Riley Hawke

This Week - May 20, 2018

Introduction

This week went by rather fast. I'm still adjusting to the new house, and we're still working on making it a nice home. Even though the house was almost completely renovated before we bought it, there's still so much to do!

I've discovered that I have a slight passion for lawn care? I don't know if I'll ever turn into one of those people that has a perfect lawn, (actually I hope I don't, haha,) but I am really into tools that allow me to keep everything relatively nice without having to use gas/electricity. My parents had this old push reel mower that they let me take, and yesterday I sharpened it for the first time. It just feels nice to go outside and take care of something. Mowing the lawn in this way is such good exercise, too! And it's really satisfying to hear/see the grass getting cut and see the progress I'm making. Push reel mowers work sort of like scissors; there's this cylinder consisting of 4 blades which each scrape across a bar at the bottom of the mower as the wheels turn. And I ordered this thing called a "grass whip" to help me get the dandelions, which the mower doesn't cut. I guess because they're too thick. We have a shit ton of dandelions.

But yeah, even though it's easy to focus on all the things we haven't done yet and feel like horrible people, we're making good progress each day. And soon enough that list will be complete, and we'll just be in regular maintenance mode and have more mental energy to venture into other aspects of life.

Oh, and we ate a lot better this week, too. Although look, I'll be real with you. Even though I value a healthy diet and eat mostly healthy food, I just discovered that our local grocery store makes really good cheese danishes and I had like 6 of them this week. Once you get on that sugar train it's hard to get off!

Photo of the Week

Maybe this is cheating, but... Is this cheating? Someone find out if this is cheating. Wait, this is my blog and I make the rules here. And I say this is cheating.

Oh well, can't win 'em all! Jessica took this picture like 4 weeks ago at the same time she took the photo for the previous blog. Oh the humanity! It's still cool though. I like how the cables look like they're trying to grab you.

What I'm Working On

I did a little more work setting up my studio this week. It's done. Ish. For now. And I also forced myself to go downstairs and at least start on this cover I have in mind. There's a contest over at my go-to music community (Indie Recording Depot) which I'd like to enter. I think it could be a good way to get back into the game a bit. It's a cover contest for the song Fever. I have some ideas of what I'd like to do with it.

That's about it, really. I realize that I have a big opportunity here to start from scratch, and I'd like to take it. So it might take me a little while to get back into music like I was before, but that's okay. It's strange, but the breaks are usually where I see leaps and bounds of improvement. So maybe (probably) I'll find myself in a new place when I get going again. I look forward to it!

What I'm Listening To

I'm think I've mentioned him in this blog before, but I'm a fan of Jocko Willink. He's got a podcast that Jessica listens to a lot, and this week we listened to them together. Specifically, a set of podcasts where he tells the story of Chesty Puller and his son. I've enjoyed it immensely.

For some reason, this story is helping me to realize that I have less control over my life than I often imagine I do. I came up with this quote some years ago: "we can only do what we can do, but we can do what we can do." I'd like to remember that more often. I'd like to measure myself by my efforts, and not by their outcomes.

It's a tricky line to walk; it truly is. Because none of us will ever know all that we're capable of. This is one of those things that reminds me of Life is Strange, actually. Max had the power to rewind time, which gave her this vast runway on which to try harder. You can see in the game that it's driving her a little crazy at times, and I've read some great fan fictions that explore this idea even more. If you're someone that cares deeply and wants to do the right thing, then more power just feels like more responsibility. And how can someone relax, with that? How can someone enjoy their life?

Maybe we just have to decide not to do certain things, to find peace. We have to pick our battles, knowing that maybe we could have won the ones in which we surrendered, and maybe we'll lose the ones that we continue to fight. Maybe I'll get better at choosing. A lot of things come back to the serenity prayer. I think of it often.

Next Week

When I was 24, I quit my job and left Bellevue, WA for the Oregon Coast. Eventually I landed in a cottage for rent in Gold Beach. The owners were a very nice couple who kept chickens, and had a wonderful garden. The man was an elementary school teacher and also played guitar and sang at a local restaurant once in a while. The woman had spent years battling cancer, and come out on the other end after nurturing her body with healthy foods. We spent a little time getting to know each other, but they mostly left me alone. I went to the beach nearly every day to sunbathe and look at the rocks and the water. I explored the small town. I did a lot of journal writing. I don't recall if anybody knew where I was. I'm not sure I was talking to my parents at the time because they weren't supportive of my adventure at first. And I had said goodbye to all of my friends as if we may never speak again. Sometimes, I felt totally free.

After a short while, I began to feel pressure to do something great. Immense, agonizing pressure. It drove me to work on an album for a while. I think it's what also drove me to nosedive from a healthy diet into "experimenting" by eating as much junk food as I could. I remember standing on my scale one day and seeing... haha I can't actually remember the number, but I think it was 135lbs. Which is by far the most I've ever weighed. And feeling as though I'd accomplished something. At one point I wrote this in my journal:

Here I am out in my Gold Beach retreat near the ocean. Here I am hunching over my cell phone for long stretches of time, draining the battery and compulsively checking things, all the while the 3G connection is flaky and frustrating. I forgot about the "no productivity" promise--forgot!!--and assigned an album to myself to be completed. I've got my checklist in my head; eat right, exercise, get sleep and sun, stretch, plan the next phase in life, etc. Things that I can use to judge whether I am okay or not. To keep myself from "going crazy." Constantly treading water to stay afloat. Clenching the ropes of balloons that might fly away if I don't. Anyway, my point is that it is all me. I am stressing myself out. I am walling myself in. I am judging myself, putting pressure on myself. I am truly no more or less happy. No more or less free. I took the leap to let it all go but it didn't just fall of my back like I had imagined. - Aug. 25, 2012

I say this because I still haven't learned how to not put that pressure on myself. And I'd like to, because I think I'll not only be more relaxed and happy, but I'll also accomplish more.

This is what came to mind when I thought about next week. I hope you have a good one. :)


This Week - May 13, 2018

Introduction

So, how to describe the past 2 weeks... 2 weeks ago I was too depressed to write a blog, (which is saying a lot, because I've probably been depressed ever since I started this blog,) and last week I was too busy. I'll skip the long story of how much this move means to me, and just say that it feels like waking up from a bad dream into a world that I might actually want to live in.

It's 6:30am, and I'm probably still too busy to write this blog, but I'll write one anyway since it's so early. This week's been exciting and overwhelming. There's a million little things to do that you wouldn't think of until you're like, "wait, we need a dehumidifier. We need carbon monoxide detectors. We need to mow the lawn before somebody complains. Etc etc etc." On top of it all I had work this week, which was difficult to focus on because of all the things I knew needed to get done around the house. Oh, and since we're not all that settled in yet we've totally neglected cooking. It's been mostly frozen meals and Arby's for the past week. I guess something's gotta give!

I have eaten like 8 of these.

Overall I'm really optimistic. Everything in this house, including the house itself, is mine. It's my responsibility. I am free to make of it what I will, and I'm free to make of my life what I will. I was very unhappy when I laid all the groundwork for this move. I did it so that Jessica and I could have a better future. And now I'm in that future, and I'm very grateful for what my past-self did. It feels like she is dead, and I am here. And I'm just very grateful.

Photo of the Week

Jessica actually took this photo 2 weeks ago for that blog, but it never happened. So here it is now. I built myself a new computer, dedicated just for music. This is basically so that I can have my office (which I use for work,) in a different place from where I make music. That way I can have a larger, dedicated studio space. Anyway this photo is of the inside of the computer. The motherboard has LEDs on it. I think it looks awesome.

Also shout out to Jessica's malfunctioning computer that went on a very dangerous mission to retrieve this photo for the blog this week.

What I'm Working On

Setting up my new studio! There's a good sized room in the basement that I've commandeered for this purpose. This has been really cool. It'll probably be a while before I'm finished, but it's at least functional. Not that I've had any time to make music though, lol.

One thing I want to do that will probably be put off for a while is to make acoustic panels to put around the room. I've got the air ducts going just above the ceiling, which are rather resonant. I realized that my drum kit's resonant heads also resonate. (Duh, I guess, haha.) So I removed some of those. And that the staircase leading down to the basement creates a huge echo. My recording booth helps with this a lot, but I think it'll be an ongoing project to get the room under control.

So yeah! That's about it for now. Here's a photo of the progress I'm making with the set up. My favorite thing is the LED back lights on my desk. I think I'm going to get some twinkly led lights for my recording booth. Cool lighting is one of my favorite things to have in a room!!

What I'm Listening To

Hmmm... nothing, I don't think. I don't really have any speakers right now. Oh! Hahaha, for some reason Jessica and I have had this song stuck in our heads for over a week. I think we heard it at a store. I mean, it's a good song so I'm not really complaining. But it cracks me up.

Next Week

Next week feels a little too soon to accomplish much on my music. I think we still have a lot of setting up and settling in to do around here. But hey, I have a big, dedicated space. I have a dedicated computer. We're looking at the next few years as an "incubation period," of sorts. I am going to work towards having a career in music, and Jessica is going to work towards having a career in programming. This house feels like the perfect place to do that work. Talk to you soon. :)


This Week - April 22, 2018

Introduction

Welcome to limbo. That special place in which your feet are glued to the floor, but time is still ticking away.

Spoiler alert--our move got delayed. Jessica said she's never seen me so upset, which is such a crazy statement to me because we've been together for over 4 years and I am kind of an emotional roller coaster.

We had a 2-week close planned from start to finish, written up in our offer letter. The seller agreed, and we did everything on time. I scrambled to order appliances and have everything ready to go for yesterday. Then a whopping 3 days before close we're informed that the sellers won't be ready, and they didn't even give us a new date. So at this point we're basically delayed for two weeks. Yes, we could take our offer off the table and go find a new house, but that would just be even more hassle for us. So there's basically nothing we can do. A lot of our stuff is already packed and waiting to go.

Emotionally, I already built up this energy of moving, and saying goodbye to this place. I'm at a loss as to how to gracefully deal with this situation. I threw noodles today. Noodles. (The dog got to eat them.) I sometimes get this bloated stomach feeling when I'm stressed (caused by tension in my back, I'm pretty sure,) and I've had that ever since we found out we're delayed. I'm reminded of some of my lyrics from my song Wasteland: "we'll make it out of this place, and then we'll come alive." That's how I feel about this move. I want that incredible feeling of peace and freedom that comes with laying on my own god damned floor. It's been too long! And who knows how much repressed shit I have that's constantly being mildly triggered by being in the house where I spent the first 18 years of my life. All I know is that I'm a different person than I was when we left Bellevue. And not in a good way. Ugh, okay well enough of that. Unfortunately I don't even know what else I have to say in this whole blog. I didn't do anything musical this week because I was getting ready to move, then crying about how we can't move yet, then basically twiddling my thumbs with a question mark over my head and not being able to take a full breath. We'll just do the photo. Let's do the photo. Please tell me we have a photo.

Photo of the Week

And we have a photo! This week it's a photo of my main set of headphones, Sennheiser HD600. They're a bit new; just got them around Black Friday times last year, custom calibrated with Sonarworks to have the flattest EQ response possible. The photo is eye-like. In any case I think it's rad.


This Week - April 15, 2018

Introduction

Oh boy what a week. I also totally forgot about this blog until the last minute. I also just did taxes so lord help me. (Dealing with taxes and health insurance are sure-fire ways to make me really, really mad.)

We had our home inspection this week and no major issues were found so we're moving forward! The plan is to move on Saturday. So... I may write the next blog from our new home! I've already started packing here and there, and we went appliance shopping today to help us decide what we want to get. I think that this week will go by very quickly. And that things are going to get more stressful before they finally get better. Really looking forward to living in our new house though.

Also, we did the live stream yesterday! I think it went quite well! You can watch the replay here.

Photo of the Week

This one is cool! I had no idea what Jessica was doing because I was so busy, but here's the result! She took a picture of some old guitar strings that I save in a bag to someday recycle as scrap metal. I love how it turned out! It's like a guitar string graveyard.

What I'm Working On

Besides moving stuff and preparing for the live stream, not much. I did practice quite a bit last week, and I think it paid off. I was a bit nervous during the live stream, so I relied a lot on my preparation. The one thing that I didn't really prepare for was where I was going to look while I was playing. That took up too much of my brain at the time, haha. "Should I look at the camera? Am I closing my eyes too much? etc. etc. etc." But yeah overall it was fun! I want to do more live streams in the future. And I am so excited to get to set up a new studio space where I can make lots of new videos!

I'm also continuing to practice on SoundGym each day, (seriously I haven't missed a day!) and reading Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio whenever I get a chance.

What I'm Listening To

I listened to some of those CDs I got from the library this week, including some Gorillaz and Daft Punk. This isn't normally the type of music I listen to, which is precisely why I wanted to listen to it! I found Daft Punk to be very groovy, but too repetitive for my tastes. It actually worked well as something to listen to while I was coding. It sort of gave my body something to do (groove!) while my mind worked away. And Gorillaz is just neat. I love that their "band" is made up of cartoon characters. And I've heard more of their songs than I'd thought.

Next Week

Dude, so much packing and shopping (and worrying about my bank account, lol.) I'll keep you posted. :) Until next time!


This Week - April 8, 2018

Introduction

This week has been CRAZY.

Crazy.

What I had planned on doing this week (besides working) is practicing for the live stream next week. I did do that, but not as much as I would have liked to. And I definitely need to do more.

Things were going pretty swimmingly until we got a flat tire on Tuesday. (The potholes here are insane. I'm legit afraid of them now that we had a tire burst.) So that took a couple of days to get sorted because they had to order the new tires. Then on Thursday morning we went to go look at a house. We really liked it. It's smaller than I originally wanted and has carpet everywhere, but we're willing to settle at this point. What's nice about it is that everything is pretty new, such that when we go to sell it in a few years everything will still be pretty new, and it should hold a lot of it's value and not need too much maintenance from us. It's also in the neighborhood we wanted, and on a dead end street.

So anyway, we put in an offer. And it was a really good offer, because last time we put in an offer on a house there were 4 others and ours was not picked. The market is kind of crazy right now and houses are getting snatched up right away. Maybe we got in first. Whatever the case, our offer was accepted that night, and Friday I had some stuff to deal with regarding that, not to mention dealing with my emotions over having just agreed to give someone all of our money in exchange for a house. Yikes.

Then yesterday I went to Koethe's house to practice for the live stream next week. More on that in a bit. And today I got to catch up on some work from last week because I was so distracted by the house that I didn't get as much done as I wanted to. Well, at some point next week things should slow down. Or maybe after the live stream. But oh my gosh in 2 weeks we basically get to move. That will be.. well I'm hoping it will make all the difference in our enjoyment of life. Because quite frankly we've been treading water for a long time now.

Photo of the Week

I don't know what to say about this one. It's not my favorite. We're very tired. However I did have fun editing this photo in Lightroom. There are so many adjustments to play with! I was feeling a little loopy after a long day.. week. My edit is at the top, and Jessica's is beneath it. It's a sort of chime thing sitting on a hi-hat. There's also green painter's tape around the rim to keep the noise down for practicing purposes. Actually, now that I look at this again, it is pretty neat.

What I'm Working On

So as I mentioned earlier, this week was all about practicing for the live stream. My callouses are back and I'm getting more comfortable with the songs. And practicing with Koethe this weekend was truly illuminating. I guess there were a few big things I took away.

One is that just because I can play a song or a part well on my own, doesn't mean I know it well enough to handle new things being thrown at me. I think that over the course of our practicing together I got more used to it, but at first I was really phased by just having someone else playing along with me. Like my brain did a double-take and stopped paying attention to what I was doing in order to pay attention to what he was doing and I had to find the right balance of listening to both. And the more I can make these parts second-nature, the more attention I'll have to give to other things that come up.

Another thing had to do with being able to hear myself. Sometimes it got rather loud, and I couldn't hear myself very well and as a response I actually got even quieter because I wasn't sure I was playing/singing the right thing at all. So I need to work on these parts more so that I have the confidence to perform loud enough when the time comes to match the energy of the song.

Okay and last but certainly not least. I watched back the live stream test that we did, and I really need to work on my uh, stage presence? Granted it was the last thing we recorded and I was tired and hungry, but still. Jessica watched it back with me and said I looked bored and like I didn't want to be there. It was just me focusing and listening closely, not to mention trying really hard not to mess up, but she's right about how it looked. I think it all comes back to practicing more. So that I can deal with twists, have confidence, and be able to relax and have fun with it when the time comes, so that it's more fun to watch.

It's tough to be confronted with all the ways in which we suck. But it's also exactly how we can learn and grow. I always say that if you want to be good at something, you have to be willing to suck at it. So here I am, and if I fail miserably next week then it's a failure on the road to success!

Definitely a valuable experience. As far as diminishing returns goes, I think we got a huge bang-for-the-buck out of rehearsing once before the live stream.

What I'm Listening To

Hmm... nothing? Did I listen to music at all this week? I don't think that I did. I even have a stack of CDs from the library that I have yet to listen to. Well, here's one. Have you heard of Haim? These chicks are super cool. I love the rhythm in their vocals.

Next Week

Well if it was not abundantly clear from the rest of this post I'll be practicing as much as I can for the live stream. I've got some new things to keep in mind and I will do my best. Other than that... home inspections and general freaking out? Check, check and check. Catch you next week.


This Week - April 1, 2018

Introduction

Phew, I spent a lot of time today judging the entries for the Life is Strange Fans music contest. 70 total! I have some rough scores and notes so that I and the other judges can decide on the top 5 later this week.

In other news, what, I don't know. I forgot about this blog post until right now (Sunday evening,) so I'm already sort of burnt out from the day haha.

Photo of the Week

This week, Jessica took a photo of my Sennheiser HD 598s. These are the headphones I used to use for mixing. They're super comfortable and they sound quite good, so I still use them for things like singing practice. I thought this shot looked a bit like an elclipse or something. Kind of spacey in any case. I love it.

What I'm Working On

This week I continued reading my Mixing Secrets book, but more than that I began to get serious about the upcoming Life is Strange Fans Open Mic Night that I'm doing with Koethe. I started practicing more, and really figuring out the details of what we're going to do. I ordered a new HD webcam so that the video will be decent, and yeah. Just a lot of practicing. I haven't played my acoustic guitar that much in a while, so my fingers are rather sore! Two weeks is plenty though to get back in shape. :)

Also this totally doesn't count, but kind of does, but I bought SoundToys 5. It's a collection of FX plugins. I love FX plugins. It was on sale for $209 and I already kind of wanted it, so yay. In truth I flipped a coin because I couldn't decide. I won't get a chance to use the plugins for a little while, and I definitely did not need them. But it was something just for fun. I can buy things just for fun once in a while.

I guess this kind of counts too, if I'm already resorting to plugin purchases, but I organized a bunch of my gear this weekend. If you remember that "studio photo" I had of my basement from one of my first blog posts, that's what I'm talking about. I took down the vocal booth and cleaned everything up. Moved a bit of stuff upstairs to my office. I just decided that for the next while I'm not going to be doing much recording anyway, (focusing on mixing and production,) so I might as well consolidate. I'm glad I did. It felt like my gear was wasting away down there, so now at least it's put away.

What I'm Listening To

This one is easy this week. I discovered this band PVRIS because I saw a short K.Flay video where she was chatting with 2 of her musical friends, one of which was Lights who I already heard of, and another one was Lynn Gunn from PVRIS. Lynn said something that made me think she was a lesbian, so obviously I looked up her band and next thing I knew I was obsessed with this song.

The whole album is actually really good. I'm a fan!

Next Week

Next week I'll definitely continue to focus on practicing for the live stream. That's my priority. And I'll keep plugging away at mixing as well, by continuing to read Mixing Secrets and using SoundGym every morning to train my ears.

I hope you had a nice April Fools day and got pranked at least once! Oh, and a nice Easter too I guess. :)


This Week - March 25, 2018

Introduction

I had a decent week. And I think I made an important discovery about discipline and effective planning, at least as far as it concerns me.

The reason I procrastinate so much is because I put a lot of pressure on myself. You might call it perfectionism, except that I don't tend to care about perfection. I do have standards though, and it feels like the end of the world when I don't meet them. So... maybe that's all perfectionism is, because there's no such thing as perfect for most things. Anyway, this video really hit home for me:

So how does this relate to discipline? I had success sticking to a morning routine. Get up at a certain time, do a few things. If I don't feel like it, I do it anyway. No problem. But there is perhaps a fundamental difference between something like "get out of bed at 6:30AM" and "design an algorithm to solve this complex problem." One is something that I'm capable of doing, basically no matter what. The other? How do I force myself to think creatively, to hold many details in my head at the same time, to just plain have good ideas? I don't think that I can. So how can I have discipline when it comes to work, if I can't actually force myself to work?

Here's the solution I've come up with for now. I plan ahead of time when I'm going to work, and what I'm going to work on. And on my schedule it says:

  • Work, or sit at your desk and do nothing.

This is useful for two reasons. First is the matter of pressure, because there's way less pressure involved in the goal of working for the next hour vs. accomplishing a certain task. And second is the matter of discipline, because in the same way that I can get out of bed at 6:30AM, I can sit at my desk and do nothing. So in the extreme case, I might sit at my desk and do nothing all day long, but of course I won't do that. In practice, I don't even do it for a minute.

This feels like a good solution for me, and I will forge ahead and see how it goes with more time.

Photo of the Week

This week, Jessica pointed her camera at my Eleven Rack. What you see here is just a portion of the bottom of it. I think it turned out awesome, and I especially like the added texture of the vertical lines. Almost like it's raining on something that should never be rained on, haha.

What I'm Working On

Like I said last week, I'm taking time to work on my mixing skills. I did a few things this week relating to that.

First, I dug through some multi-tracks (from a website called Dueling Mixes) that I have saved on my computer, and picked a song to practice mixing on. I tried out some things I had learned in an EQ tutorial, but that's about as far as I got with that.

Second, I bought a one-month pro membership to SoundGym. It's a cool website that has these games you can use to train your ears to hear things like EQ changes, compression settings and more. I'm not sure that all of the games are directly useful, but that the overall skill of being able to listen closely is essential. It's been fun in any case! I actually have an idea for a mixing tutorial type web app. I hope to work on it with Jessica in the coming months.

And last but not least, I bought a couple of (used) books by Mike Senior. His book on mixing is highly regarded as far as I can tell. I'm about 100 pages in and have learned a lot. And I plan to refer to it often as I continue to practice.

What I'm Listening To

I spent some time this week listening closely for tracks to use as "reference tracks." Reference tracks are a mixing tool used to help ground our ears. You know how if you're in a busy place, you might stop hearing the traffic noise? Our brains will quickly acclimate to whatever we're listening to until it sounds rather normal. So it's important to have references of things that actually sound good, so that when we're in the middle of mixing we can check to see that we're still in the right ballpark. That's one of the ideas anyway.

I know I want a Ben Howard song on my list. Something from his latest album. To me, these songs are so well mixed. Here's the one I'm thinking of using at the moment.

And I'll just keep listening critically to music, figuring out what they do well from a mixing perspective, and building up my list of reference tracks. Ha, it's gotten to the point where I can't listen to music while I'm working because I'll sit there and analyze it, and before I know it I'm down a rabbit hole! :D

Next Week

I'm somewhat optimistic. Spring is nearly here. (Or supposed to be anyway...) I'm wrapping my mind around discipline and how I can use it to make my life better. I'm really, really enjoying this exploration into mixing. You know what a sort of motto of mine has been lately? "If I put in a lot of effort over a number of years, wouldn't it be weird if I don't succeed?" So I'm just going to keep working on my weaknesses until I'm making music that is of commercial quality. What else is there to do?

Until next week!


This Week - March 18, 2018

Introduction

I talked last week about how I feel as though I'm going through a growth phase. That continued this week, as I have thought more and more about discipline. I successfully managed a morning routine this week, including waking up early to take the dog out, doing a free-writing exercise and taking a walk. Other than that, I failed pretty hard. But I am working through what's blocking me. I have been using my "Futures" journal sometimes, and it helped with motivation when I did use it. I think I'm headed in the right direction... just have to keep going.

We also put an offer in on a house today. I think it has a reasonable chance of being accepted, which would be huge news. We're so ready to move at this point.

Photo of the Week

We were running out of time this week, so while I worked on the blog, Jessica worked on the photo. She decided to shoot my Nektar Panorama P1 with a painting I did a while back as a background. The idea was that the bits of the control surface that stood up could look sort of like a landscape. I love how it turned out! This "Tools of the Trade" photo series is really shaping up to be cool. :)

What I'm Working On

I released Before It Gets Me this week. I spent some extra time mixing it before hand, and working on the cover art. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Here, take a listen.

I put Moment of Weakness out as a single, mostly so that it would be on Spotify. For that, I had to do a proper album artwork. Sometimes I think that I have the most fun making the album art. :)

I also submitted Moment of Weakness to a handful of blogs on Submit Hub, but it was rejected by them. The feedback I got was encouraging though. The thing is, I don't really expect to be promoted on blogs at this point. I don't feel like the quality is there yet. But it's where I want to go, so I figure I should put my feelers out now and again and get an idea of the reaction.

With that in mind, I've decided to spend a while practicing my mixing skills. I have a bunch of tutorials I want to get through, and a bunch of songs to practice mixing on. It's interesting.. the engineering part of a record is the least important in a way. Engineering will never turn a so-so song into a masterpiece. Engineering is just there to present the masterpiece in the best way possible. But today, it's become a standard. If your song isn't mixed and mastered to a certain standard, it's immediately obvious and written off as amateur. I don't think that professionals (bloggers, music directors, etc.) will even take me seriously unless my stuff is engineered to a certain standard. And so that's something I need to address at some point. Or slowly over time as I get better at the whole deal from start to finish. So I'm taking some time to work on it. I know that I could hire other people to do the engineering, (and I will probably decide to work with a mastering engineer at some point down the road,) but I really want to mix my own material.

I like to learn things in circles. I might watch a tutorial series or read a book, and get a lot out of it. I'll feel equipped with so much new knowledge, and go out and put it to the test. After a while I'll feel ready to learn some more, and while I don't tend to use the same resources, I do seek to hear about the same topics over and over again. Even starting at a fairly beginner level. I always pick up something new, and over time I get a deeper understanding of the concepts.

So anyway, don't expect any new music from me for a while. I'm working on my mixing chops.

What I'm Listening To

I feel like I had something legit to put here, but now I can't remember! Uh, um, some Tori Amos anybody? :D

Next Week

Next week, oh boy next week. I don't know. I need to plan shit better, this is part of my problem. Something that is definitely on my plate is preparing for the Life is Strange Fans open mic night that's in about 4 weeks. Other than that I think I'll create some kind of plan to get better at mixing? And then work on that. I'll probably spend a month or so on it before getting swept away by wanting to create a new song, haha.

I hope you have a great week. Thanks for reading!


This Week - March 11, 2018

Introduction

I didn't have a very good week. Or maybe it was just a tough week. I feel like there's something happening in my life, like I need to grow in some way. You know when something pops up in your life that you inexplicably can't deal with? And maybe there are a few examples that help make it clear where you have a problem? That's what I feel like is happening. It's something to do with... putting pressure on myself, perfectionism, and keeping up appearances. I feel as though I need to change, and that's hard to do. Maybe I can write a song about it or something.

The way I see it, I won't be around tomorrow. Let alone a year from now. Some other woman will be here. She may remember me, but I won't be around to meet her. And I want that woman to have a better life than me. I've started a new journal so that I can write letters to her, and to keep a record of the sacrifices I make so that she can have a better life. Things like exercising when I don't feel like it so that she can be in better shape, sticking with my job even when it's hard so that she can have enough money, finding time to relax even when I can't stand "wasting time," so that maybe someday it won't be so hard for her to find peace. She can look back at this journal and see how much she is loved. And I hope it inspires her to continue to pay it forward.

Photo of the Week

This week we took some macro shots of my guitar's fret board. This one is really cool to me. I can imagine that the photograph is taken from the deck of a boat at night. In the distance you can see the moon reflecting off the water.

What I'm Working On

I did a couple of small things this week.

I have a plan to do podcasts about my songs, and I figured out how I can capture the audio for that so that I'll be good to go whenever I want to do my first one.

I also worked on Before It Gets Me. It's just about finished. I'll come back to it and tweak the mix this week before releasing it. Something I spent a few hours on was actually transition effects in a sense... you'll hear it in the song, right before the second verse. It's this great big swell, and it went through many iterations, lol. I knew how I wanted it to feel, but not how I wanted it to sound. So it took a while to experiment! But I learned some neat tricks along the way.

What I'm Listening To

I didn't listen to a lot of music this week. So I'll just leave you some songs by artists that I think are fantastic.

Next Week

Hmm, thinking about next week makes me feel anxious. Well, realistically I'll probably release Before It Gets Me. Other than that, I have no idea. Catch you next week. Oh, and thanks for reading. :)


This Week - March 3, 2018

Introduction

Firstly, this week I'm really excited that the new Life is Strange Fans music contest has been announced!

This has been in the works for quite a while, and I'm glad it has begun! I'm looking forward to seeing the entries, and I'm very much looking forward to helping someone buy some new audio gear. Home recording is one of my favorite things, and it will be a pleasure to help someone else to start on that journey.

Photo of the Week

My wife enjoys photography, and ever since we met I've been a fan of her photos. I asked her if she'd do a weekly photo for my blog, and we talked about doing a sort of "tools of the trade" series to start off with. So each week we'll have a new photo highlighting some of my gear. Maybe/probably in a cool abstract sort of way. This week, one of my favorite guitar picks is featured. This particular pick is made by a company called Stoneworks. I have a number of these, and they are all beautiful, but I especially like this one. I've always seen it as sort of a factory with smoke rising, but with the back-lighting in this photo it looks more like a fire breathing dragon.

What I'm Working On

I wrote a song like, 6 months ago or so called Before It Gets Me. I was studying the album For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver at the time. A lot of the songs on that album are tuned to A = 425, as opposed to the conventional A = 440. That fascinated me. So I tuned my guitar to A = 425 for Before It Gets Me. I also recorded the kick drum myself on my drum kit, which is the first time I'm using a "live" drum sound in one of my songs. I love how it turned out actually.

So anyway I came across this fully recorded and somewhat mixed song, and was like "this is awesome, why didn't I release this?" It definitely needed some work, but I decided to make it my next project. I listened back over the song with my wife and she helped me discover which parts weren't working. So I took out some of the percussion and extra guitars. Then I re-recorded the vocals because I'm a better singer now than I was 6 months ago, and added a bunch of extra harmonies to give it more of an eerie choral kind of feel. Today I started adding some atmospheric strings as well, to make the sound larger in certain parts.

What I'm Listening To

I listened to Sleeping At Last this week. If you haven't heard of them, it's basically just one guy, Ryan O’Neal. I don't know a ton about him... he does do a podcast, and write blogs. I should probably look into that because he could be a good role model. He's quite successful at getting his music placed in TV and movies. And what's more, I think that some of his music is incredible. He combines these gorgeous, lush arrangements with meaningful lyrics and compelling vocals. I'd like to make music like this! And I'd like to make music that is worthy of TV, movie or game placements at some point in the future. I don't feel like I'm quite there yet, but getting closer all the time.

I know that I posted it on Twitter once, but I'll post it here again. This is my favorite song of his. It makes me cry pretty much every time I hear it. Hashtag goals.

Next Week

I think I could finish Before It Gets Me next week. I also have this Open Mic Night to prepare for, that I'm doing with Koethe. I don't know if this is weird or not, but at any given time I can play very few songs, haha. I just forget them. So I will need to practice a bunch and stay sharp!

Have a lovely week!