Monthly Archives: March 2011

Rorsharch Test

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That’s It.

Snap. Just like that, I decide that it’s time for the next step. And so it is.

1. If I feel like doing something, I’ll do it. If not, I won’t.
2. You’re a friend. You do mean something to me. The more you encourage my ambitions, the more you mean to me. I will try understand your needs.
3. Life / God / World / Universe / Truth first. Music second. Try make them one and the same by being aware of and directing the thoughts I think.
4. Be aware of my shortcomings. Listen to them quietly. Laugh at myself.
5. When you practice, breathe and enjoy. Learn to associate practice with enjoyment.
6. You don’t need to be fluent in anything.
7. You are already there. Not halfway or partly, but fully there.
8. You’ll die. Follow the freedom this truth brings.
9. Look at the bridge, not out the window. Concentrate on the time gap between left hand / right arm.
10. Production is easy. Spend less time fiddling. Browse presets.
11. Talk to the plant.
12. Give stuff away.
13. DJs are not all musicians. Be a DJ sometimes. Inventor Mr Fox? You’re not brilliant yet, you do need shortcuts sometimes. It will encourage you.
14. I love you.
15. Handstands.
16. The only cure to talk is action.
17. There is no cure for a hangover. Avoid them, they’re stupid. Getting too drunk and staying up all night talking shit with people is stupid. DO something. Find the good music. Avoid the hits because they depress me.
18. Don’t get depressed. It’s all almost over.
19. Don’t fake smile unless I have to. Stop smiling at everyone all the time because it’s insincere and saps my energy. Smile when I’m glad about something rather.
20. IMAGINE THINGS MORE
21. The impulsive action must be obeyed. Watch the still brush at your peril. The thought then lingers and I’m stuck between the real and the desire. Consolidate briefly and release.
22. The ladies are as flawed as you are. Put nobody on a pedestal.
23. Major Major Major Major Minor Minor Seventh Diminished Augmented Sus4 Sus2 Ninth Eleventh. Love the theory.

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Life in Slow Motion

I practice religiously because music is my religion. For at least 5 hours every week, I grab my instrument and focus on getting better through making mistakes. I drill, I improve. But it’s still only 5 hours a week, and every year that goes by is one less year that I spend in an actual orchestra surrounded by professionals.

I’m not a professional violinist, and I’d give myself another 5 years before I think being a professional musician is a sustainable livelihood. I don’t know how long it will actually take. Only two things seem certain: that it will happen, and that it’s taking a long time.

In my dreams, of course, I’m already there. When these dreams encroach on reality, the result is painful acceptance of what I am not.

The latest inspiration is a chap called Mason Bates, composer for the YouTube Symphony orchestra. His image as a “composer-DJ” is as straightforward as it gets: vinyl records and sheet music side by side. Blinking little electronic lights and the tips of violin bows from the orchestra in front. The conductor in the nightclub. It’s a sexy blend of opposites.

I want to excel. I plan to excel. I work to excel.

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Today

This blog is just about the only place I get to truly be myself. Today I’m a ship out to sea, lost and directionless. I resolve to conserve all my energy, give nothing but the most meagre ‘hi’ to the 600 students who will greet me today, put the minimum effort into my classes and be out of here not a minute later than 4.20pm. Yesterday evening I ended up creating dark beautiful techno and bawling on the floor of the apartment, pouring my remorse and loneliness into a sketchpad with a permanent marker, held like a dagger. I have dark days.

To all the times you boxed activity and labelled it passion in the spirit of endurance
To all the times you shortened the leash of the ugly menace within
To all the fellow adventurers who loved me as I disappeared.

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Bleeding Heart

Messing around with some paints

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Magickal

Part 2. Here’s Part 1.

The other rich guy I recently met is a film producer for Noori Pictures. I had the chance to chat to him on a magical night somewhere in the less condensed areas of Seoul, a coffee bar bistro near some street art we saw on the subway – the only legitimate type I’ve seen so far, and by legitimate I mean illegitimate.

We were three, Nic, a South African girl called Cindy who we’d just met that night and I. Connections come easy in an English no-mans land. We were out to meet Caroline, the South England poet who came to our audition gig at Roofers the week before, and was apparently making a bold plan on getting everyone’s attention and reading that night.


Caroline in her element

Caroline is friends with David, the producer, and his partner Aeran, a jubilant, outgoing Korean woman who had met Caroline at her fashion store around the corner a few days earlier. Caroline’s Polish friend from London Joanna was also in town for a week and joined us. Cobbled together across a few subcultures, we hunkered in the corner under some incredible canvas artwork for a mysterious success of an evening.

David is interesting for a few reasons. He’s old enough to have lived the stories I’ve only read about. He’s surrounded by young folk but he’s not some eccentric curiosity. And by his own admission, he has a credit card you could use to buy a house. Sensing a scoop, I spoke to him directly.

“So, David. Lemme ask you something. Does having a lot of money change the way you see people?”

He responded in a yes-no way, but through his explanation about how he prefers guest-houses to 5-star hotels, it was clear he wasn’t filled with self-importance. I guess the fact that I was even in his social circle on the night, however wildly eclectic, was enough to prove as much. I’ve literally been attacked by someone in the past for challenging the assumption that he was more important than me because of his money, so it was hardly a disappointment when he didn’t give me the typical “modesty pitch” that people like Bono get off on in their attempt to appear sincere. Besides, I speak freely as if I have no money – an assumption in itself that may be challenged by the 1 billion people who live on under US$1 per day.

I focus on the taboo of money talk because it strikes me as an interesting game people play. Never reveal too much, or too little.


Take a marker pen when you go out.

The night ended with us inventing a cocktail (“White Korean: 1 part Kahlua, 1 part milk, 1 part Soju”). Cindy ducked off early, luckily avoiding the carnage. Some of us ended up with shirts missing tattooing each other with a thick permanent marker. The whole thing was an unlikely smash hit. I’d like to thank the money for making it possible.

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Endorphin Salesmen

One thing at a time
Yeah, splitting yourself I think is a luxury only established artists can afford. Everything you do at this point should gear towards working on one recognizable brand / sound. I’m in the same boat, I have lyrical stuff 10 years old still waiting for a decent recording, but I’m putting everything into dance / energy music now.

Endorphin salesmen
When it comes down to it, creating fans is about playing live shows. If the artist wants to become a professional, their service is endorphin release. Our job is simply to deliver an emotional kick to folk. The great entertainers are the ones who enjoy it the most, and therefore lead their audience down a path, allowing them to behave in a way that they’re constantly discouraged to do in everyday life. Now’s the chance to move, dance, release, enjoy. As entertainers, we have to create the live shows and master that scenario. The results are music, ticket and merchandise sales and awareness of your art.

Music, actually.
As artists all of our endeavors can seem overwhelmingly huge. We’ve got, like, all these projects lurking in the corners and our mental environment can seem very busy at times. But to the general public you’re only as good as your packaging. The Twitter / Facebook hype is the scaffolding, but having a solid performance is the building. People will know when you’re all scaffolding and no building. To me, rehearsal is more important than recording, practice more important than newsletters. It sounds obvious but I’ve spent sooooo much time updating stuff online and designing flyers when I should have been in school, getting better at music itself, or at least on the phone to a friend making a real connection to someone without seeing dollar signs hovering above their heads.

Fish where there are none
I believe creating good music (and therefore demand for it) generally takes the artist by surprise. That random track you just put out for fun often trumps the one you’re carefully constructed as a hit. And your most valuable thing is what makes you unique. Even if you’re only planning on creating commercial music, it must be delivered / distributed / promoted in a way that nobody else is doing it. So making good music is a balance between being prolific enough to not take each individual release too seriously as an artwork, but sincere enough to stick ONLY to the sounds which inspire you personally. Done is better than perfect.

In a nutshell: stick with creating one sound if you want to get noticed but keep experimenting with multiple sounds if your artistic freedom is more important. Above all, put the actual audio experience first. The rest is just noise.

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Really Rich People. Richer Than Me.

I actually have no idea who this dude is, but he came up under a Google Image search for “Rich”

I’m fascinated by people with a lot of money, and when I have the chance to socialize with them, I always bring up the topic, as innocuously as I can, of course. Sometimes they appear to be searching, as if the party / dinner / event is merely a time-passing fancy, pulp fiction, as if something incredible is happening tomorrow but they can’t talk about it. Their eyes wander through fields of phantom figures. All but tomorrow’s pragmatic action is irrelevant. Everything is somehow a means to an end, even if it is the most delicious Beef Korma you’ve ever had.

In the last week I’ve managed to socialize with two different rich people. Chris is a Korean fashion businessman who lives on my floor. He’s CEO of his company and ‘has all time’ to hang out with me. He’s young, evidently wealthy and has a beautiful Korean wife called Anna. His English is past the awkward phase; he speaks now as if searching for the best way to say something. Last night he picked me up in his black BMW and drove me and Anna to Itaewon for dinner. I was wearing the same sneakers I jog in, carrying a bag of watercolor paints, 1.6l of beer (and a chilled mug) and no wallet. I was expecting to paint the sunset on the roof when he urgently called, and I went straight down to meet him without thinking.

I always feel that my passion for the visceral adventures of art, music and present-moment mindfulness will fall flat on rich folk, even if I could sum up the wherewithal to begin THAT conversation. I don’t speak bottom line business. I sometimes wish I could discuss investment strategy, idolize corporate heroes and become passionate about a true quality company.

End Part one. Part two here.

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