No Country For Old Men

Let's start with a big overwhelming sigh of relief: the fucking record is out and I'm feeling fantastic. Lighter, a little sad to see it go, but overall much better than that last emotionally vomit-inducing blog post below. We're sitting at #1 on the CKUA charts, #17 on the CBC Top 20 chart (that's 4 weeks in a row, thank you very much!) and are working on keeping the momentum going for more radio, publicity, and press. Tour announcement goes out Monday. Everything seems to be going swimmingly.

Just kidding.
I'm already scrutinizing what can be done better or making a long list of goals and tasks for the coming weeks, months and years. Painfully underwhelmed with how slow it feels until tour kicks off. I can't say it isn't nice to have the tires pumped, but reveling in success has never been my strong suit. I'm already fighting to climb, grow and improve. I love this album and am proud of the songs, but it doesn't change the fact that I have lots of work to do to reach the goals I've set.

And now for some verbally combative self-reflection! The only reason anyone reads these fuckin' things. My recent bone I'm picking is as follows:

When you're releasing an album, at every juncture it feels like you're talking about your image, brand, who you are and what you want to communicate to people. Everyone wants to know why they should buy into YOU more than that other alt-country prick down the block. Which begs the painful question...

How the fuck am I supposed to define what makes me worth paying to hear?

The question warped the way I viewed myself as a human being. I didn't know how to look at myself as a product. I thought I needed a persona. I thought I had to lose weight. I had to be a "pretty girl" - whatever the fuck that means. If I wasn't what people wanted based on image alone, I had to write songs better than my male counterparts to be noticed because guess the fuck what: it's not an even playing field. I thought I had to be saccharine to everyone I met, a real sweetheart. No negativity, no opinions that might get me into trouble. Horrifyingly, I thought I had to play into my personal life and be an "out and proud" figure of music. Which I'm not. I'm fine with my life and who I am and certainly, personal experience informs my songwriting, but I will fucking burn before I use that part of myself to sell tickets. I don't belong to any group except the group of people writing songs and making music. End of story.

Now that I've had some breathing room and admittedly a few therapy sessions and smoked a few joints, I've realized that my problem was that by trying to be marketable or interesting I was inherently hiding who I actually am: a funny, engaging, honest (albeit a little conceited), relatable and opinionated little shit-head who gets off on making people question what is comfortable, to an extent. I'm no full-blown artist of controversy and I don't intend to be. The music is largely accessible and quite sweet, dialed back and even a little understated. Which is genuinely just my guts, I'm not trying to make an artistic statement or develop into something transcendent, I just am. Whatever the fuck that means.

I had no idea what made me worth paying to hear versus a character I've created for the purpose of this rant, Ted Shmed. Ted is handsome, a great singer, writes good songs and people gravitate to his stage presence because it's familiar. Painfully familiar. Ted probably has a beard and starts a song by saying "this is a little song about..."

And then it hit me. I'm NOT Ted, thank fuck. We have 100 Ted's making Ted type music who all look and sound like other Ted's and are very well represented in the overall music and living community. If Ted is a country or roots singer, there's a whole bunch of him lined up around the block singing the same song, and people just love to see him. Which is great, I'm not trying to take anything away from Ted. Just making my point.

I knew that it might be my millennial self-importance taking hold, or what I like to call "snowflake" mentality, but it was high time for me to embrace some hard truths about the differences between me and Ted. Namely, that I'm not like other people. In music, in life, anywhere.

**Bats eyelashes** 
I'm SPECIAL.

I'm a girl, but I'm not a done-up airhead claiming pseudo-feminism when really I'm setting women back 100 years by singing songs manufactured and pumped out by old white guys. I'm not a boy either. Despite my boyish charm and love of flannel plaid, anatomically I still rock the (V). I'd call myself a singer-songwriter, but unfortunately, people just love to throw the word FEMALE in front of that particular nomenclature because they're fucking idiots that can't use their ears and eyes, apparently.

Essentially, my differences and uniqueness make me all that much more relatable. Because while I'm an anomaly in my personal life and maybe how many pilsners I drink or how many F-bombs I think are appropriate - I'm kinda just the way I am. Empowered by cracking jokes and having a conversation with people. Whether I'm on stage or not, I'm really not looking to doll it up much past what I think and what the world thinks of me. And guess what I figured out? Most other people in life think in a similar fashion. They have differences that make them uniquely who they are, and experiences that inform their opinions and tastes and the way they choose to embrace themselves. Oh yeah, we're all snowflakes, baby.

So maybe I'm just blowing hot air into my own asshole here, but maybe, just MAYBE, by being an unafraid version of myself who tells it like it is and sharing some gruesome truths about myself, the world around me and the people in it... like maybe people could feel like it's okay to be who they are, too?

Unless you're a total fucking dimwit, in which case go listen to Drake or something.

 

Mariel Buckley

Calgary, AB, Canada