KouqJ versus Music

A unique look and approach into music from a modern curious perspective

Now I Wanna Be Your Dog

“People pay to see others believe in themselves. Many people don’t know whether they can experience the erotic or whether it exists only in commercials; but on stage, in the midst of rock ‘n’ roll, many things happen and anything can happen, whether people come as voyeurs or come to submit to the moment… Performers appear to be submitting to the audience, but in the process they gain control of the audience’s emotions. They begin to dominate the situation through the awe inspired by their total submission to it.”

Kim Gordon – Sonic Youth
“I’m Really Scared When I Kill In My Dreams”
Artforum, January 1983

Make art. Create an experience. Don’t recreate as entertainment. There is little value in subjecting second hand art to a beauty pageant. Do not succumb to the farcicality of an industry. Scare people. Worry people. Make people uncomfortable. Create an experience.

Make art

I Learned Something Today: How Listening To An Album Gave Me An Epiphany

I had quite the awesome and inspirational realization today that I thought I would share. In sharing in this format, I have realized that it gives me an opportunity to spend time away from work and other activities to dive into a thought or a topic of some sort that intrigues me. In presenting my curiosity to others by way of blog, it forces me to actually ponder over something long enough to make a cohesive thought in order to present it to someone else. And have it actually make sense. Rather than pointless I wonders and whatifs, I try to look at something and come to some type of conclusion, because why not? It’s always interesting to look at a topic and wonder about how it is a certain way. But more on all that later.

I was at the college radio station I work at today, and by this point, the entire campus has emptied out and all student DJs have left. There’s still the occasional community DJ that comes in, but for the most part I’m in the station myself. With the exec board gone as well, I have to cover some of their duties to keep the station running full-time over the summer, at least till the summer intern starts in a few weeks. So, I grabbed the mail for the first time and saw that it had been quite a bit since the Music Directors had gotten it. As a result, there was an entire mailtray box full of CD submissions. I then checked the history of the Heavy Rotation albums we currently have up, and realized it hasn’t changed in about 2 weeks. Therefore, I figured taking over the Music Director role of updating the heavy rotation binder for the few community DJs that use them, but mainly to update the automation system. Upon opening all of the envelopes, I found myself facing over 20 albums. This might be more intense than I had originally anticipated.

But hey, I love music and I certainly love listening to albums, right? So I took on the challenge to review as many as possible.

Upon digitizing them all while taking care of other tasks at work (with 20+ albums at an average of 45 minutes each since we get a combo of EPs & LPs) I decided it best to not charge the station for my time reviewing, and simply review on account of being a casual but informative critic. I wanted to actually learn the albums.

So, where to start?

I thought about going through by genre, but realized I might get stuck on one genre kick and only review a very small minority of the submissions based on style alone. I didn’t think that would be a fair and open approach to adding to the Heavy Rotation Binder.  As a result, I fell back on one of my absolute favorite ways to decide on new music.

Presentation.

I wouldn’t look up any information that wasn’t presented to me by the physical album. This means artwork, name, album title, song names, song length (if applicable), track count, press release (if applicable), and any linear notes I happened to casually notice. Nothing but the pure presentation of the album in a physical format.

And I realized why I don’t do this as often as I used to.

With working multiple jobs and having a variety of side projects going on, I haven’t had much time to simply relax and just purely listen to new music, giving the album the attention it needs. My preferred way of the starting the process of listening and learning a new album is beginning with the format and the way the album is presented to me. Usually physical format (preference of mine), is first noticed, and outside any information gathered there, one can approach listening to the album in a very unbiased way. In specific, unbiased based on genre and style of the music. A fresh, clean slate with little expectations about the actual sound of the music.

I decided I would tackle as many of the music submissions taking this perspective.

I grabbed a small bag full of the CDs when I left work, and picked 3 to choose from in the car. I looked at track count, because that was important to me (it’s an hour drive from the station and I didn’t want to listen to an EP). I picked the two album covers I liked the most, and then realized that I knew one was a rap/hip-hop album because I had looked up something on it earlier on a whim. For my first listen, I picked the other album. I threw it in, and didn’t even look at the title.

It was Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – Dereconstructed.

The review of the album will be coming in a later post.

While listening to the album, my mind wander a bit, thinking about how one must a professional music critic. I came to the conclusion that it had to do with knowing a subject so intensely well, that they can properly describe an album with understandable references to other albums, and create an accurate portrayal of an album for someone who has not heard it before. At least, those are my preferred reviews to read. But at the root of it, it was the fact that someone had studied and learned the topic of music and albums enough to discuss it with others. They had also listened enough to question aspects of the music, such as where the musicians had acquired a particular style, or what they had listened to that influenced this, and so on. Ideas and concepts that may never be fully answered, but looking for evidence and suggesting to the suggestible listener possible solutions to theories and ideas.

And I had a thought to myself. I think the wording in my head went a little something like this:

“That’s some academia shit right there.”

And it hit me. It was. That’s what music history is, that’s what music theory is. That’s what English is. That’s what history is. The only difference between the professional academics that study these things and the casual enthusiast is that the professionals became so informed about their field that they could contribute it back to the community in a constructive way. The smartest about cars designs the best cars. The best electrician wires buildings the best. The more learned scientists comes to the most daring conclusions. The most fielded album listener portrays music in a recognizable way.

These people had found something that was their passion and found a method in which to support themselves, live their lives, and have an awesome career doing what they love. It was really inspirational. It wasn’t fully a concept that hit me strongly before because I occasionally take for granted that all of the things I do in my life to support myself, make myself grow, and expand my professional self is through music. I’m, for lack of a better choice of words and because it’s also a very relieving (if cliché) way to say it, a success story. I found my passion at a young age and am already at a point where it’s what I do to sustain myself.

This is why I find myself here now. If I wasn’t as gungho about this Featured Artist thing in my spare time before, I inspired myself to do it more. I love records and listening to them brought me here. I love talking about them, discussing them, and exploring them and I can do all of that here. So, I’m going to try to keep up with these reviews. I might only keep them up with the ones I like and explore a little deeper, but I will be exploring them nonetheless.

 

But at the heart of all of this, I think the real point is to not ever let anyone tell you that you cannot do something you love. You can truly set your mind out to do something, but you must be as familiar with your subject as you possibly can. Not merely the technical facts, but all aspects of your field. The people you deal with, the nuisances of the gear you use, the set up of different rooms, are all different things you might need to take into consideration to do your task the best it can be done and those are things not learned from books. Experience. It can be done. I love making records. I was told in my freshman recording class that the chances of us graduating and ACTUALLY making records was slim to zero. Ask any alumni of my program. Not many of them are actually making records. They used what they learned in the program and are applying it (or trying to) in areas that interest them the most. But I’m making records. Yes, I got lucky and ended up where I am. But I wasn’t going to stop till I found my in and I won’t let go till I die.

 

 

You can do anything you want to, you just have to want to work for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Failures

Whenever I go through a period in my life of negativity, I try to use it to ignite some creative fire from deep within me. Sometimes I get a chord progression, sometimes a melody, sometimes a full blown song. Other times all I am left with is a batch of half finished lyrics. I have started going back to old lyrics from parts of my life and resetting them either to music or as poetry.

I have titled this post as Failures. Not that any of these attempts at creativity were in themselves to be failures, but rather the failure was within myself for not letting these journeys into the soul speak back to me in the way they wish to have been spoken instead of trying to force them into existence through another medium.

The following exist in no particular order or in any grouping. If I haven’t been able to set them to music at this point in my and their existences, then let them exist and be shared in the form they have stood, some for many years.

I’m not quite sure if I should say enjoy or heed my warning, so I shall tackle it this way:

For better or for worse, here is a look at the poetic side of KouqJ.

 


I ask for water to quench my thirst
with a pinch of salt you give me your worst
Hope is all I ask
a kind touch, a helpful hand
That dream is gone now
My rope down to the last strand

You were my saviour
Now you’re a martyr for my greatest fear


Chain smoking, dreaming, drifting up in smoke
tantalizing black out, midnight toke
a lifetime of memories flash before the eyes
uncertain future, indecipherable lies


He said, “help me, I’m dying.”
As I turned from the mirror,
the entire room was empty,
and I was the closest soul near

Eternal restlessness resides in my soul
I was not meant to be who I have become
a picture perfect living contradiction
In perpetual fight to not be his son

Continuous daily disappointment
My head always hung in shame
The glares that meet my eyes still sing
A more interesting story than I am

I avoid the mirror
For I evade those things I hate
I avoid the mirror
For I evade those things I hate


As the pack is dwindling out
I hope my love for you does too
But as I stare blindly at the fire
All that is seen is you

The words of other convey no such image
comparable to the thoughts in my mind
As the fire burns low, the igniter starts up
And we move that much closer to the very next time
that this feeling returns again
but the wall must come down to stay the same

Eyes darting to and fro
and this is when it dawns on me
a separation comparable to none other
a million poets could never see

I don’t wanna be the one that everyone looks at
I don’t wanna be the one that hears all the whispers about him
but I could never let you know what all goes through my head


I’ve got a thicker spine when you slander me
It’ll hold up tight against your might
Fighting means nothing to me
But it’s all in the world that you adore

I’ve got my mind set on the sights
Nothings gonna block my path
Your Black cat is meaningless
Put it back in it’s cage
Along with your rage
Okay?

Cause only you and me
Will really see
What truly happened that night
With the truth by my side and your lies so wide
The big wig won’t see so clear
So I’ll make it all just disappear

So float on, fly away
I can’t hear the curses you say
Float on, fly away
Peace and love, peace and love

Peace and love

Lies build truth


It seems I’ve reach the point where my successes only satisfy myself
And the pitfalls of life are left to bare solely on my shoulders
No one else seems to give a care
The only attention I get is when my spoils tend to reach excess and everyone wants their cut
And none of the above has been a flash in your mind as of late

I know I don’t deserve you
but at least I think I do deserve what’s best
I want my victories to impress, to shock, to wow
I want to be held when I crawl home after defeat

I’m screaming quietly inside my head
Hoping you will get the hint
I’m agonizing quietly to myself dreaming that you’ll lose your tint

Expect nothing.

That way if something happens, you’ll always be surprised

I’ve never been so tortured and torn by the thought of you
forever lost to the grip of my arms with your one and only true
So I feel empty
And lost

The darkness of 4 AM comforts me, holds me,
Tells me everything will be okay
She says more without words then I could ever try express
My eyes may be dark but my vision is clear
And I see you and him and the place where I used to spend hour
after hour
after sweat pouring hour
showing my love for you
And that picture perfect vision has been destroyed, as I have been replaced
Your nails no longer claw my back, no longer bite my shoulder, no longer say
my name
And you?

You look happier.


That’s fine
you all go out
and waste your time
Endlessly toiling away your energy and soul
for the never-ending search and lifetime stroll
Before you find whatever you thought you would find
and by then it’s too late to turn and go behind

Because you settled for love
You let what you wanted most go
and you settled for what you were left with

and I’ll be honest
I’ll laugh my sweet heart out to the sea
Because
I’m married to my guitar
and she’s faithful to me


Bounce, bounce like a ball
She moves from one man to the next
Another one down who’s next in line
She can’t be happy by herself


 

 

A Blog Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

And yet, day-in and day-out, I’ll think about the next draft I want to work on, or the next topic I wish to write or comment on. Yet I sit here.

But fear not! My musical opinion and voice have not been silenced by writer’s block! There is a solution!

If you have no become aware, I do a weekly radio show on 88.3 WDCV-FM The Voice of Dickinson College. Every Monday (weather/sickness/life permitting), I take listeners on a magical journey. Which can only best be described as this:

At a distant place at an even more distant time ago, there existed an individual known solely as Migsy. Very little is known about this creature. Numerous sightings, writings, cave drawings, and obligatory blurry photographs have been taken of the legendary Migsy, but no known contact exists.

Each week we check our sources and see where he might be hiding, in the ever difficult challenge of stumbling upon the greatest discovery this side of sliced bread. DJ KouqJ is a self-proclaimed Migsy expert, and will take you on a guided tour looking for Miss Mother Nature’s most elusive and intriguing individuals.

We also play good tunes too. So, come listen? Kay? Kay.

_________________________________________________________________________

So, join me if you will, as we explore various musical themes in search for the (in)tangible Migsy, every Monday afternoon at 2pm.

Recent themes have seen Middle Brother, Chris Cornell, and Danger Mouse. What’s next? You tell me. See you on the other side.

https://www.facebook.com/WheresMigsy

http://blogs.dickinson.edu/wdcvfm/

Music is a high…

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.

Ludwig van Beethoven

And The Band Played On

This is actually something I have been planning on writing since July. I could have started this post then, but something inside leaned me in the direction of waiting. Maybe I wasn’t ready yet.

Over the summer I attended the summer music festival of Warped Tour. Have you been?

All stereotypes aside, I was all set to go to the Columbia, Maryland date. I was going to spend the day with my best friend. Well, fate (though I refuse to believe in her, fate is still a cruel and harsh mistress) would have different plans: I would end up going alone. I contemplated for a great length of time whether or not to still go. My search for a festival partner was futile. I either had to go alone or not go at all. I decided to take the plunge. I had never been to a concert by myself before, let alone a full festival setting.

I. Was. Terrified.

I’m a socially awkward person. I’ll take the much more difficult pathway to do a task if it means I have to talk to fewer people. Putting me in the middle of an all day music festival with crowds and crowds of people by myself, with only 1 person around I knew (who was busy working most of the day). Terrified was an understatement.

But what occurred absolutely changed my entire outlook on music, and I’m still processing it today. But I haven’t built enough foundation to get there quite yet.

I realized (hindsight being 20/20) that music, to me at least, had always been a possessive concept for me. I had MY favorite bands, MY favorite songs, MY favorite lyrics, MY favorite musicians, MY guilty pleasures, MY songs that reminded me of MY favorite memories, mine Mine MINE. Music was something I consumed, and once I received it, I consumed it the way I wished. Sure, music with my friends was a pastime I thoroughly loved, but it still was always a personal relationship I maintained. A relationship where my existence was solely a reflection of who I was at the time and where I was, both physically and mentally.

Being at a festival alone opened my eyes.

Sure, one would think being engulfed in a setting such as Warped Tour, one might be more susceptible to experience the days events on a strictly personal level and consume the events as they see fit. And that was partially unavoidable. Yet, something else happened. As my mind wasn’t distracted by the inevitable nagging friend complaining about the heat, the prices, or the band I wanted to see, I was able to fully submerge myself into the day and all it had to offer.

There was something magical I had never noticed before. At least, not to the intensity I had thought.

The connection between a band or artist on stage, performing their music, their art, for the people who loved their music. I’ve always believed music to be on par with a religious experience, especially in times of high emotion. Be that emotion love, sadness, hate, stress, depression, etc. But I have never been more convinced that the act of being surrounded by other people, gathered for a specific event, involving music, could gib everyone present a ritualistic feeling of ecstasy. This moment makes one realize there are powers in this world far beyond the comprehension of an individual. And when no more than strangers gather to indulge in the experience of witnessing the performance of music close to one’s own life, that truly a concert can change and impact a life. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I saw no difference that day between hearing Handel’s Messiah and hearing Big D & The Kids Table’s Shining On. Everyone in that pit shared the same greater feeling that I did, even if they noticed it or not. We all put our everything into that show. The band played their hearts out, I danced and sang every word I did (and didn’t) know, and the crowd did all they could to show the band they enjoyed themselves. And the whole experience was elevated because of that.

Ever since that day I have tried to avoid merely consuming music as if it were another good bought at a store. Music is more powerful than that, and though it is packaged and sold as a product, it will forever be, at least to me, an experience.

And the band played on.

Lost and Found

A few months ago, while still an undergrad, a few friends of mine got together in the studio and jammed, recording the smooth sounds. I recently stumbled upon this recording from that session.

It’s a sweet little ditty written by the guitarist. Earlier in either the week or day (details escape me), we were standing outside the music building, him and I. One of us noticed there was a penny on the ground. Someone went to reach for it, but noticed it was facing upside down. I remember calling it a bad luck penny. Apparently, it had enough of a ring to it to be a song name. So much so, that it was only a few hours later that he came up to me and told me the good news.

Ladies and non-ladies, and all of you in between, I give you: Bad Luck Penny.

Feel free to share any thoughts in the comment section!

Thus Begins The Rabbit Hole – An Introduction Through Another’s Video

As I began work on my next post (I’m starting work on a series of posts, TBA), I suddenly remembered a key moment that helped shape the core of my conceptual thinking, and the subject of my next posting. Cue this introduction.

This was a video that was shown to me a few years ago, and I remember watching it quite a few times that week. Each listen was like a proverbial inching forward to falling down into the rabbit hole of philosophical thinking about music. I was signing my soul to the musical devil, and I had no idea what I was in for.

Alan Watts was a philosopher, speaker, and author who assisted in bringing eastern philosophical ideas to western thinkers. He’s got quite an interesting story to his life and it certainly is worth at least reading his Wikipedia page, if not his whole collection of works. Do yourself a favor and introduce yourself to Mr. Watts tonight/today/this afternoon/whatever time of day it is whilst reading this post.

The background for this video is quite simple. Matt Parker and Trey Stone, creators of South Park, animated some of Watts’ lecture recordings. The animation is simple, true to the spirit of South Park. Yet, the simplicity allows one to concentrate on the powerful words that come through their speakers.

Take a seat, make yourself comfortable, enjoy a tasty beverage, and allow me to introduce you to a wonderful human being. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Alan Watts:

Offical Websites of Alan Watts, managed by his son Mark Watts. Take a visit.
http://alanwatts.com/
http://www.alanwatts.org/

Resurrection and New Beginnings

I haven’t forgotten about you, dearest blog of mine.

I’ve actually been quite busy.

And starting soon, I’ll be working on a series of posts about some experiences I have been through these past few months. They have really quite changed my life and my thoughts about life, music, love, and the question.

But for now, a life update will do.

Post undergrad life has been the most interesting time of my life this far. My first job I took was for an electrical contracting company I had previously worked for in high school. I was working there full time with no musical outlet for a few months. It was killing me.

Then I found Seventh Wave Studio. After playing the most challenging game of phone tag, I was able to secure an internship and I’ve never looked back since. A studio environment that is nothing less then family. I found my second home.

After a few weeks there, a position was brought to my attention at Dickinson college. I thought nothing of it till I saw it was still posted a few weeks after. It was a part time job for the college’s radio station. I decided to inquire. Another few weeks passed by and I found myself to be the Technical Production Coordinator of 88.3 WDCV-FM The Voice of Dickinson College. I couldn’t be happier.

Lastly, I have been able to secure a variety of freelance gigs around the area doing audio work. Through friends and colleagues, I’ve been able to run sound at The Burning Bridge Tavern, The Chameleon Club, The Village, and more.

I have learned the two best ways to be an “audio professional” at least in my case.

Make your own schedule.
This allows me to have much more freedom to be able to take freelance gigs and work in the studio. Studio get my top priority and I fill in the rest of the week with my Dickinson job. Being part time, I can come in at any hour, so I might go in for a shift at 5pm or a weekend. I fill the rest with my electrical job.

Take the gig.
There have been many situations the past few months where I was offered a gig and I was uneasy to take it. I used to be a “no” person. I quit that very early. Because I’ve said yes, I took a playing gig for the Hershey Park In The Dark season and played in the Screaming Mummies band for 6 amazing weeks. I also have met some great people from taking church gigs. A couple buck here and there fill the gas tank quicker than one would think. I also was able to get a number of freelance audio gigs in lanc because I was so easily and last minute available. I said yes. I was reliable. And I made sure to always do my best work I could and be as respectful and friendly to all I met. And because of my quality work, I like to think, my phone kept ringing.

Audio is a very difficult field to make a living in. Does that scare me? You have no idea. Do I regret any decision I’ve made to be where I am now?

The answer is a whole hearted, fully resonating no.

Exvoicetation

Exvoicetation

A few months ago, I created a post titled “Exvoicetation – Movement 1 for Solo Voice” featuring the first movement of my composition project for the fall 2012 semester. Well, months may have passed but my love and passion for that piece has not. So, I decided to allow anyone that may be interested in purchasing their own digital copy of the three movement piece. Now available on my bandcamp, along with album art and an exclusive digital booklet. I hope you all enjoy the EP, as I can assure you it ate up hours and hours and hours of my life. From my heart to your ears. Enjoy.

%d bloggers like this: