Within reach is this powerful version of yourself. At the gates, down the hall, through the passage ways of the relentless cherishes. The face bright, a mild sense of insanity compels you beyond this version, this vision of lost and the flowering gestures of your present time. What will one say as the passers by learn their riches? What will the edges of the sober breathe give to the madness? Can you, the staple being of your own existence set aside a propagandized life for the sake of living? These warm thoughts cooked up by the simple reaches and gestures I see and feel in a day. My body chemistry speaking to the masses on an historical avenue tucked away in this planet. The vibrated looks of their eyes jumping into the depths of nowhere. The quasi bop of the walk, the insecure, the checking endless update of now. We are here. We are the animal instincts in the heat of a chakra. The whole spectrum raining down, and what we stick to in our grasp we foresee in the futures of time we cannot count on. The spectacle in consistently attempting to be present, or simply, aware of the fake attributions of our know hows. I declare a wild state of madness to justify how I sway here. I will dance with the silhouette eye in the obscure, always. Even as I traverse the mundane of this box I sit next to and have to push with a rolling eye.
I’ve been a fan of Detroit Native, Daniel Timlin, for over a decade. My hope is we get to share these special drawings regularly. Timlin splits his time between Chicago and Detroit doing odd jobs, drawing, perusing the local fare to inspire, and of course his famous cheap beer and grilled meat parties. A humble entity uniquely gifted as a human, and of course a brilliant Artist tucked away into his laid back lifestyle. I’m really excited to share his work on here.
If you’re not a musician, or an individual who is trying to promote a message, a product, or simply, yourself, then you won’t have any idea about the whispering robots in the dark. You won’t understand the constant pimpery (my word) that is taking place online. I’ll use my music project as an example here.
For almost ten years I have thought highly of myself for being a straight laced diy artists. I felt like I was really good at hustling my work, making new relationships so I could manipulate these online personas into covering my creations. You probably have a grip of online friends who you’ve never met. There’s a back and forth of regularity thats some what trusted. We have these weird unspoken “word is bond” esque contracts in the modern era. Back in my fathers day it was a handshake, now my generation has somehow transferred that into the digital realm, and emails, or tweets. Its all for shrinking the globe into our devices to get more out of promoting what you, the individual, is doing. Some are really good at it, transfixed on the notion of being relevant by the second. Hustle it baby!
But its all bullshit, all of it. Everyone is pushing a product, retweeting their work, or merchandise to the masses to perpetuate the fickle following they’ve obtained over the years. I use to think that most of the traffic on Soundcloud was organic in all forms. All my work up to this point has been, plays, comments, likes, etc. And there’s a lot of them. But my most recent experience revealed the impossibility of trying to get yourself in the right spaces to be heard. You have to pay, period. There’s is no denying it, or sugar coating it to death. The new paradigm is quite disgusting and its killing me a little. Making me wanna be a flower on an empty hill. Trust me when I tell you, that label you think is huge, it’s not. They’re just really good at social media.
Recently it was disclosed that Soundcloud is in financial trouble. And quite possibly might not be around much longer. At first I thought how bad this would be, but now I’m thinking it might be a great thing. A sure thing to clean out the cobwebs of failed dreams, and people, while heartfelt in theirs hopes to make music, or cover music, not willing enough to make a worthy product for the sphere of creativity. The business of music is fake, it doesn’t get much clearer. So what do we do about it?
If you’ve ever sent your work into a website to get press, you’ll soon discover you’re asking someone to promote you, and the amount of work that requires. The timing, moods, and all the other things that go with how you come across, or what they want from you, soon punch you in the face, and beg the question “Why am I doing this?”. They don’t want canned messages, not a long message, not a short message, not a message at all. There’s a whirlwind of “about pages” and “contact pages” on hype machine you can surf through and spin the wheel, see what kinds of fortune will come your way. You can figure you’ll get a 10% return on a 100 submissions if you’re lucky. Thats about my average, maybe, give or take. Worth it?
Its not worth the shitty writing that you’re bound to get on the song you’ve worked tirelessly on. Some are really good, but most are lazy. A few words, and a widget, couple of likes, and then off to the archives. Or even worse, you do an interview or special post for a website, and they delete the thing after a short period of time, thanks jerk. That happens more than you think. We owe it to music to stop making our material so widely available for free, and we owe it to ourselves to make the press realize we’re not little pawns in a “soundtrack for your life” factory. We’re artists, and you shouldn’t get to treat the sounds like ketchup for your french fries. Ultimately, I will either hire a PR person at some point, or swim in my flowering solitude, with a mostly obscure reclusive existence.
We need to dropout to stop the suppressing corporate hands from turning our hearts into wide eyed, smile faced emoji that only see the future by how many people liked, shared, or tweeted our work. The 20th centuries energy killer was the television, and the influx of cubicle culture. Well now those very cubicles are mobile in the form of a smart phone. Remember that the next time you’re texting and accidentally run into a tree. It hurts your face, really bad.
The core of a human’s soul can’t fix the reality of modern times and how we are perceived through the bright windows of our techno sensibility. The revelation of who we are, how we dress, and how we fuck. Even more so, how we listen to music, which defines most of the former. Coupled with the dynastic strangle hold of marketing mascots and the ever shifting pay-to-play ethics, and you have a recipe for disaster. I can be a “modern hustler” sometimes, but mostly I’m fending off these molds of irrelevance by creating sounds in the comforts of solitude, and a loving community. You take a step back, let a beat play for a second, and the whole god damn world changes in front of you as your twitter feed updates. Who’s in, who’s out, whats the new new, and what is Kanye (fake artist) saying now? Its a sad place to be, but who can stop it? How do we stop it? Is it all a sham, coasting down the supernovas of your poor wifi connection? There’s hope to be sure.
As a friend and I discussed this over dinner, ultimately some kind of reclusive beauty of making art for the sake of making it for yourself, wins out. How that progresses into some other kind of persona in your “real” life to make your immediate community better is king, and the rest, well, leave that to the passers by who live life in a small box of madness. The cell phone is the new cubical, and we’re all slaves now.
Last week I shared my thoughts on Matt Honkonen’s new album Take Me Home. You can read it by clicking HERE. I loved the record so much I thought it would be cool to talk with him about it.
So this is album # 2 for you under your own name. How’s does Take Me Home line up with Paper Wires? Or even better, how doesn’t it?
I think Take Me Home is an evolution in my song writing for sure. Honestly I struggled a bit with suddenly being the focal point when I was putting Paper Wires together, and I think that can lead to “safer” tunes and performances. I always had band mates to bounce things off of and collaborate prior to that album. Take Me Home (to me) feels like a more earnest statement with a more focused style. It represents a consistent vibe from start to finish, and the atmosphere is present in every song. It’s a single moment in time that I explored in 10 tracks, through 10 different windows, looking into the same snapshot. I think I captured that well and I’m very proud of it.
With your long history in music, and recording so much with people, traveling, etc. I know this time around had to feel more personal, because it’s a “diy” album. Touch on that a bit. What’s the struggle like?
It was an awesome and humbling experience to craft solo. Working in the studio with a band and/or creating as a group can push you in a lot of different ways, some good and some bad. It can be inspirational and collaborative, while also being a very political process. You’re forced to confront things that make you uncomfortable with the songs you create and deal with everyone’s opinions and aspirations.
How has the family influenced your sound on “Take Me Home”?
The cheesy answer is support. Christina has always been my biggest believer, supporter and collaborator. She (along with you and some other peeps) probably listened to 10 different versions of the “final album”. It is invaluable to have trusted ears around, in life in general. And Gray is a constant inspiration. Bing a dad opens a doorway you didn’t know was accessible before. Put’s life in perspective in a way that a kid like me wouldn’t see otherwise. I think the tone of the album reflects that, and also calls back to a time in my life of curious freedom and absolute content.
Is it hard for you to be a frontman, do you miss the anonymity of your old job as a drummer?
That’s a good question. I do miss drumming and providing the foundation, but the challenge of being a frontman is a welcome change. Having to focus on singing, remembering lyrics and stage presentation is almost the exact opposite part of the brain as a focus on playing and syncing with the bass. It’s keeping music fresh for me, and I still drum with enough folks on the side to satisfy both sides of that coin. I used to have a hard time being the focus, a hard time dressing as “the auteur.” Putting this band together to support this album has taught me how to lead, how to listen and trust my instincts (and my new band mates).
What artists inform your general ambitions for creating music, or being creative on any level?
I don’t have a “type.” I am inspired by craft in all forms musically…lyrics, song structure, live performance and engineering. I find inspiration in sounds and sights that send me to the places I thought were forever lost and return me gently into the warm reality that human beings are infinitely complex, sometimes terribly ugly creatures…all striving to hear and to be heard. But I’m also tremendously inspired by folks here in TN like RB Morris, Kevin Abernathy, Tim and Susan Lee, Madre, The work YOU continue to do with your many projects, Grandpa’s Stash and the HUGE scene we’ve got here. I could write ten pages on bands and artists that I admire here in Knoxville.
You’re about to head back in the studio to record your old band Llama Train, what can you tell us?
Six songs done thus far, and our next session is Feb 6-8. Its been a blast writing together again and working some familiar territory. We’ve all continued to grow musically as players, and Scott and I have become better songwriters and lyricists as the years have passed. Now that we’ve gotten a bit long in the tooth, it’s more fun to collaborate.
Here’s a fun one. You wake up, the day is yours, whatever you want to do you can do it. But the catch is, you can’t hear anything. What’s that day look like for you?
Man oh man, well…it’s nature then. It’s coffee and the mountains, maybe with a journal and a cigar or two.
What’s your hopes for “Take Me Home”?
That 15 years from now, someone on a Sunday afternoon at 2:30PM is driving out-of-town with a sidekick. They’ve only been dating for a month and are headed hiking. It’s cold and crisp outside, and they’re both a little stoned. They are debating over which album will provide the soundtrack of their hour long journey to the trailhead, and both finally agree on “Take Me Home.” They hit play and smile…
You’ve more or less retooled your studio at Tiny Tree House to be this beacon for DIY ethics and a new home for more artists local and nationally. How did that happen, was it just a natural progression?
Man, I’ve always had the thought somewhere in my mind that I could be doing more with recording/producing. With technology the way it is nowadays, you can really let fly and get weird without having to spend thousands on a space and gear. I’ve always made do with what I had available, but as the years roll by and I get involved in more projects, I’ve been listening and learning, honing my craft and collecting my gear. So in that sense it has been a natural progression. I’ve also, very deliberately, signed up for projects that were too big for me. That way I was forced to get uncomfortable and grow (both gear and skills). I think that is the single best piece of advice I could give someone when approaching recording. Bite off more than you can chew and then go learn everything you can before showtime.
On top of all the releases and recording, you’ve started your own small business in Pitchwire…tell us about it.
Pitchwire focuses on all things audio to pair with visual art. We specialize in voice over, music beds, live recordings and audio branding. We’ve been up and running for about 2 years now and have worked with the Big Ears Festival (AC Entertainment), Loch & Key Productions, PopFizz, YWCA, Goodwill, Designsensory, The Boy Scouts of America, TNECD, and many others. It’s been a blast and continues to push me creatively to problem solve and get more efficient when creating.
Saturday, February 20, 2016
RHYTHM N BLOOMS MUSIC FESTIVAL
Fri, Apr 8, 2016 9:30am
Sun, Apr 10, 2016 10:30am
RECORD STORE DAY – LOST & FOUND RECORDS
Saturday, April 16, 2016
WDVX SIX O’CLOCK SWERVE
Thursday, April 28, 2016
CONCERTS ON THE COMMONS | NORRIS LAKE
Friday, June 24, 2016
For more information go to www.matthonkonen.org