Friday, March 27, 2015

The Necessity of Other Creative Outlets

I've been writing since I was fifteen years old. Obviously my early stuff was not very well executed (some could argue that my current stuff falls under the same descriptor), but I was doing it and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was also playing the bass guitar at the time, which later got me into a pop-punk band where I had a phenomenal time playing shows around Kansas City. With the band, I got to experience that perfect little bubble of time where four guys playing different instruments completely nail their parts and it seems, at least for awhile, impossible to screw up a song. It is a singularly amazing experience to feel that kind of absolute and perfect synchronicity with your band mates, one that's always hard to describe to people who've never played live in front of crowds before. I call it the "Midas Moment" as everything you do seems to be absolute gold. You are unstoppable.

During my time in the band, I was writing less of my own personal creative stuff and focusing more on the musical. I had three other people depending on me to be on top of my game, so I practiced both at home and with them. Long summer days spent in our drummer's basement before we all went to our jobs in the early afternoon or early evening. Hours upon hours of practice. Some days were brutal or unproductive; others the complete reverse, finding the completion of songs or perfect edits to pieces we had long thought finished.

College came. I was writing again, but bad poetry this time as opposed to stories. You know the kind of poetry I mean; youthful in style and content, overly emotional, fraught with awful metaphors and similes, and just painful to read years later. But I was writing. I was creating. I had an outlet for whatever creative ADD I had bubbling and brewing inside me. Then I flunked out of college, came home, began working and trying to figure out what life was going to throw my way next.

As it happens, turntables and vinyl records were next. I'd gotten into electronic music and hip hop late in high school and was given a kind of musical education by a friend's older brother. Over the next few years, I practiced matching beats and learning to EQ levels between tracks. From 2001-2009, I played a large number of shows around Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha, even a few scattered about the plains of Iowa. Music had wormed its way into my brain again, albeit in a different and more solitary form than what being in a band entailed.

Towards the end of my time in Kansas City, I was given a residency at a friend's sushi restaurant and told to just "do what you do." My friend knew that I understood it was a restaurant and not a club, so he told me to play whatever I felt appropriate. As it happened, this experience became a kind of musical lab for me, experimenting with various styles of music mixed with seemingly disparate other styles, forcing them to work well together. It was a fantastic experience that allowed me to play in the purest sense fusing styles and genres into one cohesive form over the course of several hours. If my experiments didn't work one night, they would during another. It was playful and helped me to push my own boundaries in a way that running a different kind of weekly club night didn't always allow.

In 2009, I moved to San Francisco for grad school (MFA in Writing). Torn between the decision to save my book collection (which filled my bedroom) or my record collection (which filled an entire storage unit), I opted to sell the records I had been collecting since the beginning of the decade. I can't even properly describe how that decision ruined me. So many great records cultivated and curated and I had to give up all but the most important ones.

Over the last six years, I've completed one novel (in need of serious revision), halfway completed two others, completed one full short story collection and am nearly finished with a second. I've been busy and it's been good. The payout for publication of these pieces is less immediate and more long-term; where one week's gig dj-ing might land another for the following week, it can take months, if not up to a year and a half before I hear anything back about a single story being picked up for publication, and even then, the publication may not be a paying one. This is the reality; this is the trade off.

The holidays during the winter tend to find me at a creative standstill with the writing. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's ends and we're immediately into the next one. For me, there's not a lot of mental breathing space, so my creative output tends to decrease during this time of year and it's exceedingly hard to get back into the swing of things once the new year starts. Other outlets are necessary. I've done some fun collage work with friends, which gave way to some fun finished products, but it wasn't the same. These same friends, however, knew that I was heavy into music before moving to San Francisco. An unbelievably giving crew, they all chipped in to purchase a dj controller for me that worked in tandem with the software I already had. Since that purchase, I have been creating new mixes of music that have been bubbling and brewing inside my musical mind for the last six years. You can find all links to all those mixes at the bottom of this post.

This is all to say...go out and create. If you find yourself listless and bored, anxious for some kind of newness, don't turn down the opportunity to create something, even if it's not your normal medium. I've found that the creative mind doesn't really stay mired in one area but reaches out with tentacled arms into all others with relative ease. Even if you're more interested or educated in one area, your brain is built to explore, so one set of skills (I believe) translate easily into another set of skills. Your brain will allow certain things to foment if you're open to trying and you'll still be feeding the creative monster that lives inside your head.

Mamet was half-right when he used "ABC" as "Always Be Closing" in his play Glengarry Glen Ross...

Always Be Creating.

As for the mixes below, please excuse some of the iffy mixing in some of them. I'm working without a monitor currently, so I'm not able to hear how some of the EQ-ing meshes in real time, but considering that...I'm VERY happy with the outcomes.

Bourbon & Blunts: Autumn
(Jazzy HipHop/Instrumentals)

Les Loups – “Elephant & Ivory (Vanilla Instrumental Remix)”
Notorious B.I.G. – “One More Chance (Woody remix, ft. Carlitta Durand)”
Mono Massive x Vertical Vertigo – “Can’t Let Go (Figub Brazlevic Remix)”
Common Sense – “Nuthin’ to Do (Instrumental)”
The Pharcyde – “Devil Music”
Dj Four One One – “Highest Melodies”
Noza – “Dear Old Budapest”
The Roots – “Distortion to Static”
Es Nine – “Madness”
Ronny Jordan & Dj Spinna – “Mackin’”
Jazz Liberatorz – “The Return (ft. Sadat X)”
C-Swing – “Obese Request”
Ice Cube – “You Know How We Do It”

The Bounce Kitchen, Vol. III

Tropics – “Popup Cinema”
Moon Boots – “Sugar”
Rae & Christian – “Divine Sounds”
Rae & Christian – “Swimming Pool”
Andy Caldwell – “Warrior”
Dam Funk – “Hood Pass Intact”
Dwele – “Let Your Hair Down”
Nate James – “Funkdefining”
Vikter Duplaix – “Temple of Thoughts”
Le Nonsense – “Kaer (Original Mix)”
Alteria – “Prasso (Piano House Mix)”
Crayon – “Give You Up, feat. KLP (Darius Remix)”
Luc Angenehm – “Morning Tea (Original Mix)”

The Bounce Kitchen, Vol. II
(Deep House)

Kogyo - "Across the Border (Giuliano Rodriguez Remix)"
Brooklyn Guy - "Scat (Be Scat Mix)"
Boston Beach - "Heart Deep (American Dreams Deep Mix)"
Mr. Mason - "Chill Forever"
Deep Republic - "Deep Loop of Other Times (Marius Fareneit Mix)"
Fashion Man - "TNT (Deep Scat Mix)"
Modell & Mercier - "Love Melody (Light & Passerella Mix)"
The Silk Man - "The Spirit (Private Mix)"
Aquatic - "Similar Bodies"
Karasto - "Funkbass"
Times Square Vibes - "Femme (New York Deep Mix)"
Zero Beats - "Kiss Me on the Beach (Maurice's Rising Mix)"
Bag2Gab - "Bag Bass (Original Mix)"
Submantra - "Lilly (Original Mix)"
Emanuel Satie - "Gold"
Fake Forward & Amba Shepherd "Rewind (Aidan Lavelle Remix)"
Liquid Rainbow - "I Know That You Know That I Know That You Know (Giuliano Rodriguez Remix)"
Damolh33 - "Go On"

Morning Glow

Basement Jaxx - "Just One Kiss (Accapella)"
Luvian - "Haze"
Dj Krush - "Beyond Crashing Waves"
Soul Bossa Trio - "Naima"
DePhazz - "Nu Chic"
Sade - "Skin"
JaysWays - "Surround Me (Cosmo's Midnight Mix)"
Lemongrass - "Balcony"
Yasmine - "Sunrise Ruby"
Mo Horizons - "African Sunset"
Miso Shiru - "Gush" 
Reggie B - "Hypnotic (ft. Donald Hays)"
Dzihan & Kamien - "Ford Transit"

The Bounce Kitchen, Vol. I

Full Crate & Mar – “Man X Woman”
WastedPeople – “She’s Playing Hard to Get (Gabriel Slick Remix)”
Dwele – “The Truth (J. Paul Getto Afterparty Remix)”
Heart Groove – “Sad Sea Waves (Deepsoul Mix)”
AlunaGeorge – “You Know You Like It (Wilfred Giroux Remix)”
Harness and Spencer – “Taboo Jazz”
Biboulakis – “La Bulgare”
Demarkus Lewis – “Your Touch (D’s Lush Instrumental)”
Oliver Desmet & Oriental Funk Stew – “Hot on Your Trail (Frequent Fliers)”
Kevin Yost – “Stronger Love”
Mr. Nice Legs – “Summertime”
Alicia Keys – “Rock Wit U (Hannes Fischer Remix)”

Deep Thump 2015
(Deep Tech/Deep House)

The Razor - "Hauzor (Detroit Mix)"
Saccao & Jean Bacarreza - "G&G (L.O.O.P. Remix)"
Stage Rockers & Papa Martin - "You Can More (Original Mix)"
Urmet K. ft. Millie Mad Docks - "Dreamz (Jody Wisternoff Remix)"
Earstrip & Torha - "The King (Original Mix)"
Dirty Minds - "I'm For Pleasure (Claptone Remix)"
Angelo Ferreri - "First Question (Original Mix)"
Jay Lumen - "The Reason (Space Shaker Remix)"
Maceo Plex - "Conjure Superstar (Original Mix)"