The other day my neighbor and I got into a discussion, and I found out that she was basically one of the biggest Beatles fans ever. She told me that she had all of their records, trading cards, ticket stubs from their last show at Candlestick Park, clothing, stickers, posters…. everything. And then she told me about her prized possession – a gold medallion with John, Paul, George, and Ringo, mop tops and beatnik suits. She told me what made this necklace rare was not the limited edition photo on the front, but that it also had all of their signatures carved into the back – I couldn’t believe it! In this lonely digital age, I had found a super fan friend. I remember collecting baseball cards when I was a kid – I learned all about my favorite players that way. Hang out sessions with my friends centered around talking baseball and trading cards. Trading cards brought me closer to the game, and it gave me a sense of community – I miss my cardboard cutout friends. I wonder if the digital music consumers of today know what they’re missing, not being able to touch and feel, to fully experience a piece of the music – The fan in me sees light in the possibilities of the Blockchain and NFTs.
If there is anything I’ve learned over the last 20 years of sound-smithing, it is that we are just trying to get to the core of the art – that art which is determined to get closer to the heart. Whether or not we are using yesterday’s instruments, or tomorrow’s, the goal is the same. This realization has taken me longer to arrive at than any other learned skill, regardless of modern technological advancements. Long-winded and overtly analytical experiments, or what we studio rats simply call ‘tweaking’, helped me to see and HEAR, and return to the real meaning of my work – the heart. The irony. This is the kind of perspective that only time grants.
Music has the ability to get humans to circle around a fire – its sounds stoke the aural, leading to the visual, and still more, the emotional. The relationship between humans and sound is wonderfully complex – especially when we find ways to emulate, manipulate and enhance the soundtrack of our lives with musical instruments. Music is the experience of humans being.
Getting back to work with The SnowGhost Six in the studio was long overdue. After spending so much time in the control room , it was really nice to get back to good songwriting and and live-off-the-floor studio playing with good friends. Band camp!
Everything and nothing changed with the birth of my son. What hasn’t changed: the concept of the endless sonic adventure, which seems to occupy my mind most days, while my son and I find ways to relate to each other. The idea that we create sonic vibrations, followed by an often more complex and dynamic reaction, is magical. Blowing bubbles in the bathtub and barking nonsensical words and tones into plastic cups – my son and I play every day. The funny thing is, I never stop being a kid in a sonic candy store. Every seemingly insignificant sound catches my attention, often to the chagrin of the company I keep. Feel free to diagnose the struggle for my focused attention – certainly don’t mistake it for being uninterested or unaware. As sound flies like a baby bird from its proverbial nest into a world of complex harmonic, and spatial, ebb and flow – the baby bird’s flight plan requires real-time, calculated actions and reactions, requiring further actions and reactions, etc… the walkabout of a single sound is an endless story, should you choose to listen.
There has been so much music over the course of human history – I am positive that every rhythm and every melody has been explored in one way or another. So what makes music original? Think about how many times we have heard the plagal cadence, or blues and rock chord progressions, and said to ourselves, “wow, this is really original”. The answer is, all of the time! The truth is that it has nothing to do with the notes, and everything to do with the way those notes are being played and captured. Played and captured? What plays, and what captures? People, and sometimes machines play, instruments capture – and they all have a remarkably unique way of doing that. They all sound different, and all have different ways of conducting themselves. Whether it be a human voice, or a violin, or a totally new form, like sampling and granular synthesis, what is so cool about this concept, that all of these instruments require a different mindset and approach. This is what promotes and manifests new musical ideas. That is why I am always looking for new ways to play and capture the melodies I hear in my head.
As I work in the studio, and watch the leaves change colors here in Montana, I realize that there are obvious parallels in music production and changing surroundings. I know that the art we produce is directly influenced by our surroundings – but I’ve never actually thought about the seasons affecting mixes. Montana is gearing up for that annual white winter blanket, and I wonder if my approach changes at all. Getting ready for those SnowGhosts!