out-of-phase

I’d like to pause for a moment to bring up a serious subject.

Did you know that it is estimated that over half a million people in the U.S. alone suffer from what is known as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome? People who are afflicted with this sleep disorder have their circadian rhythms shifted out-of-phase, and tend to fall asleep well after midnight and have a very difficult time waking up early. This horrible problem leads people to do things like post blogs at 3am, or stay up really late surfing the internet. Although sometimes they stay up late making dope beats. Anyways, then they set their alarm clocks–often 2 or 3 of them–to go off at a decent time, only to have the uncontrollable urge to hit the snooze button over and over again for a span of several hours.

You may be asking yourself, what can I do to help solve this awful problem? There must be something I can do to help these poor people? Well, there is. First off, you can go to your doctor and tell him/her that you are interested in trying out sleep drugs such as Lunesta and Ambien. Then, after you receive a sample pack of drugs, you can mail them off to my address. If enough people can do this, I can then fill a bottle full of these pills. Then I can take masking tape and a sharpie, and label the bottle “magic happy sleep pills.” You see, it’s quite simple and will cost you next to nothing.

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Published in: on May 28, 2008 at 3:33 am  Comments (2)  

lotus position

One dude who is keeping me real optimistic about the state of new music today is LA’s own Flying Lotus.  I’ve only discovered him this year, but the way he crafts thick, nasty, organic beats with beautiful other-worldly video game sounds just sends me to another place and time.  The fact that his auntie is the late, great Alice Coltrane and his cousin is Ravi doesn’t hurt.  He’s about to drop a new record on Warp next month.  There’s a great interview of him that xlr8r just put up, and you have to try playing his flash video game.

Published in: on May 20, 2008 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

dear mercury…

…might you happen to be in retrograde at the moment?

Just wondering because this has been a rather interesting weekend so far. Yesterday the Leviathan Brothers had a performance at an organization’s national convention. I had emailed our tech rider (a band’s list of technical requirements for the sound engineer) to the organizers so that it was perfectly clear what we needed. I even called them the day before to make sure everything was understood, and they said “sure, everything is set.” Let me say, compared to most bands, our tech requirements are pretty minimal– all we ask for is a decent PA system, a couple monitors, and a few mics (we even supply our own DI boxes).

So, we arrive at the convention location (a hotel) only to find a stage, a podium, and… nothing else. Not even a PA system. I finally track down our contact person, and mention that “I happened to notice there’s no PA.” She looks at me with that “oh shit, I fucked up but I better not let him know” face, and says “oh yeah… you guys need that, huh? Just give me one moment.” About 10 minutes later she introduces us to the hotel staff who will take care of our sound needs.

“Hi, my name’s Miles.
“Hi, I’m Guy”

“Hi Guy,” (it sounded funny saying that) “Well, all we need is a mic for Sean, an input for Sean’s DI box, an input for my DI box, and maybe a mic for the drums.”

Guy stares at me for a second. “OK, well. I don’t actually understand what you’re saying. We don’t really deal with bands hardly ever, so… what is this DI box thing you’re talking about?”

After explaining to him what a DI box was, it seemed like everything would be ok–they did have a small mixer and PA system. That is, until we started playing. It seems the hotel only owns ONE speaker, and it’s only slightly bigger than a breadbox. Hardly enough for someone to give a speech through, let alone several keyboards and two samplers. The sound coming out of the speaker was distorted and sounded like ass, and because there was nobody manning the mixing board, we couldn’t try to fix the eq until we stopped playing. And you know, there’s nothing quite like staring out at a room full of people who are paying absolutely no attention to your music.

Oh, and what’s the deal with people who think they can just walk up to a band in the middle of playing and have a conversation? This lady comes up to me while I’m playing, and says “hey, do you guys play like a samba or something uptempo? Cause I’m going to teach a samba class and I want to show people my samba dance.” How do you respond to that? “You’ll have to wait and see,” was all I came up with. This was right before a drum solo was coming up. Hey lady, do you happen to notice that I’m, oh, slightly preoccupied at the moment?

Anyways, that was yesterday. I also got an email from a friend and great musician informing me that my gig today was cancelled. It wasn’t his fault at all, UCLA totally fucked up and publicized the wrong time. Then I remembered that I had turned down a well-paying gig because it was at the same time as this cancelled gig. Oh well, that’s life.

And now, I just found out that my Leviathan Brothers gig tomorrow is cancelled. The promoter changed the venue last minute and couldn’t tell us for sure what time we were going on. So we were like, eff that.

But you know what? It’s all good. This is all just a part of the game, and I’m learning to expect it. If this post sounded dark, it really isn’t–I’m just venting playfully and really things could be much worse, like if I lived somewhere like, oh, Burma. Anyways, sorry for the long post!

Published in: on May 17, 2008 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

mastering done + new song!

After making a few minor tweaks to the mixes, I brought them back to Kelly on Tuesday and finalized the mastering. The new professionally mastered versions are now up on the myspace page for your listening pleasure–although you might not hear much of a difference since the myspace player uses such a low-quality mp3 stream. But trust me, it sounds awesome.

Oh, and I uploaded a previously un-uploaded song that is on the album. It’s called City Cell. Does the title refer to the modern urban condition as an analogy to an endlessly bleak landscape of cement cellblocks? Or does it refer to each individuals life as but one cellular unit in a larger network of the living, breathing, thriving organism that is our community? I dunno, it’s your call.

Brent is hard at work on the artwork, and so far it looks face-meltingly sick. Now all I have to do is figure out what to do next. I’m thinking concentrating on digital distrubution (with art included, of course), and maybe making a small run of physical CDs to use as promotion and for those who are old-school (like me). I want to shop around my album to some independent lablels (hey, it’s worth a shot at least). So far I can think of Plug Research, Ninja Tune, Alpha Pup, and Ubiquity. Any suggestions?

Published in: on May 15, 2008 at 2:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

masters of the universe

Kelly Hibbert finished mastering my Boundary Waters album last week, and on Friday I rolled over to his studio to work on sequencing the tracks (getting them in the right order and putting the right amount of space between them, or in other cases crossfading them together). He gave me a reference CD to listen to at home, and he did an incredible job. The tracks sound huge and smooove, and translate well to different playback systems. I’m super excited. There’s just a couple things that need to be tweaked (some level adjustments between instruments that I need to do on my end) and we can finalize the mastering.

Hey, do you know who Brent Harada is? If not, you should. He’s a homie from LA that lives in NYC now and does just ridiculously sick art. He’s doing art for Boundary Waters, and that’s another reason why I’m really excited. Check out his art on his myspace page. It makes my brain expand into the 10th dimension.

While I’m at it I’d like to give a shout out to another awesome artist, Mr. Shyminja aka David the Dazzler. David committed full time to his art a little while before I did, and I’m so grateful for the encouragement he gave me. I met both of these guys through my friend Simone, so I have her to thank for having really cool friends and being really cool herself. Some day I will join you guys in NYC!

Published in: on May 11, 2008 at 11:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

take two

Almost four years ago I started a blog, back when it was the new thing and everyone you knew suddenly had one.  How exciting!  I would spend hours composing entries full of well-written, elaborate prose.  Well, as time wore on I realized it was a pretty self-absorbed and time-consuming process.  More importantly, I realized, shit, I should be spending my time being a musician, not a writer!  My blog eventually devolved into nothing but posts of youtube videos I thought were cool.

So now, here I am again.  No more long, meandering posts, and no more youtube links.  OK, I might have to break that second promise once in a while.  This is all gonna be about my journey as a professional musician which began last August when I quit my day job to—quite literally—go for broke.

While eating dinner tonight I turned on the TV and caught the tail end of a really fascinating and moving documentary about this bird loving dude in San Francisco.  He was a homeless street musician for a while, but after he started taking care of a flock of tropical parrots that showed up on Telagraph Hill, his life went on a whole other trip.  The best part was when he said that he wanted a career as a musician, but now that he started writing about his bird experiences, he’s finally found a way to support himself.  Get that?  Being a crazy bird guy is a more profitable career than being a musician!!!

On a related note, I’ve noticed a flock of tropical birds in my neighborhood.  Hmmm…

Published in: on May 11, 2008 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment