One of the music projects currently in the works that you have not heard about is a collaboration with Robin Wachsberger. The working title is IO. We are writing some great material, but more about that in a later post. Robin introduced me to her friend and collaborator Plus Aziz recently (he goes by +Aziz). +Aziz is spearheading a project called The Music Parade. Also known as The World Music Parade, it is ‘a Community Exploring world music through animation & comics’. The MP has a blog and a Twitter feed with more info. What I am working on specifically is an animation that +Aziz has written. It is the story of a young girl growing up in the GCC region and the changes she goes through, the way her culture shapes her worldview and how these things shift as she matures.
Aziz has a fairly large team of people working on the music and animation. Robin is one of the vocalists. The other day +Aziz and Robin came over to record some vocals with me. I am basically working as an audio engineer on this project. +Aziz also brought a guy named Amine. Amine is also singing on this project. The session went well and Amine has asked me to produce a demo of his original songs for him. More about that later as well. For now, check out some pics of The Music Parade here in my studio Williamsburg.
I’m always wishing I could score more video. Animation has always intrigued me, stop motion in particular (think Wallace and Gromit). I got my first hands on taste of creating stop motion working with Eric while volunteering at Camp Bright Feathers. For years I have been looking for artists to create the visuals for me, so I can focus on the sounds. Volunteers are still welcome, but I’m through just waiting.
I’ve had visitors staying with me 3 of the last 4 weekends. This long weekend I decided to hole up in the house and get creative.
I’ve got my new camera (Canon T1i) that I bought for a trip to India, but will now be using to photograph where ever in South America you all send us while traveling with The Hostel Life instead. I’ve got iStop Motion installed on my little mac mini (got this really cheap from the 2007 MacHeist)and I went to the store around the corner and got some clay. I also grabbed a little wire framed fisherman toy that my mother gave me a while back.
I’m studying Latin rhythms a bit to get ready to travel to South America with The Hostel Life. I taught myself how to play the Timbao rhythm on a djembe (don’t have congas). I didn’t record that though….not there yet. I grabbed some samples of a Samba rhythm and built off of that for the score. I, of course, threw a break beat over the samba to funk it up and then added some individual hits from a kit drum on top of that to give it some heft. Then I recorded some acoustic, electric, classical and bass guitar before layering pads and assorted bits with my new little Micron synth (It’s a bit digital for my taste…I need to get my Virus fixed soon) and a few other soft synths.
What ended up on the video is a 30 second edit of the 2.5 minute track that emerged. The edit was taken at an early stage while the song was still fairly empty. The full track starts out fairly organic and beautiful then takes a sudden turn for the darker before it ends back on the samba groove.
The focus of this stop motion test was to learn about how to sync movement with sound. This is fairly easy to plan when the numbers are simple. If the music is 120 beats per minute and the video is shot at 10 frames per second then I know right away which frames will land on a down beat. The music here is at 115 bpm and the video was shot at 14 frames per second. This is not as simple or consistent. I’m figuring out tricks as I go. I did decide to upgrade to the ‘Express’ version of iStop Motion as this allows soundtracks to be imported and video to be imported for rotoscoping.
What we have here is a 33 second clip comprised of 468 frames made from 431 individual photographs taken while enjoying a glass of red wine (note the drip running down the side of the glass once it is empty).
I’m guessing it’ll be 5 years or so before I’m making anything truly impressive to look at. Owen begs to differ pointing out how the mind links different arts such as music and sound. I’d agree, but things will go a lot faster once I get people like him on board to collaborate.
Here’s the full track:
I’ve just joined the cast/crew of The Hostel Life. As I mentioned before, I was scoring some promotional videos to help pitch the show to some networks. I had mentioned to Mehdy, the host of the show, over a few months of working together by phone that in order to write music I need inspiration, so at some point he would have to take me on one of his trips.
I was sitting in my apartment catching up with Benjamin and buying a plane ticket to India. The plan was to fly to Bangalore on Christmas to attend The Art of Living‘s Yes+ Winter Break meditation and service courses and then backpack around for a few weeks by myself hopefully meeting up with some family who would also be traveling in India at the time. I would fly out of Delhi returning to NYC on January 22nd. Literally as I was pushing the purchase button my phone rang. It was Mehdy. He told me that he was planning his next trip, the first real attempt at the show with networks watching. And he was putting together a new cast/crew. It’s going to be a three person team. Mehdy is the host. Luke is the Director of Photography. They needed one more person; a sound guy, second camera, co-writer, editor, photographer, jack-of-all type…and I was his first choice. The travel details will be up to you (the audience), but it is looking like it will be to South America for 5 weeks.
“When do you leave” I asked
“January 22nd” he replied
Interesting right? This was on Monday December 14. I decided that I couldn’t leave for over two months without some more prep-time and out of respect for my day job. So, I postponed my trip to India and will be heading where ever people send us with The Hostel Life. We meet up in Tampa on Feb 1st for a couple of days of test shooting and then we will be leaving the country. We’re going to be moving fast and covering a lot of ground. We will each have a lot of responsibilities potentially both on and off camera.
The success of this thing is going to lie heavily on audience participation. This is truly intended as an interactive guide to traveling on a budget. There will be polls on the website and what the audience votes we do within the budget while showing you how. The idea is to show how you can have an amazing adventure while on vacation for $300-400/week. We’re not talking about sitting in a little hut on the beach. We’re talking about getting off the beaten path a bit and seeing the exotic as well as festivals, fairs, natural wonders, music, doing service in the community and meeting as many unique and interesting people as possible. I think I’m going to document the food that we find in each region as well.
We will be off the grid a fair amount, but are committed to finding the internet every few days and uploading video and other content to the site.
So PLEASE find The Hostel Life on Facebook and become a fan. The page just went up, but we already have over 2,000 fans. A lot of them are from India, which excites me. Maybe they’ll vote the show there next. You can also sign up for email updates on the web site. You’ll probably hear me petitioning for certain outcomes for the polls, so I may need your help steering the ship to interesting places. I never promised to be impartial.
Check out the photos page on the site. I’ve just put up some photos of my trip to Brazil.
Owen Beckmann recently put me in touch with an old friend of his named Mehdy Ghannad. Mehdy is a world traveler who has mastered seeing the sites on the cheap and now wants to inspire and educate others to do the same. To that end he is pitching a TV show called The Hostel Life to a number of networks. It’s basically a reality show that will follow him on his travels. He will be operating on a limited budget ($300 a week I believe) and the fun part is that there will be a website where the audience can interact with him and even choose where he will be going.
Mehdy has asked me to provide music for the clips, and hopefully for the show if it gets picked up. So check out the two vids I’ve got here and then head over to The Hostel Life on Facebook and become a fan. The more people show an interest the better the chances of this thing getting picked up. And who knows, I just might get to do some traveling around myself.
In November I broke my pinky finger hanging temporary shades with wine. I put one foot up on the radiator and the other on the arm of a reclining chair. The chair tipped over of course, and I caught my fall on the top of the head rest of that chair creating a ‘minimaly displaced fracture of the distal fifth phalanx’. When I looked down and saw the tip of my left pinky finger bent back a bit beyond a perfect 90 degrees I immediately grabbed it with my right hand and SNAPPED it back close to straight as I collapsed with a scream down to my knees. It didn’t quite make it back into place. My pinky was still curved a little bit backwards at the tip. I sat there for half an hour bending my finger over the back of a spoon trying to get it to pop back into and stay straight; all the while thinking, “this is going to make recording the rest of my guitar parts really f*$k!@& difficult!” Eventually Amy convinced me to go to the E.R. to get it looked at. They looked at it, x-ray’d it, declared it broken, declined to snap it any straighter, put a $0.50 splint on it and told me to go the Drug Store down the street to get a better one. They also sent me to a hand specialist to get a custom splint made. Apparently hospitals don’t specialize in splints. Everyone was amazingly nice to me, cut me deals, slowed down and were present with me (who has no health insurance) and honestly seemed concerned about my musical ambitions. I felt somehow blessed to live in this place.
My finger is still crooked………………………. but I can play just fine 🙂
I made the page of ‘Nine Fingered Tasks’ above listing things that i could accomplish on the album while on the plane ride to London ten days later that only required nine of my fingers (no guitar). I did some pretty intense time correcting, granular editing, mixing, vocal comping and arrangement of parts. All in all, The album ended up taking about a year and a half, from deciding to start writing to CD in hand. Not too bad me thinks.
About a year and a half ago I showed up at David’s house in Boston with a contract which we signed with each other stating that we would write and record a CD within a year and then give away 1,000 copies. This included us each writing a song a day for the first 30 days. I live in New York City, David lives in Boston. The plan was to make this a The Postal Service style project sending each other pieces of songs to work on, except instead of the mail we used ftp transfers, email attachments, shared google documents, flash cards, notebooks, skype video chatting and any other means available to communicate. We even got together in person at times to write and play.
Directly upon returning from that initial trip to Boston I found out that my entire building had been vacated. Basically, over 200 people, largely artists living and working in loft spaces we had built out, had been kicked out of our homes and work spaces by the department of buildings. So I found myself suddenly homeless, though my cat Agape was actually padlocked into my aparment. For the next 30 days, while staying with my sister, friends Amy and Logan and in hotels and while at my office I wrote, recorded and sent David a song a day……for well over 20 days. At some point it just became ridiculous (the laptop I was using for recording died). But the time was fruitful for both David and I. Many of the 19 tracks that made it onto the album came out of this time.
David and I met back in 2000. I was DJing at raves and clubs around New England and looking to get back into making my own music as opposed to just playing others. David was making noise in various bands and looking for a more spiritual project to engage. The first time we got together to play the very first thing we did was write a song. I said something to the extent of ‘fuck playing covers, let’s just write something’ and then started strumming chords. David just started singing and within a short while we had written GA, which later appeared as a hidden track on the Hunger Dreams soundtrack. We wrote songs, scored theater, played shows, collaborated on the recording of another project and then went our separate ways for a while. I had moved to North Carolina, dug into my career a bit and recorded some bands on the side. David became a Jewish Studies teacher and later the director of a Jewish school, got married and had a daughter and played in a few musical projects of his own. This album represents us asking the question of whether or not music is still an integral part of our lives and our relationship. I think the answer is a resounding yes.
Over the last year and a half we worked with 25-30 songs exploring themes of love and spirit, of loss and despair, of transcendence and embrace, integration and dissolution; reaching a new level of collaboration between us. This manifested as an amazingly fluid writing process. We co-wrote both the music and the words on this album with an intense openness, vulnerability and clarity often times tearing each others work down only to get together and rebuild it. We recorded in Brooklyn and in Boston and finally had it mastered in Manhattan. We are now in the process of giving away 1,000 CD’s. We invite you to find us on Facebook or on MySpace, become a fan or a friend and ask for your free album. You can find David in Boulder, CO this week and in the Boston area after that. I am in and around Brooklyn, NY. We would love to share this music with you. If you go to www.NoAffiliation.com and make a donation of $5 or more to cover shipping I we will send one to you.
A number of years back Anthony Schwartzman approached me to write a song or two for a theater piece he was working on for his theatre company Oblivion Productions. When all was said and done I had worked with him and David Wesson to write, record and perform the score for Hunger Dreams. David, who I had been collaborating with on our DaVerse project, worked with me and the cast as a vocal specialist extraordinaire. The cast sang and flew (sometimes simultaneously). Ed Fians banged on junkyard parts as our live percussionist. We performed Hunger Dreams at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama (fucking amazing room) and at the Brooklyn Lyceum. What you see above is a trailer built from live footage of those performances that Tony put together and I scored in anticipation of the second coming of a story which has yet to be fully told. Some of the music is from the original score, some I wrote for the trailer. Something tells me that the journey is not yet complete.
This is a collaboration between David Wesson and I. David is a Boston based singer and an old friend.
Owen Beckmann of http://www.dwell-being.org/ has just handed in the final proofs of the artwork for the eco-wallets. They look amazing. You should definitely check out some of his other work. The man is a talent and you will be hearing more about him in the near future I am sure. The cover is above. Check out the inside of the album when you get one for a little surprise.
I have just given Sarah Register at The Lodge a few very minor notes on the CD reference that she gave me. She should be making these tweaks this week and then I will have the final mastered album in hand and ready to send out for duplication. Thanks again to Sarah and Heba. They have been a pleasure to work with. Sarah has the perfect combination of technical expertise and a truly musical ear that has really helped this album to sound as good as it can (considering that I mixed it ;).
Find The Emergence on Facebook or MySpace and become one of the first to become a fan or a friend. The sites just went up and will be getting filled out with details, photos and information on how to be one of the 1,000 people to receive a free copy of the new album once it is released. We will also begin posting music in the next week.
And go read Shantaram! (link to the right)
As the album gathers musicians (see below) and production, Dave and I decided to spend our last few minutes in the ‘studio’ playing a few acoustic.
The Emergence – Crazy
I spent the week up in Boston for New Year’s doing some recording and hanging with the Wesson’s. Dave arranged for us to get into the Auditorium at the Rashi school in Newton, MA to run around like idiots making a bunch of noise. Dave recorded some new vocals.
After that, I drove back to Brooklyn and had one hour to unload all my gear from my car and into my apartment, get my shit apart and back together enough to drive to the airport and spend the week in Dallas taking a class for work. I then came back Friday night and Saturday Tyler came over to record some banjo and Robb to record some bass. Then we went out to an art opening and the after party for a bit before retiring to Tyler’s to make a little noise on an armadillo’s back (Charango).
Now I have a mountain of editing to do and I couldn’t be happier.
Well, that was pretty fuckin cool. About 30 of us got a (supposedly) 1 and a 1/2 hour tour which then turned into a 3 and a 1/2 hour tour of Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors by the man himself. We started with his first ever tour of his decades long self portrait project and then progressed into the chapel and then through the rest of his newer works. The questions never stopped coming and he seemed to be really into the conversation. So we all gratefully allowed it to take its course.
Afterwards Dave and I played a few songs in the gallery.
Just being there, making noise, for some truly wonderful people was some kind of wonderful.
Actually made the whole towed car fiasco that followed well worth it.
My friends David and Seth came to visit me when I was living in Charlotte, NC so that they could record an album for their band God’s Own Drunk. We produced an album of 14 songs called Wake the Dawn.
David and Seth came with a bunch of songs that they had been playing with the band in Boston. The band is generally a four piece, but only the two of them could make it down for the week, so we had Dave on acoustic guitar, harmonica and lead vocals and Seth on lead and acoustic. They recorded the eleven songs that made it onto the album in this small time. This left me to fill in on bass, program drums and add what ever other bits of noise I saw fit after they had left. They also ended up including three of my instrumental pieces on the CD.
Some of the songs stayed quite pure and simple as they were written and recorded. Some Have Been Lost is one of these. It’s also one of my favorites. Dave wrote this for dear friends for whom the world was both too much and not enough and who are no longer with us, as well as for the rest of us who are.
God’s Own Drunk – Some Have Been Lost
Some of the songs on the album ended up a bit more rock or blues as the band usually plays them live. Clockmaker is one of these. Some became more esoteric and haunting like Rise Through the Ashes. These are songs of spirit and soul and the American hole and all of the crap that gets stuck inside.
Seasons Change left me feeling like the music that was recorded did not fit the vocals and the lyrics. So I threw out everything except for Dave’s voice, and created a slightly dancy remix (or ReVerse as I call it; as Verse is my musical alter ego…or just ego).
If you are interested in hearing what an integrally informed lyricist comes up with, then I do not know of too many places to look. David is one of those places. His interest and knowledge in all things spiritual and integral has truly been blossoming in the years since the writing/recording of these songs, but I think that they can give you a glimpse of a burgeoning 2nd tier awareness and much of the grace, grit and harmonica spit that builds the foundation for such a leap.
God’s Own Drunk – Seasons Change (ReVersed)
The album was release on my label NoAffiliationin 2005. Please be kind to the dilapidated website that was built around the same time. If what you’re hearing strikes a chord and you’d like to hear more, than the album can be found on iTunes, CDBaby and probably a few other places as well.