Monthly Archives: September 2012

Publishing Yourself on the Internet, Part III. More Tanks!


I just found a piece of pure truth over at the oatmeal, where Mr. Oatmeal states that if you want more ‘likes’, or more ‘attention’ you have to produce stuff that is interesting or at least useful.

So instead of jabbering on about how I wasted three hours on the sound of the kick of a song I made a little video, the first one in quite a long time.  This is nerd-stuff for bassplayers and guitarists, but it is part of me and henceforth part of this whole project. As I mentioned in earlier posts I have no clue how to make this whole endeavour work, but I try to stick to some rules:

1. keep it interesting.
I try not to post when I have nothing to say. If you are in love with anything it is easy to produce content that might interest someone out there. Bassplayers in this case.

2. connect it.
I try to use my youtube-channel and my facebookpage to attract some attention over here and vice versa. That way the my music can benefit from my job (which is teaching, among other things). Horay!

3. don’t push it.
As can be seen quite beautifully in that oatmeal-post up there, trolling around with your music/blog/website/shop/religion doesn’t get you anywhere. i try to make it interesting enough so people might want to read it, because this lack of aggression feels natural to me. I rarely ever click somewhere because a post tells me to, again and again.

That’s it for today, bed is calling, long road-trip tomorrow. 40 hours on the road for a show  that lasts 90 minutes. rock AND roll.

As always,

Love,

J

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To Thine Own Self Be True: Watching Other Bands And Songwriting.

I had an amazing week: every other day I saw a concert. All of them small clubs, underground but very, very good shows, and these shows inspired the hell out of me.

I stopped going to shows about 5 years ago, when I decided to turn music from a time-consuming hobby into a life-eating vocation, because I just didn’t enjoy it any more. Once you play 4 shows a week and work the other nights you just want a little bit of silence in between. I also was quite frustrated because my failed attempts at writing down the music I heard in my head got me to a point where I couldn’t listen to music anymore, not on CD and certainly not live. Any song was just another slap in the self-same face that had a million ideas on the tip of its tongue and no way of making them heard in a way I liked.

A year ago I started going to concerts again, and had lovely experiences since then, although all of the good ones were in smaller clubs. As were the three this week. Two acts left quite an impression: The silver medal goes to Busdriver with his progressive hip-hop, amazingly complicated and yet musical hypernergetic beats and a great singing voice. But The Hirsch Effekt really blew my mind. Ever since that show I haven’t managed to listen to anything else but their new record. Never saw a band from Germany nail a show like that, three virtuosos who just don’t give a singly flying fuck beating the shit out of their instruments and making BEAUTIFUL music all the while with a big smile on their faces. I could have watched those guys for another five hours.

Which brings me to the point: In my last post I was whining around about how you sometimes don’t know if that which is different in your own songs (or that which you perceive as different to other music) is good because it is you, or if it is just lack of craftmanship. The Hirsch Effekt gave me such a slap in the face with their bizarre gnarly music that I just decided to give a lot less of a fuck when it comes to pleasing any imaginary boundaries, rules, or expectations I read into my imaginary audience and just do my songs the strange way they are right now.

It might be crooked, but its mine.

Lots of love,

J

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Songwriting: Idiosyncrasies, and what to do with them

I am back in my studio listening to the songs I have written for the second EP and am, not for the first time, confronted with a most interesting question:

Are these songs any good? And if they are, are they finished?

Finding a reliable mental toolbox to answer these questions is actually the hardest and most time-consuming part of life as a writer of stuff: to distinguish between that which is my ‘style’, and that which is just bad habits, or lack of training or inspiration. Rest assured I am not talking about the general, every-day self-deprecating fishing for compliments that may befall the youthful artist not too sure of himself or his craft, but rather of the pragmatics of finishing a song and balancing it on the very, very narrow line between artsy-partsy and boring.

Right now I know the songs are done as regards structure, melodies, harmonies, general soundscapes, so you could say the songwriting part is done. But as this EP will consist entirely of electronic music with vocals at least as much work has to go into the selection of the sounds I use for this, and so I am stuck in the arrangement for now. I have never done purely electronic music before, so sometimes I watch myself programming beats that would work on a drumset, but seriously don’t when triggering dubstep libraries, where they sound awkward.

Now I could say: hey, that is it, this is my style, nobody does it like that. To which you could say, yep, nobody does, because it sucks.

Because I am still new in these fields I cannot trust my guts yet, although that is as always all I have. Fine-tuning them to hear the difference between a good idea that serves the emotional narrative and a sound that is impressive but doesn’t support said narrative will keep me busy for the next weeks. I will release this next part on the first of November 2012.

And another thing: I think Stephen Fry is the smartest man alive.

Love,

J

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This is water: David Foster Wallace and other literary suicides.

I am, to put it mildly, baffled.

David Foster Wallace was one of the most intelligent writers that ever roamed the earth. His kind of intelligence transcends mere erudition and excels at looking into the heart of man and describing the most intricate self-deceptions and the most hopeful truths about mankind in words only he ever found. Try this for a start, and go on read Infinite Jest if you need something to keep your mind busy for the rest of your life.

Infinite Jest is a pain in the ass to read, because sometimes he bores us with 50 pages of hyperrealistic technical description of a building before he goes on, but the insight into what makes us tick that he shares in this monster of a novel still rings in me 2 years after I read it. And having read that book it gets even harder for me to read anything else he wrote, for a simple reason: he understood it. He really got it. This man has thought long and hard about some of the eternal questions of man, found an answer that is tough but somehow uplifting, and then he killed himself.

He is neither the only nor the first writer who did away with himself, he is in good company: Sylvia Plath killed herself shortly after writing the Bell Jar, but if you read that (and I think you should) you understand why. There is an almost unbearable coldness and a tangible pain in her description of her way down the spiral that makes it less of a sensation that she “eliminated her own map” as Wallace would have put it. We also have Ernest Hemingway, whose brother was also a writer who kicked his own bucket. Kurt Cobain wasn’t exactly cracking jokes wearing funny costumes before he offed. Virginia Woolfe, Tucholsky, Trakl, Vonnegut are all writers of eminence and erudition, and all shoved off their mortal coils themselves, but these suicides don’t disturb me like Wallace’s does, for a simple reason: David Foster Wallace is side-splitting fun to read.

The actual problem beneath all this blabbering of mine is that all I ever strive for in this life is silence, and clarity of vision, in order to be free from myself. Reading Wallace I felt a calmness of spirit I have not found elsewhere, and an awareness and insight that continues to baffle me to this day, together with a knowing twinkle of the eye that is unique to this man. Now, if that man kills himself, despite all he has found out about life, the universe and everything, I begin to seriously doubt the philosophical path I have been walking on, as it got him nowhere, although he was down that path a lot further than I can hope to get.

Love,

J

Books, music, and a general decline in health

I have been back home for a week now, and finally my health allows me to go back to work. That was a lost week there, spent in a horizontal position watching Big Bang Theory while tasks, quests and work piled up around me…  I am not given to bouts of hypochondria, but the internet had me frightened there for a second.

The trip around (among other things) California took me from the Yosemite National Park straight to San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. Except for Vienna I have never felt more at home  the instant my feet touched the pavement than in Frisco. One of the many gems of this city is the City Lights Book Store, the logistic center of the Beat movement, where I reignited my love for that sort of rambling spiritual travel poetry the likes of Kerouac, Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti produced. I left the city reading an anthology of their poems, all the way down the foggy west coast on highway 1, and experienced some of the most peaceful moments of calm and clarity of my whole life, sitting on the wet rocks staring into the vast grey everchanging and yet constant sea. I carry quite some inspiration back home from that, but it is not easy to stay inspired now that work and the everyday has me back in its claws, but I try my best. I read a lot of Stephen Fry these last weeks and I am pretty sure that he is the single most intelligent being wandering this planet, but more on that later.

In the middle of last night I had to get up to listen to the songs I intend to release on the next ep, in order to see how much work it would be to finish them, and now I have chosen 6 to work on, 5 of which I intend to release on the first of November. Tonight I will go back to the first EP and see if there are any obvious mistakes in the mix that I have to redo, and after that I will go on trying to figure out a way how to make this blog and my music a little bit more public.

I’ll be around a lot more the next weeks keeping you posted on the developments.

If you have been, stay around,
J

On the road

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My road trip is almost over, and I leave this road filled to the brim with inspiration. Next time I will bring some recording gear, because I rarely ever felt as filled to bursting as I do now…

The forests, the oceans, the deserts over here in the us are resonating with what I carry around with me (on the inside) and I had some of the purest moments of calm and peace of my whole life in the last two weeks.

I’ll mention three:

On this trip I rarely had the opportunity to hear, let alone make music. That sharpens the emotional ears and makes music so much more vibrant, when you are starved for it… so after I took a long bath in a cold huge mountain salt lake, watching the sun set over the mountains, I drove our van across the desert listening to motorpsycho’s vortex surfer on full volume. I sang along, I screamed, I banged my head around like a slayer-fan on speed, I wanted to explode into the song, to burn up in its intensity. One of the most intense musical experiences of my life.

Another moment is one of simple, pure love. My love and I jumped into the ocean in malibu beach today, and had some moments of pure childish bliss hopping through the waves at sunset… felt like strolling through a postcard, or a perfume commercial. It is a hollywood kitsch cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less perfect.

And finally: I went to the city lights book store in frisco, and bought me some beat poetry. I was into those guys (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Corso…) ten years ago, and devoured their stuff, and riding down the highway 1 along a foggy ragged coast with no signs of civilization I read some Kerouac and some Ginsberg for the first time since the beginning of my first university courses and felt the most intense deep peace arise from my depths when we entered the area around big sur, a place that looks like lothlorien on a stormy coast. I felt twenty years less weight on my shoulders and fourty years more serenity on them for an instant. Maybe my biggest moment this year.

I cannot wait to put all this into music. This trip alone will give me ten songs…

love from Los Angeles,

J

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