I think I’ve finally found my LA groove. I went to bed lastnight absolutely buzzing with possibility and excitement for this next chapter in my life, and it’s awesome!
Decided to do some more street performance yesterday, so my wonderful cousin, Hamed, picked me up at 7am to drop me off at Venice Beach again. I’m really starting to like that place. Sure, it has its eccentricities (the people watching is incredible), but the sense of equality along the boardwalk is beautiful.
Started the morning with a spicy ALMOND MILK chai latte from Menotti’s Coffee Shop (where the Puerto Rican barista told me I looked like I could be his cousin – I’m not going to argue with that; Latin American women are GORGEOUS) and set up for the morning. Apparently a couple of the locals already seem to like me – I hadn’t even started singing, and some guys commented on how much they enjoyed my voice. That’s pretty rad. The morning was slow, and I had my first run in with the US Police (amusing), but the feedback, as always, was positive, the people watching was perfect, and the tips came in slow and steadily. The best thing about performing on the street, however, is the mutual respect. Whether it’s from the other local artists hustling on the streets and trying to make it, the homeless dude who just appreciates that you acknowledge them as a human being, or the posh well-to-do tourists who are fascinated by why someone would pour their heart and soul out on the street. We’re all the same. It’s beautiful.
He took me to this dinky little cafe in Santa Monica called Cha Cha Chicken , which specializes in Jamaican chicken. ZOMG. So good.
Decided to try my luck at Santa Monica after that. Apparently the pier or the promenade are the places to be, but they require permits, so I decided to try my luck on the boardwalk overlooking muscle beach. The weather was improving, but it still didn’t have the best traffic flow. In saying that, I received some lovely compliments from both pedestrians AND people working out (swoon) and by the time my OTHER cousin Mark picked me up, I had made equal to Tuesday. Not bad.
I’m slowly trying to get my head around how I’m going to live in LA – what I want to do regarding getting a flat / house / apartment etc. and what I want to do with regards to work. After visiting Mark’s apartment, and checking out his amazing view of the city, I’m torn with regards to where I want to be, and how I want to do things, but one thing is certain: I need to keep my focus on music. Whether it’s busking, teaching at a music institute, working at a music cafe, or whatever – the LA mindset is VERY different to the Kiwi mindset. In order to make it here, you need to work your ass off. Suddenly the last nine years of my working life don’t seem like such a stretch for me. I’ve been continually working between 2 – 5 jobs most of my working life, and while a lot of people in New Zealand seemed to find that so bizarre, I now think it’s all been leading up to here – I know I can work hard. I know I can do lots of stuff. I just need to do it smartly – and I will.
Anyway, after checking out Mark’s funky studio apartment, we went to this ridiculous French restaurant for dinner. I say “ridiculous” because the restaurant itself was almost like a little French village.
It was cute.
Had an amazing (and huge) chicken salad before Mark dropped me off to catch up with my friends Alex and Mela in Hollywood. Now, let me tell you about these two. When I first moved to Auckland, I used to frequent an open mic night in Ponsonby at a funky little bar called Grand Central . One night, after a weekend of the Armageddon Festival , a couple of the visiting “celebrities” (for lack of a better word), came along to the open mic night. It was here that I met Alex and Mela – or two of the main members of Magnolia Memoir (seriously, check them out. They’re amazing. Especially their song No One Like You ). And now, here we were in Los Angeles – and I was about to visit them in a completely different setting.
This was my first ever time to Hollywood, and while I understand it was a mere glimpse of the area, I feel so incredibly blessed to have had such an introduction. It was like I stepped into a magical, musical wonderland called Werewolf Heart Records , with guitars lining the walls, a beautiful grand piano posing in the centre of the main room, and microphones, and various other instruments majestically filling the gaps. Mela was recording a song for families of firefighters who had lost their lives, and I was just enamored by how incredible the studio, Mela’s talent and both Alex and Mela’s generosity was, and is. I feel like last night I was enveloped in a big, supportive, musical hug.
I fucking love hugs.
After talking for a few hours about the industry here; the opportunities, the stigmas, the challenges, the hard work, I now feel like I can actually accomplish anything. I know I have the ability, I know I have the drive, I know I have the focus and I can’t wait to start embracing every single opportunity that I can. Even the Uber cab drive home helped cement this goal for me (turns out my Uber driver was a Spanish rapper from El Salvador, who used to be in gangs and addicted to all kinds of drugs, before he found God, and started pursuing music. Interesting guy). I know that might sound a little ridiculous (like, “of course you can do this, Emma.. you’ve been a working musician for years now”), the last few months have been somewhat overwhelming for me, and for the first time I’ve actually started doubting what I’m doing and where I’m going. Whether that’s because of my not-so-supportive relationships (including one guy who decided I needed to get into hip hop music because my booty fit the profile… yeah, he was a special breed), or the culture shocks of Vietnam, Malaysia and China, the energy crash post-last years craziness with attempted suicides (not mine) and other dramatic events, or simply because I’ve been running on empty, my head’s been a bit of a jumble. But no more!
So while in two days, I’ll be off to Boston to start work, the focus starts now – while I look for a house, start applying for jobs for September when I get back, write new material with my new best friend Dharma Jonathan Livingston (that’s my guitar, cos the brand is Seagull… geddit?), keep writing this blog, and filming vlogs…
Because, as my Uber driver said “Challenges are only opportunities for you to learn, grow, and progress to the next level”. (yes, things got very philosophical very quickly in that cab ride).
It’s time to start hustling!