It’s been a bit longer than intended.
Last year I began yet another redesign of the site as I was increasingly unhappy with this wordpress style container. The original goal with moving to a more blog-type format (from hard coded HTML) was to allow for easier updating while providing a completely impossible feature beforehand… user comments! BUT, I underestimated the current ability level of bots and farmers and how difficult it actually is to allow for quick and easy commenting systems without all the human verification and signup/login non-sense most websites force you to put up with (this one currently included). So basically what I managed to do was upgrade my simple and quick loading website to an infinitely easier to update — yet much harder to actually administrate — blog page… Mmm… Guess I’ll call it a draw?
But the good news… A few months ago some ideas finally solidified between myself and Mr. Cooper and Mr. Colado and other Mr. Cooper. It seems the plans to create a kind of… non-profit label model, are going to work out well and provide us all a number of helpful resources. The most pertinent to this current post being a standardized, mobile-device-friendly, CSM-featured, website building app written by Mr. Micah Cooper that will become available for everyone working in the… collective? “label”? whatever we call it… regardless, this will be great because it will allow a dead simple, completely clean, and fast loading web presence which will still have easy updates without all the horrible overhead and poor mobile platform compatibility this site currently has.
So in short, I will yet AGAIN be updating the site, but this time it should be the final and most-simple-to-keep-current form. So there’s that.
Now on to random thoughts and updates.
Since I last wrote on here I’ve been quite busy… here’s some stuff in a kind of review format.
I’m doing this more for me than anyone as I want to kind of… account for this past year of activities and this will help that. Last year was full of many very new things. Some I need to cut loose and some I need to continue reeling in.
a year in review:
2013 was a big year for RFace practice and touring. After a few months of practice and building up the new material we hit up a few festivals early in the year which led to a great series of shows in the fall at many interesting and very fancy (to me) locations. Learned alot about myself and the gang which is always a good and unexpected benefit of those types of outings. Good stuff. It was all a little hard for me at times due to things going on in life, but it showed me a few things I need to work on which is great always.
From about late summer on I decided I wanted to explore a bit in the realm of podcasting. I collected many interviews on my field recorder before leaving and did a ton of field sessions while on the road as part of the prep for a batch of podcast ideas I was working on. Mostly what I gained from that experience was the knowledge that A. field recordings take FOREVER to review and edit when done in long form and B. You… well… you can’t just interview everyone. I went into the process assuming that I would be able to find an approach for every kind of person… that somehow I’d be able to get someone who was more emotional or physical with how they experience and express things to actually explain in words a bit about their process or how they exist in their creative world. What I learned was that this whole concept might be a fallacy. It actually made me rethink the entire publicity system we have in place in this country (insofar as I have experienced it). For so long I assumed it was insensitivity or perhaps an uncaring nature on the part of persons working in the media industry that was responsible for how horrible most attempts at interviewing people came off in text and audio formats… turns out it’s more the medium itself and the failure of our culture to see how different everyone expresses and teaches themselves that might be the culprit. Some people, no matter how much time you give them, just aren’t going to be able to express themselves in a way they (or you) will feel good about later. Misrepresentation is incredibly common in these formats and most of it is due to simple miscommunication. A failure of one party to truly understand (or properly express) the idea that is being discussed and documented.
Now out of the 20 or so interviews I conducted I feel like only about three to four of them actually stand up as “good work”. But in these instances I was lucky enough to have someone on the other end that I could easily communicate with and who was willing to waste words to find a good way of explaining something or talking about a topic (and then lots of editing later). Also much of the failure of these interviews was most likely due to my inexperience in this realm. I had to spend alot of time just working on my own methods of communication. My way of listening and interacting. Much time was spent reviewing the field sessions and hearing how much I accidentally inserted noises (like “ah” and “okay okay” or “i see”) between things that were being said without even consciously realizing just so I could begin addressing the issues that were getting in the way. It took many hours of work on my own just to begin getting a good flow in the conversations and to begin uncovering interesting bits about the person while discussing process and viewpoint during the actual meeting. Much of learning to actually be a good interviewer had little to do with questions or preparation (which are very necessary to work lots on still!) and more to do with a sensitivity to the other person and how to approach their individual mind… How to translate the words they are saying into words you understand. To always seek clarification if unclear on what was expressed and to sometimes ask even when you are clear if you find a moment for quick review. And despite all that I came away still feeling that there are some people who will always just do better if you come at them from a completely different angle.
Some people are just bad with words. Bad with organizing thoughts into a simple yet complete format that is easily digestible and that uses dead accurate vocabulary (I am actually pretty bad at it without considerable effort and focus applied). So with that premise I began trying to think up alternate approaches. Instead of asking them with words you will inevitably chop up and edit to hell anyway, why not create a concept they can build something inside of? A concept that reveals a bit of them more than any number of their or your words ever could. Or perhaps one could build a series of questions that were very simple and direct, but that would be used to create some kind of collage of interests or ideas or feelings that more accurately represent what the person/band/entity being interviewed is about… Or.. even moving further away from the base… why focus on individuals in interviews at all? Why not focus on types of people… approaches and how they differ… why not contrast or group? Why do we need to stand alone as individuals and be given so much time as if we were somehow special or separate or holding some high secret info? Why not simply use the format to show the diversity of people without focusing on ego?
I guess because it’s all for the promotion of people/groups and just a glorified form of advertising… but I swear there’s a really beautiful medium all it’s own hiding in there. An artful form of documentation and education.
Many ideas in these areas. But I think the biggest thing I took away from the whole experiment was to realize that I actually don’t like the whole standard interview idea as a concept all that much anymore. This did eventually lead to an idea for a podcast that I am genuinely excited about and want to continue work on… so it wasn’t a loss by any stretch… but it sure was a long and weird road to get to that idea and those half-conclusions about the state of things. I’ll eventually write a longer article on all this with some examples once I work out my thoughts a bit more.
One of the highlights of late last year and early this one was getting heavier into synth/keyboard/sample/loop based work. I had been making a slow move toward sound track work since the beginning of my music career, but only in the last couple years have I decided to dive in fully and start doing actual proper “sound track” work in addition to performing some of it live with various projects as I had in the past. Along side this came a sudden burst of recording local synth/noise/electronic acts. Much of this was with an old time conspirator/collaborator John Touchton. Three-ish projects (ascetic, severed+said, PRZM…) of his ended up running through my gear and it was a total pleasure working with that gentleman and everyone involved in the projects. Through those sessions I was also given opportunities to work with various other acts around town (TOMBOI, burntHair) and began to do a heavy bit of recording for a local tape label (popnihil) as well. All good times with everyone. Learned a ton, got to go back to heavy tape 4 and 8 track style recording which was great timing because my computer kind of fell apart on me this year… This all led into me becoming much more familiar with mixing and recording synth/electronic gear and how it can be effected after the fact and what tones sound like going into my equipment and all that and it ended up being a great boost to my personal comfort with all this gear I’d left behind years ago to play with the standard “rock setup” of bass, guitar, drums. Sort of a warm-up of sorts to beginning serious work with it all. Got me to finally redo all the patches in my R3 which is great too. So yeah… That kept me busy and was a great set of experiences. I’m still going out and doing live documentation fairly often for these acts as well which has been good fun.
Recently started a project up with a cool person named Reiné Hogue. Working on soundtrack stuff mostly built around her noise/loop based project called Nora Thomas 1964. I guess it’s become a collaboration now but the general idea is to exist as an entity that performs sound work behind a projection screen (or in front of it with the audience) providing a kind of… emotional narrative for a story that is expressed by a series of video images on said screen. So we play behind a projection of edited public domain footage (put together by Mr. Brian Guiry) is I guess what I’m saying… providing a sound track for it with various instruments. It satisfies my cravings to do that kind of work while also providing an entertaining (we hope) experience for fans of noise/avant-music/whatever you wanna call stuff that doesn’t fit within the current, very limited scope of music in this culture. It’s schedule is a bit odd. We play seasonally… and the shows attempt to somehow match the season in a loose way… but the idea is to do two-three shows in a grouping every three months so that we have plenty of time to make each “season” a completely different story and performance. I like the format a whole lot. So there’s that.
I’ve also been working on documenting much of the Wudun and solo soundtrack/video tandem work I’ve been doing over the past years. Nora has now been added to that list as a project to document and we have already recorded the first show as a tape session which I will be dumping out to digital for mixing as soon as I can get my hands on a computer to borrow for that task. This site will have a much more full “soundtrack work” section when this is all complete. So that will be nice. Sort of a sampling or portfolio of what I like to do in that realm as well as just a documenting of work done this past year. Should be cool.
So I’m definitely forgetting some things here and there but I think this is good for a review for now. Seems like most of this past year was learning, growing, progressing, dealing with many problems, dealing with many relationships… just a big weird year of new things and wild growth. I guess it makes sense all my tools are breaking down and dying… had to be a balance somewhere I guess hah. A season of the burning and reaping.
Lets see how the rest of 2014 goes shall we? Another tour coming up in a few months which should be fun. Far and away that one goes. All the way to Iceland! and Italy finally. Finishing some documentation of stuff and completing old, long running projects (boxes!). Seeing how the label-ish goes. I’m excited. Neat stuff. I’ll write again soon.