My dad passed away on Tuesday, March 28th, about two days ago as I write this. He was a very private person, and normally I am too when it comes to things like this, so it took me a couple of days to decide to go ahead and open up publicly about what his life meant to me, and how his death changes things.
Aside from the obvious things every parent passes on to their children, the greatest gift my dad gave to me was an appreciation of high quality sound and music. Both he and my mother have always done what they can to support my musical pursuits, and that continues even now. But I’ll get back to that later.
Growing up, my parents always sang in church choirs, and I grew accustomed to hearing vocal harmonies as a regular and important feature of music. My tastes in music, while sometimes wildly different from my dad’s, have always tended toward lush harmonies. We shared a love of those harmonies, and I will miss listening to those kinds of recordings with him.
My dad didn’t have a lot of synthesizer-based music, certainly nothing like modern EDM or Kraftwerk or YMO, but he introduced me to what is arguably still my favorite synth album of all time, Wendy Carlos’ “Switched-On Brandenburgs”. The sound of Bach’s epic orchestral pieces performed brilliantly by Ms. Carlos on a modular Moog is still emotionally moving to me even after quite literally (according to my play count on iTunes) hundreds of plays.
As I got more into creating my own synth based music, I eventually bought my own small Moog synthesizer, and lamented the fact that it had no white noise source. My dad set to work building a small custom analog noise generator. He loved to work with electronics, and his years as a professional technician meant he was really efficient at it. We eventually named the module “Noizilla” and even discussed marketing it. We had discussed creating some other custom generators and effects.
My dad and I used to talk about social media, and where to draw the line in terms of sharing openly with the world. For us, it’s not a matter of personal embarrassment, or fear of identify theft, or other concerns for ourselves. The biggest issue is that other people are always involved. It’s very difficult to mention a major life event without also ‘outing’ other people who have participated in that event. So particularly when the event is negative, it’s easy to paint oneself as the ‘hero’ and dump all over other people involved, and that doesn’t seem like a fair portrayal in most situations.
Also, it often seems like a plea for attention, and neither of us are looking for that. Except, wait, I totally am. Sorta.
Here’s the thing. My life has had a lot of bumps and sharp turns and pitfalls and things just not going as planned. If you were to start writing a story about a total loser according to American stereotypes, I might be your protagonist. Without getting too much into the specifics I am very much living off of the generosity of others right now, trying to rebuild my life as a musician. And the person who most helped me figure out that I needed to do that was my dad. I don’t want to minimize the contributions of other family and friends, because there were and are several people contributing financially and emotionally to my continued pursuit of music in the face of overwhelming odds. But my dad has to top the list. He was the first person to put his resources on the line and allow me to stop being practical and just focus on music full time. The rest of my family was, and is, graciously attempting to continue that support, and it is really tough, because without him resources are even tighter.
I miss my dad. I want to honor his memory, and the best way I can think of to do that is to continue on the path he helped put me on. It feels selfish sometimes, since I know how much sacrifice it is for my family and friends. It’s especially difficult with an artist like me who does things far from the mainstream. I don’t know how long it will take to build an audience. I don’t know how lucrative it will be once I have an audience. I only know that I have to make the art that comes to me, and hope it finds its way to the people who will appreciate it.
My current project, focused around the Pulse Depravity album re-work, is representative of my most experimental and perhaps ‘darkest’ work. Going forward, I will also be doing music based on classical works, video games, my own ‘synth pop’ style songs, and ‘cover versions’ of popular songs from a wide variety of genres. A lot will depend on who I meet and work with, and what kinds of resources are available. I want to make music that people will love, while still being true to the sounds and ideas that come naturally to me. I hope that eventually all the people who have believed in and supported me, and continue to do so, will see that work pay off somehow. No one does anything alone. We all require so much support in so many ways. I lost one of my strongest supporters, but I have to stay strong and not let that support be in vain, and that’s what I intend to do.
I realize that when something like this happens, people want to help. I really appreciate that, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know what will help the most right now. Obviously money is always helpful, but I don’t want people to buy music they wouldn’t otherwise buy out of sympathy, much as I appreciate the gesture. Sure, if you want to buy my music because you like it and want to listen, that would be fantastic, but there are other things that might allow us to establish a more honest relationship. First of all, if you like or don’t like something about my music, my artwork, my videos, please say something! Feedback is the most useful thing, especially at this stage of my re-boot. I have no idea what people really want or don’t want, if I’m communicating my messages well, if people can even find the content I’m trying to distribute, unless I get feedback. If you want to contribute financially, but don’t necessarily care about downloads (for example, if you just like Spotify or YouTube), you can always donate via my Artist Union page. By far, the best way anyone can help right now, however, is simply by sharing like crazy. Like and follow and share everything, a lot. Make your friends wonder why you keep sharing my stuff, so they get curious and start listening, because even if maybe you’re some crazy person who doesn’t happen to love the music I make, your friends might be!