Photo by Amber Martin  The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California

Photo by Amber Martin

The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California

Mod Piano started as a sliver of an idea: my mom and grandma have loved to hear me play the piano and constantly ask me to release more solo piano music. So, in the summer of 2013, I did. Most of these recordings were cobbled together from various sources. It was a very informal release, so I was extremely surprised at the positive reaction. 


Mod Piano, Vol. 1 

This is mostly a gift for my mother and grandmother, who are always begging me to release piano-only songs. 

I write frequently, lately not as frequently as I'd like, but songwriting is a major part of my life experience. And as any songwriter knows, you have to write a lot of little songs and a lot of songs that aren't A sides in order to create your greatest songs. These songs are not table scraps by any means; they're little stories without words, little snippets from my life that I am very happy and grateful to share with you. Many of my songs have too much of a story behind them. I often write page after page after page of lyrics and end up having to cram them into 3 or 4 minutes. And then sometimes I start writing a song and I realize that it doesn't need to have lyrics. Yet I often want to explain the story behind the song. 

So here are some little musical stories for you to enjoy... 

Bird Song #2 

I was in Toulouse, France staying at the flat of my friend Camille, who plays in a great pop band called Alone With Everybody. (We met in 2010 when he went on tour in the USA) He let me stay in his flat while I was in Toulouse for a couple days in May 2012. I was sitting at his keyboard, just practicing and getting some musical vibes out when I heard a bird singing just outside the window. The bird's song was so beautiful that I just sort of started playing with the bird, and on the first demo recording of this song, you can clearly hear its call. It was a lovely moment and I'm happy a beautiful song came out of it. In fact, whenever I think about this little bird, my heart is very joyful. I have a big smile on my face right now. I wrote another piano-only song on my first release called “The Birds Are Singing,” hence the title, “Bird Song #2.” 

Good Things 

I am often inspired by words and combinations of words, and this phrase kept coming to me at a time in my life where I was full of joyful and hopeful energy, excited for the future. The old-timey, cheerful vibe came pretty naturally. Working lyrics went something like: “Good things are coming, baby / but we'll have to wait and see / all the good things / that are coming to you and me” 

All My Tears 

Written during a darker time during the 'Great Fruitful Songwriting Period' of 2008-2009. Working lyrics were “All the tears that I cried / over every inch of you / wasted every single one” 

A Little Faster 

I wrote this song after accidentally brushing hands with someone at a work meeting many years ago in San Francisco. The version with lyrics appeared on my first EP I put out in 2007. 

I Was Just Waiting For You To Call Me Back 

As it says. I called a friend and he said he'd call me back in a little bit. So I wrote this song while I was waiting for him to call me back. No big story here. 

Take Care Of The Tree 

I gave a tree as a housewarming gift to a lover, and even helped him plant it in the backyard, which involved a lot more digging than we expected. It was a complicated time for me, and I expended a great deal of mental energy worrying about the future of the relationship. I began to feel extremely attached to the tree, however, and I found myself spending even more time and energy worrying about not only the future of the relationship, but also about the future of the grapefruit tree that we had planted together. It had been rescued from a Home Depot by my neighbor and nursed back to health. He sold it to me for $10 after telling me the dramatic tale of how he convinced the store to give him several of the trees since they were not taking care of them properly. I was concerned about the tree, and I wondered what would become of it if, or when, the relationship ended. I wrote this song while thinking about many of the complex issues at play in the relationship as it stood. And it became about the tree, mostly, with working lyrics, “What it will be, will be / just promise me / you'll take care of the tree.” 

UPDATE: The tree is doing fine, although it has not yet put out any flowers or fruit yet. It hasn't grown too much in the past few years, but I don't know how fast grapefruit trees are supposed to grow. If anyone has any advice about citrus trees, please let me know. 

Tell Me More (intro) 

I wrote a very short song called “Tell Me More” for my EP “Glitter Patter” that I put out back in 2007. When I was producing the song I played around with everything I had in my apartment at the time, including pop bottle caps and the sound of the fizz in soda water. I had always envisioned the song as being much longer and part of a song cycle, but I never explored the arc of the song to its fullest extent. This is the piano part I came up with for the intro. There were some working lyrics but they are truly awful and will not be published here. I like the rawness of this recording, which was actually done in 2007 in my downtown LA loft on Spring Street. 


I will definitely revisit this song with lyrics and a fuller arrangement. I played around with the delay effects on the piano as it stood and just loved the way it sounded. Enjoy this demo mix, inspired most likely by one of my favorite artists, German choreographer Pina Bausch. (I don't totally remember) 

Theme From “Together Again” 

[story redacted]


released 18 June 2013 

all piano by Normandie Wilson