Sunday, March 6, 2011

A rare post, and a new album

Alright, alright, I admit I don't keep up with this blog as often as I should.

When I first started it, I wanted it to be a log of my production process and my creative output. But over the last few months, I've learned why that, for me, is impossible.

After I finished Pink & Blue, I was absolutely drained creatively. I had written two EPs and three full length albums in a row without a break over 3 years. I took a well deserved break from music, picking up my guitar for maybe only a few minutes per day when I had nothing else to do.

I also started rehearsing for live shows, as was my plan, with JC (who co-sings with me on P&B), but her obligations to school and work have me thinking that's just not going to work. Instead I suddenly decided I was ready to write music again.

While I started recording, I thought back to here, my neglected blog. It would intimidate me to think about. Going back to it after so much time has passed, about having nothing I want to say. Then it struck me. Struck me like a match at a fire party. (Yes, I just made that up.) I DON'T want to explain my process. I can't speak for anybody else, but to me, my creative process is incredibly personal to me. I don't want to share that process. At least, not right now. Not yet. Maybe in the future.

So instead, the original idea for this blog is dead. And a new one is born. From now on, this blog is here when I need it, and I'll post when I want to post, without obligation.

Feels good.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Pink & Blue Journals

It has been a slow and steady road with Drivemouth, and our latest stop is Pink & Blue.

It was released about two weeks ago, on June 22nd. It's absolutely free

Firstly I'd like to thank anybody who has taken the time to listen to it, share it, enjoy it. This means a tremendous amount to me, even more than the donations I've received. Speaking of the donations, I'll be using them to create some 5 song EPs I'll be sending to radio stations and agencies. Anybody who has made a donation will be getting one of these EPs for free, as a token of my thanks :)

And now, onto some insight on the production of Pink & Blue...

Pink & Blue Cover Art

While producing this album, as I've noted before, I hated it. Not the content of it, but several aspects of the production had me more frustrated than I had ever been.

The concept began as a story about an immortal girl and her love of a mortal man. I actually got the idea while re-viewing a television show I love called Pushing Daisies. I wanted to focus on mortality, a subject I've long bee uncomfortable with. I quickly abandoned the story aspect but wanted to continue with themes of mortality. I eventually decided a relationship during the end of the world might allow me to be as introspective on the topic as I wanted.

So, I set out on creating characters for the story, who I coded "Pink" and "Blue." Oh hey look at that.

I wrote dozens of journal entries as each of them, creating their lives and relationships. Some of these journal entries actually made it into the album art. I think I might release the full journals in the future some time. Might be fun.

Anyway. While writing as Blue, I eventually found myself believing in the logic of this stubborn character, and becoming bitter and spiteful of everyone around me. I became near-obsessed with his political ideals and philosophies on humanity and started snapping at anyone who would mention something that didn't fit them. Thankfully someone pointed out that I had been snappy, and I realized what had happened. Damage control: I wrapped up his entries and moved onto Pink's.

Pink is quite the opposite, almost not stubborn enough, passive to her world and her neurosis. I didn't take on her qualities quite like I did Blue's. I don't know why. Maybe because I could easily identify with her neuroticism. Writing her and being her was a lot easier on me. She's a kind of tragic character, I think, but one that is easy to sympathize with.

After creating their backstories and relationship, it was time to see where it and the end of the world catalyst would take them. I struggled with the story's conclusion for some time. I spent weeks and weeks trying to fit this last puzzle piece to no avail. I was so close so many times. Like it was in the corner of my eye, and when I looked directly at it it would disappear.

Then, on a plane to New York I solved the puzzle. I can feel the adrenaline rush just from typing this out. Their connection was each other. Just by existing, they were connected. I really don't want to say much more than that, I don't want to put any ideas in anybody's head.

I found that in creating a story of death, I had inadvertently created a story of life, beautiful life, of humanity, of what we are and are capable of. Nothing, anything, everything. None of it, some of it, all of it.

That's what I took from it, anyway.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everyone get in here!

Good news, everyone!

I've completed the musical production of Pink & Blue! All that's left is the accompanying artwork, which is being done by the very talented and very bearded Dan Martin. We are on target for a June 15th release date, and it will be entirely and completely free! Please, hold your applause until you finish reading, you look like a fool.

I looked at my first notes, and according to the first pages (that I know about) production began on August 30th, 2009. This was actually a month before I released The Imperfectionist. And I plan on detailing the delicious intricacies of this particular production, because it's quite an interesting story. That'll come in a super introspective post soon after the release.

But, until June 15th, what to do? I could start another album. It's crossed my mind a few times. I've even had some preproduction conversations with Zach & The Machines about a collaborative effort. Which would be delicious, and definitely something I'd love to do. But at this point, I think that another solo album might be counterproductive. I've reached the point where I am comfortable enough with my material that I think I could find some success. I feel that I should stop mastering the art of writing and recording, and start learning to get my name out there. And so maybe I should start figuring out ways to get heard.

So until the release, I am going to continue to devise my plan to get myself out there. And meanwhile I am going to learn some new tricks along the way with various programs and instruments. Also there's plenty of baseball to watch.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Almost done.

It's taken me about a year to produce Pink & Blue.

I remember sitting on an airplane, traveling to New York City, spending the entire 6 hour flight scribbling furiously in my little black book writing the intimate details of my latest story. A much needed breakthrough following a horrible bout with writer's block.

But the rush of figuring out the intricacies of a project, there is nothing else like it. Do you feel the adrenaline racing from your eyes to your fingers? Tingling in your body, like your cells are rooting for you, screaming for you? That's victory.

When you place the puzzle piece in its respective spot, and you can finally see what you're building, it's quite gratifying. Like you've been opening doors all night looking for the right room, and you've finally found it. Now that you've found it, you can get what you need from it.

I've had this experience several times throughout the course of the album. I've been more frustrated with this thing than anything else I've ever done. At one point I got so fed up with it I started an entirely separate project. At another point I was so pissed that I just walked away from it for a week.

Before the anxieties and doubts and insecurities I get before releasing an album, I get anxious that what I'm doing is useless and will ultimately be just another stepping stone to my eventual mastery of the musical language. And while that may be true in some respects, in those same respects this is not a good thing. I've become bored of working towards a finish line. I want the trophy in my hand. I want this album to be done, and I want people to like it, and I want some sort of taste of success.

Then, there are the blocks. Writer's block, creative block, blickity block.

Call them what you want. But these things are a huge pain in the butt. And not in a confusing but okay maybe we'll try that again another day kind of way. The circuitry in your brain just says, "EH MAYBE LATER, YOU SON OF A BITCH," and you're stuck with thoughtless thoughts, useless musings that help you none, and a broken hand because you didn't realize my wall was so hard. These are the lowest points in the creative process. You've sat around and done nothing. And sometimes, doing nothing is the best cure for doing nothing.

Hence the week off.

So now, here I am, the finish line in sight, and I am pretty damn proud of where I've taken this project. Where this project has taken me. More on that in another post.

Right now, all I want is to cross the finish line and be done with it. But I suspect that after my deep breaths and bottled water, I'll look back at the race with a smile. "That was fun. And good riddance."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drivemouth and Neutral Milk Hotel

In February of 2009, something happened.

I got a hold of an album called In The Aeroplane Over the Sea by a semi-obscure cult-followed fuzz-folk band called Neutral Milk Hotel.

The first time I heard it, I was put off by Jeff Mangum's raw vocals and the overbearing fuzz on the guitars. The second time I heard it, I was changed.

I had never heard such an album with such an intricate concept. I've heard the essentials, of course. Tommy, Sgt. Peppers, so on. But this was conceptualized in a different, personal approach. Mangum, the band's leader, read Anne Frank's diary, and was impacted in a way I will never understand. Something I kind of envy.

And so he wrote this album. It's about so many things, and one thing. He bends landscapes and timescapes at will, and unashamedly and enthusiastically shares his passion for his story. This was not Sgt. Peppers, a concept that brought us a new version of the Beatles, or Tommy, a linear, fictional tale. It was like it came from a page out of a Mangum's diary. You know that feeling you get when you're about to cry, like ginger ale behind your eyes? It's like that, on paper. All your anxieties, all of your desires and unreachable goals, on paper. Mangum took that and put it in his music and poetry. And 10 years later a friend gave me a copy of this music and poetry. My perception of musical execution would be changed forever.

But first, further research didn't sit me down. Further research explained to me bluntly and unkindly, like some jackass rubbing my cat's death in my face, that Mangum had simply walked away from his musical career. Just. Walked away. And I was sad. I was outraged. How could somebody walk away from this kind of passion? How could you be this brilliant and just stop expressing yourself? For the love of love, how in the love can you just STOP? I found it selfish.

Jeff Mangum's album, and his story behind it, greatly affected me. So did his up and quitting. (Ten years ago.) And through this affection (and outrage) an idea was formulated between me and a comrade: Finding his departure selfish was actually more selfish. Who are we to ask for more? It was his expression, not ours. It was never ours. He said what he needed to say, and walked away. We aren't owed an explanation. The best we can do is hope he finds a reason to come back, and treasure it if he does. Other than that, we have to accept this, and take what we can get.

From these conversations, the roots of the story for The Imperfectionist were born into the ground. And they would eventually grow into something much, much more significant to me. For the first time, I had created a story out of something personal. I had finally unlocked the door that was holding me from artistic expression. (It's across the hall from creative execution, something I have always easily grasped.)

And so, ironically, Mangum's walking away from music has actually impacted me more than if he hadn't, starting with the concept of my first solo album.

Without Aeroplane, there is no Imperfectionist, no Drivemouth, and I'd still be off writing aimless, meaningless songs like I was when I was 17. Aeroplane taught me how to be personal and poetic, beautiful and haunting, and express ideas and a story in a truly fantastical, relatable way. It started with The Imperfectionist.

It will continue with Pink & Blue, my forthcoming album.

And I expect it will continue forever after that.

A Brief Yet Triumphant Introduction (featuring non-brief qualities!)

Oh. Hello.

I've been considering about blogging about Drivemouth's progress for a while now. I was egged on at just the right moment, so here we are.

The following is a precursor to any and all things I will cover on this blog.

I like art. I love art. I love all art. I live for art. I absolutely adore anything creative. That doesn't mean I like it all, though. But anything with a hint of uniqueness and creativity will probably bring tears to my eyes. Not exaggerating; I actually tear up from anything remotely satisfying, be it movie, song, painting. Not like, openly weeping. Like, I'm not a girl, I swear, shut up.

My choice of medium is music, although I dabble in various others like drawing and writing. And my preference of genre is..well, I guess most would consider it some tangent of Indie. You tell me: shameless plug

I love stories. Hearing them is great fun, but I LOVE telling stories. My albums are intricate stories with intricate plots, characters, themes, motifs, climaxes, and everything else you read about in 9th grade English that I can remember right now.

So yeah, that's basically Drivemouth without the music right there. Drivemouth's homepage. the Drivingboard, a forum where artists from all over the world (literally!) come and share projects and stuff. It's loads of fun. If you want to join, shoot me a message! Free streaming of my latest album, The Imperfectionist; its art and other stuff can be found here. Drivemouth's Facebook page. Drivemouth's Twitter page. Drivemouth's MySpace page. Drivemouth's hip hop cousin, Jivemouf.

Also, for anybody that cares, I am a die-hard baseball fan. I absolutely love it. I'll watch any game any time, see any team for any price, and talk any team any moment. I currently own 3 baseball caps. "any" looks like it shouldn't be a word. So if you ever have anything basebally to say, please, don't hesitate.

This concludes a brief triumphant introduction. Please file any questions or comments in the comments section, as the questions section is not yet up and running. We apologize for any inconvenience.