My early AM view

Hopefully you did not come here for advice, but I bet you may be looking for new ideas.

My Idea

Spend a week with a synth. (A month in my case.)

Which synth does not matter and is the wrong kind of detail! If you have an iPad you have acres to a world of them under $10.00, and you also have all YouTube to get you going in the right direction.

What did I find out, learn, or reinforce in a week/ in week one?

1. Make new sounds from existing ones. You do not have to start from a basic patch. (This is how you make a basic patch.) Think of presets as a springboard.

2. I am not the player I could be, but I’m not as bad as I thought. In fact, I may play a song live this weekend (typically only perform w/ guitar).

3. All synths sound the same to the general public.

4. In the context of a mix, effects may be more important than the synth patch/ tone.

5. I really do love my first true synth love, this Alpha Juno. (Yes my site and record label are named after the AJ series.)

6. I am a writer first player and player next, but I still need to be able to get my ideas across as fast, efficiently, and as accurately as I possibly can. A/K/A I need a practice routine. [Austin Kleon has already said how succinctly.]

Random Thoughts

Patches matter less I thought they did, but they still matter a lot. Better general keyboarding will speed up the demo process for me. Committing to the journey and work of #programertoplayer will pay-up huge. I have a much better ear than I used to.

The AJ2 in almost-action

Uno Mas

Knowing this synth well will also save me real money. I think we all know that going out and buying a synth or spending time researching/ SHOPPING for new models—for the “sound in your head”—is wasting energy as compared to practical application, never minding that “sound in your head” is probably just lazy journalist writing that we’ve all come to accept as true.

Imagine not shopping as much. Or imagine the habit of going to your synth when you have something in mind.

For me, my key here and to my writing is this: the process is my reward.

The end-of-the-line song is fine, but if you do not love the journey and keep faith that it will end somewhat victoriously, you may need to rethink things. Out of everything, reenforcement of these is the true one synth lesson for me.

Epilogue

So do you sell everything else?

(Gear is the worst! *and the best)

Why am I writing all of this?

READ THIS! Disclaimer

To find my audience/ spread the music.

Listen here.

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Pushing Buttons

I am almost 50 and on my 3rd or 4th act. Today it’s reinventing a band that only barely got off the ground. Not only this, and to make matters worse, we are computer-based.(Electronic performance is a very young man’s game!)

I read an article last night where Liam Gallagher was talking about his ‘This will do’  period. It was a time when things didn’t matter as much and he let ‘good-enough’ get released. But post-Oasis, his 2nd solo record was incredible (And is still his best work (so far). Around the same time, old men Coldplay released their greatest work (and the next one was not too bad either). 

Today both have GREAT new releases (here and here). And Duran Duran just released this.  

What in the world is going on? 

Nothing. 

People are just doing their thing. I think for these artists they are hyper-conscious of their audiences while letting the process and eventual products exist as their own rewards. Rick Rubin says we make music as an offering to God . Whoa! Possibly, but I have to live with this for a bit. 

I spent a day or two going through my old catalog preparing material for new/old  band. What shit a lot of this was. But what do I care. The growth is astounding, honestly. Just think where we will be when I’m 60!

A lot of my friends look old, and I cannot imagine the way they must feel. Memes are fond of saying things like ‘you’re as old as you feel.’ This is both crap and true at the same time. 

I need to sleep a lot more, I cannot stay up late more than 2 night in a row. I cannot eat sugar at night or have caffeine past, say, 11 am. The list goes on. 

A lot of rules (!), but we live in a world that does not know the rules but lives by youth culture’s rules. And these change every day, What are we left with? Everything is permissible but at the same time deeply judged. 

I am left with my best work ahead of me and staring me in the face, and 64 buttons to make and perform a song. And I could do it all with my computer, or my phone, or anything else I have lying around. 

Amazing. 

This will be chopped up into a song at some point!

Being from Austin, and being more electronic, and being more pop, and living in the the world of Americana and big, floppy hats, and being very authentic, things get weird if you let them. I have some low grade anger towards the middling world of Americana. This is not to say that there is stuff that does not rise above, but there is definitely stuff that does not.

I did sound for a show this weekend, and I just didn’t get it. Seemed like an act. So, how do you check that at the door and get to the essence?

Here’s how I’m going to do it.

The new Set-Up

My gig this week will be the first where I finally drop the guitar as a centerpiece along with the sing-songs and push into the shaky frontier of improvisation and electronic. Mixing this with my 80’s-sounding sing-songs.

Will it work gig #1? I don’t know. Going to try. (I am excited about show 3 or 4.) The starting line-up is drafted, and I am going with what’s pictured above. Have some assumptions about the equipment and its ability to hold up.

The Xone mixer is very old, but it’s also very rock-solid. Interface from Ableton to mixer is a bit sketchy. If it all goes to shite I can just play the guitar and sing, so nothing lost there.

I will say this: on the Monday before a Friday show, I am interested to see how it turns out. It could go 1000’s of different ways. That’s really great and inspiring. Hope it’s inspired!

Hope to see a few of you out Friday!

If you’ve been following along at all, and for personal ego purposes I’ll pretend you have, I’ve been dealing with the problem of how to get a number of back-logged songs recorded and out efficiently and as cleverly as possible.

Had you ever told me there would be problem of too many songs, I would have maybe believed it but could not have envisioned it. Believed it? Yes. Couldn’t have envisioned the path.

Maybe you don’t know how to get-doing it either, in need a spark or a push. This series will be for you.

So, as much for me as it is for anyone else, we’re going to go back and map it all out. And, hopefully, continue to document the process in blog (not video) form.

We’re really going to go into into the why rather than review gear, which seems to be what everything turns in to these days. So this is basically a long, ongoing story. Incredibly boring to some, enlightening to others, and interesting and affirming to a small, specific crowd. Not for everybody, but really for somebody. Smallest possible audience theory at work here!

And speaking of, my why of doing all of this to identify my small, specific crowd. You are out there. I know you are! I want you to listen to the music I make.

The Beginning:
The real spark came with a special purpose combined with some divine timing, which was a random camp reunion lunch of all things. Put simply: I met a former camper who was in a song writing group at the same time I was going deep into Ableton Live 9.

A lucky perfect storm, yes, but I was paying enough attention to life at the time to know it was kind of now or never. Some direction with perfect timing.

You may be thinking to yourself that mid 40’s is well past now-or-never, but I do not think it’s ever too late. If you’ve got it you’ll always have it. Doesn’t mean you can’t lose your way, but if it’s in there, menage to come out, it’ll be there waiting for you. I feel like I have science to back this up.

Series entry #2 is the Why of Ableton over the other DAW’s.

PS:
There has to be some gear! Early, primary tools were from Roland, Moog, M-Audio, Arturia, Ableton Live, Sound On Sound magazine, and a lot-lot of YouTube. [system1, various boutiques, oxygen-25, minituar, Analog Lab]

For anyone still thinking streaming is worthless, catalogs are semi-quietly being snapped up by all sorts of equity. No longer a one time purchase, if your song catches on, it keeps paying and paying, even if there are no ads associated with it.

Live?

In what seems to be an emerging fact, the long game is putting it out there to stream. Not playing live, but 9-to-5’ing it at your desk. Sat in front of the computer to get eyes and ears on it. Trade the glory of the stage for the glory of ‘likes’ and a lot of small but growing checks.

What if people, now off the road, put the effort into listens? This is happening, and I can tell you from my own experience, it works.

Bob Dylan Sells His Songwriting Catalog in Blockbuster Deal