cumulus

I don’t normally write about music on this blog, but a very special record comes out today and I wanted to tell you all about it. It’s called I Never Meant It to Be Like This and it’s by a band called Cumulus.

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Cumulus is a Seattle band fronted by a seriously amazing lady named Alexandra Niedzialkowski. I met Alex the first summer I volunteered with Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, a summer day camp here in Seattle that’s part of the global Girls Rock Camp Alliance (I know that’s a lot of links, but they’re all worth visiting, I promise!). Girls rock camp is an incredible experience that I really believe in: helping girls aged 8-18 learn to use their voices, write music, build confidence, and generally make the world a better place. Through rock music. I mean, how awesome is that, right?! It sounds kind of corny to say it, but my first summer volunteering at rock camp kind of changed my life.

I was a first time camp counselor, and admittedly a little nervous, but Alex was an old pro, having volunteered at rock camp before. She came in on Monday morning with the most incredible enthusiasm and energy, and that’s the first thing I noticed about her. Not only did she get the campers pumped up and excited, but she got me pumped up and excited, too. And before you knew it, I was jumping around dancing to the lunchtime bands and screaming along to the camp song too. She was a model for the new volunteers like me. She kind of embodied the rock camp spirit. And it’s not just because she beleives in the girls rock camp mission, although she does; it’s because that’s just the kind of person she is. Upbeat and excited and wonderful to be around, making other people feel good about themselves, about the world.

All that stuff comes through in her music, and that’s why I’m so excited the Cumulus full-length is out today. Maybe I’m a little biased, because I know Alex personally (and for the sake of full disclosure: this record’s out on my husband’s label, Trans- Records), but it’s a gorgeous record and I hope you’ll take the time to listen to at least a song or two. You might fall in love. I know I have.

If you’re in Seattle, the Cumulus record release show is this Thursday, October 3rd at Neumos, with Kithkin and Sundries. Full event details here. I’d love to see you there!

video: cat camera likes to travel

First, a little bit of background. A year and a half ago I got a camera for my birthday, and it just so happens that this camera looks like a cat:

Seriously. It’s the Necono Digital Camera, and not surprisingly it’s a Japanese product. Cat camera has four modes: it takes still photos, still photos with a self timer, it shoots video, and it has a time lapse feature.There’s a mode button to switch between the four modes. The cat’s right eye is the lens, while the left eye is the self timer sensor. The microphone (yeah, the video records audio, too) is just below the cat’s nose. All your photos and video are stored on a microSD card, and you can connect it to your computer via a micro USB cable to transfer its contents. Oh, and its feet are magnetic, which is how it’s perched on that pipe up there. It’s a pretty remarkable little piece of technology.

The first question people usually have is what the photos look like. I typically describe them as pretty lo-fi, a little bit like a cheap cell phone camera. But it can be all over the map. Some photos are better quality, some are totally terrible. Sometimes in focus, but not always; it’s a little bit of a gamble. Sometimes the colors are crazy and totally blown out. You never totally know what you’re going to get. In general though, cat camera does well outdoors with daylight, and less well indoors and at night. Here’s a photo I took in Budapest to give you an example:

Cat camera has a tumblr, if you’d like to see more photos: cat-camera.tumblr.com

I was given cat camera while I was living in Hungary, and I’ve taken it on all my travels in the last year and a half. I’ve been collecting short video clips along the way, not knowing exactly what I’d do with them. I’ve always thought it’d be fun to compile them somehow, though.

Enter my dear friend John Vanderslice. John’s gearing up to release his new record, Dagger Beach, next Tuesday. I kind of fell in love with one of the in-between tracks, “Interlude #1,” and thought it would complement the cat camera clips really nicely. So I put them all together and here’s where I ended up:

https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js Interlude #1 from Dianna on Vimeo.

Thanks to JV for permission to use the song! The record (which is totally great) is available at daggerbeach.com, and if you’d like to follow the travels of cat camera you can do so here.