Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Photos

While we were in Pendleton, Oregon for Thanksgiving, we went over to the park and took a family photo. It isn't often that we get this many of us together.  However, we're still missing my two younger brothers (one is in Florida, the other is in Portland).

From left to right is:

Taylor Thomas, Will Thomas, Jenni Thomas, James Southworth, Carolyn Southworth, Preston Thomas, Thelma Lindsay (my grandmother), Alexander Southworth, Elena Southworth, Ron Southworth, Emmy Southworth, and Mike Southworth (my older brother).  I should also mention we are missing my Grandpa - who passed away 2 years ago.

And then here's us!  Rodulph and all!

We've taken photos by this tree since I was a little girl - only now it's lost some of its branches.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving - A Taylor Post

(Watch the following video)

(Rollerskating Video here)...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hollywood Trip

All right, first, a warning. There are LOTS of photos in this post, so bear with me.  Second, even though I just posted a blog about this on my music blog, this one will be a bit more personal with more details (that I didn't want the general public/fans reading).  So if I were you, I'd read this one. :)

For the past 4 days, Will and I have been in Hollywood, California.  The main reason was for the awards show where I was a nominee (which shall remain nameless to avoid google searches leading to this post), but it was also an excuse for us to finally get a little time alone together.  Our two cute little rugrats were special guests of Grandma and Grandpa while we were gone.

So here you go - a behind the scenes tell-all of the red carpet experience.

We flew into the Long Beach Airport Thursday afternoon, just in time to pick up our rental car and head over to our hotel at the Kodak Theater complex in Hollywood.

I have to say, being able to drive around in a convertable with the top down in the middle of November was a very pleasant experience. Especially since we'd heard that Seattle had received a few snowflakes since we'd left.

Here is our view from the Renaissance Hotel which was in the Kodak Theater Complex, otherwise known as The Hollywood & Highlands.  

It was a very nice 5 star hotel, which we lived up while we were there - because for the next 3 nights we moved over to the Hollywood Motel 6. Which, was an adventure in itself that I'll tell you about in a minute.

We had a few hours to get ready for the event.  We really didn't know what to expect at this thing, so it was actually really nice that we had a direct view of the entrance of the event from our hotel window.

 As you can see, we had a stellar view of people lining up and entering.  I was particularly concerned about dressing for this thing, and so Will snuck over there and gave me the headsup as to what people were wearing so far.  I was pleased to find out from his spy report that there were all sorts.

It wasn't that I was nervous for this event, but I was what I would say overly concerned with my appearance.  Being Mormon, I wanted to be sure that what I wore was classy and modest, but I also didn't want to stick out like a frumpy uptight mess either.  And in a place like Hollywood where there are perfect bodies at every turn, plastic surgery, and short skirts...honestly I was nervous that my modest curvy self would feel out of place.  NOT that that is a bad thing - because we both know that I don't desire to be any of the fore-mentioned things.  I guess I'm just trying to say is that I wanted to feel beautiful but not over or under done.

I had the help of a stylist for the past month who helped me choose accessories, shoes, and a clutch. However, two weeks before this event, I decided I didn't like my dress and returned it. I spent two full Saturdays shopping with my mom until we found the two dresses that I had blogged about previously.

(Me taking a self-portrait in the mirror to check myself before embarking out for the evening)

And for those wondering (because a lot have asked me), even though I LOVED the midnight blue dress and it was more my own personal style, I ended up wearing the black dress to the red carpet because it flattered my figure better.  It was a really hard decision, but that is what it came down to.  And knowing that I was going to be photographed, interviewed, and more from all angles...the last thing I wanted to worry about was my dress.

Here were my cute sparkly shoes that I wore for the evening

 The view of the hotel swimming pool, and the Kodak complex in the background

I have to say that I was ready way before Will was, and we didn't end up arriving to the red carpet until about 7pm.  It had already been going on for 2 hours, and the red carpet ended at 8pm when the show was to start.  This turned out to be a good thing later on, I'll explain...

Here is a photo of me on a balcony with The Highlands behind me, which is where the awards were held.

 Across the street, we could see on the rooftop the Jimmy Kimmel show being filmed.

Once we checked in for the event, we got our bracelets and stood in line for the red carpet.  If you can imagine all the stars and nominees here for the event have to wait for their turn to walk the red carpet, you will understand waiting in line for a long, long time.  Especially because there are those who really like to strut their stuff in front of the cameras.

While in line, I got to meet a few artists waiting as well.  The group of gents directly behind us came all the way over from Turkey - as they were nominees in the Instrumental Genre. The guy in front of me was a nominee for Best Music Video (he was a hip hop artist).  There was definitely a wide variety of artists - mostly all independent like me.

As you see the sign above says "Red Carpet Only", at that point Will had to leave for the VIP lounge while I went to the red carpet.  Only press, presenters, nominees, and celebs were allowed on the red carpet.  I was a little anxious about this because I didn't want to do the red carpet by myself.  Luckily, Will was able to sneak through a window and get a couple of shots of me.

It did take a really, really long time to finally get to the red carpet though and my feet were starting to kill me.  And I was enormously thirsty!  I would have paid $50 for a glass of water right then, especially knowing that I was going to have to smile for cameras and do interviews.  But thankfully, because we were so late getting on the carpet, they quit doing the TV interviews because the awards were starting.  I was really relieved actually.  My mouth was parched and I was an anxious wreck.

Once I was on the red carpet, the lights were pretty bright and I couldn't really see much of anything.  All I heard were photographers in front of me saying "Jennifer, look this way", or "Jennifer, smile and look here."  I just tried to follow the voices and smile in the direction of them.

Here are several more shots of me on the red carpet...

Now the only reason I'm putting the next 2 shots in here are because of an ongoing joke between Will and I during our entire trip:  Hooker dresses.  They were everywhere.  We couldn't get over the trend and how practically every single female in Hollywood seemed to think it flattering to wear these teeny tiny little dresses that just barely covered their butts.  And then when you put me next to one of them, I look like I'm wearing a moo-moo.

I was so glad to know that I was classy.  I mean, come on ladies.  Are you really a hooker? Because you look like one.

Just a few more shots...

This next one was taken from my phone as I was waiting in line for the red carpet, to give you my own perspective...

The awards show itself was....interesting.  Totally not what we were really expecting at all.  

For one thing, unless you purchased a VIP banquet table seat, there was no where to sit.  And so the entire awards show was basically standing room only.  There were 3 levels where you could go "hang out" and were a few places to sit there, but if you were out there you couldn't hear or see the awards show.  And so it was hard - because our feet were killing us and we wanted to sit down, yet we didn't want to miss them announcing my category and the winner.

And the show itself was pretty disorganized, from the media to the presenters, etc.  It just seemed like one big after-party instead of an awards show.  Which, I might add, is why we chose to not attend the after-party because really it seemed more like an after-after-party.  We'd already been on our feet for like 5 hours and had no desire to party it up on our feet any longer.

Here is me finally finding somewhere to sit down for a second...

They finally announced the winner for the Classical/Orchestral genre, and unfortunately it was not yours truly.  And I'm totally fine with that - honestly.  Although I have to say I was a little surprised, because I thought my song was really fresh and unique compared to many of the others.  That is not to say they weren't talented because they definitely were.  Anyway.  An opera singer from Sweden won.  She was cute and I thought her acceptance speech was witty and funny, as she said "I'd like to thank my husband who let me spend all of our money on my recent album...".  Will and I both laughed, because isn't that the truth~!   Even though we don't spend our personal money on my music projects, it is true that I burn through all of my own hard earnings to fund all my work.  This trip included.

We didn't stay much after that - but finally left and around midnight got some dinner, which was the first time we'd eaten since about 2pm.  It was nice to be in comfy clothes and to sit, relax, and eat.

The next day we went and saw "Breaking Dawn", and later that night attended an industry mixer at the hotel for the event.  This was us getting ready to head out...

I begged Will to not buy these crazy white shades, but he did it to annoy me. Ha ha.

The industry mixer was, I have to say, much more organized than the awards show the previous night, but still didn't have anything that would have benefited my music career so after an hour or so we left. We went to the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd and watched "In Time".

Would I Do This Again?

To be honest, probably not. Yes the whole thing was a great experience, and I do feel honored that someone out there thought my music was great enough to be nominated for this award. But unless by some miracle my music gets nominated in the future for something with a little more prestige and organization, I probably won't do this again. At least this particular awards show.  Again, don't get me wrong, I am glad that I went, but it wasn't all that it seemed to be hyped up to be.  The amount of money we invested in the trip didn't really turn the best value for our buck.

A big part of the reason I wanted to go to this was to be able to network, meet other people and artists, etc. And I can honestly say that that did not really happen.  Most of the people at this event were in a completely different genre than myself - the kind who are looking to expose themselves for record deals and whatnot.  That is not what I am looking for.  I don't want to be signed to any record label, and am not looking to "expose" myself, per se. Well, yes I want my music out there, but I suppose this route wasn't what I was really hoping for. What I did hope for though, was a chance to meet other artists in the LA area that I could learn from, perhaps sit in on recording sessions, gain knowledge from their experience and expertise.  And I really did not meet anyone like this at this event.  It was fun to be able to do the red carpet, attend the event and to be able to say "been there, done that"....but I don't think I would do this particular event again.

But if I DO ever do any sort of red carpet event again, I will say this though: I will have someone else do my hair and makeup.  I looked great leaving the hotel room, but it quickly fell apart. My hair totally went flat and my makeup went shiny. LOL

One worthwhile part of the trip though, is I did get to visit my audio engineer (a.k.a. "audio stylist"), Rob Beaton, at his home studio in Los Angeles.  We got to talk with him for a couple of hours and listen to some stellar tracks he was mixing of some orchestral/choir works that were recorded at Abbey Road in London.  That was definitely a lot more exciting to me than the false Hollywood atmosphere at the awards show.  Rob has done the music engineering for movies like The Devil Wears Prada, Batman, and more.  And has worked with some of the greatest bands ever like Santana, Journey, etc.  The biggest reason why I chose to work with him on my next album (which I feel so lucky about, by the way), is because out of all the sound engineers I have ever worked with or interviewed, Rob has a talent for mixing cinematic, classical elements, orchestral with the "larger than life" sound - which describes what I hope to achieve on my next album. It is a really hard sound to get just right and he does amazing.

Me in my cheap shades I bought on Hollywood Blvd (same time Will bought his white shades)

I'd have to say the best part of the trip was really the time that I got with my husband.  Being the parents of two energetic boys who are 3 and under takes a lot of energy. TOTALLY worth it and we love them ever so much (and I missed them tons while we were gone!), but having the time with Will was so worth the entire trip.  It's nice to know that despite all the fame, fortune, and success you can have in the world...what REALLY matters is family.

An afternoon on the Santa Monica Pier

The Grove outdoor shopping mall in Hollywood

The Chinese Theater

Me doing a pouty face for the camera the evening I didn't win the award...

Will and I at an amazing Italian Restaurant in Hollywood.  They had THE best olive oil/bread ever. Hands down. This was after we skipped out early on the Industry mixer Friday night....

Another pic from the Pier...

We had a great time, but coming home was even sweeter.  We missed our boys. I was a little sad that I didn't get to give them hugs when we arrived home, but being that it was 11pm they were already in bed. I went into their rooms and gave them a smooch without waking them.

My parents, the troopers that they were, earned themselves Academy Awards from Hollywood for "Best Grandma" and "Best Grandpa".

 And last but not least, here is a little video recap of our trip.

P.S. And of course, for your entertainment, here is a collage of all the hooker dress pictures I tried to snap when I saw them.  I'm not joking when I say these dresses were on almost every young lady.  It was rediculous.

P.P.S. I totally forgot to tell you about Motel 6. Okay, so the last night we were there, we came home exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep but there was an insanely loud party going on in the courtyard.  We're talking SUPER loud Mexican music, and a guy with a microphone yelling and talking. Dancing, drinking, etc.  So Will went down to the front desk to complain. The guy asked "Is it Mexican music?" and Will said "Yes". and then the guy happily said "That's us!  That's our employee Thanksgiving party!".  It is just funny that you go to complain about the noise and it turns out to the be the motel employees.  So we endured 3 hours of hard partying and noise before it finally stopped.  It was definitely not the Renaissance.