My new album “Chronic Dreams” has just been made available for digital download from Magnatune. The reaction to previews of the album has been mixed. To wit: polite and blunt. But that hasn’t stopped me from being psyched and releasing it anyway.
A Collaborations of Styles
The credits for “Chronic” reveals the deep levels of collaboration that went into making it. Besides using samples from released tracks and a few a cappellas of previously recorded work, I wrangled brand new performances from some great instrumentalists and singer/songwriter types. More than once I would listen to a solo track from one of them and just sit back and think “OK, well, now it’s up to me to screw this up!”
Even if you’re not crazy about “Chronic Dreams” it is self-evident how much talent is in the Magnatune pool. I encourage you to seek out the original recordings of these artists. Hopefully you think more of the music then my attempts at marketing myself as evidenced by my “artist photo.”
Most remix artists who use vocals reach for soul and R&B singers and I don’t blame them. When my insides need massaging you bet I reach for Marvin Gaye or Aretha Franklin before anything else. But I decided to go a different route. I happen to also be a huge pop fan. For every Earth, Wind and Fire, Al Green and Herbie Hancock record I had growing up, there was a John Lennon, Buffalo Springfield and Joni Mitchell. By using DIY indie singer/songwriters and their material I hope to drop their music into a context that brings out the soul in their music in an unexpected and unique way; to highlight another possibility in the material and performance.
Plus it hurts when I sing (the listener mainly) and I don’t mind riding some talent coat-tails.
New Kinds of Partnerships
With the exception of my new online buddy Joe Chellman who saved my butt with some last minute beat slicing heroics, all the artists (Lisa DeBenedictis, c. layne, Norine Braun, Ian Varley of Drop Trio, etc.) and all the samples I used are from the Magnatune label because splitting the proceeds from music sales was the best way I could think of supporting these artists.
[UPDATE:] Joe has a fantanstic break down of the work he did for Chronic on his site.
I would like to think that a work like “Chronic” extends the partnership established between Magnatune and artists beyond a common marketplace into the seedlings of an artistic community. Lisa, c, Norine, Ian, et. al. are not only stellar musicians, but good people. It was a real treat getting to know and collaborate with these folks. By trading files online and applying techniques mentioned on this site (e.g. learning how to burn solo tracks without effects) these musicians are at least more aware of the possibilities. Hopefully, with “Chronic”, the groundwork has been laid down for other artists in this particular sphere to collaborate and pool their talents again.
A Happy Ending
Magnatune might vanish tomorrow. Not for any particular reason but these things happen. Magnatune might vanish and with it the vision of an open label that respects their artists might just go with it. I have no idea how realistic it is to expect the label or the vision to succeed in the long term, leave alone in a big way.
I am often struck by the cogent arguments of intelligent, thoughtful, fact-based realists. I am struck but not convinced because I am, in the end, a dreamer and I’m very, very comfortable with that. How does that work anyway: ideally we’d all be realistic but realistically it doesn’t pay to be idealistic?
What can I say, I am of an age that said it is OK to imagine what might be and then pretend it’s possible. You may say I’m a chronic dreamer.