Twenty Sixteen (2016) was a year of getting nearly every conceivable duck in a row despite major odds, victories, defeats, and new heights.
And the year of inconsistent typefaces for the 2016 lettering. I gotta shake it up somehow!
Highlights From This Year:
– Taylor completes the filming and post-production voice work of Season 2 of The Stanley Dynamic, the real-life sitcom (with his animated twist) that consumed much of the last two years for him on set five days a week. Fifty-two episodes in total! See the photo album for some photos of Taylor with a few of the celebrities that shook it up throughout the latter half of filming, including Jaleel White (Steve Urkel), and the now-late Alan Thicke. These episodes don’t get to start seeing the light of day until 2017.
– Taylor completes voice work on Fangbone season one, as the lead role and the occasional secondary for 52 1-minute episodes. It begins airing in Canada in March and starts to find the following the creators, cast and crew know it deserves. For a test spell, it even gets to air on Disney XD US alongside some of the best cartoons of the era (Gravity Falls, Phineas & Ferb). Currently, everyone has their fingers crossed for season 2, and it looks very promising. The series also started airing in Australia, and will air in France, South America, the US again, and many other places. Taylor is curious… Okay I’m gonna stop this third person silliness. I’m curious to see what my residuals are going to look like for the theme song I created playing around the world every day! But most of all I just want a Season 2 because this show is so tremendously fun. I booked a couple small things as well, in addition to a ton of auditions – but yes, as I type, I will admit although I am constantly asked to audition, nobodys giving me gigs!
– I also got to write various theme songs for other series that are coming out in the future – booking 3/4 of my submissions so far (as of Jan 2017 when I write this). With some networking, I even get a network very interested in having me create a musical show for them for pre-schoolers, simply because they love my songwriting. Making a series is one of my absolute dreams, so this means a lot to me that they set up a meeting with me to explain what they’re looking for in a show. I create a substantial bible for the show (which I’m keeping protected and not up here for now), a summary of the series with some sample songs (which are included in the main soundcloud playlist), and they mull over it very carefully. I can’t say much more than that, legally speaking, but I am continuing down this road in 2017 and we’ll see what happens. This is yuge!
– I get to play a bunch of shows with Bryn at various places around Ontario, and some solo music comedy shows, for which I have a bit of footage. I put together a music comedy series called ‘Hey Lets Make Music’, and have three different live showings of it. I meet an accomplished tv composer named Tim Burns at one of these events, who is also a successful showrunner with an amazing resume (got to write with Jim Henson, direct Trey Parker one time even). He becomes a bit of a mentor, and we even make a Dolan song together, the final version of which should be up in the first half of this year on the Super planet Dolan channel. Demos and in-progress versions in the Dolan playlist for this year though.
– Speaking of which, I make some more Dolan tunes; three that were released, two that dragged on forever and ultimately haven’t been released yet. As I type, I’m in the midst of finishing up what will probably be the last one I do for him. He’s moving in a different direction with the channel, and its a ton of work for the animators that they ultimately resent doing because songs like these don’t provide the same animation freedom as his other channel videos.
– The main crux of this year was the studio. After two years of blood, sweat, tears & struggle… its finally open!! What started to seem impossible just kept being possible. Taking Landmark seminars at the same time really helped. There were many big glaring bits of complication, and in the interest of not gossiping, especially not on a rather public page, I won’t go into it. We could write a huge novel on the journey and adventure it was to get this done despite the odds. What counts is that I don’t voluntarily leave anything unresolved with anyone or for anyone, so the studio happened, even though we had to go through a seemingly infinite journey of even more fundraising, loan getting, calling people, scheduling, rescheduling, purchasing, carefully reviewing and observing, creating booking systems, creating ease-of-use, etc. And even as I type, I’m using the rest of my savings to improve the setup even further for the inevitable TV music work I’ll be doing. It officially had an opening party November 12th, and another one November 25th. So as I type, the studio is in its business infancy. However, we’re already finding clients and business. Learn more about the studio here.
– Once the studio is operational, Bryn and I meticulously reinvent our house so that any studio users can have a great time having the house as an Airbnb. Weeks of my life were put towards making lists and relentlessly cleaning and refining the house. We have incredible framed art on the walls now (most frames thankfully for free from our friends. I think a video is being made to properly document it and the studio very soon for promo purposes, so that should be in the 2017 Abravault I presume (although I will be less thorough with future Abravault years as I fill them up until it makes sense to pay someone to fill in some gaps). My bedroom is covered in acoustic panels even, so I can effectively do some recording and postproduction work when the studio isn’t available, then port it back over to the studio.
– Bryn & I continue to run our constantly booked Airbnb! Sometimes I make my room available too. The link here is different than the 2015 page, as that room isn’t currently available. Check out our main room offering here.
– I also fall into some unusual side businesses that are more distracting than I would like, but we are working it out so that will no longer be the case. Currently I am in a phase of relentlessly streamlining everything in my life and organizing it to the extreme (computers, hard drives, cloud, real life, cupboards, walls, junk drawers, studio protocol) so much of it can run with little involvement and I can make my album(s). One logical thing I begin is voice acting coaching, at the best rates in the city, and I have a blast coaching a lot of different people, generally in-studio. Sure I don’t have 20 years of experience but I am not shy to say I have learned a lot and done quite well in five-ish years of taking it seriously – for a part of that, I was probably the best paid voice actor in Canada. Another strange thing I fell into is helping someone online in making ironic King Of The Hill shirts and marketing them to his 60,000 fans. They aren’t up yet, every little thing delays it. Seems like a neat little residual income stream, and its a great thing to learn about how to do for various other online business ventures that will emerge.
– I also take on, most notably of the side-businesses, helping out my dear friend Aron Tager and his wife, Ann Page. Aron is a very accomplished actor now in his 80’s, but even more than an actor, he’s a rather undiscovered visual art genius. I met him as he had a guest role on Stanley and visited him and his wife in their home – three stories filled to the brim with art Aron has made since ‘taking it up again’ in his late 40’s/early 50’s. Ann is also an actress and a movement coach, and both of them have had far too many incredible acting experiences to count. Chances are you’ve seen both of them in something but just didn’t know the names. They also ran a drama school in Montreal, etc. Anyways. I show Bryn his work, and Bryn is immediately blown away. We start being his ‘art managers’, taking a small percentage to casually help distribute his work and help him with the bills with the sales. But then, bam! While we frantically build the studio and the last touches for its advertised opening party, Aron and Ann are given news by their landlord that he is tearing the house apart and re-selling it. Rather helplessly in their old age and without much reserve funds, we advertised the hell (and organized the hell) out of an art show of his life’s work, taking place in the house, as a chance to celebrate the house and make him some money. Tons of phone calls, facebook posts, and building a small team later… we put together the event and raised Aron thousands of dollars to help with the move. We also got to put on a little concert for him, and I had the shocking pleasure of moving him to tears with my voice on ‘Pure Imagination’. I have to especially thank Bryn for the success of this whole thing, and as things move forward with his work. They had to downsize, but all of their work is in safe places that we can (mostly) access easily. Bryn has gone to hell and back getting print-quality photos of all his work, and even lifting 450 pound sculptures into moving vans. Yes, we’ve spent plenty more time than imagined as ‘art dealers’, but its so worth it to support this dear couple, and get Aron’s work the attention it deserves. 2017 will prove to be a powerful year for his work. We’ve made some mighty connections for him, and art connoisseurs we speak to all agree much of his work should be in the finest galleries. He’s a living legend nobody really knows. We’ve selected some of it to put tastefully up on the walls in the house (a time-consuming feat, surprisingly) – a house that eerily has a similar floor plan to Aron & Ann’s old spot. Its nice in a way.
– I did a lot of co-writing too, with the intention of co-writing with someone who has written for hits. Approached it all very methodically, lots of industry meetups n spreadsheets of people to contact in regular intervals. Have made some very promising and big connections that are taking me seriously as a result, so that’s great. And I did achieve my goal for the year, and co-wrote with someone on a publishing roster who has written a big J-pop hit. So hooray! My calendar looks like a shitshow, as you can imagine, coordinating all of this stuff. Landmark really makes it possible for me.
– And more good news: I land a $10,000 grant for my album! I am also waiting to hear on some more. Very excited to hear what the future holds. There’s probably more things I’m forgetting, but hey, lets leave it there. I had some personal tragedies (losing two dear musician friends, not to mention losing Bowie, Prince, my uncle dying of cancer, finding time to call my grandparents and somehow visiting them still as they start to get very old, etc), but hey. I also networked up a storm, and did too much to remember – carefully and relentlessly setting the foundation for magic – I can honestly say, pretty much all my waking moments were towards that, while providing myself a bit more down-time overall. Even more this year! Every day is a chance to celebrate the life I have and provide the avenue for others to do the same.
Well, with that out of the way, here’s the images! I went a bit nuts this time, far less judicious in what to include, and it’s all rather chaotic in there (but at least its extensive, though not everything).
Good luck making sense of it! Clue: The summary of things above will help.
(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 2016,
Voice Audition Examples, 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.
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 on his youtube page of songs. Most of the tunes are by me, but some aren’t, as I type this.
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. Soundcloud playlist formatting is being a real lemon at the moment – there’s more items in the playlist than it shows, just linger over the items that show to scroll down and see/hear the rest.
Track Reflections, January 2017:
‘Always In My Way’ was a song that was, aptly, always in my way of doing other stuff! I think it ultimately turned out pretty well, but this was the HARDEST Dolan tune to achieve. It comes in an extended version too as well, just for the Vol 3 E.P (Which, by the way, can be purchased here), and I start with the extended because I’m most proud of it. You can hear earlier iterations of this too if you scroll down in the playlist, all in order. I figured, ‘Okay, let’s make a song that sounds like Aqua, but a bit more sophisticated’. When you don’t have an incredible setup (now I do, but then no way Jose Feliciano!), that is a lot easier said than done. Things were sent to many different people to fatten up the beat and bass based on my specifications. The project file for this is about 200 layers, I kid you not. So many moving parts, emails back and forth with people on Fiverr (Mainly the fantastic sax! Which I gave mouth-organ takes to him of what to play to pick out by ear, and he did a phenomenal job of capturing the nuances of it), this guy who owed me some production, James Atin-Godden, doing synth myself… And h’oh boy, settling on a singer. My first choice, who I thought would be an instant yes, was an instant no, and wouldn’t budge despite trying to fully understand where she was coming from. Quite unfortunately, I went through a many month process to find the singer, ultimately in an attempt to find a singer who sounded like the singing voice of another character on that animated youtube channel (Shima). When the woman who voiced her went AWOL from the channel very mysteriously, Dolan retired the character. Naturally, this threw a wrench in my severely delayed song a the 11th hour, so I worked with another one of his main actresses to try and make it sound more like her singing it. So basically, the vocals are a mix of me fattening it up, Sheree Spencer & Melissa Morgan. I can sound rather lady-like so you can’t even tell I’m doing some of the vocal doubles to fatten it up – obviously me as the dude too, blended with a pitched down version of my voice to make it a little extra gruff. It was so much work to get these vocals sounding solid enough for my standards. All of this was so much work – helped pay the basic bills during a precarious studio construction time, at least. Says a lot about who Dolan is that he was willing to go quite over-budget on this song, very grateful for that, as it improved the quality of the final product. We also tried to master it in a better place. Initially, I was looking for someone on Fiverr again to voice the guy, but I ended up doing it. I imagine myself making some ‘Making Of’ videos for the Dolan tunes I created, so that will help. This one came quite easily from a writing perspective, perhaps you can find the dictation that sparked it in the dictations section, based on a request by Dolan to write a song about people always being in someones way. It won’t make total sense without the final animation, which will be up later in 2017… Or at least it better! 😉 I really like the modulated bridge, and sticking something like that in an Aqua-style song is very refreshing and probably never done. The extended part is a lot of fun. Something like this would take 1/2 of the time in my pro studio now. I made sure Dolan didn’t pay for anything I did extra in the extended version, as that was more just my own indulgence.
‘Ant’ is perhaps my favorite of the Dolan songs – they completely screwed up the music video (animating initially to an ancient demo that shouldn’t have been sent to them – ultimately my fault), but I’m happy with the structure of the song. They somewhat saved the video in the 11th hour, as you’ll see. It works well enough for what the quality expected from the Dolan channel is. Some people have called the tune itself brilliant, which is quite nice. You’ll hear it initially started I believe in 2011 or 2010 just as an idea. I reworked it and fleshed it out as a song for Dolan, since he liked the premise. I changed the chords, added a bridge, and again, did my darndest to produce mostly with parts by people from Fiverr. And my old friend Victoria sings brilliantly on the bridges. I don’t think James was involved with this one really, the first one he didn’t do some instrumentation for (one of two). I regret how bassy it sounds to me in the final master now – again, if I had a pro studio then, that wouldn’t be the case.
‘Horrible Names’ was one that was a comedy tune I’d played around Toronto from time to time that Dolan agreed would make a good tune for his channel. Rather quick and painless to do – its just a silly, somewhat simple song. The humor is in how self-explanatory it is, just a list set to music. Quite like how the video turned out, since its a lot more obvious where the direction should go, so the animators had a lot more freedom to fuck around. Dweezil Zappa ended up responding to it when I tweeted it to him and cc:d his sis, they both really liked it. I had my friend from high school, John Whitten, add the electric shredding. It was nice to get to tell him about Dweezil’s response. Granted, ‘Knock Knock’ was the easiest to do out of all the Dolan songs, this one was probably third easiest. This video came out the same day as another big youtubers video about horrible names, so it was eerie timing, and people were comparing the song video to that – unfortunately, that coincidence probably hurt this video’s success in the long run. Its a risk you take when you write a song that is basically internet clickbait in song form; pretty easy for someone else to want to jump on the same general idea.
‘Cellphone’ isn’t finished here, but it’s quite far along. I cleaned up the timing and takes from here. This was with my new friend and showrunner Tim Burns (My Babysitters A Vampire, Jim Henson Hour). He’s currently working on some big TV shows as a head writer, and graciously took some time before his next wave of insanity hit to make a tune with me for fun in his home setup. A really amazing home setup, mind you – he regularly makes music for TV in addition to being a showrunner. We had about three days where I took the bus out to some distant part of Ontario to work with him on the song. I started writing this after I literally lost my cell phone on the bus in a similar way to as described, one morning while going to set. I ultimately got it back thanks to a kind stranger, AND I got a comedy song out of it. Dolan liked the demo enough for me to do it for him. Deliberately meant to sound as much like Elton John as possible, and even mixed on the same board model as was used on Yellow Brick Road! The ‘what if a soccer mom’ bit was written by Tim & I, he had some funny ideas of some other places to take the song and I thought that would be a neat way to fit them in. Just when you think the song couldn’t get bigger or go anywhere else, we delightfully surprise you with something else that helps us build even bigger for the last ‘PRAYING TO DEAR GOOOOD’. There’s a video somewhere of Tim and I doing this together at the third ‘Hey Lets Make Music’ event I put together, where he performed such delights he’s written as ‘Inside Out Monkey’ and some tunes from the 90’s movie rendition of ‘Jacob Two Two’.
‘Ice Cream Witch’ was the first to come out this year, meant for October 2015 initially. My friend Danielle Pollari, who sounds naturally like an adorable little girl, provided the girl’s voice with my direction. I’m the witch who sounds a bit like Cartman. This was a weird one to write and produce, especially the latter half where it’s gradually speeding up and slowing down in the epilogue. I had extra verses I took out, and when I’ve done it live I skip the dentist verse. Again, get the full effect by watching the video in the playlist. I think this one is up to 1.5 million views at this point, which is solid – I’m happy that Danielle has been heard by that many people. She’s just lovely, and it helps to fatten out her resume more. Until April this year, so during these first three and some of the work on AIMW and Cellphone, I was on set most of the time, so quite remarkable that these got done at all during that blizzard of effort.
‘Cruel Cactus’ was one I wrote and pitched to Dolan, but he passed on it, more because of the direction the channel was going in, rather than the content. I think this started as a random dictation I listened back to from a few years ago and then wrote a whole tune around. Dolan paid me a little bit just for writing it though – which was quite unnecessary, but kind. Its basically about someone who is falling in love with a literal cactus because he’s experiencing some serious mirages out in the desert, but he just sees it as a metaphor for how she’s ‘hard to get’, so to speak. The ‘pappy circles above my head’, with this context, becomes an ominous reference to vultures. Proud of the lyrics and wordplay in this, getting to use phrases and language from a flapper girl era is very fun. I think I’ll rework it a little bit still and make a true studio demo of it.
‘Pokeflan Schmo’ was another one he passed on, my attempt at making something very simple to capitalize on the sensation that is/was Pokemon Go. This is someone going so nuts and weird over what we think is Pokemon Go, but it ends up being that they someone entered the mutant realm of the Soviet Chernobyl, notorious for a massive nuclear disaster that has permanently ravaged the wildlife there. So a dark comedy tune, basically, ‘real life pokemon is…. Chernoybl’. Sounding as happy as possible regardless. Chorus isn’t very good, this is a pretty lacklustre demo done with no real prep, and it shows, and thats fine. The initial things I send to Dolan always require a bit of imagination and aren’t that well done… yet.
‘List Never Ends’ is just something added to the Vol 2 collection, in the grand tradition of having some strange little bonus track on the EPs made up of outtakes from other tunes on the collection.
After that, we get into earlier versions of many of these songs, and fragments and takes of things that would find their way in. I’m somewhat judicious with this – I could have put every layer and take of everything, but who really cares. Interesting to hear the subtle or major differences in some of these versions as they progressed and got more and more produced.
Demos, Etc 2016
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, not really to perform it as best as it could be performed.
Many of these demos are quite well produced, others not so much. You finally get to hear a bit of stuff done in the pro studio, even though its rather messy and just me (or me and someone else) trying it out at this point.
These are various demos made during this year. Not as much as I’d like due to everything listed at the top. But believe me, in the pit of my soul, it is TIME. It is TIME to seriously make absurd amounts of music, and that’s exactly what you’re gonna get in 2017.
Track Reflections, Last Updated Jan 9th, 2017:
‘Elusive’ has shown up a few times before, but not like this. This is me using some semi-crappy virtual instruments and my micro-korg to flesh it out for a grant proposal. I submitted to a few, with help from a grant expert. Done on a rather tight deadline, and re-written a bit for the purposes of making it feel a bit more commercial. So far I’ve gotten one of the grants, at $10,000, so that’s great. If I get another I can easily pay the musicians, engineer, (studio time is free since its my own studio), and the promotions side of things. So nice to make an album without the same sense of pressure. I think I can even re-use some of my older attempts at making an album, since this album I’m starting is designed to feel like a ‘best of’ collection by someone from the 70’s, and recordings from different years and equipment setups will add to that sense of the songs coming from different albums. I stole the end of the 2012 demo for the end of this one, since emulating the distorted echo I achieved the other time was proving tricky, and I loved the fractal angst of it so much.
And then we get into my ‘Sing Society’ demos, from a TV series I pitched to a network. I can’t talk too much about these tunes, but I’m rather happy with them. The first one, ‘Just Fun With It’ is about a very David Bryne zebra embracing that he can’t dance in time, and just having fun with it anyways. The second one, ‘Little Brother Joey’ is a song played by a Koala of sorts on guitar and voice and his little Kangaroo step-brother on piano (He’s a piano savant), in order to inspire an Octopus mom to stop expecting her little octopus baby to always behave. Little hard and awkward to do this one, but it moved me to tears when I was writing it, which is a very good sign. God I want to make this show. The third one is just a little song they would sing at a certain point every episode, not unlike ‘Time For Your Checkup’ in Doc McStuffins. I will say no more on the matter of the show and these songs, as much as I’d like to elaborate further. I holed myself up for a week (not even in my bedroom as it was booked for an Airbnber by mistake!) writing these tunes and a thorough summary of the series with plot summaries, etc. The industry folks were very impressed, so its all a great vote of confidence.
‘Kitten Pony Princess’ and ‘Nighty Nocts’ I booked, so I have the main options there I sent them initially, in addition to the ones they chose. I decided to send three options in for each to increase my chances of them choosing one of my songs. KPP has a bit of backing work done by James, as this is all before the studio was done and I have garbage virtual instruments. ‘Nighty Nocts’ was all me – took a while to find a drum stick snare sample I could stand that felt right. With KPP, they chose the third one, with Night Nocts, they chose the first. I think they made the right choices too. You’ll notice I got Danielle Pollari to say the ‘you guys are the best!’ to try and help sell the cute little kid voice. I had to go back and forth with the production companies quite a bit on KPP around little minutia, trying out different possibilities – this also helped build the relationship where I ultimately pitched a show to them as well. You can hear in the very initial demo (Much further down the playlist) that I use Japanese in the latter half of the theme – since they mentioned ‘J Pop’ as a recommended influence for the theme. Took hours to find words that sounded good musically and also emulated things that were seemingly, from the script I got to read and the summary, part of the show. Ultimately they wanted English, and I tried a few different combination. With Night Nocts, they just asked me to change one line – ‘The critters are hello-in’, I suppose because it was a little to slangy. Very hard to think of another line that felt as good to me when I sang it, but they were happy with my recommendation: ‘The crickets start their show and’. Not even a complete sentence, leads into the next line! Devious things like that are helpful, burned into my psyche from the necessary wordplay of The Beaver Den and the Dolan songs. As the playlist goes on, I’ve tried to pretty much include all the different slight variations of options for both tunes, much more for KPP. It started out much thinner than it ended up.
‘Chucks Choice’ I didn’t book, but they were very appreciative. It was very strange writing a theme song like this; they wanted something mostly wordless and wacky and catchy, and it’s for a show about a boy who has three choices he can choose to try and resolve any situation. They referenced things like the ‘Clarence’ theme song, so I wanted to approach it a bit like that, like a futuristic version of that (since it’s a very technological seeming show), with a pinch of the harmonic adventurousness of the ‘Stickin Around’ theme (to me, the best kids show theme out there). Each version just has a different middle – I think I had James make the alternate middles due to time constraints, or one of them anyways. I wrote out a page of what I imagined happening at each moment to help them imagine it better. Should have made something a bit more generic I guess. Oh well.
‘Autopilot’ and the rest of the Josh Jams: My dear friend and very talented musician, John Goldman, visited the studio to take some things we’d been holding for him the last two years as he was playing music around the world. Great guy! Naturally, he was blown away by the final studio, and we jammed a bit in it. I’ve included excerpts from that, basically unedited except a bit of vocal reverb. I might use some fragments of these jams on a new triple album I’ll make in the studio a’la ‘Here’s Some Songs’ to help me solidify the songs for my proper debut album. Anyways, ‘Autopilot’ is a tune I wrote just by saying in my grant proposals I’d release a song called ‘Autopilot’ as a single… I had no idea what it would sound like! I’ve gotten quite obsessed with ELO this last year so that’s what its become. This is just a fragment of it, I didn’t play the whole song with Josh because its tricky to follow on first listen and we were just having fun. I did play this tune live (in full) a couple times this year though, actually, with positive response. I was trying to find the live stream video of it recently to upload it to youtube, but facebook was quite elusive. It was at 120 Diner at a songwriter’s circle I played. Oh well, you’ll hear it even better soon enough. The Josh Jams are pretty meh compared to my usual, but that’s just because I was pretty meh: vocally tired, un-warmed up, hadn’t played in a few days etc. I do really like some of it all though. Josh overdubbed some beatboxing and some commentary on one as well while he was around, as you’ll hear. He had the pleasure of being part of the choir that sings on Leonard Cohen’s final album earlier in 2016, and became infinitely cooler to me somehow as a result, if such a thing is possible.
‘Come Back Girl’ is a song I started years ago at SongStudio with another writer. This is it in a very different shape to attempt to show another cowriter and get the song finished. Its a pretty meh demo, and the song isn’t quite working to me, as much as I like the seperate parts. I just don’t think they work together well enough. As much as I like the verses, I think they’re too wordy and I need something more normal so the chorus pops more.
‘Here I Am’ was written initially in 2015 in a bathroom at another co-write session, or some of it anyways. The guy I was working with other tunes on was blazing so much and playing other music so loud I couldn’t concentrate. I was trying to imagine something for Alessia Cara to sing. So the production would have to be more RnB/electronic/po, which I think would actually serve the song just fine. I like how the verses breathe in this song.
‘Novocaine’, no idea where it came from, but it came instantly after I let myself relax a little bit in Florida in December. I was, and still am, excited to write for the sake of writing rather than to get somewhere with it, and being free to make some weird stuff – hence one of the things I’ll be doing soon is another ‘Here’s Some Songs’s style triple album in a quick period of time to help figure out my best new tunes, and to just have fun writing again and give more songs some sort of life and visibility. I love how the lyrics are both incomprehensible and sensible, it’s some sort of dream-fueled romanticism trip with a dark undertone, a bored and love-starved chiropodist getting delirious on novocaine perhaps. ‘A London burrough buried under cigarettes and bad advice’, ‘Imagine a world where you never feel pain, where all your dreams burst from the cage in the shape of supermodels, for a game of spin the bottle, finding new ways to fondle… either way, I guess its something bout the, something bout the novocaine.’
‘Cognitively Disabled’ is an in-progress comedy tune. Sort of controversial, and it gets too dark. I’ll fix it up. But I do find some of the verses pretty funny. Its just about having a relationship that’s so good that you start to wonder if the other person is treating you like you’re disabled somehow. I’m acting more irritated that I am at the start, I’m not irritated at all really.
‘Pretty Girls’ started as a song for the Beaver Den back in the day before I wrote ‘Canadian Famous’ in its place – this is me reworking it for my friend Izad’s character Leila, a princess of sorts from Tehran. He does fantastic one-man/woman shows as her and we met up a bit for me to write some music for future shows he puts on. His character deserves to do very well. We also created a tune, or rather, started a tune called ‘Kyle The Larabar Guy’, a play on ‘Taylor The Latte Boy’, which you can hear a smidge of in the ‘Hey LMM’ audio at the end of the playlist if you dare scrub for it, or right here in this playlist after Pretty Girls. I hope these see the light of day in one of his shows – we met while he played Simon in one of the Beaver Den productions.
‘Garfield’ I think was just written for the sake of writing something that day. I did show it to Dolan but not really expecting him to leap at it. Its really just a weird P.O.S. that I like for being a weird P.O.S.
‘Christmas Came Early’ was written on assignment. Someone paid me to write a traditional X-mas song. I handed it in on X-mas eve and got to perform it that night at a little concert I put on at the Cabana where my parents vacation in Florida for the folks around there. Its a very nice bonding experience, playing lil gigs like that. I like giving my parents opportunities to see me in my element. I think this song is mostly clear about what its about, is a good idea, and I could easily hear on the radio next x-mas. I’ll try and produce a good demo and get it placed somewhere. My brain was lodged full of bland-ish x-mas music on the radio while shopping copious amounts of times at Dollarama in December for little things for the studio and Aron’s art business. This tune definitely fits the bill in a lot of ways.
Then we have a bunch of x-mas tunes I wrote on spec for a big publishing house by total chance. He was very impressed and wrote me a letter of reference which helped me get my grant – ultimately, the Hallmark movie it was written for just went for a traditional Christmas tune instead, one they wouldn’t have to pay for. These were just shot out one night on my way back to the house after working on Cellphone with Tim – I wrote most of the lyrics on the back of receipts I had in my wallet.
‘Saving Grace’, or at least how it currently stands, is based on a melody mostly written by a co-writing partner. I made up the words, generally happy with them. Have never approached it in such a firm form before, doing everything to not alter someone else’s melody unless I really have to. I like the story I was crafting, relates to some times with my first girlfriend, when she was living downtown in a crappy basement apartment. I’m curious to finish this up with him and get an artist to record it.
No idea about ‘Drop It All Away’, doesn’t really come together, but I like what I was trying. Making up the music on the fly to pre-written words that had a vague sense of melody behind them as I was writing them.
‘Sally Gal’ was just a quick vocal reference for Bryn and I, as we put together a version of this song for a Bob Dylan tribute show.
‘Across The Universe’ was my dear Landmark pal Joe, who booked some studio time to record some songs for his brother who was passing away, as a gift for him, and I engineered the session. I play guitar, it was all quite impromptu. Joe was very happy with the final product of the tunes we did together (he played all the other tunes), and I know his brother was moved to tears by them, and got to hear them before he passed.
‘Barbershop lines’ are from an upcoming Stanley episode. I put this together to help the co-star I’d be singing with figure out his part. I basically made up this little melody that shows up in the song. I also had to make up a 10-second ukulele tune in another episode.
‘Good Things’, this is just the old in-progress version of it for the umpteenth time, adjusted slightly for a grant submission.
And then, unfortunately, only the first rendition of my ‘Hey Let’s Make Music’ music comedy variety show was ever recorded in full, which was, by far, the worst one. Not really because of the guests, but because I didn’t really know what I was doing yet, and we were moved into a bigger room last minute which made it feel far less communal. There’s videos and stuff of moments from the other ones, but mostly they’re hard to find and embedded somewhere in facebook. I think I have a couple in the video playlists for you at least.
Voice Audition Examples – 2016
As a little something different, I’m including some self-tape voice acting audition examples. I could go through and do this for all the years, but this gives you a gist, and there’s lots of legal ambiguity about really sharing these, so I’ve changed the file titles to protect the projects I was recording for. These are some I recorded on my own – either in my bedroom or in the studio (mostly bedroom as the studio wasn’t an operational thing till later in the year). I booked a couple of these parts, but most, as far as I know so far, I didn’t – but it can take them a long time to ultimately cast a show. Won’t really go in-depth explaining them – I don’t even know if all of these are the final edits or what. Of course a lot of voice auditions I do are in person at downtown studios the producers book out, so they all aren’t in my hands either. So these are another reason making music doesn’t always happen that easily, but I do very much enjoy doing voice auditions. I just wish I could have a weeks notice for each one rather than having to push whatever else I’ve scheduled around in order to fit recording them in. I take usually a couple hours to do a self-record and get it to my satisfaction, depending on the project, and it uses up a lot of energy, as you can tell with some of these. Auditions inevitably come at awkward times and have me postpone some things during the week, but they’re quite fun to prepare for. Sometimes I end up recording them very late at night, sometimes in very very tight timelines.
Lyrics, Poems & Etc
A sprinkling of lyrics, poem fragments & other more text-based files from the year can be found here.
Primarily, there’s lots of lyrics.
All Videos, 2016
Enjoy some exclusive Taylor & Bryn video content, me playing, Fangbone stuff (presuming it hasn’t been taken off Youtube for copyright violation), Stanley clips, promotional videos, and more!
Video Reflections, last updated Jan 11th, 2017:
The first few videos are Bryn and I at an unusual little spot called ‘ThatChannel’ downtown. We did an hour long interview, and then played some songs – not sure as of yet how to get the interview here. This was all the day after Trump was elected, so we were all talking about that a bit, and then the studio, us as a duo, and our larger ambitions. The sound synch is a little weird, and the levels are definitely biased in my favor, especially on ‘Room For Rent’. I like how ‘Kill’ ended up sounding. All originals, naturally, and all hearable in various live versions in various places in the Abravault. ‘Room’ is more Bryn’s composition (though I did help), the rest are mine.
Then, I have a quick video of a group named O Fronterra recording in the studio, a little makeshift impromptu promo video before a proper one we’re doing soon. They’re such a fun bunch of players and make very interesting music. You can hear me in it a bit.
Next I have an impromptu version of Hallelujah done at my dad’s request, whose also holding the lyric page. This was down in Florida. It starts mediocre, but once I sing up the octave it becomes something pretty powerful. Plenty more of the tunes from that lil concert (though certainly not all as it went on for about an hour and a half), are later on in the playlist, including my ‘Christmas Came Early’ original. I played my other x-mas Hyphenates original, ‘Santa Claus Is A Fine Fine Woman’ too, but unfortunately nobody filmed it.
After that, we have the Dolan animations that were released in 2016. Read my notes on those songs for more about those guys above. But enjoy the videos! They took advantage of some of my animation notes, which is nice to see.
Then, we have some featurettes on Fangbone, which are self-explanatory. You get to see my quite a bit in them. This was during one of our early recording sessions – they brought us downstairs to do the bulk of them in-between recording the episodes. They asked us to dress well for it, and I think I failed. I wore jeans that were very uncomfortable for recording in, unfortunately, and I think affected my performance. You’ll hear as the show goes on how much more facile I get at playing Fangbone (and how much better they get at choosing my better takes). It was in the dead of winter, while recording one of our first episodes.
Then I have even more Fangbone stuff – someone in the states catching the theme song off the TV as it debuted in the US (very exciting for me!). And even more exciting, a bumper for the show where they have the voices of Star Vs. The Forces Of Evil narrate it. Its a really great show with a big budget, so it’s nice to hear them going on about it. People say Fangbone, as a series, is the boy’s version of Star. There’s obvious parallels. Fangbone came first, but people think Star came first because it aired to a wider audience sooner.
Then there’s a young Dolan fan who put together a sweet little video for my birthday. Very kind of him – surreal what starts to happen with a little internet visibility. I wish him the very best and I hope they put up my new songs soon for him!
Next is Bryn and I at Aron & Ann’s old place, singing Cirque with an improvised bit based on an audience suggestion, at his main art sale we put together for him. There was a lot of video of this, but because of the square reader the sound isn’t in them, so not much sense in uploading them. I know where they are. I uploaded one later in the playlist as evidence.
Then, we have some comedy song fragments! Some of ‘Horrible Names’ but mostly ‘The Whitest Song You’ve Ever Heard’, which I look forward to refining and doing a studio recording of 🙂 It encapsulates a lot of white guilt, which I think there deserves to be more music about. Middle-class white boys like me have a lot of that junk to make sense of. For a long time I was insecure about being a man, and insecure about being white. I’m starting to just embrace it all a lot more, the more I talk about it with people. But there is a man-hating segment of society that passes itself off as progressive, and its very confusing for people like me, because it slyly devalues the basics of who I am in the same way men in general, have gradually and overtly devalued women over the course of time. For a while I wanted to be a woman, and it was a very consuming desire, but based in a societal insecurity rather than an empowering certainty.
Then we have a facebook live stream concert Bryn & I did in the studio with various musical friends. I was anxious that night because I knew I had to have a conversation with Bryn about some serious things about our friendship, things I wouldn’t put up with going forward into the studio’s real public opening a couple days later. So I don’t play and sing my best. Its a pretty casual affair. Other acts include my co-writing pal Lora Ryan and Callum Marsh. Lori Cullen and Kurt Swinghammer were looking to perform at it, will have them in the future, which would be an absolute dream. Their album they just put out with Ron Sexsmith is heaven. I schmoozed with them all after the CD release party and got to know them a bit. She gave me a comp ticket to a great event her and Kurt played recently, very kind of her.
Then, there’s some things from a songwriter’s round, only two of the four songs I did.
I also did a thing my friend put together on facebook called ‘The Real 30’, where you do a video of you being real each day for 30 days on facebook. Great idea that started to catch on amongst my Landmark pals. This is one of my 30 entries. The others are generally lost to the ether of facebook. I’ll pay someone in the future to dredge them up should the Abravault get profitable enough. Had so much fun doing this, want to replicate it properly for Youtube this year. Or just make this video public.
After that, there’s a variety of the promo videos I directed and edited featuring Aron & Ann to promote the art sale. They are lovely people as you shall see.
Lil’ clip of Josh jamming in the studio making the ‘Don’t be shy’ improv from the playlist
Then a bunch of Fangbone epiosdes that aired in 2016 and promotional blibbits for it.
Someone uploaded some clips from an episode of Stanley that first aired this year, so I’ve stuck them in the playlist too.
Then, Stargate star David Hewlett who guested on an episode with us gives a little bit of context of his time on the show. Talks a bit about the toon (me!)
Then we have some clips from the other music variety ‘Hey Let’s Make Music’ shows I put together, including one with Bryn.
‘Ohh Deevee’ is a Tim & Eric Chrimbus special song I recorded quickly on Xmas day down in Florida for the Tim & Eric fans on facebook, as a little gift for the joy that community brought to my year. Voice is dry and raw and crappy but hey. I’m a rebel when it doesn’t really matter.
Then there’s some rather self-explanatory stuff until you get up to ‘Winners of Contest’ which was when I was promoting my voice acting coaching on facebook more heavily… in conjunction with needing much more money for the studio all of a sudden. Same thing with the King Of The Hill shirts, was just looking for clever avenues for income doing things that were fun.
There’s a video of an X-mas tree in the Eaton center, Bryn and I. What the hey. After a gig we played at the Hard Rock where it was all Stones tributes. I would like footage of that one day, we did a good job of ‘Wild Horses’ and ‘Satisfaction’. We also played one of these earlier in the year too, of Bob Dylan songs. I did ‘Disease of Conceit’, then Bryn (who was in the washroom, so I was stalling!) finally joined me for ‘Sally Gal’ and we had a big massive backing band for ‘Tangled Up In Blue’.
Then, more Cabana Florida videos. The girl joining me is someone who they always try and get to sing, her supportive family, although she’s quite shy.
You know its a good show when people feel compelled to make weird AMA videos to show their fandom… as some have for Fangbone, despite it not generally having a viewership outside of Canada (as I type this) and on a rather hard to track network.
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 it’s 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, and just to keep the wheels turning.
Won’t really write in-depth about these puppies. Just know there’s a bunch of very promising ideas in here, and also some stuff I’d consider crud. The Abravault is, by most accounts, no-holds-barred.
In 2017, I’m spending a bit of time organizing and going through my entire life’s amount of dictations to try and find everything promising, so I’m far less likely to leave anything behind to the sands of time that seem worth cultivating. Don’t be surprised to see this playlist get a lot more fat as the year progresses, and perhaps other dictations playlists in other years too. Lord knows if I’ll be really going through everything – an emphasis on the last five years for sure, and I have a very good memory of a lot of it anyways, so I’m sure I’ll stop at a certain point. Time is too precious to get too specific all in one go about this stuff, I don’t want to wreck my momentum in life right now.
Jan 29th 2017 Update: Added a bunch of the computer dictations (not all to protect some other’s privacy generally), not phone ones yet. A lot of these files reflect a new star system I started when I was listening through to them, to help me narrow down ones worth digging into. No stars at the end of the title mean there’s absolutely nothing there worth exploring, or it has already been developed into something, or was recorded for another purpose and that purpose is fulfilled. One star means there’s something there that maybe I’ll get to (even if a song that’s already been developed, there could be something different that never made it into the final piece that piques me a little bit for the potential of being redone or reused somehow) – two stars means definitely I want to use something about that dictation.
Anyways, enjoy the barely curated mess of it all in the playlist below!