About Me

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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Burning both ends of the midnight oil...

Blogging from my phone while sitting in my favorite park. I uploaded pics from the upstate trip the other day.

Best of Upstate NY October 2010

The trip was fun and renting a car was actually not a total disaster. Though it did take a little extra time picking it up, but only because there were people in front of us who couldn't make up their mind whether or not they wanted the insurance or not. We were on the road before 10:30 though and with the help of my mix cds, we had a relatively smooth trip, minus one minor traffic jam on the thruway (...and yes, I said mix cds...I programmed the whole trip!).

We were the only people at the orchard when we arrived so we had the run of the place. We picnicked and then took our bags down to the orchard to explore. Not very many apple varieties were still on the tree but we picked a peck each and, after buying some goods at their store (a pumpkin pie and some apple salsa among other things), we headed down the thruway again to the sculpture park. Because of a truck passing us at the wrong moment, we accidentally missed the exit and, with time running out before closing at the park, I opted to pull an illegal u-turn to get us back on track in lieu of going 20 more miles and paying another toll.

In the end we had about a half hour longer to explore what was a beautiful sculpture park. It was opened back in 1960 and is probably one of the biggest collections of its kind. Some of the work was even commissioned for the park. One in particular being a spot where the earth itself was sculpted into a row of hills.

Meanwhile, I've had some interesting developments here in the city. Last year around this time I got a message from someone who had been scouring the internet looking for music he could arrange for his orchestra in Phoenix. He found "Of Slowly Falling Rain and Autumn Chill" and liked it enough to request a copy of the score. I obliged because I saw it as great exposure but later that day I realized that, if one person likes my music enough to play it others might and i'd be doing myself a great professional disservice if I didn't put it up online and sell it. So I did and I haven't had a bite since. Granted I haven't exactly advertised it's existence but I'll get to that.

Yesterday, in the middle of what was turning out to be another one of those days where I'm feeling like complete shit because of some extraneous factor, probably money, I got an email from someone else who had stumbled on my webpage while scouring the internet for music. She wanted to know how she could buy my music because she had liked a certain song and wanted to use it for a dance piece. This was great, I thought, but it raises a couple of issues. The first being how and what to charge. I, at one point, had an online store but have been spending so much time lately revamping my music and wondering if any of it is "finished" enough to sell, that I haven't even considered keeping up such a venture. Of course, now I'm reconsidering. The other issue is whether to charge for the music as though it were a regular music download and let ASCAP do the job of collecting royalties or to charge this person as though I were licensing them the music for their personal use. I opted to give her the choice because after all, she didn't tell me much about the project other than that it was being thrown together for a show which is happening tomorrow at Triskelion Arts in Williamsburg. Of course, she chose the cheaper of the two evils and I obliged anyway, figuring, all potentially damaging precedent setting aside, at least it's exposure. And exposure of a different sort. Having something posted on the internet, though it is more widely available, does not feel as exciting as having my music played, no matter how small the audience is. Case in point, it was the dance performance a few weeks ago that exposed this person to my music in the first place. When someone's name appears in the program of a performance, they seem more real than a webpage.

Of course, the object now is certainly to make my webpage make me seem more real. That is what the past few days have taught me. That and you should always check on all of your webpages and email accounts as often as is possible. When I went to go check on my online store and see if it was still up on Myspace, I noticed an email from April in my Myspace inbox from someone who said she works A&R for a music supervisor in L.A. and was interested in my music. I immediately started kicking myself and wondering how in the hell I could have missed that. Then, of course, I emailed her back and apologized for missing the email and directed her to my webpage and the rest of my reel.

This all just leads me to the final point I've decided to take from all of this. Be prepared. If you're going to put music out in the ether, be prepared to deliver more of the same...i.e. keep your chops up. Don't neglect it either and let it sit up there and get old. Refresh it all the time. Incidentally, this is why I haven't advertised my music's existence aggressively. I haven't been ready before now for people to actually be interested in buying my music either to perform or listen to but now, or at least within a few weeks, I will be. That's the idea, at least.

I actually find it to be quite lucky that all this happened the week before I sit down and talk to my web designer about what I want from the new website. It brings up some great points and ultimately is going to shape how well my webpage works for me and harnesses the massive marketing power of the internet.

In other news, I sat down with the Bulgarian piano player and talked ideas about how my work is going to fit in with her upcoming concert plans. She may play the dance piece, Collapsing Elbows, and potentially a cycle of three piano sketches (one of them being the one my choir director will play at the Brooklyn UU next month!). She has great ideas and I'm quite excited to be working with her. I'll keep you all updated on what will happen next there. The first concert may be around New Year's.

For now, I should go and start burning that midnight oil. Lots of work to do!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blurb #20

Leaving for Upstate New York tomorrow...we're renting a car in downtown Brooklyn and driving up to Stone Ridge Orchards to do some apple picking and then heading down to the Storm King Sculpture Park. Should be loads of fun and I just barely remembered to bring my camera. While I was checking it to see if the battery was good, I realized I never uploaded these:

Best of Owen and Raleigh

...from my stay in Raleigh back in August. There are pics of the NC Museum of Art with my brother and a few shots of Josee's kids. I'll post tomorrow if I have time with pics of the leaves and apple picking. See you around!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Massive Excitement!

Massive excitement here. Lots to report. The voice over demo is here so it's time to hit the ground running. When I received it in my email, I almost immediately uploaded it to my web page and posted it up on my voice123 profile. All that's left to do is figure out what I'm going to do about hard copies of the demo on CD (I.e. designing the cover and labels, etc and ordering materials) update the look of my website and then start marketing like crazy while simultaneously auditioning as much as I can. So, in effect, I still have a ways to go.

That having been said, I still feel like this is a real turning point. Maybe, turning point is the wrong phrase. It feels like I can finally move on a ton of things whereas before there were only so many things I could do. A lot of planning and no implementation. Everything after this will feel like real action instead of just tentative planning.

Anyway, after an overtime week this week I'll finally get a day trip out of the city. I'm renting a car with Stephanie and heading upstate for hopefully some apple picking and definitely a look at the Storm King Sculpture Park near Beacon, NY. Getting out of town will be nice and I promise to post pictures.

The business cards are also here...if I didn't mention. They finally arrived on Monday and I've been trying to contain my excitement about them as well, to no avail. They look awesome. A nod to Mollie Craver and SunSign Graphic Design.

Later next week I'm hoping to meet with the piano player I had talked about. We'll discuss her playing one of my pieces or me writing a whole new one for her. I've got some innovative ideas there that will remain secret for now.

Outside of music news, I've recently been going to yoga classes at a studio called Abhaya in DUMBO. It's Anusara yoga which until meeting Stephanie I was unaware of. It's nice. It takes the technicality of Iyengar's school of yoga and combines it with a much more fun loving user friendly approach to the poses that makes it far less intimidating than other styles. I've been going three times a week for the past month and I feel pretty amazing. I'm learning a lot too and getting more flexible in the poses. The studio itself is amazing (it's on the 6th floor of an old building on the waterfront in DUMBO) and the teachers are all great. One of them I had taken classes with before at Mala in Cobble Hill.

So, the yoga has made a change in my life in that it has been easier to keep a routine going. Since I have to plan around classes I find myself much more aware of how I spend my time during the day...and since I'm planning more I get more done...hence getting the piano piece finished. Hopefully I can keep up the trend.

The next few weeks to months should be pretty exciting. Watch first for the change in the look and feel of my website. After that, I'll probably have more to say about the wonderful world of voice over. Soon, in fact, I may start doing some volunteer recording for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. More on that later though. For now, it's off to work.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The dance piece and some words about web design...

This afternoon, I'm brainstorming and researching for the new website. Which will be happening soon now that my logo design is done. In fact, my business cards should be coming via UPS any minute now. How exciting. They were supposed to be here Friday but there was a mix up. I had tried to rush the delivery so they'd arrive before the dance performance in Williamsburg this weekend. It wasn't a big deal though. I didn't have very many opportunities to network anyway.

The performance went off without a hitch, though. Of course, on my end there wasn't much chance for failure as the music was already recorded and there was no actual performing. Seeing the dance with the music and hearing it all on big speakers was pretty awesome. I'm pretty sure someone took video of the whole night. There were two main choreographers, one being the person I worked with and the other being my friend who introduced me to her. They performed a duet first that was choreographed for them and then Julia, my friend, showed her piece. Jahna, the one I worked with, had her three pieces performed after the intermission. Julia's was a long piece with about nine dancers and several changes of costume (incredible costumes, too...at one point, two of the dancers wore a dresses that were sewn together). Halfway through the piece, some of the dancers filtered through the audience and started to interact with audience members, myself and my friend Lacy included. That was bizarre but quite innovative I thought.

Jahna's three pieces were pretty awesome too, of course, I'm biased toward the first one which had my music. I enjoyed it thoroughly even with a few people rudely whispering through part of it.

Overall, this was a good experience, working with the dancer and I will probably be doing more of this kind of thing sooner or later. It's good after all to have many things on your list of things I have done and can do. For those who still haven't heard the piece here it is:

In other news, I may have mentioned here or posted on Facebook that I thought my Kombucha had grown mold but I was wrong about that and now am drinking the good stuff and, let me tell you, it is good. Well, good enough. It's not bubbly like the commercially bottled stuff but it certainly tastes like it's supposed to.

Beyond that, all this work on the website and waiting for the edit of the voice over demo is what is currently occupying my mind. I'll be sure to post as soon as the website's ready to publish so you all can see. There's going to be some major linkage between all my pages. I realized two important things in all my research and reading of articles: one is that there should be as few clicks to get to music as possible. You don't want anyone losing interest or, in the case of my parents, just not being able to find your music (Thanks, mom for directing my attention to that fact). Facebook is unhappily a culprit here as it's not that easy for someone to link to my music page. I had to put my own link to the fan page on my personal Facebook page near the top. Two is that there should be as little extraneous information as possible on the surface. I've seen so many home pages of website positively littered with content to the extent that you can't even see anything of value amongst the noise. Less is more they say. I've become fond of web page designs that have simple one short word links on the home page, music or sound instead of music portfolio, for example, or Buzz instead of Testimonials or Articles and Links.

But anyway, I will additionally post a blurb when I finally get the final edit of the voice over demo. For now, I'm excited because, as I typed this blog, I was in and out doing laundry and such and the cards came while I was down in the laundromat. Luckily, being it Columbus day, or Indigenous People's Day if you prefer, my cousin was home to sign for them. They look awesome!!!!!! But I will not spoil the surprise by showing you early what the design looks like. You'll see it when the web page is ready for publishing!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Performances soon!

Been a few days and I thought I'd drop in and update. Since the last blog, I finished that piano piece that I was sitting on for two years and emailed it to my choir director at the UU Church. He's looking over it now. Says he likes it so far. With any luck I'll be telling you it's being performed soon.

Speaking of performances, next Friday and Saturday, the 8th and 9th of October, Where We Fall is performing at Triskelion Arts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and one of the pieces on the program features my music! It's been a long time waiting for this one as I started writing the music back in the earlier part of the year and finished in July. I'm pretty excited this being the second premier of my music in New York City in just over a year and a half of living here.

What a run so far, don't you think? Anyway, the combination of that thought and the fact that I've picked up momentum with my writing again makes me want to negate a few things in that last blog entry. I know I sounded a little distraught and I didn't apply for that gig but a few weeks before I applied for some other ones (no responses yet, of course). But ultimately, it didn't shake my confidence all that much, seeing the perfect job and realizing I wasn't ready to apply for it.

Anyway, the new website should be happening soon, and by happening I mean I should be starting on designing it soon. Once the logo for the new business is finished and I have all the elements in place, all that remains is to design the interface. Content will all be for the most part the same. Perhaps I'll condense my music reel but other than that, straight up, film reel, music reel, voice over demo, bio, testimonials, etc. Excited to get it underway. Hopefully, then I'll be a little more gung-ho about applying for composing gigs since I'll have a prettier web face, so to speak.

Right now, it's a somewhat painful wait. The design of the logo is all but done, for now I just wait for the next step. The VO Demo is in the can but they're now editing it, adding music etc. I told them to cut me a version with and without music so I can later supply my own.

At any rate, I'd say despite my disillusion in the last entry, I think things are coming along just as they should and with any luck I'll keep up this momentum into next year. Writing the rest of piano piece was a good way to start because it got me back in touch with my old methods and I even started to think of new ones. Remember how I was complaining about my room not being the best place to compose? Well, I found as many ways as I could to get away from the computer during the past few weeks and I remembered in the process why Dr. E was always telling me to not write at the computer. You see things so much more clearly when you're sitting in front of a piano vs. a computer. Even printing the score out and taking my idle time at work to look it over helps immensely. I make notes. I take it back to the piano. I try things. I make more notes. Then, and only then, do I come back in front of the computer and make edits. PDF creation software is awesome too. I don't have to worry about needing a place to print out my scores if I can just email PDFs to myself and to the appropriate parties.

These are the things you pick up when trying to streamline your compositional process. The whole time I was writing (and just about every other time I dive into a project), I was thinking about how much something like a laptop computer would streamline my compositional process. I mean, for starters, I wouldn't have to wait until I got home to make edits. Think of the time saving there! Of course, I'd be lugging around a laptop and risking getting it stolen but man, what I could accomplish. There's that equipment envy though. In time. When I can afford it. Which may not be that far off. I won't say much more about that though.

Sidebar, I worked my first shift at the Park Slope Food Co-Op. Just as I thought, the requisite 2 hour and 45 minutes shift breezes by. I started off helping to stock produce, grabbing boxes of zucchini and kale off of the conveyor belt and rotating stock in the cooler. Then I wound up processing produce, meaning, slapping organic stickers (stickers that say organic, not organically grown stickers) on peppers and shallots, etc. Then I found myself talking to Jesse, a fellow pianist, while peeling rubber bands off of arugula, unusable by both the co-op and the soup kitchen up the street, that was bound for compost and then carrying said compost out back. After that, I spent the last half hour breaking down cardboard boxes and I was out of there. As I had initially posited, such a requirement was totally worth the cheap groceries it has afforded me. In fact, it was slightly easier than I imagined, the only hitch being that I stupidly chose an 8am shift on every fourth Wednesday of the month. I still I think I'm going to like this.

I have to get to work now, that other thing I do with all of my time. See you soon.