I hate the holidays. They max out my schedule, max out my credit cards, and just generally do whatever they can to piss me off for two months a year. Then, my birthday comes and just lays a whole layer of funk on the whole thing.
A facebook discussion on this lead to my development of an idea for an alternative and, I think, more honest version of the Holiday season, I call “the Hostilidays”. Here is my (early) vision for this.
1. Festivities start the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when we file frivolous lawsuits against all of our nearest and dearest.
2. Instead of sending xmas cards, we serve papers. Beware carolers.
3. Mediations will be held at all the most inconvenient times between then and xmas eve when we all get together and agree to settle for bottles of alcoholic beverages.
4. Then we drink around a burning xmas tree, while exchanging neuroses.
Symbols of the holiday:
Aside from the tree to be burned, decorations also include a half burned xmas wreath and wine stained carpet.
Who wants to celebrate with me next year?
oh..and instead of “happy holidays” or “merry christmas”, the greeting for hostilidays are either “talk to my lawyer” or simply “fuck you”. I also like “You’ve been served, mother fucker!”. I think you get the point.
Lots of little things I’d like to unpack here…
1. Reason 10. I love it. Absolutely love it. I’m digging it to the point that my hardware studio is starting to suddenly feel like a giant white elephant. I’m feeling rather stupid for my recent investments in hardware since I am just *not* using them. The new instruments Propeller heads added, Plus a few of RE’s Ive added recently, have displaced most of my hardware. My modular is still, obviously, relevant as is my Kronos, but my Virus, V-Synth and, yes, even the DSI instruments feel a bit…limited and inconvenient by comparison. I don’t even know why I have the Octatrack, Digitakt or MPC other than for a possibly live setup I may need to put together next year. Its a weird, weird feeling for me, who was always so anti-software for so long.
2. A big part of number one is my iMac. I don’t at all regret paying the extra for that 5k screen. It makes *all* the difference. The screen geometry is Perfect for Reason and other software instruments. Even though this iMac is a few years old already, and its not even fully maxed with RAM, it’s lightyears ahead of anything I’ve ever used. I could easily see it going another 2 or three years as the center of my studio.
3. The EP has a title, and even a possible cover. I’m going to try to do as much as I can myself since I believe that creatives should be paid for their work and I have zero budget for a graphic designer. Yes, my presentation will probably suffer….but for some reason I also feel like I *have* to DIY this one. Just once.
4. I’ve found a place I can do a short run of CD’s at a reasonable price….so I’ll be doing a short run of physical media for the new EP. A few people have asked for physical media of Dust and…maybe. That album is going on 5 years, so it’s probably not something I’d do with an eye of making a profit (and, really, if you’re in this genre of music and you’re looking for profit, you’re a fucking idiot).
5. Guitar. I kinda want a guitar. And some outboard FX to run it through. We know where this goes…
6. Bacon sandwiches are amazing.
7. Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.
Over the weekend, someone in Canada must have become either a fan or a stalker. Almost every blog post I have up was accessed and all of my streaming sites (soundcloud and bandcamp, in particular) showed a huge bump in plays….all from Canada.
First of all, thank you, Canada. I needed the morale boost.
I can’t really pinpoint exactly what’s behind my sudden productive surge. I really can’t explain it, since this is usually the part of the year that I curl in on myself and produce nothing whatever. But this year..I find myself alive and energized. I am creating at a pace I haven’t in a long, long time. I am trying to appreciate it as much as I can, knowing full well that it could all dry up in an instant and I find myself back in that dark place. I can’t for the life of me point to anything that’s really that different than past years.
One of the odd aspects of this creative surge is the workflow that’s being adopted. As opposed to the work starting analog and going digital, most of the new tracks started in the digital domain, usually in Reason, and are more than half software based.
I know…to some of you that sentence reads like ‘welcome to 2007’. To me, this is a revolution.
You see, I’ve had software for a long time. I’ve had Reason since version 1.0 – that’s way back when some of my readers will still zipping around the neighborhood on their bikes, trying to see how many mailboxes they could blow up before curfew (I wasn’t the only one!). In that time, though, I’ve seen it go from what felt like a toy to what is decidedly a powerful, powerful tool. In version 10, that’s all just sort of come together, and I feel *excited* to write music with it.
But it’s not just the tool…I think it’s the time. My son has hit that sweet spot between 7 and 14 where he is just somewhat self sufficient not to need constant care but also not yet a teen asshole. We have fun together. In all honesty, that’s struck me with a certain urgency to spend more quality time with him. He won’t *be* this age for long (and neither will I, for that matter).
Work, also, feels good for a change. Part of that is my flurry of productivity. Its not just music Ive been writing. Everything Im doing just feels *better*.
I don’t know why the clouds have lifted at exactly the time the Earth grows cold and dark. I’m not going to question it to far.
Over this last week, I started writing a song…just a simple one. I had no title for it, but I immediately recognized in it that it was the most ‘NoiseTheorem’ thing I’d written in a long time. It was coming along very well, and I really liked where it was going.
Then, yesterday morning, something happened.
I was talking to a friend about the new song, and I realized that elements of it reminded me of another song I’d done…and another. Both of those songs were very ‘NoiseTheorem’ tracks, but also tracks that I’d left in the can because I couldn’t imagine coming up with material they would fit with both sonically and thematically. In fact, those first two are still very different sorts of tracks for me. Somehow, though, the third one tied it all together!
So, now, suddenly, I have almost a 30 minute EP done. I’ve got a title for it, and a cover concept (in my head, anyway…need to find a designer to work with).
Where NoiseTheorem sits on the border between Industrial and Ambient music, this EP is definitely falling more on the Ambient side of things…kind of. I actually think that it’s just like ‘Dust’, but the industrial and ambient elements are just that much more embedded into each other, blending more seamlessly.
I’m not going to announce the title till I have a cover, and I’d like to see if I can keep the momentum going and add another fragment of a track thats running through my mind. Also, I think I’ll hold the release at least until January after the holiday bullshit is all over (I don’t exactly see what I do as xmas music…).
So I have an EP in the works…it kinda snuck up on me, but I’m not going to complain!
For as long as computers have been a part of music studios, I’ve resisted using them. I don’t know why that is, given my otherwise great relationship with machines. I used to love writing using hardware sequencers, samplers, drum machines….and keeping the computer in a different corner for when I needed to e-mail the band about practice.
Eventually, because it became pretty much impossible *not* to use a computer in the studio, I got one. I can’t say I’ve really regretted it, but I’ve never really embraced it, either. I’ve let it be my tape machine, editor and recorder, but I still prefer to have a room full of synthesizers and even hardware samplers (I will always have a hardware MPC of some flavor in my studio) than to let it all be in the box.
It’s kind of ridiculous if I really think through it. Most of my hardware synthesizers have cheap and easy software equivalents. In many cases, I actually *own* those equivalents, but just don’t use them as much as their real-world counterparts.
This is undoubtedly some sort of psychological thing for me. Making music, being a more ‘physical’ activity, I prefer to be able to physically touch and interact with my instruments in 3d meat space. It feels better touching a ‘real’ instrument instead of mousing about on a virtual one.
In the name of personal grown and exploration, I’m attempting to embrace the computer more in my workflow. I’ve been tempted to sell off large parts of my hardware and *force* that issue…but that’s probably not a very wise idea.
I’m working on a little project now, and I’m going to make it interesting for myself by pushing myself to use a stack of software to get it done. I know, I know…I’m way behind and many of you have been doing that forever. But I’m an old guy with a psychological block against using software. Time I got over that.
I am taking a break from the ‘death by a thousand annoying paper cuts’ that is facebook. My goal is to focus more on instagram, my blog and real friendships (remember those?) and put as little as possible into that festering shit-bag called facebook.
Someone suggested I get a journal. Well, this is it. With that, I’ll be expanding its content beyond music and NoiseTheorem into pretty much whatever I god damn well feel like posting.
Facebook, imho, is bad..or at least it’s bad for me. It replaces real friendship with a digital farce. Knowing what someone is up to or what their online persona is isn’t really knowing them.
This became very apparent to me at the recent ColdWaves festival in Chicago (If you were there, I was the guy wearing the ‘No, I will not sell you cocaine’ t-shirt). There were many people I saw there that I knew on facebook and interacted with. Perhaps it was my baseline social anxiety, but I couldn’t approach these people or hang with them. It felt too weird – like I was violating the 4rth wall in a way that was unpleasant to my person. I didn’t like that feeling, and I want to get rid of it.
And in that, the seeds of my facebook hiatus were planted. Ill still be updating my NoiseTheorem page and, via instagram, making one picture post a day without caption or title that shows whats going on in my life. Its an interesting little experiment, I think. My goal is to return there January 1, 2018…if I feel like doing so at the time.
I’m hoping to gain back a lot of my time that has slowly gotten sucked into posting to and keeping track of what’s going on in social media land. That can only be a good thing.
So it’s off to work. wheeeeeeeee.