A blog about music and the music industry, as well as design, technology, culture, fashion, current events, people, science, literature, and some other interesting topics. Its mostly about music though.
Like you, my driving ambition on graduating college was to make my mark in the music industry. Like you, my first office job was as an unpaid intern—for Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge, MA. Unlike you, I was greeted by a thriving music industry and global economy (barringthe devaluation of the Ruble in 1998).
Fetching tea for and later shaking hands with David Bowie made it worth my while, though fetching a particular sort of chair demanded by Beck helped steer me toward my current path.
The only other substantive perk I can point to was Brian Dunton of Helium dubbing me a very hot DAT of the first Breeders demos as thanks for my time. These sessions—performed by Kim and the Throwing Muses, sans Kristen Hersh—were bootleged within weeks, and there are purer copies than mine floating around. “Silver” is the big surprise, as it later ended up on the Pixies’ flawless Doolittle.
The original mix of this session was dry in the extreme, and clearly rushed through in a day (it was a pro forma demo for 4AD; I believe Ivo signed them midway through the second song). The drums and vocals are far too loud, to the point that the kick distorts everything underneath its 60-80Mhz thud.
I crammed things together a bit more, and tried to add some punch. You can find the original mix, from a very strong source, as a series of YouTube videos, and there’s a lossless FLAC on most file-trading networks. Since I went to the trouble of running this off, as part of a tape-digitizing rampage I’m on, I figured I’d throw some plugins at them, and pass the results around.
“In my writings as an analyst of the Billboard charts, I’ve coined a term to describe this phenomenon as it applies to music. I call it The AC/DC Rule: Initial sales of an album, particularly a blockbuster, are a referendum on the public’s feelings about the act’s prior album, not the current one.”
This is a standard practice inside the music industry and doesn’t just apply to the public response. You’re paid today based on the success of your previous album / show / whatever. This is why a lot of bands sign a typical entry-level label deal, have a huge unexpected success, re-negotiate their original deal for a MUCH bigger advance, but then (almost always) fail to live up to the expectations warrented from that big advance. In my opinion though, it generally balances out, because in the above common scenario, the label didn’t pay much for the album that was a huge unexpected success, but then they make up for it on the re-negotiated deal.
In this excerpt from his new book, How Music Works, musician David Byrne explores some of the latest neuroscience regarding how it is, exactly, certain patterns of sound that fall within particular ranges of frequencies can affect our brains so greatly:
“…the sonic range that matters and interests us the most is identical to the range of sounds we ourselves produce. Our ears and our brains have evolved to catch subtle nuances mainly within that range, and we hear less, or often nothing at all, outside of it. We can’t hear what bats hear, or the subharmonic sound that whales use. For the most part, music also falls into the range of what we can hear. Though some of the harmonics that give voices and instruments their characteristic sounds are beyond our hearing range, the effects they produce are not. The part of our brain that analyzes sounds in those musical frequencies that overlap with the sounds we ourselves make is larger and more developed—just as the visual analysis of faces is a specialty of another highly developed part of the brain.”
“Well, the difference is, Pixies wrote wild albums that challenged the imagination, that mixed science fiction with nautical themes, and The Smiths wrote complaint slips that nobody read. Morrissey’s influence is so crippling that it could even deteriorate the flower of modern creative thought. It’s like a pungent death shroud over the future and the past.”
I have had the honor and privilege to make art with people I sincerely love and respect. Making music with my favorite boys, videos with my long time idols (I was David Braun’s #1 fan in Highschool), and performances with new lifelong friends (NO, Gothic Tropic, Robby Delong etc (you know who you are)).
A few days ago we got to do a photo shoot with our friends Micah Cordy and David Braun. We wandered around Chinatown in the middle of the night, rode some rides, and lit some smoke bombs. The pictures turned out incredible, in my opinion, and the shoot was absolutely 100 percent free. We helped him with his school project, and he helped us by shooting some awesome band pictures. Win win.
Times are scary right now. No one has any money, the internet is expanding, and you are probably going to live past 100. But amongst all of it there is this freedom, especially for kids like you and me who really only have first world problems to consider. We have incredible technology to exploit, and an instant platform to share. Make stuff with your friends. Help your friends. Have your friends help you. Learn about art and each other. Grow, and realize Indie does not have to look like poorly made DIY, it can look better than the industry.
——— side note ————
LADIES. My boys have souls and hearts. They may be in a band, but that doesn’t mean you can use them. Treat them right. OR ELSE YOU WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH ME.
This is Pop Levi. We met him by chance in Hollywood one glamorous night. After that, we charmed him into letting us into his home to make some music. We have been working on an unnamed song over the last few weeks, and things are wrapping up beautifully.
Pop is fascinating. He is from Liverpool, puts hats on all of his lamps, AND has a collection and blog full of strange/wonderful pictures of (f)Paul McCartney. It is also terrifying to hear him slip into his “American” accent from time to time. All in all, a great person to be around and a terrific make things with.