Ask Jolie Holland

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Dear Jolie,

How do I deal with my constantly changing feelings about my songs and mixes? One day I love a song, the next day, I don’t like that same song. One day I’ve found the perfect place to put the snare drum in the mix, the next day, it sounds waaaay too quiet! If my tastes and feelings are always changing, then how can I decide when a mix or song is “right”?

-Mixed Up In Philly

Dear Mixed,

I think the real solution to this problem exists at that fine point where your art is yourself. Just like in the everyday flow of events where you’re constantly recontextualizing whether or not a certain impulse is a trustworthy instinct or an anxiety to be written off, your relationship with your music will reflect the relationship of your consciousness to your identity.

I always think of music like acupuncture: the same treatment will have vastly different effects on different people, or even the same person day to day.

Your dissatisfaction with previous mix decisions might actually signify that you’re not in the mood to be mixing some days. And you know, how you feel about yourself might be more pertinent information than the level of that snare.

The thing is, music is gonna sound different on different systems, so all you can do is ride the line and trust yourself to make the best decision.

You gotta keep making work, learn to feel that moment when you hit sweet spots. And keep focusing on how to trust yourself in and out of the studio, 24/7 IRL.

Some of the best advice I ever got about playing the violin was this: before you curl and contort yourself around the instrument, take a moment to feel your body straight and grounded. You *add* the instrument to your body.

You could try doing something like the same, in a psychological sense. Do your best to get a good strong sense of your state of mind before you mix a song.

Dear Jolie,

I am entering into a long distance relationship for the first time in my life – what are some long distance relationship “do’s” and “don’t’s”?
It is challenging. There is a high percentage of texting involved in over communication which can me problematic.
Texting can be a relationship killer.
Sweet nothings are fine via text. 😊
It dawned on me that many touring musicians end up logging quite a bit of long distance relationship experience.

Love,
Mendocino Joe

Dear Mendocino Joe,

You got that right. A touring musician usually knows a little too much about the LDR.

My present boyfriend and I are pretty chill about it. We spoke on the phone about 3 times when he was away for month, texting every day to say good night, neither of us needing the other to respond minute to minute. My boyfriend and I have a different kind of long distance relationship in that we have gone very long distances together. I’m typing shotgun right now as he drives.

On the subject of dos and don’ts: I don’t like to operate with rules in a relationship. I like it when it feels like my loved ones and I are creating our own relationships. I don’t want to feel like lowest common denominator popular culture is in on my private experience. The closest thing I’ve got to a hard, fast rule is I do my best to avoid heavy ‘relationship talk’ when either one of the party has been drinking.

So if was going to lay out any dos or don’ts for an LDR, I’d loop the texting rule in there too, for a grand total of three ways I generally refuse to discuss important shit, and that is drunk, tired, or via text. If it’s more than sweet, sexy nothings, that’s not a text. That’s a phone call, or an email if somebody wants to lay things out clearly.

In my estimation, text is a completely nonviable medium for any serious discussion. Out of respect for your big feelings, you’ve got to address them appropriately, in a way that allows for clear exchange.

If she really likes to hash heavy things out via text, I think you’ve got to be pretty firm to change that dynamic. Any time you’re asking someone to change something they’re used to doing, you’ve got to use a clear message with heartfelt, sincere repetition. My best friend shows me how to employ this method all the time. He compares it with how you relate to toddlers. You don’t just say no. You probably have to say no repeatedly with love, without tiring, and you probably have to offer an alternate course of action repeatedly (“I love you. Please call me when you get off work.”) Once she feels the energy flowing clearly in another direction, she will probably be inspired by how much more functional it is to avoid weighty exchanges via text. Alternatively, if she sincerely prefers styles of communication that make you uncomfortable, you’ll have to take note of that, and decide how you feel about it.

Our esteemed bandmate Jared Samuel adds “Don’t be too bashful or uptight to sext. Put your all into it. Maybe not quite all of your all.”

Then after thinking about it for a minute, Jared added, “Depending on how far into the relationship he might be, he should not demand or even expect monogamy.”

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