Finding the Focal Point

I know. It’s been quiet around here lately. Well, here’s a real long post to bring anyone who cares up to date. There are a bunch of reasons for my absence, some happy, some not so happy. I’ll start with not-so-happy and work my way up.

My computer is trying to destroy me by destroying itself. It started out with unexpectedly shutting off at random intervals (and you’ll notice that I didn’t say “shutting down.” This is like, computer on…me working…blink…computer off…work gone). Then, about a month ago, one of the drives starting losing files. Audio files. Audio files from the work I’ve been doing over the past two years. Luckily (and ever so responsibly), I had recently performed a backup. Unluckily, when I restored the drive from the backup I discovered that files were missing from the backup as well. I tried for several days to recover the files, to no avail. They’re just gone. I do have almost all of the final mixes as wav files…but not all.

The manufacturer (MusicXPC) told me to purchase and install a new power supply (naturally, the warranty had expired a couple months earlier), which I did a few days ago, but I’m still having the same problems. The bottom line is that I haven’t been doing any recording for about a month and will continue to hold off until I figure out what to do next (either continue troubleshooting this computer or drop a large chunk of cash that I don’t really have on a new one). I have, however, been doing a good bit of writing, so there will be a backlog of material to record when I work out my techno-woes.

That’s the not-so-happy. Okay…the unhappy. The extra-sucky-suck-suck-unhappy.

So that’s out of the way. The good stuff starts here: I’ve realized that what I really want to do, what I really need to do, is be a performing musician. I’ve let my focus change to trying to make a living by licensing instrumental music for film/TV/etc., but I’ve finally come to the understanding that I was really doing that because it seemed more realistic, feasible to make a living, less risky. I mean, I do enjoy writing that stuff too, but ultimately I was going there out of the fear that what I really want — to be a performing musician, with a band, on stage, recording in a studio, selling albums, having fans — is unrealistic, childish or impossible. The fear that I would fail.

But I’ve realized that if I don’t try, don’t go for it 100 percent, then one day I will look back and I will not forgive myself for giving up. Making this decision has reverberated into all aspects of my life. I’ve felt more optimistic in general, stronger and happier with myself. And of course it has affected what I’ve been doing with music.

First of all, I’m building a new The Hard Parts from scratch. I let the band dissolve when the drummer left back in March, but I’ve been advertising for new bandmates. I learned a lot about leading a band the first time around and think it’s going to be a leap forward this time. For one thing, I’m giving more emphasis to choosing the right personalities this time, not just the musicians. I hope we will be rocking empty rooms on weeknights in New York City’s diviest bars real soon.

Second, I’m putting together an album of music I’ve done in the past two years. This has been an exciting process for me because, up until recently, I’ve felt that the music on The Circles, which I released almost two years ago, was overall better than what I’ve done since. Now that I’m in the process of deciding what will and will not make the cut for this album, putting it in order, and listening to it as a whole, my feeling has changed. Hearing it all together, I realize that my musical voice has changed a whole lot. I might even say that I found my voice for the first time. When I was writing and recording The Circles, I was much more conscious of and concerned with how I was sounding. I was more deliberate in choosing who I wanted to sound like: Brian Eno. Kraftwerk. The High Llamas. I’m still very proud of that album and I think my voice did come through, but it’s been different since then.

I’ve been less concerned with who I sound like. I’ve been less concerned with being “artistic” and more concerned with being free enough to write from the heart. I’ve stopped treating every little note and every little song like it’s so precious and tried to just put it all out there — finish the song and worry about if it’s any good later. Yes, there have been growing pains. Yes, there has been crap. For sure. But now that I’ve edited down to the best stuff, I find that I’m really proud of the work I’ve done. It’s different, yes. But it’s also good. It’s even — dare I say it — better. I like it better than The Circles.

This album includes material that I recorded with The Hard Parts v1.0 and material I recorded on my own. It will be released as the first The Hard Parts album and is tentatively titled The Hard Parts Pop Up. I expect it to be available sometime in the next couple of months.

Along the same lines, I have also decided that most of my music in the future will be released as The Hard Parts. This is because I have found it problematic to promote two separate projects (The Hard Parts and Jordan Yaruss) with a whole lot of overlap. As part of an ongoing effort to focus, focus, focus, I think it makes a lot more sense to have one “band” for all my music. Eventually, the roles and possibly the designs of and will change, but I’m not exactly sure how yet. Probably, will become a bit more of a personal website with less audio. Maybe the “bonus track” demo kind of stuff will be here while more complete “album tracks” will go on I’ll get to that once the album is done. At the moment, the priorities are sorting out my computer situation, the new album, the new band, and writing new material.

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