Happy third birthday, blog of mine.
There was a time when I thought you were just a temporary place to rest my head and I would eventually lose the motivation to keep you updated, rendering you an online ghost town. Instead, you helped to kick my ass back into gear after I’d been slacking off for a while on all things music-related, and now you’re busier and more sprawling than ever before. I mean, I’m even talking to you like you’re a person, when I stopped doing that back in March of 2008. I bet you never saw that coming back again, did you ol’ blog?
Since I first got the random idea to create you three years ago, a lot has happened.
I went from being lethargic and having no real motivation to put any work into harnessing my musical ideas (I think some people call that “post-crackhouse blues”) to recording and releasing seven full-length albums plus a three-CD compilation of out-takes/misfits — with two hundred and thirty-four songs between them all — in the space of just over two years.
I added a few instruments, noise-makers, and sound-sculptors to the room in which music is made.
I wrote a whole lot of stuff (three hundred posts so far — some silly, some serious, some random, some rant-tastic — plus a separate page for every CD I’ve ever officially released, and dedicated sections for some other things of note), made a lot of videos (there are about eighty self-made videos of various shapes and sizes scattered throughout this place), shared a lot of music (more than two hundred MP3s between album pages and regular posts), posted a lot of silly pictures, and butchered others to make them silly when I didn’t feel they were ridiculous enough to begin with. Things looked like halloween around here for a long time, until they suddenly didn’t anymore.
I went from being so far under the radar I might as well have not existed as a musical entity in this city, to becoming someone who is considered somewhat “cool”, and somehow built up a far larger audience than I ever expected I would. I don’t think it would have been possible without some strong support from CJAM, Liam and the gang at Dr. Disc, Tom and Frank at Phog, some good friends from all walks of life, and my Uncle Kanye, who sometimes gives good advice when he’s not interrupting me during my big moment at a music video awards show.
After being shunned by the local music scene for years, I was finally treated as if I were part of the club, sort of, though I still don’t think I really am when you get right down to it. I guess it just got to the point where it wasn’t so easy to ignore me anymore. I learned a lot about the way a city’s music scene works — the good stuff, the weird stuff, and how there’s some bizarre double-dealing that goes on sometimes behind the scenes. Thankfully I was able to avoid the bulk of the weirdness by not being an active participant in the usual conventional ways.
I tried the unpaid session musician thing for a while, playing as a sideman both live and in the “studio” with a few different people. I had good experiences and bad experiences. Ultimately, I learned being a sideman — while it’s something I can do, and I think I can do it pretty well — is not really for me. It was a worthwhile experiment, at least. I did manage to make a few good friends in the process, and was reminded for the first time in a long while just how much fun it can be to collaborate with someone when there’s no stupid crap involved and you’re not only given free reign to contribute whatever ideas you might have — you get credit for everything you do, too.
I was threatened with rape and death during a home invasion but survived with my muffler intact, though I could have done without the PTSD that followed. I redirected some of the anxiety into pop songs like this one.
After avoiding live performances for years, I played my own material live in a few small concentrated doses and then threw caution to the wind and played an extended free one-man show at Mackenzie Hall. What could have been a grotesque failure was instead a surprising success, and it still almost doesn’t quite feel like it really happened.
Then I went back to avoiding live performances.
I reissued and repackaged almost thirty CDs from the back catalogue with new artwork (many of them never had any proper artwork to begin with), mostly for my own amusement. A few people who were interested got a big black box full of these CDs.
A short-form documentary film was made about me.
(The actual number of albums recorded is much higher than the figure in that trailer, but whaddayagonnado?)
I resurrected my long-dormant Myspace page and made it somewhat presentable, using it as a convenient place to post random things I was working on before they had finished albums to call their homes. Then I realized Myspace is kind of lame, their streaming sounds absolutely hideous (I had to hide the built-in music player using html and attach my own external MP3 player for higher quality audio), and there’s really no point in me having a music page over there with all the stupid restrictions and rules when I have complete freedom to do whatever I want over here. I also have no real interest in “networking” with other bands who only want to pad out their friends lists and gain another person they can send impersonal spam to.
So I killed my profile for good, thus rendering me perhaps the only musician in this city who doesn’t have a Myspace page. It was long overdue. Just about the only good things to ever come out of having a Myspace profile were having an easy way to get in touch with Travis for the first time, being able to share silliness with some long-distance friends, and the running joke of being able to refer to that place as “Spyspace”.
The obligatory “bio section” shifted a number of times, from a very skeletal thing, to an insanely long cross between an FAQ and a place to dispel some bizarre rumours and myths that were floating around, before finally mutating into something informative but not as long-winded.
I came up with the idea of making monthly video progress reports as a random thing, only to watch as the half-assed idea took on a life of its own and grew tentacles. I’m working on progress report #9 right now and kind of wish I started doing this years ago, because it’s a lot more fun than I ever thought it would be and a great way to keep track of what I am (or should be) working on.
I also came up with several ideas I’ve yet to really run with, like a comic strip about a wild-haired, cynical-beyond-all-reason child prodigy of a focus-puller named cormac.
And a whole lot of other stuff happened too. A few weeks ago I went through the archives to insert some links where I neglected to do that in the first place (mostly linking to an album’s relevant page when its title appears in a post), and it was a little startling to realize just how much content there is here. I had to make a point of only skimming most of the posts instead of reading them all the way through, otherwise it would have taken me days to get through it all.
There’s a lot of stuff here. You can actually trace my progress from wading through a bit of a slump after an exhausting move into a new house, to getting things back on track in a big way and then keeping the momentum going while figuring out just what this blog was supposed to be. A few links have gone dead in that time (most of them other people’s sites that were abandoned, or links to my now-defunct Myspace page), and I removed them where I caught them, though I’m sure two or three slipped through the fingers of my eyes.
In all honesty, I feel like I’m only now really hitting my stride. There’s a lot more left to say, and much more music to share. Thanks to everyone who’s tagged along for the ride. It’s been interesting so far. Let’s see what else shakes loose.
(I should add that MEDIUM-FI MUSIC… is at #3 on the CJAM charts this week. Thanks, as always, to everyone who plays my stuff.)