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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Shop & Support Moms - Annie Bacon - Musical Love

I am so pleased to feature the wonderful, beautiful and very talented Annie Bacon on the blog this month, as one last part of our Shop & Support Moms series! She is a hard working musician and strong momma, who dedicates her life to not only carrying out her passion of music, but also helping others feel inspired and being a dedicated mom in the process! I admire her courage to set out for her dreams and to create beautiful things in this world. 

She is offering a discount (for shipments after Christmas - see code below) for her music and products! Please check it out and support this awesome mom! These would make great baby shower gifts or for other events coming up in the New Year.

Thank you, Annie!

Images shared from Annie Bacon

1. How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business with music?
Though I’ve been making music in some form most of my life, it was about 7 years ago that I started out on my more serious path. It’s hard to describe why. I never thought this would be my path, but then all of a sudden it became so clear. It has taken quite a bit of time to build it up, and as you know there isn’t much money in making original music these days so I’ve shored up the work with other work at different times through the years. But last June I quit my day job and have been plugging away at it day and night. 
2. Why was working in the music industry important for you and your family?
We live in an era that doesn’t have much respect for the importance of the arts. Art and music programs are the first to be cut from schools (many schools out here in California only have those programs offered afterschool). The National Endowment for the Arts has a narrow and outdated definition of how the arts should be supported. And overall the Arts are not seen as a valid way of life, but as a hobby. 

In my opinion, music is as essential to our existence as breathing. We don't think of it that way, but music (and other arts) bring balance to the pounding weight of violence and tragedy. Music can be a refuge from tragedy, or it can describe the tragedies in ways that breed - not numb - our empathy and keeps us close to one another instead of alienated.

As such, I feel like me working in the music industry is an important modeling of a creative, arts-based career. It helps to build a sense of music being a valid way of life. It also feeds my soul, and it is MY path. 

What can be better than a parent showing their child how to live their dreams?

3. What does your business specialize in? What's your favorite product? How'd you come up with the name?
We specialize in “sweet rock,” which is music that makes you think and feel while also bearing a soothing edge. Our favorite product is the music we make! Most recently we put out an EP (which is shorter than a standard album) called Stranded Songs, named such because it is a compilation of ukulele-based songs that never fit on any of my other recordings because they’re so different.
4. What do you love best about working for yourself?
Music is my boss now! Everything I do is towards the fulfillment of my highest purpose and goals. Also, I never have to worry about whether it’s okay to keep the kiddo home when he’s on that edge of feeling not great but not horrible. And there’s so much more time for me to go on tour and travel around making music because I’m not limited by how many vacation days I’m allowed.

5. When working, When do you work in the day/evening? What's your process for working? Things you do daily, a routine?
Both. I tend to do more of the business work in the daytime and the creative work at night. I currently have childcare 3 days a week, so those days I focus and work as hard as I can as long as I can. And then 3-4 nights a week I’m working as well after the little one goes to sleep. I thrive in structured chaos, so I have loose structures and routines in which I give myself lots of flexibility. And sometimes – to keep the creativity flowing – I break the routine completely and just sit on a hill with a book of poetry and take deep breaths.
6. Take me step by step through what you typically do in a day with your work.
7a – 4 year old wakes me up with an armful of stuffed animals, shoving them into my arms and neck and asking me which one I want to snuggle with. I grumble and moan.
7:30a – finally get up exhausted and spend 15 mins checking in on my phone, followed by breakfast and increasingly frantic calls for 4-year old to quit playing, take his underwear off his head and brush his teeth.
8:30a – school drop off
9a – reflect on the previous week, set goals and priorities for the week ahead and mark down metrics of growth.
10a – 2p respond to emails, work on projects (which might include researching or writing grants, uploading music for licensing agencies, logistics for upcoming tour or travel, writing general partnership agreements, registering albums with the US Copyright, or planning upcoming workshops, etc)
2p-3:57p – work on skills development – voice or instrument lessons, songwriting, critical listening to music etc
4p-8p – back in Mommy mode through playtime, playground, dinner and bedtime
8p-11p – practice or write music, or band practice, or play shows, or attend shows
Midnight – bedtime
7. What was your purpose in creating this song and video, including all the various people in it?
The song is ultimately about pregnancy – which is when I wrote it – and that whole insane feeling of “Whaaaaaat?? There’s a human inside me and it is half me and half of my love????” It was such a personal feeling, and yet it is maybe the most common thing in existence – that we grow our young inside of us. 

For the video I wanted to show both the exasperated awe I felt and the faces of motherhood more broadly. The people in the video are all my friends (except one family who we stopped randomly on the street cause they were so sweet), and when I watch the video I am awash in love for them all. The represent so many different faces and phases of motherhood – some with tiny babies and the oldest is a fully-grown adult. 

I wanted to create a portrait of motherhood as I see it in my community as a representation of motherhood universally. So commonplace that we hardly remember to look at the miracle of it any more. 

I also want to note that the woman I am posed with towards the end is not my actual mother. I wanted her to be in the video with me because she has been like a mother to me out here in California, and alongside my incredible actual mother, she has helped me grow and thrive through so many of life’s heartbreaks. This was my personal way to honor (because there’s no way to know it just by seeing the video) the fact that pregnancy and birth are not necessarily prerequisites to motherhood.
8. Why do you think people should support moms like you working in the music industry supporting families?
Because just like all mothers – we are working! A lot of people don’t think of being a musician as work, but especially at the indie level where DIY (Do It Yourself) should actually be DEY (Do Everything Yourself), it is a bonafide boatload of work, with the purpose of both supporting my family and contributing in a meaningful way to human existence.

9. What are your items to sell in your shop?
We have a ton of music in our shop as well as tshirts, though those are only in adult sizes. If you want to buy here’s what I recommend: The Folk Opera, a full length album available as vinyl or CD, for the musicals-loving person; light to see dark, a full length album available as CD, for the rock n roll lover; Stranded Songs, a 6-song EP, for the more folk, acoustic loving listener. The tshirts are soft and feel sooooo good to wear. There are also lots of options for downloading all this music.
*For those reading this blog, there’s a special coupon code (MOMMYSTORIES) that you can use in my online store (physical products only) that will give you 25% off your order!! *Note: Items purchased now will be sent AFTER Christmas*
10. How does your business allow you to be a great mother?
It lets me feel like I don’t have to choose between my kid and my career! I get to do both! I love it so much. When the two are not in competition with one another I am a happy mama. Happy mama, happy house ;)
11. What do you think would surprise readers to know about you?
Hmmm, there are many surprising things about me that are not music related (I’m a huge football fan, and once built a motorcycle) … but musically I think people might be surprised to know that I am not interested in being famous. I want my work to be famous. I want it to reach the maximum number of people so that it can be part of how we understand ourselves and each other.
12. What is the coolest thing you've ever experienced as part of working with this business?
A few years ago I came across an article that was an intellectual/philosophical dissection of “Death in Folk Opera” citing my Folk Opera alongside the two best known contemporary folk operas (Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown and The Decemberists’  The Hazards of Love). Not only was it a high compliment to be in this company, but it was also exactly what I hope for my work as I said above: that it MEAN something and contribute to how humans understand themselves and each other.
13. What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays?
I love to give homemade gifts for the holidays when I have time/energy to do so. Photo books for grandparents are the best. One year my little one did a series of paintings on small canvases for our friends/family for the holidays – I gently guided him, and set the color scheme by only setting out certain colors – and people loved them.
14. How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them.

One kid. His name describes him so well: Dash. He’s quick, small, and very charming.

Annie Bacon
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