It has been quite a while since I've released any of my music or thoughts into the social mediasphere...
I wanted to write something, both to let everyone know I'm still here and also to explain this period of silence that so directly contradicts the intentions I had publicly set - to pursue a life dedicated to music. My goal is to make this the first entry of a regular blog where I release some kind of audio treat (be it a new musical idea I'm working on, a stand-out improvisation session, or even some pre-release version of a new song or bigger work). This will be coupled with some accompanying text where I talk about the goings on in my life and thoughts which give the music context.
As I will explain later on, it is my intention to start being much more transparent about the person I am and the political orientation which so strongly impacts how I create and relate to music. That said, I want to begin by creating space for those of you who are uninterested in all of that by putting a kind of “shut up and play” link at the beginning of every entry. This will teleport you past all my rants and musings, directly to the music and a brief description of what you are hearing.
Like this : SKIP TO THE MUSIC
This is a video which features one of my pieces in retrograde as the accompanying music. I am so pleased with how the visual imagery sets off and compounds the emotions of the piece. The video was created by subMedia, an anarchist media collective in Montréal which is doing incredible work encouraging people to directly respond to injustices in the world. Be warned the issues addressed in the video are intense, violent and controversial and much of the imagery and discourse follows suit. Also the video is a fundraiser and there is a request for money at the end which you can obviously do with what you will.
Here it is.
This video also provides a good segue back to one of the stated goals of this letter (/blog/whatever) which is to explain my silence over the past while. There were some material factors like needing to work a day job again and the months of recovery following a surgery to fix my shattered left arm (proving after years spent in denial that piano and MMA don’t mix). But for the most part I have continued learning and composing this whole time. The trouble I’m having isn’t one of creation, it’s one of distribution. I am stuck on the process of showing my music to the world...
Partly this is because, as with so many artists, the realms of social media and marketing are far outside of my experience and comfort zone. Learning new sets of skills, especially ones that clash with my introverted tendencies (not to mention the overly-emphasized humility of a Mennonite upbringing) is hard!
Nevertheless I am someone who frequently pushes my comfort zone and often engages in self-directed learning about things I’m not familiar with. When my left hand was in a cast and I was unable to reach a full octave, I got a crash course on jazz chords and theory based on the limited shapes I could force my fingers to make.
The reason I’m stumbling so hard (as revealed to me in one of the few therapy sessions I could afford this year) is the notion I somehow picked up, that in order to be an effective musician I should present a blank, apolitical canvas onto which my listeners can project their own biases and perspectives. A kind of extended-family-dinner philosophy where not only are certain topics avoided, but any departure into an emotionally dynamic territory is unwelcome.
I’m not sure exactly where this idea came from. I suppose it theoretically could allow me to avoid alienating potential fans but such a focus on quantity over quality is fairly antithetical to the way I otherwise approach music (and life).
So given that this is my first entry of many I will wrap things up by stating clearly that I am an Anarchist. As much now as I have ever been. Music and Anarchy are two of the most important things in my life and I am unable and unwilling to pursue one without the other.
I look forward to sharing with you what this means and how it shapes what I do and what I create.