T H E   E A R L Y  S O L O  Y E A R S
After the break up of my second band Troia I hit a low. I believed so much in the band I couldn’t see a path forward without my bandmates. The loss of the sound we’d created was like the loss of a best friend. I didn’t play an instrument at the time, so in losing the band I also lost my ability to express my ideas instrumentally.

Eventually I picked myself up, bought a guitar, took a big step back and started back at the beginning. I found my singing suffered while I taught myself to play. Even today I find my singing isn’t always as good when I’m holding a guitar but back then it was incredibly hard. I went from playing venues to playing open mics, trying to scrape something together that sounded passable. It took several years.

Looking back I learned a great lesson from the band falling apart. It’s two fold. First off, other people don’t always share your level of commitment toward a goal. Everyone is on their own path in life and sometimes your paths cross or become aligned for a time. It’s best to be incredibly grateful for what people have to offer, rather than resentful for what they don’t. I also learned never to depend on others to express your creative vision. Being self sufficient puts you in a more secure place. Now no one can take away my ability to play the guitar and sing. I can express my vision without being dependent on someone else and there’s no one to blame if I don’t succeed except for myself!

Before I became a solo musician I was in a band with two other women called Troia. Formed in Tucson, Arizona we relocated to San Francisco and played around at local clubs for several years in the late 1990’s with bands like Sleeptime Gorilla Museum and Faun Fables. Classical upright bassist Ashley Adams, electric bassist (with loopstation) Leigh Coonce and I made up the trio. At the time I didn’t play an instrument.

We released one full length cassette tape (yes it was that long ago) and more memorably a single entitled Pearls recorded live to tape by Dan Rathbun at Polymorph in Oakland. Unfortunately we broke up without recording a full length that captured what we spent years creating. Ashley went on to become a successful classical and free jazz performer and Leigh became a photographer. I took this photo of Leigh for our tape artwork. It owes a lot of it’s look to Ashley’s friend Alina Young who inspired us with her amazing black and white water pictures.

by Odessa Chen by Odessa Chen

Download Pearls by visiting the store section of this website.

Port was the true beginning. My very first band formed in the basement of the classical music department at the University of Arizona, Port was a full band with an extra bassist (one classical upright and one electric). We made some home recordings out in a shed in the dessert to 4 track tape and played around town at what small clubs we could find. I was just learning to sing and had no earthly idea how to write a song, but I had a love of poetry and a very strong desire to try to make something beautiful. When I look back I think about what a nice group of people I lucked into finding. Our band had no fights, egos or difficulties, but we did have fun. Port was Steven Frailey, Steven Butler, Erik Novak, Ashley Adams, and myself.

Copyright © Odessa Chen 2015