Monday, July 2, 2012
It started on Saturday. No, scratch that. It started when I was a little kid, about four, and used to tap dance around the room. I was in a very small group of little male kids who liked to tap dance and didn't end up being gay, which would be fine if it were the case, although it's not, but I digress.
On Saturday June 30, I had a thought that was the fruition of thinking many other thoughts during the nearly 40 years between those moments of my tap dancing days and this last weekend. It's an interesting experience, by the way, when every thought you ever had coalesces into one focused, highly condensed beam of uberthought. I've heard of this happening before, but hadn't really experienced it myself, and especially not while being sober.
What? And Why U No Have New Music?
As most of you know, I came out with an album of music at the end of 2009. I like that album. It's a great representation of a certain aspect of my creativity. That having been said, I'll be the first to admit that it was an intentionally limited project. The boundaries I put up were simple and understandable: the album was entirely comprised of songs that I'd be capable of performing as a solo musician, using nothing more than acoustic guitar and my voice (and maybe a harmonica) during my live performances in Second Life. All of those songs, in fact, were written with those tools alone, and were all performed many times that way before fleshing them out in the studio with other instruments.
So that was good and well. And, as you'd suspect, since I enjoyed the process and experience of making an album of my own music (and had continued to write more and more new songs in the same vein as I did for that album), I immediately made plans to make another one. I even went back into the studio a few months after it was released and started recording some new stuff that I'd been working on.
(sips cup of now-cold coffee, contemplates getting more, decides against it for now)
Well, life isn't a straight, flat road for anyone. It has bumps and hills and curves and potholes, and you get flat tires and hitch rides and all that. Nearly all of my musical collaborators went through some rough shit between then and now. The studio where I used to work became unavailable. I half-heartedly started looking around for alternative places and ways to record my stuff, but I could tell based on my own tepid efforts that I wasn't really interested in that.
Why not? Well, it's a long story, and this is already a long story, but I hate it when people say something is a long story just to avoid telling you about it, so I'll make it short as possible. First, I have a musical background that goes in many different directions, and I felt a desire to explore some directions beyond what I'd done as a solo guy with an acoustic guitar. Second, we live in a world where music, as wonderful as it is, sadly doesn't seem to get the level of appreciation as an art form on its own as it once did. Third, there are amazing technological tools being used today that can offer people an experience that goes beyond passive reception of someone else's creativity. That's the shortest version possible. You have no idea how difficult that was to articulate in less than 20,000 words. Whew.
(I'm getting that second cup of coffee now)
I've acquired this semi-disparate set of skills, almost all of which I stumbled into via necessity for my income-earning and casual interest rather than genuine desire (with the exception of music, which was entirely purposeful from the beginning of my life, though I don't know why). I can create visual art. I can write words (usually too many of them). I can produce sounds and record audio. I can make videos. I can create web sites and write a little bit of code.
So over the last couple of years that I've been going through this indecisive phase of, "How will I record the next album," I slowly became aware that perhaps recording a new batch of songs just like I did last time wasn't what I really wanted to do at all (though there will be a new album... but hang on, you impatient fool! All will be revealed soon enough).
However, I did want to create music and have people hear it. But why stop there? If making an album is too difficult, why not make something a hundred times more difficult?
Seriously, Will You Please Tell Us What You're Talking About?
Not yet. A couple of weeks ago, Kat got me an iPad, and I really like it way more than I thought I would. I immediately started setting it up with a focus on all the things that I enjoy... music, social interaction, artistic tools, and so on. I also got a couple of games, which I found fun. Fun is important to me, and hopefully is to you too.
On Friday night after I'd finished working, I looked into what kinds of adventure games were available for the iPad. There were lots. My enjoyment of those kinds of games goes back to the very original "Adventure" for the Atari 2600, from 1979. As I've grown older and time has grown shorter, I haven't been able to enjoy such a game in a long while, but as I looked into what was new and cool, one game caught my eye. It had the odd title of "Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP", and one of the main things I noticed was that it seemed to be both a video game and a delivery method for songs by an interesting musician named Jim Guthrie. That's when the very beginnings of the uberthought started roiling somewhere deep in my cerebral cortex, but it hadn't come close to fully forming. What I did think about at that time was, "Hey, this is a great way to get some music out there in a format that's more engaging than simply listening to a download on iTunes."
I told Kat about the "Sworcery" game and she was intrigued, so together we spent a good chunk of Saturday going through and eventually completing the game. We both agreed that it was a fantastic experience that transcended most of the other games we'd played for a variety of reasons (seriously, just get the game and see for yourself rather than listening to me try and explain it). That evening, as we discussed what was cool about the game, a bunch of things occurred to me at once. This is the part that I'm not going to explain right now.
What the Hell??!?!
Oh, you want a recap of the uberthought process? Sure. I thought that the evolution of humanity was clearly moving toward an era where one's data is what comprises one's "soul" (for lack of a better term), and that history is what defines culture and humanity, and that the act of capturing one's life is now being done on a much more individualized basis than ever via social networks, so that as time goes by, nearly everyone on the planet would have a long-term historical record of even the minutiae moments of their entire life, and that this record was put into data form and disseminated from day one, and that data itself was transferrable so that as computers and social networks and other technologies come and go, the data itself still exists, and if one could somehow reconstruct a life based on the moments of that life that have been...
Anyway, that sort of sums up the first part of the idea.
Whatever, Weirdo. I'm Going to Stop Reading Now.
That's fine. And it's not even a complete version of the uberthought. That's just the beginning. Just a snippet. You should be thanking me for not giving you the really confusing version.
Ultimately, for right now, I can tell you this: I'm going to attempt to make a thing, and the thing will be somewhere between a new album of music, a video game, an experiment, a book, a movie, and/or all of the above. Or barely any of the above; if the only successful thing that happens is that I end up with an album of interesting new music that I wouldn't have otherwise done, I'm certainly no worse off than I was before (and probably a good deal better).
I can tell you that there's a working title. I can tell you that I've started updating operating systems and looking into software and downloading development kits and the like. But that stuff doesn't really matter. What I'm mostly doing is writing a story that, heh heh, I'm not sure if I'm quite talented enough to write. But we'll see, all of us, together. Because I am going to need your help. If it comes out right, it'll be one of those things that you get to the end of your life and say, "Well, at least I did that." Or maybe it'll be mildly entertaining and give you something to do. We all need things to do. And time. Because while life is short, it can also be sweet. Or suite.
More to come.
Posted by Zak Claxton at 1:13 PM