Archive for September, 2011

Dark and Long

September 30, 2011

Head Out Of Gutter, You!!!!  This is what I mean.

This video introduced me to Underworld. It was a strange time.  In 1994 grunge was in full swing, and then Kurt Cobain died.  The Beatles (minus John) secretly got together to record tracks over an unfinished song by Lennon, and then released it.  Britpop truly crossed the ocean with Blur’s ‘Parklife’ leading the way (…you can probably argue with me here, but that’s how it was from my perspective). Weezer was born.  Woodstock came back.  New Kids on the Block broke up.

And then there was Underworld: a strange blend of chill electronic, male vocals more akin to a rock band, and surreal lyrics.  The album title said it all, ‘Dubnobasswithmyheadman.’ (Note: my favourite album of all time has the same titlestructure, ‘Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot‘)

Most people know Underworld from Hackers, but I know them from this video, airing late night on The Wedge, where I discovered all of my favourite bands.

This song changed music for me.  It was a droning dance tune that ran four minutes long and had a melody that sounded like it was sung to track…as opposed to sung once, sampled, and repeated.  I imagined these guys on stage with a band, a computer, a synth, and a microphone…rather than two decks and a pyro show.

Sure, Gary Numan had stood on stage and played synth music that could pass for a rock song (and sometimes was!)

But Underworld smashed two worlds together for me and remained unique at the same time…it didn’t sound as much like they were taking parts of rock and parts of electronic and blending…it was like they had created a whole new sound by themselves.

I guess they did smash two worlds together…and then dragged them kicking and screaming underground.  Maybe that’s how they got their name.


I have no money, and want people to hear my new song…

September 29, 2011 could use your album title to send a message!!!

Quick Blog…but here are some quick things you can do:

  • Give it away for free: use Bandcamp or Soundcloud
  • Set a Facebook event on your Fan Page, or an email campaign set to direct people to the song at the same time on the same day (for instance: ‘Share my new song, Friday at Noon)
  • Get friends and other musicians to share a link on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere
That last one is your best bet to success…if a musician shares your song to their fanbase it’s like a friend telling you that something is great: it’s word of mouth…digitally.
Another quick thing you can do…
…look into blogs that play your genre of music…contact them with the mp3, or a YouTube video link…maybe they’ll be nice enough to help ya out!
*wink wink*

Josh Pyke – Only Sparrows

September 28, 2011

Three songs in, it’s already my favourite of 2011.  But I’m biased: I love everything this guy releases.  It has the same songwriting power – hooky yet sad – with lyrics that mean something…read that again, slowly…lyrics    that     MEAN    something.

I once included Josh’s song ‘Middle of the Hill’ in a discussion at school about the ‘Well Written Song.’  The instructor agreed with me!  It’s a great listen, tells a wonderful story, and ties everything back to a relatable concept.  He talks about his life while talking about yours at the same time.

It may not yet beat 2008’s ‘Chimney’s Afire‘ but that album totally destroyed me and I’m still gay for it.  But I can be gay for two albums, right?  It helps Josh is a cutie.


I won’t tell you what to think, but I do highly suggest you give Josh a try if you’ve never heard of him before.  The album is streaming on Groove Shark!  Check it out here!

What Radio and Video Want

September 27, 2011

I wish I ran a radio station…also, a music video network.  I’d like to think my choices would be pretty good, that the music would rock, that opportunities would be given to people who created unique and original music.

Thing is…I know I wouldn’t be able to.  In the end, the bills need to be paid.  Broadcasters don’t exist to play music…they exist to sell ads.  And to do this they need to make sure people are watching and listening.  Experimental folk is unlikely to keep the status quo glued to their seat.

It would keep me…and I’d probably become loyal to any business who advertised during the ‘Experimental Folk’ hour.  But I’m not status quo.  I’m abnormal.

Selling ads.  That’s the whole reason…that’s why stations let television shows interrupt the commercial break, and why radio lets songs get in the way of yet another ‘Two people having a conversation that ends with a cheesy punchline’ ads.  Because they know we aren’t listening for ads, we’re listening for entertainment…so really, it’s a big trick.  A ruse!  …roos?  Hmmm…

What do video stations want?  Easy…I’m going to tell you right now, before you spend $2000 on a video that you KNOW will make it on MTV:


Imagine if you watched videos all day.  You would know a cheap production (even if it’s masked by a clever premise and amazing help from your friend who does colour correction for network television) from a big budget.  Picture the video you want to make sandwiched between this:

And this:

That’s what they’re looking for.  Something that fills the gap.  Obviously, you can’t spend $2,000,000 on your video.  But they are looking for more than just creativity in what you’re filming.  They want POST-production.  Is it broadcast ready, sharp…as a co-worker asks ‘Does it sparkle.’  If you’re serious about getting on Much Music or making an impact with a video do your research: who is directing videos that are getting on TV (in Canada, look at Canadian bands who are making it to air).  That’s the level you have to aim for.

Now…for radio…there are important things to remember as well:

  • If you’re a pop artist, again…EXPECT TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY!
  • If you’re a rock artist, expect a battle (even to make it on your local rock station)
  • If you’re a unique, creative artist…don’t expect to get airplay anywhere
The Foster the People’s, Mumford and Sons’ and Adele’s of the world are few and far between.  They started as bands and musicians unlikely to make it to radio.  They lucked out.  You could too…thing is, I doubt for most artist’s like this, that radio was a goal.
Writing to get on radio is not the way to go…write music that you want to write, and if it’s good, radio will come (…once you’ve built a fanbase, and online presence, and have played many shows, and worked very hard).
It always comes back to the same thing, in my humble opinion…good song, good attitude, and hard (smart) work is what leads to success.  And if it doesn’t lead to success, who cares, you have a good song and feel good about it!
Success shouldn’t be measured in radio spins and video adds.  When you’re successful, you’ll know.

Music Monday: my Favourite tragedy’s new video: “Like This”

September 26, 2011

Every so often an awesome video comes across my desk at work.  I’ve seen lots of fun videos, some that really need a bit more work, but very few have a strong artistic visual feel to accompany the audio.  My Favourite Tragedy’s “Like This” does just that.

And I’m not just a fan because of the two cute gay boys that feature in the narrative. (and full disclosure, it’s also not because I work with these guys…at the company I’m with we only choose artists we enjoy and want to support, not because they’re waving Queenies in our face)

Queenies: I would like this to become a thing

I love the concept that music is the great equalizer, and this video exemplifies the idea.  Genre, labels, and the whole industry is too divisive.  Breaking people up into ‘types’ sucks…in the end, it has nothing to do with the kind of music, it has to do with the song.  A good song is a bridge between genres and tastes.

I hope you all agree with me!  Please check this video out and tell me whether or not you like the track and the beautiful visuals that accompany it!

The Casby’s

September 23, 2011

Hit the CASBY’s last night.  Some quick brain thoughts:

  • USS is really fun live
  • The Sheepdogs are really popular…is there a hippy resurgence on the way?
  • I’m gonna miss Meatus
  • The CASBY’s started in 1981!!!
  • I work for a neat company…since our artist’s swept the awards (minus the whole ‘Edge Session’ thingy)
  • Award Shows are…weird…
I’ve now been to the Indies, The Junos and the Casbys.  I must say…the Indies are so far my favourite, but the Casbys had a lot more raw energy and came across more as a fan-based event (which they are) than the Indies, which felt very corporate.  The Junos were the most amazing presentation…but felt like it would’ve been better to watch at home.
Have you ever been to an award show?  What did you think??

Laziness Deserves Rebirth

September 20, 2011

Before I even start this blog…doesn’t that title sound like a metal band that didn’t quite get how band names work?

I’m constantly trying to find cool projects to work on…I’ve started various one-off blogs, I tried some Twitter accounts for comedic effect, a ‘Word Association’ game online…they all fizzle out.  When I peaked at 25 readers and dropped to 5 it became hard to motivate myself.

Back in 2002, however, I was motivated by no other incentive than to continue a storyline, and was pumping out first 5, then 3, comic strips a week.

…oh yah, did I not mention I used to do a webcomic?

From 2002 to 2005, I drew a comic called “Ignorance Deserves Death” about a hero (anti-hero?) who wakes up in front of a cracked mirror, with amnesia, and also the uncontrollable need to kill people who ignorant.  He befriends a raven, works in a coffee shop, goes to the local bar…everywhere he turns, people are ignorant, but for some reason he gets away with blowing their brains out.

I drew about 300 strips before it fizzled out, around the time I was on my second or third job in Toronto and was falling deeeeeeply into debt.  I had also painted myself into a corner with the storyline…other creatives may be able to relate: I had made a decision that completely changed the world my characters lived in, and it was a neat change at first, but eventually I wanted to go back to the old world…but it was too late.

Of all my projects – music, theatre, blogs – this, I.D.D., is the one that people bring up.  “I miss that comic strip!”  The other day, someone saw a stick figure drawing (…did I mention that I.D.D. was a dynamic stick figure strip?) and was reminded of I.D.D.

I had hundreds of readers each day.  More people read my strip than heard my music, by far.

…and that just gives me the itch.  It’s like an encore…I’m backstage, my work (I thought) is done…but there’s chanting.  Mind you, intermittent chanting by a few people, but it’s still chanting.  It’s a ‘pull.’  I also found these…

Next year is the 10th anniversary of the start of the comic.  Don’t bother trying to find it online, it was pulled in 2007 when I failed to pay the service provider.  I have all the strips in a box, however.  I could start rescanning them, or maybe find the old scans on my computer, and start from the beginning again while figuring out how to resolve problem that stopped it all.

…but maybe it’s time to go back and revisit an old project…

Do you have any old projects that you’ve been wanting to finish, or revisit, or share?  A high school band recording you could upload to Bandcamp or Soundcloud?  Old art you did in university to put online for people to see, or a story you wrote as a kid?  Are you going to do it??  Let me know!



September 19, 2011

Check this out…the throwbacks (probably mostly unintentional, but who knows!) I hear in this music, coupled with a completely original and modern sound, makes me feel super happy.  I won’t ramble, I’ll let you listen!

I’ve had the luck to hear other music from the album…the track ‘Rebels of Love’ is…amazing.  And when I can get you a stream or a vid, I will as soon as possible.  Until then, what do you think??

Awesome Album Cover Friday: Random

September 16, 2011
It’s back!  Rather than bore you with details of people running around in the woods wearing animal costumes or trying to set up an acoustic cover session of a shoe-commercial hiphop song…here are this weeks album covers!
Erick is described as HARD HEADED!!! HAH HAH HAH!
Can’t explain this one…the girl with the guitar just seemed interesting to me!
I SOOOO wanna hear this album now!
…those eyes…are inhuman!  Imagine if he was making duck face!!
Band name for the win!
Awesome design 😀
…just awesome all around
There we have it!  My first full week in months.  You know, I’m ALWAYS rambling on Twitter so if you really wanna keep up, follow @Potoroo.  Cyas!!!

Documenting Songwriting

September 15, 2011

I had an idea pop in my head yesterday.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to just sit down and write songs…I’ve wanted to but continue to distract myself.  It’s kinda like I’m coming into it with fresh eyes and ears…I’ve been immersed in music but haven’t been doing anything with it!

What would happen if I did my best to document the process of writing new songs after about 5 years of nothing.

That kind of stuff interests me…but generally featuring people FAR more interesting than I am.  I guess you can’t really know what’s going to happen until it’s all done. I’ve always loved documentaries.  And I love music.

I guess this is another one of my patented ‘Got an idea, maybe I’ll do it!’ posts.  If I do, I’ll keep you posted.  Thank god for the internet…I just wasted electricity, not paper!

Until then, entertain yourself with Pearl Jam featuring Neil Young: