Leslie Nuss

 
 

Blog

rainy. super rainy

So, yeah. No blog post last Friday. My daughter had the day off of school and I was in the middle of a small meltdown, which required some rest and a bit of a brain drain. 

I had written my post earlier in the week, which ended up being somewhat confronting, as I had been going through a bin I had saved of papers and ephemera from the University of Illinois, my alma mater before FIT. "how did I get here?" is a constant theme to my thoughts, and sometimes it's hard to square with the person I was and the person I am now. Sounds so self-indulgent which I think led to the meltdown.

I abandoned several career options early in my 20's, namely medical school and a career as an environmentalist to throw my hat in for fashion/accessories design and music, both of which seem to kick me to the curb at every turn despite my intentions, effort, innate ability and study. Again, very self-indulgent, as all I have to do is think of people in Syria or Africa to feel like a big baby. Growing up we were always made aware how lucky we had it, even if we didn't feel very lucky at the time. And I am incredibly lucky. So what upsets me, I think is the invisible net that has held back women for millennia and how unaware I was of it and unprepared for it and unable to escape its grasp. My fervent hope is that my daughter does not have the same struggles, though she will have different ones as she is certainly not a mini-me. 

So, why complain? I am painting-and I really love my paintings! (so that's great). And my husband loves my painting/paintings. He loves it! I am taking ceramics-and again, he loves it and we can spend a long time talking about line and shape and form and purpose and color and firing (maybe too long as he seems to have a list of things that I should make...in due time). And I make some crazy sleeve to wear in a video-and again, he loves it! And this is all well and good, but the next step of making any kind of money just seems fleeting and beyond me. Does that make me a "pure" artist? Maybe. And in many ways, the artistic expression is enough. I really do love painting. And now, at least, I really don't care if I sell any, because I am loving having them hang in my house. I love looking at them. 

But music. Music is hard. Music requires a team, it's not something I, the independent warrior can reasonably do by myself in that I don't play all instruments and have a non-working knowledge of garage band....and in protools I can hit the space bar to start and stop recording, but that's about it. The point being is that achieving what I want requires skills that I wonder if I have sometimes. Maybe I've just raised the bar for myself with this project. I think that's it, actually, as i was awake last night, educating myself on wikipedia...what started with "soft power" led to all kinds of words, eventually landing on Artist (why not read what wikipedia has to say?) and Aesthetics.

Aesthetics really made sense to me, and I think that these recordings really have to do with my aesthetic and encompass how I want the music to sound and how I want the listener to feel. It's really not enough for me to just record the song, although that is certainly part of it. And I'm certainly guilty of listening to what other people (mainly men) have told me: how to record, how to sound, what they want to hear. But that doesn't always square with what I want to hear or what I want the listener to hear. I realized when I started, now way back in 2016 that I was primarily recording this music for women. Not that I didn't want men to listen to it, but as a woman, I wanted to make music for women. And what I wanted women to feel was good about themselves, and a whole lot of words and descriptors of what that would mean, sensual, powerful, alive, strong, beautiful, hopeful, realistic, persevering, etc. And I realized that I couldn't very well communicate that to most of the men who were playing on the records. Some men got it and some men struggled with that. 

Truth be told, one song (for certain) is more of a rocker, more of an alt-rocker, but I've been struggling with that one, too. And, my mentor keeps telling me not to put something out unless it's great, and my husband is on board there, so that's all good.

But then the meltdown came with my tallying up of how much money I've spent so far and not even being able to make a projection of how much more there was to spend. I've made a lot of mistakes which have been painful to acknowledge, and even if, even when it's done and great, I anticipate a less than hearty welcome due to my gender and age, which leads me in a circular spin back to painting-which is low-cost in comparison, and making my own wardrobe, since I have a studio full of wonderful fabrics just waiting for me to cut and sew. 

Aha! Brainwave. 

I can hear this shitty letter my father sent me years ago when he was trying to convince me to move back home (as if!). He typed--he typed me letters on his electric typewriter, having preferred that to hand-written letters before email due to my grandparents freak out over him being left-handed, which must have affected him, since they told him that was the hand of the devil, and, well, he turned out to be a bit devilish. But I digress.

He said something like, you've put your flag up the flagpole and no one bit. It's time to give up music and move home. (and this was after only really working hard for a couple of years at it). God he was a nasty man! I'm sure I can find the letter. Give me a minute.

ok, then 6 months later he sent me the flagpole letter:

So, even though he's been dead for...over 11 years now, he still haunts me. He wanted me to quit. Desperately. He'd make sure to come to my shows, then give me no positive emotional support afterwards. He even asked if we could sing a duet together, so I let him sing with me at CB's Gallery in NYC once...also in Chicago twice, but no. He never faltered. He was always against me being in music. 

This makes me extraordinarily aware of my missteps. And painfully aware of the "talent" I seem to have wasted. Hence, the meltdown. But, I get knocked down, then I get back up, there really is no other choice. No other way.

I've saved these letters, maybe I mentioned on an earlier post? because I had thought of writing some kind of memoir. It seems that memoir writing might be more lucrative than music, haha. Though it's like scraping your bones inside your skin to relive some of these moments. These years, these experiences. 

Anyway, I haven't given up. I just decided to complete one ep at a time, instead of 4 at once. I think I'm done shooting video for the first one, "Lost" though it takes place in the snow, so maybe that song won't get released on video right away (?). Now I'm starting the next one. I think it might be for "The Subway" since it's about dreaming, and the costumes are clear: nightgowns and pajamas. I think I'll silkscreen onto fabric for the pajamas, though that will require some thought, i.e., what color fabric, what designs and what color for the silkscreens? I might shoot some footage in the actual subway--I was thinking at night, but it should be at all times of the day...and maybe some against a green screen then running footage of the subway behind it--might make it more "dream-like" Me, I'd like to make a whole buncha nightgowns, because the idea sounds great, but I have to be realistic. 

See, I feel better already. New project, new mood.

xoxo

Leslie

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