Sunday, August 1, 2010
What's in a name? What do your parents call you? How about your friends and family? Do you have a name shared by many others? Do you use your full name, or a nickname? Would you change your name?
I asked some of today's well known trance vocalists to tell us about their names. Keep reading for well considered thoughts from Emma Hewitt, Betsie Larkin, Aruna, Tiff Lacey, Linnea Schossow, Szen, Meighan Nealon, Michelle K, Elsa Hill, Emma Lock, Lorilee DeSchryver, and Marcie. Do their names mean to themselves what they mean to you?
Most people go by more than one name in their day to day life. Pseudonyms and aliases exist all over in cyberspace, where we assume an online persona; whether it be a full fledge avatar for online gaming, or a slight variation on the name our parents gave us. In a way, picking a screenname is akin to getting a tattoo. It's a mark of identity that we select ourselves at one point in time, share publicly, (and may regret at a later age!)
A name often tells people about our status in society, our chosen profession, etc. When a medical student graduates, they are able to put “Dr.” in front of their name, signifying the level of competence they have achieved. Elders are predicated with special titles, as a show of respect. Lovers become 'honey' or 'babe', or have special nicknames for each other that exist in context only within the relationship and signify an intimate bond. A DJ sticks two letters in front of his or her name to distinguish what they do with music.
Sometimes performers take a stage name in order to separate their artistic self from their day to day self, and the name is worn like a costume to help them inhabit their character and their art more fully. A performer often dons not only costumes on stage and in videos, but has a name that takes on a larger than life identity all its own: Think Madonna, Prince, Armin, or Elvis. Sometimes Artists change their names when they change styles, as a tool of reinvention, or as a declaration of change and growth in their skills, taste, and style.
A signature documents an interaction. We sign our names to contracts, and we collect autographs of those we admire. An autograph marks a time and place, and somehow gives the recipient's own name greater status by association. How often do you hear people in all walks of life name dropping to get a step up, find common ground, or garner respect? Being allowed to refer to someone by a more personal diminutive or moniker, rather than their formal name signifies rank, and distinguishes a relationship from casual to close.
I don’t think there exists a comprehensive listing of the meanings of every name in existence. But here are some sites to check out if you are curious about etymology.
The etymology & history of first names: http://www.behindthename.com/nmc/ind.php
This Wikipedia page with a list of popular names around the world, based on region: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_popular_given_names
An article describing how different languages and cultures form names: http://www.langmaker.com/ml0103a.htm
QUESTIONS & ARTIST RESPONSES:
Question 1: What is your full name? What is your Nickname? Is it different than your stage name? If so, how did you choose your stage name?
EMMA HEWITT: My full name is Emma-Louise Hewitt. My first name is hyphenated, which makes it a little long, so I always dropped the second part of it. I only got called by my full name when I was in trouble. I never had a stage name, as the first dance track I released was under my real name, so I just decided to keep it that way. It would have been nice to have come up with some kind of creative stage name, but I never gave it much thought until after I had released some tracks. So I guess I am just plain old me! ;)
BETSIE LARKIN: My legal name is Elizabeth, but my parents decided to have me go by Betsie. I'm not the only Elizabeth that goes by Betsie, though I admit, the two names are almost completely different. Now I can't imagine being called Elizabeth... I feel more like a Betsie :)
Tiffany Dixon Cook. Tiffers is a pet name. One of my friends always used to call me Dixey as she found my middle name hilarious. Ironically before I met my husband I used to get called TC (TopCat), which is weird as now technically I am TC. I suppose Tiff Lacey is my stage name, but as it is my maiden name it doesn't really seem like a stage name as such.
MARCIE: My real first name and stage name has always been Marcie. I had a few nicknames growing up…'Peanut' and 'Giggles' are two, because I was tiny for my age, and laughed a lot. I remember going to camp as a kid, and the administrators asked parents to write down camper's nicknames. They most likely meant if your full name was 'Elizabeth', to let them know if you were a 'Beth' or a 'Liz'. My dad wrote down 'Peanut', and when I showed up on the first day, my name tag read, 'Hi, my name is Peanut'. I was horrified!! I made them change it as quickly as possible, since at that point I felt much too old to be called Peanut.(I think I was six years old. Hahaha!)
LINNEA SCHÖSSOW: My name is Linnea Schössow. It’s not so different than my stage name ;) since the two dots over my o is the only thing taken away from my stage name…nickname, humm…some people call me Lin or just Schössow. Why I choose my name as a stage name well…I dunno I guess it works fine as it is...I didn’t have other names in my mind.
MICHELLE RICHER: My real name is Michelle Koeth. My stage name is different - it's Michelle Richer. Richer is a family name on the French-Canadian side of my family. I chose Richer as a stage name since I admire French culture, and wanted to identify further with my French roots (which include a distant relation to Celine Dion - she's a twelfth cousin).
MEIGHAN NEALON: Okay, so I was told that I spelled my name wrong in elementary school, but I'd always argue that it wasn't spelled wrong, and that it was just a unique way of spelling it. Anyway, M E I G H A N is very common for the last name of a man and woman. It's of a Welsh origin. I like to think the meaning is BEAUTIFUL TREE. By coincidence, the name also has a meaning in Mandarin. The first syllable MEI sounds like Beautiful, the second syllable GHAN sounds like TREE. So it means, beautiful tree.
I have a few nick names. I remember one being "Extra" (I guess I had lots of energy). My aunt used to call me that. My sister still calls me Gordan. That was a name from a victim in some horror film that the monster was after. She always whispers "Gggooordan" to get me scared (maybe on youtube I can tell you how she says it…!creepy!). It's really funny actually. I call her it too, probably more than by her real name. And, my cousins call me Egumss, still not sure why, but they make it sound really funny and I like it.
EMMA LOCK: My full Name is Emma Lock, nickname Em's,
I kept my stage name as my real name as I tried having stage names and it was just weird as people in the street called me by it, and I was getting confused; and business banking was hard too, as if I had two personalities. So it’s just me, Emma Lock...
ARUNA: Aruna Abrams. I used to call myself Rue during my teenage years after I got tired of people mispronouncing, misspelling and/or making fun of Aruna.
LORILEE: Lorilee Patricia DeSchryver..stage name.."Lorilee"
ELSA HILL: Full name is Elsa Hill.
SZEN:My real name is Sandra (pronounced in the English version and with a rolling r (as we use in Holland). Most of my friends call me San (pronounced Son), or Sannie (pronounced Sunny). Some people call me or Sennie or Sen (as in sand without the d).
On stage with my band I don’t use a stage name. People know me as Sandra. As with the band I mainly sing soul and rock I really wanted to have a different name and image for the trance/dance scene. The name Szen was easy to pick. My little niece (who I love to bits) always calls me Sen or Sennie. Her name is Krista and I always call her Sis or Sissie. Due to the link to my niece, the name Sen makes me smile. I wanted to add something extra and as trance music makes a person "zen" the name Szen seemed logical. I think it suits me and what I do as a trance/dance vocalist.
QUESTION 2: Are you named after anyone in particular? Why did your parent(s)/guardian(s) choose to give you your name? Does it have a specific origin or meaning for them?
EMMA HEWITT: I think my parents got Emma-Louise from the country singer Emmy-Lou Harris. My Dad and Granpa always called me Emmy-Lou when I was young.
ELSA HILL: Grandma's name was Eleanor. Mom looked under El in a book for naming children and found Elsa.
MARCIE: My parents named me after my grandmother's oldest sister, Mabel Julia. My grandmother was the youngest of 8 siblings, and suffered the loss of both her parents before she was 10 years old. Her siblings shared the job of raising her, but she was closest to her eldest sister, Mabel Julia, who was like a mother to her. My mom decided not to use that name exactly, as she worried the name would sound too old fashioned. She chose Marcie Joy since it had the same initials, and 'Joy' because it seems she was very happy to have me. :)
LINNEA SCHÖSSOW: Well Linnea is the name of a little pink flower which got the name from the famous Carl Von Linne who was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. I have no idea why my parents choose this name for me but i guess they thought it fit me. Schössow is a common name from Germany.
TIFF LACEY: I am named after a track called "A Gem From Tiffany" by Shelly Manne - it's jazz baby yeah ;0) My Dad named me. I don't know what was going on in his head at the time but I was the only Tiffany for a long time, not so much now. I'd like to think I was the original; I'm certainly old enough to be LOL ;)
ARUNA: The name was suggested by my Indian godfather, who named me after his daughter. In Hindi it means "sunrise", as in Indian mythology Arun was the driver of the chariot that pulled Surya the sun god across the sky. Aruna is the female version.
EMMA LOCK: My Parents liked the name I guess nothing more than that, it was quite popular at the time.
LORILEE DeSCHRYVER: My name was picked from a song in the 70's...it said "pretty Lorilee" in it. It wasn't a big hit, my parents owned the 45 record of it and I listened to it when I was about 5 yrs old.
SZEN: No, there’s no special meaning behind it. They just liked the name and thought it sounded nice combined with my sisters name (Marjan).
QUESTION 3: What does your name mean to you?
ELSA HILL: My name means "unique" to me.
MARCIE: I read in a baby name book, that the origin of my name means 'warlike'. I don't think I'm a warlike person, and a 'Warlike Joy' is a funny concept, so I’m sure my parents didn’t intend that. However, my parents did raise me to be strong minded. I am a fighter for the things I believe in, but I don’t believe that war is the answer to the world’s problems. I like that my name is connected to a relative who was a caring and maternal figure. I wish she had lived long enough for me to meet her.
When I introduce myself as 'Marcie' to people whom I suspect know my music, I feel much differently than when I introduce myself to people who I'm pretty sure would not know to connect my name to music. I understand that my identity is tied up with 'Marcie, the artist'. Hearing a fan call my name out is a lot different than hearing my mom do so. When my mom uses my name, I know that my name signifies my lifetime worth of interactions with her, and has much more nuance than my stage name. I work to be authentic in my art, but as all art is representative, my stage name will never encompass all sides of me.
LINNEA SCHÖSSOW: What my name means to me…well haha i dunno..I guess it’s my signature :)
MEIGHAN NEALON: I always keep an open, positive mind. I appreciate everything, and everyone around me. I do things that make me happy and healthy. With this beautiful attitude, it will allow me to grow, like a tree.
TIFF LACEY: Confusion. I get called Stefanie, Trish or other things. I'm rarely called by my full name (Tiffany). By my close circle, i.e. family and friends, Tiff is more comfortable to me. It always seemed I was in trouble when I got called Tiffany ;) I learned a while back that my name actually derives from Epiphany which may be why I feel so connected to Christ.
QUESTION 4: Are you happy with your name? (i.e., do you think it suits you? Were you ever made fun of for your name?) If not, what would you prefer?
EMMA HEWITT: I guess it suits me, I have always been called it, so it would be strange to be called any other name I suppose. I would have liked a cooler name like Coco or a boy's name like Charlie or Jamie perhaps, but I can't see myself as any of those...
TIFF LACEY: I think my name suits me but I'm definitely a Tiff rather than a Tiffany. I did get made fun of, but it was character building. Kids can be gits to each other, I'm sure I was no angel either ;)
MARCIE: I am used to being the only Marcie in most groups, and I've liked that privilege. I don't meet many other Marcie's, and if I do, they rarely spell their name the same way. When I was a kid, I sometimes wished my last name started with a letter higher up in the alphabet because it seemed teachers often called names in alphabetical order, and I had to wait too long to be called. If I think too much about my name, it starts to feel quite abstracted and distant. Sometimes I feel weird saying my name out loud as I'm definitely used to hearing it more than saying it.
EMMA LOCK: My name means Treasure Lake... I am happy with my name. It’s simple and easy to remember.
ARUNA: So much of our identity and our past I feel is bound up in our names, especially for me I guess because mine is so unique and also because it’s my stage name. Sometimes as a spiritual exercise I try dissociating from my name, and just sort of feel my own soul, without any labels. It helps me to discover who it is that’s sitting behind these eyes looking out at the world if I’m not constantly putting that person in a box. At the same time, I feel a lot of love and honor towards my name, since it’s a reflection of myself.
LORILEE DeSCHRYVER: Hmm...To me it feels like a positive name...Like the color yellow.
SZEN: I am not really that connected to the name Sandra. People that call me Sandra are often people that are not that close. People that are close to me always use my nicknames.
BETSIE LARKIN: I was made fun of a bit when I was grade school for my name. People would say that Betsie was a cow's or a dog's name. I didn't let it bother me and I think as a result it didn't continue. I think the name Betsie calls up images of the south (I did grow up in Texas)... "Betsie's" would be a good name for a diner that serves pie and root beer floats.
ELSA HILL: I like my name and really felt is was convenient while growing up. The worst the kids could tease me with was "Elsa...salsa!"
LINNEA SCHÖSSOW: Sure I’m happy with my name..no, nobody made fun of my name :) They have just difficulties to pronounce my last name correctly.
MICHELLE KOETH: My nickname to close friends is "Michy" (Mish-ee) and I feel as though this better suits me than the longer and more serious sounding "Michelle." I like to think although I can be serious, analytical and intense sometimes, in total, I'm just kind of a casual goofy person. I like to entertain people and make them laugh also whenever possible. Michy has this goofy prankster ring to it that sounds about right to me.
MEIGHAN NEALON: I always keep an open positive mind. I appreciate everything and everyone around me. I do things that make me happy and healthy. With this beautiful attitude, it will allow me to grow, like a tree.
EMMA LOCK: I guess you don't get to choose your name like you don't get to choose you, family, and your life- you just learn to love them, just like you learn to love your name and yourself in life
ARUNA: I am now. In fact I feel blessed to have such a unique and exotic sounding name. It works great as a stage name and a brand, and somehow seems to fit perfectly with the sound of my voice and the more uplifting, sensual kind of dance music I do.
LORILEE DeSCHRYVER: I love my first name. To me it’s a little dorky, but so am I! I like my last name too.
SZEN: Hm, I think Sandra is a very ordinary name, if I would ever have a girl I have some names in mind (that link to music) but of course I am gonna keep that a secret. You never know ;)
QUESTION 5: Do you use any aliases for your music, (band names included?) If so, how did you choose them?
EMMA HEWITT: The band I was in was called Missing Hours. We came up with that name because of all the late night hours that seemed to disappear when we spent six months in the studio recording our first album. We had a really great time in that studio, as well as making some music!
ELSA HILL: Currently I don't use aliases for music but have been thinking about it. ; )
MARCIE: I love reinvention, renewal, or concept projects that can have cool titles, but I don’t have that many aliases. A long time ago, I chose ‘Sarona’ as an alias for a trance project, and I would like to use that again. I recently began to use my middle name, 'Joy' as well as just my first name. I think it makes me feel more complete as an artist. I used to think going by just one name was all I needed, but as I've grown as a writer and vocalist, I am filled with more experience, and renewed vigor. Adding my middle name was a way to refresh the screen, so to speak, and bring out what's new inside me by updating the label on the outside
TIFF LACEY: I have several band names that I'm involved with: Rubikon, Vendetta, Seven Sisters and a new one coming real soon :) Usually I go through the dictionary and suggest to my fellow collaborators, or if I've seen a cool film the name tends to stick - just depends on who comes up with the best idea.
SZEN: Szen, see before. Although it has nothing to do with the name I also use a different image for Szen. The stylist that styles me for the band helped to create a whole new styling for Szen. That makes it easy to feel connected I guess.
Question 6: Would you/Did you change your name for marriage? Why or why not?
EMMA HEWITT: Well, my boyfriend's surname is Reeves, which would make me Emma-Louise Reeves...???? Hmm...
BETSIE LARKIN: I decided to keep my last name when I got married for a few reasons. One is that I feel a strong connection with my name and I don't totally understand the practice of taking someone else's... even though I acknowledge that it's been done for years. I've also been using my name as an artist and it would create a big gap to suddenly switch my name. I've told my husband he is always invited to become a Larkin - no interest there as of yet :) We're both fairly independent thinkers, so we make up the rules as we go along.
ELSA HILL: Wouldn't change my name for marriage. Hill is where I come from, wouldn't want to change it for the world.
LINNEA SCHÖSSOW: I guess would keep my own last name since it’s my own signature but I would also include the "new" name.
MICHELLE KOETH: I'm currently studying and practicing production to produce my own tracks. I'm thinking of using "emfwave" as an alias. I like the gender neutrality of this alias, as I don't believe in gender roles within the EDM subculture. Waves are a fundamental unit of life, so I want to identify with the energy and simplicity that waves represent.
MARCIE: I’m not sure I would change my name for marriage, as that seems to represent a loss of identity. I think marriage should mean sharing a life with someone, forming a family with them, while maintaining and respecting your partner’s history, and individuality. If I have children, I don’t mind whose last name they use. It’s interesting with all this talk of not being able to choose our given names, I suddenly feel greater weight placed on the idea of choosing the name of my imaginary children. They will be stuck with my choice for quite awhile! I think most importantly, children should feel connected to their caregivers, and a sense of family unity when they leave the nest and go out into the world. Name and origin is something for individuals be proud of, but pride should not prevent us from recognizing our commonality with people from all over time and place.
EMMA LOCK: I am not married yet and have thought long and hard about that. I think I will keep my own name when I get married as I don't like changing things in my life that much, keep things as simple as possible, that’s my way, then it doesn't stress or worry me. Maybe I know myself better these days, I am proud of who I am, and my name stands with me.
SZEN: Hmm, I answered all the questions thinking it was about my first name, haha. Is that a problem?
ARUNA: If I were ever to get married, I'm pretty sure I'd keep my name, perhaps adding my husband's surname after mine. I never quite understood why it was always the woman that had to give up her name. Seems a bit one-sided and traditional for me. Maybe I'll end up getting my husband to adopt my name instead! :)
LORILEE DeSCHRYVER: I didn’t change my name at marriage. I didn’t change it because I've had it all my life...and I love it.
I want to thank the artists for sending in such thoughtful answers to my questions. I realize this list of names is a small representation of the scene, but I hope you enjoyed reading the words of this eloquent and soulful group of trance vocalists.
Thank YOUfor reading today’s column. It’s an honor to facilitate this dialogue between artists and listeners. I hope you will let me know what you think.
Would you like to hear other artists tell us the history of their names?
Who else would you like to hear from?
What does your name mean to you? Write to let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for more of Marcie's Lyric Picks right here. For more thoughts straight from your favourite Artists on their own lyrics, check out "Marcie presents Behind The lyric" at http://www.mugasha.com/browse/Behind-The-Lyric.