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The Real Story Behind My New Album

The best children's music album featuring Toddler Songs That Don't Suck by Xtine Elise

For most people who know me, the fact that I released a music album comes as no huge surprise. I've been singing publicly since I was a child, professionally began my journey into the music industry during my teenage years, and went on to continue my study as a vocalist with a scholarship at Berklee College of Music. The road was long and windy, but music was always a constant for me - whether singing out with bands, doing session work, or operating my various music businesses.

I was certainly no one-trick pony by any means, but as is the case with most musicians, I definitely had a lot of experience in some areas but not others. For me, I had a plethora of knowledge about the music business, singing, performing, and songwriting. My limitations showed up when it came to accompanying myself and anything in the world of production, outside of the safety of the vocal booth. The pandemic changed all of that.

The rapid and strict mandates struck down in Connecticut, where my physical business was located, shuttered my company. But I was faced with an even worse problem. Unlike many neighboring businesses, I didn't have all of my customers disappear overnight. It was actually quite the opposite - I had people banging down my door! (Literally.) From aspiring artists with "stimmy checks," to corporations desperately needing voiceover for time-sensitive informative commercials for their customers, my recording studio was absolutely swamped with business opportunities... and no one to fulfill them.

Niche workers are hard to find as is, especially in my industry. But now the government was giving away "free money." Who is going to work under those conditions? It was a pivot or die situation in business. The walls were caving in, and rent was still due. I'll spare you all the dramatic details of what I thought might be my final swan song as a recording studio owner, but what came next is what changed the course of direction in my life.

I would spend the coming years taking online courses, reading books, following tutorials, and sitting in on studio session after studio session until I started getting a grip on the other side of the recording process. I still feel like I have a lifetime of study to go (and a newfound respect for those who specialize in these fields), but finally earned enough education in producing and engineering to add value to the projects of my clients, and soon enough, myself.

From 2021-2022, I had two babies back to back, and started to reimagine my life as a new mom of two under two. Who was I now? Can I still do what I was doing before? Do I even want to? A lot of questions like this flooded my mind daily. Eventually, I found peace knowing I wanted to change the pace of my work landscape, and that meant shutting down the physical space after over a decade. Not an easy change by any means, but I know having the flexibility of being around for my kids was important to me, and the responsibility of maintaining public studio space was not something I was really interested in doing anymore, especially when so many of my clients had already migrated to a remote platform during the pandemic.

Bringing my work home was the best thing I ever did, and I honestly don't think I would've ever done it, had things not panned out exactly the way they did. I spent a long time being frustrated and resentful at the cards I'd been dealt with everything that happened during the shutdown, but now I see why they say everything happens for a reason. I earned skills I never would have had. Like, ever. It was full-blown survival mode, and not only did I survive, but I eventually thrived.

This album is so important to me because it signifies the intersection of my favorite parts of my life right now... my family and my music. I am so proud to have many years of trials and tribulations culminate into my ability to have completely written, performed, arranged, produced, mixed, mastered, and distributed my own album. Heck, I even did my own artwork! She did it all, peeps. And it's the most fun, because it's honest. My life as a musical mama always had me bashing my head against the wall because ALL OF THE TODDLER SONGS SUCKED. I literally hated them. They were stupid. They were boring. They were lazy. They were repetitive and got stuck in my head all night long. I was over it! But my kids love music. I'm sure most do! My husband looked at me one day and said, "Well if all the toddler songs suck so bad, why don't you make some." Challenge accepted, and during the next 6 weeks, I did just that. A little bit every day during the mid-day nap when I didn't have a client call or other work to do. And a little bit adds up a lot over time, so here we are.

To everyone who listened, liked, commented, shared, or sent me words of congratulations, you have no idea how much it means to me. If nothing else, let this story be a lesson to you that you can truly do anything you want in life. You can reinvent yourself anytime you want. You are allowed to pivot. You are allowed to grow. You are allowed to change everything. You deserve to have everything you want. And if what you want is Toddler Songs (That Don't Suck), well, I've got that for you too.


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