Saturday, June 28, 2008

Duality of Music

Yeah blog!

I'm often comparing myself to musicians whom i consider to be 'the great ones.' Many of my friends say i'm too hard on myself but, one doesn't achieve greatness by striving for mediocrity. By holding myself to the same standards as the great ones, i too hope to someday be on par with those who've made musical history.

I feel, as musicians, as artists, it is our responsibility to ourselves and our art-forms to strive for excellence. Mediocrity is not an option.

And therein lies my conundrum. The western world is peculiar in the fact that only musicians are 'allowed' to make music. In most other cultures, music is either an interactive communal activity, or a very personal experience. Tribes get together, sing and dance, and there are no "professionals." Mourners in South America sing to their deceased relatives alone from hilltops as a spiritual experience. Yet, here in the western world, should someone sing a song to themselves, or even make up their own song, they're teased or thought to be odd.

I think that's obscene. Music and art should be accessible to everyone. There's no reason why any of us can't enjoy ourselves by making music. Everyone should be able to experience the pleasures of creating music and art. There's no reason why only professional musicians can enjoy making music.

But alas, how can i demand musical perfection yet still have music be accessible to everyone? I'm not a fan of paradoxical states of being. I'd love some feedback on this.

Good news though, yesterday i went down to CDBaby and the lovely Deena B got the ball rolling on my full length album Godless Music for a Free Mind. It should be available for sale online soon. Until then, feel free to rummage around my various online homes to find some streaming samples of my music.

There's also pictures up from Digital Organics: Manifestation Facilitator presents end.user @ the Station. Myspace blog. iLike pics.

Here's a little hint for all you concert-goers out there. If you order a burrito and the venue microwaves it, and the microwave zaps the the PA and Video gear, don't insist on another burrito. Figure out something else to eat or get your money back. And if you do insist on another burrito, and for some reason they microwave it again, and the microwave proceeds to fry the circuit-breaker, causing most electrical systems to shut down, and then we hustle to get things working again, and then the music finally comes back on, and everyone is happy, except for some reason you're angry that we got the music and visuals working again, don't throw your burrito at the man who put the whole show together. Not a fucking good idea. Just in case that's what anyone was planning on doing. I don't think any of you would actually be doing that, right?

Until next time, lovelies. (soon i'm going to have some insight as to how i got the name Noise)

<3 Noise!



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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What i've gotten myself into

I recently received an email survey from a certain musicians' organization. One of the questions asked how many hours a week i spent performing music in front of audiences.
I gave a conservative 1-4 hours per week.

The following question asked how many additional hours per week, on average, i spend working on music for non-performance tasks. They gave some examples.

Well, i started doing a rough tally. Between doing live sound, producing, programming, composing, recording, engineering/mixing, learning new songs on bass, practicing bass, band practice, networking, phone calls, emails, expanding my online presence (myspace, iLike, my blog, etc.), expanding my real-life presence, promotion, designing graphics, attending seminars, trying to find my next performance or sound gigs, maintaining my gear & technology, cultivating a professional 'image', reading and research... The list goes on.

It turns out i'm putting in anywhere from 80 to 100+ hours per week.

On a great week, i probably pull in about $200.  And those weeks are rare. Do the math. And that's a great week. I'm usually not pulling in that much. (And to contrast music scenes in Portland and New Orleans, i was pulling in almost that much in one day in Nola.) That's not a livable wage.

And it's not that i'm bad at what i do. All conceit aside, i'm really good at what i do and i know it. The feedback i get about my engineering, bass playing, and electronic composition has gotten better and better.  Some amazing people have gone out of their way to help me because they believe that much in what i'm doing.  

So, my question is, where's the payoff? Bubbles says it's, "Work now, get paid later," and "[artistically] we're rich on the inside." Well, i do work now, and don't plant to stop working later, or ever. But how far away is the later when we get paid? And being rich on the inside is great. I love being happy. But that doesn't pay my bills. I won't be happy for too long when i'm out on the street with nowhere to plug in my computers and, inherently no way to practice my craft.

X24, ever the optimist keeps on telling me we're on the brink. That it's coming, we're right there and doors keep opening.  Well yeah, doors do keep opening to bigger an better things, i agree. Yet, they don't seem to be paying any more. 

Now, i'm not only in this for the money. If that were the case i'd pound out some mind numbing pop songs about melodramatic love loss. Isn't that what the whiny indie rockers are into these days? It's not only about the money. However, call me crazy, but i tend to believe that i work hard and should be compensated accordingly.  


Moving on from the gripe of the week, i recently had a photo shoot with local photographer Victor Fitzsimons.  He takes a lot of tight pictures of a scene and then compiles them to create much larger images. I'm part of his series Working Portland. I suggest checking out his work. I used one of his pictures on the Prophetnoise Myspace page. The other is in my pictures section.

My MIDI controller is on the fritz.  I took it in for repairs once and it was mostly fixed but had to bring it back because the Joystick's X axis, when centered at rest, wavers anywhere from +1 to +5 (of 127).  The Joystick's Y axis only goes from +120 to -93.  For those who aren't familiar with what any of that means, essentially, when i play my keyboard, the pitch bend actually bends itself sharp and wavers on it's own, making everything i play out of tune.

That said, i keep on walking into my studio room staring at my computer for a minute, realizing i can't make music without my MIDI Controller (keyboard), and leave the room looking for something else to do. Repeat every few minutes. For someone (me) who spends 8-12 hours a day tracking new music, I'M GOING STIR CRAZY.  (That's probably why my blog post is so friggin long.)

With all that said, i'm the happiest i've been in years. My life revolves around music.  I do what i love, and i do what i'm good at, and they're the same thing. All the other problems are minor bumps in the road.

Until next time,


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