See the Contrast…?

I often find myself struggling. Actually, who the hell am I bullshitting. I am constantly struggling.

I was born creative, an artist – so yes, I am fucking emotional and extremely sensitive. I am also a very grounded Taurus, so I’m not the erratic or dramatic types. I don’t cry for nothing, am ridiculously understanding and tolerant and patient. To the point where it drives me mad. See the contrast?

I love being a bull for the insane strength that it’s given me – emotionally and mentally. But when it comes to heart matters, I’m the biggest loser there is. See the contrast?

I feel so deeply and connect so quickly with people – even strangers. I am moved and touched and hurt and offended. I take everything too personally. I take things to heart. I feel enough pain of my own, I don’t know why I need feel other people’s pain! I can’t separate myself from them. See the contrast?

I love my country and it’s people as much as I have no faith in them – they make my otherwise positive outlook on life, rather grim and negative. See the contrast?

I am patient but I want it now.

I am surrounded by people but lonely.

I am constantly grateful but somehow still unhappy.

Something’s always missing. And I’m running out of ideas. How do I fill the hole? Does it ever get filled?

I wish I was emotionally cold and dead. No feelings. No love. Just a ‘whatever’ attitude. I want not to feel. I want not to give a fuck. But I can’t, because I do feel, I do care and I do give a fuck about everything and everyone, all the time. See the contrast?

Dec, 2016.

Your Expectations…

I don’t talk much,
Not about the past anymore,
Not about how X hurt me, or that I went through Y,
I don’t speak of all the pain, struggle, the number of times I have wanted to end my life, end it all for good,
But that doesn’t mean I’m over it,
That doesn’t mean I don’t feel,
That doesn’t mean I don’t know your pain,
That doesn’t mean anything.
Stop your mind from jumping to conclusions,
Stop your ego from judging me.
My story is mine, I will share it if I need to,
And I’d only need to, to help lighten your load.
I don’t need it to hold grudges or blame,
To whine or stay stuck in a moment long gone.
I don’t need to prove the tons of things I’ve gone through,
I don’t need your sympathy,
I won’t explain myself for your egos satisfaction.
Free me from your expectations,
Because I won’t, I absolutely won’t live up to them.
– Ramona Arena, 3rd September, 2018.

Open Up

Rules are meant to be rewritten

Theories are meant to be challenged

Conclusions are meant to be incomplete

Cuz the finite ain’t finite

And things ain’t what they seem.

 

Questions aren’t meant to be answered

Discovery is meant to be on-going

Seeking is to be an eternal quest

Cuz the finite ain’t finite

And we manifest that of which we dream.

 

It’s round, it’s square,

It’s here, but it’s also there

The dress is blue and the dress is green

Screw your illusions, I see the real deal

But the finite ain’t finite

You’re beyond all you staunchly believe.

 

Yeah the finite ain’t finite

Look beyond all that you perceive.

 

– Ramona Arena 2016.

Shatter

I live in a world

Of depressed souls

Where everyone seeks

And no one knows.

Questions never answered

Feed the hollow within.

Is there any point to morality?

May as well indulge in sin.

Why am I alive

When I don’t want to be?

Why introduce me to hope?

Have me tormented on repeat?

Is there any more truth

In a canine’s eyes

Than the broken soul

That hides behind smiles.

-Ramona Arena 2015.

Record Labels and Artists. 360 Deals – Yes or No?

Well, to me the term 360, just seems like the perfect way of describing a cycle that seems to be never ending in the music business – it’s symbolic of a circle, where one needs the other, needs the other and so on.

I don’t think the artist really has a 100% fair deal, don’t know if he / she ever has had one, since recording contracts came into existence. But then again, perhaps it’s not about that. To be fair, it is a business; it is an industry. This is a hard truth I’ve genuinely come to realise and accept, over time.
It’s not purely about creating for creativity’s sake. It’s about evolution. And evolution of the music industry in todays world, almost demands that you build yourself up as a brand. And many artists do this, without really caring about the music as deeply, intensely and emotionally as others, because they realise it is – a business. One that gets them their 15 seconds.

We choose, if as artists, we want to remain pure and true to ourselves, to our gift of music, or if we want to be commercial sellouts (not judging here), which also includes being gimmicky and doing certain things to get attention (eg. dress retardedly or not dressing at all etc etc etc). Thereby, getting more eyeballs, therefore more money.

Somewhere along the way, with things expanding beyond the licensing and distribution of recordings, a level of (for lack of a better word) absurdity has creeped in, around something so pure and simple. To me, this is the real tragedy.
Where did the ‘music’ go in all of this? Weren’t we here for the ‘music’ to begin with? Haven’t the greats from Mozart to Lennon, proved to us that music is meant to be eternal and not just something that grabs your attention for a second? Must there always be collaborations to make average songs become big hits? Must there always be a charade? Must every concert focus more on dancers, acrobats, costumes, lighting and visuals over the music? Don’t get me wrong – who doesn’t love a great show that stimulates all the senses? I love it all and genuinely respect & appreciate all the work and effort it takes, to create such a grand production. But that’s just it. It’s lost the term musical concert and turned into a production, an event.

Perhaps it’s just a case of evolution – a fast paced world with ever shorter attention spans. Things getting bigger and louder to accommodate a world where everyone has access to everything at a click and so everyone is screaming for attention.
That said. Everyone has got to make money and everyone has got to earn a living. Labels and artists. There’s be no labels without artists. And artists cannot really get themselves the kind of reach and sales they need internationally, without a label behind them.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to choice right? So the question to me eventually is – pros and cons aside, what kind of artist do you want to be? Do you want to be a starving/struggling/independent artist or one that’s willing to join the circus? Cuz let’s not kid ourselves and live in an ideal Utopic world. Or the one of the yesteryear’s. This is todays emerging, developing, real and really superficial world. And if you are willing to take that plunge; like anything in life, you have to deal with the advantages and disadvantages. You have to compromise – like you do in every relationship.

Remember – it’s your choice. As an adult. You choose to sign or not. To compromise – either on the music or the lifestyle. But the choice is yours. One you are responsible for, one you have to deal with for the rest of your life so think long and hard.

If you chose to pursue music professionally, go ahead and negotiate the best that you possibly can to get a deal that suits you. But remember it’s a business, so be ready to accept that it’ll work out a bit more in the labels favour, over yours – at least initially. It sucks, but from a business point of view, I can understand it.
And as an artist, if any label offered me a 360 deal – I’d take it (with a kickass lawyer by my side – one I’d pay for with my ‘personal expenses’ from my ‘advance’. Ha.)
Written by me, Ramona Arena, for an assignment in the Music Business Class, via Berklee Online. Also, would just like to say I speak in general terms, there are always exceptions and successful artists making beautiful music for the love of it.

Exploring Self Worth…

Sitting at the airport for a few hours the other day, I was consumed with one prevailing thought. Everyone seems to be trying to be someone. You have the business suits, the cool teens, the frequent fliers, the first timers, the couples, the families, the backpackers. Some people dress nice but look so depleted, so sad and forlorn. And that got me thinking about what they really think of themselves vis a vis what they want to be seen as.

The concept of being born for something. A reason. A purpose. To make a difference.

Does there always have to be a reason for it? What about being born to just be?

People talk about making a difference to the world, adding value to it. They say you are born for greatness. To accomplish. To help. To make something of yourself.

What if all of this was nothing but a bunch of lies, possibly invented to comfort someone. Only somewhere along the line, it has now become a universally accepted belief; one that does nothing but put an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure on each of us to ‘achieve’ something. A thing that will justify one’s very purpose of existence!

What if all one ever wants to do is live a life full of peaceful existence? Away from the crowds? What if all that matters most to someone is to love someone – child or partner or… Does this make one less worthy? Less significant? Less deserving? Must the stamp always be on a sheet of paper, that can be framed on a wall, hopefully preserved by generations that follow, as evidence of purposeful existence?

I almost find it alarming that almost everyone on this planet is expected to have dreams – dreams of things they want to achieve. Why should they?

What if one’s dream is to never become a parent? Or what if one’s dream is to be the most supportive, eternally loving and understanding spouse to their partner? Why does that automatically raise eyebrows or make people assume that this person is weird, submissive, spineless? Is it not an ‘accomplishment’ to love? To love for loves’ sake? No boundaries. No motives, no hidden agendas, no divisions. To just be the greatest giver of love (without intending to be)?

Why must we be ambitious about goals and materialistic things? I may be perfectly happy living my life without fighting for things and attention, reducing this constant need to struggle, to push, to compete; in order to be or have something deemed fit by society. Does that make me a loser?

We seem to have forgotten a most essential thing to our core – we are not defined by things we have/got/made/accomplished. Or in today’s world, by how many likes or followers we have. We are defined by who we are.
So really, who are you?

-Ramona Arena 2015.

Dear Intimacy…

Dear Intimacy,
I heard your name in casual conversation,
So I thought I’d take that step of initiation,
Cuz it’s been a while since we met.

In fact, if I may be honest,
I’ve forgotten what you look like.
Or is it what you feel like?

Do you remember me?
Can you tell me what the colour of my hair was?
Perhaps my favourite song?

I wonder how time shot past
Yet stood deadly still for so long!
I didn’t realise how the absence of you
Had filled up the emptiness,
With the guise of being independent & strong.

Catching your eye,
Holding onto your hand for a few seconds longer whilst being introduced.

A heavy smile laden with a million questions,
On a head that’s light as helium,
Forcing all logic to be irrelevant,
Unnecessary even to ones well being.

Defence mechanisms at an all time low
As oxytocin whips the pulse to race at a deadly pace.

We should meet again soon.
I’d like that very much.
Everything can be said and healed,
When comprehension rests on touch.

-Ramona Arena 2014.