Every so often as I catch myself in the busyness of running this Kwerky business, marketing, budgeting, booking, songwriting, planning, strategizing, and all the fun stuff that goes along with the behind-the-scenes work of The Kwerks, I get a flash of the bird's eye view. My brain zooms way, way out, away from the minutiae that I get caught in for hours (how to write that post in the best way, with the best photo, which has been edited to suit our quirky style, the caption being under the magic number of characters, the clickable link being easy enough to locate, the timing of the post just right....) and I remember that we're living the dream.
It's still early. It still feels like we have a long road of this dream-living ahead of us, and it feels like we're still learning and growing and experimenting, but it's amazing. Dropping my career as a childbirth doula, to diving in head first, no holds barred, into pursuing music, our own music - what a rush.
Not only that, but as we began performing and connecting with our audiences, as we listened to what people were saying after our shows, as we read what people felt when they watched our videos, read our blogs, or listened to our songs, we started to see a bigger picture unfold. And we are leaning heavily into that bigger picture now.
There's a lot more story to be told about the path we've been walking than just the Kwerk part of it. There was a little video app called VINE that we very thoroughly became obsessed with for a couple years, which led to a huge transformation for Ryan first, and then me following. The transformation had everything to do with realizing we were holding ourselves back from the world, that we were putting on masks and pretending we were a certain way, not really allowing our true selves out, not really feeling like our true selves would be acceptable. But that darn app, that little screen on our phones, and more importantly, that community of caring people that lived all over the world and who engaged with us, encouraged us, and saw us emerge with our weird senses of humour, our weird dance moves, and our weird selves, gave us permission to really let go of those masks. One of those rather caring and influential people's VINE alias happened to be "Kwrky". Hmmm. But that's a story for another day.
VINE wasn't the only catalyst. Sometimes it seems that when you're being pushed down a path, all sorts of things line up to accommodate it. Books we were reading, people we were talking to, messages we were hearing everywhere, they all lined up. They all kept telling us to let go of our inhibitions. Be real. Be yourselves. Let loose.
There's a lot more to the story, and those who are close to us know the journey well, and perhaps we'll tell more of that story another day, but today, the story halts at a rather unpleasant pit stop.
It's an interesting thing, hate mail. Really, it's astounding to read something that is full of anger and disdain that someone actually went and sat and wrote, on purpose, seemingly for the sole reason of hurting.
We got one such email recently. It was directed hatefully at Ryan. And it hurt. But it also opened up a lot of discussion, and ultimately made way for MORE goodness, MORE authenticity, and MORE determination in the right direction.
You see, the thing is, the writer was slamming Ryan for doing exactly what we set out to do. This person was hating him because he was doing EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO. Someone missed the memo. Someone wasn't hearing the message.
When we get on stage, we aren't up there to impress an audience with our musical prowess. Ryan proudly proclaims he HASN'T HAD ANY DANCE TRAINING, and his maniacal moves are truly self-taught. Bahahaha! And I'm not even that good a guitar player! Sheesh! I've got rhythm, sure, but I'm still learning, and teaching myself, and if you ask me what key I'm playing in, I'll usually panic and turn to ask one of the amazing guys that play with us and know way more about music than I do. And I've made peace with that.
This is the thing. We are just simply bringing ourselves and offering what we have, and we are loving it, every moment, and that's it! It really is a nice surprise that people seem to like it, and tell us after shows how much they loved certain songs, and tell us that they're inspired to go and live life a little differently now. One of the most tear-jerking memories for me was after a show when a woman came up to me and said, in the most heartfelt way, "Thank you SO MUCH for quitting your job and doing this. Thank you." It was one of the earliest moments that I realized that this is a gift not only for Ryan and I.
And so when an email comes in that picks Ryan apart and tells him that he should stay backstage, and that he's a horrible distraction to an otherwise great band, it really seems like that person is missing the whole point.
The other day, we went to our kids' fine arts school to watch the year-end grade 4/5 show. Now, I'm a weepy mom like all the others at these kinds of things, but when the banners came down revealing the theme of the show, I was floored, and had rather leaky eyes through most of the show. Be free to be yourself. Have the courage to choose freedom. There is no better theme for us Kwerks to be dwelling on and leaning into at this time. Nothing better. And we will keep going. And Ryan will dance like a maniac and I will break strings from playing them so hard and the band will be there to back us up. And that's all.