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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. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oh yeah, I'm a composer...

It feels good to be composing again.  Seemingly, under a month ago I was complaining about doing all this freelance TV work and not having much time to write.  Now, here it is mere weeks later and I've got several music projects lined up, only one of which I knew about in advance.  In fact, the one I did know about developed into several projects in one.

The trailer for "The Life" is being produced right now as we speak and on top of that I'm going to be working on a song for the end credits of the series with singer/songwriter Amanda Brecker.  Extremely excited about that collaboration which came out of the blue earlier this week.

I'm also currently composing a piano theme for a film I'll be scoring, prior to shooting, for a director I worked with last year.  So far the director and I have zeroed in on an overall mood and tonality and a basic melody which I will be fleshing out later this week.  They begin shooting on the 19th of August.

Add to that, a friend connected me with a .org that she works for that is looking for a 7 second bumper for their online learning channel (kinda like the opening to TED Talks).  The News Literacy Project is an educational program that promotes media literacy among high school kids.  So, that project is happening concurrently with the above and I'll likely be working directly with the motion graphics editor this week to find something that will highlight her animation.

All of the above events have me in this strange euphoric state right now.  I can't believe I got so much work all at once.  I'm still working every day of the week, sometimes at both jobs (TruTV and NY1) so finding the time for all these projects is going to be a bit of a challenge.  But that's never stopped me before.  I'm hoping to meet with Amanda this Friday to talk about our collaboration; it sounds like I'll be seeing the first drafts of the animation for the .org by Friday or Monday; and I'm hoping that tonight I can start drafting some musical ideas for "The Life" trailer.

Recording in my living room in the last few hours before my cousin returns from vacation seems like a good idea...even if it will be after midnight.  My downstairs neighbors have never complained even when I would play the piano, which, I'm sure, they would have to be able to hear.  A little acoustic guitar, post midnight, never hurt anyone.

As for the theme for Ben's film, I've got a leg up on it and I just need to start dragging my laptop around with me so I can work on the structure of the piece.  I think I'll actually score this one out using Sibelius, which I realize I haven't used in a good long while because I haven't really had a need to score anything since last summer.  So that should be fun.

Another thing I may need to try and accomplish tonight though is to submit an audition for a voice over job I was invited to audition for at Edge Studio. The deadline is 3pm tomorrow so hopefully I can hammer that out tonight.

And this leads me to my next exciting piece of news, and ya know what? Never mind. I don't want to jinx it. You'll know when I know. It's voice over related, I will say that.

On to a final piece of news: this past weekend my brother and his wife welcomed Donovan Eugene Stewart Daoust into the world. He was born at 8:06 pm Saturday night, just as I was going on stage with Lacy at Jamey's House of Music in Philly. I'm incredibly psyched to visit them in a few weeks and meet the little guy. He's adorable. :)

That'll be a nice little break as well, getting out of town for a slice and then a little nostalgia, likely visiting my old college town and some friends there. Updates to come on the projects as they advance!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Doldrums...

Yes, it's summer.  Yes, there's a heat wave.  Let's get that out of the way.  I've been so exhausted I barely have any energy left to rant about how it's just now occurring to me, after having a ceiling fan installed in my living room, that the A/C unit we have is just not powerful enough to cool this apartment.  It reads what I think, or must assume is, ambient temperature and currently it says 89 degrees.  It feels slightly cooler than outside in here so I don't understand where it's reading that temperature.  I round up and that says 90 to me.  At this point, I really can't even have a sheet on me in my bed because it's so so hot in my room.  The situation is that the A/C can only be plugged into one outlet due to the old wiring in the apartment.  One breaker is wired just for the room where the A/C unit is and the other breaker is for everything else.  We found this out over a year ago the first time we tried to toast and microwave at the same time and I had to tumble down 4 flights of stairs to the basement to trip our breakers.

So, that's where I'm at as I come back from Manhattan at 2 in the morning and start thinking about trying to sleep in this.  I know it happens every year but it just sucks.  And I know I'll feel different when we hit that week where the temperature drops to the teens in January but we've got autumn between that and this so I'm not thinking about that right now.  I am thinking about another A/C unit with a higher BTU than our current.  And the great music I just saw tonight at Rockwood.  Mieka Pauley again.  I think I'm in love...or something like it. 

But, that's not what I want to talk about tonight.  I'm finally writing again.  For a film that the director I worked with last year just sprung on me.  At the moment all I'm doing is developing a theme for the main character in a quirky dark comedy with nothing to go on but the script and a few youtube links with music he'd like it to sound like.  I'm struggling with something though. Often, as a film composer, or a composer in general, I get asked to compose something that sounds like [insert style, genre, specific song here].  My question is always "how do I do that and still be original?"  Don't get me wrong.  I can emulate with the best of them.  Comes from having experience singing, piano-ing and guitar-ing in a very wide range of styles and having a freaking masters degree in music composition.  But some days I just want to write what I want to write and have the director say "yes, that!  Keep that shit coming! More of that Tim Daoust signature shit!" Instead of having them say, "can you make it sound like [insert style, genre, specific song here]?"  

It makes we wanna shake them and say, "let me do my freaking job for Chrissake!"  But I know that would be unprofessional and that I should really center myself and ask, the question I just posited in the last paragraph: "how do I do that and still be original?"  I know I can do it.  I did it here with the help of the inimitable Crystal Bright on the accordion.  A director wanted accordion music à la the Amélie Soundtrack for his production reel so I picked this song to sort of model it after.  And I think I did pretty well plus I put my own rock edge into it (listen around 1:28).  So, now I need to figure out how to do something along these lines for the current project.  And it hit me the other day, that yeah, I can do this so stop being such a sour puss about it.  It's a challenge in its own rite and if I put myself in the right mindset, it could certainly be a worthy one.  I don't always have to be working on a project where I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. After all, this is all work for hire stuff.  Of course, to some extent, I'm going to have to bow to the desires of whomever I'm working for.  And it may be years before I meet a director who likes my stuff and seeks me out for it instead of just liking working with me and knowing I can emulate what they want.

It does sort of bring me down sometimes though.  I get to thinking, "am I ever going to get to where I'm writing film music that's highly personal and unique to me if I keep writing for people who just want it to sound like their favorite music?"  I'm sure every film composer in the history of film composers have asked this question, on down to John Williams himself (sorry, I just went with one of the most recognizable film composers there).  I'm sure he had to compose a bunch of stuff that wasn't unique to him first before composing the stuff he's known for and, in fact, probably sought out for.  Or did he?  I'll have to ask him sometime.

Anyway, it's late and I'm rambling and I wish I lived alone so I could sit down at the piano right now.  As it stands, it'll be a few days before I can do so again.  So much work, plus Lacy and I are gearing up for the great city of Philadelphia next week.  More on that later.  Good night kids!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lots of Live music...

Another weekend chock full of live music.  I ask myself, did I ever once think I wouldn't deliver on my promise of going to see more shows this year?  Seriously, I could probably have done it by accident with the amount of music to be seen in this city.  Add to that that I've found a new favorite music venue on the LES.  Rockwood Music Hall.  I guess I shouldn't say I've found it or it's new, because I've known about it for some time and it's been around itself for quite some time.

Rockwood is on Allen St. just below Houston and consists of two stages, the number 2 being the bigger and the one I've yet to check out.  Stage 1 is truly intimate, usually packed and I've now been on two separate nights.  First to see a band called The Get It a few weeks ago, a night on which I was exposed to yet more amazing music on top of what I came to see.  This past Friday night, I was just looking for something free for me and a friend of mine to do and it turned out that Lacy had also planned to come that night to check out Niall Connolly, an Irish rocker with a six piece band including two lead guitars and a trumpet player.  Niall was high energy, a fantastic performer and his songs were great.  Before going I checked out the other performers and became highly enamored of the singer who played after Niall, Mieka Pauley, a soulful bluesy rocker with quite a bit of acclaim so far.  Her songs are gripping and her voice show-stealing.  Check out a track called "You Never F*** a Woman That You Don't Love," and "Marked Man" which she sung a capella at Friday's show.

As if that wasn't enough, I finally got to see Lorraine Leckie and her Demons at Zirzamin, the club Lacy and I are playing on Sunday, the 14th.  Lorraine has been an open mic regular and we'd seen her perform solo tons of times at the mics we would do, but last night, I went to Zirzamin to hear her with the full band, The Demons.  It was everything I could have hoped for...minus the heat in the backroom where the A/C was not working.  Lorraine's songs are bluesy and sometimes comically macabre.  Hearing them realized with a full band was quite satisfying.  The band itself was tight and Lorraine had her backup singer crooning along with her.  I chatted with their phenomenal lead guitarist afterward about his '98 Gibson SG, too.

After the show wrapped up we headed over to Otto's Shrunken Head because one of Lacy's new friends wanted us to see his friend's band Danny's Devil's Blues.  Never have I seen a more raucous rockabilly blues get up that was this tight.  And thank god the A/C was on at Otto's.  These guys are definitely worth checking out.  Unfortunately, I could not stay for the whole show but will definitely have to check these guys out again another time.

So that was that, another weekend of live music in the city.  And next weekend, I may try to go see something at the Prospect Park Bandshell (the lineup this summer is pretty awesome) on top of performing myself with Lacy at Zirzamin.  All you New Yorkers who aren't afraid to stay out on a school night should come out and support us.  It's Lacy's birthday after all!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Performing vs Composing...

Am I becoming more of a performer than a composer?  Is that a good thing? And am I becoming a different kind of composer in that I'm composing different genres of music now than what I was composing years ago?

Okay, weird questions, but they've been cropping up every once in a while and I thought I'd address it tonight because, in a rare moment of solitude and relative tranquility, I actually have the time to stay up late blogging without worrying about getting enough sleep.  Tomorrow (Sunday, which is today because it's taken me this long to finish this blog), I literally have nothing planned except an afternoon yoga class I may not even attend because I tweaked my wrist a few days ago and it's not exactly easy to do things like plank pose and hand stand or any arm balances for that matter.

So, to hell with going to bed.  Lately, I've been thinking about not getting to compose enough  of my own stuff and how it's affecting me.  Not only that, but I've also been thinking about what I've been composing now versus what I've been composing over the last few years.  My enthusiasm is waning for some types and all but gone for others while I'm becoming much more enthusiastic about still others.  I remember a time when I first moved here and I was still fresh out of academia imagining that I would be writing chamber pieces and symphonies and having them performed and blah blah blah.  Those things never really crystallized and somewhere along the line I sort of abandoned the contemporary music scene.  I started to realize (shortly after my last premiere with Tania) that I was tired of spending so much time composing and rehearsing something that would be performed maybe only a handful of times and be seen/heard by a only a few people and which I might get a good recording out of that I could throw on my reel.  Beyond that even, I wanted something that I could relate to as well and that would have some kind of staying power.  Something maybe that I was performing myself. 

And then, on top of that, I wasn't even sure I was connecting with the music I was trying to write.  In a way, it just stood as sort of an exercise, like grad school itself, to learn how to compose, arrange, rehearse an ensemble and put on a concert.  I started to realize, however, that this stuff I was writing was false.  It wasn't organic.  To some extent, it was even a stretch that I was writing it.  And I mean mostly the particular genre: contemporary academic art music.  Something about the audience, the venues and the ultimate end product just doesn't speak to me anymore.  And I'm not sure it was ever my scene. 

What really hit me is that part of what was wrong is that in a lot of these cases I wasn't the one performing.  It's not music I would necessarily perform on the instruments I can play and the genres in which I started out performing, i.e. rock music (guitar) and classical music (piano).  Okay, so with this song I sang in the bass section when it was performed and with this piece I sampled Tania's piano playing and performed the electronics live.  But ultimately, I'm writing these pieces for instruments I don't play and trying to get other people to realize them and hence it doesn't come across as organic to me.  It doesn't always turn out like you want it.

It's funny because it reminds me of back when I played in rock music and I first found my motivation to start composing my own music and stop collaborating with band members in a one for all, all for one kind of approach to song writing.  I was tired of having to bow to other people's desires about how a song should turn out so I wanted to write my own stuff but now I realize that composing ensemble pieces, even where I'm the sole composer, represents its own challenges.  Challenges I've no doubt learned a considerable amount from, but challenges nonetheless.  That was really a sidebar though.

What I'm getting at is that in the last few years, I've started to accept that the music I write really ought to be a lot more personal.  That's a lot of what this journey has been about.  Some of the best work I've done, meaning that which I'm most happy with, have been works where I played every instrument, recorded, produced and mastered everything.  But that's not to say that I haven't had some wonderful collaborations.  Working with Murat Keyder on this one was one of my favorite experiences since I moved here.  And working on the score to Sword in the Shadow with the amazing Japanese flute player, James Schlefer, was great experience.  

But what's more personal than Tim Daoust writing rock and electronic music?  Things like this song that I wrote over 10 years ago.  And this song that I also wrote almost 10 years ago that I recently revamped.

Granted, none of this is to say I won't ever write for the contemporary concert hall again.  I may someday.  But right now I want to revisit that side of me and performing again with Lacy has made me remember how much I enjoy performing in popular genres versus academic esoterica that nobody gets but I swear people pretend to like just to seem worldly and educated.

Lucky thing is that the music for my next project, the finished pilot episode of "The Life" is so guitar driven that it comes extremely easy to me.  Once I zeroed in on what George wanted for the underscore and the main title theme, everything fell together.  And I'm really happy with what we've done so far.

More than that, I'm happy in general now that I've come full circle, gotten the experience in composing orchestral music and working with exotic instruments and come right back around to composing the music that I enjoy but with a dusting of influence from everything I've touched on along the way.  Mind you, this doesn't mean that every score I do is necessarily going to be guitar based, but it does mean that the stuff I write for myself is going to be a lot more focused on guitar and electronics and is not going to bow to the standards of academia that I felt were boxing me in so much.

Of course, now the thing is finding the time to finish the songs I've started.  And when will I perform them?  Stay tuned.  I really need to sleep now because tonight, the night after I started this blog, I still need to get up early the next day.  My last regular day at CNN for a while.  I'll be starting at TruTV on Tuesday.  Wish me luck!