Only Snacks (Only Black parody)

It’s been a running joke between me and the Charlottesville goth scene that I should record a parody version of Only Black and make it about being really hungry. It all started in an IHOP after my album release concert for The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds. DJ Pat Sixtwosix made some comment about “Pancakes hit me like a heavy dose” and the puns on my lyrics kept coming.

Now I’ve finally made this silly thing 😂

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Plans For New Purge Material & Some Deep Reflections On My Summer

TLDR Version: The new Purge album will be released one song at a time, starting in October. Each single will be released in the order they will appear on the album and the final song will be the title track. Each single will be released roughly every 2-3 months. Each release will also have at least one remix or bonus track alongside it whenever possible (with the album’s one cover song being a possible exception; I might wipe that one after the whole album is released to avoid double paying the mechanical royalty maintenance so I don’t think I want to attach extra stuff to that release). I’m pacing this so the album’s final reveal will be around February or March of 2020.

I’ve had a very exciting summer…

The Purge, since I started it, has always been about exploring really personal and painful things for me. Sometimes it comes from a genuinely reflective place, and I think one of the reasons why I’ve been so proud of The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds is because, at least in terms of where my lyrics are coming from, there’s a balance between a state of tough reflection and being caught in the pull of urgent emotion. In songs like Faith & Trust, The Danse, Something That Isn’t Me, and What’s Best Is Best, I found myself taking a really scrutinizing gaze on myself and trying to name the patterns and impulses I’ve developed over my life. But it also has songs like Only Black, It’s a Bad Idea, and A Pain That I’m Used To on there. Those were songs that I produced very urgently in, or right after, a moment of overwhelming emotion.

It’s not a secret that I was in a relationship for 7 years that disintegrated and then ended very painfully. At the time I am writing this, I just began a real therapy option for the first time since everything happened and it’s a big deal to me that I’m doing this.

All last year I’d pretty much thrown my overflow of emotional distress into rehearsing and performing shows. It provided a really great outlet for me (trust me, there’s often a lot to feel upset about at the end of the day when you work in Education) and I think it will continue to be and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me using it that way. But by itself, I’m not sure if it’s enough to get me where I think I can start feeling okay with my life.

I’ve needed to talk to people about some of the things that have happened to me and what I’m going through. Unfortunately, and this is coming to me right now as I reflect and write this, I feel as though one of the more unhealthy relationship patterns in my life is that I almost always try to reach out to the wrong people at the wrong times. Some of my Faith & Trust lyrics are coming back to me with different connotations right now, actually (songs sometimes tell us different things at different times; that’s partly why I use my abstract and blurry aesthetic with The Purge artwork). Point is, I’ve needed professional help for a long time, have opted to look for help in almost exclusively the wrong places without it, sometimes entered into really toxic situations or sabotaged otherwise healthy relationships because of that, and I’m about to start getting better help (like, literally. My first go at this therapy thing is through BetterHelp).

And so that brings me to what my summer has been like. I actually finished enough material for a new Purge album and it’s strong. I even have the track listing settled in now. It’s 9 songs and, with maybe one exception, they’re all more urgent and “in the moment” sounding than what I did with The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds. I’ve listened to it in its current form probably well over a dozen times now and, now that much of the excitement in my life has started to resolve and I’m genuinely reflecting, I’m shocked by how carried away I let myself get (“Carried Away” is one of the songs, actually).

With my career as a teacher about to go into overdrive when the summer ends, I’m really concerned about how much time I’ll have to actually write new material over next year. As excited as I was by the idea of releasing three albums in one year (my industrial side project, Nur Black, has an album release scheduled for the 21st and a big show in Charlottesville VA planned that night and you should totally come if you’re close *wink wink*), I’m realizing that maybe that was just another part of how much I was losing control of myself in the moment.

 

Appeal Of The Void Album ALT Front

I don’t think I’m doing myself any favors by rushing this thing out now and trying to promote, yet another, album while starting my teaching career in full swing. It honestly wouldn’t be fair to The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds. Those songs still have a lot to teach me and they need time to breathe. *I* need to make time for myself to breath. The fact that I was so eager to do all that to myself has me concerned, actually (again, starting therapy).

I don’t want to feel like I’m sitting on this stuff forever though, and, given that I might not be songwriting as much until next summer (if I can tour like I ought to then maybe I still won’t be then), I’m planning to release the new album piece by piece. I think I need to do this for me.

So for each song, I’m planning on writing a personal essay to go with it for my blog. This will also give me almost 9 times as many opportunities to have fun with this photography style I’ve been using for my artwork (I like zooming in and taking macro shots of things with my phone and then abstracting them with blur and desaturation for most of my album art).

I produced this next album so fast it’s actually kind of ridiculous to me and I was really lost in myself while I did it. The first song I finished was a cover with Samantha Darkly (I think she’s starting a new project called Darkhouse now) and I just looked up the date on the selfie we took after recording it and realized that was only 5 weeks ago. This means I wrote, produced, and finished almost two songs every week and had an album ready. While I felt like the act of finishing The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds was, in and of itself, a very self-reflective act, this new album just isn’t that at all.

I’d made a post about dropping a single on the 31st. I need to dial things back and not do that. I’m going to wait until October to start rolling these songs out (hard to be a goth artist and not do something special in October). I tried to listen to the album again the morning before I started writing this and I felt, with some horror, that I maybe didn’t know who was singing these lyrics.

It’s really important to me that I give myself some emotional distance from this work because it burns to the touch right now. I need to explore the songs and explain them to myself before I just put it all out there and start playing them.

I’m going to try and roll these out kind of slowly because I’d like for next summer to be the time when I hit the road to try and get The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds into some new ears & hands, and I like the idea of spicing things up with a remix or two to go with each release when I can actually make that happen (hit me up if you’re into doing one). My plan is to pace this out with a new single every 2 months or so. At that rate, with October being my first release, it means the whole album will be fully revealed around February or March of 2020. Maybe that sounds like a really long time away, but I’ll get to do something interesting every few months and  it sets me up pretty well to spend the summer after next promoting a full Purge release.

So yeah, if you read all of that, thank you and I appreciate you.

I’ve had a very exciting summer.

The Purge - Faces Logo

A12 (August 12th, 2017)

(I originally wrote this as a Facebook post on my personal page as a profile picture update and regular status update. At the time I’m publishing this, between the two posts,  the message has been been shared over 50 times and seems to have struck a chord with my friends in Charlottesville so I’m brave enough to publish it here for posterity now too)

*trigger warning: This post contains, what some might consider, a graphic retelling of the events from Charlottesville on August 12th, 2017. This is mostly written for people who weren’t there, so if you were then take into consideration that it may bring back painful memories before reading it straight through.*

If you were tuning out the news around this time last year and didn’t hear about what happened in Charlottesville, that’s probably fair. There’s a lot of crazy stuff out there on the internet these days and it’s easy to ignore provocatively headlined click bait (you’re probably better off if you do, honestly).

So, if you didn’t look into it, or if you were skeptical when you scrolled by something that said, or heard someone say, that three people died after roughly 500 Nazis and Klansmen descended on some city in Virginia last year then I can’t blame you too much. It really does sound too ridiculous to believe.

It actually happened, though (multiple links from various sources at the bottom of the post).
I’ve made a lot of friends in Charlottesville over the last year and, while I’d known about the “alt-right” movement for a while before there was actually a rally there, it wasn’t until I made those connections that I really appreciated how deep the scars from the “Unite The Right Rally” were.

There’s a reason why I put “alt-right” in air quotes up there, by the way. If you’ve not looked into it before, that term might sound like you’d use it to describe edgy millennials who maybe feel strongly that federal taxes are too high or that entitlement programs dissolve the spirit of meritocracy. You know, people who you may or may not have a strong difference of opinion with on a particular issue but could still, probably, be comfortable holding a philosophical debate with, ultimately agreeing to disagree, and then moving on.

You would be wrong for thinking that though, and that’s an intentional branding maneuver of the term “alt-right” to pacify outrage.

I might sound hyperbolic here, (I promise I’m not and I’ll link an interview with Richard Spencer at the end so you can hear it for yourself if you want), but that term represents those who support a “white Ethno-State” in America.

In other words, they want an American government that segregates people who aren’t white, prohibits immigration of people who aren’t white, and are, at best, pretty vague about what to do with people who aren’t white but already live here.

If that sounds like it is, or is just close enough to being, neo-Nazi or KKK hate speech to you, that’s because it should.

So, please, if you’re still with me, imagine roughly *500* people who believe that kind of thing, as well as openly identifying neo-Nazis and KKK members, are marching through your town; Not just what you imagine a place like Charlottesville to look like, I really want you to imagine your town.

Now, imagine they are marching through your town.

They are marching by the job you or your husband or wife work at. They are marching by the park you take your children to. They are marching by your favorite restaurant or coffee spot or bar. They lift signs with racist and anti-semetic slogans and they chant those slogans in loud unison and with uncanny conviction. They wave Nazi & Confederate flags and they brandish knives, clubs, and shields.

Now imagine that the police aren’t trying to stop them.

Now imagine that roughly twice that many people (many of whom are your friends, coworkers, associates, neighbors) are there standing up against the hatred. They’re there to declare that that kind of thinking, perhaps aside from a cautionary history on how inhumanity and atrocity is bred, deserves no serious discussion in our society (it doesn’t). Some of them have come prepared to protect you and your family and your town (if necessary). There are brawls in the street and chaos is erupting.

Now, imagine the police are, finally, called in to try and quell the erupting chaos but now it’s too late.

There is panic and rioting through your town, outside your or your husband’s or your wife’s job, by the park you take your children to, by your favorite restaurant or coffee stop or bar.

Now imagine that a helicopter crashes in the distance and, in your town, a silver car ploughs through a line of people (many of whom are your friends, coworkers, associates, neighbors).

One person dies and 19 are seriously injured. Imagine that you knew one of the people who were hurt.

Now imagine that you knew the person who died.

Now imagine that the President makes a statement. He has an opportunity to explicitly condemn racism in our modern age and to show solidarity with the people who stood up against it and who stood up to protect you, your family, and your town (many of whom were your friends, co-workers, associates, neighbors).

Now imagine that he doesn’t.

You still live in your town. It doesn’t feel the same way anymore. You remember what you saw, what you heard, where you ran, where you tried to stay safe. It’s been almost a year and the anniversary of it all is a few days away.

Now imagine that some meaningful amount of those same 500 people, perhaps new ones too, with the same hate in their hearts and their ideas and their voices, want to come back to your town.

Now, how do you feel?

We live in really troubled times and it can feel like everywhere you look there’s a new thing to be upset about, but this is one of those things where I think awareness is really important. Today the governor preemptively declared Charlottesville under a state of emergency for the upcoming anniversary and I’m really concerned for my friends, but I’m also very concerned about a world where ideas like those expressed by Richard Spencer and other forms of hate speech are taken seriously by some.

If you are the parent of, or if you work closely with young and potentially impressionable people, this is especially important. Please read or watch or listen about what happened last year in Charlottesville. Please try to have a potentially awkward conversation with a child or young adult in your life about what’s going on. If they’re using the internet, try to explain to them how to identify if they’ve stumbled upon hate-speech or propaganda. Expose them to other cultures when and where you can, and remind them to look for the common humanity in people. Arm them with experience and compassion so that they might read through the fallacies and fears and false assumptions of far-right extremism. Encourage them to learn another language so they might experience the frustration of not being able to say what they mean to a new person (you don’t even necessarily have to travel for this anymore if you have internet access) and can translate that experience into empathy and love for others who are different.

You shouldn’t have ever needed to do any of those things to help prevent the spread of fascist ideas in America in a post Holocaust world, but here we are, and it looks like it might need to be done.

If you’re just reading this somewhere that’s a safe distance away from Charlottesville or DC, please consider researching what happened further and sharing this.

If you’re reading this and you’re in those areas right now, I love you and be careful.

Please watch this documentary about the philosophies of the alt-right and what happened in Charlottesville and review any of the other links I referenced:
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/documenting-hate-charlottesville/


*some links to what happened in Charlottesville last year from various other sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40912509
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/08/12/emergency-declared-ahead-unite-right-rally-in-virginia.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/torch-wielding-white-supremacists-march-university-virginia-n792021

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/12/542982015/home-to-university-of-virginia-prepares-for-violence-at-white-nationalist-rally

https://abcnews.go.com/US/unite-rally-virginia-sparks-counterprotests-state-emergency/story?id=49176243

https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-white-nationalists-rally/index.html

*trigger warning* Link to Richard Spencer’s interview and some of the radical ideals that inform the “alt-right.” https://www.npr.org/2016/11/17/502476139/were-not-going-away-alt-right-leader-on-voice-in-trump-administration

 

New Purge Album Coming & Nur Black Kickstarter Success!

Check out the YouTube video here and subscribe to my channel ❤

Highlights from video:

  • Music written for a new Purge album; I was going to make an extra small and loosely arranged release but I was really inspired and I feel like what I have functions with a strong theme.
  • I have cool people making remixes still and I might use them for a smaller release next year but I still haven’t decided.
  • My Nur Black Kickstarter was a success!
  • I’m going to make my original Nur Black shirt design unique to the Kickstarter and fulfill those backer pledges and use the money to get a different design professionally done.
  • I have shows coming up as both The Purge & Nur Black. My live page on this website has been updated to reflect that. Check ’em out ❤

Nur Black – “Appeal of the Void”

I just launched a Kickstarter campaign late Saturday afternoon to support the debut album from my side-project Nur Black. Click here to go right to it or keep reading if you want to know how I feel like it relates to The Purge.

This album relates to The Purge in a special way because almost all of the music was written and recorded before I began work on The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds.

This has meant that, for me, this Nur Black album feels more like a spiritual prequel to that Purge album even though I’m releasing it five months later. Where, for me anyway, The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds is an album that functioned as a direct attempt to heal and reflect on all the emotional fallout of a very committed long-term relationship falling apart, going back to finish Appeal of the Void has been a lot more like directly confronting the pain I was feeling, but pushed aside, while I was doing everything I knew how in order to keep that relationship together and failing.

There are some larger themes at work, like what it means that we humans have this bizarre death instinct that sometimes pops into our thoughts (which is actually normal, btw, if you’re reading this and nobody has ever told you that before), but what made working on this album so particularly difficult and important for me is how much I really had to confront where my head (and heart) was at between now and roughly two years ago.

Appeal Of The Void Album Back

Of course, that has so much to do with the process of actually writing/mixing it for me, and the music can mean pretty much whatever it needs to mean for you!

Now that it’s done, I’m super excited for my next moves. Those largely involve booking more shows with both projects and writing new material for The Purge ❤

Skip to the roughly 3:50 mark of the Kickstarter video to hear teasers of all 11 tracks from the Nur Black album and see how you feel about them!

I hope you’ll share the news with your friends on social media and irl, and I hope you’ll consider making a contribution to this project.

Peace.

Album Review – “Dopamine Noir” by Pain In The Yeahs

Pain In The Yeah’s “Dopamine Noir,” was released in February, 2018, but many of the songs on this album have stayed with me and made me want revisit it multiple times and finally write this review.

There’s a lot of music out there about wild nights and living like there’s no regret, and then there’s Dopamine Noir. The album opens with a deep breath and hectic hi-hats on I Got Sick, a song that could soundtrack the blurred memory of my first house party where booze was involved (“I’m feeling like I don’t belong / I got sick”) and the energy crescendos all the way through All I Need Is Your Blood, a song that effectively made me feel as if I was being peer pressured into some sort of vampire-hipster hazing ritual.

But then this album does something very special. If the first three songs were intentionally crafted to weave a story of excess, bad decisions, and paranoia (and I suspect they might have been), Drinking With The Boys is that moment, late one night, when right before you try to sabotage an important relationship (again), it dawns on you that, maybe, too many of your problems are because of avoidable lifestyle choices and you can finally admit that you’re “Tired of bars/Tired of shows/Tired of d-d-drinking with the boys.”

While Drinking With The Boys is my favorite song (the chorus has become sort of an anthem of empowerment and empathy for me), Sick On A Sunny Day is also excellent and is perfectly placed right after it as, what sounds like, an enlightened hangover. James Wagner’s vocal sounds even more tired and sick than it does on the album’s opener and the instruments interrupt and almost stumble all over each other as the song progresses. It almost sounds like the drum machine is going haywire and the musicians haven’t even had their morning coffee yet, but if you listen closely, you realize that the craftsmanship and sonic storytelling here is extraordinary. Almost as if fed up with itself and its attempts at self-sabotage, the song tightens up near the end; the drums steady and a simple, but effective, synth melody hints towards some semblance of hope, resolve, and posture.

However, if there’s a narrative thread to be told on Dopamine Noir, it doesn’t end just there. The refrain of French Noir (“Well you might as well keep me around / and make excuses to come and see me”), the opening lines of Psychic Vampires (“…I don’t want you / and my body doesn’t want you / anymore than I do”), and the opening line of Exile On Colley Ave (“Hey, I know you hate me…”) suggest that resolving to avoid or abstain from destructive habits isn’t as simple as it sounds if your social life, and the people closest to you in it, can’t function the same way without them. If Drinking With The Boys and Sick On A Sunny Day are about recognizing a problem and resolving to correct it, these next three songs play like a tragic chronicle of the fallout from that decision.

The album ends with Flowers Will Wilt and Push Back The Touch, two slower and more atmospheric tracks that both sound, to me, like a hard and difficult farewell to toxic relationships with friends and, perhaps more importantly, to a toxic relationship with the self.

Only Black

I woke up this morning to stumble across an amazing video using my song, Only Black,” published on a YouTube channel by piperbrigadista. I was completely blown away by how well these visuals worked with my song and, after I wiped my tears away, immediately shared this on my social media. Huge thanks to Piper for sharing my music and for pairing it with such stunning visuals!

If you’re into this kind of music, definitely subscribe piperbrigadista’s YouTube channel to discover some other very cool acts, and if you’re feeling this video and the song, please feel free to share it around on your social media too!

“The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds” Release update

Now that “The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds is out, some really cool things have started to happen! Some of you have already started buying the album digitally or on CD and largely thanks to the support I’ve already started to get, I’ve been able to throw a little money at a limited T-Shirt run and I’ll also have Cassette tapes available in a month or two.

The best place to get these things will always be at shows if you can make it out, but merchandise is also available at http://www.thepurgeva.bandcamp.com so make sure to subscribe there or check back periodically as I come out with more stuff.

Below is a list of dates I’m currently confirmed to be playing live. Hope to see you at one of them!

April 13: Roanoke, VA. At The Front Row. (W/ Type Trauma)

April 17: Charlottesville, VA. At Goth Night. (Album Release Party rescheduled date)

April 22: Norfolk, VA. At Charlie’s American Cafe. (W/ Fad Nauseum, Unmaker, and Gothic Lizard)

May 12: Norfolk, VA. At 37th & Zen. (Live @ The Black Gala event by Aftermath: A Dark Revolution)

May 26: Chesapeake, VA. At Riffhouse Pub. (W/ The Cemetery Boys and Gothic Lizard)