I'm finishing up the mixing and mastering process for "Play Nice". There's only one new song on the album, a totally electronic song titled "We Hunger". But, "Admire" and "Give It Up" have been reworked, and you can actually already hear them on YouTube.
I don't want to release all my new material at once, which is why there's only one totally new song on the album. We'll see how this goes, and then I'll release more music accordingly.
Ready for this?
I'm almost done re-recording Admire and Give It Up. These songs are proven to be strong, but the original presentation was lacking. Now? Now, they are futuristic landscapes of darkness and dreams. I can't wait for you to hear them!
I'm also putting the final touches on a song called We Hunger, which is a bit of electronica with zero guitars. This song gets rave receptions at gigs, so I'm excited to release it.
A bit of sad news: when I release these new songs, I will be removing some other of my songs from the internet. Honestly, my songs are all demos, and I don't want to release too much at once. I really want to re-record all these songs with a producer in a professional studio, so I don't want the demo forms too "out there."
I've been releasing music for a long time. First, I released music with my old band, Vanguard Villains; next, I released music as Soundstatues.
The successes I've had are pretty stunning to me. I've been on college radio, podcasts, interviews; I get fan mail; I've sold hundreds of albums and gotten tens of thousands of downloads.
But I'm still unknown. I haven't broken through. Why?
Well, first of all, there's a lot of noise out there; everyone is releasing music, and there is no more music industry to sign and develop promising artists.
But, there's also another factor: I'm not playing along. Let me tell you what I mean.
I've resisted presenting my music in a contemporary way. I don't listen to modern music that much; mostly, I listen to music from the 80s, 90s, and classical music. And so, I like blazing guitars, hard-soft dynamics, and a lot of emotion in the music I write. But, that's just not a contemporary sound.
The core songwriting is the key. A song can be presented in a million different ways... Take, for example, 1901 by Phoenix. 1901 is presented in a very modern way: crisp drumming, choppy synths, understated guitar. But, I'm sure 1901 could also be played as a death metal song, a piano tune, or a purely electronic song.
Now, look at my song Admire. It's presented in a very 90s format: soft verse, loud chorus. I love how it sounds, but it's time to admit that this is not contemporary; the guitars are too prominent, the energy is too high.
So, I'm going to restructure my sound. I'm going to explore different arrangements and presentation styles, and hopefully with a few minor tweaks I can turn my songs into a form which will break me through.
While I'm working on this restructuring, I'll release an electro-pop song which I wrote and recorded last fall. This particular song has been getting rave receptions at my shows, and it's very modern, very contemporary. In fact, there are no guitars in the song at all. Expect to hear the song by the end of March 2013, and I'll release an official video this summer.
The kind folks at Jamendo recently conducted an interview with me! You can read it here.
The always-excellent Marco is translating the interview into German and will be posting it on his blog, which is fantastic. See, this is what I love about the new world of music: the power has been given back to the people. I can create music without being owned by record labels, and Marco can write about music without being owned by a magazine. It's a mutually supportive system.
I'm trying to book more shows here in NYC, but it's rather depressing at time. Most of my fans are overseas, so I wind up with very small crowds here in the city. If only I could find a booking agent!
Oh man, I am totally drained.
For the past two months, I've been working very hard on music videos. My stout little MacBook is currently exporting the final video---it's two crocodiles singing "Give It Up" and murdering a squirrel. Seriously.
I'm so drained... I had fish for dinner, went to the local market, and then spent the evening on the couch watching Star Trek the Next Generation. I have no more energy.
But, I'm now sipping on tea and going through my demos. I can't wait to get back to writing music... I think I'll do that this weekend. I've been composing so much electronic and piano-based music over the past months that now I'm itching to break out the guitar.
I used to think of myself first and foremost as a guitarist, but after years of writing music, I now think of myself primarily as a songwriter. I'll never match the guitar prowess of Slash, Eddie Van Halen, or Billy Corgan. But god damn, all I want to do now is write vicious bloody guitar rock.
Great happenings, my friends. I've now released official videos for Admire (acoustic), Independent Glory, and Unexecuted. Today, I'm shooting a video for Give It Up (acoustic).
Now, let's talk free downloads. I always saw the value in an independent artist giving away a few songs for free: it leads to huge exposure, if the music is good enough. It worked for Foster the People, Phoenix, and countless other modern rock bands. In the modern era, there's just SO MUCH music out there on the internet, because it's now so freaking easy for a person to create professional-quality music at home, on a bare-bones budget.
The downside to all this easy-to-produce music is that it's very hard to get heard. Radio and MTV don't matter anymore; music is discovered on the internet.
Look at me. I produce my music in my Brooklyn apartment, and yet, I have listeners all over the entire world. Before the internet era, I'd have to be signed to a label, because recording costs were so astronomical. Now? Invest $1500 and you're all set.
And, in the pre-internet era, the only way to get heard is to be on radio or MTV. And the only way to get on the radio is to have your label spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to bribe the stations (and of course, those bribes are charged to the artist's account, not the label's account). To get on MTV, you need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars making a professional video, and even then, you're at the mercy of MTV's programmers.
Now? Just throw your music online and it'll be heard. But, it's becoming more obvious to me that the only way to get massive exposure is to give away a few free songs.
For example, I allowed Jamendo to host my song Give It Up for a free download on their site. This song has racked up over 30,000 downloads so far, giving me huge exposure, and yes, driving some sales of my other songs. But, I always held back on giving away my catchiest songs... until now.
A gentleman by the name of Marco recently covered me on his blog. Check it out here (you may need to use Google translate, as the page is in Swiss German). After being covered by Marco, I got a huge increase in website traffic and video plays.
So, I've decided to offer Give It Up (acoustic) as a free download, once I finish the music video. This song is a favorite of my listeners, so I'm hopeful that by offering it as a free download, I'll achieve much wider exposure and perhaps the attention of record labels. At this point, I really do need the help of record labels in order to reach the level I seek.
Have you seen the new music videos? Head over to youtube.com/soundstatues to check them out.
Right now, you can watch "Admire (acoustic)", and I'm currently working on a video for "Independent Glory".
I'm all excited, my friends. Just so damn excited!
I've been doing nothing but electronic music recently, and I absolutely love it. I'm programming some ass-kicking beats right now, in fact.
I'd like to produce a short album using nothing but my computer and my voice---no physical instruments at all. It sounds so damn good, and I can't wait to release it.
Though, I'm going to wait a long time before releasing it. My album "Inhumanize" is really picking up steam, and I'd love to go on tour and play the hell out of it. Once that's done, I'll release this electronic album.
Seriously, what the fuck has been going on? God damn, I haven't updated the Captain's Log in far too long! But have no fear, I'm back.
A few weeks ago, I uploaded "Give It Up" to a site called Jamendo. In the past couple of weeks, the song has been downloaded almost twenty thousand times. Incredible!
Not only that, but many people are using this song as backing music to their youtube videos. You can see some examples on the visual page.
So, all I can do is wait. Many people are really digging my music, and now, I just need someone to help me: use my music in film or TV, sign me to a deal, let me go on tour opening for a well-known band. I need something, some type of help. I've done all I can do on my own.
Meanwhile, I'm always working on music. I'm cataloging everything I've written, and I have about 60 or 70 songs waiting in the wings. I'm eager to finish cataloging all these demos and ideas so that I can get back to writing new music; I truly feel that my best work is ahead of me.
Inhumanize is out! And it's about! I'm curious to see how it's received.
After taking a few days off to recover, I find myself itching to continue working. And so, I'll soon be releasing an EP of songs which didn't make it onto "Inhumanize". Think of it as a B-sides album.
Also, I'm working on an actual music video for Give It Up (acoustic).
Hells yes, my friends: Inhumanize is done, it's submitted to my distributor, and it'll be on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon in three days!
I thoroughly fell into the realm of insanity while finishing up this album. I wish so badly that I was successful enough to hand off the music to a professional mixing engineer and mastering engineer, but alas, at this point, it's all on me. And so, I went fucking bonkers.
I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating, I was hallucinating. But I finally got these songs as close to perfection as I can do with my limited resources. Of course, I'd rather have Eric Valentine or Butch Vig produce, I'd rather have Alan Moulder mix it, but like I said, it's all on me.
There are no completely-new songs on this album; rather, I selected the most popular Soundstatues songs out there and completely remixed them, using my newfound knowledge and equipment. I have perhaps 50 really strong songs which I'm not going to relase yet, because I really would rather record them with a professional setup.
And I completely re-recorded the acoustic versions of Give It Up and Admire. Admire now features an actual orchestral section (which I recorded in my apartment). The previous versions of these two songs were mere rough demos I threw onto "Mourning Birds" at the last moment, as an afterthought. They turned out to be best-sellers, much to my dismay... Seriously, those versions from Mourning Birds are so painfully rough.
I can't wait for you to hear it!
A word to all of you who truly feel a calling: there are many who will trivialize you.
I live in Brooklyn. Not only that, I live in Williamsburg, the epicenter of asshole poser "artists." I can't tell you how many artists, painters, writers, musicians, dancers, actors I've met here. And you wanna know a secret?
I've never ONCE met anyone here who has a shred of genuine talent.
The current environment of "rock" music is that of indie. Indie is an ethos which values the lack of talent. If you're talented, you're not indie, and you're not let into the circle. That's just how it is. And so, I'm an outcast in this scene.
And I like it.
I've been pursuing my goals with music for almost 6 years now, and I've held NOTHING back. I've put every drop of my life and blood into this endeavor. That is a fact which very, very few people can understand.
I'm finishing mixing my new album, "Inhumanize". It's a 12-song album: 10 are remixes, and 2 are completely re-recorded versions of previously released demos.
I have, perhaps, over a hundred songs by now which I feel are powerful enough to be heard by an audience. But I don't want to show all my cards at once.
Anyway, I got home from my day job at 530 pm, and I've been working nonstop til now. It's 1am, and I forced myself to stop. But, as I just texted my dear friend... I feel completely manic. I don't want to stop working. I want to stay awake til 6am and keep working, but I have to stop, because I need to be awake for my day job tomorrow.
This is what I mean. When I'm working on my music, I feel ALIVE. It is the only time I actually feel alive, to be honest. When I'm not working on my music, I feel like an actor in a play, where no one else knows I'm an actor. I feel like a drunken zombie. But when I'm working on my music? I feel alive, I feel manic, I feel psychotic. I feel like I've entered the conscious mind into the realm I visit when I'm on psychedelics.
In my dreams, the sky is silver and grey, shot through with streaks of violet and lavender. Incidentally, that's how the sky looks when I'm on psychedelics. That's the world I sense when I'm working on music, where I feel I tap into my true nature.
Well, alas, I have to stop now.
This past weekend, I brought in a professional cellist and recorded the string quartet parts for the new acoustic version of Admire.
It was the first time I heard my compositions played in such a way. Try to see it from my standpoint: I don't play cello, yet I have this complex, intricate string quartet in my mind. The end result is quite delicious... it sounds folk, it sounds classical, it sounds dark and haunting. I can't wait for you to hear it.
Give It Up is also undergoing a revolution of sorts. I'm quite happy with the full-band version heard on Mourning Birds, but the acoustic version is just a demo. Now, the acoustic version has sparse drums and more accurate guitar work.
Vocals, of course, are the absolute key. To that end, I'm recording take after take after take, looking for just the right emotive quality. I'm less concerned with pitch-perfection; as long as the dynamic and emotional aspect is right, I'm happy. The vocal needs to draw the listener in.
Speaking of listening to music, I'm currently at a loss for new bands. Care to recommend some bands for me? I'm listening to Oasis, REO Speedwagon, and Richard Marx. Seriously. These guys know how to write a song.
It has become apparent that the acoustic versions of Give It Up and Admire are my most popular songs, judging by iTunes sales, Spotify, and YouTube...
...which is rather ironic, because those songs are rough draft versions which I threw onto my album at the last minute. I never really put any polish on those songs, because I didn't think they'd be popular. I thought they'd be curious artifacts for listeners.
Well, I was wrong.
And so, I've decided to completely re-record those two songs, giving them the proper level of polish. Admire will now feature a full string quartet, rather than the synth cello on the original version. Yesterday, I spent 9 hours at my desk, composing the four string parts. It was some of the most difficult and gratifying pieces of composition I've ever done. I'll be recording the actual cellists soon.
Give It Up has been reworked acoustically, as well. It's flat-out more palatable and polished, yet it retains the slightly-distressed, rough around the edges quality of the demo.
Once these songs are finished, I'll release them under a new album. All preexisting Soundstatues albums will be removed from the internet, and I'm looking to cut it down to a 9-song album. The previously released songs will be re-released at a future time, when I've had time to tour on them.
And the new album's title? Well, you'll have to wait and see.
I watched a documentary on Queen while having dinner; now there's a phenomenal group of musicians. I don't think there will ever be another group like that, where you have four extremely talented songwriters join together. And Freddie Mercury---there can never be an equal.
A thought occurred to me as I took my nightly walk through my neighborhood: I've taken all I can take from New York. This place has given me so much, and now, there's nothing left here for me. I'm ready to hit the road.
But in order to hit the road, I need help. I need a record label, or a tour manager, or a movie licensing deal.... I need something. I pride myself on keeping the middlemen out of the equation thus far; my music has gone direclty to the listeners, which is how I want it. I value having a more personal relationship with my fans.
And I have no earthly idea how to get help.
But I'm sure something will come through eventually. I regularly get emails from fans now, which I absolutely love. Make no mistake: I am deeply touched when people write to me and tell me how my music affects them. I don't take it lightly.
I've sacrificed so very much in this endeavor, in my attempt to become a successful musician; I've lived like an animal. I've let nothing get in my way. But now, when I see strong music sales, when I get messages from fans---I think of these things when I'm on the filthy subway trains, and I say to myself, "I've got to get past this."
I've spent the past few days composing music in a very different esthetic: string quartet.
Traditional "rock music" composition has become rather boring for me. I have enough strong material for perhaps three or four Soundstatues albums, similar to what you've heard in "Mourning Birds" and "Nightmares and Oddities". So, when it comes to writing new material, I can now focus on other realms.
Mozart is a huge influence on me, and so I was inspired to attempt "classical" forms of composition. A full orchestral piece is a bit beyond me right now, so I figured I'd start small, with a string quartet: cello, viola, and two violins.
It's very, very difficult. Almost nothing I've learned about songwriting is applicable here. It's as if I'm starting all over again, as if I'm a complete newbie.
And I like it.
I'm being pushed in ways with music that I've never had to tackle. I'm certain much of this new work will translate back into my "rock" songwriting, which will be interesting.
Ah, such a dark mood. And pouring Depeche Mode into my head is working out beautifully. I was never huge into Depeche Mode, but these days, they rather make sense to me. Phenomenal musicians, those guys.
So, I've been up to a few interesting things as of late.
The college radio push is in full-swing. So far, two German radio stations have agreed to put Soundstatues into rotation. I'll post back with details once I get confirmation.
I've also had to reject a deal from a major record label, who shall remain nameless. The terms of the contract were laughable---I will never, ever relinquish ANY creative control. But, I remain optimistic that a smart label will offer me a fair deal soon.
As always, I'm writing music. These days, it's rather heavy. I sorta fell in love with the guitar again, and I'm writing some really dark and heavy music. But I've also composed a song (using trumpets, church organ, and bass) which is an homage to The Cure, so what the hell do I know.
It's just hours away... 2012! I'm must admit my excitement about this upcoming year. This is what I have on tap:
I'm bringing my old violin out of storage and I plan on re-learning to play it. Did you know that the violin was my first instrument? I played in the school orchestra for a few years, before switching to guitar. My current obsession with Mozart has me curious about the violin again.
Soundstatues is reaching critical mass in terms of listenership and sales, so the time is right for me to seek manager and label partnership. I'm in contact with several labels, and I'm hopeful that someone will present me with a fair deal. Foremost above all, I demand complete and total ownership over my songs, so we'll see if any labels are willing to work with me rather than own me.
I'm also contacting college radio stations all over the world, hoping to get some airplay.
All in all, it stands to be an eventful year. Who knows, maybe I'll even be able to come play a show near you. Soundstatues fans seem to be spread out all over the world, so it's impossible right now for me to tour. Let's hope we can meet in person soon!
I wish you good health and much happiness in 2012, my friends.
If only you guys could hear what I'm up to these days...
I've been writing music constantly for 5 years now, and Mourning Birds features mostly my early work. Hell, the songs Welcome Home, Unexecuted, and Vacant Earth are some of the very first songs I wrote. If you're reading this Captain's Log, then you're likely a fan due to Mourning Birds. You think of Soundstatues as densely-layered guitar rock, which it most certainly is.
But much evolution takes place over 5 years of composition. These songs I'm writing nowadays... they're not really dense guitar rock. They're dark, brooding, but they incorporate far more electronic elements, piano, orchestras. It's still Soundstatues, but it's evolved.
I pray you'll be able to hear my new work someday. Future albums will not be chronologically accurate, so to speak. You won't be hearing my develop in real-time, which is something I'm very glad about. You'll be hearing all stages of my evolution at once.
Look at Radiohead: they have evolved remarkably over their career, yet they always sound like Radiohead. But if you fell in love with The Bends when it was released, you might not be too happy with Hail to the Thief, because they're just so damn different.
I'm hoping that I can avoid any such problems with my releases. That's why Soundstatues current discography is so varied: acoustic songs, dense guitar rock, electronica, piano-based songs. I don't want anyone to think Soundstatues is just one style of music, because my compositional interests are much more varied than that.
Good night, friends.
I've been getting quite a few requests for guitar tabs and sheet music for Soundstatues songs. Also, my data tracking shows that a lot of people are searching for how to play my songs; some people even want guitar tutorial videos.
Have no fear, my friends! First and foremost, I am a guitarist, so I am very happy that people want to play my songs! I'm going to post a "guitar tabs" section on this website soon, but it might take a while, as I'm currently busy with composing new material.
Not only will you have accurate guitar tabs, but I'll also post guitar tutorial videos on the Soundstatues YouTube channel. Certain songs, like Admire and Give It Up, are built on unique guitar riffs, which are easier to learn on video.
Join the Soundstatues Facebook page to stay updated!
Yes, my comrades--MOAR.
I've been writing music full-tilt for over five years now, and I've amassed a colossally huge catalog of songs. Seriously, there's so much music here. I've stored all these songs and ideas on my hard drives, and I'm sifting through it right now. There's just so damn much----I'm overwhelmed.
Much of this past work deserves to be released, but at current rates, it takes me about one month to release a four-song EP. And I can't just professionally record all my old material; I need to devote a significant amount of time to composing new material, because the new compositions keep me interested, they keep me fresh. And they ensure I evolve as a composer.
Look at it this way: I haven't even had time to sit and enjoy playing guitar since FEBRUARY 2011. My gorgeous, toneful Gibson Les Paul is sitting in its case, and it comes out only for recording sessions. All my time is taken up by studio work: arrangements, production, mixing. Also, I have to spend time on vocal exercises, piano lessons... I just don't have time to accomplish all I want to do.
On the other hand, I'm in the enviable position of having more strong material than I can record right now. I do believe I've amassed a career's worth of strong music, to the point where I can just stop composing and spend a few years professionally recording all my previous songs. But I would feel constricted and suffocated if I stopped composing, so I just end up freaking out and having a spot of wine to calm down. Speaking of which, you'll have to excuse me.....
You might have noticed that the old YouTube videos for "Mourning Birds" seem to have disappeard.
Well, actually, I deleted the old videos and uploaded new versions. The old videos had some audio glitches in them, which I've corrected with the new videos. I also added some neat-o pictures to the vids.
So drop by my YouTube channel, check out the videos, and share em around on Facebook!
I recently took a look at the sales numbers for Mourning Birds, and the results are heart-warming: a lot of people are actually purchasing my music from iTunes and Amazon. The top-selling songs are Independent Glory, Admire, and Give It Up.
Please, make no mistake: when you purchase my music, you're giving me the most real, concrete support possible. It's not just a matter of money (I do have a day-job which takes care of my bills); it's much more than that. When you buy my music, you're showing that my work has real value, that it can mean something to people.
My goal is to bring Soundstatues to as large of an audience as possible. I never said I wanted to be someone's little darling, someone who is always unknown. I greatly admire what Muse, The Killers, and Kings of Leon have achieved as rock bands in the new music world, and I believe Soundstatues is good enough to join them. I want to take this show on the road and play concerts to all who enjoy Soundstatues.
I truly love being fully independent, but eventually, I'll need help from labels and managers in order to reach my goals. Now that people are actually purchasing my music, I look that much more attractive to the investors whose help I need.
It is my hope to reach as many people as possible before becoming involved with record labels, and in this modern age, it's damn well possible. So, thanks for your support!
It's Friday night. And the mood, to be sure, is right. Have you heard of Tripel Horse? It's a local brew from New Jersey, and it wound up here in my tiny Brooklyn neighborhood. It's a powerful brew (10%alc), and I'm quite enjoying the night. Naturally, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is on my Xbox whilst I work.
I'm digging through my backlog of songs. These are songs, riffs, and various musical ideas which I've accumulated over these past five years. Some of these ideas are quite good, and I'm making a spreadsheet of which songs and ideas I want to use (remember: I'm a scientist and prone to psychotic data analysis).
The plan is that I'll steadily release these songs as 5-song EP's over the next year. But, who knows: I could very well become too busy with touring and re-recording by then.
Anyway, it's an exhilirating journey through my personal past when I listen to these old demoes I wrote. I can clearly picture where I was, what I was doing when I composed these bits of music. I can picture cemetaries, girls I've loved, the heat of summers, the cold of winters, the agony of isolation, the joy of friendship, the exhaustion of work, hunger, happiness, playing Halo, close calls with disaster...
Always keep in mind: when you listen to my music, you listen to my life. I've been through some terrible things; make no mistake, I've been through hell. If you've been through hell, too, then that makes us comrades. Let us rejoice in comradeship.
Long ago, I decided that I'd use these terrible things to create powerful work, thereby gaining mastery over my life. Because that's the key, you know. You can let the demons destroy you, or you can harness them and use them to your advantage.
Nightmares and Oddities
Dec 15, 2011 (estimated)
1. Eyes Open
2. The Return
3. Burning Down Rome
4. Lone View
5. In the Face of Injustice
As usual, you'll be able to stream the songs from YouTube, soundstatues.com, Grooveshark, and Spotify. Or, you can dowload the EP from iTunes and Amazon.
Lyrics and song info will be available on this website.
I'm pretty excited about this EP---two of the songs were composed on piano, and the other three songs are built around acoustic guitar. If you like previous Soundstatues music, then you'll definitely want to check out this upcoming EP.
I'll be posting updates on the Soundstatues Facebook page, along with some pics and maybe even videos, so stay in touch!