Auditioning for the X Factor

It is 6AM, and I am not standing in the rain. This is a beautiful thing. I spent the last two days observing how TV producers can use cult tactics to prove that humans will behave like cattle as long as they might get on TV.

The X Factor is Coming to Providence!

Wow! …What’s the X Factor? Is this good? Yes. It is good. In modern times it is part of the performing artist’s journey to try out for shows like these. The thought is something like this:

I’m amazing. People should want to watch me. I need media attention to show them that. I am at the mercy of Simon Cowell. Please tell me I am good. Please.

Some people are exactly what those TV producers are looking for. Yes, you have to be talented, but more importantly, you must fit the criteria they are looking for for their TV show. It is a big TV production, people. So spin those umbrellas and get soaked in the rain, because you could get famous and we need the footage, you good little cattle.

My Experience, Pre-registration day

I’ve never seen the X factor. I still have not seen the X factor. Why? Because I do not watch television. Honestly, I would probably watch the show. I like shows like that. I used to watch American Idol. I only remember a handful of people from American Idol including the squinty guy whose name I don’t remember and whose music I have never listened to. (I googled him just now, and his name is Clay Aiken). So when I heard that X Factor was coming, I didn’t really think that I would try it. If it were in Boston, I almost certainly would not have tried out. But then a friend suggested it. My first thought was that I am NOT what X Factor is looking for. I’m just that married white chick who prefers to perform with a guitar and says something awkward every time you see her. Then I realized that NOT trying out would be dumb. Plain dumb. I could practically walk to the auditions, I don’t have a job to get fired from, and it was a 1 in 100,000 chance at getting a 5 million dollar record deal. What really solidified it for me was finding out that L.A. Reid is a judge. I was starstruck. I was in. So several months in advance, I begged my mother to babysit for two days.

Cardi’s Skip the Line Competition and Song Selection

When I sing, I play guitar. It gives me something to sing along to, allows me to choose my key, offers me security and makes me look awesome. Naturally, I bring my guitar along when I play out. At the very least I use my leg as a drum. When I went online to pre-register for X Factor, I also read the rules. As soon as my eyes saw “A capella” I was perplexed. It wasn’t because I had always thought it was one word that started with the letter ‘o’. It was because I had no idea what I was going to do with my hands. I had tried to do the Christina Aguilera flailing arm thing at one point in my life and it just distracted me to the point where I got lost in the song. The good thing is that dilemmas like these never keep me from trying stuff. I am not afraid to look stupid on national television.

Webcams are good because not only can you see how you look when you perform, but you can send it to other people and ask what they think. I recorded two youtube videos of sample audition songs and another begging for people to watch them and tell me which they prefer. The majority preferred Summertime, so I chose that the song. A little while later I found out that Cardi’s Furniture was hosting a competition that would allow you to skip the line for the X Factor audition. This was appealing to me because I didn’t want to stand in line and it would be good practice. So I got another babysitter and stood in line at Cardi’s. This was the beginning of my journey of standing in line. There were some fun people around me and I never shut up the entire time. My feet were cold. Everyone was cold. I never wanted to be cold again. Can we just go inside the building already?! It’s big enough to hold all 200 of us. Sheesh!

I registered and even got myself a .2 second clip on the Rhode Show while registering. Then I went up an escalator and got really really really really nervous. This is the point when I realized that eating gluten for two months had been a terrible idea because it makes me get the shakes really easily. They brought us into a room full of chairs and sorted us into two groups. You could hear one loud Adelle audition after another through the thin walls. The line got shorter and shorter. The judges decided to take a bathroom break right before Spogga Hash was going to audition. He was standing in front of me in line for 3 hours. I had no idea that he was a talented and well known person until I got home and googled him.

You had 60 seconds to sing. Summertime happened to be a 60 second song. When I got into the audition room, I felt nervousness hit my throat. As a singer, this was a bad place for it to hit. At least if it hit my foot or something, that would be entertaining. I imagine I kinda looked like a toy soldier as I tried to sing and calm myself down at the same time. Then I left the room. We all returned at 7 to hear who got the skip the line passes. They were so good that I almost considered giving up at that point. I enjoyed their little concert and then I went home and added new strategy to my plan. I had learned quite a few things that day.

1) You need a song that gives you good stage presence. If you can’t get into it and move your arms to it, don’t sing it.
2) Wear warm clothes, particularly warm socks.
3) Bring water and don’t drink it. You’ll be thirsty but you will have to pee.
4) Ask the guy in front of you in line if he is very talented and well known. Exchange contact information.

Registration Day

The day before registration became hectic once I realized that I needed to buy snacks, drive my kids to my mother’s house, drive back to Rhode Island, have a dance class AND eat and sleep. We were late for dance class and I skipped most of the sleep part. The alarm went off at 3 AM. I snoozed it. Then I got out of bed, saw my face in the mirror and realized that I should still be asleep. I did the shower thing, put on layers of clothes, ate some food and got into the car with Dave who was kind enough to get up in the middle of the night with me.


To see other photos click here.

There were already a ton of people there at 5 AM. I estimate that I was somewhere between 300th and 400th in line. It was raining. Luckily I was wearing hiking socks, rubber boots, long johns, jeans, a t-shirt, a winter coat and a poncho. I couldn’t find an umbrella because I had hidden them all from my children and therefor myself. This turned out to be a good thing because the people with umbrellas got very wet and got other people very wet. I just faced toward the ground and stayed dry except at my hands, knees and neck. I think I was the warmest of all of us. There were four 19 year old males from Warwick next to me who must have popped out of bed and said, “Hey, let’s go try out for the X Factor.” They had no coats, no food, and nothing to keep them dry. I took pictures of water dripping off of their faces. To my right was a family from Ohio that were there just to give their daughter an idea of what she needed to improve on. Behind me was a girl group named Refined 313. They didn’t talk much. There was a woman with her niece from New York who had gone to a Korn concert the night before. Near me also was another woman from New York who was there with her mother who walked with a cane. There was also a well prepared teacher from East Providence. I spent many wet hours with these people. They did not want to sing We Will Rock you with me, but we did talk. We even talked about the rain. The line moved forward 2 feet at one point. Then it didn’t move again until around 10. I guess they had us broken into sections and the line didn’t move forward when people went inside. This led to hopelessness, screaming, chanting and the holding of the bladder. By 10:30 we got inside, gave our two forms of ID and got a ticket and a bracelet.

Now I had what I’d been waiting for, but no ride home and it was raining. I called my friend Penelope who saved me. We went to the Sandwich Hut and got my car and some food. I went home and took a nap which seemed like a total waste of kid-free time, but was much needed. Band practice was planned for that night so I moved it earlier and sang gentle songs. We planned to perform at the Spot Underground open mic this Tuesday. Then I got my clothes out and went to bed.

Audition Day

The alarm went off at 5. I was really feeling dance class in my legs today. This was the big day but it would be easier because we were all going to line up at 7 and then go straight inside to our seat. It would be cake.

Wrong. I got there at 6:30 and they made us squish together. It was pouring this time. People with British accents were speaking over the PA. “Get closer together. Your umbrellas will connect and you will all stay dry.” The lady behind me asked a security guard when they would be opening the doors and he told us it wouldn’t be until after 11. WHAT?! Why did we have to be there at 7 if the doors wouldn’t open until 11?!?!?!?!?

?!?!??!?!?!??!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!??!?!

Because there were empty cars to wave at. That’s why. They needed the footage. They wanted us to dance around. They wanted us to twirl our umbrellas at the same time. They wanted us to close them and open them. This makes everyone much wetter than they were. They wanted us to put on makeup first. That was silly. We did this for hours. Then they had us cheer for empty vehicles escorted by police which were to represent the judges. That felt silly. I ate rice cakes and jumped around. I almost lost my eyes on umbrellas a few times. There were new people around me this time. We exchanged numbers.

It was 11:30 when we finally got to go inside. They had to search our bags for food before we went in. We couldn’t bring it in. I did, however, because I have food allergies and could prove it. But who wanted to eat when they were about to audition? I went in the bathroom and sang. I heard that was what you were supposed to do. I went to my seat. The guy to the right of me had auditioned for this season of the X Factor at every single audition place. He had made it all the way through all stages of the auditions at every single audition location and was just waiting for his call back. To my left was a mother with her very pretty 13 year old child actress and singer daughter. There were some nice people behind me. One 13 year old with a great personality was almost to tears with anticipation. There was a man from New Bedford who played in bands. Almost every person who was with me in line the day before hadn’t shown up this day. I put my Cookie Monster backpack in one of the empty seats.

In the middle of the floor were 36 audition booths which were made out of black sheets in the shape of a square with one open side. They were lining people into four rows in preparation for the auditions. By 2PM I was in one of these lines. I was doing great. I honestly didn’t know what they were looking for and didn’t believe I was it, so this wasn’t the biggest deal to me. I’d be fine. I had a mild tremor, but everyone around me was shaking. Grown men were telling me they were cold. It was cold, but not that cold.

I was amazed at the talent. Immediately before me to my left, a man auditioned. He was a gorgeous, strong, lean, young black man with perfect long braided hair and a voice that made me want to hug him and cry. They told him, “No.” THEY TOLD HIM, “NO.” OMG, can I please find him and get his number because I want to listen to him every day?! They told him “No.” To my right, a girl auditioned who was not nearly as good and she was hardly through the song and they told her, “Yes,” and she screamed and ran away with her gold ticket.

The gold tickets. They gave a ton of them out. One for every strangely dressed person. One to half of the over 30 white males. One to quite a few of the young black girls. A few to large white girls. I saw an obvious pattern. They were clearly looking for a certain part to fill. They gave out so many gold tickets that I knew there would be a lot of sad people the next day when they narrowed them down. They were filling a part for a TV show. A lot of the talent in the room was unnecessary to them. If you did get a gold ticket, I am really excited for you.

I got in my booth and the judge man asked how I was doing. He asked what I do for a living. He made a face when I said I was married. I sang Aretha Franklin’s “Think” and nailed it. The judge said, “No.” I said, “Thank you,” and got my wrist band cut. People kept saying, “Sorry,” and I didn’t know why. Thousands auditioned. Few were chosen. This was to be expected. I had a really fun time. Even in the rain, the conversation was fun. It was a new and unusual experience that I will never forget. I am glad to have had the opportunity. My only regret is that I didn’t get that guy’s name and contact information because he was SUCH a good singer. (Should have learned from my Cardi’s experience, huh?)

They had us leave the building immediately. I talked to a few people outside. Several of them had gotten a Yes. They were very excited and felt awkward when I said I hadn’t. *giggles* I took a bus home. My sister brought my kids back to me few minutes later. I was glad to have them. Last night I dreamed that my mother, cousin and sister-in-law had gotten golden tickets and I was jealous. I have funny dreams. I woke up really wanting to blog. So I did.

Click here to see some pictures We weren’t allowed to take them in the building. You are welcome to share my blog, also.


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X Factor Pictures

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Tammy Laforest Vlog May 7, 2012

TammyJeanL’s Webcam Video from May 7, 2012 12:47 PM

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Nipples

Do you know how hard it is to get attention? Your act could cover an audience in goosebumps and make them cry and then they’d walk away and not so much as like your facebook page. That is life, I suppose, especially in Rhode Island. I really do appreciate your attention. Are you reading this because I used “nipples” as the title? I’m glad it worked.

I’ve been blogging for eleven years. I’ve learned that some blog sites get more followers than others. This wordpress.org site doesn’t get a lot of them. What it does get is hundreds of spam comments. That is why you now need to give me a lot of information before you can comment. But of you comment, surely you deserve a gold sticker.

Last Thursday I went up to Boston to be on UNregular radio‘s uncensored Boston Local Music Show. It was quite the adventure. I thought I had it all planned out, but it turned out that I didn’t. I brought the children to my grandmother so she could watch them while I was away. About ten minutes too late I realized I’d left my cellphone in my bathrobe pocket. The train was scheduled to come at 10, and I was supposed to be at the train station by 9:45 to meet my mother (Holly Connors) who would be accompanying me and taking pictures. It was 9:10. According to google maps, it would take me 22 minutes to get from Manville to South Attleboro. I decided to be crazy and drive all the way back to Providence. The contact information for Dave Crespo of UNregular radio was in my phone and I didn’t want to be without it. Sure enough, I had a missed call from my mother. “Mom, I’m leaving my house right now,” was not what she wanted to hear, but I managed to get there and get a parking spot by 9:38. And I didn’t even drive like a psycho. I think it was a Wrinkle in Time moment. Really.

Both of us stared at the parking thing in shock that it wanted dollar bills. We said a little prayer and searched our purses and had just enough. We learned that you could buy tickets at Shaws but it had closed and luckily you could just buy them on the train. The train came ten minutes early just as we were walking to the platform. Then it left 9 minutes early. It turned out that we were the luckiest women alive.

My mother and I have some of the most interesting conversations and sometimes I think we forget that we are in public. Luckily the people around us were at least pretending to listen to whatever was coming out of their earbuds. The train ride went by really quickly and we were aware that we would have over an hour to kill when we got there so it was relaxing.

South Station had closed the women’s room right as all of the trains arrived at the same time. At least that is how the line looked. Luckily for us we had only consumed a large iced tea, a coffee, a soda and a large case of water so we were fine. But we did choose to wait in line at the other secret rest room at the top of the stairs. We met some interesting people and had interesting conversations about how badly we had to pee. Women rebuked other women for taking too long in the bathroom and several women became criminals that day as they tried to break into the men’s room which was locked because they didn’t need it to be unlocked. We comforted ourselves with the idea that there might be a gigantic three headed dog in there and we didn’t really want it unlocked anyway. When it was time to leave there we kissed and hugged all of our new friends and exchanged e-mails because it really had been a bonding experience. We had washed our hands first, of course.

It was amazing how quickly time had moved and we barely had time to eat now. Wow. So we found the road that the radio station was on and got the closest food we could. I ordered one slice of pizza which turned out to be several slices that they forgot to cut apart. I ate it like cookie monster and then inspected myself in the mirror. I looked just fine. When we stepped out of the building we searched for numbers on the others. We knew it had to be close by. Our brains automatically skipped over the condemned looking building with the kickboxing sign on it. Surely that wasn’t it.

It was. Sure enough it was. We reluctantly crossed the road and reluctantly opened the door and reluctantly went up the stairs. The hardest door to open was opened by someone else for us and we were nearly knocked over by smoke. That’s all I will say about the smoke because, you know, they talk about their views just enough for you to figure out what kind of smoke it was. We very reluctantly stepped into the room which actually looked really cool. Immediately we were greeted with, “You look really nervous.” To which we replied something like if your building looked any creepier you could use it as a haunted house. My mother offered her business card for her mural painting service and I really hope they take her up on it. They mentioned something about getting raped in an alley and offered us a seat and some water in Kony cups, though I assure you they will not be covering the night on 4/20.

The room was mass chaos. Big Bad Bobby and the Shoe Horns was setting up for a live performance on air. Dave from the Doctor’s Fox was eating a sandwich while sitting in a wheel chair. A few minutes later he got up and a guy from Haverhill Brewery came in and sat in the wheel chair as he set up a beer tasting. I tried the Commuter Ale. Very nice.

I met some people and then it was my turn to go in the actual room with the microphones and stuff.

I was in the room with several people including Dave from the Doctor’s Fox, Dex Ter, DAve Crespo, my mother and some other guy that was really funny but I didn’t ever get his name. We got to talking about Vodka Soaked Tampons somehow. *glares at Mom* And it was really a lot of fun. Then we went on air and they decided to ask me yes or no questions to which I gave yes or no answers which probably isn’t what they were going for, but I can’t change the past. Here is the podcast. Podcast segment UNregular Radio 4:12:12

I performed a song, then Big Bad Bobby and the …ahhh forget it. I am too tired to type the rest. They performed for 15 minutes and then I performed one more song. They called it a musical sandwich. Apparently I am bread. We said our goodbyes and it was kill some time and back on the train for us.

That night I got to play at the Mediator Stage in the 4 Corners with Scott Lewis as host, Alex Agronick and Mike Scudieri.

I got to play djembe and sing backup for Alex Agronick on his breaking all the rules song. He played baritone guitar and sang back up for mine. He took video. Keep an eye out for when I post it. You can see some fantastic pictures of that show here.

____________________________

From the Mediator Stage, an mp3 recording of the debut of “I’m Alive” Lyrics Here
Written by Tammy Laforest Schneider. Guitar and Lead vocals by Tammy Laforest. Baritone guitar and backup vocals by Alex Agronick. Recorded live by Scott M. Lewis.

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Hiring Update

Here is the update to my now hiring ad:

I am quite pleased with the members that have joined so far. The positions for drummer, bass and rhythm guitar are filled. I am still looking for someone to play a lead instrument. If you only play guitar, I am not interested. Sorry! If you play lead guitar AND another instrument such as piano or violin and especially cello, please e-mail me. E-mail TammyLaforest@gmail.com

Do not e-mail me if you have not listened to my music and watched my videos. You must enjoy my stuff because that is what we will be playing! It will change once you are part of it, but it won’t change THAT much.

In regards to a dance/club/pop band, it doesn’t seem to be the time for it. However, if you come to me with the intention of working on that type of music, I will consider it because it is my favorite.

http://tammylaforest.com/now-hiring/

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White Paper

This morning I decided to pick up my guitar and finish some songs. I have two that I am working on today. They have melodies and guitar parts, and I just need to write the lyrics. I thought I would change things up a little bit and just sit down and write from my head instead of using my guitar. So I moved the legos to one side of the table and the dishes of partially eaten breakfast to the other and found a spot that wasn’t wet or sticky and put my two pieces of plain white paper down on the table. Then I sat down with a blue pen and stared at the paper. My songs usually write themselves and in the usual fashion the first song did, but I was appalled at how corny and poppy it was as it appeared in imaginary writing on the paper. I refuse to write it down in real ink, but surely it is a hit because it made me gag a little. I just need to humble myself and …no I can’t do it.

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Help Me Choose an Audition Video

Today I made videos instead of doing all of the other stuff I should have been doing. Help me choose Continue reading

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the X Factor online audition Tammy Laforest Summertime

Tammy Laforest singing Summertime for the X Factor online auditions

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the X Factor online audition Tammy Laforest Cry Me a River

Tammy Laforest singing Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River for online X Factor auditions.

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Something’s missing.

It is awesome to finally have a band. I love when the ideas in my head combine with the ideas in the other band members’ heads. The music comes out so smooth and awesome sounding. The old songs sound good and the new songs sound even better because I can write them for a band instead of just writing for my voice and an acoustic guitar. Think vocal harmonies and solo sections. The only problem is that my lead guitar sounds like a 5 year old learning Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Why? Because something is still missing. I am not a lead guitarist. Somewhere in the world there is that perfect other band member just waiting for fate to bring us together. Violin, piano, lead guitar…something.

But the music does sound pretty great as it is. Ben DeCastro is playing drums for the band now. He also has another band called Smoke & Ginger. Ben understands the songs before I even play them. As you know, Conor Rochford plays bass in the band. But what I haven’t told you is that he also has another band called Hierarchy in which he is lead singer and bassist. One band practice we discovered that these guys can harmonize like a classic rock band, and now I set up microphones for all of us. I can’t help but smile when I hear “WHYYYYYYYYYYYyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”

Speaking of that song in particular, it will be debuting April 12 at the Mediator Stage in its acoustic form. Alex Agronick will be singing the back up vocals that night, and I will be singing them for his songs. More about that event here: Breaking All the Rules. You are welcome to RSPV on that page if you are thinking of coming. The song is called “I’m Alive”. It had a different name once upon a time, but it became pretty obvious that this name was more suitable. You’ll see.

I look forward to debuting the song with the full band and to debuting the band itself. We need a name. Tammy Laforest and the ____________. Any thoughts?

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Hello, Spammers

I have gotten so many spam comments that I thought I would write another post. Hello, spammers and trolls. I love you.

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