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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 #75 live from BANFF Bus!

Welcome to A Darker Figure Newsletter! I am not sure what number it is right now because we are on a bus headed up to BANFF to see some goddamn mountains!

The Blood of Others went on first - opening up the Terminus Festival - here in Calgary, AB. I was a little bummed that we were going on first, but there were a bunch of people there! It was a packed room for the first band of the first night of a 3 day festival and that is exactly why Terminus is my favorite. It is the best. We did really well. Sophie was nervous but we assured her that the energy from a bigger audience would push her through and bring that pure inner heat that is required for fucking killing it on stage. And she killed it with the rest of us. We sold out of CDs, Patches, and Stickers, which is awesome.

There are a bunch of people from our Talking to Ghosts/I Die : You Die Slack here at the festival and it is pretty cool to touch base in person.

Someone on this bus just told me Cool Runnings was filmed here… so… it is a great place.

Festivals are weird atmospheres. Not only do I tend to shelter myself in a corner and not talk to people, but I also manage to meet so many people. People have downtime and want to reach out. Two years ago, I came to Terminus by myself to do interviews and see Vallhall play. I just kind of posted up in the hotel lobby and followed people to coffee, lunch, and ultimately soundcheck bugging them for interviews and sometimes friendship. It was uncomfortable, but also the best time.  I highly suggest going to Terminus Festival. There’s something special about the way that people group together from all around the world in one 400-capacity venue. All the artists are in the crowd, enjoying the other bands and the atmosphere.

I have a book checked out from the library that I’m supposed to be reading, but I've been sucked into a bunch of comic books lately, so I have been neglecting it. It's a bummer, but i’ll get back to it. 

This week's newsletter is kind of short and gushy over the festival, so here is a couple of recommendations from people on this bus:

  • Avi - Rope Sect’s new record is super good: 

  • Wes - Reply All podcast from Gimlet:

  • Warren - NITE’s new album Reborn:

  • Monica - “How Not to Die” Michael Greger:

  • Sophie - “Revival” comic: 

We are traveling back to Portland alllllll day Monday and back to work on Tuesday. What a bummer.
New Talking to Ghosts episode is up on Tuesday!

A Darker Figure #74: Terminus Festival Prep, Marrow Island, The Big Sick, Pharmakon

Welcome to A Darker Figure Newsletter! We are moments away from Terminus Festival! It is really a week away, but it sure feels like moments when I think about all of the things that I still need to do and the amount of driving that will be taking place. 

Speaking of Terminus Festival, here are all of the Talking to Ghost podcast episodes that we/I have done at Terminus in the past:

And here are a list of this year’s bands that we have already interviewed: 

We are definitely planning to do some interviews while we are there! Everyone at Terminus is always awesome and I love it there. This will be my third time and Sophie’s first time, which is very exciting.

Reading Corner: Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

I finished the audiobook version of Marrow Island this week - which is a book set in the Pacific Northwest that deals with a reporter returning to the island off the Washington Coast that she grew up on, but that also had a large earthquake-related accident that caused not only her father to die, but the environment to be really fucked up. She returns to touch base with an old friend/childhood lover, but finds that the religious cult-like commune that she lives in on the island has a lot more problems than they are letting on. It gets pretty crazy. At the end of the book I was pretty confused for a minute because with the audiobook it seems like it kind of ends inappropriately early, but a trip to Powell’s this morning confirms that this is how the book ends. After thinking about it for awhile, I like it. It was a good book.

Movie Corner: The Big Sick

There is probably a good chance that I have talked to you about this already, whether it is through Facebook, or Slack, or some other method - I have definitely been praising it to as many people as I can because, not only do I love it, I feel a little bit like my distant friends made a movie about their lives and that they did such a good job. I want to make it clear that I, in no way, know Kumail or Emily at all, but I consume a lot of their collective media (Stand up, podcasts, books, etc) and I believe that they are good people. If you aren’t familiar: The Big Sick is the real story about how Kumail and Emily met, started dating, and then she went into a coma for like 10 days. It is really funny, really sad, and really well done. It was clearly not only a labor of love, but one of experience and honesty.

Go see it in theaters. Go see it tomorrow. It was great.

A Show: Pharmakon

Sophie and I went to the Pharmakon last week and it was super good! We were not sure what to expect from the live show because noise shows very pretty wildly in performance style, but usually I know it is going to be something either weird, or impactful. Caustic Touch opened the show and did a more rhythm-driven set than I thought she was going to, which is definitely what I prefer in noise shows. Pharmakon was a little late coming up from California, but she came right in and set up and then proceeded to kill it completely. It was intense, and interesting to watch, and super angry. It was awesome to see this kind of unassuming blonde woman - who looks fairly normal by Portland standards - just brutally beat people down with sound and physical intensity. She would run through the crowd and crawl on the ground and trip people up with the mic cord. If she is coming to your town and you like noise music, I would definitely suggest it. Very inspiriting.

I also read in an interview that she is a big nerd for books, so I gave her a copy of Shelter in Place (you know why.) I didn’t get the chance to talk to her about it because she left right off the stage, but the merch guy seems stoked about it.