summer recap

So, this summer happened. It was. A beast.

I’ve been speaking a bunch about “beasts’ lately, but this is an experience more than an actual beast. I’ve been avoiding putting this one down and even sense myself avoiding it now, though I intended to write it when I sat down. How do you write the actual words to something so jarring and real as

“my mother died on July 10, 2012”

Everything that precedes or follows that statement seems cheap and inappropriate to such a degree that I feel like I should start a blog just to make that statement. That’s it. So I can keep that experience over there and present, but I can speak freely about the rest of thethingsthathavehappened without having to compare them to that: the one big thing that has happened.

I spent precisely three weeks in her apartment caring for her along with hospice nurses while she died of lung cancer. Not a good way to go, I’d like to add, though it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I mean her actual symptoms, that is. The process of watching the woman who birthed me dying–moment to moment– was excruciating. I am not exaggerating when I say that. Each day was a new reminded that SHE IS DYING. Sometimes something small like the first day I noticed she didn’t ask for any solid food, or something big like the day I realized she could no longer pick up a glass. That was the day she started getting moisture in her mouth via these cheerfully pink oral swabs. First held by her hands, then by her lips, then by instinct, by me, because she couldn’t communicate anymore. Her lips, twitched a little her mouth barely sucking out the drops of water, but really by this point I was pressing the little pink sponge against the inside of her mouth.

See what I mean? What am I supposed to write after that?

Mangleton

I have had a piece on the back burner for a while that is coming to life and I am so excited. I’m so drawn to interacting with sound, playing keyboard and using text in different ways at all the same time. This is why I wanted to learn Ableton. Working on this new piece over the last couple of days has me really fucking psyched for what I am doing and figuring out how do do 8000000 things at once with software. I just found myself speaking, triggering vocal effects on my qwerty keyboard, triggering drums, loops, glitchy whatsits and basslines on my APC40, recording new loops into Ableton clip slots, and playing live piano/noise lines on my Yamaha S90 XS all without stopping the flow of what was happening. I’ve just been spending so much of the last year learning this software, and these moments when I am suddenly at one–living and breathing with a piece of fucking SOFTWARE and a bunch of buttons and keys—— I’m just amazed and thrilled about creating music and sound so effortlessly!

Anyway this piece is in much the same vein as “When It Will Bloom” and “Shadowing” though it seems like the text and music are interacting with one another in a much more organic and relaxed way. The whole piece just erupts at the end in this swell of lush static noise that completely made my morning.

Summer is upon me and for the next couple of months I have so much time to write. The plan is to continue writing with this theme of text/electronics/piano/strings and complete and evening length piece with an accompanying album. Fun and spooky to say it out loud.

Laurie Anderson’s words have been in my mind for the past couple of days:

“No one will ever ask you to do the thing you really want to do…do not wait for this to happen, it will never happen…so just think of what you’d like to do, what you dream of doing, and then just start doing it.”

Here’s the clip from whence the words came, with thanks to Madge Weinstein for making me aware of this.

Beat The Clock!

Last Sunday/Monday I entered this contest from Ableton. After downloading a bunch of loops and instruments, I had 24 hours to put together a track and submit it. You can listen to the results on here.

I had fun getting all 80s for a bit and screwing with things in Max for Live to get that crunchy messed up middle section. More details on the Soundcloud page. let me know what you think!

Zen Palate

Last night I found myself with about an hour to kill before a 9:15 meeting in Hell’s Kitchen and decided to run by Zen Palate for something to eat. I almost always go there when I am in the neighborhood. I have such fond memories of sitting at their counter during my first year in NYC. I didn’t really have a problem eating alone when I moved to New York, but now It’s a required skill. I’m often roaming the city alone with hours of hungry down time to kill between events, eating alone just happens. And it happens frequently.

Last night, however, I hesitated and almost didn’t go for the oddest of reasons: my phone battery was about to die.

That’s the interesting thing about dining out alone. I always want to be busy with something else. Some activity that says, “I just happen to be eating while doing this” instead of “I am a perpetually single, unloveable loser.”

5%.

“Just go eat.” I said this out loud as I wove through meandering tourists on 8th Ave and headed West. How bad could it be to just eat and be there alone?

It wasn’t terrible, but when that screen shut off and I was left facing an empty chair, a plate full of sesame medallions and the two page program from my friend’s (decidedly brilliant) one man show as my only companion I that the time had come to admit it:

I was alone.

I mean, I already knew it, but it hit me then how hard I try to avoid acknowledging this fact throughout the day. Text messaging my way down the sidewalk to the train. Facebooking a photo of the dinner I just made for myself. Searching #walkingdead while watching TV. I spend a lot of energy pretending not to be alone most of the time.

About a year ago (honestly, I have no concept for how long ago this was, but that sounds good) I was heading to Zen Palate in a similar situation (minus the exhausted phone battery) and there was a reasonably hot guy eyeing me on the street. I was flattered but kept moving, as I am want to do. Goddess forbid I should let anyone know I am even remotely interested. I went inside and sat at the counter and when I glanced outside, there he was. Cute. He stood there and I goofy smiled and then looked away. Then down at my well-charged phone. I looked up again and he was still there! Then back at the phone. And….

gone.

I don’t know if I was expecting him to just stand out there in the cold all night waiting for me, but I was a little offended that he was gone. I know, right?

So last night I faced that same window and kept thinking that he might come back. What? The thing is, I didn’t really expect that he would–not even in the slightest, I mean…come on. But still, every now and then I would see a person hesitate by the window and my heart would kind of jump and I’d think, “There he is! That one guy that thought I was hot enough to stand outside of the window and cruise me even though I looked way more interested in my iPhone.” There was something really sad to me about seeing myself like this.

I need a Kindle.

Concord Road

My good friend (and fellow Yoko Ono junkie) Jordan Scoggins asked me to write some music for a video series he is creating around his book Jordan’s Journey. Here’s the first result, Concord Road:

Jordan asked me to use some Sacred Harp recordings as a jumping off place, which gave me a good opportunity to hone my skills at warping loops in Ableton Live. I also used a couple of Ableton and Max For Live devices, most notably Beat Repeat on the bells and drums and Buffer Shuffler on the banjo you hear drifting in and out.

I like this piece, so I may build it into a stand alone piece as well….maybe an EP of everything I write for this series? Who knows!

Be sure to check out Jordan’s site for more information about his work!

rephrase

I can’t share the now finished short film “Rephrase” yet, but I can share the trailer. So excited to see my music used in this film. I loved the process of working with the creators of the film to write something that fit perfectly with their vision of the film. Any random folks out there who need music for something like this, just say the word. I’d love to do it again! This is my music you hear in the trailer.

into action

“Shadowing” had its first public performance this past week at Dixon Place and I am so delighted. I’ve been talking about and visualizing this move from “pianist-and-sometimes-composer” to “solo performer”for quite a while now. Though my energy has been used appropriately in terms of writing new material and rehearsing it, it wasn’t until I woke up Friday morning that I realized that I am now doing it. Right?

I’m going to put that piece on the shelf for now and get to work on a new one, it’s such a little embryo, I don’t think I’ll even mention more about it than that. I want to dive into some video work for this one though.

On the gear front, I bought an Akai APC40 last week and I’m having visions of improvising more er…. imporvisationally with Ableton. Still learning more and more about this brilliant software and so excited about it. I have a couple of pieces of music in the work for various other projects.

Life feels good and I wanted to check in. I have a video of the Dixon Place performance, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it yet. Once I do, I think about sharing it. I’m really thinking, though, that this work isn’t ready to be seen in such a permanent state. Allowing it to exist in the memory is perfect for now.

rephrase

A couple of things:

I uploaded a new track to soundcloud. It’s music for a film called Rephrase by my friend Greg, I’ll, of course, update when there is news about how to see it. I was going to post the track here, but the soundcloud player looks hella ugly.

– I’m performing at Dixon Place on April 12 with Ivan Coyote, Rae Spoon and Lauren Hunter. We were all assembled by curatorial powerhouse Victoria Libertore. I am performing an original piece called “Shadowing,” which explores the conflict between simultaneously desiring solitude and intimacy. Combining text, found sound from the NYC subway, and and my own original music, what starts as a moment of journaling on the train becomes an exploration of relationships, creativity and spirituality.

-I’m reviving my podcast with an interview from Collin from ATTACK.WAV. Live it. Love it.

-Spell check has either given up on me or “curatorial” really is a word.