So apparently the video for my Pecha Kucha talk back in August came out. I stumbled upon it while looking up info. on the upcoming one. Here it is. Hope you enjoy.
* TUESDAY NOVEMBER 21ST - EX NIHILO
I once wrote a chance piece that required 35 music stands, dice, Christmas lights, duct tape and scissors. Sheet music was cut up, shuffled and taped. Lights directed the performers. The Blanton Museum of Art let me premiere it. Brent Baldwin conducted it. Caleb B. Kuntz filmed it. Performed by Luis Corpus, Mark Ford, Wayne Myers, Scott Biggs, Aron Frank
* MONDAY OCTOBER 29TH 2017 - MELBOURNE 6 PIANOS
What a whirlwind! A day after my bus-opera I jumped on a plane to Australia, for two concerts for my 6-Piano Project. I haven't seen an ounce of Melbourne because it's been so crazy with set up and rehearsals! But alas, they are complete and they were wildly successful. Time for a few days of relaxation. Here are a few photos and a short video and then a few videos from the past for reference on the beginning of the 6-Piano Project that has now spanned 3 different countries and 4 different cities (Austin, Barcelona, San Antonio, Melbourne)...
*MONDAY OCTOBER 23RD - OPERA ON A BUS REVIEW
*TUESDAY OCTOBER 17TH - DIY COMPOSER PRESENTS OPERA ON A BUS
Thanks to James Courtney at the San Antonio Current for the write up today! Please take a gander if you have a few moments. It's been quite a process organizing it all and it wouldn't be possible with the dedication from all the singers and contributors in the choir this entire year. Facebook event click HERE
SHOW DETAILS ◊ Saturday October 21st 2017 – San Antonio When: Saturday 1 pm – 3pm Where: To see the performance get on the 11A Culture VIA VIVA bus at McNay at 1pm or 2pm AND/OR at Bluestar also at 1pm or 2pm. Ride lasts 30 minutes.
*MONDAY OCTOBER 16TH - SAN ANTONIO LIVING Waking up early was worth it! Here is the interview and performance we did this morning on WOAI-TV for San Antonio Living to promote VIA VIVA Cultural Adventure with my choir, From Those Who Follow the Echoes on Saturday Oct 21. [Scroll down to see the poster with details on how to attend]
*THURSDAY OCTOBER 5TH - OPERA ON A BUS
Alas, here it is. I'm extremely nervous about this production. I've been talking about wanting to do something like this since I lived in L.A. back in 2014 and now I get the chance. I have no idea how I'm going to pull it off. Two performances will be going on simultaneously in different buses. We'll run the entire show twice and hopefully it doesn't fall apart! If you live in the central Texas or San Antonio area, this is the one you wanna catch. And if you can't make it, I'll take your prayers!!!
*WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 11TH - BUS PROMO VIDEOS This weekend I went out with my choir and filmed some videos to promote my Bus Opera. Check one or all of them out. They are all short. One is a promo collage, one is a chant and the other a duet. Don't forget the performance is on the 11A culture bus in San Antonio on Oct. 21st!
*WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 4TH - RAIN FALLS IN MAY
Here is the premiere of a piece I wrote for this library performance for Kristina Yoder.
*TUESDAY OCTOBER 3RD - LIBRARY ON TO THE BUS
Here are some photos from the adventure at the library this weekend. Mark your calendar for our season finale on Oct. 21st: Opera on a Bus by From Those Who Follow the Echoes. FB event page and details coming very very soon...
*THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 28TH - SINGING ON ESCALATORS
Join us this Saturday for our performance at the public library in San Antonio (600 Soledad) as we hope to take you on a story adventure throughout the 3 stories of the building they call the "pink enchilada" [click on pic for FB event]
* TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 12TH 2017
6-Pianos is going abroad to Melbourne Australia. This will be the 4th installation What started as an experiment at my house in Austin Tex 3 years ago is still scratching and crawling it's way across the world from San Antonio, Texas to Barcelona, Spain and now Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on October 28th at Collingwood Arts Precinct as part of the Six Piano Project.
***MONDAY AUGUST 28TH 2017 - PECHA PREVIEW
Fantastic preview of Pecha Kucha by the Rivard Report. Click on the photo for the full write-up...
*WEDNESDAY AUGUST 9TH - PECHA KUCHA
I was invited to speak at the next PechaKucha San Antonio. It's a few weeks out but I wanted to share so you can mark your calendar. It's on August 29th (7:30) at the Empire Theater. Should be pretty fun no?...
* THURSDAY JULY 27TH - SAN ANTONIO FILM FESTIVAL
I have 3 films that I did the music scores for that will be showcased at the SA Film Festival. The festival starts on August 2nd and goes for a week. Please go to my TOUR page for info on the screening dates and times or click HERE
* TUESDAY JULY 18TH - 6 PIANOS IN BARCELONA
The performance for one of my pieces written for six pianos titled, The 6th Piano [The Nothingness], came out today. Please enjoy...
* MONDAY JULY 17TH - HARD RESET OUT ON STEAM
Stoked to announce that the 3D Sci-fi film, Hard Reset, which I contributed the music score for, is being released on Steam tomorrow July 18th and later on Amazon VOD, iTunes etc. The soundtrack will then come out in August!
* JULY 3RD 2017 - PIANO CANYON
7 months of brainstorming and preparation resulted in an hour of musical avant-bliss. A few photos are starting to trickle in and soon I'll share the footage we filmed. Time to rest for a few hours before I start to dig in to the next grand production
* WEDNESDAY JUNE 28TH 2017 - ELECTROCHESTRAL THE ALBUM
I was revisiting a handful of songs this summer and a few of them happened to be on my album, Electrochestral, that I released not too long ago. I'm really proud of this album and giving it a listen for the first time in a while was really nice. It's a collection of cues that were intended to be in films I was scoring at the time, but these didn't make the cut (darn directors!), but I wanted to give them life so I put this out as a collection of rejects. I hope you enjoy. It's 18 short tracks. [Also available on Spotify and iTunes]
* SATURDAY JUNE 24TH - JERRY'S ARTARAMA We just had the pleasure of being part of a Christie Blizzard's performance art piece which will debut on July 13th for ArtPace San Antonio. Here you can see us as we are being filmed for the release. _____
* THURSDAY JUNE 22ND - MCNAY to PIANO CAVERN
Here is a song in which we premiered at the McNay Museum last week. The song is titled, Alone in Stockholm. I wrote this movement while on tour last year. The lyrics are listed in the YouTube video and the full explanation of the piece will be explained when my third symphony is released. We will perform this concert in the canyon on July 1st so you don't want to miss it.
*JUNE 7TH 2017 - PIANO CAVERN Here are a few photos from my McNay performance with my street choir, From Those Who Follow the Echoes. Grand new performances planned for the future. July first in a cavern. September a full theatrical "choose your own adventure" piece, in a gorgeous 4 story library. We will definitely be utilizing the entire space!!! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer.
This Saturday I experienced something new in my music career. I held a rehearsal in a museum during their hours of operation. The patrons at the McNay were completely unaware this was going to happen and the directors at the McNay Museum expressed their interest in us rehearsing in this capacity in an effort to show our art in the process of it's creation. I could tell the choir felt the energy and importance of this process and what this particular concert means. I was happy they too experienced this and it reminded me of why I started this group that is now a family. It was to bring something fresh in our lives and the community and I'd say after 8 months we are right on track.
* WEDNESDAY MAY 17 - MY BIRTHDAY I'm sure most of you won't forget that my birthday is right around the corner on May 25th! So leading up to my bday it's hectic but I'm loving it. I'm demo'ing my house and building on my new property and I have an amazing huge concert at McNay Museum. My first time to truly choreograph for my choir, From Those Who Follow the Echoes. This will be our follow up performance to Blue Star in which we won a Cammie award for (drum roll please) "Most Aurally Stimulating Exhibit". Below is one of the performances and us rehearsing with our new award...
* APRIL 10TH 2017 - PIANISSIMO
So here we are again. After an intense filled week of rehearsals and experimenting in search of the right tuning, the 6-piano concert was finally here. It brought me joy to see this special crowd in Barcelona closing their eyes and getting lost as the piano sounds from all corners enraptured them. I leave hoping everyone found something special from their viewpoint. My body as always gave everything in presenting a work and I'm burnt to a crisp but again filled with great emotion. It's time to relax but my mind is already thinking of new grand ideas. The photos below show the process from meeting with the conductor, to rehearsing, to promoting on the radio, to partaking alone at the dress rehearsal and alas the concert. Thank you Fabricarte and thank you to all that flew in from Texas and Europe to share this experience with me. Until next time...
* APRIL 2ND 2017 - BARCELONA
My first few days in Barcelona have been great. For the most part I have been adjusting to the time change and hanging with my friend Alfonso. Alfonso is my friend whom I met while on tour in China. We toured together for a month with our bands playing in China and Mongolia and it is he that invited me to premiere my 6-Piano concert in Europe. If you have followed my blog, you may have figured out that I actually don't enjoy traveling without a purpose. A day on the beach and then I'm bored. Of course I'm traveling almost 3-4 months out of the year and I cherish every moment I'm abroad, as I know I'm fortunate. But for the most part I want to grind away on new projects or see the every day life of my friends, and this is a perfect insight full of meeting and connecting with artists.
*MARCH 26TH 2017 - BARCELONA BOUND I'm off to Barcelona this week to start rehearsals for a performance of my music for 6 pianos (scroll down to see videos). It's been an insane month with a choral performance and with SXSW and now I've been hired for a short film and to do sound design on a commercial. So needless to say I haven't had time to breathe or really post much. But I'm workin' my tail off to knock everything out so when I get on the plane I can have a glass of scotch and shift my focus to pianos. If you are in Barcelona or have friends in Barcelona please share this INVITE with them. Oh and Go Zags! Been waiting 20 years for this one.
*FEBRUARY 21ST 2017 - FROM THOSE WHO FOLLOW THE ECHOES
I apologize for every blog post having a video! But this one is long overdue. Finally I was able to edit one of the videos from the premiere of my new choir, From Those Who Follow The Echoes, at Hotel Emma last fall. With our next performance looming, I wanted to pump this one out. Come see us on March 2nd at Blue Star Contemporary for the Contemporary Art Month Kick-Off Party in San Antonio. Click to watch "Fathers & Sons" by yours truly!!!
*FEBRUARY 19th 2017 - FIRST ATTEMPT AT CHORAL MUSIC
As I embark on yet another exciting choral adventure with an amazing group of singers in Texas, I'm reminded of the first choral piece I ever wrote. I was late in discovering the beauty of the voice but when I delved into it, I got hooked. There is something special about working with any large ensemble and I remember working with the group you will see perform in this video. Rehearsals were magical in the sense that the rehearsal space was small and intimate, so I was able to get to know more than a handful of the performers. And that is what I love about music. How it brings people together for a common purpose of sharing. I can't believe years later I have my own choir. There is this special bond we have as if we've gone to battle for each other and now that we are reuniting for another concert, it feels like a family reunion. I'm excited to see how it evolves and I hope the singers have a similar sentiment. So for context, the video below was the premiere of the first choral piece I ever wrote titled, Phosphorescent Flame (also on Spotify & iTunes). If you scroll down to the preview blog post, you will find info on the next performance!
* FEBRUARY 8TH 2016 - CONTEMPORARY ART MONTH
Exciting news to announce, my new choir, From Those Who Follow The Echoes, is returning for another exciting performance on March 2nd at the Contemporary Art Month (CAM) Kickoff event at Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio (6 - 9pm). More details coming soon...
A design by Ben Humphreys
* JANUARY 28TH 2017 - BLANTON MUSEUM OF ART 2017 is off to a great start. I wrapped up my first concert of the year with my most experimental composition to date. The concert was at the Blanton Museum of Art which I have been going to since I was a teenager. The Blanton curates unique and inspiring music in it's gallery, so it's wonderful to partake in the tradition. For this concert, I was asked to write a new piece to go alongside works I curated for my Keep Composers Weird residency in 2016. Btw, applications are still being accepted for the 2017 residency, so if you are composer please have a look HERE. For my piece, I experimented with lights as cues for the players with the goal of exploring music in motion. I tried various ways of mixing blinking signals and using colored lights for certain cues (as seen here in rehearsals). Ultimately I ended finding a switch controller where I could manipulate the speed of blinking lights and turn lights on and off. Each player reacted different to each signal as discussed before the performance. During the performance the audience actually went inside one of the layers! I was pleased with the performance as the audience participation meet my expectations of having this be an interactive piece that gave off the feel of an installation. Performance photos and videos coming soon...
* JANUARY 10TH 2017 - FINALLY!...
...the video was posted by Del Mar College for the commissioned work I did in the memory of Eddie Galvan. This piece was one of my favorite to work on. I was given 6-8 months but because of an international tour, I procrastinated a bit and crammed it all in a month. Needless to say, I got very sick after I turned it in. It has a latin/spanish flavor to it so if you feel like dancin', give it a swirl
* DECEMBER 29TH - End of Year Sale
Hopefully it's not annoying that most of my latest posts have been videos but I'm really enjoying this whole editing gig. It also allows me to create content on a more frequent basis. Since this will be my last post of 2016 I wanted to share something special. This video is a sneak peak at Cacophony in Austin TX during the Neon Heaven session. I was nervous during this first session as I had never heard my piece sung before but the singers killed it. We ended up doing 6+ sessions with more singers but this first one really stuck with me. If you watch until the end, you'll see me looking a bit nervous. I hope you enjoy the beauty these singers evoke and may it bring you blessings to your ears and soul and into 2017. Godspeed!
* DECEMBER 23RD - BROKEN NOSE
Shorty after my Kaufman-inspired choral premiere I had a little accident. It's partly why I haven't posted a new blog in a while. I ended up breaking my nose in a small accident during a recreational game of basketball! So I've taken the time to lay low. During that time I started writing a chamber ensemble piece that requires the players to move in a square. It's an extension of my music in motion series. That debuts on January 19th at the Blanton Museum in Austin Texas. I also decided to take a stab at editing video since I have a lot of b-roll footage from performances in Europe and Asia. Here is my first stab. It's for my song, The 4th Moirai, off of my 2nd symphony, Neon Heaven. Check it out and let me know what you think!!
* NOVEMBER 3RD 2016 - Immersion & Andy Kaufman
Those who know me, know that I love Andy Kaufman and although I wasn't alive to witness his performance art, I have consumed as much as I can via YouTube and reading a plethora of stories and articles. He broke the norm and pushed the limits in his craft. I'm knee deep into my next project and at times I've wanted to hide and altogether quit. But I'm reminded that it's a process. And what fun is creating art if it lacks exploration and experimentation?
So I basically started my own choir. It's called From Those Who Follow the Echoes. Talk about a reality show. Cancelations and ghosting galore. But the group that has committed is beautiful and the purpose is to bring people and their stories together. Our first concert is Friday November 11th at Hotel Emma in San Antonio. The choir will be spread out within the Sternewirth room in Hotel Emma with some singers up on the balcony behind the old bar and then the rest being strategically dispersed throughout the space. A small string section will be in the center with the conductor. This performance is immersive with the audience, as attendees will be sitting and standing amongst the performers. THEN...
Here's where I get Andy Kaufman-esque... We will all jump in a bus for cookies and ice cream while singing (YES a bus! donated by Renewable Republic) and shuttle to the Hays Street Bridge that over looks the Pearl and do a pop-up impromptu performance.
So PLEASE PLEASE come and join our family, our entourage. It's going to be special.
Photos from the Immersive Music Experience at Hotel Emma!
* OCTOBER 18TH - CAN'T HOLD US BACK!!!
In celebration of "6-Pianos" being nominated for a Lonestar Emmy, David Bukstein at BUK Films put together a live film of the performance in conjunction with Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio Millennial Committee. While "6-Pianos" fell short in it's quest to win this past weekend, I'm ever grateful to KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, Chelsea Sonnen-Hernandez & Mario Troncoso for the support and collaboration. Featured in the video are conductor Alfonso Fernández Vargas and pianistsJustin Sherburn, Catherine Davis, Jeremy Holmsley, Anna Ford Larson, Aron Frank & Ben Tyler Humphreys. The two pieces I wrote for 6-pianos are titled The Fog The Fall The Rise The Return & The 6th Piano. I hope you enjoy...
* WEDNESDAY AUGUST 31ST - KLRU/PBS "6 PIANOS" EMMY NOMINATION
***Update*** 6-Pianos has been nominated for a 2016 Lone Star Emmy. Arts in Context just released a mini-doc that focused on my 6-Piano project in the fall of 2015. I think this perfectly encapsulates the spirit behind it all. It was one of the most memorable projects in recent memory. Through it I connected on a deeper level with old and new friends and community members in North Austin. It's inspired me to fully believe that one can truly do anything they put their mind to. It just takes an idea. Stop worrying about the money. Think creatively. Think D.I.Y. I hope you enjoy this piece and it inspires you.
* MAY 16TH - HARMONIOUS HARLOT
It's been a whirlwind of a time for the last 8 months. Non-stop from the moment I decided to do my first Classical Music Kegger last fall. Then it was off to Asia for a music tour. Then in L.A. for recording. Then Classical Music Kegger 2.0 in San Antonio and finally the release of my 2nd symphony, Neon Heaven. I have a lot of thoughts to share on my blog but I'm needing some time to recover and get my health in tact! I'll do small posts here and there to share some cool content from the last 8 months. For starters here are two music videos from Neon Heaven. One for Harmonious Harlot and the other from Phantasmagoria. Neon Heaven is available on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud & more.
* MONDAY MAY 9TH - NEON HEAVEN I'm more than excited to finally release my second symphony, Neon Heaven, on May 14th. I'll be celebrating the release with a listening party at the Museum of Human Achievement in Austin, TX. Here is the FB event for the info - Click HERE
I plan on giving more of a back story on the album that was almost never made. I'm thankful I can share this with you and my new found love for choral music. Check out the artwork below designed by Ben Humphries. The album will be live on Spotify and iTunes soon, but for now check out samples on my SOUNDCLOUD.
* MAY 7TH 2016 - CLASSICAL MUSIC KEGGER 2.0
Tonight is the night! Classical Music Kegger 2.0 in San Antonio. Here is a great feature the local San Antonio news did on the event.
* APRIL 12 2016 - CLASSICAL MUSIC KEGGER COMES TO SAN ANTONIO
It's BAAAAAACK! Classical Music Kegger 2.0. And this time it's going down in the TWO ONE OH in conjunction with the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio (COSA) on May 7 at the Mattress Factory (1903 S St. Mary’s) to benefit lower-income schools in the San Antonio area through enhancement of their music programs with pianos.
RSVP on FB or at email@example.com and stay tuned for a full line up of performers and alcohol sponsors.
* APRIL 3RD - MONGOLIA
I'm back in the USA and finally have a little more time to reflect on my experience in Mongolia. It was a very unique experience working with the Mongolia Philharmonic and one I'll hold close to me for various reasons. The press coverage was overwhelming. I did close to 10 different interviews. I'm still tracking down some of the content but I wanted to share an interview on TV (skip to 2:10) and newspaper (see below). And then check out the photos of me working with the orchestra and giving a huge thank-you-hug to the conductor. For additional photos go to my FB or Flickr
* MARCH 14TH - MONGOLIA
I'm in Mongolia for the first time. It's been a blast. Quite the change of pace from chaotic China! But I love both. China was great to keep my rock 'n' roll fantasy alive but it's such a thrill to be working on my symphony, The Curse the Cross & the Lion with the Mongolian State Philharmonic in Ulaanbaatar. The concert is on March 19th and so far the rehearsals have gone well. Of course there have been many communication problems, but with music being the bonding language, all settles well. The press has been buzzing about this concert. I've already done five interviews for TV, radio and print. I'll share those as they come out. For now, here is the promo video...
* MARCH 9th 2016 - The Noise Revival Orchestra China Tour
FINALLY I have a small break to post some pictures. Every day it's travel, sound check, concert, little sleep, wake up early, trains and planes, sound check....but it's been a blast so far. I waited 4 years to make my return to China touring with The Noise Revival Orchestra. Here are some photos halfway in...
[For more photos go to www.Facebook.com/TheNoiseRevival]
* FEBRUARY 1ST - ASIA I am off to China and Mongolia for the month of March! Why you ask? For music! In China I'll be playing guitar and singing with my band The Noise Revival Orchestra. This will be our 3rd tour in Asia and 2nd in China. Here is video montage of our 2012 tour in China (CLICK HERE). Then, I'll be traveling to Mongolia to work the Mongolian Philharmonic Orchestra as they prepare to perform my 1st symphony, The Curse the Cross & the Lion in the cities of Ulaanbaatar and Darkhan. I have a lot on my plate leading up to this trip and even more when I get back. But I have to follow the music and it's on it's way east!
* DECEMBER 20TH - ALBUM OUT ON ITUNES
In addition to Spotify, my new album Electrochestral is now available for sale on iTunes& Apple Music. I would love if you checked it out and let me know what you think. Email me your thoughts!
* DECEMBER 16TH 2015 - ALBUM RELEASE
Due to the high volume of people asking where they can find the full version of the song used for the Minnesota Vikings video (see my blog post below), I've decided to officially release the song titled, Viking Rise, on Spotify and iTunes along with a collection of other song motifs that have been scored for film or used in commercials or PSA's. I titled the album Electrochestral, as the album is split with songs that are electro and others that are orchestral based. Find it on Spotify or iTunes under "Nathan Felix". And if you don't use either of those you can stream it on Sound Cloud by clicking HERE _____
* DECEMBER 10TH 2015 - MINNESOTA VIKINGSTHRILLED to share a music project I just finished for the Minnesota Vikings featuring Blair Walsh. When I was a kid, I often imagined how exciting it would be to my music featured or used by a sports organization. I think I even emailed Mark Cuban once, but that's for another story! Special thanks to those who helped in the recording; Aron Frank & Jeff Elliott on violins & Amber Nepodal on horns. Soooo it'd mean a lot if you took a minute to check out this video and bask in the epic-ness of kicking.
* NOVEMBER 22nd 2015 - Good Morning Texas
This is after the fact but I wanted to share this really cool piece that The University of Texas aired on my 6-piano project. It's cool to have the school in which I'm an alumnus of recognize my efforts. I'll give a full review of the concert in the up coming days! I'm slammed doing a defensive driving course :/
* OCTOBER 24TH - MUSIC FOR 6 PIANOS
This one is going to be EPIC! It was a crazy idea that I put in motion and now it's driving me crazy but in a good way. I have 6 pianos in my house and I'm premiering new works I wrote while in L.A. A lot of this was inspired by Invisible Cities Opera. I'm calling this party my Classical Music Kegger. You immediately know what you get when you hear it but also it's my vision to present classical music in settings that are not as high-brow as normal concerts. People are really gravitating to the idea; I have beer and food sponsors, radio and television stations that want to interview me about the concept, etc. This party is not just about mixing kegs with classical music. It's about giving back. I'm working with associations to bring more creative arts events to North Austin and to give back to the communities. After the concert, the pianos will be donated to community centers and schools that lack arts programs in lower income neighborhoods.
Who says classical music can't be fun? So join us for a night of musical experimentation, celebration, at this good ol' classic kegger! Mark November 14th in your calendar!
* OCTOBER 21 2015 - DENMARK
I'm back from my Denmark trip. It was intense. Lots of meetings, speeches, and hanging with artists. Hopefully some new collaborations will come out of this trip. Here are a few photos from my trip to a castle outside of Copenhagen. It was actually the first place I visited when I first went to Denmark in 2009. To think, 7 years ago I stumbled on a place that is now considered my 2nd home and the home of some of my best friends in the world.
* OCTOBER 1st 2015 - Laredo to Copenhagen
Life is a blur! But there is no time to stop. I just wanted to take a 5 minute break and drop a quick blog. I'm taking off to Copenhagen on Sunday to spend a few weeks as I was invited to partake in a few speaking engagements. I'll also spend some time meeting with directors and artists that are interested in arrangements for upcoming albums. BUT BEFORE I jet set half way around the world, I have a few days of madness in the states. Friday afternoon I drive 5 hours south to Laredo to meet with their Philharmonic Orchestra. I'll sit in a few rehearsals and then meet to discuss the possibility of The Curse The Cross & The Lion premiering in the near future!!! Then Saturday I wake for another rehearsal and then up to San Antonio to see the San Antonio Chamber Orchestra. I'll get to Austin late on Saturday and then wake up early on Sunday to go to Houston with my brother for an audition and then I jump on a plane!!! I'm packed but I have a million things to do so please stop bothering me ;) _____
* SEPTEMBER 22nd 2015 - Austin Music Video Festival Performance
I was going to type up something clever to describe the elation I felt during my recent performance of Phantasmagoria, a movement off my 2nd symphony, Neon Heaven, but Ashley Bradley at Ovrld described it and captured it on film so perfectly...
"As part of the first Austin Music Festival, hoping to stick around annually, I went out to North Door on Sept. 18 to check out Christian Bland & The Revelators, Milezo, Three Bones and a special performance of a piece from Nathan Felix‘s upcoming symphony Neon Heaven. The piece included a choir ensemble, a pianist and an electric guitar played with a violin bow. This performance was weird, in a good way. A refreshing twist to psychedelic–the choir made faint noises while playing instruments I’ve never seen before called handchimes. The performance had audience members transfixed, laying down in front of the screen showing some incredible visuals by Bob Mustachio. Three Bones also had some wicked visuals and lighting that left them in the shadows, with just glimmers reflecting on their faces and occasional smoke. Milezo and Christian Bland closed the night in their heavy fashion, putting a pretty bow to what was a really psych time." _____
*SEPTEMBER 1ST - SOUTH TEXAS
I love visiting San Antonio. There is something special about the developing arts scene that I can't quite put my finger on. Austin gets all the hype but the magic that Austin use to have has migrated south to SA! Believe me! I spent a weekend kickin' it with my buddy, Fern, this summer after I got back from Europe. Eight weeks in Europe had me missing the Texas heat and Mexican grub. Fern lives in a complex that I can best describe as an arts compound in downtown San Antonio that at times feels like a ghost town for downtown standards. It's a dream of mine to spend a significant period of time in a place that is similar. It's also the headquarters for Fern's work with The Renewable Republic which specializes in solar installations. The campus is littered with modified school buses, an organic garden, a wood shop, an art gallery and a yurt in the massive back yard! They have a view from the yurt on their site in the about section. Click HERE to see it. Friday night is spent hanging in the court yard and catching up and everyone talking about projects or galleries they have coming up. All the talk is extremely inspiring. I talk about my 6-piano party and everyone gets excited except for Fern. He says he'll never go to another party of mine because of the infamous hernia-incident from my water-balloon extravaganza over 10 years ago! You gotta hear the story from Fern. You'll laugh your heart out!
The next morning we woke up and walked down the street to have a mexican breakfast. The meal took a few hours as new friends of someone walked in every half hour. Again the community and friendships struck a chord. It was now time to follow Fern and Jorge to check up on an installation project they finished not too long ago. I snapped a few photos of the house and spent time drinking lemonade with the owners of the house as we talked music, composing and their love for spending winters in San Antonio instead of New York! They had a beautiful home and it was a big inspiration for ideas for my current remodeling project of my house.
Next we decided it was time to take a load off and have a few drinks. Jorge insisted we go to Gloria's and I'm glad we did. The place smelled like it hadn't been cleaned in half a century but it had a killer jukebox. Fern asked the waitress to bring us their three coldest beers and then blasted out old mexican folk classics. We talked about Jorge's upcoming trip to Cuba and discussed different parts of Mexico that were great to travel to. Again it was inspiring! Despite being worn out from months on the road in Europe I was conjuring up that adventurous spirit. (Note: I went home and bought tickets to Tulum the following week for a September trip!) After Gloria's things got out of hand. I remember being in the darkest bar/speakeasy in the world, some tasty food, going to First Friday and then tons of people partying back at Renewable Republic.
Sunday was a slow day to just recap on the night and recover...with beers of course! I was headed off to float the river and go thrifting in Wimberley but before I left Fern had to show me some of the best coffee in their hood. We walked a few blocks and what seemed like in the middle of nowhere was Merit roasting company. That's what is fascinating about the area is there are little local shops spread out on each block that you feel like you are in a neighborhood with a strong sense of community that is not overloaded with people. Trust me it's charming. And I know it will change. So I'm enjoying it while I can. I'll be back in October to celebrate a gallery from another one of the Renewable artists!
* AUGUST 26 - AUSTIN MUSIC VIDEO FESTIVAL
Been a while since my last post. It's those dog days of summer I tell ya! I've been hard at work master-planning my classical music kegger on November 14th and devising a plan for music video's for NEON HEAVEN. And I just received word that my music video for my first symphony was accepted to screen at the Austin Music Video Festival. The video is for movement III, Broken Down the Walls, off of The Curse the Cross & the Lion. I love how it still has legs as it's coming up on about two years since it was released and this is about the 10th film festival it has screened at. In addition to the screening I have a performance of a new piece, Phantasmagoria, off of my new (soon to-be-released) symphony NEON HEAVEN. The performance will feature a pianist and 12 singers with conductor, Brent Baldwin, of Texas Choral Consort leading the charge. Also featured will be a backdrop of tripped out visuals courtesy of The Black Angels visual-aficionado Bob Mustachio. So come join in on the fun at the Austin Music Video Festival for my performance on FRI September 18th at the North Door starting at 10pm. _____
* AUGUST 3RD - TACOS AND TRANNYS IN THE FIVE THREEDo you dare to enter The Five Three! The zip code so many brush off. The zip code that has yet to be gentrified in Austin. My latest exploits will chronicle the underground world of The Five Three. For starters I thought I'd visit one of the numerous taco trucks. These trucks were here before the food truck craze broke out and you can only order in Spanish at these. And be prepared for spice and authentic tastes of different regions of Mexico. You can't find these tastes in the bland concoctions at Torchy's, Taco Deli, etc. Arriving at One A.M. our order was placed with Al Pastor, barbacoa, and bisteck tacos, one al pastor gringa, and an agua de melon. It's when we sat to wait for our order that we noticed a colorful circus-like atmosphere filled with white snake skinned boots with 5 inch toes, 2 tranny's in hiked up skirts (I'd never witnessed Spanish speaking tranny's before), enough cubic zirconium studded button-up shirts to ring the Patriots, girls wearing tight dresses with their stomachs busting through, a large woman sitting on the hood of a truck straddling a vaquero and grotesquely making noises as they fondled each other, and of course our amazing food! Tacos to-die-for prepared with freshly made tortillas. Ah the life of a composer! Which makes me realize I probably need to update everyone on my recent work as a composer and not just talk about tacos and Brian Wilson. There is a lot of good updates...
1) I went in to the studio last week to begin final mixes on Neon Heaven and I'm looking at a release date for late fall or early next year. It really depends how quickly I can get some music videos done for a splash of a release.
2) I have my first classical house concert on November 14th that will feature two new pieces I wrote for xi pianos! And it will be in The Five Three of course! You gotta come!
3) Austin Music Video Festival asked me to present a movement from Neon Heaven on Fri Sept 18th at North Door. I'll be showcasing a performance of Phantasmagoria (hear an excerpt here - www.soundcloud.com/CurseCrossLion). And lastly
4) I'm in pre-production to start recording my 3rd album that will combine elements of opera, symphony, eastern instruments, and shoe-gazy guitar noises. Stay tuned...
* JULY 27TH 2015 - FREE ZION
I remember the first time I played it for her. I stared at the screen and kept still. As each measure passed by I wondered if she would notice what I wanted to notice. I was holding back my emotions. This was a song I worked on so many times and every time I'd choke up. I felt a warm drop ricochet between my thumb and index finger. Then a second..a third...they wouldn't stop. I slowly turned and looked at her. Feeling exposed. Only she knew the meaning. I said nothing. With her lips quivering she mustered, "Why did you have to write about that." And she buried her head under my arm...
* JULY 16 2015 - THE GHOST OF BRIAN WILSON
Losing your hearing is never a fun thing. Especially since my work is related to music! I freaked out when I woke up today and couldn't hear much out of my right ear. I won't go in detail about the diagnosis but let's just say I've been really bummed out. But it hit me last night. Irritated about 9 pm traffic. Driving across town. Brian Wilson's ghost visited me. I accidentally slammed on the brakes and my elbow jerked forward and turned on my CD player. On came Pet Sounds!!! Ok ok, so Pet Sounds was already cued as I've listened to it at least 50 times this month as I'm studying it for my next opera recording project. But this was different. I heard it in a way I have never heard! Chills went up my spine and the hair stood up. DON'T you see! Brian Wison couldn't hear out of his right ear so he wanted me to hear Pet Sounds how he heard it! And it's magical. I won't have hearing for a few days so I'm studying Pet Sounds with Brian Wilson's ears. That led me to believe one other thing... Brian Wilson's ghost created that 9 pm traffic because how else could I arrive at my destination right as the final note played. [AND yes I'm well aware that Brian Wilson is still alive. But who's to say one can't have a ghost while still alive? Besides I'm talking about today's Brian Wilson. I'm talking out "Pet Sounds" Brian Wilson.
Hungary Serbia Kosovo Macedonia Germany Spain Portugal
Two amazing premieres... Began my opera... Lots of meetings... Saw most of my friends... Made new friends... New commission... Time to keep writing..., And planning.... _____
* JUNE 22ND 2015 - ANDRE THE GIANT Do we have any control over what happens in life or are we just pawns in a grand scheme or a game? Or do we have control yet in hindsight justify the results of our actions as fate. Just as we have no say in where we are born do we have a say in who comes in our lives? To some degree we can force it I'm sure, but may I believe that a common energy attracts one to another? In 2011 after years of writing grants and begging any orchestra to play my first symphonic composition, I was ready to give up. Looking back, I'm really glad some second-rate Texas orchestra didn't steal my money and put forth a half-ass performance. But it's easier to feel comfortable when looking back but when you are in the moment, damn it can hurt. So here is a quote from Andre in one of our first email correspondences ...
(NY: Left & Center photo 2012 : Portugal: Right 2015)
"I would be glad to take a look at your score and help you in any way I can. I am always looking for modern composers to work with and I would do that free of charge. I am in a place of my career where I can not say no to "score premieres"." This was the first positive response I had received but inside I was so certain that it would fall apart. This email came in February of 2011. We did not record until May of 2012 and I'm smart enough to know that while you need that much time to plan, it's just as likely that something can go wrong. A few snags in the road did pop up but I wouldn't be here...
blogging about this, if all had turned out well. And we even have a successful documentary that was acquired by Gaiam TV that captures the beginning of what is now an amazing friendship. Andre is like a brother to me. We want to help each other but I feel like I owe him so much. He has given so much to me that I think about it on a weekly basis of how I can use an opportunity that comes my way, to give back to my friend. He has since moved from New York to Baltimore and now to his home land in Portugal. He invited me to write a few pieces for a new orchestra he is conducting in Fatima Portugal. So here I am in Portugal!!! Premiering new music and sharing conversations with one of my best friends. And he is such a kind soul. Ok, so he does have a potty mouth (sorry Andre but that totally makes you who you are) but he has such a generous spirit. He encourages me in my development but critiques me in a way that doesn't allow me to become complacent in my writing and experimentation. That's what I love about classical music is that for me it's so new as if I was in a candy store for the first time! And then I find out there is a secret cellar below the candy store that I haven't even scratched the surface of! So here are some photos of my trip in Portugal. I hope to release a recording of some of the music performed in the future. And I hope to give back to Andre ten fold for he was the first to give me an opportunity and give me hope that there is a path out there for my crazy dreams...
* JUNE 16 2016 - DIGGING A HOLE
I can't help but think of the Beatles. Of course my mom played Sgt. Peppers on repeat every night for what seemed like a year. But I can't really remember the lyrics anymore. I became a Beach Boys fan and got tired of the Beatles. I think about Brian Wilson quite a bit and all he went through. At such an early age having such great success coupled with his past...and oh ya...drugs. Anyone that know me knows Pet Sounds trumps all. I actually popped it in recently and heard something entirely new in the lyrics! But I digress. I'm digging a hole in me. I'm digging deeper inside than I've explored before. Its painful. But its honest. Maybe too honest. But what happens when you keep digging? Does your shovel hit a rock and it ends there? Can you dig so deep that you can't see the light shining in? Can you dig so deep that you can't get out? Do you reach the core? Man, I have a feeling no matter what this is really going to hurt...
* JUNE 14TH 2015 - GROUND HOGS DAY
I never watched the end of ground hog day but I LOVE the movie. Does it have a happy ending? Why can't movies have multiple endings? Or would that water down the artistic and entertainment value? What if you are stuck in a vicious cycle of life? We have it ingrained in our psyche that history repeats itself so do we have no control of our future? Will the rabbit ever win the race or does he have to become like the turtle. Its been ingrained in my psyche that I'm the rabbit and my brother is the tortoise and its becoming a cycle I want to change. Wait does the rabbit even cross the finish line in the story? I love my brother and he can win in his race in life but I'd like to win in my life on my own journey. Or at least cross the finish line...
* JUNE 6TH 2015 - BARCELONA
What is going on! I am struggling inside. I was robbed in Barcelona. I can't get the images out of my head of the people that blindsided me. I am angry at myself for letting guard down but also at these people that do this. I should forgive right? I should wish them well as I don't know their situation right? But it is difficult. Paranoia has set in. My friend Simon whom I was with has really encouraged me in a weird New Zealand type of Zen way by not saying too much or too little. Having him around has been a blessing as I may have fallen in a dark hole. Simon is also a composer. A fantastically brilliant one might I add that I met in Bulgaria for a project in 2013. We talked about the correlation between composing and life and being in a moment that you can't see past the fog. You can't put aside your emotions and rationalize. I started meditating on this journey through Europe for various reasons but i feel this incident exposed that I'm still in an infantile stage. Is this a setback or check point? And I am grateful for the blessings in my life but internally I feel close to rock bottom but I am not paddling against the current. I have tossed my oars in the water and fading downstream with the current. I know I have to come to shore and build a stronger raft with a rock solid foundation. Something I should have done years ago but I've been afraid of the dark. Images swirl in my head and heart of what being in a black hole must feel like. Much like the images of those to men that robbed me, that are etched in my memory in the dark streets in Barcelona. The unknown can be frightening... But I know I have to let go...
* MAY 29TH 2015 - J5
Sitting at a cafe in Prague waiting to catch a bus to Munich. I don't really have a lot to say today. Much like writing music. What's the purpose if you have nothing to say? Notes are notes. Anyone can learn to write notes but can you learn to have something to say? I think only the world can offer that to you. I've had so many impressions lately as I trek from city to city but what do they all mean and are they important? I've journaled a lot (which is rare for me) and I started a new piece for opera. I'm considering releasing my journals alongside the music so people can get inside my true thoughts and emotions. It'd be the most honest and personal thing I've put out there because I'm exposing raw thoughts and emotions that most would hide. But I like real. I like knowing what my favorite artists "really" went through and what they "really" though. Besides, it's easy to hide and be fake isn't it? That's what social media is for right?
I wrote them in the moment and I can reflect on them along with pictures to flush out the opera when I return home. It's nothing crazy. Typical love, longing, loss, confusion, frightened, and ranting. Speaking of pictures, I added some photos to my Flickr because it's really hard for me to post pictures on this blog sometimes. I suck at html...bad! But here are a few pictures and here is the link to many more - FLICKR
* MAY 25 2015 - BDAY My birthday past and present. Today I find myself in Pristina, Kosovo. It's my birthday. I'm not big on birthdays and I usually get away from my hometown for the occasion. But I'm
sitting here realizing the two memorable birthdays for me are ones I spent with loved ones. By far the best birthday moment for me came three years ago in Wuhan China. I was on tour with my group, The Noise Revival Orchestra, and we had trouble at the train station. Half of the group made the train and four of us were left stranded. We had to book a flight a few hours later and taxi it across the city just to make the flight! We rushed and barely made it to the show. I actually still wonder how the others members that made the train got to the venue because Wuhan was a chaotic city and few foreigners compared to Shanghai. None the less we blasted through our set with an
amazing energy. But what came next will last with me a lifetime. I walked off stage and the crowd called for an encore and then...the band busted out with a rock version of Happy Birthday. The crowd joined in and some came on stage and danced. Afterwards there was an insane line of fans wanting a photo with us and then we danced the night away! It was so special. And I spent it with my then girlfriend whom I had only been dating for five months (center of photo). We were thrown in to a whirlwind of intense traveling and we realized we were at our best as travel companions. Our theme for the night was throwing up the "W" with our hands and you can see the band demonstrating this in the photo. In the back with a beer bottle wedged in his mouth is Tyler our drummer and translator! Standing to the left of Anita is Vince! And on the right of the photos with his head cut off (wearing a tie) is Josh. So here I am in Kosovo. The sun came out after weeks of the rain following me
Bill Clinton statue in Kosovo
through Europe. It's an interesting city. The economic situation is grim but people here talk about hope. I met a woman that shared with me how she love America because her children can grow up without an on going war. But you still see the remnants of the war. So many buildings are tattered and torn. It really makes me stop and think about my life and how we all come from different environments and how they play a role in our lives. I got choked up when the lady was expressing her feelings. And as I walked away I began to wonder what I would take home with me from this trip to Kosovo. Would it be like a great movie or book that inspires me but then also deceives my emotions? When I get back home or back working with the orchestra in Portugal will I feel
the same or will I be distracted? Whatever it is I know I'm changing and growing. I feel foolish and ashamed to barely realize the important people and blessings in my life that I have taken for granted. But that's life right? We only get one of them and we can't go back in time to fix things. The trail is behind me but my decisions have surely altered my course. But we do get second chances sometimes. In my case I may need a fifth or sixth chance for some things. I would at least like a last chance... _____
* MAY 18TH 2015 - PARIS I'm in Paris at the moment. I'll be honest as I told myself I would for this blog. I wish I was
Click to go to Gaiam TV
sharing these moments together. But here I am alone in my thoughts. Reflecting. Always dreaming. Trying to accept who I am. But anything I accept I will eventually rebel against. And so the cycle continues. I wish to cease thought but this week I was reminded of a time when I was at a different crossroads seeking more for my musical soul. The connection I want with someone in my experience in Paris and in life is similar to the connection I wanted in my musical journey. I decided to take a risk. The result? The story is still being told. But the beginning phases of writing a symphony despite no formal training were captured in a documentary, The Curse and the Symphony. What began as a personal dream is something I was afraid to believe could turn into a full-fledged career. After a year long film festival run that included screenings at over
Click to view Trailer
25 film festivals and winning awards for Best Documentary and Documentary of Merit, The Curse and the Symphony is now in the hands of Gaiam, who will feature the film on their channel. The company’s streaming video subscription service, Gaiam TV, features films dedicated to yoga, fitness, conscious media, personal growth and spirituality and most importantly it lines up with my values. So as I dream up the next portion of my life, go visit GaiamTV.com for more information on checking out The Curse and the Symphony and other inspirational films (Gaiam TV is available on a variety of platforms including Roku, iPad, and iPhone). And maybe next time my special someone can enjoy my adventure with me. At least I'll dreaming so!!! _____
* MAY 6TH 2015 - PREMIERE I first came to SPOT FESTIVAL in 2010. I lived in a castle for 4 days to connect and write with songwriters from different parts of Europe (Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, US). We performed newly written songs a few days later at the festival. It was an interesting experience but less so for the music. It reemphasized and motivated me to push myself even more into orchestral explorations because I was disappointed that with so many different artists thrown together from exotic countries, that all the music and ideas were bland. I felt that I was lying to myself by saying I had interesting ideas. Plus it was a bit corny and cheesy…like summer camps can be. But what I took advantage of was being
at SPOT. I made a point to meet as
many new people as I could which have now led to some of my most amazing
friendships. Some are musicians
and music industry related but not all.
I have even helped a lot of them with artistic and logistical matters in
Austin when they have reached out.
But I have never expected anything in return, so when I received the
letter from SPOT with support to record and premiere my 2nd
symphony, NEON HEAVEN, I was blown away!
I remember sitting at a café in Minneapolis a few hours before my film, The Curse and the Symphony, was going to
have it’s film premiere, not feeling particularly well. I was stressed out about many issues
with finding a venue (wait until I blog about the venue fiasco), orchestra, and
funding for NEON HEAVEN. Then I
got “the” letter. Wide-eyed and
drunk with laughter I looked in the sky and sat in awe and rang up my Mom to
share the excitement. And a lot
can fall apart or not come to fruition, but now – 14 months later here I
am. In Denmark. At SPOT. Learning to let life unfold organically. Thankful. Excited.
And now I get to meet even more people. One in particular, conductor Mathias
who was the one conductor in Denmark to see a high value in my music
and an opportunity to build something. Of course he is a thoughtful and
wonderful person in addition to his fine conducting skills, so that makes it
even more enjoyable. I truly got to work with the orchestra. I got to meet each one and talk
individually with them about their part. It was so much fun to be in this setting and watching the
piece evolve. We even laughed and
talked trivial matters just to get to know each other, which in this “classical
music” world is rare. I often
wonder if I simply come off as annoying because I am so curious to know all the
members. At one point a musician
expressed that they were embarrassed that they did not rehearse the piece with
perfection, but I told her she was crazy!
It’s the process I enjoy just like getting to build a friendship. _____
* APRIL 21ST 2015 - BYE BYE TED Off to Europe! Next stop is my second home, Denmark, where my 2nd symphony, NEON HEAVEN, will premiere at the SPOT Festival! Here are a few excerpts of the symphony that I'm excited to share. I tried to chop them up into small samples for this short attention span generation. Show me some love! It'll make my day if you take a listen.
* APRIL 14TH 2015 - 2 in 1
The ebb and flow of life can be a bit confusing at times. You don't really have time to stop and figure it out as life just keeps moving on. Here I am...dare I say...a composer! I still don't feel like one, but having two premiere's of symphonic works I've composed must mean something right? Or does it have to be by the London Philharmonic to mean something?
Photos from the premiere of The Curse the Cross & The Lion in Chagrin, OH - Feb 14 2015
Live in the moment. Cliche? Profound? Moments come and go by the minute. That's the beauty of them, right? Life had been stressful leading up to "Indie Orchestra Night", an idea I have wanted to pursue for years that would blend indie singers backed by and orchestra and choir. I have always felt like it's my duty to contribute something new to my city that has given me so much. I started The Noise Revival Orchestra as a model of this grandiose vision and I just stuck with it.
The most rewarding part of it all. My friends. My family. My fellow colleagues/musicians on stage. The overall sentiment was one of an unexplainable magic in the air.
Hearts & lives were truly touched. My friends responses sum it up best. Because I realize what I love about music is it opens up this platform to share stories and meet people around the world. I care about people and I cherish every friendship I have made along the way. It's such a blessing to be in a city and world that is full of caring, creative, and passionate people that inspire one another.
Not a week goes by (2 months later) without running into someone who tells me it was amazing how we pulled off hip-hop and orchestra!? Or how Dana Falconberry made them cry. Or how they had always dreamt of hearing Shearwater songs backed with a full array orchestral instruments. And to think we are all deeply moved by something as simple yet complex as music. So here I am. Living life as a dreamer. An adventurer. A risk taker. A COMPOSER who just had two different symphonic works premiered in less than a month! And I have two more coming in Europe in May and June. Heck ya I'm excited about it because there were days when the rejections letters bore heavily. While the New York Phil isn't knocking on my door (yet) and most of my opportunities seem self made, I really wouldn't have it any other way. This is my adventure and like the title of my blog says...I got do it my F'in self...why? That's right! Because nobody else is gonna to do it for me.
* MARCH 12TH 2015 - LATINO
Check out this fun interview I did while I was in Ohio last month for the premiere of my 1st symphony, The Curse the Cross & the Lion! This originally aired on WKYC Cleveland a few Saturday's back. It was such a blast getting to kick it and meet Myra Rosario (host) and her producer Trina! They were extremely sweet.
* MARCH 12TH 2015 - ION
If you missed the show, you missed out! Tears were shed, smiles were cracked, and joy was spread...Oh what a magical night it was! I'm so thankful for The Texas Choral Consort and creative director, Brent Baldwin for believing in the idea enough to team up with me and Don Haynes for his generosity in opening the doors to his theatre! So many people came together to make it happen. Here is a review by Austin 360 Arts of "Indie Orchestra Night" and photos of the show taken by photographer, Ashley Bradley of the blog OVRLD.
* MARCH 2ND 2015 - KUTX
I had a blast today visiting the KUT studio's in Austin and talking to John Aielli on the air, alongside conductor and co-collaborator, Brent Baldwin about Indie Orchestra Night. Listen as John rants about highway 183! & skip ahead to the 8 minute mark for a first listen at new excerpts from my yet-to-be-released 2nd symphony, NEON HEAVEN.
* FEBRUARY 24TH 2015 - TA DA
HUGE show you HAVE to come to on March 7th! I don't just use capital letters for nothing! So why is it big? Well, an excerpt from my 2nd symphony, NEON HEAVEN, is being premiered BUT I'm also producing the show and trying to bring something unique to the city I grew up in. Together with the Texas Choral Consort, we are presenting 4 indie artists from Austin and backing them up with a 120-person choir and orchestra! It is going to EPIC and GRANDIOSE and you don't want to miss it!
HUGE Feature by The Austinot who interviewed me about Indie Orchestra Night, the show I'm producing featuring Texas Choral Consort plus an orchestra backing up 4 killer artists from Austin - Shearwater, Dana Falconberry, Zeale & The Rocketboys. A movement from my 2nd symphony, NEON HEAVEN, will also premiere. Read the full story HERE or by clicking on the image below.
Remember the long socks? And the glory days at Utah? I mean, when will Utah ever be a force in NCAA basketball again? To me Keith Van Horn is synonymous with my childhood love of basketball...and Kerry Kittles...and long black socks (Note: Kittles only wore one sock high)! LOL! You may be asking yourself "So why Keith Van Horn?". Well, the third movement of my 1st symphony, The Curse the Cross & The Lion was featured on at PBS show called Daytripper.
The episode was about the town of Van Horn! Have you heard of Van Horn? Well if you have ever taken the trek from Central Texas out west to California you may have missed it! Broken Down the Walls!
I stumbled on it one night when I ran out of steam and booked into a dingy hotel room in the middle of nowhere. I woke up to a ghost town and almost picked up a grave digging job! Ghost towns like Van Horn are beautiful. Now I stop every time I head west. That's the beauty of Texas. The open roads and the big blue sky. They have this junkyard out in Van Horn...also known as an "antique store" that I always go in and look at. I love rummaging through the old books, mason jars, cactus inspired art, and their Pepsi machine from the 1950's! If you haven't been to Van Horn you can learn all about it on the PBS episode of Daytriper. And when they get to the haunted house...yep! That's my song. _____
* JANUARY 12th 2015 - GRIND Nothing is easy. Every day is a struggle and I often feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. Every day I get some email or call with someone canceling on me or shifting gears. I often get down when hearing any initial bad news. But I adjust. I calm down and shift gears when necessary. I don't know if it'd be better or as gratifying to have everything fall into place the way I imagine it? All I know is there is no turning back...
* JANUARY 9TH 2015 - FLASHBACK FRIDAY: ICELAND (2012)
Alone, cold & a bit scared. I am unsure if I should turn around, or move forward. Mountains are to my left, the ocean to my right and I see no signs of civilization in front of or behind me. I’m on a bike, with 2 bottles of water, some bread, and a banana and somewhere between 18 & 25 more miles to go. Up to this point my trip to Iceland has been one of the worst trips of my life, but I won’t get in to the reasons why. The plans and aspirations I had coming here, quickly withered and now I’m isolated in the suburbs. But everything happens for a reason, right? Was I to find myself or learn something from this? Out of something bad can rise something beautiful, right? On the outside I could tell you that I was learning about the human race and how I needed to be more careful on whom I trust. Or that this was a sign that I was plateauing in my life and career and it was time to further disassociate myself with the “non-contributors” in my life. Anything to make myself feel better right? But I already know these lessons and they weren’t going to help me for the next 20 miles!
So let me back up a bit. Two days in and it all becomes apparent that this trip was a mistake. I couldn’t fly out early, so I decided that it was up to my trusty steed, to show me the way! The day started out way later than I would have liked it to, but I had this urge to get there. I knew I had until 9 pm and with it being 3 already, it was now or never. I jumped on my bike and headed out. It was a bit rough from the get go. I was stopping every 5 minutes to ask for help because the street names often changed and I was a bit nervous from riding a bike on the highway! I did encounter some unusual characters along the way. For instance one guy I stopped said he would not help me unless I smoked one of his cigarettes. He then told me that he wanted me to try mailing him small amounts of drugs and he would mail me back something special from Iceland! Hah! The girl he was with then pulled out this tube of special lotion that she bought one time that was to be used at the Fountain of Youth. She said “I will never make it there, so please take this and make good use of it”. From that moment I knew my trip was of destiny. I had to make it there for this reason alone. Everyone of course looked at me like I was a complete fool and often reminded me that it was 34 miles away!
Eventually I made it out of the city and it was a 25 mile ride in the mountainous terrain. I kept those legs churning and it’s here where it was just me all alone, with my thoughts, with nature, with God. I thought many thoughts; I screamed, I laughed, I cried, I hoped, I cursed, I remembered, I pleaded. I really don’t know the point of why my body and soul was being broken down so badly. Oh wait, it was to make it there to use the lotion, right! Running out of water, I knew I had to get there soon. I couldn’t be another senseless American tragedy in Iceland! In the distance I saw a sign that looked like it said Fountain of Youth in Icelandic, so I went with it and exited! Now it was only 3.5 miles to go, but I could see it in the mountain ahead, so I used that as motivation!
When I arrived, I could barely walk. It was cold, desolate, and quiet. I don’t know if I was expecting something brighter and more enlightening, but I felt alone again at this moment. But if there was ever a contrast between light and dark, this was it. I continued down an isolated trail and when inside the fountain, it was like discovering the Garden of Eden of some sort! For 3 hours the physical pain relinquished itself to the natural beauties of Iceland. I can’t really explain any more from the moments I was in there. Let’s just say I got lost. I wanted to stay lost because I was fearing the ride home. I won’t bore you with the details on the ride back but know that I mainly cursed! Whoever invented the bike seat should be punished! Oh and I got my first real scare. I was chased by a sketchy guy wearing a hoodie and riding a scooter! He tried to trap me! Be careful in Rekyjavik at 2 in the morning even when the sun is out!
So Iceland ended on a positive note. Our show at Faktory was well promoted, the crowd was very warming, and we sold out of our CD’s. But the best part of it was we had the pleasure of gracing the stage with my new favorite Icelandic band, Nolo. They were fantastic and I’m excited to see where they go and possibly help them out in Austin sometime! Until next time Reykjavik!
* NOVEMBER 14TH 2014 - MAGICAL TOUR IN TAIWAN...AND JAPAN!!!
Magical is the best way I can describe how my recent tour to Taiwan and Japan felt. Here I am once again on a plane returning home. A little worn out but feeling revitalized. I'm already happy in life but I feel I can tackle more and that the future is even brighter. I went all out on this tour. I lived every moment like it was my last breath. No regrets! I'm getting choked up thinking about the new friends I've made, the random encounters in the streets of Osaka, Taipei, Tokyo, Lure, etc that I'll remember forever, and the amazing crowds who I had the privilege of entertaining. (Side note: I'm also wondering why I always get choked up when I'm in the air? I'm watching "Finding Vivian Maier" and it is warming my heart. A must watch. I feel even more inspired). On that note, I have never had more fun playing live than I did this time. Maybe I'm out of my shell. Maybe I don't care to please anymore. Or maybe I just look at it less seriously and more of way to entertain to bring people together. There is a problem though. I've become addicted. I want more. I thought I had hung up my cleats after my 2012 China tour and then this offer to play in Taiwan and japan came out of left field.
And now I want more. And now I will find more. Why can't I be the rock n roll composer? I can rock out at festivals a few times a year as a break from orchestral composing, can't I? Dream big right?!!! You never know where it will get ya! My trip felt like a dream. There is no doubt I get to see unique parts of new countries and cultures as a touring musician more so than a tourist/visitor. Anyone can travel but not everyone gets to get sucked into whirlwind of an adventure like you do when you tour. And this one all began in Taichung, Taiwan.
DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER?
Before this tour the biggest crowd I had played to was about 400-500 on a handful of occasions. But even those shows weren't as fun as shows I've played to 200 sweaty kids jammed in club and dancing their tails off. Quality over quantity right? Mmmmm maybe. But what if you can get both!? I just did the jump from playing for 500 to 30,000 and then 50,000 the very next night! Man what a rush. I don't care how great an intimate crowd can be. It pales in comparison to the roar of 50,000 strong! I stood at the edge of the stage, pumped my fist in the air, took a deep breath and soaked in the energy of that roar. I still have goose bumps. I still remember the crowds surfers going up and thinking to myself WOW! I use to crowd surf at festivals and now people are crowd surfing to my music!!! And then at the end, the crowd rushed the stage and we truly danced the night away during our encore. I thought the stage was going to cave in! I love you Taichung!!! My heart will always remember you as the first. But...you will not be the last...
WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG!!!
It has all come together. Screw the serious indie bull shit i tried so hard to shove down peoples throats when i was younger. I found my audience. I can compose for orchestra when I want to get serious but when I'm on a stage I'm not a musician. I'm an entertainer. I don't know why it took me so long to figure that out! Something just comes over me. Anyone can play songs. But I now enjoy interacting and getting the crowd involved because I love having a crowd at my fingertips and excited to see what's up my sleeve. I don't even know what's up my sleeve. Its all improv which is scary when I sit back and actually think about it.
I remember walking outside of Osaka at maybe 6ish in the morning one time and stillness around me. The moon was gorgeous and every step echoed of the covered passage ways. I could smell something cooking afar. A smile and a deep breath made for a beautiful memory. And the culture in Japan was beautiful and rich. The people are beautiful in this respectful sorta way. I need more. So what is next? I need to let this soak in. It could be another trip I look back at as simply being a fun adventure but I think it has the potential to be a trip that alters the course of my life when all is said and done. Too many special moments happened on this trip that I'll never forget. Ya know? The ones that seem to be part of your destiny. The ones your gut tells you are happening for a reason.
For now I have a full plate! Both my symphonies are being performed in 2015 in the USA and abroad! Spring will find me in Portugal and Denmark and then summer in Paris. But what does any of it really mean? Who cares what we do. Does it mean anything? Deep down it's funny because I'm that same 14 yr old shy, awkward, scared boy. But why? I guess im still figuring out that part. For now ill excuse myself by saying it's me respecting the moment. But none the less, somehow I have to find time to get back to Osaka for a significant amount of time. There is something cool happening in that city and I need my finger on the pulse!
* NOVEMBER 12 2014 - FRESH MINDS
Woohoo! I just took home 2nd place at the Fresh Minds Festival in College Station, TX for, Broken Down the Walls, the video collaboration with Blake Weaver. Broken Down the Walls is the 3rd movement from my first symphony, The Curse the Cross & The Lion. The symphony is still going strong a year later as this video, the documentary, and the music is still getting recognized and offers for screenings and performances!
You know that day where "true-love" meets consumerism, obligation, and un-met expectations!? I have some horror stories from previous Valentines days, but I've had a few cool moments like that time it snowed in Austin when I was kickin it with my best bud dt or that time NPR chose a song of mine for their song of the day.
This year will be my finest date. I'm already sweating and getting that queasy feeling in my stomach. I was actually asked out on this date. That's a first! I'm already thinking about what I'm going to wear. It's not black tie affair for me. 2015 will be a year of excess and exotic for me.
So who's the lucky one, you may be asking yourself? The Chagrin Studio Orchestra, conducted by Steve Eva, will be my date as they will premiere my symphony, The Curse The Cross & The Lion!!! That's right! I'll be taking my talents to the Buckeye state to the community of Chagrin Falls outside of Cleveland (Seriously I'm the lucky one). I get to see all my friends from The Chagrin Doc Film Festival and The Valley Arts Center!
NOW MY GOAL is to scrounge up enough funds (around $800 for a roundtrip flight) to make the flight to Cleveland and I'm hoping all you lovely people out there will help me and enjoy the World Premiere of my symphony with me. I have a bag full of goodies (Cd, Vinyl record, Symphony picture book, poster) that I'll gladly share for any contribution made. Heck for a huge donation you can be my special guest to all the events for the entire weekend!
Donate via paypal to my paypal account at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a truly going to be a special moment for me, so I must thank everyone that has helped me in my journey over the last decade and beyond when I had that crazy goal to start writing symphonies. You all know who you are! Much LOVE!
* OCTOBER 31ST 2014 - ASIA FESTIVAL Just a quick update! I thought I'd have more time to post more often but things have been insane. Here are a few photos of the festivals we have played. And wow what amazing food in both Taiwan and Japan!
* OCTOBER 15 2014 - It's time to leave...Much to my “Chagrin” Falls, OH
The last time I was in Ohio, I left with a sour feeling in my spirit. I’d say it was around 2006 while touring with the original inception of The Noise Revival, when it featured my brother, Stephen and best friends Adam and Eddie "Money"! We had an important show that our friends from the now defunct, The Story Of, booked for us in their home town of Athen, OH. (BTW: The singer from Story Of has a rad new jean company, Noble Denim, that you need to check out if you are a fashionista). Plus my Mom went to school in Athens so I thought that was kinda neat too! It was important because it was specially organized with bands that had a strong draw in the area and that meant that we would make more money from the door. On top of that, we knew we could probably sell a lot of our new CD at the time, To The Seven Churches in the Province of Asia.
For whatever reason, I had an off night. An off night reading the map correctly. And as my band mates knew, I was the one that was organized and really ran the ship. I took one wrong road and somehow or another by the time we figured it out, we couldn’t simply alter our path, but we had to turn around and go all the way back. It had something to do with crossing the wrong river. We desperately tried to speed to get to the venue but I vividly remember arriving right as the last band was finishing and a few hundred people scurrying out. We were too late. It hurt us financially, exposure wise, and didn’t give us an opportunity to work our magic and find a locals’ pad to crash at. I took it hard. We got back in the van and just started driving to the next city in Michigan. Adam and my brother were quiet in the back and soon passed out. Eddie was at the helm, driving and I grabbed our bottle of Scotch we were saving to celebrate with, and Eddie and I began to drown our sorrows, when Journey’s, Don’t StopBelieving, came on. I will admit that I hate that song because it’s overplayed at karaoke and at bars but that night we belted our lungs out like we were representing a fraternity! Eddie said the song was appropriate and that we have to move forward. In the end, it actually STILL bugs me that we missed that show in Athens because I can’t figure out why! But that memory I have with Eddie is one that I’ve never forgotten and one of my favorite moments with one of my best friends. Maybe I needed that memory more so that a great show experience. After all, it was after that tour that I returned home and began my journey as a composer. Here's to the original inception of The Noise Revival and to my 3 brothers who helped me get my musical feet off the ground, that I traveled the US with, and have so many special memories.
I’m on a plane leaving as I type this and after 5 glorious days I feel like an honorary citizen of Chagrin. I can honestly say that this trip to Ohio is one of the most memorable and exciting trips I’ve had thus far in my music career. I won’t even begin to try and explain all the moments. I think it’s too personal. They came at the right time in my life, just like that Journey song did a decade earlier. And I talk in a lot of my blog posts about the friendships that can cultivate at film festivals, but this was something different. There was an energy in the city and in the community. They really rolled out the red carpet for ME (literally and figuratively!). But like never before have people responded to the music and passion behind it all. Chagrin got “it”! It was so beautiful to share the film 4 times with large audiences and then get to be all quirky and uncomfortable at the Q&A’s. There was so much encouragement that I leave feeling so inspired to keep going strong and even turn it up a notch. OH (get it), and then I really can’t believe we won the award for Best Documentary Short!
What on Earth is going on! 2 awards at the last 2 festivals! It reminds me that so many people have dedicated hard work to make this successful and I really hope that it means a lot to the director, David Schulte. I can’t think of a better guy to receive recognition for his work. While in Chagrin, I made a little trip in to Cleveland for a radio interview with Mark Satola at WCLV and I wanted to share it with you. Just click on the photo if you want to hear it!
And it turns out I might be back in Chagrin in the new future as there was an offer to perform The Curse The Cross & The Lion sometime in the future with the Chagrin Falls Studio Orchestra and maybe even record my 3rd (say what)! Getting back would mean a lot because that’s when friendships really begin to develop. And plus I still regret that I promised all those kids in the Faroe Islands that I’d return to play some more shows and I still haven’t :/
Special thanks to the Kusiks, my new friend Laurie, Katie the non-volunteer, Steve Eva, Jamie and Heather, Dewey, Mary L, so many more and of course Mary Ann Ponce! _____
* OCTOBER 7TH 2014 - HELLO CLEVELAND!
I'm live on the air this Thursday at 2:30 (CST). Tune in to 104.9 FM in Cleveland, or stream from anywhere at wclv.org. I’ll be interviewing with WCLV’s Mark Satola about the short documentary film I'm featured in, “The Curse and the Symphony” by David Schulte.
The Cleveland Movie Blog reviewed The Curse and the Symphony, David Schulte's documentary about my 8-year journey into classical music after years of rockin' out! The Curse and the Symphony kicks off the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival tomorrow (10/8)! Chagrin Falls is just outside the Cleveland city limits, so if you are in the area go check out the film! Click here for a complete list of showtimes. Click on the pic below for the full review. WARNING: Spoiler alert!
Oh! and I decided I was going to bust out the jacket once again and see if Cleveland/Chagrin Falls can handle my Kenyan flare courtesy of designer, Patricia Mbela! Lebron better watch out! _____
* SEPTEMBER 13 2014 - VETTA MAGAZINE
VETTA MAGAZINE featured me in their October edition. They highlight the recent film festival success for my documentary, The Curse and the Symphony, my upcoming tour in Taiwan and Japan, and more! Pick up a copy in Austin.
* SEPTEMBER 20TH 2014 - I'M HOMELESS... SOS!!! Trouble is looming and I find myself ignoring the inevitable. I will be homeless on September 26th. Why oh why do I get myself in these predicaments! OK OK, it's not as bad as it sounds. Here's the scoop.
Not such a bad place to be homeless!
One can find anything on the internet these days, correct? Well not when you are looking for a place to stay onCatalina Island! For those unfamiliar with Catalina (as I was), according to Wikipedia it is a rocky island off the coast of California, located about 22 miles south-southwest of L.A. I'm going for the Catalina Film Festivalwhich I'm overly stoked about! Ya my documentary will screen again, but I'm all about the wine tastings, red carpet events, cruise boat galas and more that the festival has organized. But what I didn't realize is it's difficult and nearly impossible to go back and forth from the island to L.A. So I'm forced to stay on the island for a weekend which is not a terrible thing, only I don't have a place to stay and everything is booked with a week left to go (unless I want to drop 400/night like I'm Nicholas Cage). I actually bring up Nicholas Cagebecause he is being honored with and award at the festival. Even more reason to get excited, eh!? Other attendees include Emmy Rossum, Jordin Sparks (who I'm told is a singer?), and Danielle Fishel (who I had a crush on as a kid). I suck when it comes to knowing who celebrities are but everyone in L.A. is a celebrity, right!? And of everyone on Catalina Island I will most likely be the token homeless guy. I am trying to fix the situation by reaching out to filmmakers that may be attending for the screening of their films and asking if they have any space so I can crash on their hotel floor. I hope this doesn't come across too weird? But I'm desperate! The reprecussion of me asking is I could become "that guy" everyone is pointing their finger at and whispering what a creep I am. I'll keep you posted on the developments & incorporate this into a full adventure blog of a homeless guy! _____
* SEPTEMBER 10TH 2014 - WAY BACK WEDNESDAY ...
I'm heading to Denver tomorrow for the screening of the documentary about my symphony at the Docuwest Film Festival but I can't get Asia off my mind! So in honor of finding out this week that I'm touring Japan and Taiwan this fall I thought I'd post my story of touring China in 2012. I thought it was my last tour and a glorious tour it was! I haven't played in a band since as I've gone full force into composing for orchestra (and a little film), but I must say that I am most ecstatic about performing on stage! And going to freakin' Japan! So here is a flashback...
One More Song (China Tour - Summer 2012)
I won’t lie. After the 1st show, I’m a bit nervous about the rest of the tour in China. I’ve only been here for a little over 24 hours. Stepping off the plane I felt like I walked into a scene from Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The airport dwarfed even the bigger stadiums I’ve visited in the US. Skyscrapers engulf the skylines for miles. For me it stimulated a child-like imagination. With the simplest of tasks getting lost in translation, I knew I was on my own to observe, learn, and soak up this fascinating culture. Oh…and avoiding the crazy drivers and bikers was a real life Frogger experience!
There wasn’t much time to waste after getting checked in to our hotel. A quick dinner, meet & greet with Chinese Noise Revivalers, & it was off to bed for an early call time to rehearse. 4 hours of rehearsing in a dungeon with no A/C was trying but exhilarating, hearing our Chinese drummer, Tyler, blaze through the songs and destroy his kit, like Animal from the Muppets. I sensed a high-energy explosion at Yiyitang that night! We walked to the club & briefly sound checked with our horn section and additional cellist. Wall of sound!
It’s show time. We left it all on the stage. The crowd screamed, the cheered, the danced and we delivered with an energy like no other Noise Revival show ever! 8 songs in what seemed like a blink of an eye. I’ll never forget the crowd. The moment. The love. Walking off stage and hearing a slightly lisp-y chant of “One More Song” that sounded more like “Juan Mo Sawg”. Why! If only we had rehearsed an extra song! Who knows why it ended like that? The club owner put it best. “Next Time”.
Busking in Shanghai
Talk about getting out of your comfort zone! But what a joy it was to walk around the tiny alleys in Shanghai and play 3 or 4 songs, then walk to another corner and do the same. EVERY time we played crowds stopped. And not just 5 or 10 people. At least 25-30 each time & a lot of times 50-60. And who know how many camera’s have our “mugs” on them! I love that about the Chinese and how they get so excited and take photos of everything. We even made money. The 1st night we made enough to have a feast at an amazing Japanese restaurant. The 2nd night photos of the group playing on the subway made a blog and eventually landed us on the front page of the Shanghai Post on the internet! It was retweeted over and over and eventually the Chinese government chimed in! They said to look at this as an example of what not to do on the subway and to make sure to follow the rules! Gotta love it!
There is no better feeling that representing your city. Being from one of the most creative and vibrant cities in the world is something I am proud of. Being able to grow up in Austin and then be a music ambassador is something I’ll cherish forever. I had the privilege of meeting members of the Foreign affairs office in Shanghai. My involvement in The House of Songs and the numerous meetings and events with City and State officials, diplomats, ambassadors, etc really prepared me to talk about collaborative possibilities between the 2 creative cities. I was also fortunate to be escorted to the National Flag Museum in Shanghai. I was treated like royalty and I owe a lot to Troy Campbell & Don Pitts for these opportunities.
Like most, I’ve made the mistake of over packing on trips. It tends to be something unavoidable. So over the years I decided I’d comprise certain luxuries for a healthier spine! Last year I learned not to pack a pair of shoes that is a size too small! Getting blisters after a few days was one thing, but having to walk with them for a month longer was a lesson well learned! Riding a bike 60 miles in one day was another good example of a lesson well learned! So this year I decided that I was going to pack the least amount of clothes possible and see where it gets me. 5 shirts; 2 jeans, 7 socks, 7 boxer briefs, 1 jacket and 1 pair of shoes. Half way into the trip, I’m already thinking how to better prepare for next time.
I always seem to start all my posts while sitting on a plane reminiscing on my past travels and pondering my future adventures, which after a glorious week in Shanghai, they look to be all over the world in hand with my amazing angel by my side. This post should have started sitting on a train to Wuhan, but it now begins in transit in a cab traveling across Shanghai. Guess why? Yep! Half of the group missed our train to Wuhan, which happened to be the only one of the day! Lost in China! So how did we get here? Well, let’s just say that everything is moving slower here in Shanghai. I’m awe of the structures, the nooks and crannies of stores, the hole in the walls around every corner. I’m in no rush. I take every moment to breathe in the smog, to smell the pollution, to gag at the dog on the menu….ok! I’m going too far! But it’s all there! I’m sharing the whole city with hands locked and hearts in tune, which is the real reason for strolling instead of speeding,. No experience compares. But this experience is the basis for why we missed our train. Oops! Maybe we should have walked a little faster to the metro. Packed the night before. You get it. 10 minutes to get to the train, 1 escalator, 400 Chinese people in the way (Did I mention the pace of the people here?) and 100 pounds of luggage each. We tried. We sweat. We really sweat. We failed. Only two made it. Now we are altering our plan and rushing to the airport hoping to get flights to make the show! Damage Control indeed! Mission accomplished? I’ll follow up with another post. Did I mention it’s my birthday?
Here’s the follow-up to my birthday! As you can tell, we made the show! The crowd in Wuhan was amazing. So was the band in more ways than you think. I walk off the stage and the crowd screams for an encore. Of course we have no extra songs. I hear Josh get on the mic and start to tell the crowd it’s my birthday & the crowd goes wild! At this point I’m in the crowd and they are rockin’ & a rollin’ “Happy Birthday!” From the crowd I jump on stage and encourage the crowd to jump on stage. Ten to fifteen people climb the rail and start dancing and bobbing their heads. I get a chant of “Wuuu – Hon … Wuuu – Hon” going! This was the best birthday I’ve ever had. We danced the night away for hours and truly lived it up! Thank you Wuhon! Thank you Josh, Anita, Vince, Tyler, & Michael!
Bright. Lights. Sleek. Exhilarating. Too bad we only had the opportunity to stay in Changsha for 1 night. Every building was trying to out “light” the next with crazy flashing neon signs. It enthralled my senses like I was in Blade Runner. I swear that movies backdrop was based off of Changsha. Around 8:30 pm we squeeze into the venue. Literally! I could barely get up the winding stairs without hitting my head every turn. We set up and the speakers don’t work right as we are supposed to begin playing (9:30). The crowd is quiet and to themselves but I assume they are antsy. An hour later we grace this tiny stage called the Freedom House and the crowd came forward. The room looks as if it holds 100 people max, but the owner said they could fit twice that. We tonight the floor shook and the stage almost caved in. I forced this crowd to come up on stage for our encore. (Yes! We finally rehearsed an old Lil Blokes song, Rolling, for an encore!) They finally let loose and danced, jumped, and even moshed! Their appreciation soon followed as we stayed on stage and they lined up for photos for almost an hour! Thank you Changsha! TNRO loves you!!!
Chongqing & Chengdu
Chongqing & Chengdu were nuts! Crazy times in China I tell you! I can’t emphasize how much more difficult & longer it takes to get around China with a language & reading barrier, especially in these lesser-known cities. I had heard and even assumed that we would see westerners everywhere, but that was not the case. It was 99.9% Chinese all the time. So we missed our early trains both days! We had to rush to the venues for quick sound-checks, check into our hotels, & we were lucky to get a bite of food before taking the stage. But that’s all ok. Because the stage is where we belong. Where we feel at home. Where for 40 minutes there is no language barrier. The Chongqing crowd danced, clapped, did the wave, and came on stage for our encore. After the show a 30-minute photo session ensued. Michael was told by 2 Chinese girls that they loved him. Josh was offered a Chinese fathers’ youngest daughter. Chengdu was even crazier. We showed up & only had 30 minutes before we had to play. We were dirty and had our luggage and just fumbling about. Little Bar was packed. The crowd was more relaxed but let us hear it louder than any crowd, after each song. It was the only city we didn’t get an encore, but it was my favorite crowd. I knew they were loving it because I had their full attention with every word. I was saddened that we had to rush out to make it in time for our hostel reservation. I would have loved to hang out with the crowd. Now I’m off to Beijing for the finale. I’m overwhelmed by the crowds. The new fans. The new admirers. I love the New Noise Revival!
Beijing – The Final Transformation
My friend Fernando lived in China for 5 years. He called me when he heard I was touring in China. While excited for me he said he didn’t think my music would go over well in China. Well, we took China by storm! Like a flaming chariot! Beijing was the final litmus test. Every city we played we won the crowd over the moment we walked in the venue. Beijing was more foreigners and they were all sitting. 3 songs in and they were charmed. They danced more than any other crowd and this was the final transformation. This tour was the most exciting tour I’ve ever been on. We bonded as a band in a special way. Who would have thought that our metal drummer, Tyler, from Shanghai would have worked for the Noise Revival Orchestra? Well it was the perfect ingredient. Most likely the missing ingredient that Fernando didn’t know we had up our sleeve. Our stage presence and charm sucked them in and our music sent them home smiling. I see a brand new rock n roll record in the future…and I see a lot more of China in the future as well!
Special thanks to Tyler Bowa who was more than just our drummer. Without him I can’t imagine how we would have communicated or not gotten lost. Nichols & Zangnan Promotions for doing all the preplanning and being the main catalyst for our coming to China. Rose for being cool. Michael & Todd for playing horns with us in Shanghai. Troy for letting me work abroad and follow my calling. My beautiful baby Anita for capturing all the content for the band and putting up with the hectic touring schedule. 24/7 for the amazing interview. Clement for the hospitality at Temple Bar in Beijing. German guy at the hostel who acted as our translator and waited forever as we tried to book flights on the phone our last night. Shanghai Post for putting us on the cover. The TNRO fans from Austin that are now living in Shanghai and came to support. Not the guy who gave Josh chocolate at Temple Bar. All the people who helped us get a bass guitar for Michael in every city! The organizer in Changsha who took us out to eat late night after our show. Josh & Vince who took the risk in me and in the tour…wasn’t it the trip of a lifetime guys! For Michael for being in on the China trip from the get go! All the promoters and people who helped spread the word! The lady who warned us before we were about to eat cat! Kaye at Lazy Bone who was the most friendly host ever! We hope you get to visit the UK & the US one day! Don Pitts, Troy Campbell, Ashley Buchanan, & Charlotte Huskey who provided me with the opportunity to be an ambassador for Austin and it’s sister city of Shanghai. Sarah Kendel for running my Facebook and the bands FB while I was in China. Clayton Lillard for having my back in Austin. My sisters M.I.T roommate, Erin, for supporting with such last notice. I love connecting the dots around the world! My beautiful Anita again. This time for still going to The Great Wall after I spilt juice all over her 1 minute before the bus was leaving :/ Tyler Bowa again! This time for putting up with me being a diva. I’m sure I forgot a few, so I’ll continue to update this blog as the memories pop up in my head!
SUMMER 2014 (Blog Post 1)
* IN THE BEGINNING...
A teacher once told me that if you you are thinking something during class, chances are that many others are thinking the same thing. Well I can't really seem to find a composer that thinks the same way as I am thinking.
I read on every damn composer's site that they are an "award winning" composer and paint this picture of success. Then you listen to what they are doing and...
Well I've never won an award for anything besides a creative writing contest in high school that my journalism teacher entered me in, without telling me. I threw away the award..
And don't get me wrong, I've definitely experienced some amazing things in life because of music so it really paid off to learn a few instruments instruments! Although now people tell me that I have certain successes because of my personality? WTF! I guess I have my moments, because I certainly love people and I love listening to stories. I think I have my moments where I really connect with people because I'm also certain there is a list of people that would say my personality does not attract people but more-so turns them off.
Back to music...so eventually I learned that any ole' Joe can pick up a guitar. That's why I hated playing guitar once I was in college. I needed a new fix. I hit the road touring the U.S. with my brother and best friends in a tribute to the D.I.Y touring culture of the 80's. This was a blast and I highly recommend this to anyone coming out of college. Why get a job when you can travel, play music, get in trouble, have adventures, and see all the unique pockets our country has to offer. After 3 or so years o this I started growing and transitioning into a cinematic sound and outgrew our little punk band. I started a large orchestra based band and eventually started composing for film and now symphony orchestra. It took around 8 years to make that transition and even now I'm facing new challenges. The challenge of academia. Maybe I'm too amateur? But it's comparable to being in the twilight zone or in a bar of "independent" minded people all wearing the same black outfits. I mean, every composer I meet that has gone through the academic route in learning composition thinks, acts, and sounds the same. They have to know this right? I even hear the same with film composing in that the music or sounds composers use as they sound obviously sampled and will eventually sound dated.
Maybe everyone has it figured out but I don't. I'm still on the journey but maybe one day I can look back and truly answer that question. I hope with this blog that someone else out there can benefit from what I have to say. Although I'm not really sure what I have to say. But who cares. It's the wild wild west out there and the world keeps spinning. Someone else might have the deal or the money or the popularity but if you read between the lines I just described Milli Vanilli, Backstreet Boys, David Cassidy, etc! Make the music and do everything yourself...
I'll rant here and there to keep things spicy. I tend to stick my foot in mouth but sometimes I'll also try to be politically correct just in case I decide to run for president one day. Don't expect perfect punctuation but de expect a ton of run-ons! I'm about producing and less about waiting until something is perfect. That's why my family calls me the rabbit. Oh, and I meant what I said about loving stories! So if you actually scroll this far and want to tell me your story, please do! I would love to hear from you...