Tuesday, 28 November 2017

House Concert

Dan Bryk – House Concert – Nov 2017

Bryk’s return to “performance” after seven years of child rearing “sabbatical.” Nearly all new songs, warts and all. Utterly unprofessional recording grabbed from FB Live but don’t worry, the camera gets adjusted upwards once the set starts. You’ve probably never heard songs quite like these.

I opened a house concert for my old friend and tourmate Michael Holt. This is the warts and all document, sneetched from Facebook Live. Super rough around the edges and straight from the heart. All new songs except for the opener and closer, this is “what I’ve been up to”, sort of.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

songwriter questions file icon

Songwriting Questions… from a decade ago.

So I found this 2008 Word .doc on an external dump drive while hunting for a scan of an old, never-finished song. The file is dated May 17, 2008. I have no memory of which writer or publication even asked these questions–no hint in the file either–but never mind. I have a feeling this probably never even made it off my desktop.

In hindsight, I certainly take back my natterings about Lou Reed, though. The callousness of youth and all that. (R.I.P. Lou, may you find the rest you were denied here.) And I’ve certainly made my peace with I-IV-II-V, so long as there’s a solid supporting argument for it.

SONGWRITER QUESTIONS FOR DAN BRYK

What comes first; lyrics or melodies?

It depends. Melodies, if I’m sitting at the piano “trying to write a song.”  Words generally come any time a pen and notepad aren’t handy: falling asleep… driving in the car… in a meeting at work… post-coitus or worse, during. Awkward!

Are there any times in particular more fertile to the process? A couple of artists have told me that long solo drives tend to be particularly fertile….

I used to write a lot while driving, but I burned out the compact flash card in my old-school Olympus portacorder and I’ve been too lazy to hunt down a 16MB CF card. I’m really not good at writing while driving. I guess I could just buy a new note recorder (which might even have Mac OS X-friendly USB), but it was one of the first things I bought after moving to the Triangle (yaay Capital Pawn) and besides it’s the principle of the thing. We accept enough planned obsolescence as it is.

Influences – crib from them, or try to ignore them?

Wherever possible. Pop songwriting is a magpie’s art. I remember Nick Lowe saying something to the effect of “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Or maybe it was “I steal, but I steal from the best.”  Hopefully the overall effect is more like Rauschenberg than say, Puff Daddy looping 8 bars of “Every Breath You Take” over and over and calling it your own.

First song you ever wrote – title? Theme?

“Please Please Please Lord.”  I believe it had something to do with asking God for a girlfriend. This was even before I got sent to the principal’s office for playing the White Album on the art room cassette player. It’s hard to believe that even in 1982 Pentacostals still had a problem with that “bigger than Jesus” bit. It was someone’s birthday.

Influential songwriters (3-5) – what about them in particular?

Randy Newman – American Genius. No one skates between pop song and art with such finesse.

Aimee Mann – huge influence on my album “Lovers Leap”. She hasn’t done shit for me lately, but “I’m With Stupid” is still my Nevermind.

Leslie “Sam” Phillips – one of the smartest, deepest thinkers ever to wield a sharp pop hook. I’ve been a fan for 20 years, even when she was still considered a “Contemporary Christian” artist, and her last three albums are her best. She is so underrated, especially in indie music circles, it’s just stupid.

R.D. Burman – the late Bollywood composer. I have been devouring everything I can find of his since I bought a box set on a trip to India three years ago. An incredibly versatile composer, syncretic in the extreme, he mixes up Indian classical music and ragas and bollywood pop with all kinds of western sounds in brilliantly idiosyncratic arrangements—I hear everything from Bacharach to John Barry to ABBA in his music, but it’s still unmistakably his, and he wrote for all the great playback singers. Young Indian composers refer to him as L.O.R.D. for a reason.

Elliptical narratives, opaque imagery, or specificity?

Whatever works.  I’m not very good with descriptive detail, but I’ve been working on that. Some people find my lyrics hyper-specific, but those people probably hate Douglas Coupland too. I’ve tried to cut back on name-dropping consumer products when it’s clear they’re not going to underwrite my work. No-one told me about that Taco Bell “Feed the Band” contest, and that hurt.

Do you write for an album, or is each song an island?

I try and write good songs and hopefully I write enough of them to fill an album every year or two. I consider myself lazy if I can’t write 10 good songs a year, but then again inspiration’s for the lazy. Pretty soon I’m going to have to give up using immigration as an excuse for not finishing up my records. I’m fortunate in that Pop Psychology sort of has a grand theme, but it’s failure. People will only put up with one or two albums about failure in a row. Ask Mark Eitzel.

When do you know if you’re in a rut?

Dust on the piano.

Is it easier to take a personal event and tweak it to make more universal, or to take something completely fabricated and personalize it?

Dude, that’s a ten-point essay question! Unfortunately I, uh, tend to write from actual life experiences. I always sucked at creative writing in school, I was more into The New Journalism. Also I find unhappy or tense situations to provide more compelling narrative than when things are going smoothly. And I never tweak to make shit more universal. Put them all together = I still have a day job.

Artists from other writing mediums impress/affect? Poets, novelists, Raymond Carver?

Love me some Copywriters: Mary Wells, Bill Bernbach, Edward Graham, Ron Rosenfeld, Phyllis Robinson, Shirley Polykoff, David Ogilvy, (mmmm) George Lois. They made art out of the art of suggestion. Probably explains a lot.

What’s the longest you’ve ever tinkered with a song?

17 years. It’s called “Lowering The Standards” and it’s been almost done for maybe 5 years now. I just need to get the lyrics right in the bridge… it’ll be worth it, I swear.

What’s one thing that will turn you off instantly to a song on the radio (or the computer-ish equivalent)?

A I-IV-II-V chorus.  It’s like the “hit” algorithm. Every lame-ass pop punk song, every formulaic song the Matrix shits out… my ex-girlfriend referred to that chord progression as the “money chords.”

Also, auto-tuned lead vocals. Well, maybe I’ll make an exception for movie soundtracks when the actor is supposed to be singing. I’d rather hear Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman sing “Come What May” with a little help from Melodyne than some ringers with perfect pitch.

Dylan or Lennon?

Costello. It’s like the best of both worlds, without all that irritating myth and hagiography.

Lennon or McCartney?

There’s no point in choosing, no choice really. Their genius… it’s so ubiquitous you just have to accept it and try to work around it. It’s like picking between air and water.  It’s like… Falkner or Brion?

Lou Reed or Tom Waits?

I am so fucking sick of Lou Reed coasting on his laurels.  New York was his last good album (not counting ‘Drella, but that was half Cale anyhow) and I was in Grade 11 when that came out. GRADE 11.  Tom Waits still writes great songs, cuts great albums, plays great shows. Plus, Tom never shilled for Honda.

Stipe or Malkmus?

Pollard.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Whatever Happened to Dan Bryk?

2014, year of the Twerk. Oh, the Horse. The damn “new record(s)” is/are taking forever, but yet I keep stealing time for them from my busy busy actually-income-streaming life. You’ll like them, I swear. One of the catchier numbers was unveiled in Radio Free Song Club’s episode #30, of which I am understandably honoured to interlope.

Number 30 | Radio Free Song Club

TO PLAY THE SHOW: Click the arrow. Click in the text box to move forward or back in the show. Adjust the volume with the bars on the left.

I moved to Washington DC (“our nation’s capital!”) at the end of last year. I miss Dar but it’s also nice having my studio back again. I took a Coursera Songwriting MOOC with professor Pat Pattison of Berklee. While finding time for hours of lectures, writing and demoing whilst full-timing a three-year-old was tricky, I learned a ton of valuable stuff, even at my advanced age. The peer assessment feedback was priceless. Assuming you’re curious, here’s my final assignment:

 

Now that I am practically soaking with UAD mix horsepower, I  decided to dust off and finish up a couple more unreleased, abandoned, practically decontextualized recordings for the Lovers Leap bonus record — one you’ve heard if you basically EVER saw me play a show from 2000 on. The other one you’ve never heard of, I promise, but if you spent time in Parkdale in the early oughts you shall chuckle heartily. And the other other one was the flip of the ultimately non-existent Nova Bryk split 7″. (Those guys are so incredibly post-rock now, they were like “yes, take the rock from us Bryk, it’s yours now.”)

Also, I hereby promise never to Twerk.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Some old sh*t.

Came across this dead link while searching for Lovers Leap Deluxxxe reissue media. That beats Tiny Desk Concerts by a decade! Sadly, the actual files of the performances are probably long since deleted. 

Spin | Features | Spin Live

Spin Magazine: The Online Authority for Music and News

 

I keep coming across stuff that makes me wish I was still half as clever as I was in my 20’s. This is from an interview with Tokyo’s Kansai Scene:

Q: If some stupid rock critic asked you to list your influences, what would you say?

A: Late nights, loud music, and air conditioning. Rock critics always think my influences are Randy Newman and Jonathan Richman, when it fact it’s more like Walter Benjamin and Hoffman-LaRoche.

Q: What’s next for Dan Bryk?

A: Sleep, followed by strong mochaccino, some light exercise, a morning spent at the piano, and perhaps a late afternoon at the bookstore browsing Billboard and The Baffler. I will drive home, prepare a delicious meatless dinner entree, and then feel guilty about procrastinating all day.

But seriously kids, don’t squander your precious, precious youth! When you have a job and kids of your own, you will read statements like that one and feel incredibly envious of your younger self to the point of hatred. And then you will just feel stupid.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Schmello World!

Pole sana. Why the new WP install?  Why, I must be late for my annual blog post! I was seriously tiring of that rapidweaver abomination standing as my “web presence.”  I’m this far from becoming a Facebook dropout, in which case it was manifest destiny to migrate Buddhabubba (formerly “my personal blog”) into sort of a “new website.”  So here we be. I am still in Dar Es Salaam, still nursing the songs and arrangements that will become my “new record(s).” Culture shock, the molasses jar of time called African logistics, and, uh, parental responsibility sucked up an awful lot of time this year. A year of rebooting. Despite my rMBP and now Logic X allowing for yet another unwanted matrix of possibilities, work on the “new record(s)” continues slowly but dutifully. It’s finishing the damn lyrics, as usual, that’s holding everything up. I think these are the wordiest songs I’ve ever tried to sing. One possible release configuration has the working title Lies of Girls and Women: it has one song entitled Hannah Horvath, one called White Nanny, and the possible “hit” has a spelled out chorus: E-R-I-N. As usual, any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, and even they might complain that songs seem to be the only relationships in my life where I indulge in obstructive perfectionism. Amen, sister.

P.S.: Sorry about all those scare quotes.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Pitchfork

Pop Psychology got a very nice review from Pitchfork yesterday, theoretically the biggest media “break” this record might receive.

I know I’m probably breaking some sort of taboo by writing this, but 24 hours later… here’s the math:

• 1,734 web page loads from bryk.com
• 4954 song plays on my Reverbnation widgets (including the main player on the splash page of my site)
• 5 Reverbnation Site Visits, no added fans
• 6 Tweets linking to the review (not including my own)
• 1 Email from a high school friend I haven’t heard from in 20 years.

(I have no idea what’s going on with Myspace, as of this morning it says my “profile is undergoing routine maintenance” as is my ability to log in. They apologize for the inconvenience, which is kind of annoying considering the timing, but not a huge issue as they don’t really provide much in the way of stats.)

• I’ve had 346 streaming player/store visits
• I’ve had 101 track “plays”
• I’ve given away 22 free downloads: 15 Pop Psychology, 1 Lovers Leap, 1 Discount Store and 5 miscellaneous track downloads
• I’ve sold exactly 4 PP downloads (plus a Lovers Leap download)

Hmm.

1. Pitchfork drove a fair bit of Traffic to my site(s).

2. Could my music really be that unappealing to all those readers and listeners?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Zazzle, Scion and… Karen Finley?

And next up is Zazzle, who use a similar technology to Cafépress for multi-coloured print jobs, but at least don’t charge CP’s monthly or annual fees for the privilege of multiple style items in one shop, or widgety flash panels like this:

Neat, eh? And <*cough*> all for sale as of now!

But the best part of Zazzle is where you can pick “models” to indicate how the artwork fits the cut of the shirt, and how the shirt might fit different people, which resulted in this bit of digital magic…

mygrannysleptwithdanbryk

…which then reminded me of that Karen Finley song “Tales of Taboo” and its’ immortal lyric: “She’s a real nice granny/and I never touch her snatch/’cause she’s my granny!”

But I wasn’t sure I remembered the exact lyrics to that (and my “The Truth is Hard To Swallow” vinyl is sitting in my parents basement back in Mississauga) so I fired up google with the search phrase karen finley “she’s my granny” lyrics. And this is what I came across:

scion_karenfinley


WTF? I know she’s just a piece of random collateral in their campaign to sell Scions, but this is some of the text of the MOG-ged up track:

She dreams.  She dreams of strangling baby birds.  Bluebird, wrens and robins.  And with her thumbs she pushes back on their small feathered necks, pushes back against their beaks till they snap like breaking twigs.

She dreams.  She dreams of being locked in a cage and singing loudly and off-key with her loved ones standing behind her, whispering very loudly, “She has an ugly voice, doesn’t she?  She has an ugly voice.”  Oh, leave it to the loved ones always to interfere with our dreams.

Like when my father finally told me he loved me after forty years, then went into the bathroom, locked the door, put up pictures of children from the Sears catalogue, arranged mirrors, black stockings and garters to look at as he masturbated, as he hanged himself from the shower stall.  It’s that ultimate erection.  It’s that ultimate orgasm.  Whatever turns you on, girl.  Whatever, whatever turns you on.


I love this monologue, but it really doesn’t strike me as an ideal or even compatible marketing message to sell Scions with. (Erin used to joke that I should offer Fingers to the Toronto Conservatory of Music for an ad campaign.)  I can’t help but wonder what Ms. Finley would think about this juxtaposition.

The new corporate-sponsored music model once again makes for strange bedfellows.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Bandcamp, IODA, Reverbnation, Microsoft

In the interests of cutting out middlemen and bringing it all back home, the entire Dan Bryk catalogue is now available directly from my Bandcamp mini-site downloads.bryk.com (everything, that is, but the still-eponymous Dan Bryk, Asshole, which is now embarrassing enough that I am considering deleting it once and for all, and I am even considering releasing “Mississauga Rattler”, otherwise known as “the demos that got me dropped from Scratchie.”)

The part of all this that remains unbelievable for me is that I am receiving about 95% of the proceeds of the sales after PayPal takes its’ micropayments ounce of flesh. That is a pretty major game-changer for me, and was the primary reason I decided to sell Pop Psychology directly, give away the 128k version, and allow everyone to listen to it in full.

I think it’s pretty remarkable that a platform like Bandcamp can exist fully-functionally on the back of venture capital. I’m sure I’m not the only indie musician waiting for the other shoe to drop in terms of BC instituting monthly fees or taking a percentage off each download, but in the meantime they have shown a considerable amount of goodwill hosting, streaming and delivering a LOT of music bandwidth — for free. And their FAQ is fucking hilarious, as if they hired Chuck Klosterman as ghostwriter. So if there’s anything of mine you’ve ever wanted to check out, these might be the salad days of maximizing the financial reward from my work.

In other, not-as-fun news, IODA (who distributes/consolidates downloads to iTunes Music Store, Amazon MP3, eMusic, etc. for many indie labels small and large) recently raised their cheque-issuing threshold to $250 “to bring them in line with industry standards” (what industry? what standards?) which means that little labels like Urban Myth that used to have to sell 10 albums before getting paid now have to sell about 50 albums of music before they see a penny. I guess I was under the impression that the whole technological long tail thing had some potential to let little indies establish themselves with a track download here, a track download there. I guess I was wrong, and it’s new technology, same old music biz rules.

So here’s an uplifting footnote: my bull city friends over at Reverbnation have hooked up with Microsoft for “Sponsored Songs” — 1000 Reverbnation artists who now have an exclusive track available for free download, with Microsoft paying the artist 50¢ per download.  You can argue that this is yet another shot across Apple’s bow in the culture wars — with indie artists as the collateral — but in the end anything that gets the artists paid is alright with me. Admittedly my records have been pretty much made on Macs, but it’s frustrating to maintain a relationship with such an opaque lover.

Naturally, I was whimsical and/or ungrateful enough to pick perhaps the least appropriate song possible for such a corporate mash-up. I’m apparently up to $39.50 of downloads in less than a week, so please, download and tell your friends.

Db

Friday, 24 April 2009

Well, That Was Quick.

Now that I’ve actually MOVED to New York City, I finally have a new (to you, old to me) song on the Durham, North Carolina label Pox World Empire Compulation 3 CD, along with some good friends like Bull City, The Old Ceremony, My Dad Is Dead(!) and a bunch of deadbeats who probably never returned my phone calls and emails. KIDDING!  

CompulationStill, it’s always special nice to be considered a vital part of a scene you’ve abandoned, and I wish I could be there to watch aformentioned rock machine Bull City play the Compulation CD release show tomorrow night at Local 506.  BC’s James “Jim” Brantley plays smoking dual leads (panned stereo for extra width!) on my song. Which is called Hang Around and is two minutes and fifty-nine seconds of whatever it is that I do best. (In all honesty, it’s one part “Brand New Hairdo” and two parts “Love You More.”)  In any case, you have my full permission to go and buy it and see what all the hot fuss is about down there in North Carolina! 

Did I mention I moved to NYC?  I have, and I even booked my first proper Living Room gig yesterday with my friends Noam Weinstein (who’s from Boston, although he lives here now) and Mike Evin (who’s from Montreal). The gig is on Friday August 21st from 8-9:45. Not sure who plays first, or who will have a band ready in time for the gig (cough!). Also, we need a catchy name for the show. Any ideas?

Thursday, 24 April 2008