Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Get off the Internet (I'll Meet You in the Street)

I'd like to add an ammendment to this entry: I am, in no way adverse to the idea that blogs/downloading help spread music in a grass-roots style. Obviously, without this kind of exposure our band would be pretty much nowhere. I support many of the blogs and bloggers existing in the world today. My main problem comes from the kind of disposable attitude encouraged in such a culture, which is discussed below.

Le Tigre - Get Off The Internet (Remy Mac Totally Botched Mix)
MIA - Sister (Remy Mac Mix)

Before the entry, here are two remixes I made when I first got Ableton Live, three or four years ago. Coincidentally, they're pretty much the only remixes I ever made. The sound quality is completely horrendous and the beginning of the Le tigre one is totally fucked. But hey, they're kind of fun.

And now, the entry:

I have really mixed feelings about the internet. The last few days, I've received a lot of phone calls from people telling me that I should either check out the internet or avoid checking out the internet, and of course in an act of inevitable vanity I have read pretty much everything Voxtrot-related that I can find online. It's pretty bizarre being a band that exists almost entirely outside of print media, but instead resides in the ether of ones and zeros, that omnipotent force whose presence we trust in the absence of any real physical guarantee. Regarding the concept of internet bands, I recently did an interview with Pitchfork Media, a segment of which reads as follows (PS. I understand that quoting myself is a bit over the top, but the sake of time and efficiency, it's probably best):

"Because Voxtrot, quite early in their careers, found an eager audience among bloggers, the band has often been called a "blog band"-- a tag that doesn't much concern Ramesh, a blogger himself. "It's a label I'm proud of, I guess," the Voxtrot Kid told Pitchfork, "because that's the new, subversive media, right? So it's cool, it's really cool."

"But then it has a people have emotional loyalty to a band when music comes so fast? With blog bands, the shelf life of a song in people's minds is a lot shorter. Sometimes I think maybe that's good, because it puts less emphasis on the record industry half of things, but then maybe it's bad because it's hard to cultivate any kind of scene anywhere or any history, because everything is exposed so immediately."

He continued, "I remember when I was little, going to a record store and buying a record that you'd heard about, and then because you bought it you really labor over it for a long time-- the whole thing of becoming connected with it and sacrificing yourself to it. I don't think people do that anymore."

Let me talk about this in regard to our upcoming record, which is to be released on May 22nd. I guess when you make an album, as opposed to an EP, it's more likely to carry some sort of theme, or topical continuity, and the themes that characterize this record are struggle, conflict, death, loss of identity, and an unstable concept of the future (global warming included). Pretty dramatic, huh? The combination of leaving Glasgow, changing my life significantly to accommodate my career, losing my grandmother, and working under extreme constant pressure sent me into some kind of crazy mode in which I have been unable to relax or take anything lightly. The whole thing has been pretty work intensive, and I often find myself, at the most inopportune times, staring at nothing, wondering, "what happens when you die?" and what sort of artistic imprint will I leave behind?

Recently, during ye old SXSW, I was in the Emos dressing room talking to Zach Condon (Beirut) just after our show, and we were discussing the last time we'd met (just before his reported collapse, if that is indeed the correct vocabulary). I told him that I often get so worked up about everything to do with the band that I have the sensation that the ground is moving underneath me and my feet begin to feel unstable. If I remember correctly, he responded that this was the feeling he had had just before his incident, only in his case these "illusions" of instability came to pass. At this point I became kind of worried, as I realized how far I'd come from my previous light-hearted existence.

When I was writing/recording the Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives EP, for example, my life was really easy. Most of it was written in Glasgow, during which time the majority of my responsibilities included going to Optimo and observing/absorbing culture. Oh, and being a waiter/student. When I listen to that EP, I get this wonderful image of heading to LA for the first time, traversing that remarkable bit of landscape where you can actually see the flat desert end and the mountains begin. I've always thought it was incredible that the change is so sudden and visible. During that tour I would listen to those recordings and feel really happy that I had this little secret, a secret I couldn't wait to share with whomever was willing to listen.

This new album, for all of the reasons listed in previous paragraphs, is very different from our previous output. Depite the fact that I'm quite pleased with the album, musically, it's almost difficult for me to listen to, and I imagine that, as a listener (or, a listener who is not me), it's something you have to kind of live with for a bit before it feels right. The album focuses on conflict and struggle, and on trying to do the right thing in light of the multiple forces that are beating down against you (sounds ridiculous in light of the present state of the world at large, but it's the truth). After a while, I found that the best way for me to find inspiration was to digest all of these negative feelings and reinterpret them in song form. I'm not sure if I can expect listeners to follow me through a journey of struggle, but I think that if anybody's willing, the eventually pay off might be worth it. However, I'm clearly biased.

So, how does this all relate to the internet? The internet is fickle. Everything is disposable. Everything is fleeting. The internet is a very dark place to be. Everybody's a fucking authority and everybody knows better than everybody else. You (I am now going to use "you" in a general sense, though I realize that it does not necessarily apply to the reader) may think that you deserve to be able to download an album at no cost, store it in your iPod, pass your particular judgement, and then immediately dispose of it or hype it at will, but you actually don't deserve that. Sorry if I sound a bit critical, but I guess that, at this point, I'm not talking so much about Voxtrot specifically as I am about the relationship that every band is forced to maintain with the internet. The other day I logged onto (well, the other day probably meaning 6 months ago) and saw a bulletin from a friend of mine that read, "New Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem, I think they're pretty good," followed by a link to a shareware site. I think that's shameful, not just in terms of ridiculously lax filesharing, but also in terms of inviting that kind of internet-informed snap criticism: I've made my judgement, so now you download it for free and make yours. Either way, nobody loses out because no money was exchanged. I'm just as guilty as the next person. "Immediacy" is a word that gets thrown around a lot in music industry and I think that now more than ever that word holds significant weight- I often find that, when presented with so much music I tend to have a very disposable attitude towards anything that doesn't set me on fire in the first five seconds, as it is instantly forgotten. It goes without saying that I take other peoples' art for granted. Big time.

So, why am I writing this? I'm not really sure anymore. It sounds as though I'm selling myself short, but that's not the case- I guess it's just an outlet for me to say that I'm reactionary and it's bizarre to see the thing you're labored over up for instant open-forum debate, but I'm pretty certain that these are universal human experiences, and sometimes it feels good just to say it out-loud. At the end of the day, I am proud of the things that I've created and just have to trust that I'm making something honest and actually representative for the people who believe in me. And I do.

Plus, it is, after all, only music.

Remy Mac

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Judee Sill - The Lamb Ran Away With The Crown MP3

I really love the line in that Kings of Convenience song that reads, "Homesick, because I no longer know where home is."

That's pretty much how I feel. Today in Austin, it's seventy degrees, beautiful, and the magic hour is slowly setting in. Two days back home and my first instinct is to drive down to Airport blvd., pay my sixty dollars and hop on the bus to Mexico. I'm sick of worrying about the album, and of worrying about the fact that worrying about the album causes me to feel selfish and inconsiderate: in a world full of so many atrocities, is the viability of one's art really a valid concern? Is it something worth lamenting over?

Mexico. Why did Judee Sill go to Mexico? Many people think Judee Sill went to Mexico to die, but maybe she just got sick of everything. It seems to me that she saw things very clearly, a fact which resulted in a strange mixture of bitterness and spirituality. I would have liked to have met her, to have known whether or not she was afraid of death, and still I would like to understand the way in which she defined suffering.

Sometimes, everything round about seems pointless and vapid, and I suppose that's when you really turn to vices, the most artificial comforts of all. It's as though you can publicly operate in a world of artifice, eating it up, wearing it as you invented it, but still you must silently concede to the knowledge that under your feet runs a current of truth, fate, eventuality. An acceptance of the fact that nature is so big that it could swallow you whole at any time. Once, I visited a forest in Canada and night began to set in. As the last golden bits faded to black I became aware of how truly terrifying it would be to be lost in the dark wilderness comprised of indeterminate noises, wedged between the two huge mountains looming before me- how lonely it would be to be forced to accept a greater truth without the benifit of any company. In the face of the bigness of life, we are powerless.

So, why did Judee Sill commit suicide? Maybe it was an accident, I suppose there is no way of knowing. Perhaps she just desired escape-not because she wanted to die but because it had become difficult to be alive.