Wednesday, May 03, 2006

max/msp and the end of burnout

i've been burned out for 2 years. not that all encompassing, depressed all the time, suicidal burnout...no...more of a slow burn, like damp grass; just smoking but no fire. thats been me; smoking but no fire.

I've managed totrace back to when it may have started. when i lived in San Francisco, i was a street performer and i was pretty good. i was my own boss, made my own rules, made enough money to live on and party a bit...nice. but i wanted to make a lmark so i went europe and ended up in london playing with Soul II Soul, among others, in night clubs. i basically used my powers to make DJs look dope by designing sounds that would intensify th vibe of the evening. my thought was that i would become an indespensible part of the dance music landscape, and i did, to a degree, but i was more novelty than respected artist, BUT i was making decent money and playing in big clubs.

somewhere along the way, i startd getting bored. i started sabotaging my fledgling career, and i stopped designing sounds and overusd the ones i had, ad nauseum. then i started turning down gigs and stayed at home alot, although i did do enough to pay bills [somewhat]. i thought i was just home sick, but...

upon arriving back in the US, i hit the ground running. going from club to club the spread the beatjazz gospel, but it was not as well recieved or understood as it was in europe, so i moved to NYC and found an audience that was reasonably receptive. and then came a 4 night a week gig at a club called The Pink Elephant, which should have made me very happy, but i still wasnt writing, and i was usually really drunk by the end of a gig. alcohol helped me delay the analysis phase for quite a few months and it wasnt until i was playing a particular gig and realized that, once again, iwas no more than a novelty and no one wanted that to change. at that point i quit the NY club scene. and started my life as a nomadic digital artist.

in the last 2 weeks i've gained a sense of clarity that i have not felt in years. i realized that i had allowed my skills and talents to be subjugated out of fear that i couldnt do it by myself. and one of the fantastic things about controlled homelessness is that i can go to events and other places without regard to time. and the other night iwent to an event called SHARE, which is a laptop based jam session for more sound art based music and this is where i discovered Max/Msp.

Max/Msp is an electronic musicians toolkit to create and control any and everything that he/she can imagine. i had seen and heard of it before, but dismissd it as too academic for my funky/jazz based sensibilities., but soon discovered, from talking to one of the artists, that this system is exactly what i have been searching for for over 3 years!!

i've been trying to create a way to play, control and improvise ALL elements of a song, from my wx5 wind midi controller. i though i would be able to do it in ableton live or in FL studio, but have not generated anything that i would call clever, in the least, then, after my chat at SHARE, i discovered that i can, thru a graphical programming laguage interface, similar to a flow chart, create the system i designed,very easily. all of a sudden, the clouds are gone, the birds are chirping, children are dancing in the streets and all is right in the world in a way that it hasnt been in a very long time. i feel like an artist again, thanks to Max/Msp.

my teeth hurt

well, i've now been doing the homeless thing for about two weeks, and [knock on wood] it is much easier than i anticipated. basically, i get on the [A] train at approximately 3-4-ish am, and ride it to the ends of the line twice, which takes about 4-5 hours.

my modus operandi on the train is to cover all my equipment in a natty garbage bag, a technique i call, crapification. no one knows or even cares that i have really nice equipment under there...because it's covered in a garbage bag...and its heavy like a black hole. it then sit in a corner and semi pass out. i usually wake up to a flood of people going to work around 6-7, so i get off the train around 8-ish, and head to the gym, where i work out, shower, shave and change clothes that i leave in a locker there [update; fuckers cut the lock off my locker so i gotta get another one, damnit!!]. once that is done, and i'm reasonably awake, i hit a wifi enabled cafe where i check my email, schedule my tasks for the day, and work on music related stuff.

it really is that simple. i feel creative and i also feel healthy because of working out everyday, but the strangest thing; when i wake up, on the train, my teeth hurt...!?! i have absolutely no idea why, and it usually dissipates within an hour or so, but it freaks me out. oh well....

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

day one

well, i left my keys on the bed in my, now, former room. although my feeling are a tiny bit hurt that she would throw me out, it is definitely her perrogative. now it's just me and my heavy ass toolbox.

today, i went thru all my original tracks to see which ones might be useable. and i walked around...ALOT! and drank waaaay too much coffee [which is basically wifi cafe tax]. i met up with my friend stephan for a while at the cafe, but i found it hard to take that first step into the night, on my own. it had become real at this point. not that i sensed any danger...far from it, it was just that i wonder sometimes when one of my weird ideas is gonna get my ass hurt. this whole "sleep on the train" thing seemed, strangely enough, veryobvious and normal to me; sleep on the train, work as much as humanly possible selling CDs and street busking, to generate enough fundage to take me back to europe within the next 30-45 days...simple. but, firstly, i've never managed to make anything more than 3 bucks on the street here, so i dont know what makes me think that i can choke up appoximately $3000. secondly, i had to "crapify" my equipment. un-crapified, it looks reasonably expensive enough to knock me over the head for, so i procurred a grey plastic garbage bag to cover it with and, viola'!! instant "could be a grocery cart full of crap".

after i left the cafe, i wwent over to bryant park station and played there. the practice helped alot, but the sound system still has no bass response. i'm gonna have to fix that this weekend, asap. without bass, everything else just seems weak. but ipicked out enough on my own stuff for a reasonable 30 minute set. i hope to write the rest soon.

afterward, i made my way over to the [A] line and rode it back and forth approximately 4 times. although i got "some" sleep, it wasn't nearly restful enough. i think i might be able to get accustomed to this after a few days. when i did finally leave the train system, i was still tired, but i luckily have a lot of guarana to help keep me going. although it didnt help much because i still needed to take a 30 minute nap in central park, and another train nap to coney island and back.

am i crazy!?

something is wrong...something is has been eating away at me for a long long time, and i dont know how else to deal with it except...to be homeless.

six years ago, i was an idealistic, street busking, wind controller player. my life revolved around a street corner. i got paid from playing this street corner everyday. i got laid!! my friends would alway come by and visit me there. it was in san francisco, so it was sunny most days. it was beauty exemplified. my life revolved around a simple yet hectic schedule of writing music, playing music, selling CDs, and partying. it was pure. but...it got boring. there is such a huge world out there that i'd only heard about from my little corner, so i set out to see this world.

i had brief layovers in amsterdam and stockholm, but it was london which changed me more profoundly than any place i had ever lived before. upon arrival, i was broke, and eventually started living in a squat with a dozen or so squatters. for better or for worse, it changed me. without the ever present spectre of couch surfing or rent paying, i was [briefly] able to exist, purely, to examine my surrounding world, and channel that into music. whole weeks and months were spent doing various drugs and playing 3-4 day long acid techno parties each week.
eventually, i started to get a tiny amount of noteriety for my playing style and started playing with DJs in and aound london, including soul II soul. now, my whole life was dedicated to designing sounds that would make a party go off.strange, multi-layered, aural-contextual art pieces disguised as improv. but as time went on i didnt even realize that i had not really been writing any songs. i didnt even look back to see where i had left my sense of self. onstage it became a battle of who would be in the spotlight. whereas at first, i was a major focal point, i was increasingly novetalized[sic] to the point of being redundant. i had spent 4 years doing my self titled "beatjazz" only to be marginalized repeatedly, no more so than here in NYC, where the level of ego in the club scene is ob-scene! what do i do with this depression i've dealt with for the last 2 years? how do i snap out of it. when ever i would go home, i'd usually just sleep, and when i go out, i usually fall back into to the easy gig of playing with DJs for th money...and get even more depressed, so....

when my landlady came to me and told me that she wanted me to move out because my closet smelled funny [no joke] i could only comprehend one option; work and write as close to 24 hours a day as possiblea and dont worry about a place to live. i stored all of my shit at a friends crib and have a membership to a 24 hour gym. to me, a home is, at it least, a place to lay ones head and store ones shit. well, the trains here run 24 hours a day, so there is the sleep thing sortd. I just need purity again. i need to feel real, raw passion for my art form again. in a way i havent felt in years. i dont care where i sleep, as long as i have my equipment [which consistes of an unbelievably heavy gell cell battery, car amp, and a lot of cables, and a couple of synths and a laptop, all carted around in a rolling metal toolbox] and access to food [had to go on food stamps a few weeks ago, so thats, that sortd]. now, i live nowhere and everywhere, at once. it's pretty cool right now, but we'll see how soon that shit wears off.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

test test test