Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dangling on the Dark Side

I'm a bit opinionated.

*glares at all the faux gasps*

Okay. Maybe a _lot_. Of course most of the time I feel my opinions are rather... half baked or ill-informed but... *shrugs* That's neither here nor there at the moment.

I've been listening to a song a lot that I... well, I loathe. But I also... love a little: "I Kissed a Girl" (Katy Perry's, I should specify)

Yeah, it's fucking catchy. *hangs head in shame*

Of course it also drives me batty. From a technical perspective the song is pretty damned boring - barely strays from it's simple chord structure. Vocally and lyrically the prosody is enough to make me want to jab my remaining ear with a pitchfork. "IN love TO night" and "hope my boyFRIEND don't mind it" and "I'm CUR-ee... us FOR you". I don't think there's a single line without some horrible raping of intelligible emPHAsis. X(

But then there's the whole gay/whoring-for-media-attention issue.

I'm quite firmly in the camp of "this is someone totally using stereotypical male fantasies as an avenue for acquiring fame". Which, as both male AND queer, I find horribly offensive.

Yeah, supposedly she claims it's "all innocence".

Nope. Don't buy it. Try selling *that* to someone who has beachfront property in Kansas...

Blah blah blah.

So... yeah. I had to do my own take on it. Yes, I'm THAT gay. I was compelled add my voice to the din of adoration and derision.

Of course, being *me* I had to do a sort of Dweezil-and-Ahmet-Zappa-do-Hit-Me-Baby-One-More-Time spin on it. Decided that SOMEONE had to really explore the darkness of the song. After all... when you really listen to the lyrics who really *was* the lyric writer writing this too?


Yeah. I had to go there.

So I kinda quickly threw together my ideas. I'm moderately happy with it - especially since I learned it in one day. Though, unlike "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" I'm not sure if this will stay in the repertoire.


  • I Kissed a Girl - [mp3]
And just 'cuz I love Dweezil and Ahmet:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reflection Time

I've been listening to You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk a lot over the past couple of days. And... you know I'm actually kinda happy with the vocals. They are some spots which make me cringe a bit. But for a rather rushed and unprepared go-at, I think there's almost the right level of emotion.

I'm wondering if that hard-drive buzz really *is* enough to make me re-record the vocals.

It's amazing to see the difference between where I was 3 or 4 years ago and where I am now. Half Moon Bay, Ghosts of Roses, Diamond Rise - those are all amazing beasts of cut-and-paste vocal concoction. I think there were maybe even up to 6 takes involved with each of them.

Yeah, I'm a bit neurotic. :)

But, on the other hand, I'm not aiming for some sort of classical-esque vocal perfection. I just... sometimes there's a certain emotion or color to the phrase or even a word that caught my ear.
I love noise. I love hearing all the little bits of a word - a little bit of catch in the throat, a slight bit of extra exhale, the catch of the vocal chords as they growl into a word...

Bono became one of my most favorite singers for a while. As a technician he's *horrible*. There are entire sections of him completely missing notes - Pride (In the Name of Love) for a good example! But, somewhere in the whole process, they really started capturing all the nuances of him as someone who almost paints with his voice. There's just so much grit and color - auditory texture - he can evoke that inspires me.

I returned to the Intermezzo last night for another open mic. I'd toyed with the notion all day and eventually decided that my need to see if I could rent/borrow Mark's sound system was an excuse enough. I almost backed out - my chest has just been a veritable monsoon of phlegm lately...

But I went ahead and signed up.

Took the last slot and eventually got my turn to come up. Unlike the last one I didn't pull together much of a narrative thing. But... again I really did feel like I'm starting to figure this out. I don't think I did *as* well - especially with the afore-mentioned congestion.

But still I did okay. Not bad, really. Not where I *want* to be, of course, but.... Yeah. I was just relaxed enough to enjoy myself a bit and smile through the mistakes - no mean feat since again, I didn't really know anyone outside of Mark.

Started off with Half Moon Bay. Then went into You Only Tell Me. Then really went out on a limb for myself and did Jesus Year - on of my newest tunes. Was a bit surprised that they asked me to do another one (though most everyone else *did* do four) and pulled out So Glad... again.

Jesus Year went pretty well, actually. My voice didn't *quite* last through it. The last two stanzas were weak in my opinion - just couldn't control my voice at all. But the emotion and headspace was good. Tricked them a bit and was a little amused to catch some applause after the the second chorus. But I smiled a little and returned right back into headspace.

The only disturbing thing was that one of the guys referred to my stuff as "super pop" which I think he meant like ultra-pop. I know he didn't mean it as an insult. Yet it kinda threw me a bit. But, looking back, everything I did (and often _do_) live *is* pretty goddamned pop.

_MUST_ change this.

In more... mundane news I've signed up for ReverbNation. Facebook's music player has been craptastic of late - completely not letting me upload new tunes. So... I figured what the fuck and climbed aboard. I must say, I'm actually rather impressed by the quality of the site. The widgets rock and totally put soundclick to shame.

I think I'll keep stuff on soundclick, of course. It's definitely nice to have a space where I can post things 'in progress'. But I think I *may* move towards using ReverbNation as a front-end for my more finished stuff.

Still gotta go through and figure out about how I'm going to organize Toshio Mana stuff vs project::in•fin•i•ty though...

Not really sure where the line is at the moment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Moving on.

Resisted my urge to go out tonight after a hellish day at the store. I even resisted a late night urge - after my usual 11pm cutoff for making sound.

I'm glad I did! Maybe I'll start getting things done this way. :)

I started going back and touching some of the RPM tunes - most notably "Too Close". Also want to get to "Give You A Load/Second Chances" but... Haven't done a *whole* lot yet - mostly just trying to smooth out the structure and trying to clean up drum/keyboard parts and sounds.

I also did another side-step and started working on a 'full' version of my most recent cover selection - You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk. I've really enjoyed re-envisioning it and also incorporating it into my set. I must admit I don't think I'm the biggest PSB fan - too much of the stuff I've heard is kinda interesting but just emotionally dead.

First I recorded several guitar takes sans metronome and then spliced together a final track that flows the best without getting *too* perfectionist. I do want to build an accompaniment that is somewhat consistent yet I don't want to lose the open-endedness and strummy improvised quality of what I really *do* do live.

Then I went back and quickly recorded a rough vocal part. By this time my hard drive/fan was humming a lot (thus the buzz on the recording) _and_ it was getting late. I decided that there was one spot I needed yet another take - after the last pre-chorusey bit "is it over when you are sober? is it junk?". Just needed a bit more of a tenuto there. Got that recorded and then spliced it in.

I know where I would *LOVE* to go with this. Unlike some of the other covers I've done, I really want to keep this stripped down. But I would love to pull a quasi-Esquivel sort of thing and really bring in the auditory narrative - arguments, room sounds, etc.

I'd love to start off with me (or the listener really) passing by some sort of argument and then walking into a room. A door shuts and the guitar starts. The argument can still be heard through the walls of course until it fades out as the vocals start.

Then, in the gap before the second verse, I... I don't know. I think I could use the sound of my roommates having sex. Again it would be through walls - perhaps with me leaving my room and walking past their door.

I don't know. But I *LOVE* shit like that. It just puts the music into a different context than it would be otherwise.

*sighs* Not sure if I have the expertise to do that yet. So, in the meantime, I'm just going for a rather lonely sound - as if the guitar and I are playing to an empty concert hall. I think that's fitting, too, to the mood and the arrangement.

In additional project::in•fin•i•ty related news, I've started talking with Jason and Ren about doing some sort of collaborative electro-meets-acoustic improv experiment. They've got some samplers and equipment. I've got my laptop, Live, and my instruments... I'm excited though I'm not sure what to expect from them.

I've also been talking with Charles Cohen a little more seriously about getting out with him and doing some improv stuff. I just... need to find my headspace a bit better before I jump in with him. I trust him better than I do Jason and Ren. But, in that context, I trust *myself* less.

I think... I think I'm beginning to find my steps forward. They're still tentative and unsure but...

at least I'm moving again.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

[ RPM09: ] Day 28/Wrap-up

so... I did NOT complete this year's RPM challenge. I got _one_ song 'finished' (in as much as I ever manage to finish a song) and that one... wasn't quite an RPM song. On the other hand it was a dear friend's goodbye/birthday song so... from a personal standpoint it was a little more important.

I walk away from this year's challenge with mixed feelings. On the one hand I got *MUCH* further than I have in the past. Two years ago I *think* I started one or two songs - got maybe a couple days into it before my life (going to San Antonio to help Karl) just got too crazy to move forward. This time I got two-almost three weeks and 40 minutes of music in.

Definitely an improvement.

I blame a little bit of life on it, too. Had something of an emotional encounter putting a bunch of things behind me with a certain someone. While the end result was rather healing, it did suck up some time and emotional energy.

In addition I was facing a pretty decent learning curve. I've never really worked with Ableton Live much. I'm much more used to ProTools and Reason. I think I take that much away from this challenge at least - forcing me to work with a new program. It's definitely a mother/necessitie sort of thing.

But... yeah. I'm in a weird place. I like writing too much to really be just a full time performer. But, on the other hand, I'm not happy enough with my writing (and dedication) to feel terribly solid about moving forward yet. It's... a netherworld - neither far enough here nor far enough there to really make a commitment.

If I *can* make a commitment that is.

Oh, I'm actually pretty happy with some of the stuff I've worked on. In fact I'm sure I'll keep working on most of it. Still love the Emajor arpeggio idea and the B minor riff. "Too Close" is definitely from the break-up/emotional purging side of my life.

Perhaps strangely enough the one I'm most excited about continuing is the one I was least happy with - "Give You a Load/Second Chances". I think that's in part due to the fact that, of all the stuff I came up with, it's the most provocative. I've spent a lot of time working on kinda generic love-related songs. It's nice to feel like I'm pushing outside of that box and really starting to say something.

No, it won't garner me much acclaim - talking about barebacking amongst a minority of the population.

But, frankly, I don't care. While it was good to get some emotional clutter out of my system with things like "Jesus Year" (pre-RPM) and "How I Wish" (the one 'finished' track), I don't feel like they're really addressing things that I *want* to address. They're just... more of a sort.

"Oh, look, Becky. Another singer-songwriter talking about love and loss... OH! That fabulous new tea set by Whosey McWhatsherface!"


"What's he... OMG. He's singing about the emotional complexities of using someone as a cum-dump! Holy christ my brain AND my innocence!"

Yeah. MUCH hotter. :)

And, speaking of the lyrical content, I've made some headway with the lyrics. As I said in one of my last posts, there's a strange middle road I'm trying to find - neither condemning nor really advocating this.

I remember a series of ads back when I was living in Boston - aka "HIV Stops with me" (yeah, I misread it at first as "HIV tops with me". Slightly different...) I think these ads might have been cooler if they'd taken the vantage of people who were HIV- as well admitting that the responsibility is on ALL of our shoulders. Instead it made it sound kind of like it's only the burden of people who are HIV+.

Which is TOTAL bullshit.

If you're going to play in the sandbox, you've got to accept you might get some sand in yer ass.

I... I'm not perfect. I've made some less-than-wise decisions in my past. Fortunately I've been lucky in those cases. But to act like it's somehow someone ELSE's fault for me going, "Okay. You can fuck me in the ass without a condom. I won't ask and I'll just take your silence as admitting you're NOT HIV+. If you even know."

That's fucked up.

Blah. Anywho, I think there's just a lot of issues on the plate - self-hatred, ignorance, disillusionment, disregard, and... abandonment of responsibility?

Yeah. It's crazy and complex.

But I kinda enjoy just bringing it up. Again, if for nothing else, just to sing, "I would give you a load if I thought it would bring you some hope" over and over...


Give You a Load/Second Chances (current lyrics)

Hey babe, is that the way you play?
You got your hand stuck in the cookie jar
Why try to hide or run or fight
when you know there ain't no getting far
I see the terror that you bleed
when you're talking 'bout the end of the line
Lord knows how I would start to cope
if your burden would turn out to be mine
So hey, I don't know what to say
but you know this ain't no box here of soap
'cuz... I would give you a load
if I thought it would bring you some hope

Hey love is that you playing tough
when you're acting like you know all the rules
I fear the smell is all to clear
that you're the only one who is fooled.
Christ sake we all will make mistakes
the roulette of who will pay and who won't
I see my own hypocrisy
when we're talking about the do's and the don'ts
'cuz... I would give you a load
if I thought it would bring you some hope

Ain't got no second chances
might as well just play it to the grave.