good afternoon ~
(click the link / snowmobile tracks to listen)
today's track is a casserole of tape hiss and digital choirs, yummy
fun news: next week I'm gonna be putting out another compilation of my big break tracks. stay tuned for the best of 2023 :)
hey I'm playing in New York City on Tuesday - - celebrating the release of some new music from DJ Stepdad at Baby's All Right:
should be an excellent hang, you can get tickets here or at the door, and it looks my buddy Shara Lunon is gonna sit in during my set - she's an amazing vocalist and improviser and we tend to get really gnarly together.
also as you'll read - we just announced 24-HOUR DRONE at my occasionally cool day job. you'll hear more about that in the coming months, probably, but you should get tickets and/or apply to the open call for performers.
In 2017 the wheels really fell off. I was unsure of where or how I could live, totally unmoored and unfettered. On the other side of this pit would be joy but I hadn't gotten there yet - I was still clawing at the sides of the hole, dirt in my face.
One afternoon as I was walking to work in a cloud of unknowing an idea occurred to me. It was like a bolt of lightning in that it was sudden and powerful but it was unlike a bolt of lightning in that the idea simply arrived. It was like receiving some kind of cosmic radio wave in that it felt beamed from another existence but it was unlike riding a radio wave in that there was nothing to listen to. Between one step and the next the idea and the intent became. I would record an album that was 24 hours long.
At the time I had no room to look inward. I had to look forward, I had to make it to tomorrow. And I've always tried to resist analyzing or editing my creative work until it was almost nearly done or safely intact. So in the summer of 2017 I did not know exactly why I was drawn to this hulking concept of a project. I followed the impulse because maybe it would lead me somewhere else.
In the years since those charged nights when my buddies locked me in their studio overnight, those mornings where I watched the dawn come in through the skylight above their mixing desk, I've finally begun to understand some of the reasons this idea zapped me. For one thing, I have always been interested in the arbitrary limits of physical media - LPs and 45s can only hold so much per side and the standardized length of a CD came about because of the performance length of Beethoven's 9th symphony. I've also always been fascinated by making something that was overly long or confrontationally challenging to take in (were any of you at the show I played in my apartment in 2012 when I performed all 45 continuous minutes of a piece with a single held sustained chord? Or were any of you listening the time I played a 75 minute long song on WFMU?).
All fine and interesting reasons but the truth is more simple. I just wanted to put myself in a position from which it would be impossible to emerge unchanged. I wanted to do something that would forever and completely alter me.
I feel similarly about tattoos. At dinner the other night my friend was making fun of the tendency people have to put a ton of personal mythology into what they get needled onto their body. "I don't care what it fucking means!" I looked down at some of mine: a bloody axe, a plastic trash bag, a silly little guy, the Del Taco logo, a cloud, my grandma's square dancing pin, a bitchin' skull. Some meaning held therein to be sure but the most compelling thing to me about these or any other future designs is simply that my body becomes altered. You are literally actually not the same when you get up out of the chair - now you've got a silly little guy on your arm.
I see this pattern of yearning for dramatic change in other aspects of my life, too. Falling in love changes you obviously. Surely when I spent my first summer making music in Alaska I knew I would never be the same. Running my first (and to date only) 5k felt similarly. Traveling does that, going on tour can accomplish that, playing a really, really fun show can do that. I have often felt renewing, baptismal forces at dance music events, particularly at raves in the woods. But will I ever get to a point where dramatically changing is no longer compelling? Lately I've been feeling the most dramatic change of all: aging turns you into a different person entirely. Maybe by the time I'm in my 60s I will have had enough of transformative fire.
I did feel different after I recorded all 24 hours of the big, unwieldy project. And as quickly as the wheels came off a new set of wheels kinda snapped into place, things worked out okay for me. And as I continued to rebuild my life I went ahead and diligently mixed all the recordings, then I spent 48 weeks emailing out the music a half an hour at a time (the origin of this current email project, actually). I made space for looking inward. Isn't that usually how it goes, though? One dramatic inciting incident that changes you but then a year or two of steady, regular work at it to make it stick.
In May I'll once again be putting together a 24-hour long concert. Much like my big, unwieldy project, it is an arguably unnecessarily huge undertaking that challenges the listener to take it all in. It also totally allows anyone there to fall asleep, or to wander outside to watch the sun rise from the parking lot. For the right person it can be a beautiful experience. For the wrong person it is probably a bad night's sleep. In my greatest hopes for the success of this long, unbroken performance I see the gathered audience emerging changed. I hope that we can tattoo your life a bit, now you've got a silly little guy on the fabric of your memory (fun fact: they used to do stick and pokes on site at the concert, I have one of them). In the three previous times I've been a part or attended I have come out on the other side simultaneously exhausted and energized. We only have so many days and every single one of us spends our entire budget of time one way or another - why not blow it on the long song.
But what about you? Are you ever the same? What situations do you put yourself in to try and elicit some kind of change? Will you lay on the floor?