Monday, March 30, 2009

Trent Reznor & DIGG

Trent Reznor is doing a Digg Dialog in a few days and we the people get to ask questions! Good lord... I better think about what I will ask... and NO not "Will You Marry Me?". Mainly because I couldn't handle the rejection, and, well, that line is WAY too long and filled with far more attractive people than I... but I digress...

Here are the questions I'd like to ask Trent Reznor:

Well, for starters-I really just want to ask him how he's doing. I mean, I know I don't REALLY know him, but his music has been my best friend, hero, muse, and lover, for oh, 16 years now... so... yeah, I want to check in on him! After the niceties- here's what I'd want to know...

1. What will you be doing during your planned "hiatus" from Nine Inch Nails? Will you pursue the Year Zero T.V. project with HBO as earlier discussed? Will you compose more instrumental works as a solo artist?

2. You've done some incredible collaborations in your musical career- which experience topped them all?

3. Is there musician, artist, etc. you'd like to work with that you haven't had the opportunity to do something with?

4. What albums can you not stop listening to this year?

5. What was the most humbling experience of your musical career?

6. What is your writing/composing process like? Which comes first, the lyrics or the music?

7. What is your favorite way to hear new music? (i.e. satellite radio, web, word of mouth)

8. What influences you outside of music- any art, authors, film makers we should know more about?

9. It seems you've evolved from Alt Rock Industrial rock star, to dissolving out of the media circus, and have now been catapulted into an ICONIC status through your progressive approach to music, it's connectivity and interaction to your fans, and how you distribute your message and art-- How has this icon status effected you?

10. Will you marry me? HA I'm kidding! but... seriously, Will You?

**awkward silence**

Oh. Yeahhh I figured you'd say no... but, uhm, haha, thanks for not being a dick about it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Les Claypool's Oddity Faire

So, I attempted to break several habits last night. The first was my refusal to attend a concert alone. I also always show up far too early and end up WAITING for what feels like an eternity for the show to begin, and then I wait until the very last possible moment to LEAVE the concert. These are all habits that seem harmless enough, but can be very tricky in the grand scheme of things. The first habit of "NO SOLO CONCERT ATTENDANCES" is the worst one... as stated in my previous entry RE: NACR I hate going to shows by myself. I've outright REFUSED to go if no one else was going with me. I have missed Echo and the Bunnymen, The Sisters of Mercy, Peaches, and Saul Williams (to name a few) because of this habit. The second and third habits are aggravating for several reasons... the most prominent being STRESS. I stress myself out to the point of nausea and panic over getting to a concert on time- or in most cases LONG BEFORE time. This wouldn't be so bad- if EVERY musician would ACTUALLY go on when the ticket stub indicated. This is never the case, however, because musicians are artists... and artists are never on time.

A few months ago, I noticed that a man named Les Claypool had created and was headlining a concept show or "Mutated Mini Fest" called "The Oddity Faire". The line up was interesting... featuring Les Claypool, O'Death, Saul Williams, and Secret Chiefs 3. I jumped at the chance to see Saul Williams having been very mad at myself for not going to see him back at Irving Plaza a little less than a year ago, I didn't REALLY know the other performers that well... so I hopped onto Pandora and created a station specifically planting the artist seeds. I liked what I heard. On a whim- I got onto the Amex presale and bought ONE TICKET. That's right. ONE. I'll be damned if I miss Saul Williams again because no one would want to go. Besides, the show is GA if anybody does decide to go- they can buy their own damn ticket. Well... no one wanted to go.

FLASH FORWARD>>> It's Saturday night in NYC. I have decided that even though the show IS GA, that I will show up an hour after "Doors open". Consider it a social experiment. I wasn't losing anything because I am not particularly obsessed with any of the performers, and I managed to GAIN something in the process- My Sanity. I refused to get stressed out and worried. It was a little after 730 when I entered terminal 5. Secret Chiefs 3 were already on (and I was OK)! The place was pretty packed but since I was alone I was able to stake claim in a VERY decent spot on the second level directly behind the sound booth. It was GREAT! No one was blocking my view AND I even had a ledge to lean on! The only slightly annoying part was the chatterboxes around me. Turns out they're even more annoying when you're flying solo.

Secret Chiefs 3 were... interesting. The all donned hooded black robes. Only the fiddler and guitarist fully committed to keeping the hoods down for the entire show. Very freaky effect regardless. It made me think that if Death and all of its reapers decided to play music when they're not ferrying the dead into the underworld... they may actually make music that sounded like this. The non-lyrical soundscapes were intriguing and managed to stay relevant and engaging for the most part.

In between acts were the Coney Island Side Show. Eh. As a NYer I'm far too desensitized to be impressed by a guy hammering a nail into his sinuses or a woman playing with a snake. Heather Holiday the sword swallower was pretty cool though.

O'death came on next. Now, I've heard their name kicking around the block several times over. After seeing them live they are certainly a band I will never forget. They were so knock your socks off awesome that I am currently purchasing their album from itunes as we speak. Utterly awesome and electrifying set with everything I come to expect from a good ole country goth-ish band- including the BANJO (which, incidentally, is GROSSLY underused in today's music). What a stellar and truly inspiring performance...

Then, the moment I had been chomping at the bit for all evening, Saul Williams and his crew finally emerge. Holy Shit. They were unreal.. he opened with "Guns by Computer" (his incredible dub over NIN's HYPERPOWER)... and didn't stop kicking ass the rest of the show. It seemed he barely BREATHED for the speed of the lyrics spilling out of his lips. I was in shock, really. I couldn't BELIEVE I ever let going to a show alone stop me from seeing this man. Then, as the sheer enchantment and guttural emotion finally began to wear off... the piano notes rang out... and I knew before it even really began I was about to hear "Black Stacey" my favorite Saul song thus far... I know on a molecular level it's completely inappropriate for I, the whitest of the whitest white girls to lip sync the words... especially the chorus "I think I'm too black do you think I'm to black I think I'm too black-a-black-a-bla-ah-ahhh" but damn it- I couldn't help myself! He's THAT GOOD. He also did a very visceral rendition of Bjork's "Declare Your Independence". For the last song of the set he invited his 10 year old niece out on stage and she danced and rocked out... even singing the lyrics herself at points. Man, she's got the coolest uncle in tha world. My only real complaint was... the set was WAY too short... I certainly had a sampling of the great and cool as hell Saul Williams, I WILL see him perform again.

Les Claypool was the next and last performer of the night. What's funny is, he was the headliner yet he was the one musician I knew the least about. I mean, I know he's been touted as one of the world's finest & greatest bass players, that he wrote the theme for South Park, and is/was the frontman of Primus, but that is literally all I knew about him. Well, now I know more about the musical enigma that is Les Claypool. As soon as he and his band of musicians emerged from the depths of the curtains, I knew we were all in for a treat. Donning three piece monkey suits and bewildering masks the show begins. I don't know ANY of his music, honestly, but everyone in the place became immediately entranced. The masses of human flesh below began to writhe and shake. Mosh pits formed out of nowhere without any sense or reason. Lighters, cellphones, and the infamous smoke clouds began to appear from all over the arena. The music itself was the source of the intoxication... it was mesmerizing. I was intrigued...still am. I came to the conclusion that if I ever decide to make a film, Les Claypool shall be the composer for the soundtrack. His auditory soundscapes were a trip. Definitely worth an itunes purchase.

I broke a cardinal rule/habit... which was to leave the concert early... as cool as Les was (and no doubt, still is) the novelty of flying solo at a show wore off, and I found myself lonely... I went gallevanting around NYC guilt free of the sin against the concert Gods I had committed.

Ooooh I am such a rule breaker.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Soundtracks Can Make the Movie Better

The musical score is an often overlooked element to film and television. Yet, it's one of the most important elements to a movie's success. It effects the feel of the show or film and the intensity of the scene. Sometimes, the only way we can recall a movie is based off of the music in a scene. Over the years, I have seen films become legendary thanks to the soundtrack.

Movies like The Crow (arguably mediocre at best) were transformed into sensations thanks to the INCREDIBLE musical contributions of the soundtrack. I of course, have a few soundtracks that remain in HEAVY rotation, and am constantly adding more and more soundtracks each and every day. MY List of Super-Important Most Beloved Non-Musical Movie Soundtracks that only further enhanced the Movies (in no order):

American Beauty.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The Crow.
Natural Born Killers.
Pulp Fiction.
Edward Scissorhands.
Lost Highway.
Tim Burton's Batman: The SCORE.
Slumdog Millionaire.
Requiem for a Dream.

A FANTASTIC example of how a soundtrack can affect the mood of a movie lies within Ridley Scott's fantasy masterpiece "LEGEND". In the director's edition DVD set, we are presented with TWO versions of the film. One is the US Theatrical Release, with the soundtrack provided by Tangerine Dream. The other, is a European edition with a classical score composed by Jerry Goldsmith. This being one of my favorite films of all time, I can say this without any hesitation. Both versions are INCREDIBLE and INCREDIBLY different. The US release is nostalgic for me, and is significantly more lighthearted... it invokes all the sense of whimsical fantasy I yearned for as a little girl. As an adult, watching the European edition, it still invokes the ache for a world of fantasy, but now, that world is darker and deeper.

Another example of how a soundtrack can change a film is best shown in soundtracks that unfortunately, HURT the movie. In example, Prince's soundtrack for Batman unarguably dates what COULD have been a timeless movie. I still love it, but every time that familiar effeminate voice and screeching synth come on, I know I am watching a movie from the 80's.

Opening title tracks and sounds also set a rather important mood for the visual journey you are about to embark on- this is particularly significant for TV Shows... think about it. Imagine LOST without it's ominous BONNNNG or The Golden Girls without "Thank you for Being a Frieeeend", or (god forbid) The Simpson's opening orchestrated perfection by Danny Elfman. My particular favorite opening theme song right now would have to be True Blood "Bad Things" By Jace Everett.

So, tell me, why are these composers, musical arrangements, and musicians not given the credit they're due? Well, when it's done right, they're meant to be the underdog. These tunes are the subliminal message that helps make the show or film's message resonate. Do me a favor kids, buy the soundtracks to your favorite movies. Download those tunes from your favorite TV Shows. Have a go- give a listen, and be prepared to be teleported right back into those stunning moments of cinemeatic recall!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

doin' it while driving

You know you do it. Everybody does it. Every now and then you feel the impulse strike, and before you even realize it, you're totally doin' it while driving. You know it's distracting to other drivers, and hell- as good as it feels you KNOW you really should be paying more attention to the road... but you can't help yourself. You know what I'm talking about- don't act like you DON'T!

I'm talking about Car Kareoke. Oh yeah baby.

You know, I used to sing in the shower, but I have pretty much stopped that over the last few years. Why? Well, simply put it's a time waster and I (like the rest of us) don't HAVE time anymore. In fact, the only "wasteful" time I seem to have is the time spent traveling from point A to point B in my trusty Volkswagon Beetle- Lucy. I recently acquired a SIRIUS XM radio for her... and I find myself singing. Loudly. Obnoxiously. The way I used to in the shower. I think I've discovered the modern girl-on-the-go's answer to Singing in the Shower--- CAR KAREOKE!

Bad Day at work? SING on the car ride home! Acting as designated driver to your drunken pals? SING to them 'til they laugh, puke, or pass out! Preparing yourself for a obligatory holiday with your family? SING on the way!

I wish I could understand WHY it feels so good to sing badly in a car... but alas, I cannot. The only thing better than singing in the car- is singing DUETS in the car. So, do yourself a favor...bring a friend into your car and sing on the way to whatever your destination. It will do you a world of good.

Suggestions, Guidelines, and Helpful Tips on Car Kareoke:

1. As much as you want to, DO NOT close your eyes while performing car kareoke.*
2. For longer trips, create "setlists" that will make the kareoke ride more enjoyable beforehand.
3. If you are as off key as I am, do yourself a favor- and NEVER perform car kareoke without the music- without the music car kareoke may have the opposite effect of what you were trying to accomplish.
4. Do not DANCE whilst performing Car Kareoke**
5. Make sure the songs you perform do not exceed more than 3-4 minutes***
6. Play the music loud enough for other cars to potentially hear, but not SO loud you cannot hear yours or your partner's singing.
7. Ballads, funny tunes, autobiographical, and/or nostalgic tunes work the best. This is the one case where the cheesier IS the better!
8. For more of a "studio quality" sound- keep the windows rolled up. For more of a "live concert" experience, roll the windows all the way down!
9. Unless you have Sirius XM or Pandora for your car- stay away from the radio. Too many commercials.
10. Use the SHUFFLE functions in any of your automitive electronic auditory devices. Half the fun is in not knowing what you're going to sing next!

*Your eyes SHOULD remain on the road.
**You may pump one fist, use one hand and a mic prop, or do other various single hand gestures, as well as certain head movements.
**excluding Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"