Out and about

I don’t really talk about them here, usually, but I had a solo gig last night as an instrumentalist; it was entertaining, the people were friendly, the other performer group they had came over and hung out ’cause they liked my work, and they had free b00ze – what else do you need, really?

Oh, right, MOAR GIGS. That’s what I need. Anybody got someplace they want to see me play? If I can get there, I’ll apply! (Assuming the money flows to the artist, of course. You know how that goes, it’s the same as in publishing.) And yes, I do tips/bar sales gigs – whatever works. I’d prefer singing gigs, obviously, ’cause I like those songs better and I write about things that I want out there, but I’ll take either.

Finally, I want to thank all the people who wrote reviews, both positive and negative. You can see a list of reviews here, in the comments section of the announcement post. The winner of the drawing is Maria-Katriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiina! She was kind enough to leave me her email, so she’ll be getting the prize of her choice soon. ^_^

Drawing deadline and reviews

Rosemary and Rue author Seanan McGuire, on her Livejournal, pointed at this article by Michael Melcher called, “What to Do When Your Friend Writes a Book.” The subject is pretty well handled by the title! She linked to it as part of a post on negative reviews. I got a negative review this week, myself; it had some positive things in it, but the reviewer hates my singing voice, at least in these tracks. He liked the instrumental (Cascadia), so I suppose it’s only 75% negative! That’s something, at least.

But I’m not sure what to think of the Melcher article. I mean – changing “book” to “CD” – he’s right about what all this feels like, what people want to hear when they put something out there into the world, and so on. But I think having the sorts of expectations he seems to have is really kind of asking for it. (And maybe also asking a lot. I dunno.) Don’t get me wrong; it’d be nice, but it doesn’t exactly strike me as realistic. What do you think?

Oh, don’t forget, if you want to do a review of Sketchy Characters to be entered for the drawing, the deadline is this Sunday evening at midnight. I have two good reviews and one bad one so far, and not all of those want to be in the drawing, so your chances in the drawing are pretty good!

One down

I have a bassline in the can! I’m pleased. It’s for “Thought You Knew,” which will be on Dick Tracy. It’s not the most complex thing in the world, really, but Anna did look up while I was practicing it in the media room and ask what it was from, because it sounded pretty good. It came from ME! Yay!

I’ve also started work on the two sound baffles I need for the studio window. I’m doing it in two parts because as a single unit it would be OMG HUGE (almost two metres wide, 130cm tall) and because if I make two smaller separate units with detachable legs, as is my plan, I can use them for other sound-managing tasks as needed – just pop ’em off the tall legs, put them on low supports, and ping! instant drum kit isolation. Or whatever. Options are good. It’s becoming necessary – too many people are getting out their lawn mowers and leaf blowers and and and WHY WILL YOU NOT SHUT UP I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL WITH MY HEAT RAY BUT LATER. You know, that sort of thing.

I’m not looking forward to the stink, tho’. I make these out of PVC and new carpet remnants that I get for usually around 40ยข/sq. foot at various liquidation houses. I make PVC frames, then wrap them on two sides with carpet, tying it together with twine. The sound dampening that results is really effective, even at lower frequencies, and clean. But new carpet is stinky stuff. Hopefully the roll I’ve had sitting in the basement a few months has lost some of its tang.

I knew I had a photo uploaded already! See below. The shaggy monolith on the right, up against the wall, is my main sound damper right now, and it’s made in this way. (Note: colour of carpet is not relevant. Hideousness is cheaper is just as quiet.) Note the PVC support to keep it from tipping over; it’s attached to the inside frame, but pops right off. The inside frame is MOAR PVC! And the window in the picture is the one I need to muffle:


Click photo to enragelarge

Finally, if you’re thinking of writing a review for the drawing, the deadline for the drawing is Sunday evening, at Midnight. Please give it a go! The review doesn’t have to be long, it just has to say what you think and point to the CFoE bandcamp site where other people can listen to the CD. Thanks!

Yeah, that's starting to sound right

I’ve seen a couple of reviews for Sketchy Characters so far – Cathy wrote up a nice little review on Facebook that I can’t link to because Facebook can bite me. (It was public, just not linkable.) And Vicka wrote up a really long and nice review here that I can link! She really put a lot of work into it and I appreciate that a lot. I’m heard from a third person that they’re going to post a review this weekend, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. If you have a chance, I’d really enjoy seeing more reviews, positive or negative – there’s still the drawing! People are clicking through from these, and playing songs.

I’ve come down with a much milder version of the death cold my partner Anna’s been fighting, but I’m not letting that stop me from practicing bass. It’s starting to sound like an instrument being played intentionally, which is good. It doesn’t help when I do things like learn one pattern for a key when I start in the lower octave and a different pattern when I start in the higher (GENIUS WHAT) but at least I’m noticing it now and fixing it. I’m also starting to get a little more confident – starting to add bits of style, and generally being concerned with more than just playing the right notes at the right time. Nothing like advanced techniques yet, of course, and the screwup count is still really high, but I’m making progress.

I need to shift back to other instruments more, though. I’ve got a private gig on the 23rd, and it’s not that long until festival season begins! Plus I’ve got a bunch of songs I wrote over the winter that need learning and playing and more polish and and and.

I’m too damn slow. I must not be getting my RDA of smack.

Learning to play

I’m learning to play electric bass. I’m playing a 1961 hollow-body Klira, the type known as a “McCartney Bass,” but a different maker; I’ve talked about it before. I’m doing it partly because I wanted to poke around at bass – and it is fun – but mostly I’m doing it right now because I need a bassline on several of these songs, and electronic octave-dropping an octave mandolin isn’t always the right answer.

But it’s another goddamn skill I get to level up before I can finish Dick Tracy Must Die. This is intensely frustrating. I’d built up real studio momentum, and now this new spanner’s been thrown in the works. Sure, I’m still recording other things – “Artefacts” is pretty much finished now, minus some technical clean-up; “Thought You Knew” is not quite there but close – but it’s like an ax got wedged in my brain. It’s divided attention, where the sum is greater than the parts, but you’re going at it the backwards way, from the sum to the parts, a loss rather than a gain.

For a couple of weeks there, I was entirely in make-the-recording mode and out of figure-out-recording mode, and I liked that. I was applying learned skills in a pretty serious way. It’s not that I wasn’t learning, still; I was. But it was different, in the trying-different-things way rather than the learning-basic-things way. That mode is what got Sketchy Characters out the door.

But now I’m back behind that threshold again, and it feels like swimming in molasses. It’s not that I’m not gaining skill at bass; I am. Yesterday, for the first time, I recorded a bassline for “Thought You Knew” that I listened to and thought, “okay, I could edit this into something passable.” It’s not passable as-is – not close – but there are enough proper bits in it that I could probably hack it into something that sounded okay. Today, I recorded a take that was meaningfully better than yesterday’s, tho’ still not in the actually-okay range.

It’s coming, but not quickly enough. Worse, I’m spending so much time on learning electric bass that I’ve been neglecting everything else.

And after Dick Tracy Must Die, I already have two more CDs worth of material. Next comes the instrumental CD Distractions – that one should at least be easy – and the follow-up which doesn’t have a title yet, but does have 10 or 11 songs waiting for it. I write a lot faster than I record, and getting what I hear in my head out so you lot can hear it too is so much work.

I know that eventually I’ll get past this – again – and it’ll still be work but I’ll know what I’m doing, and it’ll be ten times faster, and sound better, and be easier and and and. I look forward to that time a lot. But right now, that feels like it’s two centuries away.

Let's have a contest!

I need MOAR LINKS to my Bandcamp site, so people can find my musics! I have studied this with SCIENCE! and know it in my heart to be true. So! Let’s have a contest! My partner Anna does this with her books all the time and it seems to work, so I’ll totally rip that action off! There’ll be a drawing for either a copy of the CD (the actual physical CD, mailed to you, along with a download link for immediate gratification) or Anna’s current novel, Faerie Blood.

Enter this way:

  1. Listen to the Crime and the Forces of Evil EP Sketchy Characters! You can stream the entire thing on the Bandcamp site for free (clicky!).
  2. Post a public review somewhere. It can be on your blog, on Dreamwidth, on Facebook, Twitter even, whereever. Short, long, good, bad, the chick with the gun, it doesn’t matter, just be honest.
  3. Link to the Crime and the Forces of Evil Bandcamp site ( url: http://crimeandtheforcesofevil.bandcamp.com ) in your review. For bonus points in my heart, but not extra credit in the drawing, embed one or more of the songs! (You can! Click on “Share” and follow the directions.)
  4. Come over to Crime and the Blog of Evil and comment on this entry with a link to your review and some way to identify you later. (I’ll check the Dreamwidth or Livejournal echos too, but the original is best.)
  5. Reviews and links must be posted by midnight the evening of Sunday, 21 March 2010 Cascadian/Pacific Time.

Everybody who does this gets put into a drawing for either:

  1. A physical copy of Sketchy Characters mailed to you, anywhere on Earth. Or, if you hated it (or already have it), you’ll get:
  2. A copy of Anna’s current novel, Faerie Blood, published by Drollerie Press. You can read an excerpt from Faerie Blood here. It’s a multi-format ebook, so Kindle, Nook, Stanza, Sony Reader et al all work.

If you don’t like either of those, well, I’ll mail you a photo of our cats. Our cats are cute, and they like you.

The review doesn’t have to be long. Just say what you think, good or bad. But the link must be there or it doesn’t count! And don’t forget to link to your review in comments on the Blog of Evil. Thanks!

A rejection I can support.

I got rejected by a venue today – the Seattle Farmers’ Market Alliance – for being inadequately generic.

No, really, I’m not making that up! Here’s the rejection explanation line from their email:

we are looking for music that is a little more upbeat and generic

Those are their words.

Frankly? I can live with that. No, wait, better: that’s going on the reviews page, as soon as I have one. Gotta do it.

Show schedules

Oh, I need to figure out how to put together a proper show schedule page. I just got booked for a private event in a couple of weeks, and even though it’s a private event, it’s good to have those in your show list, because it shows you can get jobs, eh?

If I'm this neurotic, why aren't I acting?

I like feedback on things. I really do. I kinda need it. I mean, I’m not looking for people to tell me what I should be recording and shouldn’t – fuck that. I have my music and I write it and I’m recording it, slowly. I kinda just want to know people care enough to react in some way. I tend to think other people want that too, which is why I’m a little hyperactive with the “like” link on Facebook posts, and junk like that. It’s a way of saying, “I saw this and am telling you so.”

I think people tend to forget that I’m totally still feeling my way forward on all this recording and writing and playing and just assume I know more than I do. In fact, this post is triggered by mentioning privately to someone that I was feeling kind of disappointed by the lack of commentary back to me on Sketchy Characters. (Mind you, I know a lot of tracks got played, because Bandcamp has good stats, and that’s super-awesome! But I heard from like four people out of substantially more than 100.) And the person I mentioned this to replied – paraphrasing all this, of course – that they’d listened and just kind of assumed that I knew they liked my music, which I kinda hadn’t done. I kind of have to fight off the whole, “well, they’re saying nothing rather than saying how much that sucked” insecurity bullshit.

I also think people think I have much, much more confidence than I actually do. I don’t, really. I just say fukkit and do things anyway.

And really I suppose were I a Better Self-Actualised Person or whatever psychobabble you put on it, I wouldn’t care. In fact, I shouldn’t! Good artists ignore critics and work for the work, I’m told. (And really, I do. I love this. I just played an hour set for my sound baffles. Yes, I’ll play for inanimate objects. It’s good practice for farmer’s markets, aheh…) But I’ve been playing anything other than flute for barely two years, and while yeah, I’ll say it: I learn pretty fucking fast, I’m still pretty overwhelmed by all the shit I don’t know, and all the things I don’t even know that I don’t know!

Plus there’s the whole, “does this even register out there?” thing. Does it?

Conundrum

You know how it’s really difficult when you’re deciding between two tasty targets, both of which offer pretty good reward, but one of which looks so tempting and so available and not much more difficult – and you know some giant muppet is about to go off screaming about traps? Yeah, it’s like that.

I’ve got a new version of Artefacts. It’s mostly the same version as the one in Sketchy Characters; it just has the bass track now and a re-recorded bodhran track and some relevelling and other tweaks. But to my brain it sounds somewhere between a zillion and a gazillion times better! And, surprisingly, the two people who have heard it thus far both think I re-recorded the vocal tracks, which I actually haven’t touched – they just integrate better with the new sounds, which makes them sound new.

And I really want to post it, right? I want it out there. Particularly with people hitting the Bandcamp site pretty regularly! BUT: it’s still not quite finished! And I kinda want the whole Dick Tracy Must Die album to come out at once. So I’ve got temptations on both sides, and Immediate Gratification Angel is in a wrestling match with Admiral Ackbar and I don’t need that in my brain.

So I dunno. I’m still working on it. What do you think?

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The Music

THE NEW SINGLE