Our little sperm egg happy meal turned two years old. Crazy pants.
I’ve heard several parents say: “the days are long but the years are short”. They were all wrong. These have been the longest two years of my life. For that, I am both grateful and exhausted. Older folks keep reminding me that it will all go by so fast. I’m old enough to know that this is true. Therefore, I try to make choices that maximize the time I have with my buttermilk pancakes. Onward with the bullet points.
Fun notable events:
2011 takes the prize for the most intense year of my life. It completely caught me by surprise. Dizzying highs and lows with a smattering of creamy middles. I learned more about myself then I ever thought I would. One of the big monsters in my closet is anxiety, and this year we’ve made a formal introduction.
For a long while there was not much change or growth in my life. I knew I wasn’t reaching my full potential for happiness, but didn’t know the first steps to take. I’ve built a fair number of barriers from my emotions for a long while now. Now I’m starting to peek over the walls I’ve built. Its frightening and exciting. The whole process is very delicate. If I start observing myself opening up, then the moment wanes.
My long bouts with insomnia in 2011 have been crippling, and my relationship with sleep has fundamentally changed. I’ve learned to function on far less sleep then I imagined I could. A useful lifelong skill.
I now see myself full of contrasting identities. I’m both frail and strong. Selfish and generous. Spontaneous and rigid. An adult and a child. My role as a father has become more and more part of my identity as Jasper transforms into a toddler. He’s popping up in my dreams for the first time.
I need to fill my waking moments either actively engaged (working, playing with Jasper, coding, music, yoga) or being passively engaged (reading, tv, etc). I am very uncomfortable with time when I am not engaged. What I thought of previously as boredom smells a lot more like anxiety now. Therefore, I’m attempting to spend more time being present and peaceful. I’ve always admired people who can be peaceful. I am taking steps toward having more moments of peace in my life, and its been rewarding. A followup revelation was recognizing that being contemplative is an important aspect of being peaceful. So I’m consciously doing more reviewing of my recent past, and I now find that I’m looking at my past more overall. Its a like a muscle that I need to exercise.
I’ve been pouring myself into new general fuzz tracks lately. I’ve been slaving away at them, and only recently have I realized that I was doing this to distance myself from my latest release. I’ve been going through a period of shame and negativity towards “miles tones”, a sharp contrast to how I was feeling when I was finishing it and putting it out there. No one ever claimed being an artist was easy.
I’m working on 3 major personal projects right now, which is incredibly fulfilling to me. I’m a little obsessive about these projects though. The balance is tipping so that I’m more motivated by the destination then the journey. It might just be when there’s enough momentum, I want to run free with it. When I can see the checkpoint ahead of me, I really want to get there. I already know that reaching the checkpoint itself can be a letdown, but maybe a relief as well.
I lost my friend Graham at the beginning of 2011. I still haven’t recovered from that. My inability to process that event was the catalyst for everything that followed this year, but I only know that in retrospect. He lived far away, I only saw him once to twice a year, and yet I miss him a lot. There are a few things I would like to ask him, and those questions will stand unanswered. I really would have like to talked him about my current coding project.
All in all, I’m pretty optimistic about 2012. There’s a lot to look forward to. I’m got a lot fires cooking. I’m just hoping the intensity level will dial back a bit.
The absolute highlight of Halloween was when we were walking home. I pointed up in the sky and asked Jasper what the big white thing was. I watched the comprehension sweep across his face, and he excitedly pointed and yelled “Moon”. It was the first time he knew what it was, and the moment was priceless.
I’ve never had such a positive experience finishing up an album as I did with this one. Not setting a hard deadline for finishing the album was an excellent decision. It eliminated the element of stress from the tedious and time consuming process of finishing up the tunes (final mixes and mastering). I made loose goals along the way so I had something to aim for, but didn’t feel bad if it took longer to achieve these goals. My free time has diminished greatly from my pre-fatherhood days, so I really wanted to make working on tunes a fun outlet as much as possible.
My drive to promote my music has greatly diminished. I used to spend a lot of time sending out cds and emails to outlets for consideration. I very rarely got any response. It can be fun to share my work with other people, but its also a labor intensive process with a lot of rejection along the way. At this point, a decade in, my music has found some of its audience. There are people who care about it, and that’s pretty sustaining to me. Of course I hope my audience continues to organically grow.
My favorite part of making music is when ideas are flowing well and starting to coming together. It’s not when I’ve finished a track / album. It took 6 or 7 years, but I did eventually learn that it’s really more about the journey then the destination.
I pour myself into these songs. It takes more time then I care to admit. The tracks on this album took many different directions before they were finished. There was a ton of content that was written and removed. Many times I had to remind myself that trying things that don’t work out is not a waste of time.
All I used to create these songs was my computer, a mixer, two MIDI controllers, a mic, and speakers at slightly uneven heights (and a LOT of software). My recording room is completely untreated, with a tile floor, glass windows, several bikes, and a couple large plastic baby toys that need to be passed along. The recordings always sounded good enough to me. Thank goodness there are tools like RX and Melodyne to clean up my recordings though. I did outsource the some of tricky instrument recording though – thanks very much to the internet + skype.
In the past three years I’ve become aware of what an amateur I am at producing, mixing, and mastering music. I’ve attended workshops with Carmen Rizzo and Rena Jones. I have learned that there is a huge amount of knowledge that I’m lacking. They all have very strong opinions over what gear and software you should use, how to treat your audio, and to never self master your music. If you listen to one my tracks and then of their tracks, you can hear the difference. I don’t think of this as a failure on my part – I just know that there is a lot more to learn, and that later in life I hope to learn more about my craft.
I’ve been making music as general fuzz for over a decade now. I no longer feel the burning need to prove to myself that I can make an album. I also have no intentions to stop creating music. General fuzz has become such an important part of my identity. I hope to create music for the rest of my life, and in theory, I have a lot of time left. I do need to try vary the course some though. I’ve got to try working in different styles and collaborating with different people, so that I can grow as a musician. I need to also take breaks from music, and allow some time for inspiration and motivation to brew.
Releasing an album is very exciting for a number of reasons. One aspect that I have only become aware of recently is that it acts as snapshot of my life. I can now listen to my previous releases and remember what was going on at that time. It’s also something concrete which represents a step forward in my path as a musician.
Most importantly, I’m proud of what I made. So far I have no regrets about the album, which was my ultimate goal. I felt that way after “soulful filling”, and I learned that it was worth aiming for.
Also, this moment brought everything into alignment.
With great pride and pleasure I’m releasing my sixth general fuzz album, “miles tones”. As always, it’s available as a free download off my website: http://www.generalfuzz.net.
Its been over three years since my last release, and during that time I became a grown up. My 1.5 year old son now takes center stage in my life. There are many musical references in this album reflecting the anticipation, arrival, and development of my son during the past few years.
This album turned out to be sort of a companion album to “soulful filling”. It has that same mellow vibe and melodic sensibility. I’ve decided to attempt to release albums with a more consistent vibe, so all my latest mellow tracks ended up on this one. As a result, the next album will have significantly more bump to it.
I was lucky enough to work a whole mess of truly amazing musicians in past couple years. It was an absolute honor to have Audio Angel, Josh Clark (the guitarist Tea Leaf Green, a band I have seen 20+ times), Ryan Avery, Phoebe Jevtovic Alexander, Jesse Ivry, Emiel Stöpler, Shakiban, Peter Medland, and Ryan Hughes in my “studio”. I’m particularly grateful to Ryan Avery, a stellar violinist and electronic music composer, who generously came over to my studio many times to help flush out some tracks. If you dig my music, you should definitely check out his – its in a similar vein to mine.
I decided not to make any CDs for this release, since its wasteful, expensive, and, really, its sorta pointless in this day and age. I’m always very grateful for donations, and the money always goes directly back into my music. I’ve added 4 awesome new “locked” bonus tracks to my website. If you send me a donation, and I’ll send you all 7 locked tracks. It’s like a whole bonus general fuzz EP. I also built a “song unlocker” on my website to incentivize folks to spread my music on the internets. If you simply post my website anywhere on the internet (facebook, twitter, google+, blog, etc), let me know, and I’ll unlock a bunch of tracks for you.
Many thanks to Chris Brown, Nora Barrows-Friedman, Dave SG, and of course my incredible supportive wifey, Stiners “the pants” McGee.
The album art was a photo taken by Sophie Thouvenin.
I do very much hope you enjoy this release. Feedback of all kind is always welcome.
Thanks so much for listening.
We were invited to the Tuteur family reunion (my mom’s side) in Germany. There was no way we were going to go. The Ruddens, on their own volition, offered to fly out to CA and take care of Jasper if we went. All of the sudden, the family reunion sounded like a good idea, especially if we used it as a jumping off point for a European adventure. So Stiners and I headed east for 2.5 weeks sans Jasper. I went through the emotional wringer prior to leaving, but settled into our vacation as the days slipped by.
We kicked it off in Germany (Bad Kreuznach), with an amazing tour through the places where my ancestors roamed 100 years ago, drinking tasty beer at every meal. We then departed from our extended family members, and headed our way down to the Swiss Alps. We toured through Switzerland for almost 2 weeks. Getting around in Switzerland was thick savory pie. Trains ran often, and where the epitome of comfort. I love trains. Jasper will soon.
There’s nothing quite as awe inspiring as the Swiss alps. And who doesn’t love a gondola ride? Nobody.
Why go to France, when you can go to the french part of switzerland and be equally as confused? Same with Italy. People were stylish and beautiful, but I wouldn’t call them friendly.
Mostly I’ll the let the pictures do the talking. It was quite a experience. Good times were had.
We connect with my old co-worker Joerg while we were in Zurich. That was fun.
We are deeply indepted to Lolo and Lola for taking such awesome care of our son.
Thanks for cleaning the shit out of our house as well.
We were apprehensive about how Jasper would react to our return. To our delight he was crazy happy to see us, and laughed for an hour. We missed him terribly. Arriving home to him was a terrific reward for staying up for 20 hours straight.