This month I’m not planning on writing anything huge. I’ve been extremely busy working on new music for Vi, so really I need to get back to it, but I will fill you in on what I’ve been accomplishing during the month of March. I’ve recently graduated to level four in my study of Liang Zhen Pu Baguazhang. I’ve also been keeping up with my Japanese language study on a daily basis–something that I let lapse last year. I need to continue staying vigilant in an effort to maintain my consistency with this. I’m currently still at a very elementary level but I’m starting to understand basic grammar. I just started prepositions this week. I also learned that Japanese is an agglutinative language. I’ve been pulling triggers in terms of the late gender transition game as well, taking care of various last minute consultations and long drives into Phoenix in order to tie up all my loose ends. I’m moving downtown next month which will afford me even greater opportunities for pursuing performing live. I would say the big thing that I’ve begun is a weekly stream which I’m calling “The Church of Satin” on Twitch. It’s been a really great experience for me so far. It’s something I always wanted to try. For the most part, it gives me a lot of time to schedule actual playtime so I’m not continuously fucking off by playing video games during the week. I have been slacking on my drawing lately–but the large majority of the time that I could’ve been spending on that has gone to writing music, so I can live with that trade off. I’ve been uploading some of my streams to my YouTube channel. I linked one of my latest streams below. I’m playing Yoko Taro’s crazy Drakengard 3.
Over the last month or so I’ve been trying to figure out the question of “what’s next?” It’s exciting to think about, as the possibilities are pretty endless, although it’s pretty clear to me that I won’t be climbing Mt. Everest anytime soon. I mean–I could, but I won’t. It doesn’t appeal to me.
Part of this “what’s next?” question ties in with figuring out which one of my personal endeavors I can hold myself absolutely accountable for. I need accountability in my life. It’s a personal assessment as to whether or not I’m making true progression. My work in Bagua has taught me the importance of making the things we hold ourselves accountable for as part of our regular scheduled programming.
So what’s next? Well–music is definitely on the menu. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a new project. Musicians always tend to do this. If existing projects don’t fit into or serve a very specific need to what we want to do our first response is, “let’s do a new project.” But why limit what a project can do? Yeah, they might have a specific sound to them, but if that sound isn’t as fun as it used to be it might be time to change it. I’ve decided against it for the time being.
I used to be a little more obsessive with making “serious” music. Growing up listening to Black Metal can do that to you, until you realize that the guys in Satyricon or Behemoth are just a bunch of practical jokers who have very good work ethics.
Over the summer I released a track called “Cat Party Baby.” Its been getting played regularly by a few DJs who appreciate the importance of cats and dancing.
I did a few things different with that song that I didn’t do before. I took a step away from preset sounds from my VSTs, instead I made a few of my own. Moving forward I think that this is an important practice, but shouldn’t always be pursued if it gets in the way of songwriting.
I made the switch back to Image-Line’s FL Studio. I still really love Logic, especially for recording actual instruments, but FL works better for electronic music–at least for me. I can also go back to using it anytime or ReWire it, or both. After using Logic for over four years it’s not like I’ll unlearn it.
I got to learn my way around Yamaha’s Vocaloid 4. Cyber Diva isn’t the perfect vocalist, but she’s definitely impressive for an artificial voice.
I still have lots to learn on the production front. As I’ve broken ground on the new Vi album, I’ve been able to work faster and more effectively. Details have become more important to me. I won’t really go into what that entails, but this includes a better understanding of how sounds work together, automation, velocity of notes, etc. etc. “Cat Party Baby” taught me that making a song’s structure simple, to the point, but with unique smaller details can be much more appealing to the ear than something that is difficult to follow. The way I wrote lyrics for “Cat Party…” was also different than I’ve done in the past. Simple stories with visual and relatable details and a few sexual innuendos makes for decent entertainment.
The weirdest thing about My experience writing “Cat Party…” was that I was actually having fun. I didn’t give a fuck if I was being serious, the more I wrote the lyrics and the song itself I literally kept saying to myself “this is ridiculous.” And it was.
As I begin accumulating new material for the new Vi album for 2017, I’m not going to worry about whether the songs fit into some preconceived vision of the future, but rather whether or not each song really gets me going. I want these songs to be fun. I want them to take me somewhere. The I’m making a departure again from the Neon Metal sound of “Singularity Now.” In retrospect, I think that album is good, but it doesn’t embody what I want out of the project yet. “Singularity Now” was extremely experimental for me. It was the first album that I recorded completely by myself without studio intervention. I did the best I could at the time, but it really shows. I’m going to do much better for 2017. The work goes ever on.
I wrote a song. I had fun writing it. Mew.
It’s been quite the year. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that I’m still writing on this blog. I’ve started and stopped so many blogs and websites over the years that I find it hard to believe I’ve actually stuck with it for an entire year. We’ll see if I make it through another one! Self-discipline is heroic!
(Below is my victory dance)!
I figured today would be as good as any to write out a list of some of the awesome shit I did this year. To be honest, I would say this was probably the most memorable year of my life, and here I thought 2012 was the pinnacle! It just goes to show you how surprising life can be.
- I read more books this year than I’ve read any other year of my life. A few of the highlights include: Harry Browne’s “How I Became Free in an Unfree World,” Anton LaVey’s “The Compleat Witch,” Taylor Ellwood’s “Pop Culture Magick,” and Ouspensky’s “The Psychology of Man’s Evolution.”
- I got into listening to podcasts. I fucking love Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. His World War I podcast is a masterpiece. Radiolab’s podcasts are short and sweet, and packed full of interesting conversation starters. Joe Rogan’s podcast is interesting too–but that’s a sometimes food.
- I traveled to Spain. Beautiful country. I want to live there! Marbella is basically one of my favorite spots in the universe.
- I had a crazy twelve hour surgical procedure on my skull to soften it up in order to become more passable as a woman. So far, so good!
- I moved from the east coast to the west coast. West coast best coast!
- Traveled all over the U.S. Spent a fuckload of time in Dallas Airport. I would say it became my second home this year.
- Went to South Carolina in a hurricane, with floods everywhere. That was fun. And underwhelming. Ain’t nothing but a thing!
- Played a lot of different games this year. My favorites include: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fallout 4, Wonder Project J2, Knuckles Chaotix, and Magician Lord.
- While we’re on the video game subject we setup the ultimate retro setup in my self-improvement chamber. We have everything! NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, 32X, Sega Saturn, N64, PSX, PS2, Dreamcast etc. It’s pretty awesome having access to every old school game that we grew up with.
- I released an album and an EP amidst all the crazy that was 2015: http://gothicelectric.bandcamp.com http://starseatworlds.bandcamp.com
- I got a drum set! Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhhh. It’s about time. Now I can truly be a one woman band!
- I started doing karaoke regularly.
- I started watching anime, and loving it. Some of my favorites from this year were Shimoneta, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and One Punch Man.
- I finally watched Neon Genesis Evangelion. I also started watching Ranma 1/2. Needless to say I’m in love.
- I journaled more than I ever have this year. I’m a badass note taker. No, you can’t copy off of my notes!
- I finally got my own place that wasn’t shared with roommates. Am I sovereign yet mom?
- I finally got around to watching Game of Thrones. The Red Wedding was pretty awesome, the Purple Wedding was even better. Arya Stark is my favorite!
- Learned a lot more Japanese than I did last year. I’m doing this very casually. I could probably be a little more heroic about learning it faster.
- I cut out Facebook from my life. This wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
- I turned thirty. Thirty is a club. For those of you still in your twenties you’ll see what I mean when you get your membership card in the mail.
- I got a brand new kitten. She’s wonderful in every single way!
I’m going to first start off by saying that over the last month I have been completely consumed by a project that needed to get done. I decided to buckle down and reduce my social media intake for the by 100% during this time. The result was putting the finishing touches on my Neon Metal project Virtual Intelligence’s “Singularity Now: The Future Worlds of Yesterday” album. It’s been over two years since I last released a new album so I felt it was time to get up off my ass and finish cranking it out.
What is Neon Metal?
A postmodern fusion of science fiction/future oriented electronica and symphonic metal. The process of writing Neon Metal begins either on a piano and/or in a digital audio workstation and adds additional live instruments after that first step. I chose the word “Neon” to describe Vi’s brand of metal as it is often paired with the cyberpunk genre of fiction.
Other bands and musicians have touched on this concept in the past. Pretty Maids’ song “Future World” and The Kovenant’s “Nexus Polaris” and “Animatronic albums come to mind as possible sources of inspiration for this–but in an effort to zero in on exactly what my music embodies I needed to find a term that can help to classify what I’m doing musically with Vi. I’ve always had a difficult time describing my music with Virtual Intelligence to listeners. I originally framed it to be an electronic only project, but after completing work on my “f AI t h” album in 2013 I began to feel as if adding a metal element would be beneficial to the overall feel of the music. I already had certain elements from Black Metal in my music, but it felt like something was still missing.
Make no mistake–Neon Metal is metal first and foremost. While Neon Metal may have elements of EBM or electronic dance music, trance, and sometimes no guitars at all, songs are written with a proclivity for arranging songs in a metal sense. As someone who grew up listening to the likes of Malice Mizer, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, Darkthrone, The Kovenant, Kraftwerk, and Sisters of Mercy writing songs in this way makes the most sense to me.
To see more about Virtual Intelligence pop on over to gothicelectric.bandcamp.com to give a listen to our mini album “Interface to God” and our first album “f AI t h.” There are also more details about our latest album “Singularity Now: The Future Worlds of Yesterday” arriving on 10/16.
For an extended biography, photos, and other jazz head on over to www.gothicelectric.com
It may come of some surprise but I also happen to write music. Here’s something new I just did. If you like the idea of Lovecraftian Surfer Metal in a Black Metal vein check it out. It’s called Stars Eat Worlds.
Art by Gragoth:
Little evil me.
I’m tired of being pure.
I wanna be bad.