Monday, January 27, 2014

Music update.

I have an acoustic album that is almost done. This time I've stripped it down drastically to a one man and his guitar type of thing. The last album taught me how to produce fully fleshed out songs on my own,with all the instrumentation and layers needed. As much fun as self producing the album was, I realised that some of the songs were not easy to pull off even with a three or four piece band. There were too many guitar parts and layers.

Apart from the acoustic album, I've also got an album's worth of songs that I want to do with a band. This time I'm restricting the guitar parts to what I can actually play live with a three piece. There is actually a lot I can already do in that context. It's just that when you record at home at your own leisure, you tend to hear parts and layers that need to be added to give the song something extra. I will continue doing that, but I'm going to keep the main integral parts and hooks as something that can easily be played live with one guitar. 

I have experimented with using a Loop Station pedal a little bit. It might well work at home but I am usually pretty sloppy and the opposite of technical when playing live. At home you have any number of takes. I can shred and play a little more complicated stuff these days but getting it clean and perfect might still take a while. So there will be solos but not too many self-indulgent ones. Mostly it is still about the songs and what I'm trying to say in the three to four minutes of running time. 

Will keep you posted. The release date will be mid year. I still have vocals to record. That is my Achilles' heel and my least favorite part of recording. I need to take some time off and work on it. Burning the midnight oil is something I can't do much of these days. I'm getting on in years...


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Honesty?

"Being honest will not get you many friends but it'll always get you the right ones." said John Lennon.

Some people may not equate saying how you feel with honesty. These people are usually surrounded by yes men and "friends" who will whisper sweet nothings and then talk shit about them all day behind their back. 

For me personally there is nothing I will say behind you that I won't say right in front of you...if I can even be bothered to say anything at all in the first place. Usually these days I don't say a lot of things out loud. It's not worth the hassle, especially with people you can actually avoid. Some things are better left unsaid. You are not going to change the world with your words, unless you're Martin Luther King or Gandhi. Even those guys weren't saints despite history saying otherwise, just because they were martyred for their troubles.

These days I like to spend all my time at home after getting home from work. I've always been a little antisocial but I'm definitely even more so now than ever. Don't get me wrong, I can talk your ear off if we're friends and I feel like it but most of the time I'd rather stay home and play my guitar or just hang out with my boy.

Why? What's wrong with me?

Well, depending on who you talk to there is either a lot wrong with me or nothing at all. I don't care either way. I've got bills to pay and a kid to entertain.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Focusing on the positives

I told myself earlier this month that I would put up a new blog post each week just to chronicle my thoughts leading up to my 40th birthday later in the year. I have already failed at that. It's the third week now and this is only my second post. Nevermind, I'll make it up.

The past few weeks have been good so far. My son started his last year of kindergarten at a new place. We moved him for many reasons but wanting a better student to teacher ratio was the main reason. It's ironic that his last year of preschool precedes his introduction to Chinese school where the number of students per class is enormous. We will deal with it one step at a time. I have faith that he will adapt wherever he goes. He has more confidence and personality than I ever did as a kid, so he will be fine.  

Personality wise my boy couldn't be more different than me. I was always shy and introverted as a kid whereas Siddharth always makes himself known wherever he goes. He is not a wallflower. Most of the time it works in his favor. At times however, he gets in trouble for it when he can't rein himself in from being too boisterous. 

One thing I'm grateful for is that Sidd finds joy wherever he goes. I can't take credit for that because that trait didn't come from me. I have always been predisposed to being miserable. His quick temper and huge appetite for good food however, is all me. On a positive note he's a natural footballer and a strong swimmer which is something that also came naturally to me as a kid. It's comforting to know certain good things can be passed down. 

Inherited traits aside, I've realised that kids get easily conditioned by their environment. We try to be as positive as we can about good behaviour while slowly trying to put a stop to the not so desirable ones. Gone are the days when you can just focus on what a child is bad at, which is what parents used to do when I was young. My lingering low self esteem issues as a kid can be tied to my parents never acknowledging the good and basically focusing only on what I was weak at and hated. That is the key to mediocrity. You will never be great at stuff you hate but there is a chance you will be great at the stuff you're good at and love.

Anyway, the approach I'm taking with my kid is that whatever he's good at, he can easily be great at, if he works at it. And if he can put in the effort to be great at what he's good at, surely he can do the same and be better at what he's weak at. That is all it is. Find a way to feel good about what you're doing and just do it. Save all the psychobabble for the quacks. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2014

Happy New Year! I'm partial to even numbers, so the year 2014 seems agreeable to me. The whole of 2013 went by in a haze almost as if nothing significant happened. I was often unaware of what day of the week it was because the usual routine of work and parenting can put you on an autopilot mode. Every day seemed almost exactly the same. I usually distinguished the days by what after-school class I had to take my son to. 

My wife often says I live on my own planet, which is both fair and unfair. Although I live largely in my head - being socially inept and all - I also pulled my weight with the parenting. My boy and I really bonded with our stories and songs, although I couldn't tell you exactly what stories or what songs because there were too many of them. He is already writing his own nonsensical songs, even if it is just in his head, like I used to do as a kid. 

On the music front, I spent a lot of late nights "shedding", which most of you musicians will know is a term that is used for people who sequester themselves up in a shed and practice repetitively. Shedding can often lead to shredding, but I'm more interested in unique phrasing and good note choice rather than playing too many notes fast these days. Playing fast is easy as long as you have patience and a metronome. I don't have either.

I also accumulated more than 20 songs, of varying qualities and genres. I will listen back to them soon and figure out which ones are worth letting you guys listen to. It could be all or it could be none. I am forever trying new things so the stuff I recorded a year ago might not interest me that much when I have to mix it and make it listenable. 

What I have realised is that I love Gypsy Jazz and Django Reinhardt. Old blues guys like John Lee Hooker, Son House, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson also made me delve into old blues a little bit. The blues I grew up with was Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn. That doesn't even scratch the surface. 

I also went back to Hendrix and Led Zeppelin for influence. Frank Zappa, Steely Dan and Rush were on my playlist too. I found inspiration in looking back rather than listening to current music. To be honest, I wouldn't be able to tell you what's good right now. In fact, I don't want to know. 

One thing I would like to do for  myself in 2014 is to improvise and record music without too much planning. The mark of a good musician is being able to adapt and play anything in a short space of time. Don't know if I'm there yet. We'll see how it goes. Right now I have to go read Peter Pan with my boy.