Five Years: Reflections from Mrs. ATIM

I know what you are thinking. My opinion is not to be trusted because I am Mrs. AllThisIsMeaningless. And while I won’t deny my love for them, I have to admit that my feelings about his music are more complicated. I like to claim that I own the first mixtape that he named an “allthisismeaningless production.”  Many nights in college were spent listening to him play guitar and later spent listening to him manipulate sounds on his synths. I knew then that he had talent, but more than that he had a passion for making music. I was not on the decade-plus long journey of making the album, but I am glad to say that I was around for the last year that it was being completed. I got to be part of conversations about how terrible it all was and how it was going nowhere. I listened and nodded and then asked to hear the album. I got to hear the tracks that were finished and then I got to hear the opening bars of the next few tracks. I got to hear four different versions of the album, I listened while I spent hours driving for work. I got to hear calming melodies and beats that made me turn the music up and roll with windows down and eagerly await what lyrics might be coming. I gave my general impressions, but knew that it was a work in progress and wanted to see his completed vision.
Around version two or three of the album I grew more and more fond of the opening track. I grew attached and invested. I worried about what changes would be made and if I would like it less when the lyrics were added. I loved hearing it all come together, even if he complained that it wasn’t quite right. And occasionally he would admit to being proud of what he had done. I listened to the album on repeat. Waiting for the latest version of “Voices.” Then the day came and I finally heard the words “The voice you’re hearing,” and the song carried me away, leading me through this new and final version of the album. An album that I saw passion poured into. An album that I carried with me in my own way, I took a kind of ownership of. I listened to it while I drove and one night while I was on-call I listened to “Voices” five times in a row and it kept me going. You know what it is like when music hsd that effect on you. He was always surprised when I told him how much I listened to the album, especially “Voices.”

How do you explain the way a song touches you? Is it the opening notes? The chorus? The synth solo?
It is everything. It is the music. And the journey that music takes you on. It is true for “Voices” and it is true for the rest of Hijacking Your Fiction.
I can’t wait to hear more.

Five Years: Reflections on Hijacking Your Fiction

It is probably not advisable to start my first post in five years negatively, but stick with me and it’ll all turn out alright. For me, listening to Hijacking Your Fiction, even five years on, is not fully enjoyable. Enthusiasm for my own work waxes and wanes unpredictably, and objectivity is impossible. Nonetheless, I relistened to it in its entirety for the sake of this post, and wondered at how it ever became an album at all. It’s a question to which there is a simple, happy answer: I am lucky enough to have people around me who encouraged its completion, knowing if it were entirely up to me, there would likely be nothing still.

The original concept was three separate EPs, each with four songs, but as each section was inconsistently worked on, with no set deadline, the order of track completion just made it logical to release it as a whole. Considering it has been five years since the album’s release and I have yet to release a second, it was probably the right choice.

I like to think that the three parts, or chapters as I like to think of them, of my story are still delineable to the listener. It is not, as the name may suggest, a fully realized story. It is instead more of an emotional arc. Before the album was released the cover artist, Jennifer Kover (website under construction, here’s a link to her old video page, including the incredible 1000 leaf video for “Ruin”), was working on ideas for the artwork. She asked me for a description of not just the concept, but any abstract ideas, smells, or visions I may associate with the album. These are the notes I hastily put down:

  • One is primarily dealing with loss and confusion
  • Two is shock/escape
  • Three is hope, restoration
  • Free to make a life from ruin
  • Entanglement theory
  • React in spaces”
  • oranges old abandoned buildings and books
  • cold stone carvings broken…so you can smell the wet inner stone
  • all these grey, decaying things with hints of flowers and fruit beginning
  • oranges and purplish blues amidst the grey
  • patches of florals and citrus among the decay, death and ruin

Some of these songs were already over a decade old when this album took shape. No wonder I was sick of them (“Gate 36” was probably originally written around 2000 or 2001 with a keyboard, an acoustic guitar, and an old electronic drum kit in the back room of a run down house ). Truth be told, despite previous statements in this very post, I do rather like the songs now. I am proud of my work and I think it holds up better than I imagined it would. The small things that bother me are probably things most people won’t notice. To me they are huge. This is the life of a musician, filled with self-doubt and misguided focus. Yes, of course there are things I would change. There are some mixing issues, places I don’t like the effects or balance, and I still loathe the vocal performance of “Electricity.” But I don’t want these things to haunt me. It was a first effort, a dozen years in the making. It was only in the last couple of years that the album really began to take shape. By the end I was exhausted. I hated everything about the album. I left the final touches to my co-producer, Scot Bessimer.

And then there’s the name: Hijacking Your Fiction. Where did it come from? I am honestly not entirely certain. I think it came from some of my early musical experiments, wherein a friend later added vocals distorted to a point that I still do not know what they were, and neither does he. But these words stuck out, whether or not he actually said them. It somehow seemed thematically appropriate.

There are things I do love and am quite proud of: The synth solo on “Voices,” my vocal harmonies on the closing track, “Sweet Victory.” Lyrically, I am quite happy. I was making changes to some lyrics right up to the actualy recording. I remember sitting in Scot’s house editing “Reconnect” moments before stepping up to the mic. Scot then wrenched out of me my favorite vocal performance on the album.

Several of the songs lack a chorus or hook of any kind, something I didn’t realize until later. But where a chorus was missing, I felt it was usually filled with the appropriate emotional weight. I still think those songs work without a hook in the context of the whole.

I have much to say about this album, so I don’t know how to close. Despite how this reads, I am quite happy with Hijacking Your Fiction. I’ll leave it at this for now:

Favorite songs: Ruin, Hospital Girls, Voices, A New Man, Gate 36.

There is more coming. I’ll be doing a more thorough discussion of this album and more soon. New music is on the way. More updates. And as soon as I relearn how to work with WordPress, a newer, better site.

Lyrics Update

The lyrics page has been updated. You may notice that not all the lyrics have been posted.  This is intentional (except in the case of Electricity, which will be updated later). Certain homonyms and punctuation can potentially change the meaning of some of these lyrics. I do not wish to interpret them for you. You, the listener, are the final part to the whole that is any art, thus giving meaning if indeed any is to be found.

Publicity, Marketing, and Other Stuff I Know Little About

As previously stated, I have neither the motivation or the narcissism required for self-marketing.  Nonetheless, I am trying to post more often and get a few other things going that might help more people be aware of the existence of AllThisIsMeaningless.

In this vein, I have opened a Twitter account.  Ya.  Twitter.  I Tweet now.  This is particularly odd to me as I had declared it dead more than once, but the media seems to be keeping it alive.  There is not much to be seen yet, not even a photo, but you can follow me @ATIM_music.  This is not the name I wanted, but I tried a few others that didn’t quite work.

And speaking of narcissism, my favorite rejected user name?  AllThisIsMe.  Damned limitations.  I also considered AlThIM, which I may still do.  Would anyone care vote?

I have also started a couple accounts on other social media, not so much that I plan to use them, but that they will be there if I decide to.

Further publicity to happen soon:  an interview about AllThisIsMeaningless and Hijacking Your Fiction and an album preview on SoundCloud.  If all goes well the latter will get done tomorrow.

Coming updates:  Album release details (mastering is getting done as I type this), a contest idea I’ve been kicking around for a while now, a long list of thank-yous, a call for remixes, and the future of AllThisIsMeaningless.

Album Art (and Video)

I had, at one point, decided that the full album was too much to handle and was going to break it up into three parts, or “Chapters.”  As it stands, Hijacking Your Fiction is still presented in three chapters, but there was a point that there seemed to be less pressure to finish when looking at it as separate parts.  The plan was then to release the album in three EPs.  However, as a few of the songs came together, I realized it was actually Chapter One that was going to take the most work, and nearly everything else was already complete.  The album returned to full length.

As a result, I’m not sure what I’m going to do for album art.  I had a cohesive idea for all three covers, each similar but with degrees of change meant to imply growth and change.  I even had someone willing to do the work.

I do not do marketing well, and that includes motivation to talk to other people about what I want for my music.  After so little communication with Jolene, I found that she was busy with her fashion design work but was still willing to work with me given time.  Now I just don’t feel right springing this on her at the last second (nevermind that she lives on the other side of the planet).  Besides, I am now looking for a simplified design, but have no idea how to go about it.  Bless all you visual artists out there, because I am lost in your world.

Enter, perhaps, Jennifer Kover, a friend I made in Korea.  She is already working on some video concepts for a couple of the songs, which will be made available on YouTube and/or whatever other site I feel like joining.  She may now be my graphics designer as well.

So the third in my long list of thanks (Scott, aka Artisan002 being the first for motivational and mixing help, and Zachary Annett being second for taking on the task of mastering), are those visual designers and artists that have been willing to help, whether or not they end up doing the work for me because of my lack of discipline and motivation.  I will post links to their work in the near future.

This is the beginning of a long list of thank-yous that will be in an upcoming post.

A Break in the Silence

Blog reboot.

AllThisIsMeaningless is not idle.

I won’t detail the struggle to finish this album (I will save it for another time, perhaps) as there is much to be said about a five-year process. Countless album ideas begun and scrapped when, in 2010, everything came together.  It has not been easy and there have been long periods of nothing done.  And now, Hijacking Your Fiction will see the light of day at last.

The mix phase of the album is complete thanks in large part to my new producer, Scott Coward.  We have pushed hard these last six months to get it done.  The next step will be to send the tracks for mastering, which I will be doing this week.

As of now, only four people (including myself) have heard the album in its entirety.  Two more will be added to the list: mastering engineer Zachary Annett, and artist Jennifer Kover, who will also be doing some video.  If, however, you managed to get the C/Fe Menagerie Vol. 1, you will recognize three of the songs, though two of them have gone through some rather dramatic changes.

That is all for now.  There will be much more in the coming days.