So once again I haven’t posted in ages! Have been insanely busy! There was of course the great move this past summer, God am I glad that’s over with, then from there I’ve just been trying to keep up with school and my podcast. Oh yeah, and there’s been a bunch of climate organizing too, because I kind of jumped in to take point on accessibility for our two big climate marches this fall. Although, mercifully more so for the first march than the second one, by which point the other organizers were able to take what had been done for the first march and run with it. Which was great, because by then it was the last, and thus craziest, month of term! LOL So yeah, things have been rather hectic around here, thus my neglecting this site. Oops!!
Anyway, I figured the start of the new year was a good time to post again. And on that note, happy New Year everyone!!
Anyhow, as some of you will recall, back when I started this site, I was really trying to get up and going as a musician. But that kind of died on the vine, partly for some access-related reasons, but partly for some other reasons. Or rather, now that I think about it, my original music being thwarted by lack of access gave me an opportunity to re-examine things and reflect. Back when I started, I was really into symphonic metal, so that was the kind of music I wanted to make. But over the past bunch of years, I’ve really moved away from that both aesthetically and, for lack of a better word, philosophically.
The issue is that I became increasingly uncomfortable with how dependant my music was on technology, both to produce and to perform. Because, for various reasons, some related to my limited mobility and some related to my lack of musical chops on any instrument but voice, I never was able to get a live band up and going. So I was totally dependant on my computer to produce full, rich, metal-sounding arrangements. Hell, even as I moved towards a softer, more music-theatre sound, I still relied on my computer’s midi instruments to fill out the arrangements! And I still needed to run accompaniment tracks from my iPad in order to perform. But this hyper-dependence on technology has felt increasingly wrong. I’ve increasingly felt that I should being doing stuff that, yes, might be plugged in for amplification and effects, but could just as well be performed acoustically. Because, are we not in a climate and ecological crisis? Rhetorical question, yes we are! And to deal with that crisis, don’t we need urgently to be lowering our energy consumption and rebuilding community? Again, rhetorical question. Yes we absolutely do! So why the hell was I off doing highly technologically dependant music that would sound very diminished acoustically, and that wasn’t helping me connect with people? As I said, it increasingly felt wrong. What was more, all my favourite artists, those whom I admire for doing really superb music that’s utterly relevant socially and politically, were doing music on real instruments that could be done justice to whether plugged or unplugged. Even the hiphop artists I’ve come to like write in such a way that there pieces can be done unaccompanied without loosing quality! I’ve heard them do so at a bunch of protests. So I came to feel in my gut and spirit that, if I want my music to be socially, politically and spiritually relevant, too, then my own practice as a musician needs to embody values of humanity and community. It needs to be grounded.
The upshot of all that, then, is that, when I get my music back up and going, which I hope to be able to do in the fairly near future, it will have a very different sound than the stuff I’ve put out before! I will, of course, still use the internet to share and distribute it, because I kind of have to. But now the tech will be a supplement – a way to both get around access barriers and, hopefully, reach a wider audience. It won’t be integral to my sound or to performance.
The awesome thing is that I think I’ve found a way to make this change while still producing a full, rich sound in my accompaniments, that’s also within my skill-level as an instrumentalist! Because, that’s always been part of the problem. As I said, my main instrument’s always been voice, so I’ve never really developed chops on anything else. Additionally, because I have CP, I don’t have super fine-motor control. It’s OK, but not up to really virtuostic, or even just plain fast, playing. LOL As the current pinch-hitter organist at church pithily put it (with regard to himself not me although I fully relate to the sentiment), “there’s an inverse relationship between the number of notes and how fast I can play them”. LOL So well said!! So a lot of my musical journey has been trying to find work-arounds for those limitations. And by the grace of the Universe, I think I might finally have found one that doesn’t rely on my computer to fake it! I can’t say more without giving spoilers. But hopefully you’ll see and hear soon!
Don’t get me wrong, though, and don’t worry, I haven’t gone Luddite or anything! LOL Those of you who know me know I very much doubt I could. I love and value labour-saving, not to mention access-facilitating, technologies as much as the next person. And I profoundly believe in the importance of preserving those to the greatest extent possible! But I also know that, in the ASAP future, regardless of what genre/style/idiom/medium of art we make, we’re going to have to do it using strictly renewable energy sources and sustainable production processes. Moreover, our art itself is going to have to transform. It’s going to have to stop being a commodity on the market and/or a mere entertainment or escape. It’s going to have to become, instead, a form of renewable energy itself in a way – a source of nourishment, healing and renewal for people psychically and spiritually that strengthens us for the struggle and for the work of surviving and thriving. Now I’m not suggesting, by any means, that this can only be done by small, acoustic bands/artists. Indeed, one of my great dreams in life is to see, and preferably to be involved in creating, a powered-down, non-extractive production of the ALW Phantom. It’d be a huge challenge! But with a bit of creativity, I think it could be done. And that’d be amazing!!But it would be very different from the large-scale, constantly running “sit-down” productions we’re used to (more on my thoughts as to how that might work in future posts). It would, though, be about people coming together in love and community to make and hear great music, tell and receive a sacred story through art, and raise and move energies for healing and regeneration. Perhaps it’d be about that even more than existing productions of the show are now! And that kind of art, that spirit of art, is what I want my own music to be a part of – to move towards. But I don’t feel like I can do that as long as my music’s faked through my computer. It feels too ungrounded that way, and frankly I think it was alienating people.