A Darker Figure #65: A personal [product] music history
Welcome to A Darker Figure #65! Before I get into the personal history self-satisfaction bullshit, I have a few things going on:
- [product] and Sky Symbol Rituals in Everett, WA tomorrow!
- Next Thursday The Blood of Others is opening for HAEX here in Portland at The Lovecraft, if you live in town please come out! They are a newer band and one that I enjoy, so I think you will too!
- June 10th, I will be doing a Sky Symbol Rituals set for Volt Divers. I am working on some new stuff for this one that will connect to the original 30 minute set, which was released here!
- I am about half way through Alexander Maksik's Shelter In Place and I highly recommend checking it out. It is written almost directly to my taste. Really well done.
Okay! Here is a personal [product] history, from my extremely biased point of view, of the music projects that I have been in / produced solo. Why you ask? Because I was going through a lot of the tracks this week trying to find fun songs to play live in Everett tomorrow and I realized that I am still a fan of a lot of the stuff that I made! And sometimes it is good to just go back and see what happened. P.S. No one asked for this. :)
"Ensemble of Sirens" from the demo placement.
Heavily influenced by bands like Tactical Sekt and Psyclon Nine I started to make aggrotech music under the name [product]. The goal was to be screamy and fast and dance-able. Some of the things that I took from the bands that I loved were the high and fast synth lines that were just layered until it became kind of a mess of melodies. The earliest demo, placement, and the first songs that I wrote solo - after spending a few years developing a band called [injekted] in high school - are some that I still go back to with fond memories. The only thing that I kind of cringe at are the lyrics, which were/are shallow and dishonest in a way that I can tell is just trying to fit the things in the places where I thought words should go. It is funny going back and reading the lyrics now because they fit pretty well in the music - cadence-wise - but the themes are all over the place. "Ensemble of Sirens," which is the first song for [product] and one that I still really enjoy playing, is some jumbled mess of a murder story? I am not sure.
"The Principal" from the demo reassignment.
I was under the impression at the time, and I still am in a way, that you had to hit it hard right away. Whether you were playing live or putting out a demo, you have to go in from track 1 and put your best stuff first. "The Principal", like "Ensemble of Sirens," is the first track on the second demo. I believe at this time I was sneaking in to a club night in town called Hive, which had an outside area that I could just blow passed the bar and hang out in. I remember giving a physical copy of this demo to one of the DJs, who played "Mechanical Fear" in mono and it completely fell apart. That was way before I knew how to mix anything and I am surprised that they still sound this... together? I found a server online that had a shit ton of Twilight Zone samples for free download and would pretty much go through those for days and find super sad or weird ones. It was awesome. I still haven't seen all of the show. It was less about the moments in the show and more about the words they were saying. I think that Clint from nolongerhuman helped me with some of these tracks. Just tips and tricks talk. We used to hang out a lot and I was trying to remember when that fell apart but then saw that the next thing in line was the Drown The Horses EP, which is a song entirely about how things broke between us and has the first strands of the straight edge themes that would come later.
"Fuck The Club" from the EP Drown The Horses.
This is an interesting EP because it has one of the first tracks that reflected the first signs of oh, I hate this bar scene thing and the track "Fuck the Club," which is about just wanted to get drunk and dance to forget your problems... Which I would love to claim is a satirical look at the themes above, but they were not. I had just turned 21 and was very confused about what I wanted to do with myself. After a long time of standing outside, waiting to be 21, and smoking cigarettes with all of the adults, I was finally in! I was finally part of the scene for real. It was kind of a disappointment. I think this track both reflects the time and headspace that I was in, and sends a dumb message. It is a track that some bandmates bring up when they want to let me know that I wasn't as sound in mind/lyric when I was younger. This is also the first time Wes remixed my stuff as reakt[ion], which I think he recently started after changing from the name Necessary Noise.
"Faded Youth" from the demo ...and the connection fails
This was the first track where I was super influenced by a documentary that I saw and immediately wrote something. Like the second it was done. I was so upset and sad at the world. The documentary was about children on medication and how it was causing them to kill themselves. This hit home super hard because a lot of the people that I knew in middle school where in the first wave of the ADHD/anti-depressant drug push and it just wiped them. It completely fucked them up in really bad ways. This was also the first track that I sent to COP International Records and eventually led to releasing with them. We had a release party for this demo at The Fez ballroom, which is no longer around, and it was just... shitty. The opening band was one of my favorites at the time and he just got super drunk and fought with his girlfriend, who later turned off and then tried to take one of the power strips we were using on stage. I also had a pita pit... pita... before we went on and an energy drink and thought that I was going to die. I was so sick.
"Lungs Full of Water (Distorted Memory Remix)" from the digital only EP I Hope You Choke (COP int.)
Distorted Memory was/is one of my favorite bands and this was really the first time that I reached out to someone who I thought was much, much better than me. I remember he wrote back and asked if it was okay that it was going to be a slow and more atmospheric remix, instead of the upbeat dance stuff he had been doing at the time. Little did I know it would be the best fucking song. This was right before the Temple of the Black Star release. So good.
"The Last Battle" from the debut album I, Omega (COP Int.)
Right before I was signed to COP International, I remember Clint sending me a message saying that I would never get signed and that I was a piece of shit... or something like that. So, as a little bit of spite and a little bit to prove that I could, I submitted to, and was signed to, the label that he was (and is still) on. Little did I know that it would be a kind of lacklusted experience in which I would do all of the promotion and not really understand what the responsibilities of the artist and the responsibilities of the label were. I still don't know really. It taught me a lot though. It taught me how to go out and just promote myself regardless of what someone said they were going to do. Nevertheless! It was an exciting time. I finished something. Had it mastered and released on a label. This album was mastered by Jan from X-Fusion, who I admired and would master everything from here until The Blood of Others album.
"Awaken The Alchemist" from the self-released single Awaken The Alchemist
So many things happened right here! I discovered Witch House and my whole world changed musically. It was crazy. This is the first track that I "sang" on instead of screamed with a lot of effects. It was the first slower track that I had done. This single had remixes from two of my favorite artists. I was able to convince Vendetta Music to sign me after saying that the next album would be like this, but heavier and louder. This is the music that I really wanted to make and what would eventually become The Blood of Others.
"So Lost" from the 2nd Full Length album Shallow Graves (Vendetta Music)
After going from Witch House to being extremely obsessed with Chrysalide, Shallow Graves came back to being super mad and heavy. The hardcore influence was never more strong. So many breakdowns and different screaming styles came out in this first track. A lot of the reviews for this album said that it sounded like Combichrist and I remember being so mad about that. I think that it was the lower scream... but still... Not good. This song is 100% a straight edge song. I was full in it at this point. "So Lost" is straight edge, "Giving Water, Taking Ash" is anti-animal testing, "Voluntary Extinction" is child free by choice... so many views. I still hold all of these views, but it is just kind of funny to hear them in these songs. We are performing a mostly Shallow Graves set when we play now. Also, the iVardensphere remix on this album is crazy good. I remember getting it back and being a little upset that it was so fucking good. There was also a W.A.S.T.E remix that was given away with the pre-order that I like a lot.
"To The Wind" from the self-released EP Her Ghost
Back to Witch House! "To The Wind" is still the best track that I have ever produced, in my opinion. It was so much about the time and place and capturing the atmosphere that I had in my head when this EP came together. The idea materialized pretty quickly and then the whole thing was done. I was working for a little bit on the lyrics for the fist two tracks and then boom! At the time I was having this recurring dream - and I still do sometimes - that was completely out of a gothic romance that I fabricated from so, so many Cradle of Filth albums. This is what really made The Blood of Others a thing that I was set to do. I was done with the dance-heavy stuff and was pretty board with the style. I definitely needed a change in a lot of ways. We were performing this stuff as [product], which is crazy to think about now because it was so much of a departure. I would still be producing under [product] if Audiotrauma hadn't asked to change the project and separate from the previous releases. This though, marks the first time that I felt that I was making the music that I truly wanted to make. I didn't know how to do it before. Or I was scared that I wouldn't know how or something. It was weird.
Then The Blood of Others happened. I've talked about that a lot in this newsletter. It is still happening. I am still loving it.
Thanks for reading. It will be back to the normal thoughts and current event stuff next week. This wasn't edited or re-read because I spent too much time on it and got lost in the memories.