Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Night Beat Lab

Creative people don't need social lives.
So meet one of my best friends - Muse.

That aside.  About a year ago, I decided to start making beats.  Authentic beats - not messing around with the pre-made loops on garageband like I had been doing, but actually creating my own.  Still using garageband, but nothing premade, but all my own doing.

A little bit after that, I conceived an idea for Girl Conception - the comedic rap duo that I'm apart of.  An EP consisting of six tracks - most of which Nina and I had already talked about - with beats that I'd create.  So throughout last summer, I eventually composed beats for six tracks.

Flash-forward to now.  We recorded and released just two of the aforementioned tracks - the rest have been weighing heavily on me, because when you've been conceiving something for a year, you just want to go forth with it already.  But I've sort of strayed from the EP idea, because since last summer, I've composed four more rap beats for Girl Conception that I really love.

So I'm thinking about expanding this project into a LP.

The thing is - I've gotten tremendously better at composing in the past year.  Now my earlier work is nothing to scoff at, but there is definitely a difference that's relatively noticeable.  So I wondering about mixing together the two stages of my creative development into one.  I certainly still want to release my earlier beats, but maybe in a separate volume.

Anyway.  Tonight I spent some time mixing some beats, because I've had a sort of creative musical blocks for months now and can't really seem to compose anything new.  I have been able to change some things in my pre-existing work, though, which is also part of what I did tonight.  And right now, I'm pretty satisfied with the collection of nine instrumental tracks (plus one of our pre-recorded tracks) that I hope to turn into a LP.

Do you know that feeling - when you've created something that you know is a hit?  The final track on this LP is that.  As objectively as I can say that, I do - I'm very satisfied with it.

So I'm hoping to release some demos pretty soon.  Like 45 seconds to a minute long, showcasing the beat and also the lyrics I've written to go with it - hopefully to both get feedback and sort of strike interest.  Then ride off the momentum of people's interest to get this LP recorded and released.

But it's all in God's timing and will.  So we'll see.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Documenting Improvement

I am convinced that with enough practice and energy, I can become relatively skilled at anything.  And I love being able to see my improvement in a certain area - it's intriguing and exhilarating.  Everything is like a muscle - the more you use it, the more adept it becomes.

So I've witnessed this in a few things, from running (which literally is the strengthening of muscles) to guitar.  Speaking of the latter, that's what I want to do a minor experiment in.  I want to see how it takes me to master a few songs.

So I'm starting with Hey Jude and A Day in the Life - both by The Beatles.  The latter is a bit easier, so I'm already well on my way.  Hey Jude is a little more difficult.  It's a piano song, but I don't have my keyboard here, unfortunately, so I'll learn it on the guitar.  The tab I found sounds close enough.

So.  As for Hey Jude, right now I'm working on getting down the C7 and C7sus4 chords and actually being able to effectively transition between them and F without taking ten years or it sounding cacophonous.

For A Day in the Life, I can play the first part okay - so I'm just working on getting that to sound nicer and smoother before I start working on Paul's part of the song.

And since this is a creative blog - I guess I'll mention that I'm starting the shot list for my screenplay!  It's really a "rough draft" - something mainly to try and estimate how long it'll take to shoot it because that's right - I'm gonna make this movie this year!

So there you go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Not that anybody reads this thing

But I created this rap beat of sorts that I really really like, but I can't come up with lyrics for the life of me.  I've got the general rhythm of how I want the rap to go in my head, but there is nothing.  Complete blank.  And it's bizarre how sometimes I can write a rap so effortlessly that I am scrambling for paper to get it all down before I lose it, without trying, and then sometimes I'm completely blocked.

But I guess that's what it is - I have to wait for it to come to me.  Patience, I suppose.

And none of my pre-existing raps quite work with this.  It's frustrating.  Maybe I should just sell it to someone haha

Monday, October 17, 2011

In the past month and two weeks...

I've lived in Malibu, confided to a "studio apartment" in the corner of a mansion, on acres of land that hosted horses and a rooster.  And it was more "in the middle of nowhere" than my hometown of Jamestown, NC, in which I at least didn't have to drive fifteen minutes before I hit something other than the homes of millionaires.

I've lived in Eagle Rock - well, more so unofficially housesat in Eagle Rock for a hipster couple that I never met, in a cute little one-story house with more records than I'd ever seen at once in my life, fruit trees in the backyard, quirky decor and stray kittens.  I ironically felt at home in that house of a stranger.

I've lived in Hawthorne, in a cozy little Marriott.  So close to the airport that the planes fly right above us on the freeway, almost like they're going to land right ahead of me.  There's free breakfast and daily maid service, and surprisingly non-claustrophobic.  I feel like I've been here much longer than I actually have.

And by the end of the week, if all goes well, I'll be living in Culver City.  And hopefully be settling in Culver City, at least until March, and finally, our living situation won't be week-to-week, but rather there's five months of at least some kind of stability ahead of us.  I wouldn't trade the adventure of it for anything, but it's nice to see an apartment of our own in the horizon.  It's been a journey - I anticipate it still will be.  But slowly but surely, we're getting somewhere, and it's making for one heck of a story.

Not many other people can say they've lived in four different cities over the course of a month, after all.  To state it simply, it's cool.  But I am ready now to settle into this new place, and see what other aspects of my life adventure will rile up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The musical facade.

I like to pretend I’m Brian Wilson (Pet Sounds to Smile era)  when I compose music on Garageband and try these unique, different things that are kind of unconventional when it comes to what music commonly is to create something new, fresh, maybe a little strange, with these special little, unexpected touches.
But unlike him, my attempts probably suck.  Maybe not suck - but instead of sounding brilliantly unique, it just sounds a little off.  Alas, I’m not quite a composer, but I sure like doing it.
Except the last two non-rap songs I’ve composed have ended up sounding peculiarly like they could be a part of the soundtrack to a Legend of Zelda game or something (here's one, if you care to listen to my mediocrity:  My brother and I used to share “Link’s Awakening” on our Gameboy pockets when we were kids, and we legitimately loved the music.  I may or may not have two of the songs on my iTunes right now.
The stuff I created isn’t anywhere near as good.  But I like moments of them.  Certain moments really resonate with me, and I know that’s a start.  If I can create awesome moments in a song, then I’m on my way to creating great, complete masterpieces some day.  I’m still young, I’ve only been doing this for a few months - I’ll keep experimenting, and I get it.
Because those moments are important.  I realized that with songs I really love.  I can like a song as a whole, but what really gets me are those special touches that stick out and really make the song great. I know nothing of proper musical terminology, so bear with me, but sometimes at the end of a bar, an artist will do something different with the note progression there.  Like in “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, I absolutely love the part in the music every time after they sing “something” in the chorus.  I think it’s the bassline, maybe.  Whatever it is - I live for that part.
And in “Love You Like a Love Song” (yes, Selena Gomez - really take in the subtleties of that song before you judge), which is actually driven by a bassline (a synth bassline, but a bassline nonetheless - Billie Jean style, sort of) - the progression of the notes in that line at the end of each bar helps make the song for me.
Then you have that moment in one of the latter choruses of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” when he sings “I look at you all” but doesn’t complete the line, so it really draws your attention to the music at that part, and you can hear that piano shining over that guitar, and I just listen to that song in anticipation for that part.
So it’s important for me to have these little moments that I absolutely love in every song I created - whether it’s a certain chord change or how the drums go in one particular part.  Because that’s what makes a song for me.  That little special embellish that sets something apart.  The thing to look forward to, that clicks with you, that gets a little rise out of you every time you hear it, you know?
I’m such a poser.  I got my degree in film and act like I know what I’m talking about with music.  But it’s amazing what you can teach yourself just by paying attention.  Really listening to music - and I mean really listening to it has changed up my whole experience, and has really helped me to improve as I experiment with song writing.  I’m not expert by any means, but now I really understand a lot about music that I didn’t before.  Now I can actually talk about its composition and such (my lack of knowledge of the correct terminology aside), and the further I get, the more I enjoy it and really appreciate what goes into crafting a song. 
Adding onto the list: someone I can really talk about music with.  Not in a “yeah, I like this, I like that”, “oh, that’s good, but that sucks” sort of shallow, comparing tastes way, but really talking about the composition of songs, comparing songs in that sense, talking about what really makes a song great - picking it apart and truly appreciating it.  Someone I can really learn from.
This wasn’t the most eloquent or relevant of posts, but I wrote a song yesterday, so why not write about it in a sense?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I don't care too much for mansions. Mansions can't buy me love.

I'm watching the X-Factor in my hotel room, and in this episode, the contestants go to the judges' houses to perform for them.

Wait, did I say houses?  Because I meant ridiculously obscene mansions.  Epic estates in the most cliche of places (The Hamptons, Malibu, Paris), and I don't think I could ever build something like that using cheat codes on The Sims.

And as I sit in this hotel room I got at a huge discount that honestly not that much bigger than my bedroom back home, I realized something:  I wouldn't be any more content than I am now, sitting on an overpriced couch in one of those mansions as opposed to being in this hotel room.  I absolutely wouldn't.

Money, when it boils down to it, is meaningless.  And no one is going to believe that.  No one is going to believe that I believe that.  But I've spent the past five weeks living minimally in humble places that don't belong to me (and okay, I was technically in a mansion in Malibu for a month, but I was confined to just a singular, unfurnished room, so it was nothing like Nicole Scherzinger's pad that they're showing off on this episode), and it's just reiterate what I've kind of always know - true experience, true joy, true life is not found in what you have, as far as material possessions go.  It's Who you believe in, and what you do with that.

And it's such an interesting experience, to see these mansion on television and rather be in this hotel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hodgepodging it up.

Today marked the first time I have ever done well in an interview.  So maybe the tides are changing.

Found out that Demi Lovato also has some social anxiety issues.  Obviously we're meant to be best friends.

Heading towards a path of permanence, of settling.  And I know it's for the best, but I will honestly miss this nomadic lifestyle.  Part of me feels like I could hop from place to place every month or so forever.  It speaks to a part of me that I've never got to indulge in, being stuck in Southern suburbia for way too long when I was in those antsy and angsty teenage years

One day I'll travel all around with my wit, creativity, and camera.  Most importantly, with my faith.  And it'll be awesome.  I can wait.  If God has taught me anything in this past year specifically, it's patience.  I can sit here, knowing that not everything isn't quite how I'd like it at the moment, but certain that great things are coming.  There are certain things I am so sure of in my gut (I won't divulge - eventually you'll know when they happen), and I'm content (mostly - I'm not perfect) to wait on the Lord for them.

I'm not without my lofty dreams still.  There's something in particular I would so love do, that speaks to so many of my desires, and it's such a long shot that I definitely won't be distraught if it doesn't happen, but it doesn't stop me from praying for it daily.  Because I can at least ask - puts me in a better position than not asking.  I know God can make it happen if it's in His will for me.  And if it's not in His will for me, then I'm totally fine with that, because He knows best.  I trust that.  That's something else He's been teaching me this past year - what it truly means to trust in Him.

So this hotel room - I'll miss it.  There's nothing like a hotel bed or watching sitcoms on couch.  And the loud hum (so loud that it actually can't really be considered a hum) of the flighty air conditioning.  I really do love it.  Like I said in a previous post, I will hotel hop someday.  After I travel with my camera, but before I take a year living on the beach in a tent amongst a surf community (that's for a different post).

Yep, it's the good life.  It's the suite life.  I've used that terrible pun twice on this blog now.