Archive for the ‘Black Tape For A Blue Girl’ Category
A few days ago on a post at the Black Tape For A Blue Girl Patreon, I replied: In “Absolute zero” he knows its hopeless and yet he’s still hopeful. In “Cabin” he’s resigned. In “Vega” he’s resigned. And in “She’s Gone” he’s sort of reached the point of, “Oh fuck it! I’m just going to move on and try again…”
Kervin Brungardt commented: I heartily approve of the story arc and stages in attitude in Bike Shop. It happens that way so often and you have captured the emotional landscape so well. Trivia – Dennis Hopper grew up in Dodge City, KS 80 miles 18 years from where I grew up. Always proud of a fellow High Plains person.
And here’s my reply.
Hey Kervin… Dennis is is a home town boy. How cool! Here’s how the idea came to me to include him in the song.
Usually I spend time listening to the music track as I craft words into lyrics. But “The Cabin” and “Vega” were written a bit differently. I had the music recorded, and I wrote some words (first half of photo above) that I thought fit the mood. Nothing polished, just source material for the song. I brought that sheet into the studio and began recording guide melodies over the music. Shaping them into lines that fit the lengths of the lines.
That was verse one. Now what? When I look at that sheet of paper, I see I thought, “What happens next? Oh! Why doesn’t Dennis Hopper show up to give Mike’s character some dating advice!”
“Seems legit!” as my son would say. : )
But why Dennis Hopper?
I was listening to a lot of early Neil Young when writing the tracks for Bike Shop. In “Pocahontas” (from Rust Never Sleeps – 1979 – actually not so early of an album) Neil sings, “And maybe Marlon Brando will be there by the fire; We’ll sit and talk of Hollywood and the good things there for hire.” That line has been in my mind for over 35 years…. so heading into the 2nd verse, I blurted out (as you can see above), “and maybe a young dennis hopper would sit with us here by the fire, laughing and saying, “man, what are you talking about…” (if you’ve ever seen a Hopper interview on Letterman, you know how he loved to laugh and say “man”) and then I continued, “you’re not gonna deny her, your still caught up i desire…” I just started writing out a string of sentences that rhymed with “fire” to get to the joke at the end of the verse.
Later, I reread the words to “Pocahontas” and made a small change to the first line to make it more similar…
and maybe a young dennis hopper, would be there by the fire, sayin’, “man you can’t deny her, you’re still caught up in desire, get her on that ole’ telephone wire, and do what it takes. don’t let your love expire, you’ve gotta go out on the high wire, let your passion burn like fire.” It’s a bunch of somewhat cliche advice that you might hear from a friend, as you’re thinking, “Naw. Nope. Not gonna happen. Way too late.”
Thus the song ends with:
dennis loved to speak in words that rhymed, but i can’t see that they apply to me so i don’t think i’ll go back to that cabin anymore.
And yes, there is a cabin. And I’ve since visited again. I dusted myself off and tried again.
Have I ever mention to you that artists are a crazy lot? We can get obsessed over a trivial detail which – quite frankly – nobody in the world will ever even notice. And if they did hear it, they wouldn’t call it a “problem.”
Two weeks ago, Josh mastered the four tracks for the “Bike Shop” vinyl ep. They sound great; very “live” and present. However, the first verse of “The Cabin” seemed too loud to me, and not compressed well. This wasn’t Josh’s fault, it happened in my mix, and then was accentuated by the EQ and compression in the mastering. Gotta fix it!
I sent Josh a new mix of the track, to compensate. Guess what!?! On the version 2 mastering the vocals in the first verse sound very consistent (as far as the volume from word to word), but they all sounds a bit too soft.
Yeah, right! Probably half a Db too soft. Anyone going to notice?
Now I am going to try Josh’s patience by suggesting an EQ fix to the problem.
In “She’s Gone” I wrote, “Love’s a lot like insanity anyway.” Well, hey. Being a musician is a lot like insanity, too. : )
I found a model that I think would look great on the cover. I’ve sent her a message, but no answer yet. I made a mock-up of the cover, but I have to hear back from her before I can share it.
Things are moving along…
Outubro 14, 2015 · by Pedro Gomes Marques · in entrevistas, música
Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Projekt and Sam Rosenthal are names that merge, and emerge, when we look at the past 30 years of the so called darkwave sound. It all started in Florida in the early 80s while Rosenthal had a fanzine and, at some point, included a song on a tape featuring some local bands he was writing about. They were all very new romantic / electropop oriented, a genre so fashionable in those days. From there to create a record label that could launch the work of his own band, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, was just a little jump. And thus was born Projekt, a name that became a reference that distinguished itself over the 90s, launching groups such as Lycia, Love Spirals Downwards, in addition to the already mentioned Black Tape For A Blue Girl. In a conversation with Sam Rosenthal, we got to know the news about new Blacktape, as well as the circumstances that continue to make possible a label like Projekt in such hard times for the record industry, when everyone is fully aware that the music business has changed radically.
1: These Fleeting Moments, Blacktape’s new album, will be out on spring 2016. From what I’ve read on the Bandcamp page, you’ll be returning to that ethereal sound of the early 90’s. Why is that? Did you feel some uncontrollable need for this BTTB?
Sam: I think 10 Neurotics was as far as I needed to go, in the direction of writing really structured songs in a pop/rock/cabaret vein. It was interesting and challenging to do that, but I guess you can only go so far. It’s probably the same reason I started writing less-ethereal songs, after The Scavenger Bride. I didn’t want to be an artist who had to do the same thing each time. I want to try new things. Even if that “new thing” is actually an older thing (laughs). I also think that people are happier when they are hearing a style that they expect from an artista, so it’s a delicate balance. I feel the new songs come from that same 90’s darkwave space, but they sound current. I am using less reverb on the vocals; I’m not burying these amazing performances. Sometimes I listen to the old albums and scratch my head and wonder why the vocals are so deep in the effects. Also, as you’ve noticed, the last few albums didn’t have many instrumentals. So I am bringing some of that back. I met a great violist here in Portland, Grace, who is playing on some of the tracks. To give a nice searing string sound to the tracks.
2: Remnants of a Deeper Purity is higly acclaimed and considered as Blacktape’s masterpiece. Do you think that These Fleeting Moments will be able to compete with that classic album? By the way, what’s your favourite Blacktape album? (and why do you prefer it)
Sam: There are tracks on the new album that fit in very nicely with Remnants, and I think people will enjoy hearing them. I don’t know if I live with ideas of “compete with,” because I’ve never been about competition like that. I do think about making music that people who love Blacktape will be excited about. And I am thrilled that I still have it in me to write those sorts of pieces. As far as favorite? I am really partial to A Chaos of Desire. I just love those instrumentals with Vicki!
3: Looking at the new album’s title, may I conclude that you’re telling us that all in life is ephemeral? Is there anything that isn’t?
Sam: What I am thinking is that our moment in this life is very ephemeral, and I’d suggest we each look at what we are doing with our life and honestly ask ourself if we are spending our time in a way that will feel good, when we get to the end. I think a lot of people rush through their lives, and put a lot of their effort into things that – at the end – will seem pretty trivial. Such as answering emails. Or watching cat vídeos. And when the end comes, will you say, “Shit! Should I have watched all those cute kittens? Or maybe I should have loved more.”
4: There was a time when you strongly supported the free digital downloads because you believed that people exposed to music would, eventually, support the artists they enjoy. I have the idea that, altough you’re behind the PETm website, you still believe in this concept. That’s why you share some part of your music for free on Bandcamp, am I right?
Sam: You know, I’ve definitely see-sawed on this topic over the years. In the beginning of the digital age I was very pro-free-exposure, then grew very annoyed by free, and now back into believing in it. I’ll tell you why I’m back to believing in this concept: You cannot fight change. You can scream at it, and bury your head in the sand. But that ain’t gonna alter what is happening. Ultimately, you have to work with what you are given. And if people want things for free, then I am looking for ways to make that work for me and my art.
5: You’ve been often returning to Kickstarter and you’re doing it right know to put the “Bike Shop” EP out as a vinyl edition. As an artist and a label owner, do you think that’s the right path (and probably the only one) for independent labels and musicians to make a living through art?
Sam: I wouldn’t say it is the only path. There are some indie artists who get ahead with other methods. But I think it is a sweet spot for my music, and it’s a way to connect to people who care about what I do, fund releases, and feel some sense of dignity in the process. Five years ago, as mentioned above, I was really frustrated with “people taking my music and not paying for it!” I had to really live with that, and work through that, and discover an avenue like Kickstarter where I could connect with people who respect my work as an artist. It has been both inspiring to me and a source of income. It’s been great in multiple ways.
6: On the “Bike Shop” EP you have the collaboration of vocalista Michael Plaster, from Soul Whirling Somewhere, a band that arrived to my ears in the 90’s through the Projekt label. How and why did this collaboration happened now?
Sam: When I was writing “Bike Shop,” I realized it was the perfect song for Michael: it’s an intimate story about lost love, and reflecting on love. This is really what Michael specialized in, with his lyrics. I’ve released all the SWS albums on my Projekt label, and I’ve listened to them hundreds of times. I know where he likes to go, lyrically. I felt a bit like one of those old-timey songwriters, writing songs for a star who was going to be in my show. I created the lyrics for the three additional songs in a week. Telling more of the story about the situation behind “bike shop.” There are ideas that come directly from my real-life experience (yes, I was dumped via text!) And there are bits I made up. I like how it all feels very personal and real.
7: Nowadays, how do you choose artists to be part of the Projekt catalogue? What kind of sound are you looking for?
Sam: I really haven’t been adding many artists to Projekt, these days. The most recente signee is Mercury’s Antennae. They have a sound that really fits the label. It’s Dru from this Ascension on vocals, and Erick on guitar and electronics. They have a 90s Projekt / Lycia sound. With some 4AD as well. They’re the perfect band for Projekt.
8: In your point of view, what are the main differences between a major label and an independent label?
Sam: Major labels have a lot of money, and put out a ton of music in the hopes that one or two acts are a hit. Indie labels spend more time on a small group of artists, trying to nurture careers. I personally am not anti-major label. A lot of the music that I love came out on majors (granted, we’re talkin’ back in the 70s and 80s). Warner Brothers took a chance on Devo, for example. A major put money behind Gary Numan or Peter Murphy or Soft Cell or the Cure. Can’t knock that!
9: There were some bands that, at a certain stage, were part of the Projekt label. I’m thinking in Love Spirals Downards, Lycia, Peter Ulrich, Thanatos, Autumn’s Grey Solace, and so on… Do you still have contact with any of them? If so, what do you usually talk about?
Sam: Oh yeah, I’m in touch with them. I am having a Facebook conversation with Pat from Thanatos right now. Of course, I have known Pat since middle school, so he’s definitely a friend as well as a guy from a band that used to be on Projekt. Pat and I are discussing the “Bike Shop” Kickstarter, actually. With the other bands, it’s more about royalties, or an offer to be on a compilation (there’s a lovesliescrushing track coming out on a Cherry Red Records shoegaze boxset).
10: You’ve been moving from place to place over the years. Florida to L.A., L.A. to Chicago, then you moved to New York and now you’re living in Portland, Oregon. Was this a personal option? All these different places are reflected in your work, or is it something that doesn’t affect you at all? (as a musician and as Projekt owner)
Sam: I am fortunate that Projekt can operate from any city. Most people have a much harder time uprooting their lives to go somewhere new. I was also very lucky that my son’s mom and I are still friends, so we could orchestrate a cross-country move, get out NYC, and resume our lives, and watch him flourish.
I would say that the way that Portland is reflected in my art is TIME. I now have time to make art, because Portland is an easy and inexpensive place to live. In Brooklyn, everybody is always stressed out about earning enough money to afford to live in Brooklyn! It really drains you. Here in Portland, I have the time and brain-space to make art. I like it a lot.
11: Are you interested in other forms of expression of the human spirit, like philosophy, literature, painting… ? Do you have any hobby in some other form of art?
Sam: Hmmmm. I’m probably not so much a fan of painting and literature these days. I like reading psychology or self-help. Stuff about the human spirit, but more about finding ways to actualize it, vs angsty or lofty expressions of it, like in art. I like finding things in my own pysche that I can wash out and improve upon!
12: Will you continue to use photos taken by your son to make cover art for Projekt records, as it happened with As Lonely As Dave Bowman? Is he interested in arts as his father is?
Sam: He’s much more interested in electronics and engineering, not so much art. He’s a really good classical guitarist, but he is not continuing with it at this time. Yeah, I’d use more of his photos… but he’d need to shoot some. I asked him to shoot the cover of Dave Bowman’s MONOLITH. But while I was shoving the camera at him, I noticed something interesting myself, photographed it, and that became the cover. “Sorry son, I just took your job!” (laughs)
Thanks for the interview. I like the interesting questions that I haven’t answered before.
(listen to the music while you read the interview:) the "Bike Shop" vinyl EP by black tape for a blue girl (featuring Michael Plaster of Soul Whirling Somewhere)
Sam: How does it feel, singing on new songs after being out of the public eye for a while?
Michael: Actually it was a really good experience. I have had the songs for my own upcoming album churning around in my head for over a decade, so to be able to work on someone else’s songs was pretty neat.
Michael: So tell me about the subject of the songs on the “Bike Shop” EP. Are they all based around one person?
Sam: No, actually they are about the last three relationships, merged into one person for the sake of the story. Reflecting on the feelings after a break up, going back to old memories, remembering little sweet things that happened, and then feeling sad that they’re not going to happen anymore. The funny thing is that I don’t even own a bike, but I was seeing somebody who repairs at a bike shop, and I liked having a physical location in the song, a place I’d want to go back to as an excuse to talk with her again. When I was writing “Vega,” I wanted to come up with a name for this romantic partner, and it needed to start with “V” to make the little joke in the lyrics work. I was running through all sorts of names that started with ‘V’ – and I came upon Vega and I thought, “Yeah, that would be a good name for the person I’d have dated.” The joke about the birds spelling out her name was actually part of a joke Voltaire said when I saw him live. I modified it, but I should give him credit for that.
Sam: Can you relate to the words that I asked you to sing?
Michael: Oh absolutely. I have always known that you and i have had a similar take on love and relationships, though from different angles. “The Cabin” was the first one i really clicked with; it just has that really intimate story of a very specific place and time, and the distinct things that happened there, and the whole end of it being kind of just “i give up”-ish… that’s very Plastery. And then even moreso the song “She’s Gone.” This is probably my favorite on the EP. The bittersweetness of looking back at a love that really never fleshed out, the self-defeated response to it… it just all smacks of lyrics i very well could have written myself.
Sam: Yes, agreed. That one is the song that has the most self-analysis in it, where the others are more just capturing moments. When I get dumped I kind of immediately revert back to an old storyline about not being worthy of love in the first place. And my brain says, “You dummy, of course you were dumped. Why would anyone love you, anyway?” I might not be that guy all the time, but certainly there’s that moment in a break-up where I just go back to that sad, dark place from when I was a kid. And then I have the line in “She’s Gone:” “Love’s a lot like insanity, anyway.” Because really, what’s love about? Why would somebody be one of a billion people yesterday, utterly amazing today, and then lost in the crowd tomorrow? It’s hard to objectively say that somebody is really more amazing and loveable. “Oh my god, look how good they are repairing those bikes! She has such long fingers, they smell a bit like grease. I love her!” Really? That’s crazy talk. (laughs).
Michael: Do you find that you sometimes fall in love too easily? Or at least become infatuated with someone too easily?
Sam: I don’t think I become infatuated too easily, any more. I look at things more realistically these days.
Michael: Is infatuation good, i.e. more song material?
Sam: Sure infatuation is good song material. Maybe I am saying that all love is infatuation, and you are just asking about the speed with which one gets to that point? Or maybe infatuation implies the person you love is unobtainable? For me, I’ve gone on so many dates and met so many interesting people. Unobtainable is something that I have made myself consciously aware of, to not go there anymore. It’s too big of an energy drain.
Sam: Tell me some more about your thoughts on the songs.
Michael: You know it was just really nice to hear some very straightforward, minimal acoustic guitar. That isn’t exactly the typical Black Tape for a Blue Girl sound, but is very much up my alley, so i definitely responded to it. The whole straightforward approach has always been something i have striven for lyrically, and i think all of the songs really hit that nail right on the head!
Sam: I was thinking about straightforward recently. The thing that makes a song lyric really great is when it is specific and really personal. “I came in like a wrecking ball, I never hit so hard in love,” that’s such a generic platitude. I want to know what it smelled like, and what was said, and how the writer reacted in concrete terms. To me, that’s what makes lyrics interesting.
Michael: What made you decide that i would be a good vocalist on these tracks?
Sam: Well, I love your voice. There’s that. And your lyrics are about these topics, so it made sense that you’d sing these sort of sweet, sad, occasionally humorous lyrics about past relationships. It was after you agreed to sing “Bike Shop” that I wrote the other three tracks, with you in mind. I felt like I was your songwriter, and I could write words that I knew you would relate to, and be able to get into, and deliver delicately and authentically.
Sam: What does music do for you, these days?
Michael: It’s weird; i have always been such a snob when it comes to the music i like (and the music i can’t stand), and the industry has changed so much in the last twenty years. It still affects me like nothing else can, but it seems harder to find the music that does so. Now, i don’t work at a music store anymore, so i am sure some of it is that i am no longer on the inside, hearing about upcoming albums & such… But then again it is easier than ever to find out on the internet i suppose. But music still brings me feelings that nothing else can…
Sam: I think I’ve heard so much music in my job at Projekt that I’ve grown more and more picky. I still hear new things that excite me. Definitely not as often as in the 90s… but I think that’s true for most people.
Michael: You’ve lived all over the United States; L.A., Chicago, New York, and now Portland. Does the change in your surroundings affect your songwriting, either sonically or lyrically?
Sam: I don’t think the environment changes my songwriting. What the environment does is give me the ability to create, or the environment can take that away. I think New York is so expensive that our brains get consumed with scarcity, and making enough to survive. And that mindset isn’t conducive to making art, if you ask me. I lived in NYC from 1999-2013, and I only created three Black Tape For A Blue Girl albums in those 14 years. Yeah, we had a baby in that time, and I gladly spent a lot of time with him. But after he got older, it was so much money stress. I’m very happy here in Portland. It feels alot like Los Angeles in the early 90s, like when you came out to mix your albums. I can take a day off, or a few days off, and work on art when it feels good. Not trying to cram it in at the end of the day or whatever.
Sam: Which gives you more joy in life, people or cats?
Michael: Cats of course. I know it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. I am unmarried, got no kids, but got like a hundred cats. Okay, four cats. But still… Here is a quick little story that might convey it better. Just earlier tonight i was up at the local grocery store, picking up my usual stuff. They had recently remodeled the store; the cat food was in a new aisle, with new fancy decorations & such. So i looked around, got my cat food and noticed a bunch of signage hung throughout the aisle, with picture of various cats on each one. I spent a few moments in my mind picking out my favorite cat (it was the Tabby)… Then i went to check out, and spent 7 minutes waiting behind some bitchy lady who couldn’t get off her phone, and refused to take 8 quarters instead of two one dollar bills, so i had to wait for the cashier to call her supervisor over to restock her till. So yeah, cats.
Michael: I will ask you the same last question — which gives you more joy in life, people or cats?
Sam: People, definitely. I think the thing I like most is hanging out with a friend at a bar or coffeeshop, talking about life, relationships, woo-woo spirituality, psychology, how they’re doing. That is what really makes me happy. And it’s also inspiring because it gets ideas flowing. I write about motivations — about why people do the crazy-ass things they do. And while cats might be peaceful, and zen-like, it’s humans (and why we do the stuff we do) that gets my brain going.Download the “Bike Shop” EP at Bandcamp.
Sam Rosenthal took some time to tell us more about his kickstarter project to release a new 12″ of Black Tape For A Blue Girl. In the end Sam reminds us (the journalists) that you (our readers) would love to hear more about the lyrics. Probably he’s right, but hey, now you have an extra reason to listen to the songs for free, that you can find here.
Why did you decide to ‘kickstart’ your EP Bike Shop? If I understand it correctly you can download the songs for free, but to realize the vinyl EP (with extras) fans need to pay a certain amount of money.
Sam: I think letting people hear the music is an essential way to get people excited about supporting a physical release. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to give away what you are trying to sell; but the music industry has gotten pretty surreal these days, and you can’t assume that the old laws of nature still apply. I tried this same idea with the Monolith release (from my solo-electronic project As Lonely As Dave Bowman), and it worked out; I figured I’d try it again. So far, it’s looking promising.
What can people expect for their money?
Sam: They are helping to create a 12″ on yellow and black vinyl. There’s other things they can get with higher pledges, such as test pressings, hand-written lyrics, their names in the credits.
You released the rough mixes of the EP (they are almost done, but not mastered). Why did you choose that option? Why didn’t you release (for instance) two tracks instead of four?
Sam: I think that each artist will discover what works best for him, as far as interacting with listeners and the new record industry is concerned For me, I’ve always been very honest and open with Projekt’s customers and the people who care about what I create. It’s a bit of a tease to say, “here are two free, now pay money to get the other two”. Right? I want them to hear the music, that’s really the most important thing to me. Give it away, and money comes in somehow.
Will crowdfunding be the new way to release and distribute music? Especially for a label like Projekt? Or will there be no labels anymore in the future (I know you have your opinion about the current music scene)?
Sam: I don’t think there’s one rule that applies to every artist. I think engagement and seeing what works is what bands need to do. I don’t really know if a label can crowdfund all of their releases. I don’t know if that works. I think the people who love the music like interacting with the band, reading what the artists have to say on their updates, etc. So, I think it’s a fan-to-band interaction that works best. To the other question about “no more labels;” Well, I am not ready to commit to yes or no on that. I think labels still serve a purpose, especially as artists get bigger and need professionals working with them to forward their careers. A lot of musicians just aren’t good at the detail-oriented part of getting their music out there / getting paid. I have more than 30 years experience at it. I know where the money comes from, and how to make sure the artist is in the channel to get that!
Is downloading music a blessing or a curse? Why?
Sam: I guess that downloading is neutral. It’s a way to hear music. It’s what humans do with it that is a blessing or a curse. I’ll tell you why I believe in downloads: You cannot fight change. You can scream at it and bury your head in the sand, however that is not going to alter what is happening. Ultimately artists have to work with what we are given. And if people want to download music for free, or stream music for almost free, then I am looking for ways to make that work for me and my art. Working so what I used to see as a curse, is revealed to be a blessing. That’s definitely something true in many aspects of life: you never really know if a choice is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (‘good’ or ‘bad’), until it has played out and you see what ends up happening.
You had to wait a long time (you know him 20 years) to finally team up with Michael Plaster (SoulWhirlingSomewhere); why was it so important for you to work with him?
Sam: I love Michael’s voice. As you probably know from my band, I do like working with male vocalists; they often represent me within the lyrics. When I started writing these songs, I wrote lyrics I thought fit Michael’s thematic styles. As if I was a songwriter for Michael. It’s like creating a new character, or writing a short-story. And then knowing I had the perfect actor to portray this character. The pieces draw from my real experiences over the last couple of years. But I blurred a bunch of relationships into one, and then embellished with things that made the stories more alive.
The voice of Michael gave you the opportunity to approach the music differently. What are for you the main differences between the Bike Shop EP with Michael and the other Black Tape For A Blue Girl material?
Sam: These are four acoustic guitar songs together, which I wouldn’t really do on a Black Tape album. It’s a different sound, in that it’s sort of mellow, ethereal acoustic rock music. In the past, there would be one song like this on a Black Tape album; this was a chance to make a whole release of ‘em.
You were so excited you wrote three more songs in a very short time. You love how quickly this release has evolved from idea to something we can listen to. Do you think this will always work like this or do you need more time for other releases?
Sam: I think that I write pretty fast these days, and once a song has moved to the point of adding the vocals I know it’s going to be released. So, I am thrilled by the idea that along with full albums that take a lot more time (writing songs, deciding which ones fit, recording with the different singers and instrumentalists), I can do these EP projects which can appear much faster. I feel that as an artist, it’s good to have many outlets, rather than putting all my energy into one release. That’s why Monolith and Bike Shop happen simultaneously to the creating of the new album.
The track Bike Shop/Absolute Zero will be released on the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album These Fleeting Moments as well. Can you tell us more about the new album? You said on the website it will be a return to the ethereal dark wave/darkambient sound of the 90s?
Sam: That’s right. My thinking is that it’s a good time to explore the older sound, the languid, long-form, darkwave mood of the past. I love the 10 Neurotics album; and at the same time I think I don’t need to keep going in that direction, just to make a similar sounding follow-up. I still have a number of unreleased songs from that period which I might write lyrics for and record, and do an EP that’s sort of the 11th Neurotic. But I recorded that album 6 years ago, and it’s not where I am at today, thematically and sonically. The new songs deal with relationship angst, of course; But they also look at life experience, questioning our goals, what we’ve accomplished, and if we’re living the life that is authentic to our core. The first side of the album is done (I am conceiving it as a 2-LP set, which will also be on CD). It’s a 17 minutes track, that explores a lot of those questions, in a darkwave/dark ambient sound.
Will you release These Fleeting Moments with crowd funding or will it be a normal Projekt release (in the ‘old fashioned’ way)?
Sam: It’ll be crowdfunded, for sure. Why? Honestly, it is much more fun this way. I like getting people involved in the process of making the album, meeting old and new fans of what I create. It’s inspiring to get to know people who like my music, and want to see me succeed. The old fashioned way is sort of dull, isolating. Me at home alone most of the time. And then one day, POP! The album comes out. With crowdfunding I get to share with the listeners the process. “Hey, look! I am working on the cover!” “Hey, look I just recorded drums with Brian!” That’s fun.
Is there a chance we will see Black Tape For A Blue Girl performed live in Europe in the near future?
Sam: Sure, there’s a chance. But playing live is a big undertaking. Time, and money. And generally, the band loses money playing shows, and that’s just not really what I want to do. If a festival wants us to play, they need to pay our expenses and pay us something for our time. It’s only fair to the people who work with me in the band. They are taking time off from their job and their lives, and they deserve to get paid for that. Otherwise, if it is going to lose money, I’d rather lose money on something like making a video or buying some new gear. Or going on a vacation (laughs)!
Something you always wanted to say, but never were asked…
Sam: I guess I wish I was asked more interview questions about my lyrics. About the themes behind the music. I think that’s something the audience really connect to. But I don’t think it’s something that journalists take the time to delve into. So yeah, about the themes.
Thanks for the interview, I appreciate it.
Kickstarter to donate: http://kck.st/1Fkr0T1 Hurry, because there are only a few days left to get involved!
Written in Blood by Lithuanian writer, journalist, music and mythology researcher Mindaugas Peleckis is now out; it is published by Numen Books, Australia. It is in English and includes an interview with Sam Rosenthal as well as Peter Andersson (Raison d’être), Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound, Current 93) and many others. You can read more about the book at radikaliai.lt.
Here is Sam’s interview, conducted in February 2015:
1. You worked with a plethora of artists over the years. What collaborations were/are the most interesting and important to You and why?
Sam: The most important collaboration is whichever is the recent one I am working on, because it’s the most immediate and the most exciting. I moved to Portland, OR, a bit over a year ago; and I’ve started working on new Black Tape For A Blue Girl music.
2. Can You tell me, in short the main ideas are behind Your music? Could You name Your favorite of Your compositions / albums / collaborations? What about the new album?
Sam: With my music, it’s always been about creating the sounds I want to hear, that nobody else has created. So for me, it’s about making interesting music that I enjoy. I imagine the new album will be more ethereal and darkAmbient; it will be different from the Dark Cabaret / Rock sound of the last couple of albums. I feel 10 Neurotics was really successful in that sound, and I’m never interested in making the same album twice. I want to explore emotional and more textural sides of what I do.
3. The sound is magic. You‘ve proved it. But, what ends, when there‘s no sound?
Sam: Well, it sounds like this question is about the meaning of life? What is there when there is no sound? I think there are the memories of sound, and the anticipation of the future sounds. But if we are no longer of this life, then will there be sounds when we return to being part of the energy of the universe? That is a good question, but I don’t know if I have a very good answer to that.
4. What is and what is not a Sound Art?
Sam: For me personally, I am interested in melody. I am not so excited by noise or music that has nothing that my brain can latch on to. That said, something like Fripp & Eno is very melodic and catchy, so you can tell my opinion is not within the mainstream. Then again, I don’t assume that my opinion is very important, or should have any influence on the what is / what is not art discussion.
5. What do You think about relations between the old art and computer art? Are they compatible?
Sam: Yes, they are compatible. Computers are a tool. And like any tool, it is a question of the quality of the person who uses the tool. I love recording with a computer, because it opens up so many more possibilities; I can do thing I could never do on my analog 1/2″ 8-track. So for me, the computer is a great tool to help me better realize my art.
6. What do You think about thousands of neofolk/industrial/ambient/tribal/electroacoustic/avangarde etc. bands/projects? Is it a kind of trend, or just a tendency forwards better music?
Sam: Well, that must be a European-based question. I don’t know about thousands of bands like that here in America. Is it a problem for you?
7. What do You know about Lithuania? How and when did You come to it? What Lithuanian and foreign musicians do You value most?
Sam: I am not very familiar with musicians from Lithuania. Of course I know Lithuania is one of the Baltic countries, and returned to independence after long-time Russian rule. I guess I would say that I worry for all the countries in your region. I worry if Russia has ideas about those free countries. I don’t have a lot to go by, to make any educated comment on this topic.
8. Could You tell, please, some words about my initiative to print the first book about experimental music / Sound Art (i call it postmusic) of Lithuania (and, at least, Eastern Europe)?
Sam: This is an exciting idea. It is good that there are still people who want to communicate and educate through physical objects, such as books. There is more than the internet!
9. What inspires You most?
Sam: In the early days, my art was inspired by angst, and longing, and passion. I think I have less angst these days; my son gives me a lot of excitement and happiness. But there’s definitely still longing and passion. I think people are generally very isolated, and rather sad. And that is something that I wish I could overcome. For people in general, and for myself in specific.
Thanks for the interview.
Hi — This is Sam from Blacktape. You haven’t heard from me much lately, I was back east for ten days, and I’ve been busy finishing up the four tracks on the “Bike Shop” vinyl EP. These are four brand new songs, only one of which will be on the next Black tape for a blue girl album.
I’m asking for your support to fund this release.
I have to say that this is something about the new record business that I really enjoy: I can write & record songs in September. And make them available for you to hear in September! In the old days, there was such a long delay between the creative spark and when the CD finally came out. Now I can put the songs up on Bandcamp for you to hear immediately, while they still feel amazingly fresh to me… and then in early 2016 you can get the vinyl. That’s very cool, if you ask me!
I’m also excited about recording with a first generation Projekt artist, Michael Plaster. We’ve been friends for 20 years, we’ve worked together on all his Projekt releases. It’s been forever since he’s had new music for all of you. Please Sennd Help came out in 2001, it was PRO121. This EP comes out 200 releases later, PRO321!
Alright, so let me tell you a little bit about the EP.
I’ve been working on the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album (these fleeting moments) and I’m about two-thirds through writing it. Last Christmas I recorded guitar parts for a new song; about a month ago I wrote the lyrics and that became “bike shop/absolute zero.” I was reflecting back on my last few relationships: thinking about the good parts but also kind of wondering how they fell apart, and how it took so long to recognize they were over.
I’ve worked with Michael Plaster on his Projekt releases for over 20 years; I’ve always loved his voice and emotional delivery. As I was writing “bike shop,” I kept thinking, “Damn, this would be a great song for Michael to sing.” It has a similar quality to his lyrics: looking back on a past relationship with some joy and a bunch of sadness. I waited until I recorded my guide vocals, and then presented it to him ready to go. “Here, this is happening! Would you like to be the singer?” Michael said, “Yes,” which was very exciting to me!
I had the idea of doing it as a vinyl single and we talked about what might go on the B-side. Maybe a new version of an old Blacktape track? But knowing Michael was the vocalist inspired me to write three more songs really fast — like in a week! These songs sprung from little bittersweet memories.
For the most part, things didn’t happen exactly the way it goes in these songs. Yes, there’s a real bike shop and a real cabin. And I did get dumped on the phone (ouch!). But there’s nobody named “Vega,” and there’s no real canoe, and I wasn’t getting relationship advice from Dennis Hopper! : ) Yet the songs capture intimate and personal stories about relationships and love.
The three additional tracks give you the back story on “bike shop.” Think of it as diving deeper and hearing more about a character you will meet in a song on the upcoming album.
I was back in Brooklyn three weeks ago and I recorded drums on two of the tracks with Brian Viglione (of Violent Femmes and The Dresden Dolls). I love how quickly the “Bike Shop” vinyl EP has gone from idea to something you can listen to!
Scott M wrote on the Patreon page: After hearing just a few lines of “bike shop,” I could totally see why you wanted Michael Plaster to sing it. He achieves in each song just the right combination of sadness, joy, frustration, weariness, and acceptance. The video is well-done also. I hope the Kickstarter funds!I want you to hear this new music! Go to Bandcamp and download the entire EP for free!
These are rough mixes; they’re almost done though not mastered. That’s part of what we’re raising money for: mastering, manufacturing, and paying Michael for his participation.
You can make this 12” a reality.
If you like the tracks, hopefully you’ll go to the Kickstarter page and chip in three dollars. Or even more, ’cause there are some cool premiums that you can pledge for.
Whatever you give, you’re supporting art — and that’s super-cool of you!
About the release: 150 gram custom color vinyl (yellow with black flakes) in a limited edition of 500. Color album jacket and b&w lyric sheet. Kickstarter pledge copies will be signed by Sam and Michael.
The track “bike shop/absolute zero” will be included on the spring 2016 Black Tape For A Blue Girl album, these fleeting moments; the other three tracks are exclusive to this release (though I’m thinking of working with my female vocalist on an album version of “she’s gone”.)
These fleeting moments is a return to the ethereal darkwave/darkAmbient sound of the early 90s Blacktape CDs. The tracks on the EP are a bit of an anomaly from the others I am recording; these are sparse and sensitive acoustic guitar pieces with Michael’s vocals.
Hi there. An update from Black Tape For A Blue Girl:
As you might know, I have a Patreon page for my music. Patreon is a crowdfunding site where you can pledge monthly support. To date, 96 patrons are donating $683 to assist my creations.
In emails back and forth with patrons, I often see comments like, “Just wanted to say I’m here mostly to support you and the music you make, rather than the goodies, but they’re definitely a plus.” Or “I honestly support just because I want to, as a thank you for the music that I have loved for years, and as an investment in future music from you.”
It is so cool that you like what I do and want to be there for me. Thanks.
There is stuff you get in exchange for your support. At the $5 level, you get two free download albums from the band’s catalog. At $10, you also get a hand-written lyric. And all patrons have exclusive access to my music as I’m creating it.
This month, I’ve uploaded a 15 track collection of out-takes from the last year in the studio. It’s doubtful any of it will make it to the new album, but perhaps you’ll find a hidden gem that you love! (The 2nd half of this message is more information on the download).
If you’d like to hear this music, join my Patreon. Everyone who joins this week will get the June 2015 package , even though you haven’t been charged anything. Patreon charges your credit card once a month around the first.
I’ll also throw in the May package with the first draft of the new album in progress
The Kickstarter for MONOLITH (the electronic space-music album from my solo-project As Lonely As Dave Bowman) was a success; it reached 150% of the goal. It is now in production at the 3 different plants involved. The plan is to be complete in time or earlier than the July release date. There will be some additional copies available from the Projekt webstore.
The Blacktape Bandcamp page has all our albums and my side projects available. Some as low as free, few as expensive as iTunes. Give it a listen, you can stream most tracks. Or purchase something.
I’ve mentioned that 2015 is the year I get back to making music; I’m really active with that and I appreciate that you help make it happen.
PS: I shot the photo on the cover of the June package this weekend. Check out more from the set here on my photo website. These are glamour / portrait shots – nothing naked on this page. But be warned that some of the links on the page goes to NOT SAFE FOR WORK images. Be careful with the clicky-click at work or if your partner doesn’t care for that kind of thing.
Information on the download:
June 2015 – Album Deitrus
I was asking myself, “What is the most embarrassing thing for me as a songwriter and artist?” I think the answer is, “my failures.” Which is to say, all the little bits of Black tape for a blue girl music I try to create, don’t like and discard.
Honestly, the really really bad stuff never even gets recorded. I’ll play around with an idea for 30 minutes and then go, “Nope, that’s awful!” and move on to something else.
This weekend I saw Paul Barker (ex-Ministry) record a live podcast interview (at a theatre here in Portland, following a movie about the early UK industrial music scene.) Paul said something I’ve also expressed: when you’re working on music, you get really focused on what you need the piece to achieve; if it’s not up to that high level, you toss it. But sometimes you come back years later and realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.
I would add that artists get overly obsessive-compulsive during this process, a bit manic or depressive (based on their personality), and we lose sight of the trees for the forest. Making art is a lot like falling in love: it’s irrational. You don’t see reality, you begin to see what you want to – and need to – see. Perhaps when there are bandmates with equal creative control, you have others to balance the obsession? Working on your own, it’s just your own irrationality & obsession to base these decisions on. Of > course, this also explains bands that break-up over “creative differences.” If four or five people all start getting obsessed on different aspects of a song, it’s no wonder songwriting teams almost always explode. How long would you put up with Lou Reed, if you were John Cale? : )
Ok. Did I get off topic. I think I got off topic…. rewind… >I have 15 failures for you this month. Well, ok, I’m being melodramatic, maybe they aren’t that bad… but they are all bits of deitritus from the last year in the studio. Most of this music is listenable at least once. Some of it is repetitive because it’s backing instrumental tracks that would have had more added as time went on.
And who knows? You might absolutely love one of the pieces and find your own buried treasure within these 30 minutes of remains, remnants, fragments and scraps.
I am sure Ashes fans will enjoy the first track. I was trying to see if I could figure out the sequence from “I wish you could smile.” My notes from the 80s recording were rather cryptic. But I got it.
“2014_09 Icy Drone” could have been a track for the As Lonely As Dave Bowman Monuments (addendum) release. I forgot completely that I had recorded it; When I was compiling the bonus release, I kept thinking to myself, “Wasn’t there another song I planned to include?” Ooops!
I can’t say for sure that this stuff will never see the light of day, there’s always a possibility that something will re-spark my imagination and make it’s way onto the album. But my feeling is this all goes onto the rubbish heap of history.Do you have a favorite?
Post your comments and impressions on this Patreon post. Sam
Well, that was fun! We reached 145% of the goal. As with each previous Kickstarter, I learned many new things about how to run a Kickstarter! It was fun, though I’m also glad it’s done, so I can go back to my life of NOT promoting a Kickstarter! : )
I loved being able to give you the music (546 downloads at Bandcamp) at the same time as the CD funded. You might ask what’s the difference between giving the music away on Bandcamp versus it streaming for almost-free on Spotify (or free at a torrent). The difference is that we make a connection via Bandcamp and Kickstarter; it’s just a cold anonymous play on Spotify. I like the connection. Going all the way back to “we return” on the rope, it’s always been about connection.
Now the next phase begins, getting the pieces into production. The scheduled ship date is July, but I do expect it will be done before then. All pieces will ship at the same time.
Thanks again, Sam