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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. 

Self promo: 
- 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: 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. 

A Darker Figure #73: Sophie's first show with The Blood of Others

Yes, I'm taking over the newsletter this week. Last Friday I played my first show with The Blood of Others. I was on bass keys. I had been practicing regularly with the guys and on my own for a while because I had never done anything like that before and I anticipated that I would be super scared to be on stage and I wanted to get as many things as possible under control beforehand, because everybody knows that there are many unknown factors once you’re on stage and it could all go to shit so fast and so if at least I knew my parts very well, that meant I could keep that in mind to reassure myself that it was going to work out. Well damn, that was a crazy sentence.

I also wanted to be able to just enjoy myself and rock out and have fun, and watch Michael be his sexy self on stage, and I was able to do all of those things. We all had a great time! This is what we look like when we’re having fun:

Photo by Nate Bennett

Photo by Nate Bennett

It was an awesome and kind of surreal experience. Surreal because I am so used to watching the show from the other side and being so excited to just be there and see it happen. It occurred to me in the midst of it that this time I was helping it happen and it felt exhilarating, incongruous, and a bit ridiculous. On top of that, Wes made me laugh in the middle of it and now there is a picture of me with a big smile while everybody else looks super serious because they know The Blood of Others is no laughing matter. Take a look:

Photo by Cybermind Photography

Photo by Cybermind Photography

Now everybody is going to think I find the extinction of nature hilarious. Look at that noob over there giggling over the death of our forests. She must think it’s too dark and no one can see her. I for sure always know how to make a good impression. But to my defense, it didn’t help to look at one of the backing videos of a deer sassily walking around like he owns the block. I guess that’s part of the point Michael is trying to make with his lyrics:  well, that deer does in fact own the place and you’d better get the fuck out of his way. That deer is not joking. That deer will sass you out of the room in no time with his dope neck moves.

The rest of the show was awesome! Marck from UNCRSD was great; it was my first time seeing him live after seeing him around for a while. And James from Jihad put on a really good show too. He is also a really nice guy and I ended up doing merch for him as well (I usually do merch for The Blood of Others). There was a guy who kept coming back to the merch table and was very excited about all the bands and asked a lot of questions and bought a lot of stuff, so that was cool.

I was wondering if I would have any pictures of the show and it turns out there are plenty, so thanks to all the people who took those! I was talking to Wes before the show about how I’d like to have pictures to show my family (nerd!), and he had this idea of getting a disposable camera and giving it to someone in the audience. I think one of the Missing Witness guys took care of that, and we are looking forward to seeing what the photos look like. Wes said he got some of his favorite pictures of his own show a while ago when he used a disposable camera. Wes knows what’s up.

The feedback for our show was really good, and I am happy about that. A few people told me that I did well and that was nice. I didn’t talk to many people because I am just awkward and I’m not sure what to say. If you feel like I’m weird, you’re onto something, but it’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, it’s mostly social awkwardness, which I’m sure many people relate to. In a weird way it’s easier on stage because I know what I’m doing and I don’t have to come up with stuff to say. I used to drink a little bit in social settings (mostly because I used to hang around alcoholics and wasn’t sure yet of what I wanted to do with myself) and of course that helped, but I decided a few years ago that it really wasn’t what I wanted for myself and that I would rather be honest with myself and others even if that meant it was going to be - sometimes - painfully awkward.

It used to be way worse, to where just being in a room with other people would make me nervous and self-conscious, so for me to be able to be on a stage now is huge. It also helps to be surrounded by really good people, some of whom have this crazy ability to make conversation effortlessly. I was talking with Michael about this the other day, about how it surprises me that he still defines himself as somewhat socially awkward, while I feel like he is so good at talking to people now (even if he says he wasn’t in the past). I think it’s interesting how we are sometimes stuck in seeing ourselves the way we used to be while people around us can see a completely different thing because they notice the change more than we do.

Now for the special “Silly Sophie” minute of the week: a few days ago, I was outside the Lovecraft Bar here in Portland and people were having a conversation about the movie Robocop (which I’ve never seen). When I heard, “you know, Robocop, that movie where a cop becomes a robot…,” my mind was totally blown because I never realized that Robocop actually meant “Robot-cop” so I had one of those dumb moments when I was like “Oooooh, that’s why he’s called Robocop…It makes so much sense!” I didn’t say anything then because I didn’t feel like it but I just wrote here that I wanted to be honest, so here goes. This was my dumb moment of the week. But to be fair, the movie was part of an era when I was in France and didn’t speak English, so I didn’t know what “cop” meant, and they didn’t translate the title in France (sometimes they do, and it’s either terrible or somewhat cooler, like “The Teeth of the Sea” for “Jaws”). So to me, Robocop was just a random name, really he could have been called anything, and that’s how it remained in my psyche even though I now know what a cop is. That made me wonder how many French people who actually saw the movie in French and don’t speak English still don’t know that the name is super intentional. Now I feel extra smart and I’m patting myself on the back.
You should comment on this newsletter and share your dumb moment of the week with us. I know you’ve had one. Then we can all feel super smart together.

To stay on the topic of honesty, I'll leave you with what Jonathan Safran Foer said yesterday at the reading I went to (this is the gist of it): "Sometimes people tell me, 'I liked your book a lot but I wish there was less [insert whatever here] in it,' and I tell them, 'Sure, there could be, for instance, less swearing in my book, and I don't think the book would be any less of a good book without it; I don't think the book wouldn't be as good if it were, say, more charming, but I do think it would be less honest, and that's why these things needed to be in there."

Next week Michael should be back to writing his own newsletter, so you can look forward to that. Thanks for having me!



Tonight: Pharmakon at High Water Mark. Should be interesting!

7.18.17: Screening of Phantasmagoria at the Lovecraft

7.28.17 to 7.30.17: Terminus Festival!! The Blood of Others is opening the festival so you'd better show up early.

A Darker Figure #72: Writing Inspiration and Style

Welcome to A Darker Figure Newsletter!

This week I met up with a close friend that I only see about every 6 months. Our relationship is strange, but also very strong. We see each other about twice a year - three times a few years ago - and every time we meet up for coffee we pick up right where the last time left off. The familiarity and the easiness of conversation is something that I don’t really have with a lot of people and it is the best every time. We quickly catch up on life events and random things that happened to us and then get to the good philosophical/social/cultural stuff. She is writing a piece of long fiction and for some reason I always give her my best writing advice (despite being slightly younger and slightly more inexperienced). While talking about writing and the craft of composing a piece I realized that I have read a lot of books recently that changed the way that I look at writing - really inspiring works. All but one of these books I’ve talked about in this newsletter before, but I thought I would outline them again anyway.

Shelter In Place by Alexander Maksik (fiction)

Shelter in Place is such a unique and charismatic piece of writing. It’s voice and narration is short and simple, but honest and thrilling all at the same time. The way that the Maksik deals with mental disorder and depression are clear and (again) honest, characterizing it sometimes as a bird that looms over him, and other times a black tar that sinks into his mind and takes over. It is hard to explain why the writing is good other than just to say that it is compelling and heartfelt. I tried to read A Marker to Measure Drift, which was the book that was released before Shelter in Place but found that the style wasn’t at all the same and that it didn’t have the same appeal to me - this might have been because I finished Shelter In Place and then immediately went to the library to find A Marker to Measure Drift and that maybe I was too invested in the style to appreciate it fully. I might go back to it later when some time has passed and I have calmed the fuck down about how great that book was.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (poetry)

I picked this book up this week after many, many visits to the Powell’s Books Poetry section. Nancy Showers posted a short excerpt from one of the poems after Brant picked it up for her while he was in Portland a few months ago and I was super intrigued. Poetry is not a format that I usually gravitate towards, but there is something special about Vuong’s style of imagery - it is so vivid and full of violence, much like his life was/is. The entire book has a through line and personal history that is just fascinating. I finished it in one sitting and plan to go back through a few more times, if anything just to gleam the style for little hints and the way that certain rhythms are constructed by the layout. If you have been sleeping on good modern poetry - like me - and think of it as the old school rhyming algorithm, I definitely suggest picking up this book. 

Art Sex Music by Cosey Fanni Tutti (autobiography)

I wrote about this last week, so I’ll keep it brief. The non-fiction style of this book is the kind that is most appealing to me. A mixture of personal stories, including the ups and downs of the in-between-times when art isn’t exactly making things work, personal successes, and the really bad times behind the scenes. There is something that is deeply personal - and I know that you are thinking that it is an autobiography, and the answer should be no shit, but it isn’t always the whole picture with some authors and I feel like they leave out their insights into what is happening around them during the different periods of their lives - and diary-esque about the way the book is written.   

It’s Only The End of The World (Juste la fin du monde) written and directed by Xavier Dolan (movie)

I also wanted to include this movie because the dialogue and the tone of the movie was so perfect. It was awkward and troubling, familiar (literally and figuratively) and distant. It managed to convey the nervousness that comes with re-connection and the kind of weird separation that happens when you leave the family home to start your adult life. I still live very close to both my parents and my only brother, but it still conveyed to me a certain message. Leaving is hard. Perception is even harder. And that sometimes you think that you are doing something for yourself, but you also need to (in a sense) give permission to yourself and others to feel a certain way about it. There was a point in the movie where the main character - who has left home and made a very successful life for himself pursuing his passion in the city, basically he is the one who left and despite still sending postcards and letters, has created a great distance - is talking to his mother alone and she asks him to give his younger sister (who he didn’t really grow up with because she was much younger while he was living at home) permission to visit him in the city - permission to leave home - permission to explore despite herself. I thought that was interesting, and really well portrayed with long, uncomfortable shots of both characters during their conversation.



We have a show tonight! In Seattle! With Jihad and UNCRSD

7-10-17: Jonathan Safron Foer at Powell’s

7-11-17: <PIG> at Star Theater

7-14-17: Pharmakon at High Water Mark

7-18-17: I am helping to screen the new Mater Suspiria Vision film Phantasmagoria

7-28-17: Terminus Fest

7-29-17: Terminus Fest

7-30-17: Terminus Fest

8-13-17: Portland Industrial Goth (P.I.G.) Festival at the Paris Theater (The Blood of Others will be playing)

A Darker Figure #71: Art and Perception (Cynicism), Art Sex Music, and upcoming events

Welcome to A Darker Figure #71!

I have been thinking a lot about originality and making something unique, which is something that I think has become pretty difficult lately. I am a little worried that we have been sucked into an age of immediate gratification to the point that we are missing what is honest and sometimes failing to appreciate the work that goes into an art form. Here is a good example of something that I am bad at:

This week DKA Records (home to a lot of great EBM/throwback bands) put up the second album from Sally Dige for pre-order. In the album description it points out that “Stunningly, Sally used only her voice and a single synth to create this album. Even with so little gear, the songs are anything but minimal. Each song has a minimum of 100 tracks and, for some songs, 100 tracks for just the drum section alone. Every audible sound has 20 other sounds swimming beneath it.” Which I immediately when Noooopppeeeee, because if there were 100 tracks of drums it would get to the point where the frequencies would be full enough to cancel out the other drum sounds - meaning that you can layer as many kick drums as you want, but eventually it will become muddled and you’ll have to turn some of them down to the point where you cannot hear them at all, or even feel their impact. The idea that “every audible sound has 20 other sounds swimming beneath it” is a really strange thing to claim, especially when you listen to the track because it is pretty standard for not only the label, but for the current trend of mixed genre post-punk/throwback synth. Going in, having read the description first, I was expecting something a lot more experimental and noise-driven.

But! That is not the point and clearly a sign that I have lost my faith in artists and the cynicism has taken over. My immediate rejection of something that I am skeptical about is a problem - even if a lot of people who make music that I have talked to about it share a similar view - because that kind of misses the purpose of the art form. As an artist, Sally Dige has made a decision that she wants to explore the concept of making music with just one synth and her voice through a method that is highly unorthodox, and for that I should be very excited. The idea that people are still pushing the boundaries of music creation and exploring whatever crazy idea they might have about production - breaking the mold, bucking the system, etc - should be extremely exciting. But for me it wasn’t. For me, it was a rejection and an immediate skepticism, which I think has a lot to do my perception of the genre and the presentation of the album and not to do with the ideas behind the project.

For example - and this makes me uncomfortable a little bit because I am aligning a set of male artists over a solo female artist but when I tried to compare two female artists I also felt weird about it, so I’ll give both! - If Chrysalide (who are one of my favorite bands) put this in the album description I would be stoked as hell, spending hours trying to find the subtle shifts and differences in the sounds. Or if Pharmakon had the same description for the latest album, Contact, I wouldn’t even think twice about it because my perception of the music is that it is experimental and very oddly exploring emotion and comfort through sound. But my perception of the music, which I find to be only-okay, has tainted the statement and I find it harder and harder to believe the more I think about it, when I should instead think of it like absurdist art practices - doing something to just see how it works and finding a style that is honest and worthwhile to the artist, even/especially if it is unorthodox.

I recently finished Cosey Fanni Tutti’s book Art Sex Music, which is entirely about creating art and trying to live in the world as a unique and strange person. Cosey spent most of her life trying to do something that was counter to what people thought was generally accepted as art, and a lot of times didn’t get a lot of recognition for it from the art world until 30 years after it was premiered. Which is crazy. It would be crazy and difficult to do something - like a release a new album that you are very proud of - and then have a pretty good, but overall not very impactful reaction from a larger audience, and then 30 years later the largest gallery in the country is asking for an exclusive show of archived materials based around that album. The Throbbing Gristle parts of the book weren’t the most interesting parts of her career, when I read it, and I find that super fascinating. Especially because she was kind of screwed over constantly with Throbbing Gristle.

What I found more interesting is that she went out and did the art that she had to do, because it was where her heart was, and even if it was not what people wanted, it was honest and original. This book is an inspiring and honest/brutal look at what it took to become an artist. Even with success. If you are any type of artist or musician I would highly recommend checking this book out. It was full of great experience and knowledge, but mostly it was filled to the brim with a genuine look at struggle that I really appreciated. It definitely made me look at the art that I do and wish that I was doing something more, which is always a good reminder.


Currently Reading: Sin City volume 1 by Frank Miller (because Wes lent it to me legitimately 2 years ago and I am terrible.)

Currently Listening To On Audiobook: Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

Up on the list to read (haven’t decided which to dive into yet, but Sophie is putting the pressure on for her book):


Things coming up that I am involved in:

07/07/17 - Seattle - The Blood of Others opening for Jihad at The Highline Bar

07/18/17 - Portland - I am helping to promoter the Portland premier of the film Phantasmagoria by Cosmotropia de Xam at The Lovecraft for the Mood Ring 2 Year Anniversary Party.

07/28/17 - Calgary, AB - The Blood of Others opens up Terminus Festival

08/12/17 - Portland - The Blood of Others plays P.I.G. Fest 2 at the Paris Theater

A Darker Figure #70: Sociopolitical Corner and 13 Reasons Why

Welcome to A Darker Figure #70. It's going to be hot as fuck this weekend folks. I am not looking forward to it, but maybe that will give me a chance to plow through the rest of Cosey's book Art Sex Music (which continues to be very good.)

I am in the early stages of Operation Get Good and limiting my food portions, jogging at least twice a week (should be three times, but it has been a long and weird week,) and skipping most deserts. It is not great, but definitely required. I am deathly afraid of sleep apnea and have been showing some signs. But! According to Sophie I am snoring a whole lot less and I am starting to feel a big more rested when I sleep - which is kind of too early to tell, but a good sign. 

Some things coming up: 
- There is a new episode of Talking to Ghosts up with the Washington, D.C. band Technophobia that was super fun
- We have a The Blood of Others open practice this Monday at The Lovecraft Bar from 8-10pm
The Blood of Others in Seattle 7/7/717 at The Highline Bar
Pharmakon is coming to town next month and I am super excited for it! 

Sociopolitical corner:
My friend Wes said something recently in a political discussion about atheism that really stuck with me:

"I want to convince them that allowing a power structure to shit on the marginalized doesn't serve their idea of a post-religious world." 

There are a lot of hot takes out there when it comes to politics and religion. There was a scene in the final episode of the first season of The Handmaid's Tale that, unsurprisingly, was a good example of what I fear happens in a closed off room full of men, deciding fate. A member of their political party was adulterous and went beyond the normal government approved version of rape with his handmaid, so he had to stand up in front of a group of peers and tell his version of the story, admitting to god that he was a sinner. They decided that his sins were different from their sins and couldn't let him go unpunished. But the whole thing reeked of religious language and bias-blindness. It made me wonder how many times in the recent months, when discussing something extremely important to people's livelihood (like abortion, or planned parenthood funding), the discussion centered around a religious point of view. Religion is a frustrating part of people's doctrines and moral codes that I think should be left out of a political discussion as much as possible because it tends to ignore the real life impacts of the people in marginalized classes. I think that Wes hit it exactly in his quote above because a lot of atheists fall into a similar, scary trap. Putting anti-religion above the heart of the issues. Basically doing things just to be opposed to religion and not taking into account that they are completely othering people. 

It is a little heartening to see that people are taking action against this healthcare vote. Oregon's senators are pretty solid and have said that they will do everything they can to delay and oppose the vote, which is great, but it has honestly made me a little complacent - which I know is bad and I hate it too. Jeff Merkley's office sent out an online form that allowed you to share your healthcare story and have it included like a phone call in the stats, which I thought was a really good idea. I have only called a government office twice - both this year - and I find is stressful. I also feel that everyone around is like "yeah dude, we think that too," about most of the things that I care about politically. I think that is the problem though, everyone thinks that and they are only half right. Not everyone knows about some of the issues, or how it will really impact those around them. It is super easy to say: well, I have a decent job and decent healthcare, and might be able to afford it even if the system is fucked up and I have to get private healthcare outside of the government system. But it's not about you (or me) right now. It's about those who can't afford it and will be extremely impacted. Scary stuff. 

13 Reasons Why hot take corner: 
I thought the show was great! I understand the controversy surrounding the plot, but I think that a lot of those people didn't finish the show and watch the Beyond The Reason episode after the show ended season 1. It was an extremely sad show that had a lot of good points in it. I was talking with my friend Esme about it and we went down a lot of weird personal stories about high school and bullying. In the Beyond The Reason episode child psychologist Rhonda Hu made a good point about cyber bullying that I liked. Parents now have a hard time understanding cyber bullying because it is so different from when they were bullied in school. Before social media became a staple of everyday living, bullying would stay where it happened (at school, or at the bus stop, or in the local part, etc) and then you would go home and have a haven to protect you from it and you would be able to escape it. But cyber bullying, because social media is so prevalent and such a big part of modern communication, bullying follows you everywhere. At school, at home, in the bathroom. The internet is instant and forever. 

People are super worried that their kids will kill themselves now "because of the show," but I think the opposite is true. I think that kids were always going to kill themselves and now you just know about it. Pay attention to your kids, if you have them. Get them help whether they want it or not. I went to mandatory therapy in high school (after some writing about suicide and death was found by a teacher) and it was the best. I had a really good therapist. Really good. She eventually left and I stopped going to therapy because the two therapists afterwards were terrible at their jobs. But that first year or so of therapy was deeply impactful in the way that I see the world now. It was mandatory and I didn't always want to be there, but it did help at the time.

I am pretty anti-modern-therapy because I think people depend too heavily on it and I don't trust that people have the right intentions when assigning medication, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it wasn't impactful in my life. So if you need therapy and have been putting it off, I would suggest seeing a psychologist not a psychiatrist. But definitely see someone. There are also independent companies in Portland like Wise Counsel and Comfort that will work with you on a sliding payment scale, and have a lot of good resources on their website for self help

Personally, I suggest getting super into Sociology and Philosophy instead. Be wary of course, especially of dated philosophies, but make them your own instead! Or go see the band Pleasure Curses play live. If that doesn't make you bounce around and happy, then you definitely need some help. Those dudes are fun as hell to watch perform. 

A Darker Figure #67: Self-Destructing Technologies

Hello and welcome to A Darker Figure #67 where I have had a short week (due to the holiday) that has seemed much, much longer. I am not allowed to really talk about it, but when you work for a corporation you have to explain a lot of really simple things to a lot of people who try to think at a level that is way above where they need to be about a problem. Engineers, am I right? I actually don't have problems usually because the engineer that we work with for Fire Protection is great and a personable guy. This had more to do with my direct company. Oh well! I was supposed to work tomorrow (Saturday), but now I don't have to, so things are good again. 

I have been thinking a lot about self-destructing technologies - specifically something that I could incorporate into a music release - and have been really on the fence about them. On one hand you have a piece of art, in this case a small EP, of one-time listen music. Exclusive. Not digitally offered. One time and then it is done. Forever. You can choose to listen to it or save it for another time. Or never listen to it at all and just stand in wonder forever. On the other hand though you have a whole lot of wasted plastics (in this case I would be considering a Cassette), time, paper, and other materials for something that is a single serving. While I think that art is made to be expressive, even if the expression is an exclusive wondering that may ultimately turn out to be not-for-me musically, I think that we are living in a time where creating mounds of waste - even small ones - is pretty selfish and that maybe it can be done another way. 
I need to look into this more. There is something there, but I don't know what. At any rate it needs to be responsible and appealing at the same time. Also there needs to be an audience first, haha. 

I'll be going back in the studio sometime in the middle of this month to re-record some vocal sections for the new The Blood of Others split. Some of the re-worked tracks didn't fit in the timing of the vocals anymore. Should be fun. I'll be working with Patrick Champaign again, which is exciting. 

Last weekend the neighborhood two streets from ours was on lockdown by the police because a man was spotted carrying a gun around at 630 in the morning. Full ordeal: helicopters, swat vans, communication RVs that block entire roadways, the news, people just casually walking by one street over not knowing that there is a large operation going on. I was on my way to the cat shelter to volunteer and was stopped in a weird we-are-blocking-this-road-but-not-really-so-you-can-go-I-guess. So Sophie and I stayed inside until the stand down at 4pm. 
The day before we went to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, so the weekend wasn't without romance! 

Sophie wants me to tell you that we are getting matching tattoos tomorrow. We are getting matching tattoos tomorrow. 

Things that you should check out! 
- Movie (French/Netflix): The News From Planet Mars  (trigger warning: pet death) 
- Live show: Planning for Burial (noise/doom/metal/synth) - saw Planning for Burial on Sunday here in Portland and it was pretty great! 
- Music: New Hante. record came out! "Between Hope & Danger" is up on bandcamp and it is damn good
- Newsletter: Sean Bonner's Newsletter is my favorite. Warren Ellis is who got me hooked on newsletters, though. 

Things that I have coming up! 
6/10: I will be doing a Sky Symbol Rituals set at Volt Divers here in Portland at The Lovecraft
6/11: Technophobia, Pleasure Curses, and Neybuu with live video stuff from Carri Gummer here in Portland at The Lovecraft. (please bring your friends, it is an early show!) 8pm | $5 | 21+ 
7/7: The Blood of Others (feat. Sophie! on bass keys) in Seattle, WA at The Highline opening for Jihad

Listen to my podcast: Talking to Ghosts
Listen to my music: The Blood of Others / [product] / Sky Symbol Rituals
Go to my website: I See Bad Spirits

A Darker Figure Newsletter #64: Jeff VanderMeer reading, Terminus Set Times, and upcoming shows

Welcome to A Darker Figure Newsletter #64! This week I went to a reading at Powell's, have an interview lined up for tonight, and am excited about some shows that we will be playing this month! For more detailed posts about events or podcast episodes, please check out my new website:

Jeff VanderMeer is an author, but also an environmentalist with a strong leaning towards dystopian futurism, philosophy, and portraying characters as changing beings. The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) was a great set of books that I highly recommend you read! I have reviewed most, if not all, these books in this newsletter before, and am guilty of pushing my own copies of the books on to anyone who has the slightest interest in any of those subjects. I think that it is a mistake to call his books science fiction because it is only slightly accurate. Some of the characters are weird, and alien, and some of the environments are strange, but the topics and the philosophies and the questions are human. When asked last night, by an audience member, if he thought his books were about the future: VanderMeer and co-speaker Lydia Yuknavitch had a conversation about science fiction being closer to current reality than we think - mentioning that even The Handmaid's Tale, whose technology is now outdated, has concepts that are still ahead of their time, and feel present now - after a few more related questions, the conversation ended with VanderMeer stating: "Memory, for some people, is all they have of the future because it is all they have left of the past." 

He also said during the conversations that he likes to give his characters unreliable memories because that seems closer to what life is actually like for most of us now. That authors usually use memory as a device to describe the past in a narrative and that he likes to use it as a tool to make a character seem real, but also flawed. I'm elaborating a little bit because I don't remember the exact words, but I think that this is an interesting way to write, and interesting way to think about memory in general. I recently wrote a very short story as a stream of consciousness/journalling exercise in which there were a lot of real, hurtful, and sad memories that came up when I let my consciousness take something that happened and just run with it until I was done writing. I am still working on it. Sophie is, of course, helping. She is a master editor, she just doesn't know it yet. 


If you haven't listened to last Monday's Talking to Ghosts interview with Andy McMillan, I highly recommend it. It was very inspiring. It made me want to quit my job and do something creative. Maybe next year, who knows! (Sophie is scared about this, rightfully so. I keep mentioning it.) 


If you are planning to go to Terminus Festival in July, you should definitely get there for the first band on the first day of the festival! (because that is us.) 

Daily schedule:

Friday, July 28 (Doors 5 PM/ First band 6 PM)


Saturday, July 29 (Doors 5 PM/ First band 6 PM)


Sunday, July 30 (Doors 5 PM/ First band 6 PM)


Weekend passes are on sale NOW for $180 on our website at Limited single day passes will be on sale shortly for $70.


I also have a show that I am producing next month with Technophobia from Washington, DC. I am very excited about this one. You can check out more details on my website: 


I just started reading Alexander Maksik's Shelter In Place, after reading the first page in Powell's the other day. This book also has a recommendation from Lauren Groff, who wrote the book Fates and Furies that I enjoyed quite a bit. But it doesn't need it. The writing style is unique and charismatic. The narrator is extremely flawed, but honest to the reader about it. I can't say much more because the last book that I recommended to Sophie, I spoiled accidentally. But you should check out this book. It is very good so far. 


Tonight: Boy Harsher, Koban, Soft Kill, and Vacant Stares at Analog Cafe in Portland, OR
5/20: Sky Symbol Rituals and [product] perform at Obscurus in Everett, WA
5/25: The Blood of Others opens for HAEX at The Lovecraft in Portland, OR
6/10: Sky Symbol Rituals set for Volt Divers at The Lovecraft in Portland, OR
6/11: Technophobia, Pleasure Curses, Neybuu and Carrie Gummer on Visuals at The Lovecraft in Portland

As always, thank you for reading this newsletter. Stay safe out there. Read more books. It'll help. 
If you need a recommendation for something to read or if you want me to send you a random book from my shelf, feel free to reach out! I'm down. 

A Darker Figure Newsletter #63:

If you want to subscribe to this newsletter, and receive it in your email every Friday, please click here! 

Welcome to A Darker Figure Newsletter! I have started a website to collect all of my different projects. There were a few places recently that asked for a EPK - which is an Electronic Press Kit for bands - and I think they are outdated and kind of dumb in today's social media climate, so I started a website instead. It is not quite the same, but if I can capture all of the info that is normally in a EPK on there, for each of my projects, then I will be happy with it. Right now it is all bare-bones info and a little bit of design. I am still working on it. It has been awhile since I've had a for-real website that was something that I made. Wes did all the legwork for the Talking to Ghosts' site and design. 

This week we talked with Andy McMillan of the XOXO Festival, The Manual, and Build Conference in my studio apartment. Andy was a great guest and that episode will be out on Monday, so I won't go too much into what we specifically talked about other than to say that it is all very inspiring. Andy is a do-er. He is a producer and events coordinator, but first and foremost he is a do-er. He gets high level shit done and that is inspiring to me. Something that Andy is very outwardly good at is presenting only what he knows is a high level, good project. I am curious to know, but failed to ask him when he was here, how many projects he has worked on that just fell apart somewhere along the way. Projects that no one knows about. 

Today is Cinco De Mayo, which was the day that the Mexican forces defeated the filthy French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but in America it represents a date to celebrate Mexican-American culture, but somewhere in the 00s it became a day to celebrate partying and drinking too much, just like 4th of July or New Years Eve but closer to Mardi Gras (this is a gross simplification, but that is how I feel.) The bar across the street from my house is having a free tequila tasting all night which means that I am going to do everything in my power to leave town tonight. Sophie is looking for a romantic evening, so I need to do some digging into where I can go. It is pleasantly warm in Portland and we had a really great lightning storm on the way home last night. 

I lost the filling on my front tooth this week, on Wednesday, and was briefly a hillbilly with a cracked front tooth. It is fixed now and feels super weird. I wrote a piece about it, but it is more of a free-association journal entry that went to some pretty crazy places. Maybe when I finish that piece I will share it. We'll see! 


Comics to recommend: 
Injection Warren Ellis, Jordie Bellaire, and Declan Shalvey
Saga (of course!) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Revival by Tim Seeley, Mike Norton, and Mark Englert
(also, you should by them from your local comic book shop, not Amazon - I was just lazy and wanted to get you to the right books... but don't be lazy. Go to the shop and support the people.) 

I also started reading Someone Else by Tonino Benacquista, which is a book that Sophie bought for me a long, long time ago. It is pretty good so far! The book starts with the idea: What if you could be someone else entirely. The main characters meet at a bar after a tennis match as strangers and agree to meet up 3 years later at the same bar as completely different people: the people that they have always wanted to be, or fantasized about being. 


Also, new Saltillo! It is super good. I wrote about the first Saltillo releases on the original A Dark Figure blog way back when, and this comes quite a few years later, but is still really, really up my alley. If you don't know, it is the artist Menton3 who does all kinds of great work. I heard the music, loved it, looked up the art, and have supported all of his kickstarters and projects since. 


Upcoming shows: 
Tomorrow! (5/6): Horror Vacui, Vice Device, Bellicose Minds, Fleshh, Vacant Stares at Black Water
5/12: Strangeweather, Barrowlands, Satanarchist, Nick Superchi at Tonic Lounge
5/13: Volt Divers (feat. the best of the best, really. Paul Barker and Terror Apart and Eat My Shit. So good.) at The Lovecraft