Banging my head on a digital wall (...and making some progress).
1st QTR 2014 Update
Jason Phoenix says:
-guilt for not updating; then lies that he will regularly update
-Produced Kids Of The Night, an album with rock band SOBRIQUET in 2013
-In 2014, producing another album with SOBRIQUET, to be released in Fall
-Is scoring for a movie called God Grant Me
-Working with fully licensed Ableton Live 9 Suite
-Working with Livid Instrument's CellDNA software & beginning of Video Mixing/Animation/Design Projection
-YouTube Channel to become more active beginning in March
-Started an Event Production & Lighting Company called Incandescent Productions
I should get something off my chest, although my social media training insists its poor form to have the following admission appear on one's website for any amount of time.
I have a particular sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I go to a website and discover that it has not been updated in many moon cycles/years/decades.
There's a certain feeling of loneliness, of abandonment, like being inside an abandoned house and looking at people's long forgotten decor covered in dust and cobwebs.
This feeling is worse when it is my own website; especially given the time & frustration it took to reach the point of having one--which was completely my own fault for being stubborn.
Still, I'm here, and it is a new year. There are things to put down, and thoughts to free up.
My only valid excuses for my lapse of activity over 2013 for my online entities is that it is difficult to find time to write when I am very busy, and when I am not busy, I'm either busy critiquing myself or drafting some new daft idea or plotting another scheme. Or I am being lazy, which does also happen.
In 2013, I was surprisingly busy and not at all lazy, and I feel I owe it to 2014 to explain what I've been doing.
I would also add into my list of invalid excuses that learning any instrument or medium takes time, effort, and errors. Because I am hyper-critical, I write entries that I frequently do not publish, because I do not feel they fit. This entry itself started life sometime in December, and look where we are now.
But we're here, and this will just be another post in a sea of posts, little letters to the Constant Reader.
However, I have gained enough mastery through my tests on this little outpost and others that I feel confident in making some real mistakes, and then producing something of great wonder and beauty.
I have discovered through experience that no matter how a thing is conceived or imagined, that it is more important that it exists, that the idea becomes reality, something that can be experienced and shared by more than just one person.
Because each and every one of us contains wondrous worlds inside our heads full of untold stories, music, art, and inventions, but not everyone manages to birth them into this world to be shared with others.
Our time here with each other is brief, and in that sense, it is only what we have created and shared that can be remembered or pointed to after we've left this vehicle and moved onto another.
Better done than perfect.
Something I became obsessed with in my life as an artist and a musician is Resources.
You can't create without the means; no drawings without ink and paper, no music without the guitar and the strings. Learning on a bad instrument can set you back not only in time but in your technique, requiring the unlearning of bad habits or compensation for quality of the material. That said, I have always tried to seize whatever was available and make it do what I want it to, with varying results and quality.
Better done than perfect.
When I was 10 years younger than I am now, I was full of boundless hopes and dreams and schemes, and had almost no access to any of the resources I needed to produce what I was dreaming and scheming and hoping. But whatever I could get my hands on, I would work with.
Looking back, had I not spent so much time practicing, learning, dreaming, scheming, and hoping, I could have just gotten some job, bought the list of stuff I wanted/needed, and saved some time and effort. But I always felt the job that pays for the gear also takes me away from the time I needed to learn the skills on the gear.
Also looking back, the things that frustrated me most, that I had to struggle to overcome are the parts I and others like the most, that have made other projects smoother. Those things I thought were so flawed and juvenile have a quality to them despite the resources that put them together.
The obsession with resources lead inevitably to a wary and weary understanding of technology, to understand how to get the equipment to do what I want it to do. I even took a job repairing computers to understand the how and what and why of their failures and abilities. The more you know, you know.
I have been banging my head on a digital wall for sometime now, making tests and sketches and models. Using whatever I can get my hands on. And I am making progress. My electronic music, my art, and my ability to put these things online all exist, with few barriers but time and imagination standing between me.
For the moment, I do have the resources I need, and the knowledge I didn't have. All I can hope for now is that the me from 10 years ago had good ideas, because I'm going to rip off all my present day ideas from that kid. All the effort to learn the craft and develop and refine the style and to fit the pieces together has begun to pay off, despite the setbacks and trials of trying to make silver from dross.
Not so many years ago, I was bitching about my lack of resources and artistic frustration to someone, and they told me I was an expletive and that I should go and work with someone younger and get some perspective on someone's work besides mine. Quit being so selfish. Go use your experience to help someone else out that doesn't know any better, so they don't end up jaded like you are.
This lead to a whole series of events that took me farther away from my own music, but has made me understand how badly I want my sound to get out into the world, for my art to be expressed on the scale it deserves.
Through this advice, I lost a bit time on the side of pursuing parts of my career, but I understand better how to be an artist without pissing a lot of people off in the process. And while working on other people's dreams and fulfilling their wishes, I've continued honing my skills and practicing my crafts...and made alot more friends than enemies.
Through that effort, I have come to owe the majority of my increase in resources and energy and drive to a great group of musical artists I have been working with in 2013, a rock band called SOBRIQUET, who you can find online here: http://sobriquetmusic.com
They are a phenomenal rock act with intricate musicianship, catchy melodies, and thoughtful lyrics that really mean something. Moreso, their songs aren't simply studio confections, but rather living breathing things, bred out of inspiration and perfected in live performance...which themselves are a spectacle worth witnessing in person.
I randomly worked with them as a soundguy at The Jazzhaus here in Lawrence, KS, and the third time I ran their sound, I happened to record the soundboard. The recording was tolerable enough that it was listenable--the songs incredible enough that the recording didn't leave my car or studio, and became my soundtrack to 2012's Autumn and Winter.
When I bumped into their lead singer/lyricist Doug Wooldridge, I approached him with a bit of that awe we all have for the people that write the music that becomes part of the fabric of our lives. I told him about the recording; he invited me to play it back for the band.
I was hoping to do something with the live recording, possibly distribute it online--but the band didn't like the recording. Instead they invited me to produce their next recording, which I pitched as a four-week bang-it-out, 1 week tracking, 2 week mixing, last week stick it online album, and instead became something much larger, including a physical release and so has expanded into my entire year to present.
You can hear what this brilliant band created here:
(Assuming of course that the interwebs gods are smiling on both of us and that works)
We are currently working on another album together, with more involvement from Mike Giffin, who performing the mixdown and mastering for Kids Of The Night. We have been touring studios, and think we've found a good fit for tracking the album. It's fun being able to
There will be a more in-depth essay on SOBRIQUET as soon as I finish just getting nostalgic when I read the notes from the sessions and the pics from last year.
At the same time SOBRIQUET and I were working on this album, I became acquainted with some scriptwriter/producer/directors working on an independent film called God Grant Me.
After the album was wrapped, I was approached to work on the film, possibly as an engineer. After reading the script, meeting the actors, and seeing some dailies, I heard some specific ideas and thoughts about the music, and so I offered my services for creating music for the film.
The process is ongoing; more information about the movie and its release will be forthcoming.
I can say that my description of the movie is that its an (anti)romantic comedy about two romantics who fit together because they are both are broken in their own way.
These projects and returns on some others have helped to fund my license for Ableton Live 9, the software which has become as much my instrument as my guitar, as integral to my work as my mind.
I scoffed at its minimalism when it was in Version 1; by Version 4 it had rendered my hardware samplers obsolete except as MIDI controllers...and then has allowed me to be able to play samples with my guitar strings, a pipe dream from childhood now come true.
With the latest version, I have some opportunities I would like to pursue, possibly becoming a Certified Trainer, as soon as I'm 100% up to speed with this latest version. But like any instrument, every time I use it, I learn something new.
This is a program I can't recommend highly enough to everyone, and at this point I've used Ableton Live for everything from multi-tracking to arrangement to live performance. So I'm exploring all the nooks and crannies and once I'm familiar enough, we'll see if I have the right stuff.
As I'll be tracking the demo process of SOBRIQUET's next album, and the scoring project, I have a feeling I'll be getting a lot of practice in.
Hand in hand with this, I have been working over 2013 on two interrelated projects: publishing videos to YouTube and manipulating my artwork designs into animated videos. My YouTube channel can be found at http://youtube.com/jasonphoenixdotcom
Like so much of my work, I am starting with the oldest means of production and working towards the capabilities of the present. I have an overhead projector like the kind that are used in schools as well as hippies with access to color dye and oil and water. I have been manipulating transparencies with an eye towards projecting my artwork.
Which brings me to the present cutting edge: I have been overjoyed to discover Livid Instrument's CellDNA video software, which manipulates still and moving images in realtime, like how audio effects manipulate audio (although completely different).
I have some projectors, which will allow me to project the output from CellDNA virtually anywhere I have power.
Using a combination of real world photography and video capture, along with CellDNA, I hope to finally move into the video projection and light painting aspect of media that I've been edging towards.
This will (fingers crossed) feed into more regular YouTube posts of my animation/designs alongside my music, as well as open up opportunities for me to talk about my equipment and the process, things which I find interesting for me to watch.
Part of the reason the fields here have lay fallow has been that I have not known what to do with this website that I possess. Do I use it to post diatribes about current events or my past or my present? Do I talk about the process or do I just stick the artwork up on the wall and say, "There! Lookaddit!"?
Twitter has me covered on my short-form current-event thoughts. I have discovered if I can't fit a witty thought into 140 characters I probably shouldn't be writing about the subject unless its completely absurd. Google+ is amazing for sharing pictures and artwork, although I am still trying to make their system for organizing photos work for me like I want it to.
Done is better than perfect.
Having sat and pondered long and hard what I want from the website that bears my name, I've decided the best thing I can do is to create what I would enjoy visiting. What I would come back to.
As part of this, I put in a submission to become part of the Google Cultural Institute's Art Project--now open to individuals, galleries, and museums--and can happily say that I have been accepted into the program!
I have realized that this might become a longer term project in some ways, a great attempt as best as possible to archive my work, including my journals and various artwork extending back as far as my physical archive allows...which is actually quite some time. Having examined how to backdate posts, I am now quite confident that I should be able to archive and capture a significant amount of my work digitally and to share it in a high quality format.
And as time allows me to; my priorities still lie more in the moment than demonstrating what the Nth year old Jason Phoenix had to offer.
There are things that I am creating for you to see and to hear, and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to bring them into this world and out of my head.
It is time to stop practicing and sketching; now it is time to begin creating and start distributing.