Rough Week Arises … New Album Drops
The past two weeks have been unsettling beyond description—for reasons far-removed from artistic exploits or creative endeavors of any kind. Accordingly, this has been a strange time to have a new album of songs drop on the international market. My mind has certainly not been fixed upon promoting the work with anything resembling enthusiasm.
That being said, my goals related to the release of this song-cycle have never been centered upon kindling some sort of all-out media apocalypse aimed at blasting me into the stratosphere as a hot new chart-busting SUPERSTAH.
Not quite. Not ever. Fame and celebrity hold no degree of interest for me. When I look out across the pop-culture landscape and see the various types of individuals who are so swiftly and interchangeably considered “famous” (in one way or another) I am disinclined to desire such a warped and toxically vain state of existence, much less to actively seek it.
On the other hand, producing quality artistic work—across a spectrum of creative media—does get my engine running. Any worthwhile rewards that may spring from such efforts are appreciated accordingly … with a healthy dose of wariness and incidental pleasure.
My album of self-written songs is certainly not aimed at the mainstream pop/rock audience, though I have heard works with a similar “vibe” achieving notoriety. A couple of years ago, while driving around the Monterey Peninsula with a friend, a song I had never heard before started to thump its way through the radio speakers. My friend was familiar with the song and was excited to hear it, saying, “This is a lot like the stuff you write and sing.”
I liked the song. It had a big, dramatic sound and, even though it was a bit on the dark and militant side, it was catchy in its own way, as well. For all of that, I could not see the similarities my friend mentioned, between this pop song and my own tracks, which at that time were largely in the “demo” stage of production. Then again, does any artist really like it when his or her completely original work is compared to the work of another? There may be a brief sensation of flattery (particularly if the comparable work is actually a work of evident quality) but, speaking for myself, it is not a big thrill to have one’s original creation compared casually to some other offering. Call it weird arrogance—and it probably is—but I don’t want to sound or write or draw like anybody else … even if I do, by happenstance.
Still, my friend insisted upon the stylistic similarity between this song and some of my own and I accepted the remark graciously, with not a lot of ensuing discussion. The comparison was intended to be a compliment: the song in question—‘Uprising’ (We Will be Victorious)—was by a UK group called ‘Muse’ and had been a big international hit some years prior to my hearing it for the first time. This much I learned after a quick Wikipedia search upon returning home. (Is there any kind of Wikipedia search that is not “quick”?) To say the least, my friend’s comment had piqued my interest, especially since it was made for the purpose of insisting that my sort of “sound” might have a place in a mainstream setting; I didn’t believe that was true.
I can now see a certain similarity, to an extent, and it’s intriguing to imagine a song of mine climbing charts … anywhere. The song by Muse has 244 MILLION views on YouTube. Holy shit. But the reality of the matter is that I wrote the particular suite of songs on my album for personal, cathartic reasons. I had long been involved with music and lyrical writing, since my teens in high school choruses and certainly in my subsequent young adulthood when performing with a few local bands at pubs and participating in choral chant, piano, and choir productions at the Cathedral of St. Augustine in its namesake Floridian town. When the time came, somewhat unexpectedly, to “give birth” to the songs on my new recording opus, the entire writing and performing effort sprang from an irresistible creative impulse to render some serious inner-conflicts in musical form.
I wanted to get that shit out … and do so with some measure of style and structure and panache, as is my wont.
More than anything, I was thrilled that the finished music captured what I was feeling at the time and matched what I was envisioning/hearing in my brain and spirit. ‘Tis as simple as that. The final result is a cycle of songs that is decidedly dramatic, emotional, cinematic, mystical, dark, mercurial, exultant, angry, anthemic … and hardly mainstream. In my own critical assessment of the material, I thought, “This is music that people will probably enjoy while stoned out of their minds” or “I could imagine some of these songs floating over scenes in a film score or soundtrack.”
Horror films? Coming-of-age films? Dark thrillers? Maybe. You definitely would not hear ‘em in a Disney animated feature. Or in a chick-flick. Well, unless one of the chicks was on her deathbed and the scene called for her friends to hold vigil by her side, dressed in black hoods and bearing candles.
I guess the music isn’t that dark, but it sure as hell ain’t ‘Louie, Louie.’
The plan is to let the tunes be enjoyed by anyone who happens to discover them and to market the entire set to cinematographers. If humans—by the tens of thousands or merely the tens—connect with the work in some way, I’m happy. Beyond that, it’s out there at last, y’all.
HERE it is on SPOTIFY, for instance. See ya ‘round the pool hall.
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