Category Archives: Rambles

The reason behind the mistakes

I got a private message, kind of feedback that was meant in a kind hearted way. And  let me make it clear, this person started the message telling me how much they enjoy my music. I greatly appreciate feedback, it helps me get better at doing what I do.

But this was a good reminder for me. Some of you know my story, some of you might only been following my blogs for a while and understandably do not know some of the details of my story. So it might be a good time to bring this up again.

The feedback was about mistakes in my (blog) writing and there are a lot of them, I’ll be the first to admit that. So lets rewind back to my school days. I struggled throughout the school. I was always behind in my school work. Teachers called me lazy enough times that I started to believe it my self. I was a slow reader. I found my self reading a page and having to go back and read it again as I realised I had no idea what I just read. The lines kept jumping, I’d sendup reading the same line again and again. If you gave me spoken directions, I would find it hard to follow. But if you gave ma a map, I would have no problem to navigate through the most complex cities. I still today get left and right mixed up all the time. And my balance is crap.

The day I decided to drop out of school, one of my teachers asked me if I was dyslexic. I laughed at the idea. But when I later told my mother about what the teacher had told me, her jaw dropped. My mother could not believe she had missed it all those years.

Now I do believe it does give me a certain advantage in how I visualise things, and I believe this comes through in my songwriting. Writing the blogs is a passion of mine, but I would never consider my self being a writer. Songwriter? Yes. Writer? No.

But this feedback got me thinking how easy it is for us to criticise what others do, without even thinking that there might be more to the story. Are we so fixated in having everything perfect? In fact, isn’t the whole point of blogging that we can write, without the pressures of being a writer?

What I write, is never going to be perfect. Sure thing I could pay someone to proof read everything I write, but first of all, it would be an added expense, and second of all it would remove the immediacy. Maybe somewhere down the line we’ll get there, but right now it’s just me running the show here.

So let me leave you with this. I wrote a song about growing up with dyslexia called Read between the lines, and you can check it out HERE. This is something I try my best to work on or work around, but it will never stop me writing. And I hope that even with the mistakes, you are able to enjoy it.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Moral high ground

high groundThe past two years writing song a week and writing these blogs have been a real learning curve for me. I would even say the process has helped me to grow as a person. It’s like a mirror that forces you to look in deeper into yourself than you have ever done before. One of the most valuable lesson definitely is humility.

Humility is something that often is seen as weakness in our macho society. And often artists after gaining some success find themselves in a bubble, where it is easy to forget about humility. But I have learned in the past two years that if you are willing to push your ego out of the way and take a more humble approach, the world around you just becomes a nicer place to be.

And it’s that ego that gets on the way of so many things in our lives. And in the past few weeks I’ve seen too many egos getting on the way of humility. I find it hard to watch the news, or even rear my Facebook feed. And don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to tell you that I am somehow better than others, I am just humble enough to tell you I don’t understand it all.

It is too easy to take a side and stand on that “moral high ground” looking down on others, thinking we are right. But the issues at hand are a lot more complex than any of s could fully comprehend. Even the people in the front line who are knee-deep in the middle of it all, don’t know what the future holds. How are we supposed to have the answers? So why do we, standing on that so-called moral high ground feel the need to condemn everyone else? Why is it that our way is the only way? Is it not us all assuming that in the first place the root of the problem?

I don’t pretend to have the solutions. I don’t know how generations, even decades of resentment, hate and blood shed could be just put a side. We all got hurt along the way. But I do know us stating on that moral high ground will never be the solution. Us posting angry Facebook posts about how “the others” are wrong, will never stop the violence.

Here is what I know:

– Religion rarely is the true reason behind any conflict. Somewhere along the way there is someone who can make enough profit, gain power (which will lead to profit) or gain territory (which will lead to profit.) If there was no money to be made out of conflicts, would we have wars? I don’t think so.

– Inequality (someone having money, and someone not) will eventually lead to a conflict.

– Boycotts, trade curfews, sanctions and other pressures we try to use to solve a conflict rarely does nothing more than bring suffering to normal people who are just hoping to live in a peaceful existence. I lived twenty-one years of my life in Finland and Nineteen and a half in Ireland. There have been times I disagreed heavily with the policies of the government in both countries. Should I be punished for those policies?

– Never take what you see in the news, on the net or even on your social media feed as the truth. I have seen in a matter of minutes all of the above contradict each others depending on the source. Read between the lines.

I am not telling you what to do, that would put me on that same “moral high ground.” I am asking you to let enough humility to come through, so that you could see that at the end of the day, every one of us is a human being. Everyone of us is a someones child. Everyone of us were born innocent. Not everyone will listen, not everyone will agree, but the change has to start from somewhere.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Night of terror in Paris

eiffel-towerIt’s 1am and I am sitting up  in my hotel room in Germany where we played a great show earlier this evening. It was a cultural centre in a local town hall. It was a great evening all around. Not only musically, but we got to see a lot of our old friends, as well as make some new ones. It was one of those nights where the venue was beautiful, the sound was great, the audience were there to listen to the music and we connected with them.

After all the post show stuff I finally made it to my hotel room and I got a text message from Des, who play drums in Sliotar. He got back to the hotel earlier than me. In the text he told me about the terror attacks in Paris… I frantically tried to find an English news channel on TV, but the closest I get is the German version of Euro news. At least they have some of the text in English.

I turn on my roaming data on my phone, knowing I will spend a fortune. Roaming data in EU is still a rip off, and good WIFI in Germany can be hard to find. I am picking up pieces of news here and there. Tragic amount of people dead, so much anger, hostages. An art centre, not too different from like the one we played tonight was one of the places…

What can we say? I love Paris, and this would never stop me going in there. But tonight I am wondering how scared people feel in that beautiful city. I hear about explosions and straight away it brings me back to a conversation I had outside a bar in Tel Aviv about four years a go with an UN representative, who told me how most of the time the worst damage in explosion like suicide bombing is not the blast it self, but the glass, that shatters and flies around like razor sharp shrapnel. The death toll is massive, which means there will be many more survivors that are scared and disabled for life. Will there be retaliation? Will someone be countable?

There are endless stream of questions rushing through my mind. I know this attack will be used as a tool in politics in the weeks to come. How many people like me are glued to the TV tonight, trying to come to terms with what happened? Will tomorrow be just another day, or did the world we know change tonight? One thing I know is that Friday the 13th of November 2015 will be remembered as a dark day.

I just hope all my friends in France are safe. This was a brutal calculated and organised attack targeting innocent people, which too often is the case with terror attacks.

J.P.

Modern technology, a tool that helps us create

modern technologyInspiration is a funny thing. What inspired me twenty years ago and what inspires me now are completely different things. I suppose back then I looked at people on a stage and admired what they did. And definitely dreamed about doing something similar some day. Today the music business has changed, and you need to see your self as a content creator. I love it! I always loved creating things. But now it has become an essential part of my job.

Also the technology we have at our disposal does help. I know not everyone is happy about it as something that they worked hard at, and required skills, now has become much more accessible. For example the camera on my iPhone is something ten years ago we would have paid a small fortune for. I know we love the old analogue equipment, whether it is in music, photography, video, graphic design… But I for one do like the practicality of digital.

And it all still comes down to a skill. The great photograph is all about the composition and how the photographer can tell a story with the picture. Without the composition and the story, no digital gadget will never take a great photo. But once the composition and the story are in place, the modern technology can help with the rest.

The modern recording studio is full of gadgets, where the old vintage gear and the modern software compete all the time. And still the true artist is the one who knows what not to use. Today I was mixing a new song and a lesson taught to me by one of my recording mentors years ago came to my mind. He said EQ is a form of distortion. Every time you EQ something, you distort the original wave form. And you should always aim to get a perfect sound from the source, not tweak it later with all the gadgets.

And still as a songwriter, sure I can record a quick demo of my latest composition on my iPhone, while I type the lyrics to my computer, and email a back up to my self. But none of this new technology will write the song for me. It is still me, my guitar and my imagination that has to do the work.

And that’s the way we should view modern technology, as a tool that helps us create, not create for us. We are the artist, no matter what. And good technology leave us more time to create, and help us to share what we create. Share it faster and wider than we have ever been able to do before.

So go out and create. Create from your heart and share it with the world.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Alternative to the streets

guitar alternativeOn Sunday morning Dublin woke up with a massive hangover. Saturday was a Halloween night and the city went crazy and not all of it good crazy. The regular reader of my blog know I love this city. But this weekend things got bit out of hand.

I was playing in the Porterhouse with Sliotar and we had a lovely show. But around the city things were starting heat up. The fire brigade and ambulance service were stringed to their limit, putting out illegal bonfires and fires caused by fireworks,  picking up over intoxicated members of the public. There were even several incidents of stabbings.

Don’t get me wrong, Dublin has its crime problems like any big city. But this Saturday night was mainly due to excess drink and frustrated teenagers. And this got me thinking.

Most of us are so happy to blame the youth of today. Sure we would have never got up to anything like that in our youth… Well some of us anyway… But as much as we’d like to take the whip and lay down the law, we must ask some painful questions from our selves. Is this the fault of the youth, or are we failing the youth?

You see the schools have been on a midterm break here in Ireland for the past week. So the Halloween night landed on Saturday night, when the teenagers had eight days time to get bored, build bonfires and, well… do what teenagers do. Now maybe back in the day, things like throwing stones at the ambulance or the fire brigade would not have been a cool thing, but we got into trouble in different ways as well.

You see, too often these days we think buying the latest PlayStation will keep our kids occupied. It’s the easy option. So now that we are getting close to christmas and many of us wonder what to get our children, let me tell you something from my past.

My teenage years were stormy, my parents splitting up and me moving out of home at the age of seventeen. As a teenager, I might not been able to pinpoint it clearly, but somewhere deep down I knew things had not right with my parents for a while. So it would have been very easy for me to take the wrong path. I could very easily have slipped into that path of getting into trouble, hurting others and my self, desperately trying to get attention… In other words, my life could be very different today. But, and this is a big but, I had music. I know I sound like an idealist here, but I cannot help myself. Music gave me a purpose when I most needed it.

I personally do believe music is extremely powerful thing, but I am not here to tell you that it is the solution to all of our problems. What I am here to tell you, it very much can be part of the solution, along with sports, and other activities we have been doing for years. I know many people who have the same relationship with sports that I have with music. For some it has been computers. But the most important thing is we encourage and offer opportunities.  I believe we need to encourage and offer the youth the opportunities to part take in these activities no matter who they are. I believe this is an investment that will pay it self back in thousand fold. Give the youth an alternative to the streets. Give them a passion.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Why do I kick myself?

kicking myselfSo yesterday my sixth solo album came out! Not a biggie 😉 I actually had released the songs as singles for my followers on my blog and my Bandcamp page. But the traditional music release format is hard to let go. A friend of mine, a fellow musician asked me few months back if the “album” format still has its place. So inspired by his question I decided to try it out as I was long over due (in my world) an album release.

On another completely unrelated subject I am reading Ryan Kairalla’s music business book, that is going to be coming out shortly, called “Break the business.” In the book Ryan used the famous Beyoncé album release, where she kept the album release as a secret until the day it came out. It was a massive success, but then again, so are most of her releases. So what would happen if I tried to scale this down to me, someone who has a following, but very modest one compared to any of the major label superstars. Lets face it, my songs are not going to hit the charts, and I am OK with it. For some reason the idea of making a change in an individual rather than the mass crowd was always much more appealing to me. And if that individual scales into many more, that’s great. But I really don’t worry about “hitting the charts.”

Now due to all of the above my way of trying to determine the success of things can be bit fuzzy 😀 But again, I’m OK with it. There are, as with most things in life, outside pressure for me to monetize my solo project. I am still mainly relying on the income from my work with Sliotar and the sessions I play here in Dublin. It always make me laugh when some one is surprised that I am not making loads of cash with my music, no there are no sugar daddies feeding me with endorsement deals, or labels queuing to buy my songs.

But here’s the thing, personally I am in no rush. It is important for me to do all of this in the way that if years to come this all grows into something bigger than I can comprehend right now, I’d like to be able to look in the mirror and be proud of what I’ve done. The older I get, the more important that seems to become.

Let me just say, thank you so much to everybody who commented, retweeted, shared liked, downloaded and spread the word about my album yesterday. It was an awesome day! So why do I still kick myself? Let me explain a bit.

Yesterday I was up early enough, about 7.30am or so. I wrote three blog posts from a  scratch, I uploaded the new song, photographed and designed the single cover (yeah, I do regularly run late with this stuff…) and spent a quite a lot of time talking to people online about the new album. I had plans to do more, but by 4pm I was spent… That’s the thing about any kind of creative stuff, I believe there is a limit to how much you can do before your brain needs a rest. So at 4.15pm I decided to go shopping for a curtain rod. I tried to do more work later, but basically just ended up staring at the computer screen with a blank brain.

So by the time I finally got to bed, well past midnight I was kicking myself for not doing more. Silly, I know… Today I was up early enough for Saturday 8am or so. And I was thinking back how happy I actually was with what I had done. The thing is, Could I have done more? Maybe. Would it have made a difference? Probably not… But even more so, if I was that drained, I probably would not be happy with the work afterwards (back to the point of being proud of your work.)

Sometimes you need the dawn of a new day to see things clearly 🙂 And here is few things the new day reminded me: If your brain is drained it is time to switch off and recharge. And also, this is a great time to get inspired 🙂 Listen to music, watch a movie, read a book, what ever it takes to make you inspired. And never underestimate the power of good nutrition, rest and exercise.

Oh yeah, and does the “album” release still have value? Yes it does. But only if it is part of your story, and you find a way to tell that story 🙂

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

Learn to switch off

brainswitchoffAs children we were taught to brush our teeth every morning and night. It was programmed so well into us, that we do it almost automatically for the rest of our lives. We know a good diet is important and we try to eat well. We know exercise is good for us and we try our best to stay fit. All of the above is well documented, and there are industries build around to assist us. But what about our mind? Why are we not taught from the young age to take care of it?

I read somewhere recently how school children are diagnosed having stress. “Sure they need to learn to deal with it” I hear some of you say. But do we give them the tools to deal with it?

In the process of doing a lot of creative work almost daily, I’ve become to realise how fantastically complex our brain is. Our mind adapts to situations, if provided with the right tools, it can consume a lot of new information, solve complex problems and create. I’ve challenged my self and I’ve seen my mind deliver a lot more than I ever thought was possible in the past.

But I also realised the importance of giving your mind a break. The human mind is extremely strong, but like any other part of our body, you need to let it rejuvenate. If you work hard, you need to let the mind rest. So how do we do this?

Well for starters, the obvious one is sleep. Without proper sleep your brain will only function for so long, before your whole body goes into a shutdown. And that is a bad thing to happen, really bad thing! Also your brain needs fuel. Proper nutrition is vital for your brain. I will be writing a more detailed blog post about nutrition in January. But we all should learn how to switch off. There are some temporary releases, for example alcohol, but they are never a long-term solution. I personally have found meditation to be a great tool for this, but I know it is not for everyone. I think you still need to find your own way to “switch off,” but I do believe we should be taught some techniques already in school, make it a daily habit from a young age.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

The path is broken

the path is brokenThe path is broken, so why do we insist on walking on it? Why don’t we search  new path? Or even better, make our own? Why do we insist on sticking to what was, when it has been proven to not work? I speak openly about how the path is broken, and almost every time I do, someone comes along and tells me how I should not say it, that I am wrong, that the old way is still the only way.

Why do they do it? Because they have something personally invested in it. It can be as simple as their dream. If I am right, then their dream is crushed. But I am not here to crush anybody’s dream. I am just here to help. I am here to tell you that things have changed, things have evolved. And that means you and your dream needs to evolve as well. I am not asking you to give-up on that dream. I am pointing out how with a little bit of adjusting, your dream can be better. And it can become reality.

But I can’t show you the shortcut. There is no short cut. And if something looks like a shortcut, it comes with a price. To make headway on your path, you need to do the walking. You want to get there faster? Buy a car. Ok, lets say you do. The car is going to cost you a lot of money. But even more so, keeping it serviced and the tank full is going to be eating more and more money. Money that the same people who whispered to you about the short cut and the fast car will gladly take from you.

What if you walk? What if you don’t just focus on the destination, whatever that might be, but you concentrate on the path right in front of you, the scenery all around you, the smells, the sounds the people you meet along the way. What if you learn to enjoy the walk as much as you do the idea of reaching your destination?

And what is the destination? Some kind of utopia where you finally are happy? Once you get there, you can relax and forget about it all. You have reached your goal. Is that it? Hmm… I would not want that to be it. I would want to be able to keep going, learning, growing.

The path is broken, no doubt about it. But it’s been broken before, and we did found a new path. It just seems we are too eager to forget. And then again, there are people who will fight to the end to keep you on that broken path. You see they are making money of you. They are sitting in the sidelines, trying to figure out how to best squeeze the most out of you. And if you step off the path, you are breaking their carefully orchestrated system. You are taking the power out of their hands. You are reclaiming after years of extortion what rightfully is yours.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

If everything was perfect, would there be any soul left?

perfection is stagnationIt seems we expect perfection from everything new these days, and if we don’t at first get perfection, there are masses out there ready to criticise. The thing is, rarely these “critics” would be willing to put their own work on the line. Some of us rush to install the latest version of a software, and then proceed to complain about it. Where the sensible ones of us wait for a while to let the bugs get sorted.

The new iPhone came out during the week. I like my iPhone, it has become an integral part of my productivity. But would I rush to buy a new one the day it comes out? No. I would wait for the diehards to put it to the test first. Let them expose the cracks and give Apple time to sort the things out.

We get angry about not getting a perfect product, but that goes with everything. Microsoft does not exactly have great reputation either, so let’s not only bash Apple here. In fact, I don’t think there is a tech company who have not been guilty of releasing a sub par product somewhere along the way.

But these are the companies that stand on the frontline of innovation and development. They have already changed the way we work and live our lives. If they had not taken some risks along the way, pushed the boundaries instead of playing it safe, we would not be where we are with the technology today.

And this is not only tech, it goes with everything. If we don’t push the boundaries, take risks and sometimes throw something out in the world that might still need some improvement, we will stop developing, improving and growing.

I think this is no different in art. If we play it safe, that’s exactly what the results will be, safe… We will not break any new ground and we won’t touch people in a meaningful way. And when we take those risks, when we release twelve singles instead of the traditional model of album, when we give away music for free and let the audience pay what they want, or support us in a different ways there always will be critics. And you should not worry about them. Success is not one giant leap. It is not you releasing an album that becomes an overnight success. It is hundreds, id not thousands of baby steps. It is one fan at the time, one song at the time. It is a journey.

Perfection is a good thing to aim for, but if we dismiss everything else than the perfect, we will dismiss a lot of great things. And what we are left with? If everything was perfect, would there be any soul left?

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE

The so-called plagiarism

Robert JohnsonI’m sure many of you heard the story that made the front page music news about Irish singer songwriter Hozier and the plagiarism claims. In fact it is so well documented, that I won’t even go in to the details here. Lets just say it is all sorted now.

But I do want to talk about the subject of the so-called “plagiarism” in music. The lines have blurred a lot since the days Vanilla Ice got accused of using the bass riff from David Bowie and Queen’s collaboration song. This was an obvious case, that these days would have been treated just as “using a sample.” Using samples has become part of the process of making music. But if you use a sample from someone else song, you do need to pay for it and clear it using the proper procedures. So what I am talking about here is not sampling, but genuine plagiarism in the songwriting process.

A lot of the claim in the Hozier case was base on a chord progression and time signature. Let me just point out that you cannot (nor should you be able to) copyright either. The same three chords have been recycled since the beginning of time. Think of blues for a second, or the early rock and roll. They were mostly based on strict structures of twelve, or sixteen bar blues. Everybody was happy and no one got sued. I don’t think any historian interested in the history of rock n’ roll would deny the influence Robert Johnson has had on the music we listen today.

I also hear a lot of my older fellow musicians talking about how there is no new music these days. And they very much like to point back to bands like the Led Zeppelin. Well, Led Zeppelin “borrowed” heavily from left, right and centre. If the stories are anything to go by, maybe the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” made the lines in the songwriting sessions bit blurred. But then again I ask you, did they “borrow” or where they just heavily influenced by other artists, maybe even inspired? Either way, they revolutionised rock music.

There are several chord structures, for example (sorry for getting bit theoretical here…) if we take the first, fifth, minor sixth and the fourth chord of any scale, we can sing on top of those chords hundreds if not even thousands of songs. So I think we need to relax on the subject a bit. Plagiarism to me is someone copying a song on purpose, but if you write something similar, are you not being inspired by someone else’s work?

And you know what? That is how music has evolved over decades. We take something old and make something new out of it. Do you think your music is totally original? Do you think you have not been inspired by anything, or anyone? Did you live in a bubble for all of your life? Are you trying to tell me you have a control of your unconscious mind, where a lot of those ideas actually happen? We all are inspired by millions of things in our lifetime, and most of it without us even knowing about it.

Every time you hear about another plagiarism court case, guess who’s making the money? The system, the labels who usually are behind taking the case to the court and the law firms. And every time this happens, little bit of creativity gets destroyed as songwriters are scared their song sounds like some one else song…

I am not trying to tell you that you should not care about his at all, I have thrown away some of my songs as they sounded too similar to someone else songs, or even some of my own 😀 But I do believe we need to relax a little bit about who owns what. At the end of the day, it’s all music.

J.P.

The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE