Happy New Year! It’s 1:44 AM and I have a sudden urge to blog.
Which I haven’t done in almost half a year, which is probably not the best promotional strategy for two albums after a 9-year recording hiatus. I’ve been guilty of hugely long and detailed entries on the making/meaning of my music in the past, and maybe I’ll get that urge in the future as well. But I’ve wanted The Hard Bargain and Do The Math to speak for themselves, and to let people draw their own conclusions as to what each album “means.”
But: it’s a new year, and I’m feeling talkative, so let me talk about the releases – and their aftermath – a little bit.
The reception to the albums, for me, has been very gratifying, albeit very mixed. At this point in my life, it seems ridiculous to release art or entertainment into the public and then act as if you don’t care what the reaction is – of COURSE you care. You simply don’t go through the time and effort of creating this stuff for public consumption if you don’t. So, half a year out from releasing them, I can say that I’m very happy (and a little relieved) with the way they’ve been received overall, even though there seems to be absolutely no consensus about them.
This has kind of been the story of my life for as long as I’ve been doing music. Plenty of people who liked my music in my late teens or early ’20s didn’t go for Disruption Theory. There were a number of people who really dug Disruption Theory, but thought that Normalized (and the whole turntablist guitar/live-looping virtuoso angle) was a disappointment. When I was doing a ton of live shows in the mid-2000s, some listeners who really liked Normalized didn’t dig the growing integration of melodies, covers, and more overt “guitar-isms” into my sets.
And it’s still the case with the two new ones. There are people who’ve followed my stuff for a long time who think it’s the best work I’ve ever done. Some other long-time supporters have been totally silent about them, even as we’ve spoken about many other things since the release. Reviews have generally been very positive (the good ones almost embarrassingly so!), and the more negative ones have still been very thoughtful and respectful – no hatchet jobs thus far.
Do The Math is slightly more popular, both in terms of sales/downloads and reactions that I’ve heard. I originally conceived of Do The Math as being “the difficult one,” so that’s a surprise (albiet a pleasant one). The Hard Bargain was conceived as a straight-ahead rock album, and seems to have ended up being the more challenging, “difficult” listen of the two. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have interesting conclusion about that – for my part? OK! It is what it is.
At this point, I’m clearly not trying to make the same kind of album each time I put one out. Many of my favorite recording artists have wildly eclectic discographies, and pretty much any of them have at least one or two albums that I’ve never really warmed up to. The needy validation seeker in me loves getting praise, but the art school situationist in me cackles with glee at throwing curve balls.
And really: it’s kind of amazing that anyone at all takes the time to pay attention to what I’m doing. So: THANK YOU FOR YOUR LISTENING. If you’ve enjoyed the new stuff, I’m delighted. If you haven’t, I totally respect your opinion, and hope you’ll see if my subsequent stuff piques your interest more.
I haven’t really talked about the whole “money + music” thing, for two main reasons. The first is that a lot of people are already talking about it, and doing so more eloquently and meaningfully than I could hope to. And the second is that I’m kind of sick of thinking about it.
I mean, it NEEDS to be discussed, absolutely. It’s crucial. But it’s gotten to the point where a lot of musicians and critics, whose work I really enjoy, seem to spend more time talking about the financial hardships of being a musician than they do talking about actual music. And that’s not a complaint – like I say, it’s important that this be an ongoing dialogue. Right now, though, I simply don’t want my music to be a leading question in a discussion on the economics of 21st century creativity.
I’ll put it this way: when a fellow musician recently asked me how the Bandcamp pay-what-you-like thing has worked out, my response was: “I’m pleasantly surprised at how much money I’ve made, and unpleasantly surprised at how hard it is to give the stuff away.” I don’t mind talking about this stuff with people privately, but for right now I’m going to be old-fashioned, pretentious, and/or naive, and let the music itself be the focus.
A few other quick bits:
No, I don’t hate live looping, I haven’t sold my Echoplexes, I’m not swearing off that stuff by any means. This interview with Scott Collins goes into a good amount of detail about all of that. Right now, I’m very inspired by a lot of different musical possibilities, and live looping isn’t at the top of the list. But at some point I very strongly suspect I’ll do more of that stuff. Speaking of which…
Am I playing live gigs as Andre LaFosse, Solo Artiste? My answer here is actually very similar to the looping one (which makes sense, I guess, since those two things have been intertwined with me for a long time.) Basically, I’m not opposed to the idea, but neither am I chomping at the bit to play. I spent a lot of time in the mid-2000’s doing a lot of gigs, and having no interest in recording, and right now I’m in pretty much the opposite position. Here again: at some point I’m sure I’ll be playing live as a solo artist. I don’t know what form that will take, or exactly what kind of technology (or lack thereof) I might be using. When it makes sense to put my energies into that direction, I’ll do it. In the meantime, there’s a ton of directions I want to pursue in the world of recorded music.
Once gain: my very serious thanks to everyone and anyone for listening.