Category Archives: thoughts

Happy Hostilidays

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.

Your thoughts?

Or maybe not..

So I thought about it…maybe I should keep the blog around, if only for jotting down a few thoughts and keeping my mind on music.

I’ve been considering my goals for the next album. Aside from the usual ‘pushing myself artistically’ and so forth, there are some things I’d like to do that are more about process than art. There are some tools in my studio I’d like to find a way to shoehorn in to this process.

First and foremost, I’d like to make a lot of use of the hours and hours of audio I’ve been capturing on my field recorder the last few years. I’ve got gigs of back yard recordings, walks in Chicago, construction sights, coffee makers, garage noises and every noisemaking toy my son has received since he was 3 that I can draw from. All of it is poorly cataloged and completely unorganized. That actually might be a good thing, since not knowing the source of a sound makes it easier to divorce your mind from that source and to think of the sound as something else. I’ll be making heavy use of Adobe Audition for this, which I didn’t have the last time I did an album.

Another thing that needs to make it into the workflow is the iPad. Ideally, I’d like to start a track on it, or develop assets for a track using the various apps on it. I’m sure if I put my mind to it, I could do an entire track in Korg Gadget and Akai iMPC Pro. Samplr and probably the Thor app by Propellerheads would probably be a good fit.

I’d like to find someone who plays hand drums to work with. A drummer would be really cool. Vocalists, obviously. I wish I could find an actual writer to help with the lyrics/thematic material.

That’s just a few of the points I’d like to hit. Obviously, there are modular workflows i’d like to explore as well. I’ve never really done percussion on the modular, and maybe that’s something to be explored as well.

I’m not going to guilt myself with deadlines or promises that I may not be able to keep, I’ll just say that I’m going to make progress, steady progress, and it will be done when it’s done.

Do you want to contribute to my next album or broadcast? Contact me, and let me know what you have in mind.

Hibernation Instinct

Every year, as the days get shorter, I feel the urge to withdraw. This force compelling me to hunker down in my studio and create. This also happens after I've had my dragon raised out of my control (if you're lucky, Ill tell that story soon). It's a response by the machine in me to reassert itself – shut down emotions, temper your pasions and shrink into self. Let the purely logical guide you for a time. Feel only what you must.

This state has upsides. My creativity surges, I get a lot of work done and I feel accomplished for a time. Unfortunately, it also comes with signficant down.

I sink away from those I care about and who care about me. I hide in my hole. I am distant and unreachable. I feel a million miles away even when I am right there.

I am quick to anger because everything feels like a distraction from internal work that needs to be done. I snap. I bark. I bicker.

I feel overwhelmed by the urge to stay on the path of least resistance. Stay home. Don't go out. Break dates. Avoid social interaction. Listen to the machine.

I've been searching for the solution to this my whole life. None has presented itself.

This morning, I feel it. I feel it deep. That urge to hide. To withdraw. To sink. To fall into the temporary madness of winter and hope for spring. It's like a temporary death, you know. A dark and warm place.

I am writing this because I need help. I need understanding. I need to be open about it in order to confront it and change it. I need people to draw me out and not let me sink…to not let me hide.

I will fight you. I will. 42 years is a long time to live with something. You get to know it and embrace it, and even to think it's 'just how you are'. I can't accept that anymore. I can't do this again.

I'm going to need some help with this. I don't want to sound whiney or needy or anything. I just want to get this out so people understand.

 

Lessons learned

So where have I been? I promise a blog a day and then I disappear. Typical…

Well, I've been pretty sick, actually. I had a wonderful experience with an immediate care doctor who was certain I had something that could kill you and sent me to the ER. It all went down hill from there to eventually be found days later to be a 'non-specific viral infection' (so they don't even have a clue what it was). In any case, its over.

Its odd to say it, but I think I really *needed* that illness. I get the feeling that a big part of why I got sick was because I have been pushing myself too far. Too much work, family and general life stress mixed with definitely not enough sleep and heathy physical activity is sooner or later going to bring on a crash in someone who isn't 25 anymore (not by a long shot). I was doing too much and giving too much of myself without stopping to think about how much I had left in the tank. Last week was the crash.

So now it's a new week, and the most important part of any experience is what we learn from it. Ive taken a few lessons:

  1. I have to limit myself and take more time for activities that rejuvinate and replenish me.
  2. I have to better focus on who and what I give my time to. My priorities need some shifting
  3. I need to take care better care of my health and get more sleep in general. I just have to.

It's easy to state these things but not always so easy to follow through with them. Feeling like I have no choice in the matter helps….If I don't, next time I may not get well as quickly. I'm also sure I can count on some others to help hold me accountable to my statements.

 

 

 

The problem

The problem, it seems…is screens.

Screens are everywhere…on my synth, on my desk at work, on my DAW, on my phone….I am sick of screens. I’ve spent my life staring at them and I don’t want to stare at them anymore.

This presents a problem – How does one create music in the modern era without being absolutely bombarded by gigantic screens full of more information than I want? How does one make music without mouse within a 50ft radias?

I hate screens. Screens are evil. They get in my way and make my music harder to make. I want the screens to be gone.

How do I get rid of them?

Elsewhere

My mind is not here today. Its on an uncertain future and a past locked in concrete.

It is on my lack of sleep and my productivity. It's on the intensity of my emotions. It is looking inward, trying to find the path out.

It wants to be creating music. It needs the sounds tonight.

 

Improvisation

I had a brief improvisation last night on my virus. I was just programming a patch when this sort of ambient pad piece started flowing out of my fingers. In my head, I could hear a machine loop and drums and a sort of drone off the modular..maybe a simple pulsing bass sound to push it forward..but my audience of one only heard the one part.

“I like that. It gives me images in my mind.” she said.

If only she could hear the piece as I do. What images would it draw?

Labor of Love

I started recording the audio elements to the track I’d been improvising around. The capture went well, but I am having some trouble structuring. I’ve *kind of* got an intro…kind of…but not really, and I don’t know what to do in the body. The impove I did with J the other night sounded *really* good…but I just can’t get back to that sound.

Part of the reason I am having issues, I think, is also that my speakers are poorly placed. I don’t know how to improve that much given the layout of the room I am in. One nice thing in my old space was that the PC was centered which made recording and mixing easy. I need to figure out a better way to lay things out for mixing. I almost need a separate set of speackers for mix and compose. That is just so expensive though…

The important thing, though, is that I am engaging in the process of recording and arranging. I haven’t gone to that step with a track in a long while, and it is extrenely important to keep engaged in it. Even if progress is painfully slow, at least it’s there.

So never stop – Keep moving – Breathe….

The Well

For the past two years, I have found it impossible to write (music or words). Months would pass and I wouldn’t even look at my gear, or I’d turn it on and just spend time mucking about the internet instead.

Now…Its like an unbeatable force pullling me. I have to write. I *have to*. I have things in my head…lots of things…and I need to get them out. My well is full again.

So how did I go from having an empty well to a full one? What was it that triggered the the floodgates to open and replenish me?

Honestly, I have no fucking clue. It is a complete mystery why I had nothing in my head and now its full. The way it happened, you’d think aliens abducted me and uploaded these thoughts and ideas right into my brain. One day, I woke up and they were just *there*.

I wish I knew how it happens. It happened when I wrote ‘Dust‘. Out of no where, I was compelled to write and to do so at th exclusion of everything else. It was a drive that I had. I had something in my head, and I needed to get it out or my head would explode Scanners style all over the living room. What triggers it, I don’t think I will ever know.

But why isn’t important anyway. What is important is that I have a full well to draw on for the first time in a long while. I need to respect that gift by using it and not squandering it. This means some difficulties for the people around me as I become a moody bastard and lock myself in my studio for long hours. It means my mind may not always be ‘in it’ when we are discussing other things. It means that sometimes, I may be late to appointments becuase I had an idea that just had to come out RIGHT FUCKING NOW. It means that I must write, record and release this album I have within me. I must. If not, I risk running the well dry and having nothing to show for it.

 

Inspirations

I have this thing I do where I want to find ways to get everyone I know involved in my music projects. Already, the new album involves sounds that my son and I recorded and some sounds my dog made. In the past, Ive gotten friends to dub vocals over tracks or to send me sounds from their environment (yes, L, your cat is going to be on my album). I have one track, though…the first that I’ve started writing since choosing my album’s theme, which is giving me the urge to invite everyone to the party.

I started this one about a week go now. I think it’s going to be the second song on the final release…it has that feel anyway. The intro is right for it. It’s definitely not the starter, but something to follow it. Interestingly, I have words for this one which are half my own and half those of someone I recently met (call her J). I was inspired to write my half for someone I’ve known for a while (E). J read the words I posted to a forum I am a member of and replied in the comments with an extension of her own. It’s an intersting situation to be sure. One of the reasons I posted in the first place was because of J’s encouragement to continue my writing.

I’ve texted to J and asked if she would possibly read her piece and let me record it. I am considering reading my part and (for the first time ever) letting my voice appear on one of my recordings. I have a feeling Ill take one listen to my vox and find someone else to do them, but for this particular track, it will be important to have a strong male vox to contrast the female. I think J’s voice will work well, though the voice someone speaks does not always translate well to recording even when care is taken. I think it would be OK. I’d like at least one of our voices to appear on the recording.

I am hoping to possibly get E involved as well. She has been present for some of my meditational performances, and I’d like to incorporate one of her meditation chants into my recording (perhaps not on this song, but certainly on this album).

And then also there is asking A to get involved by possibly doing some photography work. I have a cover in mind for the album and I am definitely not equipted to capture it properly. I’d also need 3 models, and another pair of friends immediately sprung to mind along with E. I don’t know why, but for a guy who likes to make solo albums, I sure do seem to want to have a lot of collaboration.

Really, though, this goes with the theme of the album. All of these people, via some mechansim or other, have crossed paths into my life right at a time when I am starting to (finally) feel the urgency of creation in myself again. Through our interactions we have become entangled particles floating through this current moment.

I am not someone who believes that things happen for a reason. An ‘reason’ or ‘fate’ is simply that part of our brains that wants there to be patterns finding them. I will say, however, that I am grateful for the cast of people who have entered my life recently. With everything that’s going on (and those that need to will know what I am talking about) I am damn lucky to have find that web of entanglements to help keep me afloat. Without them I’d be as dark matter – adrift and invisible.

Maybe my choice of title and theme should not seem so mysterious to me after all?