Archive for November, 2011

i may joke about it

Self-promotion is the downside of trying to be an independent musician. I don’t have VH-1, I don’t have VEVO, I don’t have Billboard Magazine, I don’t have radio stations, I don’t have record stores.

I have you guys, and I have my website. And the website is useless without you guys. You who like the album, who think it’s worth hearing, who think its themes are relevant and interesting?

You’re the ones who make this work, or not.

I need ears. Am I in this for the money? That’s hilarious. I want to make a living at this, of course, but I’d make literally orders of magnitude more money consulting part-time. And it’d be less work.

But this is my art. And what I really want is for my music to find its listeners.

So I’m asking you to help.

  • Order a copy, play it for people. Order the studio album as a gift, if you have a copy already. I have free shipping on second/third/fourth CDs on Bandcamp. On CD Baby, second/third/fourth copies are discounted by $3 each.
  • If you like Cracksman Betty or Espionage, the free/pay-what-you-want albums, download and burn them for someone else as a stocking-stuffer.
  • Just tell people. Like the band page on Facebook, point people at Bandcamp, leave a review or just Like the album on on Amazon or iTunes Music Store, or on your own blog or Livejournal or Facebook or Google+ page.

I may joke about buying in to the whole Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday noise – and I do, believe me – but it really does matter. I care about my art, and I want it to be heard. There are endless numbers of good reasons to slam the record companies – and I do – but what you cannot deny is their ability to promote. They can sell anything, and do.

And then take all your money and leave you bankrupt. That’s the downside. Their way sucks.

Some of us – more and more of us – are trying to find other ways. I’m patterning after people like Marian Call, Leannan Sidhe, SJ Tucker, Ultraklystron, Rai Kamishiro, dozens if not hundreds of others. We’re all indie musicians, doing exactly the opposite of the Big Record Label Model. We’re relying on your ability, and willingness, to share what you like, rather than screwing you down as tightly as possible to their ideas about how they should own everything you hear and see.

It’s their way, vs. your ability to share. I don’t want their way. I want yours. That’s why there’s no DRM on any of my work.

So support your artists – musical, visual, whatever – directly, whoever they are. Not just through money, tho’ that’s good, but through sharing stuff, and through talking about what you like.

Including, I hope, me. Thank you.

PS: I’ve been going through the video and audio from the show on the 18th. I’ll be dropping at least one of those on the YouTube channel by the end of the week. Keep an eye out.

finally getting ahead of this learning curve


Hey, it’s Cyber Monday! I’ve got second-CD-shipping set to free, globally, on the band sales site, and second CDs are 20% off on CD Baby! Supervillain music: not only does it make a great present, but the locator chip in the jewel case tells us where not to aim the heat ray! GIVE THE GIFT OF NOT BEING SET ON FIRE! 😀

And now that’s out of the way…

I think I’m finally getting ahead of this learning curve.

I’m gonna put a couple of live videos on youtube, from the last stop on this past tour. I’m not sure what songs yet, I’m still narrowing that down. (Got any requests? Let me know.)

The deciding factor for what goes up will be video quality. It’s not how good the sound is, how good my mic discipline was, or even the performances, because really, that’s all just fine. It’s the video part.

And that’s new, and awesome. It’s taken a lot of work for all the many-more-things-than-you-know that go into a live amped and recorded show to come together this way. A year ago, I’d maybe get one live recording from a show that I’d’ve been okay to have public. “Something’s Coming,” on Dick Tracy Must Die, was recorded live at the Lyon’s Den, for example.

But most of them would’ve had one problem or another. Pops in the microphone. Some stupid fade. The minidisc player failing. Bad levels. The sound guy feeding my recorder the reverb effects return by accident, so all I had was reverb and not the actual music*.

Or voice problems! Singing isn’t my core talent, and I am leagues ahead of where I started, and ahead of last year. Getting good vocals was the hardest performance part of the studio album, by far; it took dozens of takes. Now, lately, I can pop off that level of performance without even thinking about it**.

Things like that. Live recording is hard work. So many things can and do go wrong.

But this year, this tour, and particularly, this last show, the first one where I have complete video? There’s also not a goddamn thing on this latest recording I wouldn’t play for somebody. Hell – I sing along.

Sure, there are flaws. It’s not perfect, there are always things I’d like to do better, particularly in vocals. And I need to patch together some way of getting genuinely separate vocal and instrument recordings, so I can do better equalisation and have better post-show mixes.

But this tour really was a level-up experience. Between the Spooky Action show, the guest spot with Leannan Sidhe that got me my own separate two-song encore***, the set I’m least happy with – the Sidhehaven show – being called “wonderful” on Facebook, and this?

I’m starting to think I might just be gettin’ the hang of this thing. I really do.

I like that. I like it a lot.

Stick around, why don’t you? This trip’s starting to get interesting.

**: I’ve got something I want to release for you guys SO MUCH but I’m still waiting for permission. SO. MUCH. First take, one take, true live recording (no separate vocals/instrument recording), BOOM and done. But it’s a cover, so release must wait.
***: and thanks so much again to them for putting up with that! <3 XD

happy small business saturday

Happy Small Business Saturday! Pick a business or artist you would miss if they were gone, and drop a buck or two on them. We rely on you.

(Stolen from Marian Call, over on Twitter, whose music you should check out sometime.)

and in these last late hours

…of Second Thanksgiving, what am I grateful for?

The obvious things, of course – my partner Anna, the ability to plot my way through the financial and political crises of the day, the friends I have, all those things that matter to everyone. They matter to me, too.

But more, I’m thankful for the opportunity and ability to at least try to execute my art. I’ve fought hard for this – both for opportunity and ability – in ways most of you will never know, and really, don’t want to know. I don’t have many fans yet (and I love you, fans I have!) and I may never succeed the way I want or be able to make a living wage at it…

…but I can legitimately try.

Getting to that point has been a monumental battle, physical and emotional, of many phases and many years. And I have attained at least that much, at long last.

And for that, and for this opportunity, I am profoundly grateful.

and yet I post something anyway

I wasn’t going to post today, because HI SECOND THANKSGIVING HI HOUSECLEANING O SHIT HI HOUSECLEANING THERE CERTAINLY IS A LOT OF YOU ISN’T THERE XD but this is a pretty good six-input USB 2.0 audio interface that I suspect they’re discontinuing in favour of a USB 3.0 version. The Windows drivers apparently kinda blow donkeys if you care about that, but it’s also a USB 2.0 class-compliant audio interface (say the specs), so, sure, whatever. For $92 vs. street of $250? That’s pretty good.

YES I’VE ORDERED ONE don’t judge me and my impulse buying. (No, I didn’t get a kickback. Dammit.)

Talking of kickbacks, it’s HOLIDAY SEASON! TIME TO SHILL MY STUFF!

But! Music makes a great gift! And I need to pay for that audio interface! And I just set free shipping on second-third-fourth-etc copies of the physical full-band studio-recorded album, Dick Tracy Must Die! Order 10 physical CDs, get free shipping on nine! SUCH A BARGAIN!

Plus I’ll throw in magnets of evil (HOW DO THEY WORK?!) while supplies last. Then I’ll probably make some more, people seem to like them.

Wow, I’m bad at marketing. I hate this part, and I’m so totally bad at it. I’d rather play my bouzouki and chat people up after the show. XD

Do any of you guys sell your art? How do you handle the “sales” part?

that was totally awesome

First house tour is a wrap! Friday night I played my last show of this first set, out on Bainbridge Island, at Ann Lovejoy’s house, arranged by her son, Peter, and hosted by both.

And their cat

Every show this tour has been a great time and every one has had its own separate highlight – guesting with Leannan Sidhe and drawing a two-show encore, being all creepy and shit at Spooky Action at a Distance, enjoying the hospitality of the first official House Concert qua House Concert at Sidhehaven.

Bainbridge Island, tho’ – this one got a public review. Check this shit out:

Last night, Solarbird came over and did a House Concert out here, and totally rocked the house. And I mean rocked. It took me a long time to come down enough to drift off to sleep, with Stars still running through my head, and I’m still bouncing from it this morning… this was kind of in the same ballpark as having Lemmy or someone show up and do a set in the living room. It was awesome.

That kind of explodes my brain – with AWESOME! 😀 Thank you again, Peter and Ann, and I’m so happy that I did not disappoint. And thanks again to everybody, really; this was all new to me and I thank all of you for taking a chance on this.

I’m still in a bit of a daze, putting things back together and looking over video and inventorying what worked and what didn’t, working on my repair/new equipment checklist and and and that’s not important, I want to do this again! Now! Or in February, which seems reasonably possible. Anybody willing to host and invite people? Pleeeeease?

I’ve also been told that I should do conventions – anybody have an in, anywhere? Let me on a stage, I’ll play it. 😀

I’ll probably be too busy to post on Wednesday because of Second Thanksgiving. But maybe not, we’ll see. I still haven’t had time to pull the audio off the recorder yet, even! And next week is allll shopping and cooking. But here:

[poll id=”20″]

Finally, have some photos:

Bye, Seattle!

I love ferries <3

Hi, Winslow

Hi, Boats!

Have a good week!

ferry ferry quite contrary

Today is the last stop on my autumn house tour, at 8959 Battle Point Drive NE, Bainbridge Island – a ferry trip! If I have to wait for a second ferry – as the transportation website indicates is likely – then it’d actually be faster to drive all the way around through Tacoma.

That seems… unlikely. But I’m not going to risk it. I’m going to leave stupidly early and probably not even have to wait a ferry and end up out on the island REALLY early. If you’re seeing this before, like, 1pm Cascadian time – where’s a good place to kill time on Bainbridge Island? Anything near the terminal?

I’m already planning out a February tour! Anybody willing to host? Please contact me! I really do want to do this, I handle all the tech side so you don’t have to worry about any of that, and it’s fun. 😀

mostly with the experiments

First: SHOW! FRIDAY! 8959 Battle Point Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, WA. Doors 6pm, show 7pm, $7 suggested donation, but if you can’t afford that, come anyway.

I’m starting to think I’ve got all I’m going to get out of the Cracksman Betty project. I’ve got one more song already recorded that I’d like to add, and maybe one bonus track, but I think it’s about done.

I have a few specific plans (Touring! The next studio album! nwcMUSIC 2012!) that’ll get underway for sure, but I want to wedge in at least one more thing on top of those, because I’m insane. Got any ideas?

[poll id=”19″]

Also, Sherry from Sidhehaven took a photo during the show, and said I could post it! Thanks!

photo courtesy Sherry Kirk

Several experiments from the Sidhehaven show worked to varying degrees. Yay! The camera, even with all the space left in the world, didn’t even come close to running out of battery or space on the card! But it shuts video off at around the 38m mark anyway. Note “around the.” The exact time is different each time, and has nothing obvious to do with space left. I don’t know why.

Sadly, the camera’s onboard mic is lame. But I had my good quality recorder hooked up! Yay! But it was through the monitor speaker, which, turns out, has kind of a crappy pre-amp, and the sound quality is kind of not good. Boo! So I have a post-tour goal: build a proper interface so I can use both monitor and recorder at the same time, without losing quality.

Also I need to rebuild that monitor’s preamp. It really does kind of blow.

Hm, sounds like the cats have turned on Radio Two again downstairs. THANKS CATS. Better go fix that before Anna wakes up. See you Friday, I hope!

i love touring

Hey, minions! Back up in the Lair for a couple of days before heading back out again. Thank you again, Sidhehaven, for having me in for a show, letting me crash in your yome, and for showing me such kind hospitality!

Anybody willing to host a house concert in February? I’m loving the house concert tour thing, I want to do more of it, and I already have one offer on the table in North Seattle. Please, let me know!

You Think You’re So Clever With Your Lens Flares, Abrams!

Sherry said I really should do a web single of the song I premiered at Sidhehaven. I’m going to work on that after the current tour and see what happens. I hesitate in part because I tend to revise songs a lot as I perform them out, and they improve for that, and this one’s new.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t do a version now and then a revised version for the next album. If I can get somewhere I like with it, I’ll likely do that.

Sidhehaven Gremlin says Hi

At home, now, I’m mostly replenishing supplies and the like – repairing a cable, dumping recordings to hard drives, things like that. K’ Wiley gave me some advice a few weeks ago about making up lyrics stickers, and wow, people reallllllllly like those! I’m out of several and have already printed up more for the Bainbridge Island show on Friday:

You get a MINION sticker if you bring a friend. 😀 Or if you help out with the merch table (thanks, Annie!) or something like that. I want to make buttons but nobody seems to have a button maker I can borrow!

That’s it for now. Come to the show on Friday, and don’t forget the new fan mailing list download. This isn’t going up on Bandcamp or Cracksman Betty or anything. So if you’re on the list and didn’t get a download code, tell me! I’ll fix it. 😀

haven of the sidhe

Hi from south of the Salish Sea, south of the Sound! I am safely ensconced in, as the kids used to say, “da house,” and on their LANd (ar ar ar) and have met many people! Many more than I can remember names right now. I’m working on that. I only made one wrong turn and that was Google Maps’s fault. (“Third left,” no. Fourth left, yes.)

Sidhehaven is even artier than I think I expected, and also much! larger! than I thought. It reminds me a bit of the original Murkworks, my old group housing, back in Ye Daye, including a cat who looks kind of like Ellen’s cat of the time, Sarah. But they’re far more organised. Sarah Doppelganger Kitty is very friendly and once in a while unexpectedly pointy, loving you with noms. I like him. But I do not nom his hed.

Tomorrow there will be biscuits and gravy! Vegetarian style. I haven’t had biscuits and gravy in a very long time and am looking forward to it. 😀 And then there will be setting up for show and rehearsal and then we figure out all the shit I forgot XD SHOW! Doors are officially 6pm, but really, it’s flexible, and show starts at 7.

I should probably have some sleeps. Or at least should probably head in that direction. Maybe I will see some of you tomorrow! Say hi, if I do!

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