Performance Tips

My brother wrote me a text today from Germany where he is visiting his wife's family. "Suz, I'm playing a concert with a local band here on Sunday, can you give me some performance tips? How do you think about presence on stage? You all have it so nailed." Performance tips. Oh man. What have we learned after a dozen years of walking onto stages many many hundreds of times? Here's what I'm thinking about lately.

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David Wax
Kindergarten


One of the most frequent questions people ask us when they find out we tour with our children is, "What are you going to do when they start school?!"  They often ask it with a mixture of concern and confusion and so far I've answered with my own mixture of ambivalence and confidence, "Well, we're not sure yet. I was homeschooled so there's always that option, but we'll figure it out when we have to!"  Well, the time has come to figure it out.  

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David Wax
National Novel Writing Month

Our time at home has been incredibly fruitful for me as I continue to delve into writing my first book. I try to write primarily in the mornings. Now that we’re not working nights as often, and going to bed at a more regular hour, the mornings are when I have the most energy and focus. I take my cup of Pero (a vaguely coffee-like substance made from roasted chicory root), big black unlined journal and uniball extra fine point pen upstairs to our little writing room. It’s a sweet room under the eaves of the house that also serves as a guest room for musicians passing through town. It’s got a simple desk we bought at a second hand furniture store in Baltimore a few years ago. David wrote most of the new album on this desk, which sits in a little nook overlooking our quiet street and beyond the street, Carter’s Mountain, a neighboring mountain to Jefferson’s Monticello.

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David Wax
Thank you for the response

First of all, thank you so much for the incredible response to my last post about dealing with a relapse of manic depression. I was really overwhelmed by how many people wrote to express their support.  Despite a busy summer touring, recording and playing festivals, weddings and private house shows, we're actually trying to lay low this fall and settle into a routine at home for the first time in nearly a decade. What a relief it's been to not work nights for a season!

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David Wax
Relapse

It's been an intense few months for our family. The week before we were scheduled to return to Nashville to finish the record I realized I have been experiencing a relapse of manic depression. I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder in my twenties, took lithium for years but gradually went off the meds. For nearly a decade I was stable enough to start a band, marry an amazing man, have two kids, release several records, and tour around the world. But over the past year I've been struggling with many serious bouts of depression that I first chalked up to exhaustion from two kids and post-tour fatigue. I've also had several experiences of hypo-mania, an exciting, high-energy state, a spinning brain full of insights and deep understandings about the nature of reality and art and life, (sounds great, right?). But these episodes are always followed by a crash. Luckily I have been keeping daily journals for years so I was able to look back at the number of depressed days, and also note the highs and realize I was cycling again. 

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David Wax
The Challenges of Recording

Spending time in the recording studio has been one of, if not the most challenging parts of my life as a musician. Recording is inherently a vulnerable experience. Even with the most loving and generous producers, which we’ve been lucky enough to have, the nature of the studio is that every sound, every word, every idea is put under a microscope, judged, and either rejected or accepted. Sounds fun, right? That is the goal of making a record, after all: to create something beautiful that, especially this day and age, might last forever. It’s exhausting because each minute in the studio has a decision to make: do you run with an idea, nix it, or alter it in some hopefully awesome way.

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David Wax
An Entire Month at Home

If you don't count the two months we took off for maternity leave (which I don't), for the first time in many years we had the great gift of an entire month at home this past December. Especially with a four year old now, I wanted to savor the anticipation of Christmas, bake the cookies, practice the songs, open the doors of the Advent calendar each day and focus on the glowing candles and colored lights as the days grew darker. As someone who has a particular fondness for holiday preparations, I had been really pushing for it. Ok, maybe David would say I put my foot down. All year I'd been saying, "Let's not tour in December this year, at least before Christmas." We compromised and left on tour Dec 26. A win for all.

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David Wax
Soundtrack Project

I am so excited to share this news: I had the great fortune of working with the talented director, Ross McDermott (whose name you may remember from our Guesthouse music video), to create an original soundtrackfor his film following the life and music of a remarkable Virginia fiddler named Lovell Coleman.

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David Wax
Our Role as Artists

This past season of touring certainly had a new layer of intensity. Traveling with the two little ones stretched us to our limits at times. Working until after midnight, decompressing for a few hours, nursing a baby throughout the remaining nighttime hours and then being awoken early with a toddler was a new challenge. I felt like a marathoner must feel -- pushing yourself even when you feel like you've reached your limit. But the new dimension of the second child combined with the intense geopolitical climate we find ourselves in has provided both renewed motivation for our path as well as a whole spate of new questions.

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David Wax
A Decade of Making Music Together

Marking the 10-year Anniversary of this band has brought up incredible emotion for me. I met David at a time in my life when I was completely unsure of my path. I had just been through a tumultuous period in my mid-twenties and I only knew one thing about my future: I wanted to have my life and my family and my work intertwined. I never imagined it would look quite like this, but my fantasy of an interconnected life path is in full throttle.

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David Wax
Charlottesville

On Saturday, August 12, we were in a beautiful studio in LA recording a song about love and patience. Throughout the day, we were getting a constant stream of texts from family back home and trying to follow the news of the horrendous events taking place just down the street from our house.

Saturday was an intense day for us, trying to be present with our children, maintaining focus during a 10-hour recording session, and keeping an open heart for the music we were creating. Simultaneously we were wishing we could be holding hands with friends and family at home.

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David Wax