Friday, April 29, 2022

Rock and/or Roll

I tend to think that most of my songs that I've written in the past five and a half years can fit into one of two categories. Basically, my catalog of original music comprises pretty songs and songs that rock (plus a few miscellaneous tracks that I wrote on banjo). Today's selections all come from the rockin' category.

The first of these songs comes from Embers (2021). It's called Living in Oblivion. This song is about how passive consumption of media can perpetuate ignorance and confusion, and that critical thinking is a vital component of an active and robust citizenry. One must employ a certain degree of logic and objectivity when it comes to choosing what to believe in order to know the difference between a fact and a feeling.
 


Song number two comes from Petrichor (2021). It's called Rat Race. It's about dedicating a life to making money for someone else without any inherent meaning in itself, or it's about rats in a maze. Either way. The bassline in this one kind of rocks. It's fun to play, anyway.



The third song that I would like to share with you today is called Modern Inconveniences, from my 2017 album Good Night, Fahrenheit. The background in this one is a chaotic wall of sound, which seemed appropriate for the subject matter. It's about the technological distractions that come between us, and how the products that we consume end up consuming us.  



Finally, here is Be Civilized, from my 2019 album Better Days. It's about how when human beings work together toward common goals, then everyone benefits. It other words, civilization is a good thing, so don't be a jerk. 



Happy Friday. Thanks for checking out my blog and listening to my music. Feel free to crank it up. These songs in particular were designed with that purpose in mind. 


Friday, April 22, 2022

DIY

The term "Do-It-Yourself" may seem pretty self-explanatory, but I want to talk a little bit about what that entails when it comes to making music. 

Basically, unlike most music that you hear, which is very much a collaborative art, what I do is singular. I write the music and lyrics to all of my songs. When it comes time to record them, I not only do the recording myself, but I also play all of the instruments. With the drums, while I do have a drum kit in the basement, I find that I get a cleaner sound using sequencing software, and it's a lot easier to work with in the mixing stage -- which, incidentally, is also my responsibility, as is the mastering. 

On the other side of the equation, I get to decide which songs make it to the album and what order they appear in. I decide what the cover art looks like. In most cases, I even took the photograph from which I made the album cover. I decide where it streams, where it sells and for how much. Basically, I have complete control over every aspect of my music. Every decision that brought it into existence was made entirely by me. Another bonus is that if I want to record a guitar track at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday, that's my prerogative. I can even re-record it a hundred times if I want to, and it doesn't cost me anything because I'm not paying for studio time.

The downside of this is that my decade-old laptop and my hundred dollar microphone in an open room of my house aren't exactly capable of capturing high-fidelity sound in the way that a professional studio setup can, but I do what I can with what I've got. I am also not nearly as good of a bassist as someone who plays that as their main instrument, for example. For that matter, I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there who could play all of these instruments far better than I can, just like how someone who is trained in sound engineering could do a much better job than I can in terms of production value, even with the limited equipment that I have at my disposal. That said, if I could afford better equipment, I would, and over the years, piece-by-piece, I have upgraded a lot of my gear. Still, I feel like the somewhat raw aesthetic of my music kind of fits with what I'm trying to do, at least with these last six albums. They each bear my name beside the title because every single part of it came from me.   

For what it's worth, I have played in numerous bands in the past and have spent time in recording studios before. While I do very much enjoy working with other artists and technicians, on some level, that's not really the point of what I'm doing here. My six solo albums, all self-produced, are me saying: here's this thing that I created. It's like an art project. I hope you like it, because frankly, it's about the best I can do with what I've got. 

To be perfectly honest, I would probably love it if other musicians took my music further (as long as I still got proper credit for the songs, of course). As a musician, I am kind of a peculiar sort. I like writing and practicing music more than I enjoy performing it, and I do what I do purely for the love of my craft. That, and I couldn't imagine not playing music -- and I figure that if I'm going to play music, I might as well write my own. Taking that rationale one step further, since songwriting is something that I have a strange knack for, then I feel like it would be kind of waste not to use it. 

In a nutshell, I write music because it is something I love to do and that I want to share, plus I happen to have an unusual collection of skills that allows me to produce this stuff all by myself. I write songs that don't yet exist but seem like they should. Sometimes it feels like I'm just pulling them out of the ether. In that sense, I am merely the vessel for transforming them into something tangible. As a DIY musician, I then take these songs as far as I can within my relatively limited means, which to me, is still infinitely better than when they did not yet exist. One is infinitely more than zero.  

Still, I must say, there's no reason why my process for making music can't be something closer to what we consider normal. After all, there are lots of other people out there doing what I do as well, and while we may not be able to get that polished radio-friendly sound that you're so used to hearing, this is a far more direct conduit between artist and audience, and I think that there's something to be said for that.