A Darker Figure Newsletter #76: Post-Festival Blues
Welcome to A Darker Figure Newsletter!
I am fresh off the drive home from Terminus Festival that was immediately followed up by 3 hot and worthless days of work. After a festival like Terminus - which is an amazingly special place full of wonderful and special people that I will love until the day that I die - there is a fog of melancholy and a morose sense of missing out. This happens to a lot of artists and musicians after tours, or festivals, or recording an album, or basically any big event in which you feel like the most important person in the world for just a few moments and everyone pats you on the back and gives you that sweet, sweet validation. Then you go home. And you have bills. And you have a day job. And you have friends that talk to you all of the time and kind of... are the best... but see you a lot, so they aren't impressed by your little accomplishments. But! There are a lot of ways to get above the fog, and the craziness.
I usually dig in to creative stuff and just get back to work. I have a lot of creative fires going at once because the energy is strong and I want to stoke the fires back to life as quick as possible. There are plenty of hours each day, especially during the work week, where I can freely think and reflect on all the things that I love and hate about what I do - so when I get home, I like to spend some time with my partner and friends, and then get back to the good stuff.
Saying all of this, I wanted to reach out to some of my musician and artist friends and get their tips and tricks for how to deal with the post-festival/tour bummers. Not all of them are sad people like me. I tried to get a bunch of different perspectives:
Alicia Gaines from the band Ganser - We had the pleasure of interviewing Ganser for the Talking to Ghosts Podcast and I have been periodically bugging Alicia with random things in hopes that one day we will be real friends and that I can mooch off her amazing talent or pay her to design something amazing for one of my projects. She is an amazing musician and graphic design artist from the Chicago area and was kind enough to submit the following statement to my kind of personal question:
"I follow the sow/harvest model of sorting out creative energy. The idea being that tour (this also goes for recording an album, etc.) is a lot of harvesting plans that most likely took months to plant. It’s a lot of payoff and gratification shoved into a small time frame. It’s important to realize that after something like that, you’re at zero after a high. Go to a museum, watch films, read books, give yourself songwriting challenges with no set goal, anything that will refuel you after tapping your emotional resources dry. You have to make a safe creative sandbox again before creating the next castle."
Chase Dobson is a live crew member for some big, fancy bands - I met Chase through our I Die: You Die / Talking to Ghosts Slack group and he has since released a great blackgaze album and was on the most recent The Blood of Others remix album.
"My festival experience is likely going to be different from most as my “day job” involves touring with bands doing work in a technical capacity. Specifically, I design and operate playback systems for backing tracks, in addition I do projection and/or LED wall mapping for the video component to the current show I am touring with (Tycho). The “comedown” from a festival environment for me is relief (festivals are the worst).
My typical festival schedule involves going on site the night before we perform to do visuals test, most often after the final band has played for the evening. So, for an international fest, its usually a long travel day and then going on site after midnight to set up our visuals computers and either projection map to a surface or map to an LED wall to ensure that all of the components are “talking to one another” and in focus. After a nap, we (the crew) would load in our audio equipment and backline, setup and do a soundcheck early in the morning before the festival opens up for the day. If I am not completely wiped out, depending on who is playing I go check out some artists and wait for our turn to perform, the band plays and then we pack it all up and load it out. Festival days are typically exhausting, and the ultimate game of hurry up and wait. Ha, the music industry is pretty glamorous."
Wesley Mueller, co-host of the Talking to Ghost Podcast - Wes is many things - including one of my best friends - he's made all of my video projections for The Blood of Others, he's been a reliable and wonderful co-host of our podcast (often keeping things on topic and good while I drift off into mumbletown), but he is also a wonderful musician and artist in his own right. Check out his site for more details about all his projects.
"In the past I've been very susceptible to the post-tour/post-festival blues. Every time we'd come back from even a one night show, the next day was an absolute slog of borderline depression. This is why, when I got back from Terminus this year, I was incredibly surprised to find that I felt...good? Maybe it was the proper hydration - I made sure to not only drink water, but to drink things that had electrolytes like sparkling mineral water. Maybe it was getting more sleep than I expected to get. Maybe, and I think this is probably the key, it's that I was coming back to a job that I actually enjoyed, and getting to do good work made coming back from the festival feel just a little less depressing."
Bruce Lord is one half of the wonderful folks at I Die You DIe - Bruce is one of those people that can school you on a lot of really fascinating subjects and I have a lot of respect for him. He's someone that I know I can reach out to and get a great response to on just about any subject. He's a scholar and the kind of nerd that I like to keep around. If you ever need a book recommendation, definitely go to him.
"It's easy (and fun) to view festivals as the culmination of something: getting confirmation that yes, some romantically minded promoter's gonna take up the Sisyphean task of getting a fest together only to hopefully break even, the unveiling of the lineup, the assembling of a crew of friends from far and wide who maybe only get to see each other once a year. But I try not to view them as a "blow out" or the apotheosis of all the work and anticipation that's led to them. Rather, I get excited about new opportunities which might extend from them. If a relatively new or unknown band impresses, then I've got work cut out for me in checking out their back catalogue and keeping tabs on them from here on out. I couldn't begin to count the number of projects related to blogging or podcasting which have come out of chance meetings at festivals. If I learn that someone's as cool in meat-space as they are online, then hell, my circle of friends has gotten a little bit wider. If you're trying to beat the post-fest blues, make an effort to carry something back home to your day to day above and beyond merch which you can work at in the interim. Remember: Industrial Summer Camp isn't a place, it's a feeling inside your heart."
Terminus Festival highlights:
- Wulfband (of course): Everything You've heard about them is true. See them live if you have the chance.
- Glass Apple Bonsai: Fun. Pure goofy fun on stage and good music to go along with it.
- Seeing folks and meeting Slack people: It is super weird to me that anyone listens to my music or our podcast, so to meet some of the people who are fans, or friends from a distance, it is extremely rewarding. I was running around most of the festival trying to get interviews, or connect with people, but the time that I did spend talking to Slack people and friends was extremely worthwhile.
- New episode of Talking to Ghosts with PIG & Julien-K went up on Tuesday!
- The nice fellas over at I Die You Die said some nice things about our show at Terminus in this podcast episode
- Spill Magazine did a wrap up of Terminus Festival as well and you can find it HERE.
New podcasts to check out:
If you are a podcasting nerd like me, you will probably like these podcasts about podcasting/radio:
- How Sound (which is basically a tour of the backstage stuff that goes on in radio and then eventually podcasting.)
- The Turnaround (Interviewing interviewers, it's great!)
8/7: Polygon.com Meetup @ Lucky Lab in Portland
8/12-8/13: Portland Industrial Goth (PIG) Festival @ Paris Theater - we play on Sunday
8/16: VNV Nation @ Hawthorne Theatre
8/19: KBOO Book fair! @ Cider Riot
8/19: Bella Morte @ The Analog Cafe
9/8: Sophie and I leave for France.