I was interviewed by Patrick of Mapanare. His article is here, he only had room for about 25% of what we talked about, so I am posting the rest for you.
1- Tell me about the new project, musically and thematically where is it coming from?
These fleeting moments is the new album. I’m Kickstarting the deluxe-CD and double-lp; a standard edition will be in stores August 12th. It’s been a long time since the last Black Tape For A Blue Girl CD, it was 2009. For this one, musically I decided to make an album that goes back and touches upon the band’s 90s sound. The ethereal, gothic, heavenly voices sound. Plus more instrumentals than on the last few releases. I’ve been doing a lot more crowdfunding over the last few years, and this choice is somewhat inspired by what I’m hearing from the people who support my music: the aspect of the band they are really excited about. But it also just feels right to me at this moment. 10 Neurotics was pretty much as far as I could go in writing melodic, concise songs. I wanted to go back and create textural, moody, expansive music, with lyrics.
What makes it work so well for me is Oscar is singing again. He was the band’s vocalist for the first 13 years, 7 releases. I really love his voice singing my lyrics. Having him involved let me go to places as a songwriter I haven’t been in a while. His daughter Dani sings the female vocals, and their voices work nicely together, and she does a wonderful job on the songs I wrote for her to sing solo. Nick is playing viola. Brian Viglione is the only other band member who comes along from 10 Neurotics; he’s also the drummer in the Dresden Dolls.
Like Remnants of a deeper purity, I tried to stick with a “core band” on this release. To give it more of a cohesive feeling. There are a few guests who capture certain sounds I was looking to add. Chase plays great electric guitar + bass on “Limitless,” which is the catchiest track on the album; the lyrics are philosophical questions dealing with living to our fullest potential. The album explored those sorts of themes that we all ask ourself as we get to the mid-point in our life.
2- What led you to go the crowdfunding route? What attracted you to the model?
The music business has changed so drastically since the 80s and 90s. As an artist, I need to change with the landscape and figure out what works to allow me to keep making art, and connect with the people who really care about what I create. Crowdfunding is ideal for that. For example, sometimes I ask Kickstarter pledgers how they discovered the band. And often it’s some variation of, “Oh, I remember your music from the 90s. I didn’t even know you were still around. This is cool that I can help out.” It’s very much a personal connection to a few people who really care about my music. Yes, Fleeting will be out there on Spotify and youTube, and will be heard by the most people that way. But in order to bring in the funding necessary to record and pay my band, I need something more direct then just the royalties that might be earned down the road from sales. Because you and I both know where sales are at these days.
3- Are you planning additional “stretch goals” – should people keep coming back to your Kickstarter to check out? (I mean after the pledge of course!).
Sure, I have a few stretch goals for this release. Assuming it funds, there’s a CD of extra tracks as the first one, color vinyl as the next one. I like the idea of being able to make the release even more deluxe, after the initial goal has been reached. I’ve added some new premiums and will probably have some add-ons at the end.
4- You’ve been making music for a long time—What is the same and what is different when you create?
Yeah, 2016 is the 30th anniversary of Black Tape For A Blue Girl, and I was making music for 3 years before that. It has been a long while (laughs).
I think the biggest difference on the musical side is over the last couple years I have been very prolific, starting (and scrapping) a lot of songs before settling on the ones that are on the album. I guess I feel I’m a lot better at creating music vs back in the early days. I’m not saying one era is better than the other because of that, just that it’s not as much of a struggle to get the sound I want now. That makes it all a lot more fun for me. Of course, there’s still all the angsty parts about recording. Like writing and rewriting lyrics until I feel they are good enough to present to the singers. And doing the mixes and getting OCD and tweaking miniscule level changes on the word “memories” that nobody will ever notice anyway. Digital recording makes small changes a lot easier, but it’s still stressful and makes me both excited and annoyed at the same time. In the end, it turns out beautifully and I enjoy the music. But the process is sort of a love/hate relationship at times.
5-Any plans to play shows with this new music?
Honestly, I don’t think so. What I really want to do is keep making music. Getting geared up to play is a big time suck; we only have so much time in the day, right? I have to ask myself where I want to direct my energy. And playing live is not third or even fourth on my list. I do enjoy playing live, it’s fun to go out and meet people, but it also has a lot of tedious aspects. And ultimately, I don’t feel right asking band members to perform my music, when I’m not able to fairly pay them for their time. I’d rather go in and work on new songs, and keep moving forwards on the music.
6- You mentioned it’s been seven years between releases from Blacktape. That seems like an unwise marketing strategy.
Oh yeah, I agree (laughs). It really wasn’t my intention to go that long after 10 Neurotics. One thing, then another. Like you, Pat, I’m a father. That definitely takes up a lot of my time; my son lives with me half the week. I wrote a novel. I moved across the country. I recorded an electronic album.
But a big source of the delay before I left Brooklyn in 2013 was an ongoing funk about the music business. I know many musicians who go through the same thing. They’re asking if there’s even a point anymore? I was just talking about this with somebody yesterday. They feel they were in their prime as an artist, and then the rug was pulled out from under them, as listeners switched to getting music for free. Yeah, I argued that argument, fought that battle, but then I realized I couldn’t change things. The war was already lost for those of us who measure success by units sold and dollars brought in. No matter how much I talk about artists needing to be respected and payed, things aren’t going back to the 90s where Blacktape could sell 10,000+ on each release. I realized that I create music to have it heard. I know that my music is getting a lot of play on streaming sites and through illegal downloads. And apparently even bootlegs in China. None of that makes my life easier, but it does tell me that what I’ve created is getting out there and getting heard.
I suspect the only thing worse then people stealing your music, is nobody stealing your music. That nobody cares about it.
But meh! I don’t even think of it as “stealing” anymore. It’s just the way things have evolved. It’s the new reality. Free is people’s favorite price point. Of course, money coming in from music is how I am able to keep doing it; so yeah, I still want to see income from my work. But I’ve accepted that all I can do is move forward within the environment that we have today. And look for the new ways to earn from my work. Such as my Patreon page, or crowdfunding…
Yah, ok. I got off the topic there. The long time between releases…. Nearly three years ago I settled in here in Portland. I had room for a home studio for the first time in eight years, I started working on music. Some of those first songs ended up on the album, as the instrumental section on the third side of the LP. I also met Nick, a great violist here in town. We worked together and I was able to conjure up some of that strings + electronics sound like on Chaos or Remnants. That spurred me along to work more in this direction.
Running a record company (Projekt) is good to stay away from having “a real job;” but ultimately, it’s my own music that people care about. And that’s where I’ve been putting my energy lately. The world is shaped however you are conceiving it; I decided to look at it in a way that encourages the things I want to exist.
And now my plan is to keep creating. To get a lot more consistant about releasing music. I had created my own downward spiral there for a while in the beginning of this decade. “Free music, bah! Nobody cares, why bother?!” But crowdfunding reconnected me with the people who care, and that motivated me to think about my art in new ways. A positive, and explorative way. And to make albums like this, again.
Thanks for letting me talk about this with you, Pat.