Nashville was an amazing experience ; an emotional one at that, the pressure of the Kikgirl launch, and the job of being a figurehead in general can be pretty terrifying at times. In reality - success just draws a large target on your face - for people to judge, throw blame at, and the more you rise the larger the target becomes.
its not all negative, but mostly, if you're not prepared for the ugly side of the industry - it can break you very fast, and very hard. And theres no warning, it just hits you and you're left there shattered wondering what the fuck just happened. I've seen it happen to many before me; i've nursed a few friends through it myself. Now it was my turn on the launchpad and i was hoping nobody would have to pick up my pieces. Anybody that was around me in the weeks leading up to this show, saw my stress. Its hard to explain to people sometimes.
The factor that had me out of my head was, nobody got glimpses of the final Kikgirl product run besides quick pictures of the tank tops. The other stuff we had yet to see - i was going into this blind, our blood sweat and tears sitting in a box in Clarksville. My own Kikgirl launch party i had to perform both as artist and rep, with product i hadn't seen before now. As the designer of Kikgirl that was pretty damn terrifying. Im still getting my head around the retail clothing world - a WHOLE new planet from the DIY scene, where you have quality control over everything. I ran head first into a totally opposite workplace so, as much as i absolutely love it, it still fucks with me often. But what is life, without adventure? maybe i'm a glutt0n for anxiety but, i find it always worth it in the end.
As scared as i was deep down going into it ( though i've learned over the years to never let that show, people want to see their artist happy; shining and radiant) - the Phoenix EDM crew totally made any fears dissolve. Comes down to the core of rave; good people, good food, and a good party cures all.
Traveling is still a very exhilarating experience to me ; coming from not being able to even enter an airport without debilitating panic attacks - to enjoying the airport experience and travel culture. Every out of state show is a testament to me, the strength to overcome. A constant reminder to always up your game, to impress yourself before the need to impress others, because from that drive amazing things can happen.
Nashville has been a city i've been wanting to play for awhile. the National stages in this industry are littered with good party stories and Nashville has been a hub of amazing rave stories for years. Getting a chance to visit was a fun thought - Headlining with fellow female hardcore ass kicker Vampy Vicious at my own Kikgirl launch party was just Insane in the brain.
Nashville is such a live music mecca i couldn't wait to just soak up all the vibes. Theres just something about being able to say 'i've headlined Nashville' that every musician in any genre lights up inside at the thought of.
We landed in the early evening, and after a quick drive to the hotel to check in- we went rushing over to Papabear's house and unpacked the first ever run of Kikgirl Tanks and gear. As i sat with a few on my lap, staring down at them I remember Rob sitting down and hand-drawing the graphics on these things. Seeing them in print was a true reality check. Finally, the ball was rolling on the launch. Nashville was the first city to have physical kikgirl product on the planet. All my stress dissolved , i sat there almost melting into the couch covered in kikgirl gear. A million weights lifted off and i felt almost woozy.
We head out to downtown Clarksville with Papabear and crew, where already a street festival was underway. People everywhere, music blasting out of open pub doors. Down every other main street was a concert stage going strong - raggae, rock, a blend of everything this way and that way, and the crowds just moving along to it. A true welcome to music city indeed.
We are brought to The Blackhorse, a pub nestled down a cramped street which for the festival was lined with food carts and stands. Upon walking into the dimly lighted pub you see a tremendous blackboard over the main bar with a massive menu of craft beer selections. Happy time! We had already checked out the menu in the airport , and knew exactly what to attack.
Rob was ordering the pretzels and beer cheese dip. I was bouncing in my seat ordering the Tunisian Pizza. Both were truly glorious and a must-have if you are ever there. My black and tan was heavenly, i sat there, ears still popping , headache and other post flight un-comforts and show anxiety slipping away amongst a menagerie of awesome people and awesome food.
Saturday early we were off to the Opry Mills mall to get me my coffee fix , and to check out a store called The Pepper Palace.
Oh Pepper Palace,…..en entire store filled with hot sauces, gourmet spices and salsas and other amazing preservatives any chili -head would salivate over.
Totally had my way with the sample bar - with fellow chili head Langley like a tour guide of spicy -light- your -face- on- fire -delicious i found a few favs. Rob found the heavenly spread of the gods ( no, not nutella ) Pumpkin Butter. We ended up shipping a bunch of things home directly from that store. Hot sauces, a big jar of pumpkin butter and hibiscus powder, for tea.
After getting coffee and a damn good dose of pepper we were off to the farmers market - and the food trucks! Nothing makes me and my multiple stomachs happier then seeing a big badass row of food trucks. There we met up with Papabear and crew, showed off the new Kikgirl gear and started plotting food truck mayhem.
After much debate - settled on the Korean Fusion taco from Riffs Truck — it was an explosion of spice and delicious parings of familiar taco textures with kimchi, pork and distinctly Korean flavors - a very messy meal but worth it. I then wobbled my taco stuffed self over across the way to another truck to get a fresh ginger green tea, then happily sat there, in foodie bliss as locals came by to chat with us. Dressed in my Kikwear lime green cargo phats and a cyan blue tee that matched my cyan blue and hot pink hair, in a group of very similarly dressed ravers we obviously stood out. But people came up and chatted with us now and then, we all sat there with half stuffed mouths exchanging stories.
Was fun to meet such open minded Nasvhille natives- many of whom even though weren't into EDM at all, really liked to hear about what we did, and learn more about the scene we represented.
I noticed in Nashville many of the girls were wearing these cute country style sundresses and pairing them with either cute flat shoes, cowboy boots and hats. So pretty! One girl , in a muted blue and white polka dotted dress with oversized white sunglasses, matching purse and boots called it ' eclectic country chic'. it was adorable. Made me see sundresses paired with boots in a whole new way.
Thoroughly stuffed it was back to the hotel, to get ready to head off to the venue for load in and soundcheck. My mother in law, a very crafty woman, has an amazing embroidery machine i hijaked for an evening back in Florida a few days before we left. I had taken my Kikgirl pants and modified them with custom patches. a spaceship and a ray gun , to match the "girls kik it harder in space" theme. Those pants, paired with my new kikgirl tank and to keep up my old school feel , for the first time in years….i put my hair in pigtails. The cut of the crop tanks didn't look good on my tiny self so i turned mine into a halter top . I had fun seeing the reflection stare back at me - halter top, kikgirl pants , pigtails, kandie and armed with an LED bubble gun. If my 19 year old self saw me now, she'd be proud i was rocking the same look still.
Our venue was The East Room, which was already decorated up with the Space theme. Big vaulted ceilings, and the stage in the corner - meant a wrap around crowd. It was awesome. That corner stage was the shit. Excitement spiked up immediately meeting the rest of the crew at Phoenix/Lights out EDM. Everyone was excited for the live set .
The Party kicked off with a line already growing out the door, down the alley and the bass was so loud it literally shook your brain about if you stood on the right part of the dancelfoor. You know its gonna be good!
I was SUPER excited about something that i had only read about but never experienced…..a slient disco.
This was SO COOL! the DJ sends out a radio signal - you could only hear it when you grabbed a pair of headphones. Outside everyone was chillin, dancing, trading kandie with headphones on. a Dj was spinning and jumping about but you just heard people laughing and chatting - throw on the headphones and it was like your own personal party and you joined in with those dancing around. The silent disco was on the huge wrap around outside patio. UV tapestries hanging, the occasional fire show in the corner - was a really nice spot.
Vampy arrived i was so happy. My fellow space - tastical colorful female ass kicking talented Deck destroyer Vampy was there to kick it up a whole new level with us. Her set was incredible - and the live MC Langley " MC Trunkmonkee" freestyling with her set made the roof almost blow off. Oh it was a fun set - i wish my camera wasn't such crap i could have taken better footage.
Everybody threw down amazing sets - the vibes were so buzzing with fun, happy playful people. I hung out sitting on the stage behind the table, bouncing along with everyone playing before us. Papabear's set was amazing, i had never heard a Moombahcore set and i really was groovin to it. Occasionally to give my ears a break ( it was LOUDDDD in there!) i would pop outside, and check out the silent disco , bouncing about the patio with my led bubble gun.
I got my call from Kikwear CEO Alex right on the money - he often calls me to check out how the show is going, how people are reacting to the giveaways,and give me a nice pep talk before my set. the kikgirl tanks were the talk of the evening, and it made me all the more proud of the 2 years we spent on the line, to see even the beginning of the launch go over so well.
I hit the stage at 10:30 - since it went 18 and up after midnight - i wanted to make sure my all ages following got to see me, so i took the 10:30 - midnight set.
90 minutes! just like my large convention concert sets. it was intense. Looking back - is just a big blur of lights, some faces in the front row going in and out of focus…Rob calling out to me some of the songs in que, and my inner dialog going nonstop of " breathe….1..2..3…out and breathe…..HOLD…and release.." to keep me from loosing pitch, timing, or passing out. ( i have been on the verge of passing out before....now i know better then to ignore my breathing exercises )
That extra half hour seemed to go on forever, Rob even got a few songs in to give me a breather — he did a WICKED mc bit over a remix of Sandstorm we normally don't do outside of the cons…but, for the fuck of it he threw it down and they went NUTS. Was proud of him, he's been working on that for awhile now and it was one of the more explosive songs of our set.
Out of what i can remember I know i debuted the Sash Dee remix of Hearts on Sleeves, we did Fracus and Darwin's remix of 'Rainbow Lights'. The song that exploded the floor , "Show Me' - which i got amazing fotoage of. I ended as i usually do with Eye Opener, and i think the Mansy remix of " Find a way" was before that.
We don't plan our sets. not to the extent people think - there is not 'setlist' per say. I choose my opener, my closer, the songs we HAVE to debut and promo for labels, such as anything coming up on release or new ones, and thats it. Everything else is 100% up to Rob. So over an hour ( and a half sometimes) set, i REALLY, really, have to stay on my toes and listen. Its why we rehearse SO MUCH. Why do we do that? because i don't want to loose that live element. If you plan it too much, it becomes predictable. Its hard enough in this industry to be a vocalist outside of the UK, where EVERYTHING is based and in dance music in general vocalists are seen as disposable, a tool really. So to really keep my work flowing in, my following and curious onlookers peeled, i keep it 100% live, unpredictable and interesting. This genre can go against you if its TOO perfect, TOO processed, TOO planned. I match and blend with my own tracks so well i often get accused of lipsynching it. No biggie, its going to happen to any decent singer so we change it up - throw a remix in, remix it live, i'll keep up. Its a skillset i've proudly built from the early party days of mine and iv'e just kept it ever since. in the political world of this industry, my live shows is the best leverage i got.
I must have done a good job, as soon as i went outside after my set for fresh air and fresh ears, i was greeted by thunderous applause and the biggest group hug ever. Everything right there, is why i do this.
for you awesome people ;)
i came running in like a bat out of hell from the silent disco outside when i heard drum and bass coming through the wall. oooo i loveeeee me some DnB! We even had some hardstyle, Poondangle's set was OFF THE CHAIN! he threw down hardstyle and some gabber , shufflers were taking over the dancefloor, it was amazing. I jumped right in there and danced, much to the surprise of some people. Sometimes, if i'm able to at a show - i jump in the crowd. I can't do that at the convention or festival gigs, its just TOO big, TOO many people. As awesome as those huge crowds can be - its still pretty impersonal. Shows like the Nashville gig - people were right up against the stage, i could jump down and hug people, reach out , dance with people, cry alongside people ( there were alot of tears during Rena) And that right there is why i love the hell out of shows like this. Connecting. Getting to go outside and sit and hang with people.
So the rest of the night i danced my ass off with everyone unti i was a gross ball of sweat and hairspray.
It was an incredible evening - the phoenix EDM crew did a great job with the event. THE LIGHTING !!THE LASERS!! Definatley looked like a spaceship had landed. Wow. This was also the show where i realized in eeded to make prints or autograph cards, something for people to have me sign. I was singing tickets, flyers, armbands…anything we could find.….pictures everywhere. So many amazing ravers, and local talents. I was already bummed out realizing the night was coming to a close, and i'd be flying back to brutally humid weather and giant stinging infest infested Florida the next day. But, all things come to an end. I still have dreams about that Black and Tan at the Blackhorse. and Mamabear's BBQ. GOOD GOD WOMAN…seriously…
I cannot wait to return one day. I made some awesome friends, all of which are super talented dedicated people. the hard part of this job is knowing you'll only get to see them when you're going through their city.
we're all one big global family in a way, the world suddenly gets smaller and smaller. You realize, wherever you go - you got some epic people there waiting for you <3 until next time, Nashville. i already miss the hell out of you.