Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year, So Long 2013...,

2013 was a year of grunt work and some nice surprises.  I'm so thankful to my wife, Amanda, for pushing me back up on stage.  I feel like myself again and more a part of the New Orleans community because of it.  

I want to wish the very best to the whole St. Roch Crew.  May we all push ourselves even harder in 2014.

Special thanks to all who were part of my record "Campo Santo".  I can't believe all of you were a part of it and it's almost on wax.  
Danny Blume, Josh Werner, Dave Burnett, Nels Cline, David Baron, Zach Alford, Jerry Morotta, Margo Valiente, Misha, John Ellis, Madison, Ward Williams, and Dan Brooks.

Thanks to my New Orleans music crew especially William Chandler.  Shout out to Leesaw, Ms. Mec, Graham Hill, Elise Pinkham, Anton Jonas, Phil Rollins, Bart Ramsey, Olivia, Dave and Scott at the Opera House.  

I'm No Hoarder, Part 3...,

I'm thinking yesterday was the final day of going through my CD collection.  This drawer, the "Rock" drawer was always pretty spread out across different era's.  It started with Animal Collective, Devendra Banhart, Coco Rosie, Elliot Smith and also had some early 90's Grunge with Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots and such.  It actually started as grunge and went into 90's indie rock and into freak folk back into what we now still call Indie, whatever that means.  The word Indie has as much meaning as hand crafted now a days.  

Once again, it was so nice to actually have to physically go through these.  I would have totally forgotten about the early 90's band "Belly".  I'm excited to have this collection back in my house and am looking forward to revisiting all the Blonde Redhead records.  In the late 90's I was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and was spending all my days and nights listening to records, learning Pro Tools and playing piano and guitar along with making beats with Donovan Guidry on the MPC 2000.  A few times a week when I felt I deserved it, I'd hop the train over to Nolita for a coffee break at Cafe Gitane.  In those days you could sit in there for hours and read and sip coffee and gaze out the window.   I don't remember there being any internet or computers involved and could remember people actually talking to each other.  

There were regulars there everyday with these beautiful twin guys who were Italian and would ride vintage motorcycles.  Sometimes they'd have instruments with them but never knew they were "Blonde Redhead" until a few years after the Cafe Gitane hang became too popular.  

Luc, the owner of Cafe Gitane, was and remains one of my favorite men in New York.  He is from Morroco and moved to NY and started this cafe and does really well for himself.  He has a new location in the Jane Hotel now that I frequent sometimes.  The vibe is still the same but the hang is not like it used to be.  The guys and gals behind the counter still wear blue, French chore coats.  Luc was onto to this look way before Bill Cunningham made it so chic.  

Radiohead had just released OK Computer when I moved to NY and I would walk around the city with my walkman dreaming alone before I knew anyone.  A few years later when we were building Headgear Studio in Williamsburg we'd would blast Kid A in awe.  So good, two copies ended up in my collection.  

Portishead's Dummy was probably one of the biggest influences for "So Long"  Mostly in production style with the beats and ambience.  Of course hip hop and sampling was an influence too but this was closer to the direction we wanted to go.  

And then England puts their foot down again with Massive Attack.  Once I heard them, I bought it all.  Over time, I like it a little less mostly due to the female club style vox.  I love them with Horace Andy though.  I was happy to hear they ended up recording at Headgear with friend Dave Sitek.

The Yeah Yeah Yeah's were the first band to hit in the neighborhood.  They were old school Williamsburg too, L Cafe people.

One of the best things about living in NY is the level of talent and taste you find living around the corner.  We had a decent idea of what we wanted our music to sound like but needed some help and we were introduced to Chris Kelly and Danny Blume at Good and Evil studio.  They had a small space in Carroll Gardens with a sound like no one else was getting.  The song "Perique" was made there.  Haunting sounds.

Monday, December 30, 2013

I'm No Hoarder, Part 2....

Yesterday was another day of going through my record collection.  I went through a very important part of my collection which was the New Wave era along with other great 80's artist like Madonna and Prince who could have their own section.  It's funny how people always try to compare the next young female star selling her budding sexuality to Madonna.  Whether you like her or not, she reinvented herself over and over way past the budding of her womanhood. So sorry Miley, Brittany and all the other school girls.

Prince was an early influence even before Michael.  The movie Purple Rain with his cheap motorcycle and Appolonia!  You can't put a guy like prince in the 80's section or R&B, Rock.  What an artist!

I grew up right in between Baton Rouge and New Orleans right off of the river.  The musical taste  in my area from the early to mid eighties was mostly R&B.  Prince, Morris Day and the Time, Midnight Star, Marvin Gaye.  As a freshman, I left the local high school to attend a Catholic school closer to New Orleans. The school was more of a college prep school and Prep it was.  I had a peach fuzz mustache and listened to Prince but all that was about to change.  I shaved for the first time and started seeing band names written all over peoples books.  INXS!  I used to think it read inks.  Echo and the Bunnymen, U2, The Cure, The Smiths, DM, Dead Kennedy's, Sugar Cubes, New Order.  Also as the mid 80's were heading towards the late 80's the music back in my home town was changing as well and becoming more electronic with a twist of New Wave but remaining true to R&B with the same swagger.  

Artists like Stevie B, Noel, Johnny O, Cause and Effect, Egyptian Lover, Kyper were taking over the dance floor back home.  While folks back home were open to New Wave, it didn't exactly quench their thirst for the remembered swagger of 1983. Also, the city folks would come get a taste of the country dance parties too.  The Kingfish in the woods outside of Lafayette is legendary though I was too young to go.

I think the first time I heard Depeche Mode was on a mixed tape.  It was like nothing I had ever heard and took me far away from my little town.  They tapped into my imagination somehow and I began to wonder about the world outside of Louisiana for the first time.  We were reaching the age for nights out in New Orleans at the Gold Mine Saloon where we were discovering loads of artist.  I loved Decatur Street in those days.  There were great small bars with great music and shops to by posters and anything black.  It was always a great drive to New Orleans to hit either Tower Records or this record store on Octavia Uptown.  

I was glad to come across this great record, especially since it still had the price tag on it.  I bought this at Crossroads Records in Starkville, Ms. when I was in college.  I first saw The The when they opened for Depeche Mode in the late eighties.  Really great singer and writer.

This is one of my favorite album covers, probably right after New Order's, Power Corruption and Lies. I didn't really know about The Violent Femmes until college.  I remember my good friends Rodney Rocconi and Lance Grady going see them at Tipitina's and talking about climbing up on the fence.  I can imagine this band creating quite a stir live when they were at their peak.  Such a great record of acoustic punk songs.  I did get to see them at some point at Tipitina's in the early 90's.  They were great but would have been great to see them earlier.  

Depeche Mode kind of ruled the New Wave/80's collection. Over time New Order's catalog holds up the best for me.  Of course Joy Division does too but that would be more post punk which should be another discussion.  So many great artist in this period.  Most of this music stands up to the times and aged well with the exception of some of the snare sounds and gated reverb.  Well, there was the drone singing and affected cool but it was perfectly of the time.  Thanks Martin Gore, Robert Smith, Stephen Morrissey, and Prince Rogers Nelson.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I'm no Hoarder.....

Yesterday I began the daunting task of reducing my two file cabinet record (CD) collection to one cabinet.  Ever since that first  purchase, INXS Kick, my CD collection has been my most prized possession.  As I went through each genre, I remembered where I bought them and what I was studying musically.  Most of my purchases since 2000 have been about studying music along with loving the many different genres. 

 I probably should have called the show Hoarder's to come film me because it was an emotional process.  It was hard discarding some of the art work in the cheap plastic cases but I eventually mustered enough courage to dump it out.  I managed to save the liner notes and the CD in each little pouch which will be nice to have in the future.  There's still something about the physical presence of liner notes and being able to flip through a collection.  Though Spotify is great way to discover music, you lose that chance conversation in the record shop to discover a new artist.  There was no better feeling than coming home with the new CD when it was new technology.  First I'd rip through the cardboard cartridge and then wrestle with the damn sticky thing that almost never came completely off.  

The beginning of my CD collection was mostly New Wave since that was what I was into at the time.  I was in high school and tapes were fading and the Bon Jovi people were wearing their concert T shirts with the 3/4 sleeves and smoking in their Camaro's and Living on their Prayers.  Cassettes in those days were still great.  Most of my cassettes in those days were Prince, Morris Day, Run DMC, and random artist like Kyper.  The best part of this era was the mix tape of course.  The mixed disc never reached the status of the mix tape.

My New Wave consumption continued on into college but quickly became a consumer of Classical music when I began to play the piano.  Going through my Classical collection, each album brought back memories of when I first fell in love with playing music.  Alone in the piano lab late nights in Starkville, Ms. was one of my favorite things to do.  My piano professor was Dr. Duncan McMillan and he was leading me on path of musical discovery.  

During this time I began to buy some U2 records and grunge was starting to happen and began playing the guitar too.  

This picture kind of started it all for me recording original music.  I had made a painting inspired by it and it was on the wall of my East Village apartment when Donovan Guidry first moved to town.  He was the only person that would hear me sing and was the first person to suggest exploring my own sound.  We started our own label Newlafaya because of these brainstorming sessions.  This is why these physical objects are hard to get rid of.  They have deep rooted meaning.

In 1998, I moved over to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to begin recording my first record "So Long".  I made weekly trips to Earwax record shop and was discovering Dub, Indie Rock, and lots of world music.  All these things were going into the kinds of music we were making.  At the time trip hop was really a great sound and I was devouring it all.  

This was a huge step for me to toss these.  I never liked the plastic cases anyway.  They almost always broke when opening.  It was funny to see what CD jackets I wanted to save.  The Sigur Ros record packaging was impossible to throw away along with a few beautiful Dub compilations.  It's interesting to go through my vinyl collection.  There's no way you'd throw away that packaging.  It's so simple and beautiful.  

Oh well, here we go into the unknown future of the Album.  Hope we all survive in these disposable times.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Looking Back at 2013...

Lou Reed

2013 was a good year.  A year of grunt work and pure determination.  We lost a lot of great artist and local folks and our rich past seems to be diminishing into some cheap nothingness.  I don't believe it is totally lost as I'm surrounded by amazing Americans doing great things. We are out numbered however  but I think time will do it's thing and the current lifestyle most Americans are living will be tested and erode away and move on over to our way of thinking.  

Harold Aubert

After my years on Atlantic records and being surrounded by so many folks and opportunities I was left alone and one month turned into a year with no one reaching out to me to continue my musical path.  It was just me and my wife and dog and a guitar. No one seemed to care if I made music or not.  I considered not playing and having a peaceful life without it but songs were always there.  It's just how I digest all that surrounds me. All the joy, pain and unfairness are put into song and somehow just lights it on fire and allows others to let them go too.  Amanda really put a lot of pressure on me to share my music.  It was piling up, song after song and I had no intention or care of sharing live or on record.  For some reason I was afraid of sharing but thanks to this lovely, strong woman I've freed myself from the chains of all this inner conflict.  

I'm so thankful to have completed my recording of "Campo Santo".  I'm so honored to have had the chance to work with so many of my favorite musicians.  Thanks to Danny Blume for taking my project on 3 years ago after a phone call.  You guys are my heroes: Danny Blume, Josh Werner, Dave Burnett, Nels Cline, David Baron, Zack Alford, John Ellis, Misha, Jerry Morotta, Margo Valiente, and Ward Williams. Thanks to my New Orleans live crew: William Chandler, Leesaw, Miss Mec, Graham Hill, Phil Rollins, Elise Pinkham, Stella, and Olivia.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

In a Coco Atmosphere...

On Monday, some old friends of mine were going to be rolling through on their US tour and I checked in with them and they invited me out to come hang at Tipitina's.  Tip's is the holy grail of New Orleans music being named after Professor Long Hair.  I grew up in Louisiana and have had songs in film and have been signed to a major label and still haven't had the chance to play on that stage.  It's only fitting that the first time I step on that stage would be with Coco Rosie.  The avant garde duo made up of sisters Bianca and Sierra Cassidy.  

New Orleans music scene can be a funny thing.  Most of it is made up of out of towners who come here to learn how to sound like they come from here and then as soon as they become funky the gate keepers let them in.  Well all my funk comes from not trying to be funky.  There's no need for me to even think about trying to sound local when I grew up drinking from the Mississippi.  All the ghost of Louisiana's past are trapped inside of me and come out in melodies.  And speaking of funky, Bianca lays it in there like no other with Sierra swooning over the top with her operatic styles.  

This is Tez who does all the beat boxing for Coco.  Take everything you know about hip hop beat boxing and throw it out.  He's the most tasty of them all and sounds electronic.  He can make keyboard sounds along with beats at the same time.  It's super human.

In 2001, I had just finished the grueling process of making my first record and then 911 happened and was sort of burned out and freaked out.  I met Sierra in a cafe and she was looking for an apartment and I took her back to show her mine with her then boyfriend.  I had tons of homemade album art packaging laying around and I gave her a record and then didn't see her again until a few years later in an internet cafe.  

We were so excited to meet again that day especially exciting to hear she had just finished her first record with her sister Bianca in Paris.  She told me how much they had loved my record and how it had inspired them to make music in their apartment.  That night they had their very first show in a dive on Grand or Metropolitan and I was blown away.  I had always seen Bianca on the streets of Williamsburg selling clothes hanging with friends and was a pleasant surprise to see her doing her thing.  

This is Takuya who plays keys for Coco.  I just sang on a track for he and Josh Werner's project that will be mixed by Bill Laswell.

So great to reconnect after all these years.  I'm hoping Bianca is serious about moving to New Orleans for a bit to make music.  Thanks Girls!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Coming in from the sea.....

If you're reading this, you've either ran into me on the streets of New Orleans and wondered what the hell I was up to or you've discovered my music along the way.  If you're here because of my music, especially my first record, you're probably saying, "What the hell is this dude doing"!
I appreciate that people are still discovering "So Long"and have a special place for that record in my soul but I've always felt that there were more records and other stories to be told.  After much confusion and hard work through the past 5 years, I've finally come in from the sea so to say.  It's an exciting time in music.  Because of technology we can record much cheaper and have real intimate collaborations with folks across the country and come up with original works.  With technology comes a lot of downsides too, the main one being attention deficit disorder.  I still think of music in the form of albums but the trend now is always the next unknown artist and that one song. But I'm old school and love to labor over the whole big picture of an album.  Try telling an author to write one chapter and release it.  It just doesn't make sense.

I've made a commitment to only release music that means something to me and to never pander to the local tourist community or fans of my old work.  This hard headedness can lead to a more difficult but fulfilling journey.  I'm the type of person who believes in loving every phase of life; work and pleasure. I feel that nothing puts you in  a comfort seat like having to work for something and to come out on the other end as sharp as a sword.  Which leads me to where I am now.  We've been working hard on being a small part of the New Orleans community and it has been beautiful to watch it grow.  Along with this I've been working hard on live shows and playing solo shows and am loving the opportunities coming my way.  I must say it feels good to share again.

We're just about done with the blue room which will be painted white with white floors.  It will be used for a work space for me and Amanda.  It will be part library and part office space along with a guest room.

The original plaster will be exposed in the closet.  It was too beautiful to cover up.  We're going to add a few shelves for more storage.

My number one fan Luca. He was there for almost all the songs that I wrote for "Campo Santo".  Whenever a new idea would come and I would start singing it, it would feel like a ghost was in the room and he would start barking at me as if I'm a stranger.  It's almost like something takes me over and he is really bothered by it.  Most of the time he sits at my feet if I'm playing acoustic.  If I'm playing electric he runs as soon as I pick it up.  He knows what he likes.

This will be the view for Friday's show at Le Chateau.  Cooler temperatures and fire playing on a rooftop.
Thanks to Heather Hansen.

Last night I was told the lights were on in the newly renovated St. Roch Mkt. and had to take a ride to see.  It is so beautiful.  So yeah, this post is about coming in from that long trip out of the sea through darkness and barely seeing the light and coming out of it shining like a knight.