Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Conversation with CelticMaidenWarrior Lancaster

I had just returned from a meeting with CelticMaidenWarrior Lancaster and had started to organize the notes from this interview when an e-mail notice arrived via Facebook. It was from her. I saw that she was about to take the stage at The Merry Prankster. So I set the notes aside and decided to pop in. There were eleven avatars present when I arrived; they were there to be entertained by the winner of the Best Female Artist, 2010 Anthology Music Awards. When I had arrived she’d just started into a favorite song of mine, “Time for a Cool Change” by Little River Band. She covered the song very well, her voice firm within the songs range, that and along with a solid guitar accompaniment made me think my decision was a good one. When finished, she shifted genre and launched into a Celtic ballad which she performed a capella. Her voice true to the lyrics and while she sang I settled into my chair and listened, absorbed by both the beauty of the lyrics and her voice. She followed the ballad with covers from both Joni Mitchell and Peter Frampton. The crowd was a little laid back but appreciative of her performance, each song was greeted with the virtual world equivalent of applause via the chat line. It wasn’t too long before additional people showed up, but I prior commitments so I didn’t stay for her whole set
We’d originally planned to meet in Inworldz and did briefly, but due to a scheduling problem with her planned performance there, we left that virtual world and returned to Second Life. She sent me a teleport request and I arrived inside a covered circular patio which was nestled inside the branches of a very large tree. She was seated on a portion of the circular sofa and I chose a pose ball across from her. After an exchange of pleasantries we began the interview.
Nazz Lane: How is that you found your way into Second Life?
Celtic: I had been sharing the Mic with other musicians in a chat room in Camfrog video chat; I did that for several years. Someone told me about Second Life, and told me that I should really look into it. I got an account but my computer wasn't strong enough to allow me in. Finally, a year later I managed to get a new computer and the rest is history. I've been performing in SL nearly 4 years.
Nazz: In the four years, has there been one memorable performance that stands out?
Celtic: One of my favorite shows was in Lil Slurgis.  It just happened that the people who showed up ... each of them had something in their name that reminded me of lyrics or titles to songs. It was one of the most memorable shows I've done in Second Life.  I've done so many shows, that often one show just melds into the next. The audience is what sets the stage for my shows.
Nazz: As a seasoned second life performer, what kinds of things does a virtual world audience do or can do to heighten the performance level?
Celtic: I am a very low key person in real life.  I don't have "shtick" like some performers do. So, when I see the audience bantering and teasing one another or teasing me ... that gives me back energy. If they participate by making requests, that's another thing that gives me back energy. But if the audience is quiet, not making requests, not tipping the venue ... Well, frankly, I could get as much playing for myself at home. I hope that didn't sound snobbish.
Nazz: Not at all.
Celtic: The audience really is a big part of my shows.
Nazz: With regards to the question about the audience, wouldn't it be the same sort of thing for a real life performance … to heighten the performance level?
Celtic: I haven't done much real life performing. I use to perform in the 80's, but it was with a Christian band.  There was ministering going on, more than performing. I've only done a few real contemporary shows, and it's always been at venues where I was the ambient music for the events. That fits me, because I'm quite shy in real life, and don't have to interact much with the audience.  If they engage me, I'm right there with it, but I'm not much of an initiator.
Nazz: So is it easier than for you to perform via an avatar?
Celtic: I think performing as an avatar is fitting for me. But ... I still have the same problem engaging an audience. I think I rely on them to engage me. There are several really awesome performers in SL that seem to find it easy to be entertaining.  I think that's more difficult for me. Shows that I do that are more thematic are the better shows. I do a show on Sunday evening at Guthrie's folk club.  My repertoire will be more limited there, because it's folk centered, but it's the most relaxing place I play because I know what I'm in for going in.
Nazz: I see from your web site that your repertoire is quite varied, folk … rock, pop and even the Celtic ballads. Is there any one genre you prefer over another?
Celtic: Not really. I think my repertoire makes me very versatile. For example several times a year, I play for the medieval SIM’ when they have special events.  I do Celtic music only for them.   I've performed Western music in a cowboy SIM before. I do folk at Guthrie's … can do romantic sets, rock sets. I'm not much of a "country" fan, and definitely do not do hip hop.
Nazz: The music jams where Second Life musicians gather in real life have become popular. Have you participated in any?
Celtic: Yes, I went down to the San Diego jam last February. Meeting the other performers in real life was fantastic ... and I met venue owners, and fans.
Nazz: I had heard that they've been enjoyable by the participants ... was there a memorable moment for you at San Diego?
Celtic: Other than just being wrapped up in the moment ... not really. The other artists were fabulous ... everyone was amazing.
Nazz: So the experience in whole then?
Celtic:  Yes, I highly recommend if you have the chance to go to one, do.
Nazz: Within the Second Life music community, have there been any performers male or female in Second Life that have influenced or inspired you?
Celtic: Ganjo inspires me, he's really fun. He's a pro performer.
Nazz: I've seen him perform. How about a favorite venue, one that suits your style or you know the audience will be into the show. Is there one?
Celtic: Well, there have been a number of venues I've really liked. My home venue is The Drunken Drow.  I've been performing there nearly as long as I've been doing shows in Second Life. Guthrie's Folk is very comfortable for me.  It fits like a good pair of shoes.
Nazz: We'd originally planned to meet in Inworldz, how often do you perform there and are there other virtual worlds you perform in?
Celtic: I have only recently started playing in IW. I have a few venues set up for regular appearances. I've played at Heritage Key, that is an educational grid run by a university in Europe. It's quite fascinating.
Nazz: How so?
Celtic: They have interactive displays ...'s not like the usual grid neighborhood where you can rent space and build.  In Heritage Key, you go in for the educational experience.  Go explore King Tut's Tomb in the Valley of the Kings.  Visit the virtual museum or go to Stone Henge and learn of its history. You should investigate it yourself. I've performed in Open Life and another one I can't remember the name of.
Nazz: I have noticed that you're active on Facebook. Has the use of the medium allowed you to better connect with your audience?
Celtic: Facebook has not helped at all. I thought it might help bring people to my shows, but if it's helped at all, it's been very nominally … very slight.
Nazz: If you were approached by someone new to Second Life and they were interested in becoming a musician, what advice would you give them?
Celtic: I would help them as much as they needed. I have helped many newbie artists, even if I don't think they are good (in my own opinion) they deserve the opportunity to make something of it for themselves or not.  I don’t control the listening audience.  In fact, I've been amazed at the crap performers that draw crowds, and the really good performers who can't get people to their shows. It's up to the person to find their own niche in SL music.
Nazz: Where do you see yourself at in six months to a year from now?
Celtic:  Hopefully I'll still be performing in SL and IW.  And, hopefully more people start coming to listen.
Nazz: Would you like to share a closing thought or comment with my readers?
Celtic: I thoroughly enjoy performing live music in the 3D environments; it's a privilege and honor when people show up to my shows.  There is a ton of live music out there.  So when they choose to spend an hour with me, it humbles me.