Video for an unfinished song, made for Theme Music‘s Lost (unreleased song) and Found (the footage) themes.
Original video source
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.
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.
Let’s see… what else is new? The Deluxe! Lovers Leap reissue hit a bit of a snag after a drive full of original artwork and media assets went into storage instead of coming to Africa with me… but the audio part is all ready and should have some real treats for y’all: Outtakes, alternates, demos, contemporaneous originals, radio sessions and a couple of live versions. And finally, that “Rick WakeMed” cover of Feelings I was too chicken sh*t to release. The original concept was “Lovers Leap: Lucky 13th Anniversary Edition” but it looks like I’m going to slip by that date.
Here’s a question: Does anyone still care about iTunes LPs? I was going to make one as proof of concept that I have the up-to-date .css and .js skills to actually make one, but it looks like Apple and The Orchard might make me jump through hoops to make that happen. I love reading liner notes, especially when they contextualize reissues of things I don’t know enough (or anything) about, and there are some pretty good Lovers Leap stories to share. Every song has at least a paragraph or two, and there are a essays and assays. Would anyone be offended if I just made a 99¢ Kindle Single of the liner notes for anyone who cares enough? I can include a PDF in the Bandcamp version.
Of course, if we kickstarted some vinyl, I would have plenty of room for liner notes…
Still writing, slowly but surely. I have a firm lineup of songs for the next album, definitely writing “inside of the box” with a “strategy” and a “game plan” this time, just struggling with finishing this specific batch of songs to the best of my limited ability. I even have a working title, but I’m sure you’d prefer fewer promises (and perhaps even some surprises) this time.
It’s tonally and rhythmically all over the map, but there’s kind of an overall theme (I would say “concept” but look how well that did for PP) tying it all together. Best songs I’ve ever written blah blah blah. You’ll like the song titles at the very least: my favourite so far is “Nestle Waters of America” which is sort of “People Get Ready” crossed with “Sail Away” crossed with this.
Hang in there, cause if I ever do get this album finished it will make the flowers bloom, the heavens part, and (most importantly) make Pop Psych sound like the ridiculous pity party it is.
Thanks for all your encouragement.
A quick update:
I’m playing “An Evening of Song” at Kenny’s Castaways on Nov 12th, with George Usher (an NYC legend with a long history including Beat Rodeo and “Little Apocalypse”-era Schramms) and Kevin Montgomery, who has assigned himself the herculean task of playing 50 shows in 50 states… in 50 days. I’m on last at 10pm so get there early: details
Work progresses slowly on a new mini-album, sort of a companion record to PP. It will feature a couple of my best unreleased songs, and my intention is to have it out in 2009. If that means Dec. 31st, so be it, I’m putting my foot down on this one. I’ve also been setting up an as-yet-unnamed new analog/digital recording studio out in NJ, which will be a really cool place to get some of my own work done too. The owner is a serious synth dude and has a real treasure trove of classics including a gorgeous-sounding ARP Solina that I hope will make an appearance on the new record.
I’m not usually into licensing my songs for advertising, but I made an exception for Flip and Tumble. Their reusable shopping bags are not only cool-looking, but they fold down so well they really are easy to keep in a jacket pocket when you’re heading to the, um, discount store…
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.
So I started making calls to a few labels and publicists this week, wanting to get feedback on the new record.
I guess I’m beginning to realize that after all this time I may have lost the ability to externalize the constant rejection that comes with selling one’s own wares in (what’s left of) the music industry. I used to be able to shut out all the NOs while fixating on the handful of YESes. Now it just seems as everyone’s telling me what I already suspected was the case: we’re barely keeping our heads above water… kid, you’re on your own.
I went to a Billboard/Adweek “Music and Advertising: Bands and Brands” conference last week, and I left more than a little dispirited, as if I’d finally been cornered by the fact that NO ONE seems to be making a living from selling sound recordings. Now the consensus was that music artists were going to have to latch ourselves onto brands to make an income from music. Seriously, if I heard “TV is the new radio” one more time, I was going to puke blood.
I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with syncing my music to advertising (I’ve written music for commercials and even sang a Labatt’s beer jingle), it’s just that it’s YET another small group of gatekeepers filtering out entire classes of music based on aesthetic choices that might have nothing to do with music itself. When I make a record, I’m making a record. I grew up listening to albums, and that’s how my mind works. Arts for art’s sake, money for god’s sake. Not all the music I make is meant to accompany a marketing message.
I guess I should also internally debate the whole “Should artists give away their music for free?” hand-wringing-devaluation-of-music argument here, but I’ll spare you the drama. I’m just kind of a funny mood today, I’m so tired of having to justify my place in this world of music, and I honestly just want to get this record OUT THERE for the hundred or so of you who still care.
Therefore, Pop Psychology is free for a limited time (payments also gladly accepted, thanks to Bandcamp)
I suspect if you’re already here, you just might find it to be my strongest attempt at making “pop” music, though lyrically it’s a little bitter in places.
It sounds even better up here on the West Side, amidst the clamor of construction, the whirr-click of Yellow Cab receipt printers, and the whizzing-by of bratty kids with iPod shuffles clipped to their scooters (hell, even Elliott barks at them, but he barks at little old ladies in wheelchairs too, and BOY is that awkward.)
Thanks for all your love and support. I’m here all year, tell your friends.
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!
Still, 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?