Finding Myself Again at Sundance Film Festival <3

I am currently in sunny Florida in a Barnes and Nobles, tapping out this blog on my much adored gold MacBook. I am so happy to be in the Sunshine state right now, especially since my beloved home state NY is still pretty cold. But I am not writing about palm trees and blue oceans today, I am actually writing about my time in snowy Utah! And in order to do so, I am reading my journal – I’ve flipped back to the January section for this year. The beauty of journaling, I can time travel to any part of my life and almost relive it – magic!

Every year I write a long To Do list of the things I really want to accomplish or experience for the new year. For some reason, The Sundance Film Festival had been calling my name for the past few years. I don’t know why exactly, but maybe it has to do with one of my dreams being to place one (or more!) of my songs into a film. Or maybe it’s one of those things that pop into your head for some reason or another that you maybe shouldn’t ignore, especially if it’s pretty persistent. Sometimes these things may lead you to your hearts desire, or it could just be something you need to experience to get further towards it. Or maybe I don’t really know what I’m talking about but just wanted to go to Sundance, haha!

As I was writing my 2017 To Do list in late late 2016, I realized that I’d yet again failed to go to Sundance, and I yet again would be adding it to my list. So I decided to deal with it right then and there and went on the Sundance website. I realized that the reason I haven’t gone is probably because it falls in January annually, and by the time I’m usually done writing my annual lists it’s too late to plan any trip with such short notice! I knew that if I were going to go this year I’d have to act fast, even if it wouldn’t be the most practical way of planning a trip out – especially for something like Sundance which I later learned people plan a half a year in advance, to attend! But I think I may have had some help from the Angels!

When I released my “Little Angel” lyric video, someone named Danny who I knew as a teen wrote me a message. He said that he could picture my songs in movies, and that he had volunteered at Sundance for several years. As I planned my trip, I remembered the message he had written me. So I reached out to him. It turned out that he hadn’t been planning to go, but he did happen to have a business trip scheduled in Utah during that time, so therefore he’d decided to attend. I was able to ask him many questions on how to navigate the complicated website and festival. But as I kept researching and trying to plan the trip, I realized more and more how difficult it would be to plan a good trip on such short notice, where I could make the most of the festival. I was tempted to trash the idea a few times, but each time I’d get a new message from Danny, encouraging me (and Joseph) to go. So when he helped us get a place to stay (hotels were now over $2000/night at this point for a standard Marriott room), I knew I was getting help and a gentle push to go! It turns out Danny was able to get a suite in a neighboring town to the fest, with and extra bedroom plus bathroom. And he kindly let us stay there with him for no charge. Thank you, Danny!

It was a great experience to watch these beautiful films. They seemed to be created for the sake of art, and not for the sake of trying to be popular. I’ve always valued that sort of art. Or for the case of documentaries, to get an important message across. And those did deliver, filling the crowd with inspiration. One particularly great moment was when we were watching Al Gore’s documentary on climate change, and he came out after the film was over! Everyone including myself was ecstatic he was there in person!

I was able to attend the ASCAP Music Cafe, where I saw Clare Bowen, from the TV show Nashville, sing. I didn’t get the memo that you were supposed to line up way in advance to get seats, so was squished to the side with lots of people, standing. But a lady who’d seen me the day before recognized me and came over to me, asking if I’d like to hold a place in the front row for her sister in law until she got there. Sure!! What perfect timing because it was during Clare Bowen’s set! So I was able to see my favorite act from 3 feet away, lovely! She didn’t sing her typical Nashville repertoire, but songs she wrote herself that she was promoting as a solo artist. A style of music I happen to adore because it’s the kind I write and sing, too 🙂

There was also an artist named Nakhane Toure, who was beyond excellent, oh my goodness! He sang and played a whole set, and he also was the main character in a film called “The Wound”, which I didn’t get to see. He is one of those performers you watch and are entranced by, because you know they are doing exactly what they were put on this earth to do. He was definitely fulfilling his purpose up there, on the stage.

Afterwards, Danny asked me how I’d liked the cafe and if the musicians were good. I said yes, they were excellent. He referred to when I used to be on stage all the time singing, because that’s the person he knew me as back then. We reminisced about those times. I told him about one time back then where I was about to get on stage, and I was freaking out from nerves. And he got a strange look on his face and looked at me and said, “Kiyomi, I’ve never seen you nervous”. So frankly and matter-of-fact. It took me aback. And it struck a huge chord in me. I’d forgotten how I used to be. I used to fearlessly get up on stage and sing in front of anyone, and any number of people. And Danny had known me at that point in my life. And I realized that that person is still inside of me. If I could do that back then, then I can probably do that now.

So all in all, Sundance was a great experience. It surely was not a relaxing time, but I was able to enjoy great art, be truly inspired, and go back to who I used to be, and learn that I am still Kiyomi, and I may still have that confident, fearless performer in me still. I mean, I have proof, don’t I? After all, Danny gave me that proof! And if there’s proof, then it’s real. And if it’s real in me, then I can bring it out again. I will bring it out again. And maybe I was so moved by Nakhane Toure because I knew he’s fulfilling his calling doing what he’s doing. Maybe I recognize that because that’s what I want to be doing. And maybe my calling may be different from what it was back when Danny knew me. Maybe I found myself at a film festival because I want my songs to be in a film now, though I still do love performing. But in the end it’s all about the music for me, and it always has been. So a big thank you to all who are trying to create out there, all who are trying to fulfill their purpose. All of your work is not unnoticed and is inspiring someone! And that’s what matters.

Song Portrait: Blue Eyes (Plus a Lyric Video for it!!)

“Blue Eyes”, track #9 on my album, how did this song come about?

Well, there is that funky chord my music professor at the time gave me, and for homework he told me to write a song that involved it.

And there is that blue eyed guy I met at a wedding – I sang a song during it, he noticed me, and later he was dancing, and I noticed him. And then we got married.

But I’m skipping a few details here, just a few.

A psychic once told me that I would meet my next love interest at the end of a calendar year. He would be of average height and build, and he wore nice clothes (“grown up” clothes, was my interpretation!) to work. She said she just saw us dancing away, and that he had blue eyes.

When my friend invited me to her wedding in December, and I was dancing with a blue eyed guy during it, I didn’t think anything of it. I guess I couldn’t really tell if his eyes were blue because he was too shy to talk to me.

But a couple of months later when the same friend invited me back to her town to hang out, we met up with the blue eyed guy and it was then that I was able to get to know him. We had a lot of fun hanging out, and this time he was not too shy to talk to me. I learned that yes he is shy, but when he starts talking, particularly about a single thing that may peak his interest at the moment, he can keep talking!

I ended up in his car on the way to a comedy show, and talk about what peaked his interest at that moment, he did. He talked about how he had a cold and about his Comtrex (cold medicine)! And oh my god, he even SHOWED ME THE BOX!! And I thought wow, this is NOT the typical smooth talking guy 😀 And THIS is what drew me, how funny is that? This is when I knew there was something about him. It was that he seemed to truly care about me as a breathing human being, not because I sang nice or he liked the way I looked. And ultimately, I felt safe.

And the next day after we’d all crashed at my friend’s house, after the sun came up – that’s when I noticed his eyes were very blue. And I thought, oh my god, and I kind of knew.

We started a long distance relationship because I was in New York, and he was in North Carolina. I was in school at the time for Studio Composition. My professor David Gluck, during my private lesson, was fiddling around on the piano and played a really funky chord. We both stopped and thought, that’s a really cool chord. So his eyes lit up and he said that my assignment would be to write a song based on that chord.

As I was sitting in my room by my keyboard, trying to come up with a song, I started thinking of the blue eyed guy I was seeing once a month or so. And I started to get kind of scared. One of those fears that comes up when you know you may be starting something that will give you a glimpse into what a large part of your life may look like. One of those fears that comes up because you know you may be on the path that your heart may really get involved in. And when your heart gets involved, then that’s being vulnerable. And being vulnerable means you could get really hurt. And possibly getting hurt is icky, so sometimes it’s easier to run away before you can.

So I started to get scared and started thinking of all the what if scenarios, until my mind just kept going in circles and I made myself a little crazy. So I did what was best for me during times like these – I sat at my piano and started singing. And the melody and chords came out. And I started thinking that feeling, FEELING, is so much better that tucking your heart away out of fear, letting it collect dust. Being scared, and feeling tearful, living in a world of color is so much better than living in a gray world. Even if it’s putting yourself out there. And I realized that if I was going to put myself out there, then he was the right one to do it with. Because there was just something in his blue eyes that told me it was alright.

And the song was born 🙂

And finally I recorded a Lyric video for it, but to make it more interesting, I decided to record just the vocals live, so it would be different from the recording. The blue eyed guy helped me make it. And fyi, he does wear grown up clothes to work, (while my work style is still bohemian, though I’m technically a grown up now, and have been for a while :)). And if you go back into my journal entry from way back then, you’ll see a part of the Comtrex box taped into it. He might have found it odd back then, when I asked if I could have the box, or at least just a piece of it, but I think he gets it now 😉 And hey, it’s a special box with magical powers, it’s what drew me to mr blue eyes, otherwise known as Joseph 😉

So here it is, and I hope you like it <3 And share and like it if you do, after all, that’s the only way to get art out there into the world these days. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day for me, I appreciate it more than you know <3

Click here to download “Blue Eyes” mp3

Blue Eyes

At times when I’m sitting by myself like now
I start to feel a little scared, a little teary-eyed, unsure
My mind starts to run in circles and I start to wonder why
Why so suddenly my fears my tears my dear, what is the reason?

But then I find I have to question a contemplating mind
What would a world be without some fears, some tears, and my dear
A dusty heart trying to keep beating in a gray world, it’d be
All of this going on inside me’s got me going kinda crazy

But there’s something in your blues eyes, something in your blue eyes
I couldn’t run away if I tried, somehow I know that it’s alright
Cuz there’s something in your blue eyes, in your blue eyes

So when I’m sitting here by myself like now
And I start to feel a little scared, a little teary-eyed, unsure
I know it in my heart I feel this all because I care
Now in this world with no reason can you stop a heart from feeling?