Or so I was told by a gal working the paint section of the local hardware store. No introduction, no hesitation, just “you smell like food.” The cashier echoed the sentiment. I am notquite sure what this means other than I can now say I’ve gotten more attention from women from the use of a Subway pastrami sandwich than I’ve gotten from some brands of cologne.
One of the best things I got to do when I was in Japan is visit the Tsukiji fish market. As you may have surmised, this is a market where many fish reside. Most of them are frozen or in various states of being dead or almost killed. But man, are they tasty.
Tsukiji is one of the larger fish markets in the world, and is the largest in Japan. The majority of the nation’s fish comes from here, and I believe a sizable export market exists as well, although I didn’t spend nearly as much time learning about it as I did looking at it. The market starts early in the morning, so if you’re just arriving in the country from California it’s actually not that bad of a place to visit, since your time zone isn’t that far off from the pace of life. I had already been in Asia for a few weeks by this point, but that was okay, it was still worth doing. It was quite a treat to have sushi from the freshest sushi place in the world.
I am definitely going back there should I return to Japan.
Quite an eventful set of weeks recently.
In the last few weeks, I’ve finished up my first quarter-century, gone and visited a bunch of good friends, interviewed for a job, gotten the job, and am all set to move for that job, to the town right next to the town where I met all those friends in the first place. I am pleased to say the least.
Best part of the story? I will be working at a hospital for the criminally insane.
So much music talk on my blog lately. I guess it’s like something I do now.
One of my final assignments in my songwriting class at Folsom Lake is to compose a blues song. This is not a task to which I am suited. My musical background generally fits into electronic 4/4 boom-tish music, or loud guitar wrangling. I must say I have no idea how to even approach writing the blues. I mean, I know the whole 12-bar structure, I have a fair idea what a turnaround is, and I’m sure I can make up some words about hardships or trains or drinking or it being really hot outside or something, but anything I make is going to be either a complete knock-off of another song, or so far removed from blues ethos that it barely qualifies as a member of the genre.
On the other hand, maybe that second one is not so bad. Though I should probably not use ReBirth on this one.
There was a Songwriter’s Showcase event, basically a recital, that happened at Folsom Lake College last Monday. Since I was in the songwriting class, I was performing. I played one of my newer songs, the same one I did for Inspiration Live, except with different instrumentation. This time, I had no guitarist, so it was me, my laptop, Reaper, and a BCR2000 hooked up to one of the electric pianos. The guitars and synths were prerecorded (save for the bridge section, where I did play one synth for about 20 seconds) and the drums were programmed in ReBirth, patterns triggered from the BCR. Despite my pedestrian singing voice, I think it went over really well, and the electronics were certainly a novelty to the Folsom crowd who have, as a group, generally never heard of any of this. So much, in fact, that the professor hosting the event introduced me as “a student who has incorporated electronic sounds and equipment into his playing” – as if it were something new and exotic instead of an entire genre.
While being introduced as The Electronic Music Ambassador to Folsom was pretty cool, one thing really stood out for me. Three members of The Cimorellis (an extremely talented group) were also performing that night, and I noticed that while I was performing, one of them was dancing in her seat, singing along during my chorus. Here’s one of the most talented groups of people I’ve met in recent years, and one of them knew the words to my song. She had heard them when I originally sang the song in class, and I guess liked it enough to remember it. My mind is blown.
Speaking of musicians who are not me, Josh Whelchel AKA TwiTerror, who I have known since the first Trax in Space site some nine years ago, was recently named Artist of the Month at the new site. He’s become a favorite on the site and has become very prolific, doing music for several freeware games as well as his own band, and I figured I’d known him longer than many of the site’s current members, I was in somewhat of a unique position and took the opportunity to roast him on their forums (my post is down near the bottom of that page). Huge congrats, Josh! You done good.
I am back from Japan. My new nemesis is jet lag. It’s never been a problem going East, but heading West it gets me every time. I can adjust to the schedule change well enough, but the days are like staggering around the house in a sleepy haze – very like nursing a nice buzz – except that it lasts all day. And I’m not always in the house.
There was far more that I did and want to talk about in Japan than I care to cram into one post, but I’ll mention things here and there, perhaps it will make for more interesting reading than my usual fare, which is ‘nothing.’ But it’s a blog, and a personal one at that. Blogs are retarded. What do you expect.
I am going to go stagger now.
In a week or so is the online distributed pseudo-live music mini-festival Inspiration Live hosted by Louigi Verona, an ambient/drumscape composer in Russia. The idea is to take a bunch of electronic musicians used to making noise on their computers, and get them to play one or more parts to their songs on their own and record the output, a sort-of-live performance that bypasses the usual channels of production and assembly, and results in a more human, unprocessed sound. On April the 2nd all songs submitted will be collected and released simultaneously, like a film festival, as well as broadcast over the internet-based KFOS Inner Space Radio run by DJ Allen One. It’s a small thing being done by just a few artists, but it’s the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to take part in, so I submitted a performance my brother and I did of one of my new songs. It’s VERY rough but it’s the first time we’ve attempted to do it so we figure it comes with the territory. There’s a thread about it over on Trax In Space right now. I won’t link the song but you can find it on that site if you’re determined. Fair warning: I’m no vocalist but we didn’t have anybody else, so if you don’t like my singing you are free to screw off.
You know it’s a personal blog when it doesn’t update for a while. Ergo, you are reading a personal blog. Shut up.
Last time I wrote anything on here I mentioned getting to go to the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim with my friends Jim, Vann, and Tyler. I haven’t really written about it since I haven’t really written about anything, but I can assure you that I indeed went and it was indeed awesome. Most of you have already heard me talk about it in person, due in no small part to the fact that I pretty much wouldn’t shut up about it for a week or two after I got home, so this is just for fun.
Surprisingly, I didn’t see that many big names play. There were some excellent people performing, but not so many that I knew the names of. I did get to see the Travis Larson Band play though, who are always excellent. They even played Nevele, which is one of my favorite songs by them. I did hear that there were huge names walking the show floor, and since everybody sort of tried to act like they were rockstars, it was hard to tell who was who without knowing faces, which I don’t. But it was pretty cool to bump into people and realize that some of them may have actually been rockstars. I didn’t have quick enough eyes to read everyone’s nametags. Supposedly Slash was walking around the Digitech booth (home of a hilarious and excellent vocal harmonizer that we played with for about an hour) a little while before we were. We narrowly missed seeing Alexy Leiho at the ESP booth (dammit!) and while I did see Brendan Small signing things I didn’t get to go up and say hi since the line was packed with Metalocalypse fans and I wanted to go see other things.
Really, I was there to see neato music toys, and they had those in spades. If you enjoy playing guitars, drums, or keys, you had about a million of them to look at. Even people who don’t play guitars could get in on it at the Peavey booth. They had guitars made to look like guns and other things. Otheroom.com has documented this better than I could ever hope to. I spent a while playing with keyboards, everything from Alesis to Roland and whoever else I could find. One of the highlights for me was playing the melody to Robbie’s Rocketship on this Moog Voyager they had set up next to a guy waving a theremin wand around. It was neat – playing a similar sounding patch on an analog synth to a song that has so far only ever been played on digital synthesizers was really fun, and made me feel like a bit more than just some guy making noise on his computer. Even if that’s what I am. I don’t care.
One booth in particular made a good story. Drumagog is a product that triggers sampled drum sounds in response to transient response from microphones. The idea is that you can record a drummer with a mic on every piece of his set, and then replace his recording with a sampled drumset, perhaps one that fits your mix or style better than the equipment you had, and use those sounds while keeping his groove and the specific elements of timing that make a recording more ‘human’ than a sequenced track. Anyway, to prove that this would work regardless of what kind of drumset you were recording, they set up this one. Here’s another picture that shows off the mic placement and the bass and tom drums. Yes, it’s made of what it looks like it’s made of. The pot they put the bass pedal on worked particularly well, as did the upside-down pan snare. All of this was played with whisking brushes, mind you. I wasn’t sure how moving the hihat pedal stuck through the frying pan was going to mute the hat correctly, but you would be correct if you assumed that at this point I did not care because I am sitting down in front of a small gathering of people banging on kitchenware with as much drummer as I have in me, while drum sounds are coming out of a speaker next to me. I wish I could convince the FLC lab to let me put Drumagog on their machines, since then I’d cover the room with little cheapo contact mics and then tell students to start hitting stuff and listening to what comes out. I wish more students came into that lab. They’re missing out.
That’s probably enough for today. I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time but just haven’t sat down at the blog long enough to do it.
The FLC music lab has decided they’ll employ me again for the coming semester. Hooray. That means I can un-abandon my music projects that I used their tools for, and then didn’t have access to anymore. Like this one. Working there should be fun, I have been learning more and more about the hardware and software they have and should hopefully be able to make better use of it this next time around.
In the meantime, I have the opportunity to attend the NAMM conference this year in Anaheim. I am ten kinds of excited. Of course, nothing is going to skoosh any sense of pride I have in my music quite like hanging around a convention hall that’s packed with some of the best and brightest. Perhaps I will emerge smarter and more skilled through some kind of talent osmosis that I pray actually exists. Perhaps I will not. Either way, it will rule.
So today the guitar class that I’m taking had a little mini “open mic night” that was somewhat deceptive because there was no mic to be open. However, students were invited to come to the front of the room and perform anything they had prepared. One of my friends went up and did a very groovy blues jam with another student (it was his first time playing live and he did fantastically), and I performed a simple piece I put together recently.
It wasn’t technically complex nor requiring of any skill, as it was three power chords repeated with varying strum patterns which I think is kind of my schtick. However, I did haul in two guitar amps, a wah/volume and a distortion pedal, a whole bunch of cables, and a Nintendo DS running a copy of Dai Gassou Band Brothers, which was considerably more interesting. The DS went through the wah and then the distortion into one amp, while I played guitar through the other amp. Since I’ve never played before in front of people who I wasn’t related to, I believe this counts as my first live performance, and it was a rush.
I screwed up a bunch of times but the class really got into it anyway, and a lot of people who I look up to told me they were really impressed. And of course it felt amazing to play music that I assembled myself, and which I get into, in front of lots of people.
You traxinspace people already know about this since I mentioned it on your forums, but there’s a girl in the class who never smiles. It’s a pity really since she seems like she’d be a really pleasant person if she wasn’t always looking disappointed or withdrawn. But she smiled when I played my song, and that really kind of hit me. My performance, however rough, cracked her shell and made this girl smile.
Call me sappy but that makes me smile too.