Saturday, September 23, 2006

Music.

Dont Make Me Over MP3
A Trip To NYC MP3

The above mp3s are from Sleeping States, the London-based recording project of Markland Starkie.

...Still unedited for grammar and spelling.

“Style? A certain lightness. A sense of shame excluding certain actions or reactions. A certain proposition of elegance. The suspicion that, despite everything, a melody can be looked for and sometimes found. Style is tenuous, however. It comes from within. You can’t go out and acquire it. Style and fashion may share a dream, but they are created differently. Style is about an invisible promise. This is why it requires and encourages a talent for endurance and an ease with time. Style is very close to music.”

John Berger


A list of things I am excited about:

1. This coming month we will be playing shows with Yellow Fever and Finally Punk. In this wave of "exciting new Austin bands" this is pretty much the apex, as far as I'm concerned.

2. We should (fingers crossed) be recording an album in London during November and December. I really hope this comes into being. I can't possibly describe how insane this entire process has made me. This is something I have been avoiding writing about, for fear of seeming dramatic in the face of something that, in the grand scheme of things, is really not that important. Still, in all honesty I have never felt such an immense sense of pressure and expectation. Sometimes as a band (in my brief experience) you do things, and perhaps it doesn't end up in exactly the desired way. It's not really an issue of good or bad, but more one of missing the intended mark. Now that I'm writing this I'm realizing that this is totally obvious and universally applicable to all pursuits. There was a time when these incidents would roll off me like water but now I find myself grossly obsessed with my mistakes, or rather my inadequacies.

Let me provide a little vignette of daily Voxtrot happenings. If this idea bores you, you should probably stop reading now. Normally, I try to write during the first part of the day and then at three o clock we convene for practice. These days, we're testing out quite a lot of new material so most days I play a song for the rest of the group, accompanied solely by my guitar, and then we build it from there. If I were to return to grade school now I might be really good at giving presentations, in my opinion that sort of thing is like an obstacle course for the nerves. On one certain occasion I brought in a song that received fairly poor response, and then we proceeded to sit down and discuss why that song was perhaps not as strong as others that had come before (or since). This is perhaps one of my least favorite conversations in the entire world, although I realise that, in terms of publishing and presentation it is sometimes a necessary one. When a musical project is new everything is a pleasant surprise and in that way no song is really considered in terms of its "ground-breaking quality." But obviously when that situation changes the chopping block motif comes into play and it's a very different scenario. More and more I find myself in a scenario where I am situated in a room with a group of people listening to one of our songs boom out of a set of speakers, and as the song plays people issue their various views about the song's strong and weak points. I fucking hate this. On the particular day in question as this was occurring, I pretty much lost it and burst into tears, which I know is completely ridiculous. Before I go any further let me say that I am totally aware that I have been very fortunate and there are so many terrible things happening in the world at any given time, that a mediocre song is not really something worth crying over. But this is exactly the problem-it's entirely self-obsessive, and in a way I think music business kind of encourages that nefarious trait.

When I have moments like that I realize how easy it is to become the person I always detested and criticized. People in bands/music industry/whatever are so laden with ego, probably because it's an occupation and industry based upon indulgence and glamor, and I think if you take a step back and examine it, it's a bit like a circus or something. I can't believe the extremes of hedonism, or the way that eccentricities or personality quarks that would usually just remain as those things are allowed to blossom into full-blown monsters. I imagine it must have something to do with the fact that, when you reach a crazy level of notoriety, you probably have the feeling that people are always looking at you. In theory, you are never unseen or anonymous.

I guess I have a certain sense of guilt about that fact that a career in music is not particularly noble, or brave, or something like that, not that I would trade it for the world, or that I am in any way above it, or any of those things. I feel badly even writing this, but then again I have always been filled with a certain sense of guilt, which in a fucked up way has, I believe, aided any productivity I've experienced. In living memory, I have always been terrified of letting people down.

Music is amazing, though, in terms of its cathartic or healing quality. Obviously different music strokes different emotions, and quite a lot of the music I love, I love because it's a reminder that there is somebody in some other place that feels precisely that way I do. Perfectly mirrored specific emotions, that's what I thrive on. And it's not just lyric-based, though that is usually the case. I think even electronic dance music serves this function. When I was in London a few weeks ago I was talking to my friend (who also works for the label we have signed to) Simon about the emotional quality of techno, and he explained it in the following way:

A dance track might repeat the same thing for six minutes, but when the change happens, when it's elevated to another level, that shift is so completely moving. I entirely agree. I think people don't consider that dance/techno music can be emotional. It's just a different kind of emotion, perhaps a bit darker and more serious. Dancing is cathartic and there are many times where I find myself on a dancefloor, listening to one of these harmonic shifts and thinking, I needed that.

Okay, enough about techno. I guess what I'm saying with this whole thing is that it's very clear that a band is not really that important, but I still take it very seriously. Since the conception of this band I currently play with, I have never viewed it as a temporary fix, but rather as something that would occupy the greater part of my life. Longevity and a healthy relationship between artist and listener. From the moment I wake up until I fall asleep I think about this band. I don't remember who it was, but some prominent musician once said that the best way to handle a career in music is to envision the way you would like it to be towards the end of your life, and just work towards that end. I suppose it's like looking 100 feet ahead when driving a car, as opposed to directly in front. For me, longevity means emotional resonance. For a long time music has been such a pivotal thing in my life, and if I can bring that to another person, or make another person feel better for a while, then I think I shall be quite happy.

34 Comments:

Anonymous Dan Small said...

thanks for the good read Ramesh.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

with the hundred thousand fans you have, i would hope more than one person could read this. strikingly true man. anyone caught up in what theyve come to believe the music industry is about, should read this. anyway i htink ill keep reading previous posts, because i always wonder what you guys are doing at any given moment in the day. ha do you even have jobs?
i hope your tour goes well, and perhaps you can come to philadelphia at some point. enjoy chicago to its fullest, get there early and explore!!

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rest asured you have created many smiles. Thanks for your tunes, good luck as things progress!

8:07 AM  
Blogger IAMSPARTACUS [DF] said...

Hey, London Ontario please??!?!

12:58 PM  
Blogger reznik said...

hey - ive been listening for 12 months and haven't stopped smiling. well at least not when listening to your sublime music. saw you twice on your english tour. made my year. thanks and cant wait for that album

1:33 PM  
Blogger reznik said...

hey - been listening for about a year now and haven't stopped smiling - saw you twice on your brief english tour. made my year.cant wait for the album.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous fake.pallindromes. said...

Come to calgary albert man, we get absolutley nothing here. we just get the day to day bullshit like hedley. lets have some good bands here for once ! please come.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your music is love. thank you.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Fonz!e said...

yeah true words that i can relate to.
hope all goes well in your musical catharsis,thanks for the songs so far.
[insert smiley face]

8:33 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:22 PM  
Anonymous geoff said...

ramesh, don't sweat the small stuff. "trouble" is your best song yet. i mean, you say it yourself in the second verse: "i bought your record out on cherry red/it wasn't good, oh it was great/ i believed it was the next step."

this is the next step.

the chorus is a grower and the bridge ("i never would have done it ...") is the best 45 seconds you've produced (right up there with the open of "start of something" and the chorus of "wrecking force.") great work and good luck recording the full length.

9:27 PM  
Blogger IAMSPARTACUS [DF] said...

Love you.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Janine said...

yeah, it may not seem like being in a band making music is such a big deal until one day at one show or another something makes you see how many people you affected, good or bad. then you'll think "little ol' me made people relate major parts of their lives to a song?". As for me, I've been thinking about your band all day too- because I am reviewing your EP for a magazine in Austin. So....not such a lonely day after all for Voxtrot....

10:38 AM  
Blogger * meish * said...

your songs make me happy and they make me wanna dance :)

6:27 PM  
Anonymous .... said...

you're music is completly unreal. talk about perfectly mirrored emotions. thank you for everything.

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting lost in your songs is one of the only things that make me thoroughly happy.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one thing: what, honestly, is more noble than using the talent you have to inspire others to remove themselves from the current world?
philosophers like pascal and freire encourage people to have faith in a peace that is so different from our reality that we cannot imagine it; they leave the task of illustrating that alternate reality to artists like yourself.

i still extremely appreciate the mirrored emotions :-). don't feel guilty, just keep doing what you're doing.

can't wait to hear you in new york!

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one thing: what, honestly, is more noble than using the talent you have to inspire others to remove themselves from the current world?
philosophers like pascal and freire encourage people to have faith in a peace that is so different from our reality that we cannot imagine it; they leave the task of illustrating that alternate reality to artists like yourself.

i still extremely appreciate the mirrored emotions :-). don't feel guilty, just keep doing what you're doing.

can't wait to hear you in new york!

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is nothing more noble than what you are doing by creating an alternate reality for us.
philosophers like pascal and freire tell us to believe in a peace or good so complete that it is incomprehensible to dwellers of the current reality, yet they leave the illustration of a better world to wonderful artists like yourself. don't feel guilty, keep doing what you're doing.
i still thank you extremely for the mirrored emotions :-), come back to new york!

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I guess I have a certain sense of guilt about that fact that a career in music is not particularly noble, or brave, or something like that, not that I would trade it for the world, or that I am in any way above it, or any of those things."

please don't think like this, because if you did decide to become instead a doctor or a lawyer, or a teacher or some profession distortingly perceived as "more noble" than others, voxtrot wouldn't exist.

and that is a most terrible thing and frankly the world would probably go off orbit if music was never made.

voxtrot has turned countless bad days around, think of all the great artists/bands who has shown the good side of situations to the close-minded.

not to mention the sacrifice of going along with the norm and having a 9-5 job, instead investing all that money and time to drive from city to city.

noble? definitely! brave? absolutely!

<3

3:17 PM  
Blogger Ashi said...

About halfway through this entry I realized that I haven't really been listening to music lately. I mean, I've been listening to music, but nothing's really got me. How you said, something that envokes the feeling of "perfectly mirrored specific emotions." Trying to look back to the last time I felt that, oddly enough, it was when listening to Voxtrot. And I know that that is incredibly cheesy, to realize that and then tell you in a Voxtrot member's blog, but it really is the last time I can remember getting all sorts of butterflies, if you will, and just getting that overwhelming feeling. It's a pretty terrifying realization, not feeling music, but at least now I know what to fall back on when everything else is just flat and stale.

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come back to Athens, GA!

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11:37 AM  
Blogger Jó éjszakát, gyerekek said...

It seems that a lot of bands change after they "make it" because of that pressure... when really, they aren't always growing as a band, just feeding into the stress and expectation you spoke of.

What I love most about Voxtrot is the sense of passion behind the songs: you're not only all talented musicians, able to bring out emotions via lyrics and melodies, but there's a sense that you love doing it. As long as you're invested in the music, I think you'll be alright -- the talent is already there, as are the resources. The new album can't be finished soon enough..

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