RPM 2017 recap

Another RPM is in the books and I thought I’d share some feelings about it.

This year I feel like I got in on a technicality. The album that I started at the beginning of the month isn’t done, and 2 of the songs on the CD I mailed to New Hampshire were from the kids’ scouts meetings last month in which I led the group in a discussion and lab about electronic music. So, it counts in that they were recorded in the month of February, but not, because they aren’t exactly mine. The 3 songs I recorded amounted to roughly 25 minutes of material, so, I was close regardless.

On the other hand, I participated in blind chaos again this year, so there’s one album, and I did produce > 35 minutes of music, so I’m still calling it a win.

Moreover, and more importantly, I’m feeling good about the project. It’s not done, and that’s okay. e and I have committed to trying to take time each night to work on art, and, honestly, that’s more important than a completed album.

In years past, I would scramble to get my RPM album done, then talk about and think about doing more stuff during the year otherwise, but it would usually never happen. This time, I feel like it’s a thing I can actually continue and, partially, that’s because we’re doing it together, even if we’re in separate rooms at the time. And I’m really enjoying seeing the finished paintings that go along with the music I’ve created and how they work together despite being created separately.

The recordings I’ve made are very rough, they are probably too long and need some work. But I’m getting used to a new laptop that doesn’t have all my stuff on it, a new version of the software, and being exceedingly out of practice since it’s been several years since I last touched an instrument. At some point, I will need to revisit the songs I’ve recorded and clean them up, but for now, I just need to get back into the habit of making music and getting comfortable again with the tools.

All in all, I’m happy with the result more because it marks the beginning  of a new project rather than the end.

Last minute change of RPM plans

In true RPM fashion, I’ve changed my mind re: plans for RPM album. It’s not going to be all about Trump.

While the thought process going into it is more personal/intimate, what I can say is why I’ve decided to switch gears.

In talking with e about the project — because she’s started painting and I wanted to use her art for the album — we started talking about art that challenges the artist and why many male artists (of various forms), in particular, use pain and suffering and misery as inspirations for their art. In music, you can hear it in Trent Reznor (especially early NIN but pretty much everything he’s ever done, ever), Kurt Cobain, I mean the list goes on. Pretty much the entirety of “alternative” music is some dude bitching about how everything is horrible. Isn’t the world bad enough that we don’t need to add more misery and suffering into it through art?

I’m no different. For a long time, I believed that a) all art was created through suffering and b) the only things I had to say were things that came from my own personal angst. I used to channel and hone the worst possible feelings in order to produce music. I would actually make myself unhappy in order to channel that negative energy into art.

Since then, I’ve learned that art (even, gasp, good art) can be made from emotions that are not harmful/painful. For me this is much more of a challenge having believed the other thing for so long.

So, how does this relate back to RPM? Well, the original concept was basically more of the same. It’s easy to get angry about Trump and make art from a place of anger and resistance. But that’s not challenging anything and that’s not changing anything. That’s Trent Reznor’s entire career. Maybe the topic for him has gone to “she dumped me and I’m unhappy” to “the world is shit and I’m really angry about it”, but the basic point is the same “life is shit, I suck, I’m going to go drown my sorrows in some good old fashioned substance abuse”.

We also talked about doing a collaborative project where we’re basically taking the same source/topic/emotion and creating art based out of it. In talking, this felt like a much more exciting project than bitching (musically) about Trump, so I’m much more interested and excited about this idea.

Move over RPM

A few days ago, my friend Colin (aka Slighter) sent me this link:


It’s a challenge. Like the RPM challenge referenced in the title, Weekly Beats challenges musicians to make music. But unlike RPM, it’s challenging you to do it all year round.

I love RPM. I’m still incredibly proud of my 2011 entry, Wasp, and the remix album I released the following fall WASPREMIX — which was the first time I released something on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. I’m proud of all the albums I’ve made in various Februarys over the last several years, but that’s just the thing. I release them in March, then I go into hiding for the rest of the year and don’t make any music (or hardly any, at any rate). RPM is good for kicking you in the ass for 28 days, but then you’re suffering burnout through March and end up carrying that momentum of not creating anything through the rest of the year until December hits and you say “oh shit! RPM is in two months!”

I need a kick in the ass all year round. Hence Weekly Beats.

So here is a resolution for 2014. By the end of this year, I will have made at least 50 new songs (52 if I stick to the challenge). That’s 40 more songs than what I would have made if I did RPM. So, no, I probably won’t be doing RPM this year (unless the songs I make in February happen to add up to 30 minutes in length), but, hopefully, I will have a lot more to show for it.

Since my Kickstarter bust for The Signal in 2012, I fell into a rut. It took a lot out of me emotionally, and I wasn’t entirely happy with the result (the experiment was interesting but, ultimately, I think I fell prey to my own ambition). I stopped making music; I started playing FIFA; RPM 2013 came and I just wasn’t up to doing my own album (I did work on a collaboration called Noise Floor as well as the 2013 Blind Chaos entry). Once you lose the momentum, it’s hard to get it back and you stop finishing things. Part of my blamed the fact that my PC finally died and I needed to get Mac versions of all my music stuff I had accumulated on that, but that was just an excuse and I never fully believed it. My hope is that an arbitrary requirement of one song a week will kick me into action and get me in a year-round habit of making music rather instead of a once-a-year habit.

You can check out my tracks here on Weekly Beats. When it’s all over, I’ll probably collect them (the good ones, anyway) into an album that I release on BandCamp.

That RPM thing…

I wasn’t planning on doing it, but, in checking the RPM forums, there were some folks interested in doing Blind Chaos again this year, so I decided I’d do that and be open to possible collaboration projects if anyone was interested (which it looks like I’ll be doing). This gives me a bit of a break while still being involved, and allows me to be more of a producer rather than a performer and stress out less about time and availability to do things that actually earn money.

Totally lost? Here’s everything I’ve ever written about RPM, ever.

teh s3quence – 011 – #BassLove4Japan

photo from geardiary.com via boston.com

I’ve been meaning to make a s3quence mix that had stuff from #RPM2011, but I was waiting until I had a chance to listen to more of the stuff that came out of it.  Then the earthquake/tsunami in Japan happened.  Looking at these pictures is mind-blowing, as is the constant threat of nuclear radiation for those in the surrounding area.  Often, when faced with something of such astounding scale, you just freeze up — you have no idea what you can do.  BassLove4Japan was created to organize DJs and musicians to help provide relief for those affected in Japan through a nonprofit organization Music For Relief.  BassLove4Japan encourages DJs and musicians to use their following to text donations to Japan (text ‘MFR’ to 85944 to make a $10 donation) and contribute by submitting tracks or proceeds from shows or whatever they can do to help spread the word.  Times are tight, but I wanted to do something, so I’ve donated a couple hours of my time to create this mix, at the end of which is a bit of a public service announcement with information about how to help.  Even if you can’t make the donation yourself, please spread this mix as far and wide as possible, to as many people as will listen, and tell them to donate to help aid those whose homes and livelihoods have been completely devastated.

Click here to send a Tweet asking your followers to donate.

[audio: s3quence-011-basslove4japan.mp3]

– intro: jazzsequence – Hedestad / DJ Shadow – Transmission III / Sinuata – Die for a Week to Live for a Century –
Fink – Walking in the Sun
DJ Krush – What’s Behind Darkness
DJ Spooky vs. The Dub Pistols – Peace in Zaire Mix
Artful Mark – Coffee Break (jazzsequence’s glitched out remix)
Cat Throat – Second Night
Buck 65 – The Suffering Machine
cEven kEy – Bird
57 Splits – Hey Birdsong
– interlude: James Brown – Hot Pants –
ormo – Diaper
The Crown Fires – Burtations
The Faint – Your Retro Career Melted
Lieutenant Dance – Painting Dicks on the Paintings at the Louvre
– interlude: Lionel Richie – Lady –
jazzsequence – Mildly irritated
Underworld – Dirty Epic
Carrier Signal – Brimstone Villian
Clever Things – Perfect Coded Angel
Slighter – These Scars Don’t Bruise
HORRORFALL – Necroplasm Fix (Slighter’s Extended Melee Mix)
Kidney Thieves – Placebo
Recoil – Jezebel
Tricky – Excess (Slighter’s Excessorized Mix)
Jeff Beal – Lucky to Have Jonesy (Sophie’s Theme)

download s3quence 011: #basslove4japan
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