I found myself in Jeffs musical car when I was in Moncton last winter. Kelly Sue thanks.
I was fired once. Like Robert Shaw in The Sting I didn’t see it coming. This was the set up – a filmmaker was seeking a composer and so he sent the same 10 minute excerpt to various composers to try to score. Nobody got paid for that part but if your musical sketches were the most impressive to the delegates then you got the job and it would pay almost $20,000. So they picked the winner – me. I was very flattered. Finally not hired just for my good looks.
The tone of the film was surrealistic, the score I made reflected some Nino Rota love and seemed to make the picture flow better (CLICK HERE TO UNDERSTAND NINO ROTA LOVE). I was getting plenty of hi fives all around; the director, the producer, the sound designers. I guess I’m prejudice but I thought it was working splendidly.
Then a man came to town from Los Angeles, the director’s friend who co-starred in the film, let’s call him Assface. Nobody had included Assface in the earlier process or in these recent weeks of work….and Assface hated the music. The director who previously treated me like a brother now needed to check everything with Assface. The director became what Frank Magazine used to call a fart-catcher. I assured him he could relax and trust what he had started. Dude the reason you hired me was because it worked for you in a blind test and that was smart – don’t you remember when you were smart? It was just a couple months ago?
Assface wanted music that sounded like modern rock radio. What’s with the Fellini shit? So I did the best modern rock radio I could. But each thing I wrote now fell short of the mark. The director couldn’t quite put his finger on it ultimately he said it was no good. They paid me about $6000 for all I had done, for nothing. Very generous of them. I thought they might not pay me anything since they were firing me… I would have accepted that. I like doing the job well and if I’m not the right guy I’d rather move on. Years later I rented the DVD and the music they used was kind of amazing to me. No Felinni and no modern rock radio either. The style was predictable, felt like it had all been a bad joke. My first thoughts were if they had realized this is what they wanted I could have done it for them. What a peculiar arc the music had traveled.
A music producer friend of mine once told me a joke. “Question: How many producers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: I don’t know what do you think?” He thought it was hilarious but I don’t get it. I’m not insecure about my ideas or executing them. I do not know what it is like to have a well that is dry. Whether or not they are good ideas is another question but the joke suggests that certain artists are filled with doubt. I assume my friend laughed so hard because he is one of them. The Assfaces of the world are always waiting to say the worst thing to an insecure artist. I get a little nutty to this day about allowing the opinions of others into the room if the job isn’t in a strong place.
Ray Manzarek Jr. died today (who knew he was Jr(?), but I just read his Wiki). All those journalists who would ask me about Garth Hudson or Rick Wakeman when Blue Rodeo started, who assumed I was trying to do something like those guys. Nope, sorry, uh uh, you got the wrong guy.
Who’s the man? Ray Manzarek …fucking Jr!
Ever since I was old enough to realize I loved The Doors I loved the keyboards and I could tell the player was using both hands and that was cooler than most.
In electric bands it seems like the norm is for whoever is called the keyboard player to play with one finger using their right hand. That’s ok if they do something amazing with that one finger but if their using both hands and really musical, that’s amore, and that was generally Ray Manzarek, thinking about counterpoint and being creative. That’s what it’s about.
Spent all week mixing Jess Reimer’s new record. One thing to still figure out, should the solo in this song be pedal steel or guitar?
- Global Warming might be a random change.
- Commercial radio stations play whatever they want.
- Rob Ford is a victim of the Toronto Star.
I read once that young Bob Dylan after arriving in New York, with no claim to fame, soon lied, telling people he had been playing with Woody Guthrie. People were freaked out and they gave him a chance on stage. Dylan’s actual material impressed the audiences – did it matter that he lied?
Once you get on stage we can all tell how worthy you are (or aren’t). Whatever you have to do to get onto the stage is fair, so says the judge from Riverheights. If you are determined to play by the rules you probably don’t get a chance. Whether it’s right or wrong is another story – I’m just saying, in a broken world you probably have to think more sideways in order to get a shot. It’s broken most definitely, the world of advertising is all about stating facts which may or may not be true. Therefore making shit up about yourself is fair, isn’t any different than the publicist or the record company or the journalist explaining to us how amazing this week’s artist is….because they’re getting paid to do that regardless of whether it is true. What resolves this for me is Freddie Stone and the life changing music lesson with him in 1983. Freddie said
“The audience is smart enough to know”
Meaning whatever bullshit you need to do means nothing until you are on stage doing your thing. If you are any good people will get it. If you are phoney they’ll get that too.
There is a marketing vehicle for musicians called Earbits. I started using it in December. Especially like the fact that there aren’t a whack of advertisements polluting the pages where the work of interesting artists wait to be heard.
Sure am sick of advertisements everywhere, blocking street signs or trying to scan your retina enabling a talking poster to greet you a la Stephen Spielberg’s brilliant Minority Report (see picture of Peter Stormare). Isn’t it amazing a great film can exist despite Tom Cruise acting in it?
Also very pleasing that the people who made Earbits regard Sonic Bids about as useful as this humble blogger does. In my inner scale of good and bad, Sonic bids occupies the space between “car just towed away” and “food poisoning”.
(from the interview with Earbits navigator J. Flores)
What are the benefits of using Earbits for an independent musician?
I think the big benefit is that, say on Facebook, you can put up a page, but there’s not much you can do to drive exposure to yourself on those pages other than putting in a lot of hours networking on Facebook and asking people to refer friends to you. It’s not that novel to give a band a nice profile page, but what we’re doing is creating a place where consumers will listen to hundreds of bands in a month, making that audience available to bands without them having to do a lot of work. My experience with Facebook has been that you’re paying 30 cents for a click and the person doesn’t even know what you sound like yet. On Earbits, you’re paying 2 cents for someone to listen to you and they have the ability to act on that by going to your Facebook Page and things like that. It’s taking that step out of the middle of making someone guess what you sound like. We’re creating an environment that’s so compelling for users that they’re going to want to spend their time there. And we’re making that available for sale.
I have some musical hero’s and I try in my way to qualify playing on the same team but it isn’t for me to answer if I am worthy. So when the question “who do you sound like” comes up, as it often does; I should have an answer.
I used to say “emotional music” or “issue driven music”. The person asking looks back at me as though I didn’t answer. Could my answer have been any more lame or confusing?
Nowadays, I try to say my work is simply run-of-the-mill easy listening. Nobody knows what to do with that plus I get to enjoy looking at them as though I answered them….and I did.
There is so much humiliation in the business of trying to get by as an artist that one should maximize all opportunities to laugh, unless you are at US customs. If the border guard/ customs agent asks “What type of music do you play?” it is a very good sign. It means they are satisfied with your responses to the first questions which were
- Where do you live?
- What’s the purpose of your trip?
- What do you do for a living?
If by chance they smile and ask “What type of music do you play?” then you’re in.
They never ever smile off the top and they might not smile at all. They might just say pull your car into that bay on the left and then they go through all your stuff and make you wait 30 minutes and act grumpy. But if they act nice, it is a dead giveaway that they are satisfied and now they might take a chance to be polite and ask about your music. It is no time to joke about Barry Manilow. By the way the correct answer is ” I play country” and then they respond “Ok, have a nice time in America.”
I was at a hotel in Edmonton recently; I was attending a conference, (I think I just used a semi colon correctly by the way).
It seemed like a good hotel but when I peeled back the bed cover I found wrinkled sheets. Not that big a deal but not expected especially since the lobby had crazy remarkable shag carpet and a fancy steakhouse adjacent to it. This suggested to me that this hotel was a place where the towels would be clean, the glasses clear and the bedsheets crisp. It didn’t look like they were exactly the same sheets that someone slept in previously or were they? I decided it was ok and went to sleep. Later I woke up and wrote a middle-of-the-night email to Ronley Teper who told me she puts all her stuff in garbage bags when she stays at hotels because she knows about bedbugs. Just thought I would let her know I’m reconsidering my previous laughter at her hotel paranoia.
I was there three nights and when I awoke that last morning of my stay I removed one of the bath towels and discovered what seemed like shit stains on either end of the towel – not recent shit stains either. Pretty sure these babies had been through the wash more than once. Made me wonder how a person folding them would not notice also made me wonder what to do, relieved as I was that I had not tried to use them to dry myself.
At first I thought I would show one of the cleaning people then I decided to show the front desk, then I had a horrible thought – what if they think I did it? What would I then say to them and how would I preserve my moral high ground? I blinked, decided to take pictures instead, for you! Yes! One more advantage of following my blog, shit stains. I have more pictures but two is probably more than you need.
I was listening to a marketing podcast and they recommended people demonstrate what the difference is between them and their competition. I wasn’t certain who my competition is so I’ll start with Amanda Palmer. Hands down my shit blows her out of the water. She stands naked and lets people autograph her. I would stand naked and let them pierce me. Where’s your guts Amanda? Mine are around my stomach and now fans can cut into them for just a small donation to my Paylpal account. My music is way better than you. Thank you marketing podcast.