Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Saturday, November 10th, 2012
Since everyone is getting in the holiday/baking/indoor mood, I figured this was appropriate timing…
When I was a kid, we would regularly be allowed to have cookies. When those times would come, I would ask my parents how many I could have, and they would normally respond with a number in the three neighborhood. Nevertheless, the next time my siblings and I would just ask how many we could have again. I distinctly remember an instance when my dad responded with a question instead of an answer. That question affected my entire thought process, and made an impression that’s lasted the rest of my life:
“How many cookies do you want?”
Simple enough, I know. Often the most profound concepts are expressed in the most basic simplicity. While my dad was probably doing this because he was tired of having to answer the same question every time, rather than consciously harnessing the power of the Socratic Method, it caused me to consider 1) the value of each cookie, 2) the law of diminishing returns (didn’t know the name for it then tho, or how to pronounce the word diminishing), and 3) a proactive rather than reactive mindset. The last one is the most valuable, and has affected the most aspects of my life since.
So many times, in whatever goal we desire to achieve, it’s easy to be reactive. This is not only a useless, but also a detrimental mentality, as it distracts us from being proactive in our goals. One can waste a lot of time waiting to be reactive to some providential force to bestow favor and success, while simultaneously missing opportunities which could have been seized. No matter what your goal is, and I’m sure it’s difficult to achieve, calculate a small step you can take toward that right now. Don’t get lost wondering how many cookies some outside force will let you have, and start deciding things for yourself!
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
as most of you may know, i relocated to nashville at the beginning of the summer, and have had a wonderful first three months here. someone was explaining to me the difference between a place with a music scene, and a place with a music industry. nashville is definitely the latter, and being here is extremely refreshing.
“isn’t there so much more competition there, nate?” well i’m glad you asked. that’s one way to look at it, but the “competition” here is extremely collaborative and helpful to one another, and to me. my first month here i was asked to be on the respective bills of two of my friends’ shows at great venues like 12th & Porter! every time i go out (nashville has a great nightlife!), i’m hanging out with similarly-inspired industry folk and being constantly encouraged and inspired from every direction. another surprisingly wonderful thing is to consider the other voices on any given show bill better than my own! iron sharpens iron.
my short term goals are to network like crazy, start playing more shows as i gain a following here, get youtubesdays going again after having bought some better gear (huzzah!) and some new inspiration for songs to cover, and record some of the new music i’ve been writing. i even had a great cowriting session (my first from concept) with an awesome producer/writer/dude, josh bronleewe. oh and by the way, i’m teaching myself to tinkle the ivories. and no, that’s not a euphemism for housetraining. more to come from all of that, but thanks for being patient while i got settled. until then, thanks for continuing to support me, i can feel it all the way over here!
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
alright kids, it’s finally happening. nashville is on! after over a year of trying to make it happen, i’m going to be skidaddling off to tennessee. i’m finalizing a transfer to the green hills apple store as i write this, and i’ll be heading out the end of may. i’m incredibly stoked for the next chapter of my life, and living in a place that i find so inspiring. can’t wait to join some good friends out there, and no doubt making many new ones both with apple and the rest of nashvegas.
i look forward to pursuing my music career further in music city, and many other good things are in the works. new music on the horizon, the return of youtubesdays in my new home studio, even planning on experimenting with a live online concert i’ve been kicking around for a while. i want to thank everyone who encouraged me to make this transition, all my friends in san antonio and austin, my family, everyone who’s ever told me i was meant for more. i will no doubt miss you guys and texas, but my restless blood won’t let me stay here anymore. will be playing shows and hanging out with peeps whenever i visit san anto, and will keep everyone posted when that’s going to happen.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
after working on the music video for comearound for a few months, i’m proud to finally share it with you! thanks to kimberly scott and her crew for devoting all their hard work and stupid talent. please check out kimberlyscottblog.com to see more of what she’s up to. you’ll find it’s a lot more than just music videos
Monday, March 28th, 2011
People should eat more donuts, and you should buy them for them. None of this story is intended to brag or talk about how great I am, because no one likes that guy. The only reason I share it with you is in hopes that you’ll benefit from it. Now, back to donuts.
When I was playing in Nashville, I ran into a young singer named Hannah Weison at an open mic and befriended her and her family. Turns out they are from Austin, which is only a little over an hour from where I live in San Antonio. We remained in touch through the magic of Facebook, and she then asked me to be an actor in her music video. I agreed, and this morning I drove 109 miles to Taylor, Texas, after about two hours of sleep (thanks SxSW) to help out in an eight-hour shoot on a high school campus.
Let me tell you why I didn’t do this. It wasn’t to somehow attach myself to her to benefit myself, since she’s got the world in front of her as a 15-year old starlet in-the-making. It’s because I like to help people, especially people who share my struggles as a musician. Now this would have been a good enough favor to do for someone, but there is always another way to go the extra mile for someone.
While I was driving to the location, I passed one of my favorite donut chains, called The Donut Palace, and grabbed a dozen glazed for cast/crew/extras. There are a few shortcuts into people’s hearts, and one of them is donuts. The idea here is that if people believe that you will bust your tail for them, they will follow you to the end of the world. That’s a fundamental aspect of being a good leader, and of being a good person. As musicians what you’re asking to be is a leader, so study this stuff. My brother has a master’s degree in leadership and ethics, so I have plans to interview him in the future to get you guys some more goodies on being leaders and presenting yourself in an attractive manner.
Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
in a time where the fantastic album is being largely forsaken in favor of a string of catchy singles that last a few months on radio and fizzle forever, i want to celebrate the art of making an album. to do that, i’m looking back at my favorite complete works of modern rock music in the last 12 years or so. it’s not just collections of great songs, it’s the greatest albums.
first off, a disclaimer: i like pop music. not because i believe it makes me popular, in fact in most cases it makes me unpopular. most musicians i know are into those edgy indie acts that are on the edge of being big-time, and then stop liking them when they “sell out”, or achieve mainstream success. i’ll acknowledge that sometimes bands/artists sacrifice artistic brilliance to meet the insatiable demands of pop, but in my line of work, i have to believe that the two can coexist symbiotically, especially for people like me who like pop music.
with that said, i don’t want everybody ripping on me for leaving out the beatles or led zepellin, because i honestly just don’t much like listening to the music they made. i believe they are legendary bands who made great music, and there are individual songs i like from their catalogs, but this isn’t a list of the best bands, it’s a list of my top 10 favorite albums of all time. now that i’ve pissed some of you off, i’ll have to objectively qualify how i came to my decisions. what makes a good album, you ask?
SONGWRITING. i believe a good song is the balance of two basic components: (1) i’m going to call it pop factor, it’s the familiar verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure with the million-dollar chord progression (I-V-vi-IV for you theory nerds.. see u2’s with or without you, taylor swift’s love story, linkin park’s shadow of the day, come to think of it, those three songs right there probably make that chord progression worth more than a million bucks each). everybody knows those structures, and honestly everybody knows them for a reason, because it’s a damn good way to write a pop song. too much of it tho, and you’ve got yourself a plain white bread song, which brings us to the second factor. (2) originality, it’s the paprika of songwriting. too much of it, and all you can taste is paprika and you’re saying to yourself, “who’s the asshole who put all this paprika in my mouth!? why can’t you give me a little chicken with my paprika so i can identify with it a little bit?” anyway, the challenge is to make something fresh out of something that has been overdone thousands of times. martin scorcese once said, “there are no new ideas anymore. all a filmmaker can do is make movies that feel fresh.” the same premise holds true for music.
LISTENABILITY. we’re still talking about what makes a good album, for those of you who got lost thinking about paprika. i want to be able to listen to the whole thing, without even the slightest inkling of desire to skip a song. not only do i want to look forward to each song, i want to know that if one of them was unexplainedly removed (say for example, if i had a hard drive error and only certain files were erased . . . harumph), i would be pissed off and the album would seem incomplete.
PRODUCTION. one of the main reasons i don’t like listening to older bands is because i love technology and where it’s taken us in high fidelity audiological ear-bliss. yes, i just coined the term ear-bliss, get over it. and don’t let your mind go there, no! bad mind! now i have a penchant for “big” sounding records, but i’ve included a relatively “small” sounding record in my list just to prove that i’m not discriminating.
VOCALS. so, so, so important. there are very few bands i like that don’t have strong, unique, and heavily-featured vocals. as i’ll illustrate later, they don’t have to be technically perfect, but they do have to be perfectly appropriate.
and now, to the list, in no particular order:
ONE-X: THREE DAYS GRACE | 13 June 2006 | Howard Benson
fave song: “get out alive” – i learned to play drums when i was 14, and can play along with a lot of my favorite stuff, but when i first heard what could have so easily been a pedestrian drumline turned into a tapestry of amazingness, i had to spend an hour or so drumming on my steering wheel until i could wrap my brain around the genius of that part. as an aside, if you ever ride in a car with me, be warned that a song like this may be on repeat indefinitely, and i probably already had it that way for 30 or 40 times before that. BGVs in this song are amazing, that’s really important to me.
CANNONS: PHIL WICKHAM | 2 October 2008 | Peter Kipley
fave song: tough, this whole album is on such an amazing level. i’ll go with “must i wait”. – i warm up my voice with this song, plus it gets me pumped up for a gig and makes me think i’m a vocal badass.
MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE: MATCHBOX TWENTY | 19 November 2002 | Matt Serletic
fave song: while technically i have to say “hand me down” is the best, it’s so unified with it’s neighbor “could i be you” that i tend to think of the songs as a unit. this album is extremely cohesive, a lot of thought was put into arranging the songs and getting them to flow together and complement one another. while this list is in no particular order, this is probably the closest thing to #1.
ABSOLUTION: MUSE | 23 March 2004 | Rich Costey
fave song: “butterflies and hurricanes” – one word: epic. this song makes me want to go kick the world’s ass on the way to climbing a large mountain. what makes this band great is that each musician is extremely well-represented in each song, they always come up with amazing parts for each song, and they’re unselfish enough to know when it’s not their time to shine, which is even more important than nailing your part when it is.
CONTINUUM: JOHN MAYER | 8 September 2006 | John Mayer, Steve Jordan
fave song: again for me this album is more about the album and less about individual songs, but “belief” does everything i want it to do and deals with something so weighty, kudos to john. i don’t necessarily agree with him on everything, but that’s not really the point of the song. if you haven’t seen his live dvd, called “where the light is”, he gets into this song perfectly in a way that at least looked spontaneous with his keys player. nothing to do with the album, but it deserves attention.
THE BLACK PARADE: MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE | 31 October 2006 | Rob Cavallo
fave song: “i don’t love you” – i’ve heard criticism that this album is completely un-mychemicalromance-esque, but that has never bothered me. a band can always reinvent itself, i don’t think the way you entered mainstream success is the way you have to leave it, and actually i think if you do, something went wrong. see john mayer’s career (started out a pop heartthrob and successfully melded that with his blues roots, can’t wait to see where he goes next). this is another album that takes you places, and regardless of whether or not they got help writing the tunes (the album screams that they did), it’s one of the most complete works ever made. has a very diverse feel with multiple styles mixed in, e.g. european-sounding songs like mama, then the classic rock feel of teenagers.
DREAMING OUT LOUD: ONE REPUBLIC | 20 November 2007 | Ryan Tedder
fave song: “prodigal” – this song is like one huge crescendo, and the detail and care in the small moments make it quite emotional. i’m all about emotion in music, that’s pretty much what it’s all about. this album, along with wickham’s, considerably influenced the making of my debut album. subtle, almost feeling guitar tones permeate, rhythm drives the action, vocal melodies are spot on.
DOSAGE: COLLECTIVE SOUL | 9 February 1999 | Ross Childress
fave song: “compliment” – it’s really nice to see a band put out an album this good that far along in their career. normally song quality suffers with age. i love listening to “heavy” with headphones, the guitars are so big and so wide, sometimes i need a cigarette once the song is over. this was good enough to overlook a few months discrepancy in the deadline.
O: DAMIEN RICE | 10 June 2003 | Damien Rice
fave song: “cheers darlin'” – rumor has it damien downs about four glasses of wine just before he performs cheers, and no doubt had a similar tactic for recording. this is the “small” record i mentioned in my introduction, but the intimacy serves it well for the the importance of each song’s lyrics. one of the things i love about damien is that his vocal technique is seldom technically perfect, but it’s always perfectly appropriate for the song. adam duritz (counting crows) has a similar approach in that he doesn’t always hit all the right notes, but it always sounds amazing in spite of that, or maybe because of the way he can pull it off.
AMERICAN IDIOT: GREEN DAY | 21 September 2004 | Green Day
fave song: “boulevard of broken dreams” – of course this is THE song on the album, perfect emotional content and execution. honorable mention: “give me novacaine”. i can’t say anything about this album that hasn’t already been trumpeted by some other critic already, but it’s a spectacular rock opera concept album in the style of the who. it’s just a journey, go ahead and pop it on your ipod again and put it on when you have some time to get through the whole thing. i think you’ll still find it amazing. oh by the way, this album sounds freaking amazing too, a sonic masterpiece.
THRIVING IVORY: THRIVING IVORY | 24 June 2008 | Chris Manning, Howard Benson
fave song: “angels on the moon” – most people get hung up on the vocal style, but thriving ivory has everything i want. when i heard angels come on at a party i knew immediately that i would like their entire album and probably buy anything else they ever made.
Friday, March 4th, 2011
They say in love, you should spend less time looking for the right person, and more time becoming the right person. Sometimes, it seems, those who search the hardest for their soul mate end up neglecting their own “soul-improvement”. For those people, the hardest thing is to realize that it’s not bad luck or a lack of options keeping them from achieving their goal (a good relationship with a special person), but their own inadequacy. These same principles translate well into the life of an artist.
The number of parallels between music and love is staggering, whether it be a band “breaking up” or a label “courting” an act, the list goes on from there. This principle of self-improvement in order to achieve a successful partnership in music is valid; labels know how to identify not only work ethic, but also an active following. So an independent act should look to improve and promote themselves more than they should bust their asses trying to find someone who can make them who they want to be. “If you want to be different, then be different!” (Quoting myself there, but I’m sure it’s a paraphrase of someone who said it better).
They also say that the moment you find yourself content to be alone outside of a relationship, the perfect catch falls right in your lap. That irony is not lost on music. Check out this comment by Ilana Lee on 15 September 2009 at 11:54am in reply to Hypebot’s “I’m Sorry, but it Was Never Just About the Music”:
“It’s ironic that artists that are willing to embrace the platform the internet has given them and create a fan base on the strength of their own hard work and dedication (not just musical talent) probably don’t even need that Big Official Record Deal any more. But those that are clueless or unwilling, who truly need the mass distribution and marketing dollars, are seen as non-starters by the labels.
Makes for an interesting landscape going forward…”
That is an irony that i’ve struggled with, especially as a singer/songwriter who has to foot the bill for every musician i work with, most of whom command (and deservedly so) a handsome price. Labels who would provide financial support for my live show don’t want someone who isn’t established, but to get established, I have to play live shows. There are ways around that, which is why i haven’t given up yet. Those include licensing, radio, and grassroots, word-of-mouth support, and even finding talented friends who don’t mind playing shows for little or no money. The point of this isn’t to identify those ways, but to develop my realization of what it means to market myself as a valuable commodity
Let’s look at how this relates to how you present yourself, considering this column focuses on style and presentation.
Tip #1: Be Accessible
The days of the rock star attitude are over. The new rock star is friendly, punctual, more like a great coworker and less like a deity. Ideally, there will come a point when you can’t maintain complete contact with your fans, but resist that point at all costs. Sleep less if necessary. Until then, answer every serious message, reach out to people who “friend”, “like”, “follow” you, do whatever you can to be accessible — oh and be nice.
Tip #2: Work Hard
Most people focus on the image or what life will be like once they achieve critical mass as an artist. I wrote an entire song about the fact that major changes in life don’t come as the result of one huge turning point or decision, but a long series of small decisions. That applies to a career in music as well. For those of you wondering, the song is New Hope.
Tip #3: Go the extra mile
Take this application section, for example. I really only had two tips for you, but since things always come in three’s, I had to have a third tip. Another example: I take requests on my YouTube channel, and sometimes those requests aren’t popular songs that will get me 5,000 views, but I do them anyway because it will make maybe one or two people’s day a little better. Isn’t that what music is all about?
What are you doing to present yourself in an attractive way to your fans, colleagues, and the music business in general? Leave comments below with your thoughts, I will respond to all.
Sunday, February 20th, 2011
For the last few months I’ve been working on setting up a little pre-spring tour and today I’m off! I’ll be booking it to Nashville to hit up bluebird cafe tomorrow night, and spend about a week in nashvegas and surrounding. Then it’s off to visit the Alma mater in Arkansas, and roll back through Dallas and Waco on the way back. I’m already doing a couple of house parties along the way, so if you want me to come play in your living room hit up firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make it happen. I’m excited because this is half tour, half road trip, and all adventure. If all else fails, I’m hooking up my PA and playing on street corners! If I haven’t talked to you already about coming to see you, email or give me a call.
I’ll be posting video updates whenever I can, so be on the lookout for those. Saddle up!
P.S. For those of you still scratching your heads, Anjie is the name of my lovely automobile
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
as i’m thinking about beginning of 2011, i hear people talking about the excitement of the new year. some people have had a rough year and are excited to put 2010 in the rearview, others have exciting things happening in this new year. but i think the one universal concept we all share, is the necessity of periodic change and refreshment. from the basic unit of the day changing to night, to the phases of the moon, to the path of the earth around the sun, change is built right into creation.
in 2010, i’ve undergone a lot of change in my life, probably more significant than any other year in recent memory. from the end of a relationship to the fabled “quitting my day job”, there’s been a lot going on.
“people get up every day, tell themselves they’re going to change their lives — they never do. i’m gonna change mine.” —the town
many people live their whole lives with the intention of something greater, but most of the time reach an equilibrium that’s somewhere in between giving up and achieving their goal. it’s a fascinating idea for me, how few people ever truly give up on their dreams, in spite of little or maybe even no progress toward them.
for some reason i don’t like the word “resolutions” when talking about goals for 2011, but here are my goals for this year:
1) play at least six full-band shows in texas and at least 70 acoustic shows around the country
2) finish recording the remainder of my new EP
3) gain ten pounds of muscle
4) read the rest of the harry potter books in time for 7.2
i think there are more but that’s all i can think of at the moment.
as an aside, i’d like to recommend an awesome web-based to-do list app i use, called TeuxDeux. it’s free on the web, and i downloaded a cheap app to my iphone which syncs with my online version, so i’ve always got it with me. it really helps me now that i’m self-employed and infamously forgetful. check it out if you need something like that.
what are your goals for 2011? let me know in the comments below, i’d love to hear them.
Sunday, November 7th, 2010
for the last few months i’ve been working with long-time friend and fellow webguy/musician vin thomas on ideas for my brand new site, and we’ve finally launched! aside from being sleeker and generally more bad-ass, it will also be much easier for me to keep up to date, which means those of you who like using it will find it more informative.
1) check out the shows page, which will have all my live appearances, 2) the cool music player in the top right, 3) dynamic flickr integration on the photos page and video integration on the videos page!
more good content to come, stay tuned