Geoff Geis

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I Survived

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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.

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What I Won’t Miss About Glassell Park

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.

When we moved in, I noticed this graffito scrawled above my car in the parking garage. The racial slur against Polynesians leads me to believe it was aimed at someone else. 

This penciled graffito is scrawled above where I kept my car in the parking garage.  It says, “Fagot, Puto, Poly, Tengo SIDA,” or, “Faggot, Male Prostitute, Polynesian, He has AIDS.” The Polynesian slur leads me to believe that it was not aimed at me.

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.

Though Lolo was apparently well-loved by his homies, they probably should have saved up for something a little more permanent to remember him by.

Though Lolo was apparently well-loved by his homies, they should have saved up for something more permanent to remember him by.

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.

Here's a further relief on that puto pic. Notice that the puto has a super long dick with balls in the middle, which facilities him boofing a dog from the front.

Here’s a further relief on that puto pic. Notice that the puto has a super long dick with balls in the middle, which facilities him boofing a dog from the front.

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.

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Song for an Imaginary Space Mission

Have you ever wanted to just go on a space walk?

I agree. This is some trippy cash.

I agree. This is some trippy cash.

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Song From an Imaginary Car Commercial

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?

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Rollin’

Last month, I promised on this very website that I would have a breakup song soon!

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.

I stole this straight off the Internet. Not gonna lie.

I stole this straight off the Internet. Not gonna lie.

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Lay All Your Love on Me (ABBA cover)

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.

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Another collaboration

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:

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More things I’ve liked on Soundcloud

I’ve been listening to jams Soundcloud again. Here are more items I’ve “liked” lately:

I’m not sure how or why I slept on Kid Static’s album Hypnotized, especially since its 2010 release date means that it coincided with his time in Los Angeles. Today he posted it on Soundcloud and it sounded so fresh that I thought it was new.

This one, called “When My Soul Goes Down,” is my favorite track from the record. There’s a lot of up, even happy-sounding, stuff on the record, but this appeals to me because it’s dark and vulnerable. And it sounds huge.

Daniel Trudeau, who releases music under the name Pregnant, is currently soliciting money. If you give him $5 or more, he’ll make you a song and give you a specialized patch symbolizing a specific energy. This is a pretty cool idea, and perhaps you should jump on it before demand becomes huge and he has to mark it up to $10 or even $15.

Anyway, Daniel has been posting his songs and I’ve been hearing them and this is one of them, written apparently for a person named Britanny (or perhaps the region of in Northern France pooled its funds and bought one for the community).

I checked out this dude Naweed Delpiano because he’d commented on one of my tracks. According to his profile, he lives in France but once lived in Afghanistan. Both places appear to have influenced his instrumentals, which appear to be heavily-if-not-entirely MIDI produced.

I like how he takes a free-wheeling approach to composition, meaning that all of his tracks seem to start in one place and go to several others before settling down somewhere completely different. Some of it’s kind of bombastic, too, as Naweed isn’t afraid of using his interesting and complex melodic sense on wild, elongated guitar and MIDI sax solos.

It’s good to have the best part of Metallica distilled into something like this, although it makes me hungry for a sequel featuring other Hetfield classics like “the grunt.”

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Things I’ve liked on Soundcloud

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.

 

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About


I'm a musician and writer from Los Angeles. When I feel motivated, I use this website to share my creative output and give my thoughts on the world around me.

Vanity Projects

I release cassettes and zines under the Vanity Projects label; I've done things by myself and also things by friends. Visit Vanity Projects on Tumblr.

@GeoffGeis on Twitter

Music

This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

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