Friday, July 27, 2012

Nestlin' In NorCal

Once upon a time there was a little girl with a big voice and even bigger dreams....

She moved to the big bright city, following the Sinatra's New York adage "If you can make it there..." 

She thought "if I just keep working hard enough, and play every dive, someone will notice me, and I'll get discovered!"

And she thought "I'll never leave NYC until I make it!"

Playing the Chico Concert on the Creek
at Riparia Farm
You know, if I knew then what I know now...

I moved out to California this past March, and I have to say, it's been an absolute pleasure for me as an artist. I can't believe how much welcome I've received. I've met tons of really cool people and I feel like I belong in the music scene out here, especially in Chico.

I love New York. DON'T get me wrong. Love it! But I have to say, it's just not that practical for someone who wants to pursue music or art full-time, unless he or she is already loaded. I had to work more than a full-time job to support myself as a musician, which left very little time for the creative process. I was burned out, and yet I still felt like I'd be wasting my time anywhere else.

Not So! Since I moved to NorCal not so many months ago, I've been played on the radio countless times, I've performed live twice on KZFR, and I've played 3 festivals, and many invitations to play more. Do you know what it takes for an indie artist to get played on any station in NYC? I sure don't, even though I certainly tried.
In the Studio at KZFR 90.1
Chico has a small-town vibe (even though it's population is more like 100K) and everyone is very approachable. The music community is more tight-knit and supportive. There are SO many musicians in Brooklyn, it's like, "so you sing? so what?" And people actually go to concerts here! Like, even when you haven't pressured them to because they're your friends! And then they actually come up to you after the show, and tell you how much they enjoyed it! Craziness.

Anyway, not to rag on NYC too much. I do miss it. But I certainly don't miss the lifestyle. I'll be happy for my 3 week visit in September, then I'll be happy to come back to California and play more shows. Until next time, Much Love!

P.S. By the way, I totally redesigned my website, so check it out at

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Listen and Download

Check out Jess's Single.  Unlock the Player (run your mouse over it and "share") to Listen!

Friday, April 27, 2012

In my little bit o' solitude...

I'm a pretty big Joni Mitchell fan.  A while back, I read one of her many biographies:

Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell's Blue Period.  

I was struck by Mitchell's strict need for solitude.  She maintains that to be a true artist, you must be alone.  For her, this includes living alone as well as avoiding long-term romantic relationships.  During her touring years, she would alternative travel with intense creative periods of solitude.  Now, I don't claim to be the stoic and ascetic artist that Joni is, but I do get her point.

When you live in New York City, it's hard to find any alone time.  I think I went a few years without ever being alone.  With roommates, close-by neighbors, subway rides, pedestrians everywhere, it was a challenge to find any solitude, and thus, tap into my creative energy.  I treated the subway as an office for my writing time -- I was equipped with earphones and a journal, so it's kind of like being alone, right?  Hmmmm.

They say you don't know what you have until it's gone. Well, I think it works backwards as well.  You don't know what you're missing until you get it.  Last winter, after coming off a decade of non-stop sensory overload crazy energy-zapping NYC and then spending two months in a cabin in rural Northern California, I was finally able to tap into a level of creativity and concentration, that I just couldn't find in Brooklyn.  

Well, now I'm in rural NorCal on more permanent basis.  And there's solitude a-plenty.  Even so, I'm taking what I learned, and I'm moving my little studio rig out from the guest room (where my spouse can hear me), and renovating the cabin into a dream room of recording wonder!  Don't get me wrong, it's not that my husband eavesdrops on me or even cares what I'm doing in there or how much noise I'm making, but there is something about being truly alone in a space, that can free you.  Or, at least, it certainly grants me some creative liberty.  

So here are the before pictures:

I know it looks a shamble right now, but just wait!  I'll have it fixed up in no time. time for my next post hopefully ;)  

Until next time, when I have pictures of my newly renovated work-space,

Sending Creative Vibes to you,


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Far, I mean...Far East

My next album cover?

Okay, so this entry has very little to do with music – or everything to do with music, depending on how you look at it. 
I was lucky enough this past winter to travel to Thailand.  While I didn’t go there to play shows, I certainly found an abundance of inspiration everywhere I looked. Now that I’m back in the States, I’m hoping to translate some of those experiences into song.  Here are some of the highlights from the trip:

The Swimming

Luckily I was traveling with a someone who’s an even stronger swimmer than I am, so we could go for hours of epic swim adventures  

We swam around Ao Nang Tower, 

Ao Nang Tower
Stallactites off of Railay Beach

and under these stallactites

                                                        And into Caves.

Amazing swim-through cave in Southern Thailand

The Sights

Limestone islands jutting out of the ocean.

Crazy Cave formations.

The Animals

I swam with an elephant!
I partied with monkeys!

The Sunsets

Pictures can’t capture the beauty, but you get the idea…

Sunset in Ao Nang before the storm

The Food

These are the shizz.  They are fried coconut milk and rice balls:

The City

Bangkok was unreal!  So huge and so many people.  This city makes New York feel like a ghost town.

Chinatown, Bangkok

Fun with camera settings!

This was a life changing experience.  And nothing gets the creative juices flowing like getting out into the world. What a beautiful earth we have!  If you want to know anything about traveling in Thailand, please leave me a comment.  I was there for almost 6 weeks, long enough to get a solid grip on getting around.

Until next time,

Jess Braun

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I am on a (not so) lonely road and I'm travelin travelin traveling....

In London, by myself, gave me
some time to wander along
the Thames.
It's been quite a while since I posted....I realize it's no excuse, but I've been busy as a honey bee, movin', shakin', and trottin'.  

At Haufbrauhaus on my Birthday!
At a tea house in Granada, Spain.

My last entry took place in France, and that was before I went back to London for a gig, then met up with my girl Nora in Spain, then met up with my other girl Emily in Germany, then we went to Hungary, Czech Republic, back to Germany, and on to the Netherlands.  (I got back to the states and collapsed.)  

That's us in the Chicago Bean.
November and December seemed to fly by as holiday seasons tend to do.  I made it to L.A. to visit with my fiance, Michael, and his family (yes, that's right....we engaged each other) then to Indiana to visit with my family, and up to Chicago with my parents.  

In January, Michael and I lived in the cabin on the Sovereign (his Dad's land in NorCal.)  I spent the month playing guitar and swimming every other day.  Good times, and beautiful.

Crazy Clouds at Sovereign

Sunset at the Sovereign

Michael + Wood burning stove

The Moon and Me.

Then began the TOUR:   In February, Michael and I went BACK to NYC so he could teach some swimming, and so I could play some shows!  To kick off my cross-country tour, I performed my first solo acoustic show at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn.  (Thanks you friends for coming and clapping ;)

Stranded at the hotel
with strep throat.
I played my second solo acoustic show a few days later at Piano's.  Woo hoo! Gettin' the hang of it now.  The next location on the tour was Missouri, but I got strep throat, and couldn't get out of bed;(  

The third stop on the tour was MUCH better, and so was I.  I had never been to Austin, so it was a treat to just hang out there, let alone play a show.  I got to see my friends from college, Chris Guerin and Molly Wallace!  

The fourth stop, was Eaton, Ohio at Taffy's.  Fantastic spot, and my huge awesome family came out for the show.  I'm a coastal gal, so who knew I'd have such support in the midwest. Go Brauns!  

I finally made it back to California, found an apartment in Chico, moved in, and set up my studio in the walk-in closet.  I'll be here for the next 5 months, before getting back on the road.  

And that was my life for the last 5 months.  I'll try to keep it shorter and fewer between on the next go-round.

Much Love,


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bon Voyage New York, Howdy UK!

Obligatory Abbey Road shot (with Mom's thumb in the way)
It's a rainy day in Puycasquier, France, and I must admit I'm quite glad, because it gives me a chance to abstain from sightseeing and walking-about and to reflect a bit on what's happened so far...

Quite a whirlwind since the record-release show, since I boarded a plane to London two days after.  Got to stay in North Hampstead in London with my parents at the Wallin household.  The first couple of days consisted of heavy sight-seeing -- the Big Bus Tour, London Tower, Jack-the-Ripper walking tour in the pouring rain, Hyde Park, the ferry ride down the Thames, the obligatory fish 'n chips, and Several Old Speckled Hens (my fav).  I even managed to drop the folks off at Buckingham palace while I took a meeting with a London music manager, who gave me some solid advice, and has helped me out with booking a few shows here.

Our hostess, Loretta, was so welcoming and gracious that after two days of aggressive sight-seeing, we all crashed out at her house and nursed our fatigue.

Me asleep in the bus station at Waterloo
after missing the 7am bus (shocking!)

The day of travel northward was about as nightmarish as a day of travel can be.  Missed the 7am bus (of course!!!), only to see my newborn cousin for 10 minutes, rushed to get back to the train station only to miss the train as well!!!  Got lost in Leicester trying to find the bus station, squelched a small panic attack, but finally booked an expensive and LONG train + bus route up to Berwick via NewCastle.  However, made the final destination (13 hours of travel later) to the BEST tasting dinner ever!  Fresh whole seabass, home-made bread, and courgettes (the English version of zucchini) and multiple glasses of red wine.  Aahhhhhh.....

Outside the Old Vicarage B & B, admiring the
free range eggs.

Spent the next four days visiting Berwick-upon-Tweed, where my grandmother grew up, and where her brother (my great-Uncle Bob) and his wife Nancy still live.  This town is on the boarder of England and Scotland and has changed hands somewhere in the realm of 13 times.

This is where my ancestors were from....what?!?!
 Of course there was no internet in the B & B, so I felt completely disconnected from the reality I'm accostomed to, and became more entrenched in the reality my Granny must have been accostomed to.  The village was  breathtakingly seaside and war-ridden, the weather severe, and the people hardy.  Some of the best seafood I've ever had as well. 

From there, took a short train to Edinburgh, where sadly I could only spend one day.  Hiked up the Mound to Edinburgh Castle to get a grand vista of the old and new sides of town.  I'll have to go back -- everyone was incredibly friendly and humorous.

View from my Cousin Stewart's
house in Puycasquier, France.
Another day of flight brought me to my cousin's house, near Toulouse, and here I am!  Have spent the past few days relaxing in the countryside, and visiting small villages, and of course gorging on cheese and local wine. :)  Next week will head back to London for some shows!  (of course I've left out a ton, but too much to write!) 

Until then,


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Week 9: The Continuum

I'm taking a voyage.

I've quit my job in NYC, and following my album release, I'll be boarding a plan to London.  Two months of adventuring abroad, then to Northern California.

Once my trip is over, I'll be continuing my voyage towards a sustainable music career.  And after completing this blogging challenge, I have an idea about what kind of effort that takes.

It's strange -- although I've been performing in New York City for years, I feel like my career is still in its early stages.  I'm really just starting out.  I have my first product available for sale this month!  I'm having my first solo show in two weeks.  My mailing list is still relatively small, and I've only been at this online promotion thing for a couple of months.  Following the steps in MSi9W has definitely opened my eyes to all of the legwork that I still need to do.  I've laid a lot of groundwork, but the process will need to continue for some time if I want to see any success.

Me at GaluminumFoil Studio, recording with Dead Copycats   

In order to form any kind of continuum program, like the ones mentioned in the last chapter of Music Success, I'll need to build my fan base quite a bit.  This is the challenge for me at this stage, and I'll need to focus most of my energy here.  I'd really like to participate in a crowd-funding campaign since that's where I see the music business heading.  Once in California, time will be less of a luxury, and I'd like to use that precious resource to pursue crowd-funding to support my next album, possibly even a tour.  In exchange for financial support, I would grant a membership for lots of free downloads, access to rough mixes, access to videos of the recording process, even voting on which songs to include in the new album.  The campaign would serve as a continuum program because the people who participate would be acting as "producers" of the album, and would have a stake in it.

Over the next couple of weeks, post-blog-challenge, I'll be busy rehearsing for my record release show.  I'm planning on posting the entire album for sale, but I'd also really like to partner with a charity for one of the singles.  I recorded a song "Blue Muse", an ode to my favorite element, that I'd like to sell as a single, with the understanding that I'd give money to that charity. I was a collegiate swimmer and continue to be somewhat of a mermaid, so I think I'd like to support some kind of organization that teaches water safety to city youth, or perhaps an organization for cleaner waterways and drinkable water. I definitely need to do more research.

The Album Cover!!!!  waveside

I can't write my last entry of the contest without looking back over the weeks and seeing the progress. I have a ton of ideas, and even better, I feel motivated and connected.  Overall this challenge has given me a strong sense of empowerment.  I've always known what I wanted to do, but in an industry where 15-year-olds sell the most albums, how the hell do I make a living?  Knowing the concrete steps I can take to make my career sustainable is an invaluable gift.  I'm only beginning my voyage, but now I have a trajectory.

Until next time,

Jess Braun: Soulful Dream Rock Songstress:
Neko Case meets Cat Power meets Florence and the Machine