Archive for the Personal Category

Belief, Perception, Resonate: Musicians/Albums & My Youth vs The MP3 Generation

Posted in Personal on January 2, 2016 by Q

I’m in the mood to reflect on something and hell, I can’t even pull a good title out of my ass let alone be particularly articulate, so maybe I’ll just blab for myself and do it because I can.

The topic on my mind is music and how it exists nowadays vs when I was young. I’m not talking about the sound, because that has changed and does every day, but rather peoples perception of the core, their belief in it or how an artist is looked at on a personal level.

Compared to the pocket fulls and shoeboxes full of cassettes I was so inseparable from and proud to have, we are quite far and adapted into the internet age and having music as compressed audio files that you have thousands of on your smartphone. I would be lying in saying I don’t love being able to have hundreds of albums at my fingertips and existing on a device that does so much other shit for me and serves me daily, I mean really, carrying a few cassettes in your pocket not just slowly ruins them, it was a pain in the ass. What has happened however is that a song is just another file now, and a song is as expected and undervalued as is each drop of water that comes from your sink when you turn the handle and fill a glass. Does anyone think about the existence of the water you pour down the drain afterwards? Five seconds later, do you picture that water traveling along, what it’s passing thru, how it’s existing?

Does that shit sound extreme? Maybe it’s a wide and goofy comparison but here is my point: music available to us is as easy to acquire as each drop of water from a stream; abundance, many many many. Does that not slightly devalue an individual song? That is the abundance of the digital age, and naturally, you can pick and choose at will. What’s the point of buying a CD when you know you want a certain song or two and couldn’t give a shit about the rest? That’s today’s attitude.

Then of course we consider the artist performing it next. There is always going to be fans of those who get attention, and there will likely always be live concerts and demand for performance, but with it being so easy to cherry pick and choose individual songs, what value and what appreciation does this really lend to the artist? I honestly don’t know how to say what I’m wanting to say here because, well, just consider this. My view is simple, when I was a kid with all of my tapes, I knew them front to back. It was not extremely often that I only begged my mom to buy me such and such’s new cassette because I wanted this one song, or these two songs. I heard something or was attracted to something about that artist themselves, and sure, it could be because of an individual tune, but it was more about the artist, how that artist struck me, or they made me feel in terms of how I feel about myself, or how I feel about a particular subject; maybe the word that could have a wide breakdown is “resonate.” Unlike the individual pick and choose of the mp3 life, I believed in an album, loved the full album because I loved the artist for one reason or another.

Is that even common anymore? I would like to know the ratio of people, say under 20, that listen to music and believe enough in more than one artist to honestly (as in without exaggerating) say they know their albums front to back as opposed to just downloading and moving on with playlists and widely fragmented music libraries and so on.

I will never forget certain parts of my youth, and I’ll bore you (like there’s someone reading this shit) with an example and fond memory of junior high. Gangsta rap and hardcore were huge. Everyone around me was into all this shit that I could not understand, I mean this was not a deep inner-city school surrounded by gang violence and shit, though granted it wasn’t exactly rolling grassy hills suburbia either. Nonetheless, the beats were lame yet aggressive, and everyone was so into that. Me? I was absolutely crazy about Public Enemy. I drew their logo on all of my shit, had several cassettes (some I had to “sneak” and trick my mom into getting because I’d downright rip the Parental Advisory sticker away) and that was one of my big groups. I was interested in the stuff Chuck D was saying even though I probably wasn’t old enough to fully comprehend it all, but I was absorbing it. I knew intelligent hiphop from mind numbing garbage that made some pretend to be much more a badass than they remotely were. I got laughed at and ridiculed by almost everyone I was in school with because “who the hell listens to Public Enemy? How about “pubic” enemy, I used to get that one a lot.

I’m not claiming I’m better than them, I didn’t then, but I thought what the majority was listening to sounded like trash to me so I stuck with my shit no matter what anyone else said and why? I believed in what I believed in, I actually represented it rather hid it or run with a passing phase and be done with that artist a year later. I knew every fucking second of those albums front to back and never got sick of them. That’s only one example. Rather than skip around every second like what is normal now, I absorbed. That was music to me in my youth, it is meant to be like your internal sword and shield thru growing up and you feel it in your heart man. Take another, like Neil Case (known as Beat Dominator and Bass Mekanik), a man producing electronic music that is just music and no words. I was very into his work when I hadn’t barely reached teen age and why? Again, it was in the heart. It wasn’t enjoy a song or two and forget about the rest. No words but it connected to me, and I mean ‘me’. Knew every second of the albums I acquired front to back from so much listening. Kool Moe Dee’s “How Ya Like Me Now” was the very first store bought cassette I ever got, I was almost six, and not only did I know every second of the album by the time I actually was six, I STILL do.

I guess I just don’t really believe that younger people in the modern day, and I do mean right here and now, actually carry such an internal and personal shield and sword thru music or thru an artist or artists anymore. Something about a patchwork shield doesn’t cut it for me (and by that, I mean such a shield as in made up of just two or three songs from this guy, two from this woman, one from this band, etc etc.) I guess that is the way of the world now without question. It’s just a shame though, it’s like something is missing. Something that made owning and fully absorbing a complete album or fully absorbing the work of a musician special in it’s own way. All just gone.

Who knows, I’m not immune to being utterly goofy in the head, maybe this is that sort of situation. All this I’ve written coming from someone who can passionately argue that electronic music is as legitimate a form of music as is anything else. That term “talent” being so viciously attacked when talking about an electronic musician always pissed me off. I choose note for note, sound for sound every passing second of a song I create every rhythm, every harmony, the entire structure of it all, but I cannot possess any talent because I “program” my notes and sounds instead of rolling my fingers on metal strings or swinging my arms at a drum set. I call that logic utter bullshit. Composition, creation, and actually ‘doing’ are what I define as being a musician, not how you’re getting there, just so long as you are doing.

And there I went off on a tangent as I so easily tend to do. But anyway, I’ve maybe made a point on music and generations, or maybe it’s a clusterball. Either way, I’m almost 34, I know damn well I’m not alone in appreciating what is represented inside or out from an artist or a full album as opposed to the pick and choose shuffle that is now. I do sometimes feel much older inside than I am, and I don’t honestly know why.
–BitPusher

Busy Personal Life Stuff, Not Out Though.

Posted in Personal on June 6, 2015 by Q

Indeed, I haven’t touched LSDJ for a little while, haven’t even had an inkling of inspiration for a little while because I’ve been quite busy with that whole adulthood thing.

After 10 years at my job, I recently worked out a two week resignation to begin a new job which is definitely going to be a nice increase in income. This all seemed to move so quickly, and talk about nervous. It felt weird to do the whole resume and interview thing again, and now that I’ve completed the orientation thing, I’ve got alot of new stuff to learn in short order. A friend of mine has been at this job and more or less talked me into it, just something too hard to pass up. I had supervisory status, tenure and job security, and I threw all that away, a gamble, to make a better income for myself. Hopefully, I didn’t just make the biggest mistake of my life.

Suffice it to say, I have been under some stress, but I find myself beginning to miss making my horrible attempts at dropping some kickass chiptunes. I suppose at some point I may yet get to finish my Gameboy album, but in the meantime, shit may finally getting better for me. Time will soon tell.

As a brief side note, I just found out that my main man, my most favorite rapper and lyricist since I just a kiddo (the Prime Minister Pete Nice of 3rd Bass) has a Twitter page at @haulsofshame. This is all for his baseball history project, but hell, I’m just glad to see the man still active in something. I wish so much he’d come back and start making some music again.

Alright folks, much love to my two or three listeners 🙂 Later.
–BitPusher

To Myself, Just Thinking Out Loud.

Posted in Personal on March 19, 2015 by Q

My plans after writing this are to begin a new tune in LSDJ. I don’t know that I’ll get much done though. It’s such difficult and tedious software due to my inexperience with creating instruments in it. The amount of headache and experimenting is massive for me, so it burns me out pretty quickly in one sitting. That said though, I’ve completed three genuine and original Gameboy tunes since I started seriously trying to use it, and my third one, entitled “Nobody Listens To Techno”, http://chipmusic.org/bitpusher2600/music/nobody-listens-to-techno , is awesome and surprising to me as to just how well I feel it came out. It got a couple nods on the chiptune forum I am a member of including a listen and nod from a fairly known name in the genre, a fellow I had talked to a bit back when I was a member of an Atari chiptune forum, and his name is Yerzmyey (that is the correct spelling, still not sure exactly how it’s pronounced.) Someone who is recognized giving a nod, feels awesome. Yerzmyey makes awesome music man, I was crazy about a release he had on 8bitpeoples called FREAKuencies, which was fairly new at the time and how I first ever heard of the guy. When I got to talk with him on that old forum, He was very friendly and even offered words of great encouragement. I won’t forget him as I had just lost my chiptune virginity at that time, making my first few tunes with the console that will always be my favorite from childhood, that beautiful 2600. As ridiculously long and difficult my method was for making that music however (basically Synthcart and hand crafted composition entirely in Audacity), I doubt I’ll do Atari chiptune again, but because of both my undying affinity for the console and because it was my very first foray into creating my own music, that magic number will always be a part of my alias. Oh dear, I’ve started mumbling.

Anyway, music. The truth be told though, and I swear I don’t see this as my usual pessimism, is that I will never be a known or well recognized chiptuner. This is OK though, because admiration or praise have nothing to do with why I make music. If I cared about that, I wouldn’t still be making music. Anyhow, I’ve listened to alot of chip music over the last four or five years, and I lack both the compositional talent and technique to create thick, complex, finely constructed music. These things are what I call “musical vision.” My tunes, I don’t think, are so terrible that they have no rhythm or discernable beat, in fact I know I have a good sense of those things and believe it whole heartedly, but for chords, for complexity, for any real substance, nada. Back when I was DJ’ing, not once did I ever have anyone say to me I was no good, lame, sucked, etc. Whenever I got compliments from anyone, I was almost elated and I’d hang onto that in my head for quite a while. As someone who has never been anywhere near confident inside, that kind of thing is indescribable. 

I understand music and it helps that I’m incredibly comfortable with turntables and unafraid to be a little unconventional with beats and rhythms. Creating your own though, whole different world, it’s like I can hear it and thoroughly understand it, but to conceive my own let alone bring it to life, I just feel as if I’m missing that part of the brain, or at the least haven’t got the strand of talent that makes that possible, not to mention that in terms of creation, I’m thoroughly uneducated, so I go it alone. At the end of my day though, I still like to consider myself a musician, or more specifically a chiptuner, and I do it because of how much I love the freedom of the genre and the whole premise of it: using machines for things which they were not at all intended for. I love the chip sound, the actual sound of video game hardware. The Atari shit that I did, the Gameboy stuff I’m toying with now, these machines were never ever designed to be musical instruments, they were never designed to be used for this form of creation nor do I imagine that the people who conceptualized, designed and built these things ever would’ve conceived someone buying them for the purpose of making music. Yet here I am, because I love their sound and love using them outside of their intent. It feels magnificent to even be trying. Chiptuners seem a dime a dozen in the here and now, it has become so very large a movement, scattered around the globe. I can hear chiptune after chiptune and even this many years later still be fascinated, absolutely fascinated that these various pieces of hardware are being used that way. One thing I will never do is tell anyone who makes chip music, no matter how it sounds that they suck, need improvement, or etc. I can hear a song and not like it at all because the tune itself doesn’t reach me, but I still respect the maker just because they were willing to try and do something using hardware or software that’s can at the least be labeled unconventional, not to mention I’ve been a genuine tech geek since I was a little kid.

The endless capacity for experimentation, creativity, openness, and as I mentioned already the use of hardware far outside it’s design and purpose are what I admire about chiptune and made me want to be a part of it. Prior to discovering chiptune, I was dead set against producing music. I was far more comfortable with manipulating music already made and bending it as I saw fit, that to me was fun. Chip music and everything that is part of its culture was the first thing that ever made me want to really try to create my own music. Like any form of music, creation should be the sincerest form of self expression. I conceive something from some one of a million feelings or impulses inside of me, and attempt to translate it to a decent beat. Not one song I’ve ever completed was done just to make a sound, even if it’s one of those moments that’s so natural or brief that it wouldn’t be something you normally think about or consciously acknowledge.

Maybe I’m sounding goofy or making no sense, hence the problem with thinking out loud, and I’m only writing this stuff right now to do just that. I’m just a weird fellow, and 10 out of 10 women would probably agree. Ha. So yeah, time to get started and see what’ll happen. My dear LSDJ, ever faithful and ready to work.

–BitPusher

Heart Broken Trekkie. Rest In Peace Leonard Nimoy.

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized on February 28, 2015 by Q

I just heard the news only a few minutes ago. I’m not skilled enough with words to express sorrow properly, but I do need to say that I loved Mr. Spock, which is what I admired Leonard Nimoy’s talent for the most. He was an amazing man, and I followed him thru his various ventures in the Star Trek universe, and was a customer of Alien Voices, an audiobook and voice acting company founded by both him and the original Q, John DeLancie.

The world just lost a legend. My eternal thanks for everything you’ve done. As a lifelong Trekkie, it’s a guarantee I will never forget your work and dedication, it will always be some part of my life. My love sir, please rest well.

–BitPusher

*Posted via WordPress for Windows Phone®*

To my mentor: Dr. Huxtable, R.I.P.

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized on December 9, 2011 by Q

I was shocked as hell today to find out about the loss of an old friend and the man I always deemed my mentor, Jon Fox, better known as “The Raggasaurus” Dr. Huxtable or “Doc Hux.” We lost touch quite a while ago, but I remember him very well. I wish to tell the story of how I knew Jon and why he’s my mentor.

I started a job, somewhere in the year 2001 I believe it was at a warehouse called Transworld. I also met a great friend whom I admired and respected named Scott Paris. But anyway, at this point in my life I was just a wannabe, truly going no further than daydreaming about being in the music is so passionately listened to, which for me was primarily old school hiphop and various styles of electronica. I had a monster stack of bass tapes before I was even 13 🙂
Anyway, I loved the art and magic of the DJ, and at the time I had an ultra cheap pair of turntables and mixer from Radio Shack. I met his, at the time, fiance Rachel. We got along in the beginning I believe because I was talking about music nobody else had heard of except her. She told me her man was a DJ after I told her about my little fantasy. Next day, she came in and Jon told her to tell me “tell him if he spins old school, I think that’s awesome” or something along those lines.

Flash forward just a hair, she had arranged for me to meet him after begging her to hook me up. She wanted me to be able to meet him anyway because she knew me by now and knew how much I loved what I was trying to do. Next thing I knew, Jon was arranging to take me along as a guest to sets he was spinning. I got to watch him work first hand many times. It was thru this and a couple times at his house he’d let me get close and learn what he was doing, thus I considered him my mentor because he was teaching me how to DJ. Of all the electronic shit I was into, I had never heard of Speed Garage till Jon introduced me to it and man do I love that stuff to this day.

Jon sold me my first real set of turntables and mixer. I couldn’t afford that shit without winning the lottery ya know? But he sold them to me dirt cheap, I don’t know if its that just wanted the stuff out of his way, he didn’t care about it, or if he really wanted me to have them after hearing what I was trying to work with. It was a pair of motor driven Gemini’s and a 3-channel NuMark club mixer with transformers. With what vinyl I had, this allowed me to finally move beyond just studying and actually hands on practicing. They were “OK” for turntablist (read: scratch technique) stuff, but perfect for beat blending. That was another monumental step in my mind, getting to do the real thing.

I also recall a trip I got to make with him as his Roadie to a show he did in Pennsylvania called SevenSpeed. While up there, I got to do a little cornball freestyling on a stage, and I got to shake hands with DJ Freaky Flow and MC Flipside. We absolutely had to go so I didn’t get to watch their set, but I helped carry Jon’s stuff and set up.

Finally, he gave me the go ahead to come by the studio from time to time to see him do his thing there to. He was the head engineer for CMC Studios at this time. I learnt some neat things about production there, but I never placed a finger on his equipment unless he told me too. I have several memories in my head of stepping out the back door of the engineers box to have a smoke and talk about all kinds of shit. Jon had also put me in touch with whom I needed to be and essentially got me a few gigs back in the days of BB McClains.

In closing, him making efforts to bring me along, to show me how to do things, and being patient knowing how on his Jock I was, I owe that man a lot. Jon seemed to me to be a naturally gracious person. From my vantage, as I said at the beginning, he gave me the means and know how to go from fantasizing about DJ’ing and music to actually doing. I wish I hadn’t lost touch with him, for the times I’ve talked about here are a long time ago. I’ve always had an unending passion for music, hell when I was elementary school it was not uncommon for me to be walking down the hallway with pockets full of cassettes. I was born with passion for music and a natural ability to understand and feel rhythm, but Jon Fox enabled me to step into it and as major a force as music is to my existence, this a much deeper subject than it may sound. His friendship, his knowledge, hell just him being him meant an awful lot to me, and this is the story of why I always labeled him as my mentor.

Jon, I’ll always remember you brother and there’s no way I ever felt I could properly thank you for the stuff you did for me. I’ll never know for certain how inconsequential all of this was or wasn’t to you, but I owe you a lot and Ive missed you for a long time besides. Any and every musical endeavour, I hope you’re seeing it. You brought what I love most to life for me, how much more can one person really impact another’s life?
R.I.P., and once more from the heart and soul, thank you.
  –BitPusher