Waiting For You (lyrics)

 

Here are the lyrics for the song, Waiting For You:

Waiting for you is the hardest thing I'll ever do

I served my mind on the platter of the best design
Carved away unrefined corners in the shade
I left the best of me
Or so I wanted to believe
But you weren't here to receive

Waiting for you is the hardest thing I'll ever do

Do you like watching how I lose my mind
Is there pleasure in my failure to survive
How could you let me be
Or are you where my eyes don't see
Where were you when I screamed

Waiting for you is the hardest thing I'll ever do...

 
 
 

Stop One: Chicago

 
 

Last week, I made a trip to Chicago to share the story behind Naked Prayers. I had been contacted a few months ago by the loveliest lady, Susan Diamond, the founder of Prayables, a multi-faith organization encouraging people of all faiths to pray together. Susan was moved by the work I was doing, and asked if she could host a few events in Chicago to spread the story. I said, sure! I had received another invitation from a TV show, called The Harvest Show, in South Bend, Indiana - so we decided to put everything together into one trip.

The first stop was an intimate release party in a little theater in the Flat Iron Arts Building.

 
 

Next, I performed some songs and shared from the book at an event in Northbrook, sponsored by a bookstore named Bookbin.

 
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Two days later, Mark and I woke up at 5am to drive form Chicago to South Bend for the TV interview. We were asked to arrive by 8:30am, and we thought we would be well on time. But at 7:30am, when I checked my phone, for some reason it said 8:30am, and Mark and I realized we had TOTALLY forgotten about the time difference between Illinois and Indiana! We freaked out and drove as fast as we could, and finally arrived at the station 8 minutes before the show began! 

Here is the interview:

 
 

And finally, I leave you with how excited I was to be at a TV station!

 
 

All images by Mark Chou Photography.

 

An Interview with the Book and Album

 

Naked Prayers, a book and album, is entering stores today. Most of you know me as a singer-songwriter, so where did this idea for a book come from? How do the book and album go together? Do you need to get both? To answer all your questions, I've sat down with my book and album for a few questions.

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Question: Alright. So tell me, what are you?

Book: (Laughs) Great question. As you can see, I'm a book. I like to describe myself as an art-book, half words and half doodles. I'm full of prayers - 85, to be exact - and I'm actually taken from real journal entries written from October 2012 to November 2013.

Album: And I'm an album. Nine songs. I go with Book.

Q: Can you tell me who came first?

Book: That would be me. The prayers existed before the songs.

Album: But I came shortly after. And most of my songs were written during that same period (2012 to 2013).

Q: What's the story behind these prayers? 

Book: Well, as I mentioned, these prayers are taken from an actual year of the author's life. It was a rough year, and I cover some dark and difficult times like depression, and anxiety. Through a journey that goes from finding, fretting, falling to finding, the author prays with a pretty darn honest voice. I like to think, though, that I end with a note of hope. While the story doesn't end in a neat little bow, there is light at the end of the struggle. I believe that.

Q: How exactly do you go together?

Book: Well, if you flip through me, you'll see these little symbols in the corner of certain pages: 

 
 

Whenever you see a symbol, there's a song that goes with the prayer. The order of the songs on the album follow the order of the prayers.

Album: The last two songs on the album, "December the Third" and "Love Will Find You", were actually written independently of the prayers, but very much in the same spirit, which is why they're a part of me.

Q: What are your favorite parts of yourselves?

Book: That's a hard one. I'm all about my doodles. I couldn't pick a favorite, though this is one I relate to all the time.

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Album: That's a very difficult question. I worked very hard on all my songs, and they each went through many, may drafts. This might not be the answer you're looking for, but I do love how much the cello and the harmonium is featured in me.

Q: What's a harmonium?

Album: This guy.

Q: Last question. Can you tell me - who exactly were you created for?

Book: I think I belong to anyone who has gone through hard times, and have struggled in those times to relate to God. I hope that I offer an example of what being honest to God - even if it's messy - looks like. 

Album: Anyone who needs to a quiet place to be still, to reflect - I want to be there for them.

Q: Thank you, Book & Album. 

 

Behind the "In Quietness" Music Video

 

When I met with the director Matthew Perkins to discuss this music video, the big question was, with our (very) limited budget, how do we tell a good story?

At first I just wanted to go the easy (boring) route and just have Matt take a video of me singing through the song. Thankfully, Matt was like, eh... So we thought harder about what story we could tell with, well, basically no money.

In Quietness is a song about finding a quiet place to communicate with God. I realized there was an inherent tension about singing this song in New York City, the least quiet city I know. So we thought, what if we just walked through the city while singing the song? As for the story, maybe the video is EXACTLY about being inspired by the hustle and bustle of New York - to find a quiet place. Drift Studios was perfect for our quiet place, with it's pristine white walls. 

So then we started filming. 

And created the music video:

 

Designing the Album art

 
 

Believe it or not, designing the physical album for Naked Prayers probably took me about a hundred hours - and that's not counting the thought and planning that went behind the photoshoot (previously on the blog). I didn't mind the time I was taking, though, because I was learning all kinds of new skills along the way: photo editing and retouching, layout and design, typeface selection... Today, I'm going to share a little about this process with you!

The first thing I had to do after the shoot was to choose a single image from all the pictures we took. Let me tell you, it's pretty odd having to compare a few hundred images of yourself looking essentially the same

 
 

I picked this one!

 
 

And then I spent a lot (A LOT!) of time playing with the image – I knew little about photo editing and retouching before this, and relied pretty heavily on Google's help. I also referenced a lot of images I liked, to try to imitate the color and feel.

 
 

Next was the inside (left) panel, the part that gives some basic information about the CD. For the first draft, I chose another image from the photoshoot, and put some text above it. I cleaned up the image. I picked colors from the image itself to use for the colors of the text. I played around with different fonts... 

 
 

But then I felt like there was no unity between this panel (above) and the cover image, so I decided to go with a different, more simple layout (below). Bye bye, 10-hours-work!

 
 

Next, I designed the back panel (with all the track names) with a similar style, and then tried a few ideas for the other inner panel (under the CD), and the CD itself. Here's how it looks together as I work on Illustrator. 

 
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But then I decided I wanted a CD image that could tell you it was a part of "Naked Prayers" on its own, so I made this.

 
 

Finally, I had all the elements, and was ready to send the PDF to the manufacturer. And there, I had my album art!

 
 

I realize most people today stream music online, and have little desire to hold a physical album. But I'm old school, and for me, I love having something to hold, to touch, to smell and to create a tactile memory. So as far as I'm concerned, the many hours of labour was well worth it, and frankly, I'm kind of looking forward to designing more albums in the future!

 

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