Twenty Fifteen (2015) was a year of work, work, fun, and work – a constant barrage of foundation laying & small victories.
Highlights From This Year:
– Taylor begins voicing Fangbone once again, as the series in officially picked up. The pilot (for which Taylor voices the lead character and wrote the theme song), receives numerous industry accolades and nominations, including winning ‘Best One-Off Or Special’ at the International Kidscreen Awards, a Writer’s Guild Of America nomination for ‘Best Writing In An Animated Series’, and a nomination for ‘Best Animated Series’ at the Canadian Screen Awards. Most of the way through Season 1 by then.
– Taylor also voices Luke Stanley for the first half of Season 2 of ‘The Stanley Dynamic’, keeping him dangerously busy with that, amongst his other obligations. Thirteen episodes are filmed from September to December.
– Tired of me writing in third person? Me too, and I won’t do that from now on. Things written back in April on this page, however, may still be in third person. Anyways – I begin writing, producing and performing songs for ‘Super Planet Dolan’, a new Youtube page from popular personality Danger Dolan. My songs, and their accompanying animated videos, garner millions of hits.
– A major preoccupation whilst working on season two, Fangbone, Super Planet Dolan, diet, exercise, music gigs, and a vague shadow of a social life, is constructing Silverthorn Studios. Its a long long process, much of which happens throughout this year and is very time consuming, business-heavy stuff. Put very simply, everything that could go wrong with that dream project, does – but we don’t give up. We work relentlessly on hiring great contractors, getting solid advice, and end up partnering with accomplished producers in making the space happen. By late December as I type this, we are a few months away from launch with the framing, insulation, electrical, remediation work done, have secured a business loan in excess of $30,000, and have extremely expensive studio equipment worth thrice that amount that we have written agreement will be there for use our (some for purchase or loan). Its gonna be an amazing space when all is said and done. I’m sure we’ll elaborate on it in the future.
– Literally, I was so busy that I auditioned numerous times for, and was offered a lead role in another cartoon series, but had to turn it down because there literally weren’t free regular business hours in a week that I could take on the part. First time I’ve ever had that problem!
– Bryn & myself also open up a successful Airbnb! Check out our main room offering here.
– Taylor works like a dog from the end of 2014 to the start of 2015 – prepping, re-prepping, re-writing & discussing for the late February workshop production of ‘The Beaver Den: A New Canadian Musical’. The show is distinctly different from previous productions. The new music is a well-received delight, and sparks interest in the production from larger places in the Canadian Theatre Community. Lots of the transcription, harmony, and other efforts Taylor puts in are completely negated for this production, due to various bits of mismanagement outside of Taylor’s jurisdiction. That extra work is somewhat illustrated in the demos included here.
– Taylor & Signe Miranda debut ‘The Song Creation Formula’, and it becomes an Amazon #1 Bestseller in it’s category. Taylor’s section explores 33+ common chord progressions, and the profound similarities songs that share the same progression tend to have. Filled to the brim with examples & details, its a chapter that is very carefully written, and deeply explores valuable information that songwriting books seldom tread. He’s very proud of it!
– Taylor slaves for a while during his downtime early in the year, and organizes and releases ‘The Abravault’, what you’re looking at now! He vows to periodically update it, ensuring it continues to expand. It proves a valuable way to start to make more sense of his musical trajectory thus far.
– Taylor & Bryn work diligently and quietly on their duo whenever essential in the midst of everything else, playing selective shows, and working on their EP, and practicing in-between everything else. What comes of it…? Only time will tell!
(Click on images in the slider for details and a larger view)
Click On A Title Below To Be Directed To That Section:
Planet Dolan Songs & Rarities, Demos & Etc 2015,
Beaver Den Demos 2015, Videos, Lyrics Poems Etc,
Super Planet Dolan is a strange little thing I look at from a distance. Thousands of comments, millions of hits – its weird that you can make something that connects with so many people, yet feel still disconnected from them, cos its all through a screen. However, there is a big sense of satisfaction in making these tunes happen, and working with the very professional individuals involved. During the somewhat tedious task of acting daily on the sitcom, being my own boss in this respect, and having them be positively received from so many people, is very satisfying. There’s a certain feeling of power that comes with it. I try not to think about it.
By sharing some of my Beaver Den Demos, I land the job as head songwriter for this Youtube page. For reference, I recommend you check out the video playlist lower on the page, as some of the things I write may not make sense.
Find some of the animation notes I send for Super Planet Dolan songs here, to get a sense of the animation notes I give when I submit a song to help initially guide the animator. I don’t get to give notes on specific animation, I don’t even get to see it, they’re just preliminary notes – some that are used in the final product. Again, that’s here.
Reflections below the playlist.
Track Reflections, December 2015:
‘Wheels On The Bus’ and ‘Row Row Row’ were the first ones I made. Unfortunately, they messed up and loaded the wrong Row Row Row audio with the video for that song, an earlier mix before sound effects and harmonies. I was just trying to figure out a system with Dolan at this point that worked – we ended up on a sophisticated Google docs system where I share early versions of the songs so the animators can get started, record and mix them, master them via the service LANDR, and then finally share the final product. The idea was to get a new song out every two weeks – something that didn’t really work for me once Stanley got into full swing. I banked about three of them before it began, and even with all that time to catch up, I still didn’t manage it. It has become more like one a month, depending on how ambitious it is.
I also send out animation notes for each song, which the animator either takes and uses, or not. The animation gets a bit better as the videos progress, generally. I make the animation notes free of charge, really just me trying to protect my song and my job, so that the visuals are comprehending what is really going on in the song. Many of my notes don’t get accounted for, probably due to time restraints, but some do or kind of do. When a month is done, I send my invoice (hourly) and get paid. Easy peasy! We have an official contract and a lot of things in place to protect Dolan’s wallet. Basically, unless these songs are licensed for other purposes in the future, any pay I make off them is simply upfront from him, and never from ad revenue, etc. This is simpler, and totally fair.
I remember working on these earliest ones in a very pleasant, ritualistic routine – I’d brew a bunch of green tea, and every day go for a jog and take a break. There were three or four summer days nonstop making the first couple tunes and writing more to get approved & banked for the future.
On that note, I may as well mention the songwriting process for the page is its own other tricky ball of wax. The earliest ones are little too PG, testing the waters. The idea was to make children’s songs that are twisted and have a dark subtext only adults would get – we had to get a bit less subtle to more readily appease the audience as things went along. ‘Row’ was received better than ‘Wheels’, which was especially a bit too PG. If a video has no jaunty cartoon violence or implied death, its just not up their alley.
‘Beaver Motel’ was the first time I got James Atin-Godden, my old York pal, involved in some of the music. I got him to create a bed track. I’ve conscripted other people since, to varying degrees of success – but James is very reliable and makes very creative choices. I usually don’t have to send him a ton of emails with specific notes of what I need different (unless its Hickory Dickory Dock, which took over a month via email correspondence to get the bed track feeling right, but that was a mercilessly complex example). I edit and pick and choose the heck out of what he gives me after the fact and tighten it up from what you hear, and do a lot of mixing and re-positioning of parts. Naturally, I’m the acoustic, and voices. I’m also one layer of the bass – I doubled it with digitally detuned acoustic guitar to give it a warmer feel. I could have used my own bass, but felt this would give a warmer sound (Especially given that the pro studio isn’t done yet as of writing this). With Beaver Motel, I went quite OCD in remixing and editing, really having fun training my ears to get everything totally locked to the beat and having no extraneous sounds to distract from the lyric. It was a good way to refine these integral production skills, starting with a ful-band song this simple. I had just been learning how tremendously important that was when going to work on some music of mine for my own currently shelved solo EP with a producer – we ended up reworking the drums (fusing them with electric drums) and re-recording the bass isolated. The difference in quality it made to the track as a whole was tremendous. The messiness of music is often all unconscious and has to do with the drums and bass and how well they interlock to the beat – crazy how true this is. Measurements nearly indistinguishable on first listen can make a huge difference if you get good at catching them.
Beaver Motel was inspired by watching a Neil Young music video, ‘Born In Ontario’ (funny enough, he also performs ‘Born In The USA’ occasionally), where there’s a split second shot of a real place called the Beaver Motel in Ontario. Then, it sort of wrote itself. Not used to writing a song with a structure this simple, so that was a nice change of thinking. Mostly a three chord song! Gives a lot of room for other things to play, and to focus on making that beat tight as balls, pardon my french. I also decided to get a fiddler on this from Fiverr, who praised my production on this very kindly, and blended it with some parts of a master done by someone on Fiverr, in addition to the LANDR master. You can’t really tell where its which – it just sounds warmer in some parts with the Fiverr mastering job instead of the LANDR one. But LANDR, for being just computer mastering algorithms, does a surprisingly great job.
‘Not So Itsy’ was the first video to break a million views. Its certainly my favorite animation, along with Teapot, so far. I want to redo my mixing of the bass in the latter half, its too loud. Its tricky, mixing both from headphones, and doing a second mix through laptop speakers before sending these off for mastering. Not the most pristine system, but what we have before the recording studio is finished, and certainly in-keeping with the dirtier DIY spirit of the channel in its earlier stages. This was the first one I finished writing, and the fourth one recorded. My last one so far which has been exclusively me performing it. The bass, as with the other ones that are just me so far, is an acoustic de-tuned down an octave digitally, so the illusion of bass. The vocal layers are all very carefully built up to create a feeling of fatness and care & color, despite this only being voices, guitars and sound effects.
‘Knock Knock Song’ was meant to be a quickie to make it easier to meet the quota while doing Stanley. Took a few rewrites to make something Dolan was happy with – finding the right way to approach the anti-joke idea. Initially, they were normal jokes that ended up leading to a punchline of a PTSD mother coming to bug her son, or something like that; but its certainly a much funnier form like this, where we just let an anti-joke hang in each verse. It was a particular thing Dolan was going for, a very strange ever changing balance, and I gradually began to really get it more and more as the songs came out, especially as of this one.
This is also the introduction of the Evil Orange (played by a narrator on Dolan’s main channel, who goes by ‘Hellbent’ online). I end up using an ‘Evil’ from him in every song so far, and the fans are catching onto his recurring appearances. Its fun that I invented a fun recurring character without really trying! A wonderful accident. He kindly provided a ton of takes of him saying ‘Evil!’ along with his riffing that I included at the end. The cow is by a woman on Fiverr, who I had to direct a couple times to get it right. I also had Dolan and Shima participate – which was generally easy with minimal notes, but it did give me an appreciation for how much I really know about the subtleties of delivering a line effectively, just trying to explain what I needed from them, when sending notes. Ukulele by me. The plan was to have the last part of the animate just play as the credits rolled, and have the ‘you will choke on my seeds’, etc, ending, just be a bonus on the EP release of the song, but the animator went with a different route and just animated the whole thing. The harmonies during the outtro were literally done in my dressing room on the set of Stanley. I have frequently had to work on these songs in my dressing room in order to meet the demand plenty of times – compounded pay, yay!
‘Teapot’ turned out really well. This is me getting James involved in a song that was again, at first, just meant to be me. His backing, however, with my direction, really fulfilled what I would have had to have painstakingly did on my own, with time I didn’t have. Did a lot of editing here as well, especially around his electric guitars, to make them less busy and not interfere with the lead lines. People were so shocked it was me playing both characters – I have my voice coach to thank for the kind of depth and fatness I could get out of my cords. There’s a lot of crazy mind games and warmups and tea required to get quite into that state – a state I have to diligently find for each time I record Fangbone in order to get through the session without destroying my voice. The ending was Dolan’s idea, and I love how it turned out. It still makes me laugh when I see it.
‘Hickory’ was a long arduous process, mainly due to an error on part of the singer where he sang the song in the wrong key – but then, we had to somehow make that key work as the bed track was too far along by the time I got his vocals. He sent me back dozens of vocal takes that I sifted through over the course of months, and it still wasn’t quite enough or right, so I added in myself as a little kid to fatten up the mix enough as a last ditch effort while finally, in late December, dealing with a cold. Seriously, planning stages for this song began back before the first video was even out. I also went back and forth with James on this song a ton to get the right gradual speedup, the right everything. Not lying when I say it took hundreds of emails for this puppy. The band track was also fattened up by a fellow whom I, as payment, reworked his ‘Peace All Around The World’ song to make not trite, contrived, or redundant – especially with the canon of songs about peace out there, its a delicate cheesy subject as is, and if you want people to listen, you’ve got to approach it with something fresh. Demo of that, adjusted from his version, is in the section of demos for this year. The Christmas ending was added in during the end as well – naturally, this song was supposed to come out closer to Halloween, and be out before Teapot, in fact.
Then, we have a song that will be the first one of 2016 when dealt with, ‘The Ice Cream Witch’. These are just various early demos of it.
There’s also early demos of some other songs to come, ‘Ant Who Complains All Day’, which began as an unrelated musical idea back in 2010/2011, and ‘Playing Guitar’, which still has some rewrites to happen to it. I do really cruddy demos just to get Dolan’s consent on the premise or not. No point slaving on production until the song is approved, and if he can’t hear the potential in it in its rawest form, its not worth really making good. ‘Jellybean Shoes’ was very early, and will have to be re-written a bunch I’m sure to elevate it into something more twisted.
I’ve also got other reference files, for your well, reference – songs at various stages. presented for various purposes. Sometimes its just to give enough done to a click in time that I can get the animator at least started before the other instruments come in, and the vocals/guitar are re-done properly. Its a tight ship, and I never want to keep them waiting.…
Demos, Etc 2015
Demos are ways of recording a song without solidifying the final performance, arrangement, and whatever various studio magic can be done to a song so it sounds ‘friendly’ to any sound system. The fundamental purpose of a demo is just to get a song down, so you can hear it objectively and figure out what is working and not working about it. Usually, I have the tendency of making a demo and then neglect the song for a new idea. However, sometimes, old ideas filter back into the new ones.
These are various demos made during this year. Not so much, since so much of the time available for music was devoted towards The Beaver Den, and Taylor & Bryn practicing.
Track Reflections, Last Updated Jan 1st, 2016:
Start us off with ‘You’re My’, two versions – quickly mastered with LANDR online, and un-mastered. I think the mixes are slightly different too, but that becomes harder to tell when its mastered. Promotional version we did with a haphazard setup in the place that will become our pro recording studio. Very different than the re-write we’re gradually conjuring of this song – demos of that also in this playlist.
Next, we have some originals of mine performed by Bryn and I at Coalition Music a couple weeks ago, with some of the free hours we won from Landmark Events. I edited together various takes wherever possible (though there’s one seam in I Don’t Care Anymore still to iron out). Great setup they have there – these are preliminary versions of the finals, just dirty ‘live off the floor’ versions so we can enter some contests, etc. The day we were supposed to go and record, I woke up with a sore throat, but made it work with some relentless self-care that day. You can tell at times I’m sick however too, I think. Pretty happy with them, but not ecstatic – want to re-do these in our studio. The harmonica was bleeding into everything and very hard to mix down, mistake on the engineers part.
Then we have a few more from the same session that are really un-mixed, and not that good, but a reference of the year. A bunch of attempted takes with Bryn of our Hurricane Town song, and the Willy Wonka classic. Its all pretty pitiful really.
Then, we have an interview we did on a podcast called Songtalk in the summer at Ryerson – with three songs blended in. I don’t think we did very well – we’re so scattered with projects all requiring attention throughout much of this year that even finding an hour to practice became a trial. Check out the blog/podcast post in its original context by clicking here.
The Abravault Live! A Live Stream Event (from May 2015), Vol 1, Part 1. All of this was to celebrate the Abravault, and a lot of this unheard music getting a place where it could be heard. A little low key thing. The live stream screwed up and didn’t connect this audio system to it, so there’s much better sound here.
Missing audio for ‘Give Me Back My Heart’, consists of versions of (In order): ‘This Girl I Know’, ‘The Cannibal Man’, ‘Robo-Crazy Horse In The New Canadian Wilderness’, ‘Pavlov’, ‘The Elusive Enjoyment Machine’, ‘Make Up Your Own Rules’, ‘(Don’t Let The) Same Damn Story’, ‘So Life’, ‘Duckman’, ‘Where Do The Loving Fit In?’, ‘Blame It On Yourself’, ‘I Won’t Put Up With It (Speculative)’, ‘I’m Not Afraid Anymore’, ‘Love Ain’t The Same Thing Twice’.
Part 2 Consists Of Versions Of (In order): ‘Glad’, ‘Horse Of Course’, ‘Tale Of Me’, ‘A Song They’d Play On Jack FM’, ‘Little One, Little Bird’, ‘Take The Fame, I’ll Take The Sane’, ‘Rebel In NY’, ‘Patience (Why Does The Winner Always Have To Lose Again?’, ‘The Father Of Imagination’, ‘You Came My Way’, ‘Uphill’, ‘Reverse Reverse Psychology’, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, ‘Nanny Wilford’, ‘Sweet Dreams/Hit The Road Jack/Crabbuckit/Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood/Stool Pidgeon/Other Stuff/No One But You (Only The Good Die Young)/Without You’, ‘You’re A Wizard Too’, ‘Genes On The Other Side Of God’s Clothesline’, ‘Canadian Famous’, ‘Johnny Love’, ‘The Tale Of The Three Headed Swamp Moose’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘Its Only You Now’, ‘Grey Eyes (Home Is All Around You)’, ‘One In A Million’.
‘Bots’ is an example of a self-record voice audition. Due to some legal restraints, I can’t really share them with you, I might get in trouble even for this one. But all you need to know is a lot of sweat goes into making them for the possibility at a part in a cartoon. I’ve landed parts with self-records, and gotten much better as time has gone on at knowing how to give them what they want while still surprising them. At a certain point, it becomes about other complicated factors, some of which are out of my hands, as to why I would get a part or not. I have to do plenty of these over the course of the year, and they generally have to be done at the worst times – while working on Stanley, I can never audition in person, for example, so I always have to do self-records. Lots of prep goes into an audition, and lots of editing an audition too.
I figure I can share the next two self-record songs, as these are songs that, besides the lyrics, I had to basically write for an audition. Talk about demanding for an audition – few voice actors are also musicians. I remember recording these auditions were brutal – there’s scene files I’m not sharing here really, just the songs – and then it was 11 PM before I had to be up for 6 AM to get to set, and I hadn’t really done the songs yet. I farted them out, writing and recording them, and mixing them, and mastering them, in a half hour total and went to sleep. I still had to edit the voice auditions in the uber over to set. That’s how tight all of this was. I needed to rest my voice on the weekend after two weeks of Stanley and Fangbone and gigs, so I put it off till late that weekend, about 7 PM, and my voice still needed more rest but I had no choice. I figured I had these parts in the bag – I’d be curious and surprised if somehow the official versions of these songs are more interesting than my interpretation. Its okay to toot my own horn a bit – it just seems like these songs couldn’t be better for the purpose they have to serve.
The next files are songs I wrote for the possibility of being used in Fangbone (ideally as a closing theme), and sent these demos to the showrunners. We’re like a big family there, and I wanted to just do these, not expecting anything to be used, but just because it wouldn’t take long and could be lucrative. At the very least, the writers would get to enjoy them and it would boost morale a bit while they’re working like dogs on scripts. We’ll see what happens – I know Canadian shows have very fickle budgets even if they want to use things (although Fangbone is attempting to be a trailblazer and raising the bar of what should be expected of a Canadian cartoon show, which is why I love it to bits). I know they love some of these songs, particularly the ‘Grom’ one, who basically, on Fangbone’s home planet of Skullbania, is their God.
I should clarify that the ‘Star Vs.’ one was totally done as a joke, a response to their concern that Fangbone might be too much like another Disney property that began airing in 2015 called ‘Star Vs. The Forces Of Evil’ – another great show. I took the tune of their closing theme song and put Fangbone’s perspective on it, to exemplify how different the main characters really are. In hers, Star Butterfly sings: ‘I think that strangers are just friends I haven’t met’. In this, Fangbone sings ‘I think that strangers are just things I have not slain.’ Very different mindsets! I did recommend they discuss doing a Fangbone/Star crossover episode. It would make a lot of sense, and the aesthetics aren’t too far off of both shows. We’ll see about that too.
‘You’re My’, here’s newer in-progress versions. It has a few demos from during this time, Bryn and I desperately finding an hour or two during the week to try out some things on it and flesh it out, after me going through it and slaving on somehow getting a new form we could be happy with as a ‘radio’ single. This was sheer labor – turning a song that already worked into something that was pure pop, but still balanced our sensibilities and really pushed what you would expect in a pop song. I’m excited for what the final product will be – this doesn’t have bass, and other major components yet, but it will come the new year. There’s many bass takes, and many ideas we have however. Bryn has spent plenty of hours brainstorming – and I’ve had to be the bad guy that keeps reeling in some of his ideas when they make the song too busy and steal focus from the lyrics or the beat. We did some acoustic demos with some of our studio time we won last year so that we could still apply to festivals without a final studio version of You’re My. Making it was proving far too ambitious with everything else we had going on before the deadlines of some of these festivals. It was a tricky thing making my totally different verses, which I made up with barely any downtime during Stanley Dynamic filming. The lyrics took a lot to get just right – the whole thing was a real agonizing procedure. In the Nov version, we have the verse come in sooner so it doesn’t feel like a new song is beginning by the time verse comes in, and we have a sweet fade-out, among other changes.
‘Elusive’ you can find the video for elsewhere. It was for entering a contest early in the year that we didn’t make it in. Its still a sweet sample of a song – took a ton of work just to get that minute sounding okay before filming. This song appears in a much more full form on my 2012 ‘Digit’ collection, still a messy demo though. We’ll find a way to really do this song justice I’m sure, in full.
‘Baby’s Request’ was a song we wanted to do even a sample of – if not for this contest, then for other promotional purposes. We have some sepia footage uploaded of this in fact. This is a song by Paul McCartney that Bryn and I started doing at our Uncorked On Main monthly gig that began early 2015. Its a lot of fun doing it – but yes, somehow with barely any practice time, we manage three hours of music without repetition at that venue. I’m very well warmed up here, you can tell. There’s ease and a lot of presence to my singing. Not that well mixed yet – Bryn gets a bit lost.
To elaborate, we have about three and a half/four hours worth of songs we can do without repetition and amongst everything else, we have rehearsed for and played about thirty shows this year, many requiring a variety of specific specialty things. I’m trying to adequately describe how insane my life is and not make it sound like a story or like I’m exaggerating when I talk about a lack of time or the insanity of what I’ve been up to. But please take my word, I’m not exaggerating. Especially since September, it has been near scheduling suicide making everything work. I’m vaguely proud that I’m here in Florida at the end of the year having achieved it – but also so emotionally exhausted, and knowing I need to adjust how I’m doing things.
‘Exploding Kittens’ is a fun Taylor & Bryn tune I wrote minutes before. We had just found out about a big crowdfunding campaign for a card game (‘Exploding Kittens’), where they wanted songs written about the game. It seemed like a fun idea for exposure, since this was one of the biggest crowdfunding successes ever. Bryn had to leave to teach harmonica students shortly, so I sped out the lyrics in five minutes and we rehearsed it once. We then played it once, and whatever we got we got. The arrangement and small things changed about it through the nature of us playing it together. I added on some extra vocals for spice – then, I spent hours and hours editing the accompanying video. It was great experience for me, since we had new editing software. The absurd lyrics are definitely inspired in part by ‘Shitstorm’ by Sean Cullen, whose verses are laundry list of vague or absurd statements set to music: ‘The cats turned gay’, etc.
‘Never Ending Question’, has two versions. This is a re-work of ‘Misdirection’ from 2011. After listening to some of my old demos with Bryn, it really jumped out at us as a song that deserved a second life. I reworked it substantially, as you will hear (especially in the March 30th demo). It was a real conundrum balancing the ‘accessible’ and the ‘unique’ in this song, and making it feel like it didn’t have too many parts, but was still doing something unique and tasteful.
‘Half Of My Head’ was written for a S.A.C challenge, to write a song for a Selena Gomez/Demi Lovato-style pop singer. I listened to some of their videos, then wrote out some titles. The second title seemed like an interesting hook, or premise for a pop song: ‘Half of my head is running away tonight’. Why only half? What is the singer uncertain about? Imagine all the club music production treatments, and I think its a very by-the-books song that a pop starlet like them would definitely sing. Its a strange songwriting exercise – writing so economically. I really have to reel myself back, and constantly rewrite when I’m writing songs with such stringent limitations. We’ll see what happens with it.
‘I Don’t Like Dancing’ was written for a guy I met who was a guest actor on Stanley Dynamic, who sold a song to Drake, and has some ins with music publishing. He’s a pretty big name, but I won’t drop it. It would shatter your pelvis if I did. Not really. I’m dabbling with making some pop songs for him and his manager for them to further produce and sell for a pop star to sing. So, this was written with that in mind – just a crud first demo to see if there’s promise. Once our studio is done, I’ll be able to with greater ease, really create awesome sounding studio demos, then get the songs really fleshed out for presentation to music publishers. There’s a lot of pop promise in this – the chorus idea comes from a couple years ago, and the rest of it was my recent attempt at finishing up the song in a very pop way. The bridge needs work still.
‘Peace All Around The World’ was done because Omar Adim (who I wrote another pop song that should be finished up in 2016) put me in touch with a guy in NYC who wanted to asap finish a song. It struck a chord with me because just the day before, ISIS had attached Paris. I reworked his version a lot, both musically and lyrically, to try and say something deeper about peace – about the absolute necessity for it, and the inner struggle it is as well as an outer one. Without bringing something new to the table when talking about peace, people tune out, I think, and that would be a waste. I let him do some work to ‘Hickory Dickory’, which was basically his way of compensating me for my work in making this for him. He helped fatten up Hickory Dickory a ton, its band track I mean.
‘You Came My Way’ is a 2010 song from ‘Here’s Some Songs’ written about a big crush of mine. And, a big crush of mine wanted to learn the song to perform it in the future (!), so I did a tired sounding lyrically re-worked version of it. Its a better song now, saying more while still maintaining its pure simplicity. I’ve backed up this big crush on guitar at a couple gigs this year… I think it will probably remain a friendship, which is quite fine. It was nice to have something to hope for while I was going through some very overworked times.
I’ve also included two dictations here ‘Ice Cubes In My Tea’ and ‘Dark Dark Heart Of Love’, mainly because they are pretty much complete (Ice Cubes much more so than Dark Dark) in their shape and melody. They are also in the dictations section. The performances are not there at all as they’re just for dictation purposes for me to hear back and reflect on, and so they don’t get forgotten. Ice Cubes was co-written with the crush, mostly my doing, though she conceived of the main line lyric and some other simple lines that really gave it good direction. I was trying to write a song for her to sing. Twas a wonderful morning writing it at her spot. Nothing happened, get your mind out of the gutter! And take my mind with you, cos it keeps wanting to go there too.
‘Dark Dark Heart’ is a very blunt, vivid, honest description of a lot of recent life occurances in some very compact verses. Time going by fast – Grandparents struggling with dementia, worrying about how precious life is and wondering always how I could use it better. I’m not sure I really like this song and could imagine myself making more of it, but I like the simplicity of the lyrics and that I’m doing a good job of saying a lot with a little. Not fully a cohesive song yet from a songwriting perspective – just doing it breathy whispery with an old electric, so its very quiet and crummy, tired, just intended as a way to remember it.
‘Room For Rent’ is done here as just a little example for a guy. I forget what for. We weren’t that obsessed with performance quality on this and ‘Kill’, or mic placement. Both these are originals we often do live, ‘Room’ more of a Bryn song, and ‘Kill’ more of my song. ‘Room’ was written about him having to leave his place at Ossington and move to where our studio is being built and ‘Kill’ is a catchy song about the horrible mind-controlled reality we exist in, very much as a result of catchy melodies and hooks stealing our brains from our higher callings. Bleak, but funny one. Might change it entirely.
‘Medley’ is just a reference for us for a talent contest we entered – an audio reference so we could memorize what we were doing. Its more something Bryn needed, as he has a memory that sticks far less than mine does when it comes to musical things. We decided to make a medley happen of three of our originals for this contest when we performed live at it. The judges deliberately gave us second place at that contest, knowing the first prize (studio time) wasn’t that important to us, and instead we got some free videos that we’ll have produced for us in the new year.
Beaver Den Demos – 2015
The Beaver Den is a musical I began creating years ago with Jennifer & Jaclyn Enchin. Its a show that is slowly gaining a cult following due to its ribald humor, its heart, and its unapologetic-ally Canadian charm. An early version made the Top 10 at ‘Best Of Fringe 2012’. As of March 2015 when I type this, Five different productions have been produced, including one that a bunch of enthusiastic small-town high school students created themselves. We’ve received lots of four star (out of five) reviews from various entertainment publications, even just from these early versions.
If you’ve seen the show, you already have a sense of the story of the show. Its really not my jurisdiction to directly share the story, but I will give you a general premise at this time. First off, here’s a general promotional summary:
‘Set in 1999, at the wake of the children’s entertainment revolution, a cast of young Canadian actors are “stuck” on an outdated kid’s show filmed in Northern Ontario. Will they save the show from complete corporate takeover? It’s a musical…so probably. Get ready for a hilarious, outrageous, and perfectly polite time at The Beaver Den’
Now, a summary from the journey of a main character: ‘Tom, a budding actor from Toronto, finds himself at The Beaver Den – a long running children’s program that is struggling to keep alive. But after he begins enjoying his time there and truly becoming a ‘Beaver Bud’, he’ll have to discover what matters more – following the path of his hero, Keanu Reeves, or being there for those who need you.’ There’s a variety of interesting characters, all with their own journeys. I’ll dig a little more into things in the song summaries.
On this production:
The February 2015 production marked the first time we had substantially altered the show before presenting it again. We were really out to make the best show we could of it. Lots of meetings were had, discussing the nitty-gritty of the script and songs, and making merciless cuts. Once it was put on – Jennifer & Jaclyn quickly discovered a lot of things they thought would work script-wise, that weren’t really. But that’s what a staged workshop production is for – to test everything out, and learn. Regardless of what wasn’t working in our eyes, the show was working way better than it was in years prior, and it was a delight to see the show on its feet again. We had some rave reviews from audience members, and there was wild laughter from the crowds every performance. Everyone put in a lot of love and energy into it, and its amazing to see songs I worked on so carefully, presented by people who worked very hard in the pursuit of getting the music right.
The songs were very well received, and unanimously considered the best part of the show in reviews, and by the crowd (along with the general premise). This show still hasn’t had its final version yet – musicals take a long time and lots of trial and error to really get right. These demos represent a degree of working intensely in a brief period that I hadn’t put myself through since ‘Here’s Some Songs’. The music began getting me attention from some high-ups in the Canadian musical theater world, who were very impressed. We’ll just have to see where that leads!
The demos below were made by me, in various circumstances. Sometimes I was in a garage in Florida with my family – half-vacationing, half working. Other times, I was in Toronto with a home setup. Some demos are done with real care in the performance – others not so much, depending on how long I had been writing that day, or correcting sheet music charts. Performance quality, even pitch, didn’t matter as much as getting a sense of the songs. All that mattered was that the sheet music was correct, even if sometimes the files sometimes had iffy harmonic moments.
Regardless, I’m very proud of most of these demos. This process was a chance for me to relentlessly practice creating lean, powerful pieces of music. No fat! I was constantly comparing what I was writing against the best musical composers, in the pursuit of rivaling it. With full orchestration, many of these songs would kill – And full orchestrations they shall get!
This playlist is organized in the order of each songs appearance in the ideal shape of the show at this stage, like a demo ‘cast album’. Then, alternate versions of each song, and songs that didn’t make it, are generally presented at the end of the playlist.
Here’s a sense of the process of getting each song ready for this particular workshop production:
– Write it, or re-write it if a previous version existed. Think really really hard, work really really hard trying a ton of different directions, sometimes spend a whole day getting nowhere.
– Record a demo with guitar and voices. The demos aren’t intended to sound truly full or amazing, or even well mixed – but to illustrate the skeleton of the song before its truly fleshed out. Usually, you need to listen to demos with an imagination to really get the full sense of what things they are pointing to. I used harmonies extensively in these demos because I was trying to compensate for the absence of a full band, knowing this particular early 2015 production would just have a guitar and piano for accompaniment. Lots of these extensive harmonies are helpful for the fully-orchestrated versions of songs to eventually come.
– Send the demo off, and get notes from my co-creators. If we all agree a song needs to be thoroughly adjusted, I’ll do a lot of that re-adjusting work, then send it off again.
– Once a song is approved, it is sent to a transcriber so they can transcribe the song into sheet music with Sibelius software.
– These Sibelius files are sent to me, and I carefully correct them to do my best to ensure everything is correct.
– All of this correcting, sending, and discussing is happening whilst writing other songs. Sometimes a song would be recorded and then re-written three full times this run before a final one was settled on.
– Then, there’s the rehearsal process, which is a whole other set of things prep-wise. I worked carefully with the pianist to fill up the sound better, and adjust specifics with him.
You can find some of this year’s Beaver Den lyrics, lyric fragments, chords charts, etc by clicking here.
And, you can also find some examples of full sheet music from this production by clicking here.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
‘The Beaver Bud Song’ is a direct homage to ‘How Camp Was Named’ from a highlights album of songs from ‘Camp Cariboo’. I actually found the creators of that lovely, charming children’s show online, and asked them how I could go about getting permission to use some of their songs directly for the show. They were reticent because of the mature content the show also includes, and so I just wrote this and ‘One In A Million’ instead. Melodically, this simple little one skirts the line of plagiarism with some deliberate variations to avoid it, but the lyrics are totally different. We open up the musical with this to emphasize what we felt was the heart of it – belonging, friendship, and that innocent sort of fun that is struggling to survive in an ever-changing world.
‘Good Mornin Canada’ includes the tail end of the Beaver Bud Song, as they go right into each other in this version of the show. I love especially how the last minute sounds. This is very different than previous versions, as you can tell if you listen to demos from previous years. First of all, the song is suddenly ‘Good Mornin’ Canada’, rather than just ‘Good Mornin’, so its specific to this show. Also, the shape is very different – and introduces us to Jeremy near the end rather than near the start of the song. This is a way more exciting, appropriate shape for the song – plus, I lobbed off about two minutes off the length of the song, without losing any of the necessary exposition, and making the song more entertaining. Unforutnately, my co-writers insisted on sticking more of their dialogue amongst this song during the spoken bits, so the pacing was more awkward live of the song live, and it gains a minute in length. They unfortunately did the same thing in other songs as well. This song was re-written near the end – as one needs a clear picture of the motifs throughout the show, and a clearer sense of the spirit of the whole show before they can write the opening. I still think I could rework this song substantially.
‘Tap That Tree’ has a very different opening than it did in previous renditions. I did this because I wanted the opening to be more flowing, and use more vivid imagery. I listened carefully to what bridge-style openings to other songs in musicals did, and attempted to emulate some of those charms – particularly songs from ‘Drowsy Chaperone’ and ‘Wicked’. This version of the song was also a unique case where once I started laying in the barbershop harmonies, and loving the fullness of them – I had to do more rewriting to the songs shape to take more advantage of that charm, and stick in more of those big fat harmonies. This song is basically about Derek, the clearly gay character on the show, who hasn’t admitted it to himself yet – so he creates some Freudian slips in the process. He has ‘Beavy’ on his hand, a puppet that expresses a lot of his gay side for him. Of course, this song also has a bit of ‘Turn It Off!’ from ‘The Book Of Mormon’ in it too.
‘Keanu & Me’ is also very different, and tighter here. We had to play this song down a whole step, which meant I needed two different guitars when accompanying the singers for this production. I love how I dramatically cut the opening verses, and keep the exposition very lean. I wanted to make a song that challenged ‘You And Me (But Mostly Me)’ from BOM in sheer quality. They are both the ‘I want’ songs in a musical, where the protagonist is clear about their purpose and singing about it.
‘Playing In The Creek’ was a song that didn’t make the Feb 2015 production, and who knows if it will ever be used. This is just a song they would have played before transitioning into their Funsant-O’s pandering in the next song. This was the last thing I wrote for this run of the musical. I wanted to write something very in the spirit of children’s performers, particularly ‘Sharon Lois & Bram’ to balance out the extent to which we go against that spirit throughout a lot of the rest of the show. ‘And what did you see Simon?’ ‘I saw half a page of a Chirp magazine, and a body!’ ‘Of water?’ ‘No.’
‘Funsant-O’s’ was something that took maybe five minutes to write. Not much of a surprise there. This is them, on their camping trip on the show, pushing product. Audiences always really enjoyed this. I love that the bridge is just a legally required disclaimer about the product.
‘Alone Together’ was the first demo I made for this run, in Dec 2014. This was really hard to write – Patty, in general, was a very hard character to write for, as it took us a while to be clear about what she wanted and what she was about. In earlier runs of the show she was just the girl who falls in love with Tom, but we nixed that element in favor of her being the powerhouse glue that has to keep the show together in the face of increasing odds. She’s the Leslie Knope of The Beaver Den. There were lots of lovely songs written for her, where this song would be, in previous runs. Very lean song, again; it had enough ideas at one point where it could have been three minutes longer. Love the chorus. Very proud of this tune – but it has to be performed in a very deft, careful way, or the tenderness and lyrical clarity get lost.
‘Like A Maple Leaf’, the staple song from the show, is relatively the same here from previous productions, with some added spices for punch, like the ‘Just like!’, etc. Its also a little shorter, and didn’t have all the excessive piano ornamentation it used to have off the start (stuff I never wrote, and other people thought they had the jurisdiction to add in previous charts) that slowed the song down. I also reference the ‘Beaver Bud’ song off the top now, since ‘Whoa Canada’ is no longer in the show.
‘I’m Your Guy’. Now this was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. The lyrics alone took so much careful finessing. This is what happens when you’re supposed to write ‘Ya Got Trouble’ from ‘The Music Man’, but from the point of view of an American telling Canadians how to run their show. There’s a reason shows don’t try often to emulate that song, and definitely not to this extent – its HARRRD! It is the ultimate patter song. I’m happy that even brief instances of this, when fully performed, can feel like they rival the brilliance of that old classic. I’m not sure if this will be performed in the future – the jokes in this song were getting lost at the last run, but that could have been the performer and a lack of diction. ‘And its all cos an Inukshuk, shook you with its voodoo powers and in a couple of hours degraded your proud American fibres into maritimers, dancing, and singing and fiddlin!’ ‘Fiddlin’ becomes my homage to ‘frittering’ in ‘Ya Got Trouble’ 🙂
‘Johnny Love’ is also quite similar, just better in little ways. The subtle, substantial change in this is that this ‘fantasy sequence’ song was truly just about Derek accepting his gay side – and I made it clearer that in the fantasy, Johnny (the American love interest) is gay too. This, with full choreography, is always one of people’s favorite parts of the show, if not their favorite. The boy band stuff makes girls go crazy, and they also love the innocence of Derek discovering his sexuality. I guess this song is also vaguely offensive, since it certainly plays off of stereotypes, but lots of gay audience members appreciate it as well, and relate to the humor.
‘Friendship’ was cut from the last production once rehearsals were down to the wire, although there’s some fun new things in this version of it still. Lyrics are made more descriptive, more about America V. Canada. I could write more about all these songs, believe me, but I have to be smart with my time. ‘Mr Tambourine Mannnnn!’, the big William Shatner reference, would have been awesome live.
‘Amerrica’ took a lot of work to re-work, and was also cut due to irresponsible scheduling meaning they hadn’t had sufficient practice at this song and scene. I love the random aside in the middle of the super seriousness of Tom leaving from Simon & Phoebe: ‘Hey, can we rent Jumanj!?’.
‘Theme From Lovenuts Parts 1 and 2’ were new songs. I hated writing them. I did it to entertain the other co-creators, but I was reticent about this whole scene. I just found them so derivative and uncreative. It was too easy to write, so I thought it was boring. I was kinda wrong. This scene definitely gets a lot of good laughs, and is a better opening than we had before for Act 2. I’m just not sure its ‘the’ opening. They stuck a bunch more dialogue into the opening of this song, which really messed with the flow of it. For the performance, they also cut out most of the real sophisticated wonderful stuff in this demo due to their mismanagement with timing – basically, this song is two minutes shorter in our last version. Its a bummer. I built up a muscle where I got used to slaving long hours on something, just for it to be bastardized by things out of my control. That’s why we’re really looking to bring higher-up professionals on board for later productions, so a lack of managerial qualifications can’t sabotage anything 🙂
‘Keanu In A Stick’ is a song that works well on its own, but not so much in the show. It becomes too much Keanu by this point. The joke of ‘Keanu Reeves is his hero’ is run dry by this point. Likely, this song won’t appear in the future, so enjoy it here! This happens as Tom is out in the woods, and meets the spirits of different Canadian celebrities embodied in items and animals: Jim Carrey in a rock, Mike Myers in a blue jay, Michael J, the Fox – and of course Keanu in a stick Tom is going nuts, obviously. This song references the theme song of ‘The Gummi Bears’, and ‘Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’, and perhaps ‘Tommy’ by The Who. ‘Forget the way you enunciate, or you’ll be sorry you weren’t (American pronunciation for ‘sorry’)’
‘Canada Day’ went through a variety of versions, all somewhat inspired by ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ from Grease. This was also really hard to write. I was so friend by this point – nothing I was making felt good. I still am not sure about this song. It was shortened substantially for the workshop run, because of aforementioned mismanagement. I tried different versions that are included here – one where I try desperately to work in my old idea of ‘A Boy And His Beaver’ into it (which has some cool singing from Flint), another which uses ‘Story Of Johnny’ substantially (done more as a sketch here rather than a demo), and a third, closest to the one in the show, where it sticks more in a normal zone. We would have done something more ambitious than that version – but I’m still not sure what the show calls for, and again, mismanagement.
‘Canadian Famous’ is the new star song in the show. People love it, cos its true. There’s a video of it on this page from the workshop production. The applause is deafening during that particular performance. This is meant to be done with a full ‘Aqua’ sound – it will benefit so much from drums and synth in the future – but its nice to know that its already kicking butt. Some of the lyrics were changed after this demo for the February workshop: ‘Don’t need to Due it South, I’m the Big Wolf On Campus. Let me show you my Gemini, its what I call my cactus’. rather than ‘Abacus’, which is far too weird a rhyme. Even after that, we wanted a less phallic last line to the couple, so it was even supposed to be changed to ‘See me strut tin’ down the sidewalk getting shunned by Alanis’. As in, Morisette.
‘Tale Of The Three Headed Swamp Moose’ is a tune the baby boomers can get into more, since its a pure parody of Gordon Lightfoot. This started as the six and a half minute epic, ‘The Legend Of The Holy Zamboni’, which can be found in the 2013 Den Demos. Love the CSNY-style harmonies in this demo. I think the show might need more stuff that truly encompasses Canada like this – we need a French song, a The Guess Who kinda song, a Great Big Sea-style song, a native throat singing song. There’s so many different layers still to explore in Canadian music culture – things to see how they work in this show. I want the show to feel like, musically, it covers a taste of every Canada genre. The demo is too slow around the end, but c’est la vie.
‘Grumpy Miss Mountie’ was one I was asked not to finish, since they simply knew they hadn’t made enough rehearsal time, and were already struggling to practice and refine the load of songs they already had. So, this song was never performed. It would have finally filled that spot every workshop production where we have a little placeholder song that goes: ‘Sometimes, when you put on a workshop production, you don’t necessarily perform every song’, followed by Patty speaking like she had just been through a big journey through song and had learned her lesson. I like this song, but not sure about it. There’s also another song in this playlist, me trying ‘Basketball’ from the previous productions, in one more shape, one last time.
‘Keanu Reprise’ was also cut for rehearsal time issues, but its by far the best version of the reprise. It clearly lays out, while referencing the newest version of Keanu, what is going on. In this version, Tom is transported into a weird place like the second Matrix movie, somewhere between time, and he has to choose between the honey dip timmy-bit and the jelly-filled. Its a very Canadian version of the red/blue pill from The Matrix.
‘BBFL’, is a new song in the vein of something from the end of ‘Hairspray’, very high energy finale sort of song. The cast is all together, working to save the show with one last performance. The ‘bracelets in the lobby’ line was changed to ‘You can be my buddy’, or something like that – there was concern it would take people too much out of feeling like they’re watching a show, that it would break the spell. The Wheat Warriors stuff was dramatically altered from this in the actual Feb run, unfortunately – all for the aforementioned reasons of mismanagement, and more unprofessional junk unrelated to me that I won’t get into, since it would simply be gossip.
‘Love Is Wherever You Are’ was reworked substantially here, and a pretty easy rewrite. However, it wasn’t explained to me that this song wouldn’t be in this run of the show – so it got transcribed and everything, for nothing. It makes sense why it wouldn’t be – its from a moment in the show that doesn’t necessarily need a song – but still, we had never explicitly agreed on this song being out of the show, and I spent a bunch of time making this. If you want to make a musical, make sure you’re working with professionals who intend to tell you everything you should be hearing, or at least show any sign of understanding if they mess up.
‘One In A Million’, based off of Camp Cariboo’s ‘Music To My Ears’ – a lovely little tune. This song came out pretty fast, but I was very proud of it regardless. It brings me to the cottage in my mind, and definitely gets me misty. Its all the simple pleasures that Canadians can relate to, and confronting how they’re simultaneously fading away. Its a song that doesn’t give any answers. The song is really meant to be bittersweet, but that sentiment got lost due to some odd directing choices in the last production. It became more optimistic somehow. They’re supposed to be singing ‘we’ll see you all next time…’ then stop, realizing there really won’t be a next time for The Beaver Den, and getting noticeably sad before finishing up the song. Its like an entire wholesome way of life just going out the window for them and all of Canada – and them discovering it in the midst of this wonderful, pure, sentimental song. Its a song that makes me very sad, in all the right ways. Its supposed to be a punch to the gut, not just a tepid little happy song to end on. It ends abruptly in the demo because the song is meant to be interrupted by them realizing the show IS saved, or at least it was at the time of this demo. All I needed to do was paste on a little ending that returns to the I chord, and references ‘Good Morning’ a little bit.
Lyrics, Poems & Etc
A sprinkling of lyrics, poem fragments & other more text-based files from the year can be found here.
You can also find some of this year’s Beaver Den lyrics, lyric fragments, chords charts, full sheet music samples, and more by clicking here.
Dolan Videos, 2015
To check out the videos for the ‘Super Planet Dolan’ songs I made music for, check out the playlist of them here. Playlist also includes the occasional one that wasn’t done by me, just one of those in 2015. Once its 2016 or later, you’ll have to click down the playlist a bit to find the 2015 ones.
For a deeper understanding of the videos, check my animation notes I send/update for the animator as I send out new audio versions. Keep in mind, the animator ultimately always has final say over the visuals, so its not really my say. You can see those animation notes for 2015 here.
All Other Videos, 2015
Enjoy some exclusive Taylor & Bryn video content, promotional clips from the family sitcom I’m on (The Stanley Dynamic), and more!
Video Reflections, last updated Jan 1st, 2016:
I open up with some quick weird Stanley clips – a commercial for a Dutch(?) broadcast of the show? And our sweet opening. I remember encouraging them to have me do a scream for 9 year old Luke regarding the spider, and I’m glad they used it. You can find proper episodes of the series on Canadian Itunes, and depending on when you read this, maybe its already airing beyond the walls of Canada.
‘#saysaysay’ was for a fan contest to celebrate a new remix of the Paul & Michael hit. Bryn and I entered for the chance to basically have some contact with Paul in our lifetimes – an exciting prospect. Unfortunately, as you’ll see in the final video, they barely used us, and don’t use us singing, which really sucks. Took so much extra stupid computer time to make this look half decent, and so many exporting issues with the video – I got it in barely under the wire. They said to make it visually interesting, do something to stand out, so it was my idea to do the chin thing. The raw video we sent includes us jamming on the song a bit as well. So hard to sing that song on the ground.
‘Live at Uncorked’ is just a quick promotional snippet we use on our main Taylor & Bryn website. It shows us in our element at Uncorked On Main, where we play a monthly, three hour gig.
‘Elusive Sample’, here’s the video to the audio. Man, we spent a lot of effort on contests this year and got very little reward for our effort. Didn’t win anything for this one, thought we had a good shot.
‘Exploding Kittens’ is a little impromptu Taylor & Bryn video with a green screen we made from construction board. I spent a while having a tricky time editing this together, but it was also fun, and allowed me to start to get comfortable with the new software we’re planning to use for a lot of our Youtube videos to come.
‘Songtalk’, video segments from the show. Pretty weak performances in my opinion. My levels are too loud generally. We do Cirque pretty well though.
‘Abravault Live Vol 1’, this was my live online concert to promote the Abravault. Sort of a disaster. I’ll try it again under better circumstances in the future. The proper audio is in the audio section – here its an idiot and failed to connect to my sound system though it looked like it had – so the sound is shit, just the mic in the macbook.
‘Live At The Supermarket’ – Here’s an improptu set we did at the supermarket, uploaded here, just for you! This is a great way to get a taste of our duo thus far. The songs included here are: (1) You’re My (2) It Keeps Turnin (3) Hurricane Town (4) Cirque De La Pirate/Clint Eastwood (5) I Don’t Care Anymore (6) Kill The Melody.
As videos and audio continue over the next months/years, I’m sure you’ll hear us just getting tighter and tighter. Definitely getting happier and happier with our sound. The sound on stage was a bit awkward, not that you can really tell – we make more time for sound check from here on out. The fun flub in this set is when the loop pedal beat for ‘Kill The Melody’ malfunctions, but we rap and do other stuff instead. As I write this, I also find myself very happy with the lyrics to ‘Kill The Melody’. Its a dark, strange story told very succinctly, with well placed, and well thought out language. It shares a lot of my concerns about the western world and art in general. It exhibits how catchiness creates a culture of brainwash and control, and lowest common denominator entertainment – the double edged sword of creating catchy music. While, ironically, being a catchy song itself.
Here’s a segment:
‘The beginning of the end of the world we live in
All started with a dude called Beethoven
The code got cracked, he’d made the catchiest track
The code echoed cross the ages now we – can’t go back.
Every generation asks ‘is this gonna be the last?’ Yeah.
Who does love the pain…
When your freedom slowly burns from that perfect earworm
Just try to get it out of your brain….
Can’t you kill the melody
But its all that ever made sense to me.
Kill it, Kill it, Kill it…
You can’t clean this stain, its like a free-mium game
Its like aspartame, like that show you love to hate
We’ve discovered how to hypnotize each other so well
We don’t know what’s heaven, we don’t know what’s hell.’
‘YI’ is from ‘Young Inspirations’, a group that puts together contests for young talent. We won second prize – there was a conflict of interest in that we were working with one of the judge’s on the panel, who was giving us free studio time. As first prize was free studio time, didn’t really make sense for us to have more, and we were rooting for second, which included free promotional videos that would be made for us. As I type this little sentence in 2017, it still hasn’t been taken up by us yet! But will be.
‘Rehearsal segments’ and ‘Workin it out’ were from early in the year at Bryn’s house. Gives some neat insight into the collaborative process of making a song work well.
‘Jack Daniels Submission’ was for a contest where you say why you want money from Jack Daniels to forward your musical ambitions. We worked like dogs to try and make the best video we could – and it amounted to nothing! We didn’t even make the finals! Way more people were entering in the last couple rounds of the contest, so our competition became a lot steeper. Fear not, we’re making the studio regardless. We just thought it would be nice to have part of it paid for, and to meet Sam Roberts. So many hours went into this – compacting the script, going through hours of footage. You have no idea!! All I got from this was more video editing experience with our new, more functional software. I enjoy it at times, because of the rhythms I can explore in editing something – cutting something at just the right moment, etc. Its a very musical process.
‘Producer Interview’ is a really cool look into the show with one of the executive producers. What makes this special to me, is that this was aired as part of The Electric Playground’s various TV shows, and the interview was hosted by Victor Lucas. Growing up, I watched a lot of ‘E.P’ stuff with my brother, so its kind of surreal seeing Victor asking questions about my character. You’ll also get some fun insights into what I had to go through on set for this show, such as wearing a green suit constantly. Honestly – I didn’t mind it! It breathed very well, and was nice and comfy. The hardest episode to film is one where I had to both wear a Sasquatch costume AND a green suit, with a full green face mask as well. Try doing your lines well while you’re in that puppy! Second hardest was wearing the full green suit, while delivering lines, while having to get pelted by dodge balls. But I honestly love the challenges they put me through.
‘The Story Of Stanley’ featurette is fun. I wish I could re-do all my lines for this! But, hey, they’re happy with it obviously – so I’m happy. Acting on Stanley is a very different voice acting challenge – my voice needs to be reeled in a lot more, more conversational, yet still cartoon-y. On top of that, I have to have a careful sense of ‘sitcom’ comedic timing – so there’s almost no room for improvisation, unlike most cartoons I act in. All the actors are wonderful people – and I think they’re all genuinely hilarious. We do run-throughs that I wish everyone could see, where during rehearsal days, we jump from set to set performing the whole episode in order. Those are very satisfying, as you really get to experience the live audience atmosphere that way.
There’s also one about bringing Luke to life, that I’m not exactly in, but I’ve visited the animators. Its strange to think my voice gives a dozen people jobs! And to meet people who have to listen to me regularly, while in the other room another team of animators animate ‘Arthur’.
Then, there’s another submission, this time for a festival in Collingwood we were accepted to play. We were very much the most original act there, and there was supposed to be an emphasis on original music, but we were baffled to find we didn’t make it past the first round. The voting panel was in great part the audience – mostly seniors who were related to the other contestants, so we were screwed in retrospect. We still made something out of it – camped out around Collingwood and Wasaga beach on that summery weekend after we found out we didn’t make it through. That was a special weekend – lots of minigolf. We put on a concert for teens on the beach late at night that got shut down by the cops because they had open alcohol. Made some friends, smoked some weed, had some drinks. It was a well deserved, brief break.
Then, my own personal submission for something I decided that even if I was chosen, I wouldn’t do after I submitted. It was to play backup guitar on a big fancy tour for my friend Zameer (Backed him up in 2010 and appeared in one of his music videos then). Easy enough to do – I know most songs after I hear them once anyways, so I just had to show a little bit of comprehension of one of his songs here in this contest entry video.
Then, we have a bunch more Stanley promotion stuff, ending with a google hangout at one of our parties we have every few episodes (open bar, free food. They’re great!). I make a little Luke voice right at the end of the hangout. Naturally, you should never see Luke, so it was perfect timing that I coincidentally said hello as Luke just as they were closing it down.
Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted plenty of them before they were backed up – first and only time that’s ever happened to me. I do have a smattering below though – not everything I have on file, that’s for sure, but a smattering.
These are literally little ideas, just me trying to dictate and flesh something out so I can hear it back later and pick out what shows promise or not. Often done at very soft volumes cos its late at night, or I don’t have the energy – allows me to focus solely on the mechanics of what I’m doing rather than the performance really. Sometimes there’s something pre-meditated in these, often not. Some of these are obvious exceptions, but not really demos either. I usually dictate something every day, a vague idea that could be fleshed out properly into a full song demo later.
Won’t really write in-depth about these puppies. Just know there’s a bunch of very promising ideas in here.