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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. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Show tonight!

Killing my last hour in Philly before I head back to NYC, finding myself in the same coffee shop as last time, the one with the gluten free bread option.  Lacy's at her friend's place doing makeup and we hope to be leaving before 11:30am.  We have to load in at Drom at 4:30pm but before that we're dropping by our respective apartments and then by a friend of mine's place in Crown Heights to pick up a keyboard stand because yours truly does not actually own one.

I was thinking about just going to Guitar Center on the way in to town because I need one anyway but it occurred to me that I do have a ton of keyboard playing friends in the city.  Luckily, the first one I tried was willing to offer his keyboard stand.  Hopefully, that won't take us too far out of our way.  

Meanwhile, I've been adding blog to the main web page at www.timdaoust.com, describing my process with my current guitar set up.  There's one more to write and I'm working on that one currently.  It's kind of exciting that I'm finally at a point with getting it all working where I can sit down and explain how I did it.  I had moments of stress with the FCB1010 MIDI footswitch where I asked myself why in the world I bought the damned thing because it seemed like so much work to figure out how to get it working and then tame it to do what I wanted it to do.  But now I can switch between different setups, turn effects in Guitar Rig on and off and most importantly, record, loop and overdub using a free software called Mobius.

The last blog entry will hopefully be up this weekend and if you're interested you can check it out.

And if you're in NYC tonight, please come out to the show and support us.  We'll rock your faces off.  We promise.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Stone...

Last night got weird.  But in a good way.  I saw a band called Genes and Machines whose guitarist Lacy knows at a venue called The Stone in the E. Village at 2nd Street and Avenue C.  The Stone is a hole in the wall not-for-profit experimental music performance space tucked away in a non-descript building on a non-descript corner in Alphabet City.  Until they raise the gate, and you can see the name of the place in gold lettering on the front door, there's no indication that this is even the place you're looking for.  Lucky for me, I knew this going into it and as I was passing a woman on the street, I overheard her asking someone where The Stone was and he pointed it out to her just as I was walking up to it.  Looking down at the door, there it was right at waist-level, gold lettering indicating "The Stone."  That same woman asked me if we were in the right place as I pushed open the door.

It was a very narrow long room inside with rows of folding chairs filling up the back half of the room.  Lacy was not there yet so I found a seat near the front but fairly soon got crammed in with other spectators such that I couldn't save her a seat and wound up enjoying the show by myself.  The show.  They came out all dressed in funky outfits, all of them an homage to the fact that we are now in the year of the snake.  The singer stripped out of a zipped jumper to reveal a snakeskin jacket, under which he was shirtless, and green sparkly pants.  Their percussionist had the most outrageous cobra hat on his head.  Lacy's friend Adrian played guitar, they had two kit drummers, one with lots of electronic drums, another female singer who played a keyboard (my exact keyboard, the M Audio Axiom 49) and bass alternately, and the first singer with the snakeskin jacket played also my same keyboard plus a weird looking painted ergonomic computer keyboard strapped to his belt which appeared to be controlling his laptop.

This set up and their outfits alone led me to believe this was going to be out on the edge.  I was immediately enthralled by the palate of sounds they wove in all of their songs but as the night went on I was equally impressed by the array of musical styles they touched on throughout the night: punk rock, jazz, noise rock, even a song or two that sounded like surf rock.  If that wasn't enough fun, they had a dancer improvising in a very tight space for a couple of the songs.  This light and lithe dancer was also almost completely naked and painted head to toe in a bright orange snake skin like pattern.  At one point she even danced around the crowd, picking random people to come and dance with her.

The band is called Genes and Machines and are well worth checking out.  If not for their theatrics alone, the music is something else.  To top the coolness of the night off, Lacy informed me post-show that the curator was none other than Vernon Reid from the band Living Color.  How cool is that?!

Afterward, we walked the East Village in search of wine and food for me, even passing inadvertently by the venue for next week's album release party.  Drom.  It's hidden under a sushi bar...well not so much hidden.  There is a sign above it.  I took one look at it, though, and all I saw was a sushi bar.

The show is getting closer and closer every day and we're now planning a rehearsal in Philly on Wednesday night.  That will put us coming straight back to NYC to load in because, we realized, it makes no sense to try and unload the equipment anywhere else first (like my apartment or hers) because we'd just be loading it back up in mere hours.  As such, it looks like we're going to spend a morning in Philly and perhaps get to sleep in after a late night rehearsal.  Meanwhile, I'm busy practicing the parts I didn't play in Philly and also, somehow, trying to keep up with voice auditions and, somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm thinking about my next tracks that I'll be sending to the licensing agency.  Crazy life.  I hope to see you guys out at the show next week if you're in town and can make it.  Here's the event invite on Facebook.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Adventure Continues...

So, I just had a really great time in Philly playing with Lacy James at L'Etage for her CD release party, catching up with an old friend, and meeting new friends the whole weekend long.  The guys in the band we hired were all amazing professionals, most of whom played on the album.  And I got to toast 10 years of friendship with my friend Virginia.  

On Friday night we headed out there, late unfortunately, because, for Lacy, there was an overwhelming amount of stuff to get done so she was forced to push it down to the wire. We made it to Turtle Studios in South Philly just in time for rehearsal and met all the guys. Getting started right away we pushed on until just past midnight so that we could try to touch on each of the 14 songs at least once.  By that point, though, everyone was pretty much exhausted and Lacy nor I had even seen our respective hosts nor dropped off our bags.  Lacy and I discovered soon that the friend she was staying with lived ridiculously close to the friend I was staying with, which made the whole weekend's logistics just slightly less complicated.  And made for an easy decision on my last night there.  

Early Saturday morning we all reconvened at the studio and began fine tuning each song so the guys could all lock in the structures and we could coordinate things like who counts in which songs and for Tony, our percussionist and hammered dulcimer player, could learn the ins and outs of the occasional keyboard parts he had to play when both Ross and I were playing guitar.  It was so much fun working on a show like this with so many instrument changes and it really does keep you on your toes.  I had to play the electric and acoustic guitars, the keyboards (both piano and synth, sometimes multiple synth parts on the same song) and the mandolin in addition to singing backup vocals on three of the songs.  Tony was all over the place with different percussion toys and drums on different songs, the dulcimer on two songs and keys on a few more.  Even Ross opted to play the bells on In The Garden, a tune off Lacy's first album.   The only people who stayed put were Jeff on bass and Alec on the drums...and of course Lacy on vocals.  

After our Saturday rehearsal stretched until 2pm, we gathered up our stuff and I went to finally eat a decent meal (I had been eating mostly fruit and nuts to save time the whole morning) at a place called Silk City diner.  Steak and Eggs has never tasted so good.  Then I finally met with Virginia, with whom I was staying.  Poor Cylar, her daughter, was sick and miserable but we hung out with her the rest of the afternoon while we waited for the babysitter to come. Then we took the bottle of wine we had bought while out on a walk with Cylar to a restaurant called Figs close to V's place.  The food here was amazing and I didn't have to worry about gluten because all of their sauces are advertised as gluten free.  So, that was nice.  I believe I ordered the crab-stuffed sole with mashed potatoes and haricots verts while Virginia had this duck breast with some kind of bread and spinach.  It was pretty tasty, too.  

After our dinner, we went to meet some of her friends at a bar sometimes referred to as the most Philly bar in Philly.  Bob and Barbara's.  Home of the Citywide Special (a PBR and a shot of Jim Beam).   We were crashing a girl's night and stayed here a good hour or so listening to good jazz while I got to know some of her Philly friends.  Every time V ordered the Citywide, I ended up drinking the shot half, due to my dietary restrictions.  So, by the time we got to the next place, a combination beer and bowling alley in the Northern Liberty neighborhood often referred to as NoLibs, I was ready to call it a night. Luckily, so was V so we went back to relieve the baby sitter and turn in. After all, Sunday was to be a long day and I wanted to be at my best.  

A good eight hours of sleep later, I woke up refreshed and we hit up another local restaurant called the London Grill for brunch.  This place had a build your own Bloody Mary bar and several different infused vodkas, the most interesting one being bacon-infused, understandably listed at the top of the Vodka menu. I'm not really a Bloody Mary person but I figured, "why not?"  After all, when in Rome.  I enjoyed it, too, until I got a little too experimental, after going back to look over the other ingredients they had, and dumped too much liquid smoke in.  Before it was just tomato juice, celery bitters, pickled watermelon and a host of spicy things like chipotle pepper sauce, black pepper and the like.  

Kevin, Virginia's husband showed up part way through brunch because he had been visiting a friend of his, the previous night so we got to catch up a little bit too, which was nice.  I left them around 3, so I could reconnect with Lacy to pick up our equipment which was left at the studio all weekend.  I found her and her friend at a local coffee shop, OCF, (which had gluten free options for all the offerings!) across from the Eastern State Penitentiary and, after they finished their food, we walked back to her friend's place to get some merchandising details sorted out because her friend would be helping with that at the show.  Then we trucked it over to Turtle, picked up what we could and went to load in at L'Etage.  

The venue is above a creperie type restaurant on Bainbridge and N.6th Streets called Beaumonde.  Cool thing about this place is that, on our way back from Raleigh back in December, we stopped through and asked them if they would make their crepes without the crepes (as in just a pile of ingredients). They were accommodating and, in fact, said they do it all the time.  Gluten free seems to be catching on all over the place.  The bartender was even nice enough to check several dishes for me with the cooks in the kitchen.  We ordered and ate upstairs after having set up (which took almost no time at all) and sound checked. The stage at L'Etage was weirdly shaped (essentially a raised and elongated rectangle with banquets on three sides) so set up was a bit of a challenge but, even with six cooks in that kitchen, we were able to come up with a set up that took advantage of a long table that usually sits up there that we used for the keyboards and laptops. Lacy and I set up on either side of it at the front of the stage and everyone else behind us.  Tony and I were dancing around each other the whole time as my set up was basically right next to his and he had to use some of my setup (namely, the keyboard) and I had to keep going behind him to pick up different guitars.  

All in all, the performances were a success and we were well received by a diverse crowd, most of them either my friends or Lacy's friends and family and members of her production team and the producer from her first album.  We all had a great time and stayed behind for a few drinks after the premier of the video for Old Languages, which was also well received.  I had a ton of fun performing again and especially with such talented musicians.  All of whom were highly professional and pulled together an astonishing fourteen songs in an incredibly short amount of time.  I had the advantage of knowing them all ahead of time (some more than others) for the most part and having rehearsed them with Lacy a bunch, but they had to learn a lot on their own and piece it together without us there.  

Luckily, we made it work and were even able to improvise some parts that we didn't have the instruments for. The show at Drom in the East Village in a week and a half is going to be tons of fun as well but will present new challenges as we will have a slightly different lineup.  I will be playing guitar on more songs and Tony will play keys where I am unable to.  But the challenge of realizing recorded music in a live format is part of the fun of this whole experience.  I have been performing with Lacy for just about two years now and having a blast working with her.  She is such a creative person and her music presents all kinds of new challenges to me but it is always refreshing to be challenged musically.  It always inspires me to do more with my own music and reminds me how much I love performing live.  Up until Lacy and I teamed up I wasn't really performing live and would get something I dubbed "rock out envy" every time I went to see an awesome band. Now, I'm finally feeling in my element again performing.  And closer doing what I want to be doing.  

Anyway, we had one last night of drinking, just Lacy and I and her friend in the Fairmount neighborhood.  It was so damned cold that, after storing our stuff at her friend's place and parking, we slid into the first open bar we could find and chatted the night away.  This morning I actually ate at that cafe with the gluten free options, OCF cafe and we headed out of town from there, the Philly adventure over for now, arriving in Brooklyn with just enough time for me to decompress for half an hour before coming to work.  

This week we'll hopefully get to rehearse some and prepare ourselves for a slightly different experience. Next week's show at Drom is on the 28th of February, so if you're in NYC I expect you to come out and support!  It'll be legendary! Plus, there's the premier of the video for Old Languages directed by my good friend Mohammad Maaty.  Show starts at 8pm! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Discouraged, I am not...

Discouraged.  That's what I'm trying not to be right now.  I've had a couple of hits in a short amount of time and I'm trying to turn my mood around because, after all these years of plugging away at this, I realize that it does me no good to dwell on negativity. 

An exercise then.  To list what's bothering me so I can go ahead and decide how I'm going to deal with it all.  First off, my mandolin somehow broke itself while sitting in its gig bag on the floor beside my bed.  We use it on an acoustic version of one of Lacy's songs and we may have to perform said version at an impromptu show next week.  I'm sitting here hoping I can find one to borrow because I do not have the money to replace it and will find out tomorrow if I have the money (and the time, for that matter) to fix it.  My day starts out kind of wonky and several tiny things get under my skin while making breakfast and while heading to yoga, to which I was late because the train sucks.  On top of that a fairly new pair of boots I have been trudging around in broke today.  We're talking two months old pair of leather boots, salt stained from walking over snow and ice-treated sidewalks and streets that I bought on sale for $40, and the sole underneath the right heel cracks and breaks apart from the uppers and I'm walking crooked for the rest of the day.  It's true that I go through shoes a lot more quickly now that I walk everywhere but two months is absurd.  Add on top of all of that, that I finally got around to listening to the competition for that remix contest I entered tonight at work and everyone sounds amazing compared to me.  I feel like I'm standing naked in front of thousands of people who have on really nice tailored clothes. 

And all I have at the end of it all is a gluten free beer and a cat on my lap to comfort me...oh, and the promise of money from the government in a few days in the form of my tax return, which isn't going to come anywhere near paying off my credit card debt, especially considering I now need a new pair of boots and possibly a new mandolin.  I really want to crawl inside a cave right now and hibernate for the rest of this bleak winter until the sun returns. 

But, I realize that this is detrimental thinking.  I can't get discouraged.  No, this is supposed to be an awesome year.  I just picked up a freelance job at TruTV and will hopefully be starting in March, I'm able to afford gluten free beer, my cat still loves me, I'm still making music and learning tons from the people I'm up against in that competition and elsewhere, getting closer to finding my niche even.  I can still get voice over jobs and, though I sometimes can't tell, I'm getting better at it, I think.  Boots and mandolins are replaceable and sometimes fixable.  Life goes on.  And besides.  This shit day ended about 30 minutes ago.  And next week, there's a strong possibility that I'm going to rock the eff out.  In Philly.  So with that said, I go to sleep and tomorrow welcome a new day...and none of this neg-head downer crap!    

Friday, February 8, 2013

Four years!

I wanted to write this blog a whole lot earlier in the day but I guess it's just a mark of how busy I am that I couldn't even make that happen.  Not that it was all work.  I did accomplish a lot today, in terms of music mostly.  Lacy and I rehearsed all afternoon but I also finished submitting my entry for the remix contest I've been talking about and even managed some errands, most notably finally taking my stuff to Goodwill to donate.  Later on I had dinner with a friend at my favorite gluten free pizza shop (even got a gluten free beer on the house when they found out I was gluten free...think it was the owner who I was talking to, himself gluten free for 8 years) and then I went to Brooklyn Raga Massive at Tea Lounge in Park Slope to meet a friend whom I knew would be there.

Today marks my four year anniversary in New York City...well, yesterday, the 7th.  It's 1am as I'm writing this.  When I first got here, being as settled as I am now in my routine and having friends whom I could just call up and have meet me wherever, was as far from reality as anything.  I knew no one, except a handful of college friends and my cousin, and had no full time job to fund such social excursions as I find myself in these days.  You could say I've come a long way but it was all, of course, inevitable.  I had to find my stride.  I remember the few times I did go out back then I'd see people who had it all together, it seemed, sitting around a table with their friends, drinking and having fun at the neighborhood bar that they all seemingly lived close to, and I sat over there wondering when I would feel as stable as they all looked.  Granted, I had no idea what their lives were really like but I knew what mine was like and I felt I had such a long way to go before I could be as comfortable as they looked.  I called it Life Envy.  Now, thinking back, who knows if they even had it together.  The point is, I still don't feel like I have it fully together, though always on the cusp, but either way, I know how to relax and have a good time.

Brooklyn Raga Massive is a gathering of musicians who play South Asian music, mostly Indian with the occasional jam session thrown in a the end.  My friend Robindra, whom I know from college and who I just recently discovered lives several blocks away from me, introduced me to the evening.  Tea Lounge was a favorite spot already but now we try to make it as many Thursdays as we can.  Tonight was amazing though.  A couple of Indian singers highlighted the night while one of the best dulcimer players I've seen tore up the stage near the end of the night.  We closed the place down and headed home not too long ago.

Now, I'm reflecting on my day.  Lacy's and my rehearsals are going really well and the both of us cannot wait to get in the studio with the other musicians in Philly next weekend to start going over the set list.  I can't tell you how excited I am to be playing with a live band again.  My roles in this concert will be pretty diverse too.  Doing guitar parts, keyboard parts and mandolin even on one song.  The concert in Manhattan will be awesome as well.

In addition to that, I'm psyched about finishing the remix ahead of the deadline.  Here's the link to my finished submission.

I wanted to write more about it in their submission form but was limited to some 365 characters or something like.  Basically, I took one listen to the song, "Golden Arrows" and decided that highlighting the syncopation in the guitar part was the way to go.  I wrote a whole new drumline with more emphasis on said syncopation but one of the first things that struck me before I even did that was this nice vocal ad lib part in between the first verse and the second verse where the singer just sings the word "Arrows" a few times.  I sampled it and had it open the song, and then brought it back, slightly sliced up, during the guitar solo and other parts of the song as an almost percussive highlight.  I messed with dropping certain parts out of the mix during different parts of the song to give it a more dynamic range, added some neat effects to both my drums for the bridge leading up to the interlude and the existing keyboard part there to give the whole section a spacier feel.  Ultimately, until this morning, something was missing.  I ended up experimenting with running the existing rhythm guitar part back through Guitar Rig with some effects, and played around with an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) on one of the parameters and came out with that triplet rhythm you hear in the guitar part now.  That sold me and I realized it was done.  Or as done as these things can be.  :)

I suggest listening to the original version here, and then listening to mine again.  Regardless of whether or not I win the contest, it was such a fun process that I hope to do something like this again soon. 

Meanwhile, I think I've had a pretty awesome four year NYC anniversary but I am tuckered out and should have been in bed a while ago.  Oh, and there's apparently a blizzard happening tomorrow so that'll be fun.  More updates to come in the next few weeks as we prepare to rock Philly and then come back and rock NYC.  Oh, and btw, I got another VO gig! Good night all!