In 2017 I submitted songs to the Fraser Valley Music Awards, and was nominated in 3 categories: Electronic, Loud, and Queer. I don’t know how I ended up in those categories, but at least they make a fun phrase.
At the ceremony, I didn’t win any categories. Later I found I nonetheless was awarded a day in an art school’s recording studio.
I’d only recorded in a studio once. Across the 1991-1992 holidays, I “dated” a guy whose step-father was involved with a recording studio and offered me some time. The relationship culminated in the guy strangling me, then spending 2 weeks in a psychiatric hospital… while I spent those weeks intentionally “experimenting” with being high 24-7 (I was reading the Fassbinder biography, Love is Colder than Death).
I’d gotten involved with a collective of Los Angeles artists attempting to respond to the recent Riots/Uprising. Instead of using all the studio time myself, I offered it to the collective. The list of artists was a who’s who of the performance art scene (including Exene Cervanka, Robert Bedoya, Keith Antar Mason, Linda J. Albertano… and a band called Seven 1… me and two art friends: MiKelly and Ken Villa). The CD was in a special issue of High Performance Magazine, called The Verdict and the Violence.
Back to 2017… In my current artistic epoch (that I start in 2010), sometimes songs plop out into a pleasing recording in a couple hours, but usually I spend days, weeks or even months tweaking songs until I “don’t cringe” at anything anymore. Going into a studio for a day seemed counterintuitive.
Re-recording old songs, rather than creating new ones, seemed like a potentially palatable option. And I had a number of songs from my oeuvre of which I’d never made a satisfying recording.
I picked some songs out, learned to play them again, and started making what I thought might be “sound beds” to bring to the studio. But this turned into my usual recording process… with 100’s of hours of tweaking.
The emails to set a date with the art school kept coming. Eventually I stopped responding to them… uncharacteristic of me, but allowing this lapse in responsibility felt liberating… like being a teenager (when these songs were written, between 16 and 20) and, without letting anyone know, just not showing up again for a job.