Sunday, October 9, 2011

Music and Robots

The weather is perfection out here on Dia's balcony . Perfect breeze. Perfect sunshine. Perfect smells from the Eucalyptus Tree leaves below. As much as I am missing Chandler and my "mad scientist" robot workshop back home, a blazing 107 degree autumn day is not something I'm looking forward to returning to. (Hopefully Austin has cooled down a bit while I've been gone.)

Dia, Nick, Hannah, and I are traveling to San Diego this evening to watch a Dawes show. You can learn more about this band HERE. Nick and I first saw Dawes play in Austin a few months back. I haven't been moved by music like that in a long time. I'm excited to be inspired tonight. I plan to attend more live shows when I return to Austin. I live in the live music capital of the country, and I've hardly taken advantage of my city so far.

I also plan on playing music with a lot more musicians back home. True, I don't know many yet. Mostly I've played it pretty low key, designing and making robots mostly in my casa, but being out in L.A. has really inspired me to dive into live  music a little more and to learn as much as I can from other artists. 

I met a guitarist yesterday (the studio musician who played on a song I wrote for Dia's record). I asked him if he might be interested in teaching. I was surprised by his reply. He was almost offended I had asked and said, 

"Becoming a teacher is the death of a musician. I don't know enough of that theory stuff to teach. Besides, you can't teach a person style and feel. You can't learn that from someone else either. You can practice and practice in your room all day, but once you get out on a stage somewhere, all that practicing goes out the window. It's really important to play with people all the time." 

Remember this was coming from one of the most amazing musicians I have come by. It's interesting to note that all of the incredible professional studio musicians I have met thus far have never taken a lesson.

Aside from tracking guitar parts and song writing, I've also been involved in the production process on a track or two on Dia's record. I'm always a little timid offering my humble suggestions to the professionals, but so far the producers have always taken my musical opinions into consideration. I have been picking the brains of these producers and am so grateful to hear their advice and learn from their decades of experience.

I will be here for a week and a couple more days. Immediately when I get home, I will get my hands good and dirty with polymer clay and whip up a "Dia Bot" like ya'll have never seen before! A lot of the pieces that you might have noticed are not currently in my shop will be put back up. I'm finalizing my Alarm Clock Earrings. They will be released this month as well. And then, what do you know, it's right on into November's "First Thursday" piece. 

If anyone is curious at all about what I've been up to out here, or if you have any questions about music or the recording process, I would love to offer my answers. Also, if you have any questions about Chandler the Robot feel free to ask:) Can't wait to get back.



  1. hey meg! just wanted to let you know my girl loves her Willies Earrings! she even said she likes them more than all the Tiffany's jewelry I've gotten her! she can't wait til the clock earrings come out! and I'd like a dia bot for our car... (and hopefully soon after you'll make a meg bot to accompany her sister bot!) just thought you should know that you're work is truly amazing and well liked! she's received so many compliments from co workers and friends! keep up the amazing work music-wise and jewelry-wise! from both of us... THANKS!

  2. It's actually really cold compared to a few weeks ago here in Texas!! haha it's been raining like crazy and it's not supposed to get into the 90s all week!! Pretty sad that I think that's cold weather. Anyways I'm really excited to see how the Dia Bot will turn out!! Yall keep up the good work!!

  3. Not really a question per se, but definitely something I'd like to say.

    You need to keep writing, Meg. Your jewelry is amazing, so unique, and clearly you have a serious talent. I myself am an artist, and I see the sketches you put up and it blows my mind how you can be so creative both artistically and musically. I've played guitar for about 4 or 5 years now, and while I try and write my own music, I will never be able to write music like you. The feeling I get when the instrumental orchestra part of Here, Here, and Here kicks in and I subconsciously start bobbing my head to the song you first created...and when did that song come out? Regardless of how long ago you released a song, whenever I hear them, it's like the first time again.

    I'm in college right now, and whenever someone asks me that dreaded question of what I want to do with my life after school I say: "I want to discover new bands that will change peoples lives." Well you and the rest of the gang are it. You are that band. Although you may be some sort of break/hiatus/backup band deal. Don't quit. Keep writing. Keep going. I believe in your band so much. Not only how incredible you play together and sound but the words you write are stories in themselves. I've never seen such intricate and well developed writing. I honestly believe you have everyone else in the industry beat.

    Keep making us awesome robots but always keep your music first. Your words are going to change the world someday, Meg. They have already changed mine.

  4. I live in austin too! the weather's been surprisingly nice this week! Today, its like 65 degrees, cloudy, breezy, even sprinkling a little bit!

  5. geejayaay,
    Thank you very much! I went into a Tiffany's store for the first time about a week ago, and they ain't got nothin on me! ha ha. j/k. I'm so excited for the Alarm Clock Earrings. If your girl likes the willies, I'm pretty sure she will like these. They are the same stylistically. Don't know about a "Meg Bot"... ha ha

    SHOMO and kristin, I'm so stoked to hear about the weather. So glad we finally got some rain!

    Thank you so much for your post. It's really great to hear what listeners get out of the music. I hate to say this, but there are those few moments, when I forget why I started doing it in the first place. I definitely am going to keep playing music. Luckily, it seems like Meg and Dia members will have a place on Dia Frampton tours, and Meg and Dia will also continue. I also think it might be fun to branch out and explore songwriting and producing as well. We'll see where the road goes... (And I can't say that music will come before Chandler or Chandler will come before music, they are both like kids to me: I can't say I love one more than the other:)

  6. I guess I don't really mean you have to choose music first, I just mean to make sure that Taylor doesn't sit in it's guitar case for long periods of time :) xo

  7. It's so rare to find a band that can truly move you-- and when it hits you, it hits you hard!

    But darn, that is one heck of a truth spoken by that guitarist... I can sit here for days thinking about it, and all I can do is agree. I've seen it alive in great musicians from the past... Theory is so miniscule when creativity and passion are there. Look at Lennon and McCartney for instance... I've gotta get out and play with people.

    You're such an amazing and talented person Meg, you've always been! There will always be us here sitting back in amazement of the jewels you put forth. Be well :)

  8. Meg, you are way too humble. I love your songs and your voice is really sweet and haunting (not Halloween scary). Don't sell yourself short!
    My questions are how much reiteration and improvisation goes on in the studio? Doesn't the studio time cost $$$$? Are these session musicians employed by the studio? Could the artist ask for certain musicians to play in the studio?

  9. Aw, so good to hear that you're more involved in the production process. Will you be credited as a producer/co-producer in any of the new songs? I know you did all those demos for the previous m&d albums, but I'm not sure if you had producer-credits for those.

    I've actually always been really intrigued/impressed with the demos you create with garageband. It's a very interesting process.. piecing together all these different things to come up with one super awesome thing. (And as someone said above, I especially love when the violins kick in, in Here,Here and Here :)

    Also glad to hear that you're going to do more live shows. Can't say i know what's it like from the musician point of view, but I love watching live performances cause you'll never know what you get! Really good live musicians can play the same song over and over throughout the years and make it sound like it's new and fresh each time.

    Can't wait to see what's up ahead for you.

  10. I find myself kind of agreeing with what your musician friend said. I took piano lessons for 5 years when I was younger but I was never really passionate about it. My parents had to force me to practice every week and it felt like a chore. It's only been recently, after not playing for quite a few years, that I've really developed a passion for it and started playing it on my own without anyone telling me to. Lessons may teach you technique, but they don't give you the heart for it, at least in my case.

    I did have a random question having to do with college. I remember hearing that you did go to college before really investing all your time to Meg and Dia. My question is how were you about to balance school with guitar playing/practicing. I got back into piano about a year ago but I've really been playing it non-stop recently (along with writing and photography). Today, instead of paying attention to my math professor, I found myself imagining that my desk was a piano and started fingering the melody of Skinny Love - that probably isn't good for my studies ha ha. So I'm just curious how you were to balance school and guitar?

    Oh and just a PS, I've been getting a lot of comments about my Stupendous Chandler and a lot of people have been inquiring about where I got it. I usually just tell them, "a friend of mine makes them" and tell them about your blog. I hope you get some new customers soon.

  11. I'm like Sunny Skater - I signed up for piano for 2 years and, I was always forced to practice. I finished the second year and finally convinced me parents to let me quit. They knew that I had tried for two years and that if I really didn't want to do it, then I didn't have to.

    That was at the end of grade 5. I'm in grade 8 now, and just recently my brother's friend's family had invited my entire family over for dinner.

    My brother's friend had a keyboard and I pretty much played around on it the entire time we were there. Part of it was because my brother and his friend stayed together with my the friend's little sister. I was kinda by myself since they're younger...

    But part of me was glued to that keyboard. I just wanted to keep playing! I found myself learning how to play simple tunes by ear. Even when I was signed up for piano lessons. I knew how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb before lessons started because I practiced it by just simply trying out different notes.

    My dad had come down at one point and noticed how fascinated i was with the keyboard. He asked if I wanted to start lessons again and I told him I didn't want to mainly because of the practice.

    Now I know you need practice but it shouldn't come from being forced. I want to play when I feel like playing, and I want to learn when I feel like learning. There shouldn't be a deadline.

    I notice myself sometimes wanting to go upstairs and just play around on our piano and refresh my memory.

    But I always think to myself that someone -probably my parents :) - will say "I told you so" and if you know me, you'll know that I don't really like to be 'told.'

  12. Sunny the Skater,

    I didn't find time for both, that's why I dropped out actually. I keep meaning to go back at some point, and take a semester here and there and even take online classes, but I just haven't found the time yet.

    Now, I am running Chandler the Robot, helping Dia with her solo record, and continuing to be part of Meg and Dia as well as some other side projects, so I believe that is is possible to do more. It's just all about time management. Get up earlier, sleep less (ha, ha) and try to divvy up your time appropriately. Just make sure that if you get overwhelmed, don't kill yourself! You will know when enough is enough, and it is totally o.k. to let go of one thing to focus on something else for a time.

    more questions from you guys:

    how much reiteration and improvisation goes on in the studio? Quite a bit actually. I tried out a whole bunch of guitar parts and piano parts while in the studio. The session musicians did too. Actually, I think all of the session players came up with their parts on the spot. They are that good!

    Doesn't the studio time cost $$$$? Absolutely! Not sure how much actually, but I'm guessing that the producer makes more $$$ on one song than I do in an entire year!

    Are these session musicians employed by the studio? they are employed by the producer

    Could the artist ask for certain musicians to play in the studio? Sometimes, there is that option sometimes not. For example I was able to play on a song or two, but others were strictly for the studio musicians the producer was comfortable with working. It was more of a deadline issue.

  13. First and foremost your jewelry is amazing. I also love the band! Wow you are just so talented (even though talent is from diligent work). I am anxiously awaiting for the new album even though it is technically Dia's debut solo album...tell her I wish her the best of luck; she is also one talented individual. Thank you if you even read this, you seem like a busy person! I have 2 quick questions, will here be a single from Dia's debut album if so when is it's release and in general when should us(the fans) mark our calendars to get the album. Rumor has it the date is Novmeber 8th, true or false? Thanks for being GREAT and good luck with music and jewelry, you are so artistic.

  14. You should try and make a new piece of jewelry for October for breast cancer awareness month.

  15. Meg!:)
    You are one of the people that I really have a faith in! I love how talented you are. I mean you write music, you are musician you can sing and you can ever produce such an amazing stuffs those bots are cute indeed.What I like is you're trying to do everything at its best and you balance them pretty well! plus I love meg&dia music so much. Totally my style!

    and the quote from the guitarist, I read it twice and I couldnt agree more!

    You know what, every time I see new post from you blog I get excited! I just wnna read you guys stories & see your new robots <3<3 Please keep on doing this forever :D

    support from Thai girl!

  16. Nini Shen,

    I'm not sure when Dia's record is coming out, or the single's. I don't think she is even sure yet, but I think November is a good guess. I only wrote one song on the record just to set the record straight (no pun intended! ha ha!) I'll let you know which one it is when her record comes out:)


    that is an amazing idea! I was looking for a way I could help support a charity with Chandler, and this is it! Thanks for the suggestion!


  17. Can't wait to see how the Dia bot turns out. I know you mentioned before that you are really into the steampunk design of things. Well I just saw this movie called Steam Boy and the animation is amazing. I thought you might like it as it revolves around the steampunk world. If you ever have the time you should watch it. It might even inspire some new creations. Hope you are having fun in LA. and again can't wait to see all the future designs for Chandler the Robot.
    Here's the link to the movie.
    It's also completely free to watch if you don't mind a few commercials here and there.

  18. I'd been thinking about picking up a guitar recently and i finally strolled into my local music store and purchased an acoustic guitar. Now Meg, what do you think is the best way to go about learning? From the story, the studio musician would probably told me to learn by the ropes. From playing classical music, i'd been always told to take lessons from whoever you can, take lessons from 5 different guys at once, each one with a different style and etc... I want to know your opinion on this, should i just doodle around with my impulse buy, or should i take lessons, or maybe get an instructional dvd that i would watch for a couple of times and loose it in the crevasse that is my couch? Also, are there going to be any more stupendous chanders coming soon? Thanks

  19. Hey Meg, I have a drawing that I made for you and I was wondering how I could give it to you. Should I scan it and email it to you? If so, what email do I send it to? If I'm supposed to send it in the mail, then what's the address.

    Try to get back to me as soon as possible. I can't wait for you to see it!

  20. Im a musician myself and I have yet to learn notes and scales. I mostly play along with whoever is in front in me and we practice just by ear. Im working with a harpist/pianist and we play pretty much all day and night. However, she's in New York and Im in Las Vegas now so now im just trying to meet other musicians and expand my music abilities. I've met incredible musicians and one of them refuses to go to school or it, he explained to me that he didn't want anyone to teach him and change his musical style. He's content with his ability and will keep learning more on his own. I respect that.

  21. What specifically did you want lessons on? I have been playing guitar for around 10 years piano for around 3 and have always really enjoyed lesson and have enjoyed teaching them. I think that lessons really have a lot to offer if you get the right teacher, as for theory... It's only really useful for composers. Performers never really need to know it so I can see why the studio musicians you've meet probably don't know much. Personally I know too much theory and the only thing it does is leave you wanting more because it's not definitive and it is pretty much infinitely open for interpretation. Anyway I thought I would give a shout out for lessons, but it doesn't really matter how good you are there are plenty of terrible guitarist that are super famous, so it's nice to see some bands that still have talented people writing guitar parts.
    if you are interested the guitar in Cardigan Weather is what sold you guys to me, and I'm definitely a music snob so that should be extra kudos to you.