I’ve decided to “go reggae.”
04/09/2012 • 9:00 am 0
This weekend, I made music using my old Tascam cassette four-track from years ago. I hadn’t used it in a while, so I thought it would be fun to experiment.
I created this track semi-randomly. I played the music live using Garageband running on my Ipad synced in a “Jam Session” with Garageband running on my iPod touch. I sent the iPad’s signal through an MXR Carbon Copy pedal followed by a Boss Harmonizer, and I sent the Ipod through a Boss Loop Station RC-2. On top of that, I layered an infomercial for Human Growth Hormone that happened to be playing on 870 AM. The radio signal was also sent through the Carbon Copy and Harmonizer pedals.
I call the result “Human Grown Hormone.”
12/13/2011 • 11:00 am 0
For me, 2011 was transformational. Since about 2004, I had been a guitarist and songwriter in bands — but both Pizza! and Big Whup dissolved this year. Until that happened, I had two songwriting modes: I could put songs together on an acoustic guitar, or I could contribute parts to collaborative pieces with other musicians. Both Pizza! and Big Whup were group efforts, and I’d prioritized writing with those groups over making anything on my own. This year, I decided to move in a new direction.
I got some technology, I collected instruments, and I started writing and producing songs on my own. I de-emphasized guitar and concentrated my attention towards the elements that I’d previously left to others, including beats, bass, and synth melodies. To practice production, I made some fun new albums with friends: Into the Forest with Magii was released in March, and Nima and Geoff (featuring So Many Wizards’ Nima Kazerouni) made an EP to release next year. Through these efforts, my process was upended. It was a very prolific time.
Princess, my solo debut, chronicles the earliest fruits of my labors. It’s kind of a hodgepodge of ideas and moods — some of them fresh, some of them rebuilt from the past, some of them improvised, and some of them orchestrated. I made and released Princess, above all, to prove to myself that I could do it. I gained a lot of experience while doing it, and I’m already hard at work on a follow-up that capitalizes on everything that I’ve learned.
This EP, however, is not that follow-up.
Instead, Diva rounds out 2011 with a some fun while paying homage to a handful of artists that have greatly influenced me. Throughout the year, I’ve been recording cover songs as well as originals. Covering this music has taught me a good deal about song craft and has given me many opportunities to experiment with technique and delivery. Diva is a collection of my four favorite covers from this year, including versions of tracks originally by Mariah Carey, Dusty Springfield, La Roux, and R.E.M.
The lead track is my take on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” When I made it this May, I was aiming to win the award for “creepiest song of the holiday season” with de-tuned pianos, off-kilter harmonies, and vocal effects meant to evoke a bad psychedelic trip. Unfortunately, Mariah decided to win that award herself by re-recording the very same song with Justin Bieber. Hopefully this is a strong contender for second place.
“I Only Wanna Be with You” is a duet with Michael Nhat. Michael Nhat is one of the most iconoclastic performers in Los Angeles, and also one of the best. He came over one day this summer and we covered this Dusty Springfield classic. We also started work on a Boys II Men and Brandy cover, but that’s fallen by the wayside (that’s my fault — sorry Michael).
La Roux‘s debut album is one of the almost I’ve most loved over the past couple of years. “Bulletproof” isn’t necessarily my favorite song on the album, but of course it’s the one that attracted me in the first place. I used an Omnichord as the basis of this downbeat, calypso-inspired version. Dalton Blanco (Sexting, Skull Tape, Robin Williams on Fire) provides some extra hard beats, and Big Whup’s Jenna Eyrich wrote the bassline. I think this has already been covered by a lot of other bands. Oops.
The best recording on the EP, in my opinion, is my interpretation of R.E.M.’s “Tongue.” This was a cool experiment because it was the first time that I used a sample in a song. I built it using a loop I made from Mike Mills’ original piano line. When I was a teenager, R.E.M. was the most important band to me. They impacted both my taste and my worldview, and their demise inspired a lot of nostalgia and rumination. I finished this recording in September, immediately after they made the announcement that they had disbanded.
11/22/2011 • 11:03 am 0
08/18/2011 • 8:57 am 0
The picture above is from my show at Pehrspace on August 1st, which was the release party for my album Princess. It was an exciting show, and I’m really grateful for all the amazing people who came to see it. Sean Carnage has more photos on his website.
I’ve been doing a lot to promote the album, but probably the most fun thing has been this interview I gave to Mark Givens (of D.I.Y. heroes Wckr Spgt) for his massive electronic literary zine, MungBeing. Mark let me talk – a lot – about my musical history, my ideas about digital distribution, and Marcel Duchamp (of course). If you like that kind of stuff, you should read it! If not, you might want to check the nice little mp3 sampler that comes along with the interview – it includes some rare and unreleased jamz from my solo act, Big Whup, the New Motherfuckers, and Pizza!
Speaking of Pizza!, we just released this new video for our old song “Be a Man.” It was directed, beautifully, by our friend Blaine Ludy. When will we finally release new music? Sooner than you’d expect…
Oh yes, and there are also a couple of live shows to promote. One is this party at 5 Star Bar to celebrate the anniversary of the Summer Fun Time Society, an event production crew headed by my pal Vivian. You can RSVP on Facebook. Here’s a flyer for that one:
Finally, I’m organizing an event with FMLY on Saturday, Aug 27 at Tierra de la Culebra in Highland Park. It’s a “stripped-down” affair, and it will feature semi-acoustic performances by the likes of the Monolators, So Many Wizards, Dnonkong, Seasons, and Magick Orchids. You can also bring an instrument if you’d like to jam as well. Here’s the Facebook invitation. A flyer is forthcoming.
07/05/2011 • 6:29 pm 0