Improvising Grief

Tasks Improv

This is an audio sample of some ideas I am incorporating into a piece I am working on called “The Five Tasks of Grief.” I was playing with some of these self-created loops and improvising piano over them. I thought it sounded cool, and I have also recently realized that I have been talking so much about this writing and no one really has any idea what I am working on so I recorded it to share.

This piece has a huge text component and I will be recording some friends this week speaking some of the text for me. This gives you an idea of what the music is going to sound like. Many of the loops are different lengths, I think it gives a good chaotic/hypnotic feel. The piano is all improvised live in this recording.


This Clement World

I saw Cynthia Hopkins’ This Clement World twice this week. I really, really enjoyed the show, but more than I that, it was so inspiring to see a piece of theater/performance art that helps me to find a way to name what it is I am headed toward with my work. I thought she did a brilliant job of making this piece about climate change using real and fictional characters, video, songs, music, movement, video in a theatrical context to reflect back on the audience without being too preachy. God, is there a way to write about art without sounding like a pretentious douche? Teach me it.

I often find myself trying to tell people what it is I am trying to create in such a disjointed and cautious way….maybe there’s a fear there that someone is going to say “you can’t make THAT! No one is making THAT!” Oh…here’s someone right here.

So about making things: I have done little of that, but I am out of my fear k-hole so that is good. This morning I have a cool promotional thing to do for my band ATTACK.WAV which I will share later and then going to see another brilliant solo artist Stephen Strafford perform his Methtacular!.  Did I mention I saw the great Tanuki Suit play last night. Great show.

Oh, I have an interview with Steven that I should get posted on MikeyPod today. I recorded it during my two weeks of being frozen by Artist Shame™. Sorry, Steven.

My life is good and full of inspiring people. I want to be an inspiring people too. With that in mind, my goal this week is to complete 4 sessions of writing on this final chapter of my piece. Things are shifting with the direction of the piece in a potentially major way. This makes me nervous as my first reading of the show is right at two months away. My heart just started racing. Anyway, I think these tentative titles of “Tentative Armor” or “Delicate Armor” may be going away. We’ll see.

Thank you for being a part of this journey.

this is here

This is such an interesting process.

And by interesting I mean, “what a pain in the ass.”

The good news is that my impending performance date is keeping me from giving up…forcing movement forward. But really, this place I have been for the past couple of weeks is kinda torturous. The collision of self-doubt and fear at the intersection of “just give up.” But move forward, I must. It’s time and I will be so happy to get to the other side of this. My friend and mentor Victoria Libertore and I were discussing this place and I feel I have been letting the archetypes of the saboteur and the victim work out their issues at the expense of my work. These voices that judge my work even before it has a moment to exist. No, thank you.

The good:

  • Super productive meeting with my director, Adam Fitzgerald. I said something unexpected during that meeting that quickly became a thesis statement for this piece. Love when that happens.
  • Some new material written yesterday. At last. Every now and then something happens when I am working and I discover something that feels like my authentic voice. It sneaks in before my judgy voices can shoot it down and then, there it is.
  • This IS the process of writing for me right now and I am engaging it and being there and yes…
  • This is happening.
  • The Alchemist is in the house.
  • I wrote music for this hysterical video quite sometime ago (in my short-lived Cubase days), my friend Matt posted for Valentimes.

(a note: I got off track with my social media stuff, so rather than play “catch up” on vlog and podcasting, I am going to continue on as if I have been doing them all along. That way there won’t be a sudden flood of material. Apologies if you have been waiting for these things.)


Last week I was crazy sick, but it gave me the chance to guiltlessly watch a ton of movies which I found somewhat inspiring in a few ways. Howl was pretty great. Some of the things I’m writing for Delicate Armor are graphically sexual, so it was cool to see that I am not alone in feeling guided to write about these things. Thanks Alan Ginsberg!

This video from Laurie Anderson grabbed me:

I just got a copy of the George (not Michael) Trow book she mentions in it, I think it’s going to help give a more universal vision to the ideas I’m writing about right now. I have all of these personal experiences to illustrate this idea that I am getting at (which I still can’t put simply into words) but this book feels like an extension of it. I’ll read it tonight.

She talks about the idea of individuals having lost their ability to be themselves because this middle ground– the space that once existed between an individual and mass media– has fallen away. This is really close to what I am writing about in terms of my own experience, but reading this book will give me a deeper experience of this idea. SO hard to put any of these thoughts into words, which is, I guess, why I am feeling drawn to illustrate them with stories and music.

All of that said, I am feeling super fearful and discouraged about my writing in this moment. I can’t seem to move forward and I can see in my behavior that I am finding any excuse to avoid writing, which puts me in a state of panic about not getting this stuff written in time so then my inner critics stop buy to ask me who the fuck I think I am to try to put together something like this anyway. They are assholes like that. I’m going to up the meditation and the inquiring of lady voices and stay open to receiving what is next to write down, but…ooooh lawdy! I’m afeared today.



Digging In The Dirt

I switched my writing focus this week to the last chapter of Delicate Armor (that’s still a tentative title). It has to do with my mom and the experience of caring for her this summer while she was dying. I guess it would be more accurate to say that I switched my focus to avoiding writing this part of the piece. I got a touch done, but it is so hard revisiting that time. I am really afraid of digging in. A little bit of progress there, but I want to make bigger strides this week. I guess I just have to accept that this is going to be hard but it has to be done to create this piece the way it needs to happen.

My friend and colleague Daaimah Mubashshir came over yesterday morning and I ran through for her what I have finished on the piece so far. It made all this feel real in a cool way and also highlighted for me how much work I have to do in order to get the show where I want it to be for my reading in April. Daaimah is going to serve as a dramaturg for the piece which excites me so, and I am just thrilled to have another human who believes in what I am doing here. I’m finding it really hard to get people engaged with what I am doing, but I think patience is what I am really lacking. My intuition is telling me to just keep it up with the sharing and the audience will come.

Karma and Blue Shirts

Our ATTACK.WAV show at Cameo Gallery Saturday Night was so much fun. The venue was really great, sound was superb and the bands with whom we shared the bill (little,big and Uncle Monsterface) were nice as hell. We were all being so nice to one another and then commenting on how nice we all were. It’s been a long time since I played with a rock band and I forgot how much I love it! It was a great night.

I had an interesting realization about my self-promotion skills/fears/ignorance that was inspired by the show and the fact that none of my friends showed up. My first thought was hurt feelings and pissed-offishness, which then morphed into thoughts of “if I can’t even get people to come to this band show, they’ll never come out to my solo show, therefore I shall jump in front of this oncoming train.” Slowly I realized that I have to work much harder and much more directly to get people to come to things. Not to mention make sure I am keeping my show karma in check by showing my face at my friends gigs. I am okay about that, but I’m feeling really motivated to be the guy that always shows up for his friends.

The other spot I missed was connecting directly with people to tell them I wanted them to be there. All I really did was post about the event here and on my Facebook page. I think it’s like they teach you in CPR class. You can’t say “someone call 911” because then people will assume that someone else is going to do it. You have to say “You in the blue shirt, call 911.”

It’s scary and awkward and feels so egotistical to self-promote, but I am going to have to get over it, I guess, as I pursue solo-artistness and I am still feeling guided in that direction, so here we go. Fumbling through as best I can. Learning and connecting along the way.

My writing for this past week has been mainly centered around a piece of the show that is tentatively called “Mango.” I am continuing to hunt down string players to perform with me in April and I have set up a preliminary meeting with my director, Adam Fitzgerald, to go through what I have written so far and see what is missing and what needs to go. In so many ways I am excited about validating this work by bringing others into the process, but there are those critics in my head screaming “YOU CAN’T” at the top of their imaginary lungs…to be honest, I still believe them about 75% of the time but there is some willingness and hope propelling me forward and I am so grateful for that.


Oh, I posted a new podcast this morning over at, an interview with Katie Mullins. Please check it out and let me know what you think. She’s a peach.




Champa Moore came by my studio last Saturday for some experimentation and Ableton Live chat. We worked together at an iconic Houston coffee shop back in 1992(ish) and hadn’t seen each other since then. Through the powers of Facebook and the fact that we both live in NYC now, we managed to finally get together. What resulted was a quick run through of each other’s workflow followed by some inspired improvisation. Here’s a sample from our first jam:

Champa + Saw

Champa composed percussion and sampled sounds from his own body, then manned the APC40 while I improvised on the digital piano. I wish we had videoed this. Kinda funny to see the two of us squished back in my tiny space. My mind was blown, especially when he started tweaking and looping segments of what I had just played. The collaboration was magic and we are gonna do it again with hope for a live set at some point. So fun.

My ongoing collaboration with Misty Roses brought me to Joe McGinty‘s Carousel Studios in Greenpoint yesterday. We recorded Robert Conroy’s lead vocals along with some backing vocals by Anna Copa Cabanna for this cool tribute single we are all working on. The session was great and Joe’s studio is chock full of vintage synths that were so cool to check out. Dinner with Robert and Anna followed during which time I fell in gay love with Ms. Cabanna.

In podcast related news, I posted MikeyPod 164 which features an interview with Corey Dargel. I caught his set at (le) poisson rouge this week, too. Brilliant. I’m so looking forward to his new album.

This weekend promises lots of quality time with my ATTACK.WAV bandmates as we get ready for our gig on January 19th (check out the shows page for more info on that) and mouth related healing as I am having my last remaining wisdom tooth extracted today. Send love.




twenty thirteen

This is my year. I have declared it so. I am writing. I will be performing my original work, starting with a work in progress performance on April 17th at Judson Memorial Church’s legendary Magic Time (perhaps you’ve noticed it mentioned on the new “shows” page of this site).

As this piece reveals itself, I am getting closer and closer to being able to define or at least give a name to this type of work I am doing. Piano, stories, synths, sounds, and static. Maybe it will have a name soon.

This year holds more work with ATTACK.WAV for me, along with some new projects with Robert Conroy and Misty Roses.

Join me, won’t you?