Friday, 16 December 2011

Cover's night

Today was the day that I could finally use my microphone. I recorded 3 songs with it, and I have to say once more that I love it! No crappy audio, just pure sound.

I tried Kingfisher Sky's Balance of Power, Seven Kingdoms' Wolf in Sheep's Clothes and Epica's Linger. For the first two, it was nervewrecking for me. I usually sing because I feel like it, but this time I HAD to do it. So it was embarrassing for even myself. But after screwing up a couple of times and laughing about it, I started to have fun with it. I even tried The Phantom of the Opera, but forgot to save the file! =(

After trying for an hour and a half with these songs, I felt really tired. So Linger didn't come out as I was expecting, but recorded it and saved it anyway. I hope I get some more time to try other songs. Next in my list are Epica's Solitary Ground (or Chasing the Dragon), Nightwish's Cadence of her Last Breath (requested by Mark Rosera :] ) and Delain's Daylight Lucidity (or Sleepwalker's Dream). Still accepting requests or suggestions!

Let's have fun!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Challenge list

I've realized that I can't use my microphone while my parents are at home. The only time I'm at home is at nighttime, and so are my parents, and they get freaked out when we are too noisy because we live in a basement with paper-thin walls. We have had a neighbour before that used to knock on the wall whenever we were too noisy. So now my parents are paranoid (even though that neighbour is long gone!)

The only day I will have it for myself will be Friday. Then I'll have the chance to use my microphone =D So, until that day comes, I'm making a list of which songs to cover. So far, I have:

  • Kingfisher's Sky - Balance of Power
  • Seven Kingdoms - Wolf in Sheep's Clothes
  • Epica - Linger
  • Epica - Solitary Ground

Nothing else crosses my mind right now. I need help to fill this list! Any suggestions? ;-)

Friday, 2 December 2011

Sing it away...

My computer interface is finally here! I can now use my brand new professional microphone!! Not the ones that you get for $40 at Best Buy or Future Shop. This one cost me $135! Manufacturer price of $250. I'm absolutely in love with it!

I bought the microphone first because I really wanted to record myself singing some covers. Then I realized I needed an XLR cable. And THEN I realized I needed an XLR convertor to USB. So, it took me almost a month to get all together. But it took me at least 3 months to decide to buy them all. You see, with a friend of mine that lives in Washington, DC, we want to create some metal tunes, and he showed interest in my voice after I sent him some videos of me singing. And I've always dreamed of having a band. So, I am making my dream come true.

I just tested my microphone because I have been crazy busy all week long. This has been by far my busiest week of the year! So I had only had the chance to record a tiny "Hi. This is test number one" test on my computer. The sound is so crisp and clear. I am really looking forward to do this project!

If you want to check how my microphone looks like, click here. It's a AKG Perception 220 Condenser microphone. I'll be taking pictures of it by next week. When all the madness is gone!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Things I learn at work

One of the things I've lost at work is something I'll get back: Pacience. Dealing with customers everyday can be and IS a very difficult part of my job. There is no question on what irritates me the most. "Do you work here??" No, I just think this uniform, this name badge and this walkie talkie on my ear are SO stylish that I decided to go out of home like this. F*ck! Really?? Another thing I hate is when people don't even make eye contact with me, and just ask where the regular Tylenol is. Or any question, really. I find really rude when customers can't excuse themselves before asking anything. I've never in my life had talked to a person that I don't know before saying first "Excuse me...". I might work at retail, and might be offering Customer Service (or so my name tag says), but I think I deserve some respect. I am the person that is going to HELP you. Ok, I am getting paid for it, but respect is priceless. I wouldn't hesitate on refusing to give service to a person that is being an asshole to me!

So, whenever a customer starts asking something, I immediately assume is something stupid. I put an I-am-so-interested-in your-question,I'm-here-to-satisfy-your-shopping-needs face and listen to whatever may come out of their mouth.

This particular customer, however, impressed me and reminded me not all people is alike. She started by asking dumb questions about our in-store insoles machine. She didn't know how to use it. Even though it says clearly what to press (and there were only 2 buttons that you could use), when to press it and what to do. By the end of my assistance, she asked me where I was from. I guess she could tell my accent (Note aside, I hate having an accent. It makes people realize I'm not from here, I'm just a foreigner. Which is true, but I don't like when they start talking to you a bit slower, like you don't know how to speak English -even tho you've been having a normal conversation 10 minutes go). I told her I was from Peru. And she told me she wants to go there. That she was a person that has travelled a lot and that she had been to Equator before. That she wants to do the Inka Trail and asked me if I've ever done it. I told her I hadn't because I never had the time since it takes you days to complete it. But that I had been to Machu Picchu and that it was gorgeous. She asked me how I was liking Canada, and I said I like it, it is much colder for sure but that I got used to it already. And then she said something that made her stand out. She said "The people is not the same, are they? I think Canadians don't realize how lucky they are for being born in a country like this". And it was true. People in here are different. They always want "their space". They always plead that their rights are not being met, that they are being exploited, that their poverty margins are too high, etc.

This kinda reminded me of one of my first jobs in Lima. I only lasted 2 days. I was a waitress at a very busy dancing club. My shift started at 7pm and ended at 9am of the next day. I had no breaks, wasn't allowed to eat or sit down, and if I didn't sell enough beers, I had to stay extra hours at the club. If my tips exceeded S/.10 (Ten soles, which in Canadians dollars is about $4), I had to leave the 10% to my employer. And I couldn't complain. Nobody could. The rule in there was "If you don't like it, you can leave", and you could be more than certain that they would get at least three other girls asking for a job in less than a day. My first day wasn't bad. I got off at 6am, and have S/.9 from tips for me. The second day, however, was awful. I didn't make as much money as the other experienced waitresses and had to stay til 10am trying to sell more booze or food to the drunk or tired customers. My parents got worried since I couldn't use my phone at work and I wasn't home by 7:30am, so they went there to pick me up or see what was going on. I remember seeing them and trying so hard not to cry. I was so relieved they were there to save me, to take me out of that terrible place where they would only give me water to drink (without ice, since it had an extra charge). I couldn't hold my tears. Everybody saw me crying...

And that was my last day at that job. They told me I could go back next week to pick up my cheque. I never did. I only made S/.30 the shift (about CA$14), and for that amount of money I was not going to face those exploiters again -that saw me crying when my parents came to claim their daughter, nonetheless!. I have my pride, ya know?

So when this lady told me that Canadians don't appreciate what they have, I couldn't agree more. I also thought about the difference on the definition of "being poor". In here it usually means that you leave in a dirty co-op building, are a crackhead, have a dog so the Government gives you more money to support your pet, and receive a cheque that will ensure you wont die from hunger. In Peru, being poor means having to eat pasta everyday because is the cheaper you can get to feed your family of 5 (with the money you get from either begging in the streets, selling hand-made stuff or candy, washing cars, or playing musical isntruments on a bus); it means you have to wait 10 minutes before the community market closes down so you can get at least the guts of the chicken to buy and make a decent soup and get some protein in your daily diet; it means having a house in the mountain made of cardboard because a simple apartment is just impossible to afford.

And then I thought I would really, really like to show my children this part of the world. The injustice, the inequiality, the real poverty and the misery. It would teach them humility, appreciation for what they have and the people they meet. To always be nice to one another and authentically care about others. To be respectful even to people that ask you if you work here when you have a full uniform on and a name tag.

I guess I can't complain about not learning anything at work =)

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Music theory 101

Last Friday, Fiorella came to my house to teach me some music theory. I had taken Music in high school, but it was a total different system of music reading in Peru. What you usually know here as C D E F G A B C, we know it as Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do. Plus, I knew all the names for music signs in Spanish. So whenever I wanted to talk about music with any of my musician friends, it was nearly impossible to understand each other. It was very frustrating since I really love the subject. Plus, I want to understand it so I can create my own music with the help of any of my friends. Some of them say I should do something with my voice. They encourage me to sing and be in a band. And it has always been my biggest dream: to be able to perform in a stage with my band! But I can't make music if I can't understand my fellow bandmates. So I decided to start by the beginning. Music theory.

Fiorella and I spent an hour in my bedroom with my keyboard, my new music book and a notebook. Drawing notes, telling me what a whole note or a semi-note was; what is a Major scale and a Minor; what's the difference between a chromatic and a diatonic note. I learned so much in that sole hour. I was very excited when she would ask me to do something in the keyboard, and I would do it without a mistake! I genuinely learned! Learning is the best feeling in the world. I felt proud of myself.

But one hour of class wont change my life. She's coming back next Friday for some more Music Theory, and I already have homework! But she is a good teacher. Patient enough, and with all the answers to my random questions (music-related anyway).

Then I showed her how I usually learn a song to play it on the keyboard. I took the sheets from Epica's song "Linger" that I made for my own understanding, and it looked like this:

As you can see, there are no tempos, no Right or Left hand indications, nothing. The lines above or below every note tells me in which scale (or octave) the note is in the keyboard. It seems that now I'm going to have to change that. From now on, I have to write everything in my new learned system.

Oh, and how do I get the songs? I download them as Midis. I look at the piano the program has, and pause and play the song every 2 seconds to write down the notes. One song can take me from one whole day to weeks (depending on how much I procrastinate and how complicated is the song). It's a lot of work, but my laziness works in mysterious ways ;-)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Road to Perdition... for Learners

Today I went for a ride with my dad. The difference is that today I was driving. And he was on the passenger's seat. The last thing I wanted in the world was to have my dad sitting next to me in a car while I'm driving. He can get so nervous, and start yelling me directions that I am not sure I understand! I wish my instructors can tell me what to expect in the road, and how to do stuff; not just do it!

Since I don't really have another car, or a close friend with a car to help me driving on weekends or free afternoons, and I REALLY want to learn how to drive before my 1st test on July 15th, 2012; I asked my dad if he wanted to come with me to the Thrift Store to dump some old clothes that had barely been used and that I know I wont use anymore, and also told him if I could drive. He said it was alright. So after an early lunch snack (which probably my dad thought it was his last meal before having me behind the wheel) off we went to a short drive from my house in E 56th Ave @ Prince Albert St to Fraser St @ E 43th Ave. About 14 blocks away.

When we were in the car, I quickly remembered what my manual said. Check the mirrors. Adjust them. Adjust your seat. Your foot is supposed to touch the back wall of the pedals. Your seat must be slightly higher than your head. Seatbelts on. We were ready. For a second I forgot how to turn on the car. The keys, of course. You put the keys in, then turn it and the car is on. So many things to think about when you are THIS stressed! Specially since my neurotic father was right next to me.

To my surprise, he was very calm. He directed me what to do, commented on possible hazards (which is extremely helpful) and didn't freak out. He did yell sometimes when I was too much on the right, or I wasn't turning very well. My biggest challenge in driving, I think, it's knowing how big the car is, so I would get on the sidewalk as I am turning because I don't know or can't tell how far away the car is. Also, another challenge is turning the wheel. I am not yet familiarized with how much the wheel turns, so what I think it's enough it's not really, and backwards.

I hope I have more chances to practice. I am saving to buy a [used] car next February. But some friends tell me that I should wait til I can afford a new car. That it would be better for my insurance and for maintenance (getting it fixed can be VERY expensive in here!). So I am still thinking about my possibilities. What I DO know is that I don't want to ride the bus forever. So many weirdos to deal with!!!

Monday, 24 October 2011

From the creators of ElOrgasmoPerdidoII...

Hi, everybody!

Most of you already know I have had a blog from some years now, but in Spanish. I've been thinking about it and decided that from now on I'll be blogging in English as well. They wont be different subjects, just the translated version of them. I think the things I talk about in my existent blog are very general and have a honest view.

My Spanish blog,, literally translated as "the lost orgasm" was created to express my feelings and thoughts on little things about life that so many people can't think about nowadays. Those are generally the little things that make me happy, and things that wander my mind and I think it's worth sharing. Both blogs are supposed to reach a fullness, a harmony, a climax in life that I can only compare with the Elysium, in old greek mythology known as Paradise. From there its name.

Also, I was recommended to write a blog to improve my writing skills. And I figured writing in Spanish wont help much for my English lol I'll still write about the same things, but in different languages, so nobody is missing anything =)

So, enjoy and wish me the best!

~Katia L. Villa