This is a just a little instrumental I made a little while back. I don’t even remember exactly how I made it, so I can’t tell the story! But I like it — it’s got two distinct parts and I think it’s pretty catchy.
05/02/2014 • 12:20 pm 0
04/29/2014 • 9:59 am 0
In November of 2010 I moved to Glassell Park, which is a neighborhood in North Los Angeles surrounded by Atwater Village to the South, Glendale to the West, Eagle Rock to the North, and Cypress Park to the East.
Now, I am officially moved out.
My original roommate, Kyle Mabson, found the apartment on Craigslist and we jumped at it because it was totally huge but priced at way under market value for LA. Part of the reason for the low price is because the apartment building is an aesthetically-unpleasing slum that is falling apart, but another big reason for the cheap living is that this neighborhood was only recently one of the worst centers of gang crime in the entire United States.
A couple of years before we moved in, the feds and the LAPD joined together to clean things up and did a fairly good job. Most of the really bad gang people went to jail right before we moved in – I actually get the sense that that’s why our apartment was vacated in the first place.
In the time that I lived there, everything was relatively peaceful. I kept my head down for a while, but I eventually stopped being afraid of walking around by myself at night. There were frightening things, occasionally, and nights when I was stirred from sleep by the sound of a search helicopter overhead. But that’s just city stuff.
Probably the most annoying people in the neighborhood, though, were the Little Gs.
All the big gangster dudes were carted off to jail in the police sweep, which meant that the only people left were the ones who were too young to have serious warrants yet. For these kids, the police crackdown was an attack on a social structure and way of life. And they were grumpy about it.
The Polynesian slur leads me to believe it was aimed at someone else.
This created a palpable tension, but the Little Gs didn’t really do much but scowl, have Noz parties all night, play music really loud, and spray-paint retarded shit on the walls of apartment buildings and the adjacent cemetery. No big deal.
They must’ve gone through a lot of cans of spray paint during the time that I was there. Everything would get painted over within a couple of days, sometimes hours, from when they put it on the walls. But they’d keep spraying. Usually it was just the name of the gang or the nickname of somebody who had died, like Lolo.
Anyway, there was only one time when their shenanigans really got out of hand. That was in January of 2013, a few weeks after Christmas.
As part of their whole “juvenile badass” schtick, the gang kids observe an annual holiday tradition of torching all of the Christmas trees that are left out in the street. It’s tiresome and foolish, but for the most part it is also harmless — they have enough sense to move the trees into the middle of the street and away from plants and cars.
But one night, as Sarah and I came home from Pehrspace at 4:00am after a marathon session of painting the place for her Saccharine Surreality show, we noticed something that was not harmless – a tree on fire on a sidewalk right next to a lot of dry brush and only few feet away from a Ford Explorer. No person was around.
I don’t know if an explosion was imminent but it could’ve been and that wasn’t cool so I did what I hope any of my rational neighbors would’ve done and I called 911. The fire truck took about 90 seconds to arrive and put the fire out very easily. I went to sleep content in the knowledge that a potential catastrophe had been averted.
The next morning, when I was pulling out of the parking garage to go out, I saw a new graffito on the cemetery wall. It was positioned precisely so that it would be seen by people pulling out of my apartment’s parking garage, and it read: “FUCK SNITCHES, 187!” (For those who have somehow never heard Snoop’s “What’s My Name?,” “187” is cop code for murder.)
So I wrote this song about them, which is mean and unforgiving. But I was pissed. And it took me a while to record, but I finally did that. So here it is:
For the record, calling the fire department to prevent potential loss of life and property is not “snitching.”
Anyway, I’m out.
04/23/2014 • 8:43 am 0
Have you ever wanted to just go on a space walk?
04/13/2014 • 11:23 am 0
I don’t actually have the desire to make a song for a car commercial, but I thought that this would go well behind a car commercial. Can’t you imagine some hot sports car hugging the turns in the rain as this jam played?
I flatter myself.
Anyway, I was thinking it would be cool to make a fake car commercial, like maybe with Hot Wheels cars or Micro Machines. Is anybody down to help?
04/04/2014 • 11:49 am 0
Look, I did it. This song, “Rollin’,” came pretty quickly and is very simple. Three chords! It’s a song about a feeling that comes in that little bit of time at the end of a co-habitating relationship when you still live together. That fun little bit of time.
I did this at Murderland, which is just a fancy name for my home studio. Is that a bad name? I looked it up online and murderland.com is already taken. Apparently there was some TV miniseries in Britain called Murderland, too (I have not seen it). I have a feeling that Murderland is a bad name, but I still like it.
03/27/2014 • 9:52 am 0
Why do we cover songs? What’s the point?
I hate it when I hear a cover song that sounds either a.) just like the original or b.) like it’s the result of a too-formulaic transposition of a performer’s established aesthetic onto another artist’s jam, like Limp Bizkit doing “Faith” or Reel Big Fish doing “Take on Me.”
If you want to do a precise version of a Green Day song in your bar band or drop a no-frills acoustic cover of “Driver 8” into your set at the coffee shop, that’s cool. But if you’re recording a cover, you should attempt to something to it or at least bring something out of what’s already there that is worth looking at more closely. By saying that I think that covers should “add something,” I’m not saying that artists should try and surpass the original versions because that’s likely to be a futile goal. But each recorded cover needs a reason to exist, even if it’s slight.
So for for what slight reason does this cover exist?
“Lay All Your Love on Me” is about jealousy, but the subtext is that it’s not condemnatory. I wanted to revel in the jealousy, as if it was a sublime pleasure, and I determined that I could do so with stark production that emphasized dark, crawling vocals. For a bit, it had no beat — just piano and bass sounds. But in the end, I added percussion to help keep it interesting through the duration and to (hopefully) keep it on the side of sultriness rather than creepiness.
The original version of this song is about as hard as ABBA gets. Mine is a little less club-ready, but I still hope it’s danceable.
02/17/2014 • 10:59 am 0
It took me way too long to post this, but that’s no excuse to not post it. I’ve got a backlog of things that I’ve done but not written about, and it’s time to start going through them.
A while ago, I noticed this band on Soundcloud called Lovevalley. They’re from Tokyo. I thought they had cool music, and then I noticed that they’d “liked” a couple of my songs.
I’d always wanted to collaborate with a stranger over the Internet, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try something like that. So, I messaged Lovevalley and they ended up sending me Garageband stems of this song that the singer, Tokimune, wrote a long time ago but never finished to his satisfaction.
I played a little bit of guitar, made the beat, added effects to the parts the band sent me, and sightly rearranged the order of the parts. We exchanged messages back and forth the whole time, with him giving me feedback as I tweaked the production.
It was so fun. I like collaboration in general, but doing it over wires and waves with people in Japan was very special. And it really shows the power of music as a community-maker.
Here is what we did:
05/22/2013 • 12:11 pm 0
I’ve really been enjoying Soundcloud recently. At first, I was just using it to try and promote my own music. Lately, I’ve been starting to actively “follow” people and listen to what’s going on in the world at large. Some of it is so good that it embarrasses me.
Here are some jams I’ve “liked” of late:
Around the time that Pizza! dissolved, Duncan jumped into graduate school at USC. He composed a lot of really nice, haunting and creative film music, much of which can be found on his Soundcloud. This is his final project, which he got to record at Warner Bros. Studios. In a comment, user HeadPhoneMash said, “Calling this music, Is a lie for your brain. This is not music. This is Magic!”
I know this guy’s brother but I don’t think I know him. Anyway, this gets me pumped.
I found this band when I was looking through my own stats and noticed that their account had been playing a lot of my songs. I’m not sure if this is weird music or just Japanese music, but it’s got a particular charm. The vocal abandon is intoxicating and if I could understand the words I’m sure this would become a classic car sing-along for me.
I kind of liked Cornershop back in the Nineties. I remember buying their CD back in the day when buying lots of CDs was the thing to do, but I don’t recall being impressed with it on the whole and I’m pretty sure I sold it to the store. Either my taste has expanded, or they’ve gotten better. Perhaps Kula Shaker will release a great new song soon too?
Tyler is an extraordinary producer. This might not be his best track, but it’s really gritty and it’s good for me when I want to strut around and pretend I’m tough. Also, he does vocal “pop pops” in the breaks and I just really like that personal touch.