Updated: Oct 7, 2020
It's been almost a year since this whole thing started and now 2018 is here. 2017 was awesome! I survived Digital Systems Engineering. I learned how to stay in the zone, or as some would say, mastering the flow. My airsoft team did D-Day in July and my imagination was wildly fueled for at least the next month. I got to see the total solar eclipse in August, an event which as the U of I president said marked an "auspicious sign to begin the academic year." The total solar eclipse is the coolest thing I have ever seen with my own two eyes on the planet Earth. Little did I know how accurate Chuck Staben's statement would really be... Later that semester it became evident that this would turn out to be the most successful semester of my college career. I decided to keep a few of my "preview then throw away" classes and scored a chance to work on sound in the Polymorphic Games Studio on campus for more credit. On top of all that, senior design was finishing up. I decided to just ride it all out. I kept everything. I must be crazy because this left me with a total of 18 credits! Why'd I do it? I don't know, don't ask me. Apparently I made some really good decisions this year though because my term GPA was finally better than it had been since my one win sophomore year.
Oh yeah, and did I mention I got a job offer?! I'll be moving to the LA area in May to take a starting engineering position with NAVAIR. This is a big deal. Not only does it encompass virtually all of my interests, there's the one percent that I've got my foot in the door, in terms of proximity, to the production music capital of the world, after my four more years of intense training of course...
There are few obstacles CDM can't handle. I'm hoping that 2017 sets the pace for more or less the rest of my life. I've mastered the way of work-art balance. The new tracks will keep comin'. Don't worry. Speaking of which, 2018 looks as bright as a supernova. What's coming? Well, I've been quiet lately. There's two reasons...
Legends From the Hills
I've been working on my second album, Legends From the Hills. I can't wait to announce the release of this one. There are a couple teasers worth spilling about Legends right now.
First off, length. A few comments that Superpowers got back were along the lines of, "the tracks were so good, so why were they so short?" One answer could be my indisputable inspiration from trailer music which is short lived in nature, but I've thought a lot about that lately - it doesn't have to be. For example, many artists in the epic genre today have started to treat it like they would any other genre. The artist expresses his or herself in terms of making sense out of the current events taking place in his or her life. Lyrical orchestral music that takes the verse-chorus-bridge format of modern music is what this looks like. I see more epic and trailer music with lyrics than I used to and they are starting to be in English more often as opposed to Latin or eastern phrases. This is a sign of English speaking culture assimilating dated and orchestral styles of music. In other words, a good sign. Perhaps this is exactly the type of trend that will bring epic to the masses like Marcus Warner envisions. Personally, I'm waiting to see if I am right like I was about EDM. Give me 5 or 10 years, then I can say I told you so.
At the risk of sounding more robotic, I decided to let Legends take on more structure, allowing room for longer and more epic tracks. Keep an eye out for a track on the album called "Treasure and Triumph." This one is really going to have that lyrical tie between epic and what's inspired by modern life that I was talking about. This track has taken the longest. It's massive. It's nearly 7 minutes long. It features many ideas including both Latin and English lyrics intermixed. It will definitely be the feature track of the album.
Now length is one thing, but there is something else too. Superpowers was good but I feel like listeners in general are more interested in the fast paced tracks, the ones that get your blood pumping. Each track on Legends From the Hills is telling a different story, as did Superpowers, but this time there will be less dependency between the tracks. Each one could hold its own. Expect to see more great epic battle tracks as well as the beautiful and ethereal ones you already love.
To sum it up, Legends is going to deliver even more than Superpowers did. It will be longer and even more epic with one killer track after another. Every last one of these tracks is on a new level and that's what's going to make it so great.
It's been taking a long time and a lot of hard work. It's funny, I bet I sound like I'm complaining when I say doing what I love most is actually pretty hard. Ideally, it's not taking any longer than Superpowers did though. If the recording, mixing, and mastering process takes me about a semester and one vacation, that's about right. Soon that won't be my unit of progress measurement though, which is crazy to think about.
Digital Distribution of Superpowers
Believe it or not, there is more work to be done on Superpowers, and this was the only not-so-great part of 2017. Creating the appropriate cover art has taken waaaay longer than it was ever meant to. Granted, my ambitions are very high. I could get into the stores the way it is but I suppose you could I say I'm a bit obsessed with keeping everything as straight forward as possible. The fact is, Superpowers has no official cover yet. I envisioned something even better, and not a photo. It needs to be as mind blowing as the music was. Trust me, when it's done and you see it, you won't think I'm crazy anymore.
The current cover is a placeholder designed for promo and it always has been. I've been searching for artists to recruit nonstop since the summer but nothing has come through so my dad and I have been slowly battling the idea on hard mode. It's been pretty good, but it makes me nervous every day. Is it ever going be what I envisioned? Well we'll get there and 2018 has to see it through. So look for the Superpowers re-release in the stores this summer or soon after. After this we'll roll out physical copies, probably the most exciting thing ahead for 2018. As it turns out, most of my friends still say they think nothing beats physical copies of their music. There's something nostalgic about it I guess. Physical copies and a breathtaking cover for Legends is also in the pipeline. And there will be one more...
Coming in 2018, an Epic Music Album Unlike Anything You've Heard Before - 2110 Reborn
I saved the best for last. The idea of starting production for 2110 Reborn gets me amped in a way the other albums don't, but I gotta finish what I started. What's so great about it?
Well In my last post I gave some hints about this album but didn't have as clear an idea of what it would be at the time. Since then however, I finished a new track called "Mean in the Machine." This track is wildly unique and its inception made it clear exactly what was going to give the 2110 universe a fresh new start, a comeback that is.
One day last summer, I believe it was the day after the airsoft D-Day weekend, I was working outside and deeply thinking about how the 2110 universe could experience some kind of rebirth without beating it to death further. I'd suspected over the past several years that 2110 was simply never destined to be a movie but rather a visual novel or comic book with sound effects or something like that. The story was just never given justice and told properly. Jonathan Johnson is a brilliant story creator and he and I babied the plot's logic for years until it was finally bullet proof. The result was something so systematic, sophisticated, and awesome with structure and rules and problems, yet completely in our heads. That blew my mind. So clearly 2110 was never delivered properly and making a whole movie is certainly a headache I'm not putting myself through again. So what could be done?
It finally dawned on me that the essence of the 2110 universe was built on narrations. Sgt. Blueround telling the story of the war against the DOX Drones is where it all began, with his loyal battle buddy Sgt. Greenscope and their gaurdian angel Dr. D who travels the stars delaying the inevitable in a race against time dramatically connected to a terrifying situation which is galactic in scale, with Blueround and Greenscope magically caught in the epicenter. I would usually dictate these tales at the end of the day or the day after any wargame event be it Nerf, airsoft, laser tag etc. Jonathan would also deliver legendary impromptu monologues that became the heart of insane new ideas and they were often better than mine ever were anyway.
Having just returned from the airsoft trip, I was really in the zone for this kind of thing. So I returned to the core. I began writing prose in my head, and the rest came naturally. I was thinking about how the 2110 universe was always an allegory to digital distraction and the dark side of human-computer interaction, among many other things of course. That's when I wrote the intro lines and the last few words you hear Blueround say are the ones that popped into my head first. Everything built up to them.
You'll have to wait 'til the track comes out to know what they are...
And so there I was later that week mixing ambience and sound effects behind the words. It was like I was creating all the sounds to a movie scene. What am I doing? I didn't know, but I liked what I was hearing so I kept going with it. The prose concludes and a monstrous synth bassline fills the void with epic strings and haunting effects.
So there you have it; I've disclosed that 2110 Reborn will have sound effects and prose or dialogue. I've done this before and thought it was really cool because a lot of my favorite tracks of all time approach sound for what it is and will do this or something similar. I call it an "audio sketch" and it can be a cool technique to elicit more vivid images for the listener or create an atmosphere. In epic music it can sometimes sound odd so I wonder if some people will find it off-putting, but I think you'll just have to wait and hear it before you decide what you think.
My goal is try something new and "Mean in the Machine" was a smashing success in my mind. So whether or not it turns out to be a love it or hate it kind of a thing, I'm real confident that 2110 Reborn has something completely new to offer to the epic music community. Fasten your seatbelts. I'll be releasing "Mean in the Machine" as a video later this year before 2110 Reborn to build hype for the album.
Stay tuned and keep dreamin'.