Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Found My Sound!

"I left my harp in San Fran's disco" - Awful Punchline

Interruptions (Zombie Jazz Mix)

A year of beats started in February of this year. A cocktail of equal parts creativity, frustration, and (let's face it) narcissism. The whole process has been, more than anything else, a search.

Here at the 10 month mark, I think I've finally found something. Like sorting a pile of puzzle pieces and finding the few that fit together just right, and from there the rest of it starts to make since.

Beats, Trumpet and "The Smooth", are the pieces in question, and for me, they fit together like peanut butter and chocolate. This is it! This is the sound I was meant to be making; the genre I was meant to be working in. It just feels so right, I don't know how I could have been so blind to it all this time.

Embracing "The Smooth" has not been easy for me. Sure, I've tossed out a few darker things like The Song With No Name remix and Catharsis, but even these guys have an undeniable thread of smoothitude running through them. I've often complained, "no matter what I start with, it ends up sounding like an after school special soundtrack". I think the reason for that is because the smooth is gonna be there no matter what I do. It is apparently encoded in my DNA.

For me, trying to deny the smooth results in something forced, something residing in the uncanny valley of "almost but not quite".

Embracing the smooth and shaping it; attenuating the cheese quotient ... this is the only way to go for me. Understanding how the pieces fit together, I'm now ready to embark on the next phase of this musical journey, and I'm pretty excited about that.

I've got a bandcamp site, where I'm putting together what I hope will be my first honest to God album: "Brass Beats", which will feature more more beats, more trumpet and more smooth than you can shake a stick at.

So ... what is this track that snapped all the pieces together for me? It is, at it's core, a remix of Interruptions. I'd decided about 6 weeks ago to rework that song, write some lyrics to it, and generally see if I could make something a little better out of the idea. The only problem is that I never could get lyrics written past the first verse (which was pretty good, but still) ... I got frustrated with it.

On Tuesday nights, Victoria has a dance class. As the dutiful parent I hang around in the lobby for about an hour with all the other dutiful parents, reading magazines and the like. On this particular night, I had brought my laptop and a pair of headphones. I listened again to what I had so far on the Interruptions rework and basically just because I was killing time, I exported the whole thing and loaded it up into a sampler, then started playing around with it. By the time the class was over, I'd made the basic beat.

Later in the week, Victoria quit her band class at school. She did give it a real shot, but it just wasn't for her, unfortunately. Hey, at least I've still got one more kid to try and inflict band-geekdom upon (and don't you think I won't try, Andrea!).

The upshot was, she had a seriously nice rental trumpet being left regularly around the house, and it was only a matter of time till the old man picked it up and played it. When I did, it just gave up the most mellow Mangione tone almost effortlessly. That tone inspires "rise" era Alpert instantly. I was hooked.

It's not a mellophone, but it's got a larger bore and a shorter form factor ... kind of like a big pocket trumpet type thing. It's really nice, and it is now residing in my music room.

One thing has serendipitously led to another!

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