Two weeks ago, I was feeling the if-I-don’t-get-out-of-New-York-soon-I’m-going-to-go-crazy itch, so I booked a trip to go see friends in San Francisco. Then I realized that while I was there, I should check out some venues and see how plausible/worthwhile it might be to try to do a show out there at some point. I left this past Saturday and returned this morning, and the time on the west coast just FLEW by, it was so much fun!

I didn’t get to spend as much time in the actual city of San Francisco as I wanted, but I did learn the following things:

1. San Francisco is GREAT.

2. The Castro neighborhood is chock full of not only gay guys and gay couples, but SO MANY two-dad families with adopted kids! So awesome!!! I can’t believe there are places where gay couples aren’t allowed to adopt (or get married, for that matter!) because it was such a huge reminder that adoptive, loving families are so important and helpful to society and we should encourage it as much as possible. Can’t wait till gay marriage and gay adoption are legal everywhere. I want to live in a world where I see gay couples with adopted kids everywhere, not just in one neighborhood of one city in one country. If you didn’t know, I am HUGE on adoption. Don’t plan on ever being a parent myself, but I think it’s such a crime that people keep having biological kids instead of adopting them, when there are already SO many kids in the world who need parents. If gay couples who would make loving parents want to adopt kids, LET THEM. EVERYONE benefits from children having loving, stable homes and being well provided for.

3. Napa is an odd place where there are literally ONLY rich people and there’s no dirt or shabbiness anywhere. What kind of a city is that? ๐Ÿ˜›

4. You can get good food in small towns in California. You just can’t get good food in small towns anywhere else.

5. California is too big and spread out. Be more like San Francisco, rest of California!

6. I am still completely obsessed with my friends’ two Italian Greyhounds. CUTEST DOGS EVER. And they’re adopted!

7. I need an iPhone. I need an iPhone, I NEED AN iPHONE! I am still printing out google maps and drawing diagrams and writing notes to myself and taking it all with me when I go to uncharted territory. And wanting to take pictures and not having a camera. And thinking of songs while walking around and not being able to write down lyrics or record voice memos. And wanting to blog and email on the go and not being able to. I feel like the smart phone having community has left the rest of us behind, and life is now lived with the expectation that you will be able to do anything on the go, because you have a smart phone, don’t you? Well, I don’t. So I need to get one. And I will, soon.

The other cool thing I did while visiting San Francisco is meet my German fan Andre and his girlfriend Babsi for the first time. They happened to be visiting SF while I was, so we decided to meet up. Andre and I met on Twitter and he’s been a great fan ever since, but we’d only ever interacted on the internet, so it was really fun and crazy to meet him in person. We chatted for about an hour, then I had to run and catch dinner with my best friend before getting back on a plane to cross the country in FIVE HOURS which still totally blows my mind.

I did check out a couple venues while I was there, and I was really glad I did, because you get a very different impression from visiting a venue in person than you do from reading its website. Yeesh. I’m trying to figure out what the best way to have a good, well-attended show in San Francisco might be. I do expect to visit again soon since it was so cool and there’s SO much I didn’t get to see or do while I was there, so maybe I’ll try to hit some open mics, or figure out if the gay bars ever hold events where I should perform, or just try to build up enough blog buzz that a show there would be well attended by people who know my music. The latter is the ultimate goal. Artists like Girl Talk and Jonathan Coulton were able to do shows around the country after building internet buzz, so hopefully I can do the same. But that means I gotta get movin’ on those bloggers!

For the last many weeks, I’ve been working on writing and recording the rest of the tracks for my upcoming debut album, “Four on the Floor.” I want to have at least 12 tracks on the album, and of course I want them to be as good as they can possibly be since I’ll be starting to push this material to bloggers and other press and internet radio and potential and existing fans etc etc, so I’m taking my time and trying to make it perfect while also hurrying and trying to get it out so I can start promoting it and hopefully start seeing the fruits of that promotion.

Right now, as you know, I’ve got six tracks finished and posted on jccassis.com (click on “music”). I have one more track that’s ready to be finished in the studio but there was a technical snafu I have to go back and fix. Then there are three tracks that are ready for vocals, one track I’m not sure about, and two songs I’ve written but not started the recordings for. So I’ve got to decide what to do with the track I’m not sure about, record vocals for all 6 songs that don’t have them recorded yet, and make tracks for two more songs. That’s a fair amount of work, but if I’m diligent about it I should be able to get it done over the next couple of weeks. Then it will be time to take everything to the studio to be mixed and mastered, then FINALLY the album will be done, I’ll cull a demo from it, and start sending them both out into the world. Of course I’ve also got to make album art for it and get some hard copies printed up to give out and sell, but at least all the creative work will be done for a while.

Happily, I’m VERY inspired to write these days so I’m confident I will continue to come out with new material a fair amount even when this album is finished and released, but my goals for right now are 1) to have a demo to give to industry contacts, 2) to have an album to send to reviewers/bloggers/give to potential fans/sell at shows/be my presence on iTunes and all other digital retailers, and 3) be finished with this album so I can spend the vast majority of the next few months promoting the hell out of it and hopefully get somewhere with it. It will be a LOT of work. I’ve got to get it all over internet radio, try to get it licensed for use in film & TV, get as much press for it as possible, make music videos for some of the songs, try to make as many new fans as possible through social networks and shows, and on and on and on. But I can’t start any of this until the album is done, so that’s what I’m trying to make happen right now. Once it’s done though, I hope I can count on you to help me get the word out! ๐Ÿ™‚

p.s. I also got accepted into a songwriting workshop at the Songwriters Hall of Fame starting next week, so I’m hoping that will give me even more insight into writing hit songs as well as get me connected to some great industry contacts. Lady Gaga met her producer through a Songwriters Hall of Fame showcase event the story goes, so I can’t help but be a little excited about what opportunities this might bring about for me… ๐Ÿ™‚ The first assignment is to write a song for an artist of your choosing that a publisher or record label would want, so of course I picked Britney Spears, and the song I wrote is REALLY good and REALLY in her style so I REALLY hope they like it! ๐Ÿ™‚

So the last few weeks have been just a tad rough to say the least. First, I finally started recording vocals for the new songs, and then my computer died right in the middle of recording. So I lugged it to the Apple store, who couldn’t help me (can someone explain to my why they don’t do data recovery, especially when they do everything else, and especially when they call their service people “geniuses”?????), so I went to Tekserve, who could help me, as long as I could flush $1300 away in the process. It’s amazing the ways in which money is determined to run screaming from our bank accounts. What is so scary about just staying put, money?!

So anyway, I lugged my seemingly 100lb iMac all around town, finally got a solution for $1300 dollars, and waited two weeks to get my life back. I have not recently been as depressed and bored as I was in that time. And it taught me how important making music is to me. It’s literally something I have to do to have any true excitement and gratification in my life. There is nothing like writing a great song, nothing like seeing it come to life when you record it, and nothing like performing it for people and having them be blown away and tell you they love it. That’s what I love to do. That’s almost all I love to do, especially career-wise. Luckily I realized a few days in (I can be pretty slow about some pretty important things) that I should be using that time to write, and so I wrote three new songs in that time, and now, finally, FINALLY, I have 12 songs for my dance-pop album, Four on the Floor. With the pace at which I was able to work on the last few songs, if I really put my mind to it, I could have the remaining 5 recordings done very soon, and record the vocals quickly too, then it’ll be time to take them to the studio for finishing, and then finally, FINALLYYYYYYY I can start sending it out to bloggers and internet radio and all my profiles and promote it and send it to everyone everywhere and see what kind of a response it gets. And this time around, I really know what I’m doing and what I want to do and who will like it, and that makes all the difference.

For those of you who are fellow artists, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a specific vision for your music about what it is, how it will sound, and who will like it. Once you know those things, you know exactly what to do with it. For example, my music is dance-pop, which means it’s great for any event that would involve dancing or a party, which tells me what kind of venues I should play (i.e. dance clubs, not coffee houses). I know that my music is similar in its aesthetic and appeal to club music of the early 90’s and some of the current electro indie pop, so I’m going to push it to people who like that kind of stuff. Since I know which artists I’m similar to, I should go after their fans, the bloggers who blog about them, and the stations and venues that showcase their music, because they’re the ones who will most likely support my music. So now, instead of thinking about pitching one song to a comedy blog and another to a country blog etc etc etc, I know exactly who to send my music to, and I can be confident that they will probably like it, or at the very least not get mad at me for sending them something totally irrelevant to their tastes. That, in turn, gives me a lot of hope and excitement for the promotional part of my music business, which means I’ll approach it with more confidence and happiness and be more successful at it.

I’ve started compiling a list of blogs I should reach out to for when the record’s done, and I’m really excited for the results I know will come when I reach out to them and follow up continuously until I get a response!