My First Blog: A Reflection

April 19, 2016

I've been meaning to start blogging about my music, my motivations, and my journey thus far. It's hard to know where to even begin because there is so much to say, but I suppose I will begin from my first experiences with music. The greatest inspiration to my work is my father. He sang to me while I was still in my mom's belly, he showed me how to play guitar & piano, and he taught me how to breathe more efficiently while singing. I grew up listening to the beautiful, thoughtful music & lyrics that he had written himself as a young man, and wanted to begin making music of my own. If you don't know my dad, let me give a very short summary: he's an extraordinarily intellectual, deep, and caring man who's musical influences include David Bowie, Foreigner, and Elton John. He was never a professional musician, mind you--he just loved music for the sake of his own happiness. Singing together with my dad gave me (and still gives me) so much happiness; Bringing people together with music has always been inspiring for me to continue making it. Amongst our father-daughter bonfire performances and family karaoke shows, I began trying to write my own songs around the age of 10. These songs were cheesy, simple, and obviously written by a child, but it was the beginning of a lifelong passion, and both my parents always loved to hear whatever silly song it was that I had written. As I grew up, I continued to adore the performing arts as I auditioned for musicals and talent shows. I loved the way that theatre performers connected on stage to tell a story, and I loved the way that human voices could collaborate in my High School Choir to create such beautiful, harmonious sounds. I always got comments from people such as "You should try out for American Idol!", so of course I also loved the performing arts because I knew that I had actual musical talent and wanted to develop and use my talents in the best way I could. I continued to write songs every year, which often were reflections on my dreams, my personal relationships, and my love for the idea of love.

As I got older (around age 12-17), I began realizing that so much popular music is extraordinarily commercialized, and was nothing like the beautiful, thought-provoking music my father made. So much of it was all about drugs, sex (not that music can't be sensual, I just found that a lot of sexual music on the market was either superficially graphic or demeaning to women), outer beauty, and it gets so repetitive that it almost loses all meaning. I remember talking to my dad one night around age 13, telling him about my dream to "change the world" through music. I couldn't believe that so many celebrities were so focused on material success and the hookup culture, and I wanted to be a role model in music that would give pop culture a better reputation. The things that pop culture music was about, was not what young minds should be hearing. Those kinds of messages and words were completely opposed to the thoughtful education I was receiving. This inspired me to make my music more about the artistry and meaningful messages that I felt were important, and I began writing songs with new themes of introspection, inspiration, philosophy, and mindful life observations; my lyrics were my medium of self-reflection, like a journal for my thoughts. I hoped to one day be well-known as the face of popular music who didn't care about material success or looking "perfect", and spread motivation and inspiration about topics that really matter, topics that were ideas worth spreading. Kids shouldn't look up to celebrities because they have lots of money or they look really pretty. Kids should look up to people who have warm hearts and great ideas to spread, and I wanted to embody this belief. I wanted to join my passion for music with my passion to make the world a better place, although at this point, I had no idea what I'd be getting into if I decided to truly and professionally pursue music as a career. 

 

Here is where we jump ahead to where I am now in music, within about the last year. I moved to LA to better pursue my goals, and have begun to really figure out the music industry. I still want to be a role model for mindful generations to come, I still want to connect with the world through my music, and I still want to trump these Americanized ideas that celebrities and popularity ride alongside material desires and success. Many "role models" of American music aren't much to look up to as far as what humans should actually be aspiring to, in order to be happy (happiness entails inner peace, gratefulness for what you already have, and love). I found myself asking "Why does this shallow, repetitive music have to be the most "popular music?", and "Why does America glamorize material wealth so much?" I would later on discover that the entertainment industry creates these ideas because of the major corporations in Hollywood that control the "pop" media for their own financial and cultural interests. 

This is where I come to a moral crisis with myself, because if I want to continue making and performing music in ways that will reach large audiences, I have to have a large amount of money to do so. My despise for material success is in conflict with my financial needs as an artist. When you are seriously pursuing music in this market, there is loads of money involved whether it pertain to studio time, promotion, music videos, or anything else. It's a serious career investment to record an album that is "radio ready". After beginning my journey as Lauren Nikohl, and self-producing most of my first EP, I found that the music industry was way more complicated and capitalistic than I had ever known. I could certainly continue to be a basement artist for the next few years, and keep playing coffee shop and bar shows to try and build my fan base this way, but this did not seem like the most efficient way to advance my career goals. I wanted to get more creative in my pursuit of making my passion for music into a career, and that's how I found Robert Eibach on Twitter. While planning my EP, I reached out to him in hopes of working together to do an EDM remix. I knew that my current music wasn't ready to be a "radio" product (I had a long way to go with my songwriting and production quality), and I also wanted to add more diverse sound to my music genre. My strengths were in lyric and melody writing, not in making the beats that one would dance to, so I knew I had to start collaborating with other artists to create the kind of music I wanted to perform. Robert Eibach, along with David Longoria (Both Grammy winning and Billboard Charting artists), gave me many insights into the music industry. Their comments to me, after working together a few times, were that they wanted to work with me because I was so genuine and kind, and that they thought I had enough raw talent and confidence to really go far in the music industry. They taught me how the Billboard Charts work, and how the Grammys work. What I learned is that it takes money to make money if you want to be in the big leagues (unless of course you're a YouTube star that goes viral I suppose, but even then, you're going to have to spend loads of money eventually to continue larger scale promotion and recording projects), and that personal connections are very valuable. Again, in conflict with my morality, I learned that I needed a lot of money if I wanted to try and make it onto Billboard anytime soon. Basically, how the Billboard Charts work, is like this: an artist's music can only chart if it gets played on the radio, and gets played by reporting DJ's in clubs. How does an artist's music make it onto the radio and into clubs? You need a promoter. This promoter (of whom costs you a ton of money), gets paid to promote your song to the radio and the club DJs. The more that the song gets played and reported, the higher up on the charts you will rise. Of course, the song will only get played more if it's actually GOOD. Robert and David both thought that with my talent, a superb song, and their industry connections, that I could make it to Billboard. We shall see if I can find an investor for the promotion of my EDM single Against The Wind in this early stage of my music career, but I'm hoping to release the song very soon regardless of how much money I can get for promotion. As much as I'd like my music/message to spread to the entire world by tomorrow, I would also be very satisfied to know that I had opened just a few minds along my own quest for truth. 

 

(To elaborate briefly on my comment about David & Robert wanting to work with me because of my genuineness, I would like to add another story to emphasize a point. I met the publicist of artists such as Earth, Wind, & Fire, and after getting to know each other over drinks a few times, she also mentioned that she loved how absolutely kind, genuine, and trustworthy I was as a friend. I tell you this story, because I am baffled that these qualities are hard to come by in Hollywood, and I hope to change this sad reality in leading by example! Kindness will always conquer. Remember that.) 

 

SO, this has been an extraordinarily short summary of where I've been and where I'm going in the music industry. Other goals of mine for the future (assuming I can ever make any money off my work in music), include helping to fund better educational systems across the world (education is extraordinarily important to me, and many people don't have proper access to it), to inspire more of the youthful generations to become actively involved in their own democracy, and to help solve issues of homelessness in America (because, seriously? We have more than enough resources in this country to feed and house every single citizen). 

 

I will continue to blog about the songs I write, my thoughts on the music industry as it stands, and my overall journey as an artist. I hope that I can inspire other young artists to pursue their dreams intelligently and mindfully. If you've made it to the end of this blog, THANK YOU for reading, and please feel free to comment or ask questions!

 

-Lauren
 

 

 

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(c) Lauren Nikohl 2019