Music

I released 40 songs on Soundcloud this week.

You can listen here

If you’re wondering “why” and “how”, it’s mainly because you likely know I write music, but you probably haven’t heard much of what I’ve written. That’s because I have a problem sharing my music. For some reason I love to get songs to where I’m 80% happy and then stop working on them.

Last week the battery on my laptop died, which took out my primary music-production system. For years I’d been wanting to find a new way to sort and catalog the music I write but it was a daunting task and I’d never felt like I had the time. The laptop tanking forced my hand. I dove into my catalog to organize and sort of catch-up with everything I’d written.

I was super annoyed with what I found.

I found nearly 200 songs in various states of completion. Around a dozen had ever seen the light of day, mostly through my Robot Fairytale album. I was kind of ashamed.

I did some soul-searching and realized that the primary things keeping me from finishing songs could be boiled down to a short list:

  • I’m afraid of embarrassing myself by releasing bad music
  • I’m afraid I won’t be happy with the song after I call it “done”
  • My music is badly organized so it’s hard to find what I want and work on it

These are all stupid reasons. 

So, this week I uploaded 40 songs to my Soundcloud page. They range from piano music to scores for short-films, to dance music. Many of them could have been worked-on more, but I’m basically writing them off as “old” and calling them incomplete, taking the lessons and moving forward.

I’m changing my philosophy on music because my old philosophy sucks and didn’t work.

It’s (Probably) Not Bad Music

Going forward, I’m making my music available as it’s written. Whether it’s on Soundcloud or my own website, it’ll be out there because it forces my hand. One of my primary reasons for not doing this earlier was simply the question “why would anyone buy my music if they could have just listened to it for free?” The answer is simply “who cares?” I believe I write music for myself, it’s a language all my own, and I can tell stories and speak emotions through it, but I don’t do it because I want you to like it. I do it for me. 

I had to face the question “if you knew nobody would ever pay you for any of your music, would you still do it?” Yep. I absolutely would. That ended that point.

Finish Your Music

I can almost always find something to change in a song, but at some point it has to be done. I realized that if I call a song “complete” and then later on decide there’s something I don’t like about it, does that make it a bad song? Nope. Take the lesson and remember it next time you write a new song. 

This is a fine line though. You never want to be guilty of hurriedly releasing music, but I think I was swinging so hard on the “work it to perfection” side of things that I was burning myself out.

Organization Matters

I never spent the time to organize my music, let alone my plugins, my samples, and all the other mess that goes along with music production so finding things I wanted to work on, or worse, finding sounds that I needed for songs I wanted to finish, has always been a giant challenge for me.

I’ve started spending time going through my sample packs, VSTs, and other things to find the sounds I truly like. I’ve also moved all my music to my Google Drive and organized it there, along with my samples, VSTs, and other files. Everything lives in one place now.

My songs are basically all unique folders, one for each song, sorted by date. I mainly write music song-by-song rather than on an album-level so this organization makes sense for me. It still allows me the flexibility to change things up if I decide to try a concept album or something crazy.

But now that things are organized, the mountain of crap doesn’t seem so daunting.

And things are moving forward. Hopefully quickly. I have a lot of musical ideas I want to get out of my head.

Happy Birthday Dude

In the last year you’ve cracked me up, made me cry, and puked right after I took you off my shoulders no less that three times. Thanks for that. 

I’ll make you a deal. I’ll try to find a house to buy with a back yard you can play in if you try to sleep through the night in your own crib. Deal?

*hat tip*

Jack O Lantern

Autumn

Jack O LanternI love autumn so much. Somehow it brings out my inner introvert.

The weather really starts changing noticeably during October, and you end up with the perfect combination of shorter days and reasonable temperatures. This inevitably leads to cool, sweater-clad, dark evenings that require a fire which perfects the ambiance. 

Autumn is so niceAnd then there’s the inevitable video-gaming at night nostalgia. I’ve spent hundreds of hours of my life holed up in an office with the only light provided by a scented candle and the computer monitor while desperately trying to carve out a living for myself in some open-world game either based in space or some fantasy-world full of monsters and elves.

In the space of just over a month the world transforms between a dismembered-head-pumpkin-fest to a browns-and-reds tinted cornucopia of fake-food decorations with pumpkin-flavored-everything, followed by a shift to white-and-red attempts to force snow, but not so early that it’s gross by Christmas Eve.

Beyond the weather, the holidays, the general nostalgia-fest of the seasons, I think it’s the tempo and the change that inspire me the most. There’s really no other time in my life where I feel the world moving and changing as much as I want to. 

So yeah, that’s why I once wrote a screenplay about why Autumn is the best season. 

WHAT. THE. HECK.

Prancing Pony

Last night I was watching Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring with my daughter. When Frodo and the gang hit up the Prancing Pony Inn in the village of Bree, the barkeep asks for his name. Frodo, knowing “Baggins” isn’t safe to use, uses the name “Underhill.”
That name rang a bell for me. I then remembered that when I was a kid there was a commercial for Larry Underhill, a local realtor. It had a jingle that went like this:

“Larry Underhill will, the realtor that makes, the realtor that makes the difference.”

So I sort of laughed remembering that from my childhood. Then went about our evening.

Five minutes ago my sister sent me a voice memo of her singing that jingle.

I understandably was taken aback. It is Halloween week after all and spooky things happen, but this was excessive. I asked what made her sing that, she said it randomly popped into her head last night. I told her about watching the movie last night around 6-ish.

She said it popped into her head around the exact. same. time.

“No You Can’t”

tesla

There is a huge cultural problem right now wherein people love to say “no you can’t.”

Maybe it’s not always phrased that way, but more and more I see people tearing down people who are trying to advocate, well, almost anything. Somehow we’ve become a culture of anti-advocates. We’re not for anything anymore, we’re just against the things we’re afraid of.

And I think that’s really the core of it: fear. We’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid of losing our comfort. We’re afraid of pain, really.

In my personal experience I hesitate to publicly advocate anything because it seems nearly any time I do, someone jumps to explain why it’s wrong/bad/stupid or whatever. This obviously covers politics, but also spreads into mundane things like brand-preference or even ideological banter. It’s tragic we can’t seem to talk civilly anymore.

It’s even more tragic that we’re failing to support things anymore.

So I guess there are two parts to my request.

  1. Stop discouraging people.
  2. Start supporting things.

Be educated about it. Don’t be stupid. Do your homework regarding the things you support, but stand up for the things you like.

The world would be a better off.

Blurghgh

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This weekend has been ridiculous. It all started with a text asking if I could sub in for the role of sound-guy this weekend at church. It meant I suddenly had to be at practice Thursday, which I hadn’t planned. No big deal, I enjoy doing it, and normally wouldn’t have been any issue.

I rode my bike home from work that day. Everything was fine when I left work, but by the time I got home the older kid had thrown up. We had dinner while she watched some movie and I got ready to leave for practice. On my way out the door, kiddo was talking like she might get sick again. I profusely apologized to my wife, then noped out of there to the relative safety of band practice.

I got a text toward the end of practice that said “I need you home now” so I booked it. Apparently we were just getting started with sickness. I stayed home from work on Friday to help manage things. Saturday I ventured out with Thing 1 to the music store and a pet store, but as we got home she got sick again.

Saturday night things were looking up and we went to a wedding about an hour out of town. We got back home very late and we were all exhausted. Sunday, after church, Thing 1 was feeling better, but Thing 2 and Naomi both had thrown up.

I stayed home today to help get everything back under control. I did laundry, dishes, and took the kids for a walk so Naomi could sleep.

Thing 1 finally got to sleep, and Thing 2 was still showing signs of pain as he wouldn’t sleep. We found a sticker in his onesie and his leg is all scratched up.

It’s looking like things are calming down now. Everyone is asleep while I’m mining in EVE and listening to Olafur Arnalds. I’m done with this weekend.

Good news, though. I never got sick.

[Update: I got sick.]

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