Time is ticking…

Within the last few years, I can really feel the gravity of time and the wrong choices I have made in my life.  Choices that seemed right intellectually, but were perhaps not a great fit for me personally.

I feel anxiety about my lack of productivity.

I am going to work on producing something (ANYTHING) that is a finished creation on a weekly basis.  I’ve just come back from vacation so I don’t have much.  I’m posting a video that I did a few weeks ago, that I didn’t really say much about.  Basically I entered the NPR Tiny Desk contest.

I have anxiety about my limitations.

I have anxiety about not having expensive enough equipment for my creative endeavours.

I feel like I’m stuck in quicksand and not progressing fast enough.  Not moving fast enough.  Not schmoozing near enough.

Anyway here’s a video of a song that I wrote and that I sang on video.




a letter from myself


I’ve playing ukulele a lot and rediscovering my old songs.  Rewriting old lyrics.  Dusting off the cobwebs.  Examining this historical record of my secret past thoughts and dreams.

Some songs never felt complete.

Some never felt quite right.

Some are just fun to play on the uke.

I was trying to get the intro right and the recording here is probably the 4th or 5th take (hence the swearing at the beginning).  I decided to leave it in because 1: it’s authentic and 2: I like swearing. (笑)

It’s funny how so many years can fly by, but I still feel the exact same way.

Could you, would you, in a box?


Sometimes I worry that it might be confusing to the people who like my photography that I also do other things.

Photography is readily accessible and it only takes about a half a second for someone to glance at one of the photographs that I have taken.  And I am glad that people like my work.  It’s great that people will sometimes say nice things like, “Ooh, your pictures are pretty!”.  However, it is really only a small part of the art that I like to create.

I’m also a painter.  I tend to paint weird things, like Japanese rock stars looking at baby polar bears.  I’m usually telling a strange story, which is perhaps less accessible than pretty wedding photographs or portraits.  But it’s fun.

But music feels (and has always felt) the most important to me… because I am secretly a musician.  I have been writing and recording music for… many years.  This is generally harder to share, not only because I am bad at even sharing the basic information that I am a musician, but because it’s also a significant time investment for people to listen to music that isn’t shoved in their ears.  And I’m not the type of person to do that.  Unless you are a passenger in my car… or a visitor to my blog (^_^;)

I guess more importantly, I am all of these things and I am none of these things.  People ask what my day job is and I tell them (grudgingly) as I do not feel as it accurately reflects who I am as a person.  I am also of average height and Asian-American in case anyone is asking or somehow thinks it is relevant.

Some people LOVE boxes and categorization.  Being in a box is more accessible and familiar than not being easily categorized.  But I was born into a shade of grey.  Conforming was never really a great option, but I tried for awhile.  I don’t recommend it, unless that’s your thing.

(Note: You could wake up ten years later and realize that you’ve forgotten what you are supposed to be doing.  And you wasted all of that time conforming to some sort of  lifestyle that you never truly believed in.)

So it may be time to ask yourself… are you conforming to someone else’s expectations?  Conforming to some absurd expectation our society/culture places on us?  Conforming to some ideal that you will never attain?  How did you get there?  How will you leave?  Will you stay…?  Will you leave…?

More like you


Feeling more like myself

“But I like to keep some things to myself” – Shake it Out/Florence + The Machine

Sometimes (a lot lately) I wonder, WHY?

Why didn’t I do these things that I should have done ten years ago?

Why didn’t I take better care of myself… why didn’t I follow those lofty dreams I had… why didn’t I realize that I should start my own photography business ten years ago… why… why… why…

It’s easy to look back and see so clearly the path you should have taken.  It’s easy to want to travel back in a time machine and change the past.

“Listen, this is now, this is here, this is me.  This is what I wanted you to see.  That was then. That was that. That is gone. That is past.” – So Fast, So Numb/R.E.M.

And then you can always find a rationale.

Oh, it was because I fell in love!  Oh, it was because I went to college.  Oh, it was because I got distracted BLAH BLAH BLAH.

But why really?


Fear of Success.  Fear of Failure.  Fear of putting yourself out there, out for critique/criticism?


Not knowing what you really want from life?  Or not admitting it to yourself?

I think… that I need to be braver.

“I must become… a lion hearted girl… ready for a fight.” Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)/Florence + The Machine

I think… that I need to become more honest.

More action, less excuses.

Because… I still have dreams…

Dreams are meant to be big and scary.  They are meant to be on the far edge of what is possible and mostly improbable.  I can’t let my love for logic and reason and stability stomp all over who I am, what I want to be, and what I love in life.

“I close my eyes and think how it might be… The future’s here today. It’s not too late. It’s not too late, yeah!” – I Believe in Miracles/The Ramones

Why pretend for other people?  Is it really so great to spend your life worrying about what everyone thinks?

Why not do what you love?  Even if it’s just in your spare time?

Why not create art and music?  Even if no one will ever see it or hear it?

Is it for them or is it for you?  

“And so I thank you dearly
For letting me see clearly
Open up, she said
Be you, be true” – You’re True/Eddie Vedder

It’s easy to see the success of others, but not their struggle.


(I need to be more like me, but I want to be more like you.)




Sometimes I hear songs in my sleep.


Sometimes I write songs in my sleep. I have to record what I’ve been dreaming or else it slips away, never to be seen or heard again.


Last night, I dreamt about a song fragment that I have been working on… on and off.  It was just one little line. I thought I would remember (we always think we will) but it’s more haze than clear.



The ability to turn light into dark.

Dark into light.

Creating something out of nothing.

Transform ugliness into beauty.

A view of the world through my eyes.

As a musician and artist, these things have remained constant in my life.

The only way I know how to deal with the darkness thrown at me is to convert it into light.

Using my voice and songs to create power out of my powerlessness.

Using my lens to show the beauty in others that they cannot see in themselves.



It doesn’t matter whether anyone else can hear it.

It doesn’t matter whether anyone else can see it.


When you CREATE, you have the power.


Counting Crows – Cover Song Contest on Indaba Music

Check out this submission in Counting Crows – Cover Song Contest on Indaba Music.

So I just recorded and uploaded a cover of Counting Crows “Round Here” for this contest.

I don’t expect to win [AT ALL], but I am a fan and I’ve wanted to record a cover of this song for awhile, and now it is done!

It’s a little rough, but it’s just me playing live in a cozy, yet echoe-y part of the house.

If I could even record 1 song a week, I’d be happy.  I’ve been playing piano a lot lately, but there is something clicky about the E Flat key and it’s kind of LOUD.

the cold

I’ve been working on this song for awhile. I’ve finally put it on Bandcamp. I am not sure if this will be the final version, but it’s part of my idea to get the songs out there before I release the album. I’m going to start small and branch out…

If people are interested in these songs, then I’ll definitely release a CD/vinyl/something.  If not, then I won’t!  At least I’ll have these songs out of my system and will have room in my head for new creations.

This song is about the cold and the ocean. It’s an acoustic song. It features a female vocalist (me). You might like this song if you like Adele or R.E.M. or Tori Amos… or maybe if you just hate the cold.

or you can go to the website: http://nancynishihira.bandcamp.com/track/the-cold

In the Fields

I love the autumn.

This photograph goes with this song that I wrote when I was fifteen or sixteen.  Both the song and photograph were created in a very different time period in my life… a time that feels very close to my heart… in the autumn.

Online Promotion for Indie Musicians

I have been recently engaging on a campaign of “relentless” self-promotion.

I don’t believe that it is something that comes naturally to most musicians (most of us are not business people or business majors obviously) and this is likely why a lot of us fail.

Who hasn’t cringed when they have opened an unsolicited email from some random musician on myspace who says something like, “if you like The Killers, you will looooooove my music!”


There’s gotta be a better way to do it.  I’m not sure how, but I have started (quietly) promoting my music mostly online.

Here are some sites that you can use for music promotion:

1. Last.fm

This site has a lot of features so you are able to control the music and artist information, even able to link your twitter feed to your page.  Also, it is pretty fun to use.  I haven’t yet interacted much with the “groups” or community features.


2. CDBaby

Although CDBaby hasn’t been running as smoothly as when Derek Sivers ran the place, it is still a great way to have low cost digital distribution ($35 to sign up).  My name and CD is all over the internet now, which is pretty impressive.  Even if no one sees it!  However, their customer service has been terrible lately.


3. Twitter

Twitter is a great way to tell everyone anything instantaneously (as long as you can fit it within the character limit).  Also, you can link your twitter feed to many different sites, so it is very convenient.  Some people sound really crazy when you read their twitter feed though.  I may be one of them.


4. Myspace

Myspace is not the social networking hub it once was.  The trashy in-your-face ads took away any desire I’ve had to visit the site, so I visit infrequently.  It is still a good place to list your other links in case someone happens to stumble on your page.  However, it seems some musicians have had success on myspace.


5. Facebook

Facebook is a cleaner, less glitchy, more private website to use.  It is now more popular than myspace.  I have recently created my Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-Nishihira/235144706238?v=info

I am not sure what the success rate is for fan pages via Facebook, as many less tech savvy people can get confused by all the tabs and boxes.

6. YouTube

I haven’t tried any sort of promoting on youtube yet, mostly because of the lengthy amount of time that it would take for me to make music videos and upload them to the site.  For anyone with the time and ambition, it would be a great place to promote your music.  I intend to do so in the future.

7. Amazon.com

Amazon has a new feature called “artist central” where you can create a page and upload mp3s and they will link it to your album (my album was already linked as CDbaby had distributed it to Amazon already).  It doesn’t seem to give you the kind of control that other sites like last.fm provide, but this service is still in the beta stage.


8. iLike

I am not sure how well music is promoted via iLike, as it has not really done much for me.  They did have this thing where they would make your music into an iPhone app, which sounded cool, but I don’t have an iPhone.


If anyone has any other suggestions of good promotional sites, please let me know!

Universal AR Online

I am VERY disappointed.

I’ve been trying to access their website to submit an EPK for the entire week, and first, the website they sent me said it was no longer active.  This site: http://universalaronline.com/Umusic

So, then, via Twitter, I was directed to another site: http://universalmusicgroup.info/

This site appears to work.  However, it does not work when I try to log in.  In addition, the retrieve password function is entirely worthless.  I have monitored my email like a hawk and nothing has arrived to tell me my actual password.

Via Twitter, as well as email, they have not responded to my repeated requests for access, despite the fact that my username/password is no longer active.  The email address on the site, service@umusic.biz does not work. Pretty unprofessional…

Mail Delivery Subsystem
This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification Delivery to t…
Aug 25 (2 days ago)
Mail Delivery SubsystemLoading…
Aug 25 (2 days ago)
This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:


Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 550 550 relaying denied for <service@umusic.biz> (state 14).

Well, at least I have a pretty sweet EPK now!

life and how to live it

So… I have been busy.

First, (or: most recently) I’ve updated my twitter page with a customized background: http://twitter.com/nancynishihira

It’s not perfect, but it is something fun until I feel like modifying it to fit different size monitors!

Also, I’ve been working on the idea of an EPK, or Electronic Press Kit… and I don’t really know exactly where to start.

I’ve got the picture (also see the top left hand corner of my newly designed twitter page)…

And I’ve tried to update my many web pages… finally got the cover to my CD up on last.fm…

Which can be viewed here: http://www.last.fm/music/Nancy+Nishihira

Also, I think I’ve finally (?) been able to get control of the account.

However, I still have to design an album cover for a tiny 3 song EP I’m going to stream on last.fm. (Perhaps I will sell it on CDBaby once the site is situated).

The album is called “Long Lost” and so far, I have the first track, “Infatuation, My Obsession” up to stream.  I converted it from tape (cassette tape!) to mp3.

There are two other tracks, which I still need to convert and add…  These are very old tracks, professionally recorded, which I just “rediscovered”.  I haven’t heard them for quite sometime.  I eventually hope to convert my entire tape collection to mp3.

Still seems like it will be awhile before I can get music onto Pandora; it seems that something on Amazon has to do something and for that to work CDBaby has to have stuff and a barcode and whatever else.

I am actually very excited about making music and art right now.

I have a really cool art idea but I am keeping it quiet now because I don’t want anyone to take my idea until I am done with it!

Listening to so much music has been very inspiring.  Right now, I love Vienna Teng (Hope on Fire is my current favorite).  She has an amazing voice.   I also love the song Grow Grow Grow by PJ Harvey.  AMAZING.

I’d love to get on youtube and record some songs too… I don’t think it’s time yet though.  I’m a little rusty and don’t really have the time to sit down and record stuff, although I also have some fun video ideas.

And as for Tanaka Style…

I am compiling a list of songs to record.  It is likely that the Tanaka Style (or 「田中スタイル」) stuff will be recorded before my solo stuff will.  There is a lot less pressure and more fun!

My next step, after I lay the groundwork… is to play some open mic.

No Music, No Life

The title of my post was an ad campaign by a music company that I have forgotten (was it Tower Records?)  However, Jiro (from GLAY) was in the commercials.

So, music.

I have some interesting leads at the moment that I am going to follow.


I am currently trying to get my stuff situated on Pandora, Amazon and CDBaby, although not necessarily in that order.

It is a hassle getting music onto Pandora, there is some kind of strange process where you have to have your CD on Amazon.com (which it is), but it won’t let me link it, and also there is no “official” album art on Amazon (possibly due to some type of problem when it was imported from CDBaby.  If, indeed, it was imported from CDBaby.

I have seen some big time album cover mistakes via Pandora that made me want to insure this would not be a problem.

Since CDBaby has been revamped… I have been waiting for the features to become accessible.  I think it is finally happening.  I’ve been waiting.

I’ve been thinking of videos lately.  Making music videos for YouTube.  I love the way BNL’s Ed Robertson has created “The Bathroom Sessions”.  If you are a BNL fan and you haven’t seen it, you MUST.  It is pure awesomeness.  Bathrooms are good because they tend to have good acoustics.  I am thinking of recording my next song, “1000 cranes”, in the bathroom, or laundry room.  Perhaps that is a little TMI.  But actually, the shower has the best acoustics – why do you think so many people feel compelled to sing there?

1000 Cranes is also the name of my next album.  “When will I record it?” is the question that an imaginary music reporter would ask me.  “I will record it when I am not working 60+ hours a week,” I would answer.

Also, I need to buy a new microphone cord.

So although I haven’t been doing nearly as much as I would like in terms of music (and art), I am thinking about it pretty much all the time.  Every day.  And that is part of the process in itself.  It is like making tea… maybe the leaves are steeping for too long, but I like a strong, bitter tea with no sugar.

Pandora, Last.fm and being half-Asian

So, I’ve been listening to a lot of internet radio lately, and the best site that I have found so far is Pandora, as far as a station that will play what you want to hear and that is good at predicting what you like to hear.

I think the only problem that I have noticed is that because they are breaking down songs into parts (i.e., “dynamic female vocal”), a person has to listen and categorize all of these songs, so they are missing a lot of very good songs.  And of course, there are things mislabeled.  When you type in Cocco (as in the Okinawan J-pop artist) you get some band that is really called Coco and is totally unrelated.  

Another huge flaw is that Pandora does not have my favorite J-Rock group, GLAY, aka “The Japanese Beatles”.

They do have a fairly good selection of music from around the world, so I will give them kudos for that.


Last.fm is fun because it “scrobbles” your music, and tracks everything that you listen to, so that you can share compatibility with your friends.  I was also able to easily upload my music to Last.fm, where Pandora does not currently have an option for that. 

The issue that I have with Last.fm is that it seems to categorize artists by popularity (major label vs. not) when you want to listen to a specific genre.  And if you listen to a genre station for more than an hour, it will literally start playing the exact same songs over again.  Probably the worst thing is that if you want to listen to Ben Folds, for example, and you type his name in the search box, it will play music that they think sounds like Ben Folds, but will NEVER actually play a Ben Folds song.  Which is really frustrating.


But I found out a weird thing the other day.  I guess people started tagging artists… according to how Asian they are!?

So under the “half-asian” tag, I am one of the top artists. (Second row from the top, on the right)


straight from last.fm

straight from last.fm


I will say I don’t think that this tag is entirely accurate; I’m sure some of the women (and it is all women on this page for some reason) are entirely Asian.


April 18th is Record Store Day

If you are a person who loves music, it is likely that you have gone to a record store.  It is also likely that some of your favorite record stores no longer exist.  (I can think of at least three.)

I am really excited about celebrating Record Store Day this year!  (And no, Best Buy is not a record store.)

So join me and other music lovers across the country by going into your local record store this Saturday and supporting them.  I am excited about stopping in some of the places I used to frequent as a teenager with a lot of spending money, and although I don’t have that kind of cash to throw around now, I wish I did.

If you are looking for some places to go in Metro Detroit, three locations right off of Gratiot are Record Time, Hot Hits and Melodies and Memories.  Those shops are located in the Roseville/Eastpointe area.  There’s also Rockabilly’s, which is off of Hall Road near downtown Utica.  Royal Oak used to have an awesome record store that also had great posters and rare recordings, but they’ve been gone for years.  I think they may have been shut down for selling bootlegs… but I’m not sure.  Anyway, I haven’t been to Royal Oak in awhile so I don’t know if there are any good stores there.  If anyone knows of any other record stores in the area, let me know!

Steven Page left BNL

“afraid of change… afraid of staying the same

when temptation calls, we just look away.”

This rather shocked me today.

I was kind of a late BNL fan – I didn’t start really getting into their music until 1995 or 1996.  (If you consider that they have been a band since the late 1980’s then this is kind of late.)

Anyway, some people may think of their music as the kitschy “If I had $1,000,000” or “Another Postcard” or “One Week”, but true fans likely think of the band through songs that carry more depth and darkness like “What a Good Boy” or “When I Fall” or “I’ll Be That Girl”.

I went to their NYE show in 1997, I met them on the day Stunt came out by standing in a very long line in Farmington Hills for the whole day, I got tickets when they were headliners at the HORDE festival and saw them two days in a row (sneaking down to better seats the second day by “recycling” my ticket from the first day).

But eventually they got to a height of popularity where it was difficult to acquire even decent seats to their shows so I gave up on going to their concerts. The last one I went to was after “Everything to Everyone” came out, when Shelly got tickets for us.  It was at the State Theater in Detroit.

The new stuff Steven Page is working on sounds great, and I do have his solo album, “The Vanity Project”, which I also love.  But thinking of BNL without him is scary.  Ed is a great singer and songwriter, but a large part of the charm of BNL was due to the live interaction between Ed and Steve onstage.  There is also the fact that as vocalists they sounded amazing together.

“we got these chains… hanging ’round our necks

people wanna strangle us with them before we take our first breath.”