The Self-Deprecating Musician


The other day someone I hadn’t seen in a while in the music community didn’t recognize me right away, so to be “funny”, I said, “I don’t expect anyone to remember me,” and I laughed. He immediately cringed and was visibly uncomfortable which made me think I had said something wrong. All my life I have “downplayed” myself--I always told myself it was because I didn’t want to appear to be some egotistical “artist,” as creatives are already thought of often as “full of themselves” as their work appears to be so centered on self-exploration. I also thought it was a healthy practice to “make fun” of oneself as a lighthearted way to put people at ease, but lately I have been cringing more and more at my “self-jabs.”

 Apparently, being self-deprecating has become “my thing”-so much so that it was printed in a local newspaper that, “Onstage, Brando cuts a personable figure with her taste for vintage dresses, homemade earrings and self-deprecating humor.” Seeing it in print made me wonder if my self-deprecation really WAS about putting others at ease or something more unsavory.

 I feel like having a healthy sense of humor and being able to laugh at oneself is extremely important-and I love comedians who are able to turn the humor onto themselves, but when does it become a cover up?


 As a creative person and a musician, I always had self-confidence issues that I dealt with-I dodged every compliment; not wanting people to think that I thought what I created was, “a big deal”, or that I was special in any way… but as I grew as a producing artist and was working really hard at it and wanting to be compensated for my work-as I negotiated my pay I had to ask myself, “what am I worth?”

 After two tours now, the last of which I thought I would die from exhaustion; and all the positive feedback and appreciation I have been receiving for my skills, unique songs and professionalism-I realized that what I did WAS rare, and that not everyone can do it, so why deprecate myself?

 What IS the line between being able to laugh at yourself and hiding behind a façade of not caring? It’s a line that I am continuously exploring; between not apologizing on stage, to being able to take a compliment without an aside, to reminding those other musicians that struggle with this that they have something to say that’s important, have unique skills and that it’s o.k. to be proud of it. Being proud is not being arrogant-so let’s celebrate our accomplishments and hard work!!

How do you celebrate yourself and your successes?

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More writings from Music Emerging:

A Simple Wish

Age is Just a Number: Aging in the Music Industry

Your Music’s Not Literal Enough: Story Songs vs. Poetic Songs

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Giving In is not Giving Up

I recently read a blog about a fellow singer songwriter in the Los Angeles community who passed away from cancer at a young age. Her name is Jenny Pagliaro and she belongs to a duo called, “Roses and Cigarettes.” I did not know her, but the info that she had passed away popped up on my Facebook news feed and I clicked on the link. She had been documenting her journey on a blog called “The Breast Cancer Chronicles” and I read her last blog post titled, “Giving In.” It was posted on December 10th, 2018. A little more than a year later, she was gone.

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Reclaiming and Proclaiming our Resolutions

Every year there is a buildup to the big day-the new year. There are so many expectations and stresses around the holidays, and I get freaked out more and more about the “routine” of it all-so I kind of stopped caring, which is not necessarily a good thing. I have always been the kind of person to break away from traditions; not to necessarily be a rebel, but mostly because I feel the magic and specialness around them gets forgotten.

Once again it's a new year and people are talking about their resolutions; and even though I may not always voice mine-I have them. Every year around the turn of the change over-I reflect on the year before and what I want for the next. This year the word resolution bothered me-I know what it means, but sometimes these words we throw around at parties lose their meaning and their spark-so I looked up the dictionary definition to remind myself exactly what it means.

Resolution: “A firm decision to do or not to do something.” Pretty simple, but wow-kind of scary. I had forgotten about the firm part. Whenever I make a firm decision to do something, I feel a lot of pressure-that's actually served me well on my music journey when I have given myself “resolutions” to complete a music career goal in a certain time frame. It has also given me a lot of disappointment when I didn't complete something. I still remember the stinging feeling when I was giving myself a deadline to complete a music project and was stressed out; and someone telling me “why are you so stressed out?-it's not like Capitol Records is waiting for your project to be complete.” Yes, that was true-but that should not be the deciding factor to giving myself a deadline for my goals. Resolutions are for ourselves. Having said that, it's important not to make ourselves sick over our goals. We feel really good proclaiming our resolutions-and really bad when we don't follow through. I don't know about you, but I've grown tired of the incredible highs and lows of resolutions and have been exploring a more fluid way of sticking with the tradition, but not beating myself up over it. In reaching many of my music goals, the fiery passion and excitement I have for music fueled my drive to stick with it, but it did not necessarily happen in my resolution time frame. Some of my goals took more years to complete than I imagined, but I always kept them in my mind and heart, and smiled and felt excited when I thought about them-dreaming, fantasizing, making plans of action, small steps, talking and writing about them; made my resolutions part of the fabric of my life and not separate.

Life is going to happen around our resolutions; constantly changing; fairly unpredictable and a lot of it out of our control. Though a firm statement of purpose is a wonderful launching point, we might want to “go with the flow” and see over time how our dreams and goals change as new information and opportunities present themselves.

I found this packet of inspirational quote cards for every day of the year, but the same one has been stuck on the mantle for over two years now because I love it so much. It also explains what I am talking about perfectly:


Happy New Year-You Are a Badass

I always hated the holidays. Although I have had pretty much only lucky and good ones, it reminds me of hard times growing up, guilt and loneliness. This holiday I woke up alone on Christmas morning and was sick in bed for several days-left to evaluate my life; to put it under the microscope once again.

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