“I started when I was three or four I took that “big cardboard box” we all play with as children and turned myself into a Jukebox.” – @zitabarbara
Episode #271 : A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax
GETTING TO KNOW ZITA BARBARA
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio
I started when I was three or four…
I took that “big cardboard box” we all play with as children and turned myself into a Jukebox. I stationed myself near the stairs of the complex and waited for people to put change in me to hear me sing. If they chose to ignore me, I would pick up the box and follow them to their doorstep until they broke down to my cuteness, or shut the door. That doesn’t work very well after a certain age…for example, last week I was told it’s not Halloween by a confused neighbor. (I’m just kidding.) From there, I have done a lot of work developing my voice. I auditioned and got into the Los Angeles Children’s Choir, but my family had to move. When we “settled” in Texas I was the “star” of my fifth grade choir. The music teacher gave me solos, duets, encouraged me to sing in a church choir she directed afterschool. I practiced a lot. By eight grade I was bullied out of trying out for parts in performances and “queen-beed” for my voice. It caused me to take a different route. I became fed up with choirs and started singing-songwriting as a way to introvert in music. When I learned how catty and jealous people can get over singing I started one-on-one voice lessons with the chair or director of the San Antonio Opera Company who sang opera herself. She was very “exclusive,” and my mom didn’t have a lot of money, so she work with me on a cheaper scale and invested time to develop me. Her efforts were not in vain. In college, I auditioned and received a music scholarship awarded to me be the chair of the music department. I was double-majoring in business at the time and it was hard for me to keep up the ridiculous schedule. I quit the music program. I contemplated “quitting music.” One day I got “hit hard” literally, by a cement truck. I always wanted to make an album of my songs. After that event, I just went for it full force.
Don’t Stop (Remix)
This song is about being conflicted and having a “mind change.” It starts out explaining to a guy who is interested that, “My heart is torn in two.” In a torn state, freaking out over what to do, she lets him go. The song calls him to come back, “Don’t stop coming through the back door…calling from the pay phone…” She is basically calling out for a “Sancho.” Love nowadays is a complicated thing.
Yes, there is a backstory. It’s a very long story. It involves the car crash, running into an old crush, and mixing the two events for inspiration. It sounds like I turned my head to look at a crush and got into a car accident. That’s not what happened. Crushes are weird things that can stay in a system a long time. After the car accident (that had nothing to do with the crush) I grabbed at ideas I had stewing in me from all of my years in music. (It’s what they say, “It takes eleven years to make an overnight star.”) I dug up ideas I started in eight grade choir, high school, and even added some opera. If you didn’t notice “Don’t Stop” has a very “pop-classical” feel? Just take the melody and imagine an orchestra playing it and you will see what I mean.
As I travel down this music highway …
I want to display more of my vocal chops I worked on growing up. I expect to put out some more “vocally challenging” work like Adele-type vocals or Whitney Houston to show off my range and voice. “I Need An Angel” is a first album. I want to introduce my music to the world with this album. It’s a good album for the “broken hearts” out there and people who like to hear something different, raw. A lot of the music is about the struggle to move on. “Don’t Stop” is the “I’ve changed my mind. Come back” song. That’s the last song I recorded for this album. In a loss or grieving process I suspect that’s the “bargaining” period.
I live in San Antonio…
The music and art scene is up and coming. I like to paint. I paint a lot of butterflies and show my work around town. It’s a funny thing because I feel some people join my media thinking I am the artist, and then get off when I post music thinking they found the wrong gal and visa-versa. I am the same person. I am glad only in this instance to have a super funky name because at least I get a little “double take” out of it.
The music business is…
a lot like the art business. An artist, in both mediums, needs to have their own vision and be hands-on to move forward in these careers. When I was in choir, I thought along the lines of every other choir girl, “One day, someone will hear me sing and offer me a recording contract.” It turns out getting bullied out of choir was the best thing that ever happened to me. It forced me to think differently than the rest of the music crowd. When I turned to opera I let myself explore hard core vocal technique that I wouldn’t have gotten staying in choir. By the time of the accident I started to think differently about music. It wasn’t just something I learned and then sang like a trained parrot. I wanted to “heal.” I found that using music in this way, expressing myself, has won me over a greater audience than if I would have fought to remain the “good little choir girl.” The moral of the story is that, in any career or endeavor, pitfalls are to be expected. What you do with yourself and how you react will make you greater. Every bad thing that happens can be an opportunity to grow instead of a reason to stop.
I love social media…
When I started my Facebook page I had five people. Close friends willing to take a chance on “liking” my very unpopular page with a few posts. I started out discouraged. The way dreams work out in a head is a different animal from what happens in reality. The way dreams come true in a dream is: one day you record an album and the next day you are famous. It turns out it’s not that easy. The biggest challenge I have had was growing my fan base. There is so much music out there it is hard to get “heard.” My facebook page is very popular now but it took three years of submitting my work around sites like Reverbnation or Soundcloud, then asking people to take a break to listen to what I have put out. I’ve even done a lot of “on the spot” performances in random settings hoping to drive people to my work.
Singles vs an album…
It is easier to put out a single. To put a whole album together…it is work. It is arranging schedules of different parties and odd hours. It takes getting some ideas turned down and listening to advice. It is a true process. So clearly, recording one song is much easier than ten songs. I did a whole album expecting to put out a single. After I was done recording one, I felt I had another in me. Then I went for another one after that. I had a lot of material inside of me. I started a couple new projects and feel the same way. I want to do “just one” and find myself inspired to make another song.
Probably the actual crush that inspired “Don’t Stop.” 5 minutes over a cup of coffee or something “innocent” would probably be all I can take in reality. This was a “heart pounding” and “dry throat” type-of-thing. My motor skills would shut down, and I would be reduced to blank-stare, fainting…he may then have to administer CPR…I would blow it all out of proportion and take it the wrong way when I come back to consciousness. I would take the exchange to be shared “moment.” He would be like, “Are you okay?” That old crush was always kinda awkward on my end. 5 minutes offers me enough time to apologize for being awkward without running into the above “Doomsday scenario.” (I said that just to be funny, it’s another attempt at a joke. I would never “risk it.”) Seriously, I’d love to spend 5 minutes with Alanis Morissette and ask for thoughts on my songwriting. I just felt that was boring to say.
I went to a “big time” producer …
with my material and he wanted to completely “repackage me.” That was an issue for me. I was making up my album to say what I needed to say. It wasn’t about anyone else. I wanted to express something I held inside of me. I wanted to say something genuine. It’s very hard to “be yourself” in any art form. So many people feel they know the key to success, the “formula.” I am skeptical of producers who think this way. I have a degree in art. After studying art formally I can say there is only one “Picasso.” The copycats might make “good work,” but they aren’t “Picasso.” The only way to find true fulfillment as an artist is to realize your own vision and sound.
I am most afraid of…
My old crush finding out my old crush, and the recent music about it (just kidding.) I am most afraid of losing my sense of humor. Life would be a jail sentence without it.
My personal definition of success is…
Name one success story that you are particularly proud of. Explain why you considered this a great success and how you achieved it.
My sister and I went through college on our own….
I am proud that I put myself through school with my little sister. We both made our way through and excelled despite setbacks. It was the most leadership, determination, and perseverance I ever had the courage to display. I ended up with three degrees and I feel capable of more.
My over all goal for my life & career is…
I would like to make another album. This time slower and more thought out. I am writing several books and hope to publish them. I don’t want to stop creating. I have no idea “where” that might take me. I simply know I found some very real passions. Sometimes it takes a car crash, or something along those lines, to wake a person up to talents and potential they might give up just going-with-the-flow. I had to think about what my obituary might read like to find out that I needed to do what was on my bucket list now because it might never happen later.
3 Ways that I challenge myself and how each one moves me forward towards my goal…
1) I challenge myself to keep in healthy. Without a healthy, mind, spirit, one can still move towards a goal; it won’t be as enjoyable an experience if a person walks with a pebble in their shoe towards the next stepping stone. It’s best to work out the kinks and move to the next step.
2) I challenge myself to create everyday. Recently I committed to daily writing towards a book. Most people think writing an entire book is challenging. It’s not so bad if it’s just a little everyday.
3) I keep a little “motivational quote” by my bed. I see it when I wake up, and again when I go to bed. It helps me. I ask myself what can I do to be productive during the day. I evaluate what I did before going to bed. A lot of people lose passion for life and start giving up on “extra energy projects” like their dreams. I don’t want to let go of my dreams so I have to be my own motivational speaker or cheerleader sometimes.
Buy the music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/zita-barbara/id991497774