Where in the world is Adri?

Hi all! It’s been a fairly long absence from sharing any new posts on this blog, it’s true. For one, I am never sure what to say that has any value. On Twitter, a 140 character medium, I have a bit more luck as many small observations can be made in one line. But writing something worthy of a few more characters seems like a daunting task sometimes!

In any case I felt like an update was well overdue. The reason I haven’t been very active online is that I am investing a gargantuan amount of time getting educated! Whoa…

Yes, I am in school and I’ve been taking eight courses at a time which is no small load. It’s been a huge privilege and I’d even say it’s been transformative… but it’s not left time for many other peripheral pursuits. For this reason I haven’t done many other things I wish I could have done for the sake of focusing onΒ my classes.

Why does a musician who is already making music go back to school? The answer to that question is probably worthy of a whole post on its own, so maybe I can tackle that later. In any case, suffice it to say that I’m gaining a lot by doing this or I wouldn’t do it! πŸ˜‰

Currently, I’m in final exams. I have seven in total to complete and just one down so far. Next week is “skills” week where we basically have to perform one on one agility tests involving playing musical motifs, pieces and various other skills tasks. It’s the most terrifying week of the term, when even the most stoic calm-as-a-cucumber players can get frayed to the core. For me, this time around it’s especially exciting because of some things going on family-wise which are also fairly stressful in and of themselves. Good practice for staying present, but I wish the universe hadn’t sent me this particular challenge at this particular time!

Until next time, stay well and carry on. ❀

Percolating

Well, it seems I’ve had my head down and percolating for a while. Not so many posts lately, but if you are ever trying to track me down you’ll often find me on Twitter. For some reason the micro-posting 140 character limitation helps me with the problem of ruminating too much about what to post in a full blog entry. That, and it’s incredibly social. I am an incredibly social person, despite spending an overwhelming amount of time alone in a room mainly populated by equipement (and cats.)

I have indeed been making music in the last while. There’s been a good bit of songwriting actually! You know, that old-fashioned thing occasionally done a clunky piano with a graphite stick and a flat sheet of tree byproduct. Yes, I like to do it that way too, I don’t know why people find that surprising. I suppose they picture an electronic artist with an army of synths and big snakes of patch cords. Yes I have that too! πŸ™‚ But something about writing with simple tools helps me to really make sure the bones of what I’m writing are decently able to withstand whatever production massage I’ll subject them to later…

In any case, that’s my life in a nutshell lately.

Like a Fungus

A wise person once told me that music sounds increasingly appealing as it becomes increasingly familiar.

In other words, music grows on you like a fungus.

Sometimes, your favourite albums do nothing for you the first time. Oh sure, there’s those albums that immediately split the bones of your skull wide in half, spewing your prior ideas about songs and sounds into a heaving pile on the floor. There are also albums full of glossy earworms and sparkle which sometimes lose their luster over repeated scrutiny.

But what interests me right now, is why some albums grow on you so much.

You want examples? Right, of course you do. I am going to confess to not liking the following the first time:

Bjork
Fatboy slim
Daft Punk

Who are of course now some of my favourite artists. Why is this?

A wise person once told me that artists doing something new take more time to find an audience. People don’t know what to do with them…

That is certainly how I felt when I first heard Bjork. Her alien voice and heavy accent was residing in an alternate universe to mine. The vibrating horn, harp and electronic arrangements struck me as wildly strange. Eventually, like most of the world, I was won over by her wild abandon and authenticity. Now she seems perfectly normal.

Maybe this is why some albums are a grower – sometimes some things are just too new, too deep or too grating to be love at first listen. But, like a fungus, they burrow themselves deep into our brains, snaking their little tentacles into our souls and forever embedding themselves in our hearts.

Score: 1 for fungus, 0 for us.

To Debut or Not to Debut

A while back, it was suggested to me that I market my new release as a debut release. This makes sense in a lot of ways. It’s been some time since my first album Adrift and now that I’ve changed my artist name, I could be starting afresh if I wanted to. The other major change is that I’ve started including more songwriting/structure in my work, so I really considered it.

I decided not to present it as my first solo release however… and here is some of my reasoning.

First of all, out of sincerity. To say that Morning Glow was a my first solo effort would be, well, not true. I did put out a prior album, and it was reasonably well received. While Adrift was different from Morning Glow, if you listen to both there is a clear progression from one to the other. They share a similar flavour. If you draw a line between two points, you get, well a line. The line points somewhere, hints at where you’re headed. It might be more impressive to say I started where I am now, but it isn’t true. I’ve come a long way. In this day and age of prepackaged starlets (who are also fab in their own way), sincerity is as good as any other asset.

Secondly, I don’t want to deny the struggle. It’s a waste not to learn from the struggle. I really feel proud of this new release, which is a really weird and unfamiliar sensation. It actually took me me an assload of work, faulty starts, and body fluids in the form of blood/sweat/tears. I don’t want to pretend that this just snuck out of nowhere. I had a vision of the album I wanted to create, but I didn’t have the skills, time, or knowledge for how to conquer that mountain. I bit off way more than I could chew, and then kept chewing. And chewing. After really sweating it out, I eventually made some good inroads. In the end, I had Morning Glow.

So while Morning Glow is a rebirth of sorts, it isn’t a true artist debut. But is the debut of my voice, my songwriting, and a new direction. So at least there’s that.

Silence is Golden

Lately I have been on a new music buying kick. I can’t seem to stop! With the iTunes store mainly DRM-free and all the instant gratification, I can’t help myself. It seems I’m constantly surrounded by brilliant music. It occurs to me that this is a stark contrast to the copious silence I enjoyed in past years…

As I was pondering my sudden urge to consume — I couldn’t help but ask where that urge was hiding before. Cause it really retreated for a while. I really didn’t feel like hanging around a record store, or scouring the interwebs… I didn’t even really turn on my stereo much. Normally, this would be my default state: tunes blasting, always finding something new and tasty. Gorging myself on fresh tunes. It’s almost like I went on an accidental music diet. I wanted silence, silence and more silence.

Maybe it’s because I had mixyhead a lot. This is what my BFF Keith G calls the state of mind that follows a long and arduous mixing session. It’s kind of a weird aural soup, sort of a heightened ear sensitivity or insensitivity with lots of musical phrases jangling around your head. Senses buzzing. Usually I can’t sleep in this state. I don’t think Keith can either. Normally I find the cure is silence… So it stands to reason that I didn’t want to binge.

I’ve also considered another factor. Composing and producing music: maybe I need silence to receive the music in my head? Sometimes the ideas come in the strangest place. It’s rarely convenient. In the shower, in bed, out for a walk in the forest… It’s often when I’m spacing out that a little phrase, or a little nugget, will spark my imagination. When listening to the radio, it seems my head is full of someone else’s nuggets.

If I’m really honest,could it be even more subtle than that? Maybe I don’t want to compare. Maybe my Artist Goblins will come out to play if I hear something that truly blows me away. Maybe I will worry too much about how I fit into the landscape. Is it trendy? Is it cool? Does it sound current and hot?

Truth be told, I’ve usually found these thoughts to have the opposite effect than what I desire. I start to feel like I’m suffocating, boxed in by the pressure to be cool. Trying to be cool isn’t cool. Cool is as cool is. They say you either follow trends, or you make them. I suspect most of the trend-setters I admire didn’t give a rat’s ass about trends. I very much doubt they were sitting around with their calculator, calibrating all their flavours of awesomeness to make something so fresh and hot that people hailed it as “seminal” or “groundbreaking”.

I dunno. Maybe that is naive. Idealistic. Maybe they did have a calculator.

My only salvation from the Goblins seems to be to ignore the trends altogether and go hang out in a land where the only comparison is what I’ve done before. Is this better than before? If yes, then proceed. Any other comparing is mere foolishness. Let someone else do that for you.

This isn’t to say that I think I’m breaking any ground this way. I just need some silence — in my mind.

Also, this isn’t to say that artists aren’t all inspired by each other. I don’t write in a vacuum. I try not to be self-centered. I do pay attention. I ask people what they think. I just try not to be anybody else — no matter how much I would like to be. I have to build on the strengths I have and work with what I’ve got. See where the chips fall. Let it go.

This being said, I don’t think I’ll ever really answer the question of why I went on an accidental music diet. I didn’t even notice until I started getting mystery music cravings again lately, so the real cause may always evade me.

Thankfully, right now, I am all about everybody else’s nuggets. My ears can relax. And it’s really sincerely delicious.