Earlier in the day, in response to Derek Sivers’ (founder of CDBaby.com) post I wrote:
“Lordy knows new models must begin to emerge – the existing climate for musicians, as vastly interesting as it may be, as de-centralized as it may be, is actually rather disheartening when it comes to the heavy task of producing an audiophile grade recording. At least the old bottleneck created a filter, the new era of the tastemaker will take some time to develop gravity and in the interim “indie musician” is a hard to thing to still consider a career path. But we persist, don’t we, because the irrepressible urge is there, and so is opportunity and a vast landscape for innovation.”
Dick M. replied:
“Keram – some real contrasts there… I don’t feel like my music has ever been a “career path”… ergo, my music is lumped in the “amateur” category (which is all right with me, because as you indicated, we persist because we MUST). To me, “indie” means it’s NOT a career, because if it IS, it necessitates compromise and time spent in pursuit of $$$… NOT saying there’s anything WRONG with that, just that if it’s for $$$, I don’t believe it’s “independent”.”
To which I countered:
Keram, you’re right “on” here… I haven’t made any significant $$$ with my music, but that’s probably ‘coz the “right” money guy (the one with the coke spoon shoved up both nostrils) hasn’t happened across it. WOULD I “take” $$$ for licensing fees? u BET! Would it compromise my integrity? Not one IOTA.
I think it’s just that when I first hooked up with the Internet (’88, ’89), our “ethic” was that it should cost NOTHING for the player… strange how as the technology has gotten so much better for sharing, it costs so much more just to get connectivity…
I’m 63 now, so I’m not too worried about whether or not I get a “lucky hit” on licensing, downloads or any other aspect of “selling” my music… I just play & record because I (still) CAN!”
“Again, I completely empathize with your urge to make music Dick. I also think that Artistshare is a great idea for creating a central HQ for organizing the effort of promoting.
I am in favor of anything that actually creates a focus – ironic for someone like me who is so interested in perpetuating heterogeneity in the culture, perhaps. But I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.
I loved mp3.com back when it was about print on demand CD for indie artists. Then Universal bought it and killed it quickly. My little brain can’t parse all the numbers, but there is something to learn in that.
As far as the dude with the coke spoon – going the way of the Dodo. May he rest in pieces.”
DJ AM found dead in NYC apartment
FB response: thing is, death is so fucking final. Believe what you need concerning the beyond; if it brings you solace, peace of mind, then God bless. But the ride is short. Music makes it so much easier. I need more of it in my life and less of the frenetic gossipy nature of the new paradigm. Apologies if this is heavy, but have lost some people, too young, this week. Have lost so many before. Too young. Followed by what. More status updates. Live goddamit. Live.
My favorite Sufi proverb says “Die before ye die, that you shall live” – recognize your mortality and revel in it.
Moreover, music is a mystical, unquantifiable gift. I am tired of posturing behind the coolness of what. It is miraculous. Lend it your energy, because it comes from something beyond what we understand. And it needs your help.”
Tweet: No. I don’t believe it. I don’t, as a musician or music lover want to be sent to a gulag. I categorically reject the very possibility of this eventuality.
It’s hard to believe, but it is written in an online magazine format so it MUST be true.
For good measure, a moment of solace in the form of a song, video added, from my friend at Monty Python Eric Idle:
This blog will return to reason and matters of the soul and the beauty of culture after these messages.
I don’t expect this to be comprehensive in terms of expressing my feelings because that would be impossible, because I am tired, a little tipsy and the events leading to the creation of this next album are essentially indescribably complex, but I would be remiss not to catalog, in some way the legacy of its manifestation.
Hrm, I will endeavor to turn off my verbose brain I think to get this across.
As I write this it is 5am in Los Angeles, my sister left for Toronto this morning en route from a pilgrimage to the mystic ancient city of Machu Pichu in Peru to a Tech trade show in Canton, China. My uncle Paco is visiting from Ecuador and is sleeping in my bed, my girlfriend is sleeping on the floor (her grandfather is being taken off life support in the morning) and Josh Joudrie, my co-producer and soundman for Blue Dog Pict, visiting from Toronto, is sleeping on my couch. Having nowhere left for myself to repose, I am up typing this chronicle.
We started this album three years ago. An effort to continue to the work we did with BDP almost a decade ago. Lest you don’t know me, I am not some balding wannabe ex-rocker seeking former glory days. I am a kid who didn’t feel like I had yet reached the root. So I decided it was time to move to the next set of songs and find a way to tell their unique stories. I had no money in my pocket, I still don’t, but I have found in that, some amazing benefits – restrictions engender innovation, experimentation, cunning, tenacity, faith and play, and all of those put together lead to extraordinary ideas that may have otherwise been circumvented.
I would not trade a single moment of my tumultuous journey for any other. I have learned so much and continue to learn.
Because we recorded this album piecemeal – parts in Toronto, parts in Los Angeles, parts in England via email – it has been a fascinating jigsaw puzzle to assemble. After months, even years of configuring arrangements, painstakingly lining up different audio sources and trying to find their relationships, something as simple as bringing a completely new voice like Marc Thomas (of LA band Madras) to play guitars can re-liberate a song and make it feel totally alive all over again. You see, in the editing process, we find all the various pieces that we have recorded and build a comp. After cleaning it all up it feels a little stilted and after the fact. Having a new musician with fresh ears come in and just replay it with their own unique brain makes it feel completely inspired and in-the-moment. And that is because it is.
Last week, Ryan Brown came in to replay some snare and cymbal parts. Instead we ended up playing brushes on the windscreen, chopsticks on pots, pans and coffee jar lids and throwing things around the room while Pro Tools was faithfully recording at 24 bits in the background.
Marc brought in a heap of pedals and I added my own to his arsenal. We spent four separate days tracking guitars just for Killing Days; primary melodies, harmonies, swirling ambient washes, whatever occurred to us in the moment.
I would then assemble all of this discovery into a variety of stereo tracks, line them up, make a hundred decisions, and then when I would retire as the sun came up over Santa Monica Boulevard, Josh would wake up and take over, making sure the drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals all lined up, that their phase relationships were coherent and so on. He is the ultimate audio tech head. It’s why I keep him around 😉
Now, almost two, three years later, we are closing in on seven amazing opuses. Sonic journeys. I have no idea what they sound like in relation to what plays on the radio. None. We even recorded “Box“, an acoustic album comprising several of my songs that didn’t want to be played by a band while doing vocals for this record – for me and for you – just to tide things over while we sorted out the rest in the meantime.
Sure I listen to stuff coming out now, but that has nothing to do with this other journey I have been on – that of making this record I decided will be called “Come To Life” about a year ago. The name comes from a catchphrase for the annual Sky Pirate holiday (celebrated August 4th) I created called Robot Pride Day – “My daddy builds robots; we don’t tell anyone. They have come to life. Come to life.”
The lyrics are poems I wrote at some point (of trouble, typically) to remind my future self that I have endured in the past, and that I will endure again, and every time come out the wiser, the stronger and the richer. They are about the soul, about the death of some of my closest allies, about faith, about us, about the future, about the past, about mystery, reason and benevolence and fear.
I don’t know if and when you will ultimately hear the fruit of all this labor and play and duress and fascination. Maybe it will be your children. Maybe it will all be buried under the ground. But if you do, drop me a line and let me know if you tapped in to everything that is going on with it. It is all bigger than me; the amazing talents of those involved, the adventures that led to its creation, and whatever encompasses the sum of its parts. I want to know what it is and what it did.
I hope to have Come To Life ready by the end of 2009.
Thanks for listening. Really. Every time you let me know your ears are receiving these transmissions, they fill up some little emptied battery cell in my soul.
los angeles, april 6th, 2009