As of Monday, May 31st 2021, I’ve officially stepped down from my day gig as a disability support worker and I’m now going it alone operating my music (SongMachine) and web design (ZenWeb) businesses simultaneously.
Right now, at this very moment, I have given myself the gift of time so it is now my responsibility to use this gift wisely and start doing the things that I have been talking, planning, scheming, dreaming and making lists about for the longest time.
First of all, the “secret” of finding the very thing that you need to be doing that defines who you are and secondly, how to do the things you need to do that defines you.
He explains the second part of the equation in this way…
You’ve found it. Now what?Is there a secret? Something they don’t want you to know but that I will reveal to you if you send me lots of money?
No, nobody’s trying to keep it from you and there’s no charge. It’s simple. Not always easy, but simple:
1. Start 2. Continue 3. Fail (because we can imagine perfection but not attain it) 4. Learn from the failure 5. Continue 6. Repeat 3 through 5
Number one is the hardest but the other steps have their drawbacks, too.
So why do it? Because it means something to you
Yes, being a songwriter, musician, producer and blogger means something to me and no, there is no real secret, just action and for me this means navigating through a minefield of fear and doubt.
This fear and doubt has been something that I have carried with me for many, many, many years and it has been very successful in stopping me doing what I want to be doing with my life.
Not any more.
I have been conveniently been using my day gig as an excuse to not be living the life that I want to be living but at the end of the day I’ve just been very scared of being venerable and putting myself out there to be judged, compared and rated in the minds of the general public.
Now, there is no more “I’ll get around to it when I have the time.” I now have all the time that I need and all I’ve got to do is to follow the steps outlined in the article Is This The Time To (Finally) Be You? and I’ll be halfway there.
People that know me, know that I’ve always weighed in on the heavier side of the scales.
Even when I was in my younger, fitter football and cricket playing days, my “big boned” stocky build would always shine through thanks to my Scottish/English heritage.
But last week, on May 20th, after a visit to my doctor to review my latest blood test results he gave me some pretty awful news… I am now officially a Type 2 Diabetic.
Now, only just mind you (with a blood sugar percentage of 7.8% with anything over 7% being Type 2) but nevertheless, I have Type 2 Diabetes and I have to do something about it NOW!
When I got the news I was numb at first but soon afterwards, the shame, the anger and regret started to creep in. “How could I do this to myself?” I asked while looking in the mirror. Well, it was actually quite easy.
I ate and drank the wrong things, at the wrong times and at the wrong quantities whilst not moving all at the same time.
But since then, after some very stern advice from my doctor, I’ve been taking the positive steps needed to improve my health to the point where I can reverse my Type 2 diagnosis.
Now, I had suspected that something was up beforehand because I felt I had reached the point where I was really feeling the consequences of many, many years of not looking after myself properly and on May 20th, all of my suspicions were confirmed.
This post is not going to be the start of a long rambling series of before and after shots and blow by blow accounts of how much weight I’m losing on a day to day basis (I’d rather keep that information as personal) but this post is something I wanted to write for the sake of transparency and honesty.
Let’s face it, if I’m going to reverse my Type 2 diagnosis, feel way better about myself and also get back out into playing gigs again, I need to be physically and mentally fit as well as gig fit and to do that I need to change my lifestyle and dietary habits.
The main question I needed to answer was “How am I going to do this?”
Even though I’ve just started this “change of lifestyle” journey since May 20th, I’ve realised that you don’t have to make incredibly huge changes to make a real difference health-wise.
Changes such as…
Drinking More Water Just doing this first step has made a huge difference. I’m finding myself going to the toilet a lot more but I feel less stodgy and much more cleaner inside.
I have a PuraTap connected at home plus a SodaStream machine that makes “boring” water turn into sparkling water so increasing my water intake hasn’t been that much of a challenge.
I try to consume at least two litres of water per day.
Cutting Out Alcohol This was an easy thing to cut out as I don’t consider myself a big drinker anyways but I’ve noticed a slightly better sleeping pattern resulting from this one small change.
Cutting Down On Coffee Frank Zappa once said in an interview that coffee wasn’t a drug to him, it was FOOD.
That’s how much I love my coffee (either with sugar or more recently, honey in it) but I also knew that I was drinking way, way too much of the stuff and at really stupid times as well. No wonder I’ve been having problems with my sleep for years.
I’m now limiting my caffeine intake to a maximum of three cups a day and when I do have it, I have it black with NO SUGAR.
It’ll take me a bit of getting used to but it’s worth it.
Cutting Out Sugar This is one of the hardest things for me to cut out of my life, but my body is already starting to feel so much better for it.
For me, cutting out sugar meant the following:
No more sugar or honey in my coffee/tea
No more soft drink
No more desserts
I know that there’s a lot of hidden sugars in one form or another in the food that we eat and therefore cutting out all sugar in my diet would be a challenge but cutting out the usual suspects has already made a huge difference in my life.
Cutting Out Carbs (And Takeaway) That means giving up on pasta, rice, pastries and bread (oh, I really miss pizza)
I didn’t realise how much carbohydrates I was consuming until I decided not to eat them anymore. I was amazed, but it did show me that eating carbs takes far less effort than not eating carbs and I needed to turn that equation around.
I needed to start falling in love with preparing and cooking good food rather than just relying on takeaway which was happening far too often especially since I found myself cooking for one again over the last six months.
Start Walking It was really obvious to me that I wasn’t moving and exercising enough in my day to day life so I’ve been trying to get into the habit of walking for up to 30 minutes a day.
Now besides cutting out the sugar in my life, getting back into some sort of exercise routine has been the biggest challenge (basically because I’m lazy) and it’s something that I’m still working on but, I’ll get there.
Decreasing My Portion Sizes First of all, I don’t go for seconds anymore. Further to that, my first portion sizes were also too big so I’ve been getting into the habit of just halving my normal portion size or, eating off a smaller plate.
From doing this I’ve really noticed that I can still function as a productive and creative human being with far less food in my system.
Experimenting With Intermittent Fasting Now this is the most interesting part. I’ve started to experiment with a concept called Intermittent Fasting.
Now, I’m not going to go into too much detail about it but the first site you come to on Google when you type “Intermittent Fasting” is an article by James Clear on his website called The Beginner’s Guide To Intermittent Fasting which goes into detail about the following:
How Intermittent Fasting works
The benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Examples of Intermittent Fasting protocols
Frequently asked questions about Intermittent Fasting
James Clear defines Intermittent Fasting in this way…
“Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.”
Again, I’m not going to go into all of the in’s and out’s of it but changing my normal eating habits to eating a ketogenic diet (high protein, high (good) fat and low carbs) whilst intermittent fasting has made the most significant difference in my health so far.
Since starting my journey a week ago, I’ve lost five kilos and I do feel very proud of myself.
I’ll keep myself honest and post some more health updates from time to time but I’m not going to obsess about it. I’m just happy that it’s now rather than later (when it can be far too late), that I’m finally doing something about my health.
For a little while now I’ve been thinking about starting up another band to showcase my increasing portfolio of songs that haven’t seen the light of day.
I’ve been testing the waters, keeping one eye open and ear out on the local music scene and even re-joined the board of SCALA (Songwriters, Composers And Lyricists Association), a local/global songwriters association, just to see if the concept of getting yet another band together has some merit.
I mean, I must be some sort of masochist, a glutton for punishment. Another band?
Well, what can I say, I’m really a bass player by trade and right now I’m really missing playing bass to a live audience.
Currently I’m with The Ides Of March playing yacht rock covers and other forgotten hits from the past but the bass playing spot was already taken so I sing and play acoustic guitar and keys instead
I play bass and sing for The Synchronicity Police, (a three piece Police tribute outfit) but those gigs are few and far between at the moment so it doesn’t really count as consistent bass playing in my book.
I’m also filling in as the bass player for a local soul band Soul Sensations and although it’s been a lot of fun and all, I can’t guarantee that I can devote the time needed to become a full member of that band.
This is because I’ve made up my mind… I’m getting the band back together.
Well, I’ll be getting back together with my FIGJAM partner in crime Darren Zaza on guitar in the first instance, but we are looking for a drummer and a keyboard player to make up a four piece that hopes to create music that is the lovechild of The Police and The Badloves.
If you want to hear what the music might sound like, check out my album “Seeing Stars” from SoundCloud below…
I’m pretty excited about all this though because it means that I’m now ready to get back into playing live regularly and consistently so I can expose myself and my songs to a listening audience again.
So, with that being said, if you are either a drummer or a keyboard player or, you know (of) someone who plays drums or keys who’s looking for a band to connect with, then contact me and we can chat about what happens next.
When I was five years old I asked Mum and Dad if I could have piano lessons.
Now, Mum and Dad didn’t have any room in the house for a piano nor, was there enough money to buy one in the first place but that was okay with me… I still had my imagination to play with.
All through my primary school years I was constantly writing stories and poems then, I was making up songs to go with the poems and drawing pictures to go with the stories. Back then I was an unstoppable ball of creative energy.
It wasn’t until I reached high school though that my interest in music really came to the forefront. The school that I went to had a very good music program which I was most keen to get into. It was there that I could really begin to immerse myself in all things music.
The instrument that I wanted to learn was the saxophone, mainly because back in 1983 it was a pretty cool instrument to play. However, they were all snapped up by other students so the next best thing I thought to learn was the clarinet, which I continued to play until I left high school in 1987.
Most of my recess and lunch times were spent in the music room practising my clarinet and teaching myself piano. It was an environment in which I really felt I belonged to and through music theory lessons, I was introduced to sheet music, manuscript paper, treble/bass clefs and a vast array of notes for my imagination to play with.
It was around the same time that I wrote my first song. This was after my best friend Andrew showed me an “A” chord on an old nylon stringed classical guitar which was given to me on my 13th birthday by my Dad (perhaps to compensate not providing me with a piano all those years ago).
This inspired me to teach myself the guitar at home which allowed me to become immersed with music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Add to that the thrill of writing a new song with each discovery of a new chord and my life was pretty much complete.
All of my school friends were budding musicians, my whole life at that time seemed to be revolved around music, it couldn’t get any better than that.
When I left high school music became something that allowed me to escape the day to day pressures of living. Music made my growing up into a young adult a more tolerable experience.
I started up bands which seemed to endlessly rehearse but never played any gigs and at the same time picked up the bass because I could never find a bass player for these endlessly rehearsing bands.
Wherever I was working at the time I’d carry around a small notebook and pen and scrawl down song lyrics and songwriting ideas at every opportunity. I spent the rest of the time daydreaming what it would be like to play music professionally… That was my idea of Heaven on Earth and it was my goal to find it.
My first taste of being a professional musician came in 1994 when I joined a band that was going to relocate to Sydney called the “Chocolate Dogs.”
After playing some awesome warm up/farewell shows in Adelaide, we went to the promised land in convoy with swirling romantic notions in our heads of making it big, bolstered by the fact that the biggest band agency in Sydney at the time had decided to put us on their books.
We decided that nothing would stop us. “We’ll play as a cover band first to get some money coming in then we’ll start an originals band afterwards” we said to ourselves, “yeah sure, we’ll be able to do both.”
The reality was that after being shunted around every corner of Sydney playing in every shitty dive you could ever imagine, the agency dropped us after 18 months on their books. We didn’t know this but at the time but we were “that band from Adelaide” that played the venues that no-one else wanted to play at.
We then tried to make a go at playing our own stuff, the real reason why we all went to Sydney in the first place but with no real Plan B in place, poverty knocking at our door and band members arguing over royalty splits on income not yet realised the band split after one gig.
That experience was very painful, so much so that I gave up playing music and tried to have a go at living in Sydney as a “normal person.” I got a job at Aussie Home Loans and moved up the ranks pretty quickly, found love and moved in to my girlfriend’s place in Leichhardt.
All was going well but I started to feel the music calling at me. It was then that I started missing being a musician, writing songs, performing live and connecting with the muse.
On a whim I went to a weekend songwriting workshop in North Sydney and from there my love affair with music started again. I met up with people who would become the founding members of “Hot Fridge” and “Giffeaux” two bands that saved my life from the beige coloured glasses of mediocrity.
I did however, become pretty obsessed with everything and playing in two bands and trying to hold down a full on relationship and a full time job took a real toll on my mental health.
I had a nervous breakdown in late 1999 and as a consequence of that I came back to Adelaide with my Dad (he flew up the day before to rescue me) and all of my belongings packed into my Mazda 323 station wagon.
The prodigal son had returned with his tail between my legs and the dark cloud of shame and failure hanging over his head.
Even in those really dark times, music never left my side. It would knock on my door but I just wouldn’t let it in. After a few months of not leaving the house (I was living with Mum and Dad at the time) I decided that I’d had enough. Not having music in my life was like living with an amputated limb.
The next time music knocked on my door, I opened it and embraced it with open arms and from that moment on my life became a process of rebuilding.
I was still working casual day jobs but I was also in bands that now had some drive and determination and were wanting to go somewhere. Bands like the Heather Frahn Band, FunkStar and Orangutang
I started to find myself in situations that turned into great opportunities for advancing my music career.
In 2006 I had another opportunity to really make a go at playing music professionally. “Yes it’s a cover band” I said to myself, “but still, I’ll be doing nothing else.”
So, I ran with it and FIGJAM was born. We got our demos together, got out and about and networked like crazy, we played everywhere and for the first time in my life I felt that I was in control of my musical direction plus, I was making a living out of what I loved.
As well as playing in two other original bands at the same time “Liars Bench” and “Soul Trader” I was a self employed, professional musician and I was loving it.
And even though I was doing what I loved at the time, I still came across the same type of ungrateful, difficult, tight-fisted and clueless client/customer that you hear about but think “Nah, I’m a musician, that won’t happen to me.”
But as the years went by and the novelty of being a professional (cover) musician wore thin, I started to realise that in my drive to make a living out of music by playing covers interspersed with the occasional originals gig now and then, I was forgetting the real reason why I wanted to play music in the first place.
I was starting to burn out.
There were however, some bright lights during this time. I finished and released my debut CD “Seeing Stars” in 2012, I made the decision to start building a home recording studio so I can do all my future recordings in-house and I got married to my long time partner Mara who I met at a Liars Bench gig.
But all in all, it was decided that my main musical project FIGJAM would wind up at the end of 2015 and in the vacuum left by that decision had given me some time to think. I realised that I had made pretty much the same mistakes that I made in Sydney all those years ago.
I realised that I didn’t have any balance in my life anymore and that trying to play covers to fund your own music is not as easy as you might think.
So where am I now? Well, I’m doing a lot more songwriting and recording plus collaborating with other songwriters and getting myself reacquainted with my blogging through Corey Stewart Online with more projects to be launched down the track.
For a while I had taken a long break from playing live but now I’m performing with a band called “The Ides Of March” plus, I’ve returned to the board of SCALA (Songwriters, Composers and Lyricists Association) because what better way to ingratiate yourself to the original music scene than to join an original music association.
Have I come full circle? Well, I reckon I have but I’m certainly looking at where I am and what I’m doing musically with a fresh pair of eyes and ears and that’s got to be a good thing.
What I will say though is that despite everything that has happened in my life so far, it’s comforting to know that music has never let me down, its always been there to pick me up, dust me off and be the means for me to get on with my life.
And with what has happened to me in recent months with Mara’s passing, I’m in need of some music therapy more than ever.
I would hate to think of who and where I would be if I didn’t have music in my life. It’s been there for me for as long as I remember and now, I just want to work on being true to myself and my chosen craft so I can create a way in which I can honour and repay the muse.
For anyone who is visiting this site and reading this blog for the very first time, I extend the warmest of welcomes to you.
It’s my goal to keep you coming back for more. More content about my life and the songwriting, music business and home recording components of it.
However, for those of you who have known me either personally or from afar over the years, you’ll see yet another attempt from me to start up Corey Stewart Online only to have it disappear from the internet under the guise of being “under construction” or whatever excuse I can come up with.
I’m not intending to make this post sound like a total beat up on myself however, I am telling the truth here.
I’ve stopped and started many times with my websites and with each version of Corey Stewart Online (and other blogs) created, I’ve crossed my fingers and hoped that this would be the last time that I wipe the online slate clean and start again.
So, what makes this time any different? Nothing really, but I am however, much more motivated than I have been in the past and this is the reason why.
Mara, my partner (and muse) for fifteen years and my wife for almost six, passed away on November 22nd, 2020 and from that moment on, my life irreversibly changed.
Whereas before I was a perfectionist, always willing to wipe the slate clean and start again in the hope that next time around whatever I was working on would be perfect, I am now not so hung up on perfection.
Whereas before I was a control freak, getting upset if the slightest deviation of my planned day was to be experienced, I am now not so hung up on control.
Whereas before I was ultra-competitive to the point of being jealous, not finding the joy in the success of others over my own endeavours, I am now not so hung up on competition.
And what has been the driver of this change?
It’s the fact that life is far, far too short to engage in these empty emotional activities that don’t get you anywhere except a one way ticket to misery and suffering.
As for Corey Stewart Online… Well, this blog is my way of addressing the famous quote from Socrates.
“An unexamined life is not worth living.”
Two of the main things that Mara taught me was to first of all, embrace life with both hands and secondly, to treat other the way that they would want to be treated.
She did this just by living her life and it was an absolute joy to be around her when she was in full Mara mode.
Being in full Mara mode meant that Mara was 100% in the moment, just by being herself. She knew what being her meant because she lived an examined life.
Whereas me, I was still living on autopilot.
I want to live my life in full Mara mode too which means I need to stop living on autopilot and examine, embrace and explore what it really means to be ME.
Hence starting up Corey Stewart Online again but this time I’m not coming at this from a place of ego, I’m coming at this from a place of learning… About myself.
So, if you’re a first time visitor to Corey Stewart Online and first time reader of this blog and you’re still here… Just know that there’s a lot of history attached to this site but at the end of the day, I think we’re going to get along just fine.
For those of you that know me either personally or from afar… Thank you for sticking by me and this time around, I wont let you down.
And Mara, wherever you are… The memories of you that I hold dear will not be in vain. It is now the driving force behind everything that I do.
I have been active participant both on the stage and behind the scenes in the Australian Music Industry for the past 35 years and in that time I’ve learnt a thing or two about songwriting, the music business and home recordinghence this website, Corey Stewart Online.
This site is all about the sharing of experiences and information…
First of all, I’m sharing information about myself, my music and my thoughts about what makes this world tick and everything that is connected with it. I figure that if you’re going to hang out around my part of the internet you might as well get all of me while you’re here.
Personally , I think it’s really important to have an outlet where you share yourself and your creations with the world. I mean, that’s what creativity is all about isn’t it?
Corey Stewart Online is my way of leaving my mark, creating a legacy and imparting information plus highlighting strengths and exposing weaknesses that can be either embraced or improved on by me as I walk along my chosen path.
I’m creating this site for my benefit as well as for my readers. We are all in this together.
Sometimes though, this journey can be a lonely one so if there’s anything that you read that touches, moves, inspires or simply drives you to complain, then contact me and we’ll chat about it.
It will be great to just simply connect with you all.
My intention with Corey Stewart Online is to also be building up my own songwriting services as well but of course there’s no pressure on you to engage in that side of this website if you don’t want to.
Eventually I want Corey Stewart Online to be one of THE reference sites for anything songwriting, music business or, home recording related and that can only happen with input from YOU.
Over time I’ll be expanding into podcasting and videos on YouTube but first things first. Let’s get this website up and running first.
With all is said and done, I take my first step into the unknown… NOW!
Hi there, my name is Corey Stewart and I am a Songwriter, Musician, Producer and Blogger.
I wrote my first song at the age of 13 and ever since then, I’ve written hundreds of other songs, performed in countless bands, played in far too many gigs to remember and experienced all of the highs and lows of being a performing songwriter and musician in Australia.
As you may have guessed, I have a deep love and passion for the craft of songwriting both for myself and in the encouragement of other songwriters to be the best that they can be.
You’ll find out how deep that passion is for songwriting through this blog where I will also talk about the music business, home recording and everything else that makes up the complex character of ME.
As well as being a songwriter, I have been an active participant in the music industry for over 35 years and throughout that time I have judged many songwriting contests and band competitions, taught guitar and bass, been a musical director for touring bands and worked in numerous recording studios as a session musician for hire.
My latest love affair has been with SongMachine, my very own home recording studio and I’m perpetually fascinated with how the songwriting and the recording processes overlap each other.
I used to be scared of the recording studio and my ability to work in it but nowadays, I certainly look at the recording studio the same way as the great Brian Eno does… As a stand alone instrument to be manipulated in infinite ways.
My overriding goal is to write more songs, play more gigs, meet more like minded creatives all over the world and generally take every opportunity that comes my way for me and my music with both hands and ride the wave that is this new music business.
Personally, I have no idea where I will end up but it’s sure going to be a lot of fun finding out and Corey Stewart Online will be my document to that journey.