanie Martinez
Bury It” – CHVRCHES
40 oz. On Repeat” – FIDLAR

Would love to hear what you’re listening to. Let’s chat in the comments.

’15 Soundtrack: August

'15 Soundtrack: August

Do I dip my toes in or jump in cannonball style? It’s a question I thought a lot about when making decisions in August. It can be difficult to find a balance between playing it cool and taking risks, but it’s OK. Each month is for learning more about my actions and reactions, and figuring how to continue to evolve into the person I hope to be.

This month was dominated by a ton of shows, a few music festivals, a lot of late nights, a wedding, mixed signals, and a lot of deep breaths to keep me going. Although physically and mentally exhausting, I can’t deny that August was fun and memorable.

Between friends’ gigs, another Warped Tour, Echo Park Rising and FYF Fest, I was on a music high. As for recorded music, one of my favorite releases was the “Cry Baby” LP by Melanie Martinez. I absolutely adore its dark playfulness and the storyline. I’ve also been jamming to New Beat Fund’s new album “Sponge Fingerz”, feeling dreamy while listening to Purity Ring, and crying on the inside because Frank Ocean still hasn’t put out a new album and also dropped out of FYF. Shout out to Yeezy for taking Frank’s place and performing a set that had me wildin’ out.

I’ve been searching for more local independent artists from LA to listen to as well. Echo Park Rising and my friends in bands, such as Kid Cadaver and Attic Empire, have reminded me that the local scene in LA is alive, hustling and thriving.

Now let’s get to the music that was the soundtrack for my August. You can listen to the playlist on Spotify, or click the individual links below. Happy listening, y’all.

TRACKLISTING

Carousel” – Melanie Martinez
bodyache” – Purity Ring
It’s Cool” – New Beat Fund
Kiss Me Again” – The Drums
Keep Well” – Kid Cadaver
Undone” – the bird and the bee
Suitcase” – The New Electric Sound
Make It Real” – BABE
Bear Hands” – Private Island
Breathe, Desperately” – From Indian Lakes
Before The World Was Big” – Girlpool
Celibate Celebrity” – New Beat Fund
Super Rich Kids” – Frank Ocean feat. Earl Sweatshirt
Cry Baby” – Melanie Martinez
Ideal World” – Girlpool
heartsigh” – Purity Ring
begin again” – Purity Ring

Which songs have you been pressing play for? Let’s chat in the comments.

’15 Soundtrack: July

'15 soundtrack: cruise July turned out to be a great month for connecting with new people and going on an actual vacation; one that left me unplugged with no wi-fi or cell service. Pictured above is my mom on her birthday, enjoying the freedom of the sea.

Going on a cruise and living on a ship gave me ample time to step back, think, and ultimately go with the flow of the day, which is a rare thing. The ocean is mysterious, vast and a little terrifying, but it’s also gorgeous, exciting and can be peaceful. Sounds pretty similar to what life’s like.

Luckily, music helps me find a balance and I definitely listened to some fantastic songs in July. I celebrated and danced when the highly anticipated Years & Years album “Communion” was released. I often played Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” in hopes of a new album that never came. Then I revisited old loves and came across some new favorites thanks to random playlists on Spotify. BTW, I’m still Team Spotify. Sorry Apple Music.

You can listen to ’15 Soundtrack: July on Spotify, or check out the video links below.

TRACKLISTING

Border” – Years & Years
Leave A Trace” – CHVRCHES
When I’m Away” – The Colourist
Steps” – Handsome Ghost
Lost” – Frank Ocean
Gorgeous” – X Ambassadors
Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” – Cage The Elephant
Got To My Head” – Waters
Days” – The Drums
Human” – Daughter
Take Care” – Tom Rosenthal
Eyes Shut” – Years & Years
Teenage Crime” – Adrian Lux
Leave You” – Sir Sly
Hang On” – X Ambassadors

What are you listening to? Tell me in the comments.